“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.”

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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

It’s Just Been One of Those Days…

Let me note, that I have a powerpoint I need to make, a 30 page worksheet thing to finish, two papers to write, and worship team practice that all have to get done by tonight… These are not the things I SHOULD be getting done as well.  But I have to write.  I have to get this out.  It’s too much for a tweet or even one of my lengthy facebook statuses.  So alas, if you plan on reading this, you are planning on listening to me vent.

I have so much going on right now.  I can’t think straight.  I feel like I’m behind everywhere although I’m not.  These past couple of weeks have been really taxing.  And I’ve slipped into the classic Kelsey mode of “I can handle it.”  I can DO it with God’s help, but right now, I can’t “handle” it.

I lost my car this week to a lot of unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances.  That’s really tough.  I can’t get a second job off campus like I had wanted.  So now I have to get a job on campus.  I need a minimum of 20 hours a week to make my tuition payments and everywhere on campus pays minimum wage and has really crappy hours.  So, I’m stressing about that.  Plus, being out a car… it’s a huge difference.  I have to ask a friend for a ride if I want to go to target for prescriptions, razors, pantyhose… I can’t drive my friend to the hospital when they break their finger in the intramural football game… I can’t say to my friends “Hey, let’s go to applebees for half price apps tonight!”… I hate that.  I hate this.  I miss my car and to be honest I was really attached to it.  I had a lot of memories in that car.  It’s a serious blow.

The job I do have right now is great.  I love it.  I get to be apart of the major event planning on campus.  Wouldn’t trade it at all.  But it takes unforeseen time out of my schedule.  I’m used to working a for a few hours on two or three specific days of the week.  But with the nature of the events we’re working on right now, I’m finding myself handling work business outside of my work hours.  Welcome to the real world huh?  I just don’t have a lot of schedule consistency right now and I really am not a fan.  It will get better in a week or so.

My worship team is playing an all worship chapel on Friday.  So we have about 9 songs we’ve been preparing, but we’re not quite there yet.  And that’s stressing me out.

Sleep.  I’m not getting enough sleep and my sleep schedule is so whack.  Welcome to the life of a college kid.  I haven’t gone to bed before midnight in I don’t know how long… last night I finally got to sleep around 4am.  It’s like my first semester of college all over again.

Food.  My diet here is a joke.  I live off of starch and fat.   The fruit is always rotten.  The only vegetable that is consistently fresh and actually tasty is the spinach.  I honestly eat mostly rice and beans.   My friends notice it too and like to poke fun at how nasty it looks.  Plus I eat everything with gallons of hot sauce to either mask the weird flavor or make up for the flavor its lacking.  I really don’t know what else to eat.  My cafeteria is NOT vegetarian friendly.  They put meat in everything.  Burrito?  BEEF burrito.  Enchiladas?  CHICKEN enchiladas.  Grilled cheese?  Grilled HAM and cheese.  Pasta bake?  SAUSAGE pasta bake.  Every now and then they have a “vegetarian bar” that has limp celery, carrot sticks, sunflower seeds, beans, and hard boiled eggs that have turned green.   I’m sorry, what?  That’s what vegetarians eat for dinner?  I’ve been a vegetarian almost two years now and that’s not what I eat for a meal.  I don’t want to just fill up on french fries, mac n cheese, and cheese pizza… but sometimes when I’m tired of rice and beans, that’s all there is.  Cereal.  There’s lots of cereal.  But my body is so hungry.  It needs vitamins and minerals and protein.  GIVE ME PROTEIN!  The only protein sources I have here are eggs (when they have them), peanut butter, beans, and cheese.  And cheese does not count as protein.  Thank goodness I have quinoa and chobani in my apartment.

My schedule.  Agh.  Mondays and Tuesdays are horrors for me and Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays are spent catching up with what was put off because of the busy Mon/Tues.   I feel like I’m running like a chicken with its head cut off.

