Category: a day in the crazy life

Marked by music

^That there is one of the coolest pictures I will ever be in.

I have, by way of lifestyle and weirdness, met a good handful of musical icons in the past few years. I have learned to be cool, especially since the ones I tend to meet are Southern Gospel or country, and in these parts where I live, many of my friends don’t know who I am talking about (I am working on their education…)

That changed Saturday night. Meeting the Oak Ridge Boys got me props from everyone from my mom to my Broadway-taste friend to the ‘older’ lady working at Fanny May.

Meeting them is sort of a misnomer. I feel like we’d already met Mr. Joe Bonsall. Twitter does that to people. We write and read random bits of our days and in the telling – especially when said Tweeters have a way with words and when they are being sincere– we learn a lot about the passions, pet peeves, and personalities of each other.

So when we made plans for their Elgin concert, I set the surreality aside and just went along for the ride. When we went backstage before the show, I covered up my tongue-tied-ness with quiet (better to just give Golden a warm smile and a firm handshake then say some stupid stumbling thing). Plus, God help the Stars, some of the other folks backstage really wanted their posed pictures and their questions answered, and that was their privilege to do so.

But when ‘BanJoey’ came up to greet Rod and me, it felt like I was reuniting with my Uncle Larry (this is a compliment) or maybe a teacher I’d had in high school or someone I sang with in the choir. There were no airs and was no hesitancy. There were greetings by name and hugs and familiarity.

Awesome. I love when people are what I hope and expect them to be, and BanJoey was as kind and sincere as he could be.

But my night didn’t end there. From the 6th row of the Hemmens Cultural Center, I was taken on a ride I didn’t expect.

See, I was too transfixed by the cool Tweet-up-ness of it all to ponder beforehand how the Oak Ridge Boys were a huge part of the first music I listened to in life. Being, you know, a sensitive artist type, I’ve marked all of my memories by the sounds, sights, tastes, look, and feel of a particular time in life. And while prior to the concert I recalled a few nuggets from the Oak Ridge Boys soundtrack, I hadn’t counted on all of them –

American Made – was one of the first “contemporary” songs I’d ever heard. I remember hearing it in the car, analyzing the lyrics, and contemplating That Girl. Tight jeans? French perfume? I might have been a pre-pubescent, but to me that sounded like good stuff. And I did, after all, have silky long product free hair at that point in time.

Elvira – Well, everyone my age or older probably has a memory to go along with this one. I know this is one of the few songs my mom would get goofy on while singing along (Others including Donna Fargo’s “Funny Face” and Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning.” Sorry, Ma, but it’s true). Mine is kind of embarrassing. When I was an avid fan of Eddie & Joe-Bo on B96 in the morning, one of their best and funniest song spoofs was to Elviria, and it was “Flu Virus.” So when Richard Sterban does his thing on the chorus, I still hear in my mind, “Giddy up, a burp-cough, a burp-cough, a ow-ow.”

(Speaking of Richard Sterban, I always thought he was the cute one, and he is in person very, very nice to look at).

Thank God For Kids – Experiencing this song live was a mess for me. First of all, I could see the video to it, with the ORB running around with a bunch of kids and Sesame Street characters, very clearly in my mind, though I surely haven’t seen it in 25 years or so. I also distinctly remember watching it at my Gramma and Papa’s house, because they had cable and therefore the Good Channels. I have written exhaustively about the tragic outcome of my relationship with them, but for 25 years it was sweet and golden, and so that song took me back to their house, which was a safe and welcoming place for most of my life.

The song itself is all about safety, warmth, and of course, kids, and I am pretty sure I hadn’t really listened to it since having my own. I am a sap for all things but nothing like I am for my own sweet babies. So many specific lyrics of that song embody what we live right now: Big Bird, Mickey Mouse, Santa Clause, various things spilled on the couch, repeated questions beginning with ‘Why,’ and truly knowing the magic of a smile.

So, you know, I totally sobbed while listening to this. Thank God for MY kids, and yours. They are so awesome.

(And thank God Joe has a good sense of humor about rocking the Mr. Kotter hair in that eternalized great video!)

