the top 10 blog posts of 2021

I can’t believe it’s already almost February! Is it just me or has time flown by faster than ever this past year?

Last year, I posted 47 posts on a variety of topics including faith, humor, parenting and motherhood, writing, movie reviews, blog tours, recipes, songs, devotionals, and how-to posts. Below, I’ve listed the ten most popular of those 47 in order of popularity.

1. The most popular post last year was how to build close bonds with your kids. The inspiration for this post came from a mom who recently posted a question in a Facebook group. She needed encouragement in her parenting journey.

2. The number two spot was another parenting post titled tools to help your child succeed in life. Our culture bases success on many things. But what truly makes a person successful? And what if we, as parents, pulled the following tools from our parenting toolboxes to help our child succeed in life?

3. This post was my very last post of the year posted on the very last day of 2021: tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions. Each year, New Year’s resolutions are made, and each year, New Year’s resolutions are broken, some within a month or two of making them. Below are some suggestions for keeping your New Year’s resolutions.

4. One of the highlights in my personal life last year was the release of my contemporary romance novel Love Under Construction. A tender and uplifting story with plenty of humor, its main theme is relying on God in all circumstances. I was so grateful to all of the bloggers who joined me in the Love Under Construction blog tour, the fourth most popular post of the year.

5. One of my personal favorite posts made the number five spot. 28 verses for uncertain times, one of the several posts in the Scripture Series. Amidst the anxiety and fear that grips us during these uncertain times, we must keep our focus on the only One who can give us peace and comfort when all things seem lost. These verses are the Lord’s promises that we are never alone, that He goes before us, and that He is our shield and comfort.

6. One of my humor posts made the number six slot, Momlife, part 1 “The Big Truck A fun post in the momlife series based on real life. In it, I reach back into the past and dig into the archives for a story about what happened when an innocent mom of two with a serious depth perception problem has to drive the big truck while her SUV is being repaired.

7. In the number seven slot is my post you might be a writer if… (10 ways to know). Some of my favorite people are fellow writers. We live in a world all our own, full of crazy characters, plot twists, and made-up settings. Here are ten clues you might be a writer.

8. I posted Thankful for the small things… as a reminder that we sometimes overlook the seemingly “small” things.

9. the importance of avoiding false teaching came in number nine. Sometimes it’s not easy to discern false teaching when it is plopped in the center of an otherwise Biblical-sounding sermon or podcast. Sometimes otherwise good teaching is interspersed with falsehoods or even heresy. That’s when we need to be on guard the most. So how do we spot false teaching?

10. And finally, rounding out the top ten most popular blog posts is 31 awesome movies for your must-watch list. I am always on the lookout for movies for the entire family. Here, I list 31 of my favorites to add to your next family night.

To my readers, thank you so much for taking the time to read my posts this past year. Have a blessed 2022!

8 things to do this October

It’s hard to believe that October is already here! To sound a bit cliche…where did the time go?

Looking for some fun activities to celebrate the beginning of the fall season? Check out these eight suggestions.

Enjoy the leaves. Go for a walk (or a hike if you live near a forest or the mountains) and see the vibrant colors on display, courtesy of an amazing Creator! Or, if you have kiddos (or are a kid-at-heart yourself!) take a leap into a pile of leaves. Snap photos of the leaves before they completely disappear. Want to preserve these colorful pieces of art? Check out the instructions here for how to join your children in a craft project to press and preserve leaves.

Make some pumpkin muffins with your kids. Choose festive fall cupcake wrappers and freeze the extra ones, two to a bag, so that your family can enjoy the muffins all month long. Below is our family’s favorite pumpkin muffin recipe.

Note: For those with food allergies, the eggs can be replaced with egg replacer (we use the Ener-G), the milk replaced by Rice Dream rice milk or another dairy substitute, and the flour can be replaced by a gluten-free variety (we use King Arthur gluten free all-purpose baking mix).

1/2 cap vanilla

2 C. flour

2 Eggs (or egg replacer)

1 cube of butter softened

3/4 c. pumpkin

3/4 c. milk (or rice milk)

3/4 c. sugar

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of pumpkin pie spice (optional)

1 tsp baking powder*

1/2 tsp. baking soda*

*if these ingredients are not already included in the gluten free baking mix you use

Bake at 340 degrees for about 15-16 minutes.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

Take a bike ride. Our family loves riding our bikes on the numerous trails near our home. Once October hits, time for bike-riding is at a premium with the shorter and colder days, so take advantage of those last lingering sun rays and the brilliant fall foliage.

