Monday, May 25, 2015

IF: Local Leader Gathering

I have an opportunity to attend a ministry leadership event this September in Orlando, Florida called IF:Local Leader Gathering, through means of a scholarship (valued at $325).  The way they are extending the scholarship to 5 woman is through a voting system.  Between May 25th-31st people will have the opportunity to vote.  The 5 winners will be announced June 1st.  I wanted to share a little more of my story below of what the Lord has been doing in my life these past few months and why I would love to attend this event but wanted to share the link to vote first so you don't miss it!  Please take a moment and vote for me, it would mean so much to have the chance to attend.  Please click HERE to vote!

Over the past several months the Lord has really been stirring things within and I feel such a calling on my life for ministry.  Well let me back up a little.  I felt called into ministry the summer before my senior year of high school.  I stood up at a summer youth camp when the speaker declared, "If you feel called into full-time ministry I want you to stand to your feet."  I was on my feet in 2 seconds flat....I responded so fast, not a second of hesitation.  That following summer I went on an incredible missions trip to Papua New Guinea and then off to Bible College in the fall. 

During my time in college I was involved as a youth leader in a local church and spent a year involved in a Saturday evening street ministry in Hollywood.  I also interned two summers at KLEOS Children's Community, a ministry that provided homes for children in crisis.  Children who had been abused, neglected or orphaned and were in need of loving homes where they could feel safe.

As a young adult I was full of life, passion, purpose, and boldness.  Any chance I had to share the gospel with others, I took.  I wasn't afraid to go to the dark streets of Hollywood late at night, interact with troubled teens, or stand before a group of marines and talk about Jesus.  Oh the stories I could share!

Somewhere along the way though I got fearful and put up walls.  I wasn't willing to step out in such big ways anymore and just wanted to live my safe & comfortable life. I think a huge factor was the terrorist attack on 9/11.  I was on my honeymoon in New York when 9/11 occurred.  I was struck by immense fear and just wanted to be back home and feel safe.  It was a very scary moment for our country and being so close to it all was alarming.  I think another factor was becoming a mom.  Having children does something to you.  I wasn't as willing to live "life on the edge" because what if something happened to me and then my children were without a mom?

I continued being involved in ministry...sort of.  My husband and I were youth pastors but when babies started coming I really took a back seat to everything.  I do believe there are seasons to our lives and when you are a mom of little ones, sometimes we do have to set outside ministries aside to focus on the needs of our family.  Those early years of diapers, naps, nursing, and having to do everything for our children is very draining and takes a lot out of you.  But looking back on things, and knowing what I know now, I think my children were easy for me to hide behind.

In the past 6 years of homeschooling I have certainly felt a call to minister to homeschool moms through my blog, monthly mom's nights that I organized, and REFUEL Time where homeschool parents could connect during our Friday School weekly sessions.  I loved every one of these things but deep down inside I knew I wasn't living to the full potential of what the Lord had for my life. 

Then in July 2014 my life was turned upside down by my husbands unexpected decision to leave our 13 year marriage.  As a result, I entered one of the darkest seasons of my life with immense grieving, brokenness, despair, pain and heartache!  I longed with every ounce of my being to save my marriage and I did everything in my ability to bring reconciliation.  It was a situation beyond my control and I finally had to lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.  I reached a point where I was completely emptied of myself, my fears, my desire to control everything, my worries, anxieties, and negative thinking.  It was that place of total emptiness and surrender that the Lord began to fill my life in a powerful way and the desires of my heart began to change.  I have grown immensely as a result of painful circumstances.  I have learned how desperately I need Jesus.  I am absolutely dependent on Him for everything.  I have reached a place where my life is completely His and whatever, however, whenever He wants to use my life...Here I am!  I want anything and everything the Lord has for my life. 

 As I was seeking the Lord and asking the question, "What do you have for my life?",  I came across the IF:Gathering ministry.  The very first thing you read on their website is, "We exist to gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose."  The founder, Jennie Allen, shares how one evening while laying in bed with her husband they prayed a simple prayer, "Anything that you have for our lives we want".  In the weeks, months, and years that followed the Lord began to take their lives and do something remarkable with it.  They were strong Christians, pastors in fact, but realized they were not living to the full potential that God had for them.  They were playing it safe and God was asking them to step out of their comfort zone.

