As part of the Beautifully Flawed Retreat, we are honored to meet amazing young women, and hear their stories. Kelsey Johnson, a student at the Georgie Institute of Technology was one of the girls who inspired us this year.

Kelsey has spent her life living with Scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease affecting connective tissues. A year ago, Kelsey faced having one of her feet amputated. Before she had even recovered from the procedure, she began planning to attend Beautifully Flawed retreat this year. Kelsey has been through so much pain and suffering, and had begun to struggle spiritually, questioning God’s goodness in the midst of it all. She hoped the retreat might help renew her faith.

The retreat did renew Kelsey’s faith, and more than that–it changed her life in many ways. Meeting so many girls who had been through a variety of traumatic experiences, yet held on to their faith, was a huge inspiration to Kelsey. “There were so many ‘me too!’ moments as I got to know other girls,” Kelsey said, “People there acknowledged my fears…they understood me. Yet they pushed me to do more anyways.”

A highlight of the retreat was the day Kelsey decided to move beyond her fears and try surfing. Kelsey was concerned that she could get injured if she fell off the board, but she didn’t want to regret not trying. She told Bryan Jennings her concern, and he looked right at her and said, “OK! Then you’re not falling!” This assurance filled Kelsey with courage, and before she knew it she was surfing a wave, surrounded by cheers and applause. “I felt on top of the world, like I could do anything.”

Kelsey took that feeling home with her…Along with a renewed faith in God’s goodness, and many friendships which will last a lifetime. We are so proud of you, Kelsey!


Written by Monica Swanson •