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.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

But What Does that MEAN?

In my last post I talked about my heart's desires and what I really want out of my life. In conversation, I asked a few people I know what their hearts desires are. They said things like:

To have a great marriage.
To be a better parent.
To be a Proverbs 31 woman.
To be more godly.

Then I asked, "So what does that mean?"

There was silence, and all of them repeated their words, slower this time.

Yeah, I get that, but what does it mean? They repeat themselves even more slowly. "To...have...a...great...marriage." And this time there is a question at the end.

Therein lies the problem.

Don't get me wrong. I think great marriages, better parenting, and godly living are all great goals, but the problem is they are way too abstract.

This is what I have found in people who are unhappy. They tell you they are unhappy, but they don't identify what they are unhappy about. It just isn't what they want. Okay. So what do you want? Well, they don't really know, but this isn't it.

If you don't know what you want, how will you ever develop a plan to reach it? And how will you know if you've found it?

One of the heart desires I listed is to have wisdom. Not perfect, but wise. In fact, I think part of wisdom is knowing to let go of the perfection expectation, but that is a different blog.

The question I have to ask myself is: what do I mean by gaining and speaking with wisdom?

My answers determine my path to solution.

My definition of speaking wisdom includes:
  • Knowing when to keep my mouth shut.
  • Pointing people always to God.
  • Having the courage to speak the truth that may be hard to hear but speaking it with love, not judgment.
  • Knowing how to address a problem to reach a desired solution.
There are problem more that will arise, but that is my starting point. Now, to figure out the map. How am I going to get there?

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom, but in summary, it all starts one place: with God. (Check out Proverbs 2)

  • So I'm reading five chapters a day from the Bible. Not telling you that to sound impressive. Just sharing part of my gaining wisdom plan.
  • I am spending time I would normally spend watching a movie, playing solitaire, on Facebook, or in other ways praying honestly with God. Just talking about issues I have to address and seeking His word and will on them.
  • I am reading books by great leaders. Maybe not the ones you think or approve of, but great leaders, nonetheless. I'm reading Oswald Chambers, but I'm also reading Patton.
  • I'm reading books and having conversations by people and with people who know what I want to learn.
  • I am giving time before I respond to questions, situations, and issues. I won't say I never respond out of emotion because again, I'm not perfect, but I'm a lot better at being honest and saying, "Right now, I am too emotional to think this through on a logical level. Give me some time to pray this through and find a clear mind so I can address it well." For the most part, people are okay with that and appreciate being respected and valued instead of lambasted, and really, isn't that the point? That I value their feelings and heart too much to go off in my offended flesh and do damage? It isn't just that I look good. It's that I treat others well.
  • I'm also tending my calendar better. I make concerted effort not to get overbooked, over busy, and overworked. I'm making time to rest and think things through instead of always living in a mindset of urgency.
Again, there is probably more, but that is my jumpstart, don't get overwhelmed plan for obtaining wisdom and speaking wise counsel.

Plus, later in Proverbs it says, "Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established (24:3)," which totally speaks to my desire to have a great relationship with my kids and my desire for them to serve God. Gotta love multi-tasking the God way!

Now, I'm a realist. I'm not perfect and won't be. I won't be all wise by the end of the year. This never was a New Year's resolution anyway. This is a life plan. My life plan to gain wisdom I want to live by and lead with. It's the map I am using to reach a specific goal so when it comes time to die, I can look back and be happy with how I lived.

Know what I mean?

The Value of Wisdom
Proverbs 2
My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.
10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
14 Who rejoice in doing evil,
And delight in the perversity of the wicked;
15 Whose ways are crooked,
And who are devious in their paths;
16 To deliver you from the immoral woman,
From the seductress who flatters with her words,
17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth,
And forgets the covenant of her God.
18 For her house leads down to death,
And her paths to the dead;
19 None who go to her return,
Nor do they regain the paths of life—
20 So you may walk in the way of goodness,
And keep to the paths of righteousness.
21 For the upright will dwell in the land,
And the blameless will remain in it;
22 But the wicked will be cut off from the earth,
And the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Heart of the Matter

So we're moving, and right now I haven't the foggiest where we are moving to. People move to jobs, colleges, family, places they've always dreamed of. I don't have any of that, so what am I moving to?

The obvious answer is God, but unless I'm in rebellion, God is with me, so that isn't really that helpful. The next thought is: What does God want me to do when I get there? Reasonable question, so I asked Him.

All that keeps coming to mind are two questions:
If you could do anything, what would you do?
If you could have anything, what would you want?

