Countering the Weight of a Hard Week

The last two weeks have been hard. Two people dear to me have been in the hospital with life-threatening issues. One is cancer. Everywhere. Trying to control pain and buy time. Still crazy to me. The other included a swollen arm and hand that were an ugly color of purple, a blood clot bigger than the doctors had ever seen, two surgeries, and another blood clot caused by the IV for the surgery. There were financial confusions that had to be straightened out. A friend’s 9-year old son was bullied at school. And…

Other stuff.

And while I could itemize it all for you, you probably have your own list, and doesn’t there reach a point when the list doesn’t matter as much as the feeling exhausted?

I know all this stuff can slam into you and feel like a major tsunami that just keeps on coming and you can’t get your footing or catch a breath, and it can feel so exhausting and just flat overwhelming.

I invite you to stop and take a breath with me.

First, let me say if I just described you above, I’m really sorry you feel this. I am sorry for whatever is happening in your world right now. I would sit down with you and offer you sweet tea or coffee or a beer and listen or be quiet. I would give you space to step out of all that or verbally lay it all on the table to just stare at it. I do that sometimes, and just getting it out there to look at helps me, and I would give that to you.

However, I’m not there, so let me invite you to join me in how I’m handling the weight of seeing people I love hurt, visiting hospitals, and life being heavy right now.

You need to know I suck at staying sad and overwhelmed. It annoys me. It’s like I take it personally that life thinks it has the right to steal my joy and peace, so I fight back. I fight back in two primary ways.

First, I get sleep. I may not sleep well at night, so I find moments to take naps. I will turn off the TV or get a blanket on the couch. If I have 30 minutes, that is sufficient for a nap.

I make sleep a priority because that is where the body rejuvenates itself, but more importantly for me right now, that is where the brain recalibrates, and my neurotransmitters move from anxiety, fear, and fight/flight to problem-solving, calm, and hope. If anxiety, fear, and stress are the ocean I’m drowning in, sleep is the one holding out the life rafts that allow me to think about options, make strategies, and cope well.

Second, I intentionally look through the chaos to find three things:
something for which to be grateful,
something that brings me joy,
and something that inspires me to feel wonder.

When I think on things like that, my whole being feels calmer. It doesn’t fix things, but it enables me to handle things better. I hope it helps you, too.

Peace, Joy, and Wonder,


The Light in the Crazy

My friend Lance Gibson posted this this morning, and the immensity of this promise settled into me like it hasn’t before. 

“I am the Light of the World.” Being raised in church, that has always been about Christ as Savior, but goodness, that really takes away from Him and all He accomplished and is able to give and relate to. 

He is the calm in the crazy. 
He is the place we look for how to live now.
He is the hope for relationships and praying for prodigals.
He is the out of the blue financial provision when the bills are big and the bank balance is small.
He is the peace when the company is struggling and you are wondering what to do now.
He is the One who assures us we have purpose and make a difference when life changes and who we’ve always been isn’t who we are now.

He is the light in all the darkness.

Any time we can’t see two steps in front of us because of circumstantial darkness or darkness because we are limited and blind to the next thing or possibilities, He is the light.

And when we are in Him, not just believe in Him as a Savior or teacher, but live in who He says He is as an intercessor, provider, creator, counselor, healer, the original Hope Dealer…when we live in that place in Him…we don’t live in darkness because light isn’t knowing what is next. Light in knowing Him and that He is not only in the moment with us or that he has already in the next thing, but that He has fully provided for the next thing and the thing after that and the thing after that. In Him is no darkness, only full provision wrapped in the Light of seeing Him in the fullness of who He is.

Have a fabulously lit day!
Jerri Kelley

One of Those Days

I slept horribly last night, but woke up early. Spent time on the phone with a friend having a reaction to pain meds. Then I went back to sleep only to wake up to multiple texts asking if my son was at college today because they had locked down the campus due to an active shooter. He was home, but dear friends were there. I was able to reach them. They were locked down and safe, and then were released when the caller’s report proved to be a hoax. And then…

Y’all, it’s been a day.

In fact, it’s been several days, and if I can be real with you for a moment, I’m tired.

My mind is tired. My emotions are tired. My soul is feeling worn, and my body is whipped.

And it is easy to do what a few folks who have called in the last week have done, which is talk for a long time about all the negative things going on in their lives, and there are some negative things, and they would be getting to me too.

