the top 10 blog posts of 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Things Christmas: Favorite Movies of the Season

What’s the Christmas season without snuggling under a blanket in your favorite recliner and munching on popcorn while watching your favorite Christmas movie? Add a steaming cup of hot chocolate with puffy marshmallows and a peppermint stick, and you have the perfect setup.

Here, in no particular order, are my picks for favorite movies to enjoy not only for the Christmas season, but all year round.


The Nativity Story
Beautifully produced, realistic, and touching, The Nativity Story reminds us of what Christmas is all about.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
It just doesn’t get any better than timeless Charlie Brown classics! Another one we watch every year, A Charlie Brown Christmas is, for the first time, no longer available on network television. But thankfully it is available for purchase and streaming.

The Christmas Cure
Love this family-oriented story with plenty of humor, love, and some dramatic moments. You can find my full review here.

The Christmas Card
Sweet romance movies just really doesn’t get any better than this. Check out my full synopsis and movie review here.

Christmas Angel
As always, Della Reese provides a command performance in this delightful story of friendship. Add a touch of romance between characters played by phenomenal actors Kevin Sorbo and Terri Polo and you’ve got a must-watch for the entire family.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
A touching must-see movie about how reaching out to others can make a difference. For my full movie review, go here.

Wish for Christmas
When a high school girls makes a wish, she has no idea that it’s going to change everything – and not for the better. A mix of humor and drama, this also includes a great lesson of putting others before ourselves and a great one to watch with teens.

Christmas Oranges
A wonderful story for young and old viewers alike. For my full movie review, go here.

Broadcasting Christmas
A fun story about how competition can lead to love.

Silver Bells
A story with a great lesson about the true meaning of Christmas. For my full movie review, go here.

Silver Bells
One of my absolute favorite Hallmark Hall of Fame Movies, Silver Bells is a classic true love story about second chances.

A Dog Named Christmas
A heartwarming movie for all, but especially those who love dogs.

Christmas With Tucker
Another heartwarming movie highlighting family bonds and a special dog.

The Angel Doll
A little girl with polio and a caring big brother set on making his sister’s Christmas special.

Dashing Through the Snow
Looking for a relaxing evening with a romantic comedy? This one is a must-watch.

Switched for Christmas
When two sisters who are completely opposite with completely opposite goals in their lives switch things up for Christmas, what could possibly go wrong? For my full review, go here.

The Christmas Ornament
A beautiful love story about second chances.

Once Upon a Christmas Miracle
A heartwarming movie based on a true story.


For more family movies, please check out my extensive Mom-Approved Movies Listing on this blog.

Merry Christmas!


Before you go, check out these other posts:

All Things Christmas: Favorite Songs of the Season

thankful for the small things

13 verses to comfort the fearful heart

8 things I want my daughters to know

the importance of avoiding false teaching

the importance of avoiding the gossip trap

conquering the joy zappers of life

it’s release day!

Movie Monday: Play the Flute

When Brandon is hired as a youth pastor, he never realizes the challenge before him. His heart is set on leading teens to the Lord, but he is instead faced with an uphill battle that he can’t win, barring the Lord’s intervention.

It’s difficult for Brandon and his wife not to become discouraged as they seek to make an eternal difference in the lives of the teens. When Brandon’s friend from seminary, a fellow youth pastor, remarks that the number of kids in his youth group has grown exponentially, Brandon reminds himself that it’s not about numbers. Not about constant outings. It’s about leading teens to the Lord and helping them grow in their faith.

There are several talking point questions and some cautions throughout the movie, although there is nothing objectionable. I highly recommend you watch this movie with your kids/grandkids.

Talking point questions:

*Why attend a youth group?

*Why is knowing/memorizing Scripture important?

*What is wrong with cheating?

*How should we treat those with disabilities?

*Why is it important to exercise patience with others, especially those who are struggling?

*Why is it important to respect authority?

*Why is lying wrong?

*Why is it important to stand for what is right, even if you stand alone?

*Can you identify with any of the teens in the movie? Why or why not?

Cautions:

*Mention of death of a main character

*Several instances of disrespectful teens to their parents, a boss, and the youth pastor and his wife

*Couple of instances of stealing

*An instance of lying that causes extreme consequences

This movie resonated with me, both as a mother and as one who once attended a youth group that had no real “meat”, but only sought to provide fun outings for its members. While I have fond memories of those days in my youth group watching movies, attending all-night skate parties, and playing dozens of volleyball games, I wish I’d had the privilege of attending a group that put the Gospel above all else and sought to disciple its members. There is nothing wrong with fun activities and socializing, but when its the main (and only!) focus, we’ve missed the real reason: the critical importance of planting seeds that will last for eternity.

