Kindness Catch-Up

Things are pretty wonky around our house right now and I just don’t have a lot of words to write.  I am slammed with life and work and if you’ve placed an order I promise I’m working just as fast as I can.

We started our Kindness Advent on December 1st and have been moving right along.  This is easily one of my favorite and most intentional times of the year.  Kindness does not have to be big and grand and expensive…it can be small and simple and free, but either way it’s always intentional.  This time of year reminds me and our family that kindness comes with intentionality.

So here’s what we’ve been up to.

December 1st: Buy toys for the Christmas store at church where people in the community who are struggling this time of year can get presents for their kiddos.  We really encouraged the kids to pick things they would love to receive themselves and they did awesome.  Amon might have asked 1000 times when he got to open the Mickey Mouse tool set he picked out to no avail.

December 2nd:  Share Sonic happy hour.  My phone was dead when we went to Sonic, but Harper decorated a cute little note with a Christmas tree and we taped it and a $5 gift card to the ordering board.  Easy easy.

December 3rd:  Paint wood slices and leave them at the park and on the sidewalks.  We added this one last year and it has become a fast favorite.  2 cousins happened to be over that day so we had some extra painting help.  We all walked down the street to enjoy our local Christmas parade and left these along the way too.  The kids absolutely loved this one.

December 4th:  Buy double packs of bar soap for the prison ministry at church.  Regular every day toiletry items cost much more than they should to inmates and the prison ministry at church is trying to help out this Christmas.  When checking out at Walgreens me and the cashier had the sweetest conversation about prison and people in prison.  She has some loved ones who are incarcerated and she shared some really valuable words with me.  Truth be known I wanted to reach across that counter and bear hug her.

December 5th:  Load trinket machines up with quarters.  The kids always love this one and are totally okay walking away empty handed.  This year we had too few machines and quarters leftover so we went ahead and turned some of them, left the trinket or candy under the silvery, metal flap and loaded the machine up again.

December 6th:  Treat and warm drink for our Salvation Army bell ringer.  When the kids got in the car after school the first thing Hudson said was, “Mom I brought a dollar to put in the bucket.”  I absolutely love that the kids love doing this.  I love the intentionality of this time because it’s one of the busiest, bustling times of the year.  There’s a Starbucks in our Kroger grocery store so we slipped past our sweet bell ringer and the kids picked out yummy treats…cake pops to be exact.  We noticed he was already drinking a coffee so we opted for a $5 gift card instead of an actual drink so he could get whatever he liked when he was ready.  We gave him the goodies, dropped in our monies, wished him a Merry Christmas and he was just the sweetest.  As we walked away Hudson said, “That felt good.”

Tomorrow is ornament delivery and everyone has their recipients picked out and ornament ready to go.

If you would like to follow along daily with our advent I’m sharing about it over on Instagram.

Happy Tuesday night!

When Things Suck…He’s Enough

Here’s what I did…I put the littles down for a nap and tried to work because I feel about 500 steps behind these days.  I then remembered I had emails to answer so I answered them.  I then decided I needed to blog my feelings and then I shut my computer because I didn’t know how.  My heart feels so freakin’ heavy today and I want to just sit and cry so instead of getting back to work I curled up in a ball on our couch under my Mom’s afghan, set the alarm on my phone and shut my eyes.  My eyes then opened approximately 31.7 seconds later.  I got up, grabbed my favorite Africa mug and filled it mini marshmallows because I am an emotional eater if you’ve ever seen one.  And then I opened my computer again.

I will write today.  I will hash out these feelings and thoughts.  I started to type and then looked down into my marshmallow mug and noticed my wrist adorned in all it’s bracelet goodness.  My Branded Collective bracelet made by survivors of human trafficking, my “surrender” bracelet which reminded me of the very words I tell Jesus everyday “my life is His”, my Noonday bracelet made in India which gives a dignified job to mommas and daddys who want to feed, provide and educate their children and here I am snacking leisurely on mini marshmallows and my Solohope bangle made by ladies in Honduras who’s jobs give them hope and dignity and an opportunity to provide for their families as well.

The truth, we received some heartbreaking news this week and it just sucks.  It completely sucks and Josh Kelley and myself have no idea what to do.

