New, New, New, Collapse – and Phew?!?!

New home, state, job, lifestyle, parental roles, pets, diet, church, trials and celebrations… New. Do you ever have those times in life that months fly by, and you feel like it has only been a few days in one sense, yet in another, it feels like eternity? Well, that’s where I’m at right now. It has been a looooong time since I’ve updated my blog. I HAVE sent out some email updates about my ministry, which if you haven’t gotten those, and you’re interested, send me a message and I’ll keep you in the loop… But… Here it is. Confusing. Messy. Our life the past few months.

Welcome to Montana

After accepting the position at Camp Bighorn in November, we started getting really serious about raising my ministry support and finding a home in Montana to pursue a “simple life”. Ha… Me. Simple?.?. After many months of searching, we made an offer on one house that didn’t go through, and ended up really liking, and then purchasing, a house that we had originally ruled out without seeing. In April 2016, we packed up a moving van, our car, a trailer, the kids and our little dog Zero and headed North. Our new, 100 year-old, 30 year “updated” home has a laundry list of repairs, but the peace and tranquility of the 11.5 acres of land, small town, abounding nature, and wide, Montana skies have won our hearts.

With all of our acreage we figured we could use a large dog, so naturally, a german shephard mix named Dudley came home with us two days after our arrival. Why wait?!?!. We quickly fell in love with this sweet boy and he was amazing with our family. Of course, as with any new dog, we were overcoming some behavior issues, but he was learning quickly and seemed to be adapting well to our home and Zero. However, we quickly realized that his drive for attacking animals was greater than his desire to listen. He was doing really well off leash and then out of nowhere, in the middle of a game of fetch, he took off and had an excursion with our neighbor’s cows that resulted in a lot of blood and my ensuing “accidental vegetarian” diet. No, the cows and dog didn’t die, no bones were broken that we know of, but it was a horrible, gruesome scene, and I haven’t been the same since. In tears and hyperventilating, I took my boy back to the shelter as Terrance and I agreed that the liability of having a dog who was obsessively lusting over cows in every direction in an unfenced yard was not a good plan for him or us. I am still heartbroken questioning the “what if’s” and three months later, I still cannot bring myself to eat meat.

Our home felt quite empty without Dudley (still does), then, a few days after his departure, we acquired some lawn-mowers to trim down our land – I mean, two horses and a mule… And, the greatest part is that we get paid to have these three beauties around to pasture. I’m trying not to become too attached as I know that they will return to their owner soon and it would be a huge undertaking to claim such large animals as our own. But wow, they are quite majestic. I’m also learning why the locals complain about deer as “pests” as they’ve mowed down our little vegetable garden. Definitely need to get some fencing in before we start a large garden…

Animal Love

On to the craziness of adjustments. I was forewarned that working at camp would require long hours during the summer, but I was bound and determined to follow God’s call on my life. What I wasn’t prepared for was the fact that long hours meant working 60 to 70 hour weeks at a new job and the impact that would have on our family – this, in addition to Terrance taking over home-schooling and caring for the kids and house, then him working from home and traveling to and from Utah for at least a week at a time every couple of weeks (during which time I’ve had our truck break down, mouse invasions, a tree limb collapse into our deck, sprinklers explode, set a toilet by myself, and more). In addition, my foot decided to stop flexing toward my leg and half of my toes went numb about a week and a half ago and I’ve been going to doctors trying to figure out the cause, meaning I’m dragging my foot as I walk and my body is sore from compensating. It’s been rough. We’re trying to muck through it all and trust that God is faithful, while in the midst of that determine what is it that God is calling us to and for? What are we supposed to learn from this and how do we pursue in faith? How do we serve God, our family, ourselves without collapse? We are both exhausted and beaten; the kids are doing okay given all of the change but still not great. The long days of summer are drawing near to an end at camp and I/we have learned a lot in this time about our capabilities, loving others, the importance of family and taking time to live and be present in the moment in the midst of craziness and hope that these lessons will carry over into the future. As things begin to slow down, we are praying for wisdom, peace and direction in the days to come. Phew…

Breathe, Laurel… Breathe friends…



Homeschool Trials and Celebrations

One month ago, we decided to officially homeschool Westin, our first grader. In that month there have been trials and celebrations as we begin to discern what works and what doesn’t. We have let go of the 7 hour school day and seen how quickly the days can fly by without getting anything done (or so it may seem from the outside). We have wondered why on Earth we thought we could take control of our children’s education and then, what would happen if we didn’t and why we chose to homeschool in the first place. It’s not always happy-go-lucky and then, some days or hours it is. It’s amazing the learning that can be done having the freedom to take learning outside the classroom –  when you have the time to do so. 

