Come to the Summit!

Come to the Summit!

Are you thinking yet about what to do after the Christmas excitement is over?!  ‘Cuz only weeks after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the new year is the best thing this side of the Mississippi.  The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit.  It’s a boatload of encouragement, refreshment and renewal!

 

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If you’re wondering what it is, here are some recaps of past Summits from different attendees:

And here you can see for yourself what attending The Summit looks like.

And now, for the first time ever, there is a way to attend The Summit FOR FREE! Here’s how:

  • Round up 5 friends who have never been.
  • Print off 3 of these registration forms.
  • Fill in the info for yourself and your 5 friends.
  • Collect the money and write one check to cover the registration for those 5. (YOURS IS FREE!)
  • Mail to:

Winter Summit
c/o Roxanne Parks
2612 Meadow View Road
Edmond, OK 73013

Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t have 5 homeschooling friends, but I would love to meet some like minded ladies!” We would love to have you at The Summit, and to help you get there we are offering a $10 discount code. When you register, simply apply the code “Pennington10“.

Okay, who’s ready to win a $50 Amazon gift card??? Anyone can enter and there are multiple ways, so be sure to increase your chances by visiting each blogger who will be attending The Summit!

AND as a special bonus, one lucky winner will receive the cost of their registration refunded in a drawing on January 1st!

Simply, leave a comment on this post to enter. Then, hop on over to the the other participating blogs to enter there, too. You will be given one entry per blog, for a maximum of 5 entries. One winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday, December 17 to receive the $50 Amazon gift card.

See you at The Summit!

When You’re Feeling Like a Failure

When You’re Feeling Like a Failure

This week on YouTube I am sharing some encouragement for you who are dealing with really hard times.

In the past couple of weeks many of you have opened up to me in letters and messages about feeling like a failure as a mom.  Oh my sweet friends!

Let me assure you that your child’s success in life does not depend on your level of perfection.

It would be impossible for you to not leave large gaps in your child raising.  That’s where God steps in and fills those gaps in ways you never could.  Yes, you mess up and sure, you could have done better.  I KNOW I COULD HAVE!!!  But I also know that my children have a heavenly father who is perfect in all ways and He will fix what I did wrong.

And your kids aren’t perfect either.  They will make some doozy mistakes in their lives and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  Trying to keep them from ever suffering will only keep them from knowing the truth of a God who is there for them in their deepest time of need.

Isaiah 41:10  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Read the whole chapter of Isaiah 41 for some deep encouragement!  When you are feeling like you are alone, turn to the Bible for comfort.  When you are consumed with the pain of heartbreak….He is there.  When He feels so far away and you don’t sense His presence like you used to, He is still there behind the cloud and taking care of your every need.

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I am walking through my own trials now too and I know the depth of the grief many of you are experiencing.  Some days I think my heart will literally break in half from the pain I am feeling.  Then I read a passage in God’s Word that comforts me and gives me a break from the hurting.

And remember, He lost His son too.  He knows your pain.  He cares.  He is ready to rock you to sleep and give you unexplainable peace.

Be sure to check my YouTube channel for more encouragement.

 

The Most Magical Place on Earth

The Most Magical Place on Earth

I was quiet on the blog last week because my family went on vacation….to Disney World!

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It was a dream come true kind of trip.  We had been planning it for about 6 months and even though we didn’t know it then, the timing was amazing.  We all needed a break from the difficulties going on at home.

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It’s more proof that God knows what is ahead for us and sets His plans into motion to take care of us. 

With so many of us there, it was hard to stay together so we ended up splitting up most of the time and meeting all together for dinner each day.  We tried to stay connected, but you know how it goes.

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We did manage to ride a few rides all together.

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We would divide into groups and I ended up spending most of my time with the two youngest boys.

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It was fun just to ride whatever they wanted and see the shows they were interested in.  We rode the train around Magic Kingdom and the carousel and everything the older kids had no interest in.

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But don’t think I had a slow paced time.  I love the roller coasters and occasionally I would sneak off with the fast action crew for some thrill rides.  The more loops and twists and turns the better in my opinion. (the girl on the end is a sweet friend who went with us)

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We would use our fast passes then run right back around to wait in line to ride the ride again.  Fun, Fun and more Fun.

Speaking of fast passes, I want to shout out how amazing our Disney travel agent was.  Amy, from Polka Dots N’ Wishes planned the whole thing for us and got us a great deal!  Plus she gave us tips for things we would never have discovered on our own.  I was thrilled with their service and will use them to plan another trip again for SURE!  If you’re going to Disney, contact them and let them know I sent you.

