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

tools to help your child succeed in life

Our culture bases success on many things. It may be an advanced education, a sprawling home, a good job, a multitude of friends, nice vehicles, frequent vacations, and the list goes on.

While none of these things are wrong, they’re not what truly makes a person successful.

What if we used a different ruler with which to measure? What if we looked within the heart and focused instead on character, integrity, and honor rather than the appearances of seemingly surface items? What if we viewed success through a different lens than what the world teaches us?

What if we, as parents, pulled the following tools from our parenting toolboxes to help our child succeed in life?

* Help them to develop a strong faith.

*Model for them the importance of a vibrant prayer life

*Instill in them to have gratitude, rather than a heart of discontent.

*Teach them the importance of honesty.

*Teach them to have integrity and to do the right thing, even if no one is watching.

* Teach them to stand up for what is right, even if they stand alone.

*Instill in them the importance of doing everything as if doing it for the Lord.

*Teach them to forgive easily and to not hold grudges.

*Instruct them on how to have humility and the maturity to admit when they are wrong.

*Gently remind them often that the world does not revolve around them, but rather, to count others as more important than themselves.

*Be an example of what it is like to show grace to others, especially when it’s undeserved.

*Train them to have a strong work ethic.

*Model for them the importance of keeping your word.

*Teach them the value of inner beauty.

*Model the importance of overlooking an offense.

*Teach them to love their country and to pray for her on a regular basis

We, as parents, have an important role in modeling for and training our children in the things that truly matter. Someday when we are no longer on this earth, we won’t have taken our college degrees, fancy houses, and expensive vehicles with us. But we will have made an impact on the lives of others when our main focus was living for Jesus.

May we, as parents, make it our goal to instruct our children wisely in the things that matter to Him.


Before you go, check out these other posts!

8 things I want my daughters to know

the video camera is always on part 1

how to survive in an out-of-control world

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

15 verses for strength in challenging times

Movie Monday: Little Women

5 things moms need

15 scriptural reminders of God’s comfort

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

Momlife Part 2 “Adventures of the Tooth Fairy”

We live in a different world these days. Stressors that were never stressors a year ago are now commonplace.

Last week, I shared a silly blog post from the past about my experience driving “the big truck” while my SUV was in the shop. This week, I’m discussing the very real problems of being a tooth fairy.

Because we all need a break from the craziness that has enveloped us at every turn, I decided to reach back into the past and dig into the archives of momlife stories of yesterday. Several years ago when my girls were younger, life seemed easier, more laidback, and the world in which we live was a kinder one.

So, over the next several weeks, I’ll share with you some of those momlife memories – ones I wouldn’t trade for the world and ones, some of which, I’m sure you can identify with. Which begs to ask the question…how can a mom be a successful tooth fairy?


Doodle lost a tooth the other day and was thrilled that it didn’t roll down the heater vent like the last tooth, bringing a whole new meaning to “losing a tooth”. All of this losing teeth stuff reminded me of a few adventures experienced by a certain Tooth Fairy…

Once upon a time there lived a mom who doubled as a tooth fairy. She didn’t have wings and she couldn’t fly, and she was larger than the imagined “teeny-tiny Tinkerbell-like fairy”. She didn’t carry a wand and she didn’t have a stash of rolled coins at her tooth fairy cottage.

But she was a devoted, conscientious, and most-of-the-time reliable sort.

Take, for instance, last week when Doodle lost a tooth and the Tooth Fairy actually slept through the night and forgot to pay a visit. Doodle was disappointed when her tooth was still in the tooth jar and there was no money.

I’m sad to admit, this wasn’t the first time this happened. It first happened to Sunshine and she was sure to tell everyone at school the next day (note: before I homeschooled, my girls attended a small private Christian school during their elementary years) the sad tale of woe of how the Tooth Fairy had forgotten her. She seemed not to be convinced when I told her my lame excuse that the Tooth Fairy was so busy that she ran out of time since so many other children had lost teeth on the same night.

