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, August 10, 2017

When Heaven Invades Home Depot Space

Gotta tell you about the cool happening this morning.
Last week I told you how I prayed for the Lord to give me strength in my knee so I could get back on the road and get ready for the 10k in November, and He did. In fact, I have only had one mild episode with my knee since then.
This morning I was so tired when I had to go back to Home Depot for another 10 bags of sand. I had already emptied 15 bags and smoothed them and laid over half the pavers, and I was tired.
So I'm in Home Depot, and the helper crew was busy, so I started loading the 60-pound bags of sand, which is not the same as bench pressing 60 pounds. Bench press is easier. Sand is like a limb body in a slick sleeping bag. I had loaded 8 of them and was pulling the other two, and I honestly prayed, "Lord, I need help." Seconds later, I hear, "Ma'am, how many more do you need?" A man was reaching in to get my other two bags for me. I told him. He loaded them. I blessed him in Jesus' name, and he went on. So did I.
I checked out and waited and waited for a HD person to load the bags for me. Finally, I told the cashier I was going to see if I could load them, but if anyone came, PLEASE send him to my truck.
I got to the truck and prayed for the Lord to give me strength to load 600 pounds of sand. I got 4 bags in, and I really had no idea how I was giong to get the other 6 bags, but God is faithful, right?
Then a truck stops, blocking the drive area, and out gets that same man. I just said, "You are my hero today." He said, "No. I am your blessing today."
Y'all...speechless...I told him I had waited but finally gave up, and he said, "That is because you were waiting for me."
And he loaded the other 6 bags, shook my hand, BLESSED ME in Jesus' name (like he hadn't already blessed me?!), and thanked me for letting him help!!!
Isn't God amazing how sometimes He puts strength into your body and sometimes He brings somebody else to share their strength?
Yeah...this daughter is feeling the wonder of her Daddy today.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How Did God and I Become So Intimate? Conversations like This.

Over the years, especially the last few years, people have asked me how God and I developed the intimacy we have and how He became my best friend. It is a lot of things. One of the biggest is honest communication, not just the angry spewing or aresenal of painful questions most folks think about when they think of "real" or "honest", but talking to Him like He is my husband sitting with me on the bed or across the table or on the deck, and we talk with the knowing that whatever we're in, we are trying to find each other in it. Sometimes I can't find Him, but He is always trying to find me, too, so with the understanding that the goal is to find each other, we talk. I feel like He would like for me to share some of tonight's talk from my journal so people know what I mean. I hope it blesses you.
Dear God,
I won't pretend to understand the last month. I won't pretend to understand today. And I'm not even gonna ask. What I am going to ask is for your grace while I am walking through the trials. I know they build character, and I know I need that. I"m good with that, like really peaceful good with that, but since you are the noly husband I have and the only best friend I have and the only one to talk to at 10 o'clock at night so I know how to handle today's stuff tomorrow, I'm just going to tell you the tears don't mean I don't trust you or that I'm angry. They just mean I'm tired. I am mentally so tired. I know. It'll all get done, and the ongoing issues with...everything...will either get fixed or not. And i know a few years from now, I won't remember tonight. I'll just see some amazing way you handled it better than I can imagine. And I'm really trying to hold onto that. The better than I can dream or imagine. Because right now, that isn't how things look. But I know. Circumstances don't define you. You define circumstances. And problems aren't problems for you. They are just a way for you to show powerful love. I do know this. I really do. And sometimes I just need to write you a letter and tell you all this because I need to read it. :-) I need to be aware again that the goal really isn't about the circumstance or handling trials perfectly to impress you, but the goal is to find each other and hold on. Thank you for holding on when I get lost until I find you. I love you.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

My Fitness Journey: It's NOT a DIET. It's a Lifestyle.

This past week a few folks have commented on my "diet", and I've been asked questions that I don't know how to answer, so I stare at people or go silent, not because I'm upset about the comment or questions but because I don't really have an answer. Due to a variety of time consumers and physical injuries, this thread has not become what I want it to be. It will get there, just hasn't yet. One of the things I wanted to explain is the difference between a diet and the journey I'm on.

First, a diet has the purpose of weight loss. Period. The goal is for the numbers on the scale to go down. That's it. That's the point of a diet.

That is why people use extreme things like less than a 1000 calories a day or vomiting or weight loss pills or weight loss surgery. Now, let me say here and now I am not criticizing those who use weight loss surgery, but I will say that very few people I know who use it actually keep the weight off because the problem isn't the size of the stomach but the size of the pain they are trying to feed.

Because the goal is weight loss, people use tools (like food deprivation, exercise, and calorie limits) to make that number change, and when they reach their happy number, they no longer need the tools, and the weight starts going back on again.

That is dieting in a nutshell.

That was never my purpose. A number on a scale was never my goal.

I didn't build a 300+ sq ft covered deck in order to lose weight.
I didn't renovate a house in order to lose weight.
I didn't work with a trainer for over a month in order to lose weight.
I don't walk 3-4 1/2 miles a day to lose weight.

I lost weight because I did those things.

My muscles toned because I did those things.
My clothes got too big because I did those things.

My weight loss has been a result of doing what I love and wanted to do, not the other way around.

I built the deck because we have no shade here, and I've wanted a deck since we moved. Finally, last summer I had a friend who could give me a few days help and carried 60 lb bags of cement for me, and I built the deck I wanted to build.

