Category Archives: confession

Is Happiness Really the Goal


I keep hearing the phrase “as long as (s)he is happy” or some variation of it. It almost always hits a nerve. I’ve been trying to figure out why. Happiness is a good thing, right? I read a blog post once along the lines of “I don’t want my children to be happy.” I can’t remember who wrote it and I’m not trying to copy it here. I do remember it confirming some things in my heart concerning this American can dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Bear with me while I process some things here in the blogosphere. When my husband and I made the decision for him to go to seminary, I was not happy. I was sad. I grieved over leaving my comfort zone, my friends, my family and my familiar surroundings in order to pick up and move to central Florida, in the middle of the summer, while I was in my third trimester of pregnancy with my third child. We chose to raise support to supplement our income so that my husband could focus on school work. He was to be in a very intense Masters program for two years. One day my mom asked me if we still planned to go even if we didn’t get the support we needed. When I said yes, she got very upset and hung up the phone. She called back to tell me that she just wanted me to be “happy” and then hung up again.

Would I have been happier to stay in my comforts… yes? But was staying the best thing for me? for my husband? for our family? It’s taken me four years to be able to say this, but no… it wouldn’t have been the best thing. God, in his infinite wisdom, put me through the ringer. I was not comfortable. I was not content. I was not happy.

But from that experience, I gained compassion on those who have to make hard financial choices and who live below the poverty line. I learned to be creative with gift giving. I learned to be frugal in our homeschooling. I learned to ask for help. I learned that giving is not always financial. I learned to respect and defend my husband. I learned to stand my ground and follow the Lord even when it doesn’t make sense. I cried a lot and questioned God. I got mad and Him. I yelled at Him… and He still loves me. He didn’t abandon me. Was I happy…. not always, but I guess my happiness wasn’t the point of all that.

So.. .what is the point? What is God’s point? Sanctification… becoming more and more like Christ. Can I become like Him if I am seeking my own happiness? In my opinion, no… not completely. If I am seeking to make myself happy, I do not have my focus where it needs to be. Jesus summed up the law of the prophets as this: Love God and Love your Neighbor. I do not see where my happiness plays a part in that. If I am loving God, I am seeking the things of His heart… not mine. If I am loving my neighbor, I am focusing outward… not inward.

I spent a lot of the first year of our in seminary being focused on myself… what I had lost and how being there was effecting me. Something changed during the summer between his first and second year. I was able to vocalize my hurt and bitterness to the Lord and my husband and slowly,  I was able to start seeing other people again. I was able to start investing in others and look outward instead of just inside myself. A weight was lifted and it was like I was coming out of a horrible fog.

I am NOT saying that Christianity, this life I’ve chosen, is one of chains and dreariness and constant sadness. It is quite the opposite. It is learning deep and abiding JOY as opposed to fleeting HAPPINESS.

This whole line of thinking informs my parenting and homeschooling. I could do the easy thing and give into my kids so they will be happy and my life will be temporarily peaceful. But in the end, that is the greatest injustice I can do for my kids…. to always give them what will make them happy. Happiness is NOT the goal. So… what is the goal?

Sanctification…. Christ Likeness… Eternal Perspective.

I am so glad that I have been adopted into the family of a loving and merciful God who gently teaches me and doesn’t expect me to get it all right upfront.

 …being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Happy Monday Everyone !!!

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Second Rate Faith

**Post contains Afflilate Links**

We are reading through this devotional right now:

You can get it for the Kindle (which is what we use): Case for Christ for Kids 90-Day Devotional

Or in PaperBack: Case for Christ for Kids 90-Day Devotional (Case For… Kids)

Last week, we read a chapter than likened Christianity to getting into a pool of cold water. Some people dip their toe in to test the waters. Some start at the shallow end and work their way to the deep. Some people go whole hog and do a cannonball right into the deep end.

