Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's Probably Gonna Get Harder

Every once in a while the Colony is forced to go through obedience bootcamp.

It's typically after a season of traveling, inconsistency or changes in schedules, holidays and/or lazy parenting.

Let's face it...every parent is NOT going to be on their "A game" 100% of the time and life just gets the best of us sometimes.  So don't consider yourself a failure if you have to go through a season where you have to pull in the reigns to get the crew back on track and adjust to some new family rules.

But much of the time it is going to get WAY HARDER before it gets better.

For instance, bedtime was getting to be really difficult.  With kids ranging from 1-8 and all of them going to bed at the same time, some were tired but wired, tired and irritable, wide awake from too long of a nap or just not quite tired yet.

Josh and I decided that we were going to start allowing Rainy and Zeke to stay up an extra 30 minutes or so on "normal" nights.  Not only were we in need of some individual time with them, they needed to feel like they were valued and earned their right as an older sibling to be able to stay up past their 1-4 year old siblings.

But man was it tough on Cai and Alethia.  We had to keep reassuring them that they weren't in trouble and they were going to bed at the exact same time, but their bodies just needed a little bit more rest than Rainy and Zeke because they are older.  Plus, it gives them something fun to look forward to as they get older themselves!

It took several weeks for this new normal to become normal for Cai and Alethia mentally.  There were a lot of temper tantrums, tears and screaming on their part, and frustration, exhaustion and wanting to give in on my part.  But we pushed through and now the fact that Areyna and Zeke stay up a little later is normal and expected.  No more freaking out.  It just is what it is.

But what about when it comes to an area of discipline?
(Not that MY kids ever struggle in this area;)

But let's just say that my husband were to go out of the country for the week and leave me with the Colony.  And maybe the days went well, but I was exhausted, as expected, and when bedtime for the kids rolled around and the door closed for the night, I meant business.  Every night I laid down the law boundaries and consequences if they were not followed.

But what if one of those sweet, chubby-faced little boys comes sauntering down the hallway toward me...just to tell me that he loves me?  What in the world is one supposed to do with that?!

But I KNOW that if this week is going to go smoothly and I am going to get the rest and solitude needed to survive, then I am going to have to stick to my guns.

Man were those consequences tough:(  But do you think any of the other kids came out during the rest of the week?  Well, actually, the next night was very similar to the first, but through the consistency, even when it was hard, they all learned that I meant what I said and that I NEEDED them to obey.

It's not always easy, and it sure doesn't always feel like the steps are moving in the right direction, but you will get through it and it WILL get easier!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

If You Are A Thumb Then Be A Thumb

You know what has always amazed me?
When people get EXCITED to watch my kids!

I mean, when I was growing up I was NEVER a kid person.  I wasn't sure what to do with them.  I did NOT enjoy babysitting.  It felt awkward playing those silly little games.  They smelled.  Their whining was so obnoxious to me.  Those little people felt like foreign objects in my world.

But I had friends that had consistent babysitting jobs that loved on those kids like they were their own.

Then I grew up and had my own kids.
5, to be exact.
And now there are those same kinds of people that actually enjoy MY kids.  They literally THANK US for letting them watch our kids.

I don't get it!

Here is why this is so awesome to me, besides the fact that it blesses this mama's heart to pieces, knowing that my kids are being sincerely loved on while Josh and I are away or serving somewhere.

It is awesome and amazing because this is exactly how the body of Christ works.

God gives each of us talents, gifts, desires and motivations for different things.

If we all just wanted to hang out with kids nobody would be willing to greet the timid that come in the front doors.

And being a greeter, by the way, is also not a gifting of mine, if you remember the profuse sweating and shaky voice that accompanies the very thought:)

Then there are those who love to cook and cater, create set designs, help in the parking lot, volunteer to help clean every week, serve in the soup kitchens and love on the hispanic children whose parents leave them to work in the fields all day.

God calls all believers to be an arm or leg or big toe in the body of Christ.

Some are called to the act of adoption.
Others have a softened heart toward the story of others adopting, and knowing that they themselves cannot do it, can financially or emotionally help another family as they go through the process.

Some people go on short term mission trips.
Others have the finances to help them get there.
And others have the gift of intercessory prayer that cover them the entire time they are ministering.

Some people have been led by God to sell everything they belong in order to follow that calling and become missionaries in another country.
Others see that their own homes are their mission field. Realizing that God has placed them in their very own city and that one doesn't have to live in a 3rd world country to hand out a loaf of bread to someone who is hungry, or bring in a stranger for a family meal or offer assistance to someone in need.

