the importance of respectful disagreement

These days, we don’t have to go far to find someone who will disagree with us. Our communities, country, and sadly, sometimes families and friendships have become hotbeds for conflict.

One of the beautiful things about living in America is that we have the freedom of speech. Although we are seeing a stifling of our right to speak, but that’s a topic for another time.

Because of our freedom of speech, we are able to give our opinions, comment on posts, blogs, parlays, and tweets, and share our thoughts in person. Religious rights, the death penalty, gun control, abortions, mask usage, illegal immigration, how to handle COVID, and school choice are just some of the topics we can find ourselves at odds at with others.

Unfortunately, sometimes those debates can turn into something much less than peaceful discourse.

Case in point: I recently stumbled upon a social media group where bullying was rampant. A woman was saying that because she has asthma, she is unable to wear a mask.

One after the other, hateful comments appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. It became not a peaceful back-and-forth discussion about who does and who doesn’t support wearing masks. Rather, it became one of horrific attack methods and hatefulness directed at a woman who couldn’t wear a mask because of health issues.

Masks are probably one of the most contentious topics in recent days. I have my own opinions about them – albeit strong ones – but no matter how strongly we disagree with someone, it never does any good to be disrespectful, vicious, or spiteful.

So how do we ensure our disagreements are respectful?

Realize that family and friendships are not worth winning an argument. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.

Remember we can’t take words back once we say them. Oh, but that we could all take a magic vitamin that would put a guard over our mouth! Keeping in mind that once a word is uttered, the hearer can’t unhear it, can go a long way in thinking before speaking.

Try to respond calmly. This doesn’t come naturally to most of us, especially when it’s a contentious subject. Praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and praying for the Lord’s control over your words throughout the interaction is critical.

Remember that healthy disagreements are actually good. Constructive arguments can bring to light what needs to be said. My husband, a manager, once noticed severe tension between two of his workers. He could have written them up, and/or forced them to go their separate ways, leaving the topic unsettled. Instead, he called them into the small break room and told them to discuss the matter and that they weren’t leaving until it was resolved. Was it a bit loud and unruly at times? Yes, but within a few minutes, the two men were sitting at the table calmly discussing it. When my husband returned a half hour later, they were making plans on where to go out for lunch.

Men are a unique species that way, or at least in the past they were. They would have an argument, duke it out, and remain friends afterwards. I am saddened to say that with women, it’s the opposite. We women have long memories and if someone did something to us in 1853, we still remember it and hold a grudge. This should definitely not be the case.

Don’t attack the other person. James 3:5 reminds us of what a danger our tongue can be.

Know your facts before launching into an argument. You might not win the other’s person’s agreement, but you might win their respect.

Try not to take it personally. Easier said than done. Sometimes people already having a bad day need only one more irritant to lash out and you inadvertently happen to be that irritant. Not an excuse for their poor behavior, but a good reminder that we have been shown much grace and should extend that same grace to others.

Listen twice as much as you speak. Someone once said that we have two ears and one mouth because we need to listen more than we speak. James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Sometimes when someone is disagreeing with us, especially verbally, it can be tempting to interrupt and cut in with our own opinions before the other person is finished with theirs. Instead, listen – really listen – even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. This is one of the surest forms of respect.

Don’t let trivial matters divide you. At the end of the day, it’s just not worth it.

Don’t belittle or diminish the other person’s opinions. While we may be diametrically opposed to anything they may say about a topic (and sometimes with good reason), putting someone down never wins the discussion.

Remember that God made us all different. It would be pretty boring if we all agreed on everything. We should welcome respectful conversation about the difficult topics, not ban it or shame those who don’t agree with us.

Think about eternity. Remembering that if you both are Christians you will be spending eternity together can put things into perspective.

I’m not too old to remember when we could disagree respectfully and peacefully and remain friends. While it seems that may never be the case again, we can make huge strides by responding in a Christlike manner.

