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UNDAUNTED
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, June 22, 2017

Brave

Hey! I'm glad you are here! I'm glad you opted to brave the world today. Some days just getting out of bed takes some serious bravery. I know. I've been crazy brave before too. But you know what? Every time you are brave it makes the next time easier, not easy, but easiER.
A long time ago I read a story by Faulkner called The Bear, and my favorite part of the story was the ending. It told about this little dog, less than 10 pounds in size, that took on a bear to help his human. Of course, the dog could not really do anything against the bear exact yap annoyingly, but the yapping was enough, and that sequence of writing was about the dog's mindset during the ordeal, how he couldn't be humble because he was too short to genuflect, and he couldn't go to heaven because man had decided he had no soul, and he couldn't be fierce because people just called it noise. But, he decided in that minute it didn't matter what others said or saw in him. It was what he saw or chose to be, and as he stood before that grown, rampaging bear, he decided to be brave because, "I can be brave. Even if they just call it noise."
This morning some of you need to know you are brave, even if others just call it...
...just getting out of bed.
...just going to work.
...just taking care of the kids.
...just breathing through grief that could crush you.
You are brave.
And I am so wondrously glad you are here!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Fitness Journey--The Big PIcture of It All

Yesterday I posted on FB and then copied it to my blog about deciding to do something different one day and going for a walk, which was a killer one mile that day and is an easier 3.5 miles less than six months later. I have been thinking about blogging about my fitness journey, but honestly, it feels odd for ME to blog about fitness and weight loss. BUT, who knows? Maybe if folks see that an average person like me can do this, they will realize ANYONE can do this.

First, let me say up front, I am not a hardcore workout person. I am not a hardcore fitness person. I am not looking to be a size 4. I do not starve myself. I'm not into any of that. I've tried that. About 4 weeks of insane is my limit. So if you are looking for fast and furious results or a super muscle body, I'm not your girl. However, if you want weight loss in real life, here my story.

Long story short, I have been seriously overweight for about 20 years. In high school, I was always told I needed to lose weight because I didn't fit those evil little tables they had, so even though I was 133 pounds and a size 12 and all muscle, I felt fat. Then I got married, had babies, ate out due to unhappiness and boredom and honestly got fat.

In the last 20 years, I've tire the diets. As I said, they last about 4 weeks, and then I feel horrible. My body aches. I'm starving. And I say something akin "boo this".

So what is different this time? Last summer I built a covered deck, and in the process of carrying boards, climbing ladders, and all the hard work, my strength increased. By the time I was finished, my stamina had increased from tolerating 2 hours of hard work in the morning to 6-8 hours of work a day, and that was in July and August. Plus, the back pain I had endured for years was gone. By the time I finished the cover of the deck in October, I had a new project of renovating a house. Most of the inside work was done by someone else, but I did the outside work. I moved large landscape rocks and built fences and tore down a wooden playset and fort and did a boat load of manual labor...and loved it. Not only that, but all the cardio pulled the pounds off pretty easily, which was great!

But, I knew I wouldn't be renovating a house forever, and I didn't see myself working on a construction crew, so I contacted personal trainer Adam Napper at Lose Inches, LLC, and met with him. My desire was to have a structured work out plan in place by the time I finished my "unstructured workout.

The first thing we discussed were my goals, and I told him I had simple goals:
1. I want to be a size 12 again. Much easier to do a lot of things in life, and much easier to alter my pants, which is a big deal since my waist and hips are not fashion proportional. Plus, I like skirts and want my legs to look good.
2. I want to do 5Ks again.
3. I want to like how I look in the mirror.
4. I want a lifestyle, not a number. I know what the tables say. They say I should be around 140. When I was in college, I worked out and became incredibly tone, not athletic toned but slimmed down tone, and I was a size 4 and weighed 150 pounds. I'm not concerned about the tables. I'm concerned about being happy with how *I* think I look. He understood.
5. Whatever we do has to be sustainable for the res of my life. I refuse to do what I see so many people do where they lose weight, hit a goal, and go right back to the previous lifestyle and gain it all back. Nope. This was not about weight loss. It was my life, and whatever we did had to be sustainable for however long that life lasts.

I explained my limitations with my knee and concerns with my back, and we spent a month figuring out what worked and what didn't. I'll talk more about specifics in other posts, but I have to give huge compliments to Adam. He was GREAT at protecting my knee and back and encouraging me that beginning is a big deal, even when the beginning was as small as mine

By the time I was finished with the house renovation in January, I had my plan in place to step into the gym. At that point, I had lost around 10 pounds and a whole size in pants, and it was time to decide whether to keep going or not.

I chose to go for a walk.

It was shocking to me how hard that mile was after spending weeks working 5+ hours a day carrying heavy things, building fences, and so on, and it hurt. My knees hurt. My thighs hurt. I ached so bad, BUT I did it again because this time I decided I really wanted a particular lifestyle more than I wanted to be comfortable.

Besides walking, I was doing weights. Adam understood that I am not the kind to do eight million reps of easy weights. I want strength. I want muscle definition. I don't want to look like a boy, but I know my body, and heavy weights tone it and shrink it faster than those kazillion rep light weights. Plus, frankly, I do not have the attention span for all those reps. Nope. I wanted change, and I wanted it in a short amount of time, so during our month of planning, we figured out the top of what my body could handle, and that is what I did three times a week.

I was really getting into a rhythm when I got sick in February and spent the next 2 1/2 months fighting bronchitis and pneumonia. Needless to say, there was no toning or walking during that time because breathing took precedence. I finally got back into the gym the second week of May and have been walking Semper everyday and doing weights 3 times a week. This week I am finally once again at my pre-sick levels on weights and distance. Actually, I'm about a mile further on distance.

So in the last six months, I've worked out about 4 of it. I've only lost 25 pounds, but my jeans have shrunk three sizes. I've added pictures. I don't know if they really show the difference, but even without needing new clothes, I can tell a difference in how my body looks in the mirror and how it feels when I do things, like cross my legs or climb stairs. Obviously I still have a long way to go before I am where I want to be, but I am a lot closer than I was in January.

I'll give you more information on what I am doing and why and what works for me and what really doesn't work for me in other posts. For now, I'm tired from my workout, and I am going to go soak in a hot bath.

But before I go, let me assure you, I am not some super person with some super diet or super anything. I'm just a person who wanted a life different than I had and made some decisions to make it happen, and I'm still on the journey.



Different

About six months ago, I was bored, thinking, "If I could have any life I wanted, what would it be?" and "What do I miss doing that I don't do anymore?" And all that came togethe with the idea: I am going to go for a walk. So I did.
I walked "to the corner" and back. Now our corner is half a mile away. The first half if downhill, and the second half is obviously uphill, not K2,but a solid incline. Lands. My legs hurt so bad. WonderBoy walked with me, and bless that young man, he endured a lot of whining that day, but I did it, and the next day, he bravely endured listening to me whine again.
Today I walked 3 1/2 miles. And I have to tell you, even walking faster than I did then, the 3 1/2 miles was easier than that 1 mile. You know why?
Because one day I decided wanted something different, so I got off my bum, and went for a walk. And then I did it again the next day. And again. And again.
It didn't start out planning to do a 5K. It started as wanting something different. That's how change happens. Someone decides they want something different.
If you are looking at your life thinking maybe a change would be good, today is a great day to do something different!
Wishing you a gloriously different day!

