Monday, March 2, 2015

Acknowledging the Label While Allowing God to Write the Definition

We have been on a long road with our Zeke.

I believe with all my heart that the Lord has called him to greatness for the Kingdom.
I believe that God's plan for Zeke's life is HUGE.
I believe that Satan has, can and will try to derail him any chance he gets as a result of this.
I believe that Zeke was fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, just like every other member of our family.

We have a Zeke journal that we have kept since he was two years old.
This journal documents ways that the Lord has spoken through Zeke and directly to Zeke.
There are things in that journal that can only be explained by God.

There is somethings special about that boy.

He is a very complex little human.
He feels deeply.
He grieves greatly.
He excites dramatically.
He hurts in such a big way that he has to act on it, whether it is on someone else's behalf or for himself.

I have written so much about our journey with Zeke as we have helped him thrive in spite of his anxiety, ADHD and multiple other learning issues, but some recent conversations with some friends have led me to write my take on why labeling our children can be used toward our advantage.

When we first realized that Zeke was battling something we began taking notes (hence our journaling).  We noticed things that were different than his sister.  We noticed how they were different that other little ones his age.  We just began to try to keep a record of it.  Our goal wasn't to try to label him right away, it was to see if there was truly anything worth "figuring out".

The more children we added to the Colony, the more we realized just how different things really were.  His emotions were hightened. His education was dragging. His impulses were many times out of his control.

We were confronted on more than one occasion about his behavior and were advised to get him checked out.

Now, I could have been easily offended by these "accusations" about having a "special needs" child.  I mean, who wants someone to tell them that something is "wrong" with their child?  Who wants to be told that they may be missing something as their parent?  Who wants to put a label on their kid?

But for some reason the Lord softened our hearts to this information.
After all, we had a choice...
get offended and deny that there could actually be some weight to the words spoken
weigh the words and see if there could be any truth to the observations and if so, look into the suggestions given.

We ended up going to a psychologist just to get a professional opinion.  She is WONDERFUL!  She actually told us she hates using the word "labeled" because of the negative connotations,  but did, in fact, label him with ADHD, Anxiety, several types of Dyslexia and a Processing Disorder.  There were some other underlying things as well, but we left those sessions with a good idea of how to help him.

To me this information has been CRUCIAL to my parenting and patience with him AND my other children.

Fortunately for Zeke, he has a mama who fights the anxiety fight on a daily basis, so we have our own form of communication.  We both KNOW what it is like.  He (and ALL my kids for that matter) is so sensitive to me on those days where my anxiety is through the roof because we communicate openly in our home about what it is, how it makes us feel, and what we need from others around us to help get us through it.

There is a lot of grace, love, patience and forgiveness in this house.

The label allows us to see the "issues" for what they are, and then gives us all more realistic expectations for the way life needs to be.

For example:

As a family with a child with learning issues, we have to praise good reports often.  Even the tiny little progresses so he doesn't feel left out with a family full of academically different children.

We typically don't do Sunday evening activities because the kids are normally up anywhere between 5:30 and 6am for rehearsal call time and are exhausted by the time the 3 service lets out.  Zeke gets mentally exhausted before he gets physically exhausted which can lead to some major meltdowns if we have a busy afternoon or evening.  And that almost always runs over into Monday morning battles to get to school and then continues on throughout the day.

It means that sleep is VERY important.
Diet is crucial.
Routine is mandatory.
And consistency is not an option.

Just like we have a different way of working through issues with our adopted daughter because of her past, we have a different way of working through issues with each of our other children because of their make-up, tendencies, and stages of life.

My point is, don't be afraid of getting your children checked out.  If it's nothing it's nothing, no harm done.  If it is something, then my goodness, aren't you glad you KNOW what that something is?

Now I KNOW why we did the same lessons in homeschool for nearly 3 years with Zeke and were getting nowhere.
I KNOW why he freaks out when the teachers in his class are different, or the classroom atmosphere keeps changing, or we only go to 1 service this week and not 3 like normal.
I KNOW why he has a hard time focusing, and why he tugs at his shirt in nervousness, and needs to start saying his goodbye's before we even enter the carpool line in the morning.

The label gives a foundation to the behavior and allows for us to find the ways to help them get through it or thrive in it!

