My Blogging Schedule

Hi Everyone!

I want to thank all of you for subscribing to my blog and faithfully following along.

I have made some changes to my blog which include 3 new pages: my Thirty-One shop page, my Thriftshop page, and one dedicated to pictures and those little moments in life that beg to be shared.

Since I am expanding my blog, I have created a weekly routine for when it will be updated. I want to share this routine with you so that you can mark your planners, set phone reminders or check your email to ensure you don’t miss anything. 🙂 Here it is:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: the shops will be updated with either new inventory, new activities or new announcements.
  • Wednesday: my standard blog post will go up
  • Weekly: a photo post or a book review (these will be surprises so be sure to check those pages for updates.

Of course, a blog isn’t quite as fun if there’s no interaction so please comment on my posts, text me with your orders and participate in any of the activities I post on my pages. I’ll be sure to reply back!

Posted in Personal Ponderings | 2 Comments

Lessons From Wildflowers

I have some raggedy wildflower plants in my yard. They are raggedy by no fault of their own, really. I’ve moved them from pots to the ground; they’ve been buffeted by storms, chilled by sudden temperature drops and then shocked with blistering heat- all in a matter of days. They get bumped by the dog and yanked on by the children. As raggedy as they might be, it’s surprising they’re still in my yard. So why are they? They have the most stunning blooms!

Some of these plants are half brown and green, a testimony to all they have been through. But they keep blooming and blooming and blooming. Their flowers are brilliant and multicolored. I eagerly look for more each new day. And I take to heart the lessons these hardy little plants, easily mistaken for weeds, teach me: when to keep blooming.

Life can be rough, volatile and seemingly unfair. We can be moved from one location to another only to settle in and be moved again. Circumstances can beat us up; people can treat us harshly. We may not always feel like we are getting the treatment we deserve or the tending we think we need. But our responsibility as human beings with a divine Creator is to keep fulfilling our calling. What that looks like for each of us may be different, but the calling we have in common is to live joyfully, gratefully and with kindness to all mankind. When we do that, the world will be a much more beautiful place.

You and I may not look like much or feel like much on some days; in those moments, remember the wildflowers and keep blooming in whatever way you can. It will be beautiful.

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A Lesson in Sourdough

I was kneading bread dough the other day and a sentence from the recipe kept repeating in my head: “keep kneading, it’s good for you.” Kneading involves pounding, turning over, folding, squeezing, pounding, turning it over again. More flour is added as needed and the process continues. It’s rigorous on the hands, fingers and forearms- but most of all it takes time.

Time is a running theme with sourdough. The longer the rises, the better the bread. And it takes practice. I’m just now learning how to make sourdough bread so I try to make 4 loaves a week. Each time the loaf rises a little higher and the bread is a little more to my liking. But it takes time and effort.

So back to the kneading. The bread maker must keep kneading her dough until it’s just the right texture. That final texture is what will make the last rise a success and present you with an excellent loaf of bread. I’d like to think of my life as dough in the Creator’s hands. Since He is the Bread of Life, He knows what bread perfection looks and feels like. He allows the circumstances of life to knead the rough edges out of my character in order to present me perfect before His throne one day. But kneading isn’t just for smoothing out the dough. It also mixes all of the ingredients together for excellence. The kneading that occurs in my life is a mixing of all of my experiences and lessons in a way that helps me integrate them into understanding.

A lot can be learned over the bread bowl with fingers busily kneading away! I wonder what is to be learned next!

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Boundaries…Are They Really Necessary?

With six children ages six and under, my husband and I have put certain boundaries in place. Some are for safety: don’t cross the street without permission; don’t go outside without an adult supervising; don’t play with knives or run with scissors, etc. Some are for a peaceful home: stay in your own room until Poppa and Mama get up in the morning; knock on a closed door- don’t just barge in; don’t disturb someone who has requested to be alone. And some are for our own mental health: no one comes into Poppa and Mama’s bedroom without invitation. These boundaries are a reminder for children and parents alike that there is a responsible authority in the home.

There are times when the children press against the boundaries. They fuss about them and test them; they remind each other about them while personally ignoring them. My husband and I often wonder if maintaining the boundaries is worth the effort. But when we do maintain them and the children do respect them, the health, safety and peace for all is absolutely worth it- and we keep going. In the long run, we know that our children will need to be able to respect boundaries all their lives.

