Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Fall weekends are the B-E-S-T!  Especially since I do so much travelling this time of year.  Every minute at home is like a blast of fresh air.

I spent Friday recovering from my long journey to Alabama and beyond.  I feel like I drove the length of the world all by myself.  It was lovely.  I like alone time.  I used that time to catch up on some courses I am taking (listening to the lessons at least) and I listened to a couple of audiobooks when my brain went to mush from learning.

This old mind ain’t what it used to be.

I just adore a good audiobook and they’re so hard to find.  You can never tell if the narrator is going to be good (I just can’t stick with a bad narrator) or if the story is something that will make you better.  That’s my requirement….that a story improves my life in some way.  I want it to help me be stronger, wiser, gentler, humbler (is that a word?), something that is worth spending 9-13 hours of my life on.

And one of the books I listened to was so, so good I just HAD to tell you about it.  But before I do, I want to warn you that there is some swearing in it.  It’s not a lot, but if that’s a deal breaker for you then skip it.  That being said, it was so sweet and filled with great characters.  It’s a light, simple story.  Not deep or action packed.  It’s character based and that’s my thang.  I love, love a well developed character.  The book is called, “A Man Called Ove.” (pronounced Ooo-vuh)  I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a sweet, feel good read.

While I loved every second of my listening time and Beauty School and visiting with my amazing friends, home is where the heart is.  And my heart was sooo happy to be back with my family.  As soon as I walked in the door I just wanted to hug people for an hour.

And what’s a teenage boy’s favorite thing?  Yep….extended hugs from Mom.

Once I got unpacked and caught up with the home front, it was time to start scrubbing.  Nothing says, “Mom’s HOME!” like a day of house cleaning.  On Saturday morning I made a long list….like the one Santa makes on a big scroll and releases with drama in front of the elves.  Bathrooms, behind the appliances, pantry shelves, under the beds….I meant business.

After we divided up the jobs, we went to work.  I may have heard one of the boys singing a song from Cinderella while he was sweeping out the fireplace.  These people have a flair for the dramatic.

When your kids sing songs from Cinderella as they do their chores....

After a few hours the house was clean and we rested.  There’s really nothing like knowing the floor is spotless under the refrigerator to make one feel like taking a long nap.  It gives you that all-is-well-with-the-world feeling.  I slept like a baby.  Only not one of my babies because they never slept very well.  I slept more like a new mom whose husband has taken the baby in another room for the night.

Sunday we went to church and the sermon was so good….very convicting.  I love those kinds of sermons, that dig deep into my heart and shine a light on some ugly stuff I keep hidden.  This week’s topic was humility and all I can say is, “ouch”.  I came home with some stuff stirring around in my mind and decided to take a walk and let it all settle in.

God’s been doing some sweet things through the difficulty of the past couple of years and I can feel some of the ice around my heart melting away.  A good, hard hitting, Biblical message always helps.  I know He loves me too much to let me stay stagnate in my mess for too long.

That led to some good talks in the evening about humility and forgiveness and being Christ-focused.  Between that and the clean house, I felt prepared for the week ahead.

My boys and I got back to school Monday morning and the lesson in our government class was about what makes a good leader.  Since they’ve been watching the debates, this led to some interesting conversations.  “Mom, why don’t our 2 candidates seem to care about this?” and “How has America gotten so far away from these principles?”

How have we gotten so far off track?

I didn’t have good answers for their questions.  Sin.  Greed.  Selfishness.  It’s a tough one to put your finger on.  But I was able to share about how we are never in control anyway.  We just do the best we know how then we leave the rest in God’s hands.  These candidates may not be what we used to think of as good leaders, but God knows what He is doing.

This is one of the hard lessons I’ve been learning, to trust God no matter what the circumstances are.  Everywhere I turn there it is again….God says to lay it all down.  It’s not about me.  Or what I can do.  Or my own strength.  It’s about trusting Him and letting go.

So there.  Your deep thought for the week.  My brain is worn out from all this thinking and now I need another one of those Daddy-takes-over kind of naps.

“Sticky Candy Weekend”

“Sticky Candy Weekend”

This past weekend was one of those rare times when almost all of our kids were home.  With more than half of them all grown up and living in different cities, we don’t get to see them all together anymore.  On Friday night we had a bunch of friends over for burgers.  It was a delightful way to start the weekend!  Then on Saturday eight of the nine kids were here and we spent most of our time just hanging out and eating.

In preparation for the weekend, I went to Costco last Tuesday to load up on groceries.  I got stuff to make burgers, fancy sandwiches, big breakfasts and snacks.  One of the snacks I decided to get was an enormous bag of candy that’s meant for handing out on Halloween.  It had tiny chocolate bars, Gobstoppers and little cardboard boxes of Nerds inside.  These seemed perfect for putting in a big bowl on the c 2offee table so everyone could just grab a piece when they felt like it.

The one hitch in my idea was that the day I bought the candy it was 100° outside.  Since I was running other errands I decided to put the big bag of candy in the cooler with ice so the chocolate wouldn’t melt.  I was so proud of my decision until I got home that night to discover that the ice had mostly melted and had seeped into the big bag.  I took it out of the cooler, cut open the top and drained the big bag of pink water.

