I have gardening on the brain.  I have this little plot out in the back that is begging to be planted with vegetables. 

Trouble is, it is shadier than my last garden spot, and I am a bit worried about what will grow well in a shaded garden.

Our weather here gets up above 100 in the summers but usually hovers in the high 90’s. 

Anyone have any advice on what to plant or what to avoid? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Thoughts on the new house

First I must begin with a few words about my old house.  I loved that house.  I loved the size of it, I loved the yard that was nearly an acre.  I loved that we were supposed to be buying it… and that someday we could renovate it and make it even better. 

If you had asked me in January, those are the things that I would have said about my old house.

2 weeks of moving and cleaning that property, have changed my tune.

We are now in the new house.  The hotel feel of the place has worn off and everyone can find the silverware without opening every drawer.  We only have about 5 boxes to find homes for. 

I didn’t want to like this house…. because I was pretty emotionally tied up in the other one.  But the other day, as I sat on my couch looking out the 3 great bay windows in my front room, I was struck by how comfortable this new house is. 

In the 4 weeks we have been here, people are over here all the time!  I think in the 6 years of the other place only a handful of people visited a few times, most of them related to major holidays.  This house has spaces for conversation and work.  It seems to fit us like a pair of favorite jeans.

I do miss my old neighbors, they are great people.  I don’t miss the house anymore, this one I am ready to call home for a good long time


What is etched on your heart?

Have you ever taken the time to look back on the significant moments in your life…..  the ones that seemed so ordinary at the time, but in reality turned out to be life changing?

That is what Jill Kelly has done in her book Etched…. Upon my Heart.  Longing to share the hopes and highlights and struggles of her journey to find the Lord and by His side afterward with her girls; she wrote this book.  She has taken those moments in time and with a transparency that is uncommon these days she shares them with her readers.

A she walks you thorough the learning moments in your life you become reflective with her.  You begin to draw on your own memories and see where you too have learned; you begin to see the moment of learning that are etched on your own heart.

As I have read this book I have been challenged to look back upon the things I have done when I was not following Christ as gifts.  They have been important in my journey to who I am today, and who I am in the process of becoming.  Each of these moments and what i have learned from them are my legacy to my children.  Yes, even the moments that were bad. 

If you are like me, prone to beat yourself up mentally for your past.  I recommend that you read this book.  It is a sweet salve to the scars helping you allow Christ to redeem them for good.

If you would like to purchase the book click here.

Etched...Upon My Heart: What We Learn and Why We Never Forget

About the Author:

Jill Kelly is the wife of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. In September 1997, months after their infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with a fatal disease called Krabbe Leukodustrophy, Jim and Jill founded the Hunter’s Hope Foundation. As chairman of the board of Hunter’s Hope, Jill helps children suffering from Leukodystrophy, and their families by raising awareness and research funds to fight this devastating disease. She and Jim live in Buffalo, NY, with their two daughters and three dogs. Hunter’s Hope Foundation can be found online at Jill is also the author of Without A Word.

Connect with the Author: 




I received a free copy of Etched…Upon My Heart  in exchange for my honest review of the book.  All of the above opinions are my own, and no other compensation has been received.


catching up…

I have neglected you…. my bloggy friends…

I hope you will find the ability to forgive me for my lack of loquaciousness.   Some seasons of life feel so overwhelming that it is hard to find the words to weave together to describe it all.

…. and then there is the issue of not wanting to sound like a whiner…….  I abhor a whiner.  I belong to the “suck it up buttercup”  school of thought.  Their really is no reason to sit around and belabor the bad stuff that can and invariably will happen.

SO…….. that being said….  I will try to catch you all up on the days of our lives ( pun intended) without it being too soap opera-ish.

Fact 1:  The hubby is unemployed.

In January of this year he was laid off.  We have survived on half of his income for over a year. It isn’t pretty, but we survive. I have a great work-from-home job with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, that I love and helps us along.  However, Fact 1 makes what needs to happen in Fact 2, a problem.

Fact 2:  People like to see that renters have income.

This interesting and pertinent fact comes in to play because our current home has been subject to the owners not paying the mortgage for over 3 years; a fact made know to us about a year ago.  Since our finances clearly place purchasing out of the realm of possibility …  we are now on the hunt for a new house.

