Seasons in Arkansas {and in Life}

The "seasons" in Arkansas are often the center of jokes year around. They are unpredictable. Some years the icy winter may seem to never fade with a spring that may last for 2 hours before the sweltering summer takes over which leads to a whirlwind of sweating and freezing temps that swing back and forth within a matter of days.

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My kids have a hard time understanding these swings in mother natures hormonal outburst after what seems like months of one extreme or the other. Explaining to them that, although yesterday shorts and flip flops were appropriate, today they'll need boots, jackets, and hats will never get easier. As adults here in the Arkansas' climate, we've just learned that it's life and you just have to check your weather app often.

I wish it were as easy for us adults to learn that "seasons" in life are often as unpredictable as Arkansas' weather. Some years the icy loneliness may seem to never fade. Then a fresh breath of friendship lasting for only a couple hours before the sweltering heat of relational hard-work sets in. Yet, sometimes it leading to sweaty or freezing dynamics swinging back and forth.

I never would have pictured myself in the season I'm in now. I'm not sure I would have signed up for all that's going on if I could have seen what lied ahead. That's probably one of the many reasons God doesn't always just tell us; we'd avoid the rough seasons and try to make things happen on our own, unnatural.

This time 5 years ago, I didn't anticipate my week being full of mainly solo parenting 6 kids ranging from 1-8 years old, running to meetings and visitations and appointments for foster friends, running errands and classes and activities with our bios, cleaning and painting a building built by the Church we helped plant, hosting thanksgiving in my own home and trying to figure out how to see family and friends for Christmas while I sit in my guilt about how behind I am on my homeschooling and my hubs runs circles as a bi-vocational pastor and mail carrier, delivering God's word and US mail within a crazy work and family schedule.

Every time I feel like our family has found the comfortable norm of flip flop weather, a foster placement leaves, a new one comes, our building needs our undivided attention, kids have new needs, our house needs maintaining, part time jobs come and go, and my emotional sinuses go haywire trying to keep up with the changing seasons. Sorry, this doesn't seem to have a resolution at this time. No matter how many things I say no to or different things I trim from my t0-do list, I still feel like I'm being swept off my feet by natural disasters.

Anyone else in this ever-changing "season" of life right now? How do you catch your breath? Get prepared for what's coming?

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The Mercy House Global Market {GRAND OPENING!}

Several years ago, I started following a blog known by the name, We Are THAT Family. I fell in love with the humble, realist, passionate writer who mentored me via the internet in matters of the heart, marriage, and parenting.

I am excited to say I got to meet her at a bloggers conference a few years ago. She was everything I expected: humble, meek, and oozing Jesus. I got to creep along the sidelines and watch as God took her "YES" and transformed it into what only he could. This past weekend, I got to roadtrip with 3 other friends from Arkansas to Texas to see that God-sized dream expanding once again.

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Mercy House Global Market is an extension of the work that has been happening for a few years now. Without giving a complete history lesson, we'll just jump to where it is currently: a fair trade market place with products created by hand from multiple countries where different groups are all fighting for to restore dignity for working women.

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I was honored to meet these ladies in person and be there to celebrate with them at the Grand Opening!

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Can't make it to Magnolia, TX to shop in person, don't fret. You can shop for most of the items HERE or sign up for a monthly club HERE!
I can personally recommend the earring of the month club to start you out ūüėČ

find classier, high quality pics here

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Resetting Halloween

For years, my husband and I have gone all out for Halloween. We love dress-up and that's the best part of Halloween.

From our first Halloween as newly weds all the way through adding 4 children to the mix, we've done couple, group, or family costumes. Having boundaries help make us more creative. Last year was HUGE. My hubs destroyed our house for months getting ready. He put so much into our family's costumes that we took them to the local Comic-book Convention for a costume contest.

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Although it was fun, it also come with tons of stress and each year, the standard for what we were gonna come up with got bigger and bigger. The bar just kept getting so high, I wasn't sure our sanity or checkbook could keep up. I dreamed of the old days when you made up something for Halloween night with randomness you had in your closet, or kitchen drawers. lol I think every kid should experience that fun.

So moms, if you need to reset the bar for Halloween, I present to you: The Boxtrolls!

