5 resolutions to make even though it’s not New Year’s

All right, so New Year’s is still a few months away, and we certainly don’t want to rush time away. However, here are a few suggestions for resolutions to make any day of the year…

1. Laugh more. In our world of stress, it’s nice to be able to find humor in the small things. “Laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack, according to a new study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.”

laughing baby

The Bible talks about laughter – and let’s not forget who created laughter. He also created our mouths to turn upward, our tummies to shake, and our eyes to tear when provoked with humor. Kids provide the best humor and pets can bring about some laughter as well!

2. Stay in touch.  In our day of modern technology, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with those we love. One night Lon called me from his cell phone while he was in the driveway arriving home from work. I answered the house phone and we had a great conversation, continuing as he entered the door of our house and as we stood face to face with phones pressed up against our ears.

Hey, it’s good for a marriage to communicate, right? Communication is indeed important, even if you are as different as an ostrich and kangaroo. 🙂

zoo

 

3. Make healthy lifestyle changes. It’s probably safe to say that most of us at one time or another have made a resolution to lose weight and/or get more exercise.

One evening Lon said as he rested on the living room floor, “I’m getting ready to do a sit up.”

I wondered why anyone would want to do a sit up at 8:00 p.m., so I asked him why not wait until he works out in the morning. “Because I’d like to have another cookie,” he told me. He was of the one sit up equals one cookie philosophy.

Another time, he decided to do an experiment. Before Christmas dinner, Lon weighed himself. After the meal, he weighed himself again. The prognosis? He’d gained five pounds in that short time after eating my mom’s famous Christmas dinner. However, men have it good. For us women, we need only to look at a delicious Christmas dinner with all the trimmings to gain five pounds!

woman exercising

Not only can we make healthy lifestyle changes and care for the body God gave us, we can also make spiritual changes and vow to dig into God’s Word more frequently.

4. Vow to serve others.  Make a vow to serve others and truly love your neighbor as yourself as stated in Matthew 19:19.  Each morning before climbing out of bed, I pray that the Lord will show me someone to bless that day. Blessing others doesn’t have to be a huge project. Even something as simple as letting someone go ahead of you at the grocery store can be a way to bless someone.

 5. Use your gifts.

presents

God gave us all gifts to use to further His Kingdom.

Just be sure not to do things that aren’t your gifts. Case in point:  my oldest daughter downloads all my favorite songs onto my phone. Wow, what a pleasure to listen to my contemporary Christian rock music while working out at the gym! I learned the hard way, however, about adjusting to modern technology.

During my workout, I was rocking out to the fast-paced Newsboys song I am Second. I love the lyrics that speak of being second to my Savior and Redeemer and that He is second to none.

Somehow, in all my zest, I forgot that I alone had the earplugs to listen to this song. What I didn’t realize was that I was singing out loud. (Wasn’t everyone in the gym listening to Newsboys?!)

As I belted out the words to the song while running on the treadmill, I soon heard a familiar voice. One that was off-pitch. Yep. It was my voice (talk about embarrassment).

Singing isn’t my gift. Although I have won awards for lip syncing when I was a teenager.

But it is important to use the gifts we have been given. Are you gifted with kids? Why not volunteer to teach Sunday School? Are you gifted with a beautiful voice (I’ll try not to covet!) then use it to lead the worship team at church. Can you sew? Why not offer to mend some clothes for those who cannot afford new ones?

What resolutions would you make even though it’s not New Year’s?

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9 movie series sure to be a hit for your next family night

popcorn-movie-party-entertainment

I’ve made it my mission to find movies that are suitable for families. In our culture of so many movies that aren’t suitable, it’s especially fun to discover ones that are clean and well-made.

So, pop up some popcorn and check out these movie series (in particular order) sure to be a hit on your next family night! (Click on the title to find out more information. Note: I am not affiliated in any way with either CBD or Amazon, but those are two of the places I did find availability for these movies).

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Our family has become addicted to this wonderful show that has a combination of romance, drama, comedy, and even some action! Four postal employees solve mysteries based on letters in the “dead mail” office. The employees, Oliver, Shane, Rita, and Norman will soon have you rooting for them as they solve mysteries and provide happy endings.

Father Murphy

If you loved Little House on the Prairie, you’ll love Father Murphy. Set in the same era, actor Merlin Olsen and Katherine Cannon team up with Moses Gunn to provide a home for orphans. There’s always a nemesis, and in Father Murphy, there are two: Miss Tuttle and Mr. Rodman. Together, they provide underhanded efforts to take the children from the orphanage to their work house. Faith, adventure, romance, and good lessons round out this wholesome pick that family members of all ages will enjoy.

Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye

Sue Thomas is a deaf woman who can read lips and speak. She’s lived a sheltered life for the most part, so when she’s accepted for a job with the F.B.I. hours from her hometown, she knows she’s embarking on an adventure.

Based on a true story, this series is one of the best I have ever seen and is on my top-ten favorites list of all time.  Sue Thomas F.B. Eye  has everything that makes a movie good – a touch of romance, drama, humor, action, and adventure. What’s more, the writers and producers managed to pull off this feat without the use of the distasteful Hollywood variety of violence, crass humor, foul language, and sexuality.

Sue Thomas F.B. Eye is a wholesome show, but it’s far from dull.

Anne of Green Gables

I promise you this series will soon become a favorite! This is the original Anne of Green Gables series that was produced by Sullivan Entertainment in 2002 and includes the following: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Green Gables the Sequel, and Anne of Green Gables, the Continuing Story. Viewers watch as Anne Shirley first goes to live on Prince Edward Island with a charming elderly brother and sister. She gets into mischief, falls in love, becomes an adult, and does her part in the War in this endearing series. (Note: this is not the most recent version of Anne of Green Gables, but the one, as mentioned above, that was produced in 2002. I personally do not advocate the most recent version).

Doc

This series, peppered with faith, humor, and touching stories, stars Billy Ray Cyrus as a doctor who travels from his practice in small town Montana to New York. Taking a job in the big city, however, is no easy task for the cowboy who sees the good in people and always makes time for those in need of help.  A small town girl myself, I can only imagine how a move might make a huge impact on someone unaccustomed to city life. 🙂

Viewers find themselves growing attached to the characters, who seem to come to life as they wrestle with everyday problems. Great lessons abound, including discussion of topics such as humility, greed, selfishness, putting others first, and the importance of faith no matter what our chosen profession.

It is great for the entire family and contains nothing objectionable.

Love Comes Softly

My first-ever Christian romance novels given me as a gift were from my grandma. Yep, they were Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly. Fast forward many years later to a movie series based on the books. While some are better than others, this collection is a win-win for those who love a good series with faith, romance, and endearing stories.

When Calls the Heart

A newer series, this drama set in the early 1900s in Canada is sure to draw fans who enjoy drama and romance with a dash of comedy. My absolute favorites are Lee and Rosemary, who provide comedic relief as well-developed characters. This series is also based on Janette Oke’s book series by the same name. While the movies may not be quite historically accurate in every sense, this series an enjoyable watch and wholesome and clean as well.

Little House on the Prairie

All right, show of hands…how many grew up watching Little House on the Prairie, whether the first time it showed or after it had been released on VHS or DVD for some time? Growing up, we watched re-runs on Channel 12 at our house. And yes, I did have a crush on Almanzo. 😉 This series is perfect for those cold winter evenings when the family wants to escape into simpler times.

The Beverly Hillbillies

I had never seen this iconic movie that aired in 1962, many years before I was born. Corny and farfetched at times, this is the perfect antidote to take a break from the serious issues that plague our world today. My youngest daughter had even perfected the voice of Granny as she said her memorable, “Elly Mae!” Toss aside the amazing graphics of today’s movies and settle into a goofy series from yesteryear.

What is your favorite series of all time?

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delectable gluten free chocolate powder poo cookie recipe

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Digging through my mom’s archive of recipes, I came across this recipe for delectable gluten free chocolate powder poo cookies. They are truly addictive, and I’m not even a chocolate fan on most occasions! 🙂

Now my oldest daughter has taken the reins and regularly bakes these cookies for our family.

Mix in a medium-sized bowl the following:

1/2 c. butter

2/3 c. gf brown sugar

1/4 c. sugar

1 egg*

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp. soda

1/4 c. gf cocoa

1/2 c. milk*

2 c. gf flour

Stir until ingredients are well-mixed. Roll a ball of batter between palms, then roll through a bowl of gf powdered sugar. Place on the cookie sheet and gently push down on the cookie with your palm. Do not completely flatten!

Bake at 325 degrees. Check after 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

*if you are egg free or milk free, substitute Ener-G egg replacer and Rice Dream rice milk.

