Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I have never been good at beginning things. Introductions aren't my thing, really.

This summer has come rather silently. Like in my previous blog post, I said that this summer is different. I have been "laying low." I have been doing a lot of the same thing everyday, I have spent a lot of time alone, and I have struggled through different waves of sadness and anxiety.

Being the extrovert that I am, I have spent an uncomfortable amount of time alone this summer. I think I was partly anticipating some of my loneliness, but I was definitely not expecting the actual amount of time that I have spent in the company of yours truly. When I am alone, however, I try really hard to make myself feel not alone. I read, I email, I listen to music, I call, I text, I write letters, and I pray for other people. I love loving others. I do. Nothing makes me happier than sending mail to people I love, or even just texting them to remind them that I am interested in their lives.

I desperately try to distract myself, from myself.

I am not saying that things that I do are bad, or wrong, but I realized, that without them... I was terrified. I was terrified to be alone with myself because of all the things that I would realize that I was doing wrong, or all the things that I didn't like about myself, or all of the things that make me sad, or all of things that made me mad. I wanted to remain in the land of distraction, so I didn't have to meet myself exactly where I was.

A few weeks ago, I was in Wisconsin.

Two nights before I drove back to Arkansas and to my monotonous routine, I walked down to the lake.
This lake in particular, has always represented peace. It is a place of refuge for me, and my family. It was an "in between" in a time of chaos, it holds memories that are precious, memories that are hard, and memories that would make you laugh so hard your stomach would hurt. Of all the things that the lake has and has not been, it has always been consistent and it has always been good.
All I could think about was how much I didn't want to go back to Arkansas. I didn't know what to do with all of these thoughts and feelings. So, I walked down to the water, and I sat on the pier. The sun was setting and God was saying, "Hello, Kinsley." And the waves were moving, but just slightly, as if someone was just breathing slightly over the water.

I was alone.

I didn't talk to anyone, I didn't read a story, I didn't do anything.
I just sat. I stared at the lake as if I was searching for something. And then, my sadness, my fears, and my insecurities walked up to me, and sat right by me. And instead of rushing to find something to transport me back to the land of distraction, I greeted them like old friends. I sad I am sorry for ignoring you, and I am sorry for running from you.

But what does it mean to be sad? What does it mean to embrace it?

I don't know the answer to that question. But I do know that life is not about being happy. Emotions are fleeting and they change at any given moment. Things in our control, and things that are out of our control all contribute to the constant adjustment of our mood. It is important that we don't ignore these emotions, but it's also important that we don't let them define who we are and what we cling to.

Sometimes, we are sad. But, as a dear and wise friend reminded me,
There is a way to be sad.
and there is a way to be sad well.

So, I will be sad.
I will learn what it means to be sad well.
I will be happy.
I will be happy well.
I will be alone.
and I will not be afraid.

.... and I will let the sunset remind me of, not happiness- no, but JOY and PEACE. The kind of joy that is deep and everlasting, and the kind of Peace that transcends all understanding.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sure, take all that you see.

I wasn't quite sure how to start this post.

I will not start this post by trying to explain why it has been so long since I have last written. I will not inform you about how hard it is for me to finally learn how to articulate the things that I am learning, and how badly I want to be able to eloquently write them down. I won't apologize. And I will not make a joke about how my mom is probably the only one that reads this anyway...

I am not on my way to a grand adventure. I am not really transitioning into a new stage of life. I am not going somewhere new where I don't know anyone. I am not moving to a castle. I am not going to a new school.

This are all things that I haven't really been able to say in the past few years. If you were to back track through my posts, you would only read of paradox, transition, adventure, and music... probably. However, as I write from where I am, I can tell you that I am really not moving. I am living at home, I don't have a job, and I don't have a plan.

Now- I've never been one for details, but, I feel like I usually have something that I am looking forward to. My mom told me once that I "measure my time by the next big thing." And, I'm pretty sure she is right. Right now- there is not a big thing, and I feel a bit out of sorts, and a bit unstable.

But, sometimes, instability is exactly what we need. We need things to break into our lives, to remind us that, ultimately, we are not in control. The past month of my life has been entirely unstable. I have been on 11 planes. Gotten lost, stuck, delayed and cancelled. I have attended both a wedding and a funeral within days of each other. I have felt extreme joy, and deep mourning. I have felt angry that I can't even seem to grab hold of one damn thought, or make one lasting decision.

