Thursday, October 8, 2015

3 Ways To Weigh Ministry Opportunities ~ KITW

I feel something BIG happening in the church as a whole right now.
I am seeing more and more of the beautiful balance of worshipping and filling up on the weekend within the corporate worship setting in order to pour ourselves out throughout the week. Giving and serving and loving the ones God has surrounded us with at work, home, and other activities, as we tangibly point others to Christ.
It’s as if there is an intentional shift. A driven focus.
And I don’t think it’s just our church or area. I have heard of churches all over the world making this shift from the gluttonous, self-centered worship that has unfortunately infected many of our churches. And I am proud to be a part of one of the churches fighting this trend.
But along with this outward focus can come feelings of exhaustion and burn out. Overwhelmed feelings with the amount of work that still needs to be done. Difficulty saying “no” to a good opportunity to serve in order to keep your priorities in check.
How can we figure out how to live life on mission while still protecting the much-needed white space we, and our family, need. A more pointed question for this audience–how can we best fulfill our responsibility to make disciples and love our neighbors while continuing to pour into the mission field within the four walls of our own home?
There are three questions I ask myself before saying “yes” to a good outside serving opportunity:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Only Like The Shadows Because Of The Sun

When my family lived in Waukesha, WI there was a season of darkness.  I believe it was in the fall.  I know I've asked my mom a hundred times how long the sun drought actually lasted, but for some reason I can't get out of my 7th grade mindset that felt like it lasted MONTHS!

It actually WAS several weeks.  Close to a month?
(You'll have to ask my mom, or my sister for that matter (who has the gift of never forgetting ANYTHING!), how long it actually lasted.

I remember the agitation on everyone's faces.
I remember my parents talking about the road rage.
I remember how mean everyone was to each other.
I remember how sad I felt.
I remember the news accounts of the sky rocketing suicide and depression rates.

The darkness was all around us.

Everyone needs sunshine.
And when it doesn't show up we begin having some major problems.

So when we passed the two-week mark of nearly NO sun here over the past couple of weeks I began having flashbacks.

Only this time I'm a mom, and my five littles were experiencing the annoyance, and drain of this darkness as well.

But yesterday...

...yesterday we had sunshine.

And again, today, SUNSHINE!

I can hardly keep myself indoors to carry on my normal household duties.

Actually, I didn't even do THAT yesterday.

I began putting our yard back together after two weeks of wind and rain as soon as the kids went to school.  Picking up pinecones, limbs, branches, pruning the garden, and weeding overgrown areas and debris.

I also began mowing and the instant gratification was exhilarating!  You know, sometimes you mow and by the time you get the mower turned around you can hardly tell where you left off.  But that was NOT the case yesterday!  The grass was freaking 8" tall after all that rain and I was in my happy place, riding along, watching it all get chopped down to perfect size.

Josh told me I was weird after I told him how mowing made me feel.  
But I have NO shame!

I've been thanking God for the sunshine over and over as I breathe it in deep,
with fresh motivation for life,
and parenting,
and completing the mundane tasks given to me in this season,
and working out sibling arguments.

So today I don't mind the lurking shadows because it means there is sun just beyond!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Free-For-All

It's raining (big shocker there!),
it's windy,
it's cold,
and there's the excitement of extreme weather buzzing all around us.

And changing clothes out for a new season for a Colony is NO SMALL FEAT.

The amount of clothes our kids have been blessed with is overwhelming!
Hand-me-downs.  They are like perfectly timed, practical Christmas gifts in boxes and bags every time we get to sift through them, find what works, and gift them on to others.

That has been my rainy day activity while the kids are tracked back in,
and daddy works on school from home,
and Jude takes a L-O-N-G nap.

Now I keep catching myself looking at my hipster little 3-year-old with the new haircut his daddy gave him this morning.  We have NEVER had a kid with short hair (Unless you count the first year of Rainy's life.  I never thought that girl would EVER get hair, ha!), so seeing a little boy, buzz-cut, mohawk-ish hairdo is almost more cuteness than I can handle!  I wouldn't be surprised (or even mind) if Zeke follows suit.  He has been on the brink several times, but just couldn't stop changing his mind.

Areyna was on the verge of tears last night trying to convince me that the chickens has told her how unhappy, wet and cold they were and that they NEEDED to come inside.

Yeah, not gonna happen...

