art class line up.

Saturday, May 31, 2014


art class line up.

here are a some of the fun things your kiddos could do in the summer art classes that start in just a few short weeks.

-sculptures of their drawings.
-explore with watercolor.
-experiment with pastels.
-create mixed media art.
-make a masterpiece with acrylic and canvas.
-explore & make a color wheel.
-gain some understanding of art theory.
-create an art journal.
-make paper. (older kiddos)
-twist wire into an animal creation. (older kiddos)

i mean who doesn't want to do all these amazing things.
check out times here!
get your name on the list by emailing me @


or via FB/ text (see here)

it's going to be a beautiful week of exploring and understand how fun art can be.

getting ready.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

we are getting excited for art classes.
sign ups officially start tomorrow.
today it is all about the art enrichment i get to teach to parents tonight.

watch out.
it is going to be a blast.
check out the summertime art tab at the top of the blog.
don't forget to share about it if you are local.
sign your kiddos up for tons of fun & messy & creative work.

we are going to explore different mediums.
learn about techniques.
and likely get a little mess.



we all have a story. GOD IS HEALER!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014



{me to titus}: hey buddy.  how can i pray for you tonight?
{titus}: mom.  sometimes i fall asleep & dream about mama mbuyi & papa beya.  and i get so excited.  and then i wake up and realize it isn't real.  and then i get really really sad.  sometimes i just have to cry.
{me}: oh ty. (yep… i start crying at this point, but he cannot see me b/c its dark in his room.)  you are so brave to tell me that.  that is really sad when we wake up from a dream we really want huh?  if you really did see them, what would you do.
{t}: i would cry.
{me}: i bet. {pause}  you would be so happy if you saw them huh?  what else would  you do?
{t}: i would hug them & then tell them to come meet my new mom and dad.  mom.  wouldn't it be great if we could all live together.
{me}: uhmmm.  YES.  what if they have their own room.  and you have yours.  and levi, ash & j have theirs.  wouldn't that be great?
{t}: yes.  (sigh).  mom how many people in our family?
{me}: 8.
{t}: yes.
{me}: mama mbuyi.  papa beya.  me.  daddy.  titus.  levi.  ash.  jt.  four parents.  four kids.  kind of perfect huh?
{t}: yes.  i'm so glad we have eight people.


loss is hard.  it is hard to grasp.  it is hard to deal with.  it is so beyond hard for me.  i laid down next to titus tonight as we had this long (there was more) conversation about loss.  his loss.  tears rolled down my face.  tears filled his eyes.  i stroked his hair & sweet face.  he opened up his hurts and his heart.  and i was selfish.  i cried tears that hurt me so bad.

i lost my dad.
i was 31.
i thought i was going to never move on.
he is 6.
he lost his parents by the time he was 5.
how the heck does he do it?

he tells me his story.

i rarely talk about my dad.
he talks about his mom so much.

i hurt when i talk about my dad.
he smiles when he remembers his dad.

i block my pain.
he reveals his.

he seems so much further along in his story.
i feel left in the dust.
and right now.  i am okay with that.
i would rather see his healing.
i would rather see God radically show this little guy himself.
it has been my prayer for a LONG time.

i am a reader.  a BIG reader.  i love to fill my brain with beautiful words.  amazing concepts.  gracious wonderful words written by amazing believers who chose to share their hearts & their stories. (and some words just for fun of course).  todd recently told me i need to read a book that he stumbled upon (immmmmmm….. i ALWAYS try to get todd to read.  so when he says read.  i read).  and holy crap!  i am so glad i did.  todd recommended TELL ME A STORY by scott mcclellan.  i was a bit skeptical.  todd isn't a reader of my "kind of book".  BUT… this time he was.

