family, God, My Story

Describe Your Childhood…

She looked at my husband and said, “Could you explain your childhood to me? Would you call it stable or unstable?” I knew I was next to answer this question. You see, we were in the middle of a psychological evaluation for becoming church planters. As I listened to my husband’s answer, my mind wandered to my own memories of childhood. How would I respond to this question? I knew there wasn’t a right or wrong answer, yet I felt the familiar pull towards a ‘right’ response. What was my childhood like? How would I describe it? Was my experience one of instability or was it stable?

My First Home

As an outsider looking in, my life looked quite unstable – 7 cities, 9 schools, 12 houses, all before graduating college! That’s a LOT of change. Initially we first moved because my dad changed careers and had to do some schooling out of state and then we moved to another state for the new job. This makes sense. People move for their careers all the time. I mean, we’re doing that. We are moving to a new house, a new city, even a new state because we feel like God’s asking us to take this leap and start something new. I can’t fault my parents for choosing to move us.

But then the unthinkable happened – well, the unthinkable for my young heart and mind. After some rocky circumstances, my parents divorced. It was tragic to my 10 year old heart and what was worse, it necessitated a change of living. Heading into 5th grade, I started my new life in a different house, city, and state than what I had become used to. New classmates became new friends, houses changed and stability started to settle in. I had a rhythm and was coming to terms with the changes in my life that I had no control over. I was joyful and thrilled to be making friends, attending a gymnastics school, and have a great church to attend.

Things were going well until mid-way through my second school year there and I had to move yet again. I wouldn’t know the reason for this move until I was older, but all I knew was that we were heading back once again to the place we had left. I was sad to leave my current home, but excited to be going back to a place that was connected with so many happy times in my early childhood. Perhaps I was most excited to be reunited with my dad and also with my best friend. Relationships are hard to come by and I was getting two of them back! However, one thing no one tells you when you’re 12 is that things aren’t probably going to be the same as they were a year and a half earlier. I found out that my friend had moved on and found a new best friend. I had to attend a completely different school district where I once again knew just about no one. My dad remarried by this time and so even time with him was drastically different. All the things I had known in this place were 100% different. It might as well have been moving to a brand new place. I was crushed. It was really hard to gain traction here, but I dug in my heels and worked to make those new friendships. I enrolled in dance classes and even though they weren’t my beloved gymnastics, they were a great way to use my excessive energy and have a load of fun in ballet and jazz dance. 

Later, I learned that the reason we moved back so quickly is because we didn’t know how long my dad had to live. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. This hit our family like a ton of bricks. What would this mean for Dad? What would it mean for me? Was my daddy going to die of cancer? Would he get really sick and be bald? Would he live to see my wedding? All these questions and more would lay low in the back of my mind for the remainder of his life. I didn’t know that the reason we moved was because his initial diagnosis gave him a short time left to live. Amazingly, Dad ended up living for many years more before he died from complications of cancer. Without knowing all this, we moved to be near my dad and get as much time with him as we could because we had no idea how long we’d have with him. This was a super weighty burden to carry as a pre-teen.

Not long after, things were starting to feel stable again. I had friendships with kids at school, friends with kids next door and in my church. I was singing, dancing, and playing trumpet whenever I had the chance. We had a cozy little home and I got a dog to call all my own. The new normal was just that, normal. I knew what to expect and could depend on it. Even Dad’s cancer wasn’t so scary any more and he was in a sort of ‘remission’ for the time being. Things were looking up.

Photos of me with my mom and dad.

Then the now-familiar transition was announced. We’d be moving once again. Unfortunately we had to move before our housing would be available and therefore transition in a nearby town for 1 month. During this month the school year started and I spent 2 weeks in a new school, surrounded by new friends, and a new schedule. Our transition home was sparse and just enough to get us by until we could move into our apartment. It was such a hard month. Even harder was leaving my 2-week old school for the next one.

I had barely got my schedule down when we moved to our apartment – another new house, new school, new bus, new classmates, new activities. Ever resilient (to moving) and outgoing, I quickly adjusted. This was a fun place with neat kids and I liked where we were living. We lived in a very international community, with incredibly kind neighbors. I quickly adapted and enjoyed my final year in middle school. Next stop, high school! Unfortunately, my middle school was the one that split between two high schools. I never interacted again with my friends who went to the other middle school. This was a loss for me, but I soldiered on. I stuck with the friends who transitioned along with me to our high school. 

Believe it or not, high school was a time of stability for me. Even though we moved two more times, I got to stay in one school, with the same pool of friends, and develop some of my core gifts in one place (mainly singing) for all four years. I held down a job that stuck with me into college and I attended a college that was down the street from my high school. Can we say, ‘searching for a non-changing life’? These were happy years for me and the highlight, besides choir, was my church youth group. This group of people; pastors, volunteers, and peers; remained steadfast, gracious, and encouraging while high school drama swarmed around me. I’m so thankful for the friend that invited me to her church and the youth group that embraced me, all of me, until it was time to head off to college.

Bethel University: CLC Circle

While in college, we moved once more, but I had a lot more ability to choose my own things now. I stayed at the same university for 4 years in the same major with great friends and classmates. I loved my time during these year and even met my husband. It truly felt like I came through what seemed like a very unstable childhood into a place of security and settledness. 

So, did I have a stable or unstable childhood? With so many changes and upheavals, many would answer, ‘Unstable’. And as I thought things through, I saw that too. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t the ultimate answer to this question. As I sat in my memories during our psych eval, I realized that through all the tumultuous upheavals in my life, something remained steadfast in me. Something was always there and never changing, only ever growing and deepening. This was my relationship with God. 

Indeed, it was God Himself who was the Constant. As a young child I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be the leader of my life. Through music, Bible reading, prayer, and relationships, I came to know him more and more. When we first moved to my new school, I knew that God would help me find friendly people to be around and that there’d be many new people to play with. When my family broke apart I needed God to be my Comforter. My heart was so sad for so long and He was the only one who I could truly tell my deepest sorrows and longings to. He listened and comforted me while I grieved, accepted, and healed from this new reality. When I was a child of a single parent and it was really hard to have all the things a child needs, I turned to God. It was Him who I saw as my Provider. When we needed something, we asked God and He provided it for us! Even when we didn’t know we needed things, He always came through. We saw His provision through a myriad of ways, but the ones that stuck with me the deepest were through the body of Christ. 

When I think back to times that should have thrust me into being ‘a statistic’ due to being a child of divorce, I wasn’t. When I think back to times that should have taken me out due to grief, I wasn’t. When I think back to times that should have caused me to abandon all security, safety, and stability, I didn’t. During this time, I came to know God as my constant provider, my good father, my closest friend, and the ONE I could rely on no matter what. God turned the tumultuous times of my life into a steady flow of His LOVE and GRACE. He was always gentle, friendly, and trustworthy as He guided my young heart through the challenges of childhood and into adulthood. Jesus was that FRIEND who sticks closer than a BROTHER and I found much stability in Him. It was God, not just my faith in Him, but God the person who was my STABILITY. He grounded me. So, I look back on my childhood as stable, not as unstable. My inner world was rocked, but not overturned. Because of God, I knew truth, security, safety, friendship, intimacy, love, grace, and so much more. 

Now was the moment. My turn had come to answer the interviewer. “Yeah, from the outside many would say that I had an unstable childhood, but inwardly I know that it was surprisingly STABLE. Let me tell you about it…” And that’s how I answered this very poignant question. 

