Let Freedom Ring

IN CONGRESS, July 4 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States

(an excerpt)

…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government…

…We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States;

that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;

and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

May your Independence Day be full of blessings, family, friends and hot dogs.  God Bless this great country.

To read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety, visit my friend Angie’s website, Celebrating Holidays.  On it you will be find a jackpot of information and history to share with your children on why we celebrate this holiday, where our national symbols originated and what they mean, and creative things you can do with your kids to celebrate.  Her website is a gold mine.

We’re moving to Florida

In February we met with a realtor to discuss putting our house on the market.  We were ready to upsize.  We wanted more space for ourselves, for our children and we wanted to be able to host out of town family when they came to visit.  That was our plan.

God had a different plan.

On April 6, our house officially went on the market and we began looking at new homes here in town.  A few weeks later, Lee got wind of a job opportunity in Tampa, Florida.  We’ve always wanted to live in Florida so whenever a job opened up down there we checked it out.  The thing is, we love St. Louis.  We’re so deeply blessed here that for us to pull the trigger on moving was difficult.  No job ever felt good enough for us to actually make that move.

Until this one.

Lee got really excited about this job potential.  More excited than I’ve seen him in a long time.  But I wasn’t sure.  There were other things playing out in my mind and heart and I was kind of at the point where I was ready to abandon the dream of living in Florida and stake our claim in St. Louis forever.  So I waited skeptically while Lee interviewed.

We decided to put our house hunt on hold until we found out more about the viability of the job.  About five weeks ago, we got the call from our realtor that we had an offer on our house.  At this point we’d heard little from the people in Tampa so we began looking again at homes locally.  But two days after the house went under contract, Lee was asked to fly to Tampa for an interview.

This is the part of the story where I began developing an ulcer.

I waited as my husband flew to Tampa for two days to interview.  And while I waited, I prayed.  I prayed that the Lord would give us wisdom to make the right decision.  Like I said, we’re terribly blessed here.  And a large part of that blessing stems from our amazing church family.  The thought of leaving our church home and the friends we have there makes my stomach tie into knots.  But I don’t ever want fear of change to hold my family back, so I determined to loosen my grip on the familiar and embrace what God might have for us.

I can’t go into all the details of how God showed us His plan, but I can say that He answered my prayer above and beyond what I imagined.  I asked Him to make it obvious if we should go and He really did.  From things like our house selling at exactly the same time the company needed to make the new hire, to our roof needing to be replaced and insurance covering it, to our furnace needing to be replaced and home warranty covering, and on and on the list goes…


God placed random strangers into our lives to speak such wisdom and peace into us that both of us began to shake our heads in awe.  From someone sitting by Lee on the airplane down to Tampa to a bartender, God used others to give us peace in this decision.  It’s truly been amazing.

We did not mention this to many people because we just weren’t sure what would happen.  It’s tricky when a lot of life plays itself out online.  These matters become much more delicate.  We didn’t want Lee’s current company to get wind of this, obviously.  Nor did we want anything said to our kids inadvertently.  But it’s been hard.  We have tried to answer questions honestly without giving too much information away.  It’s felt deceptive, but I sincerely hope that everyone understands that that was never our intention.  This has been a difficult process for us.

On Tuesday of this past week, Lee’s paperwork cleared and he was officially given the job that would move us from St. Louis to Tampa.  We closed on our house the next day.  Once again, God confirmed in our hearts His plan.

But this is hard.

This is really, really hard.  Painful.  Lee will leave in two weeks to begin working in Florida.  The kids and I will leave a few days after him.  And my heart is ripping in half.

My family moved to St. Louis when I was 12.  Though I lived in Texas for six years, St. Louis was always home base.  For 21 years, this has either been home, or home base.  Minus the wicked winters…and crazy tornadic springs, I love everything about this town.  Especially the people.  Lee and I moved here a year before Sloan was born.  This is the place we became a family.  We have friends who have poured into us for the last nine years, watching us grow, watching our children grow and giving us some of the sweetest years of our lives.

I’m sad to leave.

But I’m also excited.  Like I said, living in Florida has been a dream of ours since we got married.  We have family down there and we love everything about the beach.  Our kids have been begging us to move to Florida for years.  They’re thrilled.  And we are too.  But it’s tempered by the dread we feel to leave.