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It’s so great to be in a place where you look normal wearing costumes.  But my Minnie Mouse ears were hurting my head, so the next day I made my own.  I may start wearing my hair like that all the time.

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We met quite a few celebrities….including the biggest celebrity of all.

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I even made friends with a Lego muscle man.  He’s a little angry, but he’s still cute.

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While it was an amazing trip and I would do it all again, I am hoping to go back again with just James and I.  It seems weird at first to think of going without our kids, but then we realized we were spending the entire time doing what everyone else wanted, taking people to the bathroom, looking for lost hats, finding people to trade pins with, etc.  It’s what a parent does and we were totally glad to do it.  But it also sounds nice to do whole thing at our own pace.  So we are thinking of calling Amy and having her set up a “Mommy and Daddy only” kind of trip.  (ignore the black man in the photo with me – it’s from a ride – just pretend that’s James)

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And another great thing about the trip….it was our Christmas gift to the family.  So my Christmas shopping is done except for a few friend and teacher gifts which I have already ordered.  Booyah!!!

Have a very merry week!

 

A Shameless Plug

A Shameless Plug

So, we have this YouTube channel that we started a couple of months ago.  It’s going really well and I really do like doing the videos as a way to share with you. When my daughter Patience came to me with an idea she had to make a promotional video for me I told her to go for it!  She could just do whatever she wanted and we would follow her lead. It turned out so sweet and I love her style. I had to show you…..feel free to share it with people who you think might be blessed. And it would bless me so much if you hopped over and subscribed to our channel. Out of curiosity, what do you use YouTube for anyway?  I like to watch Tim Hawkins videos and music videos. when I want a break.

The Ups and the Downs

The Ups and the Downs

This post contains affiliate links.

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So many of you have been asking me about how things are going with our daughter that left home.  I appreciate it very much!  I haven’t given an update because there’s really nothing to tell.  She is still gone and we haven’t had much communication with her.

What I can tell you about is how we are pulling ourselves together at home.  We have been making an effort to find our new normal without her.  It has been really hard and we all miss her terribly, but I have learned a lot about how to deal with grief throughout the past month.  And one thing I know, as hard as it is to accept, is that I can’t stop my own life because of someone else’s choices.  (That doesn’t lessen the heartbreak, but it does help with feeling permission to move forward.)

I have been reading books that people have suggested to me.  Two that have really helped are A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss and Surviving One Bad Year: 7 Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning.  Both of them have deeply touched on what I have been going through and helped me get not only perspective, but gather strength from knowing that other people have felt what I am feeling.

The 10 of us at home have definitely drawn closer as we work to stay in communication with each other and how we are individually handling it.  Each of the kids will come to me at different times and want to talk about it.  They will be hurting or confused and we will just chat about it until they feel hopeful again.  There is always a lesson to be learned.

I definitely have days when I feel like I can hardly breathe and just cry for no reason.  Like, hard crying.  I know that’s part of the process.   Oh, those crazy stages of grief.  I swing from one to the other over and over…sometimes I go through the first four all in one day.

Then I will have 3-4 easier days.  The weather is nice and the kids will be doing OK and I will feel closer to God as I spend time in His Word.  I will think it’s going to be OK.  And honestly, I do know that it will be OK.  I really never doubt that.  Then I will think about how long that might take and I will suddenly swing back into grief again.

OK God, I am so over this rOlLeR cOAstEr.

From a practical perspective, we have made ourselves try to close the giant hole that she left and find ways to either take over her roles or learn how to do without them.

You always know it’s going to happen….that your kids will leave.  In fact, you really want to see your kids go off and make their lives out there in the big ol’ world.  But in that knowledge, you have some comfort that you will know where they are and what they are doing and what they want for themselves.  And if you really get your dreams you are able to help them a little.  You also, under normal circumstances, have some time to prepare for their leaving.  Three months of prepping for college or wedding or moving into their own place gives you time to make the transition.

But we had nothing.  Not even a goodbye.

I think it’s natural that we need time to recover from that.

But I have said it before and I will keep saying it as loud as I can…..GOD IS GOOD!  I trust Him, I love Him, I walk with Him.

And if He has me on this roller coaster for a reason, I can accept that.  The ups make me thankful and the downs make me pray harder.

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Joy Comes in the Morning!

Joy Comes in the Morning!

“Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

I spent the past weekend in the beautiful city of Greenville, South Carolina for the Allume conference.  I think of it as a women’s retreat for bloggers.  It’s definitely not like any other blog conference I have been to.  It’s heavy on worship and seeing yourself through Christ’s eyes and light on SEO and social media tips.

