Holy Work

This summer has been a rough one on my heart.  God has shown a giant spot light on a lot of really ugly stuff in my heart.  He keeps bringing them up over and over again despite my many attempts to push back and away…avert my eyes and then my junk just isn’t there right?!?!

I’ll totally admit most days I feel like I’m losing my mind a bit.  It’s been hard being at home with everybody.  I’ve felt overwhelmed, pulled in every direction and just flat out tired.  Can we all agree parenting is crazy hard?!?!  Sure I’d rather run errands and grocery shop alone, but when you have no groceries and you are currently the mother of 5, you suck it up and go to the grocery store.  Have to mail a package…load up kids.  Any number of other errands that just have to get done…put your shoes on and get in the van.  And it’s hard.  All you parents of 5+ kiddos are laughing at me.  Go ahead…knock yourselves out.  I will still admit to literally being in a full on sweat after leaving the post office with all the kids.  And mumbling curse words under my breath when we finally make it out of Walmart and back to the car.  Or telling myself how a level in purgatory will surely be the tiny, un-airconditioned bathroom stalls at the ballpark while your 3-year-old does a number two and wants to discuss “What’s that smell?”  I’ll say it again, parenting is hard.

I’ve noticed I often think of organized service for the Lord as being more “important” service.  I tend to think organized service means or counts more than buying a gift card for neighbors who just lost their jobs or baby sitting a friends kids to give her a break while her husband is out of town.  And even more so, this summer I’ve noticed I view my kids as annoyances and bothers who just keep me from being able to serve more and in “bigger and better” ways I’ve conjured up.  I’ve belittled mothering…I’ve deemed my job as unimportant.

I’d convinced myself if only I could get a little time alone to create more Gifter Project canvases or to serve in a more organized manner…”there’s this really great non-profit I’d love to help out with.”  If only my kids would be quieter then I could read my Bible and hear from the Lord.  The everyday million ins and outs of parenting have heaped right on top and brought me to my knees of about to lose my mind.  I would look back over our day and think “What did we actually do today?”  It was filled with all the tons of tiny things parents do for their kids and I saw zero importance…I viewed it as a wasted day…I counted it as not counting.

Then we were driving down the road and Harper said, “Do you like when we’re all out of the house away from you?”  I wanted to pull over and grab her face and kiss her cute lips and convince her I loved being with them every minute of every hour, but that wasn’t the truth and still isn’t.  We then talked about how hard it is to be a human because we’re all sinners.  How I love each of them and enjoy being with them, but also how sometimes I do like being alone…similar to when she likes to be alone in her room away from the boys and the wildness of our house.  I told them this summer had been hard…all of us being together all the time…and us all being sinners…and not making the right choices all the time.  I told them I was sorry if I had made them feel as if I didn’t want to be around them.  And they graciously forgave me.

I make mistakes…a lot…and belittling mothering is at the top of this list for me.  These little people who call me Mom count.  Josh Kelley and I have a chance to show 5 people Jesus who live right under our roof and lately I’ve just seen them as being in the way of “bigger and better” ways to show other people Jesus’ love.  I tell them over and over and over again during the day “Treat each other like you want to be treated.  It’s simple guys.  Just love God and love others.  Choose to be kind.”  And God is saying the same thing to me.  “Just treat them like you want to be treated Laura.  It’s simple.  Just love Me and love others.  Choose to be kind”

Here’s what I know:  Any work we do for the Lord is important, holy work.  Parenting isn’t the most important because we’re not all parents.  Running a non-profit isn’t the most important because we’re not all non-profit founders.  A 9-5 job where you’re an employee or a boss isn’t the most important.  Staying at home doing whatever it is you do isn’t the most important either.  Any and all work for the Lord is holy…counted…valued…important…for Him…no matter what we have convinced ourselves of otherwise.

 Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

I’m currently trying to re-work my brain and heart.  It’s hard because I’m still a sinner.  I’m never going to get this thing right all the time.  I’ve been thinking all this through my mind for well over a week and yesterday afternoon I sat in the bathroom and just cried so hard from feeling overwhelmed by this parent gig.  Amon came in and asked me if I was hurt.  When I reported no he replied with a quick “Okay” and bounded out 🙂  I wanted to hear myself think and create pretty colorful things.  I wanted to be alone.  And yet God keeps reminding me of the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  I haven’t been any of these to my kids.  So I continue to re-work my brain and heart.

God sees the state of my heart and I openly tell Him all about it because He alone is going to change it.  There’s hope and newness with the morning…like today can and actually will be different.  Just give me all the grace…grace upon grace.


