Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

Fasting 2015

You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it. J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Every year for the past 5 years or so, I have, with my church, committed to a 21 day fast at the beginning of January as a way of seeking God for direction and intimacy and being intentional with where we want to go and what we want to do for the year.

As it draws to a close, I can’t help but think about sacrifice in a broader sense.  Giving up certain foods for any amount of time is a sacrifice and I’m embracing that feeling of emptiness and need–the longing for more.  I want to feel that way about Jesus–longing for more of His presence and more of His word.

Even more than that, fasting is practicing “dying to self” as per the bible.  If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up this cross daily. Luke 9:23 and if my verse of the year says to “lay down one’s life for one’s friends” John 15:13 that more than implies sacrifice, it demands it.

What does that mean for the rest of the year?  I don’t know. Choosing to put God and others before my self, my desires, means daily sacrifice. To what extreme? Is there an extreme? Is extreme what is asked for in John 15?

 

Love one another

 ♥ LOVE  

It’s my word of the year for 2015.  Love. All things love.  Actions that show love.  Words that speak love.  Thoughts that lead to words and actions that love. Love when I don’t feel like it. Love when its not “deserved”. LOVE. Overflowing, unselfish, sacrificial LOVE.

love

 

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15: 12-13

Twenty Twelve in Review

The year 2012 in the life of CariKelley was the same as most…with its ups and its downs.   Here are some highlights and lowlights and firsts in no particular order of importance or occurrence.

  • Learned how to drink my coffee black–while this is not exactly a great feat in the grand scheme of things, it is notable in my life.  and to say that I “learned” is really not accurate–more like forced. Since I decided to “clean up” my food intake and because the creamers that I like and were using did not meet the minimum standards for health, they are out. Coffee, however, is necessary, so henceforth and hereafter, it is black.
  • Lost that last 10 pounds–finally. My weight loss/fitness progress had plateaued for about a year.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to make any forward progress.   In November I heard about the Whole30 and decided to give it a whirl (mostly to deal with a nagging neck pain that remains unresolved).  30 days of no sugar, no dairy, no legumes, and no grains (NONE!) and that did it.  Wow…it wasn’t easy but it was life changing.
  • Found out I live in a money pit…my house is broken.  Foundation, plumbing, and other random crap.  Approximately $25G’s to fix it to make it sellable.  So…I guess we’re stuck here for a little while longer….or a lot while longer.  I can think of 3, maybe 4, solutions to this “problem”–1. a $$ windfall, 2. a destructive house fire (not wishing for this, but if it were to happen…), 3. Jesus comes back, or 4. we borrow money to fix everything and then slowly, gradually pay it back over the next 10 years. Only options 1 and 3 sound attractive at the moment.
  • My oldest child left home at 18–with some time I’ve come to realize this really is a good thing…no matter how painful it is, it’s good for him and good for us.  Wow…really hard though.  But he needs to grow up and what better way than the “sink or swim” method?  I know he has a strong faith foundation and I believe in him.  I hate to see him go through rough times, but he’ll be stronger and wiser in the end.
  • Shot a gun for the first time–lots of different guns as a matter of fact…my dad has a collection and a passion to teach.  =)  Lucky me!  Rifles, automatics, revolvers of various shapes and sizes.   It was very, very fun and I was pretty darn good at hitting a stationary target. (not exactly real-world applicable 🙂 )
  • Had my first drink–I have some really really great friends that may or may not be a corrupting influence. 😉  They took me out for my first alcoholic drink, a frozen Margarita…and then my second, another frozen Margarita…and then a third, again with the frozen Margarita.  I can’t seem to venture out from that one yet.  I like ’em~they are very lime-y and very yummy.  Yes, yes, this is a fairly dramatic shift in attitude and belief for me.   I’ve NEVER been a drinker of anything alcoholic.   Just didn’t see the point.  and then my kid left home and I wondered what it would be like to use alcohol to “relax” and, dare I say it….numb the emotions.  Not exactly a healthy thought process, but I can definitely see why some people drink. That being said, I don’t plan on getting ridiculously drunk ever…if you need reason why, just look to Cassio in Othello “Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost
    my reputation!”   Need I say more?

I’ve already got a list of firsts I’m going to do in 2013.   Take a Zumba class.  Take a Yoga class.  Try a different alcoholic drink other than a Frozen Margarita. Get a tattoo (this one is another massive shift in attitudes and beliefs I should talk more about later).   Maybe I’ll do one brand new thing a month–wouldn’t that be something to type about!?

Emotions-Can You Fake ’em?

Use the corresponding face for the corresponding emotion.” Meg Ryan in that movie where she goes to Paris to chase after her ex-fiancé.

I’m one of those people who you can read like a book. If I’m happy, you’ll know it. If I’m confused, it’s written all over my face. If I’m mad, oh yeah, you’ll know it. That’s a good thing, right? I’m true. I’m real. I’m authentic. I’m transparent.

