People Who Sing Jesus

I will preface this book review by telling you that I am unashamedly biased toward the author. Sean is my cousin and I’ve always thought he was the Bee’s Knees. When we were younger, I was fairly certain that Sean hung the moon in the sky. He was quiet and kind and you should have seen him play Frogger on the Atari.

It was nothing short of awe inspiring.

So yes, I’m biased, but here’s the deal. If I didn’t genuinely find this book to be amazing and fascinating and thought provoking, I wouldn’t review it. So while I have an obvious bias to Sean himself, I certainly didn’t have any thoughts on the book until I read it.

And then I had to read it again and, honestly, I think I need to read it a third time.

This is coming from a girl who doesn’t like to read non-fiction.

People Who Sing Jesus has given me pause for thought these last few weeks. It’s no secret that this move has been a difficult one for our family. In nearly twelve years of marriage, Lee and I have rarely struggled, but this move has made us work harder in a lot of areas.

We’ve had to work harder as husband and wife.

We’ve had to work harder at parenting.

We’ve had to work harder at seeking Jesus.

I started praying the scary prayer not long after we came down here. “Lord, don’t let me know you for who I think you are. Help me know you for who you really are.” Each time I pray that prayer I try not to grimace and I force myself not to put several hundred caveat’s on the request.

Lord let me know you for who you truly are, but…

Don’t take away the people or things I love,

Don’t make the refining fire too hot,

Don’t let my vision shift be too painful.

I’ve had to learn again to sing Jesus and to understand WHY I sing His Name. And in the process I’ve been so deeply humbled that I’ve had a bit of vertigo.

This week, as the kids and I prepare for the sacred remembrance of Good Friday, we’ve been reading the story of Jesus’ walk to Calvary and it’s given me so much pause as I soak in His sacrifice wholly and fully. Why do I sing Jesus? Why do I stand in awe of Him?

Sean opens the first chapter with this paragraph: “You may find this hard to believe, but your life is significantly attached to the original score of music. The most ancient expression of creativity began not in notes and scales but in the formation of life. As the Creator set the cosmos in motion, the framework for melodies originated, and those early formations are linked to your story. God’s creative work binds together your life with your purpose to sing new songs that connect to the Creator’s original score. Your life continues adding notes to the original melody.”

The first time I read these words I went over them twice, tears pricking the corners of my eyes. To know that the Creator of the Universe, the One I so desire to know for who He truly is, created me with a purpose that links to His original score of Creation sets my heart trembling. And the resulting action toward which I feel compelled is to sing.

Creation already sings His praises. The thunder is His bass and the oceans provide the rhythm. The mountains are the strings that echo the harmonious chorus of the animals that grace their paths. The wind blows and whispers his name while the lightening provides the clanging symbol of His glory.

And inside that melodious track, we have been given the gift of words to put His Name to music, singing along with all of Creation. We, you and I, are all a part of the song and, as Sean explains, we have been since the very beginning of time when He set the melody in place. Knowing and understanding this not only gives cause for more praise, but also turns us more toward the One who released the first chord. The Conductor.

People Who Sing Jesus is theology wrapped in grace-filled prose. It’s a book that will cause you to stop and question – Who is God and who are we?

There is so much more I want to tell you, and so many more quotes I want to pull from the book and share. But it would be better if you read the book yourself. Because in 800 words or less, I simply cannot do justice to the power of this beautiful book. All I know is when I finished it, I wanted to sing.

“God’s truth is revealed in every aspect of life: science, technology, health, economics, creation, politics, and all human interactivity. What you see and know is only a fraction of the picture. The Creator has much more in store for you than you can possibly imagine.” Sean Cooper, People Who Sing Jesus

You can purchase People Who Sing Jesus here.

Imagination, Creativity and Flying like a Bird

What do you think it’s like to be a bird?

I think it must be thrilling.

Just once I’d like to feel the rush of flying, of spreading the wings and gliding on the wisp of the wind.  If I were to be a bird, though, I can’t decide where I’d like to rest my feathers.  Would I be a mountain bird, coasting from mountain top to mountain top, the valleys and peaks soaring below in harmonious rhythm?  If I were to be a mountain bird, I’d like to be one in Austria for I don’t think you will find more beautiful formations in all the world.


Hallstatt, Austria where one year ago today we stood atop this mountain and I longed for the freedom of flight.

But, I fear the frigid winter air would be too much for me…even as a mountain bird.  So perhaps I would be better suited as an island bird.  What must it be to glide above the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean, the warm, salty air whipping over me as I coast left to right.  If I were to be an island bird, I’d like to reside over Spanish Wells, Bahamas.  Because I think that God shines His Grace upon that island in extra measures.

These are things I think about.

