Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Photos

I have never been so sad to see a track-out come to an end,
but SO thankful for the memories we have made over the past few weeks!

Lounging in the kiddie pool on the front porch...fully clothed of course

Zeke has been working on a new movie and I must say,
he does a REALLY great job directing this crew!
I love little barefeet

Admiring herself after a few hours at the Colony Salon


I love how Josh enters into THEIR world with them

Always. Chasing. The. Chickens.

I love her silhouette

RIP Bubbles. Just days after this was taken Bubbles the Beta Fish escaped out of this world.

Josh introducing his boys to The Lord of the Rings

My view for longer than I can remember.
But the project is complete and turned in.  Defense is on April 4th!

Sunsets that appear to be painted in the sky

Blueberry blossoms

Lazy spring afternoons
They are always so resourceful, ha!

If I could sum up the past 3 weeks in one photo

Monday, March 20, 2017

When Worship Isn't What It Ought To Be

"Do you get a better worship experience up there 
(pointing to the stage) or out here?"

This is the question a friend of mine asked me while I sat on the back row of "the space" at Journey church during a service with my kids, Zeke and Rainy.  I only play 2 times a month (sometimes 3) so the other weekends are spent on the back row sitting with my two oldest kids, where Josh can easily slip in and out between sets.  I didn't even hesitate when I answered him, but the question keeps circulating around in my mind.

"Its really the same" I replied,  
"I just get to worship with my instrument up there and out here I get to use my voice."

I wouldn't change my answer a bit, but I might have expounded on it if I had had the time.

The worship doesn't change depending on HOW I worship, or WHERE I worship.  The thing that DOES change worship is my heart.

Anybody can go through the motions of worship, even the people under the illuminating lights on the stage.  That is why Josh preaches to the team so earnestly about the importance of our own personal heart preparation before standing on the platform every week.

If we look back at the original plan God had set up for Israel's people, we see that he gave them tangible action, through sacrifices, to accompany a repentant heart.  But after years and years of performing these sacrifices, they became just that...a performance.  Their hearts were no longer engaged with their actions of worship. 

Isaiah 1 is a very sobering account of the LORD's reaction to this shift from the heart worship He longed to receive.

"The multitude of your sacrifices-
what are they to me? says the LORD...
Stop bringing meaningless offerings!...
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them."

Then, in Matthew 23, Jesus is found warning those who had fallen prey to DOING all the right things without changing the course of the heart in the process.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded,
you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are."
"You give a tenth of your spices...but neglected the more important matters of the law-
justice, mercy and faithfulness."
"You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed
and self-indulgence.  
Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."

The worship experience can be the same on a bathroom floor where I lock myself in for a moment of peace with God (hypothetically speaking, of course;), under a tree out in a distant village with a small group (church) of people, in the woods far away, in the seat of an auditorium with thousands of other likeminded believers, sitting in the back row of a service with my kids or up on stage under the bright lights...but ONLY if the heart is in it.

A worship experience will only bring to it what you put into it.
God wants all of you.
And all of you begins in your heart.
The other "actions" of worship simply follow from that overflow.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Photos

Because I'm working on simplifying,

because I'm working on less voices in my life
in order to hear more clearly HIS voice,

because putting down my phone 
and picking up my REAL camera tends to slow me down,

I have been simply enjoying my life
through the lens of my camera.

I am so very far from being a "photographer"
(besides, I don't ever really want the pressure of that title anyway)
and I don't really know how to capture what is in my head 
during the editing process with my limited resources and lack of knowledge,

but I LOVE photos, and color, and capturing sweet moments of my life.
And so often I miss those moments,
or on the other hand, want to bottle them up to keep forever.

So I will probably be posting more photos for a while.

Not because I need affirmation as a photographer,
not because I'm trying to have award winning shots,
but simply to help me count the blessings,
even the everyday little things,
that so often go unnoticed.

Josh's Bible. The worn out pages. The words that have spoken to his heart.

Library day. Zeke and Jude reading so sweetly together on the hammock on a beautiful day.