Think about a new exercise program indoors. The cold and long (in some parts of the US) winters are perfect for thinking about and acting upon a new indoor exercise program. Of course, be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any new exercise. The options are numerous, including joining a gym and participating in indoor cycling classes, weight training programs, or water aerobics classes. Or, if you prefer, hang out at home with a video, a stationary bike or treadmill, or develop your own dance routine. Make it a family event by encouraging your spouse and kids to join in getting healthy with you.

Snuggle beneath a heated throw and read that new book you’ve had your eye on. October is National Book Month and is the perfect time to take a much-needed break, even if it’s only for a few hours a week, to indulge in your favorite genre.

Read a book to your kiddos. When my girls were little, I had a couple of the books we read together completely memorized, and could literally read them with my eyes closed. Whether an old book that they’ve heard a million times or a brand new book courtesy of a trip to the library, take the time to read to your kids. And not just in October, but all year long. The benefits of reading to our children are numerous, and they foster a closeness that can’t be duplicated.

Show the love of Christ to the least of these. Start thinking about Operation Christmas Child. Collection week this year is November 15-22, but as we all know, time zips past faster than ever these days, so grab your family and go shopping this Christmas (a bit early!). Operation Christmas Child provides boxes of toys, school supplies, and hygiene items to underprivileged children in other countries. Not only that, but through these boxes, precious children have an opportunity to know the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ.

You can even build a shoebox online if you’re crunched for time.

All of the information for this amazing ministry can be found here. Please take special note of the items allowed (and not allowed!) in the shoeboxes.

Put together a foster care kit. According to the most recent data, there are over 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S.

Many people will be able to foster a child. Some will be able to adopt a child from foster care. And several will be able to help provide clothing and toys to children in foster care.

A friend of mine who works with foster children and their foster parents told me today that some children arrive in their foster homes with nothing. Some have no clothing, not even underwear or pajamas.

Put together a foster care kit for children placed in emergency foster care by providing the following: new or gently used clothing, a new toy (stuffed animal, coloring books and crayons, etc.), a book, and a new toothbrush/toothpaste combo. Deliver the kit to your local family services agency.

Have a blessed October!


Before you go, check out these other posts!

How to become an undercover prayer warrior

Conquering the joy zappers of life

Momlife part 1, the big truck

Movie Monday: Little Women

Who are you behind the screen?

14 things for girls to consider before dating

What to stock up on this winter

15 verses for strength in challenging times

the best county fair entry ever

Want a zany idea for your next county fair entry? Read on…

This world has become increasingly unrecognizable with its constant drama, stressors, and problems. As such, I started a new series a few weeks ago with some humor posts to take us away, even for a brief moment, from the seriousness of recent days.

A few weeks ago, I shared a silly blog post from the past about my experience driving “the big truck” while my SUV was in the shop. I followed it up with a goofy post about how a mom can be a successful tooth fairy.

This week, I’m digging once again into the momlife archives. Several years ago when my girls were younger, life seemed easier, more laid-back, and the world in which we lived was a kinder one.

Next week, join me for our regularly-scheduled blog posts, where I’ll be discussing how we can overcome joy zappers. Future momlife posts will be sprinkled in amongst my regular faith-based and writing posts.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the best county fair entry ever.


Our family loves to enter things in the county fair. Each year, my daughters gather homemade goodies, artwork, sewing projects, and drawings and see what ribbons they can earn for their time, effort, and creativity.

I decided to do something a bit unusual this year…

Unbeknownst to him, last year as a surprise, I entered my husband’s amazing steel cutout of an elk. I had been so impressed with what he had created out of a piece of steel, that I just knew the judges would be impressed too. Imagine his shock when we were walking through the exhibit hall and he saw his project on the table with a blue ribbon –the elk was an incredible work of art. Large and polished to a sheen, it’s metal glowed against the woodworking projects that surrounded it. Lon took one look at it and exclaimed, “That looks like that elk cutout I made. Hey, wait, that is the elk cutout I made!”

