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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

And the Greatest of These is...Perfect Worship

I don't really know the songs, and we don't sing the same song very often, so I'm not really learning them, which is tedious, but at another church, we had an eleven song play list, so we sang the same songs almost every week, and that was boring.

I'm not into rock music, and some of what we sing is rock-ish. Not my style. Hard to get into...for me. But the younger folk are all over it. Hands up. Eyes closed. You can look on their faces and see they have this...and more importantly, He has them.

At this church, we do worship after the sermon, not before. I've never been at a church that does that. It's weird. I'm used to a prayer, some music, maybe a shake hands with the neighbor behind you, and then the sermon. This prayer, song, sermon, worship thing sort of messes with my mind, but I really loved going to the store after church Sunday and the kids and I singing while we shopped because the music was still rolling in us...the worship coming out of us.

And what is with the worship team anyway? Sometimes we have a full crew with drums, keyboard, guitar, and multiple singers, and then there was Sunday when we had two on stage. Shouldn't it be consistent? I mean. How am I supposed to know what to expect if it is always changing? Except Sunday was meditative worship. The harmony was good, and the gentleness of the acoustic guitar and the voices allowed resting and soaking deep, and those rock-ish songs with their drums work for the kids. And I must confess. I like stopping and watching these young people pouring out their hearts, receiving His heart poured out. It's beautiful. It fills me with joy and hope, but even if it didn't, even if I got nothing out of it, I get something out of it. It is an absolute impossibility for God to invade the world through His children and my world not be affected and made better. Any time heaven comes to earth, I get something out of it.

Last week I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is having "worship issues" at his church, and I listened to him tell how this person had this problem and that person had that other problem, and really, they all had the same problem. The problem is they don't understand what worship is.

Worship isn't what we sing or whether we know the words. It isn't an order of service or style of music. Worship isn't whether you can raise your hands or jump up and down...or stand their with your hands in your pockets in silence.

Worship is acknowledging God as God.

Worship is realizing it isn't all about me and loving those kids enough to see God's heart is for reaching them.

Worship isn't conjuring an emotional response to get people hyped up for a sermon and shout, "Amen!" in regular intervals or on the appropriate downbeat. Worship is knowing the greatest thing anyone has to offer is an experience with God.

Worship isn't the first, second, and last verse, or knowing the songs so well you don't need the words. Worship is the heart without words that needs to hear God speak.

Worship is giving your all to God. Sometimes your all is simply walking into a church and saying, "I'm giving you the chance to find me because I can't find you in this hard place, but I'm not willing to walk away, so this is me walking to you." Sometimes your all is letting the tears fall while you whisper, "You are still good," even when it hurts oh, so very bad.

Worship is giving up my right to be important so God is important, so His plan is important, so others are important.

Music is an expression of worship, but worship is a response to God and our expression of our hearts toward Him and His goodness toward us.

I told my friend that our music isn't exactly my cup of tea either. He sort of groan-sighed. I said, "I'm stepping past the music because if my focus is on the music, I've just made it into a concert. It's not a concert. It's worship, and if I can't worship with music that glorifies God and praises Him, it's my problem, not the music's."

He sighed...more like a long-overdue exhale. He said it did his heart good to hear me say that. Funny, it does my heart good to live that.

2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Treasure Days--The Filling

Today is Treasure Day at our house. It's the day we consciously choose to fill our time with family, laughter, love, and making memories that we treasure for the rest of our lives.

Now will every memory be treasured? Since we won't mentally videotape the day, no. BUT, part of the treasure is learning to treasure people in your life enough to make them priority, so in a way, yes, it is.

The History of Treasure Day

A lot of things all hit at once. The calendar was running amuck. It hit me that WonderGirl is a senior, and WonderBoy is a freshman, and time as a family together is limited. And running amuck is not how I want to spend the last year of both my Peeps at home, so I sat down with my Heavenly Hubby and asked how to make the time left solid. Then I started cancelling things and emptying entire weekends on the calendar. The only plan was church. Then I blocked those weekends in bright colored pen and declared them untouchable and non-negotiable.

And the Point Being?

For me, this is part of shepherding my family. A shepherd knows the flock, and the flock knows the shepherd's voice. The only way to do that is spending time together. So Treasure Days and Family Weekends are times when I choose to hear my Peeps and learn them, and the crazy wild thing is when they learn I really love them, they listen to my voice. Imagine, the teaching of Jesus actually working. Insanity, I tell you.

And, this is stewarding my time. "Steward" means to keep watch over and guard. If I steward my time, I choose to watch over how it is spent. Instead of just getting through the day, I think,
"If this were my last day, how would I want it to be remembered by those left behind me tomorrow?"
Living like that will radically change your life.

You know the saying, "Don't count the days. Make the days count"? Family Weekend and Treasure Days is that being applied to the people who should mean the most to mean. It is living intentionally and choosing activities that lead to a specific outcome.

