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Weather, So Good, Truth and Bubbles

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You see I told you I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the themes of the day – sometimes I wonder why I even try.  But then I think, well trying is better than not trying.  Plus who knows maybe one day I will surprise myself and actually stay with the program.   Today’s post (post #1 hopefully) will be full of the 4 day’s I missed, so it will be a little eclectic in nature.

The weather here in North Carolina has been a little bit “frightful”.  It started snowing on Tuesday evening and we got about 7 inches before it was said and done.  Now that’s a lot for North Carolina.  So my little man has been out of school since Wednesday and to top it off has a teacher workday on Monday.  Ive enjoyed some time with him but I think we are both ready for him to go back to school.  I must admit I laughed at the school system’s announcement about there being no school the first day it said “Due to the threat of winter weather, school will be closed for students and staff on Wednesday.”  I laughed because of the wording.  Yet I also laughed because I remember the days in Canada when school never closed unless it was -40 and then sometimes it was open for those of us that could bundle up and walk.  Before you get upset, I completely understand that we close schools in NC when the weather gets bad – I know we don’t have all the equipment to clear roads, people aren’t used to driving on them, more children ride school buses, and children don’t have the type of clothes we did to keep us safe in the deep cold.  Nothing we can do about weather, except deal with it as it comes.

Sometimes, the weather that keeps us inside, prompts us to do the things we often tend to put off for another time, another day.  I tackled ,using the steam cleaner, cleaning the sofa and chair in the livingroom.  They were long overdue for such a cleaning.  Although, they didn’t come out looking brand new (how could they after 10+ years of use) they certainly do look a whole lot better.   I also managed to get all the laundry done and take a nap or two.  All of these felt SO GOOD!  Things feeling so good, is like taking a deep breath that refreshes and calms your very being. So Good!

When I hear the word TRUTH, I immediately think of the scripture reading from the Gospel of John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  This has been a significant verse for me as I’ve gone through years of counseling.   Coming to terms with the truth of what happened as a child into my young adulthood, has indeed begun to set me free.  I’m far from being completely free but each step I take I become freer and freer from the pain that was inflicted upon me.  I believe that everyone who speaks their truth will begin to see the bondage that holds them, slip away and they to will be set free.  I further believe that Jesus longs for each of us to be set free from whatever holds us hostage – be it our own sin, abuse, addiction, fear, anger and the list could go on.  I encourage folks to step out of their comfort zone’s and allow your truth to begin to set you free.  What a glorious day it will be when we are all set free.

I love lots of things but there is one thing that allows me to be a child and that’s blowing bubbles.  What fun they are.  I love to watch the shapes they take and wonder why some fly so far and so high and yet others pop in just seconds.   I love bubbles so much that on our 16th Wedding Anniversary, we spent at least an hour blowing bubbles off the porch.  We laughed as we tried to see who could blow the biggest bubble or who could make theirs go the furtherest.  Blowing bubbles is also a great way to teach children and adults how to breath, as a form of stress release.   As you breath out slowly the bubble begins to form in a more sustainable way (usually), reminding us that that we breath in through our nose and our slowly through our mouth our bodies and our souls are also sustained in fresh and new ways.  Our anxiety levels come down and hopefully we can go back to doing what we’ve been called to do.

There you have it the most eclectic post ever –  Weather, So Good, Truth and Bubbles.

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Cars, Cars, Cars

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There is no doubt about it you look around the United States, at least, and you see cars everywhere. We live in a privileged nation where families often own more than one car and cars for the most part are far from being inexpensive. There’s also no doubt that cars can cause our nation great pollution problem, especially in large cities – Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and the list could go on. Are we treating our environment with care as we are called to do in scripture – likely not. Yet drive on we do. I’ll say I’m as guilty as the next person – with hardly a second thought I jump in the car and head off to run an errand and then run out to do another etc.

