conquering the joy zappers of life

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 toward the 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 neighbors or 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 do when joy zappers fly in and attempt to take root in our lives?

Pray diligently 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.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

who are you behind the screen?

for such time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

the importance of living out your faith

7 ways to inspire others

5 ways to be happier

the video camera is always on, part 1

5 things to do this summer

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.

What are some things you plan to do this summer?


Before you go, check out these other posts:

10 ways to encourage others

How to start a Sisters in Christ group

the importance of gratitude

blog post archives

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

Book News/Giveaways

are you an encourager or a discourager?

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.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

10 reminders of God’s enduring love

5 ways to make your child feel loved

10 ways to encourage others

9 ways to jumpstart your homeschool year

lessons from the garden

13 verses to comfort the fearful heart

31 awesome movies for your must-watch list

14 items to include in a DIY car emergency bin

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

Water

Nonperishable snacks

Tissues

A candle-powered heater

Ice scraper

Diapers and wipes (if applicable)

Flashlight with batteries

A roll of toilet paper

Map

Blankets (these are serve a dual purpose for impromptu picnics or when you find yourself at your kids’ soccer games and there are no bleachers)

Whistle

Pocket knife

It’s also critical to go through your bin yearly (rather than wait several years as I did!) to toss expired items, replenish used items, and to make any necessary updates.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

6 suggestions for getting through the rough times in life

the importance of healthy living

how to become an undercover prayer warrior

Movie Monday: Sabina

DECEIVED Cover Reveal

10 reminders of God’s enduring love

tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions

31 songs to encourage you during difficult times

what to stock up on this winter

the importance of healthy living

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!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

11 verses about God’s unfailing love

the importance of aligning our actions with our words

tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions

5 ways to start your day off right

7 inexpensive pieces of exercise equipment to jump start your workout

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

the importance of perseverance

10 ways to encourage others

In a world of struggles and disappointments, pain and setbacks, one of the most important things we can do for others is encourage them. Below are 10 ways to do just that.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “encouragement” as “something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the Bible tells us, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.

What are some simple ways we can encourage others?

In everyday life:

Give genuine praise and encouragement to family and friends. This can come in the form of how much you appreciate them, value them in your life, or just how much you love them. Little notes of encouragement are big hits. For some ideas on how to encourage your kids, see my post 7 Ways to Encourage Your Children (and for additional ways to show your children you love them, join me next week for my post 9 ways to show your kids you love them).

Did you get excellent service at a restaurant? Tell the waiter and the manager. Did someone at local business go above and beyond? Let them know! The lady who signs members in at our local YMCA always has a smile on her face. She is quick to go the extra mile. I recently told her how much we appreciate her, and I also let her boss know. This can also be done by completing comment card or quality-of-service questionnaire available at many businesses.

My daughters are fond of teasing me about the fact that I’ve never met a stranger. But you don’t have to be extroverted to share encouragement. What about letting the janitor/custodian know how appreciative you are that they keep your place of employment/a local business clean? What about telling the clerk at your grocery store you appreciate the hours they put into their job and their patience in dealing with all types of customers?

Encourage a mom. Motherhood is a hard job at times, and what mom doesn’t need a bit of encouragement? A quick word or note letting a mom know she’s doing a good job means a lot. You can even encourage a stranger! What about that mom in the long line at the grocery store with a hungry infant and grouchy toddler? We can discourage by giving a “judgmental” look or we can encourage by asking if we can help unload her groceries onto the conveyor belt or even by a simple sentence, “Oh I remember those days!” and a smile.

Doing motherhood well is not for the faint-hearted. Whether a mom dedicates her life to raising her children at home, works outside the home, or a combination of both, moms need encouragement. For ways on how to encourage moms, see my post Six Ways to Encourage Other Moms.

Encourage a dad. It’s tough to be a dad in today’s culture, where dads are oftentimes viewed with disrespect. Yet, there are many excellent dads doing their best to provide for their families, lead them spiritually, and help their children be the best they can be. Encourage a dad by praising him for his commitment to his wife and children, for the times he goes to work, even when he doesn’t feel like it, and for all the millions of tasks he performs to make the household run more smoothly. A small token of appreciation, like a bag of his favorite chips or a special treat, can go a long way to encouraging him.

Encourage by mail. In my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others, I give ideas on how to Create a Card Ministry. Why not send a card to someone you know is having a difficult time and let them know you are praying for them. This can be done anonymously, or to someone you know.

Sending a card for no reason is especially meaningful in a time when handwritten notes are rare. How about a card detailing a favorite memory with the recipient?

Encourage other women. What about hosting a Girls Night Out? More details are found on my post Sisters in Christ Group.

