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Inspiraton

2012 was crazy. This year stretched and grew my understanding of the world and myself. The Lord used this year to teach me lessons I cannot place a value on. I made connections and had new experiences that have been unparalleled in prior years of my life. I have received many surprises and faced many challenges and been rewarded in ways I do not deserve. 2012 was my favorite year of life thus far.

Seattle

I started the first day of 2012 in Seattle. My very first day in the city and the beginning of a new
adventure. My time in Seattle was not long but it was an invaluable experience. In the course of my three-and-a-half months there, I learned more about myself than I had ever before. I faced loneliness, but through that was able to make new friends. It was during this time, that for the first time in my life, I was forced to fully rely on the Lord to provide for me financially, which grew my trust in His provision. While in Seattle, I worked with a company that I often miss very much and grew close to girls from an awesome church, of whom I also miss very much. It remains in my mind a beautiful memory, but when April rolled around, I was ready to go home.

Part of the reason I was ready to go home was the excitement I was experiencing from the eagerness of new love. In February, I met PJ Szabo via a mutual friend. The introduction occurred accidentally, through music, and on the internet. While in Seattle, we quickly moved from Facebook messages to text messages to three-hour phone calls. The phone calls grew consistent and contact became nearly constant. On April 10, the very day I moved home from Seattle, was the first day I met PJ in real life (and the first day he met my parents! Eek!) He is the reason this year has been my favorite. PJ is fun in ways that encourage me to be spontaneous and silly. He is compassionate and kind. He is selfless and humble. He is the best listener I know and immensely patient. PJ encourages me to be a better person and to love more like Christ simply by the example of his life.

Pj and I

On Dec. 21, after a night of fun and Christmas festivities with my dad’s extended family, PJ was driving me home. Pulling into the driveway, the clock was just about to read 12:00 a.m., we would officially survive the supposed Mayan Apocalypse. We both exited the car, arms full of gifts and goodies and the greatest white elephant gift. PJ was walking behind me and as I reached the door of my house, I heard him set his things down. “There’s one more thing…” he said to me. As I turned around to see what he needed, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a ring. The most beautiful ring. And down on one knee he asked if I would be his wife. I didn’t believe him at first. I swore this could only be a dream. He assured me it was not and I responded an enthusiastic “YES!” Of course I woke everyone in my house up to tell them the news, though he had already told them prior to the event anyway. In the course of this year, I met the man of my dreams, we grew to be best friends, and then, on midnight of Dec. 22, we became engaged.

engaged

This year could not have ended any sweeter, I thought. But the good news just kept coming. This past Saturday, I was offered a job as a producer for Morning Edition on KJZZ, NPR’s Phoenix member station. I still feel so grateful and amazed I was offered this opportunity and cannot wait to join the KJZZ team.

Some other amazing things have happened this year for which I often thank the Lord. My grandmother’s cancer is gone! We prayed and prayed. The doctors worked and she endured many months of chemo, and now, there is no cancer. God is good!

The autumn months brought about a new internship as I started a working relationship with Atlas Quarterly that is set to solidify in this new year. In mid-December, the tobacco pipes I began making for a hobby are now being sold in a specialty store in downtown Phoenix called Hard Goods. How these events even occurred still blows me away. I feel so honored to be involved with these great companies.

Like I said, 2012 has been my favorite year thus far. However, I’m certain 2013 will be my forever favorite as i begin new career endeavors and more importantly as I will pledge my life to the most amazing man I know and my very best friend.

Welcome, 2013. I’m glad you’re here.