Today I also received an email from our agency letting us know our papers will head to China very soon and immediately my stomach churned because I absolutely long for our son.  I think I’ve done good in the wait so far, but the more I think about his little broken heart and the loss he is going to feel the more I just absolutely ache for him.  Only God allows us to love someone so hard and so deep whom we’ve never even met.  I keep thinking about the day I will lay eyes on his little self.  I keep thinking about what that will feel like for me and what that will feel like for him…and then I cry and beg God to just be everything he needs and to some how, some way allow him to know he is safe and loved and cherished in our arms.

Things are not going the way we planned in other areas of our lives.  Some very big, very hard things.  It’s easy for me to feel wrapped up in myself and think “this is the worst” and to throw a pity party for myself. It’s easy to look so inward and just be all about me.  And then I am reminded with a simple glance towards my wrist that this world is big and beautiful and hard and God is always King.  I have seen and experienced deep down pain and grief and loss, but there is always, always, always someone who is hurting far more than myself.  Always.  God did not promise us a carefree, happy, unicorns and rainbows life.  Nope.  Not even close.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I looked over my wrist again and remembered how I told God not just a few hours ago He could have everything…my wants, desires, hopes, dreams, needs.  He can have my marriage, Josh Kelley, Josh’s job and my business.  He can have our home and cars and money.  He can have our past, current and future.  He can have each of our children…naming them out loud.  He can have our foster daughter.  He can have our adoption process and our foster care journey.  He can have all my social medias and Oh please please please have my pride.  I say all these things and more.  Seriously, every single day I say them aloud and here I am acting as if I own them all and clearly God’s plan is not working out.  Who the hell do I think I am!!!

So I sit here with a little one who has since woken up from her nap.  She couldn’t be sitting any closer to my body and I am reminded God doesn’t owe me anything…who do I think I am…not one thing…what have I done to deserve anything other than what I really deserve which is hell because I am one messed up sinner.  And here I am basking in His grace and mercy and love and I doubted Him…and still doubt Him…and will doubt Him again and again…it’s just my fleshy truth.  That’s the incredible gift of Jesus, He just takes me on like I am.  He gives me love and compassion and grace when I do not deserve it.  He is in control.  His plan is best no matter my OCD control freak-ness.  His way is better and right and good.  And OH MY GOODNESS I have got to get over myself, seek His face and His truth like there’s no tomorrow and beg Him to guide me in only the way He can opening the very eyes of my heart so I can see in faith.

Today I started back in Exodus after a month off.  I was reading a commentary about when Moses was waiting in the water in the reed basket fashioned by his momma.  It said this, “When we seem most neglected and forlorn, God is most present with us.”

 

As people who love Jesus we are not promised easy…we just aren’t, but we are promised something even better…Jesus Himself.  And that has to be enough.  And that is good news.  Always and forever, good news.

Letterfolk Board

I’ve had my eye on a Letterfolk Board for some time now.  They are insanely cute and have been popping up all over instagram and other social medias.  I love how versatile it is and how everyone can get in on the word action.

My birthday rolled around and I knew just what I wanted.  And it showed up at my door!!!!  I cannot even say how much we love it.  Every last person minus Amon and our littlest have been adding quotes and messages…writing out their words letter by letter.  It is definitely well loved already and there are no rules…so if your message gets changed no biggie…everyone just rolls with it.

Sometimes they are serious, prolific, funny, sweet, celebratory or wise.  All messages are a go.

 

I just can’t recommend this enough.  And what a fun Christmas gift this would make.  Make sure you  check Letterfolk out.

Happy Tuesday!

Kindness Advent 2016

Year number 6.  Wowzers.  I can hardly believe this is our 6th year doing our kindness advent.  This weekend we sat down and decided on all our activities and when everything would happen when.  Our advent always requires some planning and preparation, but it’s well worth it.  We really let the kids play a huge role in what activities we choose.  They actually chose almost all of the activities and I picked a few of my favorites to throw in.  Once the activities we’re chosen we broke out the calendar and decided when what would happen when.  We always have to keep in mind details like how our trash in only picked up on Tuesday, that our beloved pediatrician is not in the office on Wednesdays, activities requiring more time need to happen on the weekend, make sure anything with our school is done before Christmas break, etc etc etc.

