What I Love about Homeschooling

I’ve been meaning to write a post about homeschooling since I started this blog so many years ago. With most of the nation and much of the world currently figuring out some method of homeschooling due to Covid-19, I figure now is a great time to finally get this post written and shared.

I started homeschooling our first child 15 years ago. We now have six children, all who have been or are currently being homeschooled. I was homeschooled from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. I certainly don’t have this homeschooling journey down perfectly. I am constantly learning and growing alongside my children, but I do have some encouragement to share from my 30+ years of homeschooling experience:).

What this post will NOT be:

This will not be anti-public or anti-private school post. I know WAY to many wonderful children and families who do NOT homeschool and way to many FABULOUS teachers in the private and public school settings who are doing an incredible job, to bash the public and private school systems. Not everyone is called to homeschool. Not everyone should homeschool. If you’re looking for negative information you’ll find it, but not here. Truth be told, there are some parents with kids in the public school system who do more homeschooling with their children than some homeschooling parents do.

What this post will be:

I’ll share a bit of my experience growing up as a homeschooler and as a homeschooling mom of six. I’ll provide some helpful tips and encouragement for those of who have chosen to homeschool and for those of you who have had homeschooling forced upon you due to this crazy time. Mostly, I’ll share what I love about homeschooling!

My Homeschooling Experience:

I went to pre-school at the age of four. After pre-school, my Dad told my mom he’d like her to pray about homeschooling me in kindergarten. My dad was a youth pastor in Michigan at that time and my mom a stay at home wife and mom to me and my younger brother Micah. My mom thought “No way on earth am I going to homeschool.” She had zero desire to homeschool, but she prayed about it and felt like that is what the Lord wanted her to do. So, they embarked on a journey that would last many, many years.

We only knew 2 or 3 other families who were homeschooling at that time. People thought my parents were nuts. My parents were homeschooling forerunners. I liked being homeschooled. I enjoyed doing my workbooks at the kitchen table with plenty of time for playing outdoors, being with family, going to church activities, and reading good books.

When I was nine my family moved to Colorado. I thought Colorado was like heaven. We moved to two acres of land out in the country. We had a small ditch running through our back yard that I thought was the coolest thing ever. Micah and I discovered a whole new world in the hills behind our home and my imaginative played soared to a new level. The homeschooling community in Loveland was vibrant and extensive. We could hardly believe how many people homeschooled and quickly became a part of the homeschooling community.

My parents asked God to give their children the arts. God provided my sisters and I with a high quality, Christ centered dance classes. God provided piano teachers who taught us both classical and worship music. Our homeschool community performed musicals in the community, and we participated in homeschool elective classes where we learned to create other styles of visual art.

My parents prioritized family devotions, the arts, outdoor play, workbook based school curriculum, church, and hospitality. Jesus was at the center of everything!

I grew up in a relaxed homeschooling experience. Our only testing was done through the state every other year. My Dad taught me math and english, but for my other subjects I was mostly self taught with my mom making sure I was completing my school work each day.

My mom always said, “If I can do it, you can do it!”.

I loved the freedom homeschooling gave me to pursue my passions and to spend plenty of time outside. It kept me connected to my family and distanced from much of the “garbage” in this world. It allowed me to flourish in my own unique giftings and gave me a solid foundation for future work.

There was only one season when I wanted to go to public school, and that was during middle school. I begged my parents to let me go. I thought going to public school would make me “cool” and help me get a boyfriend. I’m thankful they said “NO.”

I did video school for high school which I found boring, (my brother and I often exchanged back rubs or fell asleep during school), but I continued to read A LOT and be involved in extra curricular activities. My senior year I took two choir classes and Spanish at Loveland High School and enjoyed my time hanging out with friends and the LHS Bible Study group.

After homeschooling, I went to Oral Roberts University for three semesters. Eric and I wanted to get married without a lot of debt so we moved back to Colorado and got married six months later. I got my associates degree from Front Range Community College and my Masters of Theology degree from Christian Life School of Theology.

My Experience as a Homeschooling Mom of 6:

When Eric and I had our firstborn son Josiah, just a year and half after getting married, we considered whether or not we would homeschool. We prayed about it and both felt this is what we wanted and were supposed to do. Josiah (19) is now about to graduate from community college with a degree in music technology and production, Emmy (17) is in community college working towards a career in midwifery. Isabelle (13) is in her first year of highschool. Judah (11) is in 5th grade. Tirzah (8) is in third grade, and RuthAnne (6) is in 1st grade.

Homeschooling has had its ups and downs. There have been days when I feel like giving up, and days when I feel like its the best thing in the world. I have children who learned to read easily and children with learning challenges that have made me go to me knees in prayer and search out answers and help. There have been weeks of wins and weeks of losses. There’s so much I could say, but I don’t want to take all day so I’ll get to the fun stuff.

10 Things I love About Homeschooling:

  1. I get to be with my children (at least my younger three children) most of the day. Now I know for some of you this may seem like torture. I get it. There are days I want to hide in my tub in the middle of the day. Sometimes I do hide:). There are days when I think my life would be easier if I just put my kids in school. But overall, I am SO thankful that I get to spend all this time with my children. I get to know them SO well, and I enjoy them! I get a front row seat to their struggles, their joys, their victories, and their hardships. I get to speak into their life morning, noon, and night. I get to experience morning snuggles, afternoon giggles, and bedtime talks with my kids. I get to point my children to Jesus often throughout the day. There’s no person who loves my children more than my husband and I do and they get to learn in our love and in the love of their Heavenly Father.
  2. I love the slow pace of our mornings. I don’t know how so many parents get out the door early each morning for school. I love waking up when we are ready (or mostly ready), eating a hot breakfast, snuggling up on our couch, and gently easing into our day.
  3. I love the efficiency of our “school” time and how this provides my children with plenty of opportunities for creative and imaginative play. We are able to accomplish so much in a short period of time, leaving room for our children to be children and simply play. Ruthie and Tirzah still spend hours playing with their play mobile dolls, outside in their fort, and coming up with various art projects all on their own. Judah has plenty of time to work on cartooning, digital designs, and sports. Isabelle’s part time at home and part time at Olive Tree School allow her to take as many dance classes as she wants, participate in youth group, and still get adequate sleep each night.
  4. I love learning alongside my children. The older I get, the more I enjoy learning. I get just as excited, if not more excited, about our read a loud books, history lessons, and nature studies as our children do. Learning is fun and there is always something new to learn!
  5. Homeschooling helps to keep me in the heart of my home. I don’t think of myself as business woman or working professional. I consider myself a full time stay at home wife and mama. But the truth is, I work as co-owner and director of Lighthouse Dance. I spend a good portion of my “free” time organizing and responding to the happenings of our studio. I spend many hours praying for, dreaming, and planning for the present and future of Lighthouse Dance. The Proverbs 31 woman worked inside and outside of her home. Working mamas CAN homeschool. Homeschooling helps me to remember that my life is life is more than dance! LOL. Just kidding, but seriously. Sometimes I need this reminder. Home schooling is a beautiful way I connect with my children. I dedicate my mornings to schooling. This gives me time in the afternoons or evenings to work on dance related needs while my kids play, rest, or are at their various activities. Our kids have never resented the work I do and are eager to be a part it! I think this is in part due to the meaningful amount of quality time we share together each day.
  6. Homeschooling is convenient. Think travel, spontaneous field trips, sick days, late nights, playdates and more.
  7. Homeschooling allows for my children with special needs to receive one on one attention and specialized curriculum. My children have different needs and ways of learning. I have one child with dyslexia who I have had to spend a considerable amount of time working with and coming up with ways to help this child learn. This child is now reading well, rarely fights with me over “doing school”, and is finding his own passions and love for learning. It’s been a challenge to teach him, but also a tremendous joy as I get to see the little steps forward and the small victories growing into something huge!
  8. Homeschooling is fun. The possibilities for fun are endless and I get to have fun right alongside my kids.
  9. Homeschooling helps me see my need for a Savior and my need for His daily wisdom in my life. Many times I have had to ask God to give me patience, help me know what to do, show me what verse to teach our kids, guide me in a challenge, and remind me what really matters. God is the source of my strength and the strength of my life.
  10. Homeschooling helps keeps our family connected. I recently had a mom ask me if homeschooling caused me to be closer to or at odds with my children. The answer is closer! This doesn’t mean my children and I don’t ever butt heads. We do, but we work through it and as a result we have great relationships in our home. My teenagers are some of my best friends and they know they are free to talk with me and Eric about anything. Our younger children know I love them enough to discipline them when needed and this knowledge fosters connection and peace. My kids still fight with each other. They do NOT always get along, but for the most part, they sincerely love and enjoy each other.
Ruthie choosing her Painting Study of the Week

My Top Ten Homeschooling Tips

  1. Identify your family’s core values and core pursuits. For instance, in our family we value and pursue Jesus, the arts (especially dance and other visual arts), travel, missions, scripture, church, worship, joy, kindness, and the great outdoors. Let these core values and pursuits be an integral part of your family’s homeschooling structure and daily extra curricular choices.
  2. Establish a daily rhythm. I’m a fan of rhythms over detailed schedules. For instance, our day looks something like this. Mornings include chores, breakfast, Bible time, Read aloud time, History, Workbook, and Online school. Afternoons include creative play, art, time outdoors, music practice, and more reading. Late afternoons and evenings include dance classes, sports practice, dinner, or youth group. We try to have breakfast and Bible time start at 8:00am but somedays this happens after 9:00am and that’s ok.
  3. Create a meaningful and relaxed morning time. Our collective morning time is one of my favorite times of our day. We gather for breakfast and then read the Bible together. Sometimes I go along with the curriculum we are using and sometimes I choose my own scripture reading plan. This year we are reading through a Psalm and a chapter in Proverbs every day. Our children take turns reading these passages of scriptures out loud. We also work on scripture memorization. We are currently memorizing a verse for each letter of the alphabet which is our favorite way to memorize scripture. “A All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “B Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” After Bible time, if everyone is done eating, we transition to the couch, get cozied up with blankets and tea and have our read aloud time. I read a chapter or two from one or more books to our kids. I also include our history reading or science read alouds at this time. Every Tuesday, each child chooses a poem to read. After our morning collective time, we head up to our loft or kitchen table to begin our seat work. Some families include worship, hymn studies, or composer studies into their morning collective time. The possibilities are endless.
  4. Choose a curriculum that appeals to you and works well with your family’s core values and pursuits. We chose to use My Father’s World curriculum as our primary curriculum because of its strong Christian World View and Missions focus, its Charlotte Mason approach to learning, a simple teachers guide, and a format that allows for the curriculum to be completed by lunch time. I also pull from several other curriculums that work well for my different children and their various learning styles and needs. For the Children’s Sake has been one of the most influential books I’ve read on home education and schooling.
  5. Remember that your curriculum serves you. You don’t serve your curriculum. It’s ok to leave out or to add to your children’s curriculum. We don’t do every problem of every lesson every single day. Checking off all the check boxes is not the goal. Some days you may need to put the workbooks down and go outside to ride bikes. Some days you may need to read a different read aloud book than you planned to read because your children out of the blue became interested in a subject you had no idea they would become interested in. We want our children to learn and be excited about learning. I encourage you to read Teaching From Rest if you’re feeling frazzled by homeschooling or bound to your curriculum.
  6. Most of our children’s education doesn’t happen during formal “school time.” Life is education. Mealtimes are education. That trip to the grocery store is education. That visit to a retirement home to dance for the elderly is education Playing an instrument in a recital is education. Being a part of a sports team is education. Reading a well loved novel before bed is education. Planting a garden is education. Writing to a pen pal is education. Taking care of pets is education. Playing with play dough is education. Exploring nature is education. The list goes on and on. Change your own perspective regarding what constitutes schooling and rejoice in the countless opportunities for learning that your children encounter every single day.
  7. Don’t think you have to do it all on your own. I certainly can’t! Math is not a strong suite for me. Years ago another homeschool mama introduced me to Teaching Textbooks. Starting in 3rd grade our children transition to this computer math program that has been a huge help. Our kids go to Olive Tree School on Thursdays for music, art, science lab, geography, and p.e with other homeschoolers. This program has been a tremendous blessing to our family. Josiah, Emmy, and now Isabelle have all participated in the Olive Tree middle school and High School classes. Homeschooling high schoolers is something that felt overwhelming to me. Olive Tree has been a wonderful solution. Our high schoolers take classes with other homeschoolers twice a week and the remainder of their work is done at home. Our high school graduates say their Olive Tree classes were harder then some of their college classes. We don’t have to take an all or nothing approach to homeschooling. I am thankful to homeschool while also taking advantage of some of the excellent supplemental programs out there!
  8. Choose a few role models to encourage you on this journey. The number of homeschooling voices and resources can often feel overwhelming. Instead of listening to a multitude of voices, be selective in who you choose to give your attention to. For instance, I choose to learn from Sally Clarkson, Wild + Free Homeschooling, and Above Rubies ministry. I’ve gleaned inspiration, encouragement, and motivation from these resources. I don’t listen to everything they say or follow every thing they do, but I pick and choose what will be life giving for my unique family and home.
  9. Have fun! Take a deep breath! Enjoy the journey. Recognize that some days will feel easy and some days will feel hard. That’s ok. This is normal. You can do this!
  10. Get outside. I’m convinced that the best place to learn is in the great out doors! If all else is fails, go play outside with your kids, or send them outside while you sit in the house and drink a cup of tea.

