10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know

10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know

Many of you know my friend Kari Kampakis and have read her blog posts about raising daughters. Now, you can dive deeper with Kari into raising preteen/teens with her new book out today called 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know.

This book is designed to help you and your daughters navigate the years when it’s easier to focus on what the world says than what God says. (And really, isn’t that ALL the years, including the adult ones?) I can’t recommend it enough as a resource for parents to use with your daughters. Put together a book club with your neighborhood girls, soccer team, or Sunday school class and work your way through these truths!

I am looking forward to studying it with my daughter’s soccer team, as they are at just the right age to be reminded, reminded, and reminded again truths like “Kindness is more important than popularity,” and “Chasing boys doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a nuisance.” But the truth I am most looking forward to studying with them is “You were born to fly.”

Yes, darling girls, you most definitely were.

Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Joy

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Today is the last day of our series entitled Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool. I hate to see it some to an end because I could spend many more days praying with you over our precious ones at home with us. There is nothing more important that we can do for our children than to pray for them. And as I said in day 1 of this series, I know that I wouldn’t have made it through those first few years without the sustaining power of God. I feel like we kinda made it on a wing and a prayer. Without His encouragement and clear direction, I would have given up and sent everybody off to school. However, He did sustain us, we didn’t kill each other, and we even had many many moments of pure joy.

Since joy didn’t happen naturally in those first few years of homeschooling my children, I had to make it a priority. I had to be purposeful about praying for joy and be intentional about creating times of joy for us. Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, I knew I needed to abide in the Spirit more so that He could do His work in me in this area. Focusing on joy paid off for us, and I can say that homeschooling my children has been an absolute JOY for six years. It has been one of the biggest blessings of my life to be able to educate my girls at home. And I thank God for restoring that joy when it was lost. Using Galatians 5:22 and Psalm 16:11 as our guide, we can pray, “Father, thank you that Your will for us is JOY. Thank you that You want us to experience fun in our homeschool and in our life. Thank you that we don’t have to settle for boring and dull, but that You love for us to enjoy Your work and Your creation. Lord, the fruit of Your Spirit is joy. Fill us with Your Spirit and help us to abide there, so that our joy might be complete in You. Fill us with joy in Your presence.”

Aren’t we grateful that we serve a God who is a source of joy? Let’s have fun in our home schools this year, friends!

If you missed days 1-4 of this series, you can go back and read about praying about wisdom, unity, attack, and health. If you’d like to ready other 5 Days Hopscotch posts on iHomeschoolNetwork.com, please click here.

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Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Health

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

We all have preconceived ideas about what our homes will be like when we homeschool. One of my faulty lines of thinking was that since we weren’t around hundreds of school children everyday, we’d avoid most of the sicknesses that blaze through schools. Ha! Little did I know that we’d pick up every germ, bug, and virus that came along in the first couple of years. I’ll admit, it was pretty disheartening to catch every little illness. We felt like we couldn’t establish a regular routine in our homeschool, because we were constantly having to take a few days off. But as I began to pray for our health and safety, it seemed that we’d go longer and longer between illnesses. We were finally able to establish a daily routine for our homeschool. It felt really good to be in our groove.

The Lord is gracious and longs to give good gifts like health to His children. Does that mean that we can always avoid sickness? No. Does it mean that if a family experiences a lot of illness, they aren’t praying about their wellness enough? Absolutely not. God is sovereign and He alone chooses how He acts. However, often times the Enemy of our soul wants us to believe that sickness has to be commonplace. He wants us to believe that our prayers for health are ineffective. Can I encourage you today to use Psalm 91 and Isaiah 53 as guides as you pray in power for the health and safety of your family? “Precious Lord, how grateful we are that You love us enough to care about our health. You want us to prosper and be in good health, according to Your word. You were pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. The punishment You took for us brought us peace, and by Your wounds WE ARE HEALED. Lord, You alone are our refuge and our fortress, and we trust in You. You save us from the fowler’s snare and from deadly pestilence. You cover us with Your feathers. Though a thousand may fall at our side, ten thousand at our right hand, no disaster will befall us. Thank you, Lord, for Your strong watch care over our bodies. Thank you that Your word is more powerful than the tricks of the Enemy. Grant us continued good health that we may serve You in our homeschool and in life.”

Aren’t you glad that we serve a God who is stronger than germs and more powerful than viruses? He maintains our good health, and we owe Him a debt of gratitude for it.

If you’re new to this series, you can click through to our posts about wisdom, unity, and attacks from the Enemy.

If you’d like to take a look at the other 5 Days Hopscotch series, please click here.

