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.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


I am in Texas.

In fact, I am in the DFW area. Not something I typically post for personal reasons, but today, where I live is pertinent because less than an hour south of me people are getting good looks at the damage and loss wrought by last night's tornadoes. Responders have been out all night in cold rain while the temperatures dropped lower than we've seen in a few weeks and will drop down into freezing with chance of snow and ice tonight.

In West Texas a blizzard is barreling in with drifts expected to be 5-10ft and all kinds of ugly.

East Texas is now dealing with tornadoes.

Central North Texas is dealing with flood conditions and post tornado shock and clean up. At least 11 are dead, and I think more are missing.

Texas is being hit pretty hard right now. This is not a sob story. It's a fact.

Would you please take time over the next week or so to mention the folks here who have lost loved ones and homes as well as the responders who are going to need to heal physically, emotionally, and mentally?

Thank you.

God's blessings to you.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

When the Day After is a Day Right in the Middle Of Christ-mass

Okay, so it is the day after Christmas.
The fridge is packed with leftovers.
The wrapping paper is tossed in the trash.
The kids may or may not already be tired of their toys.
The house may or may not have been mostly reclaimed from the mayhem yesterday.
And all those twinkle lights that lit your heart now look like a big blaring entry on your post Christmas to-do list.
Doesn't quite look like it did yesterday morning, does it?

Except...real Christ-mass does...because the real mass of Christ is not a season, it's life we live and how we live it.

The real celebration isn't a's Christ in us...showing how a dark tree of death is the place where light slammed into the world leaving forever different...offering that difference on a personal level.

May the Christ-mass be more than a day you celebrate...may it be a salvation you live.

God's blessings!
Jerri Kelley

Thursday, December 24, 2015

On Christmas

As I write this, I am cozied up on my couch under a favorite blanket watching MASH Christmas episodes because when Charles' candy for the orphans ends up on the black market, I get teary-eyed, and when they sing Dona Nobis Pacem, I sing, too, in my choked up sort of way.

Tomorrow my brother and my new fur-niece will be here for lunch, and we'll open gifts and play board games and laugh...and it'll be my favorite Christmas ever.

For the first time in what feels like a lifetime, this Christmas feels whole. I feel whole. When I look around the table, I see the amazing people who are here, not the ones who aren't, and my table...and heart...are full.

However, I know many of you are not having your favorite Christmas ever. In fact, some of you are having the Christmas from hell. Instead of a whole Christmas, there is a big gaping hole, maybe a few gaping holes. And while I am awake writing this, you are simply awake.

I want you to know I'm sorry. I'm sorry about the holes, and I'm sorry about the empty chairs, and I'm sorry about the traditions that aren't the same because life isn't the same. I'm sorry you are having to fight through feeling like hell to celebrate the Prince of Heaven, and I'm even sorrier if you aren't fighting at all but just trying to survive any way possible. I understand. And if all you  can do is survive, then survive. Just get through the days.

I also want you to know since the week before Thanksgiving I've been praying for you because I know that an empty chair is an ocean of grief, and I know the comfort of tradition can cut like a knife. And...God in heaven...I know.

So I'm praying for you.

I'm praying for your comfort and for your peace. I'm praying for your healing. And I'm praying you have the courage to get through. I'm praying for your strength. I'm praying...that one day your Christmas won't be like this one.

Until then, I'm praying....

So Why Do We Not Tell the Truth?

My Dear J,

You ask a very good question: why are we afraid to be honest about what is going on in our hearts?

I think there are a few answers.

First, there is the fallen state of humanity. We fear rejection, that people won't understand, and gossips. We fear looking weak and like failures. Pride is an ugly silencer and a silent prison that most people don't realize they live in.

Second, I think it is devalued in the church because of a theology of false holiness. We are part of a culture that focuses on how things look and not on how things really are. As God told Samuel in the Old Testament, "Man looks at the appearance, but God looks at the heart."

