Simplify- It is More Than Just a Buzz Word

Simplify. I have been writing about this word for almost 5 years now. Wow. My journey has changed, my life has taken lots of twists and turns, but at the core of my soul, is still this need. The need to keep it simple.

I still question everything...

"Is this worth it? Is this necessary? What is the eternal value?" Truly. I find myself still asking those questions.

Whether it is in homeschool, homemaking or just life stuff...I am always seeking to simplify.

Less is more.

And simplify is certainly a buzz word these days. So many of us are feeling the need for less, and the clutter and excessiveness choke us at times. Face it, our society is a society of abundance. We want it all, and we want it big. We want more. We want extra. We want excessive.

And for me, when things start to get excessive, I start to feel distant. I see the excess come between my Savior and me. Because He tells me to carry a light load and to give up all this world for Him. So before long, all of the extras start to get in the way of Him and me.

We moved into a bigger house this year. Bigger property.  More room for friends and family, and more space to enjoy His Creation. I love it. By far, it is more than I ever asked or dreamed. At times though, I wrestle. It just feels so overwhelmingly more than we asked for. Yet, I know our hearts are to use it for good purposes. Yet it is all too easy to get caught up in thinking this worldly pleasure is the be all end all. When it is not...eternity is.

Simplicity is more than a fad, and more than a reaction to the excessive world we live in. It is a deliberate focus on God and eliminating the worldliness from our souls, so that it doesn't crowd Him out.

Simplifying for me is about eliminating distractions from this world and focusing on Him. That is why I am simply living...for Him.

Less stuff, means less to manage. Less stuff, means more time for doing real things.

Less stuff. More Jesus.

Yes, that is what simplifying is all about.

Join me?

To Read 20 Things You Can Do to Simplify NOW...Click here!


FREE Kindle Books!

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Simply Homeschool and Called Home BOTH FREE Right Now!

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As a thank you to all of the amazing mothers out there, please head over to Amazon and download both of my Kindle books for FREE! Simply Homeschool: 2nd Edition & Called Home: Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool

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I hope you enjoy these books and they bless you in some way! Happy Mother's Day!      


Join Me in May!

Upcoming Speaking Dates

I would love to meet you. Join me this month as I speak at the following locations:

May 15 & 16
ENOCH of New Jersey 25th Annual Convention 
Edison, NJ

I will be presenting:

  • Simplifying Homeschool
  • Welcome to the Journey:  Must Haves for the New Homeschooling Mom
May 28-30
Teach Them Diligently
Kalahari Resorts- Sandusky, OH

I will be presenting:

  • Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool
  • Simplifying Homeschool
  • 10 Things Every New Homeschooler Should Know
  • Keeping God at the Center of It All: How We Used the Bible as Our Main Textbook for One Year

I'd love to come speak to YOUR group too! No event is too small or too big! 

While I love writing, there is nothing like meeting face to face with so many homeschooling families. My passion is to encourage others with my stories and ultimately to point to Him in every session! We'll laugh, cry, pray, and probably even hug!

Email me at karen@simplylivingforhim.com to arrange a speaking session!


Real Dreams and Real Life Learning

For years, I always dreamed of my little house on the prairie. I loved our home and where we lived, but something deep inside me longed for more outdoors. More real life learning. More nature. I wanted the farm, the woods, the property. The gardens, the chickens...I just longed for it all.

This year, we began to make the dream a  reality. I feel SO at home here.  It's like it was just meant for us. Every single day I state that I must be dreaming because it seems too good to be true. I can hardly believe we really live here and our dream is not a dream anymore. It's real.

I thought about the longing I had and how it was always there. I realized today, it must be a little like how we all long for heaven. I truly believe God had placed the desire in my heart for this home long ago, and because God surpasses time, the longing was really for something that was already mine. We just hadn't gotten to it yet in our realm of time.