Play the Flute is suitable for the entire family, although recommended for tweens and older, as those who are younger will not understand the scope and intention of the movie. It is entertaining, engaging, realistic, and a sad commentary of the apathetic attitude so prevalent in many of today’s youth groups.

I give Play the Flute a five out of five stars. It’s not only a must-see movie for family night, but an excellent movie for any tween, teen, or adult.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

Movie Monday: Fearless Faith

31 awesome movies for your must-watch list

Mom-Approved Movies Listing

All things Christmas: Favorite Movies of the Season

how to survive in an out-of-control world

10 Bible verses to start off your day

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

training for the Mom Olympics

31 awesome movies for your must-watch list

As someone who is on a quest to find wholesome and enjoyable movies, I’m asked quite often about movies I would suggest for families, teens, youth groups, and personal viewing.

It can be a challenge to find movies today without the constant violence, sexual content, and foul language…but it can be done. As a Christian, I take very seriously the privilege of recommending movies on my blog that would be suitable for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Below are 31 movies in no particular order, some older classics, and some much newer, that are excellent additions to any watch-list. For a complete listing of other movies, please go to my Mom-Approved Movie Listings page.


Overcomer

The Redemption of Henry Myers

Wish for Christmas

Mom’s Night Out

Indivisible (12+; read my review here)

The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (Hallmark; 13+)

Beyond the Mask

Where Love Found Me (13+; read my review here)

Priceless (12+)

End of the Spear (13+)

Do You Believe (13+)

Clancy (12+)

God’s Not Dead I

God’s Not Dead II

God’s Not Dead III

The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

Fearless Faith (12+; read my review here)

Prescription for Love

The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005; 12+)

Hoovey

Christopher Robin (2018; see my review here)

Christmas Angel

Run the Race

Duma (read my review here)

Timeless Love

Courageous (12+)

The Lost Medallion (read my review here)

Miss Potter (read my review here)

The Lost Valentine (Hallmark)

Follow the Stars Home (Hallmark)

Legal Action


Before you go, check out these other posts:

9 movie series sure to be a hit for your next family night

8 things I want my daughters to know

how to build close bonds with your kids

the great prune escapade

thankful for the small things

14 things for girls to consider before dating

28 verses for uncertain times

Movie Monday: Fearless Faith

I’m always on the lookout for family friendly movies. If they have a great message, all the better. Such is the case with the movie Fearless Faith.

Fearless Faith gives an inside look at what our men and women in blue (and those who love them) face each day. Shep (Ben Davies) and Colton (Jason Burkey) are deputies whose daily agenda often includes drug users, domestic violence calls, hostage situations, and even murders. Long days and stressful situation are the norm. Shep is an unbeliever and Colton deserted his faith after his best friend and police partner was killed in the line of duty.

When they save the life of a pastor’s wife, Michael (Ben Graham) volunteers as a chaplain for the sheriff’s department. Can he help Colton to see that while Colton may have turned his back on God that God never left Colton’s side?

There are some instances of comedic relief, namely in the form of a rookie on the force who is assigned to Shep.

Talking points:

There are some excellent themes to discuss with teens in this movie.

*The importance of faith is paramount in Fearless Faith and is depicted in an honoring, realistic, and non-preachy way. This movie reminds us that God is there for us, even in the darkest of times.

*The value of life and why it’s important to live each day to the fullest is shown, as is the value of strong family ties.

*Colton has a wife and a son and makes his family a priority. Together, he and his wife are an example of a strong marriage and family.

*The dangers of drug use are shown in a frightening, although realistic manner. This includes not only meth and other illegal drugs, but also the dangers of too much alcohol.

*The importance of respect for our men and women in blue is shown.

*The parallel between someone in the movie laying down their life for someone and what Jesus did for us on the Cross is a powerful reminder of the Gospel.

Cautions:

There is nothing objectionable in this film, although it is not suitable for those under 13 years old (and should be watched with a parent).

*A couple of depictions of the aftermath of drug use are shown (including an instance of an overdose), and an instance of “shooting up” is shown.

*The aftermath of a couple of murders is seen, but nothing gory is shown in either circumstance. The aftermath of an assault with a resulting head injury is shown.

*There are a couple instances of death.

