Monday, April 29, 2013

Little Glimpses ~ The Past, The Present, The Future

April 2011
Sometimes I wonder what all Alethia remembers about her life before we found her.

Every once in a while I like to pull out a little Lugandan to see if she recognizes any words.

Her vocabulary, which once housed 3 fluent languages (as fluent as a 3-year-old can be anyway), none of which was English, now only comprehends English.  It's funny how the human brain works.

When asked about specific things in the babies home she will begin talking as though she remembers, but eventually the story morphs into a different memory that is most often a time while we were all together in Uganda or a memory of her life here.

But every once in a while, out of nowhere, she will say something that I have no recollection of.  A glimpse of the past.  And she gets this look in her eyes as if it is a distant memory, and not quite sure if it actually happened.

Most of her earliest remembrances only go back to our earliest days with her.  She frequently talks about the gum incident between her and Cai which we will never get to the bottom of, I am sure.  She also talks about how "mommy had to leave and I stay with daddy".  She talks about specific outfits she wore, or games we played.  When she talks a lot of it is of her time alone with Josh after we all left.

We talk very openly about her birth mother who gave life to her, but she doesn't seem to remember her at all.  We try to trigger memories of the Aunties who loved on her in the babies home and only get blank stares in return.

The photos of her friends in the orphanage are only strange faces to her now.

We have no intention of keeping her from knowing first-hand about her first culture and the heritage that she was birthed into.  It lies deep within all of our hearts.

Will she want to move back there?
When will she begin asking those tough questions?  The ones of infancy that I have no answers for?
Will she be bitter? Excited? Indifferent?

Time will only tell.

For now we will continue to store away those little glimpses of her unknown past as we make a beautiful present together, and pray that we will loosely hold the future for whatever the Lord has planned for our sweet Ugandan daughter, no matter where it may take her.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'll Never Understand

how Jude can detest yummy food that is given to him, resulting in target practice on the floor, but shovel handfuls of sand and dirt into his mouth and successfully swallow it without even a grimace of "grossness"

why the dentist always tries to carry on conversations with me while inserting their fist and tools in my mouth

how the kids can beg and beg for Josh and I to blow up the "big" pool, and then as soon as it is FINALLY filled up with water, they get distracted with the sticks and buckets in the yard that they completely forget the pool that they just begged to go swimming in

how Zeke can be SO full of energy...until he is asked to go clean up his costumes, with which he falls to the floor, moaning, because he is "just sooooo tired"

how the kids will finally start playing so sweetly soon as it's time to start getting ready for bed

how someone can put an ice cube tray back in the freezer with only 1 ice cube left in it

why Areyna can speed through her homework some days and other days, when there is actually LESS homework, it can take all.night.long

how shoes and sippy cups mysteriously disappear as soon as it's time to walk out the door

how toothpaste can end up all over the counter, smeared down the cabinet, on the floor, next to the toilet and on the curtains in the living room

how empty cereal boxes always make themselves back into the pantry

why dinner made by somebody else always tastes so much better

why going potty after lights out is always a much longer process than in the middle of play time

why Alethia's tummy only hurts when she is asked to eat her carrots, but miraculously heals by the time we pass out the cookies

Can you add to the list?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Lessons I Learn From My Kids' Lessons

Every week my kids come home with a "parent cue" card for discussion starters and activities to help reinforce the things they are learning in their classes at Journey.

This month they have been focusing on FRIENDSHIP.

Specifically this week is about serving.  And one way to serve is by encouraging.

So, like always, we asked their meal time question during our family breakfast time before school on Monday.

"Encouragement can be cheering on someone who is doing well, or cheering up someone who's going through a hard time.  Which one do you think is easier to do, and why?"

Simple enough.

When it was my turn I easily knew what comes most naturally for me.  It's easier for me to cheer someone up who is going through a hard time.

I wouldn't have normally even thought about it, until I was asked the "why" behind it.
The heart behind it.

I began using the example (real-life examples have an uncomfortable way of exposing heart issues in my own heart kids) of a little girl (who will go unnamed), who was dressed exceptionally cute (ie-matching colors and patterns) and was being praised for such a well-put-together outfit (which happens to not be a forte of hers).  Then another little girl (who will also go unnamed), begins pointing out all the things about herself that are going unnoticed.

Her "why" was jealousy.  She wanted everyone to see how pretty SHE was.  How lovely HER clothes were.

Then all of a sudden my own personal "why" was sitting there staring me in the face!