All of these things are contributing to the fact that I am not in control. And it is in these moments- the ones in which we feel like we can no longer stand- that we reach out. We reach out to each other. We humble ourselves, and we ask for help. We understand that we can't control anything and that most of our emotional energy goes into that which we cannot control. We ask for someone to hold our hand. We let a secure embrace wrap around us when we are crying to hard to breathe. We let other people buy us coffee. We let ourselves say things like, "I just don't know."

And, we rest in the fact that God is stable. He is unchanging. He is in control. We cling to this, because it is all that we have and it is all we need.

So, although this summer is looking to be an unstable one, I will be interested in big things, and happy in small ways. I will become better at baking/cooking. I will read classics. I will learn how to play guitar. I will spend time with my brother and mother. I will write. I will rejoice in the union of my friends. I will mourn the loss of my dear friend and cousin. I will make a compost pile in my backyard.

... And I will embrace the shakiness of my ground, and cling to He is who Stable.

[If I know only one thing, it's that everything that I see, of the world outside is so inconceivable often I barely can speak.]

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A traveling paradox.

Lately, I have been daydreaming a lot.

I have been crafting brilliant plans, and all the details that they require. I have sent out emails. I have looked at flights. I have considered gas prices. And I have spent hours on the internet looking at all of the different things that I could be happy doing.

However, all of these things have remained in the confines of my brain, or in the sub-text of an introductory email that was never intended to be followed up.

Why do i make all of these plans, when I know that they will never come to fruition? I think it is because that if I have learned anything in the past two years, it is that the word is a small place. And I never want to lose that realization. So maybe I just always want to be living with the realization that nothing is too far out of reach. Other countries aren't that far away, and there is no real reason why you shouldn't apply for that job. Yes, money is real, and it gets in the way. But, save your Starbucks money for a year, and buy a plane ticket to go visit someone that you always said you would. Get in your car, and drive eleven hours to be home for no more that 40. But know that those 40 hours are important- and so are the eleven that it took you to get down there. In the grand scheme of things, a week long a trip, or a year-long trip are so tiny. Not to say that they are unimportant, but they are tiny. It is no longer a big deal to spend a month here, or a year there.

No matter where we go, no matter if the plans we make happen or not, no matter if we are gone for 1 year or 20 years, we return. We come back. I don't know where we return to.. I mean, maybe it's not one place. Maybe it's not "home." Maybe it's a state of mind, maybe it's a routine, or maybe it's a hug from your mom.

But, in order to return, we must leave. We have to make plans We have to take steps forward. We have to say goodbye. We have to walk away.

Yes yes, I know you are probably thinking, "Here we go, Kinsley, trying to teach lessons via the beauty of paradox." I know I do it a lot, people, but that is because it is such an important concept to grasp. What would stillness mean without it's opposite? What would be light if there was no dark?

The more we recognize paradox, the more we learn to live within it's tension.

What would Easter mean if there was no Good Friday?

So, let us dwell within the tension.

Let us understand that it was true love that carries us, that keeps us afloat.

Let us live with the knowledge that we are forgiven and loved.

Let us mourn the loss and death of our Saviour, let us feel the whip on his back, and the thorns being pressed into his head.

And then, with the rising of the sun, let us REJOICE. let us BE GLAD and know, with every fiber of our being

that He is alive...

.... and so are we.

So, let us return and grab hold of the Love that is waiting for us.

[Oh, I do hope this is one place I am able to return to.]

Friday, March 25, 2011

Swiftly still.

When you become aware of the fact that life is a constant series of transitions, it makes the things that are constant that much more important. It's like, when you see a rushing river, and you notice the rock in the middle that causes the swiftness of the water to part ways, even if only for a moment. The water continues to move, of course, but it is forced to move aside, because it is not as stable or strong as the rock that it is trying to move past. It is still, and it is constant.

I look back at the moving water of my life and I see friendships that have been gained and lost, I see hopes that have come true, and fears that have also. I see an immense amount of growth. I see different homes, and places, and people.

All of these things add to the swiftness of my river. They make the water go faster and make it hard to remember what it's life to be still. How can one be still when it is caught in a strong current?

In order to be still in the river, we must take a moment to grab ahold of the rocks. We can hold on to that one still piece of land, and rest for awhile, and we can know that it will always be there. It is understood that one must keep going through the current, but it is also understood that one must take a few moments to sit on the bank, or hold onto the rock.

