Jacking My Swag – How To Be Me In 50 Steps Or Less

How to be Kelsey Harding – Nov 2012 edition

In the past few months there have been several new “red-heads” (aka RED hair people – not gingers) on campus.  Quite a few people have talked to me about them.  These people say things like “They’re just trying to be you!”  While I laugh at those comments, it made me wonder… What would someone have to do to try to be me?  So I’ve made you a guide to being Kelsey (cuz you totally needed one).

1.  Take equal parts of Manic Panic Rock N Roll Red and Vampire Red hair dye, mix together and apply to hair.  Leave on overnight, then wash out, and proceed to have 34 people ask you if you did something with your hair.

2. Fill your closet with shirts that are mostly purple, blue, turquoise, and navy.  Wear them with denim, gray, or black pants.

3.  Eat wayyy too much candy.

4. Freak out about bad breath and the health of your teeth and over compensate in oral hygiene.   Wake up, brush teeth, tongue, and cheeks, use mouth wash, apply burts bees, use travel size listerine periodically throughout the day (usually around 10 times), brush teeth mid afternoon, use travel sized listerine another 10 times throughout the evening, brush teeth, tongue, and cheeks at night, floss, rinse with mouth wash, and rinse with hydrogen peroxide, mix a little bit of sugar with water, use homemade sugar scrub to exfoliate lips, rinse lips, apply a light coating of water to lips, apply petrolium jelly to newly exfoliated and damp lips, go to bed.

5. Be the most predictable woman ever and fawn over videos of babies and puppies… then go on pinterest for an unnecessary amount of time.

6. Put hot sauce on all your food.  It’s the only way to survive life in the cafeteria.

7. Watch the following tv shows:  Modern Family, Once Upon A Time, Happy Endings, New Girl, Switched At Birth, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Ink Master, Face Off, The League, America’s Next Top Model, and Glee.

8. Memorize the lines to The Princess Bride, That Thing You Do, Two Weeks Notice, and While You Were Sleeping… then proceed to use them in every day conversation without people realizing it “You’re talkin jibberish!”

9. Perk up the second you hear the word “Vikings” then proceed to say “VIKINGS!” under your breath but just loud enough that most people around you can hear.  Even if you’re in history class and learning about historical Vikings…. You love the Minnesota Vikings too much to ignore an opportunity like that.

10.  Observe what mediocre things are going on in your life right now, think of how it would look if it was on sitcom, write down that situation, pull out a thesaurus to change words so you sound more intelligent, add a witty punch line, there’s your facebook status.

11. Stop eating meat.  Just do it.  Research the health benefits so you can defend yourself.  Then watch a whole bunch of videos on PETA’s website.  Now try to eat meat again.  Proceed to feel sick the rest of the night.  Congratulations, you’re now a vegetarian.

12. Organize your email into about 15 subcategories.  Make sure it’s color coordinated too.  Proceed to wonder why your coworkers marvel at your organizational skills

13. Roll your eyes at every cheesy, inspirational Christianese quote you hear… Then read pretty much the same thing in your 500 devotional books you read every night before bed and tear up the whole time.  Inconsistency is the best.

14. Crack every joint and knuckle you can.

15. Always take the 10:05am shuttle to chapel.  Yes chapel starts at 10:00am.  But look at it this way.  This leaves an open seat for someone else on the 9:50am shuttle and an open seat in the chapel for them too.  You get 15 extra minutes to get ready, you still scan in on time, and you get to sit on the floor in the back so you’re the first one out at the end.  Win win.  All you miss is a couple announcements and maybe a song.

16. Spritz perfume on your hair before you go to sleep.  Hair holds the smell of perfume better than clothes/skin, and letting it sit overnight keeps the smell from being over-powering.  Then you can use your 1 spritz for your wrists, neck, shirt, or what have you the next day and still have nice smelling hair.

17.  Lay out your outfit the night before and shower the night before too.  You’re going to oversleep substantially in the morning no matter what you tell yourself.  You don’t want to be deciding your outfit in the morning when you’re half awake and only have 15 minutes to get ready.

18. Never underestimate the power of a Shakespearean sonnet.  Buy a mini book of all his sonnets and carry it around with you on a bad day.

19. Fat. Ugly. Stupid.  The 3 qualities that make the perfect dream pet.  Bulldogs, pugs, raccoons, pigs, and skunks all fall under this category.  Their patheticness will become endearing to you.

20.  Squirrels.  Better than facebook, tv, twitter, and your great aunt’s apple pie.  Spend time alone watching the squirrels.  You’ll instantly be in a good mood.

21.  Get a tattoo and a couple piercings.  I’d advise getting them with your parents foreknowledge… but if you want to be JUST like Kelsey… you’ll probably conveniently “forget” to tell them and they’ll probably end up finding out later on when your little brother lifts up your shirt and asks “WHAT’S THAT!?” whilst pointing at your ink/piercing right in front of them.

22. Become addicted to kisses and hugs and the sweet sweet love of your two youngest brothers.

23. Sit in bed and watch t.v. at nights with your parents when you’re back home.

24. You know that tomboyish quiet girl who’s dating your ex?  She’s gonna be your best friend, she’ll be a little crazy at times, and she’s going to kick that tomboy look in the pants.

25. Bite your nails.

26. Develop several “hard to explain” “can’t make a long story short” medical conditions.

27. Noodles. Bubble tea. Skittles. Whoppers. Chipotle. Pace Salsa. Vinegar. Pickles. and Domino’s Brooklyn style pizza.

28. Gag reflex?  Thing of the past.  The amount of time you’ll spend brushing the back of your tongue in fear of bad breath will end up getting rid of your gag reflex.  So much for trying to make yourself throw up that chicken wing your friends convinced you to eat and now is psyching you out into feeling sick.

29. Tea can be mighty powerful.  It does a good job of calming down an anxiety attack.  Stick with loose leaf

30. You love kids, cooking, football, fishing, and muscle cars.  Don’t tell the guys that though.  That can be a problem.