The name for their ministry, "IF:Gathering", came out of a question Jennie posed..."IF God is real...then what?"  If we truly believe in God, If we have experienced His love, grace, and forgiveness then how should our lives be lived out?  What should they look like?  Safe, cozy, and comfortable?  Or is God calling us to something that might require a little, or a lot, more of our lives?  A life that may be very uncomfortable at times?  A life of impact!  A life of courage and boldness!  A life full of meaningful relationships!  A life of community!  A life of purpose!

I feel called to a ministry outside the walls of one specific church.  I feel the call of evangelism and reaching out to those who for whatever reason are not involved in a local church as well as those who are attending church regularly.  Either way, church goers or not, if we are all real and honest about our lives, we face struggles, pain, heartache, grief, sorrow, or brokenness in one way or another.  We all need Jesus!

So in seeking answers and praying for direction I feel like the Lord is leading me to get involved as a local leader for IF:Gathering and I would absolutely love to have the chance to attend the leaders gathering with 500 other amazing women.  It will be a phenomenal time of prayer, worship, and training.  I will get to hear some incredible women speak and share their hearts.  I will receive tools and resources I can bring back and incorporate in my community.

One avenue I can be involved in this ministry is to offer IF:Local gatherings.  Every February they put on an amazing conference, but it would just be impossible to get every single person to the actual event.  So they offer live streaming so that local churches across the nation can put on a conference simultaneously in their community.  Or a digital video download can be purchased and the conference can be offered anytime throughout the year.  So this is something I would love to head up in the future!

IF:Gathering offers a monthly ministry opportunity called IF:Table that I have just implemented.  Their website explains it this way, "A place to gather women and share a simple meal and dive deep with people over real stories and Christ centered conversations. A time for a whole lot of laughter – and maybe a few tears – but time spent that leaves us with glad hearts. Full hearts. Grateful hearts."  It's inviting 5 women from around the community, friends and acquaintances alike, to spend 2 hours around your table, enjoying a simple meal, and taking turns answering 4 conversation card questions.  You can learn more on my Facebook community page: IF: Table Longview 

Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering also has written several amazing small group Bible Studies that I would love to incorporate as well.  She is offering a free online Bible Study this summer if you would like to check it out: Anything Bible Study.

My heart is first and foremost for the lost to discover Jesus in a powerful, life transforming way.  My heart is to see women break free from whatever chains are hindering them from living a life of purpose.  My heart is to raise up other leaders, women living out their calling.  My heart is to see believers break free from religion and Sunday Christianity to a life that is sold-out completely for Jesus.  My heart is to live unashamed, to take risk, to step out of my comfort zone, to smile at a stranger, to pray on the spot with anyone who needs it, to go beyond the cordial/surface relationships and be real, raw, and transparent.  My heart is to share my story of all God has done in my life.  Because "IF God is real...then what?", well then lets make this life count for eternity!  

Are you with me?  Lets do it!

"Jesus I pray for those who have found themselves here reading this blog post who are in that place of longing for more, who feel that tug on their heart and a stirring deep within.  Direct their steps and open whatever doors you have for their life.  I pray they would choose to trust you like never before and begin to step out of the cozy, safe, comfortable life they have been living into the unknown, the unexpected, and the unfamiliar.  Give them courage and boldness for the life they are about to embark on.  They may be in for a wild ride but you will be with them every step of the way.  In Jesus mighty name I pray. Amen"


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Sunday, March 29, 2015

2015/2016 Homeschool Curriculum

Some of my curriculum - white box holds all the Apologia Science experiments!

I wanted to share my plans for curriculum for the 2015/2016 school year.  This is definitely earlier than normal for me to be deciding on curriculum for the following school year but there is reason for that.  I had applied for a homeschool scholarship through The Homeschool Foundation (children of single parents fund) and had to provide costs per child.  I found out on my birthday that my application was reviewed and accepted and received my check a few weeks later.  A huge thank you to The Homeschool Foundation!!!!