Or that the tooth fairy had taken the night off.

Or that the tooth fairy had lost her own tooth and was preoccupied.

None of these excuses worked. The following evening, she wrote the Tooth Fairy a letter about the incident, complete with an artist’s rendition of what the Tooth Fairy looked like.

Or another adventure…one night, I stumbled through the dark at 2:00 a.m. in a frenzy, thinking there were only four hours left until dawn’s daylight and I (once again) nearly forgot again to trade money for a tooth. I reached groggily into my wallet in hopes that there was actually some money in there. I grabbed out a handful of coins, deposited them into a plastic baggie and made the trade. (Hint to first time Tooth Fairies, if you place the coins in a baggie, it makes less noise and therefore doesn’t arouse suspicion in your child).

In the morning, I found out that if my children keep losing teeth, I’m going to have to take up a fund. Sunshine burst out of her room and exuberantly said, “Mom! Guess what?! The Tooth Fairy brought me $4!”

I gasped. The going rate at our house is $1, yet Sunshine had ended up with $4 and it wasn’t even a “special” tooth. In the dark, I hadn’t been paying attention that the coins I’d withdrawn from my wallet were not pennies, but quarters and dimes.

Last week, between my two kids, they lost three teeth in one week. I was running out of change and was desperate, so I did the only logical thing a Tooth Fairy can do. I zipped out to the garage at midnight and found a pile of pennies on Lon’s workbench. I scooped them up into a plastic baggie and made the trade.

The next morning, Doodle had a strange look on her face. “Mom?” She asked, “Does the Tooth Fairy work with wood?”

“What?” I asked. This for sure topped the Tooth Fairy questions.

“Does the Tooth Fairy work with wood? See, I found this wood chip in the baggie with the money.”

Apparently, a wood chip had slipped in from Lon’s workbench. An added bonus, although not too thrilling for kids.

So what about all those questions about this amazing little fairy? “Mom, what does the Tooth Fairy do with all those teeth?”

“How does she lift the tooth when she’s so small?”

“Why does she want teeth? Isn’t that kind of weird?”

“Where does she get the money?”

“How does she decide how much to give?”

“Why are some teeth worth more than others?”

“What does she look like?”

“Is she married?”

“Is there only one or is there a family of Tooth Fairies?”

And finally, “When I’m a ‘big woman’ (the term my girls use for female adults): can I meet the Tooth Fairy?” Depending on the day and whether or not I’m feeling creative, I can usually answer those questions with some degree of creative success.

Speaking of teeth, Sunshine wins the award for the most interesting ways of losing teeth. She’s pulled out a few herself, let me pull out one, and let Lon pull out one. Those are all typical ways.

Now for the atypical – she lost one tooth when she was wrestling Lon and bounced into his rock hard abs. Her tooth fell out immediately. She yanked three teeth at school of her own, plus yanked out a couple of other classmates’ teeth (with their patient and enduring permission, of course). I see dentistry in her future and a life of ease and luxury for Lon and I in our older years.

She’s lost a few biting into food, and finally, she pulled one at the dentist’s office while awaiting a teeth-cleaning appointment.

Doodle’s only lost four teeth, so I’m sure there will be some adventures of losing teeth in her future too.

Phew! Who knew that being a Tooth Fairy could be so interesting?

But isn’t it great to know that whether we are having a Tooth Fairy Adventure, settling sibling squabbles, or changing our 178th poopy diaper, God is there to help us every step of the way? He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter what.

He gave us the blessing of our children and will equip us to raise them. What an awesome God we serve!

Before you go, check out these other posts:

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

the video camera is always on, part 2

8 things I want my daughters to know

28 verses for uncertain times

you might be a writer if…10 ways to know

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

5 ways to be happier

Momlife, part 1 “The Big Truck”

Life is super serious these days. Worries we never thought we’d ever have overwhelm us as we struggle in the midst of an ever-shifting culture. A culture that’s changing…and not for the better.

