I’ll Play Kevin Costner

So yesterday was so great.  Before bed last night I checked to see how many kiddos still remained needing sponsorship and it was down to 71.  Thank you!!!  7 kiddos being sponsored is simply amazing.  Now this morning I checked again and we’re back up to 77…hahahahah…so now I’m just not quite sure what happened, but already have an email sent in to try and figure it all out.

If you missed yesterday’s post you can READ IT HERE or just scroll down to the post below.  There are currently 77 kids (which I think is actually less…maybe website malfunction) who are still needing sponsorship.  This mean $38 a month for food, water, basic medical care, educational support and discipleship.  You can see all the kiddos who still need sponsorship by CLICKING HERE and then choosing “unsponsored” in the Status bar at the top.  Please consider sponsoring and/or joining us on our next trip.

In other news I’ve officially decided our summer should be deemed the Pool of Dreams.  I keep saying “If you invite us, we will come.”  And then we do.  We’re all a bunch of fish with the exception of two of our fishes being unable to swim.  Amon laid on this float in his floaty and grasping onto the handles for dear life until he fell asleep…in the pool…still holding onto the float.  It was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

 We’re all sorts of tan.  We’ve torn through our first whole bottle of kids’ sunscreen.  We have pealing toes and still laugh when we have goggle lines on our foreheads.  And swimming with friends is our summer jam.  Be careful when you say to us “Come swim any time” or “Come back soon”…because it’s likely you will find our tribe waiting at your pool gate, lunches packed and already sun screened up “any time” or “soon”.

Kids are sleeping like rocks and then still sleeping like rocks far into the morning time.  It’s grand.  I think we’ve found our groove.  Hands down my favorite line this summer came from Hudson as he slipped his swimming trunks off and caught a glimpse of his unclothed, madly tan lined body in the mirror, “Hey it looks like I’m still wearing underwear, but I’m not.”  Insert wild little boy laughter.  Insert wild momma laughter too.

Yes indeed.  Pool of Dreams.  Now I just need my own Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones and a corn shaped pool float.  Cheers to you summer!

Happy Tuesday.

78 Kiddos, Trips & A Playground

We leave for Swaziland, Africa in just a few days.  At this point I’m just excited.  Packing all 14 bags with almost 700lbs of supplies was pretty much taking over my mind and pushing my stress limit, but bags have been weighed and packed so excitement is really setting in now.

It’s been a year and half since I’ve been to the Ngungwane carepoint and that’s far too long in my books.  My goal is to go every year.  From here on out I would love to lead a team every single year…maybe even more if we could swing it.  I love the community to community connection Children’s HopeChest aims to accomplish.  I love that these people we get the honor of being with and spending time with are not our charity, but simply our brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are amazing and beautiful and a gift.

Currently there are 53 kiddos who are sponsored…who have special friends as we like to call ourselves…and 78 kids who are unsponsored.  Sponsorship is $38 a month for food, water, basic medical care, educational support and discipleship.  I’ve been praying God would do what only He can do and stir hearts to sponsor the remaining 78 children who need sponsorship.  I keep thinking about how truly He never ceases to amaze me.

Sometimes I get caught up in the current and every now and then think about the future.  What I would love to see is all 78 of these kids sponsored and then trips formed each year of sponsors and non sponsors.  Another goal would be to raise the funds to have a nice playground put in at Ngungwane for the kids to enjoy every day.  This is a $16,250 goal which can feel a tad daunting, but God is really good at what feels daunting to us.  I like how He can orchestrate and bring people together…I like how He pushes our hearts towards love…and I like how He gives us one another as gifts even across oceans.

You can see all the kiddos who still need sponsorship at the Ngungwane carepoint by CLICKING HERE and then choosing “unsponsored” in the Status bar at the top.  Each child is so incredibly precious and created in the image of God.  And then consider joining us on another trip.  Likely in 2016, but if the opportunity and the group came together I’d go back in a heartbeat this year as well.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone and everyone…the more the merrier.  You can check out Children’s HopeChest for all the details.  And this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing of this :)  Just 5 short days and Swaziland here we come.

Happy Monday!

July Bible Journaling Class

You’re officially invited to July’s Bible Journaling Class.  I am moving class towards the end of July since I will be in Africa the first part.  Here are the details:

When:  Saturday, July 25th

Time: 1pm-4pm

Where:  Our house. 

Cost: $50

All the money will be used to do some good in this world.  March’s class we raised enough money to fund a Fun Day for over 150 kids in Swaziland Africa which will take place on our trip in July.  April’s class funds were used to help purchase items and assemble welcome baskets for ladies entering the Magdalene Houses.  May’s funds blessed an office of 60 social workers and their supervisors with a catered lunch and over 600 blue ink pens.  June’s funds went towards supplies to take to the kids at the Ngungwane carepoint in Swaziland…crafts, bubble wands, solar lanterns, markers, treats and gifts for the sweet grandmother’s who cook everyday for the kids, etc.  July is still up in the air where the money is headed, but we are praying for God to show us exactly where the funds need to go.

