Grocery Challenge Update

I completely failed this challenge.

But with every goal set, regardless of if one hits the mark or not, there is good that comes from making the goal.

I’m not even sure how much I actually went over my challenge because fast food happened, Hubby grabbed a few things from the store, I made a quick dash to pick up somethings.  When I did the shopping for the camping trip, I spent over $200.  So, I know that I was way over what I was hoping to spend.

However, doing this challenge required me to be more mindful about what was happening.  I realized a few things in this process.

Purposeful Planning Days are Essential

We started having purposeful planning days for me in January.  This is the time for me to quiet my mind, plan school, plan food, make lists of top priorities.  Hubby and I were both noticing such benefits from this time for the 4 to 5 weeks that I consistently held to having this time.  But then I missed several weeks in a row of this time.  Some of those missed where because I was sick.  Apparently, something else interfered with the other weeks, though its like grasping to hold air in my mind as I try to place my finger on what caused the interruption.  Nonetheless, it serves my family and me well to have a few hours of quiet to collect my thoughts and make a plan for what needs to happen in our home.  I am more grounded as a result of having this time and have a better idea of what steps to take in a week.

I need to let some things go or rearrange the timing of activities

The end of the week for me is crazy.  On Fridays we have a homeschool co-op that we go to.  Thursdays is the day of preparation for Friday.  We get bags packed, homework finished to turn in, I finalize my preschool lesson for the week and gather all the materials and toys for the preschool class, we pack snacks, pack lunches, come up with a grab and run breakfast. Thursdays are just hectic.  That is followed by Thursday evenings which either consist of AHG and TrailLife meetings or Women’s Fellowship Time.  Our entire family attends AHG/Traillife meetings.  Hubby is a Traillife leader.  I am an AHG leader.  The 2 older girls participate in AHG while Sweet Potato is in TrailLife.  The 3 younger girls run between hubby and me and the nursery.  We finish up at those meetings late generally getting up at 8:45-9.  If we are having a good night kids are in bed by 10, but there have been many nights where they are all still up at 11.  We then finish up with lunches and gathering supplies.

Women Fellowship Night is much calmer than AHG/TrailLife days, but I am still generally not home till 10.

Fridays are busy days with coop.  It ends a bit after lunch.   Then on choir days (generally ever other week) the kids have practice from 1:30-3:30.  Every week , I pick up veggies and milk from a local farmer, which about an hour process.

When I get home I’m spent.  Sometimes I manage to get dinner on the table.  More often than not we end up with leftovers or take out.  These are the times I most resent Fibro. I feel like I should get so much more done.  But I just crash.

I then feel like the rest of the weekend I am running to keep up with all the things to do on during that weekend.

All of these things are good.  But it is so much packed in to a few days.  This is where money gets blown on food eaten out.

So I am realizing that I need to let some things on my calendar go in order for us to meet our financial goals, along with other goals for our family. Or I need to spread my activity outside the home out through out the week.

My Best Parenting Advice

The three littles are outside playing.  The older three are strung out on the floor listening to Shakespeare flowing fort from my mouth as I read to them excerpts of his poetry.  My phone rings.  Instinctively, I look down, to my phone and see my friend’s name come up on the screen.  My first response is that I will just let voicemail pick it up, but reconsider that knowing that she doesn’t call for nothing, and I need to pick up the phone.  I apologize to the kids for interrupting their lesson, but tell them I really need to answer this.

I say hello, and hear the crack in her voice as she answers back with, “Hey, do you have a minute.  If you don’t its okay.”

And I know that at this moment my ministry needs to be to my friend.  The kids are happy for a break anyhow. They move on to books of their liking, block building, and bouncing on an inflatable house.

She asks me questions about how to parent in different situations. Hard places. She tells me of the struggles that her and kids are walking through.  What is the best way to train? What is the best way to discipline?  What is the best way to teach them in this place?  And how do you teach them when the sin that they are struggling with is the one that seems to entangle the parent so often?

I share that I understand the plight.  We’ve seen some of the same things in our home.  I share ideas of what worked with some of my kids.  I tell her it could be so many things.  There could be so many answers.

And then I share my best parenting advice.

Pray.  You need to pray. Only through the Holy Spirit will you have the insight needed.  He can show you if the heart of the issue is the child’s sin, a health issue, a diet issue, bad influences the kid has come in contact with, or even if it is an issue with your parenting.  He can show you the root and the solution.

