Disney Adventures

I shamelessly admit that I am not a Disney person. My boys have only seen a small handful of Disney movies, and didn’t know (or care) who Mickey Mouse was until Nana began buying them several matching Mickey shirts for the upcoming family vacation. We’re not a big TV-watching family, we don’t have Disney soundtracks memorized, and they don’t know the difference between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

I bought a cheap four-pack of mouse ears on Amazon before we ever left. Good thing, because Disney sold them for $20+ each!

That being said, we had a fantastic time on our Disney Cruise and our stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Nana and Papa took the whole family (a dozen total of us) on an eight day extravaganza! It was an amazingly generous gift and we are now blessed with lifelong memories. While I definitely don’t consider myself a Disney convert, I do see the draw for those who drink the cool-aid. They make your family feel like their top priority, take extra care in preparing allergy-friendly meals, and cast members go out of their way to take care of any issues.

I set up an eye-liner pirate tattoo parlor before dinner. Keane was inspired to order “One bottle of rum, please!” from the waiter.

The boys visited the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to be transformed into royal knights (their cousins had appointments to be transformed into princesses), and one of the cast members told Asher there was a dragon who lurked between decks seven and eight, but only came out at 3:00am. Asher is an extremely logical child who doesn’t believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, or any other made-up childhood entity…but he believed this very convincing lady. I still can’t figure out why he latched on to her story the way he did, but he went to bed convinced that he would wake up three minutes before 3:00am to grab his sword and shield to hunt down this cruise ship dragon.

Asher and Keane took their royal knight duties very seriously!

As Mark was putting the boys to bed, I snuck off to guest services to explain the issue. Strangest conversation I’ve ever had, to say the least! I figured if Disney caused the problem, Disney could solve the problem. I explained the elaborately detailed story related to Asher by the boutique cast member, and how devastated he was going to be when he realized he had been lied to (he’s an ESTJ, so dishonesty or being tricked is particularly upsetting). The very helpful crew member, Bianca, said she’d never before encountered this issue and offered to make a call to the stateroom, explaining to Asher that the dragon had been called away on a mission. When she called, he had already fallen asleep…but she didn’t stop there. She wrote a note in an official Disney Dream stationary card from the dragon’s perspective. It was Mushu from Milan. (Granted, he’s never seen Milan, but this lady gave it her all!) “Mushu” apologized to Asher for having to fly to China to help Milan with a special mission, but told him that he’d always be with him as a spirit guide. Did this all end in tears for my tenderhearted son? Yes. However, Bianca went out of her way to help; she truly went above and beyond. Asher found her note slipped under our stateroom door at 5:00am, when he woke up on his own to go find the dragon. My sweet boy shot up out of bed saying, “Dragon!” while grabbing up his sword and shield. He was met at the door with the card from Mushu; it softened the blow but still stung. Fortunately, he walked off the ship with many more happy memories than sad ones, so this wasn’t wholly devastating.

Extra happy because they didn’t get stung by jellyfish…Daddy wasn’t so lucky!

Aside from that disappointing escapade, the only negatives to speak of are the over abundance of commercialism and non-stop movies. Although, you kind of know what you’re walking into since it’s Disney, so that’s really no surprise. On the cruise ship, there’s a poolside Jumbotron that constantly plays Disney movies. It’s hard to avoid that one, but easy enough to ignore while swimming. Two pools and an epic water roller coaster proved much more exciting to my boys than the ginormous cartoons.

Their one and only obligatory character photo.

On the ship, they play the newest Disney movies that are currently playing in theaters worldwide. We could have seen Aladdin, Toy Story 4, and Avengers: End Game, but we did not. The idea of sitting in front of a movie screen for hours on end is not my idea of fun — especially during vacation. To give Daddy an after-pool-break, I did take the boys to see DisneyNature’s Penguins, which was adorably educational and entertaining. Every cable TV channel owned by Disney is accessible on your stateroom’s television, but that’s easily avoided by not turning on the TV.

