Archive | family life

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!

Trading in My “Somedays” for Today.

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Today I’m jotting down a few thoughts on perfection…and of the letting go enough to live the life I truly want for me and my family. I pray it will encourage you in some way. To live today. The days literally fly by my friends! With five sweet children born to me and my handsome man in ten years, with him making a career change and me starting a business all within the past five years, with homeschooling and picking up after babies and toddlers all day…things I always dreamt of keeping up with and the ideals I wanted to live out..well you can imagine, some things just take a back seat, the back burner, controlled by the tyranny of the urgent!

But somewhere in the middle of these fun, full, beautiful, crazy, colorful days, I keep thinking….We have to DO the things NOW that are going to define our family, build a legacy. We have to do them now, every year, every day, little by little. It’s the little things that add up to make a life. I don’t want to spend my days thinking “someday” and miss being the person I dreamt of being, building the traditions and memories with my family. It doesn’t mean “doing all the things”….but it does mean deciding on a few things that are important to us, letting go of the perfect time to get started with them, and living them now!

First of all, I *adore* this woman as one of my mentors through her books, blog posts and podcasts: Her admonition for Taking Time for a One Woman Retreat and a follow up to that post called How Are You Doing Caring For Yourself? are the perfect reminders to establish little moments into your yearly, weekly, and daily routines to keep your own soul refreshed and alive!!

It’s so important to take moments for rest, dreaming, and appreciating beauty~even in small ways! Sometimes I am able to do this alone (definitely needed!) and sometimes it’s good for me to draw my sons and daughters into those moments. (I’m trusting that this will become easier and more meaningful to them the older they get because honestly sometimes at this age and stage, if there’s more than one of them sharing these “moments” with me, it can be a little chaotic. 😀 ) So, for me currently, this looks like taking just 15 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea in the afternoon with a book. Not an hour, not two hours. FIFTEEN MINUTES! See! Letting go of the perfect “someday I’ll have hours of time to read…” and instead taking, yes TAKING, fifteen minutes to rest and refresh! It’s adding value to our lives NOW.

I wanted to share a recent example of how letting go of the perfect has worked out for me. I have had years of perfect scrapbook layouts, printing them off at the end of each year, to record our family “history”. I have also made baby albums for several of the children. But suddenly with “all the babies” and the business and another child entering kindergarten. All of those lovely albums came to a screeching halt. For over two years I’ve been thinking….SOMEDAY I’ll get back to those perfect layouts and make more albums! Someday. Someday. But right now I feel a little overwhelmed with the thought of first organizing all those years of photos taken in the meantime!! And I’ve been frozen into inactivity!

A couple of weeks ago the children pulled out the albums from the past and poured over them for nearly a week. Every waking moment in the family room or in their bedrooms was spent laughing at “how cute we were”, asking questions about faith and why we do certain things (prompted by pictures of my sister’s baptism), and remembering good times and even important people in our lives who have passed away! I decided then and there that I was going to stop waiting for SOMEDAY to print their “perfect” photo books. I’m still planning to make those someday, yes! But in the meantime, I want each of them to have a personal little albums of their baby and toddler years. I decided to do it TODAY.

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The easiest way for me to do that was to print little ChatBooks from my Instagram account! The amazing ChatBooks app allows you to do almost anything you need to do~to print photos from your phone or computer, from Instagram, pull in a few from your computer that aren’t on IG, edit your text, take it off completely, print the date or not….I mean it’s so quick and wonderful!! Not every cute picture that I want to print “someday” is on my IG account, but I decided that with the exception of one birthday photo and another family photo, I wasn’t going to allow myself to add extra photos from my computer….because then I would go down that whole I-need-to-make-this-perfect road and it would take me too long to complete and therefore it wouldn’t get done, defeating the whole purpose….

SO, I did it. Within the space of a few days I had designed and ordered a little album with approximately 100 pictures each for each of my four older children. Imperfect, but FINISHED. (This is a HUGE step for me!! Especially when it comes to photos and words and documentation!!)

BTW, have you watched the HILARIOUS Chatbook mom youtube videos??? I laugh every.single.time. Like~die laughing!! They’ve gone virial~over 50 million views~so I imagine you have!


My quality-time daughter was pouring over her book a couple of days ago and asked if we could snuggle in my bed that night and look through her book together. If you know me, my bed and bedroom are *nearly* holy ground and I don’t share them easily! But oh my goodness. I couldn’t turn her down. So that’s what we did. Flipping through those pages, admiring her as a baby and younger girl, she showed me her favorite pictures, and I got a little glimpse into her heart and a few of her current hopes and dreams! Priceless.

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Oh, and now the other children are each requesting “a night to snuggle in your bed, Momma, and look at my book.” I’m so glad I chose TODAY and not “someday” on that task! That I decided to be OK with imperfect for the joy of sharing these moments with them NOW.

I have other long-time dreams and ideals that I’m circling back around to this year. It’s been pressed upon my heart so strongly that these.are.the.days. to do them! So we’re just getting started on some of those. Maybe in the future I can share! For now, it’s going to take *daily* determination to make these dreams a reality!

Praying for you, my friends! Especially you mothers! May we take the time to choose the BEST dreams God has placed in our hearts, make room for them to grow and bloom…to live the life He has given us. Letting go of perfection and living TODAY!


** The Chatbooks link HERE is an affiliate link. Use it and further my album cause~or not. :) I think you might get a free one out of the deal!? But don’t hesitate to print those pictures TODAY if that’s one of those thing you’ve been meaning to do SOMEDAY. xoxo

That Time We Went Sun-Seeking

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” 

Just a little more than a month ago,
this family finally set out on a much-anticipated, long-awaited
RV “sun seeking” adventure to the {mostly} Sunny South! :)

The children were over-the-top excited about our chosen mode of transportation,
and I have to admit, that the parents were not far behind in expressions of enthusiam!
So with food, blankets, clothes for ALL types of weather, books,
and a “few” things besides . . . yes, even a kitchen sink . . . we set out!

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired
by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.”
– Mark Twain

Our first stop was only several hours down the road at our friends Pat & Amy’s house.
We have this thing about their place. It’s hard to pass by without stopping.
I think it began a few years ago when she served us an AMAZING breakfast,
and ever since, Phil thinks that it would be a *crime* to miss out
on whatever it is that she probably has baking at the minute we’re driving by! :)
And of course, her pizza, and other goodies did not disappoint!
And since Hope & Amy are like *this* in their kitchen and all creative endeavors . . .
it was only natural that they should be there too! What a great way to begin our journeys!

?????????????????????????????????????????????{the `plexus` gangs all here with our mini me girl bebes . . . }

Our second stop was with our friends, the Abarts in Tennessee.
I met their family last year and knew that my family would love getting to know them too . . .
The children played for hours, and Phil & I were completely blessed by our time in their home.
Their love for Jesus and Evangelism is contagious and a challenge!
We also got to see several other friends and eat curry together on Saturday night! :)
We loved meeting the Slaymans on Sunday morning as they talked
about on their plans to go to Mongolia . . . oh, and Annapurna’s ultra marathon accomplisments!
And we learned so much talking Plexus business with Jerit & Kristen for hours.
One thing about this business that I never expected are the AMAZING friendships
that God has blessed us with . . . so many quality people who I’m so grateful to know!

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{Burger Up in Franklin TN . . . I had the Ramsey Burger!
You *know* it’s gotta be named after, well, Ramsey, right?}

Following our weekend in Tennessee, we spent a day in Alabama,
with long-time friends, James & Charmaine!
We enjoyed our time of catching up a little, taking our families to a children’s museum,
the guys going to their boys’ baseball practice, Charmaine and I doing a little shopping,
and even getting in on James’ birthday celebration. :)  SO good to see them again!

Next stop was Sarasota!!
Up to this point, we had seen a bit of sunshine . . . but not too many warm temperatures!
So arriving in Florida with temperatures in the seventies was definitely a treat!!
We had a few days of cold following that, but we spent those days at Jungle Gardens,
Big Cat Habitat, and renting bikes so we could all get around . . .

The rest of our week in Florida was fabulously warm
~almost too warm for these very winterized bodies!
But we managed to adapt fairly quickly in spite of ourselves. 😉


The highlites of this trip for me were definitely the times
that we were able to connect with other people~ even if it was for just a bit!

We were with Phil’s Aunt Janie some since she generously allowed us to park our rig in her yard,
And we were able to enjoy a meal with my Aunt Jane and her family,
plus do a launch party/plexus event at her house, and meet more people!

From Florida we headed to Georgia to spend a day with friends, Ben & Clarita.
It’s always so good to spend time with them, and as the years go by,
I love the fact that our children continue to get to spend time together too!

We enjoyed talking business and eating together.
Clarita and I also snuck away for a bit to do treasure shopping! :)

It was the most beautiful sunny, spring morning . . .
and the children loved the friends and the space to play.

Next we continued out trek north to Abbeville where we spent the day
with my brother Joe and his lovely bride Veronica . . . oh! and the baby bump! :)
It was great to see their cozy little space that they have made into a beautiufl space!
Plus, we ladies got to do a bit of treasure shopping,
the guys went and toured the fireplace store,
and then we all did some crepe eating in downtown Abbeville,
and traveling over to Fairplay together to hold a Plexus informational event
with my Aunt Anna and a couple of my team members in that area.

Finally, after two weeks of travel and good times with family and friends,
as well as just hanging out together, it was time to head toward home.
I don’t know that any of us felt the need to come home again . . .
especially with a fresh foot of snow covering every square inch of Home. :)
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a
But we’ll do it again . . . and yes, we definitely would love to do it again in an RV!
Happy Spring everyone, and here’s hoping for warmer weather very soon!!

{{All of the pictures of our trip that didn’t get added here
are phone/instagram pictures which you can find @shellynissley, #ps2015roadtrip.}}

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