Browsing "Writing"
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.

Legacy

“Kelly, what will your legacy be?”

That question as posed to me recently at work. We had a department-wide meeting during which we made a “legacy quilt”. We were each charged to write a sentence on a square of decorative paper which would be knit together to form a paper quilt of quotes and desires.

One sentence.

One phrase.

Once idea.

That’s all the space we had!

I’ve practiced occupational therapy for a decade. I was in grad school for years. I have worked with hundreds of patients of all ages and I just get one sentence to encompass all of that?!

As a writer, this was an especially challenging task– after all, words are my friends! I want to use them, as many as possible! I wasted several sheets trying to write the longest, most hyphenated, run-on sentence ever created in order to jam pack the more ideas into my small paper square.

But that’s not what I really wanted. Medical jargon doesn’t change lives. My skills and metrics are important and I should consistently work on them, but they aren’t my legacy. My employment epitaph shall not read, “Kelly knew every trigger point release in the upper trunk.”

It shall not read, “Kelly achieved productivity every day.”

It shall not read, “Kelly read more peer-reviewed articles than anyone else in the department.”

No. I finally knew what I wanted my legacy quilt to say. It was so simple, I don’t know why I’d tried to hard to write such a complicated sentence! In the end my paper simply read, “Life Matters.”

That’s what I want my legacy to be. People are important. People have dignity. People are made in the Image of God and are worthy of my best efforts every day. I want this to be true for every infant, child, family member, coworker and person with whom I interact.

Hello, dear reader. You are important! You matter!

images-1

“The future is purchased by the present.” Dr. Samuel Johnson

What will your legacy be?

Feb 16, 2015 - My Story, speaking, Writing    1 Comment

Seeking Rest for my Soul

I hear voices.

Well, one in particular. It whispers to me that it is unsatisfied with my work, my efforts, my productivity, and my choices. It tells me lies. It tells me that I have to do more and be more. That I have to earn rest and that work is always more important than rest.

Do you hear a similar voice inside your head that tells you to do more and to be more?

I shared my voice with these ladies last weekend at the Hays Hills Baptist Church Women’s Retreat and they understood. They didn’t scoff at my voice. They were acquainted with this voice and its lying words too well already. We don’t know how to rest well, or be still as a society. We might have periods of inactivity, but our minds, hearts, and souls continue to churn.

hays hills womens retreat

 

We fought for rest together. We fought for truth together. We fought for Sabbath together.

I’ve been thinking about Sabbath and rest for years and I was thrilled to share my research and thoughts with an audience. It was a huge boost to my confidence. I wrote these words with my friend and editor, Abby, and we were finally able to share them. Our gifts of writing and communication were recognized and encouraged. It was amazing to me that people were taking notes on my words. That they were asking me questions as if I was the expert. I giggled in glee that someone chose my words to write on her mug!

mug worry future

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Hays Hills Baptist Church for being so welcoming of me and for encouraging me through your questions and thoughts throughout the weekend. Thank you also to Aaron and Lindsay Kahler who were instrumental in getting me invited to speak in the first place. To the retreat planning committee who took care of every detail so that I just had to show up and talk! To Abby who has weekly picked apart this text with me word by word to make it the best it could possibly be! And a huge thank you to everyone who knew I was speaking and was praying for me back home. I felt incredibly encouraged and blessed this past weekend. Thank you for being a part of this adventure.

come to me and i will give you rest

Jan 13, 2015 - Writing    No Comments

Seeing the Story

I’m a writer.

I learn this about myself more every day. I compose prose in the car on my way to work and think about more powerful synonyms for common words when I’m running. Words are my friends and continual companions.

But even more important than my thesaurus, are my eyes. I long to notice what others ignore in life. I want to have sharp vision and a soft heart. I want to see the story.

I had this moment while walking to work last week. I work at a large hospital and have to park half a mile away and cross train tracks to the main building. It’s quite exciting every morning, especially depending on the train schedule! The other day as I was still bleary-eyed in the early morning hours noticed this on the train tracks:

sock on train tracks

If you can’t see it well. It is a neon pink and green ankle sock crunched down beside the train tracks.

I saw it, strolled past, giggled, and returned to take this image while thinking, “How in the world did this happen?” I wanted to know the back story. Immediately my mind began concocting possibilities.

Was this the left over of a modern-day Cinderella production where the heroine loses a brightly colored sock instead of a glass slipper?

Is this the evidence of a new semaphore system with colored socks instead of flags?

Was someone running away from a masked man who was in hot pursuit? Perhaps her feet were pumping in rhythms faster than her heart rate. When she heard the distant train whistle. Pushing through the aching and protesting muscles, she gritted her teeth and pushed herself faster than she thought possible. The guard arms began to flash and lower. She yearned for oxygen. Just a bit further. She dove, stretched out, diving in front of the speeding locomotive and simultaneously catching her right foot on the asphalt loosing both sock and shoe in the process, but also giving her self some much-needed separation from the cloaked pursuer. And leaving me a small clue to her whereabouts.

Or perhaps it just fell out of someone’s gym bag as she was headed to work just as I was.

The answer doesn’t matter. The ability to see and create the story does!

What do you think happened? What story could you create with this small prompt?

 

Aug 26, 2014 - Writing    No Comments

Words are Powerful

I think on paper.

That’s not just a website; it’s a statement.

