Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #22

Getting back into the groove of work has been HARD after nine glorious days off. I still feel like I should be tooling around the East Coast in our little rental Versa, listening to country songs and seeing the world with my love. I've got some travel posts and advice coming your way, so be on the look out for those (and if you aren't, you can follow along on Facebook)! In case you missed it, yesterday I shared some of my heart and words about the joys and struggles in The Truth About Being Married and In Ministry. It's really amazing to see how kids can both bless and be blessed by our marriage. Thanks for stopping by! Can't wait to see what you link up!

Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:
The Alder Collective Link Party
Clockwise from left:
Each week, we'll pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Truth About Being Married & In Ministry

Leading a ministry together as a young married couple is both the most exhausting and most wonderful experience. I truly do not know how people do it without both spouses being involved and on the same page. My sweet hubby, Aaron, and I found ourselves leading cabins at YoungLife Camp just one month after we said “I do”. I should preface with the fact that we both led youth ministry together when we were in college, so finding ourselves thrust into the mission field in our newlywed days didn’t come as much of a surprise.

We don’t know marriage without ministry. Period. But, truthfully, I don’t regret it for one second. I think it’s very easy to become selfishly obsessed with our own young marriages, as we navigate intimacy and partnership together for the first time. Not that we shouldn’t love our spouses deeply, like the gift from God that they are, but we can’t lose sight of our bigger meaning and purpose- one that is about more than just enjoying our spouse. And for me, ministry has brought purpose to our marriage. I have seen the ways in which the Lord uses us to advance His kingdom and to bless others. I have truly gotten a glimpse of how we are stronger together than we are apart. I have held back tears as we lead fifty plus high school kids in worship. I have dug into the Bible in preparation for a message, and seen my husband be my biggest cheerleader. I have watched the Lord open doors in the most amazing ways, and allow us to be a small part of the huge plan He has in place.

To see some of my very favorite things about leading a ministry together as a married couple, as well as some of the hardest things about it, head on over to the rest of the post here, where it's being featured on Sobremesa Stories


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Moment with Liz: Being the Bigger Person

Wow. Today's "moment" is inspirational, hard, and encouraging- all at the same time. My friend Liz, from Western New Yorker is sharing her heart in a big way, as she tells her journey of abuse, motherhood, and the constant choice to "be the bigger person" who refused to give up on her dreams. Here is her story about the will to succeed and the refusal to let anything break her. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

I have always been the bigger person. It has not always been the easy road, but it is the road I take.  Even as a child I felt this way. My childhood consisted of my father molesting me.  I do not say that for dramatic effect but rather to hit home this next sentence: “It did not break me”.  He did not break me. During this time children my age dreamed of becoming a Rockstar or Singer, I wanted to become a Mom. This drove me to be something more. It willed me to get through that in my life.

Above all things, I wanted to have the family that I desperately lacked as a child. As I write that, my son is off in the distance, sounding me back to reality. He wants my attention for a creation he has made. I give it to him. Yes, I wanted this, a walking part of me. What a privilege it is to call him mine.  I am not saying he is a piece of real estate or property but that it is a privilege I take seriously.

I knew I always wanted to be a Mom, as I said. As I grew older, I learned of my family’s history for Cancer and that my body was against me. I tried IVF. I had a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy. I did not let that break me. When it came time to throw in the towel, I was facing another trial or a hysterectomy. My relationship was over; I would be doing this as a single mother now.

I just want to stop here and say the loss of a child is unbearable. Whatever you believe if those “situations” were cells or babies is not important so much as to me they were real. I loved them. I was excited over them and I lost them, each one.

I could tell you all the trials I had with my son while I carried him but I will keep it to just one. I was five months along and he was ready. Less than one pound, my son, was ready to come out. I was mercy flighted to Children’s Hospital. They located me in a room, near other soon to be mothers. They screamed and bellowed of how they never wanted kids. I prayed, I cried, I pleaded for him to stay in. Unlike them I wanted to be a mother.