As a side note, we asked the bank if we could rent this house, the one we have dutifully rented and paid on time for, for over 6 years….  They say our income needs to increase by 4% in order for us to be allowed to live here…..  we are like $150 short of their income model……

Fact 3: Banks suck.

’nuff said.

Fact 4:  God will provide.

This is a fact that in the last year we have had the blessing to experience.  Through our church family and community, we have made it an entire year.  Despite the upheaval in our home situation and lack of steady work all of our needs have been met.  We have food.  We are not wandering the streets aimlessly without clothing; we are blessed.

We have been able to experience the truth of Matthew 6: 28-34.  He does care for us.  I can’t tell you how many times I sat in my car driving looking at the gas gauge needle creep closer to empty, knowing that there was enough money to do one of two things…. Eat or buy Fuel for the car.  I would pray, “Lord, you know I can only do one.  There isn’t money to do both.  Help me choose wisely what to do.”    Only to have someone come by with a check, doubling what was in our account so that now we could afford to eat AND by fuel.

…….Or,  how we were able to send our daughter away for a month long leadership training, fully funded.  We were blessed with her tuition, money for all her gear, and blessed even to the point of our gas money to drive her there and pick her up being covered.

One child needed new shoes, God provided $ 40.  Another needed a hair-cut, God provided the $ 20 for that.  Never once has there been a need that hasn’t been provided for.


……..So that is where we are, job-less… about to be homeless, but still thanking God, because without Him, we truly would have nothing.

Pray with us tonight as we call a potential landlord and ask if we will be able to move in, despite what our income looks like on paper.


Read your way to learning

I love sneaking learning in…. don’t you?


Christian Liberty Press has a few books, a series really, that is designed to help your children learn without the clunky text book.  With the Mr. Pipes book series, they will learn curled up on the couch or up in a tree or perhaps even on the beach.


I love history and on occasion my children share my love.  I really love the WHO behind the WHAT of history.  I love to meet the people who made it; I want to know their stories.  The WHO in history is what makes it come alive for me.  In Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers you will meet Annie and Drew two children who are on vacation while their mother is working in England.  They are in Olney, England, walking around looking for something to do in a village where time runs slower than it does in the big city, when they meet Mr. Pipes, the man who plays the GINORMOUS pipe organ in the village church.

Mr. Pipes invites the children on a fishing trip and this is where the historical revelations begin.  Mr. Pipes knows the WHO behind the music he plays.  Throughout the course of the book and in different settings the expressive and informative Mr. Pipes will introduce the children to Thomas Ken (the Doxology), Issac Watts ( Joy to the World ), Charles Wesley ( And Can it Be) , William Williams, John Newton, William Cowper, Augustus Toplady and Thomas Kelly.  He also introduces the children to some Scottish hymn writers like Henry Francis Lyte, and some amazing women who wrote hymns too.

So far in our reading we have met the first three hymn writers Mr. Ken, Mr. Watts, and Mr. Wesley.  We have been lazily reading along, yet learning as we go. What does that look like?  Well, a bit like this….  I read the book aloud to the boys ( ages 9 and 5 ) as we come to a new hymn writer we put his name on an index card.  If the book tells us dates we write them down.  We also write down the names of the people that are players in history.  So when Thomas Ken was with Mary, who later came back to be queen, we wrote her name down.   On the back of the card we write down terms or ideas we don’t know and then we spend some time on the computer looking them up so we understand them.  We also go to YouTube and watch and listen to as many of the hymns discussed in the book.

and here is the back of a card with our questions.

Normally when we study a book this way we stick our cards back into the book so they are there as we read each day. However, this book was in an electronic format, and loaded into my kindle, which makes it hard to stick index cards between the pages :)  We compromised and slid the index cards into the pocket of my Kindle cover.  It worked out rather nicely.  I really do like books in PDF format.  They are so easy to add to my Kindle and carry with us to read anywhere!

Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers is a book that is recommended for middle and high school students to read independently. ( Grades 7-12 ) But we found it to be a very appropriate book to read aloud to my Kindergartner and 5th grader.  I don’t think that if I left Hunter alone with the book and just had him read it independently we would have learned so much.  I think he would have skipped the words he didn’t understand and would have missed learning about some church history along the way.

