Staying Desperate For You, God

It’s here! This is the week of our biggest youth event of the year!

We host a youth conference every year at our church called The Stand. We cover this in prayer and do our best to spread the word via posters, social media, and  word of mouth. We want people to feel welcome to join us. This is our 7th year putting this event on. Anytime you do something more than a few times, you find yourself getting in a rhythm. You learn and grow and figure out what works and what doesn’t. So in reality, each year the event should be getting better and better….right?

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At least that is the kind of mind-set that we put ourselves in. Otis and I take this event very, very seriously. This is a HUGE deal to us. We start planning the next year, almost as soon as the current event ends. We have learned how to feed 100 students 5 meals over the course of a weekend with a pretty low-cost. We pick fun activities or outreach. We pray about and choose speakers. A Worship set list is selected and practiced.  We decide on colors and order shirts. This in a major investment! Not only financially, but so many volunteers invest their time.

It’s so exciting!!!!

This year feels a little different. We moved it up a week from the past years. I feel like that might be part of the difference…. there is more of a momentum from summer camp.

That’s not all  that is different though…

I usually fast before this event. I fast and pray, because I am expecting miracles and God moments and broken chains and restored lives. During my prayer time, the thing that keeps coming to my mind is quality over quantity.

People would tell you that if you have been doing something for seven years that in order for it to be viewed as “successful” that there should be a certain percentage of growth.  And it HAS been exciting watching our attendance grow over the years.

However, that is not my focus this year. Quality.  I would rather have 15 teenagers in a room really going after God than have 100 playing on their phones not paying attention to the service.

I am expecting miracles and healings. I am expecting salvations and baptisms in the Holy Spirit. I am expecting for lives to be changed and for young people to have an encounter with God that will change their lives forever.

My prayer is not for our room to be full or for attendance to be the highest ever. My prayer is for the Lord to bring the people to this event that are hungry for Him.

Our preparation doesn’t change whether 10 show up or 200. We are going to do everything to the best of our abilities.

I’m just not going to stress over “bigger and better”. I think that is one of the biggest traps that the enemy uses on us. We are too busy comparing to others  or even our own past, that we lose focus on what is right in front of us. I would be lying if I said that I have never been upset over a disappointing  turnout for an event.

Not this weekend though…we are preparing for revival. We are doing our part and will trust God with the rest.

Please join us in praying for us this weekend. Cover Otis and I … we always, always seem to face attacks the week of this event…..pray for our youth staff and band members….pray for our volunteers and speakers…pray for every student that steps foot on our campus. Go beyond that– pray for every car that drives by our campus!! ( One year at the stand, we had someone come up that said they were just driving by and could feel the presence of the Lord and had to turn around to come check it out).

I cannot wait to write my next post, which will be a recap of our weekend, and share with you all that the Lord did!!

I am choosing to stay desperate for God and trust that He will work everything else out!

Thank you for praying with us!!

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The Process of Trusting

“The Process of Trusting”….man, that is a hard thing to say out loud. I mean say it slowly and really think about the words. It is a lot easier to say than to actually do. We are all humans and we don’t usually just trust. Not completely anyway. I don’t mean giving people the benefit of the doubt or anything like that….I mean trusting someone completely. With Everything. With all of you….every secret and mistake. All.of.it.

My family has been going through a season of life where we are really learning to trust God like never before. Y’all I have been in church my entire life. I love Jesus. I trust Him. I have never had to rely on Him and fully trust Him like I have had to this past year, and especially the past couple of months.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  ~Matthew 6:25-34

These verses have been rolling around in my brain– and in my heart– for several weeks on a pretty repetitive basis.

God is our good, good father and He does want to take care of us. He wants us to bring our thoughts and worries to Him. He wants to be our first response when life gets overwhelming.

This is the exact opposite of what society tells us. Society tells us that we are supposed to have our lives planned out. We are supposed to have a certain size house, wear certain brands of clothes, and drive certain types of cars. The standard of this world says that you have to make a certain amount of money to feel peace. We are supposed to have savings accounts and retirement funds. We are supposed to take care of it all ourselves. There is nothing wrong with having these things- in fact it is quite responsible to have these things. However, do you put your faith in those things?

It is easy to trust God when you possess a certain level of control yourself.