Church.  I miss being at Passion City Church.  I felt like my soul was REALLY fed there and I’m getting a little hungry.

Minnesota.  Gall I miss home.  So many sites my eyes wish to see.  So many places I want to be.  I want to go to Ritter Farm Park, and Indigo tea, and the Mall of America, and to the sculpture garden, and to the top of Buck Hill late at night, and to my back yard.   And the culture.  I miss Minnesota nice.

My friends.  I miss deep friendship.   I have a couple really close friends here, but I’m so busy!  I haven’t seen my best friend since June.  Heck, I haven’t seen most of my closest friends since my family moved from Minnesota.  That’s really taken a toll on me.  I miss feeling like someone was invested in me and I in them.

My family.  I miss my family.  I miss Zach’s sweet affection.  I miss being astounded by Philip’s brilliance.  I miss goofing around with Ruth and hearing her singing in her room.  I miss being a part of Joseph’s life.  I feel like he’s changing and learning so much and I’m not there for it.  I miss I miss having my mom as my friend.  Being the only ones we really knew in the state of Georgia really gave us time together and I miss that.  I miss my dad’s wisdom and peace.  He’s a place of stability for me and I’m really lacking that right now.  and heck, I miss my dog.  That old, fat, ugly thing.  I miss Lewis a lot.

EDIT:  I do not want to make it seem like I do not miss Haley, Cody, or Megan too.  I was listing off my family at home.  My sisters and brother in law are dear to me.  It just didn’t come naturally to list them when I was thinking about stuff I miss from home since they haven’t lived at home in many many years.

Today’s been rough for many reasons.  The lack of sleep certainly doesn’t help.  Oversleeping and missing chapel definitely didn’t help either.  My lunch of white rice, cheese pizza, and fruit loops DEFINITELY is not helping.   The overwhelming work load isn’t so great either, but what’s worse is that it feels really accomplishable, so I feel guilty for not being able to pound it out like I want to.  I also had time to be faced with the reality of one of my friends here leaving, and I don’t like it at all.  Don’t get me wrong  I really think they should go based on the circumstances.  But the selfish side of me doesn’t want to say goodbye.   BUT the big kicker of the day was class.

In one of my classes we’ve been asked to share our testimonies, our life stories, our spiritual journeys thus far.  I haven’t given my testimony in front of a group of more than 2 people in 3 years.  And even then, the big stuff of my testimony has happened in these past 3 years from the last time I shared it.  So, really.  I’ve never shared this part of my life with a large group of people.  God’s really been working on me to open up about my testimony, and I was all “yeah, cool God.  We’ll get to that.”  and God was like “Yes we will, we’ll get to that now.  Here’s your homework for this class!”  Holy buckets.   I am honestly so freaked about sharing my life story.  There’s parts of my story that I’ve only shared with a small handful of people.  There’s even parts that I haven’t talked with my siblings about.   Sharing this takes a huge leap of faith and a huge piece of vulnerability for me and I’m scared.  Every day we get to class and about 2 or 3 people share theirs per class at random.  I’m always freaking out about when it’s going to be my turn.  “Should I share today?”  “Should I go after he’s done?”

Today was awful.  I decided I needed to share mine today.  I was going to do it.  It was time.  I couldn’t keep going through class every MWF feeling so anxious.  I spent the entire class wringing my hands, shaking, breathing fast (which.. actually.. I always do anyways), and having to wipe my hands because my palms were so sweaty, just waiting for my chance to share.  My friend next to me was chuckling because of how nervous I was, and laughter helped… but I was still really anxious about my moment to share . Only guess what.  That moment never showed up.   So I headed back to my apartment frustrated with sweaty palms, a shaking body, a dizzy head, and a stomach ache like no other.  Anxiety blows.   It’s been over an hour since I got back from class and I’m still shaky and sweaty, despite the fact that I’ve just been sitting here doing nothing but drinking my tea.

