Monday, June 20, 2016

When You're Given a Re-Set Button

None of us are allowed a do-over.  Our lives are lived once and there is no going back.

However, occasionally, we're allowed to push the reset button.  Sometimes we don't recognize for what it is.  We might actually fight against it with all of our hearts, not really seeing the opportunity that lies behind it.

When we pay attention, though, and get our minds off of our emotions and inconveniences that might come along with, we are given a beautiful insight into our Abba Father's heart for us.

Case in point:  Our basement.  With the surprise renovation.  After our worst school year ever.

Inside, I was throwing a spiritual hissy fit.  I was tired and inconvenienced by it all.

But do you know what He whispered gently into my ear one Sunday?  It was this, "Dear one, I.  Am.  Blessing.  You."

Darlin's, I was complaining as He was blessing me.

I desperately needed a reset button and  He was providing it for me.  This past school year has been the hardest for us in the ten years we've been homeschooling.  I couldn't even contemplate how we were going to do this next year.  The renovated schoolroom has been my reset button.

Maybe you need a reset button.  As in, really, really need.

Our God is so loving and gracious and all-knowing. Talk to Him, boldly sharing your need with Him.  He knows, dear one, but He delights in hearing your voice.  Ask Him to show you if this is a season of a reset.  I can't promise you that it is.  They don't always pop up when we think we need them the most.  But if it is, He will whisper it into our ears, if we ask.  He can open our eyes to things that looked like disasters but are really wonderful experiences that benefit us.

Trust that He is good and faithful and wise.  And thank Him that He is the God of the Reset Button.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Our Surprise Schoolroom Renovation

Surprise!  We found mold!

Oh, dear.  This was not what we were expecting this summer.  And all because I was tired of handwashing all the dishes after 3 months.

You see, our old dishwasher is the reason why our entire basement is now being renovated.

There was the teeniest-weeniest leak behind our refrigerator.  A leak that had been leaking for three years.  Three years.  When the new, beautiful functional dishwasher was installed, the water line that had a small leak burst and voila!  That set into motion the domino effect that is our new summer adventure.

Our school room is directly underneath the kitchen...and the leak.

And then, right next door to the school room is our guest room with a full bath.  And guess what we found in the wall between the school room and the bathroom?  Oh, yes, mold.  Oh, dear.

The project has now grown.  The entire basement is now being renovated.  Bathroom is being almost gutted and the guest room ready for our boys to move downstairs.

There goes our nice, quiet summer.

Once the shock wore off, though, let's just say the excitement of a renovation project kicked in.  The Pinterest board was overloaded and the ideas started rolling in.

But, first, before pictures needed to be taken...

We know that many homeschooling families would love to have a room to do all their schooling in, but let's be honest, this room has had issues. It has always been dark and dungeon-y.  The lighting has been terrible and depressing.  The built in bookshelves were really the main selling point of the entire house for us and they're not going anywhere, but they're getting a fresh coat of paint.

The toy bins are going adios! and a new cabinet is going in there.  There's new flooring, and lighting and (my absolutely favorite part) a happy, yellow reading chair and ottoman for Mama's reading nook.

That alone is worth all the fuss and bother.

I think this next school year is going to be pretty splendid.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

flying by the seats of our pants

Some years are good and smooth and lovely.  They might not be exactly easy, but life is do-able and you feel pretty on top of your game.  Kids leave the house with shoes on both feet, dinner is planned and in the crockpot and your children can answer the first twenty questions to the Westminster Catechism when prompted.  Boo-yah.

We have had about two years of not smooth and not on top of our game.  Hence, the long blogging break.  We have had health scares, a new job for my hubs complete with a massive increase in responsibility, surprise house guests, extra curricular activities, dental issues, an unusable kitchen, car issues, a major surprise renovation to our basement school room due to (gulp) mold and even now as I write this, my cheeks are still swollen from my wisdom teeth extraction.

This is the season where we are learning to fly by the seat of our pants.  And because I'm not naturally fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, this is new territory.  It's kinda making me squirm, but I'm learning.

And if you're in that season, too, my friend, and when you're not a natural fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, you can learn it, too.

These are the years that it feels like there is no break, no time to breathe or regroup.  There are days when getting through the dirty dishes feels like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  Days when you can see that the likelihood of getting a nap in the next week is as likely as finding an oasis in the Sahara. Days when the most exciting thing to happen was that you met the mailman at the door and engaged in 4.3 seconds of adult communication.