We have a church atmosphere that thinks there is some kind of holiness in denial, so they hold up posters of verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and tell us that God has great plans for us but then totally ignores the hard road we must walk to reach those promises, or they toss out Hebrews 11:1 about faith being certain of what we do not see, but then dismiss the pain of the circumstances, broken relationships, and nightmares that we do see.

I have walked both roads: the one that verbally denies the hard so I can look like a woman of faith and the one that spends time daily on my knees before God confessing my struggles in the waiting for the good and the promised, and I am telling you, God is not afraid of honest hearts.

I agree with what Fr. James said in our conversation, and I wish I could remember his exact words because he said it so beautifully. People seem to have this idea that God find humanity repulsive, but in truth, He values it and finds joy in it. After all, He created us in His own image and He did take human form to redeem us. He isn't ashamed of our frailties. Instead, somehow this perfect God finds those frailties beautiful and endearing.

In believing that God finds us repulsive, we have construed that to mean he finds our emotions repulsive, too, and that isn't true. He did not put anything repulsive into us. A perfect God cannot place repulsive elements into His creation. When sin entered the world, emotions became warped as our sense of identity and value was warped, but our perfect God made our emotions to be perfect roads to Him. Hosea tells us He draws us forth with cords of human kindness. That is an emotional response. We are told in Psalm that what a man wants is unfailing love. That is emotion. It is an emotion that led Father God to put Christ on the cross in the first place. Surely it was not a logical choice. Logically speaking, why would anyone die for an enemy that might still hate him anyway? He wouldn't, but a God of great compassion and love would.

God does not fear our emotions because He knows what they really do.

They reveal our need for Him.

When my heart was broken from loss, the Lord did not see a woman void of faith. He saw a daughter in need of comfort and peace that only He could give. My pain was a place for Him to reveal so many facets of His love. I have said it before, and I will say it again: All the horrible pain I endured allowed me to see God in ways I could have never seen Him otherwise, and in Him, I see beauty I had never imagined.

I wonder sometimes if the lack of adoration for the Lord in the church culture is a result of our own rejection of ourselves, our humanity, and our emotions.

If we refuse the truth of our emotions, we refuse to see his love in response to them.

When we refuse to let Him see our deepest heart, how can find see how totally relevant He is to our every need?

I believe it is our effort to show Him how good we are that keeps us from seeing how utterly amazing He is.

When we choose to believe that a better external world will fix our internal reality, we choose to make him irrelevant. His goal was never to fix the world. It was always to reach our hearts, and until we honestly lay our hearts before Him, we will never know how honestly relevant He is.

You asked me, dear friend, how we can be saturated with churches and be so void of God. I think it is a false theology of holiness that tells us to fake it until we make it, except that we are told either we really don't have to make it because God loves us right where we are or we can't be honest about where we are without risk of God not loving us. Really, aren't they saying the same thing? A God who desires holiness has to love you without question because if He chooses to see anything unholy in you He can't possibly love you. Both are a lie.

A holy God can and does love despite our unholy ways, but He loves us enough to lead us to the way of holiness.

Unfortunately, when we refuse to honestly see and embrace who we are, we make it impossible to honestly see and embrace who He is.

In our culture we are taught to be really courageous, but, my friend, if you want to find the real God, I would tell you to be courageously real. He isn't afraid of your honest mess, and you don't need to be afraid of letting Him into your mess.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How Are You?

My Dear J,

I have been thinking about our conversation concerning responses to the question, "How are you?" I could theorize on the theological conditions which lead to the pat Christian-ized answers--I am referring to people replying that they are "blessed", "glorious", "highly favored", and so on. In simple response to your question, though, as to the why people give those answers, I think there is a misunderstanding in the wholeness of people.

The truth is when people say they are blessed, I can only think that is the most inane, obvious answer there is. Of course we are blessed. We are still breathing on planet earth, and no matter what is happening, in God's mercy, He is still blessing a person to create an atmosphere where the person recognizes His hand in his or her life and grows in relationship with Him. To say, "I'm blessed," really speaks more to God's faithful character than our personal condition.