Some would say I am stubborn. Now, normally I would fight this statement with gusto! But, I suppose that just reiterates that I am in fact, AT TIMES, stubborn. Luckily, for me my son has inherited that trait and we made it one day before his due date (one of life’s victories).

On my three week checkup I was told I was thrown out of remission and I would start radiation. This broke me! For the first time in my life someone else depended on me. And I wasn’t going to be there to grow up with him. I had in my eyes, already let him down. How could I be so selfish?

That was but one rock in the path that leads us to today. I have had two clean bills of health and my bundle of joy now can run circles around me at age six. As I watch him play, I leave you with these encouraging words:

Do not let, whatever ails you, beat you. Being the bigger person is not the easy road but it is the road you should take. I promise you that, my stories, are proof life is NOT absolute. It is ever changing and we are every growing. If I had given into my past, my nightmares, my fears this family I have now would not be here. Some say we dream things into life and that my friend is what I feel I have done. As cheesy as that sounds! I did not let it break me and neither should you.

Liz Cleland is a roaming blogger who calls Western New York her home. She blogs on life, food, and adventures over at Western New York. You can follow along with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram

If you liked this Moments Guest Post, check out the others here. Have a story that you'd like to share on Currently, KelsieContact me here with your idea!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Five on Friday: Brackets, Breaks, & a Big Giveaway

It's here, it's here! I can't wait! Not only is it the weekend, but it's also extra happy because we've got nine days off. Safe to say that it couldn't have come soon enough, and that a lot of us teachers were having to really push to survive the week with some wound up kiddos. There's lots to be excited about this week, as well as some big news, and a huge giveaway at the bottom of the post. Make sure you check it out!

1. March Madness

Even if you're not a big basketball lover like I am, March Madness can still be a lot of fun. Let's face it, many of the people who have the best brackets really have no idea what they're doing. I always do a bracket at my school, along with one in a family pool for a little fun competition with my hubby. This year I filled out some with my students as well, so I've got four brackets to follow. It makes it a lot more fun to watch every game, and you feel like you care a little more!

2. A Team to Be Proud Of

If you've been following along in my last few Friday updates, you know that my school's girls basketball team has been making quite the run in the post-season. From coming back from a sixteen point deficit, to beating teams they've had to play four times, they've truly played their hearts out and made us all so proud. We made the trek to Columbia yesterday for the semi-final game, and sadly they did not come out victorious. There were a lot of crazy things in the game that could have completely changed the outcome in our favor- they just didn't. While a state championship won't be happening, they are still playing for third this morning- which is pretty dang good if you ask me!

3. Spring Break Adventures

I'm excited about spring break for ton of wonderful and totally valid reasons, but my biggest reason would have to be that we just so desperately need some time away to relax. Often times, our best form of relaxation is getting away from everything else around here: a little escape from the busyness. I can't wait to spend hours exploring cities (both familiar and old to us both), as well as chalk up some new state sign photos around the country. Thankful to have some time to play and make memories with my hubby in this sweet time of our lives.

4. Companion Pass!!

If you remember reading 16 Things I'm Excited about in 2016, then you may recall my excitement (and hope) that we would get the Companion Pass for the rest of 2016 and 2017. I'm happy to report that as of this month we are officially Companion Pass holders (and that's without either one of us earning points by traveling for work). We didn't even have to buy a car. This means that one of us flies free for the rest of the year and ALL of 2017, and the other has about 110,000 points to work through! I may share a post later on about how we accomplished this, but for now I'm dreaming of all the awesome trips we already have planned for the next year and eight months.

5. A Give-Away

Lastly, I wanted to leave you with a chance to put a little extra cash in your pocket! In honor of my friends Summer and Chelsie's birthdays, I'm going in with a whole bunch of amazing bloggers to offer you the chance to win a $300 Target Gift Card (because who wouldn't be able to spend that on some pretty amazing things?!). In order to earn entries, all you have to do is log in and complete some of the tasks below (like following someone on Instagram or Twitter), and you're set! No strings attached! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'll be taking a spring break from the blog this week as well, but don't forget to stop by and check out the Moments Guest Post that will be coming to you on Wednesday. Have a wonderful weekend!