Last fall I had a situation where I needed to renovate a house to rent it out. I hired folks to do a lot of the work, but I ended up building fence, moving truck loads of landscape stone (big ones, by hand), digging stuff out, tearing things down and rebuilding, and so on.

In the process of those two projects,  part of my heart was restored. Part of me I had made small so I could try to fit in some absurd box people shoved at me so I could be acceptable and not intimidating.

I remembered that I love being outside.
I love building things.
I love moving heavy things.
I love being strong.
I love feeling athletic.
I love the mental satisfaction that comes from hard physical work.
I loved the muscle tone I saw in my legs and arms.
I loved how my body was changing.

And for the first time in nearly 20 years I could see myself as the person I physically want to be.
I could see myself as the person climbing the climbing wall at the rec center.
I could see myself hiking miles in state and national parks.
I could see myself doing 5Ks again.

So I called Adam, told him my goals, and we worked together to develop a structured program to implement once the projects were done.

My physical goals included:
Be stronger than I've ever been by the time I'm 50. BTW, before I got pneumonia, I was chest pressing 70 pounds, the most I've ever done.
Walking 5Ks. Now my goal is a 10K, and I am eyeing a half marathon.
Climb the climbing wall at the rec center.
Be one helluva hot MILF.  I know some will find those words and that term offensive. I'm not trying to be offensive. Just keeping it real as a woman and human. We like to feel attractive. Plus, I plan to remarry one day, and I want my husband fantasizing about my body, thank you very much.
I want to wear size 12 jeans because it is an easy size to find.

There. My one number in all that is the jeans, not because it is a magic number but because I want to enjoy shopping and finding something in my size.

Then there were the goals we didn't discuss because he couldn't help me with them anyway. My non-physical goals:
Find activities that make me happy and fed my soul instead of taking the easy way out and eating something.
Find activities that feed my mind so I don't boredom eat.
Take responsibility for enjoying life.
Take responsibility for engaging in life.
Actively create a life I love being part of.

See, none of this was about a diet. Yeah, I wanted to lose weight, but that is a result of doing what I love, not the driving purpose of what I do.

Let me give you a clear example of the difference in how this looks in real life.

A friend of mine at church last night asked me if I am still losing weight. I stared at her like she had two heads, not because of the question really but because I didn't know how to answer it, and she clarified, "Are you still walking?" Oh, yeah. I'm still walking.

But here is what I stared:
In the last three weeks, I've lost 1.5 pounds. In the "weight loss" community, that really isn't good results. However, in that same three week time frame, I have gone from not being able to get my "carrot jeans" on to being able to get them on, zip, and button them. Now I can't squat down in them. I can't sit in them. Motion is pretty none existent, but I didn't have to lie on the floor like Julie Roberts' character in Eat, Pray, Love, so yes, my body is changing even if the number on my scale isn't.

THAT is the difference between a diet and a lifestyle.

I'm not on a diet.

I'm actively creating a life I love.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'm Not Just Walking for Me

So, WonderBoy went to brush his teeth, and I heard a, "Mom! I think you should see this!" from the bthroom, except I didn't even have to get to the bathroom before I saw the water coming under the walls. Yep. The tub is full, toilet overflowed, and floor covered. Plumber #3 is coming tomorrow. Thankfully, already scheduled because there was concern that #1 didn't fix it all. Plumber #2? Comes Sunday to fix the drain pipe just under the house.
Me? Honestly? Thinking I am glad I already planned to put tile down in the bathroom because the bleach water I use to clean this when it is over will destroy the varnish on the stained concrete, and do I want to go with the tile that looks like boards or squares? I like the boards, but they might clash with the laminate flooring I hope to get down before winter.
Also laughing at the irony that all my towels are now wet and I have no way to wash them without making a bigger flood. Come on. It's funny.
And this is what else I"m thinking. I'm thinking one day my kids are going to be adults and they are going to go through those crazy times when they wonder if something could please go right, and I want to lay out a good map for them to follow when that happens. I don't want to be the example of stress and chaos and cussing and crying. I want to be the example of calm and clear thinking, so, I sighed more than I wish I had. Honestly, I'm really sleep deprived right now and running on low energy, but we delegated the towels and the water turnoffs and all that had to be done, and stuff was moved to my bahtroom, which, thank you, Jesus!, isn't flooding or clogged. And we laughed about the towels and decided to just let the dishwasher finish running because stopping it would only send water through faster. All calm. All methodical. Like I want my kids to learn to respond.
This isn't life-threatening. It's a nuisance. It's time consuming, but it isn't crisis. Even all the stuff crammed together the last few weeks isn't crisis. It's just transition at full-speed. We are the ones who have the crisis or not.
So, with everything that comes, I pray for God to give me wisdom to know what to do, but I also pray to handle it all well because I want my kids to know how to handle it well. To me, that is part of my privilege as a mom...laying the map for how to deal with the stuff that comes.
Thank the Lord He is amazing about guiding our steps, not just for our walk but for those following behind us.
Stay on the journey!
Jerri L. Kelley

For The Ones Who are Hurting So Much, if I were There...