What’s your favorite gluten free dessert?

every single detail

2 Isaiah 26 3

Three weeks ago, my husband, Lon, came home from work with a swollen knee that was painful and hot to the touch. We both knew exactly what it was…a staph infection. Lon has had five of these infections since 2009, all on the left-hand side of his body in three different locations.

In the next couple of weeks, we would go through a nerve-racking set of circumstances on the path to my husband’s recovery.

Throughout this entire experience, we saw God’s fingerprints all over the situation. A testament that the Lord cares about the big and the small things in our lives – and all the details in between.

After two weeks of oral antibiotics and IV treatment, both while admitted to the hospital and outpatient, Lon’s infection was not improving. As a matter of fact, it was getting worse. It had spread at a rapid pace down his entire leg to his ankle and foot. The orthopedic surgeon ordered and MRI.

The next day, Lon and I went to the hospital at the orthopedic surgeon’s request to meet with him. We thought we were to meet with him in between patients and find out our game plan. I suspected a surgery might be in order at some point, but I didn’t suspect the news we found out when we entered the doors of the OR.

The nursing staff placed Lon in a room and said they’d be in soon to prep him for an emergency surgery based on his MRI. The doctor would be performing a surgery to remove the infection from his knee. That gave me very little time to pray and to contact the insurance company to get pre-authorization for the surgery.

But God knew all this was to happen, and He knew the outcome.

The night before Lon’s emergency surgery (that we didn’t know he was going to have) he came upstairs late at night (his night owl wife was still up reading,) and said he had a super serious craving for popcorn. This was highly unusual, so after teasing him about being like a pregnant woman, I grabbed him some Skinny Pop. God knew that night that the Skinny Pop would be the only thing Lon would be eating for over the next 17 plus hours due to the emergency surgery. Lon would have never been able to make it if he hadn’t had that popcorn, since dinner had been several hours earlier.

A testament of God’s loving care for His children.

On our way to the surgery on Tuesday that we didn’t know Lon was having, we were pulled over. The officer told us, that unbeknownst to us, we had no brake lights – they had both gone out at the same time.

No brake lights.

At all?

At first, I was like, “Really? You had to pull us over outside of the hospital?! And right now?!” But then I realized what a blessing that was as we could have been rear-ended.

During Lon’s long post-surgery recovery in the OR, the nurse told me to take a break and run some errands, so I ran to get light bulbs for the brake lights. I was chatting with the guys at our local Napa store, when one of them walked outside with the light bulbs. “Your man is down, so we’re going to fix this for you,” he said.

God knew I would be running around town like a crazy person driving back and forth from the hospital, picking up Lon’s medicines at the pharmacy, etc., with no brake lights, and placed a kind guy in our midst to help us out. I am always amazed and again reminded at how God cares about the small things, as well as the big things in our lives. 

lon knee

Tomorrow is exactly three weeks since Lon was diagnosed with this most recent staph infection. Throughout this time, we have had big concerns, such as, that the infection spread to Lon’s heart or other organs. Thankfully, it hadn’t.

But through it all, whether the concerns were small or on a bigger scale, God had our backs. He went before us and guided us every step of the way. He heard our prayers and the prayers of our dear family and our faithful friends at church.

Today, Lon continues to recover.

And I will never forget how the Lord showed me once again how much He cares about every single detail in our lives.

Thank you, Jesus, for Your tender mercies.

 

6 Ways to Encourage Other Moms

mom13Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love ~Mildred B. Vermont

Motherhood has been said to be the best, yet sometimes hardest job in the world. And I agree. So how can we come alongside other moms and encourage them in this job?

Here are six ways to make a difference in your mom-friend’s life:

Schedule mom time. Whether one-on-one or in a group, plan some mom-time. It can be as simple as meeting at the playground, taking the kids for ice cream while the moms chat, or spending some time at the public pool. What a nice break to chat with and catch up on all the happenings (we moms benefit from playdates too!) Here are some great ideas for arranging a girl’s night out for a group of your mom friends.

Offer to babysit. Date nights can be few and far between, especially when children are babies and toddlers. Present a coupon to your friend offering to babysit her kiddos while she and her husband re-connect. What an awesome gift for your mom-friend and her marriage!

coupon

Be a listening ear. Recently, through tears, I spoke to a fellow mom about something close to my heart. I was grateful for the time she gave me and the down-to-earth suggestions she offered to me with unparalleled grace. Ask a mom-friend how things are going, take the time to listen – really listen without judgment – and to be her sounding board. Sometimes we moms carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. To have a trusted friend with whom to share those burdens is priceless.

