Cuppa Strength

1.a cup of tea:
“a good strong cuppa”

I love tea. I love more the analogy of the cup. God gives overflowing opportunity – if we will just see it.

When I think of strength, I think of one who goes against the grain, swims against the current, trailblazes against the norms of society. And it gets me really excited. This kind of strength ignites a fire inside my soul. I read the words below this evening and was inspired to share because this is a beautifully painted canvas of strength. I decided to start recording some of my thoughts again in a blog format.

I started blogging a number of years ago and looking back, it is so encouraging to measure our growth. It is rewarding to look back and know the direction we are going. There is no doubt the plans the Lord has for us are good. Very, very good.

More to come. Welcome.

“Sitting here in the quiet, making out this week’s lesson plan, contemplating what exactly this all means to me and what a beautiful privilege this is.

Bits of my heart really started to emerge when I made the decision to homeschool our children. When I said no to the majority. When I discarded the critics and quieted the ‘what if’s’ and committed to doing something big and beautiful and against the grain because I believed it was valuable and necessary.

I started to really hear my own voice, value my own opinions, and this began the start of a boldness that had never existed in me before. It was simply that one step toward the path less traveled that opened up a whole world of possibility. It’s a boldness that’s shown us that we needn’t worry ourselves with what the world says is ‘normal’. We need only quiet the world long enough to LISTEN to our souls and then go, strong in the direction that we’re called.

It’s the most beautiful privilege teaching them. And the better lessons are not found in the math book pages or in the midst of our science experiments.

I have confidence in knowing that we’ll look back at this journey and recognize, above so many other things, that real wisdom is found when we can just listen intently enough to hear our own voices, when we can be still enough to really get to know our innermost selves, when we can start to really discover those precious little bits that God instilled deep within us when He knit us all together… and when we make the decision to live based on what we hear, discover, and unearth in those quiet moments.

Homeschooling, for me, is so much more than academics. The most beautiful life lessons are intertwined in these plans.”

(Beautiful words by sweet soul Jamie Wolma ) #wildandfreemama #wildandfreechildren


2014 In Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog. Pretty cool. I’ve been feeling inspired to write again!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The BEST Season YET!

I have noticed something recently and spent a good share of time pondering it – people come and go in life for a reason. I have had many friendships fade and in hindsight, it is completely evident why! The closer I get to Jesus, the more distant old friends seem. God does this. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” There it is my friends, alas, I am NEW! Like it or not, I am new and I have committed my life to Jesus and doing all I can to live as He did. Matthew 5:17 tells me that “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Life meaning NEW life. Saved life. Eternal life. Heaven. I want to go to Heaven and there is one way to get there – Christ alone! Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” So, like it or not, I am new. I have my eyes set on the prize. The real, loving, powerful, peaceful, fearless, hopeful, ALMIGHTY GOD.

Friends and family have “hidden” my posts on facebook in an attempt to protect themselves from too much positivity. I mean, who wants to be happy anyway?! (Hehe) Seems silly to enjoy everyday. Afterall, “why is she always so happy?” I know too many people who spend their lives kicking stones and feeling sorry for themselves and the absolutely BLESSED life they lead. If you live in America, have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly, you are BLESSED. Stop it. Just stop it. Living in misery and sulk is YOUR choice alone. Choose joy. Just do it.

To answer the question, you know, “Why is she always so happy?” God. God is the reason I leap from bed every morning fist pumping all the way to my bowl of Wheaties. God is the reason I celebrate wildflowers, tea, friends, family, sunshine, a flourishing garden, rainbows and the smell of fresh-cut grass. God. I decide every night to be thankful and every morning to be hopeful. God has something new for me everyday! GRACE! Do we face trial? Yes! Painful trial and question. Confusion. Do I lay around and whine and wallow in self-pity? NO! Do I lay it all at the foot of His cross?! Yes! Does He have a plan drafted in gold ink for my family? He has a master plan!

To sum this up tonight, I just have to reflect for a minute on the friendships that have faded. They all were good in due season. They all seemed to have good reason. But God is the drafter. He knows who comes and who goes…and why. With that I RELEASE those friendships!