The times that it is hard for me to encourage others is when they are doing something well that I am personally good at.  Something that I may have given them the idea to do.  Something that I typically excel in.  Something that I have gone through.

I want the praise.  I want the pat on the back.  I want the recognition.  I want some credit.

But, according to the Bible, this is not the definition of a friend.

"A friend loves at all times.  He is there to help when trouble comes."
Proverbs 17:17

Yup, it looks like my kids definitely have some things to work on in this area;)

"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?
Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
Galatians 1:10

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Things That Make Jude...Jude

he loves to eat.

but if it's not what he has a hankering for he does the ol' grab and drop.
and the area around his chair proves it!
(yeah, we're working on that)

if he doesn't like the taste or texture of something he blows it out like he's blowing raspberries.
(yeah, we're working on this one too)

if someone is laying of the floor, he will charge you and stand straight up over you, followed by a very aggressive pounding down on the chest.
(yeah, we're working on the word "gentle")

he has this thing where he "dances" by rocking back and forth on his hands and knees incessantly.
(very odd, but super cute)

has has this other little thing where he laughs in my face when he is being disciplined or reprimanded.  The more stern I am, the harder he laughs.
(yeah, we're working on that as well, ha!)

We love you, Jude.  Every single, rotten little bit of you.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The View From Here ~ Making More Wishes

Colony Conversations - Potato, Pototo

Josh: "What IS that thing?"

Me: "I think it's a Rutabaga."

Josh: "I'm pretty sure a Rutabaga is a car."

Me: "Noooo, that's a Bungalow"


Me: "Cai-bo, the yellow marker fell on the floor. Will you put the top back on it."

Cai: "Or it will spill out?"

Me: "Um, yeah."


Cai: "Can I have another borrow?"

Me: "A what?"

Cai: "a borrow"

Me: "what is a borrow"

Cai: " like what we had for breakfast"

Me: "OH, a cereal bar?"

Cai: "yeah"



Josh: "Buddy, I can't come every time you draw a creepy eyeball. Draw lots of creepy things."


Cai: "Mom, where is that blue thing?"

Me: "What blue thing?"

Cai: "That little, big blue thing"

Me: I got nothin'


Me: "I hate how my desk gets cluttered so quickly!"

Josh: "Me too.  That's why I just clean mine off and stack it all up on your desk, ha!"

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Free-For-All

I woke up at 11am today.  I'm not really sure of the last time I slept in that late.  I just wanted to make sure that yesterday, and all the crappiness that it held, was totally over, ha!  Man was that sleep needed, though.

But I must add, we didn't get in bed until after 1am last night.  We decided to head to VA after rehearsal last night for one more visit with Josh's grandpa who isn't expected to be with us through the month.

So here we are, sitting in the living room, kids napping, rain pouring, TV on as we watch the news of the Boston Marathon Bombers unfold.  It all seems so surreal.

I know many of you have inquired, so here is the news on Rainy and Chickie's reunion.  Areyna is going to be heading to Uganda to visit, Chickie, her Ugandan friends, her cousins and to do a couple of days of ministry with her Meme and Poppie.  She'll be gone for a little over 3 weeks.  It really couldn't have worked out any better with her school schedule and track out.  We sure will miss her, but are so excited for this opportunity for her!

The plumbing is scheduled to be fixed in two weeks and we bought our first round of paint this past weekend.  Our Master bedroom will no longer be hunter green:)!  Let the house upkeep and updating begin!

Other than that, Colony life has been pretty uneventful.

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I Love...

...iced green tea on a relaxing afternoon

...the way Cai sings himself theme songs while eating, dressing, playing, pooping...

...the end of pilates class when we get to sit and "meditate" (this is my happy place)

...when Josh goes barefoot around the yard with his pant legs rolled up

...the feeling of being "all caught up"

...time to walk around in Target, by myself, with a starbuck's beverage, and no time restraints

...watching Alethia take care of her "babies". She is a nurturer to the core

...making lists Jude loves so much to be happy.  He'll start laughing at himself!

...creating blog post titles

...the way Zeke was more devastated about not being able to adequately celebrate his daddy's birthday than the fact that he was puking into a trash can every hour or so on Sunday

...moving furniture around to make everything feel fresh and new

...Rainy's love for critters

...a clean house

...breaking my own record for running a 5k

...seeing little glimpses of the softening the Holy Spirit does in my kid's hearts

...the perfect friends the Lord has placed in my life (even if I DO forget my early morning coffee dates with one of my favorite ones:(

...brilliant colors all around me

...listening to my first child give his life to Christ and tell the Lord that he wants to follow Him for the rest of his life

...and then adamantly insist on getting baptized, even when his fear is screaming against it!
the Colonypraying over Zeke before he got baptized
Josh got to baptize Zeke as his son AND brother in Christ!