Friday, June 16, 2017

At the Ending of a Crazy Week

It's the end of a kind of crazy week around here. I was thinking about it last night, and the truth is, it isn't really "a week". It's a symptom. Some things in life just aren't working, so there is always an undercurrent of frustration, fatigue, some anger, maybe some feelings of aloneness. And it is easy to look for things to just make those symptoms better, but eventually, there is going to be another week or another day, so this morning during my prayer time, I was specifically asking for solutions to the real problems. I don't believe praying to feel better works unless I also pray for the wisdom to change what is causing the problem. Sometimes I can't fix the problem, but I can address how I react to it or how it affects me. Right now, we are dealing with both here, and I am asking for--and listening for--answers. I'm praying for the insurance company to pay for the roof to be replaced, and I'm being someone they can be nice, too, and getting my ducks in a row. I'm praying for organization and bracing myself for getting rid of things or changing things that cause disorgnization and clutter. There are other things, too many to list really, but I'm praying and choosing to be part of the answer because God can do amazing things, but it is amazing how often those things include human hands and cooperation.
I hope you have a great day!
Jerri

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hard Day?

Hard day? Maybe some tears or screaming or just going to bed in silence? Yeah, I've had those days. Had one recently in fact. You know what is hardest about those days is that I don't usually tell anyone how hard it is because I don't want to look stupid, and I'm afraid people won't understand or they'll tell me how to handle it better or give some unwanted advice. On those days, really, I don't need that. I just would like a presence. Someone who takes the brunt of my vent and listens. Someone who sits with me while I stare at a TV with some pointless movie on. Someone who nods and says, "Yep, that sucks," and realizes it is just a day, except it is a day at the end of a string of days or weeks, and this last thing happened and...insert tears or screaming or numb silence. So, if it that kind of day, good for you for making it through and letting everyone else make it through and not making any decisions that cannot be undone. Sometimes, it is a big enough battle to just get through the day. Tomorrow when things are less intense, you can think through, have conversations, make decisions. You'll be in a much better place for those things. Tonight, be nice to yourself. Give yourself grace. Dump on someone if you need to. Get some sleep.
 
I'm really sorry if you had a bad day, but I'm really glad you made it through it.
 
Hug, hand squeeze, and presence.
 
Jerri

An Idol

An IDOL
 
is anything that causes you to
 
question God's character
 
or
 
be angry at God
 
because you don't get what you want.
 
--Jerri L. Kelley--

Not Finished Yet

I just had an awesome prayer time with my friend Marza Bush, and you know what?
The stroy isn't finished yet.
My story.
Your story.
Keep working through the pages He is writing. ...
Some parts are hard, really hard.
Sometimes it gets way over dramatic with one thing after another and we all wonder just when this crap is going to stop.
But never give up the hope of a great ending.
The story isn't over.

When You Can't Be There

I said I don't post about my kids or personal stuff on Facebook because my real goal is to encourage people and be a bright place in the world. Well, sometimes those two things kind of collide, and I want to say...

To the officer who responded to WonderGirl's motor accident, thank you for your kindness and encouragement. Thank you for telling her she did the exact right thing by calling campus police and you would handle it. Thank you for your leniencies and not issuing any tickets.

To the woman with white hair, in the white nurses uniform, driving the white car who stopped after the policeman left, made sure WonderGirl was okay, offered to let her sit in your car while she waited for me and WonderBoy to pick her up, and applauded her for her honesty instead of just driving away when no one would know, thank you. WG isn't sure you were not from heaven. I"m not either.

To Shannon at our insurance who immediately started finding out if a tow truck was necessary and if medical care was needed (neither were), I love you.

To Angela who offered to leave work and go pick up WonderGirl since she was closer than I was, I love you.

To Professor Robin who said to take the week off and sleep...a LOT, your are a beautiful gift. Thank you for loving my daughter.

To the parents out there who worry about their kids, I pray for the same happy ending for you every time, and I pray that your children are also blessed to have someone there when you can't be.

First

It is Wednesday! You know what that means? Nope. It does not mean it is humpday. It means it is the FIRST day!

This could be the frist day you take a walk around the block.

Or the first day you read that book you've been wanting to read.

Or the first day you start looking for a job you like instead of complaining about the one you hate.

Or the first day you start seeing your life as amazing instead of amazingly crappy....
 

Or the first day you tell the important people in your life, "I love you." Honest, you can say those words and the world won't end. In fact, someoen might be waiting to hear them, so you might make the world a lot better.
 

Or the first day you read your Bible or pray or go to the zoo or learn that thing you've always wanted to know or...
 

The possibilites are endless!
 

What are you going to do first?

What Next?!

I know some folks having a bad day...or a string of bad days. Been a bit intense here this week, too, and it is easy to get a "what next?" attitude. I want to share some "what next?" that we often forget--the crazy God answers.

WonderGirl and I took her almost undriveable car in to the body shop this morning. The back bumper was sticking way out on the side, which is not good on a plastic car, especially on major roads driving 70+ miles an hour. The man came out to do the est...imate. Looked at it. Got on the ground. Looked some more, and I knew the bumper would most likely have to be replaced, but I was getting nervous about structural stuff. Then he said, "Give me a minute." He went into the shop, got a screwdriver, and got on hte ground. He undid a screw, pushed the bumper back in, and put the screw back in. He bumped it with his hip, and it didn't move. The car is fixed. No claim. No money for fixing the screw. Just, "Y'all be blessed." Oh, sir, we already are. Thank you!

On the way home I was getting information about widening our driveway from the city secretary and mentioned WonderBoy may need surgery on his ingrown toe. She suggested trying pedicures first and told me her story. Same issue as WB, but surgery didn't help, so pedicure once a month does the job. That and essential oil to handle the pain and swelling so they can get the nail is a lot easier fix than surgery.

Then roofer #2 came to the house. VERY different story than roofer #1. He thinks insurance will cover the replacement with no problem, and he certainly didn't suggest lying to the insurance company. (Yeah, I know. Do you see why there is a roofer #2?)

No, not everything is fixed. Yes, there is more to be done, BUT "what next?" isn't always another blow or another exhausting thing. Sometimes "what next?" is an impossibly easy answer, a much easier option, or someone willing to walk through a hard process with you.

I really hope you have an amazing "what next?"!!!

No, He Really is Good

It's going to happen. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but it will happen. You are going to pray for something...and not get it. It happens to everyone who prays. When it does, you will most likely be tempted to get angry and tell God a lot of things, like how He doesn't love you, how He has abandoned you, how He needs to tell you what it will take for you to manipulate Him into giving you whatever it is you want. Can I offer you a thought?
God isn't a human being that He abandons His children or that He forgets to value them or that He can be manipulated by human word or action. He's God, and He is a good God, who gives good gifts, and it just might be that this house or job or relationship or pony or vacation or whatever you think you have a right to really isn't a good thing for you right now. I know that is hard to fathom in our all-about-me society, but it is true. God is a good Father, and He gives good gifts, and sometimes that good gift His telling His children no.
 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Sweet Heritage

Murrel ("Mutt") Rosson, Estelle Kelley, and Ivy Ford
You never left their house hungry,
and there was always coffee, dessert, and time to talk.
 We walked into the kitchen with the linoleum covered floors and tile counter top, and he pulled a chair from the table and sat down.

"Want something to eat? I have roast leftovers," she said as she opened the percolator lid.

"Nope. I'm not hungry."

"Well, I have chocolate cake and apple pie." She scooped coffee into the metal basket, put the metal top back on it, and closed the percolator. I looked at the pie plate covered with plastic and the metal cake cover with the red knob handle.

"I'm not hungry."


"Well, I have cookies I picked up at the store." She set the sugar bowl in front of him.

"I'll have a small piece of pie," he said with a resigned sigh.

She pulled out two saucers, one for him and one for me. I had chocolate cake, and he had the pie he wasn't hungry for with the cup of coffee he never turned down.

