Category: announcements

The Best Desires (2014)

When are you going to write again?

Rod and Kelly 12-21-13I’ve been asked over and over. I think this year is the least I have written in many. It’s not from a lack of content or desire. Maybe, if anything, it’s been that my heart and my head are too full.

This time last year, we were looking to a “small” set of changes. Rod was beginning a new job, one he’d wanted for awhile, one that would be more travel for him but more financial stability for us. Our oldest had just gotten married. Our youngest two were starting to eat from the big dinner plates… you know… not babies anymore. In our heads, we planned “big kid” trips (horseback riding, maybe New York city) and looked forward to a more mature family life. No. For real. Those were our “plans.”

A surprise positive pregnancy test on February 5th changed the essence of those plans, the essence of our future.

An even more surprising miscarriage three weeks later changed the essence of how I see everything.

fly_away_homeFour years ago right now, I learned what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4) In youthfulness, I thought it was as simple as… trust God, praise God, yada yada, and He will give you what you want. And this very day 4 years ago, after our house had been for sale since May and we planned with all our hearts to move to Nashville, I finished reading a novel that had nothing to do with anything. It was an enjoyable read in which the main characters retreated to Cape Cod during a time of crisis. I closed the cover and asked Rod,

Why can’t we live at the beach?

And The Next Day, we had a lunch meeting that changed the course of our plans, our move, our lives.

Now, when I think of God giving me the desires of my heart, it’s more like, “I trust You, God. Go on ahead.” And then I see His hand wave over me, and the plans He has for me, the ones that far surpass my own, take root and grow in my heart. His desires become mine. He GIVES me the desires He hopes I will strive for when I open myself to Him.

That surprise positive test in February changed everything. It changed our dreams of “12 more years until we’re alone” and “When will the kids be old enough to take on a cruise and not be pains in the butt?” to “Our family isn’t done yet.” So we gave ourselves this year to “try”…

This wasn’t a light decision, folks.

– THE DAY the doctor told me our baby had no heartbeat was the day our son and daughter-in-law told us they were pretty sure a baby of their own was on the way.KK turns 6 (Also happened to be KK’s 6th birthday…!)
– Rod was about to turn 50.
– I had just, just weeks before, after years of waffling, made peace with not having any additional kids. And I was finally getting in shape again…

But God used that sweet baby who was ours on earth for such a short time to plant more desires. In spite of all the reasons why we shouldn’t have wanted more kids, we did.

And in spite of a report in 2004 that we’d “probably never be able to get pregnant,” I got pregnant twice in a matter of 5 months.

Jack's first pictureSeeing our baby boy on the ultrasound screen for the first time, in June, was one of the greatest moments of my life. The ultrasound we had in February was a nightmare in so many ways. But when the screen shined with “new” baby’s little discernible body, his arms waving all around (they haven’t stopped), I felt Jesus fill the room. It was a miracle!

Life after death is a specific joy. And while it doesn’t mean I haven’t occasionally struggled with fear, stress, discomfort, or even a bit of physical misery, the prospect of having our Jack, the preparation for his arrival, the peace in knowing that this will complete our family, is nothing short of amazing.

Poppy, Gigi, and NoraMeanwhile – yes, meanwhile – there is more to life. This year, we have seen our “big kids” grow and prosper in their careers. We were given the gift of Nora, our first grandchild, who is healthy, peaceful, and a sweet, blissful blessing.

Our little girls have continued to go with the flow. They mourned the loss of our February baby (David) with us. They’ve coped with their Mama’s abilities being hampered much of this year…and let me take naps when I needed them! And they have blossomed more into their awesome selves. One of my most treasured memories of this year will be the road trip the 3 of us took to Chicagoland in June. We made it straight through together and had fun stopping for caffeine, listening to a favorite book, and getting through a torrential Midwest thunderstorm. I can’t wait to see them being Big Sisters together.

I started this year planning to go back to school for a ministry degree… taking on a second part time job as an editor…losing my last grandparent when Gramma passed on my 37th birthday. It’s been a weird year. I guess, in many ways, I’ve been reset. Just when I was feeling my strongest and most confident, I find myself most vulnerable (because at the end of pregnancy… oy! I can barely put my own pants on!) and quite unsure about how things will look in 2015.

road trip!But… I know I am living out the right plans, the best desires for me… because God put them here.

Some things have not changed this year. My husband’s hand is still readily in mine, whether it’s over the phone from a distant hotel room, a look shared between us while he ministers with his bass guitar on the church stage and I in the altar praying, next to me in the minivan we said we’d never have, or while we nuzzle our girls or little Nora together. My feet still love being in the sand. My home is still an open place for the friends I feel I finally made this year, the old ones who come to visit, and the new ones in the future.