I have two favorite memories of cars. One is not long after we bought our faithful Kia Optima (our first second car in all of our dating and married life – about 12 years), I was at the dealership and saw a Kia Soul. I was greatly humored. Thinking every Pastor ought to have a Soul. I’m not sure anyone thought it was as funny as I did. But I also loved the car. Coming up from the Atlanta area for a call meeting with a church we rented a car and it happened to a Kia Soul – to say I was thrilled was not adequate – I was ecstatic. Joe feel in love the car/small SUV also. So guess what we bought when we needed a replacement for our very faithful Hyundai Sante Fe – yup a Kia Soul. I was so excited my facebook status was “this pastor has a soul”, again I don’t think many thought it as humorous as me. That was ok, I can humor myself and be fine with it. We both love our soul to this day!

My second memory of cars was when I was writing a Bible Study Book on the Biblical Book of Ruth (let’s not talk about that, it was hard to do). Littleman was actually little then and totally into the Car’s movie and into playing with cars – like many kids are at his age, at the time. It seemed like whenever, I would sit down to do research or write for this book for the Women’s Fellowship in the Moravian Church in America, he would want me to play cars with him. To which I would have loved to have been doing but I would have to say ” sorry Littleman, Mommy’s got to work on her book”. I felt so bad and yet I knew a deadline was looming. I hope he does not remember the amount of times I turned him down to play cars! I did end my preface to the booklet saying, “Yes, Littleman Mommy can now play cars.” Play cars we did.

With all this in mind we are reminded that cars can be used for both good and bad. As we drive cars we need to be mindful of the stewardship of the earth – no I’m not saying don’t drive them, just be mindful. Actually, be thankful we live in a nation where we can for the most part freely drive them. Also, we can smile and think of the amount of children (both boys and girls) who have enjoyed pushing cars around with their little hands making “vroom vroom sounds”. The joy of children playing – a gift of God.

Favorite Places

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Favorite places for me are places that I have enjoyed the gifts that God has blessed my life with and/or places that I am reminded of the artistry of the creation of God. I’ve got plenty of favorite places that meet those criteria, however, as to not bore you I’ve limited my list to three. I had wanted to include pictures but there was one I couldn’t find pictures taken by me, so I decided to omit them all together. If I go back and find some from all of them, I’ll edit the entry and include them. So now onto my three favorite places (in no particular order):

1. Niagara Falls: this fits both of my criteria for favorite places. The times I have spent here I’ve spent with the love of my life. They also remind me of the beauty and majesty of the creation of my God. These 3 falls are beyond breath-taking for me. I love water falls, the look of them and the sound of them, but these falls are simply spectacular. One time we were up for my Aunts funeral and once we reached the Ontario and New York border, where the falls are, the blizzard was so bad we couldn’t travel on safely. We got a falls room view for a super fantastic price for two nights that we just couldn’t pass it up. The beauty was even evident at night as the snow fell and the lights behind the falls changed. I could hardly sleep, I was so awestruck. Thee next day as cold as it was we ventured out to the observation decks and again marveled at their massiveness. Now let me tell you – the Canadian side is the best side to see the full beauty of thee falls (and that’s not because I’m Canadian – my USA husband agrees). One of my favorite places.

2. The Atlanta Zoo: the place I first introduced my littleman to many of the animals of the world. I think his favorite were the elephants because one of them was named Kelly, he thought that was so funny that one was named after me. We even saw them paint a couple of times. But really he loved all the animals. We never tired of the zoo and quickly become members, partly because we loved it and partly because it was affordable entertainment in a city where things were so expensive. We also took almost anyone we knew with us – friend’s from littleman’s preschool, mom and dad, Aunt E, Uncle B and our Nephew, Lauren, Katie and other visitors. One of my all time favorite pictures is of littleman sitting up against the glass in the panda exhibit and a panda sitting with his back meeting littleman’s back, with just the glass separating them. God has created some amazing animals and Zoo Atlanta has some great staff who care for them. Another favorite place.

3. Laurel Ridge (the Moravian Church Camp in North Carolina): the last of my favorite places I’ll share with you. First of all, it’s the place where I began to “officially” date my husband – the place he first held my hand. Something I hope I’ll never forget, a precious memory indeed. It’s also a place set aside to encourage others to encounter God, in whatever way God speaks to them. Through nature, through relationships, through speaking or through singing (to name a few). The Mountain View’s, the sunrises and the sunsets are beyond what words can describe – you’ve just got to see it all to believe it. Again, God’s fabulous, majestic creation. Another special thing is that I’ve spent time with so many people I love up there, from family to members off the Moravian Church at large. I’ve lead programs, worship, devotions, served communion and had sacred conversations. This also happens to be one of my husband’s and my littleman’s favorite places – littleman always tells me “he feels closet to God up there.” What can a mom say to that? Laurel Ridge means something different to most everyone but the one thing is that they are always free to be drawn closer and embraced by an amazing God. Another off my favorite places.

