Archive from June, 2013
Jun 29, 2013 - My Story    No Comments

Matriargacy

My grandmom is turning 80 years old today.

I was asked to choose a few words to best describe my grandmother. I’ve thought about it all week. I’ve dealt with head-pounding, finger-tightening writers block for which there is no pill, no cure. How do you take 80 years (or in her case, “Turning 29 for the 51st time” and choose just a few words to describe a life? How could I choose any fanciful adjective or alluring noun or even strong, descriptive verb to encapsulate such a life?

I couldn’t.

So instead, I made up some words.

  1. Hyperprovisionality
    1. Part of speech: Noun
    2. Origin: hyper (over, extra) + provision + duality
    3. Sentence: Gram displayed hyperprovisionality as she lovingly and ceaselessly cared and provided for her family.
    4. Explanation: My Gram has worked as a nurse, a teacher, a swimming instructor, an insurance agent, a business owner, an artist, a photographer, and a full time mom. And many of these jobs were performed at the same time (hence the duality portion of the word!) She always kept a positive attitude even as she put in more hours. Her three kids had homemade clothes, home cooked meals, and home-cut hair. She was a single mom, determined to make ends meet and developed incredible hyperprovisionality through the process.
  1. Audaturous
    1. Part of speech: Adjective
    2. Origin: Audacious + Adventurous
    3. Sentence: Gram’s spirit knew no bounds, it was audaturous, exciting, and daring.
    4. Explanation: My grandmother has visited more countries than I can count. She has a wall of adventure in her house where she is pictured golfing with celebrities, straddling a camel, swimming with dolphins, and holding an adult bengal tiger. She had walked along the same paths as the Apostle Paul, rafted down the Colorado river, and even once shared her bed with a cheeky octopus. She waited until she was in her 70’s to become a missionary and has “roughed it” in ways that would put teenagers to shame. She is both audacious and adventurous for God and others.
  1. Creatiful
    1. Part of speech: Adjective
    2. Origin: Creative + Playful
    3. Sentence: Gram’s cards are so beautiful, unique, and striking. She is one creatiful gal!
    4. Explanation: My Gram once told me, “If you can’t laugh at life, it’s gonna be no fun living it!” She has lived up to this adage. Throughout her life, in times and trips that have gone smoothly and in those that haven’t, she has maintained poise and humor, never taking herself too seriously. One way this expresses itself is in her artistic and crafty side. She makes cards, takes photos, and enjoys making gifts just as much as giving them. She is playful in her creations and in her personality, never hesitating to engage with kids, teach Sunday School, and play. She is very creatiful, which is a beautiful trait!
  1. Matriargacy
    1. Part of speech: Noun
    2. Origin: Matriarch + Legacy
    3. Sentence: A Matriargacy is only achievable through a long, well-lived, love-filled life.
    4. Explanation: My Gram is a matriarch. She is the pinnacle of our family pyramid. Her name, Elizabeth, weaves through our family generations like a braid, each namesake reflecting her heart. She keeps up with every family member, never missing a birthday or graduation. She continues to be present in our lives, homes, weddings, baby dedications, holidays, and hearts. Her provision, adventurousness, audacity, creativity, playfulness, and most of all, love, leave a legacy for us all to marvel at. She truly is something amazing and has run, and continues to run, the good race of faith.

Happy 80th Birthday, Gram! Thanks for being so rad that I had to make up words to describe you!

Jun 27, 2013 - Health, My Story, Quotes    1 Comment

Beauty and Frenzy

Sometimes I feel so ugly.

My feelings of ugliness have nothing to do with my wardrobe they have everything to do with my spirit. I did not have the best week last week. I worked some extra hours and had lots of evening commitments. I was tired. I was spent. I was grouchy.

I was ugly.

I felt like I had no room in my life for anyone else. I came home from another meeting and went straight to bed, fuming that something had stolen my precious free time. And I couldn’t concentrate in my evening meetings because my mind was busy thinking of all the things that were not getting done while I sat here. The chores spanned from the mundane to the compassionate: Laundry, cooking, bills, reading, writing that thank you card, calling that friend who was hurting. I complained about these feelings to a friend of mine who simply replied, “Beauty is not frenzy.”

It was then that I snatched out my Moleskine and wrote that truth down.

