Friday, December 22, 2017

That One Word Thing.

Every year I have a group of friends that is insanely dedicated to picking out and praying over one word to encompass, shape, and influence the coming year. These friends plan to cling to their word, to think over what it means, hoping to make great progress in whatever that word is. I've seen friends pick words like Faith, Bravery, Hope, or Present, and I don't doubt that these are great ideals to embrace. Still, I felt like it was a little too cheesy for my serious self.

I'm wondering if you can see where this is going. I saw more and more friends choosing their words for this year and I continued to roll my eyes. Terrible, I know. And it's just like God to suddenly put a word on my heart and get my thoughts rolling it over and over again in my mind.

I was initially resistant because I want more than to just pick a word and think about it. I want it to impact my entire year. I want to learn what it really means and how it should shape my life. And then I got a wild idea, and I'm obsessing over it like you wouldn't believe.

So to clarify, yes, I jumped on this One Word train. One morning, after being totally judgmental about someone else's word choice, I suddenly thought of the word "called" and have not been able to get it out of my mind. But I plan to do much more than think or pray over this word, though those are both valuable and important things to do. Ready for the big plan? I'm still not completely sure how this will all go down, and my plans are sure to change along the way, but as of now, here is what I am going to do.

Each month I will focus on a separate facet of what it means to be Called. Often, when we think of our "calling," it feels very vague, mysterious, clouded in wonder and hope, but always feeling a little bit out of our grasp or comprehension. We spend countless hours fantasizing over this "calling" while constantly being told that when we know exactly what "it" is we will understand our place in this world. But how does that help us live today? Should all our focus really be on finding out what this special "calling" is? Or are there other ways to figure it out without being too self-absorbed and miss out on other opportunities?

The truth is we are Called to many things. And for the most part, they are all something to do, someone to be, or something to receive. So I've picked out 12 different "callings" and I am going to hash out a new one every month. I'll give you the big reveal January 1st and then at the end of each month I'll share what I'm learning, along with some questions to help you work through this process right along with me. My hope is that during each month I will grow more and more deeply in my convictions, in my knowledge of who I am supposed to be, how I am supposed to live, and be better at trusting God with all of the circumstances of my life. Ultimately, I want to understand God better and live for Him more freely, with more reckless abandon and confident happiness. Sounds pretty lovely, right?

Here is how you can do this with me!

First off, subscribe to my monthly newsletter and you'll be reminded about the new facet of being Called we'll be working through that month. I know, maybe you already signed up for my newsletter and have only received one; that is completely my fault. Doing all this writing, tutoring, homeschooling at a new level, and Fall sports put me in a bad place, a place where only the absolutely most important things in my life got done. I'm still figuring out what gives me life and energy, and I am making better decisions about what I can or can't do. None-the-less, if you sign up for my newsletter, you WILL get to be a part of these 12 Months of Called.

Next, check in on my blog every month. If I were you, I'd even get a cheap notebook and write down some of the questions and thoughts you have along the way. I'll be sharing how I answer my own questions, but maybe God will be speaking to you in a different way, and chances are, you'll want to remember that.

Here are some of the types of questions I'll be asking:

- How does understanding this Call more deeply help me live better?
- How does knowing this Call change my life-goals?
- How does living by this Call change the way I should act?
- Is the way I am acting right this second in line with what I know?

These are healthy things to ask when you are learning anything, but I think it's especially important when it comes to understanding what we are Called to be, to do, and to receive. Calling is a lot less mysterious and far more practical than we make it out to be. I'm learning that God doesn't want to keep me in the dark about how I am supposed to live and what I am supposed to pursue, and I'm thrilled to be headed down this path of better understanding what it means to be Called.

Lastly, join our Facebook Group. I will post links to the blog posts and probably do a few giveaways too :) It will likely be the same content, but more personal interaction will be happening there.

As a little Christmas gift I will give you a hint before I wrap this up. In January, we'll explore the ultimate calling we have as Christians: to know God and enjoy Him forever. I'm convinced this doesn't just mean in eternity. Jesus brought the Kingdom to earth and we are meant to live in the enjoyment of His promises and presence here today too! From February on, we'll look at the smaller pieces under that big call, thinking through what kind of people we are called to be, how we are called to act toward others, and the different things God calls us to receive as gifts from Him. As we get going, I am convinced that all of these make a difference not just in our lives overall, but they shape individual moments in our days.

This is what I'm after; knowing God's Call in such a way that I can live with complete confidence, genuine joy, and perpetual peace.

Again, here is the link to sign up for my newsletter. I am excited to explore this with friends and sisters, with people who want to know the Lord better and are ready to seek Him out. His promises of wisdom and being found are what I will be clinging to in all of this (Deut. 4:29, Jer. 29:13, Matt. 4:7, Acts 17:27, James 1:5-8). Remember these as you pray and get ready for a New Year, and remember you are not going at it alone!

So who is with me? Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and tell me what you hope to find along this journey together. And in case you aren't excited yet, you just wait! I'm pretty sure my level of excitement is enough for at least 10 people :)

Merry Christmas, and see you January 1st!

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Perhaps you've noticed my absence. The pessimist in me says probably not, but I'm trying to choke down that pesky voice.

In all my homeschooling years, this September has been the most difficult by far. I know, it's October, but I'm back-tracking just a bit. There are probably at least 20 reasons why last month was so challenging: football practice for Asher three days a week, soccer practice for Cole two days a week, tutoring Essentials (and learning everything from Essentials for the first time ever), teaching Asher through Essentials for the first time, Jovi being in CC for the first time, and trying to write a book/book proposal at the same time are the large chunk of it.

I don't see myself as a positive person really, but some people might say I am good at looking at the bright side of things. I think it comes more from my ability to look at what's wrong and then come up with a great solution. So in reality, it starts with looking at fault and discord, then it morphs into improvement, which often looks to others like a lovely spin on difficulties. But this month, and last month, there is so much to do, so much always left undone, and more ambition than I can wrestle, that I am striving incredibly hard to stay afloat and still smile. No matter what solution I try to come up with to "fix" it all, nothing gets fixed. It has been extremely challenging to not quit everything and it's still really hard to not give up.

