Browsing "My Story"
May 16, 2014 - My Story    No Comments

My Freon Fallout

I have a love/hate relationship with my refrigerator.

I love when it cools and hate when it crashes… which it does, more frequently for me than the average person.

I’ve been through three fridges in the 7 years I’ve lived here. That has to be some sort of record.


My second fridge passed on a few weeks ago. In my house we mourned for nearly a week with coolers full of ice (attempting to salvage what we could) and many meals filled with non-perishable food.


But I learned more than just how important Freon and a functioning compressor were. I learned how dependent I am upon technology and my own control. I was forced to live and eat without stockpiling for a week. I experienced a taste of what the Israelites did in Exodus 16 when they gathered manna every day, but just enough for that day. Manna was literally bread from Heaven, miraculous and sweet, but with an insanely short shelf life! If any of the manna was left out overnight it rotted and was useless.

They were forced to be dependent upon the Lord for their lives and nutrition. In a very different way, I was too. I went to the grocery store nearly daily for one meal’s worth of food. Imagine me at the deli counter responding to quizzical looks, “Yes, can I have three slices of turkey and one slice of cheese? Thank you.” I could not save it. I had to be okay with that.

It wasn’t easy. Not only did I not love my daily visits to the grocery store, but I detested not knowing where my next meal will come from. I realized anew how much I like being in control. My Freon fallout took my semblance of control away from me temporarily, and it tasted bitter. I want to rely on my own abilities, control, and skill, but that is inherently dangerous. I want to live open-handedly, trusting and in trusting reliance on the Lord for His provision, in large ways and small.

My Freon fallout showed me again how much I have to grow in this area.

“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it [manna], each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (Exodus 16:16-18)


Celebrating Uniquely

This is Tanner.


Perhaps that’s not his best side.

Tanner is my friend, almost like my little brother. We have a funny connection to be able to carry on a conversation exclusively in movie quotes – one of my favorite past times. We love lots of the same nerdy things including the TV show Community. We even greet each other with Troy and Abed’s secret handshake.

Tanner’s birthday was last month and I wanted to do something special for my friend to celebrate him. In one episode of Community the characters play paintball, in another play Dungeons and Dragons, and still another build a blanket fort. But, over the years of friendship between myself and Tanner’s family, we have already done those things! So I had to keep thinking.

It was then that I saw the Groupon for a magical balloon ride. Ding Ding Ding! Behold Season 4 Episode 9 (Yes they are dressed as muppets for this episode, if you haven’t seen Community before, don’t ask questions or try to jump in midstream!)

I took Tanner on a balloon ride, raised up 500 feet to see a 360 view of Downtown Disney, take some crazy pictures and celebrate my friend. To me, it was more than just a ride, it represented our friendship, shared interests, and sense of adventure. While some on the ride clung nervously to the railings, Tanner loved it and kept repeating, “It would be so cool to work here!”


IMG_0523 IMG_0514I was thankful that this gift was my chance to think outside the box and celebrate my friend in a unique way, something that I’ll likely not do for anyone else. In the words of Abed, I think that’s, “Cool, Cool, Cool.”

IMG_0524How can you uniquely celebrate someone in your life?


Apr 26, 2014 - Humor, My Story, travel    No Comments

Celebrating Self Image

Nothing has the potential to derail my self image more than a four year old constructing my Mii avatar.

Am I the only one who has dealt with this?

My sweet friend, Valor, wanted to play many Wii games with me during our visit and he would not allow me to start until he had customized my Mii. If you’re not familiar, the Nintendo game system, Wii, allows the user to make a character who is supposed to look like them. Face shape, eye shape, hair color, height, build, eyebrows, teeth, smile, and even beauty marks and facial hair are adjustable until the look is just right.

I purposefully did not give Valor any help while he constructed my Mii. He would ask questions about each characteristic and I would say, “Pick the one that looks right.” Wondering what the result would be.