I hope this post has in some way been helpful! Happy homeschooling!

It only takes one sin

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament this fall, and I am almost done with the book of Numbers. I wouldn’t say Leviticus and Numbers are two of my favorite books of the Bible. In fact, I get tired of reading the words “unclean” and all of the descriptions and laws surrounding this theme. The word “unclean” and its cognates occurs 132 times in the Old Testament; over 50 percent of these are in Leviticus.  All these mentions of clean and unclean show us our need for a Saviour. They show us the beauty of Jesus and how he came to save those who are lost and sick and “unclean.”

I love the storyline of the Israelites, their Exodus and their wanderings in the wilderness. As I’ve read through the story again this fall, I’ve gotten frustrated by all the grumbling and complaining the Israelites did when God was SO good to them! He had mercy time and time again. He saved them. He delivered them. He defeated their enemies. He provided for them! He gave them His presence and he daily guided their steps. In all of this goodness they complained. They threatened to go back to Egypt. They tested God. They spoke against Him, and they failed to be content with the miracles he’d done and was continuing to do. God could have destroyed these stiff necked people when they angered his heart with their rebellion and unbelief, but time and time again he showed mercy and love.

The story of Moses has always fascinated me. His relationship with God was SO intimate. He spoke with God as a man speaks with a friend, face to face. He received instructions from the Lord for the people of Israel and was faithful to do and to say, everything just as God commanded Him. Except in ONE thing. The people of Israel were again grumbling and complaining. They needed water and came to Moses in anger telling him that they should never have left Egypt. Moses went before the Lord, exasperated by the people and asked God what to do. The Lord told him to speak to a specific rock and that water would flow out as a result. Moses then led the people to this rock and Moses struck the rock. In doing so, water came gushing out.

But because Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it, God told him that he would never enter the promised land. Yikes. Are you kidding me? Why!? He almost got it right. The water still came out….

This story has always bothered me. I mean, come on God! This man who obeyed you in everything else, this man who spoke to you face to face, this man who led your people out of Egypt and guided them through the wilderness, this man who was the most humble man in the whole earth, this man who wrote the first five books of the Bible, this man who fell on his face in intercession for your people. HE can’t enter the promised land because of ONE mistake! After years and years of serving God, that’s it. This always seemed a little harsh to me, but because I know that God’s ways are higher than mine and that God is always good, I just let it go and considered it a part of the Bible I didn’t fully understand.

Today, while driving my big white van, I was thinking about how in my own life, I’ll be trekking along, serving God, hearing His voice, and then bam. I sin. I mess up. I hear God wrong. I fail to do what God asks me to do. I complain like an Israelite. Ugh. Then I thought of Moses. It only took one sin to separate this man of God from the promise. It only takes one sin to separate me from God.

James 2:10 “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”

Isaiah 59:2 “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”

It doesn’t matter how good I am MOST of the time. It doesn’t matter how often I keep God’s law, read his Word, pray, or serve Him. If I stumble even at ONE point, then I don’t deserve the promise. I too am unworthy to enter the Promised Land.

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Now here is where I see the gospel revealed in the book of Numbers!

Romans 5:12 -21 tells us the good news of Jesus! Jesus’ obedience brings us face to face with the Father! Jesus’ obedience makes a way for US to enter the Promised Land!

I love how this passage of scripture is written in The Message Translation.

12-14 You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it.

15-17 Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, just think what God’s gift poured through one man, Jesus Christ, will do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin and this generous, life-giving gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; the verdict on the many sins that followed was this wonderful life sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?

18-19 Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

20-21 All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.

The promised land. Moses couldn’t enter the promised land because he sinned. I can’t enter the Promised Land because I sin. But because of Jesus and what He did in taking sin upon himself, dying on the cross, and three days later rising from the dead, I can now know God face to face. I can now enter the Promise. I can now experience His rest.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

I sin. I sin everyday. I fail to meet God’s standards. But God doesn’t leave me in my sin. He gave me a Savior. I don’t just live in sin because I have a Savior. I’m not content to let sin reign in my life. No WAY! Jesus came to save me from my sin. I want it OUT! When I put my faith in Jesus, I DIE. I die to my sin and the hold it once had on me. I say yes to new life. I say yes to taking up MY cross because of what Jesus has done for me.

Romans 6:1-7 says “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,that we should no longer be slaves to sin—  because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

I’ve got a Promised Land to come – HEAVEN. But I also live in the promised land now. I have righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. God’s Word is my manna, My daily bread. The Holy Spirit guides me into all truth and gives me everything I need to live a godly life. God’s kingdom comes and His will is done one earth as it is in Heaven when we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness first.

When Moses communicated with God His face shone! It shone so brightly that he had to wear a veil to cover his face.

2 Corinthians 3:16 through 18 says, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

It only takes one sin to separate us from God! It only takes one sin to keep us from the promised land.

Today, I encourage you to look for the gospel when you read scripture. Even if you are reading in Leviticus, Numbers, Ezekiel, Song of Songs, or the book of Acts. At my church our pastors teach through books of the Bible and it seems like every Sunday, no matter what scripture passage we are studying, the message ALWAYS points to the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. The gospel is everything. JESUS is everything!

I also encourage you to acknowledge your sin and confess it to the Father. 1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Read some Biblically based historical Christian fiction. I love reading Biblical historical Christian fiction. It helps me to see scripture in a new light and connects passages of scripture and history for me in a way that makes the Bible even more alive to me. I recently read through the Out of Egypt series by Connilyn Cossette. You can check these books out at the Library:). This series was fun to read alongside the books of the Bible I’ve been reading.

Two other good series to read are The Lineage of Grace and Sons of Encouragement by Francine Rivers.

Finally, listen to the song “Only Jesus” that our 5-6 year olds did a dance to in our last year’s Lighthouse Dance Production of “Garden.”

Close Your Eyes and Open Your Ears


This week is parent observation week at Lighthouse Dance. I told our teachers before hand that something they may say in their devotional, a scripture they may share, or a worship exercise they do may not only minister to their students, but to the parents as well.

Monday night, in the middle of my daughter’s ballet class, Miss Abbey told her students to close their eyes and open their ears to what God had to say to them. I don’t remember what happened next in the class, whether they prayed or began stretching or what. My mind was fixed on  “Close your eyes and open your ears.”


Our theme for Lighthouse Dance this season is “Vision.” This theme is all about seeing. It’s about getting God’s vision for our lives, seeing from His perspective, and seeing beyond what we see with our physical eyes. It’s about fixing our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.   We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, asking God to heal both our physical and spiritual eyes.

Ultimately, we want our vision to be Jesus.

We “see” so many pictures every single day. We are bombarded by images, highlights, and sneak peaks into friends and strangers lives via social media. We are constantly presented with images of what our home should look like, what our children should look like, what we should look like whether on Pinterest, tv, movies, or magazines. We are constantly looking around us, making judgments based upon what we see.  I’ve even included images in this post:).


What if our ability to see beyond the physical depended upon our willingness to close our eyes? What if closing our eyes to the “images” around us made us able to truly see what God wants us to see?

I recently took a month long break from social media.  In closing my eyes to my Facebook and Instagram feed, I opened my eyes to the people right in front of me.


With less to look at on a screen, my children received more of my attention. I felt less stressed, more content, more at peace, and more connected to the people I spoke with, face to face.

Sometimes we have to close our eyes to the way things look around us in order to see things the way God sees them.  Difficulties in my relationships, work, or life circumstances can seem overwhelming when I see them with my own eyes, but when I close my eyes to my own vision, and see things through God’s vision, I see the impossible become possible and what is heavy become light.  I see His perspective.  I see His heart for people.  I HEAR His truth.

My sense of hearing gets strong when my eyes are closed.   The same could be said when I close my ears to sounds of distraction, the radio, podcasts while driving, or music, and instead embrace the silence. In silence I am more able to see what God wants me to see and hear what he wants me to hear.

Silence is not easy for me. I like noise. I like the sound of my children talking, playing and laughing. I love music while I’m cooking, podcasts while I’m driving, and even white noise while I’m sleeping. Complete silence makes me uncomfortable and is something I don’t experience often. But the Holy Spirit is convicting me and showing me the beauty of open ears to hear the Lord and open eyes to see him by embracing silence. This means both visual and audio silence.

My phone is my biggest distraction and prevailing source of distracting noise in my life. With it, I check and answer emails, I read texts, I check social media, I respond to event invitations, I do google searches, I get directions, I make phone calls, I plan my weekly menus, I listen to music and podcasts,  I take notes, schedule appointments, look up recipes, look up health concerns, track my period, and list goes on and on and can be done at any given hour of the day or of the night. My phone is a fabulous tool and help in my life, but every day, I NEED to close my eyes and my ears to my phone in order to hear God’s voice and see with His eyes.


Close your eyes and open your ears.  

My bathtub is a place where I hear God’s voice. When I bring my phone alongside my bath, I take away that sweet time for Jesus’ voice to speak to me and for me to receive His rest.

Car drives are a time when I hear God’s voice. When I constantly listen to the radio or my favorite podcast, I deny myself the opportunity to hear what Jesus has to say just to me.

When I check my social media pages in the middle of my Bible reading time, I communicate to the Lord that His Word isn’t enough for me.

When I’m always needing podcasts or music while I go on walks or hikes,  I’m missing out on the opportunity to pray.

God has used my phone and the things I come across on it to speak to me. No doubt about it!  The Holy Spirit encourages me in many different ways.  This isn’t an anti cell phone or anti social media post.  I choose music and podcasts and social media pages that feed my soul good food. However, NONE of those things can satisfy me like God’s word can.

I got a journaling Bible this summer in England. We stayed in Cornwall, England for Creation Fest.  There’s an artist from Cornwall who does scripture verse art with much of her art inspired by the Cornish countryside. Her artwork is sold at Creation Fest. My journaling Bible has her colorful artwork spread throughout. I started reading through the Bible again this fall and that break from social media helped me to get into God’s word see God’s Word more clearly.


God has been showing me His goodness and the power of the gospel throughout all of scripture, even through those “boring” books like Leviticus and Numbers.   When I close my eyes to “other things”, God’s Words brings life, becomes my desire, and speaks intimately to my spirit.

I want my vision to be Jesus.   I want what I am looking at, listening to, and filling myself with to point to Jesus. The Holy Spirit can use many creative things to point us to Jesus. This includes funny things, serious things, people, art, nature, science, and the list goes on and on.  I’ve been greatly impacted by  a variety of movies and books.   I feel joy, contentment and closeness to the Lord when I’m outside, in nature. Finding music for dances and dance classes is one of my favorite ways to connect with Jesus.


