Today I am Thankful

Today I am Thankful

Last week when I was at Disney I got to meet a couple of y’all and that was wonderful!  I love meeting you all in person and getting to chat with you.  Each of the ladies I met asked me the same question that many of you ask me, “How are things going with your daughter?”.

I have stayed away from this subject on the blog for several reasons.

  1. There really isn’t anything to tell.  We don’t hear from her and know very little about her life.
  2. It is painful.  I like to be positive and encouraging here, but I want to be honest.  This is a very hard subject for me and frankly I just don’t like to talk about it.
  3. The haters.  It is a sad, sad world out there and people sure do enjoy tearing others apart.  Every time I mention anything about my hurt over this situation people come out of the woodwork to throw stones at me and it’s just so dumb and mean.  I simply don’t want to dredge up the crazy.
  4. The very, very limited accessibility we have with her is a precious treasure to me and I don’t want to lose that by saying anything that would hurt her in any way.  Sometimes you just need to keep quiet and pray, so that’s what we’re doing.

But I know that many of you care about us and wonder how I am.  I get asked about it several times a day, and your tenderness has been a blessing!!!

Here’s the answer: I am really, really sad, but I am OK.  In fact, I am finding places of joy and peace that I never knew existed before because I never needed it so much.  I am learning humility and hope and trust in the God who knows exactly what we need.

I am still working on some other lessons I need to learn, like forgiveness and confidence in who I am in Christ without being affected by what other people think.  Those 2 things, yeah, not easy.  I read once that if we won’t forgive someone else then we don’t fully understand the depths of our own depravity.  That really helps me remember that I am no more deserving of forgiveness than anyone else, no matter what they’ve done.  The Bible is clear on that.  But honestly, there are a few people that my flesh would rather never see or hear from again.  Just being real, not saying it’s right.

God is even using that battle to grow me into a stronger, wiser, more valuable member of the Kingdom.  I do want that, even though it hurts like H-E-double-hockeysticks.

This week, as we move into the holidays I am fighting the grief again.  My heart breaks daily and God beautifully mends it every single time.  He often uses you all to be His messenger of love.  Those of you who have sent me cards and messages, you have held me together.  Every note of encouragement is a healing balm to me.  Isn’t it amazing how you find out who your true friends are through these kinds of trials?  I have been shocked (and saddened) at who has been hateful and even more surprised at many who came out in force to stand firm by my side.  Those people are my earth angels (great, now I’m picturing Marty McFly from Back to the Future and that song “Earth Angel”).

God uses our suffering for our good, and knowing who you can really trust is a very good thing!  I have been so, so grateful for that.  And He has shown me where I am strong, thickened my skin, held me up in times of trial and proved to me that I can survive what I would have thought would kill me.

OK, I am reading back through this and it sounds like a real downer.  I don’t want to leave you with anything but the tremendous hope and gratitude that I have in what God can do and how great He is to use my hardships to help me and the people I love.  Nothing but good will come of this trial, that I am sure of.

Here are a few things that I am so, so thankful for…

  1. He has lovingly removed some toxic people from my life.
  2. He is teaching me to forgive, which is my biggest challenge.
  3. He is showing me where my value lies, which is in Him!
  4. He is making me more loving and understanding.
  5. He is giving me new friends who are trustworthy.
  6. He is strengthening my relationship with my other kids (this part has been SUCH a blessing!)
  7. He is teaching me blind trust and giving me that kind of joy that only comes from the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with circumstance.
  8. He has strengthened my marriage through this, when it could have easily gone the other way.
  9. He has blessed my business, how amazing!!!
  10. He has give me the opportunity through this to encourage thousands of you who are going through a similar trial, which is an incredible gift to me.

Yippee!!  Look at what a great list that is! I hope that encourages you to be thankful this week and for whatever God is doing in your life.  It can get really hard, but oh so rich with blessings along the way!  Make your own list and see what great things God is doing.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May the joy of the Lord be your strength!