We all need a break from the craziness that has enveloped us at every turn. So I decided to reach back into the past and dig into the archives of momlife stories of yesterday. Several years ago when my girls were younger, life seemed easier, more laidback, and the world in which we live was a kinder one.

In those days, things that are commonplace as of the past year were completely unheard of a little over a decade ago. We had a little more freedom, a little less chaos, and a whole lot more compassion for others. People were more honest and toilet paper, lumber, and common sense were plentiful.

So, over the next several weeks, I’ll share with you some of those momlife memories – ones I wouldn’t trade for the world and ones, some of which, I’m sure you can identify with. We’ll start off our new series with a question…

What happens when an innocent mom of two with a serious depth perception problem has to drive the big truck while her SUV is being repaired?

Enjoy…and I hope it not only brings a smile to your face, but gives you a moment of escape in these crazy times.


Once upon a time in a land not so far away…

Our SUV wouldn’t start last week. Praise the Lord it decided to conk in the garage and not on the road somewhere or at the grocery store full of kids and groceries.

So, needless to say, I spent last week driving our big pickup truck.

My husband’s diesel, his pride and joy, became my mode of transportation. Not only is it high off the ground, but it’s also LONG. This isn’t a problem for most, but for me – a person with a severe depth perception problem – this is a concern! Let me give you some background information…

I have hit three vehicles. Yes, three. Now, this might not sound too concerning until I admit that these were PARKED vehicles. Yep, they weren’t moving. I was, but they weren’t.

The first victim was when my husband, Lon, and I were dating. I had a sweet souped up old-fashioned antique 1971 Chevy Malibu that was a classic long before I drove it. He was driving his dad’s little orange Nissan pickup, nicknamed “The Puke”. He parked behind my car when he came over for a visit one evening. I didn’t realize his dad’s truck was behind me.

You can probably see where this going…

I backed up and heard a slight crunch. I didn’t see any damage, so I didn’t think anything about it until later when Lon asked if I knew anything about the green bit of paint on the front of the The Puke.

Oops.

Now, I’m a firm believer in honesty in relationships – especially those with whom you might someday marry.

So I came clean.

All these years later, I’m thankful for the forgiveness they showed me when Lon’s dad’s orange Nissan suddenly became multi-colored.

Secondly, I hit a vehicle at the bank while trying to parallel park in my black Ford T-bird about four years later. I should have known better. I was the one in Drivers Ed in high school who hit the orange cones while practicing to parallel park.

Good grief. Of course, it had to happen during rush hour. Hopefully no one else saw that old station wagon drive itself forward a few inches.

Good news, though. I don’t parallel park anymore. It’s just too difficult when objects are closer than they appear.

And then, the saddest of all. I was backing our Ford T-Bird out of our driveway and didn’t realize my green Malibu was still parked at the curb in front of our house the same year. I backed the T-Bird out and smucked the Malibu. Ouch. Two more dents. Fortunately they were VERY small dents that could be popped out.

So with this background information, you can see my apprehension at driving the big truck. This is why I normally drive a mid-size SUV with a hefty grill guard. This is also why I wear glasses when I drive. And why my girls wear protective gear.

And why it’s important for my passengers to wear seatbelts.

And why, when I’m driving the big truck, vehicles on the road in our small town part ways to allow me to pass peacefully down the middle of the road.

So on my first day of driving the big truck, my children loaded, I rode the elevator up to the driver’s side door and climbed in. As I backed the truck out of the driveway, I didn’t realize a minor detail in the way.

Okay, so it wasn’t that minor. It was a large green garbage can ready and prepared for the trash truck to empty it since it was garbage day.

“What was that noise?” I asked. (It’s hard to hear anything over a diesel).

A gasp arose from the back seat.

“Uh, Mommy, you just ran over the garbage can,” Sunshine, my oldest, told me.

“What?!” I exclaimed.