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy (click on the link and it will open a new page with the post):

5 do’s and don’ts when interacting with someone going through a difficult time

5 ways to be happier

Movie Monday: Free Burma Rangers

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

tasty gluten free coconut muffins

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Parents are highly influential in a child’s life. Children are also influenced by youth pastors, teachers, social media, peers, coaches, employers, movie stars, sports figures, and their favorite singers.

Our children receive a lot of “information” in today’s media-saturated world by which to base their opinions about everything from what to wear to which stance to take on important world events.

How can we teach our children, that while those who influence them are important (some more than others), they do need to learn to think for themselves?

Encourage good role models. With our patient help and God’s guidance, they can navigate the wide range of choices in today’s society and choose a role model that will influence their lives for the better. For tips, check out 10 ways to help your kids choose good role models.

Give them practice. As a homeschool mom, I’ve often come up with several out-of-the-box assignments designed to help my daughters, not only think for themselves, but to also investigate “all sides of an issue”. My youngest daughter recently began an assignment I gave her regarding mask usage. Her assignment is to investigate fully the pros and cons and whether or not masks are effective in preventing the spread of Covid. This would include researching the opinions/studies of several medical professionals from various outlets, from the private sector to governmental agencies, and everyone in between – with an open mind.

The second part of the assignment is to take a poll/survey on both social media and among family members and friends, encouraging them to weigh in with comments.

The conclusion of her assignment would be to make a decision based on her research.

Other assignments have included: Should we keep the Electoral College? Why or why not? Is socialism a good idea and why are some in the United States pushing for socialism?

During election years, my daughters are given assignments to fully investigate and research the candidates running for offices, whether they be local, county, state, or federal offices. Based on those investigations, they complete a sample ballot indicating who they would vote for and why.

Letters to the editor have also been assigned, as well as research on world religions and how they compare to Christianity.

Encourage them to investigate. As I mentioned in my mask assignment, it’s critical to encourage our kids to investigate. Everything. Every day, I bring a topic to our breakfast table and my daughters and I discuss it. I have been doing this since they were little, and the topics have always been age-appropriate. We’ve ventured into such topics as peer pressure, drinking, drugs, what to look for in a husband, abortion, politics, and current events.

You don’t have to be a homeschooling family to give “practice assignments” or investigate topics over the breakfast table. The dinner table works just as well, as does time in the car going to and from activities. Also, public-schooled children will have an additional dynamic to add to the conversation based on their day at a public school.

Make time for important discussions. No matter what type of schooling your family partakes in, or even if your children are still too young to attend school or are college-aged, make time to have those important chats. You will never regret time spent with your children and time spent finding out what matters to them and what struggles they face. Having open dialogue helps them with important decisions and to think through those decisions with the assistance of trusted adults and siblings.

Encourage discernment. We live in a crazy, fast-paced, oftentimes biased world. Some influencers don’t have your children’s best interests at heart. Their “ideas” may be extreme, or at the very least, far different than those that are healthy or even reasonable for your child.

Teach your children how to discern between what is right and what is wrong. The only true and reliable “truth meter” to base discernment on is God’s Word. It is the only Truth that never changes in an ever-changing, chaotic world. If something is against His Word, then it’s not something we should espouse.

For example, many of today’s youth have been encouraged to destroy other people’s property or even harm people in the name of “peaceful protesting”. What does God’s Word have to say about burning, looting, destroying property and harming people?

The Bible is clear that we need to treat others the way we ourselves would want to be treated.

Encourage them to ask questions. Questions are a good thing and should be encouraged. It’s how they learn and it ensures they will take nothing at face value, but question all things.

Encourage respect. I’m not too young that I don’t remember a time when people could agree to disagree. A time when we could still care about and be friends with those with differing opinions. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.

In teaching our children to think for themselves, we must also teach them that when they do disagree with someone, whether it be politics, religion, medical choices, or something as mundane as what brand of clothes is best, they can do it respectfully. And to disagree respectfully does not mean that they condone the choices or behavior of the other party. It simply means that they choose not to disparage others due to differences of opinion.

Encourage logic. Some great resources for teaching your children logic are The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills ,The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning, and The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies, Student Text, Revised.

