My dad was a Catholic priest.


How’s that for an attention-getter?


I’m sure your brain is now intensely processing, trying to figure out how this happened. ;)


He was a priest before meeting my mother, a pretty young thing working in the rectory office.


But that is a whole other story.


What’s important is that he left the priesthood and married my mom.

Two years later I came along.


I was doused with holy water as a baby in the Catholic Church.


I attended CCD classes every Saturday morning for years.


My mom taught my first communion class at our dining room table.


I received my Confirmation.


As far as Sacraments went, I was moving right along.



I recall praying to God as a child when my favorite super ball went missing.  I then proclaimed a miracle when I discovered it at the bottom of my cow-shaped toy box.


I prayed ever-more-fervently when my dad abandoned Frisky (the family dog) at the skating pond because he grew tired of waiting for the chubby gray Schnauzer to emerge from the woods. I remember sobbing in my parents’ bathroom, begging God to keep him safe.  This story also had a happy ending.


I believed in God, I leaned on Him in moments of desperation, but sadly, after all of those years spent in church, I did not understand the basic message of the Gospel.


Oh, I understood that Jesus was the son of God and that He was crucified.


I understood that he was buried and on the third day rose again.


But what I did not understand, was why this was such amazing news.


I did not understand that I was a sinner.


I did not understand that my sin separated me from a holy God


I did not understand that no amount of good works, morality, or religious activity could gain me acceptance with God or gain me entrance into heaven.


I did not understand that I was in need of a savior.


I did not grasp that Jesus came to bridge the gap, dying for my sins,

and that I need only accept His amazing gift.


I had never heard the ‘s’ word.


You know…‘Salvation’.


So basically I entered high school with an incomplete picture of God.


I began studying biology under an amazing teacher.  He made learning so much fun and perhaps I even had a small crush on the man and his goofy smile.;)


I marveled over the way biology explained away so many mysteries in the world.  I was spellbound by cellular organization, the DNA molecule, and genetics. This was eye-opening stuff!


When my biology textbook detailed the chemical evolution of cellular life from a primordial soup, I bought it.


Chemosynthesis was not categorized as a ‘theory’ in my head, it was labeled ‘fact’.


And when chemosynthesis became fact, God became fiction.


My science book gave lots of explanations to support its seemingly valid theories on the origin of life.


In contrast, I had no supporting evidence for God as the Creator.


I made sense of it all in my head this way…


People find this world scary.  They are afraid of all the uncertainties, the unpredictability frightens them.  Therefore, they have invented this mythical explanation of how the world operates.  They believe they can beg and plead through prayer, earn favor through good works, ultimately winning the affections of an all-powerful God who reigns over us and controls everything, such that they feel some degree of control over their destiny. 


So yes, in my head, religion/God became a myth, developed by/for the faint-of-heart to assuage their fears. It was a security blanket of sorts.


I went off to college in Boston and became a biology major.  I was deeply submerged in the scientific community where macroevolution was seemingly the only acceptable explanation.


Religion was for the ignorant, those who did not understand. I admittedly looked down upon people of faith.  They were silly.  Just silly.


And yet my mind reeled because I couldn’t make complete sense of my existence.  What on earth was I here for?  Why did any of this matter? Morality seemed to lack any supportive backbone.


I could not shake the feeling that I was just a little blip in someone else’s science experiment.  An organism in someone else’s petri dish, whereby I was being observed, my response to different stimuli being duly noted.


This world full of struggles, sickness, and pain…it could certainly get a little depressing at times.  And all this overcoming…just to be buried six feet deep in the end? Senseless.


Then I met Duff, and it didn’t really matter so much that I was blindly wandering through life.  Because you know what?  Blindly wandering through life together, was kind of fun. Okay, a lot of fun. We were in love and we were happy.  We were free.


We moved to North Carolina because we could.


We got married.


We made plans for our life together.


We wanted a dog, at least three kids, and a nice home.


Duff worked full-time as a software developer and I attended nursing school.


I witnessed a woman give birth for the first time as a student nurse and began bawling at the miracle of it all, but that is irrelevant.


