Monday, June 30, 2014

A Miraculous Healing

I'm in the middle of another great book.
(I just can't help myself, ha!)

One of the sections is about a young man named Jordan, who moved in with another family for health reasons.  This particular family truly believed that a positive, biblical attitude could do wonders for the soul, and overall health of an individual, so when Jordan would walk around with a frown or self-pitty because of his declining health he was asked to leave the room, because the father of the household didn't want this negativity to effect his own children.

Jordan slowly began training himself to look at everything as a blessing and thanking God for even the little progresses in his health.

When he moved in with this family he was literally on the doorstep of death, so when he would have relief from his symptoms for even one hour he began thanking God for his healing.  He gradually began to realize that healing doesn't have to always mean a 100% recovery.  For him it was a minute-by-minute thing, and he was going to thank God for even than 1 hour of physical healing, knowing that the symptoms and pain would most likely be coming back, but knowing that his Creator had a plan and He had granted him that even one hour of relief.

This past weekend has been wonderful.
My anxiety has been near non-existent.
It has been the best feeling in the world.
Not that the kids didn't argue over Legos or squirt each other in the face with water guns or grumble about what was for, that would mean I was dreaming;)

No, this was different.
A stressor was JUST a stressor, not something that raised my heart rate and blowup.
Laughing was abundant.
The little things were JUST little things, that were kept in perspective.

I remember thinking to myself, "This must be what it's like not to have anxiety!  I wish I could be like this EVERY day".

In turn, Zeke was having an exceptionally good Sunday afternoon.  He was compliant to correction, obeying with a happy heart, being patient, helping his siblings...and I can't even count the number of times he told me he loved me last night:)

While we were getting ready for bed he stopped and looked up at me and said, "I wonder why I feel so happy today?  I feel so happy and have a lot of energy! I wish I could be like this EVERY day!"

Out of the mouth of babes, I tell ya.  That is my sentiment exactly.

And then all of a sudden I remembered this part of the book that reminded me that Zeke and I had, most definitely been healed from our anxiety.

Maybe not forever, but for yesterday, and for me the following two days before.

I turned to Zeke and said, "Zeke, I don't know what has given you such a happy heart today, I hope it stays around for along time, but right now, God is allowing you to have this great day, and so we need to thank him for taking all those other feelings away.  Even if they come back tomorrow, TODAY he has taken them away."

A few minutes later I saw him praying in his room, literally thanking his Creator for his healing.

I may be ridden with anxiety tomorrow, or even this afternoon for that matter, but today, RIGHT NOW, I am healed, and for that I am thankful!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

No More To-Do Lists

I love lists.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

I LOVE lists.

I mean, LOVE them, LOVE them.

Marking a colorfully coordinated wavy line through a completed task on a cute magnetic pad of paper is one of the most rewarding things to me.

But even before the satisfaction of marking off a done, to-do, I would go as far as to say that I actually enjoy MAKING lists.

The feeling of control.
The feeling of organization.
The feeling of having a plan.
The reassurance of having everything written down, when in case my brain gives way again.

But recently I have decided that I am no longer going to make to-do lists.


I know, I know, you are thinking that there may be something wrong with me, and there may be, but I was realizing that my to-do lists were beginning to dictate my attitude and outlook of the entire day.

Because if it was written down it HAD to get done.
(can I get an amen?!)
No matter what the cost.
No matter what the attitude
or spirit-led "interruption" that I would miss out on
or how unrealistic the long list might be
or how much I would need to ignore my kids or rush them around, nagging them to hurry up...
(because nothing brings me closer to losing my salvation than slow children when I am on a mission)

I have a habit (a good one, I might add) of making my to-do list for the day first thing in the morning.
Before I sit down to have my time with the Lord I sit down with my journal and jot down the things that need to get done.
It is a way to mentally empty out my day onto paper before giving my day to the Lord.
It helps to get all those distractions out so I can meditate and focus on the One I am being quiet with.

