Monthly Archives: August 2011


The purpose of this post is to collect ideas for making things special at home every evening. How do you make each day different? How do you make your home a sanctuary for your husband? I’ve thought of a couple of little things myself, but please add to the list if you can!

  1. Be dressed in a feminine manner when he walks through the door.
  2. Smell nice.
  3. Fix your hair.
  4. Make a menu for fun, highlighting the evening’s meal. (Jesse loves this!)
  5. Straighten the house.
  6. Make small changes to your home to keep things fresh, such as:
  7. Light a candle.
  8. Play soft music.
  9. Rearrange a couple of things to make the house look slightly different (and for some strange reason, this also adds to the perception of a clean house).

Any more ideas would be greatly appreciated!

At Day’s End

I remember when Jesse and I first started hanging out. I worked as a customer service manager at Wal-Mart, and every day, I would come home physically exhausted and emotionally drained (people in general are just not very understanding). As Jesse and I became closer though, something changed. He became my sanctuary. I could be having the worst day at Wal-Mart; someone could be screaming at me even, but it dawned on me that it didn’t really matter. In a few hours, I would visit Jesse, we would play a game or go out for dinner, and I would forget about all of the troubles of my work day. Reminding myself of this fact constantly throughout the day, I found that my job became bearable. I could even be happy at work!

If we could think of our lives as “being at work,” and of eternity as “the place we retire to when work is done,” think of how much more we could handle!

The Worst Advice

When I find myself thrown into a conversation with someone who is really struggling, my first goal is to say nothing that can harm them. The worst advice I could give them would be to encourage them to act in a way that will only make their situation worse. Oftentimes, though, this is the advice they expect to hear. It is the advice that our culture would naturally give. For instance, if your best friend is struggling in her marriage, she may expect you to “support” her by advising her to “put him in his place.” She may want you to validate the choices that she has been making because her husband deserves to be treated like a child. He is, after all, making her miserable and turning her into a sour person. When, really, the correct advice would be the opposite. Your best friend can’t expect to be able to change her husband. The only person she can change is herself. The more she tries to force her husband to change, the worse her situation will become.

God doesn’t put people into situations in which there are no right choices. There is always a right choice, even if that choice goes against our worldly reasoning. He doesn’t put wives into situations in which they cannot serve Him fully because their husbands won’t behave properly. Another person cannot come between her and God’s will for her life. Only she can do that. Instead of waiting for her husband to come ‘round, or instead of constantly nagging her husband and telling him what horrible decisions he makes or how badly he treats her, she should focus her energy on making each right choice in her life as she comes to it. What is the godly thing to do in this moment? She should do it. Five minutes later…what is the godly choice now? She should choose it. Advise her to treat her husband with the respect that his office demands, serving God and others in the meantime.

If she truly submits to the will of her husband, and can treat him respectfully in love and without sarcasm, he will probably come ‘round eventually. If not, well, people have suffered worse for the cause of Christ. This life is merely temporary anyway, and every situation will come to an end eventually. I heard a pastor quote yesterday, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It’s been tried, and it doesn’t work. Wives cannot force their husbands to change. They can merely do what is good and right on a consistent basis, and hope that their husbands “may without the word be won by the conversation [lifestyle] of the wives.” 1 Peter 3:1

Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door

I recently finished Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler. The basic idea behind this book is to encourage Christian teens to face the challenges to Christianity head-on. It’s perfectly okay to have questions about your faith, but you need to find the answers to those questions. Doing so will not only increase your faith, but will transform you from a wishy-washy Christian into an informed one.

I know a lot of Christians who know what they believe – and they’re perfectly comfortable pushing their beliefs off on those around them. At the same time, they can’t defend themselves or tell you why you should believe them. I realized just how important it was to know “why” when I took biology in college. There was a Christian girl who looked the part, sat in the front row, and argued with the professor every time the word “evolution” was mentioned. While I agreed with everything the girl said, she made me very uncomfortable because she wasn’t able to support her arguments in the least. So her faith didn’t really help anyone else in the room. Do yourself and everyone else a favor: become an educated Christian. This book is a good place to start.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneeze®.

