Dear Anna Kendrick,

Dear Anna Kendrick,

I had a dream about you the other night. Before I tell you about my dream, I feel the need to preface it with a few things. I am not crazy. I do not stalk you, google you, have posters of you in my room, sit in a van outside of your house, or even know if you have a house. I do follow you on Twitter, but that’s because someone retweeted something you tweeted and I thought it was hilarious. I also follow this guy @badbanana on Twitter because he is hilarious. I don’t know him either. All that to say, though I have enjoyed your movies, I don’t think about you very often, Anna Kendrick, so when I had a dream about you it was unusual.

In the dream you and I were apparently life long friends, but we lived in different cities and didn’t see each other often. You were still and actor and I’m not really sure what I did. But anyway, we happened to be in the same city at the same time and you asked me to drop by your shoot if I had time. I finished up what I had to do and headed your way. There was this huge drawn out part of the dream of me trying to get through your security and trying to explain that we were buds. It was stressful. I finally walked into your dressing room and you were talking and laughing with your “people.” When you saw me you asked them to “give us a few minutes.” As soon as they left you completely changed. You took of your “mask of happiness” that you were using with them, and with me, your lifelong friend with whom you could be real, you were just sad. Your eyes were full of sadness. You didn’t say anything in the dream, you just hugged me and were very, very sad. Anna Kendrick, I am not a crier, but I woke up crying and feeling a strong sadness because in this dream you were so sad. It was a very deep, deep sadness. I’m not gonna lie, it’s like three days later now and I still feel sad.

So, Anna Kendrick, I’ve decided to pray for you. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but I don’t usually pray for people I don’t know. I mean, I pray for things like genocides, and human trafficking, natural disasters and the riots in Venezuela, but praying for one person that neither I nor anyone else I know actually knows is a new thing for me. But I am praying for you. I don’t know if you are actually sad in real life…maybe you are very happy…but you’re stuck with me either way. I promise to continue not googling you, putting up posters of you, or sitting in front of your house in a van. But I will pray for you.

And I pray that you, Anna Kendrick, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Sincerely,

Kelly

Random Thoughts

I haven’t really been inspired to write a blog lately (other than the post about El Salvador which was just my support letter that I copied and pasted), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things going on.  So here are some random thoughts collected over a few days, so any reference to time is completely irrelevant, but I reference it anyway.

  1. I finally bought the food processor I have been wanting.  I saved up some money, took in a 20% off coupon, and I bought it.  Then I took it home and cut my finger, including my tendon with it 20 minutes later.  It was a typical Kelly move.  I had to get 5 stitches…and I was kind of proud of them if I’m honest.  Don’t worry, I didn’t sever the tendon…I know you were worrying about that.
  2. I was reading the book of Daniel a few days ago and there is a part of the story where soldiers came to Daniel’s house to kill him.  Daniel knew they were not there to hang out, and in questioning why they were about to attack him, the Bible says “and Daniel spoke with wisdom and tact.”  Wisdom and tact when they were about to kill him.  I need to be more like Daniel.  No one is ever trying to kill me and I still don’t manage to speak with wisdom and tact.
  3. I am still reading the book “Bonhoeffer.”  It’s taking me a long time.  It’s not a boring book, I just need to sit down and read it.  I am not allowed to read the book by The Pioneer Woman until I finish it.  I really want to read that Pioneer Woman book.
  4. Kilimanjaro is coming up in 23 weeks.  I am really really excited about it.  And at the same time, I don’t want to talk about it.  I’m sure I will talk about it obsessively when I get back though, and everyone will be sick of it.  So enjoy the silence now.
  5. I am trying to go one day a week technology free…except for my Kindle, which is technically technology, but it’s just books, and it’s ok to read books on my technology Sabbath day.  On Saturday I did this and I spent the whole day doing what I wanted to do, including taking a nap.  It was so restful and I felt so good at the end of the day.  I guess that’s why God tells us to take a Sabbath.  I couldn’t sleep at night though due to the nap.  I didn’t care though.
  6. I took my stitches out tonight.  The doctor said they only had to stay in for 12-14 days. It had been 12, and they were itching, so I took them out.  I felt awesome doing that…I don’t know why.  Probably because I was saving $100 by not having to go back to the hospital to take them out.  And also partly because I was taking out my own stitches.
  7. I am selling my road bike.  It’s really just been a decoration in my apartment for the last three years, so it’s time to make some money off if it.  Here is the ad if you are interested:  http://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/bik/2844431993.html
  8. I really want to see the movie “The Vow.”  I know it’s not going to win an Oscar, but it’s totally my kind of movie.  I need to see it soon.
  9. I found out today that I don’t have a spare tire.  Apparently it was just never there.  No  one has ever told me that, even though I have regularly had oil changes and rotated my tired.  So I went to the tire store to buy a spare tire and they said you also have to buy a wheel…oh.  That makes sense.  I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.

