Day 24: Because You Know What They Say

Hello there! Glad you stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m in the third quarter! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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For a couple of years before the fall of 2013 — maybe even three or four years, mind you — one particular thought was swimming in the back of my mind. The Hubs and I had had lots of discussions about it, and as daunting as it seemed, the still small voice of the Lord seemed to consistently whisper that homeschooling was the path He wanted us to take.

But as the fall of 2013 approached, and as we neared the Bear’s 5th birthday, I was grabbing at straws for alternatives to homeschool. We pondered putting him in the local Christian academy and were almost certain that was what we were going to do. At another stage, we planning on enrolling him in public school, and it really seemed like that was going to happen when September rolled around.

Then, a chance conversation with an old friend stirred that whisper in me again, and I realized I’d be running. She talked about homeschooling her eldest, what it looked like for her family, and how great it had been so far. More important, she talked about the reasons she’d decided to homeschool, and they resonated so deeply in me — they were words that had even come out of my own mouth at other stages, when I’d felt confident we were going to homeschool and wasn’t yet vacillating.

Finally, with just a couple of months left before traditional school started, I dove in. I couldn’t shake the deep sense that this was the Lord. I spoke with more friends, asked for advice, ordered curriculum, and kicked things off gradually in September.

Almost two months into my career as a homeschooler, I am so, so grateful we made this decision. It is a privilege to get to teach this clever little guy who happens to also be mine. His reading ability (which was already very good) has improved so significantly just in this month and a half that I get that warm fuzzy proud Mama feeling just thinking about it.

I’ve discovered that he really, really loves science and am beginning to make science a doorway into connecting with him in other subjects. We do experiments and nature journal. We play games to help him understand math concepts. He writes letters in rice or shaving cream while I sound out the associate phonogram during spelling time.

If he needs extra rest, he can have it. He doesn’t have to wake up early to get dressed and fed and out the door for school each morning. And the Bear hibernates, y’all. He falls asleep shortly after his 7 o’clock bedtime and sometimes still sleeps past 7 o’clock the next morning.

He gets to play outside between subjects, bake in the kitchen to talk about fractions… and so much of our work is hands on.


It is exciting to see him flourishing.

Now I’m about to get really honest with you — because homeschooling is not what this blog post is about, and I’m putting my money where my proverbial mouth is.

I think one of the biggest reasons I didn’t want to homeschool — and almost didn’t — was because I cared about what other people thought. There were people close to me whose opinions I valued that didn’t agree with the idea. There were also people I am not very close to whose opinions I didn’t even know but assumed were probably negative, and that bothered me. The practical strangers and acquaintances in our small town who might think we are totally weird for choosing to homeschool our kid when it’s not very common around here? Those were the voices that I almost let make my decision for me.

How sad is that?

I almost completely missed the opportunity to enjoy something very special with my kid for however long the Lord leads us to do it this way, simply because I was afraid of what other people thought.

More important, I almost disobeyed what I truly believe the Lord was calling me to do because I cared about what other people thought.

This morning I spent some time thinking about the things that we humans do, specifically based on our concern of what other people think about us.

We do it to ourselves, and it starts young. How many young people actually want to walk the line and behave well, but cave to peer pressure because they feel the need to fit in?

But it doesn’t end once we finish high school or college and enter the ‘real world’. That’s really when things start warming up. Because keeping up appearances becomes so important to us that we will buy a house we can’t afford and drive a car we can’t pay for with money we don’t have — as it’s been said before — to impress people we don’t like.

We care so much about other people’s opinions, we are willing to jeopardize our financial stability, our marriages, our parenting, all for the sake of not wanting to seem weird.

Dave Ramsey has a great course for helping people take control of their finances. In the Total Money Makeover, he speaks to this trend and says “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like” and instead encourages people to change their spending habits, work aggressively to get out of debt and get in control. He says,

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

It is very, very hard to make it in this world if your constant concern for your every decision is what other people’s perceptions of that decision will be. And with the way we live our lives and post our photos and share our every thought on social media, we are perhaps becoming more and more concerned with our public appearance.


Care to march to the beat of your own drummer?
{Image via Piccsy}

But there is an alternative to this madness. And He has a name.

What would you think if I told you there’s only one opinion that really matters? Would you maybe agree, but not change the way that you’re living with other people’s opinions at heart? What if, in light of eternity, we each decided that only one opinion really does matter — and we need to start living that way? How amazing might the people of God begin to look to the world?

Here’s the thing. There is really only one opinion that really matters. You and I have the privilege of being invited into a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. He is gloriously good. {See previous 23 posts for further evidence…} And He will love you regardless of what clothes you wear, what you have in your bank account or what kind of car you drive.

