Building on our Foundation with a New Challenge!

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Oh how I love learning, let me count the ways! But if you must know the truth, I didn’t always love learning. I used to think of learning as a means to an end, something you did to get a grade, a job, a future.  If you were to ask me how long I have loved learning, I would have to answer like the great Elizabeth Bennett when asked to name the moment her love for Mr. Darcy began.

`It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began….’ but I believe I must date it from my first year as a foundations tutor for Classical Conversations when I began to memorize copious amounts of facts with my children growing ever more as I moved on to tutoring Essentials, Challenge A and now Challenge B.

The motto of Classical Conversations is “To know God and to make Him known.”  And the manner in which we know Him is not only through His Word but also through His world. Therefore, Classical Conversations places a high value on studying the arts and sciences. Instead of studying to pass a test or attain a degree, we are studying to know the very Creator of the universe.  We are studying so that we will have an answer for the hope that lies within us. We are studying because great are the works of the Lord. And they are studied by all who delight in Him. Yes, that includes math and Latin! Sadly, however, it is more common than not that those in the church look at “School Studies” as less than theological studies, when they really should be one in the same.

I used to consider myself a “Math” person, definitely not a history person. And God help me if my high school history teacher asked us to remember dates for a test. Remembering dates was so hard. And what was the point? However, after studying the history, geography, and timeline facts in CC over the last 8 years, learning dates has become a breeze. In addition, I discovered that knowing the details began to bring the whole story into focus. History. His-story. The same can also be said of English and Latin. Learning these simple facts made the entire world come alive for me. God’s world. And now I consider myself a learning person rather than a math person! However, it wasn’t until I tutored these classes for CC, that I really began to get excited about learning. If tutoring foundations and essentials increased my love for academics, directing the Challenge levels (7-12 grade) completely blew it out of the water! I watched one of my daughters, with a small amount of confidence, produce large results as she worked diligently, although hesitantly, through her Challenge A year. She never imagined she was capable of drawing the world with all of its countries and capitals and features. Yet she did, and did it beautifully. Furthermore, we began to dig into the art of rhetoric through studying apologetics, and learning how to persuade through essays in our writing program, all of which only served to strengthen our love and knowledge for the One who created it all.

It was for these reasons and more, that when a position opened in our community to direct Challenge III, which is mostly comprised of 11th graders, I suggested to my husband Paul  that he should think and pray about doing it! You see for the last 7 years, I have watched our family grow together in a pursuit for knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to a degree I have never witnessed with other programs and knew what a tremendous blessing this would be. But how could he, a full time pastor, add more to his schedule?

Ultimately, we thought it would be a phenomenal fit for our family for several reasons. First of all, pastors regularly to go back to school for additional theological training to enhance their teaching and ability to counsel effectively. But if Paul were to go back to school, he would be attending a class as a passive learner. As a Challenge director, on the other hand, he would be the lead learner, directing and facilitating conversations about American history, philosophy, and logic, and Shakespeare all through a Biblical lens, while becoming a mentor to a small group of world changers.

Secondly, my husband has been studying scripture for decades, but now, by focusing on God’s world in addition to His Word,  his knowledge of God would take on immeasurable depth and dimension. For instance, we have recently been studying Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” in which we saw a tremendous correlation between what is real, and what is never to be. People tend to let ideas, or the “what ifs” affect their reality.  We discussed relationships and compared personality types deciding that I was probably Shakespeare’s type of girl (read complicated)! That night while hashing out the plight of Horatio and Hero, we had a deeper and richer discussion about marriage than we had ever experienced studying the typical relationship book. Studying Shakespeare brought the principles of God’s Word to life!

Finally, by diving headfirst into our homeschool curriculum, my husband would be able to be a deeper part of the conversations in our family. You see, studying God’s world, the art of persuasion, the essentials of the English language, the Lost Tools of Writing and more, is teaching us how to communicate and write while strengthening the way we listen and truly hear others. Never was a program more aptly named, for the conversations in our house have grown each year in ways I could never have imagined.  This alone is reason enough to praise the Lord! Our two oldest are just at the beginning of their teen years, and I am so thankful for the tools we are all learning through this program. We are logically discussing ideas with kindness, listening and defining our terms, comparing history with the present, and researching evidence.

