coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, nature, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, water, women

How God Smooths Our Rough Edges

We all have a new normal these days. Now we work from home, homeschool our children, and social distance from others.

On day two of homeschooling, it was a gorgeous day outside and two of my three kids had a nature walk in their lesson plan. Their assignment was to sketch signs of spring. One child had been learning about wetlands and we decided it was a perfect day for a field trip. 

We headed to Pony Pasture. †his outdoor gem is a stretch of property running adjacent to the James River in Richmond, VA. The area is filled with rocks you can climb or sunbathe on and the wildlife is plentiful.  

I was reminded of two important lessons on this field trip.

First, kids can’t sit still and be quiet. I encouraged my children to close their eyes, be silent, and absorb the sounds around us like the rushing water. Less than a minute went by and they were asking me questions, throwing sticks into the water, calling out mommy, and eventually fighting with each other.  

I have spent the last four years learning how to slow down, be present, and hear God in the stillness. The surroundings were luring me to sit and be. My children, on the other hand, were not feeling the moment. Rather than go against the current, I decided to get up and keep moving. 

As I briefly reflected on the beauty of the rushing water, the rocks reminded me of our walk with God. They were all so different, each unique. As I gazed at a smooth oblong rock, I presumed that particular rock used to have sharp edges. Over time, the water had gradually smoothed over the rough areas, just like God does for us. When our past and sin create acute borders, He slowly washes His love over us and smooths our jagged parts.  

God’s love is consistent, always flowing just like the water I was noticing. The water bounced off the rocks unaffected and proceeded on down the river. It reminds me of how we ignore God’s advice for us, letting it ricochet off because of our hardness and stubbornness. Are we going to let our jagged edges hurt others, or will we let God slowly transform us?

God will smooth our bumpy patches if we let him. Just because we can’t see His hands molding us every day, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. He washes away our sin and cleanses us if we run towards Him and not away.

coronavirus, extroverts, faith, Family, introverts, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

Introvert vs Coronavirus

In my thirties I discovered I am an introvert. Before this realization I desperately tried to be an extrovert because who doesn’t want to be the fun, gregarious, life of the party? After swimming upstream for years, my body and soul eventually paid the price for trying to be something I am not.

Susan Cain wrote a fascinating book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain’s research illustrates a cultural bias towards extroverts, giving us a desire to exhibit such traits. Introverts have their own positive attributes when embraced.

After learning I was an introvert, I modified habits to create space for quiet in my day. Silence isn’t a bonus, it’s a requirement for me to be the best version of myself. Pre coronavirus I was doing a pretty good job of managing the noise. Now, we are home together all the time and a new routine must be crafted.

I am blessed with three beautiful girls. As you know females talk a lot, about twenty-thousand words a day. For me, multiplied by three, that’s a lot of words to absorb.

Introverts recharge with silence. This isn’t a selfish desire, it’s a fact. Constant noise drains me. I rejuvenate with activities such as walking, sitting in nature, reading, napping, writing, and being in silence. I struggle to hear God and my own thoughts amid commotion.

The coronavirus quarantine proves challenging. If you are an introvert with young kids you can relate. When the noise in the house reaches unbearable levels, I go for a walk or distance myself so I can re-enter and flourish the remainder of the day. These days are long and tiring, we must be aware of our needs to best take care of others.

On the other hand, extroverts are missing social stimulation. If I refuel, I am better equipped to fill the needs of my extroverted family members.

Carve out quiet, permit down time, and create healthy boundaries. I openly tell my kids mom needs a break and I sequester myself away from others. I recognize when the noise is overwhelming and give myself permission to walk away and regroup.

I get up early to absorb quiet and have time with God. I need Him to speak Scripture into my life. I fill my head and heart with the truth before the day begins.

Regardless of whether we are an introvert or extrovert, God crafted us this way, let’s embrace it and use it for His glory.

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Redefining Productivity

If you spend even a few moments on social media you will discover pictures, posts, and articles about staying productive during this extended time at home. People are cleaning, organizing, purging, even my father is going through old pictures and boxes in the basement. 

While I commend those folks, not everyone is in the same boat. It dawned on me after the first week of homeschooling that we might not be in a position to tackle extra projects right now. I would love to clean out the garage or paint the laundry room but these projects are not in my near future. My expectations needed readjustment.

I decided my normal high achieving self needed an extended vacation, otherwise there was going to be lots of screaming and stressed out children. If my daily goal is to homeschool, make bread from scratch, clean the house, work part-time, separate fighting children, plant a garden and declutter the house, I would be sorely frustrated.  

My new objective is to remain calm and mentally healthy and make lasting memories with my kids. If I push aside my unrealistic desires there is room for creativity. 

