It’s my birthday and I want to give you a gift!

 

 

No need to wait til Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Small Business Saturday to get ahead on your Christmas shopping.

  • Get those teacher gifts taken care of now.
  • Keep a gift stash on hand for the last minute gifts you need.
  • Simplify your life by shopping online and avoiding the rush.
  • Save money.
  • Give gifts with meaning that will encourage and inspire the one who receives.
  • Give the Word of God, which will never return void.
  • Give gifts with messages of hope.
  • Give them gifts they are likely already using, but now with reminders of God’s love.
  • Witness with these gifts.
  • Shine a light when you give.

What customers are saying:

“I just received the first one I ordered. Better than I even imagined! Love it!!”

“Thank you for these beautiful pillow cases. What an incredible ministry for families.”

“I want to thank you for the beautiful pillowcase you made for my uncle. I am so sad to say he passed away last week. Your pillowcase and the fact that he was resting his head on it near the end of his life gives me hope he found Jesus before he passed.

I just wanted you to be encouraged that what you’re doing matters. Your ministry through creativity matters.
It blessed me and has given me great comfort during this time of incredible grief and sadness.

Thank you for all you do. Please don’t ever stop!”

 

Here’s a few ideas for you:

Mason Gift Jar

Add a flour sack tea towel or scripture pillowcase, thoughtful note, a tea bag, a gift card, and maybe a little sweet treat. Wrap with twine, and you are good to go.

  • teacher gift
  • thank you gift
  • welcome to the neighborhood
  • get well soon

Go bless your neighbors.

Wrap up a pound cake or loaf of bread with a flour sack tea towel and tie with twine. Remind them they are loved by God. We could all use a little more kindness and blessing spread around.

 

Take a meal

Take a meal and give a sweet reminder they keep. It’s small. It’s simple. It’ll mean the world.

You can shop right here!

And for the Etsy lover, did you know I’m there too? That is just a really neat community and marketplace!!

When you shop at my shop on either platform, you are directly supporting this ministry and my family. If you read my previous post, you saw a little glimpse into where our family is headed over the next 2 years. We have committed to giving in a way that is beyond our means because we are trusting in God to provide. We’ve asked God to use our family as a funnel of blessing. When you purchase through me, you are being used of God in bigger ways than you or we will ever know!!

Thank you for your love and support to my family. Thank you that you have journeyed with me all these years. I’m blessed by by you!

22 Ways to simplify, declutter, & organize your life

“Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly.”

Oswald Chambers

Simplify and Declutter Your Life

Sometimes I feel God speaks to me in themes. The current theme is simplicity.

I’ve always had a bit of a less is more mentality. I try to keep my home clutter free. I like clean lines and white space.

The more clutter in my physical world, the more my soul begins to suffocate. My mind becomes distracted. My focus dwindles.

When I walk into a store with shelves filled to capacity, I want to flee. But when I enter a store with less inventory and wide open clean shelves, I take a deep breath and settle into the surroundings.

Urge to Purge

I declutter my home constantly. When I fill up bags to donate or trash, I feel the weight on my soul release with it.

My urge to purge increases when the clutter, the stuff, and the schedule press in.

Last spring our appliances began breaking one after another. One by one we replaced them with the most basic models you could find. And it felt freeing. A washing machine with 3 knobs and a start button. Simple. Less to clean, less to break. A vacuum that has an on/off switch. That is all. Simple. No filters to replace, just a bag. No 10 hoses and attachments to figure out and store. Simple.

So I’ve felt the Lord directing me to simplify everywhere I turn. I don’t know why, but I’ve learned He can be trusted and He wants good for me. So I’m following His lead.

What exactly do I mean when I say simplify?

A little of getting rid of things.

A little of limiting choices.

A little of choosing less.

A lot of clearing space. Space in schedule, home, mind, and soul.

By doing this I’m discovering hours of wasted time and dollars are mine to claim.

Here are 22 ways I’m simplifying my life.