I have a good life.  I have a good job, a good school, good friends, a good God.  Life is good and pleasant.  But I just feel like crying.  And I don’t mean like the sniffles and tearing up thing I’ve been doing while I’ve written this post.   I mean like a good, long, hard cry.  I feel like sobbing.  But I have no where to go.  Honestly, if I had my car.  I would grab some mascara and cover-up (for the aftermath), get in my car, drive to a park, and have at it.   But right now.  I’ve got no where.  There’s no place that I can go where there isn’t people around.  It’s tiresome keeping it together 24/7.  “But Kelsey, isn’t there someone you can go to?”  Yeah, there are lots of people I can go to, but I don’t want to.  I just want this emotional side of it all to be between me and God right now.  I hate showing emotions like this around people.   Ugh, I should probably be going back to Oasis (the counseling center here on campus).

I’ve spent an hour and a half writing this post that maybe 35 people will read according to my stats for most posts like this.   But whatever.  I needed to get all of this out.  I needed to vent.  And honestly, I do feel a little better now.   Moral of the story, life’s good but life sucks.  and it’s just one of those times when things are really stressful.  Really, I’ve never been so much at peace with where I am at with God, and I’ve never had as much self-esteem as I do now.  Two of the big things that usually eat at me couldn’t be better.  It’s just been a build up of unfortunate circumstances and I needed to get it out.

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.

Vows

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?

My Grandpa

My grandpa passed away today… or technically yesterday since it’s 1am.  I spent the day going through pictures of him.  Then I was reminded of something I wrote one night.  Earlier that day I had visited my grandpa in his nursing home.  This was back at the beginning of January this year.  My dad, mom, and I stopped by to see him on our way from Atlanta to South Carolina.   That night I talked to a friend about it all and took a lot of those thoughts into a journal entry.   This was the last time I saw my grandpa.  I was really helped by reading what I had written that day, and decided I would post it here.

We walked in and my grandpa was sitting on a couch.  We said hello.  Grandma asked if he knew who my dad was.  He simply said “no.”  It didn’t seem to bother him as if he thought my dad was a new person to meet, not someone people were expecting him to remember.  They introduced my dad to his father as “your baby boy.”

My dad was really good with him.  They talked about house repairs, boats, airplanes, cars… stuff he knew my grandpa would just know.  Not things he would have to remember.  He spent the entire time just leaning in listening to whatever my grandpa had to say.  They were so close to each other that my grandpa’s feet were resting on top of my dad’s.  They talked about building fences, how much sleep he’s getting, how his dentist is doing, about the “uptight man from Baldwin.”  Whatever my grandpa could find to say.   He was very quiet… but it did my heart good to hear his voice.

And their eyes.  Their eyes were the same.  The window of the soul and I could see my dad in him.

I almost fell apart, right near the beginning.  He had been staring at the floor, not shifting his gaze.  Then, while my grandma and parents were busy talking to each other…. He looked up, locked eyes with me, and smiled.

It was him and me.  Just for that moment.  I had his attention, I had his eyes, I had his smile.  His eyes that had seemed dulled and vacant just moments before twinkled at me as if he and I had some little secret just between the two of us.   I smiled back at him.

When we left, I hugged him and told him that it was good to see him and that I loved him.  My mom offered to take a picture of us together.  And I said I was ok without it…I figured I would just be a bother.  I wish now I had asked for it though.

When we got back in the car, the mood was very solemn.  Everything was quiet.  Although I was sad and had a feeling that it was the last time I would ever see my grandpa… I had a peace about it all.  There was one thing I was leaving with that brought me comfort.  I was leaving with that moment we locked eyes… that moment he smiled at me.

This is where I stopped writing.

My grandpa was a good man… a God-fearing, hard-working, loving man.

He was the father to my dad and his siblings



He was the grandfather and great-grandfather to  me, my siblings, and my many cousins (first and second) who are not all pictured here.

He was the husband to my amazing grandma

For almost 65 years…  (I actually found a picture of their marriage license the other day and have that saved to my computer… September 13th, 1947)


He was sweet.