…And in case you were wondering… yes, my dad did live to see my wedding and hold my first child. I’m ever so thankful for that.

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family, homeschool, My Story

Homeschooling Review

Well, it’s in the books! Week 1 of Year 2 of homeschooling is finished. Last year our family tried out homeschooling. Due to Coronavirus and all the unknowns of the public school system, we realized that it’d just be easier to homeschool and therefore have a consistent schedule that fit well with our (my husband and my) work schedules. When we realized in the Spring that we’d be relocating to a transitional town, we knew it was time to plan for the second year of homeschooling. We’ve had people ask us how we like it and what curriculum we’re using and all that sort of stuff. I got to thinking, why not write about it and have a place that gives a thorough answer! So, this is it!

,I must admit, I wanted to try homeschooling for a while. I always thought that it’d be so fun to learn along with my children, especially those things that I didn’t have much of an interest in as a kid, but do now… history and science. But, there hasn’t been an impetus to really get us to make the choice to try it, until last year. With my homeschooling sisters ‘around the corner,’ I knew I wouldn’t be alone if I needed help. So, we jumped in!

What I’ve learned (so far) is that there really is no ONE WAY to do it and what works for one person or family isn’t necessarily the best for another. BUT, it’s still so helpful to at least hear what other people are doing because it gives a good place to get started from. Also, even after you choose, it’s good to give yourself a break and make changes as needed. Flexibility does seem to be key in this endeavor.

The first question we are often asked is, “What homeschool curriculum are you using?” Well, we’re not using just one curriculum, but a combination of different books. I had my physicist-husband choose the Math and Science because he has the most understanding of what would be good in that area. I had the most input on Language Arts (Grammar, Spelling, Reading, etc) and History. Then we kind of made a hodge-podge Bible curriculum because we didn’t find one that we were really sold on. I also teach the kids piano and we call that ‘music.’ I dabbled in trying to get the kids doing Coding, Foreign Language, Etc, last year and quickly realized that I could only do so much. 🙂 But, this year, we are bringing it into the daily lessons! I’m so excited.

So, here’s a breakdown subject-by-subject of what we’ve found that works for us:

Math: Singapore Math – Dimensions. This math is intense, but apparently this is the the way my husband wished he would’ve learned math, but he had to wait until he was in Physics Class to learn it this way. So, we tried it out, adjusted it to fit our personal school week and we’re using it again this year!

Science: We’re using a group of books from Real Science 4 Kids called ‘Exploring the Building Blocks of Science.’ The textbook is colorful and covers the 5 major areas of science: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geology, and Astronomy. This is not a faith-based curriculum, but we can always weave that in. AND, since we’re using faith-based stuff for Devotions, Language Arts, and History… they’re getting plenty of Bible/Jesus teaching. We’ve enjoyed doing the experiments together and this year I’m hoping to try and squeeze in two textbooks (one each semester). We’ll see how it goes, but I can dream, can’t I? I also love that we can buy the lab kits online so that I don’t have to come up with ALL the lab equipment on my own. Definitely worth it for our busy family.

Language Arts/Grammar/Reading: We’re using the ‘Language Lessons for a Living Education’ series from MasterBooks. It has a main text book and a book of Bible stories that goes along with it. It’s been pretty good. I think it could use a few more ‘practice’ portions, but it’s really okay for this age level, probably. (I hope!) There is also verse memorization each week and occasionally poetry memorization. It also includes spelling lists for each week. Along with Grammar and Writing, the kids read 20 minuets a day on their own and learn about the various aspects of literature (plot, summary, scene, characters, etc). I’ve also added to our daily schooling this year, Read Alouds by Mom. I chose a handful of books that I’d love the kids to listen to together and I’m reading them out loud. It’s a highlight of our day and a break from seatwork!

History/Geography/Social Studies: I wanted to teach the kids American History last year and so I bought a book from MasterBooks called, ‘America’s Story’. It’s a 3-book series. It covers history, a bit of art appreciation (and that’s in the LA books above too), and cartography/geography. It’s all kind of rolled into one package. It’s been good and I’m glad we’re using it. This year, if my ambition holds, I hope to do both books 2 & 3 (one each semester). As we go through the chapters, I like to add my own flare to help the kids retell and remember the stories… like when I had them recreate the Leif Ericksson story in our backyard and show it to me as a ‘play.’ This year the kids asked if they could do a project of ‘building’ different types of housing from American history (pipe cleaner teepees, Lincoln Log log cabins/timber-framed buildings, and balloon-framed buildings with legos and blocks!)

The two older kids both use their own books for Math and LA. They share set of books for Science and History. Last year, my youngest (PreK at the time) just followed along or went off to play. She did use the ‘Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills’ by Thinking Kids (I got them as Sam’s Club) and finished the Pre-K book. Then we worked through the Kindergarten book which mostly focuses on letters (writing and sounds), math & reading readiness, color/shape/sizes and other concepts, etc. We use the ‘Leveled Readers’ from the Library. I discovered these were the same ones used in the Kindergarten classrooms! It went pretty well and I reminded myself that Pre-K is as much about play as it is about learning. So… she got a lot more break time than the older ones. 

Kindergarten: However, this year my youngest is officially starting Kindergarten. I wasn’t too excited about following along with the same curriculum as the older kids since Kindergarten learning is so different from older grade school learning. I decided to try my hand at the Kindergarten abeka curriculum. I used abeka when I attended private school 1st-4th grade. I remember really loving it, especially the emphasis on phonics. I wanted to give it a go this year and so far, it’s going well… but it’s only been one week. So, we’ll just keep on trying it out and remaining flexible as needed.

There are so many good computer programs to use too (and can be an incentive if the kids need it). We’ve used Khan Academy to supplement math and we are also using it for Coding. There’s a plethora of other subjects on there too. The kids are trying out DuoLingo for foreign language, and I’m learning along with them! It’s been going well so far. We signed up for Typing Club also so that the kids can learn their way around a computer keyboard. It starts off so simply that even my kindergartener can do it. Amazing! For piano, I use the Piano Adventures Series. It’s super simple and there’s even tons of videos on YouTube that can be used to aid in the learning. 

We do ‘PE’ and ‘Field Trips’ and other sorts of things just about any time I can think of calling out the learning. It’s great to see how much of what we already do is actually very educational or active. We use GoNoodle when the kids need some indoor PE time and we go on walks/bike rides when it’s nice outside. We haven’t shied away from being with family and close friends so the kids have often been with other children of varying ages and getting plenty of ‘socialization.’ 🙂 

Bible: Last year, we used the Mr. Phil Show and What’s in the Bible episodes for some Bible teaching and I read to them from the Bible and prayed with them. Sometimes we did worship songs together and other times we just turned on a ‘Books of the Bible’ YouTube song or something like that and all have a lot of fun learning together. This year we are working through two 100-day devotionals about science and God by Louie Giglio. So far so good!

The great thing about homeschooling in Illinois is that it’s one of the most ‘free’ places to do it! There are so few regulations that it really can be up to the parent to choose what works best and assess their kids on their own. So far, I’m loving it. I am excited to homeschool again this year and I hope it’ll be even better than last year! Please feel free to ask me any type of question about my experience with home school and I’ll be sure and get back to you.

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Adoption, family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Life Update July 2021…What’s been going on?