And He has plans for you that might not take you down a path that looks like a big bank account and fancy cars. But. If you are willing to let Him take you down the path He has for you, I can promise you it will be an adventure and you’ll look back on it with thankfulness.

Before Jesus arrived on the scene it was said that He would:

… give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” {Luke 1:77-79, emphasis added}

The decisions you make each day are yours to make, friends. The challenge is not to let the world make them for you. You were made, you were created, for so much more than just being a shadow of who you think the world wants you to be. If you will live the life you were created to live, if you allow the Lord to guide your feet each day — wow, there is such a beautiful path planned out for you. A path of peace, a light to shine.


Day 23: Simple Trust

Day 23: Simple Trust

Hello there! Glad you stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m in the third quarter! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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Looking back on the years that I’ve taken following Jesus seriously, I wish somewhere back at the beginning, I’d started a special journal devoted solely to recording the many, many moments where I’ve sensed the nearness of God as He has provided something I waited for and taught me to trust Him in the process.

I mentioned before that we moved a few months ago. And we moved into a house that didn’t have a dishwasher, or even a space appropriate for putting a dishwasher. The space on either side of the kitchen sink was too narrow, there was no water hookup anywhere near one free spot in the kitchen, the ‘peninsula’ (as in, not an island… that makes sense right?) where my stove and lots of cupboards live, faces the sink and might seem an obvious choice, but with limited cupboard space, it just seems wrong to knock out two cupboards to put it there.

We ummed and ahhhhed for ages about the right spot for a dishwasher. In the meantime, my Mom has blessed me beyond belief by washing dishes almost every time she is here, the Hubs has helped lots and often, and I have drawn nearer to the Lord while thanking Him that I have a window to look out while I wash dishes by hand.

{I know not having a dishwasher is a first world problem and try to keep that in perspective.}

We’d finally selected a dishwasher that seemed like the right one at the right price, and figured out where it would probably go. On the website, Lowes said they had it in stock, so off we went to purchase our dishwasher — an exciting event. We got there, and quickly discovered the website was wrong. The dishwasher was not in stock.

We stood long, the baby astride my hip, and looked at the other dishwashers, but weren’t really ready to make a decision about a different one (the Hubs is very good about reading reviews and making good shopping choices). So we left empty-handed, and gosh, that sure what a bummer!

It was time to trust the Lord was at work when we had to go back to the drawing board.


A few days later, my Mom was on the phone with a funny bit of news: a friend of hers wanted to know if we wanted her dishwasher. It worked perfectly fine, but she wanted a new one to match the other appliances in her kitchen.

Om… yes!

Not having to actually buy the dishwasher made having to pay a plumber to run a line under the house so we could install it in a new spot and a carpenter to build the cabinet around the dishwasher (really… this seems to be the only way) a much more manageable project.

We sensed the Lord’s kindness in the delay… He showed us how trustworthy He is.

Do you ever simply ask the Lord for something? I don’t always remember to ask, but I know I’d spoken to Him about that dishwasher more than a few times. When something seems missing or you’re looking at a bill you’re not sure how you’re going to pay, is your natural inclination to lean on your own self-sufficiency or to trust?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. {Prov. 3:5-6}

Trusting often requires a patience that is not in line with our modern way of thinking. We are members of Amazon Prime and enjoy the benefit of free two-day shipping on almost anything we order. While I used to wait weeks, even months for a package to make its way from the USA to South Africa, now with a point and click on Monday, I can count on seeing UPS roll up around lunchtime Wednesday.

When we order something somewhere else and have to wait more than three or four days, we now think Gosh, this sure is taking forever!! When will it BE here!!

The Lord, however, is not a dressed-in-brown-delivery-guy ready to answer your every whim and request. He absolutely does give good gifts to His children and it is good to turn to Him and to ask.

There are three answers my kids often get when they ask for something: Yes, No or Not Now, and I imagine it is the same for us. God has our best interests at heart when He says each of those three things.

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to ask (and sometimes to keep on asking) to trust (and keep on trusting) and to wait to see the Lord make His will a present reality. He is so trustworthy.

Have you seized an opportunity to trust and wait on God? I’d love to hear what happened in the comments!


Day 22: Using Your Voice

Hello there! Glad you stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m in the third quarter! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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You know what isn’t particularly fun? Trying to manage a household of small people without a voice. I have scarcely thanked the Lord for my voice, but man, what a challenge it is when I don’t have it!

