Browsing "My Story"
Jun 17, 2017 - My Story    No Comments

Defeated by my Dryer

My appliances are ganging up on me. They must plot at night to see the best way to derail my carefully laid plans. There’s no other explanation for it.

ACT I – Characters and Conflict Introduced 

Two weeks ago, my year-old dryer unexpectedly quit working. After three hours of trying to dry one load of laundry, I gave up and hung my scrubs from every available surface in my house. The machine turned on, the motor worked, but there was zero heat. Which I learned was a necessity for a dryer’s function, after I tried, unsuccessfully, to dry a load of laundry for three hours. When I calculated the amount of laundry done in my house and the amount of time needed to air dry and the surface area from which to hang clothes, I knew we needed a quick fix.

One Google search, two YouTube videos, and one Amazon Prime order later… I decided to fix it myself.

I am a MacGyver at heart. I believe duct tape can cure many of the worlds ills. But I have never attempted a repair of this scale. But the video was only six minutes long, so I figured I could handle it.

I took apart the shell, door, moisture sensing and door wires, heating housing, and replaced the heating element. I watched the YouTube video ten seconds at a time and performed the necessary steps. What took YouTube six minutes, took me two hours to perform. 

I had a good attitude throughout it all. I even stopped to take pictures, thinking to myself, “This is going to be a blog post!” I began narrating my post in my head as my roommate cheered me on (Yes, I narrate my own life). I would be played by Rosie the Riveter, a fierce, resourceful, and independent woman who could handle anything. I whistled to myself as I put my dryer back together, confident that I was awesome.

ACT II – The Struggle

Last Saturday morning, I embarked on a quest to fix my dryer. I was covered in sweat and dryer lint. There was blood. There were tears. And my dryer emerged victorious!

I was crushed. This was not the narrative I was writing. Perhaps, I was not Rosie the Riveter after all. I felt small, alone, and like I had wasted my day. I got a shower and cried. (On a side note, after this debacle, I had two term papers to write for school. It was a rough day.)

I had a choice. I could either give up and call an actual repairman, or I could try again. Having a stubborn streak in me, I chose the latter.

Commence more Google searches. More YouTube videos. More parts overnighted from Amazon.

ACT III – The Resolution

Sunday, I did it all again. My friend held a flashlight while I unscrewed, jimmied, grunted, and problem solved to replace the fuse and the thermostat. I put the pieces back together more tentatively this time. I was at the end of my fuse (pun intended). If this didn’t work, I had no other options. I had exhausted my knowledge and skills.

But my dryer heated!

I danced a jig. I fist pumped. I got so excited that I accidentally high-fived my roommate in the face.

FIN

So, what was the purpose of this three act play? Why did I have to go through the lows of Saturday before experiencing the highs of Sunday? Because my strength is tested and formed in times of struggle and disappointment. Because the fully functioning dryer was sweeter to me after sitting in the mess of the brokenness. Because life isn’t linear. Instead, our growth is parabolic, full of ups and downs, highs and lows, and all demanding perseverance.

I experienced a bit of sanctification last weekend as I battled my dryer. The narrative in my head wasn’t always accurate the first time, but it was good in the end. I have other narratives that I’ve been writing for quite some time that aren’t ending up as I had planned. I’ve narrated how I would meet my soul mate. I’ve narrated my perfect job. I’ve narrated my publishing career. I’ve narrated and re-narrated my five-year plan a dozen times. But God is writing a different story in my life. And His story is sure to contain many Act II moments, but it is sure to be good in the end.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

PS – If you want to battle your own dryer, here’s the video!

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?

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!

Doctoral Woes, Week One

I’m one week into my doctoral career. Whew. What a week. It seems like at least a month has passed since I started classes. One week down. One hundred fifty to go. I’ve read chapters of books. Learned more about public policy than I ever thought I’d know. I’ve already been through all the emotions.

Syllabus shock? Check.

Countdown to graduation? Check.

Tuition payment? Double check.

 

I’ve said the following sentences multiple times each:

“This is so interesting!”