But I think it’s not always good. I know that sometimes when I’m angry–just for illustration purposes, let’s say I’m mad at my teenaged son–it does NOT help the situation for me to show anger. It communicates disapproval and disappointment. Which maybe I am, but my feelings are not the issue that needs to be dealt with or focused on. I read this several weeks ago and it stuck with me, even though I’m having trouble putting it into practice.

The anger of a parent confronted with a child’s poor choice shifts the focus from the child’s bad behavior to the parent’s angry response. Replace anger with empathy and see what happens. Responding to disobedience with empathy rather than anger is difficult, but the reward is great.

from Day 3 of the Parenting by Design devo on YouVersion.

Right. Empathy. Right. So….how exactly does that look?!

Mom: Well, hello, son. I see you are 20 minutes later than you said you’d be.

Son: Oh…sorry.

Mom (Option 1): Sorry?!? You’re sorry!?! You better be because I’ve been sitting here waiting and now I’m going to be really tired tomorrow! You bet you’re sorry, because now you’re grounded!!

Mom (Option 2): I can see that. I’m sorry that you couldn’t make it when we asked. Next time you go out you will have to make up that time. You’ll have to come home 20 minutes earlier than normal.

Yeah, I can see that would be a better response for parents who set firm rules and consequences (which we SUCK at). And also I know that…

human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:20 NIV)

Now I just have to figure out how to either not be mad–or hide it convincingly. Probably the former is more effective, although more difficult to achieve. Only complete reliance on God can bring about a miracle of this magnitude.

drop (to your knees) and give me 20…more!

I’ve now been married 20 years.  20. years.  That’s a really long time.  For me, it’s half my life.  And 20 years is a really long time to stay with the same person.  I mean, think of it, when else do you spend that long with one person–that close.  Besides family (which I haven’t ever LIVED with that long) it’s the longest close relationship I’ve ever had.  Friends come and go, and even the friends I’ve had for that long I don’t see EVERY day.

Marriage is a covenant, or promise, between a man and a woman to stay together no matter what.  For better, for worse.  On the very day you are married, you are acknowledging there will be good and bad times.  At 20 years old, I did not have a clue what that really meant.  I couldn’t comprehend that, at times, I’d get weary of dealing with the same issues, having the same arguments, or going ’round and ’round the same conflicts (or avoiding the same conflicts) for years.  Marriage is the place where you learn what it’s really like to accept someone and love them unconditionally.  It’s the place where you have to exercise true humility, giving up what you want for the sake of someone else.

Kevin and I both have divorced parents.  BUT, they divorced late in life.  My parents were married 30 years before they split up.  I was an adult with kids of my own.  and Kevin’s dad left when Kevin was in high school.   What this tells me is that after the first 20, the second 20 must be even more challenging.   And that makes sense…the new-ness wears off (ha!), kids have moved on out, you have to find a new rhythm.

So, here’s to the NEXT 20. and becoming more like my Savior  –>humble, accepting, serving, considering my spouse more than myself, and loving him unconditionally.

new stuff, somewhere else

I’m sorely disappointed in myself.  I go all BIG, guest posting on a leadership blog, getting a conversation going, receiving more hits on my blog in 2 days than I’d had in the last 6 months prior, then…. *crickets chirping*…nothing.

Oh well.  Now that the hubbub has died down and traffic has returned to normal, I thought I’d resurface.  and send you, my faithful reader, to another blog.  Yep.  I don’t have anything to say, but I have been thinking…and reading.  I’m working through a book called Sacred Marriage, based on the idea that the Lord designed marriage not to make you happy but to make you holy.  This requires a paradigm shift for many.

Which lead me to here, which is where I’m sending you.  Take a gander, then come on back.  I promise I’ll have something new soon. 🙂  and I don’t know why it keeps being in italics…won’t stop.  grrrrr…

Do You Do Hard Things? part 1

I’m reading a book called Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris.  It was written by teens for teens.  But, it’s challenging me. and I’m not a teen.  Do I do hard things?  Or do I coast?

When I think of someone who does hard things, I think of my cousin who is raising 3 girls BY HER SELF, going to school, AND working full time.  and she is not just raising them, but she’s teaching them to value education, each other, a relationship with God…they have traditions, family identity, confidence.  They are loved, self-assured, beautiful, happy, goal-oriented.  They watch their mom work hard and pursue more, not for worldly success or money, but because she has goals.  That’s hard.

And I think of my sister who works full time at a job she’s not crazy about, just to pay the bills.  With her husband out of work, she has to leave her beautiful, precious toddlers (my niece and nephew who I’m crazy about!) and go to work every day to provide for her family.  Not only that, but she still runs the house, plans and prepares meals, and spends LOTS of time with the kids so they know that she loves them. She does all of this with a positive attitude and a thankful heart.   My friends, that’s hard.