I'm linking up with A. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely UnfoldedGrace and Love Blog,  Running for Cupcakesand Life in Leggings.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Moment with Lauren: Life After Trauma

I so admire my friend Lauren's bravery in sharing her story with us all in today's Moments Guest Post. Lauren is graciously sharing her heart and her words with us today, and I am so inspired by her vulnerability and the way in which she has chased hard after the Lord in the hardest of times. Her story is worth reading. 

When Kelsie first mentioned this series, I wanted to take part, but didn't originally think of writing about life after PTSD or living with trauma. I have mentioned it in passing on my personal blog, but to really talk about my life with PTSD, I would have to talk more about what caused it and I was scared to do that. I was also terrified to talk about life “after” PTSD, because I am still in the middle of living it.

However, then a few news stories hit the media, questioning the validity of a person's PTSD and the honesty behind a sexual assault case. I'm not big on writing commentary on social and political events. It's outside my comfort zone. But in this case, both those things affect me personally and while it may not be much, I think telling my personal story may be able to help with some of the assumptions others make about sexual assault and post traumatic stress disorder.

My first trauma came when I was much younger, and to be quite frank, was more like a sliver in a foot than a jagged knife to an artery. The problem with that trauma, however, was instead of removing the tiny piece of wood, cleaning out the wound, bandaging it up, and letting others know the sliver happened? I threw a band­aid on it and allowed it to slowly fester and rot beneath that bandage.

Ignoring every warning sign, every time the pain would overflow a little, I continued to apply bandage after bandage as the infection grew and began to slowly take over my life. Then at 19, when the other assault happened, it was like a stab wound to my already infected leg. Every part of me that had become rotten and broken exploded out and I left believing the leg would have to be amputated. Or I could die, did I not cut off all the broken pieces of me. I wasn't sure which was worse anymore.

We saved the leg, though.

I left school shortly following my assault and made it through what people would tell me was the darkest part of the night. I slowly began to acknowledge what had happened and therapy gave me four little letters for what my reaction was: PTSD. A diagnosis: post traumatic stress disorder. What no one told me about PTSD though, is that the darkest part of the night never completely ends­or at least it hasn't yet for me.

I really would love to be here talking about overcoming PTSD and the trauma, but I'm not there yet either. While I'm no longer in the middle of the hardest parts, the stress of my trauma is still significantly infiltrating my life. As I stated above, we saved the leg, but like anything that had been ignored, covered up, and slowly decaying for years, my leg was not back to the way it was before the injuries. I was not the same person as I was before my assaults. My coping skills were terrible, and I used all the wrong ones.

I slowly had to relearn how to live with the damage that had been done. Trauma adds an extra layer to every aspect of your life. Marriage, my relationship with friends, my faith in God...all had been tainted by the trauma I had lived through. Each step was harder than the last, but I slowly began to heal. I married a wonderful man, who helped me through the hard times. My relationship with friends slowly were grown back up. I regained a faith in God, leaning on Him as I forgave myself, God, and the person who hurt me.

Even pregnancy after sexual assault had it's own struggles and I found myself having to trust in God and myself. So many moments that should have been overrun with happiness left me uncomfortable and feeling out of control­something I never wanted again. My son's birth itself left me having panic attacks throughout it; my body was not mine for those hours and it caused flashbacks.

My second pregnancy has been easier though; life gets easier every day. I'm slowly coming closer to who I know God meant for me to be. This wasn't where I planned to be fifteen years ago, before my little heart knew the pain of trauma. But I am also not where I planned to be five years ago, directly following it either. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Some days seem harder. When the anniversary of the date goes by, I tend to have a rough week. Every so often, there come nights that are worse than others. But it's getting better. And I want anyone else out there living in life after trauma to know that.

