Category: about me

2014 Me

{former “About Me” page}

kelly burton 2013I’m Kelly {Capriotti Burton}. I’m half-Italian, half-Irish, and learning to conquer the temper and sarcasm that comes with that background, thank you very much. I watched thirtysomething when it was in first-run, and now as a 30-something, I strive to make my life a little less dramatic. I succeed about half the time.

The first half of my 30s was all about growing into myself… I learned to be comfortable in my skin (even if it has 20-30 extra pounds in it), happy with my talents (even if they don’t include singing like Trisha Yearwood or Frances Ruffelle), confident as a mama and stepmom, and totally unapologetic for the Big Love I have for my best friend and husband, Rod.

The second part of my 30s has thus far been about embracing the lesson of Sometimes Most times, what you think is your destination is really just a… direction.” That is, in early 2011, we uprooted our 3 daughters, left our son and 34 years of my life in Illinois behind, and moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for warmer weather, proximity to ocean, and “perfect” jobs for each of us that… ended before they really began.

After that fall (& a pretty darn cool bounce back), I look at almost everything differently. My entries about moving, adjusting, disappointments, and change are tagged with “The inevitability of change.” It is breathtaking…but there still is wind in these sails.

These days I am on staff at a life-changing church and working on new dreams, daily…

Other fun tidbits…

rodandme-dec2014

In 2005, the same time I started and ended a high school teaching career and right before our miracle baby came to us, Rod revived his ministry as a gospel singer . It continued as we, ahem, gave birth to the Branson Gospel Music Revival, a three year, award-winning festival in a fabulous Missouri town where we made friends for life and had some serious church! During that period, we were honored to travel to Colombia with Compassion International, and I met some pretty amazing people during two years as Editor-In-Chief of an online gospel magazine. I have also written for Absolutely Gospel, appeared over at incourage, and am always looking for new places to showcase my work.

The most important partnership Rod and I have is still parenting, and we are proud and slightly harried parents of four:

allkids– my bonus son, Josh, is 23 and moved to Myrtle Beach with his now-wife, Kirsten, a year after we did. They are fabulous partners for movie nights and cheese plates, and they baby-sit sometimes, too. What a great reminder that kids grow up and become your friends!

– my bonus daughter is Paige, 20 year old, lives in North Carolina persuing her college education and ministry experience. She is also the rockingest big sister ever and for a long time fondly referred to as our Glue.

– Miranda Rose, our Randa, is the miracle baby brought to us after we were told by a fertility specialist “forget about it.” She is now 7, loves to dance, loves being a Princess, loves mothering others, has quickly adapted to the sweet-and-sassy nuances of being a southern Bell, and amazes me every day with her kind and generous smile…and her amazing “I’m one-sixteenth-Cherokee” tan!

– Kaitlyn Emma… KK… is a ninja, the bonus baby whose impending arrival snuck up on us when Randa was only 7 months old. When she was a newborn, I imagined a quiet and feminine little ‘Birdie.’ I have never been more wrong! At 6, she is stylish, confident, musical, smart, strong, and will either love you to pieces or beat you to pieces, depending on her mood.
…they are 15 months apart and talk 15 miles a minute!

UPDATED 2014:
In February 2014, we found out we were expecting a new little life. As quickly as we embraced the idea of having a baby again, that baby was lost to us. We have named this angel David James. We love him. We cannot wait to see him someday.

A new little love is expected to arrive in January 2015!

Elsewhere in this life, I love my great, big Italianish family, my varied and wonderful friends, movie dates, music (especially live or especially from the late ’80s/early ’90s…or Broadway… or Johnny Cash…), cooking, coffee, the BEACH, Mexican food, reading EVERYTHING I can, and writing every chance I get.

I strive to be healthier. For me, that looks like losing this 30 extra pounds. Recently, it also means navigating a gluten-free way of life for Rod, who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in March 2013.

I love Jesus. I love Jesus outside the box that religion puts Him in, but not so far outside that I don’t believe that through our relationship with the Savior, we should strive for holiness. Also, I refuse to be pigeonholed because I follow Christ. Labels suck, y’all.

I blog about all the above, plus the occasional movie, song, trip to Disney World, and head lice infestation. It’s fun. Really.

More stuff about me:

>; On (re)marriage:
In the spotlight

>; Me at 32:
A real fine place to start

>; Definition & testimony:
On Being a Stepmom

>; My infertility:
I call this my manifesto

Save

Just as I am, established by grace

Ten years and one day ago, I was an adulteress and a fornicator. Those were the correct terms according to the Bible. I had been in love with a man for nearly five years, who up until 6 months prior, was still married. And not only that, but I acted on my love for him. I lied to everyone I knew, including myself. I rebelled against Biblical teachings that I knew to be true. I moved in with him shortly after his divorce. And all the while, I yearned for forgiveness, grace, and a second chance.

