Still a Jesus Girl

Galatians 5:22-23  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Every year for the last few years instead of making a New Year’s resolution I spend some time alone with God going over how the previous year went and asking for direction for the coming year;  Telling Him all the things I want to do better at and listening for the plans He has for me.  And every year I come away from that time with a word or phrase for the year.  In 2014 I learned about standing up and speaking out and boy did I grow that year!  A week after I heard that word I was on national TV being interviewed about homeschooling.  That was the year this girl, an avowed introvert spoke at two Homeschool events, helped on the local Homeschool convention committee, and spoke in Genealogy club as well.

And yet every year I feel like I’ve failed, like I didn’t really study or work on it enough, sometimes I even wonder if I heard right.  I remember one year I learned about hospitality; at the beginning of the year I read several books about hospitality.  We lived in a big house and I had these big ideas of how I would be hospitable.  By the end of the year I felt like I had failed.  We didn’t have enough guests come and stay, I didn’t invite enough friends over for tea and Bible study. During my time with God He revealed to me all of the ways I had used what I had to be hospitable.

For 2015 my word was “Goodness”.   A word we are all familiar with but do we really know what it means to practice goodness?   Scripture talks about the Goodness of God and it is one of the fruits of the Spirit. But what is goodness and how do we live it?

dictionary.com defines Goodness as moral excellence; virtue.  Eastman’s Bible dictionary says, “Goodness in man is not a mere passive quality, but the deliberate preference of right to wrong, the firm and persistent resistance of all moral evil, and the choosing and following of all moral good.”

I studied this word the first few months of the year and then life got crazy and I thought about it only during fleeting moments and then only to despair of ever learning about goodness.  But the struggles of this year have really caused me to dig into God, and fully lean on His Spirit within me.  I have learned so much about goodness this year and how God is working goodness through me and has since I was a little Jesus girl.

In today’s culture, being a “good” girl is treated with disdain by many people.  If you are a good girl you must be boring, prudish, naive, etc… I have had people try to peg me as all of these things, and this year even as judgmental, traditional, and a fundamentalist.  All because I prefer to follow after what is morally good.  I don’t always make the best choices but I continue to work on it.  And because last year I learned to stand up for my beliefs, this year I have learned to not be ashamed or embarrassed of being good and doing good.

I am excited to learn what God has in store for me next year!  What has God been teaching you this year?

Habakkuk

Habakkuk 2:1 has been my life verse for about 6 years now.  At that time our pastor taught on verse two but when I read verse one it just settled something in me.  Here it is in the NKJV:

IMG_1499“I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart,  And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.”

For me that meant I will stand my ground, continue doing what God has set before me to do.  I will watch for God and see what He will say and how He will guide me.

But Mathew Henry’s Commentary has this to say about Habakkuk 2:1, “I will stand upon my watch, as a sentinel on the walls of a besieged city, or on the borders of an invaded country, that is very solicitous to gain intelligence.  I will look up, will look round, will look within, and watch to see what He will say unto me, and will listen attentively to the words of his mouth and carefully observe the steps of his providence, that I may not lose the least hint of instruction or direction. It later says that “his standing upon his watch intimates his patience, his constancy and resolution; he will wait the time, and weather the point, as a watchman does, but he will have an answer; he will know what God will say to him.”

That verse has gotten me through some rough times in the last few years.  When things get difficult and I want to give up, run away, find an easier way; I remember these words and I stay strong, and I look up, look for God’s Grace.  And I always, without fail, find it.  He is always faithful to Show me that He sees me and He loves me and He guides me.

Well, last week I sat down and read the whole book of Habakkuk, which I hadn’t done in quite awhile.  And the parallel to modern times just slammed into me.    I won’t transcribe the whole book here (all three chapters), but I will copy my Bible’s introduction summary.

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Like Habakkuk, I too cry out to God, O Lord, how long will you let this evil continue?  And I am no prophet but I too see judgment coming, drawing nearer.  And though I may be scared and fear that I will lack courage under persecution,  I daily choose to live by Faith and to “Cling” to God regardless of what is going on in this world.

Oompa-Loompa

Earlier this year I had begun feeling discouraged, depressed, and even irrelevant.  My body was so tired and broke down I was just ready to give in; I had no faith in my ability to turn things around.  I decided I looked like a frumpy “oompa-loompa” and I was tired of fighting it.

In April, my husband and daughters had really started focusing on getting healthy and their days revolved around their fitness routines…something I had never wanted to happen to me.  I had so many more important things for my days to revolve around.  Except they didn’t…instead my days revolved around eating and feeling bad and being sedentary.  So I decided to change, to focus on my health this summer.  I signed up with the personal trainer that my younger daughter was going to and I got back on the IsaGenix products that had worked so well for me several years ago.