The same is truly for when someone says, "I'm highly favored."

Great. I'm glad you recognize that.

To say, "I'm fantastic," is really nothing more than the declaration of being on an emotional high of some kind.

But when I ask how you are, I am asking about the condition of your heart as it walks through the circumstances of  this world.

One can be blessed and have a crushed heart. One can be highly favored and still battle demons of the past. One can be a on an emotional high and still be spiritually bankrupt.

So when I ask you how you are, I am not asking for the pretty answer. I'm asking for the honest one. I don't expect you to tell me all the sordid details, but if your heart is broken, I want you to know I care about your broken heart.

If your mind is filled with thoughts of your prodigal, you may still be blessed and highly favored, but prodigals sure weigh heavy in a heart.

If you are trying to give up those cigarettes, you can be blessed and highly favored...and agitated and struggling and wondering where your strength is going to come from and...

And you know, being blessed and favored doesn't help much when you are walking in the condemnation of feeling like an idiot for that sexual romp Friday night.

And I don't care how brave your face is when you tell me you are trusting God, if your eyes are bloodshot from crying all night because your marriage is going to hell in a hand basket and you don't know how you are going to handle it.

And honestly, God is not impressed by brave faces, but He will move heaven and earth...or leave heaven for respond to the honest needs of an honest heart.

That is how He is.

How are you?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sometimes When God is Silent He is Speaking Loud and Clear

It's been nearly five years since the full-blown rebuilding started. As I told my friend John during Thanksgiving, this is the first holiday season I have not felt like part of me was missing. For the first time since it all started, I feel whole.

And the rebuilding has shifted.

I didn't realize that for the first few years, really up until just the last few months, "rebuilding" was simply get out of the rubble and finding a way to breathe that wasn't still inhaling the dust of decaying skeletons or the debris of shattered dreams. I didn't realize the significant difference between rebuilding myself and rebuilding my life. I naively thought they were the same thing.

They aren't.

Many people rebuild lives. They move to new places, get new jobs, even find new relationships. That is not the same as rebuilding oneself. Rebuilding oneself is hard work that requires a total restoration of soul, not just a change of circumstance.

I thought I was doing both, and to some extent, I think I was. I was at least gathering pieces, but lately, I have found myself pushing more and more for rebuilding life. Doing that, I've been sorting through the pieces, figuring out what stays and what was a good lifeboat at a time, and seeing how it could all fit together.

As some of you know, I have had the privilege of working with men and women who have suffered various forms of PTSD, trauma, and loss. Unlike the VA or most of the population it seems, I do not believe the answer is medication for the rest of a person's life. I do not agree that "successful treatment" means a person has not killed him-/herself or someone else that day. I have read the Bible. I have read the Jesus came so people can have abundant life, and 10-15 prescriptions taken at varying times each day is not abundant life. I believe God has the power and intention to heal minds and souls, except psychology only deals with the minds. They aren't finding solutions because they aren't addressing the souls.

I want to address the souls.

I want to see these men and women restored to the people God created them to be, and I know they can be. I have been, and I do not believe what God gave me is just for "special people". I believe He is willing to give it to anyone who is willing to seek Him.

There is a problem. I am not a combat vet, so reasonably, soldiers and marines aren't going to feel I will understand.  I get that. I get that in their minds, I don't have the credentials to be useful. I thought the Lord had provided a partner to work with, but that is up in the air. In the meantime, I've been praying about master's programs where I could combine psychology with seminary. I have checked into a variety of programs, and each one was a brick wall. Finally, I stopped and was simply silent. Sometimes God speaks pretty loud in the silence.

When my thoughts had grown quiet, I began to think a simple thing: "The silence is an answer. I'm not directing you to a program because a program isn't where I want you. Your gift is not psychology. You don't understand people because of a degree in psychology. You understand them because My Spirit tells you about them. Your gift is your ability to hear Me. Your gift is hearing Me and being the place where I can speak to others. I will be your credentials. I will be everything."

