Category Archives: Family Life

Happy Birthday, Sister

Today is my sisters birthday. Unfortunately, I don’t get to call her and hear her voice on the line…but to know that she is in Heaven and that her life did not end on this earth- gives me hope. Melissa would be 34 years old today.

I’ve blogged about this every year since the day I received that dreaded call in 2010. You can get the full story by clicking here, here and here.

It’s scary to even think about the future [here on earth] when you lose someone dear to your heart. I remember thinking it would be impossible to move on with my life….going back to business as usual…after driving away from her Celebration Service in Boise, ID on that cold November morning.

Life does move on, and quickly! Melissa never got to visit us here in Montana, but I did run across an old email where I sent her photos of the house we had just purchased. As always, she was so excited for us and replied with an encouraging word. Never did I expect that to be the last email I would receive from her. Melissa took her last breath on November 14th and being that it was just a few weeks before Christmas…she had purchased an airline ticket to spend Christmas with us that year. She never got on that plane….and I still have her Christmas gift- a monogrammed “M” Anthropologie candle that I never had the opportunity to give to her that Christmas.

Life looks so different in just 3 short years. We have a business thats up and running, we are living life some with pretty amazing friends from our church [which she would have LOVED and would have been the best kids ministry volunteer] and the part that still stings is our son, who she never got to meet. Melissa loved kids….and I had always looked forward to the day when she would become an aunt to our babies.

One of my favorite teachings from church last year was Microphone. You will thank me if you actually click on this link and listen to the podcasts. In particular, Pain Is A Microphone. To be able to look at our Pain as a platform for the Lord to use…pain opens doors that would otherwise remain locked. Pain gives us opportunity and influence [its true!]. Its amazing how pain really connects our hearts to others….and God gives us unique opportunities to shine. So, do you see the importance of focusing on what God wants to do through us in seasons of pain?! This doesn’t mean that we don’t grieve through the process. Those who sow in tears will reap in joy! Amen!

Thankfully, this isn’t the end of her story….or that our time on this earth together be the last time that I would see my sister again. I love that our pastor reminds us often that “Jesus isn’t just preparing a place for us, but He’s preparing us for that place.” He prepares us for that place through our pain….there is always purpose in our pain….nothing is wasted.

Habakuk 3:17-18 Whatever happens in the in between…I will rejoice. Even though….I WILL! Joy is not attached to our circumstance. And this here is exactly how Melissa lived her life. Looking at her life through the lens of this world, she had every reason to be disappointed and to shake her fist at God, but she did not. She chose joy….with every breath that was given to her, until the Lord called her Home with Him.

As we know, our life on this earth is quick. Do you know where you will spend Eternity? This is a decision only you can make for yourself and it’s not about being religious or attending church, but a relationship with Christ. Heaven is for real and so is Hell. He made the way, but we have the choice. Click here to learn more about how you can know for sure that after you take your last breath on this earth [it will happen to us all] that you will be spending eternal life with One who created you.


My Arrow

Arrows. Its much more than a pointer or trendy directional symbol to me. From the moment we found out that a baby was on the way…the Lord hushed my anxious mind and reminded me of what His word says about children.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. -Psalms 127:4

The hidden focus of this verse is not about children, but about the archer. As parents, we are the archer’s….and it is the archer’s job to shoot the arrow toward its target. Parents are like the archer as they direct their children towards Jesus, their gifts and callings.

I took an archery lesson at a summer camp many years ago. It was hot. I was sweating…and pulling the bow back in order to release the arrow was NOT easy. At all. It was a lot of hard work…and I remember the activity instructor saying that it’s all about “repetitive consistency and accuracy.” Little did I know that I would be tying this message into my life and blogging about it!

We are in a new series at church called Microphone. It’s pretty much rocking my world right now. I’m very familiar with words such as “platform” and “influence,” [as these words get thrown around in social media circles], but it’s been so great to be reminded of what the Bible says about this. Pastor Levi has covered topics such as pain, purity & family…as platforms of influence. [It’s not just about Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!]. I don’t want to throw social media under the bus here, but those who desire to build an audience and readership- we know it takes the investment of time to build that. How much more nurturing do our children deserve? This past weekend was titled ” The Family Is A Microphone.” If you can set aside some time to listen to the series– I highly recommend it.

