The Worst Day Of My Life

I wish we were sitting face to face, over a cup of coffee so you could hear the sorrow and grief in my voice as I share this news with you.

As many of you know, I experienced great loss in 2010 when my dad passed away and then 5 months later, my younger sister Melissa passed away. In 2014 I experienced another loss….I had a miscarriage. On May 5, 2014 my mom passed away.

Today, as I look at my childhood family vacation photos, I am the only one left living, this side of Heaven.

Another recent loss was the Red Caboose, our coffee + frozen yogurt shop, which was purchased and shut down in May 2018.

Great grief, heartache and loss has brought me to my knees more in these past 8 years. When I find myself thinking “its not supposed to be this way. Haven’t I been through enough already?”….I am reminded that this journey is not my own. And pain truly is our microphone.

The evening of November 16, 2017, when I was blindsided, has truly become the worst day of my life.

Seven months ago, I learned that my husband, life partner, business partner, father of my children, Reed Trontel, has been repeatedly unfaithful to me with a 27 year year old realtor in our small town, bringing an end to our marriage of almost 13 years. My heart in sharing this information is not to harm or shame Reed, but to help explain the absence of his presence in my social media feed and blog posts. And if you’re local…..this is why you haven’t seen us out as a family. Private messages and emails have been sent to me almost daily since Christmas and rightfully so, as I have been a blogger/ influencer for over 12 years and have openly shared my life online.

I made the decision not to divorce Reed when I found out about his infidelity. I was committed to doing everything possible for our story to be one of restoration and a great come back story, even in the midst of the worst kind of betrayal in a marriage. This decision was not easy, but built on prayer and wise counsel from pastors, family and friends who have loved and believed in us from the very beginning. Deep down in my heart, I also knew this would be the way my own parents would have guided me.

When I found his burner phone in December I immediately contacted our counselor and we prayed……and I replied to his mistress as if I were addressing my own daughter, who was playing with fire. All the words that would normally come to mind in regards to a mistress, believe it or not- would not be found in this text. I simply asked her to leave my husband alone.

When the mistress aggressively continued to deceitfully pursue my husband, I decided to contact her mother, as she still lives at home and is employed by her parents. It was actually her mother’s response that truly made me question where I live. I know this world is not our home, but it was in her response  “so, what do you expect me to do about it?” I was shocked……and I knew right then and there that I was dealing with pure evil.

We clocked hours and hours of counseling between November 16th and December 21st. Reed even booked flights for us to escape to San Diego for Christmas…..to invest in our relationship, but 48 hours before we were to depart, Reed told me that he didn’t want our marriage to work out and that the kids and I should just head to Boise to spend Christmas with my family.

In January, Reed filed for divorce. I was served divorce papers, while drinking coffee at the Caboose. Even still…….I was committed to fighting for our marriage.

I believe I have the capacity to love and forgive Reed, our marriage verse was 1 John 4:19, which I had engraved in his wedding band: We Love Because He First Loved Us.

How can I not forgive?

I am a forgiven and loved child of God, who doesn’t deserve a seat at the table…..but I do. Not just a seat, but my name is on it.  So, how do I not extend that same offering? It’s hard as hell. But as my soul is heavy with sorrow, God’s Word has been my strength, my saving grace……because tucked inside the pages are testimonies that help us through our own battles.

The Gospel has become so tangible to me these past 7 months. It’s in my face. So loud and clear. It’s scandalous. It’s messy. It’s black and white. It’s about laying down our lives and our preference. It’s a true story of betrayal, forgiveness, death and love…..and in the end……the ultimate come back story in all of history. Even in my own nightmare, God is still good. He sits on the thrown. His eye is on me. This was not a surprise to Him. No persons rejection of me can ever exempt me from the love of God.

Additional losses are in the very near future for my children and I, including our home and our car. In the midst of being forced to make these kinds of financial decisions the betrayal continues to run so deep. I was made aware that my mother-in-law [who just so happens to be a counselor] recently listed her home with Reeds mistress.  The additional loss of family members has added to the hurt. This is the kind of crap you see on tv. Behaviors get excused in the name of wanting people “to be happy” in the end…..not thinking about the devastation the act of infidelity and divorce really has on the spouse and children. It’s unbelievable. The heart is meant to be led, not to be followed.

Sadly, I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted Reed back, but he continues to betray, be unfaithful and dishonest with me.

After much prayer and counsel from wise, biblically-minded mentors, I have decided that Reed has truly abandoned our marriage. I have handed this over. This is in the Lords hands. I need to step out of the way. I will continue to seek counsel towards my own healing, while praying and believing for the Lord’s will and way in all of this.

I will not lose heart. Giving up in life has never been an option for me….and will not be an option now. As my pastor spoke over me 7 months ago…..”this will not take you down.” I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in miracles. The Lord has been so so good to me and I believe He will do it again. Whatever that may be. Whatever that looks like.

This season has been heavy and burdensome, yet I have peace. I am grateful for the mentors in my life who are committed to helping me heal and move forward.

Never did I see D-I-V-O-R-C-E or single motherhood being part of my story. I have avoided sharing this with you as I wanted so badly to skip over the broken and ugly part of this nightmare and jump straight to a celebration. Everyone loves a great comeback story. But it’s in the raging storms that we grow so much in wisdom and understanding. And it’s in the brokenness that God meets us where we are, restoring us and makes things new. He is in all the seasons. He is in all the details.

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13  This is one of many verses that I am clinging to in this deep grief my children and I are now walking through.

Please pray for me. Please pray for Ezra and Imogene. And yes, please pray for Reed.

