To Me, To Live


Permission to be Inadequate

Good day to all who may end up reading this, my name is Derick Kelly and I secretly desire to be Superman.

It’s true.

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Oct 5

Do You See It?

There I was, sitting in a dimly lit gymnasium. Listening to music in which I couldn’t tell you the artist or song. But this particular act caught my attention. On the side, away from the main stage, a student was painting a portrait with broad strokes on a canvas as big as he was. I watched with interest. As a non-painter, what he was doing seemed to have no rhythm. Nothing made sense. He put paint in places that seemed to have no business being touched. The whole time I only saw an over sized piece of paper with random blobs and strokes of badly placed paint. But he was working with end knowledge I did not have. He knew where he was going. And so, I watched in amazement as the random stains of paint began to spell out the letters MGN, the acronym for our annual talent showcase. What was, for the longest time, chaotic and random became orderly and tasteful; can we use the word beautiful?

What’s really cool is something about the painting spoke to the artist. No one had ever created a painting exactly like the one he made. No one. Whatever beauty the painting had to offer was a reflection of the young mans own artistic imagination.

A man writes about the vanities of life. The purposelessness of everything. The inevitability of death. He is searching desperately for meaning in this world. But then this man known as “the preacher” gives an assurance. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13) Even in the chaos and apparent meaninglessness he believed that someone was making things beautiful.

Someone knows what they are doing with the brush strokes.

Now, what I have failed to tell you is that, the someone is God. The student painting the letters MGN is a metaphor for what God is doing, what he has done, and how he is using you and me in the masterpiece.

So, what about you? When you look around do you see chaos and meaninglessness? Or can you see things being made beautiful?

Look again.

share life with the dead: God Made Me Do It!


When I was two or three years old, I would occasionally spend weekends at my grandparents’ house. It was about as incredible as any toddler could imagine. They fed me great food, gave me toys…paradise.
At the time, my grandfather was a professor of graduate students at Pitt. Big deal. On a…

I Want to Be…

Oftentimes when dealing with adolescents and calling I ask a question. A question that has been given much thought by these kids ever since they were young and in pull ups. The question is one that very few have any idea how to answer. When you get into the world, what do you want to do? As children many have answered this question with, firefighter, policeman, or pink power ranger (my little brother was that last one). However, something has changed since childhood for many. What used to be a question answered so cheerfully and optimistically has now become one filled with uncertainty and lack of clarity. By no means am I an expert but I have talked with a variety of different middle-high school age kids coming from different backgrounds and few can answer the question with any tangible goals. The answer is often “I don’t know”.
As a society this question has become one of the, if not the most important question we ask our youth. I am beginning to believe that this is exactly why for so many of them answering it seems an impossible task. We are concerned with doing. Life can be boiled down to a formula, a task that needs to be done. The notion when we ask this question is that life is all about what we do. But, isn’t it bigger than that? Isn’t life about who we are in relation to all things. And shouldn’t who we are affect what we do, not the other way around?
So I think we need to shift our attention. Kids have trouble knowing what they want to do because they have never answered the question who do I want to be. Being and Doing are not synonymous. We need to start asking more important questions of our selves and of our youth. Questions like: what do you stand for? What is important in life? What traits do you admire in others? As you grow, who do you want to be? Start asking questions that force a reflection into who we are; not what we do.    
Once this next generation (and us for that matter) understands who they are and who they are made to be, I believe that the question we have been asking of them will be answered with much more clarity. 
Who we are created to be is the well we draw out of when discerning what to do.
Someone once observed that we are human beings, not human doings.

A Whisper Home

One foot in front of the other I begin to think about the road signs in my life, just as the book had instructed me to. After reading a passage out of Jeremiah the book encouraged me to meditate over the idea of a road, with signs and twists and turns and directions. Think of the road of your life, think about the signs that are along that road, think about the people who have placed those signs there. Was it you? Was it a friend? Was it a parent? Was it God?

A sign appeared in my mind. Small, with four words on it’s face. 

I Love You.


That’s it. For a while that’s all I could think of. That one road sign.

There are others that flashed briefly through my mind. One said, “Get a Job”, I think my mom put that one up. Another said “Responsibility, figure it out”, which was most likely hammered in by close friends and family. But ultimately my mind made it’s way back to that first sign that I imagined.

With the road sign still floating in my heart, I looked to my right where a dirt road lie. The road beside my destination; a cemetery. While I traveled up the hillside I looked out over the grave stones and for a moment felt the presence of God in the air over the burials, warmly looking down over me, with love, drawing my attention to the stories carved into the head stones. 

A young boy with the last name Robertson, 6 years old.

An old man with a flag planted firmly in the, now hardened, soil.

A couple, born around the same year, one 24, the other 87.

Innocent face with so much to offer; died at 6. War veteran lived a full life; died in his 70’s. “Til’ death do us part” became reality to a man; alone for 63 years. Each of these stories seemed to whisper tenderly, gently, almost pleadingly, “Live”.

My second sign was the shape of a grave stone with letters carved deeply into the rock, LIVE! 

From the cemetery I began to head back. While walking I journaled in my book. Reading over the final question that asks simply, Where am I headed? Where does my road lead? My eyes read this question and I thought, I’m going home.

The first sign I imagined came back but this time I realized it wasn’t a sign. It was a billboard. Top right corner an arrow pointed in a direction. No map, just a big arrow. And bellow the billboard stood a stop sign. It was different. Not red, no, this sign was a much calmer color, something of a light blue. It wasn’t screaming. It wasn’t a commanding stop sign. It was quiet. It was an inviting stop sign.

It’s God’s quiet whisper saying, Stop, look around, love the lost, care for the careless, pray for peace, listen to my voice.

I find myself stopping for this sign. I find myself turning around and, to my amazement, realizing that this was not the first sign like this. Just the first one I noticed.

Dumbfounded I stand there and slowly turn to find the billboard staring back at me. Reminding me.

I Love You.


And directing me, not with a detailed road map, but with an arrow, a big one, pointing me home.

Maybe it’s not about how long it takes, or how fast we go, or how efficiently we get there. 6 years, 70 some, or even 63 years without your beloved wife; none of this changes the instruction. 

Live because he lives. Love because he loves us. 

God doesn’t typically speak in the busyness of our lives. Not to me at least.

He speaks on walks to the cemetery. He whispers in the affirming words of a child. He wraps his arms around you in the embrace of a father. He smiles in the joyful tears of a new mother. He speaks life through the pain of a broken heart.

Maybe God speaks at the oddly colored stop signs on our journey home.

Check out 1 Kings 19: 11-13