love out loud

“Love is that condition in the human spirit so profound that it empowers us to develop courage; to trust that courage and build bridges with it; to trust those bridges and cross over them so we can attempt to reach each other.”

– Maya Angelou

Violence is nothing new. However, in recent weeks, there have been mass shootings, terrorist attacks, bombings, and hate-filled words said both in defense and in favor of such events. Yesterday, a woman was jeered at and kicked out of a political event because she chose to be brave. She courageously stood up and quietly showed others what it means to be the minority this politician wishes to target and oppress. These recent events have the power to scare me so much when I deeply think about them that I want to curl into a ball and cry. I’m terrified for my fellow human beings.

These events have caused me to think and think and think… and think again. Our world is a scary place right now. Perhaps it’s always been a scary place, but I think I’ve been better about ignoring it until recently. It didn’t happen overnight to get scary. It’s been under the surface, it’s been right in our faces and ignored, stuffed down, and each attack has been forgotten as quickly as it happened.

My wish for the world is to cast out hate. The only way that hate may be cast out is to love. Loving boldly, proudly, fearlessly. Love out loud. Love thy neighbor. Love thy [homeless, addicted, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, heterosexual, pansexual, motherly, fatherly, barren, adopted, Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Satanist, Wiccan, Buddhist, immigrant, refugee, feminist, bigoted, judgmental, oppressed, privileged, white, black, native, male, female] neighbor.

Stop spreading hate and love in a world that can’t afford anymore of it. We are capable of such miracles of love. Start giving love and mercy and forgiveness, and stop hurting others because you are hurting yourself. Sharing love is so easy. Spreading hate requires so much effort and it’s exhausting. Give yourself a break and go love somebody new.

Give a homeless person some gloves and a sandwich. Go volunteer somewhere. Wave or smile at someone on the street. Stand up for someone who is being bullied or oppressed. Tell a joke. Give money to a charity. Play board games with friends and have fun. Love your neighbors, near and far. Give a compliment. Make a new friend.

Don’t have an ugly heart. Do something real and full of love, you beautiful souls.

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” – Saint Augustine

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a forest of fitness

This morning, I was lucky enough to get out of bed. Not everyone can be in such anticipation to get up. Sure, I had ten different things to do before I left the house, but my number one in my brain was the bike ride I was about to take to work.

My ride is 8.6 miles one way. It took me about an hour and 15 minutes, and I soaked my shirt in sweat.

Map reference if you would like to check it out: https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Luther+Seminary,+2481+Como+Ave,+St+Paul,+MN+55108/1280+Arcade+St,+St+Paul,+MN+55106/@44.9828906,-93.2051671,12z/data=!4m15!4m14!1m5!1m1!1s0x52b32c8c452213e7:0xe3c58c8eb96c0258!2m2!1d-93.196773!2d44.985888!1m5!1m1!1s0x52b2d51f2b0c7663:0x7981869f157b7805!2m2!1d-93.0651729!2d44.9798772!3e1!5i1

Here’s where I get to brag. My bike ride is through a forest, a twisty and winding trail that runs next to a beautiful lake, through this ridiculously awesome tunnel (the entirely time I said to myself, “Come at me, Dementors.”), and a beautiful view of the city of St. Paul once I get to the top of one of the hills.

I am so lucky that I live here. I get to bike, feel like I’m doing something tough on my body but healthy, and I commute to work all at the same time.

Bike commute one: complete. I feel so happy and good. Things are looking up, friends.

Fatness to Fitness

Normally, I am the last person to post about weight loss, diets, exercise routines, or anything involving health and fitness, really. I don’t think it really helps, but maybe I’m wrong. I mean, here I am writing a blog post about it. Silly Keyla.

Prologue to this ‘health and fitness’ post:

I have never really been the ‘fat girl’ ever. I’ve always been a little bigger at my waist than everyone else, was always a little slower during running drills than my team mates, but I was the strongest, or the tallest, or the most badass, so I never thought it was an issue. I always got pretty decent times on the Mile Run in high school, even though I hated it, and I was always fit enough to not the last one done with conditioning, but I was often second-to-last. I never threw up or anything, but I was the first to show I was sweating. I was healthy ENOUGH, but I wasn’t healthy.

