Archive of ‘The Good Life’ category

It’s happening

I spend a lot of time in the mirror.

It’s true.

But unlike the Kelly of her twenties who was curling her $140 salon colored hair, while applying her Bath and Body works lotion to her extremely tan body, put on her Victoria Secret underwear and spritzed her neck with her $100 bottle of Marc Jacobs (dang that stuff smells like an angels wing) The Kelly who is just 16 months from being forty…that’s FOUR-ZERO sits indian style on the counter of her poorly lit bathroom and sighs deep, sad sighs at the face looking back at her.

Whoa baby….time marched on and it marched all over my face!

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Can you even take this girl serious??? The photo on the left was a dare…the one on the right I totally own…I chose to wear that IN PUBLIC. ARE YOU KIDDING ME KELLY in her 20’s??? Oiy Vey!!!

Also why buy a tanning pass for 15 visits when for ten dollars more you can get unlimited visits in a month. I literally tanned for five years straight in my twenties…just ask my chest…wait…you don’t have to, the leathery look it’s taking on is proof enough of foolish vanity.

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Halloween party on the left…I was Louise of “Thelma and Louise”. Skinniest I ever was as an adult. Sniff..sigh. Looking good on the outside…GIANT HOT MESS ON THE INSIDE!!! Read this post for the story.

I now curl my $6.50 box of Feria hair and make due with a $15 haircut. I rub in my dollar store lotion given to me by my children that smells oddly of alcohol and flowers left in a vase too long. It immediately absorbs into my child bearing thighs. My legs pale, dimply and showing their first signs of spider veins beg me to throw my sweats back over them but not before I put my sad Walmart cotton underwear on…you know the kind with the odd, thin piece of elastic sticking out. I’m convinced my bras and underwear silently weep in the drawer at night. They really need to be put out to pasture. I spritz my imitation “Pleasures” on my aging chest and continue the arduous grooming process.

I got the short end of the stick in the skin gene department. Currently wrinkles and acne are duking it out for residency on my face. It’s not fair…acne AND wrinkles. Shouldn’t one negate the other? Don’t get me going on black heads and pore size (or baby bird baths as I call them). I stroke my children’s flawless cheeks and burn with envy at their non existent pores.

It’s happening….It’s happening like a Japanese bullet train and there isn’t much I can do but watch my Titanic sink and stand on the deck playing my violin with as much dignity as I can muster.

The exact wrinkle pattern around my eyes, which up to just a few years ago was only visible when I smiled hard, now sits well mapped out around my eyes even when I am straight faced and relaxed. When did that happen? When did I need to google eye creams? When was it necessary to pluck disgusting black hairs from my chin that are as thick as an 18 gauge stud. Why are 1/3 of my eyebrows now pointing straight up? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

I’m trying to make peace with the grays that are weaseling their way around my hair line, even invading my eye brows!!! To be fair…I did win the hair lottery in life. I always think of that line in the Little Women movie with Christian Bale ( swoon LAURIE!!!!!!!) Where Amy says to Jo after she cuts her hair. “Jo….your one beauty!”

DON’T YOU DARE leave a comment with affirmations, this post isn’t about that, I’m not fishing for compliments here…I’m just laying out some harsh realities we all face. We all get old. Nobody is exempt.

I bet about now you are thinking…”Wow that Ryan’s a lucky guy!!” Ha, dang skippy he is! Seriously, I have the BEST husband that not only helps me keep it light about the steep decline but has an awesome sense of humor about the parts of his body and skin that are boycotting youth.

Kelly in her twenties made it her life’s mission to hide any and all flaws she could. Now I’m all “Hey Ry…get in here…look at this weird tag wart…it looks like a baby claw.” I laugh so I don’t cry. I’m thankful Ryan grabbed me at my peak…literally. It’s not fair…girls seem to age in rough and dramatic ways and men seem to get more dapper and distinguished the older they get. What gives?

This is the power of photography at work ladies. You bump that exposure up a hair and voila! Wrinkles, scars, acne…be gone! Poof!!! It’s the reason I only use a select few head shots to “represent” me to the general public.

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Our amazing friend and photographer, Adam Barnes, gave us some amazing head shots in the new year.

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Just in case you didn’t realize there is 16 inches between Ryan and myself. I even have three inch booties on to help.

This is real life. Taken just now. Even the computer screen is giving me some help from it’s white hot glow. Left over mascara still clumped together. I tell the teachers at school there are two moms of my children. This is the mom that drops them off. (Sorry, don’t know why it’s flipped)
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and then somewhere along the day I get my act together and a new “more hip and fresh” mom picks them up.
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That mirror is supremely clean. Sorry for the poor iphone photos…the sun is boycotting coming out lately.