I also want them to know they deserve to be allowed own what happened to them, however they want or need to own it. It took a long time for me to talk about these things; even now, my words are carefully considered as to not give away too many details. For me, I choose not to be completely open because the details should not be needed to confirm my trauma. What happened to me happened, and I'm living the “after” everyday. By the grace of God alone, I am making it through. The grace of God and the love of a few good people.

Life after trauma can be so hard. But it can also be beautiful, wonderful, and you find you have strength you never knew you had. If you take anything away from this moments with Lauren Jane, I hope you take away that even after trauma, life can be amazing.

Lauren Jane is a twenty-something mom blogger who is passionate about mental health, raising a Christian family, and foster care. Shel ives in the mountains of Western Massachusetts with five of her six kids (added through adoption, foster care, and biology) and her outdoorsman husband. You can follow along with Lauren and Bellows in the Berkshires on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

If you liked this Moments Guest Post, check out the others here. Have a story that you'd like to share on Currently, Kelsie? Contact me here with your idea!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #21

It's Tuesday, and we are officially on the three day countdown to Spring Break! I voted this morning in the Missouri primaries, it's going to be 75 today, and the basketball girls are state bound on Thursday! Looking forward to an incredible weekend and an ever better next week full of travel and March Madness (filled out your bracket yet?). In case you missed it, check out my post on 10 Things I Learned from Being an Athlete. It's pretty cool to see how much us athletes take away from playing sports! We will take a break next week from the link party, as I'll be all over the US. Can't wait to see what y'all have to share again this week!


Alder Collective Link Party

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:
The Alder Collective Link Party
Clockwise from top left:
Each week, we'll pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party:

Monday, March 14, 2016

10 Things I Learned from Being an Athlete

As a high school teacher and coach, I've attended a lot of sporting events. From football to basketball to softball, and more, I've spent hours and hours leading, encouraging, and challenging young athletes. As I watch them play, it takes me back to my own days of organized competitive sports: of softball cleats, jump shots, and track spikes. Of being shaped into who I am now. These kids may not know it, but they're learning far more than how to throw, shoot, swim, or run. They're learning things that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Yes, competition is great and success is fun, but there is so much more to it all than simply winning. Here are ten things I learned from being an athlete: things that are still life applicable to this day.

1. Keep your head up. 

The power of a positive attitude can go a long way. You can't lose your cool in the middle of a game, or you're already defeated before it's even over. Sports helped me to think positively when we were down a few runs or points, and it challenged me to share that positivity with others. Even now, I'm one of the most positive sports fans you'll see, as I always have hope (within realistic reason) for my team to come through in the end. And this positivity can be beneficial and contagious in all walks of life. Be the positive thinker in your career, friendships, and neighborhood.

2. Challenge yourself to accomplish your goals. You can do more than you may think.

When I was a freshman, I never thought that I'd be able to run a lap in less than a minute and a half. But my junior year, I ran my personal best with a 63 second lap. If I try to go do that now, I might die. And if I'm honest, I totally had a love/hate relationship with the 400 (one lap). But mainly, track especially helped me see that I could do a whole lot more than I ever thought I could. I learned how to push my body and my mental thoughts far beyond my wildest dreams. I learned that being strong and fit was possible and rewarding. I learned that sometimes things are hard and they hurt, but that they pay off in the end. I learned to set goals and to celebrate them when I accomplished them. And you know what? The same is true in life. It can hurt. It can be hard. But it's worth it. So set goals, push yourself, and watch them happen.

3. Make your time count.

Four years of high school go by quickly. Some people go on to play sports in college, but many don't. Even so, the years of regular competition quickly come to an end. I tell my athletes to never take a second for granted, and you can ask any high school senior who just lost their final game: it goes fast. So make your time count. Make it something you can be proud of. Leave it all out there on the field, the court, or in the pool. Don't have any regrets. Play your heart out, and give your best. I learned to do this in every single game or meet that I had. And it always felt good knowing I had given my all. The same can be said for our lives. They go quickly. Years pass, life changes, seconds turn into minutes and days. And we only get to do it once. So make it count.

