Dear Minivan Makers Everywhere

I have titled this photo: Road Trip from the Back Seat

I have titled this photo: Road Trip from the Back Seat

There are five people in our family. I realize that in the grand scheme of familyhood this is not a significant number. Three children is less than four or five or six or twenty children. I wouldn’t classify us as a large family. We’re a regular-sized family of five…who love to travel.

Since gas prices have soared (Boo! Hiss!), airline prices have gone through the roof. This means that an average family of five cannot afford to fly anywhere without having to sacrifice a small puppy to the gods in hopes that money will start falling from the sky. And since I’m not generally in the habit of murdering puppies, this leaves me with no alternative but to teach my children the finer art of the road trip.

(Sidenote: Can we talk for a minute about the absurdity of the fact that it costs less for our family of five to fly from Florida to California than it does for us to fly to Little Rock? What the huh?!)

In the last two weeks, we spent about 43 hours driving as we visited family and friends in Missouri and Arkansas. So the equivalent of two days were spent inside our minivan, which, incidentally, currently SMELLS like a family of five spent two days cooped up inside. Excellent.

car2In general, my kids have become quite adept at traveling by car. We have a system. They play for a bit, look out the window, whine for good effect, then ask to watch a movie. But before they can watch a movie, they have to do two math sheets or a reading comprehension exercise. This is my barometer for how badly they want to utilize technology.

If they get hungry, I throw a bag of Cheez-its their way. Thirsty? A tiny little water bottle gets hurled at their heads. If and when all requirements are met, they are then allowed to shut their brains down and watch quality, educational movies such as Rookie of the Year and Teen Beach Movie.

Once upon a time I was staunchly opposed to the children ever watching TV in the car. When I was a kid, I read on road trips. I cozied up with The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins (Ah, Jessica and Elizabeth…I wonder what they’re up to these days?). I didn’t have the option of watching a movie back then.

I also laid out flat on the back seat with the seat belt juuuuust barely fastened around my waist and wasn’t stuck sitting straight up and down in an uncomfortable seat with the seat belt snugly tucked across my chest.

And I walked to school up hill both ways barefoot in the snow.


The point is, I quickly came to the conclusion that there is no reason to be a martyr for motherhood. If the kids wants to watch a movie, they can watch a movie and I will be thankful for the serenity of modern technology.

But 43 hours is a long time, which means there was a lot of time spent NOT glued to the tiny TV screens. Most of the time the kids do a pretty good job of playing quietly, drawing, listening to music or reading. But there are those long stretches of time when they ask every five minutes if we’re almost there, when they cry because a foot has fallen asleep or, my personal favorite, when they start car wrestling, an activity that always, without exception, ends with someone crying.

This is where I need the developers of minivans to step up their game. I’m here to offer a proposed to solution for parents everywhere who are relegated to cross country car trips inside the bowels of their minivans.


How about a partition between parents and kids? Just a thought…a mere suggestion! Think of it like a limousine, because we all know that a minivan is a limo for very small people. Limo drivers can raise a partition between themselves and their passengers allowing for some privacy. WHY HAS THIS NEVER BEEN DONE FOR MINIVANS?!

When the kids are getting particularly squirrely, parents could quietly and non-chalantly raise the thick, sound proof partition thereby cutting themselves off from the insanity. Of course, we would still need to be able to keep an eye on the monkeys in the back – safety first and all. A monitor on the dashboard would be connected to the camera inside the partition allowing the parents to keep an eye on the children.

You could even install a button that parents could push to hear what was going on in the back if they wanted. Or they could keep it muted and assume that everyone back there is just fine.

I see a number of benefits to this idea. First: SANITY! Kids could blast the soundtrack to Teen Beach Movie as loud as their little ears could stand it while Mom and Dad listen to music that doesn’t make their ears bleed. Kids could wrestle and cry and duke it out without giving Mom all that unnecessary grey hair.

Honestly, I’m not sure that I really need to list all the obvious benefits of this (brilliant) idea. It speaks for itself.

A rare moment alone in the minivan. Look how clean it is? This was taken BRT - Before Road Trip.

A rare moment alone in the minivan. Look how clean it is? This was taken BRT – Before Road Trip.

Now I realize that putting this out there means it could be stolen and someone else could make a lot of money off my idea. No worries. This one is for free internet! Someone, please, take this idea and run with it. When it comes time for us to buy a new van in a few years, if I find that they all come custom fit with a separating partition between front and back, I will consider that thanks enough.

You’re welcome, minivan drivers across the world.


You’re welcome. 