Two other songs during the first set that made me lose my cool and my mascara:

Mama’s Table – this is a new song from the ORB, all about the family memories made around the kitchen. And while my family does not have an heirloom that exists in this form, it again conjures some vivid and sweet visions of Gramma and Papa’s, where tea and toast was both breakfast and late night snack, Thanksgiving dinners were matched only by those on St. Patrick’s Day, and the news or, God help us, the Cubs game was always on in the background.  There are also memories of my Gramma Capriotti’s kitchen, where I ate some of the best cooking I will taste, including homemade, hand-cut pasta, and had countless hours of fun with my brother and my cousins, sneaking bits of salad into each other’s cups and, in occasion, wine into our own.

Now I see my parents creating those memories for our kids, and Lord knows I work to make them, too. Why just last night, as we were Educating our son about some rough times, I dusted out my inner Martha to bake apple bread and cranberry bread, because surely the smells of these things make a tough life lesson go down more smoothly. I love cooking for my family, and lately, being that we’re home so little, I don’t even mind the clean up. I hope when my children are grown and on their own, they will cherish memories of ‘fancy breakfast,’ of homemade pizza, of chili-cheese burrito night, of getting their own little taste of coffee, and mostly, of the talks and laughs and plans we share there.

G.I. Joe and Lillie – with all the bustle of the holidays, and my bustle has been bustled to the point of my own surrender this time around, it’s easy to just look in our own circle and measure stress and hardship by what we see. I know some families who are really struggling this year with the loss of jobs, or health issues, or in some cases, serious relationship damage. But most of the people I know are not being forced to spend Christmas apart from those they love most. Our soldiers and their families, however, are. That is not what this beautiful song is about. It is about a son’s honor to his parent’s love story – their dedication to country and to each other. Most people I know have no idea what it means to give up what people in the military give up. I am up in arms today about my hallway being dirty from work being done on our bathroom. Please.  Truth is, I don’t really know what sacrifice is.

Then came the Christmas set, which for the most part, really was a soundtrack for my childhood Christmases. Early on, my mom had checked out the ORB first Christmas recording from the library and dubbed it (sorry!). We fell in love with the new songs on there and they became classics for our holiday season; in fact, it was always the first recording we played while putting up the Christmas decorations. (PS: I just bought the CD from Amazon, which will hopefully make up somewhere for our 80s-dub theft!)

So I was kind of giddy singing along to “Christmas Carol” and “Christmas is Painting the Town,” but I about came out of my skin when I heard, “Jesus is Born Today.” (In fact, I got so excited I think I scared the older and much quieter little couple next to me. Rod and I seemed to do that a few times during the evening…)

One last specific song I will mention has much to do with the movie I saw and the blog I wanted to write last week. We finally saw The Blind Side, and as expected, I not only loved it but felt it as one more medium gliding us along to the child we will inevitably adopt. I look around at our home and our family sometimes and can’t believe what we have. I didn’t grow up this way, having access to so much, and while I am grateful for it, in some ways, I’m sick of it because I know there are people who live just minutes from us, students I’ve had even, who live without much. So when I heard “Beneath the Christmas Tree,” which features Duane Allen singing – like he means it! –  the story of an orphan boy waiting for Santa beneath a tree and the benevolent man who wraps him in his coat and takes him home, well, you know, Rod had to practically hold me steady.

This doesn’t make me a good person. I’m sure I look at the situation naively – I know adopting any child will mean bringing unknown sets of issues and challenges into all our lives. Doesn’t matter though. I know it will happen. And I know if that child is found on the playground near our home or under a tree somewhere or on a website we happen to be browsing, my heart is ready for him (I think it might be him now, but that doesn’t matter either). I want to give these types of memories, stirred by music and filled with love, to my all my kids, wherever they happen to be.

So make your heart a Bethlehem, a humble place where life begins, where Christ the Savior once again is born. – William Dodd

Something for her, something for us

First of all, if you have not read about Anissa, please do here. (Summary: Anissa is a wife, mommy of 3 little ones, and blogger who suffered a stroke last month. She is slowly recovering and fighting hard).

And after viewing my own glamorous photo, pleasepleaseplease read this and consider doing the same. The kindness and prayers of strangers will matter!

