A guest post by my daughter about the Powers of the Mandrake Plant

My daughter is a pre-teen homeschooler who has a deep love for all things magical. We are talking unicorns, fairies and yes, Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling is a brilliant author who has created this magical world of Hogwarts, that has appealed to young and old alike. We are reading the stories right now as our family read-aloud, and we are learning so much more than we’ve seen in the movies. I love how Rowling’s writing transports you into another world. If you have never read these books, you are missing out.

A year ago, my husband and I surprised the kids with a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida and let me just tell you…the world of Harry Potter is amazing. The attention to detail is unreal. You ARE in the land of magic, and wands. If you are a HP fan, I strongly recommend a visit. It is like nothing else I have ever seen.

So my daughter is in a homeschool co-op that provides a Harry Potter class. The teachers dress up every week, the students were sorted into houses, and given the corresponding robe, and handmade scarf. They were able to choose and name their own handmade owl, and write with their handmade feather pens. They created their own wands, and were also given a crocheted money pouch. They earn magical money by the assignments they finish, and are able to make recipes from the books for celebrations. Even as an adult, I am totally enjoying it.

So my daughter was assigned an essay several weeks ago. She had to compare a concept or time period from the Harry Potter series to something from the Bible. They made a list of choices and possibilities and they were given freedom to choose. This assignment had a rubric for what was expected and she will earn “money” for the tasks she completes. She decided to write about the powers of the mandrake plant in comparison to the powers of our Almighty God. I helped her a little bit with the essay, but she took off running with this assignment. Together we learned SO much about the mandrake. I had no idea it was a real plant/herb…did you? She also got out her iPad, found pictures of the mandrake and drew it on her poster. (She did NOT get the art gene from me!) She will present it in class next week. I asked her if I could share her essay and pictures here as a guest post for my blog today, and she was very excited to do so. So here is my daughter’s essay. Enjoy!

Mandrakes vs. the Almighty God

Did you know that the mandrake referenced in Harry Potter is a real plant?  The mandrake is a member of the nightshade family.  It is a perennial herb with large roots that bears blue flowers in the winter and plum-like poisonous fruit in the summer.  Ancient Romans, Greeks and Middle Eastern cultures believed the plant had magical powers.  This is probably why author, J.K. Rowling used mandrakes in her Harry Potter series.  The mandrake plant is believed to be very powerful, but we know that God is more mighty than anything in the world. Mandrakes had healing powers, but Jesus is the ultimate healer.    Even in Bible times, people believed the mandrake could give life, but God is truly the only one who can create life.

In the book, Chamber of Secrets, the mandrakes’ cry can kill whoever hears it, so earmuffs must be worn for protection.  In Exodus 33, Moses wanted to see the Lord, but God told him he could only see his back, or he would die.  God had to hide Moses in the rocks, and cover Him with His hand to protect him from death.  Moses’ face glowed from being in the presence of the Lord, and had to wear a veil to protect the people.  The mandrake cry may be fatal, but God is more powerful than any living thing on earth. 

Mandrakes were used to heal those who were petrified in the Chamber of Secrets.  However, they could not be used to bring anyone back to life.  Jesus not only healed the sick, but brought people back to life throughout scripture.  For example, in Mark 5:35-43 Jesus touches Jairus’ little girl who was already dead, and says “wake up.”  Immediately, the girl stood up and walked around as if nothing had ever happened.  This was one of the amazing miracles that Jesus performed.    

The magic of the mandrake goes back to Biblical times.  Rachel and Leah begin to rely on the plant’s power for fertility, even though God is the only one who can create life.  In Genesis 30, Leah and Rachel were seeking the mandrake in order to have children.  Rachel obtained the mandrake but Leah did not.  Even though Leah did not receive the mandrake, the Lord blessed her with a child.  This proved that the Lord is sovereign, and He is the only one who is able to give life. 

Mandrakes are powerful, but God is more mighty.  Mandrakes have healing powers, but God is the ultimate healer.  Mandrakes were believed to give life, but God is the only one who can create life.  Some people rely on things to make them happy, but God is the only one who can bring joy to your life.  The magical powers of the mandrake are nothing compared to the honest and true powers of our Almighty God.  

Works Cited:

Dyer, Mary H.  “Common Mandrake Uses-What is Mandrake Used For.” Gardening Know How, 2020, 

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/mandrake/common-mandrake-uses.htm

“Muggles’ Guide to Harry Potter.” Wikibooks, 2020.  

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Muggles%27_Guide_to_Harry_Potter

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 1999.  

Sproul, Dr. RC.  “Reuben’s Mandrakes. “ Ligonier Ministries, 2007.

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/reubens-mandrakes/

The Bible. English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2003.

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Emotions Welcomed Here

As you may or may not know, we recently moved from our home of five years into this RV, in a different town, hours from our previous location. That was probably the longest we have been in a place for a consistent amount of time in our fifteen years of marriage. Our kids were three and six when we moved there, and immediately made friends with neighbors, fellow homeschoolers and families from church. And then my husband’s job changed, and we had to leave and start all over again.

My daughter and I have shed tears off and on for months. We have felt the sting of leaving our best friends and feeling alone in this new place. The pandemic has only made things worse as we cannot jump into new communities and activities as easily. Things are closed, people can’t be close to one another, and the world seems shut down. My husband has jumped into his new position at work, and truly enjoyed learning all the things about RV life. He has taken on the new camping lifestyle with gusto and kept going as best as he can. He just isn’t as emotional about leaving places and people like I am. Maybe it’s a guy thing?

My son is younger (eight years old now), and does not remember any of our previous moves. I don’t even believe he understood what moving meant when we packed up and headed out of our sticks and bricks home. My husband and I had made the difficult transition into an adventure by moving into a home on wheels. My children were very excited about the RV, and about traveling to new places in it. I was relieved. In all honestly, I wanted them to be distracted from the pain.

This morning as I was getting my coffee, my daughter (eleven years old) told me that my son was upset. He told her that he missed his friends and our old town. My heart sank. I HATE to hear when one of my children is sad. It makes me feel depressed…and guilty. What have we done? Have we messed up their lives? We took them away from their friends. Have we ruined everything?

And then I was reminded from years of therapy, that grieving is healthy. It is part of the healing process. It is a part of life. I also realized that this would probably not be the only time they moved in their lifetimes. I would rather them experience it with me. And so I told my daughter that it was okay that he was upset. He needed to grieve leaving our home, his friends and our town. I spoke with him, too. I told him that I was so sorry he was sad. That even though we would probably not be moving back anytime soon, we could always visit. I told him that transition is difficult. And that his feelings were completely understandable. Mommy was sad sometimes, too.

Thank you, Lord for giving me the words to say this morning. As a mom, I wanted to immediately fix the boo-boo, and put a band-aid on the wound. I wanted to make the tears go away, and see my child smiling again. Immediately. It is so hard for me to watch them hurting.

I think I have spent so much time trying to fix everything in the past that I may have been inadvertently communicating to them that their emotions were unnecessary or unwelcome. But as difficult as it is for me to watch my children mourn, I must remember that at times like this, it is a healthy response. So I want my new sign to read: Emotions Welcomed Here.