My mom once told me many years ago “You will love your 30’s and 40’s the most.” Well I don’t know about my 40’s yet but my 30’s have brought a mental and emotional freedom I could never have imagined in my 20’s. The women that have flanked my life for the last few decades…my soul sisters…we’ve learned a lot, we settled into ourselves and we’ve realized the folly and striving of our youth. We are all the wiser for it. We swap our aging whoa stories like a bunch of old vets sitting at a diner counter. Stretch marks mean the miracle of birth, crows feet mean years of laughter, saddle bags….well…I don’t have anything nice to say about those things. The point is, I am surrounded by women who have fought for a life well-lived. Who don’t just talk about kingdom living, they are walking it out. We see how doggone hard and misguided our twenties were and we’ve made peace with our foolish, insecure, petty, self-indulgent, narrow-minded, overly introspective and superficial pasts for the greener pastures of self-contentment, security in the Lord, simplifying our lives and burning off the chaff of cancerous people.

I got an email from Jen Hatmaker….I’m sure it was just to me because she and I are tight that way. Jay Jay and Kay Kay talking it out over email.

I kid. I wish.

Did I mention I’m going to IF: Gathering NEXT MONTH… IN AUSTIN… I will be just a few hundred feet from Jen laughing my full horse gum laugh and letting my eye road map wrinkles gloriously shine while I sit next to one of my best friends on this earth who I haven’t seen in over two years. The thought of next month is too lofty for me to hold in my brain.

Anywho…she sent an advanced peek for her book “For the Love” coming out in August. I know adding this on to my post makes is mega long but it is SO worth the read. She just NAILS the best parts of getting old and doing it with amazing women at your side. She is hysterical and I connect so well to her writing. Enjoy! Be of good cheer younger readers…it gets SO much better sans the aging part. It’s worth it…

“I turned forty this year.

Forty! Which is so weird because I’ve always been young. I’ve been young my whole life, as a matter of fact. No matter how I dissect this, I’ve aged out of the ‘young’ category to the ‘middle’ group. My brain feels confused about this because I am so juvenile. I make up my own words to hip-hop songs and quote Paul Rudd as an actual parenting strategy; surely I am a preteen. But much like Shakira: these hands don’t lie.

So gather round, young things, for I know you think me ancient. You think forty is so distant it cannot be comprehended, though basic math confirms it a mere, say, eleven years away. In my 20s, I pitied the middle-agers as they clearly had one foot in the grave. I will never be forty, said my young deluded self. I will always have this elastic body and newborn baby hands. My forehead will appear kissed by angels every morning. I will pee only if and when I want to.

Something weird happens to your brain. This brain has served you well for so long, but it starts punking out on you. You can’t remember directions, you forget why you walked into a room, for the life of you, you can’t recall that third kid’s name (“Take out the trash…I want to say…Chris?”). You will talk on your cell phone while looking around your house for your cell phone. No one helps because they are laughing at you; these people you live with mock this behavior. Sometimes your husband will say a sentence using English words, but for some reason, the sentence won’t compute and you stare at him blankly, like a pigeon, because the words are so confusing. What is he trying to say? What are these words? Is this a trick? Talking is hard.

And the learning. Heaven help if you need to learn something new. At this point, education is a fool’s mission. Your brain is not helpful. It is done. It already took you to college and did the heavy lifting the last twenty years, and it is taking a cigarette break. This is unfortunate because about this time you go back to middle and high school with your spawn. You are expected to help with algebra and chemistry and the remembering of all the things, but your brain resembles the bottom of your purse; lost pen caps and congealed undefined filth. It feels furious about this chemistry. It feels angry about this new math. It will not have this crap. It will take a nap and those children can work their own stuff out. Your brain already completed 11th grade. It has done its time.

Skin. Come close, all ye still bathing in the fountain of youth: TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN. I know, you’ll never be old and wrinkly and being tan is just the best, but you’ll soon regret this folly. It’s strange with the skin, because sometimes your brain helps you survive the bathroom mirror (remember it is addled, plus denial is strong, young Jedi), but then you see a picture and you’re like I was in some terrible lighting and also the angle is tragic and plus the shadows made my neck look weird and for the love of Annie Leibovitz DO MY FRIENDS NOT KNOW HOW TO USE INSTAGRAM FILTERS?? It is all very distressing. Sometimes I baby talk parts of my body into resisting the mutiny: Come on, Shins. I’m counting on you. You’ve always been good to me. You don’t want to be like Neck and Eyelids and Chest, those loose floozies. Hang in there, baby, and you’ll be the last part of me that sees the light of day.

Now listen, sweet young thing, in case you’ve lost the will to live, there is some good news too. You won’t just be a wrinkled, cranky chub who can’t find her glasses while wearing them. You get some other goodies besides incontinence.

