To Jesse Schmucker, My Loving Husband

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I would just like to say Happy Valentine’s Day to my wonderful husband, Jesse Schmucker!


weddingI know this past year has been one of the hardest years yet, but I have never been more proud of you for how you have walked through it.  I know that we do not know what tomorrow holds, but all I want is for you to hold me today and for every day we have left.  Life is unpredictable and time is fleeting, so let’s not give the past an ounce of that precious time.  Let’s spend our time loving each other, loving our children, and trying to make the world a better place if we can.  Let’s not let those who refuse to forgive bring us down.  If you ever feel torn down and undeserving of love, I will be there to build you up.  You have always loved and supported me, even when I’m not my best.  You have been, and continue to be, a wonderful father and have given me and our five beautiful children an amazing life that you should be proud of.  I know that we’ve both made mistakes and have been childish in the past.  We’ve done things without thinking as many people have while in their early years of adulthood.  But now, we can put our childish ways behind us and move on toward a brighter future.

family2014I look forward to teaching our children along side you, giving them their best chance in this crazy world.  I look forward to seeing one or more of your amazing ideas become a reality.  I look forward to you challenging me to be my best and me challenging you.  I look forward to many more long nights of deep discussions begun by our many thought provoking questions we ask each other.  I look forward to cherishing our children with you while they’re still children.  I look forward to confronting new challenges with you, knowing that we are strong enough to handle anything as long as we are together.  And, I look forward to whatever lies ahead knowing that our love will only evolve into something greater with every passing year.

I couldn’t imagine my life without you.  I love you Jesse Schmucker!



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What is a “Me Day?”

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Candace Me DayOur family just loves the cartoon “Phineas and Pherb.”  If you have never seen it, you have got to give it a chance.  This past weekend, I was thinking about one of the episodes where Candice is determined to give herself a “Me Day.”  Most of her summer days are spent trying to “bust her brothers” as they are building or doing something crazy and amazing.  But, this day was different.  While watching this particular episode with my kids, I began to imagine myself as Candice.  She looked so comfortable and relaxed in her robe and slippers just zoned out in front of the TV.  Why couldn’t I have a day like that?  A day where I could just turn myself completely off.  A day with no responsibilities and no parental obligations.  A day that I could call a “Me Day?”

Then, I realized that I’m not a cartoon.  I am no longer a teenage girl with a long summer break.  Nor am I a robot that can just be switched on and off.  I am a wife and a lover, a mother and a teacher, a sister and a friend.  I am a child of God, an intelligent human being, a lover of all that is good.  I am a blogger, an inspirational book reader, a gluten-free baker and cook.  I am a movie critic, a ballerina at heart, a quiet yet quirky soul.  I am a seeker of truth, an often overwhelmed thinker, a half-done homemaker.  I am Me!

So, what IS a “Me Day?”

To me, a “Me Day” is a day in which I am truly myself.  A day that is filled with everything and everyone that I love.  When I get to the end of a “Me Day,” I have the feeling of calm confidence and accomplishment.  I will have gotten up early to take a shower and make a large breakfast (something I did not do today!)  I will have spent time in quiet prayer and devotion before my oldest heads off to school.  I will have spent time playing with my children, connecting with friends and family, and writing notes of encouragement to my husband.  I will have danced to at least one song.  I will have eaten balanced meals and taken a walk to the park with my children.  I will have spent time teaching my children something new and written an inspiring blog post.  In the evening, I will have made a healthy and delicious meal for dinner.  After dinner, my husband would have taken over the parenting for the day while I get out of the house.  At the end of the day, I am in bed by 9pm for time with my husband.  By 10:30pm, we have talked about our day and spent time praying and preparing for the next day.  That would be my “Me Day.”

