Ordinary Stories, Extraordinary Impact

I couldn’t have paid those trolls enough. They illustrated my point perfectly.

Image by Andrzej Rembowski from Pixabay

Last year, Erin Garcia invited me to speak to her Shift88 women’s group. Shift88 is great—there’s always good breakfast; an inspirational speaker; and creative, encouraging ladies to meet. It’s the kind of place where hugs abound and nobody stands 6 feet away. This month, we decided meet online, rather than serve COVID with breakfast. As much as I miss hugging these ladies, I was pretty excited. My friends are all over the world, so now everyone can enjoy my musical, lighthearted, secret-spilling presentation, Ordinary Stories, Extraordinary Impact.

That makes me happy, but it’s not what makes me laugh.

What makes me laugh is the way the trolls helped out. When you watch the replay, you’ll be spared from the comments too gross to keep. You will notice an occasional pause, because while I was in the very midst of saying, “Being sexy doesn’t make a girl powerful,” creepazoids were posting things like “Show us your” (words I’ve deleted because I’m a lady).

Perfect timing.

We try to protect our kids from bullies by yelling at principals, other parents, and people online. I’d love a world without trolls, but I’m feeling very grateful right now. Mom taught me to keep my head up and keep going. She encouraged me to look past behavior to what’s driving it. In his later years, Dad encouraged me to stay true to myself and my purpose. In five different high schools, on stage and as a teacher, I’ve had mega-opportunities to practice pushing forward.

When the devil tries to disrupt God’s work, he becomes part of God’s triumph.

Thanks to my friends who stood by me today. You lifted me, and I love you.

If you missed the live broadcast, I bet you’ll enjoy the combination of song, stories and opportunities to come up with your own stories to share. Catch the replay through the following links:

Facebook

Youtube

Podcast Part 1

Podcast Part 2

Or look for 1 Moment Wiser on your favorite podcast source.

Sushi and Stories

Register now to make sure you get a seat!

What’s so great about being Kristi Bridges?

Hanging out with the fabulous peeps who AREN’T Kristi Bridges!

This month, you have two opportunities to enjoy them with me.

Saturday, March 14, from 1-3 pm, come to the new Tokyo Garden South on 108th and Memorial in Bixby, OK. I’ll be reading along with 5 other authors from several genres. Enjoy an entertaining afternoon and grab something to read during the April showers. If you’d like help writing your own book, you can pick our brains. If you prefer something tastier, order sushi and leave our brains intact.

Saturday, March 28, from 9:30-11:30 am, join me for the Shift 88 women’s group at Plumbline Ministries. I’ve designed a sensory, interactive experience to bring out the power in your personal stories.

I’ll see you there!

Solve a Mystery with Me

Story is my word for 2020.

Join me live for a mystery on www.Facebook.com/1MomentWiser Saturday, 1/11/2020 at 3pm CST, or watch the replay here. Can you help me solve this case?

If you’d rather read the story, just scroll down.

My friend JennRene Owens always gets me searching for a Word of the Year. This year, Story is my word, and today I have a mystery for you. I’d love your help solving it, and I’d also like to hear about any mystery you’d like solved. Let’s crowdsource some clues together!

Here goes.

I go to the woods to think. I often find myself looking inwardly at my mental list of things to do, so intently a bear could sit down beside me and I wouldn’t notice. When I go to the woods, I go (sucking sound with fingers pulling eyes from closed to open) and unstick my eyes so they can roll to the front. When I look out, up and around, I see God just EVERYWHERE.

On December 9, 2015, the inside of my head was a blizzard. Thoughts whirled and piled into drifts. I was torn between huddling in place (at least I knew where I was) and shivering, or moving into the white unknown. I put on my hiking shoes, picked up my keys and headed to the woods. The trees had been falling down that year. I didn’t know why. It had me a little worried, but I had spent the summer photographing the mushrooms which feathered the rotting trunks. Humans see something beautiful, like a tree, and think, “Hold it! Stay exactly like that forever.” We try to freeze beauty in place—if you don’t believe me, just count the face creams at Walgreens. Our Creator doesn’t work that way—change nurtures life.

December 9, blizzard in my head, I drove toward the woods, seeking understanding among the mushrooms. I never made it there.

“Kristi, what makes you cry?” my friend Kim had asked me. She’d called me around 5 on December 8 and said, “Hey, can I come over? There’s something I want to talk to you about.” We’d stood in my driveway until after midnight. At 2am, I lay in bed feeling the blood surge in my veins—HMMM—HMMM—HMMM—HMMM. I had a 7am meeting at work, but I could not sleep. Thankfully, it was a call-in meeting, so nobody knew I’d rolled out of bed at 6:45. Afterwards, I texted two of my coworkers and my bestie for prayer. Bob was the first to call, then Stacy.

Bob and Stacy are instructional designers. We’d met that summer and worked together to create training material for a system we were developing at my job. It was a night-and-day project. I often logged off at 11 pm and discovered programming changes at 8 am. When you work under that kind of pressure with people, you see what they’re made of. Bob and Stacy are golden.  

