Monday, March 30, 2015

While You Were Gone - A Story In Pictures - another transformation (of the more difficult variety)

Last weekend Josh and I headed to his parents house in Virginia to drop off the kids.  They were about to spend the week with their Meme and Poppie in order for Josh and I to have a couple of days away for our anniversary.

Luckily I am not a hard-to-please woman and we had the best stay cation EVER, and the only thing on the agenda (well, except that it WAS our anniversary so there were "other" things on the agenda as well;), was to re-do our kitchen floors that we had been given Christmas money to do.

I made a list of all the things I wanted to complete while the kids were away and started knocking the projects out as soon as we got home on Monday afternoon.

We found some beautiful wood flooring on clearance (thank you Heidi!), and with that price we still had plenty of money to cover the other smaller project we wanted to get done around the house and stay completely in budget.

We immediately began prepping the floors to lay down the wood flooring.  Three layers of old linoleum later we found the subfloor.  We had a couple of friends warn us of asbestos (after we were almost done ripping it all out) in the old linoleum backing and glue so we did a worrisome amount little bit of research and calling around before making the executive decision that it was NOT full of asbestos, but if it was, the damage was done and was now sealed into the subfloor after some advice from our contractor friends, aired out the house for 3 days straight and gave each other lung cancer for our 13th anniversary, ha!
This is looking into the kitchen from the dining room.  This is how the floors have been adjoined since we moved in.

The white tile was the top layer.  That yellow tile under our living room? That was the second layer in our kitchen.  We still aren't quite sure how far into our home that layer goes under the carpet,
but that's another project for another week day.

Josh temporarily lifted my ban from tools, yay!

ahem...moving on...

Our laundry "room" is in the kitchen so we tore out the cabinets above the washer and dryer and used the wood to make a new desk for the girls to share in their room.
These are some of our "laundry room" transformations over the years
and then we knocked all the cabinets out

Since Josh's time was limited with work and school I found several other projects to occupy my time:)

I found an old cookie sheet to make a magnet board for Jude.

I finished up the painting in the kids bathroom that I began several months ago and painted the cabinets in there as well.

I added a little romantic eye candy to our bedroom.
using an old door that has been in the shed since we moved in

Painted and revamped the boys room.  This is the only room in the house that we hadn't touched since moving in over 5 years ago.

Painted all the exterior doors.

And began the work of painting the cabinets in the kitchen, which will be finished on a day when I get complete movement and feeling back into my hands again.  Painting for 3 days straight really begins to limit mobility and function of my griping muscles, ha!

After all of that my body is now paying the price.  I love the finished products, but man was I exhausted after picking up the kids Saturday afternoon and calling in quits!

Here are some shots of the finished products of the kitchen.
(I really started off good with photos on my good camera and then got a bit lazy:)

And for your viewing pleasure, a little before and after:)

this was taken shortly after we moved in

then I had the bright idea of accenting some of the cabinets with dark brown
(what WAS I thinking?!)
and then adding the backsplash a year and a half ago.
This was taken yesterday.
I can't wait to get a fresh coat of white on the cabinet doors and finish the grey border in between them:)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Fickel People

It has been absolutely NUTS around here over the past week (more on that tomorrow) that I didn't even realize, until going to church today, that it was Palm Sunday.

The beginning of Holy Week!
(you know, that little week that inspired a book that was written by a certain Colony mom:)

When Pastor Jimmy made reference to the fact that today was Palm Sunday my brain completely froze. For some reason those words reminded me of how fickle we as humans are.

One day we are praising God and telling him how wonderful and powerful He is.  Throwing our Palm branches down at His feet and giving our lives to Him.
The next we are doubting Him to actually move in the huge way we need Him to and questioning His ability to do a miraculous work in the giant in front of us.  And for some of us, even blaming Him for the season that we are in, which in essence, is like picking up a hammer in our own hands to dig those nails into his wrists ourselves.

