Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Life My Purpose



PICTURE THIS: I like the term cherry picking. I used it once out-of-the-blue and find myself using it ever since. I  guess  you could say it’s my go-to phrase. Lately, there has been some discussion in our household about various spiritual topics. Some I understand and embrace, others leave me feeling dazed and confused. So I had to ask myself if I am guilty of cherry pickin’ scripture and spiritual  gifts.

As y’all know, I'm a very open person and if I don't understand something I am not ashamed to admit  it. Honestly, I believe the phrase ‘dumb-it-down’ was created with me in mind. If it can’t be explained simply, don't even try to share it with me – I’ll go into my dazed and confused state and your efforts are lost. 

IT MIRRORS  THIS:  Daily God provides me a new opportunity to simply share my faith, to share Him as  the reason for my hope and joy. And while I may never meet my readers in Portugal, France,  and Russia (by the way ‘hey y’all’ simply means hello) I do have the privilege of sharing Jesus with them just like I do my neighbors here in West Virginia. I may not be familiar with diverse world cultures, but one thing transcends culture: discovering our life’s purpose..

REFLECT ON THIS: Most of us have wondered what we are supposed to be doing with our lives, questioning our purpose.  And what if every Christian’s purpose is to live out Mark 16:15 and share (in love not condemnation) Mark 16:16? What if all that really matters is living a life above reproach, loving our neighbors, sharing the gospel, and serving God with a smile? What if all that really matters about being a Christian is learning to be “salt and light” even in the tough times?

You have that same opportunity. To share your faith and knowledge of Christ with those around you. You have the same opportunity to grow in your faith and knowledge of Christ. Your relationship with Christ is your responsibility. Nobody can grow it for you. It is between the two of you.

THE WAY I SEE IT: I try to avoid  getting bogged down with the religious ins and outs (the nuts and bolts) of Christianity – while they are important, it is not my calling to figure them all out. What I want to do is successfully say, in simple terms “Jesus loves you and so do I.” I want to use the gift of my ordinary, real, everyday life to share the love that  Jesus has for us, all of us, while I still have the opportunity to do so. This post is random and my thoughts need focused (I’ll fix this one later) but for now I want to share this: Serving Christ from a sincere heart is what Christianity is really about. Serving others with love, respect, and human dignity should be our goal. Building our relationship with Him is enhanced when we do this. We can’t be self-serving and expect to grow in Christlike love towards others. Our relationship with Christ is about more than what He can do for us…but about what He can do for others through us.

Have a blessed Sunday y’all –

In Christ with love and compassion,

Coach Kelly
#YourLifeCoachingWV
#WVStrong
#BeyondTheMirror

Sunday, November 20, 2016

About Safety Pins and Fishes


"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:  4-7, ESV).

PICTURE THIS: Last year my apron strap broke and instead of fixing it I pinned it with a large safety pin. I’ve grown accustomed to pinning it up and don’t think too much about it…until yesterday.  Yesterday the pin slipped out of my hands, fell  to the floor, and slid  under the kitchen table. The very table where a diverse group of humankind have dined and laughed, played board games and talked. People labeled by society as drug users, gays, blacks, whites, mixed, red necks, religious nuts, Hispanics and even a German or three…but in our home, we simply call them friends and family.  I used my “Evans’s monkey toes” to move the pin closer and picked it up, such a simple move. Nothing, absolutely nothing, that should motivate a blog post…but then again, God tends to  use simple things to get our attention.

IT MIRRORS THIS:  Recently there has been a movement for the LGBT and other minority individuals to identify with a safe person. Ideally, if someone feels in danger, if they see someone wearing a safety pin, the pinned person is someone to turn to for help or inclusion. And to be honest, when I first heard about this, I shook my head and mumbled out loud about how silly that seemed to me – please keep reading, how this ends will surprise you – and that we should all just get along as human beings without some silly proclamation…and then God

A LITTLE HISTORY: Did you know that Christians used the ICHTHIUS Fish as a safe symbol during times of Roman persecution? Back in that day, followers of Christ would draw half a fish with another individual completing it. This was indicative of a safe place for like-minded folks to safely gather…in other words, it was their safety pin.