Writing is how I process life the best. Sometimes that makes me feel like an alien creature, exploring a new planet with my ever-present Moleskine. I don’t know what I really think about something until I write it down.

But recently, I found my people. There are many others who know this feeling. Who think of words as friends. Who are also exploring daily, pen in hand.

stack of books, gospel coalition

I was invited to the Band of Bloggers workshop at The Gospel Coalition National Women’s Conference and it was delightful. We were welcomed by a stack of free books which publishers graciously provided to encourage potential future authors. Several dozen word-lovers chatted together, exchanging websites, and book recommendations. We also listened to a panel of writers discuss the perilous and arduous journey that is writing and publishing.

The most powerful thing said during this time was stated more of an aside than a main point. Blogger and author, Jen Wilkin, said, “You have to have people reading your writing. Words are powerful. They change opinions and lives. If you aren’t sharing your drafts with people you aren’t accurately realizing the power of your words”

Words are powerful. They’ve changed my life again and again. I want everything I write to be uplifting, honest, and beneficial. I want to think about posts and write well and never be flippant with what I publish. That would be doing myself and my reader a huge disservice and negating the weight that well-crafted words wield. It was a beautiful to be with like minded people and to be reminded of the mightiness of the pen! Moleskine in hand, I continue exploring, because I think on paper.

Words are powerful. How have they changed your life?

Action and Non-Action

Because time is a finite resource, every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Every choice I make. What book to read, what movie to watch, what food to eat, what topic to write about, necessarily involves not reading other books, watching other movies, eating other foods or writing about other topics concurrently. I can only perform one at a time.

As discussed in my last post, I learned this from an unlikely source, A book titled How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard.

how to talk about books you haven't read

I’ve been thinking about this some more, wanting my choices to be the best possible. I am sometimes swamped with possibilities, invites, offers, requests, and commitments. Everything I say “yes” to involves saying “no” to numerous other possibilities. I say this not to heighten the stakes, leaving me indecisive and ineffective, but to remind myself that time is valuable. It should be used well, thought-through, and intentional. I should be living each day on purpose not thrown into it be default. Am I saying “yes” intentionally to the things that are most important in life? Within reason, am I looking at the options I’m saying “no” to and weighing my options before deciding? Does this thought process excite or terrify me?

As I said a few days ago in reference to books and reading, I now exclaim for the rest of life: Every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Therefore, choose wisely!

Does this help you in decision making or make you nervous?

Aug 10, 2014 - Book Review, Writing    No Comments

How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

Every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

That’s deep.

I learned that while reading, somewhat distractedly on a plane and had to turn back and re-read it. A professor wrote a delightful book entitled How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. 

 

how to talk about books you haven't read

 

In it he began by bemoaning his lot in life as a literary professor who could not possibly read all the books he was expected to. Expected by university and students alike to have a working knowledge of all major works since the dawn of recorded time, no one could live up to such reading proficiency. Bayard discusses the benefits of skimming, familiarity, and thematic resonance possible to broaden his base of books from which he can speak intelligently about — even if he hasn’t actually read them.

Which made me feel a little bit better. I read fairly extensively, but it seems as I work my way through my list of read books, the list of unread and deserving to be read books lengthens exponentially. Thus in every decision to read, I pick up one book, and I at the same down leave thousand of books unread. Because time is a finite resource, this is true in all areas of life. Every action involves an infinite amount of non-actions.

Therefore, choose wisely.

Jan 31, 2014 - My Story, Writing    2 Comments

Abundant

I’ve chosen a word. One word to define 2014. Abby’s explosive prayer greatly influenced my thoughts. The phrase holy imbalance has consumed my thought life.

Abundant will direct my holy imbalance in 2014. Here is my journal entry:

Abundant. There are an abundant of choices for me every day. Choices that are good and choices that are better. I feel pulled in an abundant different directions and I am only one person. Sometimes I stand in the midst of choices and feel overwhelmed. Sometimes paralyzed. Sometimes excited.

Abundant involves saying “no”.

Saying “no” to less than the best use of my time, talents, and energy is the gateway to the abundant life.

And abundant involves wanting more. Believing that God has “abundantly more than all I could ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20-21). I want adventure and more in all the right areas. I want to push and strive and yearn for God’s best for me.

Abundant involves saying, “yes!” Unabashedly walking in the works God has prepared before hand for me.

Abundant involves saying “no” to the good in order to say “yes” to the best. 

Praying that my 2014 may be abundant in all the right ways.

Have you chosen a word?

Jan 24, 2014 - My Story, Writing    No Comments

One Word

Last week my boss gave me a challenge.

More than productivity, or professional development or adjusting to a changing health care scene — she challenged me to have focus, goals, direction, determination — and one word to sum it all up.

She had seen a special on a national news channel about a man who was fed up repeatedly making New Year’s Resolutions and  inevitably failing at them a few weeks into the year. He said we tried too much at once, split our attention, lost focus, and failed to reach our goals.

He had a new solution: pick one word. 

Choose one word that you want to represent your year. Select a word that has deep meaning, either of things expected or hoped for during the year. Use this word to guide your decisions, focus your thoughts and let it steer your year.

I often choose a word in retrospect to define a year, but I have never chosen one in anticipation of what is to come.

What word will define 2014? What do I hope for twelve months from now? How can one word sum up so much time?

I’ve been challenged and I’m still thinking of my word.

I give you the same challenge: What is your word?

one word

Pages:12»
%d bloggers like this: