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.

Ocotal, Nicaragua

What a weekend.  What a week.  I was a little absent last week because I left last Sunday early in the am headed to Ocotal Nicaragua and just arrived home last night.  It was such a great week and really nice to be off the grid a bit…really focused in on Jesus’ love for others and for myself.  It was nice to take a break from work and life at home and even our sweet kiddos.  And It was crazy wonderful to serve along side Josh Kelley and the entire Full Count Ministries team we were with.  Josh was able to do 2 weeks back to back in Ocotal and I know it blessed him and challenged him and encouraged him.  I loved being able to join him for the second week.

We love Africa, especially Ethiopia and Swaziland because of heart connections which run deep, but I never want to be singled in on one place only.  I never want to convince my heart it can only be in and love a minimal amount of places.  God is my Savior and He owns my life and heart and He has given me the ability to love and love big.  I never want to feel I can only love one special place because our world is vast and filled with beautiful people everywhere who were created in God’s image.  God’s love through me and you is just as vast…a bucket which is constantly filled and dumped out on one another and people everywhere and it never runs dry.  That’s what God does.  And His love is going all over the world with or without us, but how humbled I am when He chooses me to be one of His vessels.  When opportunities arise to go into new places I want to be completely open to them, so when the Nicaragua trip was opened to woman I signed up.  I wanted to see and experience this amazing place and it’s amazing people.

I’m always so honored to experience some else’s home…their country…their ways…their culture…their joys…their hurts and hardships…their hearts.  I know it’s a privilege and I don’t take it lightly at all.  God has been really working on me about the fact that everyone’s story carries weight and worth.  Our stories are valuable and important and speak so loud and clear as to why we are the people we are…the good and bad…the saved and unsaved.  No ones’ story carries more worth than anothers. God came for everyone and there should be no margins and yet we fill our lives with them.  The place we live, where we shop, where we send our kids to school, our church home, the parts of town we choose not to venture into…most of life is marginalized because we’re afraid of some peoples’ stories around us…we’re fearful.

I’ve spent a large portion of my life being fearful and God is really working on me about this fear.  I feel Him pushing and inching me closer to the edge where He’s just waiting and reminding me He is the God of the universe.  Do I really trust Him?  Do I trust Him with our kids…do I trust Him with our life, home, money, time…do I really trust Him enough to let go and venture out into His adventure of discovering and listening and caring for anyone’s story…not just family and friends and people on mission trips in other countries, but my neighbors and the strangers who fill the streets around me.

I struggle.  It’s not easy.  My heart races and I can be quite introverted usually preferring to just sit tight at home.  I don’t do well talking to strangers.  I feel like I’m ill-equipped and terrible at small talk.  My palms sweat and my fingers fidget.  I’m a mess, but I know I can love.  God has confirmed in my heart over and over and over again I can love.  And I can tell people that He loves them.  This past week He reminded me it’s just not about me and my insecurities of getting this thing right.  It’s not about what I feel ill-equipped to do.  I think He likes the areas where I feel not my strongest because it gives Him a chance to show off.  He takes my weakness and uses it for His glory.  He swoops in and gathers up the glory because He rightly deserves it.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

This post could go on for days. My head is absolutely swirling with a big jumble of thoughts and ideas and joy and hope and still some fear. I can’t wait to share more thoughts on this trip.  It was just so good.

I’ve mentioned Full Count a lot on here because it is such an important part of our life and I hope you’ve gone over to their site to read up on and check them out.  If not, please do.  You can find them on Facebook HERE, Twitter HERE and Instagram HERE.  What a work God is doing through this ministry and these people.  More tomorrow.  Right now I’ve got to go love on some Kelley kids.  I’m thinking after some good speech therapy we’ll declare it a chill day at home…puzzle working, book reading, lego assembling, movie watching and maybe some chickfila for lunch.  Easing back in to life.

Happy Monday.  It’s good to be home.

OnlyGirlism

Summer has brought about a new small problem for Harper…I like to call it OnlyGirlism.  She’s a bit lonely…feeling singled out…being the only girl.  The boys are not so much game to play school or dolls with her all the time.  And even when they turn her down nicely, it still cuts deep.  She takes it personally.  All summer I’ve heard “I need a sister” or “I would really like a sister” or “It’s hard being the only girl.”  And I get it.  Hudson, Solomon and Amon are wild energetic full on boys.  Harper is laid back, easy going and just wants to teach you how to read.

