Back to the Gym

Real Reason Homeschooling(1)

Today I went back to the gym after growing a baby, birthing a beautiful son, helping him learn to eat and sleep, and generally keeping a family and home running (somewhat) smoothly for almost a year. And I know you were wondering so yes, those are my legs in the photo.

Last year at this time I had a great rhythm going. I was beginning to love to run (me?! LOVE to run?? Surely you are kidding…) and that in itself was a surprise and a gift. But once the baby-growing took over my body, and the deep weariness set in, I let that part of my life take a back seat. With no regrets or hang ups, I put it down for a season.

Only, I would find myself actually *missing* the workout. Yes, the time alone to listen to podcasts and rap music, but mostly the exercise itself. The burn and sweat and freedom of movement. I was expending calories and always tired from said baby-growing, but I wasn’t getting that endorphin high from half an hour on the treadmill. I craved the release of kinetic energy. Who was I? This was new.

And you must know, dear reader, that my daily life is MUCH more physical than I ever imagined it would be. Chasing boys, cleaning up messes, kissing faces, holding hands, climbing stairs, carrying a baby (plus a diaper bag and almost certainly a third item), doing laundry, brushing a dog, cooking…the list is endless. I was exhausted, and yet, I missed the workout.

Maybe it’s the focused exertion? The pushing a little bit harder, a little bit further this time? I don’t know. It’s a little silly to wax poetic about missing the gym, but it’s also a nice feeling to have this part of my life back. It’s nice to lace up my running shoes and feel capable, confident.

Exercise, for me, has to have meaning. Not necessarily a clear goal (I’m not trying to get to a certain number on the scale or anything) but I must be motivated by the why.

So here I am, starting over again. Pounding the proverbial pavement. Doing the dang thing. Not focusing so much on any particular result, but zeroing in on the real reason I’m turning up– I’m doing it for them. I want to be strong for the years to come of mothering my boys.


The Real Reason We Are Homeschooling

Real Reason Homeschooling

After giving a little life update on Instagram recently and sharing that our family has decided to homeschool, I had a handful of friends message me and ask that I share more about what led to this decision. There are so many elements that have contributed to our arrival at this decision that it’s kind of hard to know where to start. But I guess I’ll just dive in.

As a bit of history– I attended public school K-12 and Michael attended both public and Christian/private and also homeschooled 2 years (7th & 8th grade.)

Let me just begin by saying that this decision was so. hard.

Before I had kids (all the best statements start that way! ha) I didn’t give the education of my children much thought. But once my first born hit about 3 years old, I was like, “Hold up…I have to make this epic decision right now?!” Which of course, I didn’t. I had time. But the decision felt epic…it felt too big for me to make alone, or even for Michael and I to make together. We needed the Lord’s guidance and we began to pray about the right direction.

Our oldest did his first year (pre-K) at a homeschool enrichment program that met once a week but went all day (9am – 3pm.) For months he would cry every time that we left him. I waited for him to get used to the routine, but 6 months in and he was still crying. I struggled with knowing if this was the normal adjustment or if he needed something different than what we were offering him. It was a good program with a wonderfully supportive staff and yet, there were other signs that he wasn’t fully engaged.

Fast forward to the next year– his Kindergarten year. We are continuing to pray, I am researching and reading all about different homeschooling methods and ideas, and we are talking to friends that homeschool about their experiences. The school year begins and although I am wrestling in prayer over it still, we send him to the public school down the road from where we live. At this point I am working and am 8 months pregnant and even though this homeschooling idea is alive and well in my heart, it’s been temporarily put on the back burner. It felt too big to take on at that point, too much. I’m not sure what I thought it had to be, but my expectations are usually way too high and especially so for myself (grace! I’m learning…) so I was afraid of making the decision. I was scared of failing.