When the opposite happens, and you have no control. You seriously have to rely on God. Your faith can and will  be taken to a whole new level. You are almost forced to grow. Growing is your only option- it is either rely on God and grow or give up and die.

Trusting God is easy AND trusting God is hard.  I hope I am not the only one that feels this way. Sometimes, it is so easy! The Lord is faithful. He knows everything and holds us in the palm of His hand. Why wouldn’t we trust Him completely? It is hard as well though. It is hard to give up that sense of control.  Isn’t it totally hilarious that we think that we have any ounce of control anyway!!! It can be so hard to resist the urge to try and take matters into our own hands. We want to solve the problems ourselves and make it all work out. We can sometimes feel like we only need to take the really “big” problems to God for Him to handle. After all, we can take care of the rest…right?

What happens when following God’s direction for your life leads you to a place where you have to rely on God with absolutely every aspect of your life.

That is a hard place to find yourself as a person in general, but it has been especially hard for me as a wife and mom. To not have that sense of control has certainly been an adjustment.

The Lord keeps nudging my heart and my spirit asking ‘but what about today?’

The things I tend to find myself worrying about are all things that might happen. I find myself praying and asking the Lord how in the world I am supposed to handle these different situations. He is constantly asking me ‘what about today?’ Are my worries coming to pass today? How is today looking? The Lord is meeting my needs day by day and taking care of my family in amazing ways.

When I worry about the future… next year…or next month….or even tomorrow, I get overwhelmed with fear and wonder what kind of person I am. I drive myself crazy thinking about how people might judge me if they knew certain areas of my struggle.

Trusting is a process. We have to practice. Sometimes we mess up and get it wrong. Each day is a fresh start. Every time we give up our limited control and expectations and give them over to God, our trust in Him increases!

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God is not going to direct you out of His plan. He always sees the next step before you even realize that it is time for the next move.

Trust Him. Over and Over again. Make the choice to rely on Him with every decision that you face!

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. Psalm 37:5

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8

 

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Storms Reveal A Lot

No one likes to face storms in life. They can be big or small, but they seem to leave some kind of scar on you once they are over.

I have sat in front of my laptop to write this post four times in the last few weeks. I never made it past the title. I have juggled so many emotions. Storms will reveal a lot about a person….just like they do a tree. If a tree is weak, it will break in a storm. If it lacks the proper root system, it will be uprooted and tossed around in a storm. However, if a tree is strong & has proper support– it will stand tall. If the support goes deep then it can withstand the forces that would cause a weaker tree life-threatening damage.

Which category do you fall in? When a storm comes, what does it reveal about your character?. Is your foundation strong? How deep do your roots go? Does a storm break you? Do you run in fear? It is natural to feel pressure and stress, but the Bible talks about having a peace that passes all understanding. Anyone that has a relationship with Christ can hold on to that truth. We still feel the storm, but have the strength to stand in the midst of it.

We have been in the midst of a storm. Well, honestly, it feels like we have been living in a storm for quite a while now.

We have learned that even when you think you have no strength left– there is always a little bit more for you to rely on.  That strength you need when you feel your most desperate and most vulnerable comes directly from God. He may use friends or family to encourage you and lift you up. He is the source of true hope.

My husband’s mother recently passed away after 15 days in the hospital fighting cancer. A 15 day stay in the hospital with all of us shuffling schedules to make sure someone was with her all the time– that in itself was stressful. To face the reality that she didn’t seem to be getting better and then to talk with your kids to prepare them and make them aware of how serious this was — also difficult and stressful.

Nothing could prepare us for actually losing her. I watched my husband show such strength. I stood beside him and was there to help in any way that I could. I watched as he checked on all the other family members and offered to get them tissues or bottled water at the viewing. As a pastor, this is what he was used to doing for families at this time. He showed such strength and support for everyone else. I sat in the chapel as he officiated his own mother’s funeral and wondered how in the world he had found the courage to do that.

But I know the answer to that.

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When we face the storms in life, we can rely on HIS strength. We can rest in HIM.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”   ~2 Corinthians 4:16

“But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble.”         ~ Psalm 37:39

I can live my life with confidence that when storms come….God is there….He is my strength. I can handle anything that comes my way, as long as my focus stays on God. No matter how intense the storm may be….even when I feel like I am about to fall. I can trust in HIM and know that he controls the storm.