#TBT - A Sunday Evening At The Park

Areyna Joy ~ Fall 2006

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just Me...Looking For Weeds

I may regret writing this post, but I've said before, one of the reasons I blog is because it is great accountability.

So here it goes...

I am entering myself into a clinical study, well not really, it's more of an experiment...that I'm making up as I go, with one sole purpose.  Heck, the rules may change half-way into the experiment, but that's not the point.

The point is to find contentment.

True contentment can only be found in Christ, and in Christ alone.
But things, activities, even people, can distract us from this contentment.

I am calling these distractions the "weeds".

These things, activities and people are NOT bad in and of themselves, but my sinful, selfish heart makes it a distraction from the grateful and thankful heart I SHOULD have for the overabundance of what I DO have.

Finding contentment looks different for everybody.
Everybody has different weeds in their own yards, so the process to uproot the weeds will almost always look different for you than it does for me.

This experiment, for myself, has been named, by me, THE CONTENTMENT EXPERIMENT, because that's what I am striving for.

A few examples:

1 - We just recently became homeowners.  The possibilities are endless (too bad the bank account isn't, ha!).  There are several things we need to do for health and safety reasons first, but man I would love to _______________________.  If I let my mind linger here too long I begin  wishing for things that just aren't.

So, after I created a Pinterest account for the first time, way too late at night, I might add, I realized that I probably shouldn't go back there to just "hang out".  I need to have a purpose for being there or the discontentment could set in pretty quickly.

I don't subscribe to, or hardly even thumb through, decorating magazines.  Yes, they can give me great ideas, but they also give me an unfulfilled desire for things that I don't need and projects that I can't afford.

I have stopped the weekly sale emails from stores for the exact same reason.  I don't need a sale for something, unless I NEED to look for a sale on something...does that make sense?

2 - Clothing/Style - oh my goodness, the amount of time and money one can spend on clothing and style can get outrageous.  I don't allow myself to "window shop" in Target anymore, unless, of course, there is a purpose (or adequate funding!).

3 - Parenting - there are websites and blogs out there with the best ideas and resources, but if they make me feel like an uncreative, boring mom, then I don't need them.

4 - Home school/Homemaker - the same goes for homeschooling and being a stay-at-home mom.  Tons of helpful resources and blogs of moms that make it work and share HOW they do it.  But man, if I read one more blog about how the mom of 8 home schools ALL her kids, while breastfeeding her cloth-diapered infant, buying ONLY organic food with coupons and always having enough energy at the end of the day for the perfect sex with her husband, all while taking the perfect photos of their family, then I am bound to feel inadequate!  (Okay, okay, I may be exaggerating a bit...see why I need to do this;)

So, nope, I'm just not going to go there.

5 - Body Image - fitness magazines.  I used to get a fitness magazine.  I loved it.  I really enjoyed the articles of the before and after fitness makeovers.  I also loved the little do-it-at-home sections with exercises laid out to do without a gym.  I can't lie and say they weren't motivating and helpful, but there were always these feelings of discontentment and a poor self-image with the body God created me to have (which is, by the way, a priority in my parenting, especially for my girls).  I mean let's face it, many of the women in those magazines genetically have the "fit" body of an athlete.  I don't see many normal to average people posing on the front cover, or the women with the ghetto bootie and large thighs that only get larger with exercise fitting into that spandex! (not that I have that issue or anything;)

So, no more lingering at the checkout while drooling over magazine covers or content.
No more reminders in my inbox of the season's must-have's and deal-breaking sales.
No more mindless surfing on the internet.
No more.

When those self-conscious thoughts or feelings of inadequacy begin to surface, I'm bouncing.

***FYI - this is not a type of fast from social media or anything.  It is just setting boundaries in areas of discontentment for me.  I may still need an idea of how to paint this hideous wood panelling in my living room, and that would be fair game for surfing around the web of creativity called Pinterest, I'm just not going to linger...too long:)***

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The View From Here

A Borrowed Easter

OK, so I completely blew it this Easter in the photo department.

I didn't even buy new outfits for my kids this year.  We went shopping in their closets and they "helped" me pick out an outfit that was kid-tested and mom-approved and we just went with it.

