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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Just Picture Dirty Underwear

After posting my fun Pinteresty project this week I realized what it might look like.
What misconceptions may follow.
The appearances of a life you wish you had (Don't be jealous of the always-begging-for-food-six-year-old or the 3-year-old-who-thought-he-ruled-the-house, or the ever present six-year-old-girl-drama.  I KNOW you just want to dive into my shoes reading this, ha!).

Because I KNOW that appearances (especially on the internet, because the internet lacks context much of the time) can be a beast.

You typically see a clean home around here.  I am a perfectionist to a fault and am working very hard on loosening up the reigns in this area for the sake of the entire Colony.

And I do cook every night (not necessarily because I'm super mom, but would YOU want to be at a restaurant with this crazy Colony on an evening when you are getting away from YOUR crazy Colony to enjoy a quiet dinner?  I think not!  Don't you remember how they acted at the wedding?!)

Anyway, I realized that posting fun projects could make others feel inferior, or give a sense of not-good-enough, or make you envy my life because I had the time, money/resources to do said project, or simply compared to me you are a failure as a mom or wife.  And these thoughts all stemmed from one project that I began and actually completed, and then shared (with the intent on inspiring you to see that you can make something beautiful all by yourself, with much of what you already have around your home).

Those are just a few things that, hypothetically of course, have passed through my mind after seeing a friend unfold a beautiful creation (like reupholstered chairs) or completed an amazing feat (like a triathlon).  The feelings of inadequacy can rise so quickly that it can become very difficult to bring them back into submission.


I thought I'd share what the rest of my life was like while I admittedly got carried away into the land of happy pinteresting.

My house was left with much to be desired.  I didn't clean an inch of my house all week.

We had piles of toys stacked up in every room of the house that I neglected to find homes for each night because I was too tired to do clean-up time with the kids.

The stack of mail and bills grew overwhelmingly high on top of my desk.

The chicken coop cleanup was WAY overdue (as I'm sure Ed and Lois, our neighbors, could tell you as they sat on their porch, downwind).

The garden took a seat on the back burner and my cucumber plants even died out.  (that was a sad day:(

The laundry took 2 entire days to catch up on and the kids were left to rummage through clean laundry piles to find an outfit for the next day. We had dirty underwear piled up in the boys room for days!  Actually, this one isn't that unfamiliar, ha!

Jude memorized the entire first season of Daniel Tiger. *gasp*

And the cooking.  Well if it had more than 3 ingredients and took more than 15-20 minutes prep, it was not made this particular week!

I really could go on about the embarrassing state of the Colony household and food intake that week. And maybe the lack of parenting that occurred in my distracted state.  But honestly, it is all part of the fun, right?!  We let everything go to dive headfirst into something, hanging on for dear life until it is complete.  And then pick back up where we left off as we resume our normal schedules and routines (which may take a while depending on how long the project lasted).

All this to say, I don't know too many people who can do it all!
We don't have the capacity to do it all.
Because then we wouldn't have any reason to rely on God and his power and grace to get us through.
(and I'm not just talking about completing Pinterest projects here!)

So, next time you see someone with the "perfect" ANYthing on the internet, remember that you don't have the full context of their beautiful life and that they are in need of the Savior and his grace, just as much as you are.  (And it doesn't hurt to mentally picture their seemingly perfect lives with dirty underwear piled up in the corner just to help solidify this reality:)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Another Transformation - The Birth Of A Pergola: Part 2 - The Details

Here are some of the necessary details to help this project come together.

We scoured the yard for rock and brick to help level the deck all around.

The lattice to fill in the gaps in the wood.
To the right you can see where we need to add the rest of the lattice.

The floating pallets help give options for expanding the area for different occasions and views.

I found some extra burlap for curtain ties, and used the tablecloth packaging for two more.