On this side of heaven, sadness is just a part of life. And our display of emotions is okay. It is okay to feel. No, we shouldn’t use emotions as our guiding lights, but we can use them to express our feelings with one another. To release fear and pain. And I want my kids to be able to come to me undone, and to know that their feelings are heard and even validated. Isn’t that what we all want? To feel validated?

Our Abba Father opens up His arms to us daily. He welcomes us into His lap, listening to our joys and our sorrows. He wipes our tears. He gets it. He has felt all of the human emotions, too. And He wants what is best for us. Sometimes we just have to experience the hard things before the blessing comes. But the blessing will come, friends. Thank you, Jesus.

Psalm 126:5-6 says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”

I hope this blog post encourages your soul. That it reminds you of the Great love we have in Christ. That you feel heard, and never alone. Feel free to share this post if you feel lead to do so.

If you want to follow my family’s RV journey on Instagram, our name is therollingstonefam. Stop by and say hey!

#therollingstonefam #grief #grieving #mourning #joy #joyoftheLord #blessings #blessing #encouragement #validation #emotions #emotion #expressingemotion #mommyblogger #rvblogger #bloggingmama #parenting #moving #transition #difficulty #neveralone

Sitting in the Waiting Room

I don’t think I have ever met someone who actually enjoys sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. Or maybe any type of waiting room for that matter. Let me use the pediatrician’s office for an example. The one my kids used to visit had a “sick side” and a “well side.” It was separated by a large fish tank, but you could still see and hear the folks on either side of this large area. When I was on the “well” side, I still thought about all the germs wafting over the top of the fish tank. Anyways, no matter which side we were on, I did not want to sit on the plastic covered chairs any longer than needed. We had our eyes fixed on the door, anxiously awaiting for the nurse to pop out and say our name so we could escape to the patient room where we could wait some more. Haha!

We also experienced the large waiting room at a health center when my husband was getting his PhD and we were using WIC. It was a large, open room with lots of seats. First, we would sign in and wait to be called back for the basic checkup. Then we would wait for the finger prick. Then we would wait to speak with the nutritionist, and then we would wait to pick up our food “coupons.” It was a LOT of waiting. I was lucky if we got in and out of that place in less than three hours. Sadly, I am not exaggerating. And I had a toddler and a baby at the time. It was stressful and exhausting, but it was needed at the time.

Sometimes the Lord lets us sit in a “waiting room” of life for a while. Or for what seems like an eternity. Our family has been in a type of waiting room since last November. Waiting on answers, life decisions, and direction. We are still waiting on some more answers today. The waiting room is getting old. I have been lonely in this waiting room, and feeling like I may start talking to the squirrels outside the camper if we don’t figure out the next steps of the journey.

We tried to turn this “waiting room” into an adventure by living in the RV. Leaving the waiting area for weekend trips in our home on wheels has been so refreshing. Sometimes healthy escapes are needed! This RV has allowed us to sit in this waiting room of life feeling a bit less rushed, and more focused on what truly matters.

But on the days where we are stationary and the “newness” and loneliness of the recent move has crept in, I remember that I am still in this dreaded waiting room. I realize that my name hasn’t been called yet, so to speak and I have to keep biding my time. It is uncomfortable. It is a vulnerable place to be. But sometimes we have to wait before we can heal. And it was almost like God decided to open my eyes to the beauty around me while I’m in this intermission. Just like the fish tanks in the pediatrician’s office, God was constantly giving me beautiful things and places to see and explore.

I will never forget the first campground we stayed at after our beach trip last summer. We had only been living in the RV for about a week, and were staying in a campground in the middle of nowhere. But our campsite was right next to a pond filled with lily pads. When the sun hit it just right, it was a beautiful sight. I could literally step outside and see beauty all around me. Each and every place we’ve stayed at, no matter how full of life, or empty, has had its fair share of beauty. And now I find myself searching for it wherever we travel, wherever we go. It may not end the holdup, but it definitely aids me in the waiting process. It reminds me that I am not in this waiting area alone.

Just like the fish tank was there to entertain little eyes and calm little minds as they waited to be called in to see the doctor…God gives me a sunset, or a lake view to remind me of His presence. He gives me a pond to walk around, or a sunset that cannot be described in words. He gives me opportunities to observe His creation in ways I may not have appreciated before now.

It is becoming more of a habit for me. When I am feeling down, or feel like my day is a complete waste, He whispers for me to look for beauty. And it may come in a note from a child, a text from a friend, a butterfly on a shoe, or a bright blue sky.

These gifts remind me that HE is beautiful, His love is beautiful. He DOES care that I am in this waiting room, and He has a reason for the wait. And while I am in here, I can look for the good in it. Now, I will fail at this on my own. I do fail at this. Every day. So I ask for His help to see the good, and the beautiful things. He may have to pry my eyes open some days, but He never fails to show me in some way, shape or form. For this, I am truly grateful.

If you are in a waiting room of sorts, take heart. Pray for opportunities to see the beauty in the small things. He will show them to you. And know that you are not alone.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

#rvlife #rvliving #waitingroom #waitontheLord #waiting #beauty #lookingforbeauty #lookforbeauty #rvfulltime #fulltimerv #fulltimervliving #movingaway #moving #mommyblogger #proverbs31ministries #Jesus #Godcares #Godlovesus #patience #campgrounds #getoutdoors #getoutside #nature #Godscreation

Boundaries

Boundaries. A word we have all heard before. Some are very good at setting them. Others are not. Some are good at guarding their boundaries, and others are not. Some may be good about protecting their own boundaries while crossing the boundaries of others. Personally, I am still learning about boundaries and how to create them out of respect for myself. To protect my heart and the person who God has made me to be.  I am NOT an expert at this topic, but someone who is still in the learning process.  I am a newbie of sorts.  

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Recently, I had an unexpected phone “conversation” that began with a bang. I could tell that the man on the other end was angry, and instead of letting him know right away that I wasn’t going to undergo the conversation, I just let him yell at me.  After the conversation, I thought…I didn’t have any boundaries set up for this kind of “conversation”. That was very disrespectful of him to speak to me that way, and I should have asked him to call back when he was calm and collected. (It didn’t help that I was the customer in this situation. Let me just tell you, apparently the customer is definitely not always right anymore. Haha!) But I was so unprepared!!!  I remained fairly calm on the phone and gave responses when I was given the chance. But after I hung up, I was completely rattled.  What in the world just happened? Did this stranger really just talk to me like that? Whatever happened to common courtesy? And why did I sit there and take it?

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I have to admit I have also been the one to give rude responses over the phone before, too. I feel like once I’ve been pressed over and over, my temper can definitely get the better of me. And that’s not right. I know.  So I am guilty of this, too.  

[And yes, for those who are curious, my husband called that man back and let him know that was completely uncalled for and to never call me again.  I am thankful!]

But maybe if I had a response ready and practiced for this type of situation, it would diffuse quickly and effectively, saving my afternoon from tears and possibly the angry person from totally losing it.

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Maybe my response could be, “I can tell from your voice that you’re very upset right now. I would love to hear from you, and see how I can help remedy the situation. But I’m also a human being and deserve respect. Why don’t we chat at another time when we both feel like we can give that respect to one another?” I dunno. I’m working with some various responses. But I feel like I need a script for this, so that’s a start.