“What have I gotten myself into?”
One week in, what have I learned?

doctorate, school, day one

Life is an adventure. I cannot see past the next wave. I know there will be times that I question why I’m doing this to myself. But, as I’ve often reminded myself, this is not a whim decision. I have been thinking about more school for years. As my friend Abby reminded me, “Kelly, you know those things we’ve been praying about for years… they’re here!” I’m trying to be ready. I’m trying to appreciate the answers to myriads of prayers. I’m trying to see the fun in not knowing what the future holds.

Among the many decorative items I have in my room, a particularly special one is a watercolor which reads, “But what if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” I want to risk, to try new things, to be willing to risk falling if it means that I won’t miss the joy of flying. Maybe you can relate to that. Every new phase requires risk and brings along it’s companion fear with it. But sometimes the fear of taking my feet off the ground pales in comparison to the joy of flight. Do the thing you think you cannot do. Risk. Take the adventure. Your prayers are being heard. My darling, what if you fly?

 

What life adventure both scares and thrills you at the moment?

Iceberg

I feel like an iceberg.

Not because I’m cold, remote, or danger-prone, but because people only see about 10% of me. Icebergs barely pop their tops above the water-line. They look small, cute, and manageable. But people miss the 90% lying just below the waterline.alaska glacier ice

For me, this is especially true at work. I am an occupational therapist in pediatrics. I work with babies to help them grow, strengthen, and develop. To the untrained eye, it looks like I have a pretty cushy job: I cuddle babies, change diapers, attend meetings, and do a lot of typing. But this is only the above-the-water-line-ten-percent! But I work hard! Beneath the surface I research and think about joint stability, muscle tone, bone mineralization, neuronal connections, calorie conservation, and neuroprotection. I know that each child’s brain is literally maturing in my hands and that brain wiring is for a lifetime and I take that job very seriously. Yes, I snuggle babies, but with so much purpose! Some days are difficult. I feel undervalued or overlooked because 90% of my skills, mass, interests, and work is unseen.

But I am not alone in this! I believe the iceberg-phenomenon is true of so many people and professions! Doctors don’t just give prescriptions, accountants don’t just balance ledgers, teachers don’t just give grades, moms don’t just feed their kids and attack the ever-growing pile of laundry. You are more than the 10% that people can readily see. You cannot be reduced to a productivity percentage, or sales quota, or salary, or GPA. Those numbers are just the 10%. Take pride in the knowledge, passion, skills, and purpose you have. That is the weighty and important 90%.

If you can relate to this, then you are an iceberg.

Be an iceberg with purpose! Work hard. Be aware of the 90% that people often miss, but don’t rely on their approval or understanding of all your work. Work for a higher purpose. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Cor 10:31). Work for the Lord, the only One who can truly know and appreciate both the 10% that everyone sees and the 90% that is hidden.

Or as Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”

Be an iceberg. Work with purpose. Do your job, whatever it may be, well. That’s the best way to show the importance of the 90% that drives you daily.

IMG_2850

How do you feel like an iceberg either professionally or personally? Do people see or understand your 90%?

 

Dec 12, 2015 - My Story, Uncategorized    No Comments

Florida Snow

It has snowed in Florida… once in my lifetime.

I remember the wide-eyed glee looking out our window and seeing this strange precipitation that I’d only heard about before. It was 1989 and I had an ice fight with my dad in the front yard since none of the snow stuck. I’m pretty sure we thew more dirt than snow at each other that day, but I don’t remember that mess we made. Instead, I remember the magic of that day. Seeing the Florida Flurry. Making memories and wondering if it would ever happen again!

I didn’t know at the time that such a day would stand out in my mind so much decades later, but it does. I think life is like that — it sneaks up on you when you’re not paying full attention. I often say that I wish my life had a sound track so that I could be clued in when something big or memorable was coming up so I could tune in a little bit more. But we don’t have soundtracks. We don’t have writers and musicians and cinematographers clue-ing us into the rising action, conflict, and resolution. But we do have great stories. The stories of our lives. So, I want to pay attention to every day, so I don’t miss something important or life changing. I want to love my story, anticipate the future, and look back with fondness on memories which float like snowflakes in the recesses of my memory.

May you enjoy your story as well as this electronic Florida Flurry on the website until the new year!

