Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Am I Doing Enough?


I love summer mission trips. 

As a teenager, I went on several. My first was a trip to Honduras when I was 14 and I'm not going to lie, IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I went to Mexico the following two summers and I can say that experiencing life outside my comfortable 'first world' bubble was humbling and gratifying and I'm so glad my parents sacrificed their time, money, prayers, and stress levels (HELLO!)  to allow me experiences like that. 

Coming back (or re-entry, as it's sometimes called) gave my teenage self a romantic vision of future mission field work with my nameless, faceless future spouse. I COULD JUST SEE US working in the mountains with the people, learning the language and reaching their souls for Christ because until we came, they'd never have heard the name of Jesus. 

Then I went to college. I continued my educational career and the opportunities to continue international mission work waned. I charted a course through my studies, began dating and then married my husband, Matt and suddenly my spouse wasn't nameless or faceless anymore. I finished my degrees and began teaching in a fabulous school in our county but the back burner dream of reaching lost souls for Him still burned. 

I'd see others begin long term mission works of their own or watch as high school students embarked on their own first mission adventures and the feelings I had all those years ago for mission work would surge back and I would remember the fire that had been ignited all those years ago. I still desired to reach those who didn't know Him. 

Then, after a few more years, we had a baby. Then, 18 months later- we had another one. Then, 17 months after that- we had our third bundle. I became a SAHM and later a homeschooler to my oldest two and while raising a bunch of homeschool weirdos was fulfilling and I loved it, there were times when I began to doubt the amount of my affect on the world for Him. 

AM  I DOING ENOUGH??

A member of our congregation's youth group took their first international mission trip this summer, and as I heard the stories and watched as my social media feeds filled with re-entry stories and testimonies and changed lives, that now familiar nagging feeling came back to the surface. "What difference am I really making now?? What happened to the zeal I felt? I don't feel like I'm doing ANYTHING to spread the Gospel now." 

AND THEN IT HIT ME. I am doing mission work. Right here, in my home, with my family. God's given me my own village full of souls who, before they met me, had never once heard the name of Jesus. While I may not be trekking through mountainous terrain to reach the lost, I am traveling my own path to touch lives for Him. It's just that I'm crossing valleys of Legos and rivers of spilled chocolate milk instead. 

Every day I'm working to point three souls Christ. I'm the first and biggest and most influential force in their lives and to them, in this moment- I have become The Gospel with skin on. Their view of Jesus and His love and grace and care are nearly wholly dependent on how they see Him working in my life daily. Everyday I get to work in my 1,749 square foot mission field as I use my actions and words and feelings to show them Jesus and point their way toward Him. 

So while I may not be in a foreign country or in a far off land teaching and preaching and serving- God has put me just where He wants me to work. Right here reaching out to the souls He has charged me with. And maybe one day, there will be another opportunity to serve somewhere else but until then- I'll keep working where He has planted me. 

Thanks for stopping by.  ~Katie. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Me + Disaster Relief= Desserts


Ok, so here's the deal: My go-to crisis reaction is to cook because when the going gets tough, I go to the kitchen. AND HERE IS THE DEAL- I'm heading back in there now. 

I'm going to have an old fashioned Bake Sale for my local Florida friends who want to help support those who are recovering from the unprecedented flooding in South Louisiana. There are those who are suffering and have lost everything- and all proceeds from this Bake Sale will go DIRECTLY to families in need. 

For a donation of $10 you can buy an 8" pan of some delicious "500 Year Rain" Raisin Bread Pudding covered with a deluge of 'no-flood-zone' vanilla sauce. I'll be taking orders from now until Saturday, August 27th and have them ready for pick up or local delivery on Monday, September 5th. You can comment below or message me to place your order, and make your donations in cash or check. 

I'm going to be cranking out as many bread puddings as I can possibly bake in hopes to raise as many donations as possible to support their relief and recovery costs. And if you can't afford a donation, you can always pray for the families and churches and business affected as they begin the rebuilding process or share this donation opportunity with your friends who can. 

Thank you for helping me do a small part to keep #louisianastrong.

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Back to {HOME} School Vortex



It's that time of year again, y'all! 

All the crayons are on sale and Ticonderoga pencils are still the VIPs in the writing tool department and the aisles are flooded with equal parts glue sticks, 3 ring binders, and loose leaf paper packs. In other words- IT IS LIKE HEAVEN TO ME. 

Office supplies are my jam, y'all. When I'm 93 and senile, my kids are going to discover a cache of horded crystal clear Bic pens because I can NOT stop myself from buying them. (They are the superior ink pen. Anybody that says differently is dead to me.) 

I taught in (an amazing!) public school before the kids came along, so the "Back to School" frenzy is one that I'm familiar with. [So is the blood born pathogens video they make teachers watch every.single.year. WE GET IT. Wear gloves. It's smart and safe. ::check::]

Anyway, what I was surprised to discover was that the pre planning school year whirlwind I rode when I taught public school TOTALLY TRANSFERRED home with me when I began homeschooling. The same desire to empty my classroom desk and wipe out all my cubbies and weed through readers and puzzle boxes and math manipulative IS JUST AS STRONG here as it was there. Only now, I don't have a classroom to have an organizational freak out fest in, I HAVE AN ENTIRE HOUSE to spazz out on. 