Many of the women in my circle of ambition are SAHMs (Stay At Home Moms) too, but most of them have their children in school full time. Other moms who are homeschooling along with me don't have the same nagging drive for working outside the home or other business-like endeavors. Then the moms who do, and are prominent or successful, seem to have husbands whose jobs are more flexible, or who even work together on their same, thriving business. I know, I know, I'm sure I'm not the only mom wearing these shoes, but I often feel very alone in this journey, and much of the time, left without options for getting everything done. This is part of why I started this blog. Many of us desperately need to hear from ordinary, struggling homeschool moms.

As I try to make progress on my book proposal I am pretty much failing at doing exactly what I am encouraging other moms to do. Find your security in Christ, find your identity in God's purposes, find your strength in Jesus, find your confidence in the Holy Spirit's work, and find your reason for serving others in the fact that God is eternally serving and loving all of us: I say these things, and I know they are true, but they are not bringing me the help I wish they would.

During my eight-week-absence here, I've been attempting to learn to live. Not just staying alive and getting stuff done (which I really am not), but to actually want to do all the things my daily life requires. To say I don't struggle with depression would be a lie, but its spotty appearances, and its sudden disappearance every time I have more than four hours to myself, leave me working through this without the pursuit of professional help (for now). I really want to just have someone fix me and make me "normal." But for me, as of right now, I know there are things I need to deal with. It's harder than I realized to admit that I don't need or want Christ the way I should, the way I know is right, the way I know would be best.

I am fairly confident surrender is the answer, though I haven't yet fully embraced it. When I am completely, happily surrendered to God's will for my day, my mental check-list will not cause me to despair. When I totally trust that God's tasks for me are the absolute best, I will not feel guilty over other chores that are still undone. When I know for certain that the path I am on is 100% the best for us right now, I will not waver and waste a million hours fretting over if I can do, or should do something else. I have spent too much time striving and not enough time surrendering. And since it sucks so much to admit this, I am being ridiculous and just doing it publicly.

Somehow, there is a lot of satisfaction in bringing all this to light. Admitting struggle, confessing inability, coming to terms with my sin and my poor reactions that lead me away from peace; these are all impossible to do without God and still difficult to surrender to.

If you are in a hard spot like me, quit striving to make it all work out. Admit that it's hard, it's messy, and maybe even nearly impossible. Confess that you want to make it work but know only God can light that path for you. Find a way to bring these thoughts and fears to light. Whether that's talking about it with your spouse, with a good friend, a parent or your kids: it all needs to come into the light if you want it to stop messing with your head.

If you have friends in this hard spot, stop telling them to just quit. Yes, there is a time when you have too much on your plate. My dear homeschool mom friend told me several weeks ago that I had to stop going to every single one of my boys' practices. She graciously said I was doing enough for them, but that my 10+ hours each week of sitting outside to watch them throw, catch, dribble, and kick a ball was not actually helping them or the rest of my family. She was totally right! And this kind of advice is not what I'm talking about. If you're friend is so burdened by everything she wants to do but is not doing, telling her to stop wanting the deep burdens in her heart will not help.

We need to give life to one another, to water tender and breaking hearts with the refreshment Jesus gives. The mom who is doing too much might need told to stop. But the mom in despair with all the good she is trying to sow into the lives of others needs to be told it is worth it, even when it messes up other parts of life (like clean floors, folded laundry, or homemade meals every day of the week). God plants those seeds of desire in our hearts and He will always make a way for those callings, especially when it is a genuine investment in others. We need to stop driving each other from these things. We need to encourage one another into them.

Homeschooling or not, we need to be cultivating one another into the hard work of loving God first, and loving others as much as we love ourselves. It will be a sacrifice. It will often mean getting less for yourself. This is not a loss. Eternity is the main goal here, not blissful, momentary satisfaction with life on earth. Peace will follow surrender, and joy comes in knowing we are working towards the heavenly goals of God. I'm not saying don't take time to enjoy the blessings God gives on earth, but don't set your hearts upon them. When I can forget the goals I've selfishly established for my life here on earth and focus instead on what I want for eternity, surrendering to God's plan is foolishly simple. Not easy, but simple, and totally, completely, 100% of the time WORTH IT.

Please remember these things:

You are not the only person struggling. You can do this hard work. God will fill you up. Jesus will lead your decisions. The Holy Spirit will give you peace. Seek Him first. Don't think about what you weren't able to do but be confident in the work your are doing. Sow those good seeds over, and over, and over again. There are many women out there sowing in doubt, but we are blessed to be confident in this thing: "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6)

God has got this. He's got you, and you'll be okay.

* If you are struggling with depression and it is interfering in your life in harmful, drastic ways, please don't try to will yourself from it. Medical depression and the struggle to enjoy life are complicated issues, and when it doubt, seek help!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Daily Staples of Love.

I feel like I have done a lot of growing up this previous year. Not just learning a few life lessons here and there, or because of all the intentional studying I've done, or that I've simply become more knowledgeable about life in general. But I truly feel as if I am finally gaining some wisdom about how to live a good life and I am working hard, begging God to make these new habits a part of who I am, the way I naturally live.

Several books I have read this summer, or am currently reading, have contributed to this growth tremendously. And while watering my potted plants out back the other day, a lot of these separate ideas and random thoughts were connecting in my mind. I recently read something totally unrelated that connected well with these ideas I've been wanting to share with you and I hope they encourage your heart and bring you peace.

I'm sure you're all familiar with Aesop's fable The Tortoise and the Hare. The unlikely candidate wins the race (don't worry, I'm not talking any politics in this post) and the fastest, most able, most likely candidate loses. And what was the determining factor? Was his mindset to blame, or his actions? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If his mindset was different, surely his actions would have been different as well, you think?

I'm seeing what an impact our thought-life has on our actions. This is not just popular psychology  either, the bible talks about it too! See Romans 8:5-6 and 12:2, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Just like the hare, it's easy to let what we think is going on around us dictate our choices, instead of letting what we know is right and good determine what we do.

This is giving me more reason to pause and consider what I'm doing, how I'm reacting, and what I am dwelling on more throughout the day. Our thoughts shape our physical minds and that should cause us to take what we think more seriously. What we think about ourselves, the God we serve, the family we love, and the life we live hugely impacts the actions we take throughout the day and throughout our lives. Not just the major, life-altering decisions, but the little choices that pile up. They carve the path we travel and cumulatively create the life we live.