Sometimes, God asks me to close my eyes to certain things so that I grow deeper in my relationship with him and to protect me from sin. There have been multiple tv show series over the years that I’ve been in the middle of watching when the Holy Spirit has spoken to my heart and said, “Enough. No more. Give that up for me.” Ugh… Initially, I feel frustrated when that still small voice convicts me, but when, by God’s grace I choose to obey, I feel free and the obedience is only painful for a short time.

I want to hear what the spirit is saying!

Close your eyes and open your ears.   What is the Spirit saying to me? What does He want me to hear? Who does He want me to pray for? What scripture does He want me to meditate on? God is so gracious to speak in the midst of noise. He’s so good to speak to me even on those days when I check my phone while in the middle of reading His Word. He’s so good to never leave me, to never forsake me, even when I fall so short in fixing my eyes on Him.

God’s “no” is ALWAYS for a greater good.   Sometimes, He asks us to say “no” to good things. I get a lot out of movies, books, podcasts, and social media at times. But if He says, “Get into the quiet. Close your eyes to the distractions.” Then I want to obey, because I know in that obedience is great reward! The reward of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. The reward of knowing I am in the center of God’s will. The reward of knowing I am in communion with my Father and receiving his love with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart!


As a mom of 6 children, distraction is inevitable. My kids are 19, 17, 13, 10, 8, and 6. Life is FULL!   Full of distractions that come at all times of the day or night.  This is a driving reason for me to close my eyes and silence my ears to the things that God tells me to say “no” to.  I NEED to hear God’s voice.  I NEED His wisdom and understanding.  I NEED HIM!   I want to be present when my teenagers (yes, I have THREE teenagers now) come to me at 10:30 at night needing to share a struggle.   I want to be present when my 6 year old asks me to cuddle her before bed. I want to be present when I’m homeschooling each morning, or when I’m visiting with a friend. I want to be present with my husband when He needs my love and my attention.


I close my eyes so that I can see the people right in front of me.  

I don’t have this down. I don’t always close my eyes and open my ears. I am convicted even as I write this. This is something the Holy Spirit is currently speaking to my heart with a greater revelation given to me just three days ago!  I want to grow in this area because I deeply want eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand.  I want to follow Jesus and I want to help others to follow Him too.

So even though I’m not even close to having this down.  Here’s some things I have been doing to help me to close my eyes and open my ears.

  1. Most days, I keep my phone turned off until lunch time. I homeschool four of our children in the morning.   If I turn on that phone before lunch, I’m sure to get some text that distracts me and begs for my attention whether it’s work related or not. Keeping my phone turned off the first half of the day has done wonders in making me a more peaceful and present homeschooling mom.
  2. I keep my phone out of the bathroom. I felt like this was a huge request from the Lord to me over a year ago. My tub is my place of rest and renewal. I have failed in this multiple times over the past year, but for the most part I keep my primary form of distraction out of my bathroom so that I can better connect with God and rest.
  3. I’m not quick to respond to most texts or emails. If I’m in the middle of something with my husbands or kids, my response to a text can wait. Texting is fabulous. I love it, actually, but I am in control of my texting, not texting in control of me.
  4. I set time limits on my social media use on my phone. I have my time limit set for 20 minutes each day. It’s amazing how fast that 20 minutes goes!  I often click on that request option for 15 more minutes when my time is up, but setting a limit has certainly helped me from going overboard scrolling through my feeds.
  5. I know that when I’m tired or stressed I’m more likely to want to fill myself with images and sounds instead of embracing the silence and connecting with my Father. Knowing this helps me to turn to Jesus, my journal, and God’s Word even when my inclination is to distract myself.
  6. I open to hearing God say “No. When He I sense Him telling me to stop watching that tv series on amazon prime, stop reading that book, or to take a break from social media, I know that he must want to take me deeper. He has “YES” for me that is better than any pain that comes from His “no.”
  7. I read the Bible. God’s Word is life. I need it. You need it. We need it!   The primary way God speaks to us is through His Word. And anything we hear from God should be in accordance to His Word or it’s not from Him. The more of God’s Word that we hide in our hearts, the more we are able to hear the Holy Spirit speak. When I’m in times of dryness and I don’t feel like reading my Bible, I ask the Lord to give me a hunger and love for His Word again and He always does!   My journaling Bible has helped me to get hungry and dig in during this season!

Here are some things I want to do or do more of as I seek to close my eyes and open my ears:

  1. I want to embrace more silence. Whether that’s on a walk, driving, or just laying in bed before I go to sleep. I want to press through my uncomfortableness with silence and make myself at home there.
  2. I want to keep my phone out of hand and out of sight one day a week. Sunday could be a great day for this.
  3. I want to consistently choose to read a good book, journal, read THE Good Book, or connect with someone face to face when I’m stressed or tired and tempted to escape by scrolling through my phone.
  4. I want to be quick to listen and quick to obey. There’s so much joy in hearing God’s voice and doing what He says to do. I need to grow in quick obedience.
  5. I want to respond to what the Lord speaks to me through His Word. What in scripture might he be speaking to me for myself, and what might he want me to share with others to encourage them?
  6. I want to keep my phone out of hand and out of sight in the evenings when my younger children are gathered around me before bed.  I get the itch to get on my phone right around our kids’ bedtime and I think they know this.
  7. I want my prayer time to include more of me listening to Jesus and what He wants and says, then me just telling him all of my needs and concerns. He is worthy to receive all honor, glory, and praise. He is worthy to receive my eyes and ears and heart!


What might God be speaking to you? How may he be asking you to close your eyes and open your ears?

God wants to speak to YOU.

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9

For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” Psalm 78:1 

“Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.”  Psalm 119:37

“While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:15

“The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.”  Isaiah 50:4





Books – my slight obsession and what God is teaching me


I love books.  I love reading.  I am slightly obsessed with books and reading.  If I were to be a hoarder, I would hoard books. I don’t like giving away or getting rid of any books. My favorite store to be in is a bookstore.  My favorite gifts to receive are books.  As much as I love people and being around people, after times of socializing, I always feel the need to hide myself in my bathtub with a good book. Even in my busiest times of life, I still find time to read.  I love to read!!!

My love of reading began at a young age.  I remember my mom reading me Richard Scary books. They were my favorites, especially “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.”  I liked searching for Gold Bug and was amused by the funny vehicles like the banamobile and the pickle car.   A book called “The Best Loved Doll” was another favorite.   I enjoyed Little House on the Prairie, In Grandma’s Attic, Anne of Green Gables, and Frank Peretti’s Cooper Kids series  (Just to name a few).  When I was 11 years old my Great-Grandmother gave me an entire collection of Nancy Drew books. I read a book a day until I finished that collection.  For Christmas one year, I asked for some books by my favorite author at that time. My parents didn’t just get me a handful of books, but a boxed FILLED with books by this author.  I was thrilled!

I spent many nights reading well past my bedtime.  I would sleep with my bedroom door open and the hall light on, just so I could use the light from the hallway to read late into the night. Christian fiction was my favorite during my teen years.  I also loved my home school literature books, poetry, and history.  God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew and The Cross and the Switch Blade, by David Wilkerson were two books that influenced my walk with Jesus and stirred in me a passion for missions.

As I entered my 20’s I fell in love with Christian historical fiction like Broch and Bodie Theone’s books and Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion Trilogy and Lineage of Grace.  I attended Christian Life School of Theology for several years working towards my Masters degree.   In doing so, I had the joy of reading a non-fiction, topical or Biblical study book each month like Dutch Sheets Intercessory Prayer.  The books A Mother’s Touch and A Mother’s Time by Elise Arndt and The Power of Motherhood  by Nancy Campbell greatly influenced me as I began to raise children. The books The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O Martin and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, influenced me in my marriage and as a wife.  Smith Wigglesworth’s Biography Ever Increasing Faith inspired me to draw near to God and long for the move of His Holy Spirit.

As I entered my 30s,  I grew hungrier for educational and motivational books.  I love being inspired.  I love the way God uses other people’s experiences and writings to draw me closer to Himself and teach me things. Culture of Honor,  has been one of the most impactful books I’ve read in recent years.

As a homeschooling parent, reading with and to my children is the most important thing I do. Imparting a love for reading in my children is, in my opinion, the greatest educational gift I can give them. More about this to come in another blog post.


I am trying to de-clutter my house.  A part of that de-cluttering involves giving away some books.  This is very difficult for me!  I typically am in the process of reading several (okay maybe 10 or more) books at a time.  If I love a book, I’ll read through the whole thing in a few days.  If I don’t love it, I’ll read through the first two thirds of that book and then skim the remainder or just be done with it.  Sometimes,  I find a book I like and intend to read it, so I keep it in my pile of books by my bathtub and every so often pull it out and read a chapter or maybe few paragraphs.  My husband laughs at my ways of reading.  I start reading many more books than I actually finish.. (my husband also enjoys reading, but he starts and finishes one book at a time:))

Just for fun, I decided to take an inventory of the books I have recently finished reading or am currently reading.  I’ve got these books piled in various areas of my home.

My bathroom:  (my favorite place to read therefore the biggest stack of books)
Backyard Homestead – By Carleen Madigan
The Church in the Wilderness-Chip Brogden
You and Me Forever – Francis and Lisa Chan
Fervent – Pricilla Shirir
Staying Heathy with the Seasons – Elson  M. Haas
Bread and Wine – Shawna Niequist
Rooted – Banning Liebscher
No Little People – Francis Schaeffer
The Art of Homemaking – By Edith Schaffer
Mr.Brown Can Moo – By Dr. Suess and Kitty’s Clothes – By Amye Rosenberg(For my littles while I’m getting ready)
Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Qutations
And a few magazines – Coastal Living, Above Rubies, DoTerra Living
100 Days of Inspiration – Serene Allison, Pearl , Nancy Campbell,
Dreams – By Dr. Joe Ibojie

My Nightstand:
Keeping the Little in Your Girl -Dannah Gresh
Strongs Concordance
The Reese Chronological Bible
My favorite Bible
The Family Meal Table and Hospitality – By Nancy Campbell (I refer to this time and again for inspiration)
The Shofar Blew – Francine Rivers
30 Days of Praise – By Becky Harling
Why Still Care About Israel – By Sandra Teplinksy
Taking Charge of Your Fertility,The Definitive Guide to Natural Family Planning and Reproductive Health – Toni Weschler
A stack of journals

Current kitchen table books:
The Birchbark House – Louise Erdrich
Meet the Bible – Philip Yancey and Brenda Quinn
Various school books

Just so you know, in my de-cluttering, I moved a number of these books to our bookshelf, put a few in our give away box, and kept some right where they were stacked up by my tub, on my toilet, and by my bed.

My favorite books in the last calendar year, hence ones I have actually read all the way through are:

1) You and Me Forever – Marriage in Light of Eternity by Fancis and Lisa Chan
This book zoomed out my perspective on marriage. It challenged Eric and I to truly look at our marriage in Light of eternity. This book is not a feel good, easy read. It brought a healthy dose of conviction to our hearts and minds that provoked us to change. Our purpose is not to live the most comfortable stress free life we can possibly live. Our purpose is to glorify God and together fulfill the plans he has for us. This book was one of a number of things that helped prepare our hearts to start Lighthouse Dance. This book encouraged us to live adventurously for the sake of the gospel of Jesus!

2) Embracing Obscurity – Author Unknown
I actually read this book last year, but have referred to it often ever since. This is probably the most influential and timely book I have ever read.   Embracing Obscurity is so counter-cultural to our world and even the church world today.  Jesus is the ultimate example of humility and obscurity.  This book caused me to examine my heart and put into words so many things that I felt but was unable to articulate for myself.  I highly recommend you read this book!