31. No one’s home?  Throw on some spandex, bust out the biggest belches you can muster, sing like you’re deaf, and start baking!

32. Everyone is your “new best friend”  be sure to know the difference between a “new best friend” and our real best friend.  Hint: A new best friend is often a 3-year-old you saw on a video on youtube and not someone you actually had the chance to be a best friend with.

33. You were a theater geek at one point.  Don’t forget all those lessons you learned in drama practice, acting lessons, and theater classes.  They come in handy.

34. You will always say “pop” not “soda”  Unless of course the person your talking to will make fun of you or have no idea what you’re saying… then quick!  Catch yourself and say soda!

35. Never give definitive answers unless you’re positive you can back them up.  You hate making promises you cant keep/going back on your word.  Don’t mess with that stuff.

36. Develop a case of the eternal, ever-so-timely, loudest hiccups ever known to mankind.  Proceed to hiccup at the absolute worst moments possible.

37. Stop eating breakfast.  Yeah, Kelsey doesn’t do that.

38. There is never such a thing as “too much Taco Bell”  Don’t forget to save the extra sauce packets for the cafeteria!

39.  Live for awkward moments.  Life isn’t complete without them.

40.  Tell “funny” stories NO ONE wants to listen to in the least funny way possible… then mumble to yourself about how no one is listening.

41. Use “Your Mom” jokes at any chance you get.  They are still funny.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

42. Have an extensive list of nicknames you’ve collected over the years.  My personal list includes (but is not limited to): Koolie, Bessy, Beans, Gecko, Klessy, Cowsey, Paris, Cows, Kelso, Red, ATL, Hotlanta

43. You’re super ticklish.  Deal with it.

44. Speaking of ticklish.  Whenever someone touches my neck/shoulders the left side of my body gets goosebumps and I lose all ability to focus.  You’ll have to adapt this ability if you want to be me.

45. Day dream constantly about being a mother someday… then proceed to tell yourself you’ll be single forever.

46. Countdowns rock.  Always use countdowns for everything.  28 days to the Hobbit. 74 days to my birthday.  Things like that.

47.  Your inner Kelsey is at war with herself.  She can’t decide if she is more of a “IN MY BUBBLE” person or a “touchy feely” person.  She’s both.  Now act out life as if you’re going back and forth between the two.

48.  Be able to do a couple cool body tricks.  Show them off at parties and things.

49. “Challenge Accepted” is the motto of your life.

50. Last, but not least, change all of your personal information (name, date of birth, social security number, address, etc.) to mine.

TADA!  Now you’re Kelsey!


“You Wronged Me… And I’m Okay With That”

Think about that person… You know who I’m talking about.  The one you love to hate.  The best friend who back-stabbed you.  The girl who cheated on you.  The guy who didn’t care that you said “stop.”  The father who was never there for you.  The mother who would rather perfect you than love you.  Go ahead.  Think about how much it hurt.  Think about how angry it makes you.  And think about forgiving them.

Yeah, I’m going there.  Forgiving that person you can’t forgive.  Um, hello.  Welcome to my life.   This is something I’ve struggled with FOR YEARS and now I’m talking about it.

I thought about it.  I thought about all the terrible things that people have done to me.  And I realized that a lot of those people are Christians.  And those sins that were done against me, are covered by Christ’s blood and God’s grace.  Those who aren’t Christians… They could be my brothers and sisters in Christ one day and the same rule applies to them.

The worst wrongs ever done to me.  God says to them “I forgive you.  I do not hold this against you.” So why can’t I say that?  I hated thinking this.  I knew I didn’t forgive these people and yet God could.

But then I thought… I’m no saint and I’m sure anyone who has known me well enough could agree with that.  You know those people that get up in front of church/chapel/small group/etc and say “I am a sinner.  I am not perfect.” and the crowd nods and murmurs “amen” while they think about how they themselves are not perfect?   Yeah, well I’m the person that gets up, says “I am a sinner.  I am not perfect.” and every person in the crowd that knows me laughs and says “I know that’s right!”

I know I have hurt people.  I know I have wronged people.  But I also know that God has forgiven me for that, and that grace?  That undeserved gift?  That mercy?  I didn’t do anything special to earn it… and neither did those people that have wronged me.  It is completely WRONG that I should receive the gift that Christ’s death has given me, but you know what else is wrong?  The fact that I accept it for myself but don’t think it should apply to those people.

God is good, merciful, and forgiving.  Maybe I think those people shouldn’t be forgiven, but hey, neither should I.  And you know what else?  This world does not matter.  It is not what is important.  I am waiting for the better days of life to come in heaven.  And one day all the mess and crap of this world will be gone. One day, it will not matter that you hurt me and I think that is a beautiful prospect.   I cannot wait for the day that this world passes and it’s just God and His kingdom.

To all the people I’ve held grudges against… to those who apologized and never hear me utter these words… I am sorry and I forgive you.  I understand that what you did was wrong and yeah, you hurt me.  But God is greater than my pain and my hope is in Him.  I hope you have found your freedom in Him as well and that I can one day stand side by side with you and we can praise Him together.

Thinking like this has really helped me understand the cross more… It’s one thing to feel the weight of my sin and guilt, but it is a whole ‘nother thing to think that through the cross that person that wronged me the most can be made my brother/sister in Christ – that we can be reconciled together as forgiven creations of God.  Like seriously, holy cow God is good.  I would love nothing more to be able to look that person in the eye and not only be able to say “I forgive you” but also be able to rejoice with them in the fact that Christ has forgiven them as well.   God is good ALL THE TIME and I’m glad He does not turn people away who ask for His forgiveness like I have.

You know, I once thought “There’s no way I could ever forgive them for what they did to me…” but silly me I forgot that “I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.”

It’s Been Another Year

November the 7th.  Back again.  I was hoping that this year I wouldn’t think about it, and that one day I’d be like “Oh… isn’t that day coming up?”  Only to discover it had passed several days ago.

Only it didn’t.