DepressionMost of my days, however, I would not call “Me Days.”  Most of my days start out with me throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt.  I get out the cereal for everyone to eat and quickly read through a Bible verse.  I rush through my morning, fill the dishwasher, and start folding laundry.  My 5 yr old and 2 yr old watch educational television while I take care of the baby.  Once the baby goes down for a nap, I plop on the couch to watch TV with my kids.  After a morning inside, we eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and take naps.  Since I have not eaten healthy food or had any exercise so far, my energy level is low and I don’t feel like doing much.  I sit down at my computer and have nothing to blog about, so I spend an hour or two watching a show on Hulu or browsing the web.  The kids get up from naps and I’ve hit another low point.  With the kids energy levels at their highest and my energy level at it’s lowest, this causes tension.  I rush to get laundry and dishes put away before it’s time to start dinner.  Since I didn’t spend any time thinking about dinner, I only have enough time to make something simple and high in carbohydrates.  My husband comes home with no desire to take on the mess he sees and quickly heads for the couch after grabbing a couple bites of pasta.  Since the kids have had no outlet for their energy, we spend the evening trying to relax while yelling for the kids to stop jumping around.  We rush to get them in bed and calm them down.  Exhaustion sets in and we both fall asleep by 9:30pm before saying a word to each other.

Normally, after a day like that, it is hard to recover.  I quickly realize that turning myself off like that only makes me feel worse.  It does not refresh the body or the soul when you have a day like that.  In fact, being unhealthy, tired, and overwhelmed can lead to depression.  Not what I’m going for!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10

We were not created to work ourselves into the ground.  Nor were we created to sit around and do nothing all day.  God has created us to “do good works.”  Those good works generally involve being a servant to others.  If we are not serving others on a daily basis, then we are not being who God has created us to be.  That is how I see it.  If I’m not being who God created me to be, then I’m not being ME!  How can I have a “Me Day” when I’m not being who God has called ME to be?

Now, I have never asked my readers a real question before, and I’m not sure If anyone is even going to read this.  But, I’d like to know.  What does your “Me Day” look like?  Try to picture a day where you’d feel the most like yourself.  I would LOVE to encourage you to be who God has created you to be!

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Public School or Home School?

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Abigail and Eliza
2nd Gr and K-4

We’ve had a lot going on these past couple weeks.  It all started when my husband and I finally went on a long overdue date, thanks to our wonderfully gracious Mothers who offered to watch the kids for a few hours.  We were able to talk through many things that have been looming over our heads during the summer months.  One topic in particular was the topic of this year’s homeschooling curriculum.  I had been asking him for weeks to help me get things set in stone for our 7 year old to start 3rd Grade Math and 2nd Grade Reading, Writing, Science, and so on.  We had gone through most of her 2nd Grade workbooks last year, but we were interrupted by my husband’s new job and our newborn baby boy, Timmy.

My husband had been able to help with homeschooling up until March of this year when he started his job as a web developer for a new company and was no longer able to work from home twice a week.  I had especially been needing help since our baby boy, Timmy, was born in December of last year.  Plus, I’m not always on top of things when he’s not there cheering us on.  So, needless to say, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the upcoming 2012-2013 school year.  Our heads just weren’t in the game like they should be.

Our conversation began over a couple of mocha shakes around 7pm.  We knew it was going to be a long night, so coffee sounded like a good choice at the time.  We began talking about what our schedules were going to look like for the Fall Season.  My husband talked about his desire to improve his health and activity level and I expressed the same desire.  We talked about the time we would need to focus on that and added that into the schedule.  Then, we began discussing our spiritual health.  We both would be signing up for our separate small groups in addition to our Sunday morning meetings with another couple at our church.  These things were all added to the schedule. Add in the date nights and grocery shopping trips every week and we had a full schedule to say the least.  Plus, my husband decided then and there that he would be signing up for a History course at our area technical college!  Well, that would mean that he would be maxed out for time.

After taking a few good sips of our mocha shakes, we came to the topic of education for our children.  Since being married, we had always thought that homeschooling would be a great adventure and superior to any public school education.

Some things we thought homeschooling would offer:

  • Flexibility with schedule and curriculum
  • A closer relationship with our children
  • A faith-based alternative to public school curriculum
  • The ability to advance our children as we see fit
  • Giving our children one-on-one teaching
  • Allowing our children to take part in daily activities and chores
  • A superior education and learning experience

What we’ve now discovered that homeschooling offers (in addition to those listed above):

  • An often stressful environment for parents with many small children
  • Distractions are everywhere!
  • Organization is a MUST!
  • Learning can take place at any time, not just during the day
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Having Mom in your face every day doesn’t.
  • “… with many advisors they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.  Having more than one teacher is a good thing!
  • A superior education and learning experience may be hindered at home

After discussing our findings from the previous homeschooling year, we trudged on to our options for the upcoming school year.  It was already mid-August!  What could be done?  We reflected on our public school experience and the statistics for the schools in our area.  We knew that our children would be in good hands if we were to enroll them in the public elementary school close to our home.  Our county schools are known for educational excellence.  If we were living in the city, we would not even have considered enrolling them in a public school.  But, we love the county we live in and know many of the people in it.