And he was funny.  I think one of my favorite stories about my grandpa was the time that he and my grandma were out at the lake together.  My grandma (who’s maiden name is Troutt) got caught on a fishing hook.  When they returned to the group, my grandpa proudly displayed his “catch” and said “Look!  I caught a Troutt!”

My grandpa was a wonderful man…
From his days as little Ronny, the redheaded boy with all the sisters…

To his adulthood

To his days as my loving grandfather


To the last day I saw him

To February 19th, 2012.  The day he peacefully passed away.

I love my Grandpa and I will miss him.
I thank God for the time I had with him,
for the memories,
and for the blessing of being able to leave him that day with that moment we had and telling him I loved him.
So much of who he was has been passed down to make me the way I am.
I am proud to be his granddaughter.

Though this is a very sad and somber time for my family and I,  we are celebrating his entrance into the kingdom.

God bless you Grandpa Harding.
Rest in peace.

Lockdown

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.

2012 is Greater Than 2011… Mathematically Speaking: A Review of My Life This Year

Well, here we are at the end of the year.  The time that everyone looks back and reflects…and then looks forward and freaks out because its 2012 and the world is going to end this December!  Haha, kidding.  But being that it is a time to reminisce, reflect, and remember, I thought I might write a post on all that has happened this year.  It has been one of the most life changing years I have ever seen, therefor I think it deserves a post.

First off, let’s talk about how the world has changed.
-We started the year with the Egyptian revolution and Libyan protests.
-Then followed that with earthquake in New Zealand and tsunami in Japan.
-Fidel Castro resigned after 45 years in power.
-Rebecca Black went viral.
-Prince William got married.
-Osama Bin Laden died.
-Oprah Winfrey aired her last show.
-The NFL lockout happened… and thankfully ended.
-We reached the 10 year anniversary of September 11th.
-Kim Kardashian made a joke of marriage with her 10 million dollar wedding and her 72 days of marital “bliss.”
-New Zealand got another earthquake.
-Norway fell victim to terrorist attacks.
-The Occupy Wall Street movement started.
-Steve Jobs died.
-The U.S. Ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
-Turkey got an earthquake.
-The war in Iraq was officially ended.
-And Kim Jung Il died.

Between big figures both cultural and political, terrorists attacks, earthquakes, and revolutions, this year seems to be filled with a lot of death.  It’s actually very sad looking at it in review.

My life?  Well, I didn’t die, but a lot sure happened.

I started off the year with a sleep study to figure out why the heck I couldn’t stay awake during the day and couldn’t fall asleep at night.  The study did not provide any answers… but I did get free jimmy johns and the opportunity to look like the borg for a day.

I also attended my last counseling session (of the year, you never know when you’ll be back… I think probably soon).  I was very grateful for the work of my counselor.  She helped me come to terms with where I was, where I wanted to be, and how to get there.   I think counseling is something that most people should consider because of how beneficial it is, no matter how small or “controllable” your problems may seem.  You’ll read more about why I was in counseling later in the post.

My doctor started me on a new medication. It’s an anti-depressant that helps me stay awake.  My life has changed drastically since starting that (and taking melatonin at night).  I will never turn my nose up at medicines.  My mood, my sleep, and my overall wellness have improved greatly.

And my last notable event from the beginning of the year is my laptop!  I bought this machine that I’m typing on right now and have not been happier with a product.  Well, the speakers could be a little louder… haha.

That was all pretty much the first half of January.  Then at the end of January I moved to Philadelphia and transferred into a university out here on the east coast.  New city, new school, new life.

A couple weeks into starting at this school I decided to go veg and have not turned back since.  I also noticed a huge improvement in my wellness from living a vegetarian lifestyle.  It’s really been a benefit to my health.

