How ya doin’?

So I’ve started this post a thousand times.  What on earth do I write?  I really don’t know.  How are y’all doing?  I’ve heard it a thousand times in the last two months…nah it’s probably been 3 months

I ask myself, do I really want to answer that?  Do you REALLY want to know?  It hurts too much.  Honestly, I was speaking with a great friend and mentor of mine and he was sharing the difference between sharing from scars vs. wounds.

  • Scars we have healed from. They’ve left their mark, for sure but we are healed.  And those marks, those scars, provide us with reminders of what happened.  I can look at scars on myself from bike accidents of yesteryear or at Amy’s scar on her knee from surgery and we can recount what happened.  Emotional scars are no different.  We look back at the situation when we feel the scar from the event upon our life.  And when we look back we can remember, recount, and realize the lesson learned.  We have endured.  We have learned and we’re on the other side.  Just like when a wound turns into a scar, it doesn’t need any active care….our emotional aren’t forgotten but they don’t need any active wound care from us.  From our scars we can actually be a position to teach, to correct, to provide lessons learned and direction.
  • Wounds are different. Just yesterday Jojo fell down.  He had a scrape on his elbow.  It was relatively deep but it necessitated some wound care.  Alcohol wipe, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic cream and Band-Aid.  This morning, we had to redress the wound.  It involved removing the covering, which re-opened the wound.  That was painful for him.  We had to provide more wound care, more stinging and more hurt for him.  Same wound, just treating it.  That treatment and covering is what is going to make it better.  With our emotional wounds, it’s not different.  We address them immediately or when we can.  We talk it out. We address the emotional hurt.  We apply bandages.  But there are times that they have to be re-opened.  At each re-opening of the wound, we hurt again.  We haven’t learned the lesson yet from our emotional wounds.  We don’t have the perspective of experience and time and it becomes more difficult to learn from them and teach from these wounds.

My friend was sharing that we can teach from our emotional scars.  Those may provide lessons and / or best practices.  But our emotional wounds, we should not.  As a wound heals, the lesson, the perspective is shifting and not fully-formed.

I share that today because we are in a place of many wounds.  How are we doing?  To be honest and completely transparent, it’s hard.  We’ve had a lot going on over the past few months so let me provide some updates rapid fire.

General Updates

  • Preaching – I had the amazing opportunity to share a word on temptation with our church at the beginning of December…not sure why I got tasked with that subject, something about having a lot of experience with successes and failures with it. Anyway, it was awesome and a GREAT time.  If you wanted to check out the podcast from the service….click here.
  • Get AWAY – Amy and I were tremendously blessed to be able to get away this past December for our 12 year anniversary. It was a great time to REST, REFLECT and plan for a new year.  It was filled with naps, cooking great food, playing board games, and watching Fixer Upper…I guess we are old.
  • Sports are a thing in our house – Jojo and Madeline have started playing basketball, and despite my better judgement I agreed to help coach Madeline’s team. Honestly, it’s a blast!  I love those 7 year old girls and the laughs they can provide, and some of the patience they are teaching me!  Madeline loves playing…although her dad wishes she would pay more attention.  Jojo LOVES basketball. He’s a lock down defender and really enjoys bringing the ball up the court.  The only challenge is Jojo and Madeline have games at the same time on many Saturdays so it’s been hard to catch both of them, especially when coaching.
  • Kindergarten here comes Elijah – hey remember when Elijah was born in Belize? Yeah, that was about 4 ½ years ago….which means that he is heading to Kindergarten this coming school year!  We are excited nervous and there are days…ok maybe a lot of days that we (ok I, Josh) cry snot bubble tears thinking about him growing up.
  • Christmas – We had an amazing time at Christmas with the girls making traditions and celebrating Jesus! Our family was AMAZING rallying around and celebrating Jesus with us and the girls!
  • Snow Days – We had A LOT of snow…TWICE! It was an adventure taking the girls out for the first time ever in the snow for them!  They built a snowman, sledded, ate SNOW…A LOT of snow, ate snow cream and drank hot chocolate…all for the first time!  And then it snowed again and we got to do all of it over!  It was an adventure!
  • New Floors – For 9 months Amy has researched the flooring she wanted in our front “formal living room” (now it’s our office) and dining room (actually kid’s homework and art room). Over the past week, Amy, in addition to running our house, ripped out the carpet, and laid the flooring!  Update – It looks AMAZING!!  Yes you know this, I know this but it should be stated again: My wife is simply a superstar!!

Ministry Update

  • Discipleship – Jesus called us to be disciples that make disciples. Through our lives, we have done this through small groups, mission teams, other relationships.  The Lord opened up opportunities to do that and I am enjoying meeting with two dudes every week reading the Bible together, and challenging each other to be better disciples, men, husbands, fathers and leaders!
  • Growth – The Lord continues to bless our church and bring in more families with kids! We even had the opportunity to provide 120 families of our church with everything necessary to have a Happy Birthday Jesus Celebration over Christmas!
  • One More – When we started working on the South Fork building almost 18 month ago, a little boy and his family were coming around all the time. They would “help” and we found out they were attending the church when they could.  Our volunteers started to love on Lil T and his family.  One volunteer family even bought winter coats for Lil T, his brothers and sisters!  Lil T came out 3 hours early for our first service in Feb 2017 and he has been there every Sunday since.  A couple of Sunday’s back our church was in week 2 of 21 days of prayer.  We prayed specifically that morning for our rWorld (children’s ministry) volunteer’s to lead a child to Christ.  That afternoon Lil T came up to one of our volunteers and was led to a decision in Christ!  One more in the Kingdom.  One more revolution of life-change sparked in the community God brought our church!  We’re fired up about that!
  • Community – While my community has come from the discipleship relationships the Lord has brought into my life, Amy has found rich community in her Wednesday evening rGroup (small group). It’s been awesome (and sometimes annoying) to hear Amy’s phone ding from all the texts and calls she gets daily.  What an answer to prayer!!

We enter Feb excited about finishing basketball strong with the kiddos.  We are excited about ministry opportunities and community.  We are excited to partner in this thing called life with each other!  We are expectantly looking forward to court and to Easter!  We look to God to sustain and encourage!  Thank you for praying for us as we heal from these wounds!

Retreat!

Post NYE celebration with shredded paper confetti

Homemade Slime is all the rage these days!

One of our 3 snowmen from Snow Dayz!

Look in the background there is Lil T curious about what we are doing there at this church. Over a year later, he has met Jesus and is ready to get Baptized!

Mommy and Jojo in their love language together of “projects”

Proud of his puzzle

Hide and seek genius…inside the gym bag

New floors look FLY

Advertisements

Praises and Prayer Requests – November 2017

Friends!  Happy Belated Thanksgiving and Merry Early Christmas!  From our family to your’s Gobble till you Wobble and Santa Baby!

It’s been an awesome time this month with family, friends, ministry and fun!  Times are always crazy but we have always said life is an adventure…thanks for adventuring with us!  Here’s some of the quick notes.

Tradition Makers

I remember the things that we did as a family, picking out the Christmas tree, “santa’ leaving the presents out instead of wrapping them, French toast on Saturday mornings.  As I got older, I remember not doing some of those things anymore and then still doing others!

Amy and I were looking at Thanksgiving and with family stuff on Thanksgiving day not really an option this year (NOTE: There was a large family event about 3.5 hours drive 1 way.  We declined to attend that), we were determined to make Thanksgiving Traditions.

So we got cinnamon rolls for breakfast, sat around in our PJs all day, listened to Christmas music, watched Christmas Movies and the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day parade, played a couple of fun games and prepared and ate an AMAZING meal!  It was slow, low-key, relaxed and we LOVED it!

This got us thinking….how this year for Christmas will we continue to build on some of our family traditions and make new ones!  What are your traditions during this holiday season?  What about traditions / rhythms weekly or even daily?  Here are two of our more regular traditions.

  • Daily – Each night before the kids go to bed we tell them the following.  “You are so smart.  You are so beautiful (or handsome).  Mommy and Daddy will always love you no matter what.  And Jesus loves you even more.”
  • Weekly – This pleasantly plump adolescent ate mounds of French Toast every Saturday morning.  I think the most I ever got up to was probably 6 or 7 pieces.  Now that I am home on the weekends every weekend, I have started to prepare a French Toast breakfast like my mom did for me.  First it started out just for Amy and now the girls Madeline, Z and L wanted in on the action.  So each week, we go through about a carton of eggs, too much syrup, a loaf of bread, etc and sit down for our Saturday morning Breakfast tradition.

Traditions don’t have to be elaborate or they can be.  They don’t have to be out of the house!  Traditions are just routine experiences done with enough frequency and celebrations that they develop memories.  And those memories are what develops the desire for the routine experience!

School Update

  • Things are Wacky Tacky – Tuesday was Wacky Tacky Day at the elementary school!  We were so excited in our house.  I helped Jojo build his outfit and ultimately all he wanted to wear was a suit Jacket, one of my ties, and it was “tacky” because he had basketball shoes on.  I told him I have pictures from Easter one year of me wearing almost the same thing, only a worse tie and Reebok Pumps!  And Madeline and I spent some serious time planning her outfit.  The kids got off the bus and Madeline let me know Madeline was the Wackiest – Tackiest in her grade level.  She won the same “award” in Kindergarten as well!  Edmonds’ got style for dayzz!!!