Budget Tips

Because we just weren’t getting ahead, Jesse and I decided to stop using our credit cards last month.  Here are some tips that we have been following to help us spend less than we make:

  1. Always pay your bills first. (The money that goes towards bills isn’t your money – it already belongs to someone else. You can’t just decide not to pay your bills.)
  2. Always pay your tithes. Prove God and see if He will bless you. Keep in mind that He may decide to bless you in a way other than financially.
  3. Cut out convenience foods. You can really save a ton by making most things from scratch. (As soon as I started paying attention to this, we cut our grocery bill in half.)
  4. Eat a lot of oatmeal, beans, ramen, potatoes, and rice. Find foods that really stretch the dollar.
  5. Only buy directly from your grocery list. If you didn’t need it before you saw it in the store, you don’t really need it.
  6. To save gas, only use the car when it’s absolutely necessary.
  7. Fix or mend things that are broken.
  8. Give yourself a small cash allowance every month, but never dip into your checking account if you run out of cash. Use your allowance to purchase wants (including junk food, kitchen gadgets, or anything that you are capable of living without).
  9. Cancel any subscriptions or memberships that you don’t really use.
  10. Sell the stuff you are too busy to use (lake lots, instruments, video games, books, etc).

Self Esteem

Have you ever been around someone who is constantly correcting you, one-upping you, or arguing with you? You get the idea that they really think they’re better than everyone else in the room. I think that sometimes they are just struggling to prove their worth. Attitudes like this can stem from people with low self-esteem as well as people with self-esteem levels that are off the charts. There might be a way to tell the difference, but I haven’t been around enough people of both kinds to come to my own conclusions. Any ideas on how to tell?

Anyway, here’s a method that sometimes works with people who come across that way: total humility. If you are corrected, humble yourself, and without any sarcasm whatsoever, say something like, “I’m sorry, I had no idea. I shouldn’t be saying things like that unless I’m absolutely sure.” Or, “wow, so you really know a lot about that, hmm.” Even if they are wrong, I will usually just say, “oh, really?” instead of arguing. It makes no difference to me if they think I am slightly ignorant about a topic, even if I’m not. However, it may make a great difference to them. If you argue with them, they may obsess about it for the rest of the week!

If they correct you for something that you’re doing wrong, like cooking or pitching a tent, ask for their help: “I just have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m glad you know a lot about this, so now I will know who to ask!” I’m sure it won’t work for everyone, and sometimes, I can imagine that it may even escalate the problem. But if you’re around someone who maybe doesn’t realize that their comments could be making others feel inferior or insecure, this attitude can be a real eye-opener for them. Most people don’t want to make others feel badly; they just want others to think highly of them. I tried this approach several days ago, and before I knew it, the other person was making comments to increase my self-esteem instead!

Why do people hate homeschoolers?

Today, you can read many blogs and articles that discuss the issue of homeschooling in today’s world. And that’s natural; homeschooling is becoming the norm in many Christian circles (speaking from my own experience). The idea is hitting home with thousands of people across the nation as they consider their alternatives. Homeschoolers are out there. They need help. They need encouragement. But once in a while, they need a good kick in the pants.

People hate us.

I met a lot of strangers over the summer. One day, I conversed with a very personable woman at my son’s swimming lessons. We had been chatting for several minutes, when she asked my son what grade he would be going into. He responded with, “I’m in second already.” It was the middle of July. She looked at me kind of funny, so I said, “We homeschool, and he’s doing a few subjects over the summer.” She didn’t say anything at all. In fact, she immediately turned her entire body from me and started talking to the person sitting on the other side of her. She didn’t speak to me or look at me again for the rest of the week.


Why do some people treat homeschoolers that way? If we had been born into some other era, homeschooling would be normal. But in today’s world, it’s looked upon with disgust and mistrust. As I was writing yesterday’s post about the ability to conduct good conversations, I mentioned conversing about the topic of homeschooling. I began to honestly ask myself, “What causes people to respond to us with hatred?” I could give the obvious answers: we are the minority, people are afraid of things that are “different” or things they don’t understand, we live in an age that believes that the public education system is one of the crowning achievements of our society, some people are uncomfortable with the thought of families separating themselves for God, etc. All of those things are true, and there’s nothing we can do about them. We aren’t wrong to homeschool, so we do it anyway, and that’s that. It doesn’t matter what other people think. But people have another reason to hate us, you know. One that does matter. One that is our fault.

If you take the time to research, you can find a lifetime supply of “homeschooling-how-to” articles or “why-you-should-homeschool” articles. More and more, however, your search will also turn up very defensive material. You will find things like:

“The parents of public-schooled children are just jealous because homeschooled children perform better on tests.”