5 Tips for the Days When Mom Gets Sick

5 Tips for the Days When Mom Gets Sick

This post contains affiliate links.

5 great things you can do in advance to prepare for the days when mom gets sick

As we approach the winter it’s a good time to prepare for the possibility of sickness in the family.  It happens to all of us occasionally, we catch a bug that’s going around and before we know it we are in bed.  All day.

In our house, it typically starts with one of the kids and works its way around until Mom gets it.  This place can’t run well for long without Mom!  Who is going organize the meals and make sure the homework gets done?  Nope, we mothers need to stay well, but it’s not always in our hands.

Mom, with some preparation you can get a couple of days of rest and the kids can take care of things while you’re healing.  Of course, this won’t work for babies.  They can’t take care of themselves no matter how much you prepare.  That’s when you lean on your friends or your husband takes a day off of work.  Look, life happens.  See it as an opportunity to bless someone by allowing them to serve you (something I am terrible at!).

But for the kids over 3 years old, they can take care of most things for a couple of days.  You will have to lift your head occasionally to check on them and do a few small tasks, but you can make it a lot easier on yourself if you have some supplies in place for that dreaded sick day.

  1. Food – We always keep some quick fix foods on hand that are exclusively for sick days.  Crackers, cheese cubes (which can be frozen), nuts, cereal, canned fruit and beef jerky are all food that can be stored for long periods of time and don’t require cooking.  I keep ours in a sealed bin at the top of the pantry and pull it out when I am sick (otherwise someone eats it when no one is sick!).  If you don’t have this, make a list of foods that someone can pick up for you at the store like bread, bananas, peanut butter and yogurt so the kids can get eat without cooking.  If they’re old enough they can fix their own simple lunch.  If not, it is still easy for you to do with almost no clean up.
  2. Books – I have taught my kids to love books and I keep some up on a high shelf and can pull them out when I need to rest. For the little ones, a book like Count My Blessings 1-2-3” is perfect because it has some fun movable parts and if you’ve read it to them before, they will know where to count as they turn the pages.  For the middles, try “Duck Commander Devotions for Kids” by Korie Robertson.  It’s adorable! And the older kids might like “Dream Treaders,”  by Wayne Thomas Batson as the first book in a trilogy (I find mine need trilogies because they read so quickly!
  3. Toys – I have, for as long as I can remember, had s few toy sets tucked away for an emergency.  Believe me, needing something new for the kids to do can be an actual emergency when you are ill.  This would include good toys, not free stuff from their Happy Meals.  Think of Christmas and how you don’t see the kids for hours after they open their presents.  This is a similar concept, only it’s not a gift and these toys will get put away again in a day or two.  Sets like Legos and Playmobile are good for this.
  4. DVDs – In our home we only let the kids watch a movie once a week, so when sickness hits the house I don’t feel so bad that they are watching shows all day long for a few days.  I like to buy new ones during the holidays when they go on sale and tuck them away for a time when the kids really need to be kept occupied.  Also, think outside of the box and get a few that teach Bible lessons like those at Thomas Nelson.
  5. Little Helper Prizes – Teach your kids to help you by having a little chart made up in advance to play “Mommy’s Little Helper.”  You can make a list of helpful things for them to do and offer prizes for the amount of points they get at the end of the day.  I keep a box of prizes with the toys from #3.  As they do these activities, give them a tally mark in the box and at the end of the day add them up.  Each mark is a point and they get prizes at the end of the day.  Ten points gets a prize from the box.  Prizes will be things from the dollar store like a roll of tape, piece of candy, some string, a fun eraser, teeny spiral notebook, etc.  This will help to make them aware of helping plus do some of the thinking for you.

I’ve made a Mommy’s Little Helper sheet for you to get started….just download and print!

Fun game to get the kids to help when mom is sick

Truthfully, there is no way you will be able to sleep all day while you recover, you’re just too important in these little people’s lives to be out of it for long.  But being ready with these ideas will make it a LOT easier for you (and them!).