One day while I washed dishes she walked in, slammed a picture of Josh, baby Harper and myself right beside me on the counter and said, “I wish it was still like this.”  We ended up having a long talk about the root of the problem.  She didn’t really wish her 3 favorite boys were no more, she just wished they wanted to play with her more…that she felt included.  So we made a plan.

She got out her pink notebook and wrote down a list of some of her little girl friends she would like to invite for a playdate.  Over the summer we have been moving through this list.  And she has just beamed each and every time.  It makes her feels good.  It makes her feel valued and special.  It gives her some girl time, which I know she needs.

Last week we had the rare occasion where the boys were invited to spend the night with a friend and Amon had MDO the next day.  So we invited Kylee, one of Harper’s friends, over to join us for a girls day and sent the boys on their way.

They played and chatted.  We picked up jelly beans and ate them at like 9 in the morning.  We enjoyed the Wave Pool…swimming, slides, lunch pool side.  The best.  They had the most fun.  And so did I.

I so enjoy Harper with sweet friends.  I enjoy watching her revel is little ladyness.  I enjoy her sweet feminine side.  I enjoy that she’s my girl…and us girls have to stick together, lean in on each other, help each other figure out what is deep at root sometimes and then hatch a plan.  It’s what we do…and I hope I always get to help Harper do just those things…because being a girl…having a girl…is rad!

Happy Tuesday!

5 Years Home

It seems like yesterday and yet it seems like forever ago when the sweetest little Ethiopian baby boy was placed in our arms.  I remember so many special details about the day, but specifically how I was overwhelmed with gratitude and amazement that we would have the honor to be his Mom and Dad.  Solomon was a gift which has blessed us beyond our wildest imagination.  Saturday was his Gotcha Day…5 years home.  Each year comes and goes and each year I am still overcome with emotion.

As we were walking through Kroger on Friday evening I broke down in tears right there in the frozen food section searching for his ice cream sandwiches he had requested.  It had been a long, exhausting week…my mind had even forgotten about his day…and I became completely overwhelmed just the same as I was when they placed him in my arms…an honor, a blessing, humbled, crazy grateful.

So he planned his day.  Starting with Krispy Kreme donuts.

Bike riding.

Swimming, of course.

For lunch he wanted spicy chicken taco salad with chips, salsa and apples.

Ice cream sandwiches and Rio movie watching.

Chickfila for dinner and some evening playtime at his grandparents house.

It was a really great day.  Just what we needed…celebrating such an amazing kid and such an amazing day for our family.  Solomon Kelley…you are crazy good.  I absolutely love being your mom and I cannot thank God enough for your life.  You are truly a gift my son!  Love you tons!

Happy Monday!

Hello Weekend!

It’s a hot Friday night around here.  Tired eyes.  Already laying in bed.  Blogging.  Whoa!

Today we had fun…productive fun.  Which meant running some errands and doing loads of laundry and all kinds of other productivey things.  We even ate lunch at one of my most favorite places…Sams.  I may not have a Sams membership, but I do have my old expired Sams card, which gets us in the doors and eating pizza and the most amazing ginormous icees.  I’m crazy picky about my icee consistency.  It cannot be too runny or it’s just straight up ruined.  It must be high end icee frozen drink consistency and Sams nails it every time.  And their pizza…let’s make out.  The best.  We always skip the individual slices and go for the full blown pizza because A) We like pizza and can easily hammer an entire pie and B) You get fresh, yummy, oh so greasy, ‘get in my belly’ ‘we love your polka dot bottom crust’ pizza.  Now I’ll dream of pizza.

And let’s break the above picture down for a minute.  A few notes:  1) Solomon always will make a goofy face…always.  2)  Harper: adorable, but blinked.  C) Amon is very angry because his pizza is hot and the dinky plastic fork which he refers to as a “poon” will not hold said hot pizza.  The nerve of the Sams cafe workers for making his pizza hot.  #aholes   And then 4) Hudson.  Dude loves his food and doesn’t care if it scalds the roof of his mouth off.  When he’s in the zone, he’s in the zone.

In other news, more orders were completed as well.  I’ve had a slammed packed week.  Working like crazy.  These are all headed out to Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Idaho and Ohio.  I love it.  Thank you so much for ordering and trusting me to create unique and special items for you!  It’s such an honor.

18×18 50th wedding anniversary.  I love hearing all the ideas customers have for a piece and then putting their ideas into action.

4×12 Mumford and Sons canvas

And name pillows…lots and lots of name pillows.

Thank you again so very very much.  You are keeping my mind and hand creating.

