For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A New Thing--A New Name (sort of)

With the future filled with uncertainty and the possibility of great change, I have opted to return to Jerri Kelley as my writing/speaking name. As a result, I will be changing blogs to Jerri Kelley effective immediately. 
If you are linked here, would you please update your link to the new blog. 
Thank you.

Purposed Rain

One of the hardest things for me as a blogger is picking a template for my blog.  I have so many ideas, so many facets of my writing and my life, and I want to find something that encompasses all that God has put in me and all He is doing at that time.  Usually, though, I end up picking something about Him and what He is to me at that moment.

For now, the theme for this blog is Picture Window.  At first, it seemed rather dreary--the dark clouds, the rain, the ominous mountains in the distance.  Except, it made me smile, and I felt right at home. 

The rain captured me. 

I love rain. I love to listen to it fall on the roof and hit the windows and splash off the eves in miniature waterfalls.  Mostly, I love to stand in it.  I love to just be while it falls on me, washing my face, refreshing my arms, soaking my clothes.  It is peace falling from the sky in small droplets of water.  Rain's ability to wash away not only the physical dirt but the mental and emotional dirt, too, amazes me.

However, rain means more to me than a good shower. Isaiah 55 compares the Word of God to rain, and it is attached to a wondrous promise. 

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (verses 10-11)

God's word will not return empty.  It will accomplish His desire and achieve His purpose.
I am captured. 

Worries, doubts, fears...washed away...
Peace, hope, refreshing...wash over me...soak into me...

Yes, Lord, accomplish and me...through me...despite me...

Let the rain come.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Comfort on the Path Alone

When my dad was in the hospital the last time, I knew it was a matter of days. The year had been hard, in and out of hospitals, procedures, ICU, long drives, short nights, an ocean of tears. Now, the battle was coming to an end, and despite the effort to prepare emotionally and mentally, one never knows what to do when the time finally arrives.

My friend Diana did one of the most unorthodox--and so desperately needed--things I can imagine. She took me out for a day, not a day of processing or preparing for the inevitable, but a day of coffee, chocolate, lunch, a glass of wine, shopping, and laughter. Oh!, the laughter! We reminisced, not about my dad, but about college, boy friends--especially the one we shared :-) --friends...did I mention the laughter?

I went home after my day with Di and slept...hard...peacefully...comforted.

A week later Diana stood with me as they wheeled my dad's casket from the church to the hearse. She squeezed my hand, hugged my neck, and let me go. It was all she could do. Some paths can only be walked alone...but what you have when you step onto them can determine how well you walk through them. Di had given me all she could, and it was all my heart needed.

Again I am on a path that really can only be walked alone. Grief, hope, and healing are witnessed from the outside but can only be lived within. While others can hug my neck and hold my hand, ultimately, they have to let go and let me walk through stumbling at times, head held high at others, and anywhere in between at any given moment.

But their hearts are with me...and this is the comfort.

It is rarely what is said. In fact, it is more often what isn't. It is more what they do and the tender grace with which they do it.

It is the acceptance of the path, the willingness to witness it, the pain and pleasure of watching me stumble and stand up again I see in their eyes.

It is their willingness to laugh with me at the most seemingly inappropriate places knowing the laughter hedges the pain that would drown me.

It is their quiet grace as they watch me bravely stagger from a joyous occasion because the grief is too heavy and too deep to hide behind a smile.

It is their knowing when a detour is necessary to give strength and not just diversion.

It is the discipline to stand back when they want to rush in with a hug or advice, and it is the deep breath they take and the silenced tongue when I walk in a way they would not and the tender way they pick gravel from my knees without making me feel ashamed or like less when their way was right and mine was wrong.

It is not yelling back when I am yelling at them...and when it isn't at them all but I'm still yelling.

It is the simple texts, "I love you. I believe in you. I am still expecting great things for you." The cards in the mail with elephant seal hugs, butterflies in the becoming, and sunshine on my face.

Sometimes it is the phone calls, and sometimes it is knowing not to call right now.

It's more than being willing to listen. It's being willing to sit in the silence...when tears burn hot...breath comes shaky...and all there is to do is hand over another kleenex.

It is the heart that holds on while letting go, stands fast while stepping away, and answers calls spoken and unspoken. This is the comfort that I take with me on this path...the comfort that while I am walking alone...I'm really not...I'm taking loving hearts with me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Identity--Who I Am


Derivative of Jeremiah. Translated to mean "Mighty warrior" or "Exalted one of God".

This is not my name. It is who I am. It did not change when I made horrendous decisions in high school. It did not change when my dad died and our relationship was left fractured. It did not change three weeks ago when my husband moved out.

I am still Jerri.

I am still the same compassionate person with the same calling on my life. I still like the same decadent desserts, enjoy the same music, and laugh at the same goofy stuff. I still hurt when my friends hurt and rejoice when they rejoice. I still hate doing lesson plans but love the light bulb moment. The beach still speaks to me like nothing else in the world, and I still find myself having mental conversations...aloud. And my hair is as red as it's ever been.