I also started dating someone this year, Sohil.  Although we aren’t together anymore, it was refreshing to be in a relationship with someone who actually respected me.  I learned a lot about myself and what I want for my life.  Plus, he introduced to one of my newest obsessions… Bollywood!  It was my first interracial relationship and it was definitely an experience getting to learn a different culture and value system, try new foods, and just see how people responded to us.  Without him, I also probably never would have really gone vegetarian, so that was a definite bonus.  It also was my first (and I plan on it being the last) interfaith relationship I’ve ever been in.  He always supported me in my faith, but even just the little things made me realize how crucial it is to have the same faith.  And to all of you whom I lied to by saying he was a Christian, I am very sorry.  I was scared of your judgment and tired of the constant lectures I was getting. It was easier to say that than to explain myself.  This relationship taught me the value of having Christ at the center of relationships, which is a lesson I needed to feel and experience in order to learn it, instead of just “knowing” and being told it.

This year I was in my first musical: Little Women!  It was a great way for me to meet new people on campus and was a very rewarding experience.  I played a small role, did some extra work, and helped out backstage.  It was amazing how much music added to the emotion and life of the play.  Definitely something I learned a lot from.  AND my singing technique improved a lot.  I went from about a 2 octave vocal range to a 3. I’d say that’s a plus.

I have also dyed my hair 11 different shades/ways this year.
-Brown in February.
-Bleached for the play.
-Second bleaching for the play.
-An ashy blonde dye for the play.
-A more golden color to try to match my natural hair color.
-A red peek-a-boo dye that was supposed to be brown.
-A mahogany color.
-The bright red color I have sported for most of this year.
-A darker version of the red for a more permanent color with a wintery feel.
-Some brighter red into that faded dark red color
-And some bleached streaks in my hair (but that one’s not as noticeable).
If you are surprised that my hair hasn’t fallen out yet… don’t be.  The bleachings for the play fried my hair and I had to cut a lot.  And the red dye I use is a vegetable dye, not chemical.  So it actually conditions my hair instead of destroying it.

I reached the 1 year mark post-op for my knee.  A really weird feeling knowing that happened and knowing it was a year ago.  My scar, which used to be a purplish color that I hated and tried to cover with makeup, is now faded to my normal skin tone… it’s just a large line of different textured skin with some spot scars around my knee where they made small incisions.  And the good news is, a year and a half later I can finally say I have regained feeling in my leg.  Well, mostly.  There are still some places on my shin that I can’t feel temperatures and the place on my knee that the doctors told me I would never have feeling in again, but it’s good to no longer feel like I’m walking around with a wooden leg.

I ended my first semester at my new school and came home for the summer, where I got hooked on a cooking craze.  Rainbow pancakes, jello molds, miso soup, pot pies, and even baked Alaska.   I went a little overboard, but it definitely was a fun treat.

This summer I also got to see my crew of friends from my first college, Winona.  It was great to see them and to feel what it was like being “Kelso” again.

At the end of the summer me and my dad got in my red ford Taurus with the yellow sven and ole’s bumper sticker on the back, which I have lovingly named Caesar (and usually say the Hispanic version of that name), and drove half way across the country.  Minnesota to Pennsylvania.  It took two days of driving, and we drove through 6 states, but we did it.  And it was quite the experience.

Upon arriving in Pennsylvania, I moved into my first apartment with my roommates.  It was my first time having “my” kitchen and “my” living room shared with people who are not relatives.

Then I helped out on the Orientation Team at my school.  Part of me wonders if the actual orientation part was as fun as the training.  Being a part of Student Life was so much fun.  And getting to know the new freshmen and watch them integrate into the community was really cool.

Oh… The thing about Orientation weekend was that Hurricane Irene came through, so schedules got messed up and I experienced my first hurricane.  My first earthquake had been a few days before… but I didn’t even feel it so I don’t think that counts.  The fun part of it is that Irene started to show up just as I was leading my orientation group around Philly… We got kind of wet.

