Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When The Mom Card Trumps The "ME" Card - He Is My Portion

Preface: This is one of those posts that I post as a reminder to myself.
A way to write out my feelings.
But more than sifting through the mess of my own "feelings", it is the accountability of writing out the TRUTH that I'm needing to remind myself of, because I am needing a LOT of reminders this week.

Josh is in Israel this week.
The trip of a lifetime.
Walking the roads that Jesus walked.
The Bible has always been so much more than God-breathed words on paper,
but those words are coming alive to every one of those people on the trip as they read the Bible in the very place where it took place.

It was a trip that I was supposed to be on WITH them.

At the last minute I had to pull out of the trip.
To be a mom.
To advocate for one particular child of mine, struggling in some pretty major ways.

Instead of the temple mount, I have endless blanket forts.

Instead overlooking the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I am overlooking the Superhero domain lining my couch cushions.

At first I felt totally confident with my decision and the choice I made to stay behind, but I would be lying if I said that I haven't wavered at all.  If I hadn't wished it all away, believing that I DESERVED this trip.

I can say all day long that my job is "the best job ever".  And that "I would do anything for my kids", and that "it isn't a sacrifice to love them and give things up for them."

But I'm going to be brutally honest here.

I have had to fight hard this week...
   not to give into the pity party that is bubbling right under the surface trying to steal my joy.
   to enjoy my kids on these endless snow days.
   to parent consistently when the episodes that plague my sweet boy come rushing in.
   to remember my calling in life right now, my mission field.
   to remind myself that being a mama comes with sacrifices and that I GET to do this mama job, a job that some women would LONG to be able to do but are unable to do for one reason or another.
   to truly be delighted for the others on the trip and their experiences.
   to consider my own experience this week as just that, an experience, as a chance to show my kids how much they mean to me and that I really am in their corner cheering them on (even when my plans have changed).

We don't get to choose when God will incline us to draw the mom card (or whatever other card it is that turns our lives upside down).
That card that gets drawn at the most inopportune times.
That card that means sacrificing way more finances than we even have on-hand.
That card that means we have to forego a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
That card that interrupts our whole life!

But we DO get to choose our response to it.
We can choose to sulk and play the victim card instead of the one God dealt for us.
We can give into the irritation and the short temper, or the denial and the blame...

or we can choose to join God in the play he has laid out for us.

At this very moment I don't have what it takes to be the joyful, full-of-life mommy my kids need,
and maybe you don't have what it takes either..

But God does.

Choose God.
Choose HIS plan.
Call on the name of the Lord.
He is my strength and portion FOREVER!

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26

Monday, February 23, 2015

When The Lord Uproots Our Pretty Little Lives

Last fall Jude and I went on a field trip to SEBTS to be with daddy as he lead worship for chapel.

We can all guess how long Jude lasted.
He actually tried to claw his way up on stage in front of the faculty during the second song (yup, just a LITTLE humiliating), so we had to make a quick exit.

We didn't have any other plans that morning so we took a chilly stroll through campus waiting on daddy to finish.

I let Jude take the lead as he meandered between the sidewalks and buildings.  We quickly found ourselves in front of the main admin. building where there is a nice sized water fountain surrounded by a raised garden which is always adorned with the most beautiful seasonal flowers and colors.

As we walked up to the water fountain Jude headed straight toward the bright red blooms.
They were perfect.

No longer than two minutes passed before one of the maintenance workers came driving up in one of his little carts.  He immediately hopped out and began ripping and pulling out those beautiful flowers.

Jude just stood there staring in amazement.

I took a few steps back and just watched, mouth opened in shock, at what I was witnessing.

I couldn't help but feel offended.

1-this guy clearly had no idea how much flowers cost or he would be carefully removing them from the ground to either re-plant in his own yard or to at least give to his wife in an antique mason jar (because we all know that flowers are the prettiest in old-looking glass jars)!

2-it's not like these flowers were on their way out!  They were beautiful.  In FULL bloom.  Still thriving!    Perfect.

I continued to back up until I reached the sidewalk to sit down and just watch this guy as he destroyed this beautiful garden.  Ripping every single plant up out of the ground until all that was left was the soil and strewn leaves and pedals all over the garden and surrounding area.

After the worker finished his task he jumped up on his cart and drove off just as quickly as he had come.  It didn't take Jude long to make his way back to the garden area and climb up in the middle of the mess.