What makes me cry, Kim? Not much these days, but on December 9, 2015, I cried a lot as I talked to Bob and Stacy. 2 weeks prior, at the end of November, I’d put in my college application. My band had broken up, I’d lost my grandparents, and I was floundering as I tried to write a book. I had so much fun with Bob and Stacy that I’d decided to get a degree in Instructional Design.  The moment I hit the “Submit” button, my inner creative started sobbing uncontrollably.

That was a shock. Logical me said, “WHAT? What is going on? Stop crying!” Creative me sobbed, “Why? Why are you (hiccup) abandoning our dreams?” Logical me tried to argue, “It’s for our good. This is for us!” But creative me was too busy throwing things at logical me to listen.

Yep. I know. You’d have thought I was nuts.

Then came Kim on December 8. Now it’s December 9 and I’m still on the phone with Stacy as I put on my shoes,  grab my keys and head toward the woods. I’m not sure when we hung up, but I missed my turn for the highway. As I aimed for Yale, one word became a sign in my mind. “Cultivate.”

I turned the car toward Woodward Park. In the woods, everything springs up and grows in whichever direction it can, untamed and unencumbered by anything except the elements, competition, and time. At Woodward Park, every plant has a place of honor, where it’s pruned and treated and fertilized. At first, to my hippy heart, it seemed too structured, too tame. But I’d asked for a sign. I needed a word. You can’t ask God to speak if you aren’t willing to move when He does. I walked through the gardens and saw love.

Hmm, Love. That’s where today’s mystery comes in. But not yet.

Standing in my driveway December 8, Kim had rolled out a plan to help me create a conference with my friend JennRene. I hadn’t even known that was possible. Two years before, I’d told Julie Clinton at the Extraordinary Women’s conference, “I’d like to be doing this in 2 years.” It was a pipe dream, I had no idea how I’d do it. Now, as I prepared to pause my dreams and go back to school, it suddenly seemed possible.

As I walked at Woodward, my eyes turned outward to the red and brown leaves skirting the trees, the winter herbs in their beds, the rose bushes still bearing flowers. I saw love.

Literally………………..But not yet.

As I walked, the snow in my head melted and the conference theme unfolded. I thought of the (ahem) “compost” in my own life and knew “Cultivate” was a key word for our audience and for me. “Kristi,” Stacy had said, “you already know what you’re going to do.” She was right.

As I turned away from the Linnaeus Teaching Garden to descend toward the rose garden, this was written on the steps.

“I will love you every step of the way.”

What makes me cry? Those words. It’s been 4 years, 3 books, 2 conferences, nearly 1000 videos and amazing collaborations with dream breathers like Kim White and JennRene Owens. I’ve even had the opportunity to learn instructional design without student loans.

But I can’t go on.

I can’t go any further, without knowing who wrote those words in Woodward Park, Tulsa, Oklahoma, December 9, 2015. I firmly believe God sent them to me, and I am so grateful.

But I need to know. What happened? Did someone make a romantic proposal on December 9, 2015? I can imagine some sweet 20-something down on one knee, making a lover’s heart stop in that moment of OMIGOSH, this is it!! “I will love you every step of the way.”

Maybe it wasn’t a proposal. Maybe someone else was going back to school, or starting a new career. Who wrote those words? Who drew the little chalk hearts I stepped around? What has happened since? I want to ask that person, “How’s your marriage?” I want to say, “Thank you. You have no idea how you changed my life that day. No matter what you’re going through, your willingness to open up and love have made an impact.”

So, if you’re watching this, would you do me a favor? Would you please share this video? If you’re listening on the 1 Moment Wiser podcast, would you please share this podcast and the photo in the link attached? If we can just get this out to everyone we know, surely somebody will have the answer.

And what would you like to know? Do you have a mystery to share? Reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter, or email info@1MomentWiser.com. I’d love to help you share your story.

Psalm 37 NIV says

23 The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

I can tell you from experience, it’s true. God bless you today!

If there’s a writer in your life, I bet that writer has a birthday coming up this year. Plan ahead and get the Every Step of the Way laptop case here.

Blue steps with chalk writing saying "I will love you every step of the way"

Her Hair

pixabay collage blue hair
Collage created in the Enlight app using images from Pixabay

She has my forehead and talks like my sister. Her hair is the blue of my mom’s eyes. She’s creative, brilliant, fun to talk to and knows how to manage her energy.

I have a recording app on my phone, which I’ve used when interviewing people for this blog. Did I think to use it, during my very first conversation with my daughter? Nope. I was busy pacing a circle in the carpet and periodically squealing. She does that, too. I would love to replay our conversation a hundred times, but instead I raced to write as many notes as I could after we hung up.

She’s real. She exists, she doesn’t hold it against me that I gave her away. Did I mention that she’s really fun to talk to? She is. Her dad thinks so, too.

I don’t even know what to say. God never ceases to impress me with His timing and behind-the-scenes prep. This past month has not been my standard blog material, but I appreciate you being here for this process.

