Fall Into Tradition

I looked across the straw-filled wagon at my husband, our daughter, and two sons, and in that moment I knew: we had fallen into a new tradition. With my daughter to the right of me and the boys to the left, it was clear that this humid second day of fall was proving to be the first of an annual tradition to the Harvest Hollar Corn Maze. Funny how a simple click on a Groupon for a corn maze can turn into a magical family experience.









We arrived much later than we intended and soaked up every bit of child-hood nostalgia possible in the fleeting light of sunset. I thought Laura, Mary, and baby Carrie would come strolling out to feed the cows and horses with us any minute. I thought we would surely see Almanzo eating homemade pumpkin pie and cobbler with the appetite of a grown farmer in the general store. Indeed, I think I caught a glimpse of Caddie Woodlawn running through the field chasing after her Pa, hair wild and eyes sparkling as we listened to music of days past. In reality, it was the perfect family setting to match the wonderful childhood literature that my children are surrounded with. It was the fruit of much toil and a dream of a farmer and his wife.

When one reaps, a harvest of righteousness will come if he does not give up. In this case, as in so many others, we enjoy the harvest of a sowing we took no part in. Little by little the crowds have grown to thousands that come to this farm each year with their family to make memories that will outlast the brief hours of their visits. Glory be to God for His unfailing wisdom and grace upon grace that we can all share a table when the work is done. That in each part of the Body accomplishing the work God gives them to do, bearing their load with the Lord, and seeking to assist one another, we can meet at the table and feast on the fruit.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Dear reader, your work may be invisible to most, but important to many. To impact the millions after Him, Christ discipled the twelve before Him. What is set before you this day? Faithfully sow and then perhaps we will all reap as you do not give up.

We have fallen into tradition this season. A new way to mark the years and seasons as a family. Tell me about the traditions in your home. Do share–you never know, maybe we will fall for your tradition too.


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We Fall Once More

Fall Once More

Yesterday marked the first day of fall. We had a humble, but much anticipated, celebration in our home all day which we lovingly termed our Fallibration. Nothing fancy, just simple fun. A fall sign made from repurposed brown packaging paper from an Amazon order, dollar store cups, plates, and a table cloth, and plenty of baking and books for all.




Each year the turn of seasons is a good place to pause, praise, and perceive what the Savior is teaching us in our current season. Also, to identify what type of season we are in. It is easy for us, particularly women I believe, to assess our entire season of life on the last week alone. I know I do. My husband can ask me how I, we, our family is doing, and I will base my answer on the afternoon and not the week or season in its entirety.

We are back in the throws of toddlerhood and homeschooling as September is turning a brilliant red and bursting into October. I have failed in grace and fallen so many times in need of grace. Can you relate? In fact, this week, while apologizing to my oldest son, my daughter quipped with a knowing grin, We have to forgive you everyday mommy. It’s true, we fall once more and need to be forgiven daily. Maybe not by our children–as my daughter was partially teasing, or maybe we so– but certainly by our Heavenly Father. The maker and sustainer of our physical seasons and our life’s seasons knows our weaknesses and limitations. He remembers out of the dust we were formed. We fall once more and then turn and fall into the forgiving grace-filled arms of the Savior.

We repent and seek change in ourselves, our reactions, and reconciliation with God and man daily. God knows we will fall under self-sustained burdens. That is why we need to be in fellowship and friendship, with Him, with a local Body of Believers, and with the Church Universal. He assures us in His word:

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.… (Matthew 11:28-29)

As we fall once more, may we keep these and similar verses in mind so that we may fall forward in grace and sanctification; sustaining ourselves with God’s Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the fellowship of believers.




Beginning Again

Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet? ~Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Fresh starts. What a positive turn of phrase. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s protagonist,  Anne Shirley, Anne with an e, states the above quote which makes each day sound so romantic and full of possibilities. Contrast this with the phrase beginning again, that sounds more determined with an end-goal in mind.

I believe that most of life is full of moments which necessitate beginning again and less of fresh starts.

Consider Mark 4:1, in which Mark documents the setting of Jesus’ teaching: And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. (Emphasis mine.)

I read this verse one morning in July and it stirred both comfort and an impression to pause and consider. I had quickly gathered belongings to take our children to the beach and thought how much effort it takes to get us to the surf and sun. Once we arrived, this verse was brought to mind again as I watched our oldest son playing in the sand. Today’s efforts may seem to disappear with the setting of the sun, but it is the continuous working over time that brings growth which outlasts the sunsets of today.