The Specific Outcome

Specifically, I want my kids to know they are valuable.
I want to build relationship.
I want them to have great memories of our family.
I want them to learn precepts or tools for building their family or even their friendships.
I want them to learn to value others.
I want to be an example of love.

So Just How Hard is This?

The hardest part is deciding to do it. Seriously.
The honest to goodness two hardest things involved are
1. getting up off the butt and getting out of the rut and doing it,
2. saying no to other people and other options.

How Do You Do This?
I know my kids and what they like  to do, so I look for opportunities to do those things. Sometimes we do what I like. That is part of being a family. I try to incorporate something for everyone throughout the weekend.

For instance:
  • WonderBoy likes LARPing, so we made a list of thrift stores and hit them all looking for clothes for him. He is also a foodie, so while we were out and about, we visited a restaurant we had been to before. WonderGirl likes steam punk, so we hit garage sales and thrift stores looking for gadgets for her.
  • We walk around a botanical garden.
  • We do arts and crafts. WonderGirl and I like to paint, so we either paint ceramics or canvass while WonderBoy sculpts.
  • Baking--I try to do this with WonderBoy at least once a week. We'd do it more except my jeans have their limits. WonderGirl is always in the kitchen with us. One of the best things I did was bring the kids into the kitchen with me from the time they were little. Love our family kitchen. We also have neighbors who generously take baked products off our hands, too. I love those people.
  • Building something--WonderBoy and I are still trying to figure out a fort with a climbing wall and zipline. I think we can do this.
  • Legos. I invested in a master builder set awhile back, and we take a few hours and build stuff. Sometimes we pull out the tubs of Legos and determine a theme and go with that and build until our fingers hurt.
  • Board Games
  • Kayaking--You can rent or invest in your own. We don't kayak a whole day as a rule, but we will paddle around, watch the sun set, and head home as it gets dark.
  • Archery
  • We like the little festivals. Perfect place for a foodie. Lots of places are doing Oktoberfest right now. Cheap out of the house.
I'm sure there are other things that just aren't coming to mind right now, but you get the idea. We invest our time in each other because we are worth the investment, as individuals and as a family.

What Treasure Day is Not

Treasure Day is not a spectator sport. It is not sitting in the stands or in the audience while your child does something. It is doing it together, talking, learning, and valuing each other.

It's not about perfection. Leave the OCD perfection thing in a shoe box under the bed. The point is perfection. The point is the people you are with, and people are messy. Enjoy the wonder of the mess.

Yeah, But....

By the way, I know what some of you parents are thinking. You think your child is only interested in video games (which we do sometimes, btw) or loud music. Let me take a moment to burst your excuse bubble. If that is really all in this amazing world we live in that your child finds interesting, they haven't been invested in enough, and their world hasn't been enlarged enough. Or maybe, they are just following the lead of those in charge who are only interested in going to work and coming home and escaping into TV or a sports game. If you want them to be interested in something else, give them ideas of something else to be interested in. And maybe try being interested in something else yourself.

We live in a great world. Lots of options for filling Treasure Days. I hope yours is overflowing.


2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

Treasure Days

My "big" plans for the day...hanging with the Peeps.
Today is one of those rare days we have nothing that HAS to be done.
This is treasure day.
You know what I mean?
The ones God gives you empty so you fill it with treasures of laughter, love, and creating memories that you treasure the rest of your life?

Praying you get a treasure day!

Friday, September 26, 2014

When the World Tells You What You Can't Do and Who you Can't Be...Tell Them God Doesn't Care

That is exactly what the last two weeks have been here.

I've been told why I can't work with soldiers and marines overcoming PTSD.
I've been told why I can't minister to police departments, fire departments, and medical responders.
I've had issues with my book idea for presenting God's healing for PTSD in a fiction form .
I've been told my young adult book is too far outside acceptable realms. The Christian community won't buy into it.
I've been told why this desire of my heart won't work and why I can't be that desire of my heart.

The world and those who have bought into its limitations have done a good job of telling me why I can't do what God has put in my heart to do and why I can't be the person God has put in my heart to be.

Or, maybe they are just telling me what the world has to say about it all. In either case, there are some things I would like to say concerning "the world".

I did not ask the world's permission, and I do not need its invitation.
I do not play by its rules. It bows to the rule of my God.
He goes before me.
He is my rear guard.
His angels encamp around me, and not one weapon formed against me can prosper.
His angels have charge over me, and I will not dash my foot upon a stone.
Not one word of His will fail.
I am more than a conqueror.
I am the daughter of the Almighty King, and I will do what He has called me to do because I will live who He has created me to live.
I refuse to be anything else.

I know some of the rest of you are dealing with similar things. Lots of folks telling you why your grandiose plans won't work, why you can't do this or be that. Well, let me tell you why you can.


Let me remind you of others who were too old, too young, too much of something, and not enough of something else.

