Tools that Work

happychildren

Over the course of the last several months, I have started a journey that in the middle may seem uncertain; however, the destination is certainly worth the struggle. It’s leading my family to the gates of Heaven. Each day is a struggle and I get frustrated, discouraged, and sometimes even depressed, but I also understand it is growing me, fitting me, and moulding me into His character, and that is the greatest gift I can ever wish to have. Not only is it moulding me, but it’s molding my children and husband as well.

This last weekend I attended a parenting class with Cinda Osterman. If any of you ever get a chance, I totally recommend it. It was so helpful. I’m hoping to give you a quick overview of the things I have been learning that have made a difference in my interaction with my children.

I have always been excited about having kids. I was always stealing people’s babies or kids in church, and couldn’t wait until I had kids of my own. I used to think of the fun things I was going to do, and of being the fun mom I wanted to be who was always doing awesome projects, etc., with the kids, always had a clean house, and always was able to do anything and everything fun and loving for my husband. And then…reality hit. It’s been such a challenge just to keep the house walk-through-able, let alone have time for the fun arts and crafts, etc., that I had pictured we would do together.

The stuff I am sharing in this last blog is kind of a compilation of what I have compiled over the years. If you have questions or need further information, please let me know. I will be happy to share what I am learning, and although I may not have the answers, I know someone who does. 😉

I am learning first and foremost that order is a huge key to my stress level. Having less stuff is so much easier to manage and really helps with stress levels in all of us, due to my having to constantly clean a messy house. Not that it stays clean all the time now. It just isn’t that hard to clean it all up. If you struggle with getting order in your house, then please pick up the book, Oh No, It’s Sabbath Again. And I’m Not Ready, by Yara Cerna Young. Empowered Living Ministries just republished it. (If you buy it on Amazon, it will cost over $100, so I recommend the $10 from ELM.)

I also have been watching Cinda Osterman’s parenting videos. There are two different programs online. If you type her name into Vimeo it brings up four sermons. They are all very good. Also, Amazing Facts does a two-part series with her at this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuQ31Y1mjqM&t=1s The second one should come up at the side of Youtube under the “play next” tab. They are titled and subtitled in Spanish (or Portuguese — not sure which exactly), but they are spoken in English.

I have learned so much stuff from those DVDs, and God has been blessing in so many ways. I have found the last couple of weeks that the Spirit of God is moving upon His people in a mighty way, in ways I never expected Him to work.

I have been reading the chapter, “The Victory,” in the Desire of Ages for my devotions the last couple of days. I encourage you to read it yourself. It has been amazing!!! By inspiration God lines out how we ourselves are to have victory in our lives and to be able to overcome the devil. Here are some keys I have been learning.

1. We need faith. Faith is something that we have to have. For years I have struggled with the difference between faith and presumption. I have never known the difference, but God made it so clear for me in that chapter. “But faith is in no sense allied to presumption. Only he who has true faith is secure against presumption. For presumption is Satan’s counterfeit of faith. Faith claims God’s promises, and brings forth fruit in obedience. Presumption also claims promises, but uses them as Satan did, to excuse transgression. Faith would have led our first parents to trust the love of God, and to obey His commands. Presumption led them to transgress His law, believing that His great love would save them from the consequence of their sin. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions on which mercy is to be granted. Genuine faith has it’s foundation in the promises and provisions of the scriptures.” It wasn’t until I believed that God would answer my prayers and followed what He told me to do that I started seeing a difference in my children. And, to be honest, the first two weeks I determined to follow because He said He would bless, the devil really tested me to see if I was serious. I struggled for two and a half weeks with my kids. I was in tears almost every day and totally overwhelmed. But, I kept persisting and I prayed earnestly, and patiently endured the trials while looking for ways to encourage my kids to obey. I had no clue what I was doing on that path, but I knew I had to follow.

2. We need to ask. “We should not present our petitions to God to prove whether He will fulfill His word, but because He will fulfill it; not to prove that He loves us but because He loves us. Without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him,” Desire of Ages, pg. 126. I am learning how to ask because He will give it to us, instead of asking to prove that He loves us. I also am learning to ask what I need because it helps me to know my vulnerability and where I need God.

