Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Making It Her Own

We like to have people over for dinner.
There's just something about sharing a meal together.
It helps break down barriers and allows for intimate conversation that wouldn't happen otherwise.
A relationship can quickly move past surface small talk to friendship over a homemade salad, grilled corn, apple cinnamon ham and fried bananas.

So a few nights ago we were talking to some friends over dinner and they were asking about our kids and our faith and how we merge the two together.

More than anything we want our kids to see our Faith in Jesus Christ lived out consistently in every area of our lives, so that they will, in turn, begin to incorporate their own faith in Him into their own lives.

And this past week I think Areyna made leaps and bounds in that direction.

See, she isn't an academic whiz like her daddy.  Unfortunately she got her mama genes in the education department, ha!  (Hey, there's no shame here!)  We have to work hard for the understanding and retention of the knowledge we need to learn.  Fortunately Rainy is a very self-motivated, hard worker.  She has come SO FAR since we put her into the public school system in 2nd grade.  She began 5th grade right on track!

And then came long-hand division.
And it was wreaking havoc on her self-esteem and enjoyment in school.

We've been communicating with her teacher about her need for a little "boost" in this area and she has been meeting with her in the mornings before the other students get there. (We can't say enough good things about our kid's school!)  But she still wasn't understanding and remembering all the steps.

She was beyond frustrated, one particular morning, and left for school in tears.
So you can imagine my shock (and relief) when she walked into the door after school that day with a huge smile on my face.  She even said she had a "great day" and that she had to tell me "something awesome when daddy gets home".

I pulled the mom card and promised not to tell or text daddy ANYthing until she got to tell him, and she caved pretty quickly:)

Apparently on her walk to school she cried out to God.  The God her daddy and mommy always go to on sucky days, or when we are in the valley, or when we are SO grateful for a provision or specific wisdom.  But she didn't pray to our God.  She prayed to HER God.  Her personal heavenly father.  ABBA. El Roi.

She asked God to give her an understanding for long-hand division.
She asked God to help her remember the steps.
She asked God to hear her cry of desperation.

And he answered with a resounding "YES, sweet daughter"!

I can't even explain the joy this moment brought to my heart.

Not because of anything we've done, but because I was blessed enough to witness my daughter make a leap of faith in her God.  The God who counts our tears, listens to our cries, and answers every prayer for our own good.

That is how I want my kids to see our faith.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

For Lack Of A Better Title

When I began blogging I didn't think I'd ever have anything to say.  I'd try to write a couple of times a week as a goal.  It didn't take long to get in a routine of writing on a daily basis and falling in love with jotting down our lives in short little blog snippets for remembrance sake.

Then came the "deal days" as I like to call them.  Well, actually, I've never called them that until right now, but I needed something catchy, ha!  Those endless hours of coupon cutting, deal hunting and freebie seeking and sharing that led to multiple posts a day.

Yes, you read that right.
Multiple. Posts. A. Day.
(I'm pretty sure that's when I lost my husband's audience:)

Then I came back to the land of the living (maybe I'll tell you the comical, though quite embarrassing, story of why I actually gave up couponing.  K. Grossman, you are NOT allowed to comment on this one, ha!) and went back to daily blogs about our ministry and our growing Colony.

But as of late I have had the hardest time blogging.  Now, I've got PLENTY of things to write about, but by the time I actually get a second to sit down I just want to sit and allow my mind to idle, and this act almost always leads to a quiet-induced coma of the best kind...sleep...

But here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, feeling awake and somewhat motivated.
We had a beautiful morning at Journey.
Josh is out getting ready to play for the Journey Students tonight so I can't completely let myself fall into a deep sleep with 5 littles and 7 chickens running around.
The afternoon is LOVELY. 86 degrees with slight 45% humidity and a gentle breeze (I heart weather).  The shade is glorious, so sitting on the porch swing was called for.
Sipping on tea.
Listening to 3 kids rummage through the bin of Legos, while another naps and another looks on with a lazy, content gaze.

This scene doesn't play out very often around here so I am soaking it in, even if it only lasts a few more minutes.

This week was a rough one, but we are managing to gain momentum again, and my psyche is more capable of handling the Colony chaos now and I'm allowing the Sabbath of this Sunday afternoon to soak in the cracks created from the past week (even though I REALLY want to start weeding the grape vine area...I will refrain for sanity sake).