Ministry Update

  • Children’s Ministry – continues to be a HUGE blessing.  I love getting to partner in ministry with my wife.  We are still figuring out how to best work together (more clearly, I am still figuring it out.  Amy knows already!).  We are continuing to see new families come into the church and even another (unrelated) Edmonds family which was cool!  December is upon us and it’s involved to say the least.  Continue to pray!  We will need pace and endurance to get through all the activities in the curriculum this month!  But it’s going to be AWESOME!
  • Students – You remember the post, A story about life-change.  Well our student ministry continues to expand at both campuses.  At our South Fork location, we have seen 3 students take their next step and begin to serve on Sunday’s!  That’s HUGE!  At our North Campus, we just completed a student retreat.  Fourteen students with volunteers unplugged for 3 days (no phone, no internet, no tv) and instead of being engrossed in those spent time studying God’s Word together.  The students came back on FIRE for God and a had a legit hunger and thirst for His Word.
  • Community – Amy and I are still evaluating community for us!  Couples group?  Family group?  Meeting with men for me to lead, Amy to be part of a women’s group.  Prayers for wisdom, discernment and appropriate margin and opportunities to meet this need and deep desire to have deeper and stronger relationships with our peers!
  • Preaching – I am preaching this weekend at our South Fork Campus!  I am so excited to share God’s Word with our people (and so nervous too)

Praises and Prayer Requests:

  • Praise and Prayer Request – Financial Partners – Praise God we have had a couple of additional financial partners join our team!  Thank you and again Praise God.  We are still praying for $250/month in additional support.  If you are thinking about partnering with our family in ministry financially, let me or Amy know.  We would love to share about ministry here in Winston Salem, NC at our church or with Z and L.
  • Pray – Multiplication – We are praying specifically over the next season for multiplication.  Multiplication of disciples, of leaders, of kids in the children’s ministry, of rooms.  We are praying specifically that God is NOT waiting on us to multiply.  We wont be caught not ready.  Pray that God will multiply and we will be prepared!
  • Pray – Student Ministry –  Our student ministry is growing and thriving!  We have students taking next steps (desiring to serve, desiring to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus).  Continue to pray as we preach over the next few weeks on the Bible, The Holy Spirit, and Fasting.  Pray that our students would latch onto the Gospel and have their lives transformed by Jesus.
  • Pray – GET AWAY – Amy and I are about 2 weeks away from 3 days without any kids!  Be in PRAYER now that it will be a time of reflection over the last year. Be in PRAYER now that it is a time of expectation for the new year.  Pray for rest!  Pray for fun!  It’s going to be AMAZING!
  • Pray – Preaching – This weekend I am preaching at one of our campuses!  Pray for our house to be a place of peace as I work on the final preparations.  Pray for nerves.  Pray specifically that it’s NOT TOO SHORT!  I’m excited just nervous!

Friends, thank you for petitioning the Lord with us!  God is on the move.  We have so much to be thankful for!  How can we be praying for you all?!?

11046504_10102979270370209_5351404790408557193_n

Wacky Tacky Kindergarten Champion!

IMG_0579

Date breakfast with the wife – we’re so cool. Calendar Planning!

IMG_0582

Because who doesn’t love the Habit ReSTORE for a date location

IMG_0609

IMG_0617

Love our leadership time as a staff each and every week

IMG_0626

2nd grade WACKY TACKY CHAMP!

IMG_0650

Decorating the Christmas Tree at Grandma Jane’s house with the cousins!

No Watch me BUAY

In all our years of living in Belize, we learned to speak English-Creole…well most of us anyway. (Side bar – I never learned how to read it, I mean ever!  I tried and tried and a pastor ONLY texted me in Creole and still nothing)

I continue. Perhaps no one learned to speak Creole as much as our most Belizean boy – Jojo.  Jojo was 10 months old when we moved.  More or less his entire language formation was developed in Belize, most often while being passed around by women and youth speaking Creole to him.  From 10 months to 3 years old Jojo spoke nothing but Creole.

This past week was Jojo’s birthday and as part of his birthday present he wanted me to come to his class and tell them about Belize.  As I prepped the presentation, I road down the memory lane of Facebook, looked at pictures and listened to videos, and heard that accent as Jojo started to speak.

At school, when I was “teaching” his classmates Creole, Jojo beamed.  He was proud of the language he knows but won’t speak.  (2nd Side Bar – Even now, we can tell Jojo formed language in Belize….his “r” are never HARD.  They are soft almost like a “Boston R”)

Then I saw a little bit of sadness as he looked, laughed, and shared about a country we love and really the first home he knew.  I looked at him telling his friends “No watch me buay” that he missed being there sometimes and today was one of those days.  And I realized…today son, I miss it too.

Happy Birthday to that dude.  Our Belizean buay in every since of culture.  A buay that refuses store bought food because in Belize mommy made everything homemade.

Happy birthday to the buay that wants flour tortillas and fry jacks.

Happy birthday to the buay who says bananas here taste funny and would rather have a mango fresh off the tree and eat his oranges with salt and hot pepper.

Happy Birthday to the buay that is fiercely competitive and fiercely loyal.  That loves his friends and deeply desires to please others.

Happy Birthday to the buay that is ready to the big kid but wants to cuddle at night with mommy or daddy or his blanket.