So that’s where we stand.  We are spending our last couple of weeks in St. Louis doing all the things we love to do, spending as much time with friends as we can, and shedding a lot of tears.  We are also rejoicing in the Lord’s provision and look forward expectantly as we await what He would have for us next.

I said it beforenew adventures await us.

Jennifer Aniston did my hair

It was early morning, the air sticky and hot.  I struggled with my dress, which originally bore the shape of a bad muumuu…made out of curtains.  Unfortunately during the tailoring process, the dress had been altered into a bit of a mini-skirt.  I found myself self consciously tugging at it, all the while singing the song I learned at junior high church camp many moons ago:



Oh you can’t get the heaven (Oh you can’t get to heaven)

In a mini-skirt (In a mini-skirt)

No you can’t get to heaven (No you can’t get to heaven)

In a mini-skiiiiirt.

No you can’t get to heaven in a min-skirt

‘Cause God don’t like no little flirt

All my sins are washed away, I’ve been redeemed

(I’ve been redeemed)


Much emphasis was placed on the need for me not to be late.  It was imperative that I show up on time, which meant I needed to leave extra early because I didn’t know where I was going.  It’s always best to plan a little extra time to get lost.  Especially if you’re me.  I’m fairly certain God forgot to install my inner compass when He put me together.

I ran down the steep hill (mountain?) from the cabin where I and the other participants slept, carrying my flip flops in one hand and holding my shortened dress down with the other.  I finally got to the community bathroom where my friend Melissa met me.  She came out of nowhere – I’m not even sure how she got there….she lives in Louisiana.

“What are you doing with your hair?” she asked as I frantically applied my make up.

“I don’t know!” I lamented.  “My hair looks like a mushroom!”

It really did.  Somehow the humidity had tousled it into a bouffant that resembled a portabella on top of my head.  Making matters worse, I held the hair dryer too close to my head and fried my bangs and they now frizzed out in a bubble of straw right in the middle of my forehead.

As I huffed, I heard laughter from the bathroom stall.  Melissa and I exchanged looks and waited.  The toilet flushed and the stall door opened.

It was Jennifer Aniston!  Perfect hair and all…

Walking up to me, Jennifer studied my hair closely.  “Hmmm…” she said.  “Your hair does need a little TLC.”  She sounded just like Rachel Green.

“Can you help me?” I asked shyly.

“Sure,” she answered with a smile.  She was so nice!  I always knew she and I would make good friends.  Jennifer grabbed a brush and turned me away from the mirror then went to work.  She pulled and tugged and twisted and sprayed my hair with some kind of magic potion from her oversize purse.  A few minutes later she whirled me around and Voila! MY hair was red carpet ready. It was even a little longer.  I’m not sure how she pulled that one off… I felt a surge of confidence and I turned to hug my friend.

“What time are you supposed to be there?” she asked.

“6:45,” I answered.  Her eyes grew wide.

“Kelli!  It’s already 8:21!”

“No!” I kissed her on the cheek and dashed out of the bathroom.  I needed to get back up to the cabin to retrieve my car keys and make my way to the meet up point.  I tore up the steep hill that had somehow  become covered in snow.  As I climbed I found a pair of my sandals buried in the snow and snatched them up.  They would go perfect with my unfortunate dress.

This is when I woke up in a panic and had to tell myself that none of that happened and I didn’t miss the VP Parade, which I am singing in tomorrow morning.  Jennifer Aniston did not do my hair and last I checked there were no snow covered mountains in St. Louis.


If you are in the area and want to come down and watch tomorrow morning, I will be on the Riverboat float singing dixieland.  Look for the girl in a muumuu made out of curtains.  Or in a min-skirt if my dream proves to be at all prophetic.  It starts at 10:00am (and yes, I have to be there no later than 6:45) and heads down 4th and Market.  It ends near Union Station.

Jennifer (can I call you Jen?) if you’re in town, meet me on 4th street at 6:00.  Me and my hair will probably need your help.

Image credit

Time Capsule


An empty shell


Each room echoing with memory


Laughter, love, a haven

More than bricks and mortar

Each room a time capsule of life lived

Blessings fulfilled

We said goodbye and now we decompress


New memories await us.