Thanks to the recommendation of a seasoned homeschooler, we were able to start teaching Westin how to write in cursive and he is doing amazing and enjoying it! We are hoping that this will help with his dyslexia as others have found to be true. Sad to think that this is an art that most schools have left out in keeping up with the new common core curriculum.


Allowing him to help decide some of our curriculum means that he has the opportunity to learn more about things that interest him and to dive deeper into subjects that he finds interesting. We are focusing our primary efforts on math and language (which can be our biggest battle depending on the day) but beyond that, we’ve been exploring his new passion for rocks, delving into history and whatever else may come our way.

Lulu has taken an interest in learning more as well, and it’s fun to see the two kids working together. Some days, it seems as if they do nothing but fight (sibling love), yet I can see their relationship strengthening as they create, build and play together. They both miss their school friends at times, even though Lulu still goes  to school twice a week, so I am hoping in time we can start connecting a bit more with other kids to fulfill that need.

I’m not doing everything perfectly, and I have to be reminded and remind myself that’s okay. We are learning and growing in this homeschool journey and each trial and celebration helps us grow in ways that wouldn’t be possible in the public school system. 

Following God’s Call

Montana Ministry

We are moving to Montana! There, I said it.

Why Montana???

Simple answer? Why not? Or…

We are accepting God’s call to go into ministry!

Okay. Maybe that’s not such a simple answer. The truth is, I had never considered going into ministry. The thought had never crossed my mind. But, God has used a series of events in our lives to bring our family to ministry at a non-profit Christian adventure camp named Camp Bighorn in Montana and we are accepting the call. We will be sharing more about this journey, and inviting you to take part, in the weeks and months to come. This is beyond exciting. Beyond crazy. But sometimes, God will invite you to do more than you ever imagined in ways beyond your comprehension. And along the way, He will remind you, “you are not alone”.

So here we are. Homeschooling, listening to God, and stepping out in faith to wherever this adventure may lead! I hope and pray you will join us!

Goodbye First Grade, Hello Homeschool 

Last Thursday, I officially withdrew Westin from first grade at his public school. It was a decision that I had pondered ever since he entered Kindergarten, as we debated the pros and cons and logistics of how to make homeschool work, or if we could make it work, with two working parents. Or if there were other options that we could try. Or… the list goes on. It was a decision that I (we) had been wanting to make, but were afraid to make the plunge; that is, until I just couldn’t take the devastation anymore.

As I had posted recently, with common core, kids are no longer allowed the time to be kids. We were fighting every single school night to get through over an hour of homework that was often times absolutely pointless, poorly written, and/or made no sense. One of my many breaking points with trying to help Westin with his homework came when he was supposed to read a sentence which asked something along the lines of, “Why did the judge dump rocks in the pit?”… Yeah, can you explain that one to me? And there were many, many math problems with the new common core format that were an absolute joke. Well son, let me have you solve the same problem three different ways, thereby taking at least three times as long, draw these twenty-nine blocks for me, solve this equation using terminology and wording that you (and I) don’t understand, and tell me how you feel about your answer?  No thanks.

I wish that I could honestly say that was the worst of it. Sadly, first grade was progressively getting worse and worse, as was Westin’s attitude, and there was more and more homework. His test scores were falling despite his intelligence and ability to comprehend the subjects at home. I considered changing teachers or schools rather than homeschooling, but after many discussions with parents seeing the same thing in their children, stories of teachers leaving the profession due to their unwillingness to conform to the governmental overreach and detrimental effects of testing and pressure to their students, more information coming forth on how they are using student data, Westin (and every child) being treated and lableled as a number rather than a human being, as well as a big move in our horizon (more on that later), I was not willing to allow my baby boy to succumb to the disaster that has become public schooling any longer.