Here’s where this post gets hard. I’m spilling details that girls don’t normally talk about. Here it goes. I started college at around 180 lbs. For a girl at 5’8″ I looked great, and I was solid muscle. Then the Freshman Fifteen came. Then the Sophomore Twenty. At the beginning of my Junior Year, I weighed almost 215. Luckily, I lost the twenty when I lived abroad in Denmark and biked every day, ate healthier food, and lived a better lifestyle. When I began Seminary, I was 195 lbs. I weighed myself at the beginning of my journey this year, and I was at 211. Instead of a healthy 180, I feel rumbly, and unhappy about my body. My weight gain is in different places this time rather than college where it was all tummy. Now, it’s arms, legs, and tummy. I don’t look bad, honestly. My pants are tight and my shirts look weird. But I know for a fact that I am beautiful inside and out. This isn’t a diet; I am set to take back my lifestyle, and make changes that will last for good. This ‘heavy-set hourglass’ is going to be even better.

So, I started full-time at the job I was part-time at for the last two years. My boss is on sabbatical, and I get to take his place while he’s gone. (How cool is that, by the way?!) So, I decided awhile back I wasn’t going to let myself be a “go to work every day and get fat because I sit at a desk” kind of person for the summer. Instead, I decided that twice a week, I would make the journey to the church, a normally 20-30 minute car drive, by bike. BICYCLE.

Now, I’ve been thinking about getting back into biking since the day I left Denmark 2 1/2 years ago. Des Moines, IA is not really that bike-friendly, even though I have friends who bike every day. There’s just something about biking down East 14th in Rush Hour that scares the hell out of me. However, I moved for grad school to Minnesota in August 2013, and the Twin Cities, Minneapolis in particular, are among the top bike-friendly cities in the USA.

For proof, look here:  http://experience.usatoday.com/weekend/story/my-weekend-experience/2014/07/01/10-best-cities-for-biking/11894665/

…and here: http://www.bicycling.com/rides/adventure-guide/bicyclings-top-50

Since I have now lived in the Twin Cities for two years, I am WAY overdue to get on board with this. So, this year in April or so, I used  part of my student loan refund check (I know I’m not supposed to, but hey) and bought myself a cute little Schwinn bike, and Robins Egg Blue helmet to go with it’s cuteness.

Since then, I have been building up my biking endurance and my strength to be able to make my work commute across St. Paul happen. I ride to the bar on Fridays when the softball team goes to have drinks and burgers; I biked with my fiance just a few weeks ago. I have even started a diet plan with BeachBody to ensure that I am getting what nutrients and helpful pointers that I need to push my body. On June 8th, I began the 21 day challenge. I have slipped up, had a cheat meal or two, and missed days of workouts. One day just last week I went way too hard and was sore for the next two days. I won’t get on the scale until I feel my pants fitting looser, I won’t measure myself until I know that inches are gone, and I will continue to push myself until I am at a healthy weight and feel really good about my body. I don’t want to be model thin. I would look weird. This Iowa corn-fed girl isn’t meant to be a stick.

Goal: Size 10 or 12 pants, as long as I am comfortable (I wore a 12 even in high school), and let’s be honest, women’s sizes are stupid so I could range from 8-14 and it’s all the same.

Shirt: Medium for universal fit. I have broad shoulders and a big bust, so medium is just fine with me! Ladies size will be a large because women are not shaped the same.

Furthermore, this girl has to look good in a wedding dress in just over a year, so please encourage me, scold me if I’m pigging out, and if you are a fitness person, don’t hesitate to talk to me, because I’m a n00b and I don’t know anything about what I’m doing, other than the basics that I know about anatomy and stuff from first aid and being a doctors kid my whole life.

Thanks for listening to me drone on about this. My Beachbody coach encourages us to talk about all this so that we have a strong network and support group for us along the way.

“Earth” without “Art” would just be “Eh.”

I began painting as a way of stress relief. I love to do it, and I don’t think I am particularly great, but I have gotten enough feedback about my artwork on Facebook that I want to show it to the world.