We all can't be the right arm to hold that crying baby, but some people have to be in order to allow those parents to serve somewhere else.  We can't all be the ear that moves overseas to spread the gospel, because then our own nation would be vacant of the love of Christ.  We can't all be the heal that gets up on stage and play an instrument or sing, because then we wouldn't have the discipleship crew to lead the flock or the passionate worshiper within the flock, showing their own freedom in Christ.

The jobs are endless and the workers are few, so when you feel that little tingling motivation that gets you excited that is probably the Holy Spirit prompting you to do something!  Ask God to help you find what part of the body He has called you to be, knowing it may very well be different than what you WANT it to be, and jump into that role.

Nothing is more fulfilling than the thumb realizing it is a thumb and doing the things a thumb is created to do.

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."
I Corinthians 12:27

Monday, July 29, 2013

Words Worth Remembering

Zeke: "Hey mom, you know those flying things that fly?"


Me:"Sooo, what does the letter 'C' say?"
Cai:"I like donuts better than pancakes to eat."


Cai:"MOM!  I cotched it!"
translation:"MOM! I caught it!"


Cai:"Do bunkoepeas eat flowers?"
translation:"Do bumblebees eat flowers?"


Me:"Whatcha lookin' for Cai?"
Cai:"My Superman pants."
Me:"Well, here they are."
Cai:"Nope, those are Spiderman pants...close though, mom."


Rainy singing:"This girl, she is on FIRE!!!"
Zeke:"What does 'on fire' mean?"
Rainy:"Well, you know when daddy says that mommy is 'HOT'?"
Zeke, looking disgusted:"Ugh, I can't talk about this right now..."


Me:"Alright guys, is everybody done so we can go to our surprise?"
Zeke:"What is it? Bull riding?!"


These are the things that keep me going throughout the day:)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Set Them Up For Obedience

It's 9:00 on Saturday morning and the boys are still quiet in their room.  I'm not sure if they have begun to stir or if they are still sleeping.  But they are quiet, and none of them have come out to check and see if it is time to get up for the day.  They had been instructed the night before, to wait for the "green sign" in the morning.  So far so good.  I contently sit in the quiet while finishing my morning reading.  Then I hear the door creak open and immediately I get frustrated.

"Why don't they just wait for the green sign?"
"Why can't they just obey?"

Here is where their disobedience became partly my fault...
8:00am is their wake-up time on school days and 9:00am on the weekends.

Yes, they have not obeyed my instruction:  "Boys, in the morning you need to wait for the green sign", but I haven't abided by my end of the deal.  The green sign was meant to be a sign that mommy and daddy would never forget them in the mornings and that we would allow them to get up at a timely hour, not use the green sign as a way to get a few more extra quiet minutes (or 30!) out of the day.

Instead of waiting until they are getting antsy and repeatedly opening the door and closing it, I should try my best to set them up for obedience.

This might mean putting the sign under the door just a couple of minutes early so that they can see what it feels like to be able to be obedient.

Or maybe sticking by our "wake-up time", instead of waiting for them to begin stirring.

Another way I can set my kids up for obedience is by expecting the best out of them.

For example:
Jude loves the school pencils.  He loves to run around the house with them sticking out of his mouth and chewing on the eraser tops.  But he KNOWS he is not supposed to touch them.  So when he begins to sidestep toward the pencils, while looking at me out of the corner of his eye to see if I'm watching, I can gently repeat our common rule of "no pencils, JuJu".  And when he finally reaches his desired destination and pauses for that infamous "I'm here, whatcha gonna do about it" look in my direction, I can say, "Yay Jude, NO PENCILS!" while clapping and praising.

I can try to catch him in the middle of his thought process as he decides whether he is going to obey or not, and praise him before he makes that choice.  Maybe that slight pause is just him testing you, but give him the benefit of the doubt.

By all means, don't be a naive parent, but give your kids the opportunity to obey, 'cause I'm pretty sure God isn't looking over his children from heaven just WAITING for us to mess up.  He is patient and kind, and always gives us a way out.  A chance to obey.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Focusing On The "Don't Have's"

Part of the anxiety and OCD curse that Zeke and I have been dispositioned with is that our minds get stuck.

This is normal for just about everyone at some time or another, but is exacerbated for someone who struggles with anxiety and/or OCD tendencies.

Yesterday the zipper on Zeke's book bag broke.  The handle came completely off and the zipper itself was stretched out so that it wasn't able to be fixed.  That meant that he needed a new book bag.  This would be the most awesome thing for any other kid, especially since we are that family that doesn't get "new" things until our original thing no longer preforms it's intended purpose.  Our kids are using their same book bag from last year and they were fine with that.

