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 us. 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, take your children with you when you vote, if possible. My girls, from the time they were in our double baby-jogger stroller, accompanied me to the polls.
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? Immigration? 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 the candidates’ 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 a few years ago, we had a mock election on everything from the president down 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.
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 giving them the tools to make informed 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 (thirteen 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.
As a mom of daughters, we’ve had many great discussions about things to consider before they choose to date someone.
Everyone will have their own personal likes/dislikes. For example, my girls have mentioned they would never date someone who has a man bun, wears skinny jeans, or has body piercings.
While hair, clothing styles, and body piercings are all a matter of preference, some things are non-negotiable, and while we need to remember no one is perfect, being aware of the following attributes (or lack thereof) will help you make a more informed choice before you choose to date someone.
Below are 14 things to consider before dating that cute guy.
1. How is his faith walk? Is he growing in Christ? Is he living out his faith? Is he unashamed of his faith? Does he pray with and for you? Is his faith an important part of his life? Does he “walk the walk and talk the talk”?
2. How does he spend his time? We have become a world obsessed with technology. While that’s not bad in and of itself, if you are contemplating dating someone who has an addiction to video games or is constantly on his phone or social media, you might want to think twice about whether there would be any room in his life for you. As a matter of fact, a name has been given to cell phone addiction: “nomophobia”. According to techjury.net, “66% of the world’s population shows signs of nomophobia.” And gaming and cell phone addiction aren’t the only addictions to be wary of.
And while video games, social media, and time spent on a cell phone are fine in moderation, look for someone who spends his spare time doing productive things.
3. What is his standard for music, books, and movies? What does he allow to fill his mind? What does he allow his eyes to see and his ears to hear? What goes in will come out in his attitude, personality, and the way he treats others.
4.Speaking of how he treats others,how does he treat…
Your family? A guy who wants nothing to do with your family is a guy to avoid. In addition, a guy who won’t allow you to spend time with your family could have possessive and abusive tendencies.
His family? Some people come from dysfunctional homes, and as such, the guy you are considering dating may not be close to his family. That is tough and there are many logistics involved in that. But is your potential boyfriend respectful to his family? Does he care about their wellbeing? You can be estranged and still care about those you are not close to.
Children? It has been said many times that how a guy treats little children and babies is a huge indicator of the type of person he is. Is he hateful, rude, and sees little ones as a burden? Does he believe babies should be aborted because they aren’t worthy of living? Notice how he treats not only your siblings and his siblings, but also children at functions, such as church.
The elderly? Does he view them as precious creations of God or as wasting society’s resources?
Animals? Your potential guy doesn’t have to be a dog or cat lover to be kind to animals. But you don’t want to date someone who mistreats or abuses animals.
5. How does he treat you when you can’t do anything for him? Does he take care of you when you are sick? Is he there for you?
6. How does he handle disagreements? Does he withdraw, get into a raging fight, or blame everything on you? Guaranteed that if you date (and later marry!) anyone for any length of time, you will have disagreements. It’s natural for two people to not see eye-to-eye on every subject. How he handles conflict speaks volumes.
7. How is his work ethic? Is he lazy and unmotivated? Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, a workaholic?
8. Is he loyal? Will he defend your honor?
9. Is he honest? Does he keep his word? Does he do what he says he’ll do? Is he honest when speaking with authorities?
10. Does he have a servant’s heart? There are multiple ways to serve others and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. But is he using his gifting to make the lives of others better?
11. How does he handle your concerns or fears? Lightly? With care?
12. Does he respect you? Or does he coerce, guilt-trip, pressure, or force you to do things that are against your convictions, make you uncomfortable, and/or aren’t safe?
13. Does he show any signs of an abusive temperament? In other words, how does he treat those he is no longer friends with or girls he formerly dated?
As a mom, this frightens me more than I can express. We can’t see all of the warning signs in a potential abuser, but we can be aware that abuse does exist and be on the lookout.
14.How is his overall character and integrity? One of my favorite quotes is that assessing one’s integrity is done by seeing what they do when no one is looking.
Webster’s defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”. Character and integrity are crucial and a huge part of someone’s personality. Does your potential boyfriend stand for what is right?
In our house, we put an emphasis on intentional dating. Not dating just to date, but rather seriously contemplating who to date and whether that person could be a potential long-term prospect. This helps to “weed out” those who could never be potential mates for a variety of reasons, and helps eliminate the emotions, heartbreak, and problems that arise from failed “romantic” relationships.
Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy reading:
We are all leaders. Whether we’re moms, dads, grandparents, older siblings, pastors, Bible study leaders, bosses, supervisors, teachers, coaches, mentors, or political figureheads.
No matter what our role, how can we be Godly leaders?
Seek to serve God in your leadership. When we make the mistake of serving man and being a people-pleaser in our role of leadership, it never ends well. Instead, remember there is only One to whom we must please.
Find a Godly mentor. Find someone who is mature in their faith and who can set an example for what it means to serve the Lord and serve others. Find someone who encourages questions.
Invest in others. As a Godly leader, we need to invest in the lives of those we lead. Find out what matters to them. What their concerns are.
Be different. One of the ways we, as Godly leaders can be “different” is to stand out. Many of us work in an atmosphere that includes those who don’t yet know the Lord. How can we show them we are not like the “world”? How can we set ourselves apart?
Lead by example.
Show grace. Everyone makes mistakes and has regrets. By showing grace to others, we mimic the grace God shows us.
Look for the potential in others. One of the things I admire about my husband, who is a supervisor at his place of employment, is that he looks for the potential in others. If one person might excel at a position they are not yet working in, Lon will encourage them to pursue that position. A Godly leader wants what’s best for others and will expound on their strengths.
Help those whom you lead to accomplish their goals. A Godly leader cares about the goals of others and doesn’t attempt to hinder them.
Don’t take others for granted. Show gratitude and humility.
Be a team player. No matter what leader position we are in, we can strive to work together, rather than against each other. Unfortunately in group settings, whether it be jobs, churches, or schools, we sometimes don’t see our role as that of being one unit with the same goal—to do best the task set before us. Also, we shouldn’t be afraid to get into the trenches and join those we lead. By being a team player, everyone benefits.
Don’t expect those who aren’t Believers to be Godly.
Being a Godly leader can have its challenges. Daily prayer for God’s guidance, His wisdom, and to see others the way He does, can help us to make a difference to those whom we are placed in a position of leadership over.
We live in a crazy world. Inflation is soaring, gas prices, groceries, and property taxes are all increasing. Violence is more prevalent. Things we never had to deal with as children are being thrust upon our own kids. The world is looking darker and darker everyday.
How can we persevere through these challenging times in our nation’s history?
*Decide who and/or what is steering you.Where is your focus? The second we take our eyes off our Savior, we’re prone to succumb to fear, anxiety, worry, and depression over the current situation. If our focus is on the worldly events, suddenly things seem impossible to overcome. Instead, let’s fix our eyes on the author and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Let Jesus steer your life. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5).
*Soldier On. There is a certain challenging part of our family’s bike ride course that I especially love. Our family has nicknamed it “Hairpin Curve.” It’s a sharp curve, then a downhill sprint, followed by a steep uphill climb. My goal is to make it to the top of this steep hill while still in the saddle. Nine times out of ten, I achieve that goal. Heart pounding, quads burning, I keep my focus on what lies in front of me at the top of that hill (a quick break before I decide to tackle the whole thing again!) If I give up, my wheels will spin on the loose gravel, rendering me helpless to push through to the top without climbing off my bike.
Even when times seem bleak, we must soldier on. We can’t give up. Remember that God goes before us and stays with us the entire time. For those of us in Christ, it ends well, even if the “getting there” can be arduous at times.
*Reach out. This is a difficult time for many. Some people are struggling with keeping their jobs and paying the bills. Still others are facing serious health issues such as cancer. Reach out and check on family, friends, the people you know from church, work, and social media. Let them know you care.
*Improvise. When he was little, my brother devised a way to do his chore of hauling fireplace logs to the house. Rather than carry the logs in his arms to the house, he instead built a “rack” for the back of his on his three-wheeled, low to the ground, pedal-powered Big Wheel motorcycle toy. He even figured out a way to do “spin outs” on our driveway (with impressive skid marks) without losing his load. My brother may not have especially enjoyed the chore of hauling logs, but with his improvisation, suddenly it no longer felt like a chore.
Sometimes improvising means making a new budget and sticking to it. Sometimes it means carpooling with others or making less trips to town to save on gas. Other times it means turning off the TV or stepping away from social media for a time to recharge.