I am now taking on commission pieces, by request. I have posted my ‘style’ of artwork (I didn’t know I had a style really), but my disclaimer for all commissioned pieces is: it is amateur work, almost always acrylic paint, traditionally on canvas. I have posted my one non-acrylic other piece I did using crayola crayons and a hair dryer.

Thanks so much for your continued support. I really appreciate it. Your love is what keeps me going, because I just do this stuff for fun, and you have pushed me to go further. Thank you. ❤

 

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love birds

 

Birds with trees

 

Kim Commission piece

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Chapel Love

 

 

 

Bluegrass Chapel

It’s amazing how much love I get from others when I sing or play in chapel. Today, and always, I am overwhelmed at the generous amounts of love from those at Luther Seminary. I especially feel that love this week, my friends.

We are knee deep in our January Intensive classes, and there are tons and tons of Distance Learning students on campus from all over the country and beyond. I am overwhelmed by the support and love they have for me, for the staff and faculty, and for each other. During the school year, I play and sing for chapel, and love every minute of it. I feel closest to God when I am singing or playing my heart out to the Lord, whether in the pew, or up front leading.

This week, I had the privilege of being asked to cantor for chapel Monday, and was amazed at the amount of compliments I got after the service. One of them (someone I don’t even know) said, “She sounds like an angel!” to one of my friends, and she was kind enough to share that with me. This morning on the way to class, my friend from New York told me, “I could listen to you sing all day.” I could play and sing for God all day. It’s not a chore, it’s not hard for me to get into music that makes me closer to the God who gave me the gift of music. I love every minute of praising using music.

Today, I played bass and sang alongside a group of talented people, playing some amazing bluegrass style hymns, praying, and praising. The picture at the beginning of this post is the group that I got to play with, and they are so very talented. Short moment of shameless advertisement for our guitarist in that picture, Patrick (look him up and like him on Facebook; he’s such a great musician, songwriter, and person): https://www.facebook.com/patrickjenkinsmusic?fref=ts

The amount of compliments after today’s service was equally overwhelming. One man today at the lunch table, “I wouldn’t be able to have a voice like yours, because I would have such an ego, and no one would like me. Your humility for the gift you have astounds me.” The joy I am able to bring to others through music makes me so happy. Today in my afternoon class, my teacher, who I didn’t even know knew I existed, called on me in class to answer a question, and said, “Nice cello playing today, or was that a bass?” So I answered, “It’s a bass, and thank you,” and I took a breath to answer the question, but the whole class started complimenting me, and I was so embarrassed and nervous about all the compliments that I hid my face in my hands. Then, the whole class clapped. They all gave me a round of applause. How amazing it felt to have such support for me to just get up there and jam out for Jesus.

This joy of others has been expressed to me so many times, I don’t know how to say thank you, so what better way than letting people know it means the world to me that you are so loving and supportive than a blog post, right?

So, thank you. Everyone who has supported me in my life, especially my life recently in the church, about my singing and playing. You are so appreciated by me. As a nerdy, glasses-wearing, smart, weird, young, and uncomfortable human being, I promise that my embarrassed face and awkwardly muttered, “Thank you,” means more than you think. I mean it. Every single time I say it. Your support for my musical gifts (yes, I am actually admitting I do have gifts) makes me know that this music and praise that I am making is what I am meant to do. I love lifting my voice to the Lord. I love singing and praying and preaching as a servant of the Lord. That is where my confidence comes from with a bass in my hand. It is the strength that I have in my heart that it’s not about how perfect I sing, how my hands move on the strings, or what words I pray or preach. It’s about showing my love for God, and showing you that God’s love for us is strong and perfect and beautiful. If I didn’t believe the words I’m singing or saying, and believe that the notes I play lift up praise to God, I wouldn’t be confident enough to be up there. It’s your support that helps me know that this is where I am meant to be, what I am meant to do, and who I am meant to be.

Your chapel love (and love for my gifts outside chapel, too) means so much to me. Thank you, gracias, tusind tak, merci, and danke, from the bottom of my heart and soul. Please know I love your gifts that you bring as well, and you inspire me to be a better person, musician, friend, preacher, student, and member of the Body of Christ. Peace be with you all, and I leave you with a quote from the man himself that made it possible for us all to gather here:

“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” -Martin Luther