I felt like this helped me give those to-do's up to God, but internally I was still holding on to my to-do's and asking God to partake in MY idea of how my day should go.

One morning, though, I was making my list and unintentionally replaced my typical "Today's to-do list:" with "Today I would like to do:"

That's when I realized that I had finally figured out how in the world to give my to-do's up to God.

I had an idea of the things that I felt were priorities for my day, but by changing the header on my to-do to "I'd LIKE to" I was in essence giving up that list to the conductor of my life to orchestrate the notes in my day that add to the symphony of my life.

It's been amazing how freeing this has made my entire day feel, no longer being a slave to the things I need to get done.

I am more motivated to get something checked off when I can, but less stressed out if it just doesn't happen that day.
I am more prone to stop what I'm doing to play a few rounds of hide-and-seek with the Colony or see an interruption for what it really is.
I work more efficiently when I am able to indulge in a task.
I've even read the entire Hunger Games series, because I have more margin in my days.

Now, just because you relinquish your to-do list to God doesn't mean every day is going to go smoothly and you'll never feel rushed or anxious because something needs to get done, that's just unrealistic, but it does help prioritize and bring fresh perspective every morning...and maybe it'll also help you realize that you can go another day without reorganizing the toys into their appropriate bins or color-coding the pantry (not that those things have EVER taken precedence for me;).

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I'll Tell You What I WON'T Be Doing!

When people realize that I am soon to have 4 out of 5 Colony kids in school by mid-July the first question that always comes to mind is...

"What are you going to do with yourself?!"

My initial thoughts always pull me into this hazy, dream-like world of adult book reading with NO pictures of baby animals and bright primary colors, bon-bon eating, monthly meal planning, keeping house and the such.

But then, out of nowhere, I hear something: little feet running away, followed by 4 other little voices yelling for me NOT to enter the kitchen...not yet, anyway! (my older kids know what I can and cannot handle at the moment)

I'm quickly pulled back into real life.

This life where I am the mama to the most destructive 2-year-old on the face of the planet!

I mean just today (and it's only 12:30pm, mind you) we have cleaned up spilled glitter off the dining room floor (he scaled the homeschool corner cabinet and somehow pulled it off the TOP shelf near the ceiling), a bottle of spilled pink fingernail polish (from who knows where, because the girls have very specific rules on that kind of stuff, for this exact reason), spilled coffee (he doesn't care WHAT I'm drinking when he comes in for a tackle), leftover mouthfuls of food (why won't he just finish chewing and swallowing that last bite?!), a pink Jude (from the fingernail polish remnants), orange highlighter (those highlighters. He has a highlighter radar!), Rainy's slippers which he trampled through the mud, a raided ColonyShop of little clips and gems (the ColonyShop creators were NOT pleased!), and I still smell the orange essential oil that he emptied all over his bedroom from 2 days ago as he smeared himself in shampoo...

We have all of our lower cabinets childproofed with locks (including the pantry now, thank you Josh!) with those annoying plastic contraptions on doorknobs in order to keep curious little paws out, but Jude is a pretty persistent kid and if he sees something he wants, by golly, he'll find a way to get it, even if we are all in the same room.  He's like a little Houdini!

I swear the good Lord is stretching me in every which way and I promise I'm learning to have more grace and compassion toward "these" kinds of children and their exhausted families:)

So, to answer your question, I probably won't be doing any more exciting things than I am now, with 4 of my 5 littles in school, but at least I will be able to clean up Jude's mayhem at a quicker pace with only him to keep up with.

Oh Jude...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Love Is An Open Door

This time last year we were unknowingly preparing ourselves to open our home to a homeless mom and daughter to live with us for an indefinite amount of time while we helped them get back on their feet.

We weren't necessarily looking for it.
We weren't even financially preparing for it.

But over the course of our 12 year marriage the Lord has clearly given Josh and I direction to make our home a refuge.