Yes, we are told in Proverbs 15:1 that “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” And as I spoke calmly, the guy on the other side seemed to calm down as well.  But Jesus never says anything about letting people walk all over us. He tells us that if we have a relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit resides inside of us. We are made in the image of Christ! Think about that for a second.  We are image bearers of the Almighty God!!!  Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  That is a big deal!

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So next time I am upset with someone I need to do my part in remembering that they are also a person made in the image of Christ. We are not called to be best friends with everyone on the planet, but we are called to love one another.  One way to show love is through respect. 

[Yes, there may be instances where someone loses our respect.  Their behavior is awful, they are hurting others and refuse to repent or change.  This is a completely different type of circumstance than the one I am speaking to in this post.  But please know that I am aware that respect needs to be earned! Also – if you are experiencing abuse – whether it is physical, verbal or emotional abuse, that is not okay.  You may need to seek professional help and advice.  There are people trained and ready to assist you.  Abuse is NOT love. It is OKAY to walk away and completely cut ties with those who refuse to show you honor and respect.]

So, I encourage you to have your own “script” ready.  If someone crosses the line, brings up something you don’t feel comfortable discussing, speaks to you out of turn or rudely, have that phrase memorized and ready to go.  

Remember that others may have different boundaries than yours.  So, don’t be offended and march off if someone exercises their right to them.  Simply respect them, their boundaries and move on.  We are all experiencing difficult storms and carrying various burdens.  Just because some of us hide them better than others does not make them less real.

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I think it is fair to say that we could all use a little love and respect right now.  The other day, my husband paid for some police officers’ meals.  They don’t know that he did this, and my husband doesn’t know I am sharing this with the world.  But I don’t care.  I can brag on my husband for a minute.  Did my husband have to do this?  No.  Was he told to do it?  No.  But there are so many people hurting right now.  Why can’t we show some love?  A little goes a long way.  

So I encourage you to pay it forward this week in a way that shows someone that you love and respect them.  Whether that is writing a note, sending an encouraging text, paying for someone’s meal or simply waving or smiling at someone…it matters.  It can turn a mediocre day into an amazing day.  But please never ever forget that you are made in the image of the ALMIGHTY.  

Feel free to share your paying-it-forward experiences in the comments!  We all need some good news these days…

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#blog #mommyblogger #psalm139 #Godsimage #proverbs31ministries #boundaries #respect #love #respectandlove #payitforward #rvblogger #imagebearer #imageofGod #createboundaries #respectboundaries

Second Guessing Myself

Do you ever feel like your life decisions have been a big, fat, huge mistake? Sometimes I take the time to sit down and ponder my life choices and their outcomes. Okay, okay. Truth is I am an anxious individual who is constantly second guessing myself and my decisions. Especially on days where it seems like everything has gone wrong on every possible level and isn’t improving anytime soon.

Today it is raining, I am trapped inside >400 square feet with two kids and two dogs and I don’t want to do anything but take a nap. Did I mention it was raining and I have to take said dogs out in the pouring rain? My life is now complete doom and gloom and the month, the year, the everything…is a big fat mistake! This RV decision was CRAZY! We are walking disasters!!! What have we done?!?

Okay, okay. That was a bit dramatic. Let’s take a deep breath here, and ponder some more. Yes, some difficult circumstances exist right now. I’ve woken up to not having a church home. My kids have had their iPads taken away because they were on them without asking. The laundry has piled up (and my laundry session takes five and a half hours. Yes, you read that correctly.) The dirty dishes are stacked in the sink because we don’t have a dishwasher and there are always dirty dishes. Always.

I woke up in the middle of the night from a child crying and I could have sworn it was my son! I woke my husband up to go see if my son had fallen out of the bed again. All that to discover it was another child in the campground crying and my children were still fast asleep. Crisis averted. But that’s not a fun way to wake up.

Good grief. It’s one of those annoying days where I start to feel sorry for myself because I don’t have my own property. I’m borrowing this tiny space from someone else and looking at a zillion other people wondering what their daily lives are like. And I’m second guessing myself again…was this all a ridiculous idea? Should I have just gone for the normal sticks and bricks home and laughed off this RV plan? Was this full time camper gig a big fat mistake?

And I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know. Haha! There have been many instances and happenings that help me see how God has worked on my heart through this RV lifestyle. He’s been teaching me how to surrender my worry and fear to him. But I’m stubborn. I want to know exactly where I’ll be next month. Will I still be on this campsite? When will I find my own property? I want to know exactly where I’ll be on Christmas morning…right now. God is literally having to pry this sense of control and fear from my stubborn, firm grip.

I keep telling myself that this fall will be different. The weather will be lovely. My kids will actually want to be outside for longer than ten minutes at a time. We will have more chances to get away for the weekend. Maybe the Covid nonsense will calm down and I can find a church easier. But I am promised none of these things. So now it’s my attitude that needs to change. My hope needs to lift. My viewpoint needs to shift upwards. And I can’t do this on my own. Trust me, I’ve tried.

So for those of you thinking this full-time RV lifestyle is all adventure and wonderment, let me just be real with you for a second. There’s a black tank that has to be emptied okay? And I emptied it all by myself today. (If you don’t know what the black tank of an RV is, google it. But do not look at images.) So this lifestyle is not all fairy dust and unicorn hair. It’s a lot of unknowns. But there are also a LOAD of positives to be found in this minimalist lifestyle. My family has been released from a mortgage, yard work…the basic responsibilities of home ownership. I won’t lie and tell you it takes me hours to clean my new tiny home because it doesn’t take but fifteen minutes. (Glory! Hallelujah!) We own less so we can do more.

I believe that wearing rose colored glasses about any particular stage of life is completely normal. And when change happens in my life, I tend to view the former grass as being much greener than this new pasture I am treading. Every life transition brings reflection on the past and wonder about the future. Why did we have to pack up everything when we were content where we were? I don’t know. Does God have really big plans for us in this new place? I don’t know. Did we make a big mistake moving into an RV? I don’t know…but I don’t think so. This minimalist thing is actually really wonderful…I am loving the no mortgage, cleaning up in fifteen minutes, and taking my home with me wherever I travel gig. I love that my kids are learning how to enjoy life with LESS STUFF.

So why am I second guessing myself again? Just because it’s a yucky day? Is it because I don’t really know anybody here and still need a GPS to get to the grocery store? Okay, those are all valid reasons to be bummed. And I think anyone would agree that moving is stressful, exhausting and emotional. But these negative things aren’t necessarily reasons to second guess my life choices. So what could I be doing instead? As Ana sings in Frozen 2, you do the next right thing. (I may or may not have cried when I first heard that song. Don’t even judge me. It is pretty amazing.)

The only one who truly holds the future is the Lord. So all I can do, is to trust and obey. There’s that phrase I chose for 2020 again! No wonder God gave me that phrase this year. We move forward (sometimes literally), with the decisions we made and pray that the Lord keeps showing us the way to go when the road forks. We do the next right thing instead of looking back and wondering “what if” all the time. Don’t get me wrong. Self reflection can be good, and healthy. Learning from the past is how we avoid future mistakes. Heck, it’s how we learn about ourselves and see how far we’ve come! We can see how the Lord has taken care of our every need, and been by our side through other tough times. Our journeys are very important! But being trapped in our past decisions and all the “what if’s” of life can also hold us back from living!