Ooo!  Another first.  One weekend I flew home and was waiting for my mom to pick me up at the airport.  While I was waiting I opened up my laptop and started working on a project, then I saw my mom’s van and got up to go meet her… only she didn’t know which door I was at and kept driving.  So I started running with my carry-on bag in tow and my laptop still opened in my arms to catch her before she drove off too far.  Running, running, turns out I’m a pretty fast runner, because I ran into an automatic door.  Yeah, I was going that fast that the door didn’t see me and started to close from the person who had walked through it before me.  Best part about it?  When I ran into the automatic door, it hit my arm upwards, sending the top of my laptop screen at my nose.  That’s right people, my first broken nose. from running into an automatic door.   But this nose break isn’t like how you guys are thinking.  It was actually the underside of my nose.  And recently it’s starting to hurt again, but I digress… first broken nose.

Now I said that being a part of Student Life WAS so much fun… I should probably fix that, because this year I got a job with Student Life.  My technical title is Student Programs Worker, but the best way to describe what I do is event coordination.  I get to continue to be a part of Student Life by working in the office and planning events like our hoedown and the campus Christmas celebration.  It can be a very taxing job, but it is fun and well worth it.  It truly is a blessing for me to work there.

This year I had another first as well: my first Thanksgiving without my parents.  I went to spend Thanksgiving in South Carolina with my grandparents on my mom’s side and my sister.  It was interesting not being at home and not having the same recipes, but definitely a great experience getting to be with my grandparents and sister without the whole gang.  I just got to have them to myself.  I had a great time.  Different, but undoubtedly good.

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I would have to say that my two biggest changes this year would be in the mental and the social department.  As I mentioned in my last post about my song, I have a mental disorder- specifically, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.   It’s a type of anxiety disorder, not temporary like an acute stress reaction and a lot more specific than just “anxiety.”  It was mid-December 2010 that I was told that I have this, so 2011 has been figuring out myself through that lens.  At first it was really, really bad, but around late February it started getting easier, my symptoms weren’t as pronounced, and I was beginning to think it was going away.  Sure, I had little flare ups here and there over the spring and summer, but for the most part I felt like I was “back to normal.”

Then it really got serious this fall, hence the really depressing posts from October and November.  It’s been really difficult.  I want to convince myself that I am strong enough to overcome it and that I can put it behind me, but this isn’t something that just goes away. It’s something that sticks around.  And yes, it won’t be as frequently bothersome or as strong in years down the road, but I have to accept that it’s still going to be there.  It’s an aspect of my life that I can’t control (cue the perfect plug for faith in God’s will and plan for my life).  I’ve had to resign myself to thinking of it not as something I overcome, but something I become a master at coping with.  That’s something I’ve really been working on as of late, accepting it as a part of my story and who I am, and learning how to deal with the symptoms.

So be patient with me, because I treat people like crap.  When my symptoms set in, it’s a complete 180.   The easiest thing is to just not have expectations, because I will exceed them one day and not even come close to meeting them the next.  I’m not asking for excuses, I’m just asking you to be understanding.

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 The change in my social life has been a big help in the mental department.  If you know me well, you would know that generally I make friends with guys and pretty much only guys. My entire high school career I was only ever friends with one female at a time and then a bunch of boys.  And don’t get me wrong, guys are great.  But I NEEDED more estrogen in my life.  Going to college, I made friends with some girls, but not many and not close friendships.   The only close female friend I had was my partner in crime, Jenny, from high school.  But as amazing as Jenny is, I knew I couldn’t rely on just one female in my life, especially going to school out of state.

So I prayed for more girls in my life.  And what do you know, God does provide!  This semester I met two ladies who have been very influential, active, and encouraging in my life: A’Driane and Tori.  (I mean if you really must know I became friends on facebook with A’Driane on September 14th and Tori on September 27th. Sometimes I have to add in a touch of quirky Kelsey and inform you of completely useless stuff…) I really haven’t known them for that long, but they are two of my closest friends.  And what a relief that they are females, haha.  They’re down to earth, they know how to have a good time, they give me practical advice, and they don’t let me get away with any B.S.  It’s been especially helpful having A’Driane’s encouragement in owning my story and accepting life with PTSD.   I really have been blessed this year to have them, and it amazes me that it’s only been 3 months that we’ve really known each other.  I can’t imagine my life without those two.