He took his job seriously.

Valor, Mii WiiI found myself cringing a little thinking, “Oh gosh! Do I really look like that?” and “Oh, please make me a little less robust about the middle, Valor.” and “Does my nose really look like a snout?!” and “Do my glasses really eat my face like that?”

Here are a couple of his Mii renditions:

Mii self image kelly valor Mii self image kelly valor

Until I realized that it doesn’t matter what my Mii looks like. It doesn’t matter if Valor makes me hefty, with a snout nose, giant glasses and wonky teeth. It doesn’t even matter what other people see when they look at me. It does matter what God sees. And He looks at the heart. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7). He provides me with an accurate self image, as one who is both far more sinful than I can believe and far more loved than I can imagine.

That self image I will celebrate.



Apr 19, 2014 - My Story    No Comments

Celebrating Airport Friendships

I’m awed by how quickly I can connect with someone when we have a shared goal. And it doesn’t even have to be a large goal, a lasting goal, or a life goal.

I bonded with a friend over a flight destination. We were both booked on the ill-fated flight to Orlando which was cancelled due to weather. We chatted in line at the terminal as we sought options to replace the cancelled flight. We both needed to get back for work and both booked the first flight the next morning. We waved as we saw each other at the airport before dawn. We both mentally calculated the minutes this flight was late and the pace we’d have to run through the airport to make our connection.

Interviews Waiting

As we sat and waited to board the plane and I asked lots of questions. She was an educator at Sea World and could talk energetically and incessantly about animals and how amazing they were. Ironically, she studied anthropology in school, but declared, “They’re basically the same. If you understand people, you can understand animals.” She talked about her visit with her mom and how hard it was to be delayed since she had never before missed a day of work. She confessed that it was hard for her to be flexible and feel out of control and that air travel was not her favorite thing. I hoped that my questions I could keep her focused on other things and make the journey a little easier.

We bonded. And I don’t even know her name.

It was an odd feeling for me to feel a sense of growing friendship as I waved early the next morning at the airport, waited for her luggage to return, and raced together to a new concourse to make our connection. Just checking on my new friend-for-the-day and making sure she got home. For this goal, we were in it together. It was finite and short-term, but important for today.

Mission accomplished.  

How could you choose to make someone’s day even if you are only “airport friends?”

Apr 16, 2014 - My Story, travel    1 Comment

Celebrating Delays

I have a decision to make.

I can be angry or grateful.

It’s up to me.

I’m currently sitting in the airport after a flight cancellation, delay, and re-routing. I will not be to my final destination for eight hours with a layover in between.

And I’m okay with that.

I am choosing to view this time as grateful time. Free time where I’m forced to sit and write or read or just think. I have to be still. That’s hard for me. I’ve already looped the terminal, bought a smoothie and eaten. There’s nothing else to see. I have another two hours before my flight and no tasks that need to be completed. I always laugh at myself when I pack four books and my computer for a short trip, but this is why. I want options and I want to be able to sit, relax. Who knows, maybe I’ll even pay for a chair massage while I wait! My vacation starts now, not when I arrive at my destination.

It starts now because I’m choosing to let it start.

I’m choosing to celebrate my free time instead of bemoan my delays.

Starbucks AirportIt’s all about perspective.


Apr 5, 2014 - My Story    1 Comment

Celebrate More

Adulthood doesn’t always lend itself to celebrating small accomplishments.

Childhood, on the other hand, DOES!

I used to celebrate, and be celebrated for, learning to write a new letter, sing a new song, perform show and tell, and perhaps the pinnacle of celebrating that occurs in childhood, but not in adulthood… using the potty!

Could you imagine if today, every time you used the bathroom you got m&m’s, like I did when I was three?


My dentist might not like it, but it just goes to show that childhood is ripe with celebrating daily accomplishments. We used to know how to let others know about our accomplishments and celebrate and somewhere in the maturing process, we lost that skill.

