An Atheist Changed

“The world doesn’t need more safe writing. Write something dangerous — something that challenges the status quo. Something that moves you (maybe it will move others, too). Then, no matter how scared you are, share it.” – Jeff Goins

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Okay, Jeff Goins. Challenge accepted.

Have you ever been scared to share something?

I am, right now. I’m actually shaking in my flip-flops (yeah, finally! 75ºF!)… Or maybe that’s just from the A/C  blasting.

Seriously though. I’ve got a story to tell, you guys, and I’m nervous.

My spiritual life has changed and I don’t know what to say about it. Do I tell the truth? Maybe I should just keep writing like nothing happened… If I DO tell, will people think I’m weird? Will I get hate mail or rude comments? Are people going to think I’m dumb?

Today, I’ve made up my mind: I’m gonna tell you what’s up.

The fears are still there, but I think honesty is best, you know? If I were to just keep blogging as usual, it’d be a lie. Because things aren’t as usual. And I feel like the only way I can continue writing is if I speak my truth. So here it is.

Kindred spirits, you know how we all seem to be on this quest for truth and purpose?

We want to know why we’re here, what life is all about, how to be happy.

That’s the story of my LIFE! I am a seeker, and I started young. I cracked open a Bible when I was 7, but found the thee’s and thou’s too confusing for my young vocabulary. In middle school, I was friendless and teased and found comfort in internet forums. I found purpose and joy in the high school choir and the theatre department. Once I got into the real world, I searched for meaning and value in dating and guys. After and alongside that, it was the Zen studies.

Zen was close, you guys. Soooo close, thiiiiis close. My index finger and thumb are almost touching, that’s how close it was.

My Zen studies give me a lot of presence, peace, and a radically different perspective. I’ve learned to approach life differently, to go with the flow, to appreciate the present. All great stuff. But something was still missing.

When I started being dragged going to church last summer, I had no idea where it would take me. I didn’t think it would take me anywhere. I thought church was weird, that you had to be dumb to believe in God, and that relying on myself was probably my best bet. That Jesus stuff seemed sooo spiritually immature.

At first, church did seem weird. There was music and hands raised, abundant kindness, love, and prayer. I was out of my element and wondered if it was all just for show.

One day, after the novelty had passed, I walked in with a new pair of eyes and I realized: these people weren’t playin’. They had genuine faith. And when I saw it for the first time, I recognized it: the something that was still missing.

Those people had a light, a peace, a joy that I never had. They loved one another. They hugged. They asked questions. They remembered my name and my story. And when I asked what their secret was, they all pointed to Jesus.

My first thoughts went something like: “Jesus? You mean that guy I made fun of and liken to Santa or the Easter Bunny?”

And then I experienced some major cognitive dissonance. Christians were supposed to be rude, judgmental hypocrites, using their religion to condemn, judge, and prop themselves up high. These people were kind, caring, accepting, and using their religion to grow, serve, and love like crazy. They worked to humble themselves. Everyone was on level ground.

Once my prejudices were challenged, it was emotional warfare for a while. I wanted to believe – I wanted that something, but I couldn’t. This Jesus was pursuing me, yet I clung tightly to my old beliefs. THOSE were right. THIS stuff was crazy.

Slowly, it started to look less crazy. I asked lots of hard questions and got surprising answers. And all along the way, Jesus was guiding me – but gently, and by request (He’s ever the gentleman). With His help, and that of my pastor and supportive friends, I tore down my misunderstandings and doubts, brick by brick.

In November, after praying for the first time (and receiving majorly clear answers the next day), I joyfully surrendered. I left my old life and my harsh judgments on the ground and stepped forward into new life. I didn’t struggle anymore. I knew the path would be rough, but I no longer had any ties or extreme doubts holding me back. The strings had been cut. I was set free.

And that’s the most surprising part of this journey: the freedom! For so long, I resisted Christ because I wanted to live life my way. I didn’t want to follow any stupid rules or become part of a boring herd. I didn’t want to give up my brain.

But I trusted Him. I moved forward, followed His prompting, and asked lots of questions. And guess what? I still have a brain, you guys. I still ask questions – even hard, doubtful ones (Jesus can handle it).

And those stupid rules? Not so stupid! I’ve never felt condemned or forced, only lovingly guided. And every time I’ve changed because of it, I’ve been better off.