I don't know why, but in the last few weeks I've had the compulsion to organize my plastic container cabinet because surely I can't teach Luke math if every tub doesn't have a matching lid. I've taken apart my linen closet because old candles and dusty lightbulb boxes would  make Phonics instruction absolutely impossible. I refolded my Tshirt dresser drawer because without doing so, I wouldn't be able to focus on our science curriculum. I swept out the garage and drove a gigantic load of toys and lagniappe coffee cups to our local mission this week because NO ONE CAN LEARN in a house with too many outgrown toddler clothes. 

So if you need me between now and Monday morning, check for me under my bed organizing 2014's tax return file box or look in our backyard where I'll be hauling broken plastic shovels and sand toys and cups to the recycling bin. It's an urge I'm powerless to resist. I.must.purge. 

So whether you're organizing your classroom or organizing your house- Happy Back to School madness all my teacher friends! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~ Katie. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

a real {LIVE} Bible study how-to tour


So here's the deal, I'm NOT a Bible scholar. Like, at all. Ever. I know I've told y'all this before. There are zero parts of me that think myself some high faluting Bible authority person because let's be honest, I still want to put 2 m's in the word amount. And you can't struggle with basic spelling rules and be a noteworthy Bible scholar because it's against the rules. 

So there, I'm not. 

BUT WHAT I DO KNOW is how important my personal deep daily Bible study has become to my life. By God's grace I've gotten into the habit of studying and reading and praying before the kids get up every morning and y'all- it's a GAME CHANGER. 

I was talking with some of my friends last week about this very thing. We were discussing (read: texting) about the idea of daily prayer time and Bible study and the idea came up that while everybody TALKS about how important it is to read and study and pray every day, it's hard to find real life, real world examples of how it's actually DONE. I took some very sophisticated, artfully staged pictures (sarcasm) of my spaces and showed them how I made my house and space work for my needs. I showed them my prayer journal and closet and they snapped pictures back of their areas AND IT WAS SO NICE. Because real Moms with real kids and real husbands and houses and laundry baskets and work schedules want to read and study and pray every day just like me. It was so encouraging. 

You see, it's easy to tell someone how fundamental daily Bible study and prayer is to you, but is hard to translate that into real, practical, workable ideas until you can SEE HOW IT IS DONE. So that's what I'm praying about doing. 

::gulp::

I'm planning to do a series of Live videos on the blog's Facebook page showing anybody that is interested the real life, real world, in my real house with toys and coffee cups and walls way that I do my daily study and prayer time. I AM PETRIFIED. Live vidoes are intimidating! But, it's my humble and prayerful hope that by opening up and explaining and showing and talking about how I do what I do every day, that there may be some ideas that you'll find useful or helpful or applicable to your own lives. (or at least funny.) 

It looks like I'll be going live at night after I get the kids to bed- maybe around 8:30. (LET US PRAY!) And the videos will be short because I know nobody wants to listen to me drone on about notebooks and study plans for 65 minutes straight, amIright?? ::wink:: I'll be working on a schedule and I'll get more specific details out to y'all soon. But first, I need a little more coffee. Have a fantastic and fully caffeinated day, y'all! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie

Oh! p.s.- If you're so inclined, hop on over to the blog's page and let me know if you're interested and if there is a night of the week that's easier for you than others. (I'm thinking week nights so that weekend family time isn't interrupted.) 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Summer Lovin'. Lovin' Summer.


So it's precisely 11:15am and I'm sitting (read: SWEATING) on our deck while the kids splash in their blow up pool. The thunder has been rumbling all morning, and the dark skies to our west indicate that a classic Florida storm is forming. 

The kids woke up this morning, and after our Bible and breakfast and yogurt straining (I sometimes fancy myself a modern day homesteader and bask in the frugality of preparing some foods in my kitchen rather than buying them off the shelf. Also- WE EAT A BUNCHA YOGURT and Dave Ramsey says that spending $30 on it every two weeks is insane and I've got to agree. Homemade for the win, y'all.) and PayDoh and chores were finished, I sunscreened us like crazy and shuffled us outside. 

HALLELUJAH, go burn off somma that energy, kids. 

The two littles are splashing and squabbling over inflatable pool toys and my oldest is running around with the hose "watering" my  plants. (He's really just spraying it over his head like a geyser and drinking from the end. Hose water is good for kids, by the way. It's got...vitamins. I think.) 

In half an hour or so, I'll usher us inside to hang up their wet clothes and change them into dry ones. I'll fix lunch, put my youngest down for a nap and then drink a cup (or two) of my afternoon coffee. I'll putz around doing laundry and fixing supper and gathering up things to drop off at Goodwill on later this week. We'll all snuggle on the couch and gorge on popcorn while we watch Home for the 17,000th time. 

