Friday, May 29, 2015

Treasures From My Parent's Barn

one of my favorite pics of my parents from 1968

Every time I come to my parents I get giddy thinking about the treasures I might find from the barn to bring home and recreate with.  This time has been no different!

Josh has learned not to ask if I am going to be bringing something back to add to our eclectic Colony home, instead he just smiles and says, "I wonder what you will be coming home with this time".

I've already begun a small pile by the barn door that consists of some fencing, window shutters, random pieces of wood, an old crate box thing and a planter.  And I'm sure I'll find some other fun things to add to the pile (if I can fit them in the car, ha!).

As much as I was looking forward to scouring every nook and cranny of their huge red barn for any treasures I've missed the other dozens of times I've been in their, I have found something even better to treasure at my parents home.

Every other time I come (minus the last time I came for my mom's mastectomy) I have had my multitude of children with me.  I love them, but they can make conversation, um, how should I say it...nearly impossible rather difficult.  So getting to a point in a conversation beyond surface can be a bit of a challenge.

But this week it is just me and my mom.
I have found this treasure in my mom that I don't think I ever took the time to realize, or maybe just had the opportunity to find.  But with all this time on our hands as we wait for the effects of the chemo to run their course we have had a lot of time to reflect and just enjoy each others company.

What a treasure it has been to just sit and be with my mom.
To remember my childhood.
To learn about hers!

I would ask her something that would lead to a story or fact that I had never even heard of about my mom (she had a nervous breakdown as a schoolteacher one time as she worked tirelessly to figure out the best way to teach this difficult class she had been assigned to), which would lead to another story (she had a wig in the 70's so this new "do" of hers isn't her maiden voyage!) and another memory (she has a "short green mini skirt" that my dad she loved that always comes up in conversation;)...another little bit of my moms past that I get to store away to share with my kids one day.

Oh the things I've learned!

The places she's lived
The memories of her childhood
The children she taught
Her memories of her own parents

What a treasure these stories have become.

Life is fleeting.
We are not guaranteed another day.
Take advantage of the time you do have with the people you love and listen.
You'll be surprised at the things you'll treasure in your own heart from the things they share.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Remember The Hard Stuff To Give Hope For The Future Stuff ~ KITW

Isn’t it funny how certain smells and tastes, and even songs, can take us back to a certain time in our lives?
For my husband it is the scent of Bath ‘n Body Works “Sweet Pea” lotion that brings him back to our wedding day and honeymoon. Certain songs bring me back to soccer field warm-ups in college or high school trips to the beach when I lived in Charleston, SC.
This past week I was spending some time with my mom after she had undergone a procedure for breast cancer. I would wake up in the mornings to join my dad on their screened-in back porch, coffee in hand, windows open, listening to the birds and other critters in the surrounding fields and pastures. Every couple of minutes a rooster would crow and EVERY SINGLE TIME it would rush me back... [Read More]

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Snippits, Tidbits and Nuggets

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about all the different literature I am currently consuming.

I was LOVING the books I was reading.

One of them I was knee deep in,
another I was in the first chapter,
and yet another I had only completed the forward and introduction.

I was IN LOVE with them all!

And I still am learning some great things, but I kind of have a love/hate relationship with them.
I was reading so many different books and some of them had conflicting principals, that I was getting mentally discouraged.

Josh told me to just wade through them.
Dig out the nuggets and ideas that we can use and apply to/with our family.
And filter out the rest.
Not that it isn't good or accurate information.
It just isn't beneficial for us, in the place that we are in right now.
(and some of it just simply doesn't line up with where we are heading as a family...and that's OK!)

I am realizing more and more that the things I allow myself to read are only to be used as catapults and jumping stones across the parenting and personal life-journey stream I am crossing.

I am not meant to follow behind exactly as others have.
Those stones were for them.  Some of them sunk after they were stepped on, leaving great big holes that are much too large for me to cross.  Some of the stepping stones take a different turn that I feel like I need to go.  Some of those stones will sink if I even TRY to cross over on them.

And then I look at the things I write.

