Moments In The Story

Taking time to appreciate the journey….

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Walking with a Limp

Though an experienced rock climber for many years, my dear friend Vanessa’s life changed dramatically almost three years ago after she fell 40 feet, landing on her back – her head just below a large rock. She remembers several people looking down at her, but she suffered brief memory loss and could not figure out why she was unable to get up. She had no pain at first, but her injuries were significant – she broke her back and her arm, and her femur was pushed up into her pelvic bone. Vanessa had several surgeries and stayed in the hospital for two months.

When I was eight years old Vanessa’s family moved into the house next to ours. We became fast playmates and although I don’t remember much about what we would do every afternoon…I remember laughing a lot around her. She moved away a couple years later, but she always kept in contact with me. We exchanged letters through the years and she sent me a hand-made birthday card every June. I even received one from her my freshman year of college! She has an amazing ability to keep in touch with so many people, and she genuinely wants to be your friend. We reconnected again in our mid-twenties and shared a lot of fun memories, most of which include a tremendous amount of laughter. There’s something about being in her presence. She came to visit from the east coast two weeks ago and again I spent a lot of the evening laughing.

I remember talking to Vanessa on the phone one day when she was in the hospital almost three years ago – it was a few weeks before Thanksgiving. She was hoping to be able to go visit her brother for the holiday and was unsure if she would be out of the hospital before then. She cried on the phone.  I know Vanessa must cry, but honestly I’ve never heard a negative word come out of her mouth, nor have I ever heard her cry. It made me cry. And a few minutes later she resumed back to her positive self, and asked me about how I was doing.

Vanessa was able to make it out of the hospital before Thanksgiving (and was able to go to her brother’s house), but she continued to endure a long road of recovery. Three years later, she still struggles with a numb foot due to nerve damage in one leg. She also struggles with blood clots that cause extreme pain in her lungs and rob her of her normal energy. However, she still rock climbs. She runs races. She rides her bike. And she is still the joyful, fun-loving friend with the contagious laugh.

Oh, and she walks with a subtle limp….

Due to the shattering of her pelvic bone, one hip sits slightly higher than the other. Each step is a reminder of her past, but a demonstration of her courage.

Most of us do not walk with a physical limp, but we may walk with an emotional limp. I dare say we all do. The limp can either remind us of what we have lost or it can be a testimony to what we have gained. In Vanessa’s case, her limp inspires me – mostly because she is still in the “process” of healing. She went back to the rock where she fell in hopes of climbing it and tackling her demon. She wasn’t ready. But she went and I don’t know that I could have done that. She faced her pain. And she continues to live out her loving personality despite that pain. I think the limp gives her a special flair. I’ve been thinking about my limps…boy there are a few. I haven’t always let them make the story of my life better. But I’m learning…and I’m grateful for examples like Vanessa, who have chosen to limp well.

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, July 2012.



Waldo Canyon Moments

Ironically, this was written a few weeks ago and I put it aside. For some reason, at the time I wasn’t ready to share this. The picture on my homepage is a beautiful mountain landscape, taken from my favorite hike at Waldo Canyon (and posted prior to the recent fire and destruction of Waldo). Many years ago in 1998 I discovered that hike during a difficult summer of going through a life-changing, traumatic experience. I was very young, and I was trying to put the pieces of life back together. My wonderful parents were with me on most of my many hikes on that trail and were a huge support to me that summer. We spent each two-and-a-half hour hike processing my circumstances and decisions. Most importantly, their unconditional love and support pointed me to God and taught me something about crying out to Him in my time of emotional turmoil.

The years following, I spent many days hiking and running at Waldo Canyon with various friends and family members. I think it became my favorite hike not only because of the beautiful scenery but because of the many important moments I shared along that trail. The best way to describe it for me is I always felt close to God when I was at Waldo Canyon. Sometimes you don’t even realize the meaning behind something until you look back on it, even years later.

In 2002 I began dating my amazing husband. We have almost been married seven years! During our three years of dating, we experienced a lot of outdoor adventures, as we both love to be active. We hiked a lot of trails, including this one! One gorgeous day in May 2005, we decided to hike here. As we were hiking and talking, I was looking at the ground and I noticed a few rose pedals on the trail. The rose pedals became thicker and soon led up to a large rock overlooking the many peaks around us. It took me awhile to get my bearings and piece together my husband’s upcoming proposal. Beside that rock, with my hands in his, he asked me to marry him. One of the pink roses given to me that day was placed on the “rock” and we took the picture you can see on my homepage. That flower was preserved and now sits in a commemorative glass box in our bedroom so that we can remember that special day. But to tell you the truth, this picture means more to me than anything and here’s why: it wasn’t until a few days after our engagement that I was able to realize that a bad story journeyed on this trail intersected with a new story of love and joy. Same trail, different story. The rock where I used to stop and take a water break while pondering a painful journey became the same spot seven years later where I would find a man kneeling with a ring. My husband did not know the meaning of this trail – he did not plan this out. It just happened. And I didn’t see this symbol of redemption until I thought of it later.

Since writing this post, Waldo Canyon had been consumed with fire, and today it still burns. My heart aches. But I’m grateful for the memories and moments I enjoyed there…and I will never forget. And more importantly, I continue to pray for the fire to be contained, and for protection for the homes in jeopardy.Image

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, June 2012.

