random crap you didn't know about Antarctica

Is it weird to be homesick for a place you've never been? I hope not because at various times after finishing a really immersive book series or long-running TV show (I don't think most movies are long enough), I'm homesick for that world. I can't be the only person who's ever been homesick for Hogwarts or for more time with the Adamas. 

Anyway, I'm currently homesick for Antarctica. I've been doing so much research about this amazing continent, particularly reading first-hand accounts from personal blogs of travelers to the region that I feel like I'm really missing out now. 

Here are my favorite things I've learned:

  • Most people's biggest complaint is the dryness, not the cold. Antarctica is a desert, and apparently you can't drink enough water or smear on enough Chapstick to combat the skin-cracking.
  • It's not always that cold. In Antarctic summer, it's often above freezing near the coast.
  • The "South Pole" itself has only had a permanent base since 1956 (Admunsen-Scott Base), and this station experiences one extremely long "day" and one extremely long "night" each year -- only one sunrise and one sunset for the entire 12 pages of a calendar.
  • Antarctica is vastly unexplored. The bits we've seen and the teeny weeny bits humans have studied don't even scratch the surface.
  • Antarctica is super big. Here's a size comparison from NASA showing the continental US (population 306 million) vs Antarctica (population 1,000 in winter and 4,000 in summer).
From https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/multimedia/fall11/antarctica-US.html

From https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/icebridge/multimedia/fall11/antarctica-US.html

  • Snowdrifts in Antarctica look a lot like sand dunes in the hot deserts.  And they have the BEST NAME EVER -- sastrugi. (Which sounds like something Italian I'd love to eat.)
From https://www.passcal.nmt.edu/~bob/passcal/antarctica/ant15.html

From https://www.passcal.nmt.edu/~bob/passcal/antarctica/ant15.html

  • The biggest station (McMurdo) has over 85 buildings and operates like a small city. Here's a live cam if you ever want to see the station. It has a hospital, a fire station, a post office, bars (yes more than one) and everything else you'd expect to make living their pretty efficient.

I want to go to there. -Me, quoting Liz Lemon


upward bound

Recap: We're doing "Upward Bound" at church this week, a VBS curriculum that uses a camping theme to teach kids the message of the Gospel of Luke.

The storyteller yesterday was leading up to a question and asked the kids if they knew who Jesus' cousin was. Best answer: Satan. (Sorry, but that's hilarious.)

There was one particularly awesome moment in our class this morning. Today's lesson was about the death of Jesus, so not a particularly happy story to tell kids.  My sis (the teacher) asked our group of five-year-olds questions as she told the story. She started with a review of the day before, discussing the temptation of Jesus in the desert. She'd been telling the kids how Satan had tried "tricky tricks" to mess up God's plan for our salvation.

She went through the story (mildly) of the arrest, flogging, and crucifixion, including how Simon carried Jesus' cross. She marched her Duplo man down the street she'd constructed and up to Golgotha on the piano. She relayed the final words of Jesus, how He'd prayed for God to forgive those who were mocking Him. At the last moment, she called out Jesus' words, "It is finished." 

She turned to the class and asked, "What do you think was finished?"

Guys, you know it's a class of five-year-olds. They should have been rearranging their socks and leaning up on two legs on their little chairs and staring at the ceiling tiles. But instead, we got three really awesome answers:

  • First hand in the air: Jesus' life 
  • Second hand in the air: Jesus' job on earth
  • Call out from the back (no hand-raising here): Satan's plan

Hallelujah! Yes! I started crying like a weirdo. It just hit me so deeply to hear a child talk about our Savior's death as ultimate defeat of His enemy's plan.  Dude, this is how the Gospel message reaches kids. 



vacation bible school

My four-year-old calls Vacation Bible School "BBS" which sounds too close to BB-8 for me to correct. There are some cute things that you just let go. My seven-year-old has nearly outgrown these cute things BUT I discovered recently that he doesn't know sunburn is kind of a weird singular/plural word. He pulled up his shirts sleeves while we were at Hershey Park recently and got a bright pink stripe on each arm. He told us that night he had "two sunburns." Adorbs.

So BBS. Our church hosts a huge Vacation Bible School each summer, which is awesome. It's four mornings of singing, story-telling, and shenanigans.  This year's theme is camping, "Upward Bound." We had 333 kids the first day, and 344 today. Yes, you read that right. It's a lot of kids!

There's nothing like watching God put the right people in the right position to pull off something amazing. The organizers, the teachers, the song leaders, the run-around-with-the-kids people -- everyone does what they are good at to make the whole train roll along efficiently. 