3. We need to submit. What does it really mean to submit to Christ? I have always struggled as I have never known how to submit to Christ, even though I have always had an intense desire to submit to Him. Through Cinda’s meetings, I have learned some good methods to help me understand, and He is giving me the victories through these methods. Plus, it’s awesome as it totally works with kids too. There is a book called Those Juniors, by Eric B. Hare. I want a copy as I haven’t read it myself, but there is a game that He wrote that helps kids to make good decisions and to put their higher powers back into control over their minds. (I am learning even at my age how to make choices, and this game is really helping me.) There are three judges: 1) Reason (who decides good or bad); 2) Conscience (who decides right or wrong); 3) Heart’s Desire (who agrees, disagrees, or isn’t sure if he agrees with Reason and Conscience).  And then, there is King Will. King Will follows Heart’s Desire. So, if Heart’s Desire is happy with the decisions that Reason and Conscience are making, then he will go along with that. If he’s not, he won’t. If he isn’t sure, then King Will isn’t sure. So, lets say we have a situation with smoking. Reason would say smoking is bad, Conscience would decide it was wrong, Heart’s Desire (HD) would consider it wrong, and therefore King Will would go along with the decision. If we say, however, that HD disagrees with Conscience and Reason, then King Will will make the decision to smoke. When we start feeling upset or threatened and we work through this in our own lives, then we are able to recognize when we need to submit to Christ.

Submission is started by recognizing we want something different then we know God wants for us. Then we pray, and ask Him to take our heart. As we ask Him for the heart change, we believe He will preform a miracle in our lives (even if we don’t always see the results quickly, just keep believing), and we ask Him to give us His heart. Then He places grace in our hearts and gives our hearts back with the power to overcome. Sometimes it takes a while of praying before my feelings and desires change, but if I sing, pray, and claim promises, the feeling I’m struggling with will go away. At first it takes quite a bit of time. To be honest, it was 2-2 1/2 hours for me. Then, as my faith grew and I learned how to use it (I am still really new and am growing so we have good times and bad), it’s starting to take quite a bit less time. This morning when my son and I were battling, it was only a 15-minute battle, and that really helps encourage me to keep going. Each battle makes the next one a little easier and so on.

4. Submission is needed for all in the home. On this process it takes patience and loving kindness with each other. A direct yet loving approach to issues that come up is greatly needed. I have started letting my kids tell me when I am struggling to be like Christ. Yesterday my husband was at home. He didn’t realize he was struggling, and I told him very lovingly that in a matter of two hours he had undone everything I was working for that week in regard to the kids. I asked him to go and battle, and I prayed while he took some time for the Lord. He came out with a different attitude, and it helped change our family atmosphere back to where it had been earlier that morning. In order to have a family that runs the way Christ wants it to, we must each first have Christ on the throne in our hearts. You see, each time that someone has an “I” problem, that instantly brings division into the home. When everyone is submitted to Christ on a daily basis, and the I’s don’t come up, there is peace in the home. When we are free to let each other know when “I” problems surface, then the person struggling can deal with it and know that the rest of the family is praying for them. This gives the sense of being a team as everyone is moving toward the same goal of Heaven, and the family is all helping each other on their walk to the Kingdom. God works miracles and the atmosphere in our home is becoming sweeter each day.

5. We must require obedience. As Christians there is no other alternative. However in the previous generations we have lost the skill to do this in a loving Christlike manner. Narcissism is on the rise no matter where you are, and it will only continue to get worse. There is a hierarchy that God has designed in our families; it’s a law that if we unknowingly break, ignore, or disobey, we can not have the power of a Christian family witness. However, that doesn’t mean that we are to intimidate, shame, challenge, or demean our children. He must be first, parents next, kids are to submit to the parents, and the parents are not to anger their children. In fact, I go so far as to say that if we do not require obedience, our children can not be happy. Happiness only comes from obedience, whether it’s us to God or our children to us. I used to think they would willingly submit if they were shown enough love. But, that isn’t the case. We must demand their obedience. How do we do this in a loving way?