Beginning again: parenting.

Over the past fourteen months, we have actively pursued adding to our family in the manner of adoption. We are less than a month away from the culmination of faithful prayers and petitions on the part of numerous friends and family… in short, the efforts of the Body of Christ. One fall day in early October, our son will be legally deemed our son, and the work of adopting will be sealed.

During the last eight months, I’ve written far less than usual and certainly below my personal desire. My days have been full emotionally, physically, and dare I say, spiritually. The task of beginning again each day has been most of what I could handle. In honesty, I have wondered if it were time to hang up my writing hat until another life season. What is the purpose of blogging? Aren’t there enough bloggers and books out there? Is this creative outlet for me purposeful, or is it a frivolous use of a precious commodity that always seems in short supply? Additionally, it has been a season of reading, studying, and learning from others. I have weighed writing versus reading many days.

Beginning again: daily work.

Everyday I must begin again. In our home, we have chosen home education for our children. This means that my personal and professional calling are synonymous. I am a mother and an educator. Both teacher and disciple-maker. This has proven to be a passion of mine and a daunting task as I, we,–my husband and I– bear the responsibility of preparing our children for the rest of their lives in every aspect. Beginning again everyday in this area takes energy, courage, and determination. It also takes will. The will not to compare my methods, my children, or the opportunities that we provide them to other homeschoolers, family members, or the world in general. Our education endeavor is on the forefront of my mind always. I weigh the options of running to the beach, out to the park, or reading one more book with my kids, to writing and slipping away to pound the keyboard with my thoughts.

Beginning again: daily tasks.

Everyday you and I must begin again with daily tasks. It is essential that we perform the mundane tasks of life in order to live. Food, dishes, laundry, cleaning, studying, working. This is our everyday lives. These are the things we are to purposefully bring to the Father and offer as a sacrifice to Him. Consider Romans 12:1: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Each day we must begin again to keep our living areas, desks at work, and our daily schedules in order. In the words of Mother Teresa, we are to do small things with great love. These are our everyday acts of worship to the Lord. To praise him in the daily and seek him as we begin the tasks of each new day. Oh how I need to remember and practice this! The joy that would invade my life if I approached tasks in this way.

Beginning again: unexpected change.

So there you have it. We know this in our hearts and minds that each day we begin again; however, we think about beginning again perhaps as often as we think to breathe. That is, we think of beginning again each day with such nonchalance until beginning again becomes more difficult than usual. Some beginnings may not be such a welcome and expected turn of events that cause each new day’s beginnings to be challenging. It may be a move, an unexpected health issue, a death in the family, or a career change. In any case, God’s word models constancy for us. Following in His footsteps, we can begin again with eternity in mind. We are able to pause and picture Jesus, with His complete knowledge of what the future would bring, with His mission on the forefront of His mind, stepping into a boat once more to teach the multitudes that were drawn to hear Him. He knew the harvest was ripe, He knew His time on earth was short, and He began again…

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Here’s to beginning again every day,



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If I Could Give You One Gift It Would Be a Library Card

One of the great things about being a parent is that you get to catch up on all the books you missed in your own childhood!

~Gladys Hunt, Honey for a Child’s Heart.

library fun

Next month I am throwing a favorite things party for our homeschool community. At this party, each woman is to bring one of her favorite things to share with five other women. My husband wittingly quipped, Are you giving five library cards? What a fabulous idea! If I could give each person a library card I would–but, alas, an address and phone number is necessary for each account!

This summer we have participated in the Give Your Child the World Reading Challenge with Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival Podcast. In the challenge, we read wonderful literature based on different countries and regions around the world every week for eight weeks. Each book we selected came from Jamie’s beautiful new book baby, Give Your Child the World. A thorough list of books for students of all ages broken down by world-region.

My favorite time of day with each of our three children, and as a family, is the multiple times we sit and read aloud together. There is something about the shared story, vocabulary, and experiences that the pages of good books provide.

It is not necessary to have monetary means to travel the globe or walk in another man’s shoes. All we really need is a library card and a good list to guide us. This summer I spent my many hours reading several books about books. It may be a bit of an overkill that I take four books to my local library each week, several times a week, to guide my family’s reading selection. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I want to share a list of books to help guide your family’s reading choices and direct your heart and mind to ponder the importance of reading together as a family to shape the character of your children and generations to come.  These books are rich and make wonderful additions to any home library.