Whether that comes in the form of a safe place for our kids to come home to, or a fun place to invite their friends to come and play, or for family visits, or helping other people with their kids or small group gatherings and families over for dinner.  It doesn't matter, we want to open our door to whoever the Lord leads to our front doorstep.

Now we know safety is an issue, so we aren't just going to open our door to any stranger on the street for them to come and live with us, so our open door policy might simply mean giving a ride to a person in need, a sandwich to a hungry mom, or allowing our neighbors to know that we are always here to help, even in the middle of the night to get their car out of a ditch:)

Our house isn't always in mint condition, but that hasn't stopped us from allowing people into our lives.

I want Josh to feel comfortable calling me at the last minute to have someone over for dinner if he feels the Lord's leading and not make him feel as though it's going to send me over the edge.

I LOVE having this policy, and I love that the Lord tends to speak so clearly to both of us in this area so that we are always on the same page (because we all know that sometimes it just NEEDS to be OUR family!).  We want our children to know that they are priority and are certainly aware of the balance that needs to be present too.

I want whoever walks into our door to feel the Love of Christ in an undeniable way and to see a family who knows the hurt outside of our safe walls.  I want people to always feel free to ask for help, unafraid that they are going to disturb us, knowing that we are confident enough to truthfully tell them if we can help them at that time or not. I want our kids to experience real life and know that we can find ways to help others, even if our resources are few.

We have NO IDEA what this looks like long-term.  It's not like we have a 5-year-goal to reach, but this is a lifestyle we have chosen to adapt for our family.

Over the past 3 weeks we have had a 13-year-old with us.  She is the sweetest, most helpful little 13-year-old I've ever met.  She is ALWAYS willing to help.  She never complains when I ask her to do something.  She's the older sister Alethia and Rainy have always wanted, ha!  I feel as though she is just one of the Colony.  The rest of the kids adore her, even when SHE is the one reprimanding their poor behavior;)  She changes dirty diapers, plays with the kids so I can get a meal on the table, cuddling with Jude and she LOVES hide-and-seek, which we play on a daily basis now.

I know our lives will never be the same after having her around.

The larger our family became the quicker I realized that my children are my mission field, and what better way to share God's love than through opening our doors and lives up to others.

Don't let your minimal salary, messy house, sleeping capacity or anything else stand in the way of sharing life with someone else.  If you wait until you are capable of this kind of lifestyle it will never happen...God is the one who makes it happen, in His own way.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Story In Pictures ~ Rain Jumping

A summertime rain requires

a snowsuit
and winter coat
(with mandatory hood covering, of course)

an entire Colony to make it all worth while

the oldest sibling to make the youngest sibling not so leery of the rainfall

and the involuntary jumping that follows
as you hoist yourself up on the trampoline and lose yourself in the in the summertime rainfall

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's All About The Presentation

One of the battles I choose not to fight is the food battle.

I don't sit at the table and make my kids force every bite down from their plates.  I know some parents who do and that's fine, but that is just not one mountain I'm willing to die on.

('cause ain't nobody got time for that!)

But I have a little trick.
In order to keep my kids eating healthy I have to limit the purchase of all the other things that I don't necessarily want them to consume.

I mean, if it's not around, then there can't be a battle about it, right?

So I offer a variety of healthy options at each meal that I think gives them plenty to choose from to fill up their bellies (for at LEAST 20 minutes or so;).  We've got the PBJ, cheese sticks, yogurt, granola, fruits and veggies galor, pretzels, nuts, dried fruits...things like that, all with complimentary dips and sauces.

But even then I'll notice that the carrot sticks or sliced cucumbers are the last to leave the plates sometimes, and often with a quick reminder to eat those before putting their plates in the sinks.

This Colony, though, is ALWAYS asking for food.
It NEVER ends!

So I started placing this pretty brown bowl (made by my Aunt JoAnn, which I LOVE, BTW!) on the counter and filling it with things that I didn't mind them munching on throughout the day.  I'll place a cluster of grapes, or a handful of almonds, carrots or peppers.  Often times the things that I know won't last much longer than 24 more hours in the frig, and surprisingly the bowl is empty by dinner time every evening.

