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?

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

Whether you are new to homeschooling or have been at it for a while, it can, at times, seem overwhelming. So overwhelming that it might seem like time to “throw in the towel.” Let me assure you, you are not alone. If they are honest, most, if not all, homeschooling parents have considered the very same thing, even if for the briefest of minutes (or while in an exhausted state of mind).

Let me encourage you to stick with this important task. I assure you it is worth it.

Here are six ways to stick with homeschooling when you are ready to give up.

Surrender your homeschool to the Lord daily. He will give you the grace, the tenacity, and the motivation to do this extremely important task.

Look for a change of pace. We have switched directions many times with both our curriculum and our schedule. Fortunately, there are many choices for curriculum since no two children are exactly the same in personalities or learning styles. There is nothing wrong with switching up the curriculum to one that works for your child. In the same vein, there is nothing wrong with changing up a schedule that isn’t working. The key is to be flexible. After all, that is one of the blessings of homeschooling – we are not all placed in one box, with one style of learning, one schedule, and one set of educational materials.

Share your thoughts. One of the best things about homeschooling is the mentors. Those who have been there, done that, and received the honorary t-shirt. Yes, I’m talking about the moms (and dads!) – the homeschool pioneers – who came before us. While they will tell you that they didn’t do it perfectly, they are a wealth of positive and encouraging advice. Lean on them as well as those who are currently “in the trenches” with you. One word of caution… choose those whom you vent to carefully. You will want to seek out someone who won’t judge, won’t offer solutions without really listening, or who elevates themselves at your struggling expense. On the same note, avoid those who offer unsolicited advice. I once had an older woman “offer” unwelcome advice. Not only was it poor advice, but she had never homeschooled.

Avoid the comparison trap. This is a super easy thing to succumb to and a temptation we need to avoid.

Take a vacation. Maui would be nice, but realistically, I am talking about a vacation from homeschooling. Just a brief one or two days a couple times during the school year to allow both you and your child(ren) a break from the rigors of schooling and a chance to recharge. Do something fun on those days – something that further connects you to your kiddos.

Have a chat with your pupils. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is our ability to think outside the box. We don’t have to teach the same things in the same way to each of our children. Nor do we have to teach the same things in the same way that the public schools do (isn’t that one of the reasons we are homeschooling?!). Have a casual talk with your child. What is their favorite subject? Least favorite? What is something they would like to learn more about? Less about? This works especially well for junior high and high school students. By gauging their interests (which can change over time), you can better choose electives that suit their personalities. I always reiterated to my tweens and teens that some classes are mandated (math, English, science, history), but that there are other classes we have some leeway on and can explore as different elective possibilities.

All this to say, let me encourage you to stick with homeschooling. You can do it! It’s one of the most important jobs you will have and for which you are fully equipped. You have been teaching and training your children since their earliest days, and who loves them more and cares about their future more than you? So hang in there and forge ahead!

Looking for other homeschool posts on this blog? Check these out:

You might be a homeschool mom if…15 clues

outside the box homeschool ideas

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

Kids write the funniest things!

14 things for girls to consider before dating

14 things for girls to consider

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 and 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”?

Romans 12 2

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?

1 Peter 4 10

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?

One thing my daughters and I have discussed often is the high rate of abuse suffered by young women in “romantic” relationships. A horrifying statistic from the website loveisrespect.org states “Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year”. Further, “Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors”. The rise of cyber abuse has contributed to the problem.

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.

C.S. Lewis

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?

Stand even if alone

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:

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

10 ways to help your kids choose good role models

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider.

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

Movie Monday: Chronicle Mysteries – Recovered