Catalyst Conference 2011

The Catalyst Conference is an incredible experience that I highly recommend to all leaders, especially those working in ministry.  It is two days (three if you do the labs) of basically drinking out of a fire hose.  Speakers from a variety of organizations come and speak to a crowd of 13,000.  It is basically impossible to try and wrap my head around all that I heard and learned at the conference, so here are some of the highlights!

 

  1. Fairness ended in the garden of Eden.  Don’t be fair, be engaged.  –Andy Stanley
  2. It’s not about personality, it’s about humility.  Humility + will = the essence of leadership.  – Jim Collins
  3. Bad decisions made with good intention are still bad decisions.  –Jim Collins
  4. Be known as a giver. –Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS)
  5. We are going to be hear awhile (meaning on this earth), so put on a cup. –Mark Driscoll
  6. Fear is not always a sing, but it’s always an opportunity to trust the Lord. -Mark Driscoll
  7. Whose opinion matters way too much to you? –Mark Driscoll
  8. Fear is vision without hope.  –Mark Driscoll
  9. The answer to fear is fear not. –Mark Driscoll
  10.  Am I missing out on the blessing of what is happening now because I’m thinking about where I want to be? –Priscilla Shirer
  11. Our eyes can be open to what God is doing, even in the midst of our circumstances. –Priscilla Shirer
  12. We are equipped with the Holy Spirit to see hope even in the midst of chaos. –Priscilla Shirer
  13.  Something is wrong when you’re with God and you’re doing all the talking. –Priscilla Shirer

Random Thursday

Tomorrow I leave for a week of vacation, so I can’t really focus on anything.  My mind is all over the place.  Here are some of the things I have been thinking about…

1. Cancun- That is where I am going to be from Aug 26-Sept 2 and I am so excited!  I am going with a couple of friends and here are some pictures of where we will be staying:

   

I know….don’t be jealous!

2. Wildfire- This is a show that I just finished streaming on Netflix.  I will be the first to admit that I get addicted to shows.  But this one was different.  It actually grabbed me emotionally and took me on a journey.  It’s a great story of redemption, relationships, family, and love. (It does have more mature subject matter sometimes, however, so I would give it a PG-13 rating) I absolutely loved it.  The writing is ok, the acting for the most part is not great (except, in my opinion, by the lead actress, Genevieve Cortese Padalecki, and co-star Ryan Sypek, both of whom I had never heard of).  So, if you have Netflix streaming and are looking for a good show to watch, I recommend this one.  And it’s about horse racing, which is actually pretty cool.  I had no idea.

3. Parachute’s New Album- It’s just really good.  I listen to it all the time.

4. The Help- If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to.

5. Introversion- I have known for a long time that I am an introvert, but have discovered that it’s actually really hard to explain to people.  Well, I have run across two things that explain it well.  The first one is a hilarious article called Caring for Your Introvert.  The other was a blog post by Owl City that had some introvert myths in it from a book.  I thought they were both great, explain it really well, and were so funny!

 

Excuses, Excuses

I need to live a more disciplined life.  Not necessarily more structured or less spontaneous, because that wouldn’t be me, but definitely more disciplined.

You see, there are some areas of my life that I’m not exactly happy with.  But the thing is, I realized that they are totally within my control to improve.  For example:

  • I am not happy with the way my body looks.  The reality is that there is no medical reason why I can’t loose some weight or get in better shape.  I am just lazy.  It is totally within my control to change.
  • I am not happy with my relationship with God.  The reality there is that I just don’t really take time to invest in that relationship.  (Disclaimer: God does not love me any more or any less based on the amount of time I spend reading His work or talking with him.)  I mean, I take time and invest in my friendships, and as a result, have built strong friendships.  The same thing applies here.
  • I am not happy with how much stuff I buy and how attached I am to “things.”  I don’t have to by these things.  I don’t need them.  That is something I can change with some discipline.

Do you see the pattern?  I spend a lot of time talking and thinking about these things, but they are totally within my control if I would take responsibility for them.  So here is the challenge:

  1. Come up with a list of two or three things in your life that you are unhappy with.
  2. Figure out whose responsibility they are.  Is it something you can change or something you need to trust God with?
  3. If it’s the former, fix it.  Don’t just talk about it.  Fix it.

In my quest for a disciplined life I have decided that I need to run and go to the gym in the morning because I am a morning person.  All it takes is me making the choice to get out of bed.  So last week I did it.  I got up, went for a run, came back and got ready, had plenty of time to read my Bible and talk to God, and had a great day.  There are definitely benefits to a disciplined life!  And then the next day I slept in. I am a work in progress…

Just remember: there is a difference between deciding to do something and actually doing it!