I was sitting in class.  I wrote down the date on my notes and was tracing over it with my pen… and it hit me.  11/7.  So much for paying attention in class?  I couldn’t focus.  My mind was consumed.  I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone.  I wanted to get away and get alone as soon as possible.

But I really couldn’t.  There was a snow storm today so I couldn’t be outside, my roommates were all in the apartment, and there was no way I was going to hash out these issues in the silent library.   There was just no where to be alone.

So I distracted myself.  I stuck with someone who helped me keep my mind off of it for most of the evening.  And I was blessed by friends with kind words of encouragement and a wonderful, perfectly-timed cup of hot chocolate.  (I’m really beginning to think that my love language is, in fact, food.)

Yeah, there have been times today that I’ve questioned whether or not to take a second shower because I needed to cry… (and I HATE crying)  There have been moments that I have gone into other worlds, consumed in thought about it all.  There have been moments that I’ve muttered strings of four-lettered-words under my breath in bitterness because not only did something happen that I didn’t ask for and that I tried to stop… but it is also still a part of my life today.   “Hey cool… You weren’t invited. Oh, even better!  You’re not leaving.” (more four-lettered words…Lime, Ruby, Sand, Work… )

But today… as crappy as it has been mentally and emotionally… today was better than last year.   Last year I was in the fetal position on the floor of my apartment doing the ugly cry after I had written out everything I was thinking and feeling on paper.

It’s been two years.  I wrote this post last year at this time and while I do experience a lot of that from time to time… I’m so happy with the progress I’ve made.

I’m not as sour at people for being sympathetic or trying to be encouraging… I really appreciate it.

I feel more comfortable with talking about it, which I needed.

I’ve been having fewer panic attacks… thank GOD!

And I really feel like I’m healing.

But the two most important things?  I’ve found myself again and I’ve found peace with God.

I don’t know why bad things happen… why there’s evil… why God allows it to exist.  But I do know that God loves me and wants what’s best for me.  And what would be better for me?  To have a perfect/harmless life?  Or to wrestle with God in order to understand and know Him more?  I think I’m better off with Him than I am with this earthly life.

And myself.  I’m so glad to be back.  I’m glad to feel stable again.. to feel like I can freely give out hugs without fear again.. to feel confidence, joy, and beauty in myself again… to be making decisions in prayer and thorough examination and not just fear anymore..  I love it.

Today sucks.  The world sucks.  Sin sucks.  Evil sucks.  November the 7th sucks.

But my God is good and He’s making His face shine down upon me today and I cannot thank or praise Him enough for that and the progress I’ve made.  Hallelujah

My Thoughts On 9/11 – That Have Nothing To Do With Nationalism, Air Planes, or Terrorists.

I remember the day well, as most people do.  I remember the sadness, the fear, and frankly the confusion that I felt.  It’s a hard concept for a 9-year-old to wrap their mind around, but I understood that it was a horrifying tragedy.   Every year on the anniversary of the day I never know how to feel.

I want to jump on the bandwagon and post a status on facebook about today, but I fear that the more “facebook cause” like statuses that get posted, the more this day becomes like the “repost this if you’re against animal cruelty” photos that go around and that does an injustice to this day.  I would tweet something about being proud to be an American or how our nation has pulled together because of this, but let’s be honest, our country today is not what it was 11 years ago.   So then I turn to think about the day…

As the daughter of a pilot, I am reminded of the civilian tragedy side of 9/11.   Families who lost loved ones that were just doing their job or going about their normal lives.  And I think of all the families who’s main provider lost their job due to the airline industry falling apart.

As the daughter/granddaughter of veterans and the sister of an army soldier, I am reminded of the war on terrorism.   I think of the countless soldiers who gave their lives in service and the families who suffered loss, whether it was a life or just time without their loved one.

But this year, a new side of 9/11 sticks out to me that I want you to think about too.   Something else has captured my thoughts.   Last year, I was trying to convince myself it didn’t effect me.  But this year, as someone living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (and acknowledging it), I find myself thinking of those who struggle with PTSD as result of 9/11.

Over 10,000 people are said to have PTSD as a result of 9/11 and that number does not include the soldiers who have fought in the war on terror.  It’s easy to dismiss this, but I want to shed some light on the topic.

Imagine having to relive the worst day of your life over and over in your head.  The thoughts just waiting to be freed any second.  It could be a smell, the tone of someone’s voice, the face of a stranger that remarkably resembles the woman who was standing next to you at the time, the way a branch scrapes across your skin on your morning walk, a certain set of words, or emotions you feel about a completely unrelated event that can set you off.  Suddenly you’re swamped with thoughts. You may be in the middle of the mall, but your mind is back there.  You may be in a meeting at work, and your emotions start running wild.  You could be sitting in the back of a car out with friends, and your body starts sliding into a panic attack.

It’s scary, it’s embarrassing, and it’s just hard.  It’s not something I would wish on anybody, not even my worst enemies.

To think, we’re reminded of the tragedy of 9/11 every now and then, but to those thousands of people 9/11 has become a part of their life.  Those firefighters, witnesses, policemen, and survivors.  They have lived with 9/11 for 11 years.

Beyond the debilitating nature of the disorder, I especially think of the guilt that comes with it.  The “Why did I survive and he didn’t?” guilt.  The “I only witnessed it.  I wasn’t actually in the midst of it.” guilt.  The “My family and friends are tired of me talking about this” guilt.  or the “Why can’t I just get over it?” guilt.  And piling 11 years on top of it… that’s just torture.

I am beyond thankful for the many counselors and therapists who have helped the 9/11 PTSD victims cope with their symptoms.  To be honest, it is debated whether or not PTSD really ever goes away, and I’m sure for a lot of them, being 11 years removed from the event, they can say they no longer struggle with it or that they have come to a place where they find their symptoms quite manageable.  At the same time, there are many who struggle with PTSD who see 11 years as nothing compared to how long they’ve dealt with it.  Even if they have learned to handle the symptoms, keep in mind that memories like that don’t just go away.