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We are still going through some hard times. Although one storm has passed and another seems to have come in right behind it, my family can stand firm. We can know that in the midst of hard times, He is faithful. Keeping our eyes on HIM will be our protection no matter how severely  the storm rages around us.

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My first few weeks with Essential Oils

If you know me, then you know that I have been interested in essential oils for quite some time. It just took me a while to commit and go ahead and order the starter kit.

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Over the past few years, I have had a bottle or two and used them a lot. I have just never had the variety of oils at my fingertips, like I have since ordering the starter kit. My first instinct was to jump right in and research what each type of oil was most used for. I pictured having a color coded chart hanging on the inside of my cabinet.

I stopped myself from taking it that far….isn’t that what Pinterest is for!?!?

I have reached for the oils many, many times for many, many uses. I know that I am not using them all to their full potential yet. I just didn’t want to receive my kit, go nuts making mixes and sprays and cleaners, etc….then have a bunch of empty bottles and have to start all over. I wanted to kind of take it slow and just research as needed and try out each oil in my diffuser to see how I liked it, without necessarily knowing what it was used to treat.

I thought that I would share a post letting you know what oils I have used and how I have used them during my first month!

  1. My Diffuser — I have loved the diffuser that came with my kit. We have it in our kitchen and enjoy letting it run. When I first got my kit, I wanted to just try a different oil per day in the diffuser without knowing what it was for. I would not necessarily recommend this. haha. On my third day, I put an oil in to try and moments later came into the kitchen wondering what smelled so bad. To me, it smelled like old man. It was the essential oil. The type that I had put in the diffuser is commonly used for IBS and nausea. I just made sure to not put that in my diffuser rotation anymore!! Other than that one time, we have loved the diffuser. My husband wants us to get one for every room.
  2. Health Purposes–Our son suffers from pollen allergies pretty severely. He is normally on three types of medicine this time of year just to be able to function. This was one of the main reasons that I wanted to go ahead and order the kit. I had researched the uses of essential oils to help with allergies. We started him on the oils and kept his meds close by. He has gone almost two weeks with no meds and only using the oil mixture. We combine three drops of each- lemon, lavender, and peppermint. I started applying it to the back of his neck, but he did not like the smell. He said it was too close to his nose! So, I started applying the oils to the bottom of his feet first thing in the morning and just make sure that he puts on a pair of socks. It has worked wonders.                                                                           During this time period, our daughter also woke up sick one morning. She was throwing up constantly and  could not keep any medicine down. I pulled out that same funky smelling oil that I had regretted putting in my diffuser and rubbed in on her stomach. She did not throw up again after I put the oil on and was her normal self by that afternoon.                                                                                                  A week or so later, I  happened to step on a piece of glass one day in my kitchen. I dropped a pie plate and was stepping forward to try a catch it, which resulted in my stepping on a rather large piece of glass. My husband came home and had to take me to the doctor to ensure that there was no more glass in my foot. The doctor cleaned my foot and wrote me a prescription for antibiotics. I just came home and applied oils twice a day. I’m all good now. 🙂
  3. Cleaning — I have not really gone into detail researching this category too much. I know some people make all of their cleaning products with essential oils. As you can tell from the above paragraph, it has been a busy time for us health-wise and I have enjoyed using the oils for those purposes. One thing that I have been doing and love, is to put a couple of drops of lavender essential oil in the filter of my vacuum cleaner. It makes my house smell amazing!!
  4. Skin Care– This is another area where I have tons of ideas pinned on Pinterest, but have not really started using them in my day to day routine. One thing that I have been doing every day since I received my oils involves Frankincense. I already apply a moisturizer with sunscreen every morning. I simply started adding one drop of Frankincense oil to my moisturizer.  This oil is supposed to promote healthy radiant skin while slowing the signs of aging.                                                                                                                                                           That is just about all for my first month! I am looking forward to sharing more of what I learn and use as I continue on this journey!!  Let me know what your favorite use is,  so I can try it out as well!!

 

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Great Homeschool Convention

We spent this weekend in Greenville at the Great Homeschool Convention. We have never been to this event before, but I had heard about it a few years ago on social media. This particular convention is held in five different regions across America, and the location for the southeast meeting was SC.  When I looked into it, the price was very affordable, it was not too far away, and it would only require Otis to miss one day of work. All of these facts made me think that we should definitely give it a try.

