Posted in devotionals, family/marriage, motherhood

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

Posted in family/marriage, for the family, Growing in the Lord, motherhood

7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

7 ways to encourage your children

Everyday, we can make the choice to encourage or to discourage. To build up or to tear down. To make a positive difference or to make a negative difference.

There’s no one more important than our children when it comes to choosing whom to encourage.

The word encourage in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as to inspire with courage or confidence; to promote, foster.

So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children? Below are seven suggestions…

Encourage their character.  “A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.”*

As parents, are we helping our children to develop good character? Are we encouraging them to make good choices? Our kids will be, and are faced, with multiple decisions each day. Helping them to understand why good choices are important and equipping them with the knowledge and practice to make good choices is paramount.

One of the things we do in our home is to discuss with our children what they would do if faced with  a particularly difficult situation.  What would they do if they were asked to do something they knew was wrong?

C.S. Lewis gave the perfect definition of integrity. He said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”C.S. LewisMy prayer is that my children will have that kind of integrity.


Picture 095Encourage their dreams. I love the dreams of little children! My youngest once asked for a pet mongoose. I could have easily told her that there was no way we could have a mongoose and for her to be more practical. However, I chose not to. Instead, I encouraged her dream and we chatted about how fun it would be to actually have a pet mongoose (especially since they eat snakes!), and the tricks we would teach him.

Encourage your children to dream at every age and every stage of their lives.

Encourage their future. I pray regularly for our children’s futures, both during family prayer time and during my own quiet times with the Lord.  I have told my children that it’s exciting to see what God has planned for their lives. We often discuss Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Encourage their compassion. Compassion is one of the most important things we can teach our children. One thing we have done is to instill in our children the importance of serving others. For some ideas on how to instill compassion and servanthood in your children, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. 77 ways

Not only should we encourage compassion for others outside the home, but we should especially encourage compassion within our own families. One of the ways that we do this is to regularly pray for each other and to express our prayer needs daily to one another.


Encourage their imagination. As a writer, I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a creative imagination.  There are several ways I have encouraged my children’s imaginations. For one, I have always read to them. Reading is so important and can take us on adventures we would never otherwise take. When my children were old enough to begin reading themselves, I encouraged them to check out as many books as they wanted at the local library and to even have a “reading marathon” over the summer months. Reading is excellent for the imagination!

Several times, we have spread a blanket in the backyard and gazed up at the clouds. We take turns imagining what animals the clouds look like and which could we would choose if we could lounge on any cloud. The white puffy clouds always win!

My oldest daughter has a knack for art. As such, I asked if she would illustrate a story I wrote. She was delighted and it was wonderful to see her own imagination shining through in her art. I combined the story and her illustrations and asked the local office supply store to bound the pages together. We now have our own special book – not only a keepsake, but also a delightful practice in encouraging the imagination of a budding artist!

325381_piggy-back-rideEncourage their friendships. We talk often about friendships in our home and about the kind of friendships that are important. The Bible has much to say about friendships and what type of friends to choose. For example, Proverbs 16:28 talks of why being dishonest and being one who gossips separates close friends.  Proverbs 18:24 states the importance of a friend who sticks closer than a brother (ESV).  John 15:13 is a profound statement of friendship: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In our home, we have talked frequently about three different types of friends: gold friends who are there for you through the good times and bad; silver friends who are fun to be with, but you can’t always count on them; and bronze friends who are more like an acquaintance because they aren’t “true” friends.

We also discuss how good choices for friends is critical because of the amount of influence friends have on each other.

Encourage your children to be the kind of  friend that would honor God.

Most importantly, encourage their walk with God.
Are you children growing in their walk with the Lord? Have they accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior? The most important thing we can do is encourage our children to have a close relationship with Jesus. After all, that’s the only thing that will last for eternity.

3 John 1 4 a.png





*Quote taken from

Posted in family/marriage, Growing in the Lord, motherhood

6 Ways to Encourage Other Moms

mom13Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love ~Mildred B. Vermont

Motherhood has been said to be the best, yet sometimes hardest job in the world. And I agree. So how can we come alongside other moms and encourage them in this job?

Here are six ways to make a difference in your mom-friend’s life:

Schedule mom time. Whether one-on-one or in a group, plan some mom-time. It can be as simple as meeting at the playground, taking the kids for ice cream while the moms chat, or spending some time at the public pool. What a nice break to chat with and catch up on all the happenings (we moms benefit from playdates too!) Here are some great ideas for arranging a girl’s night out for a group of your mom friends.