“Why is the water pink?” I wondered as I dumped the tiny wrapped candies onto a towel that I had laid out on the kitchen counter.  After investigating, I saw that about 15 boxes of Nerds had gotten wet and dissolved in the water.  Oh well….I just threw those away, left the rest of the candy on the towel to dry overnight and didn’t give it another thought.  I mean, who worries about tiny wet candy?

But this seemingly insignificant detail turned out to be a central problem all weekend.  All of the little bitty candy bars, I found the next day when I picked them up to put them in a bowl, were so sticky that every time anyone ate a piece of candy they had to go wash their hands.  Also, some of the chocolate bars had a weird cherry flavor to them (even though, as far as I could tell, no water got inside of the individual packages).  It became the joke of the weekend, whether or not it was worth the effort to eat a piece of the sticky, icky candy.

But they all braved the  stickiness and ate whle we played games and talked all day.

Our favorite game lately is called Heads Up.  It’s an app that is kinda like charades but easier and funnier.  You hold the phone up to your forehead and try to guess what the screen says.  My family is particularly good at the Super Heroes and Villains category.  Everyone but me that is.  I don’t know any of those answers unless it is Batman, Superman or Spider-Man.  And even those would take me way too long to figure out.  I’ll be staring at 10 people all yelling at me at once with clues about capes or sidekicks and I don’t know the difference!  Then the timer buzzes the end of my turn and they look at me like they feel sorry for me because I don’t know Batman’s true identity or how Superman got his powers.

It’s fun because we don’t really keep score, we just take turns and enjoy the process.  There’s too much laughing to worry with writing down points.  And besides, our fingers were too sticky from eating candy from the bowl.

By Sunday afternoon everyone was gone or doing their own thing and I was so worn out from 3 days of family and friends (plus a church service that knocked my socks off and challenged my spirit), that I wanted to sleep from 2-6:00.  So I stopped by Redbox on my way home from church and rented myself an afternoon nap.  When I got home (we were in separate cars) I tossed the movie to the kids and said, “Boys, the house is clean, there is plenty of leftover food and sticky candy, we’ve had a nice weekend together and Mom is tired.  Here’s a movie.  Eat what you want and watch it twice.”

And I slept.  I barely woke up to eat a bit of dinner and went back to bed.

And if my family time and long nap weren’t enough of a blessing, I woke up Monday morning to rain and cool weather.  I am a huge fan of dark, gloomy, cool weather.  It feeds my soul.

I learned several lessons over the weekend.  1. Don’t put candy in a cooler of ice on a hot day 2. I don’t know enough about superheroes to play that category in Heads Up and 3. Redbox is like magic.

Have a good one!

I Can Be a Big Ol’Baby

I Can Be a Big Ol’Baby

Have you ever thought about how much your relationship with your kids is a reflection of how God sees you?

I like to think about things like that.  Of course, I also like to think about ways to get some chocolate without eating sugar.  And last week I spent a whole afternoon trying to think of how to get new dishes despite not really needing them.

So while I don’t always have deep, deep thoughts, I do find comfort in seeing myself through God’s eyes.  He is so clear in His Word that I am loved and adored by Him, so why do I sometimes wonder if I will be OK?  Why do I think I will not survive a crisis, or at least not be able to stand at the end?  I get so sad and hopeless over small things.

And then I spend a minute dealing with one of my kids and I am suddenly reminded of how God sees me.  I will be in the middle of working with one of my kids who might be whining over the fact that I threw away their “artwork” when I see myself so clearly.  I’ll start to wonder why they are so upset over something so insignificant and then this conversation happens in my head….

What’s that you say God?  I am getting annoyed at my child’s tantrum even though I threw a fit to you yesterday when the A/C went out and I got hot?”


Honestly, while my very grow-up problems seem more important than the kids’ broken toys or lost baseball games, they are really not much different.  If you look at them from God’s view they are very small and insignificant, yet I act like a toddler about them.

Life, my friend, is not actually a bowl of cherries.  If anything, it’s a fruit salad which, along with lovely melons and grapes, has a bunch of sour berries and rotten bananas in it.  Sure we can pick around carefully and only have the sweet melon for a while, but eventually we are going to get a taste of something yucky.

God promises that we will always have comfort, joy, grace and mercy.  But He does not promise us fun or easy.

I say that to my kids, “Life’s not fair, buddy.  I know it’s hard to clean the kitchen all by yourself, but you can do it.”

This is the same thing God says to me!!!  He knows I can handle this stuff that I don’t want to handle.  With His strength I can forgive those who have hurt me or been cruel.  I can do without those new shoes I think I need, and I can make it through a hard day and still be filled with gratitude.  This is what we ask of our children, so we better be able to do it too.

The next time you are dealing with a kid’s bad attitude, stop and check yourself.  Do you ever have that attitude toward God?  I’ll tell you now that the answer is yes.  Yes you do.

This revelation always helps me be more understanding toward my kids.  It may seem small to me when they feel sad because they don’t get to watch the movie they wanted, but my junk seems small to God.  And it helps me be softer.  I still teach them, I still discipline them, I still correct them.  But I am gentler about it when I remember that I am only barely more mature than they are.

It also helps me be less of a brat in my attitude toward God.  When I am feeling whiny about an unexpected car repair draining the bank account I remember, if my child lost $1 and couldn’t buy any candy I would think it was silly.  I’d know there would be another $1 and more candy.  But the child doesn’t see it.  So it’s the same…..God knows I will be alright if I spend all my money on the repair, but I can’t see it.  It’s all about trusting God.  One of the hardest things to do, at least in my personal experience.

