Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A "Peaceful" house!+Mail
(I hope you will take the time to read what Rhonda has written so eloquently. My post will make much more sense if you do!)

I received this post in my email inbox this morning. Let me assure you, it was just what I needed to hear!! Isn't it amazing how God does that? I've been working so hard at getting my house in "perfect" working order that I've lost sight of many things in the past few weeks. Now don't get me wrong, God appreciates that I want to be organized and clean, but NOT if it interferes with my time with Him or my children (which He has entrusted to me). This post was almost a relief to read! I just needed someone to remind me that "perfect" isn't what God wants. He wants our BEST, but that doesn't always mean "perfect." God is a gracious, loving & forgiving God. But, if we continually put Him on the back-burner to get our life in order, we will lose sight of what's important VERY quickly!!
Our life has been very hectic & crazy these past few weeks. Let me explain briefly (as briefly as I can anyway...). At Thanksgiving I made some fudge for our family gathering. Everyone commented on how good it was (which shocked me, cause it was my first time making it & fudge can be finicky). Some even told me I should sell it. I just laughed and kept going. Then, I took some to our small group get together & they said the same thing. That's when I thought, maybe God is trying to tell me something. You see, I have been praying for a LONG time that God would show me something I could do at home to bring in some extra money. So, I started spreading the word by mouth. My mom got orders from work & some family friends ordered. All in all, I got about 30 orders in a matter of 2 weeks time! I was thrilled!!! Then, life happened! Just when I had planned out when I would make each batch & fill the orders - LIFE HAPPENED!! My grandparents (who have been in relatively good health) were both given stress tests & arteriograms (within a week of each other). THEN, my mom was admitted into the hospital with left arm pain and severe nausea. They did a stress test on her (I've never in my life known of so many people getting stress tests!), but thankfully nothing was found so she was released the next day. BUT, those activities took a toll on my housekeeping, chores, organizing (which was my main goal this month), candy-making schedule and overall family time. I was NOT at peace when I came home. My house was in a complete disarray and I felt like my life was spinning out of control - because I couldn't get done what I thought needed to be done. These past few days my husband and I have both been ill. (Not fun with 3 young kids in the house.) I realized that maybe I wasn't getting things done because I needed to rest in God and I wasn't. So this post really hit home for me this morning. I realized that I'm not called to be the "perfect mom" or the "perfect wife" or even the "perfect housekeeper." I'm called to be a Mom and wife, but I'm also called to REST in Him - daily!!!!

So, today (and everyday from now on) I'm going to ask for God to "give [me] His perfect peace, regardless of what the day holds because whatever He has in store for [me] is His perfect plan and if [I] rest in that~[I] will have a peace that passes all understanding."

Friday, December 3, 2010

A homemaking revelation

7am - get up, shower, get dressed
7:30a - kids up & in your face ready for FOOD!
8am - baby up & ready to be fed
8:15a - kids running around releasing ALL the energy they built up overnight
8:30a - diaper changes, get kids cleaned up & dressed
8:40a - chase child around to get a diaper on them & clothes too!!
8:45a - caught child & restrained to get diaper & clothes on
9a - watch Sesame Street (this is a daily ritual with a baby & toddler - and a lifesaver too)
9:15a - get first load of laundry in, check emails, facebook, etc.
9:45a - move wash to dryer & start another wash
10a - lay babies down for morning naps
10:15a - try to start school work
10:16a - realize the house needs cleaning first or someone may die from falling over toys
10:45a - oldest son asks for lunch! (Already?? You JUST ate!)
11a - feed baby
11:15a - start lunch & get toddler up from nap
11:30a - diaper changes & clean up from lunch
Noon - Mom's lunch (sometimes...)

And on and on!! Does this look like your day? This is most often what my day looks like. Add in a few more diaper changes, unexpected clean-ups, chasing kids in circles, play time with kiddos and you've got the picture! The afternoon isn't much calmer either! In fact, in some ways its busier!! I couldn't do it without a schedule!! A few posts ago I shared with you some of the schedules I use. Well, I must confess...I don't always get my planning done. And when I don't - WATCH OUT!!!! It's a crazy day! I feel like I can't see straight and I get completely overwhelmed with life. I end up frustrated and worn out. So, today my revelation was this. Try to plan 2 weeks out this time and then each week plan for 2 weeks from then. Did that confuse anyone else? Okay, so today I will plan meals for this week & next. Then, next Wed (the goal day of planning) I will plan for 2 weeks from then. That way I am always ahead by 1 week!! Then, if life gets crazy (as it did this week w/ family emergencies) I still have a plan and I won't be so overwhelmed! Sounds easy enough, right? Well, I'm pretty sure the hard part is putting it into practice!! I did have 6 weeks of school planned, so I am good there, but its the other little things of life that creep in and bog you down.

Matthew 6:25 - “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?"

If we plan ahead, we will not be consumed with worry!! Oh how nice that would be! I know this verse tends to speak to those worrying about "BIG" things, but God is concerned with even the trivial things in our life. He cares so much for us and wants us to rest in Him completely - daily.Life is busy enough without having to worry about what to eat for lunch & then stressing over dinner. Moral of the story: PLAN - PLAN - PLAN!!! If you plan ahead, you will be more able to make room for those unexpected things in life!

Happy Planning!!!

FREE homeschool planner...