Being a homeschooler, I have tried to make my home a haven for my family. We are here a lot, and I want it to be peaceful, relatively tidy, and a period of life my kids will look back on with fondness. I should say now, I am not naturally gifted in this, and I don't feel like I do a great job. Since our move to this new house, I've been trying to be more intentional about it, but it so easily slips my mind. I can definitely see when my kids are more on edge because of my mood, but I'm not very good at those small daily habits of keeping my attitude in check or keeping my reactions from getting out of hand. I forget that cleaning the whole house at once is miserable, as is dealing with a ton of negative emotions in one sitting (read: sob-fest), but if I can just do a little of the work every day, both emotionally and physically in my home, it will feel less overwhelming to tackle and navigate.

As I was watering some plants the other day, some of these thoughts and pieces came together. Watering the plants out back was originally Asher's chore, but he has not taken to it as well as I hoped, and I've often been too distracted or too tired to remember to remind him to do it. So, on random mornings, I'll go out there by myself and gain a few moments of solitude. These plants, they are not doing so well. Some are dying, a few are totally dead, and some will get to looking very wilty then perk back up again after a few continuous days of watering. All of these plants need more than just a big soaking here and there. They need a bit of water every day. The same goes for so many things in life for us.

This is one of my more regularly watered plants... it's less green than when I got it, but surviving better than the plants outside. 

My kids need more than just an intense season of schoolwork, a few deep conversations about God, or random spurts of love and affection from me. It is the small, daily actions that add up to the life of abundant peace and joy I so desperately want for my kids. 

My kids need a regular diet of hearing God's word, of receiving affection from me, of having their minds stimulated by truth and beauty. And in regards to enjoying life and having lots of opportunity, sometimes the big, huge thing we think will be memorable for a lifetime turns out to be a big flop. For me, it's the little things my parents did that I remember most fondly, habits of spending time with us, or just enjoying being together.

This has been a comforting revelation for me, as we are not big vacationers and don't do any camping, and as my summer has been a bit more "me-centered" than I intended. The guilt over not giving my children what I see other moms giving theirs has been hard for me to navigate. One lifestyle does not fit all families, and I know what my kids need better than anyone else, but it's hard to fight feeling like I could be doing more for them. And while yes, a vacation to Disneyland sounds like a blast, it is not what will make my children's lives wonderful. More importantly, my daily attitude and interactions with them is what will enable them to get the most out of life.

It will never be the rare, extravagant vacations or sparse, exotic experiences that determine the outcome of their hearts and lives.

If you struggle with feeling let down after big plans have been made or large events have been thrown, or if you have a hard time figuring out what to do to make your home more life-giving, don't think that a magnificent vacation or elaborate birthday party will make everything magically wonderful. Those are blips of fun and excitement thrown in, not the foundation of your lives together. It is the daily grind that will either grind you down or polish you up. It is the moment-by-moment interactions with your children that will shape how they see themselves and how they see the world around them.

I do want to talk more about little habits and tricks you can implement, just small things to help you see how easy it can be to get your mind into a better space, but that will have to wait for another day. The big task I am working on right now is making my daily reactions to the kids better. Instead of being frustrated with the continual questions, I am setting clearer boundaries (with explanations) for them, then giving them my full attention when it is needed and appropriate. Instead of being in a huff about having to help my four-year-old with something, I try to act like I am glad to serve her (because really, I should be happy to help) and make sure I actually see her, acknowledge her, and notice something I love about her during those small moments.

These little tasks might seem silly or inconsequential, but it is building a habit of appreciating my children and teaching them how to love and live with other people. It's taking actions I know are good and beneficial and putting them into my life intentionally. I want to naturally enjoy chatting with my kids, but if I only do this when it's convenient for me, my kids will pick up on this and no longer strive for my attention.

Overall, I am learning that these small habits, the little ways I act, and the little ways I react to others, make a large, long-term impact. Sadly, I'm not usually very impressed by my own actions or reactions, and I definitely need God's help in aligning my life with the way He wants me to live. Little by little, my heart is being filled, my mind is being renewed, and my kids are being loved. It might not look glamorous or exciting, but over the course of their lives it will look like love, commitment, intentionality, sacrifice... all the things they will need to understand and observe in order live a good life.

If I could encourage you in one thing today, it would be to love them well in any small way you can find. Don't let discouragement about what you can't do, rob you of what you can do. Water the people in your life every day! Don't wait until you have something fantastic planned. Wipe those bottoms with a sweet smile for your child, answer their questions with a "yes dear" instead of a "what!?", and tell them what a gift they really are every chance you get. Make love and encouragement a staple in your home. Do it every day and enjoy the growth you will find all around you.

*In case you are curious, here are affiliate links to some of the books I have been enjoying that have contributed to some of my thinking:

A Hunger for God by John Piper
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Anchored In by Micah Maddox

Thursday, August 17, 2017

More Important than Me.

When political tides loom large, and the Facebook frenzy is intense, I tend to be very selective in what I comment on and like. After all, sometimes it takes a lot of words to fully express my observations, intentions, and the heart behind these black and white letters. And I don't usually have all day to interact back and forth in the online world. No matter, I still want to say something about the events unfolding in our country but I am not a voice that carries a lot of weight in these matters, so I have been hesitant to put my thoughts on paper/computer.

I grew up in a small, isolated, Oregon beach town. I can remember one black male student in High School, a few more Hispanic kids, and a handful Asian students, but the gross majority was white. My college was also mostly white, and while I knew some of this was geographical, much of it is racial. Not because black students were not welcome, but because of the historical events that have altered what is available to who.

Most of why I don't often speak up is because I don't know the entire picture. Living all of my life on the West Coast, as a white woman, in a liberal state has put me far away from the front lines where most of our country's racial prejudice has been battled. I have seen it here and there, and now more so with social media and instantaneous news, but I know it is not the same for me. My dear half-Filipino friend who married a black man has said she sees it far more often now. Comments like "You are pretty smart for a black guy!" or people being surprised at the way he speaks are frustrating to her. It feels minimal to many, but this the small perpetuation of judgement by appearance is part of what keeps us from ridding of racism in our country.

A few things I do know, but I don't know them well, are the ways drug-arrests, housing affordability, and educational opportunity continue to rob much of the black community. Not only because the perception many people have of black people, but also because the cycle of living without fathers, without opportunity, surrounded by many other desperate people unable to get by is incredibly hard to break. The income differences for black employees (which I don't know how much or to what extent still exists) has contributed to this. The "free pass" that many white people have received, and continue to receive, for breaking the law or possessing drugs contributes to this. The placement of former slaves and the segregation our country allowed and enforced continues to affect black people today. It is complicated, sad, terrible, and more. And this is why I have a really difficult time writing anything about it.