Rainy and her beloved Daisy.  She bought her hamster with her own money.  She has brought so much joy to the Colony.

Jude busy at work on a project after watching the workers demo our bathroom.

Daddy's day off means undivided attention from the man who we all miss so much during the week.

My handsome Cai-bo with the most gorgeous hair!

Planting a garden together in the ghetto tire that is in our backyard, ha!

Jude and Cai worked together on this contraption.
The connected the hose to the bottom of this swimming noodle and it would shoot the marbles out.

I love pictures of splashing water. I don't know why.
Maybe it is action being held still that makes it so intriguing to me.

Chicken watching and book reading

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Another Transformation ~ of the bathtub variety

Our Master Bathroom has been out of commission for about 9 months in our home,
so all 7 of us have been sharing our guest hallway bathroom.
(Don't worry, I'll share this story as soon as our bathroom is DONE!!! It is looking AMAZING!)

I have tried to keep this bathroom clean but there have been certain elements that I simply have NEVER been able to make clean.

Check out these before and after pictures!

For example:
This silicone glue that has been stuck onto the tile since before we moved into this home.

So has this grout and mortar

Then there is this paint that I, ahem, I mean, SOMEBODY carelessly didn't see to clean up.

The bathtub has been full of splattered paint, caulk, and who knows what else, just STUCK to the bottom.  No matter how hard I scrubbed I just couldn't get it clean.

Until last night when I got out my Norwex cleaning paste, the Norwex Spirinett and then wiped it down with my Norwex Bathroom Scrub Mitt! I mean, I know I sell this stuff and I know it works, but I literally could NOT believe the difference!

We still have to strip the old caulk from around the tub and replace it, but man what a difference!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sitting In The Dark

A few days ago a certain colony member (who will be left unnamed, ahem) decided that he no longer needed to adhere to the Colony parents rules about electrical sockets.  You know, the ones you begin teaching your children as soon as they become mobile.  Ya'll, sometimes I think our kids gain a year of life and somehow begin forgetting some of the basic rules of survival we began teaching them when they were first born.  Like, shirts and shoes in cold weather will keep them warm (shocking, I know!), eating a healthy meal will mean you won't be hungry 10 minutes after your meal (again, earth shattering stuff here), and wrestling in the living room and running around in circles with a multitude of children in the house will always, always result in tears (Josh may or may not still be learning this one too).


Anyway, it lead to what COULD have been a huge deal (like a burned down house!) but thankfully God had other plans.  However, we WERE left in the dark for a couple of days until I could make it out to the hardware store and replace the damaged cord and guide it to a different electrical socket (because "electrician" does NOT fit into this Colony Mom's job description).

This problem affected the lighting in our dining room, which is where we eat our meals, do school, sweeping and mopping, homework, crafting with friends, sweeping and mopping, dinner with friends, reading, writing, and oh, did I mention sweeping and mopping...we basically spend a huge majority of our day here at this table and in this room.  The other issue is that the dining room light also provides light into the adjoining rooms of the house to help brighten those dark areas.  So on cloudy, rainy days like today we were forced to relocate to a brighter area in the house, away from the darkness and shadows, and into the light that could illuminate Areyna's math problems and Jude's dotted lines for school.

The thing is, we hadn't really thought about the lighting in this particular room until it was gone.  When we first relocated our dining room table to this particular area we had to figure out how to lighten the room bright enough for us to see our food at dinner.  But I had a plan for lighting by the time we actually made this move, so we never really felt the effects of the lighting dilemma...until now.

The darkness of our home over the past couple of days just so happened to coincide with a darkness that came over myself.  Once again I found myself in a mental battle, fighting for light and truth.  Reciting Scripture and an attitude of prayer are the weapons I have prepared for times like this.

Me and a couple of my brother-in-laws are memorizing a large chunk of Scripture together.  The words in the chapter I am on have NOTHING to do with mental illness, depression or anxiety.  The words are not about His closeness, or standing strong.  They don't speak on how He does not slumber because he is watching over me or His beautiful plan for my life.

