Saturday, December 31, 2016

Less Is More In 2017

We all know that the day dawning a new year isn't any different than the other 364 days of the year.  But there is just SOMEthing about this day.

We all feel it.
And nobody is exempt from what happens next.

We all say goodbye to the past year and anticipate what is just around the corner.
We are all hoping and praying that what comes ahead will be better than what lay behind.

Even if it was a great year, it's exciting to look forward to the possibilities wrapped up in a new one.

Some have had really difficult years and have been fighting for the finish line, grasping for the fresh air that is hopefully just around the corner.

We all dig deep trying to figure out how we can be better than before.

Over years past I have focused my year on healthy habits, both spiritually and physically. I have worked on building better, STRONGER relationships.  And just plain being a better mom, Christ follower, wife, sister, friend, daughter...

...but always praying that the Holy Spirit will help me keep my focus on the Heavenly Father.

Last year's focus was to be present.  My mantra was Jim Elliot's quote, "Wherever you are, be all there."

This year, though, all I can wrap my mind around is MORE.

More of Him.

That's it.

Because more of Him will mean less of me.
And Lord knows we all need less of my personal opinions and injustices, my tendency to make decisions based on my fickle emotions, and my predisposition for critical thinking.

More of Him will mean acting in His love and patience.
More of Him will mean more obedience from me, whether that is in daily conversations about His goodness and soul-saving grace, embracing His interruptions in my schedule, or walking in faith not fear.

No more overthinking, just overflow.
My identity placed solely in His hands.

Everything else I strive to be better at, or do harder, pales in comparison to Him and what He wants to do in and through me.

This New Year's Resolution:
"He must become greater, I must become less."
John 3:30

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Prayer Closet

This place used to be a place of defeat.

For whatever reason Satan would wreak havoc as soon as I'd step foot in the shower.  Maybe because my mind didn't have to think much while I was getting clean, so why NOT bombard me with lies in an attempt to sabotage my day.

The lies that would swirl around in my head, the previous conversations that would play over and over until untruths became absolutes, and past hurts that would become present hurts all over again...

I remember, on numerous occasions, flying through my shower routine in order to get out of there as quickly as I could, to stop the voices that were echoing so loudly within those enclosed walls.  I would feel absolutely exhausted and sometimes near panic by the time I stepped back out onto the tiles of the cold bathroom floor.

Sunday mornings were the worst.  Waking up so early to get to band run-through meant that my brain, during my morning showers, was still waking up and foggy.  Truth seemed to still be sleeping while the lies poured on thick, making it nearly impossible to prepare spiritually for the job ahead.

But somewhere over the years this very scary place has transformed into a place of solitude.  And it's certainly not because I don't have kids in and out using the bathroom or brushing their teeth or asking to get a snack (this Colony NEVER ceases to be hungry!).

But now, when I step into the shower other people come to mind.

Those with struggling marriages, the one searching and searching for a job, the relational conflict of another, the ones fighting for contentment.  My squad girls whose lives run deep through my veins, my parents, in-laws and siblings, my own husband and kids.  Those people who I utter those precious words, "I'll be praying for you".

I may not have a ton of quiet in my life, but this space and the mundane activities that happen within (although I have been known to accidentally wash my hair with face wash a time or two), allow for some very sweet time where I don't have to do anything but fight for others God has placed in my life with the very real weapon of prayer.

Now when Satan thinks he can play with my mind when I jump in the shower I simply ask God to bring to mind those that I need to be praying for.

Your prayer closet doesn't have to be an elaborate haven.  I have friends who have told me they have been praying for me while mowing their grass (Which can take HOURS for some people.  Just ask my dad, ha!).  We have another family friend who traces alphabet letters with his GPS while jogging, praying for people whose names begin with that letter.  Another one of my friends uses the time at her kitchen sink to call out to the One who promises to hear his children.  Maybe it's the drivers seat in your car, or your teacher's desk between classes.

God doesn't care WHERE we pray, so get creative and find a place to do battle, even if the only place you can think of is in the shower.

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, 
that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, 
and having done all, to stand firm. 
14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, 
and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 
15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness 
given by the gospel of peace. 
16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, 
with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, 
which is the word of God, 
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 
To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Ephesians 6:13-18

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Words Worth Remembering

Jude:"Zeke, can you read me my quiet time again?"

Jude:"But WHYYYY do I have to go to bed right now?"
Me:"Because you are SO tired."
Jude:"I'm NOT tired. I'm GRUMPY!"


Cai:"Mom, you're passing the wall."
translation - You're crossing the line


Jude:"Hmmmm, I like the chicken that is in that tuna!"


Me:"Come on, let's do school outside today!"
Rainy:"No, not math. It is too pretty outside, but math deserves a dark place."


Jude:"It's called a comperstation. That's what talking is."


Zeke:"Mom, can I show you these?"
Me:"Sure, what is it?"
Zeke:"It's what I drew last night and wanted to show you but daddy said that you were a little cranky."


Jude:"Who said that? Not me. It was the other dimension Jude...Good joke huh!"


Cai:"Mom, who's in the car?"
Me:"Zeke, Rainy and Laithy."
Cai:"What did you say? What about money did you say?"
Me:"I didn't say ANYthing about money.  I said Zeke and Rainy and Alethia are in the car."
Jude:"What about cheese?"


