Welcome to my world!
I hope you’ll stay.
Since Father’s love changed me
I have something to say.
The One who loves me,
See, He also loves you
The things He’s done for me
He will do for you, too.
So come with me
As I follow the Lamb
Wherever He goes.
My life’s in His hand.
I trust Him and follow Him
No matter the cost.
Without His great love for me
I would be lost.
The words that you find here
I hope will breathe life.
In each day and moment
You’ll find His delight.
For surely His love for you
Is greater than you know.
Come with me now
To His presence we’ll go.
York, Pennsylvania 2011
Katy, Texas 2012
Mary Jo Peckham Park
Katy, TX 2013 Mary Jo Peckham Park
Katy, TX Honey Farm, 2014
Hi, I’m Penney Douglas. I have been married to my precious husband for 26 years. We have been exceedingly and abundantly blessed with 10 children. They all belong to me and my husband. And to think that I was afraid I would never get married! I got a late start, but I guess late bloomers can blossom profusely once they get started.
I blog for several reasons. I like to keep a record of what we’re doing in our homeschooling and share ideas for other homeschoolers or moms who like to work and play with their kids. I try to encourage families to keep Christ first in their homes so they can be all that they were made to be. I want to help others to draw closer to God. I hope to glorify God and give Him praise for all that He does for us.
I am constantly learning, changing and growing. Sometimes I feel like a beginner even though I’ve been a Christian since I was 4 years old and I’ve been homeschooling for about 15 years. And I’ve been living for __ years (long enough!).
But the Lord has been faithful to keep me and my family on an upward climb drawing nearer to Him in spite of our weaknesses and mistakes.
He has led us on a crooked path across the United States and back and then some. (From Ohio to Kansas City to Arizona to Colorado, back to Kansas City to Illinois to Pennsylvania and now to Texas!) We are still looking for that place to call home. We hope to find it before the oldest chicks are ready to fly from the nest! But our desire is that they land somewhere near us even when that time comes.
We are believing God for miracles of provision. We have already seen many. We suffered the loss of our home almost 10 years ago. Now we live in a different state, and my husband is making more money than ever before. But the money is beside the point. What God did in each of our hearts, convincing us of His reality and His love for us, is worth more than all of the houses or money in the world. But now He has enabled us to help others in need, and we are grateful for the opportunity to bless others.
Our children are truly gifts from God. They learn from us and teach us so much. I would never have known even a fraction of how much God loves me if I had never had the opportunity to be a mother to my precious children. They are teaching me even more as they grow in wisdom and understanding and we share together what the Lord is teaching us.
Family was God’s idea. Marriage was His idea. God has good ideas. His ideas work.
He wants our families to be training grounds for children (and adults) to learn His ways and right ways of relating to God and to people. We learn how to die to ourselves when others are dependent on us, and when we have to learn to get along with the people around us in order to experience peace and harmony. The rough edges are rubbed off as we care enough to be honest with each other and humble ourselves to receive correction even from those younger than ourselves.
God created us because He wanted a family. That’s more than a trite saying. He created us in His image so that He could have sons and daughters that would look like Him, act like Him and love Him. He wanted to be a father.
He created you so He could love you. Receive His love for you. Let Him be your Daddy.
I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Party 2012 at 5 Minutes for Mom. The second post on this page tells more about me and why I write this blog. If you’re a homeschooler, please read this first post and do whatever you can to preserve our homeschool freedom in this nation.
I would like to challenge new homeschoolers to carry the torch of homeschooling without government interference. Please learn the history of homeschooling in the United States. Find out about what happens in other countries when people desire to teach their children at home so that they can impart their values to their children.
See this story, for example. In most countries, they are persecuted and their children are taken away from them or forcibly taken to public school.
