Friday, May 27, 2016

The White Front Porch: Re-Introduction

Today I wanted to take a minute to re-introduce you to our farmhouse story - The White Front Porch.

If you haven't read the story of our old farmhouse, grab a cup of something and take a few minutes to go down that dirt road with me.

Our house is still a work in progress, but we're getting there!

There are rooms that still need trim and trim that still needs paint, but we are working and living life and so sometimes these things take a while and that's ok.

At the top of the page is the story about how The White Front Porch came to be and on the right sidebar of the blog, under the topic The White Front Porch is where you can find more current happenings around the house.   (I recommend starting at the top and working your way to the current posts.)

We have declared 2016 the year of getting done, but I'll admit, it's going slow around here!

Like I said, life still has to happen and sometimes that means putting the paint brush down and picking up your family, friends, job or whatever else is calling for your attention.    Afterall, what's the good of having a great house, but no one to share it with?

So, if you're looking to "simplify" or buy some land and a farmhouse of your own, just take it from's a lot of work, worth it, but don't neglect the ones that really matter.

You still need to build relationships, help your friends and family and sit on the couch and watch your stories now and then.

Life must go on!

I hope you enjoy the story of our home!  And, if you are working on a project of your own, leave me a link to your blog and I'll gladly come by for a visit!

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Parting with Old Favorites and 19 Years Worth of Books

Well, I finally did it!  After homeschooling for 19 years, I finally cleaned off my shelves and am parting with things I never thought I would part with.   (Well, I knew the time would come eventually, but I was trying not to think about it.)

But, it's time.

Time to part with all of those PARENTING BOOKS I used to devour, in hopes of finding those little pieces of wisdom that would transform my parenting.

Time to pass on the OLD SCHOOLHOUSE MAGAZINES to the upcoming homeschooling moms who are just starting their journey.

Time to let go of all the BOOKS and DVD'S and TOOLS that are no longer a part of what we do.

Yes, it's time to face reality.......

I have a SENIOR and this will be my LAST YEAR of  HOMESCHOOLING!

Some said I couldn't do it.  But I did.

Some said I would ruin my kid's lives.   Have you met my kids?  They're going to be just fine!

Some said they wouldn't know how to stand in line or sit in church.  Well, ok, they probably don't know how to sit in church.  They're always standing ......on stage.....with a guitar in their hands.  Big dummies.

Some said they would miss out on "life" and socialization.  Sorry, but again.....have you met my kids?

Anyhoo, like I said, it's time to part with some old favorites that have been sitting on my shelves, literally for 19 years!   That's a long time to keep books and lots of packing and unpacking over the years!

Usually, in any other year in May,  I would be eagerly waiting for UPS to bring my next box of curriculum and I would be tearing it open like it was Christmas.

But, not this year.

Once I cleared the shelves of all that we would no longer need, I was left with two subjects - Math and Science.   That's it.

Do I have decisions to make?  Yes I do.  But, I'm going to be thinking long and hard about what's important for our last year.

It's not easy.  There are so many things I want him to know before he grows up and takes flight. (Not that he's going anywhere too soon!)  I don't want to waste his last year on trivial knowledge and leave him ill-equipped in true skills that will take him farther than any dangling participle will.

The truth is, Collin is a learner.  He's a student of his own making.  He loves to learn things - albeit random things - but hey - he's taught me things that I never learned in school, so I consider that to be something worth praising.

When I think back to my highschool days, I would say the most memorable classes I had were VOE (Vocational Office Education) and DECA (which I've totally forgot what that stood for) because they taught me actual skills that I would go on to use in real life.

In those business classes, I learned how to use a check book, how economics worked, how to write a resume and a business letter and how to be successful in a job interview.   I learned the value of customer service as I went to school half the day and worked the other half.   It was real life training and it left a bigger impact on me than filling in little bubbles on the next test.

I remember Homemaking and all the cooking and eating and hospitality training we had.  Now THAT was a class worth having!

