We all want someone who loves us this way.
What is a home?
What makes a house a home? That question may be slightly different for each family, but it is the family that is essential to the home. The structure could burn down, but the home would survive in the family that took it with them to the new location.
Home is much more than bricks, wood, or mortgage payments. It is atmosphere, memories, unspoken or unwritten rules, it is essential. Think about what you remember about your home growing up- you may have concrete memories of activities but those memories are wrapped in emotions. That is the crucial key- emotions, atmosphere, the spirit of the place. Was it a loving home, a home filled with fear, a home filled with laughter? If your home was not a happy one, the good news it that you get a second chance. You did not get to choose the home your were born in to, but you do get to choose the home you have now. Now, you get to make your house a home and choose what you want to fill it with- laughter, happiness, good food, warm aromas and certainly the Spirit and peace of God.
To help women understand and to encourage them to make their house a home has been a long time passion for me. Not that I have all the answers or make no mistakes, but I was fortunate to have a full time mother in my home growing up and she taught me many invaluable lessons. I took those and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, improved upon them and set out to create a home in which my children could hear God speak, could be safe and free to be themselves, and would make many happy memories to look back on when they left home. Not every home has children in it. Children are not what makes a house a home; however, if they are in the home they become a huge focus for as long as they are in your care. The most essential element in the making of a home is the marriage. If the marriage is not healthy, the home will not be, either.
Beginning with the end in mind is probably my mantra. If you want a marriage that stood the test of time, you must begin that journey with the mind set necessary to last the journey. If you want your children to leave home with a certain skill set or mind set or both, you have to begin parenting them when they are toddlers with those attributes that you desire in mind. So that is what I did, I sought God and what he had in mind for my children and that is where I began. Now, my four kids are 21, 19, 13, & 11. I am seeing the fruit of all of our hard work- my husband is most certainly very involved- and it is good. So, I desire to share what worked for me, what did not, & the lessons I learned as we have been on this journey.
Today, I am updating this post as I turn it from a page to a post. I love what I wrote 6 years ago. Those four kids are now 27, 25, 21, & 19. Two are fantastic mothers and business owners, one is about to graduate and go on to law school and one is currently beginning boot camp to become a United States Marine. What I have written is standing the test of time.
I pray that you will find the information in the pages and articles helpful, informative, and inspiring and I also hope you will laugh at the funny parts! Without a sense of humor- life, marriage, & parenting will eat you up and spit you out!
Words are swirling around us and have been for months. Most of these words are predictions of death, despair, desolation. There is a reason for this- a fearful person is easy to manipulate.
All this talk may make you think that there is nothing good left in this world, nothing good left to look forward, and nothing good to celebrate.
This is not the truth.
Here is the truth:
Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.Proverbs 11:27
Yes, there is evil in the world, and death, and destruction but there ALWAYS has been. There are NO good old days, evil walked the earth in 1950, 1850, 850 and even 210 B.C. Evil has been lurking on the earth since God hurled Satan out of heaven and he landed here.
BUT, and it is a BIG BUT- Jesus also came to the earth, righted the wrongs of the first man, Adam, and restored us to right fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit walks with us, fills us, and speaks to us.
There is good, plenty of it, all around us but we have to look for it. When you find the good, SHARE it. Fill your social media feed with the good in the world, your city, your life. Fill your mouth with good reports of what is happening in your life. Find the good and spread it around like sprinkles on a doughnut.
Regardless of what is going on in D.C. or Austin, Texas, my life is bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ and EVERY promise made in the Bible is MINE because of Jesus. There is nothing a man or woman can do to change that fact.
So, take heart to day. You are not hopeless you have the power to live a good life, you just have to look for it and put your HOPE in Jesus Christ.
Since Jonathan swore an oath and joined the United Sates Marines the day before Thanksgiving, I have been living intentionally. The intention was to make the most memories, accomplish what really mattered to each of us, and to feel like we had properly closed this chapter in our lives.
We had the best time! I cooked the things he requested, planned the parties, the baptism and whatever else any of us wanted to do “one more time” before he shipped out and the schedule was not our own.
We hung out on the couch and watched our favorite movies or shows. This might be considered by some to be a waste of time. Not for us, this is how we bond. We pile up on one couch and laugh together then later we communicate in movie quotes. Movie quotes for us is like a secret language. This was an intentional waste of time and it was the best use of that time. I got to feel him resting his head on me one more time just like he did when he was little.