Sincerely,
Kendra Leigh

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PJ and I have been dating for just over six months now, and we spend a lot of time together, but it’s mostly pretty jumbled. We meet after he gets off work at 10pm and spend time catching up on the latest episodes of the Office and Parks and Rec, and we go to church together on the weekends. But one ritual is quickly becoming one of my favorites: lunch.
I have a 30-minute break at work for lunch and since PJ lives five minutes away, I try to make it there as often as possible. Generally, he cooks for me and we sit and listen to This American Life or allow NPR or a favorite album to play in the background as we each take time sharing about our mornings. This lunchtime is a place for me to pause and rest in the comfort of his presence. It is a sanctuary in which I strive to retreat to daily. Here, over a quiet meal shared just between us two, I feel at peace.
I work full-time. I take classes full-time. My schedule is very busy between the two, and church, and the three blogs I run, and chores, and the friendships I strive to maintain. But in the mix, things seem to work, because of rituals like this. Our lunchtime together is a sort of calm within the whirlwind of my schedule and it saves me.

Sincerely,
Kendra Leigh

Good morning! I’m about to go to a 5K (not run it, let’s be honest, but volunteer there with the church.) I actually woke up on time today, which if you know me at all, know is a feat nearly deserving of applause. I have perfected the art of getting ready in under 15 minutes, hair and make-up included, because I’m so used to pushing “snooze” beyond reason. But today, I woke up about an hour early, at 6 am, and I didn’t even get to bed until 12:30.

But I had to get up. I told God that if He wanted to spend time with me (which he does) then I would need Him to wake me up because goodness gracious, I was not good at getting myself up. And to be honest with you, when I suddenly woke up an hour early, I wanted to turn over and sleep again with every ounce in me, but I knew this is what I had been begging for so I figured I better turn on the light.

This morning, I began something I would like to continue. No, I am not referencing reading scripture (although I want to continue this, too.) I’m talking about resting in Christ. I read my bible everyday, a routine which I realized about 48 hours ago, I had actually allowed to replace Christ in my life. Because well, “I have my bible and my journal and that’s good enough, right?” I stopped listening, I traded pursuing intimacy with Jesus for simply reading about him. (And to be honest, I was mostly skimming, anyway.) But today, God changed something my heart and I began to listen, not just read. It felt like climbing into my father’s lap to hear Him tell me how much He loves me.

And here I am, with five and a half hours of sleep and I’ve never felt so awake!

Jesus has been pursuing me long enough. I want to run into His arms (which I’m sure will look more like a stumble into them, but as long as that’s where I end up.)

“When I have no more strength left to follow, fall on my knees. Pilot me. May your sunrise lead me home.”

Sincerely,
Kendra Leigh

The weather has been strange here lately. The sun warmed the Seattle air up to the 60s just a couple of weeks ago, but it has retreated into hiding and rain and 40-degree temperatures have taken over once again. I expect the cold, rain and darkness, but somehow it becomes less bearable just after such a beautifully warm and sunny week.

I’m finding the same is true internally. The emotional dark and coldness becomes increasingly unbearable when it’s one you sink into after just dancing in the sunlight. You might guess that this emotional roller coaster is the result of the loneliness which has received brief mention in my earlier posts, but you’d be wrong. This is an emotion I’m almost entirely unfamiliar with: jealousy.

Throughout my life, I’ve not been much of a jealous person. But recently the story has been different. There are so many beautiful, talented women I know whom, when I lie awake at night, I’m comparing myself to. And I always fall short. I find I second guess myself in nearly every department. I’m not nearly as pretty as her. She’s so much more creative than I am. I will never be able to make art the way she does. If only I had a voice like that.

It’s as if I’m consciously walking away from the sunshine and then wondering why I’m so cold.

You’ll never get anywhere through comparison.

A good friend told me the way to overcome an all-consuming jealousy was through celebration. 
Celebrate the person for all their uniqueness, for the gifts God gave them.
And then celebrate myself for my uniqueness and the gifts God gave me.

I’ve never received such practical advice.

For I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

So today, instead of comparison, I choose celebration.
Instead of clouds and 40 degrees, I choose the warmth and comfort of a late-morning sun.
And to those I previously demonized through my own envy, I celebrate you; I celebrate your art, your perfect hair, the way you know how to play every instrument and sing the way I imagine we all will one day in heaven.
Come dance in the sunshine with me.

