TCOR: The Movie

Here’s a glimpse behind the scenes of the Hallmark Movie Channel production, The Color of Rain, premiering on Saturday, May 31.

For those who want to get a jump on things, there is a benefit premiere being held on Thursday, May 15 at 6PM at the E-Magine Theater in Royal Oak, MI. There will be a red carpet arrival, cocktails and hearty h’or derives, the screening of the movie and then a panel Q & A session with cast members, the producers and more!

This exciting night will benefit The New Day Foundation for Families, a 501(c)(3) non-profit helping families who have been impacted by cancer.

Seats are very limited so order yours today online.

Order Tickets Online

Team New Day

Team New Day

Team New Day is a partnership between New Day Foundation for Families and Starting Line Health and Fitness for the purpose of having fun and staying fit, all while giving back to the community.

The Roller Coaster

Empty nest

For nearly the past week our children have been up north visiting grandparents and aunts and uncles. Gina and I have stayed home to tend to work, take care of chores around the house, etc. (It’s the “etc.” that was the good part!)

With five kids Gina and I have our hands (and minds) full most of the time. We do have a pretty busy household. It can get messy around here too. Having five kids (three of them teenagers) will tend to raise the level of clutter and noise to a house. It’s not for everyone that’s for sure. I’ve seen the faces of friends or relatives when they come to visit. That “there but for the grace of God go I” look. Most days I just close the French doors of my home office as tightly as I can and keep my head down.

It often seems as though we really can’t see much past the next hour or two. Friends and family call us to ask if we want to go to a movie three days from now and we are left with a confused look on our face. “Three days from now…? That’s not even on our radar yet!”

Michael Spehn will be addressing the pastors of the greater Kalamazoo, MI area at a prayer breakfast. Invitation only.

Date: May 1, 2014
Time: 07:30 - 09:00 am
Event: Kalamazoo Breakfast Speaking Event
Sponsor: Kalamazoo Funeral Homes
555-555-1234
Public: Private

The Color of Rain (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011)

Matt Kell is a young husband and father in the late stages of terminal cancer. His former classmate Cathy Spehn has recently moved to his hometown with her husband and three children. Four weeks after Matt dies on Christmas Day, Cathy develops a bad headache. She dies seventeen days later of inoperable brain cancer. On her last day of life, she tells her husband, Michael: ‘Call Gina Kell.’ The Color of Rain illuminates the stepping-stones of healing that led to a new life for Michael, Gina, and their five children.

Order The Color of Rain

TCORThis remarkable real-life Brady Bunch story explores the differences between despair and grief, denial and joy, bitterness and redemption. Told from alternating points of view, Michael and Gina’s gripping journey of ‘growing new hearts’ inspires readers to not just survive loss but to receive the courage, faith, and identity that God gives in the midst of tragedy—and be transformed forever.

Michael and Gina personify the beauty that God can bring out of the ashes of sorrow.Kathy Lee Gifford
Host, NBC's The Today Show Fourth Hour
The Color of Rain is not only an instant best-seller, but also an instant classic. It is simply a profoundly moving guidebook to the Valley of the Shadow.Hugh Hewitt
Nationally Syndicated Radio Host

 

A Divine Intersection: Behind the Scenes of “The Color of Rain”

As many already know, the Hallmark Channel is turning our story, “The Color of Rain” into a Hallmark movie in 2014. Filming took place in Vancouver, Canada last month and we’re excited to see the finished product (Will air sometime between December 2013 and June 2014). The experience of being on a movie set was a thrill for our family. We enjoyed sharing photos on Facebook and tweeting with movie stars. But there is a “less public” side of this story that needs to be shared. It’s a story of how one generous sacrifice can lead to a lifetime of memories.

It began more than a year ago when the movie producers, David Permut and Dan Paulson, agreed to let us auction off a “walk on” role or cameo appearance, in “The Color of Rain” at our annual fundraiser benefitting our nonprofit, New Day Foundation for Families. We were thrilled to have such a unique experience for our live auction. Not many auctions around here can offer that!

The night of our gala event, just prior to the live auction, Theresa Kull shared her cancer journey with nearly 300 foundation supporters and passionately explained how the New Day Foundation for Families blessed her family in their time of need.

“I read “The Color of Rain” just a few weeks before my cancer diagnosis, not knowing what my family was about to go through. After I was diagnosed, Michael and Gina came to our church to speak and I felt as if God was letting me know everything was going to be okay. That was the day I learned about the New Day Foundation. It was just a few weeks later we started receiving much needed help with our monthly expenses, and the foundation even threw a wonderful birthday party for two of my kids that summer. It was truly a gift from God.”