We have chosen to use the rod, rather than spanking in anger. It is something very different then a spanking. In fact may I suggest that spankings are the devil’s counterfeit for the rod? It also, once introduced, rarely needs to be used. The rod is used when rebellion is expressed. If a child refuses to do something you ask, if a child has a haughty spirit, refuses a punishment, or is in open rebellion, the rod is in order, but in a prayerful manner. I follow specific guidelines for when and how to use this method, and am happy to share further if contacted.

Children need to be taught to submit. It is very hard to demand obedience, but God blesses when we do this. It is extremely tiring and unfortunately it can be very spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting, but it is well worth the effort. And if we teach our children to submit at this early age, I believe it will take away most of the struggles that they have in their teens. As we gain control and lovingly demand the obedience of our children, they become more secure, helpful, sweeter, more confident in the skills they acquire, and more patient. Without this obedience they will not learn to submit, and they will not learn to self govern and be able to make wise decisions.

6. We need standards. Standards are very important; as God has standards with us, we need to have standards with them. When setting up standards they need to be clear and easy to understand. They need to have a positive reward for keeping the standard and a negative reward for not doing the standard. For instance, for being obedient, my child gets two marbles to put into his jar. For each six marbles he gets (one for each year of age), he can do two things. He can either choose to do one small thing (examples of ours: Mommy does his chores the next day, special time with Mommy or Daddy, choosing that night’s meal, getting a toy out of toy jail, etc.); or, he can put a sticker on the poster board with the standards we are working on, and each sticker counts for six marbles for bigger tickets like a new toy. So if he isn’t obedient (prompt, perfect, and happy) he gets the rod; if he is obedient, he gets two marbles. We only have at most four standards we are working on at a time. When starting the process I would suggest obedience being your only standard as it’s pretty overwhelming just to practice that, but well worth all of the effort. If at any time in your training you see a lack of obedience coming back in, then you will need to start back at obedience again and work that until they have conquered that again. When implementing a new standard be sure to practice the standard several times, and practice the positive and negative consequences.

7. Don’t start with the same standards every day; start each day out with new choices. If you are always starting the standards out each day, the kids never get to practice character growth. They know the standards, but they have new choices every day to decide to obey or to rebel against them that day. You can make a picture of two roads and one having a picture of heaven at the end and one with the picture of destruction. make magnets of the kid’s faces and move them along the road throughout the day. If they are battling then take them and show them they have a choice to make. Let them see that the consequences of their actions, no matter how small, always have heavier consequences than what we see at the time. Through all of these steps above, our children learn reverence for authority and ultimately reverence for God. They also understand the consequences of sin in a much more powerful way.

8. We need to be thankful. Even before we see the results of what we have asked for and believe He will do for us. We should thank Him for it. Another great chapter in the Desire of Ages is “A Touch of Faith.” It is one of my favorites. Christ wants to richly bless us, but we have to be willing to see and thank Him for what He is and has done. There was a quote stating that, “It is by thanking God for what He has done and is doing is how we build our faith in Him.” That’s amazing! But, it also helps us to have the joy of the Christian experience.

In closing, I am so thankful for you guys letting me share my journey with you and for encouraging me. I pray that I will be able through these to share some helpful tips for you guys as parenting is a challenge and one of the greatest gifts we are able to receive. My prayers go out for all of you and your families. I look forward to Christ’s soon second coming where we will all be able to meet up there on the sea of glass — finally in our Savior’s presence!

 

 

 

Train Up A Child

homeschooler to entrepreneur

One of the most well-known verses on raising children is Proverbs 22:6. It is used as a source of comfort for many parents who have had children leave the church. Recently, I was doing a Bible study with someone and this verse came up. He told me that it is actually misinterpreted. I got online and started researching and reading. What I found was surprising since it actually pertains to educating a child. As a veteran homeschooler, I have long suggested that parents focus on educating their child using their interests and abilities. This verse here actually discusses this perspective.

