One Year

One year ago, I sat on the edge of the bathtub and I sobbed.One year ago, my heart broke into a thousand tiny pieces, and it has taken a full twelve months to reassemble those pieces in some order.

Twelve months is a long time. Healing takes a long time.

With the space of 365 days between then and now, I’ve had time to gain a little perspective. There are some who have said that it wasn’t meant to be for our family. God clearly didn’t have it in His plan for us to bring home a child from a Russian orphanage. While there may be some theological truth to that statement, I can say with no uncertainty that that is not a comforting attitude to hold, and the thought has brought little peace to my heart.

The fact is, God led us down the path of adoption, and He led us right into the fire of a disrupted adoption. This was so that we could be refined, so that we could know Him a little more.

It was so that we would step forward out of the fire with courage and not abandon the fight for children living without families.

One year later, our situation is different. We’re in for more heartache in two weeks when we put K on a plane back home. Our kids will be broken hearted again to say goodbye – our precious children who still hope for another sibling. God is refining them as well – teaching them to give sacrificially, even when it hurts.

While this year has provided a blanket of healing for our family, there are still many families living with the deep pain of separation. There are parents who actually held their children in their arms, who promised they would return to get them, and who cannot go back. There are children in institutions who could have had homes.

These are the people who need your continued prayer. These are the people who still sit in the unknown. Pray for the children who are left behind. Pray for the families in America who want to adopt them but cannot. Pray for the families in Russia who would like to adopt, but don’t have the resources or the help necessary to take in institutionalized children.

No child should grow up without a family. I have evidence of that sleeping in a room down the hall.

Watch this video, and keep praying everyone. A New Year awaits.

A lot can happen in a year…


When belief trickles down

“I do NOT want to sing on stage. People will look at me and see me and maybe laugh.”

And she made sure she was not seen. At the close of VBS this summer, Tia positioned herself as far back on the stage as she possibly could so that no one would see her during the songs. She hid. We couldn’t catch a glimpse except for one moment when I thought I saw her little hand up in the air.



She has always hated being on stage. Being in front of people has terrified her only slightly less than it terrifies her brothers. And when Tia, my stubborn, fierce, I-know-who-I-am-and-you-will-not-alter-me second born refuses to do something, it takes nothing short of an act of Congress to change her mind.

Scratch that – the grumpiest, stodgiest and stubbornest of all Congressman couldn’t get this child to do something she doesn’t want to do.

So imagine my utter shock when Tia came to me last week and asked if she could sing on stage at church.

Um…who is this child again?

She came with me to choir practice and sat confidently by my side. She can’t read well yet, so I found myself a bit tickled at the intensity with which she studied the music. No worries, though. She knows these songs.

All week, I waited for her to back out – to change her mind. Of all my children, she is the last one I would have ever suspected of stepping up on stage and singing in front of a group of people. I assured her she didn’t have to stand in front of a microphone and that seemed to be enough to satisfy any fears that still lingered.

And Sunday morning she proudly walked up in front of everyone, the youngest in the group. She didn’t even need to hold my hand. With a confidence and poise that took my breath away, she conquered fear and led. And I have never felt more proud.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my daughter took this step at the end of this month. I’ve spent the last 31 Days boldly believing that I, too, can do the things that intimidate me. I haven’t written 31 posts about the subject, because…well, that would have been terribly boring.

But I have adopted the attitude of believing I can and I have chosen to speak confidently – moreso than I usually do. I’ve written more on my book this month than I ever have in a single month before. I’ve taken steps in several areas to move past fear, past laziness, past the mountains that stand in my way so that I could feel more sure of where I’m headed.

It’s not that I ever really thought I couldn’t do any of these things. It’s simply that they seemed so hard and scary that I was content to drag my feet and…well, sit in the corner and hope things went my way.

But when I stopped allowing myself to be intimidated by the hard things I felt a renewed confidence in my own abilities. Could it be that such confidence has trickled down? Could it be that my willingness to embrace who God has made me and how I can use those gifts to bless others has impacted my children? I certainly wasn’t making any extra effort to live more boldly in front of them, but I did feel much more sure of myself because I made it a point to do so.