It happens.  For reals.

It's completely natural to get overwhelmed in these seasons.  Believe me, I know, as I sit here with my still-chipmunk-y cheeks.  This girl knows where you're coming from.

You are not alone.  And you can do this.

Know why?  Because He sustains us.  Whatever your craziness is, He has gone before you.  By His grace we have every single breath.  We have every single moment because of His great love for us.

This is just a season.  It may be relatively short, it may feel way to long, but the wonderful things about seasons is that they change.

And we get to change with them.

Look around you.  What sort of new growth is He inspiring and causing in this time for you?

It's there, if you give it a chance to grow.  And it's altogether lovely, dear one.

(one of the sweetest times in the last two years for us)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Homeschooling Baby Steps Into the New Year

I would say that I am a go-getter.  Goal-oriented, list-driven and all sorts of lovely adjectives that show how much of a control freak I am.

Wait.  Control freak?  Do I really want to go there?  Alright, so maybe not a complete control freak, but a "git-'er-done"-kinda girl, I am.

The new year is always exciting to me.  I approach the year with pretend energy and enthusiasm that I have mustered up from the few pitiful remains of my leftover Christmas baking.  I'm full of good intentions and ways that this is the year I figure out how to get it all done.

Except this year.

There are only crumbs and the enthusiasm, while present, is a bit more muted and realistic.  The main way this is manifesting?  Our school year.

We started school back up yesterday with not the usual roar, but with a subdued "meow".

We are babystepping our way back into a full school schedule complete with a daily schedule now crammed with extracurricular activities.  Instead of jumping in with both feet, we're dipping our toes in, taking our time, making sure chores are getting done and the kitchen is clean.

And then mixing terrible metaphors.


Here's the thing with homeschooling... we get to call the shots.

We started with Math and English today.

That's it.  Honest.

And you know what?  It was perfect, exactly what we needed, do-able.

If your new year is not exactly the breath of fresh air that you were hoping for and you're still struggling with the exhaustion from the whirlwind called the holidays, you do not have to buy into the mindset that everything in the new year has to be new and fresh and the perfect opportunity to start everything all over again.

Give yourself permission to ease into it.  Don't compromise your sanity and ability to take in the moment because everyone seems to be saying that this is the way you should do it.

At the beginning of any race, the key is to pace yourself.  You don't want to feel like throwing in the towel next August, right?

Okay, so I had to squeeze in a couple of overused idiomatic metaphors.

I know, I know.

Pitiful.  I'll add reducing my usage of them to my list of goals for this year.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Resolution One: Exercising the Writing Muscle Again

This place seems unfamiliar and big, at best.  Scary and overwhelming, at worst.

The writing portion of my brain hasn't been exercised in awhile.  Like other unused muscles in my body, it feels like a bit of a stretch, especially uncomfortable because this used be familiar and easier.

Now here I am starting back at square one.

So here I am, a bit frayed around the edges, but ready to get back, ready to exercise again and remember how good this feels.

But like all exercising, it will probably take some time to build back up to where I was, letting my fingers glide over the keyboard instead of them almost stammering, looking for the right places to land.

The new year is the perfect and natural opportunity I needed to get back here, to reach out and hear your hearts and watch what God is doing in your lives and families and share what He is doing in ours.

I love the new year.  It's a clean slate, stretching out in front of us, as of yet, uncluttered, free, lovely and simple.  Soon, those calendar days will be filled in again and this unfettered moment will seem like a distant dream.

Let's enjoy these days, shall we?

2015, for us, like many of you, was not an easy year.  It wasn't bad or chock full of regrets, but not easy, nonetheless.  Writing was not something I could do.  It was too raw and uncomfortable, too revealing, at times.

2016 holds no promises of ease or days...weeks...months of comfort and relaxation.


It's going to be so good.


Because God.

And He.  Is.  Good.  All the time.

I can tell you what I am praying for, for you...for us... that it is a year that at then end of it, we look back and say, "Yes, I see the presence of Jesus with us every moment."  I pray that it is the year of breakthrough, of peace, of the impossibilities to us becoming possibilities because of Christ.

And that will be a very good thing, indeed.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What True Love Looks Like

Twelve years ago today, a boy proposed to a girl.  It really was a no-brainer, there was never a question that she would say "no".  He was still pretty cute with all of his adorable nervousness.

She knew (kinda) what it meant to put that ring on her finger and then immediately started working on potential wedding dates, colors, and the cake.