In a world where at times evil is bent on securing your child’s devotion, make it a point to come alongside your child and teach them to think for themselves. To stand strong in the face of adversity, to question things that seem “off” and to, above all else, allow the Holy Spirit and the precious words found within the pages of the Bible to guide them in making the right decisions.

Other posts on this blog that may interest you:

10 Bible Verses to Start off Your Day

10 Ways to Help Your Kids Choose Good Role Models

Are you showing the difference?

Where is your focus? Finding peace of mind in a world of negativity

14 things for girls to consider before dating

You might be homeschool mom if…

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

the importance of voting

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As we embark on yet another election, I’m reminded of why it’s not only important, but critical to vote.

This year is even more crucial than years in the past as the two presidential candidates share diametrically opposing viewpoints. This year, more than ever, we vote for our country’s future. This year, more than ever, we vote for our children’s future.

Why is voting important?

  • Voting is a right not every country has. We are blessed to have a say in who governs us. It is our chance to have a voice in the topics that matter most to us.
  • Voting is our duty to our country. We thank those who died for our freedom to vote by utilizing that freedom.
  • Voting is a privilege. A right. A benefit of living in this wonderful country where men and women have given their lives for this right. I have an old saying that I say each year: “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome.”

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Fellow Christians, it is especially imperative that we head to the voting booth and cast our votes. Yes, God is in control of the outcome. Whomever He chooses will be the next president of the United States. However, He does not expect us to sit idly by, but to exercise our vote – and to vote for the things that matter to Him. He has blessed us with this great nation. As crazy as these most recent months have been, He has chosen us to live during this precise time in history.

This election year, take into consideration being a voice for and protecting the unborn, protecting our religious liberties, retaining the Second Amendment, standing with Israel, and ensuring that our country remains free and doesn’t fall into the trap of socialism.

My grandfather, step-father-in-law, cousin, and uncle fought to preserve the freedoms we enjoy in this nation. May their sacrifice not be in vain.

Pray for God’s guidance and then get out there and let your voice be heard!

15 verses for strength in challenging times

There is a lot to disagree on these days, but there is one thing we can likely all agree on…this year has been a challenging one.

In more ways than one, stress levels and anxieties have risen. Hope has taken a backseat to despair. Happiness has given way to frustration. Optimism has turned into negativity.

Thankfully, for those of us in Christ, this is not our permanent home. When the day-to-day events turn turbulent, we can turn to the One who loves us and cares about every minute detail in our lives. His promises remind us that His love is steadfast. That He will carry us through the rough waters of life, that when we are burdened, He will take that load from us and take it upon Himself. Jesus is our strength, our anchor, and our stronghold.

Next time you need a boost of strength for these challenging times, flip through the pages of God’s precious Word and find the peace tucked within.

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy:

the importance of perseverance

13 ways to help someone going through a difficult time

10 Bible verses to start off your day

7 ways to inspire others

Movie Monday: Unplanned

what to stock up on this winter

All of the craziness of 2020, including the pandemic and social unrest, certainly plays into the fact that it’s always wise to have some extra food/supplies on hand. I’m not talking about being a hoarder, stockpiling, or going into panic mode. Far from it. Rather, I’m talking about being prepared in case there are a few months in which you are unable to get to the store or the store shelves are bare. Or there are more forced lockdowns and quarantines and travel to the store isn’t an option.

Most of us remember not too long ago when we experienced the bitter taste of socialism as we visited our local grocery store only to discover certain items being rationed, or that some items were indefinitely out of stock. I remember that first time my heart lurched as I gazed at shelf after shelf at our largest grocery store, only to find a few stray dried pinto beans, rice kernels, a few miscellaneous dented cans, and nothing more in several of the aisles.

Of course we will always remember the craziness of the toilet paper caper (and truly, some of that panic was ridiculous) and the fact that cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer were obsolete. But in my neck of the woods, other things were difficult to find as well. Milk and butter were rationed and tortillas and any type of Mexican food (salsa, hot sauce, etc.) had disappeared. Cheese (admittedly one of my favorite foods) couldn’t be found. I honestly thought the cows had gone on strike. Potatoes were a luxury item.