My beloved friend who is hurting so much right now, I am so sorry. I am so sorry the world is so heavy on you right now. I'm sorry...about so much, and if I were there, I would hug you and let you cry until my shoulder was soaked, and you couldn't even stand up anymore. Then I would slump to the floor with you and let you put your head in my lap and cry some more, and I would cry with you because sometimes the only response that really says, "I get it," is to cry too, and I would sit withy ou until you either cried yourself to sleep or into a calm numbness because you won't cry forever, and numb can be a sweet reprieve. And if you wanted to talk, I'd listen, but if you just wanted to be there on the floor, not having to hold up the world or the marriage or the finances or the kids, I would sit with you because we all need a place where we are held up instead of holding things. I would hold you.
So wherever you are, wrap yourself in your favorite blanket, in your favorite sweatshirt, lie wherever you need to lie down, hide in the closet or in the tub or just on your bed, and cry the hard pain tears. No judgment. No having to hold it together. No having to be enough or something more than you can be right now, and know my heart and prayers are with you, and if I coudl be, I would be there in person as well. You are loved.
May you feel the presence of Almighty God holding you just like I described. This is the presence of God I know. I pray you know it, too.
Love and prayers, beloved one,

Focusing on the Peace because the Peace has the Answers to the Problems

To everyone who has been praying for me, THANK YOU! Realistically, on a scale of 1-10, the last 6 weeks has been a .001. Praise God for nothing life threatening, right?! It's just a lot, and I run on brain tired a lot frying to get the checklists done and make decisions. And yesterday was an avalanche day.
But this is what I've learned about avalanche days.
If I make the conscious choice to stop the running to catch up or stay ahead and focus on what I know about God's character, calm really does come. I think clearer. I don't end up with a tension headache (yesterday was a failure here). I am not short with the kids. I don'tt ake on that ridiculous idea that nobody likes me and I'm in this by myself and if people really cared....and then get mad at everyone in the world for not helping with something they know nothing about.
When I let mental chaos run amuck, it gets really crazy, really fast. So I try to reign in the chaos and run to the Christ who reigns (yep, i said it just that way so it would be easy to remember. I'd put in a meme if I knew how because that is good stuff).
Running to Christ doesn't mean i pray about the problems. It means I look at the peace.
Looking at the problems changes nothing. Looking at the Peace changes everything because now I am looking at the answer.
Maybe I still don't know how to do this or that or whether to take 12 hours or 9, but I do know the storm is at His control, and I'm hearing Him, not the crashing of the waves. My mind clears so I can think and hear and respond instead of reacting, and instead of seeing everything that is going wrong, I see the One who makes it all alright.
Does all that make sense? Is that applicable? Because if you can't apply this, then it is just a bunch of cute memes, and there are enough of those on FB. I'm serious. Can you use this? Let's talk.
Praying for you today. I'm glad you are here!
Stay on the journey,

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When It is Tuesday and the Week already Feels like Too Much

It's Tuesday, and some of us are feeling like we've had a full week squished into our week already, and maybe our spirits or brains are feeling a little squished, too. I have learned at this moment, I have two choices:
I can sit here and simmer in the squished and be miserable and feed this unholy headache.
Or I can stop looking at the squishing chaos and look at the saving Christ.
I know. That sounds so sickeningly Christian-cliche', but I'm not talking about some warm fuzzy, paste on a smile, and pretend it is fine Christ. I'm talking about the Christ that saves when the winds are whirling and the waves are crashing, and I feel like I am crashing in them.
This morning I was reading in Mark where Jesus and His disciples are crossing the lake, and the squall comes up and they freak out and accuse Jesus of not caring if they die, and He settles the storm and asks, "Where is your faith?"
He wasn't asking about their faith in His ability to calm the storm. He was as king about their faith in His character. He was asking, "Why don't you think I care about you yet?"
See, we often look at hard things or hard days and yell at God, "Don't you care if this kills me?"
But the real question is, "Do you believe He loves you?"
And I wonder if we can call it faith that God sent a Messiah who would die for us if we don't believe He loves us enough to be kind and not cruel toward us.
Here is the real the issue, the one that gets rid of the unholy headache and quiets the storm raging inside. The real issue is deciding that Christ is a Savior and not a sadist, that He is kind and not cruel. No one can decide but you.
The real issue is knowing God is for you and not just waiting fo an excuse to do something to you.
And I know you don't want to hear this, but that is a choice you make. You either believe Him or you don't. This isn't based on your momma or daddy or ex-whatever or what uncle so-and-so did to you or how the preacher who had the affair or whoever else. When it comes to believe who God is and how faithful He is to you, it is about HIM. It is about His character, His kindness, His word, and deciding no matter what the world and the enemy of your soul throws at you, no matter how high the waves, God is still all the compassionate, kind, generous, long-suffering, gentle, forgiving, loving glory His Word says He is.
The only way to become unsquished by the stuff going on outside of you is to become unfazed in your faith, not in an outcome of a situation, but in the character of God.
And you know what you do when your Tuesday has already packed a wallup the whole week feels like it can't hold?
You write a FB post about the character of the God who holds you, so you remember and settle in deep and solid and bring anyone else who wants to come with you.
There is room. Come on.
Jerri L Kelley

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Fitness Journey: On the Road Again

Hey, y'all! I feel like it has been forever since I told you my hateful scales told me I had gained three pounds in less than 48 hours. Lying little bugger. Truthfully, it hasn't been forever, only three weeks, and a few folks thought the silence is because my mouth was full of food. Actually, no.

