Summer’s Got Me Like Whoa

You guys…we officially have 8 week days until school starts back.  I cannot even believe it.  My brain is even more officially gone…more so than normal.  I’m thinking the first day of all children being in school I’m going to go to the wave pool all alone and have an uninterrupted thought.  I might do a massive cannonball in the deep end and have a lifeguard take my pic.  I might eat lunch from the concession stand and only carry one single solitary pool bag and wait for it…a book.  I might get a snow cone and not share with anyone.  I might just lay on a float, tilt my head back and close my eyes.  These are all real thoughts in my head.  We have seriously milked summer for all its worth, but I think we’re all ready for back-to-school and all it’s maniac craziness which ensues with the start of August.

A few things:

1)  I am going to be starting back up Bible journaling classes and online Bible journaling classes.  There’s been interest in a middle/high school class for girls and I could not love the idea more.  I’ve done several now for that age range and they are always a blast.  Let me know if you are interested in any classes and scheduling.  You can email or message me HERE.  As always, all money from classes will be given away to do some sort of good in our world.

2)  My friend Cindy is doing some more website design and re-design.  She is awesome…like I totally love her.  Funny, smart, quick.  Loved working with her and totally recommend her.  I hope you guys know by now when I love a company or person who just does their thing so well, ethically and honestly…I love to share about them.  I only recommend people who I think are legit, so if you are looking for a web lady, she’s your girl.  Contact her at cindy at cindywarren dot com or check out her site HERE.

3)  We recently discovered Chuck’s Sno Cones and might have a problem…if having a problem looks like 3 snow cones in 5 days…we were on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday rotation.  I am seriously such a kid.  I would think about what flavors I was going to try next and even text my niece about them.  I’m pretty much ridiculous.

My combos for the week consisted of grape/orange, cherry/lemon lime and grape/sour grape.  Sour grape is so yummy.  A total plus is Amon not really caring what he gets, but just being excited about a snow cone in general which meant I got to pick his combos too and therefore double taste tested…cherry/peach, sour grape/raspberry and mango/tigers blood…to which he asked if they cut a real tiger…I die.  I soooooo love a good shaved ice snow cones so if you’re a local, check them out.

4)  I hope by now you also know we love our local wave pool…or more profesh sounding Wave Country.  It has been our summer hang for years now.  We couldn’t love it more.  My kind friend Ashley works there and every summer we officially become her “regulars”.  It’s just what we do.  I have to admit we started off slow in June…there was Africa and Florida and Fall Creek Falls which left little time to wave pool it up.  Ashley text me near the end of June and said it was almost July and she had hardly seen us.  I promised we would make up for lost time in July and boy have we.  We are now like 3-times-a-weekers.  The 3 things I love most about the wave pool:

ONE) Ashley.  She’s the best and always does things like lets me charge my completely dead phone or comes and sits in the water with me or let’s us see the kittens in her office to which Amon almost went all Lenny on from Of Mice And Men…he just could not contain his excitement.  Sigh.  And honestly the rest of the staff is great too.  I’ve never encountered one unkind person.  All the lifeguards are kind and give us smiles and when our littlest makes a mad dash and hops on a slide to try and fling herself down solo, the slide girl always nabs her until I catch up.  The best.

TWO)  The water, waves and sun.  Of course.  No brainer.

And THREE)  It’s crazy diverse.  I always sit and think…I bet this is similar to heaven.  It is hands down the most diverse place we go.  Even more than our school and our school is pretty diverse.  I mean, there are people of every color and race and from every walk of life.  I could not love it more.  It’s basically our church of summer.  And sometimes I find myself thinking why is the wave pool of all places so insanely wonderfully diverse…I usually land on Tennessee humidity + water + accessibility + available to all.  If you’re local, again, you should definitely check it out.

 And 5)  Last week Hudson had allergy testing done again.  It was crazy.  We were there for over three hours and if I could show our littlest’s face I would share a picture of her absolutely losing her mind at hour 3.  We were all completely DONE by the time the appointment ended, but we did get a lot of answers we have been looking for.  He was tested for over 80 things and ended up being allergic to close to 50.  I couldn’t even keep up.