My mom told me just the other day that toilet paper in her town (20 miles from a major metro area) had been rationed to one pack per person. Hopefully, we aren’t going to go down this route again.

The Lord tells us in His Word not to worry about what we will eat. He reminds us that the birds of the air don’t worry about what they will eat or drink and we are worth much more to Him that the sparrows. (Matthew 6:25-34).

However, I believe God desires us to use the common sense that He gave us. We should have food in the refrigerator and pantry for times when it might not be readily available to us. Or times when we might need to help someone less fortunate. And emergency preparedness is always a good idea.

One of my favorite things to do is to purchase extra when one of our smaller local grocery stores has their “case lot sale”. These extras can be used for food drives, which are especially prevalent around Christmas. These extras can also be donated to friends or family who may have fallen on hard times and need extra food to carry them to the next paycheck.

According to some experts, it’s always a wise idea to have at least a month’s worth of items in your pantry. Here are some suggestions:

Perishables:

Frozen fruits (strawberries, raspberries, bananas, blueberries, mixed fruit)

Frozen vegetables (peas, corn, green beans, spinach)

Meat (chicken, beef, deer, fish, turkey)

Potatoes

Butter

Canned goods:

Corn, peas, green beans, and other vegetables

Peaches, pears, pumpkin, applesauce pineapple, and other canned fruits

Canned meat (tuna, chicken, ham)

Canned beans in several varieties (pinto, black, refried, baked, lima)

Canned juices

Soup

Broth

Chili

Non-perishables:

Oats, healthy breakfast cereals (including some that do not need to necessarily have milk to be eaten)

Popcorn

Jelly and jam

Granola bars, crackers, and other snacks

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, and mixed nuts

Raisins

Peanut butter or sunbutter if allergies to peanuts

Canned or boxed milk

Honey

Flour, sugar, and other baking items

Egg replacer

Canned spaghetti, Raviolis, and tamales

Beef jerky

Noodles

Rice

Dry beans in several varieties

Baby food

Tortillas

Bread (which can also be frozen)

Jars of salsa

Boxed meals

Ramen noodles

Bottled water

Ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, and other condiments

Bottled juices

Medical items:

Three months’ worth of prescription medicines

Three months’ worth of vitamins and supplements (especially important are a multi, C, B complex, D, zinc, and a probiotic, but check with your doctor before supplementing).

Acetaminophen, ibuprofen (including these items for children if necessary)

aspirin (if needed)

allergy medicine (i.e., Benadryl)

Other items:

Dental floss, toothpaste, lotion, hand sanitizer and/or hand wipes, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, and women’s hygiene products.

Hand soap, dish soap, dishwashing soap or modules, and detergent.

Cleaning wipes, bleach, and other cleaning supplies.

Lip balm

Deodorant

Tissues

Bandaids and gauze

Diapers

Garbage bags

Batteries

Pet food

Candles and a lighter

Personal water filter (such as Lifestraw)

One-time medical item purchases (always good to have on hand in case of illness):

Thermometer

Oximeter

Battery-operated blood pressure cuff

Heating pad

Ice pack

Be Koool forehead sheets for fever (these literally made a huge difference when I was sick with the worst flu this past January).

First aid kit (be sure to check periodically for expiring items).

***

It’s no stretch of the imagination that 2020 will go down as one of the most bizarre, unsettled, and perhaps even scary years in recent history. It’s never a bad idea to be prepared. The key is to not go overboard.

Other blog articles that may be of interest:

how to instill in your children the importance of voting

who are you behind the screen?

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

Sunbutter and Chocolate Fudge Bars

Movie Monday: Hailey Dean 3-Film Collection

how to instill in your children the importance of voting

Voting has always been an important part of our family’s heritage. My grandma, Nanie, was the trusted investigator for our entire extended family, which included five families, all with the same political leanings.

Months before the election, Nanie would thoroughly investigate to determine which candidates in all of the races, from local, to state, to federal, espoused our same belief system in the things that were important to our families. My mom and dad showed my siblings and me the importance of voting, as neither ever missed an election and a chance to exercise their freedom and privilege of voting.