There are some days…many days…when I wish I could unplug from it all.  I dream of a secret garden where I could escape and get lost in the dreams of my mind.  I would wander the twisted flowers and gnarled tree trunks with only the soft padding of my feet in the grass as company.  I would lose myself in the romance of the soft setting, dreaming up far off lands where anything is possible.  My imagination would no longer be dictated and diluted but would be free to run, to fly.

I would be the bird, the free spirit who never grows up, the romantic who throws her arms around her sweaty man with abandon.

These are things I think about.

This week, the kids and I are telling stories – making them up.  We are digging into the recesses of our minds where imagination waits to be stirred.  Robots come to life and trees dance in the breeze.  The grass is purple and streams are made of chocolate.  Grand adventures lie around every corner and over every bridge.  Sometimes, when the oldest is telling his story, Bigfoot makes an appearance.  And tornados.  It’s very exciting.

When the girl tells her stories, they almost always involve a talking unicorn.  It is magical.

When the youngest tells his stories they almost always include the words “booty” and “toot.”  It’s hysterical.

Imagination is the best way to see one of the greatest traits of God Himself – creativity. For inside the mind’s eye, the creativity of the Creator indwells each one of us with the ability to see a little beyond that which is before us.  Mathematicians see formulas that take us to the moon.  Scientists see developments that allow us to see life from a different spectrum.  Poets allow us to hear nature through the fluidity of their pens.  Musicians discover harmonies that speak to our souls and take us beyond the present.

Imagination is where the Creator left His greatest imprint on us…His Image Bearers.

It is inside the recesses of our minds that God gave us a grand bit of Himself.  After all, He had the greatest imagination of them all.  And when we open kids up to this process of creativity, we let them truly come alive.  The challenge is to quiet the Earth around us.  And what a challenge it is.

Would that I could lose myself inside imagination every day where life is not confined to only that which I know but is instead wide open, limitless in reach.  Technology has dulled my imagination, and even that of my children.  But it’s always there, imagination, waiting to be tapped and used.  Imagination leads us into some place new and unknown.

Where I can fly.

These are things I think about.

A Party for all Eternity

We laid the Bible on the table and she sat silent for a moment, the weight of God’s Word sinking deep.

“God thinks I’m important?” she asked.

We just finished reading from Genesis when Abraham, obeying God’s command, took Isaac to the mountain and lay him on an altar.  He raised the knife high, willing to sacrifice his son yet heartbroken to do it.

“Abraham, Stop!”

A lamb.

A thicket and an altar of thanksgiving.

A promise kept.

To me, it was just another story.  But the message she got?

The words whispered to her soul?

God thought Isaac important.  So important, he was to be spared.

God thinks her important.

So important, she was to be spared.

A Sacrificial Lamb sent to take her place.

“I think I’m ready,” she said, very matter of fact.  No doubt, the voice did not waver.

And later that day, nestled on the bed between us…she answered the knock.




She understood.  The acceptance holds weight.


The dirt…

Made clean.


A Princess.

And when the prayers were finished, she smiled wide.

“Heaven’s having a party for me now, right?” she asked with a grin.

And they are.  I imagine it to be a grand feast with birthday cake, Nutella (naturally) and M&M’s – all her favorites.

We had our own party.

At a restaurant on the beach we celebrated over chicken fingers and shrimp.

An altar of thanksgiving.

As we wrapped up and the low lying clouds began to shine with the rays of the sun breaking through their surface, she turned to me.  All eyes.  Big and bright.

Crystal Blue.


“Mom, is my heaven party over now?” she asked.

“No, baby.  They’ll be celebrating you for all eternity.”

“Yet to those who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12


*A profession of faith in Christ is really important to us and knowing our children have come to that point brings us to our knees.  If you are unsure as to why that’s important to us or you have any questions about why we believe what we believe, please feel free to email me.  I would love to chat with you.  kellistuart00 (at) hotmail (dot) com.


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“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.

The Waves


Have you ever watched the waves rolls in to shore and been mesmerized by the rhythmic swell and crash?  Have you seen the way they slowly pull back from the shore, gathering in a mass, then tumbled in frothy praise to the sand?

I love that.

I love the sound of the water as it tumbles and rolls.  It’s praise.  And I feel like many times, my praises echo those of the sea.  There is a welling up of my soul and it gathers with momentum, then peaks and crashes forward, spilling praise at the feet of the throne.

Sometimes the wave of praise is large – a culmination of fear, heartache, struggle or simply gratitude.  It’s a tidal wave of praise that builds up slowly and spills over with force.

Sometimes the waves of praise are smaller, but they are consistent.  An ever present gathering and rolling of white tipped praise that cannot be quelched or contained.

Sometimes, though, there is no praise.  I am still.  Like the ocean on a clear, calm morning, I sit stagnant.  At times this stillness is a good thing.  I am listening.  I’m waiting for the whispers.  And if I listen for long enough, I usually end up bursting forth with that tidal wave of praise again.