I believe the best season yet is on the horizon. Stay tuned for so many GOOD things to come!

Creation Unit was AWESOME…God is SO good!

We decided, as a family, a few fun tradition we would have with the start of each new “grade” for Noah. Chocolate chip pancakes the morning of the first day, followed up by a trip to shop for his “first day” outfit – new pajamas! One noteworthy perk of homeschooling? Noah doesn’t know about trendy name brands and the urgent necessity of them to fit in. I remember the horror of never fitting in and times certainly have not changed for the better in that realm. We are so excited about these things.

IMG_3602     IMG_3617     IMG_3619

The first two weeks of our curriculum work focused on the Creation story from Genesis, and will be followed by 26 hands-on, easy-to-teach thematic units that focus on the wonders in God’s creation. The sun, moon, rocks, vegetables, elephants, butterflies, and dinosaurs are just a few of the exciting topics we will explore. We had so much fun learning about Creation from God’s Word. The bible will be the primary reference book used in our homeschool. It is our map, our guide, and our hope. I do not plan to blog about every unit and nor will I be sharing nearly as many photos as I have before on facebook, simply because we are busy exploring God’s world – and that takes up most of our time.

                     IMG_3842     IMG_3607


Day 1 – Dark and Light – We didn’t do a special snack for this day, because we were too busy hands-on-learning (ie. playing in the bathroom with a flashlight). We talked a lot about what this world would be like without day and night or dark and light.


Day 2 – Clouds and Oceans – On this day we talked a lot about Noah’s favorite – WEATHER! The different types of clouds we discussed were cumulus, cirrus, stratus and nimbus. We also talked about water and how everything living needs it to survive. How clouds and water relate, the water cycle, and evaporation were major topics of discussion. Oh, and the main point? God is an AMAZINGLY creative scientist!


Day 3 – Land, Plants, and Trees – We made a worm farm from “land”, identified wild flower in the wood, and found an oak leaf bigger than Noah’s face!

IMG_3805 IMG_3683IMG_3676IMG_3823

Day 4 – Sun, Moon, and Stars – Day 4 was probably Noah’s fav. Noah has loved space, planets, stars, the moon and sun since he was so small. All of these topics are ones we will continue to explore as time goes on because they are areas of extreme interest to Noah. He has a BLAST at the Air Zoo Sumer Camp called “Our Star” learning so much about the sun! The Air Zoo is going to be a fabulous resource for our family in the months to come!


Day 5 – Animals of the Sea and Animals of the Sky – Dolphin bananas jumping from a sea of blueberries? Only here!! We are going to have tons of fun with our themed units! We spent a lot of time outside observing birds, feeding the ducks, and talking about the wonderful world to discover – the seas! A little spelling with letter cookies, too! So much fun!

IMG_3809     IMG_3808

IMG_3816     IMG_3629IMG_3630

Day 6 – Man and Animals – We talked a lot about how we are all unique; beautifully and wonderfully made in His image! We plan to see LOTS of animals this summer as our future unit studies coincide.


Day 7 – God Rested – And so did we. 🙂


After the first 2 weeks of homeschooling, we are confirmed. God has absolutely called our family here and there is no denying it. Christ has given our family an amazing opportunity with homeschooling and we are ecstatic! Our curriculum is a great fit! If you have any interest in following our homeschool journey, please consider following my blog. As previously stated, time to update fb regularly will be limited and if I do post, it will be here to collect the memories in more of a journal format.

We don’t have it all together. Not even close. Our floors go weeks and weeks with dusty tumbleweeds. We rely on God’s grace everyday and that in itself is a “homeschooling lesson” for Noah to learn. We are just working everyday, with God’s grace, strength, and wisdom to “raise up our child in the way he should go, that when he grows old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 Well, we are off and running! Off to explore more of God’s world that surrounds us!