4. Work together. Put the team above your own desires.

Sports taught me to be less selfish. I led our basketball team in assists because I recognized that my stats were much less important than our overall win. I learned to love sac bunting or hit and runs in softball. I learned to love helping our team, and not just myself. Sure, it felt good to have my own success, but if I had a rough night and our team still won, then that was a good day. I learned how to navigate teamwork with others and to lead with humility while walking alongside younger teammates or those who were better than me. I learned the beauty of "we" over "me". And this is still so very true in life: in work, in relationships, and so many other areas.

5. Sacrifice is worth it for what you love.

There will be times in life when you've got to sacrifice something: sleep, money, friends, time with others. But it's worth it in the end if it's for what (or who) you really love. I had to miss out on a few family trips because of my sporting events. I also had some nights where I didn't get much sleep after a long away game. But this idea of sacrifice from long practices or the inability to hang out with my friends has followed me on to make sacrifices for my health, marriage, family, and faith.

6. Multi-tasking is important.

I was the cool kid who was doing homework on the bus or during the freshman games. But you know what? I was a three sport varsity athlete who was in the musical and show choir, and I still managed to keep my 4.0 GPA. And now? I can juggle teaching, coaching, YoungLife, NHS, and life with a lot less effort and a lot less stress because it's something I've learned how to do ever since high school.

7. Listen and communicate well.

Holy smokes, is this life applicable or what? In careers, marriage, parenting, friendships, and more, you've got to be able to both listen and communicate or you are going to struggle mightily. Same goes for both on and off the field. I had some hard conversations with my coaches as an athlete, and those helped me learn how to advocate for myself while also remaining respectful to those in authority over me. Not to mention, I learned how to handle conflict and how to talk it out in person. These life skills have come in handy multiple times since then, and seem to pop up on a regular basis.

8. Play a role.

Not everyone can be the all-star. Sometimes, a supporting role is just as important and necessary. Know your role, and be the best at it that you could ever be. Whether it's in the workplace or on the court, there is a need for everyone to contribute to success. Don't think any less of yourself if you aren't the star, and be proud of the role that you're filling, even if no one else ever recognizes you for it.

9. Stay classy. 

All eyes are on you. Nobody likes someone who's cocky. Learn how to both win and lose with grace, and never lose your cool in a moment of emotion. There's a lot to be said about a person who can play the game of life with class. People are always watching, whether they are parents, colleagues, students, coaches, or kids. We've got to remember that we could be someone's role model...and what are we teaching them through our actions and words?

10. Learn from failure.

Some of the games I learned the most from were the ones I lost. Why? Because they kept me hungry. Because they forced me to think about what I needed to change or work on. And because they made me realize just how much I truly did care about and love the game. In life, we're constantly learning from our failures, which can help turn something negative into something much more motivating and positive. It can push us on to get back on our feet and try again, while using what we've learned for our previous mistakes.

These are the things that I hope my high school students and athletes truly learn from the game. Winning is fun, but it's not the only thing that sports are about. I know without a doubt that being an athlete has made me a much better person. It taught me so many things, served as as perfect outlet for my competitive nature, helped me release stress, and gave me a fun reason to stay healthy. I still work out daily and challenge myself on a more individual basis, but overall, I'm thankful for the lessons that I learned from being an athlete. It's an experience I wouldn't trade for the world.