Not long after I purged our cabinets of little plastic plates and sippy cups, we have crazy new things in our house, like a crib and a high chair and lots of onesies and even cloth diapers. It makes me laugh. We are not living the life I thought we’d be living on the cusp of 2015.

We are living a perfectly-designed adventure that I would not trade.

Happy New Year!

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Chicagolina 2014

The holidays were wonderful – the wedding was beautiful.
We said goodbye to my dear Gramma, the day I turned 37.
There are a million thoughts, but also, a few changes, and so,
this space remains, but is perhaps a little less visited these days.

See, I’ve been remade from the inside out over these past 3 years.
Now, I’m focusing work on the outside. I want…and NEED… to be stronger and healthier and for my outside to reflect who I really am.

I am pleased to be featured at A MOTHER’S HEART bi-weekly and ABSOLUTELY GOSPEL monthly. I am also the humbled and proud new co-Senior Editor of TRU Magazine! Please keep visiting… there is always a spot on my Chicagolina beach for you!

chicagolina 2014

(In)courage…INCREDIBLE!

About 5 weeks ago, the night before we left for Colombia, after I had left the girls with my parents, before Rod & Paige returned from Rod’s concert four hours away, I had a lot to do…including packing…but there was something at the top of my list:

Writing a submission for incourage.me

I love this site (‘home for the hearts of women’). I love the writing, the style, and all that it stands for. And I was in love with the opportunity to share, to be published, on a site that had (sorry, Honey! sorry Rob!) but nothing to do with gospel music or anyone that I know. Whether my submission was accepted would be all about me.

The night before we left Colombia to return home, I received an email that it was accepted. Not only that, but Lisa-Jo (the Community Manager for the site, and in a related note – a Compassion blogger!) sent me a  personal response to it, relating to me on my chosen subject, Prodigals.

Yep – this one if for Josh. And in some ways, my Mom and Dad, too.

If you read this blog or any of my other writing, you are such a support to me. Today, please go and read at this site. I know you will want to return to it!


For Rod

Six years ago tomorrow, my life changed forever. My parents walked me down the aisle and at the end I joined hands with my best friend. We had a rocky start, and we did not in any way to deserve or believe in the fairy tale wedding we were in the midst of, but we had it. We sang our vows to each other, a dear friend performed our ceremony, and the two children I was also committing to that day joined with us for a family blessing.

Then we rocked the night away with a Mexican fiesta and really good music and about 100 wonderful friends & relatives.

To say we have lived a few lifetimes since then  is not much of an exaggeration. Rod and I are both type-A. We don’t sit still . We’re always looking for the next thing to happen. During our first year of marriage, I lost my project management job at AT&T Broadband/Comcast and used my severance to return to school for my English Education degree. I also got sick with a ruptured appendix that shaped our next year: going through fertility testing and discovering we could not have a baby. Meanwhile, Josh was getting ready to start high school, Paige was trying to find her musical niche, and we were learning how to be a family together on a roller coaster of fun and frustration.

After I got my teaching degree and started a new career, our infertility drama ended with a miracle. Miranda came and I became a stay-at-home mom. Rod began to feel a stirring that grace had sparked in him. He began singing more in church and recorded a project in our living room. Before we knew it, we had a new baby and he was booking concert dates and signing a record contract. Before we knew it, Miranda was seven months old and we were expecting our sweet Kaity!

Then came Branson… the convention we threw… kind of like one throws a really big wedding… lots of details, lots of planning, lots of work, lots of fun. We were the owners, the staff, and the hosts. And as I have told most people I know by now, working at the convention was like coming home for me. Professionally, I was more exhilarated than I had been in years. Personally, I had breakthroughs in some of my insecurities. Spiritually, by the end of the week, Rod and I knew, just knew, that Branson GMC 2009 was only the beginning of something for us and our family.

When we got home, we crashed… not just from exhaustion, but from the high we’d been riding. We felt a bit displaced, out of sorts. How do you go back to ‘normal life’ after experiencing what we did? We talked a lot between us and to others about how edgy we felt – edgy as in on the ede of something but not sure what. We knew a new dream was being birthed in us. We knew we wanted to do something more. We felt that God was calling us to something new.

And then Tuesday, Rod was sent home from his job of over 10 years at Comcast.

DISCLAIMER: I do not belittle that these are challenging times. I know good friends and family who are struggling financially. I do not want to make it seem like it’s a small thing that a daddy of four just lost his job. But…

This is a good thing.

This is God writing on our wall.

This is our call to full time ministry, ministry-related projects, and, I think, homeschooling our two youngest children.

This is our ordination, nod from God, and really, another miracle.

Financially, we are cared for for the next 10 months. Rod already has some consulting leads. We both already have work from home ventures that have great potential. I won’t say that I don’t worry some, but mostly I know that God is doing something and He will provide what we need if we serve and search and obey.