In fact, they were SO fine with it that when I went to pick Zeke up from school yesterday he was coming "unzipped" himself (see what I did there?;).  He couldn't handle the fact that everything he knew about book bags had just completely fallen apart.  That his security in the familiarity of his bag was no longer going to be familiar.  He was literally beside himself.  Panicking with the thought of having to "start over".

He just wanted what was set in his mind.  His expectations for his bag were to last forever.  Even after finding the exact same Batman book bag (in black instead of gray), he simply could not get over the fact that he wanted his old, familiar book bag.  Even though something SO MUCH BETTER is now within his grasp...a BRAND NEW shiny book bag!

He is slowly coming around, but what a battle of the mind.  To let go and will himself to be grateful for what he DOES have and letting go of the past or unrealistic expectations of the present.

Hmmm...can you see where I'm going with this post?

How many times do we sit around and mope and complain about all the things we feel like we are entitled to?  All our unrealistic expectations, all while preaching the provision of God and how He knows what is best for us.

If we truly believe that God has our best interests in mind when creating our life journey, don't you think that we can praise Him, even when our expectations are not met?  Even if the outcome of certain situations is different than we expected?  Most likely there will be something SO MUCH BETTER right within our grasp, if only we can let go of what we always thought our lives would look like and grab ahold of the plan that God has already laid before us.

Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm Only Responsible For ME

There isn't much in this life that we personally have control over.

We can't control the weather.
We can't control the economy.
We can't control the magazines with questionable material (and photos) that are printed.
We can't control the availability of pornography on the Internet.
We can't control the words that come out of others mouths.
We can't control the actions of others.
We can't control the choices that our children make.
We can't control our spouse.

But we DO have a huge responsibility to ALL OF THESE THINGS.

We can control ourselves and our reactions.

We can control what we wear in the rain and stock up our pantry for a hurricane.
We can spend wisely, within our means.
We can teach our children to turn the inappropriate magazines over so the person behind us doesn't have to look at them.
We can set up a filter on the computer to help keep Internet accountability.
We can choose to walk away from gossip, turn the other cheek and even pray blessing over the people speaking bad about us (and/or others).
We can love others in spite of their sin, acknowledging that we, ourselves, are never beyond the same temptations or sin.
We can train our children as best we can and pray for them to make wise choices.
We can pray for our spouses and give unconditional grace to them in their shortcomings, because Lord knows we have made far too many mistakes as well.

My mom's mantra while I was growing up was:
"You are responsible for your own responses."

And Pastor Jimmy says:
"no matter what everybody else says, no matter what everybody else thinks...I'm responsible for me!"

So stop using everyone else and their actions, and all the circumstances around you, to determine your own response.  You can make that difference.  YOU are what you have control over.

The series that our church is doing is excellent! This was actually only a small part of what Jimmy talked about this week.  I'd encourage you to go and listen to the messages in this series, BARRIERS, we've had so far.  I promise it'll be worth your time!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Hands and Feet

I typically do just fine when Josh heads out of town/country, but for some reason this past trip has been exceptionally difficult for me.  I don't exactly know why, but it's just been hard.

Here is the cool thing...God knew that!
Yes, I desperately asked for extra doses of patience and love to go around and for energy and creativity to make it through each day.  But He also laid it on certain individuals hearts as well.  I love how God does that!

My sister-in-law brought over dinner for us one night.
A friend brought over a couple playmates, a feast and adult conversation another night.
Another friend brought over a coffee blessing and demanded me to go get a quick power nap in, knowing I only got about 20 minutes of sleep the night before.
Sweet texts from other friends just telling me they were thinking of and praying for me.
And yet another friend told me to text her a list of anything I might need at the store because she was already out and knew I probably needed something.  Not only did she get me the needed items, but she came bearing Aveeno oatmeal bath for Jude and stress release bath salts and candles for me.

God gives us just what we need, when we need it!
And sometimes it isn't by giving our own hands and feet the superpowers to get through, but instead impresses upon the hearts of others to be the hands and feet that we need.

Thank you ladies for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit and for blessing us in such practical (and special) ways:)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Free-For-All : Highs and Lows

Forgive me if this post seems like I was up all night.
Because I was. up.all.night.
Our poor Jude boy has hand foot mouth AGAIN!  They say that every time you get it, it will be worse, and boy were they right!  I've never seen such terrible sores.  He woke up around 11 and didn't pass out until after 6 this morning.  My heart hurts for him, not to mention my eyes that can barely stay open, ha!

But let's talk about something a little sweeter, shall we.
Like guinea pigs!

We all love these little guys, but I'd say that Rainy and Jude ADORE them.  Jude favors Zeke's little guy-that's-a-girl-that-has-a-guy-name.  He only squeezes them on accident when they aren't paying him enough attention.