Grandparents are awesome


My kids are blessed to have two sets of grandparents who are involved, fun and who work hard to make special memories with their grandchildren. Whenever we go to Arkansas to visit Lee’s family, his mom organizes scavenger hunts and fun activities for the kids, all of which usually lead to little trinkets or snacks. The kids love it, and so do Lee and I. We all feel special when we visit Papa and Bebe’s.


My parents work equally hard to make memories with the kids. My dad is a big proponent of enjoying life. I can remember him saying more than once when I was younger that he’d rather spend money making memories than hoard it all to give to us after he’s gone. He wants the memories and I love that because my childhood is filled with amazing family memories.

A late night visit to the Lincoln Memorial. So cool.

A late night visit to the Lincoln Memorial. So cool.

A few years ago, my parents asked us if they could take each grandchild on a special trip for their 10th birthday. Lee and I didn’t hesitate to say yes, because we also want our kids to build up a cache of memories that they can draw from for the rest of their lives.

One of the perks of being the firstborn means that Sloan got to go first on this special trip. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and for six months he’s been talking incessantly about his trip. He wanted to go to New York City (most specifically “The Island of Manhattan”) and he also wanted to see Washington D.C.

Last week, my parents took him on a grand adventure catered exactly to him. Sloan is my little history buff. He loves history and museums, and he is fascinated by topics of war and invention. Visiting the nation’s capital could not be more up his alley.

I must confess, I was a bit jealous when they took off. Their trip sounded amazing. They had nighttime tours of D.C. planned, tours through the Smithsonians, Newsies on Broadway, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building – this was all on the docket and it just sounded like so much fun, and now that they’re back and I’ve seen the pictures and heard all the stories I can say with certainty that it was a truly memorable experience for Sloan.

“That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my whole life,” he’s said more than once since his return. He still has a lot of life to live so I’m curious to see if anything will ever top that trip.

I love that my kids have such amazing grandparents who believe in pouring themselves into their grandchildren. Today, my kids and I are taking my grandfather out for lunch to celebrate his 80th birthday – a grandfather who holds special memories that I pull from frequently. He is my only remaining grandparent and as the years pass, I find myself more and more grateful for the memories I have with him, and the others that have gone before him.

Cooling off at the Washington Memorial.

Cooling off in a D.C. fountain.

Grandparents are unique and special and they deserve to be honored and cherished. I’m so thankful that Sloan had the experience he had with my parents last week. Now I just have to put up with Tia and Landon who are both already planning their 10 year trips. I’ve already had to put the smack down on England (Tia) and Hawaii (Landon). I’ve had to redefine the perimeters of the trip to keep it inside the Continental United States. 

Mom and Dad – you’ve set the bar high with this first one. Prepare yourselves. 

Hailing a taxi in his Newsies cap. We may have a future city kid on our hands.

Hailing a taxi in his Newsies cap. We may have a future city kid on our hands.

Because He Loves Us









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We drove through gorgeous countryside today. Looming mountains painted against vibrant blue sky, palm trees swaying in the breeze as rows and rows of banana trees buzzed by our windows. The landscape was marred only by the absolute poverty that dotted each hillside.

Tin houses stand testament to the fact that Dominican Republic, though beautiful, is very much in need.

We did what little we could today to help meet the most basic of needs. We fed children a hot meal. We sang songs and played games and taught them the very basic importance of taking care of their teeth. We showed them how to brush and floss and through an interpreter explained the reasons why we need to take care of our teeth.

Then the dentist in our midst calmly looked in each child’s mouth and, with the permission of their parents, pulled teeth that were so rotten they caused intense pain.

There is nothing magical about what we’re doing, nor is it really all that inspirational. We’re just meeting a need – an easy need. Food, hygiene, love, laughter and at the end we told them why.

We love them only because Jesus first loved us and He loves them because He’s God.

If you know of anyone who needs to see love today, don’t hesitate to act. Don’t wait or think about it or even “pray” about it. Just do it. Look for the needs, the ones near and the ones far, and do something. I’m saying this to you, but I’m also saying it to myself.

And when you do it, take your kids. They’ll surprise the heck out of you.


To read more about the people at Servant’s Heart Ministry who are leading this trip, and who are meeting the basic needs of hundreds of children in Dominican Republic, click here.

Dominican Republic with Servant’s Heart

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Tomorrow morning we will board a plane with our children and hop over the blue waters to the Dominican Republic. It’s not a vacation, though Lee and I have vacationed there in the past. It almost makes my stomach churn to think of the exorbitant amounts of food we ate in one short week when just outside the walls of our resort children were starving.

