Unabated Vigor ~ Not Your Typical Valentine’s Post

During my morning quiet time with the Lord, for a few months now, I’ve been camping out in the Old Testament.   First I was in Deuteronomy and now I am in Joshua.  These two books are full of the confirmation that we have a promise keeping God.  I love Deuteronomy 37 where Moses goes “from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, …opposite Jericho.” (Deut. 34:1) and the Lord shows him all the land that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

In verse 4, the Lord tells Moses that he will not enter this promised land.  And in verse 5, Moses died.  I wish I could remember the first time I learned that Moses didn’t make it to the promised land.  I imagine that I probably felt disappointment for him.  I mean, he’s the one that led the people for all. those. years.  He’s the one that faced Pharaoh.   He’s the one that was chosen to write the 10 Commandments on tablets of stone.  To me, Moses is pretty special.  So I wonder, was he disappointed that he wouldn’t reap the benefit of his efforts?

Verse 7 actually gives a little clue to how Moses reacted to not making it to the promised land:


Being the word nerd that I am, I wanted to be sure that I understood the meaning of “unabated.”   According to dictionary.com, it means:

with undiminished force, power, or vigor

That led me to being double sure I knew what “vigor” means.  Again, according to dictionary.com, vigor is:

active strength or force…healthy physical or mental energy or power; vitality…energetic activity; energy; intensity

So here I am, reading about Moses not reaping the benefits of his proverbial sowing.  AND THEN God’s Word tells us that Moses died with power, active strength, force, vitality, intensity.  He died knowing that he had received his inheritance.  And I personally think he was probably very satisfied.

This has me wondering if I would be?  My human, and sinful, nature desires a reward when I’ve worked hard.  I’m not one for fanfare but a subtle pat on the back goes along way with me.  I venture to say that there’s a little of that feeling in all of us.

Anyway, what does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day?  Hang with me – please – I promise I’m getting there.

As I have been studying Joshua, I have marveled (my word of the year) at the keeping of God’s promises.  He is ever faithful!  He was to His children as the crossed the Red Sea, the dessert, took Jericho, and more.  And He is faithful to us today.  Once we get to Joshua 22, the land that God promised to Abraham has been divided among the tribes – the promise fulfilled – and the people were settling in.  Challenges still arose and that’s not really that surprising considering all the grumbling in the desert.

One of the verses I underlined in chapter 22 is verse 5.  Joshua gives these instructions to the Israelite’s as they settle in:


Joshua could’ve just said, “be like Moses.”  But he spelled it out.  He reminded them of the commandments.  He reminded them to walk…and keep…and cling…and serve….with ALL their heart and soul.  These qualities – to me are a beautiful explanation of the “unabated vigor” that Moses had.

I often cruise along in my Christian walk.  I wax and wane in my Bible reading and prayer time.  But this!  This is how I want to be.

So as Valentine’s Day comes to a close, I am just plain blessed.  God gave me the most wonderful man to be my husband.  We’re into our 23rd year of Valentine’s days (22 of those married).  And we have 2 beautiful children.  The stores are full of cards and flowers and balloons.  Facebook and Instagram are full of Valentine wishes and dates and gifts.  In our house, every day is full of love that is just plain special.  Some years we pull out all the stops for Valentine’s Day.  Some years we don’t.  This year, we chose to celebrate as a family.  And I’m really good with that.  But I began Valentine’s Day reading Joshua 22:5.  I began my day reminded of the love that I am to have for my Heavenly Father and the promises that He still keeps today for me.

So this isn’t a typical train of thought for Valentine’s Day but it’s what the Lord laid on my heart.

I hope that you had a wonderful day with your special someone. And I pray that every day you love the Lord with “unbated vigor.”

Joy to You!














Surrounded ~ A 31 Day Post (day 4)


It’s day 4 of this 31 Day Challenge.  When I decided to accept the challenge again this year, I had my topic and I was ready to write.  At 10:30 PM on September 30th, the Lord slightly changed my focus.  Sharing lessons learned was still to be the focus but I felt the Lord telling me that I needed to share from all that I have learned as we’ve traveled this road called “full time ministry.”  Someday, I may write a post about the last year specifically.  And then again, I may not.  I look to the Lord to guide my words in this this little corner of the internet.