The last two weeks were especially perfect. It all happened because we were intentional about how we spent our time and what we did.
I came away from this time with a renewed desire to live intentionally. This is not new for me or us, but life got really intense for a couple of years and the intention of the day was to survive. That, my friend, is not living.
All of our married life we have asked ourselves what we wanted to have in 20 years or 50 years. What did we want our kids to look back and remember about home? What kind of marriage did we want? Then, every action or decision we made was based on those answers. Dose what we are doing move us toward that end goal? We haven’t been as intentional as I would like us to be.
So, Tony and I are having conversations about how we want to schedule our time and what memories we want to create. We are now living with intentionality again. You do have to schedule the important things or at least schedule time that gives enough space that the important things can happen.
Time goes by quickly. I want to look back as see a full life with the best memories.
Some of the things we are intentionally scheduling:
- Sunrise fishing
- sunrise kayaking
- full moon gazing on the beach
- family dinners
- day trips with the grands
- emails to family friends
- hand-written letters
- texts to friends and family
- dinner with new friends
- monthly hiking trips
- weekly business meetings for us
- regular fasting
- and whatever else we think of.
Dead Poets Society- I love this movie. I find it inspiring and heartbreaking in equal parts. John Keating (played by Robin Williams) is attempting to open the eyes of his students to the idea that life can be more than what they have been told or what they have seen. Now, this causes problems but no one is left the same. Anytime someone challenges the status quo, there will be opposition.
Obviously, what some desired for their extraordinary lives others thought was wrong. So what makes for an extraordinary life?
Money? Huge House? Travel? Power?
I would wager that ,while those things above are out of the ordinary, these will not truely be extraordinary.
What I see people hungry for are those things that are not tangible. I feel I have an extraordinary life. What defines that for me is the relationships in my life mainly along with where I live and what I do for work and career.
Can I say that to have a relationship that is healthy and vibrant takes intentional work? These things do not happen by accident. Compatability is key, but compatablility is based largely on your perspective and reactions.
For example, Tony (my husband) is cautious and likes a book’s worth of information and time to think before he makes a decision. I lean towards risk and need only about a page of information and thirty seconds to make a decision. Tony does not love routine and scheduling or budgets. I adore routine and schedules and budgets make me feel secure. As you can see, our approach to just about everything is different. I looked at this as a positive, we balanced each other- and we do.
One evening while headed home from a Pampered Chef Party (about 20 years ago I was a Pampered Chef Lady) I turned on the radio and heard a program on marriage from Focus on the Family. Listening to the guests talk, I thought, “Wow, they sound just like me and Tony.” Because I jumped in the middle, I had not heard the title. Imagine my surprise when the title was announced, “How To Build a Marriage When You Are Not Compatible.”
What a shock, all this time I thought we were balanced. Actually, I did then and still think that is what we are- balanced. This is where perspective and reactions come in. I didn’t react to Tony’s need for more information as if he was wrong. He wasn’t wrong, he was just different. He doesn’t consider my tendency to jump before I look as a weakness. We balance. Our marriage is extraordinary.
I live in Galveston, Texas. I can walk to the beach daily, I watch the waves when I commute to work. Some may not really care about that, the beach doesn’t do anything for them. I find this VERY odd but you know- each to his own. Where I live is something and somewhere I consider extraordinary. Now, I could change my perspective. I could focus on the crazy traffic rules, the tourist that come here and act the fool, or the constant humidity of about 143%. But, I do not. I love this island and all its quirks.
Experiences- from buying ice cream from the ice cream truck on the BEACH (yes, that is a thing) with my grandbabies to snorkeling in Key West with my younger two kids and handsome husband is what makes life extraordinary. God has blessed me and I KNOW it!
What makes a life extraordinary? That is for you to answer. I hope you will pursue those things with all your heart.
Leave what makes your life extraordinary in the comments below- I want to know what it is for you!
Before you go- Please sign up for the newsletter. I will not fill your inbox with junk and I will never sell your information.
This past weekend, we traveled back to Canton, TX and celebrated Jonathan as he embarks on his new life.