The term “train up” comes from the Hebrew word chanac. In addition to training up a child, it also means to dedicate or consecrate a child. So, we are to dedicate our child to God as we tend to nurturing and disciplining him. God gave us this child to our care. Part of this raising in the Lord is for the parent to teach and demonstrate, but also the child is to actively assimilate the body of knowledge into their lives. We all know there is a difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge.

The term “in the way he should go” is often thought of training the child in God’s way of righteousness. This actually means “according to the tenor of his way.” This means we are to train this child in a way that matches his disposition, natural abilities, and personal character/personality.

We are to learn about our children. What makes them tick? What special talents and interests did God give them? We are to use this as a pathway to training them in God’s way. This point right here puts waste to the idea of a one-size-fits-all education model. Our child’s temperament needs to be considered with the training so that any adapting can be done so the child can achieve their God-given potential.

Now to the next phrase that offers so much hope to parents. Unfortunately, it is not about the “returning to the fold” belief that many hold. What it means is, if the child has been trained or raised up according to the natural talents/character in the pathway of truth, then he will not leave that teaching as he grows. The reason is that this lifestyle has become second nature.

Earlier I talked about the importance of the child assimilating the information into his life. This is how it becomes second nature. Very rarely do people leave their faith when it is second nature to how they live.

In Ellen White’s writings we are counseled to use nature to teach in the early years. We are to keep God’s lessons ever before their mind. She counsels to give children activities that will interest them. We are to help them channel their abilities into useful channels. This is how the principles of God are taken into our children’s lives and made second nature. It is the little things we do each day, using the natural talents and abilities to teach our children, that will help each child become a life-long follower of God who is fulfilling their specific purpose in life.

Staying Consistent at Home and School

I’ve heard it since I was round with my first overdue baby: “The secret to parenting is being consistent.”

My parents said it. Uncles and aunts said it. The doctor, the grocer, the pastor all said it. To a large degree I see it’s true, but on many days it feels the only thing consistent about our life and parenting is the chaos. This is especially clear now that our kids are old enough to homeschool.

Staying Consistent at Home

Although we often feel like failures in this department, there are a few things we can count on in our house. They may be few in number, but they pack a punch.

  • Sabbath
    We keep the Sabbath in our house. We may be less strict with toys and activities than some Sabbath-keeping families, and more strict in other aspects, but the weekly observance is the same. Our kids can count on the Sabbath. They can depend on church, lunch with the grandparents, and a relaxed day.
  • Discipline
    It may have been a rocky uphill climb, but we have finally landed on a system of discipline that works well for us. We stopped spanking, and our kids do push-ups for disobedience. It really has stopped a lot of behaviors that we were not happy with (including our own). The push-ups give the kids a chance to slow down, calm down, and breathe.
  • Love
    No matter what happens everyday (as I said, we live a hectic life), in our house the kids can count on love — hugs whenever they want them, lots of kisses and cuddles and encouraging words.
  • Nap Time
    Sometimes we aren’t at home for nap time or the kids sleep in the car. If this happens we skip nap time. If we’re home, though, the kids can count on nap time at 2 p.m. every day. This recharges Mom, gives the oldest an opportunity to have quiet time, and gives the two youngest some much-needed sleep.

Staying Consistent at School

Our homeschool is not consistent in any stretch of the imagination, but we’re working at it. At this point in time there is very little the kids can count on, because we just changed our curriculum. Since it’s so chaotic, we try to keep the things that we can as consistent as possible.

  • Rewards and Praise
    We try to reward the kids for school work, both in game time (either video games, or the games on their school program). We also like to use stickers, along with hugs and kisses (which works the best for the youngest two!).
  • Same Time
    I try very hard to have at least some class time at the same time each day. This affords my son the opportunity to think, “oh, it’s time for school,” at the same time each day. It also gives him a special time that’s just his. When the others are old enough to have school daily, I will give them their own time as well.
  • The Subject Matter
    We tried a curriculum that only taught sight words for reading, but realized our son responds better to phonics. We finally chose a system of learning that we’re happy with, so now we are sticking with it. We’re sticking with a curriculum that reflects our beliefs as well as what we learned, so we’re better able to teach them.

A Routine

It’s so important to have a routine. Since we’re not in a place to have a consistent routine in our house, we’re at least going to discuss a routine every morning, and that will be consistent. We can call it The Breakfast Battle Plan. This will be a solid start.