as titus told me a story tonight.  i recalled, yet again… as i have every time in the last 18 months, that a story is healing.  "story is so much bigger than just what we want.  story helps us see beyond ourselves to the forward momentum of our father's world, his kingdom, and our place in it." page 30

because our story is bigger than us.  it is so much bigger than us.  we have a story that is outlined before us.  and it amazes me beyond belief.  "what if we are who God says we are?  what if he knit each of us together and ordained all our days (psalm 139)?  what if he loved us so much he sent Jesus to save us into new life?  what if he directs our steps and makes out a race for us (hebrews 12:1)?  if that's true, then thats the outline of your story.  this outline is at the foundation of who you are and who i am.  the better we understand the story of God and man in the Bible, the better we'll understand our basic identities." page 38

we are who God says we are.  we are wonderfully made (the first verse i taught my boys).  we are created beautifully.  wonderfully.  for a purpose.  {what is your purpose?} he did send Jesus.  our boys spent their first day of sunday school without me this past sunday (ash was in there with them.  so it's kind of like mom was there.  but i really wasn't.)  in class.  they both came home with little door signs that said "Jesus is God's Son".  both could tell me what it said.  both have it hanging from their doors into their rooms.  God sent his Son to be our REDEMPTION (that is the most beautiful word ever).  redemption.  redemption.  redemption.

the word redemption comes from the latin word redimere (to buy back), or redemptio… redeem.  the df: action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.  

it is an action.  the action of saving.  the redemption of God sending his son… it was an action.  it save us.

it is a story.  so ty told me a very little piece of his story tonight.  he told me of his hurts.  his desires.  he made me want to keep listening (but it isn't a hollywood need… it it because he wants someone to know.  someone to listen.  someone to understand).  but you know what?  his story.  it is healing his brain.  it is mending his hurts.  it is REDEEMING his heart.  

our stories.  they heal.  they help.  in truth.  not in a small piece of our story.  but in an entire TRUTH.  that is the key.  if we are truthful about our stories… they heal us.  if we are honest & share with our stories… they help others to face their own stories & allow God to heal them.  they open up truth for others.  for others to be truthful to themselves.  tonight.  ty encourage me.  he encouraged me to remember what i have been teaching him since the moment that he came home and reminded me of the power in our stories.

my story matters.
(his) story matters.
my honesty heals me.
(his) honesty heals his heart.
i am created to be precious.
(he) is created precious. how do i help him to remember this forever?
i have great things ahead because of Jesus.
(he) is made for great things.
i am always in the process of healing.
(he) is healing.  
God is my ultimate story.
God is (his) ultimate story.  

God is his healer.

my story is different than titus's story.  my story is different than yours.  but it is still my story.  just as titus's story is HIS story.  BUT in all cases… yours, mine, titus's… it is a story that God is writing.  it is a story he knows.  it is a story that matters.  that is important.  

{what's  your story?}

a little update on a big thing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

i am so bad at blogging right now.
not because i haven't thought about writing, but because i have been waiting to figure out what i should write.  so i will do a little update about a big thing.

a few months ago i began reading the book "restless" by jennie allen.  the intro to the book on the back cover says this: what if this feeling wasn't a bad thing?  It could be a longing for more of God and a catalyst to living the life that was designed before the foundations of the earth were laid.

drenched within the first few chapters of the book are the beautiful idea of a dream.  a vision perhaps of what God is calling us to do in this unique time in our lives.  "every single on of us is designed to fit into a unique space with unique offerings." (page 4)  "our mattering doesn't depend on a stellar performance.  we matter because we are children of the living, breathing, reigning God of the universe. we matter because we were bought with the blood of the Son of our Father God.  he set us in our spots and in our time." (page 14)  "we have come to treat God as if he exists for us, rather than us existing for him.  as if he is supposed to fit our plans, rather than our only plan being to know him and to follow him.  God is big, but he moves into the small.  God cares about eternity, yet he cares about every second of every human's life.  that is who we serve." (page 28)

i dared to dream & began to ask God what next.  what did he want me to do?  where did he want me to be? what did he want of me?  he answered.  but i still questioned.  i asked again.  i waited.  continued to ask to make sure.  (maybe i should have learned this prior to this moment.  but my fear apparently runs thing sometimes… okay often.  i am working on it.)  and then i was certain.  because the thoughts never stopped coming.  never changed.  and only continued to grow.  until i finally gave in and told todd (completely ready for him to laugh).  his response i will never forget.  "it's about time.  i have been waiting for you to say this."

thus a vision of a ministry was born.

{the short version}:
a ministry focused on helping adopted kiddos & families heal through several different avenues of "therapy" (including neurofeedback) with no cost to families.  yep.  i am going back to school.