DiscipleLand Bible study materials

I chose to purchase majority of my curriculum through Rainbow Resource as they had equal or better prices then other sites.  I am using a few FREE resources and will be borrowing several items from other homeschool families.  It is possible to homeschool on a budget by seeking out websites with the best pricing, finding free resources, borrowing from a friend, or buying used through Homeschool Classifieds.  I also want to expand and share on some of the curriculum I have chosen and will do so at the bottom of the page. 

"Mooky" - 6th Grade:

Math - Teaching Textbooks 6 (borrowing)
Writing - Institute for Excellence in Writing Level A (borrowing except purchased Student Writing Materials)
Grammar- Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (book 1) w/teacher's manual
Reading: Various chapter books (Cooper Kids, Red Rock Mysteries, The Lily series)
History - YWAM Christian Heroes: Then & Now
Science - Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics - with notebooking journal and science kit (borrowing text book)
Art - Art for Kids Hub (free online resource), How to draw books
Bible/Character Study - Pro2ge Summit: God's Greatness
Devotional: For Girls Only! Devotional
Music - Piano lessons
Friday School Co-op Classes

"Lover Girl" - 4th Grade:

Math - Math Lessons for A Living Education book 5 (free download!)
Grammar - Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (book 1) w/teacher's manual
Reading: Various chapter books (Magic tree house, Circle C Ranch, Janette Oke's Animal Friends)
History - YWAM Christian Heroes: Then & Now
Science - Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Physics (with junior notebooking journal & science kit)
Art- Art for Kids Hub (free online resource), How to draw books.
Bible/Character Study- Pro2ge Summit: God's Greatness
Music-Violin lessons
Friday School Co-op Classes

"Sweet Pea" - Kindergarten:

Math - Math Lessons for A Living Education Book 1 (free download)
Reading - The Reading Lesson Book
Language Arts - Language Lessons for Little Ones Volume 1
Skills - Kumon Pasting and Kumon Mazes
Art - Art for Kids Hub (free online resource), How to draw books
Bible - DiscipleLand Amazing Old & New Testament Heroes (disciple guides only-2 Old Testament & 2 New Testament) and My Awesome God Storybook Bible
Friday School Co-op Classes


I have been hearing about Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for several years now.  But the steep price and what I felt was a confusing website always turned me away.  I finally took the time to really do my research and get a better grasp on the curriculum and I am very excited to be giving it a try.  Thankfully I am able to borrow the Teacher & Student DVD's from a friend but probably would have figured out a way to purchase if that was my only option. 

The idea behind it is compared to a student learning music for the first time. You wouldn't ask a beginner in music to compose/write their own music. Instead you put the best of music in front of them for them to learn from. So that idea is put into place with IEW. Instead of a child having to come up with writing out of thin air they are provided with good writing models. Every few weeks they watch the video presentation teaching any new concepts and then take 1-2 weeks to work through everything.

They are given a small paragraph and have to go sentence by sentence and pick out 3 key words from that sentence and write down those words. They do this for the entire paragraph. Then the paragraph is taken away and they just have their key word outline. From that outline they have to rewrite each sentence (so it's important they pick the key words that will help them remember the sentence).  It's not about trying to remember the original sentence but rather taking the words and writing the sentence in your own words. There are banned words like "said" where they have to use different words - "exclaimed", "cried", "shouted" etc... They also learn about "which" clauses where they can combine 2 sentences into 1 with the word "which". They are taught "dress up" words to enhance the sentences. So that is the basic overview.

There are 9 levels of skill learned if you did IEW up through the higher grade levels. There are Level A, B, and C. But you don't go through Level A, then Level B, and then Level C.  Each level is essentially the same as far as teaching basic writing it's just for different age/grade levels therefore Level C would be more advanced than level A. So for example, you would go through Level A (if your kids are 3rd-5th grade) in a year and then do the "Level A continuation" which could last 1-2 years depending on how fast or slow you work through it. Then you would follow this with themed writing/high school writing courses. There is a Teaching Writing: Structure and Style DVD and this is an instructional video for parents to help prepare the parent to teach writing to the child as well as the student DVD's.