You get a decent handle on who you are, what you are good at, what you love, what you value, and how you want to live. These questions used to keep me up at night. Young one, if you worry endlessly about purpose and trajectory, identity and worth, forty brings security you can’t imagine. I know what I am good at now and I do it. I’m not apologetic and uncertain and aw-shucks about running my race. I no longer tiptoe through my own life, doubting my gifts and my place, too scared to go for it, seize it, pray for it, dream it. When you’re forty, you no longer wait for permission to live. It’s time, and as Maya Angelou said, “Life loves the liver of it.”

In the same way, I don’t look sideways as much. Oh my stars, when I was 29, I was so hamstrung by what everyone else was accomplishing. Other people were my benchmark and comparison stole entire years. I lost much time in jealousy, judgment, and imitation. I just couldn’t find my own song. I struggled to celebrate others’ achievements, because they felt like indictments on my uncertainty. Now fully able to cheer wildly for friends and colleagues, a constrictive mesh netting is removed from my heart and I am free to be me, everyone else is free to be themselves, and I am thrilled about both.

At forty you develop resiliency. I needed approval desperately even ten years ago. Criticism crushed me. Conflict paralyzed me. Disapproval evaporated me. Consequently, I took the safest path through every scenario to avoid reproach. As an approval addict, it shocks even me to tell you that, to some degree, you won’t care much what anyone thinks of you, your parenting, your marriage, your career, your politics, your house, your wardrobe, your hair, your kids, your choices, your church, your dog, your new red front door, your comfortable flats, your stretchy pants, your daughter’s hair, your son’s weird occupation with vintage ska, your favorite college sweatshirt you still wear, your decision to homeschool/private school/public school, your new resolve to go vegan, your consistent purchase of Lunchables, your decision to work, your decision to quit, your random idea to purchase chickens. It just won’t matter. If people don’t like it, well, tra la la. It’s not that you become unteachable or unleadable or uncorrectable, but differing opinions stop shaking every decision and critical words won’t send you to bed. You develop chops, sister. You’re going to love it.

So sure, your body and mind get whack, but I promise, sweet young thing, you wouldn’t return to your 20’s for all the unwrinkled skin on earth. You’ll like it here. You will love better, stand taller, laugh louder. You’ll pass out grace like candy. Real life will temper your arrogance and fear, and you will adore the next version of yourself. We all will.

But just in case: wear sunscreen every day, for the love.”

I can’t tell you how many paragraphs I left out because I wanted to copy and paste them all!! So good right?

Happy New Year readers.

HAPPY ONE YEAR TO ME, to you….to all of you that have hung in here with my unbelievably infrequent blogging pattern and still chose to check in, read and leave your words of love here, on FB or Instagram. I have read and cherished each word. I have LOVED pouring my heart out on these pages and look forward to an incredible year full of MANY adventures going deeper in the kingdom!!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. XOXOXO

The foolish woman and a blue chair

I nervously eyed the price tag and then back at the sales clerk, “Four hundred dollars huh?” She watched me lustfully stare at the blue beauty beckoning me from the store display.

“Don’t worry, we have our own credit card with a low interest rate so you will have it paid off in no time.”

I knew better. I was raised to never, ever buy something unless I had the cash BUT (there is always a but when we justify spending) I was 21, had my first full time job making 18K a year AND my first apartment!!! Besides, they said I would have it paid off in no time.

Yeah….no time translated to $50 plus interest for the next eight months. That was just ONE thing I bought for my apartment in 1998. The decorating bug hit me and my champagne taste on my Coors Light budget started an ugly ball rolling in my life that compounded….literally…over the next ten years.

When I bought that blue chair in 1998 I thought my apartment was the shizzzz. Compliments started rolling in about what a great place I had, what an eye for color I had,”You should be a decorator” etc…. Words, words…more words people…Kelly needs all the words.

I found these few snapshots in my basement of my super trendy apartment, ha!
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Do you see my blue chair in all its glory? I clearly have a future in decorating in Florida one day with my white pillars, glass top and bright colors. That dining room set was my other debt I incurred after the blue chair. Got it at Pier One! I was somethin’ I tell ya…somethin’. I was taking over the world one electric blue, lime green and white item at a time.

Three years later I went to Kazakstan for 10 weeks on a short term missions trip. I subleased my apartment, furnished, while I was gone to some friends. When I got back I found out that my precious blue chair now had a glob of dried super glue smack dab in the front center of the chair.

Cue sad tears, shock, horror, and knots in my stomach. How? Why? WHY?????