So today, as you remember those who have died, those who have lost loved ones, and those who have fought because of the events that took place on September 11th, don’t forget the PTSD victims in your thoughts and prayers as well.

God bless our nation and God help us all.


Being a counseling major and taking a lot of psychology classes, I often run into a concept called “internal vows.”  These are promises we make to ourselves or rules we live our lives by, often used as a coping mechanism or a way of protecting ourselves.  So I wondered what kinds of vows I make to myself.  I discovered that most of my “vows” were refusals.  So I compiled them together into a list.  I am not saying that all of these are healthy, I am not saying that I still live by all of these, and, of those I do live by, I am not saying I do a very good job of it either.   Some of them are very old ones I have grown out of, some are very old ones I still stick by today, and some are very new.

I refuse…

-to stay put
-to not be heard
-to be a doormat
-to be seen as nagging
-to live like life is a formula
-to think I am not important
-to not take control of my life
-to let you see how you’ve hurt me
-to give you the chance to hurt me
-to sit in a cycle of problems I can fix
-to conform to what you want me to be
-to make foolish decisions in order to be “nice”
-to pick at the little problems I should let go of
-to let my anger control my tongue… ˅ or if it does ˅
-to be immature by plastering the internet with my emotions.
(There are SO many blog drafts I’ve deleted because of this rule)
-to EVER have anyone hear me verbally disrespecting my parents
-to make guarantees or ultimate refusals that you can hold against me
-to be sucked into a situation where I am stuck feeling like I’m not myself
-to not step up to a role I have the capability, resources, and desire to fill
-to be an unnecessary problem, annoyance, or hindrance to someone else
-to be disappointed in ways I’ve been before and should have learned from

(yes, I had to structure it into a pyramid… haha)  These are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head, so I know I left some out, but it was interesting to see what makes me tick the way I do.  I wonder what kinds of effects these vows have had on my life… or why some rules could cause me to break another, and yet I choose to follow both.  It’s just all around interesting.

What are some rules that you live YOUR life by?

A Great Romance

There is a man who loves me.
Cherishes me.  Pursues me.
I haven’t always appreciated him.
And still he fights for me.
I was disgraced.  Justice burned in his heart.
I was rebellious.  Sadness welled in his eyes.
I was broken.  Determination set on his face.
He rose up.  Left everything behind.
Disregarding expectations.
He gave up all life had for him.
And he chose to stand by my side.
He romanced me.  Spoke of the life we could have together.
He promised all he had for me.
He told me stories of his home and his dad.
Said he couldn’t wait to take me there.
He was beautiful. He loved without bound.
But there was something wrong.
He knew I wasn’t ready.  He knew I needed help.
I could not just give my heart over in the state it was in.
I was not ready to go home with him.
I was not prepared for his intimate love.
I was not prepared for his father to see me.
He knew what stood in my way.
My enemies.  My past.
And he said “I can handle it.”
I was ready to just give up,
But he knew he could take it on.
He pursued me beyond what any love had done before.
My heart sealed away in chains,
He entered the great romance.
And every assailant attacking me took it out on him.
He beared the pain, the weight, the grief.
His father turned away.
He said, “Give it all to me.” And took it to his death.
And with his blood, my heart flew free.
He stands against every attack on me, his bride to be.
He is the greatest lover who cherishes and delights in me.
He makes me beautiful in my disgrace.
He pursues me to any end.
He is the love of my life.
He wrote our ultimate love story.
He is my comfort, my life, my groom.
He is the King of kings.

The Painting II

A little over a year ago I wrote a poem…err, free verse stanza….uhh, spoken word… ugh.. I piled together some words under the title of “The Painting

The post didn’t get many views… in fact it only got 12.. Which is nothing considering the fact that my most popular post has had 4,638 views (thanks google).   It’s funny though, because “The Painting” is one of the most personal pieces I’ve ever written.  It may not be transparent (because it’s a whole lot of symbolism) but it is VERY personal to me.

It is how I viewed my life at the time… And still how I often view it today.

It’s always been a painting in my head, never actually realized.  There were times I thought about actually painting it… but I never have been able to realize that.  Until today.

I walked into A.C. Moore, and they had a sale on canvases for $10.00.  Mind you, canvases can be pretty expensive.  As soon as I saw that, I knew I had to act on it.  I bought the canvas… along with some cheap paints and brushes, and went to work.

Bright red. Bold. Jagged edges.
Deep purple. Dragged across the paper. Streaked.
Grey. Sponged on. Like a hazy cloud.
Tan. A thick line. Straight through.
Black. One hand print. Covering all the colors.
Step back. See the whole picture.
The artist discards the work into a vat of paint.
Then picks it up again.
The deep blue paint from the vat drenches the canvas.
And slides down the painter’s hands and arms.
He steps back and observes.
What to make of it?

No, it’s not meant to be pretty.

Yes, the painting is very crude.

Sure, you can interpret the painting however you wish, even though I did create it with one meaning in mind.

It’s abstract.  It’s symbolic.  It’s not meant to look nice.  It’s meant to mean something.  And it means something to me.

I thought I would add in a basic explanation of the painting.  Someone asked me about it last night, so I’m generalizing some of the statements I said to them and putting it here.

-The red is anger, deep seeded anger, which is why its the bottom color.

-The purple is mixed emotions.  Not being sure of which direction things are going.  Very hesitant to make a mark.

-The gray is a sense of being lost.  A daze or haziness.

-The tan is a sense of stability, equilibrium, and normality that I look for.

-The black hand print is the mark something has left on my life and how I see myself.   How it covers every aspect of the painting

-And the blue… it’s sadness.  defeat.  and also a sense of cleansing.  God washing things away.  Just as it takes time for the paint to fall down and cover all of the painting, so also will i have to wait for things to set themselves straight again.

-The artist in the poem is God, because He is the artist of my life.


I saw a blog the other day that was just pictures and small captions of how the picture represented how the blogger was feeling.  So I thought to myself, what would I be if I was a picture?  But that’s about as far as I got with that thought.

