Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Objectively Speaking

I am the first to admit that I'm an emotional thinker.

I can't help it.
It's the way I was made.
But even so, that doesn't mean that it's the RIGHT way to be.  I mean come on, just because I am MADE a certain way doesn't mean it's ok to embrace it, it just means I have to depend on the Lord even more in this area, to help me do it the right way.

But let's say I've been hurt by someone, or worse, you have hurt my family member(s) or a friend.  I'm just not going to like you very much.

At least that's my immediate response.
My default.

But the older and wiser I get, the more I am realizing the NEED to think objectively.

I can't just be mad at someone because of something I've heard that they've done.
I can't get frustrated because of a choice someone has made that is different than the choice I would have made.
I can't just believe something someone says without reading between the lines, praying about it, and then making my own decision and needed response.

In fact, I might be sitting in my self-inflicted so-mad-I-feel-like-my-insides-are-on-fire mental state for several hours before I ever realize that I need to check my attitude AND my thought patterns.

I have a handfull of people in my life that automatically pop in my head that are great objective thinkers.

Here is what I see:
they don't rush to conclusions
they don't jump on the trending bandwagon immediately
they don't just take someone else's word for something

they let the situation/act settle instead of fester

They can back away from the situation, no matter how personal it is, in order to get a proper assessment.
They can see through a bad choice and remember the life-long character behind the one acting inappropriately.  They can see between the lines of action to the root of the problem.

I am done basing my thinking on my inner hurts and feelings.
I want to strive to think objectively.

Because thinking objectively is the only way of loosening the grip of bitterness and revenge, and praying for the "enemy" who is doing the hurting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Take Five

Band: Praise Baby
Song Title: one of the millions that we have

Timer set for 5 minutes...


Jude asks for "babababa" all the time.  That would be Praise Baby.  And Praise Baby has literally saved my life.  Rainy and Zeke grew up with Praise Baby, Album Leaf and Sigur Ros on the same playlist.  We must have gotten a little tired of it by the time Cai came along and so the only time it played was to help the littles fall asleep.

But now, we have reopened the world of the Praise Baby videos and Jude is a HUGE fan.

I had forgotten how magical it is in calming and settling the most "energetic" of kids.

So, now that I have about 30 consecutive minutes to accomplish things again I naturally thought blogging would be the best to start my day:)

All the kids have finally settled into the normal school routine.  Just in time to track out next week, ha!
But that's ok, because we have the Via Family Vacation to attend and then it can officially become FALL!

When I was at the beach last weekend we walked into a Bath and Body Works.  They had FALL candles ya'll!  I opened one, breathed it deep and literally got chills as my body jolted forward a month into the crisp fall morning air, walks in the fall through the crunchy orange leaves and cold nights cuddled up by the firepit with tea or wassail.  I.CANNOT.WAIT.

BUT, we aren't there yet and that's ok.

I have been shocked by the goings on in social media lately.  I feel like everyone, Christians included, are taking way too much joy in the fall of others and it honestly hurts my heart.  It seems as though everyone just wants to have a fight to fight, and they will do it at the expense of others.

All my kids have had a shoe basket by the front door...except for Jude.  He had one pair of shoes so we just kept them in his diaper bag for easy access.  But a couple of weeks ago when I was going through our clothes bins for some shoes that would fit Cai and Laithy I ran across Cai's old rain boots.  And wouldn't you know, they fit JUDE!  So of course I had to get a basket to put his shoes in, and for some reason he is my only child that actually puts his shoes AWAY when he gets home...if I can actually get them off of his feet:)



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Setting My Husband Up For Success ~ One Man Down

A few weeks ago you may remember that I flew up to the DC area to be with my siblings (and parents) for my brother and sister-in-law to celebrate the soon-to-be arrival of their first baby (OMG I CANNOT WAIT TO MEAT HER!!!!).  I had a BLAST!  I'm pretty sure the only time I haven't traveled with any of my own family to see my extended family was for my grandpa and Nana's funerals, and I had at least one child with me on both of those trips.  So this was a big trip for me.
Me, my brother Andrew, and my gorgeous sister Deedee

My mom, Dana (my sis-in-law with the cutest baby bump), myself and my sister
I flew by myself.
I didn't have to answer a million questions about the airplane.
My snacks were not shared.
I traveled with ONE carry-on bag (no sippy cups, diaper bags, games or violin)

Oh the freedom...