To all the moms reading this….look no further than your home as you seek to have a greater platform and influence. There’s not a sweeter place to invest your efforts than your home. Do this with joy! This is my anthem this year.

Last weekends message at church really hit home to me. There is no greater responsibility than raising children. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. What we do, as mothers…matters. As long as there is breath in our lungs….our job is never “done.” I often hear parents refer to their job being done once their kids turn eighteen and/or leave the nest. I beg to differ. What our kids need from us as newborns, 10 year olds, 18 year olds, 35 year olds and 50 year olds…will differ as seasons change, but the bottom line is that we will always have influence as we steward this responsibility well.

Ezra is a little warrior that we are raising up…we pray daily that he comes to know and love Jesus with all his heart and mind. To live a life committed to the Word of God. Reed and I have made mistakes in the past….and have discussed in great detail how we would like to raise Ezra up in a different way than how we were raised. We are not bashing our parents or our upbringing, but we do desire to parent and lead by a new standard. We believe it’s powerful and productive for each generation to be stronger than the last….and we want to pass on a rich legacy to Ezra.

Children watch our every move and pay close attention to the words we speak. It’s not helpful to look at babies as merely babies. Ezra is 13 months old today and he is already mimicking little things that I do. Arrows in the hands of warriors- this is a really big deal. We are in training- a life-long boot camp.

So my arrow….yes, permanently placed on my arm….not only a reminder of my son, but my calling in life. A mother- a leader- an example- a parenting partnership with Reed- the main focus in life being the end target. I don’t take this lightly and I can’t afford to either.

“The Bible describes children as arrows in the hand of a warrior. They are weapons to be launched out as bright lights in a dark world. As parents we are archers and our job is to do all we can to help them hit the target.” -pastor Levi Lusko [read his full blog post here]

Be Encouraged! Lead Well! Start today!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Sister

Today would be my little sisters 33rd birthday here on this earth, but instead she’s in Heaven….at the best party ever!

I honor and remember the life of my dad and Melissa differently. The anniversary of my dad leaving this earth for Heaven is the day that I blog about him- June 15th. For Melissa…she left this earth on November 14th, 2010 but it’s on her birthday each year- January 31st- that I choose to honor her here on my blog.

My sister was sick for the majority of her life, therefore she had an understanding of life that most of us don’t- the preciousness of it- the frailty of it- the quickness of it. Everyday was gift…and she knew it.

Birthdays were a really big deal for her. She told me a few years ago that she would cry herself to sleep every year on her birthday. My heart hurt when I heard these words coming from her mouth….and I began to tell her that I thought this was a bad idea and not a very positive way of looking at life. Little did I know….my little sister was teaching me something so very valuable….something that I actually think more about these days.

Melissa was a fighter and a lover of life. She didn’t waste her days, especially if she felt strong enough to get out of the house that day. She got up- got ready-and spent most of her time volunteering in the church nursery…oh how she loved kids.

I prayed for her healing. I asked boldly. I asked many of you to pray for healing. Although Melissa’s healing didn’t happen in the way I was thinking it could- here on this earth- she did, however, get the ultimate healing the moment she took her last breath. I believe with all my heart that to be absent from the body- is to be present with the Lord. She is with Him….and my dad…today.

Many of you may be dealing with circumstances outside of your control and I am right there with you. I get it. What I do posses is a HOPE & PEACE as I continue walk through this loss of mine. I recently lost a sweet little friend of mine just days before Christmas this year- miss Lenya Lusko– and even still….Christ is the anchor of my soul.

Although it was hard to walk through another loss so close to me- I was just reminded all over again of such powerful truths. Pastor Greg Laurie spoke to our church and these were a few of my favorite quotes from him::

An early death….is an early crown.”

Maybe we should call life on earth the ‘before life’ instead of calling Heaven the afterlife. Heaven is LIFE.”