I've had a hard time focusing my "prayer time" in the mornings.  My mind is all over the place, in spite of journaling attempts and other things I'm trying to do to keep on track.  It can be pretty frustrating.  This is just what happens when you take a part of your life captive and seriously give it up to the Lord.  Satan will try to distract you ANY way he can, but I've decided to combat it throughout the day.  ANY time someone comes to mind I pray for them.  No matter what.  Even if it is a short prayer between spelling words and explaining math problems.  I also try to text the person to let them know that they are on my heart and I'm praying for them.

We've also begun the never ending job of landscaping.  I am about 1/2 way done digging out roots, grass and weeds in front of the front porch, and I've got the blisters and tan lines to prove it.  But it's kind of like a work's the best kind of messy and sore when you can see the progress!  Now I have to figure out what we're going to do with all that space before weeds start growing back again!

My mom is in her every-week-for-12-weeks chemo stretch.  She's down two with only 10 more to go.  And then the daily radiation treatments begin.  She's hanging in there and I am so thankful that these new rounds of chemo don't have the same side-effects as the last rounds.

Josh and I have had many late-night talks about how we can become more intentional in the lives we are surrounded with on a daily basis.  It's a hard thing to find the balance of "white space" that a family needs and "living life" with others, but we are determined to marry the two and continue to have an open door to all who come to us for shelter, help and love, with the intentional means of living out the gospel to them.

The natives are getting restless and my picture-perfect Sunday afternoon is beginning to not be anymore, so I'm going to go be the mom I need to be.

I hope you have all had a WONDERFUL weekend!

Monday, bring it on!

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Different Kind Of "Special"

When I was younger and daydreamed about my future, it didn't look ANYTHING like my future has turned out.  I always believed I would have kids, but was never really a "kid person", so the fact that I was blessed with five little humans is a really big deal.

I also had a heart for special needs children.  My cousin with Down's Syndrome has always been one of the most precious creations to me and I could totally see God entrusting me with a child with some sort of special need.

But in my daydreams and thoughts of the future I always envisioned a little girl who was blind, a boy who couldn't hear, or having a child with some other "typical" type of special need that I had been accustomed to seeing.

Well, here I am.  The mother of 5 children, and if that isn't a miracle in and of itself, God created one of them with some pretty major "special needs".

But they aren't the ones I ever envisioned walking through with one of my children.
I never even considered these things to equal a "special needs" child.

My son may look normal and appear to be a typical 9-year old, so to an on-looker he just seems like an unruly kid who has parents that simply can't get him under control.

But under that stubborn personality is fear.
Beneath that fight for control is inner chaos.

He is extremely sensitive to emotions, peoples feelings, his surroundings, noises, senses, spiritual name it, he is sensitive toward it (or so it seems).
He is obsessive about who has touched or breathed on his food.
He has sensory issues, OCD tendencies, ADHD, processing and other disorders...

I am here to encourage other moms who have children like mine.

You aren't alone.

I know you are exhausted because you can't let your guard down, even for a second, because you have to be prepared for the next "episode".  You know from experience that it can typically come without triggers or warnings, and you have to be ready.  Always ready.

I know you feel like you have missed something, second guessing all of your parenting techniques and strategies.

I know you get the constant looks and words of advice on how to handle your kid when in public.

I know it effects your entire family.  Finding someone who can watch him AND the others just for you to go to small group or even on a date is difficult.

I know the tendency to compare this child to others.

I know that you wish there was some kind of magic regiment that made all these "special" things just disappear.

But I also know that God doesn't make mistakes.  He makes us in His image.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

And I believe the things that make my Zeke "special" are the things that God is going to use in the biggest way!  It is out of Zeke's control.  It is completely out of my control (no matter how hard I try to "fix" it).  Medication/vitamins/ diet can only go so far.

But God.

God is His loving Heavenly Father, with a bigger plan for my special boy than I will ever be able to imagine.

So believe that God can use the "special" parts.
Pray audaciously for God to make it beautiful.
And then ask Him to show you how to jump on board with His plan as you help guide your child through this rough terrain.

Today I am thankful that He makes beautiful things out of our weaknesses.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sorting Her Feelings And Softening My Heart

It has been 3 1/2 years since Alethia physically joined our family and Josh and I still get asked how Alethia has transitioned into the family.

Most days now I can hardly even remember life without her.