(This was before the appointment…our spirit had diminished by the end :)

He’s basically allergic to everything outside…just call him the bubble boy…which weekly allergy shots should help, but we’re also having to kick dairy to the curb.  We don’t do a ton of dairy anyways, but ummmmm, butter & pizza…say it aint so.  And now that I am having to check ingredient lists milk and soy are in lots of things.  So, here’s my question to any of you non-dairy people out there…I’d love to hear some of your favorite products and snacks.  Hudson’s love language is food so I’m looking to find some good stuff he can still enjoy.  Dairy-free peeps lay it on me.

That’s it.

Happy Tuesday!

Lettering On

I cannot say how much I am still loving the 30 Days of Bible Lettering Challenge.  It’s challenging and creative and let’s me focus in on one particular scripture.  There’s still time to join in if you’d like to.  You can check it out HERE or follow along on Instagram with me HERE.

Here are my days 16-20.

 Another week is here and we are officially 12 days away from the start of school.  Crazyness.  This week we’ll be trying to soak up every last second of the sun and fun.  Enjoy your Monday!

Oceans

Last night me and some friends went to the Hillsong United concert here in Nashville.  My friend Courtney is an inviter.  She hears about things she knows we would love to do or attend and then asks.  We had an absolute blast and loved the concert.  I thought 5 million times while we stood and worshipped with this giant crowd of people how privileged we are.  We worship in freedom and without fear.  I thought how this was just a tiny minute glimpse at what heaven must be like.  I tell my kids often when they ask questions about Heaven, “Angles sing “Holy. Holy. Holy.” without stopping.  Everyone sings His praises.”  What that must be like blows my mind.

If you haven’t heard Hillsong’s Oceans song then you’re totally missing out.  You must listen asap.  It’s an older song and pretty sure forever famous at this point, but still pulls my heart in real tight like Jesus is saying oh so gently, “Listen up, I’ve got something new.”

I remember the first time I ever heard Oceans was in church well over two years ago.  I had been feeling God prompting our family towards foster care, but wasn’t sure what that was going to look like, what avenue or if we were even going to jump in.  I remember just crying as I sang along.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

Last night when they started playing this now iconic worship song tears immediately welled up.  This sweet and fiery little girl and her momma and daddy are still in our lives.  We’re all still fighting for reunification and for family.  We’re all still fighting for love and our family would have missed the whole dang beautiful mess if we hadn’t stepped right out into those unknown waters.  I still can’t believe we’ve been doing this foster care business for almost 2 years and have only had one placement.  God knew we needed this little girl.  God knew we needed her family.  God knew we needed each other.  God knew we needed to be pushed out into what was so uncomfortable and honestly can still be.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I feel it again in my bones and heart.  The push.  The call to the unknown.  The call to the uncomfortable.  Fear rises and yet, Jesus is peace within my anxious sinful heart.  This life is just a vapor…a snippet…a blink of an eye…how will we make it count for Him…how will we bring Him glory?  How will we love?  I can easily get so comfortable and tell myself I deserve a break for a bit.  I can fool myself into thinking I really know “suffering” and yet, I really have zero clue.  My life is riddled with privilege and ease.  I see news headlines and talk of refugees and brothers and sisters dying imaginable deaths for Him.  And here I sit thinking I deserve a little something for my effort put forth so far.  Like I’ve earned anything.  I’m a mockery.  The only thing I’ve really earned is hell and Jesus took that one on for me and you.

I remember I was so thrilled about starting this foster care journey and yet crazy scared.  We had not a clue as to what it was going to be like.  Fear of the unknown was overwhelming.  We would never have wandered into this kind of love without God pushing us here, but that’s what God does…He pushes us towards the unknown…towards the uncomfortable and stands with us as we stare fear in the face…and then we find Him right in the mist of it all…His love and grace and mercy…and He makes us better because of it all.  He shows us Himself.  And we are so undeservingly forever changed yet again.