Jude:"You wanna see my ball?  It's a Duke ball."
Poppie:"Is it a basketball?"
Jude:"No.  It's just a duke ball.  But it's called a basketball sometimes too."


Jude:"I just gotta get a little taller so I can get into third grade."


Cai:"Ooooh, Jude, what happened to your foot?!"
Jude:"It's OK, it's just eczemO."


Jude:"You know what I like most about today? Hugging you."


Josh:"The smell of a musty old books brings me to a happy place."


Jude:"Mom, can we get some parrots?"
translation - pears


Zeke:"Jude, you have to go take your shirt off cuz you're the drummer."


Cai:"I like how this lip chap tastes."
translation - chapstick


Jude:"Oh man, I'm so steaming cold out here!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Story In Pictures - 4th Annual CCGDCAWKSBBE

4nd annual
Girls vs. Boys
Colony (+ friends) (not this year) -Christmas-Gingerbread(house)man-Decorating-Create-A-Wonderland-Kick-Some-Butt-Bottom- EXTRAVAGANZA!

With well over 100 votes from friends and family like YOU


First place - ColonyMOM #2
Second Place - Rainy #5
Third - Cai #7
Next best - Colony DAD #1
Next best - Jude #6
Next best Ending Tie - Zeke #3 and Alethia #4

The competition is getting stronger each year and the the numbers were surprisingly close!
Thank you to everyone who participated this year!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

theColonyShop Is Going To The OTMS

I have the opportunity to add some of my items from theColonyShop to my friend's booth at the Wake Forest "Old Town Market Shops" venue THIS SATURDAY!  So this week I've been working on some new pieces to sell and see how we do.

I am so excited to see the other 30+ vendors and all the products that are going to be available as well as get my first taste as a vendor.

Come on out and get some of your Christmas shopping done and support some local artisans!

11900 Louisburg Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
Open 10am-3pm

You can find them on Facebook too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

These Are Strange Times We Are Living In

If you came here looking for election and voting propaganda and information you have come to the wrong place. Our ballots are in and now we wait.  But here in the Colony household we are not holding our breath in fear because whatever happens is not going to come as a surprise to the Ruler of all creation.  God is the only one who holds my wholehearted allegiance and who is the ultimate winner.

Everyone else in the world can talk about the crazy going on today, but I am choosing to lend a hand in distraction as we await the final count.

So let me turn your attention to these:

When I looked at Josh a few days ago and asked him if I could go shoe shopping, he almost fell over laughing.

See, I have 2 kinds of shoes I wear; flip flops and nicer flip flops.  I also have a couple pairs of boots for when my frozen toes need to warm up in the winter, but for real, all I ever wear are flip flops.

Add that information to the fact that I never go shopping, in fact I HATE going shopping, and you have a pretty good reason to fall over laughing.

But a couple of weeks ago we had some friends invite us to a Black Tie Benefit Dinner with them.  Typically the words "Black Tie" and "Colony Parents" wouldn't ever be seen together, but THIS FRIDAY we are going on a double date in style!  And unfortunately my riding boots and beach flip flops just aren't going to cut it this time, ha!

So I called up one of my faithful friends for moral support, and guidance as I searched for the perfect shoes.  There were a few prerequisites to the pair I would purchase, though.  They had to be under $20 (I know, I'm so cheap, lol) and they can't be super pointy and shiny (go ahead and laugh...we did the ENTIRE time we shopped!).

As we jumped out of the car to go in the first store a text from Josh came through that read:

"Do you think you could find a set of cheap cufflinks
and four button buds for my tuxedo?"

And my reply:
"Who in the world ARE WE?! 
Texting about shoe shopping and button buds for a tuxedo?!"

First of all, the fact that Josh asked around and actually found a Tuxedo that fit him was pretty crazy.  Second, I don't even know what a "button bud" IS, much less, where to find one/them.

My friend had to keep me focused and away from the typical Cons or clearance flip flops I naturally gravitate toward, but she finally found this pair that I could live with, and I think my feet will cooperate enough in them to get me to where I need to go:).  The toes aren't too pointy, it has a strap that makes me feel a bit more stable AND they were only $15, thank you very much!

So, go ahead and use the mental images of me tripping walking around in for-real high heels as a distraction every time you begin fearing the outcome of today.  It'll bring a good laugh and help you remember that we live in crazy, strange times, but not so crazy that you can't find HIS Joy in the midst of it all.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Friday Five - Five Reasons To Stay Up Late This Saturday Night

5 Reasons Why YOU Need To Stay Up Late This Saturday Night

1 - We will all be turning our clocks back, so you really get an extra hour of LIFE!

2 - It's way more fun to have a date night that begins after your bed time typically begins (Right?! Or maybe I'm just old, ha!).

3 - And what could make a late-night date-night even BETTER than when it includes LIVE MUSIC and GREAT FOOD!

4 - There will be LIVE MUSIC at the GATEHOUSE TAVERN in WAKE FOREST this Saturday night from 9-12.

5 - This particular night of live music will be brought to you by none other than Josh Via and his buddy Tad (and the occasional appearance of Your's Truly).

Come on out to:
This Saturday 
November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Time To Enforce The Rules

Zee only pretended to cry after I made him pose with his pile for a quick photo.
I have a mom friend who takes $.05 from each child for every article of clothing she has to turn right side out for the washing machine.  Now THAT is a smart mama!  She had a frustration and she put a plan into place to eliminate the frustration.  That idea got me thinking...I have already simplified my laundry system so I don't necessarily have that frustration, but "what if" I had children (5 of them to be exact) who were having a difficult time remembering to put their clothes away.