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Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Attack

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Welcome back to Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool. In day 1 we discovered how to ask for God’s wisdom as we make decisions about educating our children. In day 2 we discussed having unity in our homes, both among our children and with our spouse in the area of homeschooling. Today we’ll look at how to cover our home schools in prayer when Satan tries to attack.

Anytime we are walking in the ways of God, the Enemy wants to throw us off. He will try to use confusion, insecurity, defeat, distraction, and all kinds of other methods to get our eyes off of God’s call. Our home schools are no exception. Satan will attack our home schools just as he attacks any other good plan of God in our lives. And while God has given us the tools to defeat Satan, he does still wage war against us and we do have to fight him off. We can use Ephesians 6:11-17 to pray against the attacks the Enemy will form against us in the area of our home schools. “Father, we choose this day to put on the full armor You have given us to take our stand against the attacks of Satan. You have given us power over him, and we wield that power against his plans for destruction. We know we don’t war against each other, but against the plans he has schemed against us. We put on the belt of Your truth, knowing that it is the ONLY truth. We do not believe the father of lies who tells us that we cannot live up to Your calling. We put on the breastplate of righteousness. We know that because of our sin, we are unrighteous. But because of the blood of Jesus Christ shed for us, we take on His righteousness. We stand before you wearing his atonement, substituting His death for our punishment, knowing full well that He now holds our hearts. Lord, we shod our feet with the readiness of the gospel of peace. You have anointed us to use every situation to spread the reconciling peace of Your gospel with everyone, in our homeschool and beyond. Jesus, our faith is in You. This includes the faith that You have the power and the authority to redeem us. We take up the shield of that faith to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one. Our authority to fight against him comes from You, and in Your Name we command him to flee from our home. We put on the helmet of salvation. Your salvation covers us today as we fight the Enemy. And lastly, we keep our sword of the Spirit ready, the Word of God. We have studied it and stored it up in our hearts. Call it to mind today as we use it to fight against the attacks and lies of the Deceiver. Help us to trust what You say in Your word more than what the Enemy tries to convince us of. Lord, having done all this, we stand. We stand against evil because we stand with YOU.”

When we expect attacks from Satan on our homeschool, we will see them clearly and be able to address them quickly through prayer. Those days that we are consumed by doubt, fear, and insecurity, we can quickly turn to God and put on our full armor to stand against the Enemy.

To see more 5 Day Hopscotch posts, please click here.

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Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool: Unity

5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool

Welcome to day 2 of Five Days of Praying for Your Homeschool As a veteran homeschooling mom, I know how much God has led our decisions about homeschooling. He has given us the wisdom and vision to walk out His call to homeschool our girls. He has also empowered us to have a sense of unity about homeschooling. My husband and I are in agreement about God’s call to homeschool, and we pray for God’s continued unity between us. We also enjoy a sense of unity between our girls. That is nothing short of God’s grace in our lives. Our girls are not perfect, but we don’t struggle with a lot of the sibling rivalry that many families deal with. Our girls do occasionally get on each others’ nerves, but for the most part, they are best friends who enjoy living life together.

While I have encouraged this type of unity in our family, it is not something I can pull off alone. It is a gift God has given us. If you are lacking unity in any area of your family life, look to Psalm 133:1 and Romans 12:10 as a way to pray for your family. “God, thank you that Your will for us is that we walk in unity. Your word says that it is good and pleases You when we are unified. Grant us grace that we may walk in unity in every relationship in our family. Bind my husband and me together that we may seek common goals. Strengthen the relationships among our children that they are truly good friends who love, encourage, and bring joy to each other. May they be devoted to one another, honoring the other above themselves.”

Arguing among siblings and division among spouses do not have to be tolerated in your family. Give those situations over to God and ask Him to bring peace and unity to those relationships. Be encouraged that He wants Your family to live in peace and unity much more than You do.

Check out my other post in this 5 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool series about wisdom.

If you’d like to see other 5 Day Hopscotch posts on iHomeschool.net, please click here.

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Social Media Strategies for Preteens

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Parents, let’s face it: social media is here to stay. Our children live in an age that we never foresaw when we were their age, and that age comes with an incredible opportunity for both positive and negative outcomes. Kids have the opportunity to “speak” to masses of people everyday. They have the responsibility to use that type of power to encourage, build up, be funny, and inspire, or they can use it to make fun, be sarcastic, criticize, or be downright mean. Social media is a huge responsibility. And without us educating them on how to use it properly, they will have a difficult time avoiding pitfalls.