This class will be 3 hours in length and we will talk about the process of Bible journaling and I will share how I go about this each day.  We will also talk about supplies and tips, tricks and techniques I use.  There will be time for questions throughout the class as well as time for you to do some of your own Bible journaling and practicing.

Each person will bring their own supplies.  You can read about the supplies I use on THIS POST, but please feel free to bring the items which work for you.  YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PURCHASE THE ITEMS I USE.

There are 16 spots available for this class.  If you would like a spot email me at pitterpatterart at gmail dot com or Message Me Here.  You can reserve more than one spot, so chat with your family and friends and make it a girls time.  This will also be a kid free time…sorry, no kiddos.

I hope you will join me.  This is a favorite time in each month.  I love meeting all you awesome ladies and talking about the Bible and creativity…such a treat for me.  Let me know if you have any questions and do hope to see you there!

Happy Wednesday.

Redeeming Waters

You guys are way too kind.  Isn’t it nice to know we are not in this parenting thing alone.  Emails and FB messages and comments and texts reminded me again and again I’m not the only crazy out there who cries in the bathroom :)  I kid.  You guys are the greatest in all the land.

I become more and more deeply in love with the fact that God’s grace is really and truly sufficient for all and for every last mistake I make.  My kids are living proof.  I’m a giant screw up and yet they love me all the more.  Several people commented yesterday about how they had parents who apologized to them and how that made all the difference.  My mom was that way.  She knew how to say she was sorry.  I don’t always do it…sometimes my pride gets the best of me, but I do want our kids to know Josh Kelley and myself are far from perfect and we need God’s grace and mercy just like the rest of the world.

And His mercies sure do come with the morning.  The sun still rises and the strangest thing happens…I get another shot.  So because I believe there is redemption in the water at the wave pool we went first thing yesterday morning :)  And it was just what we all needed.

We needed a break.  We needed fun.  We needed the water and the sunshine.  I needed a tan.

And we didn’t stop there.  Solomon’s teacher asked us all over to swim today.  And we went.  And stayed all the live long day.  And ate pizza and chips and slurped popsicle after popsicle.  I met new ladies.  The kids met new friends.  Our current youngest was insane in the water…zero fear people.  And Amon hovered around the shallow end in fear for his life.  But oh the fun, the fun just kept coming.  I mean, there was a diving board for the love.

We didn’t come home until just before dinner time.  You know what this means…kids falling asleep everywhere and “Let’s just eat snacks for dinner” kind of night.  So we chilled even more while watching a movie from the library and chomping on microwave popcorn while I continued to pack for Africa.

(please note we have an ENTIRE table devoted to Lego building.  Intervention needed!)

Yes indeed, His mercies sure do keep coming.  His grace just doesn’t run out.  And I would know!

Happy Wednesday.

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.

Friday Favorites

Here are some of my recent favorites I thought I’d pass along:

*I’m in full on Swaziland supply packing mode.  This is the pile in our living room right now.

 Holy moly right.  That’s right at about 189lbs of supplies…not counting the rest of our teams supplies they have collected and purchased.  You can only imagine.  I’m crazy excited.  My favorite travel agent we’ve worked with hands down is Jeff Lemonds at Adoption Airfare.  Add him to your go-to list right now…request this dude and thank me later.  I just keep thinking about how helpful he was and how he worked his travel agent magic to assist us in getting all these supplies to Swaziland.  The best around.

*We were all discussing Solomon’s Gotcha Day which is approaching quickly in July.  We realized I would be in Africa on his special day and our very non emotional child got super emotional.  He’s not my scared or sad crier at all.  It kind of tore my heart right up.  For Gotcha Days we do something all together as a family, so I decided to make a purchase for Sol that he could unwrap on his Gotcha Day and share with the others.  I’m a big fan of Mud Love and their awesome products.  And as always, purchasing with a purpose tops my list of places to shop and Mud Love purchases provide clean water.  Yes.  I ended up getting each kiddo their own animal bracelet.  They have other products as well.  I think they are going to love these.  I even picked up a few extra for gifts.

 

*I love mail.  And I believe in pretty packaging.  All my orders are wrapped in fun packaging.  These are my current favorite wrapping papers courtesy of Michaels for just $1 per roll.  I might have stocked up…you might want to too.

*Can something I make be on my favorites list this sunny Friday?!?!  I think so.  Dish towels are my new “thank you”.  They’re handy, colorful and just right for pretty much any time.

*The Nashville Sounds got a brand new ballpark this year.  Last night Josh Kelley’s whole family had free tickets.  It might not have been the easiest outing with 5 kids…mainly our littlest and Amon being out waaaaaay past their bedtimes proved to be a tad challenging :) but we were all so glad we did it.  Baseball is a total favorite of ours and we all can’t wait to go back for another Sounds game at the new park.

 

*I wanted to copy, paste and share so many quotes from this, but there were seriously too many.  Who knew Jon Stewart would be my honest news reporting choice.  I totally love him!  Incredibly well said.

*Still my favorite lunch lately…even at the wave pool.  Turkey slices, mustard, chopped tomatoes and broccoli slaw.  Just try it.