Hypothetically, of course.

And "what if" this particular non-act put me in such a grumpy mood that things were said that probably shouldn't be said, at a level and tone of voice that probably shouldn't be allowed.

Like I said, completely hypothetical.

It would do our whole family some good if I followed my friend's example and put a plan in place to eliminate the lazy behavior and the frustration it brought.

So here is my not-so-hypothetical plan to get the kids to put their clothes away.

For each article of clothing (costumes, socks, shoes, jackets, pants, undies...) that I find on the floor I get $.05 for whomever it belongs to.

I shared the plan with the kids but initially still had lots of grace and leniency, which wasn't really helping anyone.

Until one day, I walked in the boys room and I could hardly see the floor!

Enough was enough.

Today the rule would be implemented.
Tears were going to flow but lessons were going to be learned.

I piled everything up in the middle of the room and left it there until the boys got back home from school.

After we settled down after school I called all three of the boys into their bedroom and had them sit next to each other facing me and the pile.

They had no idea what was about to happen.

I started holding up pieces from the pile, one at a time, and asked whose it belonged to.  This divided the massive pile up into one pile for each boy.  Cai looked nervous, Jude just looked interested in what was going on, and Zeke, well, most of the pile was his so he just kept laughing and laughing, kind of nervous but it was as if he had already resolved to accept whatever consequences were coming his way (which is HUGE for this particular boy, BTW).

We then made a mini math lesson out of it by counting each pile's pieces by 5's.

We only had to get up to 15 for Jude.  Cai had 35 and Zeke had a whopping 85, ha!

I then reminded them of our rule and that that day we were going to be taking away $.15 from Jude, $.35 from Cai and $.85 from Zeke.

Jude didn't skip a beat as we counted out his money.
You would have thought I made Cai hand over all his toys and told him that we weren't celebrating Christmas with him, ha!
Zeke just took it like a man, respectfully laughing through the lesson at his misfortune, owning up to the consequences he clearly knew he needed (again, SUCH a huge thing for him!).

Sometimes I find it hard to follow through on things like this, but I wasn't helping anybody by enabling them to continue on in their sloppiness.  And my attitude wasn't benefiting anyone either (just ask my kids).

But now, wouldn't you know I walk into a clean bedroom every morning after dropping the kids off at school.  And one quick reference to a sock in the driveway or a spiderman mask has them scurrying off to put it away before I can even finish my reminder!

This time, it's a WIN for everyone!

Here's to many more WINS, a lot less mom freak-outs and being able to glean wisdom from other wise moms that God has allowed me to be surrounded by.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Five Things On Friday

I have my lovely assistant Areyna here and she is going to indulge us with 5 activities that are way better than school.

1 - I would rather paint my nails than sit here all day doing school.

2 - I would rather practice for FX (family worship night) tonight than sit here all day doing school.

3 - I would rather read in my bed than sit here all day doing school.

4 - I would rather draw at my desk than sit here all day doing school.

5 - I would SO MUCH rather hang out in my room listening to music than sit here all day doing school.

There you have it folks.
Straight from the tweens mouth.
It's a good thing school is now done for the week and she can get busy on all of these other awesome things that are so much better than sitting here all day doing school;)

Happy Friday ya'll!
See you at FX tonight at 7PM!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Triple Bunk Bed DIY (Link With Plans)

Josh and I had 3 days without kids to accomplish the task of making a triple bunk bed for the boys.

We also happened to have Journey rehearsal, open mic date night, rehearsal dinner, wedding and a gig to play together during those 3 days so we needed to do it right because first of all, we were actually purchasing lumber (when we usually just pull things together from scraps in the shed to create something) and secondly, we wanted to be done with the beds before the kids came home.

So we came home and worked on finding the perfect plans, which turned out to be way more difficult that we had anticipated.  I had an idea of what I wanted and some pictures I found to match it, but because we didn't want to have to run to Lowe's every hour and a half to get pieces and hardware we forgot, or didn't know we needed, we wanted to find plans.  I also knew I wanted the triple bunk bed to be stacked and not angled in different directions (because the purpose of making the beds was to give the 3 boys more room to play in their room), and those were the ONLY plans I was coming across

Until we found THESE PLANS and decided that we could make them work.  We were originally trying to find FREE plans but quickly realized that $9.95 wasn't too shabby for someone else's step-by-step idea on how to put them together.  I did't like all the busyness of the layout so we adapted it to make it look a little more simple.

Josh put together all of the measurements and a list of things we needed while I scoured the internet for coupons and deals.

Then we took our date over to Lowe's and shopped for lumber and hardware, because that's a super sexy thing to do on a hot date. (Really, I LOVE this kind of stuff!)

The next morning I played a gig with Josh but you better believe I got sanding as soon as I unpacked my gear.  I sanded for 5 hours straight until I had to pack back up and head to Journey for rehearsal.  I finished sanding as soon as rehearsal was over.

The next morning I began painting, which took the entire morning, afternoon, and all the way up until we had to get ready for a rehearsal dinner we were playing for.

Saturday was pretty much a blur of sawdust, drying boards and piecing together this massive bed.