Right now I can look forward, and look for life in this new place, in this new situation, job, location, phase of life. I can look for the lessons to be learned, the love given and the hope for what is to come. Because someone much bigger than me is holding the future in His hands. And I can rest in that fact today.

Proverbs 30:4-5 says:

Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
    Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
    Surely you know!

Every word of God proves true;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Please feel free to share this blog post on Facebook or another social media outlet if it blesses you! And if you would like to follow my family’s RV journey on Instagram, our user name is therollingstonefam.

#rvlife #rvliving #mommyblogger #proverbs31ministries #trustandobey #therollingstonefam #rvlifestyle #fulltimefamilies #fulltime #fulltimerv #fulltimervliving #secondguessing #campinglife #minimalism #minimalistlifestyle #lessismore #movingaway #anxiety #rvjourney #fifthwheelliving #fifthwheellifestyle #fifthwheelfamily #fulltimecampers #changeisgood #reflection #learnfromthepast #secondguessing #ponder #frozen2 #dothenextrightthing #proverbs30

Is this Disney World or Carolina Pines?

I am going to take a little change in direction from my type of blog post to write a review of a Sun RV Resort my family visited last weekend. If you are a person that enjoys the beach, plenty of amenities, good margaritas and a perfect jacuzzi temperature, you may want to keep reading. Because even if you don’t own an RV, you can enjoy all of these things and more in North Myrtle beach, South Carolina, at a lovely RV resort called Carolina Pines. (And they aren’t even paying me to say these things!)

Customer service is very important to me when I go on vacation. So far, Disney World is still number one in my book for providing the most amazing customer service ever, okay? These cast members are trained and prepared to make anyone’s day extremely magical. And it doesn’t matter if they are cleaning the bathrooms or at the welcome desk of the hotel. Disney employees are simply amazing!!!

So when we decided to stay at an RV resort by the beach, I honestly did not have high expectations for customer service. So I was pleasantly surprised when we pulled into Carolina Pines at night, and were warmly greeted at the security gate by a lovely English gentleman named Michael. He welcomed us to Carolina Pines in his amazing accent, called over for a golf cart escort to meet us, and even called my daughter a princess. Wait, did my husband take a detour? Were we in Florida!?! Michael, you are a gem!

First impressions are everything and this resort gets it. The golf cart escort came and showed us to our campsite. At first I just thought they were being fancy by doing this, but it turns out this place is massive, and they don’t want you to get lost. How kind and considerate!

There are a variety of campsites offered here that you can choose from when you book. They have pull-through sites, premium sites with oversized pads to accommodate larger RV’s, and standard back in sites with a gravel pad-all in 30 or 50amp. We chose a standard back-in RV site with tight packed gravel stones, and a concrete pad for the outdoor picnic table. We were on an end lot, so we had plenty of grass and space in the front for my kids to run around and my dogs to do their business. Good job choosing a site, husband.

We did not pay the lock-in fee, as this is optional because there were plenty of sites and honestly, as long as we got a site like this, we were happy. In case you are unfamiliar with a lock-in fee, and want to learn more about these, please read the following paragraph. If you are totally in the know about these lock-in fees, skip down a bit…

Explanation of the lock-in fee: So the lock-in fee is a way for you to choose a specific site and not be moved from that location. I know this sounds like a rip-off so let me explain. When you choose a hotel room, you choose a type of room, correct? It is a bit like that now with campgrounds who offer these lock-in fees. When you book a site, you choose a site number, but then let’s say a family with three RV’s are coming in, and need three sites next to one another. If you choose not to pay the fee, the campground may move you to another site (same price point and amenities as the one you chose) but a slightly different location so that these families who did pay the lock-in fee in order to stay together can camp next to one another. It may seem “unfair”, but ultimately, this is a business and this helps them book more efficiently. There are some instances where paying the fee is worth it in my opinion, and other times where it is not.

The sites at this resort are seriously similar with the exception of location. There are a few near the main roads, and others further away from specific amenities. So it is wise to look at the map online, and see which section you prefer. We were not moved from our original choice of site, even without paying the lock-in fee, but we also went after Labor Day where it was not nearly as crowded. I have no personal experience going here during the summer but I’ve heard it gets VERY full. So keep that in mind when you book!

This resort has TONS of amenities. The price to stay here might be a bit more than your average campground and that is because most of these amazing things are offered at no extra charge. (If I was to book a standard back-in RV site in the beginning of October, it would only cost around $65/night. Prices may vary based on time of year, but I wanted to give you an idea.) The amenities include a water park, several outdoor pools, a splash pad, cabana rentals, an outdoor jacuzzi that magically stays at the perfect temperature, playgrounds, basketball court, pickle ball and corn hole, volleyball and horseshoes, mini golf, an indoor pool and jacuzzi, a jumping pillow, two dog parks (and really one of these is split in half to make three), a dog wash area, an arcade, mini bowling (which may have a small fee), mini golf and billiards, a snack shop, a yoga studio, fitness center, a full service restaurant and bar (with optional delivery service), a general store, a welcome center/gift shop, golf cart rentals, private beach club with complimentary shuttle service, themed weekends and special events. So as you can see, there are a TON of extras here!!! You can order food online and have it delivered directly to your campsite (for a small fee), or you can order it online and pick it up yourself. As I mentioned, they do offer golf cart rentals here and if you bring your own there is a fee for that. My family brought our bikes along so we could ride them around on the lovely paved roads. This resort is large, so I do recommend bringing something to ride in or on, OR being careful about where you want to glamp in regards to the amenities you will most likely use the most. We chose a section within walking distance to the water park and outdoor pool as we knew we would be using those the most. #kids (Site C-105 to be exact.)

This resort does offer tiny homes for rent and some even for sale. These homes are more expensive than a campsite of course, but you still receive all the amenities this place has to offer. And as far as beach homes go, I believe they are fairly priced. You can see different home layouts, and resort locations online. Prices vary according to size of home and possibly time of year as well.

This resort is NOT directly on the beach. However, they do offer a free shuttle to North Myrtle beach (about a twenty minute ride) and access to their private beach club which has bathrooms, vending machines, a pool and a hot tub, and access to the ocean. You can also drive to the beach club yourself like we did, and pay for public parking. We wanted to take ALL the things with us to the beach like our beach chairs, umbrella, and cooler with food and drinks which you cannot take with you on the shuttle due to limited space. So it’s up to you! I was told that Saturdays at the private beach club are usually crowded, so keep this is mind. As I mentioned, we came after Labor Day, and visited the club on a Friday and it was not crowded at all as you can see from my photos below!

The people who work at this resort and the amenities this place provides truly make this place incredible. As I previously mentioned, customer service is key. And everyone from Michael, to the people who worked at the welcome center, restaurants and general store…they were all delightful and helpful people. I don’t know if they went to the same customer service school as the Disney employees, but it is possible. I have to say we were very impressed!!!