In school this week we have been focusing on some basic addition.  And after such a terrible mom day we needed a little pick-me-up.  We painted popsicle sticks and glued them on paper to make the math problems.  It was a lot of fun!

Rainy has been getting some extra 8-year-old privileges and staying up "late". And of course, Jude wouldn't go down yet, so they spent some time together last night.  Between the unloading of the dishwasher and the packing of the lunches I managed to walk into the living room to see this.  Oh my heart, how precious is this sight?!

Josh hands over the man-of-the-house rights to Zeke whenever he heads out of town.  And this is just one example of how seriously he takes his duties.  Every night, on his own initiative, he leads the Colony in family devotions, locks all the doors, and tucks all his siblings into bed with stories and tickles.  I couldn't be more happy with the way I see him following in his daddy's footsteps!

Rainy lost another tooth last night!  Hooray for the fact that it came out during her own tooth-wiggling exercizes and not because I was forced to pull it out.  Boo, for the fact that the Colony tooth fairy needs to be fired!  She has forgotten to gather her precious teeth in exchange for goods not once...not twice...but THREE times now!  *sigh*

On  sweeter note my parents are coming for a visit this weekend!  They get here tonight and I couldn't be more excited!  The kids are pretty excited too:)

So, that's been my week.  You know, uneventful as usual, hahaha!

Happy Friday ya'll!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mom Of The Year Material

After today I'm pretty sure I lost any hopes for ever obtaining any future "mom-of-the-year" awards.

Unless, of course, you count the time I locked myself in my bedroom, laid on the floor and stared at the frozen image of Josh as we tried another failed attempt to FaceTime from Haiti to America, all while ignoring the knocking and calls to mommy through the crack under the door by two Colony members, as "mom-of-the-year" material.

Or maybe the dinner that consisted of scrambled eggs, toast and chocolate pancakes...and even that was a stretch to muster up.  (Good thing Zeke knows how, and LOVES, to make toast!  He had that one covered.)

Or maybe you could count my annoyance at the child who refused to pee in the drain on the outskirts of the pool, just so I didn't have to gather 5 kids...FIVE...F-I-V-E kids and herd them to the bathroom to pee. It wasn't even a poop emergency.  For goodness sakes, just pee in the drain and jump back in the pool to rinse off!  Oh no, he would rather yell, "No mom! I want to pee in the POTTY!!!"

Or my manipulation of the naptime timer that somehow managed to skip 15 minutes.

Or gosh, maybe the moment I yelled at the top of my voice at all five voices asking me different things as I begged them to

Or the fact that I kept reciting my stupid memory verse that I posted the other day, but my stubborn brain refused to fix itself on only the pure and lovely things around me because, quite frankly, everything seemed to be invading my personal space and by golly, I just wanted to sit and fester in my grumpiness.

And then Zeke reminded me that he didn't freak out that morning on the way to school.  And when I asked him what the difference was he told me that he talked to God before he got out of bed.

It didn't help that Jude woke up at 6:30am and refused to go back to sleep.  He wasn't thirsty or hungry.   He didn't necessarily want to cuddle.  He just wouldn't go in his bed.  And that time is so very precious to me.  And I didn't get it.  I read the chapters for the day, but I couldn't mentally allow them to sink into the crevices of my being.  I had some prayer time, but it was constantly interrupted.  And wouldn't you know, naptime this afternoon, didn't go much better.  I found the isolation on the lawnmower my prayer closet today.  I begged Him to throw me a bone.  I needed some air.  I needed a second to breathe.

I'm so thankful God hears our prayers, even in the midst of our big-to-us-but-not-really-a-big-deal kind of days.  I'm so thankful for forgiveness on God's part, as well as my children. I'm thankful for the end of hard days that bring a fresh new start the next day.  I'm thankful for do-overs.  I'm thankful for the communication we allow in our family to be able to communicate freak-outs to each other.  I'm thankful for the fact that my kids can respectfully put me in my place when need be.  I'm thankful for their gentle reminders that God can change our ugly attitudes if only we will ask Him to.

So, I may not get the "mom-of-the-year" award, but I did get grace.  Free grace.  Undeserved grace.  Humbling grace.  And a restart with tomorrow.

Thank you Jesus!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hope For The Middle Class

Poor, poor middle kids.

The older kids get to go to friends houses, have sleepovers, head to school, do student ministry, movie nights, stay up later, get new(er) clothes, go on field trips.  And we won't even talk about all the pictures of the first kid(s).

