Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Eight Reasons I Want My Children to Be Best Friends

It's a difficult world in which to raise a family, isn't it? Especially a family that likes to be together.

I'm not sure how we got to this point, but a lot of people seem to value friends outside the family for their children rather than encouraging siblings to be friends. They are quick to get friends together and believe that siblings who are best friends are socially backward, as if they are incapable of making friends with anyone else.

Of course, friends are important, but why does it seem to be at the expense of a close family? This grieves me.

If we read the Bible, starting at the very beginning, we read that the first group of people the Lord God ever created was a family. Doesn’t this mean that family might be important to him? J

We can't assume that siblings will be best friends just by virtue of living in the same house. With so much pulling on our children these days, including churches that separate everybody into age-appropriate groups rather than keep them together as families, we only do ourselves a disservice with that assumption. Friendship among siblings needs to be nurtured, and here are eight reasons why I've made that effort.

A harmonious family home. Even with outside activities, families still have to spend time at home together. If the children are friends, those times can be sweet and uplifting.

Holidays...for the rest of their lives. If you have not experienced a holiday get-together with family that was fraught with tension because relationships weren't what they could have been, then you are blessed. Wouldn't it be more fun, more encouraging, more uplifting to get together with family over Christmas if everyone loved being together?

Vacations. I would loathe having children who didn't want to be on vacation together but kept emailing or texting or Facebooking with friends back home. Vacations are for family-together-time, experiencing the adventure of new things or relaxation and rejuvenation with people you love, and making memories to last a lifetime.

Grandmas and grandpas together some day. Many, many years ago, when the now-13yo boy was just a little guy in a stroller, we went to the airport to see the planes come and go and eat in the food court. {Big doings! J } A pilot waiting for his next flight noticed us and starting talking to the children. He had three children, and he said he encouraged them to be best friends because some day they would be grandmas and grandpas together. Unless a sibling severs ties, brothers and sisters are going to grow old together. I'm working now so that they have the benefit of a life-long nurturing friendship. This goes along with the next point…

Friends move away and don't always stay in touch or make the effort to travel to get together. Siblings do. There's still power in that word – FAMILY.

When others reject them, they have each other.

If trouble arises between sibling~friends {and it will}, a parent is there to sort it out. Friendships end all the time because of misunderstandings or hurts that don't get resolved, but living in the same house, perhaps even sharing the same bedroom, is a great encouragement to conflict resolution.

If siblings are friends, they get along better with mom and dad as well, and that's a win for everyone.

How do you nurture your children to be friends?

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Taking Sermon Notes on my Kindle and Four Other Things I Learned in February

I love learning, and I love adding value to my life and to the life of my family. I bet you do, too. With that in mind, I try to be mindful of what works and what doesn’t, learning through life and adjusting as I go. Some months look better than others, but as long as there is an effort and some forward progress, it’s a win.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

If I’m going to do a “What I Learned” post, I need to be mindful of it throughout the month. J Now, it’s the last day of February, and I’m starting from scratch, wracking my brain to remember what I learned. Does that mean I didn’t learn it well enough? J

I don’t run the whole gamut of emojis {some can get a little crazy and far-fetched}, but I do like a smiley face now and then. I’ve wondered if my tone here needs to be more serious. I’m a suspense writer. Should I eliminate the smiley faces and opt for a lightning bolt or an emoji that looks like one of those serious Lego guys? 

Nah. Everybody could use more smiles in their day, even if it’s just an emoji. J

My kindle wins over a print book nearly every time. I admit it. I read so much more on my kindle. Remember my debate a while back about print books versus e-books? I don’t dislike print books at all, and I still have plenty on my shelf. But when I’m ready for a new book, I find myself wanting it on my kindle. A tap turns the page, I can highlight easily and then see all my notes in one place, and I have hundreds of books with me all the time.