*Have gratitude. We can certainly find a million and five things to complain about in times like these. Instead, let’s focus on being grateful. How about making a Gratitude Journal? Everyday, add a few more things you are thankful for. Here are some ideas for starters:
Can you breathe? Do you have someone who cares about you? Do you have a loving spouse? Great kids? Do you have food? Clean water to drink? Are you healthy? Can your eyes behold the beauty of the blooming trees or the falling snow? Do you have a voice that can encourage others? Make a list of all the things, from “small” to big for which you are grateful. It won’t take long to see that the thankfulness outweighs the complaints.
*Intercede for others. We have been given a wonderful opportunity to be able to intercede for others through prayer. Of course, praying for our loved ones and friends is important. But how about even praying for random people? (Any neighborhood prayer walkers among us?)
*Keep your mind and body active. It’s easy to sit around all day and lament the happenings of the world around us. Instead, let’s keep our mind and body active. Put together a puzzle, play board games, do crossword puzzles, and even coloring has made a comeback in recent years.
*Set goals and plans for each day. Keep a list of your goals for each day and cross them off as you tackle them.
*Find the funny. Reminisce with your family or friends (this can be done in person if you live with or near your family, via Skype, phone calls, instant messaging, or texts) of all the funny times you remember. Watch a humorous movie or short video.
Relationships can be tough. God’s Word tells us to love others. To show grace. Extend mercy. But putting it into action can be difficult, if not impossible at times.
What can we do when it’s difficult to love others?
Pray for them. Yes, it may sound cliche, and sometimes we use the term flippantly. But prayer is powerful. God tells us to pray for our enemies, for those who are unkind, and for those we find most arduous to deal with. We’ve all found ourselves in a place where the last thing we want to do is pray for those who have hurt us or those who add a heavy dose of stress to our lives.
But prayer works. We can pray to see the difficult person how God sees them—through His eyes. And, if they don’t yet know Him, we can pray for their Salvation or spiritual progress.
Commit to praying for the unlovable person consistently for thirty days. And then another thirty days, knowing God hears your prayers.
Pray for wisdom in dealing with the person in a Christlike manner. In most cases, there is no way we can do this on our own. But we serve a gracious God who promises us wisdom when we ask for it.
Don’t seek out conflict with this individual. In other words, don’t cause strife.
On that note, sometimes even after attempting to handle an issue with a difficult person in a Biblical manner (Matthew 18:15-17), it is not resolved. In some cases, our best course of action is to keep our distance, to remain respectful when we see the person, but not to seek them out.
Forgive. If someone has wronged us, forgiveness can be the last thing we want to do. In many, if not most cases, forgiveness, especially if the conflict has been especially painful, can only be done with the help of the Holy Spirit. Seek His help to forgive.
Don’t seek revenge, however tempting it may be. God tells us in His Word to not take revenge (Romans 12:19) and not to repay evil with evil.
People aren’t easy to love. We are all sinful and all mistreat others at times. Dealing with relational conflicts can be grueling and stressful. But by leaning on our Lord Jesus Christ and seeking Him, He will provide the guidance we need to deal with the difficult people in our lives.
*Please note that if you are being abused in any way, please seek help immediately.
All we have to do is live in the world for a day and it becomes evident there are joy zappers. We ourselves, other people, and even things that attempt to, while intentionally or inadvertently, steal our happiness seem to lurk around every corner.
Perhaps you recognize some of these joy zappers:
Illness. Ranking towardthe top of joy zappers is illness. According to the National Health Council, “About half of all adults have a chronic condition”. Chronic illness, chronic pain, and chronic disease are tough and can feel unmanageable, frightful, and depressing.
Mean people. Mean people are akin to weeds in a garden of flowers. It can be beyond difficult at times to react in a God-glorifying manner with “weedy” folks.
Complaining. Constant complaining can hinder our joy and make us forget how blessed we are.
Toxic media. Toxic media has taken on a whole new face in recent days. False news, censorship, lies, attacks, and more contribute to our already high stress levels in a world that has appeared to have derailed.
Idols. Idols, or anything we put above God in our lives, can come in many forms and can quickly steal our joy. Place the importance of material items—such as new cars to compete with the neighborsor an unlimited amount of charging on your charge card with no ability to pay the balance due—over everything else and you’ll quickly discover the stress of this common joy zapper.
Trials. Trials are never fun. Whether in the form of illness, relationship issues, money struggles, or when life just doesn’t go right, no one wants to hang out permanently in the struggles of life. I was recently speaking to my mom about one of the trials that has weighed heavily on my heart these past few weeks. “God is definitely growing you,” my mom tenderly told me. And she is right. God does grow us through trials. It is not fun to experience any type of trial, and most of us would like to learn whatever it is God is teaching us sooner rather than later.