I became pregnant with our first child because this was something I wanted more than anything else in my life.


I narrowly escaped death on the OR table during delivery and had only my lucky stars to thank.


Our daughter was perfect.


Life was good.


And then we began to meet the ‘crazies’.


People who didn’t swear.


People who didn’t drink.


People who saved themselves for marriage.


People who spoke the truth.


People who had only ever been ‘homeschooled’.








People who believed the Bible was much more than a silly story.


People who believed the Bible was the inerrant word of a very real God.



Now we had been questioned by others before…


and we had already agreed, that one day we might reconsider the possible validity of the bible.


But yoooou knoooow…we stayed busy.


Never got around to it.


Now things were different though.


We had a new responsibility. We had a baby.


And according to these ‘crazies’, if we were wrong about all this, not only would it mean no heaven, it would mean eternal damnation.


It seemed to us…we had an obligation here.


You know…to know for sure. :/


Because it wasn’t just our two lives that would be affected anymore…we had a child to consider.


So we opened a bible and started skimming through it.


Ahhh yes. It was all very familiar to us.


The ‘crazies’ recommended-


The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict’ and ‘The Case for Christ


They gave us a tape filled with Rich Mullins music.


We hesitated, unsure if any of this was for us.


These people were ‘out there’.


We were decidedly happy with life as we knew it.


We hit the pause button.



But you know what?


This whole parenting thing was pretty dern tricky when you had no master plan.


What was right, what was wrong, when there were no absolutes?


And how do you explain what you’re asking of a child if there is no guideline for behavior? No moral standard? No example?



We were still wandering.



Then something clicked with us.


It wasn’t Christ, but homeschooling.


We wanted to be with our daughter.

Why send her away to be taught by a complete stranger?

We didn’t necessarily love our own school experiences growing up.

Letting our child decide what to learn and how fast to learn seemed like a pretty cool idea.


We set off for our first homeschool conference, complete with a bunch of ‘crazies’.


They prayed before they did anything.


The men seemed to think they were in charge.


The women had a dozen children and wore long skirts.


They all drove small buses.


They made their own bread and had homebirths.


It was clear that I was visiting an alternate universe.


Yet…they did make some good points about a whole lotta stuff.



I grew more conflicted.


I favored conformity and disliked change.


I held on tightly to the reins that were my life, refusing to give up control.


Yet a tiny part of me yearned to step aside. So tired it was of trying to make sense of everything. Weary from the burden a faithless life places on one’s shoulders. Exhausted from the worries over tomorrow and the ‘what-ifs’.  Depressed from the sickness, suffering, and poverty. Destroyed by the cut-throat nature of this world.


This little flame inside me grew, but my stubborn hands still clutched, refusing to surrender.


And then I felt entirely pursued.  


He knew I had not the courage to take another step toward Him.

He came to me at night when I closed my eyes in vivid dreams.


I stood on a small island in the Pacific, on an isolated sandy beach.  A giant tsunami looming above me, threatening to take my life. I had to make a decision.


I choose you, God.



The dreams were always slightly different.  A different location perhaps.  A different catastrophic event.  But they all involved me facing certain death, and making a choice.  And in that moment of fear, I would run to Him, into His strong, safe embrace, flooded with relief.


I choose you, God.


Then the sun would rise and clarity became clouded with doubts, and doubts built uncertainty.


I loved my life, I didn’t want it to change.


But He just kept on pursuing.


I picked up the book ‘The Case for Christ’ written by Lee Strobel and I could not put it down.  He was out to prove his wife a crazy, Christian lunatic.  He was asking all the questions that relentlessly popped into my head. But he was asking them of experts and proceeding logically until his intellect was satisfied.  And as Mr. Strobel’s doubt faded, so did mine.


Friends of mine from nursing school, were suddenly studying the bible and talking Christian lingo.


I was invited to a bible study one morning but decided to run in the other direction.  I wasn’t ready to associate with these people.

I went to my normal hangout, a local coffee shop, where Cotton-the-Clown played a red guitar and sang favorite children’s songs. I was safe.


He pursued me yet again.