Even the younger kids get special privileges!  They get to have lots of snacks before dinner because "their tummy's are littler and need to have something to 'tide them over' ", tend to get the "last child" cuddles, you know in the mornings or after naps, or right before bed.  And we won't even talk about all the pictures of the last kid(s).

But the poor, poor middle class...

I've been reminded this week that I need to make sure I take time to meet the needs of the middle class. To hear their little voices.  To realize that the heart behind some of their actions is the desperate cry of a very low or empty love tank that just needs to be filled up.  That needs just a little something special.

It's especially hard with a family with lots of children like ours, but it can be done.  And the God who granted us these little beings to care for knows exactly what they need and has equipped us moms with exactly what we need when we need it, if only we stay focused on Him.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Talking Myself Off The Ledge

One of our Colony family rules is to "always tell the truth".

You know what though?  I've found that this simple rule, when applied to my anxiety, can make a world of difference.

When I have anxious days, and there is no apparent trigger or reason for the anxiety, I have to continually recite Philippians 4:8 over and over to myself throughout the day.

Because let's face it.  Anxiety is wrapped around fear.  Fear of forgetting something.  Fear of the "what if's". Fear of the potential news coming from the phone call or email.  Fear of not getting something accomplished in time.

And fear is wrapped around lies, distractions and deceit.

Many days I talk myself off the ledge by reciting this simple verse:

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, 
think about such things."
Philippians 4:8

This verse is the tool God has given me to combat the rising anxiety that brings me to the ledge.  And that is one of the most praiseworthy things to reflect and meditate on.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sometimes They Just Need To Be Taught

I walked into the kid's bathroom to grab something only to find balled up toilet paper NEXT to the toilet, again.  REALLY?! Who does that?  That is SO gross!

Same day, I go to pull out some dishes for lunch.  As soon as I opened the cabinet door, every plate and bowl came toppling out of the cabinet, and I couldn't seem to find a single cup anywhere!  Breathing a little shorter and slightly raising my eyebrows in annoyance I try to just breathe, swallow down the frustration and neatly stack the dishes back into place and retrieve the cups from the farthest corner of the cabinet.

I decided to go tidy up some of the house, as I often do to relieve some built-up angst.  I began in the girls room and got a little carried away, as I tend to do when straightening up things that someone else puts in places that are not the designated "home" for the "things" they have put "away".  The shirts are in the pajama bin, the skirts are in with the jeans, and all the baby doll stuff is EVERYWHERE!  The tension begins to boil inside of me until I explode!

After getting frustrated over the same 3 scenarios (and several others) over and over and over it dawned on me that sometimes the things that I get irritated or frustrated over are things that most of the time I have neglected to teach.

Sure, when the girls began to unload the dishwasher I was simply in awe of the fact that my little "helpers" were actually growing into REAL helpers, that I could care less how the dishes were put away.  But after time the fact that all the pots, pans and lids were thrown placed in the correct cabinet just wasn't enough.  They were all messy and caddywhompus, and caddywhompus is NOT a friend of everything-has-a-home-and-must-be-just-so mom.  But did I once stop to teach them how to place the lids upside down on the pots and stack them up like a "mountain" to make them all fit together?  Did I once explain how you have to line the plates upright, in order to house the bowls right next to them, stacked up inside of each other, because, by-golly, we have an army to feed and that makes for a plethora of dishes to keep in the cabinet to feed the masses.

But what about the toilet paper all over the floor ALL.OF.THE.TIME?  Well, did I ever stop to realize that one of my children missed the first 3 1/2 years of my instruction and example where she would have learned that toilet paper actually goes in the toilet, not wadded up on the floor?  She peed on the floor or in her crib most of the time before we met her and if she ever went on the potty, she most likely didn't have any toilet paper!  Even when we were overseas with her I would run to catch her going potty to lift her up on the seat and wipe her myself.  "Wipe" lessons were neglected.

But what about the bedroom and the "stuff" that needs to be placed in the correct "home".  First of all, I have to go way back on this one.  Way back to when I decided to make a "home" for something...and then change that "home" to a basket...then a bin, then a drawer, then a different basket...I can't ever make up my mind as to where the "perfect" home is!  Yet I expect my kids to be able to keep up with the schizophrenic "stuff" that keeps disappearing and then later reappearing in different places all.the.time.  But even beyond that, have I ever stopped to explain to my littles as to the correct home for their stuff?  Maybe even sit down with them and tell them that this basket is only for tops/shirts.  This other basket is ONLY for jammies.  And if you need me to hang something up, just ask me really quick, instead of shoving it in with the dress-up clothes or Barbie furniture:)

What a difference a little instruction and gentle guidance has made in our house.

Oh the things we learn as mamas.