He has chosen to serve and departs for boot camp in less than a week. It was time to say, “See You Later.” Watching him interact with his friends and family was such a gift. Knowing that there wouldn’t be another moment like this was sobering. All of his friends will be very different when Jonathan sees them again. As it stands, we won’t see him again before August. One set of newly married friends will have welcomed their first child, his sister will be in law school and who knows what that much time will bring to the rest of their lives.
So, we soaked it all up. Laughter was in abundance as were smiles. He won’t look the same when he gets back. He will not be the same when he gets back. But, that is a thing to be celebrated, not grieved. Nothing stays the same, he is choosing to become more.
See you later, Big Boy! We could not possibly be more proud of you!
But blessed is the man who
trust in the Lord
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted
by the water
that sends out its roots by the steam.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
I can’t recommend Jesus enough.
When the news reels play or the social media feeds fill up with doom, despair, disrespect and every other negative thing- I wield this scripture like a sword to slay the anxiety and fear that threatens to over take me. This promise and every other promise in the Bible are without condition. It does not say in Jerimiah that if the Republicans are in power that I will be like a tree planted by the water. It doesn’t even specify which country I should live in to experience the promises of God. The only requirement is that I trust in the Lord.
Trust in the Lord= I do not need to fear difficult times.
I will take that deal. Notice that this scriptures does not say that drought never came to this tree. It says the tree has no worries in a drought. Not only does it not worry, but it never misses a year of production. Friend, this is a no brainer.
The world can keep their fear and fighting, hating and destruction- I will go with God. Regardless of what comes in this world, I will be like a tree planted by the water. God is my hope, my trust is in HIM. He has proven himself to me time and again.
Make no mistake, we are in a world at war. This war is between good and evil. It rages everyday. Battles can be bloody and I may take a hit, but my hope is in the Lord, I trust in the Lord to bring his promises to bear. So, turn off the television and internet feed and turn to the One who is able to save your soul and drench you with so much love that it drives out all fear.
Jesus Christ came and died for you and for me. He restored us to a perfect relationship with God. He didn’t come to steal all your fun and wrap you in chains of shame and guild. Jesus came to give you life. The only thing that Jesus want to take from you is fear and death. Give your life to Christ, you will be glad you did!
Many of you may recognize this as Mile Marker Zero in Key West, Florida. Which might make you think that this is a travel blog post and it could be. We traveled there this summer, yes in 2020. It was my son’s senior trip, the handsome fellow you see in this picture. All he wanted was to go somewhere where he could snorkel. The Keys it was. What I did not anticipate was this picture.
God like to surprise us with little things that make our hearts happy. When we planned the trip, I know He was like, “This is gonna be so cool. You are gonna love this picture I have planned.” The reason it is so cool is that Jonathan is my fourth and final kid. I am officially done- he is my mile marker zero. It didn’t even occur to me when I took it. It was just a cool picture on a family vacation. But later, when we got home and I was looking at pictures, it hit me. Wow, what a way to wrap it up.
You would think that hitting such a milestone would feel so great. And it does feel great but at the exact same moment, it feels like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. When the older two left home, I comforted myself with the fact that I had two more kids at home. Then the baby girl left home and that hurt like a mother. But, I still had J. Now, it’s mile marker zero.
So, here I sit. I can’t say I don’t have any regrets. I firmly believe that if you get to the end of your parenting run and don’t have any regrets, you didn’t take the job seriously enough. I may have some regrets, things I would do differently but I have no guilt or remorse. I know that I did the absolute best that I could with the tools that I had. Yes, 48 year-old me could do a few things better than 28 year-old me- I should hope so! But, I gave it my all and I am very proud of the humans I turned lose on the world.
Jonathan has joined the Marines and ships out January 19th. Talk about an abrupt ending. I am going from having full control (that is different from being controlling) to having NO control over anything in his life. I am not going to lie, this is a difficult curve to navigate. I mean, if anyone else talked to him they will talk to him, I would have gone OFF on them. You do NOT mess with my kids.
I realized that I had this narrative in my head that the Core was intentionally going to destroy all that I had built. While talking to my family at Christmas, this came out of my mouth. Thankfully, my dad is a former Marine. He said, “No Honey, its not like that.” On the long drive back to my island, I processed through all of this. I decided to change the narrative. I chose to look at it from a different perspective. I raised a young man who knows his mind, knows himself, above all knows Jesus, and is so strong that no matter was the Marines throw at him, they won’t break him.
