Tuesday, August 5, 2014

testimony + my first link-up!

Now may not be the time to invest in relationships with other bloggers, but while catching up on my dear friend Jenna's blog [dearest love], I discovered she and her community are going to post their testimonies tomorrow and everyone can link to them.  I've been wanting to write my story here for awhile, so I know this is my opportunity.

Since it's my first link-up post, I'm guessing I'll get some technical things wrong, but oh well.

God gets everything right.


Dearest Love


"O victory in Jesus, my savior forever.  He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.  He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him.  He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood."

My story isn't very short, but here goes.  

PS: I consider my testimony to be not only where my walk began but where it has brought me up until now.  My actual beginning is simple, but the path since has been dramatic, emotional, and real.  Doesn't everyone love a good story?  Additionally, my biggest victory in Jesus came after I was already His.

Once upon a time, in California, I was born.  My parents considered themselves Christians, although at the time they were not active in the church, and so upon the appropriate age for Methodists I was baptized.  Woot woot!  My parents publicly proclaimed that they would raise me in the way that God designed and love me like He does.  Even if they didn't say this aloud or publicly, I know they would have, and this is the true start to the beginning of my walk with Christ.  (Besides Psalm 139:13.)  

Fast forward to January 1992 and my parents move me and my brand-new baby sister to a suburb of Atlanta.  In June they bought the house we all called home for 18 more years... right in the Bible belt.

My sister was also baptized in a Methodist church in Georgia, and the pastor of that church became close to my parents for many years.  He planted the seeds in them to revisit their Christianity.  By their leadership, we attended that church for many years, until my parents began bringing us to a new church in town - Hope Church.  I was in fourth grade when we started attending.  

I couldn't wait to join Youth Group and be friends with the coolest members of the church.  Whether I attended youth because I wanted to hang out with the other kids or not, I still paid attention to the lessons and messages.  The seeds still took hold.

On August 2, 2002 (OMG I just realized that was this past Saturday!), on a church retreat, I "nailed down" my Salvation with the youth pastor's wife.  Though I knew logically that somewhere along the way, my childhood self had prayed for forgiveness, my teenaged self was not so committed.  But that night, the commitment was realized.  My heart was sealed.  My name was inked into God's book.  But the journey was only beginning.

Fast forward to August 2007, and I'm leaving for LSU, my dream school, where I honestly did not know what God had in store for me except that He had obviously cleared my path to attend.  (Seriously, sometimes things fall into place so easily you can't help but wonder what He's up to.)  I missed my family, but I still played my clarinet until my fingers almost fell off and studied my little heart out.  I was the exact opposite of a stereotypical college freshman, back in my dorm by 9:00 every night, attending only one party that fall, declaring that I would not let more than a sip of alcohol grace my lips before I was 21 years old.  I was attending worship services and small group meetings at the Wesley Foundation, which is the United Methodist Church's nationwide campus ministry, but I was leaving them when they were over.  I forgot my lack of restrictions resulting from a lack of parents.  This probably added to my loneliness, considering all the activities college kids do late at night (alcohol excluded! I'm honestly thinking of late-night game nights, deep conversations, and trips for ice cream or beignets).  The loneliness almost stole me away from LSU.

Looking back, I never left His grasp, no matter how far away I might have felt.  But what was to come in that spring would define the rest of my life.

Well, I found a friend at the Wesley.  His name was James*.  James is still very popular among the other Wesley attendees.  He's a huge goofball, a great leader, has a huge heart for Christ and His Kingdom, loves youths like no one I've ever met, and is an amazing worship leader.  He was incredibly passionate, about everything that crossed his path: running marathons, being a worship leader, playing soccer, LSU football and baseball, his friends and family, his studies... and me. 

We began really dating that Fourth of July.  We dated for three years and six days.  In that time, he swept me off my feet, promised that I was better than anyone else, and I do believe he loved me.  But he was passionate, remember?  That passion was towards me being no any other Kelli than the one I was when we started dating.  For my Christian and natural/human/I'm-in-college growth, I was punished.  (For the record, not physically or sexually, ever.)  Emotionally, he ripped me up.  Mentally, he made me lose myself.  I, and especially my heart, went into hiding.  There would be times he would be yelling at me, tearing me up, punishing me for something, and I couldn't even cry.  I couldn't feel the pain he was causing me enough to cry.  How much chronic pain does it take before you're lost to numbness?  Many times, the thought lurked in the back of my mind that God couldn't want a heart so shredded as mine.  I still went to Him, but I was no longer feeling His nearness.  But all my thoughts and energies were directed towards making James happy, and being whoever it was I thought he wanted me to be.  "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."  No wonder the closeness had diminished. 