Happy Birthday to the buay that deeply desires to serve others and learn much.  To the buay that refuses fiction books at the library and dives into non-fiction.

Happy Birthday to the buay that loves passionately, is wild and free, and is waiting for God to form and shape his heart.

Happy birthday day Jojo, our Belizean Buay, we pray that you always know and remember everything we have tried to teach you.  You try our patience many times but that’s parenting.  May the Lord take your loyalty, passions, love, deep desire for learning and position you to pursue Him relentlessly in whatever avenue He directs.  We pray that you meet Jesus at an early age and do not stray from the right or the left.  We pray that your testimony is filled not with sin the Lord had to redeem you out of but rather sins that He kept you from because of your relationship with Him.  We love you buay!

Will you join us in praying that over Jojo?

IMG_0531

Jojo at “hours old”

IMG_0532

Jojo at 3.  My baller shot caller!

IMG_0533

4 yrs old

IMG_0534

This might be my favorite Jojo pic ever.  Channeling his inner Tupac

IMG_0536

Jojo on his birthday!  6 years old!! 

IMG_0537

Jojo @ 2!

IMG_0577

Jojo the 1 year old!

 

A story of life-change

Baptism is a big deal!  It’s a HUGE deal at our church!  As a leadership team, we want to make sure that no one, and we really mean NO ONE out celebrates us.  Since the very first Baptism service, our leadership team said, “why can’t the church have the most crazy incredible loud, fanatic, celebration?”  Isn’t someone having their life transformed by Jesus bigger or better than a touchdown?

Out answer is simply yes.  Therefore we put A LOT of energy into a Baptism Celebration.  Noise Makers!  Bounce Houses!  Bounce House Obstacle Courses!  FOOD!  MUSIC!  and this past Sunday was no different.  Here’s one story of why

A story… To understand Hez, you have to understand what we prayed for when we launched REVO at South Fork.  When we launched our campus in the South Fork neighborhood, we were so excited to be in a residential area.  As a leadership team, we began to pray for a student ministry at our South Fork location.  We prayed specifically that we could have students from the surrounding neighborhood come into a church, encounter the Gospel and be transformed.  So several months ago, we launched a student ministry!  And Hez was one of the first ones to come.  Hez was graduating in May and we could tell he was searching for something more, maybe what’s next.  He had maturity and was genuinely curious.  Our leaders began to meet with Hez, and build that relationship.  Each week we would faithfully present the Gospel, praying that someone would respond.  We realized we weren’t putting Hez in front of God, so we began to pray specifically for God to transform Hez’s heart and for him specifically to be baptized on Nov 5th, 2017 at our Baptism Celebration!

We were faithful in prayer.  We were faithful in preaching the Gospel.  We had some specific leaders that invested into Hez.  And Hez desired to give his life to Jesus.  Did you catch that?  Hez realized his life was incomplete with Jesus.  He desired to stop living one way and start living for Jesus.  Jesus sparked a revolution of life-change in Hez’s life.

The Lord heard our prayers and ANSWERED YES when Hez was BAPTIZED last Sunday.  Not only that, we prayed specifically that Hez could be a LIGHT to this neighborhood and the students he has influence over were all out to see him take his next step to move forward to Jesus.

And God is doing immeasurably more!  Hez is now a student ministry leader each Wednesday night!  And Hez is attending and serving our church as part of our Guest Services Team!

But God’s not done….Friends our prayer specifically for Hez is that he would take our churches core value of LIVE BOLD to heart and he would shepherd and lead one person in his sphere to Christ.  It is our specific prayer that Hez would baptize one of his friends at our next Baptism in May!

Friends thank you for being part of this story.  Thank you for being part of the story of God using our family to help spark a revolution of life-change through Jesus in our city.  Thank you for being part of sparking a revolution of life-change through Jesus in Hez’s life!

IMG_6323

Zach who has invested heavily in Hez celebrating like crazy after Hez came up out of the water!  God we desire for Zach’s face to be repeated in Hez at the next Baptism as he is baptizing one of his friends!!

Praises and Prayer Requests – October 2017

October has been a month.  I wanted to say is a month but I sit and write this on Halloween Eve and realize October is GONE!  So it’s been a month.  It’s been a great month of activity, family fun, a lot of ministry, and some foster care ups and downs.  A brief recap, some praises and prayer requests and A LOT of pictures!  We hope you enjoy!

