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Joshua, My Amazing Arrow

May 15, 2017

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     His statement broke my heart. “I’m sorry I’m not number 1.” I was sorry too. I was sorry that I had conveyed the message that he had to be number 1.

     Next Saturday is graduation day for my middle son, our family’s first college graduate. For the past four years, Joshua has been a student at The International House of Prayer University in Kansas City.

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     To be honest, over-achieving is in my blood. It is a trait that at times I fight to overcome. #1 has always sounded like a suitable number to me. In high school and college, I was the “Rocky” underdog. I rose from the ranks of floundering swimmer to collegiate All-American. I worked hard, I liked winning, and I loved my name on the record board.

     For years, I brought my over-achieving tendencies into motherhood. Home schooling was an ideal platform to mold my little tribe of world changers. As we started out, I wanted to have fun as my kids explored the world around them, but lurking below my low-key exterior was some other person who was triggered when she saw other home schoolers excelling. I had to compete.

     To say that we were highly involved in extracurricular activities is an understatement. Our lives at times were crazy! I didn’t know how to do it differently. It was who I was. I can’t recall when things began to change, but thank God, they did. When I look back at my journals, I was crying out for change for a long time before I began to find it. Eventually I began to see the value of slowing down. Self-worth had nothing to do with winning, our abilities, or our outside involvement.

     I began this blog six years ago to encourage others to slow down. My blog, in a way, saved my life. I listened to my message, and my life changed. Do I still like to win, sometimes, but for the most part I have found joy, peace, and satisfaction in life alone. My life is now full of free time. I enjoy wonderful time with my daughters (my final children living at home) doing what we enjoy most, just being together.

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     There was a good chance that Joshua was going to graduate valedictorian. Was I excited and proud? I’ll be honest, yes. But then I began to think about what really made me pleased with my son, and what truly made him a success.

·       Josh loves Jesus. There is nothing greater!

·       Josh is incredibly talented in many areas and he uses his gifts to serve God.

·       He worked hard to support himself through school. At one time he had three jobs, a barista, a farm hand, and the one that shows his humility, a manure scooper at a horse stable.

·       He served on student government for three years as events coordinator. He worked so hard on behalf of the students, often without assistance.

·       He traveled to Israel and Turkey gaining a love for the people of the middle east.

·       He served as a leader and mentor for underclassmen in the academic lab, teaching students how to write a paper correctly.

·       He became involved with ministry on the University of Missouri KC campus, leading people to Christ and spending time discipling them.

·       He traveled with classmates on ministry trips to Dallas, Pasadena, The Twin Cities, and New York City.

·       He was part of worship teams in the Global, and student led prayer rooms.

·       He brought students from six different nations to our home on holidays.

·       And he spent hundreds of hours in the prayer room.

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     Joshua is a joy to my heart, and a delight to my life. He has helped me to see that our greatest accomplishment is falling completely in love with Jesus. He once told me if that was all he ended up with when he was finished with school, then the purpose for school had been successful. His achievement of graduating third in his class is an excellent accomplishment, he worked hard and always gave his very best.

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Today I was reminded that being first is not the goal! I was also reminded that I still can send the message to my kids that being #1 will make me happy. I’m thankful for the adjustment in my thinking. I want to continue down the path of finding more peace, and knowing that intimate relationships with God and people are truly the goal.

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     Congratulations Joshua Ross Spence! You are an inspiration to me. You are the greatest, because you have always sought to be the least. You are always teaching, and encouraging me. You walk in humility, love, and wisdom, always putting God and others first. My child has become a man that I look up to. You are more than #1. I love you!

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Psalm 127:4

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man (and mother) whose quiver is full of them!”

 

She’s Worth it!

May 10, 2017

A lack of time, can translate into a lack of gift giving creativity. We are on the verge of Mother’s Day, and although good ole Mom will be thankful for any gift, she deserves more than a last minute present. Give your mom a gift that shows you took time to think about her and what would bring her joy.

Today’s post is just a few ideas to prime your thinker. What does the mom in your life like to do? How does she like to relax? What are her interests, dreams, and desires? Give gifts that make her feel special, something that shows her that you know her heart.

Start with the gift of time. Spend time with Mom doing what she will enjoy.

Take her to a farmer’s market. Buy her yummy Amish pies and freshly baked bread. Pick up a tomato start or some herbs, and don’t forget some farm fresh bacon.