The entertainment we did “indulge” in were the Broadway-style shows. We saw two of them: Believe and Beauty and the Beast. They were phenomenal; the extremely talented cast had the boys mesmerized and on the edges of their seats both nights!

Disney’s private island had gorgeous beaches!

Based on their phenomenal customer service, pristine beaches at Castaway Cay, and special attention to all of my food allergies, we would consider booking another Disney vacation within the next five years…but we’d never consider joining their vacation club and spending every vacation with Disney.

Getting extra mileage out of those pirate shirts in Nassau

Self Care through Mother Culture

Many a homeschooling mother has heard the term mother culture, but not all of us have a good grasp on how to implement it in our own lives. As I enter my fourth year of homeschooling, I’ve realized the importance of setting aside some sacred time and space to nurture my heart, mind, body, and soul. This goes beyond personal prayer and devotionals. While those two things are integral to my walk with God, mother culture is a type of self care that fills me up so I can continue giving to my children. It also anchors my soul in a way that lets me be me. At some point, my little birds will leave the nest. When that day comes, I want to know that I haven’t completely abandoned my own growth. Mothering is never finished, but it will change as my boys become men. In the midst of those changes, I cannot forsake kindling the fires of my mind, heart, body, and soul.

My latest Mother Culture Day was admiring Monet’s paintings at the Kimbell.

At any given moment, I have two or three books on Audible that I listen to while doing dishes, laundry, or driving around alone. My book table is spilling over with Sally Clarkson’s words of wisdom and several prayer books. Every other Tuesday night I meet up with a handful of homeschooling mamas for a Charlotte Mason book club. We also get together once a month for kid-free fellowship.

On Sunday nights the boys attend Awanas…and I cozy up with books at a nearby Starbucks. Approximately every six weeks, my husband will take the kids for a fun Daddy Day so I can have an introverted date day. Six hours all to myself. This is time I set aside to feed my soul — not to do laundry or dishes! I’ve been known to watch plays, wander through museums, listen to audiobooks while getting a pedicures, or meet up with my mom for a fun girls’ day. In the beginning, I felt guilty for this time away, but it makes me a better mother. This sought-after mother culture recharges my batteries and settles my soul for the work at hand: motherhood.

To commemorate my precious self-care time, I like shed my mom-uniform and dress up a wee bit.

If this concept seems entirely foreign to you, please don’t give up before giving it a shot! Ask your husband to take the kids to Chick-fil-A for two hours so you can read a book with a cup of tea in your favorite chair. Better yet, have him pop some popcorn for a movie night; this will buy you at least ninety minutes at a local coffee shop! If nature speaks to your heart and soul, sneak in a quick hike or nature walk around your neighborhood. Start small — steal away for a few precious moments to feed your inner self, and add more time each week. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Truth, Goodness, & Beauty-Sleep

On those days when all of your best efforts just aren’t enough to get the train up the hill, it’s probably best to pump the breaks and take a rest. Morning Time kicked off with a pirate treasure hunt, then moved onto MadLibs and play-dough and Legos — oh my! Scripture and Shakespeare were full of truth and goodness; Nature Study was full of beauty…and…then…things began to derail when it came time for nature journaling.

Asher had told himself before the pencil ever hit the paper that he couldn’t do it. While he never said it aloud, it was written all over him (that limp-noodle body language speaks volumes). With supernatural love speaking louder than my internal impatience, I urged him to try his best. Encouraging words just weren’t quite enough to pull him from the doldrums. Nevertheless, we persevered. Not because he wanted to, but because I sat with him and wouldn’t allow him to quit. I cheered him on and complimented his finger spacing between words. His perfectionist personality type can be a huge stumbling block when it comes to subjects like handwriting and drawing; frustration ensues when he can’t make the paper look like what he sees in his mind.

In these frequent situations, my attitude can go one of two ways:

1. I can allow that frustration to sweep us both out to sea and chide him for what some might see as a lack of effort.

2. I can look at the little boy God has entrusted to me, see both his strengths and weaknesses, and love him through it all.

