Category Archives: Emotions

An Open Letter to Chris McClarney: Thank You

I wrote this intending to send it as an email, but when I didn’t find one I decided to post it here. I’m thankful for the music and lyrics and how it will forever remain in my mind now. I don’t know if Chris will ever see it or not, but I had to let it all out.

Dear Chris,

Last Saturday was an emotional day for my family and me, and your song, “God of Miracles” played a powerful role in it. A dear family friend, Charlene, went on to meet Jesus a week ago, but my mom and I spent her last moments in this life with her first.

She had been sick for several months, but I didn’t realize how ill she was until she chose to move into a Hospice facility in New Orleans last Friday.
Charlene was an amazing woman of God, and several years ago while I was steeped in sin, shame and bitterness, she told me that God had a plan for my life. I scoffed at her with condescension as she said, “He’s never going to stop pursuing you, and I’m never going to stop praying for you.”

A few years after that conversation, I realized for the first time (even though I grew up as a pastor’s kid) that I’d never be able to earn salvation; it was God’s free gift for me, and I didn’t have to work for it. I simply had to accept it. That realization changed my life, and as a result of my relationship with Jesus I’ve surrendered the anger, self-loathing and bitterness that I carried for far too long.

Now, as a worship leader at NOLA Church, a place I swore I’d never go to when I was initially invited, I listen to a lot of amazing music, and our bass player added “God of Miracles” to my playlist a few months ago. I’ve listened to it hundreds of times since I first heard it, but it helped shape my view of death and eternity over the weekend.

When we arrived at Charlene’s bedside my mom sang one of her favorite songs, “He Touched Me.” (We always sang when we were together.) I thought she’d ask me to follow up with a different Southern Gospel tune, but instead she said, “sing the song you were playing on repeat in the car.”

Charlene was on morphine to ease her pain, so I assumed she wouldn’t know what we were singing anyway. In spite of that I sang the song a cappella, struggling to get through it without breaking down. At the same time Charlene began to lift her hands, and though she had not been responsive before that, her sister asked her to give us a thumbs up if she knew we were there and wanted me to continue the song. She gave a feeble, yet distinctive thumbs up, and at that moment I realized that the Holy Spirit was empowering me to walk with her through the painful moments shortly before all of her pain would cease. By the second verse, the four of us in the room, knew that God’s presence was there and filling in what would be the last few minutes of her life.

“Let faith arise, and see the kingdom come, I lift my eyes, for the battle has been won. My God is faithful, and every single word He says is true.”

As I sang those lyrics I thanked God for His mercy and comfort and for the example of unwavering faith that I saw first hand as my precious friend went on to see Jesus.

Today I sang at her memorial. I woke up heavy hearted, knowing that we’d all be saying goodbye to her a few hours later, but what happened instead was a celebration of her life and her choice to live her life fully surrendered to Jesus.

family

“God of Miracles” is the last song that she heard before moving on into God’s glory, and I’m forever thankful that I was able to worship through her last moments with her, filled with the promises and truths that exist in those lyrics.
Thank you, Chris…

Sincerely,

Kenlie

Where Did You Meet Your Mate?

Several of my friends have fallen in love with people they met online. Actually, I’ve done it before too. I think that finding love is wonderful regardless of how you meet, but I’m not interested in meeting anyone online now. I’m just not.

My friend, who knows me well, was surprised by my desire to stay single instead of “putting myself out there.” There are a lot of reasons for my preferences in this area, but the biggest one is that I just don’t want to.

I always envisioned meeting someone in my favorite coffee shop and falling for him, and I spent most of last year with a man who simply wasn’t right for me. I’m not saying I’ll meet the future Mr. Kenlie at a coffee shop either; I’m just saying that I don’t want to worry about it right now.

My desire is to be with someone who will complement the life that I already love, but I’d rather stay single than go out looking for him. I don’t want to be emotionally or physically attached to someone who’s not good for me, and I don’t want to waste all of my energy wishing, hoping or even praying about it.

Seriously, God knows my heart. He knows I’d like to meet someone tall, brilliant and fiercely loyal who will look adorable in our selfies, so before Christmas I decided to stop bugging Him about it. Instead I’m trying to help others, find my purpose and enjoy everything that’s already in front of me.

Is it weird that I’m so closed off to meeting someone online? I haven’t always felt this way; it’s just what I’m feeling now, at least in this season of my life.

Did you meet your spouse/significant other online? Did you ever go through a period in which you didn’t want to go that route? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this whether you’ve dated online or not.