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It’s amazing to me, looking back to one year ago.  I did not yet go to my school or know any of my east coast friends, I was just a fledgling in my life with PTSD, I was still happily munching on bdubs boneless chicken wings, and I knew so little about myself.  With the help of Sohil, A’Driane, Tori, many others, and a few good panic attacks this semester, I have come to a place where I understand who I am so much better.  The way I function finally makes sense to me, and I’m learning to embrace my identity.

For those of you who knew me back in the day, I still have the same sense of humor, I still like the same music, and I still have that really weird personality that can’t identify with any group of people… but I am not who I was.  It’s bittersweet, ya know?  I miss that girl that I was, but I am at peace and confident in the woman I’m becoming.  And I can finally call myself a woman without feeling awkward seeing as I will no longer be a teenager this January… That’s kind of scary, but mostly not because I really don’t feel like a “teenager” anyways.  Can my 20th birthday just get here already???

So adios to my childhood, my preteen years, my teenage years, and my awkward first years of college discovering who I am.  Meet Kelsey.  The adult.  The chick with the red hair.  That person that just crawled out of her room for a cup of tea to calm her nerves after a run in with her PTSD.  The Kelsey who FINALLY has friends who are female!  That girl you don’t want to cross the wrong way, ‘cause she can have a sassy attitude just like her Grandma.   The one who won’t let you get away with an offensive comment.  The counseling major who will hopefully be getting her masters three years from now. And the Kelsey who is emerging into a new stage in her life.

OH!  Speaking of three years… guess who will have a clean driving record for three years this New Year’s Eve.  That’s right.  No more bad driver comments people!

In conclusion, I just want to thank you all for the support and friendship you’ve shown me.  It’s been a confusing year of a lot of “firsts” and “new” and it’s been good to have new friends open their arms to me, and old friends being my support back home.

So… Here’s to 2012!

Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?

WARNING:  FEMALE BODIES AHEAD

Can I be honest with you?  Like really really honest?

I have hated my body for years.

(This is the point where all 3 people reading this will sigh because the ‘honest’ statement was kind of a give in.)

I mean really, what female these days doesn’t have something she doesn’t like about her body?

I’ve been noticing a lot of self-image stuff lately… And not in a good way.

Like on Pinterest, every day there’s posts like this:

A picture like this shows up entitled “PERFECT BODY!” and  “Inspiration!”

I don’t know about you guys… but I’m concerned about that woman’s nutrition.  I can see her ribs on both her sides and up at her collar bones.  Her abdomen is so thin I wonder if she is able to menstruate in a healthy pattern.  And she has so little muscle I can only imagine how weak she is…

Part of me feels terrible for ripping apart her body, and at the same time – we need a wake up call!

Media’s image of “perfect” is unhealthy!

A photo has recently been circulating the internet, trying to get people to realize how crazy our demands on the female body are.


This is today’s “plus sized” model.  With surgical lines drawn to depict how much her body would have to be altered to achieve the Barbie body.

uhmm… THAT’S NUTS PEOPLE!  Like really, really nuts!  (not to mention the fact that she’s considered PLUS SIZED)

Now let’s get personal…

WARNING: MY FEMALE BODY AHEAD

In 4th grade, my sister and my neighbor told me I stood like a banana and that I looked like a duck.

In 6th grade, my teacher separated the class pulling all but me and one girl aside saying that the other girls were skinny and us two leftovers… not so much.

In 7th grade, a fellow classmate called me a beached whale.

In 8th grade, a boy told me he was “OK” with me being somewhat chubbier than the other girls he knew.

In 9th grade, someone asked me if I had ever considered breast reduction surgery.