In fact, when Josh asked me which airline I was flying into I couldn't even remember, and the shrug of the shoulders answer to who was picking me up didn't phase ME in the least.  Josh, on the other hand, was getting a little bit squirmy as to the lack of details I had available for him (from the girl who typically gives WAY TOO MUCH detail).

But before I left I had a lot of preparing to do.

And packing myself and mentally checking out were the last on the list.

Josh was beginning his first week intensive for school and had a TON of work to get done so I had to make plans for each of the littles.  Lucky for us, we have very sweet, generous friends who took in each of our kids and it all worked out great.

It isn't that I didn't think Josh could handle it, but I wanted the weekend to be a success...for EVERYone.  We are a team and when a team member leaves it can get a bit tricky.

Now this weekend, I am about to embark on yet another first for me.

I am heading to the beach tonight, for a girls getaway with my triad quad squad.  With 22 kids between the six of us moms we are well overdue for a getaway together.  We have been spread out around the world over the past year and a half so we are so excited to spend a couple uninterrupted days together.

(I know, it's hard not to be jealous...sorry, not sorry;)

But again, prior to this wonderful weekend away I have had some planning to do.
I am leaving Josh with our 5 littles plus 1 cousin.  That's 6 kids 9 and under.
I am completely confident in him as a dad, uncle and "entertainer" (I'll never know how he can be so productive with kids climbing all over him and NEVER losing his cool!), but I also know that weekends are not his "off" days (you totally understand if you are on staff at a church).  He already has a lot on his plate mentally to be able to do his job on Sunday mornings so I did as much as I could to help him out before I left.

Besides, Josh and I work as a team, ESPECIALLY on the weekends.  I don't want him walking around as if he is a man down, as he gets 6 kids out the door at 6am on Sunday morning!  I want to set him up to successfully get to church, with ALL the kids (and their shoes), with something to eat, without having to think too much about it so he can concentrate at the things he normally has to do himself.

For starters, I made sure he had food.
(there's nothing like the mom leaving the roost with nothing in the cabinets to eat)

I wrote out everything I could think of that would help get the kids out for school on Friday morning.

I listed everything that goes in the diaper bag for Jude and packed the Sunday breakfast bag before leaving.

All these things he could have done on his own, but I'm pretty sure it is going to make his life much easier this weekend if he knows what to expect, and I can still kind do my job while not really being physically around.

Yes, I'm checking out this weekend (glory!), but I am still thinking about my family and want them to have a GREAT time (Plus, I want my hubby to allow me to get away again from time to time without thinking the world may end, ha!)

It's not about me being an awesome wife (Lord knows I'm not.  In fact, Josh is probably laughing at my endless lists.  Plus, I'm SURE I forgot SOMEthing!), and it's not about me being unable to let go (ok, maybe it's hard to let go).  It's about me setting Josh up to succeed.  My husband.  My soul mate.  My best friend.  I want to see him have a great weekend too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Hard Question About True Identity

On Thursday nights, before rehearsal, Josh always shares a little bit about what the Lord is teaching him.  I love hearing what he has to share EVERY week.  But one week, in particular, really hit home for me.

He said something along the lines of: If God were to take your gift or talent away, would you still be confident in who He is and who He has made you?  Don't let your gift or talent define who you are.

I always begin to think about things like this in a practical, personal way.

I am a violinist.  I LOVE playing music.  I love worshiping the Lord with my talent. I love mentally hiding away (even if I am in front of hundreds of people) and joining in with an orchestra, symphony or band to make beautiful music.  There is just something about it that is so fulfilling and energizing!

But what if I had an accident where I lost my hands, arms or something far worse, to where I could no longer use this gifting?  Would I ever have a chance of feeling complete again?  Am I banking on my God-given talents to give me fulfillment and purpose?  Am I relying on this gift to define my identity?

