Five Minute Friday: Friend

I’ve always needed one. I haven’t always had one. But God has always provided what I needed when.

Through the different seasons in life… when I didn’t know up from down, saying ‘I do’, holding my first baby and all the moments in between and after.

God has never left me alone.

I think of this season of ‘now’ and how things have changed and the friends that hold me up and carry me through. And I just don’t know what I would do without you.

You talk to me and you listen.

You make me laugh and laugh at me and with me and it’s what rescues this recovering Pharisee.

And even though we are miles apart, you are holding me.

Your words, they bring healing and clarity. How are you so stinkin’ smart? You’ve saved my counselor endless hours and he doesn’t even know it.

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never be able to give back to you what you have given to me and I guess that’s what makes this work.

You encourage my deepest hopes and calm my crazy and point me to the Lover of my Soul.

We don’t hide behind masks or hide our struggles or even the things we disagree on. And sometimes our differences make us wonder if we should even be friends.

But of course we should. Because God knew what we needed; He knew I would need you.

I thank Him often for His prompting that day long ago when you picked up the phone and ignored my distant tone. You didn’t give up. And I will never be the same. This road we walk is far less scary because we have each other.

Friend, I love you.

The Sacredness of Mothering

housework print by Granger

I was on the floor. Again. Underneath the highchair. My knees were wet and I was scrubbing. Scrubbing with SOS pad in hand, trying to free the who-knows-how-long-its-been-there-food off of the floor. My nails were chipped, my hair hanging haphazardly and my T-shirt splashed with bleach stains.

When I signed up to be a mother ten plus years ago, this was not the vision I had pictured in my mind. That vision was more… clean.

No one warned me of the messes, (and if you did, I blissfully ignored you) the puke, the mound of dirty diapers, the snot, the poop, the laundry, the missed-aim pee-soaked shower curtain, the dishes, the soured, chunky-milk sippy cups underneath the seat of the car. Ugh! The car!

I didn’t know about the week long process of seasonal clothes change. Or the doctor and dentist and orthodontist appointments. Or that the broom would become an extended part of my body. I didn’t know that shower mold was actually orange and not green. Or how involved playing T-Ball really is and what it takes to get there. I didn’t know about arsenic hour.

I didn’t know that most days I would feel more like a maid than a mom. And that some days I’d forget who I was underneath the constant need to serve.

But scrubbing the floor not so many days ago, God whispered something to me. Just one word.


Regardless of how it felt or what I looked like, I was engaged in sacred work.

housework print by Granger

The definition of sacred is – dedicated to or set apart for the worship of a deity; made or declared holy; worthy of respect.

Our work as mothers is sacred work. It is sacred because of how God uses it to daily sanctify. A gradual process of making us holy.

As this word rolled over me, I noticed my tears mixing in with the soapy water on the floor. God had set me apart for his worship through the setting aside of myself. And after many years of begrudging the task, I somehow felt honored. Honored to be on hands and knees, in servitude.

There is something about serving another that is so good for our souls. This mothering. This caring for little ones. This demanding, often dirty, lonely work is just so good for us. It strips us of ourselves and empties us of pride. It forces us to set aside self and care for the weaker, demanding one. It makes us more like Jesus.

There is less of me when I’m kneeling low in service. There just is. And that is always a good thing.

I was reminded of that argument found in the Gospels. The one the disciples were having quietly among themselves. The one about who they thought was the greatest. Jesus is so patient with our pride. He didn’t point to himself (the obvious greatest) or rebuke them with a loud voice. He showed them by bringing a little child over to them saying, “…For he who is least among you all, he is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48)

There was another story, when a mother came to Jesus. She wanted to secure for her sons important positions in the kingdom of God. Jesus plainly told her, “You don’t know what you are asking.” He knew her focus was on Jesus’ earthly kingdom and reign, not on His eternal one. She was looking for security in earthly position, not in Christ himself. He responded with this, “Whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first, must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt. 20)

Servanthood was a common theme among Jesus’ teachings. He knew our hearts and how hard this would be for us. We want position. We want acclaim. We want accolades and recognition for a job well done. We want what we think we deserve. That is not easily found in the area of motherhood.

Mother’s Little Angels

Instead, it is a constant giving of yourself. It begins the moment of conception when your body is no longer your own. You become the dwelling place. A vessel of life and one that must be broken open in order for life to be given to another. There are wounds and scars left behind, your heart bearing the greatest of wounds. Your life becomes a life of sacrifice. Your wants, your desires, your needs, all sacrificed for another.

This is a hard surrender. It’s ok to admit that. Because Jesus is patient with our pride. And so are our children. Their gift of forbearance makes up one hundred fold what they’ve ever demanded from us.

We are to look to them. The least of these. The least who are the greatest.

When that first baby was laid on my chest and I felt the weight of it all, I didn’t know what I had really been given. A very high calling and privilege. One of service.

It was hard falling into that roll. My inner self screamed sometimes and my outer self cried – a lot. I just wanted to sleep or take a shower or eat a meal without nursing a baby. My selfishness cried louder than my baby did at times. It caused anger and resentment and frustration. It has taken years and four babies to chip away the bondage of that selfish pride. And still it clings.

I have to be careful not to be like the mother who came to Jesus seeking only what this earth could give. There is so much more found in Christ alone. But it looks different than what we would initially expect sometimes. It is often the very opposite in fact. We have to look through a different lens. A lens of sacrifice, a lens of daily dying, the lens of hard, sacred work that takes on the purpose of holiness.

I get distracted sometimes by the gift my children are. And I miss the real gift. They are not merely given to me so that I might teach, nurture and protect them. They are given to me so that I might be taught. That my holiness might be nurtured. And my heart protected from selfish pride.

