Monday, February 21, 2022

How to Budget for Operation Christmas Child Boxes

For years, we’ve been packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Seriously, this is one of our favorite Christmas traditions!! Even before Jon and I had kids, we were packing shoeboxes full of presents and sending them to children around the world.

This year, National Collection Week is November 14th-21st, 2022.

Sometimes when life is busy, I forget to shop ahead of time. This can be hard on our budget, because it means you have to shop for everything necessary for our Operation Christmas Child boxes right before the holidays. Therefore, adding several huge expenses on top of each other during October, November, and December.

Unfortunately, that’s what happened last year, which was challenging. After talking to my husband, we agreed it was important to try and spread this expense out throughout the entire year and try to buy a little bit each month for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. That being said, I was determined to sit down and make a list about what I need to buy each month.

God really answered my prayers and gave me some great ideas!! Throughout the year, I will shop for supplies and keep them in a big box in my basement. Then, in November when it’s time to pack our boxes, my girls will choose goodies from my stash for their own Operation Christmas Child boxes. Below, I’ve listed some additional ideas about, how to budget for your Operation Christmas Child supplies.

How to Budget for Operation Christmas Child Boxes 

1. Decide How Many Boxes You Want to Pack. In order to know how many supplies I need to buy throughout their year, it’s important to know how many boxes we will be packing in November. This year, our plan is to pack 5 boxes, which will let each of my girls have a chance to pack a box. As a result, while I am shopping throughout the year I buy 5 of each item.  

2. Make a List of Supplies You Need. If you visit Samaritan’s Purse’s website, they have great age appropriate lists to help you know what to pack in your child’s box. You will need to buy a plastic shoebox, which you can get at Walmart or you can buy boxes from Samaritan’s Purse’s website. Typically, I pack the following items in our boxes… toothbrushes, a ball, markers, pens, washcloths, notepad, stickers, a book, a small lego or doll, a brush, hair ties, matchbox cars, socks, bandaids, and chapstick.

3. Shop From What You Have. Once I have my list, I go through my house and shop from what I have first. This is an important principle I live by and it helps me to use what I have first before buying something new. There are many items that I usually already have on hand, like toothbrushes, pens, markers, and notepads. Whatever I’m able to find, I check it off my list and put it in my big box of supplies in the basement.

4. Breakup Remaining Items, Decide What to Buy Each Month. After shopping throughout your own house, breakup the remaining items and decide what to buy each month. You can do it by category or what happens to be on sale during different months throughout the year. For example, if I need school supplies I will buy them in July and August when they’re on sale. Also, you don’t have to buy the most expensive supplies either, so be sure to stop by The Dollar Tree or at Goodwill if other stores seem too expensive.

5. Pack and Donate Your Boxes. After buying all your supplies, you will be ready to pack your individual boxes. You can write notes to your child and even include a picture of yourself or your family!! Don’t forget to pay for the shipping cost for each of your boxes online and put the label on the outside of each box. Finally, they’re ready to be donated to an Operation Christmas Child Drop Off location!!

6. Save Extra Supplies for Next Year. Last year, I ended up with extra supplies and shoe boxes. I kept them in a big box in my basement and I plan to use them this year. Anything to help me save money or possibly be able to pack more boxes than last year.

I hope this has been helpful!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Homeschool Planning: Preparing my Upcoming Homeschool Year (Part 1)


I’m so excited to be kicking off a two part series called, “Homeschool Planning” and it will have two parts!! Part one, will be all about how I prepare for my upcoming homeschool year, so a more broad type of planning and preparation. Part two, will include a much more detailed look at how I plan out my curriculum for a new school year and break things out for each school week.

Let’s jump right in!!

I’m a homeschooling Mom to five girls. I have a 4th grader, 3rd grader, 1st grader, and twin 3 year olds!! I started teaching my oldest in preschool, which means I’ve been homeschooling for 6 years now. The first few years were the hardest, because I was never homeschooled and had a big learning curve. However, God was faithful to patiently teach  me what I needed for each specific year. 

