May 14, 2017 - Devotional    No Comments

You Are Seen

Mother’s Day is complicated and full of contradictory emotions.

There is the joy and celebration of new moms, proud grandparents and generations brought together. Tiny snuggles. Milestones recorded. Love abounding.

I celebrate with you.

There is the disappointment of strained relationships between parents and children. Poor communication. Regrets and resentment impacting relationships.

I forgive with you.

There are women longing to be mothers, but because of infertility or lack of a partner, they wait in longing for their own little miracle, keeping track of the passing of time.

I hope with you.

There are women who have lost mothers through death or abandonment. Who long for the perfect family, but experience an empty seat at the table.

I grieve with you.

There are mothers who have lost children. Little lives gone too soon. Empty cribs and unused toys remain as reminders of their tragic loss.

I lament with you. 

If Mother’s Day has been joyful or sorrowful, I see you. I want to be able to celebrate the mountain tops of the joys of motherhood, to say a hearty thank you for all the immense self-sacrifice that moms do everyday without recognition. You are amazing. Thank you. And I want to acknowledge that this is not everyone’s experience. Some dread Mother’s Day. Some are reminded of what is not more than what is.

I see you.

No matter the age, stage, or situation for you this Mother’s Day, I wish you a day of hope and love and the sense that you are seen and known by the God of the universe in your joy and your pain.

You are seen. You are heard. You are loved.

Mar 19, 2017 - My Story, Writing    No Comments

My Lenten Addition

Lent.

A season of deprivation and anticipation for 40 days prior to Easter. Lent is a time of focus and expectancy. It is a tradition in Christianity to mark seasons and adjust our routines based on the calendar. I tend to have a long period of anticipation prior to Christmas as outside factors help remind me of what is coming. Retailers, advertisers, and list-making family members reinforce my anticipation for Christmas, but Lent to me is more personal, more introspective, more private. Lent is a time of internal preparation before the highest of holy days. There is much less external pressure to conform. No house decorations need be organized and few presents are purchased, but Christmas means nothing without Easter. Therefore, I celebrate Lent.

Many choose to go without and give up something dear, tasty, or expensive to train their hearts to be grateful with less. Chocolate, coffee, ice cream, and alcohol are among the Lenten sacrifices that I hear mentioned most often. Forfeiting something delicious can, if used properly, refocus your heart on the goodness in Christ. Every good gift comes from God above, therefore, longing for something good can remind us of God.

I’ve given up items in the past, but in more recent years, I’ve switched from subtracting something good to adding something good instead. I’ve added stillness, restfulness, or play. Every year I take stock of something needed in my life and concentrate on that for forty days.

This year I’ve added connection.

My life often feels like it is busting at the seams and barely being held together by frayed duct tape. I need to feel the support and love of others, or such a season is a long and lonely road. I need people. I need time with friends. I need moments of connection to balance my ever-growing to do list. This Lenten season, I am seeking to connect with others through cards or text messages or phone calls or lunch dates. Oftentimes I have just a few minutes before my class starts at night, but that is enough time to write a “just because” note to a loved one. On Ash Wednesday, I set out forty cards on my desk. My goal is that they would be written in and handed out by Easter.

This year, I hope to provide moments of connection for myself and for others. And that is the biggest difference in my experience between choosing to subtract for Lent versus choosing to add. In my experience, subtracting something good has challenged and stretched me, but adding something good has blessed me and others. My prayer is that such a goal would be true as we walk the valley of Lent in preparation for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.

Do you celebrate Lent? What do you choose to subtract or add?

Mar 14, 2017 - Devotional, Writing    No Comments

The Story of Life

How many people would want to read a book that started like this?

“Once upon a time there was a princess. She was beautiful and everyone loved her and life always went her way all the time…”

Where’s the conflict? Where’s the reason for the story? Where’s the character development?

Plus, if this princess had no struggles or conflict and always got what she wanted, I doubt her kingdom would continue to love her for long.

And yet, that’s what I always imagined my life story would sound like. I imagined that I would work hard and enjoy things in life that were good and be loved by all those around me. I’ve had to come to terms first with the fact that this is not my life story and secondly that I am thankful that it is not!

Struggle is part of the story. It should be. Struggle makes us grow, change, persevere, show grit, and develop as people. Authors know this well. Every character needs a conflict, rising action, and a climax in order to become the character they were meant to be. Why would I expect a different plan from the Author of my life?