Offer to babysit. Date nights can be few and far between, especially when children are babies and toddlers. Present a coupon to your friend offering to babysit her kiddos while she and her husband re-connect. What an awesome gift for your mom-friend and her marriage!


Be a listening ear. Recently, through tears, I spoke to a fellow mom about something close to my heart. I was grateful for the time she gave me and the down-to-earth suggestions she offered to me with unparalleled grace. Ask a mom-friend how things are going, take the time to listen – really listen without judgment – and to be her sounding board. Sometimes we moms carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. To have a trusted friend with whom to share those burdens is priceless.

Offer to pray. What a powerful thing prayer is! Ask your mom-friend what her specific prayer needs are and then dedicate to praying for those needs. Sometimes telling someone we’ll pray for them can sound so cliche and can often be forgotten in the midst of our busy days. Remedy this by not only truly praying for your friend each day, but also praying with her whenever you’re chatting on the phone.

Accept her as she is. For some reason, it seems as though mothers often receive the brunt of the criticism and are held to higher judgment. Why do we moms judge each other so harshly? I’ve seen moms judge other moms regarding choices and number of activities (or lack thereof) of another mom’s children; judgment about the way other moms are raising their children; the differences in priorities in families and what they choose to allow or not allow their children to participate in; or even how many sugary snacks fellow moms allow their children to eat in a week.

Moms, this should not be so! Instead, we need to come alongside fellow moms and accept each other the way God made us. Not to say we can’t offer suggestions when warranted (or asked for!) but unsolicited and unkind advice is never appreciated.

Sadly, there also seems to be so much rivalry between moms. Case in point: stay at home moms vs. work-outside-the-home-moms; homeschool moms vs. those who send their children to public school; moms who feed their kids organic health foods vs. the macaroni and cheese moms; sports-minded moms vs. the musical moms; jeans and t-shirts moms vs. business attire moms, married moms vs. single moms; and the list goes on. Put a group of women in a room and this becomes a sad reality as we size each other up in ways we should never do.

Commit to accepting your mom-friend as she is. Be her biggest fan and her most trusted confidante.


Send an encouraging note. What about mailing a thoughtful note to your mom-friend telling her she’s doing a great job and how much you value her friendship? Such a gesture is sure to make her day.

Never more in our lives will we need close friends than as we journey through motherhood. And moms are some of the most awesome and important friendships God will ever bless us with.

How do you encourage your mom-friends?



Posted in devotionals, Growing in the Lord, Humor posts

How to Train a Deer

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

The other day as my daughters and I were driving home, we came across a herd of deer in a field by the side of the road.  “I wish I had a pet deer,” said my youngest daughter, Doodle.

“Deer can’t be pets,” muttered my oldest, Sunshine, who is perhaps one of the most realistic and literal children I know.

Doodle brushed Sunshine’s comment aside, and I watched in the rearview mirror as her face lit up with excitement. “If I had a pet deer, I would do two things.”

“And what would those be?” I asked, knowing Doodle possessed the same overactive imagination as someone else we know.

little deer

“Well, first, I would train the pet deer not to poop in our yard.”

“That would sure be nice,” I agreed.

“You can’t potty-train a deer,” Sunshine muttered, acting far older than her years.

Ignoring her literal sister’s comment once again, Doodle continued. “And you know what else I would do, Mom?” she asked.

“What’s that?”

“I would train the deer so I could ride it when I go places!”

“That would be a fine idea,” I agreed. “With gas prices as they are, that would really help out the family budget.” I could see in the rear-view mirror that Doodle had it all planned out.

“I just need a saddle,” Doodle quipped.

I love the imaginations of little children and how their minds are filled with creativity, dreams, and possibilities.

Such a thought brought to mind the words of Jesus in Luke 18:27 “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Our family was discussing this morning during devotions the blessings God has bestowed on us throughout our lives. That we have each other; that we have shelter, food, and clothing,  just to name a few.

That we can see the sunrise, hear the birds sing, and feel the soft fur of a fluffy puppy; and that He has healed us so many times from illness and protected us from disease.


And of course, the most humbling of all, that He gave us the precious gift of His Son so we might have eternal life.

Yes, so many impossibilities through our human weakness, but so many possibilities with God!