Pretty pie in the sky questions, if you ask me, but then, I was reading in 2 Samuel last week because if a body wants to know how to seek God with no defined earthly parameters to limit you, David is the man to study. As I was reading, the following verse stuck in my mind:

He brought to fruition David's salvation--dealt with every foe and challenge David faced--and granted David's "every desire".

"If you could do anything, what would you do? If you could have anything, what would you want?"

What are your heart's desires?

This is what I'm moving toward.

So I took time to really think about that.

I know the typical answers of wanting this job or that house or the significant other or to just be happy. I want to be happy, too, but my idea of happy isn't necessary what others would want. So if I could do what makes me happy, if I could live and have what made me happy, what would that be? This is what I listed:

1. To have a great relationship with my kids
2. For my kids to seek God with all they are
3. For them to serve Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength
4. To enjoy the adventure
5. To write books that bring healing and restore identities
6. To live to my potential
7. For the kids to have "Jonathan" and "Ruth" friends
8. To trust God so fiercely and wholly that I never back down from a giant
9. To be a safe place for people
10. For my mouth to be a fount of wisdom
11. For my house to be "the place to go"

Those are the things that would really bring me joy. Those are my heart's desires. There may be more than didn't cross my mind at the moment, but this is my core.

So everyday now I read the verse from 2 Samuel 23:5 and I pray over this list and ask:

How do I lead my house so it is in order
and you can give me the desires of my heart?

I don't expect some magic wand that blesses just anything I do, but I want to live the kind of life that can be wildly blessed.

And that is what I'm moving toward.

Monday, January 12, 2015

God is Good. This I Believe.

It's Monday morning around 10:00, and I am on the phone with Debra. Coming apart because it is four years later and so much still looks the same. People say they will help or call back or email the information...and don't. And once again I'm moving by myself, and I'm infinitely tired of having no one to have dinner with or just have coffee...just get out of the house with an adult. And lonely just flat sucks and...

The phone beeps. Scott is on his way over to help load heavy furniture into my truck so I can take it to the women's shelter.

Debra says she is sorry for not calling when she said she would but she really does love me, and I blow my nose and tell her I know because really I do. And in a split second, we're fine, and we laugh because four years ago we would not have been fine. She would have been defensive. I would have stayed mad. Silence would have dropped like smoke we couldn't find our way through.

The phone beeps again, and it's our neighbor a few doors down. The one who so totally adopted us. One of her precious granddaughters has been in the hospital with the flu the last few days. She has taken a serious turn for the worse and is being careflighted to the pediatric hospital with doctors who can deal with her existing health issues and the least we hope so.

I am getting off the phone with Debra when I realize the dryer is still running but should have been done a half hour ago. I check it to find out it is not heating at all. I have learned a lot in four years but not how to fix dryers. Well, I've changed out a heating element, but my friend Chris coached me through. I don't know if I can do it by myself.

I breathe deep and finish the sweeping I've been doing while I've been on the phone, and I'm mopping when Scott arrives and tells me he needs to take his car to the shop because the power steering went out on the way here. I look at the clock and wonder how in the world I will get everything done today that needs to be done because the for sale sign is planted in the front yard and the lockbox is on the door and being the list person I am, everything on the list has to be done or...probably nothing at all will happen but I can't think that straight right now.

When we get back, Scott and I discuss the furniture, and I don't have a for sure answer because two trips are easier, but long drive and ugh. BUT, he can fix a dryer, and I can't. So he crawls in the guts of the dryer, and I sweep and mop and am loading parts of loft beds in my truck when my neighbor stops for a hug. Then it occurs to me one of her daughters is in the midst of a major life change and might need the beds.

In the midst of all the sweeping, mopping, dryer multi-meter work, moving pavers, and so much not going according to plan, Heather texts me about Abraham and obedience and how obedience opens the door for blessing. She says it plain, that it what I'm doing, opening the door for blessings because I'm being obedient. I don't know whether to crumple to my knees in gratitude for the word, repentance for my angst, or in the simple wondrous living it loud that His strength stands when my falls.

Another phone beep. Turns out our neighbor's daughter can use the beds, and the whole reason they are still there is because Scott is still crawling around the guts of my dryer...but has pinned down the problem and found the part...which we can go pick up less than 20 minutes away.

But that isn't the big dryer issue. The big dryer issue is the burning smell WonderGirl smelled last night...and the burnt insulation/lint Scott found today...which is most likely what burned up the part in the first place. That is kind of the big deal. That could have been a horrible deal...but is just the kind of deal that says loud and clear...

