1–10 of 106 entries in the category: Faith


October 1st

November 2016 garden

In the last week, I’ve attended a women’s conference at church, read a book by Brene Brown on imperfections, and attended Glennon Doyle’s Together conference with a girlfriend. I feel a little punch drunk on empowerment.

The women’s conference was titled “Known” and focused on recognizing how God has made each of us as perfect beings. We are created in His image, and when we compare ourselves to others, or speak poorly about ourselves—we are missing the point. Strong female stories are told again and again in the Bible. The story of the midwives who didn’t wait for Moses to lead the Exodus, but realized the pharaoh was going to bring hell upon their people and instead started rounding up the first-borns and hiding them, is just one example.

The conference speakers discussed the book of Galatians. Afterword, I took some time to read this book in its entirety, which didn’t take long. My experience with the Holy Spirit is one of me being a complete bone head and the Holy Spirit being the most patient, loving, hilarious person around. Regularly She’s like, “Um, dumb dumb. Didn’t we already discuss this? Didn’t I already teach you that lesson in 2004, 2006, again in 2006, the fall of 2009, and that one time in 2011?” — to paraphrase.

In reading Galatians, I’m reminded of how the Holy Spirit is walking along side us all, and there ready and willing to hold our hands and help us see what we cannot on our own, if (and that’s a big if) we are willing to reach out a hand and ask for the friendship. One of the speakers at Known said she was sure the Holy Spirit is a female because she’s “always there, bossy, and ready to get the job done.” That made me smile.

I’ve got one foot firmly planted in this evangelical church and the other dangling in the foyer of the United Methodist church where I was raised. The evangelical movement is traditionally far too conservative for my view of the world and my spiritual understanding. This is a longer post for another day. I need to spend some more time thinking about it, but like a pebble in my shoe, I miss the United Methodist church when I’m at the other church — and I feel like I’m not totally at home in either pew.

The Together conference was a group of women discussing their walks in life, with Glennon ending the three-hour-long discussion with a prayer. She recently left her husband to marry Abby Wambach of Olympic soccer fame. The pair briefly discussed their journey with sobriety, struggling to understand their love for each other and also honoring Christ, and how they are using their fame for good. At the Phoenix tour stop, this included interviewing female farm laborers who are trying to end sexual violence in the fields, and speaking with a Phoenix woman who leads an effort to end honor killings among tribal members in her home country of Pakistan.

There were a lot of tears. Tears of joy, of anger at the injustice in the world, and tears of hope that women can turn this unhappy world around.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.”

— Galatians 5: 22-23



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The Boys Down the Street

May 2nd

Summer BBQ -- Colorado style

When I was 11 or so, a new family moved to the corner house on our street. They had one tow-head toddler who couldn’t say Kelli, so he called me Ki Ki. Soon, another baby boy was on the way. The parents and my parents made fast friends. I spent many, many summer days with tan lines and blood shot eyes chasing those two little boys, and my younger brother, around the pool.



The scent of burning charcoal briquettes immediately takes me back to these happy days. Our parents would grill and lounge in the shade and we would squeal and play and be utterly exhausted by the time night fell. (In retrospect, this was a brilliant parenting strategy.)

In time, I became the babysitter. I’d watch the two boys regularly over the next few years. I loved the brothers like they were my own. I read their favorite books to the point of memorization. I rocked them goodnight and gave them baths. I watched Aladdin on VHS tape approximately 10,000 times. I helped teach them to swim.

In 1994, I left my family (and theirs) to study in Mexico for a year. I was 14 and communication home was expensive. I’d call home on Sundays, and sometimes sneak a call to my dad at work. He’d always accept the charges. It was on one of those calls, when I stood at a pay phone in the foyer of the Mexican high school library, that my dad relayed the bad news. Gently, he told me the younger of the two neighbor boys was sick. He’d been sick for a while and they hadn’t been able to figure it out. Finally, they knew. He had a form of pediatric cancer and was off to Minnesota for treatment. His mom left her job and was living in the Ronald McDonald house.

I cried the tears of a gulping teenage girl whose world view had cracked, and was 1500 miles from those she loved most.

My mom helped watch the older brother, still just a little one, and my parents together kept an eye on their dad, who must have been out of his mind with grief and potential loss. The details of those days and months are not clear in my memory. What I do remember is returning home six months later and the youngest brother was still alive, in recovery, everyone back at home. When I went to visit, I realized that while he was alive, he was still dealing with the repercussions of having cell-altering chemicals and radiation at a tender age of growth. His color wasn’t right for a long time, his skin black and gray. And my last memory of him as a kindergarten student a few years later was one where he used a walker, dragging a foot behind him.

But he was alive!