Posted in family/marriage

what do you love most about your mom?

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

The biggest blessing God has given me is the blessing of being a mom! I am honored and humbled that God allowed me to be a mom and I strive to raise my children for Him.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of being a mom!

I am also blessed to have a wonderful mom. One of the things I love most about my own mom is that she has always worked hard to care for her family and we always knew she loved us by her actions and her words. Thoughtful and compassionate, she taught us to put others first by modeling that herself.

My mom and dad holding me when I was a baby….

Since it’s almost Mother’s Day, I asked what others love most about their moms. I loved all of these wonderful responses  – and what a tribute to moms!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who allowed me to use their quotes here. I enjoyed reading your responses. 🙂 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!


I’ve always felt a special kinship to my mom. In fact, I guess I’m unashamedly a momma’s boy still at age 40. I’ve always loved and appreciated my mom (and dad), but over the last year they’ve both been a shoulder to cry on and offered a hand to hold while my wife and I watched our eldest son battle cancer. I can’t imagine what the past year would have been like without their love and amazing support. ~ Bryan Ridenhour, pastor and blogger.

I love that my mom has always been encouraging and supportive. She always sees the positive and forgets the negative. She has never not believed in me. Even when I feel I am failing to please her, she always says she’s proud of me and what I have accomplished. She tells me to forget what I haven’t accomplished, and that I’ll get there one day, when I’m supposed to be. I am where I am because I need to be. My mom has always been the light at the end of the day that I need the most ~ Taryn

What I love most about my mom is…. that she prays for me, everyday! ~ Anna Leibke

A fiery redhead with spunk, Mama raised eight children with patience, wisdom and love. She planted in us a drive to work, achieve, and serve the Lord. She’s been gone 50 years, yet I can hear her quoting, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.” ~ Ada Brownell, author of Swallowed by LIFE : Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal

I love my mom because she gets me when nobody else does. I’m alot like her so that helps! We also share a lot of the same reading tastes so I can share most of my books with her. I’m also super thankful that she took the time, and was patient enough to homeschool me and my younger brother! ~ Faye Oygard

I love my mom for just being such a great listener and supporter. She’s my source of encouragement and a real go-getter. She’s fearless and I love that about her! ~ Dee

love my mom for persevering. She had a hard childhood, and has struggled most of her life. Yet she keeps going! AND she would do anything for her kids! ~ Carrie Chwierut media designer at Carrie’s Social

She sacrificed every day to make my life as normal as possible. ~ Ginger Solomon, blogger at A Bed of Roses, Thorns Included

My mom has been gone for 12 years now, but what I remember most about her, is her love of all living things! She loved people, animals and her amazing flower garden. ~ Cindi Hoppes

I lost my mom 4 years ago next month. She was 92. She was a hard working, lovely, sweet, Christ-like woman. As a child she lost her father when only 8 and her mother could not afford to finish raising Mom and her younger brother so they were placed in a Methodist orphanage. She looked back on that experience without harshness though life there was hard. She accepted it and was glad for the provision it afforded her. Mom was always a servant to us and always such a giving and loving person. And man could she cook and could she sew! ~ Vera Godley

She has always stuck by me even at my ugliest she never gave up on me. ~ Lourdes Montes

My mom has spent her entire 88 years giving to others – she was always there when I needed to talk or just needed a hug. ~ Kim Ferland

My mother died one day after her 76th birthday. Happily, she was able to talk to all of us on her birthday–my sister, brother, and me–who were living far from her Florida home. We were able to laugh and tell her we loved her. Her death was following day was totally unexpected. It’ll be ten years this August 11th and I still reach for the phone to call her or say to one of my kids, “I’m not sure about that, but Mother’ll know. Let me…” Then I remember. My favorite thing about her was her gentleness. She mellowed more and more each year. She lived her life in horrible pain (twisted spine as a result of a childhood illness), but never complained, just quietly went about her business, doing what she had to do. I’ll miss her horribly until I can hug her in Heaven one day. ~ Deborah Dee Harper

My mom taught me to love reading. Thanks, Mom! ~ Joy Isley

My Mama is in heaven now, but the thing she taught me I am most grateful for is to trust in God. She taught me there was nothing too big for God to handle. She taught me to put my complete faith and trust in Him. She taught me to be strong and courageous and to never give up. We went through some tough times in our life and in our relationship, but all in all she was my best friend and I miss her greatly. She became very humble in her last days. I always knew when I walked in the room she was glad to see me and I was special to her. I knew she loved me. ~Deborah H. Bateman, Author of: The Book of Ruth: A Story of Love and Redemption and The Book of Esther: A Story of Love and Favor

