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May 4, 2013
The past 9 months have been an incredible, growing experience for me … much like carrying and giving birth to a baby. The first of those months was spent housesitting for friends. I knew that I wanted that month to be something of a retreat. As I prayed about how to best use that period — most of which would be alone with a dog named Chiquita, who became my close pal — the notion started dawning on me that now is the season to start preparing for my empty nest. Of 5 children, I now have 1 daughter left at home, who was beginning her junior year in high school, and my son was about to be a freshman, so I basically had 4 years left with my children. My goal for that month became to figure out two things:
1. What needs to happen in order to finish raising my children well?
2. What do I need to do to be poised to leave the nest myself and live the second half of my life the way God wants me to live it?
Out of that exploration has come the realization that what I love most is helping others walk close to the Lord by sharing the journey in every area of our lives — spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, etc. My nature is to be a writer and a teacher … and all this brought me back to Tools For Godly Living, a curriculum I wrote for 10 years, which were probably the most fulfilling of my life so far.
And so, TFGL or “Tools” has affectionately been dusted off and brought back to life … but it’s grown up. Like me, it’s had some wear and tear, gone through some major life changes, added some wrinkles, fallen down and gotten scuffed, even gone through the mending of a broken heart. Where before, it focused almost entirely on children, especially those who were homeschooled, it’s now focused on people of all ages. There will still be workbooks for children, but there are also studies of doctrine and the basics of practically living out our faith for teens and adults. And there are studies specifically fashioned to fit into our busy, crazy lives … for others out there who are type A’s like me. Because of the rough and tumble of my life these past 10 years, the heartache and the victories, the difficult paths I’m still trying to follow Jesus on, I hope that my approach will be more down-to-earth than ever, more compassionate … and more hopeful.
I’m a woman with a lot of curiosity, and so I’m always learning about new things. As I learn, I write, and much of that will be shared through Tools. For example, right now, I’m learning about the birds here in rural Central Minnesota, and I’m making it into a journal of exploration for kids (and possibly furtively for adults who are lucky enough to have kids to use as an excuse) to explore the world of birds as an introduction to biology and scientific classification. (PS – I use projects like these as an excuse to learn — or relearn — some of the things I missed or forgot in school.)
They say that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. And so other new projects will be to break things like my Basic Discipleship and DNA (Doctrine ‘n’ Apologetics – the DNA of Christianity) into 10-minute youtube videos, so that you can take just a quick bite of the elephant of theology every morning as you sip your coffee before work … or for busy moms or dads as they take a breather while the kids run around like banshees in the back yard … and if you’d like to delve a little deeper, there will be workbooks available to help you with that, probably here on my blog, though I’m not sure specifically how I’ll do that yet.)
Many of my books and studies in the past have been written as a result of repeated requests from those I’m serving. For example, my workbook, “Time Stewardship” was written as a result of being asked over and over for a book about time management. In order to write that, I read through the Bible, marking every verse about time management … which initiated a profound paradigm shift for me. I found that the way God wants us to steward our time is NOT the way my type A personality had always thought! I love it when we can all grow because someone asks us a question. So I invite you to make suggestions of areas you’d like us to explore … and maybe we’ll embark on another voyage together.
I had started writing and teaching a curriculum in California called School of Discipleship, which is really the crux of my passion. There’s another ministry with that name now, so those materials will also fall under TFGL. At this point, I have courses in Basic Discipleship, Living By Faith, Living Life on Purpose, and Doctrine & Apologetics written. By the time I finish, I hope to also have courses in finding & developing your spiritual gifts, spiritual warfare, and more.
I’m hoping eventually to offer coaching, as well, and return to speaking at retreats and conferences. And I’m working on a novel — one which I think will not only be entertaining, but challenging in some areas many of us have never considered.
And yes, I’ll be bringing back some of the old Tools For Godly Living children’s workbooks — Household Management, Etiquette, etc. — little by little. If you have a favorite, please let me know. It will help me prioritize.
I’ll definitely bring back the Passover Haggadah, as I’ve been asked about that many times over the last 10 years. I’m hoping to offer something similar for other Jewish holidays, as well as updating the Celebrating Advent book and exploring other Christian holidays.
As for this page, my desire is not to just share my own “wisdom” on this blog, but to interview others who have something to say about various aspects of our lives and how to bring those under the Lordship of Christ.
And lastly, because I want to encourage others with a similar vision, if you have a book or project that fits the vision of Tools, talk to me about it — I may be able to help you with editing, publishing, etc.
That’s all vision. For now: Reality. I won’t be doing a lot with Tools at first. I have three more years of raising my kids, I work full-time-plus, I homeschool 2 high schoolers, and that keeps me more than busy; but I hope to start sharing with you some of my struggles and what God teaches me through them, as well as some of the materials I’ve developed, little by little. I’m not going to even promise that you’ll hear from me on a regular basis. It will happen, for now, as it happens. And in all this, I beg for your prayers and would love to be allowed to pray for you, as you discover the way God wants you to serve and glorify Him.
Since I’ve told you how TFGL is growing up, maybe I should quickly tell you a bit about its childhood. “Tools” was a series of workbooks I wrote, originally just for my own kids, which were marketed mainly to homeschoolers on the west coast. When friends of mine, Jeff and Kathleen Uhler, gave me their publishing company, Lighthouse Press, which had originally published Tools, it became the publishing arm of TFGL. Contend & Defend, a Bible tournament program for preschoolers through 12th-graders in California and Texas, was also part of the TFGL family. I set that part of my life aside in 2002 to focus briefly on church ministry, and then a move from Central California to East Tennessee. Now, ten years later, from the rolling prairies of Central Minnesota, TFGL fits the vision of what I hope to be able to do for the Kingdom: Help people discover how to hear God’s voice and bring every aspect of their life under Jesus’ Lordship … and continue to discover that same thing for myself, day-by-day and minute-by-minute.