It is amazing how a human heart can feel so many big emotions fully at the same time.
I am incredibly PROUD of him.
I am so SAD I won’t get to hear his voice everyday.
I am so HAPPY he is moving into adulthood and following his passion.
I am AFRAID of where that path will take him.
I am so EXCITED to see where that path will take him.
The list goes on. I am so grateful to have been given the gift of raising this boy. So, I will focus on the positive and celebrate my Mile Marker Zero.
Way back when when I was a Pampered Chef Lady, I earned a stoneware gingerbread house mold. My oldest two daughters, the only kids at that time, were 2 years old and 4 years old. That was the first year we made a gingerbread house. We have made one every year since- with the exception of last year.
This year was the first with the grands. The grands are 4, 3, and 2 years old. Their mamas, the two toddlers from the beginning of this story, are 27 and 25 years old. That is a lot of gingerbread houses! That is a lot of really great memories.
Traditions can be a tricky thing. There can be a lot of pressure to continue traditions handed down to you and they can feel like a yoke. Those same traditions can also make you feel grounded, like you know who you are and where you came from. I don’t want my kids to ever feel like the things we do every year are a yoke. If we outgrow certain things, I don’t want them to feel guilty that things needed to change. But, I also want them to have a thread to hang on to that runs all the way back through their history.
The gingerbread house is one of those. It is also my tradition. They can develop new things with their own children, but this gingerbread house mold and this tradition belongs to me and Tony. Mostly me, he was usually at the station when the house was made. My family that I grew up in never made a gingerbread house, we have lots of other traditions. So this is a “new” thing. If someone wants to carry on the gingerbread house when I am gone, that is fantastic. If they don’t want to, that is okay, too. I will have made all the memories that I am going to make by that point and it will be their turn to make the memories they want. But, they will be able to look back at this blog and see pictures and know who I was- at least a little bit. I think that is the best part of traditions- the imprint it makes on family history.
I have included the recipe for the gingerbread just in case you wanted to create a new tradition.
A LITTLE EXTRA FLOUR MAKES THIS DOUGH STURDY ENOUGH TO MAKE GINGERBREAD HOUSES, BUT ALSO WORKS GREAT FOR COOKIES. PLUS, THE SMELL OF GINGERBREAD BAKING IS DELIGHTFUL. (pamperedchef.com)
- 3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp (7 mL) ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
- ½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda
- ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
- ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
- ½ cup (125 mL) vegetable shortening
- ½ cup (125 mL) sugar
- ½ cup (125 mL) molasses
- 1 egg
- Whisk the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, and cloves together in a medium bowl.
- Use a hand mixer to beat the shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the molasses and egg and beat until smooth.
- Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until fully combined.
- Shape the dough into a ball and divide it into 2 portions. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for 30 minutes. Use the dough to make cookies with cookie cutters or press into mold.
I had fun with the last cover reveal and I think you did to, so lets do it again!
Here is the book blurb:
Fierce- Beautiful- Unreasonable- Bulldog- Sexy- Unapologtic- Irreverent- Compassionate- Successful- Principled- all words used to describe Brett Bentley, all of them true.
Risk is not a word Brett runs from, frankly she likes it. After her husband and voice of reason dies, there is no one to stop her from building a team of hackers to hunt sex trafficers down and drain their bank accounts. Now trouble is stalking her. A case of mistaken identity or has someone discovered her secrets?
Help is a four letter word to Brett. When help shows up in the perfect form of a former Army Ranger, Brett’s first response is to have her Italian Mastiff clamp down on his family jewels. If this doesn’t serve as a warning, Alex Jensen only has himself to blame. Retirement has been a bore, he can’t resist taking a ride on Brett’s drama train. First impressions are deceptive, not only is Brett’s life really on the line, it becomes clear that neither of their hearts will be intact when this ride is over. A South American drug lord has Brett as the object of his rage and desire. Cornered and alone, Brett must be her own hero. Lethal is the word she needs now- does she have what it takes?
Now, which cover would you choose?
Leave your vote in the comments!
Sign up for the newsletter- over there on the side!
Don’t forget, you can find me at Goodreads!