It is amazing how God just begins blending all of the past together.  Somehow I still have individual memories with each of my kids and even remember life without any kids at all, but at the same time have a hard time remembering what it was actually like without a single one of them!

So how HAS she adjusted?

She is such a typical part of the Colony that I don't even notice that there should still be some differences...until she gets upset (or angry, or offended, or mad, or upset, or sad) and refuses to answer my simple question; "what's the matter baby?" (which, embarrassingly enough, quickly turns into a stern, "Alethia Grace, use your words and tell me what is WRONG!").

This simple question literally sends her off the edge, which in turn sends ME off the edge and we are at a stale mate!

Often times I lose my patience and give up, not wanting to wait out her stubborn, unspeaking, emotional self.

But every once in a while the Lord graces me with more patience and compassion that I am capable of (a DAILY prayer of mine, actually) on my own and I wait.

I simple take my hand (that desperately wants to withhold its affection out of my own spite and stubbornness) and gently stroke her arm or leg while softening my voice (and heart) to repeat the innocent question.  I tell her that I'm not going anywhere until I can figure out how to reach her heart so we can figure out a solution to the problem.

Tonight ended up being a 15-20 minute wait as I repeated the same questions over and over and she sobbed through partial sentences that made no sense, until we finally reached the verdict for her highly emotional state and reassured her that she was NOT in trouble, but that I just needed her to use her words.

Somewhere there is a gap and it has GOT to be filled.  She is so full of emotion but unable to communicate those emotions with words.  So tonight, after I got the boys in bed, I took advantage of this time with just my Laithy.  Areyna is away at camp, which already leaves Alethia feeling lonely and sad, so I KNEW I needed to spend a few extra minutes with her.

We pulled out her white board and markers and I asked her to draw people with specific emotions.  Then we pin-pointed exact scenarios that bring on these feelings for her.  I was shocked that the very first thing that she communicated in her "mad/angry" category was "talking to mommy".  I didn't take offense because I knew exactly what she was talking about!

We spent the next 5 minutes in deep conversation as we walked through actual scenarios to help each other understand how we each felt and what the appropriate responses would be.

Alethia and I are far from having the perfect bond, but she is worth being patient with.  Our relationship is worth working on.  Her feeling safe is worth fighting for, even when I have to fight my own selfish tendencies.

Adoption isn't a bed of roses.
You have to dig deep to get to the root of issues that have been buried under years of abandonment, disappointment and feelings of neglect and instability.
You have to fight your own natural tendencies to withdraw when things get irritating or difficult.

But just like any relationship in life, it is a choice, and this relationship is forever going to be worth the fight.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In The Name Of Freedom

I literally feel like I could throw up right now.

My heart is racing.  My body physically hurts.  My head is spinning.

All because of this video:

Because individuals have taken life into their own hands.  They took the sanctity of human life and in the name of equality and RIGHTS made it ok to allow innocent babies to take the fall for the sin in this world (whether it was of their own doing or the doing of another sick human being), or simply because of an unwanted inconvenience.  By doing this we have certainly taken steps to give women a voice and a choice for their future and life but this certain "right" has been given with a sacrifice.  It is the sacrifice of life and blood given without a choice.

(And just as a side note, why is it that a murderer who kills a pregnant woman gets charged with two murders if the life inside isn't even considered a life in the first place?!)

So the line was crossed.  And America made it legal.

But we all know that it doesn't take long to obscure lines.
Now, instead of just spreading the lie that the little human is, in fact, not human at all, the ones preforming these acts for the "free" individual with the choice is using these tiny body parts to sell for profit.  Human body parts.  So they really are little humans.  Little lives...that have been sucked right out of existence...and now sold for profit.

There is a reason why God has given us the moral code that we are to live by.  God knows us and knows we need limits, because without limits we are left to our own demise.  And just look where it brings us.  Without limits the line can just keep moving and moving until there is no return for morality at all.

Josh and I have been thinking so much lately about our calling as believers.  How to love the sinner, not the sin.  When to speak and when to be silent.  How to show love to people who live differently than us but standing firm for our family and the truth.

It's a fine line for sure.