Our conclusion?  Add “start 2nd grade at the local elementary school” on to the schedule for our 7 yr old and call it a night!

The weeks following our date night were busy to say the least.  My days have been filled with paper work, e-mails, and phone calls to the school.  I was able to get my 7 yr old, Abigail, enrolled in 2nd grade and couldn’t be happier about our decision.  Everyone at the school has been very helpful and Abigail is super duper excited to start school next week!  I will still be homeschooling my soon-to-be 5 yr old (on Sept. 7th) since I couldn’t get her enrolled in Kindergarten for this year.  She is sad, but I know she will work extra hard this year to prepare for Kindergarten next year.  She may even be able to skip right to 1st grade!  Not sure she’ll want to, though.

We’re all excited for Fall and look forward to a year filled with learning and growing!


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And the Winner is…

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Dean O. from Kirkland, WA, is our winner of two free bestselling Christian books!  Dean will receive his free books, “Sacred Marriage” and “Sacred Parenting,” for winning our blog contest for the month of June.  We will start another contest shortly, so subscribe to our blog posts to stay in the loop!

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Great Gifts for Dad!

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Time is almost up if you want to enter our free drawing for two free bestselling Christian books, “Sacred Marriage” and “Sacred Parenting.”

They would make great gifts for Dad!  Get it before Father’s Day by ordering now!  Or, enter our contest for a chance to get these inspiring books absolutely free!

CLICK HERE to find out more and enter our free contest, or just fill out the form below and submit!

*Contest ends June 15th

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Coincidence? I Think God!

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In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:6

Throughout our lives, we have seen God work in miraculous ways.  Some may say that they are coincidences or that we’re just lucky.  But, we know exactly Who is molding and shaping us as individuals, as a couple, and now as a family.  Our lives are a work of art.  They are expressions of God’s love and desire for us to be crafted into His image.  We’re not the type of Christian’s that go around telling people (or, even believe) that God will make your life perfect if you just follow Him.  In fact, we know from God’s Word that we will endure many sorrows and heartache in our lives.  But, as we’ve trusted Christ in all we do, there is an overwhelming sense of peace that follows.  When we’re sick, we are at peace.  When we’re poor, we are at peace.  When we are grieving a loss, we are at peace.  And, when my husband lost his job a few months ago, we were at peace.

I admit, there are times when I do not trust God.  Those are the dark times.  And, boy do I know it!  I can remember exact moments in my life when I was not trusting God.  I can tell you right now that those are the most depressing memories I have as a young adult.  I still go through times like that.  But, they are usually brief, because I know the cure!


God Moment #1: How We Met

The moments in our lives that are really God moments are truly amazing to us.  My first “God Moment” came when we were in high school.  I really really really wanted to be a part of the dance team at our school.  They were one of the best in the state, and I loved to dance.  I remember trying out for the team my freshman year and being devastated that I did not make it.  So, instead, I decided to try out for the school musical and the tennis team.  To my surprise, I was able to be a part of both!  This was a “God Moment” for me, because I didn’t have a very good singing voice and I wasn’t very good at tennis either.  I didn’t understand how I could be left out of something I was truly good at, but be welcomed with open arms into these two groups that I didn’t really fit into.  Later, I would meet my husband, Jesse, during rehearsal for the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.”  If I hadn’t been rejected from the dance team and accepted into the musical, I probably never would have really gotten to know Jesse.