I also love working out.  I love the rush after a good sweat.  I love trying to keep my body healthy and fit.  I took pride in the fact that I was running up until the week Rainy was born and playing soccer until I found out I was pregnant with our first.  But for several years I physically could NOT run.  I couldn't get more than a half mile without excruciating pain.  It got so frustrating that I just quit trying to jog altogether.  I found other avenues of working out, but there's nothing like getting outside and just running off some steam.  I had to learn to find my identity in Christ, and not in the gift of jogging, or running, or playing sports, or having a super fit body.

Maybe you pride yourself in service.  You are always giving of your time, but what if your time was taken away?  What if you simply couldn't do everything you wanted to do, because NOBODY can do it all?  Would you be left feeling worthless or lacking sense of direction and fulfillment?

Or it could be in homeschooling your children.  What if one of your children needed more than you had to offer and you had to send them off to school (speaking from experience here;).

I'm anxious to see how I fair when my kids go off to college and I am an empty nester. 

Basically, if it was all stripped away what will I find my identity wrapped up in?

God has given us all gifts and talents.
We use what we have been given in obedience and most often it has a product of joy and fulfillment.

But don't let it indefinately define who you are.

We have to be able to use our gifts, yes, but we are to find our true identity in Christ alone, not in what He gives us in each particular season of our lives.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Art Gallery ~ Summer 2014

Areyna ~ "Sharkerfish"

Cai ~ "swait lines and googwy eyeth"

Zeke ~ created town
Areyna ~ Oasis

Areyna ~ Overlapping Hands


Alethia ~ Shape Town
Areyna ~ Initial Fish

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Fall's Resolutions

Being outside has one of the most calming effects on me.
I love the natural light, the fresh air, the sound of creation all around (as opposed to air conditioner fans and washing machines...which I am TOTALLY thankful for, BTW!).
I breathe it in deep and feel 100 pounds lighter.

This morning I am sitting outside, with a big mug of coffee, 1 little one scurrying up and down my lap, a teenager, who has allowed us into her life, and a crisp fall-like breeze blowing through the atmosphere.

I almost feel like this changing of season is like the New Year.
A fresh start comes with each fresh new season.

I am in a season of contentment.
I love it here.  

Not feeling like anything is pressing in around me.
Not running around from this thing to that.
Settling into a new routine with school underway.

Life is not perfect by any means, but I am happy with where I am.
Sometimes I have to work harder at being content than others but right now, I am here.

I was just sitting here making mental goals for myself for the rest of the year and realized it was like New Year's all over again.

I was reevaluating my life to see where I had come over the past few months and where I wanted to go.  And honestly I feel like I have done a fair job sticking to my year's mantra, "BE STILL".  I have tediously weeded out the unnecessary from my life to get back to the basics of my calling.  I'm still perfecting the art of saying "no" but am definitely getting better at it, and certainly reaping the benefits from it!  My life is simple and I want it to stay this way.  I NEED it to stay this way.  I want to intentionally leave myself with enough white space to be available.

I want to be available. Available to my kids, available to my husband, available to the people God has placed around me.

So just one thing will be added to my New Fall's Resolutions.  
How about you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's Not Necessarily Bad...But There Is Better

Our kitchen faucet had been getting progressively worse over the years.

To the point of endless squealing at toe curling high pitches while the water was running

The head was nearly too low to get to the running water as a result of banging and hitting through fits of rage  maneuvering the faucet to make the squealing stop.

And squirting water out of the unsealed crevices around the perimeter and random holes in the metal that continued to squirt out for at least 10 seconds AFTER the water had been turned off.

One day, my wonderful husband gifted me with a NEW faucet!
(this man of mine will have so many crowns in heaven if "blessing your wife" is a requirement)

It is beautiful!
Now people walk up to the faucet in their protective sideways stance and facial grimace, ready for the ear piercing fallout and unpredictable squirting water, only to quickly realize that our faucet actually works correctly, and almost laugh in their delight with us!

Not only does my faucet now embrace near stealth qualities, but it has a water sprayer attached...that actually works!

I have never lived in a home, my entire adult life, where the little sprayer thing actually worked.

