When God Whispers…

It started six years ago as a small whisper in the quietest spaces and most protected places of my heart. A call into a deeper ministry for Jesus and in service to others, to grow in love for, learn more about, and to be equipped to teach the Word of God by pursuing a seminary education. I thought over what I believed I had heard from God and considered what it would mean for my life, our life as a family already busy in ministry.

I wish I could say I was like Mary who answered the Lord’s call with “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled,” Yet, I was more like other less confident, less qualified, less-everything characters, and rattled back a lot of questions and concerns, “Me God? How God? When God? Really, God? I am not so sure, God.” And then I would silence the whisper with wonderful other things and noisy distractions. Yet, the whisper persisted.

Over the next four years, I was prodded by a continuous nudge and pondered the call that was growing louder. I wasn’t able to shake it off as easily as I had before. Everything I thought about and worked on led me back to this passion for Jesus, for women, for families, for the Word of God. Fear kept me from sharing things aloud, but God kept sharing with me in personal, quiet ways. He gave me many signs, opportunities and encouragement to be stretched and challenged. I received each of these things as individual, separate blessings, but now looking back I see them as a cumulation of stepping stones in a path of trust and faith.  

I cannot remember what happened first- the dream I had of jumping into unknown, murky waters- or blurting out what was on my heart at a MOPS Training event. But after that dream and sharing my deepest thoughts and now a true desire, I felt like the doors of my heart were flung opened and sunlight flooded in. Each time I shared with someone, I felt a fresh breeze of confidence and excitement fill my heart. I had no details or any idea how all of it was going to work, I was a bit apprehensive about stepping into this new thing, but I trusted that if it was from the Lord, He would provide the way and His will would be done. I sought wise counsel and asked others to pray for discernment as deciding what the next steps would be.

The next steps came in the forms of essays, recommendation letters, transcripts that translated into an application to Gordon-Conwell Seminary. Pressing the final send button on the application after so many years of praying, conversations and counsel, tears and “wrestling” with what exactly was I was being called to do, was both scary and exhilarating. I gave it all a rest, handed it over to the Lord confident in the fact that I had done everything I possibly could do. A few months later, ten days before my birthday, I found out I was accepted. God and my supportive family worked out all the details and I started classes this semester, six years (or more) since I first heard the whisper.

It’s only been a few months, and already seminary has been an incredible, humbling experience. Seminary is helping me develop better listening skills- listening to the Spirit and to others. I’ve been discovering treasures that have been right in front of me, but with new background and contextual information I’ve been able to find them. I’ve been working through preconceived thoughts and ideas that I’ve previously accepted as truth, only to find there are other thoughts and ideas that might line up better with God’s word and His ways. I am dwelling in the incredible redemption story of the Bible, soaking up grace to new levels, reveling in the steadfast love and patience of Creator God, and trying to take in as much as I can.  

So, if it’s quiet here in this space and on my blog, know I am still here. I’m just taking time to listen and study, feeling so incredibly grateful for the way God speaks and the way He waits. It’s often in the quiet places that He speaks the loudest. It’s often the least confident and least qualified that He calls. The wrestling, the suffering, the questions are often an invitation to trust and follow Him to places and things that are greater and far better than you might ever have imagined.


101 Ways to Have More Fun (and why you should!)

There was no escaping the heat. It was just plain hot! Hot inside, hot outside. I was inside, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, trying to stay cool under the breeze of the ceiling and box fans.

The kids were outside. Running and jumping through the cool shower of the sprinkler. Their laughter rose louder and louder, their joy permeated through the drawn shades causing me to stop and listen.

I should be out there with them.

The thought was a brief one. Overpowered by the pictures of friend’s vacations, soap box opinions, inspirational memes, and requests for prayers in my view. Other people’s lives played out and captured in posts and squares. All the while my own life was happening right outside my window. Little moments were fluttering and flying by as quickly as the news and pictures came across my screen.

I should be out there with them.

Once more, I returned to my screens smiling at the happy faces of my friend’s kids and funny short videos from my favorite comedian. Then I read an unexpected update of a cancer battle and then the news of a friend’s illness in which the doctors could do no more. I felt like I was shocked awake. Life is so precious and short- a beautiful mix of joy and sorrow. I sighed. Tuning into my kids’ voices and laughter again.