I always prayed.  I begged Him for James to change, for me to change, for us to make it.  I can be better, I promised.  I can be the person James wants me to be, I swore, just don't let us break up.  I don't think I could bear that pain.

Well let me say this:  Praise God for unanswered prayers, and that He had already bore all my humanness on the Cross.

Three years and six days later, my world was shattered when James caught me in a "lie" [read: misunderstanding] about getting my nose pierced.  That tiny hole in my face was the tipping point, the straw that broke the camel's back.  At that time we were long-distance, and he called me and ended it as emotionless as one orders their sandwich at Subway when they're not really that hungry anyway.  

I was broken, ripped in half.  All the compromises I'd made in the Kelli that God had created, all the pinches and pulls and rips and busted seams of my being were revealed, open, ragged, and empty.  And oh, they hurt so badly.  Where was I?  Who was I?  I don't even know, but God did, and God does, and I can't sing His praises enough for that.

In the three years since that date, I wrestled with Him about who I actually am.  I fought with His truths about my beauty/self-worth/amazingness that He built into my DNA until I couldn't fight or could accept them.  Some of these things I wrestled with longer than others.  The Great Physician placed His stitches on my open wounds and the pinkness of healed skin arose and perfected me.  I have rediscovered my strength.  It's not perfect, but I like it that way.  God tests the weaker parts to make them stronger.  It's a painful growth but it's beautiful growth, because it's God's.  I am God's.  He brought me victory over the worst I have ever known, and I truly would not be here, or who I am now, without my God.

Amen, and amen again.

*Name has been changed.

EPILOGUE
I started nursing school in 2012.  I dated a couple of transitional guys, but fell hard and fast for an incredible man in November 2013.  He supports me, makes my life better, prays for us and for me, and reminds me what humility, calm, and patience looks like on a daily basis.  (Especially when my firecracker anxiety makes me get upset about stupid things.)  He may be more excited for me to become an RN next year than I am!  I wouldn't have known the beauty of the love he shows me without this experience.  I also want to mention my parents, who have stood by me every ugly day since we started dating but let it remain my decision, and helped me be better every time I reached out for them.  And to my sister, who claims she "doesn't know how to comfort people when they cry," but whose tight grasp lifted me up off the floor when I hung up the phone with James and brought me back to real life.  I love you all.  <3

Sunday, June 8, 2014

{sunday thanks}

what is up!

Well today is a gorgeous day here in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  I hope it has been gorgeous where you are, too!  It was a great day: breakfast with Taylor, late lunch with my parents and week 2 of the Bible study my mom and I are doing together, the pups I'm house-sitting have been good, my first day working at a hospital is tomorrow, I finished the book I'm reading... So yeah.  Good day.

I know for sure that I want {Sunday thanks} posts to be a continual, regular thing here on peaches & magnolias.  So here goes!

To Krista --  Thank you for driving all the way to the Quarter to hang out with me on Thursday!  I have really enjoyed your friendship these last several months and I am looking forward to only becoming better friends from here on out.  You are so lovely, so easy to talk to, such a wonderful friend!

To my EC Life Planner --  My 2013-2014 friend, your time as my lifeline is soon over.  But fear not, as I am not one to throw such gorgeous works of art away.  You will be stored away to where I can look over the events, due dates, and life things that you helped me remember to attend from time to time, fondly, as one of the greater years of my life.  And I will hold onto you until my future husband tells me it's been 20 years and makes me throw you away.  Sorry your demise will be so sad.  But I promise to treasure you until then.

To Uncle Jeff -- Thank you for trusting your nephew's girlfriend with your gorgeous home, own two dogs, and best friend's dog (and for allowing the bar to be open for me).  Your home is lovely, and I can honestly say I will miss my time in the Quarter.  Please remember me for next time you go out of town!

To Ochsner -- Thank you for hiring me!  I am definitely dreading 12-hour shifts, since I love my naps, snacks, and otherwise regular meal times, but I am so looking forward for the opportunity to do nurse things in a hospital!  I really believe this experience will make me a better RN (one day).

To greasy cheeseburgers, perfectly-cooked grits, cookies n cream ice cream, and Royals -- oh, you.  Making life more delicious.  NOLA life is good.

