Let’s Plan a Wedding! (In Which Glorious & Gut-Wrenching Both Abide)

Enter the roller coaster of human life. My daughter, my first-born, my best friend and right hand is GETTING MARRIED!

And I’ll just be as honest as I can about this reality because I want to encourage any of you out there.

First, we are thrilled. I mean, beyond excited. Why? Because raising our children to leave home and start their own families is one of our biggest jobs in life. It’s a crowning moment. Our magnum opus. But not just that: raising them to follow the Lord and choose a spouse who follows Him too is even bigger.

“I have no greater joy than to hear (see) my children walk in truth.”

It’s true. Nothing in life makes me happier than to watch one of my children grow up, own their faith, and carry the torch into the next generation. This is it! It is everything we’ve prayed for, hoped for and lived for.

And then there’s the reality of loss. Someone I have spent every day of my life with for 20 years is leaving. The person with whom I sit every morning, and share all my ideas, and coffee. This woman who loves our home and takes care of it like I do. The person who knows me inside and out, who reads my subtle cues and delights to help make life pleasant for me. Who takes all the kids to the barn with a blanket and book just to bless them and me. Who can whip a room into shape before I have time to say “what a mess” because that’s her gift and she rocks it. The woman who inspires me to know Christ deeper by watching her strive to know Him.

I’m not boasting, but this is my daughter. It is nothing I or my husband have done. But in God’s incredible grace to us, Bria has been an exceptional daughter. She isn’t perfect. She has her share of weaknesses, for sure. But she is amazing.

And losing an amazing person is hard.

When most of us were growing up, we started weaning away from our parents at the age of 5. We got on a bus and left home for a large part of the day. We shared our attention and affection with peers. Our priorities began to be disbursed among other activities, people and places. It was a gradual process and by the time we got married, we had already emotionally and physically left home.

Our family has been different and this leaving, in every way, is happening all at once. Even as we rejoice, there is grieving that comes with it. Change always brings some grief. No matter how good the change.

But I know this pushes me to a deeper dependence on God. It is good for my other children as I get a renewed focus on them, brought on largely by the reality that I only have them for a short time and indeed, every moment is precious. What a gift that the Lord teaches us such sweet things on this journey!

So we are in a season of stretching, growing, adjusting and letting go. It is glorious and gut-wrenching all at once. But above all, we are grateful. Grateful for the way the Lord brought Kyle and Bria together, for their commitment to Him and each other, and for grace that will sustain us all.

Kyle is a pre-med student so the road ahead of them will not be without challenges, though I’m eager to see how those very challenges will specifically shape and strengthen their marriage. I am fully confident that as they seek first His kingdom, everything they need will be added unto them. My greatest comfort is releasing my treasured child into the arms of a man I know will treasure her too. (Thank you, Kyle.)

And for those who will walk this road soon, there is no formula. There is only people, wisdom and the need for fervent prayer and grace. And friends! I am praising God for friends and friends who have walked this road, know how it feels, and are willing to hold my hand, walk with me, and love on me through it all. His gifts are innumerable!

I may be more quiet than usual for a long time. There is much to be done and huge adjustments to be made. And I’m up for the challenge. Because just this morning, my Father reminded me,

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength….they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40,41

Our Health Insurance Alternative (Saving Money on Health Insurance)

Dropping our Blue Cross Insurance was the best thing we ever did–financially and ethically. Not only were our premiums becoming increasingly expensive, but we were still paying large sums out-of-pocket, all while much of our money went to greasing the great big Insurance Machine.

We knew about Christian medical sharing programs, but were a little concerned they might not work as well in real life. Not to mention, I had been pregnant several times when we considered joining and thought our maternity care would not be covered. (It is.)

We joined Samaritan’s Ministries about 4 years ago and have been beyond excited about the way it works and how it has benefited our family.

What is a “medical sharing program”?

Samaritan’s is comprised of over 30,000 families who have agreed to pay a monthly “share” which is distributed among needs for that month.