Bless all you mommies who will deal with sickness this winter.  I am praying for you!

Somebody Bring Me Some Calgon!

Somebody Bring Me Some Calgon!

OK, it’s official.  I am so done with my husband being gone.  I already knew he was the solid one in the relationship, but after a week without him I am more sure than ever that he is the glue and I am all of the random pieces.  The mere sight of one more broken appliance will put me over the edge.

I don’t know how single parents do it.  Or military parents…seriously, you all have my mad respect.

It’s like the whole house goes into some kind of other dimension and the boys don’t get their chores done and as sweet as the girls are, they have been kind of out-of-it for the past several days. And after last week’s M-word situation, I was not sure I was the best person to be leading these troops.  I am fairly sure my 8 year old would have been a better option considering I walked around afraid of my own shadow all week.

Somebody get me the biggest box of Calgon you can find.

Despite being as jumpy as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I decided to do something bold and get up Saturday morning to take the whole crew down to the city to participate in a protest at the nearest Planned Parenthood.  These rallies were taking place all around the country and we all felt we should be there.

I say it was bold because….

1. I was husbandless so that meant I was completely responsible for this crew and I think we can all see how that is going.  James and I used to attend these allies fairly often when the kids were little and I remember a few of them getting pretty ugly.

2. The Van.

I was going to have to crank up the old 15-passenger van.  And when I say crank, that’s pretty close to what it’s like.  This old thing has so many miles on it that it could be in the Guinness Book of World Records.  I don’t know how it is still working.  None of us like to drive it, it putters along, the A/C doesn’t work, it smells bad, it rattles like an old roller coaster and worst of all it gets about 2.7 miles to the gallon.

We only use it for emergency family outings, and even then we look into the price of a rental car first.

But I had to use it because we outnumbered the seats in my car and James left the minivan at the airport.  So we found the crank and off we went.

The event was very well organized and besides being so hot you could fry an egg on our foreheads, it went well.  The 600+ people there were peaceful and very upbeat about raising awareness of what is really going on inside that facility.  We saw lots of friends there and were blessed to have been a part of it.

Family participation in a rally

Afterwards I decided to run a few errands.  It’s not often we all go to the city together, it being over an hour away and us having to drive what basically equates to the Beverly Hillbillies’ vehicle to get there.  So we ate lunch then picked up some clothes for the boys.  We are going to Orlando in a few weeks for an awesome blogging event at Universal Studios called Family Forward and the boys needed shorts.  I also decided to get myself a hat, which I am not sure about yet.  Hats don’t like me very much.

We were all worn out from standing in the heat for 2 hours then shopping afterwards, so we drove home in the old van and collapsed.  Later that night we all ate dinner in my bedroom and watched the Duck Dynasty wedding, which was adorable and I cried through almost the whole show.  I love their style (except for the scraggly beards and head bandanas) and the values were so sweet.  Lord, bless them.

After church on Sunday we came home and worked on a video trailer we are making for my book that comes out NEXT WEEK!!!

It’s so close y’all!  Have you ordered yours yet?!

My 12 year old is the director and we had a great afternoon together shooting it.  My daughter Hope did all of the artwork and it’s the cutest thing since Princess Charlotte.  We are wrapping it up this week and you’ll be the first to see it!

working on a book trailer as a family

I fell asleep on Sunday night before the kids even knew I was out. They were all still awake and I just had to trust that they wouldn’t have any loud parties or burn anything because I would have slept through it all.  Mama was DONE.

This week is full of more book promotions and trying to keep my sanity.  Which basically describes my life in a nutshell.

Have a good one!

A Testimony to the Power of Prayer

A Testimony to the Power of Prayer

Back in the day when my kids were little, my husband would walk in the house at the end of his workday and say, “Hi honey, what did you do today?”  And I had nothing to say.  I felt like I had been crazy busy, but when someone asks you and you can only think of small things like diaper changes and spilled crackers and crying babies and nursing the baby it feels like you did nothing.