However, despite all of our rationale and excitement, I did have some anxiety as the summer came to an end and the school year loomed in front of us. How would we pull this off? What would it look like? Did we bite off more than we could chew? Yet through every step I have seen God’s sovereignty in the details. A new focus strengthened in our family with a common desire to learn about God’s world with purpose and intention. And here’s why. We have a whole generation of people who have ignored logic, forgotten history, and belittled the importance of studying language, science, and math. And we are reaping the consequences. But we, in the church, should be different. The next time your student asks why they need to study history, math, or fill in the blank, remind them that by knowing God’s world, we get to know God and each other more, enhancing our love for Him, while growing our ability to know and love others with a strong bond of community. That is the true value. Remember those two great commandments, Love the Lord your God with all your soul, heart, MIND, and strength. And love your neighbor as your self.

We know this will be a hard, but worthy task. Instead of “Netflix and Chill” for us, it is “Shakespeare and Talk,” and frankly, as much as we are LOVING our studies, sometimes chilling seems more appealing. Yet the blessings we have seen, the harvest already apparent, have confirmed this choice over and over again.

Lastly, we happily committed to this challenge because of the true strength of Classical Conversations. The community. Serving our community has knit our hearts together as we watch our savior weave a tapestry of Grace right before our eyes.

This picture here was our first year. We had NO idea what we were doing.  The baby was born two weeks later, and the year was a total blur. Honestly, the next few years were a blur. But we took baby steps to get to this place, and let me tell you the view is Divine. The Lord has stretched us in the most beautiful ways, and we are grateful for this opportunity to know Him and make Him known!

 

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Every Now and Then I Fall Apart

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They told me not to look. Experts. Friends. Everyone literally agreed. Looking would only bring pain. The image would be there forever, burned indelibly on my mind . There would be regret. Massive regret. And what was there to gain? Did I really want permanent damage in an attempt to satisfy a curiosity that is sure to be insatiable? I knew what I would see, didn’t I? I have seen the pictures. It was sure to be the same. Those same images with that same hashtag. But hope is so hard to kill. It won’t die no matter how often it is plunged through the heart with reality. So I looked. I couldn’t not. And oh my Lord how it hurt. It hurt worse than I expected, for I am familiar with the pain. I have looked before. Many times. Daily, if I am honest. Always looking at his instagram account in this stupid, desperate attempt to find the person I thought we knew. But he’s not there. He’s never there. In his place is this person who is living a dream, a dream that has become our nightmare. A dream filled with sunrises and ocean waves but none of us. We aren’t there. And he calls it good.  Anger is so much easier. Anger doesn’t allow for hope. Harsh words protect, providing a perverted comfort. Oh God, why did I hope? The obvious protection is to look away. Don’t think about it. Don’t hope. But I did, and it’s too late. The damage is done and  the daily roll call of questions begin to file through my mind. How could he? Why won’t he? What was ever real? Then as sudden as it came, the darkness passes and the light returns. The light of my Savior, my family, my friends.  I know tomorrow there will be another opportunity to look, to hope, to burn. But I won’t. Not this time. I will not let one solitary image take precedence over the world of wonder around me. Not again.

Conversations about Racial Unity in the Church.

Racial-Justice-2.jpgJust as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them- Bonhoeffer

Last summer I started learning about racism from my friend Dimitri who is brave enough to have these tough conversations. I say brave, because he will likely lose friends, offend others, and be misunderstood. But he keeps taking these chances.

It is a conversation worth having because the consequences are grave if we try to go on with business as usual.
I have noticed an attitude that is prevalent in many circles today. Maybe you felt it. A blatant dismissal of other people’s pain.

It can sound like this:

“That was then, this is now.”

“Black people are cursed because they came from the line of a man that was cursed in the Bible.”