Encourage on Social Media. Retweet, saving, liking, reposting, and sharing someone’s post is an encouragement. Rather than scrolling past, bless the writer of the post, as well as recipients in your timeline with a “like” or “share”. One of the things I enjoy doing each morning is going through my blog list and “liking” and oftentimes “sharing” blog posts I find especially helpful or entertaining.

Encourage by text. In a world full of busyness, sometimes a supportive text (sometimes for no reason at all!) can be the most encouraging.

Encourage an author. Did you just finish reading a book that you absolutely loved? Don’t be shy about it—spread the word! Post a positive review on Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. (By the way, this means more to authors than you will ever know—trust me on this one!)

Encourage a neighbor. In our fast-paced society, many of us have never met the people who live in our neighborhoods. Why not go on a walk and stop to greet the neighbor mowing his lawn? Or deliver some goodies during the Christmas season? We were so busy this past Christmas that neighborhood treats didn’t get made, so we decided to make New Year’s treats and deliver those around the neighborhood instead.

Each day, we all have a chance to be either an encourager or a discourager.

Which one will you be?


You may enjoy these other blog posts:

15 scriptural reminders of God’s comfort

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

leaving a Godly legacy

how to become an undercover prayer warrior

fantabulous pumpkin muffins recipe

5 ways to be happier

5 ways to start your day off right

5 ways to jumpstart your writing project

9 ways to jumpstart your homeschool year

Homeschooling in the U.S. has exploded in recent months. According to the United States Census Bureau, by fall of 2020, “11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12)…That change represents an increase of 5.6 percentage points and a doubling of U.S. households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year.”

Such a statistic doesn’t surprise me, as even in my small town, the rate of children being homeschooled has increased dramatically. People have chosen to homeschool for a variety of reasons, including religious reasons, more freedom, and situations regarding the pandemic.

Whatever the reason, homeschooling can be a daunting task. Whether you’re new to it or a veteran, there will be days that are challenging and times when you want to give up.

So how can you successfully jumpstart your homeschool year? Here are 9 ways.

Make sure you have a support system. Find a mentor, join a co-op, and join an online group. If you are married, enlist your spouse’s support. Having an extended family who supports your decision is also helpful.

Take it slow. Give yourself and your children permission to wade through the change in schooling with grace. Too often I hear from parents who attempted to homeschool say that it just didn’t work out for them. When I ask how long they were homeschooling, they typically answer with a length of less than a few months. Give it time.

Focus on what matters. If we get so caught up in finishing each textbook, having our children excel in every subject, or making sure they participate in every possible extra-curricular activity, then we have missed the point.

Be organized (or attempt to be). Notice I didn’t say “be perfectly organized”. In order for your homeschool to function, you will need to have some organization. It helps to have a dedicated cupboard for textbooks, science experiments, art supplies, etc. Because homechooling is so versatile, it can happen in an actual homeschooling room, at the kitchen table, or even outside on a nice summer day.

Expound on your kids’ interests. No child is exactly the same when it comes to interests. One of the best things about homeschooling is that you can expound on what your child enjoys. For instance, my oldest daughter loves to write, so I assigned her a “novel in a year” project, which was one of her favorite assignments. She also loved woodworking and built a dresser with her dad (the woodworking teacher!). History was a favorite of hers, so we focused heavily on that subject as well, and graphic arts and an extra emphasis on editing led her to starting her own editing, website-building, and graphic arts business.

My youngest daughter loves science, so collecting bugs, inspecting things beneath the microscope, science experiments, and anything related to science labwork intrigued her. She also loves to fix things and is very mechanical. I used that opportunity to call upon her whenever something broke and turned it into a learning experience. A friend of ours taught her how to quilt, which instilled in her a love for sewing.

Both girls enjoy baking, so making treats for neighbors, youth group, and homeschooling events was something I included on the homeschool syllabus. Both of my girls are athletes, so we spent many an hour riding bikes, joining 5k runs, playing volleyball, badminton, and soccer, going on walks, and hiking in the nearby mountains for P.E. class.

One of the best things about homeschooling is that we can think outside the box and tailor our children’s learning experiences with their interests.

Be creative with teaching techniques. Be open to changing curriculum if one doesn’t work. We changed curriculum many times. (This is why it’s a good idea to find used curriculum for sale, as it can get pricey). Not every child has the same learning style, so passing one curriculum type on to the next child does not always work. An important thing to remember in homeschool is that one size does not fit all.

In addition, one homeschool type will not fit all children’s needs. We personally chose an al a carte approach that includes a variety of textbooks from many different publishers, some online learning from homeschool providers, some co-op classes, and some unschooling techniques as well. Other parents choose to have their children enrolled in homeschool online learning only or one company’s curriculum, such as Abeka, Sonlight, or the Charlotte Mason Method. Still other parents choose strictly the unschooling route.

The key? Choosing what works for your family.