Anissa, we are waiting for a miracle!

~.~.~
In family news, we are leaving for vacation, back to Disney World. No… there will likely never be a year when Rod & I go 3x and the kids twice…this HAS been a year of many firsts and adventures. The difference this time is that we are leaving work behind, and I can already feel the stress and craziness of the last 11 months start to melt off. I need a break. I don’t know if there will be actual rest, since we, down to our babies, are theme park/Disney junkies, but a mental break will suffice!

Unfortunately, we also have to leave Josh behind because he has finals and a new job. Joshy, we’ll miss you!

~.~
Gratuitous cuteness: the girls last night with their big cousin/hero, Andrew, and this morning in their ‘Christmas dresses:’

:( bluuur

~.~
If you are reading this, I have probably already pimped this to you, but seriously! This issue was a labor of love and a vision of mine for several months. Please read about the work of grace in the lives of some wonderful people. “The Gift of a 2nd Chance” is one of the best ones I can imagine!

SGN Scoops Nov. 2009

600 cups of butter and other tales from Branson

Rod and me at Dino’s Christmas show Tuesday night

There is something about us and Branson. We’ve been there three times this year – and three times total in our lives. The first time was to smooth the way for the convention we’d planned that had almost been sabotaged. The second time was to hold the actual convention, which was a mind-blowing, life-changing experience. The third time was delayed due to our baby being in the hospital, and now that it’s occurring, has been to start paving the way for the next convention, and apparently, also for God to show us for the third time that He has called us to fulfill our dreams and His plans in this town.

This is the list of people* we met with this week: (in 2.5 days)

–          The operators of the sweetest, smallest 90-room inn we have ever seen

–          The co-owners of a refurbished local bakery and deli, which donates 40% of their baked goods – at the beginning of the day – to local shelters

–          One of the most amazing and celebrated piano players alive, his wife, and his staff

–          A publicist who previously photographed Johnny Cash and Mel Torme

–          A radio DJ who hosts a show at a Branson Café.. where Rod was asked to sing live on her show!

–          A hotel manager of three local properties

–          The pastor of a 12,000 member church

–          A singing family consisting of 10 beautiful children adopted from 3 different countries

–          A celebrated songwriter and her husband, both Branson entertainers and total warriors in God’s army, who have been given materials to build a chapel

–          A pastor and his wife who work with Branson shows, Morningside, and publishing, and wish to minister specifically to us

–          A magazine marketer who also attends the 12,000 member church

–          Executives at the hotel that hosts the convention

–          The general manager of Branson’s #1 tourist center

–          Tonight, we are apparently meeting Neil McCoy, and 2 nights ago, we (inadvertently) stood up Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys
*Almost all of these people are Christians!

My mind is shot. This morning our flight was cancelled because of the nationwide aviation computer problems. We scrambled all day to get home tonight.. tomorrow I have Moms and More, and we had front row tickets to see my friend Rick star in The Producers, and I have a castle cake to figure out how to bake for a certain girl who is turning 3 on Sunday.

It just wasn’t meant to be. We could fly home from Springfield directly.. for $600 per ticket. We could drive our rental car home for $1 per mile, for almost 600 miles. Or we can take our original flight, 20 hours later at the same fare.

Since our front yard tree does not grow money, and since my parents are amazing and awesome and taking care of the kids, we opted for the last option.

I want to be home tonight and keep our plans tomorrow. But now I believe we are supposed to be here. Who am I to argue with God?

~.~

We have heard some amazing stories this week from the people we have met. There is such synergy surrounding us in the skill set, dreams, and attitudes of the people we’ve encountered.

One that blares to me is from my new friend Julia. I met here during the convention in July, and she had, unbelievably, just relocated to Branson with her husband and three teenagers from Orland Park – 20 minutes from our home.

