Monday, November 29, 2010

Only 1 More Day...

to order t-shirts and help support our adoption fund! Thanks to everyone who has already purchased a t-shirt. We raised about $200 to go towards adoption fees!!! That is huge, and we stand grateful for all of your love! We're getting closer to bringing our baby girl home!

Visit and help change the life of one forever!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...

Once upon a time, a young girl pictured her future Thanksgivings as a picture straight out of a Norman Rockwell picture. Her guests would come bundled up in their winter's best, walk up to her immaculate white house with the enormous wrap around porch spectacularly decorated for Christmas. Her debonair husband would answer the door and the smells of Thanksgiving would envelop the arriving family members. The young wife and mother would be dressed to the nines with her coordinating apron tied around her dainty waste and her high heels quietly tapping on the hardwood floors. She would welcome each guest with a gracious hug and warm smile. Her children would be playing quietly. Her daughter, in her freshly pressed dress and silky, smooth hair, would be playing house with her porcelain baby doll. Her sons, dressed in trousers, would be perusing the new Christmas gadgets in the JCPenny Catalog while watching the Macy's Day parade, and everything would be set as if carefully placed by an artist.

The turkey would be done and everyone would gather around the enormous banquet table covered in fine linens and candles. Every place setting matched and the plates would be so white they would glisten. Each person would have a salad fork AND a dinner fork, and we would use them in order of courses. In the center of the table would be a platter decorated with parsley and stuffing and on top a perfectly golden turkey shimmering in the candlelight. Her dashing husband would smile and say grace, while the young mother stood at his side beaming with pride. After the entire table murmurs "Amen", the husband takes his large knife (which would make the sound of sword leaving its sheath) and cuts the first slice of juicy, white meat...

This was my dream. My dream of how it would inevitably be, when my day came to be a wife and mother and host the Thanksgiving meal. From the moment I woke up Thanksgiving morning 2010, my Norman Rockwell picture slowly faded into a Thanksgiving rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond.

It had nearly been 24 hours since the preparations had begun for the enormous feast, and I was still wearing my ratty, purple sweatpants, a soccer t-shirt, and comfy Ugg boots from the previous day. I stood in the kitchen mopping the floor, cleaning the sink, checking the turkey, making the rolls...and sweating. I wiped my brow just as the smell of potatos boiling over filled the kitchen...

And I was thankful.

I'm thankful because wearing sweatpants and fuzzy boots mean I have clothes on my back. It means that my feet will be warm, and I will not shiver in the cold. My hot flashes and bouts of sweat mean I have a warm place to call my home; a shelter over my head to protect me from the ice and wind and rain. I'm thankful that the truly awful smell of water boiling over on the burner means I have food to fill my belly, and I will not go a day without food.

Sure, my kids weren't playing with porcelain dolls or quietly looking through store catalogs. But they were watching the Macy's Day Parade. Sort of. I at least turned it on. It was mostly just background noise to their screaming and fighting. Bored out of their minds on just the first day of Thanksgiving vacation, but they liked to fill the time with hitting, crying, and more hitting. Somehow, my two-year-old got confused about what Thanksgiving was all about, and as I was about to take the turkey out of the oven, he walks up to me with an open purse and says, "Trick or Treat!"

And I laughed and was thankful.

Because although my children, still dressed in their pajamas and unbrushed teeth, were nearly killing each other, I had no real fear for their lives. And though the Macy's Day parade held their attention about as well as a documentary on tooth decay would, and I was handing out candy to "trick-or-treaters", I was thankful that they could scream and cry and laugh. I am thankful that I have three amazing, beautiful, smart, talented children that are healthy. I am thankful that I have three children who can start each day fresh, with no pain. I am thankful that each night I will get three kisses, I will pray three different prayers, and I will sing three different lullabies to my little angels that I get to hold in my arms.

Finally, at 2:00 I finished all the food and cleaning that I could possibly do before it was time to get cleaned up. 24 hours of cooking and cleaning does not look good on a person, and I was in desperate need to get mashed potato and turkey grease out of my hair. The smells of Pine-Sol and Bleach mixed with flour and butter needed to be scrubbed off of my dried hands. And a little make-up and hairspray desperately needed to hide the dark circles under my eyes and bedhead that still lingered. So, Nick packed up the kids and headed over. By 3:00, I was presentable and rushed over for the Kellerstrass Thanksgiving Dinner. We ate at 3:30 and I rushed back home at 4:00 to get ready for the next Thanksgiving feast. Nick stayed with the kids, andI walked into the house alone, again, and sat on the chair and sighed a big sigh.

And I was thankful.