It got me thinking. What do I want for my kids? The truth is, I don’t want them to have a second rate faith. I don’t want their relationships to Jesus to be ho hum or back burner or non existent. I don’t want them to be luke warm. But then I realized… my faith is second rate. My faith is ho hum. My faith is back burner and luke warm at times.

How am I to challenge them to see the depth of the love of Christ and the unending grace He offers if I can’t even see it. How to I model this Christ to them that I want them to have when I don’t have that kind of faith. It challenges me to think that I am one of my childrens’ first exposures to Jesus. Who do they know him to be by my actions. Do they know grace and forgiveness? Am I teaching them to be little pharisees… to outwardly follow rules with no depth or grace or heart? Do they see love or anger from me? Grace or Legalism?

What a burden I could turn this into if I didn’t believe that God is so much bigger than me. I have to trust that He placed these children into mine and my husband’s keeping. That he is shaping and molding them according to his great wisdom. But still… I wonder.

I have been challenged to go to my knees in prayer for these precious little ones. I posted THIS PRAYER GUIDE a while ago. I think it’s time to print it out and put it into action!

I’ve also been reading this book:

It’s helping me. I struggle with the balance between justice and grace. This book is helping me to know how to help my children experience God’s grace. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Neither did my husband. We are navigating these waters together and learning so much as we go.



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Blessed By Community


We have had a rough winter. That seems to be the case with our family. I don’t know why, but our family really gets hit hard with sickness… often! Most recently, Baby Girl (who is 2) was hospitalized with pneumonia. It was a very rough week to say the least. We went to the doctor everyday for three days in a row until they finally decided to admit us.

I had been battling some health issues of my own… which is really nothing new. I have a daily battle with my thyroid. For some reason, for the week before Baby Girl went to the hospital, I was really struggling with depression and hopelessness. I was withdrawing deeper into myself and having a very hard time with the day to day.

When Baby Girl went into the hospital, I was kind of snapped back into reality. Taking care of her helped get my attention off myself.

But the real thing that pulled me back out was how amazing our community is. When we got to the hospital, I was met at the desk by the nurse that actually delivered Baby Girl. To see a familiar face was so comforting. I proceeded to post on facebook what was going on and ask for prayer. Immediately people responded with encouragement, prayers and offers to help.

We ended up staying three nights in the hospital. Three nights in the middle of the week. We have three other children and my husband works full time. I wasn’t worried though. I knew that people would step up and help us care for our children. They did. It was such a blessing. I had people offer to keep the kids and bring us dinner.

It was especially great to see the different gifts of those in our community come to light. I have a couple of dear friends, who like me, have the love language of gifts. One showed up at the hospital with a frosty and fries. They other showed up with gifts for Baby Girl. I was definitely feeling loved on.

I guess I say all this to express how truly thankful I am for the community we have been blessed with. It stretches beyond just the town we live in. Friends and family from all the many places we have lived in the last few years were texting and messaging me to let me know that they were praying for us. I know some people have issues with social media like Facebook… but I think, in this situation, it was a great tool to reach out and ask for help.

I wish I could say everything was better when we got home… but just a few days later, poor Little Sis popped up with hives… head to toe! We think she had an allergic reaction to her antibiotic.

Longing for the day when there will be no more sickness, but thankful for those that we get to do life with here in the mean time.

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Running the Race with Endurance

Run the Race

Confession time: My quiet times and Bible study with the Lord has taken a severe hit since having children. I’d like to blame the children, but the reality is, I am the one responsible. For a while, I would think about having a good quiet time. I would feel guilty when I didn’t. Eventually though, I just stopped even thinking about it. I didn’t stop believing in God. I didn’t stop referring to his Word. I knew he was there. I knew he was true. I just stopped spending time with him… real time. I would count reading the kids’ Bible at night or doing school as quality time with God… when in reality, it wasn’t.