3) Practicing His Presence – Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach
I read this book sometime during my teen years.  The writers of the letters in this book inspired me to continually practice the presence of God.  I want to think about Jesus constantly.  I want to pray without ceasing. Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach are two men who practiced the presence of the Lord in such a beautiful and powerful way!  Re-reading this book stirred up my passion for Jesus and desire to continually be in His presence.

4) Bread and Wine – Shawna Niequist
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  Each chapter was like a delicious meal.  I love Shawna’s writing style, the stories, the recipes, and the hospitality tips.  I felt inspired to make the most of our mealtimes, whether we have a simple meal of soup and bread, or a hearty meal with meat, potatoes, and a fancy dessert.  Her writing inspired me to be “me” when it comes to entertaining and cooking.  I recently pulled out my Nancy Campbell The Family Meal Table and Hospitality workbook for more inspiration regarding our family table.

5) And The Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler and In Search of the Source by Neil Anderson
I’m grouping these two books together because they are both about Bible Translation.  I read these books to our kids as read-a-loud books last school year.  I hope these books influenced our children.  I know they influenced me!  The stories from Bible translators made me realize to a whole new degree how precious the Word of God is.  These Bible translators laid down their lives to translate God’s Word to people groups who did not have scripture in their own languages.  I learned so much about the work of Bible Translators and have so much respect and admiration for them now!

Reading is AWESOME!  Reading books expands our knowledge, opens our eyes to the world around us, inspires us, challenges us, encourages us, entertains us, and oftentimes draws us closer to the heart of God.

The Lord has been speaking to my heart about the greatest book, the Bible.

About a week ago I asked myself the question, “If you were to die today, or if Jesus returned soon, would you feel satisfied with the amount of scripture you have read?  Do you feel like you know it as well as you hope to know it when you go to Heaven?”   The answer is a resounding NO.  I not happy with how well I know the Word.  I want to know it more.  I want to know God more.  I want to enter into eternity having a thorough knowledge of His story as found in His Word.

God’s Word is so full and so amazing that I could spend a thousand lifetimes studying it and still not see everything there is to be seen in scripture.  I only have one life time to study and I actually live in a generation and a place where I can study God’s Word.


We live in a generation where we have more access to scripture than any generation before us! The whole Bible and countless study resources are literally at our fingertips every day.  This should make us jump and dance and shout for joy!!!  We are SO blessed to live in a place and time where we can KNOW the Word of God!  To know God’s Word is to know God more.  Why than are we so complacent to really study it out for ourselves?

I waste so much time reading other books, looking at my Facebook feed, or watching Netflix. None of these things are bad in and of themselves,  but I can hear the Father asking me in this season of my life to choose His Word in place of these other things.

I’ve been slowly reading through the Bible again. I’m in 1st Chronicles right now.  As I read through the books of 1st and 2nd Kings I was like, “Whoah”  I don’t remember reading this before!  I was fascinated by the stories of the prophets Elijah and Elisha and learned so much about the Kings of Israel and Judah.  It’s like scripture has been coming alive to me and I’m seeing important truths in stories that I never saw before.

Reading God’s Word on a regular basis stirs up a hunger for more of His Word!  The more I read, the hungrier I get.  The less I read, the more complacent I get.  

Earlier this week I read through a book about prophecy. (I love seeing people use the gift of prophecy and I desire to grow in that area.)  It is a newer book, filled with some stinking amazing stories, and I didn’t want to put the book down. The book had fantastic reviews and though awesome in many ways, I didn’t see it being rooted in scripture. There was scripture in the book, but some of what was there was quoted incorrectly and twisted to fit the point the author was making.  While I took away some good things from the book, the lack of adherence to the totality of God’s word made feel sick, so I threw the book in the garbage (something I’ve done maybe three or four other times in my life.)

I’m now halfway through reading the book Rooted by Banning Liebscher (Founder and Pastor of Jesus Culture).  This book is GOOD!  It’s all about being rooted in Christ and what that process looks like.  He writes a lot about being rooted in scripture.

“If we don’t have our roots in Scripture, we are going to be in serious trouble when peer pressure comes against us to tell us what ‘truth’ is.  Before we know it, we’re going to wake up and realize that at some point we stopped following Jesus and started following the voice of the crowd.  If we are not only to resist the peer pressure and influence of the kingdom – which is our mandate – then we must put our roots down deep in the Word.”


God is asking us to be ready, to live ready for His coming.  To live ready for what he’s called us to do on this earth.  To live ready to speak a word, give a gift, or to receive someone he wants to send to us.  He wants us to live ready to live and live ready to die.  He wants us to know Him. He wants us to know His heart and to hear His voice.  He’s given us His Word and His Word is ALIVE!

God wants us to read, chew on, and digest His word.  He also wants us to live it.

Right now, God’s asking of me to live His Word means he’s asking me to search my heart. My prayer has been, search me Oh God and know my heart.  Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.  He keeps showing me things I need to repent of, showing me areas of my heart that aren’t surrendered to Him.  God is so kind and He is so good.

We live in some crazy times.  Crazy good in many ways and crazy bad in many ways.  Now is the time to be rooted in Christ!  Now is the time to be rooted in HIs Word!  God is asking me to get more and more rooted in His word.  He’s asking me to get into the secret place and read the Bible more than I have ever done before.  He’s asking me to put away all of those other books and snuggle up close to Him.

My husband and I started Lighthouse Dance this past summer.  We strongly desire this dance ministry to bring glory to God!  Lighthouse Dance is the fruit of many prayers and a vision God placed in our hearts many, many years ago, a vision for missions and arts ministry.  We didn’t know what it would look like and where it would be, but now that Lighthouse Dance is here, our hearts feel full and settled and rejoicing in this new beginning.

There is something about stepping into a new season and entering into a new ministry that causes you to seek the face of God.  My fear of the Lord has increased greatly over the past six months.  I realize that Jesus is our source.  He is our way, truth, and life.  He is the foundation of Lighthouse Dance and the builder of the ministry.  More than ever before, I want to be His, rooted and grounded in His word.  I don’t know the years to come are going to look like.  I don’t know all of God’s plans for our lives, our family, and Lighthouse Dance.  I want to live ready!  I want to live in His Word and I want to live out HIs Word.


I encourage you to ask the Lord to search your heart.  Ask him to show you areas of your heart that you need to surrender to Him.  Whenever He asks us to surrender it is for our good and HIs glory.

I encourage you to read God’s Word!  Join me in forsaking other “loves” to pursue the greatest love.   If you don’t like to read, then listen.  There are plenty of Bible apps with audio versions. It’s ok to start small.  Read and meditate on one verse a day or one chapter a day. Listen to preachers like Alistair Beggs who preach through the Bible expositorily.  Ask God to give you a hunger.  When you ask him to give you a hunger for His Word, He will!  He will give you a hunger and then He will satisfy your hunger.

Get an accountability partner.  A friend and I recently started reading through the book of Psalms.  We read one psalm a day and then text each other what stood out to us in each Psalm. This has been so good for me and is helping me to grow!


2 Timothy 3:16
“All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

Psalm 119:1-16
“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord;
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
16 I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.”

Psalm 119:105
“Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

Matthew 24:35
“Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Hebrews 4:12
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

John 1:14-17
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

Psalm 1:2-3
“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-14
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontalson your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10 “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shallworship Him and swear by His name. 14 You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you..”



How to manage (and CONQUER) the daily stresses of being a mom while staying sane

IMG_6583Recently, I asked my 13 year old daughter, “What do you think I do to stay sane as I mother you children and manage the daily stresses of our household?”  She laughed and immediately said, “You take baths.”

This may seem like a strange answer to such a complex question, but it’s actually the first thing that came to my mind when I asked myself that question just a few minutes before asking Emmy.

“What does taking baths have to do with managing a household and staying sane in the process?”

My days are probably like yours;  school, chores, and  extra-curricular activities like dance and gymnastics.  We have church, small group, youth group, grocery shopping, doctor and dentist visits, trips to the library, and play dates with friends.   I try to prioritize exercise, dates with my hubs, and keeping a semi-clean house.   I’ve been seeking simplicity and a slower pace of life, but life with children is BUSY!  There’s no way around it.

Definitions for busy include the following:

Having a great deal to do.  Occupied with or concentrating on a particular activity or object of attention.  Full of activity.  Excessively detailed or decorated; fussy.  Engaged.  To keep occupied. Sustaining much activity.  Cluttered with detail to the point of being distracted. Being in use. Having many things to do.

I can’t read through that list of definitions and think of one mother who is NOT busy.  We are ALL busy.

How do we manage and conquer the day to day tasks at hand?

I became a mother sixteen years ago with the pregnancy of our firstborn, Josiah.  I remember carrying bags of groceries up three flights of stairs to our un-air-conditioned apartment in the heat of summer.  I remember lying on our bed dreaming of the son I was carrying in my womb. When Josiah was born, my whole word seemed to revolve around him.  I was captivated by every facial expression, every sound, and every new thing he did.   I embraced motherhood and continuously asked God for help.


The day Emmy was born, I went grocery shopping at Walmart.  I had done a full weeks worth of shopping, was carrying those groceries up the stairs to our second story condo when I felt something in my body start to happen, signifying the onset of labor for our baby girl.

I remember feeling afraid that I would not love our new baby as much as I loved Josiah.  The moment I held Emmy in my arms, all fear washed away as I was overcome with love.


One night shortly after Emmy was born as I was awake feeding her and soothing her cries, I felt so exhausted and overwhelmed.  I started to cry, thinking, “how can I do this?”  “How can I be a mother?”   I called my mom the next morning and told her how overwhelmed I felt.  She assured me that with God as my strength, I could take care of my children, and I could do it with joy. She encouraged me and reminded me that I should embrace this precious time with my newborn girl awake in the night.  It would pass so quickly.

My mom was right.

Isabelle came when Emmy was almost four years old.  Until that point Eric and I had been actively involved in our churches’ young marrieds ministry.  When Isabelle was born, we were thrilled, and we were also exhausted.  I couldn’t even fathom continuing to lead the young married’s small group we had previously been leading.  We left the young married ministry and focused on thriving with our new family of five.


When Isabelle was two-and-a half, Judah was born.  Judah was full of the most amazing, heart melting smiles, but he was also especially difficult for me in his early years of life.  He was that child who would throw tantrums in the grocery store so bad that I had to leave.  He threw many fits and challenged me every day.  Judah is a strong willed, determined boy!  I struggled with feeling so much love for Judah and also so much frustration.  (Judah is still strong and determined, but he is also full of sweetness, generosity, and creativity with his fits now fewer and farther between.)


We had FOUR children.  Life was full, challenging, and fun.

We thought we were done having children from my womb.  I gave away almost all of my maternity and baby clothes with the exception of a few keepsakes. We had a dream to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.  Shortly after being accepted into an adoption program, my husband and I went through a difficult time in our marriage.

We had to contact our adoption agency and let them know that we wouldn’t be continuing the process. I was so grieved.  I  wondered how I could manage our home, homeschooling, and caring for our four children as we worked through all that we needed to work through.  God was so faithful, and we did the work we needed to do.  After a difficult and beautiful year of counseling and healing, we got pregnant with baby number five, child of grace, Tirzah Raelle.

With the birth of Tirzah came a joy in motherhood that I hadn’t yet known.   Going from four children to five felt so natural.  Life didn’t feel crazier, it felt calmer.  Tirzah means, “she is my delight.”  We all truly delighted in Tirzah and in our growing family.


When Tirzah was about eighteen months old, my husband brought up the question of whether or not we wanted more children.  I did NOT feel ready.  LOL!   But Eric did:).  We talked about all of our reasons for not wanting another child and decided they were foolish reasons.   The next month Ruthie was in my womb!

I was so sick in my early pregnancy.  Sick with nausea and also a nasty cold/cough that I couldn’t kick.  I was so sick that I slept in our guest room just so I could cough without waking anyone else up.  I questioned my ability to have another child.  I felt angry, despairing, and less than happy about being pregnant.

