Monday, September 30, 2013

So Quickly They Forget ~ Being Grateful Children In Abundant America

It is amazing to me how quickly the feelings of entitlement and greed can creep into me our kids.

So often the only way we can teach our kids to be grateful and "eat the food on their plates" is to tell them that there are some kids across the globe who don't even have food to eat.  Or to "be grateful for ALL their toys" and "picking them up is showing thankfulness and being good stewards" when other children only have balls made out of wrapped-up corn husks and baby dolls made from sticks.  We can even pull up pictures and stories on the internet to give them a visual.

It wasn't too long ago, that we were THERE!  As a matter of fact, this day, two years ago, we were at the babies home as a whole family, joining Alethia to ours.  For the next 3 months our hearts and home were in Jinja.  When you are in that culture it is much easier to be reminded of the lack of abundance we had in America.  When the cold water is trickling out of the "shower" you REMEMBER the big, clean bathtub filled with hot water from America.  When you have Chapatti for lunch AGAIN, you most definitely remember driving up to a window with already prepared food in a big bag just waiting to pass it out.  You are faced first-hand with the depravity of stuff and food and shelter.  And you see, first-hand, those "other kids" who don't have food, toys and clothes.

It wasn't long ago that Alethia was one of those kids.  She didn't have shoes to wear, a soggy rag wrapped around her bottom for a diaper, playing with the broken toys contained within one basket to be shared with over 50 other kids.  She had been known to sleep in a bed filled with diarrhea, had Malaria more times than could be counted, had had a quinine overdose and ate the same meals every day.  She was that kid!

And yet, when our church began gathering shoes this past month to take over to a babies home, ALETHIA's BABIES HOME, she wanted none of it.  It was difficult for her to let go of a single pair of shoes that no longer fit her.  She cried when I mentioned donating them.  OH she cried!

I lovingly sat down with her and reminded her of her friends at the babies home who did not have ANY shoes.  We reminisced about her time there and how little she had and then reminded her that God takes care of us.  Here she has a mommy and daddy who can buy her shoes that fit at any given time, but in Uganda, God provides shoes for those kids through US!  It wasn't long before she got an excited look on her face and proudly picked up her shoes to take to church for her friends at the babies home.  In fact, she is the one who kept reminding me to grab them as we walked out the door so we wouldn't forget.

Teaching gratefulness looks a lot different in America where options are endless and possessions are abundant, and where seeking out the needy must be intentional.  But we are DETERMINED to keep reminding our kids that everything we have is a gift from God no matter where we live, that He ALWAYS provides for His children and that we can be the source of that gift, if only we will allow it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Free-For-All ~ Reading Until Dawn

Good-bye Summer, it's been nice playing with you.

Hello fall!
Hello cool, crisp mornings.  Hello pumpkin spice scented candles and fall decorations.  Hello beautiful colors and entire days spent outside.  Hello open windows and happy hearts.

Rainy and Zeke track back in on Monday.  It is a bitter sweet thing.  While I am going to enjoy the normal routine of life and the days of only 3 littles to mother for a few hours a day, I am going to miss leisurely mornings and multiple-kid-problem-solving play and late night fun.  But that's the good thing about year-round schools, you get to do it all over again in just a few short weeks!