I am thankful Jesus is patient with us and that he didn’t leave me in that place of frustration. I am thankful that he didn’t give up on this ol’ girl, that he didn’t stop hammering away at my hard heart. And that’s he’s still chipping away.  I am thankful for the work accomplished through scrubbing a floor. The inside work of the heart.

It is sacred work.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but make himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)

Dear Judah

Your first birthday has come and gone. More than two weeks have gone by… and I’m just now sitting to write your birthday letter.

I’m sure you would understand if I gave the excuse, “I’ve just been too busy or I’ve not had a moment to…”

Because that would be true. The past few weeks have been very busy.

But it wouldn’t be entirely true. 

This excuse might not make sense to you. But my mommy-heart hasn’t been quite ready to write your first birthday letter. And my mommy-heart can be a tricky thing.

This past year has been such a joy for me. I just didn’t want it to end. I haven’t wanted to admit, really admit, that your first year has come and gone. But it has. And I can say it now, if not a little quietly.

A couple of years before you were born I was somewhere. I can’t remember where now, but it was away from home. I had Olivia, Deacon and Levi with me and maybe Daddy too. We were busy and there were lots of people buzzing about, so I counted.

I counted the heads. One… two… three…

I counted again. One… two… three…

Everyone was there, but for some reason, I couldn’t shake that feeling that someone was missing. I looked around, waiting to see who it was that I was missing… but you weren’t here yet.

That kept happening. Sometimes I would get a little panicky about it. And then I would feel a little silly. So I decided to pray and ask God why it was that I was feeling that way.

And then He showed me.

I’ll never forget the first time I thought that I might be pregnant with you.

I was downtown and wanted a coffee. But as soon as I walked into the coffee shop, I didn’t want coffee anymore. So I got tea. But it just didn’t taste right, so I threw it out.

I paused for a moment. Hmmm… could it be? A few days later we would know for sure.

I remember laying in bed with my hand over my tummy and my tears streaming down into my ears. My heart was so full. Yes, that mommy-heart of mine. That one that can be so tricky. It was so happy and full of joy and I wondered who you would be.

I thought of your forming body and that verse that talks about God knitting you together. I pictured His hands at work, even then, in the hidden place of my womb. My heart rejoiced.

I didn’t know then that you would be a boy, but I knew if you were what I would name you. I would name you Judah, for my heart was Praising the Lord.

I thought I was done having babies. That’s what we had said. We had even given all of our baby things away! My heart was content with that. But I’m so glad God decided something different. For my heart has been full of praise since the moment I knew you were on your way.

As you grow, you will learn that God is always working and preparing us and those around us for… something. Sometimes it may seem like a small thing, an unimportant thing. But looking back you will see that it wasn’t unimportant after all. That God had a plan for that something and used it in a very big way.

Adding children to a family is a special thing. It is also a very natural thing. And although every baby is a miracle of God’s creation, it is also very normal and not unusual. I know I may be sounding a little wishy-washy. I blame it on my mommy-heart. It can sound that way sometimes.

But what I’m trying to say, is that God used the very natural occurrence of having a baby to do something big in the heart of this mommy.

We are all born for a purpose. God plans the time and place and family He places a baby in. It’s never an accident. I want you to grow to believe that, David Judah. He numbers our days before we ever see one of them. And God has a book that He writes all these things down in. He knows us. He loves us. And He uses our lives to change the lives of others.

And God is already using you, sweet boy. To encourage this mommy-heart. To confirm God’s blessings over my life. To whisper… I still hear the cries of your heart. Cause sometimes, this mommy-heart cries.

And just as I held you those long hours and days and months when all you did was cry…

God is holding me.

And when I didn’t sleep at night, but nursed you instead, breathing you in…

I remembered how God never sleeps, and always tends to our needs.

And when my heart would expand to yet another size and the tears would stream down at your first smile….

My heart would be refreshed at the thought of God’s favor over His children.

I have praised the Lord, my son. I have praised Him with my whole being for giving us you. I have praised Him for another chance to be a mommy.

I have praised Him for 10 more little fingers and toes…

And for the way you just wanted to be held all the time and how you don’t mind wearing your jammies to the park….

And for how you loved your first Christmas, even though you napped through the family picture and mommy forgot about you needing to be in it! And the way you are so good at eating your food all by yourself….

And for your chubbily scrumptious cheeks (sometimes I eat them!) And for the way you LOVE your lovey (it truly as magical powers) and suck your tongue when you are sleepy…


For your ears and your duck hair and the way you meow every time you see the kitties…


For your new teeth and the way you love to play in your Pack N’ Play… (and how you love balloons!)

 For the way you love your Uncle B. and how you ROCK a faux hawk!

For how I don’t have to see your smile to know you are smiling! And the way you are mommy’s helper in the kitchen (and yes you are wearing a tie here =)).

I am praising Him that you are my fourth blessing (whether you like it or not).

And for the way you are trying so hard to stand even though you’d rather just sit on my lap and smile.

And for how much you love to play with your toys and your brothers and sister. And for how you knew exactly what to do with that cupcake (eat it) and that number one (throw it on the floor).

And for how simply beautiful you are. You take my breath away. I love you my son. Thank you for filling this mommy-heart to overflowing. Happy Birthday.

You Know You’re a Momma When…

You pick up 100 Lego pieces in a day and instead of throwing them away, you put them back in the box because you know they will need them for their next building project.

You do 8 loads of laundry in a day.

You load and unload the dishwasher at least twice before dinner.

The only time the house stays clean is when your children are sick.

You reach in your purse to find your sunglasses and instead your hand comes out covered in goldfish crumbs.

You don’t hear your name until the 11th time they’ve said it.

You feel guilty for no reason.