In case you have forgotten, Abraham and Sarah were too old to have a baby, but they had one.
David was too young to bring down a giant, but the giant fell at David's feet.
Joshua and Caleb were too optimistic and were going to get every one killed, but they were the only spies who walked into the Promised Land...and called it theirs.
Gideon was a nobody from a tiny tribe, but he brought down an army.

They didn't play by the rules because they knew when God speaks, the world's rules don't apply.

There are folks reading this, and they know the insane plans that have no possible way of working, and they are going to ask, "How?" I don't know. But I know Who.

I know when Joshua stood on that hill overlooking Jericho, he didn't know how either, but he was so sure of his Who that when he turned around and there was this Warrior standing there, Joshua didn't run or even take a step back. He simply asked, "Are you with us, or are you against us?" The answer didn't matter to Joshua because Joshua already knew the end. He just wondered if this was one more dead body he was going to step over on the way.

Sisters and brothers, the world is not going to move over and let us do what God called us to do just because God called us. In fact, we are told by Christ Himself that the powers of the world will stand against us. For some people, that is daunting. For some, it's an excuse not to show up for battle. For some, it's more than they can stand against. For warriors, it's just another body to step over because they know the Promised Land is theirs.

There is no reason to be afraid of dead bodies.

That giant standing in front of you telling you all your limitations is just a dead body that hasn't stopped breathing yet.

That circumstance telling you your dream is impossible is just a dead body whose nervous system hasn't caught up to the fact its dead yet.

That past that tells you how you forfeited your inheritance is just a dead body that is still haunting you.

Step over the dead bodies and move on. 

***Yes, this is the post that was up earlier. I deleted the previous post and edited one sentence. Otherwise, it is the same post.

Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips

All rights reserved

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Sun is Giving Light, and I'm Giving Thanks

Thankful for
...the fabulous Texas weather...
...Scott at Cabela's with his bag of empty shell casings that "I don't know why I've kept all these months". I do. Because God knew WonderGirl would need specific cases for her mech suit, but more than that, she needed to see Him provide them.
...the nice lady at the Walmart I've never been to who directed to me the bread so I could finally find the last thing on my list and leave.
...the wonderful people who helped with math this week. One day I'll blog about it. For now, just...thank you... shoes that do wonders for allowing me to exercise and lose the weight hurting my back while not making my back hurt worse. If you have ever had back problems, you know what I mean.
...forbearance...the process...Holy are breathtaking...

What's on your thanksgiving list this morning?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When You are Fine Trusting Him

Dear Fallon,

Today I wrote a hard email. I wrote a friend concerning a book he suggested I read. It had been powerful to him, and he offered it to WonderGirl...and subsequently, to me. I finished it a few nights ago and was hoping for some profound spiritual...something, and instead, one sentence reverberates through my mind.

"...I'd end up disappointing people and they'd leave me."

Kind of a disturbing thing to remember from a book on learning about St. Francis. Well, it isn't really about St. Francis. It's about this man's journey to Italy...well, really to God that happened to go through Italy and down the road of St. Francis.

And of all the things that have stuck in my head, "I'd end up disappointing people, and they'd leave me."

Of course, things only stick that way for two reasons: 1. It is so absolute opposite of who you are and what you think, or 2. It's right where you are and right in the middle of what you think.

Bet you sort of guessed it is #2.

Then I had this great idea to what the Netflix movie I got in the mail today. Not the one I had expected. "Somehow" my cue got mixed up, and I received "Mother's Night Out." GREAT! I need a good laugh.

I did laugh. Until the main character sat down by Bones at the police station and told how she felt like a failure, like she just couldn't get it right. Then I started to cry.

I totally understand.

There is so much I don't know. I don't know how to raise a young man to be a man. I don't know how to deal with the anger that seems to seep from them at times. I don't know how to do algebra mixture problems. I bought a weed eater I can't use because I can't figure out the oil and gas mixture for it. I don't know what kind of life I'm supposed to be "rebuilding". I thought I did, but all evidence seems to say I was hugely wrong. I don't know how to do...this.

And it's pointless to ask for help because I'm not "soft", so I can figure it out, and I'm not the typical female. I'm undaunted. And God knows there is no room to be weak in any way because if I am...I'll end up disappointing people, and they'll leave. They have left.

So I don't say anything. I don't talk about how hard it is to raise two teenagers on my own or the emotional ocean they live in. I don't talk about the doubts. I don't ever mention the struggles. When people ask, I always say I'm fine.

What if my being fine creates a prison, not just for me, but for the people who feel they have to be fine around me?

But, Fallon, what if I'm not fine? What if my heart aches because I'm trying to find joy in a life I didn't exactly choose? What if I'm confused and unsure about how to raise this man-in-the-becoming? What if I'm just tired of listening to two kids work through the grief...especially the anger? What if I absolute dread math each day? What if I feel like I'm a million miles from fine...but I'm okay with that...because it is part of the process? What if not being fine is part of the pilgrimage, and what if my saying, "I'm not fine," let's someone exhale and say, "Oh, thank God, I'm not fine either?