At the time I was devastated, showing my true attachment to this physical item. Now I think it is hilarious because it was the first of MANY lessons God was going to teach me about letting go of what rust and moths (and super glue) can destroy and really just live and use my stuff whether it was perfect or not. Super glue did not negate the fact it was a fun color and super comfortable chair.

Remember, I do come from a heritage of perfection and OCD…so I had to un-do a lot of thinking in my twenties. A LOT OF THINKING.

I’d like to show you the blue chair today. It currently takes up residency in my basement as a “junk” chair. Dried super glue is the least of this guys worries these days. Faded, stained, swirled with blue marker and left for dead by three ravenous children. I throw a blanket over him to hide his shameful secrets. Maybe someday I can afford to recover him. Maybe.

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It’s time to talk about debt and over shopping. It’s time to address the foolish woman that lives inside all of us. It’s time to look at the “blue chairs” in our life.

Proverbs 22:7
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.”

Proverbs 14:29
“He who is impulsive exalts folly.”

Maybe your kryptonite isn’t house stuff, maybe it’s fancy purses, staying on trend with clothes, new cars, vacations, eating out constantly, jewelry, crafting supplies, technology, gym memberships and gear, organic living and supplements. Is there anything evil in the examples listed..not at all! It’s the manner in which they are bought and the heart intention behind them that has to be called in to question.

The never ending wall scuffs. Praise God for Magic Erasers.

The never ending wall scuffs. Praise God for Magic Erasers.

The United States is the poster child for excess…in our country of credit card offer after credit card offer filling our mailboxes, online shopping, free shipping, cash checking stores, layaway, etc…. We have become insatiable in our desires for stuff and the accessibility in which we can acquire it. The idea of moderation, cash only purchases, self control, saving up, and saying “No” makes you some freak of nature person who lives in the dark ages.

Whoever invented stainless steal never had kids.

Whoever invented stainless steal never had kids.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established, through knowledge it’s rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” Proverbs 24:3-4

A couple of posts ago I blogged my first house tour using this Proverb. This was to show a home that was filled with “rare and beautiful treasures” thriftily and thoughtfully arranged for use in the kingdom. That will be the purpose of any future house tour posts.

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I really want to tackle the first part of that Proverb. WISDOM BUILDS.

I’m showing you my imperfect home. I still love to decorate but now I only use cash and 90% of what is in our home is second hand or free. That was huge and liberating for me to realize you can still have a great house and not purchase it brand new from a store.

Truly the worlds most comfortable chaise lounge bought off a friend for $50.  It's struggling in areas but nothing a nice throw can't cover up in a jiffy.

Truly the worlds most comfortable chaise lounge bought off a friend for $50. It’s struggling in areas but nothing a nice throw can’t cover up in a jiffy.

I am most miserable when I am trying to maintain perfect in my home. I birthed three “home wreckers” named Sticky, Dirty and Poopy. Their job is to smash my dreams of a clean and picked up home within seconds of being awake. It doesn’t mean I don’t try to keep the house picked up, and truthfully it is picked up most all the time but I have to hold my belongings with a very VERY loose grip. The kids have chores and are quite helpful at times but still…I have a toddler that is running rampant all day making out with my windows among other annoying, destructive things.
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Bennett was mad he had to write lines for a punishment so he wrote on my vintage chair. Then I burned all his Legos....in my mind.

Bennett was mad he had to write lines for a punishment so he wrote on my vintage chair. Then I burned all his Legos….in my mind.

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We have actually acquired some sweet stuff from Ryan’s work place at Moore and Giles. I mean they make GORGEOUS leather goods. Gonna brag on my baby. He is the photographer and web designer there. All those incredible photos of leather and leather goods on their site are his skills that pay our bills!!

They have a warehouse sale once a year and this is where we scored deals like this…. $800 metallic gold poof for $25 because we bought it already “broken in”! I simply spin the poof towards the chair and WAHLAH it looks perfect!
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Or this $1000 buttery soft leather chair we got for $75. Rhett thought is was a super great spot to sharpen his claws. You never know when your kids will act like feral children.
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Our well worn hide.
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Why am I showing you all this? Partially to show that all of these items were new at some point and now they clearly are not. Not in the least. They have been loved and at times abused.

My huge white shag carpet in my living room is now a marbled pattern of white and gray. SO MANY PEOPLE have come through our living room and that’s the pattern of conversation, prayer and hospitality that is well worn over the last 2.5 years. I got the carpet at the Re-Store (Habitat for Humanity) for $100 (90% off!) So I can let guys who work manual labor and don’t want to take off their work boots and gag us out with their stinky, hot feet keep their boots on and come and sit in our living room and enjoy the cup of community. I don’t have to uncork my butt every time something is spilled or ripped. It’s not a free for all at my house. The kids aren’t allowed to eat anywhere but the dining room but stuff happens. I’m the worse coffee spiller offender of anyone in the house hands down!