*And I know it’s silly, but after seeing all the super cute journaling Bibles out there now, I was kind of bummed about my plain black one.  Not anymore.  I thought about adding to it and finally decided I really loved just the black and white.  If I change my mind I can always paint more on it later.  I just used acrylic paint.  Boom.  Done.

Do you have any favorites we must know about?!?!?  Please feel free to share.

Hope you have an awesome weekend.

Happy Friday party people.

Sugar Probs

I know I’m not the only one who’s heart and mind are currently all over the place.  My emotions are just crazy.  I’ve found myself breaking into tears way too much lately.  This world can be so hard and heavy and dark.  And throw in holidays, like Father’s Day, which bring all sorts of emotions to the surface and I’m kind of a lost cause.

I read the other day in 2 Corinthians 5…just a short passage…1-10 and I couldn’t get past it for the day, so there I sat in big ole lady baby tears.  Just streaming.  Here’s The Message translation:

“For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.

But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.”

In the NIV version is says repeatedly “We are of good courage”.  I want that.  Good courage…not letting Satan have the upper hand in my heart, but not letting anything stop me from loving like Christ loves.

My mind keeps turning and turning and nothing seems to dial it back much.  And then the emotional eater in me decided making chocolate chip cookies…obviously eating a good quarter of the batter…seemed to be the obvious solution.  Duh.  I went to the freezer to pull out the chocolate chips (my mom always kept her chocolate chips in the freezer) and then utterly gasped when I saw there were none.  Oh my.  You would have thought I’d seen a decapitated head sitting in there instead of just no chocolate chips.  I might have teared up.  This is where I need the emotional eaters of the inter webs to unite with me and make me feel less, ummmm, un-weird(<—– real word, feel free to use it at will, especially when you are looking to come off as super intellectual)…less not an emotional eater.  These are normal happenings to others right?!?!?  I just know they are.  We emotional eaters have to stick together…maybe start a Facebook page.  Strike that, if I start a new Facebook page it will definitely be a “Bring back the Kit-Kat Blizzard” Facebook page.  Priorities people, priorities.  But I digress/wander far off topic.  I like to think God hard wired me to be madly in love with sweets…this makes it a gift from Him…and we all know it’s a shame to waste your God given gifts and not put them into full use.

Littles just went down for a nap and all I want to do is peruse Pinterest and look at all things sugary.  I’ve landed happily on the following items:

Fudgey White Chocolate Brownies

picture source

Salted Caramel Popcorn

I specifically remember Mom making homemade caramel popcorn in brown paper bags.  Now that’s a lovely memory.

picture source

And Hot Buttered Pretzels

picture source

Hear me out on the hot buttered pretzels, scroll down far enough and there’s a cinnamon sugar edition.  Hallelujah.

 So lesson for today is clearly:  Laura has sugar probs…send prayers and cookies.

Happy Thursday.

8 Things

1.  My brain is in summer mode so I think this means I can’t think as well…which means I feel like I have less to tell you about :)  Want to hear about something specific??  Have any questions for me??  Help a bloggy girl out who has summer brain and give me some stuff to write about.

2.  It’s officially traveling overseas time and the piles of supplies are growing, the lists are increasing in number and my head is spinning in the planning department.  How does one go about strategically planning to get 700lbs of supplies purchased and then across the world between 7 ladies?!?!?  This is the ultimate question.  And I still need to check on my shots.  Ugh.

3.  I’m closing up shop this week because I’m hitting the airways soon.  I’ll reopen in August!  Eeek.  I’m going to try and make up some goodies to randomly sell after we get back.  Plus The Gifter Project is in full force…it’s kind of the most fun thing ever!!

4.  When I declared “Now everyone must get a book and read while I work” yesterday, I envisioned children reading quietly to themselves while I worked.  The reality was all of sudden being surrounded by all these kiddos and books right on top of me and in my office and right outside my office.  We are going to work on “personal space” this summer too.

5.  July’s Bible Journaling Class will be Saturday July 25th.  I’ll post all the details soon.  With June’s class funds we were able to purchase 6 solar lanterns, 200 polaroid exposures, 256 markers, 168 bubble wands, 192 picture frame crafts and 168 wood hot air balloon crafts all for the kiddos at Ngungwane in Swaziland.  It makes me kind of weepy.  It’s kind of crazy what people can do when they come together.

6.  Have you tried the Mega M&Ms??!?!?!  They are ridiculously amazing.

Kelley Family Fun Fact #7:  Our current favorite M&Ms are the minis and the megas…how ironic right?!?!

7.  I already shared this over on my Instagram, but it’s really worth sharing again.  When talking about summer haircuts with Hudson and Solomon they decided not to get them because they wanted to grow Jedi braids (insert me trying with all my motherly might to keep a straight face).  They are both currently rockin’ longer than preferred locks, but oh my are they ever committed.  Hudson asks me every day, “Mom, try and braid it now.  Do I have enough?”  Sweet boy things…they kill me.

 

And 8.  Is it weird we’ve talked about them getting married?!?!?  I think not.  I hear arranged marriages are all the rage these days.

Happy Tuesday people!