I used to reach for it when I first began living outside of my parents home, only to push the button and have either a random drip here and there or a button that would get stuck in the ON position if ever it were to be pushed down, soaking everything in its vicinity.

So I quickly got used to not having one.

As funny as it is, one of the first things I would do in a new home before renting or purchasing, would be to go to the kitchen and test the sink sprayer.  Unfortunately the sink sprayer performance never seemed to make the priority cut in our decision making.  Along with the, we have GOT to have a bigger bathroom in our next home, by the apparent size our our current one:)

Anyway, back to my new faucet.

I was finding myself holding the dishrag under the faucet to fill it with water in order to wipe down the edges and nasties off the sides of the sink or scooping water up on those tall pans that tower out of the sink bed.  I did this for days before realizing that I actually had the ability to use the sprayer now.  I wasn't taking full advantage of this new gift I'd been given!

There was NOTHING wrong with the way I was washing my dishes and cleaning out my sink, but I had the means to do it better and easier.  I was given a faucet with a greater capacity of excellence than what I was using it for.

Gosh, I wonder how much capacity to love others, and to teach my children, and to use my gifts I'm not using because I'm so content to do things the way I did before I intimately asked the Lord to change my life.

I've accepted the gift.  Now it's my responsibility to use it to its full capacity!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sometimes The Best Option Is To Take The Options Away

Zeke, especially, is an electronics fiend.

If we aren't monitoring it, his world can easily revolve around when the next movie will be played or when he can turn the next gadget on.

But that's his thing.

It's not all bad.
In fact, his DS that he got for his birthday (we found a used one for $43!) is great incentive to get his homework done efficiently and with a happy heart.

But when the next movie or gaming period becomes all that he can think about, we have a problem.

We typically have a "no-electronics during the week" rule, unless he has done exceptionally well with homework and needs 20 minutes of down time (and he is allowed to play the Wii or his DS).  But during track out, and even on the weekends, he becomes obsessed with his devices.

But a few weeks ago, after being away at the beach for 2 days, and feeling the need to be "entertained" Zeke was obsessed with when he could watch a movie, or make a movie on the iPad, or play the Wii...and I couldn't take it anymore.

I made the executive decision that we were going to have a "no electronics weekend".  I completely took the option away telling him, "So don't EVEN ask again cuz it's not going to happen."

I know, I'm such a mean mom;)

We had to verbally take the option away to get his brain to register that electronics were no longer an option and that his brain needed to work on its own through creativity.  To go off on a limb and actually use that brilliant imagination that the Lord gave him.

We learned early on in our parenting that kids often need options to learn how to make their own choices and to give them a sense of confidence and control, but we are also learning when to take the options away.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Micaiah Joel ~ AKA Cai-bo

Contrary to popular belief, the Via Colony children are not perfect.
Shocker I know.
But there is one particular area which each one of our children continue to disobey in...

They keep having them!

Yup, every year they keep getting older.

Disobedient I tell ya!

So what's a mom to do?

Think back on the years gone by and the sweet memories I've had on this FIFTH BIRTHDAY for my sweet, little, can't-help-myself-from-nibbling-his-cheeks boy.

remembering what life was like when I only had 3 littles
and the third little slept through his siblings shenanigans

and that day when we were trying to get just ONE good family photo, ha!

and that time when Rainy dressed him up like a little girl

and the way he immediately fell in love with his new older sister!

and his weird little things he would insist on like,
bike helmet, water shoes and one knee pad

the tears
this poor sweet, sensitive boy

the time he and his cousin Karis got "mawied"

those ever so rare moments when Zeke and Cai actually play nicely together
without a playful wrestling match;)

and those times where I've captured some of our lazy days while he played by himself around the house

and those first undies
He INSISTED on Minnie mouse undies
and of course there were only girl ones
so how could I tell him no!

Dear Cai-bo,
How in the world are you five today?!  I thank God that He gave you to me!  I can promise you that I'm not going to be the perfect mom, but that I will continue to call on the name of the Lord to help me be the best mommy that I can. You gave your life to Jesus a few weeks ago and I cannot WAIT to see what the Lord is doing on that little heart of yours.  Happy Birthday meatball:)
Love, Mommy