Offer to pray. What a powerful thing prayer is! Ask your mom-friend what her specific prayer needs are and then dedicate to praying for those needs. Sometimes telling someone we’ll pray for them can sound so cliche and can often be forgotten in the midst of our busy days. Remedy this by not only truly praying for your friend each day, but also praying with her whenever you’re chatting on the phone.

Accept her as she is. For some reason, it seems as though mothers often receive the brunt of the criticism and are held to higher judgment. Why do we moms judge each other so harshly? I’ve seen moms judge other moms regarding choices and number of activities (or lack thereof) of another mom’s children; judgment about the way other moms are raising their children; the differences in priorities in families and what they choose to allow or not allow their children to participate in; or even how many sugary snacks fellow moms allow their children to eat in a week.

Moms, this should not be so! Instead, we need to come alongside fellow moms and accept each other the way God made us. Not to say we can’t offer suggestions when warranted (or asked for!) but unsolicited and unkind advice is never appreciated.

Sadly, there also seems to be so much rivalry between moms. Case in point: stay at home moms vs. work-outside-the-home-moms; homeschool moms vs. those who send their children to public school; moms who feed their kids organic health foods vs. the macaroni and cheese moms; sports-minded moms vs. the musical moms; jeans and t-shirts moms vs. business attire moms, married moms vs. single moms; and the list goes on. Put a group of women in a room and this becomes a sad reality as we size each other up in ways we should never do.

Commit to accepting your mom-friend as she is. Be her biggest fan and her most trusted confidante.

moms

Send an encouraging note. What about mailing a thoughtful note to your mom-friend telling her she’s doing a great job and how much you value her friendship? Such a gesture is sure to make her day.

Never more in our lives will we need close friends than as we journey through motherhood. And moms are some of the most awesome and important friendships God will ever bless us with.

How do you encourage your mom-friends?

 

 

the top 11 curriculum choices for high school students

back to school

School is just around the corner! Here are some suggestions for top curriculum choices for high schoolers:

Math:

Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1

Literature/Language Arts:

Skills for Literary Analysis – James Stobaugh (Master Books) Note: This book is written for seventh and eighth grade. However, it is extremely thorough and would be excellent for ninth grade.

Creative Writing:

Wordsmith Craftsman (Common Sense Press)

Science:

Exploring Creation With Biology (Apologia)

History:

World History and Cultures in Christian Perspective (Abeka) Note: I recommend Abeka books, however, I would not recommend their tuition/DVD/streaming program.

Civics:

Constitutional Literacy (Apologia) Note: Be sure to purchase the DVDs that accompany the workbook.

Government:

American Government in Christian Perspective (Abeka) Note: I recommend Abeka books, however, I would not recommend their tuition/DVD/streaming program.

Bible Study:

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist Curriculum by Frank Turrek and Chuck Winter (Apologia)

James Under Pressure by Pam Gibbs

Vocabulary:

Vocabulary from Classical Roots (Educators Publishing Service)

Psychology

Psychology: A Christian Perspective by Tim Rice (Homeschool Psych)

Health

Total Health: Choices for A Winning Lifestyle by Susan Boe (Purposeful Design Publications)

Best online classes:

Schoolhouseteachers.com Provides online classes for preschool through high school with everything in between and in nearly every subject.

Best go-to website for everything homeschool:

HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) includes homeschool laws for each state, consultants, forms and sample letters, and current information regarding homeschooling issues.

What are some of your favorite curriculum items?

 

 

 

 

12 songs to get you through the tough times

We all go through hard times and struggles. This life is not easy.

In no particular order are 12 songs to get you through those difficult times life throws your way.  A perfect addition to any playlist, these songs speak of God’s love. His faithfulness. His tender care for His children. The fact that we are never alone.

A click on the song title will take you to the Youtube lyric video.

sad guy2

I Will Lift My Eyes – Bebo Norman

Look a Little Higher – JJ Weeks Band

Even If – MercyMe

Hills and Valleys – Tauren Wells

Oh My Soul – Casting Crowns

I Will – Citizen Way

Worn – Tenth Avenue North

You are My Rescue – Royal Tailor

Rescue me – Selah

Found – Seventh Day Slumber

Just Say Jesus – 7eventh Time Down

Let the Waters Rise – Mikeschair (I couldn’t find an official video with the song by Mikeschair, so I linked this to the Amazon sample).

 

We all go through difficult times. But we are reminded of the promise in Hebrews 13:5:

Hebrews 13 5