Learning is Easy, Fun and Powerful

You want me to do what???? Even though I have been parenting for what now is most of my life, I wondered whether or not I was qualified to lead a parents-of-teens class at our church. I knew first-hand the roads fraught with bumps and detours, sleepless nights and moments of pure joy in the parenting journey. Now on the other side, wiping the perspiration from my brow, I do marvel at my adult children and responsible adults successfully parent their own children and enjoy our teen-aged youngest son who shows positive signs of following in their footsteps.

That, I decided, is what I can share with other parents: I am living proof that each parent will journey into uncharted waters, each child will make their transition from child to adult uniquely their own experience, miracles do happen, and surprises are often really good things!

In preparation for this year’s class, I read more books on parenting. One in particular tells a story that I feel compelled to share…a story that exemplifies a promise my own parents demonstrated to me until the end of their lives and what I told each of my four children and my grandchildren…I will always be there for you. On pages 44-45 of the book Teen-ology by Jim Burns, PhD,  he footnotes his source, Chicken Soup for the Soul, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (pg. 266-267):  Following a devastating earthquake, a desparate father began digging through the rubble of a flattened school building where his son attended. This dad focused on the area where he thought his son’s classroom might have been. Nothing could deter his effort…not hands raw and bleeding, not flagging energy, not other discouraged parents suggesting he too give up, go home and grieve. This father remembered he had promised his son that he would always be there for him, and refused to quit. Many, many hours later, as he pulled away yet another boulder, he heard his son’s voice. Calling into the pile of rubble hoping for affirmation that it was indeed his son’s voice, the determined father heard a reply, “Dad, it’s me. I told the kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive, you’d save me and then they’d be saved too. I told them your promise to always be there for me.”

I don’t know any parents who would not crawl over broken glass or dig through rubble for days to find their child. But, do these same parents verbally express this commitment of love and sacrifice to their child? As with my parents, it may be implied and lived while not specifically articulated.

Parents of teens, there is nothing more important to give your child than the blessing of your promise (and follow-through) to always be there for them…no matter what. Speak to them of your unconditional love and acceptance. What lies ahead in your journey may be situations messy, ugly, even ones that completely baffle your intellect and emotions…consequences of choices made. Teenagers say they don’t need you, but they do. The years between childhood and adulthood for today’s teens are a minefield of emerging desires, conflicting messages, fluctuating emotions, and a pull toward independence…and an expectation that it’s okay to linger just outside the door of maturity and responsibility beyond the teen years.

The journey is mysterious for both parent and child and your teen needs guidance, a sense of security, and a listening ear. Necessary to the completion of the metamorphosis of your child is failure, followed by getting up, dusting off, and trying again…for both the parent and the teen.  Walk with your child through the minefield. Unwavering and unconditional love will bless your child for the rest of their life.  No one cares more for or has invested more in your child than you.

Accepting the challenge to walk with parents of teens in their journeys, I share this insight…the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train!! It is the heart-warming reward for perseverance and a job well done!! The true reward is when your adult child comes back and says, “Thank you.”

Keep in mind that you as a parent are not alone either. God promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. Hold on…buckle up…the ride is unbelievable!

God bless you!


Family reunions, gatherings for weddings and funerals, attic treasures all can reveal bits of history and funny stories about your family. Other than answer some of your questions about physical traits, gifts and talents, what would be a reason to learn about your family history?

For one, the medical community often asks questions about your extended family members’ health in order to better know how to help you stay healthy. Some conditions are linked to heredity and preemptive care detects early signs and symptoms or can lead to a change in lifestyle to bypass the condition all together. To learn about your family history for medical purposes especially, ask questions of living relatives regarding length of life and quality of life for ancestors, search through family medical records, locate and read details on death certificates.

But, for many of us we are simply satisfying a desire to know more about our background. Who were our ancestors? What did they do? Are there relatives I have never met?

I began this quest many years ago and learned that my father’s side of the family arrived on American soil in the 1600s. They arrived in Philadelphia and traveled across Pennsylvania until settling in western PA and eastern Ohio. Tombstones mark their heritage, being etched in their first language of German. My father told many stories about the family he knew but also told of a branch who ventured further west who he did not know much about because of the difficulty in traveling even though the distance between them was fewer than fifty miles.