“Some families aren’t thrifty enough to live on a one-income budget, so they sacrifice their children instead of their stuff.”

“Many moms can’t stand to be around their children all day because they are just selfish.”

“Parents today have become too lazy to discipline and teach their own children because they know the school system will do it for them.”

And you know what? Those statements do apply to some people. But we’re missing a key point here. Here’s why they hate us:

Because we think we are better than them.

They stereotype us because we stereotype them. It seems that “we” are always flaunting our superiority over “them.” You know, we aren’t better people. Our sin is so disgusting in the sight of God as to make our righteousness indistingishable. We don’t deserve God’s love and grace anymore than anyone else on the face of the planet. God doesn’t love you more than he loves any other person.

It seems the more we try to obey God, the more “together” our lives are, the more we look down our noses at other people. Just one example (of many) from my own life: There have been a couple of long periods of time that I went without darkening the door of a church building. The strangest thing though: as soon as I started going back to church, I started looking around at all of the other people in my life and judging them for being out of church. Could my memory of my own sins be any shorter? Every time I make a positive change in my life, I struggle with this. I am not better than anyone else. I am not better than anyone else.

It helps me to remember my sins, how I’ve lived in the past, how I would live if I didn’t know Him, how I fail every day (even though I know better – even though I know how much it hurts God). Shouldn’t that make me worse than the rest, instead of better, since I am fully aware of how much my sin hurts Him? It’s a good thing God loves us all equally. In addition to lots of personal contemplation, I pray for humility all the time. It seems my prayers can’t keep up with my arrogance however, because I am always facing this issue.

Homeschoolers in general seem arrogant to me. Am I wrong? I’m sorry if I’m wrong. However, if there’s anyone out there who’s like me and needs help with this issue on a daily basis, here’s what I think we should do: Stop worrying about how other people live. Stop comparing yourself to them to make yourself feel better. Compare yourself to Christ, see how short you fall, repent every day, always do your best, and love everybody. A humble, righteous lifestyle speaks for itself, as does homeschooling. Maybe if we can change our arrogant attitudes, the fog of rage would dissipate from the eyes of onlookers, and they would be able to see us clearly.

You say you are training your children up to be witnesses? You be the witness. They will have a good example to follow. Love and respect people; it’s a great place to start.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

Matthew 22:37-39

Good Conversation

Yesterday, I talked a little about making strangers feel comfortable. Sometimes, just talking a little can really help someone open up and feel at ease. If you are in a large group of people (at church especially), search out the person who looks the least comfortable or the most lonely, and strike up a good conversation with them.

What is a good conversation? Well, first of all, you want to pick a topic that the other person will be interested in. If crowds make you nervous too, say so! (I wouldn’t mention the fact that they look nervous, and that’s why you came to chat.) If you can find anything else in common with this person, talk about it. Think of your surroundings. Maybe you are at church or a seminar. What brought you there? What brought the other person there? If you don’t already know, ask. You probably already have something in common, as attested to by the mere fact that you are sharing the same space on the same day. If you just can’t think of anything, compliment jewelry or children – anything to get started. Talking about the weather is even acceptable, as long as you don’t leave it at that!

Try not to come across as superior. Maintain a humble attitude. Talk about your weaknesses (if you can do so without whining or complaining). Whatever you do, don’t one-up them! There are two ways to do that, by the way. You can either make your life look extremely better than theirs, or extremely worse. If you are truly concerned about the comfort level of the other person, you will steer clear of both extremes.

It’s difficult not to talk about our own children, cars, etc, especially if we are proud of them (or frustrated with them). But only mention your situation if it can help establish empathy for the other person. For instance, when people mention that their children aren’t doing well in school because they have a short attention span, I’ll say that my kid has a short attention span too. Sometimes I’ll add an illustration. I haven’t one-upped them; I’ve just established that I understand where they’re coming from. The last thing I would do is tell them that that’s one of the many reasons I homeschool, and then proceed to explain how well my kid is doing with his schoolwork. (I might, however, ask them if they have considered homeschooling. If they show an interest, I would of course answer any questions they might have. If they don’t show an interest, I wouldn’t push the benefits of homeschooling. Some people just aren’t in a position to homeschool, and others haven’t opened their minds to the idea. Just be friendly and humble.)

If you can be funny, go for it! Laughter is a great ice breaker. But more than finding the right responses, it’s important to just listen, as long as they feel like talking. If you can see that talking makes them even more uncomfortable, leave them alone, and find  someone else to chat with.