I’m still not there. I’m really not. But the desire is back. I actually think about and WANT to have quiet times again.. for the first time in years. I even accomplish it at times.  It is overwhelming though… to know where to start… to come back around and start again. I feel guilty… I feel like I should be farther along in the race of Christianity.

When a new year comes around, people usually pile on the goals and resolutions… I’m going to exercise… I’m going to lose weight…I’m going to spend more time with the kids and less time with my phone…. I’m going to keep my house clean… I’m going to read my Bible every day. And we do these things consistently for a time… some make it longer than others… but then routine sets in and more often than not, those goals go on the shelf to gather dust.

I read this the other day… Hebrews 12:1-4

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

I have read this before… many times. I usually only see the part that says “run the race with endurance.” But what stood out to me this time was the part that says, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings closely…”

Each morning, HIS mercies are new. Each moment we have the freedom to lay aside the weight, the sin that clings so closely. Each day we can make a choice. Philippians 3:13 encourages us to “forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead.”

You didn’t meet your goal yesterday, last month, last year… forget what lies behind. Strain forward. Don’t let the guilt of not doing it defeat you, immobilize you. Strain forward. Strain… that doesn’t indicate ease. That makes me think of when I’m on the last half mile of a long run and I am literally begging my body to keep going. Strain. Push. Press on.

What that looks like for me is different than what it looks like for you. But the exhortation is the same. Run the race with endurance. Set aside the weight, the sin and strain forward.

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To Halloween or Not to Halloween


I want to preface this post by saying I’m not here to judge or condemn and I would ask the same from you. I am simply voicing my struggle with this particular subject. I appreciated the sermon that our pastor preached this past Sunday from the passage in Romans 14. He was addressing the subjects of grace and legalism.

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

This week, every year, my anxiety level goes up. I question my convictions. I feel isolated and at times, guilty for the choices we’ve made. I feel left out from the crowd and I find myself feeling awkward as I explain to people… we don’t celebrate Halloween.

I was telling my husband that I struggle every year for a couple of reasons. First of all, I grew up celebrating Halloween. I have fond memories of it. It is one of the few times I remember my brothers investing time in me and taking me trick or treating. I remember my dad stepping away from work and watching sports on TV to carve pumpkins with me. The second reason is this… I believe that God laid in on my heart before I even met my husband to abandon the practice of celebrating Halloween. I wrote more about that in a POST a couple of years ago. That conviction was confirmed when God brought a man into my life that felt the same as I did about the subject. But I will confess, it is hard to go against the grain. I don’t mind being counter cultural when it comes to being a Christian… but to be counter cultural in my own church has proven to be a struggle for me.

I feel left out (at times) because we don’t celebrate Halloween and we don’t watch shows about zombies and we don’t read Harry Potter or a number of other books that involve sorcery.

I’m not out to change your mind about Halloween. I’m really not. I’m also not asking for you to tell me the value on handing out tracts to trick or treaters or how I should use the “holiday” as a time for missions. I’m just expressing some thoughts here on what it’s like to have made a decision that is in the minority… even within the church body.

I asked my kids the other day if they ever felt like they were missing out because we don’t celebrate Halloween. I asked if they understood why we’ve made the choice not to participate. Big Sis said it’s hard because Halloween is a holiday and she likes to celebrate. I told her that I totally understand. We are a family who loves to celebrate. We discussed the different holidays that we do celebrate like Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter. We talked about how those holidays point us to Jesus. Those holidays cause us to reflect on our Savior. I explained that Halloween not only doesn’t point us to Jesus, it points us to evil.

I have been reading the book, Six Ways to Keep the Good in Your Boy. One section put into words how I feel about Halloween and so many of the books that are marketed towards our children that feature witchcraft, zombies and mysticism…

Avoid books that blur the lines between good and evil…There are “good” vampires for our daughters to lust after and “good” witches for our sons to idealize. Be careful! The Bible says witchcraft is evil and is opposed to a proper dependence on God Himself…. We should never take anything to do with witches, vampires, or darkness lightly, especially if it is not clearly spelled out that it is evil.