Fix It! Grammar

"Fix It! Grammar" is also by IEW. There are 6 books and they recommend you start with book 1 no matter your grade level if you don't already have a lot of grammar practice. Each book is a different story used, so book 1 is "The Nose Tree". It's the entire story spread out over a years worth of work. So each week you are given 4 sentences of the story that you have to edit and rewrite. By the end of the school year the child will have written out the entire story. Each week adds in new grammar & punctuation concepts. It only should take 10-15 minutes each day to edit and rewrite one sentence. There is a box at the top of the page that is like a check off list of things they need to address that week in the sentences (paragraph indent, capitalization, spelling, homophones, etc...). Once they make all the necessary corrections they rewrite it the right way in a notebook.

Art for Kids Hub

Art for Kids Hub is a FREE, really fun, easy to follow learning how-to-draw and art projects.  Rob does an incredible job in the videos teaching art to his own children and teaching the viewers as well.  The camera is set up so that it's looking down on a table and you can see his hand and paper and the hand and paper of whichever of his children he is working with.  He is very fun, upbeat, encouraging and positive.  If you subscribe you get updates every Monday for new art videos. 

Pro2ge Summit Bible

I'm always on the hunt for a Bible study for kids that 1) Is budget friendly 2) fun and engaging 3) is open and go 4) lessons are not too lengthy 5) and of course learn foundational truths of God's Word.  I am really excited about Pro2ge Summit: God's Greatness because it aligns with everything I listed.  It's the first book available in a series of 6 books, with each book being 48 weeks.  It's intended for 6-12 year olds.  You simply need the Summit 1 Guidebook for each child and a Bible.  There are 12 "Trails" and each has 4 weeks to it.  The "Trails" rotate between Bible Knowledge, Christian Character, and Faithful Conduct. 

In addition it incorporates Bible memory with free printables on the website.  For a younger child you can choose the Trail Key Verse, which would have the child memorize one verse during the entire 4 week "Trail".  Or for older children, the Trail Verses, which would have the child memorize one verse per week.

Another fun, optional, component is the Free Project Awards Program.  There are 3 categories: Outdoor, Home, and Community and then 6 sub-categories under each.  So if you click on "Outdoor" there are 6 sub-categories: Wildlife, recreation, camping, nature, Hiking, and survival skills. "Home": personal care, food & nutrition, family care, hobbies, life skills, fixing and building. And for "Community": field trips, citizenship, church, fine arts, health & safety, and technology. So that is a total of 108 different skills, projects, and activities they can choose from and work to complete. They do have an awards system where you can purchase badges and special coins for bible memory and project completion but I will just do my own rewards system.

So those are my plans for this next year! I feel very good about what I have chosen.  I'd love to hear from any of my readers what you have planned!!!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Meet Chime!

Is that not the sweetest puppy you have ever seen?!  Her nickname is Chime, but her full name is Carillon Belle Chime!  She is an Australian Labradoodle from Mountain Park Labradoodles
This past week has been one full of blessing upon blessing.  It literally has felt like God reached down and wrapped His arms around me in the warmest most loving hug.  And compared to all the heartache over the past 8 months I have to say it was a very needed hug! 
I have never been a dog lover...EVER!  The idea of me being a dog owner was not anything I ever aspired to be.  But when you have kids, most likely you are going to have them begging for a dog at one point or another.  Of course my girls begged, and begged, and begged but my answer was always a big, fat, "NO!!!!" Towards the end of 2013 I began to take a small interest in the idea.  Of course it was, "Someday when we move and get more property, then we'll THINK about getting a dog." 
That all changed the first time I met my sweet friends Australian Labradoodle, Jack.  I had never been excited about a dog until that point.  I loved the feel of his fleece coat and could literally sit there and pet him forever.  That wasn't normal for me.  He had such a sweet temperament which really got my attention.  My idea of dogs were those who bark incessantly, shed abundantly, smell incredibly, and are non-stop energy.  If I was going to give into this whole, owning a dog thing, it would have to be an Australian Labradoodle.  They are dogs bred specifically to be a companion dog, low to non-shedding, don't have the typically "wet" dog smell, and are great dogs to run with!!

