Raising Generations Today {The Conference}

As much as I adore my new locale, there’s just one thing that had me asking myself “Why!? Why did I leave Upstate NY?!”

Raising Generations Today

I also asked myself “Why, the year I move away, does an awesome conference finally come to the area–right to my old backyard?” Of all the conferences I’ve been to, this one promises to be the most focused on what is currently my biggest passion and also my area of greatest challenge: motherhood.

Oh, and did I mention, the gal hosting it is my very dear friend and mentor, September? Everything she does is filled with grace and compassion, and her impact on my life in the last two years has brought more joy and peace to my motherhood than I thought possible.

I was more than a tad disappointed that it looked like I’d miss this conference. But my Father, who knows the desires of my heart, surprised me last week when He made a way for me to go. Even though I now live 1000 miles away.

Excited doesn’t begin to describe it. Yikes, I have to NOT think about it at bedtime or I can’t sleep!

Raising Generations Today is an annual conference designed to equip and inspire moms to reach the hearts of their children for the glory of God.

The conference seeks to provide valuable resources, inspirational speakers, practical teaching materials, and multiple opportunities to connect with moms in every season of parenting.

Raising Generations Today seeks to offer hope to women so they may embrace their roles as moms and thrive in every season.

I can hardly believe all this conference has to offer:

  • How to find hope in motherhood
  • How to shape the hearts of your children
  • How to raise a healthy family
  • How to parent as a single mom
  • How to walk through infant/child loss
  • How to instill character education in your child
  • How to choose your child’s education
  • How to manage life through the early years
  • How to reach the heart of your teens

In addition to transforming hearts and minds, we also get to enjoy:

  • A heart full of hope
  • Inspirational messages from keynote speakers
  • Times of worship and praise
  • Fellowship with friends, old and new
  • Shopping on historic downtown Market Street
  • Dessert lounge relaxation and amazing giveaways
  • Special surprise speakers
  • Relaxing Spa Packages for purchase available on the premise
  • Delicious meals you didn’t have to prepare
  • Amazing gifts and flair from our conference sponsors

I’m especially looking forward to the keynote session by Lisa Jo Baker, as well as the sessions from Stephanie Langford on nourishing your family well.

If you are in the area, or able to travel to Upstate NY, I highly recommend this conference. I look forward to meeting you there!!!

Click here for more information about

Raising Generations Today!

March 21 & 22, 2014

Corning, New York

Grab your ticket here!

Confessions from a Retired Fighter (FMF: “Fight”)

(participating in Lisa Jo’s Five Minute Friday Prompt…on Monday because my internet is extremely temperamental and, hey, this thing ain’t about the rules anyway. It’s about just writing.)

I’m a fighter.

I prefer words to silence.

Work to rest.

Action over stillness.

But in the past year I’ve begun to realize that’s not what the Lord has called me to. As a believer, I’m called to trust, believe, and be still. My God says He will answer, move, and fight.

In conflict, I have always been the one who wants to talk (read: “shout”) it out. But my multitude of words are not God’s way. He is slowly showing me a different way–to quietly love those I’m at odds with and obey Him when he repeats, “Be still, I will fight your battles.”

When faces with an insurmountable goal (like rocking motherhood or overcoming my compulsive tendencies) my modus operondi is to strive, both mentally and physically, to make it happen, to change myself. But He has whispered to me that my heart and ways are in His hands, and he will accomplish His will in my life.

All my life I’ve been a fighter, but I’m beginning to see a different way to win.


 (P.S. if you notice something unexpected when you visit the blog this week, it’s simply because some friends more talented than myself are giving the blog a facelift. If you have suggestions for improvements–since we’re in that mode–feel free to email me!)

A Tour of Our New Home In Alabama

Y’all have been so patient. I checked out of the blog nearly three weeks ago promising I’d be back when we were settled in.

I’ve decided “settled” is a relative term (similar to “cool” or “warm” in relation to weather. More on that later.) I’ve slept in 7 different locations in four different states in the last three weeks. Half my life is still in boxes. I finally unpacked my suitcases last week just in time to fill them again to join Jeremy on a business trip to Orlando. Settled has not happened yet, and I’ve got a lot of down time in the car, so I’m gonna go ahead and give you a glimpse at our new life.

We arrived in Alabama a week before thanksgiving. We spent three nights on the bus before the heater died.


Seth and Lydia on my bed in the bus.

Our house didn’t have heat yet, and the weather had gotten “cool” (doing into the 20′s at night…gasp!). Thankfully, my in-laws were headed out of town thanksgiving week, leaving plenty of room for us to camp at their house till the weather warmed up enough for us to move into our home.