Here is the link to Kokomo’s Farmer’s Market.  http://kokomofarmersmarket.com/

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Here is the link for the state of Indiana.  http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/fm/Indiana.htm

Mom spends a great deal of time watching movies that were not necessarily her first choice. Choose a movie or two that you know she’ll love, make the pop-corn, and get the snacks. Sit and watch the choice that will entertain her, with no thought to your own tastes. She does it all the time.

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A picnic is a perfect Mother’s Day meal. Unless she loves going out to eat at a restaurant, surprise her with a picnic basket full of her favorites. Head to her favorite park and be sure to take along comfortable chairs, a quilt and pillows.

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Plant the tomato plant and herbs that you picked up at the farmer’s market for her. Do any other gardening that’s been on her to-do list too.

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When choosing gifts, think of what she loves to do, or ways she would love to spend her time.

A basket full of art supplies for the artist, or art dabbler.

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A stack of her favorite magazines, journals or stationery are also thoughtful gifts.

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A literary favorite with some music to match. Be sure to give her time to sit and read.

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find a gift to add to her collection. My collections include red and white dishes, roosters (of the French variety) and French inspired décor. What does she like to accumulate?

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Something to make her summer a bit more yummy.

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A journal like this lets each of you share your thoughts for each other.

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Most of all, just let her know how very much she means to you. Share with her how she has influenced you, and formed your life. Give her your full attention, and your devotion.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 

Sneak Peek

May 4, 2017

Currently Kokomo is wallowing in water. Our placid little creek has turned into a raging torrent, filling our entire yard. Our favorite reading spot is in danger of floating down stream.

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In the midst of all this rain, I think it is time to share one of the simple pleasures that I have been writing about. Just as authors of cookbooks must test their recipes, I feel that it is important to field test each of my simple pleasures too. That is what I did on May 1st.

May first is May Day. It is an ancient spring festival that has been adapted and altered by past generations, and nations. In early America, baskets were filled with flowers and left on someone’s doorstep. The secret giver would ring the bell and run, leaving behind a bouquet and joy. One of the easiest ways to find pleasure is by giving it away. So I decided to have some fun, and find some pleasure.

The wildflowers that were available around my house were all of the miniature variety. I knew I couldn’t form a proper bouquet, so I got creative. I decided to make miniature flower arrangements with my miniature flowers.

A trip to Treasure Mart Mall was in order, where I searched through glass antiques for inexpensive miniature vases. I fell in love with these tiny vases. IMAG2780

I was thrilled when I found miniature, glass baskets. I would be able to deliver baskets of wild flowers after all, but with my own unique twist.

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Each vase was so darling.

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The tiny flowers were precious in my miniature vases.

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I wish I could have kept it. It looked so cute here.

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But it was time to deliver them.

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My neighbor was so surprised. She told me that she had just mentioned May Day to her husband. God’s timing is perfect. I didn’t leave the flowers on the doorstep and run for two reasons: 1. I can’t run. 2. The vase was so small I was afraid  if left unattended, no one would see it.

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I had so much fun! May 1st turned out to a blustery day, so one basket delivery was enough for me. I did deliver two more on May 2nd. I’ll just call it May Day – the sequel.

I’m now on the hunt for miniature vases and baskets for next year. I’ll be ready this time when May 2018 rolls around. You should give it a try. Most people do not even know what May Day is, so there is no need to wait until next year. Surprise someone with a bouquet for no reason at all. It will bless you both.

Just a Little Peek

April 25, 2017

I do so hope that the sun is shining wherever you are! Wow, what a difference a sunny, warm day makes on a mood! Mine has shifted from, spring time – waiting for warmer weather hover mode, to downright giddiness.

Each day, the green pops a bit more, and more flowers reveal their blooms. The lilac bushes are blooming, and that alone gives life purpose. That darling flower puts me into olfactory overload, in the best way.

I have already seen, and enjoyed all that spring has to offer, and now I’m half way into summer. How does she do that, you may ask. I am on a quest. Writing is my delight, and I have been indulging in that delight non-stop, and I’m doing it all for you. Well, I’m getting a great deal of enjoyment from it too, so I can’t claim complete selflessness.

I am deep into 365 simple pleasures that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and I am having such fun. It won’t be too long and I will be offering my free EBook with at least 24 simple pleasures that will delight you, and give you an entirely new perspective on how to enjoy life. There is no need for extravagant activities to boost your mood, or have a little fun. Simple pleasures surround us, we only need new eyes to see them.

I recently shared with a group of women about ways to create a different perspective. I believe that a shift in our perspectives can greatly improve the quality of our every day lives. So today, I just wanted to share 5 simple springtime pleasures with you since spring is all around us.