My biggest worry, of turning into a plain, lame weirdo? Not happening. I might be weird, but I’ve always been – people, I can still be myself! Yesss! Turns out we weren’t created to all be the same (duh, how boring would that be?) I’m not brainwashed, or part of a mindless herd - I’m part of a warm, loving, supportive community that bands together to serve and strive to live the way Jesus taught us to. All in our own ways with our own personalities.

Not sayin’ we’re perfect. We still mess up. I gossip and grumble and lack patience. We don’t always live, love, and serve the way He would, but that’s because we’re not Jesus. And why we need Him to show us the way.

So that’s where I’m at, folks. I’ve been on a spiritual rollercoaster and had no idea how to handle it in my writing. So I didn’t.

I’m still a little afraid. I don’t want to be judged, mocked, or laughed at. But at some point, I’m gonna have to get over it. No better way than baring my soul and hitting “Publish,” right?

Maybe this was weird to read. Or encouraging. Or eye-rolling. Whatever your reaction, I get it. I’m not looking for agreement or approval, or to say that I’m right and you’re wrong. I’m just saying that this is my story and I had to tell it. To keep writing without doing so would just be fake. And if one thing burdens my soul, it’s pretending to be something I’m not.

Thanks for helping me honor my experience, friend. Please know that I honor and respect yours too.

Much love,

Kaylee

Posted in Authenticity, Change, Empowerment | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Whimsical Wednesday: The Joy of Window Markers

Remember when you were a kid and couldn’t WAIT to be an adult?

‘Cause then you could do whatever you wanted! You could have ice cream before lunch, watch TV all day and never do another chore.

I remember telling my mom the only reason I’d EVER clean my house is if Jesus was comin’ to town. Funny, I haven’t seen the Savior, yet I cleaned my house last week.

See, things change as you become an adult. You become responsible, you pay bills, feed yourself and others and clean your house, Holy guest or not.

And that’s all fine and dandy. That’s part of growing up. But it seems like, for many of us, somewhere along the way we lose our lightheartedness. The inner child is suppressed, and all that’s left is the worrying, nagging, serious adult.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting bored.

As an adult, there are always responsibilities to think about: bills, retirement, savings, groceries, vacuuming, relationships, work. It’s all too easy to set aside the silliness – we just don’t have time for that.

Fair enough…Adult life IS pretty busy. But what if we could strike a balance?

What if we could be responsible adults and still inject our lives with joy and lightheartedness?

Guess what, you guys? WE CAN!

And this is where I introduce to you a little slice of magic:

Whimsical Wednesday.

I’m trying to increase my joy and lightheartedness by sprinkling my days with whimsy. Every few weeks, on a Wednesday, of course, I’ll share one of my fun things with you!

Join me and you could gain:

  • More smiling
  • Louder laughing
  • Unexpected moments of silliness
  • Increased creativity
  • Decreased stress
  • A childlike glimmer in your eye
  • A heart that’s eager to find the lighter side of life

And this is just what I’ve found so far. Won’t you join me? Let’s see what else these little bits of whimsy can do for us. :)

Are you game? SWEET. Then let’s get started.

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To roll out the red carpet on these Whimsical Wednesdays, I begin with…

WINDOW MARKERS!

You can make your own if you’re crafty, but I prefer to just pop open a cap and go, so Crayola worked for me.

I began with a beautiful quote, one that would get my day off to a fantastic start:

inspiration, quote, sunrise
“If you begin the day with love in your heart, peace in your nerves, and truth in your mind, you not only benefit by their presence but also bring them to others, to family and friends, and to all those whose destiny draws across your path that day.” – Unknown

 Ain’t it purdy? It’s a wonderful way to wake up, getting to draw up the shades and seeing this looking back at me.

It’s like one of those inspirational postcards you see all over Facebook. Only way more inspirational, ’cause it’s LIVE…and I’m not tempted to keep scrolling to find the next words of wisdom.

And here it is during the day:Inspiration, quote, morning message

Inspirational, right?

If you’ve got a sharp eye, you might’ve noticed little stick figures on the bottom half…

walking dead, zombies, window markers, cornfield
O no, walkers!

“Walking Dead,” anyone? The guy and I are kind of obsessed with this show right now, so it’s only natural that I felt the need to draw walkers (zombies) straggling through the cornfield. Thankfully, you can’t really see ‘em at night, or it might be a liiiittle creepy.

[Other "Walking Dead" fans: Do you imagine walkers popping out wherever you drive now? Like - "OMG I bet they'd be under that bridge." It's so weird...]