My family and I spent most of our time at the serenity pool (which was not always serene with my kids in tow but that’s okay), hot tub, and water park areas. My kids enjoyed all of the slides at the water park, and when they wanted less of a crowd, we headed to the Serenity pool. I thoroughly enjoyed the PERFECT JACUZZI. Seriously. Perfect temperature, and big enough for many people to enjoy at one time. You can order a margarita (and they have the best ones ever) and drink it in the hot tub. I highly recommend doing this. (Pic of hot tub below is only half of it as there were people on the other side and I didn’t want to invade their privacy.)

We did not even make it to the jumping pillow, mini golf, arcade, bowling, outdoor games or indoor pool. Oh and sadly, I never made it to the fitness center either. (Sarcasm.) We only stayed for three nights and that simply was not enough time to enjoy all of the things this place has to offer. We did ask for a late checkout before we left, as 11am on vacation is way too early for us, and since our site was not booked for that afternoon, we were granted the 2pm checkout time instead. There is a $25 fee for this, but for us it was worth it.

IF I had anything to recommend to Carolina Pines, it would be to give schedules in the welcome folder your guests receive upon arrival. Now, don’t get me wrong. The welcome folder is awesome! It provides the wifi code (yes there is free wifi), the LARGE resort map, the list of amenities, info about food ordering, etc. However, I read through everything and could not find daily hours listed for anything. (I know, I have been spoiled by Disney and their daily schedules which scroll across the TV screen or can be found online.) I sent a Facebook message to Carolina Pines, asking about water park hours and they did return my question promptly there. After Labor Day, the water park is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, by the way. So if the water park is important to you, keep that in mind. I am helping you avoid a toddler temper tantrum. You’re welcome.

There are themed weekends at this resort, which you can find online and in their welcome packets. The weekend we visited, the theme was honoring our local heroes. Since it was the weekend of 9/11, first responders were invited to the resort and the guests could see inside an ambulance, sit in a firetruck and look inside police cars while speaking with these amazing people doing this good work. Very cool. I wish I had been given an events calendar with hours again though as I had no idea when these local heroes were coming. Thankfully, it is kind of hard to miss a bunch of blinking blue lights.

This resort also offers fun family activities such as karaoke night, and concerts. Both of these were offered during our stay, but again, I did not know when they were occurring. We happened to catch both as we were wandering around the commons area and visiting the pool. Maybe they will give you a schedule at the Welcome Center? I honestly don’t know, so if you have been here and know this information, please let me know in the comments. I may just be missing something here. But like I said, a schedule of events with daily times would be a wonderful addition to the welcome packet!

If I could give another recommendation to this resort, it would be providing towels for guests to use at the pool and hot tub. Bringing our own towels was fine, and we did it with no complaining, but if they were provided, it would have been an extra perk. (Again, I have been spoiled by Disney and Universal Studios hotels. Sorry.) So note to self: Bring lots and lots of beach towels!

If all you want to do is enjoy the beach, sit in a shaded campsite and go to bed early, this may not be the place for you to visit. (Quiet hours are from 11pm-8am and sometimes there are loud golf carts driving by pretty late.) However, if you want to glamp with your children at a family friendly place that provides endless entertainment and plenty of amenities, you may want to check it out. We walked out of the camper door, and immediately had things to do. We jokingly called this place “Disney World at the beach.”

They are offering a new “Park and Play” option for all of you full timers out there. You have to book this by Sept. 30, 2020 and can learn more about it from their website: https://www.sunrvresorts.com/carolina-pines/

I have no idea when their outdoor pools and water park close for the year, so you may want to find out before booking out-of-season.

Michael, I hope you are in the security booth when we return! It will be wonderful to see you again! Thanks for an awesome time, Carolina Pines! We will definitely be back for another visit!

#carolinapinesrvresort #carolinapines #sunrvresort #myrtlebeach #rv #rvlife #rvresort #campingatthebeach #glampingatthebeach #southcarolinabeaches #glamping #amenities #amenitiesgalore #jacuzzispa #waterpark #rvwaterpark #myrtlebeachsc #customerservice #disney #disneycustomerservice #fifthwheel #fifthwheelliving #fifthwheellife #fulltimefamilies #fulltimefamily #fulltimefamilieswithkids #fulltimefamilieswithdogs #getoutside #beach #beachvacation #beachvibes #rvdogs #campingwithkids #campingwithdogs #refersun #sharethesun #CarolinaPinesRVResort

Spilling the Beans on RV Life

Over two months ago, before our family officially became camping nomads, we were very excited. It was fun looking at campers, and deciding which ones would work or not work for our family. It was therapeutic to minimalize, and get rid of most of our belongings. We realized we didn’t need all of this “stuff” to be happy. And it was actually becoming stressful having it all to be honest. All of this was before we actually took the plunge and moved out of 2400 square feet into less than 400 square feet. Now that we have been doing this for over two months, I thought it was time to reflect upon this life choice and see what my family actually thinks now that we did this crazy thing. It is high time I tell you about the good, bad, and the ugly about RV life. Now keep in mind that we are still newbies. But, we might as well be honest about it now, right?

First, I decided to ask the kids what they think about this new lifestyle. Kids are honest, right? I figure this would either be a terrible conversation or it would be pretty cool. I decided to keep it simple, and only ask them a few questions. I asked them what they like most about RV life, what they don’t like about RV life, what they miss about living in a house, and what they were looking forward to doing in the future with our RV.

My daughter, who is eleven years old, went first. When I asked her what she loved most about RV life, she told me that she loved the fact that when it was time to go somewhere, all we had to do was unhook and go! (No packing a suitcase required!) Her least favorite part about RV life was the actual time it takes to unhook and get ready to go somewhere. Haha! The cleaning, tank emptying, and putting all the things away does take some time. I get that. It can be tedious. I asked her what she missed about living in a house, and she said she misses her friends. (I think this is more about the actual move as opposed to the actual RV life, but she misses having friends closeby.) When I asked her what she was looking forward to most in this RV adventure, she explained how she was looking forward to going more places, and being more free. From these few simple questions came more and more thoughts and conversation throughout the day. Later she also told me that she loves that her daddy comes home sooner than he used to. This is due to the new job, and I have to agree with her on that! I really learned a lot from my daughter and love that she enjoys this new RV gig. And that she didn’t say that her least favorite thing was sharing a room with her brother! Yay!

My son, who is eight years old went next. I asked him what he loved about RV life and he told me it was that he is able to take his home with him wherever he goes. This is exactly what his sister predicted he would say. My son is a homebody, and always has been. I will do one errand, and he is already asking when we will be going home. When we go on vacation, he enjoys it, but misses home. This RV life allows him the opportunity to always have his home with him and he is very happy about it. I asked him what he didn’t like about RV life and he responded much like his sister did. He misses his buddies. I asked him what he was looking forward to in this RV adventure and he told me he was looking forward to going to Disney World and Universal Studios every day. I let him know we couldn’t go every day, but we would definitely go back! Mickey and Harry Potter are calling our names!

I decided to keep this interview going and ask my husband what he thought about our decision. Let’s be real for a minute. This was a crazy choice in the eyes of many. And we know it. It is possibly one of the craziest things we have ever done together in our fifteen years of marriage. But it was the right time for it. There was a job change. We had to move. So, why not now?

