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Random Acts of Kindness

Y’all. Tears of joy and gratitude today. 

I recently shared on Facebook a photo of a backpack my daughter wanted from our local grocery store.

She has wanted it since school supplies first came out, but I couldn’t justify spending $30 on it at the time. Well, they are finally marking backpacks down, but not the one she wanted. So I asked friends to keep and eye on it, and if they saw it marked down to either please pick it up for me, or let me know so I could run up there to get it.

This weekend, God showed up in the form of a Random Act of Kindness from a “Mystery Friend”.

God’s plans are better than ours. We could have bought this backpack for our daughter. She could have learned a lesson in delayed gratification. But God had something bigger in mind. This “Mystery Friend” included a card with a special Bible verse that teaches about doing for others. This friend gave us a wonderful opportunity to point our kids to scripture. To teach them about loving others in the name of Jesus. About doing kind deeds because it’s the right thing to do. It’s fun. 

My daughter is already planning out ways to be a “Mystery Friend” to others. While the backpack is great, and will get much use as camping season is upon us, the true gift our friend gave us was this life lesson found in scripture. So thank you.

May you be blessed, because you are a blessing.

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Mommy. I’m afraid I’ll have bad dreams.

Every night my son asks me to pray for him and his bad dreams. So every night I pray, and ask God to guard both kids hearts and minds. To remove fear and anxiety from them. To allow them to have peace and to have happy thoughts to dwell on as they drift off to sleep…

Sometimes, we all still have bad or scary dreams.

So part of my prayer is also this: Father, if the kids should have a bad dream, please help them to also feel your presence. To know that they are never alone. Let them feel your love. To know you are real…

I can’t stop the bad in the world. But I can call out to the One who is able, and who one day will make all the bad and evil go away. I want my kids to know they can always cry out to God. So my prayer also goes something like this…

Father, help my kids understand and know that they can talk to You about anything. When they are scared they can call out to You. Help them to trust you Father. Help them to have the desire to know You more. To build a real and lasting relationship with You. To desire to know Your Son, and to trust Him for eternal life…

My kids are still young. They are still learning and growing in their faith. I believe that they both know and believe in Jesus. But they are still learning to go to Him when they are afraid. So they come to me. It’s my job to be there for them, and to pray for them. To go before the Lord on their behalf. And what a privilege that is. To hold them in my arms and pray aloud for them. To point them in the way they should go. To show them Jesus, with my words and actions. Wow.

Father help me to always point them to you. Help them to know that they can always come to me with any fear, worry, or happy news. Allow me to show them comfort and love, Father. To cry when they cry and rejoice when they rejoice. And Father, please help them not to have bad dreams.

Curriculum – my opinion (for today)

I’ve had the opportunity in just the last month to talk curriculum options with 3 different people! They were all looking for a low cost option. So I thought I would share my suggestions here, in case any of you are looking for something new, or perhaps you know someone who could use this information as well. (PSA: As I continued typing this blog though, this post took on a life of its own. Still, I hope it is useful to you and your family.)
 
There is a HIGHLY recommended FREE Christian homeschool curriculum available online. I have never used it, so I cannot talk about it from personal experience – however, it comes up quite often in the different groups I am in (and it is a Cathy Duffy top pick, which is a big deal in the homeschool world). You can learn more about it here: https://allinonehomeschool.com/
 
And then, as most of you know, we adore Master Books curriculum. We switched to their curriculum this year, but have been buying books they publish for several years. (They publish several books for Answers in Genesis, and some of our other favorite authors, like Israel Wayne and Todd Friel.) You can learn more about them here: https://www.masterbooks.com/r/5273/
(This is not an affiliate link, as I do not get paid for endorsing them. However all their customers get a referral link, and should you order from mine, I get points to save up to use for future purchases.)
One of the things I love about them, as with their “create-a-bundle” options, you can select books that fits your child’s interest and learning level, and fits your wallet.

MB2017

 
One of my dear friends has always used My Fathers World curriculum, as does her mother in law (who has homeschooled and graduated 6 children). My friend just graduated her oldest son, and has 3 more still at home. They love this curriculum, and so do I! I have loved watching her kids learn and grow from it over the past 10 years or so that we have been friends. They were huge in influencing our decision to homeschool.

