Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Rear Guard

by Danetta Kellar

the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:12b, NASB 

I was determined to run the race. 

It was the third annual trail run, and I had run it the previous two years. This time I had just returned to running after recovering from a broken foot, and now my hip was injured to boot. I was in the poorest condition ever for the intense three-mile run up a mountain at an elevation of nearly 2000 feet above sea level. 

This race was important to me. It symbolized a mountain in my personal life that I had to prove to myself I could climb, no matter my limitations.
There are some hard things in life that we would be justified, even applauded, to abandon. They cause us pain and strain and stretch us thin and transparent, allowing others to see the ugly inside. We’d be better off if we just quit and walked away. That’s what others say, anyhow.

There is indeed a time to walk away. But there is also a time to stay. A time to hold on against the howling wind, leaning into the strain, hanging on with all we have and crying out to God for help to endure. 

There are races in life only we can run and finish lines we must cross ourselves.

For me, physically running is a spiritual, emotional, and mental exercise. I usually fix my mind on a specific Scripture passage or a pre-planned prayer focus as I raced. This time, however, I had waited and waited for the Lord to show me this race’s focus, but nothing came. Heaven seemed silent. 

That morning as I approached the starting line, I had simply prayed, Lord, I am listening. Speak to me today as I run. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Hope for Grieving Parents and Children: KinderMourn

by Danetta Kellar

My daughter chattered happily as we walked through dappled sunlight that danced along the brick walkway. 

She didn’t mention the inscriptions today, but I still noticed them. I always do. My Cuddly Buddy. In Loving Memory. Will Forever Flutter in Our Hearts. World Trade Center, 9/11/01. Hope. Each brick marked a painful step someone had taken through the gates of grief, to the door of the house we now approached, a safe place of refuge to mourn and heal called KinderMourn.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When You Need to Change Your Mind

by Danetta Kellar

I went to bed with Condemnation and woke up with it the next morning

It had started in the place of self-scrutiny, with the instruments we all like to use to measure ourselves. Beauty, Success, Energy, Health, Finance, fill in your own tool. I had measured and weighed my Self and did not like what I saw. 

By the time I fell into bed I was exhausted and weighed down like an anchor chained to a shipwreck. Condemnation slipped its scaly arms around me and began to tighten its grip. By morning it had grown in strength and staked its claim on yet another day. 

My perceived failures stood around my bed taunting me, daring me to face the day with anything but discouragement. 

As I brushed my teeth, I carefully studied an imaginary list of my infractions and imperfections on the mirror in front of me. Fear stood over my shoulder, reminding me of all I had to lose if I did not measure up. 

This day was not starting with hope. It would seem there was no hope for me.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What I Really Look Like

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24, NIV

by Danetta Kellar

I was eleven years old the day I realized what I really looked like. 

I stood in front of the cheap mirror, staring at my reflection, far too close for vanity. In my hand I held up a black and white photo, preserved crisp and pristine over the years. The young man in the photograph reminded me of James Dean. He wore a slim-fitting button-down shirt with a tie snug at his neck. It was clear he had battled his curls, taming them, sweeping them back into a dignified wave. He was utterly handsome and my heart was mesmerized.

He was my father, whom I had never met.

I had always wondered what he looked like. I was used to looking different from my ginger-haired, fair-skinned mother and sister. People commented on it often. 

I found the photograph in a yellow-paged scrapbook in the attic, tucked away from sight. 

I had been sent upstairs on an errand for my mother when I came upon the treasure. The secret to what I looked like. I look just like him, I whispered to my image as I slowly traced my nose. That darn nose. The nose that always got in the way in pictures. That big, beautiful nose of mine. And his.

And the curls. The unruly, crazy curls that made me cry when I tried to run a brush through them. His hair was curly too, and the same dark color.

I felt relieved that day, as if a long-hidden secret had been revealed, and with it, an explanation of who I was.

His absence in my life left me on a path of near destruction. But that path led me to find my greater Father, and in the Bible, I began to see who I was meant to be, regardless of my earthly parentage. Word upon word, promise upon promise, truth upon truth, my heavenly Father began constructing for me an image of my own soul, my most core identity. As I obeyed His Word and not only obeyed, but believed it despite my traumatic childhood, I began to see what I looked like. 

There is a photograph, preserved through the ages, which holds the secret to your image and mine. Upon careful study, it will reveal who we look like. 

It is the Word of God, our true mirror, the certain measure, of our souls. As I study myself in its reflection, may I see my Father. For I am his own daughter.

Lord, help me be a doer of the word, not just a hearer. Build your image in me as I believe that the truest things about me are what You say about me. Amen.

As we carefully study the Bible, we will learn our true #identity. (Click to Tweet)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

You Never Know What Someone Else is Going Through

by Danetta Kellar

I have changed the names of the dear ones in this post to protect their privacy. 

We had been in the ancient, spacious house for months. It had once sheltered three families, and now our small one took up only one wing. The old walls were constantly crumbling, and with only half a roof over the central courtyard, the birds and other less desirable animals came and went freely, leaving their own little dirty deposits. 

Fighting the constant Sahara dust was a losing battle, and even if I threw water on the tile floors and squeegeed it down the drain, a fine layer of golden powder covered every surface again by afternoon. 

One morning, my friend Hope came to visit. Morning visits were rare, so I knew this must mean business.