The very first week of school and I can already sense there are changes in our home. This new schedule of having to get the boys up at 6:45, get myself and everyone ready, and my oldest off to school by 7:40 is brutal. We are rushed and stressed. Some mornings go smoothly, but most are a challenge. My work day gets shifted into the hours of 8-2:30 and then I am back in the carpool lane by 2:45. We finally get home by 3:20 and then the second shift of the day starts– homework (yes, homework for kindergarten!) and housework and dinner and clean up and bath and bedtime routine. And then make a packed lunch for the next day. And then maybe try to hang out with Michael before crashing asleep (pregnant, remember?) It was not the lifestyle that I wanted for us long term, but it was the season we were in and we had to do our best.

When I would dream about what I really wanted, it looked so different. I wanted a peaceful home, most of all. A sanctuary from the loud and busy and demanding world. A place for my family to rest and to grow and to love one another and a place where we could all thrive. I also wanted freedom and flexibility in our day, in our schedule, and in what we put our hands and minds to. I wanted to give my boys the chance to really fall in love with learning and not just the experience of “going to school.” I wanted to train them in a holistic way; yes, we would teach them to read and write and know how to calculate sums, but also how to take care of themselves and their surroundings, and how to speak with respect and how to listen to others, and sometimes how to make soup and bread and have a civilized conversation over the meal. I wanted to raise these little boys in a way that would produce good men. And I wanted our days to be marked by prayer and scripture and inviting the Holy Spirit to guide us, always.

Another important element that influenced our decision was simply time– we wanted as much time with our boys as possible, recognizing both our responsibility to guide and train them and the limited amount of time we would actually have to do that (we wanted more than 3 hours on weekdays with them and we also respected the short years they would actually be under our roof.) The time we have to influence our boys is a precious gift and I was increasingly feeling the weight of that gift.

So what was holding me back from making the switch? As I mentioned before (did you catch it?)…F E A R.

Ugh. Fear of failing my boys, of not being a good enough teacher, good enough mother, good enough…whatever. Good enough. What a weird standard. Set by whom? The fear was also screaming lies about losing myself, losing whatever independence I might find in work outside the home, out in the hustle and bustle of the community. Fear of losing some easy description of what I do, who I am, printed in small font on a business card under my name. Fear of losing whatever shred of identity that still stood on its own, untethered to the part of me that was a mother.

And then one random Tuesday morning, I relented to the struggle. I submitted. I bowed my heart to the thing that I knew the Lord was calling me to and that I had been fighting (even though I also knew Him to be totally trustworthy and that He was a Father that gave good gifts!) My desirous pride, clinging to the rusty idol of independence, had been graciously brought to the light so that I could see it’s disfigured form. It made my stomach turn. Why would I ever assume that a home of peace and contentment could be cultivated by such an ugly master?

Even though there are a hundred different practical reasons that we’ve decided to homeschool, this is the heart of the story. This is the real reason. Because this is where Jesus is leading our family and we must follow.

Let me tell you the truth. The relenting brings freedom.

If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” (Matt. 10:38-39, NLT)


The Freedom of “No”

The Freedom of _No_

I was awake again, this time around 2:30am. My (almost) three month old was going through a growth spurt, and combined with a tiny congested nose, he and I were not getting much sleep. As I nursed him back to sleep, my mind played a reel of the work I was able to accomplish from the day and wrestled with the things that were left undone.

The familiar feeling of disappointment combined with a low-grade anxiety started to creep in the shadows of my heart, when a thought popped up out of nowhere.

Saying “No” to some things, means that I’m actually saying a wholehearted “Yes!” to others.

Of course! Why hadn’t I seen it from this perspective before? It was so obvious. It was so freeing!

Saying “No” in the right context, with the purpose to preserve something else precious, is a gift in disguise to us high-achievers. While it might sting like failure in the moment, it can actually be the thing that protects, prolongs, and produces fruit in another area of our lives.

The real challenge here (for myself and maybe for you too?) is to still our hearts, to listen, and to zero-in on the work that the Lord has called us to for this season. What is in front of me right now? Who has He allowed to come alongside of me? While I might have my own ideas about which direction to take my day, my responsibility is to submit all before Him and follow His lead.

“The Good Shepherd”

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.

Ps. 23 (HCSB)

Having the freedom to say “No” to that extra project means that I am saying “Yes” to the ones that I’ve already committed to.