And it was exactly what I needed.

It’s been a month since our daughter left and the grief and shock are just beginning to lift.  The hundreds of emails and comments you all have sent have lifted my heart like you can’t even imagine.  I read them all and share them with my family and we pray for those of you who are going through a similar situation.

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At the conference I got to spend time with dear friends that know me so well.  They have prayed over me and cared for me as I walked through this difficult time.  What a gift it was to be with them in person and just leave it all behind for a few days.  We prayed, we worshiped, we laughed ourselves silly.  I even danced.  Hip hop.  Yes, I am a Diva-in-Training.

I came home with a fresh outlook and today, for the first time in a month, I don’t feel like I am dragging myself through the house pretending to be thinking about something else instead of the grief of our situation..  I truly am finding good in the sadness and I am excited to share the joy with my family and give them something to do besides be steeped in sorrow.

One thing I have realized is that I can’t let someone else’s decisions affect my joy.  It would have sounded impossible to me a month ago, but I have learned that I don’t have to let even something this devastating, a break in one of my most valued relationships, tear me away from living a life filled with glory and joy.

I know.  Easier said than done.  Whew!  It’s definitely a process.

I really, really, really want to give you the gift of knowing that you are not alone.  In your trials and desperate situations, you are treasured.  There is a God who cares about your deepest pain.  There is One who you can always turn to.

And you know what?  I care too.  And so does my family and I am guessing a whole lot of other people.

As I prepare for the week ahead, filled with activity and appointments, I know that I have a source of peace and comfort.  Look around you, it’s there!

For instance, just a few minutes ago one of my boys asked me the funniest question and we both laughed so hard.  That is the good stuff.  My three daughters at home and I have become so much closer through this, isn’t that sweet?  My marriage is becoming a testimony of strength through hard times.  There is so much good in the bad.

 

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Let us pray for you if you need it.  Leave a comment here and many others will pray too.  I just know it.

Be blessed!!!!

 

How I Get Through The Hard Times

How I Get Through The Hard Times

Since sharing about our daughter leaving home I have been overwhelmed with phone calls, emails and messages of love and support.  Thank you.  Believe it or not, I did not expect that response at all.  God has spoken to me through each of you and I am indescribably grateful.

And there are so, so many other mothers who are going through, or have been through, the same thing.  My heart breaks for all of you.  I made a list of your names and I am praying for each name in the morning before I run.  You’re my new tribe.

Through this difficult time it is more important than ever that I take good care of myself.

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As much as I don’t feel like eating, when I do eat I am sure to make it healthy foods and not junk.  I am staying away from sugar and carbs and eating plenty of veggies.  And I am still taking my walk every morning and spending that time listening to praise music and letting God lift me up.  Part of me wants to not care about anything, but the prayer pulls me back to the truth…..that I am still responsible to take care of myself for not only me, but my husband, kids and the friends that God has so mercifully given me.

I am also using my essential oils like they are liquid gold.  They have been an invaluable help with getting through the shock and pain.  I wanted to share with you what I am using, in case any of you need it someday (but I sure hope not!).

I have a great YouTube video talking about all of this as well, so if you want more thoughts head over and watch!

1. Peace & Calming – When it first happened…like the first hour….I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe.  I was gasping for air when my husband found me and said, “You’re having a panic attack….you need an oil!”  I couldn’t think of what I needed, so he ran into the bathroom where I keep them out on a shelf and he grabbed the Peace & Calming (in my diluted roll-on bottle).  He handed it to me and I just started rubbing it all over my face and trying to breathe.  Within seconds my breathing settled down, I stopped crying as hard and I could think a little more clearly.

2. Valor, Tranquil, Joy and White Angelica – Once the panic attack stopped I still couldn’t think of what oils to use, so I texted my good friend and asked her advice.  She recommended these four.  James got them for me and I started putting them on….didn’t matter where….my wrists, neck, chest.  I don’t really remember.  I just had to get them on my body.  It helped a LOT.  After a minute of using them I stopped crying and was able to think.  I could feel my mind settling down and starting to cope.  After that I was able to go to talk with my other children and spend time with them.  I put both Peace & Calming and Valor in the diffuser and ran it all day to help the whole family.

3. Valor, Joy, Forgiveness – These are the three that I have used most over the past two weeks.  Valor helps me gather strength to move forward and deal with the emotional roller coaster, Joy helps me remember that there is always something to be thankful for and lifts my spirits, Forgiveness is known to help release hurtful memories and move beyond emotional barriers.  Boy do I need that one!

