the lasts in mothering…

Tomorrowellen22 morning at 11:29 a.m. (or there about…), I will no longer have a 12-and-under child in my home. All three of my Es will be teenagers.

I’m still processing this.

I remember reading about all the “firsts” of motherhood. The first time you feel the flutter of your little one tucked safe and warm deep inside. The first time you see your baby’s face. The first time you hear your name change to “mama.” The first time your child rolls over, takes her first steps, goes to school. Those firsts are precious milestones that mothers get to savor.

Did I ever read about the “lasts” of motherhood? ellen68

The last time I would nurse a baby or change a diaper. The last time I would give a bath or wipe a nose. The last time we would put training wheels on a tiny bicycle and later take them off. The last time I would teach a child to read. The last time I would prepare for a 13th birthday.

I think I’ve forgotten more lasts than I’ve remembered

I’m sure I heard about the lasts of motherhood somewhere by someone but I didn’t know and I didn’t listen.

I didn’t know thellen93at the lasts are not lost in some matrix of time and space far, far into the future but are closer than I ever imagined.
I didn’t know that the lasts are the moments that are often missed by the lens of the camera in the hurry to document the next first.

Mostly, I didn’t know that the lasts of mothering are far more precious than the firsts.

Tonight was another last, only this time I knew to savor it.


We have a family tradition that on the 13th birthday, we present our kids with a book of letters of wisdom and encouragement from friends and family. Tonight we img_2240presented our last 13th Birthday Book.

I’m still processing it.

We sat in a booth at our favorite pizza place {her birthday dinner of choice} and I watched her as she read words of affirmation, letters of encouragement, messages steeped with memories, and love notes from those who love her most.

She read slowly and savored the words.
I watched her and savored the moment… this last child of mine on her last night of childhood.

A sweet last of mothering I’ve tucked deep inside to savor for a long time.

the importance of turning off to tune in

IMG_2091Saturday morning, we woke up early-ish, packed the cooler with water bottles and snacks and hit the road. We had things to do, places to go, and a camper that needs a make-over.

We spent the day visiting a great resale store, four different Habitat for Humanity ReStores, the RV Museum and the RV library. We found some great deals, learned some interesting facts and unearthed some buried treasures.

It rained buckets and we missed an exit. We laughed and she talked. She shared the back seat with a big window screen and manned the cooler. We got excited when we found vintage lights and disappointed when there was only one piece of the exact flooring she envisioned. She dreamed. We listened.

Best of all, the entire day I turned off the social media notifications on my phone so I could tune in to our adventure.

When you work from home as a social media manager, social media becomes more than a job. It becomes a way of life, or maybe it’s just me?

I rarely ever truly step away from what I do. When I get on to check my personal pages, the lines blur and I inadvertently check work pages too. All too often, a quick answer to a notification becomes 30 or 40 minutes of clicking through, tuning out those around me.

It’s a constant battle to turn off and tune in.

For a few hours on a rainy Saturday, I was able to set my work aside and be present in the moment. As time ticked by and the adventure continued, I had less and less desire to even look at what I might be missing.

Later, when we got home after our adventure and a very fun 1st birthday party, my phone looked like Facebook had a party without me. Messenger was overflowing and my notifications were too. I took one look at the red numbers on my Facebook accounts and turned my phone off for the rest of the night and most of Sunday too.

And, whenIMG_2112 I logged on this morning, it took less time than usual to answer messages and click through notifications.

What started as a few hours of intentional turning off turned into a weekend of tuning in. And, I was better for it.

The best part? Time with these I love.


this is why I love homeschool

IMG_1997Confession time, this title is a little misleading.

In my real life, there are about 2,456,897 reasons why I love homeschool. This post is approximately reasons number 2,456,898 and 2,456,899 but I wasn’t sure that made a good blog title. 🙂

This is the fifteenth year we’ve journeyed this path called homeschool. It’s also roughly the third consecutive time we’ve started a new school year following my definitive declaration the previous spring, “this is my last year of homeschool.”