Right now, though…

Wine awaits me.


Welcome to my new blog design!  I decided a couple of months ago that it was time to give this space a little more POP!  And Franchesca of Small Bird Designs was the perfect girl for the job.  Hasn’t she done a wonderful job?!  Hang on, hang on!  I need to introduce you to my favorite feature!!!

Watch the header for a minute.  Keep watching.  Keeeeep watching…

Did you see it?!

Fran sent me numerous templates with different color backgrounds and I just couldn’t make a decision on which color I liked best.  So I asked her if she could do all of them in a rolling header and POOF!  She did it.  She’s like my Fairy Godmother, she is.  She’s gotten all kinds of telepathic hugs and high fives from me for her magical design.

I’m still working out a couple of little details, but mostly I’m just desperately happy with these new changes.  And did you notice the picture of my van up top?  See how the sun just gleamed off of it?  It’s like the angels were smiling down on her hotness…

So I’m still in California.  It’s been just an absolutely amazing few days.  I can’t really describe how much my soul needed this break.  I have been loved and poured into and fed and graced and blessed.  I have written a lot – about 60 pages!  I have edited.  I have read and cried and laughed and slept.  It has just been so wonderful here in Clear Lake, California (which, incidentally is one of the most beautiful places in America…you should visit!).

Today we visited a local winery for a lavender festival.  Stunning is the only word I can use to describe it.  I didn’t bring my camera on this trip (what was I thinking?!) so all I have are a few cell phone photos.  But you’ll get the idea.  I am immensely grateful for these five days I’ve gotten away.  I will go home refreshed and ready to tackle next steps.

The Lavender field

Magic and Beauty

My friend Wendy has fed us like Princesses

The one where Calgon takes me away

I actually just had to consult with Professor Google on what exactly Calgon is.  It’s body fragrancewho knew?!  I always assumed it was some sort of lotion for muscle pain similar to IcyHot or Bengay.

I was way off.

Yesterday was a rough day.  I’ll mercifully spare you the details, but it was a knot in your stomach crazy kind of day.  I really want my house to be the house that all my children’s friends come to.  I like knowing who is here and what they’re saying and doing.  But on knot in your stomach crazy kind of days…it’s just harder.  The noise is louder.  The work feels like work. The kids weren’t bad ( not all of them, anyway – there’s always one trouble maker), but I was tired and didn’t feel well and overwhelmed and the day felt long.

But today?

Today I am on a plane to sunny Northern California where I have the privilege of sitting in the presence of my dear friend Wendy for five whole days.  Wendy and I met  when we were both newlyweds living in the Dallas, Texas area.  I will never forget our first phone conversation.  Lee had come home from a Bible study the night before and told me about this wonderful guy he met whose wife sounded very similar to me.

“She likes to drink tea!” Lee exclaimed.  My sweet new husband who was still baffled by my girly love of tea parties.

The next morning the phone rang.  “I hear you like to take tea,” she said, her voice all warm and buttery and laced with smile.  And that was the beginning of one of the dearest friendships of my life.

Wendy and I have only lived in the same town for just under two years but our hearts were knit tight together through God’s grace..and through our love for writing, tea and wifedom (that should totally be a word).  We spent countless hours those Dallas years talking about our passion for writing and teaching and speaking and learning and loving and growing.  And we drank a lot of tea.

I get to soak up my dear friend for almost an entire week and my soul soars at the thought.  I also get to spend some time alone, releasing the characters in my head.  They’re up there, churning and begging to get out.  Sometimes I’m afraid of it, though.  I’m scared of the story and of letting the characters down.  Because the story in my head is beautiful and what if I mess it up?  What if the trip from my head to my fingertips tarnishes the story and the people?

What if I fail?

These are my honest fears.  I love writing, but I’m sometimes unsure of whether or not I have the gift to pull off the massive story I long to tell.  Realistically, I know I’m not the best writer out there.  I think it’s my lack of inner angst that holds me back…

Whatever the case, I know I’m not the best, but I also know that I have a story to share and I know I have the ability to tell it.  I just really want to tell it well.  This desire is why it’s taken me ten years to complete this book.  I really don’t want to screw this up!