We have the freedom to homeschool in every state in the United States – now. But it didn’t used to be that way. Chris Klicka and the wonderful people at HSLDA helped the early homeschool pioneers to fight to make it legal. Before that, people in the U.S. who felt that God was calling them to teach their children at home were treated just like those people in other countries are treated now. They were persecuted by truant officers. They were even thrown in jail. They had their children taken away from them. They had Children’s Services called on them. They had to hide in their homes and never go out during school hours, or they would get “caught” homeschooling. This was in the 1980’s and ’90’s. It wasn’t that long ago.
There are books that tell some of these stories of the hard-fought battle to make homeschooling legal in America. One of these is Homeschool Heroes by Chris Klicka. There are interviews with early pioneers that tell of the harrowing experiences of being taken to court and threatened with jail time if they continued to educate their children at home. One that I know of is at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/watchtalk/2009/09/01/cultivating-your-childs-potential. This is an interview that Diana Waring did with Zan Tyler, who began homeschooling long before it was cool or accepted. The Lord led her into homeschooling and led her through the fire of legal battles and real threats to her freedom. Her stories are amazing and hard for us to believe in the atmosphere we live in now with the acceptance of homeschooling that we enjoy.
But there are threats to our freedom to homeschool in the way that we feel led of the Lord. Many times there has been legislation brought up to try to regulate homeschooling. This has happened in state governments and even in the federal government. The homeschoolers of my generation knew that we were the beneficiaries of great sacrifice and work by the generation before us. Our local support groups and state organizations made sure that we knew that homeschooling is a privilege to be cherished. They told us to guard that freedom and not to be fooled by any attempts of the establishment to infringe upon our rights or to curtail them in any way.
There have been several attempts to force homeschool parents to get a teaching certificate. Education falls under the auspices of state government, so the rules vary from state to state. Each of us needs to watch our state governments and see what legislation they are considering regarding our right to homeschool freely without any government interference. Each homeschool family should join HSLDA and keep track of legislation and threats to our freedom and cases where freedom is already being challenged by public schools and legislators. We all need to stand together.
Please be vigilant about this precious right that we have and don’t hand anything to your local school district that is not required by the law of your state. Be careful and cherish homeschooling as the gift of God that it is.
I linked this post at the BIG Family Friday Link Up at Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling
There has been too much life going on in my life.
I recently read this line in a novel, “I trust God, but I don’t trust life.”
That’s how I feel right now.
I know that God works all things together for my good. But life can and does include warfare. We are in a war. There are two kingdoms. They are at war with each other.
We are caught in the middle.
And sometimes we catch an arrow.
I think I caught a few of them in the last couple of months.
I am fighting a physical battle.
I am taking some products to try to cleanse, heal and replenish what my body needs.
The cleansing process is making me tired.
I’m still praying and believing for healing from the residual effects of vertigo.
It seems that my health has been deteriorating ever since that happened 4 years ago.
I’ve been brought down to zero energy, but I believe the Lord is giving me wisdom and access to products that are bringing me back to life.
Things have been hectic in relationships in my family.
That has been very troubling to me.
Financially, things have still been tight.
That should start changing soon.
Storms, giants, war, trials, strained relationships.
In the middle of this, my dad had a stroke.
I went to help him during his recovery. It was a big trip with 7 of my children, driving about 10 hours a day for 2 days to get to Ohio from Texas.
That was no vacation. Lots of warfare.
Relationships have been a big priority lately.
And not going very well.
How honest are we really supposed to be? What if you discover that things in your family are not as peachy keen as you thought they were? How do you help someone who doesn’t want help? How do you get along with someone who doesn’t try to adjust to what you need them to do so that life with them can be pleasant and enjoyable?
I came face to face with these issues and more.
I didn’t handle some of these things very well.
I didn’t recognize attacks of the enemy.
I gave my mind over to some really negative, destructive thoughts.
I felt overwhelmed.
But through it all, God sustained me.
Now He is rebuilding me.
I keep hearing words like “the Holy Spirit is your helper”, “the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives in you”, “David fought the giant and he won, and we serve the same God that he served”, and “we must praise Him in the storm – believe and not doubt”.
