Musings from the Threshold

Category Archives: Learning

2016 Highlights

It’s a bit surreal to be back to this once-familiar screen. It has been over three-and-a-half years since my last post. Two days after that post came one of those experiences you read about in books, where the world stops for a moment, when it feels as if your heart must have surely stopped beating, and when you know that your world with never be the same. So began the darkest valley of my life, which was not bloggable. And through that valley, my Savior and Redeemer proved Faithful and True, and took me deeper than my feet would have ever nightmared to walk. He let me see His wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness in such rich and sweet ways. And perhaps, some day, I’ll be able to tell you about His redemption in our story. But for now…

Lately, I’ve been feeling the pull (the conviction, actually) to get back to writing, and to get back to my blog. I’ve been pondering some of the ways the Lord has shown me His goodness this year, and it seems like a fun place to re-start the ol’ blog.

So here are some highlights…

Into God’s Word with the One Year Bible
Many years of my life I have begun a Bible reading plan with a new year. I am a rule follower, and a smidge OCD, and generally by March, I would have diagnosed myself as a failure and given up.
A couple years ago, I met my friend Jill and began to hear her talk (A LOT 😉 ) about her beloved One Year Bible for Women. I found out that it’s the entire text of the Bible, just divided for readings of approx. 15 minutes for each day of the year. What got me, though, was realizing that my friend would just read the passages for each date, regardless of whether or not she had missed a day. Granted, I think she rarely misses a day, but it was the idea of not having to “catch up” that intrigued me and made me think this might actually work for me!
So, several days into 2016, my One Year Bible arrived, and I began a new adventure. I think that I have absorbed more of God’s Word this year than I ever have before in a year. I’ve missed plenty of days, but never felt discouraged. And the Lord has been faithful to show more and more of Himself to me as I’ve been in His Word.

The Lord has been teaching me much in this area. I don’t think I’ve ever been a “yes man,” yet I’ve had a strong tendency to overfill my plate. I think I’ve come a long way this year in learning to let go of things that are not on my priority list, to make wiser choices, and to not feel guilty when something does not make the cut.
Much of this work in me is just listening to His still small voice. My husband has been a terrific physical voice in this process, and my Mama has been my cheerleader. Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode has been a great practical help, with exercises to help me think through priorities, Best Things, etc.

Growth in my Relationships with my Family
I like where my man and I have grown to in our relationship. Settled, content, growing and working together, etc.
I’m also thankful for the growth I’ve seen in my relationships with my darlings.

Time with my Mother-in-Love
This month marked two years since Mom Smith was diagnosed with advanced cancer. I treasure the tenderness and sweetness that has developed in our relationship as we have walked this journey together. Time is so very precious.

Health Improvement

June 2016
June 2016

to this…
December 2016
December 2016

makes a tremendous difference. It’s not just the 40 pounds lost; there is much more to it than that. I made the commitment to myself and my family that I would do something to become healthier. My wonderful chiropractor has gone above and beyond in helping me to find something that would truly work for me, and my family has put up with both the weirdness of my eating, and with my need to cook “blind” because I couldn’t taste test their food. Definitely a highlight!

Our good God is only good, and He only gives good. He is worthy of all praise!
All is grace.

Thoughts on Service, Redemption, and Healing

There is a area of my life in which I am recurringly stabbed with a sense of being unappreciated and lacking value.  When I start to think that I’m “over it,” something invariably happens to rip off a scab that should be long healed.

This doesn’t involve anyone in my family or even events/people that I am currently close to, yet it brings me to my knees over and over.  I know that there are still things that my Father longs to teach me through this, and oh, how I long to learn them!  I am obviously missing a piece of the puzzle.

2013-01-07 FinishedPuzzle 004x

Some blessings of balm to me today…

*** “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.” ~Matthew 10:24-25
Oh, may I be like my Master, willing to serve, to lay down my life, and to entrust myself to Him who judges righteously, instead of looking to people for my “reward.”

*** “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

*** And this song, Nothing is Wasted, by Jason Gray.  You can listen to it for free at the link, and the lyrics touch me in various areas.  But right now, in this current trial, the first verse and chorus were such a blessing as I listened to them this afternoon.

The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our redeemer
Nothing is wasted

~Jason Gray/Jason Ingram/Doug McKelvey

I am content and thankful this evening, though still a bit heartsore and emotionally weary.  I’m thankful that my loving Father will continue to patiently and tenderly teach this little child to love and serve like He does.

