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UNDAUNTED
For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Friday, March 30, 2018

I am Private Ryan--The Life of Being Sacrificed For

This morning I was up early and watched the sunrise, hoping for some life-altering epiphany to explode into me as the sun exploded onto the landscape. But the sun didn’t explode onto the scene, and an epiphany didn’t explode in me. Instead, the sun slipped in quietly, like always, and I sat quietly and watched it, like always, and virtually every other day of the year that would have been fine, but not today.

Today is Good Friday. It is the beginning of Passover. It is the day when the Lamb of God was sacrificed to cover the sin debt by every person in all history of time. This is a big day! There should be some kind of resounding…something.

 I know several churches that are having “Reflection Services” today, services to be still, ponder our guilt, ponder our inability to be good enough, ponder how woefully unworthy we are so we can be crazy stunned by how wondrously loving God is and how unfathomable the gift of His Son is. And despite my best efforts, I can’t go there.

 It isn’t that I don’t understand my inability to save myself. I live that reality every single day. It isn’t that I don’t believe in the cross or the empty tomb. I also live that reality every single day. It is the only thing that helps me overcome the reality of myself.

 This morning I sat and watched the sun and prayed for a moment of… I wanted an emotional moment of connecting with God, of having my life-altered, of being shattered maybe, of…

 I wrote the following in my journal:

 I am trying to have an experience. Isn’t it supposed to be some kind of life-altering day? That is what I am trying to have. A life-altering encounter. I am trying to have an emotional moment with God.

 I mean, isn’t that the point of reflection on Good Friday? To have this heartbreaking, reality moment with God where I realize how small I am and how big He is and how desperate I am and how benevolent He is?

 But that isn’t what I feel. At all.

 I don’t feel desperate or crushed or crappy.

I feel so wildly loved.
So insanely important.
So…Private Ryan.

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, a clerk writing letters to the family of deceased soldiers realizes that three brothers have died and a fourth is also in the war. A decision is made to save Private Ryan and make sure he is returned home safely. Captain Miller and seven men are sent to find Ryan. Lives are sacrificed in the process, and when Ryan is saved from the battle taking place where he is, Captain Miller says simply, “Earn this.”

How in the world could a man earn lives lost to save him?
How in the world could I ever earn a Life sacrificed for me?

Simple answer: It isn’t possible…and yet, it is.

But I don’t “earn” it by living in the past, by beating myself up over what I used to be, or even what I still struggle with now.

From my journal:

I really want to honor God for His acts, for His sacrifice I cannot even begin to fathom, and I want to honor Jesus for His sacrifice, but I do not see how grieving and returning to a pit of self-hatred and wallowing in misery honors Him at all. Isn’t that what He died to deliver me from?

I keep thinking of Saving Private Ryan when Captain Miller says, “Earn this.” Private Ryan kneels before that cross in that cemetery and asks if he has been enough. He has lived a life meant to honor the sacrifices made for him.

Isn’t that how I need to live?
Isn’t that how I should think?

Shouldn’t my life be lived to honor the One who sacrificed Himself for me?
Shouldn’t it be about living bigger,
living more intentionally,
living more authentically,
living more loved,
living more aware of my value?

 Isn’t the point of Christ’s death and resurrection to deliver me from the hell I find myself in so I can live a life that honors the God who gave the gift?

 Isn’t the point of Christ on the cross summed up in John 3:16: For GOD so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not die but have everlasting life?

 Is it possible to focus on the crucifixion of Christ without looking at how I should then live?

 Can I earn what was given for me?

No. Never.

But I can live the love back to Him that He poured out for me. I honor Him by loving Him and living in such a way as to make His sacrifice worth it.