So I will write with full abandon this week.  I will let go and try really hard not to go back and judge my work along the way.  That’s a terrible, terrible habit.  One should never edit her own work before she’s even finished it.   Stephen King said so himself and given the fact that his book is the most inspirational book on writing I’ve ever read, I’m going to submit myself to Mr. King’s urgings and plow forward without looking back.  My soul will rest in friendship (have I mentioned that one of my very dearest friends from here in town is joining us on this writer’s weekend away?  How blessed am I!) and in solitude and in the joy that comes from allowing God to use my gifts and talents to His glory, because that is my deepest desire.

And when I return I will bid adieu to my home and embark on a new adventure.  It is exciting, this tiny little life I lead.

I’ll be back this week.  I have a something fun and special to share with you on Friday.  Stay tuned.


I am going to post some pictures, but before I do, I feel compelled to offer this warning:

The photos you are about to view contain images of extreme cuteness.  View with caution, particularly if you are sensitive to happiness, small children and unabashed joy.  These images should not be viewed by the faint of heart or anyone with an aversion to the following items: babies, puppies, rainbows, sunshine or happiness as they will not be emotionally equipped to handle the cute.  If you suffer from hard heartedness, view with caution and with full awareness that you may be forced to smile.  Proceed carefully and it is advisable to let out a hearty “Aaaawww” while viewing to prevent your heart from exploding.

Phew.  Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way, you’re free to look.  Does anything scream childhood more than this?  Tell me.  Anything at all?












We’re Back

On Friday I picked Sloan up from school early.  I took all three kids outside the building and finally let them in on a secret I’d been keeping quiet for two weeks.

We were going to Florida.

I have never had more fun.  We will definately be doing more surprise trips in the future because their expressions were priceless and it was so fun to tell them we were hopping in the car and heading to the airport.  I kept it a secret from them out of necessity because we were going down there to surprise my Mom when she landed in Tampa after being in England for forever.  My Dad and I planned the trip several weeks ago and I knew that if I told the kids the surprise would be ruined.

So fun.

Mom was surprised and had no idea we would be there.  The kids thought it was the greatest thing ever to jump out and say surprise when she got off the plane.  It was just fun.

We soaked up every minute of fun while we were in Florida.  We swam, spent hours at the beach, rode on the kayak and the boat, snorkeled, found sand dollars, watched the sunset and ate lots of M&M’s and ice cream.  It was a great quick trip.

This was my first time flying alone with all three kids so I was a little nervous, but they did great.  Sloan sat in a row by himself and talked the ear off the woman next to him.  The only hiccup came when all three kids had to go to the bathroom at the same time and were all positive that they were going to wet their pants.  The bathroom closest to us was occupied for a solid 20 minutes by a man two rows back (yeesh) so we finally trekked to the front of the plane only to be informed by the flight attendant that we all had to squeeze into the bathroom together because we weren’t allowed to wait in the hallway.

So we all squeezed into the bathroom together.


The people in the first few rows of the plane got quite the entertainment as they heard my kids squealing and screeching.

“Don’t touch me while I pee!”

“I don’t have space!”

“My pee won’t come out.  Stop looking at me!”

“I can’t reach the toilet paper to wipe!”

“You’re too close, this is weird!”

All the while I’m taking deep breaths and trying not to panic because we all know I have an irrational fear of airplane bathrooms.  I tried to think of happy things like puppy’s and butterfly’s so I could keep my mind off the vision of the four of us plummeting 35,000 feet to our deaths inside a cramped airplane outhouse…

Finally everyone managed to do their business and we exited the bathroom to applause.


We’re home now and it’s time to finish school and prepare the house for the inspections that are happening this week.  I have pictures and video to share, but not today.  Today I have to scrub floors and organize so that my house can be picked apart and scrutinized.

This is the part where I tell you I wish I was back at the beach…


A conglomerate of all that is rolling through my head.  You can hardly contain yourselves – I know it.

– I got to go to a wine bar last night with a group of beautiful, successful working women and discuss writing and reporting and what it means to be a woman in media.  It was relaxing and fun and I met new people, made new contacts and discussed the possibility of a new freelance gig.  All around I had a great time.  And then I went home and watched So You Think You Can Dance and envisioned myself being able to actually dance and not just bootie shake.  Then I went to bed.