But, unfortunately, many times the stillness is a result of not listening.  It’s a result of stepping away, checking out or simply being lazy.  I might send forth a ripple here and there, but the waves of praise stall.  This is how the ocean begins to dry up. 

I don’t like this place.

Several years ago, as I was in a place of frustration, I penned a short phrase that has stayed with me since.

Used have brilliant words to sing

Now I drift like the wave

I crash to the shore

Then I quickly pull away

I miss sitting at Your Feet

Listening to your tender words so sweet

How I long to surrender

To Thee, Precious Lord

I long for Your presence in me.

I wrote those words in a journal late one night, while the rest of the world slept and my mind churned like the unsettled ocean.  It was a time when I felt distant from the Lord.  A time when I felt like the stagnant sea.  In a burst of emotion I would offer up my praise, then, as quickly as the wave began, it pulled away and the ocean of my soul grew stagnant again.

Lately, these words have been spinning in me again – but in the right way this time.  It’s a good place to be.  I kind of like this contemplative state of mind.  It helps me sit still and wait and, ultimately, the waves of praise will bubble forth yet again. 

We’re in a blessed place as a family.  But…Sometimes a good place gives way to complacency.  I’m fighting it.  Really, really fighting it.  Because now I have the opportunity to spill forth with grateful praise.  I don’t want to miss that opportunity!  I don’t want to be content stagnant.  And so I stop, and I think.

Shaun Groves wrote about this yesterday.  It spoke right to my heart, confirming the emotions already stirring.  I love the written word – especially when paired with a beautiful melody.  

These are the things on my heart today. 

And, obviously, I’ve got the beach on the brain…



I was twelve years old.  I woke up early and got myself dressed for school.  I even remember what I was wearing.  A white T-Shirt underneath flower printed cloth overalls.


I scrunched my permed hair and lathered it with gel because God knows I didn’t want those spirals to frizz out midday.  I put on my white Keds and I walked downstairs for breakfast.  It was early and the house was still.  The frigid winter air made the hair on my arms stand tall as I bounded into the kitchen.

Mom was standing at the kitchen sink staring out the window.  I knew something was wrong.  The air felt like sorrow.

“What’s wrong?” I asked quietly.  Mom turned to me, her eyes and nose red.  I walked over to her.

“I got a call last night,” she said with a trembly voice.  “Aunt Joy is in the hospital.  They don’t think she will live.”  And with that my mom broke down.  I will never forget that moment.  My mom’s head on my shoulder.  For the first time she needed me.

I went to school with a heavy heart that day and a sense of dread.  When I got off the bus I saw Dad’s car in the driveway.  At that moment I knew, but I didn’t want it to be true.  Dad was waiting for me in the kitchen and when I walked in the door he engulfed me in a tight embrace.

“Where’s Mom?” I asked.

“She is on a plane to South Carolina,” Dad said softly.  He stroked my hair.

“How is Aunt Joy?”  I can still feel the sense of loss when I think of that moment.

Dad paused.  “She passed away,” he said.

It was February 4, 1991.  Twenty years ago.  It is a moment that defined and shaped my young life.  It’s the moment when death became real and life became precious.  It was a time when I realized that nothing is guaranteed.  Someone can go in for a routine procedure and end up gone…sometimes without explanation.

The days that followed are some of the happiest and most sorrowful of my life.  I am blessed with an extended family that has a depth of love, grace and heritage that is hard to match.  For an entire week I was surrounded by the people who love me most and for whom I feel the deepest love.  Because I was still so young, the time together with my cousins is filled with fun memories.  Again, I believe that is God’s grace in protecting my still developing heart.

The reason, however, for our gathering was deeply sorrowful.  There are moments of that week that are burned deeply in my memory and, quite honestly, they’re too painful to record on such a public forum.  Partly because they are tucked away in places that are just mine and partly because many of them involve the pain I witnessed in others and the stories aren’t really mine to share.  They are moments that I wish I could forget.  One of the blessings of being a writer is the ability to recall in detail emotions and settings. 

It’s also a curse…

As tough as some of those moments are to think about, they are also moments that God used to show me what grace is.  My Aunt Joy’s death was not a momentary blip but was the catalyst for how God would mold and shape me as I grew.  And now, as an adult, I can still look at that day twenty years ago and see God’s grace in my life.  Aunt Joy’s death set into motion a whole host of trials to be overcome and brought about joy and triumph that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise.

Her death affected all of us.  It shaped and defined our entire family, all in different ways.  Some, like her three children, were affected much more deeply.  Others, like her siblings, still feel the sting of her death.  But all of us can look back on that time and say God is good and He was there.

Today I remember.