I asked my husband (no I won’t share his age) what his favorite part of RV life was. He made a verbal list for me. It went something like this: downsizing, having less stuff, the mobility factor, no matter where we go we always have our home with us (sounds like our son, right?), the low cost of living, and that he finally got a truck. Smarty pants. He thinks this lifestyle is adventurous. We can always have a campfire, or lie down in the hammocks. His least favorite part of this lifestyle right now is that we are not completely organized yet. But, we can fix that. There’s an Ikea for that, right? He thinks that he will need to do some RV maintenance eventually, but for now, we are good. I asked him if he missed anything about being in a sticks and bricks home. He misses having more space to do whatever he wants with it. Hence why we are searching for property. Another thing he misses is being able to step out of the bed and not trip on a dog on his way to the bathroom. Hashtag tiny living problems. Hashtag spoiled dogs. What he is looking forward to and enjoying the most is living below our means, more travel opportunities, and more family time.

Finally, I asked myself what my favorite part was about this RV life and I decided it was a tie between being able to clean my entire home in less than half an hour, and all the time we spend outdoors now. I also wanted this to teach us about thankfulness and it’s already doing that. I’m grateful. My least favorite part is the laundry situation. It takes hours to finish a load of laundry. Boo! Too bad I didn’t get a vented washer/dryer in this rig. I guess I do miss a few things about sticks and bricks. I miss having my own yard. I also miss not having to carry dog poop bags with me wherever I go. I will be very excited to park this rig on my own property one day. I also miss my friends from home. But that is more related to a move and I know I would feel that way if I was in a “normal” home too. What am I looking forward to the most about this lifestyle? One word. TRAVEL! This is something I absolutely LOVE doing and we never got to do much of it before. Between all of the jobs both of us had before, and the lack of funds, we were pretty stationary. It wasn’t until after we bought this RV that my eight year old son finally got to play in the ocean. I will be forever grateful we did this for all of the experiences I hope to have in the future and all of the places we have visited already.

So would I recommend this lifestyle? It depends on your situation. If you have steady income, and want to homeschool, then sure! It still costs money to rent an RV site each month if you don’t own property to park it on, and of course your kids need to learn all the things. If you are more stationary like us because of a job, I would recommend seeing what kinds of campgrounds are in that area. Make sure you have good options. If you are retired, and want to travel around the country, I absolutely recommend it. If you work online, and can get a good wifi connection set up, this would be a fun way to live and work for a while. But figure out why you want to do it. If the positives outweigh the negatives, then I can’t say I would tell you not to do it. But to each their own. I know we would never have done this if we had not been uprooted from our previous life. We had to move anyway. So we decided to make this difficult transition into an adventure. We wanted to take our time in figuring out where we wanted to live and what kind of life we wanted to have next. No, the RV lifestyle is not for everybody. But for us, it works…for such a time as this. And I am thankful my people are loving it.

In the words of Dr. Tony Evans, “Lord, help me put your will and your purpose ahead of my own.”

Psalm 40:8 says, “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

P.S. I did ask the dogs too, by the way. Ellie’s favorite thing is watching squirrels but she misses playing ball in her own backyard. Luna’s favorite thing is the large couch in the RV and being extremely close to all of us all the time. They both are looking forward to their own property where they can run around and bark at the brown delivery truck again.

#rvlife #rvliving #rvlifestyle #minimalism #downsizing #fulltimefamily #fulltimervfamily #fulltimefamilywithkids #fulltimefamilieswithkids #fulltimefamilieswithdogs #fulltimerv #fifthwheel #fifthwheellife #fifthwheelliving #fifthwheeling #rv #campinglife #camping #homeschool #homeschoolfamily #rvhomeschool #homeschoolers #moving #transition #rvhomeschooling #rvhomeschoollife #rvfulltime #mommyblogger #faith #fulltimecamper #campingfamily #rvlifewithkids

What is going on?

As you know, my family has undergone a fair amount of transition in the last two months. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about I will catch you up….

*Job in limbo for husband since fall of 2019

*Hubby starts applying for new jobs all over the country

*Covid-19 begins, many jobs respond that they are in a hiring freeze

*Hubby has two interviews via Zoom

*Hubby accepts new amazing job

*Stone family gets house ready to sell

*Stone adults resign from other jobs we had in the area

*House goes under contract in 6 hours

*Stones decide to move into an RV but need to purchase said RV and a truck to haul it

*Stones pick out RV, finally pick out a truck, and then move into RV and out of house

*Stones have bank account hacked and completely drained

*Stones search for property….

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So this is a small portion of our recent history. I could have told you more heartache and sad things that happened to us because there was more. I could also tell you more amazing things that happened because we did get to experience some wonderful things during this time as well. (And still are experiencing new adventures via RV life!) But I’m going to be real with you. I had a week of nightmares last week. Straight up sweating, crying nightmares. (Now I bathe in Vetiver essential oil before I dare lie down. Yes it does help for all of the oil haters out there. I am proof. Haha!) I also pray like crazy, and trust that God’s got me.

But I do wonder why? Why the nightmares? Well it’s not rocket science. I’ve experienced a ton of life change and transition recently. Not to mention the crazy global pandemic we are all experiencing. But moving is right up there in the top five stressors we can experience. In fact, according to several online sources, (one being used here is https://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/depression-stress-anxiety/top-5-stressful-situations/) the top five life stressors are:

1. Death of a loved one

2. Divorce

3. Moving

4. Serious Illness

5. Job Loss

Maybe after 2020, ‘global pandemic’ will be added to that list!

After our last move five years ago, I completely lost myself in a tumbleweed of anxiety. I couldn’t leave my house without panic attacks for months. I couldn’t ride in the car with anyone because I felt trapped. I was living in an anxiety hell. So leading up to this move had me terrified that this time it would be the same. My panic attacks would surely return. I would become a complete hermit again. It was just going to be history repeated right?

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My therapist reminded me how much I’ve grown in five years. I believed her. And guess what? She was right. Yes I’ve had anxiety. Yes I’ve had nightmares. But I’ve not experienced the frozen panic I felt five years ago. Now I’m not naive enough to think I won’t ever have another panic attack again. So please don’t misunderstand me there. But this move has not effected me in the same way, and for that I am grateful.

We are all experiencing this crazy Covid-19 pandemic. I can’t even walk into a store without covering my face. (Talk about anxiety triggers.) Whenever an employee catches me with my mask down and asks me to put it on again, I want to cry. But it’s the world we live in right now. Everyone is so afraid of sickness and dying. I get it. I am too. 

There is just a lot of stuff going on in this country. A lot of weight. A lot of sadness. A lot of heartache. Judgment. Racism. Slander. Lying. Coverups. Crime. Hatred. Fear.
And we keep going. One foot in front of the other. Because the only other choice is to give up. 

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So take heart if you’re not okay today. Chin up if you’re feeling discouraged, heartbroken or scared. You’re not alone. And I’m not going to be cliche and say everything will be okay. Or that it will all get better. But I will be truthful and tell you that God is bigger. And when I have these nightmares and wonder why the heck I can’t sleep, I have to remember that this is temporary. He has grown me so much in five years. And He will grow you through all of this craziness too if you let Him. Maybe we can challenge ourselves with questions like…

What can I do today to help my kids? My parents? My friend suffering from cancer?
What can I say that will make this person smile or feel encouraged today? What can I share (out loud) that may help someone else? (Yep. That may require some serious out-of-comfort-zone action.) What kind of self-care can I practice today? (Oh man I said self-care! I’m awful at this!) Who can I check in on today?