I chose to believe.

She chose to believe.

Is there anything more moving and beautiful than a child singing praise songs? A child who has turned from fear and walks in confidence?

I don’t want my children to be content to sit in a corner. I don’t want them to hide who they are out of fear of who might see. Each of my kids is so uniquely gifted and I want them to walk in full confidence of those gifts.

Who will teach them?


Who will teach your children?

The Decision

I wrestled endlessly this Spring with our schooling decision. I made lists, I attended open houses, I prayed, I cried, I decided and waffled and changed my mind and stressed and worried and fretted and wished and hoped.

And I finally went to my husband with all of the information, laid it out in front of him and put the decision in his hands. I told him my first choice, a hybrid homeschool program in which the kids would attend three days a week and I would facilitate lessons the other two, but it had a cost involved that concerned us both.

I told him my willingness to homeschool again if he felt like we needed to and I gave him all the information on the public school. And I asked him to decide because I was paralyzed. I had analyzed and dissected every option and was well versed on each Pro and every Con and it left me completely inept to see what would be best.

So I gave it to Lee and waited for him to make the decision. After a few weeks of thought and prayer he pointed me to the public school and, while that had been my last choice, I felt a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. A decision was made by my husband and I had no doubt that it was the right choice.

He wasn’t plagued by every little detail like I was. He simply knew what would be the best next step and I trust him so Tuesday I marched to the public school and enrolled Sloan and Tia for next year.

I feel peaceful, but I’m nervous. I know it’s right, but there’s the unknown that keeps me prayerful.

I loved homeschooling the kids. I really did. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. Something really special happened this past year when I had them home with me.

I fell in love with them.

Of course I always loved my children, but I didn’t always love being with them. I was happy to ship them away whenever the chance presented itself and I hoarded my alone time with no small amount of selfishness. While they were home this past year, though, I really enjoyed just being with them.

We laughed a lot.

We learned a lot.

We enjoyed one another more than we ever have before.

We had freedom to go where we wanted to do what we pleased and learn what was interesting to us. I loved that.


I firmly believe that homeschooling is the best education a child can receive if the parent teaching them is doing it really well. While I was having fun with them, I still did not feel like I was giving them the best educational foundation simply because I don’t know how.

I don’t know how to teach Math or Science. I didn’t love trying to break down grammar and teaching a six year old to read is just short of being stabbed in the eye with a hot poker. It’s hard.

I really believe there are other people more qualified to teach my children core subjects at this stage in our lives, but I also don’t doubt for a second that I will homeschool again someday. I can really see myself enjoying it a little more when they’re older and are a little more independent in their studies and I have more resources for help in the subjects I am not qualified in.

In short, I loved everything about homeschooling but the schooling part. Which…well, it’s kind of a key component.

Now, to be fair to myself, I will say I did a good job teaching them this past year. When we started the year Sloan was reading at a first grade level, could barely spell and had very little exposure to Subtraction. By the end of the year he was reading at a fifth grade level, spelling at a fourth grade, writing beautiful poems and paragraphs and had a working knowledge of Multiplication.

It’s not that I can’t teach them. But I did live under a constant wave of stress all year long and there are areas where I know they would benefit from a teacher who understands how to break things down more than I did. I never doubted my ability to teach them well. But I did fully realize that if I were to homeschool again, I would need a little more help in some key areas.

So next year they will go to school, and Landon will be in preschool five mornings a week, which means for the first time in nine years I will be alone during the day time hours on a consistent basis. I’m not going to lie – that’s an attractive thought.

But it’s also scary. I’m going to miss them. So when they all start back to school, to celebrate my first day home alone, I have vowed to go to Busch Gardens and ride every single roller coaster in the park.

By. My. Self.

How do you make the education decision for your children?

Do you have Just a Minute?

