He is My Future AND My Past

Sometimes, when I worship at church, I just sing without really paying much attention to the words.

Then there are times when the words (usually a single phrase) hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. Sometimes those words have a life changing affect.

This song has a phrase that has gripped me for the last few weeks:

You are my first
You are my last
You are my future AND MY PAST

(Lyrics by John Mark McMillan)

We have all heard the advice. You know... Don't dwell in the past; live in the now. Be present.

I think it's good advice, but I feel like today's American culture pretty much interprets that as FORGET about the past; disregard it.

We certainly need to be present. We certainly should not DWELL in the past, but we most definitely should not forget/disregard it!

I have noticed that this disregard is often accepted regarding the Old Testament of the Bible. "Why read the Old Testament? Jesus cancels all that out. The Old Testament God was hard to palette. I prefer the loving (less angry) God of the New Testament." 

Honestly, I was among those people. 

Then few months ago, I attended a life changing conference and heard THIS talk by Brad Gray. 

Seriously, friends, this information is LIFE CHANGING. And if you were ever unsure of the relevancy of the Bible, this will surely convince you. 

It turns out that the entire Old Testament actually points to Jesus in very direct ways. When we study the life of Jesus, it is completely apparent that his actions are directly reflective of happenings in the Old Testament. 

I'm not just talking about the over arcing fact that in the Old Testament, people sinned and God was mad so, He sent Jesus. That does definitely explain the actions of Jesus, but it's so much MORE than that. Jesus' actions make WAY more sense to me now that someone has pointed out the direct connection between the Old and New Testaments. 

The point is: The whole Bible is relevant. All the books are part of the whole story (that God hasn't even finished yet!). God knew what He was doing in the Old Testament. He knew what He was doing in the New, and He knows what he is doing now and in the future. 

I am grateful for that... because, I have been remembering my past. Recalling a lifetime of health issues. I have written about some of them already, but this last year, I have discovered there is something other than mental illness that has been causing these issues. There is a root to it all. 

I'm going on one year of treatment for Lyme, and it's been hard. REALLY hard. It's easy for me to feel sorry for myself and wonder how different (better) my life could have been had I found out sooner what was causing my issues. I can easily dwell in that. 

When I, instead, dwell in the Lord, I understand that He is the God of my future AND my past. My past is part of a whole story. Since He's got the whole story under control, I don't need to dwell in the past, but I will not disregard it or try to forget it. 

I am confident that the connection between my past and future will be used for good! 

How about you? 
Do you have a tendency to dwell in the past or are you quick to try to forget/disregard it?

Fifteen Year Anniversary Photo Session -- Eau Claire, WI Couples Photographer

When you've been married for 15 years, and you are more in love than ever: 

How to Run When I Have No Perseverance

I have a deep core memory in my head from grade school:
It was a beautiful, warm and sunny spring day. We were outside on the open field for P.E. class. Our teacher made us stand in two single file lines, basically pairing us off. My teacher said, "go!" The first two kids in each line sprinted away to the big telephone pole which was the finish. 

The first kid to get to the pole won, obviously. That kid got to go on and race again. The races continued until the four fastest kids were determined; they would ultimately run the four by four relay during or "track and field" day. 

I was excited and eagerly anticipating my turn to race. I was super fast. I ran all over the place. Plus, the previous year, I placed THIRD in the long jump, and you have to be fast to jump that far, right?

Then, I looked to my right and realized I was racing Debbie Nelson. Tall, long legged, totally athletic Debbie Nelson. 


There went my dreams of running the four by four relay.

I can so very clearly picture Debbie steadily pulling farther and farther and farther away from me. I can so very clearly remember the tension in my body from trying my hardest, but feeling like I was moving in slow motion. She beat my by a landslide. Like a major, embarrassingly huge amount. Like she was done and recovered as I just crossed the finish line. 

Two weeks ago, my husband asked me how I was feeling.

What came to mind was the vision above, except it wasn't just Debbie so far ahead of me but EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD. I was feeling like everyone was racing ahead. Everyone had energy. Everyone was happy. Everyone had the endurance to finish strong while I felt tense, tired, slow, and alone. I was losing any perseverance to finish the race. I wanted to face plant and quit.

My husband wrote a song based on the scripture Phillipians 1:6

"Throw off everything that hinders and entangles us
Run with perseverance the race marked out for us
He is the author and finisher of our faith


Even when I face plant, if I can just lift up my eyes a tiny bit, I see the feet of Jesus right in front of me. If I lift them a bit more, I can see his hand reaching down to help me up. In that vision, I know I am NOT alone. Knowing I am not alone gives me a little more energy to get up. Then, Jesus says, "You can do it, and I will be right here with you." I might have to lean on Him, but He will hold me up. In faith, I will gain strength to finish strong, but no matter what, he is in it to finish it with me!

How easily I forgot that He is with me. How on earth do I always end up thinking I can do it on my own? And knowing myself, I will gain energy and shove Jesus aside and inevitably, face plant again. 

Praise the Lord! He is always there when I lift up my eyes. 

God's grace is sufficient.

Shop VIDA -- My Original Art and Photography on Ethically Produced Goods

You guys! 

I am so excited about something, and have been itching to share it with you all.

That's me! That's my art and photography on scarves with more options to come soon!

VIDA is a company that allows for artists to share, and profit from, their original art in the form of ethically produced goods. But, the artist isn't the only one to profit. Here is more:

Trust me, I understand that the price points may be more than you pay for your typical department store fast fashion, but you get:

1. ORIGINAL art 
2. High quality fabric
3. Satisfaction of supporting individual artists
4. Satisfaction of supporting makers around the world
5. Confidence that you are not contributing to the environmental waste of fast fashion (each piece is made to order)

Even you don't like MY stuff, there is SO MUCH stuff to love so, buy other stuff!

