Get to Know Us! - Monica Kalleeny

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Hey! I’m Monica.

I just moved to the Tampa Bay Area about 7 months ago for a new job position I was offered. Yep, I’m a pharmacist - but not too crazy about drugs. I believe hugs and bodily care are more needed than pills.

You won’t usually catch me asking about your career; I want to hear about you, your dreams, your fears, your passion, your favorite chocolate... your skin care regimen...that sorta thing :).

If I was an animal I’d probably be a butterfly; I’m a conservative free spirit, and you’ll more than likely catch me frolicking somewhere. My hair is just as unfiltered as my personality.

I’m an extrovert who totally loves the introvert life. Some say I’m a total romantic who lives in my own bubble... I prefer to call it “Faith in His promises.” And yes girllll, there is ALWAYS a reason to smile. (Thank God :)).

How did I get involved with HFL? So, we are a group of friends (each of us SO different but still so beautifully connected) who aren’t afraid to share needs. We all decided we needed and wanted some sort of something for us women and that was it.

We went all in, and God took off with it from there. Beauty of friendship - you help each other find real solutions and encourage each other to stop dilly dallying and just DO IT. 

The First year for HFL, many (Abounas included) panicked because of the name “Her First Love.” Once we had the “this-is-not-a-sappy-cry-for-marriage... but-a-need-for-our-FIRST-LOVE-and-real-connection” talk, we were ready to roll.

Only 22 people felt safe attending our first time around, but as you can see, God really has not stopped surprising us since then. I LOVE watching how beautifully His hands plan every detail so perfectly for the women attending, each retreat.  

When my life wasn’t matching up with the “standard/assumed” chronological timeline, I realized how much encouragement, support, realness, vulnerability, realignment I needed. God allowed me to start noticing the many women around me in different walks of life who may also be feeling a similar way.

Our church history is abundantly blessed with women who left lasting impacts on their communities, their families, and the church. HFL encourages me to follow their lead, to find those women, empower them and learn from them.

I HAVE SO MANY MEMORIES of HFL! But for your sake, I will only pick one.

To the women who wrote me “encouragement cards” back in 2011, I thank you. You changed my life, my outlook on myself, and deadened my desire to “Instagram” filter my talents to appear much more Grande to the public and to myself.

I may have not thanked you then, and may have even perceived your words to be just “fluff” at the time, but the repeated messages throughout the following years began to open my eyes. You taught me that our Lord is TRULY present in all the places I may think He’s not.

When I desired to be an “Esther” or a “Coptic Beyoncé” (?? really couldn’t think of any other dramatic pop culture name), or a very intellectual revolutionist, you made me see that He lies greatly in all the gifts that I may overlook completely—like my smile, or my hugs or my super child- like ways. Thank you for seeing Him in many of my insecurities and making me thankful for the gifts I always overlooked.

 Every woman attending should know that He is WITHOUT A DOUBT offering the world something through you. Allow others to point it out to you and please believe them. Then don’t stop thanking Him.