Camper Living, Encouragement, Family, home sweet home, My Story, Uncategorized

Welcome to our adventure

IMG_2418.JPGWelcome to our adventure- seemed extra fitting for not only a door hanger for our next “home” but our life in general.

Since the beginning, Joel and I have done things anything but normal.  We started out way too young, having a baby when we were still kids ourselves.  We worked hard, made mistakes, and opted to never give up no matter what.  I remember buying our first house at 18 years old.  We barely consulted anyone and just decided we wanted to make our own way, knowing we would mess up at times.  That was before we had whole heartedly put our trust in Jesus but rather whole heartedly tried to do it all on our own.  (spoiler alert, God is better at it than we are!)

Somewhere along the way things changed,  Jesus swept in and helped shake things up for us!  We started looking more at a big picture and evaluating our hearts and the paths we were on.  Did they take us where we were trying to go?  Nope!  We realized priorities needed to change and so everything in our life started shifting.  This is when we started making choices that people didn’t understand.  We got lots of questions all the time about the direction change we had made.

You see, we made a lot of choices in the beginning that set us on paths we didn’t want to be on.  The world would see these choices as normal, but as time went on, we realized we wanted on a different path because the one we had put ourselves on wasn’t taking us where we wanted to go.  Getting there hasn’t been easy, but we are trying hard to correct, move forward, and not get back on path full of debt and in the moment choices.

2 years ago we bought a piece of land.  A month later we had our 5th child.  10 days after she was born, our family of 7 moved into a camper.  Yep!  We lived in the camper for 7 months until the house was far enough along that we could move in.  We lived without cabinets or sinks for a while, but got use to using the bathtub for everything!

We fell in love with our house quickly!  Every detail was done with our family in mind.  From the  layout to the finishes, this was ours!  We have a heart for hosting and loving on others and when we built the house that was one of the things we kept in mind.  It didn’t take long before we were ready to utilize the perfect entertaining space and we started hosting people before we had cabinets!  The house was wonderful and we loved it all.

After living in the house 8 months something happened.  We realized that selling our house, the one we poured our hearts into and loved so much, would help us stay on the path that lead us where we wanted to go.  After praying a ton and having lots of conversations weighing the decision, we decided we were going to sell.  It was a hard choice but one we felt good about.

2 years after buying our property, we sold our house.  Bittersweet for sure.  It wasn’t our original plan but we see God’s hand in every single detail.  (one day maybe I will share it all here!)

So what is next.  That is what we get asked daily.  Where are you moving?  What are you doing?  Are you living in the camper again?

We are building a shop.  The shop will be our home while we build the next house.  We are use to unusual and we tend to think that if we made it in the camper, we can probably live about anywhere!  The shop will be a lot more room than the camper was and we all know it is temporary.  We plan to do lots of adventures soon and maybe, just maybe I will get better at regularly writing about them all!

Here is to adventure!  May you find it in your own way, enjoy it, and learn from it!

Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

The roadblocks in life

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My sweet 6 year old was playing quietly in her room with the doll house her daddy built her for Christmas.  I told her it was time for lunch and she quickly said “I am going to eat and come right back in here to play, ok?”  I reminded her that her little sister would need to take a nap as soon as lunch was over.  She was upset and asked if I would please move the doll house out of there.  It is solid wood and not the lightest thing but I loved that she wanted to play so I moved it.

At rest time, I allow our 4 & 6 year old to watch a few shows.  We don’t do TV other than this block of time, unless it is family movie night or something.  I had moved the doll house into the living room so she could play.  After I started the show, my daughter said “can you mute it?  I am too distracted to play with my doll house and really want to play!”  I thought about turning off the TV, but selfishly  I knew I needed our sweet boy to stay still for an hour so I could get stuff done, so I left the TV on and moved the doll house again, this time into my room.

“Mom, I really want to play with my doll house so bad but I just keep getting distracted with the TV!”   Even when she wasn’t in the same room as the TV, it was distracting her.

My 6 year old has a desire to do something, but the TV being on overpowers her desires and keeps her distracted from what she is trying to do.

Wake up call.  She is 6.  If this doesn’t get my attention, I don’t know what will.

I feel we are mindful about electronics.  We have kids who are 13 & 15 and they do not have personal cell phones.  No one has unlimited access to video games, iPads, computers, or television. But the fact that the TV is this distracting to our 6 year old and keeping her from doing something she wanted to do, really alarmed me.