I am still a warrior. I fought for my marriage for nineteen years. I put everything I had into it. As a friend of my says, "not one tactic was left in the tool box". That is how I live. That is who I am. Circumstances and choices made by others do not diminish or change that.

If I had to do it again, I hope I would fight with the same ferocity and hope that I did then, not because it's easy or because there are guarantees, but because it is worth it, and it is what you do. It is what I do. It is who I am.

I still have the same gifts, same dreams, and same passions. I still don't like to cook, and my house still isn't spotless. BUT, I still love the laugh of my children, and snuggling up with them is one of the best places in the world ever.

My faith is still in a perfect God whose power is greater than I can fathom. His promises for me are still yes and amen. He has taken me from the muck and mire, put me on a high place, and given me open spaces. My gifts and anointings are from Him, and they are without repentance.

I am an amazing person and woman, not because of my dress size, the state of my marriage, or the cleanliness of my house but because my God says so.
Only God has the right to define me, and since He hasn't changed, neither have I.

This is who I have always been, and that has not changed.

The only thing that has ever wavered is my choice to live in the truth of who I am. Sometimes I have chosen to think and act in a way effected by people or circumstance, but that was a choice, not an identity. Even a princess can act like a pauper if she chooses.

However, this time, I don't choose to.

This time I choose to live the princess. I choose to be the warrior. I choose to be the redhead with attitude, purpose, and vision.

I also choose to be real, to be vulnerable, to be uncomfortably honest, to be an example for others walking this road. I choose to live my life publicly and feel my feelings honestly so others can be free to be honest, too. I choose to be the light even while the enemy wants me to hide in the darkness.

I choose to believe in healing, redemption, and embrace them...and be a conduit for them...

I choose to be nothing less that who I am.
I choose to be...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

When Okay Really is Okay

How do you tell friends and family that a seemingly bedrock piece of their reality has crumbled? How do you lead them through the collapsed remains when in their wide eyes filled with shock, you can see the reflection of an emptiness, where what once was isn't any longer? How do you take the conviction that God is still able to build something amazing--whatever that may look like--from your heart and place it in theirs? How do you assure them life is still present and despite what looks like decimation? How do you help them breathe?

I don't know.

I feel I have not done it well, although I do not know how I could have or should have done it better. Perhaps a blog entry wasn't the best solution, but I really did not have the mental or emotional energy to write literally hundreds of personal notes and the inevitable replies that would have needed to be addressed. No, sometimes it is easier to drop one massive bomb than to lob hundreds of grenades.

In either case, there is the reaction, and that requires far more tact and gentleness.

When the aftershock of telling people that Rob and I had been separated a few weeks hit, so did the emails, texts, phone calls, and messages. The number of wonderful, loving friends and family who offered support in every way was a healing balm. There is no blanket like the one created by loving people.

It was also overwhelming.

I cannot imagine the shock people around us must have felt when they heard the news. I can only liken it to hearing news of a sudden death. All is fine...and in an instant, in the most unimaginable way possible, it isn't. It is human nature to react to that instant.

However, for us, it wasn't an instant.

I realize every situation is different. We have a friend whose world exploded when her husband walked in one day, told her he was divorcing her (papers in hand), packed his clothes, and walked contact information given. THAT is a whole different situation. I cannot fathom the pain that comes from that.

Sometimes, though, pain is spread out over time and events...healing along with it...and by the time the bomb hits, there have been enough smaller things that did so much damage that the difference is so minute. Sometimes there is simply peace in no longer being shelled. And in that peace, one finds that despite the debris, it really is okay. Life didn't stop. Breathing didn't stop. Dreams are not dead. Hope continues.

There are hard days...when my gaze drifts backward at what was...what I thought was...and what isn't. Tears fall. Questions are asked. I am amazed at how few answers come, but even in the not understanding, God grants peace.

Then my ears hear the Whisper...the one hard to hear in the thundering of war...and I look...forward...and I see...

Promises that have not been discarded. A God who knew then...and is not shocked now. Life still present. Hope all encompassing.

And I wish I could open the eyes of those who are in shock, who are trying to find footing in the aftermath, who only see what isn't anymore. I wish I could open their eyes to see that God is still present...still has His great plans for hope and a future steady in His hands...and is still wholly Sovereign.

I wish I could help them see it isn't the perfect choice, but God is the perfect God, and it really is...and really will be...okay.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When Things Aren't Fine

As news of the separation spreads, I receive emails, texts, and phone calls asking if I am okay. Ninety percent of the time I answer that I am, and I am being truthful. Most of the time I am thankful for the calm and peace that has settled since the fighting and silent battles have ceased.

Then there are days like today.

Days like today hurt all through me, to my very core. How do I communicate that? How do I communicate the anger without sounding like I am nursing grudges? How do I communicate the pain that defies every word or phrase I know?

I don't know. I simply try to keep putting one foot in front of another, make a longer to do list to fill the time, and try to act sane for anyone watching.

But this isn't sane, and while trying to move forward, I end up on my knees in my bedroom shaking from the pain oozing out of me in loud sobs. The tears seem endless, and the pain feels so deep that I'm going to drown in it.