I can be taught, and one lesson I am constantly made aware of in this house is grace.  I need grace.  They need grace.  We are in this together.  We are a team!  I may be the coach, but I certainly need a touch of grace when all I want to do is yell at the team and constantly switch play books on them.  And they need grace as I adjust my expectations and relay the plans for the next play.

To the Colony who will one day read all these posts:
I love you with all my heart.  Thank you for your grace and forgiveness, even when I have to ask of it multiple times a day.  Thank you for not expecting me to be the perfect mommy!  Thank you for being patient with me as I navigate the waters of motherhood.  I pray that you will turn out just fine and that one day we can laugh about all the things we have graced each other with:)
With all my love,
Your Mommy

Friday, July 12, 2013

Questions Little People Should Not Ask Big People

Do you have a baby in your tummy?

Do you have to go poopie or just peepee?

Are you a boy or a girl?

Will you buy me a treat?

Don't you know that smoking is BAD for you?!

What happened to your hair?

Can you come get my boogie off of my finger?

Why are your boobies and tummy showing?  That is NOT very modest.  You should wear some other clothes.


Just a few reasons why having children is very humbling:)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Freeze and Silence

The Colony is made up of 7 different people, with 7 different personalities, who hardly EVER all wake up on the same side of the bed on any given day.

When Rainy was super little we taught her how to communicate that she was touchy.  I, for one, am not one to get touchy or irritable, ahem, but if I were I would want the freedom to communicate that to my little people placing their sticky little all over the hem of my shirt.

Not that we gave her the green light to stay in her funk, but at least we knew that we needed to be sensitive toward her touchiness until she got passed it.

But now, when we have 5 children, crammed in the back of one car, whether it is just to run errands around town, or going to Nonnie and G-daddy's house, we are bound to have some incidents of touchiness and obnoxiousness and even possibly some irritability on mama's part (that last one is certainly not likely though;).

So we have implemented 2 different Colony-friendly phrases: "freeze" and "silence".  Don't be jealous of our creativity, it really took a lot of energy to come up with those phrases!

Anyway, if all we hear from the backseat is "Zeeeeeke, STOP!", or "Don't do that Cai-booooo!" we simply turn around and tell them that they are on freeze.  This means that they have to sit on their hands, removing the temptation to touch or bother their seat neighbor.  This works so effectively that we have actually done this in the doctor's office, because I'm pretty sure the room with the sign that says, DANGER: RADIATION, is not supposed to be open and closed, and open and closed, and open and closed, after being told that closed doors are off limits.

If any number of Colony members are caught up in a verbal stand-off, and no party is willing to "drop it like its hot" then they are automatically put on silence.  They are unable to talk anymore until the timer goes off.

Sometimes they don't need yet another talking to about why we don't spit on our siblings or steal toys away, or tackle Jude like he is a big boy, they just need a quick "reminder".  And for a child like Cai-bo this may be all he needs.  Very rarely does he need any other kind of discipline than stern, heartfelt words and/or a quick little reminder like "freeze" or "silence".  The poor kid breaks down in a puddle of tears as soon as the words are uttered.

This won't work forever, of course, but this week it has worked like a charm:)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Preventing The Need To Apologize

Sometimes I can be really when I'm shy, or tired, or stressed, or thinking about something else, or in a group of people I don't really know, or in a group of people I don't necessarily connect with, or in a group of get the picture.

Small talk or getting to know someone just doesn't come naturally to me.

It's not that I don't enjoy people or making new friends, but it just doesn't necessarily come naturally to me.

Those of you who are not introverts are wondering what in the world I am describing:)

I stumble all over my words when I get nervous and I replay complete conversations over and over until I find something stupid that I remember saying.  I start sweating before I even make eye contact.  My voice gets shaky and I sound as though I may cry at any given point.


Sometimes I'll just hide back in the shadows or keep my distance.  I may avoid eye contact, thinking that if I don't actually interact with people then I am safe.  I can't make a fool out of myself or say something stupid or offensive if I keep my mouth shut, right?!

You are probably thinking 1 of 2 things:
1 - Is she serious?
2 - Oooohhhh, she really ISN'T stuck up!

So, in order to prevent the need to apologize later for saying something idiotic or less-than-appropriate for the situation, sometimes I just choose not to say anything at all.

But, just in case I've said something that offended you without my fine filter on, I'm just gonna go ahead and put my apology out there...sorry friends, I cannot be held responsible for anything that comes out of my mouth after the profuse sweating begins, ha!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

As Much As I Like To Be Organized...