XO

7.3.18

Jeff Buchanan - Kelli,

I can’t express how sorry I am for your loss(es). Angela and I loved leading our Life Group with you guys and were so excited when God opened up this opportunity for you in Montana. I’m sure the grief and anger I feel is only a fraction of what you’ve experienced. I won’t respond with trite platitudes of “There’s hope for the future.” or “I’m sure God will provide someone else.” Now is the season for Godly sorrow and mourning. I do believe God will bring redemption from this but it will only be seen once you’ve navigated this current valley. Please know Angela and I are praying for you and care about you. Blessings.

Jeff Buchanan

7.3.18

Joanna Dickinson - Kelli, Thanks for sharing yourself in this unbelievable time. It can’t be easy! I never read blogs or respond but your story touched me and I wanted you to know I will be faithful in prayer for y’all!!

7.3.18

Renee weymouth - Love you Kelli
Sending love and hugs from your family in Arizona!
Were behind you always
Xoxo

7.3.18

Maria - Kelli – I’m so sorry for your loss. What a very painful loss. You have to fight feeling alone and know that the Holy Spirit is with you. He is lifting you up in this time. I love you and my heart goes out to you. I commit to pray fervently for you.

Love,
M

7.3.18

Kelli Ferguson - Kelli – I stopped in the Red Caboose and had the pleasure of meeting you and your sweet little boy Ezra while vacationing from CA. You left a mark on my heart with your kindness. I remember how you welcomed us in and shared your story of how you ended up in Whitefish and how we laughed because we both spelled our names with an “i” at the end (as it should be) I know that I’m essentially a stranger to you and yet we are sisters in Christ. I too have experienced loss this last year (my mom is in heaven) and I can only relate to all that you have suffered to a small degree by comparison. But I wanted to reach out and express my profound sorrow over what you have shared. It grieves my heart. Words feel so inadequate in a time of unspeakable loss but I would like you to know I am praying for our Savior to heal your heart, protect your children and to make you whole again.

Prayers and love to you,
Kelli Ferguson

7.4.18

Cynthia - Kelli, I’m so sorry for your loss and for the pain you’ve experience from his betrayal. Praying for you and your sweet boys.

7.4.18

Link - You are TRULY a GEM and you even shine brighter by how you respond in the absolute power of love and strength.

Extremely bummed for you and deeply saddened in my heart for how Reed chose to proceed.

You know Eph 6:10 and are operating in one of the 3 things that last for ever LOVE. Hats off to you Kelli and though my heart is sad. My hope is for you. With much love to you. Look us up when you’re in town. Bring the kids over.

Link

7.4.18

Donna - Kelli, I understand the strength it takes to be vulnerable. I no longer blog but did so over a decade ago. Most hide their struggles but it helps others to know they aren’t alone, so writing about it can be cathartic as well as comforting (to others). When we look at people and think they lived such charmed lives it can exacerbate the pain that they feel (feeling like no one is going through what they are) when they are suffering, so reading about someone else going through hardship but holding onto their faith is inspiring and extends hope. And it may be that someone who has been through it can reach out to you and give you the same in return.

I will say I’ve had a difficult time living here in WF, despite it’s incredible beauty. I know you left a place where you were happy to follow your spouse here. If people only knew what a sacrifice that is…it takes a strong, resilient and loving person to do such a thing so I’m taken aback that you, who have lost so much, have been abandoned by the one person who vowed not to.

I’m an orphan, too…I have no family outside my immediate family. So few can relate to such a loss or the tremendous pain of it. In my great loss, I’ve pulled back from the world, but I look at you and marvel at all you’ve accomplished, the lives you’ve touched, the way you made your incomparable business a warm and welcoming place and how you’ve embraced people of all backgrounds while living with such heartache. You inspire me…and you inspire many others. I will be in prayer for you and your family and may God restore everything that was taken from you.

“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.”
– Deuteronomy 30:3-13

7.4.18

Kelly Sverkounova White - This was shared with me, and honestly it hits me in the gut. This must have been extremely difficult to write…brutal, painful, even beautiful in it’s honesty. I truly believe your words will help others who may be feeling hopeless despair –find their way back to joy. I don’t pray as much as I should, but trust that you will be in mine.

7.4.18

Nadine - Kelli, know that there are many of us who are with you in prayer and pray that the Lord will restore complete joy to your heart and life. Knowing that others are responsible for their sinful choices, I join others in prayer that hearts will be broken and they will beg forgiveness for their sin and that the Lord deals mightily with those who choose to sin every day, knowing that it breaks His heart, as well as yours and your children’s.

7.4.18

Margie - To my sister in Christ
We have never met, spoken or posted each other. I wanted to make that clear to anyone who reads this. In all honesty I’d not be writing to you now except I read the comment made by “the other woman”. I would have followed your example & not use her name but she was brazen and posted it along with her reply to your blog post. Her “reply” was in fact longer than your post. Her efforts to excuse her actions led me to prayer & now to obey the Holy Spirit by writing to you. However the Holy Spirit has also instructed me to write to her.

Kelli, your heartbreaking experience has reminded me of Peter’s imprisonment. I know that’s a strange historical event to compare this betrayal & abandonment by your husband to but I’ll explain why in a little while. First I must address Kaelei.

Kaelei, I come to you under instruction of the Holy Spirit. It’s certainly not a task I planned when I awoke this morning but I strive to be obedient to my God. Kaelei, I have daughters so I’m going to speak to you with the love of a mother as if my own daughter had involved herself in such happenings. Let me be clear though, none of my three daughters ever would have.