I want to be out there with them.

With that, I put down my phone, closed my laptop, ran to put on my bathing suit, and joined the family fun outside. The looks on my children’s faces were of surprise and delight. I grabbed their hands and together, over and over, we ran through the sprinkler having more and more fun each time we went through. The heat and heaviness of the day dripped off into the coolness and joy of the moment.

Sometimes having more fun means getting off your rear end, moving away from the comfortable couch and chairs, and putting a little more effort into the mix. Sometimes having more fun means thinking about others more than yourself. It might mean planning ahead. It could mean making a beautiful mess and definitely could add more cleaning up to your to-do list.

BUT having more fun means fully living the life you’ve been given with more joy and delight. It means making memories that stick in hearts and minds and blossom into lasting interests and creativity. It means being present with the ones you love. Having fun is a gift of life.

Here are 101 Ways to Have More Fun with the kids in your life! Try some of these activities together. You might cringe at the mess, laugh at the fails, but you will not regret the time you spent and the memories made with your loved ones.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which earns me a small commission. Please see full Policy Disclosure here.

  1. Run through a sprinkler .
  2. Blow bubbles.
  3. Nature Sunprints
  4. Make popsicles.
  5. Design and make Coffee Filter Butterflies
  6. Go on a Mystery Ride (any destination works!)
  7. Paint Kindness Rocks.
  8. Fingerpaint
  9. Bake a treat together. My daughter loves this cookbook
  10. Have a dance party!
  11. Color with coloring books.
  12. Write and put on a skit.
  13. Design a mural with sidewalk chalk.
  14. Take a trip to Hawaii without never leaving your home.
  15. Go on a Nature Walk.
  16. Build a fort.
  17. Play the Scribbles and Lines game. Each person needs a piece of paper. Everyone draws a simple line or scribble on the paper. Switch papers with each other and turn the scribble into a masterpiece.
  18. Identify wildflowers. I LOVE these two books for identification. Audubon and Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide.
  19. Collect and press flowers. Please be sure you are not collecting rare or endangered species. Check this list here.
  20. Jumprope 
  21. Raise and Release Monarchs
  22. Have a hula hoop competition.
  23. Karaoke (find lyrics online or use a karaoke app)
  24. Have a Lego challenge.
  25. Make shadow hand puppets
  26. Play hide & seek
  27. Sew a mini treats, animals, and garden felt crafts.
  28. Play tag.
  29. Collect trash around your community and make art.
  30. Create a boat and watch it float.
  31. Play card games. We love Uno and Sushi Go
  32. Water gun war.
  33. Glow Stick toss (at night)
  34. Set up a Mud Kitchen and make Mud-cakes
  35. Play Red Light, Green Light
  36. Play Hopscotch
  37. Play I Spy
  38. Noah’s Ark Memory Game– The first person starts by saying, “Noah was boarding the ark, and he took…” The person then completes the sentence with something that begins with the letter “A,” such as “an aardvark.” The next person would then say, “Noah was boarding the ark, and he took an aardvark and ….” completing it with a word that begins with B. Continue going around until the entire alphabet has been completed. 
  39. Make Rainbow Bubble Snakes
  40. Play Simon Says
  41. Thumb Wrestle
  42. Floral Butterfly Wings
  43. Mad Libs 
  44. Take turns making up stories.
  45. Water balloons fight
  46. Make a fly paper airplanes. Fold’ N’ Fly has a ton of great ideas! (check out Wonder Wings launching later this year.)
  47. Nature Scavenger Hunt
  48. If you have a gas stove, make stovetop s’mores
  49. Animal Guessing Game
  50. Play dress up.
  51. Balloon Pop Painting
  52. Have a tea party.
  53. Do a science experiment. Or a STEAM project.
  54. Read books aloud. Here are a few of our favorites. 
  55. Write a story together.
  56. Work on a puzzle.
  57. Make Popsicle Sticks Bookmarks
  58. Play BINGO
  59. Wet Chalk Art
  60. Play with Ice Boats
  61. Write letters of gratitude to family, friends and community members. Need ideas? Check here.
  62. Make a collage with magazines.
  63. Number Hunt
  64. Go swimming.
  65. Have a watermelon spitting contest.
  66. Playdough bug fossils.
  67. Make lemonade.
  68. Have a lemonade stand.
  69. Go on a picnic.
  70. Make ice cream in a bag.
  71. Paper dolls
  72. Origami
  73. Learn to identify birds and their calls.
  74. Choreograph a dance.
  75. Make Star Crystals.
  76. Build rock towers.
  77. Paint pet rocks.
  78. Make and play with playdough.
  79. Create pictures with glue & sand, salt or instant coffee.
  80. Make sock puppets and put on a puppet show.
  81. Paint with shaving cream.
  82. Design peg dolls. Need inspiration? Summer Boredom Buster Board 
  83. Kool-Aid Scented Glue, Colored Window Clings
  84. Texture rubbings with crayons and charcoal – leaves, barks, even gravestones
  85. DIY Soap and Scrub Bars
  86. Charades
  87. ABC Scavenger Hunt There are different variations of how to do this,  from magnetic letter to paper plates. I like the paper plate option with the notches.
  88. Tissue Paper Flowers
  89. Create a fairy house.
  90. Frozen t-shirt game.
  91.  Twister
  92. Ice Age- freeze a bunch of small figures, coins, and animals in a block of ice and have kids excavate the items. 
  93. Create a sensory bin
  94. Do a random act of kindness or an act of service. 
  95. Turn a pool noodle into a racetrack. 
  96.  Paint with flowers and nature prints. 
  97. Suncatchers (see ideas on Summer Boredom Buster Pinterest Board)
  98. Create Nature Windchimes
  99. Make Friendship and paracord bracelets
  100. Create Fuse Bead Magnets
  101. Enjoy quiet time to rest! 


