Archives for October 2012

Born of the same laugh

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On Saturday, Tia and I took two friends with us to Orlando to revel in the magic of the new Tinkerbell movie – Secret of the Wings. We nestled into the plush seats of the Downtown Disney theater and for a little over an hour, we danced with fairies.

The movie was sweet and the laughter of the little girls around me was miraculous – it almost made me believe. But it was the message of the movie that stirred my heart in such a unique way that I came home emotional and full of sweetness and hope and joy and…wonder.

Clearly I am a bit emotional these days, yes?

The premise of the new Tinkerbell movie is that Tink, a warm weather fairy, longs to cross the border into the winter woods to see how the cold weather fairies live, but it is strictly forbidden. Of course, she decides to cross anyway and through a series of events, she discovers that she has a sister living in the winter woods. A sister she never knew about. A sister, born of the same laugh.

I watched the story unfold and I looked down the aisle at my girl, my own little fairy, and a new surge of hope birthed. The laugh and delight of God Himself gave birth to her, my warm weather fairy, but is there another? Does a sister, born of the Same Laugh, wait for us in Russia?

I will confess that sometimes I feel an immense amount of fear when I think of this adoption. It is so daunting, the process, and I fight against closing my fists around it because I know that I can’t. When we began this process, Lee and I stepped very delicately forward with an extremely bold prayer.

“Lord, bless this. But if it is not what You have for our family, close the door and make it obvious.”

The door has remained open and so we continue to step forward with a little more confidence each day, but I know that I cannot grasp it as a sure thing. I must hold it loosely realizing that this process, this hope for our future is His and it’s all to His Glory. It cannot be mine and I will not take any glory for it.

There is freedom in relinquishing control. I feel like my heart is a little more protected and less prone to devastation, and yet there is also a deep, deep hope that the end result is the one I desire it to be. The hope that allows us to bring home a little fairy, the one from the winter woods.


A sister for my girl.


Right now I have no reason to believe that we won’t see the frutition of this dream for our family, but I also want to learn from the journey. I want to trust wholly and fully on the One who delights in these young ones. I want to hold firm to His Plan and the understanding that He knows what is best for our family, not me.

And so I hope, and I hold loosely to the dream and the vision and Lee and I continue to take the steps forward to cross the border to the winter woods and bring her home.

Day 15: I hold my hands out confidently, palms held wide to the vision placed before us. I believe we are exactly where we should be.

How are you today? How can I pray for you?

I was not compensated for this post. I previewed Tinkerbell: Secret of the Wings at an advanced media screening and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Disney. The new Tinkerbell movie releases on DVD on Tuesday, October 23.

If ever you believed you couldn’t

If there was ever a time when you thought you couldn’t do something.


If ever a task seemed too insurmountable, too big, too impossible.


If ever you doubted your ability to achieve a dream.


Then please…




Watch the St. Louis Cardinals play a baseball game in the postseason.


Nothing is impossible when you have the talent, the desire and the will to go after it.

Believing means doing

No post today. Part of believing I can means I have to do it. Today I feel the creative juices flowing and I need to work on my book. I’ve got Hershey’s chocolate by my side, a mug of pumpkin coffee, Mozart playing in the background and two hours to myself.


Wish me luck!


And have a great weekend! Any fun plans on tap?

Another peek

Want another peek? This is Frederick, a Nazi soldier stationed in Kiev in World War II. He is a torn character who is ugly and horrifying and completely and totally sympathetic. I have really loved writing his story.

I was ten years old the first time my father took us all to Berlin. The year was 1934 and the memory dances through my mind in moving pictures, every emotion joined together in fluid motion. I remember the sights and sounds of the bustling city as we exited our train at Berlin’s Lehrter Bahnhof and moved to the Nazi provided car. The officer appointed to transport us was solemn and stern and I shrunk back in fear when he looked at me prompting my Father to pinch the back of my neck in annoyance.

He always hated when I showed any semblance of fear and I felt his disappointment as we slid into the plush car.

That trip to Berlin was the first time that I remember being in awe of my father’s status. He was so revered that as we exited the car, hotel staff hurried to us, picking up bags and rushing to our room to set it up in a fashion that was worthy of someone with such great importance.

We stood in our expansive room on the top floor of the Esplanade and looked out over the beautiful city. Talia and I pressed our noses to the cool glass and pointed out the cars and people walking far below us. I was awestruck at the bustle and energy that buzzed through the city.

“The cars look like small toys,” I cooed just before my father stepped up behind us.

“Stand up children,” he snapped, his words sharp and clipped. Talia and I stood and faced our father, my heart beating like a drum. “Good. Now, who can tell me what we worked on earlier this week.”