Today, I’m going to share the broad ways I begin to prepare for an upcoming school year. I will be sharing about how I pray for our upcoming school year to begin ready to order new curriculum. My favorite!! These aren’t hard and fast rules about what you need to do, but simply my process. I hope you will find this helpful as you begin to prepare for your own upcoming school year.

5 Ways to Prepare for Your Upcoming Homeschool Year

1. Pray for wisdom. I use the Val Marie Paper Prayer Journal to keep track of my monthly prayer requests. I have one section labeled, “Homeschool” so I can have a place to write down prayer requests for a particular month. My main prayer request is wisdom about our curriculum. Seriously, this is so important!! I also pray to have a zeal and excitement for homeschooling. As I pray, I begin to catch a vision for upcoming homeschool. Our lives are far from perfect, but God has been faithful to answer my prayers!!

2. Write down ideas. I use the notes app on my phone to jot down ideas about our upcoming school year. Currently, I have a note called, “2022-2023 Homeschool”, and I created in back in July 2021 after we began our current school year. This note is very helpful to me, because I can write down ideas for next year without having to commit to anything. Additionally, it helps me remember all my ideas and see what things will work for our upcoming school year. 

3. Choose a curriculum. Typically, around January or February, in a very broad sense, I begin to decide on our main curriculum for the upcoming school year. Both, in my mind and in my notes app. Don’t forget, nothing is set in stone and God might lead you to make some changes down the road. However, making these overall curriculum choices early on helps me to have time to go through my own books to use what I have, order new curriculum and books, and buy other supplies before we start our next school year.

4. Use books you already have. It’s important to go through what I already have and this is a principle I live by in most areas of my life!! Deciding on curriculum early on gives me a chance to go through what I already have to set books and other supplies aside for our upcoming school year. I have a big plastic box full of all my incredible finds sitting in our school room!! Additionally, this process will help you save money!!

5. Order new curriculum. Once I have gone through my own bookshelves, I make a list of the main curriculum and books we will need to order. I also make lists for each of my girls of the individual curriculum each of them will need for the coming year. Again, planning early lets me have time to wait until books or curriculum go on sale to buy them. It also gives me time to order new curriculum, check it out and return it if I don’t like it. Seriously, I love curriculum, so as the boxes of curriculum begin to arrive it feels like Christmas morning to me!! 

I hope this was helpful!! Please let me know if you have any questions. In the near future, I will write the next blog post in this series.

Monday, February 7, 2022

My 2022 Mom’s Morning Basket


A few years ago, I shared all about, “My Mom’s Morning Basket”. Today, I thought it would be fun to share an updated blog post all about what is currently in my Mom’s morning basket, because somethings are the same and some are new!!

I bought my Mom’s morning basket on sale at Hobby Lobby!! It has sat in the corner of my for almost 2 years!! Depending on the season of my life, my basket will be more full than other times. Every month or so, I try to go through my basket to purge it of unnecessary things, which can easily accumulate in my basket if I’m not careful. Thankfully, I just went through my basket as we kicked off the New Year, so it’s the perfect time to share all about my 2022 Mom’s Morning Basket!!

Below, is a list of what’s in my morning basket. I will go through each item and tell you how I use it. If I can find it, I will include a link for each item, so if you’re interested you can learn more about that specific item or buy one for yourself.

 What’s in My 2022 Mom’s Morning Basket?

1. My ESV Thinline Bible 

I love this Bible!! I bought it on sale at Lifeway in Texas back in April 2013. Thankfully, it fits in my purse perfectly and not too bulky to bring when I’m traveling. Even though, many of my girls have drawn in my Bible, I can’t bring myself to use anything else!! My good friend taught me to label those precious scribbles, which I have done and they’re too important to use something else. 

2. 2022 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets 

Every year, I purchase the Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets. They’re a goal planner which help me focus on the things that truly matter to me. Each month, I fill out a tending list of things I want to work on that month. My Powersheets live in my Mom’s basket, which make it easier for me to check off tasks as I complete them!!

Click here for more details about My 2022 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets.