Though my daughters don’t use social media yet, my oldest is on the cusp. Many of her friends are already active on Instagram and other sites. Because of my work, I am quite active on social media, so I see what goes on. Parents, if I can give you one word of advice for protecting your children on social media it is this: Do not allow your child to be friends/followers with anyone online that you are not friends/followers with first. While this won’t protect your children from every potential risk, it will go a long way. You need to see what your children are seeing on social media. Fortunately, I have seen very few posts that I felt uneasy about, and I know that this is because so many of my friends closely monitor what their children and their children’s friends post online. The other parents and I have an open door policy that whenever we see something sketchy online, we bring it to attention. Just as our children need our guidance when they are learning to ride a bike, use a stove, or mow the lawn, they need us to help them get social media right, too. Let’s give them the tools and guidelines to help them be successful on social media, just as we would in any other area of their lives.

When you post to social media, it is just as if you have spoken directly to each of your followers. You can build quite a following on social media. Be cautious that what you say on social media is “heard” by each and every one of your followers. Only say the things you’d say to someone’s face. Before you post, imagine that you are making a speech and the audience is made up of the people who follow you. Only say what you’d say to them directly.

Remember who you are. As a child of Christ, remember His command, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” That means that you don’t make jokes or try to be funny at someone else’s expense. You don’t complain or criticize. And don’t forget that this verse addresses the things you say about yourselves as well. We are to speak (or write) things that build up other people. You have the power in your words to speak LIFE into people. Build them up with words that are encouraging, peace-making, inspiring, helpful, kind, gracious, healing, and accepting. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

The way you feel about yourself is magnified in what you post on social media. If you are self-confident and love others, it shows in the photos you post. If you are insecure and strive to get attention or impress other people, that shows as well. When you realize that you are God’s child, fully accepted and loved by Him, you will begin to love and accept yourself. You no longer feel the need to impress other people, because you aren’t striving for their acceptance anyway. That leads to loving and accepting other people as well. Your real life AND your social media posts become less judgmental and more kind, less about you and more about other people.

Respect people’s privacy. Social media is very, well… social. Whatever is said goes around the web very quickly. While you might be quick to share about your good grade, who asked you to the dance, or who you are dating, some people are more private about such things. It’s never a good idea to share someone else’s news on social media (or in person). It’s more prudent to let them share when and if they decide to. Extend this courtesy to your family as well. Never share publicly things that your siblings or parents don’t want broadcasted on social media, even if you think they won’t see it.

If you have even the slightest question about whether something is ok to post, ask before you post. Anything you post online goes around very quickly and it is permanent, even if you delete it. If there is any question whether a post could be hurtful, damaging, or misunderstood, ask your parents for advice before you post. Believe me, they WANT to see you being responsible with social media, and choosing your words carefully shows maturity. If you do make a mistake, be quick to take down the post and issue a short apology like “I took down my previous post because I realized it might be taken wrong. I’d never want to hurt anyone on social media, so I thought it was best to take it down.” We all make mistakes, but learning how to correct mistakes shows real maturity as well.

Service Projects for the Family

Service Projects for the Family

Teaching our children to serve others is one of our primary responsibilities as parents. God has given us the opportunity and the obligation to show our kids that serving other people is God’s way of living. Jesus modeled this type of servant behavior for us, and our children need to see us following Him in caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and evangelizing the lost. Serving together with our children teaches them empathy for others and gratitude for the blessings they’ve been given. Serving regularly with our children shows them that caring for others is our ongoing responsibility, not something to be done only on special occasions. The relationships we build while serving others provide us better opportunities for sharing the gospel. Here are a few ideas to get you started serving others with your family:

  • Contact a local ministry and ask if they need help in their office.
  • Help prepare food at a soup kitchen.
  • Contact a local thrift store and ask to help sort donated items.
  • Call a hospice center and ask if there are errands you can run for their patients.
  • Do yard work for an elderly neighbor.
  • Call someone who has recently had a baby and volunteer to take their other children to the park.
  • Bake cookies and take them to the police or fire station.
  • Collect toys for the cancer ward of your children’s hospital.
  • Hold a crayon and coloring book drive for an under privileged daycare.
  • Collect story books from your neighborhood and take them to a daycare that serves under privileged children.
  • Go on a prayer walk around your neighborhood. Pray for each home and the families who live there.
  • Go for a prayer walk through the halls of the hospital.
  • Hold an art camp or dance camp for under privileged children for a week during the summer.
  • Help out with VBS at a church that serves the poor.
  • Tutor students at your community center.
  • Pick up trash and/or do yard work at a church in a poor area.
  • Bake cookies or bring snacks to a community center that provides after school care for low-income families.
  • Go door-to-door in the neighborhood collecting canned goods for a church’s food ministry.
  • Have a lemonade stand or car wash to raise money for a ministry that provides clean water for third world countries.
  • Write thank you notes to veterans and deliver them to the VA hospital.
  • Contact a low-income nursing home to arrange for a hymn sing-a-long or children’s choir performance.
  • Visit a local shelter to pray with the staff.
  • Knit stocking caps and/or blankets and deliver to a cancer clinic.
  • Offer to babysit for an evening for a single mother.
  • Attend a ballgame of children whose mom or dad is deployed with the military.
  • Offer to drive carpool for a family who is going through a difficult season.
  • Invite a new family in your church over for dinner.
  • Write a note of encouragement to a missionary family from your church.
  • Ask a ministry to give you a specific item you can provide for them. Hold a garage sale to raise the money to buy it.
  • Befriend a widow and take your children to visit regularly.
  • Clean out closets and donate gently used clothing, toys, games, and books to the social services department for foster kids to use.
  • Provide respite care for foster parents.
  • Hold a bake sale to raise money to provide school uniforms for a foster child.
  • Cook and deliver a meal to a widower.
  • Offer to take a single mom’s children for the afternoon. Take photos and have a few good ones printed. Surprise the mom with them.
  • Mow the grass of a neighbor who is out of town.
  • Go door-to-door inviting neighbors to your church’s Christmas program or summer picnic.
  • Visit a low-income daycare to read to the children or do craft time.
  • Attend the ballet recital, choir program, or art show of a child who needs a little extra attention.
  • Hold a free car wash for all the neighbors on your street.
  • Make goodie bags for the homeless. Fill a plastic zipper bag with a bottle of water, a pack of crackers, hand wipes, a travel size deodorant and shampoo, and a pair of socks. Keep them in your car and give to people collecting money at intersections.
  • Collect old towels and money for pet food. Deliver to an animal shelter.
  • Pick up trash and pull weeds at a local park or community center.
  • Offer to run errands for an elderly neighbor or church friend. Make a grocery run, swing by the pharmacy, or give them a ride to church.
  • When bad weather is coming, call an elderly neighbor or single mother to check on them. Offer to let them come to your home before the weather hits your area.
  • Help a senior citizens with simple fix-it projects around the house like changing lightbulbs or cleaning gutters.
  • Plant a vegetable garden. Take some of your produce to a local shelter or soup kitchen, or share with a struggling family.
  • Make hand-made Valentine’s Day, MOther’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas (or any other holiday) cards and deliver them to an assisted living facility. Arrange to go during meal time so that you can visit with residents.
  • Plan a fun “family night out” for single-parent families. Show a family friendly movie and serve popcorn.
  • Hold a “dog wash” to raise money for a local animal shelter.

Don’t forget to stay in touch with the people you serve, as building relationships with them is what service is all about. As you build relationships, ask people how you can pray for them, and follow through by praying for their needs together with your children. Prayer and service are powerful ways we can reach our neighbors and our world for Jesus Christ.

The Table: How Good Food Changes the World

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I love the table. I’m not talking about an actual physical table made of wood or iron. I’m talking about the table as the gathering place of family and friends to share a meal. It is where food is consumed, but it is also the place where ideas are exchanged, dreams are shared, sorrows are carried, and joys are doubled. It is one of the places that true Christian community is built. At the table, we carry out daily the kind of unity that Jesus called for in His last time around the table with his friends, the time He washed their feet and shared the bread and the wine, the body and the blood.

The interesting thing about the table in scripture is that, aside from the Last Supper in the upper room, it rarely involved an actual table. Jesus gathered often with His disciples, and many times scripture points out that it was around a campfire while they cooked fish. Being around the table with people you love can come in many forms. It can look like tailgating before a ballgame, overloaded plates balanced carefully on laps. It can happen lounged on a picnic blanket at the park with friends, moms chasing toddlers who are too busy playing to eat. But I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that my favorite times around the table involve my family and friends, a real table loaded with delicious dishes that have been lovingly prepared so that the people I adore most are here with me for a while, talking and laughing, sharing and dreaming, growing and learning.

Don’t get me wrong; I love good food. But the reason I write recipes here day after day is so that you can have the same community with your people. The food is merely the calling card that makes people want to come in. Good food is the ploy that mothers and fathers all over the world use to pull their chickens in to roost for a little while. It’s the vehicle by which good communication happens and relationships are strengthened. I’m convinced that time around the table with people who are wise and godly can guide our children and ourselves to heal the world.