And we can experience this awfully strange and scary time together, yet apart. When you tell your friend that you’re not really okay today and they tell you it’s okay…that is healthy validation. Something we all need. Just to feel heard and validated. So slow down. Listen to others. And be freed from this ever growing need to feel perfect today. Because gracious we will not feel that on this side of heaven. But we can do our best to listen and be there for one another.

Romans 8:31-35, and verse 37 says,

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…..No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
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#pandemic #anxiety #fear #love #mommyblogger #faithoverfear #faith #encouragement #nightmares #morethanconquerers #romans8 #encouragingothers #globalpandemic #lifestressors #topfivelifestressors #Godisbigger #checkonothers #okaynottobeokay

Anxiety in Kids & Teens

As you all know, I have struggled with anxiety off and on ever since I was in the third grade.  It has presented itself in many forms in my lifetime, in bouts with OCD, to full blown panic attacks over the years.  Now that I have kids of my own, I am already looking for signs and praying against the beast.  But as you and I know, our children are growing up in an entirely different world than we did.  The pressures our children and teenagers are facing today have grown since the 90’s and early 2000’s.  There are more screens, more pressure to do well in sports, more pressure in school and in trying to maintain the status quo.  There is much easier access to drugs, porn, and sexual activity.  Some of this we cannot control, but as parents there are some things we can do to help with this growing amount of anxiety in our kids.  No, I am not an expert in this area, nor am I a therapist, so if your child needs to talk to someone, do not hesitate to do so.  Do not wait until they are about to go to college to get help.  Seek out help and advice now so they have the tools to take with them when they leave the nest.  Therapy is healthy, and can be very beneficial for everyone.

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So, when I am told that a child is anxious, I wonder what they are anxious about.  What are their triggers, and where do they stem from?  I am not a professional in this area, hence why I see my own counselor.  But, counselors/therapists have the knowledge and expertise to know the right questions to ask in order to discover when the anxiety began, and what triggers may be present from past events or trauma.  Taking a trip down this memory lane may seem tedious or uncomfortable, but it is actually quite helpful, so don’t shrug it off as a pointless step as I did so many times.  Finding the root, or beginning of the anxiety can help with the healing process and recovery.

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Now sometimes, anxiety comes about due to certain things coming up, such as a test, or a performance of some sort.  A certain amount of nerves is completely normal.  But if your child is hyperventilating before a test, or sweating profusely and falling on the floor before a speech in class, we may need to take a step back and see what practical things we can do to help.

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One thing I do for myself when I am feeling especially anxious is cut out caffeine.  As the article from Everyday Health tells us, Caffeine is a stimulant and can effect your “fight or flight response” (See #3 from https://www.everydayhealth.com/anxiety-pictures/7-surprising-causes-of-anxiety.aspx#caffeine-and-anxiety-make-you-feel-jittery-and-nervous).  I either lower the amount of caffeine I consume, or take it out of my diet completely for a while.  Teens today tend to drink a lot of caffeine in order to “stay awake” in school after endless hours of homework, or just because it is so easily accessible.  When I was in middle school my afternoon snack was a Dr.Pepper and a Snicker’s bar.  I am not saying these things are horrible in themselves, but moderation is always a good rule to follow.  However, when I am anxious, even my coffee goes away.  (Insert sad face here.)  And whether I am feeling especially anxious or not, I cut it off by 2pm.  I like my sleep, and if I drink it too late in the afternoon, I am awake, which only adds to my anxiety.  So be wary of caffeine, and remember it is not only in our Coca-Cola, but our chocolate cake as well. (Check out https://www.psycom.net/anxiety-and-caffeine).

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So speaking of sleep, how much sleep is your child getting?  According to sleep.org, teens should be getting between nine and eleven hours of sleep per night!  (Check it out for yourself at https://www.sleep.org/articles/how-much-sleep-children/)  Yep.  Between nine and eleven hours.  Of actual sleep.  Not reading with the light on until 11pm and then sleeping until 6am.  Actual sleep.  It is during sleep that our bodies manage all of their normal growth/repair processes, so when your child lacks sleep, their bodies will not have the time required for healthy brain development.  (Check out https://thesleepdoctor.com/2017/03/30/teens-need-sleep-think/).  Lack of good sleep can effect their cognitive, behavioral, social, emotional and academic areas.  So, it is important!  Start that bedtime routine early enough so that their bodies know that sleep is on the horizon.  Whether that be a bath or shower, then time to read and do a devotion together…whatever your family decides is best.  But a nightly routine is great for kids of all ages.

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Another thing I wonder about is a child’s diet.  Now, if you know my children, you know they are picky eaters. I get it.  And in our day and age, with more and more foods being over-processed and adulterated, it is difficult to find good, healthy food.  So, do what you can here, and make sure they are getting some good fruits, veggies, and protein in their bodies.  Find them a good vitamin, and even a probiotic.  Our gut is our second brain!  If our gut is unhealthy, this can effect our emotions, and our thought process.  90% of  serotonin is created in our gastrointestinal tract!  NINETY PERCENT.  (Check this out at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin).  Serotonin has lots of jobs, but some of them are to regulate our MOOD, our appetite and our sleep.  It can contribute to our overall feelings of happiness and is actually targeted in many anti-depressant drugs.  So, check it out because it is important to do what we can to maintain a healthy gut.

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Okay, activity.  Big one.  So it is no lie that I dislike working out, okay?  I am not one of these people that lives for the workout session.  However, as I grow older it only becomes more clear how important being active is for overall health, but especially for those of us who struggle with anxiety.  (Check this article out: https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety).  Now everyone is different, so I am not saying exercise is a cure-all, but it does release endorphins, or chemicals in our brain that assist us with stress and sleep.  Several years ago, I worked out with my friend who was a former body builder, and she taught intense 45 minute cardio work-outs, 2-3 times a week.  I went to her class religiously and do not remember taking anxiety medication during that time.  (That is huge for me personally.)  Like I said, exercise is not a cure, but it does help.  Go for a walk with your teenager, or get the bikes out for a spin.  Send them outside for some trampoline time if you have one.  Getting outside even for a few minutes can make a world of difference!  You can make this time fun for them, or even bonding time for you to have together.  Your children may be involved in sports, which is great!  Keeping active is important and should help with the sleep factor and overall mental health factor as well.