REFLECT ON THIS:  Almost daily, I wear a cross necklace. I cannot say for sure why I wear it but I catch myself toying with it when I'm talking or simply listening. But now, I have to ask myself what others, especially non followers of Christ, may think when they see me do this. Are they thinking that they need to be careful of what they say or how they act? Do they think I’m showing off my faith or judging them? I wonder if they feel safe or cautious, loved or rejected by me? 
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THE WAY I SEE IT: Finally my point and a question: Why are we wearing safety pins or displaying fish symbols? What does this mean to the people we are around on a daily basis?  Our neighbors, folks like our coworkers, the Walmart sales clerk, our spouses, to the LGBT or religious human next door?

IF we are flaunting these safe symbols for their intended purpose, a symbol of unity and a place of safety, why in the world is there so much hatred and exclusion in the world?  Why is it so hard for us, all of us, to treat one another with respect as people first and foremost? For us Christians, maybe we’d do well to remember that the same Jesus who sat at supper with the sinners of that day  was the same Christ who was nailed to a cross by the religious brass. Do we fail to love others because we fail to see people like Christ saw them? Rejected and despised  is the phrase found in Isaiah 53 that describes how He was treated by His neighbors. They did it to Him and we are doing it to each other. 

Now for those outside the religious sect: how safe are folks like me around you? Would you exclude me for wearing my cross instead of your safety pin? How likely are you to label me without knowing me as a person? How safe am I with you?

Folks NOW is the time for a new perspective. A perspective that views life and all people as precious. A perspective that recognizes the deep diversity that runs within our America.  A perspective that We the People need to learn in order to see our Neighbors as people without labels. To see one another as living, breathing, flawed, unique, scared, proud, individual PEOPLE.  And I don’t care if we choose to wear a safety pin or a fish: if we are wearing our beliefs on our chest we need to ask ourselves why. Is it  to let all humankind know they are safe with us? If so,  then by all means, we should continue to do so…BUT if it is a symbol of exclusion, then we ought not own any of the above…let alone put them on. 

Personally, I think it's time for all of us to take off our self-righteous, hypocritical cloaks and expose our skin of humanity. It's time for us to stop making life about safety pins and fishes and more about loving our neighbors as we love  ourselves.

In Christ with love and compassion,

Coach Kelly

#YourLifeCoachingWV
#WVStrong


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fine China or plastic plate?

I still remember when my  daughters broke my 'good plates'. First Jerri-Mae broke my coveted blue-heart sponge painted bowls in one fell-swoop, shortly after,  Tee broke the entire stack of matching dinner plates. Years later, Jilli broke the 'new' plates, fresh from the dishwasher; I swear those things jumped right out of her hands! So between our three girls, our dinner plates were at a minimum.

In 2009, we were having several folks in for Thanksgiving dinner and I swear, it was the Wednesday before when I realized that we didn't have enough plates.  I called John at the golf course in panic mode and asked him to pick up some white plates - just plates. He didn't question me and came home with plain white plates...straight from the Dollar Tree! And let me tell you, I was one happy momma.

Years later, we still eat supper off those Dollar Tree plates, even though they are warped from the dishwasher and microwave with a chip or two around the edges. And every time we pull them from the cupboard, John and I laugh at our taco-shaped plates.  I guess I should be embarrassed to serve guests off them but I'm not. The way I see it, the most important people in my world dine off these plates day-in-and-day-out, so if they are good enough for them...?

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Recently, our youngest daughter tagged me in on Facebook post, a song about momma's table. And it made me cry. It was an honest reflection of our home's family table.  And for some reason, I thought of our  plates...surely our family table deserves to be set in style, gussied up to look as beautiful as those gathered around it...but then the Holy Spirit...you gotta love His practical way of reminding us what is important!

He reminded me that those old plates resemble each of us: chipped but not broken, a little warped but unique, not perfect but, by God's grace, able to be washed up white as snow, called to serve a specific, practical, purpose. We can be beautiful to look at but untouchable (where is the practicality in that?);  or we can be exactly who God (and life) formed us to be: a little different, a little unique, but willing to serve and invite others to dine with us in the Kingdom.
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As I am writing this post, I smile as I hear my three grandchildren playing on the front porch, they just ate lunch on colorful plastic plates right from Walmart...and they couldn't be happier. They are happy and content, bellies full of left over spaghetti, but their happiness didn't come from what they ate or what they ate it from...their happiness comes from knowing that they were served with love.