Family

  • School has gotten in a good rhythm for everyone.
    • Jojo tries to be the best behaved in his class.
    • Madeline’s Spanish is amazing and her 2nd out of 3 total teachers is from Colombia.  Between that and my love for the Netflix show Narcos, I think the Lord is directing to her Colombia as a missionary.
    • Elijah – This dude loves school.  We were worried heading into this year because his best friend was in a different class.  But of course Elijah comes home this entire month and talks about 4 or 5 different people that are his best friends!
  • Fall Fun – We have LOVED the fall weather….well sort of.  We have loved fall.  We have done the corn maze thing, the fall festival thing, the paint and carve pumpkin thing.  Josh went with the seniors of the church apple picking and looking at the fall foliage.  We’ve been extending the Edmonds Garden (about a 50% increase in size) and working on new composting strategy.  Stay tuned cause the Edmonds Garden will produce some dividends this year.  Sign up early to claim your jar of pickles, jam, canned salsa or homemade tomato sauce!
  • Kids Activities – We have dodged the big family / lots of activities bullet for some time (Praise God).  But we are heading into a season of many activities.
    • Madeline is currently in Piano lessons at her school (Yay for free lessons from Wake Forest students).  She’s had two, so naturally we bought an electric piano!  Now I’m practicing (and it’s so hard!).  Pray for me that I practice every day!
    • We’re playing basketball.  Jojo has been counting down the days since he was 4 to when he could start Kindergarten and play a sport.  His first choice is basketball.  I thought to myself, surely he’s going to hate it.  Only he’s really good, like dribbles without looking at the ground, with each hand independently good. Is he going to the league?  Nope but I think he might actually like it!  We shall see.

 

Ministry Update

  • Ministry at REVO church has been AMAZING.  Our children’s ministry is growing and it’s been a real pleasure to serve with our AMAZING volunteers.
  • We have adjusted our curriculum and are doing almost everything that we can to resource our parents and partner with them in sparking a revolution of life-change through Jesus in their lives.
  • Facility remodel – You may recall in the first part of the year, our church was in the home stretch of renovating our 2nd permanent facility.  Amy and I were specifically focused on the children’s ministry area with a HUGE host of amazing staff and volunteers.  Well this August, September and October we renovated the children’s ministry area at our campus in the north end of town.  It was hurry up and wait for a while but we just finished and it looks AMAZING!  We had another INCREDIBLE team of staff and volunteers partner with us!  So cool to see our church sacrificing so much so that kids can come to know Jesus in environments that are safe, fun, clean, and exciting!!
  • Student Ministry – When we moved our mobile campus to the South Fork neighborhood, we began to ask and beg God for influence among the students in that neighborhood.  After weeks of prayer and some tweaks here and there, He heard our cry, inclined his ear to us!  We have approximately 15 students each week.  These are students that have never heard the Gospel presented in an engaging way.  I have had the privilege to hang out on some Wednesday nights and share the Gospel with them!  We have seen some students take next steps, with now routinely attending our Sunday Worship Services and (1) of them is serving on our Guest Services team and getting Baptized this weekend!
  • Community Group / Small Group – We took a break from our community group over the summer and adjusted to life with the girls.  After looking at our schedule, Amy and I said the only night during the week that would work for our family and bed time for the kids, etc is Friday night.  So we said we would have small group at our house on Friday nights.  We weren’t sure if anyone would come!  We prayed.  We sought counsel and again the Lord heard our cry.  We have 3 other families coming to our community group now.  These were families that weren’t already plugged into community in our church!  The Lord is faithful and we are excited to do life with these families!!

Praises

  • It’s fall y’all – We have really enjoyed some intentional family time within our unit and with our extended family.  Praise God for good times of lunch dates, cool weather, and fun fall firsts!
  • Ministry – Ministry is growing, fun, tiring, exciting, and awesome.  We are praising God for growth.  Praising God for people moving forward, taking next steps in their relationships with Jesus.

Prayer Requests

  • Student Ministry – I have the opportunity to share about every 3 weeks at our student ministry.  Please be in prayer as our student teaching team lays out the next several weeks of content.  Also please pray that our students begin to be stirred towards the Gospel.  We have a whole host of students who have NO IDEA about Christ.  Pray that they would hear and believe!
  • Preaching – I am excited to share with our church later in the year!  Please be in prayer for great clarity, peace at home and for low nerves!!
  • Parenting – Continue praying that Amy and I can parent in a way that is pointing our kids to Jesus.  Pray that we shepherd their hearts well towards their Creator and not simply ask (or demand) obedience to us.  Pray we parent to the heart of the issue in all circumstances.
  • Get away – Amy and I are blessed to be able to have a small get away in December (Thankful for church family that has a place we can get away to).  Please be in prayer for this NOW!  We are so excited!!  First time away since the girls came to our house!
  • Financial Support – Amy and I continue to rely on financial support from you all our prayer and financial partners for part of our income.  We are currently praying for $250 additional per month in financial support.  That could be (1) family at $250 a month or 10 families at $25 per month.  We would ask you join us in praying.  We would also ask that you prayerfully consider partnering with us financially in ministry.  If you need more info, find one of us on social media or simply email one of us and we can get you the 411.

Friends, thank you so much for celebrating what God is doing in our family and through us in ministry here in Winston!  We are so thankful for ALL of you!  If we can be in prayer for you in anyway, please let us know!