I’m not too good at trust.  I fight it.  I could never do those trust falls and I have to work at letting my guard down.  But I am learning that it’s possible to trust someone and I have no doubt that trusting God is the right thing to do every single time.

One of these days I might even become wise and mature.  But probably not anytime soon since I just spent last weekend crying on my husband’s shoulder over the fact that my car wipers stopped working.

Will I never learn that God has it all taken care of in just the way I need?!?!

Be sure to hop over to my article on Thomas Nelson about this same topic, “What Being a Parent Teaches Us About Our Relationship with God.”  It’s a more grown-up version of this post because, well, no offense, but those readers expect maturity.

I would love to hear how your parenting has taught you about your own relationship with God.  Go over to Facebook where we can talk about it more!

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom

Confessions of a Homeschooling Mom


I wanted to share some extra love and encouragement for all you moms out there who are trying to get used to the fall schedule changes.  Whether you homeschool or send your kids to school, it’s hard to adjust!  If you’re hanging by a thread, you’re not alone!

My plan was to get back to school this week, homeschool that is.  I have been going through curricula, setting up schedules and stocking up on supplies for weeks.  I woke up early Monday morning, exercised (which I haven’t done faithfully all summer), woke up the boys like a town crier and got breakfast ready.  “Wake up boys!  Time to wake up!  It’s 7:30!  Rise and shine!!!’  They moaned and groaned and rolled out of bed with their eyes closed.  But no amount of groaning was going to persuade me to let them go back to bed.  I planned to start school precisely at 9:am with real clothes on and the chores done.

Yep.  I’m a dreamer.

One thing I knew after 20+ years of homeschooling was that it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing.  There has not been a school launch week yet that has gone exactly as I had planned.  No matter how much prep work I’d done there were going to be bumps in the road.  And this year has been no different.  Lots and lots of bumps.  Some of the bumps felt more like Mt Everest on top of Old Smokey.

By 8:00 on the first morning we had already gotten off course.  There were some kid character issues and slow-pokiness to deal with.  Then we moved on to dog poop in the hallway, a dead rodent in my bathroom, cleaning out lockers (which they were supposed to have done the week before) that took 2 hours and a friend with a minor emergency that needed help.  We got very little school done, not only because of the constant issues, but half of the books I ordered had not arrived yet.  By 10:pm that first night I collapsed into bed and wondered if I would ever get my groove back.

But then I remembered something….something that made all the difference.  And after that I fell asleep with hope for the future.

  1. The early morning character issues exposed a problem I hadn’t known about.  We dealt with it, made a plan, and I can tell it really lifted a burden for one of our boys.
  2. The hallway carpet got scrubbed and vacuumed, something I’d been wanting to do but not finding the time.
  3. The dead rodent, well the only good thing about that is that it was dead.
  4. Since we cleaned out the lockers during school hours I did the job with them (last week they would have done it on their own) and we had a really nice time looking at all of their old projects and talking about all we learned last year as we tossed out the papers.  It helped us all feel a sense of excitement for the new year.
  5. I took one of my boys along with me to help my friend and that was a sweet time spent together that we rarely get.
  6. Since we are waiting for some books, we pulled out a few maps and pencils and did some really fun geography that everyone enjoyed.  They’re still working on the maps just for fun.

There’s always something good about any day.  Hidden opportunities and unexpected blessings.  Even a dead mouse can bring joy when you see your son coming to your rescue.  The kids know I hate it so they bravely do the dirty work.

Day 2 had its own share of challenges including a trip to take my oldest son to rent a car that became the Gilligan’s Island of projects.  What was supposed to take 30 minutes took 6 hours and I barely made it to a dinner meeting I had.  I walked out the door at 11:00 that morning to drop him at the car rental place, calling out behind me, “Get those assignments done boys and I’ll be back in half an hour to do the next lesson!”  I didn’t get home until 9:30 that night.

I understood how Gilligan’s family must have felt.  3-hour tour my eye.

What was good about that?  Well I got to spend a gob-ton of time with my oldest son and quietly watch him handle some very rude and dishonest people at the car rental place.  He was MUCH nicer than I would have been.

The next day, Wednesday, I got up an extra 15 minutes early to add to my prayer time.  I thought I needed it or we would never get school done.  I normally have my prayer while I exercise, but I went for a bit extra since it had been such a hard week.  After prayer and a little time on the treadmill, I had a few emails to answer so I didn’t come out of my bedroom until 8:15.  I expected another rough start since I hadn’t done my town crier routine, but what I found was amazing!  My 4 boys were all fed, dressed, chores done and doing their school work.  Say WHAT?!

I nearly cried.

OK I did cry a little.  Boys love that.

I went around to each of them and hugged them and thanked them for being so responsible then we went over their assignments for the day.  Really….I was kind of amazed and thanked God for this miracle.  I don’t expect it to happen every day, but it sure was nice and I will pack it away in my memory for the other days that don’t go as smoothly.

I can already picture us 15 years from now sitting around the Christmas dinner table laughing and talking about old times, them with their families and me soaking in all the togetherness when one of them smiles and says, “Hey, remember that time we all did our school work and chores without being asked?”  And I’ll tear up and hug them again.  Then I’ll hug their wives and their kids just for being there.