This is a GREAT deal!!!!! All my homeschooling friends (soon-to-be & current) should check this out!!! This is a very neat and informative site too. Check it out!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Enter to win this scarf

You could win this beautiful, handmade scarf. Visit the link below and find out how!!!! But, you'll have to enter several times to beat me!!! ;) Who doesn't love a new scarf in the winter?! Plus, all you OU fans can wear it proudly (esp. after this weekend)!!!! Good luck and BOOMER SOONER!!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I should know this by now

You would think at my age I would know by now. You would think that I would quit questioning and just believe. But, still I waiver - it may be slight or for just a split second, but I waiver. I waiver in my faith. I waiver in my ability to completely trust Him for everything!! At times it comes easy, but on the tough things I can waiver at a moments notice. I HATE THAT!!! I want to be completely SOLD OUT 100% HIS!!! So, why is it so hard? Why can't I just trust the track record I have come to know as perfect? I'm human. That's the only answer I have. And, that just doesn't sit right with me. So, tomorrow I will try again. And the next day I will try again. I will keep trying every day of my life - I will not give up!! God is not only good, but He is GREAT!! He is all-powerful, all-knowing and I can't imagine my life without Him.

So, what brought this revelation on? Well, I have to be honest I was stressed to the max and I couldn't see my way out. Since August I have been babysitting a 4-yr old boy. At first it was good and I would homeschool him on Mondays/Fridays along with my son. The other 3 days I would take him & pick him up from preschool. It was exhausting trying to keep up with it all and make it work in our family. We didn't have the freedom we once knew in our daily schedule. We couldn't just pick up and go when and where we wanted. We were tied down. Then, there's the ever increasing issues between my son and the other boy. These past 2 weeks they have been unbearable when the two of them were together. The only words I used all day were "don't, quit, stop, leave him alone!" It was taxing to say the least. By dinner time I was completely spent and ready to just retreat into solitude for the rest of the night. It was wearing on me and it was showing. So, I began to pray about it. I didn't know what the answer would be, but I knew there would be one. Either God would help me see how to change their behaviors towards each other or He would give us a way out.

On Monday, yesterday, it became absolutely clear that I was not going to able to watch this boy anymore. The dynamics were not meshing anymore and it was getting out of control. There are many issues, but the most dominate being he is an only child of a split family. So, when he was over here he would push Tyler's buttons - ALL OF THEM!!! Monday it was at its all-time worst!! I knew it was no longer beneficial for my son to have this going on in our house. We needed out. But how? I have spent the past year building the relationship between us and his mom and I didn't want that to be wasted. I wanted to maintain a good relationship and one that we could continue growing. But how could I do that when I needed to tell her I could no longer watch her son? When she asked why, what would I say? I was in turmoil all day of it and even sick to my stomach. I didn't want to do it, but I knew I had to. When the doorbell rang I knew I had run out of time. No more stalling, no more waiting. The time was now. I needed to tell her that after Christmas I was no longer going to be able to watch her son. Before I could start my end of the conversation, she began to talk. She told me that she had just gotten a call from the "Y" and her son (who had been wait-listed since August) was now in. And, he starts tomorrow!!

Can you believe it??? I was worried all day and it was taken care of - completely!! No need to say anything that might ruin the relationship we had built. No need to say anything at all!! God is so good!! No, God is GREAT!!!! I was worried for nothing. After all, I should know this by now!

FREE Winter & Christmas worksheets & MORE!!!

I came across this site when I was looking for Thanksgiving worksheets, crafts & such. It has a LOT of great worksheets for younger kids. I also found some very cute & inexpensive crafts!! YAY!!! So, I looked around the site & found they have some great winter & Christmas stuff too. And the best's FREE!!!!! Just click on what you want and print! I believe you can even save some of them to your computer for future use. Now that's a find!

The BEST reward

Many of you may know that we homeschool our 5-yr old in his first year of Kindergarten. I say "we" very loosely though! It is mostly ME!! I get the lesson plans ready, I do the prep work for the daily assignments, I teach him daily - all while managing the house & 2 young kiddos. It's not easy by any means, but ABSOLUTELY the most rewarding thing I can think of this side of heaven!!
As I did more and more research about teaching Kindergarten, I realized that my son already knew most of what was taught (recognizing the alphabet, recognizing & counting to 100, sight words) and MORE! I thought, "he is going to be BORED out of his mind if I continue to do all this for another entire year!" So, I set out to find other things for him to do. I researched first grade checklists and read other homeschool blogs and information. I also talked to several homeschool moms that helped guide me in the right direction. After much discussion with my husband, friends and my research I realized that he might be ready to start reading. Wait...did I say READING???? AHHHHH!!!! A flood of emotions immediately filled my head and heart. "What if I couldn't teach him to read? He would be illiterate his entire life and would fail at getting a job or raising his own family!" Okay, I admit, I can get a little carried away sometimes...but seriously this was probably THE MOST scary part of homeschooling to me! What if he wasn't ready? What if I really couldn't teach him to read? How were we going to overcome that?
That's when the prayers started flowing daily. "Lord, help me to be a better teacher and mom today than I was yesterday. Help me to be patient with Tyler as we learn to read together. Help me see how to make it connect for him. Show me how best to teach him so he can learn ALL You have for him!" Some days were simply, "Lord, help me survive!" But, in any case I learned how important it was/is to pray for my child and how I teach them. It is paramount. It is ESSENTIAL!!
At the beginning of the year we tried a phonics book, that really looked like it worked more on his handwriting skills than phonics or reading. Frankly, he became bored very quickly & was finished with the book in 2 weeks time! That's when I decided it was time for something a little more advanced. Something that challenged him more. So, I went to worksheets I could print free from the internet. I found several great websites that had a variety of activities/worksheets to help teach clusters, long vowels, short vowels and more! So that's what we did. I would choose a cluster or long/short vowel for the week and just print off worksheets that taught them. He would do a couple a day and have a quiz on Fridays. This worked for a while, but he quickly informed me (almost daily) that he hated worksheets. And it became like pulling teeth to get him to do them. So, I set out on another mission. How can I practically show him how these worksheets/lessons will help him learn to read? Then, like a slamming door - it hit me!! LET HIM READ!!! So, we started in with our A Beka readers. He quickly realized that he really could read! He became excited and so did I!!! We had finally found what worked! He just needed to see the practical application of it all.
This week he will finish his second A Beka reader and I couldn't be more proud!! Yes, I know some kids read earlier and some read faster. But, for me...just hearing him read by himself is the BEST REWARD a mom could ever get!!!!