We have a massive hole in our backyard right now.  I can't blame it on anything other than the kids being in their own world a few days ago, which lead to brilliant ideas and plans for the dirt patch, which lead to shovels and digging and dirt baths and dirt in hair and ears and diapers...and eventually, yes, I did give some of them Jude a bath!
We have entered the sweetest ever season with Areyna.  I'd been trying to get her to read the chapter book that her Uncle Andrew and Aunt Dana gave her for her birthday, A Cricket In Time Square, but naturally it wasn't going to happen because it was a mom idea;)  Well wouldn't you know, she began reading it "undercover", literally, at night with her little bed light.  The more she read, the more she got into the book and characters, until she was staying up way into the night.  She finally finished the book last week and was dying to read MORE.  You better believe I jumped on the momentum and found some books for just a few cents on Amazon.  Rainy was literally waiting on the front driveway for them to arrive in the mail:-)  In the meantime our friend, Bonnie, brought over an armful of her kids old books for Rainy to read while she waited.  She is probably 3/4 into Charlotte's Web and is still going strong!  I am ecstatic!
Along the same vein, the other kids have been noticing Areyna following along and highlighting in her Bible during family devotions at nighttime.  They keep asking for a Bible and wanting to know what page we are on so that they can follow along too.  Since I am a responsible mother I told them that one day, when they were older and more responsible and mature we'd purchase a Bible for each of them and teach them how to take care of it and keep the pages nice and crisp...JUST KIDDING!  I found a good deal of some children's study Bibles that they can grow into and ordered them right away.  You would have thought I gave them the moon as we passed them out.  Their eyes were big and their thank you's have been numerous.  So naturally, we did have a lesson on how to care for their Bibles, (ie. keeping up with them at church and not bringing them outside and leaving them in the rain:), but went right into how to mark them up!  Bibles are not meant to sit neatly on a shelf.  They are weapons and are gonna get dirty, and colorful:)

Here's to many more years of coloring in Bibles and reading under the covers until dawn.

Happy Friday ya'll!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Words Worth Remembering

Cai:"Did you know that 'getting girls' is punching them? I'm not going to punch Alethia. I'm NOT!"


Cai:"Can I eat my cookie now?"
Me:"Yeah silly, we don't need to pray over our cookies."
Josh:"I guess we could pray over our cookies to keep the extra pounds away."
***simultaneous Colony laughter and cookie eating***
Zeke: freafully screaming: "NO! Don't eat your cookies!  We need to pray the ... away!  The, ummm, what did you say dad?"
Zeke:"I don't want pounds.  Dad can you pray it away?! ... What is pounds?"


Alethia:"Cai, you're pretty."
Cai:"No I not, I'm AWESOME!"


Cai:"I accidentally cut my pants in school today.  I am going to sell them so I can grow another one."


Zeke:"Alright people, you are fitmissed to your class."
Rainy:"Zeke, it's DISmissed."


Cai:"Zeke, you're my favorite dude."


Cai:"MOM, I just saw more stumps where dead people are died."



Cai:"Okay, my turn!  I spy something WED!"
Alethia:"What is it?"
Cai:"It's the wed lights on the wed caw!"
Alethia:"Yay!  Okay, now it's MY turn.  I spy something..."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Don't Wait Until You Can Afford It

"You'll never be able to AFFORD to have kids."

Ain't that the truth!

If you wait until all your "ducks are in a row" and you have adequate savings in place and your life plan laid out to begin a family, you will NEVER get started.

Sure, this is easier said than done, but it is truth and it has helped change our perspective at LEAST 5 times in our marriage;)

I've realized that this mentality can also be true in some other areas in life.

What if we waited until our marriage was perfect to help someone else save theirs.

What if we waited until our temper-tantrum prone toddler changed his heart to encourage an exhausted mom in the throws of toddler-hood.

What if we waited until our home was all fixed up and decorated just the way we wanted it, to implement the open-door policy you've always wanted to have (allowing other young couples, families, singles or homeless in those doors).

What if you waited until your anxiety tendencies disappeared to help someone else navigate through the onset of the anxiety tides coming in.

The things in your life that are difficult to get through can either make you crumble in defeat or make your God-fearing and God-trusting muscles grow.  And as you grow your muscles why don't you help someone else grow theirs.

We are not meant to do these muscle classes alone.

Don't wait until you can "afford" to be a light, a help, a servant, or a listening ear, because let's face it, that day may never come!

Think of someone God has placed in your life to help encourage and walk this journey WITH them.