Not to be outdone by entering the elk project, this year I decided to take a little different route. Yes, this year’s county fair entry would definitely be one-of-a-kind.

One day, Lon decided to take a picture of his foot wearing his size 13, beatup tennis shoe, as though it was some shoe model for decrepit, needing-to-be-retired footwear. Wondering what I would enter in the fair that year, I found my answer when I discovered this picture on our digital camera.

Wasting no time, I rushed to the store and had the photo enlarged to a 5x7and printed it off. Then, finding a reasonably-priced plastic frame, I displayed this lovely piece of “art”. Buffing the glass of the frame to a sheen, the shoe picture was ready to enter in our county fair.

Wouldn’t Lon be so surprised when he saw his picture, one likely taken out of boredom, proudly displayed on the exhibit center wall amongst numerous other quality pieces of photography?

In today’s world, just look around and you’ll see so many varieties of “art”. I just knew this would be a hit at the fair with the judges and the attendees of the fair alike. So, with the framed shoe picture awaiting its artistic debut, my daughters and I entered the door of the exhibit hall with our box full of entries.

I choked back a snicker. It was very difficult not to laugh while unloading the entries. After all, I had to play this cool so my quest would be successful.

I gingerly unloaded the mound of fair entries. Framed photos of mountain scenes and animals, pictures the girls had drawn, and homemade baked goods soon graced the table.

I saved the best for last and did my best to keep a stoic expression. No easy task for someone who is noticing the very real effect of having permanent laugh lines. But I digress…

The entry coordinator reached for another entry card, likely assuming my next entry would be more of the same of the other dozen or so entries.

But when I placed the framed photo on the table, time seemed to stand still. I pasted on my best “isn’t this an amazing entry?” face.

I watched the entry coordinator’s face as she filled out the entry card for the shoe picture. I began to snort, chalking it up to something in my throat. I struggled to maintain my composure and keep my laughter under control. After all, who really enters a photo of a beat up tennis shoe in the local fair?

And moreover, who acts like they are super proud of such an entry?

The woman looked up at me, then back down at the shoe picture, then back up at me, and finally one last time at the shoe picture. She picked up the frame and with a look of concern mixed with disgust, added it to the pile of entered fair projects.

I somehow hoped she’d be a little more appreciative of this fine piece of art.

The following day when our family went to see what ribbons we had been awarded, the girls, sworn to secrecy, and me still attempting to be nonchalant about the whole ordeal, led Lon around the exhibit hall. The girls pointed out their pictures, and when we finally came to one in particular, Lon stopped and stared. “Pen, is that? No, it can’t be…Pen!”

I thought I would die of laughter. Then Lon began to laugh and together we gazed at the unlikely winner of a high-placing ribbon.

The moral of the story? In a world so full of busyness, it’s good to take some time out to truly laugh at the sillier side of life. God gave us the ability to laugh and the ability to take joy in even the most mundane things – even a framed picture of a tennis shoe.



Before you go, check out these other posts…

the importance of avoiding false teaching

training for the mom olympics

you might be a writer if…(10 ways to know)

leaving a godly legacy

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

28 verses for uncertain times

Movie Monday: Duma

the video camera is always on part 4

Last week in my continuing series, I talked about two key issues where our children are always recording: our priorities and what we allow into our minds. Today, I’ll be discussing how our kids are always watching the example we set in our marriages and how we treat our spouse. I’ll also be discussing how we react when others wrong us.

Marriage can be tough. It is purely by the grace of God that two completely different people with different pasts can come together, warts and all, and share a love that spans a lifetime.

While no marriage is perfect, we can do our best to be a half of a marriage that honors God and sets a good example for our children. It has been said that our daughters will emulate us as wives when they themselves marry and that they will choose husbands with similar character traits as their dads. The same is true for our sons, who look to their dads for an example of what a man should be in his role as a husband; and at moms for what type of wife they will seek.

So how can we show our children an example of a marriage worth mirroring?

Spend time together. Set aside the first 15 minutes when your spouse arrives home from work (or you, if you arrive after your spouse) to greet each other, talk about your day, and connect. Yes, there are a million other things that will be vying for your attention, but making your spouse a priority is critical.

