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Grace Notes: How many of me?

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By The Staff

The other day I got an e-mail from Nancy Kennedy. That's Nancy B. Kennedy from Hopewell, N.J.

Years ago, she and I both wrote articles for the same magazine group - I wrote humor stories and she wrote about finance, and readers often got us mixed up. I told her once that I thought about writing a humorous finance article and really confusing things.

We became acquainted when either the magazines' business office or the IRS mixed up our 1099s.

Since that time, the magazines folded and I hadn't heard from Nancy B. Kennedy until recently. It seems the IRS says another magazine group, Christianity Today, paid her several thousand dollars in 2006, but they didn't.

She had written an article for them in 2006, she said, but it never ran, and she wasn't paid for it. She e-mailed me to see if maybe the IRS was looking for me instead. After all, there are two Nancy Kennedys.

Actually, according to the Web site, HowManyOfMe.com, as of Sept. 6 when I last checked, there are 684 people in the United States named Nancy Kennedy.

Of 305,071,585 Americans, 1,020,464 are named Nancy, the 35th most popular name, and 204,398 people have the last name Kennedy, the 136th most popular last name.

My husband is one of 137 Barry Kennedys. My youngest daughter is one of 521 Laura Kennedys and my oldest daughter is one of 767 Alison Smiths.

Now you know what I do in my spare time.

Hearing from Nancy B. Kennedy again got me curious about other Nancy Kennedys out there, so I Googled myself.

The Nancy Kennedy that tops the list is a realtor in Hudson, N.Y. Number five is a Plano, Texas, attorney, and number six is a real estate agent in the Orlando area.

I'm listed in the second through fourth spots and my monthly blog at Christianity Today, "Walk With Me," is number 10.

There's a Nancy Kennedy "fitness guru to the stars" in California, a Dr. Nancy Kennedy in Lawrenceburg, Ind., who saves lives as a pulmonary specialist. A few also write books, including Nancy B. Kennedy who just wrote two children's books. She's currently trying to find a publisher for a book about people's weight loss successes.

The other day I looked up her bio through her literary agent and became severely envious - a graduate of Penn State, she used to be an editor for Dow Jones, which produced the online Wall Street Journal. She's written for the New York Times, wrote syndicated columns for Merrill Lynch and edited financial books for Princeton University Press.

Sometimes I have the tendency to think I'm the only one, whether it's the only one going through a certain situation or just plain I'm the only one, as in "It's always all about me." The only Nancy Kennedy that ever was, is or ever will be.

That's when my husband gently (as a bull) reminds me that it's not always all about me and that I might be thinking of myself a tad bit higher than I ought and to knock it off.

Other times, God is the one who reminds me that I'm not the center of life, that I'm only one of 684 Nancy Kennedys and not even the most prominent or polished or accomplished of the bunch.

But he also lets me know that I am the only Nancy Kennedy whom he has placed in this exact space - this community, this home, with this group of friends, this set of skills, this job, these character traits and flaws, these personality quirks and passions.

I'm the only Nancy Kennedy who is Barry Kennedy's wife, Laura Kennedy and Alison Smith's mother.

I suppose as long as Nancy B. Kennedy and I continue to write for the same publishing groups, the IRS and maybe some readers will continue to get us confused, but God never will. Of the billions of people on the planet, God knows us each by name, which goes beyond what's on our driver's license to our very essence.

It's true. I'm not the only one, but at the same time I am. It's both humbling and comforting to know that God knows every Nancy Kennedy uniquely.

Now if only the IRS could get us straight.