Wow, well… it’s been a while. A LOT  has happened since my last post. So much so, that I just had to put writing on hold for a while. Even now, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to get back to the consistent schedule I had before, but I do value having this space to write and share my life and thoughts. So, here’s the update!

After my February post about our adoption needs, we were so blessed to receive a large financial donation to help us get much closer to being fully funded for the adoption! Praise the Lord and thank you to the donor! We have heard very little about any matches since that time and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Of course, I DO WANT to move forward with this adoption journey, but as I look back over the past months, I can see how having a baby in the mix would have made something complicated even more complex! But, my dream of another baby or sibling set is still alive and well. Now that things are in the next stage (which I’ll write more about below), I find my thoughts drifting more towards adoption again. I find my readiness being reawakened. Maybe this is a good time, maybe it’s not, and maybe it doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s a ‘good-time’ as long as it’s a ‘God-time.’ So, we keep waiting. That’s the adoption update.

Well, let’s talk about the rest of what’s been going on. In short, we’ve moved to a new city. Yup… you read that right! About seven months ago, I shared how God was telling us that a job change was coming. We started to separate our focus from our previous employment to what God had already birthed and grew in Putty’s area of influence. But we didn’t know that another big shift was coming our way. As we worked through the process of where to place our focus and how all the complex details of that would work out, something just wasn’t right within us. It became clear that God was asking us to move out of the hometown we’d known since we graduated with our undergraduate degrees and look towards a new future. 

The trouble was that we still didn’t know WHAT exactly that future would be! We knew we had to keep taking the next step though. So, we notified the people who needed to know about this change in course and we started looking for the next landing place. Since we weren’t feeling called to any particular location, we decided to choose based on a few criteria, with two big ones standing out: 1) A good HUB airport for Putty to use for easier travel and 2) an area where we have a lot of ministry connections already. One place stood out above the rest and was still relatively close to our family… Chicago! So, we began making plans to move there. But we had no idea where to go in the sprawling metropolis. We weren’t sure what kind of housing we could afford, nor did we know where we’d eventually end up attending church. All we knew was that we were heading out to follow the Lord and this was the next step.

As we connected with a realtor who could help us find some rental housing, the reality of what we were about to do set in. She sent us many MLS pages of homes that were available for rent, but all of them made my heart hurt to even consider living in them. It was so rough. I didn’t like getting these emails and I just wasn’t connecting with any of the homes presented to us. I was keeping up a good front though. It’s easiest to do that when you just don’t acknowledge it. And that’s essentially what I did. I ignored the ‘finding future housing’ task and instead threw myself into preparing our home for sale and moving. However, I did have this fleeting thought at one point and I vocalized it to Putty. I said, “You know, I don’t care what house we live in next. I’d really like it if we could just be offered a place to live or at least take one for very cheap. I mean, maybe someone we know has a vacant house or even missionary housing! I just don’t want to go through the process of choosing a place when we probably won’t even be there long.’ 

Little did I know that this statement was actually a hearts-desire because the act of choosing was very hard for me. I chose the home we were living in at that time and we worked hard to make it a wonderful place for us to live and host people. We LOVED it. So, nothing could compare to what we were leaving. What criteria could I use to choose the next house except for letting it be God’s choice for us. With that said, I returned to my packing, donating, and cleaning up our current place. Whatever was next, we were going to leave this house in nice shape for the next owners and we weren’t going to bring along a lot of unnecessary stuff to our next resting spot. 

The time was drawing closer to when we’d be putting our house on the market. With one week to go, we still didn’t know exactly what next home we were heading towards. But, God was about to surprise us once again with his goodness, providence, and confirmation. It was the day our congregation was being notified of this new change to the status quo. With little more information to give them other than that we were following God to Chicago with no idea of what was coming next, we left a lot of questions unanswered (perhaps more of our own than anyone else’s). That was the day though, when God was giving us the next piece to our puzzle! 

Putty received a phone call from a friend in the Chicago area with a job proposition! It seems he needed to hire a new pastor, but wasn’t ready or able to make a permanent decision yet. He asked Putty if he’d be willing to take on an interim pastor position while we were in transition. We couldn’t believe it, but God was allowing us to live off of a salary during this transitional period, instead of the proceeds from the sale of our house! Not only that, but this church has a parsonage and we could live there as part of our compensation. And to ice the cake, it’s in a beautiful area and we already had a childhood friend who attended there too! We were blown away at this offer and although right away we were pretty sure that we’d accept the job, we did take some time to pray and discuss it before giving our final answer.

I admit it, I broke down in tears. I was so overwhelmed with how God was caring for our needs. Not only by helping us to stay afloat financially, but He heard my desire to have a house that I didn’t have to choose! He provided housing for me and my family. He provided a church for us to connect with while up here in Chicago. And, he provided existing friendships so we didn’t have to start from scratch. God is so good. He is so kind. He is thoughtful. He is steady and true. (You can read Putty’s perspective on our life update on his most recent blog post)

I’m so thankful we followed Him on this journey. Since my last blog, He has provided us with adoption money, gifts towards our next ministry, housing, a new job/salary, rekindled friendships, and stability. It’s these times that I will look at again and again and remember that God is good. If I doubt that we’re on the right trajectory as we transition, I look to His obvious provision and I see that He is leading us and making a way. We still are searching out the next things. We are following rabbit trails and seeking the LORD. Even though I don’t have an answer for my next stage in life… even though I can’t make a plan (which I LOVE to do!)… I know that my steps are directed by the Lord.

Thank You Note: Thank you to all of you who have generously given towards our adoption, our ministry, and our family. Thank you for believing in God’s calling on our lives and this next journey he has us on. We truly are so grateful for your support and enthusiasm as we step into our next season in ministry together!

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Adoption, family, My Story

Adoption Update February 2021: Approved Again

In short, it feels like nothing has changed. Our first year of being adoption approved has come… and gone. We have completed an annual update for adoption approval with our agency and my heart was so sad. I really wanted to be the anomaly that got matched with a birth family almost immediately and really just knocked this thing out in a year!

The First Year

In the back of my mind, I wasn’t so sure that it would happen. But then we got a call this past spring about a baby already born and needing a home! I began composing my social media announcement posts in my mind and envisioned the generous rejoicing that so many would do along with us. But… that wasn’t to be.

Even with the second potential match I had hopes that maybe this would be it. The baby would be born before our year expired and that still seemed like hitting some sort of ‘one-year goal.’ But, no. The match just didn’t feel like it was for us and we removed ourselves from the birth family choices. I came to find out that those birth parents decided to parent after all. I suppose that was God’s grace and direction for us in that moment. God knew that we didn’t need to get our hopes up and then start the process all over.

Beginning Year Two…

So, here we are, more than a year since our first adoption approval and over two years since we first sat down with the agency and explored our adoption options with them. I didn’t know… I didn’t know how long this process really would take. I didn’t know all the ins and outs of domestic adoption on the matching side alone. I know more now, but I still will learn so much after the match and throughout to adoption finalization.

When I think of what’s ahead in this process, I feel tired. I feel unmotivated. I feel a bit disappointed. Perhaps that’s because I’m not waiting only on this one thing, but it feels like all the big decisions in life are on hold right now. And that’s not even to mention that the entire world is in a ‘wait’ to open up again due to this pandemic.