A New Morning Habit

Mornings have long been a frustration to me, in the sense that we’ve struggled to get breakfast done and our day begun.  It’s seemed like we’re very disjointed/disconnected, not very family-ish, and have such a hard time getting to the point where we’re doing anything besides spinning our wheels.

Last month, the Simple Homeschool weekend links included this gem – What’s Working :: 5 Strategies for Right Now, from Amongst Lovely Things, a blog I hadn’t previously read.  Sarah gives some great ideas in a relatively short post, but the one that jumped out at me was #3 – “Start Early. Very Early.”  When I read her description of how her family’s mornings used to be, and I thought she must haved lived at my house!

The whole insistence on being “dressed and ready for the day before starting schoolwork” is really lingering residue from out-of-home education.  But we are not trying to bring into our home what happens in a school building.  No, we are seeking to educate our children at home in the way that best fits them and our family.  And sometimes it is difficult to even spot the things we do as a result of the influence of the school system.

So Sarah describes how they have thrown out the “getting ready” and have begun a habit of just starting the day with reading aloud together.  In her words,

Trust me, getting out of bed is a much more appealing prospect when chores and math aren’t looming directly overhead. My kids wake to the promise of a cozy blanket while mama reads a story. I sip coffee while I read, and before we know it we’ve got 30 minutes of  literature (or history, science, religion, or whatever else we’re reading about that day) under our belts.

Oh, that sounds inviting, doesn’t it?!  It definitely got me thinking.

Then, around New Year’s, I read a terrific article from Thomas Jefferson education about Winter’s Educational Superfood.  More good stuff in there than I can cover in this post, but it was further motivation for me to want to switch things up with our routine!

So last week, as we got back into official school stuff, I started calling the Blessings out to the living room first thing in their morning.  Now, my morning starts long before theirs, as Jonathan leaves for work about 45 minutes before most of them wake.  I use the gap for studying of my own, or a quick nap, or trying to get some of my computer stuff out of the way before they begin their day, or even making breakfast for them!  But when I’m ready for them to begin their day, I call everyone to the living room and we begin.  So for me, starting early is less about time-early and more about first-thing early.

We are reading I John 1 this month, one of them reading it from my Kindle each morning.  By the end of the month, it should be somewhere between very familiar and memorized.  And since there are five chapters in I John, the book will fit in nicely by the end of our “official” school year.

After we read our Bible chapter, we read a chapter from a classic.  Right now we are enjoying Little Women.  Not sure what will come next, but I think all the Blessings and I are enjoying it.

While I read, they usually eat breakfast (if something’s ready), or one of the older Blessings quietly fixes something, then they eat.  It seems so much easier to move on to other studying and work after starting our day together with a cozy read.

And, a treasure for you from this morning’s read.  I found this so resonated with me that it was difficult to make it through the paragraph as I read aloud to the Blessings this morning…

If I don’t seem to need help, it is because I have a better friend, even than father, to comfort and sustain me.  My child, the troubles and tempations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavely Father as you do that of your earthly one.  The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom.  His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength.  Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.” ~~ Marmee to Jo in chapter 8 of Little Women, “Jo Meets Apollyon” ~~ Louisa May Alcott

Maybe you’d like to try it?  Maybe you have found something different that is fabulous for your family?  I’d love to hear about what morning routine works for you!

Rejoicing in God’s Ruling Hand

I recently re-found this wonderful quote a friend posted from an out-of-print book, The Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart. Says one who was Stuart’s assistant for some years,

“She delighted in seeing her plan upset by unexpected events, saying that it gave her great comfort, and that she looked on such things as an assurance that God was watching over her stewardship, was securing the accomplishment of His will, and working out His own designs. Whether she traced the secondary causes to the prayer of a child, to the imperfection of an individual, to obstacles arising from misunderstandings, or to interference of outside agencies, she was joyfully and graciously ready to recognize the indication of God’s ruling hand, and to allow herself to be guided by it.”

Oh, yes, Lord, may this be true of me!


We have been looking at a family business possibility over the past couple of months that would require a major time-investment from me.  As we pondered and prayed, I realized that to be gone from home more than fourty hours a week, doing school and business elsewhere, would require a whole new level of discipline and intentionality from me.  I started formulating practical plans for different areas of our life that would allow for maintaining a calm family atmosphere and spiritual focus, a tidy and welcoming home, an effective educational experience for our children, and warm, home-cooked meals on a consistent basis.