The big question I was asked is if I am "sticking with it".

I know. What those folks were asking is if I am sticking with my diet despite these discouraging setbacks.

Well, I tried to make it clear with my first post I'm not on a diet. As the title says on each post, this is my FITNESS JOURNEY. This isn't about getting skinny or seeing a number on a scale. This is about a lifestyle I want back. So, yes, I am sticking with that.

As for where I have been, the three pound manic moment with my scale had nothing to do with it. What happened was five days later I injured my arm and couldn't use it. Like not to lift weights or feed myself or type. Thankfully, I found Maren, a great massage therapist (answer to prayer), and between her and prayers, my arm is functional again, although tender at times. That was the first week of silence.

Week two was caused when I was using a push mower to get some of my backyard under control while my tractor mower is being fixed, and the handle ended up hitting right above my kneecap and popping it backward...twice. Thankfully, the muscles ended up bruised, but no major damage was done. Still, it took over week of healing before I could walk Semper a mile without it becoming so swollen and painful I couldn't sleep. Then it was another few days before I could actually walk Semper without it swelling or getting stiff at all.

So that is three weeks of virtually no workouts, and honestly, if my whole goal was about seeing a number get smaller, I would be going insane sitting on my behind. However, in the big scheme of a fit lifestyle, being healthy means fitness, so the three weeks of my body doing its thing is still part of the program.

Granted, during those three weeks I didn't lose weight, but I didn't gain either, so I'm good. It means maintenance is solid despite eating stuff I really enjoy but isn't "healthy". That is good to know.

Today I was back on the road, except I only walked three miles, not the normal four. Again, no big deal. I'll keep this distance a few days, see how my knee is handling it, and increase the distance. The same is true for weights. I'm going to drop down about 10%-15% and let my body reacclimatize to the demands and add a little at a time.

To me, a fitness journey means I realize life happens. Injuries happen. Sickness happens. I don't let those things discourage me. Some folks call them 'setbacks'. I don't. It's just life. So I role with it and keep going.

Now, I will also tell you I am not going to be the size I had hoped to be when I start college next month. I've had to adjust some expectations, but that isn't defeat in my mind. It's just adjusting. I will still get there because I still love walking and being in the gym and working in my yard this life, which is really what this journey is about. It's about having a life I love, so yea, I'm sticking with it. :-)

Stay on the journey...even when it feels like an uphill climb. :-)

Grief isn't about the Past, Which is Why it Takes Time to Get Past Grief

I looked through the pictures as I copied them to the USB drive. Pictures of toddlers, preschoolers, elementary kids, junior high kids, high schoolers, and now young adults. They span a decade and a half, and I look and I smile and laugh and remember. My heart was joy full.

But then...there were pictures of a decade of 30s with his small children he could let climb on his back and could sit on his foot and he could still walk like a robot. Pictures of him playing chase and throwing snowballs and dancing with his daughter's bare feet on top of his and wrestling his Favorite Boy. Pictures of NASCAR races and Valentine dances and Lego creations galore.

Then they stop.

The pictures of him.

The pictures of the kids continue, but none are with him.

And you know what? All those amazing memories of their dad aren't want make my kids said. When he died six years ago, it wasn't all those memories that made them grieve. Really. It wasn't.

What made them grieve were the pictures that would never be taken.

See, grief isn't about missing the past, although it may feel like it because the past is something tangible we can see and know and experience. Grief is about missing today and tomorrow and the prom and picking out a car and waling down an aisle.

Grief is about the big empty possibilities of what could have been and we feel should have been.

It is the phone calls and conversations that never happen and the coffee that doesn't get drank and the movies that never get discussed.

Grief isn't what the past was. It is about what today and the future won't be.

People try to make it easier by saying it was just a boyfriend/girlfriend, friend for a season, family pet, family member, and it shouldn't be so hard and the grieving should get over it, but that really dismisses the reality of grief.

Because that boyfriend/girlfriend isn't the one to call when that quirky thing happens anymore, and the Guinea pig isn't going to snuggle anymore, and the friend isn't going to call, and that family member isn't going to hug you the way she always did, and there are a million little holes we have to adjust to because the person who filled them no longer does, and we are grieving the joy that could have filled those holes.

That is grief.

And it takes time to adjust to those holes, to miss what could have been there, to feel joy in what is there now, and you know what, that's okay. It's okay that you miss the joy and what was and you wish for more of it. And it's okay if today is hard or the next three months are fine and you hit a hole and feel like you just fell on your emotional face. Really, it's okay.

Some holes get filled pretty easily or quickly. Some remain gaping open for the rest of your life because nothing can fill them, but God can give comfort to handle them and to find joy in what is there so you aren't lost in what is missing. You know, that is okay too. To find joy in what is here. It doesn't devalue what it missing. It just gives acknowledgement to the joy you are gifted with now, and it really is okay to feel joy now.

For those who are feeling the weight of the empty, my prayers and heart are with you. Even as you walk through the gaping holes, may you find comfort and be gifted with joy.

Love and prayers for your comfort, joy, peace, and healing,

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Easy Doesn't Forge Intimacy. Staying Faithful in the Hard Places Does.

