In Loving Memory of Dorothy Keller

Dorothy_2 We laid to rest the beloved matriarch of the Keller Family today.  Mr. Keller’s grandmother, Dorothy Keller, passed away on August 10th, and to say that she will be missed is an understatement.

Dorothy was born on February 9th, 1918.  She was 98 years, 6 months, and 1 day old when she left us, and in those 98 years she truly touched a lot of lives.  She served as an inspiration to her family by being the first to continue beyond the 8th grade.  Not only did she graduate high school, she even attended and graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Rural Education.  She was an elementary classroom and music teacher for 20 years.  I have absolutely no doubt that in those 20 years, she instilled a love of learning in numerous children!

Dorothy Keller married Walt Keller of McNabb, Illinois, and started her greatest legacy:  her family.

Dorothy and Walt had 4 children:  Chuck, Julie, Randy, and Marty.  In them, Dorothy instilled a love of learning and, generally, a love of music.  In fact, three of the four even went on to earn college degrees with majors in education while the fourth carried on the family farm.  Those four children went on to bring nine babies into the world, including Mr. Keller.

Walt passed away in 1988, and from what I have gathered, Dorothy was a supportive, traditional farm wife to him.  In fact, that’s why one of Mr. Keller’s mom’s favorite stories about Dorothy is so striking.  One afternoon, Walt came in looking for his lunch.  He was surprised that Dorothy not only didn’t have lunch for him, she hadn’t even started it!  She informed him that she was busy playing with Mr. Keller (okay, she may have used his first name when she referred to him), and he would have to make his own lunch that day.

Dorothy and Mr. Keller had an incredible bond.  Not only did he spend hours at the family farm where Dorothy always lived, but she actually watched him while Mr. Keller’s parents worked.  This tiny matriarch spent hours sitting in a hot farm truck while Mr. Keller pretended to drive it down the road.  I can just hear him “vrooming” along while she indulgently watched.  She even wore out the knees of her pants sitting on the floor with Mr. Keller playing trucks and tractors.  Later, they watched Wheel of Fortune together, enjoyed reading the newspaper and sharing news of what was happening in town.

In the time that I knew her, Dorothy’s life revolved around family.  She loved living on the family farm with one son working the farm and another living just across the street.  She was surrounded by family, and I think, was well aware of how loved she was.  Dorothy was the epitome of a family matriarch.

I met Dorothy as she was becoming a great-grandmother.  She adored each new great-grandbaby.  You could just see it in her face as she held each one for the first time.  I know that Mr. Keller and I feel incredibly fortunate that our children were able to spend as much time with Dorothy as they did.  I just pray that both of them carry a few memories of her with them, always.  She certainly loved and cared for them!  She would just sit and watch them play.  When BK was little, she would even get on the floor and play trucks and tractors with him just as she did his daddy.

Dorothy Keller

Grandma Dorothy surrounded by her grand=babies

Dorothy was wise, gracious, and feisty all the way to the end.  I’m 100% positive that we all have a Dorothy Story that we will hold close.  In fact, I have several!  The first is from the very first time we met.  Mr. Keller had warned me that she could take some time to warm up to people who were dating members of her family.  She was a little bit on the protective side, I suppose.  Regardless, she surprised him when she declared that she “liked [me].  [I] was her height!”  I’ll also always carry with me how happy she was to be included in any get togethers at the Keller Tinker Farm.  She truly just loved to spend time with us and to be included in our lives.  I also loved her optimism!  Until the last year of her life, she constantly spoke of the future.  She was always planning for next year!  Keep in mind that she was already 86 when I had the pleasure of meeting her!

God gave us Dorothy for 98 great years.  She was able to live on the farm until nearly the very end, and then, was fortunate enough to be able to move into Cabin Livin’, an assisted living facility just a few miles away from the farm.  She really spent the majority of her years in great health, and she certainly maintained 100% of her mental faculties.  I was constantly amazed at her observations.

Selfishly, I wish we could have had Dorothy for a few more years.  BK and MK could have benefited so much from spending more time with her, and I could have, as well.

Dorothy KellerDorothy Keller left a strong legacy of love, music, and learning that will absolutely be carried on through her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  We miss her today and will continue to, but while we are sad that she’s no longer here with us, we can be confident that she’s in a better place with God and Our Savior.

Putting Marriage First

Mr. Keller and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary.  Six years of marriage, eleven years of togetherness and 2 kids later, we are putting marriage first.