People stare at you in Wal-mart.

You ask your waitress to change the channel on the restaurant T.V. and ignore her belittling stare.

You opt for casual comfort rather than the latest fashions.

You wonder, just what do they do with all of that toilet paper?

You play peek-a-boo through the window of the car while pumping gas… and again people stare at you.

You cry when your child’s hamster gets hurt.

You cuddle your hurt boy and kiss his sweaty head, ignoring his puppy dog smell.

You talk about your kids on dates, even though you know you’re ‘not supposed to’.

You collapse in the bed at the end of the day.

You stay up all night watching your child breathe when they are sick.

Your heart aches with love.

You have all of your lunch dates at Chic-Fil-A.

You stand up for your kids when know one else does.

You feel glamorous walking into church Sunday because it’s the first time you’ve worn make-up in a week.

Your favorite shows are Veggie Tales and Cars ‘Number 2’, and My Little Pony…

Some of your favorite conversations are with people 3 feet tall.

You cheer very loudly at T-Ball games.

You hear phantom baby cries in the middle of the night.

You hold her hand after someone called her a name… and take captive thoughts of inflicting harm on another child.

You are embarrassed to open your car door.

You step on cheerios and march their crumbs through the house… and in between your sheets.

You wash his camouflage clothes after he goes to bed so he can wear them again the next day.

You swallow your pride and let them dress themselves.

You get your exercise by dancing in the kitchen.

You don’t mind smelling like spit up.

You become a pro at hiding greasy hair.

You spend hours begging God in prayer.

You try really hard to believe Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said, “Don’t worry..”

Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo becomes your favorite scent.

You cry every time your read “You are Special” by Max Lucado.

Wooden spoons have multiple purposes.

Mosquito bites make you angry.

You find dirty diapers in strange places.

You feel like a champion after only 4 hours of sleep.

You consider glue and play dough and crayons and markers and puzzles a great investment.

You send messages of love in lunch boxes every day.

You somehow change an explosive poop on your lap on a crowded air plane and enlist the help of the passenger sitting next to you.

You answer letters to the Tooth Fairy in curly hand writing.

While driving yourself to the doctor, after hacking for a week, your kids ask you if you are sick and you refrain from glaring at them.

You learn to share the gospel in a very simple, childlike way… and cry tears of joy when they come to you late at night and tell you they want to become a Christian.

And then you realize that all the dirty work and long hours and tired shoulders and frustrated moments were all worth it. Because moments like these are why we are here being their mothers. To take them by the little hand, dirty finger nails and all, and lead them to the Saviour who will lead them far better than we ever could.

And we leave them at the cross for a moment, before we pick them up again, and in that moment there is peace. And we wish we could stay in that moment, but mostly we just remember those moments of peace and surrender. Because as mothers it’s the hardest thing to hand them over to God and not worry and strive and try harder. Because that is what we do. We mother. And sometimes there is fear and we wonder if it will be enough.

But it will never be enough. Only God can be enough. And we are reminded once again and try and let go a little bit more.

God knows. His heart is more mother than ours. And because He let go of His Son… we can hold tighter to Him.

Happy Mothering.

Goodnight Moon

It’s one of my favorites. That little book. I used to have it memorized, now it’s only parts I remember.

Bedtime has always been my favorite time of day.

It’s still a favorite. But I think my reasons have changed.

Before it was because I was tired. I mean, really exhausted. Mommy was done. I had been going since my feet hit the floor. Giving, giving, giving. There were battles over bowls and cups and the right color. Toy wars had ensued. Sometimes I came out the victor. Sometimes. Discipline had been accomplished. Spankings, timeouts, no t.v., no snack, come inside NOW!

We may have gone to the grocery store, if we absolutely had to. That meant one car seat captive in the back of the buggy, a walking 20 month old beside me and the older 3 year old in the front seat of the buggy. Believe me, this was how it had to be, as funny as it may have looked.

I endured the stares and comments… My you have your hands full! …You must be military, he’s home just long enough to get you pregnant! (really, do people have no couth these days!?) …God bless your SOUL!  I repeated my rehearsed replies, Why yes I do and I’m so thankful! … No, I’m not military, but am so thankful for their service to our country, military wives included … God HAS blessed me, yes. That shut them up, most of the time.

After several melt downs along the way, the kids included, we would arrive home. It was usually nap time by this point. I would quickly deposit the kids in their nap locations, some on my bed with books, others in cribs. Then I would tackle the bags and bags of groceries, which would hopefully last more than a week. This is why I didn’t need to go to the gym.

I would try and take advantage of the quiet to get dinner started, but usually got distracted at some point while putting things away. I’d end up cleaning behind the dryer or something and would later wonder why my back hurt.

By the time dinner was well under way there was usually someone on my hip and another one clinging to my leg. I had the other watching Cinderella for sanity purposes.

Daddy would come home. We’d try and have a conversation while inhaling our food over the high volume level of little ones and in between the 20 times I had to get up and go back to the kitchen for something. I’m sure someone had spilled something or picked that time to want to try and go potty and don’t forget about the nursing baby who’s internal radar senses the precise moment you sit down to eat.

Bath time was essential after dinner. Mashed potatoes were now in ears and caked over eyebrows and they smelled like whatever chicken dish I had haphazardly thrown together. I couldn’t risk a tiger picking up their scent in the middle of the night. We would all be wet by the time it was over. But they were clean and smelling so good and I would just breathe them in.

Some nights we would rock and sing and read books before bed. Most nights we would. I would pray over their fuzzy heads as I laid them down in their beds, 1, 2, and 3.  I would sigh a huge sigh of relief as I tiptoed out of their rooms, crossing my fingers in hopes of not having to return sometime in the middle of the night.