Kaelei, you came to Kelli’s blog where she was extremely careful to not reveal your name, business name or family name and once here you brazenly used your own name. Before I speak of what your brazenness & lack of shame led me to find I wish to tell you we as Christians are unable to “bless” someone’s heart. We can ask God to bless their heart, we can say “May God bless your heart” we can even say “bless your heart” which implies beseeching God to bless their heart but to say “I bless your heart” means you consider yourself equal to Christ Jesus our Savior and to God. Do you? Is that the primary issue here, you consider yourself above all people and equal to our Savior? It would explain a great deal.

I’ll now address what your brazenness in attacking Kelli led me to find. Had you been concerned with bad publicity for your family or their business you’d not have accosted Kelli here. In revealing who you were you led me to do a very simple google search for a Kaelei in Whitefish MT who works in real estate & who is proud of having broken up a home. It led me to your facebook pages, your claims to be an actress in movies, your Mary Kay business, your family’s realtor business & your many immodest photos on the internet. It also led me to your many public attacks on a woman who was married to the man you have chosen to have an affair with.

Oh, please Kaelei don’t attempt to claim you only had “feelings” as your brazenness led me to find your copies of your sexually explicit text messages with a married man. Text messages which in your own words declare your sexual affair with him leave your claim of having only feelings rather absurd along with dishonest. You spoke in your post here of Christians not throwing stones & attempted to paint yourself as righteous but in all honesty my dear young woman you are in fact not righteous. It has been your own public statements and actions which have branded you an adulterous woman. You have attempted to excuse your actions of having an affair with a married man by claiming you “urged Reed” to return to his wife. Kaelei, God does not hold us responsible for another’s actions, only our own. Instead of “urging” Reed & then receiving him back into your arms, bed & heart you as a woman who claims to be of God should have closed her heart to him in all ways, cut off all contact with him and refused to have anything to do with a married man attempting to have an affair. Your responsibility to the Savior who gave all for you is to live as he has said is righteous. You did not do that. You offered your heart & bed to a man not married to you. And you continue in that sin. Daughter of God….STOP! Turn back now. Do not continue in this sin filled choice for your life. It doesn’t matter what Reed & Kelli’s marriage was or was not. It doesn’t matter if Reed’s mother likes you. It doesn’t matter if your mother likes Reed or if you think you’re some type of female sexual hero ridding to Reed’s rescue. You are disobeying God’s law. You are right now today driving nails into Jesus’s palms. It is your sins which are crucifying Jesus. Stop. For your own self. Stop. Not for Kelli, not for Reed, not for anyone but for your own relationship with God, STOP. You can ask forgiveness but if you continue you only sin again. Each and every day, each and every night, each and every time you take him to your bed you are fornicating & you become the adulterous woman. By having an affair, by having “feelings” with this man still considered married in the eyes of God you are crucifying Christ.

As I said you spoke in your post here of Christians not throwing stones & attempted to paint yourself as righteous but not only are you not righteous you are also in fact throwing stones. Throwing stones is an interesting phrase for you to have chosen. It comes from the event when the adulterous woman was brought before Jesus by the Scribes (teachers of the law). Jesus did in fact instruct them and us all that only those of us who are without any type of sin is to cast a stone. However, you’ve left off part of the story and it’s the most important part. While Jesus stopped the people gathered from throwing stones he also told the woman to “go and sin no more”. Jesus didn’t say “okay honey you go on & sleep with that man because his wife isn’t perfect”. Jesus said very bluntly, “go and sin no more.” Kaelei Christ is saying to you “Kaelei go, do not sin with Reed again. End it, move on and stop sinning.”

I sincerely believe Kaelei you’ll read this as the Holy Spirit has shown me you are obsessed with Kelli. It’s not only her husband you desired it’s her very life, her spirit. You wish to be what and who she is. That is so not of God. Your actions, your desires, your obsession with Kelli, your lies & attempts to make people believe you are the “victim” is not of God and is abhorrent to him. You poor child you have been blinded by satan & I want you to know I will be praying daily you are delivered from satan’s possession. So yes, you’ll return here & most likely attempt to post again. You are consumed with spreading hate. I feel such pity for you for your actions & for the future you’ll have if you continue. You will not like my words but they are from the Holy Spirit. My heart aches for the damage you’re doing to your own life. May the grace of God find you, may God bless you, may he resurrect you from this life of demonic action you have chosen. May God lift you from the bondage you’re in to the evil one.
Margie F

Kelli, thank you for allowing me to speak to Kaelei, as I said before your time or torment reminds me greatly of when Peter was imprisoned. As I’m sure you remember Kelli, Herod had James the brother of John arrested & put to death by sword. When that pleased the Jewish officials he had others including Peter rounded up & tossed in jail. Peter was to be put on “trial” then put to death after the Passover Festival happening at that time. Herod had Peter put under guard by 16 soldiers. However, the church was praying for Peter. They were beseeching God to set Peter free, to save him from this horrible and unfair event. The night before Peter’s trial & what would be the following execution an angel appeared to Peter. He instructed Peter to do five things. Things which not only apply to Peter and to us all but I believe applies specifically to you in this time.

Rise – He instructed Peter to rise as in stand up but for each of we Christians we’re instructed to rise from the old life, the slavery, the despair, the hurts, the sins and be a free & ready servant of God ready to walk where led.

Restrain – The angel next told Paul to put on his cincture (belt) which is traditionally a sign of chastity and purity. As Christians we cannot carry ongoing sins with us and follow God’s path. We also cannot carry the weight of hurts, sins of others because they too will weight us down. (I have to put that belt on several times a day!)