For the Kingdom! – Edmonds Family!

Put away the Tupperware and Stop Trying to be Perfect

(A post by Amy)

I’m Type A.  Really, super, duper, Type A.  Josh says “Everything has a place and everything in its place.” But I take it to another level.  Everything has a place, everything in its place, with a label made with my label maker, all the containers are the same size and they are arranged by color.  That’s a brief glimpse into my Type A brain.

You know what’s hard?  Being Type A with 5 kids, scratch that, being Type A with any kids.  They are constantly putting stuff away (in the wrong place I might add) and pulling stuff out (and leaving it out).

And then they get LEGOs.  Not just any LEGOs, LEGO SETS.  Police stations, fire stations, race cars, ice cream shop, Cinderella’s castles, Batman boat, Spiderman helicopter, Shop-Kins Legos, and on and on and on.

So we follow the instructions; we build.  And TEN MINUTES LATER they tear it apart!  GRRR.  And of course they don’t keep the box or even know where the same pieces are.  They leave, go outside even, and walk away from the minefield of little LEGO pieces all over the basement floor.

Only then it rains.  They’re done with outside and want the castle built back.  There’s a problem.  The castle is in the sea of mixed up LEGOs.  Is that a crown or a wheel?  Is that Batman’s cape or Elsa’s?  And I got sick of it.

So like any self-respecting Type A parent would do, I went out and bought all the Tupperware / Rubbermaid I could find and organized all the LEGOs by individual piece types.  Squares here, people heads there, and on and on and on.

Josh comes in and says “Amy, put away the Tupperware and stop being perfect.  It’s doesn’t have to be.  Let them build ramps with cars with wings.  What if it’s a batman helicopter and a Spiderman boat?  What if the race cars were ice cream cars or what if they don’t build ANY of it?”

I didn’t want to admit it but he is right.  I struggle with wanting to be perfect.  And I always have.  I wanted the LEGOs to look organized because that would project that I’m organized and I’m not.  I wanted the kids to play with the pre-assembled LEGOs because that was easy and creatively building something took more of my brain and I don’t like it.  It wasn’t perfect.  But to them it was.  To them building the 4 story flying bunk bed banana house is perfect.  So I started thinking.

I thought about my childhood

When I was a child, we had A LOT of toys.  I mean A LOT. We had all the Playmobil toys from my two older brother’s childhood (and as a side note that stuff kept really well.  Seriously, my mom has toys that my brother played with in the 1970s still!).  Back to my childhood.  I would play with the castle or the ranch or the pirate ship with the cannon.  But they were only that, the ranchers didn’t play with on the pirate ship.  The cannon balls weren’t pretend cows, and the kings couldn’t ride horses on the ranch.

I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but imaginary play and especially playing across toy lines wasn’t appropriate.

Another example.  I had MANY Dolls growing up.  MANY.  REALLY.  Some of my dolls were Cabbage Patch.  If you didn’t know Cabbage Patch dolls come with a birth certificate that states their name.  Only their names weren’t fun.  I wanted to name my Cabbage Patch doll “Dolly” only her name was “Regina Marsha”.  Seriously, who names these things!?  REGINA!? Marsha??  Come on!

Anyway, all the way home from receiving the gift on a LONG LONG car-ride, my mom had me repeat the ENTIRE name of the doll over and over and over again.  REGINA MARSHA that’s who she was, and that was that.

This might not seem that significant but parents take note (and I AM talking to myself and Josh as well) “constant criticism in the eyes of a child begins to wear them out and down.” That wearing out begins to create unrealistic expectations and unrealistic expectations require perfection.  Even when perfection is not possible.

I thought about when Josh and I were getting married

Growing up I had seriously warped body image issues.  I laugh now thinking back on them but growing up it was serious.  I don’t know if it was from years of training in ballet classes or unintentional comments here and there.  But I was messed up.  I thought about my arms, the desirable “thigh gap”, the extra pooch on my lower abdominal (hilarious now, especially after 3 kids in 3 years AND an Umbilical hernia repair).

Anyway, Josh and I were on the road to getting married and I was panicked on how I would look in my wedding dress.  So like any other bride, I dieted way down, subsisting on too little food and too much exercise.  Josh was REALLY excited because he thought I LOVED the gym.  HA!  Fooled him!  But friends, here’s where that landed me, sick. As. A. DOG.  My entire honeymoon.  Literally I spent the whole time we were on our honeymoon with Laryngitis sprinkled with bronchitis and a little touch of pneumonia.  I had run my body down so much that I couldn’t enjoy Mexico with my new hubby.  The pursuit of perfection was NOT worth it.

I thought about 2 years into our marriage.