Last Tuesday, we got a “sorry, but we are not able to give you a business loan at this time” call.  A couple hours after the initial tears and prayers of frustration, I was blindsided by this thought (and it was a good thing I was already prone for a nap)…

What if I lived as intentionally day-by-day **without** this new business as I was planning to be in order to make it work?  What changes would we see in our family relationships, our schooling, our ability to reach out to others?



And yes.

Yes to learning to be more disciplined and intentional with my time, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen with this business possibility.  Yes to implementing plans that will allow us to use our time more efficiently and work together as a family.  Yes to truly seeking to receive and give grace in the daily moments.

We don’t know for sure that the business opportunity is a solid “no.”  We continue to pray, as do others, that if this is what the Lord has for us, that He will make the path clear.  We are talking with another bank, and we are working toward improving some of the factors that prompted the “no” from the initial bank.  We are trusting the Lord to move us forward in the direction He would have us go.

And in the meantime, I am working on implementing some of my grand ideas for intentional living.

One of my first big projects has been adapting my friend Winter’s 5 Week Menu idea.  I will share more on this later, but I am truly excited about it.  I have a 5 week menu for cool weather planned out, and am working on getting detailed grocery lists made up for each week, all the recipes gathered together and in page protectors, and other tricks to make meals streamlined and simple.

I am hoping to share some of this journey of intentionality with you, so stay tuned!

Thoughts on Dwelling

The Lord has been teaching me and reminding me lately that HE is my dwelling place.
In a recent message about the attributes of God, I was reminded-
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

And a couple days later, Papa sent me a devotional with this theme verse-
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

So I was doing a quick search for more “dwelling place” verses, and came to one of my favorite life Psalms (the name of my blog comes from vs.11)
Psalm 84
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed!
For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psalm 90:1-2
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

And as you continue looking through Scripture, the other aspect of us-God dwelling is HIM dwelling with us. In us, even!
2 Corinthians 6:16
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Revelation 21:1-3
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

Ephesians 2:19-22
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Do you see that?? We are “members of the household of God,” and we are His “dwelling place!”

My thoughts turned to my relationship with Jonathan at this point… When I am with him, I am “home,” no matter where we are. He has expressed the same feeling of “homeness” about being with me. When we arrive in each other’s arms after being apart (even for a day), there is often this shared deep breath and sigh that says “Ahh, it’s so good to be home. Everything is going to be okay. I can rest now.” In a sense, he is my dwelling place, and I am his.

And then I chuckled a little chuckle of awe and amazement. Because I had inadvertently stumbled across another example of how the marriage relationship is meant to be a beautiful picture of Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
because we are members of his body.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Thanks for sharing my little Scripure-journey! May the Lord bless…

Thoughts on the New Year

I started to wax contemplative regarding the new year in my FB status, then realized a blog post was in order.

The word that has consistently come to mind as I’ve considered another year –


What do I want most this year –
To enjoy my Savior more fully; to become more like Jesus.
Really, that’s what really matters. I pray that any other goals just “put skin on” those goals.

My friend Lynn posted this hymn a few years ago at the beginning of a new year. Ever since, I think of it at the new year, and it beautifully states my heart’s desires. I enjoyed this rendition by a young ladies trio:

I’m beginning to work through forming some “skin on” goals for this year. I don’t always do this, but I have seen the benefit in my health journey of setting goals, and I’d like to do some more thorough thinking about other goal categories. I suppose seeing the benefit of health related goals makes goals for this year come quickly to mind – to reach and maintain my goal weight; to gain strength/tone; to try running again and, shins permitting, run a 5k by the time I turn 39.

Beyond that, I’m thinking and praying. What are some of your goals for 2012?

When All Seems Cold and Silent

I opened my inbox this morning to read of a infertility/adoption heartache of a friend of a friend. Fourteen years on knees, beseeching the Father for children, willing to accept even the honor of bringing an unmet soul into existence. Barren womb, run-away mothers, empty arms. Such grief.

And when He seems to not be answering, what then? When He says no, what then? When all seem cold and silent?

Ann spoke beautifully to this yesterday. A small snip from her heart-tugging, heart-growing post:
She whispers it, “God does loves us, doesn’t He, Mama?”

And I nod and this is always the question and maybe this is all our faith really is — Faith is this unwavering trust in the heart of God in the hurt of here. Unwavering trust all the time though I don’t understand all the time.

God is always good and we are always loved.

Loved enough to be shaped into goodness of Christ Himself.