A pleasure qualifies as simple when it is something that we can do on a regular basis. What makes it a pleasure, is the new way in which we view that activity. We increase the richness of our lives just by seeing something simple, with new eyes.

So, take these ideas and see if a little peace, joy, or just ahhhh, follows.

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  1. Blow dandelions – Dandelions are not weeds, they are wishes. With just a puff of your breath, the white feathery seeds dance, and spin on the breeze, and send your wishes twirling into the atmosphere. Fun fact: They can travel as far as five miles away. Dandelions are the bouquets of childhood, a cheerful, buttery bloom that says, “I love you Mommy!” Put the weed killer away, and enjoy the pleasure of a little flower that is always cheery, and always accessible.

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  1. Mysteriously deliver natural flower bouquets to your neighbors on May Day – May first is May Day. It is an ancient spring festival that has been adapted and altered by past generations and nations. In early America, baskets were filled with flowers and left on someone’s doorstep. The secret giver would ring the bell and run, leaving behind a bouquet and joy. One of the easiest ways to find pleasure is by giving it away. Bless someone with a May Day bouquet and you both will find delight.

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  1. Peer inside a nest with baby birds – Spring is a season bursting with new life. One very simple way to view this wonder is by peering into a nest. You will either be treated with the sight of precious eggs nestled safely among the knitted twigs, or of featherless, gaping mouths hoping for a worm. Not only is it a pleasure to witness these tiny hatchlings, but you may just fall in love. There is something endearing about nestlings, and they soon steal our hearts. Perhaps, it’s just the Mama in us.

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  1. Pick a bouquet of wild flowers – You can tip toe through the tulips, dance among the Dutchmen’s breeches, or cavort between the crocuses, but be sure to gather them as you go. Spring wildflowers are a reward for surviving another winter. Their beauty quickly makes us forget the long, drab, grey days that preceded their arrival. Pleasure will overflow as you pick your bloomy bouquet, and bring it indoors to brighten any living space.

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  1. Watch a lightning storm from a dark room – Thunder and lightning storms can be fearsome tempests to behold, but they are also exhilarating, and thrilling when we are safe indoors. The thunder’s explosion may rattle your walls, and the lighting may scorch through the sky, but inside your dark chamber, you are safe from harm, and able to experience nature’s fury with benign fright. It is a pleasure to be reminded that storms will come, but we are safe in the shelter of God’s wings.

Happy spring!

Surprises are Coming!

March 31, 2017

I haven’t forgotten about you, not at all. I’ve been a busy little bee creating, planning and writing up a storm. New things are on the horizon and I’m getting it all ready. So don’t be surprised when my blog shows up one day with a different name and a different look.

This photo is a little hint.

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I’m just about done with a gift I’ve been working on also, but I can’t tell you about it yet. OK, you drug it out of me, It’s a free E Book, and I can’t wait to offer it to you. I know you’re going to love it.

Here’s another hint.

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That’s all I’m saying. You’re not getting any more information out of me. OK, you twisted my arm. My free book will be filled with not 1, not 10, but 365 simple pleasures to enrich your year.

I’ve also been fine tuning my purpose in writing through prayer, and soul searching. My message will remain the same, SLOW DOWN! I care so much for you, that I don’t want you to miss out on your own life. I have fresh ideas and fresh perspectives for you, and I know we’re going to have fun.

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So, now I have some questions for you. Your answers, in the comment box, will greatly help me as I prepare future posts. Please take just a moment and give a girl a hand.

  1. As a busy Mom, (that is if you’re a Mom) what is your greatest everyday struggle?
  2. What is your greatest heartache that you would love some encouragement for?
  3. Are the choices you’re making right now making you happy?
  4. Are there specific areas I could address to help you?

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So, in case I haven’t mentioned it in a while, thank you! Thank you for following my blog and for being a friend. I know our friendship may be one where we neither see nor talk to each other, (Hmmm, sounds a bit odd) but I want you to know that you are in my heart when I write, and I care very much about you. You are not faceless to me, and my heart truly cares about the quality of your life.

So hold on to your hat, and get ready to join me as we all find the meaning and purpose that God has for us. I know it will be great. He’s a great God, and has a rich and abundant life for us. We’re going to journey together and find meaning, purpose, joy and happiness. I’m tired of feeling sad, how about you?

Don’t forget to help me by answering the above questions. If you’d like your comments to be private, you can e-mail me at debbiespence5@gmail.com

Get ready, the adventure is about to begin!