Ready – Peter was also told to put on his sandals. Peter couldn’t go anywhere without his shoes on because this meant he simply wasn’t “ready”. Do you remember as a child being told to “put your shoes on Kelli”? To me it was a signal my mama was taking me someplace. As Christians this instruction is for us to be ready to go wherever God leads us by putting on our “shoes” thus putting on the Gospel of Peace.

Righteous – The angel then told Peter to put on his cloak. In Scripture, we often find the cloak and the robe often equated with righteousness. For example, the book of Revelation says that it was given to the bride to be clothed in fine linen. The text goes on to say that the linen robe is the righteousness of the saints (Rev 19:8). It’s up to each of us as Christians to put on our robes of righteousness. We must choose each and every day to live righteously or we are not dressed to follow God in the journey he has planned for us.

Run – At last the angel commanded, “Follow me.” It was time to go. It was time to start the journey out of the jail to freedom. We too have been told “follow me” when Jesus told his disciples and each of us to follow him. In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul calls the journey a good fight, a race. We must get ready & then when the time is right…run!

Kelli you’ve been imprisoned. You have been imprisoned by a husband who moved you to place away from family. You were also imprisoned by Reed’s weakness & his acceptance of being manipulated by a woman of sin. When he should have run to the safety of God & his wife for protection he turned belly up in submission to sin. You’ve been imprisoned by his family who have ridiculed you for your faith, for your pursuit of the heart of God and who now celebrates the destruction of a family God made because it upholds their own un-Godly choices. You’ve been imprisoned by a woman who sought to do you harm, a woman who sought not only your husband but your honor. In all honesty what I saw from the Holy Spirit was a woman who Reed was only a means to her true desire and that is to destroy a woman she is jealous of. You are the woman Kaelei is jealous of and she seeks to destroy you. She does not love Reed in honesty but only as a tool to harm you. She is blinded & under the control of satan. You have been held captive and now the angel has come. You have been told to RISE, RESTRAIN, get READY, be RIGHTEOUS and soon you will be told to RUN. Kelli I’m so proud as a woman of the way you have faced this, fought for your family, risen from the despair & hurt, restrained yourself from carrying the anger & hate that most of us would have deemed logical. I praise God for your seeking the Gospel of Peace & putting on your “God’s word & love shoes”. You got ready by not attacking but by clinging to God. You clung to his words & teachings, kept your heart open to Reed, prayed for & spoke in kindness to Kaelei. You have also striven to cloak yourself in God’s righteousness and you are now attired for the journey.

Soon, God will show you the new path he has for you. God will open the doors for you & your children, open the doors for a new time of joy, a new job, a new adventure & journey. Soon, God will have his angel shout “RUN!” and you will run the race for him on a new road that will lead to his joy & peace.

I look forward to checking in on you and the kids & seeing the miracle of God’s restoration of joy. Kelli you will be in my daily prayers. I promise to not forget or cease in praying for you & your children. And yes I’ll be praying for Reed too.
Margie F

7.5.18

Nurse Becky - Dearest Keli ,
I was heartbroken as I read this blog post you shared from your heart. I can only recall the first moment I met you and Reed as your Obgyn Nurse. And the excitement and love I saw in both your hearts during your pregnancy. I am so shocked at this news but I knew something wasn’t right when I was seeing the pictures of just you and your beautiful children. When you and I became more than nurse and patient and stated a deep friendship all the times we shared together at church events and vintage marketing sales all you ever talked about was Family. I am so sorry you have been hurt like this and disappointed that Reed felt it was okay to break up the bond and love of his wife and children (family) you are an amazing mother , friend and sister in CHRIST my prayers are with you all during this very painful loss . I always enjoyed stopping by the Caboose and seeing you and the children and Reed too. When I left WF it was hard but looking back over the 10 years I lived there meeting you was for sure GOD ‘s plan and path that was set before me. You are right he leads us on our paths and journeys and as his good Sheppard’s we follow TRUST and OBEY he will lead us in the path of righteousness. Hold on to the love , faith and believe that his plan will surely guide you through all the pain that has been placed in your heart never do we ask for trials but we do face many as Christians but not without our Lords hand holding ours through it all and then at times he just has to carry us remember footprints in the sand. I love you my dear friend and my prayers and thoughts are always with you. Your tears are my tears too. I lost my dad a few weeks ago to cancer so the pain and loss is still so fresh I understand ! Be strong turn to GOD and friends lean on them on me I am here for you ! My cell phone number here in Saint Simons Island Ga. is. 912-222-8263. Call anytime. ❣️😇🙏

7.6.18

Mandy - Kelli,

I am heart broken to hear this……praying. I don’t have many words now…just mourning alongside you and wanting you to know that. If there is anything i can do please let me know. Thankyou for being vulnerable to share…i pray these prayers are rising like incense to God and that He would hold you and Ezra and Imogen..that He would be close to the broken hearted indeed and provide all you need. You are loved Kelli…..

7.6.18

Sarah - Best coffee shop ever. Praying for you

7.7.18

Elizabeth Halliburton - Dear Kelli,

Thank you for sharing your story, it is Holy Ground.

Elizabeth

7.11.18

Lisa - It’s unbelievable that these things happen in real life, isn’t it? The stuff of television dramas and pop culture. I’m sorry you had to experience this. Your words are incredible and portray your faith, your strength and your desire to honor God. Having been through a similar situation recently, I empathize with you and want to affirm: God does work in wonderful ways, straightening what is crooked, redeeming what is lost, revealing Himself in the oddest places. Blessings, love, hugs and continued prayer, your cousin. xoxo

7.15.18

Susan Dews - Kelli,

Thank you for sharing your broken heart. Only God truly knows & understands the hearts involved.