Sort of like heaven. We long for it daily because it is already part of us. It's part of the future where God already lives. We have a home there already as believers in Christ. We just are stuck in this realm of time in our humanness.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,2 Corinthians 5:2 
He has also set eternity in the human heart. Ecc. 3:11 
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 

And just like how I have SO MUCH JOY in this home every day, we will have that one day in heaven. Yet, this is only a glimpse of that joy. We can't even fathom that joy. And that is mind blowing.

Today was a perfect spring day to get outside and do just what we've always longed to do. 
Real life learning. 
Hands on.

No textbook needed, and the boys spent endless time watching the tiny creatures they found in the stream. Tadpoles, mosquito babies, even crayfish. They are learning so much by discovering. And what they don't know, they can look up because the world is peaking their interest. They are so full of wonder. My oldest actually said, "This is the most exciting thing I can remember in a long time," as he watched the little tiny creatures swim about.

And then there was the hard work of the day. Making a fence to go around the gardens. Everyone pulled together to dig holes, put in posts, and get it ready. We had one son measure the perimeter and figure out how much fencing we needed. It was a math textbook word problem come to life. Now THAT is learning!

We had a day filled with learning, family, teamwork, and God's Creation. I can't think of a better way to spend a day. To God be the glory.
And to think...it's just a glimpse of what is to come!


My House is Empty...

Five months ago God blessed us with the reality of our dream home. It has been an amazing five months here, and every day I feel like I am in a dream. The property is stunning and peaceful, and we have begun making so many memories here.

Often, I watch the kids playing, and I think about their future selves and what they will remember. I watch them play, as if I am in the memory they are going to have someday. And I pray...that they will remember a joyful time.

When we moved into this house, I was overwhelmed just getting settled and I couldn't think about decorating yet. I would keep putting off unloading the boxes of pictures and wall decor, waiting for the right time.

Well, here we are and we haven't done a stitch of decorating. The most we have hung on the wall since is moving in was today...these two little signs in the bathroom:

And those two little signs speak volumes. Because my walls are bare, and the house may still look a little empty, but it is oh, so full. And we are filled with faith and with family. The cornerstones of our home.

Our hearts are full because we have room for guests. Lots of guests. Our hearts are full because we are beginning our garden, which we love. Our hearts are full because we are living a dream that has become reality.

I feel like I live in a painting when I look at the scenery around us. We are blessed.

So, then as I watch my kids playing, knowing these are the memories of the future, I think to myself...

Will they remember our bare walls? Will they remember the decorations? No. They will remember these moments. They played. They learned. They grew.

I am well aware that every day I am etching in their minds their memories of childhood...but even more so, their foundation in life.

Some moments aren't quite so memorable. There is bickering and attitudes and tears...there are the messes, the noise, the worries of everyday life...but on the other side of that, there is love. Unconditional love. Never ending. Always there. And we work through the hard stuff, with God guiding us each step.

They will remember traditions. Like today's potato soup and homemade bread. I hope they remember the smells. How the house filled with that aroma that said, "Mommy is making our favorite dinner."

They will remember forts. Daddy out in the woods, working hard alongside them...to build so much more than a fort. To build men. To build a future. To build a foundation of relationships that are formed in Christ's love.

They will remember frog catching and rides on the lawn tractor.

They will remember adventuring in the woods.

They will remember ice cream in the back of daddy's truck.

They will remember the house that was filled with love. Christ's love.

So while our home may still be a bit empty, we are filled. And I am grateful.


God Works in Amazing Ways-Teach Them Diligently Atlanta

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How could I adequately put into words what Atlanta Teach Them Diligently meant to me? I can't, but I will try to explain just what an amazing trip it was and what an amazing God we serve!

First, if you have never attended a Teach Them Diligently convention, you MUST. It is like nothing else. The focus is on discipleship and Christian parenting, and is about SO much more than just homeschooling. 

This trip was awhile in the making. I had signed on with TTD back in the summer, but upon realizing that my whole family would not be able to join me this time, as in Nashville, my parents had offered to travel with me. (yes, I'm a big baby and didn't want to fly alone!) At the time, it seemed like a wild idea, since my parents were never on board with me to homeschool in the early years. However, I felt like deep down God wanted it this way.