When it was time to auction off the walk on role in the film, bidder paddles went up, and up, and up! There was a couple, sitting not too far from Theresa, who was outbidding everyone in the room. I had never met the couple, but knew they were guests of our friends and sponsor, Mike and Joeanne Gauthier, from Save On Everything (the coupon books you get in the mail regularly)

When the bidding went over $3,000 things really started to get exciting! This unassuming couple seemed determined to have a cameo appearance in a Hallmark movie.

As the auctioneer was shouting, “Can I get $4,000? We’ve got $3,750 over here, can I get four?” Sure enough, the quiet couple raised their paddle and the crowd started cheering. With that, the winning bid was called and Vince and Lisa Asaro from Rochester we’re the winners. Or so we thought.

Just minutes after outbidding the room for this one of a kind auction item/experience, Vince and Lisa informed me that they wanted to give Theresa Kull the walk on role in the movie. They gave it away and walked away empty handed.

Through their Asaro-Guzzardo Family Foundation, Vince and Lisa out-bid everyone in the room in the name of generosity and kindness. But it didn’t stop there. They also offered to provide travel expenses for Theresa’s entire family to join her in Vancouver on the movie set, which meant another $2,500 on top of the $4,000 they so generously donated to the foundation.

In the aftermath of the event, I’ve come to believe the Asaro’s walked away perhaps the most fulfilled and grateful people of all. Certainly, Theresa and her family were blessed and grateful for the experience and the memories it created, but it’s compelling to recognize how a selfless act of kindness, a pouring out of self, will cause us to overflow with the riches of God’s love. Our souls seem to grow deeper roots and grow more robust fruit of spirit with each act of generosity.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

It’s not dollar amounts that matter. It’s about the spirit within us that compels us to share our resources, time, money, space, life, and our very hearts, with others in need.

Those blessed enough to afford a ticket to this beautiful party and auction at Meadow Brook aren’t attending for the purpose of walking away with something. We attend for the purpose of providing for those less fortunate in our community and burdened by the horrors of cancer.

It’s a party with a purpose hosted by a love your neighbor as yourself organization! Come, and walk away enriched and blessed!

To attend our events in September, please click on “Events” above or visit www.FoundationForFamilies.org.

 

The Kull Family with actress Lacey Chabert, star of "The Color of Rain" Hallmark movie

Theresa Kull, New Day Foundation recipient, in a scene with actor, Warren Christie, on the set of "The Color of Rain" Hallmark movie

Theresa Kull, New Day Foundation recipient, with the actress playing Colleen in "The Color of Rain"

The Blessed Partnership: Moms

My mother, Dolores Spehn, was a great mom. She took care of our every need growing up, attended every game and concert. She encouraged me to tryout for teams, run for student council, and ask out the cutest girl(s). She did so while raising three other children and running our household while our dad worked.

As we got older, busy with our lives and distractions, Mom used to chide us for not calling often enough. “I have four other children,” she’d say tongue (half) in cheek. “But you only have one mom.”

Her point of course was to emphasize to us that we’d better treasure her while she was still here because she was the “only mother we’re gonna get.”

She was right about appreciating her while she was here. She left this world in 2004 and with every passing year I seem to appreciate her more and more. What I wouldn’t give to be able to call her today.

But Mom was wrong about one thing: You don’t “only get one mom”. Yes, there is only one person who gives birth to you, but being a mom is so much more and so much different than giving birth. When we were kids, my mom’s best on our block was Mary Walsh. Though she had ten (yes, ten!) kids of her own, Mrs. Walsh helped raise us as well. She was our “second mom”.

Later, in my high school days, my best friend was Dan Pelekoudas. Because my parents had split up by then and because Mrs. Pelekoudas was greek and could cook like nobody’s business, I spent a lot of time at their house. Mrs. Pelekoudas became my second mom during those days.

Today my five kids all have second moms. Mrs. Lynch, Mrs. Dean, Aunt Colleen… These are the second moms to our kids. And we all are blessed because of it.

Perhaps the greatest example of the “second mom” plays out every day in our home where our kids are blessed with true second moms, Gina and Cathy. They co-parent, one in heaven, one in the kitchen, in a a blessed partnership, in service to their children, and to their God.

One brought these kids into this world, the other brings them up in it. And it’s my privilege to watch. Somedays I want to cry. On others, I simply marvel at His plan and give thanks that it works in our lives.

