Take Time for Retreat

This past weekend I was able to spend time away at a ladies retreat. It was wonderful! It was time to step away from the craziness of life that has been swirling around and to just be still.

I am so glad God led me to go on that retreat. It was sort of a last minute decision, but I know His hand was in it.

I learned so much from my time away...Do you take time to get away and be still before the Lord?

I was able to sit, unplugged, with no agenda and just be. Alone with my thoughts and with God. In fact, the only picture I snapped was this one from the lake. 

The rest are in my mind, between me, myself, and the Lord ;) We don't always have to document it all...

I was able to spend sweet fellowship with sisters. Many I hadn't been with for a while and this was a gift. We picked up where we left off, as if time hadn't passed, and as if it had been forever, all at the same time...

I listened to stories that I would never have normally been able to hear...stories of hardship and God's miracles. Testimonies of things our great God can do in others' lives.

I cried through worship time, because when you are in a room with hundreds of ladies voices lifted, it is like a tiny glimpse of heaven. Never ceases to bring me to tears.

When I came home, I was beyond exhausted. I can't really explain why I was so exhausted except that maybe my body and soul had a chance to finally be still...and they needed it so.

I also took two days to get my computer turned back on...and once there, I wanted to turn it off! I enjoyed being with my old "un-technological" self, without the distractions of today.

I encourage you if you can get away with a group or alone...to grab the opportunity. It is a blessing and necessity. Be with yourself. Before the Lord. Be with other sisters. In fellowship. Get rid of the daily distractions, and just simply be.


When I Began Homeschooling, I Didn't Have Facebook...and I'm Glad...

Back when I began homeschooling, I didn't have facebook  (it wasn't even out yet, maybe?). And I'm glad. You see, it was just me, my daughter and this God sized calling He had placed on my heart. I wasn't influenced by what others were doing- Lord knows, I hardly knew anyone else who was doing it! I didn't have expectations that I put on myself. I only anticipated what God had in store for us. I went to Him on my knees asking for help.  I wasn't trying to live up to what others were doing- just what God had called me to do.

It concerns me to think about what it would have been like had I had facebook, Pinterest, etc. as a new homeschooling mom. I mean, don't get me wrong...it can be a blessing to have so much information. Yet, I don't know that I would have grown to know my family's needs as well. We needed to struggle through certain things, We needed to get to know each other and our new way of life that year. We needed to connect face to face. We needed to know nothing except God called us to this journey, and we were on it. Figuring it out together, with Him as our guide.

Back when I was a scared new mama, I didn't need to hear everyone's voices...just His.

So whether you are a new homeschool mama or a veteran, remember homeschooling is between you and your family and God. Not what everyone else is doing. Take time to get to know them, and forget what everyone else is doing. Just be with your family. In the Word. Living real life. Together.

Take the information that is helpful and encouraging, but use it wisely. Use it as it was intended to be. Don't let it take over. God is the One with the answers to our questions. Go to Him first.

Want to know more about keeping it simple?


The Leaves are Changing...But He Remains The Same

Every year, the beauty of autumn captures my attention. The air gets crisp, and the leaves begin to turn, and it seems there is a golden glow in the air. I remember when I was pregnant with my 4th baby, lying in my bed (miserable... waiting for the baby to make his appearance) and I would stare out the window at the tree in our yard. As the days passed it would turn from brilliant green to yellows and golds and reds, until the whole thing looked glowing with fire. It really was brilliant. That tree marked the days as I awaited my baby. When the leaves had finally all fallen, the baby did arrive.

Then the next year came and the tree displayed its beautiful show of colors once again. And the year after that...and that..and that...It remained a constant.

I love the seasons. I love seeing how God's character is displayed in the seasons. He is so constant, just like the seasons. You can't stop them and you know that each year they will happen.

So even though the seasons change, they always remain predictable and constant. Just like His love for us. It doesn't matter who we once were, His love remains. He never gives up on us. He never fails.

So, as I watch the tree begin to change this year, I notice how quickly time seems to pass. How many times I've watched that tree change...and it's a blink of an eye. A decade is like a vapor.

Isn't that true of life.

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."

James 4:14

It is quick, yet He is eternal. He will always be. There are no worries, no seasons to await. He is there. Forever.

