It’s a series about people just like you and me, who decided to do something different.
They decided to change their life, or the lives of others around them.
They are inspiring.
They are making an impact right where they are.
They are passionate.
They are full of life.
And they are willing to share their story.
I first “met” this week’s LifeChanger at the Quitter conference last year. I say “met”, because I connected with her on Twitter at the conference. We never met in person then, and still haven’t. For the longest time, I could never remember her first name, because I just knew her as Keeks! Her website and email and twitter all have Keeks somewhere in them.
Keeks is her nickname. Her real name is Kristen. And she is one of those people who I just instantly liked. We share common interests in books and movies, have a circle of online friends that overlap, and support each other’s blogs. It’s kind of crazy how that happens all online sometimes.
She has a really interesting story. I love her honesty and willingness to share from the heart, even when she knows some people may not like it. One of the ways that we connected recently had to do with the movie, Blue Like Jazz. She and I both saw sneak previews, and posted about our experience. But, she did something afterwards that I thought was super cool. I’ll let her give you a little background about herself, and tell you more about what she did in her own words.
Me: Tell us more about Keeks
I’m the third daughter, third child with a normal and Christian upbringing. I am the baby of the family and if you’ve read anything about birth order – I’m the description to the finest detail mixed in with only child. My mom and dad provided a lifestyle of “you only live once, so let’s go on vacations” – I’m thankful for this because my dad died when I was 16. My sisters are 10 and 12 years older.
Early memories include being drug to every church event under the sun, being a very young kid who tagged along at every youth group activity. I learned from my parents and sisters how to tee-pee, fork yards, pull pranks (although I’m a hopeless prankster because I’m too scared of consequences), and surprising people with a van wired with a special horn that honked out songs (Like “Happy Birthday” or “For he’s a jolly good fellow”).
The time my dad was sick and died was about a two year “process”. I really sunk into a funk and would rebound often. I’d say now at 32, I finally feel really good and really hopeful for the future. His death just about did me in. BUT at the time my father was so sick, I met my best friend. Our friendship is the answer to both our family’s prayers for a Jonathan/David Godly friendship. Our friendship is one of my reminders of what love does exponentially.
Again I’m 32. Single. And still wondering what the hell? Did I piss God off so much He is making me take the Paul route? I’ve lived in Oklahoma all my life. I am one of the weirdest people I have ever met. At least I realize I’m weird and I’m really trying to move into fulling embracing that. I like Wes Anderson movies like they are some sort of legal drug.
My day job is at a community college in the library. Most people think I am a librarian – I’m not. Most days I refer to myself as a faux librarian. I am an introvert. So I have a ratio of one day of people, 3 days at home to recover. My real job? The one I am passionate about is: I’m a writer. The books at the library are my source of comfort and inspiration.
Me: How were you impacted by Blue Like Jazz? And what did you do about it?
Blue Like Jazz the book came into my life soon after it released. And as is my quirkiness: I rejected it. I don’t like trendy stuff (and I felt like everyone was reading it), but in 2010 I found myself unemployed, drifting, and the book called to me. Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller. Dang. His writing is so conversational. So easy stream of consciousness. And it just snuggled up next to my heart and hasn’t left.
This book was more than just a conversation starter about the Church, more than essays about a man finding God outside of religion – this book was just so honest. Unwaveringly truthful in a sea of books that want to give you a to-do list to discover you, God, passion. I liked that each time I’ve read the book since then – it’s different because I’m different.
And then there is Blue Like Jazz the movie. Can I just convey my excitement that this movie has caused bewilderment between all camps of people? This movie – all its rawness, all its messiness, all its quirkiness – it is just so me. Or rather I can just relate. The bumbling along, the crisis of faith, the immaturity, the people pleasing – oh my gosh – the humour — all of it just made me think that there are movies, writers, actors, directors, etc that get people like me…we are some crossbreed of all things and we just want to be known. No judgement, no critiques, no fixing – accepted, simply accepted.
I knew about the upcoming movie and the story behind it because my oldest sister had helped fund it when the movie lost its financial backers. I was inspired. I didn’t have the money, but I knew I wanted to help. I joined Civil Disobedience. Civil Disobedience is a group that promoted the movie. Every week or so we would received assignments to go out and create some attention toward Blue Like Jazz. I was a lousy civil disobedient. I mean I did some of the tasks, but I was trying to do things quietly and I kept placing stuff up around my work. Writing blogs, tweeting. I wasn’t a person dressed up as a sexy carrot, you know?
But then the group received a challenge to take a picture with a sign that you filled in: I misrepresented God….and I’m sorry.
I wanted to do something a bit different. Something bold for me. I went home. Grabbed a stack of notecards and started writing. Each one, each note, each thought.
I realized I was acting like God, but didn’t know God. Humbling. Very humbling. I was misrepresenting Him.
I took the cards and left them in various places – doors, windows, mirrors, my church, bathrooms. There is one card I wrote to those who work at abortion clinics and I’m in the process of sending them personalized cards. I had never considered their story. Never considered that the God I know and I love – would simply love them. It’s heartbreaking to see how destructive our attitudes, our judgements, our distancing of ourselves from things is not keeping us safe – it’s wounding our souls, it’s wounding others’ souls.
I actually still carry these cards with me. This is kind of like a touchstone for me. I write the cards, I leave them places, and it’s out of my hands.
Blue Like Jazz helped me step outside of myself. Blue Like Jazz gave me hope.
Hope that in all my quirkiness I am not alone. What Donald Miller and Steve Taylor have done is broken down a barrier between the church bubble and the rest of the world. And I love love love this.
Me: What do you want others to know?
Strive to live your life undeniably real. Each of us has so much to offer, so much to learn. My greatest fear was that my writing would push people away; instead, I’ve found people who embrace my irreverence, who embrace me – they accept me for me.
My fear was completely laughable when I received this tweet:”@keeks4prez Just read your latest post. You got me at f*ckers and God ordering your steps. Hooked!”
Also, find something that inspires and challenges you and put it into action. You will be amazed at what happens along the way.
Living transparently is such a struggle for me; each time I publish, each time I sit down and write I am facing the fear. And I am weakening fear’s grip on me. But it is hard to be unflinchingly honest. I will write something like the unicorn post and then all I want to do is delete it.. But I know I am not alone. There may be one other person who needs to hear these words. And so I leave my posts up. Unflinchingly honest means I have to be vulnerable.
Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your story. Your words are beautiful and encouraging. As your blog tagline says, you are “living a better story by sharing yours.” I am so thankful to know you, and look forward to the amazing ways that God will continue to use you and your story. You are truly a LifeChanger!