Ca-ra-zy week!  Happiest of Friday nights.

We are currently sitting on our couch…our new couch…which I still want to make out with.

It’s so dreamy.  And Josh Kelley’s old man black socks, what can I say.

Speaking of our couch, currently we are a two couch family.  It’s driving us crazy, but the kids think it’s Uhh-mazing.  It’s not.  My OCD self was not meant for two couches…ever.  Unfortunately no one wants our dirty couch…even when it’s free…even when I say things like, “…but it has good bones.”

Let’s see.  Bunk bed assembly is 2 for 3…only one left to get put up.  Hudson and Solomon decided they would both sleep together on the top bunk their first night.  Harper has been rotating between her top and bottom bunk…giving them both a shot.

We got school uniforms this week and I just cannot even stand how crazy profesh my kids look.  I mean seriously, they were made for uniforms.  The boys are like small little men.  They own no collared shirts and they both really liked them and asked to wear them the rest of the day.

And Sol’s faces…I can’t even.

This week I found Amon under our kitchen table licking dried rainbow sherbet off the floor.  Sadly I did not stop him.  I took plenty of pictures, enjoyed a good laugh and called the big kids to come and see.  They laughed hysterically too.

The big kids are rockin’ their chores.  Today they worked together and filled the back of Josh’s truck full of Ikea cardboard.  It was a lot.  And it was pretty dang cute watching them work.

These pictures of Solomon and his Big Daddy are just too sweet.  They were both in the peanut cracking zone…working hard and so focussed.

Side Note:  Solomon has been wearing his Ethiopian wrist bands non-stop…and I love it.

And today Amon got a hair cut.  It was a hellish hair cut.  It involved me holding him down in a very tight death grip and him screaming like a crazy person for a solid 15 minutes, but my friend Brooke worked her magic and got us in and out in no time.  And I looooove his sweet little cut.

So I know, a pretty crazy Friday night around the Kelley house.  Excited for the weekend.  Hope you guys have a good weekend.

Happy Friday!

I Love Couch

This morning I am channeling my inner Brick Tamland.  I just gaze on so lovingly and swoony at our new couch and think brainlessly  ’I love couch’.  If you haven’t seen Anchorman, then just ignore my foolery…and don’t go watch it.  Well, maybe do.  It’s so funny and quotable, but not clean, so maybe don’t.  But if you do, don’t come back and scold me :)

We have been living like we were moving to a new house for a while now when there was no new house on the horizon.  God has been working and working and working on my heart about contentment and I think I am finally getting a tiny little pinky grasp on it…and it feels really good.  We decided to stop living like we weren’t going to be in our house much longer because in fact we’ll be here for as long as God wants us to be and we have no clue how long that will be.  So we’re just doing our thing…really living and really loving our current home.  And one thing on our list was a new couch.

You guys…our old couch…holy cow.  It was bad.  Like real bad.  Like remember, I throw a cute vintage quilt over it and hope visitors pay no attention to the actual couch itself.  It was time.  We were done looking at the puke stains and bodily fluid stains and just straight up grime and pen/marker marks from a wee toddler child and it smelled bad.  And guess what?  You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you, but I ordered a couch and three sets of bunk beds from Ikea…instead of driving all the way to Atlanta…gas, food, milage, etc…I bought them online on sale…plus shipping was $110 TOTAL…plus no tax because Tennessee doesn’t have an Ikea.  Whaaaatttt????  And they brought our goods straight to our house.  Josh Kelley and myself stayed up far too late into wee hours assembling one bunk bed and the couch.

This mooring the boys had some serious bunk bed envy going on.  They are chomping at the bits for their sets to get put together and in place.  Top bunks here they come.

And is it wrong to want to make out with a couch?!?!?!  If so, then I don’t want to be right.  Is it wrong I want to wrap myself in the couch and just sit for long hours soaking up it’s cleanliness and loveliness!?!?!?  Again, then I don’t want to be right.  It’s swoony.  It’s clean.  It makes my worldly heart leap for joy and there is not one ounce of buyers remorse or shame…I mean…Ikea…cheap shipping…no tax…on sale…delivered to your house…how could there be remorse?!?!?!  Lots of thought provoking questions this morning.

So if you need me, you can find me on our couch today.  Just sitting.  Admiring.  Loving.  Gazing at in admiration.  It’s bad. Real bad.

And just because you all need to know…this is the look on our kids’ faces during the suspenseful parts of Swiss Family Robinson which we have watched far too many times already.