If you would like to take the opportunity to read this book with your children, you can purchase the electronic version for $8.79.  It is available instantly, no extra shipping charges or stalking waiting for the UPS man to stop at your door. But, if you prefer the paper sort of book, those can be purchased for $9.89 (plus shipping and handling).  Visit Christian Liberty Press to see all of the books in the Mr. Pipes book series.

If you still need more information before you make your decision, follow the link below to read more reviews on Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers.

I was able to download Mr.Pipes and the British Hymn Makers free of charge from Christian Liberty Press, expressly for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received.  All of the above experiences were due to using this product in our homeschool environment.


From my inbox

My dear pastor’s wife sends me emails.  They are without a doubt encouraging and uplifting….. and some days….  they stop me in my tracks.

Here is today’s:

“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psa. 29:2).“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands” (Psa. 90:17).

Even me, can do some of the work which He would like done, and that unless I do it, it will remain undone.  How am I to begin?  As Christ did.  First, He looked at the city; then He wept over it; then He died for it.Where am I to begin?  I’ll begin where I am.  Make that one corner, room, house, office, as like Heaven as I can.  Begin?  I’ll begin with the paper on the walls, make that beautiful; with the air, keep it fresh; with the very drains, make them sweet; with the furniture, see that it be honest.  I’ll abolish whatever worketh abomination—in food, in drink, in luxury, in books, in art; whatsoever maketh a lie—in conversation, in social intercourse, in correspondence, in domestic life.  This done, I have arranged for a heaven, but I have not got it.  Heaven lies within, in kindness, in humbleness, in unselfishness, in faith, in love, in service.  To get these in, get Christ in.  I’ll teach it not as a doctrine, but as a discovery, as my own discovery.  Live my own discovery.—Henry Drummond.

The question is not “What can I do?” but “What can I and God together do?”—Abbott.

Looking at the piles that are all around me…. I have work to do.  The noise of my clutter is not queiting to my soul.



Chess for you

I thought I would share with you all something my very talented husband created.

These photos are from my phone…. so please bear with me on the quality of the photos….  I will retake some with the good camera and better lighting…

He made this for Evan as a graduation/ birthday gift. 

He is interested in making more custom boards, contact us if you are looking for a unique, one-of-a kind gift for someone you know.


The politics of it all…..

I tend to avoid political conversations.  I avoid them, not because I am devoid of an opinion, but because the people that tend to want to discuss politics, get louder and quippier, while their arguments become less about facts or experiences and more about their opinion.  These are the reasons I avoid political conversations.

But today,  I am going to dive right into the fray. But first…. a bit of background.

Several years ago I learned something about myself, I learned that listening to political talk radio, and watching political news shows was becoming detrimental to my well being.  I was getting MAD….  not just the annoying kind of mad, like when a fly is buzzing around your ears and you wish it gone…..  but the deep down-bitter-pissed off kind of mad that has you constantly muttering under your breath at people who don’t think the same way you do on a certain subject.  I felt like I was being aroused into a mob mentality, where lashing out at people who held a differing opinion, was a right, if not a duty, and that the louder you spoke, the more correct you would thus become.

As I was beginning not to like the person I was becoming as I filled my mind with rhetoric from people who held opinions and microphones with which to project them, I was being convicted about how much time I spent focused on the things that were not of God.  I knew more about politics than I did about my Bible, and that dear friends was a toxic problem.

So I quit.  Cold Turkey.  I shut off the radio and after a few weeks the involuntary twitching subsided and I began to feel more relaxed and in control of my emotions.  This does not mean that I have stuck my head in the sand and I am blissfully unaware of what happens in our country, it just means that the pursuit of political knowledge is no longer what rules my days.  It means that I do not filter my political thought through the collective mind of the media, but through how God says I should, because ultimately HE is in control of everything.

That background given,  I would like to offer up a bit of discussion on yesterday’s news, filtered through my reading of Proverbs this morning, and how the Supreme Court decision will personally affect me.

I was reading Proverbs 29……

v1: He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

More than a personal rebuke, could it be that our country is suffering the consequences of choices made long ago….. choices that may indeed bring our destruction?

v2: When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.