All I wanted to do was to be the best mommy.  I knew Josh could be a great daddy.  Only it wasn’t happening.  Like FOREVER.  If you all have followed our story for any period of time, you know it took us FOREVER to get pregnant with Madeline (including a birth mother for adoption rescinding her consent).  I spent the majority of 2.5 years fighting feelings of worthlessness.  I wasn’t giving Josh what he wanted.  I couldn’t get pregnant.  A mom who wanted to give her child up for adoption didn’t even what me to be a mom.  I wasn’t perfect and I knew it.  And it almost ruined our marriage.  But GOD…

I thought about when Madeline was born

I was the mom!  And if you’re a mom, you know…Mom’s just know their kids.  I knew the cry for food vs the sound of spit up.  I knew gas bubbles and a full diaper.  And you know who didn’t…Josh.  He was (and is) a GREAT dad. He’s the fun one and played and LOVED Madeline when we were starting out on this adventure of parenting.  But he would hear something, offer his suggestions and I WOULD LISTEN TO HIM!  I would question it in my head.  “She just ate, no she isn’t hungry, it’s probably gas but I am sure he knows better”.  I would go in and feed her, she would spit up all over me, herself, her sheets and be up all night.  I wasn’t even sure enough of myself as a mother to trust the “motherly instinct.”  I would get frustrated at Josh and then spend the majority of the time being upset at me!  I was too concerned with being perfect that I wasn’t even sure enough of my own motherhood.

I thought about Belize

That’s how we got started here on the trip to Belize.  I thought about how I wasn’t quite Belizean and I wasn’t quite American.  American’s wanted to talk about how wonderful life was; I wanted to talk about how I miss Oreos and Chick-fil-a.  Belizean’s wanted to talk about how wonderful it was that I was there; I wanted to talk about how they get ants off their laundry.  And so it was for about 2 of our 3 years there.  I was tasked with being the perfect missionary wife, not complaining, not whining, not missing home. I was tasked with being the perfect missionary (not complaining about the lack of food choices, clothes choice, bugs in cereal pasta or my birthday cake.  This pursuit of perfection was the strangest and strongest I had felt yet and it almost crushed me.

I thought about coming back to the United States

And I was all upside down.  I walked into Target and turned around and walked out.  I’m a mom of small children.  This was my mecca, my nirvana, my Holy Land and I was paralyzed to react or go in.  I get to the grocery store and I am so overwhelmed by the produce section that I cry, literally tears down my face.  Time goes on and I am able to grocery shop but I still can’t bring myself to American Consumerism.  I find myself crushed by the weight of expectations….does my house need to look like a Pottery Barn catalog?  What will my friends in Belize think about me if I buy a new shirt? Or a decorative rug or even a towel?  Are scented candles necessary?  I like my house to smell nice but is that wasteful?

Perfection is not attainable it’s not possible and I wanted it so badly.  Why can’t I be perfectly American?  I’m back here!  Shouldn’t I be American?  Why do I have to be different?  I didn’t fit in Belize and I don’t fit in now.  How can I do this?

I thought about this struggle as the weather started to cool and the leaves start to fall.

My favorite season is here!  I’ve gotten a couple of pumpkin spice lattes and it’s starting to turn a shade of orange in my house.  I ALWAYS want MORE decorations with FALL and of course Christmas being my top two vices.  Being frugal and lived overseas in missions, this struggle is real and intense.  It all boils down to frugality and need vs want.

Anyway I start scouring my house looking for something, anything that I can make “fall-ish”.  I make it through all the kids’ stuff and land on their blocks downstairs.  These 18-inch scrap pieces of 2 x 4 boards are PERFECT.  Giddy I pull out Pintrest and start frantically looking for anything I can do.  The best I find is a painted “rectangle pumpkin.”  I’m intrigued and I have to have it.  Surely they have a pattern I can print and follow, remember it HAS TO BE PERFECT!

One problem.  Nothing.  They don’t have anything.  No pattern.  How will I paint these?  I’m pacing at this point, trying to figure out what to do.  Can I blow this image up trace it on wax paper, etc.  As I am walking back and forth, as intense shooting pain shoots through my heel.  I’m stopped.  I look down and it’s a LEGO.  Frustrated at the lack of cleanliness I go into the boy’s room to put it up and I see the LEGO creations.  I’m immediately reminded of my pursuit of perfection.

My hand goes to my head and I feel my messy bun which is way messier than it is bun.  It’s definitely NOT perfect and I laugh, a HUGE belly laugh.

I feel the extra jiggle in my belly and am reminded about all the stretch marks (3 kids in 3 years does a number on ya).  It’s not perfect and I start to laugh.

I look around at the room, think about our life, and as if a burden was being lifted off of me from the Lord I was free.  No more pursuit of perfection because I am pursuing HIM and I am perfect in HIS eyes because of Jesus.

I got my paints and free-handed those pumpkins.  AND I think they look GREAT.

Why share all of this?  Here’s why. I was paralyzed for a lot of my life with this constant pursuit of perfection, stifling of creativity, etc.  I was more than paralyzed; at times it felt as if I was buried.  At the moment of freedom, it was as if I was breathing fresh crisp fall air for the first time.  It was as if I was honestly tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.  The pursuit of perfection LEFET and Joy entered.  I share because it’s changed my thoughts, my pursuits and my parenting.  I share because I pray you experience that same freedom.