The more I dig into the word of God the more I see a Father who loved deeply and passionately, but NEVER passively!  He always pointed the sinner to the Savior and the truth.  He never accepted the sin or brushed it under the rug because it made the individual(s) happier human beings.  He ate with, lounged with, visited and hung out with the sinners, but he was never a passive bystander.  I never once read a story in the Bible where he went to a gathering of "sinners" where he didn't point out their behavior and point them to the Heavenly Father and command them to "sin no more" and to drop their lives (and lifestyles) to follow the only one who satisfies.

I'm not writing this to change anybody's mind or to challenge someone who doesn't even follow Christ.
I'm actually writing to my fellow followers of Jesus Christ.

If you call yourself a believer, how close to the line will you get before you have to move that line farther away from God's principals in order to co-exist with the world.  The world's obscure and moving lines.  It isn't going to take much time before you are backed into a corner and have nowhere else to go.  You will eventually HAVE to make the choice to join the world or cling to Grace.

Lord God, 
I beg you right now to give your people love and grace that extends beyond our capacity, and a bold authenticity to stand firm on your Word.  Help us to lead the way in confidence.  Allow us to wholeheartedly accept other sinners while lovingly pointing them to the Truth.  Our world desperately needs you!

Thank you for your love and sacrifice,
just another sinner freed by Grace

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Saturday Morning Mashup

While I was with my mom a month or so ago Josh and the littles were in a car accident.  Everybody was fine, but the fact that Josh dialed my number at the exact same time the 2014 Mustang behind them plummeted into our bumper, causing the phone to be thrown to the floorboard, causing me to hear only scurrying around and a bunch of crying little Colony members as I nervously yelled from the other side of the phone for ANYONE to answer, was a little unnerving.

(I'm pretty sure that was a really long run-on sentence...which only confirms my belief that I am completely done with school...and the dozens of books that keep appearing on my doorstep are in fact my husbands, and NOT mine!)

Back to the accident...
there really was a reason in me telling you that story.

We finally had our appointment to take the car in to get fixed but the damage is much for extensive that the insurance company had originally thought.  Meaning that instead of us being out of a family car for 3 days has turned into about 2 weeks.  And our insurance doesn't have the option to rent a car, and the other man's insurance company has been a little difficult to work with.  Therefore, Jude and I have spent a lot of time at home.  But that's okay, because our lives needed to be unpacked and put back in order from the track-out events that occurred.

This morning I walked into the kitchen to a scared little chickie.  She has already gotten to the stage of jumping up onto the side of the box.  And as of this morning, hopping down onto the vast kitchen floor to see what this big world has to offer.  The only problem being (besides the obvious poop surprises that blend into the wood flooring), they never figure out how to get back into the box with their friends.

Rainy was invited to go see a movie with her friend last night.  My little bug is old enough to go to a movie theatre without us now.  That doesn't seem right...

Our garden has exploded!  I love that I can go out and get fresh lettuce EVERY DAY for yummy salads.  Our peppers are beginning to grow and the cucumbers are blossoming.  I am already making plans for a garden expansion for next year!

Zeke's little brain and body are utterly exhausted after his first week of school.  It's a good thing we don't have any plans this weekend, because the Colony attitudes have been less than stellar around here.

We are in the middle of ant and fly season here in Rolesville.  Like, you can stare at the window and see them putting their strategy together on how to get inside!  They are just WAITING for the opportunity to sneak into the home to annoy us the rest of the weekend...and with 5 Colony members in and out all day long they have PLENTY of opportunity.

I can't wait to tell you all about the family camp we attended, but that would take much more brain power to put into words and I have very important plans with my hammock and book (my books don't consist of systematic theology and leadership/discipleship training techniques though) today, so I have to get going.

Happy Saturday ya'll!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Still Making My Heart Stop

Josh and I know exactly when Zeke was conceived (Listen, Josh had been out of town to help Katrina victims and we missed each other okay?!)

We weren't planning on adding another child to our little family just yet, but 5-month old Rainy was ready to have someone to play with and God knew exactly what our family needed.

It was a bit intimidating having everyone in that delivery room, but the ongoing heart murmur had become just concerning enough that the OB felt the need to call in the team of pediatric doctors just to make sure our Zeke was going to be alright.

On top of that, this little boy decided that he was going to really make me fight for his entrance.  He was all tangled up in the umbilical cord and nothing was working to get him out.  The OR room was being prepped for a C-section...and then FINALLY he decided that it was going to be okay.

He just had to be good and ready for what this world was about to hand him.