I continue to wonder what my role is in all of this turmoil. I can only begin to relate to the terror some feel out in public because of who they are. Only recently have I become more aware of my weaknesses and the way that could make me vulnerable to others, which makes me cautious of every single male I pass on my nearby running trail in broad daylight. I despise assuming the worst, but the risk of being caught off guard could be great. How much more for those who live in neighborhoods where this is their reality every day, from school-age on?

After I began homeschooling my children I started to read a lot more about education in general, both in regards to how children learn and the state of our educational system in America. Paul Tough has some great books about this and seeing how home atmosphere affects the ability to learn and succeed is both enlightening and heart breaking. Even worse, the segregation that cast many black people into specific neighborhoods continues to give the children living there now a meager education and high-risk for life in prison.

My soul gets knotted up trying to understand how my homeschooling can benefit kids who have very little opportunity just several states away. How can what I teach at home make a lasting difference? How can I use what I learn to help the children there? How can I even be involved in all of this sitting at my table, typing on my laptop, in perfect peace on my dead end street?

Sadly, I don't have wonderfully packaged, clearly laid out answers for you. I simply have a few insights I hope challenge the way you think and the way you act. Because honestly, if we thought more about the consequences of our actions, much of the travesty in the history of mankind would be drastically different.

A large piece of this puzzle is what we value. In America, we value Freedom, or so we say. Protests, marches, riots, and disregard for others show we really only value a certain kind of freedom. What we mostly mean by saying others are free to protest, is that you are only free to protest things that are right and good. Since most people do not agree on what is right and good, this gets sticky. I don't know all the details of how everything unfolded in Charlottesville, but I will never understand how a statue can mean more than the hearts and safety of others. I don't know enough about General Lee or the history of that statue to know why it was important to many, but I know having a statue that brings shame to others is not worth keeping. And living out here in Oregon, even though I consider myself a conservation Christian, I cannot understand why someone would want to honor a statue that represents to many the hurtful past of slavery and war.

Are you seeing why this is hard for me to write about?

There is one thing that constantly comes to mind in all of this political, social, and emotional chaos: "...count others more significant than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3b)

Jesus considered our eternity more significant than remaining with God. He left his role to take on ours, to take our travesty, our consequences upon himself. As Christians, we are called to the same life. Not to be killed for others necessarily, but to willingly suffer and serve on behalf of others. To value what other people need more than what we think we need. Can we honestly say we do this on a regular basis? You may not think you need to live this way, or maybe you think doing this all the time seems extreme, but I would venture to say our country's long history or serving self is biting us in the butt.

We are selfish, and we strive to make ourselves known. We want others to know exactly how we feel or exactly what we think. I do it too! Look at me, blogging, writing, posting, and expressing myself. I am guilty of the selfish ambition Jesus hates. I need to stop, we all need to stop, and it will benefit our country more than we realize. If every single person in that protest stopped and thought about what was best for their black neighbor, could they have honestly marched on in their fierce determination? If the Nazi's stopped to think about what was best for their Jewish neighbor, would they have continued to serve their country's military?

Sadly, when it comes to kill or be killed, many people opt for saving themselves. Heck, even if it comes to giving 15 minutes for a friend or taking 15 minutes for ourselves, we opt for the route of self. Are you seeing this? How can we expect to change our country for good, to be willing to serve the underprivileged, the cast-out, the condemned or discriminated, if we cannot even serve the people living in our house. How many times a day do we really give up something we think we need in order to give to someone else? I have a hard time giving up a place in line at Target, or a parking spot at the Nike Employee store. We cannot expect to find the willingness to change our world without knowing it will cost us the pursuit of self.

Take some time to think and pray over this. Consider what we take for ourselves and what it costs other people. You cannot expect to serve the greater good of the world and serve yourself as well. At some point, you will have to choose one or the other. I am convicted about how much of my life revolves around choosing myself over my neighbors, my family, and my friends. It shouldn't matter what they believe or what color their skin is. If I value others more than myself, I am revealing what I believe.

I believe God creates each person purposefully, specifically, and with great love.

I believe God wants everyone to know Him personally, deeply, and desires for them to live with Him forever.

Jesus is that way. It's not just what I believe, it's what God said, what He ordained, and what He proved.

If I follow Him, I cannot continue to serve self.

In all of this, I absolutely have to trust God with my care, my needs, my eternity. Anything I give up here on earth in order to give to others will be the silliest sacrifice I could imagine. What we gain by serving Christ is greater. If that does not motivate me to serve, it's because I don't know it, because I don't really believe it to be the truth I claim it is.

So in all of this American angst, what will you serve? An ideal? A political party? A religion? A particular way of life? Or will you serve God? Will you serve the other people in your day to day life? Courage for radical service will only come by knowing the value that service contains. As Christians, we know our value lies in eternity with God, and nothing we can gain in this world is worth losing that. So serve in confidence. Know your sacrifice is not in vain. Each small step will lead you closer to changing the world, but it will only change if you start right now. Don't wait until life gives you the opportunity you think you need. If you have kids, co-workers, family or friends, you have all the opportunity you need. If you see other people ever, you have opportunity to change the world around you for the better.

Take each opportunity and consider those you meet, those you know, those you encounter every day, as more important than your selfish desires. This is the mind of Christ. This is what our world needs.

*If you have friends, family, or connections with people who need tangible help on the front lines of these racial battles, ask them how to help, ask them to put you to work. I'm sure there is more we can all be doing. Serve others, be humble, and just start where you are.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sunday, Sunday.

I have a real problem "keeping the Sabbath". My Sundays never feel like what I imagine.

This topic has been reappearing in my life a lot lately, so I'm taking some time to consider its importance. Maybe your family does a really good job of keeping the Sabbath, or maybe you've never thought about it too much. Either way, I hope some of my thoughts and struggles here will help you find a way to honor the Lord and find the rest you need.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." Exodus 20:8

I grew up in the church, as did my husband, so the idea of keeping the Sabbath is not a new one by any means. My husband's grandfather would even go so far as to not eat out, shop at any stores, or use any type of hired service on Sundays. Always considering others as important as himself, it was important that he enable others not to need to work on Sundays. This has always been interesting to me, as my idea of rest usually includes hiring out the work of fixing lunch or maybe dinner. Heaven forbid I plan ahead and crock-pot my way to rest. That's a story for another day.