That is how visits to my Aunt Ivy often went. The same was true at my Aunt Mutt's house. Her table always had one or two desserts ready for the sharing. At my grandma's house, Dad didn't feel as required to eat food he didn't want or need, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there, and if it wasn't already made, she would make it for you while you waited.

My grandmother and her siblings.
A generation that knew how to get by with little
and share as if they had everything.
But that is how it was with that generation. They didn't have much, but what they had they would share, and you never left their house hungry.

It is how they valued people, how they welcomed you into their home. Anyone was welcome at their table for coffee and a bite to eat.

I loved being in their kitchens, not just to eat, but to cook with them. My Aunt Mutt taught me how to make a basket weave crust on an apple pie. My grandma patiently waited while I made my first merengue with a chicken wire whisk. I thought my arm would fall off, and she kept asking if I needed help, but I was determined I was going to finish it myself, and when I was finished, she told me the peaks were perfect. Forget the thrill of winning a million bucks. I had perfect merengue peaks. My grandma said so, and that was worth everything. I still remember the day my grandmother decided we needed to make Divinity. We both really liked that candy at Christmas, and she was going to learn to make it...in July. I don't remember how it turned out, but I remember her adventurous attitude. If you like it, enjoy it, and if you get it wrong, you can try again. I never learned to fry anything in their kitchens, but good golly, those women could bake, and they made room and let me be part of it.

That is what I saw growing up. Some folks learn that being a lady means you wear certain things or act a certain way. I learned that being a lady meant you worked hard when you needed to, took pride in what you did (even if it was as inglorious as working someone else' yard or cleaning their house), had a dessert ready in case someone drops by to talk, and gave people priority over everything else.

Times have changed, and people don't visit just to visit, so there really isn't a reason to keep desserts on the table, but deep inside me is still the knowledge that feeding people is valuing them. So, I've adapted.

Cupcakes for the Universal Positivity Society
Whenever there is an event that needs food, I take dessert. Our church has a meal with every service, and I have been given the joyous privilege of making the desserts for our group. I make cupcakes for my daughter's Universal Positivity Society cupcake day. I bake all kinds of food and give it away to friends and neighbors at Christmas, and when someone new moves into the neighborhood, I try to take them something yummy. I make desserts for the fire department and sheriff's office. I make pies, cakes, cookies, cobblers, puddings, and other ridiculously sugary things. I always make more than enough because I don't want anyone not getting something because we run out, and I always try to send any extra home with folks so they can have them on their table during the week.

Banana Pudding for our
faith group.
I smile every time I make
dessert for The Table.
I think my grandma and aunts would be proud.
Truthfully, it isn't that I'm some great cook, but I love baking. For some reason this week I've pulled the thread of WHY I love baking so much and why, when I think of doing something kind to show someone welcome or appreciation, it involves food. I've traced it back to the kitchens I sat in as a child, where desserts and coffee were the welcome, and talking took priority. Kitchens where you were welcome to eat or learn to cook, and pie crust stuck to rollers wasn't the end of the world, and Divinity was a treat for any time of year, and it was heavenly what a wire whisk could do to eggs and sugar.

My grandma's generation didn't have a lot of worldly stuff to pass down when they passed on, but these women left me something beautiful. They left me a love of baking and a belief that time in the kitchen can fill a lot more than a person's stomach, and THAT is one very sweet heritage.






Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Real

I don't know what you are facing today. It may be amazing, or amazingly heartbreaking, but whatever it is, I pray you have the courage and strength to be real with God about it.
 
If you are hurting, He can handle it.
 
If you are excited, He loves to hear it.
 
If you are so battered you feel like you can't go on, He wants you to cling to Him.
 
If you are ready to fly into the next thing, He wants to make sure you have everything ready to be successful.
 
God doesn't need you to perform for Him, but you need to be real with Him. Trust me. I've done both, and I find nothing in performance except another checklist, but in being real, I always find Him.
 
Today and every day, may you find Him.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Let My Heart Not Be Far From You

The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship for me
is based merely on human rules they have been taught."
Isaiah 29:13

Father, as I read this, it scares me. It scares me that these people thought they were following you but were so deceived, and I am wondering if I am deceived. I am wondering if my heart is far from you in ways I don't know. Jesus said there will be people who stand before you that you will tell you never knew them, and they will be confused because they did all these things in your name, and you reply, "But I never knew you. Away from me."

Father, I ask you to forgive me for worship that was not what you desire, and I ask you to show me every single way that I think I am worshipping you when really, I'm just performing well. I pray that you would show me your heart so my heart can draw near to it. I ask you to speak deep into me and uproot theology that is a lie or twisted to serve anything other than you. I ask you to forgive any way that I use my obedience to feed my ego and develop pride when I should be humbling seek hard after you.

Show me any way where my actions do not align with your heart. Show me where I am all talk and no love.

Show me where my heart is far from you.

Lead me into holiness that I may know you better and love you deeper. Show me how doing things for you has been my goal and who me how to love you greater, which should be my heart.

Father, I don't want to be someone far from you. I want to be someone in the most intimate place of your presence. I want my heart to beat with the same rhythm as yours. I want to be so deep in you that you see me every time you open your eyes and I see you every time I open mine. I don't want to be a performer. I want to be the one that you find such amazing oneness in that it brings joy to your heart.

I ask that you would bless me with your discipline and correction. Bless me with your heart, Father.

I love you. Show me how to love you better.

Amen

Monday, June 5, 2017

Why I Chose Not to Date As a Single Mom of Younger Kids

In June 2010, my husband moved out. In February 2011, he died of a massive heart attack. I was 42 at the time, and my kids were 10 and 13.  That was seven years ago.

During the last seven years I have been on two "dates". I was told they fell into "date" status because I got dressed up, and he paid. Those two men I have loved as friends since high school.

There has been nothing romantic, not because there wasn't opportunity but because I made some choices with the intention of a specific outcome.

My kids had experienced a parent who wanted another life more than he wanted a full-time life with them.
They had an up close and personal reality check that life is not stable.
They knew what it felt to be "not valuable enough".
They were sad, angry, and grieving.
They wondered if it were their fault and if they had been something else would their dad have stayed.
They knew the devastation of not being able to depend on someone to stay and keep the world steady.

By the way, these are typical emotions for kids who experience divorce.

The kids did not need someone else they couldn't depend on. They didn't need to feel like they were a bother. They didn't need more chaos.

I couldn't undo what had been done, but I could keep it from getting worse, so I opted not to date casually because I didn't want men coming in and out of their lives who only strengthened the idea that men are not dependable but walk out on you.

I chose to focus my energy on my kids. Instead of going out with someone who made my heart flutter on Fridays, I stayed in with people whose hearts needed a steady presence.

I chose to make them first, and I canceled or said no to anything that conflicted with them.

I chose to be the stable force, and by doing so, I demonstrated with actions that they are valuable.

I stayed and made it clear to them that they were not too much, too loud, too demanding, or too big of a failure to be worth staying for. They were not the problem. And on days when the weight of responsibility got to be too heavy, I made it clear to them they were not the ones making me heavy. It was all the decisions, all the things I had to figure out, all of the rest of life, but THEY...they were the gift.

And I made sure no one came into their lives who might shake that.

Yes, I was asked out on occasion, but no one passed my four non-negotiable questions, so no one became part of the landscape, not even passing through. The kids knew I talked to this man or that man, but they also knew why it never went further than talking. I explained the non-negotiables and how I would not settle, and frankly, that made them feel safer and more stable.

My kids and their hearts were non-negotiable.