3. Give Me Jesus Journal

For more in depth Bible study, I use the beautiful Give Me Jesus Journal from Well-Watered Women Co. In the Bible study section, there is space to write out your gratitude, scripture, what you’re learning about God, how this changes the way you live, and prayers. There are two additional sections: Jot it Down and Prayers and Praises. If you don’t need the extra sections, they also have a simplified Give Me Jesus Journal that’s just has the Bible study pages. 

4. Spiral Lined Journal

I’m currently using a pretty journal I got last year for my birthday!! I use this lined journal to write my sermon notes in each week at church. If I have a chance, I also use it to write out prayers to Jesus about what we did on a specific day. Just more of a generic journal.

5. Cultivate What Matters: Write the Word Cultivate Forgiveness

Being a Mom of 5 kids, means I don’t always have a lot of time for in depth Bible study. For this reason, I love the Write the Word journals from Cultivate What Matters. I’ve used these for years, because they let me spend as much time with Jesus as I have to give on a specific day. It’s just two pages which includes space to write what I’m grateful for, the Bible verse for that day, what’s on my heart, and my word for the day. I’m currently working through the Cultivate Forgiveness, which has been good!

6. Val Marie Paper 2022 Rhythms Prayer Journal 

For years, I always wanted something to use to keep track of all the things I want to pray about each day. I was so excited to discover the Val Marie Paper Rhythms Prayer Journal!! God has used this tool to help grow my prayer life so much!! Each month I can write out my prayer requests and easily remember for whom I need to pray.

7. Cultivate What Matters: Intentional Action Card Deck Wellness

This is a new product from Cultivate What Matters!! It’s full of beautiful cards, which prompt me to work on my wellness one small step at a time. So far, I’ve really enjoyed them!!

8. Lots of fun pens, pencils, and goal setting sticker book!!

I have a pink Yoobi Pencil Organizer filled with highlights, pens, pencils, and the Cultivate What Matters: Goal Sticker Book. Personally, it’s more fun to use pretty pens and stickers while I work through my Bible study and other journals. 

Now it’s your turn, do you have a Mom’s morning basket? If so, what’s in it?

Thursday, February 3, 2022

2022 Word of the Year

“Hope is called the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19) because it gives stability to the Christian life. But hope is not simply a ‘wish’ (I wish that such-and-such would take place); rather, it is that which latches on to the certainty of the promises of the future that God has made.” - RC Sproul

Last month, I wrote a blog post all about, “My 2022 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets” and I told you my word of the year: HOPE!! Honestly, I’m so excited to share more about this with you all today.

Every year, I pray about my word of the year and ask God to show me which word I should focus on in the coming year. God uses lots of different ways to speak to me such as; sermons, His Word, worship songs, and other books I’m reading. This year was no different!!! At the beginning of the process, I had lots of different options for my word of the year. However, over several weeks the Lord kept speaking one main word to me HOPE!!

Webster’s definition of hope says, “to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment”.

One of the first verses God used to reveal the idea of hope to me are 1 Timothy 1:12-17, a few of the verses say…

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” 

- 1 Timothy‬ ‭1:15-16‬

The reason Jesus came to the world was to give hope!! Paul was the “chief sinner” and so am I!! However, God wants to work through my brokenness and redeem the trials in my life. Life is challenging, but Jesus is my HOPE.

Simply put…

Our struggles + Jesus = HOPE

Additionally, I’ve learned, the biblical Hebrew word for hope, yachal, means “to wait”, wait, hope, patient waiting, longing, so far disappointing but still hoping and waiting. Some of the verses, use this word are Psalm 69:3 and Lamentations 3:24. 

“I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” 

- Psalm 69:3

“The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." 

- Lamentations 3:24

During each of my pregnancies, I spent time praying over my precious baby asking God to give me a verse for the new life inside me!! The Lord was faithful to answer my prayers and give me a “life verse” for each of my children. As it turns out, Evelyn’s life verse is Lamentations 3:22-24!!

Seriously!! The same verse God showed me regarding hope, is the exact verse God had given to me almost 4 years ago when I was pregnant with the twins!! It’s incredible to watch the Lord continue to confirm my word of the year, with another powerful word He has given me in the past. 

This gives me goosebumps!! I’m so thankful to the Lord for answering my prayers. 

Now it’s your turn, what’s your word of the year?

Book Recommendations:

Unshakable Hope” by, Max Lucado

Hope in the Dark” by, Greg Groeschel

“Notice the word ‘hope” (in Psalm 62:5). The Hebrew term literally means “a cord, as an attachment.’ Every one of us is hanging on to something or someone for security. ... if it’s someone or something other than God alone, you’re hanging on by a thread – the wrong thread.” - Beth Moore

Monday, January 10, 2022

My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2021


Back in 2020, I shared a blog post called “Cultivating a Love for Reading” where I talked about my struggles with reading. You see, I’ve always loved books, but I have never been a good reader. To this day, I’m still a pretty, slow reader. In my previous post, I went on to share about how I’ve never been a good reader, but I decided to try to grow my love of reading through baby steps. It’s taken a lot of practice, but in an answer to my prayers, God is growing my love of reading each day!! I’m so thankful!!

All that to say, I was so surprised when I checked my GoodReads app, to discover how many books I read last year. A grand total of 377 books!! Just to clarify, my total is so high, because it includes adult fiction and non-fiction books, picture books, school books, and young adult fiction I pre-read for my girls. Most of the adult books, I listened to on audiobook which was helpful, because I could listen to my book while making dinner, walking, or working on a puzzle. As you can see, I used my wireless headphones so much, now they’re broken. Every year, I’ve grown into a more avid reader and I couldn’t be more proud of this accomplishment last year!! 

Honestly, I had the privilege of reading a lot of incredible books last year!! I’ve done my best to narrow this list down to my top 10 favorite books I read in 2021. 

These aren’t in any particular order…

My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2021

1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by, Delia Owens

2. “The Nightingale” by, Kristin Hannah

3. “The Well Watered Woman” by Gretchen Saffles

4. “Risen Motherhood” by Emily Jensen

5. “The Call of the Wild and Free” by, Ainsley Arment 

6. “Dear Mr. Knightley” by, Katherine Reay

7. “Creativity, Inc” by, Ed Catmull

8. “Welcome Home” by, Myquillyn Smith

9. “The Librarian of Saint-Malo” by, Mario Escobar

10. “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11” by, Garrett M. Graff 

*Bonus Reread* 

“The Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling


Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing my favorite reread of last year, which was “The Harry Potter” series by, J.K. Rowling. I listened to the audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale and they were incredible. I had forgotten just how much I love these books. 

Now it’s your turn!! What are some of your favorite books you read last year? Have you read any of my favorites? If so, what did you think about them?

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

My 2022 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets


For the past 5 years, I’ve used the Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets Intentional Goal Planner. In honor of their 10 year anniversary of Powersheets, the Cultivate What Matters team outdid themselves with some incredible Powersheets cover choices!! I went back an forth between green, teal, natural linen, and blooms. Seriously, it was hard for me to pick just one. As a result, I chose their anniversary green color, which is in honor of my upcoming 20 year high school reunion!! They’re just so beautiful!! 


This year, my word of the year is HOPE!! God has been teaching me so much about this word, I’ve decided to write it all out in more detail in an upcoming blog post coming. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.


At this time, these are my goals for the New Year 2022!! Thankfully, Cultivate What Matters gives you the opportunity to work through a refresh every 90 days. As a result, if I find the Lord leading me toward new goals I can adjust accordingly. I’m so thankful these aren’t set in stone!!

1. Spend time with God

2. Love Jon well 

3. Delight in my girls

4. Renew my health

5. Cultivate my love of writing

6. Recapture the joy in my life 


Lara Casey and her team at Cultivate What Matters have a lot of resources to help walk with you as you work to accomplish your goals each year. Lara has even written two books (which I will list below) and she also has a podcast called, “Cultivating Your Life with Lara Casey”. Finally, I have included a list of helpful, motivating books. I included Lara’s books and a few others that have really encouraged me this year.