However, with a lot of  new things in my life lately, I’ve been analyzing how I feel and trying to figure out why I feel that way.   I’ve been confusing myself A LOT lately, I can feel great about something one minute… but then apprehensive about it the next and with no reason to feel that way.  I’ve been finding myself worried about things that make me happy.

That’s when my picture popped in my head… only I couldn’t actually take a picture of it… so I drew it.

That’s me.  Steel plated, chained, and locked.   And I like it that way.   Why?  Because it’s safer.   I’ve got Jesus in here with me.  My family has a natural ability to loosen the chains and melt the steel.  I have a friend or two that I unlock it for on occasion.  But someone new?  I don’t think I can let in anyone new.

If there’s anything life has shown me in the past two years, it’s that appearances can be deceiving.  I have too many people in my life who seem to have good intentions that end up being fickle or manipulative.  People I think I can trust, prove themselves otherwise.

I trust people that I’ve known for years, but letting someone new in is just too risky.  I mean yes there are people I feel like I can learn to trust, but they are rare, few and far between, and it will be a long time before that can happen.  I just get this feeling about them.. this feeling that I can trust them.  Like the feeling I got about my friend in my last post.  The problem is, I barely ever meet people I feel like I can trust.

I have made the mistake of trusting people that I haven’t had that feeling about and it hasn’t turned out well.  So until I have a better grasp of how to determine who I can let in, I’m on lock down. God’s got a lot of work to do here…. these are things I should talk about at oasis….

The point being, this hurts me and it hurts those around me.  Because there are people in my life that feel promising, but I just haven’t gotten that “ya, they’re good.”  Connect with them yet.  No confirmation.  I can act like we’ve got that connect, but I can’t actually let the openess and vulnerability happen.  I’m afraid of hurting people, because the longer I’m on this fence of “can I trust them or not?” the closer I get to shut down mode.  I become hypersensitive to their every action, and if they do one little thing to worry me, my mind blows it up out of proportion and I hide from them.

I’ve been in this “I can’t let myself get hurt” mindset for a while now, and was actually getting better at bringing my walls down.  But wouldn’t you know just when I think I can let loose, things just blow up in my face again.  The walls are back up people.

So ya, I may be transparent on here, but I’m not telling you guys everything.  And yes, I can be good friends with people, but there’s a level of comfort and openness missing from a lot of relationships for me on the inside.

People can’t be trusted.  That is a fact.   I’m not naive to think there are people that are ALWAYS trustworthy.  But frankly, I’m only interested in risking that trust on people that I know are important enough in my life to get past the times they let me down.  And I specifically use the phrase “let me down.”  I know my family will let me down, but they will never betray me.  I know my best friends will let me down, but they will never carelessly hurt me.  I trust those who I know want to treat me in love, even in their mistakes.  And if I don’t know whether or not you will betray me or carelessly hurt me, chances are you’re not going to be trusted with very much.

At this point, I’m rambling.  So ya… I’m trying to remember that loving someone does not mean you trust them.  I’m trying to learn who I can let in.  I’m trying to figure out why I’m so apprehensive about things that make me happy and only seem to be good.  I’m trying to be careful while at the same time not hurting people.  And I’m trying to protect myself.   “Above all else guard your heart” (what exactly does that mean????)  I know Satan does a good job of snaring me in anger and holding grudges.  So I’m protecting myself even more than normal, because, yes I don’t want to be hurt, but even more so… I don’t want to get caught up in anymore anger than I have been already.

Ugh… where am I going with this?

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you… the world’s worst ending to a blog post….. pineapples.

To that friend…

It’s been awhile since I last posted a blog, so I wanted to write one today.  I’ve had something I’ve wanted to try to say somehow, but I couldn’t really figure out how to do it.  Then I realized I could write this post to a friend that brings a lot of the topic I want to discuss to light.  Plus sometimes it’s fun to just write out a story about life from my perspective.   Obviously, you shouldn’t think you know a whole story until you hear every side, but I don’t think I will compromise anything by writing this.  Plus this friend and I are the only two in the story, so I can’t think of many people who could even know who it is.  So, wooo… you guys get to read what I’d like to tell one of my friends.  Who knows, maybe that person will read this and actually understand a very confusing situation we’ve been in.  Tally ho!


You know, I don’t understand you.  You confuse me more than anyone else.  Not because of anything you’ve done, but because of how I react to you.  You see, whenever I meet a new guy, my guard is always up.  My trust barrier is harder to get through.  I am suddenly hyper sensitive of my surroundings.  I am very physically reserved.  I am uncomfortable.  Even my guy friends that I met the same time as you and am very comfortable with now, they were a threat to me when I first met them.  Basically, I go into protection mode.  (If you haven’t seen this… well, I like to think I’m good at hiding it.  And if you have seen it… well then crap, maybe I’m not so good at it.)

You were different.  I wasn’t afraid of you.  I felt like myself.  You didn’t make me feel like I had to question your every movement.   I wasn’t afraid to let loose.  I was comfortable in my own skin.  And the strangest part about it, is you of all people should have been sending me into protection mode.  So many things about you are a perfect set up for me keeping my distance, but I didn’t feel that necessity.  I felt like I was getting better.  You made me feel like I was getting better.  You made me comfortable again.  The first guy in a long time that I wasn’t wary of deep down the first time I met them and had no problems with after that.  It made me happy, confident, bold, hopeful, the list goes on.  I was succeeding…or so I thought.

Then came that night that I asked you for that hug.  Now mind you, before I went to you I had been set off into a very weak state both mentally and emotionally.  I had been twisted and pulled in every direction.  The confidence I was building and I thought I had secured over the past several months had been shattered in the matter of a short 20 minute conversation.  One person’s ignorance blew every feeling of growth and success that I had out of the water.  Bam.   I didn’t know what to do, but then I remembered the way you made me feel.  The comfort and security that you brought.  The sense that I was alright… that things would get better.  I could have gone to any friend to talk about it, but I didn’t want to talk about it.  I just wanted to know that things were getting better.  I wanted to prove to myself that I was strong enough the handle it.   So what did I do?   I asked a tall, intimidating, male friend for a hug…. I asked you.