And that’s how I feel about last weekend.  My thoughts are a blur of activity, none of which are worth telling you about.

Unless you want to start on Friday morning.  That was pretty exciting.

I woke up and decided instead of doing my morning run I would exercise in the pool.  I just felt like a change of pace.  But it was a bit of a “if you give a mouse a cookie” situation because I discovered a big mess of pool toys left out from the boys swimming the night before. I so stuck my head in the house and called for the boys to come out and clean them up.  One of them was in the kitchen and he came out and started cleaning up with me.

But then as we put away the toys I noticed that there was rain water (from who knows when!) in the container where they keep the smaller toys, so we cleaned that out, and then I saw that the large toy storage was a mess, so I called another boy out and I had him straighten that and another boy came out and I had him start trimming some overgrown limbs that were dragging in the pool and the last, unfortunate son came to see where everyone was so I had him carry the cut limbs to the burn area in the back of the yard.

I finally got in the pool after half an hour of working with the boys. But only about 10 minutes into my exercises someone came running to tell me that our 16 year old son Noah had been bitten by “something”.  I got out of the water, wrapped myself in a towel and went into the kitchen where he was sitting with ice on the sting.  As I was assessing the situation he said he was starting to feel worse.  His hand (where he was bitten) had swollen to nearly double its normal size and he was covered in hives.  He said he felt like he couldn’t breathe and that’s when I started to freak.  My husband was walking in the house so I yelled for him to take our son to the hospital.  He rushed over to us and immediately agreed and while I helped Noah to the van while my husband ran to get his keys.  Our oldest son, Jacob, came out to see what was going on (I may have been screaming, I really don’t remember) and he jumped in the car with them.  They drove off and I ran to change out of my wet suit and I followed right behind.

Oh.  My.  Lord.

That was pretty much all I could say in prayers as I drove.  We live about 15 minutes from the hospital if you’re speeding.  A few minutes into my drive I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to ask people to pray.  I knew my son was already having blurred vision when they left so my mind was not working and I couldn’t think of who to call….so I just put it out on Facebook.

“Y’all please pray for my 16 year old son.  We are rushing him to the hospital.  More later. XO”

Two minutes after I asked for prayer my husband called me and said as they were pulling into the emergency room driveway our son just started breathing.  He kind of woke up, didn’t feel faint, could see and was breathing fine.  He said the swelling and redness was going down.


A beautiful testimony about how God answers prayer!

We decided that they would sit right outside of the emergency room while I ran to the pharmacy and got whatever the pharmacist recommended.  As long as he was breathing fine and didn’t have any other symptoms we didn’t think we needed to spend the morning in the ER.  But at the same time….we didn’t want to be far away if it happened again.  I took the bottle of Benadryl the pharmacist suggested to the hospital parking lot and gave the OTC meds to Noah, but honestly….except that his hand was still very swollen you couldn’t tell anything was happening to him.  He was completely fine.  I just stared at him amazed by God’s miracles.

Then I did what any mother would do…..I started to cry and pet him and kiss him and be generally annoying.  I announced that when we got home I would be sitting next to him and staring at him for the next 24-48 hours.

And here’s the message for you kids who might be reading this: If your mom was just scared out of her mind that you might die any second and she tells you that you will have to sleep next to her that night so she can listen to you breathe….there’s no point in arguing about it.

We waited there for a while then decided it would be OK to take him home.  He announced that he was really hungry and could we get him some food.  These boys are always, always, always hungry.

It’s as it should be.

So we fed him burgers and let him sit on the couch all day eating ice cream and playing wii because frankly I was too worn out from the morning to even think about him going back outside.  Plus his swollen hand was useless and he was a little sluggish from the Benadryl I gave him in the parking lot.