Anyway…

The beautiful thing about window markers is that you can be as whimsical or as serious as you’d like. If drawing stick figure zombies is too nutty for you, start with your favorite quote or draw out your “Most Important Tasks” for the day.

I know that getting started can be the hardest part, so I’m not gonna leave you hangin’.

Here are some ideas to get you started, from serious to full-blown whimsical:

  • Find a quote that inspires you. Write it on a window you’re guaranteed to see every morning.
  • Write affirmations – lovely, kind words to yourself that you need to hear.
  • Write out your Most Important Tasks. If you wanna go a step further, draw them out.
  • Write a love letter to a housemate who needs it…even if that’s yourself.
  • Just doodle! Swirls are my fav.
  • Add to the background. You don’t have to draw a zombie apocalypse, but spruce up what’s outside your window: add a rainbow, storm clouds, fireworks; or just add to existing objects.
  • Write a story and draw pics to go along. This helps if you have a willing partner, but if not, you can do this yourself too. Just start with a sentence: “Three years ago, little Jimmy found an old treehouse…” and the next day, add another line: …”In that treehouse was a tiny door…”
 

There isn’t too much instruction to this, really, and that’s for a reason. You get enough instruction in your daily life. On Whimsical Wednesdays, I just want you to do whatever you want. Let your inner child run free!

So grab some markers, flip open the cap and go. Wanna draw a butterfly? Go for it! Prefer to start with an affirmation? Nice! Draw whatever your darling heart needs to get out.

Peace, love and a steaming cup of Zen,

Kaylee
p.s. I don’t wanna be responsible for any ruined windows, SO: On the box, it says if you leave them on too long, it may be harder to get the marker off, and it could stain. I’ve had mine up for about 2 weeks, and it’s still coming off easy… But just so y’know.

Posted in Creativity | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Would You Criticize This Baby?

Would you criticize this baby?

Would you complain that his eyes are too close together, or his nose too big? Would you say you hate his fingers or the color of his hair?

First – you better not, because that little punkin’ head is my adoooorable nephew, Noah.

Second – Maybe you would judge some stranger baby. So try this: Imagine a baby in your life, past or present. Child, niece, nephew, friend, whatever.

Remember seeing them for the first time. You know that overwhelming sense of love, adoration and awe? Remember that.

Imagine their features. Their precious little eyes, the ones you squeal over when they start to blink open. You run your finger along their cute little ears, let them wrap their strong, tiny fingers around one of yours. Every last bit of that baby is a precious gift. It’s a breathtaking miracle, no matter how weird its head is shaped or how long its toes are. You don’t even think about that.

But for some reason, as adults, we do. We over-analyze and criticize our beautiful, perfectly crafted selves.

For the most part, I’m over criticizing my looks. Hopefully you are too. It’s pointless and lame.

But every so often, at least for me, Negative Nancy pops her stupid little head in and has something mean to say. This last time, it was about my ears.

I was pulling my mass of crazy hair up into an elastic, and I noticed my ears that stick out just a bit. It doesn’t bother me much anymore, but as a teen I wanted them pinned back – seriously.

I tucked the stray tendrils behind my ears and was immediately met with criticism: “Eh, but your ears kinda stick out.” I started to remove the elastic when I stopped and thought about my sweet baby nephew and his little ears.

I would never, ever judge his ears, or want him to either. Every bit of him is precious.

As I thought of this, and visualized his tiny perfection, I remembered something:

I was that precious baby once.

We all were!

At one point, our family and friends fawned over us, cooed and giggled over every adorable little feature. At one point, my momma kissed my little ears and thought they were the most precious things she’d ever seen.

Remembering this, I left my hair up. I tucked the stray curls back, and I smiled. So what if my ears aren’t flat against my head? They’re actually pretty cool – they let me hear and now there are 4 gauge Buddha posts in the lobes! (Such a rebel – sorry mom and dad.)

I write this to say:

Anytime you’re about to get mean with your darling self, remember that you were once a precious little babe. The apple of yo momma’s eye. Your eyes were sparkling and the perfect distance apart and your ears were perfect. Remember the love and adoration of your family, and know that you don’t have to go there – the criticism is pointless. Maybe your butt is a billion times bigger, but remember, your momma loved that butt. And probably has a picture of it somewhere.

I hope you love the heck outta yourself. But for those moments that you don’t, however rare, remember this trick and your precious baby self. You’re still that precious, you just have to look through a more loving lens to see it.

Peace, love and a steaming cup of Zen,

Kaylee

Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments