Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On NOT Raising Lazy Children

I don't want to raise lazy, selfish kids.

I want to teach my kids that hard work is satisfying.
Even when we don't see the fruit of our labor right away.

That doing the right thing is tough but it pleases the Lord and will give us a peace in our spirit.

Sometimes hard work ends up being something we don't necessarily LIKE to do, but we can still do our job "as unto the Lord" and with a grateful and thankful heart.

I want to let go of my ideas of how things should be done around the house, in order to teach them that they can be a valuable asset to this family and that we function TOGETHER.

This means that dishes are probably going to get broken when being put away, and some of the sticky areas under the kitchen table will get missed, and the compost bin might get dropped before making it to the pile.

It also means that it's okay that the boys don't necessarily fold their clothes before putting them in their designated drawers (they take great pride in their laundry helping abilities, ha!), that flour will inevitably end up in every crevice of the kitchen while making dinner, and that things will take 5 times longer to get done...

I'm learning to let all that go and rejoice in these little ways (which are actually BIG ways) in which we are teaching our kids to contribute to this family and smile at the unity we are building along the way, (even if the activities begin with grumpy attitudes:).

Monday, November 25, 2013

He Calls Them Each By Name

We were up for the sixth night in a row, because let's face it, just because you are out of the newborn phase doesn't mean you magically get to sleep an entire night in peace.  It's true, we aren't nursing an infant or consoling a colicky baby, but we are praying bad dreams away and nursing sick children back to health.  Then you enter the hormonal stage where consoling hurt feelings and broken relationships keep you up until dawn.  And then the kids being out too late as you pray them safely home is what keeps you up all night.

Anyway, this night we were up with Zeke.  A nasty stomach bug had swept over the Colony and Josh and I were tired.  I'm pretty sure we would benefit from a good ol' steam cleaning of every inch of these carpets.  Zeke had come in and was in need of assistance.  As Josh helped him in another room I begrudgingly climbed up the ladder into his bed to begin the process of changing his sheets.  Have you ever tried to change sheets on the top bed of a bunk bed?  Oh.My.Gosh.  That alone will bring words to my mouth that would shock my mother (I didn't say them out loud, mom).

As I began clearing out the mountains of stuffed animals, costumes, extra undies, books, markers, flashlights, blankets...we should seriously put a cap on the amount of "friends" this boy can bring to bed...I secretly began scheming a way to "get rid" of some of those furry friends.

But Zeke knows which animals belong in his bed.

And when I say he knows, I mean HE KNOWS!

He knows when one of them is missing.
He knows them each by name.

Even when they are all out of place in a fury of pillows and bedding.

After replacing his old sheets with fresh ones my heart began softening as I meticulously tucked in all the covers and began placing each one of his little "friends" in their designated place.

You should have seen Zeke's face when he climbed back into his bed and nuzzled under his tightly tucked-in covers and realized that all his friends were there with him, doing exactly what they were designed to do.

He was so pleased.
He felt at rest.

As I sleepily walked back down the hall to my bed I couldn't help but thank God for knowing each of His children.
And not only for knowing us, but calling each of us by name.
Even when we are out of place in a fury of selfishness and misdirection.
He knows exactly where we are and is loving us still.

"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him,
and the sheep listen to his voice.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."
John 10:3

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Story In Pictures ~ Recipe for the most imperfect perfect birthday party

One beautifully excited birthday girl

Simple on-hand snacks

guilt-free, homemade party favors
(almost slivers, craisins, banana chips, chocolate chips and pretzels)

homemade, simple cupcakes
decorated by none-other-than the youngest ladies of the house

a boy trip next door to borrow the neighbor's flatbed
and fill it with bales of hay

and all the cutest, local cousins

hook 'em all up to the back of the trooper and drive around our fields a few times

the most un-stressful birthday party to date

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No Pressure

I work pretty well under pressure...if it's to help with someone else's problems.
Gathering resources, or baby clothes, or donations, or scanning groceries super fast during a hurricane (I was the fastest cashier at Piggly Wiggly as a teenager.  I have a little too much pride about this fact, ha!), I could do these things all day!

Why is it that it seems way easier to help "fix" someone else?

Unfortunately, that doesn't tend to be the case when dealing with my own insecurities or problems.
Sometimes I surprise myself and can just laugh things off, but typically, if I'm honest, the voices inside scream "FAILURE" when I don't live up to my own expectations.

See, I'm a perfectionist at heart and I tend to give myself unrealistic expectations.

I want to have it "all together", so when I walk into the grocery store with my little Ugandan princess' hair looking like she stuck her finger in a light socket...fail.

I want to be the mom that cooks a well-balanced meal every night for her family, so when the clock turns 5 and I haven't had a chance to even BEGIN to put something together...fail.

I want to document the early years of my children and keep scrap booking, but I've lost the motivation, time and area to make this happen right now...fail.

I want to be emotionally and mentally stable 100% of the time.  I want to be a mom who my kids can rely on, not wondering how I'm going to react to something, but being confident that I will be the mom I need to be when it all hits the fan.  And the wife Josh needs me to be when he's out of town, to confidently and gracefully hold the fort down while he's away.  And then I go and lock my best friend out of the house and have a complete breakdown...FAIL!

If I carefully look back at all of these scenarios I can see a pattern.  These are all things I expect of myself and long for others to see in me.  I highly doubt that my family would be disappointed if I allowed us to go out to eat every once in a while.  And Alethia was probably thankful for the break from the painful, time-consuming hair styling.  I don't think my kids will have to go to the nut house just because I lose my temper every once in a while and prove that I am, in fact, NOT perfect at all.  And the scrap book, and endless files of pictures and memories, well those will just have to be documented in a different way (hence the reason for this blog).

I'd actually venture to say that my kids will probably benefit from a mom who can't hold it altogether, but rather, is forced to depend on the only one who can, and a mom who makes good use of the words, "I'm sorry".

After my lock-my-friend-out-of-the-house episode, my husband ended up coming home, with open arms, looked my in the eyes, and firmly told me "it's okay to be imperfect".

I can't tell you have much I needed to hear those words.
It's not that anyone ever made me feel the need to be perfect.  That was my own downfall.  But just hearing him reiterate what I already knew was so freeing.

Take the pressure off of yourself.  Lay down those impossible expectations.

We aren't meant to be super human, just super dependent on God and willfully submitting to His refining of our selves.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oh, That Kid With The Cape? ~ a Zeke schooling update

I just got back from a conference with all of Zeke's classroom teachers, principals and special resources teachers.

They kept talking about this little boy.

They were remembering when he began at the school just one year ago.
He had to be wrestled out of bed, then wrestled to the breakfast table, then wrestled out of the car, then wrestled down the hallway to his classroom, then fought anxiety with every single transition throughout the day.
He was timid.
He was shy.
He was fearful.
He didn't know his letters.
He couldn't even count to 10.
Writing his name was even difficult for him.

But now...
...now he's the boy who is a joy to be around.
They can't get him to stop telling his cute stories.
He can determine what mood everyone in the room is in upon entering because of his sensitivity.
He has tons of friends.
He LOVES science and is beginning to read.
He can count to 100 by 5's AND 10's.
He still writes backwards and upside down, but he doesn't do it without a fight to get it right.

This boy is known for,
playing hard
wearing a cape on the playground every day (we still aren't sure where he hides that thing throughout the day and this is my first time hearing about the caped boy at school)
wearing his coat for security
guzzling water from his water bottle all day
He is known for laying hands on his friends and praying for them if they are sad in class or get hurt on the playground.
telling stories to avoid doing work
putting his hood on so he doesn't have to read
slinking down in his chair so that the only thing his teacher can see is his head
doing work with his feet in the air and twisting around his chair in circles

If anyone at the school refers to "the kid with the cape" his teacher's know, "Yeah, that's Zeke".

Oh, you wanna know who that boy with the cape is?
Yup, that's MY boy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The View From Here

Words Worth Remembering

Cai:"Mom, I wanna go to the tooth fairy."
Cai:"Are we going to the tooth fairy tomorrow?"
Me:"Oooohhhh, the DENTIST?"
Cai:"Yeah, I wanna go to the dentist!"


Rainy:"So, I have a list in my book bag of things to do instead of drugs."


Me:"...and we all have beautiful eyes that God gave us so that we can see all the things around us."
Cai:"but not old people"
Alethia:"yeah, not old people"
Cai:"'cause they can't see weewy good"
Alethia:"yup, 'cause they are old"

(I'm pretty sure this conversation is "fact" because our elderly neighbor is blind)


Cai:"Mom, does daddy have to go to Jowney today?"
Me:"Nope! It's Friday, Daddy's day off!"
Cai:"But is he gonna go jogging?"
Me:"I think we're gonna work out with the video today."
Cai:"Aw maaaan!  That's gonna take forEVER!"
Alethia:"You don't want him to work out with the TV?"
Cai:"Noooo! It's gonna take a long time:("


Me:"Zeke you need to sift through those clothes and put them where they belong."
Zeke:"Some of them are dirty.  You know how I can tell, mom? I can smell them and know if they need to go in the dirty laundry!"

(He's brilliant!)


Cai:"I loooooove my awmy glubs!"
translation:"I love my army gloves."


Rainy:"Alethia, it's your birthday! You're not supposed to be mean on your birthday."


Cai:"I don't want Alethia to turn 5.  Hers supposed to stay 4 with me."


Zeke:"Dad, somebody at Journey told Alethia to marry him!"
Josh:"What?!  You told him 'no', right?"
Cai:"Yeah, you's too little to get married!"
Alethia:"Yeah, I told him 'no'."
Josh:"Was he black or white?"
Alethia:"He was white."
Josh:"Well, you know it doesn't matter what color his skin is, as long as he loves Jesus and adores you!"


Cai:"Girls go first. Boys go last.  That's what daddy says."


Zeke:"My teacher's son just turned a teenager, but she said he was a nice teenager.  Why are sometimes teenagers mean?"
Me:"Well, sometimes teenagers are just trying to figure out how to make their own decisions and a lot of times their choices are the foolish ones."
Zeke:"Were you a mean teenager?"
Me:"I wasn't really a mean teenager, but I definitely didn't make wise choices."
Me:"I don't know.  I guess I just thought it would be more fun to do the stupid stuff, but I made Nonnie and G-daddy cry a lot because it always hurts a mommy and daddy's hearts to see their kids make foolish choices."
Zeke:"Did Nonnie have to yell at you?"
Me:"Only 'cause she was frustrated and sad.  But mostly she just cried."
Zeke: after a minute of grasping this conversation in silence "I'm really glad you aren't that person anymore, mom."
Me:"Me too buddy. Me too."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Say What You Mean To Say

I was really wrestling with God a few weeks ago, over some things.

It was beginning to weigh me down and affect multiple areas of my life.

I've said many times that one way I process is through writing.  That's why so many of my blog posts are simply my written thoughts.

I finally realized that maybe if I could write all the things down that were stirring around in my head that I could make some sense of it all, and get to the bottom of it.

I began writing.

It ended up turning into pages of confession to God.

It was weird though.  You know when you are asked a personal question and you are left with the choice of answering the way you WISH you would be or respond, or with the ACTUAL way you typically are or respond.  That's where I stood.

I was about a paragraph of the way into my "confession" time and I realized that I wasn't even being honest!  I was writing the right "Christian" things but at the same time it wasn't the TRUE things.

I was just going through the motions instead of allowing my heart to be completely broken open and exposed.

I really did want God to change my heart.
I really did want God to show me my faults.
But it came down to gut-wrenching honesty.

I would write: "God, maybe it's because I might be a little sad that __________", instead of "Gosh, I'm downright jealous that I don't get to _____________" or "it makes me so mad when _______________".

I was holding back my true feelings as if it would protect me from something.

Finally, something got ahold of me and I stopped writing. I began to read over what I had been writing and realized what I was doing.  That paragraph was wrapped in denial, self-pity and rationalized thinking.  Those things were going to get me NOWHERE!

All of a sudden I felt free!
Free to write EXACTLY how I was feeling.
Free to expose my heart in order to receive true transformation.
Free to be who I really was.

And that freedom turned into true confession which cultivated a soft heart which was necessary for the healing and change I needed to get past it all.

God sees through it all, and until we are willing to lay it all out there and expose ourselves for who we really are, change will only be surface and temporary.

So stop wasting your time!
Say what you mean to say from the beginning.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Letters To Alethia ~ To The Girl Who Stole My Heart

Alethia Grace,

My little brown skinned, Ugandan princess.

I always said I could adopt.  I never thought I actually WOULD adopt.

Over three years ago you stole my heart.

I began imagining life with you in it.

Now I can't imagine life WITHOUT you!