A few hours after nature journaling time, he walked into the living room where I was folding laundry. Shoulders slumped and face fallen, he said, “Mom, I just have this big ball of feelings that I don’t know what to do with. I feel sad, like crying, and I don’t know why.” I gathered him up in my arms and told him that I sometimes feel that way, too. I thanked him for telling me his feelings, and snuggled him close. “Mom, do you think we could cuddle up and take a nap?” So we did, because hours earlier I had chosen option number two. How would our day have gone had I allowed frustration to reign? What would he have done with his big ball of feelings then? Over our three years of homeschooling, I’ve come to understand that it’s rarely just about the handwriting. The seeming problem at hand is usually a telltale sign of the condition of my son’s heart.

I’m so thankful that I stepped back and followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting. It was an incredibly humbling experience to realize that I held my son’s heart in my hands when I made the choice to extend kindness in the face of frustration. Keane was more than happy to join us on the couch, and we all crashed for a good two hours. Asher enjoyed his first nap so much that he took another one thirty minutes after waking up from the first. That, my friends, is God’s grace in action.

Adventuring with your Children

Throughout all of my reading, research, and experience as a homeschooling mother, I’ve learned that the best way to teach is to come alongside your children.

Do you want them to develop a love of reading? Don’t give them a stack of books and a command to read, read WITH them!

Cuddle up on the couch with blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals to read together. I’ll read a paragraph, then point to my sons and have them each read a few sentences. This improves confidence and fluency, not to mentions fills everyone’s cuddle tanks! Each summer we sign up for the community library’s reading program (together). We listen to audiobooks (together), log our collective hours, collect our reading prizes (together) and celebrate each five hour milestone (together)!

Notice a trend?!

Do you want them to love nature and become passionate explorers? Make discoveries WITH them and explore nature with them!

This is another beautiful aspect of togetherness which will lead to budding independent exploration as the boys grow. Together, we take nature walks, hike trails, splash in puddles, and write in our nature journals. This outdoor together time sets the stage for semi-independent exploration. We are now to the point where my oldest is allowed to walk to the pond by himself — with me watching from the front porch. I can trust that he will be safe and follow our family rules because it’s a walk we’ve taken together countless times. (He’s also an ESTJ, so that helps!) After allowing him a bit of solo birdwatching time, I traipse down the path with little brother (an ISFP who enjoys having Mommy nearby for his explorations). Then I make things really exciting and announce that it’s Brother Time! I remind them to stay together on the bench to watch birds and turtles, then I quickly walk back home to pack snacks and umbrellas. I consider myself more of a hummingbird parent than a helicopter mom. A little space and perceived independence goes a long way in building confidence and nature skills!

Do you want them to love the Lord your God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength? Don’t just park them in Sunday School every week and assume the lovely volunteers will take care of that…bring them alongside you in your faith walk!

Read the Bible at bedtime, have morning devotionals, pray aloud (often, for anything and everything), worship together through music, recite liturgies, pass out cold water to the homeless when it’s 106 degrees in July, adopt a grandmother at the local nursing home and love her well until Jesus calls her home — all of that and more will show them what it’s like to worship with their whole life. Ask God for opportunities; I promise you he will provide and stretch you beyond your comfort zone!

I follow the mindset of missional motherhood; my home is my mission-field and my children are little disciples, eager to soak up and share the love of Jesus. They are God’s first and foremost, on loan to me for a short blink of an eye.

What will I do with that time?

Will I give them a stack of workbooks with a list of lessons and send them on their way with a deadline in mind?

Or, will I come alongside them in the spirit of discipleship and act as a godly mentor?

May I never grow weary of walking this journey alongside my children. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us, wherever he may send us. May he guide us through the wilderness and protect us through the storms. May he bring us home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown us; may he bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors.

Morning Nature Walks

For the past couple of years, our school days have started with Morning Time at 9:00am. This year, we began instituting an 8:00am nature walk! Spending an hour in nature prior to beginning our school day has been a wonderful way to ensure the most important things aren’t forgotten.