My IKEA Craigslist Couch..came pre-stained!

My IKEA Craigslist Couch…my coffee spilling handiwork

Aftermath of quiet time.

Aftermath of quiet time.

When Ryan and I got married almost ten years ago we had a collective debt of $60,000. YUP….GO US!!! 28K in student loans, 12K in credit card debt, Car loans and various other things. Also Ryan didn’t have a job and I got pregnant six months later so we were losing my income shortly. You want to know what it is to panic? To feel like a vice is around your neck when you open your mail? It’s an awful feeling. We know debt.

Apparently not awful enough for most people.

I googled statistics on the average household debt in America as of this month.

Current as of December 2014
U.S. household consumer debt profile:

Average credit card debt: $15,608
Average mortgage debt: $154,847
Average student loan debt: $32,397
In total, American consumers owe:

$11.71 trillion in debt
An increase of 3.8% from last year
$881.8 billion in credit card debt
$8.13 trillion in mortgages
$1,126.0 billion in student loans
An increase of 9.6% from last year

That is D-I-S-G-U-S-T-I-N-G. There is no end in site. We are a country grossly out of control. Ryan and I were a couple who had blown giant holes in our marriage ship and we were sinking rapidly. One of the number one reasons for divorce in our country is financial strain.

Our church offers a financial study called Crowne Financial Ministries. We did not walk, we ran to register for this study within the first few months of marriage. What in the free world were we going to do to get out of debt, financially recover from losing my teaching salary and bring peace into our home?

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Say it with me….self-control. Now louder…..SELF-CONTROL. Snip, snip, snip the credit cards went. We absolutely, positively did not eat out, go to movies, exchange gifts, travel, take vacations, etc. It was so hard. I MEAN IT. A stupid cup of Starbucks coffee was cause for discussion. We sacrificed by staying home for most of the first 5-7 years of our marriage. You know what…that’s a hidden blessing!

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One of the questions Crowne asks of it’s attendees is “Is there anything you and your spouse can do to generate income?” This is where the idea of Kellan came about. People have some misunderstanding that we were two banging photographers that got married and this business just took off. Nope. I took one year of film photography in high school 12 years prior and Ryan had a Canon Rebel he took pictures with for funsies. I had a business/marketing background. He is technologically quite advanced and so we pushed our skill chips in together to see what we could come up with.

It is a miracle that anyone booked us in 2006. We had ZERO portfolio and no equipment but with my born saleswoman pitch and Ryan’s photography ability (which saved his ignorant wife who had no idea how to shoot digitally)…we razzle-dazzled our first 12-18 months with a giant cloud of smoke and mirrors around us until we actually knew what we were doing.

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Our photography business took off and off and off and we could raise and raise and raise our prices the better we got. Now that also brought a whole host of issues in our marriage with working 24 hours a day 7 days a week. (Read my About tab for that drama) but I am so happy to say that we not only took back our marriage we have paid off over $50K in debt in the last nine years (takes a bow). That is so crazy to even type but man I know the struggle and it was real to get to this point of almost being debt free. We are down to Ryan’s student loan and then the monkey will be off our back. It will be a glorious day once it happens and it will.

So I’m going to continue this post another time because there is much more to unpack about building a wise home. Let there be no mistake that the number one thing to a wise home is living in your means, saving, GIVING generously away to kingdom work, and USING what you have been given to bless your family and others. I can see no other way to live to cultivate peace and freedom in a home and marriage than that way. It may take years to get there but it is worth it! Don’t buy into the lie, especially in this season of “presents” that any “thing” is going to make you happy or fulfilled.

This season of Advent “coming” of baby Jesus is the perfect time to start fresh and new. He came to give us abundant life and freedom. To unshackle us from the chains we have on us voluntarily and involuntarily. His burden his light. He came to rescue us from all the weighs us down.

We put polaroids of places we have traveled and people that bless our lives to remember each year.

We put polaroids of places we have traveled and people that bless our lives to remember each year.

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Mean Girls

When I was six years old I did a bad thing. I mean who didn’t have moments of being naughty at six? But this bad thing has haunted me more than 30 years later.

There was an “older” girl down the street from me named Becky. Looking back I bet she was only about two years older but I was a tiny little squirt and she was on the bigger side so she seemed much older. Next door to me was a girl one year younger named Trish. She was really, really sweet and I played with her when I saw her outside but she was a little “different”.

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I was what I call a “floater” through childhood. I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t unpopular. I had a tiny circle of friends and was pretty shy but I could stay on the perimeter of the “cool group” and I wasn’t asked to leave.