But, I hope things are changing. I hope the waiting period is quickening, like the term used when a pregnant mother feels the first flutterings of movement from the baby inside of her. My kids are asking me regularly now, “Mom, when are we going to get our new baby?” They have so much desire for a new sibling. I keep asking God, “When? How long?” I feel like the answer from God is changing from ‘Wait’ to ‘Soon.’ Oh, I hope I’m hearing him correctly!

Even in the natural, I’ve been starting to nest a bit more in my home – another thing pregnant women do as they get closer to delivery. I felt a strong desire to change my kids rooms around and get things set up for a baby. I haven’t done that in the past year at all. I just figured that we’d set up the space once we had a match/baby. But now I just want to have it set up and ready. So, we have made changes and the crib is waiting in the room (unassembled at this point) for our next addition. I still have the changing table and nursery items ready to welcome that sweet child. And as I write this, I’m in my rocking chair that I’ve used with all my children The nostalgia is real!

On the outside, I’ve had a growing number of people asking how our adoption is going. I wish I had some exciting news to share! But, all I can say is, “We’re still waiting, and we’re now approved for another year! We completed our annual home study update.” People are happy to wait with us, wonder with us, and ask after us. That asking is actually really precious to me. I know that I’m not the only one waiting. I’m not forgotten as I wait, but others are hopeful along with me. Others are actually somewhat invested in this process too. And so… this blog is my answer to that question. It’s hard to answer thoroughly in a quick conversation, but I hope you’ll enjoy a bit more of the fully-rounded answer that this space provides.

How You Can Help…

If you feel like you’d like to do something with/for us while we wait, we’d LOVE to have you partner with us. We continue to need prayer. Prayer for the birth triad (birth mother/family, baby, adoptive parents). Prayer for our hope and anticipation to remain intact and that we don’t become resentful or despondent that the process isn’t done yet. Prayer that all the finances will come when they are needed. We estimate this will cost between $15-$20K.

I also need people asking me about the adoption, whether anything has changed or not. That real life touching base reminds me that I’m not alone in the process and it helps me to keep my mind on the great changes that will come. I really am looking forward to and feel so ready to have our baby with us! I’m itching to get started on parenting my adopted baby and talking about it with others helps to keep that feeling alive during the waiting.

Lastly, we need help with the finances. We’ve received about $3,500 so far. We are incredibly thankful to those who have donated already. The money has been used for adoption related expenses, like getting our home study approved and then updated, as well as the many health and documentation expenses that come along with just getting the approval process finished. If you’d like to give now, send me a quick message or comment and I’ll get you information on how to donate.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’d like to submit our profile with a lawyer who gets referrals from crisis pregnancy centers. These are the women that I’d really like to help (by being an adoptive parent choice) as they walk through the difficult decision of whether to parent, make an adoption plan, or abort their baby. There is a retainer fee for this lawyer and we’re just shy of having enough in our account to pay that. So, finances are still needed, even in the waiting, but much more so once we have the baby matched and place. That’s when the placement fee (the biggest of the expenses) occurs and then we’ll have the lawyer fees to finalize the adoption (perhaps the next biggest expense or at least in the top 3-5) as well.

I do not want to forget to say how very thankful I am to all of you for walking along with me and my family in this adoption journey. It’s had unexpected twists and turns, but I know that I’m not alone and I know that God has placed this dream and call in my life. Whatever comes of all this, I’m so thankful to be strengthened by God and surrounded by friends and family. Thank you all and I’ll keep you updated!

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Adoption, family, My Story

Adoption and Job Update December 2020

A year! I can’t believe it’s been a year since we were first approved to adopt. It’s gone by so fast, but when I look back I see how much has happened. In the past year we’ve had two meetings with potential birth parents and been presented with a few other far-off matches. Sadly, none of these potential matches came to be. We did have one baby in our home for a few days, but acted more as Cradle Care for a deciding birth mother than actual prospective adoptive parents. 

When our agency case worker reached out to us about updating/renewing our home study for another year I was a bit sad. I had so hoped that we would have a quick match and be on our way to an adoption court hearing by this time. Of course, I assume that most people who go down this road hope for a quick match with a baby in their home to love and cherish. Even knowing that adoption usually takes multiple years, I still wanted to be the anomaly that got matched super quick! I thought that would happen in June, then I wondered if it’d happen in August – both months when we had legitimate birth parent meetings. But alas, there were not the children for our family. 

So, we find ourselves going through the steps to become home study approved again. So far we’ve had to do our physicals again, we’ve filled out our criminal background checks and had them notarized, we’ve be re-fingerprinted, and updated our financial summary. This last one was a bit of an eye-opener for me. It really made me see the reality of all the financial changes that occurred in our life this past year with both my work and my husband’s.

Not only did the COVID pandemic affect my work, causing me to quickly learn how to teach voice lessons online, but it also caused multiple speaking engagements for my husband to be canceled. With the slow down of life, we enjoyed a lot of time together as a family and even made some great headway on home projects. But even with what already seemed like a lot of change, God had something else in mind.

God began speaking to my husband, Putty, about a possible job change. The trouble was that we didn’t know what that change would be. We just felt like a shift was coming. After a lot of prayer and contemplation, as well as reaching out to some trusted individuals outside of his workplace, we knew we had to take the next step in regards to his work, even if we didn’t understand all the details. At the end of May we decided to talk with his employers, who are our friends and partners in ministry, about what we were feeling God was asking us to do next. The same day Putty had this conversation with his employers was the same day we had the first baby in our home

It seemed so strange that we would have these two big life changes begin their respective journeys on the same day! What was God doing? So much was unknown and we couldn’t, in our own minds, work out what was going on. But, we trusted God and we said, ‘Yes’ to both the next step in his job and our family. 

Over the next few months we took an even greater amount of time to pray and think about the next steps in our lives. Sadly, the adoption journey didn’t continue with this first baby because that child went back to stay with the birth mother (a wonderful decision!). It wasn’t stability in Putty’s job either because at this point we didn’t know if God was calling us to stay or go! We had so many things we were weighing very seriously and we’re so grateful for our work family that gave us time, conversation and additional prayer to work through what we felt was next.

In August we had a meeting with the executive team at Putty’s workplace to share what we felt like the Lord was calling us to next, but again, we didn’t have a lot of details. They would also be sharing with us their thoughts on the matter. We were thankful to have a team with us to support us as we continued to listen carefully in this important life decision. We still didn’t know what God was telling us to do exactly, but we knew for sure that God was saying it was time for Putty to have a change in his current workplace employment and be ready for the next step. We didn’t know if that meant staying in our current home town or moving away. 

During this same week, the one with the very important work conversation, we had a meeting schedule with a set of birth parents! Was this really happening again? Was our big work decision lining up with a big family decision again? Apparently things come in pairs! Haha. Anyway, we met with the parents and knew they wanted to have contact with the baby as it grew – as many birth parents do now. The problem is that we had no idea where we were going to be in the future! As wonderful as these parents were, we didn’t feel a strong go-ahead to match with them and so we bowed out of that match and continued to wait.

When I say that waiting marked our COVID season, I’m not kidding. We waited for a baby match. We waited for job clarity. We waited for our society to open back up. We waited and waited on everything it seemed. God was growing peace in the waiting for us.

Eventually, Putty’s job situation got some clarity. God opened up a new work idea that we hadn’t considered at first. It was through the act of teaming with his workplace, friends and family outside of work, and other advisors that a really neat and workable next step came to be! Putty would shift his primary focus to starting something new, focused on developing the ministries and ideas that God has asked him to spearhead. He is still involved with our church of course, preaching and ministering, but his leadership responsibilities have shifted from the local church to this new adventure. The change officially took place in October.