So how do we model the importance of voting to our children or grandchildren?

  • It’s never too early. From an early age, let your children go with you when you vote, if possible. My girls, from the time they were in our double baby-jogger stroller, accompanied me to the voting venue.
  • Express your beliefs and values with your children. Discuss the criticality of voting for those who share your morals and beliefs. What’s most important to you? Where do you stand on life vs. abortion? The Second Amendment? Religious liberties? Taxes? The role of government? What type of candidate do you want to see in the role of leadership? Why?
  • Encourage your children to ask questions. When they are adults, they will have their own opinions, but you can set the foundation for the values you hope they will emulate.
  • Don’t shy away from the hard questions. Your kids are growing up in an increasingly difficult and hostile world. Things we’ve never seen before have suddenly become commonplace. Don’t be afraid to open up the lines of communication, especially with tweens and teens.
  • Go over the sample ballot with them. Our local newspaper prints a sample ballot each election year. Our family sits at the dining room table and discusses the objectives of the candidates, based on public forums, debates, and their websites. Our daughters weigh in on who they would vote for if given the chance.
  • Engage in a mock election. When I taught Constitutional Literacy at our local homeschool co-op three years ago, we had a mock election on everything from the president to the city council. We conducted it like a real election – discussing the candidates’ views on the hot-button issues. Each of my students voted in private. We then tallied the scores and watched in coming weeks to see how closely they resembled the real outcome.
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Modeling truth and aligning your beliefs with the Word of God is critical. When your children are grown, they will make their own decisions. What they choose is not up to you, but how you give them the tools to make the right choices is.

Nanie still thoroughly investigates all the candidates and gives us updates, although now her five children, 11 adult grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren (eight of whom are adults) all live spread throughout the United States. I’m thankful for the time she took then and now to ensure we knew the importance of voting.

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy:

the importance of voting

14 things for girls to consider before dating

why I’m proud to be an American

6 suggestions for getting through the rough times of life

what’s in a name?

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

One of the most awesome things about being a writer is creating characters. Taking a blank page and fashioning people with personalities, motivations, hopes, fears, and dreams. So how do you create the perfect well-rounded character?

Here are seven ingredients to start you on your way.

Give your characters an appearance. This is perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of writing a novel. We, the writers, get to decide what our characters look like – are they tall, short, slim, large-boned, petite, chubby, or muscular? Is their hair black, brown, blonde, red, or a labyrinth of purple and green highlights? Do they wear it in a bob, an afro, long and wavy, stick straight, or in a buzz cut?

If you’re a visual person, you’ll be able to locate your “characters” in a variety of places. Walmart or your local grocery store is a hub for ideas. People watching should include the clerks, the workers, and especially the customers.

Another great idea factory for appearance ideas? The gym, church (the kind, sweet old lady or the mom with a half dozen kids hanging off her as she rushes to make it on time), and your neighborhood (yes, potential characters live there too).

Online ideas include wanted posters for bad guy characters. I’ve recently launched into romantic suspense and can’t wait to see where God leads me with that genre. As such, I found a perfect baddie by culminating facial and body characteristics from several different wanted posters.

Pinterest boards can keep your character ideas all in one place. I created a board titled, “vintage photos that provide character inspiration“. This board has numerous historical photos of people – perfect for historical romance novels or time-slips. I’ve recently been working on a board for my contemporary characters. Stay tuned!

Magazines provide inspiration as well. I recently found my female main character on the pages of a women’s magazine. Perhaps a bit archaic in our digital world, but as we writers are fond of saying, when we find the perfect character, we just know it.

Give your characters a name. We writers know that our characters must have just the right name that fits their personality. There are a zillion names, from old-fashioned ones to contemporary ones. If you ever wondered where to find some name ideas, check out this Pinterest board by fellow writer (and my daughter!), Madisyn Zeller, titled “names for characters”. Madisyn’s board contains names for characters in just about every genre, from Scottish to whimsical to vintage.