Over the last year this has come up in conversation quite often and many of the people talking about taking a Sabbath have been pastors or pastor's wives. Most have shared about regularly taking all day Monday or Friday to enjoy family time, go on hikes, or do whatever was good for their family to have a break, spend time together, and enjoy a day without much obligation or formal work. This really intrigued me, but since my husband has a typical Monday through Friday, eight-to-five job, it would never work for us. Their reasoning is that Sunday is always at least half-full of work at church, so they might as well go all-out and expect to "work" that day. After all, it's no easy task to constantly be serving at church and fellowshipping with others afterwards, maybe even running or serving at a Sunday night service.

Our Sundays have looked vastly different depending on what church we were attending. When we were first married, my husband sometimes led worship, but that was really the only capacity our church seemed to need us. The young adults group met Sunday evenings, but it was a very casual time of teaching and prayer, and since we didn't have kids and many of our best friends went too, it was refreshing and easy to go.

At our next church, again Mark led worship, but he was a more integral part of it. I was on our women's ministry team and helped with different events and bible studies (which almost never required anything from me on Sundays at all). Our church didn't usually have any evening services, so once church was out on Sundays, it really was a day of rest for us. We also only had the two boys at that time, and they were pretty easy kiddos.

With only a short stint at the church between then and now, those are my only experiences with Sundays in church as an adult. Our church now is fairly small. We committed with our dear friends in the revitalization of an old church and have been tremendously blessed by our last three-plus years there. But I have really struggled to figure out how to fit in a day of real rest as a family.

I only recently quit working in the nursery, have been a faithful bible-study participant, and Mark leads worship at least every other week. We have service Sunday morning, and a prayer service on Sunday nights, however, we rarely make it to those now that we live a bit further away. Mark has men's group on Monday evenings, and during the school year our bible study meets on Friday mornings. Now this doesn't cramp our schedule or anything, but I'm struggling to find a day of the week where we can truly rest the way God has wired us. Mark is definitely more of an introvert, and with me homeschooling and being with the kids all day, some non-people time is something I genuinely need to do more often.

On top of all this, I will only briefly mention the life-zapping effect my daughter has had on me. Her physical and emotional neediness the first few years of her life were far more draining than all of life with both of my boys. I feel like I am still recovering from the last four years with her. Don't get me started on what it's like to drop her off in the nursery each week.

So how does a family who serves in church, but has a typical, secular work-schedule, and who has children who are homeschooled and participate in sports, take a day an entire day of rest together?

After reading/listening to Glynnis Whitwer's book Doing Busy Better and listening to her session at SheSpeaks this year, I was curious to see if I could really not work on Sunday and still find the joyful revival in my soul that often alludes me. Do I trust God enough to make my service on Sundays feel life-giving and not like a burden? Do I trust Him to help me get all my work done in six days, and only do what rejuvenates and is life-giving on Sunday? Will all of this really make a lasting difference in my life and the life of my family?

Realistically, this feels like a lot to expect. I mean, there are kids who need help, meals that need made, and some type of cleaning is pretty much always involved. Then I have to factor in the fact that going to church usually involves some sacrifice, either because of service-roles or because it's not always easy to show up with a room full of diverse people and hold conversation while you wait to hear the Word of God. Yes, many conversations are life-giving, but sometimes they feel more like work. And often, kids are interrupting, needing help, or just plain driving you crazy.

So what am I doing with all of this? Well, taking a Sabbath on any other day of the week simply doesn't work for us. So on Sunday, I am trying really hard to wake up with a different mindset. It's not a day to simply do nothing, and expect to not be needed. It's a day to accept God's calling on my life, to accept the role I am playing with a joyful heart. As one who struggles with needing to actively pursue something in order to feel joy, I am trying to simply enjoy the down-time and not sneak in "work" throughout the day.

At our Sunday Service, this looks like being willing to hold conversations with people who seem uninterested, or are new, trusting that participating in God's work will bring about blessing and life. In the afternoons, this means not constantly checking on posts on social media, or responding to emails, knowing that what others expect of me has no genuine bearing on my soul. It means not reading books to catch up with my work, and only reading what I know will leave me refreshed and encouraged. It means if we watch a movie, I am snuggling the kids (or my husband!) instead of half-paying attention and scrolling through Facebook, completely confident of the benefits of being fully present in these important relationships.

Overall, I am working on making our Sundays life-giving, where I can observe God's goodness, and forget my own expectations of what makes a "good day". Every day is a good day to praise Him, and I need to be able to praise Him and honor Him by taking up the rest He calls me to. We need lasting rejuvenation, not just finding fulfillment in temporary accomplishments, having our life in order, or feeling like our service is noticed. We need more than to feel like all our ducks are in a row, or that we are particularly special, or even that our future circumstances are planned out and perfect. We need our security, our worth, our reward, and our joy to come from trusting in God for eternal goodness, provision, and favor.

Taking a quality Sabbath is a wonderful way to move our minds into experiencing what we know we should feel. God can take care of everything, even when we take a day off. And I am already seeing how trusting Him with those few hours on Sunday really impacts the rest of my week. My work feels lighter and less dependent on my ability. My striving feels fun and doesn't change the value of my personhood. My goals seem to find a way to line up better with His plans for me and I am struggling less with trying to "figure out my life" when frustrating situations arise.

You might not be able to take a "real" Sabbath like you wish, but you can change your posture toward your selective day of rest, and I really hope you do. We all need to find better ways to rest in Him. Sometimes that comes from the heart first, and sometimes from our body. But either way, I know that taking steps to trust God more will bear everlasting fruit. No matter what area of your life you are trusting Him with, He is more than capable of taking your load and giving you peace and fulfillment instead.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What Do You Expect?

I've been ruminating over this concept quite a bit the last few months. And while I am by no means an expert on expectations, I hope my thinking (read: obsessing) will help you think (and not obsess) through your own expectations.

My friend Mary and I are often reminding ourselves of this: lower your expectations! Not in a negative, lazy way, but in a "life does not go as you planned" sort of way. You know, like after a long day at our homeschool group, thinking I'm going to cook a meal that takes one hour to prep, another hour to make, and 37 steps, timed just right. Nope, not going to happen. I'm far better off if I lower those expectations a bit and find contentment in ordering a Papa Murphy's Pizza.