I have noticed a growing conversation about putting in place personal boundaries. This can be in relationships (marriage, parent-child, friends, relatives), in use of time (a balance of work and leisure), or in thought processes (putting a stop to toxic thinking, for example). People are accepting that boundaries are necessary and even good, for they help maintain healthy distance between what is destructive and what helps us thrive. Yet at the very same time there is a major shift away from the boundaries that have guarded the conscience of our land: those moral boundaries instituted by God.

Have you noticed as I have, how those boundaries that have governed our society for centuries are disappearing? Gender is one example. Suddenly, we are being told that there really is no such thing as male or female; we are told it’s all just a mindset and people can be whatever they feel. Sexual orientation is another. As long as there is love, we are told, it’s ok: adults with children, with multiple shared partners, with partners of the same sex, it is all acceptable. The sanctity of life is yet another boundary that has been eroded for decades but in recent years has made a more rapid decline. Ending life in the womb was once nonexistent in common speech, but now it’s ok to leave a baby to die in a hospital linen closet if it survives an abortion. As long as the head is the last thing to be born, a mother can choose to end her baby’s life even while birthing him.

Knowing that we are made in the image of the Almighty God, is it any wonder that the boundaries He has instated for our wellbeing would be under attack by those who wish to forget Him? Gender, marriage, and life itself are just a few of the tangible reminders of mankind’s connection to the Creator. When we are secure in our biological identity, have stable families and count sacred the essence of life, we flourish in who we are meant to be- as individuals and as a society. When we are told that our gender is fluid, sex is permissible with anyone at any time, and the value of life at any stage is conditional, we wander into dangerous territory.

It is time for us to begin fortifying once more the boundaries that safeguard our moral conscience. Our nation, our future and our very lives depend upon it. There are some boundaries that are simply non-negotiable and those are the ones that remind us that our ultimate authority is the Almighty God. One day we will all answer to Him.

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Be Like Christ

In last week’s sermon, the pastor drew attention to the often overlooked detail of Christ’s sinlessness. He pointed out how we humans are skilled at excusing, even justifying, our sin: “I lost my cool with the kids- but I’ve had 3 nights of interrupted sleep!” “I stubbed my toe! Of course some choice words would slip out.” “If you had had the day I had you would understand why I couldn’t take anymore.” I’m sure we could all add our own quotes to that list. And then the pastor drew our attention to what Jesus endured during His earthly journey.

Let’s take a closer look at a few examples. He went 40 days and 40 nights without food or water and then was tempted. He had the perfect “out” for capitulating to the tempter. But did He? No. He was almost continually surrounded by bumbling, annoying, accusing, devious, demanding, selfish, dense human beings. He could easily have yelled at them and said, “Enough! Don’t you know who I am? And yet you treat me as if I’m nothing more than a genie in a bottle. Stop touching me!” But did He? No.

And then there was the Cross and the torture leading up to it. The betrayal. The mocking. The spitting and scourging and crown of thorns. Who would have blamed Him for cursing everyone involved and moving on with His life? But did He? No.

The Bible tells us that Jesus understands our sinful condition. He was tempted in every way that we are but He did not sin. Sinful thoughts did not even enter His heart or mind; and that is the standard to which we are held. “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1Thessalonians 4:7. For those who are Christ-followers, we are to not only follow Him but to be like Him.

This is not meant to discourage but to inspire. Why? Because what is impossible for man is possible for God. It was Christ’s sacrifice that now enables us to live a holy life. He knows we are but dust and He equips us to resist temptation and bring glory to His name. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22-23

I think the hardest part of very hard days is feeling like I could have handled them so much better. But then I pause: did I want to do better so that I could feel better about myself? Or did I want Jesus to be glorified in my day? I truly think that my proverbial stubbed toes, skinned knees and bruised ego are to serve as daily reminders that I really cannot do holy on my own strength. For holiness to be holy it must remain untainted by human fingerprints; it is imperative that it comes from God and God alone.

As we approach the holy days of Passion Week, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, let us put aside our own meager attempts to be like Christ and surrender instead to the sanctification process He promises to His own.

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No One Quite Like Shilo

Has it already been three years since this adorable boy entered the world? Everything about him has felt like an anomaly- from how big my stomach grew during his pregnancy to the 41 weeks and 5 days I had to wait before going into labor to his being my first home birth to how rapidly he grew.

One reason why I like to do birthday blogs for the children is because it allows me to think about that one child and his/her inner workings. What makes this child unique? How does this child influence our family? Why do we smile when this particular little one enters the room? So all day long I’ve been pondering about Shilo.

