April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Two thirds of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
Over half of sexual assaults are never reported to the police and 98% of rapists never spend a day in jail.

Pay attention.  Look out for those around you.  Educate your children, teens, and college students.  Reach out and support those who have experienced this trauma.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help through the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline https://ohl.rainn.org/online/

I also recommend the books “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman and “Rid of My Disgrace” by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.  I can promise you that those books were a huge aid to me.  I may have thrown them against the wall in anger and grief a few times, but overall they were the help and words I needed.

While this isn’t a subject I like to be overly public about, it is by no means one that I’ve kept completely private either.   Most of the time when I end up going somewhere public to talk about it, it’s here on this blog.   In fact, if you go to the right hand side of your screen, click on the “Categories” drop down, and select “November 7th” you’ll see that I’ve had many blog posts stem from this subject.

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I wish I could travel back in time to the girl who wrote this years ago and just give her a hug and say “It’s not alright… but you are going to be alright.”

The Many Faces of “Beauty”

So, today I was scrolling through my facebook news feed and I ran into a post from a radio station back in Minnesota.  They’re holding a contest for its listeners in which they have to post their before and after pictures of them getting dolled up to when a $1,000 makeover by a beauty school in the area.

http://www.kdwb.com/photos/main/from-not-to-hot-entries-for-384960/22340783/#/0/22340783

Thinking it would be cool to see all the before and after shots, I decided to click on the link and flip through the pictures. Only all I found was over a hundred of examples of what is wrong with our society. So many women who are naturally beautiful without makeup just caking their faces with inches of eyeliner to “define” their previously stunning eyes, eyebrows drawn on 10x heavier than the youtube tutorial they watched, bright red lips that look like plastic,and purple and bleach blonde streaks in fried out hair… It was heart breaking.

Now, if anyone knows me, they know I am a big fan of beauty products. This is the girl who had hair the color of red velvet cake for years.  Now a days, I’m lucky if I put on makeup more than once a week or if my hair ever gets out of its sloppy ponytail.  But I get it.  It’s fun to get dolled up, curl your hair, dye it funky colors, etc. And I love winged eyeliner and Taylor Swift red lips as much as the next girl. But when you see so many women masking their natural beauty in attempts to achieve a look that pinterest is telling us will make us beautiful, you can’t help but wonder how lost we really are.

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The first picture is me without any makeup
The second is me going for that fun pin up look complete with the Marilyn Monroe beauty mark
The third is me following every tutorial on
-“how to tightline your eyes”
-“how to apply mascara to look like falsies”
-“perfect eyebrows”
-“how to contour your face”
-“how to use drug store products to get the perfect nude lips”
-and “best smokey eye tutorial ever” (I also threw in my best attempt at a duck face for you)
The fourth and last photo is pretty much how I apply my makeup if I’m going to put any on for the day.

All of those pictures give off a different impression.  You gather different assumptions of the girl you see based off of what her makeup is like.  And honestly, I don’t think I look that “beautiful” when I try to follow the beauty rules for looking perfect.  Because in reality, beauty isn’t about looking the same.  Beauty is found in the things that make us different.

Your beauty is your personality expressed through your style. It’s your joy that shines through your smile.  It’s your heart shown through the expressions on your face.  It’s your freckles, your round cheeks, your high cheekbones, your deep brown eyes.   It’s not your makeup.

Experiment with eye shadows, play up your cheeks with a bright pop of color, curl your hair into the latest hollywood style, get some fun highlights or a dramatic haircut, but don’t lose sight of the fact that these things are designed to accent the beauty you were born with, not to morph your image into an artificial copy of what media is showing us. My suggestion is to try going a week without make up. Maybe even two. Then look up youtube tutorials on how to use make up for a “natural” look.  You’d be surprised how comfortable less makeup can be.

When it comes to beauty products, less really is more.  Don’t buy into the idea that you need to “put on your face” in the morning.  Your face is already there.  Makeup should not be used as a means to hide your “flaws” or make your face look like everyone else’s. It should be used as a way to showcase your beautiful blue eyes, your gorgeous cheekbones, your edgy style, or your bubbly personality.  Don’t use it to “make yourself pretty” because beauty products aren’t what makes you pretty.  You’re already stunning as it is.








Bonus:  In my attempts to wash off the heavily caked makeup in the third picture, I splashed water on my face like a neutrogena commercial then blinked a couple times… and this is the result I got.    Less make up = less runny mascara when you cry
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Hey, wanna snort some coke? No? How bout we play flappy bird?

“This game is evil!”
“I hate my friend for introducing to this game!”
“The game is not fun, but it is addicting.”