 Then summer of 2014 came, and our family went through a major crisis and it seemed that getting a dog would now be an impossible task, considering the average cost of this breed is $2500.  But I have seen the Lord do the impossible before in my life and knew I had to pursue this.  I was a mama on a mission to make our "doodle" dream a reality!
A few things I did in my efforts included, starting an online fundraiser and applying online for several guardian family programs.  The guardian program allows families to bring a puppy into their home at no cost (or a small refundable deposit), however, the breeders have all breeding rights to the dog until she is retired from breeding.   
In the meantime, the girls and I spent lots of time reading about dogs, talking about dogs, praying about getting a dog, and watching online videos about training a puppy!  But neither of these two efforts, online fundraising or the guardian program applications, seemed to be getting us any closer to actually getting a dog.  It seemed that every door for the guardian program just kept shutting in my face.  It was discouraging but I just surrendered it before the Lord.
Several months later, on Saturday, February 28th, I received a very unexpected email from Debi at Mt Park Labradoodles.  She was inquiring to see if I was still interested in the guardian program because they had a puppy, whom they had named Carillon Belle Chime, needing to be placed in a guardian home.  She had gone to live with a VERY sweet family, who unfortunately, after one week of having her had to return her due to unforeseen circumstances in their lives.  She needed someone as soon as the following afternoon!!!!  There was a refundable $500 deposit, which would be reimbursed after Chime is retired from breeding (about 3 1/2 years).
I was beside myself!  In fact I kept saying, "God are you serious?  What in the world is going on here? Is this really happening?"  The reason I was so amazed and bewildered is because that whole previous week had been already full of some amazing blessings and now this was the cherry on top!
And so it was on Sunday, March 1st, I drove to Debi's home and picked Chime up.  The best part was my girls had no idea and later that evening I was able to give them the biggest surprise of their lives!
Moments after meeting Chime!!
The blessings have continued pouring in even after receiving Chime. 
  • The notice to get the dog was so short I literally had nothing for a puppy.  However, the previous guardian family chose to bless us generously with everything they had purchased for Chime: a crate, bed, shampoo, ear cleaner, carpet stain & odor eliminator, a comb, treats, dog food, toys, Nyla bones, a leash, and puppy spray. 
  • In addition to this, remember the online fundraiser I mentioned?  Well I raised $170 through it, plus another $150 given to me, for a total of $320 which I used toward my $500 deposit. 
  • A dear friend wants to take the girls and I shopping for any remaining smaller puppy items we need as a belated birthday present.  
  • Another friend messaged me and wants to send a small monetary gift to help out as well!
I am so incredibly grateful and soaking every bit of it in.  God sees, He knows, and He cares about every detail of our lives....even our silly "doodle" dreams!  What a testimony to my children that miracles do happen when we put our hope and trust in the Lord.  He is a God of the impossible and His timing is always perfect!  I won't go into specifics but there is major significance to the date of March 1st, which is also the day I picked Chime up from the breeders.  Just another way God was giving me a huge hug and reminding me of His love for me. 
Chime has brought so much laughter & joy, giggles and slobbering kisses.  I've always heard dogs can be therapeutic but now I am living proof that they are.  She is a sweet companion for all of us!
As a guardian family we are required to do dog obedience classes, purchase a specific high quality dog food, and transport Chime multiple times a year to vet appointments (pertaining to breeding) and to the breeders home, which will be about 1 1/2 hour drive each way.  I also have the remaining $180 deposit to pay the breeder and need to fence in one side of my back yard.  I know God will provide for these extra expenses one way or another, but if you feel led to donate please go to: Go Fund Me 
Trip to the pet store

Chime's favorite spot in the car!

Enjoying the sunshine!

