What is a Home?

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!

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My Mile Marker Zero

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.

Teenagers….

All through my teen years and all through these years of raising my children, there has been so much derogatory talk about teenagers.  The word “teenager” is often used in similar connotations as the word “cancer” is used or “terrorist”.  I believe this to be shameful and misleading.  Having teenagers is not a bad thing.  It may not be easy, but it is not a bad thing.

So, I would like this opportunity to put in a good word for teenagers, particularly the two that live in my home.  I love having teens. When children are born, it is as if you have been given a gift, but you have to wait to see what is in it.  As they emerge into the teen years, the gift really starts to unfold.  What fun to get to see what God has created and put inside them.

Take this past weekend for instance.  We have a retail nursery and we sell plants at First Monday, Canton Texas and at Third Monday Trades Days, McKinney, Texas.  The whole family is involved.  To start things off, we have to load a few hundred plants- mostly in 3 gallon containers, load the booth set-up equipment, signs, etc.  This is no easy task.  That was done on Thursday and Friday morning we were up and on the road by 6:30 am.  Before we could go, all the animals were fed and watered- which is done by Cheyenne, Savannah, Sierra and Jonathan.  Once we arrived, the teens (Cheyenne & Savannah) and Tony unloaded the lumber and built a 10X10 shed with tin walls and 4X4 beams while the younger two and I began unloading plants.  Then the rest of the plants and shade supports must be unloaded and built.  We wrapped up and headed home by 4:30.  They did all this without fighting or complaining- and no they didn’t do it for money.

Saturday began at the same time with Cheyenne heading to McKinney with us and the rest of the kids staying home.  She worked all weekend moving the plants, working with customers, and running errands for us.  It was a delight to have her company.  She is intelligent with a good head on her shoulders and carries on a very pleasant conversation.  Most of the time, she has a good sense of humor and always likes to get the work done.  Overall, she makes me look good in public!!!  It was also nice to be able to walk around the flea market with Tony for a little while and not have to worry about the business- it was in good hands.

Back at home, Savannah at 16, was in charge.  I know many parents who would not be able to trust their kids at home overnight, but I did not think twice about it.  I knew she could do it, but I must say I was impressed with how much she got done.  Tony and I came home to a clean house.  Savannah had done the laundry and cleaned the kitchen- or saw to it that whose ever turn it was got it done.  One thing- she learned the hard way was why you don’t use Dawn in the dishwasher…. Anyway, the kitchen floor was clean.

Not only did Savannah keep the house in order, she had to feed herself and her two younger siblings.  One night she made Creamy Tuna Pasta, which is kind of like tuna helper, only the creamy white sauce is a homemade Bechamel sauce that she makes herself.  The next day she made grilled shrimp.  To do this, she had to thaw the shrimp, peel & devine the shrimp, and fire up the grill.  No food from a box around here!  Maybe I am partial, but that is impressive!  If that wasn’t enough, she was also responsible for all the animals being tended to.  Sierra and Jonathan have their chores and do them without being told, but never the less, the responsibility was her’s and she shouldered it well.

So, for all those critics who are of the mind that teenagers are unreliable, have bad attitudes and are only motivated by money or other personal gain- I beg to differ. I believe that teenagers will rise to the standard set before them.  I believe that we sell our children short when we accept the world’s standards for what they are capable of.  I believe that when given the chance, teens will rise to the occasion and pitch in to help.

Here is what I don’t like about having teens.  Not only can they see through your smoke screen- all children can- but they are old enough to articulate back to you how you are not living up to your own standards.  I don’t like knowing that in just a matter of months the landscape of my family will change forever as they leave the nest and fly. I don’t like it when they roll their eyes at me or walk away with their shoulders slumped at what I have asked them to do- you guessed it, they aren’t perfect.

Another thing I don’t like- the friction that comes with having, basically, three grown, strong-willed, opinionated women living in the same house.  Of course, I have myself to thank for the strong-willed, opinionated part- but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I set out to work myself out of a job as a mother.  I wanted them to be able to live on their own in a capable, successful way. I don’t want boomerang kids- the kind that leave home and come back.  I wanted them to launch and have the skill set  to be successful. I am so pleased when they are tested in small ways, like this weekend, and they come through with flying colors.

So for all you parents out there with young children heading full speed for teenagers- take heart, it is not a bad thing.  Enjoy this stage, its the last one you have before they leave home.

I love my teens!

Homeschool Guests

hard at work

Today, we had guests for homeschool. My nieces, Katie & Rylie, got to spend the day with us. Actually, they spent the night and were here all day.We love to have them over.

Botany is the science subject for Sierra and Jonathan this year. The course is produced by Apologia and is excellent. Today we were studying the testa (seed coat) and the parts of the embryo. I really enjoyed Rylie and Katie doing class with us. They were so much fun. One of our activities was to design our own testas and color them. Katie was the only one who remembered to include the seed’s hilum (belly button). That made me feel really good. The delight that children show when learning is certainly a gift from God.

The other activity we did was do start an experiment. We placed 3 different kind of seeds in a ziplock baggie along with a wet paper towel. Now, we will wait and see which seed sprouts the fastest. Katie and Rylie will take their baggies home with them, of course. Katie told me that she had a warm spot in her room on the window sill to put the baggies.

I hope to get to do this some more with them.

Who says school isn't fun? Rylie & Sierra working hard on their science

Cousins, Jonathan & Katie, working on their seed coat

Explosions please…

The other morning I came into the kitchen and found Sierra intently scrubbing the table. Thinking that she was trying to get the tiny bits of glitter left over from Christmas crafts off the table, I told her not to worry about it for I “had a plan”. She promptly replied, “Its not glitter, its gun powder. Jonathan took some of his 22 shells apart. He wanted to throw it in burn barrell but Savannah told him no. She didn’t think it was safe.” Way to go Bana! Man alive- you can’t even go to the bathroom around here without somebody getting a bright idea in your absence!