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Why the Moments are Important

Great stories – in fact our own stories, are basically a series of moments that add up. Some moments are great and some moments are devastating. However, if we look at a good story, there is always some type of disappointment, and how that disappointment is overcome is what inspires us. I believe it takes many good and bad moments to make a story great. (Braveheart anyone??)

I was struck the other day by how each day is filled with so many choices for me to make. Take for instance my interactions with my son. I could have fifty patient responses toward him, and in one instance of frustration, blow up at him. We had a series of tough days recently and I’ve been feeling the regret of making some bad choices in responding harshly to him. I know my son feels loved by me, but I feel the weight of hurting him. Welcome to parenthood, right?

On the flip side, because there are so many loving responses I give him and so many good memories (or moments) I’m able to create with him, he seems to give me grace when I fail. About two seconds after I yelled the other day, he was trying to play with me by pretending to squirt me with a squirt gun. Talk about redirecting a bad interaction into something positive! I should learn from my three-year-old. I’m learning that the conflicts in life and in our relationships also contribute to how great those relationships are. When you overcome things with someone, it draws you closer to them. When you go the long haul and experience a period of years with a spouse you look back and realize there are a lot of highs and lows that got you to the place you are at now….together.

I think it’s important to realize that the moments creating our story are going to be a mixture of good and bad. But overall, our story makes us better and better. And each day we have new opportunities to make choices that will contribute to that story. So I’m now convincing myself to stop stressing over my parenting mistakes and just keep trying to make good choices. Those good choices will add up to a good story…and a bad choice here and there will never destroy my story!

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, June 2012.

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From Passion to Perseverance

I’m sure most of you can relate with me about the excitement that comes with something new. Oh how many times I have started that new diet, or got excited about a new job, or new hobby only to come to a screeching hault a short time later. There could be different reasons – maybe my original idea was too “lofty” to be realistic. Maybe I tried something new, and didn’t like it, which happens. Or maybe I truly had a passion for something, which got me started…but I struggled with the process to get there.

My experience over the past few years with pursuing my “passions” has not been what I had imagined. For instance, I was a mentor to a few young girls for a while. I started out so excited that I felt nervous, stressed, and incapable. I prayed hard before each meeting for what to say; I was so worried about doing something wrong that I didn’t just relax and take time to be in the moment with each person. Over time, and when I almost stopped being a mentor, I realized my focus was wrong. It was not easy to realize God was showing me that I was thinking about me and not them. I was trying to give of myself, but in reality it was for myself – to “feel” like I was making a difference. Of course I loved these girls – my motivation was not bad. It’s just that I had an expectation. Initially I imagined our meetings would be me giving wonderful, amazing advice while they listened intently and took in every word. Oh, and we would hug at the end and they would thank me for my wonderful contribution to their life. Blech – disgusting right?

I didn’t even realize this was in my heart; I truly was trying to give of myself. But I had some things to learn, and had I given up on the process I never would have developed the character changes that were needed in my heart. God gave me a passion and I pursued it. Then I had to learn how to give selflessly – which was a process. Sometimes our passions stir up so much emotion in us that we try to keep that feeling going. The reality of the day-to-process of many things in life can feel mundane. We want the end, we want the result.

For me, I began to see my meetings with these young ladies as a way to serve. I listened and gave little advice. I didn’t plan an agenda ahead of time. Sometimes I brought them water and snacks. I didn’t feel I was making a tangible impact as the world would see it, but I realized the point was to just be there for them. I felt God saying to me that He was teaching me what was really important. Then I went from thinking I needed to quit (because I wasn’t making an impact) to being energized by giving of myself. I embraced the process and kept doing it so I could learn.

Now there are MANY areas of my life where I have not stayed with the process…I have so much to learn. But this experience gave me hope. And the idea that I must find perseverance while pursuing my passions is an important lesson. I can either not serve – and miss out on what God has for me…or I can do something with the wrong heart and quit anyway. Either way, I’m not living out what God wired me to do, and that’s sad!

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, June 2012.

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I just read for the second time a book by Donald Miller – A Million Miles In A Thousand Years.

I already have a passion for stories – I seem to see them all the time. I see things in my friends, family members, and in me. I believe there is a great story we are a part of, and we each live out small stories in our everyday lives. I loved this book because it has put words to my interest in the concept of story and why it is important.

The author’s study of how to make a movie –  based on his life –  forces him to look at what makes a story truly great. The writers of his movie had to create more dramatic moments to make his life interesting…which gets him thinking about how he could actually make his life more meaningful…and in turn live out a better story. He begins to create new adventures for himself and through that process realizes that the stories he lives get better as he gives more and more of himself to others. He experiences the highs and lows of life but finds a way to see them as important pieces that make his story one of a life transformed for the better. I highly recommend reading this book! I got so much out of it both times.

I have been thinking about starting a blog for a long time. It’s mostly for me to write about what I’m learning and what is important to me, and hopefully it will be an encouragement to anyone else who is interested!

I will be sharing more specifics about what I’m learning about living good stories…how this is a choice and a way of life that does not always come naturally. I have made many mistakes in the past which have cost me. That must be why I love good stories, I love being inspired by people who choose them. I want to choose them.

© Kristin Gordley and Moments In The Story, June 2012.