I'm going to play Bunco tonight with some ladies in the Rolesville community.
"What is Bunco", you ask?
I don't even know, but I DO know that it's gonna be completely out of my comfort zone, but that's what grows us right?!

So here's to another cold and rainy day.
I prefer to call it FALL.
I complain less if the word FALL is involved.
Besides that means I can burn the pumpkin spice candles that I've been hoarding all year long and go to the store and stock up on Wassail ingredients!
Oh, and everything FALL makes me happy
(minus the cold rain and the lack of sunshine).

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Words Worth Remembering

Cai's sidewalk chalk spaceship

Jude:"Mom, can I go to Zeke's school now, I'm bigger today."


Josh:"Rainy, you look really pretty today.  I hope no boys wink at you today at school."


Alethia:"MOM!  Jude doesn't have to use baby cups anymore!"
Jude:"Yeah, I don't have to use baby cupth anymore!"
Me:"But that's kind of sad because that means he isn't a baby anymore.  Boo.  Jude, will you still be my baby boy?"
Jude:"No, but I can be a nice little bear."


Josh:"Alright Jude, what was YOUR Bible verse today?"
Josh:"My God..."
Jude:" the greatest...meat."
Josh:"well, um, close.  My God will meet all your needs."
Jude:"Philidia 4:19"


Josh:"So, what did ya'll learn about in your classes at Journey today?"
Alethia:"Look before you leap."
Zeke: "No, it was listen before you leap."
Cai:"No, it was look before you sleep."


Jude:"Daddy, sit down on the chest so I can tell you a stoe-rey.  One day I was playing basketball and I hit the ball with my bat and hote my fingeo and rolled down the hill.  I busted my fingoe and it was bweeding weewee bad and I had to go to the hospital.  And then it started bweeding again and I had to go back to the hospital.  I had to go to the hospital fwee times.  And then I hote my eyeball.  And then I had to go to the hospital again.  Then I came home and played more basketball. And then I took a bath and then I got out."
Josh:"Well I'm sorry about all of that buddy. Goodnight."
Jude:"No sit back down daddy.  I'm gonna tell you anothoe story."


Jude: tweezer = sleeveless shirt
Jude: rollercoaster = wheelbarrow
Areyna: machette = meditating


Jude:"Mom, why does Satan have powers?"
(then this shocked mama got to have a mini spiritual conversation with my 3-year-old)


Alethia:"Knock, knock"
Rainy:"who's there?"
Alethia:"Banana.  Knock, knock"
Rainy:"who's there?"
Alethia:"watermelon. Knock, knock"
Rainy:"who's there?"
Alethia:"ORANGE you glad I didn't say orange."


Cai:"Alethia is frustrating me because she said that I was talking about her in my head."


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Take 5

Band: Twenty One Pilots
Album: Blurryface
Song Title: Lane Boy

Timer Set For Five Minutes: GO!

"Moooom, I just pee-peed on the floor!"

The words Jude just yelled from the bathroom.

Yet, here I am, typing away to my song of choice, ready to get some words out.

The pee will just have to wait.

I was blessed with 2.3 minute of sunshine this afternoon.  It was as if it were screaming through the windows, beckoning me.  I ran outside and just stood in it until the clouds came flooding back in and the rain began falling again.  I'm not one to pass up a good rainy day in front of the TV, throwing in the towel of motivation, but a week in and I'm done.  Ready for the sunshine of motivation that drives me forward.  I would have a really hard time living in Seattle.

I had a realization.  I really enjoy cooking healthy recipes for my family.  I just need the right know, behaving children, all the ingredients, and unlimited day...

It's already...

Timer OFF.


Friday, September 25, 2015

It's Finally Friday. It's Fall. And then we baked.

Pumpkin muffins are sitting on the counter. (Don't bother asking for this recipe.   They don't really taste like anything:(.

Banana bread is in the oven. (this is ALWAYS a hit!)

Dinner is prepped. (homemade pizza because I needed something I didn't have to put any thought into.)

Kids are with the sitter (aka Netflix).

And me?
Well, I am in my room with nothing but the sound of the rain outside and the smell of cinnamon and orange diffusing in the room and the ambiance of stringed Christmas lights behind me and candles glowing to my left.

It is the loveliest moment of my day.

In case you missed it, Wednesday was the FIRST DAY OF FALL!  My absolute favorite time of year!  So the fact that fall decorating was on our to-do list didn't come as a surprise to the kids.  (Can I just say that the Target $1 Spot has come a long way in seasonal decorating options!) That, and the fact that it is rainy and cold-ish, called for the baking that made the list today.