Goodbye, Chores!

Goodbye, chores!

Hello, personal responsibilities and acts of service!

In preparation for this upcoming school year, I’m FINALLY getting around to reading Laying Down the Rails- A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook by Sonya Shafer. This book and its habit-training companion, Laying Down the Rails for Children by Lanaya Gore, are full of ideas and activities, thoughts and suggestions for cultivating habits of good character. Both books are causing me to think about our home and habits- what we do, why we do it, and the importance of these things in our lives.

“Sow a habit, reap a character.’ But we must go a step further back, we must sow the idea or notion which makes the act worth while.”

Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education

The books give reason and offer inspiration and encouragement for habit training. Over sixty habits are broken up into sections. It is suggested that parents learn how habits are formed, select one habit to focus and work on over several weeks, and be watchful each day to help children apply the concepts being learned.

Our family is starting with one of the “Decency and Propriety Habits” of cleanliness.

Cleanliness is being careful to keep clean to stay healthy and keep surroundings clean and orderly.

In thinking about how to go about keeping a clean and orderly house, chores always come to mind. Over the years, we’ve tried several different chore charts and systems with little success. With each new system, we usually got off to a great start, but quickly burned out with systems too elaborate to keep up with or not motivating enough to care about.

I needed a simplified system, one that was easy to keep up with and effective. We like simple charts. I started thinking about what might a chart look like and include for our household.

There are primarily two types of things I ask the kids to do around the house:

  • personal responsibilities– things like getting dressed, making beds, personal hygiene, and taking care of personal belongings and space. Things that benefit the individual person.
  • chores or jobs– Things like folding clothes, delivering them to the correct room, sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms. Things that benefit others and the whole family.

From there, I made a personal responsibilities chart for each child to hang in their room. The other “chores/jobs” (things that needed to be done around the house), I hung on the side of the refrigerator and marked with a erasable marker with who is responsible to complete.

The plan is everyone is responsible, every day, for the things on their own chart and then we (as a family) will take an time in the morning or afternoon to do the other chart together. We’ll try it for a couple of weeks, revisit it, and adjust if necessary.

You may notice that instead of calling it “chores and jobs” on our chart, I’ve decided to call them “Acts of Service.” An acts of service is something one does to show love and care, respect, honor and value to others. When we clean and take care of our home and belongings, we are showing care, respect, honor, and value to God for his blessings and provision, and to each other.

Now let’s be honest….

Are acts of service still chores and jobs? Yes!