“The Chinese, Jews, and Irish were all enslaved, but they are successful today.”

“I know successful black people. Look at Ben Carson! Everyone has the same chance in America. The others are just lazy.”

I know that people say those things because not only have I heard them, but embarrassingly, I have said them myself. I remember thinking as a child that black and white people shouldn’t be married because they would be “Unequally yoked.” I remember hearing jokes about someone not being allowed in a nice neighborhood because they had gotten too much sun that summer…. and laughing. I remember seeing rich black people and wondering if they were rap stars or basketball players.

Does that mean I was a racist? Not consciously. If you would have ever asked me if I thought I was better than someone because of my skin color I would say, absolutely not! But truthfully, if you take the above statements out to their logical conclusion, superiority is exactly what is being implied. Please know that I am not sharing these thoughts flippantly. I am deeply grieved and embarrassed by them. But my hope is that through my vulnerability, someone will be challenged to think deeply about their own preconceived ideas or thoughts.

After having these race related conversations with Dimitri, I came across a podcast on Twitter with Brant Hansen and Sherry Lynn on this very topic. Brant confessed to wrong thinking in regard to race. He expressed the need for us to have conversations with friends and people that aren’t exactly like us to learn about the experiences of different races.

I did a lot of that last summer,  almost as a research project. I wanted to write about the need for racial unity in the church, but I had no idea where to begin. Since this is such a sensitive issue, I thought it would be wise to first have as many conversations as possible and learn as much as I could about people’s feelings on the matter. As you could imagine this was quite awkward. There’s no easy way to lead into this.  Going to my African-American friends, I risked offending them with an ignorant comment or misplaced word. We are in a very tense climate, and if you use the wrong word people are offended.  If I use the word “black” someone is offended, but if I use the word “African-American” someone else is offended.  Going to my white friends I risked angering them also. Some people see any empathy to one side as an affront to the other. Like if I am sad that a black man was shot to death by a police officer, I must not care about cops, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Needless to say, I was very nervous to start these conversations. But I did it anyway, as much as possible.

I was unnerved to learn several friends had been thrown to the ground outside of their car by law enforcement for literally doing nothing….more than once.

I was shocked to learn one of my friends had racial slurs hurled at him for holding his white girlfriend’s hand.

I was devastated to hear that my dear friend…. my age… played softball while people in the crowd yelled “Hey N*****, N******, N*****”

This is not THEN this is NOW.

One particular afternoon I was with a bunch of my homeschool mom friends and decided to try to bring it up. It went something like this:

“So how’s your summer…good, good…… Anyone want to talk about the church’s responsibility to promote racial unity?”

Talk about an awkward lead in. The conversation was…… ok. I felt heard by some, and not at all by others. At the end of the discussion, one of my friends sought answers I didn’t have.

“Ok,” she began, “I hear what you are saying. I’ve never thought of some of those issues either. But what do I do about it? What can I do?” So I thought about it for a minute and came up with this brilliant answer.

I don’t know.

I don’t know what you personally need to do. I like to write. So at the very least, I plan to write about it, even though at first thought, it felt like a cop out. What can writing do? But days after having that thought, providentially, I came across a blurb about Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a mom with six kids that was burdened by slavery. One day as she spoke with her sister about feeling powerless to affect change, and her sister gave her some simple advice.

“You are a brilliant writer. Why don’t you write about it?”

And she did.

You see, we all have different gifts. We all have different passions. Maybe you’re a swim teacher, and when you hear that just under 70% of African-American children surveyed can’t swim, it breaks your heart.  Maybe you realize it’s literally insane to think they can’t swim because they are “less buoyant” than white people. Maybe you google it and find out that it’s hard to learn to swim when one isn’t allowed in the community pool and several generations are consequently affected. So you donate your time to lower income families who never learned to swim.

Only you can know how you can help.

What I do know is that nothing is going to change unless we start talking to someone on the other side of this issue rather than people that simply echo your same beliefs and experiences.

Empathy is at the core of racial unity in the church. 