And the rest of the weekend after that is a blur.  While I am sure I did some other things, I really don’t remember much.  We cleaned house and went to church and to my friend Sara’s beautiful anniversary party and we shopped a little and I worked on book stuff and I barely recall any of it because the only thing on my mind was hugging my kids and thanking God for them and trying not to cry.

On Sunday evening I asked my husband if we could buy our son a pony…..or maybe a car.  He gave me this shocked look, “A car?!?!”

I know, I know.  I just wanted to do something for Noah so he would always know how glad I am that he is here.

He will have to settle for all the burgers he wants ‘cuz I can’t afford a pony or a car.

Have a great week!

R & R & More R

R & R & More R

What do you get when you cross a whirlwind trip to Ft Worth with a woman who has been detoxing from Disney and sugar?  I think you can imagine.  It’s not pretty.

I’d say that sums me up for the past weekend.  I’ve been tired and feeling low and pretty much taking naps between my naps for 2 days.

Last Thursday I popped out of bed early and my son and I drove for 6 hours, picking up a friend along the way.  The 3 of us had a nice visit while we drove and we were giddy about the Young Living meeting we were going to attend (OK, just my friend and I, my son doesn’t get giddy).  It was actually really fun and inspiring and on the way home Friday we talked about all we learned almost the entire way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time with my adult son.  He and I rarely have one-on-one time together, but now that he’s doing Young Living with me, we spend more time together and it feels like a Mom-Bonus!


But no rest for the weary because we were having people over for dinner on Friday night.  Yes, that’s right, as soon as we walked in the door from the trip it was time to get ready for company.  Craziness.  A missionary from India was in town and this was the only night he could come over and we really wanted to hear his stories of miracles and God’s goodness to the beautiful people of India.  So we invited some friends and we threw together some tacos and picked up some store-bought cookies (none for me ‘cuz I’m sugar free) and really was a fabulous night!  My kids were especially blessed to hear about another part of the world.


After our friends left, believe it or not, one of my girls needed me to run an errand with her.  It only took about an hour, but that still put me getting home at 11:30 and by the time I rolled into bed I was so tired I wondered if I would be able to get up and exercise the next morning.  I actually wondered if I would be able to get up at all.

I did sleep an extra 30 minutes on Saturday, but then I made myself get up and go for my morning walk.  It does me so much good and since I had missed it for the past 2 days I was glad to back on my little road.

The kids had breakfast ready when I got home and we were all there together for food and sharing, which is one of my favorite times all week.  We sit at the table for most of the morning and talk over everything from the schedule for the week to why cows can’t walk over cattle guards.  It’s like a roller coaster conversation….up with rolling laughter then down into deep, theological discussions.  More flips and turns and it’s really a get-to-know-you time.

After that we kind of all go our own direction for the day.  Me, I took a nap.  Then I did a LOT of writing and ended the day with another nap before bed.  I think all of my travels were really getting to me because on Sunday morning I felt like I had been hit by a truck and I told James, “I don’t think I can go to church this morning.  I feel totally worn out.”

He took the kids to church and for the first time since 1989 I was completely alone in my own home.  I had no idea what to do with myself.  Sure, I could sleep more.  But the urge to clean my bedroom hit me so I started picking up clutter and putting it where it belongs.  I hung a few pictures and organized some drawers and hung some vintage style posters (that I bought in March and have been in the corner of my bedroom ever since) in the hallway.


Then I cleaned out my purse and filled a trash bag with junk and by the time the fam was home from church I felt a lot better.  I may have to make this a semi-annual event.  Or a semi-weekly one.

I spent the rest of Sunday just letting my soul relax.  It’s been a long, hard few months and I think my mind and spirit are telling me I need to chill out for a bit.  So I plan to just lie low for the next few days and let myself unwind.

I’ll be doing pretty much nothing this week but hanging with my kids and maybe even see a movie.  I’m ready for swim weather when I can jump in after my walk and float until the kids come looking for me.