“In the name of our Holy God and in the blood of Jesus I pray that the chains of the enemy will be broken and this family will have changes of hearts and victory that only You can orchestrate. Bring peace, direction and clarity to Kelli and the kids. May Reed not rest until he listens the the voice of Almighty God and make life changing decisions that bring him back into the center of Gods will. I bind the negative influences in his life in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

I love you Kelli!

Caboose Kids

A question that I was asked often was how I balanced motherhood and being a shop owner.

My core value was to have a family oriented business vs a business oriented family.

My kids knew how much I loved the Red Caboose. They too loved the Caboose.

Even more than the Caboose, I love my family most. The business was something we built together. The Red Caboose was always a family venture to me……from day one.

Y’all. It was hard work. Definitely wasn’t easy…..and as the saying goes, It Takes A Tribe.

Baristas and customers loved on my kids. Ezra could certainly run for mayor….he pretty much got to know everyone in town. It took a tribe…..and my tribe showed up.

There were certain hours of the day that I wouldn’t bring the kids in with me. I respected the work and business meeting hours of our customers. However, come 3pm…..it was fair game. School was out. And the party began as the frozen yogurt flowed and the shop filled up with the young people in our community.

Ezra and Imogene eventually grew into being little helpers. Whether they filled up the sugar caddy, cleaned the windows and tables or greeted customers as they walked through the door, I was intentional about their involvement in the business. The Caboose was not a threat or competition for my love and attention. We did this together.

I loved the opportunity I had to run a family business. Raising my kids in that environment was so special….and for Ezra especially, he has been shaped for the future. His experience as a 5 year old is more than I had at his age. Ezra has no problem placing a coffee order with Stumptown, or calling the crepe shop next door for an order for pick-up. His phone/ordering skills are spot on.

Having my children see me work hard….and finish well [despite a major unforeseen hardship last year]…..was so important to me. To be loyal to the end. To be faithful with what was entrusted to me. This is what I am proud of most.

Although I am sad to see this season come to an end…….we finished well. I have no regrets. I look to the future with great expectation. The Lord blew my mind with this wonderful opportunity called the Red Caboose….and I believe with all my heart that He will do it again.

Ezra and Imogene…..will always be Caboose kids.

_________________________
A huge thank you to Jeremiah & Rachel for these photos that mean the world to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Red Caboose

It’s been said that the number 7 signifies a completion of some kind: a divine mandate has been fulfilled.

After 7 successful years of business, Red Caboose will be closing the doors this Sunday, May 20th.

The building/business was sold in 2016 so although I have known about this day for over a year, I still write this post with tears in my eyes as I have loved the Red Caboose as many of you have.

I’ll be completely honest. I didn’t want to move to Montana. I was living the dream [so I thought] in Nashville, Tennessee. I was singing/ writing/recording and learned much about photography from some of the best in the industry…..all the things that I’ve loved doing since I was little.

What changed my mind about Montana?

After my dad unexpectedly passed away, I was reminded how short our life is here on earth. I laid my career and dreams down…..& followed my husband’s lead……to Whitefish.

I had no idea what my days would hold for me here, I actually believed that I’d be working a 9-5 office job in a basement with no windows. For real. That’s what I initially envisioned would be waiting for me here.

Man, was I wrong. So wrong.

It didn’t take long for me to see that there was an obvious void in our community. This town needed a family-friendly, late night spot where people could gather, talk about life, and recharge for a new day without taking up a table at a restaurant [I waited tables for years, and I know the way to making money is turning those tables!]

From day one, the vision for the Red Caboose was to provide a warm and inviting place that offered late night hours and a change of pace. Even when our last customer came in at 8pm…..we would still close at 10pm. We never closed early. Eventually people caught on, trusted us and began to share their evenings with us, and it was so amazing to witness this happening.

The 5-year-olds are now turning 12! What an honor it has been to see the kids in our community grow up. We’ve been part of many birthday parties, anniversaries, date nights, family vacations, proms…..and it’s been a great privilege knowing that we’ve provided the space and electrical outlets for you to build your own careers and dreams!

I had no idea what to expect after I turned on the open sign on that grand opening day, other than I wasn’t sure who would come in for frozen yogurt on that cold February day. I didn’t know I’d fall in love so easily with Whitefish, our community and operating a cozy little coffee  + frozen yogurt shop. I can honestly say this adventure far exceeded my expectations in every way.

I’ve put my heart and soul into the Red Caboose and although this is an extremely bittersweet season for me, it’s time to re-direct my focus on raising my own sweet babies and tending to other creative ideas that have been put aside over the course of the past few years, yet burning in my soul. I am at peace with this season and I look to my future with great anticipation.

Thank you for opening your heart to a Nashville transplant who laid some roots down on Central Ave in Whitefish…..who went against the grain and brought in Stumptown Coffee from Portland, OR.

In the beginning, many people questioned whether frozen yogurt would make it in Montana, where we see more snowflakes than sunshine. It was never just about the frozen yogurt and I wholeheartedly believe our regulars, the ones who caught on to the bigger picture would agree.

As my team of baristas have heard me say at some point in every single staff meeting……

we are more than frozen yogurt & coffee.”

The Red Caboose was a vehicle to bring people together. It was a beautiful thing to be part of. I am forever thankful to have been entrusted with such an assignment. Life is truly enriched by service and loving well. We all have hopes, dreams, pains & joys.

I’d love to see you, hug you and hear how the Caboose has been part of your life. Feel free to shoot me a message &/or swing by this weekend. The kids and I will be around, soaking in every last bit of our time left at the shop.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thank you for supporting our family and business. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for doing life with us and loving us well.