That is the life of being sacrificed for.
That is the life He bought by sacrificing Himself to save me.
That is the life of a Private Ryan.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Awesome Beauty of a Small God

I know I say this often, but God leaves me in utter awe, not at the fact He made the cosmos or makes the sun rise every morning or controls huge thunderstorms, although those rock, too. What leaves me most in awe is the tender way He loves me. There are things He does for me that are so very special, that no one else knows I like. There are days when I can't stop thinking about my parents, and someone will just casually mention them in the sweetest way. There are days when all the changes seem so heavy, and He will send someone to take a bit of the load by praying with me. There are days when the purple irises up the road are in glorious bloom and I only saw them because something made me go a direction I normally don't. Yes. He is awesome in power and immensity and greatness. He is awesome in how intimate He is with my smallness and how my smallness is so important to Him.
 
I hope you feel the awesome wonder of how small He can be for you, too.
Night,
Jerri
www.jerrikelley.com

Because Sometimes Some of Us Wonder if We are Too Much Ourselves and Not Enough Something Else

I've mentioned umpteen times I have ADD, and honestly, I think it is one of the best things ever. However, I also find it almost ravenous in its need to be fed. Some of you creatives know what I mean. For a few years now, I've been able to feed it okay. Amazing how just mentally/emotionally/physically getting to a healthy place really sucks down the energy, but it has been good. About a year ago those demands really started to diminish because, thank the Lord, I am at a great place, but then, the boredom started to creep in. I learned that bordeom is not always bad when the Lord is using that down time to let you rejuvenate and replenish your energy. You actually need some down time just to get filled up after all the pour out, so the times has been good, but in the last month or two, the boredom has become more and more draining, not energizing, so I've been looking at things I "would do if I could". Nothing really overwhelming, so I started praying for God to open doors no man could close and close doors no man could open, and I have to tell you, I would have never even knocked on a few of the doors that have appeared. However, they seem to fit. In fact, I am seeing how a lot of the stuff I've learned in my life recreated period fits perfectly into those doors.
 
Now, between us, I am uber excited about these doors and the potential they hold. I am also pretty nervous. In fact, yesterday was a day when I had to fight through flat out fear because...well, what if these people I want to work with don't like me? I mean, seriously. What if...they don't like me?
 
What if I am not exactly what they are looking for?
What if I'm too much me and not enough of their ideal?
 
I told my friends Mitzi and Heather it is like dating and really like someone and wondering what I need to modify to be more appealing.
 
Except, I'm not going to modify anything.
 
Because the fact is, I really like me, and if I modify myself, then I'm going to change something I like, and no man...no job...no door is worth that.
 
But more than that, why would the God who calls me fearfully and wonderfully made put me in a place where He knows I have to modify His creation to fit? Could it be that if those people who determine how open the doors are will either like me as I am or not be the people God wants me to work with?
 
Now, understand, I'm not talking about arrogant or proud refusal to adjust. We are called to humble ourselves, but there is a difference between humbling ourselves and lying about who we are so someone digs us.
 
This morning I woke up just as unsure about what will happen witt those doors as I was yesterday, but I am more sure of this:
The God who made me has made the place for me.
The image of Him that lives in me is necessary.
He will open the door where HE is allowed to be all He is in me.
 
That is the place of peace because that is the place I put my faith in the Lord's character and ability to work everything out for my good and His glory.
 
Praying for you to stand in who you are in Him,
for you to love the person HE made you to me,
for you to walk boldly through open doors--even the suprise ones,
for you to know you are crazy loved.
 
Love and blessings,
Jerri
www.jerrikelley.com

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Prayer for Those Grieving

Father, this morning I know several people who are grieving and feeling the emptiness of loss. I lift them up to you. I ask you to speak comfort to their aching places, and I ask you to give them courage as they walk through this valley. Give them the courage to look beyond the grief to the joy that memories will bring, and I ask that during this grieving you would give them reprieves--reprieves from the pain so they can breathe and think without the fog of hurt and loss feeling like it is sucking the life out of them and a reprieve from the forward march so they can grieve deeply and honestly. I ask that you protect them from thoughtless statements of others that inflict more pain, and I ask you to send kind hands and words to encourage them, to carry them when need be. I ask you to impart hope for a day that doesn't hurt "like this one does".
 
