Trust Jesus...

This is quite a surreal post to write. I've been writing it in my head for days. 
Trying to wrap my head around 13 years. 

We are moving. We are leaving our first home, that we moved into just short of 13 years ago. Actually next month, it will be 13 years since we owned this home. My daughter, was not even a year old yet. We were newly married, new to parenthood, and just beginning our walk with the Lord. SO much has happened here in this home. These walls know the beginnings of our life together. They saw three baby boys join our family. They saw first steps, new beginnings, smiles, and joy. They also witnessed heartache, pain, and tears.

The memories spiral in my mind.

Backyard fun,
Family Bible Studies,
Bike riding,

What really strikes me though is how our journey with the Lord took place here in this town. I clearly remember when we were getting ready to move here...I had never even heard of this town before, and then suddenly we had an offer in and a closing date set. I was nervous...our first house...what were we getting into it? Could we afford it? We knew no one in the area. What were we thinking? I would panic and wonder if it was the right decision.

Some days, prior to our moving, I would put my baby girl in the car for nap time and drive up to the neighborhood...I'd drive around and wonder what life was going to be like. As I drove up one time, full of fear...there it was...in the trees...

Now, stick with me here...this is the point of the story where it gets so strange, that if I were reading this as a reader, I'd raise my brow. Really, though. This is the truth. I was driving one day, and there in the trees lining the highway...were these little wooden signs. They read, "Trust Jesus."

Now, I am not one for believing that God sends us "signs"...sure He does things for confirmation, but this? (just recently I told a friend this story, and guess what? She remembered the signs! They really were there!)

Anyway, those signs brought much comfort to me. You see, I was just beginning my journey  of a relationship with Jesus. So those signs really meant something. And deep down,  I knew it would be all right.

And it was. It sure was. What a journey He put us on.

You know the funny part? The town we live in...it's name...Mount Olive. As I sit here today and ponder that, it really does not seem to be a coincidence. The Mount of Olives in the Bible is the very place where Jesus taught many people. They came to hear Him speak at the Mount of Olives.

And so did we.

That is exactly what happened here in our Mount Olive.  I spent time with Jesus. I sat at His feet and learned so much. We found our church, our church family, and we found Him. We learned more than I ever could have imagined 13 years ago. We are now in a place in our life that I never dreamed of.

Isn't God amazing?

And guess, what...the town we are moving to? Its name is Hope. I am exuberant with anticipation of what God has in store for us in such a place. Who we will meet...who we will touch, and who will touch us. Life is a beautiful thing. I am so grateful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And for Hope. The true and only Hope found in Him.

To God Be the Glory for what He has done and what He will do!

So, as we prepare to leave our beginnings, we are excited for new things. New chapters. Friday, Lord willing, we will walk out the front door for the very last time, and into Hope. A future. And a new chapter.


Is It "Just" Stuff...

Moving can really test you. Here I am amidst a sea of boxes, many I didn't even know existed up there in the attic these past twelve years...they've been home to cobwebs and little stinkbugs...out of sight, out of mind.

As each one came slowly down from the attic, I couldn't believe how much was up there. It like one of those clown cars where they keep coming out...over and over...box after box.

I peered inside...some were really just junk. Easy decision. Toss it. Simplify, simplify, simplify. After all, I'm the lady who writes about simplifying. Purge. Only take what's necessary. I keep repeating these things.

And then, I slowly peel back the fraying cardboard box, the somewhat musty and dusty smell hits me, and it's like I am swirling back in time...years and years, way back. Way before the days of mommy hood, even before adulthood. Boxes of memories. Pictures, letters, trinkets, things of the past (lots of times I'd rather forget...the high school box...the difficult years) start flooding my eyes. I don't even know where to begin. I find my baby book, my 8th grade year book, pictures of loved ones long passed, notes, cards...it's almost too much. I save that box for another time.

Then there's the big Rubbermaid bin of my daughters elementary years. The time she learned to write her name, her first books, her first phonics lessons, her math, her Cubbies vest, her scribbles and scrabbles.

"Do we really need to take all of that stuff?" my husband asks. "No," I think. "We do not need to hold onto these things. After all, I haven't looked at them in years, and didn't even know they were up there. "

But, as I unfold that tattered and worn paper, with her very first sentence written on it...the memories...the scared mom who didn't want to homeschool...the little bucked tooth girl who I taught to read...and write...and do math...all the while, not knowing what the future would hold...and here I am in the future...knowing how it turned out. My past collides with my present. Memories flood my mind.