Some other ideas for names can be found on my post 10 awesome websites for writers.

Give your characters a voice. Are you an audio person? Listen for sounds of how your character might speak – accents, word usage, tone, shrill/booming/deep/annoying/monotone and apply those to your characters. Also, consider what your character’s voice does when they’re excited, irritated, or upset. What about their laugh? Does word pronunciation change with their emotions? Think also about inflections.

Give your characters a personality. Talk with a variety of people and take notice of their personalities. Contradictory? Gentle? Loud? Obnoxious? The website 16personalities has all of the Myers Briggs personalities listed in detail. It’s how I discovered my main male character was an ESTJ. The Emotion Thesaurus is an invaluable guide “to character expression”. 

I recently started a Pinterest board titled “character personalities”. I even added some information about body language to assist in my characters’ actions. All super helpful in developing versatile and realistic characters!

Give your characters a vehicle. Sit at a stop light or in a parking lot and notice what people drive. This can provide excellent inspiration for the vehicles your characters use for transportation. Do they drive a pickup truck? Minivan? Motorcyle, bus, or covered wagon? Is it a dilapidated car that barely runs or a fancy and expensive SUV?

Give your characters a house. Drive to a variety of neighborhoods – golf course community/trailer park/ low-income housing/suburbs/middle class/older homes/condos and try to imagine your character in one of these abodes.

If you’re on the hunt for historical homes, check out my Pinterest board, “where my characters live” for everything from Victorian homes to farmhouses, and cabins to shacks.

Madisyn has a helpful Pinterest board titled “interior design ideas” that gives great visuals for the interior of your characters’ homes.

Creating Pinterest boards can be extremely helpful when it comes time to create characters. Another route is to keep a Word file with information. Some of my best and favorite ideas for personalities and appearances have come from research I’ve gathered over the years from a variety of sources.

When we writers mesh the appearance, personality, voice, home, and vehicle, along with motivations, goals, hopes, and fears, we create unforgettable characters for our readers.

Other posts on this blog that may interest you:

5 ways to jumpstart your writing project

when your characters become real

10 awesome websites for writers

who are you behind the screen?

I recently witnessed a vicious attack on someone’s character via social media. As one who has active accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, this didn’t surprise me because I had seen it before (and have even been on the receiving end of it myself), but it did appall me. The attack was not only unnecessary, but unfounded.

How many times have we witnessed insanely hateful comments posted on someone’s social media?

In today’s “screen” culture, it’s easier than ever to be hateful because of the anonymity. After all, isn’t it more acceptable to be spiteful when you’re not face to face with someone with whom you disagree? When you’re sitting at a desk behind a computer screen or sitting in your recliner with your phone or other handheld device? When you’re on your laptop taking an online college course and someone disagrees with you about a hotly-contested topic?

That distance – sometimes miles, sometimes continents apart – emboldens people, and not in a good way.

In our polarized culture, it’s not unanticipated, although it is unsettling.

Sadly, I’ve seen it among Christians as well. This is perhaps the most disturbing of all, as we are to be in this world, but not of it.  God detests strife among fellow Believers. Yet, it’s easy, even for those who profess Christ, to act like the world and fall into the trap of taking offense and following up that offense with vile words or sharing their disagreements through hateful responses.

Whether in person or online, Proverbs 15:1 still holds true.

It also holds true that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. This can be difficult, but if you are set on slandering someone’s reputation via a comment, post, email, or online message, you would be wise to heed the advice found in Ephesians 4:29: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

In the “olden” days, if someone disagreed, they said it to someone’s face. Today, as we sit behind a computer or phone screen, the words our fingers find to type seem to come more readily and without much thought, resulting in a slew of hateful, cruel responses and accusations, none of which belong in civil conversations over any medium.

Case in point, a dear friend and I are on opposites sides about a much-debated topic in today’s culture. As we were chatting via text the other day, she mentioned her viewpoint in a gracious way. I responded in same and we agreed to disagree. The difference of opinion did not alter our opinions of each other, nor did it cause us to react in a way that would destroy our friendship. She is a blessing to me and life is too short to allow something so trivial to divide us.