  1. Set up subscription service – I run out of dog food once a month, so I set up subscription through Amazon Prime. It costs me less, saves time, and limits running around. Same with my  supplements. There are several things we buy repeatedly that we can set on a free subscription service. This is one less thing for me to remember and one less reason to have to hop in the car.
  2. Limit errands – On that note, limiting my errands in general saves time. Our dry cleaner offers free pick up and delivery service. When I run out of supplies around the house, we are simply going without until the next store trip. No more running out each time we need something.
  3. Autopay bills- Many of us do this already, but I’m finding I can autopay almost everything and decrease my bill paying time.
  4. Grocery delivery – I’ve used the Wal-Mart pick up service for quite awhile now. And my local grocery store delivers free or almost free depending on the bill. But now Whole Foods and Costco deliver. The options are expanding and almost all offer free delivery now. This saves a ton of time and money.
  5. Set a monthly menu- In the past I spent a good deal of time meal planning and attempting to get creative with our meals. But I’m in a season of needing to think less on less important items. So I’ve been using a dry erase board and planning a month of simple and well loved meals. At the end of the month, we start over. No need to create a new menu. It can be tweaked as needed.
  6. Set dinner theme nights – Soup Sunday, Mexican Monday, Tuscany Tuesday, etc. Basically it gives me a framework for a soup, tacos, spaghetti, etc. The next week instead of tacos it might be enchiladas. Instead of spaghetti maybe canneloni.
  7. Limit options – I’ve been tossing stuff I’ve kept that offer me options I don’t need. I don’t need 12 coffee cups to choose from. I don’t need 3 pairs of black boots. When my home and life have too many options, I’m wasting time deciding rather than doing what needs to be done.
  8. Capsule wardrobe – I so badly want to do this. I haven’t yet, but I’m moving in that direction. After my recent closet purge I went a step further. Each time I select something to wear, I select something to donate, sell, or trash. Once a day something leaves that closet.
  9. When something comes in, something must go out – When I buy something, I try to get rid of something so we don’t accumulate more stuff. If I receive a new scarf as a gift, I select one to donate.
  10. Unfollow people– While my physical surroundings clutter my soul, so does my social media surroundings. I’m becoming very selective in who I follow.
  11. Unsubscribe to emails – A cluttered inbox is my enemy. I receive far too many junk emails. Instead of simply deleting, I’m going a step further and choosing to unsubscribe.
  12. Purge – Get rid of everything you don’t love or use. I am a major purger. I purge constantly. But I’m becoming even more so these days. If I don’t absolutely love it, if it doesn’t hold serious value to me, it’s out.
    1. I’ve been selling on Poshmark and really love how simple it is to sell there. Highly recommend. Less time consuming than others I’ve tried.
  13. Daily Purge – This is different than a massive closet purge. I’ve started purging every single day in some area. Not as a big project. If I’m cooking dinner, I open the kitchen utensil drawer and it is filled with items I never use. I take one thing out to toss. When I open my drawer of running pants, it’s filled with ones I never use. I’ll select one pair and toss. Basically every drawer, closet or space is filled with unneeded items. Instead of waiting for the time to purge it all, I’m purging in baby steps one item at a time.
  14. Get rid of storage – Last year we converted a storage closet into my writing room/office. I basically tossed everything in that storage space. We have another storage space and I recently did the same thing. We now have nothing in storage except a few boxes of Christmas ornaments and decorations. It is so freeing to be rid of stuff even out of sight.
  15. Stop shopping – If I go shopping chances are I’ll buy something. I’m not a big shopper anyway. But if I simply don’t go, I won’t know what I could’ve bought. It’s better to not even see it existed than to see it and start wanting it.
  16. Choose carefully who you follow. Choose not to follow anything or anyone who causes you to want more than you need. I hesitate to say this, but for me, I can’t follow too many lifestyle bloggers. Only because what begins to happen in my heart. I find myself “needing” things to keep up with latest trends and it’s just not good for me.
  17. Prebuy gifts and keep a gift stash – Not only does this help me save money but it also saves me time. When I see great items on sale I pick them up and keep them until they are needed.
  18. Keep stash of gift cards on hand – I’ve started keeping small gift cards on hand. I give gift cards often as thank you or appreciation gifts. Most don’t expire, so it saves me time to keep a stash on hand.
  19. Sort, trash, and put away mail immediately – If I retrieve the mail, I sort on the way inside and toss all junk and catalogues before they come in the house. Then I immediately open and file mail.
  20. Stop doing the things you don’t love despite what others do. I found myself dreading the fall decorating, then putting away, then Christmas decorating, and putting away. And all the boxes I had to store. I had beautiful decorations but it took me so much time to bring them out and so much space to keep them. Last year I finally donated all my decorations. It had become a chore not a joy, which is how I knew it was time to go.
  21. Social media fasts – I find taking periodic social media fasts declutters my soul and my mind. It’s a good reset button for me.
  22. Screen fasts – As a family we take total screen fasts for various periods of time. It might be a week or a month. But during that time we all gain time back we realized we’d lost. I’ve written on this for years and you can find screen posts by going to the side bar, scrolling through Categories to Electronics.

