Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Photos

Jude checked out a Curious George book about Lemonade,
so of course we had to try our hand at hand-squeezed homemade lemonade!

Rainy's baking just gets better and better!
And now her goodies come with handwritten love letters for each recipient.

A good musician always places his favorite art on his pedal board.
So when the kids come home from school with their art on stickers
 Josh knows EXACTLY where to put them!

Lazy Saturday afternoons with Legos and Jemma are the best

Our tomatoes are hanging in there.

Another day at the lake soaking in some family time

A daddy and his not-so-baby-girl, holding hands, instigated by her.
A picture we will treasure forever!!!

Happy October
Happy Friday
Happy Family Day
Happy low anxiety day for mama, PTL!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How To Be The Martha HE Created You To Be ~ It ALWAYS Goes Back To The Heart

I've read the account of Mary and Martha from Luke 10 a million times and heard just as many sermons on this same account.

But I still can't get the Martha mentality out of my head.

Maybe because I have littles who are always asking about the next meal.
(Can I get an AMEN?!)
And if I don't make it they most likely aren't going to get it.
(At least not the good stuff!)
So I huff and I puff away in the kitchen...3 meals a day...for nearly 365 days a year.
(Because going out to eat with a family of 7...have you seen how my boys tend to act in public?!)
Ain't nobody got time to just sit around!

In this story I see a woman who knows that her LORD is outside and 100% sure that he is hungry.
She is torn.
She desperately wants to go out and sit at his feet, like her sister, and soak in all that He has to say, but knows full-well that dinner is NOT going to cook itself.

And if it doesn't get done now they aren't going to be able to eat until midnight!
(There aren't any prepared snacks or fast food restaurants right around the corner back then)
And she wants the BEST for her Savior.

So I get it!

God has made her a get-it-done kind of girl.
Who is very aware of her surroundings.

We are people who plan ahead.
We think about the full picture.
The clock is our best friend and worst enemy.

There are two things going on in this story that I think about every time I read/ hear it.

1 - I believe women (and men) like us will spend the rest of our lives fighting the get-it-done mentality when we need to work on the discipline of "being still" with the LORD (and yes, it is a discipline).  There is a time and a place for that FOR SURE (preferably every day!).

But today I want to hone in on number 2, which is:

I wonder, at the risk of taking another vantage point, if Jesus would have reprimanded Martha if she were to have been serving with a servant's heart.  Maybe it wasn't just about her stopping what she was doing to come and join them.  Maybe it was about the HEART behind her service.

If she would have been serving out of a heart of love and service like Christ commands us to serve so many times in the new testament, would she have been RIGHT WHERE SHE NEEDED TO BE?

Martha was said to be "distracted by all the preparations".  You can just see the bitterness and resentfulness flowing out of the words when she went out to Jesus and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!"

Martha wasn't serving with the right heart.  And of course the Lord could sense that.  Actually, He didn't even have to SENSE it.  She was pretty open about it.


...what if Martha would have been in the kitchen doing the thing that God had created inside of her to do.  She was a get-it-done kind of girl because that is the way God wired her (and me).  What if she would have been serving with a servant's heart.  I believe that if her heart would have been softened to serve out of love for her guest/Savior, and even her sister (that had chosen not to help her this time), that her heart would have been in the right place.

In this story Martha's mind was completely consumed with anger and resentment toward her sister.  I can only imagine the ugly things that were whirling around in her head about her "lazy" sister that "always made HER do all the work" as she prepared this meal.  Her mind was so full of thoughts of entitlement for herself and bitterness toward her sister. (It's a good thing these are all hypothetical thoughts, ahem...)

If only she would have been in the kitchen with an open heart and mind to serve like Jesus.  She would have then been in a posture to "work as unto the LORD" (Colossians 3:23) while allowing her heart and mind to be less consumed with the negativity toward her sister. Can you imagine the freedom she would have opened up in her heart and mind to hear, at a distance of course, the wise words of her savior just around the corner.  The wisdom.  The teachings.  The laughter.  The closeness.

Here is what the LORD is teaching me about the Martha he has created inside of me.