On March 28, 2003, I was given one. The worship pastor of our then-church was given permission by the senior pastor (who didn’t feel he could do it himself), to perform a simple matrimonial ceremony in the church conference room. My parents were there, along with Rod’s children and two special friends who had “been there.” Our marriage was made holy in the eyes of the Lord that day, which is all that should matter.

Our adultery, our mistakes and failures, will never be “right.” They will never be justified. They have been forgiven… by God, by Rod’s first wife, by his children, and by many of the people hurt as a result. But that will never make those decisions and actions “Ok.” I don’t condone them, stand by them, or recommend them.  But somehow, nor do I regret our relationship.

How can I?~

theburtons_grace

There were many, many “believers” who extended grace to us right from the beginning. And there were many who only did after years. And there are some who still have not. And there are some who went to their graves without doing so. Ten years, two babies, and a whole lot of life and learning later, *I* am still learning to extend grace to those who did not have it for us. I have even had to smack myself down for not having IMMEDIATE grace for people who have gotten themselves into a situation similar to ours.

Good thing I don’t have to be God. His grace is without hesitation or condition. It is there because He loves us, and there every time we seek it. Please understand: I know I do not deserve the life I have. I do not deserve God’s grace. I do not deserve to have been embraced first by a community of ministers and then by the staff of a local church, getting mentored by pastors to become one myself. And though I did not wake up one day and decide, “I am going to love a married man with little kids and hopefully inspire him to move ahead with a divorce!,” the ugly things people called me were at one time very accurate labels. And yet…

There is no explanation why God has blessed a formerly adulterous couple with an amazing life and beautiful family and opportunities to minister to others, except that He loves us. He loves us as much as He loves the one who has never committed a sexual sin. He loves us as much as He loves the pastors and church leaders who have to make very difficult decisions when it comes to dealing with complicated relationships. He loves all of us who are still learning just how far His grace will go.

just as i amI have seen a lot of words thrown around lately about what grace is, what marriage is, who we should love, and what we should hate. I generally steer clear of the marriage debate, because God knows in conventional eyes, my marriage is not a traditional one. I know what the Bible says, and I have seen God move in miraculous ways, so it is my conviction to choose my words and my battles carefully. The fact is, we don’t, won’t, cannot know exactly how God’s grace works. In my adult life, since ‘getting right with God,’ I have fancied myself a bit of a Grace Hippie, and yet, I am learning things now (from my pastor, with my pastor & my church), that are blowing my mind about God’s grace… as my friend Kenny has said, His grace is crazy! That isn’t a liberal or new age notion; it’s older than the songs in our hymnals, if we still have those! That is God’s love stripped down and set free from the interference of religion, the misinterpretations of the misguided, and the agendas of the self-righteous. That is God’s love saying that not just the fallen and publicly redeemed Davids and Sarahs and Pauls will be with us in Heaven, but maybe the Delilah, the Lot’s Wife, the Judas – those hopelessly weak, distracted, sick, and used – will be as well.

God created us, He knows our flaws, and He sees our souls. If we struggle and fall, if we are confused and make a mistake, and if we are ignorant and think we *are* living the right way, I believe He is merciful! Furthermore, if it turns out that God’s grace is BIGGER & BETTER than what we have all been taught all our lives, and because of that more people will be in Heaven…isn’t that a GOOD thing?

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4

I know the Bible also says we must reach out to Christ in faith and turn from sin. Along with that, it tells me to grow in grace…to administer grace to others… to set my hopes on grace. We are not all equipped exactly in the same way and at the same time to do those things. Of course, we need a Savior, whose grace, another old song tells us, is greater than all our sin.

I do not have all the answers. I do simply pray that everything in my life, my words, my relationships, and my marriage, point people to the love of Jesus. HIS LOVE empowers us to overcome any sin, obstacle, and failure.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. – 2 Peter 3:18

an honest look at Plan B

I am not a person who gets it right the first time, or does it the way it is supposed to be.

When i graduated from high school, I had a full scholarship and then some to my college of choice (go Illini!) But I dropped out after a year and didn’t finish until 10 years later.

Those 10 years were filled with foolish choices, reckless choices, hurtful circumstances, numerous setbacks. But I started my 30s living the life I’d always dreamed of having.

And today, I have a family of 6. The marriage that wasn’t going to last is going on 9 years. The step kids who are supposed to resent me are 2 of the people closest to me. And the babies I wasn’t supposed to be able to have? Well, you probably know how that went.