Decreasing the clutter and simplifying our lives leaves room in our soul for what matters most.  I don’t know about you, but my soul often begins to whisper it needs room to breathe. When I let go of the stuff around me, I begin to feel like a new person.

 

If you’d like to receive posts via email, click here. You will receive some fun downloads when you join our community.

 

When You Are Ready To Quit

Recently I panicked. Completely. Everything I worked so hard to do seemed to be more than I could handle. Everywhere I turned I felt I was failing someone or somewhere. I couldn’t return phone calls, follow up on important tasks.

The weight of homeschooling, running 2 businesses, writing, and simply being wife, mom, friend, volunteer, etc seemed to come down on me like a heavy weight. The pace I’d been running was unsustainable.

Here’s what I started to do. Find my escape route. My reason out. My excuse to quit everything. This is what happens when my margin narrows. It pushes on my soul, and I feel I’m suffocating.

I asked Steve and one friend to pray with me. After my panic settled over me, His peace flooded my soul. He began to speak. The rest of the week, I took it in. I continued moving forward. I didn’t actually quit anything. I just moved slowly.

God showed me 2 things.

I’m addicted to the high moments, the spiritual mountain tops, the big wins. I love change and challenges. I feed on the adrenaline rush in these times. I need newness, and when the new wears down and the hard kicks in, I begin to squirm.

I’m afraid of success. This sounded ridiculous to me the first time I heard it listening to The Secret Code of Success. In fact I retold that part of the book to Steve pridefully. “That is NOT me.”

Turns out I have some unidentified fears. It wasn’t that I actually feared success exactly. It is that when I reach a point that feels like success, I become scared of the higher expectations I’ll need to live up to. I’m afraid of failing at yet another thing. Yet, I claim I’m not afraid to try and fail.

Here’s what I discovered. I reach a point of success, and I want the control. So if I back out gracefully, it is on my own terms. I didn’t actually fail. The pride runs deep, my friends. I’m so grateful God’s not through with me yet.

The entire week God held me in a state of peace. One evening I read The Tortoise and the Hare to Andrew. We have the version from a Chick-fil-A kids meal so many years ago. I could just sense God reminding me to keep that steady pace. It’s ok if I don’t run a sprint. I just need to keep going at a pace I can manage.

When I faced resistance I began to doubt God’s direction to me. I began asking God if He was sure.

I don’t know if you do this too. But I will know I’ve heard God. I follow the direction He’s leading, but then I want continued reassurance every few steps. When I trip or stumble I immediately believe I heard wrong. I begin to question everything I thought I knew.

When we moved to Nebraska in 2017, a friend told me to journal everything God told me during the preparation and transition. She said I would need the reminders when we settled in. We’d begin to question why we found ourselves in the middle of the country so far from everything we’ve ever known. She was right. I referred to my prayer journal often in those first 6 months.

I need to spend more time remembering and less time second guessing. It’s not that God changed what He said. I’ve just forgotten. The more time I spend in His Word, the quicker I am to distinguish His voice from the bellowing of the world.

 

I spend a little less time writing these days since I’ve followed God’s direction in starting 2 businesses. One is right here on the blog. If you click on Shop you can find much of what’s been keeping me busy.

I would be so appreciative if you supported me by sharing my shop with your friends and family.