Relationship conflict. Is there anything more stressful than relationship conflict?
Gossip. Being on the receiving end of gossip is an instant joy zapper and a painful reminder of how dangerous the tongue can be.
Unrighteous anger and bitterness. Unrighteous anger and bitterness can easily tip the scales against having a joyful life.
Comparison trap, procrastination, perfectionism, people-pleasing, worry, and fear. Comparing ourselves to others, procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing can all take us from happiness to dissatisfaction, discontentment, and a melancholy outlook. Likewise, worry and fear can take something meant to be pleasurable and turn it into something to dread.
Excessive busyness. Excessive busyness not only drags us down, but it’s unhealthy to be too busy. It causes stress and makes it difficult to find peace.
And there are many more that we could add to the list. Some of the items listed above are things others use to steal our joy. Others are things and demands we put on ourselves that steal our joy.
So what can we dowhen joy zappers fly in and attempt to take root in our lives?
Praydiligently and often.Lord, I surrender this joy zapper in my life to you. Please show me what I am to learn from it and grow me to be more like You through it. Help me to trust You more fully through any obstacles I may be facing. While I realize you might not take it completely away, I know You will walk with me through it, and I praise You for that.
Set your mind on things above. In Matthew 14, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. A good reminder to keep our eyes on Him. When we do so, we are held safely in His grasp.
Remember who He is. It is so easy to forget that the One who spoke this very world into existence, who created our innermost being (Psalm 139:13), and who died so we who have put our faith in Him may have eternal life someday, has also overcome the world. He is bigger than anything we find ourselves in the midst of. He can and will give us peace over the most difficult joy zapper.
Be mindful of where you spend your time. One of the biggest traps we can allow ourselves to fall into is spending time with the wrong things (or people!) When we constantly fill our minds with the news, negative social media posts, or angry music we can cause our perception of things to become skewed. Spending time with unhealthy things and people can also cause a shift in our personalities. As I have told my daughters many times, “garbage in = garbage out”. Don’t let the joy zappers of where we spend our time weigh us down.
Spend time in the Word. A better place to spend our time would be to spend it in His Word. Taking time each day, preferably in the morning before you start your day, to get to know Him through Scripture is a surefire anecdote for problems to become smaller.
Grow in the Lord. Are we further in our faithwalk this year than last year? When our growth becomes stagnate, our chances of being thwarted by a joy zapper is greater.
Spend time with godly family and friends. There are few things more energizing than spending time with a sibling in Christ. Godly family and friends can pray for us as we endure the struggles of our joy zappers, hold us accountable in our walk with the Lord and through temptations, and pray for us.
Set reasonable goals. One of the biggest joy zappers is busyness. I find myself guilty often of trying to cram too much into one hour/day/week/month. We weren’t designed to be on stress overload, as we navigate the 400,000,000 items on a to-do list. Instead, set reasonable goals and achieve them in bite-sized chunks.
Spend some time in Creation. An excellent remedy to combat joy zappers is to spend some time in Creation.
Forgive. Unforgiveness can steal our joy quicker than we might realize. And not only can it steal our joy on its own, it also leads to bitterness. Ephesians 4:31-32 has a lot to say about how God thinks we should handle bitterness. He tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And while it may be nearly impossible to forgive someone at times, we need only to remember how much we are forgiven for and what that need for forgiveness did to the Savior when He went to the Cross for us.
Nothing can steal our joy in Christ. It is more than mere happiness. It is a deep abiding knowledge that we are His and that we will spend eternity with Him, no matter what transpires in our lives. No matter what comes our way or threatens to derail us, Jesus is still on the throne.
Summer is on its way. Here, in no particular order, are five fun things to do to celebrate the season.
Plant flowers. Our family decided a few years ago to plant most of our flowers in containers. This is much easier to maintain. Want a fun way to bless others this summer? Plant a container of blooms for a neighbor or for someone who may be unable to plant some themselves.
Play on the swings. When was the last time you sat on a swing, pumped your legs, and pretended to fly through the air as you did as a kid? Bring out the inner child in you—it will create a fun memory for your own kids. Trust me.
Take the family out for ice cream. There’s nothing that says summer like this delicious frozen treat.
Read a good book in a hammock, on the porch, on the beach, or while relaxing in the mountains.