But tonight, I don’t want to hash out the negative stuff. I don’t want to sit in the middle of what has me tired. Tonight, if you don’t mind, I want to take a few minutes and pray for those of us who are tired. Maybe you need this prayer for you. Maybe you feel it for someone else. Either way, thank you for joining me as I hold my Father’s hand and share my needs with Him. I pray you are blessed. ❤

Father, tonight I come before you and bring each reader with me because we’re tired. We need to sit by your still waters and graze in your green pastures. We know you are our ever present help in times of trouble, and we know you will never leave us or forsake us. We know in this world we will have trouble but not to fear for you have overcome the world. We know in Christ we are more than conquerors. We know you will bless those who bless us and curse those who curse us. We know you are fully on our side. We really know.

We also know that you say to be still and know you are God. We know you took your disciples with you to mountainsides to rest. We know you slept in the bottom of a boat in the midst of a storm, and right now, we feel like we don’t have the space to take a nap or hide on a mountainside.

Father, we need a few things.

We need physical rest. We have not had good physical rest, and we need it. I ask you to deal with everything that keeps us from deep, restorative sleep. I ask you to make our bodies restful, ease any aches or discomforts that keep us awake. Still and calm our minds and any anxiety that keeps us awake. Bless us with sleep that restore our whole being.

We need mental rest. We know we think about a lot that is not imperative. I ask you to remind us when we’re doing that so we can repent and stop. I ask you to show us where our problem solving is causing the problem. Show us when we’re wasting energy and need to let things go.

I am drained emotionally. Will you please show me where the happy is that my heart and soul need? And nag me if I am nervous about going because it is outside my usual routine or seems odd. I appreciate that you are invested in my emotional and spiritual health and have no problem being persistent when necessary.

We could also use spiritual food. I don’t just mean a spiritual high from a given song or worship style. I mean scripture and revelation that feeds us and gives muse directions for how to feed our whole being so we can fulfill our purposes you have declared as well as enjoy this wonderful life you’ve given us.

Father, thank you for how attentive you are to all our needs. You are very kind and trustworthy. We are so very grateful.

In the name of your Son Jesus, I lay these needs before you and trust you to give them the attention and answers they need. Thank you. Amen.

The Fitness of Rest

I didn’t make it to the gym last night. My lower back has been bothering me some, so I decided to let it rest with some heat and ibuprofen. I had a lovely evening sitting on my patio sipping mochacinno and reading a book.

In the past when I exercised to lose weight, a night off was anything but relaxing. The anxiety of knowing it would keep me from that magical number next time I stepped on the scale was horrible. I would obsess over it. Sometimes I would cut more calories to make up for the calories I wasn’t burning at the gym. Or, if I did have the sense to take a day off, I would work even harder the rest of the week to make up for the exercise I had missed. My typically MO was to ignore the pain and push my body anyway. Which, by the way, is stupid.

Now, I don’t often use that word because it isn’t a nice word. According to the Oxford Dictionary, stupid means “having or showing a great lack or intelligence or common sense.” Let me explain why it applies here.

That stress of not being able to be “perfect” in working out and eating right can actually create a biophysical environment that would keep me from losing weight anyway. Even the pain of an injury or muscular annoyance can cause enough stress to impact weight loss. Pushing myself harder physically, not only puts me at risk for injuring myself again or a worse injury, it puts stress on my body further depletes resources my body needs. All of the increased stress, decreased food intake and nutrients, and depleted resources from more exercise cause more strain on the body that is trying to heal, and that can cause more injury or pain. It becomes a horrible cycle.

In contrast, when I exercise for fitness, I have a big picture. “Fitness” means I want my body to fit my lifestyle. For instance, I want to be able to walk 5K and 10Ks. That means my muscles need to be trained to handle the distance and my joints need to be comfortable with my body as well as with the activity. When my back hurts, that is a queue that something is out of alignment. It could be a variety of things, but the big thing is it means my body needs to take a breath so it can fix whatever is hurting.

A day or two off won’t affect my long term goal of walking those K-races, enjoying a day at the state fair, or being able to go on a hike with one of my kids. A few days off won’t prevent my long term goal. In fact, taking a few days off actually empowers my goal by putting me into better condition because pain is not “fit” for accomplishing anything, except having a baby.

Focusing on being fit is why I didn’t go to the gym last night and spent the evening, sitting in the cool weather, reading a book, sipping my mochacinno, totally relaxed, enjoying my dogs’ company and the neighbor’s singing. It was a lovely, peaceful evening.

I know one night of no gym does not make or break my goal. Sometimes the fittest thing I can do is nothing but enjoy life, and since I exercise for the sole purpose of having a life I enjoy, exercising the wisdom to let my body rest fit my goal perfectly.