As we navigate this season of change, please keep us all in your prayers. I truly believe the best of days are ahead of us……we’re just taking one step at a time right now.

Continue to follow along on our family adventure…..the Red Caboose Instagram & Facebook pages have always been a place where we’ve shared our lives. We’ll continue to do that! You can also follow my personal Instagram page as well…..for more day to day updates and future happenings.

Can’t wait to share what’s next……

XO,

KELLI

photo by Jeremiah & Rachel
5.16.18

Camille P - May the Lord keep and Bless you on this new journey in your life! The Red Cabiose is my favorite place to meet with a friend that is quiet and homey atmosphere to sit and chat and have a cup of coffee or tea. It will be missed!
I wish I had known your were from Nashville! We moved here 5 yrs ago from Franklin! Your spit would have been a great little music spot! My daughter and husband and dad play Americana Bluegrass in the area and it would have been perfect for them and others we know! 🙁
michelleriversmusic.com
Many blessings on your new journey!

5.17.18

Mike - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith. You finished well Keli.
Complete your journey

5.22.18

Brian F. - Can you tell us who bought the property, or what it is going to become?

6.3.18

Alex Perrier - Hey Kelli! While I’m saddened to see Red Caboose gone, I have great memories of visiting it and Montana. I wish I could’ve seen you there. I’ll second Brian in admiring the building. Are you selling the red caboose? I thought I could use the building for something special, like an arcade. Can it be taken apart and reassembled in Canada? I’m interested, as I saw locomotives in Winnipeg and Ottawa that are similar. In any event, I hope to hear back. God bless you.

IMOGENE JOY

She’s here! At long last…..I’d love to share our birth story with you! You’re about to read one of my most empowering moments I have ever experienced in my life. Here we go….xo

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We prefer to not find out the gender of our babies at the ultrasound appointment. Instead, we have the tech [Thank you Jessy!] write it out for us and seal up the envelope. We pretty much torture ourselves all day…until our dinner date that same evening. It was just the two of us…..mommy and daddy….at Latitude48, where we opened up the envelope.

ITS A GIRL!!!!!

We were thrilled. And mama cried……happy tears, of course.

Fast forward to the morning of October 21, 2016 [our due date].
Waking up with a stuffy nose was pretty common for me during both pregnancies. It wasn’t a cold, but just extra congestion, I guess. I got up to blow my nose….and felt something else dislodging down south. I knew exactly what this was, but I still “googled” it…..and sure enough it was the mucus plug [go ahead and google it yourself- its amazing what people put up on the internet]. I felt fine, but excitement grew as I knew this was the beginning of a birth story!

It was a gloomy day out and Ezra had the day off from school…..so we called it a cozy day at home, watching movies….AFTER a drive to Krispy Kreme [which has just opened up about a week prior]. I had Ezra take a photo of me before we left the house, mainly because what I was wearing out was absolutely ridiculous [and I had to send my sisters this photo via text], but it’s special as it’s the last photo taken of me pregnant!

At this point I wasn’t sure how or when things would progress so I tried to just enjoy the day just the two of us……which we did!

These were so worth the drive….

From here on out…..there’s not many photos as you’ll soon read why….

Nothing more happened all day. We just rested on the couch and watched movies. I was seriously soaking in this day- just me and Ezra.

Reed brought dinner home and it just so happened to be Taco Del Sol. This was exactly what I craved at the beginning of this pregnancy so looking back on this last meal….we came full circle. Around 9:30pm Reed decided it was time for bed. Although I wasn’t tired, it crossed my mind that I should get sleep…..this baby was definitely going to be coming soon and I should be rested!

At exactly 10:20pm I experienced my first contraction.

OH MY GOODNESS! I knew this was it.

Every mom before me would say “you just know” whenever I would ask “How do you know you’re really going into labor?” They were right! And I KNEW this was it. I immediately grabbed for my phone and opened up my Baby Center app, which had a contraction counter. I recorded this first contraction and every single one thereafter, up until I left for the hospital.

I’ll just pause here and explain Reeds role in our birth plan. He was not going to be my birth coach. He wanted to support me, but in other ways…..like refilling my cups of ice at the hospital ect….he was pretty traumatized from Eras birth, mainly because we didn’t have any support and we had NO IDEA what we were doing. This time around….the Lord provided not only two new friendships during this season in my life, but two women [Brooke & Abigail] who are passionate about birth…who would become my birth coaches.

*Side note- Abigail is a mother of 6 beautiful daughters, all birthed at home and one was delivered by the legendary Ina Mae. I was in good hands, to say the least.

I never did wake Reed up while I began to have contractions. Not only was I committed to “sticking to the plan,” but it honestly never crossed my mind. As soon as this first contraction happened……a serious focus came over me. I never even took a breathing class, but breathing instantly became my focus…the very thing that got me through every single contraction….from the beginning to the end.

I labored in our bed from 10pm until 1am [yep, Reed is still fast asleep].My contractions started getting a little more intense and closer together so I thought it would be best if I moved downstairs.

Ok, so can we talk about the time in between contractions?!? I had no idea what a relief that time is. I mean, it was a few minutes of no pain and I either caught a quick 7 minute nap or I just enjoyed the  burst of energy. INCREDIBLE! I was not expecting this at all. To go from not being able to walk or speak to feeling like I could throw on a load of laundry is still so unbelievable to me.

I labored downstairs on my own from 1am-5am. So, thats about 7 hours of laboring on my own. Sounds like quite an experience to be on your own…..but I never felt alone. I felt the presence of the Lord very near to me. There was no fear. I never felt the need to call or text people- it just felt right to embrace this part of a sacred life experience on my own.