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

One Pebble At A Time

One small little pebble, even a few, don't really amount to much.  You can't really create anything of significance when you only have a dozen in the palm of your hand. 
I want you to think of each word you utter as one small pebble....that adds up to ALOT of pebbles in a lifetime.  Every pebble from every word spoken is added to build one of two pathways.  One pathway that leads to life and another path that leads to death.  Think about every person God has put in your life...which pathway are you adding pebbles to in each of those relationships?
It's easy to look at one small pebble and see it as insignificant and harmless.  One word spoken in anger, frustration, or hurt...not a big deal.  We all have our "off" days, right?  The person on the receiving end of my harsh words...they know I love them.  So you've just tossed a pebble onto the path leading to death.  Then you turn around and speak a word of praise, adoration, encouragement, or you've laid one on the path leading to life.   
Which pathway do you want to put the most time, energy, and effort into building?  It happens one pebble at a time but over a series of weeks, months, and years it adds up to something of absolute significance. 
  Edify. Encourage. Uplift. Praise. Comfort. Inspire. Strengthen. Compliment. Esteem. Respect.
Choose Life Giving Words and you will construct the most beautiful, thriving, flourishing, healthy, lush pathway.
Look beyond the pebble to the completed pathway.  Your words matter.  Every. Single. Word. Uttered.
If you struggle with your words, with anger, with coming unglued, I encourage you to: 
  1. Get on your knees, right now, and pray these words - "Jesus, I desperately need you to bring change and to set me free.  I am hurting.  I am struggling.  I don't know how to get my emotions under control and I need your help.  I repent before you for all the words I've spoken in anger or frustration.  I want my words to build a pathway of life in my marriage, with my children,  and in all my relationships.  I want my words to honor my husband, encourage my children, and edify others.  Please provide the tools, resources, and help in my life to begin to make some very needed changes in how I speak. Change me from the inside out.  I have laid so many pebbles down on the wrong pathway and although I can't undo my past, with your help I can begin to build a beautiful pathway from this day forward.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen."
  2. Go to anyone whom you have harmed by your words and humbly seek forgiveness. 
  3. Spend time every day in God's Word and in prayer...even if it's only 5 minutes or doing devotionals alongside your children (that counts too!)
  4. Have a "grateful" journal you can write in daily and list out things you are thankful for in your life.  It's easy to focus in on the negatives in those we spend the most time with and lose sight of all the wonderful aspects of our life.  Don't take any person in your life for granted.
  5. Find a wonderful Christian Counselor and commit to a season of individual counseling.  Perhaps there are some things from your past where healing needs to happen in order for you to begin a new pathway in your life.
  6. Read - "Unglued: Making wise choices in the midst of raw emotions" by Lysa Terkeurst
  7. Recognize that you can only take steps to change YOU...and changing the way you speak is a great start!!!
I share all of this out of my own personal struggles and experiences. 
I can't undo the past but I can create a very different future. 
Every Pebble Matters!

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Finding the Blessings in Detours

The other night my girls and I were driving home very late from a friends house.  We were on a country road with no other vehicles around and I was driving about 45mph.  Not long into our drive, I noticed a vehicle up ahead with its lights flashing.  The vehicle was on the opposite side of the road with it's headlights facing my direction.  As I neared the vehicle I slowed way down, uncertain of what was going on.  Thank goodness I made that decision to slow down and be cautious because just up ahead a huge tree had fallen and was completely blocking the highway. 

There was absolutely no way of getting around the tree and the ONLY choice I had was to make a U-turn and take a much longer route home.  It wasn't until I was much further down the road that it suddenly hit me...if that truck would not have been there with it's flashing lights warning me of the danger ahead, I would have certainly crashed into that tree.  I don't even want to think of what that could have resulted in. 

The detour definitely delayed things but eventually my 3 very sleepy girls and I made it one piece.  I was thankful I had the option of a detour to get to my destination.  Waiting hours for that roadblock to be removed would have been awful (though I'm sure my friend would have let us stay overnight in that case!)


The book of Genesis tells the most incredible life story of Joseph.  In Genesis 37, Joseph went looking for his brothers, who were out pasturing their sheep, to see how they were doing.  If only there would have been flashing lights or big signs along the way, warning him of the danger ahead.  In the blink of an eye, the course of his life changed.  He was about to take a major detour...or what appeared to be a detour.  He was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery.  He was falsely accused and thrown into prison.  He was a slave when he should have been a free man.  If anyone understood roadblocks, detours, sorrows, and discouraging circumstances, it was Joseph.  

It wasn't until over a decade later that God's amazing plan was revealed.  In Genesis 50:20, when he stood face to face with his brothers, who had betrayed him so many years before, he spoke these words..."You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people."  This detour actually turned out to be one of the most amazing blessings, not only for Joseph, but also for his entire family.  Throughout it all, Joseph remained faithful to the Lord, strong in his convictions, continued to walk in the gifting's God had given him, and had the courage to rise above his circumstances.

