Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I'm Committed

It's been a has been overwhelming to say the least. But the itch is there...I miss writing.
And for the last 2 weeks, I have been mulling over where I should start... my illness, my pregnancy, my baby, my church, my family...  Each life area has its own twists and turns and would provide plethoras of creative topics for writing and healing.

But I keep coming back to one phrase, 'I'm committed.'

I'm committed to looking for the joy in each day.
I'm committed to sharing my life and story with loads of family, friends, co-teachers, and persons from my church family.
I'm committed to serving and loving.
I'm committed to the efforts it takes to keep feeling healthy.
I'm committed to my husband and my children.
I'm committed to reading my Bible, daily, and growing in my relationship with Him.
I'm committed to small growth and not giant leaps.
I'm committed to not judging others, but most importantly, myself.

Within each of these commitments are a series of mini-commitments... which brings me to my first blog topic...

I'm committed to going to Spain with my son next spend 8 days teaching children English and being His hands and feet in any other way in which we are called to be, while we are there.

I'm committed to doing the work necessary in order to share this experience with my 14 year old, who asked, "Mom, will you go with me?"

So, we shall GO.

And this is where I need your continued so many of you have already offered so much support to our family.

We need two things: Prayer and Money.

Will you commit to pray for us, often, between now and June? For safety, growth, healing, and especially, for the children God will have waiting for us...

Secondly, would you be able to give? We will be doing a variety of fundraisers...the 1st one this Friday night. Austin will be rocking in his Grandma Greer's rocking chair for 12 hours straight! And...he is asking for sponsors to offer to pay him $2 an hour for his efforts.

So, as the theme goes, I'm committed. Committed to finding 50 people to agree to $2 an hour for the 12 hours.

Would you consider being one of the fifty and sponsoring my boy in his Rock-a-Thon? You can give a check/cash to Austin or I (checks made to PCC. Greer Seville, Spain 2014 in note) or mail it to:
4480 Anderson Highway
Powhatan, VA 23040

My life over the last five months has been filled with more peace and joy than I've seen in many, many years.

My secret is I have committed to quit sweating the small AND the big stuff...because I know He will always provide.

So...if you can't give right now don't sweat it and just join me in prayers of safety and blessings for this trip.

Cause I'm committed to believing He has told us to GO...and so I have no doubt that He will provide the way.

So very grateful...

Austin Ryan 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Boycott Chik-fil-A?

I, like everyone else, have my opinion and my say on the latest phenomenon to hit the media. 
My. Opinion.

Which is really all that Dan Cathy, Chik-Fil-A President, was doing.  Stating his opinion.  His belief.

He was asked, as a leader in a company that outwardly claims its belief in The Holy Bible, what his thoughts were on same-sex marriage. Then, when he answered honestly, was crucified.

And Me? My opinion?

I think the entire thing, on both sides, is utterly ridiculous.


And I have thought about this...A LOT. 

Because, I am both a Jesus-following, Bible-believing, Christian and I love and share in several relationships with people who are gay.  I would never consider banning them from my life, just because of their sexual choices. 

That being said...
How can you boycott a restaurant for answering you honestly and continuing to utter their belief, as they have always done? 

Their chain strives to follow the Bible, wholeheartedly, and have proved this through company policies, such as "having a day of rest" on Sundays, by not opening their business.  Do you realize how many millions they lose by doing this?  I feel they have put their money where their mouth is and have the right to stand on that belief, using The Bible as their anchor.

You see, Marriage is a biblical word.  Marriage is something God created.  God.  You know Him?  The Author of The Bible. 

Therefore, open followers of the Bible cannot say they "biblically" approve of marriage, if it is anything other than a man and a woman. 

So, what if this Bible believing man, Mr. Cathy, did?  Did say he approved for political reasons or to avoid the scrutiny of the public?

Well, if he did say that he believed that gay marriage was biblically okay, then he would instantly have been a hypocrite.  It would be like if you asked him if he believed in living together?  And he said sure.  If he believed that we should give 10% of our paychecks back to the church?  And he said that it wasn't necessary.  If the company's president was asked his opinion on abortion and he said that it was a choice. 
Those answers would have been opposite of what he and his company openly claim to follow, making this president and his company of bunch of hypocrites.

So, I do not know why we have to quit eating chicken and spread more hate, because someone simply confirmed, what anyone who knows the Bible, already knew. 

I feel like Chik-fil-A was set up.  I am not sure of by who.  Whether is was a political move or a financial one, it still appears to be a publicity stunt to me.  The interviewer HAD to know what the answer was going to be before the question was even answered.
So..this company was just another target, set up to be the recipient of years of pent up anger.