The day we picked you up from the babies home I held you in my arms the entire drive back to Jinja as you slept.  I couldn't stop staring at you.  You were so small.  So beautiful.  So scared.

I was so scared.  To be quite honest I was afraid of the forever that had just rocked our family's world.  I wasn't sure I was up for the hard work that was required. 

How was I supposed to love you the same?

Two years in and I am finally learning that I'm not supposed to love you the same.  I am supposed to love you AS MUCH, but I am supposed to love you differently.

You process differently, you hold on differently, you attach differently, your feelings get hurt differently, you view the world differently.

Loving you and mommying you has been one of the most eye opening things I've ever experienced.  Being your mommy has opened my eyes to just how selfish I am.

I may have missed those hours of staring into your eyes while providing food for you as an infant and watching you sleep peacefully after a day trying to master a new milestone but I have you NOW.

I am not always the most patient and understanding mommy that you need, but I am learning.

I pray that God will continue to mold me to be exactly what you need.
I pray that God will soften your heart toward Him.
I pray that you will always know we love you and that you can take pride in the Via you are!

You are ours,
You are God's,
and I love you with all my heart.

Happy Birthday,
Love Mommy

Monday, November 11, 2013

Last Night's Stats

1 question
Colony kids:"Can we sleep outside tonight?"

1 SHOCKING answer

5 turned heads and opened mouthed responses (4 kids / 1 adult)

1 reiteration

20 minutes deciding the perfect place to setup camp

132 "You are the BEST MOM EVER!"'s

27 trips in and out of the house to obtain the much needed "supplies" which included, but are not limited to:
4 pillows
8 blankets
6 costumes
18 stuffed animals
3 light up pillow pets
2 bubbies
74 pairs of undies
1 laundry bag for dirty laundry (of course)
4 bags of homemade pop corn
4 water bottles
3 changes of clothes for each child
4 ecstatic kids patiently awaiting the sun to go down to begin their adventure

46 "This is the BEST NIGHT EVER!"'s

2 bets on the table
(Josh ~ 8:30 / Me ~ 9:00)

1 dinner quickly scarfed down in order to get back on the trampoline campsite

20 dropped degrees and 2 hours in ~ still going strong!

a handful of trips in and out to make sure me and daddy are okay;)

45 more minutes of leaf falling games, telling stories and star gazing

2 full mama and daddy hearts as we watched from our perch in the living room by the fire

1 cold little Cai-bo almost done

1 little pep talk to tell him that "he can do it"

1 more trip back outside when 1 little cold thumb got shut in the door

1 crying, cold and tired Cai-bo was ready for bed at 9:45

30 minutes later and the rest of the crew who had braved the cold decided to call it quits

15 minutes of trips carrying in leaf-covered blankets, underwear and stuffed animals

10:25 pm marks the time that all 5 little Colony kids lay warm in their beds and fast asleep

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Free-For-All ~ unconventional ways of making coffee and the lie I told my kids

I lied to my kids last night.
They are INFATUATED with our new refrigerator (thank you friends for this gift, BTW!) that has dispensing water and ice. (It really is the small things around here, ha!)
Last night I had stepped in one too many melted ice puddles and made a very rash decision.  I pushed the lock button.
Zeke frantically came running down the hallway yelling, "MOM, it's broken! It's BROKEN!"  I told him that the frig just does that when it has to "fill back up".  His response, "Oh cool!".  Yup, we may be "locking" the refrigerator down after dinner every night:)

I woke up this morning, like I do every morning (thank God He isn't done with me yet), and dragged myself into the kitchen to make coffee.  I rinsed the coffee maker out and prepared it to make some fresh brew.  I had part of one bag left before opening the newest one so it was going to be the Tasha blend this morning.

I emptied the contents of the first bag into the coffee maker.
I forgot the coffee filter.
Ha. I must really be tired!
I carry on with my process and try to salvage the grounds into a filter and re-rinsing.

Disaster averted.

I open up the new canister and begin scooping into the now-placed-into-the-coffee-machine coffee filter.
About 2 scoops in I realize that these grounds are not really even grounds, they are beans.
Oh good grief!

After several minutes of coffee-ground-bean-mess-making I just decide that some of the beans can be left with the grounds for some added "flavor" and proceeded with the accurate way of making coffee.

And that, my friends, is the way this week has been.