Because I was always so frightened of my father, it seemed to take me a long time to register any question he asked. Panic that I would produce an unacceptable answer left me mute. Talia thrust her hand in the air.


“We learned to remain quiet and calm and to not speak unless asked a direct question,” she said with a smile, her bright red hair cascading over slender shoulders. Father smiled and ran his hand down her cheek.

“Very good, my darling,” he said. “Now, Frederick,” he said turning to me. “How are you to greet any official that walks your way?”

My heart raced as I searched for the words to answer my father. I couldn’t find them, so I merely thrust my arm in the air, straight up above my head. Father sighed and shook his head.

“Yes, Frederick,” he said with a heaping portion of annoyance, “but what do you say when you greet them?”

My hand, still high above my head, shook as I searched for the greeting that I knew so well. Why did I always feel so incompetent in his presence?

Talia snapped her heels together and threw her arm up next to me. “Hile Hitler!” she said, throwing me a sideways glance.

“Hile Hitler!” I repeated after her and Father nodded at us both.

“Very good,” he said. “Now go prepare yourselves for dinner.”

©Kelli Stuart, October 2012

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

You know what that is?!


We are waiting on two pieces of paper and the completed home study, which all should arrive any day now. When it arrives, we will make all the copies, get everything notarized and ship it to our agency.


I thought that when I completed all of this, I would be done with paperwork.

Then I began applying for grants.

Than I almost cried.

Then I got over it because each paper gathered is a step closer to meeting our daughter.

Day 10: I believe we are going to make it through the paperwork phase. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting a tiny bit brighter.

Happy Wednesday to you all!

Don’t hate me because I live by the beach

I’m taking a break from my 31 Days topic because, quite frankly, I’m a little bored with it. I can only be serious for so long, folks, then my brain starts to smoke and tremor with the need to be ridiculous. I am not what you might call a “deep thinker.” I mean, I can pontificate (look out now big word!) and dwell on things now and again and from time to time, I do feel the need to dig deep and write and talk pretty. 

But then the silly must come out and I have to release the inner dialogue of humor that runs on a constant loop in my head or so help me, I will end up bursting out laughing at the most inappropriate of times.

Like church.

Or a funeral.

Or pretty much any situation that requires a certain amount of decorum and maturity.

So basically, I’m a twelve year old boy.

*this is the part where I eloquently transition to a new topic*

I shipped the kiddies off to school today and came to the beach. Because…well, because I can. Don’t hate. I’ve seen you all on Facebook talking about apple picking and pumpkin patching and wearing your scarves and boots and drinking your yuppy Starbucks.

blah, blah, blah…

All I have right now is the beach. Somebody call the Waaaambulance…

For the next three months, I will be desperately missing St. Louis. Just brace yourselves for it. It is what it is. I miss the pumpkin patch. I long to visit Eckert’s and stock up on 52 lbs of apples that we will never be able to eat before they all rot.

I miss the chill of fall and my boots. Sometimes I sit on the floor in the closet and whisper to my boots tenderly. I remind them that they’re still loved and I run my hand over them so they know they’re not alone. I may even whisper My Precious now and then, just so they know I’m here and I miss them.

Do not judge me!


While I am longing for autumn, I will fall back on the only thing I have. A rockin’ pair of sandles and the sunny shoreline of my favorite beach. And I will remind myself that Jesus probably likes the beach better than pumpkin patches and apple orchards, too.

And I will feel better.

Come January, I’m sorry, but I will no longer miss Midwest weather. I won’t miss snow and ice and temps that make you feel like your nose is falling off the second you step outside. I will walk outside with glee, and my boots and I will probably be reunited a few times before it gets too hot and I must send them back to the closet.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

*insert clever transition sentence here*

It’s a rough time to be four years old in the Stuart household these days. In the last two days, the four year old in our midst has colored on the bedroom carpet with purple marker…and the wall. He has slammed into the curtains in a moment of preschool insanity and pulled the curtain rods from the wall. And he has dropped and shattered a glass jar on the tile floor.

Guess what happens when your entire house is tiled and a glass jar shatters?

Glass. Goes. Everywhere.

You know what? Discard what I said above. It’s not hard to be a four year old right now – it’s hard to be the mother of a four year old right now!

I feel like this right here:

I bet she has a four year old bird back at the nest who is slowly, and completely by accident, destroying everything, too. I feel her pain. I just might curl up next to her and bask in the sun. She totally has the right idea.

*pretend I say something wildly hilarious here*

So I’m gonna go now. I’m sitting in a coffee shop right by the water and the beach is calling my name. Literally, I hear it. The waves lap the shore and each time they do I hear, Keeelllliiiii….Cooooommmmeee….Plllllaaaaaayyyyyy.

I shall not ignore the ocean any longer lest I be smote.

Have a good Tuesday. I feel so much better having released the nonsense inside my head.