Sometimes, out of the blue, my heart will just start hurting (like physical pain so bad I once thought I might be having a heart attack).  When that happens I grab the Valor and rub it right where the pain is.  It’s been a balm for me.

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4. Lavender and Peace & Calming –  At bedtime I use these both on myself and in the diffuser.  It’s helping me sleep and not let the thoughts take over in the middle of the night.  I have also been putting it on the kids when they seem unsettled.

To sum up, I have used a LOT of Peace & Calming.  But there are many other oils that are great for anxiety and pressure.  When I am ready, I am going to try some of those.  But for now, while we are still dealing with the initial shock I am sticking to these.

When you sign up with Young Living and order the Premium Standard Kit  you will get Valor, Peace & Calming, Lavender and Joy.  I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had these on hand.  Having my oils right by my side, diffusing in the house and ready to use on my kids when they are feeling stressed and upset has been a blessing for us all!

Lastly, I spend a TON of time praying and reading the Bible.  There is so much comfort and wisdom there that I feel like I can’t get enough of it.

Thanks for stopping by!  Don’t forget there’s more info about this on YouTube.

I am not a doctor, these opinions are from my own experiences.  If you feel you need emotional support please see a physician and make wise health decisions.

The Hardest Post I Ever Wrote

The Hardest Post I Ever Wrote

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So, this is gonna be hard.  I don’t want to write it and I wish I could just hide instead of sharing.  I am sure the post will end up being too long and really difficult to read.  I am sorry for that.  If you don’t want to see inside my very wounded heart then I recommend that you go ahead now and click through to somewhere else.

I am too raw and hurting to be delicate.

In telling you about what is going on here, I want to try to share my own life with you without exposing others.  Their story is their own to tell.  I can only tell you mine.

OK….so here goes.  {deep breath::::feel like throwing up}

On Wednesday, September 24th my life was changed forever.  My 18 year old daughter left home.  She gave us no warning, no signs that it was coming.  She didn’t try to talk to us about it or work with us.  She, with the help of my parents, just left.  And with her she took pieces of my heart that had been torn to shreds.  I cried harder that day than I ever knew was possible.  So hard that it scared my little boys and I had to go in my closet and put a pillow over my face to muffle the sobs.

We have spent the past 11 days trying to make head or tails out of what happened.  Why did she leave?  How can we help her?  What will happen next?

We got no real answers.  Only more confusion as some of the circumstances unfolded.  We discovered that my parents had been planning this with her without telling us (as you can imagine, an additional part of my grief is not only the loss of my daughter but the total end of the relationship with my parents).  We also learned that she has been telling exaggerated stories about what is going on inside our home to a godless woman who has been giving her foolish counsel and encouraging her to deceive us and get out.

These decisions our daughter has made are unimaginable to me and completely out of character from the girl I know.

Believe me, James and I are all too aware that we are not innocent in this.  We played a part in this problem.  We made mistakes and we have apologized to her, genuinely repented and are asking the Holy Spirit to guide us through this.  It feels impossible to think rationally so we have sought counsel from men who give us Scripture to build us up.  We are taking each step carefully and trying to hold on to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.  I don’t want to paint myself as perfect here.  I am as imperfect as I can imagine anyone being.

We did have a meeting with our daughter about a week after she left and it became obvious when we agreed to give her everything she was asking for that she did not intend to come home.  She had sent us a list of things she wanted to change at home, but because we agreed to all of the changes and she still won’t come home….it seems there must be something deeper there that she isn’t telling us.

I ask myself, “How can I help her if she won’t tell me the truth?” 

And I beg,  “Lord, please help me forgive the betrayal and react with your righteousness and love.”

Yesterday she came and got all of her things.  That tore out more of my heart and if I am being completely honest, threw me into a tailspin that it feels like I will never recover from.  I can’t stop crying and I can’t turn off the thoughts of pain and desperation.  Sleep will not come; I don’t eat; I can’t focus.

But I know the truth.  That I can recover and become stronger with God’s help.

I know that He loves us all so much more than I love my daughter.  I know He is guiding all of our paths and even though I don’t see it now, He did prepare me for this.  I know that His promises are sure and He will never leave me or forsake me.

Not for one second has my faith wavered or my trust in God been lost. 

Not that I feel sure that she will be fine or that she will ever come back or that I will ever see my parents again.  I know that none of that may happen.

