Saturday, May 30, 2015

His Presence Changes Everything

Some weeks I feel like I really just want God's arms around me, whispering to me, guiding me, showing me the blessings of even the darkest situations of life.   I need to know that I'm doing what pleases Him, what's right for my family, for myself, and the days that He's given me.

Usually, during these kind of days, I find it hard to pray.  I wake with thoughts bombarding my mind, before I even get down the hall to this room.  "What needs to be done about this?"  "Who's going to take care of such and such?" And, all kinds of thoughts that seem to be bigger than my ability to shut them down.

So I go to my Bible and my trusty stack of devotionals and I fill myself on God's word and other words inspired by those who craved his presence too.

I give thanks for all that He has done in my life - before I knew Him and after - and my heart begins to fill and my mind begins to focus and finally.....finally....I feel like there is peace and light, even in this crazy world full of floods and storms and rocky relationships.

God's presence is truly the only thing that stops the world from spinning out of control.   He is the peace that passes all understanding - whether in the storm or after - it stands after all else has fallen apart.

If you are bombarded with questions and worry and fear-laden thoughts, take a moment to open God's word.   Just breath, for 5 minutes, and take in what He's offering.   Then, go on with your day, giving thanks to the one who met you there.

Blessings, my friends.....

Until next time....

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why People Don't Belong on Pedestals

Well, I did the unthinkable last night.....I got on Facebook and mentioned my disappointment in Josh Duggar.

If you've lived at all, for one day on Facebook, then you know that posting an opinion about something public draws out the best and the worst in many.   In fact, I actually lost a "friend" over the course of all the commenting.   Oh, well.   Not the first and probably not the last.

But, since then, God has reminded me of something super important......not putting people up on pedestals.

We all do it.....

Whether Christian public figures, sports pros, entertainers.....they're all out there and we're all over here and somehow we have made them into heroes and idols and mentors and the all-important example of how we want to do things and how we should live.

It's totally our fault.

The Duggars didn't hoist themselves up onto the pedestal!  We put them there!

Likewise, the Duggars helped place their mentors up on the proverbial pedestals of Christianity and idolized them, in ways, and now several of them have fallen. 

When will we ever learn?

God has made it very plain, in his idols...and he means it!

He didn't say - as long as they are Christians, preaching purity - or if they're great at preaching - or great at basketball - or entertaining.

God said no idols - period - that's it.

So, no matter which stand you take on this whole Duggar mess, the important thing to ask yourself is why they matter so much?

Have you elevated them to a place they were never meant to occupy?

Have you followed them in ways that were unhealthy, as in, designing your family after them, even though God never asked you to?

These are legitimate questions we all need to ask, anytime we find ourselves enthralled with another human being (or group).

There is only one who deserves that place in our lives and we won't find him on a pedestal enjoying fame or fortune.

Jesus - the only one who won't let us down, when all others have fallen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review - Devotions from the Garden

Devotions from the Garden, by Miriam Drennan, is exactly what I needed when I went looking for a new devotional.

Though I am not a gardener, I do love the beauty and peacefulness of a well-tended garden and I felt like I could learn a thing or two from this book.   I have not been disappointed!

First, the pictures are amazing and I really enjoyed that it came as a hardback edition.

Each devotion is timed just perfectly, in the way that the author presents a small amount of gardening talk and then heads right into the spiritual and life application.   This is important for someone who doesn't necessarily want to read a book on gardening.   However, for those who enjoy the language, it will be a double delight!

This would make a great gift for the people in your life who enjoy the art of gardening.

**Thanks to BookLook Bloggers who graciously gave me this book in exchange for my honest review.  If you are interested in receiving books for FREE, in exchange for a review, click on the BookLook Bloggers button on the sidebar of this blog.**

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I'm so glad Amazon puts "suggested" reads down below the actual books you are searching for, because I might not have found this little gem otherwise.

I truly love reading books that cause me to highlight, underline, write in the margins, and constantly say the word "YES!" while I'm reading them.     Such is this book by Jeff Goins!

