7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

7 ways to encourage your children

Everyday, we can make the choice to encourage or to discourage. To build up or to tear down. To make a positive difference or to make a negative difference.

There’s no one more important than our children when it comes to choosing whom to encourage.

The word encourage in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as to inspire with courage or confidence; to promote, foster.

So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children? Below are seven suggestions…

Encourage their character.  “A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.”*

As parents, are we helping our children to develop good character? Are we encouraging them to make good choices? Our kids will be, and are faced, with multiple decisions each day. Helping them to understand why good choices are important and equipping them with the knowledge and practice to make good choices is paramount.

One of the things we do in our home is to discuss with our children what they would do if faced with  a particularly difficult situation.  What would they do if they were asked to do something they knew was wrong?

C.S. Lewis gave the perfect definition of integrity. He said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”C.S. LewisMy prayer is that my children will have that kind of integrity.

 

Picture 095Encourage their dreams. I love the dreams of little children! My youngest once asked for a pet mongoose. I could have easily told her that there was no way we could have a mongoose and for her to be more practical. However, I chose not to. Instead, I encouraged her dream and we chatted about how fun it would be to actually have a pet mongoose (especially since they eat snakes!), and the tricks we would teach him.

Encourage your children to dream at every age and every stage of their lives.

Encourage their future. I pray regularly for our children’s futures, both during family prayer time and during my own quiet times with the Lord.  I have told my children that it’s exciting to see what God has planned for their lives. We often discuss Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Encourage their compassion. Compassion is one of the most important things we can teach our children. One thing we have done is to instill in our children the importance of serving others. For some ideas on how to instill compassion and servanthood in your children, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. 77 ways

Not only should we encourage compassion for others outside the home, but we should especially encourage compassion within our own families. One of the ways that we do this is to regularly pray for each other and to express our prayer needs daily to one another.

 

Encourage their imagination. As a writer, I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a creative imagination.  There are several ways I have encouraged my children’s imaginations. For one, I have always read to them. Reading is so important and can take us on adventures we would never otherwise take. When my children were old enough to begin reading themselves, I encouraged them to check out as many books as they wanted at the local library and to even have a “reading marathon” over the summer months. Reading is excellent for the imagination!

Several times, we have spread a blanket in the backyard and gazed up at the clouds. We take turns imagining what animals the clouds look like and which could we would choose if we could lounge on any cloud. The white puffy clouds always win!

My oldest daughter has a knack for art. As such, I asked if she would illustrate a story I wrote. She was delighted and it was wonderful to see her own imagination shining through in her art. I combined the story and her illustrations and asked the local office supply store to bound the pages together. We now have our own special book – not only a keepsake, but also a delightful practice in encouraging the imagination of a budding artist!

325381_piggy-back-rideEncourage their friendships. We talk often about friendships in our home and about the kind of friendships that are important. The Bible has much to say about friendships and what type of friends to choose. For example, Proverbs 16:28 talks of why being dishonest and being one who gossips separates close friends.  Proverbs 18:24 states the importance of a friend who sticks closer than a brother (ESV).  John 15:13 is a profound statement of friendship: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In our home, we have talked frequently about three different types of friends: gold friends who are there for you through the good times and bad; silver friends who are fun to be with, but you can’t always count on them; and bronze friends who are more like an acquaintance because they aren’t “true” friends.

We also discuss how good choices for friends is critical because of the amount of influence friends have on each other.

Encourage your children to be the kind of  friend that would honor God.

Most importantly, encourage their walk with God.
Are you children growing in their walk with the Lord? Have they accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior? The most important thing we can do is encourage our children to have a close relationship with Jesus. After all, that’s the only thing that will last for eternity.

3 John 1 4 a.png

 

 

 

 

*Quote taken from gotquestions.org

Advertisements

motherly morsels of wisdom

motherly morsels of wisdom

Moms. A rich source of wisdom passed on for generations.

In celebration of Mother’s Day and as a tribute to moms everywhere, I asked friends across the nation and beyond what was the most important thing they learned from their mom. Here’s what they had to say:

Perseverance, faith, and compassion. ~ Madi A.

My mom taught me that happiness is not how much you have but how much you enjoy what you have. She always says that. ~ Marianne F.

To be kind. ~ Maria F.

Respect, compassion, dedication. ~ Ross W.

To keep Jesus first, cherish family, serve others and never give up hope when things get tough. ~ Margaret S.

The Salvation Message/ to love the Lord. ~ Holly C.