Dear Lord, so this past week I prayed you would take me down the road that leads me to faith so practiced that when circumstances happen, I don't even see them. I only see you. Thank you for answering me and not being afraid of my knee jerk reactions while I keep practicing. Thank you for not freaking out when I pinch my finger really hard with the snake when I tried to get it down the drain. Thank you for Chris saying to let the plumber who is fixing the broken pipe under the house also clean the pipe in the house. Thank you that when I sat in my room with tears running down my frustrated face because I'm really tired of the "new day new issue" pattern lately and I said, "But you know what, you are still God, and you are still mine, and you are still good. This is a detail. YOU are solid," I could feel you breath as you whispered, "Atta girl." And thank you that you aren't even annoyed at me because I forgot that I asked you for tihs road. Thank you for reminding me that I asked. Thank you that this is not abandonment or punishment but an answer, that this is the road to deeper intimacy, that you are all in becaus nothing brings you more joy than to be intimate with you beloved. Thank you that faith isn't forged in the green pastures but in the hard roads and trying paths and blaring battle fields when I look up and not only are you handling the event, but you are handling me in all of my glory and lack thereof. Thank you that this is the very thing you signed up for and desire...relationship in the chaos that lets me experience your faithfulness, kindness, mercy, and generosity. In this moment, my faith isn't built because the pipes are fixed. No. My faith is built because you are sitting here in the fullness of me when they are broken. Your love is breathtaking, and I am undone by you.
--Jerri L. Kelley--

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Because He has What We Really Need

Father, I lift up the person reading this right now, and I ask you to speak into their heart, spirit, and mind what they need to here for the purpose of increased intimacy with you. Some folks need hope, and I ask you to pour hope into them through scripture, music, a beautiful moment, or human hands. Some need to feel loved, and I ask you to speak their love language loud and clear so they don't miss it. Some need a solid slap on the wrist or butt because they are be rebellious, and you do not bless rebellion. Show them where they are the obstacle to relationship with you. Show them the importance of repentance so they can be forgiven and purified from all unrighteousness, not just because you demand it but because it keeps us from doing stupid things that keep hurting our families, relationships, jobs, and so on. Becoming like you makes EVERYTHING that is really important better. Thank you for being a good Father who loves us, encourages us, and corrects us. Thank you that your love is not a wimpy one that is afraid to fight for us or to tell us no. Thank you that you are fierce for us. You are such an amazing place of safety and refuge. I love you so much! Thank you for hearing my prayers that I lay before you in the name of your Son Jesus, Amen.
--Jerri L. Kelley--

Monday, July 24, 2017

Blessings and Burdens

Great day over here.

 WG finished a really nice dress at the costume shop and is starting a new project tomorrow with Ms. Robin's help and supplies.

WB got a great report at the orthodontist's.

Nearly all the name changing is done.

I chose to put down volunteering as a CASA advocate for now, which was...sigh....BUT the Lord had already been talking to me about all the "blessings" that I hold onto that have become burdens because they are from a different time and for a differ...ent reason, and then David Wahlstedt just confirmed it with his blog.

The truth is as much as I want to be a CASA volunteer I still have two kids at home, and I am going back to school again for the first time in a long time, and maybe learning how to have a relationship with my adult kids is really where my energy needs to be right now because, wow, it is not as easy as one might think, this having adults in teh house with minds and ways of their own.

And that is hard for us to get, isn't it? That the blessings we hold with clenched fists can be the very burdens keeping us from healing or growing or having peace.

It could be stuff we own. It could be things we do. It could be that thing we are obsessed with and pray for every single day that eclipses everything else God wants to do or we could become.

Yeah, sometimes the greatest blessing is being told we can let go of what is waiting us down so we can have what lets us be more or do more or have more or be better in relationships than we ever imagined.

Blessings...even the ones you put down...
Jerri L. Kelley

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The One Thing That Really Matters

So WonderGirl and I went to see a play today for one of her classes. The take away is something I have said so many times.

 You can't always control what happens in life.
You control how you react to what happens in life.

I often get asked how the kids and I came through 2010 and 2011 so well and reached the point of joy and excitement we have now.

I decided no person and no event defined us.
 Only God defined us.

They kids believed me because they saw it in me. That's it. Right there.

There was no great self-help book. We didn't spend months in counseling (less than 10 hours total, actually). We never took meds. We didn't go to classes. We didn't listen to DVDs or this teaching or that teaching.

We asked a question:
God, what do you say about us?
And we have tried to live that with undaunted faith.

--Jerri L. Kelley--

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sabbath Blessings

Blessed Sabbath to each of you.
May you find rest for your body, mind, soul, and spirit.
May you rest in Him.
May you worship Him for He is worthy.
May you not tell Him all the stuff you didn't like about your week or don't like about your life but tell Him all the beautiful things you love about Him.
May it not be a day of ritual, but a day of intimacy between lovers.
May you find uncondemning truth in Him, even when that truth is that you need to repent of something.
May you find peace in Him and couage to address the things in yourself that destroy your peace.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Because I'm Really Not Entitled to Mercy...Please Be Merciful