During that same month we began taking the steps to update our adoption home study so we could be approved to adopt for the following year. Now at the beginning of December we have completed everything except the last home visit. That had to be postponed due to us being exposed to COVID. Next week we have a home visit and we fully expect things to move along smoothly. I am excited to have this update completed and begin the next leg of the journey!

Photo by Samson Katt on

So, our next steps in our adoption process are to wait once more. We continue to share about our journey and our desire to adopt because we value the prayers and support from everyone. We also ask that you keep us in mind if you hear about a birth mother (in any state) who is looking to make an adoption plan. My greatest desire is that through this process we can really help a mother and child who needs this option. God has placed this adoption on my heart since I was a child. The process is different than I realized it would be, but it’s a good one. God is growing me exponentially and I know that will continue even after we finalize adoption. 

Please continue to pray with us that God will bring our adoption match to us and that we can be a blessing to a baby and birth mother in all this. We pray that we will continue to listen carefully for God’s leading and be well-directed by Him. For now I dream, but one day my dream will be reality. I am so thankful, hopeful, and excited. I pray that God identifies the dreams in your hearts too and that He brings them to reality in your life.

Bible, family, My Story


Educational Sabbatical & Homeschooling…

Well, we did it. After much thought and consideration, we decided to take an ‘Educational Sabbatical’ this year in our children’s schooling. All this means is that we pulled them out of school for this year and are… homeschooling!

Yup, it’s a pandemic trend that many are doing and there are so many individual reasons for each family who’s doing this. We ultimately chose to homeschool for the consistency of our schedule. Even up to and past the school registration date, our district still didn’t have a solidified plan for what we could expect for our students. Since I am a person who thrives on a schedule, we decided to make our own schedule this year. As much as I have appreciated what the school district has given to our children over the past years, I didn’t want to be at their will when it came to whether my kids would be attending in-person, virtually, or a mix of both and then, even more-so, to have those plans changed as the system continued to learn all that it means to school while in a pandemic.

A friend of mine said very clearly to me, “You know, you’re lucky to have the option to make this choice.” To which I replied, “Yes! That is not lost on me. I realize that not everyone can make this choice, and I’m very thankful that I can.” As I continued to converse with him, I found myself hoping that an outcome of keeping my kids out of the public schools this year might mean an opportunity for other kids to be in school – if they ended up meeting in-person. I hoped that the burden on the school system would be that much lighter because they’d have a few less children to have to think of what to do with during the pandemic – like one less desk per class to move 6 feet apart. I hope it ends up being helpful for all parties involved.

How it Looks so Far…

So, how’s it going so far you might ask? How am I doing at being a new homeschool parent? How in the world am I fitting this into my already full schedule of working 2 part-time jobs, taking care of the house, and attending to my own self-care? Well, I’m still working all that out! Honestly, it’s been 2 weeks and neither of those two weeks have been the same yet. We are still waiting on some of our curriculum to arrive which means we’re doubling up on some subjects while not even looking at other ones. We’re making use of every situation to be a learning opportunity, right down to a recent doctor’s visit!


It can be challenging for a scheduler like me NOT to have the same expectations day after day and week after week. It can be challenging to teach three different lessons all at once with constant requests for more help. It can be challenging when I worry that I’m not getting enough ‘school learning’ into them. It can be challenging to actually fit in all the education that I want to because I just love learning and teaching! It can be challenging when I face bad attitudes – both my children’s and my own. 


But amidst those challenges are many opportunities. I’ve had the opportunity to wrap Biblical history into non-Biblical history – to which my child happily exclaimed, “We get to learn Bible history along with our regular history?!?” I’ve had the opportunity to create a field trip out of getting my son’s cast removed at the Orthopedists office. We read books on bones and saw how X-rays are done and how to read them. We asked our PA why he chose to do this job. I even had a kind woman say to me in the waiting room, “Way to go for taking the opportunity to teach your children through this visit.” She saw (and probably heard) me reading a book about bones to the kids while we waited for our appointment.

‘Field Trip’ to the Orthopedist’s office to learn about bones.

I’ve had the opportunity (and now time) to weave cooking lessons and cleaning lessons into our daily lives. These were things that I didn’t feel like I had the time to do before, but now there’s time and space to teach these life skills. I’ve had the opportunity to invite our parents into the learning process. My mom taught sewing to one child and my mother-in-law taught the kids about different ways we learn while challenging them to try new things at a Horse Ranch!

Perhaps the best thing is that I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about my kids. In just two weeks I’ve learned about what they like to read, how they read, and what I can do to increase that interest in them. I’ve learned how to tell when they need a break and trust that they’ll come back to learning after they take some quick time away or get a snack to re-energize them. I’ve loved seeing my oldest child help her younger sister when I’m working with the middle one. So far, I’ve seen more independence come out in my children and I feel way more empowered to really make sure each of my children are grasping the concepts we’re putting before them.

The Honeymoon Stage…

I know, I know… some might say this is just the experience of the ‘honeymoon’ stage of homeschooling. And, maybe it is. But the benefits I’m experiencing so far are so good that I’m super hopeful they’ll propel me to continue on and persevere through even the hard times this year. 

Also, I love having control of my daily schedule and even though I don’t have as much time to myself, when I do take time for myself, I feel less guilty. After all, I spend a lot more time with the kids and they know and understand that. In fact, when school is done, the kids actively choose to be away from me. They are so excited to play together and run around outside or build their newest creations. It’s great! So, I’m learning the rhythm of our days and what times are open for me to take a few moments to myself or grab a walk (when my husband’s at home) or read a book with the sun shining on my face (or wrapped up in a blanket as the cool weather approaches). I think I’ll be okay with self-care, but it’ll just take some time to find that new rhythm. I’ll give myself some leeway on all this.

Working and Homeschooling…

One thing that has been a surprise is working and homeschooling at the same time. My work schedule actually gives me enough structure to my week that even when our school schedule has a last minute change (like a ‘field trip’ opportunity arises), I’m not thrown off balance too much. My schedule is not wide-open. (Although, let’s be real. No homeschool family’s schedule is actually that open. It’s mostly a perception from those of us who don’t homeschool. I’m guilty of this one.) The schedule is made up of blocks of work, school, and free time. This gives just enough structure and just enough flexibility to actually create balance! Here I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to have a balance in my schedule, but I think I might have more of one now. That was and still is a surprise. 

Gauging Capacity and Interest…

So, all in all. I’m feeling positive about homeschool. I felt positive about public and private education too. For any person making a decision about schooling, I think the important thing is to assess what your capacity is at any given time and also your interest. This year, I have the capacity to homeschool and take the necessary time to plan for it along with the usual other parts of my schedule. This year, I’m very interested in learning along with my kids and getting supplemental books from the library to encourage further understanding. It’s been great so far and I’m looking forward with hope and expectation for the remainder of this year. And you know? Next summer I’ll reassess and decide if I’ll be sending them back to the public schools or continue on with homeschool – because next year will be a different year from this year. 

family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Partnering with God

Remember Last Fall When…

Last Fall I shared a reminiscent story of how God cares about little children’s desires. The blog post was about the time our neighbor found a lost Siamese kitten and they said we could have it. I was so excited because I had wanted one really badly and my mom had even prayed that we’d somehow get one and then we did! Well, a few weeks after publishing that blog post, two Siamese kittens came up as available for adoption at our local humane society. I wouldn’t usually know about new kitten arrivals, but because my mom was volunteering at the time, and just happened to be doing a different volunteer task that day, she noticed them. She let me know about these kitties immediately and many things came into alignment which allowed my family to adopt them! I felt like God was confirming again that He loves me just as much as an adult as He did when I was a child. It was so uplifting to my heart.

