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?

Nov 14, 2015 - Devotional    2 Comments

Accepting Help

I can help edit a book. Work on a project. Paint a house. Clean a road. Or do endless therapy for children in need. But I can’t accept a ride to the airport.

I much prefer being the helper than the helpee.

I have a pathological need to be independent and do it all myself. It is actually really hard for me to accept help without feeling like a burden, even when it is offered freely. I don’t like accepting rides or money or getting all the credit for a group project. I am afraid of appearing perpetually needy, which makes me hesitant to voice my needs. I am learning to realize that it is okay for me to have needs. That people want to help me! And that by not voicing or accepting my needs I am denying me the opportunity to be helped and cared for, AND I’m denying them the opportunity to help.

Think about this. If someone were to come to me and ask about how to do exercise with an infant to strengthen his trunk muscles, I would be overjoyed to provide advise, demonstration, or even come for a playdate to help out this mom! I love babies and helping them develop is what I do for a living. It would give me great joy to share my knowledge and interest in this subject with someone else. Perhaps people who are experts in car repair or financial planning or flower arranging feel the same way when they are asked for their expertise. I can ask for help, knowing that they can easily say no, but giving the opportunity for me to be helped and for them to feel valued for their skills and knowledge. Yes, there are limitations to this! (Don’t expect free medical care from your physician friends!) Understand when your friends can’t help you and thank them anyway. In these cases, it is still a powerful reminder to me that I can’t do it all, that I need others in my life in big ways and small ways. It reminds me that true relationships are two-way streets with both needing and giving help at different times.

To everyone who offers me help, and accepts mine, thanks for traveling this two-way street with me!

Oct 28, 2015 - Devotional    No Comments

Chaos

Life is messy. I try to pretend that it’s not, but that is futile. People are messy. Entropy happens. Chaos surrounds me. I tend to deal with the messiness of life by cleaning and organizing what I can, even if they’re unrelated. You can tell when work is especially hectic, because my bathroom is spotless. I once procrastinated on starting a new writing assignment in order to alphabetize my DVD collection. The former felt messier because it was starting a new project with an unknown end date. The latter could easily be checked off my to-do list.

But life is inherently messy. I try to avoid it and fight it, but eventually I have to live in it. Deal with it. But I want to do more than that. I don’t want to white knuckle my relationship with chaos. I want more than grin and bear it or it will be an awfully long time dealing with messiness.

My dad gave me some new advice… and an assignment.

“Find the fun in the chaos.”

It’s true, there is a chaos that is off-putting, overwhelming, and chest-tightening. This is the chaos we all avoid. But there is also a chaos that is alluring, unknown, adventurous.

This chaos is wonderful.

This is the wonderful chaos of childhood. I recently spent a week with two of my little friends and experienced the alluring chaos of childhood. These kids ran whenever possible, climbed on anything they could reach, and imagined themselves as every superhero I’ve ever heard of.. and they made up some more! They pulled me into their imaginations, creativity, chaos and adventure. And this chaos I loved.

valor

 

I loved flying the bunk bed spaceship to Texas and beating the invisible bad guys who liked to eat Goldfish crackers. I loved experiencing life without concept of time or date or restriction. I loved how often the imaginative story changed, so fast that I couldn’t even keep up, I wasn’t in charge, play was in charge…and it was delightful.percy

This week of vacation, I didn’t fold my clothes or put my stuff away. It remained scattered on the dresser and the floor waiting to be used again. I lived in the chaos, not feeling the need to organize, structure or restrict. It was both stressful and glorious. I saved time not tidying every day. Everything I needed was scattered on the top of the dresser. I trained myself that neatness doesn’t equal success. That the goal of life isn’t avoidance of the clutter or the mess. That no matter how neat and tidy I am, mess will find me.

I don’t have to seek the mess; it’s not my job to avoid the mess. I must live well in the mess. And find the fun hiding in the midst of chaos.

How do you deal with life’s messiness?

Oct 21, 2015 - Devotional, travel    2 Comments

Ordeals and Adventures

Airports.

I have a love hate relationship with them. I enjoy the excited bustle and people watching. And I dislike the delays and feeling of being out of control. Which is where I am now. Delayed. Waiting on a mechanic. Surrounded by griping fellow flyers. Unable to board the plane.

first class air plane

I have missed my fair share of connections and this makes me an anxious traveler. My strategy is to plan extra time into every flight. Lengthy layovers and “spill over time” on the tail end of every trip. This is my strategy to deal with stress and anxiety because of the unexpected. But even more than my built-in wiggle room, I try to change my outlook whenever I’m traveling.

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately:

“Attitude is what separates an adventure from an ordeal.”

We’re familiar with ordeals. Cancelled flights. Traffic. People in the express line with way more than ten items. I’ve experienced enough ordeals in my life. I need more adventures!

I tend to think of adventures as being planned. Vacations. Parties. Sporting events. But can I have some taste of adventure every day? Can my attitude change my everyday experiences from ordeals to adventures. What if traffic on my typical route home encourages me to take a new road home? Can this be an adventure? What if instead of rolling my eyes at the express lane wannabes, I used my energy to imagine the back story of these people trying to squeeze twenty items into ten? What if instead of huffing at the Delta agent who is kindly informing me of the delay, I saw my delayed flight as the perfect window to snag some writing time.

My attitude is powerful, it can change an ordeal into an adventure. And you’re reading my “unexpected time” writing ordeal adventure. It’s a good thing I had some unexpected time to think about this, huh?