And here, is where I admit, if someone asked me which side I was on, I would have to say both.

After all, the anger is our fault.  "Our" being society, many claiming to be speaking, boycotting, or picketing in the name of Jesus.

We have created this anger and hurt by the outpouring of HATE Americans have shown towards our gay and lesbian friends and family. 

To me, if you hate someone, refuse to speak to them or bash them just because they live the "gay lifestyle", then YOU are the one who needs to check their Bible.  You may need to investigate the word hypocrite a little more closely.

First and foremost, Jesus never choose hatred.  He did not hide His beliefs, nor falter in His stand, but He did not loathe or abominate the people He met either.  Instead, He offered support and love.  And as Jesus-followers, it is MY OPINION, that we should do the same.

And we have failed greatly in doing this to the gay population.  For decades, we have centered in on homosexuality, like it is THE worst sin in the entire world.  Honestly, people.  I have seen gay and lesbian people treated worse or abandoned as inferiors more often than murderers.  I have seen people I love made to feel less than worthy of love, because they choose to be gay; while adulterers, thieves, and gossipers are forgiven over and over and over. 

Oh, yes.  In so many ways, we have failed.

I believe in the Bible and therefore, concur that homosexuality is not what's in our best interest.  I am not attempting to go against my beliefs through these words.

However, it is A sin, not THE sin.  And I consider myself equally as sinful as any person who chooses to live with a partner of the same sex.  I sin.  You sin.  We all sin.  That's in the Bible, too.  None of us is perfect, and yet, we throw these massive stones of hatred, as if we are.
We have judged horrifically; hating in the name of 'the truth', rather than loving in the name of Jesus.
This constant state of hate has caused many homosexuals and supporters to be forced to look for any opportunity they can find for their voices to be heard.  Even if that stance is through an opinion of a restaurant president. 

So, as absurd as I think all the kicking and screaming has been lately, I get it.  I get the need to be accepted, rather than blatantly unloved.  I get wanting to be valued as a person and not just as a choice.
So, I suppose, I take two stands on this one. 
I believe Christ Followers have the right to voice their position; but, I also believe that ALL people should be treated equally or at the very least, on their actions towards others.
But... biggest stand on the entire thing, is still that it is utterly ridiculous

On both sides.

I think both sides are taking things a wee bit far and I know, deep inside, that the thousands of people fighting for what they believe in could use that internal strength to fight to truly change the world.

I can't help but think what God's people could do with ALL the energy they are spending "boycotting"...
Solve World Hunger?
Help the Homeless?
Comfort victims of abuse?
There has to be so much more that we can do in the name of our Jesus than banning chicken chains.

And the same goes for the other side.  If all of the "if you don't believe what I believe than I am going to picket/boycott/ban you" energy was put towards helping those around us who really needed it...

Wow.... our world would, indeed, be a better place.

Because, no matter which side you take, we can all agree that there are bigger problems than where to eat our lunch....

Like a gunmen attacking a movie theater full of people.

So, I say we continue to be America and stand up for our beliefs, and honestly, take our stance.  And as a Christian, if asked, I will continue to take my stance on what God's best is for us.
But, then, I'm gonna move on.  And may I suggest you do the same? 

 No matter which 'side' you are on, rather than getting stuck in anger, lets plow our energies forward and see where the world really needs us to fight to make a difference.
'Cause I hardly doubt, where I choose to satisfy my next fast food craving, is it.

Friday, July 27, 2012


I have been clinging to that word for almost three decades.

When...I go to college it will be better.
When...I graduate college and have my own place it will be better.
When...I get married it will be better.
When...I lose weight it will be better.
When...I am debt free it will be better.
When...I have kids it will be better.
When...I find the true love of my life it will be better.
When...I am a greater will  be better.
When...I am will be better.

And on..and on..and on...anddddd onnnnnnnnn.

Well, the many "whens" have come and gone and "it" is in fact, NOT better, but possibly worse. 

The "it" is my continual struggle with depression and anxiety. 

I have spent my entire adulthood and at least half of my childhood fighting this disease. Daily.

I think the "it's getting worse part" is due in fact to my realization that there is no WHEN.  This is a disorder that I will struggle with always.  No matter the when or the what or the why or the how or the who....the dark cloud continues to hang over my heart and challenge me.

There are goods and bads to this life actuality. 

The good part is that I do not have to sit in waiting any longer.  Waiting for the "good" to overcome the "bad" in my life, and finally making all the aches go away.  I am beginning to seriously understand that this is what I have done for years upon years.  Instead of accepting who I am and what struggles are mine, I just kept waiting for the next "when" to happen and POOF! dissipate all the sadness.