Of course, that could be arrogance. I've known people who think like that, and it isn't pretty. I really don't want to be one of them, so I prayed for the Lord to speak clearly in some oddball way that can't be missed. In fact, I prayed this all the way to mass and while I prepared my heart for worship last night.

Our scriptures were from Zephaniah and Matthew. Both talked about the rebellion of Israel and their inability or unwillingness to obey God. Pretty straightforward stuff. Except, Fr. James pulled the two together in a fascinating way. He didn't talk about rebellion or disobedience. Instead, he talked about hearing God, and in his list of ways we need to hear God, he said:
"We need to learn to hear God, even in the silence." 

And in that statement, the silence spoke volumes.

In His silence, God was not ignoring me, deeming my prayers unimportant, or refusing an answer. His answer was loud and clear. "You are asking for a program of study. There isn't one. I have nothing to say on the matter."

And when God has nothing to say on the matter, there is silence.

Often we take the silence as the lack of an answer, but in truth, the silence is the answer.

We pray for God to give us direction to another job, one that is not so hard, and we get silence. We think He is ignoring us. In truth, He is telling us we are where we need to be. Perhaps instead of praying for Him to bless our comfort, we should ask how He wants to build our character.

We pray for direction out of the desert, and our prayers spread across the sand. We think God is being distant but perhaps He really wants us undistracted so we can learn His presence.

The silence isn't His refusal to speak but rather His loud and clear invitation to still ourselves in Him and recline against His breast and learn His heartbeat.

And when we get still enough and quiet enough to hear His heartbeat, we find the silence is filled with the sound of Him.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas is about THE Gift, Not Their Gifts

Christmas is slipping in, and the frenzy is picking up pace. Kids are getting excited about gifts, and adults are trying to keep up the time demands of extra activities and wondering how to manage it all...or at least how to keep it all from totally managing them.

Can I make a suggestion?

Stop. Just stop.

Take a breath. Pick an afternoon and evening and whatever is on there (except church) erase it. Make an excuse. Don't show. Stay home with the people who matter.

You know, Christmas is supposed to be about a baby in a manger. The big deal in the story isn't the magi bearing gifts, but the Gift building relationships. We talk about keeping Christ in Christmas, but I don't think most people even know what that means. It's more than lighting an Advent candle or reading a Bible story or attending a church service Christmas Eve. It's more than giving toys or food to others in need, although that is a great gift to give. Christ is about relationship. It's about a God who knew the only way to get people connected with Him was to go right into where they were.

Keeping Christ in Christmas means we work on relationships, too, maybe even some that are really hard.

Maybe instead of doing what we've always done, we do what someone else needs us to do.
Maybe instead of making excuses, we make a phone call.

 Instead of giving a wrapped up box, we give ourselves.
You know, like Christ did.

May you realize the gift some people really want and need is you, and may you have the courage to be the gift.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

God Help Us

This morning some folks are saying the hard part of the week is finished, and for some it is, but for some the hard part still waits after Friday when the busy stops and the house is quiet and the silence screams loud and drowning, and the dread of meals alone and football alone and the big gaping hole from what life used to be...what it used to be filled with is heavy. I know it's a nightmare, and you're wondering how you are going to get through...and maybe if you really want to get through...and really, if we are just being God-honest here, you really don't want to get through.

I know hell is not a place reserved for eternity. Hell is a place that sits down at the kitchen table where love used to sit, and it crawls in bed with you at night when you slide your toe over and there is no one to touch, and sometimes the death of a marriage is as killing as the death of a spouse...and  the death of a child...God help us....

And that is what I'm praying as the Spirit leads me to sit with you on this Thursday with the weekend coming...with another evening coming...God help us.

