are you a mom who can change?

duggar me

This was taken abut 25 years ago! 

The outward appearance is only a reflection of the change the Lord did in my heart!

“Researcher George Barna’s study on teens reveals many truths that moms need to understand. In interviewing young people from assorted backgrounds, he found that 75% of them felt that they were very close to their mothers and that as many gave her an “A” in parenting. In fact, less than 6% gave mom a “C” or lower on the mom final! However, the high grades do not reflect everything about their relationships and over 30% of them thought there were things they would like to have changed but didn’t entertain the idea of doing so because they didn’t ever see their moms changing!


In pondering why this is, especially when it comes to Christian homeschooling moms, I think we have besetting sins that drive our attitudes and that keep us from change. Sometimes those sins are part of the baggage we brought into our homeschooling journey. Sometimes they come about through the lack of discernment when it comes to approaching the Word of God. Usually conviction comes to us through experiencing the consequences of the emotional, physical, or spiritual damage our words or actions are inflicting on those we love. If we are in the 70% of those moms who are willing to change and honestly look at the choices we make in raising our children, we have taken the first step of receiving God’s grace in parenting. If we are in the other 30%, we must recognize that anything that falls short of practicing the one anothers of Scripture quickly becomes idolatry.” from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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the way we were

army life

“My friend, Sally, and I sat in our theater seats, sobbing and barely able to speak. Hubbell had left Katie for the last time, and as the credits rolled, we sighed. There was nothing more romantic to two college girls than the dashing, blue-eyed Robert Redford in uniform, indifferently walking away from the woman he loved, holding on to only a memory of the way they were……..”

Don’t miss my thoughts on returning to the organic nature of marriage, featured on the Home Educating Family website and in the marriage issue of Home Educating Famly Magazine coming out soon!

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cinnamon apple bread



2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups apples, small-medium dice (granny smiths, approx. 2 medium apples)

1 cup chopped walnuts

3 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350º F and grease a 9x5in loaf pan. Mix or sift flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix the eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla until everything is combined. Add egg mixture to the dry ingredients and incorporate well. Fold in the apples and nuts so they’re completely covered and mixed in, and place batter in loaf pan. In a medium bowl, combine “Topping” ingredients and blend together. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Bake until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, around 45-55 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and let cool. Run knife along the edge of baking dish to loosen the loaf.

This was adapted from a recipe I had tucked away in file. It would be really wonderful as muffins, too, and even drizzled with a bit of vanilla icing.

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be kind


 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”   Ephesians 4:32

“In the small church where I grew up, there was a dear older woman, Mrs. Thomas, who struggled with a variety of learning disabilities, some which were also shared by several of her children. All adults and some living at home with her, the family shared the pew in front of ours every Sunday morning, often making some of the church members uncomfortable. She talked loudly, and was suffering from some degree of Parkinson’s disease, which caused her to shake and read out loud about half a sentence behind everyone else during congregational responsive readings. My grandmother was always the first to greet Mrs. Thomas, to help her take off her coat or find the correct page of the hymnal. She spoke lovingly to each of the Thomas “boys” and often patted their arms as they spoke to her.

One morning during the greeting time in the service, I looked up, horrified to see that Mrs. Thomas was wearing a new dress and that the price tags were still dangling down under her arm! My grandmother also noticed and engaged her in conversation about her “lovely new dress” all the while carefully unpinning the tag and slipping it down into her own pocketbook. She was so proud of the dress because her daughter, a nurse, had mailed it to her that week and my grandmother, in her infinite kindness, made sure nothing could ruin the moment for Mrs. Thomas. It was such a simple gesture but it has left an impression on me still 50 years later. It demonstrated to me in a very real way what it means to be kind to someone, to show compassion, to be gracious.

Interestingly, the Greek word for kind in this command, chrestos, is the same word used to describe Christ’s yoke. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). It literally means that which makes something easy, makes another’s burden lighter, and has nothing harsh or galling about it. Our acts of kindness to others are to provide the same kind of respite from the weariness of life as Jesus’ yoke does for those of us He calls “weary and heavy laden!” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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show hospitality

H and Dot

Showing hospitality to others, especially our children, is not just a nice idea, it is a requirement if we are to live in God’s will; it is an act of worship to God.

