Archive - 2014

1
Be Kind
2
David Landrith (1963-2014)
3
Goodbye to A Road Home. Goodbye Normal.
4
Back to School Giveaway: Armed with Truth
5
Summer Oils! My top Four.
6
Strawberry Jamming
7
Protected: A High Standard on Serving Guests with Disabilities
8
Dangerous Love: A Mother’s Day Confession
9
Armed with Truth!
10
Staying Home: 6 Months In

Be Kind

I had a series of experiences yesterday that left me a little hurt and a lot annoyed. After learning the news about our Pastor, see previous post, and making it through school drop off I was in a really weird emotional place.

So what do I do when faced with weird emotions? I go to Target to take advantage of the buy $50 in groceries and receive $10 off. I had coupons to stack so this was starting to seem like a really great distraction. My 3-year-old was with me so I decided to buy his silence with a snowman cookie from the Starbucks conveniently located inside the Target. Y’all know that’s a trap right? Starbucks and Target dollar bins within feet of each other? They can now guarantee that you’ll spend at least $10 before you hit the actual store.

As I settled Liam into the cart I heard another small child throwing down and thought “Thank the Lord that’s not me today” because normally… that is me. Liam gets super over-stimulated in stores, he has since the day he came home. It’s just something we deal with. The over-stimulation manifests itself in meltdowns and what looks like pure naughtiness. And people LOVE to comment, just loud enough so I can hear them. Some of my favorites are “I know a way to stop that screaming”, “That kid needs a good spanking” and the classic “I would give him something to cry about.” I’m pretty certain that if I started beating my kid in Target it would NOT make him stop crying, but thanks for the passive aggressive advice fellow Target/Kroger/Aldi shoppers.

But TODAY. Today, we had a cookie. A little snowman-shaped miracle.

As we made our way through the store the cookie went from frosted perfection to a crumbled mess that Liam started to smash everywhere. It was beginning. I took a second to remove the cookie and clean the crumbles out of Liam’s hair. Cookie crumbs and Afros do not mix friends. Then he asked to walk and I reluctantly allowed him to do this. After all, things seemed to be going well today. That lasted a few moments at most, Liam broke free from the cart and literally started sprinting through the Target. I tried to offer him the chance to make a good decision but that wasn’t even on the table anymore. So here I am sprinting through Target, people shaking their heads at me, and Liam enjoying the whole thing. And yes, more of those just loud enough to hear comments.

I finally collected my son and strapped him, screaming, into the cart. And this is how we spent the rest of our time in Target. And no. I did not leave, nor should I. If I started leaving stores every time my son had a meltdown we would never have toothpaste, or groceries or clothes… you get the picture.

Later that day Liam and I were in the car rider line waiting to get the big kids from school. The kids had successfully made it into the car and the signal was given for cars to start moving. However, the car in front and to the right of me was not moving and the door was open. This prevented me from going forward.

I waited patiently, I could see they were still getting the kids settled and it would be dangerous for me to move. A large truck behind me started to honk. I pointed to the car with the open door and the dude honked all the more and gestured back at me. I was annoyed by this time and made a face at him in the mirror and moved my hands around a little. So tough. The car in front finally moved and the truck sped around so it was beside me (remember we are in a school pick-up zone) and the guy again gestured to me and gave me “a face.”

So why am I telling you stories from my day yesterday? And I promise you, the above is a normal day for me if you add in kids fighting and one raging and cooking dinner and someone poking the dogs eye…

I’m telling you these things to remind you, not how hard my days are, but how hard days are for those around us. That guy behind me? Who knows what hardship he is carrying, what weight might be on his shoulders. The people in the store? While I want to just call them dumb and be angry I have to consider that their passive aggressive comments may be a result of deep hurt and pain.

And crap. I kinda feel bad for waving my hands around a little at the truck guy.

The Christmas season just ramps up everyone’s sadness, joy and anger all at the same time. We have an opportunity to be kind this season. KIND in the face of snarkiness, impatience, and rudeness. Not just paying it forward when you order a coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru but really seeing people and the hurt that they carry below the surface. Just try it. Assume that hard battles are being fought, because they are.