How Making Music Keeps Me From Junk Food

I’m several days into my no junk food challenge (even though we didn’t start officially until Wednesday.) I have to confess that I’ve had two pieces of King cake (on different days) since we started. It was pretty easily justified in my mind because King cake is only available between now and Mardi Gras, but the thing is…i don’t even really like Mardi Gras or King cake. Seriously, I just don’t care about it…until I tell myself that I can’t have it.

I did Body Combat yesterday, and my weight was still down a bit this morning. I feel so awesome all day after I do a workout the intimidates me at least a little. I just know that it would be easier to control my weight if I controlled my cravings. (Um, is any of it easy? No, but that’s why we continue seeking self-discipline, right?)

The same goes for doughnuts and other obscenely, sugar-laden foods. I’ve had 3 or 4 doughnuts in the last year and a half, which is a far cry from the days in which I allowed myself to fall into a daily habit. I’m doing well so far today, and I’m paying close attention to things that keep my cravings at bay.

In a recent post I talked about food having an emotional connection in my mind, so it makes sense that music might alleviate my cravings, right? Um, music moves me, and when I’m singing I forget about everything else around me. (Sorry, neighbors! Just kidding…kind of.)

I cannot stop singing this song, so I spent a few minutes recording it. It’s as though Natalie Grant cracked my heart open with a hammer and poured out this song. She hit me at my core with this song, so I had to record it. I seriously wish I could sing as loudly as I want to in my apartment. (Actually, if I’m wishing for things I should probably wish for a microphone or some recording time in a studio.)

 

When I’m singing I can’t be bothered with mindless eating. Th same thing applies to knitting. I have a few other hobbies, but those two are the best when I’m trying to get my mind off of junk food — or food, in general.

I don’t know how to explain it, but life-giving, love songs seem to quench my desire for snacks. This is a new development, so I hope it proves true in the long run.

Until next time…Keep singing, err, at least I will.

 

 

Coffee, Cooking and Connecting

After a blogging break it’s always tempting to catch up on everything that’s been happening since my last post, but if we’re connected through social media you already know that I’ve been cooking up some amazing fall recipes, traveling and spending time with friends and family, reading a great American novel and knitting like a champ. (How did I ever drink iced coffee without a cup sweater?)

Cooking and Knitting

During my time “off” from the blogosphere I’ve been searching for opportunities to create change in my life. I’ve decided to make some professional changes, and I’ve faced moments of self-doubt, stress and challenges. I’ve also felt some relief, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in the horizon.

If you’re reading this I hope all is well for you, and I’m looking forward to connecting more with everyone soon!

 

The Night Before Life Goes On

Two months ago I wrote a post about the man who held my heart. I talked about the love and affection that he lavished on me, and after several emotional days of thoughtful consideration I decided to give our relationship another try. It was so lovely after that. He was amazingly loving and supportive, and I’ve never felt as desired emotionally and physically by anyone.

Throughout time since the last post I’ve posted status updates and Instagram photos, in a not so subtle attempt to gush about my mushy feelings toward him. I’ve mentioned him here too. I don’t post photos of us, but I have them…sweet, loving photos of us embracing and kissing, and personal ones that make me smile because they remind me of his deep desire for me.

We went out of town a couple of weeks ago, and while we were at dinner we talked about our futures, fears and a myriad of other things. We continued our conversation over coffee, then we sat outside talking before entering the hotel.

He stepped outside while I was in the shower, and when he returned he took the wrong dosage of medicine, causing his blood sugar to drop significantly. (We’re talking diabetic coma low,) and it scared me. His health eventually improved, and he went to sleep. I stayed awake for hours after he slept because his breathing sounded so different than it usually does when he’s sleeping. I love him, and I needed to know he was okay.

I was tired the next day. We argued about something that really bothered me, and I overreacted. He overreacted too, and we didn’t speak again until he walked into our Starbucks on the following Monday. He came to our table and moved his chair close to mine just like he always does, and he asked if it was okay to sit there (after he was seated.) He knew it was okay, and he knew I’d be willing to talk. I was cautious, but I was friendly too. (I’m not going to let anyone change who I am, you know?)

The following day he called and asked if we could meet to talk, and I knew what was coming. His assertions that he loved me and that he was “too invested in our relationship to walk away” had been replaced with silence throughout the prior week.