Lately my mind has been overwhelmed with wrestling different thoughts and ideas.  Don’t you wish God wrote out His desires clean and clear in the sky…that there was no questioning or trying to figure out…that you just knew exactly what He wanted.  My heart is stewing big time and I’m having a hard time putting it to sleep at night.  Sometimes I feel like you can look at a subject from a million different directions and still not know what to do…or the right or the wrong…or maybe there is some gray areas every now and then.

We want our kids to know about injustice and I want them to be world changers and not entitled and I want them to care for others and love God passionately.  How do we go about teaching them and training them in this way?  What are God’s deep desires in this area for His children?  I want to enable them when ideas pour into their little minds.  Harper recently decided she wanted to help with a project we’re going to start soon to help raise money to purchase tables and chairs for Ngungwane…our care point in Swaziland.  I laid in bed and listened as she emptied her thoughts out onto my listening ears.  I really liked what I heard and I encouraged her to think about her talents and how God could use her.  She decided she would make art 🙂 Of course she did.  So we’re working on that.  We want our kids to know without any doubt that God can use them…at any age…in any place…however He wants.

I’m wrestling hard with Proverbs 30:7-9.  So many big swirling thoughts.

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.”

Desires are growing deeper and deeper that we must “go”.  I am hopeful I will make it back to Africa this year and maybe even a few other places.  How put out would you be if I called you up and asked you to watch 4 small children for an entire week?  What if I brought snacks?  And maybe a Kroger gift card?  Would you prefer cash instead?  What about cookies?  And maybe an entire gated area to put Amon in?  Would that make it easier for you to even consider our request 🙂

I have craft classes Friday and Saturday this week and as I prepare I find my heart stirring about what could come of these.  What could God do with a small group of random women crafting for a few hours each week?  What could He do with me…if I were completely willing and ready to give on so many different levels?  What could He do?  And the anticipation rises fast and hard and my heart swells just a little bit more.

And I’m reading this book and and holy crap.  Talk about wrestling thoughts…this book in insanely good and I just started it.  It has one of the best descriptions of grief I’ve ever heard…that when you lose someone who so deeply impacted your every single day life, it’s like you’ve been crippled.  You will learn to walk again, but you will always have a limp.  It also talks about so many other challenging things…things that make you want to change and move and act and that simply make you think…and hard.  So far…I highly recommend it.  I may have just purchased more copies to give away.

I know God is always working and moving.  I know He’s always leading us and stirring our hearts to love Him and others.  I know sometimes He just wants us to make a choice and act…to take a chance on Him and faith.

Happy Wednesday.

Raising Siblings

One of the things I pray for the hardest and plead to God about is the relationship between our kids.  They are sister and brothers.  They are best friends.  The bonds they share are deep and rooted.  I find myself constantly begging God to care and nurture their bonds throughout their lives.  I have the pleasure and hardship of mothering them.  I have the pleasure and hardship of watching them interact and fight and love each other.  I ask God to show Josh and I the best way to cultivate these tender bonds…to make them strong and unbreakable.  To show them each the best way to love one another.

I recently did an interview for our adoption agency about Solomon and Amon and noticed how the interview went towards our kiddo’s relationships with each other.  They all four share a very incredible attachment to one another.  They are each so unique which in turn makes their relationships with each other wonderfully unique and unmatched.  I laughed when I was getting quotes from each of them and Harper said, “It’s changed my life because my brothers get in my way a lot, but I still love them.”  They are kids and they are soooooo not perfect.  They fight like cats and dogs, but truly their love for each other is ginormous.  Huddy’s cracked me up as well, “Having brothers and a sister is good, but Harper never lets me in her room.”  So very true.

Harper and Amon have something special and unusual.  She’s giddy over him and little things about him absolutely make Harper’s day.  Not long ago she told us it’s easier to get up in the morning for school when she knows Amon is already awake.  She’s smitten.  And as is he.  He saves his biggest smiles for her.  He hugs her the tightest.  And when his speech therapist told us to make up signs for each family member, Amon nailed Harper’s immediately…and she beamed.

Hudson and Solomon of course share their own unique bond.  They don’t remember life without one another.  They are twins true and true.  I’ve been getting a little nervous about kindergarten and the decision to either keep them together or split them up.  I know they will be just fine either way, but I want them to be able to be independent of each other too.  The other day Huddy stayed home with me while Sol and Harper went out with Josh.  When they got back, Huddy ran down the driveway yelling “Sooooool.”  Sol ran up the driveway yelling, “Huuuuddy.”  And then they embraced as if they hadn’t seen each other in years…instead of the hour time frame.  It’s ridiculously sweet.  I want them to always be just that way.