We have all been impacted by someone. As a teenager, I was deeply impacted by one of the leaders of my first trip to the former Soviet Union. We were standing in a pizza parlor in the middle of Red Square when he said something that I’ve never ever forgotten. It was a moment that would eventually come to define the person I am today.

I wrote about that moment here and much to my delight and surprise, Wess Stafford, President of Compassion International has used that very story, along with many others (including one from Shaun Groves who also wrote up a wonderful post about the book), in his newest book, Just a Minute. Compiling stories that reveal the power of just a quick moment to impact a life, Wess Stafford’s new book is inspiring, encouraging and filled with sweet moments that reveal the impact we can have on a child’s life if we’re willing to take the time to speak wisdom and encouragement and love.

And it only takes Just a Minute.

Tonight as I sent the kids to bed after what can only be described as a long and arduous day, Sloan asked me to sit down and read with him. I didn’t want to. The arduosity (that should totally be a word) of the day was mostly due to him and his eight-year-old boyness and quite frankly all I wanted was for the house to be quiet so I could curl up in the corner.

But then I thought about this quote from Just a Minute:The time is now, while their spirits are soft and impressions are easily made. Tomorrow’s leaders, in whose hands the future rests, will still climb into your lap today, run to your embrace, laugh at your jokes, listen to your wisdom, and comfort you with tiny arms and big hugs. But not for long. In a few short years, the clay will harden, and they will inherit the corridors of power and start making the decisions that will shape your world.”

The selfish and tired part of me wanted to just shoo him off to bed with empty promises of “another night” but I couldn’t shake the thought that this moment was precious and fleeting. So we climbed into his bed together and laughed heartily at Calvin and Hobbes, while he sat nestled in the crook of my arm, still more boy than man but every day changing and growing with lightening speed.

And let’s face it, my first born truly does have the potential to wield great power over my world one day.

Will he put me in the scary nursing home where I’m left alone in a dark corner or the happy one that looks like a spa and serves me ice cold Jello and Nutella three times a day while I lay snug in my cozy feather bed?

Here’s to hoping he remembers the little moments when I’m old and frail, right?

Right Sloan? I know you’re going to read this…

If you haven’t considered sponsoring a child through Compassion International, I would really encourage you to do so today. We received another letter and picture from our sponsored child yesterday and I marveled at how much he had grown. He is the same age as my Sloan and in the two years since we’ve be writing to him he has lost his little boy look and is developing the more mature look of a young man.

How I pray for this developing leader, as I pray for my own children. We talk about him as if he were a part of our family and it’s because he is. And signing up to sponsor him? Well, it only took just a minute.

This isn’t meant to be a pitch or to make anyone feel guilty. I truly believe in the power of Compassion International to change a child’s life and give him hope for the future. I believe in this because I’ve spent time reading about the work they do, and seeing the hearts of those who lead.

If I can encourage you to do anything today it would be to purchase the book Just a Minute, to hug and encourage a young one near you and to consider how you can impact not only the children closest to you, but also those around the world who need someone in their corner.

For more information on the book, visit this site.


And Then We Wept

An iron will combined with pure determination make her beauty a little tougher to penetrate.  Life ebbs and flows under her watchful eye and she pours forth emotion only when unaware that anyone is watching.  Fierce love and sheer delight dance in her eyes, though, and it’s here that her tough exterior shows weakness.  The best kind of weakness.


Her white blonde strands dance in the wind and her baby blues swim with concern.  Her brother has just been punctured by a catfish – his first fishing wound.  As blood seeps and he cries, she makes her move unaware of my observance.  She slips an arm around his shoulder and squeezes tight.  Concern.  Fear.  Pain.

She feels it all.

She feels my watchful eye and turns to look at me. I nod, showing as little emotion as I can and for a moment, I see her compassion falter. But a maturity is setting in – one that hasn’t been there before. She is five and a half now. She reminds us every day.

What I see is more than an age, though. It’s God. It’s a given nature settling in, begging to be watered and fed. She is seeking and questioning. Who is God? What is Grace? What did Jesus do for me? She asks and I answer. Then we wait.

