It has been such a privilege to be your aunt. I vividly remember the evening your parents first shared they were expecting a baby (that turned out to be you). We were vacationing together in Flagstaff and we'd gone out to eat. Over dinner your dad nonchalantly smiled, then gushed that they were going to be parents. We laughed and screamed and dreamed together that night. (Of course I also remember when your dad called to tell me he was stealing the name Madison for their new baby girl. But that's basically a non-story given the outcome. )
Over the years I've watched as you've grown and it has been a joy. From tea parties with grandma and Barbies and Polly Pockets to piano lessons and acting and cheerleading. Through it all you've been my daughter's closest confidante and encourager and you've become a young woman seeking after God. (Not to mention that you're stunningly gorgeous and taller than me. )
And last night you graduated from 8th grade.
Speaking of which...It has come to my attention that at that ceremony you were presented the Martha Award. Congratulations!
However, this is puzzling to me. Not because you don't deserve an award, but because I don't understand why they'd give you (or any other woman they cared about) this one. I understand that the intent is to recognize one eighth grade girl for her devotion to service; for her ability and willingness to accomplish tasks behind the scenes where it often goes unnoticed. What I find more difficult to grasp is why they call that the "Martha Award."
In case you've not studied the story of Martha, let me summarize. While Martha is known for her tireless devotion to acts of service, she is primarily remembered for missing the point. Called out. Publicly. By Jesus. Ouch! And this occurs in the context of her service. (To be fair, I don't believe Jesus was chastising her for serving, but for believing that she was holier than her sister because she was busier.)
It seems a bit like presenting an eighth grade boy with the Thomas Award. Yes, he was a disciple and he ultimately died for the sake of the gospel, but he's primarily known for doubting. (There isn't a Thomas Award, is there?)
So here's my proposal...
I think there should be a Hannah Kredit Award. From 2014 on, one young woman should be chosen who represents the amazing qualities I see in you. Here are the highlights:
1. A gifted performer who comes alive on stage and then effortlessly moves to serve behind the scenes.
2. An encourager who finds deep joy in highlighting the beauty of others.
3. A hard worker who embraces the joy of the journey instead of succumbing to the relentless pursuit of perfection
4. Tall. I just think she should be tall.
5. An intelligent young woman who works hard but doesn't need to prove anything because her identity is in Christ
6. A creative dreamer who is fully content to live in the moment.
I'm aware that this blog post may go down as another one of Aunt Kelli's little rants. I hope so. Because I'll rant all day to ensure that you know how special you are! (Wait until next year when I write this post for Madison!) The last thing I want to do is diminish in any way the accomplishments of your elementary school years. You rock!
So take all of this with a grain of salt. Hold what seems good and right and discard what doesn't fit. You're smart. You'll figure it out!
There was a rather lengthy season in my life where cleaning the house was an "as needed" activity. Translation: I cleaned when people were coming over. What? I lived in a house full of toddlers, I was working outside the home and, lets face it, I've never really been a clean freak.
Guests are coming!
On one ambitious Saturday I decided it was time to grow up and partake of this domestic weekend ritual. I rounded up the kids and told them we were going to clean the house.
Caleb's first questions--"Who's coming over?"
When I explained that we were cleaning because the house was a mess, they stared at me, expressionless. I had literally blown their minds.
The Tourists are Coming!
This is my second spring in this beach town and this year I'm noticing the preparation rituals all around me. In a matter of weeks the tourists will arrive. They'll travel from just over the hill and from across the globe, but when they get here they'll enter freshly painted store fronts and drive newly repaired roads and recline on freshly packed beaches.
The younger, cynical (and hypocritical) Kelli shakes her head and bemoans the blatant "image management". But the older, wiser Kelli recognizes the value in this ritual. The healthiness, in fact, of engaging in seasons of "cleaning up." This preparation is filled with anticipation and hope. For a community dependent on tourism, much is riding on these next few months and we want to be found ready.
Jesus is Coming!
Today, Jesus used these pictures to remind of my need for a spiritual house cleaning. In the busyness of life and the daily grind its easy to let things go.
This isn't a renovation--there's been no house fire or flood or earthquake. But my goal has always been to take a day each quarter to re-calibrate and its time.
Time to pause and do something about the cracks in the pavement and the chips in the paint and the garbage strewn throughout. To ask forgiveness and receive it. To repent. To check the map and discern whether I'm on the right path. To pray and allow myself to be filled with his strength. To listen and obey. To be still.
And to anticipate a day, yet to come, when Christ, WHO IS MY LIFE, returns.
6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:
“Praise the Lord!
For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
Revelation 19:6-8 (NLT)
Reality hits in waves as I age.
At 20, my eyes were opened to all I could be and I embarked on realizing my greatest potential. This wasn't about vocation or notoriety. I simply wanted to fix my unhealthiness. To work through all of my issues and get my "healthy" stamp. I showed myself to be a hard worker emotionally and the future looked bright.
There were moments when I admitted the impossibility of my goal. I would never be perfect. But couldn't I be a really, really good version of myself?
But today, I'm aware again that I'm more than a tweak away from "dealing with my issues." Admitting this has seemed unspiritual to me. Isn't God able to redeem my unhealthy patterns of relating? Isnt that just a cop out? An excuse for bad behavior?
I don't think so. In fact, to deny this reality is to live inauthentically. Hopelessly dependent on my own strength or ability.
I've got intimacy issues. I often prefer to be alone. Yes. Some of it is introversion. But some of it is just plain fear and the result of past wounds.
And, my humanness.
I'm making progress, but in the end the chasm is too vast. Ultimately, there will be no closure on my self-improvement project and much of the good that comes from my life will be in spite of who I am, not because of who I am. That doesn't mean these imperfections and idiosyncrasies can be redeemed. It just means they don't result in my perfection, but in the perfection of God's purposes.
Of all the things I've never wanted to be, an angry woman is at the top of the list. An astute observer of cultures, I realized early on that angry women were not welcome in the church. Quite frankly, they weren't welcomed anywhere, but the church had an arsenal of spiritual weapons to use against them and I did not want to be on the receiving end of this kind of criticism.
I would rather be marginalized, objectified and silenced than be labeled an angry woman.
And so it has been.
I've flirted with 'angry' in the past. In my twenties I was forced to address the underlying anger because I was literally vomiting it out of me in the form of an eating disorder.
In my thirties another layer surfaced and I went through a 'swearing' phase. I'm told it was hilarious. Cute, even.
And now it's back. I'm angry. Still hesitant to embrace it, it leaks out slowly. Often surfacing at the most inopportune times. An offhand comment has a little too much bite. What sounds like an affectionate jab in my head comes out as a punch in the gut.
Earlier this week I sat down with an unsuspecting group of pastors and they invited me to share about my experience as a woman in the church. I would not have told the truth to everyone, but to these brave men I chose to entrust just a bit of my story. The raw emotion that curled up from deep inside took me off guard, but these good shepherds seemed unfazed by my messiness.
Infinitely more surprising than the rage, was the compassion I experienced on the other side. In the wake of my anger, I discovered the tenderness I'd been searching for.
I recognize the bread crumbs God is laying out for me. His invitation to walk through this dark forest of frustration. Not alone and for a purpose. Trusting there is no other path to the open spaces on the other side of this blackness.
Because now I know that the only way to avoid becoming an angry woman is to get angry.
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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