A few years ago, I came across this quote from Louie Giglio and it has healed my heart on so many sad days.

“Sure God can change the circumstance- and we pray that He would- and sometimes He does, but the Cross is proof that He doesn’t always change the circumstance. But it is proof that He always has a purpose in every circumstance.” -Louie Giglio

Life here on this earth isn’t perfect. We’ve always been told “Choose your battles” but some battles choose us.
Will your Faith remain in tact in the midst of trials and struggles? Or will we blame Him?

Out of our pain, new places for Christs comfort have been born. Out of our cries to Him, new answers are born.

As I reflect on life today…..I am praying for each of you. If you do not know God….in honor of Melissa, my dad and little Lenya I must end this post with an opportunity for you to meet the only Anchor that can sustain us in our times of grief. Click HERE.


Sweet sister, I miss you with all of my heart. I think of you daily. Even though I want you back- I know you want me with you even more…..and that drenches my heart with Peace….knowing that you are with Christ and He is with you. I love you…. XOXO

Dear Dad .

Today marks the two year anniversary of my dads departing of this world and entering into the presence of Heaven. On July 15, 2010 I received a phone call that brought me to my knees. There are days when it all seems like forever ago…and others that feel like it was yesterday, literally.

[If you’re new to this blog- you can start here and here to be caught up on my dad blogs]

That call….forever rocked my world and somehow in the midst of it all….there is a peace, a confidence, a very clear message, a deep blessing, a game changer- that has gripped my heart tightly and changed my perspective and the way I view my life and purpose on this earth.

I miss talking with my dad. We never needed a reason to call each other- just a “HEY! What are you doing?” would start off the perfect conversation. We had such an awesome relationship….it was open, honest and real. He loved me through my teenage years, while I wasn’t making the best decisions in life and was always there to encourage me through the seasons that required more Faith and risking it all. He was there for me- always.

As I prepare to become a mother…I can’t help but think about what it would be like to have my dad here by my side. [He would really have a reason to call me KELLI BELLY!!!] He would have been the BEST grandpa ever! I mean, who wouldn’t love sitting on the hood of the car to watch airplanes land and take off, while eating snow cones? I loved this as a kid! My dad treasured QUALITY TIME….and that’s my desire as I raise this baby of our own.

As I went through boxes of things that my dad had saved over the years….I ran across this college assignment from a Freshman Communication class at Azusa Pacific University. WOW! I couldn’t believe he saved this piece of paper. But then again….I’m beginning to understand it. This paper was a reflection of what his daughter thought of him- the way she viewed the job he did as her earthly father. It also resembles the heart of our Heavenly Father….and if I am lucky enough to receive a letter such as this one day, I would keep it close to my heart as well. My dad valued being a DAD…..I recognized this years ago, and as I prepare to be a mom for the first time….I know he would be encouraging me to value this season [and great responsibility] as well.

The last line of the letter kills me, but it’s the reality of life. Life is short….live purposefully, choose JOY, live for the King and value each season you are in.

Dad, I love you. I miss you more than I could ever express on this blog of mine. There is so much more that I could learn from you. I wish more than anything that you could be here to meet your grandson in just a few weeks. However, your legacy is one that he will know of and for that I am thankful. Until I see you again….xoxo

the Boling family.

It’s no secret how much I adore this family.

Greg is the reason I picked up my photography wings and began to fly. Brooke is a creative buddy and dear friend of mine. She is absolutely gorgeous, an amazing wife to Greg and the sweetest momma to her adorable little girl, Parker.

Although there are miles and miles between us, we have been intentional about connecting often and for that I am so thankful. I really believe that it’s important to have creative buddies….people you can be open and honest with and most importantly, someone who will be HONEST with you about your wild [and maybe not so hot] ideas!

Brooke and I recently shot a wedding together in Spokane, WA which was also featured on Style Me Pretty! Collaborating with her is definitely one my favorite things to do.

During my most recent trip to Nashville in October, I had the opportunity to photograph the Boling family. We had such a fun time wondering around a part of town that I miss the most- Downtown Franklin.

I miss and love you guys….xoxo