“I want to know Jesus,” she says from the backseat. “But I’m not ready yet.” And that is okay. We will let her wait and question and seek, because the time is coming when faith will call and she will make it hers. But it will be in the time that feels right to her. She would have it no other way.

I would have it no other way.

He would have it no other way.

Her younger brother cries. In a fit of laughter he took the corner too fast and head met wall with force. He wails and I look down. Her hand on his ankle and tears in her eyes. She looks entirely surprised by this reaction. Empathy has never been her first reaction. But lately…she’s changing.

“I don’t know why I’m cwying,” she says, her eyes bright.


I say the word to her. Over and over we discuss it. Compassion. I tell her every day now. “You are compassionate. You care. And that’s a good thing.” She needs to know. Because by nature, her independence prefers distance. She likes control and predictability. But compassion…it is unpredictable. You don’t know when it will strike and the tears will flow. Compassion requires surrender.

Late in the evening as a storm meanders off in the distance and the clouds paint the sky in a Master Tapestry of shape and color, she and I walk hand in hand. “Do you want to call her?” I ask. She has been talking about her friend Noelle for several days. I hear the ache in her voice. The tender age of five has not tempered her longing for companionship. She misses her friend.

“No,” she says and shakes her head hard. This is her sign. She doesn’t want to talk. She doesn’t want to process. The tough exterior is up. We return to the condo and I watch her move.

“Tia. Why don’t you want to call Noelle?” I ask, when the bustling movement of masculinity dashes to another room and we two are left alone. She looks at the floor, then at me. Again her eyes are full and bright and sad. She shrugs. She won’t talk because the emotion threatens and wavers and her first reaction is to fight for control.

“Are you afraid that hearing her voice will make you sad?” I ask. And she crumbles. We lay on the bed and weep together. Me for her…and for myself. I miss them too. The friends and loved ones. I miss them. And so does she. She’s only five, but also…she is five.

We spend some time talking about our friends. We remember all the fun we had with them and we rejoice in the blessing of dear, sweet friendships. Then we pray. She clutches to my chest, her hot tears dripping off her nose and together we plead for new friendships to fill the void. For me.

For her.

And one more time before the lights go out we discuss compassion. I stroke her silky soft hair and tell her again. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to love. She possesses all of these emotions in full but letting them out is the trick. It’s the magic.

It’s what makes her so unique and wonderful.


Image Credit:

“I have a secret,” he whispers. Or a “theekwet,” in his lispy language.

“What’s your secret?” I ask, leaning down so my nose is inches from his freckled face.  (Oh how I love his dotted little nose.)

“I wub you,” he answers with a grin.

And then I melt.  And promise him all the Cheezit’s he could ever want.  And a pony.  And his sibling’s inheritance.

How is it that children know the exact words to say when we need it most?  I was tired this morning, and a little crabby.  I wanted to sleep  longer and wake up happier.  My yummy little guy was actually still waking up himself and had snuggled his warm body close, his sippy cup tucked under his arm.  (Because my third born does not function in any capacity in the morning without a sippy cup of juice or milk first.  He’s a toddler coffee addict…without the coffee.)

How did he know that I just needed some kind of encouragement to get the day started?  When I pulled back from our “theekwet” he grinned at me slyly.  He’s a heartbreaker that one.  Mama’s lock your doors, cause this kid is trouble. Adorable, squeezable trouble – the most dangerous kind.

There have been so many encouragement’s these past few days.  Are you guys praying?  Because I am feeling the power of God working in ways I didn’t imagine.  Tangible delight being poured upon us.  From “theekwets” to the making of new friends.  From house hunting encouragement to just an overall feeling of contentment.

Today, I went with Lee to the bank to be added to our new account.  The woman who helped Lee last week when he first went in wasn’t available, but another woman was there to help us.  Her name was Ekaterina, or Katya – her accent was Russian.  After we sat down, she left the room briefly and Lee looked at me with eyebrows raised.

“Hmmm…” he said, all smug-like.