Yes.  It was that nice of a morning.

So maybe Lisa will get her groove back after all.  If not, that’s OK too.  When you ask me what I learned from this rough start to the new schedule, I will say that I learned how good God is to use all of the problems and turn them into blessings.  I know for sure that every day will be filled with richness, even if I don’t recognize it right away.

How’ve your first few weeks of the new season been?  Hop over to Facebook and tell me all about it!

10 Encouraging Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

10 Encouraging Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

As you may know, we homeschool our kids.  Yep, all 9 of ’em.  They have never been to any kind of traditional school and at this point 5 of them are homeschool graduates.  Currently I have 4 kids still  homeschooling….all boys.

As you can imagine, it’s not easy to homeschool.  But the hard part isn’t getting information in their brain.  They’re naturally curious and smart and desire to learn (OK, they don’t always desire to learn what you’re trying to teach but they are natural learners).  The hard part is figuring out consequences for poorly done work, creating an environment where they can concentrate, being available to teach lessons while trying to get meals on the table, working out schedules and extra activities, discipline.  The hard part is getting other people to understand that you can’t just drop everything and talk on the phone or go out.  School is work and it requires sticking to a schedule just like anything else.

But the benefits….oh my word it would be impossible for me to list them all.  Besides the amazing, focused education the kids get, there’s the relationship that gets built.  They have someone teaching them who loves them completely and is invested in their future.  They get to go at their own pace, so if they want to move faster through the books they can, if they want to learn more about some subjects, they can do that too.  And while there is a schedule, there is also flexibility.  If we decide we want to work at the local food pantry one morning a week, we can build that into the schedule.  Park day, classes outside, a weekly day off, starting at 10am, whatever works best for your family can be arranged.

I have loved homeschooling my kids, and I have hated homeschooling my kids.  Some of mine have learning challenges and some have occasional attitude problems and sometimes I just wake up not sure I can do it that day.  There have been times when we had a difficulty I had no idea how to tackle.  From reading comprehension to lack of interest to time management to cost issues….we have had our share of struggles.

And then there are the beautiful moments that make it all worthwhile.  When you’re sitting there as the curtain pulls back on a child’s mind and they really get it.  They read that first word and you see the world open up to them.  When they fall in love with history or science.  When you figure it out together.  Those moments of heart connection….swoon.  Reading books aloud as a family, watching their “plays” and listening to them practice their instruments for you.  What. A. Blessing.

So homeschooling is the story of the good, the bad and the beautiful.  Some days are successes and others are dismal failures.  You learn to get up the next day, put your armor on and try it again.  You see the progress you have made and cling to it like a life raft on the Titanic.


If you’re a homeschooler, here are some tips from this old homeschooling mama to you:

  1. Let go of the opinions of others.  Nothing will help you more than to release yourself from feeling the weight of the words of others.  The mother-in-law who shows a lack of confidence in your homeschooling or the neighbor who constantly “quizzes” your kids are no help to your very important task.  Not everyone will understand or support you.  OK.  Move on.  Find a support system in others and let the nay-saying go.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschoolers.  Not all homeschoolers look alike.  Some moms are teaching their kids Latin and taking them to the state senate chambers to learn how government work while you’re barely out of your pajamas hoping they get half of their math pages done before dinner.  It’s different for everyone.  Don’t let what other moms are doing set you back and put a guilt trip on you.  You are on your own path and that’s what your kids need.
  3. RELAX.  My number one tip to any homeschool mom who asks for my advice is to relax.  You can’t possibly offer your kids everything that traditional schools offer….you don’t have the time or resources.  You don’t need to rush anything or pressure your child to keep up with someone else’s system.  Enjoy your days together!  Moms who try to do too much end up burning out and feeling guilty. There’s no reason to do that to yourself!
  4. Go at your own pace.  This isn’t a race.  There’s no prize for finishing your books by May or getting it done early.  When you make your plans be sure to consider what your family needs.  Is there a new baby coming?  Maybe plan a month off for that time.  Do you love Christmas?  Take an extra week to enjoy it.  Take a vacation in the middle of the school year (one of the fantastic perks of homeschooling!) or take Fridays off.  Who cares if you are still finishing up school work in July?  Who says summer should have no schoolwork?  We always do school in the summer.  It works for us.
  5. Enjoy it! This time with your kids is about so much more than learning math or memorizing geography.  This is being together, building character, living life and becoming who we are all supposed to be!  I learn as much as my kids do most days.  Do you like to be outside?  Go out there and have school lessons!  Are you on the road a lot….make fun ways to do school in the car.  Laugh and slow down and take rabbit trails and be creative.  We have had school on the top of Enchanted Rock and at the bottom of an empty creek bed.  Don’t limit yourself and enjoy this time!!!
  6. Be realistic.  Some days you simply won’t get everything done that you hoped.  This is true for everyone, of course, but it feels so daunting when you fall off the plans in homeschool.  Moms say to me all the time, “We are so far behind!”  I always ask, “Behind WHAT?!”  Why do you feel pressure to keep up with an arbitrary schedule?  Expand it to fit your needs, adjust it to work for you, tweak it to fit your lifestyle.  The rush is imaginary and we let it drag us along for no good reason.  If you can’t keep up…..change the plan!  Be honest with yourself about what you can really do.
  7. Don’t try to be SuperMom.  She doesn’t exist.  Your friends on Instagram….they’re not showing you the tantrums and messes.  We all have them.  It’s when we put pressure on ourselves to perform at some crazy level that we start to crash.  You can’t teach all day, make gourmet meals, keep a beautifully clean, Pinterest worthy house and keep up with violin/piano/karate/dance/speech&debate, the list goes on.  Here’s a word of wisdom for you:  Just do what you can do.  Deep, huh?
  8. Ask for help.  If you’re struggling….please tell someone!  This is hard stuff and your struggles are normal.  Your friends care about you and want to be there for you.  I’m not talking about complaining….I’m talking about being honest.  I once had a problem that I could not figure out how to solve.  My son, who was 7 at the time, could not add tens but he could add dimes.  I mean it nearly drove me up the wall and out the door.  I would sit down to do math with him and no matter how many times we went over it he could not add ten to anything. “Son,” I would say ever-so-sweetly, “What is 5 + 10?”  He didn’t know.  Blank stare.  “OK,” I said starting to sweat, “What is 5¢ + 10¢?” He would answer, “That’s easy….15¢”  WHY COULDN’T HE ADD THE TENS!????  One day I told a friend my problem.  I cried on the phone and poured out my inadequacy to her.  She listened and then told me, “Lisa, he will get it.  Just drop it for a while and come back to it later.  This is nothing to worry about.”  This mom had older kids and I respected her so I just did what she said.  And the problem was gone.  When we picked that back up in a month or so he could do it.  I was so glad I reached out to her!  There have been many, many times I shared a homeschool struggle with a friend and got great wisdom.
  9. Be honest.  It doesn’t help anyone if you try to put on a show.  We all need this tip…..just show who you really are and don’t try to prove anything to anyone.  Some days are great, some days are terrible, most days are somewhere in between.  If you’re having too many terrible days, get help.  If you’re having a lot of great days, count your blessings.  You have no one to impress and you aren’t doing yourself any favors if you’re trying to look perfect.
  10. PRAY!  I can’t imagine how I would have done this for so long if I didn’t have a good God to lean on.  He gets me through, gives me fresh ideas, helps me know what each child needs, loves me when I feel like I’m a mess.