Yesterday I shared a little of how we entered into ministry full time.  My hubby attended Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.  I had lived my whole life in the Upstate of SC – near family.  Moving was hard but we knew that it was what God wanted us to do.  I remember the first time we drove to KY.  It snowed!  Really big flakes!  The entire time we were visiting the Seminary.  When we pulled onto campus, I knew that we were home.  God is really just cool that way to give confirmation when we need it most.

It took us about a year to get to Louisville.  We had to sell our house, you know the one with white walls and no pictures hung?  The Lord was gracious in that process.  As we moved and began life in this new BIG city, we were excited and scared but we never questioned why we were there.

Fast forward a year into living in KY.  My hubby was hired part time as a children’s pastor at a wonderful church.  The sanctuary was like a retreat center with a gorgeous view of a lake.  Every Sunday for 5 years we worshiped while having this beautiful view of God’s creation.  Something wonderful happened while we were there.  The people in that church became our “family.”  When you are 7-1/2 hours from blood kin, you need “family” where you are.  God richly provided that for us.  To this day, they remain special and dear to our hearts.  We left that church for my hubby to take a full time position back in our home state.  We served there for 5 wonderful years.  And we gained new “family.”

Back in August, I picked up A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson.  It’s just a fabulous book to read.  Sophie shares stories from her life while intertwining the truth of the gospel in the pages of every chapter.  As I was reading, something she said hit me hard….


These few sentences described exactly how I felt about our Louisville “family” and our “family” in our SC church.  It described how I felt about being in ministry.  The Lord graciously provided the friends we needed to love and support us.  He landed us in places that we were able to love and be loved.   What a blessing!!!

Now we are in a new place and I have to say, God has already begun the process all over again.  He has already surrounded us with people that I know will be “family.”  Surrounded us with people that will cover us in prayer and allow us to do the same for them.

Isn’t it wonderful being a part of the body of Christ? In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talks about the body of Christ.  He shares that we are “one body with many members.”  We all have gifts and talents that compliment each other.  The Lord surrounds us with the other members of the “body” that we need.

I pray that you are surrounded by exactly who you need for encouragement!

Until tomorrow…

Joy to You!

A Walk Through Galatians ~ Day 2


Today I am just going to jump right into the Scripture.  We are looking at Galatians 1: 6-9:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Aren’t we so much like the people in the church of Galatia?

We turn to and fro, wandering like the children of Israel in the desert.

We listen to what pleases us.  And then we follow.

The gospel is hard.  But the grace that comes with it.  Oh, how marvelous it is.

How can I, as a professing believer in my Lord and Savior, be so complacent?  And yet I am.

It reminds me of the song “Come thy Fount” by Robert Robinson.  His story of wandering and redemption is beautiful.  You can read it HERE where I wrote about it last year in my 31 day series on hymns of praise.

We live in a culture where the gospel is definitely being distorted.  In a world where what God created and designed is being refashioned and relabeled to suit our own selfish, and I might add, sinful desires.  We are “deserting Him who called us in the grace of Christ”.

On Wednesday evenings, our church Bible study class is studying David Platt’s book Counter Culture.  As I am studying these topics so relevant to today’s culture, I see how blatantly the gospel really is being morphed into whatever we want it to be.    As I read the verses in Galatians, I am reminded of the topics discussed by Platt in Counter Culture.

Here’s the thing, that grace that He gives is free.  Let me say it again.  It’s FREE.  And yet, our society is very quick to turn from it.

Where does that leave me…..and maybe you too?

As my daughter and I discussed these verses she said, “Well, we just need to accept God’s grace and not stray from it!”

That’s it.  And that’s my prayer………..staying true to the gospel……daily accepting the grace of Christ.  I am praying that for you too.  Until tomorrow………..

Joy to You!


Mission HOME

Every July our church does what we call “Mission Hartsville”.  It’s a week-long, church-wide mission trip, in our home town. There are approximately 21 ministry areas that are carried out during this set week in July.  It’s a sweet time of service to our community and a great time of fellowship with other church members.  For some, we are stretched out of our comfort zone. For some, a passion for a particular ministry area is ignited and then carried out continuously throughout the year. For many, it’s the only mission “trip” that is feasible for them.  No matter the outcome, it truely is a beautiful time in our city. Matter of fact, there are some that have come to expect, or I should say anticipate our mission efforts.  It’s a really good thing.

