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.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Rainbows, Cotton Candy and Unicorns

What you saw/read in this post a few weeks ago was that Sugar, our chicken joined us for family devotions.
What you might think is, "look how sweet that family is having family devotions by the beautiful sunset outside as they all soak in the Word respectfully.
What you don't see is the wrestling match the boys are having, the distraction of the chicken, the dad who is not being listened to, and the mom who is having to correct someone every 3-5 seconds.
Our Colony has this funny thing we do.  I'm pretty sure we got it from a movie, but we all know I can't even keep up with the names of movies, much less a funny thing I hear in one!

It goes like this:
one of the kids gets frustrated, or something didn't quite go their way, or plans got cancelled/changed...and they are throwing a fit upset or sad.  It only takes one of us to say, "it's okay, just think about rainbows, cotton candy, unicorns" in a whimsical tone, to get their mind off of the travesty that just occurred.

Just saying this usually gets at least an eye roll but typically we all bust out in laughter and can move on in our day easily enough.

But this got me thinking.
Life isn't always rainbows, cotton candy and unicorns ( because these are obviously the most awesomest things one could have on the planet, right?!).

Some days your kids are going to be so overtaken by sin that you can hardly handle them.
Or your son runs away from school...again.
There are lost jobs.
Hurt feelings.
Another mouse that gets stuck in your wall that is going to die within the next day or two and should start smelling REALLY good by the time you get back from vacation.
Arguments between friends, family, spouses.
The pipes under your house back up into the faucets, toilets and showers...again.

Nobody is exempt from these sucky days.

But somewhere we get in our heads that EVERYbody else has it all together.
Or everybody else has the perfect children,
or the nicest house,
or the sweetest husband,
or the best job.

When actually the picture perfect couple on Instagram isn't even speaking to each other.

The kids that are always dressed perfectly with matching outfits and combed hair?  They are battling some pretty big heart issues.

The mom everyone desires to be like, who loves Pinteresting and thrives on crafting and cooking with the kids is dealing with dark depression.

The old high school friend who is pictured living it up every night of the week and having a blast, is one of the loneliest people around.

The flowery words written on social media boards, are merely a bandaid for keeping deep hurt at bay.

I know some of us post to look good and to get the instant gratification from "likes" and comments of how beautiful we are or that tell us how good we are doing.  But sometimes the picture is just a glimpse of relief in between the chaos and hardships of life.

I have been working on a project that has necessitated me going through some old posts (oh my gosh, my writing ya'll!  I sure didn't set the bar too high in my earlier days on this blog, ha!)  and I came across a post I wrote several years ago about taking a "Facebook fast".  Now, I wholeheartedly believe in "fasting" from social media, or other things of the like that may prevent you from being who you are called to be and that are causing Satan to have a foothold in your life.

I know, especially for women, comparison can creep up on us before we even know it and one of the biggest battlefields in our day (I believe) is social media, because it can be so easy to appear like we have it all together.

But let me remind you of something.

We aren't always free to post whatever we want to.
Actually, we are, which is a WHOLE other topic!
But we have to filter what we put out there to protect our families, our relationships, other people's feelings.  It just is what it is.

Let's use adoption as an example.  I have posted about some of the struggles and the process, but there are just some things that are not appropriate to write to protect my relationship with my daughter in the future or about HER past and story.  That is hers to tell.  So no, I am not completely transparent, but try to be brutally honest with a filter.

We can go on and on about the picture perfect family who always has matching clothes, but why WOULDN'T you want to share that moment in time when you actually had ALL the children dressed in clothing, WITH shoes on and half-way kept hair?!  It's a memory worth remembering and capturing, and I for one commend any mother who can accomplish that feat.

I talk a lot about "keeping it real" and being "authentic" but it must be within the realm of your personal/family filter.  I'm still learning this one.  My filter is much more loose than Josh's and he has to put me in check for some of the stuff I post.  And I need to be ok with that.

How about when we have had a terrible day with the kids and we talk about how exhausted we are or how thankful for the Public school system we are.  I mean YOU are.  I would NEVER say that about my kids, nope, not me.  It's harder to post things like that for fear of judgement from other moms.

And we all know we can't mention the "spank" or "discipline" word on the internet without having the real fear of someone turning you in to social services.  It's a REAL risk.

For the kid who ran away from school?  You can't be real and authentic with that information without putting the child or school or teachers at risk.

So instead, we post about the happier things in life, like my growing garden, or the chickens (you can never have enough Instagram photos of chickens!), or the project you completed, the that one time the kids all played sweet together outside.

I know I don't post JUST the happy things, but I do try to post honestly.  And it's not often that I post the meltdown moments.  They just don't make good pictures, you know?

So here's the takeaway from today's lesson:
Have a filter when you post.
You don't have to always have something funny or "good" to post about, but don't go out of your way to talk about how awesome your kid has been when you are actually about to drop them off at Goodwill or put them on Craigslist;)
Check yourself before lusting or judging someone else's life from what they posted.
It boils down to the heart.  The heart of the poster.  The heart of the reader.

And for the love, when your son poops on the floor again, or the car broke down again, or the toilet floods the bathroom, or the 6-year-old thought it would be a good idea to fill up cardboard boxes with water and carry them around the house, or the bill forgot to get paid and now you have a HUGE fee, or maybe you are just so done with life and your day just can't end quick enough...just post a picture of a chicken and call it a day

because we all know that life isn't just rainbows, cotton candy and unicorns.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In The Morning, When I Rise

The eggs the peppers the tomatoes the greens.  All from the Colony garden/chickens.
We haven't ventured into the cheese yet;)

It used to be that I would roll out of bed, wipe the sleep out of my eyes and quietly cozy up in my chair with my Bible, books, notebook and cup of hot coffee.  I would read until the natives got restless and/or time demanded for me to get up and get them ready for the day/school.

While none of this has changed over the years I have added a few other rituals to my pre-morning activities.

I finish my reading and giddily dive into my new responsibilities.
I roll up my jammy pants and hit the chores.  I walk around the yard and water all the plants and flowers, pruning the dead places as I go.  Then I head over to water the garden.  I have to check the tomato plants every morning to rid them of the caterpillars (that later become "treats" for the chickens).  I unwrap the cucumber vines from the peppers because SOMEONE planted them too close together.  Amateur.

Then I get to pick from the bounty within the little plastic perimeter containing my garden.

Next I move inside the chicken fence and unlock the coop to wake them up for the day.  There is always a cute little story to share with Areyna about how Bean jumped on my shoulder and wouldn't come off or how Serenity cocked her head to the right in the cutest way.  (these stories help her "happy heart" wake up in the morning)

Ah, the joys of farming.

I know it is comical, and we don't even have a "farm", but the fact that we have chickens that ACTUALLY make us eggs, and a garden that ACTUALLY produces something we can make into a an ACTUAL meal is absolutely blowing my mind this year!  And I have enjoyed every bit of taking care of these new found blessings to the Colony.