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Living History

February 20, 2017

Learning about history from books has never been our cup of tea. Most often we like to re-enact it. This we usually do every fall at Koh-Koh-Mah and Foster Living History Encampment. Koh-Koh-Mah is a French and Indian War time period re-enactment that our family has enjoyed for 16 years. Here is their link. http://www.kohkohmah.com/  It is held the third weekend of each September just northwest of Russiaville, IN. I’ll share more on Koh-Koh-Mah in a future post.

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The girls and I a few years ago.

Our family has fallen in love with history. The love affair actually began around 20 years ago as our family traveled around the country with my husband’s job. At that time I had three little boys aged 1, 2 and 6. I homeschooled the oldest and thought that a fun way to learn history was by learning about the history of the area we were visiting. At the time we were in Las Vegas, Nevada, the place of my birth and early childhood. I remembered a little about mountain men and Kit Carson, so that is where we began. What could be more fun for three little boys than mountain men and wilderness tracking.

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One day as we drove to visit an old ghost town and abandoned gold mine, we came across a sign for a mountain man rendezvous. These were events held back when the mountain men came out of the high country after a winter of trapping. It was a good ole time for the men as they gathered to trade, compete and maybe drink a little. We followed the sign. That day we were introduced to men dressed in buck skin, throwing tomahawks, and one guy whose image has stayed with me for these 20 years, a beer bellied, loincloth wearing, tomahawk throwing gentleman with a furry buffalo horn hat. I wish I could forget, but it is seared in my memory.

When we came to Indiana, for a 3o day job that has turned into 19 years, we found out that here in the state of Indiana they too had re-enactments. In Indiana, you can find re-enactments for the eras of the  Civil War, the Revolutionary War, the French and Indian War, the War of 1812 and even WWII. Find the links at the end of this post.

We were hooked and my kids have grown up with a love of history. My boys own muskets and have fought in re-enactment battles. We have organized and taught 18th century dancing and have had numerous balls. I’ve learned to weave and spin wool, and every fall I am chained to the sewing machine creating new clothes that are historically correct for my continually growing children. History to us is something that you participate in, it has never been names and dates to memorize, but adventure to discover.

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My gourmet husband.

Our love of learning about history outside of books, looks like we may begin a new adventure. I’m still homeschooling, 21 years now, and my sophomore daughters are studying about WWII. Timing is everything, and right in the midst of our studying I received an e-mail from Black Dog Books. http://blackdogbooksin.com/  This delightful bookstore in Zionsville IN. is a must go to destination for any lover of old books!

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Through the e-mail we learned of a book signing for Ronald May who had recorded the stories of 36 WWII veterans in his book, Our Service Our Stories, Indiana Veterans Recall Their World War II Experiences. ISBN: 978-1-60414-865-7 So this past Saturday, the girls and I traveled to Zionsville and WWII.

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Accompanying Mr. May was one of the Vets from the book, Paul Maves. Mr. Maves was a delightful gentleman who was a bombardier on a B-26 who flew 41 missions in Europe. Living History!

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We also met a gentleman who invited us to attend the Indianapolis WWII Roundtable. http://www.wwiiroundtable.com/ They meet monthly with speakers worth listening to.

We also found out about Honor Flights. http://www.indyhonorflight.org This organization flies our vets to Washington DC to visit the war memorials. When the vets return, people turn out to patriotically welcome them home. One surprised gentleman stated, “I didn’t think anyone cared anymore.” That broke my heart. We care, and we have decided to go to the next arrival to greet these historical heroes. Check out the website and join us. Also, a portion of the sales of Ronald May’s book, goes to this organization.

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We are now on a new journey, one that I hope will include meeting and honoring men who deserve our honor. It happened because our lives are calm and commitment free so that when the e-mail arrived, we could choose to spend an afternoon in an uncommon way. It also happened because we like to experience life and history. We adore books, but they are only our starting place. They are the inspiration to go see and do.

I encourage you to step out of the ordinary. Start with a visit to a nearby historical site. If you are a lover of a particular time, it is so easy to google places, events and even stores that may pertain to it. I recommend Ronald May’s book. If you know a veteran, find out their story. Write it down for them and your own family. Ronald May is writing a second book and is looking for WWII vets willing to share their stories. If you know of one contact him at yourlifestory@live.com

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My Grandfather was in WWII and my father is a Korean War veteran, and that will be the next war we study.

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My handsome Daddy!

Thank you Dad and thank you to all veterans past and present who have given their all for this nation and me!