To all the moms… and second moms, in this world, thank you. Not just for the infinite things you do for us every day. But also for the blessed partnerships you form with really great women, who become our second moms, and help shape our futures.

Let’s Get Dirty

Below is a blog post that hit Huffington Post today. Here is a link to the article online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-kell-spehn/lets-get-dirty_b_2544969.html

Let’s Get Dirty

I don’t make New Year resolutions because it feels like I’m setting myself up for failure. But during the quiet and languid days between Christmas and the New Year, I enjoy reflecting on the past and considering ways to be a better human, to live a better life. It occurred to me that I spent countless hours in 2012 in conversations with women over breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, bleachers, wherever, and though the names and places were different the themes were almost always the same. Women deeply desire to live and be better, but we are constantly at war with ourselves. Fear and failure have crept into positions of authority over our lives. We like things neat and tidy, but sometimes, life is just messy and downright dirty.

In striving for a better life, we’re often consumed by the internal struggle for contentment. Dissatisfaction is rooted in our very nature. With one bite of the apple, we were destined to a messy life of anxious longing. We choose to eat that thing, yell at that kid, or say yes to that commitment, because it’s easier than going to battle… again. It’s hard work to drop that cookie and have a healthy body. Working out is inconvenient. It’s painful. Sweat stinks. Talking through issues with our kids is time consuming — it’s easier to say, “Because I said so!” Saying “no” to a friend might disappoint her. So you get a sitter instead of letting her down, but now, something else has to give (see your husband and kids).

Paradoxical, don’t you think? What comes “easily” — eating that brownie, yelling at kids, saying yes to a friend, fill in the blank — is often the source of our greatest struggles. Doing what’s hard is often the source of true peace and our greatest successes.

The battle for contentment rages daily. We live in a conflicted, complex world, and we often live as reflections of that environment rather than as a reflection of the God whom we proclaim has authority over our lives. We can use our messes as offerings to God. Our yearly, daily, momentary resolutions, when they involve the cleansing, healing presence of Christ, become a source of restoration for ourselves and every relationship in our lives.

After many years of conversations with women, I have a few tactics that might be useful for the war raging in you:

One hole in your head serves as gatekeeper to your wellbeing. Your mouth wields extraordinary power capable of devouring your entire body, mind, and spirit. The mouth savors, kisses, reveals, and cuts — no matter how much we color and gloss our lips they merely adorn the entrance to a dark tunnel. The source of light for that dark place comes when we fill our two eyes and two ears with Godly wisdom to flow both in and out of our ONE mouth. That which you bring to your mouth — the kiss, the food — or words which flow from your mouth — the kind, the angry — should be carefully considered.

You don’t have to be right. You don’t lose when you submit. Paradoxical truth time — submission empowers. Study it. Apologize. Deal with your anger — it’s rarely expressed because you’re mad, it’s usually something deeper, typically rooted in fear. When you talk about your fears, anger dissipates. If your husband isn’t a great listener, call a friend, get a therapist, find a way to remove fear. You can’t live in fear and live in Christ. Fear and faith cannot coexist.

Laughing together heals. If you don’t know how, set your DVR to record Ellen, it’s laugh therapy. If you don’t have a DVR, get one. It’s 2013. If you can afford a cup of coffee at Starbucks every day, you can afford a DVR.

Pray together. Awkward, right? Go back to what I said about fear and deal with it. Praying together is profoundly intimate. Let go. Bare it all. Which leads me to another topic.

Get your sex on. Specifically, married sex. If you’re the wife who regularly says “not tonight” or who never initiates, it’s time. This isn’t about having sex. Any monkey can do that. Be sexual with your husband. Embrace your sexuality. Enjoy it. If you don’t know how to enjoy it, there are resources available for this. You deserve to have this part of your life in good working order. Go to your spouse to figure this out. Your girlfriends are helpful, but your man will have more answers. Listen to him. Talk about it. If you can pray together, surely you can talk about what works in the bedroom?

Greet one another every day. Hello and goodbye. Kiss and hug and in front of the kids. Gross ‘em out, just a little.

Play together. Stop what you are doing and experience your kids. Say yes. Dishes can wait. Did you get that? The dang dishes can wait! So can that load of laundry. Confession: I’ve washed the same load three times because it sat in the washer too long and got funky. Don’t judge! In all fairness, it’s partly a forgetfulness issue (again, don’t judge!) But it’s also a choice. What we do equates to what we value. Ouch, convicting.