I encourage all of us to set ourselves apart from the culture of social media bullying via words. If you don’t like what you’re seeing in a Facebook or Twitter post, scroll on by. (And I’m not talking about pornography, violence, or sexually explicit images. Those aren’t people you should be following anyway). Rather, I’m talking about someone who posts something on the opposite side of the spectrum politically or religiously than you. If you don’t agree with it, scroll on by. If you have something constructive to add to the conversation, by all means, please do it, but in a civil, professional manner. I am the first to tell you I believe in our right to free speech. But hatefulness, slander, accusatory words, backbiting, and strife-causing is not pleasing to the Lord first and foremost, and it’s not pleasing to those who happen to see it on their friends’ timelines.

Rather, let’s encourage each other.

Most who know me know I am a conservative Christian. Most who know me also know that while most of my friends are in the same “category”, I also have several moderate-leaning and liberal-leaning friends. I also have atheist friends and those of other religions. When they post something I don’t agree with, I’m on the move with the mouse button. Nothing says I have to “like” or “retweet” what they’ve posted. But something, or rather Someone, does say I shouldn’t respond with hatred or vile words.

The book of James tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. The same can be said for our typing/texting habits.

My own personal mantra? May every word that is communicated through my fingertips be pleasing in your sight, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, Penny version).

We don’t always have to be right. We don’t always have to have the last word. And we don’t always have to respond in a knee-jerk reaction. Most times, it’s wise to ponder something before responding – if we need to respond at all.

In a world full of hatred, division, and animosity, we (especially if we are Christians) should rise above that and seek to glorify Him above all else.

We can’t glorify Him if our fingers are running amuck with words we should never and would never say face to face.

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy:

How to Host Your Own Sisters in Christ Community Girls’ Night Out

Mom Approved Movies Listing

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

Scriptural antidotes to fear

The great toilet paper caper

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

Whether you are new to homeschooling or have been at it for a while, it can, at times, seem overwhelming. So overwhelming that it might seem like time to “throw in the towel.” Let me assure you, you are not alone. If they are honest, most, if not all, homeschooling parents have considered the very same thing, even if for the briefest of minutes (or while in an exhausted state of mind).

Let me encourage you to stick with this important task. I assure you it is worth it.

Here are six ways to stick with homeschooling when you are ready to give up.

Surrender your homeschool to the Lord daily. He will give you the grace, the tenacity, and the motivation to do this extremely important task.

Look for a change of pace. We have switched directions many times with both our curriculum and our schedule. Fortunately, there are many choices for curriculum since no two children are exactly the same in personalities or learning styles. There is nothing wrong with switching up the curriculum to one that works for your child. In the same vein, there is nothing wrong with changing up a schedule that isn’t working. The key is to be flexible. After all, that is one of the blessings of homeschooling – we are not all placed in one box, with one style of learning, one schedule, and one set of educational materials.

Share your thoughts. One of the best things about homeschooling is the mentors. Those who have been there, done that, and received the honorary t-shirt. Yes, I’m talking about the moms (and dads!) – the homeschool pioneers – who came before us. While they will tell you that they didn’t do it perfectly, they are a wealth of positive and encouraging advice. Lean on them as well as those who are currently “in the trenches” with you. One word of caution… choose those whom you vent to carefully. You will want to seek out someone who won’t judge, won’t offer solutions without really listening, or who elevates themselves at your struggling expense. On the same note, avoid those who offer unsolicited advice. I once had an older woman “offer” unwelcome advice. Not only was it poor advice, but she had never homeschooled.

Avoid the comparison trap. This is a super easy thing to succumb to and a temptation we need to avoid.

Take a vacation. Maui would be nice, but realistically, I am talking about a vacation from homeschooling. Just a brief one or two days a couple times during the school year to allow both you and your child(ren) a break from the rigors of schooling and a chance to recharge. Do something fun on those days – something that further connects you to your kiddos.