If God has called you out to serve Him, don't wait to get the best of what you think you need - He will use you just as you are - you only need to serve with love.  No matter how hard we try to fool Him with a perfect presentation...He sees beyond the exterior and looks directly into the heart. Only you can determine if and how you want to serve Him...but I know that He will equip you to get the job done...no matter if you look more like a simple plastic plate or the best of fine China.

"Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Morning Coming Down


"In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land" (Psalm 95:4-5. ESV)

Any of you remember this old country song full of gloom and remorse? I can picture the mess this guy finds himself in...and although I'm glad it's him instead of me...I can still, somehow, feel his pain and wish I could help him find true peace...

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None of us have a  picture perfect life. There's always something needing cleaned or fixed; bills in the in-box, some one or some thing to seriously pray over...but even still, I can't think of any one's life role that I'd trade mine for...mostly because I know there my cracks and crevices are, the pitfalls to avoid and the mountains I can climb. 

We all have them ya know? Those peaks and valleys in front of us, some to be embraced others to be sidestepped.  Lord knows that I've found myself down in a ditch wondering how in the world I got there and if I'd ever get out. But I've also been on top of a mountain...wondering how long I got to stay.

How about you? Do you typically find yourself embracing the life you've been given or wishing it away? Are you trying to make the world around you a better place or merely survive? 

If you feel like you are living out the lyrics to this old song, maybe it's time to climb a new mountain; time to climb out of the ditch, shake off the dust, and set your eyes on a new destination. Change can be scary, 
but over the years I've discovered that a good scare gets our heart beating faster and changes our perspective...and sometimes, oddly enough, can actually make us laugh.

So as this Sunday morning comes down, I wish for you to find a mountain to climb and that you'll enjoy the journey...even if that mountain is simply the side of a ditch you're climbing out of!

Hey y'all, have a blessed Sunday!

In Christ with love and compassion,

Coach Kelly
 #WVSTRONG #YourLifeCoachingWV #BeyondTheMirror

Thursday, November 10, 2016

That Ole Vet and Me



On this Veterans Day:
To the men and women serving or have served in our armed forces  I appreciate what you do for us and the sacrifice you've made.  With that in mind, I'd like to tell a story from my teenage years about an Ole Vet and me.

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"12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" 

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It was my first real job right out of high school. I was working as a nurses' aide at Grant Memorial Hospital when I met Ralph. He said he was just an Ole Vet, but I thought he should have added the word mean in there somewhere. He was not an easy patient. And for some reason, he really didn't like me. I couldn't do anything right. I was too young. I was a girl. I was this and I was that. And he let me know real fast that I was too incompetent to be his aide. 

SO...because I was young, and because I wasn't feeling a lot of love for Ralph either, and because the orderly was right there, I decided that it was okay for me to avoid him. And I tried my best to do just that. His call light would come on and I'd find an orderly, then stand just outside Ralph's door. I was willing to assist from the hallway and it sort of worked out. But one night that Ole Vet insisted I come to his room...alone. At first, I declined telling the orderly I'd help but I would not go in alone. Ralph, however, insisted that I was the only one he wanted. And I was not happy about that, but...because it was my job...and because he was a patient...and because my mom would have killed me for disrespecting a patient especially a veteran, into that room I went. And my worldview was forever changed.

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I had the words I would use planned out: Yes sir. No sir. Okay. How can I help you? Do you need more water? Y'all know the quote about mice and men and the plans they make? Yeah...so did that Ole Vet. He had his own plan and it went down like this:

Me: How can I help you?
Ralph: "I am sorry for being mean to you."
Me: "That's okay."
Ralph: "There's something about you I don't like."
Me: "Okay...sorry about that."
Ralph: "Can I tell you something?"
Me: "Yes sir."
Ralph: "You make me want to talk."
Me: "Okay...?"
Ralph: "That's why I don't like you coming in here. I don't want to talk."
Me: "Uh...okay."
Ralph: "I really don't want to talk..."

I watched as that Ole Vet's eyes focused on the closet door and then he drifted off into the past…and he started talking, telling me a story...his story. A story that I will never-ever forget.