You may ask, well, why don’t you use MFW if you like it so much? Great question! And one I love to answer! Not every curriculum is right for every family. Trust me. I wanted to use MFW. You should have seen me stalking their booth at homeschool conventions. However, it just never felt right. My husband can testify to the night that I came home crying from The Homeschool Book Fair when our daughter was just 3 years old. I went with the intention to buy MFW preschool curriculum, and came home with Heart Of Dakota. I cried because I had planned on using MFW since before we even had kids! I had their catalog memorized. I could navigate their website with my eyes closed! But after praying through it, I knew it wasn’t right for our family. That made me sad. But my tears were also of joy, because I had found something I had never even heard of, and when we looked at it, an overwhelming peace came over me. It was the right choice. At that time. Now we are with Master Books. And while I would love to say that we will stick with them until our kids graduate, I cannot say that with certainty. We will continue to pray over our choices each year, and we will see where the Lord leads us.

 
Only you know what is right for your children. Pray. Don’t rush into anything. You don’t have to do what is popular, or what everyone else is doing. (You do, however, have to follow your states requirements 😉 ) You most certainly do not have to take my suggestions. You know your kid best. You know their learning style. You know your teaching style. Do your research. Pray. Please ask questions. At the end of the day though, the decision is all yours. Don’t panic about it. Have fun with it.

Some other fun curriculum “ad-on” options that are worth looking into:

Overstretched

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8New King James Version (NKJV)

“Everything Has Its Time

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.”


Y’all. My heart is broken. Yet in this heartache I still find peace. 


Tonight I had to give up something I love dearly. Something I’ve worked so hard for. Something I treasure.

However, I also find myself breathing a sigh of relief. And this also makes me sad. Because as much as I loved this which has ended, I’m also tired. It’s hard to be Jesus when your heart is hardened (for whatever reason). 


We never wanted to be one of those families who was running and going in a hundred different directions and busy every day and night of the week, yet we found ourselves facing that slippery slope. 


So I know that even though it hurts to say goodbye, that it is for our good. I don’t think I would have ever willingly left, even when toying with the decision, it is better that the decision was made for me.


I will treasure the memories, and the friendships made. Those cannot be taken away. I will seek God’s will for our future endeavors, and take this time of rest and to pray. To build up, encourage, train, and disciple my children. To cherish the time I have with my children, and my husband. To seek God’s good and perfect plan for us. 


I don’t believe that includes us being overstretched.


And that is how it is with most families, is it not? It seems more and more people are finding themselves overstretched, trying to go in too many directions at the same time. Well, friends, let me ask you this. Is that which is taking up most of your time worth it? Does it fit the criteria of Philippians 4:8?

Philippians 4:8English Standard Version (ESV)

“8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

When a rubber band is overstretched it becomes weak. It eventually gives way, and breaks. Are you near your breaking point? I was. I just didn’t want to admit it.

I think more of us need to pray, and ask God to shift our priorities. To line them up with His. To sift things out, if necessary. Even if it breaks our hearts.

God, please forgive me for allowing my priorities to get out of whack. For building up idols. Thank you for refining me. Though it hurts, I know I’ll be better once you bring me to completion. God, I love you. I thank you for the season I had, and though it was shorter than I ever dreamed it would be, it was good, and I praise you for that. Create in me a clean and pure heart, ready to do your will.

Needed encouragement

Oh sweet mommas. Do you ever feel down? Discouraged? Wondering when or if you will see the fruits of your labor. I do. Daily.

I’m readily frustrated. Easily discouraged. When the kids argue. When they ask a million questions. When I’ve answered the same question 5 thousand times. When they want something to eat, so I feed them and then I fix myself something to eat and finally sit down, only to hear one of the wee one say “mommy, I want more.” So I sigh.

“Mommy! He’s being mean on purpose!”

“Mommy! She doesn’t want to play with me!”

“Mommy! I’m hungry!”

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”

Some days, I’m just tired.

Some days, I just need some quiet.