To My Mom…


This is a tribute to my mom tonight. She drives from Middleville the 2nd Wednesday of every month to be with Noah while I attend a small group for church (while Steve is working). This is a photo of what I walked in to – Noah and grandma on “an adventure”. These “adventures” I know for certain, Noah will carry as a fine memory for many years to come because the moments are fun. He loves these adventures with grandma. They “shuttle off to different planets and tonight there was a tickle monster on Pluto.” I can hear his imagination grow with every “adventure.” It is such a joy to watch. Sheer laughter and delight when I came home tonight. Grandma took Noah for a bike ride and they got lost – literally, lost (I know beacue I inherited that sense of direction). Noah got them home a different way than they came saying “don’t worry grandma, I know a short cut. I have never done this without mom and dad, but I can find the way” Noah shared with delight (several times) our garden and our homeschool room. He toured grandma around the yard telling her about every plant and its progress. He showed her every detail about our homeschool days and even played for her the song we listen to when each day begins. She said he was so proud and excited to show her these things. You see, everything here has a common denominator – God, love, family, and fun. It is great hearing that he shared these things with grandma from his heart and that he confidently led the way back home from their bike ride. I love his fearless heart after God and his humble leadership. Mom, thank you.The legacy you are creating is impacting every generation to come in our family. Keep loving like Jesus did; he sees all that you do. Thank for coming to be with Noah tonight. I appreciate you – from the bottom of my heart.


Tomorrow…our journey begins!

June 4, 2014

To our Dearest Noah,

Good morning sweet boy. As you know, today is the beginning of an exciting new day in our home as we embark on a new adventure that God has called our family to – HOMESCHOOLING! As of today, you are a Kindergartener! Congratulations, sweetie! God has big plans for you and mommy and daddy are so excited to watch you grow! We know that preparing for this day came with many decisions, research, conversation, question, PRAYER and finally, confirmation and the beginning of something AWESOME!

Every homeschooling family does it differently and we need to thank our Almighty God for that freedom we hold dear to in our great country! As we begin to meet other homeschool families, you may notice that they do things different from us and that is AWESOME!! Let me tell you why. That means that their mommy and daddy have prayed, followed God’s lead and plan for their family, and that they are all beautifully and wonderfully made! Just like you! We are all unique and God created us all in HIS image to honor HIS kingdom, for HIS glory!

Mommy loved hearing from you the past few weeks about what YOU think our homeschool will be like. When I asked you where you go to learn new things, you responded with, “Home. I go home. I learn sometimes too at the Nature Center, the waterpark, parks, museums, all of our libraries, Air Zoo, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Art.”  Every one of the answers you gave points to the mere fact that you THINK LEARNING IS FUN! Yey! It is! Mommy also asked what one new thing you want to learn about is. I love that you said, “I want to learn how to sew and build a huge tower with wood.” I also asked what you like to do and you responded with, “Learn. I love to learn. I like climbing, taking care of Chance and Snowball, building airplanes with my legos, water, legos, looking for treasures, picking up pinecones, being home and painting things.” “Picking food from our garden and seeing and feeling the weather” were two things you mentioned looking forward to in the coming weeks of our homeschool. And lastly, mommy asked you why you think our family has taken this route for you education; “You and daddy are obeying God. You are my best friend.” “You are my best friend.” YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND!!! You are. I love spending time with you, embracing the short time you are little, and taking all the time in the world to provide you with every teachable moment that you deserve. Buddy, mommy and daddy are keeping record of your vision for our family’s homeschool. We love your ideas and your thoughts are so important to us.

We are SO proud of the little boy you are, Noah. Keep shining, continue to honor God in all that you do, and always know that being YOU will always bring you the most happiness. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Always be YOU.

Well, enjoy your sprinkle pancakes! Happy 1st day of Kindergarten! We are so proud of you and SO excited! We cannot wait to explore OUR FATHER’S WORLD WITH YOU!!!!!!!!!! J

All Our Love!

Mommy and Daddy


Meanwhile, mommy is realizing that our “homeschool room” looks a lot like our playroom (with a few new additions and changes). Probably because it is the same room we have spent Noah’s childhood playing, exploring, learning, and growing in. Amazing how that goes hand in hand!

I took a few pictures tonight because tomorrow is our “first day.” I want to remember tonight – and how it feels to be running after God’s calling on our family. I want to, when looking back, remember what it feels like to have God’s absolute embrace, confirmation and grace surround us like a shield. It is incredible and this adventure is beginning!