After feeling this GREAT, OVERWHELMING satisfaction in my sons ability to learn despite my inadequacies, I soon realized this is how our loving, heavenly Father must feel when we "get it." Sometimes the lessons we are learning in life seem so tedious and trivial, but there is always a reason! A reason we may not know very soon, but a reason nonetheless. God is always teaching us through life experiences and this one hit me hard. How many times have I rebelled against what I know to be right? How many times have I run away from something simply because it was difficult and I couldn't, in my finite mind, see the practical application or use of it in my life (at this point)? WOW!!! I am so thankful God is a loving, compassionate, PATIENT Father!! I hope that someday God will look at me with pride just as I look at my son when he's reading by himself. Big words or small - it doesn't matter! He persevered and he won! That's how I want God to see me. I want Him to be proud of me in EVERYTHING I do, say and in all that I am. I want to be my best for Him - always!

DISCLAIMER: When your child finally learns to read - be forewarned that they will read EVERYTHING!!!! And I mean EVERYTHING!! He reads every sign he can as we drive down the road. It's a constant school lesson in our car! Most of the time I don't mind, but I must admit as sweet as it is to hear my first-born son reading, I often wish he wouldn't! ;)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Educational Freebie: Thanksgiving File Folder Games Lapbook

Knowledge Box is offering a free Thanksgiving File Folder Games Lapbook to download.

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for this tip!!!! I LOVE file folder games!! They are FUN and occupy my kiddos! It's a WIN-WIN!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making a busy house flow...

When running errands during the day with my kids in tow, I often hear comments like, "Youmust have your hands full!" or "How do you get anything done?" or, my personal favorite "WOW! You must be exhausted at the end of the day!" Really all three of these are true! But, I wouldn't change it for the WORLD!!!! And, I absolutely mean that! Now, don't get me wrong, there are days that I literally want to pull my hair out or that I go outside and scream just a little to get it out, but I can't imagine working all day long and missing these precious moments in my children's lives! I am truly blessed to be able to stay at home and see these steps and strides they are taking in their development and in their education! What an honor!!!

But, seriously - it can be difficult getting things done around the house. After my 3rd was born, there were many days I was just completely overwhelmed! I didn't know which way was up and if I was coming or going!! It took me a lot longer to get into a routine with her than it did when I had my second child. But, now that I've found what works - IT'S GREAT!!! So, I thought I'd share with you some tactics I use to get things done in a busy house with a FULL schedule!!

First, let me share with you a typical week's schedule:
Our regular weekly events
Wednesday - church activities (6:30 - 7:45)
Thursday - Bible Study (6:15 - 9)
Sunday - morning church (9a)
Husband's work schedule
Friday & Saturday 10:30p - 8a
Sunday - Tuesday 11p - 8a
(He sleeps from about 9a - 4:30p each day, but gets up around noon on Wednesday to spend 1/2 of his 1st day off with us & then sleeps a "normal" overnight Wed, up with us on Thursday but then sleeps until about 2pm on Fridays to help him for his Friday overnight shift.)
Most days he is at our house around 7am and leaves around 5pm
He is in preschool Tu, Wed & Thurs from 9:30a - 2:30p

This is our week! Then, we work in Homeschooling, naps, baby feedings, laundry, dishes, other housework, playtime and MORE!!!! It's a challenge to say the least! But, I have found a few things that help me! Now, keep in mind I am a list-maker, Type-A personality!!! This may not work for everyone. But, it's important to find what does!

FIRST - I created a laundry schedule!! Yep, that's right a laundry schedule! Too often I found myself doing 5-6 loads of laundry a DAY and then depressed by the piles that just laid there unfolded for days! So, I made a schedule in a Word document like this one below.

This may look like overkill to some of you, but strangely enough it puts this already exhausted, worn-out momma's mind at ease! I have this posted on the wall between my washer & dryer. I can look at it first thing in the morning and know what 2 loads of laundry I have scheduled for that day! Then, suddenly I don't feel so overwhelmed!! Two loads is completely doable!!! You may wonder why I have a third column. With 3 kids and 2 under the age of two, you NEVER know what might happen during the day! Someone may get sick, someone may have an overnight accident, a child may get a little carried away outside in the mud! This leaves me open to do an "emergency load" should the need arise!!

Something else I created that helps me immensely is my Weekly Meal Plan. You will notice this looks strikingly similar to my laundry schedule. That's because IT IS!!! It is also made in a Word Document.

Ours starts on Thursdays because payday is Wednesday (unless its a holiday week). I also start it on Thursdays because most ads begin on Wednesday, so I can look through them on Tuesday after they come in the mail!! That way I can plan my meals around what's on sale (beef, chicken, steak, veggies, fruit for snacks, etc.). It has worked VERY well in our house! In fact, it has cut our grocery bill by at least 30%!!!! Why?? Well, with an organized meal plan I only make (or try to only make) ONE trip to the store, which cuts down on those extra items you get when you're rushing through trying to find something for dinner. It has also cut down the number of times we eat out, since I've planned the meal ahead of golly THEY BETTER EAT IT!!! I can also more easily plan for company dropping by at a moment's notice without the frantic running around trying to figure out what's to make for dinner! Now, sometimes I might move things around in a week, especially if we leftovers for a lunch, but most of the time we stick to the original schedule. And, as a treat, once a month I allow my husband and oldest child to choose a meal for one day that week. It also allows my son to have at least one meal he likes (or so he says).