  So here’s the list of our activities this year:

Buy new toys for the Christmas store at church, share Sonic happy hour, paint wood slices and leave on the playground, soap donations for the prison ministry, load bubble gum & trinket machines with quarters, snack & coffee for Salvation Army Bell ringer, ornament delivery, make bookmarks & leave in the library, donuts for our school staff, babysit for another couple, surprise chalk art, treats & cards for pediatricians office, treat for our trash guy, deliver groceries with recipe, give flowers away, decorate someone’s mailbox, breakfast drop, return shopping carts, treat for our mailman, baked goods for our police station, encouraging sticky notes on public bathroom mirrors, send handmade mail, handout kids books, surprise yard inflatable and leave encouraging notes on cars.

So there’s this years list!!  We’re all so excited and cannot wait to kick this off this Thursday!!!!  I’ll be sharing all our details here and and over on Instagram so feel free to follow along.  If you need more information on how this gig all got started and for lots of ideas THIS POST is a great place to start.

Also I combined Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday all together and kicked off a big sale over in MY SHOP on Friday.  $10 off everything and free shipping and word on the street is everyone you know wants a stationery set and/or an online Bible journaling class for Christmas.  This is a full on true story :)  PLUS big bonus, all money goes towards our adoption fund…purchase with a purpose!!  Head over HERE and grab some goodies.

And there are only 3 days left on our LipSense Fundraiser.  Head over HERE, pick our your color, place you order and our family will receive 15% of sales for our adoption expenses.  3 days!  Grab your colors fast.

 

Hope you guys have an amazing Monday!

The Brilliant Sunshine

This month marked the 5 year anniversary of Mom’s death.  What caught me a little off guard was this year all the dates and days of the week lined up.  Not sure why, and now I wonder if it happens every five years, but it caught my breath.  Veteran’s Day fell on the same Friday, her brain surgery that same Tuesday and then the 20th when she died on a Sunday just the same as 5 years ago.  It had me reeling in my head a bit.  It was really strange and different for sure.  And I probably thought more about this anniversary than I have since her 2 year.  Then my thoughts landed on Thanksgiving.  We buried Mom on Wednesday November 23rd the day before Thanksgiving.  I remember thinking the holiday would be ruined forever.  Turns out it’s not, but I didn’t even attend Thanksgiving that year.  I remember Ashley and I went to the movies and ate yummy food and shopped at Old Navy.  It was just what I needed.

On Sunday I woke up and I knew what the day was and what it represented.  I want to always remember my Mom, but this year was different and I had lots of feelings and thoughts and emotions that we’re very different than in the past.  As we drove to church Sunday morning I stared at a salsa verde and Snapple bottle full of beautiful flowers riding in our cup holders.  I thought about how I typically would have carefully assembled these flowers in memory of Mom, but this year they had been carefully assembled in honor of our new niece who should arrive in the next few weeks.  Instead of heading to the graveyard with the leftover blooms we were heading to adorn a Sunday school class snack table in a church we have found new life in.  A church in which all my theological thoughts and ideas don’t necessarily line right up with, but a place full of people who are fighting the good fight in the face of racism and poverty and the marginalized and realizing we all need one another, life is better together, diversity makes us stronger and the world will know us by our love.

The sun shone through our window and I sang along to the radio and thought about how after Mom was transported from one hospital to another I sat waiting in her new room for the staff to bring her in.  Right when I saw her she told me how she had never seen the sunshine look so brilliant.  I grabbed my notebook and immediately jotted those words down.  I felt their importance.  I didn’t want to forget them.  I thought how today the sun looked brilliant yet again.

It reminded me of God’s goodness…His mercy, His love, His redemption, His truth, His promises.  How He always shines in the darkness no matter what.  He cannot be drowned out.  He cannot be extinguished.  He is light.  I thought about people I know who this holiday will be gut wrenching and hard and flat out shitty.  How some of them might be just like me 5 years ago and they’re quite unsure how holidays and the every day ins and outs will ever be normal or bearable again.  I thought about those who feel unloved, forgotten and lost in the shuffle.  Those who feel unseen and how a simple Facebook post by a “friend” can twist the knife a little deeper.  I thought about those alone and left out and on the edge not feeling accepted by anyone or any place.  I thought about those who are fighting hard for something and need someone to come along side them and fight too…cheering them on raspy voice, handwritten cheer sign and all.