Have a chat with your pupils. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is our ability to think outside the box. We don’t have to teach the same things in the same way to each of our children. Nor do we have to teach the same things in the same way that the public schools do (isn’t that one of the reasons we are homeschooling?!). Have a casual talk with your child. What is their favorite subject? Least favorite? What is something they would like to learn more about? Less about? This works especially well for junior high and high school students. By gauging their interests (which can change over time), you can better choose electives that suit their personalities. I always reiterated to my tweens and teens that some classes are mandated (math, English, science, history), but that there are other classes we have some leeway on and can explore as different elective possibilities.

All this to say, let me encourage you to stick with homeschooling. You can do it! It’s one of the most important jobs you will have and for which you are fully equipped. You have been teaching and training your children since their earliest days, and who loves them more and cares about their future more than you? So hang in there and forge ahead!

Looking for other homeschool posts on this blog? Check these out:

You might be a homeschool mom if…15 clues

outside the box homeschool ideas

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

Kids write the funniest things!

the importance of respect

My daughters and I went on a 15-mile bike ride today. During our ride, I noticed someone had spray-painted graffiti on the underside of a bridge.

We don’t have a lot graffiti in our small rural town, and when it does appear, it is usually covered up quickly (an excellent way, according to experts, to help prevent more graffiti).

The graffiti by the spray-paint “artists” brought to mind the destruction of property we are seeing on a daily basis in our country. Homes and businesses destroyed. Looters, people burning the property of others, and the list goes on.

When did we get to the point that it was all right to destroy the property, livelihoods, and lives of others?

When did it become all right to, just because we disagree with someone, their beliefs, or their actions, to outright deface, damage, destroy, or demolish their personal property? When did it become acceptable to ruin government property?

Property isn’t the only thing at risk. More disturbing is the general lack of disrespect for parents, other authority, older people, the handicapped, police officers, and people in general. If someone disagrees with someone, it no longer is enough to state your opinion calmly or courteously; there are now more damaging ways to make sure an opinion is heard. Injuring, harming, and even killing people no longer shocks us as much as it once did. We’ve become jaded to the horrific antics of those seeking revenge or acting in pettiness because something is not the way they want it.

Disrespect can stem from bad parenting, learned behavior, hatefulness, anger issues, etc. However, it is ultimately the perpetrator’s fault for their actions. No blame should be placed on others for evil behavior.

How can we teach our children to respect others?

Set a good example. If you are disrespectful to others, from the grocery store clerk to your employer, your children are bound to follow that example, no matter how many times you “tell” them to do the opposite.

From an early age, teach your children the importance of manners. “Please” and “thank you” are far too sparse in conversations these days.

Teach them to be generous and avoid selfishness. Putting others first is a critical component of avoiding self-centeredness.

Set an example for them on how to interact with those with whom you disagree. Role play ideas and encourage them to humbly and kindly state their position when it differs from yours.

Impress upon them the importance of honesty. Honesty and respect go hand in hand. Not too long ago, a friend of ours had her mailbox run over by the neighbor’s visitor to the neighborhood. Rather than admit to backing over the mailbox, the visitor denied it and lied to the police, even though there were witnesses. An easy solution would have been for honesty from the one who ran over the mailbox, a plan to have it repaired, and forgiveness. Instead, dishonesty got the crook off the hook.

Reiterate the importance of treating others how we would like to be treated. A good habit for all of us to remember is to ask ourselves before each action, “Would I like that done to me?” If the answer is “no”, then we shouldn’t be taking that action against others.

Remind them that not everyone is worthy of their respect. However, even so, we must remember that lashing out with destruction on someone’s person or personal property is never the answer.

Above all else, teach them to love and honor God. Respecting and revering our Lord is paramount to loving and honoring others.

Even if your children are no longer young, it is never to late to teach them the importance of respect. And as adults, it’s never too late for us to remember – and exemplify – that importance as well.

Other posts on this blog you may be interested in reading:

the importance of life

the importance of honesty

the importance of priorities

14 things for girls to consider before dating

Movie Monday: Signed, Sealed & Delivered Home Again (movie review)

Movie Monday: Invincible (movie review)