During one of those difficult nights I had a dream.  I dreamed that I was giving birth to our baby. I saw myself give birth to a baby girl.   I woke up and knew in my heart that I was pregnant with a girl!  That afternoon I took a bath and poured out my heart in prayer for our baby.   I asked God who she was and what she would be like.  I asked him for her name.   I heard the name RuthAnne.

I cried and cried with joy when I heard her name because I KNEW that is who she was and that my Father had just named her.   I told Eric that I dreamed our baby was a girl and that God had given me her name.  He asked the name, but I wouldn’t tell him.  I told him that if the name was from God, he was going to give it to Eric too.

Shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night, Eric heard the name Ruth Anne, and then he saw the name RuthAnne as one name.   A few days later I asked him if he had heard a name and he told me that he had.   I rejoiced in the Lord when he told me that he had heard and seen the name “RuthAnne”!   God is good and God is REAL!!!


When Ruthie was born we quickly adjusted to being a family of eight!

We now have two teenagers, a nine year old, a seven year old, a four year old, and a two year old. Life is full, busy, challenging, and crazy good!  Praise the Lord!!!

How do I manage and conquer the day to day tasks at hand? 

I take baths!

Every day I take a bath. Sometimes I don’t get there until 11:00 at night, but I get there.

In my bath I have quiet time.  I read.  I pray.  I dream, and I contemplate my days.  I think through and pray through things that are troubling me.  I ask God for help.  I read God’s Word. I enjoy myself with tea, bubbles, and books.  It’s my time to be Melissa, daughter of God, bride of Christ.  I cry in my bathtub.  I laugh in my bath tub.  I get angry in my bathtub, and I relax in my bath tub.

I get out of that tub, ready for sleep and for a new day.

It’s really not so much about the tub as it is the the quiet time with the Lord. 

This time alone with the Lord, in His Word, in prayer, and in reading good books refreshes me.   This time keeps me sane.

No “how to” matters without these daily times of refreshing with Jesus.

Every “how to” comes from Jesus.

I understand that mothering is a high calling.

I asked my husband Eric the question, “What do you think I do to stay sane as I manage our household and children?”  He thought for a minute and then said, “You realize the high calling of motherhood.”

Ever since becoming a mother,  I have been greatly encouraged by my own mother(who takes a minimum of one bath a day), two books written by my mother’s mentor called “A Mother’s Touch” and “A Mother’s Time,” and by a ministry called “Above Rubies.

The ministry of Above Rubies has helped me to understand that as I mother my children I am doing the greatest kingdom work.   I am serving, pouring out my life, and loving the way Jesus taught us how to love.  I realize I am not alone in this great job of mothering.  I need continually encouragement from the example of other godly mothers!

As I embrace motherhood, all the mundane tasks of mothering become less stressful and much more manageable!  I realize how important, and how honoring to God my role as a wife and mother is.  I see the eternal value of being a mother.  I love being a wife and mother even in the midst of chaos!

I know chaos.  I experience stress.   I know what it’s like to feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  I find my joy and my strength in Jesus and I fill myself with encouragement from His Word and from other women who also embrace and delight in motherhood.


So what are some “how to” tips for managing and conquering those daily stresses of being a mom? 

1. Take baths everyday, meaning get alone with God, pray, relax, and feed on His Word.

2. Breathe and smile and sing… When you’re in a hurry trying to get out the door and you can’t find any matching socks for your kids, and then you realize you also can’t find them matching shoes because they left them in the van the day before…Then your four year old starts crying that she’s hungry as you spill the tea you intended to bring in the van on yourself…..At that same moment your toddler tells you she pooped. You hurry to change her but you can’t find the diaper wipes so you use paper towels instead….Ok, now your ready to go, but then your thirteen year old remembers that she forgot to let out the chickens.  You look around your kitchen and feel frustrated because your sink is full of dishes that you didn’t get a chance to wash, and there’s a pile of crumbs on the floor that you didn’t get to sweep up…..Then your seven year old loses his first tooth by it literally, randomly flying out of his mouth as he’s heading out the door……Then you realize that you left your cell phone on your bathroom sink so you run to get it, meanwhile your older kids are getting frustrated because you are going to be late to wherever it is you are going.  You finally get into your van when your nine year old realizes she left her back pack by the front door so she runs back into the house to get it….You look back at your beautiful children, but not before noticing how messy your van is and think to yourself  ‘We really need to clean this van, it is disgusting.’ You sigh one of your frustrated sighs as your nine year old enters the van with her back pack and buckles up… You’re now ready to go.  You turn on the radio, say a prayer, and breathe.   You sing and you smile and you pray as you drive even though getting out of the door was so crazy and you are now going to be late to wherever it is you’re going.


3. Include your children in your day to day tasks.  I think it’s safe to say that unless you are home alone, it is impossible to cook a meal much less use the bathroom without being interrupted by your children.  I’ve learned to include my children in meal making.  I’ve often worn a baby in the Ergo, while having toddler next to me on a stool or sitting on our kitchen counter while I cook.  They love watching me and helping me cook.   The irritation that may come from having them so close while cooking is well worth it in the long run.  I now have three older children who love to cook and bake!  I no longer have to cook every meal, because my children are capable and eager to cook.  Teach your kids how to clean and help when they are young!

4. Let things go! You won’t get everything you want to get done, done in a day.   At least, I rarely do.  Yesterday, I wanted to clean my pantry, go on a walk, wash my kitchen floor, and read-a-loud to my kids.  I didn’t get that walk in, nor did I wash my kitchen floor, BUT I did clean my pantry, take a nap with Ruthie, and read to my kids.  Ask the Lord to show you what needs to be prioritized in your day and don’t fret over what you didn’t get done.


5. Take care of your body.  Mothers, especially need to eat healthy, try to get good sleep (often this is difficult when we have young babies) and exercise.  It’s easy to think we are too busy or stressed out to make healthy choices for our bodies, but these things make a world of difference when it comes to managing daily stress.   I’m a fan of cutting refined sugar and processed foods out of my diet.  I feel SO much better when I engage in regular exercise like dance, quick 15 minute circuit workouts in my family room, or walks with my kids. Sleep seems to always be a struggle for me as I love staying up late and I’ve had a baby or toddler for most of my married life:).

6. Make love with your husband. What’s making love got to do with it?  A lot!  If you find yourself getting cranky and stressed out, try getting jiggy with your man.  A big “O” can do wonders for your mood, sleep, and relationship with your husband.  You don’t have to be “in the mood” to make love with your husband.  We mamas are not often “in the mood” after a long day of taking care of kids, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of making love.  Go for it, get it started, and the results will help keep you sane.

7. Don’t journey through motherhood alone.   We need help as we mother our children. We need older women who have “been there and done that” to encourage us and teach us. We need friends who will pray for us.  We may need someone to cook a meal for us, help us clean, or babysit our children.   It is important for us to reach out to other women, especially when we are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.   It is important for us to immerse ourselves in truth and encouragement. Ask for help and ask for prayer!!!


8. Consider the needs of others.  When you are feeling overwhelmed, think of people in your life who are going through a trial and pray for them, send them a text, or give them a call. Sometimes we can get so focused on our own struggles, that we forget about the struggles of the people around us.  Choose to consider the needs of others and you’ll find your own trials seeming less painful.  Every day brothers and sisters around the world experience the same difficulties we do.  We are never alone….

9. Have FUN and practice gratitude!!! What brings you joy?  What do you have fun doing? Painting, running, watching movies, playing board games, dancing, hiking, or eating out?  What are you thankful for?  Beautiful sunsets, coffee, dandelion bouquets, chocolate, the smell of rain?  Just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we stop having fun.  I kinda think moms have the potential to have the most fun of anyone in the world.  Gratitude for all the little things makes life as a mom way more fun.  Do the things you love to do and be grateful every single day!



The Virtuous Wife (and mom)

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.

This Proverbs 31 woman was a busy gal.  She worked hard in many areas as she took care of her family. Ultimately, what caused her husband and children to praise her was not her beauty or her success, but her fear of the Lord.

Love God above all else!  Put Jesus first and you’ll stay sane and CONQUER the daily stresses of life!








The Blessings of a Messy House


Home is my favorite place.   I love home.   I love the days when I have no where to go, no place to be, but just in my home with my husband and children.  I long for my home to be a place of joy and peace.  I pray that my children will have happy memories of our home and the time shared together here.  I want people to feel welcomed, loved, and encouraged after spending time in my home.

I want to have an organized, clean, beautiful home, but I often struggle with feeling discouraged by how messy and NOT organized my home is.

Laundry is never all done and put away.  The 8 of us produce a lot of laundry!  The moment one load is finished, there is another load to start.  I barely keep up.  (I’m guilty of forgetting to put clothes from the washer into the dryer and the result is sour, stinky feet smelling clothes and towels.  Am I the only one who has done this?!!!)

Toys are everywhere.   We’ve got blocks, baby dolls, puzzles, cars, books, stuffed animals, art supplies, you name it….

We have a lot of shoes.  With each person owning a minimum of 4 pairs of shoes (flip flops, sneakers, boots, and dress shoes)  that adds up to 32 pairs of shoes.


I tend to toss things in drawers and randomly put things away in my cupboards. So even though the dishes are all done, the table and counter clean,  I still feel disorganized.

Dusting is low on my cleaning priority list, and I’m not the best at cleaning crevices and corners.

My house can go from neat and straightened up to disastrous in a matter of minutes.  Literally, 5 minutes is all it takes.

There is always at least one living space  in our home at any given moment that I would feel embarrassed to have visitors see if they arrived without warning.

Several months ago, I was feeling so frustrated by my never clean enough house.  The books, toys, laundry, and randomness of stuff felt overwhelming and annoying.   Our kids would often hear me sigh and express frustration over our messy house.  One morning, in the midst of my frustration, the Lord spoke to me through His Word.

I came across Proverbs 14:4, “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”  

A barn without animals is much cleaner than a barn with animals.   But what good is a barn without those animals?  Sure, you can store stuff in a barn, but that is not what a barn is for. What good is a feeding trough without those oxen?  If you don’t have any oxen, you don’t have to clean that trough, or clean that barn, but you won’t have the increase, the harvest, and the profit that can only come by the help of those animals.

My house would probably be cleaner if I didn’t have kids.  I wouldn’t have as much laundry to do.  Dishes wouldn’t get so piled up.   I wouldn’t have toys laying around or little fingerprints on my windows and doors.   But just the thought of my home without children brings tears to my eyes and a pit in my stomach!

My home is not meant to be empty.  It is meant to be filled!  Filled with children, filled with family, filled with neighbors, friends and memories.  With the filling of people comes some mess!  Sometimes a lot of mess.

Laundry, dishes, shoes, dust, and toys, are normal happenings of a living home.   We cannot escape this kind of mess and that is ok!  We aren’t going to look back on our life and think about our messy house (at least I sure hope not!) We are going to think about our family, our friends, relationships we built and memories we created.


The mess that comes with being a mom is so, so, so good!  It’s a sign of life and fruitfulness.  As I walked past my coffee table the other day, I noticed that it was covered in books.  Toddler books, family photo albums, school books, and a couple of toys.  My first thought was, “ugh…look how messy my coffee table is.  I need to clean it up, sigh…irritation….frustration.” But then, I thought,”Awe…how blessed I am to have children.  I have children who live in our home and enjoy these books. I’m going to be thankful as I look at this messy coffee table, because one day our children will grow up and leave this house, and I am going to miss them.”  After changing my way of thinking, I felt joy and gratitude looking at that mess instead of frustration.

Psalm 113:9 says, “He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!”   I love this verse and the reminder that comes with it!  

When we have friends over to our home, often times there are extra dishes to wash after they leave, more crumbs to sweep up, or more toys to put away. This is a result of a blessing! Time shared with others even if it results in extra mess, is worth it.   It means we are cultivating friendships, being hospitable, and enjoying life with other people.