I immediately noticed a huge shift in my thought life – like within the first week!  And I quickly found that I have tons of energy and life and purpose left.  And yes, my days seem to revolve around my health right now but I am really hoping that the extra energy will give me the extra motivation, focus and time to do the “more important” things I long to do.

But that isn’t all.  My view of myself, even my “fat” self is changing.  I am still tempted to see myself in the mirror and think, “Man, I am so fat,”  But instead I see myself and think about how strong I am. My muscles quickly remembered old movements from long ago.  I can push myself and work through pain much better than I did as a younger, fitter, me.  I have had four children, this pain is nothing in comparison.  And I know that the pain is making me stronger.

Others may see me in my workout clothes and judge me as fat but I know how strong I am.  And when I wear my regular clothes I am becoming less worried about looking fat and wearing clothes I can hide in.  I am more willing to wear clothes that make me happy.  I am fat enough that the idea of hiding it is really ridiculous anyway.  I may look like an “oompa-loompa” right now on the outside but there are beautiful changes happening on the inside.

Living at Summer Camp ~ Wards’ Wilderness

Welcome to Wards' Wilderness

Welcome to Wards’ Wilderness

FullSizeRender Our family has officially been living at our home in the woods for a little over a month now.  For some reason there are times living here when memories of summer camp are brought to my mind.  Of course, our home is much nicer and more comfortable  than the camp dorms were.  A month of almost non stop rain confirmed that we made the right choice with the stained concrete floors and the

washtub in the laundry room.

Over Memorial Day Weekend we hosted family from Texas, 2 adults and 6 kids.  Although the house is less than half the size of our last place and it rained pretty much all weekend, we all had a great time!  Definitely tested the house out and it passed with flying colors!FullSizeRender

And after a month of living here it is starting to feel like home.  Although we go into town everyday, I would love to be able to spend all day out here surrounded the calm and “quiet” nature, reading and researching and writing.  The boys are starting to settle in and adjust to a new routine.  They play together a lot which is nice to see.  They have learned to enjoy (or at least tolerate) the simple play of games, puzzles, legos, and even read alouds.  We go into town to “socialize” and use the internet for now.  Although we should have internet out here next week.

There are still quite a few DIY projects to do: staining, painting, re-doing the shelves in the pantry and master closet, and hanging my hammock chair.

I have taken pictures of some of my favorite little “spots” in the house already.

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Sold the House…Maybe

Last week we accepted an offer on our house.  It wasn’t a great offer but after a year on the market we are just ready to close this chapter.  Honestly, I am just tired of cleaning all day for showings that last fifteen minutes.  The buyers would like to close in about three weeks since they are closing on their own house around the same time.  Which means we are frantically sorting, again; trying to decide what to take to our house in the woods, what to get rid of and what to take to the “Donut House”.  See we have decided that, at least for now, we aren’t going to get internet or cable in our new home.  Instead we are moving our business office and school into the little house next to our donut shop.  Our oldest daughter is currently living there but she is willing to share.  Of course, our buyers have until the 13th (at least) to back out and as this is at the top of their price range that is a distinct possibility.  So overall I feel unsure…but I have to keep moving forward like I am.

I am hoping that a month from now we will be settling into our house in the woods.  I have big plans: a zip-line, a rock climbing wall and other adventurous stuff.  I want a picnic table for eating on the back porch, rocking chairs for the front porch and of course a hot tub out the bedroom door.  I am going to turn what was going to be the office into my family history room.  I can see it all in my mind’s eye.  At the Donut House I em envisioning an efficient office and a fun schoolroom.  Maybe even, possibly, an informal co op where Joel can have friends over to do science experiments  and to play mine craft with him and Leif can do crafts with some of his friends.  The next three weeks might be crazy but I am excited for the next chapter to begin.

Our Pole Barn Home

11034900_10153078206345937_4588091726805282708_nAs our pole barn house reaches completion we have gotten a lot of questions from other people interested in the construction of pole barn houses.  So I am going to try to write about it here to answer them once as thoroughly as possible.

The house is actually ready to be lived in but since we haven’t sold our current home, right now Wards’ Wilderness is acting as a getaway…mostly for Jason.  A Man-Hideaway.  He is enjoying the quiet and isolation; the wildlife and the beautiful scenery.  We are making another push to sell our house and hope to be living in the woods by the end of the summer.7586_10152820797480937_7820316306564319758_n

11013081_10153078205875937_6435738852316378696_n20522_10153080285645937_4812032352570823168_nWe bought a Pole Barn House kit from Southerlands on 21st between Memorial and Mingo.  We bought a 40x40x10 kit which included 8 windows and 2 doors.  We added an extra door.  The kit was $14,000.  We hired two brothers that are builders that we had used in the past (to remodel our donut shop) to put the kit together and build it out 10454493_10152470811480937_6063760216125472099_nto be a house.  I designed the floor plan.  We sub contracted a concrete company to pour us a 60×40 pad so that we could have 10 foot porches on front and back.  They did this after our builders had put in10423725_10152621182985937_3260658211287172191_n the foundation plumbing.  The concrete guys also came back after the walls were up and roof was on to stain the interior concrete.  The cost to the concrete guys was $12,000.  My dad came to visit and helped my husband put in all the electricity and then Jason had an electrician come check everything out and fix any errors.

One of the main reasons we decided to build where we did on the property is because the septic, well, propane tank, and electric were already located in that spot.  This saved us a lot of money.  We had the septic cleaned, the well filtered, and the propane tank filled.

10251989_10152756064725937_7235540139120857195_nI picked out lights, bathroom vanities, bathtub, shower,  and kitchen sink at Lowes.  As well as door handles, light switches and all the little details.  The interior doors we bought at Day’s Discount Lumber and we love them!

For our Kitchen Cabinets I searched high and low for a cabinet company that would make “rustic” cabinets.  I finally found Custom Woodwork in Sapulpa on Hobson.  The owner was great to work with.  He understood what I was looking for.  The cabinets are so beautiful.  We also had them build us floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room as well as the cabinets in each bathroom.  I would highly recommend them.  Beautiful, quality woodwork, good prices, and great customer service.10258059_10152773234370937_6142912571956118815_n

Then we had custom rough edge granite countertops made and installed by Hoffman Kitchen and Bath in Tulsa.  Another company I highly recommend.

10403357_10152773234325937_4500550379892471127_nAfter the builders finished in September we have been slowly adding our own details to the house.  My sister and I stained and polyurethaned the kitchen cabinets.  Jason and another friend helped stain the wood in the rest of the house.  Jason and his friend Joel put up a pallet wall that I had envisioned and it goes beautifully with the dining room lighting and the beautiful Farm Table I had made by a guy on Craigslist.  Recently, Jason had a friend of his put LED lighting under the upper kitchen cabinets.  I am still looking for a vintage screen door to put on the pantry.

Overall, we have spent more money on this home that we at first planned to; we could have done more of it ourselves, we could have bought less expensive finishes.  But we have had a lot of fun designing and decorating this home to our “rustic industrial” tastes.

If you are looking into building a pole barn house and have questions about how we have done things, don’t hesitate to comment on this blog with your questions or hit me up on Facebook if we are friends.

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In My Arms ~Plumb

There have been many times when lyrics to songs have impacted my life.  I have thought for a while I’d like to write down these lyrics and my thoughts about them so that I can go back from time to time and remember what I have learned.  Today I was listening to one of those and decided it was time.

I have posted the youtube link and the lyrics to the song, In My Arms, by Plumb, below.  The first few times I listened to this song I thought about my own babies and how I felt about them.  But then one day I was listening to it while driving and when it got to the part “Waves will crash around, But you will be safe in my arms” I suddenly say an image of myself.

You see, my particular fear is deep water.  Whenever a new stressful situation comes into my life that I can’t control I start having nightmares about drowning or being out in the ocean.  One in particular used to play over and over every night for awhile.  It was when I was pregnant with Joel and we were buying the donut shop on Main.  I had this recurring nightmare that I was on a raft with the girls and Jason.  Jason was steering the raft around this beautiful island and it was idyllic in the beginning but then all of a sudden we were out in the middle of the ocean and Jason had disappeared.  I was trying to steer the raft and protect the girls alone.  But on that day when I was listening to In My Arms and she sang that line I saw that image from the nightmare but this time God was there controlling my raft.  And all of a sudden I understood, I am safe in God’s Arms!    He is in control and He loves me.  As much as I love my children He loves me infinitely more.  The words of this song of a mother singing to her child are like how God feels about me, about each of us.

“In My Arms”

Your baby blues

So full of wonder
Your curly cues
Your contagious smile
And as i watch
You start to grow up
All I can do
is hold you tightKnowing clouds will rage in
Storms will race in
But you will be safe in my arms
Rains will pour down
Waves will crash around
But you will be safe in my armsStory books are full of fairy tales
Of kings and queens and the bluest skies
My heart is torn just in knowing
You’ll someday see the truth from liesWhen the clouds will rage in
Storms will race in
But you will be safe in my arms
Rains will pour down
Waves will crash around
But you will be safe in my armsCastles – they might crumble
Dreams may not come true
But you are never all alone
‘Cause I will always,
Always love you
Hey I,
Hey I,

When the clouds will rage in
Storms will race in
But you will be safe in my arms
Rains will pour down
Waves will crash around
But you will be safe in my arms, in my arms