<SIDE NOTE~Don't try to "fix" the situation and for the LOVE, please don't be a know-it-all either!  A listener can be more help than a doer in so many situations.>

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Protective Shield Engaged ~ Worship Wars

No matter how many times I request to be placed backstage or behind a curtain, our Worship Pastor will NOT oblige (ahem...).  Maybe his reasoning is that the phantom violin sounds being played would be a distraction and hindrance for the congregation goers frantically looking for the source of the mystery sounds...

So I've had to get creative.

It's not that I'm nervous about being on stage, but if you know me at all I do NOT like to be the center of attention.  I don't like people being able to pick me out in a crowd.  I don't like being noticed.

It makes me self-conscious and makes the profuse sweating begin.

And when these things begin to happen I make stupid mistakes, like tripping over my own two feet or having my fingers get tangled up on the E string.

And THAT is my worst fear.  Not because I'd look like a fool (well, maybe the ego is affected a little bit;) but because I would then be causing a HUGE distraction.

All I want to do is complement the other musicians and help lead others into the presence of God.

It is NOT a show.
It is NOT a performance.

These are just a few of the things that go on mentally as we prepare to go on stage and worship.

So I have mentally created what I call a "protective shield", which I am positive was a result of having three super hero loving boys in my house.

When I walk out and get in position I put on my suit and armor (violin and in-ears), close my eyes to find my focus (Christ and the words we are singing to Him), and then the shield rises up around me.  I picture a cylinder that closes me in except for an open ceiling.  Nobody can see me but God.  I can worship freely.

Some days I have to work harder than others to keep the shield in tact from the enemies blows (being concerned about who is in the crowd or not, what I look like, or impressing someone...things like that) in order to make little of me and much of God.  I mentally have to move myself out of the way to allow God to have center stage.

I'm thinking that I should bring my shield out more often than on Sunday mornings now.

What kind of tactics do you use in order to keep your focus (and enable the drawing urge to be that superhero you've always wanted to be)?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Not Me Monday

Wouldn't that be somethin' if I went to the bathtub to run some warm water for the nightly give-Jude-a-bath-instead-of-attempting-to-wipe-or-hose-him-down-after-dinner ritual, only to find yellow puddles in the bathtub?

That would be somethin'.

And after further "investigation" find out that those yellow puddles were, in fact, pee.

That would be somethin'.

And then walk over to the dinner table and politely ask who in the WORLD peed in the bathtub...instead of the TOILET that is located right next to the bathtub?

That would be somethin'.

And then were sweetly informed by the pee-er that the pee incident was out of dire necessity to keep a hiding spot secure during a very intense game of hide-and-seek.

That would be somethin'.

#JoysOfBoys    #ZekeLogic    #ColonyLife

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Free-For-All

Josh and I have been sitting on our front porch, sipping coffee for well over an hour.
The girls have pulled up chairs beside us to read.
The boys are creating comic books with stickers and markers in the living room.
Jude is sleeping quietly in the back room.

Today has been such a much-needed family day.

Our hearts and bodies are recharging from a whirlwind of a month.
We are finally able to process everything with words and comfortable silence.

Even though Rainy and Zeke are still tracked out we finally have a semblance of normalcy and routine.

So today there is...
no plan
no agenda
just being together as a family.

Today I am thankful for so very much!

Happy Friday ya'll!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Is It Nap Time Yet?

Sometimes there are days when I am literally counting down the hours until bed time.

I just need a second to catch my breathe.  I need a restart.

Those days just happen.
That's just part of being a mom.

But sometimes there are other days when I am so self-absorbed that I want nap time or bed time to be here already so I can do my own thing.  (Why is it that my kids seem so easy to love while they are asleep;). I'm tired of sharing myself. My body. My words. EVERY OUNCE OF MY BEING.  I want to be in my own little world with no distractions.

I'm tired and I want ME time, darn it!

These are the days where motherhood has become a chore.
These are the days where I've lost sight of the importance of my full-time job.
These are the days when I think that I DESERVE my own space.