Based on my review of each of the book lists, I would suggest starting with Honey for a Child’s Heart and Give Your Child the World. They help shape our parent hearts and present the information in an easy-to-read format. Utilizing these booklist books, we have chosen several new family favorites this summer; including these three:

What are your favorite books that you have read together as a family this summer? Where do you turn to help make your book selections? I would love to hear your ideas!

May the books be plenty and the hours spent together engrossed in a wonderful story be multiplied,


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Training Our Children for Spiritual Warfare


My nephew turned six in June, and for his birthday he requested to fly to Florida to see his cousins. Accompanied by my sister and mother, he flew to Tampa to celebrate with our family. That beautiful Monday morning with the palm trees towering just under the sunshine, we loaded up the car and drove to LEGOLAND in Kissimmee, Florida to celebrate. While my sister and I waited with three of our kids for the Flight Lessons roller coaster, I did what all parents do at some point: I worried about the safety of the ride. The what if’s seemed to flutter in my mind.

As we climbed aboard the flight coaster, our feet dangling beneath our seats, I asked the worker, this doesn’t go upside down right? He assured me that this roller coaster didn’t. All the same, as the coaster began, I reached over and grabbed my son’s arm and held on tight. Let go mama! he politely squealed with excitement. No! I am holding on, buddy. As he wriggled his arm away for the second time with the biggest grin on his face, I acquiesced…but then later grabbed on again. In the event that something did malfunction, I am quite certain my arm would most likely have been a futile safety net. But it did wonders for my conscience.

Isn’t your child’s first (or maybe 200th) time on a roller coaster a bit of a foreshadowing of the rush of feelings we as parents have when our children approach adolescence and then soon after head out the door to college? We work to ensure that every precaution is taken, instructions given and followed, or restated, reinforced, and tried again. Then we send them out the door with friends, off in the car for the first time alone, or out the door to make their own way in life most hopefully in the will and admonition of the Lord Jesus. We watch with baited breath as they are given more liberty and freedom, subsequently tempted, and then wait to see how they will respond. Will they stay the narrow course? Will they detour? Will they fall?

To continue reading and for Five Ways to Equip Your Children for Spiritual Warfare, head over to iBelieve.


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A Brief Note to Parents on the State of Humanity

A Somber 4th of July

Today we deeply mourn the loss of life and the latest evidences to the degradation of humanity within our culture. These days we can wear our grief like a cloak never fully making it to the wardrobe.

We have turned on one another; which frankly isn’t new in human history. However, this turning against our brother at this scale and with this fervency is new in the course of recent history within our own particular sphere of the globe.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream that little black boys and little black girls would hold the hands of little white boys and little white girls as brothers and sisters. I would argue that his dream has been realized. I am sure of it. I witnessed this dream in action only this morning.

Loading up the kids, we headed to the local zoo. Inside the zoo were a slew of children at the splash park area. Brown, white, yellow, and black children all splashing together in the same water. Oblivious to the hateful murders of the night, they played together in one accord. The children were busy laughing in the warm Florida sun, sharing space and time in the chlorinated waters of the zoo playground where a mere 60 years ago this would have been unlawful for those not white skinned.

The color of a man’s skin need not have been an issue in our past, and it most certainly should not be one any more. Yet, we can’t get away from it all together in the grown-up world. Lord Jesus save us from ourselves.

I do not briefly address the audience on this blog today with any semblance of answers that are easy, quick, or flippant. Nor do so with any intent to sweep away the violence and loss of life occurring as recently as last night. But I come to you today offering hope and a few words of encouragement as we pause and grieve, weep, repent, pray, and express thanks to those who serve and protect.

There is much beauty and goodness in this world if we will take the time to witness it, and to create it. Today, I witnessed it in the laughter and play of children all shades of btown and tan on a splash pad.

Deeply saddened for the loss of life and the loss of humanity we see in our country, we need to remember this: Change starts inside our homes and reverberates throughout our culture and world. Press on dear friends as we grieve with those who grieve and mourn deeply the current situation. Change is possible by the grace of Jesus and our homes are perhaps our greatest, though indeed not our only, conduit for revival. Our job as parents is not easy…it never has been. Our task is significant…it has always been. Our time is now.

