Thanks for stopping by our website!
So who are we? That's why you clicked on this tab right?
We're the Kells...Ben, Leslie, Lydia, Noah and Micah. There's 5 of us so there's rarely a dull moment in our crazy home. We live in Jonesboro, a suburb of Atlanta, where we spend our time homeschooling, being involved in church, playing sports, building forts, swinging from trees and planning our next big adventure.
Slightly longer than short version
Ben's a full-time firefighter and Paramedic and also works at a local children's ER. Leslie has the daunting task of homeschooling our brood. There's difficult days...ok that's most of them... but we love so much about being able to mold, shape and teach our kids. It also gives us a lot of flexibility to pursue our passion of camping.
We are a very active family! We all love Crossfit. Leslie loves running...Ben, not so much anymore. The kids are into soccer and basketball, legos, riding their bikes and building forts out of whatever in the world they can find in the yard or trash pile. Ben loves his coffee and fancy beer. We love Jesus and love being with His people.
We bought our first pop-up camper, named "Rocky", in December of 2014. After a few local trips and an epic adventure to Colorado we decided to upgrade to "Campy", our 2011 Jayco 30' travel trailer. This website is a chance for us to share our adventures and review the places we've been.
Super Long Version
Ben's Story...in Ben's words
I was born in 1978 in Louisiana to my parents who just celebrated 40 years of marriage back in June. My dad was a Delta Air Lines guy which moved us to Arlington, TX in 1982 and then to Atlanta in 1991. I grew up knowing my parents loved me and watched my dad bust his back side to provide for us as my mom bused me and my brother and sister all around town for school and sports. My dad made it a point to never ever miss a game, an event or a practice even working 2 or 3 jobs.
We moved to Atlanta 2/3 of the way through my 7th grade year which left me shell-shocked. All I had ever known was my little Christian school with 15 students per class and I got thrown into a new school, a big public middle school, way too far in the school year to make friends easily. I survived the last couple months only to go to a different middle school the next year. Those were tough years as I was struggling with my identity, being socially awkward and dealing with insecurity.
My parents decided to homeschool me for a couple of years before enrolling me in another small Christian school my last 2 years of high school. I played a lot of sports in high school which helped me start overcoming my fear of people. I was a punk, as a lot of teenage boys are. I gave my parents a tough time during these tumultuous years. My life started to change some my Senior year of high school. I started learning that I could let go of my insecurities and started to develop a lot of the outgoing personality that I still have today.
The high school years were quite formative in more than simply helping me to lose my insecurities. I learned that Jesus can change lives...specifically, my life. I had always espoused Christianity having grown up in a Christian home. I "said the prayer" that people say to become a Christian when I was 6 but I had never experienced any real change in my life or my character. I had operated as a Christian, held myself to certain standards. But I had never truly repented and turned my life over to Christ. This changed the summer after I graduated high school. I "rededicated my life to Christ", a Christian term for refocusing and recommitting to do the right things. Thing is though, my heart changed that night. I felt things I'd never felt. I forgave people I thought I couldn't forgive. I had a freedom that I'd never felt before. I had new desires, new hopes, new passions. I was still the same person, just very different. Jesus changed me that night and I've never been the same.
Life moved on. I did a year of college at Georgia State, then dropped out, unsure of my future. I got a job at Delta loading and unloading cargo and mail. It was a dead-end job, but it was better than Chick-fil-a. I wanted to make money but was too lazy to get the education that I needed. We started going to a new church and at the pastors' birthday party a dude came and talked to me. Come to find out, he was a firefighter and he gave me his "you-need-to-become-a-firefighter" spiel. It clicked and a couple months later I quit Delta and I was in a local rookie school as a volunteer while I still lived at home. 4 months later I was a certified firefighter and 2 months after that had a job at the fire department in 1999 where I've been employed ever since. I got my paramedic along the way and use that training riding on an ambulance and working at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta in the ER.
So, along the way I met a beautiful girl, got hitched and had a bunch of kids.
Hmm, guess I need to unpack that a little huh? Way back in 1999, my brother started attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. I went to visit him that November, and me being the single guy that I am and knowing there were a lot of quality girls at a Bible college, I was on the lookout for a friend that happened to be female, who could maybe one day be more than a friend. I met my future wife that first night in Chicago. We talked briefly. Then a couple weeks later I was back in Chicago and I got to hang out with her the night before her birthday. I got her email and over the next few months we started emailing.
In March of 2000, I went back to Moody. I liked Leslie at the time, but wasn't 100% sure she was "the one". We had our first date, which was really just a rollerblading adventure. Our friends who we were rollerblading with ditched us, giving us by default, a date. We had a blast. We hung out a bit more with friends then I went home. 2 things happened over the next 3 months. I solidified that I really liked my future wife, and I lost 45 pounds! I guess you could say I was motivated. I went from chub to stud...well, actually just skinny. The next time I saw her was after I awkwardly told her I wanted to date her over the phone and flew out to see her for the first time since we were "dating". It was a quiet and uncomfortable 2 hour drive home from Omaha with her parents and siblings in the car who I had just met.
We dated long-distance for 21 months before we finally wed and started our new life together in McDonough, GA in our brand new house that finished getting built a week after we got hitched. We moved in and life has been happy ever after...almost. Life has had its ups and downs for sure. We struggled with infertility for a while before God blessed us with our firstborn in 2005. We had less trouble getting pregnant with Noah and then I talked Leslie into having our third...and last. Micah's our red-headed fireball who lives up to all the red-head hype.
I'm truly a blessed man to say the least. I have a good church, good friends, good family, amazing wife and kids, 2 good jobs, my health. I try to never take these things for granted because I know they could be gone in a second. One of the driving forces for us pursuing camping as a family is just because of this...that time is fleeting. I recently thought about how I only have a limited number of summers with all of my kids home. I want to make the most of this time and camping has been a great avenue for this. Life's not all about having fun. It's about knowing and savoring Jesus. It's about teaching my kids to do the same. It's about serving others and leading my family. I'm not there yet...I'm a work in progress. Jesus loves me and He said He'd never leave me or forsake me. He is good and He's blessed me tremendously.
This is who I am...which is really nothing apart from Christ.