~candles and color~
Two of my favorite things!
(they are a must for repelling bugs anyway, ha!)

the tension rods to go around the upper perimeter

outdoor lighting

I found the hanging planters at the Dollar Store
I made the other two out of extra rocks and bricks around the yard.
We'll see how hardy these ferns are:)

Besides covering the top eventually,
we still need to find some kind of plexiglass or plastic cover for the table and benches to keep water from sitting in the crevices of the doors table/benches

And that wraps up my project of the month!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Another Transformation - The Birth Of A Pergola: Part 1-The Construction

The Picnic Table

I had an idea in my head of a beautiful space for outdoor eating on crisp, fall nights.
All we needed was a picnic table, benches and everything else to make it a reality.
One night while I was supposed to be sleeping I got looked over to the door propped up in our room as a "decoration" with lights draping down and saw our table!

So I dragged it down the hallway and found the other one that had been in our shed since we moved into the house.  They were originally the doors that opened up to our "foyer".

Then I went to the store, found some outdoor paint in a color I liked (blue of course)
bought a couple of beams for $7/each and began the project.

I hammered and banged off the striped screws took off the hinges and doorknobs
sanded down the rough edges and cleaned the surfaces.
Picked a side and spray painted a couple of coats.

Next I googled the standard size of table and bench legs and cut them to size.

I asked Josh to saw the other door in half longways, much to his dismay and puzzled looks:)
And within a day we had our table and benches.

We carried them around back to the place I envisioned our "space" to be
and began mentally putting other pieces together.

The Deck/Future Pergola

Next was to gather pallets from the local hardware store and other places who were eager to get rid of their "junk".  I had seen a picture on Pinterest of a pallet deck, but knew that I'd have to do a lot of board rearranging on those pallets to make it work, and ain't nobody got time for that.  At least this colony mom sure didn't.  So I opted for some siding board pretreated for roofing and siding.  I bought 2 sheets, although I really needed 3 to cover the entire "deck", but I'm on a budget so I'd figure something else out for the extra slots on the sides.  I found 2 sheets at $18/sheet.

The next step was to level the ground and pallets.
Which was a beast to do by myself (especially those heavy posts!), 
but my hubby told me that leveling is sexy so I dug in my heals (literally) 
and leveled that mug until it was flat, ha!

The posts were husband approved, but the deck floor left much to be desired, 
so Josh volunteered to help me out, cursing the fact that I insist on using "imperfect pieces" to make my creations.  I just told him to embrace those imperfections because that was going to be the thing that gave our space its character.  Am I right?!

Next was the painting, which we already had on hand.

And then the FUN began!
Adding the final touches to our project.

This has happened in stages.
(remember I still am a mom and wife)

I painted 3 extra pallets to add as "floating" decks to place other chairs on 
or maybe to house the grill 
or even the kid's picnic table if we have LOTS of people over.
This just gives us some options
(for the times when I feel the urge to rearrange and now-permanent structure;).

Meanwhile, I had found a solution to the space-between-wooden-slats problem.
I had picked up some plastic trellis from my parents barn a few months back and wouldn't you know that it not only dresses up the space 
but keeps us from breaking our ankles in our excitement to get to the table, ha!
(we still have to put some more down,  
we just haven't gotten around to cutting it to fit the other sides.)

I spent right at $100 for the entire structure and table/benches.
I had some of the drapes in my home already so all I needed were a couple more drape panels and some color.  I found 2 long table clothes at sewed the top to make curtains for the backdrop.  Bought a few tension rods and 2 hanging baskets at the Dollar Store.  I'd also been waiting patiently for a sale or clearance offer on the lights which I found at target.  Two strands work perfectly to add to our space around the fire pit.  

Altogether this entire project was right around $140.

Tomorrow I'll be showing some more of the details and 
final touches I've added since the initial creation was built.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Magic Minute - 3:30pm

Our Squad just read a book called "Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Stafford.  I have to admit that it wasn't my favorite book of all times, but there were definitely some step-on-your-toes moments.  I was also able to take away a few tips that will become a normal part of my routine as a mama living a more intentional life.  I'd like to share one of them with you.

You know when "they" tell you that in order to get good sleep you need to start winding down your day (and body) 30 minutes to an hour before actually getting in bed?  That means getting off electronics and putting the final touches on the to-do list for the next day.  These small actions help you mentally unwind, allowing your body to become more relaxed, making it easier to fall asleep peacefully.