I believe we need to start acknowledging other people’s experiences and pain and stop dismissing them.  Stop saying, “That was then… this is now” which is essentially,  “Get over it.” But instead, really engage in conversations with people and be willing to learn.

As I continued to listen to the podcast with Brant, he asked Sherri Lynn if she had anything to add. She agreed that he had covered the topic thoroughly, but wanted to address one thing.

“It is incredibly painful to be dismissed by someone that you love,”  she explained.

And my heart broke, because I know that feeling.

She explained that in some instances when she had expressed her experiences to friends, she was completely brushed aside, and that cut deep.

Here’s the bottom line.

You don’t have to agree with somebody to have empathy for them. Stop talking about them, and start talking to them.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we, as the body of Christ, could come together and show the world what true racial unity looks like. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

What if we started doing that? What if we confessed some prejudicial thinking we didn’t realize we had? What if those that have experienced humiliation, rejection, and injustices due to their skin color were able to confess the bitterness that had grown as a result. The Bible tells us exactly what will happen. We will be healed.

We need healing.

Some would say racial tensions are worse then they have ever been. But others would argue that they aren’t worse. Rather, they have simply been uncovered. Maybe we had to get to this point to deal with some deep pain and complicated issues. We have all been part of situations where pain and anger got swept under the rug destroying families, destroying relationships, and destroying marriages. I would like to suggest that many problems have been swept under the rug, many problems have been dismissed and ignored, but they never went away.

This is our opportunity for true healing through confession and thoughtful, honest conversations with listening. So much listening.

We are in a definitively tumultuous time in our country right now. But I believe that God is getting the church ready for something big. I have written about some tough issues here. And yet I admit I am not an expert on any of them. I pray that you would have Grace with me if I’ve said something that offended you. Because my goal was simply to start a conversation so that we can grow together in unity as we answer the prayer of our Savior in John 17:20-21

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Our unity proclaims His Deity. It’s really that important.

So let us walk forward with grace as we confess our sins one to another, beginning to listen excessively with love and empathy.

Using the Trivium to Learn about Racial Unity

The Dance Recital I Can’t Forget

 

This year I was so nervous about the girls dance recital. Not for them. But for the audience. I kept hearing all these rumblings about the show. It’s too intense. Some even removed their daughters from certain dances. Why? I kept wondering. Why be so risky? But this is nothing new. The owner of the studio, Treasha Detweiler, always pushes the envelope. A few years ago it was “The Offering,” a dramatic telling of the holocaust. The story went something like this. There was a family hiding Jews. And one day the non-jewish fiance picked up the wrong coat on his way out the door, it was the one with the gold star on it wrongfully identifying him as a jew. When the guards saw that Jewish star, they put him behind bars. Eventually they lined him up with the other prisoners and prepared to execute him. Arms extended, he never said a word. He gave his life willingly so his friend could live. Then the spotlight went to another scene, as a woman tells the story of another Man, who with arms extended, willfully gave His life on a cross, so that we might live.

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I will never forget that show. The picture of love and sacrifice mixed with flawless technique and breathtaking choreography. Treasha invited an honored guest. A holocaust survivor. He wept and proclaimed that this was the best holocaust dramatization he had ever seen. Then there was the show titled “The Undivided Heart.” A community divided by racism. One child killed in a car accident. His heart was then donated, unknowingly, across racial boundaries to another family. Joined now by blood. That last scene, a mother listening to her sons heart beat in another’s chest. I can’t even type this without crying. After the recital, a local mom shared the story of her own son, his life too short, but extended by a heart transplant himself. Then there was the ballet show about abuse and abortion. Who does these topics? What ever happened to the Nutcracker?

That brings us to this year. The topic was end time prophecy as told from the book of Revelations written by one of the dance teachers, Jennifer Dolan. A nice, light, topic… free from controversy….Or maybe not.
But Treasha knew something that not all Christians know. In the Bible it says this:

Revelations 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

And let me tell you after seeing this production I know without a doubt that not only did the audience take the words of Revelations to heart, but those dancers did too!