I've had to do, and re-do things, and say, and re-say things, and reiterate, and re-reiterate things all week.


BUT, it IS Friday, Josh's day off.
And it is sunny, praise the Lord!
And it is FALL.
And I do have so, so much to be grateful and thankful for.

So happy Friday ya'll!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Redefining Your Job Description

If you are doing a task that almost never follows the job description it's nearly impossible to find satisfaction and contentment.

I am in a season of little people right now.

My world revolves around teaching the letters of the alphabet, keeping the sink empty and the dishwasher filled, fostering an atmosphere of forgiveness and servant hood, trying to get at least 1 bath in for the littles a week, keeping clothes on 5 little bodies (even if the Spider man costume gets sneaked into one of their classes unbeknownst to me), wiping stickies off of the refrigerator handles (and the car doors and light switches and kitchen table and...), sibling spats, concocting new ways to feasibly keep all these little hungry bellies full, endless question of when the next meal is, nap times and housecleaning.

When I get in a resentful rut or begin feeling sorry for myself because I can't go out with my girlfriends as much as I want, or go out to eat, or work out as much, or go to that show downtown, or go with Josh to that awesome gig out of town, or on the mission trip to Haiti (one day, Jenn, one day!), I just have to remind myself of my job description.

It is constantly changing and I can't dwell of the job description from my 20's or even from last year, for that matter.

If I can align my expectations with my current job description I am more likely to find my fulfillment in the (seemingly) mundane.

So for now my job description looks something like this:


Number one cheerleader for the head of the family. Comforter and provider for the colony children.  Responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the household.

To create an atmosphere of peace, love and unity among the family unit, focused on Jesus Christ.


  • wake up with enough time to focus mind and guard heart for the day
  • selfless, undying love for the man of the house
  • patience and creativity with the colony children
  • provide loving correction and teaching for the colony children
  • keep up with household chores: laundry, cleaning, dishes, cooking, etc.
  • healthy habits to ensure mental stability! (you laugh, but it's a MUST for me)

to accomplish above mentioned tasks with a happy, selfless, servant heart

Everything else is a BONUS!
Getting to work out 3 days this week.
Time to sit and read at a coffee shop (or locked in the back bedroom) alone.
Girls night out.
A date night to see a favorite band.
The ability to go on the road for the weekend with my man and play with incredible musicians.

The Bonus things are GREAT, but fulfilling my personal job description is fulfilling and satisfying:)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Free-For-All ~ superheroes, throwbacks and gym memberships

Jude refuses to use covers at night.  Not only will he not cover up with them but he can hardly even stand them being in his bed.  Now his bed contains his pillow pet, a bubby and his cute little self.

I had a realization during the never ending laundry escapade...Areyna wears clothes only 2 sizes smaller than I do!  We are about to be able to share clothes.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Josh and I enrolled at a new gym.  The rates are rather impressive, it has FREE personalized childcare, and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!  I just completed my maiden voyage with Insanity this morning.  It totally kicked my butt, and there are sweat marks on the floor to prove it!
We went trick-or-treating with our friends last night.  Combining our 5 with her 6 and her sister's 2 we had quite the entourage.  I'm pretty sure a few houses had to turn off their porch lights after we raided their candy buckets:-)  I know you are thinking, oh my, what about your safety, but don't worry!  We were staffed with a half dozen superheroes, a doctor, a firefighter, and a fairy godmother to grant us any wishes, just to cover all the bases:)
Left: Jude(Batman) and his buddy Isaac(bear) 2012 ~ Right: Jude(Superman) and his buddy Isaac(fireman) 2013
riding in the same wagon ~ feeding each other lollipops ~ too much cuteness!

Cai has a friend from Journey named Fisher.  I've never met him or his mother, but Cai, and sometimes even Alethia, speak of him often!  He sounds like a very sweet boy.  Cai pronounces his name, Fish-O.  I spoke for a women's group on Wednesday evening, and wouldn't you know, Fisher's mom was one of the ladies in the group!  I was THRILLED to come home and tell Cai that I FINALLY met his friend's mommy so we can get them together to play!  I love that we have family close by and that our kids are blessed to be able to play with them so often, but there is something about seeing your kids branch out and meet new "un-family" friends that is really special!

That's all I got!

Happy NOVEMBER 1st ya'll!