I got off social media temporarily so I would stop comparing myself to what others were doing. God blessed me with three unique daughters. When I compare to others who have different gifts than me, I set myself up for failure.  

Even if my days look unproductive by the world’s standards, if my home is filled with love and joy isn’t that a win in God’s eyes?

Can we find delight in each day? Can we embrace the things we are good at and teach our kids those skills?  

I have declared that CoronaVirus mom is way more fun, spontaneous and flexible than non-CoronaVirus mom. Even amid illness and suffering, I see God’s goodness and blessings every day. We acknowledge the hardship but in the end, choose joy.   

coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

God’s Love Conquers All

Love
Birthday
God
Jesus

How do you celebrate a 40th birthday when it falls during a time of social distancing and quarantine? A party is clearly out of the question. My creative husband and family did everything they could to make my 40th birthday special.

The morning felt normal, at least our new normal. In the afternoon we went for a hike. The day was sunny and sixty-five degrees, a gift in itself. After arriving back at home, I relaxed while my husband prepared dinner and my present.

I sat on the couch while he streamed a video to the television. For about thirty minutes the screen displayed an array of special people in my life from childhood through the present. Friends and family relived memories, uttered kind words, shared thoughts about our friendship or how I have impacted their lives. I cried and laughed as I watched in awe.

It was as if I got to hear eulogies for my own funeral without having to die. People opened up and said things they may not have said in person. I watched the video twice and decided it was the best present ever!

The following morning during my quiet time, I processed the array of emotions I was feeling. Sadly we all question our worth and influence at times, myself included. On the morning after my 40th birthday, I had no doubt I was loved and accepted, I had seen the proof.

I sat communing with God, praising Him for a memorable birthday. Even though I couldn’t be with friends or extended family, I was given an amazing intangible gift, the gift of love.

The Lord interpreted something to me that morning. He said, “Katie, this feeling of love you have today, I love you even more than that every day.” That blew my mind. I felt so saturated with love, how could He possibly love me more?

I wanted to retain this feeling of love and carry it with me. I wished to share it with others.

I have been praying Ephesians 3:17-19 for months. Now I could understood the reality of this verse.

“That I being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

While my birthday wasn’t exactly as I imagined, God in His goodness, showed me His abounding love for us.

How can we go about our day and life with this knowledge? What would we do differently?

coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

Minimalist Meets Corona

Paper towel and toilet paper aisle at BJ’s

I am a minimalist by nature. When it comes to inventory management in our home, specifically related to food, I tend to under-do my buying. It took me years of adjustment to increase my purchases to provide for a family of five. Thankfully, it’s been a gradual adjustment as each child develops and begins eating more and more.  

Buying extra of anything goes against my natural fibers. When others buy three, I buy one. When most buy at least one, I buy none. I don’t know how I got this way but it’s who I am.

I found myself at BJ’s stocking up because the world is in uncharted territory trying to manage a contagious virus. Shelves are empty and fear is everywhere. I called my husband asking for advice about how much I should purchase. I felt pretty good about my cart overflowing with items. This alone is an amazing accomplishment.

Over the phone, I asked him, “Why did we send a minimalist to stock up on food? This seems like a bad idea.” I can’t even fathom what thirty days of food looks like. How do you buy for that in one trip?

When minimalism collides with the ripple effect from the Coronavirus, things get tricky. My minimalism bleeds into other areas and as a result, there is an internal conflict between a feeling of scarcity and a desire to provide opportunities for creativity and fun. Just yesterday, my five-year-old daughter was independently attempting to make her own version of Vaseline. In the bathroom, she mixed a combination of toothpaste, water and hand soap. While I appreciate her imagination, I can’t exactly go to the store and stock up on liquid hand soap right now. How can we be responsible with our supplies without instilling fear in our kids?  

Thankfully we have a God who provides for us abundantly, especially when it comes to the intangibles in life like love, joy, peace, play, creativity, silliness, and laughter. While I might be trying to encourage responsible usage of toilet paper in my house, maybe this is the time to embrace our creative and silly side? Maybe these intangibles are powerful weapons during a time of uncertainty. God does not withhold from us, we just forget to ask. Why shouldn’t we sing, dance, love, and be silly? What’s holding us back?  

It’s critical to have earnest conversations because we are all feeling an onslaught of emotions. However, if I remain in a state of permanent gloom, my hope and joy dwindle and I tend to take my kids down with me. If I can insert joy and fun into the house our spirits lift. How will we ever know the magnitude of God’s unrelenting love and abilities if we limit His access? 

faith, Family, religious, skiing, Uncategorized, women

Where is the man in the Green Pants?

Where is the man in the Green Pants?

