Learning to be Content With a Well-loved Home

A friend once told me, “You know, Lisa, I don’t think God is going to let you get rid of that blue carpet until you’re thankful for it.”

Nineteen years ago we came to town for a weekend to buy a house. We looked at thirteen, narrowed it to three, and then chose our house. Russ and I are slow decisions makers, so buying a house in a weekend still stands as one of our most decisive moments.

As we walked through the house admiring it, I said, “I love the house, but this blue carpet has to go.”

Never, let me repeat, never say words like that. God was giving me a great house on eight acres in a nice town – a big change from our current home. That’s what I should have focused on.

We had six children when we moved in, and with no wiggle room in our budget, the carpet stayed. I figured in a few years I would get my dream of pulling out the carpet and replacing it with hardwood to match the rest of the main floor.

Then in 2006, we began the journey of adopting four children over a span of 17 months. We were spread thin in every possible way: time, money, energy. As we were plunged into the realities of parenting children with early trauma, all that wasn’t absolutely essential was stripped away.

Our days were focused on safety and security for everyone in our family. It took all I had to care for the physical and emotional needs of the kids. Putting dinner on the table was a test in perseverance most days. Going to the grocery store was nearly impossible.

The financial strain of meeting the special needs of so many kids felt like it might pull us under. And darn it, did I mention we value being debt-free? We couldn’t put new floors on a credit card.

Life comes into sharp focus in the face of trials. Things I once thought were important, like the appearance of my home, became far less significant as we faced the needs of our family.

Concerns about the color of our carpet, the age of our cars, the style of our clothes slipped all the way down to the bottom of our list of priorities.

That blue carpet saw it all: babies, potty training, house training a puppy, sickness, and even the gallon of milk that exploded when I dropped it while carrying groceries into the house.

It was even worse than it looked, which is saying something, and I knew it.

As 2019 begins, we only have three children still living at home; it’s strangely quiet. We’re not buried in as many needs as we once were.

Our well-loved home has grown a little shabby over the decades.  The finish has worn off the high traffic areas of the wood floors in the kitchen. The original 1920’s red fir in the entryway has so many splinters I’ve kept a rug over it to protect our feet.

It’s finally time to take care of the floors.

Last Sunday we moved everything (including the refrigerator) from our main floor into one room. Monday the crew arrived and the project began. We’ve already run into a significant complication with the discovery of wet subfloor due to water leaking through an exterior wall. Nothing is simple!

What have I learned from this?

1. Contentment and gratitude are essential.

2. Debt weighs us down; very few things are worth it.

3. Sometimes we just have to wait – even if it’s 19 years with a not-so-loved carpet.

4. In the waiting, Pinterest is not your friend.

Discontentment takes up precious energy which no parent has in excess.

Thinking over and over again about something we can’t have, steals joy and gives nothing in return.

Did I ever become truly thankful for the old, blue carpet? I’d like to think so; although as with many other things, it’s been a back and forth tug-of-war in my heart.

I can say with certainty, I’m hugely thankful to own a home, however imperfect, where I can love my family and welcome our friends.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  1 Timothy 6:6-8

Contentment is essential, my friends. Work on it. Catch yourself when you want to grumble and complain. Choose gratitude every time – write it down to remind yourself.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.


A Joyful, Beautiful, Thankful Start to 2017

2017 is my year for Completion and Restoration. What will that look like for me? What are my goals?

Monday I reflected on my goals for 2016 and whether I was successful (or not) completing them. If I allow myself a good measure of grace, I accomplished quite a bit in a very hard year.

It’s more difficult to give words to my goals this year, maybe because it feels very important. It’s a pivot year of sorts.


1.  Complete | Russ and I have a long list of unfinished projects to examine. Some will make it on our list to be completed while others will be permanently crossed off as we determine they no longer hold value. Tasks range from small and fun (spend gift cards we’ve had for years), to long and challenging (finish building the patio and Kalkidan’s garden). As you can imagine, some projects also have emotional weight.

My 2016 Goals – How Did I Do?

I set six goals for 2016. They weren’t resolutions or hard and fast determinations, they were simply goals.

I’m writing this on the final morning of 2016 sitting in my nearly dark living room in front of the Christmas tree. As much as I love it, the tree is coming down today; I need to start the new year with Christmas packed away and a fresh start.

This is the perfect time to reflect on my goals – how did I do?

[p.s. Don’t miss the wonderful giveaway at the end of the post!]

End-of-December-3005 x 1999

These goals were not set out of sheer determination or a desperate need to change. I wanted more joy and set them with that in mind.