Surprisingly, I was able to discuss it with him without feeling overly emotional, so he laid out the reasons he thinks we should be “friends.” His reasons included some pretty specific “reasons” that I simply don’t believe, then he said he’d prove it. The thing is, he doesn’t have anything to prove to me. He didn’t like the way I reacted, but it felt as though he was looking for an excuse to end us before that.

I’ve mentioned that he’s significantly older than I am, and the twenty year difference always bothered him. I didn’t mind, but I know that (for other reasons) I’ll be better without him than I would have been with him.

He was extraordinarily attentive while we were together. He made me feel beautiful and desired, and I affected him in a positive way too. We had some incredible moments together, but he was selfish too. I would have done anything to please him or to show him how much I valued him, but he was only willing to do those things on his terms. I think I deserve more than that; I just have to be willing to wait for it.

My heart hurt for a while. It still doesn’t feel good because being around him means there are some ups and downs, but it doesn’t hurt as much as it did yesterday. His mixed signals and gestures bothered me last week, but his selfishness made an overwhelming impact on me yesterday.

My heart feels like glass that has been shattered into tiny pieces, but I realize that it won’t always feel that way for long. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but looking back I recognize that I have wasted love on undeserving men in the past. I have also discovered the incredible courage and resilience that exists in my heart.

I may not be loved by the man who claimed to love me ( at least until recently,) but I am brave. I am quick to to forgive and humble enough to admit when I’m wrong. I am sincere enough to say that I’m sorry when I hurt someone, whether it’s intentional or not, and I’m strong enough to recognize that I will love again.

After a long and difficult day yesterday I was reminded that I am loved. I’m thankful for my friends and family who are always ready to remind me of my worth (even when I can’t see it myself.) I’m also thankful that tomorrow is a new day and that there’s a light at the end of this little tunnel.

 

Ask the Questions, and I’ll Give the Answers When I’m Ready

Over the last several months I’ve been asked why I blog and why I share my life so openly through social media, and I’ve been reflecting on those questions and my answers.

First, I think it’s important to note that I don’t say nearly as much as I used to online. I’ve been writing here for nearly 7 years. I stopped sharing as much as I used to for a few reasons:

  • Sometimes sharing my feelings isn’t worth opening myself up to criticism from strangers
  • When I got involved in a loving and accepting faith community I no longer felt as compelled to seek out virtual support because I could just get a hug from a friend if I needed one
  • I no longer need the constant validation that I once got from pouring out my feelings here
  • There are folks in the blogosphere who constantly yammer on about tolerance, yet they’re harsh when they come here to spew their intolerant nonsense
  • I stopped losing weight and started gaining instead, which made me feel like a piece of crap who doesn’t deserve to blog here anymore
  • Sometimes I don’t want people to think I’m struggling even though I am, and that’s where it gets dangerous for me

As a result of changes, personal growth and let’s be honest, embarrassment, I don’t share as much as I once did, but I’m still relatively open about my life because I don’t want to revert back to my old habits. And there are some pretty specific reasons for that too.

  • When I bottle up my feelings they eventually explode into an emotional mess.
  • It is very easy for me to let pride take over, and when that happens I don’t let anyone in.
  • Often times when I stop writing I turn to food
  • It’s much more cathartic to write here than it is to day dream about punching people in the throat. (Okay, I’m kidding…I don’t actually want to throat punch anyone, at least most of the time.)
  • it allows me to release my feelings, look at them in black and white and recognize that it’s not as bad as it seems.

Blogging may not be for everyone, but sometimes it helps me. On days like today, when my heart feels shattered by the harshness of reality, I come here because at one point there were people ready to remind me that I’m okay.

I know God loves me, and I wish I had the patience to wait on Him to heal my heart. Ultimately, that’s what I’ll do, but I’m not going to pretend I’m okay on days in which I’m not okay. And today, I’m not okay.

I could use a hug from friends and family, but I’m not with them. Instead I’m sitting in a hotel room alone, lamenting the fact that there’s no one here to hug me and kiss away my tears.

I’m worn out, and I’m hanging on to the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

Until then…

 

 

 

What Does Blogging Actually Accomplish?

I’d like to think that at some point my blog had a powerful effect on someone, and I think it did…on me. I’m not convinced that it’s good for anything else though, and at this point (for a long time now) I’ve wondered whether or not it’s good for me.

I’ve discussed a lot of topics over the years, and I’ve received a lot of amazing comments and insights from people, many of whom have similar goals and desires. I love communicating on various levels with people who live differently than I do. Rarely do I have a desire to change anyone’s mind (on my blog or in person,) but I do like engaging and widening my perspective.