There I was, walking to meet you.  Thinking to myself, “I’ll give him a hug and it will be normal.  Today was tough, but I still have this last reserve.  I may be hanging by a string, but at least it’s something and something is better than nothing.”  You walked out and it was a little awkward at first.  I wasn’t really in the mood to say much.  But I just told myself all I needed was that hug and I was good.  So, you did what I thought I needed.   You wrapped your arms around me in a friendly embrace…and the last thing I expected or wanted happened.

Anxiety took over my entire body.  I felt nauseous.  Dizzy.  My head ached.  My hands got sweaty.  My face was flushed.  I spaced out from reality and my mind went reeling to places I had been trying to forget.  I felt mute.  small.  broken.   My last string had been clipped.  My one reserve, my last line of confidence, my proof to myself that I was getting past it all had just become like all the others.  And that killed me inside.   I tried to leave.  I wanted to get away from you as quick as possible.   A large part of me just wanted to break down sobbing.  I also wanted to puke on the rocks down by our feet.  I wasn’t sure what would happen first, the crying or the puking, but all of the sudden you became the last person in the world that I wanted to see me in that state.  But you wouldn’t let me go as easily as I wanted.  You offered to drive me back to my apartment, and I figured that was better than getting on the shuttle in front of a bunch of other people who would see me as a wreck.

As we took the short trip to my place, you asked what was going on.  I wanted to tell you.  I swear I wanted to tell you so bad.  But everything I could think of saying sounded so stupid, or just got caught in my throat.  I found myself rambling on like a fool in the most vague way possible.  You stopped your car outside of my apartment and I sat there yelling at myself in my head to just tell you.  To just spill.  But I couldn’t.  I was so mad at myself.  So lost.  I tried to say something and it didn’t even make any grammatical sense and I couldn’t take it anymore.  I ended up slamming your car door and bee-lining to my apartment.  I felt so stupid.  You had been gracious, patient, understanding… and I acted like a mute gorilla with the flu.  I then furiously typed out this post.  I thanked you later on over facebook chat, but everything from there on out felt so wrong.  Nothing made sense anymore.  I couldn’t find that sense of security I had been cultivating.  I was out of it for a good couple of weeks.  Days bashing myself for being stupid, questioning you in my head for why you were being distant, convincing myself that you thought I was insane.  Nights stuck in my mental swamp, furiously writing away on notebook paper with markers,  waking up on the rainbow colored pages the next morning that had somehow become tear stained.  Things were a mess.

I’ve collected myself since then.  I’m learning how to handle those moments that I become overwhelmed with anxiety like with that hug.  I’m creating my own sense of security.   I’m  working on being able to differentiate from perception and reality, and not letting my perceptions have more weight over me than reality.   It’s safe to say I wish I hadn’t been so quick to think I needed you.  I wish I had realized I am not strong enough on my own sooner.

And yes, you still confuse me.  I have not had a moment like that from interacting with you since.  And I have even more reasons to go into protection mode whenever I’m around you than I had before.   But I don’t.  I don’t know why you’re the only one who’s been like this for me… but I do want to thank you.  Because you have been a step forward for me in this journey.  I’d like to think that there will be more people that I don’t have any reaction to when I first meet them just like you.  I’m still on edge.  Still afraid that I’ll break again.  I even get shy around you.  Crazy but true.  If you get too close to me I can’t look you in the eyes.  I don’t know if you noticed this.  Sometimes I think that shyness/nervousness is a precursor to another meltdown, but it never gets past that.  So ya, you confuse me.  I’ve been shot into anxiety ridden protection mode from you.  You have all the qualities to keep me there, and yet you don’t.  I’m losing my ease to be bold when we’re around each other, because I find myself mumbling and looking down at the floor in nervous laughter to keep myself positive and sane.   BUT, at least you at least give me hope.    Hope that there will be more like you.  Hope that I can some how feel normal again, because you made me feel normal.  So thank you friend.  I know I can be very confusing, but maybe we can have an actual conversation about this one day.  Until then, I’ll try not to mumble 😛


Passion 2012: My Recap

Day 1 (January 2nd)

Today was weird… I was pumped and excited for the conference, then I walked into the 1st main session this evening and was struck by how numb I felt and how distracted I was.  I knew when to clap, when to say amen, which lines in the songs people would raise their hands to.  It was all a formula in the worship session, but I wasn’t connecting.  My mind was racing.

“I wonder where they got that new female singer… is she singing harmony or melody?  Christy usually sings harmony, but maybe they brought the new woman in so Christy could sing melody… or maybe she was brought in to sing melody.  Wow, the entire choir is all fashionable… but they aren’t wearing bright colors… they’re all muted colors like brown, tan, gray, black, navy, white…. They probably told them all to do that.  That’s such an interesting color scheme, but you can totally pick out who’s part of the band by the colors they’re wearing…  Wait… did they just say that God’s name should be the highest on our “alter of praise”?  Shouldn’t His name be the only name on our altar of praise?  And “The cross was enough”??? I think it’s more like “The cross was more than enough.”  Well, unless you’re thinking legalistically… then it’s a good way to reason with someone who is trying to justify themselves by works…”

It was like that the whole time.  I kept wondering what my problem was… thinking I should lift up my hands at least once to not look like an uninterested person forced to be here, but I didn’t want to fake worship.  Then Louie Giglio got up and talked about Jesus resurrecting the widow’s son who was on his way to be buried.   Louie asked us if any of us were on our funeral processions needing Christ to reach out and touch our coffins and say “Hold up.  Arise!”  I kept thinking “Yeah…. Yeah… that’s how I feel, but why?”  Then he touched it.  Louie hit that chord.  He was going through the “maybe you’re…s” and got to “Maybe you’ve been hurt.  You have a failure, a disappointment, a wrong done to you and you can’t let go of that bitterness, that hatred, that pain, that brokenness.”  Oh hai, ya um… that’s me!  You don’t just get PTSD out of the blue.   You get it after (hence the “post”) something big and not so fun (hence the “traumatic”) happens in your life. And in my life, it left me in a place of bitterness, hatred, pain, and brokenness, feeling disappointed, wronged, and like a failure.