That’s what was making me ugly. I was frenzied, rushed, harried, unable to sit, to be present in any situation or talk to the person in front of me because I was always focused on what needed to be done next. My life was inhospitable. My spirit knew it. I need to listen to myself better. I need to prevent, as much as possible, this feeling of frenzy because it wrings out all the things I like about myself leaving me a limp rag without direction. I’ve had enough of that feeling, thank you very much.

I’m done with overcommitting myself. I’m done with feeling frenzied. I’m done with feeling ugly.

Beauty and peacefulness… here I come!

happiness card

What makes you feel ugly or frenzied? Do you think they’re linked?

Jun 25, 2013 - My Story    No Comments

On The Record

My dad has to watch what he says around me.

He knows it too.

Last time I was home he asked me if everything he said was “on the record” or if he could speak freely not fearing that he’d find his offhanded thoughts published for the world (or at least thirty subscribers) to read! He asked because I’ve found myself increasingly in “blog-mode.” That is, travelling with a little black moleskine notebook where I jot down things that strike me later to transform them into something insightful, with complete sentences and actual punctuation.

moleskine

I write a note or a quote or a reference and spend my times during commutes composing my next post. I’ve always done this — spent time thinking, composing, and rewording. After all, this is still true of me.

Flanner O'Connor

It’s as if my dad can see it happen in my eyes, when something brilliant he says hits me and I race for my moleskine before the epiphany fades. I write because it helps me process life better than anything else. Some process verbally, some paint or draw or hike. I write. 

My mind rarely stops ruminating or formulating metaphors, sentences, and insights. So in that sense, yes, Dad, everything is on the record. Life is on the record. It cannot be unheard. Our words, thoughts, and insights matter. They impact others. Thanks for living life with me, on the record.

Jun 23, 2013 - Crafting, My Story    No Comments

Pillows and Home

This is not just any pillow.

Florida Pillow

It represents my family.

First, it pictorally represents Florida. Where we have lived nearly all our lives. Our hearts reside here, in our favorite, sunny, warm, oddly-shaped state. Gator colors show our school pride where three alums, (and maybe a fourth!) proudly sang “We are the boys.” The heart is for you, Mom and Dad, to remind you of when and where you met, fell in love, committed to one another and began a family. This pillow is bright and striking and different. It can be a subtle match to our plaque– currently safely hidden in the laundry room– which reads, “Remember, as far as anyone knows, we’re a nice normal family.” It is soft and huggable and draws people into a warm and protecting environment. It is stuffed to seams with batting showing how much love we squeeze into our household and our relationships. It is handmade; each stitch a treasure and an act of love. Each cut and thread a careful and intentional act. This is how we seek to live – forever stitching our lives together in love, creating a priceless thing called home.

Happy Anniversary to two wonderful parents who have taught me how to live and love just like this pillow! Thank you for creating a safe, creative, loving, zany home for me!

 

If you’d like one of these mini-marvels of love in your home as well, visit HERE!

One Month In…

I’m certain that my brain is more wrinkled than it was a month ago.

Today I celebrate my One-Month-a-Versary at my new job.

I worked in Neuro rehabilitation for six years. I had a rhythm, a routine. In short, I was a rock-u-pational therapist. But now with the kids, and especially with the babies, everything is new and I have to think about every hand placement, every reflex, every respiratory rate a little differently.

In short, my brain hurts. It’s been working overtime.

Last week I had a moment where I was holding a tiny infant, born several months early and still significantly before her due date. She strained and splayed and stretched before finally snuggled her little nasal-cannulated face into my chest and relaxing. I checked a few reflexes, my eyes darting from her face to the vital signs monitor a few times to check how she was doing internally. But then I stopped and thought, with baby sweetly sleeping in my arms, “Oh my golly, this is my job!”

free-baby-wallpaper-1440x900-1005041

It was a sweet epiphany.

But I’ve also had hard epiphanies. I’ve treated more than a few kids who were admitted because of abuse, neglect, or other (what I will graciously call) “avoidable conditions.” I’ve had kids with poor prognoses, who will not develop normally, who will always have a scar because of some ordeal endured in-utero or shortly thereafter. It is at those times that I think, “Oh my golly, this is my job.”

I’m determined not to be hardened by the circumstances that I see day in and day out. I’m determined to treat each little life as valuable regardless of prognosis. I’m determined to be thankful for snuggling moments and for the opportunity to rehabilitate kids, or as I like to call it play with a purpose. I’m determined to learn and grow as a therapist and as a person to treat and to heal the best that I can.

One month in — I am thankful. Wrinkly brain and all.