Making time for wonder and wander opens our hearts to God’s grace and provision. The boys take time to catch frogs, marvel at Osage orange trees, drop sticks in the stream, and count how many red-winged blackbirds alight in the trees.

An hour outdoors at the start of our day sets a beautiful tone for everything that comes after. It’s a flawless transition to practice handwriting in our nature journals, leads to an organic drawing lesson, and unites our hearts for the coming day.

The boys discovered a hidden trail, neighborhood bat boxes, and the perfect place to bring our paints for a Monet-style art lesson. Creating a habit of starting each school day with a nature walk will no doubt enhance every aspect of our educational endeavors!

Endless Summer

Lazy days at Hudson Acres fill my heart with peace and wonder. My boys roam freely, visit the cows in the pasture and the chickens in the coop, splash cousins with a water hose, and catch frogs until the sun goes down. We gaze up into the dark prairie sky to spy the Big Dipper and far away planets.

I worship the God of all Creation while swaying in a hammock tied between two ancient Catalpa trees. The birds offer up praise songs, build cathedrals of nests, and the cicadas sing of His glory. This is the Sabbath rest my soul craves.

The Serendipitous Summer Sign-off

Summers have become my long-awaited season to hit the pause button on so many things. Homeschool co-op, Awanas, and weekly field trips are on hold until early fall. I also like to cut ties with social media during this summer Sabbath margin. We tend to spend these sweltering Texas days in air conditioned abodes, or on the front porch at Hudson Acres — where there are plenty of tall trees and prairie breezes to make the heat bearable.

As an introverted mama, I’ve come to appreciate these special times when we’re able to unplug and disengage a bit. I love my people fiercely, yet constant engagement without time for introspection leaves me exhausted. Traditionally, people take a break from education during summer months, but I’ve found this is when we hit out sweet spot. The outside world doesn’t impede on our family time. We’re not rushing out the door or focused on a never-ending to-do list. We get more uninterrupted cuddle time and less stress. Morning time, poetry teatime, picture study, nature study, and an overhaul of literature faithfully accompany us through June, July, and August.

I’m able to read life-giving books, sit more presently at the feet of Yeshua, and inhale the gardenia-scented breeze in my garden. It’s pure bliss that prepares me for the schedule that autumn brings.

My Charlotte Mason reading group is even pausing halfway through Miss Mason’s principles to read Northanger Abbey and David Copperfield — does it get any better?! Iced tea and homemade cold brew coffee will lace these delicious days of grace, and I will drink deeply from the wellsprings of life (both caffeinated and decaffeinated). May you avoid those pesky sunburns, and take hold of the beauty this season affords!

A Day in the Life: Our Homeschool Routine

Poetry tea time!

We’re three years into our homeschooling journey, and my boys are currently ages six and four. I taught high school English for six years as a young adult; that experience solidified my desire to home educate my future children. Every day is an adventure, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! As the seasons come and go, time has taught me that I’m not one to stick to rigorous time-stamped schedules. Routines and rhythms ebb and flow with our family’s needs, so following the Holy Spirit’s guidance it paramount to thriving where we’re planted. (Enter Sally Clarkson as my discipleship guru and mentor.)

At this age and stage of life, I’ve come to realize we (my two boys and myself) successfully operate in twenty-minute increments before we all need mental breaks. I follow a basic routine about three days each week. The other days are reserved for our homeschool community day, forest school (we take hikes in a local nature preserve), and field trips thrown in here and there. On Friday afternoons, we have a standing art playdate with our sweet friends in the neighborhood. We enjoy doing projects from Masterpiece Society!

Below is a general overview of our at-home days. Please understand we don’t follow this to a T! (Times are all approximations clearly denoted by the highly technical term “ish!”) I follow my boys’ needs as they arise, so it’s rather easy to switch, change, and rearrange our routine.

Play breaks are built in throughout the day; I don’t ever expect them to sit still for longer than five or seven minutes at a time, we’re not big on workbooks, and nature walks are my secret weapon! Sometimes those “play breaks” involve them helping clean the house! (These fun sweeper socks leave them practically begging to clean the floor.)