I’m recognizing attacks of the enemy sooner and taking thoughts captive that are totally against God’s will for my life, my marriage and my family.
Now things are getting clearer.
Have you ever been through a time like this?
When everything seemed so negative and impossible to fix.
When you didn’t really even care enough to try.
You feel like throwing in the towel.
Let me encourage you to keep trudging through it.
Let God carry you.
Let Him speak life to you through ministers.
Continue to listen to words of life through ministers of the gospel, at your church and elsewhere – wherever you can get fed.
You might be beyond caring or feel like your situation is impossible.
Everything might feel dark and hopeless, but hold on to the anchor of hope.
God is that anchor.
The Holy Spirit will help you hold on.
I know. He did it for me.
Things are still unsettled, but they’re getting better.
Things and people and circumstances are changing for the better.
God is doing a new thing.
Light is shining and chasing away the darkness.
I’m refusing to dwell on the negative thoughts, and I’m changing for the better.
Life can be hard.
It is a war. There are terrible enemies. Spiritual enemies that we can’t see. There are giants. There are storms.
People are flawed.
They are sinners.
They hurt us, many times unintentionally. Sometimes just because their will is totally against our will, and we see that they are hurting themselves. But they don’t see it that way.
Then the relationship is very strained.
But Jesus has promised us victory over all of those things.
If we hold onto Him, and believe His word and keep saying it, He will bring us through.
Then no matter what life throws at us, we will come out bearing a sweet fragrance before God.
2 Cor. 2:14-16 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
Out of the bitter comes the sweet.
Let the bitter things of life that come your way produce a sweet fragrance in you.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
If you want to live a life free of undue pressure and guilt, pray about making these declarations to yourself:
I’m not trying to impress anybody.
I’m not trying to live up to anybody else’s expectations.
I’m not going to take on false responsibility.
If it’s not really my responsibility, I’m not going to feel responsible for it.
I’m not going to feel pressured by somebody else to do something that I don’t want to do.
I won’t try to shame or pressure my kids to do something just because I would like for them to do it when they reach the age that they can decide for themselves what they will do. This age is upper teens, when they start driving and are past the age of accountability.
My dad had a stroke at the end of February, right before his 80th birthday.
I needed to go see him and help in any way I could.
So 7 of the kids and I piled into the van and drove for 2 days to go visit the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We stayed for almost 2 weeks.
My brother and sister and their families really made the time special for my kids.
Kelsey kept our traditions even though we were far from home.
She made green eggs and ham – which Patrick enjoyed immensely!
And she also made green lemon squares. Yum!
Have you ever felt like God just chased you down and surprised you with a blessing?
That’s how I felt a couple of weeks ago. I had been planning my mom tea party, and we had a couple staying with us while they look for a job and transition to Houston who happened to be expecting a baby any day. The mother of the pregnant woman, who is also a very dear friend, was coming to stay with us, too, to help when the baby came and to help with the couple’s 15-month-old. All of these things were swirling around in my mind when Gary called from work and said that they were going to send him to Charleston for a few days. I just flippantly said, “Can I go with you?” He said, “Yeah if you want to.” REALLY? Could I really do something so spontaneous with all of these other things happening and about to happen at my house? Could I just take off and leave in the midst of all the preparations and plans and unknowns that defined my life right at that moment? It turns out the answer was “yes”!
It seemed crazy, but we started planning our escape – I mean, departure – and it all worked out. The day before I left, the expectant mommy had an appointment with her midwife and found out she was dilated to 3 and the baby had dropped and she could have it any time. Her mother was planning to drive to our home and arrive about the same time that I would be returning from Charleston. The tea party was planned for the following Thursday, and I had planned to go to Goodwill to get tea cups and other serving dishes for the tea party during the week of Gary’s trip.
But I dropped all of that and flew off to Charleston with Gary.
We had to run through airports and barely caught both of our flights. But when the dust settled, we sat beside each other and held hands as I gazed out the window and enjoyed the view from above for the first time in about 23 years. I really enjoyed it.
