Important Beginnings

A Nugget of Thought

The first hour of your day is critical.  It sets the tone for the rest of your day.

I was reminded of this a little while back while reading Wrecked, which I highly recommend you read.  I had, once again, gotten into the bad habit of plowing straight through any semblance of a morning routine and head first into work.  This is naughty.  Why?

By the time I got to reading Wrecked and being rechallenged to purposefully set the tone of my day I was skipping past breakfast, quiet time, devos and even showering sometimes.  I woke up, barely rolled over, and grabbed my phone.  On my phone I was immediately sucked into emails and Facebook.  Not inherently bad and seemingly harmful, but because I did this I was thrown into my work day before I could yet hold my eyes all the way open.  This is exactly why I skipped past all the important things and walked directly over to my office chair.  Work became the only thing I could see and shortly into my day I was drained.

I dare you to be intentional about the first 60 minutes of your day.

After realizing I slipped up in my prioritizing I reset my morning routine to include a leisurely breakfast, prayer and devotional time in my quiet space, and often times I even do yoga and shower 😉  My new routine has given me life and energy to get me through long hours of editing, corresponding, shooting, and otherwise working.  It also helps that in my prayer time I specifically pray for creativity, productivity and kindheartedness as I work.  Most importantly, I refrain from looking at my phone past looking at the time until well after I have completed my healthy morning routine.

Do you have an intentionally life giving morning routine?  What is it?

Words for Grandma’s Funeral

In the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to finally get to know my Grandma Lu.  After the passing of my Grandpa Bud, Grandma seemed to become more receptive to family and visitors.  I totally took advantage of that by visiting her as often as I could and coaxing her into telling me stories.

The memories I’ll cherish are these that I’ve made in the past couple of years and today I will share my last three with you.  But first, Grandma Joyce insisted on being called Grandma Lu by all the grandkids so I hold to that in my little speech.

On Tuesday, February 12, I had suddenly had enough of fretting about Grandma Lu’s situation.  About a week prior she had decided to quit dialysis and a few short days following that she was moved to hospice care.  I had spent those several days wallowing in my empty house and, after melting into a sobbing puddle on my kitchen floor randomly one afternoon, I figured it was time to set my sails for Minnesota to see her.  I hit snow as I drove in the night but since I’m as much of a stubborn Norwegian as my grandma I kept at it and slowly, but surely, made it safely home.

The next morning I awoke to coffee time with Mom and then we headed to visit Grandma.  I was hopeful in going to see her because only a couple of days before my mom told me how Grandma said something like this, “all who believeth and are baptized will be saved.”

My time with Grandma was lovely and gave me peace.  Honestly, my Grandma is a hoot to hang with.  We talked a lot about Josh, I think she had a little crush on him , and I tried to get her to tell me stories from her childhood.

On the last day I was home I went to visit her by myself.  I brought the dogs and Josh’s music so she could meet my furry kiddos and hear some rough cuts of Citizen Way’s new album coming out in the next couple of months.  She was amused by my pups until Sam tried to snuggle one too many times and drew blood on her fragile skin with his persistently knife-like claws.  So, I put them away and put the music on.  She reclined and listened intently to every tune I played for her.  I’m pretty sure she couldn’t have possibly understood the lyrics but I was praying all the while that the words would sink into her heart anyway.  After she tired of music we chatted. At one point she dozed off and she was so still that I thought she died right in front of me!  But, just before I asked Gene, her 24 hour caregiver, for help, Grandma spoke again behind me.  Thank the Lord!  I was so freaked!

Before I left I asked if I could pray for Grandma.  ”Oh yeah!” she said.  A much more enthusiastic response than I expected so my heart fluttered even more hopefully for her.  After the prayer and a gentle, awkward stooping hug I said “I love you Grandma” and she said “drive safe” (she doesn’t say “I love you”) and that was the last time I saw her.

On Friday, February 22, Grandma Lu took a turn for the worse.  My mom called asking me to pray hard because she had gotten the call that Grandma was at her end and, if she wanted to be there to say goodbye, she had to get there right away.  With a 45 minute drive ahead of her, my mom was desperate for some divine intervention so she could make it in time.

After calling Josh and praying with him and sending a quick text to my small group pleading for prayer, I got on my knees and prayed as hard as I’ve ever prayed.  I prayed for my mom to get to Grandma on time but I mostly prayed that God would claim my Grandma as one of His own before she breathed her last.  This was a common prayer for me in the last couple of years but never so desperately and fervently

As I prayed God kept talking over me.  When I finally was quiet for a moment all I heard Him say was “Kaia, stop praying for this, I already have her in the palm of my hand.  She is one of my own.”  My heart soared and I was filled with such peace and hope.