This isn't to say there aren't times to raise the bar. When we read history lessons or the bible to our kids, we have the highest of expectations for them to listen well and hold a conversation with us about what was interesting, what they didn't like, or what questions they might have. A very admirable woman I know, who is greatly humble and insanely brave, says we should set the bar high for our children and then give them high grace. Expect our children to achieve great things, but allow them to fail without condemnation.

What I really mean by all of this is expectations can be tricky. You want to expect wonderful things, to really hope God will do something amazing each day, but at the same time, we have to expect that many of our days will not go according to plan. This means we need to be most honest, and most earnest when looking at our expectations, our plans, and our hopes. Being real about your disappointments and seeing your day as God sees it is a humble yet lovely way to begin to find peace in days gone wrong. They are still days worth living. I'll give you an example.

Maybe you've been waiting for an update on my time at SheSpeaks? Lucky you, you'll get a concise (don't mistake concise for short) version along with photos, and you'll even get to learn from my own experience about days gone wrong. Honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal, but on day two I was frustrated beyond words, beyond tears, beyond any prayer I could muster.

Travel day was ideal, pretty much perfect. I started reading this amazing book, got to see my lovely roommates for the first time in a year, and had amazing conversation long into the night. My friend Jennifer opened her soul and her pain to me with such grace and willingness... when she writes her book, you HAVE to read it.

The entire day was filled with the Holy Spirit moving, great insights I needed to hear, wonderful fellowship, and lots of catching up with people I met from last year. 

Amy Seiffert and I met last year and connected really well. I always love what she has to share!

I started getting ready for bed when the power went out. For real, the power in the hotel and a ten mile radius was out for most of the night. Thankfully our hotel had fabulous generators that kept hallways lit and one elevator running until the power came back on around 4am. I know it was about that time, because I had already been up half the night. 

This is the second time I've experienced what I believe to be extreme anxiety in my body that my heart and mind could not overcome. I prayed, I worshipped, I cried, I went to the bathroom, I couldn't lay down, but I was dying to rest. My stomach was in knots and I felt sick beyond belief. In my mind I was not nervous for the second day and felt a real peace that God was doing His work. My first publisher appointment had gone wonderfully and I was thrilled for my sessions lined up on day two. But for some reason, God has allowed my body to do this crazy thing where I don't sleep, feel like I'm dying of stomach pains and nausea, and have major responsibilities I absolutely need to deal with early the next day. It's pretty much as awesome as it sounds. 

Somehow, I was able to get up, get mostly ready, and head to the first morning session. I missed a lot of it, but I was determined to not let these opportunities pass me by. I was emotional, weak, nauseous, and did my best not to cry whenever someone asked if I was okay. Apparently, sleeping only three hours and feeling sick most of the night takes its toll on your face. I felt so lousy tears just kept spilling with every conversation, and I have no idea how I made it through the day. Friends were so gracious, so helpful, and I even had strangers come and pray for me. Truly, the best place to be sick is with other Christian women. 

I forgot to take many pictures that second day, but there were still so many highlights and wonderful things that happened; I cannot explain it all. Being in Nicki Koziarz' session and having a meaningful conversation with her might have been my favorite part of the day. Listening to Liz Curtis Higgs speak was the most entertaining, beautiful way to cap off the weekend. And getting to meet another mom who does Classical Conversations with her kiddos was the icing on the cake that took me two hours to eat (because I talk so much, in case you were wondering). 

Liz Curtis Higgs on the final night and my new friend, and fellow CC mom, Aimee Smith.

I have been blessed by this opportunity, and if you are feeling the push to make your writing or speaking endeavors a priority, I would not hesitate to tell you to get your rear here next year! The friendships, the prayer, the learning, and the personal guidance are unlike anything I've ever been involved in. Also, from all these pictures I realize I have really terrible posture. Yikes! 

So again, what does this have to do with expectations? I went to SheSpeaks planning to learn, hoping to have great publisher appointments, and expecting to get advice. I hoped to connect with old friends and make new, and maybe get to talk with some women further along the road than me. And while half of my time there was under totally different circumstances than I planned, God still provided for me all the things I hoped to encounter. 

We have to let go of our precise expectations and look for the greater work God is doing in us. Instead of hoping for particular circumstances, let's set our hope upon God moving in our lives and sanctifying us through any means necessary. Are we willing to endure what He deems good for us? Are we willing to let go of our expectations for a "good life" or a "perfect day" and enjoy what we can, while learning from anything that falls under the "less than pleasant" category? 

I definitely struggle with this in my day-to-day life at home with my kids, but when I experience the goodness that comes from moving forward in hardship, I am more dedicated to moving forward through the monotony at home. And that is when I finally begin to value the interruptions that seem random, or needless during my day. I expect detours because I expect God to work. And He shows up every day, whether I notice or not. I don't know about you, but I want to notice as much of God as possible.

So what will you expect? And what will you notice? I am thankful God continues to move in and around me, despite my unwillingness and grumpy attitude. I hope you see God working in your life and can value the circumstances that lead you to Him, pleasant or not. I know it's a challenge, but I also know it is worth every ounce of effort you are willing to give. May we see Him in it all!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Leaving On a Jet Plane.

It's that time of year again! Time for me to hop on a plane, endure a LONG flight, and be blessed beyond what I can imagine. Seriously, it's that great.

SheSpeaks is a Christian women's Writing and Speaking conference, and the team at Proverbs 31 Ministries really goes all out on our behalf. Meals are amazing, the setting is gorgeous, and content is motivating, bible-based, and ever-so-practical. There are loads of books for sale, even more lovely women who have the same burning passion to share God's compelling truth with others, and an enormous amount of great conversation.

Last year I met handfuls of women I loved, and thankfully, I have kept in touch with many of them! It's been incredibly fruitful to be connected with these Christian Writers and Speakers. They bless me through their persistence, their failings, their advice, and their friendship. You know who you are ladies :)

This year, I decided to take the Writer's Track and meet with a couple publishers. I have been working half-heartedly on several book ideas, and I figured having a set appointment with a professional would gently force me to get going on them. It worked, that's for sure! So Friday evening and Saturday evening I get to meet with two different leading women in the publishing industry. I feel well prepared, but I also know this is simply dipping my toes into this world. I cannot wait to glean from them, hear their opinion of my ideas, and make even more progress with my writing and sharing.