As I look upon life and see how quickly it passes, I want to grab hold of it and live boldly, never afraid of new things. He is constant and He is there. Holding us each step of the way. Unlike the tree that will die one day...He will remain. Forever.

Our Year So Far...PLUS Some BIG Announcements!

You can read an update about our year over at Bible Based Homeschooling today...

We got off to a great start this year, yet as the weeks have progressed, some things have been taking ay attention away. I am determined to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord though, and His plans for us each day, each month, and each year. He is the One in charge of our homeschool, and not me. I may make plans, but He may also change them....
Read the rest here... 


20 Ways to Simplify Your Life Starting NOW!

Simplifying is such a buzz word these days, and for me it is about SO much more than just getting rid of "stuff." It is about understating the heart behind why we have so much clutter, and why we think we need so much. It is about focusing on the fact that God is all we need, and nothing else can fill that void.

Yet, as a society we have bought into the lie, that more stuff equals more happiness. And the more we toil and attain, the more unhappy we become. Our houses are full, and our hearts are empty.

We also have more information than ever, and are completely overwhelmed as to what to do with it all.

So in order to even begin simplifying, we need to start by knowing our Creator, and our purpose- which is to know Him and make Him known. The closer we are to Him, the less we will desire to fill up on stuff.

So while many things on this list will help you to practically simplify, many of them will also help you get to the heart of the issue. Enjoy! And may you simply live...for Him..

1. Get outside. Right now, put away the computer, the book, the phone, or whatever is taking up your time, and get outside. Take deep breath. Notice the sounds outdoors, and feel the air on your skin. Notice the things that we often take for granted. How the birds interact around you, the squirrels, the bugs...notice the details of a flower. Connect with your Creator. Realize there is so much more to this life than just ourselves! After just 20 minutes of truly noticing the beauty around you, the simplicity of it will fill you up.

2. Choose to meditate on a verse. Just pick one and truly focus on it. Close your eyes and focus on His Word. Fill your mind with His thoughts, to replace the worldly ones. (Philippians 4:8)

3. Look around the room and notice how much of your "stuff" you will take with you to eternity. None. Remember to have an eternal perspective and not an earthly one.

4. Go to your closet and decide to keep only the things you will wear this year. Giving is always a blessing. So give away what you don't wear, or will not wear.

5. Go through your children's toys and work with them to give away what they don't play with anymore. Better yet, just put most of it away, and see if they even notice. ;) Then give those things away.

6. De clutter a room. Just start with one room. Don't get sidetracked and go to another room. Choose just one room a day, and do it well.

7. Turn off the noise. Choose to "fast" from the Internet for a day. You may even decide to do it for more than a day, when you see how much more clearly you can think. Mental overload weighs you down. Then when your fast is over, set strict internet times and stick to them. No excuses.

8. Do a kind deed. Anonymously. Not because you want to be noticed, but because of the act of kindness itself. When you do that, it will take your focus off of your own needs or desires, and the feeling of giving will fill you with more joy than any material item can bring. Try it!

9. Make a recipe from scratch. Slowly. This may sound counteractive to simplifying, but sometimes the act of slowing down and not rushing through something, helps us to appreciate simplicity. Make a recipe without rushing through it, just to "get it done." Appreciate the steps, and the work and time it takes. Slowing down, helps us realize how much a fast paced world complicates things. Just enjoy the act, and the work of the task. Then invite a friend over to enjoy the fruit of your labor!

10. Keep a journal. Write down the things that you are thinking...slowly and beautifully. It will help slow your mind down, so you can focus.

11. Invite a friend over for good old fashioned tea. Don't worry about making a fancy spread. Forget Pinterest even exists. Go the old fashioned route of enjoying each other's company, and not the fluff of the perfect spread or fancy tableware. God wants us to focus on relationships, not outside appearances.

12. Write a letter. No, don't type, email, or text. Write a letter. With a pen, and paper. Take time to appreciate someone else and tell them so.

13. Don't let junk mail come in the house. Head straight to the recycling bin from the mailbox and throw away any junk that comes in, before it can clutter up your desk.