I write things that work for OUR family.  Our colony!
They may not work for you.
They are not intended for you.

But I write to give hope.
I write to give options.
I write to give perspective.
Maybe to help you think outside the box.

I am realizing more and more that everyone with a keypad believes they have earned a "voice" in this generation, but we all have to be careful to take it in through a filter.
The filter of our own personal beliefs.
The filter of the season we are personally in.
The filter of our own capabilities and character make-up.

And there is such freedom in that.

Read, read and read some more.
But maybe pray that the Lord would help you keep an honest perspective and realistic expectations as you try to figure out which methods and/or ideas to implement into your own life.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Organized Chaos From The Overflow Of The Mind

I just got back from one of the hardest/funnest workout classes of all time.
Hot Yoga
Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Well I hadn't until last year when one of my friends started going and was telling me all about how incredible it was.  I smiled and nodded outside while silently mocking her because let's face it, who would ever want to step foot in a room that is over 100 degrees ON PURPOSE...and then work out in it for an hour?
Not me!
But after continually hearing about these classes I became intrigued, so when my fitness friend told me she was picking me up to go this morning I decided to give it a try.  She is the same one who took me to her kick boxing class.  I love that her love language to me is to make me sweat and feel better about myself:)

So if you ever get the opportunity to do a hot yoga class, TAKE IT!  You'll feel amazing afterward.

Jude is completely potty trained.  Like, I don't even have to remind him to sit on the potty.  He just does it. AND he even flushes the potty and washes his hands without being reminded (he will be giving classes this weekend to the other Colony members).  He has even woken up to go potty in the night once and woken up dry the other nights.  HALLELUJAH!  We are officially  a diaper-free environment now! (but if you come and visit we'll have almost a full box of size 4's on hand if you need to borrow one, because a child will only be interested in potty training after you've invested in a brand new FAMILY SIZE box of diapers.  Just like the only time you will total a car is right after you invest on a completely full tank of gas, ha!)

I'm going to be with my mom next Tuesday for her 2nd of 16 rounds of chemo.  I can't wait to love on her.  There is just something about being available for the person that has made herself available for YOU your entire life that brings me joy.  Even if I can't do much, just being with her makes me feel like I'm doing something:)

The kids track out of school in 1 1/2 weeks.  I am SO ready to take a break from packing lunches.  Like for real, packing lunches is not for the faint at heart.  Our family also got invited to be a part of a family camp toward the end of track out.  I am SO excited to take some time away and just intentionally enjoy my family!

I had my first YoungLiving sign up under me!  I'm so excited.  Hopefully it will keep growing:)

I have dozens of tomatoes growing out in the garden.  My sunflowers and peas are starting to really take off.  The cucumbers (if I could keep the chickens out of them) are starting to really come up and the lettuce and onions began peaking through this week!

I may or may not have painted a couple more furniture items this week...

I have spent the past couple of weekends clearing out a space in the back yard by the fire pit.  Last week Josh came to check out my progress and said, "you know you are surrounded by poison ivy and poison oak right?".  My ignorant response? "It all looks like poison leaves to me".  Clearly, my invincible-confident mind didn't pass the memo onto my skin which continues to break out in new poison ivy effected spots all over my body...awesome!  Whatever keeps me humble I guess:)

Alright, I'm off to go find something else to paint, or prune, or read, or whatever I want to do because it's FAMILY DAY!

Happy Friday, ya'll!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Some Things Never Change

Our first morning with Alethia ~ 2011

I remember the very first morning we had with Alethia in Uganda.  She was timid and shy.  I remember rolling over and remembering that I wasn't in America anymore.  Then I remembered to roll over very carefully and quietly so as not to disturb the other 4 members of the family sleeping next to me...wait FIVE members of the family!

We had just added another little human to our clan and she was FINALLY with us!

Uganda doesn't do black out curtains, and there is definitely not a snooze button on the roosters outside or the monkeys looking through the windows, so the fact that the room was bright at 6:30am was no surprise.