Happy Wednesday.

This Monday Is Our Jam

Well we are officially done with whatever sickness funk we had.  Today we spent almost the entire day out running errands…going to speech therapy, getting our last random school supplies, going to the library and a gazillion other things.  Harper’s exact words about our millions of errands, “Ahhhh, it’s good to be out of the house again.”  Amen little lady.  Amen.

Side Note: Both Hudson and Solomon needed 8, yes 8, boxes of 24 count crayons.  Holy cow.  Apparently they are going to be doing some legit coloring this year in kindergarten.  End side note.

Our weekend was spent hanging around…zero commitments…and getting well.  Lots of resting and taking it easy.  It was genuinely nice.  Playing games and taking naps.  Sunday came and I was feeling so much better and Hudson, who was the last to get sick, was going on 48 hours of no fever.  So what does any normal human adult being decide to do…paint a room.

We have bunk bed assembly starting this week and I have been wanting to paint Harper’s room for a while now.  Josh Kelley obliged and started patching a thousand tiny holes in her walls…and a few rather large ones.  I’m really good and putting holes in walls.  Thanks to some friends who took on 4 small Kelleys for a few hours, we almost knocked the whole paint job out and I finished the last bit today.

I’m excited for this week.  It’s going to be far better than last week, that’s for sure.  It’s our last full week before school starts and Friday we’re meeting teachers.  I have made lofty plans for this to be a dang good week.  Really really exciting.  Today we rocked errands, but slipped in a library trip and a chickfila picnic.

Our house is currently a wreck…full on tornado disaster mode.  Cleanup commences very soon.  It has to.  My OCD mind is going nutso every time I pass by a pile of something that belongs somewhere else.  And you cannot see our kitchen counter.

Unfortunately I just cannot pry myself off the couch with these three just yet.  Amon is napping and were eating Peppermint Patties out of the fridge and watching Swiss Family Robinson.  It’s pretty swoony…disaster house and all.

I hope you each had a wonderful weekend and have an encouraging week.  Mondays can be bummers some weeks, but not this Monday.  This Monday is our jam!

Happy Day!

He Came Out Swinging

We landed in Houston, Texas last Sunday late afternoon and everyone’s phones started blowing up.  We’d all been off the grid and now technology was back on.  I listened to my phone ding over and over again with voicemails and missed text messages…each ding meant my phone was catching back up to American standards.

I thought it was odd I had so many voicemails.  7 to be exact.  I never have voicemails unless it’s our insurance or one of Amon’s speech therapists…we’re all kind of like BFFs.  As we made our way through customs I listened to each message and my stress level began to rise.  Ikea apparently totally missed the memo I scheduled with them about our delivery date and a dude telling me he’d be dropping off a couch and 3 sets of bunk beds on our front porch in 20 minutes three days prior perked my interest…especially when I heard how much it had been raining while we were away.  There was a message from someone about a lost bill I mailed in…nothing like someone who thinks you’re trying to dodge a payment.  A message from one of Amon’s speech therapists who’d had surprise surgery and would be out for a few weeks.  Oh and multiples from our bank saying our cards had been compromised and I needed to call immediately…6 days ago.

I called our bank first.  In fact I sat there watching our team grabbing suitcases from the carrousel while confirming payments and trying to get our cards figured out and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  This was Satan.  Some people may think I’m crazy, and that’s cool, but I think Satan is real and came at me full force the minute I hit the ground.  He knew the state of my heart, he knew my mind set and he was on a mission to deter me…to interfere…to make me lose focus from the get go.  He was holding nothing back and he came out swinging.  After we grabbed our bags and as we checked them on to Nashville I told Josh I knew Satan was at work.  And my mind went into over drive on how to prepare for this fight.

I honestly got a bit cocky.  Maybe a tish prideful.  Look at me recognizing Satan at work in my life and getting a game plan together.  Pride has always been a big problem of mine.  I don’t like to ask for help…I don’t want to bother people with my problems…I think I can do and figure things out for myself.  And so I went to battle solo and prideful.  When will I learn.

I was actually really excited to get back to our everyday routine.  I was excited to get re-acclimated…myself and the kids.  I had taken 2 weeks off running because Josh had been gone as well, so I was pretty excited to start logging some miles.  I had meals planned and a grocery trip lined up.  I was going to get up every morning early and spend time with God.  And it was one of our last weeks before the kids headed off to school.  I mean, I was seriously jonesen for some wave pool.  Not to mention Amon had his last 2 days of school which meant full on crazy fun for me and the big kids.  This first week back was going to be great.  Satan would not win…he would not steal our joy.