Yesterday I woke up with my throat feeling much better {yay!}, but without a voice {harumph!}. I could scratch out raspy whispers when necessary, did a bit of signing and motioning to communicate sometimes, and occasionally somehow pushed through a deep and bellowy holler when the situation really, really, really called for it. But that kind of hurt so I tried to keep that to a minimum.

HH works from home on Mondays, so fortunately he was able to communicate in a lot of the areas where I wasn’t. He also read the literature book for homeschool story time for me — big help! Hoping I’ll find somebody reading it on youtube today…

You know how there are those days where you just kind of feel ‘in a funk’? Yesterday was one of those days. I don’t think it had too much to do with me not having a voice, although that didn’t help. It felt like there were lots of things on the to-do list and the little people around were making it difficult, and as much as we love each other, sometimes my precious Hubs and I struggle to communicate in a way that really puts us on the same page.

Even though I made chicken salad and artisan bread for lunch (special!), we crossed some things off the list that had been waiting months for us to cross them off, we captured ELEVEN months photos of the Belle, and did so many other things, the day just wasn’t happy… it was missing joy.

And here’s the funny conclusion I’ve come to, retrospectively:

Even when you don’t have a voice, you still have a voice.

What was really missing yesterday, for me, was just taking those small, continual moments — those slivers of negative space — to remember that God is present, willing to lead and guide and just breathe life and peace into every situation.

If I will use that little voice in my heart to direct my soul’s attention toward Him, He can bring such a refreshing, such a peace, so much presence.

Today is always a new day, and it is always a day that happens on purpose.

Regardless of what hurts or frustrations come your way, completely regardless of your circumstances, there is still the potential for you to experience joy today. I often find it in the place where I turn my heart to the Lord and use that inner voice to just start thanking Him for whatever comes to mind.

A little bubble from the dish suds catches flight and soars around my kitchen before disappearing. The silly, noisy goose down at the pond near our house, honking furiously because the ducks are flying off and he isn’t sure how to follow. A glimpse of the Jeannie B out my window — a big and beautiful ship — taking passengers for a sail on the river.

And the awesome Hubs who does so much for our family, for me, who is such a great father to our kids, the Hubs I’m so glad found me. And the three small people, although they are a little tough now and then, we often wonder together what our lives would be like without them. They are gifts of joy in tiny packages.

Look high, look low — you can always find a reason to give thanks.

David once asked the Lord:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
  Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
  if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
  if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
  your right hand will hold me fast. {Psalm 139: 7-10}

False Bay Sunset

As a child I think the idea that the Lord was always watching, always present kind of freaked me out. Like, He sees me when I take my sister’s hairbrush? But now, I see that His choice to be omnipresent is a gloriously good unexpected gift.

There is no kitchen sink I’ve stood long at where He hasn’t stood beside me.

There’s no late-night baby-rocking session He isn’t present for.

There is no hospital room He’s never visited. Thank you, thank you, Lord.

Whether you sense His presence or not, He is here. Remember that, even if you’re in a meeting at work and can’t really pray aloud (might be awkward), or you’re on the train somewhere (also awkward) or you’re in front of a classroom of kids, or you’ve just plain lost your voice altogether, you still have that inner voice to do with what you want.

You are still able to take a snippet of a moment for your soul to say It is well, Lord, no matter what it is well, or thank you for Your presence or Lord, I need You.

He commands the universe with His voice, but He is closer than a phone call to yours.

Don’t forget your voice today, friends.


Day 20: Faith is a Team Sport

Day 20: Faith is a Team Sport

Hello there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now over halfway through! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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This week I had the privilege of serving friends in need. God put opportunities in my lap to choose to give from my wallet, give from my stuff, and give from my time. This week I’ve had the privilege of being on the receiving end as well. Amazing homemade treats are sitting in my fridge. A very thoughtful belated birthday gift is in my closet. New pajama pants (for me) and an adorable Christmas outfit for the Belle were personally delivered (thanks, Mom!)

Yesterday, it just so happened that a friend of mine called because she was on the way to a special pharmacy and wanted to know if I needed anything. I was at home with a kid with a nasty cough and absolutely did need something. With the Hubs away at a wedding, it had been a long and slightly lonely day (but writing these thoughts yesterday really inspired me to think about what voices I was listening to — and my attitude definitely improved as a result!) so hearing from her was extra-special.

When my friend showed up in the evening to drop things off with a quick hello, I just felt so fortunate to have such good friends. And as I think about it this morning, she would’ve gone at least a half hour out of her way to drop by my house before going home last night. My heart was warm as I pondered the gift that friendship is.

It felt like at the end of a week where I wanted to give more and more, God reminded me that I’ll never out-give Him.