Our husbands were close friends. We had shared many meals together in one another’s homes. Hope was familiar with my housecleaning habits, and my funny American ways of dealing with clutter that differed so much from her own. She teased me for hanging my pictures in the middle of a big wall, instead of clustering all of them together along the very top.

Today Hope offered me a proposition. Obviously, to her at least, I needed help in my housekeeping battle. To prove it, she slid my sofa away from the wall and lectured me on the piles of dirt that hovered in the corners like guilt. 

Hope had a sister, and this sister needed work. She could clean my house for me and I could pay her. A beautiful arrangement, after I swallowed my born-in-the-South-to-an-obsessively-clean-mother Pride.

I had no idea that day how much my life was about to change, that I was about to receive a friend I would treasure for years to come. I couldn’t have imagined the lessons I was about to learn.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Never Ending Journey

by Danetta Kellar

He chose an eighties’ playlist. 

I couldn’t have been happier as we barreled up the interstate, belting out lyrics with Madonna and Journey at the top of our lungs. I even caught him singing falsetto with Men at Work. He looked at me, incredulous. “You know all the words to these songs, Mom!” 

He had never seen this side of me, I’m sorry to say. I had been too tight, too controlled, to shut-up in parenting perfectionism to just let it go and have fun, unabridged. And now we were speeding toward his future, childhood behind us.

“Babe, you are playing all the songs of my youth! This is the music I was a wallflower to at my seventh-grade dance. The music I listened to in my first car driving down the highway with the windows down, feeling truly free. These are the words that helped me through my first break up.” 

We continued singing, and I noticed him glancing at me every once in awhile with a new look in his eye. 

The trunk of the car was loaded with his footlocker, his soccer bag, and skateboard. And lots of junk food. We were on our way to the first stage of Goodbye, his two weeks of summer orientation for the competitive Math and Science school he’d be attending for the final two years of high school. 

I woke up early that morning to hem his dress pants, then promptly forgot them hanging on the door. For weeks I had carefully reviewed the list of things to bring, including money for laundry, and then left it in a neat envelope, on the bar, at home. I was not myself. 

“Are you nervous?” he looked at me sideways as I searched on my GPS for the nearest bank. 

“Well, I didn’t think I was, but I guess apparently I really am.”

“Yeah. You are. Don’t be nervous, Mom. I’m going to be fine.”

Later that afternoon we said our goodbyes. I walked across the campus in the evening sunlight, but in my mind I was in the QE2 Hospital, sixteen years earlier, my newborn in a small bed by my own. I held his pudgy little hand, his fingers in a vice grip around my index finger. 

The nurse came into the shadowy room. “Let us take your wee one out to the station for a bit, love. You need rest.” She rolled his bed out through the backlit door. Panic suddenly filled me, the entirely brand-new sensation of mother-bear protectiveness surging through me. You cannot take my baby from me! Bring him back! My unreasonable thoughts faded as I slipped into exhausted sleep, my baby safe and sound with the nurses just outside my room.

The crazy road-trip of letting our babies go starts even before they are born. 

We release them to God, we release them to God, and we release them again. I sat in my car and cried a bit, then let my boy go again, my anxious thoughts slipping into the rest God offers to mothers over and over. I can trust Him to keep my child in his care as He always has. 

On this never-ending journey of letting children go, make sure your playlist is one you know and can sing loud and off key. Take lots of snacks and have a cheeseburger on the way if that’s what he wants. Talk a little and listen a lot. And at the stops along the way, hug hard and let yourself cry.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Exposing the Fear that Lies Behind Most Everything

by Danetta Kellar

I lay in bed, feeling suffocated. 

In the darkness, Fear seemed to have found himself on the center stage of my mind in a solo performance. 

He loomed bigger than the ceiling and I saw for a moment how big I had actually allowed him to grow in me. During the daylight, in the rush of life, I had managed to dodge this realization. I noticed it in fleeting moments, some more gripping than others, but I had become an expert at deflection.

Not this night.

I had just spent almost two hours in a car driving along a highway in the rain, listening to one I dearly love pour out her sorrow. Grief is relentless in its squeezing, its paralyzing of the human heart. She was grieving the loss of one very dear to her and wanted to die too so she could be with him.

All I could do was reach behind my seat and hold her hand as I cried myself, my tears blending with the falling rain and making the car lights distort along the dark highway. We talked about the plans God has for her life, the very special work that only she can do in the world. And in my heart, I cried out, “Please, God, don’t let her long for heaven yet! Not yet, Lord!”

Fear grabbed me and whispered his terrible threats.

Hiding behind him came an entourage. Fears small and fears large, fears slithering and fears stomping. The crescendo deafened me.

“Jesus!” I cried out. In an instant, all was silent. There was no lag, no labor. The toxic spewing of His enemy and mine simply ceased.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. Psalm 56:3

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Psalm 23:4

I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Psalm 55:16

He who watches over you will not slumber. Psalm 121:3

The promises stored up in my heart came tumbling across the meadows of my mind like a tinkling stream, their music making it hard to believe such darkness had covered me only moments before. 

As I lay there upon my bed, listening to my Shepherd, He showed me how I had allowed fear to become an insipid, creeping, silent force in my life. 

Gently and firmly, Jesus led me to His truth. His kindness led me to repentance. And I slept in peace, the enemy defeated.

Are you struggling with fear today? Have you become so busy you cannot see its tendrils choking the life in your days? I sure did. Run to His promises, cry out to the Shepherd. He has defeated fear, no matter what Fear would whisper to you today.