Romans 12:9-13 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal,be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (ESV)  

The New King James Version says, “be given to hospitality,”   We can show love to others through our hospitality.  We can honor others through our hospitality,

Hebrews 13 1-2 says, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”   Wow!!!

I am always so blessed when people invite my family to their home.  I feel loved and honored and grateful for their kindness.   It doesn’t matter if their house is perfectly cleaned or not.   The fact that they are willing to open their home and minister to my family through hospitality, is a wonderful gift that brings joy to our lives!

I still experience frustration over my messy house even though I’ve read and meditated on Proverbs 14:4.  Even so, I can confidently say that I am learning to embrace the mess.   I am also learning how to get rid of some mess so that my home is that peaceful, joyful, orderly place I want it to be.

Your level of clean. 

We all have different levels of clean or unclean that we feel comfortable with in our homes.   Some of us like things REALLY clean.  Some of us feel better with a little clutter here and there.   Some of us have orderly closets, cupboards, and toys tucked neatly away.  For others of us, every drawer in our house is a “junk” drawer and we actually prefer a more messy, lived in feel. Every woman is different.  We all have different personalities, likes and dislikes so our houses are all going to reflect those differences.  This is great and as it should be!

Regardless of our individual preferences concerning a clean house, we should ALL work to make our home a place where our husband, children, and guests feel comfortable, cared for, and loved. While we all need to embrace “normal” mess, some of us may need to step it up in our cleaning to make our home that wonderful place, and some of us may need to back down and allow for a little more dirt…


I have a lot to learn and implement when it comes to caring for my home.   I am not even close to being an expert on this topic, but here are some things I have learned that work for us.

  1. De-clutter!  Less is More!  Less stuff means less mess, less stress, and more time to play, read, and do the things with our children that we really want to do.  I keep an on-going give away bag.  We regularly donate items to the ARC.   If you haven’t worn it in a year, give it away. if you rarely use it, give it away.  If your child doesn’t play with it, someone else will and trust me, your kids won’t even miss it.  Simplifying is the number one thing the Lord is teaching me right now when it comes to housekeeping.   It is freeing to go through my house and let go of stuff we don’t use,  we don’t like,  or we rarely need!
  2. Keep a sock basket.   We have SO many socks in our family.  We used to sort and roll socks and deliver them to each persons’ room when we did laundry.  Somehow this resulted in socks always missing and it seemed like no one could ever find a matching pair when they needed one.  So now, we sort and match socks and put all except for my husbands (his go in his dresser) into a big laundry basket that we keep in our laundry room. Now, we all can always find a matching pair of socks when we need one and there’s much less sock clutter in our house.
  3. Invest in some Norwex cleaning supplies.  This chemical free method of cleaning is the best.   Our kids clean their own bathrooms using Norwex clothes.  I especially like my Norwex floor cleaning system.   I rarely use cleaning sprays because Norwex is so easy and effective to use.  My mom sells Norwex.  You can learn more and purchase products here.
  4. Have specific days for specific chores.  We don’t stick to this 100% of the time, but we try to make Monday our laundry day, Tuesday bathrooms, Wednesday more laundry, Thursday cleaning out the Van, Friday floors and big overall clean up, and Saturday yard work day. This helps take away some of the complaining that comes with asking our kids to do chores. When they know what is expected of them on any given day, they are more inclined to get it done without me asking, and less inclined to complain when I give them a reminder to get their chores done.
  5. Do quick family clean ups.  We do this every day.   We all “speed clean”  the main level, loft, basement, or whatever room(s) need the most cleaning.   We often do this right before dinner.  We all work together as quick as we can to get things straightened up. Many hands make light work.
  6. Teach your children young.  My children start doing chores from the time they can walk. They put away toys, help empty the dishwasher, help clean windows, and help put away laundry.  As they get older they may be responsible for taking out the trash, caring for our animals, cleaning their own bathroom, vacuuming floors, doing laundry, or washing dishes. Chores are a good thing.  They teach our children responsibility, teamwork, servanthood, and diligence.  Our children need to know that they have a part to play in making our household run well.
  7. Give each child a special box.  Our children each have their own plastic storage container in which to keep things that are particularly special to them.  These may be cards, certificates, toys, clothing, or artwork.  We keep these special boxes stored out of reach and add to them only when they have something really meaningful to add.
  8. Be hospitable.  Fill your home with people.  Having people in your home is great motivation to clean.  We do a more thorough cleaning when we know company is coming over.
  9. Cultivate gratitude.    When I was a child, I would often complain about doing housework, especially intense, pre-company housework.   My mom would tell me to be thankful that I could walk and see and that I had hands and arms that could do work!   We need to be thankful for the homes that we have, no matter how big or how small, and teach or children to be thankful too!

Titus 2:3-5 says, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”  

We need to encourage each other in the wonderful job we have as mothers and keepers of a home.   Older women especially need to encourage younger women.   We need the wisdom, advice, and help of others as we seek to make our homes the place God wants them to be.

The greatest kingdom work can happen in our home!

Jesus said, ““You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 10:43-45)

This perspective can bring us joy and freedom in our role as wives and mothers!   We have the joy of serving our husband, children, friends, and even strangers through the work we do in our home.   When we wash dishes, do the laundry, make good meals, we are doing the greatest work in the kingdom!   We are serving!!!   Ultimately, we are serving Christ!


When we keep a clean home no matter how big or how small, we are providing a place for kingdom work.  So often we think that a church building is the center for kingdom work. While in many ways this can be true,  (I love worshipping in my church building with other brothers and sisters), kingdom work should happen wherever we are, all throughout our week.   Many churches around the world meet in homes.   Many of the early churches of Christianity met in homes.

At the beginning of Romans chapter 16 Paul greets a number of people from different churches in Rome.  He greets Pricilla and Aquilla and the church that meets in their home.   This is awesome!   Our church has small groups that meet in homes.  We share a meal with other families and then study scripture together and pray for each other.   The people who host these times of fellowship are serving Christ as they serve others by opening their homes.  I am so grateful for them!

This past weekend we visited some friends from Cheyenne.  They invited us to have lunch with them.  They also invited a friend of theirs from Asia who is currently attending CSU to join them.  We enjoyed a Mexican meal together in their home.  This family welcomes the nations into their home!  I was inspired as I watched my friend and her family serving and loving this young man from Asia while at the same time loving and serving my family and providing an opportunity for kingdom work.


Our temporary, earthly homes are just that. Temporary and earthly.  Heaven is our eternal home.  But when our earthly homes are dedicated to the Lord they become places of rest, refreshing, joy, ministry, hospitality, love, evangelism, discipleship, accountability, laughter, redemption, and so much more!

I encourage you to dedicate your home to the Lord.  My home is not a perfect place and yours will not be either.  My home is not immaculately clean. It is not always free from strife, sin, or sorrow, but I thank God for my home and acknowledge that it belongs to Him.   I thank Him for the opportunity to serve from and in my home, and I pray that I will grow in that thankfulness and servanthood with every passing day.

I believe that when we look at our homes from a kingdom perspective we will be more inclined to hospitality.   We will be more inclined to keep our home clean, to rejoice in cooking and cleaning, and we will be eager to entertain others.   When we acknowledge that our homes belong to the Lord we will see Him do great things!

Ask the Lord how you can serve Him with your home.   Ask Him how you can better serve your husband and children,  Ask Him who he wants you to welcome into your home for a meal, for a time of prayer, or for a time of fun and games and then invite them to your home.  No matter how big, or how small, your home can be a place of ministry.

May God help all of us to embrace the blessing of a beautifully, messy house that comes from having children and being hospitable! 




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Will You Trust Me?


“Will you trust me?”   I’ve heard this question often, especially in recent months.  My family has been through a significant season of change.  We left a church we loved and called home for 18 years.  We left a ministry that we had poured our heart and soul into.  We surrendered hopes and dreams, plans and desires to the Lord because we knew He was asking us to.   After months of prayer and for many reasons, we knew the Lord was leading us to “step out of the boat”…. The decision to step out of the familiar comfort of the known into the unknown is not easy, (it’s actually very, very difficult) even when you know it is what you need to do.  I like to have answers.  I like to have a plan.  I like to know where I am going, what I am going to do when I get there, and what I need to do to be prepared….but right now, I don’t know all the wheres and whats, but I “trust” my Heavenly Father’s plan.

My Heavenly Father is asking me to rest and wait patiently for Him. He’s asking me to commit my way to Him. He’s asking me to delight myself in Him.  He’s asking me to dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.  He is leading me beside green pastures and quiet waters.  He’s restoring my soul.

Three months ago, the kids and I were walking in our ditch to see a fort Judah had made. (We have a big ditch that runs through our land.  Usually it’s dry, but because of all the rain we had, our ditch became a little creak all spring.  It was great fun for our kids to explore and play in the water.) As we were walking, we came across a balloon caught in one of our bushes.  It looked like a balloon from a baby shower, and it had writing on it.   I picked it up and began to read aloud the messages written on this balloon.  On one side was written,  “Our Angel Baby Haven.” On the other side were messages from a mommy and daddy who had lost their baby boy. Their baby had died and they were releasing him in their hearts by releasing this balloon into the sky.

My kids and I immediately felt grieved and began to pray for this mommy and daddy.  We prayed that God would comfort their hearts.  We prayed that they would come to know Jesus. We prayed that they would be encouraged and strengthened and surrounded by love in their time of grief.  Judah ran to our house to tell Eric about the balloon we found, the baby who died, and the parents who needed prayer.   Judah let go of the balloon and when he did, it floated to the top our family room ceiling.   I thought to myself, “This is kind of strange…to have this balloon, a symbol of death and letting go, resting in the peak of my vaulted ceiling.  Why Lord?”

We decided we would pray for those parents every day until the balloon lost its air and came down.  I decided not to view the balloon as a strange presence in my house, but as a sweet reminder to pray.  That night, as I pulled out the book I was in the middle of reading I realized it was entitled, “Bridge to Haven.”   This novel, written by Francine Rivers is a prodigal son sort of story.  The main character in this book leaves home to pursue love and fame only to find herself hurt, broken, ashamed, and without hope.  She comes to know Christ, He redeems her life , brings her back to Haven and makes all things new.   Jesus is her bridge to Haven.

This got me thinking about “Haven.”  Haven means, “a place of safety or refuge.”  True safety and refuge can only be found in Jesus.

When we put our trust in Him, we find refuge for our souls.

The next morning we learned that a close friend of ours had a miscarriage.  We cried for this family.   We grieved the loss of the dreams that these parents had for this baby.   We prayed for them, asking the Lord to comfort them and strengthen their hearts.  When I looked up and saw the balloon for baby Haven, I thought of these dear friends and prayed for them as well.

“Why God?”

“Will you trust me?

When I was 12 years old, my father gave me a poster with a picture of a strong hand holding onto the ropes of a swing.  A girl is sitting on the swing, her long blond hair blowing behind her, a huge smile on her face.   Written across the poster behind the swinging girl is written Proverbs 3:5-7 in small print.  At the top of the poster is written, “Will you trust me?”   At the bottom of the poster my dad wrote, “The heavenly Father is fully trustworthy.”

All growing up and into my adult years I’ve struggled with fear.   All sorts of fears.  I knew God’s love, but still I struggled with fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of what might happen, fear of what might not happen.  Learning to allow God’s perfect love to cast out fear and learning to trust in the Lord has brought tremendous joy and freedom in my life.

We all need to trust God every single day.   None of us have all of the answers.  None of us knows what a day may bring.  We ALL go through seasons of change, sickness, hardship, death, trials, and challenges that can either lead us to a deeper trust in our Heavenly Father or cause us to push Him away.  In those seasons of life when we realize how much we need Jesus, how much we need to trust the Lord, we don’t have to be disheartened.  We don’t have to be discouraged or depressed or fearful.   Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.”