The struggle is an integral part of the story. I benefit from some struggle. I become a fuller and more developed character when I am stretched, pressed, disappointed, persevering, courageous, and vulnerable. Struggle allows me to be refined into something even better. My goal is to struggle well. To be honest with the struggles and share them like my pile of beans! To know that God does not waste pain or time or barriers. Characters need a contest, a conflict, a barrier or a strain to overcome. It makes for strong literature. It makes for strong people too.

Mar 5, 2017 - Devotional    1 Comment

The Inefficiency of Self Care

Efficiency is my love language.

I jest.

(But it’s also true.)

I am a do-er. I work hard at my job, and in school, and take care of other tasks along the way. I get more done than the average person. I am learning to take care of myself with the same intensity.

Self care is important. I rest and pull away from tasks in order to remind myself that I am valuable not because of my doing, but because of my being. But somehow I still want it to be efficient!

Recently I went to the beach for a day of rest in between the madness of life. I laid on the beach;  I read some, listened to the surf, and just existed for four whole hours. And as I drove home, I felt, approximately one hour better. I wished to feel four hours better! I didn’t want it to feel like wasted time that somehow could have been used more effectively.

Self care is inherently inefficient.

I cannot rest at the same pace that I run. They are inherently different activities and will got at different paces. But self care, rest, Sabbath, and being are essential. They are healthy and they give purpose to the doing and the tasks that I am so good at.

Self care may feel inefficient, but it is not optional.

Feb 28, 2017 - Doctorate    1 Comment

The Quit-o-Meter

I work full-time and am in school full-time. There is little time for fun or play. And because of this my Quit-o-Meter is high!

I need people I can call and ask them to remind me why I’ve done this to myself! Why did I seek to get a doctorate? Why did I sign up for that committee at work? Why did I agree to that service opportunity?

I like to think that I can balance my life by subtracting things I don’t want to do, but in this season of my life that’s not possible. I cannot say, “I think it would be better for my health not to write that term paper, Professor.” Likewise, I cannot say to my boss, “I just don’t feel like working today. Can I just sit here instead?” I cannot subtract tasks from my life easily right now.

So my option is to add.

Add goodness. Add people. Add fun and well-mannered frivolity!

My Quit-o-Meter is sometimes high and my schedule is tighter than it has ever been. But somehow adding more is the right answer because it changes the relative enjoyment of life. So I’m adding massage appointments, and dinner dates with friends, and reading a book for fun. Sometimes these are done in fifteen minute increments because I still do have twenty page papers to write, but these additions are helping to lower my Quit-o-Meter and make me feel more balanced.

How do you achieve a feeling of life/work/school/family balance in life?

Feb 22, 2017 - Devotional    2 Comments

Pile of Beans

Life is tough.

Grief is real.

Blocked goals abound in life.

Though it comes in many forms– broken relationships, missed opportunities, or dashed expectations — we are confronted with a life that is not the way we thought it would be.

So what do I do when I am confronted with this feeling? Do I bottle up my emotions and avoid sharing my needs for fear of sounding needy? Do I spill all my feels on anyone who will listen?

I don’t believe either of those two options are the wisest choice, but a balance of sharing with safe people is essential. I am currently in the midst of a season of blocked goals. Sometimes tears escape my eyes. Sometimes my mind wanders, full of “what ifs.” I was recently sharing these feelings with a coworker who is walking through her own valley of the shadow. We commiserated on the need to share our emotions without feeling overwhelming. She shared this analogy with me.

It’s like I have a giant pile of beans representing my lament. This pile is so large it could crush me. I cannot keep it to myself or bear underneath the weight of it, but I also can’t back up a dump truck and dump my beans all on someone else or it could crush them. So I’m trying to pass out my beans one at a time to loving friends who care about my heart. Slowly my pile will disperse and I can breathe again.

I responded, “Yes, friend. I’ll would love to take a hand full of your beans. And thank you for helping me carry mine as well.”

I imagine we are all familiar with the crushing weight of a pile of beans. The situations look different, but the feelings are recognizable. Hoarding my beans crushes me. People want to help me carry my pile of beans. Disappointments in life are so much easier in community where many hands help carry the weight.

If you are in a season of disappointment or blocked goals. If you have a proverbial pile of beans threatening to crush you, don’t hide; ask for help.  Look to your community and share your beans.

 

Jan 21, 2017 - My Story, Quotes    1 Comment

My Year of Wonder(Full)

Every year I choose a word which I hope will describe my year. I’ve had the year of adulthood, the year of Kelly 2.0, and the year of Adventure.