We got a pretty good system down.  Josh would measure out where the holes needed to go, I would drill holes and then he would have them ready to fit together.  The kids would be home later that night and we still had some finishing touches to complete (like painting the boards that hold their mattresses) but in between showers and getting ready for the wedding we raced around cleaning up the house, finishing up last minute touches and making sure the beds were made.

You can see the two boards in the middle level we had to add for support.
We will eventually add 1 more on either end of each level.

So, I would say these plans were GREAT! And we love the finished product, but there was one oversight...the boards needed some extra support so Josh toenailed in a couple of boards for each layer and it works great.  I also think we would have given the bottom and middle levels an extra 1" but we were already second-guessing a triple bunk with our 8' ceilings.  Josh and I can fit on every level AND I'm pretty sure it can withstand any natural disaster that comes our way, ha!

We spent right at $200 out of pocket for the entire bed (plans included).

A secret window for Cai to climb in

We are going to use Jude's toddler bed mattress as long as we can, but he doesn't mind because
he gets an extra playing area on his level:)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

There's A New Chef In The Kitchen least one night a week!

Areyna has always loved being in the kitchen.  She began baking with her Daddy when she was tiny and can now concoct her own goodies all on her own.  But lately she has been begging me to make dinner.  Not just HELP with dinner, but actually do the whole process.

So now, once a week, she has the task of planning, creating the grocery list (and making sure I have it before we go out and do our weekly shopping trip), and cooking dinner for the Colony.  And with seven different taste palates, this is no small task.

She prefers cookbooks over online menus and recipes, which I completely understand.  After finding the perfect main dish and side we go through the list of ingredients together to make sure that we get/have everything.

While making my weekly menu I make sure we have a night that isn't too rushed and where we will all be together for dinner.

Last night she chose Crockpot Roast (her Daddy's favorite!) and we had a side of rice (because the other "secret" side that she chose takes 5-7 days to we'll save that one for next week).

Rainy's Roast was BY FAR one of the tastiest roasts I have ever eaten, and I'm not just saying that!  It was definitely better than any I have ever made.  This meal was a great boost for her self-esteem and motivator to keep going with her passion in the kitchen.

She even recruits help to get dinner cleared off the table and cleaned up because it's my night off!

And of course a dessert is required when Rainy is chef for the night so she made Snickerdoodles and we roasted Marshmallows to go inside...YUM!

Since we rarely ever eat out this one night a week off in the kitchen for me is a welcomed bonus to our homeschooling.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Simplifying Life and Letting Go Of Perfection, One Load Of Laundry At A Time

This is just part of my project for today.
We have a lot of bodies to cover in this house.

Which means we have a lot of laundry that goes through our washing machine.

But if there is anything I have learned about being a mom, it is that I canNOT do everything.  I can't. And I'm learning to be just fine with that.  Really.  Truly.  Honestly.

One of the things that I have let go of is the laundry process.

I actually do pretty well keeping up with laundry (we try to keep  minimal amounts of clothing for each child so this helps cut down on the amount of laundry.  This tip is FREE.  You're welcome!)

I should also mention that I don't presort my laundry before washing...but don't tell my mom that part.  I know, I know, I'm breaking the #1 rule of laundering clothes.  But I just can't keep laundry going for so many people if I'm constantly trying to make full loads of different kinds or colors.

The part that always gets me is the folding and putting away.  We will have a growing mound of clean laundry piled up in our bedroom for days sometimes, before I get around to finishing the laundry process.

But I wanted to share a secret that has helped tremendously!

I stopped folding the laundry and putting it away.

Yup.  It's true.

Well, at least my kids clothes.

Now, instead of meticulously folding and putting clothes away (that are inevitably going to get all messed up in the next search for the favorite pants that were intentionally placed in the back of the drawer...ahem) I simply go through these next age-appropriate steps.

  1. While Sorting the laundry - If I come across something that is Josh's or mine I immediately fold it.  BAM!  Done.  Then I have a girls pile, a boys pile and a Jude pile.  Towels and dish cloths are also folded right away.
  2. The girls are old enough to turn their clothes right side out on their own.  So after their clothes are piled up together I go drop them off in their room and they put them away as they see fit, into their own drawers and closets.  I do still match their socks (because I'm a nice mommy;).
  3. The older boys just transitioned over to this stage.  Previously I was turning their clothes right side out for them before placing them into their pile.  Then I go drop their pile off in their room for them to place in their drawers and closets as they see fit. I definitely match their socks as well (because poor boys have a hard enough time even getting said socks into the laundry in the first place).  I also put their undies and socks in their bins (since I'm an extra nice mommy to them, ha!)
  4. Jude has just transitioned up a stage as well.  I used to turn his clothes right side out and then fold them.  I would make a stack of shirts, a stack of jammies and a stack of pants.  Then he could put them in his own bins.  NOW, though, I just turn his clothes right side out and pile them up for him to place in the appropriate bins as he sees fit.  He shares undies and socks with Cai so he doesn't have to worry about putting those away (because like I said, I am an extra nice mommy and I love my boys more, lol.  Just kidding, Rainy is reading this over my shoulder so I just needed to see her smile:).
  5. Then all that's left is to put Josh's clothes away, my clothes away and the towels and dish cloths away. (and sometimes I'm not feeling like a nice mommy any more and ask a kid or two to do that step as well, hehe)
And because we all like a nice word diagram to help solidify a new process here you go:

Sort (into piles) --- Drop (in their rooms) --- Let Go (of your laundry control)

You might be surprised at the ones who actually decide to "fold" vs. "stuff".  Plus it frees up extra time in your day/life for other things (like playing Settlers of Catan or Dutch Blitz...because those are very important things to make time for).