My circumstances have been easy by comparison, allowing me to skate by doing the minimum.    So who’s better off?  I’m sure there is value to doing hard things. What is it?

I need a minute to think….let me get back to you on that.  In the meantime, give me your input.  What do you gain by doing hard things?

More about Grace

Despite my last post about being overwhelmed by grace, I don’t think I really get it yet.  I’ve been thinking about how many times I DON”T give grace.  If I truly understood AND lived in the reality of God’s grace, then I would offer it much more freely and much more frequently.

I know this is going to shock, but there are some people in my life that are NOT perfect.  I KNOW!  Crazy, huh?   Kidding aside, nobody is perfect (including me, I remind myself), and the closer you are to someone and the more time you spend with them, the more likely you are to see their flaws.   Sometimes it’s easy to give grace.  Sometimes it’s not.  The concept of grace has been perfected with Christ’s death.  We can’t offer what we don’t have.  We have recieved grace and, therefore, the ability to give it comes from God–and not of ourselves.

I’m thankful for grace.

Lest you think I’m perfect…

’cause I KNOW that’s what yall are thinkin’…ha.

My sister made a comment on one of my posts about me and my blog being spiritual, and it got me thinking.  Am I?  What does that mean?  I feel like there is a certain level of expectation that goes along with that.  Maybe rightly so, I’m not sure.  What I do know is that it makes me nervous.  Because I:

  • am not perfect–not even close
  • have not arrived…in fact, I keep tripping myself up on my journey
  • don’t have it all together
  • am very selfish and have to work really hard to remember that life is not all about me and want I want
  • struggle with relationships-being a friend, being a wife…you know, thinking of others needs and feelings before my own
  • am critical and judgmental of others  (thinking they should be perfect even though I’m not)

Granted, I’m spending a lot of time in God’s word right now and I guess that’s coming out in my blog posts.    But that’s a choice.   And only because I was at the end of my rope, did I grab the hem of His garment. (I really hate that word picture–it’s from an email fwd that I see alot!)  But seriously,  I was tired, so tired, of trying to live life on the fence…and that’s where I was, trying to live in the world and conform, and trying to work and live for Jesus—at the same time.  My butt still hurts from squirming on those pickets! (how’s that for a word picture.)

I began to ask myself questions like, “Am I really all in?” “If I stopped believing in Christ today, would my life change?”  “Do I really love God?”   If I’m being honest, the answer to those questions was no.  And I’m talking recently, within the last 12 months or so.  That might surprise people that know me, or it might not.  I might have looked the part of the “Christian”, but deep down, I was bordering on practical Atheist.

I want the answers to those questions to be a whole-hearted YES!  The truth is, it’s not a switch that you can throw and it just happens.  It’s a daily choice to pursue Him, choose Him, love Him, give up stuff, put Him first.   So, why bother?  Because I need His forgiveness, His grace, His salvation, His guidance–I’m absolutely certain I would self destruct with out Him.   Christ gave His life for me–my only logical response is to give mine back to Him.

Just because I talk of spiritual things, does not mean I have it all figured out.  Don’t use me as an example of how to live life…  I’ll do my best, but I’ll fail…guaranteed.  I hope that as I spend more time with Jesus, that I will look more like him and less like me.  My greatest fear is that I’ll show too much Cari when people think they are looking at a “Christian”…that people would be confused about who Christ is, because I did not represent Him well. Only Christ is worthy of mirroring.

Love is…

I’m reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan(as is everyone in my circle right now) mostly in an effort to redefine love in my mind.  I highly recommend it, btw.

My desire is to love God again.  To feel love for Him, to fall in love with Him, to just be able to say “I’m crazy about Jesus!”  Somehow, I’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.  My relationship with Him has been ok, but I’m trying to figure out if I love Him, really love Him.  I don’t want to just say it b/c I’m supposed to.

Since I know that the most important command in the bible is to Love God w/ all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second most important is to love people, I need to know….do I?  Does this seem like an easy question?  You would think someone would know if she loved someone or not.  But what is love?  Is it a feeling?  Is it a choice?  An action?  An emotion?

I’ll go to the source of love to find out what love is.  The bible says in I Cor that:

Love is patient. Love is kind.  Love is not jealous, boastful, or proud, or rude.  It does not demand its own way, it is not irritable and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

So…that’s it.  That’s what love is.  Not a feeling or an emotion.  It’s a choice to put someone else first.   If I love God, I’ll put him first.  If I love my husband, I’ll put him before myself.  If I love others, I’ll put their needs before my own.  To love my kids comes easy and natural, but beyond that…not so easy–I find that selfishness and pride get in the way of real, genuine love.

Is love obvious to everyone else?  Is it easy?