As disappointed as I was that we weren’t in our home for the holiday, I was grateful that I could walk over and work on unpacking each day that week, while not having to actually live and take care of my babies in a house that didn’t have running water, septic, or a stove to cook on.


Claire even got to make her first pie in grandma’s kitchen. If we had been in a half unpacked house, that never would have happened.


Neither would I have let Seth play with the leftover pastry.

BTW–Southern hospitality is not a myth–this is the second year in a row we’ve been “homeless” in Alabama for thanksgiving, and been invited to celebrate with great new friends and really tasty food. This year it was also Claire’s birthday…Here we are singing happy birthday after blessing the meal.


Finally, by the first of December, the stove was hooked up, and we had water thanks to running a hose across the lawn, and it wasn’t gonna freeze because the weather had warmed up, and we weren’t gonna freeze, and I really wanted to start advent in our home! So we made a couple of trips with the four wheeler and hauled us and the kids and our suitcases all into our house in time for bed and our advent reading.


Since then it’s been a gradual process of getting stuff hooked up and set up and plumbed and in working order. We put our home on a yet undeveloped lot in my in-laws mobile home park, meaning we were starting from scratch with utilities and septic. As of this post, we have all the modern amenities except for, um, bathrooms. So we’re using chamber pots. But I’ve done that before, so it’s not a huge deal. It’s worth it to me to be in our beautiful home!

So, are you ready for a tour? Yes, before it’s all picture perfect, I’m inviting y’all into my home. Nester says it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, and I’m gonna add, it doesn’t have to be finished to be home. Am I right?


Welcome to my new living room! I’m so stinkin’ excited about this room. First because it’s the most unpacked room in the house. Second because it’s twice the size of my old living room, and I feel like there’s gonna be some real great living gonna happen here. I could go on and on with what I love here, but I would probably bore you. Just come over and experience it for yourself. :-)


And yes, I started decorating for Christmas before I was all (or even half way) unpacked. Because I’ve learned I need to make beauty a priority in order to thrive. While all the other rooms in the house have looked a lot like ransacked storage units during the last two weeks, the living room has been an oasis.

The amount of fun I’m having with the abundant indigenous greenery here in the south cannot fit in this post. I’ve made yards of garlands so far and I’m just getting started!


Next is Claire’s room. Oh my heart. I love that my girl gets such a pretty, sun lit room! We put a queen size bed in so this room could also welcome guests.

The contrast between her room and the boys’ is hilarious….


Every day is fort building day. I have this deal worked out with Jesse that he gets another empty box every time he does a job for me. He loves earning building materials and is constantly cutting another box into something awesome.


Here’s the kids bathroom. I told you we didn’t have working bathrooms yet! This is definitely a before picture! We’ll both have to wait a bit longer for the after.


I assure you we don’t plan on leaving a toilet in the dining room. Notice the space heaters…We used those for two weeks in each room until we got our heater hooked up.

Here comes the kitchen…


Stove not in.


Stove in! Curtains up! Faucet in! So much to celebrate in this picture. That quiche was the first meal I made in my kitchen (other than soaked oatmeal which is so easy, it doesn’t count).


Here’s a shot of the dining room. And sister love.


Finally, here’s the master bedroom. Nothing much to look at. Yet. We’ve got great plans!


This is the master bedroom closet, which is so roomy, Lydia gets a corner all to herself. :-)

I’m not actually gonna show you my bathroom yet, not because it’s a terrific mess (though it is) but because I really want to reveal that room all at once.

Which means our indoor tour is complete. But, because this is Alabama, I have to mention…the woods.


But that won’t fit in this post either. And I created this whole post on my phone because we don’t have computer or internet at our house yet and I’m wore out! I did it ‘ cause I love you. :-)

Home Sweet Home Alabama

6 adults.
4 children.


4 vehicles.
3 trailers.


28 tires.


961 miles.


And not a single blown tire, detour, or delay. It was our smoothest trip yet (and we’ve made plenty!). We feel kinda like the Israelites whose sandals didn’t wear out in the wilderness.

We thank you for your prayers and support of our little family on our biggest adventure yet! Until we get settled in, my phone is my only internet, so I’m just popping in real quick to let you all know we made it safely here.


Now we are busy getting our home ready to move in…I’m writing this in the car on the way to Lowe’s for supplies! I’m looking forward to updating you all with a home tour when we get settled in! Until then, happy thanksgiving!

A Poem about Stuff

Yup, I’m gettin’ real deep here, ya’ll. And oh, so clever with my post titles, no?