We are heading to Dominican with Servant’s Heart Ministry purely out of obedience. I told you earlier that I initially didn’t want to go on this trip. It’s not that I didn’t want to serve, but I felt an enormous amount of anxiety at the thought of spending the money to go to Dominican when my heart still longs and hopes to adopt.

But this trip is about obedience. It’s about realizing that while the door to adoption is temporarily closed, there are needs to be met and we have the ability and resources to meet them. This trip isn’t about me and what I want – it’s about following through with an opportunity that was placed before us.

It’s about saying “Yes,” and in my yes, God has been good to ignite and excitement for the trip. I am really excited to leave tomorrow.

Servant’s Heart Ministry began in 2008 when a group of men in Nashville joined with a passion to change as many lives as possible through Jesus. Their mission statement reads:

To impact and change the lives of children around the world through missions for Christ by providing life sustaining necessities, sending, supporting and maintaining mission teams, construction and the sponsoring of children in order to lead them to Christ and break the cycle of poverty.


This week we are headed south to serve the least of these. It’s a chance for our children to see that life is very different outside of their own little sphere. This will be a stretch for them – it will be a stretch for all of us.

caliThis will be a different sort of family trip. Judging from the amount of complaining that’s gone on the last twenty-four hours (I’m tired of walking! My legs hurt! I don’t wanna eat this food! It’s hot out here! Me! Mine! Now!) I think there will be plenty of opportunity for life lessons. It won’t make them perfect children.

It won’t make Lee a perfect dad.

It won’t make me a perfect mom. (I mean, I’m practically perfect already, you know? How do you improve on that?)

(I am kidding!)

(Seriously…that’s a joke. Don’t send me nasty emails.)

What this week will do is offer vivid pictures to be committed to memory, a moving reel that can be tapped into when the monotony of life just seems to be so much. And maybe this will be the week that the Lord speaks to Lee and I as we continue to seek Him for what the next step should be.

I will be blogging this week during the trip. I want you to see what is coming of this vision cast several years ago by men who also wanted to obey – men that chose to say “Yes.” What an impact we can have in this world when we choose to step into the things that make us uncomfortable and we say “Yes” to serving others.

If you’re interested in learning more about Servant’s Heart Ministry and the work that they are doing in the Dominican, visit their website and stop on by this week! I’m excited about the opportunity to keep you all posted (Haha! Get it? Posted? Hehehe…Aaaahhhh, blogging humor. It is the best.)

Have a blessed week, everyone! 


Disclaimer: Lee and I chose to take this trip with our kids. I am blogging about it because I want to, not because I’ve been asked to. I will post my opinions based upon what I see and learn. 


Leggings Are Not Pants


Friends, we need to have a serious heart to heart.

If you were sitting in front of me, I’d hand you a steaming cup of chai, the cinnamon and spice wafting through the room as gentle, peaceful music played softly in the corner. We’d sit down, you and I, and we’d smile peacefully at one another. Then I’d tell you I have something to say, and the atmosphere would be so serene that you would hear my encouragement without any need to put up defenses. You’d see that I am genuinely concerned for your well-being, and that I am only looking out for what’s best for you.

So imagine that scene. I’ll give you a minute to pull the image together in your mind.

Ready? Okay, here it is.


It’s time we all acknowledged that leggings as pants are a bad idea.


I spent most of my day yesterday hopping from one plane to another, and I sat for some time in the Atlanta airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, and friends I was flabbergasted. I’ve watched as this “leggings as pants” style has slowly infiltrated our culture and I’ve been bemused. Most of the time I witnessed said fashion horror on twiggy teens who technically could pull it off. I’ve smiled because I know that someday their future children will pull out photo albums and see pictures of their “Emo” parents all decked out in leggings, a t-shirt and converse, and they will roll laughing. (They just might LOL...)

But what I saw in the airport took this fashion oddity to a whole new level. Women, all ages and sizes, strolled through the airport with nothing but black cotton leggings painted on their legs. Some wore longer t-shirts over the leggings, but most did not. It was like they started getting dressed and half way through the process they just…gave up.

Ladies, leggings are super cute. I have a couple pairs of them. They are darling…underneath a kicky skirt or a sassy little dress. They are an accessory – they are not the main item of clothing. They’re an undergarment. Honestly, I saw only one person yesterday who really, truly rocked the leggings. She was 2. That is the only time in life that leggings as pants are acceptable (and really encouraged because diaper bottom through leggings? Adorable.)

