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A Letter to Racine

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You probably are thinking, "Korey, you've been saying, 'so long' for SO LONG now that you should move already!"

That is true, and now as I am slowly packing up and transitioning out of different jobs and opportunities God has given me the honor of being a part of over the years, it's finally hitting me.

Yes! I am so excited for this new chapter, to marry my best friend and branch out into NEW opportunities, but I must also stop, reflect and thank God and the people of Racine Christian Church. Without this church and the grace of God, I wouldn't be IN church.

Thank you for showing me that even messy people can love God and serve His bride.

Thank you for giving me another family.

Thank you for letting me share different gifts God has given me.

Thank you for dealing with my weirdness.

Thank you for helping me love Jesus even more.

Thank you for your continued friendships.

Thank you for your support into this new journey.

Thank you.

 

Racine Christian Church has only been church to me for 5 years, but it is HOME. It is the place where God has shown up through the darkness and showed me signs of what He wants to do.

Seeing the growth of families... Seeing the children's wing getting close to being done... It makes me excited to keep hearing all about what God is doing and what He will do as you all reach the 37,000 people in the Newton county area who don't have a church home. That number is going to go down, I believe it!

What's next? Hannah and I will be getting married later this year and are praying for God to continue to show us His will and how to serve Him best. I have felt this tug on my heart the last year more and more to do something with children. They are a gift from The Kingdom and need good adults in their lives to lead them to Jesus so that they can start being Kingdom Workers now! We, as a couple, are excited to see what God does there.

So, thank you Racine Christian Church, for everything.

Love you all!

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Church

This may come across wrong. This may hurt feelings. But this is my heart. This is 3 years in the making.

“A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”

- Pauline Phillips

 

 

I am far from perfect, I am far from a saint. I heard this quote… A church is a hospital… But wow, I treated it like my palace growing up. All I’ve known my whole life is church. Actually, when I was a kid if you asked me what church was all about, I’d just point to the facts of it’s my life, it’s my religion, which in some cases isn’t wrong… It isn’t a bad thing… But where I was misled and where I didn’t see straight was the fact that through my eyes the church was PERFECT.

Newsflash! Spoiler alert! It isn’t.

In fact, it wasn’t until a little over 3 years ago, which is when my life changed, that I realized this.

You see, growing up as a minister’s kid I figured each and every leader in the church had it right. They knew all and had no wrongs. The words that came out of their mouth were ALWAYS the right answer. But the thing is… That’s not true.

In 2013, I started to finally realize this.

I had been at this church from the age of 3. It was my whole life and seemed like a peachy, all is great place. I always pictured when I was going through middle school what it would be like when I have my own family and the foundation we would leave there and what it would leave on us. It was exciting to think about! But 12th grade came… Reality hit: Leaders aren’t perfect. The church isn’t perfect.

My family was hurt badly by this church and some of the leaders in it. We left a place where we were backstabbed by people I considered to be like family, but sadly it wasn’t the case.

Because I only saw the church and its leaders growing up as perfect, I didn’t know how to react. My emotions were different day by day for months. It went from wanting to just bawl, to literally wanting to hide away in my sister’s basement and not talk to anyone… Which is what I did a lot for 6 months.

What I’m about to say is something I have not told many people at all, but this all threw me into a deep, dark spot. I was depressed. I lost hope in God and in people. I didn’t feel like I could trust anyone. Yes, I had my family and a few friends there as support and didn’t leave me or my family’s side, but I still shamelessly pushed everyone away for those 6 months.

I remember yelling outside to the sky at God many times saying, “Why would you ruin what was perfect? Why is this happening to ME?”

See? My head wasn’t on straight. I used the words “perfect” and “me” over and over again. I wanted God to feel bad for “me”.

I remember declaring to God that I was done with church, which in fact I didn’t go to any church in the area for that entire time. I told Him the last thing I would ever do is be a part of a church, meaning through attending or working at one.

Here’s the thing: I let people who I thought were perfect and who ended up hurting me and my family get to me. I didn’t put my trust in God when I should had from the very beginning. 