Stepping Back and Assessing

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“Love suffers long (is patient), love is kind, love does not envy, love wants not its own, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh not evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails,” 1 Corinthians 14.

Boy, some days it’s really hard to act like Christ. I will admit that I tend to do fine in public. Trying to keep a good appearance and being a fit representation of our Savior is always on my mind while I am out (especially when my son will not listen to me and I really want to paddle his behind — or wonder why I ever decided to bring him into this world). But, for some strange reason, when I walk through my front door everything seems to change.

Getting frustrated, angry, pouting, yelling, and sometimes out of control, I hate to admit, is not just a kid problem in my home, but it’s a Mommy problem too. I do so well until I’m pushed to my limit, and then I lose it and yell or get frustrated. The problem with that is we are to be an example in behavior to our children, as we are what they see. Whether inside our house or outside our house, we are called to show the principle of love, no matter the situation. Lord, help me as I really struggle with this on a daily basis. I am seeing some changing as time goes by, but, being a perfectionist, it’s not as fast as I want to see!

At ages five and two, my two kids are always copying everything they see — especially in Mommy’s and Daddy’s behavior. My son’s favorite saying right now is, “But, you get to, so why can’t I?” We get so sick of this question all day long…all evening and often after the kids are already in bed. “But, you get to stay up, so why can’t I?” How many times do you find yourself asking these questions to God? I think if you really analyze your life, you will find you ask questions like this more then you realize you do.

Having children is teaching me to see myself in a whole new light. I now understand why Christ says, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3.

A lesson in Child Rearing 101 for Bitsy: The questions I get annoyed with by my kids asking over and over again are the ones I tend to ask God. Each day I find myself asking one of those questions in an adult way. “Father, we’re having a huge financial issue. Why can’t you just send us a check in the mail?” Or, “Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?” Or, “Why did you give me kids? I feel so out of control right now.” But, no matter our circumstances God asks us to be like little children, to have the grace to be corrected, the ability to apologize, the quick forgiveness I see in my children when I have made mistakes, the simple trust and appreciation our kids so often have for us.

The Lord of all Wisdom understands our needs. He understands our children and our child-like questioning. He has broad shoulders to allow us to question and vent and help us with our frustration. Having little people copy exactly what we do in our daily lives challenges us to be able to change the way we handle situations and ourselves. You see, I believe children were given to us, not to change them into what they need to be, although that is a part of what our job as parents are, but to change US into what WE need to be — to challenge our daily lives and bring us back over and over again to the areas we need to work on, each time learning to surrender that issue to Him more and more. No, the training of my children is not so much intended for them but for me. It doesn’t help that God places a heavy responsibility on us to be parents, as our children are on loan to be raised for Him.

I really struggle as a parent because I take the responsibility very seriously, and I am sure that you do as well, as it is a huge responsibility and one that even the angels would give anything to have as well. Not only do we have the responsibility of helping our husband, keeping the house running smoothly, keeping meals on the table and laundry done and all of the other responsibilities of running a home, but we have the 24/7 jobs of wiping noses, missing sleep in the night, being tugged in more then one direction if we have more then one child, and somehow, among all of this, we are trying to look good for our husbands as well. I want to challenge you today. When we are struggling with the responsibility of parenting, are we really trusting that the Lord will work everything out for good? When we rely on Him, our strength is renewed and He will show us what to make as a priority for each day.

God has recently brought to my attention that a lot of my overwhelming issue with being a mom is that I am not truly trusting the Lord. I don’t take a few minutes each day to really spend time asking the Lord how I did for the day, assessing things I need to change, and surrendering those to the Lord for a clean start in the morning. The problem is fitting it in with all of the craziness going on in life with two totally crazy little ones who beg to have Mommy’s attention all the time.

With all of this I want you to be encouraged. Change is a slow process. My favorite author once penned, “Sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” Sometimes, to be honest, I wonder if my lifetime is going to be long enough as I have so many faults that need corrected, and the more I try to fix them it seems the stronger and more frequent they become. Why? Because when I am looking at my problem, I am forgetting to look at Christ, the one who overcomes all of my problems.