Christmas is around the corner. Maybe your gift list includes people in need of reminders of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

My newest addition is my favorite to this point. It’s a luxurious, velveteen, zipper-closured pillowcase. The only problem is you may find it harder to get out of bed in the morning.

 

A few of my favorite items to help you journal your thoughts, prayers, ideas, lists and all the things.

Bullet Journal Planner Pens Colored Pens Fine Point Markers Fine Tip Drawing Pens Porous Fineliner Pen for Journaling Writing Note Taking Calendar Agenda Coloring Art School Office Supplies, 18 Colors

You are so often in my thoughts and prayers. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed at the community, friendship, and loyalty you offer me. It’s a noisy online world and you are still here with me. This blog is the only thing I didn’t consider quitting.

Thank you for the notes you send. And thank you for sharing with your friends and family and social media.

Blessings,

Renee

Who’s Stealing Your Joy?

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

Psalm 51:12

Go back with me to the eve of Christmas Eve several years ago.

The dark of night descended, all boys settled into the routines of bedtime. I escorted Andrew to his room for stories and snuggles. His open blinds reminded me to close them. I reached for the cord and stopped. “Whose van is in our driveway?” I shouted from upstairs.

No one answered back. The van in our driveway was white. My van was silver. Steve drove my van to work that day to get the oil changed. Where was my van and whose was this?

I went flying down the stairs demanding an answer. When I wouldn’t let up, Steve released a sigh, handed me a tiny box, and said, “Merry Christmas.” The tiny box held a set of keys. The keys to a brand new van. The keys I was to unwrap the next morning.

I ruined the surprise. I stole his joy.

It was a once in a lifetime kind of surprise. We are used car kind of people. Steve bought me a brand new, white Honda Odyssey. Steve’s love language is gifts. Steve receives more joy in giving gifts than receiving. Steve loves to spoil me and shower me if I let him. I’m much too practical and budget-minded, so I stifle his desires to pour out his love language on me at times.

I raced outside to see my elaborate gift. For me all the excitement was the same. This wasn’t the case for Steve. I’d stolen his joy unintentionally. And I’m much too clueless to have discovered the gift and played along because it never crossed my mind he would give that type of gift.

Have you ever faced a time you felt your joy was stolen? Not simply that you lost your joy, but it was taken right from you?

This is what the enemy is out to steal from us. Our joy.

I battle against this frequently. The enemy is constantly attempting to steal my joy. And yours.

When I teach my kids, it doesn’t take long to see the enemy’s plays.

The fight is exhausting. Fighting the same battle over and over again wears us down. The battle wages in our minds.

Do you find yourself fighting to maintain your joy?

The enemy uses his same schemes over and over again. The more we know who God is, the more we recognize when the enemy is assaulting us.

We can fight back by putting on our armor and picking up our sword. Claiming authority over the enemy in the name of Jesus. Our identity is in Christ. Our joy is found in Him. We need to pray and ask Him to restore the joy of our salvation. We need a shift of perspective. Our eyes on Him.

In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s a practice in remembering who He is and keeping our eyes on Him. It’s called Illuminate. Download your copy today for only $5.

Find out more here and listen to a sample.

audio devotional
If you want to connect with me beyond the blog, you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest. I’d love for you to follow me there. Instagram is where I share shorter insights and daily inspiration and encouragement for the journey the Lord has you on.If you’d like to receive these blog posts via email, hop over here where you will receive some fun downloads.

And if you are looking for ways to claim the fringe areas of your home or give gifts that inspire and encourage, check out my online shop!

 

When the Seasons Change. And When They Stay Too Long.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,”

Psalm 103:2

Last winter I lived my first Midwest winter. I’ve always been cold-natured, so I was quite terrified how I’d fare. I did decent until winter seemed a bit too cozy to make its exit plan. Fall has always been a favorite season of mine, but I’ve found myself dreading it because I know the looming winter in the draft of fall’s race.

Steve offered me a perspective shift. I’m convinced we all need people in our lives who will alter our perspective. He reminded me how I moaned and groaned at the end of Southern summers. I itched to put out pumpkins, prepare soups in the crockpot, and lounge in my hoodie. Yet, it would be 90 degrees sometimes all the way until October. There were Thanksgivings we wore shorts. And I complained.