I also grieve the selfish loss of wanting my life to be a certain way.  A happy family, loving one another, all of my children that care for each other and respect their parents.  That is gone for me.  I may never have that and you know what?  It’s OK.

May He be glorified through my suffering and loss. 

My morning walks have meant more to me than ever as I pour the broken pieces of my heart out at the feet of God.  He picks them up and gently puts them back in place.  Then they fall apart again….over and over and over.  I know with certainty that one day those pieces will be all put together and they will stay right where they belong…..glued with the grace of a Father that loved me enough to sacrifice his own child for me.  Oh, that I am now experiencing one thousandth of that same pain.

So this tragedy is now a part of the story of my life.

I pray that the glory of God shines through all that I do even in the midst of trials.

His Word has been a healing balm to my soul and given me strength to get through each moment.  It pushes out the despair and washes it away with love and peace and wisdom that I can trust with every fiber of my being.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

I would so appreciate your prayers for not only my heartbreak, but my other children as they cry and constantly ask me why this happened and endure their own betrayal and pain.  Watching them suffer through this has been even more painful than my own struggle.  Their precious lives will never be the same either.  And please pray for my husband as he finds the strength and wisdom to lead a sobbing wife, grieving children and a lost daughter through this horrific event in our lives.

For those of you keeping up with this situation, here is the latest update.

Thank you for reading and praying.  I would appreciate your sensitivity if you choose to leave a comment since we are grieving.   Please refrain from offering your thoughts on 18 year olds and their rights or what you think of our parenting choices.  Believe me, we do not want to keep anyone in our home that doesn’t want to be here.  This is not about whether she should be here or not.   It is about treating the people you love with honesty, honor, respect and dignity.   Any comments condemning our beliefs or criticizing our daughter will be deleted. 
Moms Need a Night Off!

Moms Need a Night Off!

This week’s YouTube video is about a subject near and dear to my heart….taking a break!

I have shared this with many groups when I speak and I always get a food of emails afterward asking me questions about how it works.  I go into some of it in the video and in this older post, but I want to answer a few more questions.

 

Q: How do you get your husband to agree?
A: You shouldn’t try to manipulate him, but simply lay out the idea.  The more you can make it easy for him the better it will work.  We don’t want to overwhelm the poor guy.  Have the house cleaned up and the kids in a good mood.  Don’t try to control what happens while you’re gone…this is their time.  When you get home, don’t complain if it’s messy or he did something “wrong”.

Q: But I don’t trust anyone else to take care of my kids.
A: Mom, your kids will be fine for a few hours without you.  In fact….it is GOOD for them and for Dad to spend time together without you.  Ask God to help you let go of trying to control everything.  It’s not healthy!  To quote the most annoying song of 2014, “Let it go!  Let it go!….”

Q: What if I have a nursing baby?
A: Sometimes I would take the baby with me, sometimes I would nurse then leave for a couple of hours, sometimes I would stay home and lock myself in my bedroom.  You can still get a break when you’re nursing.  In fact, I remember several times I used my night off to SLEEP!

Q: My kids won’t leave me alone in my room!
A: You can teach your kids not to bother you when you need a break.  The trick is not to answer them when they call or give in to their manipulation.  Your husband (or whoever is helping) is perfectly capable of taking care of that they need.  You could even practice it for 10 minutes during the day for a week or so to make sure they get the concept.

Q: What kinds of things do you do?
A: Honestly, my favorite thing is to go in my bathroom and have time for personal care.  I scrub my face, straighten the bathroom and bedroom, clip my fingernails, condition my hair, etc.  That is how my bathroom stays clean and I get my grooming time in.  I listen to praise music or podcasts and get my soul taken care of at the same time.

 

All moms need a break and this is a great post with tons of encouragement and ideas!

If you have other questions leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help!

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed?

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed?

Some practical, godly tips for women who are struggling with depression, hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed.  #parenting #forwomen #christian

Feeling overwhelmed is something everyone experiences….some of us more than others.

I get hundreds of emails and messages from women who are overwhelmed, struggling with depression and feeling hopeless.  I wish I could have each of you over for an iced tea with Sonic ice and some real fellowship.

I’m here to share some hope with you.  This week’s YouTube video has 3 tips for what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and depressed.  I can’t take away your problems, but I can tell you what works for me when I feel that ugly old hopelessness creeping in.

Before you go…..I want to leave you with even more encouragement from the One who CAN take away your problems….

Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

John 13:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

Psalm 142:3 “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.”

Psalm 61:2 ” From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

I am praying for you…even if I don’t know you, God does.