To love like Jesus. To speak kind words. To live by faith. ~ Tammy S.

My mom left me with my grandparents when I was 6 months old & my grandma and aunt wouldn’t let her take me back. Everything I have learned about unconditional love and faith, from a maternal source, I learned from my spiritual mom. She’s been there for me since i was 13, praying for me, taking me to church, reminding me to keep my focus on God, and proving that some people can be trusted not to abandon you. I wouldn’t be who I am without her. ~ Jodi H.

To look to God in hardships… ~ Holly Anne H.

We do not hate, hate is a very strong word. We may not like how someone is or what they did, but we do not hate…….my momma was an amazing woman…..we didn’t have much growing up but we had lots of love and laughter. ~Julie B.

To cherish your family…Just lost my mom 3 weeks ago and she always cherished Family! She was a gracious lady. ~ Tammy J.

My mom told me, “Ninety percent of your unhappiness in life will come from comparing yourself to other people. Just don’t do it.” So far she’s been right. ~ Sam H.

Unconditional love and charity. She would give you the shirt off her back if you truly needed it. ~ Natalie J.

To always remain positive no matter what. ~ John C.

Courage and humor in the face of loss of loved ones, her own severe arthritis, three kinds of cancer, heart problems, dementia. ~ Kathy B.

Kindness, diligence, work ethic, love for my kiddos—because of her love for me and my bro’s, my mom is AMAZING!!! ~ Heather K.

Rudyard Kipling

I’m thankful for my own mom, who taught me the value of hard work. She worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known in difficult labor-type jobs: cleaning businesses and wallpapering homes, so she could stay home with us and help provide income at the same time.

But my mom taught me so much more than work ethic. She taught me to serve others from the time my siblings and I were little, we “adopted” grandparents and visited them, provided for their needs, and learned to treasure them.

But my mom taught me even more than serving others. She taught me compassion and to put others above myself. She taught me how to nurture and care for those who are ailing. She also taught me to be creative and follow my dreams.

But my mom taught me more than that. Now confined to a wheelchair with serious chronic illnesses, my mom has taught me the value of faith and how to rely on God in all circumstances. To keep my eyes on Jesus, even when it’s the hardest (and last) thing you feel you can do. To still serve others in the midst of struggling with her own hardships. To persevere and to never give up. To love others even if that love is never returned.

Moms – you do make an impact on, not just your child(ren), but also future generations. You do this by the way you live, the words you say, and the actions you show day after day.

To all you moms, Happy Mother’s Day. May the Lord bless you for being shining examples.

Mom's motherly morsels

 

 

 

Check out these other posts about and/or for moms:

 

 

 

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

Outside-the-box

Looking for some suggestions for your homeschool students? Check out these out-of-the-box ideas:

For younger students:

Gameshow Contestant Alphabet race. Purchase magnetic alphabet letters and place them in random order on the refrigerator. Pretend to be a game show host and ask  your contestant(s) to retrieve a letter. For instance, “find the letter “S”! Your student runs to the refrigerator, and in record time, returns with the letter. Continue until all of the letters have been chosen. If they get one wrong, have them try again. My girls loved this game when they were little. They would giggle when I announced they won “a brand new car!” at the end of the game, which was really one of my husband’s toy Matchbox cars he’d collected as a youth.

Real Gameshows. Similarly, my daughters loved (and still do love) to play Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. From the time they were little, they would guess letters and try to answer questions. The familiarity of learning letters assisted them greatly as younger children. Today, my teen daughters compete with the rest of the family for the correct answers on Jeopardy and the correct puzzle solving on Wheel of Fortune.

Math Candies.  When my girls were in kindergarten and first grade, we often played math games with candies. Candies (and crackers) work well for learning adding and subtracting. And they’re tasty when you’re finished. (Just be sure not to eat the entire bag)!

Specimen Collection. My youngest daughter loves insects. In our town, we have numerous pathways and trails where we collected “specimens” for her bug collection. Enlist relatives in other states to send specimens from their area to add to collections.

different learning styles

For older students:

Attend a Naturalization Ceremony. It is amazing to watch as people proudly become new citizens of the United States. It’s an excellent example of legal immigration. To become a U.S. citizen is a privilege, and the hard work these new members of our country have put forth is an inspiration.

Attend a court hearing. Have a small claims or traffic court in your town? Call ahead and see if your teens can attend a hearing and sit in the audience. A word of caution: you will need to be discerning, as some court cases are not appropriate for children/teens.