They are not bad, or misbehaving. They are just being kids. I need to show them love and grace. I need Jesus to help me, because I’m tired, and can’t do this whole mom thing on my own.

Then there are days like this past Saturday, when out of nowhere my daughter comes up to me, gives me a big hug, and says “thanks for everything you and dad do for us.” Then she walked off to play some more with her brother. All the while I just wanted to melt, and cheer, and cry at the same time.

And there are days like today, when we finish our school work for the day and my son comes up and says “Mommy, I’m glad you’re my teacher!”

Y’all. My heart needed these words of encouragement so much. Mom-ing is hard. But it is oh so worth it. 

Thank you, God, for allowing me this glimpse of what you are doing in their lives. For this joy in the chaos. For this reminder to keep fighting the good fight. I love them so much, and I’m so thankful that You choose me to be their mom. Help me keep these sweet memories close to my heart, and bring them to mind on the days it’s oh so hard. 

Simple Silly Answered Prayer

So earlier today the kids and I went to ALDI and my sweet girl child found a cute little porcelain tea set that she said world be perfect for playing with her dolls. I told her we couldn’t get it today, maybe next time – there were 7 of them.

Fast forward about 6 hours later, I go back by myself because I forgot something for dinner. I go to grab one of these tea sets for her — AND THEY WERE ALL GONE!!! I began searching through every box and shelf looking to see if someone had put one in the wrong spot. I began praying, “Please God, just one. I need to find one. Please let someone have set one down in a random spot. Please!” I know it’s silly, it was just a cheap $5 tea set. but the excitement and joy that was on her face when she saw it… I just really wanted her to have this. I wanted to see that joy and excitement again on Christmas morning… 

So I began making my way further down the aisle, still looking behind each box, under things… Still praying… Then imagine my shock and amazement when sitting on top of popcorn was not one, BUT TWO, tea set boxes!! “Thank you Jesus! Praise you God!” I said right there in the middle of the aisle. I took a quick photo because I wanted to share this answered prayer with you all. 

I wanted to remind you that no request is too small for God. He cares about the little things. He loves us. Every thing about us. He will experience joy, when I experience joy, when my daughter experiences joy as she opens this simple gift on Christmas morning. 

As a parent I enjoy giving my kids gifts. We don’t do it often, so they are special treats reserved for birthdays, Christmas, or random special occasions. And if I receive so much joy in doing this, how much greater is the joy of my father in answering what was such a simple and (in my opinion) silly prayer. 

So yes, thank You God for loving me, for loving MY sweet daughter, and for hearing me when I cry out to you in the grocery store. What a sweet and precious reminder that You are always with me, and You hear me. 

A gathering place.

** This post was inspired by the new book: Listen, Love,  Repeat by Karen Ehman which releases November 15th! You can purchase a copy at http://listenloverepeatbook.com **

I am thrilled to be a part of another launch team for one of my favorite authors – Karen Ehman. You may recall when I had the opportunity to be on her Hoodwinked team. 

This time I get to preview her book Listen, Love, Repeat. Let me tell you – It’s a game changer! This opportunity has come at a perfect time, because I’ve been praying for God to help me be a better friend. I love my friends, and I’m certain they know this. I’m a great listener, and I love nothing more than to have the privilege to pray with them… But I want to be good at the little things… I really want to go beyond the ordinary. 

This book is helping me to see ways to do just that. I loved learning about “heart drops” in chapter one. 

As a launch team we have a different photo challenge each week. Our first week, the theme was “gather” and I do hope that you will read the book and find out why this was so special. 

As I thought about my home, and if there was a special gathering place there, I decided to look through the pictures on my phone and it became obvious that we spend a good bit of time gathered on our bed in the master bedroom.

This may sound odd, but hear me out. It’s a place to read bedtime stories and pray each night. It’s a fun place for indoor picnics and family movie time during the hot summer months. It’s a place to spread out and do school work. It’s a place of comfort when there is a storm or a bad dream. It’s a place to snuggle and cuddle and rest. It’s a place to be silly. It’s a place that is safe. 

And not just for us and our kids. It occurred to me that often times when we have friends over, the females will migrate to our room to visit, while the guys gather and talk in the livingroom and the children run around and play. 