And, Father, for those who feel alone because of so much loss, I ask that you would speak as only you can. Be the presence only You can be. Give hope of how you can fill the void because you can. Your word promises that you sit the lonely in families. You take care of orphans, widows, and the lonely because you know it is not good for us to be alone.
 
I pray that each of these people grieving this morning would know with all they are that they are not alone. That you are with them, that they are loved, and you are filling the empty places if they have the courage to heal and love again. And sometimes, Father, that takes a LOT of courage. I ask you to give them that courage too.
 
Thank you, Father, for the precious lives that have lived and poured into each of these who are grieving. Thank you for the gift these loved ones have been. THank you for how they have made each of these people better, enriched their lives, continue to impact the world through their influence. Thank you for these beautiful treasures that are being celebrated evening among, and with, the tears. You give lavish gifts, and these who are being mourned are incredibly lavish gifts. Thank you.
 
Father, thank you for hearing my prayer. Thank you for answering in your love and mercy. Thank you for being a kind, gentle, and concerned God. I praise you for your trustyworthiness and your tenderness. You are beautiful, and I thank you for who you are.
 
With faith for answers to each of these petitions and absolute certainty of your love and concern, I pray in Jesus' name. Amen
 
--Jerri L. Kelley--
www.jerrikelley.com

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Enough

Thursday morning coming in wet and soggy with low-lying clouds and the reality that we'll want all this water in July and August but right now....Did I mention it is a LOT of water?
 
But as I sit here looking out the window at the small lake formerly known as my backyard, I am fascinated. I don't see water. I see sky. I see the reflection of things higher than.
 
Higher than my thoughts.
Higher than my ways.
Higher than I can dream or imagine.
Higher than where I am looking obviously.
 
Sometimes I get so caught up at looking down at what I think is too much or not necessary or just flat destructive, I need God to use the lower to reflect what is above me.
 
And you know what I see in those reflected clouds? Hope.
 
I see a sky that will break forth sunshine.
I see light places that are not as heavy as others.
I see heaven.
When I look up, I see beyond the skies to haven beyond and the God who reigns there...who reigns here...even in the hard rains and all the water.
 
This morning I am asking Him simply:
What do you want me to see?
In the reflection, in the heavens beyond, in the water that covers so much of the beneath...what do you want me to see?
I know you are in all of it. Open my eyes to see you. To know you. Help me look beyond what I'm tired of and have had enough of so I can see how you are showing me...once again...even more beautifully...you are enough.
 
And isn't that what He wants us to know? That in everything, HE is enough,
Isn't that what hard does? Reflect the truth that makes us look up so we see and know He is enough.
Isn't that the crux of our faith? He is enough.
Especially when we have hit the wall and too much is screaming how we are not enough too handle it all, He is enough.
 
I'm praying for you this morning, that even in whatever over-saturated with hard you are facing or are in, that you can find rest in the Truth that HE is enough.
 
God's blessings,
Jerri
www.jerrikelley.com

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Had Your Fill of a Season? Perhaps God is Using the Season to Fill You

Wednesday in North Texas, and it is raining...more. But you know what? The lakes are filling up. The reservoirs are filling up, and when the heat hits, the water will be there to sustain us.
 
Kind of like life, isn't it? We get tired of the season we are in. We get tired of the "more" of something, and we are ready to move on, and yet, it lingers. It is really easy to grumbly during those times and miss the blessing, but here is the Truth.
 
If something lingers, it's because God has a lasting purpose for it, and it may just be that its purrpose is to help you last.
 
See, if we lean into God during the times of "more than what we wanted", then we get more of what we need when there isn't enough of us to make it through the hard.
 
If we lean into God when we are tired of what is going on, then we have more of God when we are just flat tired.
 
Praying for you this morning.
 