“Don’t, please,” I groaned.  “I don’t feel like it.”  You see, friends, my husband feels the need to tell every single Russian we ever meet that his wife speaks Russian.  Then he slaps me on the back and tells me to talk.  It’s not my favorite.

But I’m also really grateful to him for it.  Because, honestly, my personality is one that I would let all those opportunities just slide right by because it makes me a little uncomfortable and embarrassed.  And this morning…well, the “theekwet” hadn’t totally burned off my crabby mood.

When she returned the firs thing Lee asked was where she was from.  “Russia,” she replied in the accent that is so familiar to me.  “Huh,” he said, looking at me.  I sighed and turned and began speaking with her in Russian.  And you know what?

It was awesome!

Why do I resist that sexy man of mine?!

So my new friend and I will be getting together sometime soon to go shopping at some local Russian stores.  And it was yet another whisper – a “theekwet,” if you will – that everything is going to be okay.  I love making Russian friends.  Love it, love it, love it.  And I would have completely passed that opportunity up today had it not been for my annoying supportive husband.  And God once again whispered to my heart.  “I’ve got you covered, young one.  Just enjoy the ride…and stop complaining when your husband brags on you.

I feel like I’m getting a lot of those whispers lately.  And a few slaps upside the head.

Moving is hard.  But right now, in this moment, I’m kind of enjoying the ride.

Thank you for riding this roller coaster with us and praying us from one side to the other.

*For more awesome pictures of my kids, and my nephews, visit my sister-in-law’s blog.  Not only is Becke’ an amazing photographer, but she is a spectacular writer as well.  She inspires me.  You can see more of her photography here.


“Mom.”  Hot breath on my cheek stirs me from the deepest of sleep.  “I have a stomach ache.  Can I sleep with you?”

I mumble something incoherent that he and I both interpret as a yes and he burrows under the covers.  His hair smells clean, freshly washed just before bed.  I’m poised to drift back to dreamland, but for a conscious moment, I relish him close.

He sucks in a deep breath.  It’s sharp.  Pain.

“Are you okay?” I ask, more awake now.  He clutches his side and pants.  It’s probably an air bubble, but in my sleepy haze I immediately assume appendicitis and I push on the lower right side of his abdomen.  “Does that hurt?”

“Ow!  Yes, that hurts!”


In the next moment, he is wrapped around me.  Knees and elbows swathed in a narrow frame.  His nose is in my neck, his arm flung across my waist.  He’s hot and I’m immediately uncomfortable.  I’m so tired and my first thought is to push him off on his father who is snoring on the other side of the bed.

But then I stop.  His breathing slows and falls into a quiet rhythm.  In, out.  In, out.

It’s just as it was back when he used to fit a little more snuggly in my arms.  Back when I couldn’t wear his flip flops and his hands weren’t nearly as big as mine.  Back when his hair was a white blonde fuzz on top of his round head.  And instead of pushing him away, my arms engulf him and squeeze tight.

Because I miss back then.  I miss it.

But for a few short hours, I got to relive those moments.  I didn’t sleep much…or at all.  Somehow, though, sleep didn’t matter, just as it didn’t matter back then.  Because the moments fade so fast.  When morning light pierced through the darkness, he finally stirred and unwound his spindly body.  He looked up at me, all blue eyes and freckles.  And eight years passed me by in an instant.

“Hey Mom,” he said with a sleepy grin.  “Can I have some Nutella for my birthday breakfast?”  And as he dashed off to conquer the day, I remained behind.  Tired and teary.  Grateful for a night of little sleep and thankful for those brief, still moments when he snuggled close and held tight.  Those moments will soon be no more.

Happy Birthday, Sloan.

Send Emilda to The Special Olympics


Social media has made the world smaller.  It has connected us to one another in ways that were not possible even ten years ago.  Through social media, we now have the power to hear and see the plight of those on the other side of the world. 

And we can act.

It’s not a matter of if we should.  We just should.  Let’s think big.  Not only for the good of others, but for the blessings that come upon us as well.  The knowledge that we took part in something bigger than us.