Surely not. I had checked my mirrors – had done everything right that that old Driver’s Ed instructor had taught me over a decade ago.

But sure enough, I backed up further and saw the proof. The tire tracks on the green garbage can were unmistakable. The worst part of all? It was our neighbor’s garbage can!

Thankfully, our neighbor is a forgiving soul.

And thankfully garbage cans can be replaced.

And doubly thankful for God’s mercy in all things, big and small.

So, there you have it, my experience driving the big truck. A memory forever embedded in my mind and the reason why my husband won’t buy me that big new Chevy truck I’ve been eyeballing at the dealership. The one that I can barely see over the dashboard with an attached step ladder.

But he has offered to buy me a smart car. To which I say emphatically – no thanks!!!!!

Oh, and a teeny disclaimer: the pictured truck at the beginning of this post isn’t our actual truck. Ours has a grill guard. 🙂


Before you go, check out these other posts:

training for the mom olympics

you might be a homeschool mom if…(15 clues)

the great toilet paper caper

kids write the funniest things

what’s in a name?

15 verses for strength in challenging times

10 Bible verses to start off your day

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

Movie Monday: Fearless Faith

training for the mom Olympics

I dashed through high winds and zigzagged between the parked station wagons, Pintos, and VW Bugs, in the pursuit of a runaway cart in the grocery store parking lot.

The cart sped through the crowded parking lot and toward an intersection, attempting to mar the glossy finishes of luxury SUVs and sports cars.

And then I knew what I must do. The situation at hand had left me little choice.

I knelt down and tightened the laces on my Brooks running shoes, thankful I wasn’t wearing flip flops today.

Then, with the speed of a cheetah and the grace of a gazelle, I took off across the parking lot after the shopping cart.

My heart pounded. Would I be fast enough?

Finally, I reached for the shopping cart handle just seconds before what would have been a disastrous situation. I wiped the sweat from my brow. Another rogue cart apprehended in the name of justice!

I returned to our SUV, climbed in, and glanced into the back seat. My kids appeared in shock with mouths wide open. “Mom!” Doodle gasped. “You were amazing. You should be in the Olympics – the Mom Olympics!”

So, as of that day a few years back, I began training for the Mom Olympics. An arduous task for sure. And yes, I need a bit of help on my hurdles. Case in point: when my girls were babies, I had a wooden gate up to keep them out of my home office. One day, in my haste to get out of the room quickly, my foot caught on the top of the gate, and I landed with a thud, the air knocked completely out of me. Never have I been so thankful for these strong bones God blessed me with.

But I was not deterred. In time and with much practice, my hurdling became second nature and I was soon able to leap across toys left strewn on the floor in a single bound (Super Mom anyone?)

I closed my eyes and imagined my future self…

So when the application for the Mom Olympics arrived in the mail, I quickly listed my qualifications, beginning with past accomplishments:

  • Carrying my children everywhere when they were younger (which built strong biceps and triceps)
  • Bending and stooping to pick up the toys and food my children continually threw on the floor from their high chairs when they were babies (which built strong quad muscles)
  • Amazing overall body fitness from pushing my two children in the baby jogger up grueling hills
  • Dexterity and balance in hopping on one foot (in agony) whenever I stepped on a Lego or fossilized Cheerio left on the floor
  • The runaway cart episode, showing my aptitude for speed and finesse and the ability to react in stressful situations.

In the “current accomplishments” category, I proudly listed the highlights of the second phase of my training:

  • Totally built biceps and shoulder muscles from constantly lifting and hauling the gym bag that my kids and I share for the local gym
  • Running the kids everywhere for their activities during their tween and early teen years (built endurance as a long-distance runner)
  • Experience in juggling (juggling multiple tasks as a wife and mom)
  • A friendly competition with my oldest daughter (who is a force to be reckoned with) on the rowing machine
  • A friendly competition with my youngest daughter while running (I came in second place)

With all that practice, it didn’t take much creativity to imagine myself in an Olympic marathon. I would be competing against the fiercest of competitors, knowing that it was just a matter of time before the gold medal graced my neck.