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Yep, just
*boxes collected, some from neighbors, the weeks right before Halloween, with the bottoms cut out along with holes for heads and arms.
*We even added a bit of dark foundation to make faces appear dirty
*Messy hair helped us appear troll-like.
*Adding some toilet paper on hands and feet made it kinda look like their wrapped limbs.
My hand was bruised a bit and had a blister from cutting the cardboard with scissors {my box knife wasn't as sharp as the scissors} and the TP quickly came off on our trek around the neighborhood making it look like teen vandals traveled with us but this was by Far the easiest costumes to throw together. We were "double waterslide, typerwriter, moving box, music stand, shoes, eggs, diapers, baby doll, and wipes."

A couple people knew who/what we were, possibly because my kids tried to explain, but for the most part, it was hilarious to see people inspecting our kids and laughing because I'm sure they were thinking, "wow. you're wearing a box as a costume." To that I say, "WINNING!" #resettingthebar

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Adventure Awaits {in a shoebox}

In March of 2013, God launched the valley church here in Vilonia AR. He set us out with a mission to make disciples. We plan live in authentic community, learn biblical teaching, serve here in our area, as well as through go there, where ever that may be across the world to do just that.
Clipping along through the story of the valley and what God's doing, we come to April of 2014 when a crazy tornado swept through our town, destroying many things including the building we were leasing. That allowed us to get creative in how to serve our community during that really hard time. 

I share that all so you'll understand the awesomeness of the upcoming date! 

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Since the conception of the valley, part of our attempt to make disciples across the world was to partner with Samaritan's Purse to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes that serve as an amazing, door-opening, tool to share the gospel with children and their families. In the years we've been portable, we still chose to make it a priority to commit to this campaign. 

We have had to let go of a lot of things because it's just too hard to set up and tear down big stuff for just an hour and 1/2 service once a week. This year, I decided to make a BIG display to show the importance of this campaign to our church even if that means a lot of extra work. As a bonus, I think it's helping put a little cheer in our people's already generous hearts.

This week and last week, we collected TOYS! We collect the 5-7 weeks {depending on the year} in preparation for our Operation Christmas Child 2016¬†shoebox Packing Party. ¬†This year it will be November 13th. Our goal is 60 boxes but I think we May just surpass that quickly...ūüė≥ Eeek!

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::Collection Schedule::
10-2&9: toys
10-16: hygiene items
10-23: school supplies
10-30: accessories & boxes
11-06: catch up, bring anything you missed
11-13: PACKING PARTY!!!

The biggest news!? We are shooting for hosting the packing party In. Our. NEW. Building.

This space to worship in and serve from is just one small way God has continually reminded us that He is not done in this city, through us. He has provided *opportunities to build new relation ships,*unique ways to keep serving, *new families to join in our mission, and *faithful ways for us keep making disciples locally and across the globe.

The adventure awaits! You just have to be willing to take part. God's story is so vast and He invites us into it; isn't that inconceivable?! For many children in poverty-stricken parts of the world, their hope of being apart of God's adventure awaits in a simple [Operation Christmas Child] shoebox gift that might just come from us...or you.

Adventure Awaits! How will you respond?

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Why We Name-Call in Our House

I know most families are hardcore against name calling but somehow, in our home, we've become big-fat-name-callers...and I've decided I'm okay with it.

Why WE NAME CALL in Our Family

You'll hear the following "names" thrown around quite often. Sometimes by my kids but learned from me. I want my children to be able to name it when their dark, wicked little hearts are ooze sin.

Ugly:  a term used to describe the actions of someone who is acting rudely/unpleasantly to others

Jerk: a contemptibly obnoxious person who "jerks" people around out of hatefulness

Punk: a person who goes around starting fights and brings about division {like a smoldering stick used for lighting firework fuses}

Bossy: a person who tells others what to do in a mean, self-righteous manner

Toot: a person acting "stinky", foul, unmannerly {like stinky passing of gas}

It's actually quite simple to teach littles to name the fruit they should be oozing; they're used to practicing opposites! Here are some of the opposite "names" we call each other at home as well. In all honesty though, we do need to get better at identifying these when they come out naturally, as positive reinforcement rather than a comparison lecture when the sin rears its head.

Beautiful/Handsome: acting gentle/pleasantly to others

Lady/Gentlemen: respectable delightful person who encourages others with love

Kind/Helpful/Thoughtful/Peacemaker: a person who seeks to keep peace or bring about unity

Leader: a person who shows people with their actions the direction they want others to go, guiding them gently

Sweet: a person acting pure, pleasant, well-mannered

I'm thinking I should make up some printables to go with these that could hang on the wall for my kids. I don't know about you, but our family does well with visuals.

What about your family, are you name-callers?

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