“A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living” by, Emily Ley

“Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life” by, Lara Casey

“Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy” by Emily Ley

“Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose.” by, Lara Casey


In the past, I’ve written blog posts about Powersheets. As a result, I included links to posts which have additional information about Powersheets and how I have used them over the years. Click links to see previous blog posts about my Powersheets!!

My 2021 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets 

My 2020 Cultivate What Matters: Powersheets

Leaning into Jesus

My Mom’s Morning Basket

Cultivate What Matters: My 2019 Goals


Thursday, August 19, 2021

2021-22 Homeschool Curriculum Choices


On Monday, July 19, we kicked off our 2021-22 school year. We’ve gotten in the habit of starting school in July and this year wasn’t any different. My husband is training for his new job, so while he was in training we could work on school. As he has breaks, we will be able to take time off as well and enjoy some extra family time. Honestly, this is still one of the main reasons why we homeschool. Every family is different, but this is what is working best for us right now.

As you will see below, we made several changes to our curriculum. I spend a lot of time praying about our curriculum and I consider it a great responsibility to be my children’s educator. I want to honor the Lord and my children in this calling God has placed on my life. Thankfully, we were able to attend a homeschool conference in June and see a lot of these curriculums in person, before making our final decisions. Below you can find links to the different curriculum we’re using this year.

Without further ado, here are our curriculum choices for our brand new school year.


2020-21 Homeschool Curriculum Choices 

When it comes to teaching my large family, I try to have as many group subjects as possible. Currently, our family does Family Devotions, Memory Verses, Bible, History, Literature/Read-Alouds, and Science together. We’re not using Sonlight this year and instead God lead us to use Generations curriculum for a lot of our family subjects. Also, we’re using The Good and the Beautiful Geology for one science unit and switching to Generations science.

Family Devotions & Memory Verse: Generations The Book of Proverbs devotional and workbook and memorizing Proverbs 1
Bible: Generations God’s Big Story #2 with student workbook
History: Generations The Story of Jesus’s People, with student workbook
Literature/Read-Alouds: Generations Level 1 Read Alouds, additional read alouds from Sonlight, and picture books
Science: The Good and the Beautiful Geology and Generations God Made Everything with workbook


4th GRADE: Olivia
How can she already be in 4th grade!? She’s a little bookworm and I can’t wait to see how she does this school year.   

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful Level 4
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting T
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Book 1
Math: Math-U-See Epsilon and The Good and the Beautiful Musical Multiplication
Typing: The Good and the Beautiful Typing 2
Readers: Sonlight Grade 4 Readers
Other: Victory Drill, Metronome Practice, and Piano Lessons


3rd GRADE: Sophie
Sophie’s looking forward to starting 3rd grade. She loves building Legos and I’m excited to see her thrive in school this year.

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Level 2 
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting T
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Books B & C
Math: Math-U-See Epsilon and The Good and the Beautiful Musical Multiplication
Typing: The Good and the Beautiful Typing 2
Readers: Sonlight Grade 3 Readers
Other: Victory Drill, Metronome Practice, and Piano Lessons


1st GRADE: Matilda
Last school year, Matilda learned to how to read!! It’s been exciting to watch her take off and become an avid reader.r

Language Arts:The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Level 1
Handwriting: The Good and the Beautiful Handwriting Level 1
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise Book A
Math: Mat-U-See Beta
Readers: Sonlight Grade 1 Readers 
Phonics: Explode the Code Level 4, 5, and 6


TODDLER  TWINS: Evelyn & Zoey
Homeschooling with toddler twins is still challenging. I try my best to keep them occupied with a variety of fun activities like puzzles, books, coloring, a cardboard castle, shapes, and so much more! If we don’t complete all of our schoolwork, I wait until the twins nap time to play catch up and get everything else done. Honestly, I could probably do an entire blog post just about this, so let me know if you’re interested.


For more information, here are the links to the homeschool curriculum we are using this school year.
- Generations
- Sonlight
- The Good and the Beautiful 
- Rainbow Resource
- Read Aloud Revival

Please let me know if you have any other questions about homeschooling.


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