God help us find you in the dark.
Help us find each other and be the hands that hold on.
Help us see that this is not a destination but a horrible place of passing through.
Help us trust you to hold on to us when we are so weary, so pain-riddled, so hopeless that we can't hold on.
Help us to believe there is life after this loss.
Help us to see the life that is still in you.
Help us to receive the love from others and to reach out and blatantly, courageously grab someone else' hand and hold on for dear life, not because we are failing but because we recognize we are fragile.
Help us not to deny our need but to let you show us your way of meeting that need. God help us.
In this dark place, help us. When we know nothing else to pray because the loss an the pain have sucked out all the words...God help us.

Praying for you. Praying for you to have strength to hold on today, and if you can't hold for the whole day, for you to have the strength to hold on for just five more minutes from where you are.

God's heart and my prayers are with you.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Because Days "Until" Sometimes Trumps "Days Down"

So, it's Wednesday. Two days down this week, but some of you aren't thinking about that. Some of you are thinking about what is coming 14, 15, maybe 16 days from now, and you are wondering how you are going to face the what waiting for you there. Instead of being hit by a train, it may feel like your whole train has gone right off the track into a giant chasm. Really, if you feel that way, it's okay. Sometimes it really does feel that way. And I am already there, praying you through it, and the Lord is already there waiting to catch you. You aren't in this alone. The Lord and I are with you every day now until beyond then because Christmas isn't just a day. It's a season, and sometimes, it is a hard one.

With all my prayers for your comfort and peace...

Monday, December 7, 2015

In Case Monday has You Wondering

So, it's Monday, and you may be wondering why you are here and why you bother. Well, you are here because you are an answer to someone's prayer. It may feel like you aren't, but you are. As for why you should keep trying, God simply isn't finished with you yet. He still has a purpose for you, and that purpose means making a difference IN you and making a difference WITH you. I'm praying for your courage and hope to be uplifted today. I'm asking for Him to speak specifically in words YOU understand--whether that be a book, a verse, music, a gift (like seeing something out of the ordinary that mans something special to you)--to show you He is with you and to help you find the path you need to walk to be all you are created to be.

God be with you and may your walk with Him grow stronger and clearer.

And, hey, thank you for being here. Really.

Jerri Kelley

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What I Feel I Need to Share Today

This morning as I sat here staring at my screen praying and asking if there is anything I could say that might may the remotest difference, I saw someone sitting in church needing to be found. I saw someone sitting on the back row with tears sliding down her cheeks. I saw a man sitting stoically with the weight of the world crushing him, wondering if God cared or if he was in this alone like he thought he was...but hoped he wasn't. I saw someone sitting in her car trying to find the courage to believe that "maybe this time" just one more time. And all of those people left wondering why they bothered.

I asked Him to show me His heart, so I could share it, and this is what He gave me.

If you are one of those people, I want you to know God sees your broken heart. He knows the weight you are carrying. He knows you are trying to be brave...either in the staying...or the leaving. You are not forgotten. You are not in this alone. The answers may not be instantaneous, but they are in Him. He loves you. Your prayers are not falling on deaf ears. He hears you, and He is working on your behalf.

For some of you, you need to ask how you are part of the problem so you can repent and quit.

But for some of you with the crushed heart who never expected to be "here", He knows. He grieves with you, and, yes, the road to healing is hard, but if you keep giving Him your weakness, He'll keep giving you His strength. Trust Him to heal you, even if it takes time.

I also feel there is someone praying for a prodigal and you are wondering a lot of things. You wonder if all you've taught them has fallen to nothing. Not all prodigals come home and you wonder if yours is one that is too far. You wonder if you had done things differently if things would be different. Put down the guilt, real or indulged emotion. Confess it and move on. I feel like the Lord is saying to keep praying and have joy knowing in His time, He will have the prodigal's heart. But quit nagging. That doesn't help. Your prayers will open the door for the Spirit to invade the prodigal's world.
May the Lord our God be with you today to meet every need, to lead you in the way of righteousness, and to give you strength to live holy and pure lives.

--Jerri Kelley--