 

 

David Landrith (1963-2014)

On November 18, 2014, Pastor David Landrith finished the race that God had called him to run on this earth. This video is a glimpse of the hope he lived in.

Today will forever leave a mark on our lives as we begin to stumble through the stages of grief. While our grief would never aim to make a monument of a man, those who knew David cannot help but grieve a world without him. Our pastor could be counted on to share Biblical Truth, something that seems rare with every passing day.

So church, as we fumble around today and in the coming days… crying, being together, making it to the grocery store… let us not forget the words our pastor led us with. Let us not forget the promises. Jesus has healed Pastor David, and us, of the greatest sickness- sin and death.

Yes. We prayed for healing, holding nothing back, and God answered with Eternal healing. Oh, can you imagine how David Landrith was received into Heaven this morning?

Our pastor did such an amazing job preparing us, and modeling a life of hope that it would be shameful to do anything but enter the next days with a passionate desire to share that hope. I pray that as this new chapter unfolds we would be found holding each other up, that we would celebrate David’s life and teaching by continuing the work.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)

Please be in prayer for Pastor David’s family, their grief far exceeds what we can imagine. May the God of peace comfort them in this time. Let them be held when they cannot walk.

Goodbye to A Road Home. Goodbye Normal.

My contribution to the blog world has been silent for the last few months. There are times when a step into the shadows is necessary. I’ve been fleshing out what I want to contribute to the already bustling digital world, considering whether another blog on family life was even necessary. After all the pondering and melancholy afternoons I’ve chosen to move forward, communicating the most honest space we’ve ever lived in.

A Road Home was a chronicle of the beautiful stories that brought our family home, Goodbye Normal embraces our daily walk through trauma, special needs parenting, faith, and you know… crafting. Because as crazy as we feel most days there always seems to be a reason to sew up some ruffled pants or paint the cupboards. That’s our weird, messy life. Goodbye Normal doesn’t embrace existing in the pit, it embraces living in the freedom of God’s promises. It embraces the realization that pushing for perfection just isn’t worth it.

I’m giving up on Normal.

Back to School Giveaway: Armed with Truth

I have THREE kids starting school next week. I’m not sure how that happened but I’m pretty thankful that Liam will be keeping me company at home for a few more years. Who knows what I’ll do when all four are in school. Maybe that’s when I’ll finally clean the baseboards. Maybe.

As back to school looms, just days away, I’m preparing my little folks for test-in days, cafeteria protocols and behavior expectations. I am always working to prepare their hearts. They are leaving the safety net of our home where faith is celebrated. We are excited to incorporate Armed with Truth into our back to school routine this year. By wearing truth on their arms they will have a constant reminder of God’s love and faithfulness as they navigate new territory.

I would love to share this opportunity with you as well! Thanks to my friends at Armed with Truth I’ll be giving away a $15 credit to their online store!

Comment, Share on Facebook, Tweet or repost on Instagram to win! One entry per action. Let me know what actions you’ve taken and use the handy social media buttons below! Winner will be announced on Tuesday.

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UPDATE: Congratulations Molly Taylor, you are the Winner Winner!!

Summer Oils! My top Four.

We are in full swing 90+ degree Summer time! And I love it! With a few favorite oils at my fingertips this Summer is getting even better!

Here are my four favorite oils for Summer, beating the heat, bug bites and headaches that abound.

1. PastTense:We had a wedding this weekend. Liam was the ring bearer. I spent most of the day chasing him around in the heat. Once we were home later that night I was exhausted and had quite a headache going on. I applied PastTense (as usual) to my temples and down the back of my neck. Magical. Headed right to bed, free from headache pain. My favorite.

Facts: PastTense®, dōTERRA®’s proprietary blend for tension and the discomforts associated with headaches, provides calming comfort with the strength of CPTG® essential oils of wintergreen, lavender, peppermint, frankincense, cilantro, marjoram, roman chamomile, basil, and rosemary. Packaged for convenient application in a roll-on bottle. For aromatic and topical use.