What I didn’t know then, I found out today. Julia had a very successful international gourmet food business (cheese, sausage, butter) and stable life in the Chicago south suburbs when she came to visit her mom in the Ozarks and felt a call to move there. To make a long story short, Julia’s house was sold in record time and she and her husband were making plans to relocate even before they knew where they were going to work or live once in Branson. Julia was obedient but very distressed, and went a week without sleeping as she worried about what their family’s place was in Branson. One night she decided she needed to tune out all the distractions in her life and drive to Branson. She took the battery from her cell phone, left her computer at home, kept the radio off, and even wore shabby clothes and no make-up so she wouldn’t decide she had to stop in this or that place (She, like me, does not ‘do’ the public without make-up!). She had her husband and kids follow her so that she could be alone in the car. They stopped at pre-determined destinations to touch base. In St. Louis, her husband told her he had just gotten a phone call, and she wouldn’t listen to what it was about. She wanted to be totally tuned in to God’s voice.

At their next stop, she picked out a gas station and walked sans make-up, in paint-splattered cut-offs and flip flops toward the bathroom. There she ran into previously mentioned world-renowned piano player and his wife, who operate a Christmas show and a bakery/café in Branson. They began to talk, and he started to tell Julia that he was going to be blessing people with free bread. She felt strongly that this man was the connection, the answer that she was looking for. So she kept the conversation going about what her business entailed, and he said he could sure use some gourmet butter to compliment his bread the following day.. did she happen to have any?

Of course, the only thing Julia had in her car was her battery-less cell phone, but then her husband chimed in. He said, “I have 600 cups of butter in the trunk.” Turned out the call he had gotten was from a distributer, there was a shipping error, blahblahblah. There were 600 cups of butter sitting on dry ice in his trunk at that moment, and the connection was made.

Their family moved to Branson, managed operations in the café, met hundreds of people – including us – and have now moved on to their own businesses.. catering, a deli/bakery, event planning, and promotions. They attend the 12,000 member church. They have made a home and a life here they could not have mapped out or imagined.

~.~

That was just one of such stories I’ve heard in all these encounters this week.

Earlier today, in my aggravation over changed plans, I tweeted, “I don’t know what it is with us and Branson.” There is always, always an obstacle to our being here.

The truth is, I do know what it is. Whether we ever live here or not, we’re called to this place for a purpose. And no matter what is thrown in our path to distract, discourage, or destroy, God has our 600 cups of butter waiting in the trunk, for He never starts a work in us that He will not see through.

Bus Burgers and the sound of (our) music

Though friends generally fall into one of several categories: childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, work friends (from one of several careers), church friends, mommy friends, friends-of-friends, and road friends, the easiest divide these days might be: those who sometimes live on the road, and those who don’t. For those who don’t, this is for you :)

RECIPE: Bus Burgers

Introduction: Cooking on the bus is not gourmet but it can be creative. I have two burners to work with, a microwave, toaster oven, and small crock pot. So over the last year and a half, while I have tried a few new things here and there, the same standards remain family favorites: eggs, pancakes, and bacon, tacos, and bus!burgers.

A bus burger is no different than one we’d make at home, really, except that perhaps it’s a bit simpler. The ‘ingredients’ are as follows:

Frozen patties, cheese, garlic powder (Spray oil for the pan, a bit of salt to taste)

Tips:


– serve interesting snacks, such as tortilla chips and cheese, to keep small fries occupied while you cook


– prepare to look the other way regarding the grease


– have easy alternatives on hand, just in case some of your subjects had burgers for lunch


– serve with whatever condiments your remembered or that your husband walked to the Food For Less to get, plus strategic leftovers brought from home, fruit cups, or instant noodles

Fry to perfection, serve to smiling faces:


~.~

Our weekend has gone pretty smoothly so far. I never know what to expect when we travel Paige-less.  The ride on Thursday wasn’t too bad, although Miranda and Kaity’s high maintenance-ness was in full swing. Every five minutes came requests (/demands) for a snack, drink, toy, movie, song, book, diaper change, potty break, change in seating. Whew. They wear me out.

We reached Richmond, Kentucky where Rod has several aunts and his closest cousin (who is pregnant and just found out she’s having a girl.. YAY Mindy & Woody!). Aunt Sue was happy to ‘whip up’ dinner for us – breakfast for dinner, to be more specific, and it was sausage, country ham, scrambled eggs, homemade biscuits and gravy, and fried potatoes, to be exact. Heaven. One of the greatest perks of Rod’s calling to the road is that we get to see his Kentucky relatives (and the one in Tennessee, Lance), a lot more than we otherwise would.