Bottom line:  Mr. Keller was there before the children, and I want to be sure that he’s there after the children move out!

putting marriage first

While I totally understand that everyone has to do marriage their own way, for us, it works best when we put our marriage ahead of our kids.  We strongly believe that a happy, healthy marriage is the foundation upon which a family is built.

First, when BK and MK see their parents acting like loving, respectful adults, it reassures them that their family is on a solid ground.  It’s comforting to them, and it reinforces the idea that love and respect hold our family together.  Mr. Keller and I are modeling how we believe a marriage should look.  We are demonstrating to BK and MK that married couples spend time together and respect one another.

Second, spending time alone together helps to reinforce our relationship.  Mr. Keller and I try to have a date night at least once a month.  Just spending time together without the children is incredibly helpful to our marriage.  You see, during our typical evening with the children present, we have to concentrate on the children.  BK and MK demand a lot of attention!  Going out without them allows me to look at Mr. Keller and really see him.  I can actually hear every word he says without a little person suddenly needing a drink or assistance in the restroom.  I can focus on Mr. Keller.

Before MK was born, Mr. Keller and I would have a mini-date night every night.  BK went to bed early–around 7:00 or 7:30.  I would feed BK and bathe him before bedtime and then have a meal on the table for just Mr. Keller and I after BK went down for the night.  It was perfect!  MK’s birth put a kink in that.  First, newborn’s schedules are a little bit different from a toddler’s, and I just couldn’t quite get them aligned. Then, as MK became older, she also became a terrible sleeper.  By the time I get MK down for the evening, I am exhausted.

I’ll admit, during the week, it’s hard to put our marriage first.  We both work all day in jobs that can both be demanding and exhausting.  Then, at home I have chores around the house, dinner to prepare and children to care for.  Mr. Keller often has activities around our tinker farm to take care of (darned grass always needs mowed this time of year and hay constantly ready to be baled!).  By the time the children are finally settled in for the night, I’m tired and just don’t really want to talk, and Mr. Keller is either sound asleep in his recliner or caught up in watching a sporting event on the television.  If it weren’t for our date nights, I truly believe that our marriage would suffer

Mr. Keller and I have even purchased Chicago Bears season tickets this year as a way to guarantee that we spend time together.  Last year, we strongly considered it, but ultimately I backed out.  I was worried that we would be away from the children too much.  The truth is, we should have bought tickets last year, too!  The tickets are relatively inexpensive (the Bears haven’t had a winning record in years), and Mr. Keller and I will get to go and enjoy the games together.  The kids will be fine!

Putting Marriage First

Woohoo! Go Bears!

BK and MK usually stay with their grandparents when we go on our date nights.  It works out extremely well for all of us as it gives Mr. Keller and I an opportunity to focus on our relationship, and it helps the children build bonds with their grandparents.  We’re all benefiting!

In my view, focus on the family starts with focusing on your spouse.  Mr. Keller and I believe strongly that a healthy spousal relationship is the foundation of our family.  This means that we regularly schedule maintenance on that foundation (or date nights!).  We focus on putting marriage first and recognize that the children will be fine.  BK and MK certainly aren’t suffering!

Stitch Fix #9

Stitch Fix #9 arrived on Saturday!  I just love coming home and seeing one of these boxes on my front porch!  Stitch Fix #9

Stitch Fix is a boxed subscription company.  The service provides a personal styling experience for women, by sending 5 items that you can try on at home. You then decide if you want to keep any.  You send back the ones that you don’t want in an envelope provided by Stitch Fix, but if you do keep all 5 items, you receive a 25% discount off of all of the items.

In order to really maximize your Fix, there are a couple of things you can do.  First, set up and link a Pinterest board to your Stitch Fix account.  On that Pinterest board, put just a handful of outfits and accessories that you love, and be sure to make a note on each item referencing what it is that you love and why.  Next, after you schedule a Fix, you will have the option to leave a note for your stylist.  Be sure to do it!  This is really your opportunity to personalize your Fix and request specifics!

For this Fix, I had asked for a bright, summery fix that I could wear at home or at work.  I also specifically asked for a pair of colorful pants and a pair of shoes.  I always reiterate that I need petite sizes, too.

I was definitely the most excited about the potential for new shoes!  I’m not really a shoe person; I just don’t enjoy spending money on them.  I thought if Stitch Fix sent me a cute pair of shoes, I may actually keep them and treat myself.

