Monday, January 30, 2017

Story In Pictures: #EFL2017 (because I simply don't have the words yet)

I cannot put into words all that is stirring in my soul after this past week in DC at the ERLC conference.

A few words keep circulating over and over...
Overwhelmed with gratitude.

But it all just sounds too cliche.

The trip itself was amazing. Something this weary mama needed.

We finally entered this century and are now pros at calling an Uber.  Well I'm not, but Josh has it down now, ha!
I mean, this guy looks sexy just waiting on an Uber!
I could go on and on about the venue we stayed at and played in.  The sights from the room where we ate our meals was breathtaking!
Photo credit: Josh Smyth

The first floor lobby of our hotel, outside, our room and a "green room"

I could tell you about all the fantastic sights we saw and the history we absorbed.

Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the White House 
Metro, Union Station and Capitol

World War II Memorial
Photo Credit: Patrick Downing - Selfies inside of Union Station
I could tell you about the homeless man we met and got to pray with named William.  And how we met up with him a couple days later and our prayers had been answered with a YES! (His personal story is so sweet.  I'll have to share it one day.)

I could talk about how amazing it is to get to lead worship with these gifted musicians who have become part of our family after playing with some of them for nearly a decade!

we almost had to have an acoustic rehearsal because #technicaldifficulties
Photo Credit: Kelly Via, watching from Her home in Uganda

Photo Credit: Kelly Via

Photo Credit: Rocket Republic
Photo Credit: Rocket Republic
I could talk about the protests that went on outside of the venue where we were leading.
Photo Credit: Travis Motley

Or the realization that we were in DC at a very pivotal point in American History with all that is going on politically and with our people.

The snipers on the surrounding rooftops while Vice President Pence spoke at the March For Life Rally

Getting lost in the sea of people as we waded through the crowds during the rally

I could confess to the photos I shot from the couch while all these respected men and women went in and out of the green room preparing for their sessions or panels.  But we all know that I'd NEVER do that, unless my girlfriends from home were peer pressuring me to see who all was there, ha!  I mean, who wants to be THAT PERSON taking selfies with all these well-respected leaders?!

I did get the nerve to ask a couple of people for photos that we spent a little more time with and there were several others who made such an impact on me like Sharen Ford and Jackie Hill Perry.
Glenn Packiam - a worship leader hero of ours
I got to sit and chat with Lauren Chandler, Matt Chandler's wife, for a little bit (even after confessing that I really didn't know ANYTHING about her) and talk about family and ministry
Russell Moore, one of the sweetest and most genuine men you will meet. We respect him so much!
Leta Sue from Focus On The Family, who finally made the connection that she is friends with my mom!
I could even talk about how overwhelming it is to really let myself think about how we are all on the same team, fighting the same fight, with the main focus being to share the gospel of Christ to a broken and hurting world, no matter what gender or nationality. Or how young or old.

But for now, pictures will just have to suffice.
Because right now I can't get my mind to focus and quiet itself to even begin to process all that the Holy Spirit is doing within.

Heavenly Father,
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  I am so very grateful for your graciousness that allowed us this opportunity and I pray for the boldness to fulfill in obedience what you are asking of me after all that I have heard and seen.

The event is over but you can still go back and watch all the sessions
HERE and sign up under the simulcast link and "View On Demand".

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Man Your Post

We always find ourselves here.

Here in the kitchen.

One of us will inevitably be trying to distract ourselves with mindless activities like sweeping up endless crumbs, mopping stubborn sticky spots off the floor, or scrubbing the leftover pots and pans from the meal that was just consumed.  The other one of us somehow always gravitates toward the corner countertop; out of the way but close enough to be involved.

Both of us are participants.

Usually the one mindlessly moving around is the processor.
The speaker.
The one who needs the hashing out, the listening ear, the voice of reason, the outside perspective.

The one propped up on the corner countertop is the listener.
The person who mans this spot has a deep responsibility to hear the other person.
They must ensure that the other person is feeling validated and affirmed, with truth ever on their lips.

But this post holds an even more important role.
The role of prayer.
In order to allow the other person to feel heard, while still being the voice of reason and truth, the Holy Spirit must be invited into the conversation.

Knowing when to speak and when to listen, when to give advice or shut up, is key for one of the most important rules in marriage communication taken from James 1:19:

"let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger"

And without the Holy Spirit, this balance can be tricky at best.

After all the crumbs are up, sticky spots are gone, and the dishes are airing out to dry is when the other post gets manned.  The stool comes out of its hiding spot from the far side of the refrigerator and placed adjacent to the corner countertop.  All the busyness and distraction are gone.  It's just the two of us.  We can easily make eye contact and gage body language.

Communication can be such a difficult thing in the midst of difficult seasons, or tough days and situations. But it HAS to happen.