But they are words of Truth.  And these words of Truth shed light from the actual source of them, and then pour into the source that lives within me.  They are words of the Story that God is writing and He promises that its utterances will never return void.  And because I know how this chapter ties into the rest of the story, I also KNOW with all my heart that He DOES draw me close, He IS my keeper who does not slumber, and He DOES have a beautiful plan for my life.

The source of the light is always there, inside, I just can't always see or feel the result of it.

Depression and anxiety hardly ever give notice that it is coming.  All of a sudden the darkness just comes sweeping in like a wave, carrying its victims out to sea.

Don't be caught off guard until one day you are just sitting in the dark.

Live out the truth in the light so that when you ARE in the dark you know what to do.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Story In Pictures: #EFL2017 (because I simply don't have the words yet)

I cannot put into words all that is stirring in my soul after this past week in DC at the ERLC conference.

A few words keep circulating over and over...
Overwhelmed with gratitude.

But it all just sounds too cliche.

The trip itself was amazing. Something this weary mama needed.

We finally entered this century and are now pros at calling an Uber.  Well I'm not, but Josh has it down now, ha!
I mean, this guy looks sexy just waiting on an Uber!
I could go on and on about the venue we stayed at and played in.  The sights from the room where we ate our meals was breathtaking!
Photo credit: Josh Smyth

The first floor lobby of our hotel, outside, our room and a "green room"

I could tell you about all the fantastic sights we saw and the history we absorbed.

Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the White House 
Metro, Union Station and Capitol

World War II Memorial
Photo Credit: Patrick Downing - Selfies inside of Union Station
I could tell you about the homeless man we met and got to pray with named William.  And how we met up with him a couple days later and our prayers had been answered with a YES! (His personal story is so sweet.  I'll have to share it one day.)

I could talk about how amazing it is to get to lead worship with these gifted musicians who have become part of our family after playing with some of them for nearly a decade!

we almost had to have an acoustic rehearsal because #technicaldifficulties
Photo Credit: Kelly Via, watching from Her home in Uganda

Photo Credit: Kelly Via

Photo Credit: Rocket Republic
Photo Credit: Rocket Republic
I could talk about the protests that went on outside of the venue where we were leading.
Photo Credit: Travis Motley

Or the realization that we were in DC at a very pivotal point in American History with all that is going on politically and with our people.

The snipers on the surrounding rooftops while Vice President Pence spoke at the March For Life Rally

Getting lost in the sea of people as we waded through the crowds during the rally

I could confess to the photos I shot from the couch while all these respected men and women went in and out of the green room preparing for their sessions or panels.  But we all know that I'd NEVER do that, unless my girlfriends from home were peer pressuring me to see who all was there, ha!  I mean, who wants to be THAT PERSON taking selfies with all these well-respected leaders?!

I did get the nerve to ask a couple of people for photos that we spent a little more time with and there were several others who made such an impact on me like Sharen Ford and Jackie Hill Perry.
Glenn Packiam - a worship leader hero of ours
I got to sit and chat with Lauren Chandler, Matt Chandler's wife, for a little bit (even after confessing that I really didn't know ANYTHING about her) and talk about family and ministry
Russell Moore, one of the sweetest and most genuine men you will meet. We respect him so much!
Leta Sue from Focus On The Family, who finally made the connection that she is friends with my mom!
I could even talk about how overwhelming it is to really let myself think about how we are all on the same team, fighting the same fight, with the main focus being to share the gospel of Christ to a broken and hurting world, no matter what gender or nationality. Or how young or old.

But for now, pictures will just have to suffice.
Because right now I can't get my mind to focus and quiet itself to even begin to process all that the Holy Spirit is doing within.

Heavenly Father,
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I am so very grateful for your graciousness that allowed us this opportunity and I pray for the boldness to fulfill in obedience what you are asking of me after all that I have heard and seen.

The event is over but you can still go back and watch all the sessions
HERE and sign up under the simulcast link and "View On Demand".