I have read articles, studies, blog posts, and listened to podcasts about technology and all of the negative effects.  I have read warnings from other parents.  I have examined my own negative habits.  I have taken a break from social media for an extended period of time.  I feel informed and aware but something about this didn’t sit well.  It just felt like maybe what we were doing to protect our family wasn’t enough.

I had been reading in Romans a few days before this happened.  Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind”.  In my notes on this section I wrote “The world is loud!  It seems to always be drawing me in and distracting me.”

A few chapters later in Romans 14:13-23, it is talking about being careful not to cause others to stumble.  As I read this, I thought about what causes me to stumble.  My main questions were: What keeps me distracted from what I want to do? From what I value?  From what I know God is calling me to do? Does my time spent on technology aline with my priorities?  When I started answering these questions, I realized my phone is probably what trips me up the most.  Even when I take a break from social media, I still struggle with wanting to be on my phone.

Technology is addicting.  I don’t want to admit that, I know a lot of us don’t, but it is the unfortunate reality.   When there is an addiction to something, the obvious first step would be to remove it from your life.  After realizing just how much technology is effecting my family, even with boundaries, we are currently rethinking what is healthy for us.  The Bible is fairly clear and says if something is causing you to sin, you should remove it. We live in a world that runs on technology so it feels very tricky to navigate this topic.

All I know is that I don’t want to wake up one day and realize all I have missed or lost by allowing the distractions of this world to create a roadblock to the life I want to live.  I don’t have all the answers but felt I needed to share my heart on this.  To start a conversation.  Maybe you are here too.  Looking at life and seeing that there are things that are keeping you from living your best life.  Keeping you from what is most important to you.

Maybe today you need to ask yourself some hard questions and then come up with a plan to remove things from your life that are causing you to stumble.  Maybe it isn’t technology.  Maybe there is something else in your life that has a strong hold on you.  Whatever it is, know that we all have something and if you are struggling, you are not alone!

One of the best things I ever did for myself was attending Celebrate Recovery.  Going through the steps helped me learn how to identify things in my life that needed work.  I always like to give CR a plug because I truly believe it is impactful and incredibly helpful!  If you need more info please let me know and I will be happy to point you in the right direction.  CR is for anyone with hurts, habits, or hangups (in case you didn’t know, that is all of us!).

So for now, this is just an encouragement to take a step for yourself and your family to see if there are any roadblocks keeping you from your best life.  Today, our family is taking a good look at the technology we allow in our home.  Tomorrow, I will probably become aware of something new….. One day at a time friends!

 

Encouragement, My Story, Uncategorized

Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

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This has been my prayer.  Heal my heart Lord.  Open my eyes to things I don’t see.  Show me how to love like you do.  Break my heart for what breaks yours.

Has anyone ever told you to be careful what you pray for?  Praying to have eyes to see things the way God does and for your heart to hurt for what His hurts for- it can be a really emotional, difficult ride.

As I have prayed this and really desired for God to change my heart, I have seen how over the years my experiences have helped me to see people more.  To see them differently.  To love them better.  To understand their heart.  God can use our own experiences to see others.  But God can also use those situations to help others see too.  By sharing our experiences, our journey, our passions, our heart, we can help others see too.

At 17, I found out I was pregnant.  Over the years I have been able to have conversations with people and help them to understand what it is like to experience pregnancy as a young girl.  This is a scary and difficult time.  Others who are facing this need love, grace, acceptance but often, that is not what they receive.

My dad took his life almost 3 years ago.  Before I had to walk through loosing someone to suicide, I thought suicide was sad, but I honestly hadn’t really thought much about it.  My thoughts about the topic are deep now.  My view of suicide and all of those affected by it are now full of grace and compassion.  Sharing my experience with others has helped other people shift their view too.

On a regular basis I see people who are so passionate about something I know nothing about.  You know what has changed me, wrecked me, and opened my eyes to the world as God sees it?  Taking time to hear others sharing the passions that God has laid on their life.  There is nothing quite like sitting down with someone and listening to them explain why they fighting for a cause, a person, a country.  I have walked away from conversations with a new perspective and appreciation for others in a way I never have before.