He kind of just stood there for a few minutes trying to process what had just happened.
Then he bent down and started picking up the beautiful red pedals as if they were treasures.
His hands were so full of the pretty pedals that he couldn't hold anymore.
But then he spotted something better than the broken pedals.

The worker had missed one beautiful stem that was still completely intact and Jude was happy to retrieve it and gift it to his wide-eyed mama.

I'm not much of a gardener, so I can't speak for this process, but I can tell you that the Lord nudged my heart in this very moment.

Reminding me that sometimes he will allow the mess to be made of our pretty little lives in order to cultivate our hearts.  In order to prepare us.  In order to make way for something much more beautiful.  The beautiful blooms that were standing before would never stand a chance in the cold, bitter season ahead and they needed to go.  The soil needed some work.  Some more seeds needed planting.

We have to be willing to let go of our pretty little lives in order to be open handed for the better that is waiting right under the surface.

It's all part of the process.

And he promises to complete every process He begins in His children,

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Favorites ~ Recipes, Cozy Feet and Pick-me-ups

It's Friday, although I just had to look at my calendar to double check.

This week has been quite the whirlwind of wind, snow, ice, wind, ice, school cancellations and lots and lots of playing outside.

We may not have had much of the accumulation variety, but it was enough to fulfill our winter storm desires!

TRUTH ~ Did you know that you can use scooters and tricycles to sled if the ice is hard enough?

I figured, since it's been kind of a crazy week, and this mama is feeling a TAAAAD bit C-R-A-Z-Y, (that and the fact that I haven't written one all week), I felt like a list of sorts was in order.

TRUTH ~ If you have been all played out from the snow and can't fathom putting your boots back on and braving the cold temps, you can get away with laying in front of the window (inside) and moving your feet in different locations on it as targets for the kids to throw snowballs at so they feel like you are still playing with them.

And since I am sitting here at 10:16pm with all 5 Colony members FINALLY in bed, and feeling VERY thankful and grateful for that fact, I thought I'd make my list about some of my favorite happy things.

1 - the afore mentioned winter weather. I do have some pics but I'm too lazy to upload them onto my computer (you did read that it is 10:16pm, right?) so they will just have to wait.

2 - my slippers, made by none other than my mom.  They make my feet happy:).  For real!  They are the only slippers I have ever owned that don't make my feet clammy or sweaty.  I Luh Them.

TRUTH ~ You can never have too much hot chocolate on hand for cold, snowy days.

3 - My new body wash that I made.  After making my homemade hand soap (2-3 Tbsp. of castile soap, 1 tsp. of Vitamin E oil and 5-6 drops of Thieves EO.  Fill rest of bottle with water and mix) I was sold on finding some more ways to implement my essential oils into other areas of my life, and the body wash was next on the list.  I combined a few recipes I saw floating around Pinterest.  The only thing I would do differently is make it with fractioned Coconut oil instead of regular Coconut oil.  But the smell is SO yummy!
1 cup Dr. Bronners plain liquid castile soap
1/2 cup of vitamin E oil
1 cup melted Coconut oil

then add:
7-8 drops of Ylang Ylang
10 drops of Grapefruit
7-8 drop of Lavender

4 - "cookie balls" - Actually Known As "Homemade Granola Energy Balls".  We make them on a weekly basis and Jude knows when I've forgotten an ingredient as he is the key chef for this recipe.  It has become a family and friend favorite:
2 cups oats
2 cups unsweetened, raw, shredded coconut
1 cup flax seed
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup raw honey
1 cup peanut/almond butter

TRUTH ~ In order to make it to our mailbox without busting your a$$ on the ice you must make sure you have appropriate shoes on, dig your heal into the ice and slowly roll your foot forward while digging the heal of your other foot into the ice.  I'm guessing it could get rather embarrassing if this technique were not mastered before heading down to check the mail during rush hour.

5 - My parents being here.  Josh is in Israel for the next week and things have been a bit difficult on the home front.  It's always nice to know that you have some extra hands, cuddles and book reading bodies to lean on (not to mention help in the kitchen)!  So thanks, ya'll, for coming.

Five happy things for Friday.

Have a great, happy weekend ya'll!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Learning To Be Flexible With Your Family Devotional Plans - KITW

When I was younger I remember being fearful of heaven. I knew it would be beautiful and I knew I’d get to be with Jesus forever, but how in the world are we, as little humans (or even big ones for that matter), supposed to grasp the concept of FOREVER? It’s downright overwhelming if you think about it.
If given the choice, I think I would have rather stayed in my happy little bubble of familiarity. I had Cinnamon (my loving teddy bear), my mommy and daddy under one roof, and a brother and sister who gave me just enough grief ;). I knew nothing different and [Read more...]