I was thankful that although I came home alone, I wasn't really alone. I had a huge extended family that love me. And even though I only could be there for an hour, my in-laws support me. They encourage me. They only want the happiness for me and my family. I have the best mother and father-in-law that see me really as their own daughter. I have four amazing sister-in-laws, whom I call my sisters and my best friends. And my, they're alright. I'm just kidding. No, I'm thankful because I've watched my brother-in-laws grow up from young boys to grown men, and they are the sweetest, most sincere men I've ever met. I am not alone, I am covered in love even when I'm not present.

After feeding all the Carroll kids (and the set-up was pathetic compared to my previous expectations). The dinners were served, the plates were cleaned and it was time to load up the kids. I hadn't sat down for one minute the entire day and now it was time to make the 30 minute trip to the hospital. The music blared and the Christmas tunes had already begun on the radio stations. I looked at Nick and rolled my eyes. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Christmas and Christ's birth, but the most wonderful season of all also brings the LONGEST stretch of repetitive Christmas songs EVER!!! After one day of Christmas music, I'm done.

But I was thankful.

I am thankful because I have the ability to travel from here to there. I am thankful because my husband has a job so we can afford a car and gas. I am thankful because at the end of this journey was the hospital. I'm thankful that God has given gifts and wisdom to lowly humans to save lives. I'm grateful that because of the caring nurses and doctors at the hospital, I get to celebrate another holiday with my mom. I'm thankful that despite having to wear gowns and masks just to see her, my entire family gets to spend an hour of time celebrating what we are thankful for...another year together.

The day was finally done. We drove home, put the kids to bed, and sunk onto the couch. I looked at Nick with glazed eyes of sheer exhaustion, and he came over and hugged me. I just sat there lifeless letting him take care of me because I just needed a hug and because I had no strength to move anyway.

And I was thankful.

I am thankful because although my "debonair" husband was not wearing clean khakis with a freshly pressed button shirt under an autumn color cardigan or laughing a hearty laugh while smoking a pipe, I know I am married to the most charming man ever. I know that he will not always be the most polished guy, but I know I will always be treated well and protected. I am thankful that he may not the most romantic man ever, but I know I am loved.

This Thanksgiving was not picture perfect by any means, but as I sit back and reflect on the day of madness, I realized I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for this blog and for the freedom of speech that I can share with you my passion for my God and for orphans. I am thankful for the handful of people that read this and pray for our struggles and lift praises when we rejoice. I am thankful for the people God has brought into our lives who have supported and encouraged us along this journey called life. I am thankful for Jesus who came to save me, a mess of a person, so that I don't have to stand on my own two feet in front of God and hope I was good enough.

And I am thankful for this body. Though weak and frail and easily broken, I am strong enough to make it through the day...with a enough energy to go shopping at 2:00 a.m.!

Are you thankful this Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Erin (and Nick and kids)

One final I was setting the table for our Thanksgiving dinner, I opened the silverware drawer and gasped. There would not be one single place setting that matched...

And I smiled in spite of myself.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Making Boys Into Gentlemen

God has blessed me with two incredibly handsome boys (and a gorgeous little girl, but my rant about her will wait for another day). Two boys who bring joy to my face everyday and laughter about every two minutes. Two boys who are two complete different species that sometimes have me scratching my head.

I grew up with all sisters. By the time my brother came around and could finally walk and talk and have a personality, I was already out of the house. So most of what I know about children comes from my experience with girls.

Girls hit. Girls sob. Girls bat their eyelashes and wrinkle up their noses when they want something...girls are drama for the sake of drama.

I'm well versed in this. So well versed, in fact, that I told God that when I had children I only wanted one girl and the rest all boys. He could give me twenty boys and I would the happiest mother around, as long as I only had ONE girl.

I need a girl to spoil. Every woman needs her princess. A real life doll that I can dress up any way I wish. I would do her hair perfectly everyday, we would share girl nights, make up, and shoes. I need a girl. But only one.

So to my great delight, my first child was a boy! For one, it took off all the pressure that the family name would for sure be passed along. Phew... But second, things were starting off pretty well because it wasn't a girl and I knew I could at least have one more child without that fear of TWO girls!!!

Owen and I had two full years together of just us. I wasn't working at all, and he and I became the best of friends. I think this is where his sensitivity got mixed in a little bit with the "all boy" that a lot of boys are. Owen loves to wrestle, get dirty, be loud, do things without know all things that boys (and men alike) are good at.

But Owen can also sit down and be still. He can be quiet. He's sensitive. He can read books, draw and write, and he is very compassionate. I like to think that it's from our time alone when I was able to instill these values that he became such a sweet boy. (Ha!)

But something has happened. Owen is changing. Suddenly a burp or "toot" is the funniest thing in the world! Making armpit noises makes him an instant comedian. One minute he will be playing as nice as can be with Amra, and the next he's taking her out with one swift pull of a blanket that she just happened to be standing on.