Over the months, I prayed for this convention so much. 

Every morning I would pray that God would bring exactly who he wanted to each session. And He did. And the biggest and most amazing thing is, He brought my parents.

You see, next year I will begin my 10th year of homeschooling. Truly a milestone. When I first started out, I had no idea what I was getting into or why on earth I was choosing this path- all I did know, was that  it was what God wanted me to do. I would have no idea that I would end up writing and speaking about it. I had no idea that God had me on this path for many reasons, and some of them had nothing to do with schooling.

Yet, I faced opposition early on, from myself and from family. My mom had lived her life with a career in public education. She was very against our decision. Yet, I knew I needed to follow God and the rest would fall into place. And it did. 

This weekend in Atlanta God showed that He would work the impossible and make it possible.
It still feels like a dream, but my parents listened to me speak at a homeschool convention, and not only listened, but are now in agreement and are proud of us. I can only say, that following God has truly been a blessing. He has brought about so many things. I never thought my family would be on board, let alone support me in this way. We had so many beautiful things said between us this weekend, that I never thought I'd hear. God is good. All the time. God is so, so, so good.

And the convention itself is like no other. I love being a part of TTD for so many reasons. Mainly, because their mission and their hearts line up with ours. This is so much more than a homeschool convention...it is a revival of hearts. A refreshing of spirits. A refocusing on our true goals. That is the stuff that matters!

I have a passion when I get up there to speak to homeschooling families. I love connecting with them afterward, in the convention halls, and all around- it's like a family. And here I was with my biological family and my spiritual family all united in Atlanta. I can hardly comprehend it.

I spoke on four topics this weekend:
  • Simplifying Homeschooling
  • Using the Bible as Our Main Textbook (for one year; how we did it, why we did it, and why we don't do it anymore)
  • Letting God Lead Your Homeschool
  • Ten Things Every new Homeschooler Should Know (Great reminders for all homeschoolers)

Teach Them Diligently has so much for the whole family- Mens' breakfast, Kids programs, Teen programs, A Mom's Night, and so much more! There are even sessions for grandparents. If you can get to one in your area- GO! You will not regret it!

I will be speaking again next month in Sandusky at the Kalahari Resorts. You can still register!

There is also a Teach Them Diligently in Dallas in July!

Click below to find out more: 

And don't miss next year in Nashville with Kirk Cameron keynoting!

Our ride home on the plane was nothing short of spectacular- I marveled at the Creation God has made. I marvelled at the work He has done in my life and others. I marvelled at Him for who he IS.

And then, the ultimate welcome home. It was so incredibly sweet to pull into our driveway and see this welcoming! I love my family dearly. I am thankful they supported me while I travelled for this trip, and I am thankful for their love. 

If I could tell you anything about this journey, it has taught me not to fear. There is no fear in knowing that you are following God, wherever He may lead.

During my last session, I held up this journal. I could hardly contain myself as I saw before me, so much come full circle.

This was a journal that I kept when I was deciding to homeschool- and this journal was filled with FEAR. I was so, so scared. Yet, I kept telling God that I would obey, no matter the cost.

And I can stand now today, and see those fears not only lifted, but non-existent. He took this scared mom, and put her in a place where she can stand now and give GLORY to GOD for what He does. Not what I do. But what HE does.

I held this journal, hardly recognizing the woman who wrote it, yet I held it up looking at my parents in the audience. It was almost too much to bear.

You know it's a great session and God is present when you are speaking and look up and not only are you crying, but the room of attendees is crying. We were crying over WHO our God IS and how He works. We simply need to let go of ourselves, and walk with Him. He will blow the doors wide open to things you never dreamed possible. Just be willing to let Him lead you.

Won't you join me at Teach Them Diligently next month? Join me in walking with God and looking to Him as we raise up the next generation of homeschoolers.