So I continue to lift my voice to Him every morning re-surrendering it all.  Laying it all down again and again and again because by most nights I’ve collected all “my things” and clinched them tight in my fists.  I repeat “Anything God.  I’ll go, do, be, act, love…anything You ask of me…anything God…my answer is Yes.”  And I pray like crazy He is my courage and strength to actually say that yes.

A Little On Genesis

I started this Bible journaling journey almost 2 years ago now and what a journey it has been.  I always say “Complete game changer”.  I also always say sarcastically “Who knew actually reading the Bible and praying and looking for answers when I don’t understand a scripture would change me”.  It totally has.  God’s word has rocked my world and heart and continues to do so everyday.  I get emotional over His words and scriptures make me sob.  I sit with Him almost everyday and beg Him to sit with me too…to be near me…to not let me leave our time together unchanged.  It’s the wildest best ride I’ve been on.

I’ve been participating in the 30 Days of Bible Lettering each day so I have’t been sharing many Bible journaling pictures.  Thought I’d share some today.  I am still a super slow reader and do miss days here and there so I am still in Genesis.  I take small bites of scripture each day and try and savor ever last little bit them…per my friend Di’s words for me…she’s crazy kind and knows how I love food.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Bible journaling lately and how much I truly love reading God’s word now.  I haven’t had any classes this summer at all and I miss them big time.  I’ve got some classes on the books including being back at Created For Care next year.  It simply delights my ever loving heart.  I love talking about this subject…one of my favorite things to do.  I love talking about God’s words.  I love being creative.  I love meeting new women.  So mix all three of those up and it’s just a dream.  A lovely lovely dream.

It’s so interesting to me as I read and see each book of the Bible can be so different and yet have these same underlining themes…love, compassion, mercy, and so on.  Crazy vastly different stories…I mean Genesis has gotten straight up weird at points, but then God is still the same.  He is the constant and His commission to us as His children is the same no matter the storyline.

Genesis also talks about obedience a lot…how important our obedience to Christ is and what a game changer this is too.  I also have loved loved loved the dialogue between the people in Genesis and God.  They speak together often.  His children go to Him with their questions and doubt and He answers them.  He comes to them and spends time with them and guides them.  I loved how in person God feels even though He’s not physically walking among them anymore.  I love God’s devotion and love for us…His genuine concern He feels for us…He desires a real relationship with us…He longs for us.  Relationships are highlighted all throughout Genesis.

Little by little I’m making my way through this beautiful book which reaches straight inside my head and heart and just tears stuff wide open in the best kind of way.  He just doesn’t stop going to work on me and I’m so grateful.  Praying He challenges and pushes and loves me wildly all the days of my life.

Kickin’ The Week Off

I’m still moving along with the 30 Days of Bible Lettering challenge.  I wanted to kick the week off with the verses for days 10-15.  It’s not too late to join in.  Check out all the details HERE.  And you can follow along with me on Instagram HERE.

 I am still Bible journaling, but haven’t shared any pictures lately since I’ve been doing the scripture lettering.  I plan on sharing some inspiration pics this week.  Genesis has been so good.  Definitely pushing me and teaching me things I really needed to hear.

Hope your weekend was good.  Hope your Monday is even better.  Here’s to another week…let’s love the heck out of this world and each other.

BLM Vigil

I re-read yesterday’s post and honestly felt like a straight up fraud.  Yesterday I chose to go back into my “share randomness” mode because I just wasn’t sure what else to say.  I received a really honest, genuine and sincere card in the mail this week and cried my ever loving eyeballs out.  I text my friend and told her how much her words meant to me and my heart.  I also told her how cuss word sad I’ve been.  And that is the truth.  I have just been so so sad lately.  I am covered in children whom I totally love every day, but it’s been hard to balance lots of emotions and feelings plus children so come bedtime I stay awake a majority of the night crying and praying and thinking.  And it all sounds so ridiculous because here I sit a white privileged woman.  I haven’t an ounce of a clue.  I read something yesterday that said “When you talk about what is happening to black people in this country, you’re probably going to do it wrong.  Actually, you’re definitely going to do it wrong.  So what.  Listen to why and how you’re doing it wrong and say it better. Do better.”  I copied this, but now can’t find the article it was from.  I don’t want fear of getting it wrong or saying it wrong to keep me silent.  I want to listen and learn and stand.