We got a rental car when we arrived at Charleston, and Gary drove us to our hotel. He is familiar with Charleston since he lived and worked there for a year in 2011.
We checked in and got situated, then went on an old-fashioned trolley to eat at Chick-fil-A. We found out we were in “college town”, and the restaurant was an express Chick-fil-A with a limited menu and limited space that catered to college students. It was interesting to be among so many young college students, but they behaved themselves well, and we were surprised at their civility.
Nothing spectacular, but none of the street jargon and immature behavior that I’ve come to expect from young people these days.
We enjoyed our lunch and our walk around town as we headed to the nearest Trolley pick-up point.
Neither one of us was in a hurry or felt stressed about anything. We just lived in the moment and enjoyed being together.
Gary was the most relaxed I’ve seen him in a long time.
He just wanted to please me and show me a good time.
We had some ideas of places that we wanted to see because a woman we met at the baggage claim at the airport told us some of the best places to go and even went and got some pamphlets and ran back to give them to us. We felt lots of favor, like God was really smiling on us and causing people to go out of their way to be friendly and help us.
One place she said we HAD to go was Magnolia Plantation. So we did!
It was cold! We rode on the “train”, and I had 3 blankets covering me! Our driver was a good guide, and we enjoyed our nature ride, even though we were freezing. We’re used to temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s most of the time. That day in Charleston was probably 50 or lower, so that was really cold for us.
I visited the petting zoo alone – all alone – I was the only person in there among all of the animals. Some of the deer were roaming free. There was a deer just inside the gate. I turned to him with my hands out to pet him, but he mistook my sign for “I’ve got food for you.” He tried to eat me! When he realized I didn’t have food in my hands, he went for my purse. He put his nose into my purse, and I pulled it away real fast. Then he got ahold of the zipper on the outside of my purse with his teeth and yanked his head sideways. He unzipped the front pocket of my purse! That was enough for me. I ran to the gate, opened it and got out of there! I watched from my safe place until the scary deer walked away. Then I worked up my courage and went back in.
Oh sure, look all sweet and innocent, why don’t ya.
He really did get aggressive with my purse and everything.
I walked around the corner of a building and there was this goat looking at me all curious-like.
I laughed and snapped his picture.
There were lots of pretty peacocks preening for me. I don’t know if they were trying to get food from me or what, but a bunch of them were showing off, even this poor old bedraggled guy.
Gary and I got along so well, and had so much fun just being together. There was this one time, though…
We were all excited. We had a block of time that we could just go and do something, but we didn’t know exactly what to do or where to go. I wanted to see some live oaks. It was too late to visit any plantations or the Angel Oak Tree we had heard so much about, because they all closed at 5:00. So we got in the car and started driving. Gary asked where I wanted to go. I didn’t know specifically since the places I wanted to go were closed already or about to close. I don’t know the area, and I just had a vague idea that we ought to be able to find live oaks with a pathway through them that we could walk on or something like that. I was poring over our tourist book and the pamphlets we had, trying to find a specific place with an address. Gary was driving in heavy traffic asking me where I wanted to go. I asked how far we were from Mt. Pleasant, because I saw a picture of a path going beside some live oaks, and the only information I could find on the page was that it was in Mt. Pleasant. Gary took the GPS off the windshield and told me to find it.
I don’t have much experience with a GPS, so I wasn’t sure what to do. He was fighting traffic and waiting for a destination, so he was slightly distracted and overwhelmed. I was frustrated, because he was asking me where I wanted to go when I didn’t know what was there or how to get anywhere. So we got angry at each other and raised our voices. I felt like he was blaming me for everything that was bad, including the traffic. The way he worded things and the attitude he seemed to have made me feel like he was blaming me. We had our little argument over whether it was my fault and took out our frustrations on each other, then I spotted an address of a park in Mt. Pleasant, so we put that in the GPS and headed there. When we finally got there, we were not happy with each other, but we got out and looked around anyway. There was nobody else there. It was cold. It would be really pretty on a warm day. There would be lots to do there in the summer. But it was pretty abandoned that day. And we didn’t see any live oaks there. We took a few pictures of a lagoon, and looked around some more. Neither of us was saying much.