Just this month, I’ve started taking sermon notes on my kindle. Our family rule is no electronic devices in church. {I’m the only one with a phone, and I leave it in my purse on silent so that’s not an issue. But we wanted the rule in place before the teens had all the latest gadgets.} But like I said above, I’ve been reading more and more on my kindle. Plus, with getting six children to and from church and all their stuff, I didn’t want to lug in my Bible, notebook, pen, etc. Then the 6yo wants to color in my notebook during church, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. With my kindle, notes are simple, and I have my Bible with me all the time already. I simply highlight the passage for the sermon and then tap “Note” when it comes up. The keyboard appears, and I enter my text throughout the sermon. I tap Save, and there appears a subscript which I can tap again and see my note. Then, also, I can see all my notes in one document, if I so choose.

My 13yo son is much more capable in the kitchen than I realized. See? He can cut up vegetables! 

I have encouraged him, but I think most of what he knows he learned from watching his older sisters. Woot! J {There’s another emoji!} 

What have you learned this month?

The Lilla Rose flexi-of-the-month for March ~ perfect for St. Patrick's Day!
Available March 1.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sometimes, selling stuff online is a bit like water torture.

If you've been reading this blog for long, you {hopefully} remember The Great Purge of 2015.

Well, that Great Purge continues into 2017. It's lost a lot of its initial intensity since we’ve cleared out so much, but I find myself in the second and third wave of discarding, tweaking our earlier choices. This includes trying to sell furniture and smaller items that we've finally decided need to go. Also, my mom is moving to a retirement community, and she’s been downsizing. I don’t need her furniture AND mine, so some has to go, and I know she’d appreciate the little bit of extra cash.

Remember in that series I wrote about selling your stuff and pocketing the cash? Sometimes, that feels a bit like water torture.

Here's a recent exchange I had with someone about a king-size quilt set I had listed for $15 ~
{Edited to protect the innocent but all grammar and punctuation remain the same. J}

Prospective Buyer: I would love to buy this quilt from you...where do you normally meet. I'm in [city]...gem and 100
Me: Usually we meet in the Walmart gas station parking lot in [City], but we can meet elsewhere if that's easier.
Prospective Buyer: No that is fine...are you available tomorrow evening?
Prospective Buyer {a few seconds later}: My son lives in [name of subdivision] ..if around there is closer for you?
Me: We're not far from [name of subdivision]. Where would you like to meet? Tomorrow evening is fine. Do you have a time preference?
Prospective Buyer: I'm just gonna have my son or daughter in law pick them up...could I get back to you later after I talk to them? 🙂
Me: That's fine.

The quilt in question.

Or, sometimes, exchanges go like this ~

Prospective Buyer, in response to a particular item I posted: is this still available
Me: Yes, it is.

Looks like a nice desk, don't you think?

Can you feel the drip…drip…drip?

I understand that, sometimes, people have second thoughts or they message before they ought. But if I had five dollars for every minute spent messaging with prospective buyers…well, I wouldn’t feel the need to sell my furniture.

Sometimes, I wonder if this is a result of my prayer for more patience.

Or sometimes, I wonder if I don’t pray enough for patience.

And yet other times, I contemplate loading the van and driving to the thrift store donation center.

“…Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer….” ~ Romans 12:12

Hope for sales ~ patient with messaging ~ continuing to pray for successful decluttering. J

Have you tried to sell your stuff? How did it go? Do you have any tips to share?

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What’s Working Right Now in Our Homeschool

Some days work better than others, right?

I’m quickly realizing the value in reviewing our days to see what works and what doesn’t. Well, I’ve actually been doing that subconsciously nearly my entire adult life. That’s how you make things better, make better choices, improve life. Right?

Let me back up a bit and start over.

I’ve always been a list-maker, but it seems that the blogosphere has exploded these last few years with list-makers promoting all sorts of detailed written reviews in pretty journals. This has made me think that there’s some benefit from deliberately thinking through what works and what doesn’t work and making an actual list. I’m posting it here with the hope that what we do might inspire or encourage you. And if you have any insights, please share!

Dual enrollment. I posted on this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t mention that it also is benefiting our younger grades. We all go to the college, and the Littles and I find a common/study area for school and writing-work. This is turning out to be quite productive for us since all distractions from home are eliminated ~ very few toys available, no DVDs, no constant asking for a snack.