If you have a medical bill over $300, you submit your “need” to Samaritans along with copies of your bill(s). They distribute the expense among as many families as it takes to cover it. You will then receive checks from individual families (usually along with an encouraging note) for part of your submitted need until full amount is received. (On rare occasions, the needs for the month exceed the shares and you receive a percentage. This has not happened to us as long as we’ve been members.)

Thus far in our experience with Samaritans, we have had our submitted medical bills covered 100% every time. We never had that experience with regular insurance companies.

What do you tell the doctor/hospital?

Samaritan’s provides you with a membership card which you can present at the time of treatment. You are considered a “self-pay” patient which hospitals and doctors actually prefer, since it alleviates the red tape of bureaucratic companies.

Does it work when there is a large medical expense?

Yes. We really got to see Samaritans in action when my father had a heart attack in 2011. Also a member, my Dad had a near-death experience when he had a massive heart attack and we rushed him to the ER. His bills exceeded $100,000, and every penny was paid by Samaritan’s members.

Consider that if they had still been on their former insurance which only paid 80%, they would have had to pay $38,000 just on the price their self-pay was. With insurance, the actual amount would have far exceeded that number and their out-of-pocket would as well. You aren’t just saving on premiums.

You can opt to pay extra and increase your share coverage.

How much does it cost?

A family pays a monthly share of about $400.

Another amazing thing…

In our newsletter each month there is a section for “special needs” which includes certain medical needs of members not covered by Samaritans because they are pre-existing. Members are offered the opportunity to give, in addition to their regular share, to these families to help cushion the expenses.

One month we gave $25 to such a need–an expensive operation. Several weeks later we received our check back. The note accompanying the check read that they had received more than they needed to cover the bill and he was actually having to return money to different members!

I was speechless.

Samaritan’s isn’t only an efficient, well-oiled machine that members can feel secure about, it’s a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ coming together to meet one another’s needs, just as Christ mentions in Scripture.

They have my highest recommendation.

Oh, and one more bonus: if you refer me, I get a credit on my next share amount. Which is also good news for you if you join. When you start sharing your positive experiences (and you will!), you’ll save more too.

*You must be a Christian and member of a church to join.

So Much Good Stuff to Inspire Your Homeschool Year

Homeschooling Myth Busters Series

Part 2: Socialization

Part 3: Sheltering

Part 4: “Proof is in the Puddin’”

Part 5: Academics

Part 6: Only One Way to Learn

Myth Buster Extra: How Do You Teach?

Embracing the Homeschool Advantage: A Living Education

Homeschooling: Help When You Fear You’re Not Doing it Right

How to Homeschool When You Think You Can’t

Homeschool For Free

Homeschooling Preschoolers Naturally

Operation Conversation: The Missing Ingredient to a Great Education

Homeschooling on Accident: Don’t Fret the Interrupted Day

Teaching English Simply

Creating a Lifestyle of Learning


You Have Too Many Children to Give Them What They Need

Somewhere along the line, we created an imaginary set of rules about what kids need  for healthy development and if you’ll listen closely, you’ll hear it: “To love my children is to buy them things.” Suffice it to say, if love equals providing material comforts,  American children are the most well-loved children in the world. Ironically, they also suffer the most from narcissism, ingratitude, and a grandiose sense of entitlement.

Those are the children we created attempting to “give them what they need.”  We said, essentially, though no parent would admit it, “Let me make you the center of the universe. Let my love translate into money, my affection into recreation, and let me, above all else, make sure you have everything and every experience you want so you’ll know how much I care about you.”

The disaster is that children want things, but it’s not what they need, and many parents aren’t smart enough to know the difference.

I’ve been asked, outright, how I could possibly give each child “what they need” since I have far more children than the average family. But the question I ask is, “What do you mean by ‘what they need?’ ” At first I assume they’re asking how I have enough time to spend with all my children, to know them and assess their individual needs.

But usually the people who ask me such questions have two parents working outside the home and their children are in school. With homework and school functions considered, that means parents and children are spending an average of (studies indicate) 36 minutes during a weekday together, and 7 out of 10 admit that time is mostly spent watching t.v.