Someday, although I’m not rushing this…I will be a grandma training for the Grandma Olympics. Until then, I am thrilled to have been approved by the Mom Olympics CEO to participate in this year’s worldwide event.


To my fellow moms who have/had a collection of shirts adorned with dried spit-up stains; who’ve won awards for the least amount of sleep while promising their infants a trip to Disneyland if they would just sleep for more than a half hour at a time; who daily risk tender toes stepping on Legos and Cheerios.

To my fellow moms who’ve spent hours upon hours on their knees praying for their kids (and still do!); to those who’ve survived the tumultuous teenage years; and to those who’ve risked their lives teaching their children how to drive.

To stay-at-home-moms, homeschool moms, work-at-home-moms, work-outside-the-home moms, foster care moms…to all moms…Happy Mother’s Day!

Being a mom is truly the best job in the world, and I’m beyond grateful God blessed me with this honor. And I’m grateful for a faithful mom who exemplified the importance of loving her family well, being kind, having a strong work ethic, and loving the Lord with all her heart. Thank you, Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the great toilet paper caper

5 things moms need

leaving a godly legacy

7 ways to encourage your children

13 verses to comfort the weary soul

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

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

the importance of recognizing your influence

the video camera is always on part 3

Last week, I talked about the importance of showing children our faith. I discussed the fact that our kids are watching our faith. And not only are they watching our faith, they are mimicking it. Even at a young age.

In this segment, I’ll expound on two other key issues where our children are always recording: our priorities and what we allow into our minds.

1.Our priorities.

A godly woman’s priorities can easily get disordered, especially in a busy world with so many things vying for our attention. Combine that with the constant struggle to manage our time well and wishing we had more of it. Suddenly, our best-intentioned priorities become out-of-whack. Sometimes those priorities can be as simple as frittering precious time away on our computers or cell phones. Social media, email, mindless browsing on devices, too much TV, unable to say no to every demand, and not staying on track can disintegrate the structure of our priorities.

It’s been said that we will make time for that which is truly important to us. Do our kids see what is truly important to us? That growing closer to God, spending time with our spouse and building a strong marriage (more about marriage in Part 4), and mothering our children are important to us? Or do they see a barrage of other “important” items filling up our days?

Here are some suggestions to keep our priorities in check:

Be there when your kids need you. So many parents today are absent, not only physically, but mentally. Our children face a harsh culture within an even harsher world. They need us to be physically, emotionally, and mentally present for them.

Give them your full attention when they talk. We must combat what I call the “uh-huh response” – nodding and saying “uh-huh” at “appropriate” times when our child is talking to us. There are times when we, as moms, are in the middle of working or another project and aren’t able to drop everything. In our house, if I can’t give one of my kids my full attention, including eye contact and being 100% present, I ask my kids to give me a minute to finish what I’m doing. This helps me to switch gears and be able to fully focus on them, and it teaches them patience.

Give ample time for open discussions. As I mentioned in my post How to Build Close Bonds with Your Kids, sometimes the car is the best place for conversations. The best place, that is, if they aren’t competing with the radio, movies, or other distractions.

Make sure your kids see you spending time with their dad and making that a priority.

Do things together as a family and create family traditions.

Model caring for your home and the duties that come along with that. This will vary depending on which spouse/parent is responsible for which duties in the home or if one is a single parent.

If you homeschool, let your kids see that as a priority.

Spend time in God’s Word.

Take time to rest and refresh. It’s important that our kids see that we are not superhuman. We need down time. For us, after church on Sundays is our “veg” day. We don’t spend time on any cell phones or devices. Instead, we relax, read, play games, or go on a bike ride as a family.