While reading this book I was prompted to think through my day at some of the most stressful times in my day, and for me it is the time between the kids getting home from school and the time dinner finally gets placed on the table.  I have 4 kids to help with homework while browning the ground beef, snacks to juggle while cooking the rice, papers to sign while chopping the veggies, folders to empty while scraping the bottom of the pan that I just burned from the overly-browned ground beef (I really have an issue with multitasking stove-top activities and anything else;), and...Jude to manage.  I tend to start commanding instead of asking, talking loudly instead of tenderly, and getting unrealistically impatient.

I decided that I wanted to try to eliminate some of those not-so-good mama moments by being a little more proactive prior to the kids rushing the backdoor demanding their favorite snack.  So I gave myself a mental cut-off time to begin winding myself down and getting ready for the Colony and the needs they have for their mama.

For me, the time is 3:30pm.
This gives me a good 15-20 minutes to unwind mentally from the tasks I've been pouring into and shift to the next part of my day.  Meaning, less distractions and more intentional focus on the kids.

I CANNOT be in the middle of a deep post, or balancing the dwindling bank account, or settling insurance claims on the phone and expect to be mentally capable of being the mom I need to be when the kids get home from school, so I need to plan accordingly.

I want to be finished with projects by 3:30 or at least getting to a stopping place.
I want to have as much dinner prep done by that time as well.
I try to have the house picked up enough so I'm not tripping over toys before 4 more Colony kids walk through the door, adding to the chaos.

At 3:30 I want to be winding down and mentally preparing for the second half of the day.
This isn't always feasible but it is the goal that I work toward every day.  And I don't always make it a priority and it is on those days that I pay for it in meltdowns by everyone involved, including me!

This time not only helps ME but it gives the kids an easier afternoon because their mom is typically more mentally and emotionally present.  Plus it allows Jude and I some snuggle time on the hammock as we wait for the kids to walk through the field:).

Do you have a time(s) in the day where you can almost count on the blood pressure rising or the panic setting in from being overwhelmed or completely stressed out?  Maybe you can set up some boundaries for yourself to help eliminate the distraction to be able to focus on what is important at that specific time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Family Camp 2015 ~ Review

first day of camp

The Colony had the privilege of being a part of Macedonian Call Ministries, Family Camp.

We have close ties to the families who began this great ministry so we are a little bias, but deep friendships aside, this was a week that our family will not soon forget.
15 Years of friendships and 3 quivers full
After being contacted by one of the families to see if we were interested in being a part of the week, we were a little confused.  Usually this means packing up all the music gear, putting a band together, and making sure our kids are taken care of so that we can minister to the attendees.

But not this time!
This time we got the leave the instruments and guitar picks behind, actually I still saw a few floating around our living space, but our sole purpose for attending this camp was to be a family and grow spiritually together.
Instead of music gear, we had boys clothes EVERYWHERE!
It also happened to be at the college where Josh and I attended and we were able to drive around and show our kids where we fell in love, the place we had our first date (and basically stared at each other eating for an hour) and the area we made our first home together.
The site of our first date

I know my kids had a blast.  Here is the proof:

They lived off of the cafeteria pizza and Lucky Charms.  So much so, that Jude actually began calling the cafeteria, "The Lucky Charms", ha!

I could write so much about this wonderful week, but bullet points usually get us farther in a blog setting, so here it goes:

  • We LOVED getting to have family worship experiences with our kids because usually Josh and I are on stage away from the questions of our kids.  We were enabled to have times to teach them how to hold still during a service and to listen to teaching which I think is VERY important.  We just haven't had many opportunities to be able to do this as a family.
  • The camp allowed us to meet other families who are seeking the Lord and His leading for their families.
  • Each family is assigned a "family assistant", but because of the size of our family we had two awesome young adults/teenagers who served and loved our family all week long.  Our family assistants, Noel and Jackson, became part of our family that week.  They took our kids (Jude) out if they were restless during the teaching, they helped lead the family devotion times, they cleaned up spills and stood in line for 30 minutes to get our kids ice cream (a huge thank you;), they helped us with group activities.  I enjoyed every minute of my time with them.  In fact, I still keep in contact with a handful of the staffer assistants from the camp and I believe we have forged some deep friendships that will last a lifetime! (we can't wait to see you Tammy and Noel!!!)
  • The planned activities were family focused and were all intentionally planned to create talking opportunities and bonding within your own family unit.
  • The family teaching as well as the parent teaching (when the kids went to their age-appropriate classes) was excellent.  Everything was based on God's definition of Biblical family and the importance of the family unit. 
  • I loved that a service project was part of the week, giving our families a chance to love on other families in the community!  THAT, my friends, is the church.
  • My favorite time was the prayer night.  The staff had set up the main gathering place with fancy tables and decorations and prepared desserts in a restaurant atmosphere.  Each family "checked in" with the hostess who showed us to our table and we got to enjoy our evening snacks.  This lead into a super special prayer time where the head of the household was able to go around and pray with each of the people in his family.  I might have cried a lot:-)
I really can't say enough positive things about our experience.
And I'm happy to say that we have a jar saving our pennies so that we can go again next year!

We'd love to see you there.

Check out the website and please contact me with any questions.

It is NEVER a waste of time and money to spend time with your family and learn how to move forward in your spiritual walks together.

We were all exhausted in the best possible way!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Another Pile Of Stones

The past week and a half has absolutely blown me away.

God has shown off in so many areas of our lives that I can't seem to muster up any other words to say to Him but "thank you".

He has provided so many needs of ours in BIG ways.
He has even provided some things that weren't necessarily needs but certainly has made life easier and happier even (like a date night AND the childcare for it!).

He has used His body to act and give and share and encourage.
Those people will never know just how timely their love on our family has been and continues to be.

So today I just keep whispering thank you with an overflowing, grateful heart.

He IS the God who provides.
He IS the God who sees.
He IS the God who knows when to lavish and when to restrain the blessings.

Today I've sighed so many sighs of relief that I can't even count.

This isn't a post to brag or tell you have perfect our life is.
And it's DEFINITELY not a post to tell you that believers will always eventually get everything they ask for, because that would be a lie.

It is a post written to help me remember how God listens to the little and the big cries of our hearts.
Because one day I'm going to be crying out again, feeling like I can't even keep my head above water, and I will read this and remember.  In every season God is good, and it's when He gives us these moments of relief and rest that we build up our stones, our Ebenezer's of remembrance, of His goodness and faithfulness.

So I'm just gonna keep piling up these stones.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When Daddy's Out

When I find myself alone in the evenings because Josh is at rehearsal, or the Tavern doing open mic nights to build relationships with other musicians outside of the church HOT is that;), or at the library doing research, or in his "mind palace" working on another school deadline, or overseas doing ministry, or in another state doing ministry, or down the street doing ministry...

I miss him.

Yes.  I truly miss him.
Especially during witching hour the hours between 4-8.  Can I get an AMEN?!


There are just some things that I find myself only doing when I am flying solo.

For example, I've heard many women talk about how they don't sleep well when their husbands are gone...well, not to burst your bubble babe, but I happen to LOVE sleeping all sprawled out across every corner of the bed (I typically find myself laying shortways [is that even a word?!] across the bed when I wake up) with pillows surrounding and piled high on top of me.  It is absolutely blissful.  So blissful if fact, that I have a hard time allowing the kids to come "cuddle" with me in bed because I don't want to waste a single minute of sprawling time. #confession

I also tend to be way more productive in the kitchen.  I'll prepare fruits and veggies for the next several days.  I'll make obscene amounts of salsa and guacamole (and then consume the afore mentioned obscene amounts of salsa and guacamole).  I'll do dinner prep for the next day.  Pack lunches.

All while listening to techno club music.

I also seem to find things to organize when Josh is out.  It's like the closets and cabinets begin calling my name or something!

And I unashamedly tend to rearrange AT LEAST one thing in the house (which is probably one reason God didn't give me a child who was blind).

All while listening to soothing ambient electronic sounds.

I watch way more Netflix when I don't have another human sitting next to me to listen as I use up the rest of my daily words.

But on the other hand, I use way more anti-stress and anxiety oil blends than when I have a helping hand around (see I really do miss you;).

What do you tend to do when you are left to fend for yourself in the evenings?