What if, instead of being disappointed, they were set free?
What if, instead of leaving, they found they aren't alone and they belong here...with the rest of the folks who aren't fine but are praying for a way through it? With the folks with the long list of all the things they don't know so they take it all to the One they do know because the one thing they know is God can handle all of it...all of us...all of me.

And somehow instead of being disgusted by the weakness, He is glorified in it.
And instead of being disappointed, He is undone with compassion.
And instead of leaving, He draws us closer.
And instead of silence, He whispers, "I love you. I've got you. We're going to get through this."

Maybe then, we'd find that we don't have to fear all of what we are not but instead be fine because of all He is?

Choosing to trust,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Finding Beautiful in The Hardest Peace

Dear Fallon,

That Kara Tippetts woman has left me undone. Again.

It's ridiculous really. My reading her blog. I cannot help but cry every single time.

But I keep reading it.

She's beautiful, you know. A deep and amazing beautiful. Her time here is coming to an end, and all she can talk about is how wildly blessed she is in the hardness of the leaving.

And I know I don't see her when she is raging or crumpled or scared. I only see the piece that is beautiful. Not because she hides the other or pretends it doesn't exist. She confesses it. Slaps it right up there on the screen for all to see. It's just...she always comes back to the beautiful.

She always come back to beautiful.


Need to find beautiful in the hard? You can get Kara's book, The Hardest Peace, at now, or it ships from Amazon October 1st.

Living Monday!

It's Monday.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the start of another week. That presumes we all will finish the week, and that  is not guaranteed.
It's Monday.
A day.
ONE day.
It's a day when I get to make a difference.
It's a day I get to choose to engage my world instead of be a victim of it.
It's a day I've been given to live in, not whine about.
I am going to use my Monday, as much of it as the Lord decides to give me, to live all the life out of it I possibly can and maybe in so doing, offer some hope and courage to those who are trying to figure out how to live it, too.

2014 Copyright Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Death...and Life...on the Cross

Dear Fallon,

I've been thinking about the cross. It isn't what I was taught it was.

I was taught the cross is the burdens I carry in life. My cross is what I give up to be "good" or the hard parts of living a Christian life. It's the hard stuff of being me. It's sort of the Christian's pity party.

Except that's not true.

The cross wasn't Jesus burden. The cross is where Jesus died.

Jesus' burden was humanity and our sins. Those are things He died for, not on.

The cross is where Jesus took those burdens and in essence said, "As a human being, I can't fix this. I can carry this burden, but I can't fix it," and He allowed God Almighty to put Him on a cross where the flesh and all it couldn't do died, so that in the spiritual those things no longer had power, and what the flesh could not fix, the Spirit made perfect.

That is the cross.

The cross is where we take all the things we cannot possibly do in the flesh and die to our fantasy that these human bodies have any ability to make a difference. The cross is where our arrogance of ability is put to death, and we take up the reality that the only power is the one God Almighty wields. And it is there, waiting for us, on the cross, in the sacrifice of Christ.

All things that are humanly impossible are made possible in Him because He is the door--do we get it, Fallon?!--HE IS THE DOOR! He is the place where the limitations of the flesh die and the possibilities of all of heaven explode into this earth.

How can we ever live the crazy amazing life Christ did? Only on the cross.

Because the cross is where the logic and reason of the world has to die. There is nothing reasonable about the cross, but there is something miraculous. The cross is where this world has to bow to the rule of another kingdom.

When we are told to take up our cross daily and follow Christ, it doesn't mean lug around the burdens that we can't possibly fix. It means stand in the place where the world's logic dies and the limitations of this world cease and take up the reality that there is power to change everything, that we are the place where that power resides.

To take up my cross is to say, "I'm alive in Christ. I choose to live Him and be the place a radical God can invade this earth with heavenly power, and I refuse to make excuses and live in the reasonable limitations of my flesh."

To take up my cross means I lay down all the reasons why I can't do what I'm called to do or why that miraculous thing can't happen or why that person's heart will never change.

You know what sin is? Sin is choosing anything besides God. It means that I've believed there are better ways to live and meet my needs than God. It means I chose to live a lie.

The cross is where those sins were forgiven. The cross is where God says, "Let's try this again. You have the option of choosing me."

It takes crazy deep courage to choose a crazy wild God.

As Joshua said, "Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we choose God."

Choosing to trust the crazy wild God...
Not even totally sure what that means or what that looks like, but He is what I choose
because I cannot imagine choosing anything else...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Brutal Beauty of the Cross

Dear Fallon,

I finished my online class today, so I've started reading Chasing Francis again. I had finished through chapter 2 when the main character, Chase, agreed to go on a pilgrimage with his Uncle Kenny. I put the book down because it sounded too much like my desires when we visited Italy. I had wanted to visit the churches, sit and be still, listen, find something that I knew was missing. Of course, keeping the baby inside me safe was more important, so our four months of touring Italy became a trying nine days and emergency trip home. That baby is now closer to 15 years than 14, and I'm still seeking.