I am especially terrible about NOT taking time to pat myself on the back. I am so goal-oriented that when I accomplish one thing, I immediately look for the next goal. I rarely take time to look back, remember,  or bask in my accomplishments.

I’m done with that.

I might not dole out M&Ms each time I use the potty, but I am determined to celebrate more!

Who’s with me?

Mar 12, 2014 - My Story    No Comments

Monochromatic Pride

One of my little friends colored a picture for me last week. She labored on it with diligence and focus, using the one marker currently available to her.

She laid on the floor for steadiness, stayed within the lines, went over the desires sections again and again until, in her eyes, it was perfect.

Jasmine color

She then presented it to me saying, “Here Miss Kelly! This should go on your fridge!”

She didn’t care that in most people’s eyes it would be ugly. She didn’t care that it looks like Jasmine fell asleep in the tanning bed. She didn’t mind that the birds, fountain and flowers were all the same color. She didn’t mince words or reserve judgment. She thought it was amazing and she wanted me to appreciate it too. She demonstrated monochromatic pride. 

I loved it. 

I loved not only that she wanted to present this to me, but that she told me how amazing it was. She declared it “fridge-worthy” without hesitation. She wasn’t bragging, she was just declaring it’s worth. I promised this monochromatic picture would make its way to my fridge. I loved this picture because I saw my young friend’s beaming smile, her excitement and her declaration of worth. This picture gave me a window into the  freedom and joys of childhood and it made my heart smile.

Kids get celebrating. Adults often don’t. As we age we seem to get less fridge-worthy recognition. Adulthood is full of small victories and long journeys and, at times, I need to look back and appreciate what I’ve achieved. I need people that can help me recognize my “fridge-worthy” moments — whether they’re impressive to anyone else or not.

This picture represents so much to me –it’s on my fridge right now and I think it’s beautiful!

What have you done today that my little friend would declare to be “fridge-worthy”?

Mar 1, 2014 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

An Authentic Imitation

This is genius.

A talented singer performs songs in the style of other singers. She’s good. Spot on. And it’s a joy to watch and listen to.

I’m totally impressed how she can change pitch, stance, gestures, facial expressions and trills to mimic famous people.

But my favorite is when she sings as herself. She’s freer, crisper, fluid. That’s when she really shows her talent.

We mimic and impersonate other people  often wanting the world to think of us as more put together, perfect, talented, or accomplished than we feel we are. Technology and social media have heightened the strain to “brand” ourselves and manage our “images.” How much more powerful is it when we use our own voices even if they are frail, cracked, pitchy, and authentic.

Have fun imitating famous people, playing with tone and making others laugh– but when you truly have something to say, use your own voice.

Feb 14, 2014 - My Story, Uncategorized    2 Comments

Valentine’s Day

It comes every year. But I’m never quite prepared.

Valentine’s Day is rough for me and I’m not sure why. It’s just one day. I know I’m surrounded by love. But  it is not in the way I most want. I have family and friends who send me cards and gifts and think of me on this day, knowing it is a tough one for me. But I want a husband, a boy to find me delightful and think I’m rad. And I don’t have that.

So I get mopey.

My prescription for myself is to get out of my head, stay busy, have plans, and be thankful for all the love expressed on Valentine’s Day — and so many other days. I have a rad family and amazing friends who send me messages like this:

single ladies, carissa


My other prescription is to determine to make someone else’s day. In the past I’ve offered to babysit so that a couple can go out together. I’ve sent oodles of cards to people who likely are in the same boat as me, single, mopey and disgruntled. I even buy the old school Valentine’s that I passed out in Kindergarten and give them to all my coworkers. Nothing helps me get out of my own head better than focusing on another person.

If Valentine’s Day is a tough one for you, know that you’re not alone. Make some plans for yourself,  look for the love that is given, even if from an unlikely source, and determine to make someone else’s day. You’ll have a better day. I promise.

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