Well, it’s happened again! I wanted to take the time to share about it with you and I think the larger lesson that comes from this is…When we’re obedient to do the things God asks us to do, His subsequent gifts bring us more joy and gratitude because of our partnership and obedience.

And Now This Spring…

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post on the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity. Through my research on this topic, I discovered more about my family’s history and heritage of simplicity and how it also has been working out in my own adult life. Then I got to share some of my thoughts on this subject during a Facebook Q&A through our church. It was a lot of fun and I was reminded yet again about how much I love to share the things that God is teaching me with other people!

Two Extra Large Totes Full of Clothes!

This all came back to mind recently when my neighbors dropped off two HUGE bins of girls’ clothing for my daughters and some of my nieces in our neighborhood. You see, re-using material goods is one of the outward actions of living simply. To me, I can be a wise steward of my money when I buy clothing second-hand. So many clothes can be worn over and over again and still have plenty of life in them. So, I love to find great deals on used clothes for my kids and the kids don’t really know the difference between brand-new, thrift-store-bought, or hand-me down clothes. They’re excited about them no matter what – because it’s still new to them!

This came about because, while working in my front yard a few weeks ago, these neighbors walked by and I stopped them to ask them if they’d be willing to allow me to buy their daughter’s clothes since there wouldn’t be garage sales this year due to the stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines. I knew from past years that they have great clothes and they’re just the right size for my daughter! So, I suggested that either I could pay a lump sum for the clothes, or I could go through the items and choose what I’d like to buy and pay them separately for each one. I also mentioned that I’m not the only who has benefited from their garage sales in the past, but that my sister and two of her girls have as well! 

One week ago these neighbors came to my door with two large totes FULL of girls’ clothes, shoes, and accessories. In addition to the excitement of having so many new items to look through, I was doubly excited when they told me that we could ‘just have’ all the clothes at no cost!!! I was floored. I mean, it’s not like we have a close relationship with these people outside of the usual pleasant conversations and friendly waving that happens from time to time. But, they chose to gift us with enough clothes to last for years! This gift basically clothed three girls for this summer and into the winter. The clothes will be passed down to girl after girl until either they’re not wearable any longer or we run out of girls! I am overwhelmed with joy by this gift and so thankful.

The Lesson I’ve Learned and Keep Learning…

God’s faithfulness is nothing to dismiss. He is faithful every time. He loves to give gifts to His children – of all ages. He will give to us regardless of our actions, but there is something so precious when we cooperate with Him and see a reward too! In this case, it was writing and talking on my experience of Simplicity. Then God brought a gift from others to us in the realm of this topic and we are blessed to continue to live out this spiritual discipline.

Over this past year, God has asked me to share my experiences, to be open with my ideas, and to transparently be available to those around me. It’s not always easy to ‘go out on a limb’ in the social media space and so when He confirms our partnership in ways I’m not expecting (Siamese kittens and donated kids’ clothes) I’m filled with the warmth of His love and overflowing with gratitude to My Father who never leaves me and always provides for me.

Writing this post leads me to wonder, “How can this story help others?” I enjoy sharing the story, but what is the bigger value for those reading/hearing it? Well, I want others to be filled with hope that God is a faithful Father. I want people (my blog friends for instance) to think about times that God has asked us to partner with Him and what was the outcome? Was it encouraging? Was there fruit from your actions, or in some cases, inaction? Do you feel more inspired to jump into the partnership that God is asking you to join?

Oh, I hope you do! It’s so totally worth it, always. It might not always be easy or pretty. You might not even see the ‘happy results’ immediately or even soon after, but I know that God is always working good from our obedience and He will reveal all that in the perfect time. So, I say… Go in peace and confidence that the God who calls us also takes care of us.

family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Isolation and Over Self-Focus

I was washing dishes the other day, reflecting on conversations I had had that day, assessing what I was feeling and thinking, and thinking ahead about supper. Then a thought came into my mind that made me stop, consider, and immediately write it down.

It’s hard to NOT focus just on myself and my needs when the only person I’m interacting with daily is myself.

Whoa, this thought felt like it had something more to it if I’d take the time to really think more deeply on it. I had to put it aside for the most part then because I needed to make supper, but I’d like to take that journey now.

When it all Started…

It all started with Coronavirus. We heard about other countries being quarantined, and new countries being infected daily. Then we got the first stay-at-home order. I think it was for something like 2 weeks. Okay, well anyone can do two weeks, right? Then it got extended for another month. Now, from my own experience I was all right with that because we hadn’t lost our jobs and I very happy for a break from the go-go-go that comes in Spring! My husband and I even said to each other, “We could do this another month!” It’s been such a good chance to recover, stop and slow down. And of course, we say this fully knowing that there are many reasons this wouldn’t be good, but I’m just going to stick with speaking from our experience (otherwise this post would be VERY long). 

Well, it happened. We got the news at the end of April that our state would be implementing another month of stay-at-home orders AND we’d need to begin wearing face masks whenever we went out in public.

By this point I felt a little less excited by this process, but let’s look at the good things! I don’t have to do the morning rush of getting the kids out to school and all the emotional stress that sometimes brings. I don’t have to parent alone as frequently and we eat almost all meals together! These are great things for our family! But, the ache of missing my loved ones was creeping in more and more. I missed hugging my Mom. I missed having my kids being able to freely visit their grandparents and friends. I missed going to the store without an underlying feeling of anxiousness. And then there were the things I didn’t even know I was missing.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see now, some of the loneliness and dissatisfaction that was creeping in. Even though I didn’t miss getting my youngest out the door to be babysat, I missed the interaction I regularly had with those babysitters during drop off and pick up. Even though I didn’t miss the fast and sometimes hectic Sunday mornings of getting ready for church, I missed the easy ‘Hi there, Hello’ and quick hand wave that came with seeing so many people each week who I knew, not to mention the hugs of some of my favorite people! As we creeped into Spring and this extended time of isolation, I missed the freedom to plan my day – going to the library to get new books, planning BBQs with friends and family, and choosing ANY restaurant to eat at without needing to think too much about it.

Isolation Continues….

So, when the next month of the stay-at-home order started I began to get irritated. I was short tempered with my family, I felt empty and therefore unmotivated to do anything, and I couldn’t put my finger on how to make it better. That’s when my husband said to me, “Sweetie, I can’t help but notice, but I think you’re feeling a bit restless. Why don’t you go out and get a coffee and call up your sister and see if she’ll go with you. You can go for a walk together.” 

Missing our Church Family

I texted my sister and she was able to join me too! It was GREAT! We got our coffee and I talked, and cried about life, about how I was feeling and all that. Then we drove to one place that we both missed so much – the church parking lot! We are both keenly missing our church family. We sat and talked and talked and TALKED for so long. I shared my problems, she shared her problems and we were able to encourage each other just by listening to one another – in person. 

(Now, before I go any further I want to make a disclaimer and request. Please do not send me comments shaming me for breaking social distancing rules this one time. I have not made a habit of doing this and we are being thoughtful in following social distancing and hand washing directives as a family. Thank you.)