Lately, in this river of life, I have tried to stop and learn what my rocks are. What are the things that have remained constant in my life? The things that have kept up with my adventures. The things that have remained still, even when I kept moving.

As I looked back, some things that had provided stillness for awhile had been loosened as the pace of the river quickened, and were no longer still. But, some things I was able to find had remained still, always.

One of these things is my brothers. Lately, I have been overwhelmed by the swiftness of everything. My brother soon to be married, my other brother soon to graduate. It seems as if the river is getting faster, and I am putting all of my emotional energy into stopping it. I started to get so upset that we kept growing up, and, with that, growing further and further away from each other. We have experienced things, met people, learned things, that we will never be able to fully articulate to each other.

Here is the wonderful thing, though. My brothers are there, they always have been, and they always will be. We have been through really hard times together, really happy times together, and impossibly funny times together. And, although we no longer get to experience each other's day-to-day beings, we no what makes each other tick. I know that with one brother I get to talk about J.D. Salinger and Animal Collective any day. And with the other, I can talk about N.T. Wright, and Ryan Adams. I am thankful for brothers that I want to spend time with, not just have to. And, in this time of growing and transitioning, I am able to understand that my brother are like rocks. They are a part of my life, and they always will be. They will cause the water to move aside, even if only for a moment. And I am so thankful for that.

So, let us not get caught in the current.
Let us remember to hold onto the rocks, to understand stillness, and to be grateful.

and let us understand that without the current, we wouldn't be able to fully appreciate the stillness.

[This day was swift, but it was beautiful.]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Profound benevolence.

This is the longest that I have ever gone without writing a blog. There is several times that I have sat down, thought of a clever title, and began to write. However, it never turned into anything. I could never hold on to a thought long enough to articulate it. And, to be quite honest, it was killing me. I hated that I couldn't write. I felt like I had so much to say, but something in me was blocking my ability to make my thoughts into words. These past two months have been up and down, here and there, and this and that. They have been hard, but they have been good. I have grown, and I continue to grow. I mean, life is a series of transitions and changes, isn't it?

In my desperate attempt to use words carefully and meaningfully (largley insprited by shakespeare, c.s lewis, and ) I find myself using a dictionary more than I ever have in my life. I love to look up commonly used words, and see what other words are used to describe the one that I have looked up. And, usually, it's pretty surprising and makes me think really hard about the words that I am using and how I am often using words incorrectly.

One of these words that has made me think the most is importance.
Now, when you look up the word "important" in the dictionary, you get: of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on your well-being. When I read this definition I thought about all of the things in my life that I am treating with importance that do not have a profound affect on my well-being. In fact, they don't really matter at all. Immediately after thinking this thought, my mind traveled to thinking about all of the things that are having a profound effect on my well-being that I am treating of no importance at all.

Not only did this realization help me sort out my priorities, but it also opened up my eyes to notice important things in my life that I had never realized before. Certain books, sunsets, good conversations, postcards, certain emails, letters, pictures, and sometimes, even just a really long drive.

And also, writing...

So, why, now, do I write? I write because it is something that I love to do. It helps me process things. It helps me learn things. And, through the grace of God, it helps other people learn things too. To be honest, I think that the main reason I stopped writing was because I lost all confidence in it. I didn't see any quality in the things I was saying, the the way I was saying them. And I gave in to the spinning vortex that is self-doubt. I stayed there for awhile. I am thankful for it this time, because while I was at the bottom of everything, I had honest people there that asked me honest questions. And as I answered them, I could feel myself standing up a little straighter, and smiling a little bigger. People were there to love me in a way that didn't look like, "Hey, everything will be fine... So, anyway..." There were there to love me in a way that looked like, "Kinsley, you are wrong." and "I want to come alongside you and help you." It was a beautiful love that I needed. Although this honest love was sometimes hard to swallow, it was always paired with kindness- not false "make you feel better" kindness... but genuine benevolence.

And kindness is important.

During these months of growth, the amount of kindness that has been thrown my way has been incredible. And the great thing about kindness, is it comes in all sorts of ways. Conversations of literature and of concerts. Free coffee. A few words here and there. A letter. Help. Dinner. Honesty. Questions. or Cheesecake.

So, recognize the things in your life that are important.
and put all the other things in different categories.
Be kind to the people around you. Buy them coffee, or smile at them.

and let us be people that profoundly effect each other's life.

[This is a picture that I took in a bookstore in Oxford that had a profound effect on me, indeed.]