Sleep tight sweet boy! You were right in that “tomorrow is a new adventure!!!!!”

Our hymn;
“This Is My Father’s World” (and is it ever HIS!)


“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NKJV


Run or Dye in Kalamazoo…

So in January, I set my eyes on May. I knew many changes were upon us. I made a vision board with several components: “Community”; “Homeschool”; “Our Little Guy”; and “What is Your Healthy?”. My eyes have not lost focus. Here is a picture of what it looks like. It has been hanging on the wall 3 feet from the front of my elliptical since January.


1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” In May I set a goal to be prepared and confident enough to participate in Run or Dye 5K – Kalamazoo. Well, it is not in the budget as hard as we have tried to make it be. The cost of the first three components listed use every dime. Lol. I was just going to say forget it – until God put this verse in my heart a few weeks ago. Once speaking this verse over and over it has come to fruition that this 5k should be called “Move or Disobey”. In my mind it is no longer “Run or Dye”. I am moving and I am obeying his call. I WILL BE running a 5K distance this day in a tie-dye t-shirt.


It is amazing what “movement” and exercise do for every part of my being. It is so spiritual. It is quite clear that God wants this to be part of my equation. Consider it DONE.

Reality Check – Gulp. I will be 30 tomorrow.


In reflecting the past few days, I have been struck by the reality that tomorrow is my 30th birthday. I was thinking about the past 30 years and everything I have done and grown to be. I was thinking about how (or if) I would change that if I could and what things I would keep the same. I came to the conclusion that what I did in my first 25 years of life pales in comparison to the growth, opportunity, and experiences I have had the last 5 years alone.

When I was a little girl, I loved to play outside. I showed leadership (or bossy) qualities at a young age as I was the oldest of four. I once told a bully at school that was teasing me because “her house was bigger than ours” that “she must be full of shit if she needs so many bathrooms.” I ran an “Earth Club” when I was 8. Yes, I held meetings in a ditch, actually. 🙂 I rode my bike most of where I went because I remember the independence I felt whizzing to the corner store or a friends house with the breeze blowing through my hair. I was a tom boy and enjoyed nothing more than keeping my “side of the room” (I shared with my sister) neat and tidy. I have always loved writing…and reading. I’ve always been a “clipper”; cutting articles from the newspaper and magazines still bring me joy today. I liked organizing everything – construction paper by color, Barbie shoes, and colored pens. I regularly was gifted craft supplies as a child. I always had super long hair and was once Pippi Longstocking for Halloween. I enjoyed structure as a child and I normally made the chore charts and family rules to distribute to my siblings. But at the same time, I was allowed to make messes and explore my surroundings because that is what kids should be doing. My first computer had DOS processing system. In highschool, I enjoyed forcing myself to run sprints in the field next to our house. I painted my own bedroom whenever I wanted and it was always different colors (like, all four walls…none of them matched) and I am thankful that my parents “allowed” me to express myself in that way. I stared “breaking the mold” when I was very young. I was a risk-taker. I cut all my hair off in late elementary because I could. I bought a $3,000 purple Chevy Caviler convertible in high school – my first lesson in “managing debt.” There was a lot in between, but from there it seems I was the first (and only) in my family to boldly move from my hometown and graduate from college. And since coming to Kalamazoo, the rest is history! Needless to say, I’m pretty glad I came!

Tomorrow is my 30th birthday and for some reason it seems like a “milestone” – like learning to walk or ride a bike. Will someone give me a skittle please? Sucker? Goodie bag? Gold star? I don’t know. I made it. The past 5 years, however, have been different from the first 25. I have learned to be a mommy, a stay-at-home-mommy, a working mommy, a wife, a homeowner, a manager, an event planner, a daughter-in-law (still working on this one), an involved community participant, a volunteer, a multi-tasker (beyond my wildest dreams), an entrepreneur, a pet-keeper, a fitted sheet folder, a gardener, a quilter, a knitter, a latte-lover, a tea drinker, a better friend, and above all, a lover of life. I love God and I love the life he has given me. His blueprint holds the truth. My truth. His blueprint holds my individualized fulfillment, success, and satisfaction. God has revealed himself to me in all the surrounds me daily – particularly my husband, our son, our church, our friends, our community and our home. We are SO blessed! Bring on the next decade because I’m ready!