Read the newspaper and/or news magazines. This is a great way to teach your children how the press works. Encourage them to be on the lookout for biased articles. A good reporter  will write an article in such a way that the reader cannot tell which side of the controversy the reporter is on.

Have your student write a letter to the editor. Allow your tween/teen to pick a topic that is important to them and relevant to current events. After they type the letter, they will either hand deliver or email the letter to the editor of the paper.

Novel in a year. My oldest daughter wants to be a writer, so last year for part of her English studies, she wrote a novel in full for a story she’d had percolating around in her mind. Her creativity was amazing to see.

Start a blog. My youngest daughter isn’t as fond of writing as her mom and sister are, so to encourage creative thought, she established her own blog. Every other week, I assign her a topic, which is usually picked from the headlines. On alternating weeks, the decision is up to her regarding the subject matter. She usually chooses an interesting animal or a fictional story. It not only gives teens a chance to develop opinions about important topics, but also enhances their creativity.

Woodworking and other projects. My husband and oldest daughter took on two projects: the first was to build a birdhouse for my birthday. The second was to design and build a dresser for my her room.

Sewing. My youngest daughter takes sewing and quilting classes from a dear friend who is an expert seamstress and quilter. My daughter so far has learned how to mend, sew doll clothes, and complete a quilt from start to finish. She will soon begin sewing her own clothes.

Both woodworking and sewing teach a host of useful items to students. Learning how to measure; learning the importance of sticking with a project; and how to use various machines/hand tools.

Field trips. We live in a small town, but I’m surprised at the number of places we’ve found to take field trips. For younger children, the fire station and the local bakery are favorites; for older children, the police station, court house, and historical places were hits. Don’t rule out places of employment, especially for older children. You never know what might spark an interest in them for a future vocation.

Topics of discussion. When people ask me what my favorite things about homeschooling are, “topics of discussion” is one of the things that top the list. I bring important issues to the table during breakfast or lunch, and we discuss them. It can range from current events, to issues teens deal with, eating disorders, alcohol and smoking, friends, boys, etc. There are no taboo topics, and everyone joins in the conversation. Sometimes teens can be a bit evasive, so have some quality questions in your arsenal that you can ask to get them to give their opinions. It’s also a time for them to ask questions, so be sure to make it a relaxed and laid-back environment.

One of the first things I learned as a homeschool mom was that every child has a different learning style. What works for one may not work for another. As such, being able to “add” projects to their curriculum only enhances their learning.

 

5 ways to make your child feel loved

5 ways to make your kid feel loved

We tell our children we love them often – and our words are important. But how can we put action to those words and show them we love them? Here are five easy steps.

1. Pray with them. We pray corporately several times daily as a family – in our family Bible studies, before meals, etc. However, one of the things I have found especially important is to pray separately with each of my children as well. In those quiet times we prepare to spend with the Lord, I ask each child what specific prayer requests they have for others, for themselves  – are they struggling with a subject in school? Having difficulties with a friendship? Dealing with an illness?

3 John 1 4

2. Spend time with them one-on-one. These moments are some of the most precious. My oldest daughter and I both love to write. We brainstorm ideas together, have “inside jokes” about a writer’s life, and discuss “problem characters.” My youngest daughter and I ran a 5k to raise money for breast cancer last year. It can be, but doesn’t have to be big events. Sometimes the littlest most ordinary times together make the best memories.

3. Listen. Really listen. So many things compete for our attention. Work duties, household chores, other children, etc. When we look our child in the eye and really hear what they are saying, we are showing we love them. I have personally found that the car is one of the best places to strike up conversations. No ear buds, no smart phones, no TVs. Just great conversations (unless, of course, we are all joining in singing with our favorite Christian artist on the radio! :))

mom and son.jpg

4. Find out what’s important to them. Recently my youngest daughter told me that she really appreciates when I plan out the day ahead with her. She enjoys knowing exactly what we’ll be doing that day and helps her to prepare.

5. Discuss the easy and the hard topics. We, as parents, should be the first line of information for our kids. We’ve always had an open-conversation-policy in our house where our daughters can discuss whatever topic they’d like, as long as they do so respectfully. We’ve had some fantastic talks about fun topics, but also some great discussions about the hard things: drugs, eating disorders, politics, abortion, etc. Be sure that your discussion topics are always age-appropriate.

In James 1:17, we are told that every good gift is from above. Children are such a gift and a blessing that the Lord has given us. May we, as parents, be worthy.