Dream a Little Dream


I am a dreamer.  A day dreamer, night dreamer, all the time dreamer.  A dreamer with an active imagination.  With all this dreaminess there is often quite a bit of disappointment.  Because dreams don’t always come true.  Of course, the fulfillment of dreams all depends on how you view things.

When I was little I dreamed of being a famous actress.  This is a common dream for most young girls, I suppose.  At least most young girls who like to be on stage…and I did like to be onstage.  I learned at a young age, though, that being famous would mean a lot of elbowing around, jockeying for position in a pool filled with talent.  I may be a dreamer, but I’m not a big fighter.  It only took a few experiences of rejection to scare me away.  Maybe I should have tried harder, but the fact is this dream was just that – a dream.  It wasn’t a passion.  You have to have dreams combined with passion to power through that type of rejection.

As a young adult, I was made aware of a tiny little gift I had with words.  That’s nicer than saying I am long winded and just happen to be able to spin my wordiness in a way that’s comprehesible, right?  About this time I did my first Beth Moore Bible Study and I determined that I would one day write Bible studies like Beth Moore.  I dreamed of holing myself up for hours at a time with nothing but my Bible and computer.

It didn’t take me long to realize that God created only one Beth Moore.  That’s not to say I couldn’t write a Bible study or two someday, but trying to match the spunk and verve with which Beth Moore writes is like saying I’m going to go out and be a 7 time Tour de France winner like Lance Armstrong.  Just because I can ride a bike doesn’t mean I can win the race, ya know?

As I’ve gotten more mature (notice I didn’t say older) my dreams have evolved a bit.  I dream more realistically.  I dream about what my children will think of me when they’re grown.  I hope it’s good things as a result of happy memories.  I dream of seeing my children grow and mature in wisdom and knowledge.  I dream about what they will be like/look like/act like as teenagers and adults.  (Sometimes I fear this to!)  I dream of where life will lead us as a family.  I dream about the experiences I want to give my kids – where I want to take them, what I want to expose them to, who I want them to see and meet.

I dream of living in a mansion and having two maids – one to clean my house and the other to do my laundry.  I dream of handing my personal shopper a grocery list and having her return an hour later with bags in tow, then handing them to the cook who prepares all our meals for us.  I dream of the private jet that will shuttle us to our private island in the Carribbean…

Um…not all of my grown up dreams are realistic.

I do dream of exposing my kids to a world outside their own.  I dream of taking mission trips as a family.  I dream about serving our local community together as a family.  I dream about introducing my children to the concept of missions in a real and tangible way, passing along the heritage that is so rich in our family’s history.

I dream of sleeping through the night.

I dream of having a greater involvement in the Russian culture with my children beyond simply teaching them the language.  I dream of having a greater impact through my writing  beyond simply sharing the mundane moments of our days.  Even when the mundane moments are pretty funny. 

For example as we drove in the car yesterday Sloan asked me when our dog, Sadie, would have puppies.  I told him she wouldn’t because she was fixed to not have puppies when she was a baby.  “Oh,” he said.  “Did you fix her because it’s so messy and gross for dogs to have puppies?”  “Um…” I answered.  “Yeah,” he continued.  “When dogs have puppies they shoot ’em out all goopy and black…like a rocket.”

I dream of better monitoring what my children see on TV.

I dream of touring Europe with my husband…. I can check that one off the list!  The only problem is now that I’ve done it once I dream of doing it again and again.  Gonna have to reign that one in.

I like dreaming.  Sometimes it’s all that gets me through the long days.  Other times, however, it breeds discontentment so I have to keep the dreaming in check and be as realistic as I can, while still allowing the occasional hope to peek through (like the private maid and personal chef – I’m not letting go of that one too easily).  The thing with dreams is that so often you can look back and see God’s hand in them and see how they came true.  Sometimes they are realized in a way that’s a bit different than you imagined, but often they’re even better than what you imagined.

Dreams are good.  Dreams are scary.  Dreams sometimes require action.  And that may be the scariest part of all.  I can’t sit back and lay out my dreams before God and then wait for Him to make them happen.  Sometimes I might have to chase a dream without knowing if I’m supposed to trusting full well that He will make that clear to me in time.  This sometimes requires a rather frightening leap of faith.

The best part about trusting God with your dreams is looking back and realizing He gave you far more than you could have asked or imagined.  Even in the heartaches of the past, I see how He carefully wove the fabric of my life to bring about the fruition of dreams I didn’t even dare to dream.  Perhaps that’s easy for me to say as my life is abundantly blessed.  I would be remiss if I didn’t confess that there are hidden heartaches and unrealized dreams that are hard to let go of.  But if I’m willing to look beyond those circumstances and really stare into the face of what’s before me I could say this without a single doubt:

My life is a dream come true.  And I never even tried to dream this up.