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My children have screen time.  Probably too much screen time.  And I am trying to limit it for so many reasons.  (Check this out: https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/11/11/too-much-screen-time-linked-to-anxiety-depression-in-young-children-and-teens/139931.html).  This article on anxiety and depression in children stated, “Twenge and Campbell [psychologists] found that adolescents who spend more than seven hours a day on screens were twice as likely as those spending one hour to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression — a significant finding.”  The article goes on to recommend two hours a day or less of total screen time.  I remember back in the day of AOL, and Instant Messenger when I had to wait for the dial-up process, log-in and all that to get online.  Then I could “chat” with my friends on the messenger, and even leave an “away message” for when I was away from my computer.  I thought it was amazing.  Haha!  Now, we are accessible to people 24-7 if we want to be, and can find just about anything we want to learn about or see on “the google” and Youtube.  SnapChat and all that other stuff can be super sketchy, which is a whole other blog post, but just be aware that it isn’t just the screen time itself that can effect them, but the content they are exposed to as well.  Not to mention that people can be as mean as they want to be behind a screen.  This can effect their overall self-esteem as well.  So check their phones, and other screen devices.  Have them leave them their phones with you at night, or somewhere entirely out of their bedrooms.  Remember when we talked about the importance of sleep?  Well, sleep.org also recommends turning screens off an hour or so before bedtime (https://www.sleep.org/articles/four-ways-help-teen-wake-refreshed/).  Set a “media curfew”, and help them “wind down” for before bed.

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I pray for good, open communication with my children and I know there are great books out there to help me in this area.  Dr. James Dobson, and many others have written some good books on raising Christian men and women in our day and age.  So, I will not go into all that as I am still a novice.  I will say that having good, open conversations, and letting them tell you how they feel is important.  Even if the feeling seems ridiculous or invalid to you, it may be exactly how they’re feeling in a situation.  “Random” things may trigger their anxiety, but there is probably an underlying reason for these things.  After my ovarian tumor surgery, I remember physically shaking when driving past the gynecologist’s office.  Other times, I have woken up in a panic state, before my feet even hit the floor.  What I have learned is that anxiety builds.  So if you had a stressful week, then the next week something happened, which followed something else the following month, and your mind and body haven’t truly dealt with any of them, it will build and build until it is ready to combust.  I would strongly suggest seeking out a counselor if this is what’s happening.  Speaking to someone allows feelings, fears, and doubts to be released, and gives tools to combat whatever is going on inside with counter thoughts and Scriptural truths.  Counseling is healthy, so don’t view it as a parent failure.  You are doing a GOOD THING here. I promise.  I saw a counselor as a child for intrusive thoughts and my counselor helped me SO much.  I will never forget that.  I thank the Lord my mom took me each week and paid the money to get help for me.

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So, I hope this is helpful.  I am going from my own personal experience here, sharing things that have helped me even now as an adult battling the anxiety beast.  Now I am on medication, and also several good supplements for my overall health.  I talk to a counselor, and have just started back into the exercising routine.  I have to watch my diet for many reasons, but I think it is helping my gut, which in turn, helps my anxiety levels as well.  I use essential oils, and breathing techniques when I feel my anxiety building.  So there are many things you can do to help your body thrive in the midst of stress.  These are just a few helpful tips that come to mind when friends ask me what to do for their children.  If your child is old enough to listen and respond to their anxiety, and want to help themselves out in this area, maybe they will want to try some of these things on their own.  If not, you may have to implement some yourself as the parent.

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Pray for your child.  Daily.  This is something I am working on, since I have FAILED miserably at it.  I tend to remember to pray for my kids when they start struggling.  I am currently facing some anxieties with one of my kiddos, and it struck me how I need to get on my knees and pray for my kids all the time, not only when facing a trial.  Praying with your kids is powerful too.  Jesus felt anxiety, and we can tell our kids this.  (Read Luke 22:44 with them).  We worship a God who truly understands how we feel.  Break out the word of God, and read them truths so they can combat anxious thoughts.  Play the “what if” game with them if they need it.  (What if you fail the test?  What if our house burned down?  Who is ALWAYS with you?)  Our kiddos face big, real fears and we can help remind them of the presence of a Holy God.  Thank you, Lord for never leaving or forsaking us.

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“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not LIFE more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

Some great verses to encourage your child with anxiety:

Matthew 6:25-34

Luke 12:22-32

I Peter 5:6-11

Phil 4:4-7

John 14:12-14

Psalm 5:11-12

Psalm 23

Psalm 34:4

Psalm 46:1-3

Psalm 56:1-4

Psalm 91 (Especially verses 4, and 9-10)

Psalm 121

2 Corinthians 12:10

2 Timothy 1:7

Isaiah 35:4

Isaiah 40:29-31

Isaiah 41:10

Joshua 1:9

Romans 8:38-39

I Thess 5:23-24

There are MANY, MANY more verses about God’s faithfulness, protection, and love.  Let me know some of your favorite verses when dealing with anxiety!

 

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Lessons in Living Tiny

I’ve been asked recently if living in an RV has changed our buying habits. Thankfully, after a month and a half I can already say yes.

E89FCDAF-0EFE-4FC2-B613-E06EB69199F6If you know Josh or myself, you know that I’m the penny pincher in the family and always have been. So taking time to decide if a purchase is “worthy”, is right where I like to stay. Living tiny definitely makes us consider the item(s) in question much before making a new purchase.

IMG_5102Now I know we have just begun this lifestyle, and in no way am I an expert. And we have needed to purchase things like organizational items for the RV, and other camping items. (There seem to be a lot of things to buy in the beginning but that’s like any home, right?) However, I can already see a positive impact in how it effects our normal, day to day spending habits.

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Even in the grocery store, we think…do we have room for that? before we place it in the shopping cart. Now we do have a residential fridge (a necessity for full time RV living) and the kids even have a small refrigerator in their bedroom (more like storage for Gatorade and Capri-Suns). But the pantry space is very limited in this camper. So we think before we empty the snack aisle at Aldi’s. And I try not to grocery shop while hungry. (Try being the key word there.)

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If we want new clothes, or shoes, I’m already thinking about which ones I’m going to get rid of to make room for the new pieces. (I still need work in this area as I have a slight shoe obsession, but I did reduce a lot of clothing before moving into the camper.  So that counts, right?)

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Living tiny makes clutter very annoying for both my husband and myself. We don’t like having things in the RV that we don’t use because it ends up being a waste of valuable space. Every square inch is precious when all you have is somewhere around 400 square feet (or less) for two adults, two children and two medium sized dogs.

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I am excited for the lessons this lifestyle has taught us and will teach us in the future. The change we are already seeing in our lives and attitudes in regards to “stuff” has been positive.  We may be living in a smaller space but I feel like our potential for joy-filled living has grown.

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As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve wanted my children to be grateful humans. Not that they are spoiled brats, but they are still learning the value of things. They are still learning that their Daddy works very hard for us to have what we have. We told our daughter today what it was like for mommy and daddy to live on “government milk and cheese” while daddy was in school getting his PhD. We were not poor, but we learned a lot of lessons during that season in going without the “fun stuff.” A lot of time was spent going to the health department every month for my WIC vouchers.  I worked part time, and we lived as well as we could. As much as I hated holding up the line at the Food Lion with those food vouchers, I am so thankful for what that time in our lives taught us. I do want to help foster a deeper sense of gratefulness for the blessings the Lord has given us.

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This RV lifestyle has not only made us more cautious in regards to spending, but it also has made us realize that we don’t need a bunch of “fluff” to be happy. We have a long ways to go, of course. And we will still be learning this lesson six months from now.  Heck, I will be learning this lesson until I am in heaven. But when I have a bad day and question this RV decision (which I do more than I would like to admit), my mind comes across the valuable lessons we are learning right now and I remember why we chose this crazy lifestyle. And realize that this crazy idea was what we needed for such a time as this.

I Chronicles 16:34 says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”

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