Just a few of my favorite places – one day I hope to share pictures – because words simply do not do justice to these places which draw me closer to my creator, my Lord and my God. What are your favorite places?

Nothing is Impossible?

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I pose that as a question because I often wonder about it. Christians tend to say “Nothing is impossible with God.” While I want to believe that I can’t help but doubt it at the same time, call me doubting Thomas, call me of “ye of little faith”, call me what ever you want. Let me explain:

I do believe that God can do anything however God gave human’s free will when God gave them the ability to choose to eat from the fruit from the tree of knowledge or not. They choose to, and I’m not about to get into a debate about whose fault that was. Therefore, God, also to some degree, I believe choose to not always intervene when one makes decisions, good or bad.

For example people have attempted to jump of massive bridges and the Niagara Falls, some have lived and some haven’t. If we truly and whole heartedly believe nothing is impossible with God why did God not save them all? What about that child who has studied and studied and yet still fails that test, he/she has done their part but where was that God that nothing is impossible with? The list could go on.

I lived in a truly dysfunctional home and for 24 years I prayed for things to stop, yet they didn’t does that mean I didn’t pray hard enough, God was to busy to hear my cry’s for help, that I deserved that pain, or that my “possible” time would come when I was 24. I sincerely doubt that. Do I have an answer to that – no. Do I wish I had an answer to that – yes. The only answer I can come up with is that I lived with some people that made really really bad choices and I was surrounded by countless others who couldn’t or didn’t want to see what was happening. Does that mean God didn’t see it – no. God did and for some reason God saw me through and I somehow saw God through it.  As the psalmist says: “But my eyes look to you, Lord, my Lord. I seek refuge in you; do not let me die.” Psalm141:8 (CEB). That’s that impossible in this story, I didn’t die when maybe I should have. Instead I’ve emerged a stronger person, still struggling some days, other days advocating for others.

It’s hard to explain why some folks thrive under difficult circumstances and others don’t. I guess what I’m saying is that there are indeed sometimes when things are impossible – impossible to hold on any longer, impossible to muster the courage one more time, impossible to fake that smile another time, some things are just impossible. Yet can God work with things that are impossible and what one day seemed far from possible, God can and God does work the unimaginable .

A couple of quotes to lift those struggling: “It’s going to be hard but hard isn’t always impossible”. Unknown. “The impossible only takes a little bit LONGER to Achieve”, And the best yet: “Stay Hopeful” Unknown. Hopeful till “One day you will say “I did it!” (Or We did it with God’s help”)

Carolina Blue?

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Let’s make it clear, right now, right here, right up front – yes, I do live in Carolina but nothing in me carry’s Carolina Blue. While that may get me in trouble with some of my friends, I know it makes my husband extremely proud. You see there is a joke in my house that my husband had to marry someone one from another country (I’m from Canada) so that I wouldn’t have any allegiance to any school. You see to be apart of this family your blood has to run black and gold. In our family blue also means the following: Blue is for Brody, my second born grandchild. Colors have been assigned out of fun and sometimes necessity – toddlers right? It is also our 12 year old’s favorite color

All that being said, I must admit that the sky’s are often Carolina blue and when they are they are beautiful and little can match that beauty. Except maybe the beautiful sunrise or sunsets that turn that carolina blue sky into shades of pink, orange, red and sometimes hints of purple. The sky is the stunning, majestic, and artistic creation of an ever loving God. As I look up from writing this I see the weather report and am reminded that God also created the seas and for the most part they are blue also, with some white cap waves mixed in – or at least if you look at that fascinating and at times forceful creation in North Carolina.