Even so come Lord Jesus,


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Valuing Our Children’s Unique Pasts

Please welcome my new friend, and fellow foster-adoption mama, April Swiger, as she shares a part of her family’s foster-adoption story. For more information on the foster-adoption journey, please see the links below to her blog and her new book, Dignity and Worth: Seeing the Image of God in Foster Adoption. Welcome, April, to This Temporary Home!


Upon meeting someone a few years ago, Adam and I shared our adoption plans with her.

Without missing a beat, she replied, “You’re not adopting from foster care, are you? All of those children are damaged!”

I didn’t know how to respond. At the time, we were trying to adopt an infant, so I probably mumbled something about that fact, hoping to appease my new acquaintance and end a terribly awkward conversation.

When I recall the thoughtless things that people have said to me, that interaction strikes me as unusually devastating. The issue isn’t that the comment offended me personally—although it did—so much as it is that the comment promoted the faulty belief that children in foster care or from orphanages abroad are not worth adopting, that their lives can’t be redeemed.

Many of the children who have been in foster care or orphanages have experienced neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, homelessness, hunger, and/or domestic violence. The trauma they have experienced often leads children to cope through unusual behaviors. They may rock themselves to sleep in silence because no one is there to hold them and meet their needs, they may use feces to ward off an abuser, or very young children may begin to parent even younger siblings because no one else will. Suffering has trained their brains to respond to events in certain ways, ways that the child who is born into a loving, structured, and stable family has never had to learn.

In addition to abnormal behaviors, children’s responses may take the form of developmental and cognitive delays, attachment disorders, learning disabilities, and other challenges. These challenges likely won’t disappear as soon as a child has been moved into a safe home. Foster children often need to learn how to trust other people again, or for the first time. This learning journey requires time, effort, and thoughtful parenting strategies that may differ from the status quo.

Over the years, I’ve received a handful of comments similar to the “damaged kids” remark. When I find this happening, I try to draw attention to the gospel and to the way that God values human life. My goal isn’t to rebuke others but to remind myself of this truth and to be an ambassador for children who can’t advocate for themselves, who can’t explain that they are not too “damaged” or “too far gone” for adults to invest in them.

Isn’t that the gospel? We were dead in our sin, totally damaged by the effects of the fall, separated from God, and unable to save ourselves. Without Jesus and the resurrection, sin makes us “too far gone” in the sense that there is no hope for salvation through our efforts. God sent his son to live a perfect life, die for our sin, rise from the dead, save us, and bring us close to him. Salvation makes us new creations who have access to the Father’s throne through divine adoption. There is eternal hope in this gospel and immense hope for foster children because there is one God who restores relationships in this life and the next.

To be clear, I’m not advocating that foster parents take on a savior mentality. Adoptive parents are not Jesus, and we are not doing our children any favors by “rescuing” them from foster care, as if adoption is strictly about charity. These children owe us nothing. They are welcomed into our families, fully and completely, regardless of where they come from, how they behave, or who they grow up to be. Adam and I never expect our children to be grateful that we chose to parent them and, ultimately, adopt them.

On a related note, Christians are instructed to care for the fatherless, specifically in James 1:27, which says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Caring for the fatherless is a practical way to live out our faith in Christ. Life is valuable and full of purpose, and foster children, with everything they have lost, deserve a family where they can experience that life.

I say it all the time: We have the best kids. Adam and I often pause in the kitchen, look at each other, and ask, “How in the world did we get such great kids!?” God has been very kind to us.

To be honest, though, I didn’t exactly experience love at first sight when Jayda arrived. In that moment, fear eclipsed love. Jayda had no obvious flaws, but we had never been parents before and were terrified.

After only a few hours, this little boy was winning over our hearts with his high-pitched toddler giggle, extensive vocabulary, and love for eating ketchup on everything. Our affection for him hasn’t waned a bit; it’s only grown since those first few days together. We knew the importance of committing to Jayda, and parental affection flowed from our hearts as we made the choice to attach to a child we might lose.


Excerpt from chapter three (Valuing Our Children’s Unique Pasts: Learning How to Honor and Respect Their Losses) from Dignity and Worth: Seeing the Image of God in Foster Adoption.

April Head Shot

April Swiger is a wife, mother to two awesome little boys (Jayda and Zay), homemaker, and blogger. In 2013, her family moved to her home state of Connecticut, where her husband, Adam, serves as the worship pastor at Christ the Redeemer Church. Living in a 100-year-old farmhouse, being debt-free, cooking nourishing food, and enjoying introvert-friendly activities are some of her favorite things.

