Moments In The Story

Taking time to appreciate the journey….


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Starting with Sincerity

“Mama, I just want to play with you”. Believe me – I hear that statement about 15 times a day. And the other day, in particular was a rough day. You know…the kind when both kids are taking turns crying, or crying at the same time all….day….long. And like most days lately, I thought I had broken my record for the amount of times I’d said “no” in one day.  And while I was trying to find yet another thing he could play with so I could take my 5-minute “wash only the important parts” shower, he stopped me in my tracks.

“Mama, I just want to play with you”.

There was a soft tone, his eyes meeting mine, and I really saw him. I didn’t see the “whiney” child who will not obey, or the older brother who knows not to take things away from his younger brother…I saw his sincere need. I prolonged my shower again and sat down to play with my son for a few minutes, but with a calm demeanor and a genuine desire. Just a few positive moments with his mama was all he needed. And I needed it even more. His sincerity brought a unique restoration that our relationship was in need of.

Twice in the past few weeks I have sat across the table at coffee shops from someone I dearly loved as we approached a delicate conversation. In each situation both of us listened and received what the other person had to say. And each of us felt heard. We processed, rather than blamed. We saw it as an opportunity to grow as individuals. And we put the person above the issue. Each situation was different, but one thing was the same – we each chose sincerity.

Now doesn’t that sound nice and simple? Well I can’t tell you how much frustration, hurt and confusion I had to work through prior to these meetings. In one case, I was feeling hurt and helpless…and I was getting ready to formulate my position on paper so I wouldn’t forget my points. I was going to do that right after I whizzed through my Bible reading for that day. As I was skimming through my reading, I saw the phrase “draw near to God with a sincere heart”. I stopped and immediately softened. I talked to God about it and I told Him how I really felt. I sensed His mercy and love for the situation. And I stopped planning and kept praying for His help in communicating and listening through a heart of sincerity.

Many times we approach conflicts or miscommunications as a battle to be fought. But I believe that our deepest longing underneath it all is to be understood. It’s scary to ask that of someone who has hurt us or is angry at us. I’ve heard people say, “well I’m just keeping it real”. What they are really doing is spewing – but without transparency, and with an agenda. Or there’s the person that postures as if they are listening, but uses deflection, blame-shifting, or “spiritual” reasoning to avoid owning their part of the problem.

I don’t think we even care about receiving an apology as much as we long for sincerity. It disarms us. It takes the angry breath out of our chest. It brings tears to our eyes. Even love without sincerity means nothing. But our words, spoken through the lens of sincerity can love others well beyond even well-meaning, truthful words. When someone communicates with me through sincerity, their words are received in my heart. And when I choose a path of sincerity, I end up speaking truth, being transparent, and avoiding the tendency to manipulate.

Our lives are busy and our days are full. We don’t always have the time to think through how to respond to every encounter we will have that day. We also don’t have the wisdom on our own to navigate through every difficult, even long-term problem with someone. But there is one thing we can do…we can start with sincerity….and see where it leads. Even if the person does not receive our sincerity, we will have a peace because we have been honest in a loving way. And we will not have regrets. Sincerity is the only “real” way to be. It may not lead to complete resolution, but it will lead to restoration – even if that is only for our own heart.

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…….and let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10)


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Settling For More

T swinging

I’ve been a Christian since childhood….but my friendship with Jesus actually began a few years ago. That is really another story, but as I write that statement, I am faced with the reality that I still long for more. No matter how much I learn, how much more of my heart I give Him – I still never obtain “it” – that elusive fulfillment we claim we can have. I have heard the following types of statements in various Christian settings my whole life: “God will meet all your needs”; “When God closes a door, He opens a window”; “Your identity has to be in God alone”; “How could God allow this to happen”? All of these statements reflect a belief in some Christian communities that when we have a right relationship with God, our lives will be perfect and we will be completely satisfied in Him.

Well after a lifetime of doing, planning and striving to be close to Him, maybe I’m alone here…but I still don’t feel satisfied. I still question whether I’m in His will or not. I still think I “hear” Him, and step out only to find a closed door. And I still want more.

A year ago I started the process of going back to school for a master’s degree in counseling. I wanted to do it really bad, but after facing the reality of the commitment, I had no choice but to put it on hold. With two small children, it was just not feasible. I was a little disappointed, but felt like it could still happen down the road. A few months later I felt stirred to pursue a ministry activity that I’ve been passionate about for years. I was excited, thinking this is what God had…and that’s why the counseling path didn’t work out. I spent weeks working on the “plan”, but circumstance after circumstance proved the timing was off.

One afternoon, around that time, I took my boys to the park and put them side-by-side in swings. As I pushed them, I was teary and almost allowing myself to be disheartened. I started asking God why…and how I had missed Him. I started feeling insecure and purposeless. Then….and no joke…I sensed a voice inside me saying, “swing them”. It’s a moment I could have easily missed as I was going through the motion of pushing the swings. I paused to delight in my 11-month-old’s fluffy, red baby hair blowing around in the wind. He smiled big, showing all eight of his teeth. And I smiled. My older son started laughing in the other swing as I tickled his legs from behind. I found myself truly engaging with my kids and treasuring this typical park outing. A man and his wife had walked by a few times. Finally they stopped – “Enjoy it”, he said. “We’ve been talking about how we pushed our boys in the swing like you are, and now they are teenagers!”

