I am from…

Laughing as we wrote... photo by Tina Francis

Laughing as we wrote… photo by Tina Francis

I am from an immaculate house, heady with ammonia and lemon.

I am from a room with eyelet bed skirts, piles of ruffled pillows and the daily expectation of a perfectly made bed.

I am from books and a chalkboard, dance recitals and satin ballet shoes, straight As and honor roll.


I am from Saturday chores inside and out, father’s forehead covered in sawdust, mom elbow-deep in leaves.

But also Friday pizza nights, word games mom never let me win, a happy threesome sitting cross-legged on the shag rug.

I’m from Sunday morning drives to church in a small car with mom’s big cinnabar perfume.


I am from St. Nicholas Church and first holy communion dressed in white. I am from a cool basin of water for blessing, and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost across my chest, from flickering vigil candles at the feet of Mary.

I’m also from Maranatha praise songs – which I liked, itinerate missionary stories – which I didn’t, and baby dedications up front with Pastor Story.

I am from tradition and non-denominational, from altars and holy laughter, from catechism and charisma.


I am from an unknown, unwed accountant. I am from Holy Family Adoption Agency. I am from Sister Batril handing me to mom saying ‘This is God’s gift to you.’

I am from every Adoption Day celebration since.

I am from all of them.

This is in collaboration with SheLoves Magazine… come share with us about where you’re from! 

Want to read more? Get new posts delivered straight to your inbox:

4 thoughts on “I am from…”

  1. Caris Adel
     ·  Reply

    oh….love this. That picture is the best. Cinnabar – my mom wore that too.

  2. Tina/@teenbug
     ·  Reply

    Oh Kelley, this whole piece is just so decadent with story.

    I feel like we could talk for hours about each sentence.

    I miss you!


  3. Janel
     ·  Reply

    oh Kelley. this offering is so rich. Each sentence I stopped to linger and soak in…to hear your story echoing in each moment.
    and the moment that resonated more than any other, when your mom was handed your precious little self and it was declared ‘this is God’s gift to you’..oh YES!
    Dear Kelley, the Lord our God has called you to great things. It is such a treasure for me to read the journey that you have shared here with Claude, with the people of your heart in Burundi, your dear children and you personally as God continues to mold and shape you dear Sister. Continue to step forward in His mighty strength…you are a warrior of truth, a story teller and a woman who loves deeply and courageously. Be blessed.

  4. Fiona Lynne
     ·  Reply

    I love that photo 🙂

    I love that this poem shows how very different influences combined to create who you are. Aren’t we all such a delicious mix up of all that we were and lived through?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


All content on this site is copyrighted by Kelley Nikondeha. Please do not copy work without permission. You are welcome to quote or reference my blog in your article, but please make sure you link back to the original post. Please do not post an article in full without permission, because that is a violation of intellectual property. (My African friends have a different sense of this, but being American, I can tell you it does matter to me!)

All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.