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2. Purify: I mix 20 drops Purify, 10 drops Lavender, 1/2 tsp of Witch Hazel and Sweet Almond (or fractioned coconut oil) in a roller ball to make the best anti-itch remedy I’ve ever tried. Hands down. No second application needed, this mix knocks out the itch and burn from mosquito bites and the like. Purify will also relieve itch and pain from bites on it’s own, but that combo is soooo good. Purify is also lovely for making cleaning sprays, applying to spider bites and deodorizing a kitchen after cooking.

Facts: From bug bites to sneezes, protecting yourself is more important than ever. Purify is dōTERRA®’s formidable blend of CPTG® essential oils designed to eliminate odors and other contaminates naturally, without toxic additives. Its refreshing aroma quickly eradicates unpleasant odors and purifies the air and environment with the essential oils of lemon, lime, pine, citronella, melaleuca and cilantro. For aromatic or topical use.
index3. Peppermint: Also a great headache reliever, I typically use this for sinus pressure or pressure headaches when storms are brewing. Peppermint can be applied to forehead and back of neck as a quick way to cool down as well. Another fun method is putting a few drops in a spray bottle with distilled water. Spritz on when the heat is particularly bad. Peppermint is a natural way to keep spiders at bay. Mix 10-15 drops in a 6 oz. spritzer bottle and spray around doors and window sills.

Facts: Peppermint is popular in countless forms, from toothpaste to chewing gum. As an essential oil, it is useful to ease breathing and as a digestive aid*. For aromatic, topical, or dietary use.

15ml_Peppermint4. Lavender: Lavender can be used to soothe a sunburn, and it’s lovely! Apply a few drops of lavender onto a cool, wet washcloth and place on sunburned area or apply the lavender directly onto the burn. You can also make a cool bath with 10 drops of lavender. Lavender is also great for skin abrasions, rashes and cuts. Lastly, use it on the bottoms of feet to help you wind down after a fun Summer day.

Facts: Lavender has been cherished for its unmistakable aroma and its therapeutic properties for thousands of years. Lavender is widely used and accepted for its calming and relaxing qualities. For topical, aromatic, or dietary use.

15ml_LavenderObviously Terrashield would be my #5, but I’ve already blogged about it here.

To order any of the products mentioned above click here or contact me to order. Happy Summer!

**I am not a doctor or physician and my advice should not be taken as such. I am a wellness consultant with Doterra and my advice comes from personal experience and the book Modern Essentials.**

Strawberry Jamming

I love local food. I really love local pesticide-free food. Especially strawberries. This year we took the whole crew, including my visiting parents, out for some good ol’ strawberry picking fun. With my parents in tow this meant we had a one child to one adult ratio. I’m thinking that must be what Heaven is like.

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We picked 18 pounds of strawberries. We definitely enjoyed a few pounds washed and eaten straight out of the bowl. But we had enough discipline to make jam and bags of frozen strawberries with the remainder. First off here’s the method we used for freezing whole strawberries to save for juicing and smoothies. And now for the ultra-relaxed jam method:

Strawberry Freezer Jam/Strawberry Mint Freezer Jam

(I did two batches for a total of 16 c. strawberries)

Ingredients:

8 cups washed and de-stemmed strawberries, 1 cup local raw honey -yes that’s it-

Six 10 ounce jelly jars with rings and tops (Freezer safe)

Method:

Wash and Remove stems from strawberries, I use a grapefruit spoon, so easy!

imagePut Strawberries into a pot or large bowl to mash. I just used the pan.

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Once strawberries are mashed, put heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Add Honey.

imageimageimageStir, Stir and Stir frequently. Once it hits a boil lower the temp and simmer. Continue to stir periodically and watch.

Begin watching for thickness. I read lots of tips for how to do this but none really worked super well for me. My best tip is to feel the thickness with your wooden spoon when you stir. Hopefully that makes sense! I know… all the recipe followers are like “feel it? really Erica?” I’m not a good recipe writer. But I promise, you will feel the thickness change as you stir. This isn’t totally science. Your strawberries might be in a different mood than mine and take longer to thicken.

