Amble

She didn’t seem to really care what the rest were doing. The rest who made shades of color become grey in comparison to her walk down Main. She walked. She sang. She laughed and shook out all the insensible thoughts plaguing her soul. Confidence in the unseen is all it takes to experience the promenade of a new life. Soft “hallelujahs” and “thank yous” escaped between her pink smiling lips without thought or reason. One would’ve seen such a vessel and never thought twice that her life had been nothing less of limitless.

Yet, her amble walk only came as a result of where she had come. She once sunk back in to a shadowed corner of her very own prison cell. Who would’ve thought such a beauty could’ve been in a place like that? But that was yesterday, not today. Today she sang praises glorifying her liberator’s name. And tomorrow she would do the same. Tomorrow she would show up at the prisons of others and whisper the secret of liberation. His love would set them free—as it had her! And like a stone rolling down a hill, gaining momentum as it goes, so would this girl’s testimony. Rolling and rolling…faster and faster…

“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink: thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” – John 4:10

– Kelsey Jo

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Untitled

I knew the package came from her and I knew what was inside.

I sat with furniture and suitcases tightly packed around me. The only space being my own little corner where I could easily shift in to gear and steer the wheel to my new home. I wanted to tear open the package. Pour out its contents on to my lap. Read the letter I knew was waiting for me inside. Discover the unpredictable treasures of what I knew would be articles of clothing or trinkets she found at some time of day, in some random place…All manifestations of her thoughts of me. Gifts speak truth to the love harbored by the brokenhearted for the brokenhearted. She loved me unconditionally and I had chosen to let her go.

The way the manila envelope felt in my hands sent my heart in to my throat and the heaviness of nausea and stillness consumed me for a brief moment. My blood felt cold and my heart seemed to be the only part of me still moving forward through time. I listened to it thud loudly against my chest and in an instant the package laid unopened on the floor. Without thought, my limbs did what they needed to bring the car to life.

I was behind the wheel driving the car, but someone else was breathing strength in to my limp body. I had become increasingly familiar with this fresh breathe of air over the past few weeks, each new breathe had grown larger than the one before. Once again, He came to my rescue. Right there in that moment. There He was.

He now steers my wheel.

And with that thought I pushed down on the gas. His peace warmed my blood, the nausea dissipated, and the car moved forward with a smile…

“Can You Endure the Silence?

Of walking out your faith before God, who does not always speak to your insecurities? Sometimes God says nothing at moments of tremendous insecurity. He does not talk just to make you feel good. He will speak to you at pivotal moments in your life.” – T.D. Jakes

– Kelsey Jo

First Friday

First Friday of my life.

First Friday to end this lie.

First Friday to let God take the prize.

First Friday without my strength.

First Friday

To know where I came.

First Friday of my life.

First Friday unafraid.

First Friday to surrender my disgrace.

First Friday without what I will.

First Friday

To walk while He tells.

First Friday of my life.

First Friday, no more pain.

First Friday to kiss His face.

First Friday without broken faith.

First Friday

I’ll take what He gave.

– Kelsey Jo

Hidden Dome: The Soul of Durham

Anticipation leaked under cool blue skies

And feet crunched fallen leaves.

Roads whined sweet tunes of time

And age freed leaning trees.

What to make

Of this place not known;

This hidden dome—

Where nature says, “Move slow.”

People passing people with each step

And some stop to chatter.

Arms linking arms to keep warm

And some break for laughter.

Who are they?

These strange strangers?

The souls of this painted picture?

Destination reached under darkened skies

And mouths kissed mugs and glasses.

Taxis blurred through city lights

And chips lifted drunken masses.

What to make

Of this place not known;

This hidden dome—

Where evening says, “Let go.”

People passing people with each step

And some stop to chatter.

Arms linking arms to keep warm

And some break for laughter.

Who are they?

These strange strangers?

The souls of this painted picture?