I don't know what it is.
I used to be so good at being alone when Josh would leave town.
But now I can hardly wait for him to walk in the door!

Maybe it is the Lord humbling me and reminding me that it isn't actually ME that gets me through at all.  But HIM!  EVERY. Time.

This Colony spent nearly 3 hours in the doctors office today for poor little Cai-bo.  He had been running a fever since last Saturday and we had tried everything under the sun to help with his symptoms.  It was only getting worse and he was beginning to have labored breathing and crying uncontrollably.  So off to the Dr. we went.  2 breathing treatments, negative Meningitis, Flu and strep tests later and we were back home and feeling a little better.  Breathing tends to be a bit important I suppose:).

Then there is Josh.  His back is out. Like, can hardly walk, out.  Shuffling is his mode of transportation and strong pain meds are the only thing that enabled him to get on his flight back home.  He'll be home late tonight and we are SO ready.  We are also so thankful for a Chiropractor that is willing to see him first thing on a Saturday morning!

But this is just how it is in ministry a lot of times.  Every single person in different ministry capacities can vouch for the crazy health and spiritual things that happen when God's Kingdom is growing and you happen to be privileged enough to be part of it.

All this to say, I am in my happy place right now.
For this little moment.
And I'm thankful.
VERY thankful.

Also, I'm glad that my sucky circumstances, known as the last two days, do not dictate God's love that he continues to lavish on me and the grace he continues to give to me as I parent these little people through my exhaustion (and accidental four-letter words that may have slipped out in front of said little people).


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Shift

Everybody likes a good solid plan.
But we also know that those good solid plans can change in the blink of an eye.

We were at Via Vacation all last week which is why you didn't hear from me all week.  It was gloriously relaxing and atypically quiet for having nearly 20 children 10 and under in one house all week.  They kept each other occupied and little to no drama.  It was heavenly!

We arrived home late Friday night and enjoyed a nice Saturday unpacking, repacking and getting daddy ready for Honduras (he left at 4am on Sunday morning!).  The Colony plan was to get all packed up and head to Journey and leave straight from there to go to my mom and dad's.  She is nearing the end of her weekly chemo treatments and we were so excited to love on her for a few days while daddy was out of the country and before the kids track back into school next week.

But then life happened.
Cai began running a fever on Saturday morning.  And we can't take germs anywhere near my mom so we were stuck.  I'm pretty sure every single one of us shed some tears when the reality sunk in.  My kids haven't seen my mom since her diagnosis in January.

And I know myself.
If I sit around and sulk for too long I will get stuck in the rut until Josh gets home, desperately trying to climb out of the hole and feeling "behind" the rest of the week.  And then the kids and their attitudes and hearts quickly follow suit.

So we called a family meeting and made a new plan.
Something fun for each day.
Spending as little money as possible.
And enjoying this BEAUTIFUL fall weather God has lavished on us this week!

Yesterday's grand plan was to go to the Dollar Store and get sidewalk chalk.  Yup, $1 for hours worth of fun making scooter tracks on the driveway and pictures in the carport.
I was also feeling a little creative and gathered all the empty containers I'd been saving (and expired spices after cleaning out the spice cabinet) and built the outdoor kitchen for the kids I'd been dreaming up.  I had a few extra pallets from the pergola project and some extra cabinet doors and knobs from the ones we had ripped out of the laundry room.  A little bit of sawing and a few screws later and this is the end product.  The kids have been playing outside since their empty breakfast bowls hit the kitchen sink.

So here I sit, cuddled on the couch with my Cai-bo, all the windows and doors open, writing a blog and waiting for Lumpy's to open so we can get our local milk and promised ice cream:).


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Spear In One Hand, Tool In The Other ~ KITW

Have you ever read the account in Nehemiah when he rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem?
If not, go read it right HERE. It may take a while to get the full context, but it’s totally worth it!
Several weeks ago at Journey, my home church, Pastor Jimmy taught through this particular story. I have read this account several other times, but something jumped off the pages this time around as our Pastor began to dive into the emotion and persistent actions Nehemiah took through his relentless obedience to God.