Spend time in the Word as a couple. To do so in our busy world, we have to be intentional. Set aside time to pray together and seek to know the Lord better through reading the Bible.

Put your spouse before yourself. A fun article depicting a couple who celebrated their 85th wedding anniversary in 2020 and is likely the longest married couple in America, discusses the importance of spending time together participating in the favorite interests of the other spouse. Husband Ralph states in the article that “Dorothy loves ballroom dancing and I loved to shoot clay targets…I joined her with ballroom dancing and she joined me with trap shooting.”

Deal with conflict appropriately. Conflict, grudges, irritation, differing ideas, disagreements…and the list goes on. While we may have a lot in common with our spouse, we aren’t them and they aren’t us. When conflict arises – and it will – we need to deal with it appropriately. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”.

Be kind. Matthew 7:12 applies heartily to marriages. Treat your spouse as you would like to be treated.

Serve your spouse. There are a million little ways we can serve our spouse that make a huge impact.

Make building a strong marriage a priority.

Another area where our kids will imitate us is in how we react when someone wrongs us.

This is a tough one. No one can sail through life without painful relationships, broken friendships, and just plain crossing the paths of mean people. Hurts happen, and how we respond when someone has wronged us is another area where our children are watching us to see how we respond.

Do we respond in kind? Do we hide our pain? Do we get defensive and seek revenge? Do we ignore the offending party?

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. There will be those times when we aren’t able to live at peace with someone and the best we can do is to distance ourselves from that person and continue to pray for them.

However, for those other times (which should be in the majority), our children are watching to see if we react with forgiveness, seeking reconciliation if possible, and remembering that we are called to imitate Christ in our actions (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Do we respond in humility? Ask for forgiveness when we are in the wrong?

None of these proper responses is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. In our fallen natures, it’s much easier to take a different route of bitterness, unrighteous anger, and gossip.

Our children will imitate how we respond with someone who hurt us the next time someone hurts them.

Please join me next time for our final segment in this series where I’ll be discussing how our children mimic our healthy habits (or lack thereof) and how we respond during trials.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on part 1

the video camera is always on part 2

the video camera is always on part 3

the importance of new beginnings

Movie Monday: Where Love Found Me

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

7 ways to inspire others

7 tips to help safeguard against an entitlement attitude in your kids

how to build close bonds with your kids

A mom recently posted a question in a Facebook group. She needed encouragement in her parenting journey after hearing from several parents that she needed to enjoy her time with her children now (all under six-years-old) because when her children were teens, they would hate her and wouldn’t want anything to do with her. She asked how she could maintain a strong relationship with her children into adulthood.

Should we expect the close relationship we have with our little ones to change as they get older? Should that just be one more thing to worry about on the lengthy list of parenting concerns?

While it’s true that our relationships with our children change several times over the course of their growing to adulthood, it doesn’t mean that it has to be something negative. It’s important to note that the blanket statement of children hating us once they become tweens and teens or not wanting to spend any time with us is simply not true for everyone.

So how can we build close bonds with our children that last far into adulthood? And while the ideal would be to start these suggestions when our children are very young, we can never go wrong strengthening those bonds no matter what age our children are.

Here are some ways to build close bonds with your kids:

Give your relationship with your children to the Lord. This is by far the most important suggestion and not a one-time prayer. Surrender your parenting to Jesus, seek His guidance, and endeavor, with His help, to be the kind of parent our Heavenly Father is to us.

Pray with and for your children without ceasing.

Spend time with your kids. Suggestions include listening, learning, singing, dancing, reading, playing games, and going for bike rides. Ask your children for ideas.

Spend one-on-one time with each child. When you’re a mom, the days go by at an unprecedented pace. There is just so much to do and so little time! But it’s critical to spend time with your children one-on-one on a regular basis. Some suggestions? Take a walk, go out for ice cream, plan a “girls day” complete with hair appointments, or celebrate at home with manicures. Again, ask each child for suggestions.

Make church, Bible study, and worship a priority.

Celebrate their uniqueness. Each of our kids are different, and that’s a good thing!

Make family night a tradition. Once you make this important night a tradition (for us it’s Friday nights) be sure to hold to it. Other activities are sure to come up, but if you make family night a priority, it instills the importance of spending time as a family and shows that other “important” activities can be scheduled around time with family.