Hey….speaking of Young Living (yes, we were speaking of Young Living in the beginning…the trip to Ft Worth, remember?!), I am sending some special things to all of my new May members!  I get so many questions about how I dilute my oils to make them last longer.  So this month I am giving you a hand with 10 ready-to-use roller bottles, a little sprayer and my favorite reference book!

Go HERE to join with the Premium Starter Kit and I’ll send you that stuff as a gift from me!

Have a great week!!!!

Which is Worse…Traffic Jams or Easter Egg Hunts?

Which is Worse…Traffic Jams or Easter Egg Hunts?

Am I the only one who is shocked that it is April?  And that Easter is behind us?  In fact, I’m still warming up to the idea that it’s 2015.  My mind says “2007” over and over.  Frozen in time.  I relate strongly to the song lyric, “Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999,” not because I’m a partier, but because I refuse to accept that we have actually survived Y2K.

I also wrangle with the fact that it took me 2 hours last Friday to drive one mile.  My friend Sara and I got up at 5:30 in the am and drove the 3 hours to Round Top, TX where the world’s best junk was waiting for us.  It was a gorgeous drive with Texas wildflowers flanking the freeway and spiced nuts from Buc-ees.

In case you’ve never been to Texas, I urge you to add “stop at Buc-ees” to your list of must do items when you come here.  It may look like just a truck stop on the outside, but inside it’s a little slice o’ Texas heaven.

After almost three hours, we got a couple of miles from our destination when we hit a trail of cars on the rural highway.  It was dead stopped….occasionally inching forward.  Sure the bluebonnets are amazing, but we didn’t need to see them each individually.


I kid you not.  I know I tend to exaggerate, but this is 100% true….we took TWO HOURS to drive ONE MILE.  Several times we discussed turning around and leaving, but we had already driven 3 hours to get there so we stuck it out.

By the time we finally got to a parking space and started shopping the flea market we had a great time.  We didn’t consider that it would take us about hour and a half to get back out at the end of the day, so all in all we spent about three times as much time sitting in the car as we did shopping.  But I bought a beat up old shutter with some slats missing, so of course…it was all worth it.

We found out later through Instagram that the whole Duck Dynasty cast was there plus some HGTV people.  That plus it being a nice Friday probably caused the crowd.  I have been to Round Top many times and never hit traffic like that.  Cuh-razy!

On Saturday morning I was good and tired from flea marketing and several of my older kids were going to an all day photo-meet-up.  So I decided to skip the kitchen work I had planned (I am getting close to finishing!) and just rest.  It was just what I needed.  I literally slept, woke up and watched a mystery movie, went back to sleep, repeat steps one and two.

So I have nothing to report to you about Saturday except that a huge box of books came from my publisher and I am having trouble deciding which ones to read first.  So many of them look good!  So good, in fact, that I am thinking of just passing them along to y’all after I read them.  I want to share the goodness.  I’m thinking I’ll just read a few then do a simple giveaway.  I could never choose one of y’all over the rest, so a random draw is the way to go.


On Sunday, after church, we had a little egg hunt for the kids.  On Saturday night I filled some plastic eggs with candy and wrote the kids names on them so they would all get the same amount.  I used a sharpie to write the names and draw some little pictures on each egg.  The older/adult kids each got 2 eggs….one with candy and another with money.  The under 18 crowd got 10 eggs each filled with candy.  Like, lots of candy.


Since pretty much the only other time all year they get candy is for Christmas, it’s a treat and they love it.

Our Sunday afternoon egg hunt turned ugly when, after searching for nearly 2 hours we still couldn’t find 2 of the eggs.  I had been the one to hide them and I was super careful to make it pretty easy, except for my 23 year old son who I tried to make practically impossible because, well, it was fun for me.  But he found his after about 20 minutes and the other kids all found theirs until we were down to 2 eggs missing.  I wanted to give up and just call it done, but the boys whose eggs were missing were highly driven to find them.

Another half hour and we found one of them.  The other kids each kind of went in the house and it was down to me, James and two boys.