God Moment #2: Location, Location, Location

6 months after we were married, Jesse and I moved to Nashville, TN, from our home in Wisconsin.  While working for a flooring company, Jesse pursued music in the evenings and on weekends.  6 months after that, we had our first child.  We had moved there to see if other Christian musicians with a passion for the Lord and for contemporary Christian music would surface to form a group with Jesse.  But, something happened after Abigail was born.  We started to experience a string of “bad luck.”  I can look back now and honestly say that the Lord was working during this “bad luck” streak.  Jesse had just found, what we thought was a job as a guitar teacher.  It turns out, it was more like a scam.  The music school “hired” him to teach children guitar in their homes.  What they failed to mention was that they only had a couple of children ready to start lessons.  It ended up being more of a business start-up where the teachers would only be paid hourly.  We found this out AFTER Jesse had quit his job at the flooring company.  It was all down hill from there.  As we prayed for guidance, the Lord slowly answered in unexpected ways.  Jesse couldn’t go back to work for the flooring company and he was having a hard time finding work, so he had to leave Abigail and me for a short time to go back to Wisconsin and work for his father.  We also ended up having to pay for a fender bender.  So, all of this set us back quite a bit.  We started to feel claustrophobic, as if our dreams were about to come crashing down on us.  Then, we started to reach out to family and friends back home.  This was the “God Moment” for me.  Jesse began talking to a few guys back home that expressed an interest in starting a band.  My family offered to take us in until we got back on our feet.  Jesse’s Dad offered him a job working in the family business.  And so, we found ourselves preparing to move back home.  God was calling us home and we just couldn’t ignore His calling.


God Moment #3: What Makes a House a Home?

After moving back to Wisconsin, we quickly began searching for a place to live.  We had a little motivation since we ended up having to move in with my parents, grandmother, and sister upon our swift return home.  When moving back from Nashville, we had just enough money to buy gas for the trip home.  So, we needed to find a temporary place to live until we got back on our feet.  My parents were gracious enough to welcome us into their already crowded home.  Needless to say, things weren’t easy, especially since we had our six month old baby girl with us.  It was a house to live in, but it was not our home.  We prayed for the Lord to provide an alternative to our chaotic living situation at that time.  Then, Jesse’s parents told us the news that their tenants living above them in their duplex where going to be moving out.  So, as soon as they moved out, we got to work getting the place ready for us to move in.  It was an answer to prayer!  We ended up living there for two years until we could afford to buy our own house.  Then, it happened!  God Moment #3 showed it’s face at just the right time.  Timing was EVERYTHING when it came to how we acquired our first house.  First, we had just paid off our credit card, so we had a $0 balance on that.  So, what does the credit card company do?  They send us an offer for a NO FEE, 1.99% balance transfer offer for the LIFE OF THE BALANCE.  This was truly a God send.  We still had about $12000 left to pay on our car loan with a minimum payment of $350/month.  With that high of a payment, we could not afford to buy a house.  But, after transferring the balance to the credit card, which lowered the interest rate and payment, we could now qualify for a $120,000 mortgage.  But, where would we find a house at that price in Ozaukee County where the going rate was $250,000?  Within weeks of transferring our car loan balance, I got a rather unexpected phone call.  My sister called to say that the elderly woman living next door to her had just been moved to a nursing home and her son would be putting the house up for sale.  She told me about an estate sale he would be having that weekend.  I knew what my sister and brother-in-law had paid for their house, so I thought there was no way we could afford to buy one right next door to them.  But, we decided to go to the estate sale anyway and talk to the owner’s son.  We walked around the house and realized that we may be able to get a good deal on the place.  It hadn’t been updated in years!  So, we asked him how much he was looking to get.  Without going through a real estate agent, we were able to get the house for $115,000!  Praise the Lord!  And, on top of that, we were GIVEN a down payment from a family member.  We would finally have the house we’d been wanting since moving back to Wisconsin.  Now, if we could just get these updates finished, it may finally look like a home.


God Moment #4: Get a Job or Start a Business?


