A Kidney For Kelli

If you’ve been around here for awhile, you may remember that about four years ago we collected a love offering for Kelli Bach, our bloggy friend who’s in stage 5 kidney failure and waiting on a kidney transplant. At the time we wanted to raise enough money to cover Kelli’s health insurance expenses for a year (her condition had deteriorated to the point that she could no longer work, and the COBRA expenses were pretty steep). That day was a testimony to the incredible spirit of generosity that’s present in this little corner of the internet.

Like a lot of you, I’ve continued to follow Kelli’s condition over the last few years (here’s her story). She has endured tests and treatments and surgeries and hospitalizations that most of us cannot even begin to fathom. Some days have looked pretty bleak. Maybe even hopeless. But she and her family have held fast to faith, and after years of waiting, Kelli has finally been matched with a living kidney donor named Sarah.


Kelli’s insurance will cover all the transplant costs for her and for Sarah, and that’s definitely cause for praise. Even still, there are expenses that insurance won’t cover. Kelli is responsible for Sarah’s travel, food and lodging costs. Kelli will also need to cover her own costs, including travel and lodging for four trips from Oregon to Los Angeles prior to transplant – and for the four weeks (minimum) she’ll be required to stay in Los Angeles after her transplant. She’ll have to stay in a hotel, secure transportation to the hospital for tests and pay for meals. If her husband and children could make the two-day (each way) trip to see her at some point while she’s in LA – well, that would be gravy.

If you’re wondering why she’s going all the way to Los Angeles, it’s because Cedars-Sinai has the best transplant success rate with “highly sensitized” patients like Kelli. Cedars is her best shot for a successful transplant. To be frank, Cedars is Kelli’s best shot for life.

Kelli and her family have moved several times over the last few years in order to be close to the hospitals that could offer her the best treatment. She has not had the luxury of being in the same town at the same church with the same friends. If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post. But since it’s not the case – well, maybe some of us can step up today and be the church for the Bach family.

If you feel led to contribute even a small amount to Kelli’s transplant expenses, there’s a very simple, safe, secure way for you to give online at GiveForward.com. If 100 of us will donate $10, we can make a dent in the expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. If you don’t feel led to give financially, then I know Kelli and her family would be oh-so-grateful for your prayers.

(And just to be clear: I would never, ever want to make you feel obligated to give to or pray for a cause if you don’t feel led to do that. So please know that there is NO PRESSURE. Also, all of the donated money will go straight into the Bachs’ Give Forward account. NO ONE besides their family and Kelli’s donor will have access to or benefit from your donations.)

(There. I believe I’ve over-explained enough.)

God has been so gracious to provide a donor for Kelli. The fact that Kelli has insurance to cover the medical expenses is a tremendous blessing. And now we can step in and provide one of the final pieces of the transplant puzzle.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me smile. What a sweet privilege.

Thanks in advance, everybody.


DeeDee is also linking to Kelli’s Give Forward page today. Big thanks from both of us to Karla for creating a bloggy button for Kelli – feel free to grab it and use it on your own blogs.

Twenty Teen-Friendly Favorites Under Twenty Dollars

Every single week I get to hang out with a great group of teenage girls who make my heart smile. I love them to pieces. They keep me young and make me laugh and encourage me with their humility and transparency. They are, as the French would say, LE AWESOME.

Okay. So maybe the French wouldn’t say it exactly like that. But still.

A few days ago the girls and I were talking about Christmas and how I sometimes struggle with buying gifts for people in their age group. Granted, I don’t do a ton of shopping for teenagers, but our niece will be thirteen in a couple of months, and I dread the day when she’ll open up a gift from us and secretly wonder if we’re stuck in 1995. I know that it’s the thought that counts, but by the same token I think we all hope that people will enjoy the gifts that we give them.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want to be That Relative whose gifts are dictated by whatever’s in the biggest bin at Costco. Sometimes you have to face facts and realize that Jean Nate’ After-Bath Splash isn’t at the top of the kids’ wish list this year.

And hasn’t been since about 1983, for that matter.

And by the way, I’m not advocating that we all buy a bunch of stuff just to buy a bunch of stuff. I’m a fan of thoughtful giving, and after two years of struggling with how that might look in our family’s life, I’m trying to find my way back to a wee bit of balance. Because in 2008 and 2009, I pretty much wanted everybody to wake up on Christmas morning and sit around in a circle and talk about materialism. Good times.

So now that I’ve overshared, how about some gift ideas? These are mostly for girls, but some would definitely work for guys, too. Big thanks to Lucy, Abbey and Mary E. for their help with this!

