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!

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“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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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.

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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!

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Salerno 2015 - Mike-394

Salerno 2015 - Mike-8

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Salerno 2015 - Mike-460Ciao!

Jun 2, 2015 - travel    No Comments

A Very Present Photograph

I just returned from Italy, the land of good food, large gatherings, and plentiful hand gestures for communication.

I had a delightful time. Va bene.

I traversed hundreds of miles via planes, trains and automobiles. I hoofed dozens of miles with my own two feet. I witnessed literally centuries of history: People, places, vistas, monuments. And in all of this travel, I took only one photograph.

Would you like to see it? Would you like to see how I summarized the entire experience of a lifetime in a single picture?

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Could have done better, eh? This sign in the airport bathroom made me giggle so I snapped a picture of it before I turned off my phone. We had strict packing guidelines for this trip and my digital SLR just didn’t make the cut. I also chose not to upgrade to an international phone plan so my cellular phone spent ten days off to allow me to be off the grid.

Both of these decisions were made purposefully to allow me to be fully present. I took one photograph not because nothing else was worthy, but because everything was worthy! I wanted to be immersed and fully present where I was for the short time we had in Italy. I wanted to see the sights with my own eyes and trust my teammates (who had better camera equipment than me anyway!) to capture the beauty. One day, I sat on the boat returning from Amalfi, perhaps the most beautiful coastline in the world. I was drowsy and tempted to nod off through the steady rocking of the boat. And yet I thought to myself, “These sights will not be before these eyes forever. Enjoy them today. Soak it in.”

Be present. Enjoy. Take mental pictures. I long to capture moments by turning off my phone and camera and enjoying the setting in my being instead of through my technology.

So I only took one photo. And I’m totally okay with that. Va bene.

 

What will not be in front of your eyes forever? Children, views, art, projects, cities, concerts, ceremonies. What makes you want to be fully engaged now and how can you be better at being present? 

May 30, 2015 - travel    2 Comments

Va Bene

Officially my favorite Italian phrase, va bene means, “It’s going good” and could be substituted for “sounds good” in a typical English sentence.

It is decidedly how I describe our trip to Italy.

Va bene.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-24

It was good. It was life changing. It showed me a people and a culture in a way I never imagined. We worked hard and we played hard. We scrubbed mold and killed bugs, and constructed stages, and served those on the front lines of the gospel. And we played hard. We visited one of the most beautiful places in the world, saw 15 miles worth of sites in Rome, and played bilingual Pictionary.

Va bene.

We became a team. We made lifelong memories. We served. We were blessed. Immensely.

Salerno 2015 - Mike-13

 

 

Va bene. 

What defines goodness? Was it how much we got accomplished or how many Italians we interacted with or the sights that we saw? No. That was amazing, but the presence of the Lord was what made this trip va bene. The Lord was present in our team, in the church, and in my heart. I got to thinking that every time I give my time, heart, and life, to the Lord it “is going good.”

Thank you to everyone who made this trip a reality. I am excited to share more as I continue to process nine days of amazing people, work, sights, and lessons learned. Thank you for being a part of this goodness.

Va bene.

 

Apr 26, 2015 - My Story    No Comments

Goodwill Hunting

I love treasure hunts!

Every Christmas Eve my family creates searches for each other so that we have to earn our first present of the season. On my 24th birthday several friends made a scavenger hunt for me and I still laugh about the crazy things I had to do and find. I like the search better than the present in many cases.

That’s why I go to Goodwill.

Goodwill Hunting (see what I did there?!?) is just a big scavenger hunt. I pride myself on being able to make costumes for under $5 with the help of felt, hot glue, and Goodwill. And this is the best fodder for white elephant gifts around! I knew the joy of these excursions long before Macklemore popularized the idea.

A cluster of Goodwill finds to recreate Mrs. Doubtfire!

A cluster of Goodwill finds to recreate Mrs. Doubtfire!

I was Goodwill Hunting recently and met a kindred spirit in this regard. She had a shopping cart full of items: linens, bedding, an odd piece of furniture. I commented on her finds and she said, “Yes, I love me some G-dubs. My friends comment on my style a lot and that’s what I tell them. Go to G-dubs.”

She was hilarious. She got the treasure hunt mentality. That day she had a cart full of booty and she was ready to celebrate.

Goodwill Hunting: what will you find?

Apr 22, 2015 - Devotional, My Story    No Comments

Valuing Your Future Self

I think about a special someone often. I care deeply about her. I want her to do well in life and be set up for success. She’s kind and funny and warm and (hopefully) more wise, stable, and adventurous than me!

I’m thinking about Future Kelly.

I know that all my decisions affect my future self and I take that seriously. I want Future Kelly to be set up for success. I want my hard work and efforts to pay off. I think about my future self when I contribute to my 401K. And when I say no to a second serving of dessert. And when I push myself during a work out. And when I invest in relationships that matter. And especially when I think eternally.

 

Future Kelly benefits from me eating vegetables, having a healthy cardiovascular system, and a growing nest egg, but what she really needs is an eternal perspective. More than healthy eating and wise investments on this side of Heaven, she will benefit from eating the bread of life and investing in eternal matters. I care about Future Kelly and I want to focus on the things that will be important to her.

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Matthew 6: 19-20

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[e] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

How are you valuing your future self?

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