Just the title was enough to make me fall in love, but when I started reading the practical wisdom and the way Mr. Goins was echoing so many of my own thoughts, I could not turn the pages fast enough.




As he says.....if you wake up every day and can't not write, then you are a writer .......the first step is just believing it!

I come here every day because when I don't, I constantly feel like I forgot to do something.   My mind is constantly turning with stories and ideas and passion for the written word.  This concept will not be lost on those who have other passions of creativity - musicians, artists, photographers, designers - whatever creative thing that God has placed inside of you, that is the thing that you should do.

The hardest part is believing in yourself enough to step out and do your thing.

I leave you with this quote from the book......

"Believe you already are what you want to be, 
and then start acting like it!" 

Now go be who you were meant to be.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What Have You Been Putting Off?

Sometimes I stink at keeping routines and then other times, I manage to hang on to one particular thing and actually maintain for quite a while.

Using Sunday as a Planning Day is something I've managed to succeed at, for quite some time now and I'm really happy about that!

So today, as I was getting ready to fill in my Passion Planner for the week, I was frustrated by all the things from last week, that still had not been done.

Does this ever happen to you?

Truthfully, this happens to me every single week!

I have great goals and ambition each week, diligently make my lists and then by Sunday, I am having to re-write them all on the pages of next week!    Uggg!

So, before I even began to write out my goals, I decided to list them all on a sticky pad and let them sit for a moment, so I could really analyze why I have been doing "carry overs" for way too long.

*Are these tasks not as important as I first thought?

*What am I putting before these tasks that keeps moving them down the list?

*Are these things that I am continually struggling to accomplish or am I just being lazy?

Any way you slice it....I am not giving these particular tasks high priority or they wouldn't still be on the list.

Therefore, I really need to weigh each item and decide if I should scrap it altogether or if I need to give it the attention that it deserves.

First, I need to start by thinking about what I am spending my time on, since so many things on my list have been ignored.

This might be painful, if the answer is that I'm wasting time, but the truth is, it's usually the demands of the "URGENT" that are my downfall.

You've heard me complain about this kind of thing before - when you think you have your week planned and then the world starts clawing at you.   Yes, this is a big goal buster!

So, one of the strategies I can work on, is not having so many things on my list of To-Do's, and leaving a little wiggle room for those unexpected requests.

Realistically, I can spread out my tasks for a few weeks and have more margin to work with, which would actually make for a less-stressed mom, don't you think?

But, then there are those tasks that I have been deliberately avoiding!  Ooops!  Did I forget to mention that as one of the problems?

Phone calls, for of my least favorite things to do!

Then there's exercise.   (All of you yoga freaks, settle down!)  I just plain don't want to do it (and it shows)!

There is also a pile of stuff in the corner waiting to be listed on Ebay and even though I walk past that pile every day, I just can't bring myself to get busy with it.

So, ok....yes....this problem is partially my fault!

But, this is the week that every one of those things is getting checked off the list!

I've declared this week as  The Week of Getting Things Done!

All of those pesky things that have been following me from week to week, are getting done before next Sunday!

Which means I need to be diligent and focused.

Maybe I need to do some yoga afterall.

Nah...that would just be another thing on the list.

What have you been putting off that really needs to get done?

Maybe this could be your week of getting things done too!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I Write for Us Both

The Word God wastes nothing and He heals two broken hearts with one story – 

the reader and the writer.

Ann Voskamp

One of the biggest misconceptions of blogging is that I'm here to teach you something and yes, many blogs are designed to do just that.   

There are many experts who use their blogs to pass on their wisdom, whether it be in the area of finance, health, cooking, decorating, parenting or whatever it is that they write about.   But, I would bet money that each one would tell you that they are still learning and even occasionally struggling in those areas, as well.

Such is definitely true for me.

When I come here to share a story or maybe even some wisdom I've gleaned from a life experience, please know that I am a student, just as much as you are.