I'm reading yet another book.  I'm am in a season where I just can't get enough!  Don't worry, these seasons never last long, but I try to take advantage of the times I actually get the urge to pick up a book.
(My mom is probably sitting at her computer with her jaw wide open in shock!)

This book is the follow-up to a book I read last year called "Loving The Little Years" by Rachel Jankovic.

Talk about step-on-you r-toes honesty and spirit-lead conviction!  The basis is the foundation of loving and sacrificing.  When you feel at the end of your patience, your creativity, yourself, think of ways to invest in others.  Because "when we imitate Christ, we want to give what costs us much, and we want to give it freely".

Anyway, I wanted to highlight just a few of my favorite things so far.  (I'm only on Chapter 3:)

1 - "Being a mother changes your role in the world...There is a difference between giving something and having it taken from you.  If you still count the things that you lost with resentment, then you did not give them.  You need to let go of those things that you no longer have.  Lay them down.  If you find yourself in bed at night tallying what has been lost to you, then you need to let go of that list.  Lay them down.  Give them freely.  Don't count them as stolen."

2 - "The love of Christ is not the reason that we don't have to do things.  It is the reason we get to do things freely."  This is speaking of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.  "If your Master gave you gold, you should not be sitting on it."

3 - On making sacrifices and provisions for your family: "We want to know, within the next fifteen minutes, that everyone saw what we sacrificed, acknowledged it gratefully, thanked us profusely, reflected on it quietly, and came up with a way to repay us. But God thinks in much, much bigger story lines."  We need to look to Christ for our fulfillment and satisfaction and give freely, just as He did.  "We should be doing it so freely that we don't remember it."

4 - "When you are a mother and a homemaker, you are your own boss.  The days are what you make of them.  The tasks that need to get done are put on a list at your discretion.  This means that you must be leadership material.  At the same time, what you get done is up to you, too...making you a hardworking employee...Making a list that you cannot accomplish does not make you a better housewife, it makes you a bad leader.  Snarking at yourself just makes you a bad leader who is also mean."

Along these same lines (I wish I could just copy this whole chapter!) she talks about how she would get irritable with her kids when trying to get through her list, but "It doesn't matter what is on the table when the people around it aren't at peace.  It doesn't matter how clean the house is when bitterness is growing in the hearts of all your children...I needed to still want clean bathrooms, but not as much as I wanted peace at home."


I'm learning that my to-do lists are not bad, and not accomplishing everything on them doesn't make me a lazy or unfit mom.  The heart in which I accomplish them is the key.  I want organized closets, but not as much as kids that have been shown and guided to share and respect their toys/belongings.  I want healthy, balanced meals, but not more than healthy, balanced relationships between the Colony.  I need to prioritize my priority list:)

Friday, July 5, 2013

"7" - I Hate Too Much Stuff

I don't really even know where to begin with this one.  I literally read it in 5 days.  It is an easy, funny read.  Jen's sense of humor and wit is hi.lar.i.ous but her honesty and transparency are what hit so very close to home for me.  Her disgust in the excess and inner battle with the American dream.

I've written about the fight our family is giving the  American culture and the machine of materialism, but man, how quickly it sneaks in and shifts perspective back!

This book was a great perspective shifter.  A reminder that life can, and WILL, go on without the latest fashions lining my closet or the newest gadgets sitting on my mantel or garage or the update statuses for the quick "I-hope-I-get-more-likes" fix, or the "what-else-can-we-put-on-the-calendar" mentality.

Even before I began reading I didn't want to just copy what the Hatmaker family did.  There's no way I'd feel the exact same convictions that her family did, but there is ALWAYS room for change and improvement, even if it is a temporary re-focus in a specific area.  So that was my prayer...that God would speak to and convict MY heart as I read this book, and soften MY heart to any areas that needed some tweaking.

The conclusion at the end of the book was actually my favorite thing.  She didn't leave me a list of to-do's (and ya'll KNOW how much I LOVE to-do lists!) that would ensure a "win" for the fight against this insanity, because quite honestly, they are still working out all the practical ways the Lord is working in their own family, but instead, gave a very easy analogy for me to grasp.  She compared this experiment to someone who is obese and in need of surgery.  They first must lose weight to get rid of the fat, in order to get the surgery that will change their life.  Doing this experiment, for their family, was the hard work of losing the weight, cutting through the fat, so God could reach the soft parts of their hearts, in order to really get to the vulnerable parts that need change.