I don’t like to speak with such certainty about things I don’t really know since losing Mom.  I think often about my words proclaiming I couldn’t wait to look back a year from now because I knew…I mean I just knew, she was not going to die…she was a fighter.  I know better now and what I know even even better now is to speak with certainty the things I do know for sure like how God loves us each deeply and truly and uniquely.  How God does not leave us where we are, alone and desolate.  How God heals, restores, redeems and renews like no one else.  How God’s love encompasses anybody and everybody just as they are.  How God is everywhere and especially how He lives on the fringes and wraps His arms right around those on the fringes too.  How He isn’t into politics at all and probably would never have a Facebook page :)  How He is actual love so to feel deeply loved, cared for, cherished, seen and known we look no further than Him.

When I think about the end of this year and the beginning of the next and when I think about what the future of our family might look like and when I think about bringing our new heart warrior home and our fight for his precious little broken heart and when I think about hopefully sending our littlest back home to her parents and when I think about ALL OF THAT I remember the certainties matter…the things I know for sure always and forever matter.  I know that no matter what I can trust God and thank Him because He is Almighty…always in control, always constant, always good.  He gets me just like I am…a full on mess, disaster and sinner.  And He not only gets me, but He loves me just the same.  This Thanksgiving I am floored with thankfulness to the One who has showed me, taught me and put deep deep down in my heart His love.  I am so underserving and and yet absolutely thankful to the ends of the earth for His love and that He always allows the sunshine to look so brilliant.

Happy Thanksgiving!

10 More

I’m still moving through November’s 30 Days of Bible Lettering Challenge.  I have loved this challenge yet again.  Love getting to look at different verses I wouldn’t normally plus getting creative in some way with the text.  I’ve actually taken a few weeks off from Exodus so this was the perfect little substitute.  There’s still time if you want to jump in.  Here are 10 more days I’ve sketched out.

Happy Wednesday.

PS: There are still 3 sets of key fobs left in my shop HERE.  All sets purchased yesterday shipped this morning :)

It’s Thanksgiving Week

Yesterday I was sick as a dog.  Yes.  Sick…as a dog.  How sick is that…as a dog!  I don’t even know what that means, but I was sick.  Like pretty confident I had food poisoning and was going to flat out die.  Today I’m in recovery mode.  I’ve consumed one serving of ramen and 2 small glasses of sprite in approximately 41 hours.  Getting a jump on that Thanksgiving weight loss :)  Anyways, it was the worse.

So many little things I’ve been wanting to stop in and share.  Just my randomness like how I finally got some more key fob sets listed in MY SHOP today.  I might have had to lay on the couch to recover from it, but it got done.  Finally.  These are ready to ship and I can have them in the mail this week.  All the money will head towards our adoption fund so head over HERE and snag a few.  And there’s still stationary sets available as well.

The 20th was 5 years since Mom died.  5 YEARS.  Holy cow.  This anniversary felt weird and different than pasts.  I’m kind of still figuring it all out in my head.  It was just different.  The other night Harper was sleeping over with a cousin, the littles were already asleep so Hudson and Solomon we’re up solo watching a movie.  I made them Rice Krispy treats, but served them in a bowl like Mom always did.  Pretty much made my night.

Christmas is officially in full swing at the Kelley house.  Josh Kelley might have begun his Christmas light decorating November 5th to be exact…just in time to celebrate Daylight Saving Time.  Although I feel it’s a bit early, I must admit those 8 stockings hanging up are pretty dang sweet.

And every time I glance at this picture I think Josh Kelley is wearing a Yamaka.  Hahahahaha.

Amon and I had a little day date the other day.  Our littlest was at a visitation and the big kids had school.  He asked for Chickfila and I said yep!  He picked us a seat and set it with ketchup, napkins and straws while I ordered our food.  When I started to sit down across from him I notice his face change.  I asked if he wanted me to sit beside him…”Yes mom.  That’d be great.”

I’ve been working and mailing out orders!!!  Let me know if you need a fun Christmas present.