Finally I stopped looking and went inside.  As far as I know they are still out there looking.

This week ahead is full.  In addition to the last touches to the kitchen, I will be running errands for James (tax season….CPA….lots of errands) and I am taking the boys to some thrift stores to find new jackets.  On Easter we made the annual sad discovery that nothing fits them.  So off we go to look for clothes that other people don’t want anymore.  Then on Thursday I have 2 ortho appointments and that night I am speaking to a women’s group.  Then on Friday, maybe, if I play my cards right, I will get y’all some finished kitchen pictures.

Don’t hold your breath though.  I don’t want to be held responsible for anyone dying.

Have a good one!  And remember….it’s April 2015.  You’re welcome.

A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess

Many, many of you have asked for updates on the situation with our daughter.  I have been hesitant to talk any more about it for several reasons.

1. There really is not much to tell since there have not been any significant changes.
2. Like I said in my original post, I only want to share my own story and not speak for anyone else.  (I have received a few emails of criticism for that, which puzzles me because I was only trying to respect the others in this situation.  But I certainly do NOT think this is all about me….in fact I think very little of it is about me at all, but a mother’s heart can break over her child no matter how old the child is and if you don’t understand that then you are blessed not to have felt this pain).
3. I don’t want it to be the focus of my blog.

BUT….I am not hesitant to share how incredible God is and that His hand has been so obvious through all of our sorrow and tears.  Despite the overwhelming agony of loss, the unspeakable joy that has cropped up all around me has to be shared!


In the beginning of this trial I asked Him to make me an empty vessel through which He could pour out His beauty and grace.  And He has used this situation to grant that prayer.  But let me warn you, before you pray that… ready for your world to be shaken up big time!  You can’t be empty if you are hanging onto idols in your life with a vice grip.  Trust me, I am the queen of that.  My knuckles are still sore from trying.

So, while I still hurt deeply, I am also experiencing a depth of faith that I didn’t understand before.   I know a greater joy through many blessings including a deeper, richer relationship with our other adult children who have stood by and supported the hard decisions that we have had to make.  I have learned to lean on God when things around me look bleak.  There is story after story I could tell you about how He has shown Himself to all of us in amazing ways.  Here are a few examples:

One afternoon I was crying in my bathroom and one of the boys heard me.  He knocked on the door and asked if he could pray with me.  He put his arms around me and cried with me and we prayed.  Suddenly, we both instantly felt a surge of strength and the burden lift.  Really…it was an actual physical lifting and a surprise to us both. We pulled back and looked at each other in amazement.  Afterwards my son offered me some incredible Biblical advice that was wise beyond his years. It gave me huge comfort!  God is using my pain to help turn my son into a man and draw closer to Him…!

During my time at the Summit several older women approached me and asked how I was doing.  They knew about our situation and wanted to encourage me.  These wise women poured the love of God into me and I could so clearly see that He gave me these friends a year before this happened because He knew how much I would need them now.  To have godly women who have been in my shoes tell me that I am on the right path and not to lose hope…..priceless!

One more story….on Friday night at the Oklahoma Summit the team members (me included) were standing in the front of the ballroom ready to pray for the women there.  I had prayed with a couple of ladies and was standing there waiting when a women came up to me….I was ready to lift her up, but she said that she came to pray for me!  She offered the sweetest prayer and words of encouragement to me!  I wept on her shoulder.  It felt like God sent an angel.

I could go on and on….almost every day since this all began He has used someone (many of YOU!) to lift me up and show Himself.  And every single time I am reminded of His love and I want to shout it from the rooftops!  GOD IS GOOD!!!!

Then I want to pour it all right back out to you.

When you are struggling with anything….ANYTHING….He is there to comfort you.  His Word is a balm that I crave more and more as I walk this path.  Don’t underestimate the power of the revealed Will of God.  Some things are so hard to see….but there is SO much that is right there in front of you.