My 2016 Goals

1. Read the Bible in a year. | I completed it this morning! I was on course until October when I got completely out of my routine. It was a struggle to catch up, especially when I got bogged down in Ezekiel, but I made a plan and did it. I nearly cried this morning when I finished. You hefty Bible readers will not see this as significant, but I’ve had a hard time sticking with this goal in the past. The free She Reads Truth app gave me the structure to be successful.

2. Healthy and happy weight. | I didn’t set a number, I only wanted to be healthier and happier. It’s very vulnerable to write about weight and body issues, so I never do; I have a lifelong struggle between self-acceptance and self-discipline. For some real wisdom on this topic, please read Anne Lamott’s recent facebook post. I was going to keep this goal on my list for 2017 but decided to broaden it to be more generally health focused as I continue to learn more about what makes my body feel strong, gives me good energy, and allows me to sleep well. [note: I also never write about weight because it’s not my main purpose here and I don’t want to distract or discourage anyone. I want to bless and encourage. Read Anne Lamott – she has so much good to say.]

3. Complete my book. | My book is as complete as it can be at this point – editing and small tasks remain, but I believe it will be published in 2017, and I cannot wait to tell you more about it. I had a couple of important meetings in December and another coming up in January. Things are looking good, so although it is not completed, I’m satisfied with my progress on this goal. It stays on my list for 2017.

4. Reestablish regular exercise in my life. | I was a runner (a very slow runner) for thirty years – starting and stopping and starting again through seven pregnancies, multiple autoimmune crises, surgeries, and many challenges. Then I got shingles and after a long recovery, I didn’t start running again; I lost my routine completely. Two years ago we had the accident and I was thankful just to be walking. I am very grateful to say, with the encouragement of Russ and my FitBit (last year’s Christmas gift from our kids), I’m outside most days getting 10,000 steps. With the current snow and ice, the treadmill and Netflix are my companions.

5. Prayerfully plan further education, pursuing a career, or developing writing as my profession. | I chose writing. I made some false starts, like trying a team blog, which didn’t work out. Now I have decisions to make about staying where I am as Thankful Moms or going back to One Thankful Mom, which is who I was as a blogger, for so many years. In 2017 I’ll develop my writing even further, with the first book (started so long ago), the Giving Voice to Siblings book (which is on my mind and heart!) and possibly some ebooks and other resources.

6. Declutter the garage.| I got this 75% completed and was feeling pretty good. I had visions of my car parked in the garage for the first time ever. Then one of our big kids moved and some furniture was stored in the garage. We started a home project and Russ needed to haul supplies in our big van, so three (big, heavy) van seats and more equipment were put in the garage. Before I knew it, all of my work was lost.

It grew more complicated when Samuel moved to Portland and his apartment full of furniture was temporarily put in the garage, then Russ’ parents’ property was sold and more things were added to the garage.

Of all of my goals, this one was a complete failure, and also the one I have the least control over. This time, when I declutter it again, I’m parking my car in it immediately and giving away/selling excess furniture. Clutter is toxic and brings me to tears. This goal stays on the list for 2017.

So, how did I do?

It’s tempting to say I didn’t do very well, but if I were speaking kindly to myself, as I would to a friend, I would look at the positives.

I accomplished the most important goal of all, which was more of God’s Word in my life. I needed that more than anything else.

I made positive changes for my health, which becomes even more important as we age. Most (almost) 53-year-old women don’t have elementary age children and have more time to focus on themselves. Some of our friends are actually empty-nesters – I can’t even imagine. They aren’t cooking dinner for six kids and don’t have teen daughters baking cookies on a regular basis. God had a different plan for my life, so I need to give this more thought and planning as I move into a critical time of caring for my health. With exercise once again part of my routine, I feel much stronger and healthier than I did last year January when I was one-year post-accident.

While my book is not yet published, I completed all I could while other details fell into place. I have every reason to hope it will be published in 2017.

I made the decision to continue writing rather than pursue a different career path. While some of my attempts didn’t work out, I took a chance and tried something new, which took courage and I learned a lot in the process.

Lastly, my grand decluttering attempt failed, but I refuse to accept defeat. Clutter affects my mental health – seriously. I have to keep trying.

Today we’ll take down the tree, pack away the decorations, and clean the house.

Tomorrow will be a new year with new hopes, dreams, and goals.

This weekend I’ll begin writing my goals in the moleskin journal I use for important lists, quotes, sermon notes, thoughts, counseling notes, books I’ve read, and everything else important.

I’ll share my goals, at least the ones I figure out, with you in my next post.

Photo Jan 01, 11 45 43 AM

I can’t wait to start my Line a Day Journal ,which just arrived yesterday (hint: it’s one of my goals), and I have some special news for you! I accidentally ordered two for Claire, so I have one extra journal to give away!

