Inspired (by Kristy Carlson)
Lately, I’ve been thinking about people who inspire me. Or … is “inspire” the right word? I mean, it’s one thing to admire a person; to really like something specific that they do, an idea they promote, or the person he or she is. I can easily admire someone and that’s the end of it. But to be inspired by someone? Inspiration is in a different league in my book. People who I find inspirational make me want to go out and do something differently because of what they’ve said or done, or because of simply who they are. I now realize that, more often than not, I tend to admire people and the things they’ve done, but the number of those who have truly inspired me is fairly small. I’ve decided to begin sharing who those people are and maybe, just maybe, they will be people who also inspire you towards specific action or change.
First up – Kristy Carlson. Seriously. Where do I begin? Kristy and I went to college together at good old Winona State University in Minnesota. We led bible studies together and she introduced me to The Navigators, an group of people who God used to grow my faith in some really significant ways. I admired Kristy’s walk with Jesus, her flair for life, and her beauty, among other things. Soon after college, Kristy married a really cool guy named Ben, and they headed off to Durban, South Africa, to work with college students. They lived there for ten years and had two boys while doing so. During this time, I saw them just once or twice and kept in correspondence only a handful of times. However, I always loved hearing what they were up to as well as seeing pictures of the people with whom they lived daily life. I was always challenged by their courage in making the decision to live in a culture very different, and so far away, from home.
After ten years of living in South Africa, they formed Long Miles Coffee Project and moved to Burundi, east Africa. Kristy is focusing on her photography, at which she’s uber talented, and Ben is focusing on coffee farmers and their product. Together, they (and their 2 young sons) are seeking to help Burundi coffee farmers live better lives. Let’s face it, they tell their story ridiculously better than I do, so make sure to check out their blog for the full scoop. Their transition to Burundi has not been easy and Kristy blogs regularly about it. She shares in an emotionally raw manner, something I really love. One of the things I find most incredible is her humility amidst their humongous and extremely brave decision to move their family to Burundi in order to serve the coffee farmers there.
I’m inspired by Kristy.
Nope, I don’t simply admire her and what she’s a part of in Burundi. I am inspired, and in several specific ways, by her. She makes me want to be real about life; to be honest with the raw-ness about everyday struggles. Life is not a nice, neatly-tied up little package – it’s messy. It’s a journey, full of ups and downs, but many times you would not get that picture from talking with people. And, quite frankly, I can’t relate to people who seem to have the perfect, struggle-free, life. Kristy openly struggles on her blog and because of that we all, in one way or another, are able to relate to her. Because of that, I am encouraged to be honest about the realities of life, not necessarily with everyone, but with those I live daily life with.
But even more than that, Kristy makes me want to be brave; to do the hard thing when called to, trusting God that doing so will be completely worth it. I can struggle with fear and anxiety at times, something that can cause me to not do specific things I am called by God to do, whether in major life decisions or the daily things that are necessary in order to love my kids and husband well. I need people around me who are bravely doing what they have been called to do. Kristy is. (And as a side note, you do not have to be living in a foreign culture incredibly different than you’ve ever known in order to encourage others towards courage – it just happens that Kristy is.)
I believe God uses many means in which to encourage us toward action, and I love when He uses other people. Kristy Carlson is one of those people for me.
Who inspires you? What specific things do they inspire you towards?