We move to the Midwest. Basically winter here is like summer in the south as far as the length of the season. Same problems.

I’m in a new season of life. Maybe you are too. Some seasons of life feel like they hang unwelcome far too long. Until they pass. Then we look over our shoulder and long to go back.

I find I reflect back on prior seasons with a sense of romanticism. Wanting to go back to a time when….Believing times were better when….If only I could…..

When my soul is crowded, there is a sense of discontentment. A longing unfilled because there’s too much clutter and noise.

I looked back at old journals, a habit I have. I found writings from previous August and Septembers. I had the same struggles then. Little time to write, shallow feeling quiet times, a longing for more quiet in my life, a need for more structure yet finding the new rhythms hard to adjust to. When I think back on past fall seasons, I don’t remember them the way I recorded them.

I remember differently than life actually happened at times.

Why am I remembering seasons not the way they actually happened? Why am I thinking I have it harder now and believing I should go back to a time when life served me better?

The Lord brought a passage of scripture to mind.

I stopped walking. I stood frozen. My heart gasped. I am an Israelite.

“If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” Exodus 16:3

How quickly they forgot what their previous life was actually like. How quickly they forgot the misery, hardship, and the goodness of the God who saved them by His mighty hand.

I’m no different.

I have seen the hand of God, the work of His miracles. I’ve watched Him care for me, deliver me, love me radically. And yet the moment I don’t feel the way I want to feel, I incline my ear to the whispers of the enemy.

The enemy throws hard his taunting darts at my head.

You’re failing.

You need to make a change.

You’ve missed your opportunity.

You aren’t important.

You can’t keep doing what you are doing.

Look at everyone else. They are doing it right.

The enemy is full of lies, doubt, fear, worry, anxiety. There is NO truth in him. Not an ounce. He’s a lie from beginning to end.

God is total truth. God is steady.

My Lord and my God. He is all I need. He has given me all I need.

I find the moment I’m too comfortable the Lord moves me into a new assignment. One that requires I lean more into Him than me. That is where I am right now. Again.

How about you? Do you find you long to sit in the place you feel most comfortable?

Lord, we confess we forget your goodness. We forget the work of your mighty hand. We forget who you are. May we remember. Lord, help us forget not your benefits. You are radically, wildly in love with us simply because you are love. You give based on who you are not what we do. Lord, we love you. Grow us in our faith. Make our minds steady and strong.

In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s called Illuminate. Download your copy today for only $5. I truly believe it will bless your soul. The Lord has used it repeatedly in my life since writing it. I go back and listen and find He speaks fresh all over again.

Find out more here and listen to a sample.

audio devotional

 

If you want to connect with me beyond the blog, you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest. I’d love for you to follow me there. Instagram is where I share shorter insights and daily inspiration and encouragement for the journey the Lord has you on.If you’d like to receive these blog posts via email, hop over here where you will receive some fun downloads.

And if you are looking for ways to claim the fringe areas of your home or give gifts that inspire and encourage, check out my online shop!

Looking to read more books but lacking in time? Try a membership with Audible. We love it!

Books I’ve Read This Year and Why We Read Aloud

I love reading. It’s my favorite hobby for sure. If you ask my kids what I would do if I had free time, they know the answer. I’d read.

I read a mixture of non-fiction and historical fiction. But my favorite has become books for children. I guess that’s why when I read this quote by CS Lewis, I nodded emphatically along.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” CS Lewis

When my boys were babies, thankfully iphones weren’t around. When we went to the grocery store, I put a book in their hands. They were mesmerized. At home I read to them before they were able to understand a word I read. I loved simply holding them and reading. It was soothing for each of us.

As they moved into toddler and preschool years, we’d sit for long stretches of time reading. Mostly, because I didn’t like to play. I did play. But given the option, I’d read any day.

So we’d grab piles of books and sit on the couch and read story after story after story. We’d read sometimes an hour at a time.

When they were old enough to read on their own, I continued reading aloud to them before bed. They never wanted me to stop. They seemed to get more out of this time than I realized in all the years of reading.