You can even use this code to get $15 off at check out.

The Question of Socialization -- Eye Roll

That title is snarky. I'm usually not a snarky person. 

I'm a little sorry, but I guess if I was really sorry, I would have changed the title.

It's the question I dread most when talking to people about homeschool.

"How do you socialize your kids?"

Here is what I actually hear:
"Do your kids have friends?
Do your kids know how to act in public?
Do you ever leave your house or do you just keep them sheltered from the outside world?"

People might as well just say to me, "ya know... homeschooled kids are socially awkward."

Honestly, I used to think that too.

I remember a couple of homeschooled kids that went to my church growing up. I realize today that I only thought that because of what other kids said to me. When I look back, I liked those girls and I admired them a LOT. They were quiet, yes, but I'm quiet too. 

They were really polite, paid attention to and respected authority, were super talented, and were so KIND. One of them selflessly, without prompting from any adult, traded a solo with me in our kids choir, because she knew I wanted that particular song. She made a huge impact on me at a young age.

In fact, when I remember those girls, I think to myself that I would LOVE LOVE LOVE my children to be like them. 

I can't place any behaviors that made me think that they were weird. They just weren't friends with my friends. That's what made us think they were socially awkward?! Shame on us.

Listen, I taught in a public school for ten years. I encountered numerous socially awkward kids. 

Assuming all homeschooled kids are socially awkard makes the assumption that all public school kids are socially adept which is SO NOT TRUE.

Socially awkward kids tend to come from socially awkward families; socially adept kids tend to come from socially adept families. 

There are always exceptions, of course, but just think about it. Everyone knows someone who is eccentric or "weird." Everyone has someone in their life that is hard to work with or difficult to be around. What made them that way? 

Were they all homeschooled? 
Probably not.

Did they come from a family that had different personalities and ways of doing things than yours? Probably.

My kids have friends.
My kids are learning (because well, they are four and six and no kid's behavior is always on point) to love and respect people.
My kids get out of the house. (In fact, as I write this they are with my husband at an astronomers club gathering looking at the moon and Jupiter. And that is after hours outside playing with the neighbors).

We are doing things differently from most other families and if that is what makes us socially awkward then, so be it. 

Let's be real. We all have quirks and socially awkward times. I'll start! 

I am an introvert. I suck at pleasantries and surface conversation. People often think I am stand-offish and stuck up when they first meet me. To avoid that impression, sometimes I over compensate with smiling and head nods during conversations.

Tell me a quirk or awkward moment of yours in the comments : ) 

Favorite Photos -- Eau Claire, WI, Family Photographer

It's been MONTHS. Like... months and months and months since I have posted anything photography related. It's hard to tell that I even do it by looking around here (crickets chirping). 

But, I have been taking photos! 

Here are just a few of my favorites from the past months. Enjoy!

Family photos are really my favorite!

Here are a couple of slide shows 
from a recent retirement celebration and a two year old birthday party:

A Simple Approach to Meal Planning -- From a Mom Who Hates to Cook

I hate cooking.

I could bake all day. Baking is usually a treat so, you just have a little bit at a time. Usually the labor of baking is enjoyed over a few days. 

Cooking on the other hand... devoured. In five minutes. 

Baking, my kids love. My cooking, hit or miss which I know is normal, but none the less annoying and joy stealing.

Fact is... food is a major part of life, and I want to feed my family good food. 

We eat pretty simply around here. I used to be overly concerned with variety. Worried about my family getting tired of the food I make. Then, I started thinking about the past. Like pre-internet past, even pre-tv past, before people were so connected to the whole world. People didn't eat Chinese food if they weren't Chinese. Most people ate what they grew. No matter how big your garden, you were bound to repeat meals.

Mike and I have made great effort to simplify our lives. Why not apply that to our eating?

Simple is okay.

So, I compiled a list of all of our favorite meals. There are about 25.

*Edited to add: I guess we have more than 25! I had some requests to share our go-to's so here it is.*

My husband, God bless him, does our grocery shopping once a week. On grocery day, I make my weekly plan. I only plan ONE meal to cook a day. Ideally each person gets to pick one meal for the week.  

Our breakfasts are always quick and simple: smoothies, fruit, oatmeal, toast, eggs, etc. Sometimes, waffles or pancakes are actually one of the planned suppers. So, I make a big batch to freeze. Then, we can pull those out for a quick breakfast as well.

Lunch is either left over supper from the night before or what we refer to around here as "snacky lunch." I simply set out containers of pre-cut veggies, cut up an apple, set out a container of grapes, maybe add some slices of cheese, a few tortilla chips or pretzels and voila! Lunch. The same, every day... the kids don't care. Neither do I. 

Believe it or not, I have tried menu planning before; it never stuck. 

Two things have made this round of menu planning stick for that last several months.

1. Posting the menu on the fridge. 
Before I had it written in my planner. I don't know what it is about the visible reminder, but it works!

2. NETFLIX. No joke. 
I realize I am privileged to afford Netflix, but there are plenty of ways to watch free shows too. PBS, NBC, ABC and most other networks air their shows for free online. We don't have an actual TV. I just set up my laptop or my phone. Watching something I enjoy (which is currently the Great British Baking Show) while I cook has taken the drudgery out of it all. 

Do you love to cook or, are you more like me? I would love to hear how you plan meals. OR share what meals your kiddos love. Because, in reality, my kids really only like about ten of the 25 meals I make : /