My only advice is...don't allow those labels to define who they are.

Yes I have "anxiety", but that anxiety is NOT who I am.  I am a child of God, fighting to take every thought captive and rest in His peace and consistency.

Yes Alethia was "adopted", but the fact that she was adopted does NOT define who she is.  She is a child of God, a forever member of the Via Colony, who may always be fearful of goodbyes and being left alone, but will never be abandoned again.

Yes Jude is a strong-willed little boy, but his strong will is NOT who he is.  He is a child of God, created to lead and be persistent (oh God, the persistence you have given that boy BETTER be used for good one day!).

We all have words that can label us.

Use the label as a platform to understand, and then allow the Lord to define those rough edges into something beautiful.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When The Mom Card Trumps The "ME" Card - He Is My Portion

Preface: This is one of those posts that I post as a reminder to myself.
A way to write out my feelings.
But more than sifting through the mess of my own "feelings", it is the accountability of writing out the TRUTH that I'm needing to remind myself of, because I am needing a LOT of reminders this week.

Josh is in Israel this week.
The trip of a lifetime.
Walking the roads that Jesus walked.
The Bible has always been so much more than God-breathed words on paper,
but those words are coming alive to every one of those people on the trip as they read the Bible in the very place where it took place.

It was a trip that I was supposed to be on WITH them.

At the last minute I had to pull out of the trip.
To be a mom.
To advocate for one particular child of mine, struggling in some pretty major ways.

Instead of the temple mount, I have endless blanket forts.

Instead overlooking the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I am overlooking the Superhero domain lining my couch cushions.

At first I felt totally confident with my decision and the choice I made to stay behind, but I would be lying if I said that I haven't wavered at all.  If I hadn't wished it all away, believing that I DESERVED this trip.

I can say all day long that my job is "the best job ever".  And that "I would do anything for my kids", and that "it isn't a sacrifice to love them and give things up for them."

But I'm going to be brutally honest here.

I have had to fight hard this week...
   not to give into the pity party that is bubbling right under the surface trying to steal my joy.
   to enjoy my kids on these endless snow days.
   to parent consistently when the episodes that plague my sweet boy come rushing in.
   to remember my calling in life right now, my mission field.
   to remind myself that being a mama comes with sacrifices and that I GET to do this mama job, a job that some women would LONG to be able to do but are unable to do for one reason or another.
   to truly be delighted for the others on the trip and their experiences.
   to consider my own experience this week as just that, an experience, as a chance to show my kids how much they mean to me and that I really am in their corner cheering them on (even when my plans have changed).

We don't get to choose when God will incline us to draw the mom card (or whatever other card it is that turns our lives upside down).
That card that gets drawn at the most inopportune times.
That card that means sacrificing way more finances than we even have on-hand.
That card that means we have to forego a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
That card that interrupts our whole life!

But we DO get to choose our response to it.
We can choose to sulk and play the victim card instead of the one God dealt for us.
We can give into the irritation and the short temper, or the denial and the blame...

or we can choose to join God in the play he has laid out for us.

At this very moment I don't have what it takes to be the joyful, full-of-life mommy my kids need,
and maybe you don't have what it takes either..

But God does.

Choose God.
Choose HIS plan.
Call on the name of the Lord.
He is my strength and portion FOREVER!

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26

Monday, February 23, 2015

When The Lord Uproots Our Pretty Little Lives

Last fall Jude and I went on a field trip to SEBTS to be with daddy as he lead worship for chapel.

We can all guess how long Jude lasted.
He actually tried to claw his way up on stage in front of the faculty during the second song (yup, just a LITTLE humiliating), so we had to make a quick exit.

We didn't have any other plans that morning so we took a chilly stroll through campus waiting on daddy to finish.

I let Jude take the lead as he meandered between the sidewalks and buildings.  We quickly found ourselves in front of the main admin. building where there is a nice sized water fountain surrounded by a raised garden which is always adorned with the most beautiful seasonal flowers and colors.

As we walked up to the water fountain Jude headed straight toward the bright red blooms.
They were perfect.

No longer than two minutes passed before one of the maintenance workers came driving up in one of his little carts.  He immediately hopped out and began ripping and pulling out those beautiful flowers.

Jude just stood there staring in amazement.