His story had my seventeen-year-old self in silent tears as it bonded us together forever. A story that broke down generational and personal walls while thawing my heart, revealing a lot of compassion for that Ole Vet. A story that, as the weeks passed by, made me Ralph's aide and him my friend. He never spoke of that night to me again nor I to him. But he was my patient and he helped me learn how to become a good aide. And months later, I was there holding his head as he took his final breath. I was glad to be  there for him till the end, it allowed me to add a new ending to his story: a peaceful one. Over the years, I've shared Ralph's story with my own family. And now I share it with you. I retell his story for a lot of reasons....one so that he will not be forgotten and two because we all have a defining story.

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You see, each of us has something in our past that makes us who we are today. Be that person kind or bitter; nice or unfriendly; weak or strong. And this something has power over us. Like Ralph, when we tell our story, when we trust God with it, its power is either unleashed or broken. Ralph didn't like me because, by his own admission, there was something about me that made him want to trust me with his story. A story he wanted to forget but one that wouldn't let him go. He was hoping that I'd understand him better and then, hopefully, offer him a little compassion. Compassion that in all reality, before he shared his story, I wasn't able to offer. I was too geared to taking folks at face value, unable to see beyond their exterior. 

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You know, there are many Ralph-like  people out there...thousands of them sitting around our neighborhoods frozen by fear at the thought of breaking chains of bondage or of unleashing God's power in their lives. 

And then there are people like my teenage self. People willing to see beyond the bitterness, willing  to see others the way God sees them. People willing to listen to your story.  

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Ralph’s story was about his time in war. A story that was so graphic and still so real to him that when he was done, he looked over at me as if he'd forgotten I was even there. And from that night on, during my work shifts...we didn't have to talk at all, we just knew that his story was still between us and that it had opened my heart of compassion for him. For Ralph and I, just knowing that I was willing to listen when he didn't want to talk was enough; and that it was okay to communicate in silence as just that Ole Vet and me.

In Loving Memory of Ralph: As long as I live, you will not be forgotten. 
Rest easy Ole Vet...rest easy...Dreama

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Unpeaceful Holidays?

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"
(Philemon 1:3, ESV).


So much for sleeping in...so here I sit sipping apple cinnamon tea from my favorite Christmas mug, reading my favorite Bible...and thinking about y'all...my Neighbors.  

For me, I feel God's peace during the early morning hours, it seems to blanket the world around me like a fresh fallen snow. And maybe it is the Hallmark Christmas movies I've been watching but I am enjoying getting ready for the holidays. But truth be told, Thanksgiving is my favorite.

BUT I know that a lot of you are already dreading the holiday season...and many of you certainly have good reason. 

With that said, I would like to pray for you.

Just send me an e-mail (yourlifecoachingwv@gmail.com)  and in the subject line write PEACE and I will be praying for you throughout these next couple months.  There is no need for specifics*. 

My prayer will be for you to find peace, for God to wrap His loving arms around you, and for His peace to overcome any hurt, strife, stress, pain, hurtful memory, or fear you are feeling.

That's it, no strings attached. I just want you to know that you will not be alone this year...with just one email, you will be on God's mind and in my prayers.

In Christ with love and compassion,
Coach Kelly

#YourLifeCoachingWV

*All prayer requests will be kept confidential 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Just a Memory...sometimes colorful, sometimes stark, othertimes bittersweet...yet someday it will be: Just a Memory



I grew up near Dolly Sods Wilderness. And honestly, pictures do not do it justice. It is one of those rare places that you truly have to experience in order to fully appreciate. We locals have watched the terrain bathed in full green of Kalmia latifolia known to us simply as Mountain Laurel (I so had to look that up!), huckleberry vines in their peak color of deep burgundy, to snow in late summer (natures sure-fire way to calm the dust).  


Like most locals, I have some very colorful memories of summertime trips across the top with my dad and nieces. Even a couple from failed wintertime attempts to see how far an old Ford can get (locals and some extremely surprised tourists understand).  But I'd be remiss if I even pretended that all my memories of The Sods were colorful. Some are stark...some bittersweet...some very sad.


Yet even with these black-and-white stories, we locals still love The Sods and choose to go up a couple times a year just to see it in color. 


Shouldn't we see God like this?


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Each of us see God from a personal perspective. Maybe as the Creator who is unreachable (stark). The One who allows(ed) bad things to come into our lives instead of shielding us or our loved ones from the pain. Maybe as a stark God who doesn't want us to have any fun or enjoy life. 