Chunky Double Bead Necklace – I think the olive/green color combo is great-looking and super-versatile. Also: sweet mercy at the inexpensive. Take a gander around the F21 website, and I’ll bet you find some earrings that can keep this necklace company.

Square Jacquard Flower Scarf – It would look great with a t-shirt and jeans, and it would also be fab with a sweater tunic, leggings and boots.

Bugle Bead Elastic Headband – Adorable, feminine and fun.

Voluspa Japonica Candle Tin in Baltic Amber – Candle scents are mighty personal, I know, but this one is sort of universally divine. Love the colors of the candle tin, too.

Wide Leaf Bracelet – There’s so much to like about this bracelet – the cuff style, the little bitty leaves, the bright colors. It would go with just about anything.

Women’s Terrific Tights in Ruby – The whole colored tights trend was a little lost on me at first. But now? I think they’re ADORABLE. Such a fun way to add a little spark of personality to an outfit.

Natural Life Everyday Wristlet – I see girls carrying wristlets all the time, and it sort of boggles my mind because I personally prefer a purse that can hold a 12-pack of diet Coke if necessary. But this wristlet from Francesca’s is so cute, so practical – and it really can hold all the essentials.

iTunes Gift Card – You can never, ever go wrong with this one. The kids enjoy them some music. And some apps. And when I say “apps,” I’m not talking about buffalo wings from the TGIFridays. Amen.

Yankee Candle Clean Cotton Car Vent Sticks – These are so affordable that you can buy three in whatever scents you like and still be under the $20 ceiling. The teenagers enjoy taking care of their cars, you know.

Scout Lil Slim Laptop Sleeve in Petallica Green – This is the perfect way to protect a laptop (or as I like to call it: THE BABY) before slipping it into a tote bag or backpack. Laptop sleeves come in all sorts of sizes, though, so make sure you know what size you need before you order.

Women’s Printed Flannel Lounge Pants – Let’s see. These are affordable, comfy pajama pants in an assortment of fun patterns. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

and – Both of these colors are “new neutrals” – perfect for any time of year and current enough that they pack a little bit of a trendy punch. Delightful.

Bath & Body Works Body Lotion in Warm Vanilla Sugar – This lotion is a perennial favorite in all age groups. And right now you can buy 2 and get 1 free or buy 3 and get 2 free. I’d call that a deal, my friends.

Customized Starbucks Card – When I was a teenager, I pretty much just drank Coke. But kids these days – they order a grande PSL extra shot extra hot no whip like total pros. For that reason, a Starbucks card is sure to get lots of use, and a customized version adds an extra element of fun.

Women’s Knit Mukluk Slippers – Hello, warm and cozy. It’s so nice to see you again. And at such a reasonable price!

Solid Color Knit Infinity Circle Scarf – I have an almost unnatural affinity for the circle scarf. This one comes in fantastic colors, and the price is oh-so-right.

Owl Key Covers – Do you remember how exciting it was to have your first set of keys? Well, imagine your first set of keys with these little owls attached. OVER THE MOON. You’d be OVER THE MOON.

Fleece Lined Leggings – Comfort, thy name is fleece lined leggings. What a treasure you are.

Table Top Jewelry Stand Earring Holder – I’m thinking of ordering one of these for myself, mainly because I have absolutely no system for keeping up with my earrings. Unless tossing my earrings on top of the dresser can be considered a system. In which case I’m golden.

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle – Remember back in the day? When we’d all stand in line and drink after each other at the water fountain? That’s not really how things work these days. These water bottles are perfect for school or for a hike, and there’s a huge selection of colors, to boot.

Well, that’s it, I reckon. All that food in our refrigerator isn’t going to cook itself, so I’d better get busy.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Don’t forget the new Laughing Cow giveaway – there’s a $150 Visa gift card up for grabs!

Fifteen Favorites Under Fifteen Dollars

We’re not much for extravagance around our house at Christmas – unless you count the sheer volume of Land-o-Lakes butter that we consume, of course – but we’re definitely fans of giving. In order to keep the giving from breaking the bank, I typically put a ten or fifteen dollar price limit on gifts for friends (we call smaller gifts “happies” in Mississippi and Alabama; people in south Louisiana call them “surcies,” and OH MY WORD I adore regional quirks). I think it’s so fun to find something that fits a friend or family member’s personality, and I love practical things that have a little kick of funky to them.

Since I’m always on the look-out for unique, affordable gifts, I thought some of y’all might be, too – so I decided to make a list. And get this: every single item is under fifteen dollars. I KNOW! In the South we’re big on hostess gifts (I’m guessing other parts of the country are, too), and anything on this list would be a wonderful way to thank your host or hostess for his or her holiday hospitality. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with the standard poinsettia, but these gifts will keep giving long after the party – and the season – is over.