The only two men my kids have met are long time friends of mine that I knew would remain friends, and they have. My kids love both of them, and they love my kids. My kids have these friends' numbers in their phone and know they can call any time.

I won't lie and tell you it has been easy being alone this whole time. It isn't. Sometimes it isn't so bad, and other times it feels crushing, but the truth is it has been worth it. My kids are in good places emotionally and mentally. We have a great relationship. They know they are valued, and I am always here for them. They know I am fierce for them, and they feel crazy loved. Even when we strongly disagree, they know I'm not going anywhere.

I know when someone chooses to leave, it is tempting and easy to want someone to fill that void. It feels good to be wanted and loved. It feels exciting for someone to want to spend time with you and listen to you and be there for you. It feels good to the soul. I know. I really know. It also feels good to a kids' soul, and as parents, our priority should be the well-being of our kids. Sometimes giving that kind of stability and healing to your kids means you put your desire for all that on the back burner until your kids are okay.

My kids are now 17 and 20, still living at home but both in college, and for the first time, I am honestly open to dating again, and the kids are ready for it too. Not just because they are getting ready to leave home, but because they have been blessed with an intentionally safe home.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Full

November 1, 2013, I was heading east down a major highway near us. As I approached an intersection, a teenage boy heading west made an unprotected turn in front of me, and despite evasive actions, my Toyota king cab Tundra slammed into the passenger side of his car totaling both vehicles. By God's kind mercy, other than being sore a few days, we were both fine.

Except, I am not.

Every time I approach that intersection and a car is heading the opposite direction in the turn lane, my stomach gets tight, and my knuckles get a bit whiter on the steering wheel. It isn't just that intersection. It is any intersection where I find myself in the same situation. Not every single time, but sometimes, and honestly, I can't tell you why the difference. Just...sometimes...ugh...and sometimes...as though nothing ever happened.

Maybe you have those kinds of things in your life. Maybe you have those things, but they aren't places. Maybe it is a situation, thing, or something more insidious. A date on the calendar.

One of those dates for me is June 2. June 2 is...was...not sure how the tense works...my wedding anniversary, and for a few years after I became single, that was a hard day, but the last two or three years, it has mostly come and gone without any kind of effect at all. This year, though, I was unsure.

The spring has been hard. Both of my kids are in college now, and I spent the spring on the couch with bronchitis and pneumonia, so the empty house was nearly unbearable with its silence, but more than the empty house, I felt the weight of what feels like an empty life.

This isn't where I expected to find myself six years after Rob died. I have had five simple goals for what "life" would look like. You know, that place when you know you are living again, and not just treading water or breathing involuntarily. Mine are simple:

1. I want my kids seeking after God. (That is about being a good mom for me.)
2. I want to make a difference in people's lives. I want people's lives to be better because I'm part of them (too big to expound upon here).
3. I want my writing to make a difference, and I hoped to be published.
4. I wanted my house filled with people because they love being here and love the atmosphere and know they are welcome and wanted.
5. I want a best friend to spend my life with.

To be horribly honest, I feel I have made no personal headway. I feel like on a personal level I am still sitting in the dust and rubble that I found myself in six years ago. I am not in the same emotional pain by any means, but I don't feel like there has been any building or change, just...making sure the kids are okay, and now that they are, the absence of the other four things screams loudly, and as the kids prepare to move out and move on, the empty is getting even emptier, and that...that kind of void will suck the air right out of you.

It isn't like I have done nothing the last six years. I learned to shoot, got my LTC, became an NRA instructor, volunteered at a women's shelter, developed classes to equip them in rebuilding life, became a pastor, became a certified emergency responder, learned to kayak, learned archery, found out I hate scuba diving but love to snorkel. I mean, it isn't like I have just hidden in my bed and done nothing, so how is it I look around at my personal life that was carpet bombed and see...nothing?

And in the midst of all this, here comes June 2 to put a date to the empty and magnify the void, and I never expected to be alone this many years later, and frankly, lonely stinks.

But there it is. Right up ahead. June 2. That intersection where everything got totaled, and I don't know if I am going to cruise through without a problem or crash and burn.

That is exactly where I was a week ago. Not sure whether Friday was something to dread or not. Not sure about this whole rebuilding thing. Infinitely tired of empty. Hopelessly aware only God can fill real empty, and painfully aware that He really hadn't and not knowing why.

I slid into Thursday morning with a $500 brake job, brand new orthodontist for WonderBoy, congestion from finally getting the acre of yard mowed the first time this year, and the awareness that a lot of people expect me to be above this painful numb that comes when your soul falls asleep.

Then my friend Marza called, and she asked I was, and in a moment of crazy, I told her the truth. "I don't know." And I poured everything out on her about the empty and the waiting and the no end in sight, and she said, "You're right. For you, nothing has changed. What you want isn't here. I see what you mean about still standing and seeing only the dust of what was. You're right. But," and she got quiet so I had to listen closely, "you haven't done nothing. You have poured yourself out into your kids. You have sacrificed the dreams for you so they could dream, and look at them. You have poured yourself into them, and they are amazing."

Yes. They are.

And no, God hasn't given me the obvious desires of my heart, but He has given me the greatest one.

I want to be an amazing mom. I have always wanted to raise my kids to fly, to be courageous, to be willing to move beyond where they are. I have always wanted to instill faith into them that is unmovable, and I wanted them to know they were made for a purpose and whatever God called them to was great things because they were God things. And when grief slammed us like an avalanche, and we were buried in pain and anger, I wanted to see the kids laugh again, be themselves again. I wanted to be the person they knew was here for them, and I wanted our home to be the place they knew they were safe, and I wanted them to know this is the place where you can be real in all its glory and gore...and still  be unwaiveringly loved. I see all those things in them. Marza is right. I haven't been doing nothing.

And that helped.

I hadn't failed to rebuild. I had just focused on rebuilding for someone else first, and there is a strange peace in that. It doesn't feel as hopeless. It's like looking at a devastated area after a tornado and realizing this block is still empty because other key blocks were rebuilt first, not because nothing will ever be here. I needed the perspective adjustment.

While my perspective was getting adjusted, my weekend was getting totally reordered.

I had planned to have lunch with a friend on Friday, and my brother was coming over on Saturday before we went to church. Then we found out one of WonderGirl's best friends was accepted to her college of choice a few states away, and this was the only weekend both of them knew they were free to see each other, so could she spend the night? So we wiggled it in so her parents and I could meet halfway for the drop off, and I would take the girls home before I headed to lunch, and we would take Best Friend home after church Saturday night. Then I asked a friend if he was busy Friday night because I thought maybe getting out of the house with someone would be good, and honestly, I figured he was busy. He is sincerely usually very busy, but just so happens, nope, he was free. Suddenly the weekend was full, and it felt a bit packed, but it also felt like a good distraction from the soul numb I've been enduring.

But nothing ever quite goes according to plans. Have you noticed that?

Best Friend's parents couldn't meet due to an unexpected situation with another child. Could I pick up Best Friend. Um...yes, but, it is a snatch and grab. No chatting.

And...Best Friend has an unexpected required meeting. Can I drop her off early? Uh...okay....if everything goes perfectly right, this should still work. But does anything go perfectly right?

No.

Except when it does.

So we were supposed to pick up Best Friend at 10. At 10 we were sitting in an unmoving traffic jam thirty minutes from her house. Now, here is why this was a big deal.
1. Two full days of friend time has already been cut to one.
2. Best friend lives an hour from us, so I have to drive back to our house, drop the girls off, and drive to lunch with my friend an hour from us...where I am supposed to be at 12. Do we see a time issue here?
3. The lunch I am supposed to go to at 12 will take me right through this traffic jam again.