You can join her for more “Faithfulness in the Mundane” at www.aprilswiger.com and Instagram.com/aprilswiger/.

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A Guide to Making Friends at Church

Seeking the Imago Dei

Time has not dulled the recollection of being a new member at church. My husband and I were newlyweds of just a few months when we moved back to his hometown and began the search for a church family to call home for us.

I remember asking him if we could look at several churches in the area before we landed on our church home. I was certain that we didn’t need to return to his church just because it was the pre-college fit for him as I felt we needed to explore a few other options to find the right fit for us.

When we landed on his church as our church, I had no friends that I had not merely known as acquaintances because they were friends of my husband. To be honest, being in a new city, in a new state, looking for a new church home for the first time since college, and away from my family more than a mere 100 miles for the first time in my life (the only person I knew was my husband), I was hesitant to jump into old friendships he had—for better or for worse.

Now, nearly 15 years later, I can truly say that I have become a part of the community at our church. I once was a first-time guest with little to no acquaintances, and now I would be hard-pressed to pass through the lobby without seeing several people that I know and could carry on a meaningful conversation with.

What is the secret to belonging at church? How do we go from being a guest looking in, to a member reaching out and joining hands with our sisters and brothers?

Read the Three Essential Steps to Making Friends at Church, here at iBelieve.


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Lessons from a Dirty Fan


The last two-to-three months has found our family in the midst of two property renovation projects. Gratefully, this weekend we finished up the last touches on the second house we are putting on the market. As I dusted and wiped down the ceiling fans, it occurred to me: we each are like a busy fan whirling and whirling. Like the ceiling fan I was cleaning, we too are frantically flying through our days working, or trying to get from point A to point B, meeting goals, beating deadlines, checking off our to do lists, or even distracting ourselves to death; however, we are nonetheless collecting dust, stains of the earth. Newton proved that objects in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force; but dust seems to land on anything moving or stationary!

In the frantic pace of life, even for people like myself who try to keep a simple, steady rhythm, we circle round again and discern that we haven’t taken the time to stop and reflect on our souls, our situations, our strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps, at best, we have paused. We haven’t completely halted to inspect the accumulation of dust, rather we have forged on with little notice of the cleaning of the heart and mind that needs our attention.

Hearts, like fans hurtling headlong day in and day out, can look the picture of health and beauty, but upon closer inspection can be layered with a thick covering of dust and earthly filth.

In our own homes, we tend to get in the spring cleaning mode as the spring days quickly glide into summer. We may find that we are dusting off shelves, emptying closets, and cleaning out drawers…even cleaning ceiling fans. As we do that, perhaps those actions could be mirrored in spring cleaning of the soul. Some time to stop and consider:

  • what practices do I need to cease in order to become more like the image of Christ?
  • what practices should I resume or initiate?
  • who do I need to forgive, or forgive again?
  • who do I need to seek forgiveness from?
  • where am I wasting resources that could be of better advantage used differently?
  • what is God whispering to me by the power of His Holy Spirit that I’ve been too busy to notice?
  • what leading have I dodged from the Holy Spirit?
  • what have I been lamenting over that I need to praise God for?
  • what passion needs to be further put into practice to see God’s Kingdom come?
  • what distraction do I need to do away with?

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ~Psalm 51:10

It seems ceiling fans aren’t the only thing that needs a little dusting off.



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What Do the Books You’re Reading Say About You?


When I graduated from my master’s program in college, one of my friends gave me a gift card to a local Christian bookstore with a note that read, now you can buy something to read for your pleasure.

In a seemingly simple moment, the transition was made from read what I must, to read what I will. Freedom, glorious freedom, to choose what influences, entertainment, and knowledge pool I would dive into from that moment forward. It was frankly a novel idea for me as a recent graduate ready to embark fulltime into the workforce. No longer would I spend late nights studying copious notes and reading text after text concerning speech and language disorders, anatomy and physiology, the workings of the brain, nor information on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Now a choice was possible, and time, for the moment, was available.

Fast forward twelve years and perhaps hundreds of book choices later. My reading pile has run the gamut from Beth Moore Bible studies, to science, government, Christian worldview to young adult fiction, and childcare to flood geology.  What does the current stack of books on my beside table say about me? What does the pile of books you are reading say about you?  What literary choices are we making that speak volumes about our current season of life?

Continue reading and join the conversation at iBelieve.com.


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