Also a few years ago I hosted a Bible study at my house with some girlfriends and we choose to watch the DVD in my room do we could stretch out on my bed and be comfy. 

As this realization came to me, I was moved to tears. I was remembering another bed that was a gathering place. 

You see, my mom has a best friend that I lovingly call my aunt. They have been friends for about 45 years and are like sisters. They love each other fiercely. And some of my favorite memories of growing up is going to this families house.

It was always welcoming and fun. There would be great food, and fun music. There would be laughter and love. But what I remember most is that the ladies would gather in my aunt’s room to visit while the men stayed in the living room visiting or watching a show. The kids (me and their youngest daughter – who by the way, my kids now call aunt) would run around and play…

I always wanted to join them, and sometimes we could, but we usually got bored and ran off to play again. I remember thinking – even at such a young age – that that was a special place. A special time for the adults. I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could hang out with my mom, her friend, and the older girls. 

Now, I realize I’m creating the same special environment in my own home, and it warms my heart.

So what about you? Where do you gather with loved ones? I would love for you to share your story in the comments, and be sure to pre-order Listen, Love, Repeat by Karen Ehman (available November 15, 2016).

The glory of God.

My heart is broken. I’ve cried, oh how I have cried. 

All you have to do is turn on the television, or log into your social media of choice and you can see and read about the consequences of sin and our fallen world. 

It makes me ache. I’ve been sick to my stomach. My heart has ached to the point that I thought it would burst with grief. It literally, physically hurts. I couldn’t stop the tears if I tried. I was overcome with fear.

This past week, when I was overcome with fear, I cried out to God. Praying for Him to take that fear away from me. For Him to strengthen my faith, my trust in Him. (“I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” Something I find myself quoting fairly often.) I prayed for His precious Holy Spirit to help me recall verses of truth from His holy word to get me through this time. I cried and prayed for those that were hurting more than I. For those grieving far worse than I was. For those in charge. For those hurt. For those persecuted. I prayed. I cried. The Holy Spirit brought verses to my mind to help me fight off the fear… Isaiah 41:101 John 4:7-21Ephesians 6:10-18Philippians 4:6-7… Among others.

Two days later I found joy, as I often do, through my precious little girl. We had finished dinner, and were playing a new board game together as a family. We had the blinds to our windows open so we could enjoy the sunset and the birds that frequent the feeders we keep stocked with seeds… It was a pleasant evening. The sky was turning a beautiful pink and our daughter asked if she could step out to see it in person. When she came back in she told us it was sprinkling. As it got dark, it did indeed rain for a few short minutes. The kids asked if we go out side, because they love puddles, so we did. As we stepped outside I was overwhelmed by the smell. It was something I can’t describe, but it was beautiful and wonderful. I asked my children, “Do you smell that? It’s the smell of a summer rain and I love it!” My daughter grabbed me by the hand, looked me in the eyes, and said “No momma, it’s the smell of the glory of God.” 

Then she ran off to play with her brother in the wet grass and together they made footprints on our driveway, yet I just stood there. Speechless at the profound comment my daughter, who is just 7, had made. The words I needed to hear. The weight that those words lifted off of me. The peace that passes understanding that embraced me like a lovers hold. 

Thank you God, for once again using my children to teach me more about you.

From now on, when I smell that wonderful aroma after a summer rain I will be reminded of The Glory of God.

Photo cred @ Krissi Bentz – thank you!

Journey to Joy

I am on a journey. My destination is joy. If I can keep my focus on Christ, then I can overcome the obstacles that block me, distract me, discourage me. Honestly though, I often lose my focus.

Perhaps you have this same problem. I call it my “oooh shiny” problem. I want to keep my eyes on Jesus. I want Him to lead the way. I want my hearts desire to be Him. But unfortunately the “shiny” things in life draw my attention. The computer, my smart phone, my family, doing for others, house work. Things that can and should be used for good, but I allow them to steal my joy.

I’m guilty of spending too much time on the computer and with my phone. I don’t know why, besides boredom. Distraction from the things that need to be done. Like dishes and laundry. It’s easier to escape in the land of social media than it is to deal with what needs to be done.