I am blessed as I trust in the Lord!  I am happy as I trust in Him!   I may have moment of tears.  I may have moments of pain or fear or doubt.  But over all of those moments, greater than any loss, is the wonderful knowledge that my life is held in my Father’s hand.  My heart belongs to Jesus. He is trustworthy.  He is faithful.   He is the God who redeems and provides and fulfills and satisfies. I can smile at the future!  I can laugh at times to come!

Noah trusted God and built an ark.

Abraham trusted God and offered up Isaac.

Moses trusted God and went before Pharaoh.

Joshua trusted God and marched around Jericho.

Daniel trusted God and faced the lions.

Esther trusted God and went before the king.

David trusted God and saw his enemies defeated.

Hosea trusted God and married a harlot.

Mary trusted God and carried His Son.

Jesus trusted God and said, “Not my will, but Yours.”

Countless men and woman trust God every day and lose their lives.  They die for the sake of the gospel. They die for Jesus.  Some die a living death.  They daily take up their cross and follow Jesus. They surrender their lives to Jesus and allow Him to transform them into His image.  This living death can be painful!

Some die a physical death.  Every year, thousands of people around the world are persecuted or martyred for their faith in Christ. This has become all to real in the past year with images of the beheadings of believers broadcast all over the internet.  We have brothers and sisters around the world who put their trust God knowing that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

I love the story of Peter.  Jesus asked Peter to follow him.  Peter, who was a fisherman, left his nets and he followed Jesus. This rough and gruff, outspoken dude who, like each of us was seriously flawed and imperfect, left everything.  He left his boats, his nets, his livelihood and IMMEDIATELY followed Jesus.   He knew the voice of His Father.  He knew the voice of the one who called His name.   Peter didn’t know where he was going.  He didn’t know what he was going to do or say, but He knew WHO he was going to follow.   This Peter would one day walk on water.  This Peter would one day be a fisher of men.  This Peter, who often did the wrong thing and said the wrong thing would stand with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration and be the first to preach the good news on the day of Pentecost.  This Peter who denied Christ 3 times would one day give his life for Jesus by dying a martyrs death, hung upside down on a cross.   Peter trusted God.  Peter’s life was transformed!

How is God asking you to trust him?  What is he asking you to do?  What is he asking you to surrender to Him?  Will you trust him enough to give Him your life?  Will you trust him enough to let go of that thing you are holding onto.  Will you trust Him enough to believe that His Word is perfect, true, and infallible?  Will you trust Him enough to free you from your sin and transform you into His Image?  Will you trust Him enough to rejoice in the hardships and smile at the times to come?   Will you trust him enough to say, “not my will, but yours be done?  Will you trust him with your hopes, your dreams, your future?

Our Heavenly Father is Fully Trustworthy.  

I’m learning to trust more and more each day.  I’m learning to let go of fear and trust my Heavenly Father.  When He asks me if I trust Him, often my answer is “yes”  but sometimes I have to say, “I don’t know”  or “not fully.”

“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be safe.”   (Proverbs 29:25)

There’s a lot of crazy and scary things going on in this world and in this nation right now.  In the days and years to come,  we are going to face sufferings and persecutions that will require us to trust in God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  We will see God’s faithfulness and experience his grace in the midst of these hardships, trials, and persecutions to come!

I am trusting God with my family, my church, and my dreams.   I have dreams that I hope come to pass. But you know what?  Even if they don’t, I will trust the Lord, and I will praise Him! He is worthy to be praised!  I’m alive to know Christ and to make Him known.   I only want the dreams that are God’s dreams to come to pass in my life, and I KNOW that what the Lord purposes, He will do!

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  (Job 13:15)

I pray that we will trust in the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, knowing full well that He will direct our paths!   I pray that we will delight ourselves in Him and in His Word!   I pray that we will trust Jesus to be our haven, to be our refuge in the good times and in the bad. I pray that we will stand firm for Jesus and for the truth.  I pray that we will be willing to surrender whatever He asks us to surrender!   I pray that we will grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and be ready for His coming!  I pray that we will be like that girl on the swing, a smile on her face and joy in her heart as she trusts the hand that holds her! Our Heavenly Father is trustworthy.  Will you trust Him?



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DSC05987Yesterday we celebrated the 4th of July.  Our family enjoyed fireworks as a part of that celebration.   We enjoyed the lights, colors, and booming sounds of fireworks set off all around Lake Providence. We shouted and cheered with joy as we watched the the show from our boat in the middle of the lake.

This morning we all woke up to the sound of the most intense thunder we have heard in many years.  There were flashes of lightening followed immediately by the cracks and booms of thunder so loud and so powerful it literally shook our beds!  The thunder crashed, roared, boomed and rolled for hours and hours producing an enormous amount of rain.

At dinnertime, we all shared our high point and low point from the day.  Josiah’s high point was that storm.  He told us that as much as he enjoyed the sounds and sights of the fireworks last night, they didn’t even compare to the power and majesty of the storm we experienced this morning.  That storm reminded him of the intensity of God’s power and the beauty of His glory!

Emmy shared with us a passage of scripture she had read today.

Job 36:24-37:5

“Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him;
Nor can the number of His years be discovered.
For He draws up drops of water,
Which distill as rain from the mist,
Which the clouds drop down
And pour abundantly on man.
Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds,
The thunder from His canopy?
Look, He scatters His light upon it,
And covers the depths of the sea.
For by these He judges the peoples;
He gives food in abundance.
He covers His hands with lightning,
And commands it to strike.
His thunder declares it,
At this also my heart trembles,
And leaps from its place.
Hear attentively the thunder of His voice,
And the rumbling that comes from His mouth.
He sends it forth under the whole heaven,
His lightning to the ends of the earth.
After it a voice roars;
He thunders with His majestic voice,
And He does not restrain them when His voice is heard.
God thunders marvelously with His voice;
He does great things which we cannot comprehend.
The cattle also, concerning the rising storm.”

Psalm 29:3-4 says,

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

The God of glory thunders;
The Lord is over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

Revelation 4:5 says that from God’s throne proceeds lightnings and thunderings and voices!

God’s glory is greater than anything we can imagine!  His voice is powerful!  His Word is true! Our God is mighty!!!

The next time you are in a thunderstorm, remember that God is the creator of that storm and HIS voice is mighty!  HE is mighty!   He is King.  He is ruler of the universe!  He is to be feared and to be praised!


Our 20+ Year Valentine Tradition


Today is Valentine’s Day!!!  We give gifts of chocolate and flowers. We make cards and decorations in the shape of  hearts.  Images of cupid shooting his arrows of love come to mind.

Valentine’s Day is so much more than hearts, and candies, gifts and romantic encounters.

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, married love.  It is also a day to remember a man who laid down his life for the sake of marriage.

While there is some speculation and legend surrounding the history of our modern Valentine’s Day.  We do know that Valentine was a priest who was martyred in 269 AD.   He ministered during the reign of an emperor named Claudius The Second who persecuted Christians.  This emperor decided single men would make better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage.  Valentine, compelled by the Holy Spirit and obedience to God’s Word, did not follow the emperors decree, but instead, began to perform wedding ceremonies in secret.  When these secret ceremonies were found out, Valentine was beaten, stoned, and put to death by beheading.

Wow….  We don’t normally hear this story.  We know there is some history, some romantic theme surrounding Saint Valentine, but martyrdom?  Martyrdom for the sake of marriage?  This is serious history.  Sobering history.   I don’t believe that the history of the times of Saint Valentine will repeats itself exactly….. But the fight for marriage, Godly marriages, Biblical marriages, still rages on and always will.  When a man and women unite together in marriage, they become one flesh, a beautiful, powerful picture of Christ and His love for the church. Satan does whatever he can to destroy marriage as God intends it to be!

Valentine’s Day can remind us that we need to stay surrendered to God’s Word and His will even in the face of opposition.  Even to the point of death.  I am inspired by this man who gave up his life for the most sacred covenant made between human beings.  I am grateful to be able to honor Valentine’s sacrifice, honor his life, and honor married love every year on February 14th!

For over 20 years I’ve been participating in a Valentine’s Day tradition started by my father.  It’s super fun, light-hearted, and meaningful.   We call it the “Valentines Hunt.”  I looked forward to this tradition every year growing up.  When Josiah became a toddler, Eric and I continued the tradition with our family.

Here’s what we do.   We take 10-12 Valentine’s Day cards and create a clue hunt with them. We’ll start out by giving the kids a card with a Bible verse on it.   They have to look up (or for little ones, we read to them)  a Bible verse that has a clue leading to the next card.  These hunts could revolve around scriptures of a particular theme such as; love, joy, food, music, etc..or they could come from a particular book of the Bible.  For example, this year all of our verses came from Proverbs.

The first clue was Proverbs 1:8-9, “My son, hear the instruction of your Father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck. ” Our kids began running to different locations based upon where they thought the next clue would be located from clues written in that scripture.  Emmy guessed it right away and found the next card located in my bedroom closet where all of my necklaces and hair “ornaments” are hanging up.


This next card contained Proverbs 3:24, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”  Judah immediately knew the next clue card would be located in a bed, and sure enough, he found it in his bed.

Proverbs 12:10 led our children to our garden shed where food for our animals is stored.

Proverbs 18:20-21 a really quick find, led our children to our fruit basket.

Proverbs 24:13-14 led our children to our honey container.

Proverbs 11:1 led them to the kitchen scale tucked away in a drawer.

Proverbs 10:26 led to toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Proverbs 19:24 led our children to a stack of bowls.

Proverbs 5:15 led them to our laundry room sink.

And finally, the last clue, Proverbs 17:6 led our children to Gramma and Papa’s house down the road where their Valentine treats awaited them.  This year, each child received a chocolate sucker from Sunny Jims Candy, clothing, and a pack of gum.  Last year each child got a $5 dollar bill and some candy.


I create a new hunt, with new verses and hiding locations each year.  It takes about 30 minutes to create these hunts.  On each card I write the verse reference that will lead to the next clue card, and I also write down where that card needs to be hid (for example, I wrote fruit basket at the bottom of the card that needed to be put in the fruit basket.)  I also number my cards in order to avoid confusion if one is found out of order in the hunt.

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Why do we do this? Because It’s fun!  It’s something to look forward to, AND it teaches our children the Word of God.

God tell us “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  Deuteronomy 6:6-9.

This Valentine’s Hunt is another way we can incorporate the goodness of God’s word into our lives and into our family!

I encourage you to start your own Valentine’s Day Hunts!  Show your children that God’s Word is fun, good, AND rewarding!

Check out this Adventures in Odyssey episode all about Saint Valentine.  It’s called “The Last ‘I Do.'”

My husband is such a good father!

My husband is such a good father!

She melts my heart.



Handsome Judah in his new sweater.

Handsome Judah in his new sweater.


On our way home from Gramma and Papa's.

On our way home from Gramma and Papa’s.

Valentine's Day date with my man.  Horsetooth Rock.

Valentine’s Day date with my man hiking Horsetooth Rock.


Traveling With Children

DSC01207aOur family loves to travel!!!  We love going on outreach trips and vacations together.  We love the memories we create on these trips whether by plane, by van, or by RV.  Traveling with children requires preparation, planning, and work, but it is SO worth it.  We grow closer to each other through these shared experiences, and we grow in our love for various missionaries around the world.

This past October we went on a family trip to Asia. My mom, sister, brother, and close friend joined us on this trip.   It was an incredible experience!   We learned so much and grew in so many ways!

We get so comfortable in Colorado.  It’s easy to forget the struggles of people all around the world.  We get caught up in our own lives, our own problems.  Travelling puts things into perspective and gets us out of complacency.

We recently returned home from vacationing at our Fish camp in Lake Providence, Louisiana for part of Christmas break.  We enjoyed watching movies, finishing a puzzle we started last summer, playing games, reading, fishing, and just hanging out together as a family.

Eric and I have learned a lot about traveling with children from our many family adventures.  In this post, I’ll share some travel tips and hope to encourage you to take your family on outreach trips and vacations.