I glanced around our small room and saw everyone fast asleep...except my new little 2-year-old bundle.  She was laying quietly across the room on her cot staring at me.  As if waiting for permission to do something.  I looked at her for the longest time and couldn't help but smile, feeling overwhelmed and excited all at the same time.

As soon as the smile reached across my face and lifted into my eyes she hesitantly sat up in her bed and gave me a questioning look.  I could tell she wanted to be close.  I motioned her over to my bed as she made her way across our room.  She snuggled in close, face to face, and just stared at me, melting into my form.  I was around 20 weeks pregnant and couldn't get comfortable but didn't want to move in fear that I would scare off this beautiful little creature who was learning to trust me.

After several moments I slowly rolled onto my back for a new posture and she quickly climbed on top of me, sprawling completely over my belly and chest, as if she couldn't get close enough.

This would be the way we would do mornings EVERY morning...but it didn't take long for her to add a new little groove into our routine.  Shortly after her eyes were awakened by the sunlight she would begin to quietly sing and hum.  Singing is a huge part of the life in the babies home.  They sing when they wake up.  They sing during play.  They sing while they are just hanging out.  I really think this singing is a way to comfort, love and make 50 kids feel secure all at one time.

I used to love pretending like I was still asleep just to listen to her little songs before she would climb into bed with me.  Fast forward 3 1/2 years and I'm still listening to her sing.  She sings while she is coloring.  She sings while she swings.  She sings when she plays by herself...

and she is singing right now as I pretend like it isn't 8am and time to get the Colony up for school.

Her sweet, early morning songs will always bring me back to those mornings in Africa as we learned to love each other.  As we learned what made her feel secure.  As we tried to prove that we were never going to leave her.

I hope she always sings.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Teaching The Lifestyle Of Ceaseless Prayer ~ KITW

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say that the word “prayer” can be a bit daunting and overwhelming.
We know that God commands it.
We know that He hears it.
We know it is a simple conversation between God and His children.
But something about it can seem so hard to grasp.
And then we read the command to “pray without ceasing” and we wonder if it is even attainable!
How in the world do we pray without ceasing?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Take 5

Band: Daughter

Song Title: Youth

Timer set on five minutes.


It has been so hard for me to find time to write lately.  I can't for the life of me figure out why.  I mean, I only have 1 kid at home!  ONE!  But he's a pretty demanding little tyke and if I don't stay on top of him he tends to think he rules the roost.  So, I spend much of the day loving, and correcting, and teaching, and correcting, and chasing, and correcting, and playing...

My mom had her first round of chemo yesterday.  I cannot stop thinking about her.  I texted with her today and she said she isn't feeling all that hot today:(  I hate that she has to go through this, but so proud of her fight!

I have a timer on my phone to pray for my quad at 1pm every day.  It is becoming one of the sweetest times with the Lord as I reflect on how far we have all come and praying for the future choices we make and seasons we will be in...

Jude is in full swing of potty training.  He wears "big boy undies" during the day and has only had 1 accident so far!  OK, it's only been 2 days, but hey, I rejoice in the little things around here.

This spring has been my favorite one to date!  It has been absolutely PERFECT!  Cool mornings and evenings, a gentle breeze in the sunny afternoons...sigh...we haven't been inside much.

My chickens make me happy.  I think that every depressed retired person looking to find purpose and fulfillment should plant a little garden and raise a few chickens.  I know that chickens can't solve the worlds problems, but they sure come close:)

Timer off.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Story In Pictures: The most PERFECTLY imPERFECT Chicken Coop

 I have one incredible husband

After a few escape episodes in the kitchen from the box they called home, 
he knew the ladies needed a home and fast.

So I began searching around on Pinterest for some ideas.

I told him what I a chicken "needed" in terms of a happy home and he got right to work.

We immediately began pulling every scrap piece of wood and material we could find
that we had in the shed, around the yard, and in my shop.

He started with my old desk from the ColonyShop.
 He then added some nesting boxes
a handful of helpers
and dozens of extra nails and holes:)

 He worked on and off for the next 2 weekends
had a paint party with the kids well into the night one evening
(they requested "barn red")

and finished up with some extra shingles we had from our shed

I found an old pallet at a car parts shop to prop up for some extra perching room,
and then added the feed and water pails

And there you have it.
A chicken coop made entirely out of supplies we already had on hand
except for some hardware and the paint!