Glean ideas from current and veteran homeschooling families about what worked for them. The nice thing about homeschooling? If one method doesn’t work, there are other methods you can try.

Don’t compare your homeschool, yourself, or your children to others. Just as each parent and child are unique, so is each homeschool. Embrace that.

Breathe.

And most importantly? Give your homeschooling year to the Lord. When we commit our ways to Him, He guides our steps.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

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

you might be a homeschool mom if (15 clues)

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

the video camera is always on, part 3

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

how to survive in an out-of-control world

I recently heard someone say that they’ve experienced the thirty-day trial of 2021 and they’d like a refund.

The world has changed so rapidly in the past year. It is cause for concern, fear, and even grief, as we ponder the effects of those changes not only on ourselves, but also on our children and grandchildren. Our nation has been transformed in ways we don’t recognize and never thought possible – or at least never thought possible -in such a short amount of time. Things are chaotic, tumultuous, and turbulent.

For survivors of 2020, 2021 has started out much the same, and the struggle to put one foot in front of the other and forge ahead can be a challenge.

What can we do when things seem out of control? Here are some suggestions:

Pray often. Prayer is critical, and not a once-a-day event. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 reminds us to “pray without ceasing”. The good news is that God is available to hear those prayers 24/7 without fail.

Immerse yourself in the Bible and hide His Word in your heart. If our Bibles were taken from us tomorrow, would we have enough of it hidden in our hearts? What if we made it a goal to dive deeper into the precious words of Scripture more often and more fully than we ever have?

Church is crucial. Fellowship with other believers is essential. Make both a priority.

When things are stressful and unmanageable, focus on God’s promises. (I will be posting another installment of The Scripture Series on God’s Promises in the coming weeks).

Cherish your family members. Love them well, appreciate them, cling to them, and realize they walk through the same challenges in this topsy-turvy world.

Be selective about which headlines and articles you read. Hibernating, avoiding all happenings in the world around us, or playing ostrich is never a good idea. We need to be aware of what is going on in our world, but not take it to the extreme. Read from sources you know are based on honesty, not on an agenda.

In addition, be vigilant about what you allow into your mind. Not everything you read or listen to is true. More importantly, not everything you read or listen to is pleasing to God. Practice discernment.

Engage, but don’t make it an idol. I am a firm believer that Christians should engage in politics. In a world that, among other things, seeks to attack religious liberties and deems the killing of the pre-born acceptable, we need to stand for the right to worship God and for the value of all life. And we need to elect those who will do the same. If something grieves our Heavenly Father, it should grieve us. Contact your local, state, and federal legislators about issues of concern. Run for office. Pray that God would place godly men and women in positions of authority. Just remember not to allow politics to consume you.

Avoid the lure of constant 24/7 social media. While there is nothing wrong with social media (I will be the first to tell you that I love social media and have accounts on several platforms), the key is not to allow it to become an idol or something that takes you away from the important things of life. Checking it a few times a day is fine. Being tethered to it isn’t.

Turn off the cell phone/computer an hour before bedtime. Finish nightly duties, then spend the remainder of your time before bed reading the Bible. I guarantee you will find peace.

Don’t suffer alone. Spend time talking with a mentor – a spiritually mature person who can pray with and for you and help you navigate the ongoings of this chaotic world with a focus on the Lord.

Spend time listening to godly podcasts. Several people have told me in recent weeks that they are hungrier than ever for godly counsel and Bible-based teaching (and many are not getting that need met). Bible-focused podcasts that put God’s Truth above all else provide encouragement and remind us in Whom we place our faith. Again, practice discernment.

Journal your thoughts, worries, and concerns – then turn them over to the Lord.

Take care of yourself. Do your best to eat healthy foods, get sufficient sleep, and find time to exercise. Go outside and soak up sunshine, even on a chilly day. It will do wonders for your mood.

There is hope. Our lives, while affected greatly by the world around us, are not defined by it. Rather, they are defined by the One who holds the seat of highest honor today, tomorrow, and eternally. May we not only continually and permanently fix our eyes on Jesus, but also rest in our Heavenly Father’s arms where peace reigns.

___________________

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy:

the importance of new beginnings

the importance of perseverance

for such a time as this: finding stability in an unstable world

28 verses for uncertain times

15 verses for strength in challenging times

you might be a homeschooling mom if…

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

Movie Monday: Flying High for the Glory of God

Movie Monday: Unplanned

what to stock up on this winter

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

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

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

My mom told me just the other day that toilet paper in her town (20 miles from a major metro area) had 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.
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Modeling truth and aligning your beliefs with the Word of God is critical. When your children are grown, they will make their own decisions. What they choose is not up to you, but how you give them the tools to make the right choices is.

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

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy:

the importance of voting

14 things for girls to consider before dating

why I’m proud to be an American

6 suggestions for getting through the rough times of life

what’s in a name?