We are a fickle people.
A fickle people that He sent His only Son to earth for.
A fickle people whom He loved so much that He gave His Son up for US!
A fickle people that He loved too much to allow us to pay our own price for our sinful, fickle nature.

Today I was reminded of how truly blessed I am to have a God that loves me, regardless of what I've done and how many times I turn my back on Him.

Today is the beginning of Holy Week.
Let's try to use this week to focus on just how Big our God is and all that He has done for us.
Our fickle, human selves.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Words Worth Remembering

Jude:"I'm a rockstar!"
Me:"Awww, yes you are a rockstar.  Can I be a rockstar too?"
Jude:"Nope. You are beautiful."


Jude:" Oooh, I see helicostumes!"
translation: helicopters


Zeke:"Mom, can you stop for a minute?"
Me:"No buddy, we're on the INTERSTATE!"


Zeke:"Mom, I think I just heard a bird yelling for help!"


Jude:"I poopied in the potty lasterday"


Cai:"Jude, NO, you can't go out there.  The volcano syrup is going to get you!!!"


Jude:"Mom, open your face."
translation: mom, will you look at me?


Me:"Jude, do you PROMISE you'll do it?"
Jude:"I pinky pwomise!"


Jude:"Can I get a goodie bag of thtuff and give it to Edis and Lois?"
translation: Can I bring a snack to Ed and Lois?


Jude:"Cai, I love you so bad."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Everything Else Is Just Overflow ~ KITW

We all have busy lives.
Believe me, I know.
I am a mama to 5 little humans. Real live humans, who require constant help with tying shoes, washing hair, packing lunches, and the never-ending task of helping with homework and projects (and taking LEGO pieces apart).
I am also a wife to a man in ministry at a church, getting his doctorate in seminary, as well as taking his music on the road. Not to mention my own musical endeavors and side business making jewelry. We are a family with a full schedule, no doubt.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that I have a real need for a personal, DAILY relationship with Christ. {...Read More}

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How Food Preferences Reminded Me Of God's Love

We've had a couple of friends over today.

It was getting pretty close to noon and the kids had already started their circuit of asking for food: snacks, cookie balls, gum, pretzels...basically anything they could get their sticky little fingers on and shove in their mouths because let's be realistic here, it had been two hours since their last meal and sustenance was imperative!

So I began preparing 7 plates.

I have 3 Colony members who like jelly only.
2 who like peanut butter with their jelly.
2 use the gluten free bread.
2 only need a half a sandwich.
1 says bananas give her an itchy tongue so I gave her an orange.
1 doesn't like "cookie balls".
3 like tomatoes.

2 of the littles are not my own so I kind of had to guess at their preferences but I made small portions just in case they didn't prefer something, figuring they could always ask for more.

As soon as I perfected a plate I'd place it in its appropriate place at the table and move on to the next until I had 7 hand-picked meals.

As I stood back admiring the table of food, filled with 7 little plates, for 7 little humans, with 7 very different preferences for food I received a very sweet reminder from the Holy Spirit.

God knows each of these 7 kids.

Not only does he know exactly what kind of foods they prefer, but he can recall their favorite things to do in their spare time, things that have hurt them, people who have encouraged them, and more importantly...he knows their names.

But not just those seven names.  

He knows MY name.  
He knows YOUR name.  
And if you are a follower of Christ, He calls to you by that name.

He even knows how many hairs are on each of our heads.
Because he formed us in our mother's womb.

And he doesn't just know it for knowledge sake.
Oh no.
It is for a very specific purpose.
It is because he LOVES us!
And that reminder makes me feel safe.

"To him the gatekeeper opens.
The sheep hear his voice,
and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."
John 10:3

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Difference In A Week

Last Sunday I remember sitting in church desperately clinging to every word that was spoken and sung.  Knowing full well that it was all truth, but being numbed by life and circumstances to respond to any of it.  Our family has been through a pretty hard season over the past several months and the difficulty had been progressively getting more and more severe.