And throw the four all together and life is crazy and hectic and fun and madness.  Everyday at some point I want to pull my hair out or run and hide, but when I think back over our days, the madness and insanity is so worth the relationships which are being forged.  They can drive each other nuts, but also play incredibly well together and are seriously each other’s biggest fans.  I do not want to be the kid that messes with one of them and endures the wrath of the others.  But sometimes feelings are hurt and individuals feel left out.  Frustrations flare.  They get angry with each other and make mistakes.  There are lots of apologies and a simple “Sorry” doesn’t cut it in our house.  We do real meaningful apologies…”I’m sorry because…”  “Do you forgive me?”  “I forgive you”.  And then there is forced hugging…lots of it.  In those hard moments I wish Jesus himself would just come on down and take over the parenting.  I don’t want to make mistakes…I don’t want to mess this ‘mom’ thing up, but when I do…when I don’t handle a situation right…when I fall flat on my face in the parenting realm…I say my apologies as well.

I get so caught up in all the wrong junk in this world.  I make things which are completely unimportant and frivolous my goals.  And then it hits me…these little humans…Josh…my relationships with those around me…those are the important things. I want all of 4 of them to know deep in their hearts the love of God and the love of each other.  I want them to be there for each other and chase after Jesus together…keeping each other accountable.  I want them to know they will always be loved and supported and cared for by one another no matter what.  Being siblings…being best friends…embracing each other fully…investing in each other’s hearts throughout their lives and Josh and I asking God to guide our every move along the way.

Rainy Day

It’s raining today making for a very lazy, dreary day…which I totally love.  Huddy, Sol and I have been laid up in the bed most of the morning.  Amon has been wreaking his usual overly happy havoc.

Huddy is working on his thank you notes today.  Thank you notes with small kiddos are time consuming, but this is something which is extremely important to me.  It was important to my mom…she instilled it in me and now I’m determined to instill this lost art in the Kelley kids.

I love Sharpies.  I should probably join Sharpies Anonymous.  The extra fine tipped push top ones are my most favorite.  True, true love.  Dang you Sharpie and your smooth, deep black ink.  I’m hopelessly in love with you.  Swoon.

Amon has started doing two new ‘fun’ things and by ‘fun’, I mean, slightly annoying in the most hilarious way.

1)  We have all this artillery hanging out all over our house and Amon has taken it upon himself to load up our floor vents and air conditioner return with said artillery.

2)  He also has started loading up his diaper with our magnet scrabble pieces.  I’ll spare you the picture of when I changed his diaper.  He probably needs to wear clothing more often.  #4thkid

I just found out two days ago that Harper is out of school Friday and all of next week.  Whaaaat?  Yeah, it’s this thing called Fall Break and we have been so insane lately I had no clue.  Convo from the car on Monday:

Harper:  Mom, we don’t go to school on Friday.

Me:  What?  Are you sure?  Why?

Harper:  Ms. Flowers said so.  And we don’t go any next week either.

Me:  Huh?  Why?  How did I not know this?

Harper:  I’m pretty sure.  I think it’s Fall Break.

Me:  Harper, this is amazing news.  I had no idea.  We need to plan something.

So yeah, I am the crazy busy parent who is clueless apparently.  Now a trip to hang with cousins is on the books.  Road trip anyone?

Huddy and Sol are becoming quite the educated 4 and 5-year-old on the history of weapons.  Seriously.  They love Huddy’s book and will sit for quite a while looking at each page and talking it over.  I love it.  Sign them up for the weapon themed Jeopardy asap.

Amon’s Star Wars ewok costume came in this week.  It may be one of the best parenting decisions Josh and I have made…Amon as an ewok.  It’s just so appropriate and hysterical.  I let him wear it all the time because it makes me happy.  I think the resemblance is uncanny.

And Harper lost another tooth yesterday.  Aaaaand the tooth fairy forgot to come.  Yep, she was a no-show.  Harper was devastated.  She didn’t understand why the tooth fairy had not come.  Josh and I were all like…maybe she’s super tired and run down…maybe she’s had a rough month…maybe she just completely forgot.  One of her good little buddies at school lost his tooth yesterday too.  And you know what…the tooth fairy forgot his tooth also.  Score.  Big win for all the tired, forgetful parents out there.  So maybe it was just her birthday or she was sick or on vacation.  Damn tooth fairy.  To make Harper feel better before sending her off to school I put Amon in his ewok costume and let him roam around while she ate breakfast.  Bad mood and tears were cured.  Everyone should have an ewok in their house.