These are things that I have heard and seen people say about this game called “Flappy Bird.”  Everyone is talking about it.  It quickly became the most downloaded app in a week.  Then the creator destroyed everyone’s lives by deleting it.  And my instant response was “NO.”

To be fair… My instant response was “no” mostly because I hate jumping on bandwagons. Call it my “pre-hipster snobbery complex” (that I’ve had since I was at least 10… before hipsters were even a twinkle in the sociomusic scene’s eye) ((please tell me you saw what I did there).  ANYWAYS,  I’ve been this way for a long time, and it drives my mom crazy.  I refused to ever get into Harry Potter (still have not read or seen any harry potter book/movie)… In junior high everyone started reading Ted Dekker books and it took me two years to be willing to touch one… I turned my nose up so high at all things Twilight.  And yes… I have snubbed the Hunger Games as well.  I do it PURELY out of pride and a desire to be different and possibly to make myself feel like I’m better than those who give in to bandwagon.  It’s BAD.  Seriously.  If I was to sit in a sermon on pride… this is right where my mind would go.  But then you add in the fact that everyone is saying it’s addicting… and that’s when I knew I couldn’t touch it.

Seriously, I’m currently on level 419 on Candy Crush.  I have procrastinated dozens of papers, blanked out of hundreds of one-on-one conversations, and tuned out of thousands of class lectures because of that game.  I know how bad addicting app games can be.  I knew I couldn’t get into flappy bird.  So every time I saw those two words on my social media time lines… I quickly kept scrolling.  I couldn’t let myself even read what people were saying about it.  But now and then, I would see a post, hear a conversation, scroll a little slower over that buzzfeed article… and eventually I was curious.

I thought to myself… “I mean, everyone else is doing it. It looks fun!”  and decided to make a deal with myself.  I would download it, play it for a couple minutes to see what it was all about, then delete the app before I went to sleep.

So there I was, sitting in bed, reading the app reviews while I waited for it to download.  I sat there with a smug  smile on my face thinking of how fun it was going to be be to beat my roommates score effortlessly and send her a screen shot.   I started up the app and made my first flappy bird tap ever.

And got a score of zero.

I laughed at myself, shrugging it off that I just wasn’t ready and didn’t understand how high the bird would go when I tapped, and I played it again.  Zero.  Again.  Zero.  Zero.  Zero.  Zero.  Then FINALLY I got one point.  One measly little point.  And then I remembered the words of my roommate “It took me an hour to get past four!”  And determination set in.   I focused on the screen, played around with tapping variations, tried to establish a rhythm, played round after round after round.  5 minutes of playing had gone by and I was still stuck at 3.  I wondered how bad I must have been to not be getting anywhere.  I realized by this point I had played longer than “a couple minutes” and still had not reached my goal.  So I said screw it and kept playing.

It was so easy to play.  I was hooked.  Game play lasted only a few seconds and you could just easily restart.  And unlike candy crush, you weren’t limited to a certain amounts of lives.  Endless game play.    I found myself zoned in and hooked like I had never been with candy crush or mario kart or jigsaw puzzles.  I found myself physically reacting in anger to the game, especially with all those ads that slowed the game down and made it glitch out.  I realized what was going on and it was scary.

That’s when I made myself delete it and vowed not to touch the game again.  Why?  Because it’s just not wise.   First off, you’re choosing to do something that you know is addictive just to experience some fun.  Um, hello? Drugs?  Secondly, what an awful way to treat yourself.  The game builds up your confidence, making you think “I can do it!  I can beat my high score!” only for you to fail at such a seemingly simple task, destroying your confidence and making you feel stupid.  And thirdly, part of the draw people have to this game is trying to beat each others high scores. Not in a sportsmanlike competition kind of way, but in a bragging, pride, “I want to humiliate you by proving I’m better” kind of way.   Remember that smug smile I had at the thought of crushing my roommates hopes and dreams by screen shotting my high score to her?  Hello, worm in my heart that is sin.  Nice to see you and your oh-so blatantly pleasurable evil self again.

I’m glad the creator removed it from the app store.  I really wonder what it says about our society that we can willingly allow ourselves to get sucked in to a simplistic game and become so invested in it in all the wrong ways.  I mean really, people are trying to sell their phones with flappy bird on it for anywhere between $300 to $100,000.  This is ridiculous guys.  C’mon!

I get it.  It’s just a game.  It’s just some simple fun.  But everyone needs to stop and check themselves.  Know your limits.  If you can enjoy this game without letting yourself play it for hours on end?  Play it.  If you can send your high scores back and forth with your friends with nothing but friendly competition as your motive?  Go ahead.  If you can play this game without screaming at your phone or chucking it?  Have fun.   But if you recognize that you’re going too far, show some discernment and delete it.  You’re better off without it.