Hope you have a delightfully restful Sunday and a glorious second week of June.  Enjoy these long days while they last!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

an important anniversary

hi my friends

As I'm sure you know, today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, an important day in history because it turned the tide of World War II.  Even though many lives were lost, it was the battle that allowed the Allied forces to diminish Germany and the Axis forces and eventually end the war.

After visiting the World War II museum here in New Orleans this spring, I realized just how intense that day was.  General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the one who made the call that June 6 would be the day for the invasion, and he called it at the dramatic eleventh hour.  (The museum chronicles the intense deliberation he underwent to decide when the invasion would occur.)

Over 9,000 lives were lost on D-Day.  But over 100,000 other Allied troops were able to continue their attack in Europe that wore down the Axis forces and led to Germany's surrender.

My grandfather, Martin B. Richard, was in "D-Day + 3," and I am thankful he was one of the many who was able to fight on my behalf.

Martin B. Richard, Second Armored Division

I am honored for the efforts and sacrifices these troops made on my behalf 70 years ago today, 44 years before I was born.  How different my life could have been without this major offensive move by the Allies.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13


All information taken from the official D-Day website by the United States Army.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

hi! + new name

sweet readers!

I am so happy to be back!

It was a long and crazy semester y'all!  But by the grace of God I'm on the other side of it with 3 A's, 2 B's, and a C.

So, I'm officially a Senior I, which means fall is the first semester of my SENIOR YEAR!  My second senior year, but whatever.  I am very anxious to tackle my most difficult intense set of courses of the entire program - critical care.  However, I am looking forward to it!  I have a lot of faith in God, in my study habits, and in this course faculty.  But mostly God.

But first, a new blog name and summertime!

My new blog name - peaches & magnolias - reflects my background and everything about who I am.  I'm really excited about this!

Peaches, of course, are the most obvious representation of Georgia, the state I called my full-time home for 15 years and my long-distance home for 3 more.  I love Georgia.  I love the mountains, the coastline, the fall line, the cities.  I love everything that Georgia did to create the setting of my childhood and adolescence.  Everything:

  • the high schools where I performed with the East Paulding marching band (that had backgrounds of beautiful mountains)
  • my home church, Hope Church, and the fact that I literally grew up with it as it grew
  • the many locations that I auditioned or performed in honor band
  • the places that I helped through my church's Hands of Hope
  • the Silver Comet Trail
  • Dallas (Paulding County), Marietta, Acworth, Atlanta, and Savannah
  • our neighborhood pool
  • my elementary, middle, and high schools
  • local parks
  • the history and Southern charm
  • among many, many others
Magnolias represent both my family heritage and my life in young adulthood.  I came to LSU when I graduated from high school, spent an additional year in Baton Rouge, and now I'm  in New Orleans working on nursing school.  I've only been living here for 7 years so I don't have the same amount of time to compare to Georgia.  But I love it.  Additionally, with my last name as Richard (that's pronounced "Ree-shard"), I have the Cajun heritage.  It's a wonderful place.  

I hope you like the new name!  I think this one will stick.

Come back soon!  Now that it's summer and I'm only working, expect lots of posts!  Hopefully even a routine can be set up so by the time fall gets here, I can keep posting on a regular schedule! 

Please tell me something about yourself!  I'd love to get to know you!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

{sunday thanks}

{via}

such week.

much days.

wow.



hello my friends.

Don't you just love doge?  Those eyes... those cute crossed paws!  We love it when Charlie (my mom's corgi) is suspicious.  Ah!  Such cute.  ;-)

The past few weeks have been good ones, pretty chill for nursing school.  Definitely productive.  I'm not looking forward to the next couple of weeks because T is going on a long business trip and I have a bunch of tests and projects coming up, plus clinical paperwork, so it's going to be interesting.  And by interesting I mean busy.  And by busy I mean stressful.  I'm so not ready for tomorrow.

However, I will still give thanks.


[thank you]

Dear allegra, thank you for being a great comrade versus pollen.  Pollen and I don't agree but you help mediate the war.  Thanks for that.

Dear S, thank you for all your kind and encouraging words on Friday night.  I am so thankful that I've met you through dating T.  I hope we are friends for a very long time!  I'm so grateful for knowing you and for our friendship.