The only way I will be able to serve the way Jesus has exemplified for us to serve is by digging in against my natural flesh to do, do, do, but to find a way to be still with Him every day.  And it is then, and only then, that I can serve out of true love, the way a true servant should.  And IN that kind of serving I will be able to hear and feel the closeness of our Father right in the middle of all the serving.

It all goes back to the HEART.
It ALWAYS goes back to the heart.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Free-For-All ~ FREE Music, Eclipse, Family Gatherings, Art and More!

We have been re-growing some sweet potato slips from a sweet potato I'd been saving from the store and got to finally plant them this week!  I can't wait to see how they do in the Colony Garden!

Rainy told me that she has a special kind of love in her heart for our crippled chicken, Gimley.
I mean, look at how sweet she is cuddling with Rainy:)

Jude is our last to lose his first tooth...
in true Jude fashion he ran in from playing outside with his tooth in his hand
after pulling it out all on his own!
And then he ran off to play.
This kid needs us for NOTHING, ha!

Cai's "Mr. Bones" dabbing

Chive blossoms and Rosemary ~ the perfect fresh bouquet from the garden

Jude and his little people are my current favorite pictures these days.

Story time with Uncle Fro/Daddy.
Kaliyah loved Jude's little bed area and Josh's bedtime stories.

We had such a great time watching the eclipse.
We pulled the kids out of school early, gathered the other Via tribe and my parents
and enjoyed this experience together!

We had several different methods going because we only had 4 pairs of the glasses to pass around.
Jonathan made a pinhole projector out of paper.
We had a bucket of water that reflected the event.
We also made pinhole projectors out of cereal boxes.
Thanks for capturing some of these photos Kelly!
I covered my camera lens with foil, put a pinhole in it and covered it with the eclipse glasses.

 I've been catching Batman really digging in the word this week.
He will literally sit on our bed for HOURS reading the Bible.
But he decided to change it up and learn Ableton today, ha!
(silly Josh)

Jemma helped to keep Zeke company when he was sick with strep throat last week.

It's no secret that Jude has a difficult time respecting and submitting to authority.
We have really been cracking down on him and he has been working SO HARD this week.
So hard that he got up to PINK, the highest you can go on his color chart at school!
PTL, there is hope for him yet!

We had a fun gathering after the Uganda Via's flew in a few weeks ago.
And somehow Kelly was able to snag a photo of all of the kids!
Photo Cred: Kelly Via
 I have a few new friends who speak little to no English and this app
has been a LIFESAVER for being able to communicate with them!
I can now text them and sit next to them on the couch and carry on conversations with them.

Go get the "Speak & Translate" FREE App. to keep the translation barrier from getting in your way!

Our church just released a REMIX album of some of our original tunes.
Thanks for all your hard work on these, Eric Heflin.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Counting Eggs ~ Counting Blessings

It's the end of the month and I know for a fact that we aren't the only family who plays the what-can-we-create-from-our-remnants-in-the-pantry game to get by until the next paycheck.

(Please don't read this and rush out to get us a grocery gift card because our family is starving!  WE ARE FINE;)!  We get paid TONIGHT, woohoo!)

Ahem, back to my story.

As I was cleaning up breakfast and filling up our recycling bin with all the empty containers from finishing up many of the contents of the refrigerator and pantry, I stopped and looked in our bowl where we keep the eggs.  Empty.  Not a huge deal, but the newest ladies outside are still getting used to their new egg-laying job and the number of eggs we get are highly unpredictable.  So naturally I'm gonna pray for them to lay well this particular day.  I counted up the average daily egg requests and asked the Lord to give us 8 eggs for the following morning.

Fast forward to 3:45 when the kids walked home from school and Alethia begins telling me that her friend, Madison, told her that she loved seeing our cute chickens free-ranging in the yard on her way to school that day.  Sure enough, I look out the window and realized that FOUR of our more mature egg-layers had been out ALL.DAY.LONG.  How in the world did that happen?!  Zeke and I then spent the better part of the next 10 minutes chasing after rounding them up and grabbing them leading them back to the coop.  Egg-laying time was over so when I peeked in the coop to see how many eggs God had blessed us with I counted in anticipation.