My sensitive boy is becoming a BEAST!!!

Wrigley came out of the womb "all boy". The kid has sat on the couch and watched ball games with his dad since he was an infant. He didn't just start walking, he was running. He needs a ball to throw, kick, catch, etc. He never had the advantage of alone time with a nurturing mother. He has no interest in books and the only thing he likes about coloring is getting as much marker on his hands and arms as he can. His direct example is Owen and at two years old he is constantly chasing "bad guys" through the house with any handmade or toy gun he can get his hands on.

Wrigley, of course, also thinks Owen's burping and flatulance is the highlight of the dinner table, and if Owen is beating Amra, Wrigley is right there with him.

Sigh...boys are not quite what I envisioned.

But you know what? They are an absolute joy in my home. They make me laugh and they put on the best shows ever! Not a day goes by that I'm not so grateful for my little men.

And they still show glimmers of hope that one day they will become gentlemen.

Owen was right beside me the other day while I got my eyebrows waxed. He saw that it hurt, and he instantly held his hand out and told me to squeeze it. And then when it was done, he gave me a hug and said, "I'm sorry that hurt mom."

And Wrigley is all love. He always has a kiss or hug for me, and with his arms up he says, "'Old me mom".

Boys will be boys, but my prayer is that someday they will be "gentle"men.

Monday, November 15, 2010

God Gave Me You...

I came across this song recently and it just washed over me like the warmth of a down blanket. I am so thankful for the husband God gave me. You know, the statistics are pretty low that a girl would find "the man of her dreams" in high school and it stay that way. It's so cliche, but I really did marry my best friend! I found quite a gem, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank my God for him over and over!

We've done a lot of growing up together...literally. We met our sophomore year in high school and immediately clicked. Of course our first few months as friends was mostly me chasing after his friends, but he was always there. We would talk on the phone for HOURS. Laughing...endlessly. Nick is the funniest guy, I know. Back then I just thought everything he did was of course I don't have the humor I used to and sometimes I just roll my eyes, but I still think he's a comedian!

The last year has been really hard for both of us. Personally and professionally, we've both had our own struggles to deal with but one thing that has remained strong is our love and devotion to each other. We've grown up even more. I'm always surprised by the strength and faith this man has. He is my rock here on earth.

The last two weeks have been a blur to me, although I feel like I'm moving in slow motion, but he is never rude or harsh or impatient with me. He holds me when I cry, lets me vent without a hard word, and is always ready with a scripture when I'm at a loss of words or faith. I love him...

This summer we watched the movie Fireproof for the first time. Now, Nick and I are big movie buffs and we struggled to not just turn this movie off. A lot of people had recommended it to us, and we just kept looking at each other in complete shock that anyone could possibly enjoy this movie. The acting was...well, painful to watch. I prefer the more A-List talent of Robert Pattinson in Twilight, Miley Cyrus in The Last Song, or even Jack Black when he guest starred in Yo Gabba Gabba, so the lackluster performance or Kirk Cameron nearly brought tears to my eyes. However, we did not turn the movie off, we kept watching...and I'm so glad we did. There is one part in the movie where Kirk Cameron decides to relentlessly beat his computer monitor when pornography was coming in-between his marriage. In the computer's place, he left a vase with roses and a note that said,

"I love YOU more."

And that's when the movie won me over. Isn't that what marriage is all about? Choosing your spouse over any other thing in this world? Nick and my marriage are not by any means perfect. We struggle with temptation, we fight...we're human. But there have been times when we literally had to decide if we loved each other more than the struggle.

It was a major turning point in my thought process. I pretty much bawled the rest of that horrible movie, but it was because it was good. The point was there. And every time I feel the temptation to do something that might hurt Nick, I remember to choose. It's a choice.

Thank you Nick for being my rock. For patiently watch me struggle through the pain. And always having your arms open. You are amazing and a gift straight from God to me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Isn't technology amazing?

Ok, so I know I'm a few years behind in the video chatting, instant messaging world, but honestly I've never needed it. I knew it existed and I even have a webcam sitting neatly in its original box, unopened. It was given as a gift, and I thought it was a really cool idea, but when you see everyone that you need to talk to at least once a week, the webcam just wasn't really a necessity.

Until now.

So today was supposed to be the day I got to take my kids to the hospital to see my mom for the last time in at least a month. Kids are not allowed on the cancer floor of the hospital because they carry so many germs and many people on the floor have little to no immunity due to chemo. They were making an exception for my mom since she will be starting chemo tomorrow and will not be able to see Owen, Amra, and Wrigley during the treatments.

Needless to say its been an emotional weekend for me thinking of taking my kids up to say good-bye for awhile.

And then Wrigley woke up with a runny nose.