We recently went to Steamboat, Colorado skiing. While packing, I began feeling ill (don’t worry, it wasn’t corona). The first days of our trip I couldn’t swallow nor sleep. In desperation, I sought medical guidance and received a prescription to remedy strep throat.

After two days my health was improved but not 100%. I declared I was going skiing. It was a gorgeous sunny day and I was done sitting on the sideline.

Jonathan and I had an opportunity to ski together because our kids were in ski school. I grew up skiing and knew I’d be able to get down the slopes. What I lacked was a right mind and a sense of direction. My brain and body were feeble and flooded with illness. I knew the mountain well, but if left alone, I’m not sure I could have found my way back. Keep in mind Steamboat has 165 trails covering 2,965 acres, and 23 lifts.  

In hindsight, I acknowledge I probably shouldn’t have skied, but who wants to miss out on vacation?  

 My strategy was simple. Follow the man in the bright green pants. The previous year my husband had upgraded his aged and neutral black ski pants to electric green. The new attire was easily recognizable. I followed him from slope to slope, lift to lift trusting his guidance.

This reminds me of God. Can we humble ourselves enough to admit we need help so He can direct us? If we focus our eyes on Him, He shows us the way.

I knew I could trust my husband because he loves me and would ensure my safe arrival home. When I needed a break to refuel he patiently waited for me. 

God is with us, loves us and cares for our every need. Jonathan provided me much-needed leadership that day. I was weak and had to trust him. Any other day I would have inserted my opinion about which direction to go and competed for the lead.  

When we are weary and lacking faith God will escort us.  

These are unusual times. Our normal has been turned upside down. Thankfully, we have an omnipresent God with an upside-down kingdom. Seek Him to guide your next turn while enjoying the joy and peace only He can provide. 

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What Do Faith & Skiing Have In Common?

Learning to ski reminds me of my faith journey with God. When you first learn to ski each turn is uncomfortable and forced. The more you practice, the more natural it becomes. All of a sudden you aren’t analyzing each micro turn and you find yourself at the bottom of the slope gazing up realizing you don’t even know how you got there. 

This resembles my relationship with God. For years I wanted to deepen my reliance on Him. I fumbled my way through a morning routine trying to 1,2,3 step my way to a better connection. I believe God delighted in my attempts, awkward as they may have been.

After taking my soul through a car wash removing the guilt, lies, and grief I can now accept His forgiveness, love, and grace. I now delight sitting in His presence as He fills my heart with love and peace. 

My turns down the slope can still be shaky and I occasionally encounter patches of ice and bumps along the way. Regardless if the slope has been groomed, I keep my eyes on Him. Instead of using my own strength to complete a turn, He helps me lean on my edges for a smoother ride with less effort. I cover more ground when utilizing His strength.

When I fall, He picks me up and encourages me to proceed forward. He helps me determine the safest path down, the proper course for me to take. God guides my every turn to avoid collision with other skiers.

Some days the slopes are sunny, warm, and smooth and I absorb the glory of those days. Other days are cloudy, cold, and windy with low visibility. No matter the weather, nor if my fingers are numb, He is there to aid me in reaching the bottom, never abandoning my side. When I get off course and find myself lost in the trees, He shows me the way back.  

Now, I can’t imagine getting down the hill without His help. Before I didn’t know how to rely on His assistance, determined I could do it on my own. My pride and sin were preventing me from accepting His love and help. Why would I not lean on the one who created the mountain in the first place? If I keep my eyes fixed on Him, He will bring me safely home. He might even have a big cup of hot cocoa awaiting my arrival. Who knows?

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Who Am I?

Greetings! I’m Katie Kennedy. Launching this blog is an exciting and uncomfortable journey I am stepping into. The Lord guided me through a significant spiritual transformation a few years ago in my mid-thirties. At the beginning of the transformation, I was in an unhealthy place; my insides filled with anxiety, lies, sin, and grief. The Lord slowly and gently helped me extract and release all the bad I was carrying around.  I was believing lies such as I needed to earn His love. 

When I emerged the other end of the transformation, He had rebuilt me. On the outside, I looked the same, with maybe a few more grey hairs. On the inside, I was washed clean and set free. He shed the lies and sadness from within and replaced it with His love and grace. God showed me who I really was. 

I uncovered a love of writing and felt the Lord calling me to share my story with others. I believe He called me to write down my story of transformation and share it with others in hopes it will encourage others to dive into a deeper relationship with God. I am not an English major nor a theologian.  I’m a wife and a mom who experienced first hand the power of our redeeming God.  I am practicing being obedient to the Lord even if it brings me into scary, uncomfortable places. 

The Lord freed me from the chains that were holding me back from the person He created. Are you being held back? If so, by what? If you don’t know, ask Him, He will show you.

I want everyone to experience the joy, peace, and love that only God can provide.