Last Friday we woke to the Dallas shooting and decided how we would not choose sides, but would stand with both groups of hurting people.  Our way wasn’t ground breaking or life altering…it was just us…what we know…baking and drawing & coloring.  So we baked treats for our local police station on our road and worked on drawing & coloring posters for the Black Lives Matter vigil in Nashville we were attending that night.

I loved seeing what each of my kiddos chose for their posters.  And I love that Solomon felt comfortable enough to choose Blak Livs Mater for his own.  Part of my job as a momma is to be a safe place…for my kids to know they are heard and listened to and to allow them to process things…especially hard things.  Sol debated between Black People Count or Black Lives Matter.  We had already discussed with them about the vigil along with different things they might see and hear.  We had already addressed what Black Lives Matter meant and what it stands for and explained we stand with this movement too.

I have seen and heard and read all kinds of words and noise since Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the Dallas Five took place and a lot of it is hurtful and divisive…just what Satan loves.  When it comes the the Black Lives Matter movement this is the best things I’ve read about it hands down:

“Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Samaritan lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Children’s lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.”

Even though Jesus loves everyone, even to the point of dying for their sins, he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice.

So saying “Black Lives Matter” and participating in a movement seeking justice, positive reform, and empowerment is one of the most Christ-like things we can do.”

-Stephen Mattson

Before heading out to the vigil we dropped our littlest off with Josh’s sister.  She’s 2 and we just weren’t sure how late we would be and 2-year-olds are hard.  Then Amon decided he wanted to stay with Aunt Jen too, so it ended up being just the big kids.

I’ll be completely honest I got nervous driving down to the vigil/protest.  The news of Dallas had people reeling and we even got a request asking us not to attend.  There was some fear looming, but this was something we needed to do as a family.  We needed to stand even if it was with shaky knees.

The whole experience was just beautiful and holy.  I cried.  The kids asked questions.  They held their signs high…especially Hudson.  They lit their candles…Solomon oh so tenderly kept his ablaze shielding it from wind.  We listened and chanted.  We joined together with a 1000 other people from every race, color, ethnicity and walk of life.  Once we were there, all fear diminished.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

The Nashville police were kind and respectful as were the protestors.  I saw hugs exchanged.  People going out of their way to chat and talk and pray with the police officers.  They had people speak on behalf of different communities standing with our brothers and sisters against racial injustice…LGBT, Muslim, White, Latino.  At the end, we all spread out and made a giant circle to pray.  It was absolutely gorgeous.

We headed home afterwards.  It was this strange feeling of deep sadness because these vigils & protests happen and yet honor to stand together.  I want our children to see with their own eyes and know we will stand…we will not be silent anymore.

I wanted to share some more links.  At this point so many other people are saying things far better than I ever could.

Dear White Christian Women, so so good.

“I know it’s my privilege to serve a savior that is near to the broken hearted. But I want to walk alongside a community of believers that are near to me as well. Sadly…that’s just not the case. For every ‪#‎AltonSterling‬ and ‪#‎TamirRice‬, I notice an overwhelming silence from my white Christian sisters. It’s deafening. I support every missional cause that my white Christian sisters push on social media for every impoverished country. But where is my community of believers when injustice is happening right in our own backyard? Is it less of a cause because there are no artisanal crafts to sell in honor of the slain?”

The Moment I Watched Alton Sterling Die

“I don’t have all the answers. But I believe that if we begin to use our voices in whatever form that takes we can move our communities in the right direction. The solutions that we are searching for are within each and every one of us. If you are reading this you need to know that everything you need to impact your community, your city, your world is already on the inside of you. As we uncover our individual purposes collectively we become stronger. We become whole.”

No Love No Freedom

“My husband and I were at a restaurant recently when I spotted a young black man wearing a T-shirt with the words “I am harmless” on the front. Those three words on a T-shirt capture the fear of most of my black male friends and those of us who love them, and to a good extent the fear of my black female friends as well.  Wherever a society lacks love, that’s precisely where it lacks freedom. Sometimes that lack of love is expressed in the laws of the land themselves (since laws are written by fallen and empowered people who often don’t love well); other times, it’s expressed despite the myriad of laws that are meant to guarantee freedom. That’s because freedom does not precede, nor can it produce, love; it’s love that precedes and creates freedom. For all.”