My stylist included a sweet little note as shown below.  She did a great job of explaining what she would pair with item, and she did reference my requests.  (Sorry, the picture below isn’t very high quality!!)

SF9 Note

The shoes that I received are the DV8 Aura Floral Perforated Flats.  I really wanted to love these, but I just couldn’t.  First, I really disliked the color.  Everything I have on my Pinterest board for shoes is neutral so that I can really maximize the outfit potential.  These shoes are pretty far from neutral!  I will admit, they were pretty comfortable, but these just were not keepers.

DV8 Aura Floral Perforated Flats

The next item that I tried on was the Collective Concepts Wilson Tie-Neck top.  I knew as soon as I took it out of the box that this just wasn’t going to work.  I did try it on to be sure, but it just wasn’t flattering.  It also wasn’t my style, either.  Verdict:  Returned.

Collective Concepts Wilson Collective Concepts Wison

Next up was the Papermoon Kualo Bow Back knit top.  This top definitely fit my criteria for bright and summery.  Unfortunately, it just isn’t me.  I really don’t wear yellow.  I also wasn’t feeling the bow on the back.  Verdict:  Returned.

Papermoon Kualo Bow Back Knit Top Papermoon Kualo Bow Back Knit Top

I then tried on the Liverpool Philip Printed Straight Leg pant.  These kind of confused me.  I asked for colorful pants and received a white, checked pant. That’s just not what I had in mind.  It’s also not something that fits in with the clothes in my closet.  These are going back to Stitch Fix.  I will tell you that these were comfortable and fit nicely.  Had they come in a solid color, they would be keepers!

Liverpool Philip Printed Straight Leg Pant  Liverpool Philip Printed Straight Leg Pant

I was thrilled to receive the 41Hawthorn Concord Striped Cardigan.  I love the style!  Plus, it’s soft and comfortable.  Definitely a keeper!

41Hawthorn Concord 41Hawthorn Concord

The final damage:  $8.  I had a $50 credit in my account, and I’m only keeping the $58 cardigan.  I’ll take a comfy cardi for $8 any day!

SF9 Invoice

I don’t have another Fix scheduled yet.  I’ll probably wait a while as I really don’t need any additions to my closet right now.  My little green employees (dollars) would be better served working in the stock market or earning me interest!

Want to sign up for Stitch Fix?  Use my referrer code, and I’ll get a $25 credit to feed my habit.

Consumerism vs Generosity

I was struck again by a sermon at my church.  It was on Matthew 6:22-23 and was entitled “The Dark Side of Unchecked Ambition.”

Matthew 6:22-23On it’s own, Matthew 6:22-23 is kind of an odd little Bible verse:  “the eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then, the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!.”  In actuality, it’s a powerful statement on the importance of generosity.  The original Greek would lead to a translation much closer to substituting the word generous for health.  In other words, you could read Matthew 6:22-23 as “The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is generous, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is not generous, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”  Honestly, that’s still a little confusing!

Another way to understand Matthew 6:22-23 is to read it in context:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, If your eye is healthy,your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eye is unhealthy (bad),your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
In plain English, this Bible verse is telling me that I cannot surround myself with stuff. The love of stuff and the hoarding of it prevents truly free generosity and gets in the way of serving God.  We are blessed by what we give away.
For me, on the surface this is really a challenge!  I know that I’ve talked many times about it, but I really enjoy shopping.  I also really like the idea of having wealth.  Yet, this Bible verse would tell me to recognize when I have enough and to generously give above and beyond that.  In fact, I need to get beyond even concentrating on having enough.  It’s not about “having” at all.  I need to concentrate on God and His Will.
Really, Matthew 6:22-23 is a difficult set of verses for me.  I need to escape consumerism and concentrate on God.  The Keller Family has so many blessings, but to really understand and serve God, we need to  share those blessings.
I’ll be writing a blog post tonight on my most recent Stitch Fix subscription. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have kept a single thing.  The clothes are a waste; I don’t need a single item.  Now, there is one of them that I just love, but now I’m torn.  This Bible verse would tell me to quit obsessing, suspend my subscription (already done, actually), and donate my extra items to women in need.  Even just thinking about all of these consumer items is just such a waste!  I have to quit defining myself in terms of stuff and instead define myself in terms of memories, experiences, and my own actions.  It’s important for my own salvation, and it’s important for the salvation of my children.  After all, I’m setting an example every day for BK and MK.