I'm completely unimpressed with this middle class Jesus America has made a business of.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I don't think the American church is the anti-Christ. I just don't think it really wants to know Christ. It wants to know what it can get but not what is needs to sacrifice.

We have these strip mall and grocery store rehabbed churches, and they have lovely interiors, comfy chairs, rock star stages. They want people to feel comfortable, and folks do. But there is no power to change lives in the comfortable. There is no reason to change if we are comfortable.

So people don't.

People don't change.
Lives don't change.
Families don't change.

I believe it's because people aren't being taught that the only real life comes from being crucified, but we can't have that in the churches because that is gory and scary and shocking and who wants to see a suffering Christ? Besides, that isn't the story, is it? The story is the resurrection. The story is forgiveness. The story is eternal life.

Except the only way to life is through death on a cross that we either don't allow at the front of the church, or we sand it smooth because we don't want anyone getting splinters, and we gloss it up with varnish so it's pretty.

Except, when it comes to the cross, there are splinters, and it isn't always pretty, but it is wildly beautiful...this cross we have to step into if we are ever going to truly be resurrected because the life Jesus came to give is also for the here and now, not just the here after.

And how can we take on new flesh when the old is alive and well, and what would kill it unless we put it on the cross and take Jesus as our own?

But we don't like the cross because it reminds us of who we are.

We are sinners in desperate need of a Savior.

We are not simply people who make mistakes and need someone to clean up the mess. We are the mess, and we need to be cleaned up.

But how do you wash the filth off this muddy mess except for the blood of the Christ, and how does one bathe in that anywhere but where it was spilled? It wasn't spilled on an altar in a Tabernacle. It was spilled on a hill for all to see. It wasn't a humane sacrificing. It was a brutal one.

And how do you make that comfortable?

As a teenager, I sat in a Catholic church staring at Christ on the cross, and it made sense to me. When nothing else in the world made sense, that did. And it wasn't ugly. Or scary. Or hideous.

It was the most amazingly beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Because in the cross I found an odd belonging.

It is the only place I have ever seen a hand reaching out to me because I was wanted.
It is the only place I have found I am loved by choice, not by circumstance.

In the cross I found someone who chose me.

The truth is the cross is the only place I have ever felt chosen.

Maybe the cross is shocking. How can I realize how much I deserve His hatred, see how determined He is to love me, and not be shocked?

How can I find offense in a cross that reached beyond my offenses so I could be chosen?

Was it brutal? Yes.
Was it horrific? Yes.
The fact that humans could do such inhuman things to another man is horrifying.
The fact that He would endure it for me...the most amazingly, beautiful thing I've ever known.


copyright 2014, Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Facebook Writer's Page

I don't always have something to say that is long enough for a blog post, but I tend to post something a few times a week on my Facebook page. I invite you to drop in, like the page, and catch the snippets of what the Lord is pouring into me that I get to give out.

You should be able to find me here.

Hope to see you there!

Patience is Waiting, Not Doing

I'm not afraid to pray for patience because that is a gift through the Holy Spirit, not something I have to conjure up.
It is not a pass/fail thing. It's a seek and become thing.
So, yes, I will joyfully pray for my time of being still and just enjoying my Lord's presence to be rewarded with something as amazing as forbearance.

Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips
All rights reserved

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Today I failed the grace test.

Last week I told the kids' piano teacher they would miss class this week due to the county thinking they had the right to ask me to do jury duty. She was pretty unhappy and told me I needed to make the county let me out of it. Um...and how do you expect me to do that.

"You're a single mom!" Like I don't know this?

Then she wanted to know when I plan to make up the classes. I don't. I had already decided I didn't. With piano and voice and other stuff on that day, there was simply no way to make up all of it without taking another day to do it, which I don't have, and I wasn't going to listen to anyone fuss about my making up this class and not making up the other. So, everything got dumped.

And I heard about it.

I listened, and then I said, "In case you haven't noticed, I am a single mom. I can only do so much."

She huffed and puffed, and I walked out the door.

Today I had jury duty, which ran more than an hour longer than expected, so I called when I got in the car and told the kids to be ready when I got home; I was hungry, and we were going out to eat. So we went out to eat, and then we had to get grocery store which had been on the back burner with everything else that loaded this week.

While we were there, my honest focus was getting done and getting home and getting ready for what tomorrow needs. Then we ran into someone my brain thought it should know but couldn't pull up. Turns out it was someone who noticed we didn't make it to youth group tonight. Now, understand, it impressed me to no end that this kind woman knew us when I couldn't pull her up, and she was sincere in her invitation, which I do sincerely appreciate. Not that we've made it to youth even once. The time really doesn't work for me, and I have this crazy idea that church should bless a soul and feed it, not stress it out. She was truly trying to be sympathetic when she said, "We have to shuffle kids to make it work."

And grace was gone.

I just looked at her and said, "I have no one to shuffle with."

I have no clue what was said after that because I was suddenly buried under the avalanche of...

You know, for a long time I just wanted something that looked like normal, and  evidently we've reached it because people seem to think as an only parent I can pull off the stuff that two parents shuffle and struggle to do.

So we sit at the table and look at the possible activities and figure out what works for the family. It's a great life skill really.

But that means the new family get together at our co-op got lost behind one class, and the young actors guild got lost behind something else, and driver's ed will either wait another semester or WonderGirl and I will have to breath deep and find our way through the ocean of emotions since a class isn't possible right now with everything else going on. And the culinary classes WonderBoy would flourish in are hit and miss since the senior year have-tos have priority. And...

People get antsy because they text or call or email and I don't get back to them quickly enough, and they lovingly invite me to things that are good and beautiful, but I don't go because I have so very little personal time that I spend it letting my brain wind down from what people need me to do.

Today I'm drowning in single-ness with all the things that demand to be done and what hasn't gotten done because life shifted my schedule without asking permission first, and none of it is stuff I can step out of, and right now, I'm

And I hesitate to write any of this because some smart-aleck who knows nothing about being a single parent will be more than willing to tell me how I need to organize and plan better or give me some great wisdom on prioritizing, and I'm going to want to tell said know-it-all just that arrogance and wisdom are not the same thing and perhaps he/she should work on the wisdom part.

But here is the thing. I don't write this blog for the people who know everything. They don't need me. I write it for the people who might be walking the same stretch of road, might be just as tired, might be wondering why they get out of bed when it is the same crap different day, might need to know they aren't on the road alone.

You're not on the road alone.

So, let's do this.

Let's just stop right for a moment and make a plan to swim because otherwise, we just might sink.

And the plan goes like this:
I'm going to imagine every one of those lovely people who are asking us to be part of their "whatever". You know the ones, the ones that trip the switch where you feel like you are drowning and no matter how much you do, it's never enough? Yep. Thos.

Okay, got those in your mind? Now, feel grateful for the person who wants you to be part of their live and wants to be part of yours. That person loves you. Really. They do. They love you. Be grateful.

Feel yourself love them back. Let the emotion fill you up until it pushes up the sides of your mouth and you smile.

With that loving smile of gratitude on your face, look them in the eyes and say, "Thank you, but I simply cannot do that right now." They may not like that answer. It's okay. We are not going to let our gratitude become annoyed by their selfishness. Instead, we are going to put our hands up and say, "I'm sorry you don't understand, but really, I cannot do this right now. I'm maxed out, and I would appreciate your not adding to my load by asking for or expecting something I cannot do." If they continue, we will simply say, "This conversation is done. Thank you."

And it is done. The frustration is done. The anger at their selfishness is done. The feeling that we cannot be all things to all people is done. We've been the most important thing to ourselves and our families--protector of the peace.

Now, we are going to pray and thank God for those people and specifically mention something good about them. Why? Because it does our hearts good.

So how are  we going to handle tonight when we try to go to bed and our brains won't turn off? Breathe deep and thank God, not just rattling things off, but stop and think back over the day and pick good things to relive. I'm going to remember my cookies and milk, and give sincere thanks. I have found it is far more powerful to relive 2 or 3 good things and enjoy the gratitude of them than to rattle off a dozen that are things I'm supposed to be thankful for but don't make a difference in my soul.

In the morning? How are we going to get our feet to the floor? "Lord God, give me my daily bread...and give me the strength and wisdom to partake of it well." We are going to look at the Bread Giver because He gives us to do only what really needs to get done. And as long as we keep our eyes on how great is His help, we will drown in our helplessness.

And we won't suffocate from doing it single because we won't be doing it alone.

Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips, All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 8, 2014

On the Road to Hope with Miss Daisy

Dear Fallon,

Today I watched Driving Miss Daisy with the kids. It is one of our all time favorites.

It's the craziest kind of movie. It can terrify you so much you never want to marry or settle you down to your soul and pour courage you thought long gone and makes you sure marriage is a beautiful thing and you can really do this.

Of course, Miss Daisy and Hoke never marry, and yet, they kind of do, and in their never made official marriage, I find my fears and my hopes of ever trying such a thing again.

My fear are the differences, and my lands, don't they have enough to work with. Differences can create chasms and build walls and create their own miserable environment. Sort of like the flu bug that invades our bodies and makes us hate being alive at moments. But despite the differences, they found common ground, and I know, one could argue that they didn't exactly have a choice because Boolie wasn't going to let the situation go. Except they did have a choice. They could have chosen to be arrogant toward one another. They could have chosen to judge each other and see each other through preconceptions, like Miss Daisy did when Hoke ate the salmon, but instead, they learned to grow and understand. They accepted and acclimated.

Last week I wrote an essay about the fruit of the Spirit. Forbearance is the one fruit no one wants to pray for. I think it's because it demands so much change from ourselves. It demands that we understand where someone is and who they are and maybe why. It demands that we consider the possibility we are the ones who are wrong and are in fact, the grating part and we may be in the process of changing and the better version of ourselves. Forbearance isn't just tolerance. It's an active effort to demonstrate love despite any affliction we feel.

The truth is neither Miss Daisy nor Hoke changed a lot, not in general expression. Miss Daisy was still the blunt-speaking woman at the end she had been throughout the movie. She still had her opinions on how things should be, and she didn't mind telling folks. Except, she had changed. She had become appreciative and deeply grateful. Instead of keeping walls up, she ventured into his world, and she let him into hers. They made the vegetable garden like he had suggested, and when he offered to pick up the spoon to feed her pie, she didn't refuse or fuss. She moved her hand and let him feed her.

And he did.

He was no longer just a man trying to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. He wasn't just a driver tolerating the woman he had been hired to tend. He was the man who tried to find the door into her pain by sharing about his friend's dad being lynched as she grappled with Temple being bombed. He was the man who could have stayed home in the ice storm but instead brought her coffee because he knew her routine, and when she said, "There's nothing to do but keep me company," he smiled and said he would start a fire. Obviously her company was what he wanted anyway.

This is the man who had no fear about getting in her face when she had a break in faculties and couldn't find the papers for her students, the man who, instead of trying to coddle her, put a finger in her face and told her to pull herself together because he knew she had it in her to pull it together. Yeah, he had a job to lose if she didn't, but I think he was far more concerned about his friend than his job.

Interestingly, that is when she looked at him and said, "Hoke, you're my best friend."

And there you go. My hope.

After the things my husband said when he told me he wanted a divorce, I went through a period when I hoped for someone who thought I was perfect, but I don't hope for that anymore. Perfection is a prison because it doesn't allow for change or growth for either person. It's a lie of security that really just suffocates.

Now I hope for more. I hope for the differences and the forbearance to weather them. I hope for the determination to understand, accept, and acclimate. I hope for someone to find his way into my pain when I can't find my way out, and I hope he thinks the silly things are the endearing things. My hope of someone patient knowing I'm changing too and rough places are being smoothed, someone who knows when to tell me to step up and knows when I can't. Someone who thinks my company is enough.

Like I said, I know they were not married, and the cynics will say a marriage couldn't have survived such an environment, but a marriage has to survive that kind of environment or it will develop into that environment or worse. If two people don't respect, accept, and acclimate, they will grow intolerant. If they don't choose to find a way in, they will ultimately look for a way out. If the silly things aren't endearing, they will become irritating. If someone's company isn't enough, they will never be able to do enough to be the company you want.

People make the mistake of thinking love is something you feel. It's not. It's choosing to live a certain way.

Choosing to love more abundantly,


Sunday, September 7, 2014


Dear God,
If I simply tell you I'm in awe, do you understand?

Because I don't have words to tell you how sorry I am for the ways I am not you.

How do I even begin to tell you how humbled I am when I give you every reason to retaliate, to walk away, to say I've gone too far, and instead, you do these crazy things that say, "You think you're inadequate for this, but let me show you what I really have in mind," and it is so much bigger than I could ever dream?

How do I hit my knees fast enough or long enough to change enough to be remotely what you are worthy of?

And I walk down a path I think is the right one, and smack my head into a wall because I was small-faithed and small-visioned and instead of telling me how you are greatly disappointed, you put out all these wildly amazing reassurances that I haven't fallen off the path, just maybe stepped a bit wrong, but even that is still open for discussion because you are God and you have miraculous ways of making missteps the steps that couldn't be missed, and somehow in my stumbling and bumbling you know I really want desperately to be perfect for you to show you how much I know you are worth being perfect for, and you really are so worth it.

And I want to ask, "How?", but how could I ever know, except to know you are God.

And that is it.
You are God,
and I am in awe.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Being the Princess

Dear Fallon,

It happened again yesterday. A well-meaning person commented that perhaps my strong, independent personality is the cause of my being single because really, what man wants a woman who is hard to lead?

I usually try to pick my words carefully so I don't give more ammunition for them to use and say, "That is exactly what I am talking about." However, yesterday, the statement hit the wrong raw nerve, and I said frankly, "I don't mind following a good leader. In fact, I would love a good leader to follow, but I have no patience for weak or unstable leaders, and I will not follow one. I will shoot him in the head, throw his body off the side of the road, and march on before I waste my time and sanity behind another weak leader."

Stop shaking your head. It's not like you are surprised.

And I keep trying to write this, and my tears blur the screen every time because the words hurt me. They always hurt me.

