Month: June 2015

What Father’s Day Means To Me

FullSizeRender (1)Father’s Day.

Growing up, the topic wasn’t discussed at our house. The day wasn’t acknowledged. As were most uncomfortable topics and elephants in the room at our house, they were swept under the proverbial rug, and we went about our day talking about the weather or what kind of deal we found while shopping. While on the surface, the reality of the day was diminished, what was going on in my heart was a different story.

I hated not having a dad. I hated having to explain it to people. I hated pretending that I was okay with it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to terms with the brokenness and grieved my father’s absence. And, while it doesn’t take a way the void that exists because I don’t know my dad at all, there are some very special people who chose to love and care and influence me from a fatherly place.

There’s Neal.  Neal got stuck with me when his daughter, Hope, and I became the best of friends and essentially inseparable when we were five. Neal would drive us around Minot, ND in his Eagle Scout, taking us for countless a pancake breakfast, buying us matching outfits from Kmart, all the while putting up with our endless giggling and games. Neal taught me about what it’s like to be present, to have a sense of adventure and that sometimes having no plan is the best plan at all.

And then, there’s the Dennis, the Roundhead. When his daughter, Marie, and I would spend summer weekends at the lake, he took the opportunity to teach me about the ins and outs of living through stories about “Roundheads,” and how they do or don’t do certain things. The best one was when I woke up one morning and foggy-headed made my way to the bathroom.  Forgive the details, but as I was sitting on the toilet, I looked to my right, to find a little instruction:  Only Roundheads look to the side when they pee. I walked out of the bathroom with the sign in my hand to find him laughing away just waiting for me to emerge.  I’ve learned about life and how to avoid living like a Roundhead from Dennis, but mainly he taught me not to take myself too seriously.

In high school, I had a teacher and DECA advisor who all of us affectionately referred to as “Reis.” Not only did Reis coach me through class as a student and through both local and state leadership roles as an officer, he rallied the entire state chapter of North Dakota DECA students to support me as I campaigned for a national position. We spent hours upon hours preparing. He formed my ability to grab hold of a microphone and compose my thoughts in front of an audience. He was my biggest fan. And when I lost the national election, he walked alongside of me in Denver, CO, with his arm around my shoulder, reminding me of all the things I had to be proud of even in the loss, and how we win some and lose some in life and sometimes the journey for us in simply in the trying.

There have been friends who have become more like brothers who have checked in, pranked, celebrated and supported me at various stages of life. There have been colleagues who have mentored and challenged me. There have been men who have taught me so many valuable lessons and shaped some part of who I am. For that I am grateful, for that I celebrate.

To those of you who chose, like Neal and Dennis and Reis, to have fathered and friend-ed and encouraged and loved those who are not your own, thank you.

And finally, if I may, on this special day, offer some words to you, men.

Gentleman. Fathers. Caballeros. We celebrate you today. We celebrate the unique role that you play in the world, in families, communities and the marketplace. We look to you for advice and wisdom, and we need you to be strong and supportive and brave.

Living with integrity and a willingness to uphold standards and discipline in your life means more than you realize as the eyes of so many are watching. Your influence is great. Men, fathers, sons, brothers, let me remind you that we, the children and women and younger generations are desperate for your leadership and love and presence. We’re counting on you and cheering you on!

Happy, happy Father’s Day!



When Prayers Feel More Like Pleas

The day started off on a frustrating note. I was overwhelmed, and frankly, just sick and tired of being sick and tired. By lunch time, I was ready for some me-time, some Jesus-time, and a good ol’ sweaty run.

People often ask me if I’ve ever heard the audible voice of God. Answer: I have not. But every once and a while, Jesus and I get really, real. And the way He responds takes my breath away and reminds me, yet again, of who’s in charge. Like He did on this particular run. I had enough, and I set out to tell the Big Guy all about it. I hadn’t even picked up my pace when I started in…

Me: Okay, God. I’ve had it. I’m tired. My body aches and I don’t know why. I don’t understand where you are or what any of this is about, but I feel alone, overwhelmed, frustrated and lost. I’m back to asking you to at least let me know that you’re here and that you see me and that you’re at least working on this.

For the next 30 minutes, He did the talking:

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Life is a journey that’s meant to be run, Kelli, He said. And just like any race, there are different challenges, different requirements and different approaches. I see you. And I know that you’re frustrated and overwhelmed, but remember that I will guide you through each phase. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open to the signs along the way.

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The signs along the way will guide you. Some will remind you how far you’ve come and others will warn you of what’s ahead. The signs will evoke different emotions in you and that’s just part of the journey. Watch for the signs, and most importantly, adhere to them. They will keep you on the path.

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The path will lead you to your destination. The path can be trusted and is meant to be traveled. However, the terrain will look different at various stages. Enjoy the times when the path leads under shaded trees and cool brooks. Sometimes you will see where the path is leading, and other times, you won’t know what’s around the next bend. Sometimes the path will be smooth  and other times, it will be like boulder jumping. Trust me and trust the path to lead you through each season.

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The seasons offer a promise: that nothing will last forever. What’s beautiful about the seasons is that at times, your life will reflect evidence of a prior season. Pinecones from last fall may lay next to new life bursting forth this spring. As you live through each season, it will become your story, your unfolding. And remember, I am making all things new. I specialize in creating beauty from ashes. New life from old. But as you tire and thirst from each season, remember to come to the well.


Drink from my fountain. When your well is dry, fill it up. Ask me and let me fill you up until you overflow. Don’t be scared to let me in to the dry, parched, cracked and brittle parts. I’ll meet you there. I’ll quench your thirst. Fill your buckets with the things that you love and the people that you cherish and let me in to all that, too. I’ll drench you with promise and hope and spectacular adventure.

I love you. The journey is yours, and I see your heart that is set about the trail. I’ll meet you here. Your job is to run, my job is pave the way. Come, follow me, one step at a time.