Browsing "My Story"
Aug 2, 2017 - My Story    1 Comment

Level Up!

Do you anticipate or dread birthdays?

For me, birthdays bring up such mixed emotions. I often feel grateful for another year of life, adventures, and sanctification. But some years bring up feelings of ennui. I ask myself, “What do I have to show for myself this year?” or “Why doesn’t my life feel like I imagined it?”

This was one of those years.

I turned 35. That felt like a significant number. Yes, I am pursuing another degree. Yes, I have wonderful friends & family. Yes, I have people in my corner who love me. But sometimes, in my downcast moments, I can concentrate on what I don’t have. I wish I had a guy in my life.  I wish my ovaries didn’t twitch so much, wishing for a little one of my own, not just the cuties I get to serve at work each day. If I have a baby in the future I will be officially considered a “geriatric mother” and although I know many women who have had children later in life, that diagnoses scares me because I am well acquainted with the risks.

I dreaded this birthday for several months. But I had two choices: to isolate and wallow in ennui. Or to be honest about my disappointments and then choose to concentrate on gratitude.

I chose the latter. I bought a new outfit, organized a few birthday celebrations, and surrounded myself with people who could both be honest about life’s disappointments and also celebrate heartily.

I even had a theme: I don’t get older, I level up!

34 was an important year for me. I began my doctoral degree. I moved houses. I went on adventures. I chose joy and wonder in the face of obstacles. I chose to play, even at 35, I’m not too old to be silly. I prayed and journaled honestly about how much I was dreading this year and this age. I shared the fears I had, both legitimate and imagined. I organized a day full of playfulness including friends, special meals, and an escape game!

I ended up having a wonderful birthday. I received love through hugs, texts, messages, phone calls, and laughter throughout the day. I believe I was able to experience the beauty of this day because I was willing to go through the valley of disappointment honestly. Life is not what we expect it to be. It is not perfect. But that does not mean it is not wonderful!

Here’s to the year of wonder. Level up!

The Mercy of Confusion

I have been co-leading a Sunday School class this semester on hermeneutics, or the interpretation of scripture. It has been a delight to read theological material again, discuss ideas in the Bible, and basically getting my mind blown weekly by our analyzation.

Last week we were diagramming Genesis 11:1-9, the Tower of Babel scene, which moves slowly inward, has a sharp turning point and then widens again. See if you can identify the shift:

1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

This passage is familiar to many, but we saw something new in it. In the beginning, everyone had one language and they were seeking to draw everyone together and make a name for themselves. By building a tower to reach heaven, they were trying to be in control of their future.

But the Lord came down. This is the turning point of this chiasm and story. He interrupted their work, confused the language, and scattered the workers. It seems  a shame. They had worked so hard. No doubt they had the best architects of the day for this project, but they were working for their own names, not for the Lord.

The Lord interrupted them; He saved them from themselves.There is some good that would happen if we all got together and spoke the same language, but there is a great likelihood for evil as well. Through His work and language changes, He spread the people over the whole face of the earth, created cultures, clans, traditions and rituals that would not have existed if we all spoke the same language. He prevented us from trying such a building project again. He reminds us that He is in charge.

This is the mercy of confusion. God interrupts my plans, he breaks down my tower, he confuses my language. I may be frustrated in the short-term, but I cannot see what He is protecting me from or how He is intervening to make something even more beautiful in the future. He is merciful. He is good. He intervenes even in my small building projects with grace and love. I often worry about the future, but I’m trying to reframe my thinking and realize that my current confusion, might just be the mercy of the Lord.

Jul 12, 2017 - My Story    2 Comments

My Prince is on a Turtle

I am here today to share with you the wild world of online dating. If you haven’t had the opportunity to engage in such an adventure, I highly recommend it. It is a special form of torture in this technologically savvy world. If you are familiar with the online dating world, I commiserate with you. From what I’ve heard, even for many couples who have had success from online dating sites, the process was tiresome and frustrating at times.

Here’s how it has gone for me:

I decide to take a risk and sign up for online dating. I spend hours writing a profile and picking pictures where I look attractive, but not unrealistically so, and post it for the world to see and judge. These few pictures and paragraphs become my essence on the screen by which men decide if I am worth their time or not. It is an incredibly vulnerable experience. Based on a magical algorithm, I get matched with several guys every day and look at their profiles to see if I sense the possibility of connection. I reach out to any guys where I see potential, and hear back from approximately 5% of them. Those statistics, and the associated feelings of rejection, alone are enough to make me mad.

Here’s my initial requirement list:

  1. Loves God (mentions something religious or spiritual in his profile)
  2. Has a job
  3. Can write a coherent sentence

That’s it. That’s my first wave of weed outs. I’m not asking too much, and yet there are many, many fellas who don’t make it past wave one for many reasons.

My Oh No-No List.

Just as I have an initial requirement list, I have a list of deal breakers, which after the character of Tom Haverford, I have named my “Oh No-No’s”

  1. Shirtless selfies in the bathroom – just stop. I’m glad you work on your fitness, but this should not be your profile picture. It makes me feel like you expect me to reciprocate!
  2. Pictures hugging another girl – I realize that this is a good photo of you, but perhaps another photo without your ex girlfriend’s face whited out next to you would be more alluring to future romantic prospects.
  3. Banana hammocks – See Oh No-No number one.
  4. Too many consonants – any sentence which begins, “Hey Girrrrrlll” Sorry, we’re just not going to be a match. Quality words are my friends and love to write, so I need someone who can converse on another level, with the right number of consonants.
  5. One word answers. “What are you most passionate about?” “Who has influenced you the most in your life?” “What do you love most about your life right now?” These are large and powerful questions! Entire books could be written on these questions! If you answer them, “Food. Mom. Sleep.” respectively, I fear we won’t have much to talk about.
  6. Lying about your age – Your profile says you’re 36, but I would bet $1000 that you are no less than 66. That seems like kind of a big difference. Be proud to be your age! It’s okay! But lying about it isn’t.

(Before you ask, yes all of those are absolutely real situations.)

I try to view this online adventure as my opportunity to better someone else’s life. My goal in dating is to leave the person better off than I found him. I seek to share some encouragement, mention a quality I see that is positive, or share how his words have affected me. I focus heavily on seeking to better the other’s life rather than trying to find something to shut down the link. I want to have hope, but have come to the conclusion that my prince is on a turtle somewhere…

While online dating, I’ve met some quality and classy guys and a lot of duds. Every time I log on to my profile, I wonder if today could be the day that I meet someone special. Could today be the day a new story starts? And when I log off I remind myself that my life is wonderful and that my story is being written by a Heavenly Author who knows the end, even if my chapter of singleness was longer than I had planned.

Here’s what I know:

Singleness is not a punishment and marriage is not a right.

Everyone suffers. Marriage is not the arrival point or finish line and it doesn’t make life easier.

God is at work in my heart and is drawing me closer to Himself with every experience, good and painful.

I am surrounded by people who love me.

With every excitement, possibility, and celebration, I have been able to call on friends who have been excited with me. With every closed door, end of a relationship, or disappointment, I have been able to call on friends who have sat with me in the mess of life and let me cry… and maybe brought ice cream.

So with my team of people behind me cheering me on, I dry my tears and forge steadily onward, knowing that I don’t know the end, but I will trust the process. Correction: I will trust the One who directs the process. And I will enjoy the story He’s writing in my life… no matter what.

 

 

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!

 

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