Once you’ve “felt the change” move the mixture away from the heat and let it cool a bit. Just for reference, it took my strawberry/honey mix 40 minutes to thicken the way I wanted.

When you make freezer jam without add-ins the texture will NOT be like a jelly. It will be a thick jam with little pieces of Strawberries. And it will be perfectly amazing.

Let the jam cool until you can stick your finger in it comfortably. Yes, I know, there I go with the crappy instructions again. Warm your jelly jars a little by placing them in a pan or sink of warm water.

Ladle jelly into jar and seal with lids. Leave some space at the top of the jar to allow for any expansion that might happen in the freezer. Let the jars hang out for awhile and continue to cool down. Once they have cooled stick those delightful things into the freezer for a rainy day.

imageI added mint from my garden to the second batch. The exact variety I used was chocolate mint and it turned out so yummy. I finely chopped and added the mint about 10/15 minutes before the jam had thickened to my liking.

Oh… and this guy was my helper. He made the jam just a little sweeter.

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Protected: A High Standard on Serving Guests with Disabilities

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Dangerous Love: A Mother’s Day Confession

There are things I’ve contemplated sharing for the past ten months. Things I thought, felt and experienced during a time when the title “mommy” stretched me further than I was really okay with. I’ve prayed about sharing, wondering if there were friends, mommas, daddies that needed to hear my heart. And it’s finally time. And it’s conveniently two days before Mother’s Day.

The refining process is not easy and it’s not over. Especially when you find out that your heart issue is standing in the way of redemption. When Lola became our daughter Lola wasn’t ready to be part of a family. She wanted it, but the transition is harder than little hearts can ever imagine. In addition to being an “older child” Lola has a severe vision impairment. She has a lot to overcome.

We launched into a very hard year. I watched my other 3 children experience hurt and anxiety as we tried desperately to curb Lola’s extreme raging. She got all of us, our energy, our time… or so I thought. I was hurting so badly and honestly if one more person told me how cute she was I thought I might actually punch them in the face. We tried everything and anything under the sun. Read the books, did the therapy, went to Vanderbilt. We had one late night conversation where Calvin and I wondered out loud why we were chosen, even questioning if God got it wrong. Those are dark moments. It’s hard to watch your children who seemed well adjusted launch into anxiety attacks and night terrors. I started to think my calling was hurting them.

But in the morning, which is promised to bring Joy. God impressed truth into my heart. Like mighty, refreshing wind God spoke and my mind was filled with truth.  They aren’t yours, they are mine! They are part of this redemption. They will not be lost. They are loved. They cannot be sheltered from pain, that’s not your job! Teach them to love like me! You are not salvation, I am! Look for me and teach them to look for me too! They will grow up knowing life is not good but I AM!

I surrender. In my imperfection I surrender. In my desire to control and fix and perfect I surrender.

There was freedom in surrender. And with that came the freedom to give Lola all of me. I mentioned above that Lola was getting all of us. I believed that lie for approximately 8 months. And the reality hit me so hard and fast that I could barely stand the weight of my heart-breaking position in her life.

I was so consumed with her hurtful behavior toward me that I closed off a little piece of my heart. I protected it, saved it for the other 3 who wanted to cuddle and could make it through Target without tearing everything off a shelf.

For Lola and I to succeed as Mother and daughter I had to open up that closed door. I had to let her hurt me like a daughter can hurt a mom. When that door is closed, when you protect your heart it doesn’t hurt when your child lashes out at you. It was time to be hurt and hurt with her because that’s what she deserves. Who am I to try to feel safe and warm and fuzzy? Who am I to try to protect myself from my child, my daughter.

So I opened my heart to all the dangerous love.

It’s been about 2 months since that dangerous love started taking place. Did it magically solve the things we struggle with? No. But do I see a change? Yes. Children know when you don’t give them full and complete love. They know how to spot the imposters. They are smart and wonderful and worth it. And they will call you out. Maybe not verbally, but in body language and actions they will CALL YOU OUT.