Through Internet searches I learned some of their names, occupations, and came to realize that my earliest known ancestors would be astounded at the miracle realized as a result of their loving relationship, courage, and commitment. Those farmers, military men, teachers, church planters, coopers and blacksmiths helped shape the America we know today.

On my maternal side, information is more difficult to uncover…especially for my grandfather and his family. What I have learned of my maternal heritage is a background of Irish and English for the most part. School teachers and farmers, entrepreneurs and railroad men are some of the interesting occupations I’ve learned about. My earliest known ancestors traveled from their their eastern port of arrival  through  West Virginia, Ohio,  finally settling in Illinois. Southern Illinois court house fires and flooding of last century destroyed many records, so I have to rely on more recent family anecdotal evidence and newspaper clippings. My mother was searching her family history at the time of her death and I now have the blessing of her notes and letters from her sister and cousin.

I keep my information sorted and connected by using a genealogy software program and willingly share with family members.Through various searches, I’ve come to know family I never knew existed and we exchange what we know about our branches of the same tree. It’s great fun to find the heroes and quirky members of my family, to learn of their struggles and triumphs.

I encourage you to learn about your family and share generously! Enjoy!!


EDITORIAL The Mountain Press, Sevierville, TN – June 3, 2011
Book learnin’: Summer should be a time when kids are encouraged to read
     Get children to read over the summer is a challenge for parents. Too many kids think of reading as a chore, something they do to satisfy school assignments or to follow directions a video game.
     Reading for pleasure, getting absorbed in a book, is a wonderful experience ignored by many kids. Many young people today expect to view entertainment instead of investing the time in a book to escape to other worlds and adventures.
     It was exciting when the Harry Potter books engrossed children. Millions of kids were reading books 600 and 700 pages long, filled with characters and intricate plot points that required intense reading. There are lots of books for all age groups, but when kids are too old to be read to, they need to pick up the habit and read on their own. That’s when we lose some of them to more visual entertainment modes.
     According to Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen, education professors at the University of Tennessee, the summer break is when children fall behind in reading. According to Allington, best estimates indicate that 80 percent of the reading achievement gap between achieving and struggling readers occurs during the summer when achieving readers read and struggling readers don’t. 
    Allington and McGill-Franzen provide five tips on how to encourage your children to read during the summer:
     1. Explore the Bookstore – Parents can take children on a field trip to Barnes and Noble, Borders or a local bookstore and let them explore the different genres and varieties that may not be offered during the school year.
     2. Power to Choose – Few adults do much “assigned reading,” particularly for pleasure, so forget about making kids read the “classics” and instead let them choose what they want to read.
     3. Talk About Reading – Parents can read books they want to or books their child has selected to read to engage the child in conversations about the book. Talking to your children about the characters and action in the book they are reading can help you get to know them better.
     4. Set an Example – Parents can set aside a daily time for reading and engage in reading themselves.
     5. Practice Matters – If primary grade children read 10 to 15 books and intermediate and secondary students read five or six books over the summer, they can stem summer reading loss and usually produce a small gain in reading achievement.
     McGill-Franzen says that children enjoy reading books within a series because the characters and plots tend to fit into their social and cultural network, and children can easily talk to their peers about series books.
     Kids should be allowed to read almost anything that interests them, because it is the exercise of reading that matters. Unless we get our young people to read more, we’ll turn out graduates from high school and college not as well prepared for their futures as they need to be.

Read more: The Mountain Press – EDITORIAL Book learnin’ Summer should be a time when kids are encouraged to read

The Blessing

Like most adults, I carried baggage from childhood. I loved my parents and knew they had done their best for me and my siblings, yet some moments in time negatively influenced my own parenting, and later influenced my children’s parenting decisions and style. I desired to clear away the negative memories, to give to my children and grandchildren the best of myself, and that includedLiving the Blessing all my experiences in life that had shaped and molded me. I needed healing and release from the hold of negatives that, perhaps, were based on a misinterpretation of events. Then, I could address what I had passed on to my children and other important people in my life.