Cotton picked up her microphone and began her gig in prayer that morning for a youngster battling cancer.  She had never done anything like that previously.  Weird.


He reached me.


The Rich Mullins’ tape that a ‘crazy’ had given us was playing in my black Honda Accord.  I had declared it the worst-music-ever and yet now I found myself listening to the lyrics.


I was driving through the streets of downtown Raleigh as that terrible music played, on a weekday morning, sometime after rush hour.


The streets were empty, yet I was surrounded.  There was no place left to run.  I was too weary to let my pride and stubbornness rob me of His peace any longer.


I believe, Lord.

I believe you sent your only Son to die for my sins.

I accept Your gift.


And yet this little prayer did not erase all doubt and confusion.


It did not mean immediate, earth-shattering change for me.


I am a professed gradualist, you know. ;)


My heart made a leap of faith but now my mind was sort of demanding proof.


I said something like this-


Being that you’re God and all, make it so I’m pregnant this month, even though Duff has been away, and the odds are very much stacked against us.


And do you know, that a few weeks later, my morning coffee made me sick and a pregnancy test came back positive?


I was stunned.


But I’m ashamed to report that the doubter in me immediately resurfaced, rationalizing how maybe all of this was possible apart from Him?


Can I just say that I don’t recommend wrestling with God in this way.

Not really my best moment.

But I can say with certainty, that He knows me.


He knew He had to go a step further with me to really drive home the message.


Kelly, I can give and take away.


So it was, at 12 weeks I began spotting and lost our second baby.


And my legs shook in my boots.  He had really gotten my attention.


Yup, He had my full attention.


But where did He fit in with bread making and long skirts?


Where did He fit in with my life?


These were the questions I wrestled with next.


And while I dug in my heels, questioning and resisting…my husband grabbed hold.


He too had become a believer.


Duff embraces change and all things unfamiliar, with reckless abandon and zeal.


In a week’s time, he was more than ready to become a missionary and move to Uganda.


Oh he is so vey much my opposite, the perfect completion of me.




In the absence of my husband’s balancing ways, I very much doubt, I would ever have chosen the narrow path.


But He joined us together knowing all this.


Knowing that I would resist and Duff would jump head first.


Knowing I would cling to the reins, when Duff abandoned all caution.


He knew.


And to think He chose to lead us both down that path together, for that I am eternally grateful, for I can not imagine it any other way.


But the tugging and the pulling was difficult, we had to figure out our life together looking through an entirely different lens.


And my eager husband, he chose the very best approach, he waited on me.


He waited for me to be ready.  He did not pressure, nor did he press.  He lovingly came along beside me knowing I had to reach my own conclusions and figure out this new life for myself.


And God, He was amazing.  He saw how we needed space, free from expectations and established norms.  He recognized that we required time to understand what our life would now look like with Jesus as part of the equation. And so He picked us up and moved us to Wisconsin.


But what’s really strange is…despite my efforts to draw this story of how God intervened in my life to a close, I now realize that’s impossible.


You see that moment, when you invite God into your life, is most certainly the beginning.

But in choosing that new beginning, you relinquish the end.


You have given your life over to Him, that you may have life eternal, and your life will now be eternally shaped by Him.


So as I reflect back there is no breaking point where I can neatly tie-off my story in a bow.


There has been continuous growth and change, as He molds me into a more perfect instrument.


There have been trials that have refined and drawn me closer to His ways.


And God will continue to persevere, ceaselessly shaping me until His will is fulfilled.


Thank you, God for pursuing me and for sending the ‘crazies’ into my life.










  1. Mother’s maiden name was O’Melia. O’ was removed when family came from Ireland to England. Grandfather, Patrick Melia killed on Lusitania, he was part of the crew. Are you any relation?

  2. Ken Auer says:

    It is so neat to see how God allows us crazies to be used in His work.

    Through those early years, us crazies were wondering if you would ever give in! But God knew exactly how you needed to be pursued and blessed many crazies along the way to be a part.

    We’ve invited someone over tonight that God seems to be pursuing. Not sure if he is coming to be around us crazies or not tonight, but I pray that God is pursuing Him just perfectly.

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