The only downside to Thursday night was missing The Shows. We are avid watchers of Grey’s Anatomy and now Private Practice, and usually make nights of new eps a bit of an event. It was nice, though, to get the girls to sleep in our bed together in the back of the bus while we settled in for a movie in the front (Family Stone, one of our new Christmas-y favorites).

Friday morning we got on the road bright and early for a less-than-three-hour trip to Harlan. (This is my second trip of the year, and ever. Details of Rod’s Harlan legacy are here and here). That ride went pretty smoothly, as did our big trek to Wendy’s for lunch. I took a bit-too-long of a nap with the kids, which I really never do at home, which is one of the other perks of this calling J Though our ministry trips include a lot of work, they also take us away from some of the cares of home that we simply cannot handle when we are away (laundry, for example).

Anyway, I had to get hopping once I woke up. I was pulling multiple duties of ticket sales at the door, handling Rod’s product table, and, you know, keeping the kids corralled. Luckily Rod’s mom and sister in law were around to help with that some, but when it comes to administering the smackdown on our little darlings, Mommy has to take over.

The concert was the second one in our new ‘Give the Gospel’ series. (The first was last weekend in Branson, which we obviously missed). This one included Out of Ashes, a sweet and talented family group from the area, and The Roarks, who are amazing people in their talent, the hearts, and all the different things they do. Paul Roark, the patriarch, is from Harlan as well. His wife Jetta and he sing with their son Shane, who has one of the most incredible country voices you will ever here and is a terrific writer (he wrote a very popular song called “There is a God” .. I know His name… You’d know it if you heard it). Their other son Travis runs sound and all sorts of other things. They handled the sounds, lights, and staging for us in Branson, and we just love them.

Anyway, the concert went really well. While the crowd was not as big as we hoped, it was good and it was supportive. We were collecting food for the local pantries and people were very generous with what they gave. There was a great altar call at the end, and we had good product sales.

The hardest part, seriously, of anything I do is containing the girls during a concert. Venues like the one Rod sang at last night (The Harlan Center) are a little easier, because there is usually somewhere for them to run around, it’s noisier, and there is more bustle and less formality. The whole thing is a hard balance for me to figure out.. Obviously, I am not going to let my kids run around and be distractions or brats. But.. they do take joy in hearing their daddy sing and often want to dance or sing along (loudly). I try to maintain the leash to a length that works for everybody, the unfortunate side effect being that I often am able to give very little support to Rod and certainly not, you know, get anything out of the concert or service. I know it’s a season. I know it will pass.

My favorite part of nights like those is the aftermath. Last night I took the girls back out and fed them snacks and let them decompress, so when it was decided we were going to go to Pizza Hut (not many options in Harlan!) with some of the other singers and friends, they were nice and mellow. They enjoyed sitting around the table and talking with their Mamaw and the other people with us, and Paul Roark filled our ears with wonderful testimonies of his family and their ministry through the years.

The bambinas were sleeping in our arms as we carried them out, so it seemed like it would be an easy night. Kaity, bless my baby, had other plans. She could not sleep. We still don’t know what the deal was, though it seems to possibly be an allergy. She was completely restless and itchy her eyes and nose. She wasn’t happy no matter what.. if we held her, if she was in her bed (travel crib), or if she was in our bed. She would fall asleep and wake up two minutes later. I could not believe it was after SIX AM when she finally settled down. I knew Miranda would not sleep very late, and she didn’t.

It was okay though.. Randa snuggled with me in the early part of her morning and finished Under the Tuscan Sun with me. Then we got up and had a coffee/milk date, a little breakfast, and read some books. By then it was after 11 and we got up Daddy and Kaity to meet the relatives for lunch before they headed home.

Then we hit Walmart, of course. This is a must on any trip. Yes, most Walmart locations (and there is a directory) allow buses and RVs to park in their lots overnight. And of course, the people who park there end up spending money inside the store. Today we needed milk, water, diapers, a carseat (Kaity has now learned to get out of the booster we keep on here), and other necessities like salt and vinegar chips and a gingerbread candle. Walmart gets their money’s worth out of us. No problems.