We, as mama's, can get so uptight about things around the house.  Find some little steps you can do, like this, that can aid in letting go of some of those perfectionist tendencies.  It'll bring such freedom.  I promise!

***2018 UPDATE ~ Each of the kids are now at the stage where I simply sort their clean clothes, socks and all, into a pile (a boys pile and a girls pile) and they are in charge of all the rest! We don't do enough laundry, nor do the kids have enough clothes, to justify making full loads of just one person's clothing. So I do a couple of loads every other day or so and it keeps everybody going just fine.***

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Recipe: Sprouted Grain Bread Dough / Pizza Dough

I added melted butter and granulated garlic on top of my breadsticks last night.
There were so many people interested in our new bread that we made so I thought I'd share the recipe...which isn't MY recipe at all, but like most recipes, I adapted it to make it our own.  The following recipe is my modified Bob's Red Mill Buttermilk Rolls

Sprouted Grain Buttermilk Bread / Pizza Dough
(we leave out the Tbsp of sugar they call for because we try to eliminate sugar when we can)
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
3 Tbsp melted Butter

Preheat oven to 200 F
Combine yeast, (sugar), and water and allow to proof for 10-15 min.
Add 2 cups flour and mix.
Then add salt, buttermilk powder and butter.
Add remaining flour 1 cup at a time until dough becomes difficult to stir.
Tip dough out onto a floured surface to knead in the remaining flour.
Turn oven off.
Continue to knead for about 7 min.
Place in an oiled bowl and turn dough to coat.
Cover and place in warm oven for 1-2 hours and allow to rise until doubled in size.

At this point you can divide the dough into two loafs of bread.


Divide onto two pizza pans to create two pizza doughs.
After spreading out the dough on the pans we like to coat with Olive oil and sprinkle with fresh Rosemary, garlic powder and onion powder.


Divide into gently rolled balls  or bread sticks and place in oiled pan for dinner rolls.

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes.

***dough can be refrigerated for several days after rising***

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Moving Over To The Slow Lane

The moment I saw Jim Elliot's quote, "Wherever you are be all there", it grabbed me.

I was tired of being distracted by to-do lists, technology, rushing frantically from one thing to the next (and sometimes even for no other reason than to just be in a rush), intrusive thoughts...

I was tired of being present but not really BEING ALL THERE.

I began asking God to reveal the things in my life that I could let go of.  Because I knew that in order to create the space we all need for REAL relationships (OFF screen) and eternal conversations, I would have to make it part of my lifestyle.

All of this reading and soul-searching has led to the Holy Spirit calling me out.
Telling me things like:
Slow down.
Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions (to yourself, to others and even to God).
Dig deeper. Don't be satisfied in what you already know.
To REALLY figure out what living a life on mission looks like for me, because I firmly believe that God created each one of us with beautiful differences that work together to reach the world for Christ, and the way I love on others and share His wonderful story is going to look different than the way you do.  And that's ok.  That's the BEAUTY of it! It's the Body of Christ working TOGETHER for the Kingdom!

At times I have been in tears, looking into the ugly that is my heart.
Then sifting through the ugly to lay it down and let it go.
Those are the most difficult times.
When I can't excuse my behavior away.
Its pride. Its selfishness. Its jealousy. Its fear.
And this kind of ugly keeps me focused on myself instead of seeing others for who THEY are.

Other times God simply gives me gentle reminders to turn my phone over (or even off) so my family can have my complete attention.
Or to take the time to really listen to a person sharing something with me.
Or that life will keep going, even if I don't rush my kids from one thing to the next or say yes to every activity invitation.
Or that taking my tween up on the date she wants to take me on with her Starbucks gift card is the most important thing, even if I had other plans for my morning.
Or to spend an afternoon following through on an idea the LORD gave me in order to share His love with someone else.

Through it all I have noticed a common's not about me, it's about others.  It's about slowing down in order to see the world around me.

Have you ever stopped to realize that in order to help somebody on the side of the road you have to move over and slow down?

So what if I were to live a life actually LOOKING for people to help?  I can't just zoom in and out of traffic and expect to safely be able to slow down in time to help that person without causing a possible pile up behind me.  I might even accidentally hurt the person I initially stopped to help.  And I can't honestly expect people who need help to just appear in my car.   If I am going to view my day with eternal perspective I am going to have to drive my life in the slow (intentional) lane, looking and waiting for those interruptions and constantly fight the natural tendency to get irritated by the zooming traffic around me or even the urge to speed around the slow people in front of me.

And what I have found is a freedom, joy and fulfillment that I have never felt from trying to accomplish days just to be productive, no matter how many things I check off of my to-do-list, or activities I can accomplish by rushing around just to fit one more thing in, or how put-together my life can appear on social media because that is where I spend the majority of my time.  Because I've realized that none of that matters, without the Joy of the LORD guiding me and slowing me down for the next stop in the slow lane.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Beginning To Believe The Lie

Yesterday the kids and I walked into our Chiropractor's office, just like we have on every Tuesday for the past 5-6 years.