In most settings like this, it's rare for someone to walk away with a book deal solidified. Instead, many walk away with contacts in the industry and a plan for refining, pitching your idea again later, and the only real promise you may get is for LOTS of work ahead. But honestly, I am up for that! I am here to learn, not to land a book deal. I am flying across the country to fellowship and grow, not for the sake of my own name or career, but for God's glory, for His plan. And while all these things will hopefully culminate to my book coming to life someday, what I really want is to be used by God so that others know Him better. This is the phrase I am going to repeat to myself over and over when I get nervous, when I over-analyze my outfits, and as I do my makeup. All the surface stuff, all the "results" from my time, are in God's worthy, capable hands, and I can most definitely trust Him to do something wonderful, no matter what it looks like to me.

If you don't follow me on Instagram yet, I want to give you a heads up: I started a more formal account that will pertain to just my writing, blogging, and speaking. There will be weekly encouragement, and at least monthly giveaways! Right now, I am giving away the book Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst. Go find me @joellenlarmstrong and enter right away. The drawing is tomorrow - yay!

I hope this week is life-giving for you, no matter where your responsibilities take you. I can't wait to share more with you this year, and be sure to come back next week for an update on my time at SheSpeaks. Here are just a couple pics from last year - such good memories!

Flying solo! Also, PDX carpet rules.

I was SO nervous. My only coping mechanisms were deep breaths, prayers, and selfies.

It was awesome to sit up front and listen to Lysa share tips to getting your best idea for a book out of your soul and onto paper.

They had such a lovely set-up for getting photos taken!

All the ladies from the Suite 314 Speaking Group.

And last, but not least, both ladies names Sarah May were in one of my first sessions... sitting one row apart. God is so funny like that. They are both wonderful! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Seeing Beauty, Loving Truth.

I used to find it funny when a topic or idea kept coming up over and over again in my life. I would take notice, laugh, and then move on with regular life. Lately, it seems to happen so frequently, I'm no longer surprised by it. Rather, I revel in the goodness of these "coincidences", recognizing that God is planting seeds in my heart and mind. After a few seeds have sprouted, I think about them often, talk about them with my family and friends, and usually, I share my thoughts with you. I hope they cause you to love God more and look for the ways He is speaking to you every day.

Beauty surrounds us. A lovely face or vibrant personality of someone I meet, the saturated color of a blooming dahlia, or the sounds of a little creek alongside a jogging path: I find beauty around me in more ways than I can count every day. In the fruit I wash and serve my kids for lunch. In the words carefully strung together in the books and articles I read. In the music I listen to and the movies I watch; most recently in the movie Wonder Woman.

Gal Gadot (the actress who plays Wonder Woman) is an incredibly gorgeous woman, am I right? Her beautiful bronze skin, her strong body, and her flowing locks are outmatched only by her character's fierce determination to do what is right. Her desire to give peace to the weary, injured, and helpless only magnifies the natural beauty of her earthly body. Goodness, love, and compassion exude from her character and adds to the loveliness of her created being. This is what God intends for us as well.

"Beauty is the radiance of the true and the good, and it is what attracts us to both." 

Stratford Caldecott

We love beauty because it reveals truth, and we love truth because is it beautiful. Never have I seen this come alive more than I have in the last few weeks. I've known that seeing beauty and savoring loveliness has its place in our lives, but today I have a new determination to make this important in my life. Not simply in making my home beautiful, or trying to whip my body into the ideal shape (whatever that is), but by focusing my attention on what is true and what is lovely, knowing it will reveal God no matter what specific endeavor I am currently pursuing.

I might as well add this overused, possibly considered "cliché" verse in here, because I cannot help pointing out how rooted in truth and vitally important it really is.

"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable - if there is an excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise - think about these things."

Philippians 4:8

When we set our thoughts upon the truth, we will see beauty. When we choose to focus on beautiful, honorable, excellent things, it will lead us to truth.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork."

Psalm 19:1

When we see truth, when we see something amazing, when we see something worthy of honor, may we remember where it came from and where it points. It all belongs to God, and it can all lead us to Him. Yes, even Wonder Woman can declare the wonders of the Lord. Your baby, your garden, your hand-stitched blanket, and your young daughter's scribble; all point to God's loveliness and goodness. A poem exalting truth, a movie exalting honor, and a sunset proclaiming excellence: it all belongs to Him, and He can make anything beautiful.

May the goodness of your day lead you to praising the Lord, convince you of truth, and renew a willingness in your heart to live a life submitted to His good work in your life. It will be beautiful, and it will be worth the effort.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trusting for the Impossible.

If you have grown up in church, or have been in church for long, you're familiar with the idea of leaning on Jesus. He is to supply all our needs, to do what we cannot do ourselves. And yes, this is true! In my selfish state, I cannot make myself want to be a patient mom, and I cannot will my heart to love my family with a true servant's heart apart from Jesus changing my desires. But it really is funny how God seems to take something you think you knew, then lay it out in a brand new light, usually through circumstances you would not wish on anyone else.

Last week I had my first practicum of the year. Being involved in Classical Conversations has given me a place to work on my learning and speaking endeavors, so two summers ago and this summer I have been able to speak at a few of our three-day Practicum sessions. This is where we work together to better understand a specific topic, learn how to implement classical tools of learning in our daily teaching endeavors, and then practice what we are learning together. It's loads of fun, and loads of work. I speak for three days, do at least 80+ hours of reading, editing slides, and just overall coordinating materials. Each day is about five or six hours total of standing on stage, leading discussion, and sharing information. For some reason, I am just naturally wired to love it!

Although, I'm not the best at packing!

Back to last week, I was in Eugene for the three days and got to enjoy some time with my baby sister, who is really not a baby anymore, as well as visit Gutenberg College, and make a bunch of new friends. But God had a small kink He was going to throw into my plans. Monday night I became immensely sick, slept only two hours, and then it was time to get ready for day number two. No big deal, right? Ha! I cannot remember the last time I slept only two hours, but I guarantee I did not do anything important the next day. I cannot remember the last time I felt so miserable for so long either! And again, those sick days are usually followed by lots of TV for the kids and mom laying on the couch. So to say I was concerned at 6am is probably an understatement.

As I called, texted, and left messages with people in charge, I decided to try to get ready, do the bare minimum to be presentable, and hope for the best. I started to feel less nauseous, but I was feverish and sweating, had the car turned up to 80 degrees, and tried to rest on the heated seats. I really needed to just get through the first session, then we had plans for someone else attending who would be able to take over if needed. After being prayed over several times, and willingly stepping forward to do my job, I made it through the morning, and by lunch time I was laughing about how crazy it all was.