We took a big long nap before dinner and have enjoyed an amazingly mellow night. We just don’t do this at home. Rod and I are about to start our fourth movie together of the weekend (and, ahem, eat some Little Debbie Christmas trees). We are both doing some work, but we’re not stressed out and crazy. Lovely change.

Tomorrow we have an early start for service and then a nine hour drive home. He and I leave at something like 4am Tuesday morning for Branson, so the turnaround for clean clothes and errands at home will be QUICK. Mom and Dad are staying at the house this time, Peapod is delivering groceries, and Paige and Josh, as I hope I continually mention, are fantastic as getting mail and caring for the dog and all those things a lot of our traveling friends can’t take for granted when they go.

In my moments of chaos and feelings of, “I cannot do this (this being washing Kaity’s hands after she stuck them in the public toilet while Miranda is charging the stage, or something of that caliber), I will remember in the back of my mind how Miranda sang Jesus Love Me at the TOP of her lungs all through the store today, how Kaity knows every word when Rod sings “I’ll See You in the Rapture,” how everything Paul told us about his own family last night seemed to affirm the dreams we have for our own, and how, at the end of each day, I get to spend these adventure – bus burgers and all – with my best friend, and I am still his #1 fan.

Be it unto me

Luke 4: 38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.


I heard that verse in a devotion this morning that I was not ‘supposed’ to hear.

This week and last were all about a few things: getting through 2 business trips for Rod, getting Scoops published on time, and getting to Branson yesterday for our press conference and several concerts, including the first of our Give the Gospel series.

It wasn’t meant to be that way.

Kaity got sick Tuesday. Scary sick. Her breathing was all of a sudden troubled again, and this time, I took her in to the ER right away (where we waited for a long time, and during that wait, she cried so hard she threw up twice..) and we ended up being sent by ambulance to University of Chicago’s Komer’s Children Hospital, at least 25 miles from home. We went around 3am. Rod was on his way back to us from Lousiville. The other kids were at the house with no car (because the family car was at the hospital, and Josh’s Jeep is dead…) My phone battery had died.

I am a warrior. It’s my name. Kelly = ‘warrior maiden, loyal and brave.’

I was not scared.

Yet.

Here is what scared me. Me. Because up until we got in that ambulance, up until I saw my little tiny 20 month old strapped to a big gurney and lifted into a space where I could not be with her, I was trying to figure out HOW Rod and I could still make it to Branson for the press conference. And the fact that I was thinking that way scared me. How ambitious do I need to be? How much do I need to ‘get done?’ How much sacrifice is too much for our ‘calling?’

Are we not called first by God to serve our family?

Don’t get me wrong. Had we decided to go anyway, Kaity would have been with my parents, whom I absolutely trust with her life. But I know that would not have been fair to anyone. I know we made the right decision in staying.

But oh.. those are the times when the doubts and the anxiety and the insecurities – what we also call a Spiritual Attack – come rushing in.

( I twittered about it).

Anyway, we were rescued over and over again during this ordeal (In fact, the song that goes, “I need You, Jesus, to be my rescue. Where else can I go?’ kept going through my head).

We have some pretty amazing friends who put the finishing touches on the press conference and pulled it off. About 40 members of the local Branson press and business community showed up, as did the Mayor, who spoke about her excitement and support of the convention.

Meanwhile, we had, I believe, hundreds of people praying for our baby daughter and for us. And it worked.

Kaity does not have pneumonia or the flu or bronchitis or even asthma. Right now, her diagnosis is Reactive Airway Disease, which essentially means she experienced wheezing and respiratory distress with an unknown cause. Monday we will see her doctor, whom we know very well and trust, and hopefully we will find out more.

But, one of the many fine doctors we saw at Komer’s said plainly, “It could very well just be bad luck.” I almost laughed when she said it. Because honestly, I started thinking this whole episode was yet another spiritual attack on the convention, but now the only thing I know for sure is that it was a time of testing for Rod and me.