I remember sitting there, unable to stand and lift up my hands.
Unable to utter a word of this truth I so fiercely believe from every inch of my body.

I wearily hung on every word as I mentally offered them up to the Lord.

But this week has been a huge turning point.

This week brought hope.
Brought life.
Brought order from the chaos.

I don't know how long it will last or what the next season will bring.
But I know that today I rejoiced and praised from the overflow.

Some weeks we find ourselves in the desert and other weeks we sing from the mountaintops.
But EVERY week He is God and He is GOOD and I will choose to praise Him.

Friday, March 13, 2015

#ColonyLife - If I ruled the world

Friday Question:
"If you ruled the entire world what would your first rule be?"

Areyna:"there would be no school"

Zeke:"everybody has to wear underwear. No, no, no, that's not it.  Everybody has to have a tent that they can go in whenever they want that has computers and gadgets."

Alethia:"you should never throw food away"

Cai:"no eating candy.  wait, no.  It would be no spitting out food."

Jude:"we have to ride our bikes and get our boots on."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wonderful Words

I love that God gave us the ability to use words.

to communicate
to process
to correct
to encourage
to love
to think
to process
to worship.

But over the past couple of weeks my mind has been whirling with words.

I've tried to sit down to write a post several times but I can't seem to focus on one thought in order to write a flowing post.

I know it's just a blog and I know it's just another post, but for me it is an outlet.
A way to process.

And nothing seems to be coherent in my head.

Therefore I am going to worship God by recounting some of the recent blessings in my life.
Not only does it bring praise the the Heavenly Father, it reminds me of how much I am loved by Him.  He truly loves His children in even the smallest of things.

My diffuser broke a couple of weeks ago.
Not only did the company replace the broken one for FREE, but gave me TWO to replace my ONE.

God has placed the right people in our lives at just the right time to get help for our Zeke.

I went to fill a prescription last night and it was over $86 for the generic.  I asked if the worker could help find ANY kind of discount.  All of a sudden the total went down to $10.  Her jaw dropped in surprise as she looked at me and stated, "I don't know what just happened but your total just went down to $10 and I'm not going to question it.  I'm printing the receipt label right now."  Praise the Lord!

The weather has been wonderful outside.  The kids first week of track-out has been spent playing in the fields around our house, catching tadpoles and frogs, playing in the bunny bush and glueing leaf collections on paper.

My mom, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, has gotten appointments at just the right times and she is holding fast to her Heavenly Father, which is so beautiful to see.

The ColonyShop has stayed busy, busy, busy, but I only tend to get orders on days that I can handle it. If it is a day full of appointments or temperamental children I don't get orders, but days like today I get 2 orders.  The Lord knows exactly how much I can handle and when.

Jude still takes naps.  Need I say more, ha!

I am cared for. I am provided for.  I am loved.
My family is healthy.
The Colony kids tend to love each other (most of the time;).

Life isn't easy.
And, because of sin, it never will be.
But I can always lean into God.

He's got me.
And I'm thankful for it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Acknowledging the Label While Allowing God to Write the Definition

We have been on a long road with our Zeke.

I believe with all my heart that the Lord has called him to greatness for the Kingdom.
I believe that God's plan for Zeke's life is HUGE.
I believe that Satan has, can and will try to derail him any chance he gets as a result of this.
I believe that Zeke was fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, just like every other member of our family.

We have a Zeke journal that we have kept since he was two years old.
This journal documents ways that the Lord has spoken through Zeke and directly to Zeke.
There are things in that journal that can only be explained by God.

There is somethings special about that boy.

He is a very complex little human.
He feels deeply.
He grieves greatly.
He excites dramatically.
He hurts in such a big way that he has to act on it, whether it is on someone else's behalf or for himself.

I have written so much about our journey with Zeke as we have helped him thrive in spite of his anxiety, ADHD and multiple other learning issues, but some recent conversations with some friends have led me to write my take on why labeling our children can be used toward our advantage.