And if you’re wondering where all the Etsy goodness is, let me explain. I initially had a few Etsy items on this list, but now I think I’m going to do a second list that’s Etsy-only. Because I’m a wee bit obsessive. And also fascinated by the crafty people.

All righty. Here are my fifteen-and-under favorites. And yes, I know we still have a couple of days until Thanksgiving, but I figured I’d go ahead and post this for those of you who like to plan ahead and create spreadsheets and wrap all your presents by December 1st.

Very Merry Christmas – Dave Barnes – I am a huge fan of Harry Connick, Jr.’s Christmas CD because of its laid-back, bluesy feel. But you know what? Dave’s Christmas CD is even better. YEAH. I SAID IT. It’s infectious joy all the way around.

Tapestry Hand Towel – This little towel packs a punch with great, bold colors. Tie it up with a gold ribbon and make your hostess’ day.

Surprised By Worship – Travis Cottrell – That Travis. I tell you what. He composes incredible music, sings like a dream, and now he’s gone and written an absolutely beautiful, heartfelt book about worship. What I love the most about this book is that it’s who he is inside and out – reverent and funny and wise and tenderhearted. Anyone who reads it will be challenged and encouraged.

French Bull Pocket Notepads – I feel like I’m always digging in my purse for a piece of paper. Or rummaging around the kitchen for a piece of paper. Or looking in my car for a piece of paper. This little notepad set would solve all my paper-related problems. Stash one wherever you might need it – and then swoon when you see the cute cover designs.

Glass Bird Ornament – The thought of Christmas lights illuminating this little beauty makes me sigh with nostalgia. Lovely.

Hummingbird Farms Lavender Body Wash – Melanie introduced me to the Hummingbird Lavender products a few years ago. They’re THE BEST. This body wash smells fantastic and is the bath-product equivalent of instant relaxation.

Chop & Scoop Cutting Board – This gift errs on the side of practical, but good grief at the handy. Anyone who likes to cook would get tons of use out of it, I imagine.

Trudeau Colorful Melamine Mixing Bowls – You know what would make somebody smile when they’re making their 46th batch of cookies this Christmas? These mixing bowls. Adorable.

French Bull Tapestry Salad Servers – A few years ago I saw these salad servers in a local store, and I’m pretty sure that my heart stopped as a result of all the cuteness. They’re colorful and funky and functional – my favorite combination.

Caspari Decorative Matchboxes – These matchboxes are so much prettier than keeping a big grill lighter-stick-thing-y on your coffee table. The matches are longer than normal, so they’re perfect for lighting candles and fires, and the boxes are a great decorative touch.

Paisleys Spoon Rest – I adore a good spoon rest. And while yes, that might be the lamest sentence I have ever written, it’s the truth. I use a spoon rest every day of my life, and I’d prefer for said spoon rest to have a solid cute factor, by diggity. This one delivers.

Aveda Refreshing Bath Bar – One day I’m going to write an ode to Aveda products. Or maybe I’ll just move in an Aveda store so that I can smell all the divine scent combinations every single day for the rest of my life. This soap bar is for men or women, and it’s moisturizing without leaving an annoying soapy residue. It also lasts for a sweet forever.

Snowflake Pajama Pants – I’m sure there are people who don’t live for the post-supper moment when they put on their pajamas, but I don’t know any of them. And if I did know them, I probably couldn’t be friends with them. Because comfy pajama bottoms? NOTHING BETTER. If someone gave me these as a hostess gift, I’d be tempted to change clothes and wear them to the party. I’M JUST SAYIN’.

Lightweight Ruched Scarf – Scarves are timeless, and this one is light enough that it can be worn year ’round. Can’t beat it.

Little Peepers Shakers – Salt and pepper shakers are something that I never think to buy for myself. One Christmas a sweet friend gave me a set as a gift, and I was TICKLED. These would be pure happiness on a breakfast table any day of the year, and the price is fab, too.

Happy Merry, y’all!


Last Saturday afternoon I called Sister and B to check in and see how they were faring in the midst of the flooding going on in Nashville. They were doing fine but were just as stunned as everybody else by what was happening in other parts of the city. Sister and I talked again Saturday night, exchanged a couple of emails about an SNL skit that made us laugh, and when I went to sleep an hour or so later, I assumed that all was well at their house. Sister and B assumed the same thing.