My last post, in which I respectfully shared my views (apart from my title hook) made me think about whether or not my voice is benefitting anyone (myself included,) and the answer, at least in this case, is no.

I stand by the things I said, but what good does it do to come here and share my opinion? Everyone has one; why do I blog about mine? I started to keep myself accountable not caring whether anyone ever read it or not, then I continued because I enjoyed the constant onslaught of encouragement and attention. Now I do it because sometimes I have things to say, recognizing that not many will see it anyway.

I like to share my thoughts, views and opinions, but my goal has never been to hurt anyone in the process. As an American I have a right to say whatever I want to say, and I think it’s only fair for those who demand tolerance to offer it equally. Having that right doesn’t mean that I should always act on it, and the fact is, I rarely do.

It’s fine to disagree with me. I don’t share my thoughts here to elicit specific thoughts or opinions. I share them because they’re my thoughts and opinions. We are facing some serious issues in this country, and it’s important to acknowledge them. It’s even more important to do something constructive to change it, and I’m actively trying to do that in my community.

I have a separate blog to talk about what God’s doing in my life, but the same message applies here. Colossians 3:17 says,

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

It’s pretty clear than I have a right to share my thoughts and opinions, but I need to be more conscious about what I feel and why I do. I’m asking God to change my heart, to help me see myself and others the way He sees me. He offers grace, mercy, forgiveness and a clean slate. I want to be the kind of person who does the same, so if my last post hurt you, I’m sorry.

Until next time…

 

 

 

Family, Love Updates, Grown Up Coloring and Hand Knitting

Last week had some bright moments and some not so bright moments. I talked about the rough part here last week, and I’m happy to say that we talked today. I didn’t know that I was going to see him, but I’m glad I did. I was able to share my thoughts and feelings (and French press) with him, and I was filled with a sense of relief when I saw him. He was relieved and happy to see me tooI don’t know what the future holds, but I’m happier today than I’ve been in the last week.

The fun parts of last week came as a result of my sister and nieces. They visited Mom’s house, so I spent most of my time there.

Baby Niece

oldest niece

We did some cool stuff in my neighborhood too. My friend, who is a veterinarian at Audubon, brought us behind the scenes and let my nieces feed the giant turtle. We watched them feed the stars as well, and we ran around in the fountains after that.

New Orleans Aquarium

They headed back home Friday evening, so I returned home and caught up on things that I didn’t do during the week. I went to church, spent time with friends, and did some meal planning.

I went to an Outcry concert last week too, which featured some of my favorite Christian artists including Kari Jobe, David Crowder, Hillsong and more. My friends and I sat in a suite, which is my favorite way to enjoy any event (except Pearl Jam because I need to be in the front row for that.)

I also decided to join the grown up coloring book craze. I colored with my nieces last week, but I picked up an adult book at Michael’s too. It’s fun and relaxing, and i finished my first page today.

Is anyone else here doing this to destress or relax?

Is anyone else here doing this to destress or relax?

Sunday afternoon I decided to try something new, so I signed up for a hand knitting class at Michaels. It was an inexpensive way to spend the afternoon, and I left with a finished infinity scarf. I already know how to knit, but I did this without needles. Actually, I used my wrists and hands as if they were needles, which was an interesting and easy concept.

hand knitting Michaels

It looks like a loose braid.

Last week I said that I was going to focus on all of the positives in my life, and I did that. I’m thankful that there are so many reasons to enjoy life, and I’m looking forward to the month of August. It’s typically the hottest month in New Orleans, so I’ll be okay with it when it’s over. I’m also ready to start school again even though I enjoyed the summer break.

I’m not sure what the future holds. I have some things to figure out, but I feel hopeful. I’m pretty sure I’ll sleep a lot better tonight too.

 

Love and Loss, Or Something Like That

I’ve been pretty quiet about the fact that I’ve been seeing someone. I met him at the beginning of the year, and I allowed our relationship to grow offline for several reasons – the most significant being that it’s easier to develop something when others aren’t constantly inserting their opinions.

He’s handsome, easy to talk to and loves (our) Starbucks as much as I do. He’s older than I am, even-keeled and patient. He told me that he loved me before I was willing to say it, but I’m in love with him too. He has made significant efforts to show me, and I’ve never felt so emotionally and physically connected to someone at the same time.

He has spent the last several months making me feel special and beautiful. When he looks at me his face lights up and his serious demeanor is immediately overcome by an easy smile every single time he lays eyes on me. He loves my voice too (even when I sing gut-wrenching love songs about heartbreak after an argument, which only happened once, for the record. ha) I adore the way he says my name and his drive to succeed in everything he does…and his perfect hair.