Here we are in high school, middle school, and elementary school and we are still reading together. When I asked Jacob recently what his favorite part of homeschool has been, he answered “that first year when we’d sit on the screened in porch together, reading books and eating snacks.”

I’ve also discovered a little secret to ending sibling bickering in the car. Audible books! We become engrossed in the story and no on argues. It’s glorious!

I thought I’d share what I’ve read this year. This isn’t a book review. But if they are on the list, I’d recommend them for the most part. Some more than others to be sure. But I have many I quit this year. Time is too short to read bad books.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read so far in 2018.

Adult Historical Fiction

(Each book listed in this category I’d highly recommend)

The Nightingale

The Mark of the King

Before We Were Yours

Non-Fiction

(I loved each of these for different reasons. All very good!)

The Magnolia Story
Capital Gaines

Business boutique

The Secret Code to Success

 

Adult Fiction

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Parenting

(These weren’t my all time favorites but I’m glad I read them. Especially glad I read the love languages. I needed a refresher.)

Mere Motherhood

The Lifegiving Home

The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers

The Way They Learn (Not really a parenting book, but for parents to understand their kids’ learning styles. Not just for the homeschoolers either!)

Christian Living

(These both are in the life changing category for me. Prayer I’ve read twice! I never do that.)

Experiencing the Spirit – Henry Blackaby

Prayer-Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – Timothy Keller

 

FAMILY READ ALOUDS

Where the Red Fern Grows (possibly my favorite all time in children’s book)
My Father’s Dragon
Little Women ( I actually just read this for myself. It is my childhood favorite)
Sign of the Beaver
Sword of Rhema (We LOVE this series. This was book 3.)
Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Green ember
Ember falls
Ember rising

(The Green Ember Series goes down as a favorite in the family. Highly recommend the Audible version. The narration is incredible and really brings the story to life. This is how we read the entire series.)

The lion the witch and the wardrobe

 

School Reads

Darwinist Dilemna

Path to the Pacific

Join our community of readers by clicking here. You will receive some fun downloads to enjoy.In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s called Illuminate. Find out more here and listen to a sample.

And if you want to give gifts or fill your home with reminders of God’s goodness, check out my new online shop!

My heart is to encourage and inspire you to follow God with wholehearted, fearless courage.

 

 

 

 

Those dreams where you find yourself naked on stage

In my dream I was the star role of a play. The lead. The first show was a smashing success. The 2nd show was one week later. I’d not rehearsed one single time in the entire week. We stood backstage, moments before the curtain went up. I panicked. “Wait! I can’t remember the opening line! What is my line?”

Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. They were prepared and calm. I was not. My mind raced trying to recall that first line. “Just give me the first line and it’ll spark the rest. I have to get this right I mean the first time went perfect.”

They all continued looking at me.

I stopped and I prayed. “God, it’s you not me anyway. Please work through me and speak through me. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.” Then I fled to the bathroom with mere minutes left.

Because dream world is just strange, somehow I lost track of time in the bathroom. It hit me as I looked in the mirror that I might be late and they might be waiting on me. Or worse, the show might be cancelled. Is it true that the show must go on. How would they pull it off if I weren’t there?

I found my way back as the last act played out. It went perfectly without me. The back up lead was there and ready. (It reminded me of that scene in the movie Wonder.)

The director assumed I got stage fright and left intentionally. I explained that I did have stage fright. But not because I was scared to be in front of people. But I was afraid of being exposed. Of everyone watching me stumble and fail with all lights on me. I explained that I lost track of time and was so sorry. She wasn’t bothered in the least.

She apologized that I missed my opportunity. Especially since my parents had flown all the way to Nebraska. I responded that I prayed before the show and the fact that I literally lost track of time and failed to show up must mean that it was God’s plan for the backup to lead the show.

Then I woke up.

I fell back asleep and had a second dream. In this dream our family went to a party. Jacob needed to be at work from 11-2:30. We dropped the ball and didn’t get him to work til his shift was over. He received attendance points against his file due to our lack of preparation.

Then I woke up.

I took a Psych class on dreams in college as an elective. It was by far my favorite class I ever took. Dreams have always fascinated me. They reveal so much of what is going on in our subconscious life.