I also want to say something very, very important… if you read only the end….read this.  Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee anything.  It doesn’t mean you’ll have happy kids, successful kids, brilliant kids, geeky kids, awkward kids, kids who like you or appreciate all you did for them.  There are no promises with kids no matter how hard you work or how much love you pour into them.


My 5 kids that have graduated are all on different paths…..

-Our oldest daughter is living in Dallas and goes to a fantastic church and is seeing a great guy and they are planning to get married (brace yourself for lots of wedding planning posts coming soon).  She has self published 5 books and if you have a kid who loves sci-fi then you need her books!
-Our oldest son graduated from law school last weekend (WOOHOO!!!) and we are unbelievably proud of him.  He’s on his way to the life he dreamed of.  He is in the process of finishing his own album and you will LOVE it.  He is also in the Young Living business and y’all, he is brilliant with this stuff.  He amazes me every day.
-Our third child is on her own and figuring out how she wants her life to be.  We are thrilled for her and get to see her all the time.  She has developed a really cool writing program for kids that you should check out!!!
-Our fourth child is the one who has been a struggle for us.  She ran away from home and it broke my mom-heart.  There is still much pain and loss involved and it’s a story yet unfinished.  But I can tell you that there is still joy.  If my joy was wrapped up in my kids then I would be lost…..instead it is wrapped up in Christ and His love, mercy and grace.  Even through the pain I am filled with happiness and victory.
-Our youngest graduate is still living at home and doing great.  She has a thriving photography business and she also has a Young Living business.  She goes on mission trips and helps with her siblings.  She’s downright adorable and a blessing to me! (they’re all a blessing of course, no matter what the circumstances!)
-The rest of the kids are still home, in school and I love my days with them.  I know how quickly it passes and don’t waste a minute of it.

So mama, if you’re homeschooling, hang in there.  You’re gonna make it! Your kids will be FINE.

If you really want some encouragement, come to the Summit in Texas and Oklahoma.  It will fill your tank!!!  Go HERE to register!

If you liked this, you will also like my post about how I use essential oils in my homeschooling.

Be sure to get my book, it will give you even more encouragement!

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

If you're not sure wheteher or not to pick up this latest craze, or how to keep it under control, here are some great tips for you!

Yes, we have gotten into the new craze…Pokémon Go.  Before you throw stones and tell me how it was started with evil intent and Christians shouldn’t be spending time on such terrible things, let me fill you in.

I have been looking for things to do with my 3 youngest boys that don’t involve yard work (which we do a lot of) or home repair (it never ends) or school (being the mom and the teacher has its challenges).  I wanted to do something they would enjoy, but didn’t cost much and we could build memories with.  And since lately I have been seeing this Pokémon game being discussed all over the interwebs, I downloaded the app.  Of course, because I am old I didn’t understand anything about it, I had to ask my 15 year old to look at it with me and that was the end of that.  He took over and his 2 younger brothers gathered around him like moths to a flame.

After we got it set up and started it became obvious that it wasn’t something we could do at home.  Living in the country means no PokeStops or Pokémon to catch.  You have to go where the people are.  You have to be active.  So I suggested we go for a drive and see how it all works.  For the next hour and a half we explored our town and met some interesting young people.  And that’s when I fell in love with the game.