I had too many other things to think about, including a huge family get together/cookout/Easter egg hunt/goodbye shindig that had people arriving at the scene before we even got home from church on Sunday afternoon!

It was so, so much fun, but that is my rational for not getting many pictures of the chaos festivities:)

I managed to capture a couple during the Easter egg hunt on my phone and a borrowed group one from a friend.

So here you have it ~ Easter 2013
Alethia and her beautiful purple dress
My super sweet niece, Bella
the masses
on a mission
Thanks for this photo, Jenn!  She knows how to capture the impossible:)

Monday, April 15, 2013

The View From Here - Time Well Spent (Part 2)

Finding My Safety In The Bridegroom

I have a tainted view as I try to picture God as my groomsman.  Partly because of some of the books and devotionals that I've read that are so touchy-feely and "fluffy" that it makes me uncomfortable to picture Christ in that capacity.

But maybe I'm not supposed to actually picture him as my physical husband, but as my life-mate, finding rest, peace and safety in Him.

I just began going through You Belong To The BRIDEGROOM, another great devotional by Aliene Thompson.

"Just began", as in today, but I can already tell that it is going to be good.

Something grabbed my heart while reading through it that I'd never really even thought of.

So often we struggle with our past.  We are taunted by memories and life-long consequences from foolish choices that we made in our youth.  Satan uses our past to tempt, remind and/or condemn, when Christ tells us otherwise.

HE is our source of true forgiveness and HIS sacrifice paid the debt.
The fear of our past has been washed away.

But what about our future?
What about the fear of the unknown or getting old?

Here is what Isaiah 54:4-5 has to say about it:

"Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood
you will remember no more.
For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called."

So, fear not, for "the God of the whole earth" has redeemed not only your past, but your future as well.

Friday, April 12, 2013

3 Generations Of Cuteness

Zeke ~ Just 2 days shy of his 2-year Birthday

Cai ~ Just 2 days shy of 9-months
Jude ~ Just 2 days shy of 14 months

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Chickie and Rainy will soon be united once again!
Unless, of course, she became someone's dinner;)
(details to come)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Let Me Explain

When Zeke was diagnosed with anxiety last year I found myself so relieved.  Not out of a lack of empathy for the kid, Lord knows how hard it is to live with anxiety, but because I had a "why" for the majority of his behavioral issues.

But I still felt the need to "explain" his reactions and behaviors to friends, family and the innocent bystander who just got cut in front of at the drink machine.  I didn't want other people to think I was "that mom" who just allowed her child to act so out of control.

I mean, it really is all about me anyway, right?!

Then, yesterday I met up with a friend of mine.

She is in the exact same stage of parenting as I am, but she also has 2 teenagers to add to her brood of 6 (she just HAD to outdo the Colony by one, ha!)  She is a wealth of information, knowledge and ideas for this desperate mama.  She is in the trenches of infant hood, toddler hood and adolescent parenting all at the same time!  She is one of those mom's who I look at and want to gleam from, and luckily I get to call her "friend".

We escaped for a few hours from the many mommy-shadows we call children, for a walk around the small town with a bright future we call, Rolesville.  Our conversation led from one thing to another, but mostly circulated around parenting.

I hung onto every word she said, but one phrase one particular phrase stuck with me.  It is going to forever change my outlook on parenting and shaping these little hearts that have been entrusted to me.

She was talking about a certain situation with one of her kids and referred to their go-to line they repeat to their children.

"I don't care WHAT people say or think about you, as long as you are taking steps toward Jesus."

Not only do I want to live by this truth myself, but I want to teach my children that our parenting will not be based on what other people will think or say about them (or us as their parents for that matter).  They will be faced with dozens of choices a day, and each choice will either reflect a desire to take a step toward Jesus or away from Jesus.

I shouldn't feel the need to explain my children's behavior, but I should feel the need to talk to my kids about the choices they are making and how those choices affect their walk with Christ.

That should be the only explaining I need to do.

The View From Here

Monday, April 8, 2013

Not Me Monday

We all know that I don't fight the clothing battle.


So when Zeke comes running down the hall in his Spiderman get-up, right before heading out the door to meet our extended family for dinner at a restaurant, I'm totally cool with it.

It should really come as no surprise.

But I have to draw the line somewhere...right?!

Spidey must be tamed.
Trained in being civil with polite manners.