2017 has been termed the Year of Wonder(Full).

I write that specifically because I believe it has three parts which will be described in turn:

  1. Wonder: Time to stop and reflect, a sense of awe, child-like appreciation, curiosity. I wonder what God will do in 2017
  2. Full: busy and bursting! Competing opportunities, getting tasks done, and choosing the best yes
  3. Wonderful: Not perfection, but gratitude for where I am and what life provides. Happiness and awe at the journey, not just the destination. Wonderful is a state of mind. My choice, not my circumstances makes me happy!

I want to experience a year of Wonder(Full). God has been at work in my life between work, school, teaching opportunities, and relationships pushing me toward more, toward risk, and toward adventure. I wonder, and wonder at, what He is doing. Sometimes I get scared of the changes, but as I’m honest about those fears, my sense of wonder can return. God is God. God is good. He knows and does what is best for His Beloved. In that truth, bring on my year of Wonder(Full!)

Do you choose a word, phrase, or thought for the year? If so, I’d love for you to share!

Jan 18, 2017 - Health, My Story, Running    No Comments

My Marathon

Now that I can walk again, I am ready to talk about my marathon experience.

I did it!

I ran (and walked) 26.2 miles.

A year ago I made a “Bucket List” of things I wanted to do in life. Running a marathon was one of them! Running has been a very powerful spiritual analogy to me during my four years as a runner. Life is a marathon. It is not a sprint. And in this marathon of life, some miles are joyful and easy and your training comes in handy. But many many miles are hard or lonely and you fear you cannot keep going. I wanted to prove to myself that I can keep going in running and in life. I am not running either race alone. I have cheerleaders and spectators who care about me and will help me finish my race well in all ways. This matters. Even when you are experiencing your toughest miles and you feel like you are emotionally hitting a wall, someone cares, someone sees, someone is cheering you on. Look for your spectators and cheerleaders — and keep running.

At the Expo getting my bib!

I ran as “Taco Belle” because I have to be silly.

Lisa and I shivering in the cold at the starting line.

And nearly seven hours later… The finish line!

Iced up and dressed to the nines. 

My finest cheerleaders!

My team!

And as if that wasn’t enough, my sweet friend Jake brought his allowance money to the finish line and bought me a rose to celebrate my race. Not wanting to be outdone, my boyfriend followed up with this bouquet as well! 🙂

Thank you for cheering me on, friends. You make my miles of running, and of life, so much more enjoyable. Here’s to future miles!

Dec 25, 2016 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

My Florida Christmas

Playfulness. 

Life is hard. Tough things happen. Adulting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I always want playfulness to be a part of my world. No matter how old I get, I want to have a sense of silliness and awe. I long to laugh at myself for many ridiculous things that I do everyday. Here’s my latest stunt…

My friend let me borrow her Christmas Tree outfit because I was running a holiday themed 5K. However, life happened and I wasn’t able to participate in the 5K after all. But I certainly didn’t want my costume to go to waste, so I set up this photo shoot on the beach which I entitled, My Florida Christmas. Since we Floridians don’t have ice and snow we have to create a little whimsy for the season!

May it make you smile. Happy Christmas!

 

 

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img_5599Sand angels:img_5612

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And my absolute favorite, most ridiculous photo ever!img_5587

Never stop being playful,

Kelly

Dec 24, 2016 - Humor    1 Comment

Cheeky Returns!

I have my own elf on the shelf tradition. Set up the most ridiculous scenarios ever to entertain your roommates. I got to introduce my new roomies to this small joy of Christmas… and they totally took to it!

Cheeky, the apt name of my elf on a shelf, continues his yearly antics this year, succeeded in making us laugh, and in retaining a bit of the childhood playfulness that I hope I never lose. I enjoy the balance of playfulness, seriousness, studiousness, and laughter that permeates my life and I am thankful that other people in my world can help me with this balance.

I declared this Christmas the Guilt-Free Christmas! Between work projects and school and other duties in life, I didn’t have time to bake or shop or craft or do many of the things I typically enjoy. Yes, all my presents were purchased online. No, I did not contribute to the cookie exchange. Yes, I ate Christmas cookies without tracking them. No, I didn’t feel guilty! I enjoyed it all. Christmas is busy and stressful and I will continue to use Cheeky as a small stress relief to my household to bring merriment and joy! May he make you smile today.

cheeky elf

cheeky elf

cheeky elf

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