Fearless Faith is a gem of a movie with excellent production and acting and a good message. I rate it a five out of five stars. So if you are looking for a movie with action, drama, and faith, Fearless Faith fits the bill. Just be sure to have a box of tissues on hand.

Before you go, check out these other posts:

Movie Monday: Little Women 2019

8 things I want my daughters to know

28 verses for uncertain times

Movie Monday: God Bless the Broken Road

the importance of living out your faith

the importance of new beginnings

how to survive in an out-of-control world

10 awesome websites for writers

21 awesome family movies

Movie Monday: Little Women (2019)

Little Women has had several movie adaptions made. The one that sticks in my mind the most is the adaptation from 1994, which starred Winona Ryder, Kirstin Dunst, and Susan Sarandon. I’ve always loved this movie for many reasons: the importance of family, the love between sisters, and because I’m a writer myself, Jo’s dream of being published.

I recently viewed the adaptation from 2019, which stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, and Laura Dern.

This particular version goes back and forth between the present and the past, mainly through Jo’s eyes. It contains the same characters as the original book and screenplay – the feisty and fiery writer wannabe, Jo; the calm and gentle actress, Meg; the fashionable and bratty Amy; the sweet and gracious Beth; and the fun-loving and dashing Laurie.

Talking Points

There are some excellent themes families can discuss with tweens and teens. The movie highlights contentment several times throughout, including the March family not having much food to eat and Meg’s marriage to a hardworking, but poor, man. Generosity is highlighted and seen especially in Marmee’s and Beth’s tender care for those less fortunate. Self-sacrifice is seen when Marmee suggests that her girls donate their breakfast to a starving family nearby. At first reluctant, the girls soon see the graciousness in Marmee’s suggestion. There is also the theme of forgiveness and the importance of Ephesians 4:26 “…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” The theme of family is woven throughout and it is clear that the March family is close and cares deeply for each other, even if they don’t always get along.

Concerns

There are only a few concerns in this version: namely, an unfortunate use of the Lord’s name in vain uttered once and there is an instance of Jo sneaking alcohol and Laurie being drunk at a festivity. Laurie’s rebellious nature surges to the forefront after his rejection from Jo.

As was the 1994 version, this adaptation is also suitable for the entire family, although those under nine will likely not be interested in the entire movie. If you are looking for an enjoyable movie filled with drama, some humor, and a bit of romance, Little Women is just the ticket. I highly recommend it and give it 4 1/2 stars out of five. For more movie suggestions for the family please see my Mom Approved Movies Listing.

Before you go, check out these other posts:

Movie Monday: The Legend of Five Mile Cave

All things Christmas: Favorite Movies of the Season

Movie Monday: God Bless the Broken Road

Movie Monday: Hailey Dean Mysteries 3-film Collection

21 awesome family movies you may never have heard of

9 recently-released family movies for your next family night

9 movie series sure to be a hit on your next family night

Movie Monday: Chronicle Mysteries – Recovered

movie monday chronicle mysteries

If you love suspense movies, Recovered, the first movie in the new collection of Chronicle Mysteries series, is just the ticket. Set in small town Pennsylvania, Alex McPherson (played by Alison Sweeney) makes it her goal to solve a cold case while keeping the audience of her well-followed podcast informed of each development.

No one knows what happened to Alex’s friend, Gina, after a car accident on a fateful night 20 years ago. Can Alex solve find the missing pieces to the puzzle? Why does someone not want the truth to be found?

Alex uses The Harrington Chronicle, a newspaper owned by her uncle, as her landing spot where she conducts research for her project. There, she meets the leading man, Drew Godfrey (played by Benjamin Ayres).

Those who are accustomed to clean suspense movies (Sue Thomas, F.B. Eye, Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, and Garage Sale Mysteries to name a few) will not be disappointed with this newest series starring Alison Sweeney.  For those of you movie buffs, you may recall that she also starred in the Murder, She Baked mystery series with leading man, Cameron Mathison.

Recovered is an enjoyable movie with twists and turns, adventure, humor, and, of course, a bit of romance. It’s perfect for a family night movie and contains nothing objectionable; however young viewers may be frightened by the car wreck scene (nothing graphic) and a duel with the bad guys.

I give Recovered a five out of five stars for those 10 and up. I can’t wait to watch the second installment!