Happy Wednesday.

T to the IRED

One day I’ll sleep more.  I just know it.  Surely.  Right?  One day I won’t be absolutely exhausted…like falling asleep in the car rider line.  Like nodding off while reading books.  Like wanting to lay down in Harper’s 1st grade classroom floor and take a little siesta after school.

Someone commented on FB “Where do you find the time?”  Ugh.  I wish I had a time maker because then I would make more time and still get sleep.  I’m beginning to wonder exactly how long one can run on not so much sleep.  I know I’ll do my infamous crash and burn eventually…and it won’t be pretty…it’s a vicious cycle.

There’s just so much I need and want to do and way too much to think about and honestly my mind runs just about all the time…until I fall asleep.  Then the alarm goes off far too early and I’m up and going again.  Sometimes I look back on a day and think, “What exactly did we do today?”  Some days are just like that.  I have all these little humans to some what care for and I’m pretty sure they are taking my brain cells as well 🙂  In fact, Amon just brought me two trivets from our kitchen.  What?  He cannot be trusted.

But I’m noticing how they are growing and changing and time is really slipping away fast.  Crazy fast.  I’ve been listening more intently to friends who have older kids…like kids in college and high school and the things they say and how they feel as their ‘babies’ are heading off to college or walking through this new generation which is so scary sometimes.  I’ve been listening to their words and advice they might not even know they are giving, but I’m tucking it away because it’s good, wise advice.  Advice from parents who have been there…they’ve weathered the “incredibly tired falling asleep in the car rider line” phase.  I want to take heed.  There are others who have gone before and I’m realizing I’ll be in their shoes before I know it because time is just a jerk like that.

So I’m incredibly tired today.  I could barely even put my thoughts together for this post.  In fact I’m about to read my 214th Berenstain Bear book for the day and we’ve rocked some therapy and I’ve worked on orders and room mom jazz and I’ve swept floors and cleaned other random things and I’ve fished more items than I would have liked out of the toilet today…cough, cough, Amon…and I am just so very tired.  And I look around at these little people…these little human beings which God entrusted Josh and myself with…and I know they won’t be little forever…and I like them…I really do.  But I’m still excited for bedtime and I don’t feel guilty about it one bit and I might even bump it up by 30 minutes and let us all get some extra much needed rest and quietness.  And for all those other tired mommas out there…working, stay-at-home, whatever you are…I hear ya…and I’m sitting asleep in the car rider line or traffic right along with you as the people behind you honk.  And to you I say, “Good job.  You rocked today.  You’re doing a damn fine job being the best mom you can be.  Kudos to you.  One day, surely, we’ll sleep.”

Happy Monday.

Krazy Kelleys

Life with kids is seriously so crazy and so hard and so fun.  Being a parent is not only amazing, but extremely hard.  I mean I love them like crazy…I only love Jesus and Josh more…so they’re pretty high up on my list.  Life with the wee Kelleys is never dull…never, ever, ever dull.

I struggle just like most parents out there to find balance and to be fun, but firm and to not lose my ever loven’ mind every day and to be patient and to love hard and to care and instill and invest and apologize when I yell and make mistakes.  That’s a lot to try and do on my own.

One of my goals for this year is to let God have His children back because I’ve been holding them a bit too tightly and acting as if they really are mine, when they are really God’s and He’s just entrusted Josh and I with them for a bit.  So I’m trying to get back to letting God teach me how to parent His wee Kelleys.

That’s kind of hard for me to do because I have these little pictures and all these dreams for what I imagine Harper, Hudson, Solomon and Amon will be.  And then God reminds me, “Maybe that’s not what I have planned for them Laura.”  This past year, more than ever, I have been learning to embrace and love and cherish the fact that God has walked our days out ahead of us and to plan in pencil because God has His plans and they far exceed anything I could ever imagine.

So I’m learning to let Him guide me in this crazy thing called “parenting.”  It’s terribly hard for me, but goodness knows this is a lesson I have needed to learn…I’m pretty good at botching things up and there are 4 wee Kelleys who I certainly don’t want to botch.

And a high-5 or fist bump to all you parents out there today because certainly you could use a bit of encouragement…this is not an easy task, that’s for sure.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Happy Wednesday.

PS:  Giveaway ends tonight at midnight.  So excited to see who the three winners will be.  CLICK HERE to enter.  Hooray.