If You Hate Your Life and Maybe Yourself, Can I Offer You Some Hope?

Can I ask you some questions?

Are you tired?
Are you tired of feeling like you aren’t enough?
Are you tired of seeing all the hard, scary, and impossible problems in your kids, marriage, family knowing you don’t have power or wisdom to fix it?
Are you tired of drowning in the ways you feel like a failure?
Are you tired of hating yourself for mistakes you’ve made?
Are you tired of feeling like you have made such a mess of your life that it’s beyond repair?
Are you tired of feeling anxious because you are waiting for the next voice that tells you that you got it wrong again?
Are you tired of feeling like you are hopelessly lost in all the sadness, rejection, abandonment, self-loathing, and loneliness?

If ANY of those describes you, can I tell you about my Jesus?

Here are some things you need to know about Jesus:
–He created you. He knows who you are, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, what your failures are, what your uniqueness is…and He absolutely loves you.
–Jesus is the One who made you, and with Him, you are always enough.
–Jesus was part of the Trinity that created the universe and everything in it. He has all wisdom and can heal, restore, and change things beyond what you can even dream of. He can change hearts, intervene with circumstances, give wisdom. Where you can do nothing, Jesus can do everything in you, through you, and for you.
–Jesus’ voice is never cruel, critical, or demeaning. His voice is always love, leading, and life-focused. He will never tear you down. He will correct you in firm love for your good, but He will never tear you down or make you feel like you need to hate yourself for anything. Jesus is the antithesis of hate, and He keeps no record of wrongs. He wants to put those behind you and move on with you.

Which brings us to the failures and the mess.
Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life. He was crucified on a cross.

Politically, it was because the religious leaders hated Him. They hated the grace He taught. They hated the love He poured out. They hated the way He loved everyone, the ones they thought were beneath them, the ones they thought were too far gone because of their godless choices, the ones they would never be seen with. They hated that He threw all the rules man had created out the door so He could love people, heal people, and be with people. They hated Him, so they had Him crucified.

Spiritually, He was crucified because all those people He was hated for loving had committed sin…because of all us people commit sin…and the law said there had to be a payment for the breaking of the law. The only payment that would cover us was Jesus. The only way out of the mess we made for ourselves was for Him to die for things He never did.

Then the craziest thing happened. 
The absolutely impossible thing happened.

Jesus, who lay dead in a tomb sealed with a stone, was breathed back into life. 

Death could not keep Him. 
He was greater.
He still is greater.
He is still the risen Jesus.

And all that death stuff in your life…

Your sin.
Your imperfections.
The mess you made.
The way you hate yourself.
The fear and anxiety you have.
The abandonment and rejection you have experienced.
The fear and helplessness you feel over circumstances in your life.
The whole crazy, painful thing you are living in, feeling, and experiencing.

He defeated all that too. 

Yes, Jesus came to give eternal life reconciled to God through His blood and sacrifice, but He also came to give abundant life in the here and now.
He came to give hope, a home, belonging, joy in who you are…life beyond anything you can imagine. 
…actually enjoying who you are and thinking you are cool.
…knowing you are loved and belong.
…knowing that you are able to get through hard things and someone is on your side.
…knowing you can heal from everything that has happened to you.
…enjoying your life.
…being able to say you are good at things and not comparing yourself to other.
…knowing you are valuable and important.

THAT is my Jesus.

Ready to meet Him or talk more about Him?
I’m ready to answer your questions.

He is risen.
And there is glorious hope. 

Jerri Kelley

I Know Why I Can’t, but I’m Going to do It Anyway.

I have mentioned that I enjoy riding the bike at the gym and doing weights. Today, I added the treadmill. One of the things I enjoy is walking 5K races, and I want to build up to 10K races, but something I have wanted to do for decades…like since my 20s…is a half marathon.

I never seriously considered it because after knee surgery when I was 18, losing basketball and the military, and finding out there was no rehab for the damage done, I gave up on “races”. Plus, I never considered myself a runner anyway. I never had speed, and I was never a long distance person. I wasn’t a short-distance person either, for that matter, but point being, I never considered myself capable of doing anything with the word “marathon” in its title.

Until about three years ago.

A friend of mind who is a strong runner and has run marathons and I were talking, and I mentioned how much I admire runners who can run like him and how I had always thought it was cool and wanted to do that, and he asked, “So why don’t you?” Um…where do I even start with that? Knees, genetic issues with my connective tissue, weight, not a runner, fear. Okay, maybe I didn’t mention FEAR, but if we are being honest, I have to add that to the list. He looked at me like he was waiting for some actual reason. “I’m not a runner,” I finally said and shrugged.