Hmmmmm…….  This could go either way depending on which political party line you subscribe to….  but it is food for thought.  We as a nation groan regardless of whom is in authority over us.  Might lend some insight into their ( and our own ) righteousness before God.


Now let’s tackle the issue.  Yesterday there was a decision by people we have appointed to a position of legal authority, on a gazillion paged document titled by the news media as “Obamacare”.

The premise everyone could agree that this “Obamacare” is about is health-care.  Some see it as the provision of health-care for all, others as government intervention into an area of personal choice.

I like doctors, I don’t mind going to them when I need help.  I would agree they are expensive and I would agree that health insurance is equally expensive.  But until yesterday I had a choice about which expense to spend my money on…. the price of doctors when I need them, or the cost of risk assignment to a health insurance company…..

If I may draw a parallel….

I like food, I use it to nourish my body.  Food I buy at local farmers markets is more expensive than food at my grocery store.  I chose to spend more for food that is of a better quality and flavor.  I have that choice.  It is mine to make.

My family IS poverty. We are the working poor.  We are one step from homelessness.  I am not saying this to garner sympathy, just to state a fact.  For the last 6 years we have lived on an income of about 36,000, we are a family of 6.  We do this without the aid of food stamps, WIC, or assisted housing.  According to the data supplied by the state I live in, a family that makes less than 45,000 a year is eligible for medicaid.  This is the current standard, before yesterday’s decision.  Even though I qualify and have applied for this form of health care, I have been denied it. 

Now, I hear the new numbers for a family to qualify for medicaid, under yeterday’s decision, is an annual income of under 43,000.  I am sorry, but I have trouble believing that a 2,000 dollar annual drop in that number is going to cause a rush of benevolence in the bureaucratic nightmare that is our government.  If past performance is indicative of future results, I will be denied this health insurance option again.

To be fair, I will state that my children are covered by medicaid.  They qualified.  My husband is a combat veteran, he has insurance free of charge from the federal government as a entitlement for completing his contract of service.  I am the only member of my household that we can not afford to cover, and the only member that has been denied coverage. I am healthy. I have no preexisting conditions. 

Yesterday I was told by my government that now I have to pay a penalty ( or tax, you pick the word you like best)  on a service, that they tell me I qualify for, but they deny me.   Now, I will have to pay for something I don’t even receive???  ……or I have to find the funds to pay for a more expensive privatized option, which would be more financially crippeling than this penalty/tax.  Call me crazy, but this seems like a lose-lose situation for me.  I don’t see how this is truly free health-care for all.  With these options available to me, I am not sure I really want my government in control of health-care.  They aren’t even following their current guidelines and standards.

I haven’t read the entire gazillion paged document that was voted on yesterday.  But there is a document that is only a few pages long that I would like to think that I am well versed in.  It is our Constitution.  In a perfect world, with a perfect government, we would have held to it’s guidelines.  We haven’t.  We haven’t followed God’s rules, nor our own man made ones, and there are consequences.

My hardworking family will join others and be the reapers of those consequences.  We will be the ones who will pay…. we will pay for what we can not afford, and what we will not receive, because a government decided it knew best, and has taken away my right to choose the way I spend the money we do make.

I am sure that God will be faithful and provide for us a way to pay for whatever ends up happening after the folks on either side of the isle stop fighting over it all…..

But until then……for what it is worth….. that I how I see it…..  That is how yesterday affected me.




“Mom, you know what would be awesome?”

“No, Hunter, what would be awesome?”

“If you were a shape shifter and had a transmitter on you all the time that allowed you to be a shape shifter…and if Dad was a shape shifter too, but nobody knew it, and if my parents, my real parents, were up on a space ship in outer-space somewhere; captives, and I was the only one to figure it out………….

……………..  THAT…. would be awesome…”


and then turned on his heel to walk down the hall to climb in bed.

This can’t happen only in my house….. tell me I am not alone :)


In recent news….

I have a graduate, and I am missing a portion of my thumb.

Both of these events are painful in their own special way.

One is moving on to adulthood and I begin my journey of praying he absorbed enough to survive out there in the big wide world.  It is a bitter sweet pain that is just the way things are supposed to be.

The other…. well  it just hurts.  lots.

I will keep you posted on how both of them are coming along.


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