Now, that wasn't all. I had to be finished with my lunch by 1 so I could go to the grocery store to get the stuff for dessert for church Saturday night and take it home so I could then go to dinner--yep, an hour away--with my other friend at 7.

As I watched my digital clock laugh at my plans, I started to think about what I could cancel. I called my lunch friend. She understood. She would be there when I got there. Okay, then we'll see from there.

Well, we finally picked up Best Friend at 10:30, and I dropped the girls off, endured the traffic again, and sat down for lunch at 12:45. We talked for 2 1/2 hours, and I got back into my truck at 3:30. I looked at the clock...and the black rain clouds...oh, yeah, did I mention we were under a flood warning?...and called my dinner friend and asked if I could just go to his house instead of going back home and never making it to dinner because of Friday rush hour traffic. Yep. He would be there in about two hours. He'd see me then.

Instead of pulling up to his house a half hour later, I pulled up two hours later. He arrived an hour after me.

The next day the timing continued to fail as we got out a bit late to take Best Friend home and then chatted with her mom, had to pick up the stuff for dessert, ran out of eggs and had to borrow them from a neighbor, and spent the day on my feet doing stuff instead of sitting around talking to my brother. By the time I got to church, I felt so tired...and so perfectly blessed...and so perfectly...full.

See, because I got to lunch late, we missed the lunch crowd and could talk as long as we wanted, and oh my lands, that was good. We talked about life and change and the hard place of in between, and I poured out my desires and the empty and the hope that has begun to feel so hopeless, and my friend who is old enough to be my mother listened and understood and told me I'm beautiful, like beautiful in a way she has never seen me be, and she is convinced I am the youngest she's ever seen me, and I'm not to worry. I can put some stuff down because she'll pray for it for awhile. Just rest.

And can I just tell you how good it feels not to have to be anything but honest and tired when you are honestly tired?

Because our lunch ran late and the rain came hard, I ended up at dinner friend's early, and instead of meeting at the mall to walk around and eat at the food court, I had an hour with my friend's son and his girlfriend, and I love them. We talked and laughed in our warped sense of humor. When my friend finally got there, the three of us were lolled out on the couch and recliners, covered with blankets, watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I'm telling you, sometimes full looks a lot like hanging out with people you love doing nothing.

Then all of us went to dinner together and ate fried cheese and French fries and dessert, which doesn't sound like much, except it is exactly what I wanted but wouldn't have been what we got at the mall.

We went back to his house and "the kids" went on a date, and we stayed home and talked. I told him about my funk and the empty and wanting a relationship, and he talked about his life changes and his questions and his understanding wanting a relationship with a best friend. It's a strange thing. The comfort of lying on someone's couch with bare feet poking out from under a blanket pulled up to your chin because he likes it a lot colder than you do, baring you heart and hidden dreams that so many dismiss because you're a Christian and faith should make you happy where you are, how your life is, because God's timing and will is best and who are you to question--only he gets it...and he thinks they are reasonable and good...and possible.

If it hadn't been for Best Friend at home, I would have camped on his couch for the night and avoided driving more in the rain because I'm welcome to do that. The couch is always available, and it is a comfortable couch, but instead, I hugged them by, slid into my truck, and promised to text when I got home, which I did at 1:30 am.

As I lay in the dark letting the day slip into slumber, I felt the smile...all the way to my heart. Crazy how a schedule gone wrong can fill up so much empty.

The next morning we took Best Friend home and arrived back to the house with dessert stuff. We had a late lunch, and instead of sitting and talking in the living room, my brother and I filled the kitchen and talked while I cooked and he taste tested. When he left a few hours later, the cookies and cobblers were finished, and he and I had caught up on life and were planning the next visit.

Then off the kids and I went to church that feels more and more like family, and we enjoyed food and people and were soul fed deep. After service, we were talking to one of the men there, and he said, "I'm glad y'all are here." I had to give him a hug. He didn't know. He has no idea. Honestly, I don't think anyone does, and that is okay.

June 2nd isn't the same for me as it is most women who have buried their husbands. The other women I know associate their anniversaries with the day they married the love of their lives. They think of the friend who is no longer here and the live they miss. I associate my anniversary with a man who walked out on his family. I associate that day with not being valuable, not being wanted, not being perfect enough, not being...wanted "here".

I really, really did not want to feel that again this year, and I didn't.

Instead of feeling unbearably empty, I feel wondrously full.

No. I didn't have one of those love at first sight experiences, and I didn't get offered my dream job, and I didn't sign a book contract.

BUT.

My house was a place of love where people know they are welcome.
My kitchen is a mess because I got to bake, which I love.
I was able to attend church with a good sermon and great people, but even more than that, my kids talked all the way home about the truth they can build their lives on.
Maybe I am making lives better, not because of what I do or write, but simply because of who I am in them.
There is something amazingly beautiful about sharing your dreams with someone who has known you nearly 20 years and that person saying, "Yeah, I see that in you. I believe in that dream for you, too."
There is power beyond explanation in the simple words, "I'm glad you are here."

And I just keep thinking about how wondrously beautiful the last two days have been and how much I have utterly enjoyed it all. Now, I am fully aware the emotional roller coaster could dip again because there is still a lot of empty, but right now, at this moment, even in the empty, I feel incredibly, gloriously full.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Undaunted Reality at Its Undaunted Beautifullest

Yesterday my friend Cindy Cain wrote a post of great courage. I want to share it with you because I believe it expresses what a lot of women who are single again by circumstance and not by desire feel at different times. What she wrote is something I could have written on untold number of days in the last nearly seven years, especially in the last few months. I want you to know I don't talk to Cindy on a regular basis, but this is not a woman who has crawled into a hole and hidden or stayed in bed or just packed life away into a cedar chest or a closet in some back room. This is a woman who has done beautiful things and lives beautifully, gives beautifully, and loves deeply. Sometimes loving deeply makes the days really hard. That isn't a failure. It's an empty place.

I encourage all of you to click over to Cindy's and read her post. If you really take it in, it'll make you a better person, a more compassionate person, and people who have hard days need compassionate people who get it.

Blessings...
Jerri


 

This year has been tough

Well, This Day

 


 

Today would have been our 36th wedding anniversary

But God saw differently

And I'm sad (keep reading)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

I posted the following on Semper Tails (both the blog and Facebook page), and I thought I would share it here as well in case someone might wander over and need it.

Today is Mother's Day according to the secular calendar. MyJerri isn't really into Mother's Day because when a mother is missing or a child is missing, it can be a hard day. So I thought I would offer some thoughts on how to get through today.
 
Be kind to yourself. Really.
 
Be brave. Being brave doesn't always mean doing the normal despite the pain. Sometimes being brave is choosing not to do the normal even when people don't understand. Did I mention be kind to yourself?
 
Do something that feels like joy. Maybe it is going to your favorite place or eating your favorite junk food while you watch you favorite movie or hanging with some folks you love.
 
If you need to, go to a grave and stand there. Be heartbroken. Go through a box of kleenes. Write a letter. Lift a toast and leave a glass untouched. Grieve what is gone or what never came. Grief is its own kind of courage.
 
Don't celebrate if you don't want to. If your church or place of worship makes a big deal of Mother's Day and that feels crushing to you, take a week off. God gets it even if no one else does. It isn't walking out on Him. It is trusting Him to love you where you are, literally and figuratively.
 
Celebrate the time you had.
 
Celebrate the mom you had or the children you had. Even if they aren't connected by blood, they are just as real and just as beautiful. They are gift and are worth celebrating.
 