 

 

Other posts on this blog that you may enjoy:

Movie Monday: Beautifully Broken

Mom-Approved Movies Listing

Movie Monday: God Bless the Broken Road

Movie Monday: Free Burma Rangers

proud to be an American

Movie Monday: The Legend of 5 Mile Cave

Movie Monday The Legend of 5 Mile Cave (2)

It’s the year 1929, and Tommy and his mom are struggling to keep the family farm from foreclosure. One bright spot in Tommy’s life is his passion for reading adventure stories, such as the one about a stagecoach robber named Shooter Green, who hid $200,000 in stolen gold.

legend of 5 mile cave.jpg

Flashback to the late 1800s and Shooter Green has become somewhat of an icon in Arizona. A sharpshooter, he earns his money by spectator bets on whether or not he can hit the target.  That is until the day he falls in love and everything changes. To support the love of his life, he takes on a job protecting a stagecoach carrying a large amount of cash.

The Legend of 5 Mile Cave is a movie with some drama, a bit of romance, and a whole lot of adventure packed into an enjoyable flick for the entire family. It alternates smoothly between Tommy’s life and Shooter Green’s in two different times. Their lives soon intersect when a man visits Tommy’s farm looking to board and help out with chores.

This is a clean wholesome movie with nothing objectionable (although the very young may get frightened when a man is shot, but nothing is shown other than him falling off his horse and hitting his head on a rock. Two other men are also shot, but nothing is shown). It is truly a western with bad guys and good guys; with gunslingers and surprise endings. It’s one of those movies that is a delight to watch from the beginning scene to the end when the credits roll.

I give The Legend of 5 Mile Creek a five out of five stars and highly recommend it for viewers ages seven and up.

 

Movie Monday: Run the Race

Movie Monday Run the Race.png

Twin brothers, Zach and David, decide to do whatever it takes to leave their small, podunk town after graduation. Working together, they figure that if Zach can just get a scout from Florida to notice him during a high school football game, that will be their ticket out of town.

What both Zach and David don’t anticipate is an injury that sidelines Zach.

What will become of their dream to leave and Zach’s dream to play football for the Florida Gators?

The boys haven’t had an easy life as of late. Having lost their mom to cancer a few years prior, their alcoholic dad has all but abandoned them. The bright spot in their lives is Nanny, their godmother, who is not only there for them, but also seeks to help them grow in their faith.

This movie, produced by Tim Tebow and his brother, Robby, is a heartfelt one with some humor, a bit of romance, and some difficult issues the characters must tackle. Faith is an important component to the story, and David’s and Nanny’s faith shines brightly in what is otherwise a difficult time for two boys given a hard shake in life. It is so much more than another sports movie…it features love, forgiveness, redemption, and hope.

There is nothing objectionable in the movie, although there is a scene with some underage drinking (an excellent opening for a chat with kids after family night concludes). Difficult issues include grief, loss, being unequally yoked, bitterness, anger, and some bad choices. It is well-made, features strong acting, and has an even stronger message that will leave you thinking about the movie long after its conclusion.

I’m happy to recommend Run the Race and give it five out of five stars.

 

 

Movie Monday: The Mask Murder

the mask murder movie monday

A who-dunnit with just enough twists and turns to throw off the viewer…

In The Mask Murder, one of the many in the Garage Sale Mystery movie series, Jenn finds a dead body in a storage locker. How did she get there, who killed her, and why is there a plaster mask that resembles the victim? Could it be clue that leads to the killer? Is Jennifer’s life in danger as she closes in on solving this mystery?

Meanwhile, Hannah learns a lesson about what’s really important when her dad helps her with a college building project constructing tiny houses for homeless people.

Hallmark does a remarkable job with The Garage Sale Mystery series. While they are suspenseful and include a variety of potential suspects in each episode, the series never delves into gratuitous violence or other unwholesome aspects. That being said, this and other episodes are for teens and older due to the storyline and content.

garage sale mysteryOne of my favorite things about this series is that it depicts a family of four with a husband and wife who love each other. Not another series with hateful banter, disrespectful children, or a dumbing down of the dad. The children (one who is a teen and the other who is a college student) both have their own lives, yet are an active (and close) part of the family unit.

 

One of the things I enjoy most about reviewing movies is finding ones that are safe for the family, void of language, sexuality, violence, and gore. The Garage Sale Mystery episodes fill the bill for that criteria.

A side note, but one I feel is important to mention is the recent “news” regarding actress Lori Loughlin (Jenn in the Garage Sale series). I’m saddened that due to her alleged choices, the series won’t continue as is. She did an excellent job, as did the others actors and actresses. My hope is that she would own up to what she allegedly did, apologize, and do her best to make amends. It would be an excellent example of redemption.