Keep communication lines open. The standard “fine” when asked how their day is going can be avoided if you get creative in asking questions. If your kids attend a private or public school, wait a few minutes after they get home to ask them about their day. Children need a chance to transition and recharge. Keep in touch with what’s going in in their “world” and with friends and activities.

Bring up topics of interest. I bring a “topic” to the table each day, usually at lunch because it seems we have more time at that meal. I seek their opinions about the topic before giving mine and always listen to their point of view whether I agree with it or not. It can be any age-appropriate topic and has varied from how to be kind to others when they were little, to abortion when they got older, to today’s topic, which was on a Christian heretic and how we need discernment. As a homeschooling mom, I have an advantage of spending time with my kids that we wouldn’t have if they were in a school setting all day with limited time to spend together after school, sports, jobs, etc. If your child is private or public schooled, plan this time around the dinner table.

Express your gratitude. Have a grateful heart and a humble spirit whenever they do something kind or helpful.

Discipline with fairness and with love.

Be a good listener. Care about what matters to them, and always, always, always let them know how much you love them and how thankful you are that God has chosen you to be their mom.

Teach compassion and empathy for others by modeling it yourself.

Be respectful of them.

Find times to chat. Ever since my daughters were little, we’ve had a rule that we’ve never watched videos in the car. This wasn’t because I’m against videos – I actually love a good movie) – but because car-time is talk time, and if they don’t open up at other times, they will open up in the car (as odd as that sounds). On longer trips, we’d put on Christian tunes and sing together, or on family jaunts, we’d listen to Adventures in Odyssey. Other ideas? Provide a stack of books and travel games. (The license plate game, anyone?)

Don’t encourage your kids to grow up too fast. It really is true that when you blink, your kids will be grown. I didn’t believe it back in those early days of my kids not sleeping through the night and the ensuing severe sleep deprivation. All the milestones that our kids will eventually cross don’t need to be rushed. Take the time to enjoy each stage as it comes.

Priorities, priorities! Those we love should be a priority over all other “things” that clamor for our attention on a daily basis. This includes cell phones (which should never be allowed at the dinner table or family night), social media (fine in small doses, but it should never replace time with our families), choosing to work 24/7 with no time for family, and many, many other time vacuums that are in our busy lives. This is not to say that we make our children selfish because they think they are the only thing that matters (we do have to work, do laundry, and make dinner!), but it is to say that things can never take the place of people and we should never make it seem like they are.

Don’t listen to naysayers. Everyone will have a different parenting experience. Life happens and sometimes things beyond our control get in the way of relationships.

Remember there is no guarantee. A dear friend who was always close to her children recently discovered that one of them, as an adult, has joined a cult and has disowned their family. No matter how hard we try, things can still go in a different direction than we ever would have planned. We do the best we can, then leave the rest to God.


Before you go, check out these other posts on this blog:

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

leaving a godly legacy

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

looking to homeschool? here are 7 things to consider

delectable gluten free chocolate crinkles recipe

how to start a sisters in Christ group

who are you behind the screen?

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 again 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.

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.
importance of voting 2.png

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

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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

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Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

looking to homeschool

Time and again, I’ve heard from several parents who are considering (or have made the decision) to homeschool, which raises the question: what things should you consider if you are contemplating homeschooling this year?

#1: Motive. People homeschool for many reasons. Some of these include:

COVID – this wasn’t a reason until 2020, but it’s becoming a common reason for deciding to homeschool.

Religious reasons – parents want to be able to raise their children in a school that allows God to be at the forefront.

The freedom to be able to instill their morals.

Their child has experienced a negative situation at their public school, for example, bullying.

To be able to teach their child at a rate above what the public school teaches.

To be able to teach their child at a pace needed for a child with special needs.

The child has other health issues that would be better served by a home education.

More freedom during the school day in all arenas of daily life.

Ability to choose and tailor school curriculum to specific learning styles. (A one-size-doesn’t-fit-all education).

The freedom to teach an alternative to liberal agendas being taught in many public schools.

A more efficient school day.

And many, many other reasons.

What is your motive for homeschooling your child? It’s critical to examine those motivations to better equip you for this decision.