The years rolled on, and soon the family was off to the Pacific Northwest for work. Their house sold quickly. I don’t remember ever saying goodbye. I do remember feeling like a piece of my childhood was packed in their moving truck, tucked between the towels that always smelled of chlorine and the tonka trucks. During the next 20 years, I spent more than a few hours looking for their family online with no luck.

Imagine my utter shock when about six weeks ago, laying on my mat in silence before a yoga class, a woman leaned her head next to mine and said, “KELLI!”

It was their mother. By sheer coincidence, after more than a decade of living elsewhere, we are neighbors again in an entirely different neighborhood. I hugged her with a ferocity that I think scared us both, and told her through tears how I’d searched for them. How was her youngest son? I asked it hesitantly, wondering all these years if the cancer had come back.

“Oh, he just graduated college. He lives with us! He’s great.”

He is great. That weekend, I got together with their family. Their eldest son, now a PhD candidate in northern California, was home visiting for the weekend — again by chance. We sat and reminisced, and I soon realized that while it was so important to my childhood — the time we’d spent together — the boys barely remembered me. They were more than ten years younger and their memories, of course, were those of little ones: blurry at best. But they did know of our family from the stories their parents had repeated, and I hugged them like an older sister would.

It was, and remains, a wonderful set of coincidences that brought a friendship together again.


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Arizona, Faith, Family
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Let Me Count The Ways

November 29th

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

Some family friends recently opened their home to a foster baby, just a few days old. They have welcomed this child into their family fully — loving her with all their hearts. I made this baby quilt for that child, whose future custody is uncertain but may she always know she was loved. By many. By those who haven’t even met her.

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

Baby Quilt for Nonnie

Nonnie, your future is bright!


Auntie Kelli

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Blessings, Colorado, Domestic Art, handmade
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January 23rd

African Jesus

Have you read this nonsense this week? The silly story from an NYC-based pastor on the 10 types of women Christian men shouldn’t marry. The list is a doozy and of course all based on scripture. (Cliff notes: the older woman, the woman who doesn’t want children, the divorcee, the career-first woman, etc.)

Let’s just call bullshit on this right now, shall we?

You know who Jesus spent a lot of time with? Mary Magdalene. She who is mentioned more than most of the apostles in the gospels. She who stood by Jesus during his crucifixion. And she who was the one who witnessed the resurrection.

Oh, and also? She who was previously, maybe, a prostitute. (Jesus forgave her for being a “sinful woman.” Draw your own conclusions. This point is highly debated.)

That’s right. One of Jesus’ most trusted confidants — the one who sounded the horns of celebration that the son of God had risen from the dead — was a woman of disrepute.

So, before we spend time creating silly lists about the types of people Christians should or shouldn’t marry, just maybe we should spend more time thinking about those cast aside. Is it based in fear? In the ugly within us? Because these sorts of lists are not based on New Testament scripture.

Jesus didn’t walk among the rich and mighty. He spent his time among the poor, the sick and those who had been set aside.

Enough! If you want to walk the talk, enough with the “them vs. us” — regardless of your faith! As my friend Nadia Bolz-Weber says, whenever you draw a line in the sand on where your love and compassion stop, Jesus is on the other side.



One older, career-driven, childless woman who loves Jesus

(And am created in the image of my maker — exactly the way He wanted)


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Get Away

July 21st

This weekend, we got away for a quick break north to Prescott — where it was mercifully a good 20 degrees cooler.

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Prescott trip!

Three cheers to: excellent coffee and breakfast burritos at The Raven Cafe; fun thrift, the courthouse weekend art show, great people watching, time away alone with the man I love, and did I already mention the cooler weather?

Yes. Sweet Mary and Moses, I cannot wait for another break. I’m melting this summer.

Thank you, Prescott! We’ll be back soon.



Posted in
Arizona, Blessings
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June 13th


This is my dad, Rex.

He is my hero, and my brother’s hero. He is my mother’s best friend. He is kind to animals and strangers and loves nothing more at this point in life than playing in his men’s club at the golf course with a bunch of guys who have 20 years on him. Or hunting with his son and brothers.

He also likes to talk about the weather, water the lawn while sipping a beer, or and chase those noisy raccoon out of the church attic; those golf geezers might be wearing off a bit.

This week a DJ was asking radio callers, “What is the one skill you use most that your father taught you?”

Immediately, I knew. Kindness.

Sure, he taught me to ride a bike, throw a ball, take care of a car, stick with goals, and a handful of other skills. But sincerely, he (and my mom) taught us kindness. I vividly remember him telling us when we started elementary school that our jobs as Donleys were to find the kids on the playground no one else wanted to play with, and to be their friends and protectors. No matter what, we were to be kind to everyone.