That on this insane, not at all what it should be day when I would just like to have dinner with an adult and lonely sucks and...

The house is still standing.
The dryer is fixed.
I'm not by myself .
The beds are going to someone who needs them, and I don't have to move them.
The floors are swept and mopped.
Several things are marked off my to do list.
I'm taking Scott out to dinner.

And God is good.
Oh. My. Lands. God is good.

Yeah. This I believe.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Today I am thinking a lot about Abraham, how the Lord told him to move, so he picked it all up and moved. And I wonder if the voice God used for Abraham is louder than the voice He uses for me. Did Abraham ever wonder if he had heard correctly? Did he ever have those moments when he thought this had to the absolute stupidest thing he'd ever done? 

Except following God is never stupid.

Sometimes it is hard, but it never stupid.

I keep telling myself this as I walk to the front of my yard and plant the for sale sign near the street. I tell myself this as I look around at all the things that aren't "perfectly" clean or perfectly staged and wonder how in the world I'll ever get all of it done, and if I don't, what?

Does it not sell? What then?

What if it does?

Unlike Abraham, I have no clear vision for where I am going or what I'm supposed to do, and sometimes that leaves me wanting to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head and indulge in the idea I really heard nothing. Surely Abraham never felt that way.

Or may he did.

I don't know.

I know he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Today I am looking at the promises that have not come to pass and the changes that are happening again, and I am asking if I believe God. And if so, what do I believe?

I believe God is good. Even when the road is hard...sometimes the road is hard because God is good.
I believe when God says He is my strength, He knows humans are a muddy lot and mud's fortitude can be eroded with hard weather, and sometimes, I'm incredibly muddy.
I believe He keeps His promises.
I believe He is good. I know. I already said that, but sometimes that is all I know to believe when once again I simply don't understand the road I am on and I don't understand His choices and like Abraham, all the good stuff doesn't feel so good when the desires of my heart seem so unimportant.

And sometimes that is how it feels.

And, yes, Abraham felt the same way. He even told God as much. God promised him land and wealth and renown, and Abraham responded with, "What does it matter if I have no son?" Then God, instead of reprimanding Abraham for his ungrateful attitude, said, "I know your heart, Abraham. I know what you really want. I'm gong to give you that, too."

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Abraham believed God, so when God said it was time to move, Abraham moved. Abraham didn't know exactly how God was going to do what He promised, but he knew the moving created the atmosphere where the fulfillment could happen.

In a lot of ways, I feel lost, not knowing exactly what I'm supposed to be moving toward. I wonder if Abraham ever felt that way. I wonder if he ever sat alone, breathed deep, and whispered quiet:

God is good.
He keeps His promises.
His strength is enough when mine isn't.
God is good.
This I believe.

God looked at Abraham's belief and credited it to him as righteousness. God was good to Abraham. And He did keep His promises.

This same God is still good...and still keeps His promises.

And following Him is never stupid.

This I believe.

So...I am following His voice and moving on.

Copyright 2015 Jerri Kelley Phillips

Monday, January 5, 2015

If My Children Gave My Eulogy

Yesterday I attended the life celebration of a friend. His oldest daughter was one of the speakers. I thought back to giving my mom's eulogy four years ago, and then I wondered, what would my children say if they gave my eulogy? More importantly, what would I want them to say? I would want them to say something like this:

Mom, knew God. Not just went to church or had a Bible she picked up on Sundays, but she knew God. Face to face. Intimately. He was her best friend, and she trusted Him completely. Not a day went by when she didn't talk to Him and about Him. Prayer for her was a constant conversation with Him. They talked about everything. She told Him her whole heart, and she always knew He cared about every single detail.

She refused to let circumstances or people dictate how she lived, what she expected, or who she was. It wasn't that God had the final word. He had the only word.

We always knew Mom loved us. There was never any doubt about that. She had this ability to know when we needed to hear that she loved us, that she was proud of us. She had this knack for saying, "I'm so proud of you, and I'm so proud to be your mom," at the moments when we couldn't figure out why she was proud of us at all.

Mom always made time for us. Playing games, snuggling, talking. She always had time to talk, and nothing was taboo. She never freaked out about anything we said or any topic we brought up, and she always helped us find our way through things.

She never told us who we were or what to do with our lives. She just said, "You're an answer. You need to ask God what He made you the answer to. Then live that with passion. Be fearless because the God who made you to be the answer won't let you fail as long as you seek Him."