I don't want to just "get through" my day waiting for the next nap time or bed time so I can have "me" time.  I don't want to waste the precious days I have with the kids I have been entrusted to guide through life.

I've found that if I try to embrace the times that they are awake, instead of resentfully biding my time until the next sleep, I gain back my perspective and am able to actually ENJOY that time with them.

Today I am choosing to embrace my life as mom.
These days WILL NOT last forever!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Because I'm Still Gathering My Thoughts

We returned from vacation late Sunday afternoon.

We have completely unpacked, but I am having a hard time getting my mind and body back into reality again.

So, because I haven't blogged in a record number of days and because I did take at least a couple of's a sneak peak of the happenings of our week or wonderfull(ness)...

Friday, September 6, 2013

You Know It's Time For Track Out When... can't bring yourself to get out of your cozy quiet time chair to get the kids out of bed think it's acceptable to write the teacher a note stating that homework didn't get done, but not to worry, "we'll work on it this weekend". stand in the kitchen staring at the empty lunch boxes and realize your time is better spent scrounging under the couch cushions and inside the guinea pig feeding fund to gather lunch money zone out when the incoming paper bomb of parent release forms is exploding all around no longer enforce the rule that the children have to wear different outfits during the week (at least we know Zeke changes his undies every day!)

...just hearing the word "vacation" sends you into a fog-like dream with ocean waves crashing on the shore in the distance

We only have one more school day until we track out and head to vacation.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons

I've sat down to write a post several times, and then life interrupts.

No motivation.

No inspiration.


But this afternoon, oh this afternoon, all three littles decided that a nap was a good idea, and I got some much-needed alone time.

So I crawled into my cozy little yellow chair in my bedroom, opened a bottle of... (haha, just kidding ya'll!) window, turned on some relaxing music and just sat.

To tell you that the past two weeks of my life have been a blur of raw emotion and energy would be an understatement.

But today has actually felt somewhat normal"ish".  I have managed to bring order to my entire house, clean laundry is piled high in a heap on my bedroom floor (just as it should be...right?!), and school was completed by the littles.

By the time I got to actually sit in silence that is all I could do...sit in silence.

I sat and thought about all those lemons.

Those sour lemons that add flavor to life.

When life gives you lemons sometimes you just need to see those lemons for what they really are, a little flavor to make life a little better:-)

Embrace the lemons God has given you today, for tomorrow wouldn't be what it needs to be without them.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

From The Safety Of My Back Porch

Josh and I spend a lot of time on our back porch.

We love the fresh air.
The sounds.
The solitude.

It's one of our favorite places to go.

We'll spend evenings talking through life.
We'll spend mornings sipping coffee and spending time with the God who created it all.

But the view from our back porch tells a story.
Our home holds safety.
Our home holds life.
But as soon as we walk out those doors we enter into the world God has placed us in.

From the safety of our back porch we have seen and heard the cries of the lost that are all around us.

Just this morning we saw two cars pull off the road behind our house.
The guy got out of his truck.
Stomping up to the car in front of him.
Wait, that is a woman in that other car!
Josh jumped up and started making his way toward them.
She starts honking the car horn while he beats on her.
More yelling.
More hitting.
Then she got away.
He drove off the other way in rage.

We've heard domestic disputes.
We've heard gun shots.
We've seen the hurt.

We have no doubt in our minds that we are exactly where God wants us to be.

In fact, Josh has been referred to as "the Pastor of Rolesville" more than once.  A title I am so proud of him for bearing.  We've had people come to us needing a ride, or help getting their car out of ditches in the middle of the night, or even shelter with nowhere else to go.

We can take these things as interruptions and inconveniences OR we can embrace where God has planted us and give the love of Christ to the hurting world that literally comes knocking on our door.

You don't have to sell all you have and move across the globe to be missionaries to the lost (unless you are called to do so, of course), but you do have to be willing to hold loosely what you have been given in order to put yourself out there.  The lost are right here in our backyard.