If you want to start seeing the world like God does, to love like He does, start talking to people.  God calls us all differently, uniquely, but He calls us all to love.  We aren’t all going to travel to another country, adopt children, speak from a stage, or mentor someone who needs guidance, but we all can love and support others who are doing those things.  (Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:10)

I can’t even explain to you how different I feel about things after hearing someones heart.  Talking to a missionary doesn’t mean that I am going to feel like I have to uproot my family and go- but sometimes I think we shy away from learning because we are afraid that through learning, we might have to do something we don’t want to.  Ignorance may be bliss, but theres also lots to miss and we shouldn’t let fear of what God might ask us to do keep us from this.

Recently I had a conversation with a missionary and learned that one of the biggest needs of full time missionaries, are visits from people outside of the mission field that allow them to connect, relax, feel loved and supported.  I was surprised!  Listening to her tell me about her experiences was so eye opening.  I don’t feel God called me to leave this country and be a full time missionary, but my heart was stirred to use the gifting and calling God has placed on my life in the mission field.  She helped me to see that some of the things I had thought, weren’t really true and then shared with me so I could understand what it is really like.  My heart is now stirred different because I now understand how I can be useful in a situation I thought I had no place in before.

I’ve learned that a lot of times I discount myself because I don’t feel qualified to do what others are doing and the truth is, a lot of times I am not!  But the more I learn, the more I see that Gods unique calling on my life, and the gifting He has given me can often be used in ways I didn’t see before.  It doesn’t always look like what I think it should, but that is the beauty in it!

Listening to others stories can often help us to see the world differently.  If you want to God to stir your heart, be in prayer, and then ask and listen to others as they share their hearts!  Remember that the unique journey He has taken you on can also be a source of life for others too.  I love hearing others stories so if you want to share, lets grab coffee soon!  If you decide you would like to share in a more public way, I would love to be able to share others passions on my blog too!

 

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Just give me the field

DSC_5094bwA few weeks ago I bought a cheap $3 lavender seed kit from the amazing everything use to be a dollar bin at Target.  Y’all I have bought these kits before and let my kids mess with them- total hands off project.  Nothing ever happens for us.  More than likely it is because we don’t actually water them or give them sunlight.  But I LOVE lavender so I was determined to make this one the exception to the rule.

I added water to the soil and planted the seeds per instructions.  Well kind of, I added all the seeds in the package instead of the 4-6 it suggested.  Rebel, I know.  Any way, I stuck it on the table where it would get sunlight and then actually watered it daily.  My kids helped remind me when the plant was dry and they would water it too.

“MOM, MOM, MOM!!!  This is growing” my kids were yelling in excitement.  Something growing that we planted- it wasn’t normal.  I enthusiastically said “I see!” as I tried to get as excited as they were.  But reality- I just want a lavender field.  Those sprouts are just the beginning but I want the finished product.  I know that the little progress I see, means we have a long way to go.

I watched as each of my kids looked at the tiny little pot with the tiny little sprouts and how they all were filled with such excitement and expectation.  They were excited and expecting of what was to come.

When God is growing us we need to be reminded that the growth is often slow.  It starts under the soil where we don’t actually see the growth.  Then the sprouts come up.  Those sprouts still need water and light.  They need patience and consistency.  Eventually we will have a lavender field that we get to harvest but even then, that field will always need tending.

DSC_5106ccI want to be like my kids watching those sprouts when God is growing me.  I want to be excited and expectant.  I want to marvel at the growth, no matter how small.  I want to keep watering the soil even when I don’t see the growth.  I tend to just want the lavender field.  I want to skip the waiting, the growing, the pruning.  I just want the pretty purple, fragrant field that I can harvest and enjoy.  But that is not reality.

God does His best work in the growing process.  I can get really discouraged when I know I am working but see very little progress.  But progress is progress, no matter how small.  Lets be excited when we see little sprouts of progress in our lives!  Celebrate them, get excited!  If you see a little sprout in your friend, celebrate with her!  Today I just want to encourage you to see the sprouts, thank God for how he is working beneath the soil, and be overjoyed at the progress!

 

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Lets just adventure!

DSC_5009bw“Put those pillows back on the couch!!!”  I said in a very frustrated tone.  “but momma!!!! I need them to stay safe from the hot lava!” he cried back at me.  His face was saddened as he started to pick up the pillows.  I watched his disappointment and something changed for me, “never mind, leave the pillows, I don’t want you to step in hot lava!”