It wasn’t until December of 2013 when I started to finally realize God was making beauty out of ashes. He had a plan.

I had a friend who attended (and still does) this church out in the middle and I mean middle of nowhere, invite me to a Wednesday night. Of course, I was hesitant, because I had just become friends with this person and it involved the one word… Church.

I remember saying a prayer to God the evening before and Him literally pushing me to go. So I went. It was different…it wasn’t perfect, but it was like family there. I remember telling my parents that we should start going to this place. It was the first time I was truly excited in almost a year!

So we went to church the following Sunday and my excitement for people and for Jesus grew even more. The service wasn’t awesome like a concert, but it was FAMILY. I could tell right away that each leader in this church was not perfect, but they let you know their struggles and wanted to grow as well… That’s almost unheard of nowadays.

You see, this church, Racine Christian Church, is what God used to bring me back out of depression. It gave me a love for people again, which is funny, because the church is all about Loving God and Loving People. That’s their mission!

If it wasn’t for being backstabbed, I wouldn’t be with this family.

If it wasn’t for yelling at God and going through those tough 6 months, I wouldn’t be with this family.

If it wasn’t for a new friend reaching out to me, I wouldn’t be with this family.

The thing is, God uses the church. Man, it is so messed up, but that’s because a church is a hospital for sinners, which I am one of them.

I encourage whoever is reading this, if you’re in a depressed state right now… If you’re unsure of the trials you’re going through… If you’re having a hard time trusting the church, please know this: The church is the bride of Christ. You need the church. I need the church. We ALL need the church. Pray to God and have Him lead you to His bride.

Like I said at the beginning, this may hurt feelings, but that’s the beauty of being able to speak your mind and speak what’s on the heart. I know some who read this might not like it, but it’s what I feel and I’m thankful that I got to share my heart.

P.S,

When you say never to God, He’ll probably throw you right into it, because not only do I attend this amazing church at Racine, but I get the privilege to do Kingdom Work at it to help reach the 37,000 unchurched in the Newton area.

See? God truly makes beauty from ashes. Just be patient and listen to Him.

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

- Colossians 1:16-20

New York State of Mind

There truly is nothing like New York City. From the people, to man made skyscrapers that make you feel like you're being eaten alive, but yet it feels so right, to the smells... Pizza, hotdogs, the rich, the homeless, etc. and the most beautiful thing that caught my attention each and everyday: Opportunity. 

When I think of all the doors open to possibilities in New York, it reminds me of a quote by the name of Lloyd Christmas, "So you're saying there's a chance?". Yes! Chance. Possibility. Opportunity. It's all there.

I am beyond blessed that I got the chance...the opportunity to visit this grand place...the Big Apple! Did I meet Jimmy Fallon? No, but I made new friendships and memories to last a lifetime. Did I get to go to Hamilton The Musical? No, but I got to dance with a street performer who played the trumpet while tap dancing, then turned around and used his tips from that great talent to buy himself a Big Mac from McDonalds. What can beat that?

There are people everywhere! Transportation starts with a walk and ends with a subway ride home, but not without being greeted down under by a few rat friends. (They were sickly adorable)

That's just a little taste... "What could speak louder than words?" you may ask? Ha! Pictures of course... So let them tell the rest of the story! 

New York City... I could live there.

SuperStart! Fall Tour Recap

When I'm not filming or taking pictures now, I get the great opportunity to be a part of something that leaves a everlasting impact on the lives of thousands of preteen (4th-6th grade) students through CIY SuperStart!

If you aren't sure what SS is, it is a high-energy weekend event in which preteens can learn and grow in their relationships with friends, leaders and, most importantly, God. We just finished up touring around the country for the Fall tour, and I've really been reflecting on what God spoke to my heart so far through this experience:

1. Always have the spirit of wanting to learn and grow like a child.

Luke 18:16, "Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." 