Bubble gum. This isn’t a discussion about what type of gum is better for dental health. J It’s simply a comment that sometimes it is helpful to have something occupying a mouth other than constant chatter. 

Fun pens. My birth mother and her husband sent each of the children a unique set of pens for their birthdays. When the pen is fun to use, you want to use it more…more writing, more drawing. And it doubles as a toy.

Yogurt for lunch. Our family of eight eats lunch together at the college two days each week. That means lunches have to be fast and easy to prepare in the darkness of the late night before or the early morning of our day. Yogurts come in a variety of flavors to please everyone, are easy to pull from the refrigerator and throw in the cooler, and are good for us. (L. acidophilus and calcium! Just be sure to avoid the ones full of high fructose corn syrup.)

Boxed curriculum. I’ve blogged before about how I would love to create my own curriculum but didn’t think I had the time. I admire those mothers who cobble together bits and pieces and have fun doing it. In this super-busy season of life and especially now that we’re on the go more with six different grades in tow, I am beyond grateful that we have a curriculum that meets our needs and lesson plans are done for me. We still piece in whatever we’re interested in, but I don’t worry about having the basics covered.

What’s working in your homeschool ~ or life ~ right now?

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Six Reasons Why We Chose Dual Enrollment for our Homeschooled High School Students

In August, we started on a new adventure in homeschooling ~ a dual enrollment class at our community college. Our then-16yo began a class called Introduction to Microcomputers, a 100-level class that teaches how to use the Microsoft Office applications Word, Power Point, Excel, and Access. Dual enrollment is the term used to describe college level classes that count for both high school and college credits. This means that these classes go on her high school transcript but also apply toward the required credits for an associate's degree.

This semester, the 15yo and the 13yo have joined her. These two are taking the Introduction to Microcomputers class together, and the three are taking French 101.

Even though my husband is a full-time faculty member at the college, it was still a decision that took some thought and prayer. In the end, here are six reasons why we chose to enroll our children.

They can have half of an associate's degree done by the time they complete high school, if not more. I'm not intending to start a debate of college vs. no college. My only point is that if a degree can be achieved without any more effort than high school already is, why not get a head start?

We can avoid the expense of homeschool curriculum for twelfth grade. Since we don't do the DVD program, our curriculum is not expensive. But if college credits can be acquired, then why spend money and time and effort on the homeschool curriculum? We have not decided completely that we will do this, but it’s nice to know that we have that option.

It's inexpensive {at least compared to four-year universities}. My husband is a professor at the community college, so our children don't have to pay tuition. It's true that this is a rather personal advantage.  {They do still have to buy books and pay minor fees.} However, community colleges are generally affordable, and a two-year degree at our local college costs around $7,000. 

It gives me a bit of a break. Okay, I'm being completely honest here. Organizing a homeschool for six children can be challenging at best, overwhelming at worst. I'm not complaining. It's been a tremendous experience for all of us, and I have no intention of quitting. But it has been helpful to hand over even just a teeny bit of the educational experience to someone else I know and trust.

The college transcripts lend credibility to our high school credits if the child should choose to continue education elsewhere. To my way of thinking, our homeschool high school transcript should be sufficient for any college to which our children may want to apply. Unfortunately, not every college sees it that way. With dual enrollment, more than a year of credits will come from an accredited community college. That doesn’t even include the completion of the associate’s degree.

The introduction to college classes and what some call The Real World can be accomplished while still under our sheltering wings. I'm not an advocate of a child going to live on a campus, except, perhaps, maybe, for a few particular Bible colleges. But with dual enrollment, my child is experiencing a new environment with her father and me right by her side.

We're several months into this dual enrollment experience, and our three teenagers are enjoying both the challenge and the independence. It's been a true blessing to be by the side of each child as he or she has spread wings and explored more of the world.

What are your thoughts on dual enrollment for homeschooled high schoolers?