We were supposed to choose to stay here with our kids. We were supposed to loosen the control of the events in Branson today.

The test did not end with that. Rod is sitting across from me dealing with one more right now. (Dear Ikea – Did you sell us a haunted office unit? So many Critical Moments have taken place as we sit here…) He is dealing with it in a way that, frankly, takes some sacrifice and faith on his part. But it’s what we both know is right.

One of the ways I know is because of where I was this morning when the press conference was taking place. I was at Moms and More, the group I’ve belonged to for just over a year that has made such an enormous difference in my life. The women I have befriended in this group do not care which of us is back in her pre-pregnancy jeans, which of us lets our kids watch TV, which of us lives on a bus during the weekends, which of us is Catholic vs. Pentecostal vs. married vs. single. I have never seen such a supportive community of women before. We love each other. We love each other’s kids. We agree in prayer. We laugh and cry and struggle and celebrate together.

This community is my touchstone, and once I knew we and Kaity would be home today, it was automatic that I would be there.

So it was good to see my mommy friends and hear their words of empathy and drink coffee. But I was not expecting what else I got.

It came in the form of today’s speaker, Dorothy Caldwell. There are so many cool things about this, I might have to make a list. Yeah… a list:

1. Dorothy was introduced by my friend Deanna. Deanna has become so important to me because she is also a driven work at home mom.. and we can talk quite plainly about finding the balance between our driven selves and our nurturing selves. Deanna differs from me in that she is not a big sap (she says she is, but she rarely shows it). Today as Deanna introduced Dorothy, she cried. I mean, really cried. Dorothy gave Deanna the advice to ‘Just trust’ when Deanna was struggling with her family’s then-situation. Deanna has recently seen movement and peace in their lives where she needed it. This into.. was awesome.

2. Dorothy began with a typical impressive list of qualifications for a ‘Keynote Mommy Speaker.’ She had 6 kids in a row. She home schooled all of them. She is now helping to raise her baby grandson. She has been married for over 20 years and clearly still adores her husband. She is smart, well read, well spoken, and of strong Christian faith.

3. Dorothy then became very transparent about her struggles as a stay-at-home mom, and some of her wisdom was:

  • We do not have to keep trying to do more or to force things to happen.
  • God does not let us skip a beat. If we are focused on nurturing our children and our homes, He will still be using that time to pour into and prepare us for ways He will use us in the future.
  • We are to be ready for MOMENTS (‘times such as this’) when God will use us.
  • God may also prune us – ask us for sacrifices.
  • We are to be real.. we don’t have to try to keep up with other women, other moms, and their ideas of what is necessary. We can have peace and comfort with who and where we are.

Do you see where this went for me? I could feel some of my friends looking at me during some of these points. Dorothy was speaking these truths directly to where I was this morning.

4. Toward the end of all this, Dorothy called the leaders of Moms and More to the front. (I became a leader readily when I was asked. I work publicity for the group and am also the unofficial social chairwoman. I really love everything about this community). Dorothy began speaking prophetically over us. She said Moms and More is destined to be an international community, something that will reach women who need this particular kind of ministry. And then she specifically mentioned that God will raise WRITERS from this group to create books and curriculum, that will find favor with publishing houses.

Interestingly enough, earlier this week, the man who has been my writing mentor since I was 14 years old sent me an email out of nowhere. He has been reading my columns and believes the time, the MOMENT, is now for me to put together a book proposal.

Finally. I mean, seriously.. I was *9* years old when I completed my first novel. Do I think maybe God put that calling on my life even before motherhood and gospel events and editing? Hmm?

It’s been an exciting week, to say the least. In the midst of all this, Miranda started dance class, Josh got a job, and Paige carried on as a high school student who can take care of her junk when her parents are occupied in the PICU. God bless those kids.

We rescheduled our Branson trip.. Rod and I will be flying there week after next for 2 1/2 days. There will be no hoopla or concerts or press events, fewer friends around, but plenty of time to meet with people and eat at Dino’s.

Be it unto me.. whatever God has next.. I know He will equip me. And I know if I take care of this family first, He will continue to be faithful in the efforts to which HE called us.

Whew. Amen.