My next piece of advice for parents would be, have faithful friends you can call.  Friends who know what it is like to be in the trenches of parenting life and are not afraid to share openly their own struggles.  Find friends who will pray for you and with you.

Happy Resurrection Day

We intended to have cards in the mail to friends and family for Resurrection day, but every time we scheduled a picture session, our town was hit with thunderstorms and flash flood watches. So we snapped a picture today after church.

May your family be blessed today.

He has risen! He is alive. We can have life because of what He has done.



It’s time for 5-Minute Friday Post.  Where writers bravely write for 5 minutes on a word put forth by Kate Motaung, the host of 5 Minute Friday.


I never feel like I can get there.

Always striving. Always missing the mark.

Now good enough. Sometimes I make it there.

Mismatched socks.

Piles of stuff undone.

My “want -to’s”pushed to the side.

I settle often, but I never quite feel like I achieve good.

I guess because the word has been cheapened.  We were told as kids, heck I tell my own kids, “be good.”  But realistically, one can not be good.  Scripture tells us this foundational truth, “there is none who is good, no not one.

There is a yearning in many people to achieve goodness.  But apart from Christ we cannot be good.

Something that seems like it should be so simple is to just be good.  We so nonchalant with the way we use this word.  Yet it can not be accomplished apart from Christ.  We are in a desperate need for Him for there to be any goodness, any beauty, any good work.

 Oh, how we need Jesus.

Because what He has done is good.  He finished His work of creating us and He said it was good.

He completed His work on the cross and said it was done.  And that was good.

But I spend my days striving to accomplish more in attempt to feel as if I am good, and yet what I really need to do is run to Him. Let His goodness cover me.  Allow Him do that work that He has begun in me. Trust Him to finish what He desires to finish in me because He is good.

Spelling City

We have recently started using Spelling City in our house to cover the basics of spelling while giving our kids more opportunity to use technology. The teacher can add their own lists of words or assign a list from lists available on the site. There are lists available based on grade level, as well as based on subjects There are various activities the teachers can assign to their students from typing out words, playing games, alphabetizing, and performing tests. Some of the games can be played on i-pads, others are computer based.

My kids now look forward to spelling each day.  I have also found it to be helpful for my time because the kids are no longer waiting on me to be free to help them with their spelling.

SpellingCity is used by teachers in the homeschool community, public schools, and private schools.  Parents can also set up an account for their child to supplement their schooling.

As with all things, there are benefits to a paid memberships, such as student data is tracked, a vocabulary tests based off of spelling words, and no ads.There are also options to play games and take spelling tests without having a membership. My neighbor who is a public school teacher has added the app to the i-pads in her classroom and has benefited from this service also.

I am not an affiliate for SpellingCity.  This is just something that has made our homeschooling more effective during this season, so I wanted to share it with my readers.

Special Offer

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Spelling tests made easy

Break With A Mission

We were camping last weekend.  I attempted my FMF post while driving but internet was spotty.  Since I wrote it, I will be brave and go ahead and post.

Friday’s Word was: BREAK.

As I thought about the word break, images of playing basketball during my school years kept coming forth.

Here I go:

Team huddled in a circle, arms extended in, hand stacked upon one another.  The plan is given.  “BREAK!”  Players scatter ready to defend and score points. The huddle gives instruction, puts everyone on the same page.  Purpose.  The “Break” signifies “Go.”

Christ gave us the “Go.” The Words are in the great commission. Go into the world and make disciples.

I wonder what would happen if the smaller church – the local church, meet together in small huddles. Every believer given details on what area to defend, which offensive play was at hand.  We would then move forward in a “Break” scenario with enthusiasm working as a team until it was time for checking in at the next huddle meeting to revamp the strategy. Would we be more effective in our mission to “Go and make disciples” instead of lost wandering around on the playing field of this life, players stumbling over each other’s feet, because no one knows where the other is going? Would our impact be greater?

Check out what the other brave writers had to say in 5 minutes on the word break over at the Kate Motaung’s blog.


How would you view a “breaking with a mission” mindset?

Thanks: The Example of Jesus

My need to grow in thanksgiving has grown more and more evident in my life.  For years I have had a thankful journal.  This week, I determined it was time for me to start a topical Bible study on thanks during my quiet time. I would like to share what moved my heart this morning.