Walking down the stairs I felt satisfied. Another day done. I had survived it. A smile would creep over my potato crusted face. I would get to that later. For now, it was the kitchen that must be tackled and then the slippery bathroom and the 10,000 toys that seemed to multiply by themselves which were scattered across the floor, just beckoning you to come and step on one. It may be quiet, but the work was not done.

Many hours later I myself would crawl in bed. I may have tried to read, but wouldn’t get very far. The book would have fallen across my chest. I would turn off the light after waking around 2am. I’d make sure the monitor was on. I may have traveled up the stairs just to make sure that tiger hadn’t found them and would again revel in their stillness.

During the rest of the night my mind and body would be renewed by precious sleep. Unlikely uninterrupted, but precious all the same.

I would wake again the next morning to more diapers and tantrums and laundry and spit up and… well you probably get the picture.

I’m not proud to admit the survival-mode mentality I lived with in those first few years of mothering. But I was a different person back then. A different mother. I was in a very different season of life and I’d like to think that I’ve seasoned over time and matured just a bit. Just like with every other thing, I’ve grown better at mothering the more experience I’ve had.

Many have commented on how differently I’m doing things with number four. Again, it’s a different season, I’m a different mommy.

Tucking them in at night is different too. I’m still tired at the end of the day. They are still loud and still fight and we still battle through the grocery store. But my perspective has been tweaked just a bit. I’m not always in such a hurry to end another day.

If you combine all of my kid’s years, then we have celebrated 22 birthdays so far. That’s a lot. And I can’t believe Judah’s first is next month! The more years that flash by, I think the more a Mama realizes just how fast it really goes.

You also realize that no matter what mess or catastrophe may happen in a day, you will survive it. Even if you’ve been up all night with a sick one, you know you will sleep again. You know the crying will stop and the food throwing and the booger wiping (well, maybe) and the constant bickering and running through the house with muddy shoes… one day we will all have clean houses and we will hate it.

There will be an end to this crazy season of ‘mothering’. We will never stop being mothers, but will stop the mothering part. And we will stop tucking them in at night too. They will grow too old for Good Night Moon and I Love You This Much and all my other favorites. Some of mine already have.

That’s what I think of when I tuck them in sometimes. So I don’t mind laying just a bit longer and snuggling a bit closer. And don’t mind giving one more kiss or hug or listening to one more thing that happened in their day or meeting the challenge of tickle me too! They just love that. But I think I love it more.

So as we say good night to our young ones, let’s remember that we will one day say good bye to these precious days. We will heave a sigh of relief I’m sure, but I think we’ll miss it more. This shouldn’t make us sad. Great things and great hope come with every season of life. But maybe it will help to give us a better perspective as we fight off the temptation to rush things and wish it away.

In the great green room there was a telephone
And a red balloon and a picture of–

The cow jumping over the moon

and there were three little bears, sitting on chairs
and two little kittens and a pair of mittens

and a little toy house and a young mouse
and a comb and a brush and bowl full of mush
and a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”

Goodnight room goodnight moon
goodnight cow jumping over the moon
goodnight light and the red balloon

goodnight bears goodnight chairs
goodnight kittens goodnight mittens
goodnight clocks and goodnight socks
goodnight little house and goodnight mouse
goodnight comb and goodnight brush
goodnight nobody goodnight mush
and goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”

goodnight stars, goodnight air

goodnight noises everywhere

Why We Decided to Homeschool… And Then Changed Our Minds

I have been very slow at posting posts lately. I have had several in the works and for whatever reason, well I could probably name four,  have not been able to finish and publish!

This has been a very difficult one for me to actually write. I’ve literally started it more times than I know.

I think it’s because homeschooling has been such a part of my life since I was in 5th grade. It has played a huge role in shaping the person, wife and mother I have become (good and bad!) .

I love so much about it. I hate so much about it! It can definitely be a topic of one of the most emotionally charged conversations you will have. I know from experience. I think that is because so many have such strong convictions about it. Which is important and can be a good thing. It can also build walls and burn bridges. Both of which I have been a victim of and participator in.

Yeah, I’m so sorry.

Well, to catch those of you up who are not on facebook… We enrolled our sweet Livie Rose in a private Classical Christian school after Christmas.


I have been asked a lot of questions since then. And I want to take the time to explain where we are coming from and what brought us to this point.

Many of you already know this, but Dustin and I were both homeschooled as children. And when it came time for us to decide what we were going to do for our own children’s education it was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I had always assumed we would homeschool. I was a staunch believer in it. Quite legalistic even. I had pretty much made a blanket decision for all of humanity that homeschooling was the best and only option if you were to produce obedient, God fearing children.

In college I even wrote a few research papers on the topic. Home Schooling Vs. Public Schooling was the title of one. I think I’ve burned it since… at least I should if I haven’t already done so.

But isn’t that how it usually is? Most pre-parents have a lot of preconceived notions of how raising children will be. They have it all figured out, until the doctor places that sweet baby in their arms. Can’t you envision their panick stricken faces?? Or are you just remembering your own?

See, I began to see homeschooling as a Biblical mandate. When we apply Biblical principles as
though it were a Biblical mandate, that’s when things start to get fishy.*

We LIKE rules. Yeah, we really do. It’s our nature… the nature that God gave us. He has written His moral code on each of our hearts. We were given the Ten Commandments. The Law. And whether we follow that law or not, we like to make sure others do!

You don’t have to dig very deep to see this. Just sit in a room of 2 and 3 year olds for a few minutes and you’ll see what I’m talking about. We do not have to be taught this. Again, it’s in our nature.

Unfortunately, there is also sin in our nature. So any bit of ‘good’ qualities we may have are often and quickly warped by sin. And this area is no exception.