My mom has guts when it counts. After my dad was killed by a drunk driver when he was 40-years old, she moved our family cross-country — from Oregon to Georgia to start a new beginning for us. She felt it to be the best choice for her kids (1 in college, 1 in high school, and me in elementary school.) It wasn’t a popular choice — especially with my dad’s family, but in hindsight it was the right choice. Would I have done the same thing? I don’t know. She turns 75 this year and I look back and think, “Wow! What a gutsy thing that woman did for us ALL those years ago!” ~ Susan Ferrell

I love my mom because she’s always been so supportive of me and always believed in me even when I didn’t! ~ Liz R.

I was raised at a time when women weren’t seen in church alone. My Mom was a believer. A precious woman who had received Christ as a young teenager but never had the opportunity to be discipled. She was married at 16 and a Mom to twins at 17. My Dad wasn’t a believer. However, my Mom even at that young age new the importance of taking my sister and I to church. She was so brave. I’ve had the privilege to be in full time ministry for 40 years. I will be in her debt always ~ Donna Feddick Fagerstrom

The thing I love most about my Mom is how far she has come in her life. Her childhood was not the best, but she overcame and has been an amazing Mom to my brother and me for the last 35 years! She is a wonderful example to follow as a christian mom now that I have a child of my own. ~ Heather Bergman

She’s there when you need her, there’s never any doubt where help will come from ~ Theresa N.

I love my Mom for who she is. When I was younger and a teenager I really didn’t understand her. Now that I have children of my own I really understand. She is my best friend and she is always there for our family. I hope that someday my children will look back and appreciate me as much as I appreciate my Mom. ~ Amy

I love everything about my Mom.She has always been here for me…she will do anything to help me.I have health problems and she is one of the few people who truly understands what I go through.She has had to deal with so much heartbreak over the years…she lost her only son(my brother)to pancreatis and she has lost two sisters that she loved dearly over the last year….and so much more she has had to go through,but she has kept her faith and continues on.She is getting up in age and I just can’t imagine what my life would be like without her in it…I love her so much….Thanks Mom for all you do. ~ Jackie Tessnair

Honestly, I love my mom most when I am sick. My mom doesn’t show affection often, I think I can count all the times she’s hugged me on one hand. (I think it might also be a culture thing? I guess Chinese people don’t really like skinship?) I am already eighteen, but nothing makes me feel better in the middle of a fever and extreme nausea like a bowl of my mom’s homemade soup. She will never tell me, but she will sneak it on the dining room table so that I can see it…it’s times like these that I feel warm and cuddly inside ~ Lillian, blogger at A Novel Toolbox

It’s impossible to pick what I love most about my mom – she’s seriously one of my favorite people on the planet and everything I aspire to be as a wife & mother. I have so many memories of the special things she would do for us as we were growing up – even the simple things like warming our clothes up in front of the space heater before waking us up for school. And today she is one of my best friends and the #1 reason I miss living in Florida is getting to see her every day. I love that I can always turn to her for advice – be it a disaster in the kitchen or frustration with my husband. I consider myself supremely blessed to have wonderful parents. ~ Kat Vinson

What I love most about my mom is that no matter how she is feeling, she is always there for my sister and me. My mom suffers from a lot of pain due to complications from lupus, but when my older sister, who is also a brittle diabetic, suffered a series of massive strokes at the young age of 27 due to a rare brain disease and was subsequently abandoned by her husband, my mom (and dad) dropped everything to take care of her. I went from looking after my mother to watching her care for my sister even on the days when she felt her absolute worst. No one will ever know just how much my mother has given of herself and sacrificed her own health to ensure that my sister has the best chance of survival day to day. ~ Mallorie

My mama is almost 74 but in poor health. We have almost lost her about 4 times in the past 2 years. What I love about my Mama is that she is the best cook in town. She can definitely do some down home cooking. ~ Vicki Lynch

What I loved about my Mom is that I could pick up the phone and call her anytime of the day or night and share with her what was going on at that moment. I lost my Mom in (99). I miss her so. ~ Terri Clark