Cleaning is fun when we turn it into a game!

If things are going a little crazy, we pop on our shoes and go collect leaves or hunt for minnows in our neighborhood pond. If they’ve been big helpers around the house (or if I need a change of scenery), we’ll drop everything and head to the zoo, LegoLand, a museum, or the park. We listen to memory work, audiobooks, and fun learning songs as we drive.

The following “schedule” is an attempt to (hopefully) answer that persistent question all homeschoolers encounter: What do you do all day?!

6:30am — I wake up for quiet time and a cup of tea.

7:00ish — The kids wake up and eat breakfast.

8:00ish — Everyone brushes teeth and gets dressed.

8:30ishThe 3Rs: handwriting practice, read one book out loud to me (or Dad, if he’s home), and practice math facts.

9:00ish — The kids go play outside while I do a bit of dishes/laundry or finish getting myself ready for the day.

9:30ish — Morning Time, prayer, and devotional. Check out Pam Barnhill’s website for more info about Morning Time. We do a loop schedule for nature study, grammar, logic, and idioms at the end of Morning Time.

10:00ish — The kids go play in their bedroom or outside, depending on the unpredictable Texas weather.

10:30ish — Snack time!

11:00ish — Reading aloud and narration. I read while they “quietly” play with Legos/magnet blocks/playdough, and then the six-year-old narrates what he heard. Check out Know and Tell by Karen Glass for more info on narration, and Sarah Mackenzie’s website for info on reading aloud. Some days I read Story of the World for history, and other days I read a few pages of Theodore Gray’s books for science.

11:30ish — The boys continue playing with Legos/magnet blocks/playdough while I do more housework and make lunch.

12:00ish — Lunch time!

1:00ish — The boys watch some type of educational show while I do more housework. (Because it literally never ends!)

  • DVDs: Preschool Prep, WhistleFritz Spanish or French, Song School Latin, or Schoolhouse Rock
  • YouTube: Kids Learning Tube, Jack Hartmann, or NatGeo Kids

2:00ish — The TV is turned off, and the boys listen to educational songs, an audiobook, or memory work music while playing in their room.

2:30 (on the dot!) — TEA TIME! I read poems, a missionary biography, or a fairy tale while we have tea. The boys drink lemonade in the spring and summer, then cider in autumn and winter. I drink tea all day, every day! Check out Julie Bogart’s webpage for more info on Poetry Teatime.

3:00ish — The boys clean up all of their toys, and then I read aloud some more. This time they choose their own books; we snuggle up on the couch with soft Celtic music playing in the background. Sometimes they fall asleep…sometimes I do, too.

3:30ish — I start prepping for dinner while the boys color or do some other simple project. They can also play in their room, look at books together, or play outside. Basically anything that doesn’t require my help and doesn’t make a mess! Once I finish dinner prep and everything is in the oven, I attempt to kick back in my rocking chair and read for myself…this is a rare occurrence.

5:00ish — Dinner time!

6:00ish — While I clean up the kitchen, it’s Daddy playtime! Dad also gets them bathed and brushes their teeth. Then we put away more toys that have inevitably been hauled back into the living room.

7:00ish — Bible reading with Daddy — they cuddle up with pillows in the living room floor and listen while Dad reads Bible stories.

7:30ish — Bed time show. They’re really into Peter Rabbit since we’ve been reading lots of Beatrix Potter. So, one night they get to watch Peter Rabbit (Amazon), and the next night they’ll watch SuperBook (RightNow Media and Amazon).

8:00ish — Bedtime blessings and lights out! They fall asleep listening to Celtic lullabies and an audiobook. One night it will be James Herriot, the next it will be Beatrix Potter. We tried listening to The Action Bible for a while, but it just kept them awake!

Handwriting practice involves writing letters to family!
Drawing practice helps my 4yo learn proper grip!

