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?

Jul 22, 2015 - Crafting    No Comments

Crafting for a Cause!

Number of bag, boxes and containers full of flair for craft fair on Saturday: two dozen.

Number of items still wishing to make: hundreds! (but realistically 10)

Number of trips to Hobby Lobby: 4 (this week alone!)

I’m busy preparing for my craft fair, The Little Ears Expo, this Saturday!

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crafting jewelryIMG_1270IMG_1590IMG_1589IMG_1302

I love creating things. I get so excited to assemble, craft, and create jewelry and hair flair! It gives me an outlet unlike anything else. I love coming home putting on a movie and working with my hands. I love seeing my creations bedecking the necks, wrists, ears, and locks of my friends.

Crafting helps me share one of my life philosophies: celebrate every day. I believe in celebrating small victories and little goals. One of the most important skills I learned in six years of occupational therapy schooling was how to break down items into their smallest component parts. I once wrote a ten page paper on the skills necessary to change the batteries in a remote. Fine motor skills, pincer grasp, visual perceptual skills, and the cognitive ability to realize the dead batteries are the culprit in the first place. When we don’t breakdown tasks into their component parts, we have more difficulty seeing progress, which causes us not to celebrate enough.

Creating flair lets me have a tiny celebration every day.

I wear royal blue scrubs everyday. And while this allows me to mindlessly get dressed in the dark without fear of mismatched clothing, it doesn’t create much opportunity for individuality or excitement. So I started making Flair. Everyday I get to celebrate in two small ways: I get to choose a flower for my hair and dress-code approved earrings (which often match my funky socks).

Life is pretty amazing. Creating Flair is one way I celebrate.

How do you celebrate the everyday?

Jun 25, 2015 - Devotional, My Story    1 Comment

Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition is one of my favorite words. It ranks in my mind alongside onomatopoeia, hyperbole, and synecdoche both in multi-syllabic rhythm and definitional genius! Juxtaposition is the perfect term for certain situations. It is a noun meaning “an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.” 

Two things that shouldn’t exist alongside each other suddenly thrown together. It can have quite the effect. I experienced this in a fun way a few weeks ago while I was bowling in the library.

Yes, that’s not a typo.

I went bowling in the theological library. My roommate, who works there, set up a game night for the students and their families. It was hilarious to me to juxtapose the expectation of quietness and reserve of the library with the noise and activity of bowling. I had a grand time. And not just because the shelves acted like bumpers nearly guaranteeing a strike every time!

library bowling

library bowling

library bowling

It got me thinking about other contradictions which are pushed together in my own heart. I am a jumble of contradictory emotions and experiences. I both pride myself on being introspective and high on self-knowledge, but am also blindsided by things about myself that I’ve somehow missed for decades. I am a curious mixture of joy and sadness, hope and fear, knowledge and ignorance, anxiety and adventure. I do not understand how all of these feelings can coexist in one person. And that is the adventure of life. It is full of peculiar turns and extraordinary mash-ups, just as unexpected as bowling in a library.

What juxtapositions have you experienced lately?

Jun 20, 2015 - travel    No Comments

Quiet Hour

My life needs a quiet hour. I am continually prodded for more productivity, accomplishments, efficiency. Much of this prodding comes from within my own head and heart. There are very few voices in my life telling me to stop. Rest. Just be.

I need more of those voices.

I need a quiet hour. Every day. A time to remind myself that I’m not in charge. That I’m not in control. That I’m not responsible for everything.

I need to live at a sustainable pace.

I need to move to Italy.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-45

Quiet hour is a social construct in Italy. It’s expected. Most people in Salerno close their shops, head home for lunch, and then have a quiet hour. They can nap, read, rest, or just have a time of stillness. It was socially enforced to the point that we had to turn off music and couldn’t vacuum during the quiet hour out of respect for our neighbors while we were working there. After an hour of two, Italians head back to their jobs to finish their day, rejuvenated and refreshed.

It was a powerful reminder to me as a mini, daily Sabbath.