I could have prettied up my dreams before sharing them here with you. They totally show you the pride and self-sufficiency God is still refining. It reveals my fears of failures (though I often say I don’t fear it. I really do. It’s our secret.) It reveals my need to please, succeed, achieve.

I mean I thought the play would fall apart without me. Insert emoji with the hand over my face. Honestly, it’s how I operate far too often. I feel as though if I don’t do it, it won’t get done or it won’t get done right. This is a form of perfectionism and pride. Over the last year I’ve been praying about this and releasing it little bits at a time.

There’s another message that stands out to me in the first dream. It’s that God’s will will prevail. His plans will go forth with or without me. My failure to participate means that I miss out on the blessing. God will still do what God will do. That play still went on. I just didn’t participate. In the opportunities that God places before me, it doesn’t all rest on me.

I can release myself from carrying that weight and burden He never asked me to carry. He places paths before me. They are opportunities. I can choose to flee when fear speaks. I miss out on the blessing. God’s plan goes forth with other people. Or I can stand in confidence and choose to step out on the stage and trust Him to speak through me when I don’t know what to say. God will be glorified. But what a blessing when we get to participate with Him!

I’m in a season right now of following God along new paths. They are scary. I have to remember it doesn’t rest on me. I need only rest in Him. If I am spending time in His Word and praying, then I can simply be at rest. Step by step I go with Him confidently.

At the home school conference I recently attended, the speaker talked about being ok with the bare minimum. I’ve NEVER been o.k with minimums. I strive for beyond the bar. If I set a goal, I’m rarely satisfied to meet the goal. I want to exceed it. It’s really a poor way to live. We are constant works in progress. Praise God He’s not finished with me yet.

The last 4 months God’s been speaking to me about simplification. I love simple. My mind complicates matters. Too many choices complicates matters. My desire to not make a mistake complicates things.

But in all areas of my life, God has been saying to simplify. I find it ironic that while He’s telling me to simplify, He’s led me into starting two separate businesses at the same time. He’s really teaching me to rely on Him!

I’m noticing how when I simplify, the drive towards perfection is lessened. Maybe this is why He’s leading me toward a simpler life.

Simpler meals. Who needs drastic, gourmet, fancy variety? Honestly, my boys love taco nights, pancake night, and soup night. Why do I strive for more?

Simpler homeschool. That means tuning out the ones driven to have their kids earn everything they can. It’s being ok with focusing on our most important priorities. Simplify. Don’t add in the extra geography lesson, the extra foreign language. Let it all go.

Last year my doctor told me to be ok with good enough.

Good enough. What is good enough? Good enough for who? That is the question. You see I’m the only one driving me to do more than is necessary.

I had a revelation recently that really convicted me. I used to say that I was driven because I cared so much about people I didn’t want to disappoint them. One day it struck me. I didn’t want them disappointed in ME.  It wasn’t really about them at all. I actually cared more that they not be disappointed in me than I cared about their feelings of being disappointed.

When God brings these revelations, they are brought with such sweet mercy and tenderness, I melt. I find it hard to stand in His Presence because He is so good. He is beyond what I deserve. Why He doesn’t’ beat me over the head, I can’t fathom.

Why He doesn’t scold me and call me a selfish brat, I can’t understand. But it’s because He is perfect love. Perfect grace. Perfect mercy. Perfect justice.

He speaks. He waits. He lets us choose and fall. He picks us up. He says “I love you.” He doesn’t’ shame and guilt us. His loving kindness brings us to repentance. And it’s more than I can bear.

My drive for perfection is an attempt to take the throne and receive His glory.

So I lay it down again today. I’m sure I’ll pick it back up. I am human. I will forget.

He will still be kind because He doesn’t change. We will do it again.

I will learn a little quicker each time. I’ll offer myself grace and forgiveness. He offers it first. I’ll take His lead.

I will thank Him. For He is good and His love endures forever.

I say no to fear today. I will walk out on that stage even when I don’t know the words. His play will go on with or without me. I dare not miss the blessings of watching Him glorified.

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In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s called Illuminate. Find out more here and listen to a sample.

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My heart is to encourage and inspire you to follow God with wholehearted, fearless courage.