 

Jun 16, 2013 - My Story    3 Comments

A Poet and a Warrior

It’s Father’s Day.

That’s more than just a statement, it’s an intentional drawing of attention!  I’ve always felt a little uneasy seeing that in our culture Mother’s Day gets all the hype and hooplah, while Father’s Day slides past under-advertised. I don’t know exactly why that is. Is it just that Mother’s Day comes first and steals the spotlight? Is it easier for advertisers to make a montage of “mom moments”? Is it representative of our poor relationships with our fathers?

I don’t know. But I want to celebrate Father’s Day as well because I am oh so thankful for both of my parents.

I am thankful that I have a dad who was home, present and intentional. I am thankful that my dad thought that playing with me was a great pastime. He often talks about looking at me in awe as an infant as I discovered my hands or learned how to roll over. He continues, “And then you smiled, and I thought it doesn’t get any better than this. And then you walked, and I thought how cool! And then you talked. That was when it really got fun because I got to hear what you thought about. You were the coolest toy ever because you  grew up.”

dad and Kelly dancing 8 years old

I am thankful that my dad talked, really talked, with me and prepared me for what was to come. We ran “mental simulations” on the way to school. They started out simple, “Pretend that you are at school and another kid steals the ball you’ve been playing with, what would you do?” He’d ask. The questions grew up with me as well extending into bullying, peer pressure, and professions.

I am thankful that my dad taught me — and continues to remind me — of the importance of balance in all of life. He is unique in that he can both roughhouse and cry with equal familiarity. He can be strong and logical and process though facts and also express emotions without regret. In a world brimming with emotionally-stifled and relationally-distant people, I am thankful that my dad is both a poet and warrior.

I am thankful for these and a thousand other fun memories and excellent fatherly attributes. I am thankful that my dad showed and told  me how valuable I am and how I should be treated. I am thankful and eager to celebrate my dad today.

And, even as my eyes are already misting from writing this, I would be remiss not to share a movie moment that can always make both my dad and me cry. Have the tissues handy, this just might be the best cinematic scene of all time.

Jun 14, 2013 - Devotional, Exegesis    5 Comments

Know Why You “No”

I hate saying no.

I really stink at it. I detest feeling like I’ve let others down. I have to work myself up to near-frenzy to get the words out and I typically feel remorse about it afterward as if I’m single handedly crushing someone’s spirit through my negative reply. I struggle with this. It’s a constant battle for me not to overbook myself, feel totally overtaxed, and want to retreat from the world.

I was complaining to my mom about this feeling and she said something which totally blew my concept of saying “no” out of the water.

She quoted Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Then she went on to exegete the passage saying, “Kelly, God prepared for you good works, specific good works, and you should walk in those working at them mightily. Other works may present opportunity, and they may appear good from the outside, but if they’re not the good works that God prepared for you specifically, then they won’t be good if you say yes.”

Mind blowing truth! What beautiful freedom!

orlando grace church Graduation Kyle 055 225x300 Know Why You No

If I say “no” to everything, I’m being disobedient by failing to walk in the good works God has prepared for me. If I say “yes” to everything, I’m not being a good steward of myself! By stretching myself too thin I’m failing to give enough energy, time, and attention to the specific works which have been chosen for me. But perhaps even more frightening than that is the fact that by saying “yes” to everything I could be inadvertently usurping a work meant for another and thereby denying him of the opportunity to walk in the good works prepared for him!

I’ve found myself praying my own version of the Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity to say “no” to the works not prepared for me.
The courage to say “yes” to the works which are prepared for me.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Amen.

Jun 12, 2013 - My Story    No Comments

The Alaskan Allure

“I think he’d make a great spouse for someone… I just dont’ know who.”

“Why do the awkward ones always have the most confidence?”

“Where do you go to meet single boys? Where are they hiding?”

These are all conversations I’ve had over the past week. I have a number of single girlfriends (we need to stick together, y’know!) and I sometimes wonder why they are single. They are beautiful, intelligent, responsible, driven, compassionate people. They are warm and hilarious and great listeners. They have degrees and credit scores higher than the average American!

And they have no one expressing interest in them. *sigh*

So what is it? Are they too independent? Are they intimidating? Do they have some flaw that I am unaware of?