Build a DIY birdbath. Stay tuned in a future post for a super easy idea I’ll share about a DIY birdbath that has been a hit for our resident birds for the past couple of years.
On the online thesaurus, there are over 50 synonyms for “encourage”. Words such as support, inspire, enliven, revitalize, and strengthen are just a few on the lengthy list. It seems a simple thing to, yet why is it often easier for us to discourage someone rather than encourage them?
Make no mistake, our words are powerful. But just how powerful?
There’s a quote that states “Words are powerful. Use them wisely.” They can either build someone up or tear them down.
Below are eight ways we can be encouragers:
Encourage each other in everyday life. Life isn’t easy, especially in our current culture. What we can do is come alongside others, be there for them, and allow them to depend on us.
Celebrate the victories of others with them.
Rally around each other during times of disappointment.
Listen. Really listen.
See the possibilities. Besides being a wife, mom, and author, I’m also a fitness instructor. In addition to other classes, I teach a small-group fitness class for beginners. Much of what I do for this class is one-on-one. Many, if not most of my participants, are struggling with health and/or weight issues, are exercising for the first time, or are returning after a long stint away from the gym. The best thing I can do for them is to be an encourager. Their cheerleader. The one who reminds them that they can achieve their goals and that I am there to help them do so.
Be authentic and sincere.
Be honest and constructive when giving advice. And on that note, give advice only when asked for. Not many people like unsolicited advice.
Find the best in others.
I love what the Bible says in Ephesians 4:29.
May we prayerfully consider how our words affect others, and with God’s help, be encouragers rather than discouragers.
I did an archeological dig today in the “emergency bin” in my SUV. It’s one of those things I rarely (thank goodness!) have had to dig into and, therefore, ancient fossils have accumulated there. Case in point…an old pair of new training underwear and baby wipes. We haven’t needed those in the Zeller household forever! And the old squished roll of toilet paper hidden at the very bottom? Let’s just say I wished I had found that in 2020. I could have become a very rich woman when I sold it on ebay for a cool million!
On a more serious note, it’s always a good idea to have some emergency supplies in your vehicle. Of course, things like jumper cables, a jack, a toolbox, and a fire extinguisher are must-haves. But what about creating a DIY “emergency bin” with these additional items for those times when you might be stranded?
For starters, choose a sturdy plastic bin with a lid. These come in a variety of sizes, and the amount of people in your family will determine how many of some of the items listed below you will need.
Here are 14 suggestions:
First aid kit
A pair or two of hats, gloves, boots, and a warm coat or sweater
Besides a wife, mom, and author, I also am a fitness instructor and am passionate about good health. I’ve been encouraging the participants in my classes to make healthy lifestyle changes that will have results, and wanted to encourage you as well.
Please join me next week for our regularly-scheduled program. Until then, come join me for Penny’s Healthy Living Challenge!
Before I give details, I do need to reiterate two things. First, I’m not a medical professional and cannot give medical advice. Second, please check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise/supplement/eating regime to be sure it is safe for you.
Third, there may be some things on the list you can do and others that, due to limitations, whether time, health, pain, or otherwise, that you are unable to do. No worries! Do what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
A few notes…
Does not have to be consecutive days.
Each item done each day earns one point for that item per day.
One point for each item for each day accomplished so there is potential for 80 points per week based on a five-day plan. Challenge yourself to see how many points you can get in a week!
Penny’s Healthy Living Challenge:
Do at least 30 minutes of cardio
Do at least 30 minutes of weightbearing/weightlifting exercises
Do 25 jumps (i.e., jumping jacks, trampoline, or jumprope)
Do at least 20 situps/curls/or plank
Do 20 pushups
Spend time in God’s Word
No extra sugar in your diet
Do something nice for someone
Get 15 minutes of fresh air
Spend time in prayer
Get some Vitamin D (sunshine or synthetic)
Eat at least three vegetables
Eat at least three fruits
Get at least seven hours of sleep
Keep stress to a minimum
Drink 64 ounces of water
Have at least one belly laugh
Get 10,000 or more steps
Get a hug, give a hug (pets count!)
God gave us amazing bodies. Eyes that can see the beauty of Creation, from a tiny baby to the mountains in the distance. Arms that are capable of giving the best hugs. Legs that carry us daily to where we need to go. We need to take care of what God has blessed us with, and what better time to begin than now?
How are you doing with the challenge? I would love to hear about your progress, so feel free to leave me a comment!