The table is the place that ideas, though possibly opposing ones, are discussed civilly and with respect. It is the place where children learn that parents are a wise authority who have answers to many of life’s questions, answers learned from years of experience. It is the place where generations can build bridges, where grandparents see that all teenagers aren’t irresponsible and teenagers see that the ideas of their grandparents are still quite relevant. The table is the place where friends who have broken home lives can come and rest and experience stability and see that their voice is important and heard, their sorrows carried for a while. And the table is a place of celebration, first out of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, and secondly for the joys of life.

If your table isn’t what you want it to be, what changes would you make? If your table is a place where love abounds, would you practice true Christian hospitality and invite others into that space on occasion so that they, too, can benefit from time there?

Modesty: What Our Daughters Need to Know

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I wrote this post on modesty last year, and it remains one of my most popular posts. I think the reason it resonates with so many of you is because you are raising daughters, and you want the same things for them that I do for my own girls. We want our daughters to know that their value comes from the fact that they are children of God and not from the approval they receive from others. If you are raising daughters or have already been there and done that, I’d love to hear your comments. What did you do right and what do you wish you’d done differently?

Grandaddy Mills’s Vegetable Soup

Living in Alabama, you never really know what you’re going to get when it comes to weather. Night before last, Jonathan and I moved the girls to the basement for the night because we were expecting tornadic weather in the night. After three rounds of thunderstorms that produced multiple tornadoes (none of which came too close to us), we were in the clear for a little while. We were expecting more storms yesterday afternoon, but they never really materialized. We went to bed last night breathing a huge sigh of relief and thanking God for His protection over us. We awoke this morning to reports that the Alabama Gulf Coast, along with parts of the Florida panhandle, were flooded. I checked immediately with my parents, who live in Orange Beach, and sure enough, they had 18″ of water in their house.

flood

A picture like that is enough to make most people sick to their stomach, but my parents are some of the most positive people I know. They’ve been through flooding before. They have cleaned up and rebuilt and redecorated. My dad’s comment about last night’s damage was, “It’s just stuff.” Mom’s reaction was to pray for the safety of their friends and neighbors and the people involved in the clean up process. She is also praising God that He will work it all together for good. Make no mistake, they aren’t super humans who aren’t disappointed and overwhelmed at the prospect of cleaning up that mess. They just choose to have a good attitude about it. I wish I could make them a big pot of soup to make it all better.

When I was a little girl, my Grandaddy Mills did a lot of the cooking at my grandparents’ home. Whenever we’d visit them, he’d always make a big pot of vegetable soup. Their home was a place of comfort and belonging. It was a place where my brothers and I could run like wild banshees through their huge yard or sit for hours on their front porch swings. And since we southerners connect all of our life experiences with food, his vegetable soup became a symbol of warmth, comfort, and the sense that all was right with the world. Since I can’t get to Orange Beach to bring soup and help clean up my parents’ house, I’ll share my Grandaddy Mills’s Vegetable Soup with you all. I hope that when you make it, it will bring the same sense of peace to you.

vegetable soup

This is a soup that we make a little differently every time we make it. Because we usually use what we have on hand, the veggies are always a little different and sometimes the meat is, too. I usually leave out the okra, but I always add corn and butter beans. I didn’t have celery this time, and the soup was delicious without it. I used leftover ham from Easter instead of hamburger meat, and it was delicious. Leftover roast is also a good addition. I’ll give you the recipe, but know that you can change it up any way you think your family will like it best. How do you do your vegetable soup?

Grandaddy Mills's Vegetable Soup
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Cook Time
2 hr
Cook Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound hamburger meat, browned
  2. 1 can diced tomatoes
  3. 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  4. 1 quart chicken stock
  5. 1 can butter beans
  6. 1 cup sliced okra
  7. 1 medium onion, chopped
  8. 3 stalks celery, chopped fine
  9. 5 buttons garlic, chopped fine
  10. 3 carrots, chopped
  11. 2 medium potatoes, diced
  12. 2 cups cabbage, chopped
  13. 1 bell pepper, chopped
  14. 5 tablespoons red cooking wine
  15. 1/3 cup sugar
  16. salt to taste
  17. 1 tablespoon black pepper
  18. 1 tablespoon Tabasco pepper sauce
Instructions
  1. Brown and drain hamburger meat. Return to pan with onions, celery, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes and chicken stock. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and spices. Cover and let simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary.
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