Sometimes I wonder how anyone begins to date. It seems like so many factors are against you once you’re an adult. If you are stable and responsible, like my friends are, you tend to stay in the same house, job, town, and church instead of bouncing around looking for a catch. But then you’re around the same people all the time, so if there are few prospects, how do you meet other people? It’s so much easier to make new friends when you can turn to them in the lunch line and ask them to pass you a chocolate milk. How do you make new friends when you are an adult (no milk line), employed (lengthy work hours), and in your thirties (tick-tock, Bridget, tick-tock!)? All the while not wanting to make dating a game of statistics… in which case I and all my single friends should move to Alaska where the male to female ratio is the best in the States (at about 10:1 last I heard).

Alaska Aurora

 

But I have to remind myself that singleness is not a lesser manner of living. That I am able to do things I wouldn’t be able to if I were married. I can cook what I want or eat cereal for dinner. I spend my own money. I make decisions. There is beautiful freedom in such an existence. Yes, it would be nice for someone to think I’m special and worth pursuing, and maybe someday the Alaskan Allure will win out, but today I have the grace to be single and the perspective to really enjoy it. And I’m praying that for my wonderful single friends as well.

Jun 10, 2013 - Devotional, Exegesis    No Comments

Lessons from a Fallow Field

“For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow…” Exodus 23:10-11a

Moanings from a Fallow Field:

Dear Heavenly Farmer,

My nutrients have been spent. I’ve fed a family, clothed a village, provided for so many, given freely of all that is in me. I am tired. I am spent. Like Bilbo who could relate with this feeling when he said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter, scraped over too much bread.”

But I am necessary for their well-being. How can I be expected to abide by your commandment to grow nothing for an entire year? How will they survive without my contributions, aide, expertise, and work? How can I ask for a break, even though I feel my energy growing thin?  I long to rest, to soak up the sun and the rain. I long to feel replenished, but I don’t know how. I’ve worked and provided for so long… it’s who I am. Will I still be valued if I don’t perform?

Somewhere inside of me I know that my nutrients are spent and that if I keep going I will only produce poor fruit, but the drive to produce, to perform, to do is so strong. I’ve done it for six years- I’ve been tilled, sown, and harvested. I’ve faithfully produced year after year. It is a paradigm shift to think of myself as valuable not for what I can do, but for who I am. I am valuable not first and foremost for what I can contribute, but for who I am. I am your field, Father. You call me to work and to rest. Help me to actively rest in this year of fallowness, not just to passively loaf. Help me to seek replenishment. Let my soil be filled to overflowing with nutrients not just for my own health, but so that I can provide again in the future. I am lying fallow in order to produce more fruit.

Learning the Importance of Lying Fallow,
Your Faithful Field


“Only when your roots are deep can your fruits be abundant.” Henri Nouwen

orlando grace church San Felasco and SR 241 009 300x225 Lessons From a Fallow Field

Jun 8, 2013 - Devotional, My Story    1 Comment

Grant Perseverance

This is Grant Perseverance.

Percy eating, high chair

But we like to call him Percy! He is a chunky, playful, ovary-twitching-inducing ball of fun! I got to visit with him and his family a few weeks ago. He holds a special place in my heart because, although he’s just turning one today, I’ve prayed for him for much, much longer. I have a Christmas ornament from 2011 when John and Abby learned they were expecting reminding me to pray for their little one. This family, although longing for a house full of children has experienced loss. They had one child, James, pass away as a toddler and two others miscarriages later in the pregnancies. I loved James and remember his curly hair and crooked smile. I didn’t get to meet Dora or Carolina. I didn’t get to hold them or play or see their burgeoning personalities begin to emerge. I mourned with this family as they longed for children and were met dishearteningly with repeated blocked goals.

But having gone through such loss with this precious family, made my time with Percy even sweeter. I prayed for John and Abby to get pregnant and I prayed that the child would be vigorous and would endure to his birth, I prayed that he would be healthy and playful. I prayed that he would learn and grow and would be a source of immense joy. And he is. Each prayer was answered!

Even though I prayed fervently, I can’t take credit for his little personality and his love of balls and his voracious appetite, but I did get to play with this little guy and experience a bit of the joy he brought with him just by being born. His name, Grant Perseverance, embodies this family and their story. They have been granted strength through suffering and now they get to hold and rock and snuggle and kiss little Percy. Though my prayers, I got to be a part of their story and a part of the joy. And that is a beautiful thing.

Happy Birthday, little guy! You are so loved!

For more ovary-twitching cuteness:

IMG_0389

 

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Percy and Abby

 

Percy Stroller

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