An Open Letter From An Admitted Racist 

“Was I too weak to participate in someone else’s world? Am I too weak to feel uncomfortable with someone else’s truth? My identity is so tied to being a strong woman, my ego really couldn’t swallow this idea of not being strong enough.  So, I stepped forward. I started engaging. I started asking questions. I started listening. I started being okay with being uncomfortable. I showed up.  And this “other” world broke open to me. It has been a steep journey but I have made progress. Step by step, I have allowed myself to live in the unknown. The experience not only has awakened me, it has made me more whole. More integrated.  I have come to realize that so many concepts and phrases I believed made me NOT a racist were the things that proved that I am a racist.”

When another morning is greeted with more deaths and more hate in our world…while we join in prayer for France we are clinging to Jesus and his ability to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.  So when things feel hopeless, we trust in Him to make things hope filled.

Julyness

4th of July was pretty awesome this year.  Every year we go out on canoes and paddle out right underneath a large local firework display.  We are so close and you can literally feel the grand finale in your body.  It’s crazy.

For the actual 4th some of Josh Kelley’s family came over.  We did our own amateur firework display.  Josh taught the big kids how to shoot bottle rockets on their own…with watchful parental supervision.  Hudson and Solomon seriously went to bed with faces covered in ash and soot and ginormous smiles plastered across their faces.  Hudson wrote in his journal the next day about how awesome it was Dad taught him how to use a lighter.  I love boys!!!  We had BBQ nachos and ribs and cookies and more homemade ice-cream.  There were card games until far too late.  A total blast.

Summer is for sure wearing on our sleep habits.  I have a feeling the start of school might just about kill us.  We are so in the routine of staying up for late nights and sleeping in for late mornings.  It is crazy rare to drive just about anywhere lately and the two littles not to dose off.

Just give me all those summer sunsets. Every.Last.Single.One. Summer forever…until I officially lose my mind and can’t take it anymore :)

 Working has been super hard this summer.  I finally finished up a bunch of orders…all key fobs…last week.  I still have name pillows and some art orders just waiting.  I went up to my cloffice…closet/office…and then this.

 

I cannot escape them and they must be with me at all times!!!!!  Josh brought home Hook from the library the other day and I cried when the mom started talking about how little time we actually have with our children.  I’m trying to soak these days up.  One day far too soon these days will be gone and I’ll be chasing after them for attention.  Leave it up to Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman to speak parenting wisdom.

 I do love all the down time for summer which makes our kids be creative and use their imaginations to fill their days.  We are not a go-and-do-all-the-time family…we can’t be…funds and energy are lacking :)  I do love to see what they come up with to play.  The other day we were leaving to run some errands…we walked out to the van and it was surrounded by orange soccer cones and this was on my windshield.

I died laughing.  It totally made my day.

A $2 calculator I swiped at a thrift store has come in handy.  They wear it out and set up stores and libraries, etc.  Today they had a full on barber shop.  Hudson asked, “Hey do you care if we really cut out hair?”  Why yes, yes I do care if you really cut your hair.

Amon and our littlest often can get excluded from the big kids’  play time because they get the crazies so easily…more so our littlest.  The 2 of them are always coming up with new things to play once they get the big kid boot…they speak each other’s language.  The are constantly stripping all the cushions from our couch to make either A) A boat or B) A puppy home.  Their newest game is ping pong.  DVD cases serve as their paddles, our coffee table is their ping pong table and the ball is actually a tiny plastic pumpkin.  It’s hilarious.

We finally made it out to the drive in movie the other night…despite not seeing either movies…it was a double feature…and they had technical issues so zero movie viewings actually took place.  But we had a blast anyways.  And got free passes to come back.

And our daily quiet time has been my saving grace this summer.  1 hour.  No talking.  Everybody’s body is still.  You must journal and then read and if you want you can sleep.  That’s it.  MY SANITY!!!!