My new happy place:
between the most perfectly imperfect chicken coop and a slowly growing Colony Garden

Thursday, May 7, 2015

If You Love Me Then Prove It ~ KITW

When people first fall in love it is usually because of a multitude of things, but one of them is for sure because of the actions of the person they are falling in love with.
I love to HEAR my husband and kids tell me they love me, but there is just something about the actions that are the overflow from that love. On the other hand, if I don’t SEE any actions or fruit from those words I could easily begin to question those words.
Each of my kids have gone through an “I love you” phase. It is really cute. I remember when Areyna...{Read more}

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Worm

I am in the middle of several books again.
No, I don't have time to read each of them everyday, and thankfully some of them are with groups so I only need to read 1 chapter a week, but man is my brain taking in a lot these days!

I thought I'd share the good reads I'm in the middle of for those of you looking for something to inspire.

"Spirit Hunger" by Gari Meacham.
This book came at just the right time and is chalk full of life altering perspective on the power of the Holy Spirit and our response to Him.

"Hands Free Mama" by Rachel Macy Stafford
I'm reading through this one with my Squad.  In an effort to live in the moment, while still living a "relevant" life, we chose this book to help us balance it all.  It has been EXCELLENT so far.  I love how it isn't "anti-devices" or social media, but helps us gain an eternal perspective for the real-live people right in front of us as we put healthy boundaries in place for everything else.

"Give Them Grace" by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
I can't rave enough about this one.  OK, well I have only just begun reading, but it had me hooked by the time I finished the forward and introduction!  I am reading this along with my co-writers over at KITW.  The writers graciously tear the vail between moral behavior and Christ-focused heart-change. I don't know about you, but I don't want an outwardly obedient child who rejects Jesus inwardly.  I want to flood them with the awareness of God's grace as it infiltrates my own life and then let it wash over the way I parent.

I will be writing on Chapters 4 and 9.  So make sure you go grab your copy and jump into the discussion!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Until My Heart Stops Dancing

I'm not sure Jude will ever get accustomed to his siblings going off to school every day.  In fact, just yesterday he sat down on the driveway in protest as he cried the saddest, biggest tears, because he didn't want to get in the car that would be delivering his playmates to school, and him to his daily solitude.

It is quite possibly the most precious, albeit, heart-wrenching thing to watch.

That being said, we do have a few daily rituals that keep him occupied while he patiently waits for them to trek back home through the field at the end of the afternoon.

We eat "cookie balls" for snacks.
We ride "bikes" (aka - scooters).
We read L-O-T-S of books.
We watch a little Daniel Tiger.
We check on the chickies and the garden.
And one of his all time favorites...

we jump on the trampoline.

The other day after jumping for a while we flopped on our booties and took a break.  I laid back, flat on my back.  And then Jude laid back, flat on his back.  My heart was racing and felt like it was going to pound through my chest.  I called Jude over to put his ear up to my chest to see if he could hear my heart.

He jumped over to where I was laying on the trampoline and practically laid down on top of me as he placed his ear on top of my chest.  After just a few beats he excitedly bounced up and said, "Mommy, it's dancing!"

That morning I had woken up with a heaviness.  Not because of the chaos going on all over the world, although that sure doesn't help matters if you let the reality of our fallen and crumbling world settle in, but it was just going to be one of "those" days.  One of my anxious days.  The kind where I wake up at my threshold before the day even begins.  All triggers and circumstances aside.  It was going to be a day of mentally battling this anxiety in order to regain ground.  In order to claim my life, my day, back even when my body doesn't want to.

But after jude exclaimed those words something happened.  I could almost feel the anxiety melting away.


Because my heart was dancing!

And I realized that even in this daily fight, my heart beats according to His command.  Every breathe is a gift and I don't want to waste a single step.

So, until my heart stops dancing, I am going to keep fighting for that focus and perspective.