Then Monday happened and honestly the whole week has been the biggest struggle since.  Harper came down with a high fever on Monday afternoon and from there the dominos just fell.  Our house has been one big giant flippin’ germ.  Fevers, achey joints, sore throats, headaches plus other weird symptoms that made doctors wonder which in turn made parents’ minds wonder and worry.  We did go to the doctor, but no “Hey this is exactly what each person in your household has now take this giant pill made of rainbows, lollipops and unicorns and all will be well.”  It really should work just like that.

Don’t even ask me how many times I’ve done my quiet time with God this week.  We’ve been living on popsicles and rainbow sherbet drenched in sprite…which will be in Heaven just so you know.  We’ve eaten one meal together as a family and I may have forgotten to feed some of the children, who just so happened to be feeling half alive at the time, their breakfast and lunch on multiple occasions this week.  We have watched approximately 1,006 movies.  That’s a lie.  I did stretch that truth, but it was an ungodly amount of movies.  My kids have eaten dinners consisting of just the randomness I throw into a bowl.  Last night Amon ate yogurt, 3 slices of leftover cheese from his lunchbox, sunflower seeds and the remnants from a cereal box.

We realized this week none of our big kids were even registered for school which starts in less than 2 weeks.  I did a whole freak stress out about school uniforms and how on Earth do you figure out uniform shopping when you can’t even think straight due to some mystery illness which has inhabited your entire family.  God bless oldnavy.com and a gigantic add at the top of their site which clearly reads “School Uniform Sale”.  I did have time to practice my french braiding skillz because a little girl with french braided pig tails in a uniform…come on now.  I had work to complete this week and had to send out emails saying certain orders would not be started or completed this week as I committed to before leaving the country.  I’ve had blog issues and lost emails.  My pride has been taking down a notch this week for sure.

I personally look a little like death.  Feel a little like it too.  While being on hold with our insurance company over a ginormous bill which is just bogus I may have gotten so aggravated with the small humans in the background who were continually too loud causing the automatic phone lady to say “That was not a valid selection” which caused me to yell like a mad woman at the small humans, again making the automatic phone lady to say yet again “That was not a valid selection”.  It was a viscous cycle.  I am happy to report two children have received baths this week…the two who were sick first and felt as if they had a good solid layer of germ and random crumbs adhered to their skin…acting as a second layer.

 There have been tears and fights.  I’ve felt as if some God-given dreams are dying.  It was not my favorite week and certainly not the one I had planned in my head…certainly not the one I was going to fight so hard against Satan for.

I’m laying here on our germ infested couch and I can laugh at some parts of our week.  I’ve apologized for other parts.  I’m deeply sad about some pieces, but can honestly say we are striving for Jesus…it’s not easy and we don’t get it right every time, but we are really striving for Him.  And I think that should count for something.  Yesterday God really spoke to me about how stupid it is to try and do this alone and I’m really glad He did.  He is with us for a reason and He puts people in our lives for a reason.  He’s teaching me the power of honesty and respect…the power of openness and accountability…the power of letting go and genuinely handing things off to Him even when all you want to do is clinch your fists and hold on tight.

I’m happy the weekend is here and that last week is now last week.  It went nothing like I planned and Satan certainly got in a few punches, but each day is a new start.  A re-do full of grace.  Each day is a chance to be and do differently than I expected.  Each day starts out fresh and another chance to let His love wrap us up tight and rest in Him.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

Here’s to a great weekend.

Happy Friday!

Mid Day Problem Solving

Hey everyone.  I’ve been having some issues over on my site recently.  If you’ve sent me a message via the “Contact Laura” form in the top bar and I have not replied, please know I did not receive the email.  I promise I am not ignoring you.  I answer all emails.  You can try again or just email me directly at pitterpatterart at gmail dot com.

Also if you are an email subscriber there is apparently an issue with that as well now.  If you’ve signed up to get emails and are not receiving them, please try re-entering your email address in the right side bar on my site above the “subscribe” button. Crossing my fingers this will fix any issues.  Really sorry for all the complications.  Hoping to get everything fixed up soon and quick!  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Love & Serve

I think it’s always a pretty common theme of “what now” once you get home from a trip like ours to Nicaragua.  I’ve felt the same each time I returned from Ethiopia and when I came home from Swaziland.  I felt a closeness to God…like I had just spent time directly with Him.  A deeper appreciation for my brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world.  A feeling of shame in the excess we live in.  Challenged to make changes in my own heart…to increase my joy, hope and trust in God.  A determination to keep this passion and light for God lit bright.  To keep my relationship with Him going strong.  And a mind full of ideas on how we could partner with our brothers and sisters around the world…how we could join hand in hand and make a difference together.