When I came home that afternoon, I was smiling, my mind felt more focused, and I wasn’t restless anymore. I had the energy and motivation to get moving with the tasks in my life and interact more kindly with my family. (Again, I am not publicly suggesting that we all go and break social distancing. This is not a political post, a shaming post, or a taking-a-stance post. I’m just sharing about one point in my life during all this craziness.)

The Realization…

That’s the night when I had the thought mentioned earlier, “It’s hard to NOT focus just on myself and my needs when the only person I’m interacting with daily is myself.” You see, I didn’t realize that I started to over self-focus until I had spent time with my sister and listened to her struggles. When I was stuck at home, not interacting face-to-face with people, my thoughts focused on myself and my family. What do I/we need? What are our problems? What can I do to make these needs and bad feelings go aways? Am I the only one feeling this way? And of course, if I’m feeling this way, then everyone else must be too. 

It was good to get some confirmation that I wasn’t the only one feeling some of the ways I was feeling, but even better than that was hearing about the struggles and needs of another person and family. It helped to broaden my current perspective because not only was I hearing about her needs and problems, but I was also SEEING her face and HEARING her emotion close-up. This totally helped me get outside of myself. In getting outside of myself and my problems, my heart opened to the needs of others in a new and different way and my ever-so-important self-needs started to seem not so intense. Others’ needs weren’t ‘out there’ anymore, but were right in front of me!

I feel like this idea applies to all of life, not just this COVID-time. There are plenty of times when I find myself getting down and in those times, I might even choose isolation instead of reaching out to people. Yes, sometimes I need time alone to refocus and recharge, but a lot of times I need time with people, with the human race. Sometimes I need time alone first, but I have to remember the second part which is to reengage. It’s so important to be reminded that my needs aren’t the only reality in the world today. When it’s my personal reality it can be hard to imagine a different reality. But when I take the time to listen to other people and their personal realities, my own heart can be changed. It is shifted from a place of self-focus to a place of others-focus. That shift gives me the balance I need to live out JOY (Jesus, Others, Myself).

family, God, My Story

Living Simply: The Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity

What is it?…

So, I’ve been thinking about the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity lately. Our church is doing a series on some Nurturing a Secret Place with God through Spiritual Disciplines right now and I’ve been asked to join a ‘Facebook Live Q&A’ about them, specifically for the simplicity portion. When I was asked, I literally thought to myself, ‘Simplicity is a Spiritual Discipline? What is it and why would I be the one asked?’ Haha. So, I’ve been spending time researching simplicity, assessing how it shows outwardly in my life and how it actually is inwardly. I’ve also reached out to my mom and sister to discuss simplicity in my family of origin and I’ve got to say… I’ve learned a lot.

As I’ve come to understand it, Simplicity is about having a single purpose and living from that purpose so that everything else is secondary to that purpose.  Mainly this would be something like serving God, obeying God, or seeking after God and God alone. Often this inward purpose ends up pushing the need to have status or possessions aside in order to follow after God as the first priority. 

So, simplicity might look like seeing a person who makes a purchase only after making careful consideration of how useful that item actually would be in their life. You might see someone giving things away because those practicing simplicity learn to hold material possessions very loosely. You might even notice that a person would prefer to borrow and rent things instead of buying them (think of all those library patrons) or enjoy public parks and other public places rather than going to a private, admission-only place. Also, people practicing simplicity learn to spend only the money that they have in order to live without debt. This allows the person to be easily moved whenever God leads them. They are not held back by debt, but can give generously and even physically move at the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Some of our favorite public places: Champaign Public Library, Museum of the Grand Prairie, and Local Garage/Fundraising Sales

Outward and Inward Simplicity…

These are just a few of the things I learned as I delved into my research on the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity. Reading these things, I had to agree that yes, I could see why I might be asked to share on this subject. If I’m feeling especially critical of myself, I’d see the negatives and say it’s because I don’t keep up with the latest trends or fashions, my house and yard are yet to be fully decorated and landscaped, and I have a hard time spending money on extravagances. This right there would cause someone to outwardly think I’m living pretty simply.

But what about the spiritual side of it? What was happening inwardly? I mean, what I mentioned above was a negative outward view of myself and of simplicity. What is the inward reality of a person choosing to practice simplicity? As I looked around on various blogs and in books, I came to discover that simplicity seems to be largely geared towards living from a single purpose, and in the Christian’s sense, to be so focused on God and His purpose through you so much that nothing else really matters. I gotta admit, that didn’t seem like me. That seemed like my sister, or my husband, or anyone else, except me. Yes, I love God. Yes, I obey Him and live my life in a way that I hope pleases Him. But, I don’t feel very ‘focused’ on a single purpose, when I think about the scattered mess of a brain I’ve been known to have.

Looking Back…

So, dig a bit more, I did! Again, I wasn’t feeling very much like I had a lot to say on this subject, but I wasn’t going to throw in the towel just yet. I looked back into my past, my childhood, but this time with a more positive view. Yes, it’s true that I didn’t have a lot of things growing up. Our life was very simple. We often went to garage sales and second-hand shops for our clothes, shopped for generic brand food instead of name brand, and used up everything we owned, making sure it was well spent. 

I always assumed this was because we didn’t have the money for the ‘latest and greatest’ things that other families had. It is true that when my parents separated we were on food stamps for a while and my mother received Welfare to care for us. This didn’t last forever, but it was a very memorable time in my child-life. Then, when my mom did get a job, we didn’t qualify for government assistance anymore and so I learned what it was like to live on the income of a single mother (+ child support). It wasn’t easy to go without so many things that I saw my friends have, but I will concede that I had my family and a few good friends to more than make up for what I didn’t own.

Missionary Family…

With this in my memory, I called Mom to confirm these things. Yes, all this was true, but then she revealed something I didn’t know. Something that I only experienced for the first eight years of my childhood and half of that was pre-memory age! She told me that after her and Dad had been missionaries overseas for a decade and had seen how so much of the world lives, they made a conscious decision to live simply in the USA. She said, “Both [your dad] and I determined after being around the world [that] we could only live simply because of the ethics of how most people have to live. We chose to give a lot of money to humanitarian [efforts] and missions. Something we could not have done if we lived like other Americans.” She went on to share that some of the church families with kids didn’t want to be friends with us because “we did not buy all the extra trappings of American lifestyle. It hurt me deeply but we were committed to simple living.” 

Wait, what?!? Did Mom just say that my parents had a goal to live simply and that it wasn’t due to a lack of money, but because of a single purpose – to give to missionaries and humanitarian efforts? Did she really just say that I was raised in an atmosphere where the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity was practiced on a large scale, the scale of our family’s life? Wow! I didn’t know that! It was AMAZING to find out. How wonderfully uplifting and what a big change in perspective of my childhood! 

All of a sudden, so many things made sense to me! That’s why I got the hand-me-down clothes that had been through all the girls in another family before they came to me. That’s why we didn’t buy packaged food, but ‘had to eat lentils and other healthy foods!’ Yuck!  (although, my sister loves lentils). That’s why we always had a car that regularly got ‘fixed up’ by Dad – a mechanic, instead of having a shiny new one! I didn’t know it was a choice for simplicity, I thought it was a result of not having money.

The house where my parents lived while missionaries. They decorated with donated items and lived with simplicity. Bonus – I got to visit the house location last year!