Before I saw the production, I wondered if the “Antichrist” dance was really necessary since there was so much talk of how “intense” it was. 
But after seeing it, I understood the need for it to be in there. It was my favorite one. Intense? Yes. Chilling. But necessary. It is a dance that I have watched over and over. I need to understand the truth portrayed in that scene. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. And I knew that their teachers were covering them in prayer daily. These same teachers had also prayed over each dance before one move was made.

My girls have been dancing with Many but one for about 7 years. We have sacrificed time and money. And for what? Is this a good use of our time and resources? There are many ways to instill values and beliefs in our children. Was this the right way? Those are weighty questions that we as parents will always wrestle with, often without definite answers. But this I know for sure. At this studio my girls have flourished and bloomed. They have also struggled and cried. They have continued to learn and grow in their knowledge of dance, life, and most importantly God. And our family has too. When we go to the productions, seeing our girls dance is a bonus. The stories are the main event. They stay with you. They pierce your heart. They leave a mark on your soul. And my girls have been able to be dance those stories. Yes, it can be difficult when they are young and have one small roll. And it can be frustrating when they are older and might still have a small roll. But the effect of being a part of the Many But One dance studio has been profound and eternal.

I am forever thankful for the risks they have taken, the stories they have told, and the lessons they have taught. Every member of my family has been blessed and challenged by the investments made at this little Christian performing arts studio. Is it perfect? No. Because there are humans there. But there is so much love, grace, and purpose that I feel incredibly grateful to have been a small part all these years.

I would encourage you to click on this link,(Anti-Christ dance  )and take a look at this dance. Whatever you believe about Revelations, you can’t argue with the truth expressed here. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, and rulers of this darkness. Let me know what you think in the comments. All crude and rude comments will be deleted. Keep it civil. 🙂

 

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How to Honor Fallen Soldiers All Year Long.

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As of late, there has been much confusion between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and I think I know why. We understand how to honor living Veterans. We can celebrate them, thank them, fight for their healthcare, and tangibly affect them. But how, exactly, do we honor the deceased? Attending a Memorial Day celebration and decorating a grave stone are important options, however, I would like to suggest a few other ways we can honor our fallen heroes all year round.

The first way we can honor fallen soldiers is to study their history. There seems to be a concerted effort to delete history in general. Whether it is by diluting the faith of the founding fathers, distorting the intent of the constitution, or denying the real reasons wars are waged, truth is being removed from the public square. Our utilitarian society has destroyed the beauty and the importance of studying history. Whenever a college student decides to major in history, they are asked, “What are you going to do with that? Become a history teacher?” However, from now on, students majoring in history should answer, “I am going to use my knowledge to honor fallen soldiers.” We must never stop studying history. Let us be known for our knowledge of our fallen heroes, not our obsession with the latest reality star. Some believe studying history is boring, but take heart! It doesn’t have to be that way! Start by reading “If you can keep it,”  written by the always entertaining Eric Metaxas, and go from there.

Secondly, if we want to honor fallen soldiers we must engage in the political process. Understanding our nation’s history naturally propels us to be more active about the present. We can esteem fallen soldiers by working to protect the freedoms for which they gave their lives. This is done by voting at the local and federal levels, supporting important legislation, and working to get the right leaders in place. Too many citizens vote for funding instead of freedom which ironically puts both freedom and funding in jeopardy.

Lastly, to honor the fallen soldier, we must fight for the right to life. When we vote to protect freedom, we have to remember that our freedoms end where the God given rights of others begin. There is no right more foundational to our country than the right to life. Everything, quite literally, begins there. Before we can debate any other right of man, we first must allow the unborn the right to live. The brave heroes of our nation fought on the front lines, left their homes and families, and gave their lives to preserve the lives of others. The least we can do is to follow in their footsteps by fighting for the lives of the innocent, defenseless, unborn babies that desperately need our protection.

Today is an important day to take some time to truly remember the sacrifice of the brave soldiers that fought for the freedoms we tend to take for granted. Let us pray for and support any families we know that have been tragically changed by the loss of a dear loved one. And let us honor them year round by studying the truth of their history, engaging in the political process for freedom, and fighting for the right to life.