 

Nov 25, 2015 - My Story, Uncategorized    No Comments

Calculus

Asymptote. Logarithm. Derivative.

I have not seriously interacted with such words in over a decade.

And yet here I sit, in my brother’s undergraduate Calculus class, listening to a lecture filled with mathematical jargon. I watch as the professor — displaying an infinity necklace and a love of numbers — goes over the quiz, engages with questions, and teaches fundamental theorems of calculus. I sit alongside students fifteen years my junior and struggle to keep up.

And my heart is full. Full of integers, areas under the curve, eager minds, thorough teachers, chalk dust and learning. I am surrounded by scratching pencils, raised hands, and insight.

I love it.

I love the cautiously offered questions. I love simplifying the expression. I love complicated equations and the need for four full-sized white boards to answer one problem. I love hearing my kid brother problem solve and demonstrate his understanding. It was a joy to be invited into his world today. To sit in one of his classes, read a paper he wrote, and hear some of what consumes his brain power nowadays.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and many of us will have students coming home, who will likely be excited to eat a real meal, anxious about their upcoming finals, and eager to share. Enter into their world; you’ll be glad you did — even when it includes strange words like asymptote.

calculus

Nov 18, 2015 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

Mood Swings

I am surrounded by children. I joke that I have 81 babies, but they stay at the hospital so I sleep through the night. And I’ve noticed that babies and children have an uncanny ability to change moods quickly. They can cry and smile within a few seconds. They can fight and be angry, throw an all out tantrum, and fall asleep less than a minute later. They can play, laugh, and pretend before their tears are even dry.

I admire that. Minus the tantrums!

I take much longer to work up to anger or sadness or fear or joy. I am afraid of letting out emotions at the wrong time. I tend to stuff my anger and fear and sadness and only let it out when it’s reached a certain threshold. I admire children in their immediate communication. “You took my toy! That’s not fair! I’m angry and hurt and I’m not afraid to let you know.” What would my life look like if I told others more freely how their actions affected me? How many more apologies would I need to offer because of my immediate responses? Conversely, how many relationships could be deepened with honest, prompt communication?

Kelly Jelly

Not only do I can my feelings like strawberry jam, but I also stew and stay in my emotion for longer. If I cry during a day, I consider the day over. I feel numb. My nose is swollen, my eyes irritated. I just need to go to bed and start over the next day. I wish I had more of the changeability of childhood to bounce back from an overwhelming emotion. How would my life be different if I had a little more childhood changeability? If I let my emotions out, but didn’t wallow? If I could cry and laugh more freely?

 

I’ll just try to avoid the tantrums…

Are you an emotion stuffer? How can we safely let some feelings out?

Sep 19, 2015 - My Story    2 Comments

The “Gift” of Singleness

Singleness: The dreaded gift.

People joke all the time, “If singleness is a gift, what’s the return policy?” I’ve thought about this for fifteen years. One summer I read the entire single living section of the Christian bookstore where I worked. I’ve heard authors for years tell me that singleness could be a blessing. But I often scoffed. I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage and the desire to be seen and known lately and I’ve been feeling that singleness is an unwanted calling in my life.

But this week I believed in the beauty of singleness in a new way.

But there are advantages and I was reminded of those last week. I was able to re-arrange my schedule to spend some time with some very dear friends. I accompanied them to Wycliffe and Legoland, enjoyed their children’s excitement and ingenuity surrounded by their beloved Lego bricks and mini figs. My friend, Abby, called me after they got home and said, “Kelly, thank you for using your singleness to bless us last week. I loved being able to bring you into our plans and enjoy lots of time with you. Your singleness is a gift to me.”

lego land, darth mall, abby

Those were the words which changed my mind. My singleness is not just about me. It’s not just what I long for or feel denied. I can use my time, energy, and resources to bless other people. My more flexible schedule blessed my friends last week. And I was immensely blessed in return to be a part of their family for a week. Moments and realizations like this make me appreciate where God has me in life right now even as I remain earnest in my hope for my own family someday.

Wycliffe, abby, valor, percy

What is an unwanted gift in your life? How have you been able to use it for good?

OR

How can you encourage someone else this week in their current station in life?

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