Yes, here in America, we call that denial.  And it is the road I have been wandering on for years.

So, it is good that I finally get it.  I get that depression is a genetic disorder that I have watched the other women in my maternal family suffer from, too.  I get that that hereditary connection makes me susceptible to the disease.  I get that no matter how good life is, that the physical ache, can still rise up and attempt to suffocate me.  I get that I am not alone and that there are buckets of other people fighting the same struggle, some of them women that I love, adore, and admire to my core.  I get that it is not something to be ashamed of and that treating it is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of acceptance.  I get that God isn't punishing me for being a less than superior child of His.  I get that this struggle does not make me less of a person or less of a Christ-Follower. 

I get....that there is...and never will be...a WHEN. 

And in that slow, painful acknowledgment, I am finding comfort, and consequently, healing. 



V.E.R.Y. slowly. 

But, still, it's a step I have waited a couple of generations to accept and take.

This brings me to the bad part.  Conceding that depression and anxiety are not disorders I caused, means I have to allow my heart to feel it the now...and not shove it away until the savior of "when" shows up.

And to be frank?  It hurts like hell. 

The pain is so overwhelming, I am struggling with panic attacks and long bouts of uncontrollable sobbing. 

My denial, has allowed me to smile through many painful events and bouts of sadness, knowing it would all be okay someday.

Someday is today.  And it is okay.

 It is okay to be me.

Me is a person who has a plethora of blessings.  A loving husband.  Two healthy, happy children.  A debt free home and vehicles.  A job I love.  Two college degrees.  A God who offers grace and love.  A church that reaches out to show me His love.  Friends, friends, and more good, good friends.  And on and on and on and on.

I am very aware of the showering of goodness on my life. 

And I am, finally, aware that being depressed does NOT mean I am ungrateful for these many gifts. Nothing is more frustrating then when people tell you to "focus on the good", when you struggle with these disorders.  The good, the blessings, the happiness, the gifts of life....  I know all of these and daily, thank my God for them.  But depression is a sickness, not a sadness due to a lack of appreciation. 

I, finally, truly, get that and in this discovery, I am attempting to delight in the small happiness daily, then wait for the BIG happiness...when.

But me is also a person that has been through a lot of personal and physical heartache.  That, mixed with my despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy(the actual definition of depression), sometimes requires a violent and forceful need to fight...just to survive the day.

The bad part is that my new found freedom, also allows me to unlock the Pandora's Box on my past and its encased emotions, the ones I figured would all just go away when WHEN got here. 

And that, has been excruciating.

And I hate it.

And I wish it wasn't this way.

But, I accept that it is.

And in that acceptance WHEN becomes NOW.

Now...I will deal with and treat my conditions, unashamedly.

Now...I will cherish all the gifts I have and not feel unworthy of the joy they bring.

Now...I will cry if I need to and ask for prayer when I have to.

Now...I will thank God for the buckets of people in my life that offer support and love. when I let go of...when.

If I acknowledged the dozens of people that helped me to get to this point, the list would be too long.  But you know who you are.  I thank each of you and of course, I thank and praise my ever faithful, God, who never abondoned me no matter the whens or nows.

Chloe, Austin, and I parasailing in St. Augustine, Florida.

1400 feet in the air! A cherished moment I will never forget!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Could I Not? continued...

(I have not blogged for nearly a year.  And I have missed it.  For a handful of valid reasons, I was feeling "writer's block".  But, I have this great, big dream of writing a book, and so when my dear friend asked me to be a guest poster on her blog, I knew it was time to move the boulder obstructing my thoughts.  And I did.  And it feels great.  I hope to eventually get to the point to create a new blog to aid me in working on my dream.  But for now, I am just happy to have my heart allowing my mind to speak to my fingertips again.  Thank you to Beth (to see guest here) for the opportunity and assistance in helping me get back to something I love;
 and thank you for being my audience as I continue to scribe about serving, laughing, and loving.)

“How could I not?”

 How could I not still have faith and believe in our God, no matter what has happened to me?

 This is the question I finally decided to face and answer honestly.

 I looked up faith in the dictionary.,,

 Faith: to have belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof

I agree with that definition as it is written, right up to the end, ‘especially without logical proof’.
From the time I was 10 years old and this life of boulders was thrown at me, not once was He not there saying, “Let Me carry these burdens for you.” 

 And in that fact, I have very logical proof.