Never once was I scared. I wasn’t ever thinking of the actual delivery part at this point either. I just focused on the present and prepared myself for the next contraction. That’s it. I also just fell into the presence of the Lord.  There was a peace surrounding my mind and about trusting my body and ultimately trusting the Lord- that His eye was on me and He would see me through this. I believed with all my heart. My prayer during my entire pregnancy was that I would have a fearless labor and delivery. My birth plan was to trust my body. I was created to have babies…..I wanted to allow myself to walk in full faith and strength….into the unknown.

I experienced pain and there were definitely moments where I thought to myself….”I can’t do this.”

Around 5am Brooke and Abigail arrived at our home. It was dark outside. There was 1 light on in the house and I had lavender essential oil diffusing in the kitchen. I remember the environment well. It was peaceful. All I could hear was my breath. When the ladies arrived…..my contractions were definitely more on the intense side and closer together. As soon as they walked in the door…..they walked quietly over to the couch and sat on each side of me. When another wave came over me…..they breathed alongside of me. Their breath matched mine and I vividly remember thinking “I CAN DO THIS” right smack in the middle of that contraction. It’s AMAZING what support does for our heart and soul.

Around 5:45am I was having contractions about every 5-7 minutes. I had become nauseous at this point and eventually threw up once or twice. Abigail suggested that I call my OBGYN and let her know that we would be headed to the hospital soon. Like I mentioned earlier- I felt like a million bucks in between contractions….so much so that my Dr questioned how far along I really could be, while we were on the phone.

She said “Kelli, you seem really calm right now.”

I said “I know! But Im calling you in between a contraction, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to speak to you.”

She told me to head on in…..

If you’re still reading this……this is where it gets good, funny and just mind-blowing!

So, I needed to grab my hospital bag which was upstairs in our bedroom. There were toiletries that I had yet to pack because I was still using them daily. So…..up the stairs I went! As I began to take steps…..I could tell things were shifting. I had a contraction half way up the stairs and again while sitting at the foot of our bed. And in case you were wondering…..yes, Reed is still asleep. I remember thinking how peaceful this process has been as I was sitting on the bed and both Reed and now Ezra were fast asleep as I was breathing through very intense contractions.

I grabbed my things…..and began to head downstairs. Once again….not just one, but two contractions as I walked down the stairs. I barely made it to the leather chair in our living room….I needed to sit down and as soon as my contraction hit…..I not only need to thrown up, but I had to go to bathroom. Sure enough……I ran to the bathroom and peed all the way there! WHAT WAS MY BODY DOING?!? I felt so out of control, yet in control. It was strange. As I was kneeling over the toilet, Abigail offered to bring me a new pair of sweatpants before heading to the hospital. She asked if Reed would know where to find what I needed…..and I laughed. I wasn’t sure, but there was no way I could walk back up those stairs. I trusted that Reed would figure something out.

When Abigail returned….not only did she have the tiniest pair of Forever21 leggings in her hand, but she had THONG UNDERWEAR!!! ARE YOU JOKING ME, REED?!?! WHAT IN THE WORLD?!?!?! I definitely wasn’t laughing in the moment [although I have laughed for hours about it now], but my focus was so laser sharp there was no time for shenanigans. I picked myself up off the floor and bee-lined it back up the stairs and changed my clothes.

Although it seems crazy that I walked back up the stairs….Im so happy that I did. By this time, Reed had hopped in the shower and Ezra was awake. I stopped to hug and kiss my baby boy. I told him I was heading to the hospital and that I would see him there and that baby sister was coming. I still remember seeing him on the bed. He was my 4 year old. My baby. He still looked small to me. Having that one last look at him and moment with him…..just him and I….was super special.

Once again….contraction after contraction as I was heading up and down those stairs!

We got in the car and headed straight to the hospital. Brooke and Abigail were prepared! They had a towel folded in the front seat, along with a trash can! I probably had 3-4 contractions on the way to hospital, which is only about a 7 minute drive from our house. We were all just breathing together.

We parked. I got out…and walked quickly inside. I sat down on the bench in-between the two glass entry doors and breathed through another contraction. I walked up to the birthing center registration desk and experience what felt like a scene from Zootopia, you know….the Sloths! Oh my gosh!

I had 2 more contractions at the registration desk [almost threw up in the waiting room]……and another while walking down the hall towards the nurses desk.

These next moments here…..could have changed the course of my entire experience.

I looked up at the group of nurses standing at their station and I wondered who would be assigned to me.

“Lord, please appoint the perfect nurse for me” is what I prayed.

When the older nurse with the two braids and glasses walked towards me…..I knew immediately that she was the one. It was confirmed when another wave came over me and instead of raising her voice for help……she took a few steps towards us and smiled. I knew she knew what we were about. As Brooke and Abigail held me up and were breathing alongside of me…..this nurse [much love to you Jill] began to do the same and when it passed she said in the kindest voice “your baby is coming.”

We walked into my birthing room and as soon as I sat on the end of the bed…..another wave came over me, but this time I had the urge to push!!!!!

WHAT????

I still had no idea what this meant. As I said out loud that I had to push….I was pushing. I honestly wasn’t sure what was happening or how close I was to delivering my baby. Deep down inside I really believed my nurse was going to tell me that I was dilated to a 5. Never EVER did I think I’d walk into the hospital and be ready to deliver my baby within minutes! She asked if I had a healthy pregnancy…..as there was no time for IV’s to be placed. She asked about my birth plan and Abigail spoke on my behalf and answered “As natural as possible.”