I’ve been studying Sabbath for years now. I understand the importance of it more intellectually, but I still find it difficult to practice. Italy is helping me with that. I long to change the pace at which I run in life and have some quietness and stillness to remind my heart that it’s okay. It’s okay if I don’t have all the answers. It’s okay if I don’t get everything checked off my to-do list. It’s okay if I need a rest.

No, it’s more than okay. It’s commanded.

Exodus 20:8-11

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

How to you encourage restfulness in your heart and life?

Indiana Jones and the Mamertine Prison

No, this is not an anticipated fifth Indiana Jones movie. It’s just what I thought about when I was in Rome.

(I promise the analogy will make sense in the end!)

I traveled to Salerno on a mission trip and we worked hard for a week helping a church plant get set up in their new worship center.

And then we celebrated! Celebrated our work and what God had done over the week. We walked fifteen miles in Rome and saw so many notable sites: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Trevi fountain, the Roman aqueducts, the Spanish Steps, the Forum, Senate and Colosseum. These were lavish, sites bursting with historic significance, glamour, and intrigue.

But the plainest, most understated sight was my favorite.

The Mamertine Prison, a single, drafty, underground room near the forum, was the site that most changed my life. The room was small, dim, and understated, but it is the room where Paul dictated (likely through a grating in the ceiling) many epistles which have altered the course of history. This could have been the room where Paul wrote Philippians, four small chapters that changed my life. But whether in this room or under house arrest, the language of guarding jumped off the page in new ways to me. I was near tears as I thought about Paul talked about the joy he had in Christ while imprisoned.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-424 mamertine prison

And then I thought about Indiana Jones.

Specifically, I thought about the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where he is forced to choose the holy grail. Initially his nemesis chooses the golden, bejeweled chalice as the cup of the King of Kings. Afterwards, Indy chooses the understated, scratched, clay pot saying, “This is the cup of a carpenter.” This is a powerful scene that in a way highlights both the transcendence and imminence of Christ. Yes, He could have chosen to drink from the golden cup, to exert authority and power, and would have been within His rights to do that. What is amazing is that he condescended himself, took on flesh, experienced temptation and pain, and drank from the plain clay pot. I had seen extraordinary and beautiful things in Rome that day and the unexpected “clay pot” was my favorite.

God has a way of making ordinary things extraordinary. A stable. Bread and wine. Even a prison cell in Rome. I was struck as I thought about the beauty of this often overlooked, understated, holy room.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-423

What ordinary thing has God made extraordinary in your experience?

Jun 12, 2015 - travel    1 Comment

Salerno Team 2015

I made six great friends.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-409

Being knee-deep in black mold has a way of bonding people!

We are the Salerno Team!

Italy-Salerno

Salerno 2015 - Mike-13

We traveled to help the Valiquettes and the Davidsons in Salerno, Italy. We painted, we cleaned, we constructed a stage, we disinfected, we ran cables, we swept, we sealed, we organized, we vacuumed and mopped, we declared war on mold!

war on mold

Those are the tasks we were assigned. But here’s what we really did. We encouraged those who serve on the front lines. We made a house a home. We encouraged restfulness. We built relationships among a scattered network. We showed people, and were shown the Gospel in a new way. We created a space for worship. We fell in love with a people and a culture.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-24

We worked hard. We played hard. We prayed hard.

It was awesome.

I am thankful that blessing goes both ways. We went to serve and to be a blessing and ended up immensely blessed. I appreciated the Italians who befriended us and asked real questions. I appreciated the pace of life and frequent rest times in Italy that made me relax. I appreciated the welcoming table and never-ending food supply we experienced. I appreciated my team who got sillier as the week went by instead of irritated. I am thankful that it was va bene. Good. Good because God was in it all.

Thank you to everyone who gave financially, prayed, asked me questions, wanted to see pictures, and was excited as I went on this trip. It was delightful. Thanks for being a part of it!

Here’s some more beautiful pictures of our time!

Salerno 2015 - Mike-224

Salerno 2015 - Mike-394

Salerno 2015 - Mike-8

Salerno 2015 - Mike-45

Salerno 2015 - Mike-460Ciao!

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