Most of all, make it through today. If that is all you can do, then do you all you can and feel proud of yourself.
Praying you find joy and love today...and above all else, may you know you are loved by God.
Shalom and puppy love,
Semper

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Moving UP and Taking Folks with You


It started innocently enough. Things like that sometimes do. It started with a note left behind. Then another. Then a response. Then flowers. Smiley faces. Like I said. Innocently enough.

A simple note.

Have a good day!

Written on a white board at school and left there for others to find...to own...to reply to...to smile because of.

And someone did. Then someone else.

Then came the really bad day that turned into a bad week, and then came the announcement:

I am going to school and hand out compliments!

And off she marched with her "Free Compliments" sign in hand to stand by the double doors of the main building on a college campus on a Friday. A FRIDAY. When most folks are grumpy...when most folks need a compliment...when most folks need someone standing there smiling at them when they walk in the door...when they walk by...when it's the kind of week that makes you want to quit, but you keep walking and a smiling face and a free compliment makes walking easier.

Next thing I knew she was handing out candy and handing out flowers and handing out smiles...handing out a better place to be...by offering a hand UP from the hard the world can be.

Then other students noticed and started walking in and standing with and handing out, and the better got bigger.

Then some professors noticed and wanted to be part of the bigger and better, and some officers were chosen, a constitution was written, and paperwork turned it. This little white board happiness had become a movement...a society...a movement to impact society.

The Universal Positivity Society (UP Society--because the point is to help lift people up after all) becomes a recognized student society by Collin College next fall, and at the helm is a young woman who simply wanted to help someone smile.

Today we smiled and laughed as we filled eggs with candy and positive quotes and bad jokes. We filled bags with the happy packages, and when we ran out of eggs, we stuck suckers with the Smarties and wrapped them in a happy thought.

And in all of it, this is my happy thought:

A young woman who knew what it was like to have a bad day wanted to make someone's day better,
 so she wrote a cheerful sentence on a whiteboard in a library on a college campus.

She didn't set out to change the school.
She just wanted to make one person's day better because she knew the weight of when days were bad.

Now she is changing the atmosphere of the college, and who knows where the UP side is spilling into once the folks carrying the impact walk out the doors.

All because one young lady wrote a note on a white board...and write another one...and someone read the words...and things got better...

To find out more about the Universal Positivity Society or to get some happy on your Facebook feed regularly and to get ideas on how to make it all better, check out The Universal Positivity Society. You might be happy you did.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Only Perfect Thing

This morning in church, the question was posed:
What one thing would make your life perfect?

The answers included more time, security, money, patience, faith.

I started not to say anything but heard myself blurt out:
God. Only God would make my life perfect.

There was the awkward look and the quip that I must be more spiritual than the others, and I wanted to reply:
No. I've just been crushed enough to know the truth.

The truth is "the perfect life" is a lie.

The Deceiver says the perfect life is one that is easy, comfortable, without stress. It is safe, controlled. And with that comes the mirage, or Big Lie Part 2: if you have the right stuff, you can make your life the perfect life.
If you have security, you won't have to worry about crazy happenings again.
If you have money, you won't have to worry about bills or finances.
If you have enough patience, you won't feel frustrated with situations or people.
If you have enough time, you will get everything done.
If you have enough faith, you can release the things into your life that you need so the struggles really aren't struggles at all.

But here is the truth:
There is no earthly thing that gives us control over circumstances or outcomes. Nothing.

None of those things keep our kids' hearts from being broken.
None of those things prevent crushing medical diagnoses.
None of those things promise peace in relationships.
None of those things guarantee we won't have struggles.

See, according to Jesus, the perfect life isn't a life without struggles. The perfect life is how we live within the struggle...Who we live within the struggle.

We have no control over what happens in our lives, but we control how we walk through what comes.
We have no way to prevent pain or suffering, but we can choose how we walk through the pain and suffering.
We cannot protect our children or grandchildren from struggles, but we can show them how to hold onto and trust God through those struggles.

The perfect life isn't about avoiding the hard road or the painful places. The perfect life just knows Who carries us as we walk the hard road and face the painful places, and the only thing that will ever make a perfect life is God.


copyright Jerri Kelley @ 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Because Lonely Happens...and It is Always Hard

Tonight I am watching Fireproof again. Encouraging myself in the Lord. Knowing prayers get answered, and miracles happen. Sometimes waiting is hard, but God is faithful.

It's kind of what I do when I am sick and coughing so much it hurts, and it is after 8:00 pm, and the kids are in their rooms, and...it's quiet.

I'm not depressed. I'm not even sad. But sometimes evenings drag on, and they get lonely.

I'm not the only one who knows this.

In the last few weeks, three people I know have lost spouses, and one mom has lost her son. That is a lonely most of us can never fathom, and we don't to.

But it isn't just folks who have lost someone.

Today I read on my friend Nicole's blog, and she is experiencing her own kind of lonely. She is with the person she loves, but she is trying to find a belonging place with a community of believers, and that is its own very real kind of lonely.

 And tonight I'm praying...for all those who are lonely.

Father God, thank you for reminding me how long evenings can, for reminding me how big a couch can be when I sit on it by myself, for reminding me how quiet the house can get. I sometimes forget, and it is good to be reminded.

Tonight I lift up to you so many people who are facing long evening, long nights, and long days, people who are facing hard weeks and months, who are feeling the most horrifyingly excruciating numb known to man, and I ask you to be a presence for them.

I ask you to speak into the quiet. I ask you to speak into the lonely, in all its silence and screaming whispers. I ask you to step into the empty that can be filled with so many regrets and questions and...

God, this is not poetic lonely. This is heart-wrenching, breath-stopping lonely that can crush a person. This is lonely that only you can speak to, and, Lord, I ask you to speak to it.

I also ask you to set the lonely in families as you promise in your Word. I ask you to bring hope, to breathe into crushed spirits whose dreams are mangled and dead.

I ask you to hold onto these people when they can't hold onto you. Stand firm when they are screaming and kicking and yelling and hurting so badly that there are no words...just tears upon tears upon tears and screams of agony.

Father, I ask you to set the spiritually lonely into spiritual families where they can worship you and grow and be encouraged by you.

And, Lord, I pray that you would speak to your body and tell them how to be the family the lonely ones need. Tell them the power of a phone call, an invitation to a movie, coffee, helping with thank you notes, not trying to fix things but just being a presence.

Father, I ask you to speak peace and comfort and strength and hope to those who are hurting, for those who are looking for a place to belong, those who are stunned from the loss of where they belonged, and those who have given up belonging. Father, don't give up on them. Be fierce for them. Fight for them. Stand right beside them...even when they don't see you...or don't think you see them. You are an amazing, loving, faithful God. I pray that you would be that for these beloved hearts.

Thank you for being a God who  sees and seeks the lonely.

I love you, Lord.

Amen

Monday, February 13, 2017

Because We All Need It--Hope

This morning I jumped online to check a few things, and I thought of people I know who are facing horrible losses that have either come or are coming...as well as those who are waiting for blessings and miracles, and they all have one thing in common:

Every single one of them needs hope to sustain them.

For each of you needing hope today....

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
    I wait for God my Savior;
    my God will hear me.
Micah 7:7
 
5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
6 I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Psalm 130
 
May the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace
as you trust in him,
so that
you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 13:15

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Secret Life with ADD/ADHD--The Utter Fun of Life as a Mental Muscle Car

Okay, so it really isn't secret. In fact, if you talk to anyone who really knows me (like the WonderPeeps), they will tell you I have the attention span of a dead guppy. Well, sometimes it is a living guppy, but you get the point. The thing is, we all know this, and instead of talking about it like it is some dark cloud, the kids know I love being ADD/ADHD. What do they think? They think it is part of the driving energy that makes me who I am and gives us an adventurous life. In other words, they think it is pretty crazy groovy, too.