One summertime afternoon Becky and I were playing outside in her front yard when Trish walked down the street near Becky’s house. She asked what we were doing and Becky sort of waved her over and said we were playing a game. I was a little confused but stood there quietly to see what this “game” was. She told Trish to put on a blind fold and to start spinning around and she would lead her around the yard by her voice and tell her where to go. Seemed pretty harmless so Trish obliged and put on the blindfold and started spinning in a circle.

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Becky started shouting out commands to an eager Trish. “Spin over to your right, farther, farther, farther.” I remember Trish smiling, her dirty blond locks a little matted like summer-time hair gets flying out around her shoulders as she picked up speed edging to her right.

Becky tried to to stifle a laugh as she beckoned Trish just a little farther. I knew something wasn’t right. Then I saw it.

A sticky, brown pile of dog poo on her lawn and an innocent, blind-folded, happily spinning Trish going right towards it…IN HER BARE FEET.

I knew that was my moment. You know that knot you get in your throat, the instant neck sweat that happens and your blood pressure starts pulsing through your temples? I needed to say something and fast. It was wrong and humiliating and I felt sick inside. It was pure meanness on Becky’s part taking advantage of Trish’s innocence and desire to belong.

But I choked..not literally…but figuratively. I stood there in complete silence and let her spin merrily through the dog poo. For an extra twist of the knife Becky told her to stand still and spin in place. RIGHT ON TOP of the pile of poo. I was dying inside…for Trish, for my puny backbone, for being alive that moment in time. Trish had no idea until she took the blindfold off and started smelling the poop but it was too late.

Of course Becky played dumb, “I didn’t see it, sorry” she says with a nonchalant shoulder shrug.

There was Trish left to hobble down the street in humiliation trying to wipe her feet and poo smashed toes on the lawns as she walked those two doors back down to her house.

I just stood there. I said nothing. I was an accessory to the crime. I didn’t even help when it was over. I have to own that.

At six years old I was tested, to a high degree, on my moral and ethical code and I came out the loser. Seriously, I watch that show “What Would You Do? on ABC and I am so physically uncomfortable watching the different ethical scenarios they test people with and I wonder….thirty plus years later…what would I do? Would I break through my introverted wall and stand up for what I know is right. I’d like to think I would at this point.

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Mean girls are not a new phenomenon. Nothing much has changed in thousands of years of humanity. We can look in chapter 16 of Genesis and see a prime example of “mean girl” ways. I mean Hagar becomes pregnant with Abrahams child and starts to taunt a barren Sarah. Pride and arrogance her fuel. In a twist of “mean girlness” Abraham allows Sarah to do as she wishes with Hagar and because she drank the cup of jealousy she casts her out into the desert. Peace out…good luck in the desert with you and your baby. I think we could call that a sinful touche.

Is it any surprise that my daughter is already encountering her first “mean girls” at school? It started last year in 1st grade. FIRST GRADE!!!! There was one ring leader in her class and she had two cronies. They decided who made the cut and who didn’t and they made darn sure on the playground and at lunchtime that the pecking order stayed in tight formation. Chloe didn’t make the cut last year but Chloe had two VERY SWEET friends in her class so she didn’t care. Sadly one of her BFF’s moved half way around the world. The girl who understood Chloe the very most in her life. Ours hearts grieve the loss of Lilly.

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If you’ve seen the movie series “Anne of Green Gables” (LITERALLY my most favoritist movies of all time) then you would have a pretty good picture of Chloe’s personality. She’s a very intelligent kid, a little socially awkward, very sweet and innocent, quirky, sure of her opinions and beliefs and loyal to her dearest friends. She doesn’t seek out or require many friends and so I always pray that she finds her “Diana” in life. The one friend who will get her and think her quirks are interesting and endearing as we find them to be. Lilly was her Diana but Diana has moved so Anne is a little lost at school now.

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Once my kids started public school last year it became quite obvious to me that they have an innocence about them that never stood out because of the community that we share life with. We have been careful about what and who we expose our children to. We aren’t raising “Children of the Corn” but during there very formidable years I have made sure that they do not come to knowledge on many things before the proper time. I mean our house is a revolving door of guests and ministry so they are learning about kingdom living inside our home and loving MANY different types of people.

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My kids still love stuffed animals and playing dress up. They play Pet Shops for hours together using all sorts of different voices. They run through the woods with wooden swords and use their imaginations. I feel a deep conviction to let them be kids as long as possible because once it’s gone…man it’s gone. Which leads me to this side bar and favorite Jack Handy quote.