Then there are those who say they always see God in color. As the Creator who is always near, smiling down with arms wide open. The God who has given them a heart of unwavering faith complete with joy and peace.


But then...there are the rest of us. 

Those of us who will admit seeing God in bittersweet color. Color that 
fades into black-and-white and back again...just maybe not as bright, more sepia-like than before.

I would love to say that we should always see God in full color, with open arms full of comfort and acceptance; to only see Him with eyes shining bright with love and joy. But honestly, that would make us something other than human and where's the logic in that? 

Ya see, when we look at God through a personal relationship, that perspective changes everything. But luckily for us...His perception of us never changes. He loves us unconditionally. And even on those stark days, He is on the peripheral, waiting for us to return to Him. Even when we get mad at Him, even when we don't trust Him, even on those days when we can't feel Him...He's still there. 

I know of some folks who can only see God in black and white. Right or wrong. Here or not. And to me personally, that is so sad.  Each of us have experienced stuff that hit us full force, making our heart hurt, making us cry, bleed, or get angry. But to what extent should real-life events have on our relationship with God?  Should they warp our ability to see Him as the Creator who gave us Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Should we allow real-life, hurting people, spiritual battles, religious nuts, chameleons even, to change how we see God?


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Y'all, I know first hand how hard it is to see life in bittersweet color. With that black-and-white, stark reality so fresh in mind.  And I know how easy it is to get mad at God, to question Him. BUT...

I once had someone say to me "Dreama, you really believe this stuff...don't you?"  And my answer was a resounding "Yes. I believe that God is looking out for me no matter what." There was a look of disbelief on the guy's face that told me he thought I was a fool.  Looking back now, I know that the reason I am able to see life in bittersweet color is because I know in my heart that even during the darkest of times, times when I didn't feel like believing, times when I couldn't see or feel God...Jesus was always in my picture. And that eventually, life events, sometimes colorful, sometimes stark, and other times plain ole bittersweet, would eventually become just a memory.

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Wishing y'all a blessed weekend,

In Christ with love and compassion, 

Coach Kelly

#YourLifeCoaching #BeyondTheMirror #WVStrong

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

And then Jesus said: "Dear God, what did I get myself into..."

Photo Credit: B. Mathias (Mathias WV).

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." (Revelation 3:20, NIV)

This past week during Sunday School, I used my youngest daughter as an example of a parent's love for their child. Standing in front of Jillian, I symbolically dared anyone who meant to do her harm to come through me. If you are a parent, you can imagine you'd have this same reaction if anyone were truly trying to harm your child, either emotionally or physically.

In class we were talking about being a peculiar people and how we are to bring love and light to our communities. And I thought of Jesus in the garden, asking God to release Him from the task He had agreed to. Somewhat pleading for a different way to offer mankind a chance for a holy life and eternal security. I thought of Jesus on the cross asking God why He had forsaken Him...The lesson went on and we talked at length about the first and second chapters of 1 Peter and the lesson was done...but the Holy Spirit wasn't.

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This morning, as I was driving home from taking AJ to school, I started thinking about what it means to go through Christ to reach God. My mind wandered back to Sunday and how one of the adults reminded us that it wasn't Jesus that God couldn't look upon, it wasn't His Son that He turned His back on...it was the sin that was cast upon Jesus, the sin of all mankind (Habakkuk 1:131 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5).

And then it hit me. When we go through Jesus, He is literally absorbing our uncleanliness. But unlike the way I stood between my class and Jillian, He stands between us and God offering us a way to reach the Father.  During Jesus death, the temple veil was torn in two - split from top to bottom - creating an opening for the common man to reach God. And in that space stands Jesus. Standing in the gap making intercession, paving the way, inviting us to go through Him, to absorb His righteousness and His perfect strength as we go boldly to God in prayer. 

Sunday's lesson was a great eye opener for me on the way Jesus felt in the garden when He asked for a different way (Luke 22:42),  when He felt forsaken and cried out on the cross (Matthew 27:46), and how He not only forgave us (Luke 23:34) but made a way for access to God (John 14:6; Luke 23:44-46).

In Christ with love and compassion,

Coach Kelly


#BeyondtheMirror #YourLifeCoachingWV #WVStrong


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