The same carrots I meticulously sliced and placed next to the mound of humus for lunch, that sat until the gentle reminder, are placed in that bowl and consumed within a few hours.


The slices of red pepper that are about to go bad...GONE.

The grapes...completely disappear.

So maybe, instead of battling out the wills, dress it up a little and leave it on the table to munch on throughout the day.

If they are hungry enough they will eat it.

It gives them a feeling of control, which eliminates that need to argue about the food, all while getting some major nutrients they need.

It's a WIN for everyone!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Not Me Monday ~ On Friday (I Am IN The Hunger Games)

I did NOT just read an entire book in one week.

Nope, not me.

But if I were to actually read an entire book in one week it would most definitely be a be-a-better-mommy book, or be-a-better-wife book, or be-a-better-me book, or at least a be-a-better-Christian book...

NEVER a science fiction book that doesn't do a thing for my character, much less add to my continuing desire to find more hours in my day

because if I did read a book like (the first book in The Hunger Games series) that I may get so engulfed in the plot and with the characters that I literally cannot get through my days without thinking about it.

I would probably fall asleep thinking about a strategy for being found under the covers

or when a bug bites me outside I would compare it to the tracker jacker bites described within those pages

or if I watch a movie of a man drinking from a pond I would mentally go through the water purification steps

and most definitely compare any Colony ailments to the ones from my competitors in the games.

and ain't nobody got time for that!


but if that were to be the case you might as well go ahead and get out that second one and knock that book out too!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Kids Already Know I'm Not The Perfect Mom

Oh yes, I am a mom.

A mom to five littles, mind you.

I'm no expert, but I do have 9 years experience.

But I never allow myself to get too cocky.

Because just as soon as I figure out what works with one, another comes along and ruins the whole darn system;)

And you don't even have to be a mama to multiples to know this strategy.  I think kids have a radar for that kind of thing.  They know that moment you have found "that thing" that will demand encourage obedience, and then switch it all up on you!

And every so often this mama has been known to blow up lose her temper a bit.

But I remind my kids of this one fact very often:

"I am your mom, and I have been a mom for a long time,
but I have never been a mom to _________________________."

I fill in the blank with the exact situation they are going through.

For example, when Areyna likes to test the dry erase markers on the carpet (yes my 9-year-old!) and cut swatches of fabric out of curtains because they would make good clothes for her Barbies I say...

"I am your mom, and I have been a mom for a long time,
but I have never been a mom to a 9-year-old little girl, the OLDEST of my children, 
who continuously finds destructive creative ways to play, 
leaving a trail of disaster behind her."


"I am your mom, and I have been a mom for a long time,
but I have never been a mom to a little boy who only limits himself to the off-limit stuff."


"I am your mom, and I have been a mom for a long time,
but I have never been a mom to a boy who insists on wearing 
long sleeps and long pants in 90 degree weather."

I mean really, the scenarios range from the kids struggling with lying and stealing to the kids refusing to take showers after gymnastics practice.

But I never stop there.  I don't pass the blame to them...ok, maybe for a split second I let them sit in it, but then I quickly own up to my part.  I remind them that mama is just as sinful as they are and needs just as much grace from them as they do from me.  I apologize for my outburst unkind words and tendency to try to rationally argue with a 5-year-old whatever else may have happened in the heat of the moment, and ask for their forgiveness and grace.