Well, these are just a couple tips for those of you feeling overwhelmed and overloaded!! I hope they get your brain thinking about what might work for you!! I would love to hear from you all about how you organize your house, chores and lives!!!

Until next time~

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Why is listening such a hard lesson to learn? We are taught from an early age that we need to listen to our parents. We need to listen to their voice for many reasons but one being to heed warnings! They are trying to protect us and at times save us from danger. We teach our children to listen to our voice. These past few weeks our school lessons have been on a theme of "Attentiveness." (We use KONOS curriculum found here) Our lessons have a great variety of hands-on, book work & practical living scenarios to drive this point home.

One game we played (which is now Tyler's favorite) is to give him a bag and recite a list of things he must get and bring back to me. So, I would say "Bring me something blue, something round, something fuzzy, something small & something purple." Off he would run in search of the items! I'm not sure who had more fun - him or ME!! I gave him praise for each correct item he brought me and encouraged him to continue until he had found everything on my list. If he didn't remember something we talked about it and why he didn't remember. This game not only encourages listening it also encourages following directions & being observant.

After we played several rounds of this game, I sat him down and we talked about why this game was a good lesson for our lives. Not only do we need to listen when playing a game, we also need to listen when Mom or Dad gives instructions or when in a classroom situation (i.e. Sunday School). We then talked about how important it is to listen to our parents voice - especially when they call our name from a distance or very loudly. There are reasons parents raise their voice at us. Sometimes it is to give correction (which we are working on lowering our voices in this house - we come from loud families ourselves, so this is a work in progress), but other times it could be to save us from danger - such as when we are in a parking lot & Mom might see the approaching car! We talked about how important it is to STOP immediately when we're told or our name is called. There is ALWAYS a good reason!

Then, we moved on to the MOST IMPORTANT person to listen to - GOD!!!! We talked about how God always has our best interest in mind and when we listen to Him he will guide us. Now, keep in mind I'm trying to explain this to a 5-yr old. It is quite difficult to explain how God will tell us what to do when He doesn't have an audible voice! So, it was brought to my mind that many times our Mommy's and Daddy's are God's voice to us! When we say STOP it's because God has prompted Mom or Dad to say it because of things we've learned. Listening to God's voice is not easy at first, because it takes time to know what it sounds like - just like a baby learning to recognize Mom & Dad's voice. But, the more you practice listening to HIM the easier it will be!!

This, I believe is the MOST IMPORTANT lesson I can teach my child! Listening to God through the Holy Spirit has long been forgotten by many Christians. We've become complacent and comfortable in our own life and the path we're on that we forget to "check back in" with God and His ever changing plans. The fundamentals will never change but the path will most likely change - and often! We need to constantly seek HIS guidance, HIS will and HIS path for our life. Our life is not anything what we thought it would be after 7 years of marriage. We thought we'd be in a comfortable ministry somewhere, building a church & a family. Instead, we've found ourselves trying to make ends meet on a weekly basis, a job my husband is not happy in, and very little family time due to my husbands work/sleep schedule. We are doing what we can, but life is complicated right now. My husband feels a calling from God, but frankly we're not sure where it's going to lead us. Right now, we are the ones being tested in our listening skills. And, let me tell you - IT'S HARD!!!! We are confident that in time God will reveal His plan clearly to us, but in the meantime we must continue to pray and wait (which is the hardest part)!! We are ready to go and serve wherever He leads us - we're just waiting to hear where that might be!

Throughout this trial I've realized that if we don't listen to our Father daily, we will most likely find ourselves lost and eventually unable to hear His voice because we're out of practice. I sure don't want that to happen - do you? Take time today to talk to our Father and if you're out of practice ask Him to teach you how to hear His voice again. Ask Him to make His plans known to you so that you can continue doing work for His glory!!

Many blessings to you as you Seek Him First!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Choices - part 4

During the summer, I was on a mission to find the best curriculum for our family that we could afford on our very, very tight budget. Believe me, it was not easy. I started my search by reading the recommendations by the Duggars ( They had homeschooled for years and I thought, if someone already has these sites in one place, why should I go searching, just start there. It was extremely helpful to me. I began the research. I had heard of several of them and started there, but those then led me to others not listed on their site. I was amazed at all the homeschool curriculum out there. It wasn’t that long ago that homeschool was a sort of foreign word. I was fascinated at all the resources. Of course, I am a closet nerd and I LOVE to research and learn things, so I actually enjoyed my journey for the “right” curriculum. (I will do my review in another blog, but for now I will continue on.)