Before any of our children were born, we prayed that they would be good travelers. Ever since Eric and I were young teenagers we have wanted to travel around the country and around the world using arts in ministry.  We love to learn about what God is doing through people around the world and get so excited about different cultures, languages, and foods!  We didn’t want our childbearing years to be devoid of travel and adventure, so we decided our children would travel with us and we would experience the world together as a family.   Eric works hard to provide for our family to be able to take these trips.   Travel is a priority in our home and something we feel called by God to do during our time on earth as we raise our children. It is by the grace of God that we have been able to travel, by His grace that our travels have been blessed, and by His grace we will continue to be able to travel in the future.

I have seen our children grow closer to each other through our vacations and outreach trips together. Traveling with our children allows us to have large chunks of quality time together. We are so busy in our normal every day life. When we get away from the normal, routine business, we are able to bond and grow in new ways.   Outreach trips and vacations provide our children with plenty of time and opportunity to get to know each other better, see each other accomplish new things, and have fun together.  They’ve got their best friends right there experiencing the same amazing, difficult, fun, frustrating, exciting, boring, delicious, scary, powerful, beautiful things we experience when we travel.

Our family trips have made a huge impact in how our children relate to other people. Our older children feel comfortable talking with people of any age and ethnicity. They are able to freely communicate with people who are different from themselves.  They do not judge people based on skin color or the amount of money they have.   I was amazed watching our twelve year old daughter confidently  speak to a large group of women at a school in Asia.   She bravely taught a baking class to elementary school children, figuring out what to bake and how to communicate with the children, all on her own.  Our 14 year old son taught keyboarding and enthusiastically prayed for people.  Our 8 year old daughter made friends with local children and helped us wherever she could.  Our 5 year old participated in the art class Eric taught.   Tirzah who is cautiously courageous and learning to overcome shyness freely danced in worship.  This fills me with joy!   I want our children to have hearts not just for Colorado and their circle of friends, but for the whole world!  Taking our children on these trips helps make this happen.

Traveling is an educational experience.  Whether or not you home school your children, traveling is a wonderful way to teach your children about geography, culture, history, architecture, art, music, speech and so much more!  Our children have not just learned about the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Southern United States from a textbook. They’ve been there, met the people, tasted the food, and experienced the culture firsthand.  We look at maps, read books, watch videos, and talk about the places we are going to before we go there.  Traveling has been an integral part of our children’s home school education.

So, here are my tips for travelling with children.

Packing.   We pack as light as possible.   On most of our trips we are able to do laundry which helps me out a lot.  I pack clothing that is light weight, comfortable, and easy to wash and wear. I pack our suitcases based on who will be sharing a room together and rarely does anyone get a suitcase all to themselves.  Any item in question is probably best left at home.   Fewer items to keep track of means less stress and less mess.   Ziplock bags are helpful for organizing socks, undies, and toiletries.  Each child gets their own back pack in which they can pack whatever toys, activities, or personal items they want during travel.

Travel by plane.  Our children, for the most part enjoy travel by plane, especially international flights.   Those international flights are long, but they also provide meals and unlimited movies and games, and those little bags that include an eye mask, ear plugs, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.  This is all very exciting for kids.  (I find it to be exciting too:))  Waiting in checkout lines, going through security, and time spent before boarding our plane provides great opportunities to learn and talk about patience.  Teamwork is put into practice as everyone pulls suitcases, carries car seats, back packs, pushing elevator buttons, etc…  Eric and I have learned that pairing up a younger sibling with an older sibling works well for travel by plane.   Our younger children travel almost perfectly when sitting next to an older sibling.  We’ve received many comments from flight attendants regarding how well behaved our children are.  Pairing those younger children with their big brother or sister makes the whole experience more of an adventure and opportunity to be “big”.  We monitor what they watch, are right there for whatever they need, but have the older siblings help with their earphones, drinks, etc.. I always try to pack a variety of snacks for each child’s back pack when traveling by plane.  If our children are bored, they’ll pull out a snack, if they get hungry, I can remind them they have their snacks in their back pack.  Snacks are a must!

Travel by van or RV.   A couple of years ago we bought a used Class C RV.  I have a love/hate relationship with our RV.   RVing is an adventure like no other.  There is something wonderful about a house on wheels.   Something delightful about having the whole family packed into this tiny space that goes just about anywhere you want it to go provided there are good roads to travel on.   I love having all of our items tucked away in the little drawers and cupboards.  I love my cozy, comfy little bed, our tiny RV tv, and meals served and eaten on picnic tables at various campgrounds and RV resorts.  I could go on and on about RV resorts.   We spent 3 weeks traveling up the east coast from Florida staying at a number of different places.  Oh it was fun!   But with RVing you never know what is going to break, when the AC is going to stop running, a tire is going to go flat, the toilet get clogged, etc. etc. etc….  Our children still talk about Eric getting his hand stuck in the toilet on our first RV trip.   He manually unplugged our clogged toilet.  (We had not yet learned proper RV toilet usage and the result was major yuck!)  There are plenty of things to do in an RV.  Our children read books when we travel by RV or Van.  They watch movies on our little RV tv. They color, and talk, and we listen to music or audio adventures together.   Of course the Ipad is always a great boredom buster when it’s loaded with fun and educational apps and games.

Items I recommend for travelling with children:

Snacks and plenty of them.  Goldfish, dried fruit, gum, beef jerky, crackers, fruit snacks, string cheese, suckers, and popcorn are some of our kid’s favorite travelling snacks.

Activity books like Melissa and Doug sticker and coloring books. Tirzah is especially a fan of the faces book.  We also enjoy Color Wonder books.

Audio adventures like the Brinkman Family Adventures.  This series is our current favorite. We’ve listened to season 1 and 2 and LOVED it!  All ages will enjoy the  adventures and stories of the Brinkman Family in this audio series.  If you are thinking about taking a family outreach trip, you should totally listen to this audio series!

An EtchASketch.  We brought one on our last RV trip and our kids all used it and enjoyed it.   Sometimes it’s just good to put down the “devices” and use an old fashioned toy.

Ipods and Ipads.  Our older children enjoy playing games and listening to music when we travel.

Yarn.  Our older girls love to knit and finger knit.  This non-messy activity is also productive and creative.

Remember less is more when traveling.  (with the exception of snacks)  Children can entertain themselves more easily than we think they can. Even a cup and a spoon can be entertaining to a toddler when travelling. (I’m serious!)  Your kids should be able to fit all their personal items, toys, and activities in their own back pack or bag.

Behavior dos and don’ts:

We don’t allow fighting.  Our children argue every day, but we don’t allow them to get into full blown fights.   Traveling together provides our children with the opportunity to grow closer to each other.  They learn to work things out, get a long, help each other and enjoy each other. A perk to having a big family that travels together is that our kids don’t really miss their friends when we travel. They are each others friends.   They have playmates every where we go.  I am extremely thankful for this.

Our children need to be respectful of the people and places we go.  They need to pick up after themselves, say please and thank you, be patient, and cooperate as a team.  They are not allowed to make fun of people or customs that our different from ours.  They need to participate in whatever it is we decide to do and have good attitudes.

Traveling with babies.   Rarely have I traveled without a baby.   My number one recommendation for travelling with a baby is a good baby carrier. My favorites are the Ergo and Sakura Bloom ring sling.  I wear my babies and toddlers wherever we go.  They are calmer, happier, and more easily adjust to new environments when they are worn close to mama or daddy.  Our little ones are also safer when worn in a carrier.  People are far less likely to reach out and touch a baby that is worn in a sling than a baby who is in a stroller or being carried.   I pack a nursing cover up so that I can feed them whenever they want and this almost always puts them at ease. For the most part our babies go with the flow. When we travel in the RV or van, our little ones are all safely buckled into their car seats.  Older siblings are almost all that our babies need to keep them entertained.  They take in all of the conversations, questions, and noise.  Only when they are hungry, sleepy, or in need of a diaper change do they usually cry. Once they are old enough for solid foods, I pack fun snacks for our babies and toddlers like crackers or healthy cookies.  For me, the most difficult part about traveling with babies is sleep adjustments.   New rooms, new beds, different schedules make it more difficult for our babies to fall asleep and stay asleep.  This means more time slept in my arms, more night time breast feedings, and less sleep for me.   I have learned to rely on the Lord for His strength, nap when I can, and know that our babies will adjust after a few days. Like I said earlier, it is worth it!

High Point Low Point.  We try to maintain our family Bible times when we travel.  We don’t want to take a vacation from our relationship with the Lord, so especially in recent years and on all of our mission trips we have a devotional time and also do “High Point Low Point.” We share one high point and one low point from the day.  We all enjoy hearing what each other has to say.  This isn’t something we do everyday in Colorado, but something special for vacations and mission trips.  Oftentimes, I am surprised by what my husband and children share.  This is another way we grow closer to each other and learn more about each other when we travel.

Road Games

On road trips we play games like, Eye Spy,  the Alphabet Game,  the John Deere Tractor Game (We made this one up.  It’s a sort of eye spy John Deer tractor game involving a complicated scoring system that can get pretty intense).  So fun!  These games are good for keeping the driver alert on a long road trip.

 My Number One Tip.  Stay Calm, Have Fun. Happy Mama equals happy family. 

I’ve learned that when mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. When I’m frazzled and angry, this effects everyone’s mood. When I’m uncomfortable or irritated, it rubs off on the whole family. It’s important especially for us wives and mothers to have fun and be joyful on family vacations.  I have my moments.  Things do not always go as planned.  There will always be problems on every trip.   Your attitude about those problems can be contagious and affect the experience for everyone.  Eric and I get into arguments when we travel just like our children do, but we do our best to stay connected and resolve things quickly.  Eric’s likes to remind us of Rick Steves quote, “Be fanatically positive, militantly optimistic.”  On this note, make sure you buy a travel guide especially for family vacations.  For a $15 book you can save a ton of time and money!

With God’s help we try to remain peaceful when stressful situations arise.  When the kids throw fits, the best thing I can do is to stay calm, love them and get through the fit.  On a recent trip passing through customs, one of our children decided they didn’t want to co-operate with the customs officer.  This child refused to look at the officer, began to kick and scream, and go into one of the biggest public fits any of our children have ever thrown.  Inside I was frazzled, horrified, embarrassed, did not know what to do, and felt like crying.  Most of the people in the lines behind and next to us smiled graciously at us during this fit, but there were a number of people who looked at us with shock and disgust and I could just imagine what they were thinking.   Granted, it was 1:00 in the morning after an extremely long and exhausting day for us and our children.

We FINALLY made it through customs and our child fell asleep a short time later.  This experience required me to stay calm and also made me realize I had some work to do in training this little one in the area of obedience even when tired! It is important for me to follow my husbands lead when we travel.  If I begin to get critical and discontented the whole family is effected.

We pray A LOT whenever we go on trips.  We pray about where to go, when to go, and then we pray often, every day while we are travelling.  Prayer for protection, favor, fun, blessing, health, and strength.  I also ask others for prayer.  Every time we take a trip I thank God for what He is allowing us to do and pray that we will be a blessing to the people we encounter. Prayer is so important.  You cannot underestimate the power of prayer in preparation for a family trip.

I encourage you to travel with your family!  Whether it’s a weekend away in a nearby town or a short term outreach trip, your family will be enriched and refreshed when you take time to enjoy each other and serve God together away from the familiarity of home.  You will grow in your relationship with the Lord.  You will become a more patient, compassionate parent.  Your children will be changed (in a good way).   And you’ll probably long to take more family trips.

Keep in mind that you can do fundraising for outreach trips.  Fundraising letters are one of the best ways to raise support.  Don’t be ashamed to ask for money.  You’re giving others the opportunity to be a part of your outreach trip when you ask them to give.  God makes the way and He provides!

I also encourage you to check out the Brinkman Adventure series.  These audio adventures are based on real life stories.  Your whole family will enjoy listening to each episode designed to draw you and your children closer to the Lord and give you a heart for people around the world.