We hear a really good Biblical principle and find a really good application of that principle and we automatically assume that EVERYONE should ALWAYS follow suit. (I remember learning in a counseling class I took in college that ‘extreme statements’ are NEVER good. EVER!)

I am so guilty of this and not just on this issue.

When Olivia was a young toddler I remember talking to a friend who had children in elementary school. They were having a hard time and she said, “Education is the hardest thing about parenting. It’s just so hard.”

I thought she was overreacting. I mean, really. Education is easy. You just homeschool them! I so unfairly judged her because she had her kids in a brick and mortar school. Sure, you will have hard days and it wont always be easy, but bring your kids home and all of your problems will be solved! Thankfully I didn’t say that to her, but that’s what I was thinking!

The closer the time came to make that decision for us, the more doubts I had. A lot of change had taken place in my mind and heart regarding this issue. And I wasn’t so sure it was always the best option for every family.

I began to understand that I had become super legalistic about a lot of things. I wasn’t really looking at people (or myself) as individuals with individual needs. It had become more about fitting into a certain mold so that I would be accepted by my peers, the leaders of the church, even God. I realized I had become more concerned with what others thought about what I was doing than what God might think. Our decision was being motivated by fear. Fear of man.

There was another kind of fear that was a huge motivator. And I think this is pretty common among many (and sometimes justified). Fear that if I didn’t homeschool, than I would ‘lose’ my kids. That they would ‘fall away from God’. And ultimately, that I would fail as a parent.

Yes, by putting your children in an anti-God environment 8 hours of their day, you take the risk of that happening. No question. Especially if you are not combating that at home with intentional, Biblical teaching.

But I began to take a closer look at the many homeschool families that I had grown up with. What I found was a little confusing to me. I found that if all of those children were put into a basket and you reached your hand in and grabbed a handful, half would come out following God and the other half sadly lost. They didn’t seem to know who they were or where they were going, much less who God was or what He meant to them.

How could this be?

So it wasn’t the ‘fix all’ answer to our problems after all. It didn’t come with a guarantee that our kids would ‘turn out alright’ or that I would even get the ‘perfect parent’ award.

So maybe it wasn’t the best option for every family.

We hesitated.

Things had been so clear before and now we were left with a whole lot of questions that we couldn’t find answers to. It’s hard trusting God when you can’t see the outcome.

To make an already long story a bit shorter…

We ended up enrolling Olivia in preschool at The Parish Church of St. Helena when she was three with much hesitation and trepidation. I was nervous at first. But it turned out to be a wonderful experience for all of us. Especially for my sweet, very rambunctious, very strong-willed three year old, who really did need more than I could give her at the time. I also had a 2 year old and a 6 month old at home and life was really busy for me. Hard even. Very hard.

She ended up staying at that little school for 3 years, including her Kindergarten year. We loved it. I assisted in a preschool class one of those years and had my boys in the preschool program as well. We were all there together. I got to see them on the playground and in their classes. It was so fun.

The following year they were not offering first grade. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. I wasn’t ‘afraid’ of school anymore, the brick and mortar kind that is… Or was I?

I was so comfortable with the situation we had. We were all there together. I loved the environment. Olivia was thriving. Could I put her in a public school?

We explored many options and prayed A LOT! By the end of her Kindergarten school year I was almost beside myself. We were still undecided and I had no idea what to do.

Finally God offered clarity through my husband. Oh how thankful I was for him. He sat me down and said, “This is crazy! You are going crazy! And it’s making me crazy!!” He went on to say that he felt God was leading us to homeschool.

At that point I didn’t care what he told me to do. I was just glad to finally have an answer and be able to move forward.

That first year was quite challenging. Even though I had been homeschooled I had never actually home-schooled! It was tough, especially since I’m not the nurturing, teacher type. I don’t do lesson plans. I find no joy in coming up with fun crafts. Explaining how to add numbers made me feel a little loony at times. And being in a small space with three little ones all day took some major adjusting (attitude adjusting that is)!

It was tough. But I soon found myself learning to love it, if not parts of it. I didn’t feel like it was something we had to do to earn God’s approval or man’s approval. I wasn’t doing it out of fear (well, maybe a little). Mostly we were homeschooling because that was what God had lead us to do that year for that child. It was such a relief.

The next year came around and it was still hard. But I felt more confident and everything was just a bit easier than the year before. I added a kindergartner. We were finding our groove and I was enjoying the routine.

Maybe we’ll become a homeschool for life family after all!

We were approaching our third year of homeschooling. I was expecting our fourth child. For some reason I just wasn’t that nervous about it. It was the first year that I attended our local homeschool conference and didn’t burst into tears upon entering the building!

I had a plan. I knew more of what to expect. I knew which curriculum we were going to use. I had adjusted to being with my children all day every day and had come to love it. And I was excited!

The start of our third year was the best by far. It was fun even! Even with a newborn and schooling an additional one (a total of 3) I didn’t feel too overwhelmed.

And then…


It stopped working.

It had never been easy. We had our usual ups and downs and ruts as most homeschoolers can relate to. So I think my expectations were realistic as far as that goes.

But it became very apparent that we had hit a wall. I don’t know how else to describe it. Other than to add it was extremely intense.

I woke up dreading the day. We couldn’t even make it through a devotional. It was emotionally and mentally draining. And I didn’t know how to move passed it.

That was the thing. We couldn’t move on. I had to stop and that meant getting more and more behind academically. And we were getting absolutely no where relationally either. This was the part that disturbed me the most. 

To sacrifice your child’s education for the sake of bettering a relationship makes sense to me.
But sacrificing you and your child’s relationship for the sake of homeschooling is stupid and prideful.

That’s what we were doing.