I signed us up and had no idea what to really expect. I was a little nervous. I worried about us feeling out of place or being bored, plus I had never heard of any of the speakers. I just figured oh well. If it is awful, we will just skip out and go explore Greenville.


While we did spend some time on Friday afternoon checking out downtown, the convention was fabulous. It was great and we plan to go back next year.

The convention runs from Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. We arrived Thursday and received our schedules and immediately  started mapping out what sessions we wanted to attend. The day is full of one hour sessions, with each block of time having 8-15 sessions to choose from. There is a 30 minute gap between each session, so you have time to get from one room to another, have a bathroom break, or grab a drink. There was also a huge exhibit hall with almost 200 booths available that offered anything you can think of. There were tons of resources for sale, lots of freebies, curriculum options to browse, and people to talk to.

It wasn’t all work. There were booths with fun shirts for sale, and lots of educational books and games. In fact, while I am typing this….my kids are supposed to be straightening their rooms and getting ready for bed. Instead, they just came out of the same room and announced that they had just built a battery powered telegraph from a kit that they received at the exhibit hall.


I was also surprised at the type of information taught and given at the sessions. Yes, there were sessions devoted to organizing your day, writing lesson plans and getting your middle school student to understand math. Most of the sessions were focused on parenting, which shouldn’t have surprised me. Parents are the homeschool teachers!!   This is a Christian convention, so several of the sessions that I attended included prayer. One of them even had us all stand and spend a song together in worship.

Just to give you an idea of some of the topics covered, here is a list of the sessions that we attended over the three days-

-How to build a Foundation of Faith in Your Children

-Teach Your Kids How to Trust The Bible!

-Failure & Fatherhood- The Story of a Homeschool Family Feud

-Photography Foundations- Principles That Will Improve Any Photo

-Handling Girl Drama & Relational Issues

-Blood and Morality:The Tradition of Adventure Writing for Boys

-Awake: Loving Your Life As A Homeschool Mom

-Raising Disciples Who Disciple Others

-How Homeschoolers Are Changing The World

-Miracles in American History- Amazing Answered Prayer in Past Crises, Wars, Plague- from Revolution to War of 1812, Civil War, World Wars to Apollo 13

-The Role of Beauty in Homeschooling (or how to build your cathedral)

 

I am not saying that all of these sessions were life changing. However,  a couple pierced my heart and they all included pearls of truth/encouragement.  I came home with fresh ideas and realizations of some areas where I can do better. I also came home encouraged. Being surrounded with all of these people that are doing what you do…. Hearing their chatter and realizing that you are not alone in some of your struggles and that it is normal to face some of these struggles was encouraging to me.


I was so blessed to be able to go to this weekend and to have my family with me. It was a small investment that had huge benefits. One of the important, repetitive truths that  was shared at convention was that it is important to invest in yourself. To remember that one of the reasons we homeschool is because we love our kids so much. When they see us living life and being passionate about something, it will inspire them. I want to inspire them, not just make sure that every math lesson is complete!

 

 

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May we never lose our wonder

Sometimes I stand in the back of our youth room during worship and wonder what we are doing wrong. I see some students and leaders worshipping. I see many that are not. I see many that are standing with their arms crossed or hands in their pockets. I know that it is not my fault per se- that I should not take it personally. However, I do. I do feel responsible.  Then I feel guilty, I have been that same way. All sorts of excuses can creep into my mind or anyone’s mind for that matter.

I don’t like this song. I don’t like the style or voice of this singer. It’s cold in here. My phone is more interesting. The person sitting beside is more interesting. The words on the screen aren’t right.

There are so many distractions…so, so many. Life is amazing, but it is full of a bazillion details. These little details can race around in our mind 24/7. I don’t want it to be like this. It is not always, but sometimes  I have to be VERY PURPOSEFUL  in my worship time. It is very easy to be distracted and allow my mind to wander. It can wander to bills, laundry, kids, stress, etc…

Isn’t God deserving of so much more than that?

Psalm 72:18-19New Living Translation (NLT)

 Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel,
    who alone does such wonderful things.
 Praise his glorious name forever!
    Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen

We are so spoiled. We are free to attend church and  worship freely. People in other parts of the world are attacked or murdered simply for trying to attend a worship/church service. I have roughly two dozen  Bibles in my home….others are smuggling Bibles in and ripping pages out to share one Bible among a village.