My Weekend in Nashville at Teach Them Diligently!

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Gospel Vision 2014 I am finally catching up after a whirlwind of a week. Let's just say, upon returning from Teach Them Diligently in Nashville, things went downhill here. Fast.

It involved a damaged minivan one day and a 911 choking call the next. BUT, all is completely fine and everyone is OK!!! Just lots of craziness abound here.

But, I did want to share my amazing experience at Teach Them Diligently in Nashville two weeks ago!

I had the privilege to be a part of the convention this year as a speaker and I gave four presentations:

  • Simplifying Homeschool
  • Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool
  • Ten Things Every New Homeschooler Should Know
  • Keeping God at the Center of It All: Using the Bible as Our Main Textbook (for one year)

Our adventures began a day before the conference at 3 am. We woke in the middle of the night to hit the road by 4am! Yup, we piled those sleepy babes into the car and geared up for a 14-hour road trip from western NJ to Nashville, TN!

I must say, the ride was quite beautiful, and {supernaturally} went so well! The kids hardly made a fuss. My husband and I stopped every two hours to take turns driving so that neither of us would become too tired. That worked very well.

So 14 hours later, a time change when we passed the Central time zone, many potty breaks, and even more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the go....we made it!

Can I just say, that The Gaylord Opryland is spectacular. We pulled in quite disheveled (keepin' it real here) but I felt so comfortable seeing many other families as well!

We were so impressed and awed by the Opryland.  It's enormous and has shops, restaurants, and even a boat going through the hotel. Simply magnificent.

We all enjoyed the evening fountain show with lights too!

We treated our kids to the Rainforest Cafe right next door at the Opry Mills Mall. Our kids enjoyed it, and we were excited to be on this adventure!

The next day I spoke about my passion Simplifying Homeschool. I really anticipated no one coming! There are seriously SO MANY amazing speakers to choose from, I couldn't imagine too many showing up for little 'ol me. Imagine my surprise, when the room was overflowing!

The family helping me set up

Simplifying Homeschool

I am grateful that I was able to share my passion for keeping God our focus in everything we do in life, including our homeschools!

Afer my session, we browsed the amazing vendor hall. I was thrilled to meet several of my online friends from the blogging and homeschool community. I finally got to meet Jamerrill from Free Homeschool Deals and snag a real-life hug. She is the sweetest.

If you look in this pic, a child is giving her bunny ears (not her own child ;) and when I asked if we should retake it she replied, "Nah, that's my life." She's amazing and down to earth and was speaking at the convention about her super-mommy powers of running a booming business while homeschooling. She also talked about Affording the Homeschool life. SO awesome.

And my daughter was beyond thrilled to meet Jordan from Blimey Cow!

The next morning I woke bright and early before everyone else to prepare for three sessions that day.  Phew! Again all three went well, and the families I met were beyond amazing. While I love writing, there is nothing like meeting face to face and giving and getting hugs. I love linking arms with my fellow homeschooling families and encouraging them on their journey.

This journey has had so many bumps for us, especially early on, that I love being able to share my testimonies of what GOD has done.

Teach Them Diligently has so much to offer for the homeschooling family. Their focus in discipleship. We all know that academics are important, but discipleship is integral to this journey. I love the heart and mission behind this amazing convention.

Next week, I will travel to Atlanta to speak again. I am looking forward to that trip so much. In an amazing work by God, my parents will be traveling with me! If you have listened to my Unlikely Homeschooler podcast, then you will know that we didn't start out on this journey on the same page...and here they are supporting me and joining me at Teach Them Diligently. God is SO good, I can hardly contain myself as I type this!

If you are interested in attending Teach Them Diligently, you should really visit their site NOW and register! You WILL NOT regret it.  The cost is so reasonable and includes all your kids and even grandparents! It is an amazing experience and it is truly for the whole family. There are children's programs, teen programs, a drama program, Men's breakfast, Mom's Night of Real Refreshment, and SO Much more. I promise you...it is amazing and an event like no other.

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