I'm linking up with  Motivational Monday, Modest Mom Blog,  What Joy is MineTell it to Me TuesdayBliss and Faith,  Sweet Little OnesTestimony TuesdayIntentional TuesdayTwinkly TuesdayWomen with IntentionA. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely Unfolded,  Momfessionals,Life in Leggings, and Quintessential Mommy.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Five on Friday: Celebrations and Challenges

It's been quite the busy week, as we've bounced around from game to contest to party or meeting. A common theme of the week seemed to be competitive challenges mixed with celebrations of both success and valiant effort. If you saw last week's post, I've got some updates to provide. On the plus side, we've only got one week to go until a whole glorious week off for spring break! Here's what we've been up to.

new Asics shoes

1. Celebrating Quarterfinal Bound Basketball

A huge week highlight has been that our girls basketball team not only won their district game, but they also won sectionals! They were actually down by 16 in their sectional game, but made a run and came all the way back to end up winning by 15. I love their fight, their refusal to quit, and the way they picked up other up and truly won as a team- despite all the challenges that came their way. They've got a big quarterfinal game tomorrow afternoon, and they will hopefully be off to state by this time next week! (Fingers crossed.) They've been so fun to watch all year.

2. Celebrating Marriage (Amidst Its Challenges) 

It's true y'all: marriage gets a bad wrap. People always seem to have negative, doom and gloom "advice" about it, and some of it is a bit overshared with us happy, young married folk. If you missed it, check out Monday's post What We've Got to Stop Telling Young Married Couples to see what I mean! There are a whole lot of people with some really great comments, encouragement, and ideas that have chimed in with their ideas. I'd love to have you join them!

What We've Got to Stop Telling Young Married Couples

3. Celebrating State Bound NHD

Last week I shared that I had students competing in the regional National History Day competition all day Saturday. In a huge contest of over 600 students, I am thrilled to have nine students headed to the state competition in April (Columbia, here we come!): 1st in Historical Paper (out of 43), 3rd in Website (out of 103), 1st in Group Performance, 3rd in Individual Performance, and 3rd in Group Performance. I'm so proud of all of my students who worked very hard, and am blessed to work with some fabulous kiddos who make my job fun.

National History Day
Source: NHD.org

4. Bday Celebrations with the Bros

One of my dearest friends turned the big 2-6, and so of course we had to celebrate her with a game night and some amazing buffalo chicken dip. She's a pretty sweet hostess, and we tore up the games together as the "Dream Team". One fun part of the night was getting to celebrate with both of my younger brothers, which doesn't happen much since one is away at college. I'm blessed with some pretty great siblings, and they're a lot of fun.

5.  Celebrating New Kicks

If you're a runner, or anyone who works out regularly, you know just how important shoes are. Let's just say that mine were old and tired and I was super overdue for a new pair. I found a great deal on ShoeBuy.com (with free shipping), and ended up ordering my next pair of Asics, which I've been super obsessed with since my first year of high school track. There's nothing like a new pair of soft, cushiony shoes on a perfect road run with incredible weather. (Mine are pictured at the top!) I'm excited to challenge myself in a new way with much happier feet.

Here's to spring, March madness, and a whole lot of summer and travel dreamin'.


Are you following along on Facebook? Don't miss out! 

These words and fears have weighed on my heart for the last few months. Today, I'm finally sharing them in a real and...
Posted by Currently, Kelsie on Monday, February 29, 2016
I'm linking up with A. Liz Adventures The Diary of a Real HousewifeUniquely UnfoldedGrace and Love Blog,  Running for Cupcakesand Life in Leggings.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Alder Collective Link Party #20

It's been a pretty crazy week. Who would have thought I'd look down last Tuesday night to see my main diamond completely missing from my ring? For more on that, check out this post from last Friday. In case you missed it, yesterday I shared What We've Got to Stop Telling Young Married Couples. I've gotten some really great comments on it, and would love for you to check it out if you haven't already! In other news, there's a girls' sectional basketball game tomorrow that we're really excited for. Hope you're having a great week! 

Welcome to The Alder Collective Link Party! We're so happy you stopped by to show off your stuff. A friendly reminder before we jump into the party: make sure you're visiting at least as many posts as you're linking up. This party is no fun if you don't see traffic and comments from it. Now check out what your hosts have been up to this week:
The Alder Collective Link Party
Clockwise from top left:
Each week, we'll pin every link to the Alder Collective Link Party Pinterest board, where it will be seen by thousands of people. Here are our favorite links from last week's party: