Author Archive | Shelly

How I’m Simplifying My Life This Month

I am not a minimalist but the more full my life becomes with children, friends, relationships… the more I crave simplicity around me! I am not great at being organized, but I love when things are in order! As wife to a guy who likes order, mom to five children between the ages of 1-10, home educator of those five children, a business team leader, and all the “normal” things that come along with being the CEO of a household, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to simplify our life!

simplify my life
{they keep me on my toes!}

FullSizeRender 5{Slow breakfast with Gramma & Grampa earlier this month…
Bible reading, blessings pronounced over us, hymns, story telling, and much laughter!}

The fact that I have young, busy, energetic children can make nearly every day a whirlwind of flurry + activity.  I crave beauty and slow, rest and calm, clean and bright! :) It feels as though I must constantly curate our life and schedule to find a flow that works for us in all the changing seasons and ages, and that allows my mind and heart to be at rest. Simplifying our surroundings and schedule, so that we, the people who live here, have a place that allows us to thrive + grow.

Three things that are saving me right now:

Just Saying “No”
It’s hard to say no, but the more you do it, I think the more that muscle strengthens! :) And the freedom you find when saying no becomes almost addictive. :) This year has been one of evaluating the people and activities that really matter to us as a family! It’s easy to want to do “all the things” and please “everybody”. But we all know we run ourselves ragged going down that path! I think too that everyone has a different capacity for how much they can do personally or as a family, before the fun turns to stress~simply because there is too much going on, and not enough margin for rest and personal time at home.

We had to evaluate what we want our family future to look like and go from there. Family culture isn’t something you create in a moment, but a lifetime of moments and days…the feeling you get when you look back on your years, the memories you made, and the values you are passing on to your children. This year, and especially this season, we have said no to quite a few good, amazing things simply because the calendar already had a few days blocked off … and we have learned that we operate best with space between events. Rushing from one activity to the next does not lend itself to peace for most of us, especially when it involves schlepping sweet young ones around!

We’re even saying no to a week in Florida between Christmas and The New Year this month because we *love* to be in our own home for the holidays. Trial and error, baby! Last year we had that week packed with extended family on both sides, driving here and there and out of state, and this year we said, no. We’re staying put. Any other time of year, we’d be there in a flash, but like I said, something about Christmas at home, preparing for a new year, etc ~at least for now~feels restful and right for us.

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{Finding children fully engrossed in books all around my house is one of my favorite things!!
My reward for reading to them and teaching them to read!! 😉 }

Unsubscribing to the One Million Emails
Ok, well it wasn’t a million, but last week it dawned on me that it was once again that time to unsubscribe from all the extra emails coming into my inbox. Placing online orders, subscribing to an e-course here or there….and then with Black Friday + Christmas happening, it seemed like every business and person I was subscribed to was sending me double and triple mailings every day!! Talk about brain overload! So I sat down one morning and unsubscribed to over 30 companies! Thirty! I still love, will read and/or purchase from them in the future, but I know who and where they are when I need them! For now, I just needed more space/rest in my inbox *and* my brain.

Simplifying the Dinner Party
Loooong have I admired several groups of friends who host dinner parties in their homes every month, and what appears to be an elaborate, child-free, intimate, quiet affairs! :) For nearly two years my friends and I have talked about doing this. I mean, we REALLY wanted to do it! About that time we each had a baby boy and neither of us had babysitting readily available, so we shelved the idea for “next year”. Next year came and not much in our lives had changed. So again we waited. Finally this year, we put dates on the calendar. Life is full and those couple of dates got canceled~mostly because our expectation of what was *supposed* to be felt like too much to pull off! Finally, we said to one another. “Let’s just DO it….but simplify our expectation of what a fancy schmancy dinner party looks like! We’ll include our children (bye bye to the stress of finding sitters for 4, 5, and 5 kiddos!!)~ we will simply have soup (prepared by the host) with salad, bread, and dessert brought in by the others.

Voila! Best.Thing.Ever. Just like that, because we allowed our dinner party to be its own thing, and not have to look like someone else’s dinner party…. because we acknowledge our stage of life and decided to work with it instead of wait til it’s over… we are having a marvelous time each month together. Our children are typically 😉 well behaved anyways + best friends, so they love to be included. And can you beat a meal of soup and a few extras in the winter?? I imagine our spring and summer parties to include grilling instead of soup, but we can definitely cross that bridge when we get there! :)

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{Throw back to the “naturally slow” days! :) We are blessed to have spaces where our children can wander + play}

And that’s it….just a few things making my life a little more restful and joy-filled! I’d love to know how you bring a little more simplicity into
your life!

Much Love & Merry Christmas!!

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How to Build Courage in Sons + Daughters

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Open doors… even ones opened just a little are before each of us! Sometimes we have to wrestle them open all the way to do the thing Jesus is calling us to~and it takes unbelievably hard, grueling work!

Have you read about Gladys Aylward? Oh my goodness, it’s phenomenal how she pushed open a door slammed shut in her face by men, so that she could do the thing she was passionate for and called to do. We are studying Early American History this year, but we had a couple of books from last year’s study of the world that we hadn’t read yet, and I just couldn’t leave this one behind! I grew up (thinking) I knew her story through a movie based on her life, but it really is nothing like her real story!! Her depth of courage and character, all that she endured and prayed and accomplished is in the book! If you need a true heroine for you or your daughters, read “Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime.” Even my ten-year old son was on the edge of his seat begging for another chapter + my older ones gasped at the courage displayed in a few of the accounts given. Best kind of #thriller 😍 .

Phil and I often pray that in these increasingly dark days, our children will be equipped to love boldly and stand firmly for Christ. We know that this will only happen by the grace of God on each of their lives, but feel strongly that we are called and equipped to raise them up purposefully in a way that will strengthen them for their callings!

Teach them to enjoy hard work. Physical work in daily chores, plus walks or hikes, pushing them to do more than they thought they could (age appropriate) builds character!!

Know the Word of God: Reading + Memorizing Scripture builds their faith and gives them truth to reference when a difficult situation arises in their life.

Read Living Books: This gives amazing courage and sense of adventure with God by reading these stories of Christians who have gone before us ~ these are a few of the most important things we are discovering!

When faced with possible death at the hands of communist rulers Gladys prayed, “If I must die, let me not be afraid of death, but let there be a meaning, Oh God, in my dying.”  And isn’t that what we all want?! To live and die with purpose and meaning!! My children gasped aloud when we came to the part where Gladys witnessed the questioning of two hundred Chinese students as to whether they would pledge allegiance to a communist party or to Christ. When the each chose Jesus, the general ordered that they all be harassed and pressured by fellow students for a month, and then asked them again. This happened several times, and finally, they were faced with certain death if they didn’t deny Jesus. The first young woman questioned, replied, “Sir, three moths ago I thought Jesus Christ was real, and I thought the Bible was true. Now after three months of your hatred, I KNOW Jesus Christ is real, and I KNOW the Bible is true.”

Now that’s the courage I want in my own heart, and of course that of my children!

“I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.”

If you have favorite books and historical characters (and other tips) for building courage in your children, I’d love to hear about them!

Rainy Day Work

Her face will stay with me for a long time, haunting my days~waking me in the nighttime hours. A beautiful young woman with the most gorgeous skin tone and curly brown hair~walking determinedly, loudly spouting off her reasons of why she had to do it. There was no other possible way.

The rain fell steadily all morning. Wrapped in ponchos and sheltered beneath large umbrellas, we were wrapped securely in the knowledge that we were in the right place for this moment. Doing the work of speaking truth, pleading for the cause of the children, and for those who walked not three feet in front of us, most times herded, and what could safely be called intimidated along by two strong men, into a dark and bloody place. The desire to preserve and save a life~upwards of twenty lives a day~does not always end in success. Sometimes you simply obey~and trust~that your presence fills a place in the gap, that for today nobody crossed the threshold of that terrible place without knowledge of the truth, without causing a moment of “pause” in which they could have chosen life. The rain pouring down felt like a welcomed friend, crying down the tears welling inside that hadn’t yet found their way out.

Her baby would have been absolutely beautiful. It hurts beyond words to know what has happened to that little boy or girl. Ripped apart, piece by piece, from the safest place on earth. Oh, Jesus, forgive us. Reassembled on a tray to be sure every part of a precious human being has been removed. God, how did we ever get to a place where mothers allow this crime to be done against their bodies and their descendants? To be thrown out with tonight’s garbage. The very creation of a Holy, tender, righteous Lord~ How, Jesus? For the first time in my life, my arms feel empty because another woman’s baby has died. Back in the shelter of my home and in the arms of a man who loves me and values children, and LIFE, my tears join the rain. Deep sadness for all we have lost. Grief for the grief she will undoubtedly walk through after today.

One of her final questions as she passed through that dirty glass door, half covered with black paper was “You’d get up in the night with this baby!? Really!?”

We’ll already be awake in the night, love. A beautiful brown-skinned, curly-haired baby to carry us through would have been no trouble at all.

“Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children…” Lamentations 2:19

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