 I had grandparents who showed me what family was in so many ways. I have dozens of cousins, aunts, and uncles that I get to love, and I know love me, because of the many life events our family has done together. My grandmother was dying of organ failure when I was nine years old. I find proof in my faith that He kept her with us, for 30 more years. Without her, not only would I have missed out on buckets of family, I would not have the life experiences and knowledge that have carried me through and left me with numerous happy memories. Many times, my grandparents carried my burdens for me.

 I have two children who are healthy, intelligent, and well-rounded. They have a surplus of people that love them and share in their lives with them. I find proof in my faith that they exist at all and that they came from me. The two of them mixed with the most loving, dedicated, funny, hard-working husband, daily fill me with love and healing. Loving them grants me release from my burdens.

 Because of my two divorces, I have lived in a variety of settings, and have made some good, strong, supportive, life-long friends. These are relationships that I count on not on to share in life with, but who hold me, and my family up, when I cannot do it on my own. I find proof in my faith, that I have handfuls of people that I have the privilege to call friends. If I had not faced so many challenges, I may have missed out on these fantastic people and experiences. Santa’s list would have nothing on my list of the ways my community of friends have become my family, and truly, shown me unconditional love. They help carry my burdens every day, too.

The challenges and poor options of mine led me to Powhatan Community Church. Without that finding, I would have missed out on countless hours of happiness and joy. I find proof in my faith, in each message that has touched my spirit, every praise song that has spoken to my heart, and for each alliance added to my life.  Countless number of times, He has spoken to me through this church, and allowed me to find peace.  And, just knowing that His grace dissolves my faults, and offers a heart full of peace, not only carries the burdens…it obliterates it.

 So, there.  There you have it.  The reason behind the question on my faith:  “How could I?”

 How could I not continue to have faith, when despite all the challenges and oppositions thrown at me throughout my life, I still have been given so much.

 His word is clear: Believe in Him, Follow Him, Love Him and He will always be there.

 And I believe that He has overwhelmingly, kept His promise to me. I have never lived without clothing, food, or shelter and neither have my children. My heart may have been broken, but it has been filled with love so much more. I have been on dozens of wonderful vacations. I have magnificent family that makes me so happy. I love my job. I have a job. We live debt free. I have an amazing church family, where I have the privilege of touching thousands of lives.

 And then…We have two vehicles. We have air-conditioning. We have television. We have DVR. We ipods and ipads and laptops and PlayStations and on and on and on…

 Seriously…How could I not have faith that in God?

 How. Could. I. Not?

 When I have so much…whether in memories, lifestyle, people, or in tangible items…I have been blessed with so many awesome gifts in my life.

 And yet…

That list is only about 90% of the reason why I ‘still’ have faith.

 The last 10% is the easier and more obvious measure. It is the part that I truly focus on during my darkest hours, when even I am pushed to a moment where I wonder if He is there. It is also, the part I always offer someone when they challenge God’s validity by saying, “Well, maybe there are just coincidences in life and people are good.” It is the part that would make me look at an individual and say, ‘Even if I could believe that all of the amazing things that have happened to me are “coincidence”, I still have what He has created.”
Because how could any of us take even one look around us and then have any doubt that He is real and loving and ever present?

 From when I was a small child, I remember looking outside and instantly feeling warm at the promise of God’s awesomeness.   And more than once since, I have found peace and confirmation in His beauties of our world. 

 The big, beautiful clouds…

The crisp white, and baby blue skies…with orange and purples thrown in, too..

 Sunrises and sunsets…

 The trees of the darkest and brightest and most valid greens..

 The leaves of the fall…crisp and warm...

 The mountains…The power of their mightiness...

 The oceans…its beauty. Its calling. Its way of calming your soul.

 Newborn babies….

 One look at any of those physical, tangible beauties and my 90% of faith instantaneously skyrockets into infinity percent… consequently, solidifying my beliefs.

And I wonder,  how it could be different for anyone else... For every one tragedy, failure, or loss, there are always hundreds of blessings, gifts, and beauty.

For me, every single one of those bits of good favor is enough for me to believe forever.

 It’s not that believing in God and having faith in His love makes all the bad disappear or assures that your life will be perfect….Clearly, I have shown that.

 But, it does acknowledge that I am so much more than the sum of my mistakes, and that is something that is worthy of unwavering faith.

You should try it.  It doesn't make life perfect, but it let's you know that He loves you anyway.

And love, as we know, conquers all. 

I took this photo myself.  It is not photo-shopped in anyway.  This was what the sky looked like on my entire solo journey to my Grandfather's funeral.  Again, this is too easy.  How could I not?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chapter Five: NEW YORK!!!!

The last decade has held many vacations, most combined in one way or another with the Hall Family.  As we would beach or visit parks, we'd often say, "We need to do New York one day." 