Does changing the language or the name make it magically different? No!

Will kids jump for joy and scurry off with a smile and a twirl when they see their name on the chart? Maybe. (most likely not)

It’s all in the presentation and explanation.

Whenever you are about to implement something new, I think it’s important to get your children involved in the process as much as possible. Make it fun! Take time to teach and explain. Allow your children to ask questions and offer suggestions. Come up with a plan together. Be ready to work hard and stick with it. Habit training is not easy. I think the mistake many people make (including myself, i.e. past chore systems) is doing too much, too fast, and not being consistent.

Please keep in mind, what works in one home, might not work in another. You need to find a system that works best for your family. This takes time, trial and errors, but I would encourage you to keep at it, keep trying, because the benefits of finding something that works will help prepare your children for life, as independent, responsible kids with a good work ethic. And that is a beautiful thing worth working for.

(Below are a few printable I’ve created that might be helpful if you are looking to start some habits of cleanliness in your home. I’m also in the process of creating a Pinterest board with ideas and activities to teach cleanliness. The link is below if you want to check it out and follow along. )


May Minded (suggestions for easing an overwhelmed mind)

“Homeschooling Mom Brain”

This picture is a good representation of my “homeschooling mom brain” in May. Each rock stands for little bits of information, events to remember, things to get done, material that still needs to be taught, connections that still need to be made, library books that need to be returned, summer scheduling that still needs to happen. And let’s not forget the recitals, costumes, award ceremonies, and planning for next year. I think there are a lot of other teachers and parents who can relate to this post as well.

May is like August, but in reverse. It’s gearing down instead of gearing up. Time to get things finished rather than started. It’s a major month of transition and anticipation. As the kids get older, time flies by faster, and the quicker the month of May comes and goes. If your brain is feeling overwhelmed, fragmented and “May-bilized,” here are a few suggestions that may help:       

Do nothing!

This may seem like the worst advice with all the things that need to get done, but it’s actually good advice and will help you get more things done in the end. Often in the franticness and hurry, we forget (or more truthfully, we make excuses not to stop) to take breaks and rest. We wear ourselves down to nothing and expect to be able to keep up the ridiculous pace we set. That’s silly! Rest renews energy and refines clarity. Your to-do list, tasks and text replies can wait. It’s about priorities, and priority should be given to rest.  So, shut off your phone, find some time to stop, and give yourself permission to be still.     

Take a hike!

There are constant reminders around my house of the things I have to do or should be doing- schoolwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry. Very often I need a change of view- literally and emotionally. Sometimes, others realize I need some new scenery before I do. My husband is great at gently suggesting I would enjoy a walk to get out of the house and get some fresh air. A fifteen minute walk, by myself, can be rejuvenating. Switch up the scenery, get some exercise, and I think you may see the things you could be doing and the privilege of the things you get to do with more clarity.  

Do something scary!

Gaining confidence through conquered fear is great for personal growth and productivity. Fear is a chain that keeps us in familiar territory and wants us to function in the same old patterns. It also adds a level of stress that gives unnecessary weight to things we need to do. Often fear of inadequacy, failure, uncertainty, and change come with times of transitions. Doing something scary can break through chains of fear and set you free in confidence. The more fear broken, the more confidence gained, the more freedom acquired. Freedom opens up opportunities and new ways of doing things.     

Find new people.

Sometimes we are around our people so often we take them for granted. When we meet new people, we increase our sense of belonging and can be reminded of our purpose. Spending time with new people bring different perspectives, refreshment, and make us appreciate our “family tribe” with greater gratitude and satisfaction!  

Have fun!

There’s a place for fun on everyone’s to-do list. Add some fun back into your days with silly songs, funny YouTube videos, a good knock-knock joke, play with the kids. Learn to take yourself less seriously. And laugh often! Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner. 1

Now for the truth disclaimer! Resting, stopping, and taking breaks is very hard for me to do, and it may be hard for you too. BUT I know it’s the best thing for me (and you) and it’s especially important during a busy time. I often have to coach myself to ignore my to-do list, give myself permission to sit down, and focus on quieting down.