Early Sunday morning Sister called and told me they had to evacuate. When B woke up around 6, he saw water lapping across the street that runs next to their house, and then he realized that the river a couple of hundred yards away was starting to fill the backyards of the houses across the street. He told Sister that they needed to move their cars to higher ground – which they did – and not too long after that they got the official news that they had to leave. They threw some clothes in a bag, moved some family pictures to the second floor, loaded a few things in their cars, and by the time they left their house the water was at the top of their front steps.

Sister told me later that as they were trying to walk/swim through chest-high water on the final trip to their cars, flower pots full of pansies floated by.

It’s been almost a week since they had to leave their home. They’ve been staying with friends, and they’ve spent the last five days tearing the first floor of their house down to studs. They lost everything that was downstairs – couches, chairs, tables, appliances, cabinets, TVs, mementos, mirrors – but as Sister has said over and over again, it was just stuff. It can be replaced. They’re going to be fine. They have wonderful friends who have pitched in and gone above and beyond. The kindness of people they know – and in some cases, people they don’t – has been overwhelming. Sister said that seeing that kindness in action has caused many more tears than losing a bunch of furniture.

After all, it’s one thing to think your friends love you. But to know it? To see it in action? It’s a blessing like no other.

The most encouraging part of this flood story – to me, at least – is how the people of Nashville have responded. They have more than risen to the occasion. The city and state governments have cooperated. They’ve worked efficiently. Churches and other local organizations have coordinated massive volunteer efforts, and they have made a huge difference. The work is far from over, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that the work will get done.

Here are two specific ways we can help.

Lindsay has written some incredible posts this week about what she and her family have witnessed this last week. She’s collecting gift cards to distribute to families in need, and I think it would be great if bloggy people jumped on board with what she’s doing. This post has all the details.

Cross Point Church has started a flood relief fund. Every single cent of donations will be used to help families who have been directly affected by the flooding.

Have a great weekend, y’all.

Imagine There’s No Parse Error, It’s Easy If You Try

If you’d like to better understand the level of tension I’ve felt since the blog went all kawonky (and that is in fact the technical term) yesterday afternoon, then take your left arm, stretch it across your body, then rotate your left wrist 280 degrees and grab your right foot. And do a backbend.

Then, when your muscles start to spasm uncontrollably, THAT’S IT! THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I’VE FELT!

Thankfully, however, I’ve entered the cool-down mode of my unexpected HTML / CSS / RSS / NEXTTIMEWON’TYOUSINGWITHME work-out. Everything seems to be back in good working order thanks to Anne, Ashleigh, Kat and Melanie, all of whom rushed to my bloggy rescue in some form or fashion.

It takes a village to raise a blog, y’all.

So now that everything is back to some semblance of normal in all possible browsers (even Internet Explorer, which is totally on my list right now, but I’m sure we’ll make up soon), I do want to thank y’all for your incredible response to the Bite Back campaign and encourage you to continue getting the word out (Shalee is doing something cool along those lines on her blog, by the way).

As best I can calculate based on comments and emails, y’all have donated around 125 nets so far (!!!!), and my friend Brian assures me that I’ll be able to get an exact number in a couple of weeks. Y’all really are changing kids’ lives – I cannot thank you enough.


I’ll have my final ASCAP Awards post up in a little while, and also: today I am going to a former professor’s retirement reception at Mississippi State, where I plan to take and then post an endless array of nostalgic pictures (think along the lines of LOOK! THE WINDOW OF THE ROOM I SHARED WITH EMMA KATE! ISN’T THAT SO COOL?!?!?!).

It’s sure to be an experience that will enrich your life in ways you cannot even imagine.

Now do have a lovely Friday.

For Kelli, Again

Last year many of us had the privilege to love on Kelli by providing a love offering for her and her family. The internets came out in full force, and we were able to provide almost $10,000 so that Kelli, who suffers from End Stage Renal Disease, could continue her heath care coverage and hopefully move closer to a live donor transplant.

Over the last twelve months Kelli has dealt with medical problems most of us can’t begin to imagine. Thankfully she’s had the health care coverage that she needs. But her window for a live donor kidney transplant isn’t quite as wide open as it used to be. And Kelli needs a kidney. That’s the bottom line.

So in light of all that, if you have the time – and oh, I hope you do – here are two posts that will touch your heart:

First: Heather writes here about something extraordinary that has happened in the congregation of a church in Mississippi.

Second: Kelli writes here about the latest developments with her condition.

And if you think about it, please spread the word about these two stories on your own blogs. You never know who might be reading; you never know who might feel led to help. I figure it’s worth a shot, y’all.

And I imagine Kelli and her family feel the exact same way.