Emilda is an 18 year-old Compassion International sponsored child with the mental capacity of a three year-old. She lives in a squatter community in the Philippines. And she’s fast!

In 2009 Emilda competed in the Philippine Special Olympics and she performed well enough to qualify for the World Special Olympics in Athens, Greece this Summer. But she needs your help to get there.

Emilda’s parents are unable to pay her way to Greece and neither is the Philippine government. Her need is $19,857.

This is more than just helping a little girl run a race.  This is showing a little girl that her talents and gifts are worth celebrating.  This is helping a little girl see a dream come true.  This is showing a little girl’s parents that the world knows…and we care.

Would you like to help send Emilda to the Olympics?  You can do so quickly and easily by clicking right here.  If you’d like to read more about Emilda and her amazing talent that has provided her this opportunity, head over here.  Grab a box of kleenex first, though.

We have the power to work together for the good of this sweet and beautiful little girl.  I don’t know about you, but that makes me smile.  If you would like to share this amazing opportunity with others, use the information below:

Donations can be made at:

Pictures and more information about Emilda are available at:

When asking others to give please use the following link:

Or this shorter link:

Let’s do this together and cheer Emilda on to the finish line!  Thanks everyone.

Five Extraordinary Years

All of my children are miracles.  They are miracles to me.  All three of them own my heart and are wrapped into the depths of my soul.  There is a feeling that is a little deeper, though, when I look at my daughter.

My daughter.

To hear those words when I had convinced myself I would never have a daughter…That moment is forever etched on my heart.  She’s my daughter.  Mine. 

And I adore her.

I want the world for her.

I want to protect her from the world.

She’s beautiful and sassy and funny and awesome.

She’s my daughter.

And today?  Today she is five.



5 Extraordinary Years from Kelli Stuart on Vimeo.

 Happy Birthday to my sweet girl today.  I look forward to many more extraordinary years…

Song by Rebekah Sullivant from her Little Lambs and Lullabies album.

Many thanks to Jim of BusyDadBlog for inspiring me to begin using video and for taking the time to teach me how to use the software.  Hopefully there will be many more videos to come.

Girl and Boy become Mom and Dad

With our lovely and eventful honeymoon now over, Lee and I set up house in Frisco, Texas just north of Dallas.  We had a sweet little third floor apartment that I loved not only for its charm but also for the fact that I could vacuum the entire place without once having to unplug the vacuum cleaner.  Big bonus!

When we returned from our honeymoon, the job that we thought was lined up for Lee had fallen through.  But, thankfully, another job opened up immediately as a sales rep for Hewlitt Packard.  He was going to make 36 grand a year and we were certain we were rolling in the dough.

I commenced to freelance writing and editing.  I had a gig as a co-author with Joe White on an upcoming devotional and I also had several contacts who threw ghostwriting opportunities my way.  Because these took a lot of time, I decided to forgo the traditional 9 to 5 job and get something with more flexible hours.

Enter WOGA – the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy.  As a former gymnast, I had the experience needed to work at this high class facility.  As a russian speaker, I had an immediate in with my bosses, Valery Liukin and Evgeny Marchenko.  So every afternoon, I reported to work and while I coached my level four and five girls, I had the unique privilage of watching a then 13 year old Carly Patterson and 10 year old Nastia Liukin train.  They were amazing even as little girls.  Lee and I also forged some wonderful relationships at WOGA and every time I return to Dallas I try to visit and say hello to my dear friends.

In addition to WOGA, Lee and I attended Chuck Swindoll’s Church where, every Sunday, we sat next to Cynthia Swindoll and soaked up the most amazing teaching.  To say those first years of our marriage were blessed is an understatement.  From our friends at church and at work, we have nothing but fond and sweet thoughts of those days.

But, as happens in life, we experienced our first blow in 2002 when Lee was fired from his job.  We were devastated, shocked and scared.  We loved our life in Dallas and didn’t want to leave, but after four months of looking for work, we had to make the difficult decision to pack up and move.  Lee got a job in St. Louis and we moved in with my parents.