I was reminded of these things this week when our family went away to family homeschool camp. I went to camp with an overwhelmed mind and it took time to wind down. But once I was able to unwind, we did nothing but rest, took hikes, did scary things, meet new people, and had fun! I left camp relaxed and my mind was free to think clearly.

Stepping away from everything gave me the perspective that some of those “rocks” I was dwelling on were not as important as I thought. And some of the “rocks” were things to be appreciated because we are blessed we get to do them. I realize not everyone has the luxury of taking a few days away, but just trying one of two of the suggestions above can really make a difference to be more relaxed, rested and ready to enjoy May and what’s to come.


Teeth Unit (K-12 Curriculum Review)- Love at Home Education

There’s been a lot to do about teeth in our home. Four teeth pulled, impressions of teeth taken, a new retainer, a broken and fixed retainer, three visits to the dentist for regular cleanings, and one missed visit from the tooth fairy (oops!) All this happened within one month’s time!

So when Sarah at Love at Home gave us the opportunity to use her mini unit on teeth, I jumped at the chance to add some more education to our recent real-life experiences.

Sarah offers secular and faith curriculum on a number of topics. Her unit studies include multi-level activities that are easily adaptable for various grade levels. I really appreciate resources that all my children can use and benefit from in one lesson. I also appreciate the value for the cost. Sarah’s resources are reasonably priced and completely ready to use.

We started our teeth mini-unit by reviewing several key teeth vocabulary words. I like Sarah’s printables because they are clear to read, easy to understand, and the pages are not filled with “clutter.” (“Clutter” is too much of anything not needed for the lesson. i.e. cartoon, doodles, fillers)

After discussing dental vocabulary, we discussed the differences between milk and permanent teeth, the different types of permanent teeth, and the importance of taking care of them. The teeth unit includes interesting information and also suggestions for several integrated subject activities, like a polling and recording activity that involves interviewing.

To go along with this unit, I made a “mouth” sensory box with black beans and tooth shaped alphabet cards. My Kindergartner pulled the teeth with tweezers (great fine motor activity) and put the teeth in alphabetical order. Afterwards, we flossed and brushed the teeth.

Tooth Sensory Box and Fine Motor Activity

Learning about the different types of teeth reminded us of our visit to the Montshire Museum. We had attended a pop-up learning experience about animal teeth and their function. I love learning networking like this, when my children make connections to information they’ve already been introduced to or know something about.

Learning about teeth (and skulls) at the Montshire Museum

Next, we talked about the parts of a tooth. We drew and labeled a tooth picture using the unit’s diagram. We added red embroidery floss to represent the blood vessel.

Finally, we wrapped up the lesson with a few great books, including one of my childhood favorite’s Doctor De Soto.

A Few Favorite Teeth Books:

The amount of information and the type of activities is just right for a mini-unit. It is a very nice complete unit that could be used alone, or as a jumping- off point to more in depth research.

Thank you Sarah for letting us try your Teeth Unit Study! Click the link to get your Teeth Unit Study– Teeth Unit Study for K-12

Love at Home Education has many other great unit studies to choose from. Check them out at this link: https://loveathomeeducation.com/product-category/products/


It’s a Boy!

Six years ago, I experienced one of the most challenging events of my life- the birth of my son. His birth was the start of a journey through one of the deepest, unknown valleys I have yet to walk. It was a time that should have been one of the happiest moments in my life, but it will forever be marked with fear and grief, joy splintered by shattered expectations, and one of the most incredible seasons of seeking God and fireproofing my faith.

For months, I prayed and prayed for this child and on May 6, 2013, I was waiting to meet the little man I had fervently prayed for. I had spent the night in a hospital bed wondering when he was going to leave my warm, snug womb. Very true to his personality, he was making his entrance in his own time, in his own way.

Around hour eighteen of labor, the rhythmic machines I was connected to by the snaked and twisted cords, started making louder, more quickening sounds. A blur of multicolored scrubs, nurses and doctors rushed into my room. My head felt woozy and dazed. My oxygen level started to drop. I felt far away, like I was watching all this happening through a screen. I could see the worry on the face of my usually calm, level- headed husband.

Something wasn’t right. A wave of fear washed over me. My mind was unable to keep up with the noise and movement. My body was weak from the pushing and pain of labor.