It was easy to be focussed in on God and spending time with Him while in Nicaragua.  Keeping that passion at home is hard for me.  Now that we’ve been home the world around me has gotten loud again.  It’s a daily battle to make sure I give God the time He well deserves and that I need.  I need Him.  Apart from Him I am nothing.  I need the closeness and the connection.  Life can get so busy and it starts to pull me in every direction.  I easily slip back into prioritizing my to-do list and about a million other things above taking the time to be with God…to listen and hear Him…to enjoy His love and company.

Since the time my kids were little I have told them they are going to change the world because A) I believe it And B) I want them to believe it.  Sometimes it’s hard to really believe that kind of statement about yourself…that God could in fact use us to change the world.  I’m a messy sinner who can’t even keep my quiet time with God regular…not even accounting for my laundry list of other mistakes.  It’s hard to stare out an airplane window headed back to my everyday reality with such an overwhelmed heart and realize the largeness of our world and really think you could make a difference in some way.

Our world is so big.  I think sometimes we account for how big the world is and we decide to do nothing.  We go ahead and make up our mind we could never really have an impact…we limit God.  This is exactly what I do.  I basically say “no” to a question I haven’t even been asked yet.  As I’ve gone back over our week in Nicaragua I can’t negate the fact I was blessed and ministered to last week.  I was loved on and served.  And God brings me right back to those things…loving and serving others in His name.  Coming to Him just as I am…laying it all down…accepting I’ll never get it all right…and just trying to do my best to love and serve.

I love how The Message words Matthew 22:37-40

 When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

I love how it says those two commands are pegs and everything hangs from them.  These are the big ones…loving God and loving others.  Serving and caring and showing kindness and generosity and compassion and respect just as you would want shown to you.  We can do that…inspite of all our short comes and failures.  I want to remember this daily because loving God and loving others can be done anywhere.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be big and fancy, it can be small, simple and plain.

When life around me gets too loud and the world seems too large to link arm and arm with I’m finding it more and more important to lean in a little closer and let God be Himself.  Tell Him what a screw up I know I am, but beg Him to remind me daily to love.  To realize loving Him and loving others is enough to really change the world and in turn it infiltrates my relationship with Him causing me to focus intently on less of me and more of Him.

I feel like you guys are straight up my sounding board for the one gazillion thoughts and questions and craziness in my head this week.  I have loved your comments and emails.  Thank you for reading and stopping by and just being kind.  Who knows…I’ll probably talk about this again tomorrow because I just can’t kick it out of my brain just yet.

Happy Thursday!

Rubies Or Pearls

Two times last week we went to visit the girls in a local battered women’s shelter.  The girls in the shelter were all around the age of 12.  My mind was overwhelmed with Harper.  Her heart.  Her self esteem.  Her self worth.  Her beautiful, infectious spirit.  All I could think about was what if these things had been stripped away from her…her heart, her self esteem, self worth & spirit.  We weren’t told all the details about their stories…their stories are their own and theirs to tell, but it was obvious these girls had not been loved, cherished and valued as they so deserved to be.

We were able to bring a lot of supplies for the girls and the home.  We painted their nails, crafted with them and took their photos with a polaroid for them to keep.  My friend Brooke is a hair dresser and brought her tools.  She was given permission to cut and fix each of the girls hair if they wanted her too.  Each girl wanted to participate and Brooke had the privilege of cutting and fixing each of their hair.  And we had the privilege of watching her work.

I could have sat in the corner and cried a river.  It was just incredibly beautiful to watch Brooke work.  She took her time.  She combed and brushed and parted and measured and cut and remeasured and cut some more making sure each haircut was just right.  Evening out, thinning, taking inches after inches after inches off.  She braided and fixed and adorned with pink hair clips.  And each girl, shy and timid and reserved, just beamed.

I watched as my friend Ashley swept up more and more hair.  A simple task, but one she jumped at to do without being asked…she saw a need and acted.  I watched as Miranda painted nails vibrant coral and sparkly purple, taking her time and putting on coat after coat after coat making sure they were evenly painted.  I listened as Dawn volunteered to share a piece of her story with the girls praying they would hear the message of hope in Jesus.  Such simple tasks, but done in love.