My favorite two moments of the first two days:

  1. The "big kids" (4th - 6th graders) sit in the balcony. When our song leader challenged them to sing louder this morning, they really took it to heart! They were singing Victory Chant, and she started with "Hail, Jesus, you're my king!" BOY when those kids echoed, I laughed joyously out loud!  I will never be able to contain my emotions when kids are singing their hearts out. So blessed by their singing.
  2. My sister is such a talented teacher. (The only reason I can type this without fear of her yelling at me for blogging about her is that she doesn't read my blog, haha!) Obviously, I've never been a 'fly on the wall' in the public school she teaches in, but I know she's stinkin' fabulous. It's the best part of my summer to watch her use her gifts for the Lord by sharing the gospel with a room full of five years olds. I wish I could say they were all rapt with attention, but the truth is, they're five. Some of them are picking their noses, a few are staring at the ceiling, one kid is tearing the plastic table cloth, and two are elbowing each other. BUT despite the distractions and wiggles, I believe God's message is getting through. Maybe not every word, but my sister walks the front of the room, using just the right voice and the right tone and the right props (Duplo blocks in this case) to share the day's story in a way that brings it to their level. I am so blessed to watch her honor the Lord with her talents.


"lonely in my own body"

**disclaimer** quotations below include colorful language

I don't know what stories Google recommends to you, but it recently recommended I read an op-ed from actress Melissa Rauch in Glamour.  So glad I did.  (If you watch Big Bang Theory, she plays Bernadette, the biologist with the super high-pitched voice.)

Anyway, the article is worth a read. It's her announcement of a current pregnancy after previously experiencing a miscarriage. Basically, there's a lot of fear and confusing emotions. And it's a very honest approach to the weirdness you feel.

Read her article here.

Best highlights of her essay:

  • Ideally, the more we talk about this issue, the more we can chip away at the unnecessary stigma around it, with the end result being that those of us struggling with loss and infertility will feel less alone. Perhaps with increased overall awareness, women dealing with these extremely challenging circumstances won’t feel like they’re getting sucker punched in the uterus by well-intentioned people.
  • "Miscarriage" by the way, deserves to be ranked as one of the worst, most blame-inducing medical terms ever. To me, it immediately conjures up an implication that it was the woman’s fault, like she somehow “mishandled the carrying of this baby.” F that so hard, right in its patriarchal nut-sack. 
  • I was constantly wishing that the feeling of being desperately lonely in my own body would dissipate. 

This final one put beautiful words in place for a feeling I myself have known but been unable to describe. Very well said. Lonely in my own body. Yes, yes. That is the feeling. An awful feeling, but vividly real.

Melissa ends by pointing out to any other women who have or are experiencing prenatal loss that "you are not alone." I agree -- many of us have experienced this devastation. But I have to add my own life lesson that has only become more real to me as I re-explore these feelings of loss, working on my new book on the topic: 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

It isn't the understanding of other women, another baby, my family, my husband, or good medicine that keeps me from being alone. It is and always will be ONLY Jesus. Faithful Savior. 


that donkey will bite you

Kids don't listen the first time. At least, not mine. I mean, they come the first time you say, "Want a snack?" but they certainly don't hear you say, "Don't hit your brother" and file that in the permanent log. That's the thing you repeat a thousand times.

We were at a petting zoo recently with my family. The kids were feeding this sweet old donkey (through a fence) -- kernels of corn right out of their hands. Excitement! But then the corn ran out. A youthful member of our party put his hand back through the fence. I cautioned him, "Buddy, don't put your hand through the fence anymore, the donkey will think you have food and bite you." Then I walked on. From behind me, I heard my sister say, "Honey, did you hear that? Don't put your hand in there, or the donkey will bite you." Moments later, she came to join me. I turned, exasperated, when I heard my other sister saying, "Don't put your hand through the fence or the donkey will bite you!" A moment later, I heard screams, shrieks, and panic that you'd expect from a four-year-old child who'd just had his hand bitten by a donkey.


It's hard to find compassion in those moments. (Somewhere, a really good mom would offer to kiss it, but that's pretty much making out with a donkey... so I vote no.)

Sarcasm aside, though, what are the things God repeats to me? I'm his child. And I'm the worst: petulant, ungrateful, disobedient, forgetful. And yet He patiently repeats Himself to me.

Here's what He's saying to me lately:

Do. Not. Be. Afraid.

The Bible says it 70 times, apparently. And yet, I'm afraid. I really am. I'm afraid because somehow, despite a perfect track record, I worry that God won't come through for me.  

We go to court again on Tuesday. And I'm afraid. The unknown is scary, but the future is already known (planned, ordained) by the One who loves us most.

So I guess He'll go on repeating it to me: Kelley, do not be afraid.

I'll hear Him saying "do not be afraid" when friends text me that they're praying for us. 

I'll hear Him saying "do not be afraid" when I kiss my boy goodnight. 

I'll hear Him saying "do not be afraid" when a song comes on Word-FM at just the right moment. 

I'll hear Him saying "do not be afraid" when I pray and there isn't a still, small voice or even a wind, an earthquake, or a fire... But there is a weird feeling when I'm able to swallow, and my palms are dry, and my heart is beating a normal cadence and I do close my eyes and drift to sleep. Because at that moment, the donkey didn't bite me.