I know this sounds a little backwards. If I hadn’t experienced it for myself I don’t think I would have believed it. Homeschooling is supposed to have the opposite affect. If you have a strained relationship with your child and you are able to focus more on them and their heart through the flexibility of homeschooling, then your relationship should be mended! It worked for me as a young elementary-age child and I had seen it work in the heart of Olivia as a first grader.

So I was genuinely caught off guard when the opposite began to take place. The harder I tried, the further I pushed her away. Is it a heart issue vs. a behavior issue? No doubt. Was I aware of that? Yep. Was I taking intentional steps to address that and not just the behavior? You betcha. Did I have the capability to change her heart? Absolutely not. Never will I ever have the ability to change the heart of my child.

I can do my best to foster an atmosphere of repentance through prayer and teaching and heart focus. But it is ultimately up to God if actual heart change is to occur.

The approach we were taking just wasn’t working and her overall spirit was taking a rapid decline. We had to make a change.

A change was needed for other reasons as well.

I have never believed that education is everything. Especially class room education. I truly believe you can produce healthy minded, well rounded, intelligent children in a home education environment. I have seen many encouraging examples of this.

I have also never taken the stance that “It’s just third grade” as I’ve heard many say. I believe it’s important. No matter what grade. Each year you are adding to the foundation of education that will take them throughout their entire educational career! If that is not a strong foundation it wont continue to get stronger on it’s own. It will get shakier and shakier and will make things much harder for them in the end.

So although education isn’t everything, it is VERY important and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

During this time of my life a lot was being demanded of me. And maybe the emotional strain was making things ten times harder than it should have been, but I just wasn’t doing my job as home-educator well – enough.

Things were falling through the cracks. There were many days that I just couldn’t get to everything… or to one of my kids at all. I had a HUGE cloud of guilt hanging over me. I don’t need my children to be academic geniuses. But I do want them to have a fair chance and to receive a good education.

I wasn’t providing that for them.

I also wasn’t providing an atmosphere of learning for Olivia that was suited to her needs. Instead I was squelching them. She is a very bright child. Very artsy if you will. Creative and fun and simply put, beautiful. Gosh, I love this kid. But I am sooo different from her! I admire her abilities and wish I could be more like her and enter her world better than I do. But the fact is, God created me to be who I am… with limitations. I was not cultivating the atmoshpere of learning that she needed to thrive in. In fact, as I mentioned before, the opposite was taking place. None of us (including her brothers) were able to thrive educationally, emotionally or spiritually.

So something had to change.

Some might be thinking, “Well the change needed to happen in you (me) not your educational choice.”

Ok, so now’s my chance to address the home-schooling Mom, thanks for bringing that up!

I think there is a tremendous burden placed on us home-schooling Moms. By others and by our own selves.

It is ingrained in our thinking that we can be and must be everything to our kids. And when we find ourselves failing in some sense we start viewing ourselves as just that, failures, instead of simply overburdened human beings who, wait for it…  have limitations!

 It’s an unfair burden we place on ourselves and others. And it’s also unbiblical.

Only Christ can be everything to our children. And that is not conditional on your educational choices. Christ is so much bigger than that.

I’m so glad that I don’t have to be omni-present in my children’s life to ensure that they will turn out alright. I’m so glad that I can trust a much bigger (than myself) God who cares infinitely more for my children than I will ever have the capability of. And I’m so glad that I don’t have to fit a certain mold in order to have God’s blessings over my life. In our absolute worst state, God chose that moment to bless us with the most incredible mind-blowing blessing – forgiveness and freedom.

I will finish with this.

It was very scary for us to make this step. It kinda happened fast and unexpectedly, although a lot of prayer went into it. I never would have predicted enrolling one of my children in a school mid-year. This was not the plan. But really I guess you could say it was the plan… I just wasn’t aware of it. God had planned this all along.

And I can say that with honesty and assurance and excitement.

I am watching my girl thrive in ways that I’ve never seen before. She is meeting the challenge. She is loving making new friends. She LOVES her teacher (yes, I’ve had to deal with some jealous feelings when I’ve read the “I love you” notes she’s written to her). And she is blossoming as we prayed she would. There have been tears. It has been a huge adjustment for all of us. But overall it has been one of the best things that has happened to our family. I have even seen a huge improvement in my boys, who I’m still homeschooling. The tension is gone and they are thriving.  I have more time for them and the difference is undeniable.

I am so thankful for this confirmation.

I know this is really long, but there is probably a lot more I could say on the subject. But I don’t want to kick a dead horse.

Just remember, no matter what educational decision you make it will never come with a guarantee that your kids will turn out perfect.  As long as you do your best and what works for each child and stay accountable to God instead of man, well, that’s all you can do. And that’s simply what we are trying to do.

We are taking one year, one child at a time and trying to be flexible to the changes that are needed. And we are finding freedom in that.

I see now that my friend of long ago really wasn’t overreacting at all. Education IS one of the hardest things about parenting. You have to do it! There is just no way around it. But it doesn’t have to cripple you either. God really is bigger than you think He is.

*Thanks Russ for helping me put words to my chaotic thoughts. Not that you would ever read my blog, but thought I’d say thanks anyway!

Dear Olivia

My sweet girl had a birthday last week. We celebrated her 9th year. It’s surreal almost, how fast this life goes by. While in the middle of it, it sometimes feels like it’s moving sooo slow! And then you look up from your day dream and stinkin’ 9 years have blinked by!
I know you all experience it and I’m not alone in this. But every birthday is just seems to catch me off guard – again. Maybe one day it wont, but I’m not going to hold my breath!
Here’s my birthday letter to my girl…
When I look at you now, I no longer see my baby. Although, you will always and forever be my baby girl…


I see a beautiful young girl, blooming into womanhood.