We prayed over the girls individually before we left each day…no interpreter, just one on one.  It was humbling.  I have about one million questions for God about this world.  Lots of whys and hows.  So much heart ache and devastation for a young child and I’ll never understand it.  It makes my stomach hurt and my heart to beg God to come back and take us all home.  Make everything as it should be.  Cover over all the hurts of our world.  Wipe away every tear.  Rebuild our hearts.  As we prayed over the girls I just begged God to allow them to know, some how, some way, their value in Him…that they are precious and loved…far more valuable than rubies or pearls…absolutely priceless.

We thanked the girls for allowing us to spend time with them…for allowing us to come into their home.  It was an honor.  I know it’s not easy to invite someone into your place, especially when there is deep brokenness.  I hope they genuinely knew how grateful we were to spend some time with them.

 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people!  He will live with them, and they will be his people.  God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”  And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  Revelations 21:3-5

Give Me Just An Ounce

Our trip to Nicaragua was full of so many things, but especially loving on people and baseball.  Full Count uses the game of baseball to share the love of God with the people of Ocotal and specifically the men.

I genuinely love the game.  I grew up playing ball myself, but also watching my brother play.  We spent a lot of time at ballparks. I’ve been watching Josh Kelley play baseball since I was young.  There’s not much I enjoy more than watching him play along side these men who have become people we do life with…we cherish them and their families.  It was such a pleasure watching them play and seeing them use their talents and gifts to show Gods love to the men of Ocotal.

During the day the guys would split into three teams to do baseball camps, a service project and help with VBS.  The ladies and I helped run the VBS at a local church all week and made visits to the battered woman’s shelter nearby.  There’s just something really life giving about loving on others along side woman just like yourself.  Woman who love Jesus, but struggle with everyday issues.  Who are real and open and genuine.  Who realize the value in being transparent.  Who are willing to admit they do not have it all together.  Woman who encourage you and can cry and laugh with the best.  It was just an honor.  Each of these ladies so unique and special and gifted in different ways.  Open to share God’s love, snuggle and hug on kiddos, hand out suckers and bowls of food.  Sing silly songs, play games of musical chairs, peel foam sticker backs and push through language barriers just so a child or woman could know they are beautiful, loved and valued.  I cannot say how much I appreciated seeing each of these women love and love well.

The kids and the people in the community we were in just amazed me and brought me to tears.  They gave and loved and ministered to our hearts even though we thought we were there to minister to them.  Incredible people.  People of faith and hope and a deeper understanding of who God is and His character, more than myself.

I watched a momma each night in church just absolutely praise God and love on her babies…her youngest being just days old.  She closed her eyes tight, raised her hands high and lifted her voice to Him.  She prayed over her children.  And it was breath taking to watch.  Her love true and deep right in the midst of her material poverty and struggle to feed her family.  Absolutely breathtaking and beautiful.  I feel like we have so many things completely backwards.  We’re so material rich and yet so poor in spirit.  I watched that Nicaraguan momma and begged God to increase my faith, my love and passion for Him…help me to love Him like she loved Him…give me just an ounce of her faith and trust.

We were also able to share Gods love and message of redemption.  Each night 2 of the Full Count guys spoke, most sharing their own personal stories and each one God using specifically to share His good news.  They were all different, no two stories the same, but all equally amazing because of Gods goodness and mercy in their lives.  God never ceases to amaze me when we choose to step aside and let Him move in us…sometimes stepping far beyond our comfort zone, nervous as all get out.

Josh spoke one of the nights and I just beamed with pride because His message was clear and simple.  We are low and God is high.  We are sinners and He is perfection.  We don’t deserve love and yet He created us in His image and loves us beyond all our wildest imaginations.  Even as sinners, total screw ups, we still don’t have to clean our selves up to come before Jesus.  His love is for everyone, just as we are.  What an incredible message of hope for everyone.  I’m a disaster all the time, continually making the stupidest mistakes so my heart is absolutely floored and grateful for His love for my messed up self.  The hope we find in Him always amazes me.  How undeserving I am and yet He’s there every single time, hands out stretched ready to take me in and love me just as I am.

I find myself breaking this trip down again and again and again.  So much God wanted and still wants to show my heart and mind…so much He wants to affirm and teach.  So much to learn.  So much to be grateful for and humbled to be apart of.  I might just talk about this trip all week long :)  Hope you’ll stick around.

Happy Tuesday.