As we checked ourselves in and the kids began creating Yoga routines in the middle of the waiting area floor, arguing over crayons and rolling around on the furniture got situated in the waiting area a lady was saying her goodbye's to Dr. Joe and began noticing the string of children filing in behind me.

Now you can just imagine the comments I typically get:

    Wow, you've got your hands full!
    Oh goodness, I'm SO sorry!
    Just wait until they're teenagers!
    Are all those YOURS?!
    Oh, poor mama...

It's so much more than the words though.  It's the voice used when saying these things to me.  Each spoken in a very exasperated or negative tone.

Then there are the looks of pity and even DISGUST that I receive while out about with my spicy little colony.

But, back to the lady checking out in Dr. Joe's office.  She looked almost overjoyed as she began eyeing all the littles filing in behind me.  She excitedly asked if they were all mine and then quickly smiled, clapped and said, "Oh WONDERFUL! That is just so fun!"  She wanted to know all of their ages and what book Alethia was reading.  She smiled the ENTIRE time she spoke to the kids (not to me ABOUT the kids). She was so kind and sweet and positive.

I was so blown away by her response, because BELIEVE ME,  I know we've got a spicy bunch!  But that kind lady and her response to our family was just what I needed to jump back in the game.  Josh has been gone since last Thursday night and the first few days when daddy is away the kids always test the waters.  And after hearing (or seeing) a handful of those first responses I typically get, I can begin believing those lies that infer that my kids are a burden, that I'm in over my head and that God didn't know what he was doing when he entrusted 5 of HIS children to us for this time.

So, thank you, sweet, kind lady for making over my kids like they are a treasure...because they are!

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to ENJOY these 5 littles for as long as you'll give them to me.  Help me to see their worth and exemplify the Fruit Of The Spirit over them.  Thank you for the encouragement through this stranger yesterday.  Such a timely gift.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The ONLY "Secret Trick" To Surviving Through Your Season

I have been ruminating on a recurring thought lately.

Most of you know I deal with anxiety, and most of you know, whether you deal with anxiety or not, that there are several factors that can affect the outcome of a day for an anxious person.

  1. Food
  2. Sleep
  3. Exercise

But even if I do all the things I know I need to do to keep a clear mind and focus (get a good night's sleep, limit my caffeine, don't eat sugar or processed foods, and get a great workout in) , it isn't fool-proof.  I am still going to have days where I wake up at the top of my mental threshold and feeling as though the anxiety has already sucked all the air out of my lungs before my feet even hit the ground.

This is a daily battle for me.

There are other battles that wage war on my Joy and Peace as different seasons come and go.

Maybe for you it is dealing with your teenagers and the choices they are making.  Or maybe it is the kid(s) who will NOT stay in bed to save his life at bedtime (for the LOVE, STAY.IN.BED!).  Here's another one, maybe you are in a season where everything in your house keeps breaking (because we all know that appliances have a secret way of communicating when it's time to all go out together), or your savings and emergency fund are dwindling by the day, or you can't find a job, or your health is on the brink, or that guy you were dating turns out to be yet another loser.  Maybe life is just too crazy or the to-do list won't stop growing and life seems to be swallowing you whole.

"Don't worry," I confidently remind myself  my friends "it's just a season."  "You'll get to the other side, I promise."

With which we then go into our list of helps that may get our friend (or ourselves) through that season.

Two thoughts come to mind after catching myself repeat this phrase:

1 - What if God doesn't say "yes" to taking you out of this season?  What if The LORD has you in this spot for the rest of your life?  What then?

What if I struggle with anxiety for the rest of my entire life (which is potentially a pretty accurate conclusion, seeing as how I've dealt with it since I was 4 years old)?

2 - What exactly do we think is on the other side anyway?

Yes, we might have a brief season of rest, but that rest is only to fill us up again and prepare us for the next season.  There is ALWAYS going to be another season, even if God is gracious enough to lift us out of the previous one.

If we are just living to get through our current circumstances, believing that the other side is where all the joy and contentment are, then we are sorely misguided and will be extremely devastated when we realize that the stressors of life are exactly the same, just packaged differently in another season, on the other side.

We have neglected to see life through Eternity's eyes.

I am reading a book called Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman where she writes:

"But these temporary helps cannot compare to the hope that we receive from considering the real long view.  The real long view is actually longer than we think.  It wasn't at the end of the ark's voyage atop miles of water.  It wasn't at the end of Sarah's barrenness.  It wasn't at the end of the Hebrews' Egyptian slavery.  It was't at the end of the conquest of Canaan.  It wasn't at the dedication of the temple.  It wasn't at the beginning of the exile' return, temple construction, or wall restoration.  The long view is not at the end of this no-good, terrible day.  Or at the end of this magically brilliant day.  It's not at the end of five years or seventy-five years.  Or five hundred years.  The long view stretches past whatever earthly ideas we have into a vision of a new world, into eternity and the new earth.  Contrary to popular opinion, when we mothers take this long view, we actually become so heavenly minded that we are of immense earthly good today.  If we want to get technical, we should say that the real long view is not actually even heavenly minded - it's new-earthly minded. We're looking forward to the consummated new creation.  Being new-earthly minded corrects our Season Obsessive Disorder.  It corrects our nearsightedness and returns our vision to God's mission to glorify his name in all the earth."