Get dirty. Set aside the need to maintain the outward appearance of perfection. Value relationships more than you value shiny countertops. Leave the dirty dishes and dirty laundry to go get dirty with your husband (there I go with the sex thing again!). How about getting in the dirt in the backyard with the kids? Make time to play and get dirty. Life is now.

Converse with your kids about more than school and homework. Talk about current events, interesting people, new discoveries. Share the joys of your childhood with your kids, instead of comparing your glorious generation to their defunct generation. Teach them to do anything… make an egg, paint, clean, sew a button, make a fort.

Serve. This doesn’t mean deplete yourself. This means love your neighbor as yourself. Pastor Karl Galik loves to point out that the commandment does not say, “Love your neighbor instead of yourself.” Self matters. But selflessness matters too. Service is the best of both worlds. I have witnessed countless times the healing power of service. What we do for the benefit of others, remarkably has an even greater benefit for self. Not always easy or convenient, but vital to humanity.

Live gratitude. In the exchange of one negative emotion for gratitude we discover the source of transformational power living within us. Tap into it. It’s holy.

New Years resolutions begin to fail right about now. We’re a predictable lot, but have hope! He has not only given you a new year, but a new day. What you do with it is up to you. Maybe it’s time to get messy, even a little dirty… literally and figuratively. Whatever you resolve to do, or think, or eat, or say has the potential to cause an internal or external mess. When we allow the cleansing presence of God to wash over every choice, we experience restoration, growth and success, no matter how messy life gets.

Thirteen Years of Marriage, Seven Years Later…

Matt had a theory about how to tell if an album was good. “You have to listen to tracks three and seven,” he’d say. “It’s Biblical.” According to Matt’s theory, if tracks 3 and 7 are worth the time it takes to listen, the album is usually pretty good. It’s entirely subjective and unproven, but it worked for him. Matt would say, “In the Bible, three and seven are symbols of completeness or perfection” and that was it. That was Matt’s simple rationale for determining if an album was worth keeping. Given that he had over 1,200 CD’s at the time of his death, I seriously question how often he employed his own theory! Regardless, to this day, I still listen to track 3 and 7 of every album I buy or think about buying. This is the quirky stuff that sticks with me after seven years without him. These are the unique and precious qualities of Matt Kell that captivate my thoughts. These are my personal treasures, the little things, uniquely Matt, that I tuck away in my mind. But there are a host of treasures, many still undiscovered, that are more universal in nature.
I miss him. It hurts deep. He is with me every day. Our boys epitomize him. Our foundation memorializes him and ensures his beautiful legacy. And daily, I make new discoveries through every experience I shared and didn’t share with him. Glorious transformation! Beauty from ashes. This is why I write. This is why I speak publicly. Perhaps my clarity can be a catalyst for you.
A treasure is defined as “a concentration of riches, often one which is considered lost or forgotten until being rediscovered.” Relationships, especially marriages, are filled with buried treasures that can remain undiscovered, smothered in our desire to win, take one another for granted, and hold fast to our expectations. But when a relationship is rocked by tragedy, severed by death, it’s breathtaking and even suffocating to see what’s been hiding right before our eyes. Clarity rips through the veil of pride and fear. Why couldn’t I see it before cancer? Perhaps worse yet, even when I could see it, why didn’t I appreciate it?
My reflections and remembrances about my life with Matt before he died, and since, deeply influence every relationship I have today. Losing him has given me new eyes through which to see this beautiful life. It’s been a solitary and personal expedition (with Christ), yet I deeply desire to share my riches with as many people as will listen. My life with Matt was filled with many treasures, yet many were buried deep or even undiscovered until cancer and death unveiled them. I have regretted the circumstances that became the catalyst for transformation in me. I would have preferred that I had actively consumed myself with the pursuit of being a better wife and mother, sister and friend, before such tragedy entered my life, but sometimes it’s the people who think they know the most who often require the most refining! Through my experiences, I have gained some fresh insight. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I am answering a call to get back to writing. It is my hope that I can offer nourishment to those who hunger for a better life, better marriage, better self. Christ fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. Anything is possible!
I hope you will join me as I spend the coming months seeking purpose in the every day, using my relationships and experiences, past and present, to draw upon. I hope you will engage here and comment freely. This is your blog, a community of friends who can call on one another for answers. I’m looking forward to what 2013 will bring to each of us.
Thanks for remembering Matt with me, celebrating his life and rejoicing in the birth of a Savior who brings clarity and purpose to every relationship and circumstance in our lives.