The Hipster Freshman: A “How To” Guide on Being the Savviest New Kid Around

Being hipster is cool right now.  Don’t do what everyone else is doing.  Be one step ahead of the game.  Do something trendy before it becomes trendy.   And if you’re a true hipster, this applies to every area of your life.  It comes with ease.   But nothing tests the hipster soul more than that one sacred rite of passage.  College.

I’m not talking any kind of college experience.  I’m talking the freshman college experience.  You just graduated high school.  You were a senior.  The top dog.  You were the coolest of the cool.  You were aloof.  And now you’re off to embark on a new journey.  You’re going to do it right.  You’re striking off on your own without the parental units.  You’re establishing your identity.  Watch out life.  Here comes… you!

But how can you be “the new kid in town” without sticking out like a sore thumb?  How do you blend in?  How can you avoid being…. well… This guy.
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Being someone who has gone through the freshman orientation process twice (that’s what you get for transferring after your first semester), and has been an orientation leader every semester since, I think I can offer some solid advice to the (high school) Class of 2013 on how to be cool, how to smoothly glide into campus life, and how to blend in even as a freshman.  Because to be perfectly and brutally honest, you’re not as impressive as you were in high school anymore.  That doesn’t mean you aren’t special, or loved, or unique.  It just means all those “top dog” points you’ve been used to having… They’ve been wiped clean.

But before you read any of this… Remember, we were all freshman at some point.   The reason we can spot these things is because we all did them. Being a freshman isn’t a problem.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Your campus is excited to have you.   So why would someone need a “how to guide” on how to not be an obvious freshman?  The things freshmen do that make them so obviously a freshman are things that clog up the system.   They slow down everyday life on campus.  They cause traffic to stop, lines to gather, and pedestrian collisions.  It’s not a problem to be a freshman, it’s just a good idea to try to slide into the campus life as quickly and smoothly as possible as to not inconvenience the people around you too much.  So consider this a guide to transitioning into the daily college flow.

With that being said, here is my best advice!

Your lanyard

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I get it.  It’s cool.  It’s convenient.  But don’t.   Don’t wear it with the lanyard hanging out of your pocket.  Don’t you dare wear it around your neck.  Or worse… wear it with around your neck with your keys and ID on it.  This is the #1 sure-fire way to spot a freshman.  This isn’t so much a functionality “flow of campus” kind of situation.  It just screams “FRESHMAN!” and if you’re trying to avoid that, stuff that lanyard in your pocket for no one to see.


Campus Maps

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Campus is new.  There are so many buildings.  But if you’re walking around with a map of campus?  You look like a tourist at disney land.   Do yourself a favor and snap a picture of the campus map on your smart phone.  No one questions someone looking at their phone.  And if you’re lost, don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

Groups

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Gee, I’d love to get to class faster, but this huge group of people is taking up the entire walkway.  I wonder if they’re freshmen?  Of course they are!  Freshmen tend to travel in packs.  It’s all those best friends they’ve made, ya know?  I like to call it a “flock of freshmen.”   If you make a lot of friends, that’s great.  As a senior, most of the people I’m friends with now were not the people I hung out with my freshmen year.  But that’s not to say that a social life is not vital to your college experience.  I’m glad you’re making friends, but please.  Do not walk in huge groups.  And if you do, walk on the grass.  Not on the road or the sidewalks.   My college has one main road that runs through campus and the shuttles from the apartment buildings drive on this road.  But for some reason the freshmen every year think that road is a giant side walk for them and their friends.   What’s worse is the freshmen who do not MOVE OFF THE ROAD when the shuttle comes.  Like seriously, don’t block traffic.  Ever.  Make friends.  Hang out in groups.  JUST DON’T BLOCK THE ROAD.

Talking About High School

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You may have been the only captain of the varsity basketball team in high school… but at this school, there are dozens of other students who were the captain of their varsity sports team as well.  You got into the same college as everyone around you, there’s no need to brag about your SAT or ACT score.  Please leave your Letterman jacket at home (I love mine too – the picture above is actually my Letterman jacket – but that phase of life is over).  Maybe tell those “funny high school memory” stories a couple times.  But if your RA knows the names of your 5 closest high school friends by the end of orientation, you need to shut up about high school.  It’s not to devalue your high school experience.  It’s not that it wasn’t important.  You just have to understand that your high school experience is not your college experience.  It isn’t the reality you’re living in any more.  And it’s not an experience that your peers share with you.  Reminiscing is great and don’t be afraid to talk about high school now and then, but people will get bogged down if that’s the only thing you want to talk about.