After all, they were in love, right?  That meant singing birds and shooting stars and never having to say we're sorry.

Let's fast forward through those twelve years, shall we?  Twelve years of true love.

Twelve years of.... store trips.

...late night bowls of ice cream.

...choosing to love hard.

...budget talks.

...uncontrollable giggles.

...road trips.

...brilliant ideas and not-so brilliant ideas.

...weight gain and weight loss and weight gain (mine).

...talking and re-talking and then talking through it again.

...dancing in the kitchen.

...intense, pressing-in kind of prayers.

I have a precious friend who is seriously contemplated marriage within the next year.  What could I share with her?  What does love look like, day in and day out, for real life?

Love looks different than I had imagined it the day he put that ring on my finger. 

Different, but infinitely better. 

True love looks like a husband making sure his wife has gas in her car.  It looks like laughing as you're cleaning up after sick children in the middle of the night, lots of laughing at mediocre jokes and forgiveness for not having a certain favorite shirt washed when it's wanted or having eaten the other person's left-overs.

Do you know what it also looks like?  It looks like rejoicing and laughing and eating and sleeping and trusting and delighting in each other.  It looks like being each other's biggest cheerleader and advocate, date nights, DIY projects that take forever and blow the budget, watching each other change the baby's diapers and holding hands and grossing the kids out.

True love takes care of the orthodontist bills and remembers birthdays and anniversaries.

True love has work gloves and boots on.  But, oh, my dears, it also has a sparkly red gown on.

Because even though it is work, it is also a delight, a refreshment to our souls and downright FUN!

I'll take that over the shooting stars and singing birds any day.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nine Ways To Organize Your Homeschool

I am neck-deep in my super-charged, time-to-get-'er-done season of ultimate school planning and organizing.


Secretly, I love it, but shhhhhh, don't tell anyone.

I love the challenge of going through all of the curriculum and getting it organized and planned out.  There's something about taking chaos and turning it into order that soothes every homeschool mama's heart and slight OCD compulsions.

But before I show you how I love to organize our school year, schedule and room, I am so excited to share these lovely ideas that you might be able to use.  You have to know that I found these on Pinterest, of course, because well, why wouldn't I?

Anything else would just be non-sensical.

If you're looking for some color-coordinated organization love, this post from Mrs. Terhune's First Grade Site! is so full of fun ideas!  Many of her ideas can be easily modified for a homeschool room.  I've implemented a just a few of her ideas so far, but keep visiting her site to get more inspiration.

My precious friend, Heather came up with this free printable a couple of years ago to help parents set goals throughout the year for their kids.  Plus, her blog ( is simply encouraging, especially as a former homeschool student now homeschooling her own kids.

Intentional parenting means setting goals. Pray, plan and then act intentionally. {free printable semester goal sheets}
This post from Life of a Homeshool Mom is a great starting point for when you're beginning to plan out your year.  It's thoughtful and thorough, reminding her readers that this is what works for her, not necessarily for everyone.
Homeschool Planning 101 A 7-Step Guide to Planning Your Year
We homeschoolers LOVE anything free, right?!  Look at how cute these free printable binder spine labels are!  Many thanks to Vanilla Joy for making these available.
notebook binder spine labels free printable
This next one is something that is one of my favorite ways to organize my year.  Pieces of Us shows how she tears her workbooks apart then files the pages in the appropriate weekly file.  I do this with our workbooks as well, I'm just envying her rainbow colored folders!
This will be our first year of the high school portion of our homeschool (oy vey!) and this post from Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus gives some very practical ideas of how to bless and encourage your highschooler.
6 Ways to Organize Your Homeschooled High School Teen @ Tina's Dynamic Homeschool Plus
Do you need some encouragement in remembering why you're doing this?  Ed Snap Shots gives ten fantastic ideas of things you want to be doing with these days.
The 10 Best Things You're Not Doing for your Homeschool
I love labelling things, don't you?  These labels from Live, Laugh & Learn in Second Grade aren't printables, but I think they would be pretty simple to make and they're so cheerful!
I saved my favorite for last.  Please, don't forget the most important thing to do for your homeschool is to pray!  This is a lovely list from Life as a Homeschool Mom will give you several different verses to use throughout your year. 
We are all always looking for ways to be more organized and prepared for our school year.  We take on massive amounts of responsibility and it can consume so much of our attention.  My goal is to hopefully have given you a few ideas of things that you can do to make your days (and year) more smooth, enjoyable and lovely.
Happy planning!

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