Since we’re still setting up shop here at the blog and new faces continue to stop in, it seems like a good time to go back to “Hello, My Name Is … ” So, I’m going to toss out some quick nametags as a way to describe what I write about. But before I do, I want to make sure you know I am so glad you decided to stop by.
Thanks for being here.
Hello, My Name Is…
Kelley J. Leigh.
As my kids used to say, my “big name” is Kelley Jean Leigh. My childhood friends remember me as, Kelley Jean Gay. Yes, I used to be Gay. As you’d imagine it’s quite the conversation starter.
My maiden name went sour for me in fourth grade at Roosevelt Elementary School when gay made the switch from carefree to homosexual. During science, mean little Johnny Marcincini was the first to leer and tell me the ‘new’ 1976 definition of my name.
Miss Johnson let me leave class and go to the bathroom so I could finish crying and blow my nose about what Johnny said. I don’t remember exactly what he said. I do know that I have friends who now openly claim my former family name as their current family lifestyle, and I love those friends a whole lot more than the 11 year old version of Johnny Marcincini.
Mother of Four Sons.
For twenty some years I have been a lone female (besides the dog) in a house of boys and men. Right now I have two sons in high school and two in college. My oldest is about to get married. ( Give me a minute. I need to recover from that last sentence. My future daughter-in-law is beyond amazing. It’s not that. It’s just … how’d I get this OLD so fast? ) I write often about motherhood and now specifically about being a mom at midlife.
Steve and I have now lived longer together than we have apart. When we got married I had no idea that I had no idea. About 5 years ago our marriage had evolved to a tar-pit of bottomed-out hopelessness. Our marriage was in crisis. After 2 incredibly hard years of counseling and what I now finally understand as real life redemption, I can honestly say we’ve been rescued. Now and then, I write out of our pain and healing experiences with sex and intimacy issues.
Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivor.
Like one out of every five women that you talk to, I have a story of sexual abuse as a child. It was the point of origin for a great deal of shame in my marriage and my identity as a woman. I write about the path of restoration and hope for victims, especially within the context of an intimate marriage relationship.
As both a musician and mom of musicians it is kind of a bummer to have to admit my impairment. I have hereditary nerve deafness and my world continues to become more quiet. I wear hearing aids and every day I run on batteries. Learning to hear in a loud world has taught me a lot about listening through the noise of life to find meaning. Oddly enough, this has translated to the way I do my God relationship. It’s hard to lean in and listen for God in a noisy world, the same way it’s hard to hear the person next to you while walking through a construction zone. I write about the challenges of hearing impairment and the benefits of ‘learning to hear.’
I grew up as a pastor’s kid in a northwest suburb of Chicago. As a child, I loved being a church kid and thrived in the known culture of middle class American protestantism. As an adult I have directed evangelism and prayer ministries, and facilitated spiritual conversation groups for women who want to investigate Christianity outside church walls.
But, truth is, I now find myself outside church walls. I am re-evaluating what I’ve known as church, cautiously considering re-entry — trying to find my way as a Jesus-following person in context of community. Honestly, my new understanding of intimacy in my marriage has spilled into questions of how I have been living out my relationship with my God. So, I write about my current struggle to recalibrate my faith within a healthy, less busily religious, community.
I also write at my day job as Content Manager at The Exodus Road, a non-profit coalition which empowers rescue of children enslaved in sex trade. In addition to marketing and content writing, I support women who have decided to Blog for Rescue. If you haven’t already, go check out The Exodus Road.
I write here on the blog as a way to stay engaged with my readers, and to stay accountable to my current project. I am in a group of memoir writers and am in the process of finishing a book.
“Felt Stories” (working book title) is about my process of digging in the dirt of sex and Sunday school. It includes most of the topics mentioned above. The story centers around an unwanted box of flannelgraph Bible stories from my Mom’s mom, Erma. You’ll hear more about it as time goes on, no doubt.
The Bottom Line:
I write because I believe there is a bigger story we are meant to share with each other. For me, that bigger story is made up of a zillion different littler stories that point to God’s ultimate hope and grace for broken lives. My story is just a grain of sand on an infinite beach, but I’m convinced somehow it matters, infinitely.
And so does yours.
Again, thanks for being here.
Your Turn. Which one?
‘Anything of those topics grab your interest?
If so, tell me. Leave a comment and tell me which topic you’d like me to write about next.
I will be paying attention!