This morning, I just want to ask a couple of questions and give you a few simple thoughts.

First, are you investing in relationships with the people around you? Are you experiencing the gift of giving, demonstrating a trust that God will provide for your every need and you do not need to become a hoarder? (Remember, hoarding loads of cash when you know others are in need is still hoarding.)

This week, the literature story that we read each day in homeschool was a wonderful book called The Rag Coat. At the beginning of the story, a young girl’s father tells her People only need people, don’t you forget that. And the young girl’s experiences in the months that follow demonstrate the wisdom and truth in her father’s statement.

While I might like to add that people also need Jesus, it is important to recognize that in God’s glorious goodness, oftentimes the gifts you are asking Him for come from the hand of your next-door neighbor or a family member or even a complete stranger.

We are wise to give thanks to them and to Him for whatever we receive. And, we are wise to listen for His voice and follow His leading when it’s time for us to give. It might just be a phone call or some of your time that He’ll ask you to give. Maybe a word of encouragement or an act of kindness that will speak volumes.

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. {Hebrews 3:13}

God clearly ordained Christianity to be a Team Sport. How would we have heard the Gospel without someone telling us? And throughout our lives, we will stand together with the different people God puts on our path to do His will and to walk out the call of following Jesus.

Give when it hurts, friends. Love without concern for the opinions of the people around you. Welcome new people into your life even when it’s inconvenient. People absolutely need people. In His glorious goodness, God knew we’d need each other. And we do.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. {Eccl. 4:9-12}


Day 19: The Voice(s)

Hello there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now halfway through! Woop woop!  I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

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This morning I woke up to the sound of some unpleasant voices. None of them were speaking out loud — it was all an unpleasant cacophony swirling around inside my brain.

You see, yesterday, perhaps sometime mid-morning, this cheeky little itch of a sore throat started and I immediately began preparing for the worst, thinking I’ll be practically knocked out with this unpleasant sickness for a week or two, with only enough energy to barely make it through each day, getting the minimal amount of work done around the house.

By last night the cheeky little itch was a full-blown OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW sore throat with a runny nose quickly joining the party. The Tank began coughing suddenly, and fervently, and the Hubs had a full-blown OWWWWW sore throat, too. {The Bear never seems to struggle with the colds the rest of the family gets!}

It was an okay night at the Collie house, with a couple of sleep interruptions but nothing major, but when I woke up this morning, feeling poorly and knowing the Hubs would be away shooting a wedding today, the voices set in, ready to begin whispering discouragement to my every attempt at even getting out of bed.

Here goes another rough day. Hope you can get through it.

Mark’s not going to be here and I have a sick kid to deal with.

You’re trying to do more than you’re capable of. You’re going to have to back off of something.

I wonder how long this sickness will last this time?

Needless to say, I didn’t really want to get out of bed.

Yesterday, I mentioned the fact that the sheep know their shepherd’s voice, and we, the sheep of the Good Shepherd, will know His voice by spending time in His presence.


And all of those sentences listed up there? They don’t sound anything like His voice. Some of them have surely come from my own soul in its discouraged state, and others are straight from the pit, where the enemy of my soul (and yours) prowls about like a roaring lion, hoping to devour the destiny God has planned for you.

What does the Voice of the Lord say instead?

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. {Isaiah 43:2}

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. {John 16:33}

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. {Hebrews 12:1-3}

What does all this mean?

First, the Shepherd doesn’t promise the absence of adversity. Bumps on the track are likely. But the Shepherd does promise His presence in the midst of adversity. Second, we don’t have a God who hasn’t walked through adversity. Considering the example of Jesus, and what he endured, let’s take heart when we’re met with opposition and discouragement. He has already made it through — He can coach us to make it, too!

Hope has a name — and that name isn’t our president’s, it’s our King’s.

No matter what the other voices are whispering, what the circumstances in the world around you make you want to believe, we will overcome if we learn to listen to the Voice, as He can enable us to walk through anything for our good and His glory.

Whatever it is that’s in your heart, that you deeply sense you were created to do, it’s going to be met with opposition and there are going to be days of discouragement. You and I CANNOT allow the voices of discouragement to turn into the excuses that determine the course of our life — and run it off the course that God marked out for us.

When discouragement starts whispering, friends, run as fast as you can into His presence, soaking up the Truth that He says about who you are — and most important, who He is and ever shall be. Let discouragement become an unexpected gift that pushes you to focus even more on finding the Presence and hearing the Voice of your Savior.

Whether it’s a catastrophe or a head cold — He is with you, and He is gloriously good.