Trays

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Note: This may be something that is exclusive to my university.  Not every school goes by this standard.

A few years back, the student government at my school decided to take a green initiative at my school.  They encouraged everyone to stop using trays in the cafeteria so there would be less dishes to wash.   And it worked.  People stopped using trays.  But the trays are still there.  So every year, when the freshmen come to campus.  They see the trays at the front of the cafeteria and they grab one.  This clogs up the lines, slows down the process, and keeps everyone away from their food that much longer.  There are very few things as scary as hungry grumpy people.  Do yourself and the people around you a favor, and don’t get a tray.   If you don’t go to my school, your best bet is to watch the RA’s and see what they’re doing.  Simple as that.  Trays at my university are one of the fastest ways to spot a freshman.  The only other people who carry trays are visitors and that elderly professor who wears a bow tie every day. (He’s my favorite).

So there you have it.  Those are my 5 pieces of advice to avoid being an obvious freshman.   Remember, it’s not a problem to be a freshman.  It’s just important that you’re transitioning into the campus community quickly.  You want to fit in and be welcomed.  The best way to do that is to show the upperclassmen that you’re thinking about a little more than just yourself.  If you do the things I mentioned to avoid being an inconvenience, you’ll quickly gain respect from those people around you.  And don’t forget, this is exciting!  You’re going into college!  You’re starting your adult life.  Have fun with it!

Ignorance On Twitter Kept Me Up All Night

My friends have gotten an earful from me about people saying “gay” as in “stupid.”
There’s a whole website dedicated to ending the derogatory use of retard(ed).
People on my campus debate all the time about who can use the N-word and who can’t.
But it’s time we talked about another word/phrase that we need to stop using.

And for those of you who just read that, rolled your eyes, and thought “People need to stop being so sensitive!”

Shut up.  Just shut up, sit down, and listen to me.

It’s time we stop joking about sexual abuse, not only joking, but trivializing it.

If you did an awesome job on a test, good job.  You did an awesome job on the test.  But no, you didn’t “rape it.”

If someone says they were raped, assaulted, abused, molested, used, etc. No matter what their character is, no matter how they present themselves, no matter how they dress, no matter how many hook ups they’ve had, no matter how many times you’ve caught them lying before… You believe them, you support them, and you find them help.  You don’t laugh about it to your friends or brush it off.

And seriously, if I hear one more trivialized comparison between a sexual remark and sexual abuse, I will throw my already-broken-laptop out the window.

Don’t understand what I’m talking about?  Let me explain…

Some students from my university put together a page where people could anonymously submit crushes and flirty remarks. Some of the comments have said things like “Jane Doe has the best butt on campus” “I’d like to ride John Smith” and “SoAndSo can pop out of a cake for me ;)”  Yes, they are sexual.  Yes, they are over-the-top.  Yes, they are inappropriate.  But the responses I’ve seen against this page have boiled my blood.

Obviously, people have spoken out against this page.  Calling it “immature” “rude” “offensive” “degrading” “disgusting” “childish” and many… MANY.. other words.  Seeing as how most of the posts on the page are silly, humorous, or things like “This guy is such a cutie” “She is so gorgeous” and seeing how even the inappropriate comments are mild… I think it is an overreaction. Out of the 54 posts on that site 12 could be stretched to be considered inappropriate.   BUT on to my point…

One dissenter of the page wrote “it is nothing less than a form of sexual abuse.” and that’s when I knew I would write this post.

Sexual abuse is “a crime to knowingly cause another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat.”  Yes, those remarks can be considered inappropriate.  But sexually abusive?  Not a chance.  Degrading?  I wouldn’t even go there either.  Degrading is to de-grade someone, to lower them down in rank.  These comments, although inappropriate and immature, were intended to give someone a confidence boost, not to humiliate someone.  I can’t bring myself to call them degrading.  It’s just mindless people.  Not abusive.  And honestly, half of those posts were probably written by guys and their roommates about each other as jokes.

If you still stand by this idea that the people posting on the site are hypocrites and dirty pigs… and if you still think that what is being said on that site is sexually abusive.  Consider this.  Have you ever been locked in a room, pinned down, struggling to keep unfriendly hands and other body parts away from exploiting you?  I have.  I am a survivor of sexual abuse.  Survivor.  It’s a term applied to victims to honor and empower their strength to heal.  And I find it offensive that my assault gets classified in the same category as “That guy, the crazy one on the volleyball team, he can give it to me any day.”