Each day as life gets busy and time seems short, let’s choose to take one day at a time, living in the moment and enjoying each and every second we have with our precious little ones. It takes three weeks to form a habit, so just hang in there and keep going. If you fall, get back up and keep going. When you finish the three weeks, add another task and work on that for three weeks. Our children are very forgiving, and I’m so grateful that God put such forgiveness into our little ones, as He knew they would need it with me.

So, in closing, let’s determine to take five minutes at the end of each day to step back and assess ourselves, our family, and our children. We will be walking on the road next to our Master.

Blessings as we start this new habit together!

Reformation in the Home: A Joyful Journey

naughtychild

My mission is to find joy this year in all the challenges we face in our home. I made a commitment to NOT let Satan steal our joy while we wrestle with how to discipline and how to reward from a young age in the lives of our children. This post is a post about right rewards, and, because today is Reformation Day, I thought, “Oh! Discipline is really just reform in our home.” Reform in our home has been about finding what needs to change, and working out the blessings of right living. So, come hear how we’ve been reforming and how God is blessing!

Our children are ages seven, five, and three. About six months ago, I read to them a chapter in Adventist Home titled, Mothers Helpers. I’d encourage all mamas to reread this chapter periodically, even out loud to the whole family! As I was reading, I was inspired to start a reform in our home. I want to help our children be better helpers in the home because this skill is something they will take with them when they leave the home, and it also teaches them in a practical way how to honor their parents, a commandment for which training and daily practice is required. Out of this realization, I have been slowly developing what we call “Blessing Cards” in our home. This system is still a work in progress, just like reform often opens the door for further reform, like in the case of our walk with Jesus.

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2 Peter 1:5-8. 

Over the summer our routine loosened a bit while we spent more time enjoying the sunshine and in our garden. That being said, I found myself often repeating myself to remind the children of their little chores or obligations within the home. So, although I forsook the chore chart long ago because it was one more thing to keep track of, we decided to implement a reminder system to help the children with a tangible reminder. I posted their reforms in their bedrooms; we call them the “Morning High Fives” — five things they must do in the morning,and preferably before breakfast, so when they come to sit down they can give Mama or Daddy a high five of completion. I know, totally dorky, but we all think it’s fun.

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I have added to their reform cards, including a stop sign for their ongoing expectations like picking up toys when they’re finished and putting away their own clothes (with help if necessary). We also have a star on the list for their one extra household chore for the year, and that way they learn efficiency with this one chore throughout the year, and at the same time I am not assigning weekly or daily who is doing what.

Now for the rewards, right?! I wrestled with the idea of allowance because it doesn’t fit with our family’s ideals, BUT I also wanted to be able to give my children some kind of tangible blessing as they had now come to understand that sinning in our home leads to consequences and choosing right living through practicing self-control leads to blessings. I do believe that blessing our children looks like a variety of things, including encouraging words from Mom or Dad, one-on-one time, and little privileges not normally expected, as well as those privileges expected and often overlooked. So, we made a stack of blessing cards which the children helped me decorate and laminate. I made up a list of what the blessing cards could be used for or saved up to use for. The children were so enthusiastic, and it did work wonders for me not having to remind them for the first few weeks… And then, as others may have experienced, reform started to lose its luster in our home. I wondered if the blessing cards where even the great idea I thought they’d be, or if I should just not even bother…

Last week, as we were studying the end of Moses’ life, I read a quote that gave me courage to continue our Reformation in the home. It came from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 470: “God speaks to His people in blessings bestowed; and when these are not appreciated, He speaks to them in blessings removed, that they may be led to see their sins, and return to Him with all the heart.” Our memory verse that week was Joshua 1:9, and the sentiment “Be strong and of a good courage” was repeated multiple times throughout our reading. I decided it would take true Christian courage from both the children and this mama in the Reformation of our home life to be filled with blessings!

So my prayer is that whatever Reformation you have going on in the home of your heart, homeschool, and family, you might find the courage to continue and find joy in the journey!

Many Blessings,

Allison