Another thing that fascinated me about the Duggars, was the fact that the girls only wore skirts/dresses & the boys only wore pants in public – yet they were Baptist. I had seen several interviews on that very subject and I wanted to know more. So, I began doing more research and reading. I realized that while they dressed this way because of their religious beliefs, it was also because of certain convictions they had. So, I once again began to pray about this. I do not want to follow people or a man’s idea of what is right, I want to follow God’s will for my life and my family. I asked Him to show me what His word says about this subject. Over and over I kept recalling I Timothy 2:9-10 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” (NASB) Now, understand I have not ever been one to wear earrings or lots of jewelry. There was a time when I was younger that I wanted all of that, but that was a phase and I left that mindset more than 15 years ago. So, I thought…”okay, that’s not hard to do Lord. We don’t have a lot of money, I don’t wear gold (other than my wedding set & watch) and most often I don’t wear jewelry – frankly, it gets in the way when you’re caring for little ones! I also thought I dressed modestly, so I was good to go. I didn’t see a problem with anything I was wearing. But, God kept placing this passage on my heart and I kept coming back to my original conclusion. Then, one day as I was shopping I saw some little girl clothes and stopped. Now that I had a girl, I was paying attention to these things. I immediately saw what the Lord was trying to tell me. Modesty is going out the window like crazy!! Now I know adults can find “trashy, immodest” clothing if they want to, but now little girls? SERIOUSLY?? I would NEVER let my daughter wear a skirt that barely covered her bum or a shirt that you can see through – I don’t care how old she is! Not having a girl for 5 years and only shopping in the boys section, I had not paid much attention to the fact that nearly all girls clothing was becoming more and more immodest. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I remember when I was in high school that it was pretty easy to find modest clothing. But, now…it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack! I was astonished. This is what God was trying to show me – not for my sake, but my daughters!! So, I went home and talked it over with my husband and asked his opinion on the subject and what he believed the Bible taught. He agreed that the Bible does teach modesty and that women are not to adorn themselves. So, then I approached the idea of wearing only skirts. He looked at me rather strangely. I honestly think he was shocked, because up until then you probably would only catch me in a skirt 4-5 times a YEAR!! And now I wanted to wear them all the time?! Who was I kidding? But, I asked him to pray about it and see what God told him. A couple days later, he came back and said that he felt no resistance, so if I felt God’s leading I had his blessing too. So, that was settled. The girls in our family will wear long skirts/dresses for modesty reasons. Now, having worn them through the summer months I can honestly say, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” I have not worn shorts in quite a few years, so I would wear mostly jeans & some capris in the summer. However, in Oklahoma those 105 degree days are relentless and even capris didn’t help. I felt cooler and more at ease in my skirts this summer than I have in years!! I thought, "I can do this!" Yes, I was a little worried. I was worried that the skirt would get in the way of housework, running errands, chasing 3 kids, etc. But, in fact, they've been a little more free-ing than I thought possible! Now that it's getting cooler out, I am finding new challenges, but I know that I will find a way to make it work too!!

I don't ask that you agree with us, because frankly I know many of you won't (and that's really okay). These are the choices we've made for our family. These are the choices we've chosen to live with. You need to seek God and ask Him what choices need to be made for your family. Ask Him what's right for you! Only He can answer that question for you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Choices - part 3

Were we willing to lay it all on the line to follow and trust God? That sounds like such an easy question to answer, but honestly it is one of the most difficult. Our hearts say “YES! Let’s go!” But, our minds and earthly desires tend to take over and start clouding our judgment and our desire to follow the ONE who holds us in His hand. So, we walk through life, trying our best to follow but let’s face it, most of the time we end up leading and then stopping to ask for directions! Which, more often than not, requires us to backtrack and try again. I must admit, starting over frustrates me, but in recent years I have learned that starting over can refocus you, re-energize you and renew you. What a blessing those times have become to me.

When our family found out baby #3 was coming, they were not excited in the least. To say that was difficult is an understatement. We were thrilled that God was going to entrust us with a new life and most of our family couldn’t say anything nice. It was a time that I had to FULLY rely on God and His promises to me. He promised to be there when I fall and to love me unconditionally. That’s what I had to hold onto. At that time, I had a few friends that were happy for us, but worried at the same time since our 2nd and 3rd children would be less than 15 months apart. Now, believe me when I say…I TOO WAS WORRIED!! All of this happened about the time we were really talking seriously about homeschooling our children. How in the world was I going to be able to teach Tyler with 2 little ones running around? Again, I began doing research and reading all I could on the subject of homeschool and younger siblings. The more research I did, the more I realized that it’s just a learning process. We would just have to learn it all together and we would fail together and work through it. I was scared, but excited to see where God was going to take us in this journey. As Tyler was entering his 4th year of preschool, I began to notice little things that concerned me for his future in public school. I noticed that in large crowds he literally couldn’t handle himself. Now, you might say that is just a 4 year old boy. But, this mom knew better. He had absolutely no idea how to control himself. Call it immaturity, call it boy, call it ADD – whatever it was concerned me. Our nephew was in public school Kindergarten and I found out there were 28 kids in his class! 28 KINDERGARTENERS?!? Are you kidding me? How could they possibly learn anything? That poor teacher can not possibly have time for those who might need the extra attention. And, if she took that time she would be neglecting those who might not need as much attention, but they still needed some! This spurred me on to deep prayer about homeschooling our children. You see, at this point we had not yet decided what to do. I kept thinking that next year when I had 2 little ones at home, Tyler would be safely at school learning away. But, now I wasn’t so sure. I began talking to a very good friend of mine who had homeschooled her kids and it was very enlightening. After placing her kids in school that year, we had a lot to discuss. Then, in December 2009 my husband once again, lost his second job, which paid for our home & some other necessary expenses. This sent us both on a quest to FULLY and COMPLETELY trust God. Something that we always said we did, but soon realized we did not. We trusted Him with the little things and really trusted Him when all was well. But, now we found ourselves in a situation that could lead to the loss of our home and more. This quest has taken us through valleys and more valleys; some hills but most mostly valleys at this point. It has not been easy by any means, but let me honest in telling you I have never been more FULL OF JOY!! I was happy when things were going well, but I wasn’t full of joy; at least not the joy that comes from resting in the Lord daily. This was a new journey and the one I find most rewarding!! We are not rich by any means and we have made some HORRIBLE choices in our finances. Now, we are paying for those choices. We neither one had been taught to save money. I was single for nearly 8 years after high school, so I really had no worries. Jacob grew up more privileged than I, so he really never had to worry about money. Now we found ourselves short about $900 a month in income to live! Jacob immediately began searching for a 2nd job, but soon realized that finding one that worked around his overnight schedule was nearly impossible. Over the past 9 months he has interviewed for several full-time & part-time ministry opportunities, but none of them were where we felt God leading us. This literally threw my husband into a depression and he became a recluse. He shut me and everyone else out. But, during that time I felt God telling me to let him be. “I will take care of him. Trust me.” And, you know what? He was right! My husband began to really study the Word and read more books than I’ve seen him read since we graduated college! He was on a quest, a quest for TRUTH. It was amazing the transformation God did in my husband. In turn, I was once again rejuvenated in my faith. I could see God at work.