One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  Five.

It would have been so cool to have seen the exact 8 eggs that I had prayed for, but after realizing that 4 main egg-layers had escaped their responsibilities that day I wasn't surprised.

At breakfast this morning we began taking egg orders.  I didn't say a word about how many eggs we had in the bowl.  And wouldn't you know, we were able to fulfill all the desired egg orders!  Nobody went without their desired egg and everyone had just enough to eat to fill their bellies from breakfast.  Josh even made us adults delicious omelets with the leftover eggs.

I tell you this for a couple of reasons.

One, I prayed to a great big God about my silly request for 8 eggs.  I prayed specifically and in full faith that God could allow us to get 8 eggs.  But I also prayed in Jesus name, which means I prayed with open hands, knowing that ultimately God knows what we need more than I do.  So, regardless of the outcome, I knew that God was in control.

God wants us to bring our requests to Him, no matter how small and insignificant it seems.

Two, God answered my prayer.  Not with the 8 eggs that I asked for, but with JUST WHAT WE NEEDED for the next day...and He accomplished it with 4 of our main egg-layers out playing hooky all day!  My mind immediately went to this verse:

"...for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Matthew 6:8

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Story In Pictures ~ Friday Night's With The Colony

Josh and I have been on a new adventure for finding family fun outside of technology.
(That is a worth a whole other post.  
Technology has taken a back burner in the Colony Casa these days,
and we couldn't be happier about this mutual decision.)

On a typical Friday night you could find us cuddled up in the family room, watching a family-friendly movie, eating our homemade pizza in the past.

But we wanted to branch out a little bit to intentionally engage with each other.

And in doing so we have found a new favorite spot...
Sandling Beach on Falls Lake.

You only have to pay for parking ($6/car, but even last week when we went it was FREE parking!)

The view is gorgeous,
the beach is big enough not to feel crowded,
picnic tables make it easy to have a picnic dinner,
and it stays open long enough to watch the sunset together before showering off and heading home.

It's the next best thing to a day trip to the beach!

Jude calls this his "dolphin jump".  He is FINALLY venturing out into the deep(er) side of the water.

creativity at its best

***The website says that dogs are allowed, hence all the photos with Jemma,
but after arriving we saw no-dog signs posted on the border of the beach area.
Needless to say, Jemma hasn't made a recurring appearance.***

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cai Turns EIGHT

Eight years ago this kid stole another piece of my heart
(a mama has lots of pieces ya know).

He may have cried through the entire first year of his existence,
but has been working full-time to bring laughter all around him ever since.

He loves to give gifts.
He loves to GET gifts.

He is very descriptive,
loves telling (and hearing) stories,
and illustrating them.

Arts, crafts, Minecraft and Legos are among his favorites these days.

He can be really sensitive toward others.
He is a loyal friend.

And he is FINALLY learning to get along with both of his brothers
(for the most part).

Playing jokes and tricking us definitely keeps him sharp.
And I love hearing his little daily facts that he brings home from school every day.

He is still V-E-R-Y particular with his clothing, but we have branched out people!
He now has a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that he has allowed into his 1-outfit rotation that is soccer-playing appropriate
(which also conveniently allows for more washings of the 1-outfit mentioned before).

And wouldn't you know, he STILL lets me nibble his cheeks at bed time.

Cai (because we're only allowed to call you Cai-bo in front of family and at home now;),
You are a joy to be around and I love to be called "Cai's mom".  I hope you always try to make people laugh.  We continue to pray that you will be a man who only speaks truth, following after the heart of God.  Happy Birthday sweet boy!
Love, mom

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Photos

Jemma, meet the ladies.  Ladies, meet Jemma.
So far they are all scared enough of each other to keep everyone...alive, ha!

Zeke loving on his Jemma girl.

Colony baseball consisted of a broken desk leg as the bat and a beat-up baseball that met our lawnmower last week.

Field sledding on the hill with the wagon.

Jude and Cai were fighting discussing who got to hold the handle and the designated seating arrangement...
they BOTH won, lol.