Everything about him is truly unique. His hair can’t make up its mind about the way it wants to grow. He likes to comb it himself and say, “I’m making my handsome, Mama”. His smile is gentle and soft when he is drawn into a hug with Poppa or Mama. He explores new items with his fingertips and then smells them next. He brings me flowers every day (usually with the roots attached). And as much as he desires to be “braver” and “stronger,” he dotes on his baby brother like no one else can. He can’t help but figure out how everything works even though his curiosity frequently gets him into trouble. Somehow he balances strength and gentleness, exploration and mental prowess, without even trying: loving on babies yet being able to fight bad guys; singing worship songs and lifting things for Mama; mastering complicated puzzles and wrestling with his big brother.

Something about Shilo brings comfort to his siblings. They can’t play “family” without him and usually want to know where he is if he isn’t around. On the occasions when he gets to go on an outing alone with Poppa or Mama, he is showered with hugs and kisses upon leaving and returning. He is skilled at annoying his siblings and instigating squabbles with his tongue, but he is also ready to show concern and help his sisters whenever he can.

As his mama, this little boy tries my patience beyond measure. I would love for Jesus to give me a sneak peek into his future so that I can get an idea of how his curiosity and stubbornness will work for God’s glory. Simultaneously, I am overwhelmed by how much I adore him and am awed by how he draws our family together. We are who we are as a family because he is in it. It’s a pleasure to chat with him, read stories to him, teach him, and walk with him. No one views the world quite like Shilo does- scanning for details that others would normally miss. I am a more flexible, more patient, gentler person because he is in my world.

Happy third birthday, handsome Shilo! Continue being braver and stronger every day and keep seeing the wonder in the life God has entrusted to you. You are a miracle!

Posted in Personal Ponderings | 2 Comments

Open House Guestbook

Over the next 3 days (3/10-3/12) I’m having an open house on my blog site. There is more to this site than my writing and I wanted to give my readership a chance to explore it. This is how it will work:

🕯Peruse all the different pages: the 📚 bookshelves, the 🛍shops, and the 📷 photo page.

✒️come back to this post and comment about what you saw and what you enjoyed the most about each page.

📥 Everyone who “signs” this guestbook by leaving the comment I detailed above will be entered into a prize giveaway. The winner will be announced on 3/13 in a reply to the comment that was left. Be sure to review your comment on that day to see if you were the winner!

Posted in Personal Ponderings | 7 Comments

Learning From My Responses

There have been instances when I have told someone about my businesses and the feedback was sharp and abrupt. I’ve pondered my reactions to these replies, dissecting them and analyzing why they left me feeling affronted. My thought process went something like this:

  1. I know I do not want people to show false interest in my businesses so I know that ⬇️
  2. I do not feel affronted when people respectfully decline, therefore ⬇️
  3. It must be the tactless word choice that has left me feeling minimized and ashamed for sharing my businesses with them.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m blogging about my thought processes and my ruffled feathers. I’m sharing because my reflecting didn’t stop there; my train of thought began exploring how these experiences can cause me to be a better communicator in an era when miscommunication happens all too easily and frequently.

As a whole, America is a polite society. Save for the outliers and bullies amongst us, we want everyone to feel included and we don’t make it our goal to offend. In fact, I think it’s safe to say we will go out of our way to make sure we don’t hurt another person’s feelings even to the point where we are the ones whose feelings are inconvenienced.

The events of the past year have magnified this politeness. Many of us are now afraid to speak without qualifying and clarifying and pre-apologizing for any unintended offense our speaking may cause. And to make social matters even more strenuous, we have been removed from most routine social engagements so we are out of practice with regular verbal communication. It is easy to worry that our rusty speaking skills may leave a trail of stepped on toes or feelings rubbed the wrong way.

At the end of the day, I just want to be myself and share my thoughts: not with malicious intent but with sincerity; not to critique but to generate conversation; not to make others feel small but to show camaraderie on this journey called life. I don’t want to have to scrutinize each word as with a magnifying glass before I say it; I would like to speak out of the integrity of my heart and the experience of my life. How is that done in such a sensitive world?

I believe the key is taking note of my responses to others. Am I left feeling minimized? Ashamed? Torn down? Discouraged? Exasperated? Hurt? Betrayed? Abandoned? Or do I feel understood? Heard? Bolstered? Befriended? Soothed? Hopeful? Renewed? Refreshed? In my communication with others, my reactions, feedback, tones, body language and words should reflect a genuine interest in the other person’s perspective and experiences. As tempting as it might be to return harshness with harshness or cutting remark with a biting retort, this will not make me feel more secure in my personal identity. Instead, it is better for me to cultivate a habit of communicating that I can fall back on in every situation: positive or negative. And when I initiate conversation with those around me I want to structure my comments to bring out the best in others.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

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The Memory Weaver

It seems appropriate that I would finish reading another Jane KirkPatrick title on my birthday. Kirkpatrick is skilled in historical fiction, primarily in the history of the settling of the Pacific Northwest and the convergence of the white settlers with the Native American tribes in those states. The Memory Weaver is no exception.