To the person who said “it is nothing less than a form of sexual abuse,” I don’t know you.  I don’t even think we’ve ever said hi to each other.  But I will say this.  That page is MANY things less than a form of sexual abuse.  I’m not saying this to attack you or vent my anger.  I’m saying this to open people’s eyes.

I understand that the Christian community can be highly sheltered and doesn’t talk about sexual things outside of “I get to have sex because I’m married!  It’s awesome!” “Ye perverse sinners.  How dare you look at porn or quote Family Guy!” or “This is my testimony… BUT JESUS.” I would be willing to say that Christians are so afraid of how desensitized our culture is to sexuality, that they have over-sensitized themselves.  But seriously, let’s get our definitions right.  Don’t confuse stupid innuendos with sexual abuse.  Doing that trivializes the traumatic experience that someone has gone through.

Sexual abuse can tear apart families, destroy marriages, and ruin lives.  I’ve seen it cause problems for my friends and their relationships.  I’ve seen it make peers run out of classrooms sobbing from triggered memories.  I’ve seen it take over and consume my mind.  It is real.  And it is serious.

People need to understand the weight their words have.  No more talk of how your team “raped” the other team.  No more disregarding or worse, laughing at, that girl’s claims that she got molested by her date.  And no more labeling things as “sexual abuse” that are merely inappropriate.

Don’t be so quick to give something a weighty label in order to drive home your message.   You have no idea who you can hurt by doing that.

Quick Post: 10 Tips to Pulling A Successful All-Nighter

It’s 4am during finals week and I have way too many words left to go on this paper that’s due by noon.  But I needed a mental break, so I’m giving you all free-advice that you probably already knew if you have ever googled “How to pull an all nighter” like me.

(Note: I kept this list short because if you’re actually trying to pull an all nighter right now, you really should be working and not reading this.)

1. Caffeine and 5 Hour Energy – They’re a must.
2. Public places with other people – You’re less likely to fall asleep.
3. LOTS of ice water – Keeps you hydrated and alert, plus nobody can sleep when they have to pee.
4. Burt’s Bees – Rub on the skin under your eyes when you’re desperate to stay awake.
5. Nutrition – Fruits, veggies, multivitamins, and protein are essential to keeping your body alert.
6. Food – (yes this is different than nutrition) Apparently chewing stuff stimulates your brain.  And honestly, I am always looking for excuses to eat.
7. DO NOT SHOWER – Unless its a cold shower.
8. Set alarms on your phone for intervals of time if you REALLY feel like you’re going to sleep.
9. Music – Specifically upbeat, high-pitched, annoying stuff you can’t fall asleep to.
10. Breaks and Rewards – You’re not a work horse.  Don’t think you can just power through the night.  Give yourself mental breaks (like the one I’m giving myself right now!) and reward yourself for accomplishments.

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

Tired of the Sandy Hype?

Dear people saying “It’s just a hurricane. I’ve seen lots of them before. I’m not worried/doing anything to prepare” or people getting frustrated with others freaking out about Hurricane Sandy,

1. Welcome to the world of social media. Guess what? Everyone’s also gonna post statuses about Christmas on Dec 25th. Just you wait.

2. This is not “just a hurricane.” People are right to be anxious or anticipatory about this. This is 3 storms (an Arctic blast, a normal winter storm, and Hurricane Sandy) that are all merging together right above our heads to create the largest and slowest moving hybrid storm in history (hybrid is NEVER a good word when it comes to weather.  Weather does not mix well.)  Sandy alone would be destructive. Most hurricanes move on quickly, but because she’s so large and slow, we’ll be experiencing 75mph winds for a much longer period of time, which can cause a lot of damage. The longevity of the storm and the lack of precedent for anything quite like this should be causing you to pay attention.Image

Words/phrases that have been used to describe this storm?
“no tropical storm or hurricane has been larger”
“catastrophic”
“historic”
“worse than Katrina”
“the worst-case scenario coming true”
“beyond anything anyone has experienced”
“enough energy to make it more powerful than the ‘Perfect Storm'”
“an unprecedented, destructive and dangerous storm”
“biggest storm in US history”
“even the old salts who have seen storms come and go are fearing the worst.”

I think I’m gonna stick with what the trained professionals are saying and take this seriously.

Pray for safety and wisdom. Let’s stop taking this lightly, stop celebrating about cancelled classes, and stop complaining about people freaking out about it. Unprecedented historic devastation is on its way.  Lives are about to be lost.  Homes are about to be destroyed.  Damages are going to cost more than $100 billion. So be prepared for this.

Laugh at me now for being prepared and giving thought to this, but don’t try making excuses later when Sandy’s got you not laughing anymore.