Our small group began doing some studies that really challenged our faith and made us rethink the “way we do church.” I saw a revival happening right before me! It was amazing!! We did studies on prayer and the Holy Spirit, which changed the way we think, pray and act. I began listening to that “still small voice” in my head. I soon realized it was more than just my conscience; it was the Holy Spirit prompting me to do things and say things I wouldn’t normally say and in some cases it told me to not speak. I have seen a difference in my marriage and relationship with my kids, which just amazes me. I’ve seen people change, but I’ve never been an active part of it. There are no words.

In February 2010, we celebrated Tucker’s 1st birthday!! What a joyous occasion it was! I was 7 months pregnant and I felt great!! And, in just 2 short months we were going to meet our 3rd child – a precious little girl. During the “2nd semester” of Tyler’s preschool was when we really started talking, praying harder and seeking God’s wisdom for his future education. We were running out of time and a decision needed to be made. We were really leaning towards homeschool, but in all honesty – I was scared I couldn’t do it. Kindergarten and first grade is when they learn to read. What if I couldn’t teach my child to read? I would have an illiterate child forever! I would be a failure!! And, once again, I heard the Lord say to me, “You will never be a failure as long as you rely on me.” WOW!! What freedom, what relief! In April, before I gave birth, we decided that homeschool was probably the way to go. So, I attended a Homeschool group meeting with a friend. That night, the leader spoke and I was blown away! I knew this was a Christian group, but the support was so much more than I expected. They were amazing!!! The leader said these words, which changed my life forever. “God granted these kids to us. He has entrusted them to us for a very specific reason. If you feel God has called you to homeschool your children, then you must do it. And, if you feel He has called you, why would you doubt He won’t be there to help you? He will give you the tools, resources, patience, words and abilities that you need.” W-O-W!!!! So powerful, yet so simple. I had been looking at it all wrong! I did truly believe homeschool was the best option for my son/children, but I was too scared. Now, I realized that God has placed that call on my heart and He would see me through! I cannot tell you the freedom I felt with those words. He had never let me down before, why would He do it now? When I left that meeting, I felt a complete peace about homeschooling my kids. I not only knew it was best for them, it was going to be amazing because God was going to be with me the entire time! He will guide my lessons, my thoughts, my steps and my teaching – all I have to do is ASK!!

On April 20th, we welcomed baby #3, Madalynn Belle into our family. To say we were overjoyed is an understatement. We were thrilled to have our 3rd child arrive healthy & safely. She was perfect. Now…it’s time for some truth…I wanted a girl for our 2nd child, but when Tucker came I couldn’t have been happier!! He is such a joy and full of life. I was thrilled with 2 boys! Then, when I found out #3 was a girl, I must say I was a little disappointed. I honestly wanted another boy! I thought it would be so cool to have 2 boys so close together. They would be BEST BUDS! Now, don’t get me wrong…I was excited for our daughter to arrive. I honestly never thought it would happen though, so I had resigned myself to having a house full of rambunctious boys! You see, my husband’s family only had 2 girls (before ours) in 100 years! So, I was convinced we were going to have all boys. When the first ultrasound showed girl, I was shocked! Jacob was a little skeptical, so we had a second one done. It too showed girl. Then, due to my c-sections & scaring, I had several more ultrasounds, so each time I made sure it was a girl. But, being the skeptic I was, I still did not believe it. It was surreal. I remember lying on the table during the delivery and Jacob (who is always more interested in the procedure than me) looked back over the curtain and said, “She’s here!” My reply? “Are you sure it’s a girl?” “Yes,” he said. “No, did you see her parts? Are you really sure?” I responded. He looked at me with this astonished face that said, ‘are you crazy?’ His actual reply, “Yes, I’m sure. I know the difference between boy & girl parts!” Everyone in the room just cracked up. And, while I’m being honest, I was still skeptical. I didn’t fully believe she was a girl until I changed her diaper and saw for myself. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true! Well, my recovery was more than rocky this time. We found out a week after my delivery that the anti-contraction medication I took during my pregnancy was actually masking my high blood pressure. So, when they abruptly stopped the medication, it threw me into a downward spiral. Once I was back on the right medication, I felt great again. I had energy and was ready to learn how to be a mother of three.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Choices - part 2

