She is Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday.  And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate her than to publicly affirm how much I love and appreciate her.

My mom is an amazing woman.  She is beautiful, strong, funny, kind and giving.  Where I struggle to remember birthdays and important occasions, my mom always remembers to send a card, a box, a gift, something to make sure that person feels like they are the most important person in the world.


My mom gives sacrificially of her time, sometimes to a fault.  She has spent countless hours holding, cuddling, sleeping with, playing with and loving on my kids.  Not because she has to and not because I need her to (though sometimes I do need it) but because she loves me and them so deeply and wholly.



My mom really, truly loves to play with my kids.  I think she enjoys it more than I do at times!  She has spent so many hours digging in the sand with them, collecting seashells and exploring the beach.  Here at home, she always makes sure to have an adventure ready for them, whether it be setting up a “clubhouse” in a closet for them or pulling out the paints and letting them get down and dirty.  And thank God for that because painting is not one of my favorite activities.


My mom is a prankster.  If you ever find an old toilet in your yard or a headless stone goose, there’s a good chance she’s behind it.  She has a wicked sense of humor that’s masked behind her innocent exterior.  Don’t let her sweetness fool you, though – she’s trouble…

Growing up, my mom poured herself into my brother and I.  She was the pioneer minivan mom – always in the car driving us to this practice and that friend’s house.  She was at every gymnastics meet, track meet, hockey game, band concert and school play.  And she wasn’t only present, but she was active in cheering and I’m quite certain she clapped the hardest and the loudest. 

When I was eight, my parents took my brother and I skiing for the first time.  After the morning with an instructor on the bunny hill, we were ready for the big hill.  As she and dad rode up the lift behind us and the instructor, my mom was so intent on watching us and making sure that we got off okay that she forgot to get off herself.  Instead of letting them back the lift up, she jumped, twisted her knee and ended up with a torn ligament that required several weeks in a brace from her ankle to her hip.

My mom was beyond supportive of Brett and I.  In tenth grade, I had a lapse in judgement and decided I wanted to be a cheerleader.  Though mom most certainly knew that was not something I would enjoy, she nevertheless supported my desire and worked with me to prepare for try-outs.  And then, for the entire school year, she pushed me and required me to follow through on my commitment to the team even though I begged her to get me out of it.  I would fake sick, fake cramps, do anything I could to get her to call the coach and tell her I was too sick to cheer.  But mom would hear none of it.  And so I cheered, and she was in the stands grinning from ear to ear the entire time.


My mom is a strong lady.  She has faced more heartache and hardship in life than many people will ever understand and yet you would hardly know it.  While she has every right to feel bitter and slighted, she chooses to enjoy the blessings of life.  “Life is too short to dwell on the heartache,” she once told me.  My mom doesn’t waste time playing the victim and I admire her deeply for that.

Mom has willingly and sacrificially opened up her home over the years taking in anyone who needed help.  She and my dad never questioned whether or not it was right – they just knew that there was a need to be met and they met it without hesitation.  It wasn’t easy on any of us, least of all mom, but she powered through and poured into the lives that came across her path without regard for the sacrifice.  I don’t think she knows what an impact that has had on me.  It was difficult, yes, but it’s made me much more aware of the needs of others and what my role is in supporting those who need support.  Mom’s sacrifice showed me what true loyalty meant.

When I was four or five, my mom attempted to fix my beloved doll, Big Baby. (My creative prowess runs deep, folks).  Because I carried Big Baby around by her hair, her neck was broken causing her head to hang at a crude angle.  I remember very vivdly mom taking Big Baby’s head off to see if she could somehow fix her neck.

Mom swears up one side and down the other that that never happened.  But don’t believe her – her memory fails her.  She also believes that she has never cussed in front of me.  Because she is a proper lady, she hasn’t very often, but there were a couple of times where she let a four letter word rip when I was a kid.  I remember those moments vividly because I knew that she was at the very limit of her limits and that she meant business.  So if she tells you she’s never said a dirty word, don’t believe that either.


 My mom has always very intentionally built my dad up in front of my brother and I.  I never doubted her love for him or his for her.  While they didn’t try to hide disagreements from us as kids, I rarely remember them really angry with one another.  What I remember more than anything is how much they laughed together.