In my opinion, Halloween takes what is evil and blurs the lines. At the library today, there was a “friendly” mummy poster encouraging my children to read. In the children’s museum, there were smiley ghosts and witches all about. A sweet lady invited the kids to story time. I asked if the book was about Halloween and she said. she would check. She reported back that it was just about pumpkins… and there were a couple of witches and ghosts, but no, it wasn’t about Halloween. The lines between good and evil are blurred … and I think Satan likes it that way.

I struggle because I hear the arguments that this time of year is just fun or a great time to reach out or really not that bad if you don’t dress up in the evil costumes. I just can’t make sense of it though. I just can’t bring myself to be okay with it. For the next week, I will struggle. I will wish that I could put my decision aside and join in. I will wonder what my kids will say and do when they grow up. I will wonder if we’ve made the right decision. I will blush when people ask my kids what they are dressing up like for Halloween. I will receive awkward stares when they tell people that we don’t celebrate.

I came across this post from What’s the Bible… it contains several different opinions/ approaches to Halloween from well known Christian bloggers. You might find it interesting.


Filed under confession, halloween. halloween history, life

For Those Who Think I Have it All Together

I often have friends tell me things like “You are so laid back. How do you do it?” Or “You make it look so easy…”

To those friends… first, of all… thanks… I guess. I can only say that God’s grace must be shining through because I, indeed, do NOT have it all together… and I am sure that my children would argue the statement that I am laid back.

Yesterday… I did not have it together.

We’ve been battling mold in our basement. I am terrified at what lurks beneath. My husband’s car broke down this week. I am dreading what that might mean for us… money poured into fixing it? Scrapping the car and becoming a one car family… I know… first world problems. I’m sorry… I live in a first world country… they may be first world problems, but they are problems. We homeschool… community keeps me sane. If I don’t have a car to connect to said community… well… let’s just not go there.

Baby girl is up during the night and up early in the morning. This mama is sleep deprived. This mama needs sleep.. legitimately… more sleep than the average person.

Anxiety was the name of the game yesterday. Things were not easy and I was not laid back. I did not handle whining well. I did not handle simple requests well. I did not handle Baby Girl opening and trying to climb into the microwave on multiple occasions well. I did not handle Baby Girl pulling markers out and “painting” her toes. I was looking forward to nap time. I was sad when it was over.

I did not speak with gentleness and grace to my children. I grumbled. I whined and I complained. I did not take a deep breath and count to 10.

I fed them crescent rolls and eggs for dinner… they had popcorn and fruit the night before… so much for meal planning this week.

I’m thankful God’s mercies are new every morning.

One of the best words of wisdom I received from a dear friend a few years ago was to pray for my children… specifically to pray that their hearts would be like a colander… that as all the things of the day flow through their hearts, only the nuggets of truth and love would remain… that all the junk (that they see, hear, experience… even if it’s from their stressed out mom) would wash away. I prayed that for my children last night.

They are such a beautiful example of unconditional love. They greeted me with hugs and kisses this morning. They declared their love for me as if nothing ever happened. I would like to see me through their eyes… I have a feeling it’s a much different picture than what I imagine myself to be.

Parenting is hard. It stretches me and pulls me and breaks me.

At the end of the day… I’m glad for it.



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Mother’s Day 2013


I wish I could wake up every morning at 5:30 AM to the sound of my 16 month old crying and have my first thought be “oh, I’m so thankful for that sweet little blessing!” I have, at times, felt so guilty when I read facebook statuses of people who sing the praises of their children and just go on and on about how blessed they are. People tell me that I need to treasure the little years because they go so quickly…. to enjoy every moment.

Every moment?


Like the moment when everyone in the house was sound asleep except for the 16 month old who was screaming and climbing all over me because she wanted to play. And then, when I gave her a waffle to quiet her down, she proceeded to grind it into my shirt, hair and the sofa we were sitting on.