The moment this little boy entered the world the scurry began.  The team of pediatric doctors whisked him away to make sure his abnormal heartbeat was not going to affect him long term.

They came back with a thumbs up and a healthy little boy.

Now that little boy is not so little anymore.

He turned 9 years old on Monday.

When I see Zeke I can't help but get excited about him growing up.
Not because he completely and utterly exhausts me (well, um, occasionally he gives me a hard time) or because I'm ready for him to be out of the house (it is much more calm and quiet when he is out:), but because I KNOW that God's hand is on his life and I can hardly wait to see what He has in store for this little prophet of ours.

This sinful world has stacked up several things against this boy of ours, but he isn't just passively getting by.  He still has to be good and ready for the fight, but as soon as he feels prepared he will fight to the death.


I love that you are MY son!  You make me a better mom, even if you are still making my heart stop with your daredevil stunts, ha!  I can't believe you are nine!  Keep fighting the good fight and speaking truth to everyone around you!  Happy Birthday!

P.S. thanks for the kiss last night.  I know you don't like germs but it was the sweetest thing ever that you willingly fought that and loved on your mama:)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Words Worth Remembering

Jude:"Hey! My Jellow-fish is gone!"
translation:Hey, my cherry pie is gone!


Me:"Jude, what's on your tummy?"
Jude:"It's a baskettie bike."
Me:"A what?"
Jude:"A baskettie bike."
Me:"You mean a mosquito bite?"


Cai:"Mom, what's 'drama'?"
Me:"Well, it's when..."
Cai:"Girls have drama."
Me:"Well, yeah, but boys do too.  And adults and kids can too."
Cai:"And dogs?"


Jude:"Mom, I'm just a little sad."
Me:"Awe, why are you sad buddy?"
Jude:"I just am.  I just have little tear in my eye."


Cai:"Did olden people really live in log cabins."
Cai:"But some of the olden peoples lived in brick homes too?"
Me:"Yes, after a while."
Cai:"Was it really black?"
Me:"Was what really black?"
Cai:"In olden peoples lives."
Me:"No, life was regular.  Just movies were in black and white because they hadn't learned to put color in cameras yet."


Jude:"Can I poopie on pinecones?"


Jude trying to say "chapstick"
 - chapchip
 - chackchip
 - chapchick
 - "uh!  I can't say it!"


Zeke:"Dad, isn't Rainy too big for lipgloss?"


Jude:"Mom, I ate my donut all."

Wipekins = napkins in Jude-ese

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The End Has Passed, The Beginning Has Now Begun

Yes, we have had quite a crazy past couple of weeks.  I have a lot to write about but not so much time to capture my thoughts with precise words, but I'll try to begin with today and recap a few highlights later this week.

Track out came to a close late last night when the last little Colony member finally gave up and went to sleep at nearly 10pm last night.  (Jude gives a whole new meaning to persistent!)

It's funny to see how differently the kids have reacted to going back to school.

Areyna broke down crying 3 times yesterday just thinking about beginning 5th grade.  It's the stigma.  FIFTH just sounds so much more intimidating and scary.

Zeke was so antsy.  Only nervous because it was the first day, but not his normal dread and fear that usually overtakes him.  That's progress!  He finally gets to move "up stairs" to second grade this year!  We are SO proud of his progress last year and if we didn't have confirmation enough that we made the right decision to hold him back last year...

His teachers literally cried when they saw this progress!
Alethia was super excited to see her friend Madison and go to school.  There was no hesitation from this girl to tackle another year!

Cai wasn't looking forward to school, but as soon as we got to his class to drop him off and he saw his friend, Jordan, he refused to come back for a goodbye hug from us, ha!

Jude walked the halls with his little book bag on wondering which class would be the lucky one to have him:(  Poor guy is gonna be stuck with mama for another year.

There were no tears at all this morning, except when Cai was scouring the house for his infamous green jacket and long sleeved shirts, ha!

Jude helped me get started on the grass mowing but eventually came on inside and made himself lunch.  It consisted of a nectarine, blueberry coconut yogurt and my mom's homemade hot chocolate mix (in a bowl of course).  Hey, it was mostly nutritious AND I didn't have to fix it or clean it up (he's pretty good about putting his dishes in the sink)...that's considered a WIN in my book!

Now we are sitting here anxiously awaiting the return of "the kids", as Jude refers to the other Colony members in bulk, to see how their first day was.