Winky Face!!! 😉

I believe in adventure

Nine and a half years ago, I set out on quite the adventure to make my dream of writing a book about World War II Ukraine come true.

I had a publisher lined up at the time for what was supposed to be a non-fiction book entitled Letters to Kelli. For roughly three years, Ukrainian World War II vets had been sending me letters with their stories of the war. I met a school teacher when I studied in Kiev in college who believed in my love for the culture and history of her country and she began this Letters to Kelli series in her school newspaper.

I was five months pregnant and figured it was as good a time as any to take off for Ukraine for a month. I had planned on going alone, as Lee had to work, but my husband and parents put their foot down and insisted my mom accompany me.

Sometimes I’m a little too adventurous for my own good.

I arrived in Kiev, Ukraine on March 16, 2003, days before we went to war with Iraq and the very same day SARS became an international epidemic. In other words, I had perfect timing.

Want to build your husband’s faith? Take your pregnant body overseas during a time of international upheaval and call him the day after you arrive with a deep, chesty cough. He’ll thank you for it.

Or not.

Bless his heart.

While on the trip, my Mom took perhaps the most epic pregnancy picture ever. You’re welcome for this:


For one month, Mom and I travelled the Ukrainian countryside interviewing veterans, walking on land ripe with history (did you know Hitler had an underground bunker in Ukraine and an assassination attempt was made on his life in that country?!) and falling more in love with my home away from home.

It was a hard trip, but it was also beautiful. I heard story after story of survival as aged men and women shared with me their wisdom from years lived under Soviet Rule and the days spent fighting Nazi brutality. I spoke with soldiers who shared their stories with such passion and emotion. As they spoke, I could see them reliving the moments.

“We were more than just soldiers,” one man said to me. “We were people.”

To me, these were just stories, but to them they were memories – experiences come to life.

I spoke with women who fought. I spoke with those who joined the partisan army, performing underground maneuvers to thwart the Nazi’s quest for domination. I spoke with Christians who fought to protect the persectued Jews and who were gravely punished for their protection.

Did you know that Ukraine had the greatest loss of life per capita than any other country in the world during World War II? Ukraine’s population was largely Jewish and the Jews were being attacked and persecuted by both the Nazis and Soviets. In addition, Ukraine was known for its rich soil and land ripe for harvest and Hitler made it a point to focus on that region of the Soviet Union.

I heard these stories from the men and women that lived them and I came home with a new vision. Just translating their stories wasn’t enough, and I couldn’t get legal permission to use the stories verbatim anyway.

So my book is based on their stories. My novel compiles their tales together into four characters and my deepest desire is that it honors them the way they deserve to be honored.

Why has it taken me so long to finish the book? When it’s all said and done, I will have been working on this for a decade.

Why couldn’t I finish it sooner?


I didn’t want to let them down. I love those people fiercely. Most of the men and women I spoke with have passed away at this point, but I want their stories to live on in a way that honors their memories.

It’s taken so long because I can’t afford to mess it up.

I wrote 1,500 words this morning bringing my total word count to just over 86,000. I’m getting so close. I’m going to do this!

Day 8 of 31: I am one step closer to accomplishing this dream.

Join me and the hundreds of others who are participating in Nester’s 31 Day challenge.

Oh, and if you are interested in donating to our adoption fund, we would really love to hit the $1,000 mark this week. I plan to share more about our heart for adoption soon, but for now we would love for you to join us on the journey. There are miracles happening, friends…

Day 6: Take the Plunge


Choose courage over safety, chance over predictability.


There’s freedom when you fly.


Happy Saturday.

This is the sixth post in my 31 Day Series on embracing confidence and living boldly. For more 31 Day posts, click here.

Created for this

This morning I woke up and checked Facebook. My uncle had posted this as his status, an excerpt from my cousin Sean’s amazing book, People Who Sing Jesus. I told you all about the book here. Have you read it yet? You should. It’s amazing…

People who sing Jesus understand that before they can do anything for God there is the humbling realization that God says about each of them: “I made you and I love you. You have no idea the great thoughts I have about you.” The essence of the first commandment is the ultimate expression of the Divine declaring intimacy with humanity. No matter your faith tradition, before any person can actually do or not do something for the Creator, there is the matter of God’s real presence making the first call. Anything we do for God is a response to Divine action and initiative. The focus is not on human activity but on the enduring work of the gospel that the Holy Spirit initiates in every time zone, zip code, and culture of the world, including each of our lives. We take action inspired by the Creator who took original action pre-genesis.

Sean Cooper – People Who Sing Jesus

I was created to be a writer. I was created to be a wife to my husband. I was created to parent these three amazing children. I was created with a love for people. I was created with stories to tell. I was created to one day adopt.