Prayers come out as gasps for air, and I cannot put a whole sentence together even in my mind.

There is no booming voice from heaven telling me it is fine. There is no overwhelming peace that comes. Just silence...and waves of pain.

And when the torrent has subsided, I sit with my back against the wall, not trusting my knees to hold me up, and I wonder if grace can reach here. Can grace reach beyond my rage at being discarded so easily? Can grace reach into a heart whose trust has been so completely shattered that it is impossible to hold out love but instead cringes at the thought of being touched?

Dear God, show me you, even when things really aren't fine because only with you am I going to really be okay.

Beautiful Analogy

An Old Cherokee Saying


One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

"One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

"The other is God - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

(Sent to me by my cousin Stacey.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deams Gone Awry

I used to think if I did everything right--went to church, read my Bible, prayed fervently, was truly repentant for my sins--life would progress from point A to point B in a generally straight fashion. Oh, I figured there would be a few bumps and a few slight deviations in there, but for the most part, it would continue on a straight and simple path.

I obviously lived in a delusion that that Old Testament did not apply to me.

Joseph had dreams of his family bowing down to him. Sounded great...until he found out that meant sibling rivalry that landed him in a pit, slavery, and prison.

Abraham was called the Father of Many Nations and then asked to put his only son on a pile of wood and sacrifice him.

David was anointed king, but he had to face his own family's jealousy, an angry monarch, and a giant before he could sit on a throne.

Really, what made me think I got to be the exception?

My dreams for life were simple. I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I've always loved speaking and teaching, and once I was married, I wanted to be a great wife and mom. I dreamed of a great marriage that served as an example for others, and I dreamed of having the perfect family.

Over the years, I have had dreams (like Joseph), and people have said or prayed things (like David), and I believed God promised things (like Abraham). I truly believed all of those things said my desires were God's desires, and as such, life would progress in a linear fashion, dreams would become reality, and all would be good.

While I do still believe my heart's desires are God's desires, too, my dreams slammed into the reality that life isn't linear, and sometimes the road to the promises makes no sense. Sometimes it doesn't just hit a few bumps. Sometimes it goes right off the cliff.

Like when my husband moved out.

For the last two weeks my blog has been quiet as I have tried to figure out what to say when I have said repeatedly that God can heal, restore, and redeem anything, and yet, my marriage that I have fought for so hard has come apart at the seams. In light of such obvious evidence that God is not in absolute control and that people can make painful choices, what can be said?

I didn't know, except I do, and I say...

God can heal, restore, and redeem anything.

It is one thing to make that proclamation when life is running along its linear path, but when the world comes down, it is a whole different thing. The first comes from a place of comfort. The second, from a place of faith.

The truth is a lot of damage has been done in my marriage, and I will tell you honestly that it will take a miracle for it to be put back together. However, I have come to realize that God's promises are not void simply because they do not look as I thought they would. God makes promises of the end, not the journey.

He promises prosperity but gives no clarity on the hard work required to get there.
He offers eternal life but does not detail the daily deaths required of it.
He gives love but gives no specific number of people who will hate you.
He extends mercy but does not mention the pain of humbling oneself to receive it.

The plans are for our good. The journey is for our stretching...dying...believing...

If only faith came easier. If only promises came with magic wands.

But there are no magic wands. Only a wondrous God who heals, restores, and matter how hard, impossible, or painful the circumstances might be.

This isn't the road I would have chosen. It looks nothing like what I planned, but God's plans have not changed. They are still good. He is still God, and I know...

He can still heal, restore, and redeem anything...

even this.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Creating Redemption

All creation starts with You.

It's a crazy thing to wrap my brain around. Nothing, and You show up, and You're everything.

You are not a mere observer as some would like to suggest. On the contrary, You are the conductor with music mad in Your mind but coming forth symphonies through Your hands. You are the sculptor incapable of reproducing what You have already done because You are wild with the new. Passion and power collide into explosions of life calling breaths.

What looks like chaos is creation in the hands of the ultimate Creator--One uncaring about creating order if order defies Your plans for redemption. And what is man's idea order in the vastness of such powerful vision anyway? Who who am I to tell You how it should look or how it should feel?

I beg for new, cry out for extraordinary, plead for anything but here. You answer in resounding thunder, and I am blinded by the lightning screaming through my darkness. I am terrified and amazed and torn between hiding my face and staring in awe at the God who answers such pithy prayers with wonders beyond all I ever imagined.

I am terrified and fascinated, and my breath escapes me.

This is not what I meant. This was not what I had planned. I didn't mean for the very ground I stand on to be jerked out from under me, and You answer, "The only safe place to stand is in Me."

My feet scramble...trying to find something solid...trying to get a footing in the only Constant. I hit my knees, tears burning hot, and I find You. Not the safe You I expected...have believed in...but the wild You...the One unafraid to radically tear down to gloriously build up.

Do I have the faith for You? Do I have the trust for...this?

Can I trust You for the new when my heart grieves so deeply the old?

Can I truly believe You are everything when all around me looks like...nothing...I ever would have chosen?

Oh, my unbelief, and in Your act of creative redemption, stop at nothing until I see You're everything.