The doctor said something about a C-section, followed by a push and a rush to the operating room. The white, blinding lights glared down at me. The curtain blocked my view. The medication blocked my pain. The fear attempted to block my faith.

I can not remember when my son was pulled from my womb nor do I remember hearing his first cry. I remember seeing nurses and doctors work on him and then on me. I remember someone bringing him close to my face so I could see him, to kiss his sweet face. Then I remember them whisking him away from me to the NICU.

I was wheeled back into the very same room I labored in. I felt an incredible amount of grief as I waited for my body to regain feeling. One kind nurse took pity on me and wheeled my over-sized bed down to the quiet, darkened halls of the NICU.

I saw my son through the glass doors of his hospital room. He was so tiny lying in a closed bed, hooked up to machines that made gentler noises than the hours earlier in the labor room. He looked so helpless, so alone.

The nurse positioned me as close to him as my bed would allow. She lifted him gently out of the enclosed plastic bed, placed him and all his connecting wires securely in my arms. Only hours before we were warmly connected to each other with a living life line, and now we were separated, connected to cold machines. I felt so disappointed, discouraged and then so guilty.

It wasn’t suppose to be this way. Everything I thought this birth was suppose to be, wasn’t. Every way I wanted it to go, it went a different way. My birth plan was completely overrided by unexpected events.

Guilt was a heavier weight. I felt guilty for not being more thankful. I had made it safely out of surgery. Shouldn’t I be happy? My faithful husband hadn’t left my side. Shouldn’t I be grateful? I had a community of people praying for me throughout the whole day. Shouldn’t I be rejoicing?? My son was alive! Shouldn’t that be enough?

I knew things could have been worse, so much worse, but I was caught up in the grief of “what could have been.” It’s amazing how feelings can powerfully cloud the truth. How fear can shame you into believing lies. I was weak in mind (and body) and trying to process the whole day. I was grabbing at anything to comfort me. Self-pity, discouragement, and lonesome lies were easier to find than truth.

It took four years before I was able to look at the first pictures taken of my son in the operating room. Four years. Up until then, every time I tried to look, I felt physically sick. It was too painful, too traumatic for me to be reminded and revisit that place, even in pictures.

One day with the healing that time grants, I felt brave to try to look again. It was then I was able to see things differently. A miracle of life was birthed in that room, but that was not the only thing.

A struggle, a season of suffering was birthed there too. A season that led to a bolder, braver, more faith-filled wife and mother of three. Walls I had pridefully built, God tore down. The need for control and plans to be craft-fully perfect was replaced with an invitation to trust and obey. God gave me fresh vision to see some of the plans for my life that He had written, and with His leading they were better than I could imagine.

A heart for fervent prayer was also birthed that day. Over the next long months, in the darkness of the weariest, loneliest nights, my friend Jesus walked with me, talked with me, wept with me, comforted me, and asked me to trust him time and time again. When I couldn’t pray, the Holy Spirit took over and He taught me what it meant to seek and wait.

It wasn’t a perfect time. It was a hard, difficult time. I endured lessons of failing and overcoming, patience and endurance. As my precious son grew in a stronger in a physical way, I grew stronger in a spiritual way.

We named our son, Jonathan, which means God’s gift. And God has used Jonathan as a gift that keeps on giving not only in my life, but in the lives of others as well.

From the very beginning of his life, he’s been loudly making his opinions known. He’s bold, brave and persistent. He’s playful and joyful, and his laugh and his giggles are contagious.

He’s makes me question my parenting skills more than any of my other children, but he has helped me know and stand firm in my convictions. He’s curious and asks the most interesting questions and this encourages me to research and know the most interesting answers.

On top of all these things, he has a heart of compassion. He is not afraid to go up to someone who looks lonely, say hello and even give them a hug. He can strike up a conversation with a stranger, and he asks the most poignant questions that goes straight to the heart. He teaches me more about child-like faith. Oh, and his prayers. He thinks nothing of laying hands and praying over people, and often we are following his lead in bowing our heads at any give moment, in any place, for any certain thing.

I am so thankful I get to be Jonathan’s mom. I’m so thankful for the son who God has made him to be and how Jonathan is growing up to be strong in so many ways. I am thankful for this journey of motherhood with him.