Deuteronomy 29:29 says His ways are not just for us, but for our children! It is His will that we tell the truth (Ex 20:16), that His mercy does not depend on anything I do (Romans 9:14-24), He does not tempt us (James 1:13), that there is only one way to be saved (Mark 16:16), and much more!

I share those with you so that you know that when you can’t figure out what His will is for you, you always know what He reveals to us in His Word.  It’s a great place to start!  Then He will unfold the rest as you need it.


The bottom line is…..I don’t trust myself.  I make mistakes, I mess things up, I can look back on any part of this ordeal and see things I could have done differently and probably should have.  Yes, often I hear from God through the Holy Spirit and I do my best to make sure it’s not my own thoughts then step out in faith.  It’s all I can really do if I want peace, put my trust in God….I know that He will work it all for my good and for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  I try my best and then leave the rest in His hands.

Thanks so much to all of you for being so willing to let God use you to bless our family!  I pray that it is coming back to you 100-fold.  And I pray that when you face trials that feel like you can’t survive that you find comfort and peace in the Word of God and His mercy and grace.

Now, back to our regular, lighter posts……


The Walk

The Walk

On Saturday I was feeling tired.  Between finishing my book over the holidays (although there will still be plenty of edits!), the struggles of Christmas and gearing up for the busyness of the new year, I was needing a rest.

I worked in our etsy shop in the morning, filling all of the orders and cleaning up since after the holiday rush we just closed the door and left the mess.  Once that was finished, I ate some lunch and laid down for a long winter’s nap.  You know the kind…where you wake up after two hours and can’t figure out where you are or what is happening….

I woke up feeling more tired and thought about calling it a day and just going to bed.  At 4:00.

But first, I decided, it would be good if I got up and put some Thieves on and drink some hot tea.  So, and this is the part that could be considered a mistake, I went out of my room.

As soon as I stepped out of my bedroom door, Levi (age 7) came rushing up to me, “Mommy!  Mommy!  Can I go for a walk with the other kids?!?!?!”

I didn’t know what was going on so I basically just said, “Sure honey.”  (mistake #2….)

He went rushing out the front door calling out, “Hey guys!!!  Wait for me!!!!”

My brain finally caught up and realized that my little one had just gone out into the street and possibly into danger since I had no idea where the older kids were.  For all I knew they were in the guest house watching a movie and Levi would be running down the street all by himself.

I stepped after him onto the front porch just in time to see him stopping at the end of the front walkway looking down the street.  No kids.  He slumped his shoulders and turned toward me, so disappointed.  The look on his face….oh my breaking heart.

And this is where those “Mommy Instincts” wake up.  No matter how we feel or what else we have to do or what our previous plans were or if we are still wearing our pajamas at 4:00 in the afternoon (mistake #3) we say to our child, “Hang on.  I’ll go with you.”

I grabbed an old sweater and my shoes and we went out into the street, hoping to find the other kids quickly.

He hopped along and begged me to “race to the next mailbox” at every driveway (which I did once….mistake #4) and he skipped and was so excited to be out on the street.  We talked about the sun and January and his apps on his ipod.  We made plans for school and how he wants to find a way to get some money and what books we are going to read together.


I vacillated between sinking into the feeling that I might be coming down with the flu and the joys of spending this unexpected time with him.

We did finally catch up with the other kids about a mile down the road.  They were stopping to take pictures, otherwise we would have been too slow to ever find them.  He rushed to them and was happy to be one of the kids, forgetting I was even there.  I waved to let them know I was leaving him with them, then turned and walked home by myself.  In my pajamas.  And a mess of hair.  I prayer that no neighbor would drive by and want to stop and chat.

I fell onto my bed when I got home….enjoying the empty house almost as much as I enjoyed my time with Levi.

And as I drifted back to sleep I thanked God for every “mistake” I had made that day.

The End.

(P.S. Let me know if you want any more info on my beloved essential oils!….they are amazing!)

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!



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.


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.