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But I digress. So all that to say, Chloe sticks out a bit. She is the “weird” one in class not because she is weird but because she has that naive innocence about her. She would rather talk about Polly Pockets on the playground then talk about the boys in class. It’s caused her to be an outsider amongst her peers.
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Last Monday on the first week of school it started. She tried to play with one of her sweet friends from last year but was told by one of “the cronies” that she was not allowed to play with them and “Stop following us around!” Period…end of discussion.

2nd grade Kelly would have been devastated by said rejection but the Lord has implanted such a resilient and positive spirit in Chloe that I marvel. She recalls these events on the playground with a dry, “matter of fact” tone. She states that she is lonely but “It’s okay, the rest of the day was GREAT, I love school!”

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My mama bear heart wants to show up at the playground with my clubs and chains and whoop some sense into “the ring” but I know at the heart of meanness is a wounded child. The issue is greater than me ripping them a new one for being mean and ostracizing my child. I’ve also come to realize that I could shelter my children from pain and rejection but the Lord can use these seasons of being marginalized to be extremely teachable and instill a strong sense of compassion and empathy in my children that a perfect education bubble could never teach.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have no delight in seeing my children rejected but I also know it’s much easier to deal with this now than when they are a young adult and finally on their own. Life’s rejections only get bigger.

This is the reality of the fallen world. People are mean, REALLY mean. Our freedom of speech and accessibility to everyones intimate details of their life makes us prime targets for vicious words of attack and harsh judgement. We’ve had some really great discussions this week already about how to handle being left out. When you hear your child pray, “Lord help me to have eyes to see other kids alone on the playground so I can ask them to play.” Well my heart swells a little with pride. That’s exactly how the Lord wants us to take these situations and turn them into acts of strength and love. We have prayed for “her enemies” that they would learn to love and accept everyone.

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I’m not over here blowing a hot puff of air and shining my parenting trophy as well as hanging up a medal in Chloe’s room for most spiritually mature 2nd grader. We are walking this out together. My heart has BROKEN for her this week. I’ve cried and felt confused about what is best for my children. I’ve come full circle that this is a very good thing for Chloe to go through to build strength of character and to understand the Lord has gifted her with all the power of the spirit. She is PERFECTLY made and her sense of wonder and imagination is a true blessing from the Lord. She need not change or stoop low to belong. Dollars to donuts there is another little girl on that playground each day that feels the same way and they just haven’t found each other yet. We are praying her into Chloe’s life.

Do you have some “mean girl” in your past? Maybe you were like Hagar that was arrogant and proud and you kept those you deemed “less than” under your thumb. Perhaps you were more like Sarah that brimmed with jealousy so much so that she would do whatever it took to get her enemy out of her life. Maybe, like me, you were Abraham who sat silently by, watching it all unfold, and not stepping in and stepping up for what was right. Even worse…maybe you are like Ishmael. An innocent victim of the sin around him. Born into the bitterness, jealousy, pride and envy and paid a high price because of the lack of morals and ethics of those around him.

Each morning I sing a song of blessing to the kids before they get out of the car. It’s not gonna win me a Grammy but I can hold my own. The words are so apropos for children. They don’t begin to understand the depth and power of these words but I do. To hear the full song go here.

I BLESS YOU by Dennis Jernigan

I bless you with joy and peace and love that won’t let go.
I bless you with grace and faith and fire in your soul.
I bless you with dreams and visions most men don’t know.
I bless you with deeper knowledge of the Father’s love.

(Refrain)
I bless you with joy and laughter.
I bless you with a steadfast faith.
I bless you with the hopes and the dreams that your heart goes after.
I bless you with amazing grace.

I bless you with the heart of a warrior, grace to stand and fight.
I bless you with brothers (sisters) who will stand right by your side.
And I bless you with courage till the battles have been won.
I bless you with the faith to hear your Father say “Well done! Well done!”

Photos of Chloe taken a few years ago by my dear friend Sara Ernst.

The disappearance of summer……Costa Rica teaser

I’m not sure if there is a rule or not about when you have a gap of over a month you need to have a blog-relaunch so people remember you. (no lie I just typed rool…clearly need to keep on the coffee today…zoiks!) I’m going to go with no and pretend I’m picking up where I left off.

But seriously….where did the summer go? We are a mere four days from school starting and I wrestle with the conflicting thoughts of being extremely happy to have less noise, chaos, fighting and mess to being sad that our lazy days, infinitely more snuggles and fun are drawing to a close. Going from three kids to one is a cake walk.

But summer….don’t want to shower for 5 days…no prob bob…pool took care of that hassle! Can I get an “up top” from moms that count pools as baths? You can elevate your hygiene game when you know you are going to drain the water by using actual shampoo in your pool. SUMMERS. ARE. AWESOME. FOR. THAT.

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Much deep thought abounds in the pool.

Much deep thought abounds in the pool.

