The Country Charmer

Fifteen years ago my husband and I were newlyweds in the Virginia mountains. I was 20 and he was 25. Our overly ambitious selves decided that we were going to buy a house. We looked and we found one dubbed, “The Country Charmer”. It was adorable! We instantly fell in love and found a wonderful realtor to take us out to look at the cottage. It had three bedrooms, no bathroom, and no running water. It did have an outhouse and a cistern so we figured we could make do until we had enough money to get a composting toilet and a well. We figured family wouldn’t argue about us coming over to take showers or wash clothes (if we actually thought that far ahead back then).

Almost two decades later, my husband and I still talk about how that was the house, not just a house. I still remember the nook where I was going to put my Queen Anne chairs and a little coffee table, the same place where our Christmas tree would be set up in December. I remember the dark green metal roof, the red concrete porch and steps, and the little windows upstairs that looked like eyes at night. We dearly loved that house, but never could come up with the money to buy it.

Now we are building that little house on our own lot. Ours will have a fully functioning bathroom and county water, but it will pretty much look the same. I’ll have my nook, my husband will have his deck, and the kids will get to look through those little windows in their rooms. The goal is to be moved in just in time to put up our Christmas tree in the nook and enjoy time with our family. I’m excited to update everyone as we progress.

Your Calling in Life

Today I want to focus on your calling and tell you about mine. If you are a follower of Christ I believe that He has given you a purpose. You may not know what it is, but it is there and it will be revealed to you in His time. I was saved in 1997 and I started praying for my calling then. I got married in 2004 and had our first child in 2007. For the last twelve years my children have been my calling, or so I thought. For twelve years I felt like God was preparing me for something different.

In April 2019 I went on the North Mississippi Walk to Emmaus (you can read about that at The Walk to Emmaus. While there my anxiety hit me head on and I realized as long as I let it control me God can not use me. I’m useless! Before the weekend was over God led me to speak twice and a woman who I consider very wise told me that speaking to others is my gift. I know my other gift is writing. I have passion for writing, I have for years. Public speaking not so much, but I promised God if He called me to do it then I would never say no.

When I got home I was immediately asked to speak in front of one hundred strangers. I did it, I survived, and I felt God was with me. I promised Him again that I would follow, but I knew no one would ever ask me to speak again. I actually laughed about it. The next day one of my best friends asked me to be director of Mississippi for The Silent Voices Project. It involves public speaking and lots of writing.

My point is, when God places a call on your life you don’t have to do anything, it will fall into your lap if He wills it. I knew my friend was starting a nonprofit, but I also knew I wasn’t qualified. She, and God, saw it differently. I may not have experience (well, I have some now because I’ve been working diligently since day one), but I have compassion for others. That and my love for God drives me to help trafficking and cold case victims.

While you wait for your calling, be faithful. Pray, read your Bible, and stay close to God. Prepare your heart that it may not be easy at first, but when you know that God has orchestrated this moment, you will have peace. I was terrified and paranoid at first, but now I want to tell everyone about what we’re doing. I have a passion and an excitement that I haven’t known before.

If you want to check out my other blog, here is my latest blog post, Why Epstein’s Death is Bigger Than You Thought.

Thank you for visiting today!

Why You Should Consider a Chromebook

I consider myself a gadget person, even though I typically use what most would consider “outdated tech”. I still use an HP desktop, a Dell e6400 laptop, and an iPhone 7. The newest “gadget” I have is my Kindle HD 8 that was released in 2018. I recently received an older Chromebook for work. It’s a Dell 3120 and it is phenomenal! I found them on Amazon for around $89 and it is definitely worth the money.

The best thing, for me, is the battery lasts about eight hours before I have to charge it. So I can work on it all day, even if I forget my charger. It may drain a little faster if I watch videos, but I don’t know since I’m usually just using Docs and Spreadsheet.

My second favorite is how fast this little laptop is. I have 4GB of RAM, but it’s faster than my e6400 with similar specs. I can click a document and it’s open before I can blink! Okay, maybe not that fast, but it’s not far off.

I hate trackpads. I always have. I can never scroll a page up or down and it just feels off to me. I plugged in my wireless mouse and it works flawlessly, but then I watched a Youtube video from Chrome Unboxed. I decided to try the trackpad and I love it! My mouse is now in my laptop bag while I’m using this device for the first time ever!

If you want to try Chrome OS for free it’s easy. You just have to have a USB thumbdrive. Instructions and software are available at Neverware. You can also watch a video about it from Chrome Unboxed. Their YouTube channel is great! It is very informative.

I honestly can’t say enough good things about my new Chromebook. It’s incredible! I would like to maybe upgrade to something with a touchscreen so that I never need my wireless mouse. Maybe a little sleeker for expos. However, for work, home, or school use this is absolutely perfect.

Lots of Updates!

So today I kinda just want to update y’all on what is going on in our super busy lives (why I haven’t posted). I am hoping that as I get into the new swing of things I will be able to post more, but I can’t promise. So I won’t do that.