But you wasn't until I started teaching my own kids, that I truly found History interesting.  No, I didn't require my boys to memorize boring dates, names and facts.  Instead, we watched Drive Thur History and read together every morning.  The books we read made the historical events come to life and the stories seemed more like adventure novels.    Let me tell you, that sure beat the boring coach who taught straight out of the textbook, during his off months from sports!  UGGG.

So, when trying to decide what's worthy of our last year of school, I will be searching for those courses that are life changing.  Those courses that will equip Collin to go out and be successful  - as a young adult.

Afterall, if he can quote Shakespeare, but can't look the man in the eye, that might offer him a job, then I've failed him as a teacher.

I can't send him off into the world and expect him to survive on classroom knowledge.

Because no amount of dangling participles or prepositional phrases are going to help him when he's ready to make a paycheck or start his own business.

He's going to need skills and most likely, they won't involve a #2 pencil and little ovals!'s to all the homeschool moms on their last year!  Pick wisely, choose carefully and is so much bigger than any textbook!

And, most of all.....enjoy your time because this time next year, we will be buying caps and gowns and crying our eyes out!

Until next time.....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Welcome Her With Love

My granddaughter Emmalyn and her mommy, Alex, my daughter-in-love

Coming into a new family can be intimidating.  In your heart you're marrying the person you love, but in reality, you're getting a group of people that you have to learn to love.

On the opposite side of that, parents are letting go and welcoming the new, all at the same time, and that can be a learning thing too.

Everyone is faced with having to discover who the other person is, one visit at a time.

People are complex and getting to know someone takes patience and love and not running over someone with your own selfishness.

Welcoming someone into your family means moving over and letting them find their place at the table.  

It means allowing them the freedom to be themselves and you discovering all the ways that you can appreciate them.

It means being gracious enough to step in when needed and out when independence is called for.

It means not thinking that your ways are the only right ones, but being willing to learn from them and all they have to offer.

Welcoming someone into your family means you value them for who they are to your child and for who they are as God's child.

Having had only boys in my home, I was so excited to finally have Alex come along in Ted's life.

I told her from the beginning that I would never try to take her mother's place; but that I would be here for anything she ever needed.

You see, I loved her from the beginning.

When you watch your son's eyes light up at the mention of their first meeting and you know that this girl is different, your love begins to form, right then.

Sure, you may still guard your heart a little, but then you begin to see the love they have and your love grows for this new girl that has captured your son's heart.

That's how it starts.

Then, slowly you get to know her heart and you discover why your son loves her.

And, you begin to love her too.

But, there's a catch to this mother-in-law thing.

You can't just love because your son does.
You can't just love because you have no choice.
You can't just love to make the holidays bearable.
You can't just love because she gives you grandkids.

You love because she is worth loving and she is valuable and she is your daughter, by marriage.

You love because she has the potential to be one of the biggest blessings in your life.....if you let her.

You love because God has brought this person into your life to be a part of your family and that should excite you and bless you.

You love because she has ideas and traditions and talents that can add something new to your life.

You love because she has chosen your son, out of so many, to love and care for, and that should make you happy.

I realize that not every situation is going to be easy.  It's a learning process.  But, like any new friendship, any new relationship worth pursuing, she is worth it.

Invest time in her, but know your boundaries.
Invest love in her, but don't smother.
Invest wisdom, but leave room for her to share her's as well.
Invest advice, but without condemnation of her ways.
Invest trust in her, that she can care for your son.
Invest in her, without requiring her to be like you.

There's a reason someone coined the phrase Mother-in-Love; replacing the old Mother-in-Law.

One sounds like you have no choice, the other sounds like you've embraced it for all it's worth.

**As the wedding season approaches, I wish every new Mother-in-Love and every new Daughter-in-Love, the very best.  I wish for easy transitions, cozy conversations and mutual respect.  And, most of all, I wish for you to become someone special in the other person's life. **

Until Next Time......

I'm linking this post up with Holley at Coffee for Your Heart

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The God of Second Chances

Have you ever wished for someone to get what you thought they deserved?

