Category Archives: Beginnings

The tradition of community

Today was the 1st Annual Kernan Christmas Party.

I cleaned the house like a madwoman quoting my mom and wearing slippers all day.

I baked the week away with a ridiculous ratio of cookies to guests.

We opened our home and partook in tradition.

I have been feeling an anxiousness, a stirring in my heart that is telling me to go home. I feel it when my friend’s Facebooks transition from scenes of dorms and college life to familiar scenes of home and comfort. I feel it as leave gets approved for those stationed here and they return to their roots. I feel it as if the colder temperatures tell me to migrate. It’s time to go they seem to call to me. This restlessness is robbing me of the festivities of Christmas and it wears on Matt and I like a heavy fatigue. The miles between here and our hometown seem insurmountable.

The Annual Thomas Christmas party was born from this same heartsickness. I can hardly call it homesick because I am home. Though in a part of the country I never thought I’d live, I’m with the man that I said home will be with for always. But there is a legitimate heartsickness that desires comfort and community and simply the ease of being known. My mom, one of the strongest individuals I have met to date, felt this stirring too when she first got married and had her little family of Dad and I. She missed Aunt Lucille’s annual Christmas party. I can practically see the twinkling of the house, the aroma of dishes from relatives outdoing each other of Christmas treats, and the bustling of a house full of family.

From this the Thomas family tradition was born and from that the Kernan family tradition was born. We carried the notes of Christmas past in our preparations: veggie trays that mimic the towers my dad would make, gingerbread men with frosting caps and mittens, peppermint bark that my baby sister makes annually with pride, my great Aunt Lucille’s breadsticks, Alaska coffee percolated in the kitchen, tradition exuded from our humble abode.

We are made with an innate desire for fellowship, connection, and relationship. The relationship we have as the church as the bride of Christ is mirrored when the church loves each other well and loves others well. This desire for connectedness was tangibly felt in every smile at the party. I could perceive the hunger for fellowship and knew it was given and received by all. I know this because I felt in myself and recognize that we are made for this. The tradition of Christmas parties, holidays, and the like are more than the good food and legacy: it’s about a coming together and bringing others in. The Christmas party is not the tradition it is if no one comes. The tradition is in community.

As Matt and I continue to make traditions, I pray that our focus will be on what fosters fellowship, what embodies open doors and open hearts, and what welcomes all into a community of connectedness. I am overwhelmed to remember that it’s bigger than me, it’s not an issue of “us and them”, it’s a collected us and a call to make sure there are no “them” on the outside.

Because we’re made for that.


I’ll Be Crying in My Cocoa

When I was in fourth grade I ran for class president.

Spoiler alert: I lost.

Side note: Enjoy all of these photos of me around the time I was in 4th grade, you’re welcome.

I kept my composure throughout the whole day. Through the celebration of the president that was elected, math class, English reading, lunch, recess, art… everything. I hopped in the “big old rolling turd”, which is what we lovingly called our suburban at the time, and as soon as my mom asked me how my day was I burst into tears. She was probably alarmed when my face turned a grotesque shade of red, tears cascaded down my face, and my breathing mimicked someone trying to start up an old car. I explained how I lost. It felt like incredible failure. I felt like I had disappointed my family, myself, and felt devastated that who I wanted to be and who I was did not line up (note: I recognize that this was just a fourth grade class president election but it was a devastating loss for my fourth grade psyche). My mom turned the car around and we drove immediately to Island Espresso. She ordered me a cocoa and as she let me cry she told me “It’s okay to cry in your cocoa.”

There was a season of my life when I wore a poncho pretty much everyday. 

This became a big part of who I am. The principle about crying in your cocoa is by the time the cocoa is done, it’s time to pull yourself together and move on and do better. The whole crying in your cocoa process says: “look, this sucks. And you are so allowed to cry. But don’t keep crying. Life moves on and so do you. Cause you can do hard things.” Thanks cocoa. Whenever anything goes down in the Thomas family how do we grieve? Let’s go cry in our cocoa (or whatever your respective “cocoa” is. I have substituted coffee and gelato in times of despair).

This is just one of many failures I string around that was followed by crying in cocoa. And it’s not always your fault. Sometimes crying in cocoa is because things happen that aren’t even your fault. Sometimes you just don’t win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes someone is better than you. Sometimes bad things happen. There are lots of reasons to cry in your cocoa.

Oh yes. 

I’m in the middle of crying in my cocoa for some things that happened this week. Friends, this week has been the worst. Like, all the things that could go wrong did. I’m not going to go into details because I’m tired and I’m kinda done hearing my own words talk about it all. Just trust me when I say this week felt like a tsunami had come through my life and I’m left trying to figure out what to salvage and what’s far too gone.

And one of the questions I’m wrestling with is: God why did you take away things you have provided me? You answered my prayers with these things you gave me, why are you letting them be taken from me?

Look how plentiful our garden is. 

I know the Christian answer. I know God is faithful, I know He provides. I know God is just and love, and the Author of all Creation and in total control. I know God is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and everything. I know and believe these things in my heart. But my heart still hurts. I feel blindsided and abandoned. I feel like the Psalmist crying out in Psalm 10:1 “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Why God?