Saturday we had a little surprise baby shower for my SIL & BIL.  Can I just say I love surprise parties!!!!!  I will be committed to the surprise aspect until the very end and then I promise you I will jump and yell and wave my hands in the air vigorously and there is sure to be plenty of jazz hand action as well.  True story.

We had our pictures taken by Cheyenne on Sunday.  I don’t know if I could have hugged her tighter when we left because I knew what she had just captured and it made my heart want to explode.  If I have not proclaimed my love enough already for Cheyenne let me say it again loud and clear:  She’s simply amazing and beautiful and kind and oh man, what a talent.  After each session we have with her she just gets it.  She works so well with our large crew…we were in and out in under 30 minutes.  Our littlest is a bit feisty these days and I had given Cheyenne the warning…we met, Cheyenne told us what to do, she snapped and we were all on our way.  I could never sing her praises loud enough.

And let’s all take a moment to really soak up and enjoy Hudson’s go-to “silly face” AKA his dead eyes.

And this girl.  God certainly knew what He was doing when He made her the oldest of this Kelley kid tribe.  The other morning I got all weepy/lovey/feeling-all-the-feels waking up to her beside our bed.  Her hair was all messy from sleep and then she crawled up next to me to tell me every last detail about a new babysitter they had the previous night.  I wanted to stop time right then and there, but I settled for a good conversation with my girl and a photo instead.  I tell them 1000 times a week, I’m the luckiest mom in the world.

It’s Thanksgiving week and there is just so much to be thankful for.  Praying over this week on your behalf…whatever it may hold.  I know for some of you this Thanksgiving is very different than last…praying you know you are seen, loved and cherished.  Here’s to a good week.

Happy Tuesday.

A Little Update

We are in the midst of such a crazy time.  Our littlest received his expedite which is absolutely amazing, but also means it feels like crunch time.  We are trying to wrap up every last little thing so we are ready to go when it’s time…even though we have no idea when that will be.  Ahhhhh!  No matter what we are so incredibly thankful for that expedite.  God is good.

This morning we are off to get the boys their passports.  They are so excited.  And let’s all take a minute to admire their sweet little photos.  The dude at Walgreens said “You can smile, but don’t show me your teeth.”  Nailed it.

In fundraising news, we received another grant yesterday all the way from New York.  So so so thankful.  We are also still in the middle of our LipSense fundraiser.  I recently saw the color rosewood and it was super pretty.  It’s on my “to get” list.  To snag some pretty colors and gloss all you have to do is head over HERE, pick out your faves, place your order and our family will receive 15% of your purchase to go towards our adoption expenses.  Fun lipstick that seriously does not come off for F.O.R.E.V.E.R is such a great gift for girlies in your life.  This fundraiser will run until the end of November :)

Today we’re also hosting a little online pop-up Trades of Hope fundraiser.  This will run just until Sunday and that’s it.  I was invited to a Trades of Hope show not long ago by a friend, but couldn’t attend.  I ended up snagging THIS bag online and it has become a fast favorite.  Really love the black and white!

Head over HERE and check out all the details.  They have all kinds of items from jewelry, to scarves, to ornaments and a few other home decor items.  Lots of variety.  Perfect time to pick up some Christmas gifts that give back.  Our family will receive 15% of all purchases.

If the above link is not working you can always just go HERE and shop away.

 As always, feel free to share.  The more the merrier always.

And let me say thank you for the 1000th time.  When I say it I hope you know how much we really mean it.  And thank you most for praying for our boy.  We are feeling those prayers and just ask God to allow him to feel them as well.  We still have a ways to go, but every step closer is such an encouragement.

I love when people ask me to pray for specific things, so if you wouldn’t mind, would you please continue to pray for his heart and his transition.  We are praying wild, bold, audacious prayers for healing in his heart.  God is in the business of miracles.  We also know he is likely to be just flat out terrified and that can push me right over the edge and into a crying mess on the floor.  I feel so broken for our boy and keep asking God to be everything he needs.  And would you pray for his paperwork.  We are crazy thankful to God for this expedite, but want to continue to pray over his paperwork and each person who handles it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  You are amazing and kind and I am just so overwhelmed with gratefulness for each of you.

Here’s to a great Thursday!