“So walk. People walk those things all the time. No reason you can’t.”


He nodded. Huh. I could actually earn a 13.1 sticker to go on my car. How cool is that? (Yes, I know it sounds shallow, but really, I cannot tell you how much I deep sigh when I see those on other cars or how proud I would be to have that on my tailgate.)

So, I started thinking about what it take to make this happen.

I figured it would take two years to lose enough weight to be “a real walker” and get the speed to walk 13.1 miles in the usual time limit for half marathons, but I could do this. I set goals to get fit, lose weight, and speed up my walking. I pulled down training plans, researched shoes, and felt hungry most of the time. But I was determined. Then, I injured my knee, had major surgery (not knees), and spent a lot of time on my couch.

By the time I could start exercising again, I still had serious physical limitations, but more than that, I had mental limitations. By the time I could train again, I had realized how ridiculous and far-fetched the idea was. I mean, really, I was never a good athlete. I was never actually competitive even when I was in great shape. That isn’t one of my strengths. Plus, I’m in my 50s, and…

I want to walk a half-marathon.

That is what my brain suddenly settled on.

And that was that.

I want to walk a half-marathon, and I am going to train for that. It might be a year before I’m able to do it, but that means in a year, I’ll be sporting a 13.1 magnet on the back of my car, and I will have a t-shirt I am uber proud of.

But more than that, I will have a story about how I decided to do something hard, worked at it, was consistent, and achieved it. In the meantime, I’ll be walking and getting in even better shape to do 5Ks, 10Ks, and hiking. I will do other activities that I really enjoy along the road, and because of the increased strength and stamina, those other things will be easier.

I am going to develop more resilience. I am going to build character. I am going to become stronger mentally. I am going to learn more life skills for scheduling, meal planning, and restoration.

And most importantly…

I am going to feel really proud of myself.

So today, I started the journey. Today I rode my 4.75 miles on the bike, and then stepped on the treadmill. I only did .5 miles, BUT I did .5 miles.

I started.

A journey of a thousand miles may start with one step, but my journey of a half-marathon started with half a mile.

Copyright 2023 @Jerri Kelley

Brianna Chacon: Builder of Iron Women

That beautiful woman beside me if my dear friend Brianna Chacon, Jesus lover, mom, wife, mayor, community activist, and builder of women.

Yesterday we took time to eat at one of our favorite places and be women. We talked about not being 20, body changes, working out, life, families, challenges, and faith. We talked about what God is doing in our lives and through us and what we see coming and are praying into.

Bri told me about the #GodSquad and the way the Lord is working in the lives of the women at her church and in her small group. She told me how the Holy Spirit is showing up in prayer time and touching lives. Then she told me about the challenges she has faced as the leader and facilitator and the incredible ways the Lord has uplifted her and encouraged her when attacks came. It wasn’t all victory and shouting. Some of it was tender and vulnerable. It was all beautiful and powerful and very real.

All of it blessed me, encouraged me, and challenged me, but that is what you get when you hang around Brianna, thankfully, which is one of the reasons I love hanging around her.

In Proverbs, it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (27:17)

When I think of this verse, Bri is one of the iron women I think of. I think of the way she speaks tenderly and encouragingly to women, how she encourages their faith and relationship with God. Truth is, Brianna is one of the fiercest, strongest women I know, and she is also one of the most nurturing, kind, loving, and accepting women I know, too.

I believe this paradox is what makes her such treasured iron. She has fierce faith, high standards, and deep love, and that is a powerful combination.

That is the kind of empowering combination that sits with women where they are as they they become who they are created to be. That is an iron woman building other iron women.

Living a Life, not chasing a number

A few folks have asked me about the gym and if this is to lose weight or go another hike or what.

First, I’ve actually been going to the gym since February. I just didn’t make it a big deal. In fact, only 2 people knew I was going. But, point being, this is a routine for me. I just commented the last two days because I thought the people were nice.

Second, no, this isn’t a fitness push or weight loss thing, which is why didn’t mention it. We live in a society that pushes being thin but doesn’t are about being healthy or fit, and I’ve been thin. I’ve made that scale an idol, and you know what that did for me? It made me hate myself. It made me insecure. It made me try to live small and live in the shadows and not be seen. That scale was a prison, and, y’all, I’m done with that nonsense.