Over the next year we gradually fell behind on bills, but we never quit trusting God. We would say it over and over to each other and to our friends and family – “We’re trusting God. He will provide.” All the while, we continued to search in the direction we wanted and still did things our way, only stopping to ask for His approval and blessing. We had given several more things over to God, but we still were not FULLY trusting God. We just wanted His blessing on our choices. We fell back into what was comfortable – what was easy. Until one day, we found ourselves at a HUGE crossroads. You see, after having Tyler we decided that I would not go back on birth control because of what it did to me and my moods. I felt better not taking it so, we used alternative contraception. In March 2008, we discovered that I was VERY allergic to certain types of latex and it caused severe convulsions and reactions, thus ending the use of our chosen contraception. We decided to trust God and allow Him to decide when we would have another child. Well, it was pretty quick! We were pregnant with child #2 by the end of April. We were most uncertain of our life and job situation at that time, but we knew this precious gift was from God and He would take care of it and us. So, in February 2009 we welcomed baby boy #2, Tucker Isaac, into our family. During my pregnancy, I began faithfully watching the TLC show “18 Kids and Counting.” I fell in love with the Duggar family. They were fascinating and amazing to me. I watched as they raised 18 kids in front of me. I wanted to know more!! Why did they have so many kids? What made them keep having them? What were their “religious” beliefs? How did that affect their lifestyle? I couldn’t quit asking questions until I found the answers. I began researching and reading about this unique lifestyle. I found that there is an entire movement devoted to this lifestyle and I was fascinated to say the least. I read all I could read about it, I checked the facts with the Bible and then I showed my husband what I had found. He checked the references in the Bible and we both concluded the same thing…they were right!! (Check out this website: to find out more about what I read.) I love the verse they quoted “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5 (NASB). We prayed and prayed for God’s leading and direction in this new knowledge. The more we prayed about it, the more it made sense to us. Why wouldn’t we trust God with our family size? We are called in no uncertain terms to trust Him with EVERYTHING in our lives and of our lives. So, why have we, Americans – Western culture – decided that family size is the one thing we absolutely will NOT give up to God? When did we decide that God had no say in the matter? If we as Christians truly believe God is the giver of life – All life – then, why have we taken it upon ourselves to tell Him when we want life? That’s exactly what I felt we were doing when we took birth control or used other forms of contraception. We were telling God, “Okay, now is good for us, so let’s have a baby.” Or “Our life is just too busy right now, so we’ll wait until it settles down, then we’ll have a baby.” Since when did God give us anything that was convenient?! He is not a God of convenience – He is a God of Life, truth, freedom and blessings!! Why are denying Him the very things that make Him God – the ONE we serve? I couldn’t get those thoughts out of my head and it just kept weighing heavier and heavier on my heart. So, finally I talked to Jacob and he saw my point of view. He prayed about it himself and after much prayer and reading God’s word, we felt this is what God wanted us to hear and learn. We believed that this is the road God wanted for our family – allow Him to decide the number of kids we have and when. Believe me when I say, this was NOT an easy decision. My husband was barely making enough to meet our monthly needs. Why had God placed this on our hearts NOW? Well, that’s easy enough to answer – because that’s when we look to Him most! When we’re in need. He used that opportunity to teach us what He wanted us to know. WOW!! We felt a complete peace that is really indescribable and yet, overwhelmed at the possibilities of our future. Could I really raise 10 kids? Could we really afford 12 kids? What about physically? I have c-sections, are 8 c-sections safe? All these thoughts were swirling in my head so much that it hurt! Then, I remember hearing that still small voice saying, “Trust me! Rely on me! You will NOT be alone. I am here!” WOW!!! Again, I was calmed by my Lord and Savior. My refuge. My God.
Another journey that started around the same time we came to this revelation was the topic of Homeschool. Now, I had several friends in high school and college that were homeschooled, but that was pretty much the extent of my knowledge on the subject. I knew what it entailed, but was so looking forward to the day that I could “ship” my kids off to school and I would have some “me time”. But, the subject of homeschool kept coming up in my thoughts and in conversations I had. So, I decided to do some research about it and entertain the thought of homeschooling – at least our oldest. Tyler was enrolled in our church preschool and loving it, so I was not ready or willing to take him away from that environment. Besides, he was thriving in his knowledge of letters, numbers, colors, shapes – all the basics. He enjoyed school and I enjoyed “my” time with a new little one at home. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking…“how could I possibly teach one child while I’m nursing and caring for another? That would NEVER work.” Then, I read some excerpts from the Duggar’s book and realized she’d done it for 20 years. If she could do it, there must be some easy tricks and ways to work school around the babies schedule or vice versa. So, I again embarked on a mission of research. This time I took my time to pray and read all I could about the subject. In fact, I took months. I was still undecided whether or not my kids would attend public school for their education. After all, my husband and I are products of the public school and we survived. I weighed the pros and cons of both public school and home school. Here’s what I found:
Public School Pros
Public School Cons
Home School Pros
Home School Cons
Variety of activities (foreign languages, gym, art, choir, orchestra, etc.)
LARGE classroom
Small classroom
Fewer activities
Lots of socialization
unchristian socialization – bad language, etc.
Christian based teaching & language
Limited socialization daily – might miss friends
Regimented schedule
Regimented schedule – little to no leeway for those who might need it
Freedom w/ daily & school schedule – easier to have family days when Dad’s off
“Me” time when school is in session
Limited or no 1-on-1 teacher/student time
As much 1-on-1 teacher/student time as needed
Biblical principles taught throughout the lessons
We have the say in what our children learn & how
As you can see, the Homeschool pros far outweighed the Public school pros. And the public school cons FAR outweighed the homeschool cons. (NOTE: These are just my findings and opinions. These are not meant to sway your opinions or bad-mouth public school. I think public school is a necessity for some people. I’m a product of public school and I completely enjoyed my school experience. This chart is just to show you how I evaluated our decision.) There were several other factors that led to our decision to homeschool, but they came later. For now, I will continue on in the timeline of our year.
So, February 2009 we welcomed our 2nd child into the family. We were thrilled that his delivery went off without a hitch! My recovery was much smoother and quicker than with Tyler. I felt great! Our life continued on as we knew it until one day in April Jacob was informed about a church looking for a part-time worship minister. He inquired about it and they were interested in talking to him. Shortly after their initial conversation, they offered him a trial to come down & visit the church and lead worship. He did and they loved him. He felt at “home”. They asked him to come down a second Sunday and lead again then they would vote. He did and they voted him in. So, May 2009 led us to our 2nd part-time ministry position. Due to the newness of our baby and some obligations I had at our church in BA, I did not join him until June. When I did, I was welcomed with open arms. I immediately joined him side-by-side in his ministry by playing piano for the contemporary service. I enjoyed it immensely!! I really felt God had called us there and I was comfortable playing on stage – a first for me. We were happy. We knew this was probably not where we would be forever, but we were happy in the now. And just like that WHAM! It happened again, we were under attack. Jacob had been working a relief shift during the day at QT, but now they wanted to switch him back to overnights. This meant he would be working Friday overnight thru Tuesday overnight (11p-8a). This also meant a change in Sunday morning routine for us, since the first service at our church started at 8:30am in a town 45 minutes away! So, he got special permission from his manager and made arrangements to leave work 1 hour early (7am) so he could come home, change clothes and we could get in the car and leave for church. Believe me when I say that first Sunday (Aug. 30, 2009) was more than difficult! But, we made it and we made it work. We were tired and I was exhausted, but it was okay, because we were exactly where we felt God wanted us so it was worth the sacrifice. Then, October came around and we found out we were expecting baby #3!!! I knew we were being tested. Our world was spinning out of control, but were we still willing to trust and follow God anywhere through anything?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Everyone makes choices. It's inevitable. Even if you try not to - you've already made at least ONE choice - NOT TO CHOOSE!! So, here are some answers to the choices our household has made. Some you may agree with, some you may not. But, that's the beauty of choices - they are yours and yours alone. What we've decided is best for our family and beliefs may not be what you decide for you and your family. AND THAT'S OKAY!!! We won't be mad at you, ridicule you or try to change you. We just want you to understand where we are coming from and in turn, expect you not to be mad or ridicule us either. goes...(this could get lengthy, so it might be in several installments)...