What roadblock are you facing in your life?  What unforeseen circumstances have you found yourself in?  What is before you that is causing overwhelming discouragement?  It might feel bigger than life.  You may not be able to see anything else ahead because that darn "tree" is blocking your view.  Do you feel like your life has taken a major detour?   

When we face difficult roadblocks, its natural for our flesh to want to sulk, kick, scream, cry, get bitter, grow angry, blame God, and to remain stuck.  Joseph certainly had every right to respond this way.  But there IS another option...crank the steering wheel and make a U-turn.  And then trust the Lord to navigate you home.  Detours are a major inconvenience but there can be blessings along the way and a plan that unfolds greater than you could imagine.  God has a plan...and it's always for good.

What I love about Joseph is that he did not allow the detour to bring defeat.  His circumstances did NOT define him.  He made the most of a situation that was completely out of his control.  He rose above his hardships. 

"Lord, whatever is before this precious soul, it may be something that came so suddenly and so unexpectedly into their life, it may feel so overwhelming, more than they can handle, and beyond their ability to overcome.  I ask that you would lead them along the path, giving them the strength and endurance for the difficulties they are facing.  Sometimes we just can not escape the pain, we have to walk through it, but you are there every step of the way.  May they put all their trust in you Jesus.  May they cling to you.  And although they may not see or understand your plan in the detour, may one day that plan be made known.  May they also see your blessings along the way.  In Jesus mighty name I pray.  Amen"

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

When my heart is overwhelmed....

Yesterday I threw a really big fit!  Don't worry I didn't throw myself on the ground and start kicking and screaming, but I certainly could have been mistaken for a 2 year old by my actions. 

I was having a hard day emotionally and probably should have put myself in a time-out in my bedroom to work through my stuff...but instead I was attempting to help my 11 year old with her math.  Can I just say....bad idea.

Back when I first started homeschooling, the greatest area of struggle was, can you guess?....yes math.  I can remember getting so frustrated trying to teach a Kindergartner math concepts.   I would cry and think, "I can't do this" or "I'm such a failure, I can't even teach math to a 5 year old."  We went through multiple math programs until we came across Queen Homeschool: Math Lessons for a Living Education.  It was a keeper for us and we have used it for the past 5 years. 

No matter how great a curriculum you find, if your child doesn't like a certain subject or struggles in it, you are going to have difficult days....and this was just one of those sort of days.  I was already in a place of feeling overwhelmed and the combination of my daughters attitude was too much for me in that moment.   The end result of my "fit" was a math book in the garbage (Sorry Angela O'Dell, wonderful author of this curriculum, but keep reading).  I know, such a mature thing to do right?

We all have hard days.  We all have days where any combination of circumstances, fatigue, sickness, kids with attitude, pressures, stresses, and demands on our time can be so OVERWHELMING.   
We can't do anything in our own strength.  We need Jesus every moment of every day.  We can't parent in our own strength, we can't homeschool in our own strength, and we can't face all that life throws at us in our own strength.
My daughter actually approached me first to apologize for her attitude.  I held her in my arms and cried and apologized for my fit...but I still wasn't ready to remove the math book from the garbage.  I jumped in the shower (aka my prayer closet) and just poured my heart out to the Lord.  I was wrestling with so many things.  I started to realize that the combination of my already emotional state, added to teaching math to a child having attitude, were not a good combination.  Also the math was just moving along at a quicker pace, teaching too many new concepts with not enough review in between, for my struggling child. 
The math book was salvaged from the garbage can (Yay!)...but it's going up on a shelf for a little while.  I printed some free math worksheets for some much needed review. 
If I could pass on any encouragement to you it would be:
1) If you are facing some heavy circumstances in your life or having a rare emotionally rough day, give yourself GRACE - We are not and will never be perfect.  Rough days are inevitable, and thank goodness, because they remind us we are frail humans who need to rely on the Lord.
2) Know your LIMITS and readjust your EXPECTATIONS- As much as we all wish we were super human, we are not.  We are limited, weak, and easily overwhelmed.  Give yourself permission to retreat to your room, if possible, to take a moment to pray, cry, read from your devotional, or simply to take a deep breath and calm down.  The Lord will carry your burdens if you let Him.  If you homeschool and need to let go of, change up, or put a curriculum on the shelf for a's OK!