I wasn’t actually playing, I was just driving my boys around as they took turn catching and colleting.  And I had such a fab time with them!  Here’s why I am all for the game and why we will keep playing….

  1. We do it together.  It depends on how you play, but since we were all working off of one phone it became a group activity.  They take turns and help each other find things.  They tell me where to go and when to turn and I enjoy being led by my little men.  They get excited together and we have plans to do it as often as possible.
  2. We explore our town.  The PokeStops are places like monuments, murals, churches and city buildings.  We walk around and learn about our town and places we had never really noticed.  It is such fun to find out more about the place we live!
  3. Historical markers!  Some places we have to go are the local historical Markers.  I told the boys that any marker we stop at to get Pokémon we also have to actually READ the marker and discuss it.  We decided to do some more studying later about some of these incredible historical spots!
  4. Meeting new people.  We meet a lot of new people!  I will chat with other Pokémon players while the boys look for Pokémon and I really enjoy meeting some people I would otherwise never have met.  I don’t care if they are a group of young men drinking beer while playing Pokémon or moms with their kids or teen girls with all colors of hairstyles.  It is such a blessing to interact with them, ask for their advice on playing the game and get to know a little about them.  Everyone has been friendly and I hope I will get to see them again!
  5. Adding a new dimension to our travel.  My boys kept talking about how fun it will be to look for Pokémon when we go to Universal Studios in September.  Or the airport.  Or when visiting their sister in Dallas.  I can see that we will get to explore new things about these places too, things we would never have discovered otherwise.
  6. Believe it or not, exercise!  There’s one part of the game where you get rewards for walking….actually walking (or running would work too, but you can’t drive or ride).  So we are going for walks and talking about life while our steps work in the game.  LOVE!

I know there are bad things about this game.  People getting hurt or being careless.  There is probably some wicked intent with the whole Pokémon thing that I am unaware of and, frankly, not worried about.  I do have some requirements that I added to the game to make it family friendly and as long as we stick to those I think it will be a great way for me to spend time with my boys.

  1. We do it together only.  No one will be going off to play alone and they have to take turns.  Once someone catches a Pokémon and goes to a Poke Stop they hand the phone to the next person.  Their turns can vary in length and style, so you have to be patient and a bit selfless.  If your kids aren’t good at this, it’s a perfect way to teach this concept.
  2. Be careful, for goodness sake!  Really, I can see how someone would just step into the street or if you were driving and doing it, man it’s dangerous. Even though I am not looking at the game at all when I am driving, the boys shout out directions to me like, “Turn left NOW” as I am driving in the right lane.  They’re excited and I can’t see what’s happening in the game so it gets hairy.  Just keep your wits, remember what’s most important (staying safe, that’s what) and you’ll be fine.
  3. We have to look around and not just at the phone.  Anytime we are in a spot that is interesting (which is almost everywhere) I take the phone from them and we look around.  We talk about the area, what happens there, why we think it is a PokeStop, etc.  Like I said above, we read all historical markers and study the murals and statues.  There is some amazing stuff out there!
  4. Talk to people.  If we see anyone else playing where we are, the rule is that one of us has to say hello to them and ask them one question, either Pokémon advice or something about themselves.  Smile, be friendly, get to know someone, and shine the love of Christ to others.  This is my favorite of all the rules we made.  🙂
  5. No getting obsessed.  We are an obsessive bunch around here.  We get overly attached to things and can let it control our minds.  We do a lot of Bible memory and make it a habit to focus on what is good, and true and pure.  So when my mom-radar detects a kid getting overly consumed with something that is just fluff and not valuable to their life, I nip it fast.  The boys have been told in no uncertain terms, if they talk too much about Pokémon, or seem like they’ve gotten carried away with it we will stop.  Nada.  No mo.
  6. No spending money! There is no way I am going to spend any money on in app purchases no matter what….we won’t be doing that.  I don’t care if the world’s rarest Pokémon treasure is within our reach if we would only spend 99¢, I’m not doing it.  Got it?  Not my money, not their money, NO money will be spent on this game.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am really enjoying this.  It’s not just another video game that my boys play and I know little to nothing about.  This is something I can do with them and I have at least a clue what the different parts are and what they’re talking about (although I will never understand it all).  I love listening to them in the backseat strategizing and sharing their victories with each other.  It’s a delight to play this game with my boys and have something we do together.

When I run into town I invite one of the boys to go so they can play alone for a few minutes.  I’ll run my errand then spend 10 minutes or so looking for Pokémon at their direction.  This morning my youngest son and I discovered a park that we didn’t know was there and made plans to go back and play on the playground there when it gets cooler.

If you’ve been on the fence about this or have decided it’s a bad thing to stay away from, I hope you will consider trying it.  Just stick closely to the boundaries you create for it and you’ll have grand time!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram where, of course, I don’t share any Pokémon pictures because I don’t have access to my phone/camera when we are playing….which….if you think about it is another plus.  No one is doing anything except playing and enjoying the outdoors.  But I do share other fun stuff there….. 😉

And if you have any other Pokémon tips we would love to hear them.  Hop over to Facebook and tell us all about it!

If you liked this, you will also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios —>

An Ungrateful Children Recipe (for helping them, not making them)

An Ungrateful Children Recipe (for helping them, not making them)

This week we have had a houseful!  And for a mom with 9 kids, that’s saying something.  My 4 nieces and nephews are here for 10 days and one of my teens has 2 friends visiting for the week.  That’s 6 extra people.