The Enemy Knows Us…He Knows You. He Knows Me.

Today I read a daily devotional that struck me in a peculiar way. It said, “He turns up the volume on the desire for food in the life of the busy mother and he offers the ease and release of the uncontrolled tongue to the mother exhausted raising her children.” Woah. It went ever further to say, “What’s your weak spot? The best way to succeed in the face of temptation is to recognize just what it is that tempts you and turn it over to God. Get to know your enemy. He knows you.” Gulp. Let me break that down in how these words, inspired by Daniel 6, Ephesians 6: 10-18, and 1 Peter 5:8, made a lasting imprint.

I have never read Lysa TerKeurst’s book Made to Crave, but I should. From what I have gathered, it dives into learning to satisfy ourselves with God – not food. I do not usually eat when I am stressed, but occasionally I will. I tend to get certain cravings when things begin to feel chaotic (or out-of-order). I can handle busyness and chaos, but I must have order to accompany that. When I read, “He turns up the volume on the desire for food in the life of the busy mother”, I was instantly struck by the absolute truth in that reality. If I am overwhelmed or  have overcommitment, I will indulge. After all, “we deserve it”; right? I know I am not alone in this. The enemy does this to us, fellow-mommy friends. He seeks us at our weakest moments and he sneaks in delivering temptation that is sometimes difficult to resist – because we all know well that food can deliver temporary release (or comfort). That is why we often hear of “comfort foods” and that very statement has even become a catchy marketing tool! Lets not be led astray. Satan knows our weaknesses and he uses them to lead us away from God.

And the second part. Whew. Nothing like a smack in the face reminder from God himself. I blogged about this topic previously; confessing the truths of being an external processor and an external expresser. The tongue. This topic is talked about a lot throughout the bible because it is important. It is impossible to remain obedient to His Word with an unruly tongue and Satan knows that. He knows all well how to get me to release in a sinful way by simply using my words. When I am hurt, my words can be sharp and hurtful. In those moments of release, I am not being a follower of God. I am not seeking Him in that moment and I am not relying on Him to provide me the tools to make it through that moment. In moments like I described, the devil has a firm grip on my tongue. The enemy knows our weaknesses and where to sneak in and attack our faith. Don’t let him.

As women, as mothers, I feel like we can fight off the enemy in these moments of weakness by seeking and surrendering to God. At a time when I am overwhelmed or unorganized in my thoughts, I need to look to Christ rather than the causes of the worldly problem I am facing. I need to seek God for satisfaction, wisdom, ideas, and strength in those moments. We all sin. Every one of us. When I read this devotional today, God really tapped into my heart. I know He is preparing me to battle off the enemy who can and will attack us. He is preparing my heart for the moments that we all face as mothers. God wants us to turn these things over to him – practicing our faith. Be aware of your weakness and look out for the enemy; he comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).


Getting Started!

Complied here is less than half of our homeschool materials that I started to gather, separate, and organize today. Not pictured is the literature collection that corresponds with each of the 27 units, as well as our other full/separate reading curriculum. Today I got the “student pages” separated into 27 labeled files and I now will begin to collect any items to use for supplemental purposes. I love that this curriculum is hands-on. It provides children a wealth of knowledge about God’s love and His character and how that relates to life now. We get to explore fun, thematic science units interwoven with Biblical concepts and truth – all while exploring God’s Creation in nature. We want Noah’s “formal education” to begin with a firm foundation in God’s Word, so we will be starting our focus on Creation from Genesis. This is going to be fascinating! Noah was helping organize things today and he is equally as excited; “Can we begin tomorrow?” Lol, soon. VERY soon.

God continues to bless the direction we are headed with the decision we have made to homeschool (Read past posts regarding our journey HERE and HERE). I want to take time to thank our friends and family who have been continually supportive as we make these important decisions for our family. There is a wealth of information, support, and resources available to homeschooling families out there and we are thankful to all who provided us guidance and heartfelt suggestions. It has been so great to have you to celebrate these exciting beginnings with us. We love you all!