2. What we allow into our minds.

What do we allow to fill our mind? What do we allow our eyes to see and our ears to hear? Do we tell our kids that they shouldn’t listen to certain music artists, watch certain movies, or read certain books? But then we do it ourselves? Yes, while we are adults and can listen to/watch/read more mature items than our children can, it’s important to set a good example.

We are told in Philippians 4:8 what types of things to focus on and allow into our minds.

“But, Mom, you watch those type of shows. But, Dad, you play those violent video games. Why can’t I?”

Guarding our own eyes and ears is of utmost importance.

What goes in will come out in our attitude, personality, and the way we treat others. Let’s be careful what we take in – because our children will see what comes out.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on, part 1

the video camera is always on, part 2

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

8 things I want my daughters to know

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

15 scriptural reminders of God’s comfort

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

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

Movie Monday: Beautifully Broken

8 things I want my daughters to know

As the mother of two daughters, there seems to be such a short time in which to teach them all the things they will need to know by the time they reach adulthood. Will I succeed in teaching them everything? No. But I can focus on teaching them these important truths.

mom and daughter

Focus on the things that are eternal. Material items, popularity, sports, homework, stress…these are things that will waste away. It is so easy to get caught up in the stresses of life – and there are many. But I hope you will remember that the only things that truly matter are those things that are eternal. Faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal. Sharing about Him to our loved ones and friends can plant the seeds for their eternal life.

Isaiah 40 8

God’s love is unconditional. Ask just about anyone and they will tell you they have experienced a time when someone stopped liking/loving them because of something they did or said. In a world where love is fickle, God’s love is unconditional and never changes. Nothing you can do can make Him love you any more than He already does. And nothing you can do can make Him love you any less.

Romans 8 38-39

Jesus understands. He’s been there. Jesus knows and cares for every detail of our lives. He, too, has had a friend betray him. He has been on the receiving end of lies, has experienced loneliness, and has been tempted. But no matter who lets you down, there is One who never will. He promises NEVER to leave us nor forsake us.

Hebrews 13 5

Where to find your value and self worth. It is so easy to attempt to find your self worth in others. That friend. That boyfriend. Your husband. Your parent. But your self worth comes only from One. If we garner our value from another human being, we will always be disappointed.

In our looks-obsessed culture, we could tend to think our value comes from our hairstyle, clothes, or whether our figure matches that on the front of a magazine. But our value does not come from people or from any of those things. Our value and our beauty comes from within. I have known far to too many women (and men!) who appear attractive on the outside, but are far from attractive on the inside. I hope that you will seek to be the girl God made you to be – one who has the love of Jesus within and who seeks to share it with others by the way she lives.

Proverbs 31 30

Speaking of value, do you know how valuable you are to our Lord? He loves you so, so much. Enough to give His very life for you.

The value of prayer. How often do we say, “Well, the only thing we can do now is pray.” The only thing? How about the most important thing and the thing that should top our list? Prayer is powerful. It is effective. And it’s our way of communicating with the One who created us and wants a relationship with us. When times get tough – and they will – remember that prayer is your most important tool.

James 5 16

God’s Word never changes. In any given day, especially in our quick-as-the-blink-of-an-eye culture, things change. Technology, the weather, fashion, styles, etc. But God’s Word is steadfast and never changes. We, as a culture, can try all we want to make God’s Word squeeze into our man-made box, but it will be futile. We should instead, with the help of the Holy Spirit, live as He commands by learning and living by the precious and timeless words of Scripture. The Bible is the only Truth, and is by what we need to measure everything else.

Give to God the unimportant things in your life, the important things in your life, and everything in between. Your future plans? Give it to the Lord. Your future husband? Give it to God. Surrender your life to Him and allow Him to use you for His glory. And He will.

Jeremiah 29 11

Aim to please only One. Live your life to please the One who matters. And everything else will fall into place.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

14 things for girls to consider before dating

scriptural antidotes for fear

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

7 ways to encourage your children

Movie Monday: Little Women

leaving a godly legacy

looking to homeschool? here are 7 things to consider

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?

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

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?