————————————————————————–

I wrote the poem above as an ode to Durham, England where I once had the privilege to live. The moments I spent venturing through the city shops or jogging along River Wear made me feel I belonged among the carefully placed paint strokes compromising the scenic landscape. Not only does Durham lend truth to the idea of a tight knit community, but the community itself afforded me with an opportunity to meet English locals and some of the most intelligent people from around the world (some being English locals).

During the day, students of all cultures and backgrounds would intermingle up and down the cobblestone streets. The level of anticipation they shared to take part in lectures, and countless hours spent in the library researching their various topics of study, infected the air and you would find yourself beginning to wonder what you’d been doing with your life! The pure beauty of lush green fields and colorful leaves reflected the glory of autumn in to the winding rivers. The worn stone buildings stood strong with rich ivy leaves curling around the window frames. The bridges carried its travelers from Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle to homes lining the curvy streets. Years and years of rain and wind blackened the bridges’ ledges and green moss peaked through their cement foundations—all to remind you of the first forward thinking minds who crossed the same rivers centuries ago; the first to commit to challenging the known and discovering the unknown.

During the weekend nights, locals grouped together in pubs, dance clubs, and fish & chip shops (to soak up the alcohol of course–which is why I say “chips lifted drunken masses”). Students huddled together on weekend nights to enjoy a couple drinks as well. However, most students were spotted on weekday evenings around Durham’s City Centre. Wednesdays, for example, were considered “sports night.” The institution’s sport’s teams crowded in buses to compete in Badminton, Cricket, Fencing, Lacrosse, Hockey, and other common sports played throughout the U.K. Win or lose, the teams headed straight from their buses, courts, and fields to buy a pint (or five).

Begging the question, “Who are they? These strange strangers? The souls of this painted picture?” represented my quest to connect with strangers of a new country at that time in my life. My curiosity toward the differences marked by the students’ and locals’ upbringings, and how these differences contributed to the painting of Durham, England, posed more weight on the idea of “soul” then it ever had before. “Soul” took on a double ant antra. Like myself, all beings I encountered in Durham contained souls. They were full of life! Yet, all the souls found throughout the city today and once long ago, gave the city its own unforgettable identity. The souls created the soul of Durham City! Despite the beauty of the scenery and the history of the city, without the people there would not be a heart to the body of such a glorious place. Nor a painter, to apply its paint strokes.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my adventures.

– Kelsey Jo

A Little Bit of Southern Love and Wisdom

Desires

Written by Thomas E. McKay:

A philosopher was accustomed to going out into the hills and woods to study the laws of nature. After spending a day in such study, he would return to his village at night, where he would gather his people around him and instruct them in the lessons which he had learned.

One day one of his friends came to him saying, “Will you please bring me a hawthorn twig when you come back, that I can study the lesson you gave last week from that tree?”

“Yes,” the philosopher said, “I will bring you the twig tonight.”

The second one of his friends that morning said, “Will you bring me a rose, that I may study concerning the lecture you gave last evening?”

“Yes, I’ll bring you the rose.”

And just before the philosopher went through the gate of the town that morning, a third friend said, “Will you bring me a lily that I might study the lesson of purity you gave last evening?”

The philosopher promised to bring the lily.

In the evening about sundown when the old philosopher returned to the village, the three friends were waiting at the gate to welcome him.

To the first he gave the hawthorn twig; to the second he gave the rose; and to the third he gave the lily.

Suddenly the man with the hawthorn twig cried, “Here is a dead leaf on the stem of my hawthorn twig!”

The second said, “Here is a thorn on the stem of my rose!”

And the third one cried, “Here is dirt on the roots of my lily!”

“Let me see,” said the philosopher.

From the first he took the hawthorn twig; from the second he took the rose; and from the third he took the lily.

He plucked the dead leaf from the hawthorn twig and gave it to the first friend. He plucked the thorn from the rose and gave it to the second. He took the dirt from the roots of the lily and put it into the hands of the third.