Honestly, we keep going with this educational choice because of the opportunities that it presents. However, after fourteen years, I truly thought there was nothing new. We’ve done homeschool, public school, and private school. We’ve explored Charlotte Mason method, Classical Education, unschooling, and child lead learning. We’ve taken our homeschool on the road camping across different states, to two other countries, and we’ve taken advantage of two different colleges in our town for dual-credit classes. I thought we had mostly done it all.

Wrong, again.

This year new adventures await.

project Salud y Paz....Emme started Certified Nurses Assistant training this morning. While this is not a required step in her goal to become an RN someday, her dad (a nurse, himself) encouraged her to go this route. Emme is a senior this year and has only 12th grade English and U.S. Government left to complete for her diploma, so the CNA class at our local career center fit nicely into her schedule. After her first medical missions trip to Guatemala six years ago, my girl hasn’t wavered in her desire to do something in the medical missions field. Today is her first step and I can’t wait to see where God leads her. I don’t have a picture of her in her new eggplant colored scrubs this morning, but here she is, a few years ago, where her adventure began… in Guatemala.

IMG_1999Ellen’s schooling adventure this year is all about renovation, design, and budgeting. Meet Betty. Betty is a 1964 Bee Line travel trailer made not too far from where we live now. Ellen is giving Betty the ultimate make-over in hopes of selling Betty to generate funds to buy and restore her very own glamper. So, aside from her typical math, writing, science, and history classes, Ellen is learning all about repair and restoration, as well as learning which things are “needs” and which are “wants” when it comes to making Betty beautiful again. We’ll be heading to the RV Museum in Elkhart this week and taking advantage of their extensive library to learn more of what Betty used to look like and hopefully gain some make-over ideas. Thankfully, we have a friend with experience and he’s been incredibly generous in sharing his tips of the trade with Ellen. Stay tuned. I can’t wait to show you what she does with Betty this school year. Here is the link to her Facebook group if you want to follow along:

As I look back, I can honestly say that the number one reason I love homeschool is because I have been gifted fourteen years to encourage and equip my kids to pursue their dreams and passions.

I’m grateful for one more year!

working-from-home isn’t all rainbows… 3 things to consider

For some of us, working from home sounds wonderful. What could be better than setting your own hours, working in a tee shirt and jeans, and avoiding morning rush hour?

I’m a big work-from-home fan. I love the opportunities it has afforded me and my family. I love that I can wear my jeans to work and I love slow mornings. Sounds great, huh? I think so. However, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.

If you are thinking of working from home, here are three things to consider:

  1. Working from home is still work. In a perfect world, we could all do what we want to do with our time and still have the income we desire in our bank accounts. Unfortunately, for most of us, this utopia doesn’t exist. While working from home look can look as different as the women doing it, it still starts with the word-work.
  2.  Working from home still requires time sacrifice. Just as you trade your time for money when you go to the office (or the retail store or the factory) you are trading your time at home for money. One of the joys of working from home is that often you can choose which hours of your day you will trade for income. Even still, it’s still a trade.
  3. Working from home often means trying again and again. You might submit a bid, apply for a position, meet potential clients only to find out that either you aren’t right for the job or the job isn’t right for you. It’s okay. You win some, you lose some, and you learn along the way. Thankfully, you get to try again tomorrow.

It’s not all rainbows. It’s not easy. It is work.

And, it can be good.

Is it for you?

Working from homeisn't all rainbowsbut it can be good.Is it for you-


working from home: 3 keys to the journey


It seems like every single day I field questions like:

How do you work from home?

Is it legit?

Do you think I could do it too?

Some people are happy going to work every day. They enjoy working away from home in an office, store, or cubicle. Though I’m not one of them, I am thrilled that they have found their place in this life.

The rest of us are aching for a different journey. We want a path that gives us the freedom to set our own hours, to be our own boss, and to work from anywhere that isn’t an office, store, or cubicle. We just don’t know how to get there.



Recently, I’ve talked to several friends who are successfully working from home. I’ve asked them about their journey, how they came to do what they currently do, and how they got started.

Amazingly, although they have different businesses and careers, they all gave me almost the same answers.