Nothing terrible, not a cough or "yellow snot" just a clear, runny nose. But I noticed. And I also remembered that no one with any sign of illness is allowed in my mom's room.

My heart broke. I cried. My kids can't go up to see their grandma.

It's been a gut wrenching weekend for me, crying out to God, and this just topped the cake.

But then we decided to enter the world of webcams, video chats, and Skype. Oh wonderful, wonderful Skype!!!

My dad just bought my mom a laptop so she can stay connected with the "outside world" while getting her chemo treatments. She is now able to check her e-mail and the encouraging messages on the CaringBridge site. So we set up Skype on her computer and we "called" her today.

The kids thought it was the greatest thing EVER. Of course most of the time was spent with Owen and Amra making faces and fighting over seeing themselves. There were several instances of the kids covering the camera because this is all SUPER fun, right? Wrigley had no clue what was going on and refused to sit on my lap and talk to "grandma on the t.v." Ugh, I was so annoyed. "Sit still kids and talk to your grandma!" But she didn't mind. She enjoys the chaos and fighting, she just sat there and watched and blew kisses and waved. It was wonderful.

So now Skype is our new best friend. He won me over in all of two seconds when my mom's face came on the screen and the kids were vying for her attention.

We can do this. We can make this work.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A beautiful message...

If you haven't had the chance, please stop by my mom's Caringbridge site: My dad has a beautiful message about my mom and it has me in tears. It's going to be an extremely rough road ahead, but God's hand is on her. I truly believe that His way is best. I don't necessarily feel like it's fair or am able to see the good right now, but He knows what He is doing, and I can find comfort in that. Thanks for everyone's prayers and encouragement.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Buy a Shirt and Change a Life Forever

I just wanted to remind everyone to come out tomorrow night, November 6th at Grace Church in Morton at 6:30 p.m. for the United 4 Orphans Orphan Awareness Event. It is going to be an awesome evening of worship and prayer for the orphan crisis locally and around the world. There will also be an opportunity for you to support an Orphan project in Ziway, Ethiopia. It should be an awesome night of powerful speakers, amazing music and delicious desserts and coffee!

Some of you may not know but November is Adoption Awareness Month. This Sunday, November 7th is Orphan Sunday. Let us remember to take a moment to pray for those who are without a home and a family.

I know not all of us are called to adoption. I know I'm not called to be a pastor's wife, or a nurse, or sit in an office, but it doesn't mean you don't have a purpose. The Bible specifically calls us to action to help those who are unable to defend themselves. Many times the scriptures call us to help the fatherless and the widowed.

That doesn't necessarily mean adoption. For us, it does.

So how can you help change the life of one person forever? We have been given an awesome opportunity to kick start our adoption into high gear. For the entire month of November, if you purchase a t-shirt at for $24.90 (includes shipping and handling), $10.00 of all of the purchases will go towards our adoption fees! The shirts are really cool, and who doesn't need another t-shirt? Go to the website and scroll down, the shirt options are located on the right. You can securely purchase your shirts through PayPal, just make sure that before checking out that you direct the seller to credit the account of Nick and Erin Kellerstrass. If we are in the top three selling spots for the month, they will double our funds raised! Let's storm their t-shirt shop and change the life of Baby K forever!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Britt Nicole Have your way HD LYRICS!! Lost Get Found

Something to Think About

"For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure.

To think of Jesus in such a light is - well, its seems almost irreverent, doesn't it? It's...uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation...There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable.

But don't do it. For heaven's sake, don't. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out." Grace for the Moment, Max Lucado

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Is it ok to say I'm angry?

The call shocked me. It literally knocked the wind out of me. Leukemia? Leukemia....LEUKEMIA. The thought of cancer never really crossed my mind. All of the struggles, infections, fatigue, nosebleeds, fevers, etc. weren't those all results of her intestinal infections? All these months of fighting the annoying fistula only to lead up to this diagnosis? Two years of suffering to be told "the intestinal issues are have leukemia."

It doesn't make sense.

I'm angry. Is it ok to say I'm angry?

I'm a christian, aren't I supposed to say "God is in control. He has a plan. This will all work out in the end."

I've been struggling with this for awhile. What is an appropriate response to a devastating diagnosis?

I would be lying if I said I didn't suffer from normal human emotions. I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling sorry for my mom, my dad, my brother...myself.

This isn't fair. Nothing good can come from this. What can I possibly say that could be a witness to those who don't understand our faith?

So do I turn my head away from the One who can comfort me? Do I run to the things that help this pain disappear? I've done it didn't help. There is no comfort in the world. There is no hope out there. Those people are searching for just as much comfort and hope and peace as I am.

So I turn to Jesus.

And in the midst of this dark storm, I have hope. I have peace. And I have comfort.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 14:27, 16:33