I don't know about you, but I needed to read this today.  I needed to be reminded of the LONG VIEW.  Of the WHOLE STORY!

So often I get stuck trying to parent through my current "season" with the END of that season in mind rather than eternal perspective on my lips.

Only eternal perspective will give me the grace, patience and love that I need to parent well.  Only eternal perspective will give me the contentment in the NOW.  Only eternal perspective will give me the compassion, generosity and boldness I need to share.

By all means, DO the things in your power to help get you through your current season, but don't neglect to place eternity on the horizon.

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" 
 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mmmm: Sweet Potato and Chicken Sauté

I haven't written a "Minimalist Meals for Many Mouths" post in quite a while, but last night's dinnertime #win was worth a repeat and a blog post.

Josh and I are wrapping up a 41 day "diet" called The Makers Diet by Jordan Rubin. The book is a MUST READ and the diet is biblically based.  We may be almost done with the program, but we intend to keep this lifestyle going as our new norm.

I have been cooking based off of this diet and tweaking it to fit the kids needs (and pallets), but they are really beginning to enjoy the Romaine Lettuce Wraps (vs. rice) and Tuna (Chicken)/Avacado Salad (vs. bread and deli meat).

Many of the meals we have consumed over the past month and a half haven't been that far from what we normally eat, so don't think it's all that crazy!

Here is what we had last night:

Diced Sweet potatoes sautéed in grass fed cow's butter with a dash of salt and pepper.  Then I added some chicken that I had cooked the day before in fresh cut rosemary, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. (HERE is where I get our yummy spices)

Then I made some Okra sautéed in butter, salt and pepper.

Very filling, budget friendly for all family sizes and all the kids loved it (minus Rainy, but that's because she would live off of cheese, chicken and pretzels if I allowed it, ha!).

Friday, August 12, 2016

Words Worth Remembering

Jude:"Mom, what does commence mean?"


Me:"I loved that idea from Mr. Matt and Mrs. Magan so much we are going to start it here."
Rainy:"That's the thing about parents, they always build off of each other."


Jude:"Daddy, your day off is always the BEST day.  All the other days are NOT good."


Josh:"So after Adam was born who did God create next?"
Jude:"Justin Biever!"


Cai:"MOM, I just did 21 burp ups!"
(he meant "burpees")


Jude: "Look at that fruit fly.  It's trying to get fruit out of my toe!"


Josh:"yeah, we have a Hobby Lobby now.  I don't get what the big deal is."
Me:"Well, have you actually been inside?"
Josh:"Um, do they sell guitars or theology books?"


Ace Hardware = "Lowes Hardwars"


Cake Lady:"Alright, so what should I put on the cake?"
Me:"Happy Birthday Z-E-K-E."
Cake Lady:"Oh, well that is a TERRIBLE name!  Just awful!"
Cake Lady:"Haven't you heard of ZIKA virus?!"


Jude to Josh mowing the grass with his shirt off to get some sun:
"DAD, you're NAKED!!!  But it's good you have pants on."


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Taking Off The Floaty

Josh and Rainy at the intro night for student ministry at church
I have written and rewritten a half dozen posts over the past month but can't bring myself to complete a single one.  I feel like I'm so far behind on capturing our lives (the main reason I began blogging in the first place), but more so, I feel this new tension rising as my kids get older.

My life no longer consists of sharing tired ramblings after a long night with a fussy newborn, or reviews on the best spill-proof sippy cups.  My kids, minus Jude, pretty much speak like maturing little people with words flowing in the appropriate order (although, if I could get Cai to keep his two front teeth from growing in, we might be able to hang on to his cute little lisp for a little bit longer), and parenting is taking that deep dive from the shallow waters of physical exhaustion of the little years to the mental exhaustion of preteen and adolescent years.  I've still got my foot firmly planted in both, but the weight is increasingly leaning into the deeper side.

And because of that, I can no longer "just write" about my life as a mom and how I'm trying to learn how to thrive instead of just survive these little years.  The words that fill my journal these days are saturated by these little lives that are beginning to form their own identities and the trials they are facing as they grow up and learn to step out of fear and into the steady hand that promises to guide them.

And that isn't MY story to share.

It's hard for me to be vague.
I like to just say it how it is.
But I'm having to show great restraint in order to protect these little lives God has placed in mine, and respect their wishes for privacy.

My prayer is that they will learn to work out their faith, labor through their love and cling to the hope that gives endurance (1 Thessalonians 1:3), and those are things that I CAN write about.

I'm hoping I can figure out how to continue to be an encouragement to other moms in similar seasons but still keep my integrity as a trustworthy mom who doesn't share THEIR story unless I'm given the green light.

Here's to a new season of blogging, parenting and swimming in the deep end without a floaty.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Always, Without Ceasing, In ALL Circumstances

Yesterday began with a feeling of anxiety.  You know, one of those days where you wake up, maxed out to your tolerance threshold for no apparent reason (this is the difference between a physical anxiety problem and worry/anxiety over circumstances).  It was just one of those days where I KNEW I was going to have to fight hard to stay focused on truth.

Then circumstances started playing a part into my angst and the day quickly began to unravel.

I knew that it was going to be more than just an anxious day to fight through, because once actual "things" start playing into the anxiety you've got yourself a whole other battle to fight.