Valentine

Valentine cropped
She wore my baby dress when Grandpa Burl dedicated her on our last day at the hospital.
There’s something I stopped telling people a couple of years ago, not because it’s a secret but because the words carry responsibility. I wasn’t ready to be responsible. One birthday passed, then another, then another.

When I was growing up, we regularly visited the most romantic couple in the universe. They loved each other, they embraced our family. They treated me like a person and not like a little kid. They played Scrabble with me and let me borrow grown-up books like The Hobbit. They would have made great parents, but they couldn’t have children. I was a high school surprise to my own parents, so I knew that pregnancy isn’t always planned. I was ten or twelve when I decided that if I ever became a teenage mom, I would let some wonderful would-be parents raise my baby. Of course, I told my previously teenage mom that I’d never be that stupid. Ah, the tactless innocence of childhood. Moms take so much crap.

I knew it the moment it happened. I was fifteen. I had planned to be a virgin when I got married, but at some point I chose the Cosmo girl for my role model and decided virginity was an embarrassment. After a wild year, I met a boy who actually  treated me like a lady, even if I didn’t act like one. He wanted forever with me and made me feel so grown up, it seemed possible. He put my name on the windshield of his truck. I made him French toast, because that’s what I knew how to cook. We saw each other nonstop for three months, and then my dad broke us up. Well, he tried to.

“Mike,” my grandpa said, “Do you think this is gonna work any better than it did when we broke you and her mama up?”

“I know it will. She’s my daughter.” Ah, so that’s where I got my tact.

A couple of months later, before he crawled out my window one night, my boyfriend said, “I hope I didn’t get you pregnant.” I gave a convincing smile but knew it was too late. I cried for two months, until I decided I didn’t want my baby to be sad. I was sent across the country to live with my other grandparents, which turned out to be a blessing I’ll share some other time. A week after I finished 11th grade, I gave birth to this gigantic, precious little girl. In the hospital, they called her Valentine, because she was a gift of love to a family who had only one child and couldn’t have any more. They were ready to raise her and give her a life I could not.

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, giving up my little buddy after nine months of talking and singing to her. At seven months, I went to a Chuck Mangione concert, and my shirt fluttered with the force of her strong legs dancing. Apparently, we both like Latin rhythms. At eight months, she took over the show in our drama class—everyone stopped to watch her kick. The law gave me 90 days to change my mind and keep her, but I couldn’t do that to this couple who were so close to finally having a child. Many of those 90 mornings, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, deflated and alone, hoping I was doing the right thing.

I thought I’d have another baby some day, but I had bands instead. My oldest stepdaughter is four months older, and my stepson is eleven months younger than my Valentine. Every year since I met them, I’ve watched them grow and wondered about her.

She’s 28 now. Somehow, I lost seven years. I hoped she’d find me when she was eighteen, and then I was sure I’d find her when she was 21 and I was allowed to initiate a search. When she was 21, I hadn’t made anything of myself yet. I was ashamed of who I was. The year she turned 22, the first rocks fell in a landslide of loss for me. I spent three years watching people I love pass away.

When my heart healed a bit, I made a feeble attempt to search, but life got busy. I knew when I found her, I wanted to have time, to be there for her. I didn’t want to wave and run off. She’s 28 now. For the past year, I’ve had this image in my mind of her sitting on a curb, waiting for a ride after school. 5:00. 6:00. Night sets in. Where’s Mom?

Honestly, if she’s anything like me, she’s not sitting anywhere—she’s wrapped up in living every moment. But when you’re adopted and you have low times, sad times, you don’t realize everyone gets those. You think you’re different, the devil tells you you’re unwanted. It’s not true at all, Valentine.

I talked about it with my friend, Jennifer. She could not believe I’d kept this a secret. I didn’t think I had, but we met around the time I stopped telling people. Jennifer prayed for me. She didn’t say, “Lord, please light a fire under Kristi’s slow tushy,” but in her gentle prayer for God to do things in His time, I heard a heavenly Zippo go chhhk!

Three days later, the boy with the truck found me on Facebook. I called my mom, and she said, “Oh good! The ladies and I were praying for you to start the search!” I could almost hear God tapping his foot, so at midnight I emailed the adoption agency. They think they know where she is, so I’m hoping she responds when they reach out to her. I don’t have the right to expect anything, but I’m kind of excited.

Today, I am sharing this intimate story with friends and strangers. It’s a little awkward. I almost kept it to myself, but we learn about God and ourselves by watching others live. I’m determined to live visibly, in case I might help anyone else find hope, connection or forgiveness.

I’m also asking for a little inspiration. If you were adopted and got your first letter from your birth mother, what would you like it to say? What answers would you want? What questions would you want to answer?

Comment below if you’d like to give me tips for my first letter to Valentine.
Also, I don’t say it often enough, but there are children living with their own parents who don’t have food, shoes, education or hope. Please visit Compassion International and sponsor a child today.

Valentine's parents letter sharper contrast
The letter I received from Valentine’s parents when they took her home