– School starts Tuesday.  At the beginning of this summer I was actually really thinking about homeschooling.  I enjoyed having the kids home and I liked not having such a rigorous schedule.

Um, yeah.  That’s not gonna happen.  It’s laughable even, if the thought of it didn’t make me want to cry.  I can’t wait to greet Routine with a gigantic hug and kiss next Tuesday.  I might even make her cookies and invite her to come share my bed.

– Tomorrow I have to leave my house a little before 5:00 am to catch a flight to Dallas.  I don’t know why I always choose the earliest flights possible, but for some reason I do.  The plus side is I get to see dear friends when I arrive and I will spend the weekend catching up with some of the people who hold sweet, sweet pieces of my heart.  I am very excited.

– There is a book that I need to write and I’m scared.  I’ve needed to write it for seven years now, but for seven years I’ve been scared.  It’s a personal book and I have been plagued by self doubt.  I’ve pushed it aside and made myself to believe that I’m not the right person for the job.  And maybe I’m not.  But if I don’t do it, I’m not sure anyone else will. 

I feel like I have the angel and devil characters sitting on my shoulders.  Only in my mind the angel character is a small girl with pigtails and mistmatched clothes.  In fact, she looks a lot like Punky Brewster.  And she keeps telling me things like, “You can do it,” and “Think of how this would honor those around you,” and “Man your hair looks good today.”  Okay, not that last part.  But it would be awesome if someone would whisper that in my ear daily.

The devil character is on the other shoulder and he’s a fat, sweaty man with a long knotted beard and a hairy chest sitting in a recliner eating cookies and chips.  He yells in my ear too.  He screams things like, “You’re not good enough!”  and “There’s no way you could possibly pull that off in any way shape or form!” and “Nobody’s gonna want to read that!”  And everytime he yells at me, flecks of sour cream and onion chips smack me in the chin.


Have I mentioned I have an overactive imagination?

In all seriousness, I really am trying to get past this crippling fear.  I hate being held back by something so lame.  The very fact that I am so scared makes me think that I probably am supposed to do this.  But it’s going to be hard and it’s going to take work and I don’t want to mess it up.  So we’ll see.

– The kids are watching a Star Wars movie (shocker!) and are consequently having a light saber fight.  It’s getting out of hand.  I should step in and stop it, but it’s making me laugh a little bit.

– The St. Louis heat has taken me by surprise.  It’s unbearable.  Which begs the question, why do we not live in Florida?  If we’re going to endure this type of heat, there should be the option of a beach close by.  Just my own personal opinion.

– The kids really want to go swimming today, but I have a lot to do so I’m not sure if it’s the best idea.  On the other hand, it’s 412 degrees out and nothing but sitting in a pool sounds appealing.  So we’ll probably go swimming.  Or maybe we won’t.  I’m feeling a little flighty this morning.  What? You could tell?  Oh…

– I need to work harder at speaking russian with the kids.  I really struggle with this.  We’re pouring time and energy and money into lessons to help them learn so by me not working harder on conversation with them I’m really doing them and myself a disservice.  On the other hand, it’s really, really hard to speak russian to them when they all gang up on me and they’re all different levels and my language just isn’t good enough to accomodate them all.  So I’ll keep doing the best that I can.

– Okay, the light saber fight has gotten out of hand.  I hear wails.  It’s probably time to step in and put a stop to it.  Or is this one of those situations where I’m supposed to let them work it out on their own?  That’s the more appealing option because it lets me sit on my behind a little longer.  But I don’t want to be one of them there lazy parents so I’m going to head out.

– Did I mention that school starts Tuesday?

I know you’re probably bored with pictures, but…

The Beach. Sunset. Fully Clothed. Great Fun.

The Beach. Sunset. Fully Clothed. Great Fun.

I took each one individually to the beach for some mommy time and pictures...

I took each one individually to the beach for some mommy time and pictures...



Sad faces because it's the last day at the beach. Boo.

Sad faces because it's the last day at the beach. Boo.

I promise I’ll have actual content up again next week.  We leave bright and early for Mobile, Alabama for my cousin Whitney’s wedding.  My sweet little cousin – she’s gonna be a bride.  She lived with our family for a year when she was five – I was thirteen. She was my real life baby doll for a year.  And now she’s going to be a Mrs.

I feel old.

I’ll be back soon!