In 10th grade, a man asked if my sister and I were twins.  When we told him that Haley was older, he looked confused and said to me “But you are fatter!”

I could go on and on.

Word sting.  And they all have added to the lens of how I have looked at myself for the past who knows how many years.

One of the most difficult things for me is that I have been the SAME height and weight since 7th grade.  I am 5’5.5” and I weigh 145lbs.   As a sophomore in college, it’s not a really big deal anymore… but as a 7th grader.  That was a big deal (no pun intended).

Until 10th grade, I was always taller than the boys around me.   I was always bigger than my gal pals.  People were always commenting on my wide hips, which have lovingly been entitled “the harding hips” since they seem to run in my family.

-My friends always had the flat-hey-if-I-flex-you-can-see-my-six-pack bellies.
-They had the small, cute, perky boobs.
-They had the thighs that didn’t touch each other when they stood straight.
-They had the arms that didn’t wiggle when they brushed their teeth.

Add onto that, that I come from a family of very thin women.
-My mom decided to join my dad on his diet and her friends told her to stop before she got too skinny.
-My oldest sister played soccer for her college on scholarship and understandably had that great athletic body.
-My other older sister could wear any new trend without having cleavage spill out everywhere or her body look like a pregnant potato.
-My youngest sister is a straight bean pole.  She’s got runway body.

Then there’s me.
-In a family of thin girls, I got the curves.
-In a family of athletic girls, I got the asthma and the side stitches.
-In a family of smaller-chested girls, I got enough boobage for all 4 of us daughters.


I have never thought I was overweight or too fat.  But ever since 4th grade, I always saw myself as that “Could lose some poundage” kind of person.

That’s changed.  Dramatically.

How?


In 12th grade, I had someone tell me that my body is the exact type that psychologically communicates “fertile” to men…and therefor makes it attractive.  Being someone who wants to be mother, that struck me in a positive way despite the fact that they had just likened me to a psychological sign of a breeding ground.

In my first semester of college, I did some research and discovered that I have the exact same measurements as Marilyn Monroe – she owned sexiness like none other.

and in the past year, God has shown me value of being made in His image.

I am a representation of HIM.   I reflect His glory, His creativity, and His beauty.   There is nothing more peaceful than looking into the mirror and seeing “loved” and “made in His image” instead of “chubby” and “awkward.”


Honestly, I think the cherry on top was dying my hair red (pun intended… hopefully you got it).   I like to tell people that my hair color is like my personality… too crazy to be normal… but too normal to be crazy.  It’s what made me see myself as… well, me.

I recently looked in the mirror at myself.  Red hair.  Big nose.  Wide hips.  Scars.  Stretch marks.  Cellulite.  and all.  And I loved it.

I took a picture of myself, and wrote in black what I used to see and in red what I remind myself of every time I start to hate on my body.

I didn’t see a lack of “beauty.” – I saw “unique” which made it beautiful.

I didn’t see “fat.” – I saw “full and soft” which reminded me I was healthy and feminine.

I didn’t see an “awkward girl.” – I saw a woman, confident and comfortable with who she was.

The best part was walking away from the mirror, and realizing that I was also PMSy and bloated.


I am beautiful.

I will tell myself that every time I look down at the rolls on my belly, or the stretch marks on my legs, or my jiggling arms, or my bumpy, curved nose.

I have a healthy youthful body.  And I will continue to remind myself that I am made in God’s image even when I’m saggy and wrinkled.   If I marry someone, he will be the kind of guy who wants to work out with me because he wants me to be healthy, not because he wants me to look different – and he will see me as beautiful and tell me that despite the world’s definitions of my imperfections.

This clay is learning to be comfortable with the way the potter made her.

So embrace who you are and how you look.

Remind yourself that you are made in God’s image
which makes you beautiful in it of itself.

Remember that unique is beautiful, not uniformity –
and confidence is attractive, not worry.

Find the positive.  Cherish the “negative.”

And never forget to…