You can read an updated “about me” here but I have kept this in tact as it represents where my family and I were within the first few days of beginning Cultivating A Home. This post does give different details than the current “about me” page. So, read both if you have an extra few minutes today. Thanks for stopping by.

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Now that the website is up and running, I thought it was high time we did an “ABOUT” page. It’s far too long, but it’s here if you want to know more.

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I’m Rhonda. I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 28 years. We have six children, ranging in age from 24 to 13. As you can tell, we’re all a bit crazy… well, most of us. (I said that just so any of them reading this can think they’re the sane one I’m referring to.)

Our family loves using our home for ministry – from cookin’ up some big meals for large groups, to teaching women at a monthly event we call “Cultivate,” to holding monthly youth events we call “Mo.YO”, to Bible studies, weddings, celebrations, teenagers just hanging out here, and so much more. Our favorite, though, even with all this ministry going on – is to all be home together… just sharing a meal, talking, laughing, sharing our hearts, and maybe playing a game, having a four-square competition, or watching Netflix (that is, IF we can decide on a show in time to all still be up. Are we the only ones that struggle with this? You know.. spending the movie time trying to figure out a movie to watch?). I love me some family.

I just retired from 21 years with my home business Creative Memories.  I can clearly see that God used this time to develop some qualities in me that would benefit me far beyond rising to the top of a company.  It’s where I learned and had to implement people skills, business skills, and leadership skills. It’s the foundation that I had IN MY HOME to teach the kids first hand about serving, communicating, hospitality, eye contact, and basically, the tool I had to pass on exactly what I was learning about people skills,  business skills, and leadership skills.  I see how he used that time for where I am right now… opening up our home, leading women, being hospitable, teaching, and understanding the differences in people.

I’ve homeskuled since around 1993 or so… and actually because my college major is Elementary Education AND Early Childhood Education, I have a real interest and LOVE in teaching children in the early years of life, so maybe I’ve been “unofficially” teaching earlier than that. In case you don’t know me well enough yet and are wondering if I realized I had a typo… the answer is YES, I did do that on purpose. It’s a joke with my children and me.  Two just graduated from college last month and two more are still in college- all doing super well, so I feel I can make that joke publicly now. And, I do think they got great edukashons.

PLEASE NOTE: my blog and my teaching time is NOT exclusively for homeschooling. In fact, I don’t know that I focus on it at all. It’s simply the backdrop to my life and I wanted you to know about it.  I will have a few videos posted on homeschooling that we recorded a few years back. I tend to be asked about homeschooling often, but it’s not my focus here. I love it, see so many benefits from it, am super glad that we’ve done it, but I’m good with whatever education choice that God has laid on your heart. Okay? good.

“Cultivate” is a spin off of the name of our website (and non-profit), Cultivating a Home. It’s a monthly gathering where we open our home to women, eat together, then I talk on topics like “parenting to the heart,” hospitality, or whatever happens to be on my heart based on the real life lessons being implemented into my life or the lives of my family at that time.  My desire is to be transparent, sharing helpful tips which often have a not-so-good example to tell, right alongside the favorable example.  Keepin’ it real.  Perfection helps no one… and trying to live up to an image of perfection is nothing less than exhausting… not to mention the damage it can do to our kids if we say one thing and live another way. They know the truth… sooo, that’s one reason it’s good that I have one of my kids sitting in the back, listening in as I present.  To keep me in check and for them to see there’s actually intentional parenting going on, and in so doing, I’m hoping to be mentoring them.

My kids’ personalities and interests vary greatly… so does their “sin nature.”  This has provided the material I use in teaching…uhh… that and my OWN struggles to overcome selfishness, pride, self-centeredness, and basically all matters in which I see I am not operating out of LOVE. (I don’t like that at all! I’m guilty and have to get that right before teaching them… and especially before standing up and teaching about it.)

I love the Lord, and my desire is that all that I say and write about has His Word, the Bible, as the foundation. Yes, I share personal examples so that you learn from application, but my message is about our hearts continually changing into His image. It starts first with KNOWING Him, reading and applying the truths in His word, and then right alongside our learning, we are intentional to train to the heart of our children. Not parenting for the outward appearance (of us as parents or them as children), but truly focusing on the heart. That’s what God’s interested in- He wants our heart, and He says “out of IT are the issues of life.” I am a broken record with many of these principles, so keep reading the blog for more clarification and specifics on this topic. (and know that I know this because I was made aware that this was in MY parenting…and boy, howdy, was it freeing when I began to let go and grasp about training to the heart, not focusing on what others thought.)

I hope you’ll enjoy and hear my voice in the blog posts. I want you to picture you, me, and a few of our closest “heart” friends sitting on the back porch together, drinking coffee (or diet coke, if you prefer in your image), with our conversations going all over the place – from our kids, to our marriage, to events going on, laughing and crying together, going deep – not surface talk (although there is some of that), where our hearts are safe with each other and our conversation most always is about God, His character, His steadfastness, His sovereignty, His love.. and our thinking and conversations just can’t help but include Him because HE IS OUR FOUNDATION, the very compass that guides and directs our hearts, the load-bearing column when all else is crumbling around us. (see blog post for that analogy.)

I want you to feel at home… so come with me on a journey… through real life, joys and tears, good times and sufferings, and seeing things through my eyes – which I hope are humorous at times and deeply insightful at times.  My desire is to allow the Lord to use me however He desires in ways that impacts hearts and homes for Him.

And… here’s the story on the picture at the top of the page:

This picture is from our fourth child’s graduation from high school.  A lovely setting for a great family photo, don’t you think. However, you might be saying a familiar little tun in your mind right now- “one of these things just doesn’t belong here…”  Well, let me explain. Lots of unexpected things happen in life -and maybe with a larger family the potential for things to go… uh…differently than expected are also greater? We’ve  learned to roll with it… or be stressed or mad. So, we’ve chosen to let a lot of things go. This particular picture is one of those moments… that I would have preferred a different outcome… one in which the whole family was dressed nicely. Here’s the short version. The youngest child WAS dressed nicely. Her sandal completely broke, causing her to be barefoot (or trip), and there was a party for her youth group at the building next door to this graduation that she had asked to go to. She had changed BEFORE we got family photos. There. That’s the story and I’m sticking to it. I CHOSE to put it on here as it illustrates our real life. LOL.

Rhonda ToGodBetheGlory.Notsurewherethisjourneyistakingus ellis

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