Mr. Daredevil himself.  Never a feat too dangerous or too exciting for this guy.
And if you think I'm kidding,
just start taking inventory of his scrapes, bruises and scars from the ones that didn't end so well.

Friday, July 28, 2017

We Made It To Friday

This week has been one of those weeks where you just wake up every day and pray that God will give you what you need to make it to Friday.

My whole body is exhausted.

Every time I sit down my eyes get heavy and by breathing gets deep.

From family coming home from Uganda and staying with us for a few days, to my parents moving to a home right here in Raleigh, to getting used to a brand new puppy, to soccer try-outs, to school activities, to a local mission trip right across the street with another sister church, life has just been busy.

A good busy.

This is not a typical season for our family.  We are used to lots of white space and margin.  This ensures that we have enough of ourselves to give to all of life's unexpected things that tend to come to us on a daily basis. But sometimes life just happens all at once, so we just embrace the crazy and remind ourselves not to get swept up in the lie that life is supposed to stay this speed.

So yes, we enjoyed my brother and sister in law and their 5 girls (and baking-in-belly boy).  The cousins kept each other entertained and us adults...well, I could sit around the campfire outside all night with them.

As I write this my parents are doing the final walk-through in their new home in Wendell before closing!  I canNOT believe this is actually happening.  What a whirlwind couple of months for them as they traveled back and forth looking for a home in a market that is moving this quickly.

Jemma, oh Jemma, she has really grown on me.  Not that I didn't ever think she was completely adorable, but the more she obeys (and goes to the door to pee outside all on her own!) the more she steels my heart.

Cai was in tears all the way up to getting out of the car for soccer try-outs.  He was full of excitement and nerves all at the same time.  But he rocked his try-outs, didn't even mind that he had to wear a different outfit;) and is pumped for practice to begin.

The highlight, for sure, was the VBS we did in the mobile home neighborhood right across the street from us where many of our kid's friends from school live.  We partnered with our friends at Exchange Church who have been building relationships with the families for a year or so and joined in with our own passion to reach the families in our own Rolesville community.  We split up the kids by age group and set up three stations; Bible story, craft and games. We also opened and closed each evening as a group singing and learning our verse.  The parents were also invited to a short ESL class during the evenings which was exciting to watch grow in attendance every night.  We capped off the week with a Block Party last night for the entire family with free food, snow cones, popcorn, bouncy houses and soccer, of course

This little dude is actually in Jude's class at school and his older brother is in Zeke's class!

Rainy and her daddy leading worship
Instead of canceling band rehearsal last night, Josh just rounded up the Journey Worship team and had rehearsal at the park for the night which was so amazing!

I was in charge of the middle-aged group of kids.  The very first night there was a boy who, while hearing the story of creation, jumped up and exclaimed, "GOD made EVERYTHING?!"  He had clearly never heard this before and it brought tears to my eyes.  He couldn't even pronounce half the words in our Bible verse the first night and by the end of the second night he was helping OTHER kids remember it!  It was SO cool to see his excitement.

Last night during the block party I ganged up with a crew of middle school boys on the soccer field.  About 20 minutes in one of the boys fell down with a hurt ankle.  I stood over by him until he was ready to get up and made sure that he was alright before I started playing again.  A few minutes later he ran over to me and said, "Hey Miss, what's your favorite color?".  I told him that I loved blue and he just smiled and ran off.  After several minutes he came running up to me with a purple snow cone saying apologetically, "Sorry, this is the closest to blue I could get."  Oh.My.Gosh.  My heart melted and my eyes were immediately opened to this opportunity I had right in front of me.  See, earlier that day I had been praying specifically for a clear, open opportunity to share the gospel that night.  God knows my strengths, my weaknesses and my passions and gave me a wide open door.  I LOVE soccer, I love playing with those kids (even though they school me!) and I desperately want those boys to love Jesus.  So after T handed me my snow cone we stood on the sidelines with a couple of his buddies and got to have some simple gospel conversation with them.

And now, I'm off to go to the school to dance with the kids for National Dance Day before heading over to my parents new home for pizza movie night.

The days have been long, the nights have been short, and I am very much anticipating my Sabbath Saturday to soak it all in.

Happy Friday ya'll!