Now, I think I need to clarify something. I was taught there is a difference between true ADD and what folks usually call ADD. Typically, if a person lacks concentration, lets the mind wander, doesn't get the mundane stuff done, flunks at the everyday routine of life, they are considered ADD. Not so. True ADD folks cannot focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. They really are all over the map, and as I understand it, there are some medications that help those folks. In my time as a teacher, I had several students on ADD meds. I saw an actual difference in ONE of them. That tells me something else was going on. That something else is that those kids were like me. They could focus on what excited them. If they found something interesting, they could spend hours on it. That is not ADD. That is called being bored with everything else. Meds don't help that, and in fact, they tend to squelch the beautiful creative side of those kids. What DOES help is letting those energy rich kids with genius level problem solving abilities and imaginations that take them to impossible places that suddenly are not impossible if they just keep turning it over in their heads...be themselves. And quit telling them they are broken because they don't fit into the norm. They are not broken. They just have a different kind of normal.

Today I had a conversation with a dear friend whose son has indicators that he may be ADD, and it occurred to me that people use these labels like they are indicator light on a vehicle saying something is wrong and needs to be fixed, and I hate that. ADD/ADHD is not broken. It is high level energy that the world needs because good golly can ADD/ADHD blessed folks get stuff done, especially when we are passionate about it.

On the way home from lunch, I found myself writing a letter to this young man--whom I know, by the way, and I know is an exceptional young man, and I started to write it to him, but then I thought that might be a little personal to him. You know, none of us like folks getting too close to our face. Plus, there are a lot of people out there who struggle with a gloriously huge amount of mental and physical energy that may need to know how to drive the muscle car mind/body they have been given, and that is what it really comes down to, friends.

We have been given a muscle car mind and body, and folks want us to drive it like it is a minivan. Very often, we try to accommodate, and then we end up depressed and numb, feeling listless and kind of dead. That is because minivans are wonderful vehicles and serve a great perhaps, but being a minivan isn't OUR purpose. We are made to be muscle cars. Unfortunately, other folks on the road of life don't really get muscle cars. We drive fast, look reckless, roar with life. We look intimidating and unpredictable. People think we may just be dangerous because we don't follow the routine and pattern and we are judged as rebellious and wild. But the truth is a muscle car is not reckless...or dangerous...or unpredictable...or wild. It all depends on how you drive it, and muscle cars were not meant to be driven like the family station wagon. They were meant to roar with power. So were you.

Let me explain some things I have learned about being a muscle car.

A lot of folks who have muscle car mindsets are labelled a lot of misguided things. I won't even go into that because we could be here all week. Instead of focusing on the lies, let's focus on the realities that people who have not embraced their ADD/ADHD may not know.

First, folks with ADD/ADHD seem to be diagnosed as depressed a lot, or in my case, I was never diagnosed, but I felt this general malaise most of my life. Two things about that:
1. If you are constantly told all the things you are, all the ways you fail, all the ways you "should be", all the "not enough", yes, THAT is stinking depressing. Who wouldn't be depressed when all they are told is how much of a failure they are, especially when they are constantly fighting inside themselves to be this person others want them to be. Goodness. We all want to be accepted, so when you feel no matter what you do you will never have it together enough to  be this acceptable person, yeah, that is seriously depressing. We'll talk about this before I'm finished.
2. I went through a lot of my school life feeling "depressed". The rare times I didn't feel depressed were playing basketball, participating in One Act Plays, being outside fishing, hunting (I know, every PETA member just dropped me), or other physical activities. A few years ago I finally had an epiphany. I wasn't emotionally depressed. I was mentally depressed. It is also called "BOREDOM". Folks who are ADD/ADHD have immense mental energy they have to burn. If they don't, they go into a state of mental boredom that feels like depression. Can't get moving. See no real point in getting moving. Can't see past the gloom. ADD/ADHD folks, from my experience, tend to work on a genius scale intellectually, need to be building neuropaths all the time, and need to be creative. If the mental energy isn't burned, it goes stagnant, and boredom becomes a black hole. Also, too much sitting and not enough motion will do the same thing for those of us who have the hyperactivity ingredient tossed into our personal recipe.

So, what do you do with that?

On the "unacceptable" side, if I could tell you anything, I would tell you that you are not broken. The educational system that labelled you is broken. The parent who doesn't understand how you work and is trying to make you function a certain way has a broken perspective, but YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. I spent years and years trying to fit in a box that made others feel good about me, and it successfully made me feel exhausted and feel like a failure. Then, because God is very good and kind...and He made me and thinks He knows what He is doing...He made it clear that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. If that is true, then my ADD/ADHD has to be "fearful", as in amazing and glorious. It has to be wonderful. So instead of trying to eradicate it and make myself work like someone else, I embraced it and started learning to work like me. How did I do that?

Well, I did a lot of praying and spending time with the Lord so the Spirit could enlighten me because, honestly, the information I had read on ADD/ADHD was always about what a hassle it was, that it was a curse, that it needed to be "fixed". I wanted to know who to be wonderful.

The other thing I did was keep my basic functional rules:
1. I am a muscle car, but I have to respect all vehicles on the road.
2. I am a muscle car and like speed, but I have other riders like my kids and my pets. I am responsible for them, which means even if I would rather sleep in or watch a movie, I still need to get up and feed my pets or make dinner for the kids or sit through a meeting that is important to them.
3. When I give my word, I keep it even something more interesting comes up.
4. Being someone dependable is essential to me, so I show up on time. I communicate my plans ahead of time, and if they change, I communicate that as soon as possible. For instance, if I am meeting a friend for dinner, I tell them when to expect me. If I get stuck in traffic, I call and tell them I am delayed. I don't just say, "I'll pick you up for dinner," and show up whenever I'm done with other stuff that caught my attention during the day or who up late without warning. Both of those have happened to me, and I found them totally disrespectful.

You may be a muscle car, but you are still to show respect to others. To do otherwise, is not about being a muscle car. It is about being self-centered and irresponsible. You make the decision to respect others, and if it is hard for you to remember things, set alarms on your phone, make a list of what to get finished, whatever it takes for you to remember. That is demonstrating value to others, just as you want them to value you. It's called common courtesy, and it demonstrates personal respect.

Now, I think the rest of this is easier if I tell you what works for me and hopefully that gives you some idea of what might work for you. Obviously, I am available to talk, answer questions, etc. on personal situations, but for this, I think giving you some ideas might be the right thing.

I never took meds for my ADD/ADHD. It was suggested to my mother who told the teachers that it was their job to keep me engaged not her job to keep me silent through medication. This was, in my opinion, one of the best gifts my mom gave me.

I have been called a lot of things in my life. I've been called controlling, obnoxious, intimidating, too loud, too intense, too a-lot-of-things. I have tempered some of that, but I have also accepted a lot of that as well.

Yes, I am intense. I need mental stimulation. I need to be learning all the time. I need things that make me think, that make me work through issues and problems. I am a great problem solver, and I like problem solving because it engages a huge amount of my brain at one time. Now, implementation is hard. I get bored. This week I was thinking about the garden I wanted to plant, and I finally embraced the reality that I love designing the garden and building it, but I don't want to maintain it. I don't want to water it everyday. I don't really care once the creative part is over. So I'm not doing a garden. I'm going to see what other activities I can find that sustain mental activity.

I am not intimidating unless someone is insecure. It really is that simple. Confidence, wonder, and excitement are not intimidating. A person's insecurities may perceive those characteristics that way, but in a person who is comfortable in their own skin (i.e., totally digs being a muscle car), they are just normal aspects of personality.