First, Do No Harm

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“First, do no harm.” You hear these words a lot in TV hospital dramas as part of the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take.  While those words are not directly used in the oath, the concept is definitely there.  Of course a doctor’s goal is to do no harm.  They want to fix what is going on and set the body on its way to healing.  That may mean trying new methods or doing something risky, but not at the expense of the patient.  At least that is how I would think it works outside of TV.

I have no idea why that phrase popped into my head while I was cooking dinner tonight.  I was tearing up lettuce for a salad (that counts as cooking, right?) and said the words, “First, do no harm.”  Random.  But then I started thinking, “What if we applied that to all relationships?  What if that was our motto to every person that we encountered?”  The reality is that we are going to see something that needs fixing in everyone.  There is going to be something that rubs us the wrong way, or annoys us, or of which we can only take small doses.  (This is totally different from addressing sin in some one’s life who has given us that close relationship. This is just personality stuff.)  What if, before we started picking them apart, we said to ourselves, “first, do no harm.”

I think it would make a big difference.  You see, the reality when it comes to different personalities is that something that annoys you or bugs you about someone isn’t their problem at all.  It’s yours. You have to make the choice to love regardless and to do no harm.  Love is not self-seeking, after all.  When we start picking people apart for their personality, all we are doing is harming them.  It evokes shame and a lack of self-worth.

I think this truth hits so close to home for me because I recently experienced it.  I have definitely been on the side of picking apart, but this time I was picked on.  I could never measure up, could never say the right thing, could never act the right way for this person.  I have never cared too much about what people think, but this was someone I considered a friend picking me to pieces.  I started to feel shame.  I felt worthless, useless, and it was taking it’s toll on me.  The harm was done. Fortunately I have some really great friends and family members who helped me to take a look at what was really going on.  It was extremely eye-opening.  I was hurt, but it was such a good lesson for me.  I am choosing to first do no harm.  If I can take that moment to pause, to choose not to harm, then I can really figure out whose problem it is.

There is a verse in Hebrews that sums this up nicely.  It’s a call to encourage one another daily.  When you feel the need to pick apart, choose not to do harm.  Choose to encourage.  The author of Hebrews says that when we choose that, then we won’t be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  Here is the verse:

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Hebrews 3:13

External Fix-It Remedies

I have been thinking a lot about sin.  Probably because our pastor has been talking a lot about sin at church and how you have to confess and really get rid of it.  It’s more than a decision to try and stop.  And most of the time, you can’t do it yourself.  You need to confess to someone and get some help.

I think so often it’s just easier to keep things to ourselves.  It’s definitely less embarrassing.  I mean, who really wants to admit to someone that they have been doing something wrong?  So we go at it alone.  And we fail.  Then we think back to the time when we didn’t struggle with this sin.  What was different then?  My guess is that we lost sight of what was important; started slacking in some area.  In my life, it’s because I start slacking on my communication with God.  I start going at life all alone without consulting him, without learning about him, without really even talking to him.  It seems to make sense at the time.  And then I mess it all up.  I slip up in some area and sin takes its hold on me.

There is a song I really like called “External Fix-It Remedies” that describes our life as a garden.  We have a great gardener who keeps it looking great and weed free when we trust him with it completely.  (The weeds being the sin.)  But then we decide that we don’t really need the gardener; we can definitely keep it weed free on our own.  How hard can it be?  So we fire the gardener.  Weeds start popping up and we keep ripping off the leaves, but they keep growing.  We don’t know that we need to get at them from the root.  And then, one day, we try to remember how our garden used to look so beautiful.  Oh yeah……the gardener!  He was so good at that!

My point here is that we can’t go it alone.  We need accountability with other people and we need constant communication and dependency on God.  It’s the only way.  We can’t get rid of the sin by just chopping it off at the top, we have to get down to the roots.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Hebrews 12:1

Here are the lyrics to that song I mentioned.  I made my favorite parts bold, just cause I can!