It starts off innocently enough. “Oh I’ll just see what’s going on while the kids eat/play/sleep etc.” Then I see an article that I want to read. Oh, and look at these cute pictures of my friends kids. Oh, and I need to read up on this subject. Look, this store is having a great sale, and Christmas is coming… The next thing you know an hour (or more) has gone by. I’ve not started our lessons yet, or cleaned up the kitchen from the last meal, or done the laundry shuffle. Now I’m not joyful, I’m crabby. I’m mad at myself for getting sucked in yet again, and now my day is slipping by. My time with my kids is passing, and I will not get that back. Now I feel rushed and frazzled, and it ripples off me and affects my entire family.

Sometimes my distractions are “good” things. Like serving my family. As a stay at home mom I know that it is my job to take care of the home, my husband, my kids. But I HATE doing most of the work this job entails. My mother, she loves washing dishes — by hand. It brings her peace an joy. I did not inherit this. We have a dishwasher, and I still hate doing dishes. Laundry — It will be the end of me. I wash, forget. Rewash, forget. Wash again, add vinegar to help with the smell, finally remember to put it in the dryer. They stay there until we run out of clean undergarments or towels… I do not find joy in my “job”. Sometimes the kids are wild and crazy. Disobedient. Rude. I feel like I am not doing a good job. Am I to blame for this behavior? No. My children are responsible for their actions.

However, my attitude in this area affects my family. When I am grouchy and mumble and complain about these things I am not only setting a bad example for my kids, I am not showing them sacrificial love. When I serve my family in our home, especially by doing things that I truly HATE doing, I am giving of myself, and loving on them. I am learning ways to find joy in serving my family in our home. I am allowing my kids to help me with dishes and laundry. It won’t hurt them to do some simple chores, they need to learn these skills, and honestly — I need the help. It allows us time to talk, laugh, sing together. They enjoy it! My daughter actually asks to help with these things. My husband and I will fold laundry together while we watch a show after the kids go to bed. This allows us some down time together to talk and just enjoy each others company. They all help me. This enables me to do my job with a joyful heart. They do not look down on me, or speak harshly to me for my short comings. They encourage me. They lift me up. They help carry the load. This brings me joy, and when mommy is joyful, the home runs more smoothly.

wooden-laundry-washing-clothes-line2

I obviously have weaknesses, shortcomings, even addictions. I struggle with laziness. I even have health issues to deal with. But it does not have to steal my joy. I am learning to embrace my calling. Overcome my strongholds. Call out my sin for what it is. When I recognize these things and pray and ask God and my family to help me – then Joy is easier to find. It’s easy to choose joy when I have the support of my family. However it is a journey. It is a choice. I have to make the decision to turn away from the “shiny” distractions. I have to choose to serve my family with love even when I don’t like what I have to do. I have to humble myself, admit I have a problem and ask for help. I have to lay down my pride – I can’t do it all, and guess what? I don’t have to. It is a daily struggle. I am not joy filled every day. When I let my downfalls take control my whole family suffers. Then I get mad at myself. Then I have to drop to my knees. Pray for help. For forgiveness. Make a choice. Will I choose to wallow, be grouchy, mopey, etc? Or will I choose joy?

This years Bible verse – 2016

If you follow my blog, then you know that for the past two years I have attempted scripture memory. You should also know that for the past two years I have failed miserably at my goal.

While I did not achieve the goal I set forth, I would not call myself a failure. I did memorize scripture. I did learn. God did show me truths in His word that I did not know before. I just didn’t do it the way I planned.

Which brings me to this year. My year of silence. I’m going to stop trying so hard to do things the way I “think” they should be done. I’m not going to jump in and do what my friends, or other bloggers and authors suggest. (While I do respect them in their ventures, it’s just isn’t for me.)

I’m going to be still. Be silent. Listen to God. How does God speak to us? Through His word. So that is going to be my focus this year. I’m just going to be silent, study His word. Spend time with Him, and listen to what He has to say.

Here is my verse for 2016 – and if it is the only one I memorize, that is ok!
bible edited

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