We might hear these stories from a missionary speaker or read them in a book. We might even shed a tear. Our hearts might be torn as we go on a  missions trip. The question is, what about a month later? Are you back to your regular routine? Do we take the presence of God for granted? Do we see His wonder as no big deal?

I don’t want to ever lose my wonder. A wonder that is so deserving. A wonder that gave everything for me. A wonder that created me with a purpose and had been faithful over and over again.

Yet, I’m too busy or proud or popular or spoiled to give Him my all for thirty minutes during worship.

Shame on us– shame on me.

Deuteronomy 4:39New International Version (NIV)

 Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.

I love this song. It was on repeat in my mind as I stood in the back of our youth room feeling discouraged….

May we never lose our wonder
May we never lose our wonder
Wide eyed and mystified
May we be just like a child
Staring at the beauty of our King

Cause you are beautiful in all your ways
King of Kings
You are beautiful in all your ways

 

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January 2017 Reading

I am several days behind on getting this post out. Oh well- life is busy!! During the  month of January, I reached my goal of two books per month and exceeded it. To be honest, although our schedule was packed full- different events offered more reading time this month than usual. For instance, our son is playing football. I always have a book in my purse to read during his practices. We also went to a minister’s retreat  and my husband and I always tend to read through a book or two when we are out of town. Not having laundry to fold and being able to read for an hour in the afternoon is nice! In addition, we were blessed this month with the opportunity to work a concession stand to raise money for Speed the Light. (if you have never heard of STL, you can read more about that at http://stl.ag.org/about/). So every Friday night this month, we have spent five hours setting up and working a concession stand. We usually brought a book for any downtime here as well!!


The First Book was Extravagant by John Andrews. This book breaks down the story found in Luke 7:36-50, my Bible titles it ‘Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman’. If you have spent any time in church, you are probably very familiar with this passage. This book talks about the act of worship and how this passage says so much about true worship. Some of the passages that I highlighted while reading were-

“If a lifestyle of worship is left to the mercy of the spontaneous, then what should be usual will become occasional. “

“When we focus on what we’re giving away, we’re already off target.”

“Her actions were the expression of her faith, not the means to it.”

The second book was The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. I just love them. I love their show and their style. I really love their story and their genuine faith. Although I don’t have any quotes to share, since this is not really a take notes and journal kind of book. This read did have fabulous stories about  these people that so many of us have come to adore. If you are a fan, you should absolutely get this book!!

The third book was Preparing him for the other woman by Sheri Rose Shepherd. This book is great for anyone that has a son. A lot of the concepts talked about are ones that I have heard many times before…sometimes it is just nice to be reminded. Some of the notes that I marked while reading were-

“Your voice and your words are among the most governing influences you have in your sons life.”

“Let your words be a legacy passed from generation to generation.”

“There is a big difference between teaching kids about God and connecting them to Him.”

The fourth book was Overflow by Scotty Gibbons. This book is subtitled ‘a student’s guide to giving’ and that is exactly what this book is. It is full of testimonies and examples of the Lord’s faithfulness. It is a wonderful resource that Otis and I have both read as well as passed on to a few of our students. Some of the parts that I highlighted in this book were-

“When you open your life up to the overflow, you are blessed, others are blessed, and God gets all of the glory.”

“You are an empty container and God is an abundant source.”


The fifth book is When God doesn’t fix it by Laura Story. If you listen to Christian Radio at all, then you recognize that name and can most likely sing her songs. I was shocked to read this book and to actually hear about all that she and her family have gone through. You have this idea of artists being glamorized. You might think that is an ideal job– hello, getting paid to worship God?!?!? I had no idea about all that she has faced. She talks about the trials that she has endured and how she has overcome them. She is even honest about mistakes along the way.  Here are some of my favorite passages-

“Contentment begins with asking how God might use my brokenness for His glory.”

“My story is my greatest offering.”

“God can redeem not only our life, but every season of our life.”

The sixth and last book that I read this month was Unqualified by Steven Furtick. We are big fans of his at our house and enjoy listening to his sermons. We have also read several of his books. This would be a great read for anyone. If we are all honest, we can admit that it is so very easy to fall into the mind trap of wondering if we are good enough or if the things that we are doing even matter. I highlighted A LOT in this book, but I will only share a few–

“God knows your true identity- the real you- and He loves you just as you are.”