I like order.  I love a tidy house.  Being organized makes me incredibly happy.  Messes, disfunction, chaos, all cause me to be frustrated and sometimes can make me feel a little crazy.  But today I decided it wasn’t a big deal that my throw pillows were on the floor.  I can wash the covers if they get dirty.  I let the kids climb all over the couches, even though we normally say “stop climbing all over the furniture”.

adventureForcing him to put up the pillows was a big deal to him and I am glad I didn’t make him.  I watched as his imagination soared.  He invited his sisters on his adventure and I sat back and watched them laugh, then squeal when danger approached, and then celebrate when they made it to safety.  The smile on my face as I watched them could have never come from the couches being made up right with pillows perfectly placed.

I started to wonder how often I miss everyday joys because of some expectation I have set.  Obviously my kids need rules and boundaries and they need to obey me, but they also need room to let their imaginations take them to places fun and exciting.  I recently listened to a podcast on parenting with Bob Goff.  He said something along these lines:  Kids need less punishment and more adventure.  When I heard it, I wasn’t really sure what he meant.  But today, I think I get it.  I could get on to Harvey for using my pillows in the floor or I could let him go on an adventure!  There are times that this won’t work but I am confident I could relax a little bit more and allow more adventures!

DSC_4973bwMaybe you are the mom like me who likes things tidy, clean, organized, and the thought of letting your kids make messes stresses you out- this is for you momma!  I want to encourage you to find ways to relax and let your kids imagination and creativity run wild.  I haven’t mastered this but I am trying to find ways to do this without going crazy.  One thing I do is give boundaries with messy things.  Like letting them play play dough or do watercolors but they know to keep it on the placemat (this isn’t perfect and it is still messy but not as bad)  I try to ignore the mess until they are finished and then we just clean it up.  Also, we bought Ikea slipcover couches and that has been amazing!  If dirty feet or hands make a mess on the couch, I don’t even worry about it because I know I can wash it!   I am no where close to being good at this.  I also want to say that my house is rarely clean and organized, even though that is what I prefer.

If you are a mom who is really good at adventure and letting your kids run with creativity I would love your feedback on ways to do this!  We all have strengths and we should share and learn from each other!

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Rise Up and Rebuild

rebuildblogRebuild.  I kind of feel like that word is coming to me over and over again.  I feel like God is continually whispering rebuild to me in so many areas of my life.  Rebuilding something almost seems daunting- it means taking something that already is and then making it new, which means work has already been done.  The Dictionary lists several meanings.  Some of the words used to describe rebuild are: repair, dismantle, reassemble, replace, restrengthen, reinforce, revise, reshape, reorganize.

I was studying in Nehemiah and the words “let us rise up and rebuild” in chapter 2, verse 18, stood out to me.  (If you aren’t familiar with Nehemiah, he hears about the condition of Jerusalem and he is heartbroken.  He finds out the walls are in rubble.  He decides to go and rebuild the city wall and the gates.  I would encourage you to read Nehemiah if you haven’t!)  Nehemiah sets out on a journey to rebuild what is broken.  He starts this quest with a heart that longs to see his heritage whole again and he completely trusts God with the journey and the outcome.  He just goes as a willing vessel.

Nehemiah arrives to find discouraged people and lots of opposition.  I think it would be so easy to just turn around and give up.  The place is a mess.  The people are a mess.  But Nehemiah tells his plans and encourages the people.  He relies on God the entire time, trusting Him.  When opposition comes, he ignores it and keeps going.  He finds a way to combat any negative circumstance.

I started thinking about this journey we are on as parents.  Everyday I feel like I struggle to keep going.  To keep fighting for the life I want for my kids.  It is exhausting.  Everyday there is something new saying “You can’t do this! This is just too hard!”  The truth is there are pains, difficulties, obstacles, heartache, you name it, we do and will face it!  If I want to raise kids who are strong in faith, trusting in God, who love others well, are confident in themselves and their ability, emotionally healthy, then I can’t quit.  I can’t stop.  No giving up.

There are so many things our kids are facing today that we didn’t face as children.  With the internet, social media, bullying, and pressures to “keep up” with the world, we have our work cut out for us to raise kids who are set apart in this world.  The more I learn about what our youth today are faced with daily,  the more it almost feels like the mold has been made.  I hear people say things like “this is just the way it is now”  and I know that it is really easy to believe that lie but it is just not true!  I do think it feels harder to do the work now to set boundaries that don’t look like everyone else’s, but I think in the long run, doing the hard work now is worth it!