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My One Activity For Ash Wednesday...and every day

It is no coincidence that today is Ash Wednesday.

It is the day that begins the season of Lent.
A season of reflection, repentance, fasting and anticipation of the Resurrection.

And on this day, this mama, who wrote a freakin' book about this very special season, should be whipping up some pretty impressive family activities to share (because it is, after all, my favorite season to observe), but instead I am holding on for dear life to the fact that today I am a mom and God has instilled everything I need to make it through today.

On a day when I would rather just climb back in bed and bury myself in the covers.
On a day when I just want to wave my little white flag.
On a day when the countdown to bedtime began at 9:30am.

On a day when the whining won't stop,
and the bullying continues among certain Colony members
and sweetly playing children seems to be a distant memory

and the current season seems to stretch out as far as I can see...

...but then I remember

that Jesus bore it all,
that He looks deep within my own sinful heart,
that He forgives without limits and record,
that He restores,
that He sustains,
that He provides,

that He conquered death so that we can be free.

So again, today, just as yesterday, I have a choice to live in that freedom, or in the bondage of fear, doubt, anger, resentment, bitterness, guilt, blame...

And not only for myself, but for the little people who are shadowing after me today, and my husband who is depending on me to keep my focus.

Remember who He is as you remember whose you are.

Monday, February 16, 2015

3 days Into Three ~ a story in pictures

as I was working out with Shaun T in the living room
Jude walked in front of me to the kitchen
(where the laundry room resides)
dragging the laundry basket behind him

and this is what I captured...


Only 3 days into THREE years old.
(PS-he is also potty training himself too.  I'm a pretty lucky mama!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Shop ~ my OTHER job "outside" the home

We have this little room outside under the carport.
It houses the water heater, electrical switch boxes and dryer vent.
When we first moved in it also housed
random home fixtures, a broken freezer, a jammed filing cabinet and rusty tools.

Over the years we have slowly been cleaning it out and making it more "purposeful".

Last year, after opening up theColonyShop,
certain Colony members began to complain about the noise.
Like hammering metal in the kitchen on the floor isn't a "normal" occurrence or something.

Shortly after the complaints started coming in, the Colony leader 
requested I take my business elsewhere;)

As if creating fun spaces in my home isn't fun for me, ha!
I cleared out a spot in this little "gem" of a place and have slowly made it my own.

Welcome to theColonyShop, friends!

Areyna got a sewing machine for Christmas and theColonyShop creators
graciously let her set up her own special work place.

I found an old hanging planter that houses her fabric scraps

The abundance of storage allows us to keep all of our craft supplies in one place!

It's certainly not perfect, but I LOVE the incompleteness and imperfections.

gems, jewels, and measuring sticks

I spray painted a tray table gray (of course I did)
This old director chair was in my parents barn.
I brought it home, cleaned it up, recovered it and painted it
and now it makes the perfect chair for the shop.

It's one of my happy places, 
and if you ever stop by and can't find me, I'm pretty sure this is where I'll be.

Monday, February 9, 2015

...and then he was three

I know, I know...cherish these years, babies don't keep, swiftly fly the years...we've all heard it a million times over.  I'VE heard it a million times over.

I get it.

I really do.

But it still doesn't seem to change anything.

I cherish those sweet little years.
I watch the years swiftly fly by.
I soak in the snuggles.
I drink in the sweet smell.

But here he is...3 years old today.

Our Jude Warren came into this world with a struggle and a fight.
He went through his first 2 years with ease.
(he was the most easy going child, going with the flow of the crazy Colony life around him and picking up his own rhythm in spite of the chaos.)
And then he gained a voice and an opinion.

He prefers Superman
Strongly advises against any kind of clothing that makes him warm (like socks, shoes, coats/jackets)
He prefers all kinds of foods that upset his tummy, likes sweets and milk products
and would rather throw a toy than play with it
Ya-ya (Alethia) is his comforter
Rainy is his voice of reason
Cai is his buddy
and Zeke is his examply (for better or worse;)

He is the perfect bookend for this Colony and I simply cannot imagine life without him and his cute little scratchy voice.

He is the sweetest, cutest bully I ever did meet!