The fact is, I’ve been going on minimal sleep now for a month (though Lydia is a good sleeper, really she is, there’s only so much shut eye to be had in a house of 4 children!) and every day is full. to. the. brim. with Important Things That Need To Be Done Before We Leave (in one week! Eeek!) so my personal writing has consisted mostly of scattered thoughts in my journal as I fall into bed at night. A few of these thoughts lined themselves up into a ragged poem last night…

Box Mountain

The box mountain
Inches toward the ceiling
Its base growing with its height.
My life packed up in
Screeching tape
And rigid cardboard.
One-hundred-forty boxes
So far
Methinks my house should feel empty
But it’s fuller than ever
Children racing through
Nearly-bare rooms
Making fun from scratch
Since most of the toys are packed
I meet my husband’s eyes
Our excitement for the
Current Adventure
Fills the space between and every room
I look again at the box mountain
And ask,
“Who needs all this stuff, anyway?!”

boxmountainToday I made it to the 150th box…and ran out of boxes. Tomorrow I shall drive to town for more. Oh, and to unload the trunk-full of stuff I decided should definitely go to the Salvation Army! lol I tell you, there’s nothing like facing hauling something 1000 miles to make you think twice as to whether it is crucial to your way of life. Can I get an amen?

Introducing Lydia

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for this special announcement…


Lydia Katelijn Holden arrived early Thursday morning, weighing 8 lbs and measuring 20 3/4 inches long. The Lord have us quick, smooth labor at home (birth story in drafts!). She was joyfully welcomed by her sister and big brothers…






We could not be more delighted, and thank God for this precious gift and special season welcoming Lydia!

(Her middle name is Dutch, and is pronounced ka-teh-LEAN.)

Posts in the real food journey series will continue on Monday…not because I’m super mom, but because I wrote and scheduled most of this series weeks ago, (I’m sneaky like that). I’m just giving you a heads up that I might be a little slower in joining you in the comments next week because I’ll be busy snuggling one of my four (four!) children, inhaling newborn perfume, or, you know, catching a nap here or there. ;-)

Having Fun with Our New Kindergarten Curriculum

When I opened up the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle last week, I thought I was getting just ebooks. But when I found entire kindergarten curriculums included in the package, I pretty much started dancing. We do school year ’round (which works with our kinda crazy traveling schedule) and I had just been looking around for what I could use for curriculum for our summer school session. The Raising Rock Stars Kindergarten Package was exactly what I needed for all three of the kids. How is that possible? I’ll show you.


Yesterday I printed out about half of the “A” activity pages from the Raising Rock Stars Package and passed them around to the kids. They were all excited about new “Table School” as we call it–even my 6 year old, who has not been a fan of seat work lately, actually got into it! The kids liked having something new and fit just to their age and abilities.


Jesse (6) is right at that point with his reading and writing that he needs gentle repetition. A tracing page with a scripture verse (woot!) allowed me to point out the small words he could sound out himself, and give him good writing practice was a win for both of us.


For Claire (4) there was shape recognition, and instructions to follow that will help her develop hand/eye coordination to be ready for writing.


For Seth (2) I just printed out something to be used as a coloring page. He was really happy about being up at the big table with the big kids doing the exact same thing as them! Look at the tongue sticking out in concentration!



Can you see the joy?

Last year I used the Explode the Code preschool books with Jesse–they are quality and we liked them. But we only ended up using about half of each book because he wasn’t into that much seat work I don’t believe in making younger children do a lot of repetition and handwriting practice anyway. The beauty of an online curriculum, I’m realizing, is the freedom to print as many or as few worksheets as that particular child needs. I can already tell Claire is gonna love worksheets, and I’m excited that I won’t have to purchase loads of consumable workbooks to keep her busy! I’m also delighted that I will not have to buy a new workbook each time one of my kids reaches the kindergarten level!

Another thing that impressed me with the Raising Rockstars Package, was the variety of skill levels within the package, allowing me to print work for all three ages of my kids from one curriculum! If you have a lot of littles just starting into homeschooling, this package would be very cost effective for you!



Here’s to fun summer school for everyone!


Happy anniversary of the day of your birth

I get tired of the same old birthday greeting sometimes, don’t you?

Anyway, I really just wanted to get on here and give a huge shout out to the love of my life, the mother of my children, the bestest friend I’ve ever known, my wife.

I can’t say enough how grateful I am to be able to call you mine, honey. You do so much for us I can’t even begin to list the ways you bless me–but I’m going to start anyway.