Or like when my children came stumbling, sleepy eyed out on Mothers Day morning and immediately asked for food and tv instead of lavishing me with Mothers Day greetings, homemade cards, etc.

Or when, later that day, I was stuck in the bathroom of the posh country club that my parents belong to… changing a stinky (and I mean stinky) diaper with NO wipes. I texted for help as I sat there on the floor (because there was no changing table) and waited and waited and waited for help to come!

Am I really expected to treasure those moments?… covered in waffles? covered in poop?

Don’t get me wrong… I love my children. I adore my children. I can’t imagine life without my children. They have taught me so much about myself and about the love and patience that the Heavenly Father lavishes upon me. I am amazed at how they love me, despite the fact that I might be covered in waffles… and poop. I enjoy watching them play. I love to hear the games they make up. I love reading to them and teaching them… hiking with them, exploring the world with them. I do love being a mom.

I want to be a mom who, while picking up the dirty clothes from the floor or putting shoes in the shoe basket for the tenth time that day or washing dishes, again can say “I am so thankful for the little hands that made these messes.” “I am so thankful for the food that went on these plates and filled our bellies” “I am so thankful for the sweaty little feet that ran around in these stinky little shoes.”… But quite honestly… I’m just not always in that frame of mind.

I am constantly getting on to my eight year old about how ungrateful he is… about everything! Perhaps I should swallow that pill, take my own medicine and check out my own heart. You would think that being thankful would come easily. There are so many ways in which we are blessed each day… but thankfulness really is  discipline that must be practiced often.

Ok… I get it… I need to stop looking at the sippy cup as being half empty and train myself to see it as half full. I need to stop thinking about the sleep I’m missing and start thinking about the time I’m getting with my littlest snuggle bug. Stop thinking about the dirt on the floor, counters, sink and start thinking more of the ones who are behind all that tom- foolery!

After the waffles and poop yesterday, my husband took us all to a flea market… because I love yard sales… he let me loose… all by myself to peruse and purchase at will. He took the kids and let them pick out gifts from me. How can I not be thankful for that.. and check out these awesome gifts:


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Joy Comes in the Morning

In college, we often sang the song, Trading My Sorrows (based on Psalm 30)

[1] I’m trading my sorrow
I’m trading my shame
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I’m trading my sickness
I’m trading my pain
I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord

And we say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord
Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen

I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I’m blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy’s gonna be my strength

Though sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes in the morning.

Our family has been so sick this season… off and on since September. We’ve had colds, coughs, stomach bugs (twice), croup, ear infections, sinus infections, etc. We usually get about a week of relief in between sicknesses… just enough time for me to think everything is going to be okay and we are finally going to be healthy!

This past month, however, there has been NO break. The little girls were still on antibiotics for their ear infections when the stomach bug hit. It tore through our home, leaving a helpless wake of victims in its path. We’ve never had that many people throwing up at once… it was awful.

As I lay in bed, after a day of cleaning vomit and trying to keep the baby away from the sickies… all while being sick myself (sidebar… my husband is amazing and was right there in the trenches with me). … I kept thinking about the song… and about the verse… Though this sorrow may last for the night, Joy comes in the morning!

When Little Sis came out from her nap and threw up all over the hall, I felt so discouraged… so beat up… so attacked! I mean… we didn’t get any kind of break from the last sickness before this next one started. I don’t know about you, but nothing leaves me feeling more vulnerable than the stomach bug… it’s a helpless feeling… not knowing when or who it might get next.

A friend texted to see how we were doing… I told her I felt beat up and discouraged… she said she was praying for us as we longed for heaven together. That text struck me… yes… joy comes in the morning… but how long until another sorrow strikes? Oh for the day when there will be no more sorrow… no more tears… no more sickness or death or pain. Oh for that eternal morning of joy.