My mom did make it in time that day and my Grandma decided she wasn’t done yet.

On Monday, February 25 at around 6:30AM my strong-willed and spunky grandma breathed her last.  I awoke at 7:30AM to a voicemail from my dad with the news and my heart was so glad that she was finally safely home and no longer in pain.  As I listened through the voicemail I was given this beautiful vision of my white-haired, though obviously healthy, smiling Grandma.  It was a smile free of pain and struggle and a face so full of life and peace and love and joy.  She truly was so beautiful!

In her last days my grandma taught me a lot about “being joyful in the face of suffering.”  I truly hope I can live out her example of perseverance when I grow old.  I respected her so much for the way she carried herself amidst the pains of so many health issues, especially at the end with the excruciating pain that comes with kidney failure.  I really loved my Grandma Lu and I hope she realized how fully I loved her and how greatly I will miss her.  My heart grieves that I can’t share and laugh with her anymore but I am so excited to see her again when I get to travel to paradise.

Musings of a Musician’s Wife: blogging for a good story.

Good blogging requires an act of self revelation that is well beyond my comfort zone.  I’ve made a pact with myself to divulge the truth and the most interesting aspects of the truth in my life, I’ve found, are some of my deepest, most private moments.  I’ve been thinking on this since I’ve started sharing with this blogging world.  But I also have to remember that many other brave souls have gone before me.

I love a good story.  I love, even more, taking a role in a good story.  

Yesterday Josh and I ventured up to Milton for a short vacation together after such a length apart.  We are here for just a day, but it is lovely.  Mom and Dad Calhoun requested we drive the truck up so we could help them move some things today so Josh, the dogs, and I all clambered in yesterday evening.  Approximately ten minutes later Haley did a juicy toot right on my leg that left a residue and a gigantic lingering stench.  Right after she did her dirty she craned her neck to smell her mess and Sam followed as soon as he caught wind – oh the joys of dog ownership.

The beginning of… Musings of a Musicians Wife

Perhaps writing, or blogging, is a way of processing the sharp turns in life.  Perhaps it is a way to unleash the darkest depths of the soul.  Perhaps it is a way to make yourself known, to shout to the world that you exist.  In my case, I think this is a way for me to get my daily musings out of my head.

Lets say this starts because I felt prompted.

Today lets talk about words.  Right now I feel I have so many boiling over and no one to hand them off to.  I am a mommy to two crazy smart and ridiculously adorable dogs, but lets face it… not much for conversation.  I am a photographer and I work until I drop.  Currently I own a business, a Sunshine Moment, where I get to share my joy of photography and people with anyone who cares.  I also work for Hindsdale Living Magazine, Bella Baby Photography, Sherwin Williams Paint Store, Cornerstone Photography, and

I have words about my ordinary life and in a marriage with an up-and-coming rock star as my counter part I’m afraid my words are pretty lack luster.  I suppose even when I am asked a question the exciting thing that jumps to mind is that my musician husband is on a crazy awesome adventure elsewhere.  And what I mostly want to talk about lately is my new dog Sam.


Sam makes so many noises that he lost his voice for yesterday and today.  He makes yips ring shrill and painful.  I am most definitely working on getting rid of that noise completely. He also makes the whole assortment of monkey noises.  Today, when I got home, I was greeted with his entire catalogue of noises, almost as if he was listing them off my making them.  I leashed him up in a frenzy of fur and paws to my face and thrusted us out the door.

Tommy is the neighbor dog. The day after we got Sam he ended up at Tommy’s mercy with me shreiking along trying to catch the ravenous killing machine of a dog or my tiny teddy bear Sam before he got eaten.  Haley even joined in the battle, apparently she forgot she too is terrified of the monster or was too overcome with the desire to protect me or the new little fur ball that she forgot her fear.  The whole war between Sam’s life and death probably lasted only a minute or two but Sam will not ever forget it.

Today Tommy was out when we went for our potty excursion.  As soon as we rounded the corner Sam spotted him and desperately tried to climb up me as he ferociously growled his raspy puppy gurgle.  I obliged and picked him up to prance him past Tommy, a long way from the end of his rope, and put Sam down in hopes of seeing a pee stream.  No such luck.  He was more concerned with getting away from the sight of Tommy as quick as possible.

We did.  Then he whizzed.

The end.