My mom has trekked the globe for and with Brett and I.  When I spent the semester in Ukraine, I called one afternoon feeling particularly lonely.  I had no other Americans to talk to and I was feeling very isolated.  Mom rallied the troops and had friends and family send me encouraging letters and emails.  And then she took it a step further and booked a ticket to come visit me.  It was 20 degrees below zero, but mom took the hour long adventure with me every morning to school and while I was in class, she explored the city. 

My mom is a ballsy chick.  She has no problem taking off on her own, no matter where she is in the world.  She loves a good adventure and isn’t afraid to try new things.  I love that about her.


I could go on and on about my mom.  There are so many wonderful things to say.  But I will end it now by saying that I admire her deeply and am so grateful for the example that she has set for me.  I love you mom!

Happy Birthday.

If you have any birthday wishes for my mom, please share them!  Let’s give her a little comment love today!


  1. Melissa says

    Happy Birthday Kelli’s Mom! You should know that your daughter was always a great friend in high school (not sure if you recall the appliance photos she so graciously posted just recently) and I’m so thrilled we have reconnected through Facebook! I hope you have a wonderful day!

  2. I celebrate your mom today on her birthday, Kelli! She is an amazing woman, a wise and loving mom and babushka, an encourager, inspirer and supporter. She is the best! I admire her. And I’m so grateful to God for the chance to meet her and have her in my life as a friend. I call her my godmother. You know we get godparents on the day of baptism in Ukraine. I don’t remember my own godmother, but I find her in your mom’s person. I get so much wisdom from her that I can surely call her my godmother. I want Ulyana to know her and she calls her Baba Kidi. She is a special person in my life. A part of my heart belongs to her. You are blessed to have Candy as your mom.
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful pictures of her. She is so beautiful.
    Happy Birthday, Candy!
    May you always be warmed by love of all the people that love and cherish you. I’m sending you my hugs and kisses. I love you…

  3. How sweet! Happy Birthday to a wonderful lady!

  4. Happy Happy Birthday Bushka!! Hope you are enjoying the sunshine on your day!!! Carol

  5. Happy Birthday to a great friend. Candy and I sold tee shirts (among many other jobs over the years) at Lafayette’s Contest of Champions, waited countless hours for our children to be finished with band practice, attended many band performances, spent the day downtown watching the Greater St. Louis Marching Festival , shared Rejoice Women’s Bible Study activities, Vacation Bible School jobs, took pictures of beautifully and handsomely dressed teenagers off to dances, but the most meaningful act of friendship was when Candy showed up at St. Luke’s to sit with me while Allan underwent cancer surgery. Candy, you’re the definition of the word “friend” and I love you.

  6. Well . . . there could even be a large fiberglass frog with a lit cigar in its mouth, a long red and white scarf around its neck, and a purple glitter wig on its head that shows up on your porch. There could be . . . I’m just saying!

  7. *Says her partner in crime…


  8. I just finished reading your ‘Supermom Crashed and Burned’ post over at 5 Minutes for Mom — LOVE your writing and your humor! You need a subscribe button for your blog because I’d love to add you to my reader! 🙂

    As a military wife I completely relate to being super mom while hubby is deployed or away training… it is VERY important to keep refilling your cup so you can pour blessings onto others! Keep up the great work Mom – and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

    PS — Minivans ARE HOT!!! LOVE IT!! 🙂

  9. candy martin says

    Made me laugh and cry. Being your mom has brought so much joy. WE can look back and laugh and cry at experiences and memories from our past. I am happy to know I didn’t damage you too much. (But are you sure that I decapitated Big Baby in front of you?) I love the life that God has blessed our family with..the good and the bad.
    Thank you

  10. I like this post so much that I keep reading it again and again. Your mom’s life is the example I would like to follow. Her saying that life is too short to dwell on heartaches is so true. We must be tough, cry it we want at night, but wake up in the morning, smile and live on. I love you both dearly…

  11. Stefanie A. says

    Kelli, she is everything that you mentioned and more! She is truly a wonderful lady and a fun aunt. We have both been blessed with great mothers. Happy Birthday, Aunt Candy! Love you!


  1. […] is my awesome Mom’s birthday and she’s half way across the world. I so wanted to fly to England and surprise her for her […]