Oh, but the molding can hurt so. Can’t it? It’s hard to see the Son sometimes…

And we question His love, His goodness.

And He brings us back to the knowing with the little things.

Years ago, it was a simple line that brought me back to the knowing of His love after years of dark doubting. It’s been the embrace of a friend, the tears of a loved one, typeset words, handwritten words – His words or the words of His people. Other times, it has been the counting of the “small” gifts with which He fills my life.

He loves. And even when He seems silent, He knows. (Listen, please. I still cannot seem to embed.)

Here are some verses that I shared with my friend this morning, praying that they would strengthen her heart and help her as she seeks to help her friend to the knowing of His love. If you are in a silent time now, may they bless you today. If the silence is later, may He remind you of His unending love when you most need it. And may we learn to see His beauty and love, even in the cold and the silence.

Psalm 27:4-8,13,14
(4) One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.
(5) For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
(6) And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
(7) Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!
(8) You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
(13) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
(14) Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Psalm 84:10-12
(10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
(11) For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor (grace and glory!).
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
(12) O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

Psa 73:25-28
(25) Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
(26) My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(27) For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
(28) But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

Rom 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or
danger, or sword?
(36) As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
(38) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
(39) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again
to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
(4) to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you, (5) who by God’s power are being guarded through faith
for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(6) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been grieved by various trials,
(7) so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold
that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result
in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(8) Though you have not seen him, you love him.
Though you do not now see him, you believe in him
and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,
(9) obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
(34) “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
(35) “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
(36) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory
forever. Amen.

Psalm 56:1-13
To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam
of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
(1) Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
(2) my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.
(3) When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
(4) In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
(5) All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
(6) They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
(7) For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
(8) You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
(9) Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
(10) In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise,
(11) in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
(12) I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
(13) For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Here’s the Thing…

We have been working on getting some steady forward motion in our schooling. The State Fair put a bit of a kink in our efforts, but this week we are getting down to business again. I was feeling extremely frustrated and overwhelmed this morning, at which point I generally start thinking we need to switch this or that about what we are doing for school. Or that I am just a failure as a home schooling mom. I called Jonathan in anguish and told him all the things I needed him to tell me. In detail. Things like: It’s only the second day back at working on a new daily routine, and I shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect from the start; it’s more about being consistant than about having the “perfect” system/curriculum/schedule; really, it WILL be okay. And so on. He’s so patient with me.

Continuing to think and pray after talking with Jonathan, I was convinced even more that what we truly need is to reduce distractions and Just Do It. Every weekday, unless there is a true emergency. Yes, educating at home is wonderful because there are so many opportunities for learning outside of book work. But, if my children are not able to keep their checkbooks balanced because we were too busy with other fun learning experiences, then I will have not done my job.

So, after chatting with the principal upon his arrival home from work, here’s the plan: School is in session every Monday – Friday of every week for at least the next month, so that we can truly get a routine established. That means grocery shopping, library trips, etc. have to happen evenings/weekends. That means yard jobs for the boys have to be done after school work is finished for the day. Until the apples come in and we go crazy with apples for a few days, we are going to be being very intentional and focused about getting a good groove established. And after apples, it’s back to business.

Hopefully, as time goes by, we will be able to be more flexible again. But we’ve had too much flex for too long, and it’s time to get busy!

It’s a Weekday!

Starting a new weekday habit on Friday night makes things a bit tricky. I almost forgot today.

And the streams of thought run through my head so quickly that it’s difficult to grab onto one.


There’s one that I can hang onto.

I mentioned that Jonathan was recently off work for three unpaid weeks. For some reason, I felt awkward talking about God’s provision for us while we were in the midst of it. For some reason, now that he’s working again, it doesn’t seem as uncomfortable. But really… why should there be a taboo against praising the Lord for providing for our needs?

Anyway, it was amazing to see the way the Lord uses His people to be His hands and feet in our lives. We have received groceries, a cooler full of meat, money with which to carry on financially, and more. For me, this “sparse” time has been a great blessing as we have been loved and provided for in such neat ways. I feel loved and cared for by our body of fellow believers in a way I can’t adequately describe. Especially at almost eleven at night with two minutes left on my timer! But I am thankful.

The four year anniversaries of the passing of my G’pa and G’ma Byrd are coming up quickly, and the waves of grief have been coming. I’m trying to remember to remember they are somewhat akin to labor pains, in that I find it most helpful to work with them as they come, and let them go when they are done. There will be more, and I pray they are somehow productive.