Kids are truly one of the most precious things to God, I believe. When I read that verse and think over the thousands of faces I saw over the last few months, is that they truly WANT to learn and know the truth... Ah! The truth - which brings me to what our theme for SS Fall-Spring tour is: The Mysterious Truth. We've been trying to uncover what the truth really is. We connect the dots, and try to find where the right source for the truth is. You see, we live in a world where there are many voices and it's a very confusing time for kids to discover for themselves the facts of what is true and what the voice of God is. The thing I love about this tour is that when I started I thought I was helping these kids discover that the real and only truth comes from Jesus, but yet every single stop along the way, they taught me through their questions, worship and love for learning/having fun is that I should never stop asking. I should never think I know it all and am on cloud 9 with God, when really I need to daily pick up my cross, discover His truth over and over again, and have the heart of a child. Here's what it says on that topic after verse 16: Luke 18:17, "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

 

2. It's ok to have fun while talking about God!

If there is one thing that I really love deeply about SuperStart is that yes, we teach about God and we have serious times to pray and connect, but there are many FUN times along the way too! I am so thankful for a guy by the name of Mike Askins who I get to host Amp Up with. Amp Up is pretty much like its name! High Energy games, joke times, dance parties and so on to get the kids pumped before each SS session. I've known Mike for 5 years now and he is the definition of fun. He brings out the love of Christ and the kids, myself and many others look up to him for that, which brings me to number 3!

3. SuperStart has great leaders that God has appointed for a reason.

I am just a small piece to the bigger Kingdom puzzle serving, acting and teaching for SuperStart! SS would not be what it is today without the leadership of people like Patrick Snow and Drew Crisp. Their examples of picking up your cross and dying to self daily is evident on so many levels. They put so many months, days and hours into planning this weekend event for the thousands of preteens around the country, but the beauty of it all is that you clearly can see their hearts and know that none of it is for their glory, but to truly help these kids know the truth better or even hear about it for the first time so that they can be Kingdom Workers. Without their willing hearts to serve, SS would not be what it is today. And not to mention the other great people who serve through SuperStart if that's on stage, talking with students, tech crew, the lobby, production and so on. All these people do it for the same reason: To lift God high and teach His great TRUTH! 

I truly hope if you have a children's ministry and weren't able to make any of the Fall tour dates that you can come to one of our Spring tour stops if it's in your area! It is a life changer, and kids need to know this truth!

John 8:32

"If you hold to my teaching, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

 

For more information, visit ciy.com/superstart

Keona Elise Fine Art

I love art. I love my siblings.

It's always fun to get to hangout and do projects with my siblings. I always cherish that time with each of them. This time, I got to work with my sister, Keona on a series of pictures for her website that will be coming out soon for her business, "Keona Elise Fine Art". All my siblings are so creative and gifted.

This series of prints/paintings that she created is called, "Colorful Creatures"

Nashville

Nashville is beyond beautiful.

The music there is crazy awesome, but what I couldn't stop amiring and was pretty surprised by was the amount of creatives that did live there. Yes, music is stinkin' AWESOME, but it was so cool to meet people with the same likes and desires of myself when it comes to film and photography.

It was a fun trip with my sister, Keona and her husband, Gabe, whom are both VERY creative themselves (with, Keona who does art for a living and, Gabe who goes web/graphic designing for a living). I can't wait to go back!

(The photos of my sister in the hat were inspired by the very cold and foggy evening. It made Nashville feel like a mystery)

Longview and Friendship

I always love going back to Longview, TX - because for me, that's home.

I was born and raised there for the first few years of my life, and even though I may not have many memories from those days, I'm making up for them. Through that, my family bonded great friendships that have lasted many years that now I get to be a part of. These images are of Troy Bayne and his grand daughter, Sophie. Troy and his wife Judy have been friends with my parents for years now, and Troy has meant a lot to me in my life.

I wanted to capture a few snapshots of him playing with his grand daughter and dog in their backyard back in August just to say, "thank you" and also because these photos show that friendship goes beyond moving, long distance and new chapters in life.