My Heritage…

With this new understanding in mind, I reached out to my sister. She lived more years of the ‘simple life’ with our intact family than I did and I wanted to get her opinion. She 100% agreed with Mom. She said, “I think we were raised that way [with simplicity]. It probably had a lot to do with being a missionary family… Also, I would say that Grandpa and Grandma Johnson [Mom’s parents] definitely lived that way out of necessity because of choosing to serve the Lord [as pastors] their whole lives in small country churches. I think it’s part of our heritage.” 

My mind was reeling! Yes! This is it! It is a heritage! My grandparents lived focused on serving God in small country churches and they implemented simplicity. Then my parents focused on serving God and those around the world by giving away what they had and thereby  implemented simplicity. When it finally came my turn to be grown-up and raise a family, what did I do? I brought the values of simplicity into my family life. And beyond that, when faced with the option to have my husband continue in our plan with a higher paying job or follow God’s plan to serve Him in lower-paying ministry, we chose to sacrifice our well laid out plans for God’s plan, which meant we’d need to implement simplicity too.

Material Possessions…

Maybe there’s more to this ‘simplicity’ being in my life than I realized. So, I moved on to assessing how I’ve viewed possessions from the past to the present. I moved around A LOT when I was growing up. It often felt like the only constant thing in my life was my family and my stuff. This showed when I packed boxes of material memories move after move. It wasn’t until my husband asked me about all these things ‘I just had to have’ that I started looking deeper. I came to realize that my material possessions represented constancy to me at a time when I didn’t have that. They also helped me access memories that I was afraid I would forget if I got rid of them. Many of my possessions were linked to insecurity and fear.

As I’ve come to a place of constancy in my life, I realize that I no longer need these ‘things’ to ground me anymore. I no longer need them to ‘go with me’ through my life. I am grounded in God and His constancy and that will never change. God also helped me to see that I could keep memories even without keeping the items. So, items that were boxed away for years, were finally purged. I learned that I could either take a photo of the object to aid my memory or even  more reassuring was the lesson that I really would remember the things that were so important to me. I also realized that many of these items had bad memories associated with them along with the good. As I let go of the items, I released a lot of the bad memories that went with them, but many of the good memories stayed! 

A Choice…

Now when I look at my current life, I can see the positives of simplicity in my life. I’ve chosen to be content with being a bit behind the curve of the latest trends or fashions because I’m comfortable in who God made me, I’ve chosen to have my house and yard improve slowly because I have certain goals that are a higher priority, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to be extravagant here and there because otherwise, the rule of no-extravagance will breed legalism in me and squeeze out grace towards others.

Well, I guess I have some experience with simplicity after all. It hasn’t just been something that my circumstances have thrown at me. I’m not a victim to simplicity. No, I’ve made a choice! I’ve made the choice to live in a way that is counter-cultural. I’ve made a choice to steward all that God has given me. I’ve made the choice to lay down my plans (ie. physicist husband) and follow the lead of God each step of the way. 

In the end, I’m going to continue to practice the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity in my life. But this time, I’m consciously making the choice for myself and for the generations who come after me. I now understand the inward thinking that drives the outward actions I take. I think I’ll be able to be even more purposeful in my attitudes and actions towards simplicity. No longer will I wonder why I do what I do, but now I’ll know why I do these things. I’ll have a driving focus that helps me make my decisions and reason them out. I won’t be tossed like a leaf blown in the wind, instead I’ll have a rudder to guide my metaphorical boat. I’m excited to see how this new understanding will work out in the coming years and on into the next generation.


SIMPLICITY AND FREEDOM: Ten Principles for Practicing Simplicity

The Discipline of Simplicity by Richard Foster

The Spiritual Disciplines: Simplicity

Bible, family, God, My Story

Let the Son Shine In


I find it amazing how much sunlight affects a person’s mood. Just the other day we had a break from the many days of cloudy gloom when the sun came out. There might as well have been trumpets blowing and confetti guns shooting high into the air, because that’s what it felt like inside of me. Everything was exploding with happy goodness! It never gets old. I’m always amazed at how much of a difference sunlight can make in my attitude.

My kids’ happy drawings on our sunny day

Thinking on why sunlight has this happy effect on people (at least me) and gloomy darkness doesn’t, made me remember something from my childhood. It has to do with light and dark. When I was younger if I heard something said, I took it quite literally. My thoughts were often very black and white, right and wrong, this and that. (on a side note, this made me very gullible)

I carried this same literal understanding when I heard or read something in the Bible. I never took into consideration who the author was writing to or what time period it was being written in. Instead, I thought that every passage was literal and for the exact here and now. So, when I heard the Bible passage of John 3:19-20, I ended up having some interesting concerns. Here is what the passage says: 

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

Darkness and Evil…

Remember how I thought of a childhood memory? Well, here it is. When I was younger, I was really worried for one of my brothers. You see, he really liked watching his tv shows and movies in the dark. He preferred the lights out and darkness. I, on the other hand, did not. I wanted to have as much light on as possible all the time. I recognized this difference between us and thought about the verse. “But people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light.”

Was my brother evil? He loved the darkness. The Bible said that those who loved the darkness were evil, at least that’s how my childlike mind applied it. So, if my brother loved literal darkness, then he must be evil! This just didn’t sit well with me. When I thought about my brother, I couldn’t see him as being evil. This was my kind brother who watched out for me and loved Jesus too. I couldn’t reconcile what I thought the Bible was saying with what my experience was.

Perhaps this was one of my first times of really trying to figure out what the Bible meant in this instance. I admit that at my young elementary age, I did not try to delve any deeper to figure it out. I didn’t ask my parents for help in understanding this – probably because I didn’t want to get my brother in trouble in case he really was evil. I just held onto this question all my life, but usually pushed it aside when it came up and chose not to interact with it. For years, I wondered, but never searched out the answer.

Light in the Dark…

Now, as a grown person, I understand things so differently. God is not saying my brother is evil because he prefers to watch tv and movies in the dark. As an adult, I now know that MANY people prefer this way to watch screens because it enhances the picture. Indeed, it helps the LIGHT on the screen shine brighter! We can see the light better when it is dark.

This too isn’t an all together extra-Biblical observation – light shining in the darkness. There are a few places in the book of Isaiah where we see this. 

Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress…

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Isaiah 8:22-9:2

It goes on to say that the people will have increased joy and shattered yokes from their burdens. It finishes with the well-known passage, ‘For unto us a child is born’ of which Jesus’ government and peace will have no end! Later on in Isaiah it says:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.

 The Lord will guide you always;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Isaiah 58:9b-11a; 12b

So, how does watching movies in the dark correlate with getting out in the sunlight? Well, there are many times when things in the world feel gloomy, cloudy, and dark. It can seem like everywhere we look we see evil. But in the darkness, we have the opportunity to be the ‘son-light’ for others and show Jesus’ light more clearly. Just like the natural sun brightens the innermost being of people, so too can Jesus, the ‘son’ in us!

Arise and Shine…

We can bring the LIGHT! So, when we feel the gloom of the darkness in our world settling upon us, we can remember that we have the SON who shines on us, in us, and through us… living inside us! We can do as Isaiah says

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

Isaiah 60:1

Because we have Jesus living in us, we too can ARISE, SHINE and have THE GLORY OF THE LORD RISE UPON US. Now GO! Shine your light!

Shine Your Way – Owl City & Yuna (The Croods)