Do you long for more ordeals or more adventures in your life?

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?

Sep 5, 2015 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

Beginnings

Happy New Year!

Yes, I realize that it is September. Even though I’ve been out of school for quite some time, the fall still feels like a new beginning to me. My brain still functions on a semester schedule, even though my schedule doesn’t look much different in June versus October. I’ve been trained through years of schooling that the fall is a time for new beginnings. For getting organized. For starting a new challenge.

I could be frustrated by the apparent sameness of my life and schedule. A new year of school feels like an adventure. I would get all my school supplies organized. Get a new class schedule. Be surrounded by new people. And learn something new. It was very exciting! Sometimes I feel like adulthood is mundane, like a long string of Tuesdays back to back.  But I want some adventure. Some change. Some movement. I believe that our hearts are wired for rhythms, for ebb and flow, for expected fluctuations. Whether it is seasons, weather changes, holidays, or weekends. Expected changes and rhythm help us pace our lives.

 

I remember seeing everyone’s first day of school pictures on social media last year. From little tykes with their first backpacks headed to Kindergarten, to strapping lads bedecked with their collegiate best, and every age in between. This year, I wanted to join the party; so I snapped this photo!

first day of school

Yes, my schedule doesn’t change much. My surroundings aren’t completely different. But I can still celebrate new goals, new adventures, and new challenges in the continual journey of life. Happy New Year, everyone. May it be a great one!

Aug 19, 2015 - Devotional    No Comments

Silence

“No news is good news,” as the old adage says.

But is that always true?

I’m not so sure. As our Internet connections have become constant companions in our pockets, the adage carries far less weight. Myriads of articles have been written about the ploy of social media. We present our best image in these places. Our accounts and walls make it seem like we are always out having adventures, smiling with friends, and achieving personal victories. Because that is what we post about.

But is that image true? What is life like when there are no posts? What does the silence mean?

It might mean that we are too busy having adventures to keep rest of the world in the know. Or it might mean that we’re trolling social media sites late at night jealously watching our friends’ grand adventures bemoaning our own current state. We can’t be sure. Silence doesn’t always mean things are fine. We tend not to post about our low moments and even less about the “meh” days where we’re not exactly sure what we’re feeling. And often times these are the very days we spend staring at screens watching other people’s’ high moments! It is a clash of emotions waiting to happen.

I desire to have a more balanced online presence. I want to post about adventures as well as the ridiculous things I do and hard providences that bring tears to my eyes. My life is far from balanced and perfect and I want people to know that its okay.

So if you haven’t heard from a friend since her hiking escapade in New Zealand two months ago, drop her a line. She may be staring at other people’s’ Facebook accounts that very moment just wishing for a friend.

No news isn’t always good news.

attached to cell phones

Aug 15, 2015 - Devotional    1 Comment

Stillness and Massage

I struggle with stillness.

I love productivity and efficiency. I think these things define a good day. I love checking thing off of my list. But I’ve been slowly changing my definition of a good day.

I thought about this today as I got a massage. It is a treat that I budget for and enjoy thoroughly for many reasons. One, between running long distances, working long hours, and being otherwise productive, my muscles tend to get angry at me. Two, it is a way to receive positive touch. As a single person, my “touch meter” is often low. And most importantly, three, it is training in stillness for my heart. I have to lie still for an hour, listen to soothing music, smell aromatic fragrances, and do nothing.

And I find this difficult!

I’ve been studying the Sabbath for years now. I’ve grown to love the beauty of this day designed from the beginning for our good and God’s glory. We need stillness. We need rest. We need rhythms in life. They are good and necessary. But they don’t always come naturally. We think we have to do it all and be responsible for everything, but that is a lie.

My soul needs further stillness training. To paraphrase Augustine, it will be restless until it finds its rest in the Lord. And how joyful to seek rest in a God who knew I would long for such rest and provided a weekly reminder to seek it.

Perhaps I should increase my massages to weekly too for further stillness training!

come to me and i will give you rest

Jul 30, 2015 - My Story    1 Comment

Time, Energy, and Money

You have a few resources always at your disposal. These items are frustratingly limited: time, energy, and money.

At most, you can have two of these resources at a time. Sometimes you have just one, but very rarely do all three show up concurrently!

When you are young and fresh you have scads of energy and oodles of time. But no money. You save up in your piggy bank and think life will be better when you have money.

And then a few years passes and you get a job. What an exciting day! You’re working and that’s a good thing and you get a paycheck which puts your allowance to shame. You have some money and still a good amount of energy, but no time. You’re in the throes of careers and parenthood and time is your most limited resource. This is how I feel currently. Bemoaning the busyness of my schedule!

And then a few more years pass, and you likely have some money saved up and you enter this magical time called retirement where you suddenly have free time again… but no energy. Years in the work force and raising kids, and the anxieties of life have stolen your pep. And you think back over these resources in your life and realize the true greenness of grass on each side of the fence!

 

green grass plant

As I think about this common predicament, I long to live a balanced life with at least some of each resource because in many cases they are related. If I work overtime, I have more money, but less free time. If I sign up for a race, I have more energy (after training!), but less money (races are expensive) and less free time (because it takes a long time to run 10 miles!) If I take a vacation, I have unspoken-for time and renewed energy, but less money.

I long to live a balanced life and have a bit of each resource at my disposal. I do not want to be skewed or owned by any of them, but to use my time, energy, and money to the best of my ability wherever the Lord leads me. But how to do this still evades me… any tips?

What is your most limited resource currently?

 

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?

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