Jan 31, 2016 - Health, Running    2 Comments

Rebel Challenge

Flying across the country.

Waking up at 3 am (many times…)

Running 19.3 miles.

Worth it!

I participated in the Star Wars Half Marathon Rebel Challenge two weeks ago and scored some major victory points and bling by doing two races in back to back days. I got to spend some time with delightful people, visit the happiest place on earth, and prove to myself, yet again, that I am capable of things I never thought possible.

Running has taught me a lot about life. Growing up, I was the asthmatic kid who was picked last for kickball. I could never run. In fact, I completed my first ever mile without stopping when I was thirty years old. Even now, I am not fast, I do not complete with my corral-mates. I just plod along… for hours. For nineteen miles!

My running is far from flashy. Far from perfect. Far from fast. But I go. I move forward. I’ve been learning that life is a series of small steps, which when taken faithfully, can add up to something great!

I keep telling myself not to worry so much about the Finish line. But to focus on having the courage to start! Do something you don’t think is possible. Then hustle, train, and prepare! And you just might shock yourself.

Small steps can move you.

Where are you running?

 

IMG_4226 IMG_20160116_074100757 IMG_4238Boba Fettfinish line star wars half marathonIMG_4252

Jan 27, 2016 - Health    1 Comment

72 Hours

72 Hours.

Depending on what you’re measuring it could be an incredibly long or an incredibly short time. Consider building a cathedral in 72 hours versus holding your breath for 72 hours.

For me, 72 hours is the length of time that my patience lasts before giving out entirely.

I took ill last week. Typical symptoms: sniffles, scratchy throat, fatigue. Never fear! I will fight these germs head on! I stayed home from work, cancelled all plans for three days, hydrated, rested, and barely left my bed for 72 hours.

sick, ill, snot, kleenex

And after waking myself up in a colossal coughing fit on the morning of the fourth day, I became enraged. I did everything right! I laid low, took care of myself, used a dozen boxes of Kleenex. And everything north of my diaphragm was revolting against me. My patience was gone; I felt I deserved health at this point.

I ripped the covers off in a huff to begin the de-snotting process, “God help me if I’m ever really, really sick.”

Whoa.

I am literally surrounded by people fighting off illness, injury, infection, and infirmity at work. Children and families who are stuck in bed (and sitting bedside) for far longer than 72 hours. So instead of being angry, I’d like to say:

To the high risk mama with the aching back after weeks (months!) of bedrest, your work is worth it. I see you.

To the little kid who had brain surgery and has been stuck in bed with tubes and drains ever since just longing to get up and play. I see you.

To the mom and dad of all my little patients wondering about the future and sitting crib-side holding little hands. Your care is powerful. I see you.

To everyone who has ever been sick, bedridden, silenced, downcast, or sidelined. My 72 hours has given me just a taste of your story. I see you. I want this experience of lost patience and waning health to help me see you even more.

To feel seen is a powerful thing.

Jan 6, 2016 - Devotional    No Comments

Faster or Further

I am an efficient person. I pride myself on getting things done, checking off tasks and celebrating accomplishments. I like to go fast. I will always volunteer for the projects that can be done solo because then I know my work ethic and speed and am confident that I can complete them by the deadline. It’s those other pesky committee members who slow me down. I like fast. I want to be done. I want to sprint!

But further is also attractive. It indicates sustainability and lasting change. Further means going at a sustainable pace and being involved for the long haul. And it implies community. Further means being pensive, considering all angles, and making decisions together.

I heard a quote which blew my mind recently:

You go faster alone, but further together.

(insert mind-blowing sound effect here)

Efficiency doesn’t achieve what I really want. I want to push forward in many areas of life. Whether it be a new ministry opportunity, or method for intervention at work, or health goal. I want to sprint, reach the goal, finish line, or answer first. But it’s lonely there. I can go faster alone, but what I really long for is culture change, and working alongside others to go further.

I can go fast alone. I desire to go further together.

images-1

 

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?

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?

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