{the longer version}:
as todd & i searched through several styles of parenting adopted kids we wished there was someone local who was willing to walk our journey with us.  there is no one here in eastern idaho that is an attachment therapist who believes that connection is the way to heal our kiddos.  NO ONE.  i am seriously not even joking.  we have met road block after road block.  we wanted someone close to where we lived to walk through our journey with us, un-judged with our questions and concerns (oozing empathy and compassion).  our city is filled with people who have adopted.  i see them when i take my boys to neurofeedback every other week.  walking through the stores in town.  there is an group of people out there.  and we ALL need help and encouragement.  to quote a very wise and wonderful person.  "there are 10% of people who will admit & tell you that parenting adopted kiddos is hard, the other 90% are likely not telling you the truth."  (thank you steph for that.  it gets me through sometimes).  we believe that a child who is connected, is a healing child.  the "methods" and "approaches" we take are ALL about the connection we make with out kids. the connected child by karyn purvis & the whole brain child by daniel siegel are two of the most encouraging books we have ever read in relation to all four of our children.  scripture is dripping with the idea of connection.  connection with Jesus… through love.  and man have i learned this year as i have studies the word love that love is shown in more ways than we can ever imagine.

God gave me a direction in which to go.  He showed me what & how.  i was going to go back to school & get a second bachelors in psychology & then continue on to get my masters degree.  my prayer has been this entire time that God would continue to open or close doors, despite my fears, and begin to reveal the how.  and he has.  he gave me what college i was going to attend.  (i was graciously accepted.  all of my other credits transferred.  all i have is upper division psych classes to complete.)  i applied for a grant. (i received the full amount of the grant… unfortunately they only allow it to cover 2/3 of the tuition costs).  my summer session starts in may.  i will be taking psychology of personalities & developmental psychology.  i am in the process of figuring out the remainder of the tuition… BUT GOD has this completely.  todd and i have been in awe of how this entire thing has played out.

the greatest thing is that todd sees this as a ministry for our entire family.  not just me.  he continues to add to my heart and vision for families.  we have this "big dream" that i am not ready to share yet… but if God continues to open things up… it will be amazing.

 because every post needs a picture.  here is levi getting excited.

a year that changed my life.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

oh how life seems to slip quickly through my fingers.  days of not writing turn into weeks and into months.  and quicker than i can imagine… one month turns into two months.  it truly is tragic for me.  i enjoy writing.  i love sharing what God is doing.  how he is moving in our family.  how he is making all things new right before my very eyes.

{it is beautiful}.

this week has been wrought with fear and anxiety (another story for another day), but it has birthed something even greater.  something that i have not done in the past.  over the last 5 years, when tragedy strikes, i always worry.  ALWAYS.  but not this time.  this time i have sought God in a beautiful way.  the way i am supposed too.  is worry still there?  yes.  but did i give it to God?  yep.

in that… if you know me even a little… you know how huge that is.  you know that i tend to make things worse with my thoughts.  i assume the worst.  and believe that everything is the end.  BUT GOD (todd's two favorite words in scripture) has given me so much more as we have walked gracefully through our last year.  he has rocked my faith to the core.  brought me to my knees time and time again.  he has helped me stand.  he has carried me.  he has changed my life.  greater than anything i have ever experienced before.  EVER!  and that is saying a lot given the hurts and experiences my life has dealt my family.

so i stand before you and say this.

God is big and he is also healer.  he is both powerful & compassionate.  he continues to transform our beautiful family.  when we brought our very scared boys home a year ago… i had NO IDEA their hurts.  i didn't understand their fears.  or their tragedy.  BUT GOD allowed us to help coax it out of them.  and we have seen the beautiful benefit in that.  i also have come to understand how rare it is that our boys opened up so quickly to us.  he has taken my gift as a listener and used it to help the boys.  my years of youth ministry have paid off.  i can keep calm in the face of hard/ harsh words.  (thanks girls for coming to me with you issues.  it prepared me for my sons.)