Supper time will come and the kids will bargin for bites and beg for dessert and leave their chairs and hands and faces sticky. They'll bathe and then I'll "mop" the bathroom floor with the tub run off and floss all their teeth and read our Bible story. My husband will wind them up with tickle fights and piggy back rides and then we will eventually be able to snuggle and pray and sing our way to getting them tucked into bed. Today will end, and tomorrow will be nearly identical but with different dirty clothes and new sandwich crusts to feed the dog. 

It's easy for me to become anxious for our new school year to begin. After church yesterday I ordered our new curriculum for next year and in just a few short weeks, school will officially start for us. And, while I'm starting to crave the stricter schedule and more detailed plans that our days will have, I can't help but stop and soak up these last lazy days of summer. 

So until our workbooks arrive and we start counting down to Halloween, I'm just going to drink my cold glass of water and enjoy view from my rocker. Happy last days of summer, y'all! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

New Mercies. Hallelujah.


After the debacle that WAS all the things yesterday afternoon/evening, today's chapter in Proverbs offered (as usual) an awesome nugget of truthful goodness. 

"Apply your heart to discipline, and your ears to the words of knowledge."
~Proverbs 23:12

THAT IS MY GAME PLAN ALL DAY TO-DAY. 

I don't know if Solomon knew much back then about overcoming the struggles a SAHM who's husband worked about 459 hours over the past two weeks and weekends has, or if he ever had to find strength and encouragement and sanity in a household that's plagued by summer tuberculosis on top of it, but it sure sounds like he did. And I'm so grateful for it. 

::fist bump::

If you're not reading the dates corresponding chapter in Proverbs as part of your daily Bible study, let this be an encouragement to start. There's SO MUCH good stuff in there y'all. You won't be disappointed. PROMISE. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Choosing. It's Hard.


This is a tough one to write, y'all because I blew it as a parent today. BLEW IT WIDE OPEN. Zero "Mom of The Year" medals were awarded to me today. It.was.rough. FOR ALL OF US.

This afternoon disintegrated around me faster than I'd ever thought possible and in an effort of self preservation, I may have put all three of my kids to bed tonight at 7pm just to be able to put an end to this day. Mercy sakes. 

Ten hours earlier, I'd been drinking coffee at my kitchen table with my Mom, never suspecting the brittle and broken edges that the day would leave me surrounded with. 

You see, the kids were pushing my buttons all afternoon and I knew it. Moms, you know what I mean because you can see the storm coming. The horse playing began to become more and more "enthusiastic" and their selective hearing worsened with every rebuke aimed their way. The supper I fixed (including homemade mac and cheese, THE NECTAR OF THE SAINTS) went largely untouched and month old stale marshmallows were begged for like they were manna from Heaven. RUDE. Nobody wanted to pick up puzzle pieces or have their teeth flossed. A cup of milk was mysteriously splashed all over every single surface in my kitchen, but NO ONE SAW IT HAPPEN. A pillow sprang a leak and there were suddenly 328 tiny feathers sprinkled all over my freshly vacuumed living room rug. 

OR DO THINGS LIKE THIS ONLY HAPPEN IN MY HOME?

Today found me making choices and I didn't make good ones. I chose anger instead of peace. I chose reacting instead of responding. I chose temper over grace. I chose the emotions that were easy for me to access instead of the fruits that would've taken work to acquire.  

I chose poorly. And I knew immediately, as I thundered and stormed and rained around my house and my kids and my dog and my cat that the choices I was making, while they may have felt easiest at the time, were going to be the ones that were going to leave me with a bitter taste in the back of my throat but I didn't care, because losing my temper felt good in the moment. Yikes.

But here's the thing, y'all: Feelings are fickle. They can change and evolve and morph in moments. What "feels" good in one moment can leave you feeling shameful and guilty and drained in the next. (Ask me how I know. ::cringe::) Feelings shouldn't be allowed to rule over my spirit- My spirit should rule over my feelings.

And you see, knowing the right choice and choosing to make it are two totally different things. And that's where my big mistake came. I knew the choice I should've made, but I didn't chose it. Why? BECAUSE I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE IT. The good choice was hard. The bad choice was easy. And today- I chose easy over hard. And I hate it. I hate it so, so, SO MUCH.

So tonight, before I go to bed, I'll lay it all at His feet. I'll empty all this awful, heavy, hard baggage I'm carrying and leave it there. I'll go to sleep knowing that I've cried and snuggled and repaired things with both my kids and my Savior. And tomorrow, when I get up early to drink my coffee and read my Bible and start my day- I'll be able to humble myself and begin again. And, my prayer will be that when the choices come, that I'll have the strength to chose the right one even if it's the hard one. 

And I'll have a huge batch of homemade apology blueberry muffins waiting for the kids, too. Because breakfast pastries are their love language.