So, this marks week one of our new homeschool adventures. We have a lot to figure out, and I genuinely wish that public school was what it once was. BUT, I came home to a smile and hugs at the door after our first day of homeschool and only a few hours apart on Monday instead of the normal whining and frustration that had become the normal, school night battle. And even with a bit of a challenging day yesterday, I’m already seeing a significant change in attitudes for the better of everyone at home. It’s definitely not the easy path, but I hope it will be worth it!

Well Played God… How God Speaks to Us

how God speaks to us

Have you ever had those moments when you saw just the right quote or verse when you needed it, heard just the right song, the sermon at church seemed to be written just for you, a friend said the exact words you needed to hear, a stranger touched you in an unexpected way?.?. And you just knew at that moment that it was God speaking to you?

God speaks to us in so many ways, if we are just willing to listen

I’ve had so many instances of this communication lately, I could go on and on. I thought it would be fun to share a few of these, because heaven knows there have been way too many times when I HAVEN’T had any communication with God and I’ve needed him desperately. Lately has been different though. Lately my faith has grown as I have opened my heart and mind in the midst of a major war with my depression and anxiety, and asked, prayed, begged God to reveal Himself to me. To talk to me. To let me knows He’s real. Over and over and over again. Some of you may not believe in God, some may wonder if He’s real, or if He is real, why would He let you go through this, why won’t he answer your prayers, why you can’t hear Him, why… (The list is endless) Or maybe like me, you’ve felt the spirit working in or around you at various times in your life. Whatever it might be; whether you take this as spirits, God, or merely coincidence, I believe that God has been speaking to me lately more than ever and helping me get through. And maybe, just maybe you’ll find a bit of encouragement in reading my experiences.

It started in January of this year. I had lost my diamond cross necklace several months earlier. I had searched high and low for it and finally given up on the search, convinced it was gone for good. One day, I prayed the prayer “God. If you’re real, reveal yourself to me. Make me believe.” On that very day, I walked through the hallway of my old house and stepped on something on the wood planked floor. I ignored it, assuming it was something from the kids – toy, paper, whatever. I didn’t see anything and wasn’t in the mood to scan the floor (if you have kids around you know what I’m talking about). A few minutes later, I walked back through the hallway, this time stepping on something again and hearing it slide across the floor. Mind you, this is a floor that had been cleaned many, many times with remodel and kid induced messes. But of course, having stepped on something two times in a row, I looked down this time to figure out what on Earth I had stepped on. And there lying in the middle of the hardwood floor, was my cross. God revealed himself to me through my lost cross.

Well played, God

Fast forward. I’ve been trying to read the book “The Me I Want to Be” by John Ortberg for over a year and been slooooowly working through it. Well, last week I sent a text to my best friend, telling her how I’ve been completely burned out by some people in my life. Literally, not more than 5 minutes later, I open my book to the next chapter and it’s about how God places difficult people in our lives to help us grow. I then happened to need, use and apply the lesson the following day.

Well played, God

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my life; listening, praying, reaching for God’s calling, trying (key word) to be patient and trust in Him. Wednesday night I started a bible study app that has repetitively stated variations of verses that “you are not alone.” Sunday morning I started working on this post, and was unable to finish as I was interrupted by the kids. After getting their breakfast and feeding our dog Zero, I checked the mail and it was a book about the bible and its’ place in our futures. Um, okay? When Terrance, my husband, got up I was talking to him about how God has been communicating with me and repeating the message “you are not alone.” We went to church, where my mother in law and her boyfriend joined us for their first time (awesome experience!) And then, our pastor spoke his message on… You guessed it. “You are not alone.” Really, at this point, all I could do was smile, cry a few tears, and thank God. Well played, well played… There are so many more instances I could share as of lately but I don’t want to keep you reading all day! However, I would love to know—

How does God speak to you? 

I’d love to read your stories of encouragement, so please comment and share! And if you feel that God doesn’t communicate with you, or hasn’t ever – it’s okay. You are not alone and it doesn’t always happen when you want it to. But I invite you to open your heart once again to hear Him, or send me a message and I’d love to join you in prayer that you may find refuge and friendship in Jesus, our Lord our God. He may just be in the places you least expect to find Him 🙂

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