With the PTSD symptoms flaring up more nowadays and with that having constant reminders of the event that occurred, my walk with God has become… numb.  Too much knowing… no feeling.  I guess taking Bible classes at my college and having scriptures turned into academics has added to that.  And it’s difficult.  I don’t want to beat myself up while I’m trying to heal, but at the same time I don’t want to give myself excuses.  God is understanding, but God deserves my everything.   I say and believe that God is good… but it feels like “God HAS BEEN good in these areas of your life, so you can’t complain about the other stuff.”

It’s funny… growing up, I always wondered if something terrible would happen to me.  It was like my mind was constantly circling the bad events that could happen in my life.  I would think about how it probably wouldn’t happen to me, how if it did I would be fine, and how afterwards I would recover quickly.   But this… this isn’t what I expected.  I didn’t expect to be upset with God.  I didn’t expect to blame myself for something that should not have been my fault.

So, on to another day, to see what I’ll learn, to see what God has for me… God, what DO you have for me?

Day 2 (January 3rd)

Started out the morning with community group/family groups working through Ephesians 2.    I was really disappointed in my family group.  All of their answers felt so… Sunday school.  Basic.  Textbook.  Flat.  Bumper sticker Christianese.  And one girl in the group would only talk about herself.  Every other person, she would interject about her life.  It was really hard for me to be patient, loving, and had a good attitude towards her when she was taking all the time to focus on herself and not pouring into others, like the other members of the group were doing.  I was mostly silent the entire time, trying to choose my words carefully and prayerfully address my thoughts in regards to my group.

The first session had worship led by Matt Redman.  My sister, brother-in-law, and I had a discussion before the session on the worship last night.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one having problems with the lyrics.  My sister also brought up how almost all of the worship was “pump up” music, and we wanted to sing WORSHIP and PRAISE.  So, seeing Matt Redman I was very excited because he usually sticks to a God centered worship… and I was so disappointed.  One song they sang, all but 3 lines had something about “I” “Me” “My” etc.  I didn’t want to sing about myself, even if it was my response to God’s work in my life.  I wanted to sing about God.  I left worship that session very dismayed.

Beth Moore had a great message though.  She talked about the woman with the issue of blood in the gospels, and how her story is just written smack dab in the middle of the story of Jairus’ daughter dying and Jesus raising her up from the dead.  Beth was talking about how this man’s daughter was dying, Jesus was teaching his disciples, the crowds were pressing in around Him, and yet God allowed for this woman to be ministered to in the midst of this chaos and healed.  She was trying to communicate that often times we see all of the big issues in the world, and we don’t think God has enough provision or that it’s right for us to ask for healing for our own issues.  I was definitely appreciative of that message.  I felt like I was hearing God say “Yes Kelsey, I have a big work I am doing globally… but I haven’t forgotten about you.  Healing may take time (the woman had her blood problem for 12 years!), but don’t be idle while you wait.  Keep at my purposes.  I will be ministering to you throughout your work.”  Definitely needed.  It kind of addressed that area of “yes I believe God is good, but I feel like that means I can’t complain when things don’t feel so good.”  God is good.  I can say He is good when I am at my lows, not just because He already did good things and so I am obligated to be thankful, but because He is going to do great things yet to come in my life.  Christians should be living a life of hope, and right now for me that means praising God for His goodness yet to come because He promises to watch over me.

Kristian Stanfill led worship for the main session after lunch.  It finally started to feel like it was shifting into worship and not pump up music.  He played a new song that I really liked and would post here… but being that it’s new it’s not published, recorded, or available for a lyric search anywhere.  Darn.  Anyways, after worship, Christy Cain spoke about human trafficking and slavery.  She brought the reality of it all down from the statistics and to our hearts.

After dinner, my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and I all sat down together in the Dome.  The evening (final session) was getting ready to start, and I saw Chris Tomlin and the Passion band getting on stage.  I felt my heart sink a little thinking it would be more pump up music.  The lights all went out and suddenly tons of bright lights shot out from the back of the stage into the crowd as the Passion band sang one word “Yahweh.”  It was then that I knew that this evening was going to be good.  It finally felt like things were back in focus.  They led worship for awhile, then Chris invited a few artists on the stage to join him… from Jakarta, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia.  They all took turns sang How Great Is Our God together in their different languages, then Watoto Children’s Choir came on stage midway through the song and joined them for the Chorus.  Everyone of them all sang at once in their own language and I was absolutely overwhelmed.  It was just a glimpse of the heart of the global church and it was astounding.  North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia… all gathered together for the same purpose: to worship the King.  Astounding.  It’s safe to say I was in awe.  Crying and frozen all at the same time.  Charlie Hall came up and led worship for a while and it was so refreshing, authentic, and Christ focused.  So thankful.  So blessed.

Following worship, Francis Chan spoke about knowing God for ourselves and loving the scripture.  He talked about how we shouldn’t take anyone’s interpretations for absolute truth until we study the scriptures ourselves and how we should compare the lives of those we are taught the word by to Jesus… of course the only way to know that is to know Jesus.  And you can’t know Jesus if you’re not in the word.  Francis Chan was such a great practical speaker full of passion and love.  Really great to hear him speak.  It was like having a heart to heart with him… only there were 44,000 other people in on the conversation with me.