Yesterday morning I visited the Social Security office to change my name on my card. The woman who helped me was great. She was also left handed. I noticed this because I noticed the scars on her right arm and hand and the fingers that pointed in unusual directions. She could do some things with that arm, but for the most part, it wasn't useful, not like most of us use ours.
Last night I spent three hours mowing less than 1/4 of my yard with a push mower. I have no clue how many times I had to restart the mower because it kept bogging down and dying. At one point, it was dark, I was sore, my body ached, and the mower died...again, and I blurted out, "God, can't I please just have easy once?"
First, I thought about the "expected 2 hour wait" at the SS office that ended up being 25 minutes. Wasn't that easier?
In fact, I had finished all of the day's to do list and most of the next day's to do list, so surely there had been a lot more easier.
But then the simple truth came to me. I have two functional arms and two functional legs, and although they hurt so bad right then, those hurting appendages made it a lot easier to mow than having only one arm or a less than fully functining hand or no legs or legs in casts.
The truth is I had an amazing day yesterday, and I was whining because I was having to work to mow.
Talk about a pathetic entitlement mentality.
Even as I tell you this, I feel embarrassed at the idea I don't think I deserve to work hard or I should somehow be exempt from hard stuff. What a pathetic, unbiblical, ungodly, and totally un-Jesus mentality.
And it isn't even about the woman whose hand didn't work, and I have it better than her. No. It's about the reality that I was focusing on that hard thing and had totally lost sight of all the easy in the day. How utterly shallow of me to lose all the blessings of my day in the shadow of inconvenience.
God have mercy. Do not hold my pathetic selfishness against me, and have enough mercy not to let me hold onto that pathetic shallow entitlement mentality.
--Jerri L Kelley--

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Because Our Over-Packed Day Needs to be Packed with Him

If you are like me, today is one of those days when I stuffed so much in my calendar to get done my poor calendar popped a proverbial button! So while we are racing time like mad people let's stop the race and take some time to step out of the madness.
Pick up your phone or your Bible or wherever your scripture is.
Open it.
Close your eyes, breathe deep, and let it out.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthn you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10
Now, lay it on the altar. Lay YOU on the altar.
Father, I need your help. I have this crazy day, and some of the stuff I need to get done requires being outside several hours, and it is hot and humid, and I'm not acclimated for this. I need your physical strength and help to get that done.
I also need your help in planning strategically. These things on my list aren't negotiable. They really need to get done, and I need your help to know the order that is most efficient.
I also need your help to remember that my all-important list, isn't. I have a horrible tendency to get so focused on doing things that I forget the imnportance of my people, and, Father, my people are priceless. My relationship with them is priceless. Help me to not be so list-focused or stressed or flat out cranky and rude that I hurt those people's feelings or make them feel unimportant in any way. Make sure in our planning that we make time for them.
Thank you for being the other part of me that is working on this.
Thank you for the physical strength to do all I need to do.
Thank you for the amazing people you put in my life.
Thank you for being my strength and help.
Thank you for holding me up when I'm tired.
Before I stopped and talked with you, I was afraid.
I was afraid I wouldn't get everything done. I was afraid I wouldn't have time for my kids.
I was afraid my atitude would stink because I got all stressed out.
I was afraid I would handle this packed day like I've handled others, and that wasn't pretty.
But now, I'm really not afraid. I'm peaceful and calm, and a smile is on my face because I'm not doing this by myself, in my own wisdom or in my own strength. Thank you for being with me.
I love you. Show me how I don't love you well so I can repent and you can show me how to love you better.
In the Almighty name of Jesus I pray,

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Calling It What It Is

Yesterday I stood before a judge, took an oath, made a petition, answered questions, and it became official. In less than two minutes, my name went from a hyphenated blend of two lives to an unhyphenated statement of self.

There was no audience. No round of applause. No major celebration.

Just the kids and I walking out of the courthouse with the paperwork in hand that acknowledged a major change in my life had occurred.

And it was major. In fact, I told my friend Scott, "This is epic for me."

So why did I feel so sad when I had been looking forward to this for a long time?

I knew it didn't feel like grief, but I wasn't really sure what it did feel like. Until early this morning when I couldn't sleep so I asked God what it was and took time to write it out in my journal.

I felt sad because I knew most people wouldn't understand how epic my name change is and certainly not why. I know people would this is my way of letting go of my late husband or letting go of a marriage that didn't work. Some folks even said as much, but that isn't it. I let go of that a few years ago. Really, I'm so over that.

I knew some people would think this is my way of showing my late husband I don't need him or his name and I can move on without him and...really, how utterly shallow is it to need to show a person in the past that I am moving to the future without them? Kind of a lie, isn't it? I mean, if I'm still that hung up on what happened in the past, I'm not really moving toward a future anyway. And how much more shallow and flat out pathetic to need to show a deceased person I can live without him. Seriously. That is some seriously messed up stuff there. No, that isn't it.

I didn't change my name because of what I'm leaving behind. This isn't about running from or escaping the past. It seems to me that folks who do something drastic to run from the past usually end up running right back into it anyway. Nope. That wasn't it.

I actually changed my name for simpler reasons than that. I changed my name back to my maiden name because of what I am moving into and toward.

My maiden name, Kelley, is Gaelic. It means "warrior." Frankly, this suits me. It suits my personality. In fact, it is perfectly defining of who I am.

If you ask my kids, they will tell you, I am momma bear to the core, and no one messes with my cubs, but it isn't just my cubs. It is anyone God puts into my care. I am fiercely protective of those who cannot protect themselves.

My volunteer work the last six years has focused on rebuilding lives of domestic violence victims, seeing warriors heal from trauma and PTS, teaching personal protection to people, and loving people and walking with them through hard places. I am what Lt Col Dave Grossman refers to as a "sheepdog". It isn't just what I do. It is who I am.