I’ve dealt with the issue of judgmental society and jean-size driven folks telling me I needed to be to be a certain size to be worthy and acceptable to be an athlete, to hike mountains, to do 5Ks, to wear shorts kayaking, to compete, to be anything remotely active in public. And you know what? I’m done with that nonsense, too.

This isn’t about looking like society says I should look. It’s not about being a size some ridiculous chart says I should be. It’s not about looking like some air-brushed woman on a magazine cover.

This isn’t about my blood pressure (which is awesome actually) or doctor’s orders or getting older and needing to move more.

Nope. This is about one thing and one thing only.

Building and living a life I love and enjoy. This is about being fit and healthy to do things I love to do. I love hiking mountains. I love 5ks and want to do mud runs. I love feeling strong and having stamina. I love the idea of walking a half marathon (no, not running. Not being a pansy, just not interested in another knee surgery).

I’m not chasing a number, on the scale or in my jeans. No, it actually isn’t hard for me to go to the gym. I am actually disappointed when I don’t get to go. No, this isn’t doctor ordered.

This? It’s me being me and doing what I really enjoy, living and building a life I love and enjoy. This is part of my “life is so good” stuff.

Priority Conversations at the Gym

I had a neat conversation at the gym last night.

I gotta tell you, trainers typically make me nervous. Typically, they focus on a number on a scale and how to starve yourself and supplement nutrients until you reach some number someone says you are supposed to be at, and THEN you can be happy and like yourself. But sometimes you meet one who asks a different question. Last night was different, and I thought I would share the feel good.

(The text that wasn’t shown with the picture)

Last night I was on the pull down machine at the gym, chilling between sets, when one of the class instructors walked by. She stopped and said, “I just want you to know I have noticed you. You are here consistently. You are working hard, and the work is paying off. You look great. Do you feel good?” I smiled (even with my eyes) because yeah, I really do feel good. I enjoy working out with weights and on the bike. I said, “Yes,” and she said, “Good. You look great.” I thanked her, and she left. Two things I want to point out here.

1. I am always the encourager. I love to see people uplifted and encouraged. I do it because I believe it makes lives better, not for recognition or reciprocation, but it was really nice for someone to see me and encourage me.

2. Did you notice what she asked me? “Do you feel good?” It wasn’t how much weight I had lost or how long I had been working out or my goals or the typical weight training, number on a scale chasing dialogue. Nope. “Do you feel good?” Or in my language, “Is this helping you have the life you want to have?”

I absolutely love the priority and question. Just that question made me feel good. Thought I would share because there was a lot of good stuff in that. Hope you have a great day, and, Jen at the Nat, thanks for sharing your goodness. Blessings!

Talking to Myself, Fist Bumps, and Killing Zombies

Okay, I have to tell you this story.

Second, I talk to myself at the gym. Like, out loud. Talk to myself. And I say things like, “You so rock this. You know why? Because you keep showing up. You keep doing the work. It may be hard right now, but in a few weeks, this won’t be a thing, and you’ll be ready for the next five pounds.” It varies, but you get the idea. And you may be thinking it’s because I’m tired or I’m sore or I’m enduring the gym. Actually, that isn’t true. I really enjoy lifting weights and riding the bike, but I talk to myself to remind myself I am a winner. I am successful. I am putting thoughts in and then reinforcing them with action. I am creating a default tape of my choice. We hear so much about zombie voices and all the voices that tell us how we fail or not enough, but we choose to keep those or not. There comes a point when you can’t blame the parents or the ex or the legal guardian or the teachers or the Zombies. There comes a point when you are choosing those voices because let’s be honest, they are easy. Change is hard. But, if you are tired of fighting zombies that never die, change your tape. Be intentional about what you tell yourself. Be positive and then put behavior behind it to reinforce it.

ANYWAY, so I’m at the gym talking out loud to myself telling myself how great my thighs and butt are going to look (because…wow that burns), and I change machines from the abduction/adduction to the butterfly machine, and this man comes up to me, holds out his fist, gives me a fist bump, and says, “You’re doing a great job. We’re all fighting the battle. You’re doing great.”

I told him thank you, and he walked away and left me wondering whether I should feel honored that he was evidently listening to my self-conversation or feeling really awkward that he was listening to my self-conversation. 🤣🤣🤣

I decided to feel honored.

Because some random person decided to take a moment, give me a fist bump, and cheer me on.

I mean, really, that is good stuff right there.

So anyway, wanted to share the feel good.

And, if you have a friends who send you a hysterical workout meme or text while you are trying to ride a bike and you laugh so loud everyone looks, that is like sprinkles and cherries on your happy gym sundae. 🍨

I hope you’ve had a fantastic day!!