Our First Year as Minimalists

IMG_1929.JPGLast year about this time I gave myself the gift of minimalism for my birthday. I joined a class offered by Joshua Becker and bought his book “The More of Less.” I wrote at length about it here. When I wrote that blog, I was only 4 months in. Looking back now, I can’t believe how much I got done in a short amount of time. But the truth is, I was desperate. I had reached my limit. So I dove into the course full steam ahead. I pulled more than one all-nighter. It was a priority, an obsession, because the freedom I began to feel as I dug my life out from under all that stuff powerfully propelled me to push even harder. I gave away things I might need. I gave away things that I loved. I gave away gifts from people I love because I had no choice. We didn’t have the room. Our house was bursting at the seems.

SPOILER ALERT: At the beginning of the course, you are asked to think about your “Why.” And mine was simple. I wanted more time with my family. I wanted to stop spending so much time with their stuff and more time with them.  I have seen many people sharing their success on the Facebook page for the course. But I have also seen many people that don’t really move forward. And while there are obviously extenuating circumstances like a death or life altering event, for the most part, I would say that the main reason it doesn’t work for some people is that they don’t make it a priority. And the reason they don’t make it a priority is because they don’t understand how amazing their life will be when they finally do it. So I wanted to share some of the ways my life is exponentially better.

  1. My kids get it. We were never big consumers because we have never had a big wallet enabling us to do so. Therefore, my kids weren’t the type to ask for toys or candy at the store. But since minimalism, the reason is so much more grand. So much more noble. When it comes to getting a new toy/outfit/game they truly understand that we just don’t need it! They inspire me and each other. “We’re minimalists,” they say and move on.  This is way better than “We don’t have the money,” because it’s actually more true. Even if we did have unlimited resources, constantly buying the latest gadget isn’t good for anyone! It breeds discontentment and overflows landfills. My youngest regularly gives back the toy at Chik-fil-a, even when he doesn’t trade it for ice cream. Mind blowing. But they are tired of picking up stuff off the floor too.
  2. Our house is typically neat instead of always a mess. And even when it looks like a disaster, because there are still seven people in a 1700 square foot house, we are typically only about 15 minutes from it looking really great. The reason for this is two fold. First, we have less stuff which obviously means less to clean and put away. But the other less obvious and even more important part is this. Since we have purged and purged and purged all year, the stuff we do have, actually has a place. It used to be that if all my clothes were clean, I couldn’t fit them in the drawers. But now we live within our parameters making cleaning that much easier for the kids.  They can put toys in the closet because the closet isn’t bursting at the seems. They can put books on the shelves, because they aren’t full. The old adage, “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is actually a thing! Who knew??
  3. We have more time to do what we want. This year, like many years before, we hosted Easter. But this year, unlike any other year in my life, we went to the beach two days before. There was almost no stress about cleaning. Even when I looked around and thought, “This place is a disaster!” we were able to straighten up in no time. Now, for perspective, my children are older. I have three girls ages 10,12, and 14, and my oldest is fantastic at straightening up, when she wants to be. I don’t have babies anymore, and that makes a huge difference. But the stuff is just gone. And I DON’T MISS IT!
  4. I have new floors!!! They were literally a gift from God. Free. I wrote about it here. And because my house had been minimized, we were able to install them without a huge hassle. I looked at my husband, and we just marveled at what a mess it would have been had this happened months before. All this time I have been praying for new flooring, maybe God was just waiting for me to get rid of all our stuff so there was room! Think about that for a minute. You think you are saving money by holding on to all the stuff you might need someday, but all that stuff has a cost. And you never know what you are missing because of it.