Don’t get me started on whether former adulterers can be used in ministry. God’s grace is bigger than scarlet letters and unforgiving labels, and His plans don’t require any of us to be perfect, only to be humble and willing. Don’t get me started on the crazy idea of ‘throwing a gospel convention.’ It was never about competing with anyone or trying to make money, only about following a call.

As for moving our family a thousand miles away, to the beach, for a startup company with an unconventional concept?

I didn’t expect it to be simple. I kind of expected the nervous stomach, the uncertainty, and the occasional threats of violence (I mostly exaggerate).

I believe in Big Risks. I believe when your heart is in the right place and you follow your heart, something good will come of it.

And I believe in Plan B, but not because I expect to fail, ever. I only expect that life, in some ways, is a journey we take along a script God has written, and we can’t always tell what’s going to be on the next page. There is no white out, though, and no turning back. We have to keep turning the pages to get to the best part.

And I believe in Happy Endings.

figuring it out

So this week, I got an iPad.

Oh, it’s mad love. MAD love.

I will use it to email, to take notes, to check FB & Twitter, to show the girls videos, to hear music, to view proofs and files, and of course, to look at pictures.

This one is my wallpaper.

I have this job now, this new career really. It involves iPads and meetings, lunches and coffee, graphics and ads and terms like branding and cross-promoting, conference rooms and a construction site, trying to figure out what to wear and how personal to be, since all these people I meet with are kinda the only people I know in this whole state besides my family.

One day this week I had stopped at a store between meetings to find some career duds (they mean a different thing entirely when you’re working a few blocks from the ocean. I have been asked on several occasions, while wearing a simple skirt & top, why I am so dressed up…). I also needed a purse big enough for my iPad so I don’t have to drag my clunky laptop everywhere. After that, I met someone from a tourist magazine for lunch at a popular place with a view of the ocean.

I almost had to pinch myself.

Was it just a month ago I was shopping for jeans – which I haven’t worn since we got here? Was it just a month ago that a lunch meeting meant me and a few other moms making PB&J assembly-line style for the kids and then ‘treating’ ourselves to more coffee, sandwiches with avocado and Laughing Cow cheese and a few rogue brownies? Was it just a month ago that my afternoon schedule resembled this?

Yeah. Yeah, it was.

I don’t know how to be this new person, though I am mostly just being me. I am, currently, that woman who tells anecdotes about her kids around the conference table (And then my 3 year old said, ‘I want to go to the beach, and then the pyramid to eat nachos.’ Yes…KK is infatuated with Hard Rock Cafe, another place where I had lunch this week). I am the one asking people for hair salon and pizza parlor recs. I am the one trying not to cry when I mention that Paige is leaving for college in Kentucky in August, trying not to cry when my moments with the kids are filled with discipline and whining and them asking for their friends or their brother or their Gramma and Papa or their dog, instead of idyllic moments of patient and affectionate reading and playing on the shore.

I am figuring it out. But as is my M.O., I don’t have a lot of patience with this process.

That Mom in the picture up there, smiling on a windy day on which her friend hosted an Easter egg hunt for our kids, she is the same career girl shown below, high from a professional success, hot from the sun, happy to be at a photo shoot on the beach.


I’m still me, I keep telling myself, and this golden age of little kids who get to play all the time and bring me along, it would have ended soon anyhow. I am not defined by what I do. I am ‘their’ mom, I am ‘his’ wife, I am ‘their’ friend, and I am ‘their’ associate.

And I am grateful for every fancy lunch, free of screams and boogers and interruptions, mostly.

But nothing really tastes better at noon than Laughing Cow cheese surrounded by the laughter of friends.

In the spotlight

Originally published: Adventures in the Life of a Southern Gospel Wife ~ August 2009 ~ SGMRadio.com

When I think back to my wedding, almost 6 years ago today, I cringe a little. It was a beautiful day, a perfect ceremony, a fun reception, the start of a life I would not trade for anything. But on August 8, 2003, I still didn’t really understand grace. On that day, I was still thinking about whom I had let down, hadn’t pleased, lost forever. I was thinking too much about who wasn’t there and wondering who didn’t want to be there. I was still worried that I would never be good enough to live the dreams I’d always had.

I was the Bride, made-up, tiara-wearing, in love, and yet I was worried about being the center of attention. Surely, there were people watching us in that spotlight, wanting us to fail. See, though our wedding day felt like a fairy tale, from my ‘angel wings’ dress to our vows set to song to the prayer said over our new family to the Mexican fiesta dinner for 100 of our friends, our beginning was not that of a fairy tale, and the cloud of judgment and guilt followed me down the aisle. Sometimes it still follows me.