So, update number one: We are NOT moving AT THIS TIME. Our lives are in this location so it would be super hard to start over right now. That may change in a year or so, but for now we are staying put. We will be remodeling our 1997 Buccaneer single wide so look for those updates here and on Pinterest.

Update number two: I have a new career. I am the brand new director for Missississippi of the Silent Voices Project. We investigate cold cases, help search for missing people, and educate the public on human trafficking. The website is here and I am working on a blog for my state. I have been praying for sixteen years for a ministry and this literally fell into my lap one day. Every talent God has given me has been put to good use and I am still floored that my friend asked me to do this. It’s incredible!

The very last update is that I am also selling Scentsy as a way of funding the Silent Voices Project. Gas to do expos and education, business supplies, and future goals all cost money. By future goals I am talking about a home for human trafficking survivors as well as supplies for survivors in the United States as well as in Nigeria.

So, that’s what I have been up to these last few weeks. I don’t plan on slowing down any, but when I have a few minutes I’m hoping to update this blog. Thank you for stopping by!

Our Trip to Pigeon Forge

I am not being compensated for my opinions or if you click on any of the links. We had a great time and I wanted to share our experiences with you. Enjoy!

Last week our family went to Pigeon Forge. Thanks to a homeschool discount we got an amazing rate at the DreamMore. I have been to Disney World many times, but this is my favorite resort anywhere! Everyone was friendly, our luggage showed up in our room right after we did, and we didn’t have to fight the stroller on to the bus. It was great! We also got free TimeSaver passes for everyone in our room!

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We spent four days in Dollywood. Before we went we figured two days would be enough to see and do everything. Pfft! We went four days and there are a lot of things we missed out on. We’re hoping to catch them when we go back. The shows were fantastic, we loved the rides, and the craftsmen and the people in the shops were awesome. We enjoyed talking to all of the employees. My husband became good friends with the gentleman serving meat at Miss Lillian’s Restaurant. Miss Lillian herself is so special. She came over while we were eating to offer her “chicken blessings”. The food was phenominal, too. We ate there twice! My daughter is very shy, but she had to hug Miss Lillian. That’s one of my favorite memories from our trip.

My four-year-old’s favorite ride was the new Dragonflier. She’s big for her age so be sure and check your child’s height before you get in line. Dollywood has a child measuring station beside the Emporium. We weren’t able to ride Wild Eagle or Lightnin’ Rod because they were closed for maintenance when we tried to ride them the last day. We loved Mystery Mine and Tennessee Tornado, though! I could have stayed on either one of those.

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We took an afternoon and visited Anakeesta (see above). Y’all, we thought it went up about 100 feet. No! It goes up 900 feet! We took a gondola up there instead of a chair, because I knew I couldn’t handle that even if it went up thirty feet. That’s a no. My twelve-year-old and I were almost in hysterics by the time we reached the top, which caused my husband to have anxiety. The employees were kind enough to let us ride the Ridge Rambler back down even though it doesn’t open to the public until this week. The ride down was so much better!

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After Anakeesta we went to the Island. If you go, grab a YeeHaw beer and eat at Paula Deens. I can’t say enough about this combination. The beer went down smooth, I could have drank it all night. Paula Deen’s is all you can eat served family style, except you only get one desert. That was my only complaint about the entire meal.

This was my favorite vacation by far. It is hard to entertain six people at once, but we didn’t have any trouble. We had a great time exploring during the day and hung out in the heated pool at night. We can’t wait to go back.

What Our Homeschool Looks Like

Let me start by saying that my homeschool is not perfect and I’m not telling you to copy me or that this is what it has to look. The beauty of homeschooling is individuality. God made us all different and He gave me my kids and He gave you yours for a reason. This is simply an example for those who are new or who are looking for ideas.

This is our calendar for the 2020 school year:

  • Aug 5th: First Day of School
  • Sep 2nd: Labor Day (No school)
  • Nov 28th: Thanksgiving (No school)
  • Nov 29th (No school)
  • Dec 16th: Daddy’s birthday (No School)
  • Dec 23rd – Jan 3rd: Christmas break (No school) Some people take all of December off and that’s fine, but I prefer to get finish the year earlier.
  • Apr 10th: Good Friday (No School)
  • Apr 13th: Easter Break (Yes, one day)
  • Apr 21st: Mommy’s birthday (No School)
  • Apr 28th: Last Day of School!

I prefer fewer breaks so that we can get done sooner. They still do some school stuff during the summer, but it’s not required. Also, if anything happens we have plenty of room to extend the year if we have to.

We used to do all of our work at the dining room table, but this year I want to keep the kids outdoors more, especially since our daughter is still technically Year 0. We have a beautiful old tree in our front yard that provides plenty of shade.