Now the sun and friends are calling our name today and we’re answering.

Happy Thursday!

We Needed Today

Plain and simple…today was good.  We so needed a good day.  We needed some rest and some chill time.  Emotions have been running so high.  Hearts are down trodden.  Sleep has been little.  We’ve just been kind of down, but today…today was our day plus Solomon’s gotcha day.

Donuts and chocolate milk per Solomon’s request for breakfast.  Hallelujah!  I cannot believe it’s been 7 years since they placed this sweet baby in our arms.  Our lives have been richer ever since.

Despite our next move of the day being to the dentist office for me to get a crown I would not let that bring us down.  The kids got to hang with grandparents while I totally stressed out alone in the dentist waiting area.  I do not dentist well.  I’m a mess.  I haven’t always been until my Great Terrible Dental Saga of 2014/2015…yes the same saga extended into two different years.  Then I got a new dentist, but the anxiety still looms.  I sat in the waiting area and found this picture:

Then I cried.  Alone.  In my dentist’s lobby.  I was pretty much a mess.  That’s baby Solomon on his actual Gotcha Day…like our forever moment.  It kills me.  Then they called me back for my appointment.  I’ve never had laughing gas before, but I actually asked to be fully sedated…we compromised and I got the gas.  After some time on the gas…which is top notch by the way…like can I just take this stuff with me…do you have a portable kind you loan out…maybe on rollers…I digress…my dentist came in and asked what we were celebrating today and I flat out started to cry.  I AM A MESS YOU GUYS.  I told her how awesome Solomon is and told her what we were celebrating and how I was just going down memory lane in the lobby with all my dental stress and so of course I cried.  Long story short:  I’m a mess.  I hate going to the dentist, but laughing gas makes the world a better, less dental anxiety kind of place.  Solomon rocks.  The end.

From there I picked the kids up leaving behind our youngest behind because ummmmmm, she’s 2, can’t swim and a tad difficult at the wave pool…by a tad difficult I mean sometimes she makes me cry :) and Solomon asked if we could wave pool for his day.  Nene and Big Daddy gladly kept her for the afternoon.

Sidenote:  I found out later that Big Daddy brought everyone Oreo McFlurries at like 9 am because #solomonsgotchaday  Grandparents are fun!!!!  End sidenote.

Solomon got to pick lunch.  He chose Sonic because Solomon loves hot dogs and can’t ever get enough hot dogs.  Example:  The other day we had hot dogs for dinner.  The following morning after Sol woke up I asked him what he wanted to fix for breakfast.  He responded with “Do we have any more hotdogs?”  NO YOU CANNOT EAT HOT DOGS FOR BREAKFAST.  He’s been jonesen every since, but today he got his hot dog fix.

Wave Country was the bomb…as always, but today there was hardly anyone there.  This picture was around 3 hours after opening.

Josh asked Sol at dinner how he felt about us renting out the wave pool for his gotcha day just so he could have the place to himself :)  It was so empty and awesome.  We swam and jumped in the deep end and did the slides over and over and over again.  I never feared once that someone was drowning today.  And I didn’t lose anyone either.  Fist bump.

Why yes they are sitting on the sprayers to make it look like they are peeing.  Proud mom moment.

We stayed all afternoon and finally headed out to go pick up our littlest.  Then home just in time for dinner…white chicken chili…on a sweltering July day…per Solomon’s request.  He also asked for homemade Africa brownies and homemade mint Oreo ice-cream.  Josh Kelley has used his ice-cream maker 3 times since July 4th.  We don’t play.

Then we headed out to Amon’s tee ball game.  YOU GUYS!!!!  Amon + tee ball = the cutest thing in all the lands.  Plus lots of our favorite people showed up to cheer Amon on and love on Solomon.  It was the best night with friends and family.

Then bedtime and MLB All-Star game.  And maybe some more ice-cream.

Let me recap…it was THE BEST day…just what we needed.

Solomon Kelley we can’t thank God enough for you.  We are truly ridiculously blessed to have you as our son.  We’re madly in love with you and always will be!!!!

Happy Tuesday!