I have watched with some interest and also some dread as a Christian couple in the media spotlight recently decided to go their separate ways. I find myself defensive in light of the criticism around them. I try putting myself in their shoes and wondering how it is they cope with so much unsolicited feedback. On one hand, when people live their lives in the spotlight, public response should be expected. On the other hand, when you’re a Christian in the spotlight, you hope feedback from other Christians is more Christ-like than cutting, even when you are clearly struggling to live out your faith.

I tried to keep all of these thoughts far from the front of my mind as my husband and I, with our far-less-than-perfect past and our abundance of grace, headed to Missouri for the first Branson Gospel Music Convention. Seemingly out of nowhere, God gave us the vision of this event and the passion and… insane ambition!.. to carry it out. As we drew closer, I tried to ignore the thoughts of ‘Who do you think you are?’ ‘What do you think are trying to do?’ and “People are going to figure you out and turn on you.” In my own strength, I always fail to keep those thoughts at bay. I have what Joyce Meyer has termed ‘approval addiction,’ and on the cusp of the biggest undertaking in my professional and certainly in my ministerial life, I could only rely on the unwavering arms of God to keep me above that fray.

On the subject of those arms, don’t you wish you could feel the hand that gently wipes your tears or the arms that embrace you when you want to fall down? Do you ever wish that you could physically see the loving smile of Jesus? Do you ever wish He was tangibly sitting in the passenger seat of your car giving you directions, or that He was at the back of the auditorium nodding His head while you were at the front singing His praises, or that He was seated at your kitchen table calmly chatting while you were trying to fix dinner and keep the kids from tearing the door off the refrigerator? Sometimes I feel a bit envious of the disciples, who walked and talked and ate late-night nachos (you know what I mean), with the Lord. Even though they did not have some of our advantages – such as comfort, freedom, the book of Revelation – they got to touch Jesus, hear His voice, even know the scent of Him. We have our faith to rely on, but what I wouldn’t give in times such as Branson-eve to simply be in the presence of His kind eyes and loving voice and real-time wisdom!

Turns out, though, that once again, Jesus was waiting for me with a miracle. I didn’t share with anyone – not my husband, not my closest friends, not my parents, how I was feeling, how I was waiting for someone to basically come and throw me out of my own convention for not being good enough. In fact, I don’t think I even told God or myself. But He knew, and He showed up for me in ways so big, I am pretty sure I saw and felt Him in the most real sense possible.

On the first morning we were in Branson, the early arrivers gathered in an upper room, just above the exhibit hall floor, to pray. They looked at Rod and me with a bit of expectation, so Rod spoke from his place of confidence and excitement, and I started to speak out of my emotion… and I couldn’t! I looked into a crowd of 40 or so faces that were smiling at me, supporting me, and in it with me, and I was overcome. Jesus was there on those faces and in the hands that joined in a circle to lift His name. In those opening moments, before any tickets were checked or matching outfits were donned, before the stage or the sound equipment was set, before there was an audience beyond ourselves, God spoke to me, and He spoke through those of like precious faith that surrounded me, and He said, “I am here, and this is where I want you to be.”

One week later, I am still trying to put together all the thoughts and feelings and memories and plans that have sprung forth from Branson GMC. I am trying to explain to those around me, be it in person or on Facebook, that the ‘convention’ was not only a ‘success’ because of tickets sold or blessings working in other people’s lives, but because God used that week to write His grace on the walls for me. He gave people words to share with me (Thank you Roger, Kenny, Eddie, Cheryl, Julia, Ron, Bobby, Sharona, Brenda, Jimmy, Wayne, Annette, Stacey, Anthony, Lynda, and that radio lady who prayed with me, and so many more!) He gave people to take over at times so I could soak in the spirit in the music, particularly when my husband was on the platform, and I was able to resume my role as his Southern Gospel Wife. He gave people to care for my babies in such a way that I did not once have to worry or even feel too guilty about going days at a time without changing diapers (thank you Mom and Dad!).

I learned so much about God’s favor during Branson GMC. I heard it through the testimonies of others, and those are being captured in the press and on blogs and in the ministries of the artists who were there. But I want to tell the world for one moment, one page, about MY JESUS, and how He came through for me… how he assured me that grace reaches the depths of any pit, that He has in fact ordained my marriage for the good of His kingdom, and that He will use me for His glory and gain, not because of my skills or ideas or even my humility, but simply because of my willingness to be used.

Friend, if you read this and you are afraid of the call of God on your life, afraid of the spotlight that might be cast on your past, let me tell you: God has forgiven you and that alone means He wants to use you. At 32 years of age, I find myself in a very different light than I did at 22, or even 30. Being in His light, in His will, is where you will find Him in a real way. Don’t worry that the light is too bright and too many eyes will be upon you. When your heart is right before Him, all you have to do in the spotlight is hold up His message for all to see.