Jesus repeatedly warned his disciples of this truth. Several times in the Gospels, it is recorded that the disciples argued over who was first in the kingdom, even asking Jesus who was greatest, hoping, I am sure, that He would list their names. Imagine the surprise they experienced when He told them that the one who serves is the greatest and then, calling a little child, said that unless these grown men became like little children they would never enter heaven! He reminded them that not only were they welcoming Jesus when they welcomed children, but if they harmed any child, they were in danger of eternal punishment.

Jesus set the tone for all of us regarding the importance of children in His kingdom, in His order of life. They are not the ones to be set aside and out of the way in our churches, placed somewhere so they don’t disturb the “real worshippers.” Children are not the ones who should be taught to always go to the end of the line or to sit at the “children’s tables.” Children are not the ones to be treated with disrespect and told ”children are to be seen and not heard.” They are not to be trained as dogs or frightened into compliance with “disciplinary” weaponry. Instead, Jesus “took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them. (Mark 10:16). ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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chicken pot pie


It’s back to school time and September and cooler weather are just around the corner. This delicious chicken pot pie is a wonderful addition to your fall menu plan. You can make extras for the freezer and the results are terrific! The reserved broth can also be frozen and pulled out for soup and sauces another time.

Chicken Pot Pie

Crust for 2- crust pie

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 chicken thighs, bones and skin on

¼ cup olive oil

1 sliced onion

4 whole, peeled carrots

2 whole ribs celery

1 TBS minced garlic

1 TBS coarse salt

1 TBS herbes de provence

1 TBS thyme

1 TBS parsley flakes

2 bay leaves

fresh ground pepper

Place all in crock pot and cover with 8 cups water. Cook on medium heat for several hours until veggies are soft and meat falls from bone. Drain off broth, reserving all liquid. Cool, take meat from bones and discard veggies and spices. Reserve the broth and freeze for other recipes.

Meanwhile, prepare white sauce. Melt ½ stick butter over medium heat. Stir in ¼ cup white flour, stir. Add 1 cup broth and stir until smooth. Stir in 2 cups milk and cook until hot and bubbly. Stir in 2 cups frozen peas and carrots, 2 cups pearl onions, 2 cups white potatoes, cubed and parboiled. Stir in chopped chicken. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Turn into pie crust, top with the top crust. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly and crust is golden. (Can be wrapped and frozen before it is baked so make extra pies ahead of time and pull out on a busy day!!!)

For the perfect pie crust:

2 ½ cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cu butter, solid and very cold

¼ cup ice water

I prefer to make my pie crust in my food processor. It can be made by hand with a fork but it will take longer! Place flour and salt in processor bowl and pulse once time. Cut butter into 4 slices and pulse until the texture of small peas. Drizzle ice water a tablespoon at a time and pulse. Shape into 2 balls. Roll out onto floured board. Take a close look at the picture to see the delightful flakiness of this amazing crust! (If using for a fruit pie, sprinkle with sugar right before baking.)

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special bulk rate for The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling


I have heard from several moms who are interested in studying The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home as a Bible study with friends this fall. Did you know each chapter has questions for discussion? If you are interested in ordering 8 or more copies, contact me and I will give you a special rate! or message me on Facebook at Relationship Homeschooling!!!

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Let Innocence Sleep

Robert Coffman Lois Gilmore


In the coming weeks I will be sharing information about a special week being set aside to bring awareness of child sexual abuse and its dangers to homeschooling families. I will be providing links to resources that you can use in your homeschool support groups and will be interviewing Lisa Cherry in a podcast series on this topic as well. Recently my long-time friend Suzanne gave me permission to share these haunting lyrics from a song she wrote that was written from her own family’s devastating experience with child sexual abuse.


 Let Innocence Sleep by Suzanne Sickler-Reid


I was taught when I was young, that love would cover all the wrong,

the hurt the pain and all that life imparts.

But there’s some things that love won’t heal, since love won’t cheat and love won’t steal,

the innocence from a child’s heart.