I was so caught up in the seemingly hopeless situation(s) that I froze.
Well, everything froze but my mouth.
The poison just kept seeping out between the creases of my lips, leaving a wake of uneasiness around the entire house.

My anxiety quickly turned into anger, frustration, touchiness, and before I knew it, I was in the middle of a good ol' fashioned pity party, salted with anxiety and peppered with hopelessness and anything BUT joy.

I'm sure the Colony children could quickly begin to list off EVERY area that this affected yesterday. Let's just say that it wasn't pretty, and I will NOT be getting any "awesome mom" awards for the way I acted.

To top it all off, the kids were at each other.  Or maybe they were just being crazy and wild kids.
It didn't matter.
I was NOT having it and they needed to calm down.
I deserved a peaceful, quiet moment to gather my thoughts and regain control...
didn't I?

But being stressed out or anxious never excuses a sinful reaction, and this is the area I got stuck on.

I apologized more times than I can count, but the sin inside of me kept reclaiming ground.

Yes, yesterday was more than just a battle over my everyday anxiety that I deal with.  THAT cannot be helped.

But the way I respond to news like I heard yesterday, and the exhaustion from a busy weekend, and noisy kids playing around and having fun...THAT is a choice.

This morning I woke up to  have my time with the Lord and EVERY. THING. I read had to do with choosing JOY.  Giving THANKS.  Making WISE CHOICES.

NONE of which I accomplished yesterday!

I focused on everything else: the house that is literally falling apart beneath us, the volume of my kids (I'm pretty sure their decibel level clears the illegal threshold is some states!), the physical exhaustion from being busy (and sick) over the weekend, and all the other stuff that kept "going wrong".

When I should have just kept my eyes on Christ.
Because He is the hope.
He is the provider.
He is the interrupter of my perfectly laid out plans.
He is the author.
He is the one who gives JOY in the midst of seemingly rough unHAPPY news.

And He doesn't just ASK us to "rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in ALL circumstances".  1 Thessalonians says, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

This focus on HIM isn't just for God's glory but for US!  It brings us the JOY in the midst of bad health, or thousands of dollars worth of house repairs, or lost jobs, or dwindling accounts, or struggling relationships, or broken promises, or overly-lively children;).

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

I'm claiming this today and I'm starting with thankfulness for HIS grace and HIS love and HIS patience for me, even when I get off track like I did yesterday.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Colony Mom Picks ~ Workout Faves

My parents used to call me "gnat" because I was so fast and would literally RUN everywhere!

I ran "track" in elementary school and really enjoyed it.

I tried my hand at basketball, but never really got the hang of it, because, well I could never remember which basket was my team's basket and then I found out that you can't technically be referred to as a basketball star with only 1 3-pointer under your belt in 2 years (and yes THAT basket was in MY own basket, ha!).

Then I found soccer.
Well actually, I found I guy I liked who was trying out for the soccer team in high school and he lived down the street from me and if I tried out for the girls team I could give him a ride home.  Yes, I was THAT girl!

Somehow I made the High School Varsity team as a freshman.
And the team was REALLY competitive and good.
Although I was NOT.

But I had speed in my favor, and the fact that I liked a good battle scar from slide tackles and snatching the ball away from the other team gave me a huge rush!

I moved my way up through the ranks on the team and actually got pretty good as my excellent teammates (and coach) rubbed off on me and I picked up on their techniques.

I even got a soccer scholarship which helped put me through college.
After college I played on a couple co-ed adult leagues until I found out I was pregnant with Rainy.

Josh and I also cultivated our young relationship through the hills and trails of Greenville, SC.  There is something to be said about a couple who can workout and sweat together.

All that to say, exercise and staying active have always been a pretty big part of our lives.

Now, more than ever, I use exercise as a way to manage my anxiety, but finding time can be really difficult.  That is why the way I workout is less about a "fit body" as it is to stay healthy and to release  endorphins.  I also believe that I can find time for the things that are important to me, and the times where I consistently lack exercise are the times I simply don't make it a priority.

I very frequently get asked what I do for my workouts, so I thought I'd share my workout faves.  I try to workout at least 4 times a week, if not more.

1 - Beachbody videos are my favorite.  Specifically T25 and 21 Day Fix Extreme.  I prefer Shaun T over Autumn any day, but I love both workouts.  They are only 25-30 minutes long and high intensity so you are getting a great workout in a manageable/realistic time.

2 - Jogging/running.  Going for a jog looks a lot different these days.  I typically have at least 1 kid with me at all times so having practical expectations is key.  I have it good though, because Jude LOVES to get on his scooter and go for a jog with me.  He clocked nearly 60 miles with me last month alone!  I can also get some miles in during nap time running laps around my house.  And Josh is really good about letting me get out for a run to escape clear my mind:)

3 - I also use yard work as a workout outlet.  Push mowing our yard will give me over 3 miles and if I jog while mowing it makes it even that much more effective;)

4 - I have tried LOTS of different protein shakes but my favorite is Garden of Life Raw Protein and Greens.  It is safe for the whole family and it is packed with protein and veggies!  I buy it off of Amazon.  It is cheaper (which is a HUGE factor) and packed with more vitamins, minerals and protein than all of the other shakes I've tried.

5 - These hairbands are my favorite to keep the flyaways out of my face.

So there you have it.  Nothing fancy and I'm not paying a fortune for a gym membership, which also releases endorphins for me, ha!