Then he drove to the beach that he knew was near there. I’m not a fan of the beach. My lack of balance makes the whole beach experience very uncomfortable. And I’m not a big fan of sand, either.
And it was extremely cold.
So he parked the car and got out and walked to the beach while I waited in the car. He came back after a while, and we drove back to the hotel in silence.
I don’t remember how we got back into a happier mood that night, but eventually we did. If I remember right, we were okay when we got back to the hotel and the valet took our car to park it. We always enjoyed little chats with the valets when we brought the car back for them to park. And I don’t remember that night being an exception. So somewhere along the way, we must have made up. We lost our connection for a couple of hours, but we both forgave and re-connected with each other before we got back to the hotel. It’s a shame that we lost that fun block of free time that we both had looked forward to, but we did get past it and come back together in a shorter time than it used to take. I can’t remember specifics, but I know that I, at least, am being more intentional about not nursing a grudge or replaying in my mind what he said or did that offended me or was rude or inconsiderate, and I’m trying harder to re-establish the connection between us when things like that happen. Reading the book, Keep Your Love On, has helped me with this. I’m also trying harder to communicate what I was feeling and why I said what I said or reacted the way I did, so that Gary has a better chance of understanding what went went wrong instead of being clueless and trying to figure out on his own what just happened. I remember that I did pray that God would help us to get back in right standing with each other. I didn’t pray in pity party mode, telling God how mean Gary had been or a “get him, God” attitude, which I’ve done in the past. I sincerely asked God to help us get through this situation in a loving way, and He did.
These things happen, unfortunately, but I’m thankful for the keys I’ve learned recently, like protecting the connection no matter what, and doing what I can on my part to keep on acting in a loving way and communicating even when it’s difficult and uncomfortable to do so. Communicating in a respectful, calm way.
I share this, not just to air our dirty laundry, which I really don’t enjoy doing, but to give an example of how things can go awry, but they can be resolved without bloodshed if we really try to walk in love, keep our love on. It takes a continual dying to self and a constant reminding ourselves that we love each other and we are on the same side, not against each other. We are trying to have fun together, not find fault or criticize the way the other says or does things. We are trying to be unoffendable. We are far from perfect, but we are trying.
That was really the only sour time we had during our four-day getaway.
The rest of the time was very sweet!
Gary really went out of his way to please me. He wanted me to enjoy myself, and I really did.
One night we went out to eat at the Irish Pub the lady at the airport told us about where a really good violin player and his dad and another guy played. Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub.
We sat at the table closest to the musicians. We went early and just stayed until the music started. And we stayed through almost all of it. We enjoyed it immensely.
Then we went to see the highlight of our trip. Angel Oak Tree.
We had heard about it 2 years ago when Gary was working in Charleston. I did not want to miss out on it. We planned to see it on the way to the airport on Saturday. We spent an hour there just admiring it and taking pictures of it.
It was truly a marvel of God’s creation.
We both walked around trying to find the best angles for photographs.
I loved our second honeymoon so much. It was much better than the first. Married love, mature love (sort of) is awesome! Stick with your mate. It will be worth it.
I am so glad that Gary and I have held on to each other through all that we’ve been through. And I’m so thankful that God is teaching us how to get along better now when it’s so crucial. He is revealing to us hidden issues and showing us how to deal with them.
We are becoming more united, more one all the time.
Prayer works! I want to encourage you to keep praying for your mate. And learn as much as you can about building good relationships. Life is meant to be joyful, fun and fulfilling. The same for marriage. But we have to work at it. It doesn’t just happen.
God is there to help you with your marriage. Make sure you put Him at the center of your own life, your marriage, and your relationships with your children and everyone else.