To answer this question of why God takes away I sat and thought about accounts in the Bible where people had things taken away from them, or didn’t get things in the time they wanted, or suffered a loss of a sort. I didn’t actually open my Bible for this process. I just picked my brain for all the examples I could think of.

Ruth and Naomi lost their husbands.

Jonah lost his shade that God provided.

Hagar was thrown out by Abraham and Sarah.

Joseph was sold by his brothers.

Moses’ mother had to give up her son.

Hannah was barren for years.

The woman that bled for 7 years and nothing would cure her until she interacted with Jesus.

Job lost almost everything.

Let me assure you that my heart hurt is incomparable to what these examples are. But there is so much hope in these accounts. I looked at themes in each of the accounts I could think of. Sometimes people lose things or have to wait because of disobedience and they need correction. Sometimes these things happen so that a greater glory can occur. Sometimes these things occur so that God can grow in the individual in mighty ways. I don’t know where I fall in those categories. Honestly, I’m probably a little bit of all of them. I need so many things corrected in my life and my sin nature contests that I am a continual mess. I need to grow and continue pursuing God. And I can only hope that my life would be used to be a vessel for God to be glorified.

Kodiak’s version of a pumpkin patch. 

So I’m going to get back to crying in my cocoa. But I’m going to do it knowing that this isn’t something new. People have struggled with the same things that I’m going through. Bad weeks are not reserved for just me. God is not surprised by what I am feeling. I’m going to cry in my cocoa knowing that I serve a God who is faithful and has big plans. And I have to trust that his are better than mine. I’m in a waiting place right now figuring out which is fitting to the name of this blog and the reason why I started writing. And when I reach the bottom of that cup of cocoa (though I’m feeling like my equivalent will be a hazelnut latte today. We still call it cocoa when it’s used for grieving) I’m going to put my big girl panties on and deal with it.

But I keep showing up because I can do hard things and God made me purposefully. I don’t know what His plan is but I keep showing up. With cocoa in hand of course.

Birthdays are a big deal in my family. 


The Write Way Project

Once upon a time I hiked across Spain with my mom. I can easily be taken back there whenever I come across the rush of hiking, the symphony of languages, the taste of a Magnum ice-cream bar and further more when I write. When I write I am brought back to processing through my trek in the evening at a cafe down in the town square. I am brought back to my love of writing in school, to the point of annoyance, where timed writing was…dare I say…fun?

I started a blog after that summer with aspirations to be diligent at it. In part due to the blog format not being what I wanted and also in part to my insecurities, I put my blog on the shelf with other dusty relics of goals. I like to think I make goals, but too often I find my insecurities placing goals on the shelf due to comparing, feelings of inadequacies and perhaps fear.

But I am not made with a spirit of fear.

My insecurities are not me.

And perhaps simple things, like blog writing, are reminders to myself of those truths.

So we’re back at the beginning. I’m not sure where this will go and I’d rather not limit it. Perhaps it will be funny, helpful or successful but ultimately I’m going for honesty. I hope this to an open look at life and a celebration at the comedic relief that comes along the way. I’m kinda a hot mess, I hope that the expense of growing pains, learning curves, adventures and misadventures alike can bring joy and insight to whoever is reading.

My friends Kelly and Brooke got me excited again to write. My mom has always encouraged me and I have always gravitated towards it. The moment that sticks out and I hope to be a reminder as I stick to blogging is 5th grade.

Do I hear….story time?

With garbage bag ponchos rustling in the wind, I laughed in disbelief and ridicule that we are being asked to listen for birds. As a wise fifth grader, Outdoors School was the epitome of existence, the whole year lead up to it. Now, off on the mystical island of Camp Woody we were finally here, the end of the year and the most coveted adventure out of all of the grades. The weather could not damp our spirits but was soaking our beings. The most torrential rain Kodiak has even unleashed fell like grace on the community of fifth graders.

Downpour. Hurricanes seemed to pale in comparison to the wind and dumping of water we were getting. Boots served as portable oceans and garbage bags made for extra rain coverage. The plastic loudly being tossed by the wind, the bird watching guide was determined that we could hear and spot some birds.

“Or maybe the birds are smarter than us and are snuggled up in dry places…” I grumbled at the comical attempt to engage soaked fifth graders.

From birdwatching we went to walk around in the history lesson of Woody Island. This was the home stretch and then boots off, blankets on was the plan for all of us, visibly shivering in the downpour.

As we walked it was difficult to focus. The history was fascinating however and we perched up as we felt the rain relent a bit. As our guide talked animatedly she explained

“So much of this history has been collected thanks to journals of women. It would seem that perhaps history should be called herstory.”

Feeling my journal pressed against my back nestled in the dry inside of my backpack I felt a sense of purpose. That writing was beyond myself, could writing make a difference?

Herstory is a great motivator for picking up the blogging front again. I am not claiming that this humble blog or my writing in general will be successful or life changing. But I know I’m a writer.

Cheers to herstory.

And it begins again.