You know why I hate fairy tales? Because I believed them. I dreamed of being the princess the knight in shining armor saw as breathtaking, beautiful, and worth fighting for. I dreamed of being the princess the knight knew was valuable and worth saving. But that didn't happen, and I had two choices: 1. believe the broken knight in narcissistic, self-preserving armor who said I was beautiful but not worth the effort, or 2. believe I am beautiful, amazing, fascinating, intoxicating, and valuable no matter what any knight says.

I chose the latter.

I chose to be strong and fight for my children. I chose to be courageous to get us through the horrible pain and the loss that felt like it was going to swallow us whole. I chose not to let "not being chosen" define me or limit me.

And, yes, I became independent because there was no one to depend on.

There was no knight in shining armor. There is no cavalry. The Marines are not coming in to save the day.

So I gave up that princess waiting to be saved crap and became the princes who is strong, independent, courageous...and criticized for it.

But between you and me, I miss knowing at the end of the day there is a human being who wants to be part of my life and share his life with me. I miss the touch of a man's hand on the small of my back when I walk into somewhere, just that reassuring touch that says I've got your back.

On those days when everything hits hard and failure is not an option and I'm trying to find my footing, I would love to hear a human voice whisper to me, "It's going to be fine."

Last week I met a nice man who opened the door for me as we walked and talked, and after a fumble at a door, I remembered I needed to walk on his left side so he could reach the door and open it. Of course, we only had one more door after that, but it went smoothly. :-) And I was surprised at how nice it felt to step to the other side of the door, to know he had that, to feel covered. Isn't it weird how a man opening a door can make you feel safe? It isn't just a man opening a door, though. Lots of men open doors. Chivalry is alive and well among men. I witness it regularly. It was a few things. The way he carried himself. Where he stood. He allowed himself to be a safe place, and I'm quite sure it is about who he is and not any kind of romantic interest in me, but still, for those few seconds, it was nice to step into that realm where someone else had my back instead of my always covering everyone.

Sometimes I feel like a pansy because of the physical issues I have, but sometimes my body physically aches with the weight of things. I've had female friends tell me how they understand being a single mom because they have to do all the shuttling of the kids and handling schedules. They assure me they get it. And I wonder if they realize how much their husband bringing home dinner means or what a total blessing his making sure all the vehicles have gas and a recent oil change is. I wonder if they realize how much all those "small" things he does adds up to, because I know it's huge.

I have given it a lot of thought, and sometimes, I don't even need marriage. Just a wonderful man who calls and asks if I would like to go to dinner...and then picks the place. I'm so tired of making decisions there are times I simply don't eat because I don't want to decide what to make.

I would love to go to bed at night and be wrapped up in arms that assured me I'm not in this alone and I'm not going to drown because sometimes, it feels like I could, and who do you tell that to anyway? As a friend of mine posted on his Facebook page, "The problem with being strong is no one ever asks how you are?" That's pretty much true. Granted, last week two or three folks asked how I am, and I told them the weeks since my husband's birthday have been a struggle around here, and only one actually responded.

The truth is it really doesn't matter because at the end of the day dealing with the aftershock of the kid's grief after their dad's birthday is still my responsibility. Figuring out whether to invest in the fridge that could be best for WonderBoy if he pursues culinary arts or going cheap (because who needs bells and whistles anyway) is up to me. And I am the only one who can decide to give up the king-size bed and buy a full-size mattress because it is cheaper and more sensible and it is just me anyway...except I had hoped....

But you know, according to all kinds of wise folks who know all about these kinds of things despite not having lived anything like this, even that is wrong. I need to be happy with my life. I need to rebuild. I need to be whole on my own. I need to move on. The people who say such things need to get out of their cliché covered boxes. They are babblers who want to look like they have answers and some kind of wisdom when in fact, they have no clue. I mean, do you really get that is being said? "If your heart just quits wanting what your heart wants and is happy having something that isn't really what you wanted but other people think is a fine substitute, you're good."  Stop reading it over and over again. It won't help, and it doesn't change the fact I have a great life with great kids and great forward motion and great things I get to do and am whole and know I have purpose and value...but still want someone who wants to be part of the adventure.

You know, it isn't that I miss my husband or that I want to be saved by a man. I don't need saving at all. God really does have us, have me, and if a man is the type who needs to save a woman to feel good about himself, he can save both of us time and sanity by looking for some one else. No. I don't need saving. Enjoying feeling safe and needing saving are not the same things.

About a year after my husband died, I was telling a friend of mine how "not girly" I felt. He replied that I was strong and amazing, and he said, "Jerri, not all men like their princesses soft."

Maybe what he was saying is some men understand that some princesses don't want to be saved or need to be saved, but they still want to be safe.

Maybe some men understand there is a difference.

I hope so.

Still choosing to be the strong princess even if it makes me the single one,


copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips, All Rights Reserved