God has shown us so much grace and mercy.  as i was able to finally share with a few women last week, i have been so removed from "real life", or what i thought was real life that i had a hard time recognizing myself.  i had this identity within ministry.  i was proud my entire family was involved.  i loved that i rarely missed a mid-week/ sunday morning "thing".  but the removal from ministry, as i was reminded on friday, is temporary.  it is simply a season.  it brought me to think and process where i was.  yes it is hard.  yes i struggle because if feel alone.  however, it is but a period and something i NEED to do in order to allow God to remind of his grace and mercy.  he has BLESSED us beyond what we can understand.  he has allowed me to see what true sacrifice looks like.  to be reminded of what purpose is and what matters even greater than simply doing stuff, but rather doing "stuff" with eternal purpose.  i am not sure i can do anything again unless it has that purpose for eternity.  i am pointing 4 little people to Jesus so he can rescue souls & capture hearts.  there is nothing greater than that.  nothing more meaningful in this moment.

God's love.  he has bestowed it upon our family.  he has showered titus with it beyond measure.  a year ago… titus was my hardest kiddo.  i kid you not, he is by far my easiest child now.  he is so sensitive.  compassionate.  and God is growing in him a beautiful gift to simply know when someone is having a hard day.  not by the look on their faces, but simply because God is growing love in that little guy that is rare.  yesterday, he could tell i was down.  he walks over to me, while i was sitting on the couch, and asks if he could just sit with me.  he must have sat for 30 minutes holding my hand while everyone else played.  if you were privy to our lives (our dark lives) a year ago, you would have never imagined that it would look like this.  almost every day.  you see… God has taken the hurts of my boys hearts and given them love in a way that is so beautiful.  so poetic.

but here is what you do no know & cannot understand.  our boys have seen hell.  they have seen tragedy after tragedy.  they know things that know 4 year old or 6 year old should know.  BUT GOD spared them so much.  here is what we do know.  here is their story.  (i have permission from them to share… that is so important to me).  their lives are precious.  they are wanted and sought after.  they are amazing & silly little boys.  who were born in a tribe of people who were dark.  their parents were beautiful people.  they loved their sons DEEPLY.  (both boys attest to the love that they remember from both mom & dad).  they remember tribal dances.  walks with mom.  mom feeding levi when he cried.  no matter what.  he cried.  you fed him.  it's what you do.  they remember being carried (the way most african woman carry their kiddos).  and laughter.  but they also remember fear caused by others.  the tragedy of death.  of being hurt by other people.  and their dad defending them.  they recall being shamed by people who called them witches.  BUT GOD allowed them to have the most beautiful relationship with their parents.  even when they were in the orphanage… their dad fought for them.  he told them it was okay to love us.  that we would love them.  BUT GOD!!!  he did these things.  to create two little souls perfect for our family.

tragedy happens, BUT GOD is present.  he is walking us through things now to make us better for things later.  who knew that my dad's death would allow titus & levi to feel comfort.  titus says that his parents and my dad are having a party in heaven.  waiting for us.  so that we can all sing and dance together.  it brought the boys comfort to know that we had that in common.  we experience hurt, BUT GOD is healer.  a beautiful healer.

and my little guys.  my little family.  we can attest to his change.  his healing powers.  his grace.  his mercy.  and his love.  cannot wait for this next year.

just thought i'd leave you with a silly levi picture.

can't argue with a LENS map.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

so.
man.
where to start.

first.  God is amazing.  truly amazing.
he is healer.

second.
shout out to my clifner clan & neurotherapy northwest in spokane washington.

third.
those who helped us get there.  in prayer & financial support (you know who you are).

okay.
a little over two weeks ago, the boys hopped into my car & made a long trek to eastern washington.  it should be said that i HATE to drive.  i am a GREAT co-pilot.  but driving is so not my thing.  i built a bridge, got over my fears, and drove.

and GOD moved.

our first stop.  missoula.  the boys and i swam.  we laughed.  trudged through snow that wasn't there when we went to bed, in our flip flops & flats.

second stop.
a ranch where a family we barely knew, opened their home up to my chaos.  we arrived and immediately started our healing.  we hooked the boys up to neurofeedback less than an hour after we got there.  and i loved it.  we were there, with a mission.  and we plowed through.