Keeping the Feasts


Sabbath / Shabbat
Passover / Pesach
Unleavened Bread / Hag HaMatzot 
Firstfruits / Reishit
Pentecost / Shavuot
Trumpets / Rosh HaShanah
Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur
Tabernacles / Sukkot
Feast of Dedication / Hanukkah
Feast of Lots / Purim

One of my favorite parts of our family’s life rhythm includes keeping the biblical feasts. I’m often met with raised eyebrows when people hear that we celebrate weekly Shabbat dinners, but it’s the most beautiful part of our week! My sons get very excited when Friday rolls around; they know we’ll be enjoying pizza at the Shabbat table — complete with the weekly Torah portion, candles, and prayer sticks (prayer requests written on wood craft sticks). I love watching my husband place his hands on our boys and bless them, my heart melts into a giant puddle as he speaks encouraging words of blessing over their lives. I love hearing my boys recite the blessings, and I love the scriptures that are hidden in their hearts from repeating this weekly rhythm over the years.

Here is a PDF our family’s Shabbat table reading.

When we first began celebrating the appointed feasts, I used A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays by Robin Sampson and Linda Pierce. I’ve never been one to make copies and do worksheets, so I read through the content and customized it for my family. It is packed with helpful information, steeped in scripture, and an excellent jumping-off point for anyone interested in keeping the feasts. I like Heidi Cooper’s My First Torah when it comes to reading aloud at the Shabbat table.

After we began consistently keeping a grace-filled Messianic Shabbat, we added the spring feasts beginning with Passover, then counted the Omer all the way from Firstfruits to Pentecost. After a summer sabbatical where we try not to sweat to death in Texas, we welcome the autumn season with the Feast of Trumpets — my little men blow those horns with all of their might and we eat apples with honey to rejoice in God’s sweet blessings for the new year. On the Day of Atonement we read the story of Jonah, pray for the day of Israel’s ultimate restoration, and are so grateful that Jesus tore the veil through his ultimate sacrifice.

We began keeping the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths last year, and the boys enjoyed eating dinner in our tent structure on the patio! This provides the perfect opportunity to talk about God’s faithfulness to the Hebrews when they wandered through the desert for forty years — it’s also a fun harvest celebration that reminds us of God’s provision. This feast was traditionally celebrated with ceremonies of water and light, to prophecy the coming of the Messiah. It was during this feast when Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” The next morning he went on to say, ” I am the light of the world,” (John 7-8) so his statements during this time were immensely profound! Our goal for this year is to set the tent up in the back yard and give it a go…we’ll see.

The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah!) was actually our first feast to keep, and we’ve been doing that for the past several years. Learning more about this particular feast led me down the wonderful path of keeping Shabbat. If anyone wants a very gentle entry into the biblical feasts, I’d suggest starting with Hanukkah! This is a festival of lights in which we are so beautifully reminded that God is light, and that He is faithful to deliver his people from the oppression of sin and death — as evident through the story of the Macabees. The boys enjoy playing dreidel games and lighting the candles each night. This often overlaps with our Advent season, so our house absolutely glows with light after sundown!

Here is a PDF of our family’s nightly Hanukkah Readings.

The end of winter finds us in the Book of Esther with the Feast of Lots. Purim has been such a fun celebration that reminds us of God’s deliverance. While Esther delivered her people from Haman’s evil plot of certain death, Jesus delivers all who believe from that same irrevocable decree. We attend Gateway’s awesome Purim party, complete with noisy groggers and lots of booing when Haman’s name is read aloud. Tasty treats and dancing into the night make Purim something to look forward to each year!

Our family has been so blessed by keeping these feasts. It helps us have a greater understanding while reading through the Old Testament, and we’re able to see how Jesus came and fulfilled each feast that God appointed. The annual feast cycle constantly reminds us of God’s faithfulness in each season of life, and prepares our hearts to hear his voice.

That One Time God Hijacked Netflix…

abandoned antique close up design

Charles Stanley interrupted my Netflixing at 1:00am. I was halfway through one of my House Doctor episodes when the TV suddenly went black. The remote sat untouched on the arm of the chair, and I sat confused nestled down in the couch cushions. After a brief black screen, Charles Stanley – in all of his suit and tie glory – appeared behind a polished wooden pulpit out of nowhere. Now, I know too much about God to ignore something like that. As much as I wanted to see the chimney breast’s new wallpaper and updated master bedroom, I knew God was after my attention. I resisted the urge to grab the remote and troubleshoot the issue.