 

Here are just a few re-enactments in the state of Indiana

Civil War: http://www.billiecreekvillage.org/    http://www.angelfire.com/in3/34IN/

War of 1812: http://www.mississinewa1812.com/

French and Indian: Feast of the Hunter’s Moon http://www.tcha.mus.in.us/feast.htm

WWII: “Salute to the Veterans of World War II” Indiana Military Museum http://www.vincennescvb.org/attractions/16/historic/48/vincennes-state-historic-sites

 

Me – 1, Winter – 0

February 9, 2017

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If I were looking out my window at this beautiful white landscape, this time last year, you would not have found a smile on my face. Instead, my lower lip would have been jutting out, and I might have been throwing a toddler type tantrum. I would not have been a happy camper, and I would have made all other campers around me quite unhappy also. I had become disgruntled with winter, and I was threatening to move south, if my family came with me or not.

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My attitude about winter had become so sour, that almost nothing could cheer me up, nothing that is, short of a trip to a tropical destination. So, I began planning on migrating south. It didn’t matter that my husband owns a local business and can’t leave town. It didn’t matter that I still have two daughters in high school, who actually love winter. (go figure) I’ll be honest though, it did matter that my sweet grandbaby lives here in the frigid north and I couldn’t leave her.

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In my defense, I’m not just a whiney baby. Arthritis is trespassing in my body and the cold temperatures and the arthritis do not get along. At times, the pain is severe and my motion is limited, and I begin to feel as if I am a pain ridden blob waiting for summer to arrive.

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When reality set in, I knew that flying south for the winter was not in my near future. So what was I going to do, continue to feel miserable physically and emotionally, and take all those I love down with me? It was time for an attitude overhaul, a different perspective, a hope in the midst of the deep winter.

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For the past month, I have been sharing ideas of things to do to enjoy life in the midst of winter’s gloom and cold.  I wasn’t sharing because I had nothing better to do, I was sharing because for those of us who lose days of our lives grumbling about that which we cannot change, need to reclaim every single moment. We are not bears hibernating, asleep until spring calls. We need to love every day. We need our lives to be full of joy and fulfilling things no matter if the sun is shining, the blizzard is blowing or the trials of life are surrounding you.

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This past summer, whenever I drove around anywhere in Indiana, I took all sorts of photos. My theme was, “Falling in love again.” When I moved to Indiana 19 years ago, I fell in love. My pre-Indiana life had been lived in the deserts of southwest America, and in the humid and busy land of Houston Texas. Indiana was like the Emerald City. It was gloriously green. For the first time in my life, there were four seasons to every year. I adored each season, and all that this new Midwestern life had to offer me. This summer, I knew that it was vital that I recapture that love once again. If I was in love at one time, couldn’t I fall in love again?

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You may be perfectly content, and this post doesn’t apply to you at all. I am so very glad it doesn’t, but some of us need to fall in love again, and not miss out on another day of life because of our discontentment. So, this little snow storm, or what ever type of storm is in your life right now, is not something to merely to get through, holding our breath until better or warmer days arrive, I want to thrive in the midst. Every day matters.

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The white lovely snow covering every surface outside your window is something more than to a thing to trudge through on your way to work. It may possibly represent the things in life that we are less than happy about. It could be that unwelcome trial or struggle, or the thing we desperately hate in our lives. No matter what it is, do not let it steal your happiness. Do not let it take away your inner joy. Find a way to be happy in spite of it. Find something good about the thing you dislike. Change your perspective from that of a disgruntled complainer to a Pollyanna who can find something to be glad about.

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My joints are in a lot of pain, but I’m going outside for a stroll in the snow. My hips are so stiff, I sometimes cry out in pain, but yesterday I pulled my 15 month old granddaughter all around the yard on her little red sled. I hate the biting cold on my face, but I’m heading out to watch my daughters sled and I just might join them.

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Life is for living. What can you look at differently today? I’ll start with the snow.

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POST SCRIPT: Sledding didn’t work out too well. Note to self, do not step into a plastic sled with snow covered snow boots! I never made it down the hill, but I went down alright. Flat on my back, but at least my upper arm broke my fall as it slammed into the edge of the sled. So now I’m enjoying my evening with an ice pack. I’m still not going to curse the winter. I am determined to sled again, and if I get a humdinger of a bruise, like I suspect I will, I might just share a photo. I’m not thrilled to be in pain, but I’m glad I gave it a shot.

Hope you enjoyed the photos, they are all from my yard.

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It’s all perspective.