3 keys to the journey:

1) It takes FAITH. A successful journey takes faith in a God bigger than you can ever imagine and faith in the gifts and abilities that He has gifted you.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.          Hebrews 11:1 (nlt)

Faith becomes the compass that directs every path journeyed.

2) It takes a VISION.  Before you begin any journey, you need a vision. Make goals and write them down. Keep them in front of you. Goals keep you focused.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.  Proverbs 29:18 (kjv)

Vision becomes True North on your compass.

3) It takes COURAGE. Every journey presents opportunities to give up and quit your dream. It takes courage to stay the course when the days are long and hard.

Be strong and courageous!  Joshua 1:6 (nlt)

Courage keeps the compass in front of you.


A successful journey isn’t an easy one but successful people don’t choose the easy path, they choose the path that’s worth it.

And, they journey with faith, vision, and courage.

the joy of working from home


This is my view this week.

My youngest and I ran away to the lake again. The joy in running away is we don’t have a plan or a schedule. We don’t have a set time to arrive and we don’t always know how long we will be here. My mom graciously lets us hang out until we get water logged and sunburned and ready to go home. There’s food in the fridge and a washer when we run out of clean clothes. It’s a really good gig!


As they were walking out the door to go to town to look for craft supplies for Ellen, my Mom said, “I’m sorry you have to work or you could go with us!”

To which I replied, “I’m so glad to be working from here!”

This is the joy of working from home.

I can work from anywhere.


Ok… maybe not anywhere because who wants to work while kayaking?

The joy of working from home means I simply need my phone, my computer, and a wifi connection. I can work  while my girl spends time with her grandma, fishes, kayaks, paddleboards, and binge watches Fixer Upper.


After spending my time away from home to earn an income, I realized I can’t get that time behind a desk back.

Life is short. We all get a certain number of days and I’m learning to put a high price on my time. I’m learning to run away, to chase sunsets, and to spend time face to face with my friends and family.

In doing so, I’ve discovered the hidden joy of working from anywhere… I get to be with those I love the most.




when the words slide off the page

I had it all arranged, the paragraphs, the indents, the white space. The structure was sound, the arrangement was balanced. It looked good. I could tell you the outline and I could describe the characters. I didn’t know subplots, just yet, but I could tell you knew where the story was headed, where it would go, and how it would end. I had it all figured out.

Suddenly, though, all the words just slid off the page into a mountain of typeset letters piled high. I had a white computer screen and a jumbled mess. I was dumbfounded.

This was part of a dream I had this week. I have spent much time, this summer, contemplating life, mostly where I am and where I want to be. Apparently, my sub-conscience was in overdrive the other night because I would guess this dream was more reality than fantasy.

Here’s the thing. When I first woke up, I wigged out. Wild, random thoughts filled my mind.

“Does this mean I’m done writing?”

“If written all my life, in one form or another. What will I do?”

“Have I lost my purpose?”

A few cups of coffee, a little time, and a whole lot of Jesus helped settle me down and put things back in their right perspective.

I haven’t written much this summer. It’s been quiet here on the blog, quiet in my journals, quiet in my next book. As quiet as it’s been here and there, it’s not been quiet in my real life. Instead of writing, I’ve been talking to and connecting with women daily.

One of the greatest blessings of coming home to work is the connections I have made with so many women who are either doing the same thing or are seeking to be able to do it. I’ve been able to share my story and encourage others to pursue their God-given gifts and abilities to find ways to work from home (feel free to join our Facebook group for inspiration and encouragement).

I am finding deep purpose in meeting women where they are and connecting them with where they want to be. It’s not rocket science and I’m obviously not the first person to do this. However, God keeps bringing women to me and I keep answer the question, “How can I do what you are doing?”

I’ve lived long enough to know that life is full of seasons. This is my season to share with women.

So, back to the dream. I figured out what it meant. Last week, I was sent a writing proposal. This morning, I sent a heartfelt apology and turned it down. Thankfully my publishing friend responded with grace and understanding and I learned a little bit more about myself.

Mostly this, when the words slide off the page, it’s time to turn to the next adventure.