I took a few steps back and just watched, mouth opened in shock, at what I was witnessing.

I couldn't help but feel offended.

1-this guy clearly had no idea how much flowers cost or he would be carefully removing them from the ground to either re-plant in his own yard or to at least give to his wife in an antique mason jar (because we all know that flowers are the prettiest in old-looking glass jars)!

2-it's not like these flowers were on their way out!  They were beautiful.  In FULL bloom.  Still thriving!    Perfect.

I continued to back up until I reached the sidewalk to sit down and just watch this guy as he destroyed this beautiful garden.  Ripping every single plant up out of the ground until all that was left was the soil and strewn leaves and pedals all over the garden and surrounding area.

After the worker finished his task he jumped up on his cart and drove off just as quickly as he had come.  It didn't take Jude long to make his way back to the garden area and climb up in the middle of the mess.

He kind of just stood there for a few minutes trying to process what had just happened.
Then he bent down and started picking up the beautiful red pedals as if they were treasures.
His hands were so full of the pretty pedals that he couldn't hold anymore.
But then he spotted something better than the broken pedals.

The worker had missed one beautiful stem that was still completely intact and Jude was happy to retrieve it and gift it to his wide-eyed mama.

I'm not much of a gardener, so I can't speak for this process, but I can tell you that the Lord nudged my heart in this very moment.

Reminding me that sometimes he will allow the mess to be made of our pretty little lives in order to cultivate our hearts.  In order to prepare us.  In order to make way for something much more beautiful.  The beautiful blooms that were standing before would never stand a chance in the cold, bitter season ahead and they needed to go.  The soil needed some work.  Some more seeds needed planting.

We have to be willing to let go of our pretty little lives in order to be open handed for the better that is waiting right under the surface.

It's all part of the process.

And he promises to complete every process He begins in His children,

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Favorites ~ Recipes, Cozy Feet and Pick-me-ups

It's Friday, although I just had to look at my calendar to double check.

This week has been quite the whirlwind of wind, snow, ice, wind, ice, school cancellations and lots and lots of playing outside.

We may not have had much of the accumulation variety, but it was enough to fulfill our winter storm desires!

TRUTH ~ Did you know that you can use scooters and tricycles to sled if the ice is hard enough?

I figured, since it's been kind of a crazy week, and this mama is feeling a TAAAAD bit C-R-A-Z-Y, (that and the fact that I haven't written one all week), I felt like a list of sorts was in order.

TRUTH ~ If you have been all played out from the snow and can't fathom putting your boots back on and braving the cold temps, you can get away with laying in front of the window (inside) and moving your feet in different locations on it as targets for the kids to throw snowballs at so they feel like you are still playing with them.

And since I am sitting here at 10:16pm with all 5 Colony members FINALLY in bed, and feeling VERY thankful and grateful for that fact, I thought I'd make my list about some of my favorite happy things.

1 - the afore mentioned winter weather. I do have some pics but I'm too lazy to upload them onto my computer (you did read that it is 10:16pm, right?) so they will just have to wait.

2 - my slippers, made by none other than my mom.  They make my feet happy:).  For real!  They are the only slippers I have ever owned that don't make my feet clammy or sweaty.  I Luh Them.

TRUTH ~ You can never have too much hot chocolate on hand for cold, snowy days.

3 - My new body wash that I made.  After making my homemade hand soap (2-3 Tbsp. of castile soap, 1 tsp. of Vitamin E oil and 5-6 drops of Thieves EO.  Fill rest of bottle with water and mix) I was sold on finding some more ways to implement my essential oils into other areas of my life, and the body wash was next on the list.  I combined a few recipes I saw floating around Pinterest.  The only thing I would do differently is make it with fractioned Coconut oil instead of regular Coconut oil.  But the smell is SO yummy!
1 cup Dr. Bronners plain liquid castile soap
1/2 cup of vitamin E oil
1 cup melted Coconut oil

then add:
7-8 drops of Ylang Ylang
10 drops of Grapefruit
7-8 drop of Lavender

4 - "cookie balls" - Actually Known As "Homemade Granola Energy Balls".  We make them on a weekly basis and Jude knows when I've forgotten an ingredient as he is the key chef for this recipe.  It has become a family and friend favorite:
2 cups oats
2 cups unsweetened, raw, shredded coconut
1 cup flax seed
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup raw honey
1 cup peanut/almond butter

TRUTH ~ In order to make it to our mailbox without busting your a$$ on the ice you must make sure you have appropriate shoes on, dig your heal into the ice and slowly roll your foot forward while digging the heal of your other foot into the ice.  I'm guessing it could get rather embarrassing if this technique were not mastered before heading down to check the mail during rush hour.

