The 15 Minute Outside Challenge

The 15 Minute Outside Challenge

My husband and I recently admitted that screens were once again taking up too much of our family’s time. As I looked for substitute activities, I found the book, 15 Minutes Outside. One of the weird things about me, having grown up camping, gardening, and working on a farm, is that 15 minutes outside seems like a long time. I’m not a fan of getting dirty, I can’t stand mosquitos (though they love me) and I absolutely, positively hate being cold. Couple that with the fact that almost all of my responsibilities take place inside and it’s a wonder I even sampled the book. But I did. Even though my husband is amazing about getting our kids outside to play, I have felt guilty about my indoor ways. First, I know that the sun and fresh air are good for my health (and my kids’). Second, I love the idea of using nature to teach kids. I have the Handbook of Nature Study and I’ve looked longingly at the great blog that inspires homeschoolers to use it. I did the first outing that was recommended in our neighborhood and it was a terrific time! But sadly, the first outing was the last. Finally, I have been wanting to spend more time just playing with my kids and enjoying them. I tend to teach and train and then I’m often too tired for more.

The Challenge

For those reasons and to entice the kids away from the screens, I announced that I was going to spend fifteen minutes outside with the kids every day. The kids were excited and started thinking of all the fun places we could go. Pathetically, they reminded me of our one and only nature outing. At lunch, we shared the news with Dad, who thought it was a great idea. As my son played with our dog (pictured bottom right), I kept thinking of how I was going to endure 15 minutes on the coldest, wettest days. My husband said, “It’s torture for her.” I nodded, surprised that my husband knew what I was feeling. Then I realized that he was telling my son not to let the dog get so close to the food on the table. Right after lunch, I donned my jacket and headed out for a game of basketball P-I-G. (The kids reminded me of my commitment–already.) I was shocked that even my homework-addicted teen joined the fun. Not only did he join, but he thanked me later for the invitation. I have to admit that I planned on setting my iPhone timer for 15 minutes. The kids would have none of that, though, and we ended up playing for half an hour. We had a little bit of a nature study in that we tried to identify where the woodpecker pecking sound was coming from. But mostly, it was just good, refreshing fun. To make it less torture for me, I plan to photograph, blog, and scrapbook our 15-minute outdoor adventures this year here on my personal blog. I’ll be indoors for most of that! It isn’t realistic for me to blog daily, so my goal is a weekly roundup post. I’m also not promising to get outside when there’s a tornado warning, it’s -50F, or I’m really sick. But I’m willing to get out of my comfort zone. Here are some links with more on the challenge:

P.S. I’d love to have some company! Care to join me?


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Why Bother?

Why Bother?


I’m having a cranky day when I’m wondering why I bother to:

  • Write what few people read
  • Clean when it gets messed up again
  • Buy things that are broken right away
  • Be kind when I don’t get kindness in return
  • Teach my kids when the lessons seem quickly forgotten
  • Work toward my goals when almost no one cares what I do

I’m sick and tired, thus I am vulnerable. At these times, I hear the voice of my enemy saying, “Why bother?” He knows well how I depend on encouragement from others. When it isn’t there, he knows how to turn my funk into a fiasco. When he is done talking, I want to go back to bed and forsake writing, homemaking, kindness, parenting, and working forever.

But the same question that I asked myself I have to ask my enemy. Why bother? If I were an insignificant woman, why would you spend your time and energy trying to talk me into giving up? Jesus breaks into the discussion.

“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” – Matthew 4:10

We bother because we are serving the Lord. He reads every word we write and He sees us cleaning, returning kindness for evil, teaching the resistant learner, and achieving His purposes for us. He likes it all.

So why do we bother listening to any voice but His?

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How to Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus

How to Have a Personal Relationship with Jesus

 I remember my missionary sister-in-law talking about having a personal relationship with Jesus soon after I met her. I didn’t really know what she meant.

I believed in Jesus. I heard about him in church. I’d read a little about him in the Bible. Certainly, I’d prayed in His name. Was that a personal relationship? I didn’t know.

Now I do. Having a personal relationship with Jesus is not much different than having a personal relationship with someone else. Do you have a personal relationship with me? Many of you do. But if you only believe that I exist, you’ve only heard about me, you’ve read a little of my words, or you’ve used my name in conversation, that isn’t a personal relationship. 

If you want a personal relationship with me or with Jesus, the first step is the same: talk! Jesus isn’t a celebrity surrounded by body guards, too busy to talk with you (thankfully, neither am I!). I remember the thrill of getting a response to an email or letter I’ve sent to someone famous. While we can’t be sure of getting an answer from a celebrity, we can be sure that Jesus will answer us when we communicate with Him. 

The second step in establishing a personal relationship with Jesus is to listen. While Jesus doesn’t have a Facebook page, a YouTube account, or an email address, He does have a great way of communicating with us. He wrote a best selling book that tells us how He feels about us, His tips for living our best life, and His plans for our future. 

Talk to Jesus in prayer and listen to Him by reading the Bible and you will have a personal relationship with Him. That relationship, unlike going through the motions of going to church or trying to look good on the outside, is what can change your life! If having a personal relationship with me can help you have a personal relationship with Him, let me know. I am glad to pray for you, point you in the right direction, or respond to your comments.

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