James 1 17

9 memorable Christmas traditions for families

9 christmas traditions

It’s that time of year again! Time to create or revisit holiday family traditions. Need some fresh ideas to add to your family’s list of fun customs for Christmas? Here are some memorable suggestions:

Adopt a family. Many families are struggling this time of year, so our family “adopts” a family and provides a Christmas dinner for them. We include a turkey or ham, stuffing (if we provided a turkey), two cans of vegetables, a bag of potatoes, and a dessert. Alternatively, if your house is big enough, why not invite someone who has nowhere to go for Christmas to your house to enjoy Christmas dinner with your family?

Read the real Christmas story. I love the tradition of reading Luke 2:1-20 on Christmas Day and reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas. A baby born who would one day die for the sins of mankind so they could have eternal life. Have each family member take turns reading verses, or have mom or dad read it in its entirety.

nativity scene.jpg

Go Christmas lighting. From the time our two daughters were toddlers, we have changed into pajamas and loaded into our SUV for a trip around our town to check out the Christmas lights. Each year we vote on a home to win the “Christmas Winter Wonderland Prize.”

christmas llights.jpg

Attend Candlelight Eve Service. Christmas wouldn’t be complete without attending the Candlelight Eve Service at our church. Not only do we attend, but we also make it a point to invite neighbors and friends who may not otherwise know about the event.

Host a treasure hunt. Each Christmas Eve, my husband and I write numerous “sticky notes” with clues on them for each of our girls. We then place them strategically around the house. On Christmas Day, the girls race to find clues, and subsequently, one of their Christmas gifts. Treasure hunts are fun, and if you have a zany sense of humor like the Zeller parents, try to rhyme the clues with silly words.

Collect an ornament a year. When we decorate the tree, I love the memories that go with each decoration. From the time I was born, my grandma, Nanie, would give each grandchild a decoration each year for Christmas. That has expanded into decorations for each great-grandchild. Not only does Nanie supply her grands and great-grands with homemade decorations, but we also pick out a special ornament as a family to add to our tree each year.

Give an ornament to each of your children each year the day after Thanksgiving. Better yet? Encourage your children or grandchildren to create a special Christmas decoration for the tree. Homemade ornaments are by far the best!

Christmas decoration 4

Remember Christmas songs of old. Why not make it a tradition to go Christmas caroling? Around the neighborhood, downtown, in businesses (with the owner’s/manager’s permission) or, better yet, nursing homes would love to have their residents cheered with the voices of carolers. Bring along a few generic wrapped gifts to hand out to those residents who might not otherwise receive a gift. Suggestions may include fuzzy socks, a pretty journal, or fragrance-free hand lotion.

Bake and deliver goodies. Our family enjoys the tradition of making Christmas goodies and delivering them to neighbors and those in our community who have blessed us throughout the year.

Christmas cookies.jpg

Partake in a board game. A friend of mine plays board games with his family to determine who chooses/opens the next Christmas gift.

It’s never too late to start a Christmas tradition that can be passed on to further generations. When your children and grandchildren are all grown, they will have fond memories of the traditions you embraced and cherished as a family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

scrumptious gluten free/egg free pumpkin bars

781603_index_boxBecause Lon and I both have gluten and egg allergies, I’m always on the lookout for delicious recipes that we can enjoy. Our daughters love to help bake in the kitchen and I’ve used that love for baking to teach them measurements.

They also love being taste-testers, although I don’t think my youngest will ever try baking powder again! 🙂

Check out this scrumptious gluten free/egg free pumpkin bar recipe. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts or any time of the year. If your diet allows gluten and eggs, simply replace the gluten free/egg free items below with wheat flour and eggs.

Scrumptious Gluten Free/Egg Free Pumpkin Bars

You will need:

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

egg replacer to replace two eggs (we use Ener G egg replacer)

pumpkins1 c. pumpkin

1 c. gluten free flour (I use Gluten Free Pantry flour)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Please note that oven temperatures can vary. I usually have to instead preheat my oven to 340 degrees).

Mix all ingredients together except the pumpkin until lightly mixed. Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Grease a pan with gluten free cooking spray and pour the batter into the pan. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes until fully baked (cooking time will vary).

Frosting

4 c. gluten free powdered sugar

6 tbsp. of butter (if you are on a dairy- free diet, use dairy free substitute)

3-4 tbsp. of milk (if you are on a dairy-free diet, use an alternative milk. We use Rice Dream rice milk).

Mix thoroughly.

Allow the pumpkin bars to cool, then frost. Cut into small bars and enjoy!


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)

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?