“God wants to do something beyond your abilities, and He is far less intimidated by your failures and limits than you are.”

“Our weaknesses don’t disqualify us. They actually qualify us even more, because they are the portals through which God’s power permeates our lives.”

“We are never so awesome that success is inevitable, and we are never so terrible that success is impossible.”

 

A few months ago is when I started including a few quotes from each book in my blogs. Usually, it is a quote that will grab my attention and make me want to read a book. I hope that beyond holding myself accountable… that by listing each book and a few thoughts, maybe these posts will inspire your next read!!


 

 

 

 

 

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Homeschooling is hard

 

We have been homeschooling for five years now. It is hard to believe that it has been that long. I had no idea what I was getting into when we first started. I mean, I had researched online and talked with a ton of people. However, it is kind of like having a child….you can never be fully ready until you just do it. I remember our first year. I was so scared that I was going to mess our daughter up. I made all these fancy lesson plans and had long, exhausting days planned out. In our first few weeks, we were having school from like 8am-3:30 or so. It was crazy. Our Pastor’s wife is a teacher and I asked her a few weeks into that school year how many tests her class had taken so far. She just smiled at me and said not to worry….that I could catch up and then told me that they were about to take their fourth test of the year. I then told her that we had already taken thirteen!! She laughed and encouraged me to pace myself before we were out of work by Christmas!! A lot has changed between then and now. We are more relaxed in our day. We have added little brother to the school mix and homeschool is the only school that he has ever known. We have learned together what works best for each very different student. I would say that I am a bit more confident. I don’t worry so much about what other people think. I know that the curriculum we have chosen is a great one and I know what my kids are learning. I can see where they are struggling. I can use real moments in real life- like trips to the grocery store- as teaching moments.

One thing that has not changed in the five years that we have been doing this is the feedback that we get. We constantly hear comments like ‘that must be so nice’. It is!! I love it and would not trade these last five years for anything. My kids might bicker and fight, but then I also catch those moments when Gary wants to be a part of Allie’s science lesson and so she takes the time to explain it to him. It is such a blessing and I frequently joke about all of the perks, like planning our own field trips and schedule flexibility.  I cannot begin to tell you how nice that it has been to be able to travel with Otis and to book vacations around the cheapest rates. We also get to serve as a family. Our kids are usually the first volunteers working when we have a youth event– they are the ones shopping with us and unloading groceries and supplies. We adore being able to serve as a family unit. The perks are fabulous, but they are not reason enough to choose to homeschool.


I have lost count of how many times over the last five years that I have gone in my room and burst into tears. This is a huge responsibility. Being a mom alone comes with stress and worry and tears…. imagine being the mom and the teacher. Most parents send their kids to school and trust that the school is doing its  job. I have nothing against that. 99% of my family and friends do that very thing.

We truly believe that the Lord wanted us to homeschool. It was never even on my radar….not something that we ever talked about. Seriously- it was never brought up. When Allie was finishing her second grade year at a private school, we faced a fork in the road and we had to make a decision. We prayed about our options and homeschool became a very clear one. We re-evaluate every year. We talk to our kids and make sure they are still happy. We pray as a family. So far, this is where God has us and it has been a blessing to our family.


That does not mean that it hasn’t been scary and hard. Like I said before, it brings a whole new level of responsibility to the growth of your kids. As Allie has gotten older, I have worried about being fit to teach her some of the math and science lessons. It has been a long time since I was in 7th grade!! Thank goodness for online resources and YouTube. If we are stuck on something, we can look it up and learn together. Allie went to a great daycare, so she went into kindergarten being ahead of the game. The school that she attended for three years was a fabulous school, so we know that she had a great foundation. She had already learned how to read and write. The scariest thing for me her first year of homeschool was teaching her cursive.  Gary on the other hand has been completely with me. He did not have that foundation. I have to be honest though, when I sit back and see him reading– I get excited. I taught him that! My kid can read and write because I taught him! That is a confidence booster!! When he is struggling with something though- it weighs heavy on my heart. I worry about what I might be doing wrong and try to come up with different ways to teach him. That sits on our shoulders as his parents. There is no “letting the teacher deal with that”….we are the teachers.


Homeschooling has been one of the great privileges of my life. I spend more time with my kids than most parents get to. It is not a quick fix. You had better make sure that the Lord called you to walk this path, because you will certainly need His strength and wisdom to make a way. There are hard times, but the rewards are priceless.