Maybe you've wished for a bully to finally get that punch in the nose that he (or she) deserved.  Or maybe that guy that pulled out in front of you needs a big fat ticket.  Or maybe that contractor that did a crummy job and still took your hard earned money, needs to be known around town as a shoddy worker.

And, maybe you wish you could be the one to handle the righteous punishment they all deserve.

But, what if the Lord called you to do the opposite in all of these situations?

What if you heard God telling you to extend grace and mercy to one of these?

Would you?  Could you?

Or would you run like Jonah did and try to hide from God?

This morning, as I read through the book of Jonah, I began to see that basically Jonah was throwing a fit because he wanted God to punish Nineveh, instead of extending mercy and grace, like he did.

Jonah had such disdain for the acts of Nineveh's people, that he would rather run and hide from God, than go and preach repentance to them.   Jonah knew that God would show more compassion than the people of Nineveh deserved.

"I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, 
slow to anger and abounding in love,
 a God who relents from sending calamity."  (Jonah 4:2)

Instead of being pleased that the people of Nineveh repented and turned back to God, Jonah felt slighted and I'm speculating - prideful and foolish.

He, himself, had been punished for running from the Lord, but now he was watching God have compassion on an evil bunch of people.   How was that fair?

So, he did what many of us would have done.......he plopped himself down in the shade and pouted about how they didn't get what they deserved. 

And, once again, God had to teach Jonah a lesson about obedience.

In a nutshell, God provided a vine to shade Jonah during his fit throwing, but the next day, God also provided a worm to destroy the vine.   He was trying to make the point to Jonah that though he was angry about the vine, it was God who provided it and Jonah had no say in it's welfare, because he neither created it, nor destroyed it.   It all came from the Lord.

Jonah had no care for the Ninevites because he didn't create them, but God did and God desired to extend mercy and grace, and accept their repentance as a new beginning.

Our God is the God of second chances!

The lesson being that, though we see with human eyes, the destructive acts of others; maybe even their evil ways and disobedient hearts, God sees the potential.

God sees what could be and God sees what will become of those who turn toward him.

You may not want to see the potential in someone who has hurt you or caused you grief.

You may still want to see them get what they deserve.

But, the truth is, God created that person, just like he created you and me and we don't know what His plans are for their lives or how far down he needs to take them, in order for them to turn toward him.

All we can do is act out of obedience and watch as the Lord works out his will in their lives.

And, you never know what part you'll play in their second chance.

Wouldn't you hate to miss it, because you were in the shade, throwing a fit?

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

It's Soft Food for Me This Week!

 This week has been a challenge in the food department, considering I am now the proud owner of braces on my top teeth.   Yes, I am 50 years old and wearing braces (soon to be on the bottom teeth too).

Fearing that I would be the "old lady" going back to the orthodontist's office for a broken bracket the first week, I've been choosing my meals very carefully.

The first day I had a milkshake (because I could) and some soft french fries.  The second day I sipped on a homemade smoothie all morning and made a big pot of tortilla soup for the rest of the day.

The third day I got brave and had toast, cut up into squares like the kids used to have.  That evening I was feeling daring and made a fall-apart-pot roast and dreamy, creamy mashed potatoes with about a stick of butter, because that's how we roll around here.

I was having a craving for something sweet, but knew it had to be something soft, so I made these amazing sugar cookies, right off the back of the sugar bag.

I didn't cook them to brown-edge-crispy like I like them, but instead, got them perfectly to the cooked, but still soft point and set them on the counter to cool.

Not only did they hit the sweet spot, but they made a great breakfast treat to go along with my morning coffee.

Awww.....this "braces at 50" might not be so bad after all.

Now I'm off to see what I can sink my teeth into today!

Until Next Time......

Friday, May 20, 2016

I'm So Glad I Went Back

It's funny how memories hit you in waves and sometimes harder than the time before.

For at least a year or so after my dad passed away, I couldn't bring myself to travel to Corpus.  We had made so many trips down there, while he was sick, that it just seemed too painful to relive all of that again.