When we got married, we did what most Americans do & practiced Family Planning by using contraceptives. Then, "we" decided it was a good time to start a family, so I stop taking the pills and "we" began trying to start our family. Ultimately we knew that God gives life and He gives us what we need in His time, but we still "played" God with our family planning. We were extremely lucky to conceive the first month and were beyond thrilled to start our family. But, 12 weeks later tragedy struck and we were devastated at the loss of our first child. I was 13 weeks pregnant, but the fetus had stopped growing around 8.5 weeks. I had surgery to remove our first child and the healing began. We were extremely blessed to be surrounded by the love and support of our friends, family and 350 fellow classmates at Ozark Christian College all praying for us the morning of the surgery and for weeks after. Oddly enough, we were at peace with the situation.
As soon as we were able to "try" again, we did. I was disappointed the first month when our test was negative, but the second month we again were overcome with JOY as we found out I was expecting. This time I was going to be super careful and overly cautious to ensure we carried this baby to term. Things were going great and I was growing (a little ahead of schedule, but still safe) with just a few minor contractions along the way, until one morning in June I found myself sitting in a chair that I had no idea when and how I got there. I immediately called Jacob at work & told him what had happened. He said I must've passed out and to call the doctor. Of course they told me to report directly to L&D (again, I was probably there 20 times during my first pregnancy w/ early contractions). So, at 35 wks 3 days I reported to St. John's L&D in Joplin, MO. They monitored my bp throughout the day and realized it was not going down - even though I was not doing anything. Nothing made a difference. That evening about 6pm, they finally decided to call the doctor on call and have him come in for a check. He arrived about 7pm and they immediately took me to a room for an ultrasound. The one thing I remember about that ultrasound was the small size of the monitor and the HUGE size of my child's head!! I asked the dr. about it and he said, "Yep, he looks kinda big. I'll clear my schedule and see you in a few." I had no idea what that meant!! All I knew is that HUGE head was NOT coming out of me!!! Soon my room flooded with nurses w/ carts and supplies. I asked them what they were doing and they said, "Prepping you for a c-section," and kept moving about the room. Jacob and I looked at each other with astonished faces and I immediately said, "We should call our parents!" So, at 7:15pm on June 29th we called our parents to inform them we were meeting our son TONIGHT!! And, at 8:24pm we did!!! Tyler Isaiah was born at 35.5 weeks, weighing in at 9lbs 5oz and 21" long!!!! He was our BIG miracle baby boy!!! He was on oxygen for 5 days in the little NICU, but otherwise completely healthy!
Looking back at that story, I can see where God was trying to teach us and show us that HE alone is in control!! He gives life and takes life. He allows things in our life to happen so that He might receive all the glory! He was in control of our first pregnancy from the beginning and He was in control when we said goodbye to our precious baby so early. He was in control of when I would conceive a second time and He was in control when Tyler was born early! We most definitely were NOT ready to meet our baby boy, but God knew it was time and that everything would work out according to His plan and His purpose. Of course, now, I don't know what I would do without my sweet, precious, loving, spunky, rambunctious 5 year old we call Bubba!!

Fast forward a January 2006, Jacob was informed that his job would be eliminated at the end of February. So, here we were losing the only job we had and not another one in sight. We ran! Literally, we packed up our apartment and moved back to OK and into a house with family. A tight squeeze, but it was comfortable and safe. Jacob soon acquired a job that paid, but it was minimal. About a month later, he acquired a second job and started working overnights at QuikTrip in May 2006. This was NOT what I had in mind for Bible college educated husband and family, but it's what paid. We were trusting God, but honestly it was pretty much half-hearted. We wanted to hold on to certain things. We wanted things our way!

Soon, I began working & we were making progress on our bills. The family house was crowded and we soon felt we should look for a place of our own. So, we did! We did NOT consult God on our decision to start looking, but we asked Him to bless our decision and show us the right house. Well, again...He taught us that He is in control. We found a house that seemed perfect for us, we made and offer and they accepted!! We were thrilled. We moved in within 45 days and were on our way to making the home ours! We painted all the walls, replaced the carpet w/ laminate and we were overjoyed to have Christmas in our own house!! But, soon it started...the heat didn't work properly, things began falling apart one by one. We closed on our house Nov. 29th, 2007 and January 2, 2008 I lost my job. We were okay with me staying home for the time being - it was tight, but it could work. Jacob had 2 jobs and we could survive. Then in April 2008, Jacob lost his 2nd job due to budget cuts. Now, we were in trouble. What were we going to do without that income? We fully believed that God would provide. He did, but it wasn't for another year!! That was the beginning our true journey. The one we consciously embarked on! We were finally beginning to learn what it was to FULLY trust God.

To be continued...