Eliza Spalding was a child survivor of the massacre at the Whitman mission in Oregon. She and many others were taken hostage and held for 39 days. As the sole interpreter between the hostages, Indians and negotiators she was put into many impossible situations that scarred her memories and made living her future life painful. Yet as life unfolded she was able to make peace with her past, travel old roads and create new memories.

Kirkpatrick has the wonderful ability to make history relevant to the present and to enable the reader to relate to the figures of the past. While I am not a pioneer, will never cross The Dalles, travel on horseback across state lines or build a log cabin with my own hands, my heart beats with the same desires as the protagonist, Eliza Spalding. She reflected,

These moments when I did not try to “make” my husband do this or that, didn’t interfere with my children learning in their ways different from my own, were kindling for the warming fires I built each day.

In that quote, I felt the kindred in our spirits. The desire to partner in our lives with the ones journeying the closest on our paths. In all the twists and turns, tragedy and victory of the years she had traveled, this heroine had learned the simplest, but most important of lessons: to support her family in becoming who they were meant to be and not to force them to be who she thought they needed to be.

A few pages later, she mused:

Maybe each of us needs to feel a little extraordinary, to believe we’ve used well the talents we were given to live meaningful lives.

Yes! I thought. Exactly! We humans crave the extraordinary, wanting so much to know that there is something about us that makes us more than just one among billions. We want to know that we have made a mark on history, even in the smallest way. Finally she concludes:

I am the mother raising children to be resilient, trustworthy, able to keep going when they want to quit, kind and generous. What greater meaning can one life have?

I read the author’s notes about her research and in them she revealed how much information she had gotten from the descendants of Eliza Spalding. I think we take for granted the impact of one life upon generations and subsequently, the world. As I savor the second half of my birthday, I realize that I have gotten swept up in the daily drudgery of raising small children. I have allowed the fatigue, the daunting mountains of laundry and dirty dishes, the taunting tumbleweeds of pet hair and the Groundhog Day issues of whining and squabbling and toddler food tossing to make me feel pointless.

But I’m not pointless. In the midst of all that mess, lies the patient spirit, the consistent instruction, and the determined love that can be cultivated in my heart and passed on to future generations. Just as Eliza Spalding didn’t see it all clearly until she was in her twilight years, I will be a work in progress until then too. But it’s encouraging to know that as long as I keep journeying, I’ll eventually reach my destination too. And oh the memories I’ll be able to weave together when I get there.

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The Tired Mama

If there’s a tired mama in your circle of acquaintances, be gentle with her.

It’s very possible she considers two consecutive hours of sleep a decent night’s rest.

She may get her words mixed up or lose her train of thought in the middle of a sentence.

She might have 80 text messages to answer, forget to check her voicemails, and rarely return a phone call.

Her children might eat boxed mac and cheese two lunches in a row and frozen pizza two dinners in a row.

It’s possible you don’t agree with how she disciplines: too loud one day and too lenient the next.

Likely she will cry at the drop of a hat or at the fifth spill in a row.

There’s a chance she compares herself to all the women she thinks aren’t tired and sees how they do it all: perfect self-care routine, immaculate houses, balanced personal and spiritual life…and…well…everything she just isn’t able to do right now.

I’m certain she wonders about how God views her: does He see a harried, frazzled mess or does He see a daughter trying to do her best?

Some might say she’s too easily overwhelmed or she’s bitten off more than she can chew. But she probably is the way she is because she is simply a tired mama.

When days roll into nights that roll into days again and there’s no pause or break or chance to breathe, a mama gets tired. I really don’t think it means she doesn’t love what she does or adore who she’s all about every single day. It probably just means she’s genuinely tired- physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Don’t ask her lots of questions or try to solve her problems. Don’t tell her what she needs to do to get rest. Try to not be miffed if her answers are brief.

Instead, listen. Acknowledge her exhaustion. Assure her you’re there if she needs anything. Surprise her. Let her know that it will all work out and one day she will sleep again. Speak kindly. Go gently with her.

Posted in Personal Ponderings | 10 Comments