5 - My parents being here.  Josh is in Israel for the next week and things have been a bit difficult on the home front.  It's always nice to know that you have some extra hands, cuddles and book reading bodies to lean on (not to mention help in the kitchen)!  So thanks, ya'll, for coming.

Five happy things for Friday.

Have a great, happy weekend ya'll!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Learning To Be Flexible With Your Family Devotional Plans - KITW

When I was younger I remember being fearful of heaven. I knew it would be beautiful and I knew I’d get to be with Jesus forever, but how in the world are we, as little humans (or even big ones for that matter), supposed to grasp the concept of FOREVER? It’s downright overwhelming if you think about it.
If given the choice, I think I would have rather stayed in my happy little bubble of familiarity. I had Cinnamon (my loving teddy bear), my mommy and daddy under one roof, and a brother and sister who gave me just enough grief ;). I knew nothing different and [Read more...]

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My One Activity For Ash Wednesday...and every day

It is no coincidence that today is Ash Wednesday.

It is the day that begins the season of Lent.
A season of reflection, repentance, fasting and anticipation of the Resurrection.

And on this day, this mama, who wrote a freakin' book about this very special season, should be whipping up some pretty impressive family activities to share (because it is, after all, my favorite season to observe), but instead I am holding on for dear life to the fact that today I am a mom and God has instilled everything I need to make it through today.

On a day when I would rather just climb back in bed and bury myself in the covers.
On a day when I just want to wave my little white flag.
On a day when the countdown to bedtime began at 9:30am.

On a day when the whining won't stop,
and the bullying continues among certain Colony members
and sweetly playing children seems to be a distant memory

and the current season seems to stretch out as far as I can see...

...but then I remember

that Jesus bore it all,
that He looks deep within my own sinful heart,
that He forgives without limits and record,
that He restores,
that He sustains,
that He provides,

that He conquered death so that we can be free.

So again, today, just as yesterday, I have a choice to live in that freedom, or in the bondage of fear, doubt, anger, resentment, bitterness, guilt, blame...

And not only for myself, but for the little people who are shadowing after me today, and my husband who is depending on me to keep my focus.

Remember who He is as you remember whose you are.

Monday, February 16, 2015

3 days Into Three ~ a story in pictures

as I was working out with Shaun T in the living room
Jude walked in front of me to the kitchen
(where the laundry room resides)
dragging the laundry basket behind him

and this is what I captured...


Only 3 days into THREE years old.
(PS-he is also potty training himself too.  I'm a pretty lucky mama!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Shop ~ my OTHER job "outside" the home

We have this little room outside under the carport.
It houses the water heater, electrical switch boxes and dryer vent.
When we first moved in it also housed
random home fixtures, a broken freezer, a jammed filing cabinet and rusty tools.

Over the years we have slowly been cleaning it out and making it more "purposeful".

Last year, after opening up theColonyShop,
certain Colony members began to complain about the noise.
Like hammering metal in the kitchen on the floor isn't a "normal" occurrence or something.

Shortly after the complaints started coming in, the Colony leader 
requested I take my business elsewhere;)

As if creating fun spaces in my home isn't fun for me, ha!
I cleared out a spot in this little "gem" of a place and have slowly made it my own.

Welcome to theColonyShop, friends!

Areyna got a sewing machine for Christmas and theColonyShop creators
graciously let her set up her own special work place.

I found an old hanging planter that houses her fabric scraps

The abundance of storage allows us to keep all of our craft supplies in one place!

It's certainly not perfect, but I LOVE the incompleteness and imperfections.

gems, jewels, and measuring sticks

I spray painted a tray table gray (of course I did)
This old director chair was in my parents barn.
I brought it home, cleaned it up, recovered it and painted it
and now it makes the perfect chair for the shop.

It's one of my happy places, 
and if you ever stop by and can't find me, I'm pretty sure this is where I'll be.