Can this parent really be asking me if I have enough energy and time to go around for my 10 children? At this point, I realize their experience grossly skews their perception. I have far more children, true. But we are not scattered a whole bunch during the day. We don’t spend a lot of time watching t.v. We eat every meal together every day. I talk to each of my children, individually, every day. We work together, cook together, think and talk together. We’ve chosen this life, to the exclusion of other things. Ask me about those. But not about how my children don’t get enough of me.

They do not need more things. More things do not better children make.”

Or is the question really not so concerned with time and love? It does, after all, discredit the benefit of sibling love and attention and a shared responsibility of household duties which lightens everyone’s load and affords us more time. Is the question veiled in concern that my children won’t all get cars at 16? Or that we won’t be paying for their college?

Here’s what children need, whether you have 1 or 20. They need you to slow down. They need your time, your face, your voice, your hugs, your explanations about life. They need to know you are willing to sacrifice even some material comforts in order to be with them as much as you can. They need you to walk with them, laugh with them, play games with them and read to them. More than anything, they need you to disciple them by giving them practical wisdom as they encounter choices all throughout the day. They need a family knit together by simplicity and time.

They do not need more things. More things do not better children make. More vacations do not make them better children. More entertainment, more gadgets, more clothes or more toys do not bolster their success in life.

The god of consumerism hates children because “too many children” curb our spending. Should we be surprised that God’s ideas are at enmity with the world’s? He told us it would be so.

I grieve for a generation of parents whose intentions have been tragically misinformed. I grieve for a generation of children who are being sold a bill of goods that is destroying them and us.

As I see it, having “too many children” has provided a good and necessary protection in our lives from things to which we would naturally gravitate. In my life, having too many children is what allows me to give them exactly what they need.

Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions.

“One of the great things about living the simple life Kelly talks about here is that you can take the kids to the park, make banana splits at home, watch the caterpillar you caught last week emerge from its chrysalis a beautiful butterfly, and your children think they have a charmed life, rather than being bored with everything.” -Cindy Dyer, Get Along Home

What Hurry Does to My Heart

Dear Mom,

I know there are so many things to do. Important things. Things with deadlines and time restraints. But could we slow down, just a bit, and let me look at this caterpillar crawling by? This world around me is so interesting and I just want to watch it for a while.

I know you have to hurry to your work, your meeting, to my soccer game, and I know it’s bad to be late. But lately it feels like we hurry to everywhere. And I just wonder, at the end of our lives, will we be glad we went to all those places, even when hurrying doesn’t feel nice?

When we hurry you get short with me. Sometimes angry. I don’t understand because I’m going as fast as I can but I’m not as fast as you. And I thought we were supposed to “enjoy the moment” but I don’t think hurrying helps us do that.

What if we could slow down and not hurry so much? What if you had time to stop with me, look at me, and just enjoy the wonder in my face while I watch a butterfly? Have you watched a butterfly lately, mamma?

What if we just said “no” to being more places and said “yes” to being together?

What if we had more time to read and sit together, or snuggle together, or cook together? Because if you weren’t always in a hurry then it would be OK if I messed up.

Hurry sometimes hurts my heart. Can we not hurry so much before I get big and think that hurrying is how you’re supposed to live?

Your Opinion, Please? (A Proverbs 31 Fun Thing)

Not long after I started blogging, I wrote a series that became known as “The Ruby Rebel“, extolling the many qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Read the original post here.

A “Ruby Rebel” is essentially a woman who desires to be what Proverbs 31 calls “an excellent wife”, a woman who is “far above rubies” and therefore is in rebellion to the culture’s idea of womanhood.

I’ve always thought it would be glorious to “advertise” our brand of womanhood in a culture that blares its message at every turn. What if we became walking billboards too? At the very least, it might open the doors for opportunities to share Christ or for God’s Word to be presented in a practical way and thus pique someone’s desire to read it. So I designed this t-shirt and my question for you is, would you consider buying something like this? They would come with different snippets from Proverbs 31 on the back. (“Strength and dignity are her clothing.” … “She laughs at the time to come.”…etc.)

I’m interested in your feedback before I decide to have them printed. I’m also open to suggestions about the design.




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