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Since we primarily use Charlotte Mason’s methods, our daughter won’t officially start school until she’s six. We’ll begin “officially” teaching her next August and this year will be spent letting her play in a workbook geared towards four-year-olds. It’s not Charlotte Mason, but she really wants to get started and I don’t want to hold her back. We’re going to have lots of fun, though, so that she doesn’t regret begging.

Our youngest is two so we listen to worship music and I read my Bible aloud in the mornings so he knows what Mommy is doing. I love hearing him and his sister walking around singing songs that they’ve learned at home and at church. My oldest gets up later so he misses this, but he gets to hear the little ones the rest of the day.

If you are interested in Charlotte Mason, check out Ambleside Online. There are schedules, book lists, etc there to get you started. It’s free, you just have to buy the books. Many are free for Kindle which I like because our house is small and can’t hold the private library I would create with all of our books.

 

Back to (Home)School

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In about a month all of the local kids will be heading back to school. For my kids that means back to the kitchen table. Yes, we homeschool. This will be our first year with two kids doing schoolwork together since our oldest is twelve and our youngest is going to be five in October. I could wait another year with her, but she’s been wanting to start school for a year already (she definitely was not ready at three!).

We started homeschooling when our oldest was five because we strongly felt that was what God wanted. We don’t feel that calling has changed. If anything it is stronger now.

If you are interested in homeschooling I recommend reading as many books, blogs, articles, etc. as you can. That’s how I discovered Unschooling and Charlotte Mason. We use Charlotte Mason’s lessons a lot because we feel that it’s a great balance of reading, practical lessons where applicable, and outdoor time. It also focuses on the Bible heavily, which is the important part for us. Also, even if you don’t join Homeschool Legal Defense (HSLDA), bookmark it so you can easily look up your state’s homeschool laws. In Alabama, we are required to join a cover school and report to them.

Our daughter isn’t old enough to start Charlotte Mason’s lessons so we bought a workbook for preschoolers. I’ll work with her while my oldest completes his own lessons. He’s twelve so he doesn’t require much supervision or assistance anymore.

I keep our homeschool organized on my iPhone using the Calendar and Numbers. I use the Calendar for important dates (re-enroll in cover school, our start date, end date, breaks, etc). I use Numbers for lesson planning, attendance, and grades. It’s great because I can access everything on my phone or on my PC.

This year we’re going to start on August 4th at Dollywood. What? How do you start teaching at Dollywood? It’s easy! Dollywood has museums, shows, and other learning opportunities. For instance, our oldest can find out how fast each rollercoaster is and from there determine which one is the fastest. The museums also require some reading so he can work on that while we’re there. We’re planning to visit Smoky Mountain National Park, too, so the kids can observe nature. All of us are super excited!

We Have to Be Foolish

We Have to Be Foolish

You may be wondering what I’m going to talk about today. Well, I was reading my Bible this morning and when I came to 1 Chronicles 15:29, I remembered a praise and worship song I dearly loved when I was a teenager. It says, “And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating and she despised him in her heart.” The song is called “Undignified (I Will Sing)” and it’s performed by many different Christian artists, but I love Matt Redman’s rendition. This is it with lyrics.

When we read God’s Word and obey it, we appear foolish to the world. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Verse 27 goes on to say, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;”.

If we truly want to be Christ-like then we must be willing to be to look foolish to nonChristians. They thought Jesus was crazy! Why should they think different of us if our goal is to be like Him? Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I encourage you to study the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to see how we are supposed to be. We are to love others, even those who hate us. We are to worship Him with our brothers and sisters, without fear of what others will think of us. We are called to fellowship together (attend church), but we are to worship Him without ceasing. My favorite place is when I’m in the car or my home with my three children. I want to raise them to be foolish to the world, too.

How to Set Goals (And Accomplish Them)

How to Set Goals

Setting goals is super easy, but keeping them can be challenging. I know this from personal experience! So, today I thought I would talk about how to make it easy to actually accomplish your goals.

First, you need to name your goal, be specific, and make it measurable. For instance, if you just say you want to read your Bible more, exercise more, etc. you’re probably not going to stick with it. Not because it’s not a good goal, but because you can’t track it. A few examples of measurable goals are:

  • I will read my Bible every morning
  • I will exercise five minutes a day/3x a week
  • I will save $20/week for 52 weeks (That’s $1,040 not including interest in case you were wondering)

Create a graph on paper or on your phone/tablet/computer so that you can see if you are making progress. Keep it somewhere that you will actually look at it. By the way, I don’t believe the Bible should be a checklist item, but it’s better than not reading the Bible. If that’s a goal of yours then check out How to Read the Bible (it will open in a new window).

My exercise goal is a little different. Since we will be living in town soon, my plan is to ride my bike for quick trips to the store instead of driving (unless it’s raining). This will save me some gas money and I will hopefully lose a few pounds. I’ll let you know once I’ve been at it for a few months.

What are some of your goals and how are you keeping track? You can let me know in comments or on our Facebook page!