Too loud? Sometimes. Especially when I am really excited about things, but, that also works well when I am in an emergency situation and having to get things done and give directions.

Am I obnoxious? Truthfully, I can be. Now part of that is in the eyes of the beholder, but part of that is also a result of trying to find comfort in one's own skin. Folks who are trying to figure themselves out try on different "personality clothes", and we want to be acceptable, so we tend to overdue on what we are good at and possibly try to make folks more like us. I have learned folks still find my energy and enthusiasm obnoxious (see the intimidating paragraph), but I don't need to prove myself, so that part has toned down.

A key part of embracing myself was being able to have a vision of myself. What was I really working with? The whole story is amazing, but for (the illusion of) brevity's sake, I'll just say that God made it clear I am a muscle car. He made me this way. I don't idle well. I go full bore and stop. That is pretty much it. Anything in the middle is...boring. So what I did was create a vision of myself in my head. I happen to be a '65 Mustang convertible, kind of a bronze-orange metallic color. I am fierce, and in my mind, if I am at a stop light, and the car beside me revs his/her motor to ask "Wanna race?", I smile, get a comfortable grip on the steering wheel, and when the light turns, I smoke them. Because really, they clearly have no idea who they just challenged. A bit self-centered? Not if you live a life of passion and excellence to back it up.

And that is what makes us who we are. I am driven by excellence. I am driven by hard things.

Not only do I need to be learning all the time, I need physical exertion. I love my trainer, Adam Napper, because when he asked me my goals for weight lifting, we talked, and he said, "So my job is to make sure you don't hurt yourself." I cannot do eighteen million low resistance reps so I can tone. Nope. So Adam worked with me to develop a routine with the heavy weights that cause me to make the ugly faces on the last two or three reps. I NEED the resistance. I need to use my muscles that way. When I get really angry, I want to throw something. Not at anyone. Not anything in particular. I need the physical expenditure that comes with feeling the resistance of the motion, the weight of the object, and the follow through. Now, I don't throw things because of that respect for others issue I mentioned above, but if I can exert heavy physical energy, I can think and process better emotionally.

I'm not a runner. I never have been. Not my thing, but I love firearms and archery. With archery, I love the hard pull of the string, the mental focus of the shot, and the processing to correct any imperfections. Firearms is very similar. Firearms for me is mental, but I also like the ones that have a lot of recoil. I think I was made for long distance marksmanship in a lot of ways. I pursued that a few years ago and then stopped because I felt awkward. I'm in my late 40s starting a hobby that I have no real use for except I think it is cool. Let me tell you something about those "it's cool" hobbies. Sometimes they intrigue us because they feed our spirits. They don't have to serve a greater purpose than that. A hobby that simply burns the mental and physical energy that allows us to relax and feel "alive" (meaning not bored, depressed, or dead) is a good thing. Ironically, a lot of us don't have a problem spending large amounts of money to see a counselor or take meds to alleviate "depression/boredom" so this mental and emotionally misery gets pushed down and can be ignored (which, by the way, also kills a lot of our creative drive and ability), BUT we feel awkward doing the healthy thing of finding a hobby that actually helps that amazing creative part of us flourish. We seem to find it acceptable to find ways to stop being ourselves instead of letting ourselves be who we are...who we were created to be.

Now, I took some flak from folks who don't understand a woman who is a good shot, enjoys firearms, thinks independently, and lives intensely. They don't get me. I don't look like their preconceived ideas of a woman. They have the domesticated idea of a woman from social England. I honestly tried to be that person for a long, long time in order to make others comfortable. I will not do that again.

Although some folks don't get who I am, a lot do. In fact, a lot of folks are incredibly encouraging and supportive of this "version" of me. I had to step out of some social groups and out of some relationships that I called "comfortable" but really weren't because I never felt comfortable, never felt like I fit.  I also had to be courageous in stepping out my box, being willing to try new things, being willing to be real with friends who were used to the "sedate" life I tried to live.

Two things about not fitting:
1. Sometimes people have preconceived ideas that we don't fit into. Just true. That's okay.
2. People who are intense, who are driven to be excellent, who are driven to push the edge, who think outside the lines, who want to see just how far they go with something and it still work or figure out how to make it work....those people really don't fit into a society that is taught to be mediocre, live down to expectations, be entitled, accept feeling no (or very little) passion or conviction, accept the way things are, and to adhere to status quo. ADD/ADHD people don't fit into our present culture. They often make others look back with the amount of work they can do and the innovative work they can do. People around them may resent them or criticize them or try to sabotage them. Let me tell you something, and I really want you to get this:
JUST BECAUSE SOCIETY DOESN'T LIKE YOU DOESN'T MAKE YOU WRONG.

Just because other people don't understand you, does not make you wrong.

Just because they don't understand you, just because they don't think like you, just because they don't obsess over the thing you do, just because they don't like the same thing you do, doesn't make you wrong.

I have friends who don't understand me, they don't think like me, they don't relax firing a gun over and over and over trying to get a perfect group, they don't read books on trauma/loss/terrorist psychology, they don't kayak or build fences to relax. They have no desire to drive a big crew cab, 4x4 truck, and they would never want to be a red head, but they love me fiercely, and if anyone bad mouths me to them, that person better be ready for what will be unleashed upon them. People don't have to get you to accept you. They don't have to be like you to love you.

But I give you my word:
You will never really feel accepted
until you accept yourself.
You will never really feel loved by someone else
until you love yourself.

And these friends of mine, they think I'm amazing, but more than that, I think I am amazing. I've quit trying to figure out how to be less different and embraced the truth that I was created with this intensity because I am meant to make a difference. I don't try to live the quiet life anymore. Instead, I pray for where and how to live big. There are a lot of needs in the world. Big needs. Since I am ADD/ADHD, I have a big need for new challenges and new stimuli, a big determination, a big ability to problem solve, a big imagination for answers, and a big reserve of energy to get something done.

So do you.

The hard part is finding what keeps your fire lit. Give yourself the freedom to find out. Do some research. Find things you think are interesting and try them out. Give yourself freedom to think differently and do things differently. Respect others. Best way to do that is know and embrace yourself so you aren't fighting yourself all the time. In other words, respect yourself. Stay busy.

Oh, yeah, I have often been called a workaholic. I'm not. I just have a ton of energy I need to burn, so I spend more time in motion of various kinds than other people do. I sometimes envy folks who relax watching TV or being still. I have learned to find certain stillness relaxing because I focus on God. Just being still...that is actually incredibly agitating to me.

Other thing to tell you, my "quiet time" with the Lord is best outside, either walking, riding my tractor to mow the yard, kayaking or bobbing on the water when the sun comes up, things like that. There is just something in my body that "stills" with motion.

I stopped trying to make other people's rules of relaxation, concentration, etc., fit me, and I found what works for me. It doesn't look very "feminine", but God doesn't seemed freaked out by it, so I'm good.

This is far more rambling than I meant for it to be (ADD obviously did not study geometry and the shortest distance between points), but I hope it helps you or someone you know who is trying to get a handle on this out of control energy level.

Oh, yeah, I don't try to control my energy level. I direct it. Big difference, and I think you will find that directing the energy creates a huge amount of peace that trying to control it never will.

Anyway, as I said at the beginning, I am glad to answer questions, offer suggestions, talk through, and generally be of help. You should be able to find my email on this site. If not, comment, let me know it is private, and give me contact information. I will get back to you.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. May you embrace that, enjoy who you are, and be in awe of the wonderful creation that is you, and in that, may you find...

Shalom.