Holding the hawthorn twig, the rose, and the lily, he said: “Now, each of you has what attracted you first. You looked for the dead leaf, and you found it. You looked for the thorn; it was there. You found the dirt of the lily because I left it on the roots. You may keep what attracted you first. I will keep the hawthorn twig, the lily, and the rose, for the beauty I see in them.”

We find in this world just about what we are looking for. If we look for dirt and sordid things, we can find them; or if we look for mistakes in others we can find them also.

If we look for the good and the beautiful, the good and the beautiful will return to us.

–Excerpt from Albert L. Zobell, Jr.’s compilation, “Storyteller’s Scrapbook”

Black Lives Matter

Some call me white girl;

Light skinned; mulatto.

Others aren’t so nice–they tell me,

“I’m wanna be black,

But don’t talk, don’t act.”

When I was younger,

My defense would go:

“My skin’s light, but my daddy’s black.

My brother is black.

My grandpa is too.

My knees get ashy.

My hair gets frizzy.

Behind me, you’ll find a booty.

And my black daddy

Gots baby mommies.”

Why is it these things

Defend my black pride?

Who gets to define true black life?

Black culture is real;

Exclusive; not white.

My mixed brother once

Told our white mommy,

“You aren’t my mom because you’re white.

I am full black so

How can I be white?”

Why did my brother

Feel white made him lack?

Was it because he’s called white boy;

Light skinned; not full black?

Shame–led his attack?

Or was it because

Of all the cracked jokes

Implying we act certain ways

If we wish to be

Part of the black race?

We all see the hurt,

So let’s break all fear

And recognize that skin

Shouldn’t define life

Or level of pride.

Black lives matter!

Indeed, they do.

So why does our

Black life only matter,

When we’re as black as you?

– Kelsey Jo

Dropping Desks: From West to East Coast

Ever since I moved to New York City regular phone calls to my parents are something I look forward to. Often times we find ourselves scanning through the flood of experiences and happenings that make up our everyday lives. During a recent phone call with my dad, he shared a light hearted comment made by a friend of his regarding New York City and its customs. The comment was this, “New York will beat you down and then drop a desk on you.”

This statement got me thinking. February will mark the six month I will have called New York City (Brooklyn to be exact) home. I thought of the transition from west coast to east coast, the expenses of living in the big apple, and everything else that has come along with my transition. I asked myself, “Has New York beat me down and dropped a desk on me?” Well the answer came immediately…heck yeah it has. But as I started listing off the evidence of this claim I soon made a beautiful discovery. Being beat down and having a desk dropped on you can be a blessing in disguise, and for me that’s exactly what it was.

The Beat Down

Traffic lights, one way streets, street sweeping, parking meters, fire hydrants, parallel parking, people, more people–oh and did I say PEOPLE? Whenever you watch movies or shows based in NYC you see loads of people walking the streets, riding the subway, and out and about. I guess I thought because of how many people commute, owning two cars in a city like this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. WRONG. My first beat down came with the unprecedented shower of orange tickets waiting happily under my windshield wipers.

Parking a car in New York City = Nightmare

The list of restrictions for parking went on and on: Metered Parking here, No Parking there (only during certain times of the day of course), no parking within a fifteen feet radius of a fire hydrant (FIRE HYDRANTS ARE EVERYWHERE), Tow Away Zone, and my personal favorite, No Standing Anytime–the worst sign invented. It basically is saying your car is a person and cannot “stand” anytime where this sign is present. Oh you didn’t know cars could stand? Well prepare to be mind blown because they can. Yeah let’s just say I paid roughly $500 in parking tickets within my first month of living here. Matter of fact, I recall one day in particular being ticketed $115 twice in one day (like I said before, FIRE HYDRANTS ARE EVERYWHERE).

The Desk Drop

The beat down was a drop in the bucket compared to the desk drop. Job complications resulted in a delay of pay upon my move to the concrete jungle. My living expenses had tripled from that of my small town in Utah, to that of Brooklyn, New York–a city housing a large portion of the world’s wealthiest people.