Although I wouldn’t want to go through the challenging beginning again, the valley of the sleepless nights, I can confidently say all of it was for my own good. It taught me a lot about myself and even more about God’s faithfulness and His love. God’s love is a strengthening, restoring, renewing, never fails, type of love!

If you are going through a valley, or a time that hasn’t gone the way you had hoped or planned, don’t give up. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. Maybe in a few more steps ahead, you’ll be able to look back and see something in the situation that wasn’t there before. A bit of new bravery, a root of resolve, a lesson learned. Often the best of what’s to be found is hidden in plain sight, but requires a fresh perspective to see.


Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5

Happy Birthday, Jonathan! You are a precious gift more than you ever might know! xo


Washington, DC with Kids – Tips and Kid-Approved Places

We just returned from a short, wonderful vacation with family in Washington, DC. Free of scheduled nap times, the extra bags and strollers that come with babies and toddlers, we really enjoyed this trip with our children ages 11, 9, and 6.

There is so much to see in DC it can be overwhelming to know what to do and where to begin. My kids and I sat down to talk about our trip and gave “kid-approved” rating and highlights of the things we saw. We are in no way travel experts, but I hope this post will offer a few tips and ideas if you are heading to DC.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US and OUR RATING SYSTEM:

Library of Congress

WHAT WE SAW AND HOW WE LIKED IT:

WWII Memorial

Our MUST-SEE Recommendations:

Botanic Garden

A few suggestions of PLACES TO EAT…

Our family ate at Ted’s Bulletin four times on this trip. It’s a great family restaurant. They serve breakfast and lunch, and have a wide variety of choices. We have many different diets in our family- gluten-free, vegan- and we were all able to find something to eat and enjoy. The service is excellent. (And they make homemade pop tarts which are a delicious treat!)

Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian

“Mitsitam” means “Let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples. The museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe enhances the museum experience by providing visitors the opportunity to enjoy the indigenous cuisines of the Americas and to explore the history of Native foods. The Cafe features Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere, including the Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains. Each of the five food stations depict regional lifeways related to cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavors found in both traditional and contemporary dishes. Selections include authentic Native foods such as traditional fry bread and corn totopos as well as contemporary items with a Native American twist—think buffalo burgers!” – National Museum of the American Indian Website

We had lunch here twice! (When we find something that works, we stick with it. 🙂 ) The first time I had a chilled cherry soup with three-sisters salad. The second time, I had vegetarian chili with fry bread!! (Ahhh, fry bread, where have you been my whole life?) The food was delicious and it wasn’t as crowded as other museum cafes.

Hirshhorn

A FEW TIPS BEFORE YOU GO:

1.) Make a tentative daily schedule of the places and things you want to see.

2.) Many museums have floor plans, exhibits, and maps online. Download and print museum maps ahead of time. Some museums list their must-see exhibits and offer additional educational items to print. As attention spans decreased and weariness increased, I was glad I took the time to look over the maps and buildings so I could direct my crew to what we wanted to see and save energy.

3.) Even though we used Google Maps for walking directions when needed, a printed copy of the National Mall was helpful . I used this one from the National Park Service.
https://www.nps.gov/state/dc/upload/nps-map-washington-dc.pdf

4.) Some buildings and tours require prior arrangements and reservations. The U.S. Capitol Vistor’s Center offers advanced reservations. I would highly recommend contacting the offices of your representatives and senators for booking a tour. We had an excellent tour by one of Representative Ruiz’s staff members. If you you are hoping to see millions of dollars being printed, tickets are available and required for a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Admission is free but tickets are on a first come basis. The ticket booth opens at 8:00 AM (click the link for more information.) United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Archives offers advanced tickets.

5.) Save some money by bringing and refilling a water bottle. And if visiting DC in the spring or summer, be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella for showers and pop-up storms.

NOTE: you will need to go through security at every museum at least once (sometimes multiple times.) Pack a light bag and help keep the security line moving by taking off backpacks and unzipping bags for security guards to easily look through items.

6.) The Metro, Public Transportation, and Uber saved time and tired legs. You can purchase a SmarTrip card online or in the Metro stations.

METRO
Museum of the Bible
Washington Monument from WWII Memorial