It's a beautiful new style for Valentine's Day from Lilla Rose!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What We're Reading...As We Head Back to Homeschool

{This post contains affiliate links.}

We’ve had an extended Christmas break, and so just last week, we returned to homeschool and dual-enrollment college classes for all three teenagers. Reading, at this point, includes a bunch of textbooks and other school-related materials. But it also involves some for pleasure as well, just not as much. J

Do you or your family members need something new to read for these long winter days? Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration in our list.

Me ~

Publishing is so full of romance between 20-somethings that this book is unique simply because the main character is a 53yo married father. But what if you could go back and talk to your younger self? Would it change your future...or what we call the present right now? This book had me so engrossed that I neglected to get this blog post up last night. I just wanted to keep reading. 

The 17yo ~

My 17yo usually reads anywhere from three to seven books at a time. For the purposes of this post, I asked her just to give me two.

The 17yo had read a novella of Debby’s and liked it, so she decided to try another.

This missionary book is making the rounds at church. The author was a missionary to war-torn Somalia and then traveled to over 60 countries listening to the stories of believers about how their faith has survived.

The 15yo ~


The 15yo has discovered the wonderfulness that is R.M. Ballantyne and his Christian tales of adventure based on real-life events in history. Despite starting back to school, she's powered through three in the past two weeks. 

The 13yo ~

The 13yo received a kindle for Christmas, and since then, he has been reading up a storm! Right now, he’s in the midst of a series set in Australia, a series his sisters read and loved and recommended to him. It’s good for both girls and boys.

The 11yo ~

I don't normally allow much fantasy, especially when it isn’t Christian-based. But the 13yo, a few years ago, started reading Geronimo Stilton books, a series that is supposed to be written by a mouse named Geronimo. They are cute books with terrific pictures and interesting fonts. So when we found the series called The Kingdom of Fantasy, I only hesitated briefly. The books are still interesting and colorful, terrific for showing a child how fun reading can be, and they’ve also allowed for many necessary conversations about reality versus fantasy and good versus evil.

The 8yo ~

The 8yo’s reading skill has really improved this past school year, and he’s now starting the Left Behind Kids series. Exciting and adventuresome but with a good dose of faith!

The 6yo ~

We’re working through phonics, and he’s doing well. When I asked him what his favorite read-aloud book was right now, he said the Geronimo Stilton book the 11yo is reading. She’s reading aloud to her little brothers, which makes for good practice for her as well. Double win! J

What are you reading right now?

Another Lilla Rose sale, but it only lasts 41 hours, so don't delay!
The February flexi-of-the-month has released early, and a couple of other new styles are being released {including the amazing Morning Joy which looks just like a coffee cup and I've posted below}, so click through to see them all.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It was a dark and stormy night… ~ Another Love Inspired Suspense book and an invitation!

We have been having the strangest weather in Indiana. Single-digit temperatures and ice last weekend, and tonight, warm with thunderstorms.

So, it was a dark and stormy night…when I finished the final edits for my second Love Inspired Suspense novel coming this August ~ Deadly Disclosure!

The more I worked with this story, the more excited I became about it. One of the central themes is adoption, a theme that’s near and dear to me both as a believer adopted into the family of God and also as an adult adoptee.

All I can tell you right now is the title ~ Deadly Disclosure ~ and the release date of August 2017.

I’m beginning an author newsletter, and that’s where I’ll share the cover image and the back cover blurb first. I plan to include something personal and not just book news, and I hope to send it out about four times each year. I’ll also be giving away a little something with each newsletter, whether it be a print book, an e-book, or an Amazon gift card. Who doesn’t like free stuff? J

So, if you want to be among the first to see the cover art and get sale information as well as be entered in a drawing each time, sign up in the form below.

I would be honored if you subscribed to my quarterly author newsletter! Book news will be shared here first, and there'll also be a little personal or family information as well as a giveaway with each newsletter! See you there! 

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I continue to be so, so grateful for each of you! Thank you for reading this little blog, thank you for reading Under Duress, and thank you for making dreams come true!

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