Every era has a style they regret. You know it’s true. The ’80’s have an entire closet full of unfortunate fashions. I’m simply here to be a voice of reason for us all. I’m trying to spare you the unfortunate embarrassment of pictures that forever plague you. Pictures of you in leggings…worn as pants. You may disagree, but if you take my advice, even reluctantly, you will someday thank me….as will everyone else in the world.

Let’s unite together as one and fight this unfortunate trend. We will raise our fists together, a sign of solidarity, as we boldly proclaim LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS!

Who’s with me? Let’s spread the word – #LeggingsAreNotPants

For more on unfortunate airport wear, and for advice on how to avoid poor clothing choices, visit my friend Nicole’s recent post. I let out a hearty “Amen” or four when I read it.




I am continuing to revel in inspiration this week, as well as being blessed by friends who love me so much, they even work hard behind the scenes to surprise me. Jenni came to town for our trip – my dear friend who I’ve missed so much sacrificed time with her family, rented a car and drove here to meet us and did it as a surprise.

I am more than inspired – I am honored.




This quiche from the quaint little downtown area was lick the plate good.



Me. Honored and inspired and wearing my sassy hat.



It’s a horse with a fascinator!


Four women teeming with creativity, bravery and wicked humor.



Hope brimming



A Most Inspiring Theme

It turns out “Inspire” has become the theme of our annual Writer’s Retreat. 

 How could I be uninspired in a beautiful place like this?





One can be inspired to create and one can be inspired to eat. In one day's time I have been inspired to do both.

One can be inspired to create and one can be inspired to eat. In one day’s time I have been inspired to do both.


Thelma and Louise



Sweet Land of Liberty









Can I be so bold as to encourage you to find what inspires you and dive in?

Whether it be artistic or concrete, public or private, simple or complex – each of us was created with inspiration, a need to turn around and create something.

And when we give in to inspiration and creation in any form, we live life fully, impacting the world around us.

So go ye therefore and be inspired and I will do the same!

Over and out.

Leaving…on a jet plane


I’m off to California today for a week of writing and editing, creating and imagining, laughing and crying, eating and more eating.

It’s time for our annual Creative Weekend in the hills of Northern California, but this year the adventure grows as I’m flying into San Diego to meet my dear friend Wendy (remember how I told you everyone should have a Wendy? Everyone especially needs a Wendy in California – they are the best Wendy’s.) She and I will then travel up through the state of California to the lake house that has formed the backdrop for some of my greatest creating the last few years.

It’s totally Thelma and Louise, but hopefully without the cops, dramatic angst and the driving off a cliff business.

Although if Brad Pitt wants to drop in on the trip I will not complain. No I will not.

So that’s where I’m headed today. I’ll be writing from the lake and I look forward to the quiet, uninterrupted time to simply think and process.

Compassion Bloggers Nicaragua Trip 2013

You know who else is blogging from the field today? A new team of Compassion Bloggers. They leave for Nicaragua today and they will be writing their stories all week. Please jump on over to the Compassion Bloggers site and support those writers. It’s an emotionally draining process to take one of those trips and I can tell you that comments and prayer support and encouraging words are enormously sustaining so please consider backing them up as they craft word pictures of the beauty that Compassion creates from ashes.

Have a great week, everyone!

Saying Yes to the Good and Bad


I’m learning a lot right now about what it means to say yes. By nature, my first response is not generally yes. I’m more of a “maybe, let me think about it, I’ll get back to you,” kind of a girl. Saying yes is scary because saying yes usually comes with some sort of responsibility attached.

(Unless, of course, someone asks me if I’d like some Nutella, at which point saying yes is non-negotiable and always rewarding…)

Last year Lee and I said “Yes” together to adoption and as most of you know – that didn’t work out so well. But we said yes. We agreed because saying “No” didn’t feel right. If you talk to Lee and I individually about our motives to adopt, you’ll hear two different stories. Mine is the longer one.


Lee’s story is quite simple and I love the purity of his answer. When he was asked last summer why he decided to step forward with the adoption he said, “Because God didn’t give me the freedom to say no.”


That was it.


He couldn’t say no because he didn’t feel like GOD (not me – I had given him full permission to say no) had given him the freedom to say no. So he said yes.

I will confess that I still struggle with some bitterness and disappointment that God didn’t lay “No” on Lee’s heart. I still don’t understand why He brought us to this point in the adoption process. But obviously there were lessons of faith and trust and dependence that I needed to learn and so even though I’m disappointed in the circumstance and sometimes even in God Himself, I can still say He is good.