In six weeks I will return to college and get my degree in criminal justice to go along with the degree I already have in sociology. My goal is to became more equipped to be a more influential and more effective sheepdog. As my kids say it, I am taking my momma bear-ness and protecting a whole other group of "kids" God has ready for me.

Changing my name is a rite of passage, and rites of passage are not there so someone can escape what they used to be. A rite of passage is stepping into a new a thing. It is taking what a person has already become and moving them to the next thing. It is forward motion driven by expectation, anticipation, and hope. It is marked by a nervous confidence of knowing you are ready for a new identity because you can handle the weight of it.

A rite of passage is no small thing.

Kelley. Warrior.

I chose to return to that name because I want the weight of it. I want the weight of being a sheepdog. I want the weight of being a warrior. I want to wield the power that goes with this identity.

And it isn't because I'm proud or my ego needs stroking. It isn't because I need a title or a uniform. It's because I look around me and see "cubs" who desperately need a momma bear, and the very core of me prays simply, "Give them to me. I'll take care of them. I want them." That is who I am. It is that simple.

Yeah, changing my name has nothing to do with who I'm not anymore. It has everything to do with who I am, and who I am...well, the name speaks for itself.

Loving being me,

Jerri Kelley

Monday, July 17, 2017

When a Bad Hair Day is Really Isn't About the Hair at All

Right now in Texas humidity is running high. It makes for nearly unbearable days walking the dog and worse days mowing the yard. It also makes for some really bad hair days, and we all know about those, right? Except for some, that derisive look in the mirror on bad hair days has nothing to do with hair. It's what is IN their head, not on it that is the real mess. I know. And I want you to know even when you can't control that out-of-control on your head, you can control what is IN your head. 

For those who sent me feedback on the last video, THANK YOU! I already had this recorded, so I'm not sure if I really fixed anything, but keep the feedback coming, and I'll keep working on this end. Thank you so much for being my assistants on this journey. You are priceless!!!

Friday, July 14, 2017

When Your Faith is Too Weak to Find God, Let His Strong Faithfulness Find You

It's Friday, and the week is fading behind us. Maybe it went like you hoped, maybe it went worse than you could imagine. If it went better, I'm excited for you. If it went worse, I won't pour salt in your pain and tell you all things work together for your good, and I won't promise God has good things planned for you because I've read the Bible and I've see what "good plans" worked together in the lives of Josheph, Daniel, Moses, and Jesus. Sometimes the good stuff doesn't feel good. It feels spirit-crushing and heart-stopping bad. What I will tell you is I've walked through some of that bad, and I hated it while I was in it, but even then, God didn't hate me. God didn't hate the honest pain. He didn't hate the burning tears. He didn't hate the confused questions. God isn't afraid of how hard you can be to deal with when you are going through hard places. His love is too beautiful to be drowned in the pit of your ugly mud-ness. And if you are trying to find your way too Him, know He is, right now, finding His way through all the ugly and the pain and the hard to find you. He hasn't left you, and believe me, you need Him now more than ever. Not because it makes sense, but because it doesn't. Because your human mind and human heart will never come through some kinds of pain without a Hand carrying you. You may still be breathing in 9 years without HIm, but you won't be alive. You won't be through the pain. Time doesn't heal. Only the hand of God heals.
And I know, it is easy to blame Him and question Him and accuse Him, but ultimately, the only way through the hard is to trust Him. YOu may be wondering how you do that in the midst of where you are. Well, I'll tell you what I did. I asked Him to help me. I asked Him to increase my faith. I asked Him to increase my trust, and I asked Him to give me things along the way to remind my forgetful humanness that He is with me. And you know what He did? He said, "Okay." No condemnation. No shame. No guilt. No, "How could you be so lame?" Just, "Okay. I've got you."
See, God knows we are mud. He knows we are frail, and He never demands us to be strong all the time. Instead, He invites us to come to Him because He knows we are weak. In our weakness, He is strong. In my weak trust, He is a strong presence. In my weak faith, He is a strong reminder. When I am to weak to find Him in my own faith, He is strong enough to find me with His faihtfulness.
I pray today, if you can't find Him in your faith, you would let Him find you in His faithfulness.
Blessings and shalom,
--Jerri L. Kelley--

My Fitness Journey: Gym Day

I am venturing into the world of vlogging. This is my second video. The first one got erased because I didn't think you would like the neck cramp that came with keeping your head tilted at a 90 degree angle to watch it. (sigh....) Between us, I'm nervous. This is new, and...well, I don't want to make a fool of myself, BUT, I'm going to put this up here for two reasons:
1. We all have those low motivation days when there are a million other things we want to do, and
2. Being afraid of looking foolish is one of the top reasons people don't do amazing things or things they have always wanted to do or just trying something different. I'm learning to embrace the possibility of looking foolish because you know what? I have never died from looking foolish, and, it just might turn out that I end up doing something amazing.
Stay on the journey!

Special thanks to my favorite WonderGirl who helped me navigate YouTube and create my own channel. What would this mommy blogger do without you?!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Baking with Jerri: Banana Bread

Okay, seriously, if you knew how ironic the words "baking with Jerri" are, you laugh so hard it would wear out your serotonin factory.