Nehemiah was given a task and he not only obeyed with a happy heart, but he obeyed in the midst of constant ridicule and threats. But he felt SO deeply that this was God’s will for him during this season of his life that he fought through the difficulty to complete his task.
These particular verses are what really caught my eye: {read more...}

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Accountability Of Company

The Colony has an open door policy.

That just means that we want to have a home where we long for people to feel safe coming to.
We don't want them to feel as though they have interrupted our life.  Rather, we long for it to be a place where they can organically insert themselves into our family and just "be".

A couple of years ago we opened our home up to a homeless mom and her teenage daughter.  They resided in the living room of our 3 bedroom home on our couch for 3 weeks as they healed from past experiences, tried to refresh their outlook on life, and worked to get back on their feet.  The daughter quickly referred to me as her "white mama" as I hung out with her and tried to love on her in the afternoons while her mom was out trying to make some money at a new job so they could start a fresh life.  I loved it.  And the kids loved it, except for the weave that kept getting wrapped around their toes from the bathroom floor where they fixed their hair:)

Please don't read into this and get a glorified picture of how it was.  These are some of the happy moments.  There were some very difficult moments within those 3 weeks as we learned how to live with 2 strangers in our small-for-9-people home.  And the ending of this story still breaks my heart, but let me get to the point of me sharing this moment in time.

I believe I parented well during those 3 weeks.
In fact, I'd go as far to say that it may have been the best 3 weeks of parenting I had consistently ever had.


Because our family was under watch 24/7.  These two ladies watched and mentally took notes.  They knew who we were.  They knew what we stood for.  They knew where my husband worked and what we claimed with our mouths.  And now they wanted to see if we were actually going to live it out.

We were put to the test as we waded through parenting and life with these two just waiting for us to mess up so they would have another excuse to steer clear of the church and the claims of the believers who had previously shut them out.

It was quite an adjustment after they left.  Yes, we had our home back, but we were emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted and, as I felt the freedom to finally let my guard down, my poor family were stuck in the undertow.

There was another time when Josh got the brilliant idea that we should live-stream our Christmas tree decorating with the Colony.  If you were one of the lucky ones who tuned into that live event I owe you a HUGE thank you!  You kept those blasphemous words from exiting my mouth and that spoon from spanking on a whim, or from throwing those blasted un-lit, forever-tangled-up Christmas light strands from being thrown across the room, ha!

But man, when that camera turned off I was that crazy mama who got sent to the "cozy couch" for some cool down time.

These are just two examples.
I don't want to put on a show.
No, I really want to be a consistent parent, who disciplines with grace and love ALL.THE.TIME.
I don't want to yell, but dang, when there are Colony kids who are all going in different directions a mamas just gotta yell to get their attention sometimes. (See how easy it is rationalize?)

But I guarantee that I wouldn't dare raise my voice (at least NEARLY as much) if someone were over at my home for the afternoon or hanging out for the weekend.  Oh no, I can keep it together that long.

It's not even the fact that I'm trying to put on a show or be something I'm not.  I'm merely being the mom I know I CAN be and using all my energy to do so.

But I'm not a mom to the rest of the world.
My primary mission field isn't to everyone else who comes in the door (that doesn't mean I'm off the hook with them either, but it means that my primary purpose in THIS season is to the husband and the 5 littles who already reside with me on a day-to-day basis.)

I want to be the same mom I am when we have someone enter our home, as I am at 8:30pm when the boys keep coming out of their beds to "tell you sum'pin mama".  Or when the girls get a creative streak with fingernail polish  and their Barbie car.  Or when Zeke has one of his episodes.

I know I will NEVER arrive at "perfect mom" status.
That not the point!
I simply want to strive to parent (and wife) as though someone were always watching.  Because my littles are.  And my husband is.  And for goodness sakes, my Heavenly Father is.

Yes, I will be held accountable for the way I love on others.
But sometimes that's the easy part.
I need to remember that I will be held just as accountable for how I react and respond to life when the company is gone.  When the doors close for the night.  When NOBODY ELSE is watching but the ones God gave me who call me mama.

"If you really want to understand a man,
don't just listen to what he says but watch what he does."
~ Maurice Blondel ~

P.S. If you can't get out of the yelling-at-your-kids rut or the, how-am-I-supposedl-to-even-handle-this-3-year-old problem I would encourage you to invite a family or young couple over for dinner.  Take notes on your own reactions and responses while people are watching.  THAT, my friends, is how we are supposed to parent.  Let others be your constant accountability.