I was created to love Nutella!

I was created with so much purpose.

I do all of these things out of response to the Creator who knit them inside me from the beginning of time. I was created to sing His praises. I was created to love and be loved.

So knowing these things, why wouldn’t I walk forward in complete confidence?

What were you created for?


The Nester has challenged all of us to take 31 Days and write about one topic. This is part of my series of embracing who I was created to be and walking in full confidence.

Toilet Paper Tales: A Political Parable

In seventh grade, I sat in the musty gym of Crestview Middle School for yet another pep rally. This time, we were to hear speeches from the nominated candidates for Class President. There were three current eighth graders/soon-to-be ninth graders who were running for the coveted title of Crestview Middle School Student Body President.

Of the three I only remember one of them.

Her name was Tracy Something and she had the most amazing permed hair (early nineties, friends – we all had permed hair) and her bangs were teased into a perfect flower on her forehead. She was the epitomy of cool and her looks alone already had my vote. But then she took to the microphone and gave a speech that brought the house down.

“As your student body president,” she shouted into the mic, “I promise to make changes around this school, starting with the bathrooms.”

*cue hearty applause*

“I promise to get rid of those terrible square toilet paper holders and have them replaced with round ones so that the toilet paper actually unravels for us all!”

Screams. Applause. Laughter. Foot stomping.

This was good stuff.

You see, the toilet paper holders were a nuisance. They were square pieces of metal, so the round rolls of toilet paper were shoved onto the square holders making it impossible to actually unroll the toilet paper. You had to unravel it, one square at a time, and given that it was paper thin 1-ply toilet paper, this was often a cumbersome and annoying task.

Needless to say, Tracy Something got voted in and when we came back the following year, I fully expected to see her promised changes. On the first day of eighth grade, I went to the bathroom only to be disappointed. The toilet paper holders had not changed.

“No worries,” I thought. Tracy Something promised to have these replaced, so I’m sure she will get it done by the time the first quarter is over.”

But she didn’t. In fact, I rarely heard or saw from Tracy Something at all that year. And all year long, I continued to unravel my toilet paper one square at a time, continual evidence of a promise unkept.

Last night, I watched the Denver Debate and listened as both condidates made promise after promise, but I’ve learned a thing or two since eighth grade. I’ve learned that political promises only take you so far. A political promise is just a game for votes. It’s a high stakes guessing game where each candidate tries to assess what will garner them the most support.

They are promising us round toilet paper holders, and to sweeten the deal, they each guaranteed we’d have at least 2-ply toilet paper.


Promises don’t mean a lot in politics. I get that. I watched with amusement as every Obama supporter on Twitter screamed “ROMNEY IS A LIAR!” (I know they screamed it because they used ALL CAPS!) And on the other side, Romney supporters bellowed “NO WAY! OBAMA IS THE LIAR!” (I know they bellowed because they used ALL CAPS!)

Could it be that both are lying? Could it be that both are making promises that will be impossible to keep and they know it?

Let’s all share our toilet paper with one another – that’s the American Way!

No! I promise you’ll each have your own share of toilet paper and you won’t need to share it unless you want to!

I’ll give you 2-ply! But only if you make a certain amount of money. If you make too much money, I’ll have to use your toilet paper to help everyone else!

I’ll give you 3-ply! And I’ll create toilet paper factories around the nation so everyone will have all they need and more!

I’ll give you the softest dang toilet paper you’ve ever known! Then we’ll join hands and sing Kumbaya because I’m gonna make the world a better place!

And on and on it goes…

Listen, I understand that politics are rough. It’s a tight little dance a politician must do in order to stay true to what he believes and still make The People happy. No politician will ever be able to follow through with everything he says he will. It doesn’t matter if he’s a Republican or Democrat.

The system is set up in such a way that no president can keep his promises.


We have square holders and round rolls. That’s all we’ve got! So we do the best we can do with what we have and at the end of the day we realize that our toiliet paper will probably never unroll on it’s own. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have someone in the stall trying to unravel it for me.

So I’ll think about and remember Tracy Something and her awesome hair. I’ll listen to the issues with an open mind and I will vote based more on facts and less on emotion because in the end, I know that I will still have to unravel my toilet paper one square at a time.

And I’m honestly okay with that.

I’d rather take care of my own messes anyway…

*disclaimer: I am not trying to start a fight, nor am I trying to be cynical. In fact, I find it all amusing at this point. Let’s all have a good laugh together, ‘kay? We can even sing Kumbaya if it would make you feel better…

*disclaimer two: I realize this seems like I’m veering away from my 31 Days topic, but actually I’m not. This month is all about me embracing confidence and shunning self-doubt. Normally I would be afraid of making you mad, so today I’m believing I can have a little fun with politics without angering the internets.