He has helped me let go of some major insecurities that I’ve been clinging to since I left New York. He has been a healthy influence on me physically, and his patience and empathetic attitude helped me rebuild some of the self-esteem that I lost.

It has been clear to me that he desires me since the first time he said it, and my feelings for him have been equally strong. I crave him in every sense. I never tire of kissing him, but I can talk to him for hours too.

He’s dreamy and affectionate, and as I type a tear is streaming down my face because I broke it off with him a couple of nights ago. It wasn’t an impulse decision. I thought about it overnight before I did it, but I miss him. The hardest part for me right now is that I felt like I was finally in love with someone who loved me back and still don’t get to have that.

I realize that I’m not a helpless victim in this situation; I’m the one who ended it. I didn’t end it to play a game with him. I ended it because he (unintentionally) crushed my feelings Tuesday. I did it because it was the right thing to do, but I’m struggling tonight because it seems to have been so easy for him to let go.

He was in a lot of (physical) pain the night I told him that it wasn’t going to work out, and I thought it might be easier because he wouldn’t be focusing on me. I’m guessing that he’s better by now, but he hasn’t called. I didn’t see him at our coffee shop today either because I was there earlier than usual for a private tasting (which was awesome.) I don’t even know if he went there at all.

Ending a relationship can be confusing, at least for me. When we last spoke he said that he was hurt, and he also said he would respect my decision. Now he’s doing that, and I feel rejected. The man, who is emotionally stable, respectful and habitual is doing exactly what I asked him to do while I am wishing he’d do the opposite.

I realize how ridiculously girly and immature it sounds, but it’s true. I want to think that he misses me and that he won’t accept it so easily, but I also realize that he was not happy with my thoughts when I shared them. (Okay, he was pissed…partly because of my feelings, but largely because he had already had such a crummy day before I dropped that on him.)

I realize that doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but it’s still right. I just wish he was right for me, and I wish he’d show up at my door to prove it before hugging me and kissing my eye lids as he often did.

Tonight as I sit in bed writing about my feelings I can’t shake thoughts of him – the way it feels when he wraps his arms around me, the way he breathes when he’s falling asleep, the way he sounds so incredibly upbeat when he calls to say good morning on the way to work during the 7 o’clock hour, the way he takes charge while making me feel safe and adored…I miss him.

It’s hard to realize that my phone won’t ring in the morning, but I’m going to focus on all of the reasons I have to be happy and thankful. (There are many.) I don’t know what the future holds, but I’d like to trust that something good is on the horizon.

Fat Photos

I’m heavier than most women I know, but I don’t shy away from the camera. If we’re connected through social media you know that I take selfies by myself and with friends. I share full body shots, and I’ve been known to rock photos in my swimsuit too. (See my Instagram account.)

Yesterday my long time friend, Tammy, posted about our favorite author’s article in Good Housekeeping. Jennifer Weiner and I have never met (life goal,) but the woman understands the inner workings of my mind. She’s been writing books that make me laugh, cry, dream and hope for years, and she opened up about avoiding the camera in first year of her daughter’s life.

I have beautiful friends who avoid the camera because they don’t like how they look, and I know women who will take 20 photos of themselves before they find one that they don’t despise. (I’ve been guilty of that countless times as well.) It’s hard to be happy with oursevles when we’re engulfed in a culture that says we shouldn’t be.

I’m obese…blah, bah, blah…I know. It’s hard to forget, as I have to live in my own skin everyday, but I refuse to allow my size to have bearing on whether or not I choose to live my life or take a photograph.

I went back to school at 30 years old to pursue a career about which I am passionate. I moved across the country and thrived in the biggest, most intimidating cities in America, I sang a solo in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and I took on an entire industry in the hopes of making a positive impact for myself and others. I don’t back down from things that scare me, and I will not back down from capturing memories with loved ones.

I think it’s important to recognize our own value. I’ve learned that the hard way, and that learning process never stops. I put effort into how I look, what I wear, etc. I take pictures from flattering angles, and I pose with my big, cheesy grin.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t care about how we represent ourselves; I’m saying that I don’t want to live as a slave to this unrealistic ideal that we measure ourselves and our happiness against.

I love myself whether you think I should or not, and I’m going to continue to make memories and photograph them when I feel like it because I love looking back at the little moments that make life so special.

Do you shy away from photos because of your weight?