For he is meant to be a prince in training, slaying dragons in his world where he is reigning,

just a little Knight in shining armor, he laughs, he dances, he’s a little charmer.And she was meant to be a sleeping beauty, dress up tea parties, tom-boy little cutie.

She’s a queen, a princess, teacher, wife; playing house she’s laughing, full of life.

So it does not matter who you are, a teenage sitter or pop movie star; an upright parent, teacher or priest to hurt our children in the very least, perpetuates cycles one cannot repair and leads to a heart that is lost in despair~

though it’s been done to you, you say, that’s no excuse to act that way.

No psychological profile, excuses what one should revile.

For innocence was made to sleep until the time to wake, only the heart should choose to give what you would choose to take.  To damage the soul while awakening early, it’s the lowest of theives that steal children’s purity.

So hang a millstone round your neck you’ve made a beam from one small speck and built your life on lies and deceit.  You’ve lost your way, you no longer feel, yet the pain you inflict is so very real

and remember that…

He was meant to be a prince in training, slaying dragons in his world where he is reigning,

just a little Knight in shining armor, he laughs, he dances, he’s a little charmer.

And she was meant to be a sleeping beauty, dress up tea parties, tom-boy little cutie.

She’s a queen, a princess, teacher, wife; playing house she’s laughing, full of life.

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a little kitchen make-over and devil’s food cupcakes

A few weeks ago we needed to replace our refrigerator so Clay suggested we might want to give the kitchen a coat of paint while it was pulled out from the wall.  Of course that led to a major dejunking of the entire kitchen, sewing new curtains, and redecorating the counters. It turned out to be a really fun and amazingly inexpensive project!


My color inspiration was this vintage canister set from our beloved South Eden Antique Mall…..


and this sweet apron circa 1950s.


I also wanted to frame these vintage photos of my birthmother working in her kitchen at Bradley University.

photo 2-2


I replaced my crocks with vintage enamelware I was using other places around the house.


I turned the lower half of the bookshelves into a small pantry area for additional storage using curtains.

photo 1



Green plants and my flea market hen make the sink area a cheery place.



My grandma sampler and framed recipe cards handwritten by my mom still need to be hung.


But a delicious batch of devil’s food cupcakes were baked and served from the new kitchen redecoration! Here’s the recipe:

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup hot water

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter

2 1/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream


Dissolve cocoa powder in hot water and set aside.  Melt butter over low heat and stir in sugar until well-mixed. Place in mixer bowl and stir to cool. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in cooled chocolate mixture. Add vanilla and mix all. Mix together flour, soda, and powder and add to mixer bowl along with sour cream. Mix until well creamed and smooth. Fill cupcake cups about 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until centers are set.  Cool and frost with buttercream frosting. (Mine are topped with sprinkles and sliced strawberries.) Makes about 36 cupcakes.

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Marriage: Getting There ~ courtship, dating, betrothal ~ Part Three




Today I am sharing a story with you from back in the day when we had only three elementary school age children of our own and were pretty idealistic about church life.

Go ahead, snicker.

And, we were exactly the right choice to be involved in church as….wait for it….youth leaders.  But, as much as we enjoyed the high schoolers who faithfully came to our Sunday school class and who exuberantly participated in youth activities like cool concerts and trips to Christian colleges, according to our church, we made two HUGE blunders. In fact, because of these two decisions, we were asked to no longer work with high schoolers nor were we allowed to teach their Sunday school class.  Parents were up in arms and the curriculum we had been using, published in 1982 by Navpress, I might add, quickly flew off the library shelves as nearly every church member lined up to read what we had had the audacity to present to the youth of First Baptist Church!

But before I tell you what we did that landed us in the crosshairs of the missionary society flash mob, let me back up to my own days of high school Sunday school class.

Our teacher was Freida, the pastor’s wife. Oh how I loved this woman! A true Bible student, Frieda had a very definite agenda for us: to love Jesus and make wise choices, especially when it came to dating and marriage. Interestingly, there were 2 or 3 of us girls who came regularly with our parents and then there were another 4 or 5 guys who were there about 90% of the time, most of them from unchurched homes. The peculiar thing was that they were all star athletes who had spent Friday and Saturday nights playing football and basketball and dating popular girls, probably scoring big both inside and outside the playing arena. None of them professed to be Christians, none of them were interested in dating any of us Sunday school girls since they barely acknowledged our existence at school. To this day I am puzzled as to why they were even there, but I am sure Freida’s lessons were meant to drive home to the girls that these guys were unbelievers, therefore they were to be off limits to us as boyfriends.