My kids certainly know their mom isn't perfect, but we are working on this grace thing, one day at a time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

That Moment When...

you realize your company is about to be here and you haven't even checked on the state of the guest bathroom, that doubles as the kids bathroom, which inevitably has been the brunt of poor aiming practices for a very long time without any supervision...

you stand in the kitchen and sigh because dinner actually came together right on time, without burning something, or forgetting that meat was browning on the stove (which I ALWAYS tend to do), only to turn around to the disaster right behind me called the living room...

the friends are to arrive at any moment and you still have laundry piled up on the chair in the living room, pinned on the line outside and almost reaching the ceiling from the pile on your bed in the back room...

your friends arrive and walk in the front door, careful not to step on any of the toys strewn all over the entry way...

you realize that, upon their arrival, you still have neighborhood kids jumping on the trampoline outside and a half-dozen more kids squealing happily as they chase each other around in superhero costumes and high heals...

the kids start melting down over silly little things because they are so tired from the day's summer activities...

you realize the friends could care less about the state of the house...and you don't give it a second thought anymore...

you realize that you wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world or change anything about this chaotic, messy, unorganized life I now live in...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Words Worth Remembering

Cai:"It's good I didn't say any bad words today. I did say poopie-face once though."


Cai:"Tacos are my LIFE, mom!"


Zeke:"I was actually looking forward to my baseball game today.  It's a GREAT day for a baseball game."

Cai:"Are you excited about your snack too?"

Zeke:"I know, I wonder what it's gonna be tonight after the game."

Cai:"Zeke, it's not all about the snack you know."


A friend talking to Zeke in the duggout:"I was catcher once.  It was frea-key! I peed in my pants a little bit."


Cai:"Mom, can you write the things that are supposed to be right?"
(translation: mom, can you tell me what color each of the numbers are on this color-by-number page?"


Cai:"I'm so starving for water."


Cai:"I don't like that blue kind of soap, because of the sprinkly things in it. Even I don't like the smell."


Cai:"How is everything gonna poof out when we die?  Like it's all gonna go away?"


Josh:"So what were your top 3 things from being at the Honeycutt's?"
Cai:"coloring, eating ice cream and when I widing the bawrf GOLF cart"


Cai:"I can't wait 'til it's summertime so we can go to the beach.  Is it summer yet?"
Cai:"Can we o to the beach today?!"


Zeke:"What's for dinner mom?
Me: "Baked chicken, mashed potatoes and zucchini chips."
***not 2 minutes later***
Alethia:"What's for dinner?"
Me:"Why don't you go ask Zeke and see if he can remember."
Cai:"Why don't you remember? Then why are you making it right now?  You don't remembered for you to remember?"

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Domestic Diva Strikes Again ~ how NOT to make your own yogurt

Another domestic whim came over me yesterday
(and we ALL know that a phrase like that can be a very dangerous one)

I have been racking my brain trying to figure out ways to cut our ever growing grocery budget
(one of these days I won't have a near heart attack at the check-out counter)
when I realized that a major monthly expense for us is yogurt.

I use yogurt every morning in my smoothie
I make our ranch with yogurt
Mixed with granola it is a great healthy snack
The kids love it with ANY meal
I cook with it

We easily spend $100/month in yogurt alone.

So being the money conscious guru that I am
I decided to take this into my own hands

Any clearheaded woman would simply say, let's cut down on the yogurt consumption.
(except for all the healthy gut benefits and scrumptuousness of it, and then there is the fact that it will most definitely need to be replaced by something else (the Colony has to eat SOMEthing!), and that something else is most likely more expensive and less health-friendly that yogurt...see what I have to work with people?!)

But oh no, not me.
I had to get all domestic up in here.

I did my research
(thank you google, Pinterest and Facebook)
and found a recipe that looked user friendly.

The process looked easy enough.

I had everything on hand
(if by everything you mean the wrong kind of mixing bowl, the wrong kind of towel thing and several different kinds of milk)

Step 1: heat milk in pyrex bowl
Well, I had 2 almost empty milk cartons and 1 new one. Company does that to you.  And my hatred for stuff made me NEED to consolidate. So I just finished off the 2% and then the 1% before adding the whole milk that the recipe asked for.  I also didn't have the right bowl, so I used a Tupperwear container and would transfer to an oven friendly dish later.