I can’t really describe the feeling, after 6 CRAZY, jam-packed years, of waking up in the morning and not sending Rod to the office, knowing he is torn between different worlds and different needs. He looks like a new man since Tuesday afternoon. His eye bags are a lot smaller, and he’s not even using the BeautiControl eye gel I bought for him!

People have always made fun of us for being sappy together. We always talk on the phone multiple times during the day. We always hold hands and hug and say ‘I love you.’ We cherish our date nights and sometimes pursue them aggressively, even if it means going to ‘The Jewels’ for milk after the kids are asleep. I have a great circle of friends, but there is no one I’d rather be with than Rod. I love that he is going to be here more. I love that he has put the girls down for their naps the last three days. I love that now, truly, we can be partners in everything.

And on the eve of our six-year wedding anniversary, I love mostly what he continues to bring to my life and to my family.. strength, integrity, honesty, MUSIC, fun, and Peace. I am the Irish-Italian temper around here. Rod brings the calm when we need it. I don’t think he knows how much that means to all of us, but I found this verse recently, and waited until today to ‘give’ it to him:

I became in his eyes as one who found peace. Song of Solomon 8:10

Happy Just-the-Beginning, Baby!

Oh THIS is how I do that..

This has nothing to do with the post, but represents the lovely side of balance: family & friends!
This has nothing to do with the post, but represents the lovely side of balance: family & friends! Pictured: Two of my oldest friends (from first day of school in 1982!) and our combined 8 (and a half) kids.

This week has been all domestic, from catching up on laundry to cooking actual dinners to arranging playdates.

I think I forgot how to do it. The time period between Josh’s graduation and Branson GMC was filled with trips and preparation for trips and the Event, and I stopped cooking and playing and kind of stopped enjoying.

This week, however, I was reminded. And here are some delightful, humorous, and sometimes frustrating parts of my full time & most important job:

– The girls really like to be cuddled in the morning, as we each sip our drinks (milk in a sippy, milk in a bottle, coffee-cream-Splenda in a travel mug) and ponder the WGN morning news and/or Sesame Street. It’s a bit hard for antsy me to sit on the couch without texting or making a list or straightening something, so I have to keep reminding myself how nice it feels to have an armful of babies!

– Taking Paige to/from driver’s ed during the ‘witching hours’ (between naps & dinner) has been a little bit crazy, but mostly a good break in the day, and it’s very convenient to drop by Aldi’s on the way back, leave the 3 girls in the car, and get whatever dumb little thing I need to finish dinner. Ahem.. I will pause here to reflect on a Huge Mom Fail. Paige will be 16 in September, and we are all eagerly awaiting the addition of another driver in the family. However, we somehow missed that lovely, always sensible Illinois law changed last year, and kids now have to hold theirs permit for 9 months before they get their licenses. I have no problems with this law; I only wish we had known about it so we could have gotten her permit, you know, 9 months ago. She now won’t be able to get her license until spring. Grrr.. and so sorry, Pa-hey.

– We did outings this week. On Tuesday we went to the tot pool and then visited my Gramma in her new home at my aunt & uncle’s house. Some cousins were there as well, and we had fun.. trying on Gramma’s shoes, using her purses, reminiscing as we cleaned out the ‘playroom’ closet, eating lunch together, and playing in sidewalk chalk (although I hope poor 7-yr-old cousin Jade has recovered from Miranda’s efforts to color ‘with’ her/destroy her pictures).  Later that night we went for a walk to the park with Daddy (I think; I might have my days messed up). Yesterday we met some friends at the pool, then played & picnicked at the park, which led to a mid-afternoon shower time, which led to long, luxurious naps for the kiddos. Today, with no plans stretched before us, we went for our first bike ride in Awhile.. it was wonderful! Then we went on another excursion to Target, then Miranda decided we should eat Taco Bell in the car (which will lead to regrets on several levels, but for now, was fun. I had a book with me, they had music. Score!) Tonight we are getting together with more friends and tomorrow we will celebrate some birthdays with Lasagna Night at my parents’ house.

Meanwhile this week, I was offered an opportunity to take on another role, one that, quite possibly, I have been waiting for almost as long (ok, or longer) than I waited to be a mommy. We are in such a state of flux around here.. wondering what is next, what the next year looks like, that at first I was thrown, or at least, I pretended to be. Then I thought about for about 10 seconds and decided that it was a good move… that like all the other changes in our lives over the past 7 years, we will make it work, make it thrive, or make it go away.

So, along with being AgainMama, Southern Gospel wife, Branson GMC queen (not my words, but I like ’em :)… I am now also the new Editor-In-Chief of SGN Scoops. (Go ahead.. check out the current issue.. and know that it’s going to look and feel way different pretty soon!)

I am holding on… and letting go.. as I get ready to embark upon my latest new career!