Find a safe place.
Neutral ground.
Eye contact.
And invite the Holy Spirit into the equation to help navigate the conversation.

And a large pile of dirty dishes never hurts either;).

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I turned a whopping 38 yesterday!

I think it's a pretty normal thing NOT to feel your age, but MAN I don't feel
I'm afraid my wrinkles smile creases would beg to differ;)

Birthdays are such a weird thing.

I try not to care about the day that it is, and just carry on as usual.
But I always, in the back of my mind, feel like it should "feel" different than the rest of the days.

But anxiety held me hostage for a majority of my day.
Which is pretty typical on cold, gloomy, rainy winter days.
That's the thing about anxiety, it doesn't care if it's your birthday or not.
It just IS when it wants to be.
And so I spent a lot of my day fighting.

But I'll tell you what made it a little brighter...

My friend, Kristina, made me a birthday cake for small group on Sunday!  And it was DELICIOUS!

Waking up to our infamous "Happy Birthday" banner.  Because everyone in the Colony knows that it really isn't a birthday until that banner is hung high!

A strawberry butter and croissant breakfast made by none other than my Areyna Joy.

Which was consumed AFTER I ate my first breakfast made by my sweet hubby before he headed to work.

Homemade birthday cards hidden in nooks and crannies of the house for me to find.

Flowers delivered to my front door.
And the softest little bear that came with them.
I named him "Boo" because my Boo gave them to me.
The boys like to fight over him because he is so cuddly.  Big surprise.

The fact that my sister-in-law tried her hardest to get ahold of me from Africa.
Africa, people!
Now THAT is a sweet gift:-)

Zeke came running home from school so excited to give me ice cream that he bought at school with his own was the sweetest and saddest moment of the entire day when he flung open his lunchbox.  He was devastated!  We worked through it though.  Besides he already has a date planned for me for this weekend to Chick-Fil-A (using a Christmas gift card) and a trip to the market to pick out my very own flowers just from him.  Birthday's are so important to this kid, ha!

Jude's Strawberry Banana Tapereen.

Made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls from Rainy were the perfect afternoon snack.
My family must REALLY think I enjoy food, hahaha!

A dinner date with my Boo.

And my FAVORITE...

A birthday letter in "the blue book".  Josh purchased this book when he was living in Uganda while we were dating.  He wrote letters to and prayers for me every day while he was away.  The rest of the book has been sprinkled with sweet memories as he has written letters to me on special days, hard days and memorable moments throughout the years.  I spent the rest of my night, cuddled up with my husband in bed, reading through old letters from him out of this book.

It was a sweet day, even in the midst of the mental battle.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Strawberry Tapereen: A Jude Original

Strawberry Tapoween    noun      /stro ber E, Tap-O-ween/      A delicious dish created by Jude Via in 2016.  It has a similar texture to cobbler or crisp recipes.  Ingredients may vary.


About a year ago Jude began joking around about making this special dish he called, "Strawberry Tapereen".  When he would pretend to cook it would ALWAYS be Strawberry Tapereen. And of course, it was always delicious!

We actually had a hard time figuring out what it was actually called because, toddlers saying R's don't really work.  But finally, after much distress from Jude, we figured out how to actually say it the way he says it was meant to be said.

This dish was always a pretend thing, until one day when he insisted that he needed to actually MAKE his recipe come to life.

He has spent enough time in the kitchen with me, Josh and Rainy to know his way around and figure out the key ingredients to pure yumminess.

The problem with Strawberry Tapereen is that I typically don't have fresh strawberries on hand and he has to substitute the strawberries for bananas, which actually turns out to be my favorite version of his recipe!

Today he wanted to gift me with a blended creation of the two (strawberries AND bananas) for my birthday and it was fabulous!

For those of you curious as to how to bring this delicious recipe into your own kitchen I thought I'd share his recipe with you lucky enough to read this blog (don't worry, I asked him first;).

Strawberry Tapereen
according to Jude Via
(my actual estimation will be in parentheses)

3 Strawberries OR  1/2 Bananas OR BOTH (8 strawberries and/or 1/2 a banana)
4 scoops of Oats (about 1 toddler handful)
 1 scoop vanilla extract (1 tsp.  This is actually the only thing he DOES measure!)
2 scoops Baking Soda (about a tsp.)
3 scoops Cinnamon Sugar (it always spills out so it's a pretty hefty amount, lol)

Preheat oven to 0 degrees.
Blend all the ingredients in the mixer and spread out into a greased pan.
Place in the oven for 1-2 minutes (or until you just can't stand it anymore)

Enjoy in heaping spoonfuls!
(Don't let the looks of it fool you)

You're welcome:-)

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Walk In The Park

I went to go grab some socks out of my bin so we could go on a walk to the park today.