Love and prayers,
Jerri
www.jerrikelley.com

Thursday, February 22, 2018

If You are Grieving, I Understand

It has been a long time since I wrote about grief. I think that is because I have finally moved beyond the feeling that my heart has been ripped out of my chest and breathing feels excruciating, and frankly, I don't want to remember that. I don't want to remember what it felt like to think of listening to my mom gurgling in her last breaths before she died from lung cancer or seeing my husband's body on a table in the ER as I tried to figure out how I was going to tell my kids or his parents that he had died. I don't want to remember looking at the empty chairs at my table as we tried to have Christmas dinner for my brother, kids, and myself when all I could see is where my husband, mom, dad, and stepdad weren't. I don't want to remember the times I picked up the phone to call Mom to ask a question or times I started to call Rob because something had happened only he would understand the impact of. And I really don't want to remember the nights where I woke up and could swear I saw his silhouette in the darkness but knew if I reached over, he wouldn't be there, so I lay there, letting myself believe a lie because it was less heartcrushing than the truth.
 
I don't want to remember the heartcrushing pain of grief or loss or emptiness. I don't want to remember how little things can slam you like a freight train and suck the air right out of your lungs.
 
But I do remember.
 
I also remember what it was like when someone made some thoughtless, packaged, "get back to normal so I can feel better around you" answer. I remember the pain that inflicted, too.
 
Thoughtless, judgmental statements like:
"God needed another angel", which a crazy number of my friends who have lost babies and children have heard. Seriously? What kind of person says something like that?!
 
"You shouldnt' be sad for that person. They are in a better place. You should be happy." I'll be honest. My first thought is always, "Let me put a bullet in your loved one's brain, and THEN you say that." This who statement and its derivatives infuriate me. They may be in a better place, but there is someone who loved them HERE, missing them, wishing they could share all kinds of things with them but can't. That is reason ot be sad, and that is not selfish.
 
"Well, at least you never held your baby." When a woman who has miscarried tells me someone has said this, my heart breaks for that woman. Love is carried in the heart, not the hands. How dare anyone minimalize the hope, joy, and excited that comes with the news of a baby on the way.
 
There are so many others that totally dismiss the broken heartedness of grief. They make the person grieving sound selfish and wrong. They brush over the depth of the loss as though it were nothing because, after all, we know Jesus has this, so who are we to do anything but rejoice that these people are in a better place?
 
Who we are are the ones left behind with the empty cradles and the empty chairs and the empty beds and the phones with no one to call and the babies on the way that will never know their dad/grandparents/aunts/uncles. We are the ones who thank God for a better place but still have to walk through the pain of adjusting to the void.
 
And if you are one of those people learning to walk through the void, I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry. I can tell you honestly, God and time do wonders. I can also tell you honestly it is a hard road, and it takes time to learn to breathe again without it aching more than you think you can bear. And, honestly, there is no magic time limit when you wake up and suddenly you are fine. I have come to realize the idea that it all gets better in a year is only a partial truth, so it's okay to ache on holidays, birthday, anniversaries, and death days as long as you do. Some folks won't get it, but a lot of us do.
 
And I'm sorry for the things people say because they either dont' know what to say, don't think about what they are saying, or have never experienced the loss you have. Do yourself a favor and forgive them. You've got enough going on that your heart is trying to carry without adding unforgivness, too.
 
If I could, I would sit with you, hand you kleenex when you need them or hold the box when you didn't, listen to the stories you need to tell or sit in silence when you have nothing to say, give you a long hug or just be present. I would let you grieve in earnest and let you feel what you feel and say what you need to say and be honored that you trusted me with that honest part of you.
 
I am so sorry for your loss. I'm praying for you. Please feel free to comment if I can pray specifically because I will.
May God comfort you, lead your as you move forward, give you peace in Him, and be your ever present help.
 
Love and prayers,
Jerri
 
www.jerrikelley.com