  • The effort you put into keeping house, from sorting paperwork (or trying to) to picking up these stupid toys yet again.
  • The time you spend preparing and serving healthy meals.
  • The way you have embraced (pun intended, I am a Holden after all :-)) the process of writing and marketing your books in order to bless those that read them and provide some extra income.
  • The time and energy you put into providing a great education for our children.
  • The way you organize our lives so we can live ‘on the road’ as much as we do.
  • I love how you are always looking for the thriftiest (is that a word??) way to keep all of our closets and dressers stocked with clothes that fit and to grow into.
  • Your love for life–from family bikes to long scenic drives through the mountains.
  • The way you support me and my passions.
  • The way you are always trying to find ways to bless each of our children’s unique personalities.

I could go on but I’ll say that’s a good start for now.

DSC04273I Love You!

How about you? In what ways has Trina been a blessing and had an impact in your life? Wish her a happy birthday and let her know in the comments.


Our Weekend: Unauthentic Seder Dinner and All


Ya’ll, I present to you the most laid back, inauthentic Seder dinner in the 3454 year history of Passover celebrations. Ritz crackers for Matzo. Steak bone for Lamb shank. Celery for Parsley. Kimchi for Horseradish sauce. But you know what? It worked. The purpose of celebrating this Jewish feast is to remind ourselves and our children of God’s great of His people–first from the Egyptions, and later, from Sin and Death through the sacrifice of His Son. We got it, the kids got it, and boy was that steak good! Oh, and I tried all week to do our Seder meal on a more appropriate night (like Passover on Tuesday, or on Maundy Thursday) but it wasn’t till Saturday that we pulled it together. So there. Free-style Seder. 


I took this picture just for you because I wanted you to see my hot crossed buns I made for Easter Sunday. But the buns never got crossed. Right after I took this picture, the bag exploded ’cause I’d made the icing too thick and the plastic just couldn’t hold up to the pressure of my formidable fist. They were still delicious.


This year I FINALLY figured out why I always have trouble putting together an Easter outfit.  I have always thought you were supposed to wear pastels like pale pink, green, yellow or lavender for Easter, and I this past year I figured out I just don’t do pastels. Instead I wore this here indigo maxi dress I made last summer that looked a little too maternity-ish at the time (as in, I put it on, and Mr. Holden asked how far along I was) but now it looks just right, dontcha think? And I’m 11 weeks, if you were wondering. (dontcha love the Rolling pin #PhotoBomb? Believe me when I say I do not actually store my rolling pin there.)


This little man. Swoon. New shirt and pants from Grandma. Hamming it up for the camera. New hair cut, too. I want to eat him. Every time I tell him that, though, he says, “Don’t eat me! Tickle me!” He has learned the art of compromise. 


Ya’ll, I now have a chalkboard wall, and am challenging myself to a new bit of art every weekend, using Pinterest for inspiration for quotes and font styles. This is a quick, fun way for me to make time for a little beauty in my day. It’s not perfect, but it brings me joy.

My mind wanders a lot in church, especially when preggo, as I feel my sugar begin to drop and wonder where I stuffed that cheese stick for my snack. But yesterday’s message snagged my mind and has stuck with me. The Pastor spoke on how we usually think of hope as a verb (something we have to DO), or as a noun (something we have to GET), but the reality is, hope is a Person: Jesus Christ.  I don’t have to do, I don’t have to strive to get, I can just rest in the One who saved my soul and is redeeming my life every day. I tell you, that truth had me praising God this morning as I saw a few rays of sunshine fighting through the grey of our late spring.

We have a Risen Hope. Hallelujah!

Tomorrow’s the big day! Keeping it real: Jeremy and I will be up late tonight finalizing links and making everything ready to share my new book with you tomorrow! I totally can hardly wait! If you want to be the FIRST to hear the moment the links go live, make sure you’re signed up to my newsletter. Subscribers always get the first scoop!

Your turn: Did you have a less-than-perfect but still-beautiful moment this weekend? Tell me about it?

An Invitation in Disguise

For a while I resented the call. I worked on the book, I prayed a lot about the book, I talked with God about the book, but deep down I resented that He would call me to something that would require so much going to Him, so little of my actual abilities. Because it’s kinda easier to push ahead in my own strength than it is to sit quiet before Him and wait.

Finally one day I realized what I had been doing — carrying this well-disguised anger at the Almighty. So, I humbly apologized, and, not without resignation, said, “I’ll embrace this call.” And that’s when He spoke to me…


For more, hop over to my post on Kindred Grace today: When a Book is Not Just a Book.