How can this be?


When you were asked if you felt older the day of your 9th birthday and you said “Yes, I do” I believed you. You seem to look older even.


It’s almost as if you are starting to shed your ‘locust’ shell and are climbing into the unknowns of growing up.


I loved watching you become a big sister again this past year. You love to be a little mother. And Judah thinks you are his mother sometimes I think! You are so sweet to him and helpful to me. What a good big sister you are.


You are in 3rdgrade this year! You are writing in cursive and reading bigger books and learning your multiplication tables. And now that you are going to Holy Trinity, you are even learning Latin and Astronomy and Greek Mythology! I am so proud of you, sweetie. You have been so brave these past few weeks starting in your new class. You made friends your first day and are working so hard. You are like a bright star in the sky, shining brightly wherever you go. Don’t ever be afraid to shine your light, the light of Jesus.


I was so excited for you when you started going to your new school. Even though I knew you were a little scared. I just knew that you would love it so much and do so well. And you do and are. Sometimes things change and we change and because of that our plans change. But just because those kinds of things happen, it doesn’t mean that God changes. He always stays the same, no matter what. And He always knows what’s going to happen, even before we do, so nothing is ever a surprise to Him. That’s part of why we can trust Him. Because He always has things in control and always uses the things that happen in our lives for His purpose and for His glory.


He has such great plans for you, sweet girl. Because you are so special to Him. He had you be born on the exact day and in just the right family, and oh how glad I am for that.


So when you have moments of doubt. When you aren’t sure of your way or you wonder why things are going the way they are. Know that God knows exactly what is going on and what it all means and why, even. And He hasn’t forgotten you or why He placed you where He placed you.


We all have moments like that, especially growing up like you are. It’s tough sometimes and we don’t always understand what we are feeling. But that’s ok. It’s just part of it I guess.


Mom and Dad will always be here to help you through it. We don’t always do it perfectly, but you already know that. We still wonder what’s going on sometimes and what it all means! Even Mom and Dad. That’s why we all need Jesus and to be reminded of His love and grace and that He is always there leading and guiding us.


My favorite times is around the table doing our devotion. I’m glad we are still able to do that even though you are going to school. I love that you love the Bible and are learning it.


My other favorite time is at bed time when we snuggle and tickle and giggle and get too rowdy and Dad has to calm us down. I love running my fingers through your hair and kissing your forehead and cheeks. I love feeling the top of your head just beneath my chin. You are getting so tall. And soon you will be taller than me! But most people are, so just remember that!


Yes, you are a beautiful young lady. But always remember the most important side… the inside. Your heart. We all have to do heart checks because that’s where everything we say and think and do comes from… our hearts. It can be a beautiful place and an ugly place all at the same time.


So as you become more aware of your outside and wanting to look pretty, don’t forget about that inside that can start to look ugly sometimes to. Going to Jesus everyday will cleanse your heart and reading His words will renew your mind.


I am praying for you sweet girl. Every day. As you grow up and go to school and love your brothers and help mommy. It’s a big job, but you do it so well. And I’m so proud.


Happy Birthday, Livie Rose.


I love you.


Love, Your Mama

Missing You

Gosh I miss this!

I just can’t believe how busy I am these days and that I can’t sit here and type like I used to.

Having #4, homeschooling 3, directing music at my church, hosting this or that, cleaning and keeping up with my arch nemesis (laundry) has my head spinning. And my writing chair sadly empty.

Some people laugh at us bloggers I guess. But they don’t understand. And maybe I don’t understand either.

What is it about sharing your words, your thoughts, your life, your pictures with the world? As small as your world may be.

For me, I think it forces me to be honest. Honest with myself and honest with my world. God has given each of us a small piece of the world. And He’s given/giving us a story too.

It’s important to share that. Whether you blaawwgg or not!

I love typing my thoughts and ponderings out on this white screen. I love what happens to my soul when I push that ‘publish’ button. And I love when you share your thoughts about my thoughts. That’s just plain fun.

I never imagined that I would still be ‘at it’ after two years ~ this all began when I was preparing to go to Ukraine. Or that I would come to love it so much. To depend on it for therapy. =) I just never imagined.

I never used to read other people’s blogs either. Who cares? (I so foolishly thought!) But since I entered the world of blogging, my world has exploded! I’ve even made new friends. And I’ve learned so much about people and moms and their lives. And I really love that.

There is so much to say. So much to share. So much to learn from one another.

So during this season of Thanksgiving, I’m very thankful for you all in blog land. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to share in it. But man, I’m sure missing you all…

The Mom Look

Today is Saturday (if you weren’t aware).

It’s my ‘free’ day.

It sounds better than it actually is. Because although I don’t have the weekday responsibilities looming over me, I have Saturday responsibilities looming instead. But don’t get me wrong. I love Saturdays. This glorious day allows me to get caught up with the stuff that’s fallen between the cracks during the week.

I should be catching up on dusting right now. But instead I’m catching up on blogging…

Last Monday was… well… a Monday.

It had been a day and half since my last shower. It had been two weeks since I had attempted the mountain of laundry. And it was the first day back to school (since Friday) and for some reason that always overwhelms me just a bit.

I had forgotten to eat breakfast as usual. I was feeling a bit on edge due to the 4 cups of coffee I had ingested so by 11:00 I was shaking-starving and quickly inhaled leftover rice and beans from the previous night. Good protein, right?

So when my husband called and told me that he was on ‘this side of town, so how about we meet for lunch?’ I of course said yes! (this never happens) But I looked down in horror at my appearance, plus I wasn’t even hungry!

Oh well, I thought. I’ll just throw on a hat. Besides, no one will notice and I can just sit and enjoy his company.