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To Judge or Not to Judge

Don't judge people you never know what kind of battle they are fighting | Anonymous ART of Revolution

I found this picture on Pinterest… I’m sorry… I don’t know who to give credit to.

I have vented my frustrations on here before about the unnecessary comments people feel the need to make when I am out and about with my four. You know… like “wow, you sure have your hands full” or “are those all your’s.” I really don’t understand why people feel the need to say anything at all about the number of children I have with me. It’s like if you have more than one child, you must be some kind of crazy person!

I have found that I can tolerate ignorant comments from strangers much more than I can handle the judgment that seeps out from those who should be more understanding.. other moms! Especially other moms who are of similar mind set and have multiple children!!!! We’re on the same team ladies… we should be having each other’s backs… building each other up… not tearing each other down.

I have come to the conclusion that we are all desperately insecure. Our insecurities come out in different ways. Some of us are timid, constantly questioning the decisions we are making for our children. Should I potty train now? Cloth diapers or disposable? To spank or not to spank? Am I doing enough to prepare them for school? Should I homeschool? We ask questions of other moms. We hold ourselves up to an unattainable standard. We compare ourselves to other moms, using them as the measuring stick of our success or failure. Other show insecurities in different ways… they want to appear in control… so they become the “expert” on everything. They have an answer for all our parenting woes. They know exactly when and how to potty train. They know the solution to your child’s behavior problem. They parent you as you try to parent your child.

I really do think much of these behaviors come from a place insecurity, but come out as judgmental. The fact of the matter is, we are all created in God’s image… and we are all gifted by him… but we are not all the same. We have different gifts, different talents and different abilities. God created us as unique individuals with a purpose.

One of my favorite things that I learned from a mom to mom mentoring group that I was part of is that “God has a will.” You want to know when you should potty train your child, ask Him.. He has a will. How should you discipline your child… ask Him.. he has a will. Should you have your child tested for ADD… as Him… he has a will. Should you have more children… ask Him.. he has a will. Should you work or stay at home or both… ask Him… he has a will.  I think you get the point. His is the voice we should listen to!

SO…how do we drown out all those other voices that scream for our attention. How do we filter through all the advice, criticisms, comments, critiques that we receive?

I don’t know… when you figure it out, will you tell me?

I mean… I guess the answer is really spend time with the One who actually has all the answers. Read His word.

Here’s the thing… everyone has a story. There are things that happen in our lives that inform our decisions and behaviors. Until you know someone’s story, you really have no right to judge… and even if you do know the story… use discernment. I have been on the receiving end of judgment. I have also doled out judgment of my own. Neither one really feels all that good. I guess I’m just pleading to the other moms out there… can we give each other some grace? Can we speak to each other with love and not condemnation? Can we work on the planks in our own eyes before we start in on each other? Motherhood is a tough job… we need all the encouragement we can get!


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Plants and Pillars top 10 posts of 2012

top ten

I see many blogs posting their top ten of 2012. I thought I’d jump on the train and share mine too. I’ll post from my most frequently viewed posts as well as my personal faves. Enjoy this look back on Homeschooling, Child-Raising, Marriage and Life from Plants and Pillars in 2012. (these are not in any particular order)

1. Caught Not Taught… a look at how what we do speaks louder to our children than what we say

2. Crying over Spilled Breast Milk… confessions of a sleep deprived mom of a newborn

3. Pinterest Made Me Do it: Kids’ Bathroom

4. A Few of My Favorite Sewing Tutorials

5. How to Write a Unit Study

6. Great Educational Websites

7. School’s Out for Summer… A look back over our 2011-2012 school year

8. Let them Be Little

9. Prayer Guide for Family and Self Printables

10. Our Homeschool Day

Well… that’s it… my top ten of 2012. I had a baby this past year. We became more involved in the local homeschooling community. My involvement in the virtual community has dwindled. I am hoping to make time for blogging in 2013. Only time will tell!

Linking up with:

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

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