The Angel Oak Tree has a fence around it. They say that tree is 1600 years old. And they want it to live as long as it possibly can. So they have warning signs telling people not to deface it or carve on it or climb it or basically touch it at all. This tree is well-protected. They close the tree at 5:00 and nobody can get near it again until they open the gate the next morning.
If people care that much about a tree and take such measures to protect it, we should be willing to take measures to protect our marriages. And the best protective measure I know of is to pray for it.
Let your love grow, spread, and shoot out branches to reach out and overshadow and protect all who come near. Like the Angel Oak.
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. Psalm 96:12
And the sun goes down on the palmetto tree!
Oh Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and held a tea party at my home last night.
It was for moms to be pampered and treated like princesses.
My kids made it happen!
My little girls dressed up in fancy dresses and helped serve the treats. Garrett dressed up in a tuxedo and met people at the door.
Kelsey baked two different kinds of cookies.
Anna helped with cleaning.
Kelsey helped with everything!
Morgan was dressed very nicely and served everyone their tea.
We had quite a selection of tea, and every woman chose the kind of tea she wanted.
Every woman had her own cup.
Morgan set up the tv to play wonderful Classical music throughout the evening. It was perfect! It set the mood, tone and atmosphere for the whole party.
Kelsey helped me set a beautiful table, complete with two teapots, a teacup for each mom, and delicious treats: a variety of cookies, cheesecake brownies, red velvet cupcakes and a fruit tray. And a vase of flowers as a centerpiece.
I regret that I don’t have many pictures, but I was busy living in the moment.
I got most of the dishes and cups from Goodwill. I didn’t try very hard to make everything match. I just got my favorite things that I found at Goodwill. But they looked very pretty when we put them all together.
I had made a flyer and posted it on our neighborhood website. I had hand-delivered invitations to my immediate neighbors. And I invited a few women that I knew from church. Some of them told me they couldn’t come until later, and I told them to just come whenever they could.
Five women came.
I prayed that God would send the ones that were supposed to come.
Everyone seemed very comfortable with each other. We had good conversation, and it seemed like everyone there contributed to the conversation and enjoyed what was happening. Only two of the women knew each other.
We talked mostly about the things that God had done for us. Lots of those things involved our children and families.
I did talk a little bit about the book, Own Your Life, by Sally Clarkson. I told them that it was while reading this book that God deposited in my heart the idea that I should reach out to my neighbors and provide a time of refreshing and pampering for moms around me. An interesting phenomenon that occurred is that most of the women who came live really close by, but only one was actually from my neighborhood.
But most of us there were sort of neighbors, in a broad sense. Of course, one of the ladies was a dear friend of mine from my home state whom I have known for 14 years, who lives in Louisiana now. She is visiting here because her daughter and son-in-law are staying here while they transition to Houston. Her daughter had a baby that very morning and was upstairs with her newborn baby during our tea party!
But we all felt connected and comfortable with each other and had sweet fellowship together.
I showed them this short clip near the end of our time together:
I talked about how we each have our own cup, our own portion, that God gives us. He gives us the life that we have, and He wants us to accept what we have been given and make the best of it. And make it really good. Make it happy and joyful and fun. Do what we like to do, because our kids want a happy mom.
I like the phrase, “Become the best version of you.” I think I read that in Own Your Life, or something that Sally Clarkson wrote on her blog.
I have learned and am learning so much from the book, Own Your Life.
I would encourage all of my friends to read it. It has a special emphasis on motherhood, but any wholehearted Christian would benefit from reading her message about “living with deep intention, bold faith and generous love”.
I am grateful for the inspiration I received from this book to open my home and heart to my neighbors and prepare a lovely tea party and time of refreshment for them.
I believe we all were refreshed and rejuvenated, and I felt deep fulfillment and joy from the whole experience.
I am very proud of my children and thankful for all that they did.
It was a great blessing to all of us.
And the blessings go beyond what I can see with my eyes.