Well, 'one day' finally arrived.  Last week, 5 girls and Austin took on the city.  It was the most challenging of our families' trips, but equally rewarding and full of many wonderful moments.

Seeing Ground Zero, including St. Paul's Cathedral was powerful.

We had a blast shopping in stores such as Toys R Us, Disney Store, M&M Store, The Hershey Store, Fao Schwarz, and many others!


Visiting the two islands, one housing the Statue of Liberty, is something every single American should do.  It truly takes your breath away.  The museums, housing room after room of immigrant memorabilia, allowed a true glimce into the sacrifice people made just to be in the Land of Opportunity.

After standing in a three hour line and fighting through a crowd of 50 people once in the store, we finally got our bag of coveted cupcakes and cookies.  Worth three hours?  I don't know about all that, but the icing sure did taste UNBELIEVABLY delicious. Mmmmmmmm....

The American Girl Store fuflilled all of Chloe's little girl fantasies and then some.  Laney got pampered in their day salon and Julie joined our family.  There was a bakery and even a place for your dolls to "hang out" while you used the 'facilities'. 

Yes, I spent way too much money and I should be smacked for spending money at all for a doll to get a manicure. 

But one look at the joy on Chloe's face made it all worth it.  We WILL be repeat visitors...

This is one of the greatest shows I have ever seen.  Sure, I am a little biased since it is the only one I have actually seen IN New York.  Nonetheless, it was fabulous and deserved all of the Tony's it has won!

I do not know if any of us could honestly say, "I LOVE New York!" because between the people, the subways, the walking (my ankles were soccer balls!), and the cost, we could not wait to make our way back to Virginia.  However, our four days were filled with laughter, beauty, and amazement, as we spent time in several of our country's most famous spots. 

But we most definitely could say, "We loved OUR trip to New York!"

 Thankful to have gone and thankful to have shared it with five people I love so very much... 

Austin, Chloe, Hollyann, Gwen, and Robyn - Times Square, New York
...but I was pretty darn thankful to come HOME, too! ;o)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer 2011: Chapter Four

As our summer adventure continued, I had the privilege to do one of my favorite things: spend time with my Pittsburgh Family.  This included my cousins, aunts, uncles, brother, and my most endearing, Grandma Deep.  These visits always fill my heart with lifelong warmth in memories that my children and I create in the places where I spent the most joyous times in my childhood.  Sadly, over the last couple of years, the times have changed, as families have evolved and our grandparents have aged, but each visit is still incredibly meaningful and heart-warming.  I always come home feeling more grateful for my past..and present...then before I left; because my paternal family, my Dad's people, my Deep Family, has, and still does, provide me with a peace, that only pure, true, family can bring.

Waldameer Park, Erie, PA

This plate, that now hangs in Jesse's beautiful kitchen, hung in our Grandma's kitchen, too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer 2011: The Great Cousin Visit (Chapter Three)

After three summers...he finally made it!  Austin's cousin, my nephew, Ryan's brother's son, Shawn, 17, came to spend ten days at our house.  Now, I say "at our house" lightly, because one thing we hardly ever did during his almost dozen nights, was stay home.  It was a blast.  I love him as much, if not more, as I did when he was 2 and sported the same giant smile and the same infectious giggle.  I am grateful for the visit of this "Great" cousin for Austin, for Chloe, for Brian, and for me.  It. was. a. blast.
The Thinker

Ready for a fun-filled day!

If only...

See the Engineer waving behind them? Cool...

4D Pirates Show

Aye Matey!

Making a wax hippo...colors of a German flag.  That's Shawn.  Random...

Disney Schmisney!
This is why he didn't get a haircut BEFORE his trip! ;o)

Cool Cousins
Even Shawn couldn't say no to the swings! 
Busch Gardens Williamsburg - June 27, 2011

"No, Chloe.  You may not play any games." Ha! says Shawn!

Norfolk Naval Ship

17th Street Surf Shop - Virginia Beach, June 2011

Kohr's Ice Cream - "Jimmies" in Virginia!!!

Ahhh! He looks so much like his mom here...

Beach Quarters Rooftop Pool and Lounge

"Let's rent one of those four person bikes!"  NO where near as fun as it sounded....

Water Country, USA - June 28, 2011

Finally....we exhausted him. :O)
Shawn, it was awesome having you here and I am thankful for the reminder of how grateful I am for you in our lives...

Please come back. SOON.  We have some winter adventures, too... OR we can just stay home in our pajamas this time.  ;o)

Love ya!

xo Aunt Kelley xo