Make America Great Again!

Donald Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again!”  It’s a sign of fear, anger, and a direct result of trickle down economics that this slogan even resonates with anyone.  It’s also unnecessary.  America is great.

America GreatWhy is Trump so successfully tapping into this vein of fear, then?  What reasons do Americans have to feel any fear at all?  There are plenty of things to fear, but many of those things have always existed!  First, global tensions are ever present.  China and North Korea play a strong rhetoric game.  ISIS is a formidable and difficult enemy.  Russia continues to play games in Syria.  The list goes on.  Yet, I don’t think the fears are based on global issues as much as they are domestic concerns.  Global issues like these are not new, and they usually serve as a rallying point for the country.  The fact that they aren’t today bespeaks of a country that is worn out fighting wars over seas.

There are plenty of domestic fears that Trump has tapped into.  First, and easiest to reference is the rise of minorities.  Let’s be real here:  Trumps’ claims that the Mexicans coming into the United States illegally are the dredges of Mexican society are just wrong.  Sure, it’s likely that some are coming into the U.S. to traffic drugs and escape prosecution in Mexico (don’t some U.S. citizens go to Mexico for the same purposes?), but most illegal Mexican immigrants are here trying to make a better life for themselves.  It’s the same reason that my ancestors came to the U.S.!  Should they have been stopped?  Should a giant wall really be built?

Further, Trump has tapped into a fear around religion.  He would have the United States bar Muslims from entry.  Are we so frightened of ISIS that we would bar all Muslims?  That’s giving a terrorist group a lot of credit.  We all know that most Muslims are not radical, right?  This Pew survey says that the vast majority of Muslims around the world do not believe in or support suicide bombings and extremism.  Further, the U.S. has an extreme vetting system already in place for Muslim immigrants.  It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s darn near perfect.

Underneath it all, I think the biggest fear that Trump has tapped into is related to the economy.  Traditional manufacturing jobs have disappeared; replaced by workers over seas and, just as commonly, technology.  Jobs that once supported entire families are gone.  That’s a hard reality to deal with.  Even more difficult to wrap one’s head around is the huge shift in wealth.

According to the Allianz’s Global Wealth Report 2015, the U.S. holds 41.6% of the world’s wealth.  That’s huge!  The next highest country was China at just 10.5% of the world’s wealth.  Take a minute to think about that disparity!  Why on Earth would any of us in the United States complain about the economy?  Oh, wait… I may be able to answer that.  That same report also said that the U.S. had the most wealth inequality with a calculation of 80.56 (where 0 is perfect equality and 100 is perfect inequality).

Clearly, the Trickle Down effect doesn’t work.  For those who may not know, the Trickle Down effect is the idea that if you allow the richest people to grow richer, the wealth will trickle down as the rich people create more jobs.  This is actually a fairly entrenched idea in the U.S., but it’s been proven false.  Wealth does not trickle down.  The rich just get richer and the poor just get poorer, while the economy has a whole suffers.  Researchers have even calculated that when the richest 20% of society increase their income by one percentage point, the annual rate of growth shrinks by nearly 0.1% within five years.  Why would the economy shrink?  As the poor lose their share of the wealth, they struggle to pay for education and health care, which obviously hurts society as a whole.

All of these negative things are happening, and yet, I claim that America is still great.  How could it not be?  The American people make America great.  We are an enterprising, hopeful people.  We dream big, and we have high expectations.  We live in a society where someone like me (a woman) can strive to have it all.  We’ve had dark periods throughout our history where the economy skewed towards the rich and we were deeply embattled at home and globally, but we’ve always come out swinging and better than ever.  Why would now be any different?

This past weekend I was moved to tears as I watched 4 different groups of St. Jude runners go by.  These are people who are running miles upon miles to raise money for the St. Jude hospitals so that the sickest children in the world receive the medical care that they deserve.  How can a country that is so full of kind, generous people not be great?

Donald Trump cannot “Make America Great Again.”  In many ways, he represents the worst pieces of America (upper class elitist who has moved jobs overseas while selling gambling, booze, and strip clubs).  The collective people of the United States is what makes America great.


Note:  I don’t care if you vote for Trump or Hillary.  This is not a blog post designed to build animosity towards Trump.  It’s really not even intended to be a political post.  I just don’t understand how anyone could think that this great big, beautiful country of ours isn’t great!