“External Fix-It Remedies” by Matt Wertz

These weeds keep poppin up
I thought I’d killed them all last week
Cause I dowsed them with this poison
Whose label read extra strength
But sure enough they’re still there
Just as sure as they’d been before
Strangling all the flowers
I’d created this garden for

But I’ve tried all the external fix-it remedies
And I’ve exhausted every ounce of my own strength
But until I dig down deep enough to find the root
All I’m doin is, all I’m doin is yankin out the leaves

You say your sin keeps poppin up
You thought you’d killed it all last week
Because you told yourself you’d stop it all
And you prayed that you’d be released
But sure enough it’s still there
Just as sure as it’d been before
Distracting you from righteousness
And rotting out your solid core

Cause you’ve tried all the external fix-it remedies
And you’ve exhausted every ounce of your own strength
But until you dig down deep enough to find the root
All you’re doin is, all you’re doin is yankin out the leaves

My garden was once my favorite part about this town
Its beauty overshadowed all others in this place
You see, I hired a man to care for it and keep it that way
He was the best gardener around

But soon my old pride got to thinkin
About doin’ this job on my own.
I fired the man that perfectly kept it
And that’s when the weeds started a grow’n

Cause I’ve tried all the external fix-it remedies
And I’ve exhausted every ounce of my own strength
But until I dig down deep enough to find the root
All I’m doin is, yankin out the leaves

A Radical Response

Picture this:
Your secretary (or personal assistant, or spouse, or sibling…you get the idea) walks in and says they just read a letter from a co-worker that is very angry with you about something. They say that the letter is scathing and you better read it quick and get back to them.

What do you do? Well, what I would do is read the letter, get really mad about it, then fire off a letter in return, equally as scathing, and really stir the pot. After all, who do they think they are? I mean, are you serious? How are you mad at me about that and why couldn’t you say that to my face? What an idiot!

Obviously, that is the most appropriate way to handle things.

Then I read a book about Abraham Lincoln. Apparently that situation happened to him a lot. You know, someone mad about something that he did as president. But one time in particular, a close associate (I think it was a state governor) was angry with and wrote him a letter to tell him so. His assistant came in and told him about the letter and that he should get to it soon as the guy is very angry.

Lincoln’s response to his assistant? He told him to throw the letter away! He didn’t even read it! I would have been digging that thing out the trash and reading it over and over until I was good and mad! After he told him to throw it away, he sat down and wrote the guy a letter that essentially said three things:

  1. He did him the “great honor” of not reading his letter.
  2. He was sorry if he had offended him in some way; it was not his intention.
  3. He would love to sit down face to face and talk about it.

That’s probably one of the reasons Jon Hay, one of Lincoln’s aids, said, “There is no man in the country, so wise so gentle and so firm. I believe the hand of God placed him where he is.” Or why General Sherman said, “Of all the men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness combined with goodness, than any other.” And then there was Ulysses S. Grant’s opinion: “He was incontestably the greatest man I ever knew.” Finally, Leo Tolstoy sums it up when he says, “Now, why was Lincoln so great the he overshadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skillful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character.”

I don’t know about you, but that is the kind of thing that I want to be remembered for. I want to be remembered as a person of great character. A person who thought before she spoke; whose words brought healing instead of pain. A person who kept short accounts and was more focused on correcting a wrong she had done instead of a person who always had to have the last word.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

Worth It

So if you are going to read this post, I need you to take a minute and decide that you are not going to be judgemental and that you will keep reading even if you get skeptical.

OK…did you get there?

Great, I will continue then.

I just read Twilight again.  (Remember the exercise above!)  I promise this is not a post about Twilight, but something I read in there triggered this thought, so I have to bring it up.  You don’t have to like or care about Twilight to keep reading this post.  So here we go.

So there are these two characters, Bella and Jasper, that are having a conversation.  You need to know that Bella is the main, human, character that is in love with a vampire and is always getting herself in dangerous situations.  Jasper is the vampire brother of the vampire that she is in love with and has the power/gift to control the emotions of people around him.  Like if someone is anxious (Bella always is), he can calm them down.  He can also feel the emotions of the people around him.  In this scene, there are some vampires hunting Bella and Jasper’s whole family is going to fight them.  Bella is opposed to this because she doesn’t want them to get hurt.  They are standing in a room together and this conversation happens (Bella is narrating):

Jasper and I looked at each other.  He stood across the length of the entryway from me . . . being careful.

“You’re wrong, you know,” he said quietly.

“What?” I gasped.

“I can feel what you’re feeling now – and you are worth it.”

“I’m not,” I mumbled. “If anything happens to them, it will be for nothing.”

“You’re wrong,” he repeated, smiling kindly at me.

So this triggered me into another thought.  I so often feel that I am not worth it.  Why does God even waste time on a person like me?  We often say that we are unworthy of God, and we are.  I mean, this is the God that created the whole world.  The God that put every star and galaxy into place with the flick of his little finger.  We are unworthy of that God.  But were we worth it?

This dialogue made me think of God with both of His hands out.  In one hand was a picture of Jesus.  His perfect, sinless, beautiful, kind, loving, only Son.  In the other hand is a picture of me.  Dirty, sinful, arrogant, prideful, constantly messing up, learning the hard way, me.  He literally had to choose.  It doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …

Translation: WORTH IT