14. Plan your meals. Take just 30-60 min per month to pick out meals for the next month. This has simplified my life in so many ways. I can enjoy my afternoons without worrying about what to make for dinner. (Free printable here) And remember, your family doesn't need a Pinterest perfect meal- they just want to eat. Do it together :)

15. Go through your children's closets and pick out a few good outfits for Sundays, a few play outfits, and a few extras. Put the rest aside to give away or to save for later. This makes for much less stress in choosing outfits and such. Don't foster the attitude in kids that outfits are so important. When they grow up, they will already know the value of a simple closet.

16. Volunteer. I promise that when you take the focus of off yourself and your needs, life becomes simpler. Fill any voids you feel, with things that matter. Not stuff.

17. Read your Bible. Every morning, before any other thoughts have a chance to creep in. When you seek Him first, everything else falls into place. And His Word is transforming. It will transform your life.

18. Choose to have less {stuff}, and do more {things}. Today instead of shopping for things that provide instant gratification( that will wear off), use your time to do something with eternal value. Visit an elderly friend, serve at a local mission, spend time in prayer. Try a "no spend" challenge for a month. I bet you will see just how much you don't really need.

19.  Keep at least one day on your calendar open with no commitments. Choose for that day to be a day to catch up on things at home, and spend quality time without rushing around.

20. Pray. Ask God to help you simplify. Ask Him to help you focus on the things that matter to Him, and not to the world.


New Podcast! How a Job Loss Changed Our Life

Join me and my husband as we talk about how a job loss changed our life- and how it truly was a BLESSING to experience a lay off.

In  October 2012, my husband was laid off for the third time in our marriage, and this time we said, "Enough." We knew it was time to submit our family's employment to God. My husband began his own business, and we became a full time "work-at-home- family." It is a privilege to work alongside him each day, as I am able to homeschool and work with my writing and speaking ministries, while he fulfills his passion for graphic design. All the while, with our eyes focused on God, He is providing each step of the way. We have fully committed our family business endeavors to Him, and are blessed to live this unique family lifestyle.
Click below to visit the Podcast page- Podcast Episode                


Getting Back to Simple- Life as God Intended it To Be

Yes, my mantra here is live simply.

Have less and do more. 

Yet, it is easier said than done, right?

Life is complicated and messy and everything in between.

Just when we think we have it all figured out, something new and different is on the horizon waiting to challenge us.

Life is not simple.

But is it possible for it to be?

I read an article yesterday that really touched me. You probably saw it circulating around the web.  It really caused a stir in my heart. For this woman, she was dying and begging those left here, to live. To really live. Why does it take dying, to truly live?

Many days I will preach simple, want simple, and try to live simple, but life calls, the world calls, and I am distracted and overwhelmed.

And my purpose in simplifying is to focus on the important. That is the core reason for simplicity. To focus on the things that matter. To live the life God calls me to live. If I were not to wake tomorrow, did I live the life I preached?

I want to, but am afraid so often I get off track.

There's only one chance to get this life lived. And we never know how many more seconds we have left. So simplicity is must.

It's like processed food. We need to weed out the fillers. The fluff and stuff that piles up that really has no significance in the long run.

I've read that people refer to whole foods as the "food the way God intended it to be." Deep down in there, was something that was nutritious once, and necessary for us to live- food. Then the world decided it could be better so they added junk to it, processed it some more, and soon the good stuff had been replaced by a quick fix of additives and chemicals- that made us sick.

Then we craved it more...we craved the junk.  The natural, wholesome nutritious food never seemed enough. We wanted the extras. We wanted the junk, that left us craving more and more...

We forgot what good food tasted like. We forgot what we really needed. Satisfying wholesome food.

Isn't that what happens in our lives?

God was there to fill us. Nourish us. And we craved more...

We need to be living the way God intended us to live-Living For Him.

It is so simple. There is God. He is the center. He is all in all. He is our satisfying, wholesome food.

But the world tells us we need more. We need glitz and glamour and fluff and stuff. We toil and we work and we want to keep adding to what once was all we needed. We weren't satisfied in Him alone.

But He is all we need. He is what gives us life. He is what gives us breath. He is our spiritual nourishment. Without Him at the center, we continue to try and add more and more, seeking satisfaction apart from Him.

The world is so full of distraction. May I remember that everything around me can crumble tomorrow, but He is eternal and all I need.

May I live for that truth. Really live my life authentically for Him.

Because, He is the reason we live, we move, and we exist...
(Acts 17:28)