The word Blue can also be used to describe someone who is depressed or downtrodden. I would venture to say that for someone to be truly depressed it goes far beyond being blue. Being blue to me, is a real feeling for sure and one that needs to be watched and cared for, but it’s more temporary. I’m not an expert but I will risk saying that when one feels “blue” one doesn’t need long term medication but could likely benefit from some therapy, at least for a couple of months. Certainly, being blue can turn to major depressive disorders and therefore need to be monitored. However, to just say “I’m feeling blue today” usually indicates, I”m having a bad day and will get over it within in few hours, or few days. I take mental health issues very seriously and I can’t emphasize it enough if this “blue” feeling persists, get help.

*** Disclaimer, I’m no expert in mental health, just passionate about it, so this is not medical advice, just personal opinion.

Disclaimer # 2, I know blue is just a strange topic to write about but it’s a blogging challenge. A word a day to blog about, random thoughts today and we will see how long I can actually make it through the challenge.

#MeToo (In a round about way my Gratitude day 8)

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Upon reading Bishop Tim Smith’s (Bishop of the North Carolina, ELCA) Facebook post this morning, I felt led to share a part of my story.

Sometime after we had adopted our littleman, I was sharing with a close mentor how much Joe and I loved and adored him and how blessed we were to have been given such a precious gift from God (and anyone who knew us and knows us – indeed knows how much we did and always will adore him).  I went on to ponder aloud, wondering if we should consider adopting another child, although Joe and I had long ago agreed to have only 1 child.  When asked why would I try to convince Joe off this I said “well, if we adopted again we could adopt a little girl and we could have one of each and I could make matching dresses for us.”  My mentor paused for a moment and said, “Kelly, is it really something you feel called to do – adopt another child?  Is that something that would work for your family?”  When I quietly, said “Well not really”.  I again said “I want you to know I truly believe Z is our child and the one that God meant for us to have, he is the only one that could complete our family.”   She then said something that greatly impacted my life and gave me something to strive for every single day.  That impact was made when she said “Kelly, you have a powerful story, that hurts, I know.  But God has blessed you with a little boy, so that you and Joe can raise a young man to know how to treat young women and ladies for the rest of his life.”  WOW!  Each day I believe we strive to do just that – some day’s more successfully than others.   I’m thankful for that special mentor.

That all being said, I’ve been hesitant to jump in the #MeToo movement because while it’s a part of my story and always will be – it hurts.  Not only does it hurt I’m afraid of what those who hurt me might say or do, or how others will feel if they knew that part of my story, or is it going to just give some who are constantly looking for something to critic something else to judge me on, or is it going to put a mark on any  future service I have with the church as an ordained minister and my list could just keep going on.

I’m not all grateful for that part of my story but I am most currently eternally grateful for CareNet of the Triad for the amazing care I’ve been given there for a number of years.  Without the team that I’ve been blessed with I would be not nearly where I am in my journey with accepting my #MeToo story and trying to heal from the hurt.  I wouldn’t suggest attempting to tackle it alone – I just can’t imagine.  Honestly, I do not know where I would be if it wan’t for the wonderful care I receive each week.  I’m beyond thankful.

That being said, I’ve clearly openly joined those who journey with a  #MeToo story – as one who has been sexually  harassed or assaulted.  Again I say, I am not at all happy or proud of that part of my story, yet it’s real.  Mr. Rodger’s would say “look for the helpers”, for those helpers and a few close friends I’m thankful.  I couldn’t have been and still can’t be on this journey alone – thank you!

Gratitude Day 7

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Oops, I’m a few days late with a couple. So tomorrow I shall do two – well that will be my goal. I’ll catch up because I have a great deal to be thankful for.

So this is Sunday’s thankful post. Don’t get me wrong I love preaching and I love preaching at a variety of churches in two denominations-the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) an the Moravian Church. However, it is nice every now and then to worship with my family.

Joe, Zachary and I are members of New Philadelphia Moravian Church, where Joe is associate pastor. Sunday. I was blessed to worship with them. Hearing the Beracah Choir, the bells, the organ a blend of music and Rev. Dr. Worth Green preach.

Extra special is when Worth preaches Joe gets to sit with Zachary and I during the sermon. Now since Joe and I have been serving together that has rarely happened and definitely since Zachary has been born we have just as rarely sat together in worship. I’m thankful for moments like this and cherish them for days to come.

We are called to worship as families and what a joy and privilege that is.