Now I think I’m going to get even more crazy and close my eyes.  Going to bed at 10:20 on a Friday night…this kind of thing never happens.  Watch out!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Happy Friday!

It’s What I Do

It’s kind of been a few days since I totally went on a random tangent.  You missed my completely unrelated random rants didn’t you?!??!  Well be disappointed no more.

I am so flippin’ tired.  I have been hitting the bed in the wee hours of the morning all for the sake of orders.  I sent a sweet customer an email 6 nights ago and told her it may be about 3 weeks before I have her order completed…I finished it last night.  Yeah, super late nights people, but way productive.  Courtney got this picture yesterday morning titled “Well, I’m tired.”  I’m determined to get this order list dwindled down.  #cantstopwontstop

4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  Not quite up there with Halloween and the birth of Jesus, but close.  It’s the sparklers and the tradition of going out on canoes to watch fireworks.  Gets me every time.

photo cred to my FIL for that little canoe beauty^

2-year-olds + old school life jackets = totes adorbs.  (I’ve learned this lingo from my nephew…totes=totally…adorbs=adorable…you’re welcome)

We’re swimaholics.  Addicted.  It’s bad.  I don’t even want to think about school starting.  How will we survive.  We’re pool/water feans.  Over the top.  And I love it.  Every part of it.  Except when Amon poops in a swim diaper…holy crap…literally.  #cantstopwontstop…again

Hudson and Solomon got haircuts.  Hudson got a free cut at the Nashville Sounds game behind the right field wall.  That’s normal right?!?!  I took Sol in for a fresh short summer cut from Mr. Jesse at the barber shop.  I think shorter haircuts allows for an even longer time frame between baths.  No?!?!

I’m taking a 2 week break from running.  I haven’t taken that long off in over 2 years, but it feels good to give my legs and knees a bit of a break.  I’ve subbed in some at home workouts which draw quite the crowd every single time.

More legos.  All.The.Time.  All.Day.Long.

Hudson is straight up Emmet from The LEgo Movie.  His little personality, his kind heart, how he says awesome all the time about everything, super excitable and he’s totally a master builder.  The kid is crazy.  He just sits down, dreams something up and then voila…he creates it.  Love his little mind.

And baseball.  Another all day, every day activity.  We’re immersed and I am totally okay with it.  We finally had our first big “indoor baseball” casualty.  I’m actually surprised we went as long as we did, but finally my big photo of Amon hanging in our living room got beaned by a line drive and fell crashing to the ground.  It was a sad day, but we pressed on and I shockingly did not ban indoor baseball…it’s just too much fun to do that.

Random posts…completely unrelated and in no way flows together.  It’s what I do!

Happy Thursday!

This.

Yes this.  After I uploaded this picture I laughed out loud.  I thought to myself, “This could not be a better representation of our summer.”  Minus one crazy little man toddler child :)

They absolutely slay me.  Goodness I kind of like them!

Happy Wednesday…for real this time.

I Like Her

She is getting too big.  I see it everyday and time is turning our little girl into a little lady.  Every single day she is changing more and more and getting bigger and bigger.  It makes my heart kind of achey, but also excited because I love the little lady she is turning into.  The way she talks and laughs and goes into great detail explaining even the tiniest of subjects.  The way she wants to help with anything and everything.  Her imagination is delightful and she’s sure to be an artist or teacher or both when she grows up.  I just really really like her.

She asks me to play all the time.  And truth is, it just does not always happen.  Not near enough.  There are 4 children in our household all needing Mom or Dad in one way or another and carving out real play time is just tough sometimes.  I’ve really been trying to enjoy the kids more this summer because it seems if all at once they look, feel and act older.  Just in a blink.

And it happened at just the right time we were able to knock out an entire old Lego set together.  Why yes we do keep all our Legos all jumbled up in one big bin, so I always assist in the sifting and finding pieces department.  The boys all came in and out while we worked…staying for little stints here and there.  Sometimes to try and bother or annoy, but sometimes to ask if they could help or just build on their own.

As we worked she talked.  And talked and talked and talked.  It’s kind of what she does.  She does the same thing when we run together.  I adore it and I learn so much as I listen to her mind think, work and communicate.  At one point I just sat there and stared at her working and I knew I wanted to hold this time with her a little longer.  Sear it in my memory.  Stamp it on my heart.

Unruly Legos.  The sifting sound.  Her chatty words and sweet 7-year-old voice.  Cookie in hand.  And a “thank you Mom” when we finished.  She’s my jam!

Happy Wednesday.

Ha. How about happy Tuesday!