One time I asked Mom if she thought I was normal. Without a second hesitation, she said, "Oh Lord, I hope not. Normal never changed the world. I pray you live extraordinarily you."

That's how Mom lived--extraordinarily her.

She was a warrior. Courageous. Fearless. She never backed down from a giant. That was just one more dead body for her to step over on the way to where she was going. If you needed someone to help you get to where you wanted to go with your life, Mom was all in. She was right with you. She'd fight for you, drag you if you were wounded, protect you when you were down, but if you just wanted to sit and wallow, you were on your own. Mom had no patience for whining or wallowing.

As fierce as she was, Mom wasn't hard. She was kind and compassionate. She loved deeply, and if you needed her, anytime day or night, she was there. She didn't just talk about Jesus, she lived Him.

Mom was usually right, but when she wasn't, she apologized. She tried to never let pride come before people. She valued people and was willing to build bridges and find ways through misunderstandings to find them.

Mom lived in a state wonder. She loved the adventure of life. Where a lot of people get hurt and use it as an excuse to go and hide, she saw fear of any kind as the enemy, and she hit that enemy head on every single time. She did make it a point to let us know her avoidance of bungee jumping wasn't fear, but her choice not to put God to the test. Mom chose not to be afraid of pain or hurt in life. She said it was going to come whether we hid or not, so she chose to take it on face to face and explode with life despite the risks.

She loved life.

Mom was bigger than life, but never saw herself as bigger than anyone.

Mom lived big and taught us to live big, too. There are so many things we could tell you that we learned from her, but these are three of the biggest:

First, God is everything. Anything you need is found in Him, including yourself.

Second, she loved us fiercely with her whole being, and she always covered us and protected us. She was a safe place for us always. She was a gentle person, but you never wanted to see Momma Bear because you messed with her cubs.

Finally, life is an adventure. Live it loud and big and with fearless passion. Just like Mom.

If your kids gave your eulogy, what would you want them to say?

This is what I would want my kids to say when I'm dead and gone, so this is how I choose to live while I'm here.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Because Fred Himself was the Adventure

*Warning: Put down the coffee cups and all forms of drink. I am not responsible for spewed drinking on any form of electronic screens. You may question, but stick with me; you'll see.
As some of you know, my beloved Fred spent nearly a week at the vet's before Thanksgiving. He was sent home because "although he's really sick, he won't eat, and he's a grouchy patient." I laughed. After three days of still not eating his medicated food here and vomiting up the meds I shoved half-way down his throat to make him swallow, I decided whether Fred lived or died, we could do it better than this, so the meds went in the cabinet and the regular dog food came out. For the next few weeks, all was great. Then I woke one morning to find puddles of food and water and a not so great looking Fred.
Knowing it was pointless to go back to the vet, I petted my dog and said, "Whatever it looks like, I'm in it with you."
For the next week, Fred's health went downhill in a hurry. On Wednesday night, the 17th, I took him for a walk in the rain, something we have loved since he was a puppy. He only walked to the end of the drive, but he wasn't able to make it back. I carried him.
The next day, he was weak.
About 0300 Friday morning I heard a nose, Fred couldn't walk. By 0400, he couldn't push himself up. His still bright eyes looked at me, and his tail wagged. I smiled and sat by him. "You are such a warrior. You have the fiercest heart I know."

But even warriors sometimes lose.
(Stick with me and put the Kleenex away. Fred is far from done with his adventure.)
I moved him to my bed, and we lay here a bit on his Coca Cola blanket, like we used to do when he could jump on the bed by himself (because at 70+ pounds, I was not picking him up and putting him up here). He just looked at me with his big brown eyes, and I look at him. Sometimes long looks say everything.
I had promised the kids I would take them to see the Hobbit that morning, and I kept my promise figuring Fred would be gone when we got home. When we left, I petted him and told him he was a great dog and I was thankful for our adventure but understood if he needed to go. Whatever he decided, I'd take care of him. (Yes, I'm the kind of nurturing "Marine" sort to even say that to my dog.)
When we got home, he was gone. I called the vet and made arrangements to have him cremated with drop off the next day.
(Seriously, put down your drinks now.)
I had committed to doing the food for the kids' sleep over at a friend's overnight Christmas party, and I had to finish baking, so I did and then took the kids to Lori’s, came home, and had to load the still 50+ pound dog into the back of the truck to take him to the vet’s for cremation.
I’m telling you. You would have hurt yourself laughing at me trying to move this dog. Good golly. The dog is a Lab, and when he stood on his hind legs, he was pretty much face to face with me, so I’ve got this 50+ pound emaciated small person who has died with his front legs sticking straight up over his head, and his back legs at a 90 degree angle to his body, AND because he died of liver disease, he has drainage coming from his mouth, so I’m trying to avoid his mouth area and that area of the blanket because it is wet. I can’t get him in a trashbag because he is too big, so I’m trying to get this absurd mass out my front door without him falling out of the blanket, which I do, but....
I think I am further off my front entry than I was, so I think I’m going to step down, and my heel caught the step. I didn’t fall. Could you imagine falling on that dog after he’d lain in the floor dead for half a day? He’d have exploded, and there is not enough perfume in Macy’s to make that better. But in the effort not to fall with this literal dead weight, I stepped to the side with my other foot and caught the edge of the sidewalk with the side of my foot. So now I have one ankle that hurts from the step and the fracture on my other foot screams loudly, and in the very quiet darkness of our neighborhood at around 10:00 pm, you could hear me scream, “Good Lord, Fred, could you make this any freaking harder?!”