After reading Nehemiah, here is what I learned and I want to remember daily in my journey:

  1. Rebuilding the wall didn’t happen in a day.  They weren’t able to accomplish their task in a day and I can’t either.  It takes persistence, consistency, and time to raise healthy kids.
  2. They faced difficulties.  They were constantly facing opposition throughout rebuilding and when we are trying to raise kids who look different than the world, we will face it too- so will our kids.  We will face trials on this journey.
  3. They were watchful and ready for the enemy.  They worked with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other.  They were always watching for an attack and they were ready to defend, all while working at the task at hand.  The devil is always ready to distract us so we have to be watchful and ready.  When we are doing God’s work, the enemy will do what he can to keep us from it.
  4. The work is hard.  It isn’t easy to be set apart from this world.  We have to commit to do the hard work and keep going even when it isn’t easy.
  5. They were successful because they came together for God’s purpose.  We need to remember that as husbands & wives, moms & dads, we have power to come together for HIS purpose.  As a community we have the power to work together for HIS purpose.  As a church we have the power to come together for HIS purpose.  For our families, our legacy.
  6. They worked enthusiastically.  They found a way to be joyful and work with enthusiasm even though the work wasn’t easy and they constantly faced resistance.  When we keep our goal in mind, we can find joy in the hard things!
  7. They knew they were fighting for their families.  When we remember what is at stake- our kids, our grandkids, our great grandkids……. We are fighting this fight for our families!
  8. They told the opposition to hush!  They didn’t let distractions or temptations take them away from work.  They declared God’s goodness and kept working!  They were not about to let anything keep them from doing the work to rebuild.

Through studying Nehemiah, I feel so encouraged to rebuild a new mold for my kids, for my family.  To crush the pressures this world gives and replace them with God’s promises.  To commit to work together everyday with my husband to fight the enemy’s attacks and reinforce God’s goodness.   To revise the way I look at things.  Grasp the fact I  have a chance to reshape my kids future.  We can repair what is broken.  We have to remember it isn’t going to be easy, but investing in this is worth it.  Friends, we have the chance to say no to the lie that “this is just the way it is” and decide fight for something different!

 

Encouragement, Family, My Story, Uncategorized

Super Woman

 

superwoman“I just don’t know how you do it!”  That is a common phrase I hear.  Whether they are talking about the fact that I lived in a camper with 6 other people while we built our house, the fact that we homeschool with 5 kids, or how I manage day to day life with all we juggle.  I have been told I am superwoman or super mom but the reality is, I am just doing what I can with whatever the day brings!

I have friends in all stages of life.  Friends who aren’t married yet, some that are just married, some have been married for 50 years.  Friends without kids, friends just starting families, then some with 9 kids.  I have friends who work full time and some who stay at home.  I have friends who are retired and enjoying that season of life.  At any given time I can have a conversation with any of them and think “oh wow, I don’t know how you do/did that”.

I was talking with a friend about some things that are coming up in our life and she said “Bless you girl!  You are my superhero, I don’t know how you do it!”  But I know all that she has going on in her life currently and a lot of what she has dealt with in the past and I immediately thought “no way, YOU are the superhero!”  But then I thought- wait, we are all superhero’s in our own way!

To the woman battling with chronic illness day in and day out- YOU are super woman!

To the working mom who juggles all the stresses at work and at home- YOU are super woman!

To the stay at home mom who is knee deep in little ones- YOU are super woman!

To the single mom doing it alone- YOU are super woman!

To the mom of a special needs child- YOU are super woman!

To the all the women out there doing your best with what you have been given- YOU are a super woman!

I juggle a lot and I bet you do too.  What I am juggling may look different than what you are in the middle of.  The things I find difficult in my life may be easy for you or maybe not even something you deal with.  There are things on your plate that aren’t on mine.

We have to be careful not to let comparison trip us up.  When you see another woman who deserves a cape, go ahead and give her one but remember you don’t have to take yours off.  You have earned it sister!  We are all just doing what we can with what we are given each day.   Encourage each other, give high fives and hugs, and then remember that YOU deserve the same because YOU are a super woman too!