That experience has stayed with me. I was still disappointed for a few weeks. But although God said “no” to my plan – instead of a slammed door, I was faced with the intentional nature of His love for me (much more than an open window). His love allowed me to spend my energy embracing the moment before me instead of anxiously trying to figure out what “His will” for my future was. His love gave me a memory I could have altogether missed. Now my red-head is running around and saying words – not the baby he was at the park just two months ago.

I still talk to God about the longings I have, and I acknowledge that they are grounded in who He created me to be. At this moment I choose to have hope that what He put in me will be carried “to completion”…as His Word says….and in a way that will blow my socks off. My prayer lately has been, “God help me to want what You want for me”. And in that place I find a quiet trust and a quiet hope. His love compels us not to have regrets later because we missed what was important now. But our continual longing and our inability to be satisfied is also a gift. It points us to Him, with the invitation to receive more than we can ever ask or imagine. I’d rather settle for more than less.

Ephesians 3:17-21
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

boys swinging


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Like Father, Like Daughter

My dear friend, Vanessa, lost her Daddy a little over a week ago. Although she’s 38 years old, she still calls him “Daddy”. She found him after he had passed away in his bed early one morning. She and her brother had flown out to be with their dad for a fairly routine heart procedure. They decided to come because of an unsettled feeling they had about him going through it alone. Things went well, and Vanessa’s brother flew home the same night. She stayed with her dad, and was alone when she found him the next morning. Several years ago Vanessa also discovered her mom, after passing away from a sudden heart attack in her bathroom. She was alone then too.

My heart has been grieving since I talked to her on that Friday she lost her dad. No words come to mind or can possibly stand up against the devastation of a heart-broken, sobbing person you love. Just when I wanted to say something stupid, like “He is in a better place”, I instead found myself entering her grief and just crying with her. I told her I loved her and I meant it…and we just cried.

I’ve since been reminded of why I love Vanessa so much. When I was nine-years-old, she and her family moved in next door to us. Our younger brothers were also close in age and the four of us became good friends. We did all the normal kid stuff and laughed a lot. When we moved to a different neighborhood two years later, Vanessa and I stayed in touch by exchanging letters and attending each other’s birthday parties. When we would start to lose touch, I would receive a surprise letter from Vanessa. As we got older, every year I would receive a home-made, hand-written Christmas card, and Birthday card. Even when I was away at college, she made the effort to find my address and send me a card.

In our early 20’s, we lived in the same area and began hanging out a lot. We became close during that “transitional” season of life when you are trying to figure out what to do with your life. We were both working and going to school, and socializing a ton. I still laughed a lot around her….just like when we were kids. And she always had “this friend” or “that friend” that would be joining us. I met a lot of new people through her! About eight years ago, she moved to the Washington D.C. area and although we’ve been miles apart…she still manages to keep in touch with me. She still remembers my birthday and she still sends Christmas cards (though now it’s by email to 100 people at once…she wouldn’t be Vanessa if she didn’t continue to accumulate friends!). She is still my dear friend. And when we got together with our brothers and her boyfriend last night….we laughed again like little kids. It’s so rare to find someone that pursues your friendship like that, and makes you feel special even though it is how they are with everyone. And it’s rare to find someone that cares so much about you, and enters into your world even though they’ve just been through a trauma.

At her dad’s funeral I was really moved. One-by-one, folks came up to share about Vanessa’s dad….his golf buddy, his life-long friends, his subordinates, his peers, and his children. Most all of them described the same quality about her dad that meant the most to them – his concern and his availability for people. They would talk to him about their problems. One person never heard him say a bad word about anyone in the twenty years they were friends. Another gentleman shared about receiving a letter from Vanessa’s dad while he was serving in the Army. He hadn’t talked to her dad in years, but somehow her dad tracked down his address and sent him a letter that reached him at just the right time. Vanessa spoke about her dad’s influence in her life, and how she takes after him.

She herself finds that as a college professor, students come in, close her office door, and ask to talk to her about various things. She pursues people, and keeps in touch. She contacts them and makes their day when they needed to hear from a friend. She is a loyal friend that never speaks badly of anyone else. She laughs a lot. She is living out the things people loved most about her Daddy in her own life. Her father modeled it for her, and she became a reflection of His life-changing qualities.

One older gentleman who shared at the funeral pointed out that her father was the kind of man he was because of his parents. Looking at Vanessa and her extended family, he said “Find out who his parents were”.

Those who have gone before us leave a legacy. No one is perfect, but we are wise to examine the qualities that positively impacted the lives around them. And we are wise to follow in their footsteps.

In honor of Willie Little, and his reflections – Vanessa and Jason.

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


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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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I just read for the second time a book by Donald Miller – A Million Miles In A Thousand Years.  http://www.amazon.com/Million-Miles-Thousand-Years-Learned/dp/1400202981/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1339124644&sr=1-1

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.