Now, I didn't go into those first sessions saying "God will provide for all my needs." I simply showed up and hoped I wouldn't die. I know God does not always provide the things I think I need, or help me achieve grand or amazing accomplishments. I know that His plans are often different than mine and, usually, a lot less comfortable. And this insane experience of mine was confirmation that God is doing works that are far beyond my understanding.

Feeling almost normal on Day 3 of Eugene Practicum! 

In church the following Sunday, we sang about how much we need Jesus, and the pieces of the puzzle started to come together a bit. I know that God must have supplied my need that Tuesday at Practicum, because I have never done anything coherent on only two hours of sleep. But how often do I go into situations in my life, fully confident in God's ability to accomplish His plans, not bemoaning the cost of those works? And more so, how often do I work hard in all my endeavors, trusting God to give my kids, my family, and the people I am investing in, what only He can give? Or do I simply look at myself, get frustrated at my inability, and sit alone in defeat?

I still don't really know why on earth God would have allowed me to get sick when I did, as it was honestly one of my worst nightmares as far at the timing was concerned, but I know I grew from that experience, and I saw God working in me in a far different way than I usually see. I have a different perspective on what it means for God to "supply our need" or to work in us far beyond what we can see or understand. This experience is forcing me to look at my daily life with less trust in myself, but not in a defeated way. I can see my inability and say "I know God has got it covered."

He is always at work, always desiring for us to trust Him in our lack. And not just in our physical lack, or monetary lack, or energy-related lack, but in all ways that we cannot be perfect, He is there, willing to give out the rest. In all our endeavors, when we truly seek His will, He is there making up for all the ways we fall short. We don't need to obsess over what we are unable to give our children, or the goals we still are unable to reach. God is there, working things out, providing for us in both dramatic and normal ways. He barely sustains us when that is all we need, and He gives us great abundance when that is what what we need.

Are you seeing a theme yet? We can trust that whatever provision He is sending, is precisely what we need. This insight has brought me great joy and comfort this week. I think most moms struggle with inadequacy and wondering if they are truly giving their family what they need. But God's provision during my time of need has reminded me that He is always working, always giving my family what they need, through all of my failures, strengths, struggles, and victories. He's making up for my lack and providing me the strength to excel with the gifts He has given.

This is the road to low-stress parenting, and I'm beginning to see it as the road to low-stress life as well: trusting God for all the things we cannot control. And not just hoping it works out, but knowing with full confidence that in every situation God is working out the details for the betterment of our souls. Beautiful comfort, sweet delight, undeserved blessing! Yes, easier said than done, but well worth the effort to pursue.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

More Favorite Things!

To all of you faithful followers, however few you might be, I hope you have not missed my weekly posts and are at least enjoying some other good reading. The weekly commitment is just a bit much for me right now, so monthly posts are going to become the norm!

This summer is jam-packed with speaking, reading, writing, attending, learning, and likely a lot of swimming with my kids :) Even though my schedule feels a bit overwhelming right now, I know it will be a great summer, filled with life-giving, beautiful moments and lessons. Lots of work for sure, but I am confident bunches of wonderful goodness will come from all of it.

For something a bit lighter, I thought I'd jump on and share with you some of the things I am enjoying right now. Coloring, accessories, books, oils, decor... I have so much fun stuff to show you! I hope you enjoy it all as much as I do :) Affiliate links are included.

I found this company last night... how cute are their watch bands! It's hard to pick just one. I'm thinking something colorful and floral, or teal blue. Teal blue matches everything, right? 

I'm in the middle of a lot of books right now (who am I joking, all the time), but in preparation for speaking at a couple Classical Conversations Practicums in June, I am finishing up this book about the way we ought to teach. It is SO good! Hitting the nail on the head. 

While doing spelling with he boys lately, I've been coloring these lovely little pages, just to be doing something a bit mindless but beautiful. It's been fun :) Though, here are a couple other books I like too...

I recently started working out again at StrengthFarm in SE Portland, where I was before we sold our old house. It's about a 20min drive now, but it gives me time to pray, listen to books, or just enjoy some peace & quiet. I love lifting weights, and with an in-house Physical Therapist, it was an easy choice. I couldn't make the drive from our rental in NW, but our new place is much closer and I am SO thankful to be back! 

As many of you know, I have totally jumped onto the Oily train and have been running a business with my sister. I recently bought this water bottle and am LOVING it. I bring it everywhere and add in some Lemon, Peppermint, or Grapefruit oil for a little zing and wellness :)

This month, you get a FREE 15ml Tangerine when you buy your kit, so if you've been pondering that decision, don't wait! 

Last month, I won this sign because my little sister tagged me in an Instagram Giveaway - I think it might be the best thing I've even won! So pretty, right? The woman who runs her shop is fairly local, so check out her Etsy Shop and her Instagram and be inspired (and buy a sign). 

This is me a few weeks ago, after a Physical Therapy session for my knee, enjoying a couple hours without kids (thanks to my AMAZING friend Mary). I've been trying really hard to eat better lunches, and it is easier to do with avocados in the house. How are they so delicious? No one else likes them, so at least I don't have to worry about avocado thieves around here!

I may have linked to these before, but I just adore them. They are perfect if you pick up one of those coloring books. Nice color, super-fine tip, and they fill in with even color so easily! Great for other uses too, though watch out for bleeding through thinner pages. 

We just finished reading this book with the Richardson kiddos this morning, and we also read The Magic Finger earlier today too (super quick, super entertaining). I just love almost everything by Roald Dahl. He just seemed to have such a great sense of what was funny and entertaining for children without diminishing the value in beautiful language. I am slowly collecting his books each visit to Goodwill or Value Village or when they are discounted on Amazon.

Lastly, we are really enjoying the pool. Though, my oldest seems to think we should just swim every day for hours on end. Their fair skin and hay fever require them to take breaks, thankfully for me! I am enjoying the additional exercise, but this mama has things to do too... I can't lounge all day. Not until August anyway ;)

I'm sure there are many more things I could share, but the list is too long and our attention spans, I'm sure, are too short. I hope you look around your life, find the beautiful things you can revel in, and enjoy your summer with your family. Don't despise the small, don't cling so tightly to your agenda that you hate the interruptions, and don't forget to love the people in your life EVERY day! 

If you want to stay a little more "in the loop" as far as my life goes, come follow me on Instagram @jojococamo

Happy Almost Summer!