Dear Hyatt Regency, thank you for being so beautiful and such a fun place to stay for the weekend while T and I witnessed two friends' blessed union {even though I could barely handle the tenth floor, much less the twenty-seventh).  And to City Park/the Botanical Gardens/the Court of the Two Sisters and New Orleans, y'all were amazing hosts, too.  The absolute perfect settings for all the fun we had over the last couple of days.

Dear MayBooks, thank you for being the best solution to my journal needs.  I love how helpful you are with my studies, prayer life, and list/organizing needs.  And oh!  The monograms!  How I love!

Dear macaroni & cheese, why are you always so delicious?  More importantly, why am I questioning it?  Thanks for being consistently wonderful and a staple in my life (and for being such a good pair to dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets for those days that I just don't care).


grace + peace
xoxo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

from this valley

{via}


Oh, the desert dreams of a river
that will run down to the sea
like my heart longs for an ocean
to wash down over me

Oh, won't you take me from this valley
to that mountain high above? 
I will pray, pray, pray 
until I see your smiling face 
I will pray, pray, pray 
to the one I love

Oh, the outcast dreams of acceptance
just to find pure love's embrace
like an orphan longs for his mother
May you hold me in your grace


Won't you take me from this valley
to that mountain high above? 
I will pray, pray, pray 
until I see your smiling face
I will pray, pray, pray
to the one I love

Oh, the caged bird dreams of a strong wind 
that will flow 'neath her wings 
Like a voice longs for a melody, 
oh, Jesus carry me


Won't you take me from this valley
to that mountain high above? 
I will pray, pray, pray 
until I see your smiling face 
I will pray, pray, pray 
to the one I love

I will pray, pray, pray 
until I see your smiling face 
I will pray, pray, pray 
to the one I love



Thank you, The Civil Wars, for a beautiful song with an amazing message.  Very thankful this song came on my shuffle while I was getting ready this morning.

Even if I'm in a valley, God will carry me to the mountain.

Love You.

xoxo

Thursday, March 13, 2014

joy

[via pinterest]
I just got back from an interview with a major area hospital for a summer nurse tech position, and y'all, I just might be flying.

How great our God is.  How great and glorious is He.

I stressed and worried so much about whether or not nursing was the career for me, and He's proven to me again and again that it is.

He has totally blessed this path.

All the heartaches and struggles... they're all worth it.  I'm becoming who I was created to be.

my heart is so full of joy and love and light.

passing it on to you...

xoxo

Sunday, March 9, 2014

{sunday thanks}

[[new thing]]

I am so full of thanks for kazillions of little things in my life that I must be more overtly grateful for.

so on Sundays I'm going to post a {sunday thanks} with little thank you notes to random things that have changed me or helped me renew myself or helped me be a better Kelli over the week.

ps.  you're pretty cool for stopping by, I like that about you.


{thank you}

[personal]
Dear orchid plant in my living room, you brighten every long hour of studying with your reminder that life exists even in the most concrete of jungles.  And you're a really pretty color.  Thank you for being a note of happy in my every day life.

[personal]

Dear Keurig creators, you guys rock my socks off and I love having coffee with too much sugar in it every day because of you.  Thank you.

[personal]
Dear T, thank you for being there for me when my heart is heavy and I feel like I just can't keep going. You are the best cheerleader, ever.  And thank you for all of your made-to-order Kelli-sized hugs that never run out of stock: even though my timing can sometimes mean the sacrifice of delicious pancakes or hot coffee.  And thank you for writing down some of the things you said on my pink post-its so I can look at them whenever I need a boost.  I have already done that like 4 times today.  

[via instagram; personal photo]
Dear A Cup of Jo, thank you for posting that egg sandwich recipe over two years ago, which I finally got an opportunity to try today.  I burned my lip on the hot cheese but don't even care.  It was so delicious.

[personal]
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for listening to my woes every time I bring them to You, and for comforting me, and for relieving my anxiety every time I ask, and for being the strength and wisdom I'm not so that I can come to you in order to succeed.  And thank you for all the people in my life that mean so much to me every single day- the people that I talk to constantly and those I haven't really spoken to in years.  I know You bring them in and out of my life for reasons, and I'm grateful for everyone who has ever left an impression on me.  Thank you so much.

have a blessed Sunday, y'all.

xoxo

Monday, February 17, 2014

beach countdown

[via]
I mean, come on, is that not gorgeous?

That is the lovely Orange Beach, Florida, where I am headed in 97 days, with about 10 friends of mine from church.

Spring semester, go by quickly!

xoxo