I start to dump the whole box into the garbage. Until, suddenly, I can't. I just can't. I start piling it all back into the Rubbermaid bin.

So, where do we draw the line on this simplicity stuff?
I know some of it is just stuff...but it is also a living testimony that shows where we have been and what we have become.

It really is just "stuff." Yet, it is very hard to part with. So, I make the decisions on what to keep and what to part with. Part of the past I don't want to remember, but it is what made up this life God has given me. The memories of my high school years, the years I dated my husband, our wedding, early parenthood. It is all such a part of this wonderful life He has given.

So, I sit here torn. I know it is just "stuff" and just one more thing to move. It will probably end up back in an attic for many more years, home to more little stinkbugs and cobwebs...but it is part of the legacy I leave. I think about my future adult kids...is that the next time these boxes will even get opened...when they clean out my things...someday...will they look through these things and see the legacy someday? I decide to keep much of it. Yes, I know I am simplifying, but there are some things that I just can't let go.

Then I smile, I see what my eighth grade English teacher wrote in my yearbook..."Keep Writing..." Hmmm, isn't it funny how life turns out. I never expected to be still writing...and here I am. Then I laugh, as I read a story I wrote and in red it reads, "Watch your tenses." Something I still struggle with today. Oh, the past has a funny way of showing up...I am thankful for these reminders of who I am and where I was.


Lessons from Ezra

I just love when God teaches us lessons. Yesterday, we were talking about honoring God and how we should stop each day and ask ourselves, "Are my actions honoring God? Are my thoughts honoring God? Am I honoring God in how I behave?" I asked the kids to look up verses about honor and we would discuss them today.

I myself,  also looked up verses in the Bible, and God brought me to Ezra. My concordance brought me to Ezra 7:27-28.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way 28 and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.
Ezra 7:27-28

This caused me to look further into Ezra, and it made me smile how God really used this lesson. We have also been talking so much lately about knowing God's Word and about really living what we learn. Well, Ezra's life teaches us these very things. God tied in the verse to exactly what we were discussing.

"For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel." Ezra 7:10

That's it. In a nutshell. Pure and simple. Those are the three things I want my children to do above all. If they can do those three things, then I have done my job.

  • Know God's Word
  • Live God's Word
  • Teach it to Others
Sure they need to know math, and reading, and writing. But God's Word above all else equips for life. It equips for eternity. I truly believe if we know God's word and live it, He will equip us for everything else we need. He will bless us for honoring Him. The closer we are to Him in His Word, the more we will be equipped for whatever life hands us.

It's really plain and simple. Sure we can focus on providing the fanciest of curriculum, or the elaborate studies...but it really all comes down to knowing God's Word first and foremost. That is where true wisdom is found. Then living it and then passing it on to others. A simple truth that once we grasp, will allow us to do far more than we ask or imagine. God will use us to honor Him, when we know Him and make Him known.

Thank you Lord for this lesson today. You knew exactly what we all needed to hear. I  thank you for your Word and for the privilege to teach it. Now may I live it...


The Pilgrims Didn't Have a Pinterest Board

this is a repost from 2013

My mind is swimming after scanning Pinterest today. There are so many resources out there for having the "perfect" Thanksgiving. While it is all so beautiful and creative, may we not lose focus on those special days, because we live in a super charged world filled with so many distractions.

A few years back we studied the Pilgrims, and even took a trip to Plymouth, MA. What stood out to me most about that time was that those people truly lived their faith. They truly risked it all.  Imagine leaving your country  with your family, small children maybe even, and sailing across the ocean to an unknown land. Imagine getting to that land and losing most of your friends that winter to disease and death. Imagine doing this all for your faith. Imagine doing it all for the outcome you would never see in your lifetime.

That's faith. Faith isn't talking about it, making cute crafts about it, writing about it even. Faith is LIVING IT.

Truer faith I do not know...

So this Thanksgiving, remember what it is truly about. Read about the Pilgrims. Discuss them with your children...their struggle, their perseverance, their faith. Then live it. We don't need the best dressed table, the best decorations, or the best "stuff."

Our children will learn more from us in action. Seeing our own faith in action. Living it. They don't care what the crafts were or the table looked like, but they will care that they were loved. They will learn more from a faith that is in action, than from a faith that is talked about.

So remember the Pilgrims. That first Thanksgiving had nothing to do with cute and beautiful stuff. What was celebrated was their God and His provision. They didn't need a Pinterest board. They had enough. And because of them we are here today.

(note- I DO love Pinterest and it is surely fun and helpful at times, but may it not consume us...)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.


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.