Bennet versus pinecone...pinecone ALWAYS wins.

Bennet versus pine cone…pine cone ALWAYS wins.

The truth is I’m a petulant child about summer. The type-A me craves the routine and cadence that the school year brings BUT….don’t cage me in. In no time flat by the end of September I am whining and kicking that I am TOO scheduled….I don’t like feeling obligated….why do we have all these commitments…somebody get me a coffee stat!

This summer was different for many reasons…some of which I can’t unpack right now. We actually had very little going on which made for some long and lonely days but that’s not always a bad thing. Some weeks were fuller with camp, family visiting, lots of not fun medical exams, some library and park visits. But mostly we just piddled around. Have you piddled in awhile? Have you written that word ever…it’s fun…try it.

Miss Clara Jean owning our yard

Miss Clara Jean owning our yard

Love this miracle niece so stinking much

Love this miracle niece so stinking much

We are in a strange season the last 6-8 months. We have experienced a massive relational loss in our inner circle with some of the closest people in our lives moving overseas or just moving. The void is undeniable and I would be flat lying if I didn’t say I feel like I am still in mourning. Relationships that have been forged by years and decades of friendship and history. People you talk to every stinking day….now many many time zones away. I certainly rejoice in the kingdom work they have been called to and obeyed by we are counting the cost in a different way and I am left wanting. So I have dealt with intense days of sorrow and ache learning to live a life without these families and children.

There are huge things on the horizon BUT we are trying to walk in rhythm with Jesus and not assume we know the path to these big things. Things that involve our house, our finances, our business, our church, our children…..The Lord is revealing in spades a calling on our family and we stand slack jawed on the sideline watching him unveil it piece by piece. “Abide in me….”

I’m an “all in” sorta girl so this discipline of walking in pace with God as each step is shown and not rush ahead with my agenda “Yeah, yeah, yeah…I got this God” is a bit new.

We have been praying for the first step to happen. Really I feel it is the linchpin in God’s plan for us and once God pulls it…this train is moving. I dont’ mean to write cryptically but I want to respect that we have got to have a trained ear to God’s voice and His only because the things we are looking at having to do will require staunch obedience and abandoment. When things are outside the box or not in logical order…especially in this culture you get A LOT of opinions and push back. So this season of “aloneness” has allowed us to draw nearer to one another as husband and wife. This is such a good place to be.

Aww….look at us….celebrated NINE years last week. We’d like to personally thank the large window at Starbucks for giving us that youthful glow erasing acne and wrinkles from our faces. Thank you Starbucks of Midlothian, Virginia…thank you.

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We also just got back from a KILLER trip to Costa Rica to visit my brothers family on the mission field there. They are planting a church in the town of Liberia.

WE. HAD. THE. BEST. TIME. It’s not right how rich and fun and relaxing and crazy our time was. I can not wait to write a proper post about it all. I stand in awe of my brother and sister in law and the struggle of daily life there but for the joy set before them…ever claiming… “Jesus is worth it.” He so is!!

You hear Costa Rica and you see the eye rolls “Really suffering for Jesus ehhh?” Ummm…actually yes…. Costa Rica isn’t one giant coast full of surf towns. My brother isn’t sharing the gospel from his surf board “Hey brah…you know the Living God?”

They actually live an hour from the coast in hot, flat, dry, cowboy country where the average yearly temperature is 95. With no air conditioning. Just sayin…. They don’t live in the “post card” part of Costa Rica but they were gracious to take us on lots of day trips and excursions through our time there to see those areas. It is God’s gift to refresh the weary missionary by His beauty.

God is a giant show off in pockets of Costa Rica….and He should be. The heavens declare His majesty..yes they do!!!

Ocotal Beach

Ocotal Beach

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There were so many moments walking around or swimming I would just look up and say “Let me remember this moment Lord. It’s so pure, so beautiful, so satisfying, so simple.” Give me this any day over expensive, manufactured fun.

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The love these cousins had for one another made us all burst with joy and even tears. It was beautiful.

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and clearly no matter where we are in the world…our children can not keep their clothes on. Sigh…..Oh Bennett…..

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and the only picture you will see of Ryan and I on this trip. It’s sad…we never think to take photos together. Don’t even have one shot of the four of us (yes..you may have deducted that Rhett did not make the cut. Better luck next year Rhett. He happily spent the week at my parents being spoiled rotten.)

Entrance to a coffee field.

Entrance to a coffee field.

I hope I’ve teased you enough to come back and hear the whole story and some of the real reason we went to Costa Rica.

I’ve missed you all. I am committed to writing more frequently on the blog. Not for you…but for me. It helps me process and clear my head in a good way…plus I kinda like you guys.

XOXOXO

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