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I didn’t need to be more organized. I needed less stuff. That’s me. Some people are great at organizing and such. More power to you. I am not. And further more, even if I was, I would still rather be with people than at home organizing stuff. No offense introverts 😉
  2. This is not “Decluttering.” It is purging. It is uncomfortable. Some people say to ask “does this thing give you joy?” But I actually *did* get rid of things that gave me joy because I just don’t have room! Also people are constantly decluttering because they are constantly taking in stuff they don’t need or could do without. Of course you will have to get rid of stuff occasionally. But living a minimalist life means you stop taking in. It means you stop valuing stuff over people. It means you stop buying stuff just because it’s a holiday.
  3. You need real support that most people can’t give. I found some people are kind of intimidated by this whole thing. They feel judged. We all tend to do that when someone makes a big life choice that sheds a light on a possible problem in our own life. That is why the support you get in the course is invaluable.
  4. I was lying to myself. I told myself I was fine. Chaos didn’t bother me. I am laid back and fine, I rationalized. Nope. Not true. As evidenced by the way I regularly lost my cool when I couldn’t find something I lost in the piles of stuff or how I got so frustrated cleaning up before an event. It bothered me. I just ignored it.

Sometimes when I look at pictures of an old chair, or think about books I gave away, I do feel a bit sad. But when I look at my house any sadness is gone in an instant. And when I hear my kids say “We don’t need it mommy,” I feel relief. We are all So Much happier and more free.  I have struggled my whole life with keeping things neat. My mom always quoted this proverbs from the Bible: “A wise man prizes his possessions.” And now I finally can. But only because I have less.

The course is just about to start again and right now you can even use the code FF25 to get 25% off at http://my.becomingminimalist.com The deadline to sign up is April 30th.  I will be signing up again and again! After your first time through you can keep going over and over for free! If you still don’t think you need the course or the book, read here.

If you are minimizing now or have in the past, how has your life improved? What have you learned? Share in the comments and inspire! 

Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

Today is our 15th anniversary! And while it is commonly known that the traditional gift for 25 years is silver, and the gift for 50 years is gold,  it is a lesser known fact that the gift for 15 years is a blog post. So since I am a slave to convention,  here ya go babe! This one’s for you!

Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

1. A man that knows and loves Jesus and the Word of God

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2. A man that will join you in your hobbies

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3. A man that loves Chik fil a….. enough to wear cow ears

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4. A man that puts your happiness above his pride

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5. A man that understands your love for Movember and is not threatened by your pre-teen crush on Magnum P.I.

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6. A man that will drive 23 hours straight to take you to the place of your birth

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7. And drive you the very next summer across the country to California to see your college roomie

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8. A man who cares for and respects the elderly

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9. A man who loves your family

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10. A man that loves and respects his mom

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11. A man that will fly you back to NY, just to meet your fav talk show host

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12. A man that dances. Your daughters will thank you

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13. A man that regularly shows affection963860_10153121206960510_998525973_o

14. A man who can wrestle. Wrestling is really important

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15. And last, but definitely not least, a man with whom those sparks fly!13567184_10157067265085510_1930858657536733103_n

Here’s the truth. Having a list is important. But a list won’t get you to fifteen years or even fifteen months. It takes more than ideals and standards to build a thriving marriage. You need love. But not just any love. You need the greatest love. Jesus told His disciples that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. Listening to Kelly Minter recently brought new depth to that verse for me. Yes, Jesus laid down his life at the cross, she reminded us. But that wasn’t the first time He laid down His life. Every day that he stepped foot on this earth was a day that He laid down his life in heaven for us. Having a beautiful marriage requires this kind of love. Laying your life down every dang day for the person on the pillow next to you. That is the greatest love. That means laying down your right to be right. Laying down your pride. Laying down what’s fair. Laying down past pains. Laying down insecurities. Laying it all down and loving with an everlasting love that can only come from God. Without a doubt, Paul is truly more than I could have hoped for or imagined, but we have been through many ups and downs. We are broken people with hurts we are healing together.  We have had horrible fights (aka “strong fellowship”) that left me doing the ugly cry,  and we have had utopian moments when I thought my heart would burst. Yet without exception, our marriage is the strongest, happiest, and the sweetest when we are mutually seeking to serve the other through the power of our loving Creator.