Apparently I waited too long to do laundry (again) because I didn't have any.

It's a good thing Rainy has the same size (within a half of a size) foot as me.
And it's a good thing she was generous enough to share a pair of clean socks with me.
And it's a good thing that I don't have any issues with wearing mis-matched, tie-die socks,
because that particular kind was my only option, ha!

This means two things:

  1. I care very little about my own personal fashion
  2. My daughter is growing up
Both of which can be good or bad depending on the way you look at it, lol.

Josh and I didn't realize the gem we had when we moved into this house over 7 years ago. The trails that connect to Rolesville Park are practically in our backyard and I can't even count the hours we've spent running/walking/scootering/pushing strollers/pulling wagons/adventuring in those woods and on those trails.

Today we spent most of our time back in the deepest parts of the woods looking for hidden trails we've missed over the years.

Sometimes when I'm in these woods I take for granted the utter beauty that is right in our own backyard.  But not today.  The last 3-4 days have been mentally very dark days for me, but this morning I woke up and that dark fog had lifted, bringing a fresh motivation for beauty and life.

(I have also realized I have a love affair with old red barns.
Or maybe it's just old things in general.)

Today I'm overwhelmingly thankful for the sunshine, the gorgeous weather, the lifted "fog" and the treasures we can find in our own backyard.  But most of all, I'm grateful for my keeper who never slumbers, but instead keeps my foot from being moved, even on the darkest of days.

"He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber."
Psalm 121:3

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pane Inflicted Pain

It was time to take Christmas down.
I LOVE the cozy feelings that Christmas decorating promotes.

But as SOON as Christmas is over I begin getting antsy to put it all away 
and get on with he New Year,
packed full of new inspirations...
motivated by organization and cleanliness of course.

So as SOON as New Year passed I decided it was time.
I waited until Rainy and Josh were occupied
(my two most nostalgic Colony members)
and started "un-Christmasing" the Colony home.

Well, all those things are fine and dandy,
until you have a cute Colony kid contently playing with Legos 
on the fireplace stone ledge right under the 14 lb window pane 
that you are maneuvering around on the mantle to get the decorations cleaned up...

My head kept telling me to move Cai to another spot to play until I finished that area,
but my mama heart saw a boy playing so sweet and quietly by himself.
And we all know how hard it is to interrupt a kid playing sweet and quietly.
Especially with a city of Lego creations that will have to be relocated.

So I ignored my head and followed my heart,
and a split second later the window pane came crashing down on top of Cai's head!

He screamed.
I froze.
He grabbed the top of his head.
I knelt to console.

The blood. 
The other scared kids.
Did I mention the blood?!

The dad who was working away in the back bedroom (and by God's grace not away at work)
heard the commotion and ran to the scene.
Typically my sweet Josh passes out at the sight of these types of things (bless his heart),
but this evening we reversed rolls.

He took Cai straight to the ER.
It was then that the first prayer was answered "yes".
They were placed in a room almost immediately.

Then the second prayer was answered "yes".
They didn't have to shave his head AT ALL!
(In fact, his hair helped in the staple removal a week later!)

This boy may be small in stature but he is my dare devil and beasted those 5 staples!
The doctors said that other kids have kicked and cursed and hit...
but Cai was so sweet and patient and took it like a champ.

A week later we found ourselves in the pediatrician's office
with a room full of cheerleaders and helpers.
He was pretty fearful of the staple removal,
but after the first one, he realized that it didn't hurt at all!

I mean, just look at that face.

We know it could have been SO much worse and are so, so grateful.

What a way to start the year!

***No window panes were harmed during this episode.  
And no glass was even broken!***

******It IS, however, in the attic, safely placed away for use...
in ANOTHER, safer location, of course.******

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Story In Pictures - Snowmageddon 2017

After Jude's snow in the shirt incident, ha!

We began our adventure with the prep for the storm.
We walked the trails of Rolesville Park with Jude's wagon to get some firewood.

And waited for the snow to begin.
We all know that NC doesn't always get their weather predictions right,
so we tried to keep realistic expectations, while still holding out hope for the best.

We woke up to a thick layer of ice and some flurrying,
but it later turned into a day of snow and fun!

Freezing Chickens

Mouth full of snow

My sexy bearded man

snow angels

because snow down the shirt is no fun

throwing snowballs (I use that term loosely, ha!)


Ice Sledding

Frozen trampoline

I got to have a little fun with my camera, which seems like a rare occasion lately.

We took breaks for hot chocolate...


My view from my chair as I read and watched the snow fall.
...worked a little to get ready for Journey's online Sunday services...

...and snowcream!

The Aftermath

Now it's time to get our chili and cornbread on the table that's been cooking all day!