The down side to our mission week is that although we are at home, we are not at home.  We are in and out.  Breakfast is on the fly, lunch is at odd times, dinner….well, 8 or 9 p.m. seems a good time to eat.  Laundry doesn’t get done.  The kids rooms become a mess and the hubby and I are piling clothes on the floor because the laundry basket is full.  We run out of milk, the trash doesn’t get put out for weekly pick-up…….

You get the idea!

This year, the week after I admit I was in a bit of a tizzy.  I wanted the house clean.  The laundry done. The groceries bought.  My poor kids!!  They just wanted to rest a little.  Read a little.  Watch a little TV.  Have friends over.  I confess that I was frustrated with them!

That’s when it hit me.

I spent a week pouring my heart and soul into ministry after ministry.  I participated in random acts of kindness. I loved on people that I don’t know and, honestly, weren’t very lovable.  I gave grace to people that I may never see again. (Actually in our small town that’s unlikely, but you know what I mean).  I prayed for those I came in contact with.

But my kids….my husband?

When was the last time I loved on them in their unlovable moments? Showed them grace whether they needed it or not? Really prayed over them?

OR….did a random act of kindness for my kids?  My husband?  I mean why shouldn’t I put their laundry away instead of piling it on their bed? Or do their chores instead of nagging for the chores to be done?  Not all the time, mind you, but randomly.

I’m convinced that missions should take place in the four walls of our home.  I’m not living out the example of being the Christian wife and mom I claim to be if I am not serving those that the Lord so graciously gave me to be my family.mission_home

What about you?  Does your heart for missions come to fruition in your own home?  With your extended family? In your circle of friends?

I am praying about how I can serve my family more.  Knowing that they may read this, I’m held accountable {smile}. Knowing that the Lord knows my heart is accountability enough!!

I pray that you will be on “mission” in your own home.

Joy to You!


The Family Toolbox ~ A Review

family toolbox
I am excited to be able to review a new tool made available by the National Center for Biblical Parenting.  The Family Toolbox is a resource for parents and teens, ages 10-18, encouraging conversation that leads to family discipleship.  
The “toolbox” contains 8 lessons consisting of 16 videos and a workbook.  There are eight videos for parents to view where a scene is portrayed followed by authors of the Toolbox, Dr. Scott Turansky and Mrs. Joanne Miller,  discuss the life lesson being taught in the particular session.  After viewing this, parents will then sit down with their teens and watch a longer clip of the same scene and then use discussion questions and prompts in the workbook.  Each lesson has two “life success principles” that Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller explain in the video for parents.  What I love most about this tool is how practical these principles are and how scripture is intertwined throughout to back up the principle being discussed. 
Topics covered in the Family Toolbox are:
  • Lesson 1 ~ It Starts with the Heart
  • Lesson 2 ~ Follow Instructions Well
  • Lesson 3 ~ Handle Pressure without Losing Your Cool
  • Lesson 4 ~ The Value of Correction
  • Lesson 5 ~ The Importance of Responsibility
  • Lesson 6 ~ Accept No as an Answer
  • Lesson 7 ~ Deal with Your Own Anger
  • Lesson 8 ~ Consider the Needs of Others
 As mentioned above, the advice and direction given by Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller in these lessons is practical with an intertwining of biblical principles that are so important and life changing.  As I listened to them discuss the topics, I was both encouraged and convicted.  My goal as a parent is to raise my children to love and serve Jesus; to raise them to honor Him in their lives every day.  I was encouraged to discover that my husband and I do some of the things suggested in The Family Toolbox lessons.
Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller share with us that seeing our children change in effective ways comes from focusing on the heart.  Mrs. Miller says, “The heart is where the lasting change will take place.”  The concept of a “heart issue” is not new to me.  When we found out we were to be parents, I began to read parenting books.  I’ve been to parenting seminars that encourage dealing with the heart.  Working on and dealing with heart issues are for all of life not just the toddler or teen or all those in between years.
The practical tips are things like making a chart of negative behavior, then thinking and praying through to address the heart issue that the behavior is a result of.  They also suggest having an “action point”.  This is when you stop talking and start acting as a parent.   Involve your kids in setting new patterns and habits for the way you give them instructions and the way that they obey. Weave scripture into any discussion you have about behavior.    God made us and our children; He has a lot to say about who we are, and should be, as His creation. 
Another really practical piece of advice is to be sure to have some margin, i.e. extra time, in our schedule for unplanned things.  If we are so rigid in our daily schedule, there is no room for the unexpected joys that might come our way.  We might just miss them.  Setting checkpoints in our daily routine to be sure that kids are staying on task is another great way to keep behavior and attitudes where they need to be.  They help keep us to our “plan” and can have the positive benefit of building teamwork in the family.
The conviction I felt came around Lesson 3.  After 15+ years of parenting, I am still learning to handle pressure and not losing control.  I have a temper.  It’s sin on my part and I know it.  I am learning, with the grace of God, to not lose it when I do get upset.  This is where perhaps the most practical advice from Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller really hit home for me.  They said to expect problems, expect delays, and expect interruptions.  Be ready for them and then our reaction is not emotional.  AND our reaction is honoring to your children and to the Lord.  These three things are just part of life, family life.
Correction was discussed in Lesson 4.  There is value in correction.  When we, as parents, have a plan for the way that we correct our children it really benefits the entire. Having a plan for how we correct shows unity between parents.  It also give opportunity for the correction to be done right, teaching the kids in the process and then the child and the family are able to move forward.  I really like that Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller encourage discussion with our kids when correction is taking place.  They suggest three questions:
  • What did you do wrong? (this helps the kids take personal responsibility)
  • Why was that wrong? (this question deals with the heart)
  • What are you going to do different next time? (this helps our kids learn from experience)
These questions could also benefit us as parents and adults in our everyday lives as well.
Something that I think is very important in their discussion on correction is that once we, as parents, have discussed these questions with our kids, we should encourage them to go ahead and try again.  This gives them encouragement and can teach them forgiveness.
Throughout all eight lessons, Dr. Turansky and Mrs. Miller emphasize how these principles are beneficial for a life time.  Things like looking for and encouraging positive qualities in our kids that we can link to life goals, following directions, accepting no for an answer.  All of these are skills that can be used in the workplace and in their own family when the children leave our homes for their own.
I am so grateful to have been able to review this product.  For the purpose of this review, I watched this on my own, however, I hope to go through the “toolbox” as a family activity with my husband and kids very soon.  I am sure that we will benefit from it. 
The Family Toolbox is available for download on the National Center for Biblical Parenting‘s website for a suggested donation of $79.95 or you can purchase a home kit which features a DVD and hard copy literature for $99.95.  
Joy to You!
toolbox disclaimer