the boys and i had our initial scans (the boys scans are from june).  and we went for it.  we each did about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of neuro each day (i am all movie-d out).  titus was the most driven.  he did not give up.  he drank his water like a champ.  and kept going.  wanting to get his "brain strong".

and strength happened.
a week and 1 day after we got to spokane, the boys re-scanned.
i cried.
happy tears.

to see the changes on the brain was beautiful.
but to see the changes in their eyes (especially titus) was precious beyond measure.

we kept at it for a few more days.  the boys and i.  and ms pam (rockstar is the only word i can use for this woman).  the healing was amazing.

please know this: any child adopted has emotional trauma brain.  it's inevitable.  how could they not?  seriously?  how can we not see this?  (i saw it in a brain scan & my boys experienced "minimal"* trauma in DRC).  they are abandoned (even if they tell you it wasn't a big deal... it is).  face the facts.  they are hurting inside.  it will not heal when they stuff it down (levi totally does this).  the brain is a big place that they are able to "conceal" their hurts... even if they don't share it.  also, there are ways to help the healing.  heal the trauma.  i SAW IT!  experienced it!!!  titus had the most severe emotional trauma of the two boys.  when we rescanned... it was mostly gone.  chunks of it had been healed.  GONE.  truly gone.  and we are reaping the blessings of that healing.  their maturation of their brain jumped from 4 1/2 to 7/8 (titus)... he's 6. 3 to 5 (levi)... he's 4.  proof that God heals through the modern technology he has blessed us with.


GOD IS GOOD.  please continue to pray.  we are not done.  levi has had the hardest time with the "new brain" adjustment.  my poor boy is a little off, but God is working through that to change my heart towards what God is doing through him.

this is the day we got home.  love these two little guys to pieces.


*i use minimal loosely.  but our boys had their birth parents until they were 3 1/2 & 5 1/2  years old.  and those are huge jumps in development.  they both love their birth parents (as do we).  they nurtured, carried, and loved their boys deeply.  and those things make it the emotional trauma "minimal".  but they could not shield them from everything.  they witnessed a lot of bad things.  and lets not forget they they were left at an orphanage. even if it was for only 7 months before we came to pick them up.  and the physical abuse that happened in the orphanage hurt titus the most & shut levi down to some things that we have to work on.

i just read from a very dear from of mine... she said, "healing is a journey, it is not a destination."
amen to that.
our journey continues.

but MAN.  God is amazing.


a simple given word.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

a single word.
one.simple.word.
now what?

okay.
backstory.
because that always makes it interesting.
and completely more understandable.

know that this all started with a simple prayer.  [here is where the back story begins].  my worst enemy is my mind.  my thoughts to be exact.  that is where satan attacks.  {and attacks hard}.  always has.

here is an example.  the night after my dad died, i was trying to fall asleep on the third floor of his house.  my sister was on the first floor... which i am not sure why i didn't just go down and talk with her because i am pretty sure she wasn't asleep either.  but that day i had said "goodbye" to a body.  my pops was already with Jesus.  but my brother (i assume it was him) had made sure that i could see my dad at his house, in a non-scary environment, able to say my goodbyes.  i knelt beside him, tears rushing down my face, my sister next to me, my brother across from me, todd by the door, my sisters best friend (someone who is like a sister to me) sitting behind me... and i prayed and thanked Jesus for my dad, for his life, for healing him.  that night i was convinced there was going to be an earthquake.  i woke todd up.  and almost made him drive from west la to la canada to pick up the kids who were staying with my in-laws.  yep.  i was shaking (not the ground).  i was convinced that we were going to all die from an earthquake.   

irrational.
totally insane.
but totally real.
i am immediately brought back to that night.

okay so... since now you see a little irrational thinking that satan decides to use, understand that this is not abnormal for me.  this is a battle i face daily.  always have.  likely always will.  {& yes.  it sucks.}  so in the last few weeks, as we have prepared to go live with people we have only met, as we prepare to spend time in a gracious house of wonderful people, satan has begun his attack on me.