Then one day, I decided to go and it wasn't as bad as I anticipated it would be.   Even going back to his home, which has so many memories for me, was bearable and I enjoyed the memories that came to mind while I was there.

But, on our trip to the valley last week and then back up to Sinton, where my dad and stepmom lived, I was having a hard time.

Everywhere I looked, I saw my dad in my mind's eye.

For some reason, on this trip, things that I shared with my dad while he and I were driving around town, kept coming to mind and a flood of memories took over that day.

Like the crops.

Cotton and corn and wheat.

I remember as a young girl, dad and I went everywhere on those small town roads.  Of course, I asked so many questions, as kids do, and he answered them all, over and over again.

"What's in that truck, daddy?"  "That's cotton."

"What are those balls for on that wire up there?"  "Those are for the airplanes; so they can see the wires."

"What's that big tower for?"  "That's a radio tower."

Then he would tell me about tornadoes and how to get in the ditch if I ever saw one coming.  And, he would point out the combines that were in the fields.

He taught me about the different breeds of cattle as we would drive down the road and see the cattle in the pastures.

He taught me how to move irrigation pipes, to water the pastures and filled my mind with stories of how he and his brothers "borrowed" watermelon and corn from the nearby neighbors when they were teens.

Then, on the way back down Hill Road, my dad would let me sit on his lap, take the steering wheel and drive until I got scared.  I would go a little bit down the road with my hands on the wheel, then all of a sudden, I would scream and say "Take the wheel, daddy, take the wheel!"   And, he would laugh and laugh and take the wheel and we would go on down the road together.

It was our thing and I never got tired of it and neither did he.

I heard our pastor say recently, that your loved ones are never really gone, as long as you have the memories of the time you spent with them.

I think he was right, because driving down those roads last week, I felt the presence of my dad in every field, every combine and tractor, every cow in the pastures and driving down Hill Road.

And this time, I'm so glad I went back.

Until Next Time......

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Little Traveling and A Lot of Stuff!

 Collin and Gabe coming down from their parasailing flight.

We have been around the world lately, or at least it feels like it.  But, if you know anything about Texas, then you know that going from the most Southeast tip down to the Southern most tip, is just about the same amount of miles (and I'm only halfway joking)!

Well, ok, slight exaggeration, but a long drive, nonetheless.

 Gulf of Mexico at South Padre Island

We have been on a trip, for sure, and it was such a great one!  I finally made it down to see one of my dearest friends, Jessica, and her husband Gabe.

 Gabe, Jessica, me, David

We had the best weekend and I'm pretty sure we did nothing but eat, talk and eat some more, but it was perfect!

Of course, since Collin was with us, we had to give him a little excitement, so Gabe went parasailing with him.   They had a blast and it was an adventure to mark off Collin's bucket list.

There's nothing like catching up with old friends over authentic Mexican tacos and Mexican coke, sitting out on a patio late in the evening.    Just the feel of night air, delicious food and old friends finally reunited, is something to be treasured and I will, for years to come.

We eventually had to say goodbye to our friends and head North to the little town of Sinton, where we had to pick up some appliances for Ted and Alex, given to them by my sisters, and haul them back to Beaumont.

This is about our third trip down to Sinton in the last five months and two of those trips involved a Uhaul.  I can honestly say, I'm done with loading and hauling and moving!

Of course, the real fun doesn't start until you get to Houston, pulling a trailer.  

Houston.......what can I're the gulf between us and the rest of the world (another exaggeration).  

Don't romanticize Houston!  It's crowded and no matter what time you drive through, you will get stuck in traffic.

The unfortunate truth is, that to get to any of my family, or any town West of Houston, you must risk your life on the highways and byways of the maze they call Houston.    You can weave, speed, drive slow, take the toll road, whatever......and you can still count on being on the highway for a good hour.

But, I'm over it.....for now.  Houston, don't call me, I'll call you, when and only when it's most necessary to drive through you again.   Bye bye.