3) Where are your prioritiesIs it in projects or in people?  I have said it before and I will say it again...Homeschooling and life in general are about so much more than academics, agenda's, programs, busyness, and projects....It's ALL about relationship!  When there is more emphasis put on checking things off a to-do list or not falling "behind" in homeschool curriculum, you will always be left feeling undone, overwhelmed, anxious, frustrated, and may possibly throw your own tantrum (but please refrain from throwing anything in the garbage...unless it's truly trash!).
"Lord, I lift up to you this precious woman, whom you see and know and love.  You understand all the desires of her heart and all the decisions, demands, and duties before her.  You know her strengths and her weaknesses, her struggles and gifting's.  Pour out your grace in those overwhelming moments, days, or circumstances.  Help her to let go of trying to perfectly balance everything in her own strength.  Show her what needs to be at the top of her priorities and to let go of anything that is unnecessary baggage.  And most of all engulf her in your unending, unfailing, unconditional, unrelenting, and unchanging love.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen."

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Thursday, January 8, 2015


For the past few years a friend and I each choose a word we proclaim for ourselves at the start of the new year.  My word this year is Restoration!

I love to watch shows on TV that show the restoration of a home.  Shows like "Property Brothers", "Rehab Addict", and "Love It or List It".  The transformation is always so unbelievable to me.  You start out with this old, worn out, cluttered, chaotic, out-of-date, disorganized house and in a 30 minute segment it is given a brand new look.  Same House - New Look!!  Although to the viewer it feels like the restoration takes place at the snap of the fingers, it's actually weeks and weeks of a process-a lot of sweat, hard labor, time, and money. 

I have some friends who have restored old furniture and it's so remarkable and amazing to see the end result.  It's hard to believe that something so beautiful, clean, and in "mint" condition could really come out of something old and falling apart.  From junk to a treasure.  From an "eye sore" to a stunning sight.  From a waste of space to having purpose!!  From old and decayed to brand new!

The definition of Restoration is:
: the act or process of returning something to its original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.
: the act of bringing back something that existed before
: the act of returning something that was stolen or taken

God is the original "Restoration Genius"...that is what He is in the business of!  He takes the old and makes it new.  He gives meaning, purpose, and value to our lives.  And even though He is capable of restoring us overnight, it's usually a process, a long and sometimes painful process that involves our cooperation, hard work, commitment, surrender, tears, and often money (counseling).

In order for me to get to that glorious place of restoration I have to first walk through the valley.  In the valley there are thorns, rocks, raging rivers, mud, the scorching sun, and dense forests that I have to endure.  It's hard, it's painful, it's difficult, and there are certainly days when I don't think I can press on.  The tears come so easily.  The pain is so raw.  The anguish is so real.
But I have a promise in God's word that He is with me, He is beside me, He is close to me, He is comforting me, He leads me, and He protects me.  I don't need to be in fear, I don't need to be in want, and I don't need to be in doubt.  I will walk THROUGH the valley and come out on the other side whole, complete, healed, and restored. 
So here is to a year of RESTORATION! 
Do you need restoration in your life?  Do you need God to bring healing? Transformation? Growth? Freedom?  It might get a little messy in the process...but I am going to bet the outcome is well worth it.
"Lord I lift up those reading my blog who need you to move in a mighty way in their lives.  They may be sitting here today feeling so lost, broken, wounded, ashamed, rejected, abandoned, unloved, or hopeless.  May they encounter you in a brand new way.  Your love, forgiveness, joy, hope, peace, freedom, healing, and restoration.  You are so good.  You love us immensely.  Begin a new work in their life right now.  May they hold tightly to you and trust you through the process.  Help them to be brave to face whatever it is they need to face and find restoration on the other side.  In Jesus mighty name I pray, Amen"
One of my favorite songs that has been a blessing to me during this season of my life!

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