Needless to say, paying for day to day living expenses proved challenging. Money was tighter than ever before and food turned into a sore topic. Oatmeal soon became my best friend. If I wanted a snack, I ate oatmeal. When dinner time rolled around, I ate oatmeal. Let’s just say my stomach became well acquainted with a warm bowl of mushy oats. (Not to complain, I love oatmeal still to this day!)

Out of options, I felt forced to seek assistance from welfare services for food.

As I helped the workers load my trunk with food I noticed a large bag over-flowing with fruit. I love fruit, but there is too much here. It will go bad. Someone else could eat this–could need this. I thought to myself. I waved down the lady checking off the list of items being carried to the car. I explained to her my predicament with taking so much fruit and asked her to take some back. She refused to do so and with a smirk replied in a thick New York accent, “If it’s on the list, you take it.”

I don’t know what it was about this moment. Maybe it was watching the food get loaded into the car–food I did not pay for, did not earn. Maybe it was the wave of home sickness which washed over me after hearing her speak. Maybe it was just one of those  emotionally imbalanced days. Either way, whatever it was, it unhinged me and as soon as I closed my car door tears flooded down my cheeks. I sobbed and sniveled the whole way home. I hated New York.

The Blessing in Disguise

I will admit, after all this there were moments I questioned the soundness in my decision to move to New York City. God inspired me to move here, but the chain of events which followed my submission to His will seemed incoherent to the loving, gracious nature I believed Him to possess. Why would He send me here if He knew all this would happen? It just didn’t make sense. In some ways, I felt cheated.

The blessing in disguise started with the beat down–a crucial component. The comment my dad’s friend made about New York City said the individual would first be beaten down and then a desk would be dropped on them. Hence, the desk being dropped wouldn’t have been nearly as traumatic without the beat down. The beat down had to happen. I could see how at first glance this doesn’t seem like a blessing in disguise, but that leads me to my next point.

Often times in my life I will experience heartache and then soon after experience something far worse. This can be likened to the desk being dropped. Why does this happen? IF GOD IS REAL, why would he allow for us–metaphorically speaking–to be beaten down and then for a desk to be dropped on our pained, bruised bodies shortly thereafter? WHY? The answer…Familiarity breeds complacency, complacency hinders growth, growth brings us closer to God, and a closeness to God brings us joy. God is all good. God is love. AND HE DOESN’T PUT US THROUGH PAIN.

The attack of the devil in this world is what causes us to suffer, and our lineage that goes all the way back to the natural man of Adam & Eve. However, Christ also dwells inside each of our spirits. God doesn’t give us pain, but He pulls us closer to Him amidst our suffering through the grace and mercy of what Jesus Christ suffered for you and me.

Stepping outside familiarity shows God we want to learn. Following His will shows Him we want Him to be the teacher. If you want God to be your teacher, move and push (Pray Until Something Happens). When you move and push, you will find the desire to know Him grow within you. This desire is not placed their on your own merit, but it is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ working in you. THIS is what leads to God. And God will show us how to grow.

 “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” – Psalms 82:6

My tribulations in New York City forced me to grow. I prayed without ceasing. I found the patience to endure. I counted my blessings. I loved fiercely. I focused more on those around me, less on myself. I smiled when I wanted to cry. New York’s beat down and dropped desk brought me closer to God and to my deepest, truest self–found only in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. I learned to be happy without all the extra “stuff” or without things going just the way I wanted. I learned to love Jesus and see Him as the source for my joy.

May God bless you–whoever you are.

With love,

Kelsey With Some Jo

P.S. I ended up eating all the fruit given from the welfare services. It’s okay to accept help from people sometimes. It takes someone with courage to do so! Don’t let shame or self-pity keep you from allowing others to serve you. They are furthering their relationship with God by so doing. ❤