What We’ve Been Up To

In my life recently…..
Happy New Year!  Yes, I realize that January is more than half way over.  It’s been over 2 months since I sat down to journal about our homeschool days.  I have thought about it.  I have planned on it.  And well….it just hasn’t happened.  Instead, life has happened and I am thinking that that’s a good thing.
 I hope it’s okay for me to do a quick rundown.  We spent the month of November traveling back and forth to our hometown visiting with my hubby’s precious 93 year old grandmother.  She passed away in early December and we are so glad that we had had those last few special visits with her.  She lived a long and wonderful life.  She had 8 children, 7 of whom are still living, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even a few great, great grandchildren.  Her legacy will live on for generations and I am so thankful that I have the privilege of being part of her family.
December was full.  In a good way.  We had parties and plays.  We spent time with family and friends.  We ate lots of yummy food.  My sister had surgery but has recovered well and is back at work.  Because she was restricted in what she could do, the kids and I went to her house mid-December and helped out with an event at her church called “Santa Express”.  This is an event where children from the community, who have been “adopted” by members of her church for Christmas, come for dinner and to receive their gifts.  What a day it was.  I think maybe the highlight of the season for me.
We spent New Year’s week in KY with friends and loved every minute of it.  We were able to see many people that became our family while we lived there for 6 years.
Our kids also had birthdays the first week of January.  They are growing up WAY too fast!!
In our homeschool…..
School is really going great right now.  We are settled back into our routine and just really enjoying our school days.  Leah is studying Benjamin Franklin so we’ve taken a break from our History curriculum and are reading Ben and Me aloud.  What a great story. 
I also changed Math curriculum for Leah this semester.  We switched to Math-U-See.  We are reviewing the first part of the book at a rather quick pace these first few weeks to get a good foundation for how the curriculum is designed and how it works.
Wyatt is forging ahead with all of his classes.  His English class, through our co-op, will soon begin studying Romeo & Juliet.  He’s also working hard on a map Asia for Geography.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
I am learning as this new semester, New Year, starts that I need to just enjoy each moment of each day.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
All the normal places that are routine for us.  Co-op, ballet, violin, church, swim team, and we’ve added Upward basketball to the mix for about 8 weeks.  Wyatt is helping to coach and Leah is cheering.  They are having lots of fun.
My favorite things…..
Helping my sister at her church with the “Santa Express” event AND spending New Year’s in KY with dear friends.
My kiddos favorite thing..…
Being in KY for New Year’s.  They absolutely loved spending a whole week visiting with their friends.
Things I’m working on…
I don’t make resolutions but I do have a goal to be more organized in 2014.  Starting with baby steps – one shelf or drawer at a time.
I’m reading …
I am really embarrassed to admit that I have a few books I never finished last year.  So, I have  a goal to finish those and then read more this year.  So, right now, I am finishing up Lit! A Christian’s Guide to Reading Literature.
I am also finishing up Devotions From Genesis by Nicole Halbrooks Vaughn in my quiet time.  I have moved slow through this because it is just so exciting to walk through Genesis.
I’m cooking…
Healthier.  Or at least I am trying.  I have two new favorites.  Homemade, from scratch, tomato soup and Baked Oatmeal.  Also, Apple Butter Muffins.  All are delicious.
healthy food
I’m grateful for…
So much.  This list is long.
I’m praying for…
Friends and family who have heavy burdens.
A photo, video, link, or a quote to share…
My Upward Cheerleader!
Thanks again for joining me on my homeschool journey.  I’m linked up with The Homeschool Mother’s Journal.
Joy to You!