Sincerely,
Kendra Leigh

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but every time I would try I felt I couldn’t start it properly so I’ll just give you the facts. On January 9, my Grandma Sharon was diagnosed with Stage III cancer. After a surgery to remove a tumor in her colon, they discovered it was cancerous and the cancer was in her lymph nodes as well. Today, she had her first chemo treatment. She will have a chemo treatment every two weeks for the next six months. The prognosis is good. The cancer is in no other organs and the doctors expect the chemo will clear it out of her lymph nodes. Praise be to God!

But what’s affected me the most during this process has nothing to do with medical reports (although there’s a good chance Grandma doesn’t feel this way.) What has affected me the most, and in the best way, is watching my Grandma through it all. I’ve always known my Grandma to be a wonderful woman of God. From a young age I’ve looked up to her as a role model and inspiration. She would always encourage me as a kid to memorize scripture, to read my bible faithfully, to always attend church. And not only that, but she’s been a continuous example of what it means to be joyful in Christ. I hardly know anyone, except for her two daughters (my mom and Aunt Christy,) who know how to turn any moment into one of laughter. All three of them are pranksters and jokesters, in the greatest way. She always played with me as a kid and sang to me. She would sing “Beautiful Feet” a child’s gospel song as she would draw funny faces on the soles of my feet and on the feet of my cousins encouraging us, reminding us that “beautiful are the feet that bring good news.” And boy, has she been an example of that to me my entire life.

The joy has not stopped since her diagnosis. I read her journal on CaringBridge whenever there is a new post about her journey. Every post brings me great joy. She shares about the opportunities she’s been given to pray with others and tell people about the great God that we serve. She shares verses God has given her as encouragement. She tells of laying in bed reciting scripture, which she so accurately states is more rewarding than counting sheep, a true testimony to the value of the lessons she’s instilled in me since childhood. And yet, she is so authentic. She admits she wishes that she didn’t have to travel this journey, but that she does look forward to how God will use her through this. The joy is not false, but rather a trust in God that has manifested itself in the most beautiful form.

Thank you, Grandma for showing me time and time again what it looks like to put Jesus first, to trust in Him and His will even when that might seem nearly impossible. You are an incredible woman and I am eternally grateful for your influence and involvement in my life. Keep living the way you do and God will certainly continue to use you to share His love, as you already are. I love you so much and I pray for you everyday and will continue to do so until you are healed of this disease. It seems it’s almost harder for me to trust in God with this than it has been for you, but by your example and the power of the Holy Spirit, I am putting you in His hands, trusting he will be faithful to you, to us your family.

Thank you for everything, Grandma. You have beautiful feet.

Sincerely,
Kendra Leigh

I started to become disgusted with myself. I walked out of work one day this week and noticed how close the Space Needle was. How had I not noticed this before? On the drive home, I saw a tree that stuck out to me. It was significantly larger than the others around it and majestically beautiful. I drive by this tree every day and had never taken note of it. I realized what had been happening to me: I was becoming so wrapped up in my schedule, my routine, my emotions (still feeling a little lonely, by the way) and I forgot to look for the beauty in the world around me. God has put so much work into making this world beautiful. And what a brilliant job He’s done! I encourage you today to go for a walk or drive you’ve been on before, but this time make a point to see the hand of our Creator in it.











Sincerely,
Kendra Leigh

You know when you redo (or in my case, get a brand new bedroom) and three months go by and you get that itch to redecorate?…. Anybody?…. Guys?… Must just be me.
Redecorating is my biggest weakness. I love designing and decorating and redoing my room. Right now, especially, I’m feeling the need to upgrade a little. This is partially because I need a new duvet cover really bad, so why not upgrade the rest of my room too, right?

I will be buying some of these products:
bedding, floral pillow, velvet pillow

And plan on making the others:
string garden, jar lamps, fox pillow, leaf map, crate night stand, painted vintage coat rack, tree branch rack, chalkboard

It might take awhile to get everything finished, but this is my goal.
Can’t wait to show you how it all turns out.

Sincerely,
Kendra Leigh

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