Step 2: let the milk cool
this step came to an end without a hitch because I actually had a food thermometer

step 3: whisk in the live cultures from yogurt
I do know how to whisk things so that helped

step 4: after preheating the over to 350 I'm supposed to cover the dish, and set it in the over for 1 minute before turning it off and letting it sit in there for LOTS of hours.
Which is fine, if you can find a bowl that can fit in the oven.  I, of course, could not, so I found a pyrex baking dish and laid a dishcloth over it, which immediately began to sag into my soon-to-be yogurt.  I told myself that it wasn't a big deal, shut the door to the oven and went about my day.

After small group last night I came home, so excited to bask in the domestic glory of homemade yogurt, at just a fraction of the cost.

Instead I opened my oven door to one of the biggest messes to date.

The kitchen towel had just spent the past 10 hours soaking up that milk concoction and drizzling it ALL.OVER.THE.OVEN.

Oh, and did I mention that I have NEVER cleaned my oven.
Nope, never.
I never really minded the smell of leftover sweet potatoes heated up from making Cai and Jude's baby food from over the years and all the other "stuff" in there.  It was clean on the outside, and it didn't mess up the essential oils being diffused throughout the house, so I was good in that department...

until now.

That smell.
That mess.

I froze.

And then I spotted it.

This oven had a button that said "CLEAN" on it.
It was a self cleaning oven.
I had a self cleaning oven!
(this could quite possibly be as dangerous as the living room slide, ie-ironing board, I pulled out a few weeks ago for the first time in a L-O-N-G time)

I did another quick little search to make sure I wouldn't burn down the house since I was tired from all my domesticating and I was going to bed.

I went in, hit the magic button and went to go brush my teeth.

It didn't take long for the oven to start doing it's thing...
if by "thing" you mean releasing these horrible (toxic I'm sure, because EVERYTHING is toxic that isn't "natural" and this certainly was NOT "natural") into the kitchen, which quickly began bleeding into the living room and continuing on into every crevice of the house!
I felt like I was in LOST, running from the smoke monster.

Ya'll it was HORRIBLE.

We opened up every window and door in the house while we finished gagging our way through our oral hygiene routine and getting ready for bed.

the doors we closed but the windows stayed open and the oil diffusers stayed on throughout the night.
(unfortunately I couldn't find my "screwed-up-the-yogurt-and-then-tried-to-clean-it-up-which-resulted-in-green-fumes-throughout-the-house" blend)

I had nightmarish flashbacks from the pumpkin seed incident in college all night long.

I would love to tell you that it's better this morning, but unfortunately it's not.

So please give Josh a little grace if you smell see him this morning in the office, and by all means, come on over for some yogurt and granola later (I'll give you the real stuff, I promise).  I can't promise that you will leave without second-hand smoke inhalation, but at least we'll have a good laugh together.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Art Gallery

Areyna - "Alphabet Soup" - Spring 2014

Areyna - Spring 2014

Cai - Spring 2014

Cai - Spring 2014

Cai - Batman and Robin spring 2014
Jude - water color - Spring 2014

Zeke's Award Winning "Cherry Blossom" - Spring 2014

Zeke - Spring 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014



This is a Colony favorite!

There are a lot of positives about this meal.
You can make it with whatever you have on hand.
It can be made gluten free and/or dairy free if you want.

This particular night we used spanish rice but you could use any kind of rice 
or Quinoa or whatever you have on hand
but it is totally optional as well.

You can make your own corn chips or use store bought.
These are homemade chips made with corn tortillas, salt and pepper.

This is what the final product looks like
This dish is great for using up all the leftovers in the house so feel free to scrounge the frig and pantry to add your own favorites.

Ingredients We Frequently Use:
Chicken (separated into pieces)
Black olives
Black Beans
Ranch dip made with a dry ranch packet and plain greek yogurt

***pretty much whatever you want to add***

Spray the bottom of your pan
layer with chips
add mixture
Heat the oven to 350 and bake for 30 minutes.