In October, 2002, Lee and I had a little marital conversation.  It went something like this:

Kelli: “I’m ready to have a baby.”

Lee: *crickets*

Kelli: “What do you think?”

And thus Lee laid out a long list of reasons why we should, in fact, NOT have a baby.  They included things like – “We aren’t making very much money,” – “We don’t have a place to live,” – “You just started a new job.”

“Let’s talk about this again in six months,” Lee suggested to which I agreed.

One week later I found out I was pregnant.

So I did what any reasonable wife would do with such amazing news.  I called my husband at work and broke the news over the phone.

After the initial shock wore off, we were both very excited…and terrified.  But look how cute we were:


We did find a house in January of 2003 and spent the next seven months gutting and rehabbing it.  Because there’s nothing less stressful than trying to rehab a house when you have a pregnant hormonal wife breathing down your neck…


On July 10, 2003, after five hours of intense labor, Sloan Alexander came screaming into the world.  He was beautiful and fat and sweet and perfect and we could not have been more elated.


We had the house finished enough to bring Sloan home to it a week after he was born.  We’re still in that home today.  It seems to have gotten smaller over the years, but we love it there.

When Sloan was a little over a year old, we decided to give him a sibling.  Little did we know it would take almost a year to get pregnant the second time around.  It was a very discouraging time for me and while I know that many couples struggle for much, much longer than we did, it gave me a small glimpse of the heartache and frustration of infertility.

Finally, though, after much heartache and prayer, we conceived our second child.  When I was pregnant with Sloan, Lee was adamant about finding out the sex before he was born.  I, however, wanted to wait.  So he agreed that we could be surprised the second time around and true to his word, we did not find out the gender.

We just assumed it would be a boy.  There had only been one girl in roughly five generations of Stuarts so we didn’t think we’d change that trend.  I washed up all the baby boy clothes and lovingly placed them in the nursery.  We chose the name Sawyer Brayden and we waited to meet Sloan’s baby brother. (Sloan, incidentally, though only two years old at the time, insisted that he would be getting a sister.)

On my due date, February 2, 2006, my water broke at 4:20 am.  At 6:19 our daughter, Katya Rose, was born.  That was a good day.

Katya Rose 037

After Tia, we agreed to wait a bit before having a third child.  The only snag came when Tia was 13 months old and we deiceded to take our first vacation alone together since our honeymoon.  Four weeks later I held a positive pregnancy test in my trembling hands.

Lee was leaving that afternoon to visit his family in Arkansas for the weekend.  I made the mistake of telling him before he left.  He was shocked and his initial reaction was anger.  In fact, we barely spoke all weekend.  I was sick with worry and felt like somehow I had done something wrong.  It was a bad weekend.

I even called a friend nearly in tears to get a little reassurance that we were going to be okay and we hadn’t detrimentally harmed our older children by forcing another sibling upon them so quickly.

Thankfully, though, Lee came home with a fresh perspective and calmed my anxious heart and, with a little time, we grew excited about this new babe.  Then, at ten weeks, I rushed to the ER, bleeding heavily, sure I was miscarrying.  We discovered the next day that the amniotic sac had torn away from the uterine wall.  The doctor used words like “spontaneous abortion” and “D & C” and I feared like never before.  Because as he said those things I was staring at a tiny, beating heart on the ultrasound machine.  I could see arms and a facial profile and all I could think was that if my body failed, this life would end.

It didn’t end, though.  After a moneth of bedrest, the issue corrected itself and on December 16, 2007, Landon Lee was born after what seemed an unending labor and delivery.  (I was in the hospital a whopping two and a half hours before he was born – my longest stay in the delivery room ever!)


And here we sit – a week away from our tenth anniversary, three children sleeping soundly one room over.  We look a little older than we did the day we walked down the aisle and our lives are definately filled with more crazy.

But I wouldn’t trade that crazy for all the riches in the world.  Especially because these three faces…


Are the product of what began on the Saturday afternoon in July of 2000.  From where I sit, it’s been one heck of a decade.

To read our entire love story – click here.