Stop pursuing perfection that’s you will not reach.  Choose joy instead.  It’d be a whole lot cooler if you did!

 

IMG_0421

My free hand pumpkins. Not perfect but I LOVE them

IMG_0422

This is the kids version of perfect LEGO play.

IMG_0430

One of the Tupperware Lego containers now relegated to holding left overs!

Happy Fall Y’all

I can’t believe it’s Fall!  Well at least in this part of North Carolina, it may be “Fall” on the calendar but it’s really SUMMER outside!  Can I just be done with mowing the yard?

Amy and I were talking and we haven’t really provided a basic update on our family in some time so we wanted to do so since school started, we’ve had a court date for the girls, and things with children’s ministry at church are really churning along!!

We still don’t have it all together

Since our last post we are still evaluating if we have it all together in the parenting game.  Two weeks ago, I was home to pick up the kids from the bus stop at the end of the road.   Therefore, Jojo and Madeline were the only ones that were “supposed” to come off the bus.  Only when the bus arrived, Jojo just came off!  I said “where’s Madeline?”  He said “I don’t know.” We walk back home and Amy asks where Madeline is.  I literally just laugh out loud shrug my shoulders and go to call the school.  It turns out her whole class missed their buses because of a scheduling mix up with her teacher.  It sure was hilarious though.  And another feather in the cap of we still don’t have it all together….and that’s ok!

Praise Report

To be honest God has answered very specific prayers of ours over the last few days and we want to celebrate with you.

  • Amy – a potential mentor – Amy is enrolled in Bible Study Fellowship, a weekly Bible study meeting at a local church near our house.  Approximately 200 women attend each week and they are further divided in small groups.  After surveying the scene, Amy asked if we could jointly pray for an African-American older woman to reach out to her.  THE VERY NEXT WEEK, yesterday, GOD ANSWERED THAT SPECIFIC PRAYER!  The hit it off and are looking forward to connecting next week as well!!  PRAISE GOD
  • Dates – Amy and I have been praying for some time to spend with just each other, weekly we were taxed at the end of the day and weren’t able to fully give ourselves over to each other.  We were getting lost in the phones and / or Netflix binge (currently Criminal Minds).  So we were praying for time during the week to have more time when we were fresh!  GOD ANSWERED.  Tuesday and Thursday the young ones are in preschool for a few hours so Amy and I have spent time working together on organizing Children’s Ministry stuff and this past Thursday we went to Chick-fil-A and visited with my grandparents!  GOD ANSWERED our PRAYER!!  Thank you for praying!

Prayer Requests

  • Homework – Homework with 3 kids (2 Kinders and 1 2nd grader) and 2 small ones around is NO JOKE!  Madeline’s homework is all in Spanish and now even I (Josh) don’t know some of the words (relying on Google Translate unfortunately).  Our SPECIFIC prayer request is an attitude shift of Jojo.  He is the type of dude who only likes what he likes to do (play, toys, food, and homework).  So he will breeze through some math but writing his name….UGH!  It took us 2 hours the other day and only 10 minutes of that was spent doing his homework, the rest was him pitching a fit.  Pray for patience and wisdom as we navigate helping him self adjust his attitude about homework.
  • Financial Support – Amy and I have been blessed and y’all have partnered with us for approximately $1000 per month!  Thank you!  We still need to raise an $500 / month in support to meet our overall goal of $1500 / month in support.  That’s only 50 additional families giving at $10 / month.  If God is moving in your heart to partner with us financially in ministry, please reach out to myself or Amy.  We would love to sit down grab coffee, talk on the phone, etc and share how you can be a part of what God is doing in our lives and in Winston!
  • Baptism – Our church is having a BONKERS BAPTISM PARTY the first weekend in November!  Its going to be full of food trucks, bounce houses, and of course LIFE CHANGE.  I’ve had some great conversations with people about their spiritual next steps.  Please be in prayer for myself and Amy as we talk to those in our lives about the GOOD NEWS and are BOLD in asking people to take the next step and GO PUBLIC with their faith!  We can’t wait to share with you how God uses your prayers!

Friends, God’s up to some cool stuff in our family, in our ministry and in the lives of everyone!  Thank you for praying.  Thank you for partnering and Thank you for being on this adventure together.  It’s a blessing to know and love and partner with you all!

IMG_0230

It’s always fun with Madeline and her friends!

IMG_0227

I’ve been eating lunch with Madeline each Friday since she was in Kindergarten.  Jojo was so excited for his very first Friday lunch date!

IMG_0245

My beautiful date at Chick-fil-A.  Thankful for gift cards!

IMG_0268

Madeline danced at the Spanish Fiesta this weekend.  It was of course a Colombian dance.  God has impressed that country on her little heart!