One story I remember her telling several times was one about her college friends, Rita and Jean.  All three were committed, mature Christians and each of them met and married their husbands right after their senior year in college. But while Frieda and Rita each married Christian men, both who eventually became pastors, Jean, in spite of protests from her friends, chose to marry an unbeliever. Rita, she told us, had struggled through many bad situations because of the unbiblical choices her husband had made and had, on more than one occasion, told her best friends that she wished she had listened to their warnings. Frieda encouraged us to remember that we needed to not only not marry an unbeliever, but also to not even consider dating one. The girls in our class soaked this in, but it really left me confused.

You see, on Sunday nights, I went with my best friend to her youth group at a much more doctrinally conservative church where everyone practiced missionary dating. All around the room were girls and guys from the church who brought their unsaved boyfriends and girlfriends along, hoping and praying that they would get saved before they walked down the aisle. No one seemed to think this was a problem and I never once heard the youth leader or pastor teach otherwise. And it wasn’t unusual to hear of the romances from previous generations that followed the same pattern. Thankfully, by the time I was responsible for teaching high schoolers myself, I was a growing and maturing believer who not only understood and believed that missionary dating was wrong from a very practical standpoint, I also respected the authority of Scripture that forbids a Christian to marry a nonchristian.

Which brings me to our conflict as Sunday school teachers.

As we got to know the young people in our class and listened to their ideas, one issue that kept coming up was the topic of dating, so we were exited when we heard a discussion of this topic on Moody radio along with a recommendation for the book Choices: Finding God’s Way in Dating, Sex and Singleness and Marriage. We were given permission by the Christian Education board to teach through it and everything was fine until we taught the principle of believers only dating and marrying other believers. The outrage on the part of some parents and other church members shocked us. (Remember, I described us as idealistic at that time!) The pastor refused to support us or the book, the CE board tried to remain neutral, people clamored to read copies of the book on the shelf in the church library, and the contingency of missionary society ladies who were married to unbelievers drew their swords, angry that we could teach such a thing! In retrospect, it was a sad, sad commentary on the state of that body and really the church at large.

In more recent years, I am seeing even more of an acceptance of missionary dating, even among homeschoolers and for any number of reasons. Pastors are hesitant to preach about this from their pulpits and those who have been badly burned within the patriarchy movement, in their zeal to run away from the extremes of betrothal and courtship, have swung the other direction and say “Whatever! We rejoice in our Christian liberty.” Some even go so far to say, as I have heard more than one homeschooling mom exclaim, “Well, I would rather have my daughter marry a kind and gentle unbeliever than an abusive Christian man.” Where is the logic in that statement? And even one very conservative and long suffering Christian widow I once knew declared, “I tried being married to a Christian man the first time and I was miserable. This time I will marry an unbeliever.”

The principle of Christians dating and marrying only other Christians is one that should be a nonnegotiable in our homes. It is the standard we must teach when we rise up, when we sit down, when we travel along the way, and we must do so intentionally. One young man I know whose Christian friend started to date a nonbeliever expressed his concerns by asking “What would your mother say?”  That must be the standard.

Oh, by the way, I almost forgot. The other topic we taught that got us kicked out for our youth group responsibilities is that abortion is sin and takes the life of an unborn child made in the image of God.  We showed the film Whatever Happened to the Human Race, having invited parents to come along. They came and we were ousted.

I am curious to hear your thoughts. How do you ingrain the importance of this biblical truth in the lives of your children? What happens when adult Christian children do not obey this command of Scripture? How should we respond?


Just to note: Choices is an excellent book for discussing this topic. I think the earlier version misses the mark when discussing complementarianism. I am curious to see how the updated version compares and if the Rineharts still hold to those perspectives, as many Navpress publications do not do so today.





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