I did get the dog in the truck and thankfully had the forethought to lower the tailgate prior to the moving of said dead dog. So I plop the blanket bundle on the tailgate and try to slide him into the truck. Can't. The rhino lining is textured to keep things from slipping...things like dead dogs wrapped in blankets. No problem. I'll just climb up on the tailgate, go around, and pull him in. No. He is foot to tail the length of the tailgate. I can't get around him. Finally, I reach over the dog, pull the blanket so Fred does a weird forward roll slide, and get him far enough in that I can close the tailgate without pinching him and possibly creating a smelly problem.

Next morning, I pick up the kids and head to the vet's. I was less than 15 minutes away when the nice state trooper decided he needed to introduce himself. I've never been pulled over before, so yet another new adventure to add in the list. Thankfully, it was pleasant, and I got off with a warning because I have no front license plate on my truck...because there is no place to put a license plate. So now I carry the license plate in my truck. 

Finally, got to the vet's. 

My vet’s office was hit with the flu that weekend, and there was only the receptionist, so I was helping her get Fred into the plastic bag, and for reasons I do not understand, his body was limp as a rag. I tried picking up the end of the blanket for her to slide the bag under and around, Fred slid out the other side. We tried rewrapping him in the blanket, and he would roll with it in a way that he rolled out. We finally got his body into the bag, but his neck was so limp it would catch on the lip of the bag. Then she nearly drop the whole thing laughing when I said, “Fred, I used to love you a lot, but that is seriously waning right now.” Finally we got him in the bag and got it tied. Then, dear Lord in heaven, we had to put him in the freezer. A pygmy goat might fit in that freezer. A Lab? We sort of rolled him in a weird Cirque de Fred position and closed the lid and held it down so he couldn’t spring open and knock the top up.

After that, I went home and went to bed to take a nap and fell asleep with a smile on my face thankful for the adventure that was Fred.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Right now at 0100 on 1/1, that is how I feel. Simply...


My legs are numb from being outside shooting off fireworks with the WonderPeeps, and oh, my goodness, that was a big YES!!!!

My stomach is full from the milk and brownies WonderGirl made earlier. YES!!!

And I am in that wondrous place where the past and potential meet, and as this new year begins, all I can think is YES!!!!

In fact, everything in me screams this.

Everything in me is excited, not just about the potential of this year, but about the wonder of right now.

Right now, my two favorite people are laughing hard in the other room.

Right now, Pandemic is spread out all over my kitchen table from the game we played earlier and didn't clean up after because we'll play again tomorrow.

Right now, there are boxes and tape amassing in the garage because God is leading us on another adventure.

Right now, I am in awe of fireworks and the Chinese who created them, and I love awe.

Right now, I have the fixin's for homemade soup sitting on the counter waiting for when I get up in about 5 hours.

Right now, I'm thankful for heater blankets, space heaters, warm clothes, and living in Texas where snow and ice don't hang around long and we should be back up in the 40s by the weekend.

Right now, I think my life is the absolute most wonderful life ever, and I love who I am and the life God lets me live.

In the past, I've tried to be excited on New Year's because I had things missing in my life, and I hoped the new year would bring answers. This year, my life is full. My heart is so full it is...humbling...awesome...beautiful...

One of the great things about not wanting anything in particular, I seem to be wondrously in awe of all of it in general. I'm not driven for an outcome but wildly thrilled with the entire adventure.

And to the adventure of 2015, I only have one thing to say.