Saying “No” to that social gathering means that I am saying “Yes” to time with my family.

Saying “No” to time wasted in lifeless work or self-centered busyness or mind-numbing entertainment means that I am saying “Yes” to something better!

Even the so-called spiritual or church-y things must go before the throne: is this what you’ve called me to, Lord? Is this contributing to (or taking away from) your purpose for my life?

My prayer is for a clear channel between His heart and mine. That I can discern *in the moment* what is of true importance and what can wait. Good Shepherd, help us to be led by your loving hand, even in our saying “No.”


A Question for Our Time

a question for our time

Handing the cashier my card to pay, I try to make eye contact and offer a smile. She avoids my look, glances down at my hugely pregnant belly, and mumbles, “Mmm hmm” in response. I take the hint and move along; no worries on my part.

The next customer steps up to pay– it is a grandmother, loudly giving orders to her troops, which happen to be a boy of about 5 years old and another of 2, along with a silent grandfather in tow.

The 20-something cashier perks up in response to the grandmother’s high energy and I overhear snippets of their conversation as I am packing up my groceries–

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In memory of one of my all-time favorite musicians and in light of the (very pregnant) season that I am currently residing in…

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

To all who are waiting on a change, on a break, on a love, on relief — I’m right there with you. xo

Fall 2017 Beauty Treats

fall 2017 beauty

It’s Wednesday, it’s been a long week already (anyone else?), and we’re just barely on the cusp of an *actual* season change…so let’s talk fun fall stuff, okay? My brain can’t handle much else.

Fall fashion (including beauty) is hands down the best sartorial season and no, you can’t argue with me, its a plain fact. Perfectly broken in jeans, soft sweaters over even-softer worn t-shirts, booties, hats (!!!), mussed up hair (or a slept-in braid), and my favorite– the return of lipstick. Yes and amen.

Here’s a few of my current favs, pretty tones that are versatile and do well for workday-to-date-night looks. I’m thinking the goal should be a nice balance of soft pulled-together femininity meets relaxed tomboy at a weekend bonfire. Links below!

saralongenecker_fall 2017 beauty

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Six Books To Get You Offline


After a weekend like this past one, with continued social unrest and all forms of media being used and abused in overdrive, you may be feeling like you need a break from the internet- some respite from the noise. And that is okay. To want to unplug and create space for yourself to process, to think, to pray, to listen, to just breathe, is not only okay, but good and healthy.

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A Holy Distillation

holy distillation

The challenge of writing is actually doing the work of it.

Let me share a bit of unedited brain dump, lifted directly from my journal recently–

“Can we talk about how distracted I become when I sit down to (intentionally, purposefully) write? I am suddenly inspired to reorganize my closet (and go online shopping for those essential fall items), clean out the fridge and meal plan (for like, the next three months), or deep clean the bathroom (although, this legitimately might be the only time that gets done…) HELP. Must write real words.”

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Compassion: Make the first move


Sometimes we think of compassion as passive, as if it’s only an emotional feeling or intention. If you are anything like me, the word compassion might not be one that you initially relate to, as it is typically used to describe someone openly empathetic or emotionally sensitive and expressive. My heart does not live on my sleeve and I prefer that it that way. (Although for some folks this definitely works in their favor…)

But what if we challenge that simplistic, two dimensional idea? What if we instead put legs to compassion?

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“Are you ready to be healed?”

are you ready to be healed

I’m driving down the highway, my kids are yelling in the back seat, but I’m somewhere else…lost in a scene from another time.

I can’t seem to shake this image in my mind of the “bleeding woman” (how horrible is it to be historically known only by this descriptive?) reaching out among the densely swarming crowd following Jesus, her hand searching for just a graze of the tasseled fabric on her finger tips. She has suffered for twelve long, painful, and shame-filled years. The scripture says that she had been to numerous doctors, seeking help and emptying her purse, and had only seemed to get worse. When would her healing come? Shouldn’t she just resolve within herself that this was her lot in life? Perhaps even her own fault?

Continue reading ““Are you ready to be healed?””