i'll just list my fears.  please read some of this with some sarcasm.
(i like lists).
(all my own fears).
(no one, other than satan, has made me worry about this).
(NO ONE)!!!!!!
i don't parent exactly like the people i am going to be living with.  (what if they judge).
what if my boys get overwhelmed.  (they will.  we have limited them to such a small circle).
what if i cannot handle the boys (they have never been too much for me in 10 months, but thats too rational).
what if i cannot live with other people (yep, my college dorm at long beach state... that's real life crazy... but a house full of believers is too hard?  huh.  interesting).
my boys have reactive attachment disorder. (they don't but that is ALWAYS MY WORRY).
i am going to be judged. (i fear people.  yes i know it's wrong.  but i do).
i will miss my other people.  (todd, ash, jt.  how the heck am i going to function?)
i hate to drive.
people are going to tell me my boys have issues.  (hurt people have said hurtful things in the past, but the people that matter have said they are good... but that doesn't make sense apparently.)

okay.  so in my crazy i asked God to show me how i was supposed to proceed with parenting my little guys.  he gave a clear direction to me.  with is not what i thought i would see... but he did.  then the next morning... in my fears, as i was driving ashlynn to school, i was praying.  i was asking for clarity.  for help.  for understanding.  i got a word.  a single word.  then that word was beaten into me like nothing else.

love.
love is enough.

then, driving down the street... and of course me questioning God on if love was truly enough... got hit in the face with the idea of LOVE.

here is another list:
levi started singing a song that he made up.  (i've never heard it before).  you know what it said?  can you guess?  yep.  you're right.  love.... all about love.  i should note that he never has made up a song before.  he only sings what he knows.

i get home (a little flustered) and have the boys play cars in the front room so i can read.  i needed a little extra morning.  i stumble on a blog SOMEHOW... that said... love is enough.  is showed how God loved us enough and how we are to love our kids.

titus was playing cars and he looked up at me and said, "mom... i love you."  then he just started playing again.  he didn't want anything... if that is what you are thinking.

then i walk down stairs & i had framed this picture days earlier.  but it is the first thing i see.


that same blog i mentioned earlier... talked about a book called "dare to love".
yep.
here i was.
slapped in the face with the idea of love being enough.  


love looks different when you are raising trauma kids.  but really my boys are not "super trauma".  but they are still trauma kiddos.  they had great parents.  they had them for the better part of 5 years (titus)  & 3 years (levi).  in all actuality.  they had them until they were over 5 & 3 years old.  they loved them. miss them.  and still miss them (that will never go away).  they carried them.  loved them.  cared for them.  they gave them love.  nothing else.  love.  so now i will continue that legacy.  God has called me to love these sweet babies.  differently than i thought.  differently, but the same.  but it is hard to explain.

but for my boys.
love is enough. 
because they had love before.
they have love now.
we just need to rearrange the focus.
i don't really know how to explain it.
other than this:

tonight... all 5 (todd was at church) of us chatted about congo.  initiated by levi (rare).  we talked about friends in congo.  about hard times in congo.  about good things.   then about mama and papa (what we call birth parents).  in the end, we were talking about how much mama & papa loved them... even though they swatted (no idea where this word came from.  we don't ever use it.  but levi used it.) them.  (we don't swat our boys... just needed to make this clear.)  BUT in the end.  titus looked at me and said, "mom... they loved us.  like you and daddy love us."

yep God.  i got it.
i know they just need the love that you give.
the love that simply loves.
the love that disciplines.
the love that gives GRACE.
the love of second chances.
the love that allows re-dos.
the love that shows mercy.
the love that helps me remember you.
the love that shows them you.
the love that give us hope.
the love that helps.
the love that gets us though hard times.
the love that directs.
the love that is stern.
the love that is simply love.
the love that you have showed me.
the love that you remind me i need.
the love that helps me remember that satan can "suck it".  (that's what you taught me KB).
the love that is simply that.  love.

because my boys.  they come from a hard place.  but they come from love.  they come from parents who cut their hair (talked about tonight).  a love thought cooked them food each night.  a love that didn't allow them to go hungry.  a love that go angry when they wandered off and were brought home by a neighbor.  a love that visited them at an orphanage.  a love that sat behind a photograph.  a love that took them to church.  a love that was simply... love.  


a love that made us 6 a family.  no matter what you say.  no matter what you do.  no matter how you judge.  we are a family of 6.  birthed out of tragedy.  but healing in LOVE.

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