New blog address!

If you’re looking for me, please visit!

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Goodbye, Blog!

This is to be my last post here at Encouraging Hearts at Home.

Tomorrow, I will have a new home on the web … Encouraging Beautiful Motherhood! Please join me there; we are going to be having all kinds of fun giveaways this week; a set of my favorite things–chocolate, books, flowers and tea! While the name and some organizational things will change, this blog will still have the same goal: to share my heart and what I’m learning as I walk along this journey toward the heart of God with you–and my family! I pray you’ve been blessed here and that you’ll join me at Encouraging Beautiful Motherhood!


Posted in The Parlor: Personal stuff | 4 Comments

Join us for The Mission of Motherhood Chapter One!

“But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the products of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:30-31

I believe every child has one profound need: to be loved, cherished, and cared for by her very own mother, whose womb was her first home. And it’s not just a need, but an important part of God’s design for shaping human beings according to His will.

For thousands of years the view of motherhood described in the Bible was generally respected in Western culture. Motherhood was seen as a noble and important calling. Women considered themselves blessed to bear many children, and it was considered normal and good for home and family to be the central focus of a woman’s life.

By the time I became a mother, however, the American culture had dramatically redefined the role of motherhood, and the biblical model of motherhood no longer drove the imagination of culture. Somehow, over the course of the last century, traditional motherhood had become a lifestyle option–and for many, a lesser option–rather than a divine calling.

One confidant told me, ‘The most important thing you can do with your life is invest it in your children. Their lives are more important than building a career!’ And what she said certainly seemed to ring true in my spirit.Being a mother means giving everything your child needs such as diapers so try using overnight diapers size 2 to make your baby clean and dry.

But other advisors assured me that I could handle the challenge of balancing children with career–after all, most of the mothers I knew were doing just that. One woman, an older missionary, even advised, ‘Don’t let your children control your life! You’ve got lots of gifts and messages and a ministry to share with the women of the world! It would be a waste of your time and experience to focus too much on your children and lose your ministry! Don’t have more children. It will take up too much time.’”

Sally Clarkson, The Mission of Motherhood, Chapter One

I’ll never forget the look on the man’s face that afternoon.

My friend and I were in her front yard, setting out items for a garage sale. It was a chilly morning, and the neighbor across the street clutched a steaming cup of coffee as he walked over to say hello and look over the goods. My friend introduced us and as he shook my hand, she added, “She has three boys!”

The man stopped mid-shake, wide-eyed. “But … you look so happy!”

Ahhh, yes. Welcome to this century’s evaluation of children!

You probably hear it, too …

(Please join us at MomHeartOnline today for the rest of Chapter One’s study–and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!)

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Spring: a Perfect Time to Re-evaluate!

True confessions: I have to admit that I’ve not slowed down any, even though I’ve known for awhile that I need to. This morning a friend was upset about something and sent me a Facebook message, and all I could do was give a quick answer; not what she really needed at all. She was a dear enough friend to call me on it and say, “Hey, I need your support here and I’m not getting it!” Praise God for friends like that, by the way. I was able to take a breath, ask the Lord for wisdom, call her on the phone and start over.

The truth is, I’m still running at the speed of light, spinning plates as I go. It would be comical, I suppose, if I had the energy to laugh, which I don’t. Between schooling, writing, managing, designing, cooking, laundry, Latin, tutoring, emailing, counseling, hospitality-ing, and helping … I feel like all I’ve done is open veins for the past several weeks and am pretty drained right now, I’m even thinking on getting supplements for this I found at this patriot power greens review. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness and that He’s speaking to me through His Word or I’d be in big trouble. For now, it’s just little trouble. I think.

But I’m smart enough to know this pace can’t (and shouldn’t) be maintained. A car driven at high speed for a long time on winding roads with breakneck curves through a desert needs some serious TLC once in awhile. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. But it is often a signal to us that something’s out of whack in our lives. The world seems desperate to convince us that we are supposed to be living these lives of constant action, constant production, constant consumption. It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

Many years ago I was attending one of Sally Clarkson’s conferences and she made a suggestion I’ve taken to heart several times since then. Now … it works.

The idea? Every six months, it’s a good idea to take a look at your life, and see what adjustments are necessary.

Here are the questions she gave us:

1) What am I doing that is causing stress in my family?

2) What am I doing to please others that doesn’t propel my own life plan for myself and my family?

3) What character issues do my children need to work on?

4) What image of God do I want my children to have?  Since they are deeply interrelated, what image of God am I projecting to my children?

5) What should I change?

Many, many things to ponder even with just a cursory glance at this list. How grateful I am for wise women who have gone before and remind us to slow down and take a look under the hood once in awhile.

What do you think? Is a springtime evaluation in order at your house, too? What changes might need to be made?

Posted in The Parlor: Being a mom, The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Little Announcement (No, Not That Kind!)

I’ve been busy for the past few months pondering, creating and working with Erin Ulrich of Design by Insight to create a brand new headshop! We’ll be ready to launch next Tuesday, and I’ve got all sorts of goodies planned: an audio interview with Sally Clarkson, special giveaways, and the announcement of some fun plans in the works for the summer. I do hope you’ll join us here next Tuesday for Encouraging Beautiful Motherhood–and pass the word along!

