A New Journey Begins in the Place Where It All Started

This morning I was given the most wonderful opportunity. A true gift that I will tuck away and treasure. I was invited to be part of a group where my dreams were realized and now are coming true.

Ten years ago, I walked through the doors of a local church, and used every bit of courage I could muster to enter a room full of strangers. I had two babies under the age of two with me. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and felt in every way that I was “not enough.”

I had no clue what to expect. I was a lost in the maze of motherhood, and loaded down with expectations that I couldn’t meet. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore or where the person I once was went. I did not know what I doing, or where I was going. Motherhood was hard. My faith life was stale. And I felt like I was being broken into a million pieces.

I was being broken, to be built back up again.

When I sat down at that MOPS table, I didn’t know I was about to embark on one of the greatest journeys of my life. A journey that would allow me to travel alongside others, all on our own journeys but bound together by a thread of motherhood and love.

Over the next ten years, I kept walking through the doors of MOPS groups, sitting around tables, listening to speakers, discussing life and faith. I found my heart and soul, rediscovered my identity, and learned I wasn’t alone. I was fortified by food, encouraging words, and friendship. I was challenged to step into leadership and discover my purpose and calling.

Motherhood was still hard, but now I had strategies, insight, and a community around me. It was a matter of obedience and patience, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next right thing. It was (and is) about failing, embracing imperfection, accepting grace, and trying again, and again, and again.

New dreams were being formed in me. My faith was sparked into a fire. God was calling me to try things that made me deeply afraid, yet He gave me the boldness to try them. The new things were exciting and scary, and they made me feel alive.

It was at MOPS when I first heard God’s calling to become a pastor to women and families. To teach the Word of God and encourage others in their faith. It was at a MOPS Leadership Event, eight years later, when I finally said it out loud. And it was only a few months ago, when I started my first class at seminary, taking steps forward into my calling.

Today, I walked through those same doors as I did ten years ago. I walked into the same room, filled with different beautiful strangers. This time I walked through those doors as a mom and also a speaker, knowing who I am and filled with joy and gratitude.

As I spoke, I fumbled through some of my words. The light and the warmth that poured through room’s windows took me back ten years ago. Looking around the room at each beautiful face brought me right back to where it started.

I was distracted with joy from overcoming the battles I fought over the last ten years, joy from knowing that hard stuff produces the best things, and joy from being firmly established in my faith and walking in God’s good plans. I was filled with gratitude to have this opportunity to share from a place a little further down the road.

This space, like so many other MOPS meetings rooms and gatherings, is a holy place. A place where freedom can be found. identity can be reclaimed, and journeys are pathways to new dreams. For me, this specific MOPS room and group will always be special as it is where my journey began, and a new one begins.

***To the Leaders & Moms of the Windham MOPS group, Thank you, thank you for your warm welcome and allowing me to join you. Each one of you brings something special and important to the table. And regardless of how you “feel” right now, I believe that through Jesus, you can be FULL OF..

  • Faith to believe what God says about you
  • Love to reclaiming who you are
  • Courage to take the next step forward
  • Bravery to say no to harmful self-talk and habits
  • Grace to embrace failures and try again
  • Leadership to guide your children as they grow
  • Perseverance to advocate for my kids and see that they need
  • Hope for the future

Press on, my friends, and live abundantly. I’ll be praying for you! ❤


What Motivates You?

What motivates you? Are you ego-driven or purpose-driven?

An ego-driven person is motivated by self-preservation and self-seeking satisfaction. They have a high sense of self-importance and chase after goals for external validation. They spend most of their energy comparing themselves to others and blaming things outside of their control on their shortcomings. They like to dwell in the past, and have trouble seeing beyond the present. The ego-driven person has mistaken what they have or what they do for their identity. 2

Purpose-driven people are motivated to action by a purpose greater than themselves. They take responsibility for their actions and recognize failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. They are determined and confident, grounded and fueled by their mission to grow, help, give, and serve. Their identity is based in their purpose and have their sight set on the future.

As followers of Christ, we are not only purpose-driven, we are God-driven. The cross is our motivation. And our purpose is to worship and love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and with all our strength (Mark 12:30) We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mark 12:31) Deny ourselves of selfish ambitions and selfish ways, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus (Matthew 16:24.) We are to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. (Micah 6:8)

In this pursuit of our purpose, we are not to go on our own. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit who empowers and reminds us of what we are to do. The Spirit leads us to seek God, his strength, and his presence continually. (1 Chronicles 16:11)

This week, whatever we do, let the work on the cross be our motivation. Let us work with purpose and heart, and do it for the glory of God. (Col. 3:23, 1 Cor. 10:31)

Too often we view the cross only as a past event that secured our eternal destiny, and we fail to see how it can motivate daily choices and activities. Stop to contemplate all that God is continually accomplishing in you though the cross. Let it be your motivation to live wholeheartedly for Christ.- Charles Stanley


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/