Following his message, the passion band came back on stage and we sang starting with the simple phrase “I will follow you.”  It was hard for me at first.   I wanted to slip back into that distracted place, or that numb place… I felt moved by the wondrous view of God I had gotten at the beginning of worship, but was not moved personally.  Then I just forced myself so sing.  I found myself telling God “I don’t want to make promises to you, because I want to sin.  I want to break them.  I feel like they won’t last.  I can’t even offer you 30 seconds of focused worship, and here I am supposed to be singing about how much I love you and will do for you.  God, I don’t want to say what the lyrics on the screen say, my heart doesn’t feel it, but I have no doubt in my mind that that is precisely what you deserve.   So I’m asking you to give me the desire and the strength to want it and to work for it.”  It was so different having a moment of worship not emotionally, but mentally.  Admitting to God that it was connecting up in my mind, but my sin was keeping it from my heart.  Asking God to remove that barrier.  Who knows what will come of that in the days ahead at passion and in my life?

Family groups after the last main session of the night were interesting.  I got to hear more personal answers.  The talkative girl in my group still only talked about herself.  She specifically brought up a certain aspect of her life she was having trouble with, and I found myself immediately thinking of something encouraging I could tell her… but someone else was already talking, and I could find my disgruntled spirit not wanted to open up the floor to her to speak again.  Then I felt the twinge of conviction: God saying – If you are wanting her to pour into other members of the group, show her what it’s like to have other members pour into her.  So I told her what I had to say, and other members added on.  She sat there blinking with a smile on her face and thanked us for the new perspective on her problem.  Being that this was at the end of the night, there really was not any impact I could see on her aside from that… and that may be all that there is out of it, but at least God taught me how to love those I’m not so naturally inclined to love.

It’s been a long day full of confusion and heavy thinking.  I am ready to get into tomorrow to hear some John Piper, and Lecrae, and focus on the true heart of worship.  What’s next God?

Day 3 (January 4th)

I want to give a full recap of today like I have done for the other days… but honestly this morning is kind of a blurr.  The morning session we sang worship led by David Crowder and his guys.  Truly a blessing to be there for the last time they lead worship together.   Then Louie invited us students to remain standing for the whole session, saying “It’s funny how we stand for the singing part of the worship, but we sit for the speaking part of worship.  It’s all worship.” So, Lecrae, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, and John Piper got up on the stage and read through the book of Ephesians, stopping after every chapter and inviting us to pause, be still, reflect, and ask God to speak to us.  No preaching.  No teaching.  No exegesis or eisegesis interpretations.  Just the word of God.  It made me sad that about half of the stadium sat down despite Louie’s request for us to stand, especially since it was a reading of THE WORD OF THE LORD. (Give yourself a high five if your mind said “thanks be to God” after you read that).  Oh, might I just add.  I was amazed at how powerful Lecrae’s reading of the word was.  It’s incredible how much his knowledge of the scriptures and his gift with words and rhythm have affected his articulation of the word.  And as I was standing thinking that, I wondered what it was that made me think Lecrae reading it had so much more impact than me reading it for myself.  It is the same scripture, and these are the same ears it falls on… so why was I swooning in amazement from the power of the words when it was big name Christians reading it?  Idolizing people?  Not allowing myself to pause and reflect?

The afternoon session was Louie interviewing many leaders from organizations that work against human trafficking.   After the interviews, he informed us that we had raised over 1 million dollars for freedom.  $1million against human trafficking, slavery, prostitution, child abduction, abuse, and more.  Very cool.  After this session the line for the Do Something Now booths snaked back and forth and stretched down the road.  It was crazy.   I can’t wait to hear the numbers tomorrow.

Then tonight Chris and the Passion band led worship.   One of the very first songs they sang was one that had been grating on my nerves all weekend.  It’s getting harder and harder.  Everyone is jumping up and down, hands raised, voices singing at the top of their lungs… and what are they singing about?  Us.  Yes, it’s our response to Christ.  Yes, I know the point the artists was trying to get across… but it’s not settling with me right.  I keep thinking “Kelsey let it go.  Just worship!”  but it’s really getting to me.  I can’t even sing the song.  It was good singing songs like “Our God.”  Straight up all about God.  I guess what I should say is, I could sing the song as just an awesome Christian song because that’s what it is: a Christian song.  And a really good one at that.  But it wasn’t something I considered praise to God.  I don’t know… I think I’m just complaining now.

John Piper spoke tonight.  Felt so sweet hearing a voice that feels like “home” to me.   He started giving us his outline and said that one of the 4 points was “the supremacy of Christ.”  I nearly fell over when I heard that.  John Piper.  40 min to speak.   And he has the supremacy of Christ as one of FOUR points?  There’s no way… Sure enough he ended up having to do the last two points in like 7 minutes.  Oh Jonny… Either way, his sermon was very thought provoking.  At one point he said “You can’t just choose to see something you’re blind to, to savor something that sickens you, to desire something that bores you.”  How many times do I hear myself and others say “I need to read my Bible more.  I need to make time for God.  I need to pray more.”  Why aren’t we reading, praying, making time for God?  Because we don’t desire it, see it, savor it?  Scary thought… very scary.  I felt a holy weight on me when sitting in that session.  Like my heart was coated in lead and being pulled right out of my chest.  God saying “This is serious.  I am serious.  So take me seriously.”

The community group following was very good.  It started out as the bumper sticker stuff I had mentioned before, then I just though “enough of this” and opened up about the personal implications of some very serious stuff that was going through my mind.  Following that, other’s in my group opened up as well.  Chain reaction.  Deep conversation.  And all it took was for me to get over my fear and speak up.  Hmmm… God you seem to be showing that to me a lot lately.  Just open up.  Just say it.  How much?  How far?  How long?

Here’s where my journaling for the conference ended.  In the end, Passion 2012 raised 3.2 million dollars against human trafficking.  It’s been good just obeying God and taking small leaps of faith he has pushed me towards in the days since the conference.  I want to believe that things will be different when I go back to school.  I want to be a light for him.  I want my school to be a place where I am filled up to be poured out.  I want my days ahead to be marked with my humility in walking in His will.  I want people to see the hope I have despite my past, my emotions, my PTSD, my stress, my pride, and more.   Hope in Christ.   God move in me this year.  Lead me and push me to where you want me to go.  Lift me up through my struggles and humble me in my triumphs.  Let the mystery of your grace permeate my life.