Now, you’re probably one of those moms who says things like, “There are 42 children at my house today and I LOVE it!”  I meet those ladies and wonder what God was thinking when He made me.  Because if I had 42 extra people staying at my house for 10 days I would be calling them men in white coats to take me away.  I am not that girl.

It’s not just having company that makes it hard, but my own children are ignored when this much is going on and really no one is getting the attention they need.  So the attitudes slip and the fussiness kicks in.

Look, I get it.  Children need to be seen and heard.  And I WANT to take great care of every one.  But sometimes the person bleeding just gets more attention that the person who is crying because their cookie fell on the ground.  It’s a hard fact of life.

I am really enjoying the family being here and the friends and getting to spend time with them all.  BUT  I hit a wall yesterday where I thought that if I heard one more word of complaint or whine about an injustice I was going to lose my ever lovin’ mind.  Mama doesn’t care for whining and crying about how one child didn’t get the same amount of food or another got told he couldn’t play wii right now.  And when I say no, DO NOT ASK ME WHY.

{{OK Lisa, shake it off}}

Of course, each time we have a situation I have been sitting down and talking sweetly to them about the appropriate way to respond to a problem or God’s way to handle disappointment.  But it’s draining. Then yesterday I thought, “Hey, I have all of these essential oils….I wonder if I could ‘brew up a potion’ that would help.”

I already had the oils all out in my bathroom to make some sprays to take with us for a day at the river.  We would need something for the sun and nature we were going be exposed to.  I made a bottle with Purification and peppermint and another with lavender.  Then I glanced over at the case of oils and saw my little bottle of Gratitude and thought, “Hmmmm…..”

So I mixed up this concoction:

An essential oil concoction that every mom needs!

For the rest of the day yesterday and this morning, I have been carrying the spray bottle in my pocket and pulling it out anytime there’s an attitude problem.  I just give it a little spritz over their head and then have my quiet talk with them.

And if you’re wondering, yes, they all know what it is.  They can read.  And amazingly, it does seem to be helping.  I think it’s a combination of the oils and the unspoken message, “You’re being ungrateful,” that is communicated just by me spraying it.

But they have been smiling and listening better when we have out little talks after I use the spray.  And it smells good, which helps.  And it has the added benefit of helping my own attitude as well.

So I thought I’d share the simple recipe with you.

Ungrateful Children Spray: Fill a 2 oz sprayer bottle about 1/2 full of distilled water.  Add 1 tsp of witch hazel (this preserves it, so if you think you’ll use it quickly you don’t need it).  Add 12 drops of Gratitude, 12 drops of Joy and 4 drops of peppermint.  Shake before using.

Summer Outdoors Spray is 20 drops of Purification and 10 drops of peppermint (but in your Premium Starter Kit!).

Since that’s working so well I made 2 more sprays.  I thought I’d just keep the momentum going.

Exhausted Mom Spray has 15 drops of ErRGee, 10 drops of Motivation and 5 drops of Spearmint.

Worn Out Kids Spray has 10 drops of Harmony, 10 drops of lemon, 5 drops of rosemary and 1 drop of black pepper.

I may get a mad scientist coat and start making these for everything!  Mwahahaha!

If you haven’t gotten your Premium Starter Kit yet, HERE and once you order I’ll send you a great reference book and a bunch of other goodies!  Hooray!

Hop over to Facebook and let us know if you try it!

I am not a physician and these are simply the way my family uses the oils.  For a real medical situation please consult your doctor.  Or if your kids just won’t stop complaining, consider sending them to military school. 

Need Some Encouragement?!

Need Some Encouragement?!

On Monday I announced my new summer camp for moms!  I am so excited about this I could bust!  I’ve been planning and prepping for y’all these past few months and asking God to give me fresh ideas to lift you up and draw you closer to Him.  And in His beautiful, loving way, He gave me so many ideas that I don’t know how I will do all of them.

I want to fill you in a little on what we will be doing for the next 6 weeks.  You will love this… will be so easy to keep up with that you will be amazed.  I know how busy we all are, so my goal is to give you a place of refreshment that doesn’t add to your pile of pressure.

  1. First and most important, I have been praying for you.  I’m asking God to send who He wants, who needs encouragement, who is not enjoying their family as much as they want to our camp.  If you’re feeling discouraged or tired or stuck somehow, then this camp is for you!  It will be uplifting and motivating.  You’ll find friends who will cheer you on as you push toward your goal of finding that old you who loved life.

    In fact, last Sunday I went to the Grand Canyon and while my 2 kids that were with me went to make some videos, I sat and prayed for you all.  I spent an hour and a half sitting on a rock, looking over the majesty of the canyon and asking Him to give you peace and comfort and to use me in any way He wanted to bring you joy.

    A great online summer camp for moms!

  2. You will get a weekly email with a video of encouragement and fun.  We will virtually visit exotic places and find time to chill out.  It will take 10 minutes and then you will be left with some fresh ideas for how to enjoy your summer.  Just once a week….not every day.  I want this to fit into your full schedule.  This is time for YOU!

    A great online summer camp for moms!  Get refreshed, be encouraged, enjoy your family!