When I heard those words come out of Abigails mouth I got a little nervous. I mean, would I REALLY be able to pull off a natural birth? I was definitely going to give it 100%, but I wasn’t fully sure of myself. This here is the reason us women need other women in our lives, especially during a time as this. They believed in me….more than I was believing in myself.

Well, I still had my pants on! And my sweet nurse just said “Well, if you’re pushing…we gotta get those pants off!” Once again, my nurse was so calm….and was just the most perfect addition to my birth team.

I pushed twice before my Dr even arrived. She was clearly shocked to see that I had progressed this far along- on my own- in the comfort of my own home. There was no time for talking at this point…..my baby girl was on her way!

I just have to say….even at this stage of labor…there was still a peace over me. I felt so calm and collected. I was very aware of my surroundings and what I needed to do.

As I pushed again…..I quickly glanced around the room and thought to myself “Reed isn’t here!”  I wondered if I could stop the process- just suck up the baby for a moment. NOPE! Not happening. I had to re-focus myself and stick to the plan. I was breathing deeply at this point, I actually needed to change my breath to short pants of breath. Our babies heart rate was beginning to drop so I really needed these final pushes to bring her earthside.

I started to question myself- thoughts were quickly coming and going….one of them being if I could just not push anymore and buy some time….or just hang out a bit. Obviously not an option. For a moment….I felt in between two worlds and a mountain in front me as I was faced with a choice. No one could do this for me. I had the best of help on both sides of me….even my Dr, who I was locked eyes with. I spoke to myself….”You can this, Kelli.”

Next, a low groan accompanied my final pushes. I had never heard this sound come out of me before. Once again, Brooke and Abigail were on each side of me…..matching my every breath and groan. I remember Abigail calling it the birthing groan. They were so in this with me….I was not on my own.

Im not sure how many more times I pushed, but what I do know is that I checked into the hospital 6:55am, my Dr broke my water at 7:14am and our sweet baby girl was born at 7:48am.

The first words out of my Dr’s mouth were “you have a red head!”

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My Dr was handing her to me in mid air when in come walking Reed and Ezra! They were RIGHT ON TIME! It could not have been better timing and I love that Ezra was there too! The three of us were looking at the 4th member of our family, together. That moment is a forever one. So special.

She was 8.06 pounds and 19 1/2 inches long…..and perfectly healthy! Praise God!

The story behind her name // IMOGENE JOY
We have this thing…we want to see our baby before giving an official name. For 7 straight months the name on the top of our list was Esther. One week before she was born….I was talking with a friend that inspired the name IMOGENE. Reed had suggested a few times that my middle name [Jean] be part of our daughters name. My moms middle name was Jean and my grandmothers first name was Jean. So, although its not spelled the same…we refreshed it and made this into a family name. As soon as we saw her face and her wild ginger-y hair……we both looked at each other and agreed that IMOGENE was the perfect name for her. JOY was a word spoken over me during my pregnancy [thank you Cameron, Heather & Vanessa] so it seemed fitting to include this promise in her name.

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For hours and days following….I was constantly reminiscing about my birth story. It was special to have Brooke and Abigail there to recount all the sweet details….as well as make phone calls telling my friends and family about what I had just done.

I HAD A NATURAL BIRTH!!!!!!!

If you know me at all, you know how HUGE this is for me. There was a time when I thought about not having children, mainly because I didn’t want to face the pain of childbirth….or spending time in a hospital.

My birth experience is my experience. It doesn’t make me better than anyone or my story more powerful than another birth story. The fact that us women grow a baby in our bodies for 9 months and deliver them earthside, regardless of how it is done…..is a miracle! This birth has empowered me personally. What I set out to do and put my mind to…..has been a beautiful testimony to me that I [we] are capable of more than we think we are. And that God is a God of love and redemption. I needed this. This story is mine and was beautifully designed for me….for such a time as this.

Im proud of myself. Im proud to have faced years and years of fear. Im proud to have faced the unknown. Im proud to have pursued support for this pregnancy, labor and delivery. Imogene’s birth story is drastically different than Ezras…..I learned a lot from my first go around and I knew I wanted something different. More than that….I needed to experience something different and the Lord provided every step of the way. As my sweet nurse Jill said…..I wouldn’t have had this birth story without Ezras birth story. I love how life is so intertwined and God always works all things together for good.

I would have a million more babies the way Imogene was born.

Ezra is praying for another baby…..mainly because he misses my belly.

For now….we are enjoying and adjusting to being a family of four.

Thank you Jesus for this gift of LIFE. We so needed this.

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12.31.16

Christine Owen - I bawled my eyes out reading this list. Thank you Jesus for this special gift of Imogene and for Kelli’s beautiful birth story. God you are so good!

12.31.16

Amy - I absolutely loved reading this!!!! So proud of you and very thankful God provided you w/ such a great experience. What a beautiful baby girl and family!!
Miss you friend.
❤️ Amy

1.1.17

Brittany Zadra - What a beautiful birthing story and great job Kelly💞💞 God bless your family of four❤️

Ezra’s First Field Trip!

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Last week was an exciting one. Not only did Ezra go on his first field trip, but he got to ride “THE BUS!!!!”

Ezra has always been obsessed with school busses….and to this day, still sings and watches “The Wheels On The Bus.” Its a thing….and I love it! I know that before long, I won’t be hearing him sing songs like this anymore. He’ll move on….

His Pre-K class went to the adorable Sweet Pickin’s Pumpkin Patch. What made it even more special is that Reed and I both got to go too! Not very many dads get to take time off of work for things like this…..so we were super thankful to spend the morning with daddy.

It’s been fun seeing Ezra interact with his classmates, while making his own little friendships. Theres 8 kids in his class….and they are adorable.

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