[EDIT: 1-4-17 The give-away is CLOSED. The winner is Krista! Thank you, friends!]

You have two chances to win a Line a Day Journal.

1 | Subscribe to my friends-letter, a short, somewhat more personal note I send to your inbox most weekends.

2 | Share the giveaway by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter or some other social media site.

Leave a comment on this post (not Facebook – it’s difficult to keep track of entries in multiple places) telling me how you are entering. If you subscribed and shared, leave two separate comments.

I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning and pop it in the mail that day so you can get started right away. My most sincere apologies, but I can only mail this to a winner in the U.S.

Happy New Year, friend, I look forward to sharing 2017 with you.




Preparing for the New Year

I hope your Christmas was wonderful. How did your kids do with the lack of routine, too much sugar, and the excitement of presents?

Christmas morning

We were up very late Christmas eve with Russ and Isaiah arriving home from the airport at 1:00 AM.  Thankfully, the roads weren’t too snowy and Russ only had to drive a little slower than normal.

Christmas morning was fun, with lots of coffee, good food, laughter, and patience as everyone opened presents one at a time. It took many hours, with breakfast eaten between opening stockings (filled by siblings), and gifts under the tree.

To my great delight, we finished hanging ornaments on the Jesse tree as we read the Christmas story during breakfast.

Later in the day, Russ and the kids built a HUGE igloo in the backyard; I’ll post pictures on Instagram and Facebook.

It’s especially wonderful having our big kids here. Samuel is in town until the 28th and Isaiah until the 29th. Noah is on break between med school rotations until after the New Year. I’m very thankful.

Our foster daughter, Zoe, is visiting her family for several days at a local hotel with a very nice pool, so we’re heading there later today to let the kids swim and play together. She has two younger sisters who will have fun swimming with the boys.

I’ll be writing posts wrapping up 2016 and moving into 2017, but I want to share three things now just in case you want to join me and need a little time to prepare.

1. She Reads Truth | One of my goals last year was to read the entire Bible in one year. I am very happy to say, with the help of a free app from She Reads Truth, I’m going to accomplish my goal! If you’re interested in reading the Bible in a year, find it in the app store now so you’re ready to go on January 1st. She Reads Truth also has other Bible reading plans for a small fee of $2-$3.

[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

2. One Line a Day Journal | I’m very excited to start this journal on New Year’s Day. Each space has room for one or two sentences for the given day, and each page is divided into five sections, so the daily entry appears five times over five years. It’s easier to show than explain.

line a day journal

I gave one to Hannah five years ago and she has kept it, more or less, the entire time. I have never successfully kept a journal (ironic, I know), but I think I can manage one line a day. Want to join me? You can use this Amazon link to order if you like.



3. Five Minute Journal | My friend, Signe, used this app last year to chronicle her family’s life. I decided to give it a try. $4.99. If you hate to write, you can simply do one photo a day, or you can add three “I am grateful for,” or “3 Amazing things that happened today”.

Lastly, I have a guest post on the fabulous site, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, How Parenting Children From Hard Places Can be Blessings in Disguise.

I hope you’re enjoying your family. Tomorrow is a hard day for our family; if you think of us, please hold us in prayer.

Many blessings to you, friend.


2017 – You’re Coming Soon


view Montana mountain

I have a post in the works about my goals (not resolutions) for 2016 and how I’ve done – or how I’m doing in the case of some of them. I still have two weeks to go, friends!

But my mind and heart are moving quickly toward the hopeful newness of 2017.

Weeks ago I wrote that 2017 is going to be a year of Completion and Restoration. That wasn’t just a blog post – God is speaking this to us. These words are with me every day; Russ and I talk about them as we look toward the new year.

I have changes coming for my blog, more writing and other work-related projects, my family (Zoe will go home in the coming months), many unfinished home and farm projects.

My first tiny goal is to figure out how to write a newsletter to you. Jennifer had that task, and I know it’s simple, she showed me once, but it’s one more thing to learn. I also have to redesign the graphic at the top of the blog. These tech-related tasks bring me to tears.

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, I’ll be even more motivated to follow through if you do. I plan to email this more personal letter to you most weekends.

Please sign up for my newsletter so I know this is a worthy task.

All the experts tell me I’m supposed to offer you something fabulous in return, like an ebook, but I don’t know how to do that yet! So, if you would be so kind to simply encourage me, I would be grateful.

[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

And just because it deserves mentioning, if you didn’t see it on my Facebook page, Amazon has a great Deal of the Day on my favorite sound machine. I love it and have one in every bedroom of our house.

Have a fabulous Friday.