#2: Children’s learning styles. It’s helpful to learn your children’s learning styles. There is a thorough explanation of seven different (some primary, some secondary) learning styles on the Homeschooling Mom blog. The styles include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (which most of us are somewhat familiar with), as well as, reading/writing learner, mathematical/logic learner, social learner, and solitary learner.

Most children are mix of one or more styles. If you are in tune to what style(s) your child is, you will be better able to teach them. Neither of my children share my learning styles, but if I was to teach in one of those styles, I likely wouldn’t be effective. As a homeschool parent, you have the ability of being able to teach in whatever learning style(s) your child falls into.

#3: Curriculum. One of the concerns I have heard from people considering homeschooling is that they won’t (i.e., aren’t educated enough/don’t have qualifications) be able to teach their child in certain subjects. Let me reassure you that there are so many curriculum choices, some that are even self-grading, that this challenge will not be as big of an issue as it could at first seem. Co-ops are also helpful for this.

A little reminder: you have been teaching your child since their first days. Who better qualified to continue teaching them?

Seek out those who have already homeschooled or who are currently homeschooling and ask what curriculum they use. Be prepared to change your curriculum if it doesn’t work. I’ve done that many times with my girls. We have the freedom to choose what will work best for our children, and if something doesn’t work, there are many other choices.

Be willing to think outside the box. For instance, maybe your child who doesn’t much care to write can give some oral reports for history class, rather than writing a report of what she has learned. Or if you have a child who loves to write, perhaps doing a novel in a year would be just the thing to add to her English curriculum.

Some of my choices for high school curriculum can be found here.

One final note: curriculum can get pricey. Keep in mind that you can purchase used curriculum at a fraction of the cost.

#4: Your support system. If you are going to homeschool, you will need a support system.

A support system begins with your spouse. If your spouse is not on board, it will be an uphill battle. I’m thankful my husband (our principal, math, woodworking, and science teacher) has been on full board since we began homeschooling many years ago.

You’ll also need the support of other family and friends. Homeschooling can be difficult and lonely at times, and their support will be invaluable.

The support of online Facebook groups is also helpful. We have a local group for which I am an admin, and it has been a great place to bounce ideas off each other, find upcoming events and field trips, and even buy used curriculum. I am also the member of numerous national Facebook homeschool groups, which provide a different and even broader range of opportunities.

Find a mentor mom, someone who has been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale. We have several of these in our local Facebook group. Their experience and advice have been priceless.

Local co-ops are also a great place to find support.  I taught a homeschool P.E. class for seven years to upwards of 40 teens and tweens during our busiest years. I also taught Constitutional Literacy and Biology Lab. During those times of teaching, and the times when my daughters attended other classes, I was able to reinforce those bonds with other homeschooling moms and dads.

#5: Be mindful of electives. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that our children have a wide variety of electives. My oldest daughter took a woodworking class with her dad as the teacher. She built me a birdhouse, built herself a dresser, and assisted my husband in redoing the counters and moldings in our kitchen and bathroom.

My youngest daughter takes a quilting and sewing class from a friend. This has enabled her to sew a skirt, two quilts, and a host of other smaller projects.

#6: Don’t worry about socialization. This is a huge concern for people who don’t homeschool. Between church youth groups, volunteer projects, sports, co-ops, and fair/4-H projects, homeschooled kids are more than socialized. The difference between being socialized as a public school student and being socialized as a homeschool student is that the parent chooses how they want their child to be socialized and who they want their child to be socialized with. This eliminates negative influencers and incorporates positive role models and interaction with every age group.

#7. Use this time to build relationships with your children. My absolute favorite thing about being a homeschool mom is the relationships I have built with my daughters. For example, each day, I bring a topic to the table during breakfast, where we discuss it (no topic/question is off limits). We’ve had some great discussions about the things that concern them most.

In addition, being together more often than the few hours they would be home were they public schooled has allowed us to grow closer. I wouldn’t trade that closeness for anything.
Time with KidsNo matter if you decide to homeschool, or what homeschooling method you choose , offer your decision to the Lord. Ask that He guide you, direct you, and help you to glorify Him in your choice to homeschool your child.

Other posts on this blog that might interest you:

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

5 fun summer activities for kids

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

you might be a homeschool mom if (15 clues)

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

10 good things that could come from the corona virus pandemic

Movie Monday: Unplanned