Most of my writing comes from areas of life where God is refining me, disciplining me or simply showing me something new.

When I struggle through emotions or hardships or life's disappointments, this is what I feel led to share, because I know that there is nothing new under the sun and if I'm struggling with something, then most likely, someone else is too.

But, that is the beauty of community.....sharing our burdens with one another and finding that person who maybe has gone one step ahead in the process, so we can take encouragement from them and know that we are not alone.

When you come here and read my words and share in my experiences, don't walk away thinking that I have "it" all together.   That would be a shame and a loss for you and for me.

No, when you come here and read from my heart, know that God is at work in me!  He is showing me where I've gone wrong, where I need improvement, where I am weak and where I am strong and how to put those things in the right perspective.

God has called me to write, because he knows that I might touch that one person who is going through something similar.

He has also called me to write because I need it too.

It's kind of like speaking your thoughts out loud to your best friend and finally hearing them from another's perspective.     Sometimes that's what it takes to work through something, to "get it" and be able to change what needs to be changed.

This is what happens when I write.

I work through what God is showing me, what He's taught me, how to apply it and hopefully grow from the experience of it.    

And, that is my desire for those who read my words.

I want you to know, as you read each post or story, that I am a work in progress, in every single area of life.

I am constantly seeking the Lord's wisdom as I teach, parent, love, work or play.   

I am never going to "arrive", but I will live my life learning and seeking His ways and I will always feel compelled to share my experience with others on this journey.

The Word God wastes nothing and He heals two broken hearts with one story –

 the reader and the writer.

Ann Voskamp

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I Was Made for Slow and Steady

This is our dog Banjo.   Banjo is meeting a turtle for the first time and thoroughly taking inventory of this new found creature.

When I look at these two, face to face, I see such contrast in how they are made.

Banjo has to be kept on a leash because as soon as his feet hit the outdoors....he's gone!  Full speed ahead, with no cares as to consequences or encounters.   He has one thing on his mind and that would be SQUIRRELS!

This guy, on the other hand, is made to take life a little slower.   He travels at a speed that seems almost counterproductive by our standards today - slow and steady.   He hasn't given in to the demands of instant gratification, such as the rest of the world.

But really, he is just doing what God created him to do....get from one place to the next, at the pace that was set before him.

I really want to be like this turtle!

This week I found myself longing for a slow and steady pace, rather than the fast pace that was set by the calendar and too many demands.   I need to fix this.

I don't want to come here each week, writing about how busy my week has been.

Although some wear busyness like a badge of honor.....I don't.   And, I don't want to.

I want to deliberately set my path at a slower pace and get there on sure feet; not chasing after squirrels and whatever else may seem enticing at the time.

I want to have plans and goals and get there by working hard and with purpose.   I don't want to stand in a whirlwind of chaos and not be able to think about what direction to go.

Yet, so many times, this is where I find myself.

I ask myself when I can actually take charge of my own life again and not feel the pull of the world's agenda.  

It needs to be.   It's how I was made.

So, once again, I set out to find a way to slow down and walk that steady path, instead of running full speed through the streets.

I truly wish the world would slow too.  

It would be nice to walk together, enjoying life, instead of passing one another on the hurried path.

Maybe one day.

"The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty."
Proverbs 21:5

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mr. Councilman, Once Again!

 When my husband David was going to college, his aspiration was to get involved in politics and just a few years into our marriage, he was able to fulfill that goal by being elected for City Council.  Over the last 21 years, off and on, he has served either as a councilman or chairman of a city committee, fighting for numerous issues at stake.

Last night he was sworn in, once again, as City Councilman of Ward 6, of our small town and I couldn't be more proud of him!

Immediately after the Mayor was sworn in, the new members joined the existing members, and they proceeded to have their first official meeting of this term.

It was an exciting time, with new items on the agenda and honestly, some old items that need to be readdressed.

I know politicians get a bad rap, but there are still those who genuinely want the very best for their communities.

More importantly, we need Christian men and women to stand up and seek these positions in office!