We started off February of this year with high hopes.  Jesse was expected to get a raise after his two year mark as a web designer/developer.  Unfortunately, he not only didn’t get a raise, he was let go because of budget cuts.  On the plus side, the company gave him about three weeks to find a new job.  Time to start praying hard for some direction, we thought.  Then, Jesse came to me with an idea. “Why don’t I start my own business?” he asked.  Jesse had developed some business contacts and was confident he could keep the work rolling in.  So, we began to ask the Lord if that was the right thing to do.  After really really praying about it, we still didn’t feel ready to make a decision.  We didn’t know exactly what was holding us back.  We just didn’t feel the Lord leading us to commit to starting a business.  Until we were certain of what the Lord wanted for us, Jesse continued updating his resume and portfolio (  He applied for a couple of jobs and waited for a response.  Then, it happened!  God Moment #4 came in the form of an unexpected conversation on Facebook.  Jesse had just been called in for an interview and he was up late the night before doing some social networking.  One of his friends from college, that he rarely talks to, suddenly popped up to ask him a question.  “Do you know what [this] is?” he asked.  He was referring to some sort of software that I’m not familiar with.  Jesse responded, “No, what is it?”  At that point, his friend continued to explain what it was.  Jesse suddenly remembered from his friend’s description that he had come across that software before and indeed was knowledgable of it.  He just couldn’t remember what it was called until just then.  That was the end of the conversation.  Jesse went to bed that night asking the Lord to be with him during his interview the next day.  During the interview, he was only asked 4 questions.  One of them just happened to be about the very same software Jesse had discussed with his friend the night before.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!?  Just think, if he hadn’t had that conversation, he may have sounded like an idiot to the guy interviewing him.  For all we know, that was the question that put him at the top of their list.  He was offered the job within 20 minutes of walking out the door!  After that, we were certain of what direction the Lord was leading us in.  Praise the Lord!


Unfortunate Circumstances

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

I did not want to be rejected from the dance team.  I did not want to go broke and move back in with my parents.  I did not want to wait to have our own house.  And, I certainly did not want my husband to lose his job.  Those were all unfortunate circumstances that lead to amazing moments that I would like to call “God Moments.”  They are moments that remind you Who is in control.  They are moments that remind you not to be anxious about anything.  They are moments that remind you to give thanks in all circumstances, even the unfortunate ones.  You may just come to realize that they’re not so unfortunate after all.

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Enter to Win Two Free Bestselling Christian books by Gary Thomas!


I will be giving away, absolutely free, two amazing books by Gary Thomas.  My husband and I are currently reading through “Sacred Marriage” and have recently attended a Sunday school class based on the book “Sacred Parenting.”  I discovered these books at the perfect time in my life.  I was just beginning to think to myself, “What are the things that make marriage and children a blessing?  Why are blessings such a burden sometimes?”  I love my husband and I love my children.  These books helped me to discover God’s plan for marriage and parenting in a new and fresh way.  I now see my struggles in my marriage and within parenting as a blessing now more than ever.
I would love to be able to send all of you a free copy of these books.  Unfortunately, we don’t quite have the funds for that (bummer!)  So, this giveaway will be part of our giving for the month of May.  I hope that even if you do not win these free books, you will seek them out in your church library or purchase a used copy for a couple dollars.


Book #1 – Sacred Marriage

What if God designed marriage to make us holy instead of happy?

Scores of books have been written that offer guidance for building the marriage of your dreams. Yet, what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy? And, what if your relationship isn’t as much about you and your spouse as it is about you and God? In this popular bestselling book, Gary Thomas uncovers how your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God and each other. You will learn how to:

  • Turn marital struggles into spiritual and personal appreciation.
  • Love your spouse with a stronger sense of purpose.
  • Partner in the spiritual growth and character formation of your spouse.
  • Transform a “tired” marriage into a relationship filled with awe and respect.

Book #2 – Sacred Parenting

How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls

Parenting is a school for spiritual formation—and our children are our teachers. Instead of discussing how parents can change their kids, Gary Thomas turns the tables and demonstrates how God uses our kids to change us. You’ll be encouraged by stories that tell how other parents handled the challenges and difficulties of raising a godly family. Grow closer to Christ and your children as you learn to:?

  • Freely enjoy your kids for who they are.
  • Build a closer, grace-based family.
  • Reduce the pressure felt for your kids to turn out perfect.
  • Manage anger and negative responses towards your child’s behavior.
  • Increase your sense of worth and respect as a parent.

Fill out the form below to enter our giveaway.  The winner of these free, brand new, paperback books will be chosen at random on June 15th and will be notified by e-mail.  The books will be shipped by by the end of June.

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