Granted, I still fail at this — but I remember the pep talk when I’m walking into difficult conversations at work, or dealing with the exhausted and rude postal service clerk. Kindness goes a long way. And my father is one of the most generous, kindest people you’ll ever meet. As a result, my life is rich with friends far and wide, interesting people I know in person and from this blog. I’m really lucky to have had the examples in my parents that being kind and creating friendships makes life much sweeter.

Thank you, Papi. You really are the very best dad in the entire world, and you are beloved.




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Thin Place

March 10th

One Community March

There is this Celtic belief concerning the “thin place,” where the earth is so close to heaven, the two blend. For each person, this place is different. It may vary with time, or location. The idea is, if you are open to prayer and the Holy Spirit, you may find yourself one day feeling so close to God, the space between you and heaven blurs.

My mind and heart have been heavy, carrying the burdens of many I love. There are my own worries too. The last year has been a constant calendar of big life changes.

I was praying last week, writing in a journal, before returning home to take Nelson on a walk around the local lake. During the walk, I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, “The Moth.” The storyteller this time was Krista Tippett, someone I’ve long admired — having listened to her faith podcast “On Being” for years. She talked about her relationship with her grandfather, visiting Scotland, and hearing about the thin place. Several of her fellow travelers had visited a local “stone reader” in Scotland who somehow knew things about their lives. They urged her reluctantly into going. And when she did, the stone reading woman told her that her beloved and misunderstood grandfather was there with them. He wanted her to know how proud he was of her. And he, a teetotaler in this life, was raising a glass of champagne to her in the next.

I fell to my knees in the emerald green spring grass lining the lake’s edge and breathed deeply. Proud. I had just prayed that morning, in a moment of sorrow, that I hoped my grandmother was proud. (Sometimes prayers take the tone of a babbling child. So it goes, when you are completely, wildly vulnerable.)


And here she was, in her own way, telling me to pull myself up by my own kinda-Celtic bootstraps and to carry on. She was proud.

I ran my hands through the grass, feeling the earth beneath my fingers. They came upon something cool, nearly out of reach. A stone, turquoise in the light. Her favorite color, and mine too. The stone reader sending me a message from a continent away.

Carry on. It is what the women in our family do. Chin up, stone in hand, I grabbed the leash and we finished our walk with my grandmother’s spirit keeping my own afloat.



Posted in
Arizona, Earth Mama, Faith
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Papal Awesomeness

February 24th


Who would have thought the world would change if a Pope came to power who actually embodied the characteristic love and kindness of Jesus?

Who would  have thought any human, Pope or otherwise, could be this good? Someone who seeks social justice, works for the poor, eschews the fame and glory of such a prominent role,  and instead reminds those who report to him to him “no intrigue, gossip, power pacts, or favoritism.”

Who couldn’t use a reminder that intrigue, gossip, power pacts and favoritism — at home and at work — hurt us all? (Hey Arizona legislators, please consider this.)

I am loving Pope Francis. He gives me hope for the global Catholic church.


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Baby Kimono Wrap Sweater

February 2nd

Robyn and I don’t really know each other. But we have long read each other’s blogs and supported each other. Well, really she has supported me. She and her community of knitting friends regularly pitch in for my variety of projects. Boxes of hats, scarves and other hand knits have arrived from around the country for homeless vets, for example. Her generosity knows no bounds.

Baby kimono wrap: finished

She is expecting a little girl soon. Her first! I thought it would be nice to send some non-pink or purple love her way to celebrate the addition to their family.

Baby kimono wrap: finished


Pattern: Kimono Wrap in Mason Dixon Knitting

Yarn: Peaches and Cream cotton

Time: This knit up within a couple weeks. It took far longer to decide what to do about the closure. With the move, my sewing supplies are packed (and machine is in the shop) so when Sue suggested braided ties, I jumped on the idea. I love the colors of this yarn; they remind me of the sea.

Baby kimono wrap: finished

Next up: ball band cotton dish cloths — a pattern from the same book. I have a lot of small bits of cotton yarn remaining from a variety of projects I’d like to clean up, and a few friends moving and settling into new houses. Perfect fit.


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Blessings, Community, Domestic Art, Earth Mama
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January 14th

Praying for peace


Africa is hurting. The people of Central African Republic are under siege. The folks of South Sudan are involved in a brutal, new civil war. For Zimbabwe, falling again into man-made, infuriating famine. The Second Congo war rages on, killing more people than any other conflict since WWII.

My prayers are for these people. The women who huddle under plastic tarps as the humid equatorial rain pours at night, unable to comfort their children. There is no comfort when hiding from violence. For the health care workers who may be able to stop wounds from bleeding, but cannot keep the malarial mosquitoes or dirty water away from the thousands and thousands who huddle in makeshift refugee camps. For those coordinating food and medical supply drops — may there be fewer hungry bellies on the great continent.

For the leaders — to be strong, courageous, peaceful and just.

My prayers and heart are with you, great Africa.



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Africa, Faith
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