Ego Booster

Teaching the homeschool choir has been challenging for me, especially learning how to handle the high school girls. One day, attitudes were running wild – one group of girls acting superior to the rest, and another group whispering and glancing snidely toward the first group. I finally had to stop the class and give a little lecture before I felt we could go any further.

During the odd years that I attended Christian school, I must have had the idea that everybody loved me because I was so quick to show off how much I knew. Think about it – that’s the way parents act when they brag about their kids to others or when they look at homework to see how good it is. In high school, I hadn’t realized yet that the rest of the world couldn’t care less. Looking back on it, I actually think everyone despised me. It took me a really long time to start thinking about the world in terms of others instead of myself.

So, I decided to be painfully honest with my choir girls. I told them how I cringe when I think about those days. I told them how I don’t want anything in my life that reminds me of that era. My husband picked out a nice pair of shoes at a shoe store the other day, and I liked them, but I didn’t buy them. Can you guess why? They were in the same style that I would have worn 17 years ago, and I didn’t want to remind myself of my teenage years every time I put them on. I am ashamed of myself for having flaunted my knowledge.

So after I embarrassed myself in front of my class, explaining why they would hate me today if I were their age now, we had a little talk about always striving to make others feel good and comfortable. It isn’t about who’s the smartest, most well-raised homeschooler in the building. If you have been homeschooled, you probably have the self-esteem to handle boosting someone else’s ego (sometimes at the expense of your own). Go out of your way to make the other person feel valued, like his opinion counts for something, instead of always assuming that everyone is interested in what you have to say or how much you know. Homeschoolers get used to needing to prove that they are better than public-schoolers, and we take this attitude into life with us. Not only is this attitude going to make friend-finding difficult for you, it could totally impede your ability to be a successful witness.

Here’s a tip if you are heading off to college: on the first day of class, get to each class early and find a seat. Make eye contact with people as they come through the door and smile. Look for people who look scared, and make an effort to make them feel more comfortable. I once moved my bag closer to myself (freeing up more space at my table in the process) after seeing a woman come through the classroom door, looking for an unintimidating place to sit. She took the gesture as intended, and sat with me for the entire semester. We are still friends on Facebook to this day, even though I haven’t seen her since that semester seven years ago.

In general, nobody else will care about you except for you, at least until you form a relationship with someone. Be one of the few people on this earth to place the comfort of a stranger above that of yourself, and you will find yourself surrounded by friends.

Dressing for Church

Getting dressed for church every Sunday morning had become a chore. I couldn’t remember what I had worn the last Sunday. I had a couple of favorite skirts and shirts, and I had no idea how frequently I actually wore them. I was beginning to feel that I needed to start keeping a list. Or write week designations on the clothing tags. Thus was my thinking almost all winter.

Then spring came, and I was okay for several weeks because the warmer weather brought new options. But too soon, I was stuck again. Frequently, I would change my clothes two or three times every Sunday morning, trying to decide what to wear. And on and on it went…

Until one fabulous,  life-altering morning. I had invited a friend to church, and she and her family were going to come that morning. I loved and knew this family well. They comprised a fairly large, one-income family. I knew that she wouldn’t be wearing anything particularly nice to church that morning, so I dressed down. Because I loved her and wanted her to feel comfortable, and I didn’t want her to think I was trying to show her up. That morning has been so liberating for me. Since then, I’ve realized and pondered several things:

  1. I love everybody, and I don’t want to show anyone up.
  2. Visitors to our church are less likely to have nice-looking church-appropriate attire, and I definitely want them to feel comfortable and not like they are dressed too casually. If I can get intimidated every single Sunday, I can just imagine how a visitor might feel, especially someone who’s not used to going to church at all.
  3. The other church ladies can still wear whatever they like; dressing very nicely is their way of honoring God.
  4. There’s no sin in owning fewer articles of clothing, so if I accidentally wear my favorite skirt/blouse combo every Sunday, people can go ahead and believe that’s all I own. Why should that bother me? Do I honestly believe that people will think I haven’t changed clothes all week, or done laundry?
  5. My level of modesty should be the same wherever I go, so it should not be a consideration when I am dressing for church. I
    should be able to wear anything I own.
  6. God doesn’t care how I dress, as long as I am clean, modest, and easy to be around.

I hope this post helps lift a burden somewhere!