The Colony has an open door policy.
That just means that we want to have a home where we long for people to feel safe coming to.
We don't want them to feel as though they have interrupted our life. Rather, we long for it to be a place where they can organically insert themselves into our family and just "be".
A couple of years ago we opened our home up to a homeless mom and her teenage daughter. They resided in the living room of our 3 bedroom home on our couch for 3 weeks as they healed from past experiences, tried to refresh their outlook on life, and worked to get back on their feet. The daughter quickly referred to me as her "white mama" as I hung out with her and tried to love on her in the afternoons while her mom was out trying to make some money at a new job so they could start a fresh life. I loved it. And the kids loved it, except for the weave that kept getting wrapped around their toes from the bathroom floor where they fixed their hair:)
Please don't read into this and get a glorified picture of how it was. These are some of the happy moments. There were some very difficult moments within those 3 weeks as we learned how to live with 2 strangers in our small-for-9-people home. And the ending of this story still breaks my heart, but let me get to the point of me sharing this moment in time.
I believe I parented well during those 3 weeks.
In fact, I'd go as far to say that it may have been the best 3 weeks of parenting I had consistently ever had.
Because our family was under watch 24/7. These two ladies watched and mentally took notes. They knew who we were. They knew what we stood for. They knew where my husband worked and what we claimed with our mouths. And now they wanted to see if we were actually going to live it out.
We were put to the test as we waded through parenting and life with these two just waiting for us to mess up so they would have another excuse to steer clear of the church and the claims of the believers who had previously shut them out.
It was quite an adjustment after they left. Yes, we had our home back, but we were emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted and, as I felt the freedom to finally let my guard down, my poor family were stuck in the undertow.
There was another time when Josh got the brilliant idea that we should live-stream our Christmas tree decorating with the Colony. If you were one of the lucky ones who tuned into that live event I owe you a HUGE thank you! You kept those blasphemous words from exiting my mouth and that spoon from spanking on a whim, or from throwing those blasted un-lit, forever-tangled-up Christmas light strands from being thrown across the room, ha!
But man, when that camera turned off I was that crazy mama who got sent to the "cozy couch" for some cool down time.
These are just two examples.
I don't want to put on a show.
No, I really want to be a consistent parent, who disciplines with grace and love ALL.THE.TIME.
I don't want to yell, but dang, when there are Colony kids who are all going in different directions a mamas just gotta yell to get their attention sometimes. (See how easy it is rationalize?)
But I guarantee that I wouldn't dare raise my voice (at least NEARLY as much) if someone were over at my home for the afternoon or hanging out for the weekend. Oh no, I can keep it together that long.
It's not even the fact that I'm trying to put on a show or be something I'm not. I'm merely being the mom I know I CAN be and using all my energy to do so.
But I'm not a mom to the rest of the world.
My primary mission field isn't to everyone else who comes in the door (that doesn't mean I'm off the hook with them either, but it means that my primary purpose in THIS season is to the husband and the 5 littles who already reside with me on a day-to-day basis.)
I want to be the same mom I am when we have someone enter our home, as I am at 8:30pm when the boys keep coming out of their beds to "tell you sum'pin mama". Or when the girls get a creative streak with fingernail polish and their Barbie car. Or when Zeke has one of his episodes.
I know I will NEVER arrive at "perfect mom" status.
That not the point!
I simply want to strive to parent (and wife) as though someone were always watching. Because my littles are. And my husband is. And for goodness sakes, my Heavenly Father is.
Yes, I will be held accountable for the way I love on others.
But sometimes that's the easy part.
I need to remember that I will be held just as accountable for how I react and respond to life when the company is gone. When the doors close for the night. When NOBODY ELSE is watching but the ones God gave me who call me mama.
"If you really want to understand a man,
don't just listen to what he says but watch what he does."
~ Maurice Blondel ~
P.S. If you can't get out of the yelling-at-your-kids rut or the, how-am-I-supposedl-to-even-handle-this-3-year-old problem I would encourage you to invite a family or young couple over for dinner. Take notes on your own reactions and responses while people are watching. THAT, my friends, is how we are supposed to parent. Let others be your constant accountability.