This morning, I found myself studying out of the book of Matthew.  Jesus is at the last supper.

Then HE took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remissions of sins.  – Matthew 26:27-28

Here we see Jesus give thanks for the wine in the cup. But he also gave thanks for what it symbolized: His blood, His sacrifice, and His ability to pay the price for their sins.

Oh, what a great love.

He was not complaining, resisting, dragging His feet.  No, he was giving thanks for what was to come. He was giving thanks for the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter,  the trial to come, the beatings, the cross. He was giving thanks for the greatest pain- the separation of Him and the Father as He bore the weight of the world’s sin on His shoulders.

He knew all this was to come; that He would be able to shed His blood for the price of the human race’s sins. Yet He still gave thanks. 

Oh, what a great example is our Lord!

Prayer: O, Lord.  Thank You for such a precious gift.  Thank you, Jesus that You loved your disciples, the whole human race, so much that You were found giving thanks for the torture that was to come.  Thank You for the great example to give thanks in the midst of life’s hardest trials.  Thank You for the beautiful picture that You are and give.  Oh, how great is Your Love.

Parenting Lessons in the Potty Room

Downsizing in bathrooms, I decided we had to get creative in creating privacy while still making our home as functional as possible.  We installed a curtain in front of our toilet, to allow for the toilet to be used, while someone else has access to the master closet, shower, or the bathroom sinks.


I was behind the curtain finishing up my business, when the curtain flies up, and a sweet curly head emerges, and grabs my neck to engulf me in a hug.  I was in mid-wipe position, and could tell my balance would quickly be lost.  “Stop.  Wait till I’m done to hug me. ” Dewberry crumbles to the floor and dissolves into tears.  These are not fit tears, or disobedient tears, but crushing hurt tears. I try explaining to her that I love her so much and I appreciate her hugs, but it is inappropriate to come up and hug and kiss someone while they are using the potty.

But ohh…I stop.  


Momma misstepped.

I realized what I did.

Somewhere along the road of parenting a larger than average family, I picked up this piece of advice.  I’m not sure if it came from Michelle Duggar or Kelly Crawford of Generation Cedar.  Perhaps it was another large family momma, but somewhere I read to carve out special time with the kids in the routine, including bathroom and diaper time.  This mom made the point that you have to change the little’s diapers or wipe their bottoms anyways. So while doing these things, speak truth and love into their little hearts.  Tell them that you love them.  Let them know reasons you find they are special.  Express gratefulness that they are a part of your family.

I took this to heart and for the last several years, I have tried to make a point to speak kind uplifting words to them, especially in those times that I have most not wanted to be wiping a bottom.  Often times when I finish wiping their bottoms and get their panties pulled back up, I will give them a big hug and a kiss on their face.

Dewberry was offended because she felt rejected.  She was just offering up to her momma the same kind of affection that she’s been getting from her momma.  But Momma was less than pleased.  And she didn’t understand.

Momma had to apologize to her.

This incidence was a reminder to me: our children are watching us and learning how life works, even when we are unaware.

What are some of the unusual times that you look to speak love into your kids’ hearts?

building a platform vs seeking an inner room

About the time that I decided to pursue this blogging endeavor again, I was asking myself to what end?  Why do I want to blog?  What do I hope to accomplish through conveying thoughts and ideas to whoever happens to stumble upon my blog?  What is my message?  What am I about?  To be quite honest with you, I haven’t settled all these questions in my heart.

But this seeking: this question asking, is not only relevant to my blog life.  It is extremely pertinent to all aspects of my life, especially spiritual life.  Because in actuality one can not separate the spiritual from the practical.  The spiritual invades all areas of ones life.  There is no separation.

So, as I am seeking out to relearn the basic stuff I knew about blogging before my blogging hiatus and pursuing other resources on building a successful blog, I was also seeking out the filling of my mind during any empty time with spiritual truth.

For my birthday, my mom had given me a cd of devotionals featuring various Christian speakers (affiliate link). I really enjoyed all of them.  One in particular has stood out in my mind as I’ve been investigating blogging.  Beth Moore in her talk about rooftops said something along the lines that we are rooftop-platform seeking people.  We all want a platform.  A place to shout out to the masses. We all want to be heard. But instead, we should be closet seeking. She goes on to say that we are to be seeking His message in a quiet place and when He gives us a message, He will in His time give us a rooftop or a platform.

Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. – Luke 12:3

In the space of time from hearing her message, all the blog gurus gush with ways of developing a platform.  While I am quite thankful for the information that freely abounds on blog building, I find my heart contemplating the question: am I closet seeking or am I platform seeking?

I realize that my first pursuit must be seeking the heart of the Lord. To do that I must be inner room seeking.  I must be looking to stow away with the Lord, in the closets of my heart and in the inner rooms of my home.  How can I still myself in my mind, which is jumping rapidly from item to item littered throughout my head, regarding all the cares that I need to tend to in a day?  I must find the way.  I must quiet my thoughts, gaze upon His majesty.  Drink the calmness and the peace that is poured forth only in His presence.  I must search His word, beg for eyes to see the beauty laid out in the Word.

To serve Him through this blog or any aspect of life, I must seek to know what He would tell me in the secret, in the closet.  I must wait for Him to build the rooftop or platform that He wants me on. Be it a platform before a few or a platform before many.

Do I want people to read my blog? Sure, I do.  Am I aiming for hundred’s or thousands of readers?  Well, not really.  My offerings are meager, but they are for the Lord.  I am writing because I enjoy the process of putting words to paper.

I like to investigate, learn, do and then share from experience.  If I publish a post with my thoughts, people have the freedom to read if they are interested instead of being caught up in a conversation with me that bores them deeply.  If they aren’t interested, they don’t have to read but avoid appearing rude.

I enjoy the pursuit of encouraging others through the practical application of life.  I believe that God has called me to uniquely influence those people He has appointed me to rub shoulders with in real life and online.

Whether my blog reaches one, tens, hundreds, or thousands, my prayer is that it will be a sacrifice to Him who sacrificed all for me.  That it will be a sweet aroma to Him and that it might just bless the heart of one reader.

If I make a few dollars here or there through affiliate links sharing those things that have been helpful to me, perhaps it will be enough to pay the cost for site hosting.

So, while many questions regarding blogging and what current steps the Lord is calling me to pursue in real life are not yet answered with more than “seek Me” and “Wait on the Lord,” I am certain of one thing. Truly, I want to be more about inner room seeking than platform building.  I want to hear the secrets He has for me.

Disclosure:  This post contains an affiliate link.  If you choose to click on it and purchase the item, I will gain a small commission at no extra charge to you.

I linked up with Testimony Tuesday.  A place for writers to share God’s fingerprints in their life.

Holly Barrett

Gather At The Table

This is written as part of 5-Minute Friday, where brave writers assemble together online, to share 5 minutes worth of written word on a given topic put forth by Kate Motaung.

This Weeks Word: gather

 Come, Gather at the table.


You will find us here much of our day.

We gather at the table for breakfast and to soak our teeth in on wisdom from Proverbs.

School happens around our table.  Math, history, drawing.

Conversations happen, gathered at our table.  Laughter, tears.  We see it all.  Gathered at the table.

We work on teaching the children to put others first.  Chew with their mouths closed.  We teach the practical while sitting, gathered at the table.  

Spiritual connections are made, formed, deep into their little  minds and souls. As we gather at the table, to share our victories, frustrations, thanksgivings. To raise our voice to the Lord.

All this, while gathered at the table.

 Click on through to read other great pieces around the theme of gather.

I would love to hear in the comment section about how you find yourself gathering around the table.


Restless Place

I have little to offer in my post this morning except just honesty on where I am.

I find myself in a restless place.  As I pray and read scripture these last few days, there are verses that jump off the page, moving my soul in ways I grasp for words to explain.

  • Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
  • Psalm 33:13-15 The Lord looks from heaven;  He sees all the sons of men from the place of His dwelling. He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.
  • Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
  • Psalm 28:14 – Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.
  • Philippians 1:12 – but I want you to know brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out from the furtherance of the gospel.

Words from my prayer journal this morning:

Disturb me Lord, if I need to be disturbed. Convict me Lord if it’s sin causing unrest in my soul. Jesus I do want to move when you say move, I want to stay put when You call me to stay put.

Lord, help me to look to You, not myself. Jesus, You are good.  You will gently lead. You will guide my steps.