As I have said before, I am not a natural cook. I was not in the kitchen with my mom, and while my grandma let me can anything and everything with her, that was not daily meals. However, somewhere along the road, I found a love of baking. I know some folks kind of make up their recipes on the fly, but I'm not at that level. I need a recipe, and for those of you who also need a recipe, pull up a mixing bowl, and let's have some fun.

Today, I'm making banana nut bread. Why? Well, mostly because I was going to make some banana pudding for an event earlier this week, except that didn't happen, and the bananas got overly ripe, and who in their right mind is going to eat an overly ripe banana? (eewwww) So, I decided to make banana bread. First of all, it's easy. Second, I make muffins and leave some out in a tightly closed bowl for the kids to grab them when they want. Third, I freeze some of them for easy snacks. Just heat and eat.

Today I am using a recipe from one of my baking books. I looked up several recipes, and they all included ingredients I don't keep on hand, like buttermilk and wheat flour. I'm not going to buy specialty items because they tend to go bad, so I went with what I had.

Now you may be wondering about that bottle with the mix and the muffin pan. Yes, that is rum. Why? Two reasons:
1. I tasted the batter, and it tasted a bit fermented to me, so I decided to add some rum and fantasize about Bananas Foster.
2. I have two kids with headcolds. My God-loving grandma used to give us hot totties when we had colds and flu. It didn't kill the virus, but it relaxed you so you could breathe and sleep. So I figured a hot totty in muffin was perfect. Rum for relaxation and bananas for nutritional value. Good stuff. (Yes, that is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

 One of the things I love about banana bread is that it makes great gifts for neighbors and friends or for church functions. However, a lot of folks are allergic to various kinds of nuts, so I cut those out. This time, however, I filled up two pans with batter without nuts, and then I added pecans to the rest of the batch. Why pecans? Because I didn't have walnuts. (look at me going rogue and changing the recipe on the fly!).
The recipe I used:

Banana Bread
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (yep, powder and soda)
1 1/2 cup mashed bananas (3 large ripe bananas)
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick, softened)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9"x5" metal loaf pan. In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In small bowl, stir together bananas, milk, and vanilla until blended.

2. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and sugar until light and cream. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture (I considered ending with milk just to see what happens), scraping bowl occasionally.

3. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 2 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Note: I baked my muffins for 15 minutes, and I like how they came out. And, yes, of course I tried one. How else are you going to know it is good. You don't want to give away icky muffins, do you?

 The ones on the left are the nutty ones. I just chopped my pecans up with a knife on a cutting board, but you can use a chopper or small food processor. I also mashed the bananas with a pastry cutter because it was easy, but I have used a potato masher, and that works well. I don't have to chase them as much as I do when I use a fork.

The ones on the right are the healthy hot totties. Unless you have a high tolerance for alcohol, you won't remember eating them, but I'll tell you how great they were later. ;-)

Seriously, you need to come over for coffee. These are so good!

I hope you've enjoyed our bonding over baking. Remember, when it comes to something you've always wanted to do but...well, you know.... Just because you've never done it, doesn't mean you can't do it. It just means you need to try.

Until next time....

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Divorced--Some Personal (Impassioned) Thoughts

I just finished reading and sharing the post about why God hates divorce. It hit a pretty solid nerve in me for a few reasons.
I grew up in a church that believed if you were divorced, you were not eligible to do anything in the church as far as leadership goes. You couldn't be a pastor EVER or lead a Bible study or even teach children's classes. The Catholic Church acts like divorce is the unpardeonable sin, too. You can be a killer and get absolution and take commuion. You can be a serial rapist, get absolution, and take communion. But if you are divorced, sacraments are off limit to you unless the church decides it never counted. According to my Bible, blasphemy is the unpardonable sin, so I really don't get where these unrighteous, ungodly mindsets and theologies come from except someone got a high and mighty attitude and stood in judgment of a sin they weren't human enough to commit.
I know. I know. I said in the past I was going to keep my posts encouraging and helpful, so where is that part?
Well, I am in the unusual position of understanding divorce and being a widow. My husband and I were in the process of divorce when he died. So I know the devastation of someone who said, "I do," deciding, "I don't and never really did," and I know the shock of burying some and stepping into a life you never expected to live. I often speak to the widow side, but right now, it's about the divorced side, and it isn't about my husband.
When my husband moved out and asked for a divorce, I blogged through it. The blogs are still out there if you want to read them, and they are ugly real like most Christians and holier-than-thous would ever want to read, and I almost quit writing beccause really, who wants to stand naked for all to see every bruise and battered place while you hurt beyond anything you ever imagined you could? But two pastors asked me to keep writing...keep being raw...keep being real...because seminary may teach how to talk to divorced people but not how tp love and minister to them, and they wanted to know. Plus, most folks going through a divorce are in shambles enough. We don't need the hateful judgment of the church that is supposed to love us. So we don't talk. We don't even attend. And we are judged for that, too.
And here is the truth the people in the pulpits don't like to say: any of you could be divorced just like us if you had been in the situations we were in. YOU and your right living are not the only reasons your marriage is intact. It's because someone else chose to work their butt's off to keep it intact as well. Not all of us are so blessed.
And for those who are divorced, hear me loud and clear: God loves you. You are not beyond healing or restoration or the very deepest desires of your heart. A person failed. God has not. Cling to Him. He still gives happy endings and you have as much reason to get one as anyone else. :-)
Stay on he journey and keep believing!