  3. We will have a Facebook group just for our mom campers.  There you can pop in and out all you want.  Need a shoulder to lean on?  It will be there.  Need some strong, encouraging friends?  They’re there.  Every time I mention on my Facebook page that I am hanging out with my girlfriends I hear from dozens of women who say they don’t have that kind of friend in their life.  THIS is where you will find those people, learn to build friendships that will be a support for you and grow!!!

    A great online summer camp for moms!

  4. Another great part of my summer camp will be the daily (M-F) texts.  These are optional, but it’s going to bless you.  This is a sweet message to start your day with.  You can look at it all day when you need to remember how special you are and that you can be that energized woman God intended you to be!

    A great online summer camp just for moms!!!  Register now!

  5. Prizes!  Oh yeah, we will have a weekly Thursday night “bonfire” in the Facebook group where I have lined up special guests, prizes and lots of fun!!!  You don’t want to miss this!!!

    A wonderful online summer camp just for moms!!!  Register now!!!

My friends, go get registered for summer camp.  And if you have friends who could use some lifting up, send them over too!  The more the merrier!

All women are welcome!!!

An Exciting Summer Camp for MOMS!!!

An Exciting Summer Camp for MOMS!!!

I am SO excited to announce that I have put together a GREAT Summer Camp for Moms!


Now, before you run to the storage and start digging around for your old backpack and sleeping bag…..hold on!  This camp is going to take place online.  Yep, that’s right.  You get to sleep in your own bed and have all the air-conditioning you want.  But at the same time, you’ll be making new friends, getting camp-style encouragement and being refreshed.  We moms need a break too!

From July 4-August 12 we will be hanging out together and getting uplifted.  When you sign up for Mom’s Summer Camp….aka Camp Gimmeabreak…you’ll be added to our camp Facebook group where we will have daily morning encouragement, pray for each other, share healthy encouragement and even have a weekly bonfire with special guests.  Every Monday you will get an email with a video from me, a list of ideas for making your week shine and some tips for building great summer memories!  We will be going through my book, “Mama Needs a Do-Over“, so be sure to pick that up before camp starts next week!

Before you start to think, “This might be too much for me to do….I have a FULL schedule already!” let me assure you that I understand!  These are full days for all of us, so I am making sure that there are no hard assignments or overwhelming actions that will keep you from getting through camp.  This is exactly what you need….a few weeks of summer fun just for MOM!

So, how do you sign up?!  Well it’s super simple!  Just click HEREto get started!  Tell all of your friends and spread the word…this is gonna be a great way to escape the summer blahs!


And I have a LOT of surprises up my sleeve for this time we will spend together.  You DO NOT want to miss a second of it!

See you around the campfire!


A Little Mom Time

A Little Mom Time

Moms need breaks sometimes. If you're feeling bad about resting, it's time for you to get over that!

Well? How was your weekend?

It was pretty quiet around here.  It was supposed to be busy, but things got cancelled and changed and it turned out to be kinda slow, which was so nice.

On Saturday it was just me and my younger three boys at home, so I told them that if they got all of their chores done quickly they could have the afternoon free.  The only requirement for their free time was that at least an hour of it had to be doing something outside.

I could hear them plotting while they swept and folded the clothes.  By the time we were all done with chores they had a whole plan in motion.  Their plan included sword fights, super heroes, eating nachos and playing wii.  That was perfect for me because my plan included ignoring them for the afternoon while I caught up on my reading.  I have two books that I am in the middle of, one fiction and one non-fiction.  There are always two because sometimes I’m in the mood for educating myself and other times I’m in the mood to get swept away in a great story.  This day it was fiction.

I settled in my bedroom and read my delicious book.  When the day was over I was feeling pretty refreshed.  I mean, what’s more relaxing than a clean house and happy kids who are playing together?  Nothing, I tell you, nothing.

On Sunday we visited a new church for the second time.  The whole finding-a-church thing is so hard.  You visit one for a few weeks, realize it’s really not the right fit for you and you move on.  Sometimes it’s obvious why the place is not right for you and sometimes it’s just a sense after much prayer and discussion.  We have had several great churches in our past that we loved and loved the people, but since we moved here many years ago that connection really hasn’t happened.  We’ve attended some for years, but not had that sense of belonging.  I’m not sure why God has kept us in this dry place, but we have continued the search and are not giving up.

After we got home yesterday it was the best part of my week….Sunday nap.  I mean to tell you my Sunday nap is critical to my well being the rest of the week.  I slept for 2 hours and woke up wondering where I was.  After a second I rolled over and just laid there…oh yeah, it’s Sunday.  It’s really the only day I can just let myself wake up slowly without someone waiting for me to help them or asking me a question.  There was nothing pressing, no work to do, no kids needing me for anything.

If you’re feeling jealous over my Saturday reading and Sunday napping, hear me when I tell you that these things were impossible for me for about 20 years.  With 9 kids and homeschooling and living on a hobby farm, there’s never been much time for rest.  So this is a new season and you will get there too.  When the babies are little it seems so far away, then you blink and you’re there wishing for them to be little again.  But not too little….’cuz that nap was pretty awesome.

This week it’s gonna be me bracing myself for the oncoming heat wave.  The temps are rising steadily and are expected to be 90 by the weekend.  That’s nothin’ compared to what’s ahead, but still too hot for this A/C loving mama.

Have a great Monday and hop over to Facebook to say hello!