Earlier in the evening, while in a bit of a funk, I asked God for guidance in my spiritual life during a half-hearted journaling session. A few hours later, the power of the Holy Spirit broke through my complacent cookie-eating and chocolate-almond-milk-drinking pity-party to remind me of His power…and to show me point-blank how much I’ve been blatantly ignoring Him.

The past few weeks I’ve found myself dragging – up too late at night, in bed too late in the mornings, always trying to play catch-up. My lovely boys have seemed too loud, too much, and too needy. My husband has seemed too busy, too impatient, and too insensitive. I’ve been struggling to handle it all and instead of running to God and begging for his help, I’ve done my best to “just keep swimming” until I’m barely treading water. This whole time, I imagine God has been right beside me, just waiting for me to ask for His strength to continue. To cry out for his reserves of patience and energy. To diligently pray for guidance not just to make it through the day, but to thrive each day.

I have a terrible history of thinking that being self-sufficient is somehow godly or beneficial. That people who muse about “letting go and letting God” aren’t really trying – that they’re guilty of some pie-in-the-sky mindset that little songbirds are going to flit through their windows and clean their kitchen. I’ve often harbored the idea that God is needed so much more in Somalia and Afghanistan and China that I should just handle my life to the best of my abilities. In doing so, I’ve put God in a box. I’ve denied the Holy Spirit access to my heart and mind, and I’ve set myself up to think that I’m capable of loving my husband and children in my own power. I’ve placed my own needs last by not making time to sit in His presence. When I don’t drink the living water, how can I provide a peaceful home for my family?

The Holy Spirit is there.

When I’m struggling, it’s because I’m living in the flesh. I’m trying to take care of my family through my own power – not relying on The Helper. He has given me the capacity and enabled me to do everything God wanted me to do at this particular age and this particular circumstance, throughout the rest of my life.

He who has indwelled me and is running over inside of me is my guardian; the source of my energy, power, and purpose. Jesus Christ forgave my sins when I asked him, and the Holy Spirit sealed me at that moment. I immediately received the Holy Spirit. That receiving was instantaneous, but living it out is a lifelong process. He convicts me, forgives me, guides me, and guards me.

He intends for me to live for Him by trusting in Him every single day. (Luke 24:47-49, Mark 16:15)

I need to claim the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of God. I need to stop relying on myself and lean on Jesus, who is living in and through me. He is prepared to equip me…but I must be prepared to let Him lead. The power of the Deity is living inside of me, but if I’m not acknowledging or claiming Him, I’m ignoring him. He did not ask me to do the best I can. I am designed to do what the Spirit of God will enable and allow me to do.

The Power of the Holy Spirit is God’s divine energy and authority released in the life of the believer for the purpose of godly living and fruitful service. (So says Charles Stanley. I know because I took sermon notes in the middle of the night. While not watching Netflix.)

I’m equipped with the presence of the Holy Spirit, but I’ve been attempting to live in my own power. I haven’t given myself the time and space to sit in His presence, to reflect on His power, and to genuinely ask for His guidance. Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, and spread too thin. In the midst of it all, I have not stopped once to seek His help. I haven’t made time to seek His presence or counsel. He’s my seal, my salvation, my life. He wants me to live in His strength, His power, His life, for His glory and honor. To be spirit-filled means confessing, repenting, yielding, surrendering, acknowledging His ownership, and allowing Him into every nook and cranny of my heart and mind.

So, in response to my cursory prayers of “What should I do, God?” he gave me a very clear and concise answer! I will be looking up verses about the Holy Spirit and researching the Greek and Hebrew words referring to the Holy Spirit. I will be daily asking for His guidance and wisdom. And with his guidance and wisdom, I will be reading through Proverbs to hide that wisdom in my heart.

Ask and ye shall receive…even in the doldrums of midnight Netflixing.