I do not know how long that we will be on this particular journey, but as long as the Lord allows us to….I will enjoy every rewarding and difficult step that we take.

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Relaunch Time

Since I am home more now, I have been able to spend some time doing one of my favorite things- photography. I have always loved photography and am often counted on to handle the pics at birthday parties, special events, weddings, etc.

A few years ago, I even started making a little side money from booking jobs here and there. I always counted it a huge success if I had three paying gigs over the course of a year. This made me start to take my hobby a little more seriously. I ordered business cards and made a Facebook page for my “business”.  I felt kind of official….and then I slacked off. I wasn’t just out looking for things around me to photograph. I was only waiting on the call or text for a money making possibility. This pretty much zapped all of the creativity out of me. Then once we started homeschooling, schedules became more difficult to juggle. Between working full time, homeschooling and the time that we devote to ministry… there wasn’t much left. In fact, I had turned down a few jobs because I simply did not have the time or energy.

Now that I am not working full time, the opportunity has presented itself a few times to start up a little more. I was asked recently for my website so that a potential customer could take a peak at my work. I quickly threw together a shared page on a  photo sight and sent them that link. It worked and I got the job, but I knew that it was not how I wanted to be represented.

In the past, I have shared some of my photos on this blog. I felt like it was time to start a new page, just for photography. Now, customers can have a place to browse and I have a spot devoted only to that part of my life/work.

The new site is 

https://juliefulfordphotography.com/

if you would like to subscribe and follow along! 😁😁


 

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Taking the Time

Time is such a crazy thing. We all have the same amount of time each day. No one can possess any more or any less. Time truly is a irreplaceable treasure, yet we tend to throw it away so easily. We can waste hours and hours of it online or staring at our phones. If you are my daughter, you can somehow spend hours looking up random funny videos of cats or dogs.  Sometimes being purposeful with our time can seem like such a chore. However, it is that time of year when most people are making goals and promises about how they are going to prioritize their time a little different than in the past.

This past week was the Assembly of God’s week of prayer. They hosted a special theme and emphasis each day. Our church participated by having an hour of prayer from 12-1pm daily. We already have Monday Night and Tuesday Morning Prayer, but this was on top of those meetings. So, just to make this clear to you- we very specifically set aside an hour every single day to meet together and pray.

Obviously, my family and I are Christians. We pray most mornings before Otis goes to work. We pray with the kids before they go to bed. We pray before meals. We pray before we start our school day. We pray when we hear bad news or when someone asks. We even have a habit in our family of praying when we are passed by a firetruck, police car, or EMS with their sirens going. My point is this- we pray.

The first day of our hour long prayer this week was hard for me. An entire hour….all at one time…with no distractions. No kids or youth to pray for or with. No guarding the door or watching for parents.  There was absolutely nothing there grabbing for my attention. Just me and God. I found my thoughts wandering and me wanting to check the time on my phone.

That’s horrible.

That is hard to honestly admit and even harder to type.

As day two came, I kind of realized what a treasure this time was. Something that my husband has taught me over the past few years is the importance of listening during prayer. . We talk and talk and pray and pray, but never take the time to just be quiet and listen to God. He does speak to us. We are just sometimes too busy to hear it.

This week I kept thinking about the words to that song The more I seek you by Kari Jobe.

The more I seek you,
The more I find you
The more I find you, the more I love you

I want to sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat
This love is so deep, its more than I can stand
I melt in your peace, its overwhelming

The line that kept playing over and over in my heart was the “lay back against you and breathe, feel your heart beat.”

I felt like this week I had the time to not only listen to God, but to just be in His presence. Resting in His presence is such a sweet thing. Taking the time to just be with Him. You know why I had that amazing time this week to be in His presence? Because I scheduled it. I planned it and marked it on my calendar. I worked my day around it. School ran a little later for us each day, because this was made a priority.

Shouldn’t it be like that every day?

Now I know that with work schedules that not everyone is able to just devote an hour in the middle of the day to prayer. As wonderful as that sounds, it doesn’t always work out that way. If we are all honest though, I’m sure that we can take a look at our 24 hours and see some room to give God more. 


Don’t rush through your prayer time. Make time to listen for His voice and rest in His presence. It makes all of the difference in the world!!

” For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,  for my hope is from Him.” ~Psalm 62:5


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