I am really late getting my L and M post out for the “Blogging through the Alphabet” series with Marcy over at Ben and Me.  I had great plans.  You see, we spent New Years week in Louisville.  So, with a little help from a friend,  I am combining L, M, and N — just in reverse order.  
So here goes…………

New Year Memories in Louisville

First, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!  May the Lord bless you this year with His abundant grace and mercy.
2014Our dear friends had a New Years Eve party complete with a countdown on the TV during the evening.  When the clock struck midnight, this is what we saw!! 
Speaking of dear friends, these ladies are very special to me.  So excited that I was able to ring in 2014 with them.
sweet friends
 Yep!  That’s Marcy and me!  So excited to spend the evening with her!!
The theme of the New Year’s Eve party was Chocolate and Bacon.  This is this shirt my son wore to the party!  Appropriate, don’t ya think?!
While in Louisville, we were able to see many good friends.  We reminisced.  We laughed. We cried.  And we got LOTS of hugs.   
 We lived in Louisville for 6 years while my hubby was in Seminary.  Although we still called SC “home”, we came to love and appreciate the city that was truly our home for those years.  We were all excited to go back for a visit.  This time, going to Louisville was like going “home”.  Funny how that works!!
As we drove into town on Monday, we saw change.  Buildings that weren’t there 3 years ago.  Differences that I am sure we would not appreciate if we were still there.  OR if we had visited often since leaving.   It was pretty cool to hear the kids share what they remembered about a street, an area of town, etc. 
Of course, as we drove into town, my kids agreed that it would be REALLY cool if it snowed while we were there. 
They got their wish.  It snowed all day Thursday and was absolutely beautiful!!
We were able to eat at one of our favorite restaurants and visited Starbucks.  Something we never do at home.  I am not a fan of coffee but will always remember that I came to love Caramel Apple Spice on our New Year’s Louisville trip.
 The great thing about memories is that we can keep making them.  We have so many fond ones from when we lived in Louisville but now we have many very special memories from  this trip.  All of our memories for this trip do not revolve around food, however, I was inspired by my sweet friend Valerie to learn to cook healthier in the coming year.  We’ll see how that goes. {smile}.  I was also inspired in my homeschooling journey.  I spent hours with my friend discussing History curriculum.  I now have a plan for History for years to come.  Isn’t it good to have friends who can encourage?
I mentioned the snow.  It really was beautiful, however, there was one evening and one morning that the KY sky was breathtaking.  I just have to share.
 So…as you can see, we had a wonderful start to 2014.  Memories old and new are precious.  I plan on making more in the coming year.  They are a blessing.  They are a gift.
Thanks for enduring my walk down memory lane.  I hope that you will join me again, and others, as we continue Blogging through the Alphabet with Marcy over at Ben and Me.
Joy to You!