So, thank you, David and all other members of the council, who are giving up time and effort to make this city a better place!

We see you and we appreciate you!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Parent's Heart

One of the things I remember my mom saying to me while growing up was "Just wait till you have kids of your own!"

And, I am!

If I would have known then, what I know now, I might have been a little more considerate of my mom's feeling, her rules, and her expectations and most importantly....her heart.

Being a parent is hard.

Yes, there is great joy, but there can also be great heartache.

There are times of absolute confidence and times of complete and utter confusion.

There are moments of feeling so proud and then moments where you wonder how you missed teaching them that one thing that is so obviously missing.

In recent years I have found myself apologizing to my mom, as I'm being reminded by my own children, what selfishness looks like.

When I am feeling the pain of trouble between myself and one of my kids, I think of how much trouble I gave my own mom and how I had no clue what my actions were doing to her heart.

I suspect my kids don't either.

Yes, parenting is hard, but I think it's one of the things in life that God uses to demonstrate His love for us.

For surely, the Lord knows what it means to have his children break his heart and yet, his love for us continues without fail and remarkably, so does ours for our own.

Hang in there, weary parent.

One day they will have kids of their own and maybe then they will understand the workings of a parent's heart.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sometimes You Just Need An Adventure!

One of the great things I love about homeschooling is the ability to change plans at the last minute and still consider the day a complete success.    Today was a perfect example.

With the exception of all the days we are running here and there, we normally have a pretty consistent routine, when we happen to have a day at home.

Most of the time, Collin and I enjoy routine and we go through our days relishing the time we can actually stay out of the car and off the roads, but other days, you just feel like there's no way you can go through the monotony of doing the same ole' thing, once again.

So, when Collin came to me this morning for his daily "marching orders", I could tell he was feeling that pull to go for something different today and was I.

I've always tried to stay aware when my kids have had those kind of days before, because it can be the difference between feeling alive and feeling isolated and even depressed, to a certain extent.

Kids are just carbon copies of us, so it's important to pay attention to their moods and realize that they feel all the same emotions that grown ups feel and sometimes, they just need a change of scenery or a few hours doing something different.

So, I told Collin to grab his camera and get in the car.....we were going for a ride.

First we paid some bills in town, mailed some packages and then stopped off at Dairy Queen for some lunch.    There's something great about sitting across from your teen, just talking about this and that and not having an agenda or a schedule to dictate your time.

Then we headed up North to some farmland.  I wanted to teach Collin the beauty of just seeing things in a different light (hence, the camera I made him take along).

In other words, I wanted him to see that adventure doesn't have to mean spending money or being entertained.   Beauty and adventure can be as simple as getting in the car, driving the back roads and looking for things that are unique.

Simplicity is beauty to me and I wanted Collin to gain that knowledge today.   Kids these days rely too much on technology to fill the time and their world becomes artificial.

So today, Collin and I talked about the types of land and houses we like, what kind of photography we enjoy and how gates and fences can be interesting subjects, when you think about the history behind them.

We talked about his future and the type of job he would like to have one day.  I had plenty of time to share details about jobs that I've had in my younger years and how those jobs would translate into today's culture.

We had a chance to talk about roads and directions (yes, these things are important to a teen on the verge of driving!) and which one of his friends lived in the area we were exploring.

We topped off our adventure with a stop at Walmart for some office supplies and Collin even learned a thing or two about items you could find on the shelves there.  How the enormity of choices at Walmart has slipped past him all these years, I'll never know, but is education!

Then, just as we were bringing our little field trip to an end, we pulled into the drive and saw a rabbit and a redbird in the horse pasture.   Of course, we stopped to get one last picture of these simple objects and call it a day.

As we pulled into the drive and turned off the ignition, I asked him if he felt refreshed and glad to be home and he agreed that our little adventure had been well worth taking the day off.

And, that, my friends, is what I call a successful day of homeschooling.

Remember....LIFE is the greatest teacher of all.