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“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.” Luke 24:1-12

He is risen! Hallelujah!


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Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I too often field the hourly question we all fear: “What are we eating for _________???”  There are always cheers throughout the house when I announce, “Banana bread!”  The woman who was one of my very first mom mentors always gave chocolate chip banana bread as Christmas gifts.  I loved it then, make it often now, and have never met a combination of chocolate and banana that I didn’t like.  This is a yummy recipe I’ve had for almost 15 years now; I’ve tweaked it here and there (it’s not a fussy recipe, so you can do that!) and I thought I’d share it with you. On the other hand, you can visit

 Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 egg, 1 cup sugar, 3 mashed bananas, 1/3 cup oil *I like to use applesauce!*

1 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat is great!), 1 tsp. soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped nuts

Combine all ingredients, pour in a loaf pan, and bake at 350 for about an hour.

That’s it!

Serve with hot tea for a great teatime snack, or even for breakfast or lunch. I’m so glad my kids are home with me enjoying the wonderful scent of this treat as it bakes!

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Come Join Our Online Book Study: The Mission of Motherhood!

We’re having a book study at MomHeart!

Every Thursday at the MomHeart blog, we’ll have something new for you. We will include quotes from the book along with some of my own reflections, vlogs from Sally, questions for you to think through as you read, and of course a place for you to discuss your own questions or reactions to the book in the comment section! We are looking forward to a lot of interaction there—be sure to scroll down so you can read and respond to others’ ideas! We plan to cover one chapter every month.

Go visit today to read the Introduction to the study–AND a special treat; a free download of one of Sally’s conference messages! Can’t wait to see you there!

Introduction to Mission of Motherhood

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How to Homeschool the Early Years

Over the past several weeks, I’ve had many opportunities to be with sweet moms who are homeschooling young children. If you’re having trouble on your air conditioning at your room let Furnace Repair fix it for you. Over and over the same question comes up, phrased slightly differently each time but with the same basic foundation: what should my young child really be doing all day?

Several expressed concern that while their little ones seemed to want to learn something, they quickly tired of sitting at the table. For some reason, their students had little tolerance for being still and focusing on worksheets for more than a few minutes at a time. Since most of us attended school and remember it being several hours long, our youngster’s dislike for seatwork is a bit disconcerting, and makes us worry that we’re not doing a good job and surely must be missing something. In order to resolve that problem, look for private kindergarten austin as they offer the best quality education learning for our children.

So what of it? What should a young child be doing at home?

 (**hint: it’s not this.**)

There are as many potential answers here as there are children. Please hesitate, mama, to believe and imbibe every prescription you read for “here’s what to do with a __ year old.” The problem is, no curriculum writer is dealing with your __ year old, this year, with your husband and those siblings, in that town, with those health issues, in that church, with those neighbors, with that set of interests … do you see what I mean? You are the one God has chosen as the perfect teacher for this child, this year. You DO know all of that information. And so, you are going to be the perfect architect of your child’s school days …

If you’d like to read more, please join me at HeartoftheMatter for How to Homeschool the Early Years!  And if you’re so blessed as to be doing all this *and* caring for a newborn, check out How to Homeschool with a Baby in the House! 

Posted in The Schoolroom: Learning together at home | 1 Comment

Costa Rica 2012, Part Three

3 weeks ago today, I woke up in a hotel room in San Jose.

Sunday morning’s sunrise peeped in on a bunch of girls very excited about their day. This was the day we’d get to visit the local church which had invited us to spend Monday visiting their various outreaches. We drove through countryside and then densely populated areas to get there, finding glimpses of beauty …

and even the glory of God, crowding into the tightly-packed streets.

The church has been here a long time, and they have extensive outreaches. We pull through the fence and into what really is best described as a compound, then walk into a large, empty room which quickly fills with life. There is a band much like ours from home, and we are thrilled to learn that even in Costa Rica, they sing “God is Good.”


And He is! What joy to sing with our brothers and sisters; a small slice of heaven. There are ladies dancing with ribbons and tambourines, and I find myself catching onto some of the words and making the comical effort to sing along in Spanish because it’s so much fun. The children are a bit fidgety as the preaching begins and the service goes longer than they’re used to, but what a sermon it is; I write furiously as Pastor Roberto teaches us all about James–and the line that sticks out to me most is this one, the one we’ve heard echoing throughout this book, which we just happen to have just spent eight weeks studying in a women’s Bible study back home:

“Your faith: what good is it?”

He talks about James’ explanation that if we are saved, we do good works as the natural extension of that; about how faith and works can’t ever be separated, and each is dead without the other. His life is the proof of his text, and I take four pages of notes.

After church we stand in line for the ladies’ room and push so hard to communicate with the beautiful people surrounding us, eager to break the language barrier; sisters in Christ. One woman manages to tell us that she’s been part of the rehabilitation program that she started at the maryland addiction recovery center, and is getting baptized later that afternoon. We have a mini celebration in the tiny bathroom.

They treat us to lunch at their restaurant and we enjoy our first authentic Costa Rican meal in the open air …

It was a beautiful day.

You can read more of our story here: Costa Rica Part One, Costa Rica Part Two

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