So......the rest of the week has been spent moving Ted and Alex to their new home, setting up appliances, unpacking boxes and of course, holding and playing with our sweet Emmy.

This is their last move for a good, long while, but now it's just a matter of setting up home, getting utilities turned on and making it feel like theirs.

If there is one thing I've been observing lately, it's the fact that we all have so much stuff.

When we picked up the appliances from my dad's house, I was overwhelmed with all the stuff that was left behind after he and now, my step mom Ruby, have passed away.

You collect a lifetime of things and then when you're gone, your family is left to figure out what's important enough to keep and what's dispensable.

It's truly made me want to come home and start getting rid of stuff.  

I know that minimizing is all the rage right now, but seriously, it's needed!

Why collect stuff, just so someone else has to go through it one day and decide if it was really worth the money and space you spent on it?

I just don't want to leave that burden to my kids, of having to navigate a lifetime of my junk, when I'm gone.

But, those are just my thoughts after a long weekend of moving and hauling and unpacking.

I think I'll start simplifying our home today, starting with my own stuff and gradually getting my men on board.

Now, how did this fun post turn gloomy?

Oh, well!

Have a great day and here's to simplifying your life - while you're still able!  Cheers!

Until Next Time......

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Free Guide to Reading God's Word

Have you ever read through the entire Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter?  Doesn't that sound like a huge task?

Several times over the years, I've started out in my handy dandy One Year Bible and read as far as I could go before getting bogged down in Numbers or some lineage passage and I would toss the whole schedule out the window.   Or, I would miss a few days and get behind and never find the time to catch up, much less, stay on track, so I would toss the whole thing out the window.

But, I am pretty sure that, at one time or another, I have laid eyes on most parts of the Bible, through various sermons or Bible studies, but I've never kept track, so I have no way to prove it......until now!

I came across this great READING PLAN over at Women Living Well, home of Courtney and the Good Morning Girls Bible Studies.

This is a book by book, chapter by chapter, check off list that you can download and print for FREE.

I'm so excited about this list because it's easily laid out by books and chapters, but with no dates.

I can use it in various ways, such as moving through the Bible in order, checking off as I go, or I can keep record of different chapters I'm reading while doing other Bible studies, using various scriptures.

This is a great resource for those of you who like structure but not schedules (yes, there is a difference).

With this reading plan, you are free to roam or follow in line, but you can do so at your own pace.

Either way, click HERE to print your own copy and get started.

And, though this sounds like just a post about how to read your Bible, let me encourage you with this: reading God's word is not just something you set out to do; it's something you will begin to crave, once you have a true relationship with Christ.

So, don't misunderstand the nature of this post, because God's word is like living water to those who are thirsty.

And, if you find yourself parched and thirsty and not even sure how to quench your thirst - start reading and discovering for yourself, the richness of these chapters and verses.

The reading of His word will never be in vain and you just never know when you will need these very words to get you through the day.

Happy reading :)

"For the word of God is living and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

Friday, May 13, 2016

Do Your Brain a Favor

As I may have mentioned before (this is a gross understatement), I love to read.

I read every day, whether it's my Bible in the mornings or a fiction book at lunch or some kind of "self-help" book at various times throughout the week.  Add blogs** to that list and I'm pretty much reading something most hours of the day.

I guess I like to learn and I certainly love to explore different ideas or creative ways that other people live their lives.

However, there is a down side to constantly downloading data into your brain - in fact - several aspects that can be more on the "con" side, than the "pro" side to reading daily.

It's the fact that you can get so caught up in what other people say - such as "how to do life" - that you forget the good old fashioned simplicity of just using common sense or remembering how your grandma did it!

So, when I came across these books recently, I grabbed them up (even bought one for a 17 year old, who was having a birthday and inscribed it with the words....."Because vintage is cool!") because I never want to forget the simplicity of the old days.

Seriously, sometimes I look at my desk, with all of my various journals and Bible study guides or I glance up at my bookshelf, and just ask myself why I care what all of these books have to say.

Yes, I honor these people as writers and even give them the credit for being inspired by God, and commissioned to share their message with all the rest of us.

But, do I really need to require all of their knowledge, of myself?

Do I really need to learn how to cook 5000 crockpot meals before next week?

Do I really need to learn how to throw the perfect party, complete with sparkle lights, homemade favors and gourmet food?

Must my table look like it was straight out of Southern Living?

 Why do I require such things of myself, when the truth is, back in the day, they basically had Hints from Heloise and Dear Abby and that was it!   Oh, and Erma Bombeck for laughs.

You see, I'm a writer.   But, would I want to know that you were stressing yourself out, trying to emulate my life or put into practice everything I do in my home or everything I write about on this blog?   Not at all!

My desire, as a writer, is to inspire you to be the best YOU that you can be and though I may come up with a good tip every now and then and though I may be impressed to share my Bible study glimpses with you on occasion, the best YOU comes from using what the Lord already gave you!

Sometimes I wonder what my days would look like if I scooped up every single book on my shelf, that was meant to teach me something, and boxed them all up for good.  

Of course I would keep my Hints from Heloise and these simple ones shown here, just in case.

I mean, you never know when you're going to need instructions on how to wash dishes or sew on a button.  But, the good thing is, your brain won't be all "googled" out when you get done with your research because Grandma (and Heloise) knew that it really only took one or two hints to do life and do it well.

I think we should go back to the simple days, don't you?

Grab an old book and read about the old days and how they did things or just bask in the beauty of your own common sense and your own wisdom.

Your days will be peaceful and your brain will thank you :)

**Extra note about blogs - I have recently unsubscribed from many of the blogs I used to follow for household advice or even spiritual advice.  They would sometimes cause me to become anxious over the huge amounts of content and "How to's" and I would walk away feeling like either a failure or like I desperately needed to get to work on improving in some area!   I'm sure that wasn't their intention, but it's just the nature of constant output and giving advice, even if it's just about the simplest of life's scenarios.   So, do yourself a favor and narrow down your choices.  You can always resubscribe later, if you really miss them or need to reconnect for some reason.

Otherwise, simplify your data input.

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, May 12, 2016

When The Lord Disciplines

Have you ever been disciplined by the Lord? 

 I'm not talking fire raining down on your head or being made to walk in the desert for forty years.  But, I'm talking about God allowing a circumstance to come into your life, in order to reveal something about yourself that needs to be changed.

It can sting a little.

And you can even miss what God's trying to tell you, if you aren't willing to admit that it's you that is being disciplined.

Sometimes the circumstances may come about by someone else's actions.  Maybe you didn't react in the best way.  Maybe their actions caused you to sin by lashing out in anger.   But, even though your anger may be justified, your actions or reactions didn't line up with what you know to be a godly response.

So, you begin to feel the conviction and if you listen real closely, you will hear the whisper of God telling you that you need to change your ways.

This is hard to take sometimes.

You want to accuse and give reasons why the other person caused this, but the Lord is dealing with YOU right then and his concern is cleansing YOU of things that need to be dealt with.

I think an example we can all relate to is when we are disciplining our children and even as the words are coming out of our mouths, we are simultaneously feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit as he gently says "Hey, you do that thing too."    We realize at that moment that we need work in that same area and that, just as we see the need to discipline our children for their own sake, the Lord needs to discipline us, for the same reason.

His desire is to see us grow.   The Lord has no hidden agenda, but only desires to see us walk closer to him and glorify him as we go through this life.

So, the real issue is what you're going to do with the revelation that you need to change your ways.

Will you admit you have ways that need to be changed?  Or will you dig your heels in and hold fast to blaming others?

Will you humble yourself and ask God to help you work on these things that, if you were truly honest, you already knew were causing you trouble?

You see, the real freedom will only come when you start admitting that you are not above needing to be disciplined.    Only when you soften your heart, let go of your pride, will you be open to the transformation that God desires to see in you.

Until then, you will remain foolish and basically a child in your ways.

"Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, 
so the Lord your God disciplines you."
Deuteronomy 8:5