I didn’t realize that my brother-in-law would be with him. Don’t misunderstand, we love Brandon and it was a pleasant surprise. Until he said…

“Whoa… you got the Mom Look going on today!”

So, someone had noticed…

I laughed (really) and agreed with him. It was bad. So bad in fact that I took a picture.

I’m not sure why I enjoy humiliating myself…

I couldn’t shake his comment for the rest of the day. Actually it’s been a week. (but believe me, it’s a good thing)

The Mom Look

I have laughed to myself repeatedly this week. It’s true. I have the Mom Look these days. But I’m ok with that. More than that actually, I’m proud of it.

Lil’ Mom in training

Because, guess what. I’m a MOM!! A mom of four little ones and they are my life, so why shouldn’t I look the part?

If you are a mom and have never read, “Loving the Little Years” by Rachel Jankovic, you’ve just got to stop what your doing now (but finish reading this first!) and order it on Amazon. I promise you’ll love it!

I LOVE what she had to say on “Me Time” and what that should mean to us moms. Here is a little excerpt from that chapter.

Scars and stretch marks and muffin tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the greatest testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the testimony of joyfully giving your body to another… the testimony of women who know the cost and joyfully pay it is profound. So make sure that you aren’t buying into the world’ propaganda. While there are a great many rewards, the sacrifice is very real. The reason so many women don’t want to do it is because it is very hard and has very real costs. But the answer to these obstacles is not to run away in fear as the world does, but to meet it with joy, and in faith.
My very kind and wise husband once left a note for me on Easter morning, two weeks after Daphne was born. He wrote, “To my wife, before she even goes near the closet on Easter morning.”… In it, he encouraged me to realize that there was no more fitting way to celebrate Easter (or any part of the Christian life) than in a body that has been undone on behalf of another.
So realize that your body is a testimony to the world of God’s design. Carry the extra weight joyfully until you can lose it joyfully. Carry the scars joyfully as you carry the fruit of them. Do not resent the damages that your children left on your body. Just like a guitar mellows and sounds better with age and scratches, so your body can more fully praise God having been used for His purposes. So don’t resent it, enjoy it!

I have definitely needed to be reminded of this 3.5 months post-baby. Having children takes a toll on your body, your mind and soul.

You are no longer just a woman or a wife. You are now a short-order cook, potty trainer, teacher (whether you home school or not),
etiquette instructor, launderer, cleaning service provider, nose wiper, nurse, chauffeur, kisser-of-boo-boos, discipline-er, etc…

And as our pastor’s wife just said last Friday at our Play and Pray, “I am so proud of you all! You have the hardest job in the world.” Gosh we need to hear that. Because it is hard and sometimes we can get lost. Lost climbing the mountain of laundry.

Motherhood changes you. And we must embrace that. Otherwise we will come to resent our mothering.

But at the same time, we can’t let “The Mom Look” define us and take away our femininity. It’s important to remember who we are for our own sanity and it’s important for our husbands and children too. (oh gosh, I really need to hear this today too!)

In that same chapter Rachel says this,

Your body is a tool – maintain it. Having sacrificed your body for your children is no excuse for schlepping around in sweatpants for the rest of their childhood (oops!). When you were eighteen, you might have been skinny without trying. In your thirties, after having had a pile of kids, the chances are good that you will need to try.


I remember my 25th birthday. I had just given birth to my third child (literally the day of). We celebrated with my family a week or so after. I was so touched when my sister-in-law, Mom and sister decided to give me a ‘make-over’ as a gift. I tried not to let the thought seep in that they were doing this because they thought I needed it! Instead I enjoyed the pampering.

I will be forever grateful for that sweet act of kindness! I had really let myself go. I hadn’t even realized it until I was in the store trying on clothes and shoes… when was the last time I did this! Amy my s-i-l was wonderful at helping me find a new style that I was in desperate need of.

That was five year ago. And I have learned so much about dressing nice and looking pretty for my man. Which doesn’t always mean make-up and matching accessories.

But I find myself a little stuck these days. And I need to find myself… again.

I am going to have the Mom Look every now and then. And I’m ok with that, because that’s where I am in life right now. I am a busy, homeschooling mom of four.

My body (and appearance) is bearing the fruit of motherhood. And that is a blessing that I do not take for granted. What a small sacrifice it is.

But I’m also a wife.

And a woman.

And it’s important not to forget that. That’s why just the other day I went and bought some new perfume and some stud (baby-pulling proof) earrings… and resisted buying new comfy ‘workout’ clothes (quotes b/c I don’t wear them to work out in!).

Yes, it’s fun to indulge and pamper yourself just a bit. But don’t forget the true renewal and reminding you of who you are will only come from God and His Word.

This is so hard for me. But it truly works! God’s Word is alive and it speaks to our hearts, not matter where we are stuck in life.

If you have an extra minute, skip on over to my friend’s blog where she writes about some practical how-to’s on how to make time for this. She should know, she’s got 10 kids! And is still homeschooling 8 of them! And she’s a real person! You’ll love her.

Ok, back to my Saturday catch-up day! I’m getting a late start, but that’s ok. I love sharing my heart with you and it helps me better understand what’s going on inside me too. Thanks for the therapy!

Knock, Knock

Anyone home??

Yes, we are. Thanks for asking!

Just busy at the moment. Either that or simply trying to function on a foggy sleep deprived brain!
Putting thoughts into words is difficult at the moment. Much less remembering a thought long enough to type it out!

Oh well. Seasons come and seasons go. And I am thoroughly enjoying this one! I’m loving being a mom of four. Am loving having another baby to love on and kiss on… even at 12am and 2am and 4am and 6am…

Will write more as time and brain function allow!