He loves to get Siri to call Josh's co-worker Matt on a daily basis
He loves to wrestle
He loves to be rough
He loves cuddly animals (from a distance)
He loves to read (his current favorites are "The Remarkable Farkle McBride" and "Pinkalicious")
He loves to take toys away from his friends
He loves to eat his daddy's food
He loves to "cookie balls" (recipe to come soon, I promise!)
He loves his buddies Evan, Ben, Zoe, Monzie, Isaac, Si-si, among others
He loves anything technology

I love his lispy vocabulary
I love his cuddles
I love his random "I luh you's"
I love his passion
I love his predictability
I love his squeezes
I love his love for music

I know his strong personality will eventually be something that God will use in a great way
I know this boy inside and out
and can only pray that He longs for a relationship with the Heavenly Father that knit him together

scratches on his face and mascara attempts = every day with Jude
Sweet, sweet Jude,
You are 3 today.  I can hardly believe it.  I love you so much it hurts sometimes.  I hope you will always remember whose child you are!
Happy birthday Ju-Ju Bean!

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Secret Of Simplicity ~ embracing the imperfect home

I'm not sure where the American culture got in their minds that the wife is supposed to be able to carry the whole load of the home herself.

Did you know that even in third world countries mothers have help around the house and with their children and schooling?  Heck, even the Proverbs 31 woman had maidens!

The phrase, "it takes a village" is a reality in villages and homes all around the world.

Moms come together to help carry the load of mothering, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the sick, and that's just naming a few.

Families usually live closer together so it makes for built-in help, but when family is not around the friends usually step in, and when that doesn't cover it, families will hire out help.  It helps the economy and keeps families running smoothly.

So why is it that we, as moms, feel like failures if we can't keep up with everything?

We have the laundry.
Then the cooking.
Running kids all around to activities is a never ending job.
Then you add in the dishes, mopping, sweeping...
And then there is the working mom, and the yard work and the side buisiness...

Add it all together and you have one stressed out mama (and family)!

But I have learned that in order to thrive as a mom and wife I need to simplify, and even ask for help when I need it.  If you are on a low budget and can't pay for outside help, like us, then girl, you need to simplify.

Here are some simple things we have implemented in our home to simplify.

(Note that they are in list form because lists make me happy and seem to simplify even the most overwhelming of tasks.  And LIFE can most certainly be an overwhelming task!)

1 - To Do List(s) - Every day I make a short list of things that absolutely HAVE to get done that day.  Note that these are not things I'd LIKE to get done, but that need to get done.  I make a separate list of the things I'd like to accomplish that day and then an ongoing list of things that I would love to get done sometime in the near future.  This helps to prioritize my to-do's.

2 - Laundry - I no longer sort my laundry before washing.  I know, I know, it is better for the colors and duration of the material if we sort them, but this mama is NOT going to sweat over it.  I do not have the luxury of being a full-time laundry person, therefore my main job is to get the clothes cleaned and able to be worn again.

Here is another one.  I don't fold the laundry.  I pull it out of the dryer, sort it into boys, girls, Jude and mommy/daddy piles while turning it all right-side-out.  The kids are responsible for putting their own clothes away, so I place their clean clothes in a pile in their room and they put them away after school.  The girls take great pride in organizing and folding their clothes.  The boys, not so much, ha!  But the way they tear through their drawers looking for the perfect outfits in the mornings, I highly doubt they would stay folded anyway.  So, as long as they are put away I could care less.

3 - Cooking - I choose simple, healthy and relatively quick meals.  I choose 5 meals a week that I can place in on our weekly calendar depending on the evenings activities.  I try to plan my meals and make my grocery list on Sundays.  And sometimes plans change and then I have a meal (or two) to roll over for the next week!

4 - Activities - We don't have a set rule about our family and activities, but we are learning how much our family can handle and getting pretty confident in saying the word "no".  We simply are not a family who can thrive with an activity every night or birthday parties every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

5 - Cleaning - Every week seems to be different around here so I have always had a hard time picking a cleaning schedule.  I can't do it all in one day.  It is simply impossible.  And I can't choose certain things to do each day of the week because my OCD flips out when I miss a day to run errands or pick up a sick kid from school.  So I try to keep up with the day to day this way:

  • I begin the day by straightening up each room after the kids go off to school.  I don't even necessarily make the beds (except mine), but just make some semblance of them, like making sure each kids covers aren't dragging on the ground and their animals are in the appropriate beds.  I open up curtains and blinds and make piles of the things the kids need to put away when they get home from school.  Every once in a while I get in super manic mode and deep clean their rooms, but for the most part I let them keep up with it.  They like me to get it all in a pile so they can see it whittle down to nothing as they pick it all up:) 
  • making sure the kitchen sink is empty and the counters and table are wiped down by the end of every day.  For some reason, I feel as if I can conquer anything if I've got a clean kitchen!
  • If I know I have a pretty light day I add specific cleaning things to my NEED list, like toilets or mopping under the dining room table.
6 - Ask for Help - I am not so good at asking for help, but we have so many people who love my kids and our family who eagerly step in EVERY time we need help.  Also, don't be afraid to enlist the help of your kids.  I promise they will love that you are being authentic enough to admit that you can't do it all and will step up to the task.
When I allow  Jude to "help" me unload the dishwasher
it allows me to enjoy his company, embrace his "help"
(that I get regardless of my wanting it or not)
and makes me loosen up my perfectionist grip on my home
because we all know that a home with 5 kids is far from Pinterest perfect
These are just a few things I do on a weekly basis that help keep our life moving smoothly.

I simply ask myself, what is my job in this area that will allow this object to serve its purpose.

If the 3 different sets of Legos are stressing you out because they keep getting all mixed up, then simplify it by making a big bin for ALL the Legos, or simply get rid of the sets that you don't use as much.

If you have way too much laundry that you simply can't keep up with it, go through the kids drawers and get rid of all the clothes that they rarely or never wear and give them away!

Clean up dishes as you cook.

Put clothes away as you are taking them off.

Put objects away right away instead of laying them  on my desk  on the counter or chair that holds all the random things in the home that haven't found their home yet.

I hope this has helped you feel like you can release some of those things you feel like you HAVE to do in order to be the perfect mom!

What are some things you do around your home to help simplify your life to make a happy mama?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Just Rolling With The Tide

I've had a rather "different" past couple of days.

A little sickness.
A lot of drama with a certain little boy who will remain nameless (Zeke).
And a lot of unfocused"ness" in my brain.

Today I am working on gathering myself back together after a weird 3 days.

I got the sheets washed but they need to be put back on my bed.
I dishwasher is finished washing the dishes but they need to be put away.
Dinner is thawed but it has to be prepped before the kids get home from school.

I did get groceries so my children can eat a better breakfast than...well, we don't have to get into what we've been eating the last couple of days, ha!

I can't seem to stay focused on anything.
So I've done a lot of sitting and resting
more listening to the new Bethel Music album
and even more procrastinating the inevitable household duties looming over my head.

At least we have groceries...I just need to put them away now, ha!

And we can always just lay down a blanket on the bed to sleep on.
The dishes are safe in the dishwasher
And God made pizza delivery for a reason, right?!

Maybe tomorrow will be a little more productive.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

To The Mom Of The Anxious Child

We, as moms have a very important job.

We are to train up a child in the way he should go.

That means that we love our children through the mess of life and help teach them how to make the wisest choices in the season they have been placed in.

Sometimes that season is an overflow of others circumstances and consequences.
Sometimes it is a season they have placed themselves in.

For the sensitive child, sometimes these seasons come with unprecedented anxiety because of their circumstances and even for NO apparent reason at all.

Regardless of the reason for the anxiety, it can be paralyzing and cause your child to act irrational and make poor choices.

And regardless of what kind of mother you are you will be made vulnerable to the lies that it is somehow YOUR fault.

Your fault for the anxiety tormenting your child.
Your fault for the mess your child seems to be surrounded with.

But I'm here to tell you...
I'm here to tell ME...

We are NOT to blame.

Blame this sinful world.
Blame the sinful choices.
Blame the devil himself.

But don't blame yourself.

Instead turn to the God who carries the hope for us to get through it.

God has promised to love us THROUGH it.
No matter what.

We are all children of God and we cannot be slaves to the fear and shame that comes with blame.

*inspired by Bethel Worship's song "No Longer Slaves
after a day of tormenting anxiety for my son Zeke

Monday, February 2, 2015

Art Gallery - Fall 2014

Zeke ~ running in the boosterthon

Cai ~ Joker and Batman

Zeke ~ scarecrow in a field

Zeke ~ scarecrow

Zeke ~ leaf imprints

Zeke ~ baseball players
Cai ~ cornucopia

Cai ~ fall "hand tree"

Caia ~ had to draw something he was mad about
"I was mad because I couldn't skate in the snow"

Cai ~ he is flying in the sky and there is a duck and a shark in the water below

Cai ~ pumpkin patch

Cai ~ Batman

Cai ~ at the beach

Cai ~ a car with fire blasters