So, when the aforementioned Spidey, becomes thirsty, after fighting the bad guys off at the park outside of the restaurant with his sidekick HawkEye, he would politely come up to me, informing me of his thirst.
Thanks for the photo capturing our great mothering skills, Jenn;)
Because if he didn't let me know of his dire predicament,

he might just... inside the restaurant, that we had earlier frequented, full-masked and bare-footed, zipping in and out of tables like a maniac, searching for some kind of contraption to hold liquid, such as a small sauce cup on the condiment stand, and then, in his haste, completely cut in front of the line of people waiting to fill their drink cups, place his little sauce cup under the water tap, fill it to overflowing, and in everyone's shock and astonishment continue to hold up the line in order to guzzle it down until his thirst had been quenched.

Completely oblivious to the fact that he just ran into a restaurant full of people, and not into our kitchen, to get a drink.

Gosh, can you imagine?!

If that ever happened to me I don't know if I'd own up to being responsible for that child;)

Friday, April 5, 2013


I have this thing.

It's a blessing.
It's a curse.

See, I empathize with others.
I empathize DEEPLY with others.

It's almost like when you hear those stories of men who begin to gain "sympathy weight" as their wives gain weight while pregnant, ha!

When a friend is hurting, it's as if I am carrying that burden for/with them and my heart actually hurts too...literally.

If someone in my family is going through something really tough, it literally takes a toll on my health.

Josh and I talk often about how other's circumstances effect me so deeply.  It really is such a blessing, but there HAS to be some way to balance it.  (I'll let you know if I ever come across that little secret;)

But, when something happens like what happened on Wednesday I'm done for!
We watched their airplane take off to reunite their family together in Uganda.
If you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about it's like this:
You know when you get so fed up with "stuff" and the busyness of life in America and say, "I just want to sell everything and move to Africa!"?  Well, my brother and sister-in-law did.  Wednesday we sent them off as missionaries to Uganda as they finish up their adoption process in-country for their daughter, Chloe.

Sure I've got tears of sadness because they will be missed, but I am way more excited (and maybe even a bit jealous) to see how the Lord unfolds this adventure before them simply because they continue to say "yes"!

But this situation was different than so many of the other times I have been so deeply burdened.  This situation effected every ounce of me!  As they sifted through their belongings I couldn't help but purge through mine.  As I prepared to head to the airport to see them off all the emotions of our own journey came flooding back in.

This very realistically could have been us on that airplane to Uganda.  I didn't have to imagine very hard as to what it would have felt like to be faced with that decision.

I remember the conversations Josh and I had as we were feeling our way around this process, wondering what our options were, knowing that moving to Uganda may be the choice we would be faced with.

As I sat in front of my computer, stalking their twitter pages in anticipation of their reunion with Chloe, I had a million "what if's" plaguing my mind.

What if we wouldn't have gone first?
What if there was something different we could have done in order to prevent the red flags that caused even more red flags with Jonathan and Kelly's case?
What if, what if, what if...

But if I'm gonna play the "what if" game, then I need to allow myself to go the other way too.

What if we would have never been burned so bad at that church, which led us to visit Jonathan and Kelly to get away from it all, and hear of a friend who was working at a church called Journey.
What if we hadn't have talked them into visiting Journey with us instead of that other one they wanted to visit,
What if they hadn't begun attending regularly, and later stepping in full-time on staff.
What if Jonathan and Kelly hadn't encouraged us to give Journey a shot, when we were completely scared to death to put both feet back into a church position.
What if Jonathan hadn't encouraged Journey to partner with AAI, which led to the means to build the babies home, which led us to Alethia (and Chloe).

Sometimes the what if's lead to the destiny that God has laid before us.

We weren't meant to be the ones to move to Uganda for an extended amount of time.  He is working on our trust and love for the local church body.  He has bigger plans for us here in Raleigh.

He chose the family that would bring Him the most glory!  A family who ONLY GOD could move to make such a bold step of faith, AMEN!

So when I get that tinge of guilt as I enjoy my first world pleasures, knowing that we could be the ones with limited electricity and hot water, all I need to do is look at the testimony of Jonathan and Kelly and the peace that God has given them through all of this, and be reminded of the bigger picture.

To God be the glory!

So proud to have a front row seat to the small yes's that are telling a much bigger story:)
Their entire family all together for the first time!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Keepin' The Frizzies Out

We have the hardest time keeping fuzzies and lint out of Alethia's hair!  I had a friend suggest getting a night cap.  I found one at Wal-Mart for about $4!  It is silky and purple.  What more could a little African princess ask for?!  It keeps lint out of her hair, protects her hair from breakage, keeps products in to allow them to soak into the scalp which also alleviates the need to wash her pillow case every few days!  I'm sold!