When we first realized that Zeke was battling something we began taking notes (hence our journaling).  We noticed things that were different than his sister.  We noticed how they were different that other little ones his age.  We just began to try to keep a record of it.  Our goal wasn't to try to label him right away, it was to see if there was truly anything worth "figuring out".

The more children we added to the Colony, the more we realized just how different things really were.  His emotions were hightened. His education was dragging. His impulses were many times out of his control.

We were confronted on more than one occasion about his behavior and were advised to get him checked out.

Now, I could have been easily offended by these "accusations" about having a "special needs" child.  I mean, who wants someone to tell them that something is "wrong" with their child?  Who wants to be told that they may be missing something as their parent?  Who wants to put a label on their kid?

But for some reason the Lord softened our hearts to this information.
After all, we had a choice...
get offended and deny that there could actually be some weight to the words spoken
weigh the words and see if there could be any truth to the observations and if so, look into the suggestions given.

We ended up going to a psychologist just to get a professional opinion.  She is WONDERFUL!  She actually told us she hates using the word "labeled" because of the negative connotations,  but did, in fact, label him with ADHD, Anxiety, several types of Dyslexia and a Processing Disorder.  There were some other underlying things as well, but we left those sessions with a good idea of how to help him.

To me this information has been CRUCIAL to my parenting and patience with him AND my other children.

Fortunately for Zeke, he has a mama who fights the anxiety fight on a daily basis, so we have our own form of communication.  We both KNOW what it is like.  He (and ALL my kids for that matter) is so sensitive to me on those days where my anxiety is through the roof because we communicate openly in our home about what it is, how it makes us feel, and what we need from others around us to help get us through it.

There is a lot of grace, love, patience and forgiveness in this house.

The label allows us to see the "issues" for what they are, and then gives us all more realistic expectations for the way life needs to be.

For example:

As a family with a child with learning issues, we have to praise good reports often.  Even the tiny little progresses so he doesn't feel left out with a family full of academically different children.

We typically don't do Sunday evening activities because the kids are normally up anywhere between 5:30 and 6am for rehearsal call time and are exhausted by the time the 3 service lets out.  Zeke gets mentally exhausted before he gets physically exhausted which can lead to some major meltdowns if we have a busy afternoon or evening.  And that almost always runs over into Monday morning battles to get to school and then continues on throughout the day.

It means that sleep is VERY important.
Diet is crucial.
Routine is mandatory.
And consistency is not an option.

Just like we have a different way of working through issues with our adopted daughter because of her past, we have a different way of working through issues with each of our other children because of their make-up, tendencies, and stages of life.

My point is, don't be afraid of getting your children checked out.  If it's nothing it's nothing, no harm done.  If it is something, then my goodness, aren't you glad you KNOW what that something is?

Now I KNOW why we did the same lessons in homeschool for nearly 3 years with Zeke and were getting nowhere.
I KNOW why he freaks out when the teachers in his class are different, or the classroom atmosphere keeps changing, or we only go to 1 service this week and not 3 like normal.
I KNOW why he has a hard time focusing, and why he tugs at his shirt in nervousness, and needs to start saying his goodbye's before we even enter the carpool line in the morning.

The label gives a foundation to the behavior and allows for us to find the ways to help them get through it or thrive in it!

My only advice is...don't allow those labels to define who they are.

Yes I have "anxiety", but that anxiety is NOT who I am.  I am a child of God, fighting to take every thought captive and rest in His peace and consistency.

Yes Alethia was "adopted", but the fact that she was adopted does NOT define who she is.  She is a child of God, a forever member of the Via Colony, who may always be fearful of goodbyes and being left alone, but will never be abandoned again.

Yes Jude is a strong-willed little boy, but his strong will is NOT who he is.  He is a child of God, created to lead and be persistent (oh God, the persistence you have given that boy BETTER be used for good one day!).

We all have words that can label us.

Use the label as a platform to understand, and then allow the Lord to define those rough edges into something beautiful.