I still have faith, even though my faith feels much shakier than it did before. It’s being tested and burned and molded – it will come out stronger, but I have to wrestle through this.

As we prayed and sought and searched and looked at what our next step should be after the adoption was terminated, Lee felt a deep desire to go as a family on a mission trip this summer, and this time it was my turn to be reluctant. I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to spend the money. I knew that money could be spent on transferring our adoption to a different country. But Lee felt really strongly that we should take the kids on a mission trip.

And I didn’t have the freedom to say no, so yes was the only other option.

We began to search different missions opportunities that we could take with the kids. We needed to find something that fit into Lee’s hectic work schedule and after a lot of thought, we decided to join forces with Servant’s Heart Ministry on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.

One month from today we will board a plane with our children to meet and serve the children of the Dominican Republic. I will confess that my heart is still unsure, not of the trip – I have no doubt the trip will be amazing. But I am still unsure about where we stand with the adoption and I still struggle daily with this idea of saying yes to God.

But what is faith if we don’t say yes to the things that don’t make sense – even those things that may not go as planned?  And how will we ever teach our children how to serve those in desperate need if we don’t go and do? Even if it costs money? Even if it sets us back in the adoption?

Or maybe it’s a step forward…


God has been terribly silent through all this adoption stuff, but I have this sense of peace that as we continue to say yes to the things in front of us, He will slowly reveal His plan for our family. As I said earlier, saying yes is scary because the outcome is not always certain, but if there is one thing I have been able to cling to in these months of questioning and doubt it’s that God is good and His plan is perfect, even when I don’t understand it. 

So we are saying yes to the things that are scary, the things that are good, the things that could go wrong or right. We’re saying yes because when presented with an opportunity to bless another person, is saying “No” really an option at all?


What about you? What have you said yes to lately?


(And as a PS to those who gave money toward our adoption – please know that we have those donations set aside and we will not touch them until we decide what we are going to do. Should we ultimately decide not to proceed with another adoption, those funds will be returned. I just wanted to offer that explanation in an effort to be fully transparent. We don’t yet feel that God has shut the door on adoption so we continue to save in anticipation of adopting. We are walking in faith making each decision with an enormous sense of trust.)

Radical Friendship

Friends are important for so many reasons.


We were not created to be a solitary group of creatures. Companionship is necessary. We are made to live together. Friends fill in the cavernous spaces of the heart. They offer laughter when tears threaten. They fill the silences and keep life from ever growing dull. For all people, friends are incredibly important.

For women, friendship is a necessity. Without the blessing of friendship, we ladies would grow old too quickly. We would be shrewd and angry and sad and…lonely. Good friends call you just to say hi, they drop real life letters in the mail (the kind made of paper with honest to goodness writing on it) and they bring you a Green Tea straight up because they paid attention that last time you met at Starbucks.

Good friends know that when a friend is in need, even if she lives several states away, you get on a plane, grab a hotel room and cry cross legged on the floor together.

You know what else good friends do?

They read your novel and tell you what they loved, what they didn’t and prescribe a heavy dose of poetry to cure the rough patches of the books. Good friends take your desperate email with a plea for help in writing a bio for the book proposal because if they leave you to try and conquer this task on your own, the bio will read:

“Kelli is a little bit sweet and a whole lot sassy. She enjoys long, luxurious walks on the beach, a hot bath and reading her Bible every day. She is a Calypso Queen who spends her days frolicking in the clouds of her imagination. She loves hummingbirds, ice cream and daisies and believes that books make the world a better place.”

I’m kidding with that example, but just barely. I hate writing bios. I find few things more awkward and uncomfortable than trying to describe myself in the third person. So I dashed out a very basic outline of a bio (and no joke, I looked through a minimum of fifteen books, reading through every author’s bio so I could make myself sound super author-y and radical…).

Then I sent it off to my friends who quickly shaped it up, cleaned out the fluff, laughed at with me, and gave it back sounding much more author-y and radical. I also sent them a group of head shots and asked for help picking the right one because ACK! The pressure.

Not to worry, though. One of these friends? She’s an actress as well as a writer so she has some expertise in the area of head shots. She got me straightened out.

Yep, friends are important for a lot of reasons. Even if they live hundreds (or thousands) of miles away, they can still have a huge influence and impact. What’s even better about this story is I will be reunited with my two dear (and helpful) friends in just one short month when we make our annual trek out to California for our writer’s retreat.

I am blessed. So, so blessed.

So go hug a friend today, everyone! Send a letter, pick up the phone, share the love! I’m going to stop before this blog post ends up as ridiculous and cheesy as one of my bios…