I will tell you one thing that was utterly embarrassing for me to realize about myself:
I am NOT a shopper.  Anyone who knows me at all can attest to that:)  I pride myself in the purging that continually goes on my house (almost to a fault, actually), but while reading through "7" I was smacked in the face with something that I never even realized about myself.  Yes, I hate shopping.  Yes, I hate excess stuff sitting around unused.  Yes, I purge on a daily regular basis.  These are all fine and dandy, but the problem is that somehow I justify the replacement of it all!  I don't care if it was on sale (ooh, those gray towels are on sale and they will match better, so I'll get rid of the green ones that we've had for forever) or I liked THIS one because it matches or looks better (even though my first one does the job just fine), I am still spending money on something that I don't necessarily "need".  I have this compulsion to buy something, even if it is a coffee while I have a few minutes to myself, or a pack of gum at the "trap" station or the shirt on clearance that's ONLY $4.  Every single one of those items can really add up.  I'm not saying that "stuff" is bad.  God loves to bless his children with good gifts.  But when we frivolously spend more on ourselves than intentionally spending on the hurting and needy around us, then there is need for a perspective shift.  BTW, anyone who speaks to me between services on the weekends is VERY grateful for the pack of gum that made the cut, even if it wasn't on my list, ha, and would therefore be considered a "need":)

I don't believe I'll be doing another Facebook fast or anything, but there are some small changes I am implementing around the house, with my kids, and absolutely in my own life.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Know What You're Fighting For

I'm sure you've heard of Abraham, but what about his brother Lot?

One of the saddest stories in the Bible to me is the downward spiral of Lot and his family.

He traveled alongside his brother Abraham, until they became too many for the land to sustain them both because of the favor and blessing God had given them, so he was given a choice as to where to go.

His choice?  The Jordan Valley, which included Sodom and Gomorrah, cities known for their wickedness.

I'm sure his motives were pure (maybe?) but history proves that it doesn't take long to get sucked into a culture that you are surrounded by.

Genesis says, "So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east...and settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom.  Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners of the Lord."

Just 5 chapters later we see that Lot had eventually moved inside the gate.  He had gotten closer and closer to the wickedness.  Tip-toeing in, just a little bit at a time.  When 2 angels of the Lord showed up to see if there was any righteous among the cities Lot sees them and urges them to stay out of the town square and pressed them strongly to go with him in his house.  He KNEW what the people were like, yet he chose to live among them, saturated by their ways.

He made them a feast and they ate,
"But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.  And they called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us, that we may know them.'"

Lot tried to go out and rationalize with them, even to the point of offering them his two virgin daughters "to do with them as you please".  They refused and pushed harder to get to the men in Lot's house, until the angels struck them with blindness.

The angels quickly urged Lot to gather all who were with him to leave because the city was about to be destroyed.  And wouldn't you know, the only people who had any sense to go with him were his two daughters and his wife.  He hadn't gained a single soul for the Kingdom by saturating himself in that culture.

Even the command to "quickly" leave didn't carry much weight for his own family.  They stayed the night there.

In the morning the angels again urged him to grab his family and leave...but he continued to linger!
"So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.  And as they brought them out, one said, 'Escape for your life.  Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley'...But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."

That's not even the worst part!  When there is no repentance and no changing of your ways, the sin will stick around and it will grow and bleed into more and more areas of your life!

Here is what happened next:
His daughters began plotting, "Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth.  Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father."

They didn't just succeed the first night with the oldest daughter sleeping with her daddy, but they did it again the next night for the younger daughter as well.  All of it premeditated.

By this point their outlook on life, on God, on family, was completely skewed.
Their actions shouted of their unfaithfulness for the Lord to provide for them.
They had moved away from the wickedness, but it followed them in their hearts.

They were warned to get out.  To flee because their home was about to be destroyed...yet they lingered!

What are you fighting for?  What are you refusing to flee from?  What are you looking back over your shoulder and longing for, instead of looking ahead to the hope and freedom from the Lord?

Know what you are fighting for, and make it worth the fight.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

It's A Trap

Part of having a successful outing with a Colony of children is the preparation.

NOTE: I said, "PART"!  You also have to take into consideration the amount of sleep each child has had that night, the food intake, attitudes, timing, and sometimes even the weather (ha, why not).

One thing that drives me crazy as a mom and compulsive healthy consumer is the "waiting area" at the checkout counter.    It is filled with all kinds of yummy, sugary goodness and a plethora of magazines that tell you what you need and DESERVE.

But for me and my household, we will NOT cave.  And in order to keep from caving we have to expose it for what it really is...a trap!

I explain to my kids that the people in the stores set out these things as traps to makes kids (and moms) greedy and to drive mamas crazy and eventually give into the demands of their kid's pleas.

I've found that the more I reveal these kinds of tactics the more my kids can learn to rise above it at an early age.  In fact, they see it as something to conquer!  Don't be afraid to explain it and make a game out of it!

Don't give into the trap.