I was born on January 5, 1993 in a tiny little town in middle Tennessee. I was born to Ronald and Rhonda, with two older brothers: Stephen, who was nine at the time, and Jacob, who was six.
I weighed 7 lb. 7 oz. :)
When I was 21 months old, my little sister Amie was born. My parents wanted to have a ton of kids, but God sometimes has other plans. My sister was the last of their children, and her name is Amie Grace, after God's amazing grace.
This will not just be about me, because so many people have had a hand in my story.
I've always been bossy, but when I was little I was really bossy. It didn't help that my brothers let me tell them what to do and did it most of the time. My sister and I were spoiled rotten by them, and we've had the BEST big brothers any girl could ask for. This is probably the reason I hope my first child is a boy.
When I was two years old I got asthma. It's hereditary, and I have a few aunts and uncles and a cousin with it. Several nights growing up were spent being rocked by my mom, with my breathing machine held to my mouth until the medicine had me quivering. By the time I was six years old, I had been in the hospital with double pneumonia three times, and we had made several trips to the emergency room. This was a really scary time for my parents, and difficult on me. I learned how to write my name in a hospital bed.
I only remember a few of these trips, but one time we were flying down the highway, hazard lights flashing, and the blue and red lights came on behind us. My dad never slowed down, and the policeman pulled in behind us at the hospital. When we got out of the car he said, "I understand. I knew what was going on, and I wanted to make sure y'all got here safely."
The last time we made a trip to the ER was when I was twelve. My dad was preaching a meeting in Georgia, and it was a Wednesday night. Jacob carried me to the car and drove me to the hospital with my mom and Amie following. Our assistant pastor - my Wednesday night teacher at the time - got there a few minutes after we did. A nurse in the emergency room is a member of our church, and any time one of us had to be taken (my brothers hurt themselves frequently - Stephen in ball, Jacob in many other things.) we could call her and let them know ahead of time. It always calmed me down to see someone I knew.
This trip, I was admitted to the hospital and had to stay three nights. My dad drove through the night and got there at 1:00 in the morning. I remember waking up (Jacob took Amie home and slept in my bed in our room because she was too afraid to stay in there alone) and he was standing at the foot of my hospital bed still wearing his tie. He was whispering to my mom, who stayed with me, and when I woke up he came over and prayed with me.
|This little boy is Hudson, who is 8 years old now! His mom brought him to visit me :)|
The first bouquet of flowers I got the next morning were from Stephen, who was in college. I had several visitors from church, and got stuffed animals, flowers, and balloons from friends and family. That was my last trip to the hospital, and I hopefully won't have another one until I have babies!
The treatments I had to take always made me feel full, and I didn't eat a whole lot of food. I was a skinny little beanpole growing up, and until I was 17 or 18 I still didn't gain much weight. My awkward years were truly awkward. I shot up all at once when I was 12, and I've grown maybe a quarter of an inch since then. At 5'4" I was taller than all the boys and weighed every bit of 90 pounds. Thank goodness that's over! :)
Because I had such weak lungs, there were a lot of things I couldn't do. I wasn't very active because once I lost my breath, it took the help of medicine for me to catch it again. Because of this, I developed a huge love for reading. I would read all day, every day. When I was in school, as soon as I was done with my work I went straight to reading. My mom let me because there wasn't anything else for me to do. In the summer I'd take my book outside and sit on our porch swing. By the time I was a teenager I'd already read hundreds of books, and I started writing and making up my own stories when I was twelve. I still love it to this day. My punishment as a kid was getting my book taken away.
When I was six years old, I had an asthma attack. It was September of 1999. Amie and I shared a double bed, and I'd already taken a full breathing treatment. I was laying on my back, concentrating on each breath I took. I have a super bad memory, but I remember this very clearly. I was thinking about the VBS we'd had that summer, and I started thinking about heaven and hell. I knew exactly what each place was, and I knew if you weren't saved you went to hell. As I laid there looking at the ceiling, my lungs started hurting, like they did a lot. It was hard to breathe, and I started thinking about what would happen if I stopped trying. If I just gave up and didn't try to get that next breath of air inside me. I knew I would die, and then it hit me - I would die, and I would go to hell. This scared me out of my mind, and I wasted no time, I didn't think about it, I got up and went straight downstairs where my parents were still up.
I actually went to my mom, and we both went to my dad. We went in the play room - which is now their bedroom/living room - and they sat in the two recliners and I knelt between them. We talked about when it meant to be saved - born again. They knew I was ready. My mom prayed first, and I have no idea what she said. I prayed next, and asked God to save me. My dad prayed last, and I don't remember what he said, either.
I don't remember much. I don't remember feeling like a burden had been lifted, just an enormous feeling of relief - though I couldn't have told you that then. I was so happy, and I wanted to tell everyone. Mama let me wake up Stephen and Jacob and tell them, and then she took me back to my room, gave me another breathing treatment, and I fell asleep.
The thing about being saved young is that you don't remember everything. The little details eventually fade away, and all I can tell you is that on that night, Jesus came into my heart and saved me. The only doubts I've ever had are when other people say "I got saved at a young age, and got assurance at such-and-such age". It makes me wonder why I've never doubted mine, but I just accept it as a gift from God. He hasn't wanted me to doubt, and I haven't.
Over the years, I have slowly outgrown my asthma. It still flares up occasionally - during a stressful month or when the weather changes, and you will always find and inhaler in my purse. But I pretty much just forget about it now.
My little sister lost a lot of her hearing when she was three years old. We both had the chicken pox, but she was left with nerve damage on her hearing. It's never gotten better, but it's never gotten worse either. She wears hearing aids, and reads lips like none other. That's part of the reason I love sharing her music on here. She has truly lived up to her name. Because her struggle has made such an impact on my life, I felt like it was worth sharing. If you meet us, and talk to us, you may notice that sometimes I repeat what people say to her. It's an old habit I got before she got her hearing aids. When we were little our mom read us the Little House on the Prairie series. When Mary went blind, Laura promised to be her eyes. I thought that was just so cool, and promised to be Amie's ears. She doesn't really need me anymore, but old habits die hard!
During my teen years I struggled with being outgoing and friendly. I've always had my own little world - a world of fiction, like the books I read, and I just didn't see the need keep making friends. I have friends, and I've never been bothered if I'm alone. I actually really enjoy being alone! But I've worked on it, and I'm getting better. I just wish that I'd listened to my parents and been friendlier at a younger age.
Jacob and Christine got married when I was 14. I had my first experience at having an older sister, and wasn't sure how to take it. We all grew and learned, and when I got my second older sister when I was 18, I was just glad both brothers were married and I could concentrate on myself! ;)
I became an aunt when I was 16, and since then I think everyone should be an aunt because it's awesome.
When Jacob was in the fourth grade, my parents decided to home school. Stephen continued going to public school, and Amie and I went to the preschool at the Methodist church in town, but were home schooled after that. We loved it. Several of our friends were home schooled as well, and we went on some of the coolest field trips! I never felt deprived or sheltered, and I'm very thankful for my parent's decision.
We were introduced to missions at a very young age. I remember filling out my Faith Promise card, pledging to give 25 cents a week. I remember putting a dollar in my envelope, and then moving up to giving $5 made me feel like I was so rich. At the time, I was giving the majority of the money I had, and I never thought a thing about it. Giving to missions has always been natural to us, and it's one of my favorite things. I know people all over the world, and we have several missionaries out of our church. I wish everyone was involved in missions, because it's amazing.
When I was 15, my parents, Amie and I went to Australia to visit missionaries out of our church. We were there about 14 days, and it was my first experience seeing what missionaries actually do. When I was 19, Amie and I and several of our friends went to Germany. This was another experience entirely - this time my parents weren't with us, and we WORKED. Both trips were amazing, and I would love to take several more, and help many missionaries!
When I was 17, the four of us took a trip to Washington, D.C. This will forever rank as one of my favorite vacations. I LOVE history, and we saw many of the national monuments. It was amazing, and I wanted to live there! The best part of the trip was when we took a day and went to Mount Vernon. I can't explain the experience of standing on the back porch of father of our country's home, on that misty morning, looking over the Potomac River. George Washington said it was the most beautiful estate in all of the world, and I agree, 100%.
When I was 18, we went to Maui, Hawaii for Stephen's wedding. Obviously a favorite place - I've only talked about it once or twice! ;) Maui was one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been. The weather was perfect the entire 5 days we were there, and we made a day trip to Oahu to see Pearl Harbor and tour the island. It was wonderful, and I'm determined I will go back some day and stay much longer!
Those are my "travels" so far. I would love to tour/backpack Europe some day, I want to stay at least two weeks in Ireland. I want to stay in Italy for awhile and I'd love to go back to Germany. I want to go to Prince Edward Island, Africa, and another obvious one - Papua New Guinea. I love traveling, and it would be awesome if there is some of it in my future!
Everything else is pretty much the same old story. Permit at 15, license at 16, car at 17, graduated at 18. People think that if you were home schooled you are either a genius or you're really dumb. I am neither. I stink at math and can't remember anything involving numbers to save my life. I love English, proper grammar, and putting words together. Actually, I adore it.
Choosing not to go to college was difficult for me. I won't write about it because I already have. But I love the job I have now! :)
At this point in my life I'm learning that God doesn't ask all of us to go somewhere and suffer for Him. Someone has to stay behind and "send" and for now, that's what I'm doing. The quote says, "Until God opens the next door in your life, praise him in the hallway." For some people, doing the will of God comes in one big dose of "Go here and do this." For me, it's, "Kelley, it's time to wake up and go to work." "Now, you need to print those birthday cards and send them out." "Ok, now it's time to go home and eat lunch." One step at a time, and I'm learning to praise Him in the hallway.
One thing that makes me and my siblings different is that we are pastor's kids. We grew up living in a glass house, in a town that does not love our dad. We don't have any secrets, and there were times when life was just hard because people can be cruel.
But God gave us an amazing church family. They're really the best, and I'm not just saying that. Sometimes, they're like our blood family, and that makes being the pastor's family so much easier. They make Daddy's calling so worthwhile.
I wouldn't change a thing about growing up "in the ministry". I love it. I love the people, I love the missionaries, and I just love the ministry. I'm so thankful to be where I am today.