Healing and redemption are coming. Little by little. And it wasn’t up to Lola to engage this change. It was up to Calvin and I as her parents. To trust God, to trust our hearts and to trust the HIGH calling God has given us as parents. When I think about the family I’ve been given I can’t help but feel so inadequate, so undeserving of this challenge. Why did you trust me to get this right God??

And then I hear that whisper that becomes a roar. You aren’t going to get it all right, but if you take the wisdom and guidance I provide in abundance I will walk with you and I will Lead you and in THAT you will find success.

HoFamily80

Armed with Truth!

The kids and I were so excited to receive some very fun mail from Armed with Truth yesterday. We immediately tatted ourselves up with their cool line of temporary tattoos which feature scriptures and designs with biblical themes. Elliott has already started memorizing his first verse and is excited to show them off at school today. This is such a fun way to get scriptures into their little minds and to help them share with their friends as well! And I was getting inspiration for my next real tattoo.

If you’re wondering about the thought and mission behind the tattoos, check out this statement from their site:

”We believe one of the most powerful ways to survive this crazy world is to have the Word of God written on your heart. When Jesus faced opposition, he answered the problem and lies with scripture. We ought to do the same. Yet, the process and practices of memorization are tough. We have tried it all: flash cards, sticky notes, covering one eye, you name it. The snazzy smartphone app was least effective because of the endless distractions that come with smartphones! Ugh!
We knew there had to be a better way….
We set out to make a way to get scripture into your memory bank by allowing you to take advantage of all the micro moments in life. If you don’t have a lot of time (like us), spending 25-30 minutes to memorize scripture isn’t something most people can maintain. We wanted to create a way people to take all their wasted micro moments in life (standing in line, at a stop light, in a drive through, in an elevator, riding a bike and even taking a shower) and make them opportunities to memorize scripture.
Armed With Truth was born to give you a ultra convenient (yet dashingly fashionable) way memorize scripture for a few seconds a day –everyday. The temporary tattoos are made for your inner wrists and will last for up to 7 days and are ready at all times for you to be encouraged and empowered. Each pack contains 10 verses centered around a transformational theme — from knowing your Identity in Christ to becoming a Change Maker. Over 100 verses in all to transform your mind and equip you with the Word of God.”

Check out our pictures and stay tuned, there just might be a giveaway coming up!

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Staying Home: 6 Months In

April marked 6 months of me in my new role, stay at home mom. Weird phrase right? Homemaker? Maybe that’s better. I’m not really sure. But I DO know, I don’t actually stay at home all day.

I remember the out-of-home working experience well. I miss it at times. I also remember thinking how awesome it would be to spend a few rainy days on the couch snuggling with kiddos. Another thing I don’t actually find myself doing. I do find that somehow the house is messier and I’m really bad with keeping the dishes washed. I’m not so great with that aspect of homemaking. In addition to caring for these kids of mine I’m also doing lots of randomness to make up for lost income. It’s a fun challenge for me. I love seeing what kinds of projects I can come up with or how creative I can be with our finances. Selling random stuff on Ebay has become a strange addiction.

The finance thing? I was so nervous about that. Like panic attack nervous. I would look at the monthly  stuff and think, nope there is no way. We are a debt free family apart from home mortgage and adoption debt we incurred during our very fast paced China adoption. Fortunately that adoption debt is interest free. But yes, it was still panic inducing to step away from my income.

But here we are 6 months in. We don’t really eat out, we shop consignment, we have netflix and homemade popcorn for date nights… but we are good. We are better in many ways. We aren’t suffering or watching our bank account plummet into nothingness. (which, silly me, thought would happen instantly) We are being smart and caring for our family in a more hands on way than ever before.

Here’s the stupid thing. I was So worried about all of the above when I claim not to be a materialistic person. And I’m not, I wasn’t. It wasn’t the loss of access to excess that scared me, it was the feeling of instability. The feeling of having the choice for excess taken away. Control. That’s the bottom line. I was afraid of losing control.

Once I surrendered to what was clearly God’s plan for our family, and transferred control to its rightful place I found my peace.

Man, peace is good.

Will i do the stay at home gig forever? Probably not. But this is my season and we are about to embark on the best Summer ever.

All Content © Erica Ho, Goodbye Normal