Grabbed by the description: The Blessing is a powerful book no family should be without. Within its pages, readers will find solid, practical advice on how to be a blessing as well as how to insure that your parents, spouse, and children all feel the security of family approval,  I dove immediately into the pool of sensitivity presented because I wanted that for my family – to feel the security of approval and love. Born with the instinct to give, to nurture, I gave from inside but always felt a restriction I couldn’t explain…is it the right thing, what will the other person think, will they demand more than I can give, what if I am rejected? Not only did I want free from the power of the negatives but desired it for my children, and I wanted to share unconditional approval and love with my father and siblings while I still had the opportunity.

For me, The Blessing is a life changing book. Dr. Trent tells of his experiences and the power of the blessing and the stories of damaged souls who have been left out of receiving approval from their parents. He tells readers that the blessing is vital to our self-esteem and emotional well-being. I connected and began to see the blessings given to me by my parents and grandparents came quietly but were real. A flood of emotion washed over me as the negatives turned to positives and healing began

What is “the blessing” you may be asking? In Scripture, God spoke a blessing on his created in Genesis 1:27-28. In Jewish culture, the father regularly  gathers the family together for a time of blessing. The elements of the blessing are powerful tools of communicating unconditional acceptance, protection, and affirmation and can be exhibited through one or all of the five elements the authors explain: meaningful touch, spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, or an active commitment. Unconditional love and acceptance, when missing, can be described as  something longed for but always out of reach, that words cannot describe. A child psychologist once told me that even an infant knows when something is missing, but they cannot describe it or tell anyone what they need. In the case of the infant we were discussing, it was meaningful touch, nurturing. Our inner being yearns for it. Our self-acceptance and self-esteem depend upon unconditional approval. We adopted that infant and continue to be blessed in participating with God in changing a life through acceptance, patience, unconditional love, and faith.

We all yearn to be accepted, appreciated, loved, and nurtured so that we can grow.  One important acknowledgement for some is that not everyone who parents can give unconditional love and acceptance. Perhaps because they never received it, and so we who desire to be a blessing to others must first learn to deal with the hurt in ourselves, then move to forgiveness and healing. This book will take you on that journey to being blessed.

Check out The Blessing. Learn to love yourself, learn to forgive, and best of all learn to pass on the blessing to others. At their website are free downloads to help you bring the power of the Blessing into your home, marriage, relationships, and to your kids – especially if you are raising teens. It’s never too late to learn more about yourself and to let change for the better bless your life.


Homeschool Resources

Some personal favorites for homeschooling

If you are a homeschooling parent or thinking about it, one online resource you might want to check out is The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC,  where you’ll find a variety of resources and encouragement, as well as ways to learn about the latest and greatest educational resources out there. They desire that TOS will be a blessing to you as they seek to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Old Schoolhouse is a glossy, full-color magazine packed with information and articles written by noted authors that homeschoolers enjoy reading. Also, check out Teacher’s Toolbox and their  How To Homeschool page.

Another source for help is Donna Young’s Homeschool Resources and Printables. You can print planners, calendars, handwriting lessons, worksheets or papers for several subjects from the website which is laid out with tab sections linked across the top on every page.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ 
is committed to developing children’s critical thinking skills for better grades, higher test scores, and success in life.

“If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours.  If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless.” – Michael Baker, President

Critical thinking is identifying and evaluating evidence to guide decision making. A critical thinker uses in-depth analysis of evidence to make decisions and communicate his beliefs clearly and accurately.

Want to know what others think of homeschool curriculum? Check out HomeSchool Reviews.  This is an excellent site for those curious about curriculum and value other parents’ experiences. Browse by category or curriculum, read more than 6,000 reviews, and post your comments on curriculum you have tried.

Feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section. Enjoy!!

New Chapter

I’m new to blogging and am encouraged by the fact that everyone begins somewhere. Many who have gone before me provide lots of ideas on what to do and how to express my interest. I am also learning to build a website, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and enjoy that the two are similar in many ways. That makes the learning curve a bit flatter! Amazing technology, the Internet, where resources abound. I am extremely grateful for the resources of Word Press and my web host.

Suggestions always appreciated as we learn together and share what works.

Do you think you’ve learned everything you need to live in this world? What happens, then, when change occurs around you? Why do we learn? Why did God design us to need to learn, to be possible for us to learn?

Situations change, people change and we must adapt to survive. God gifts us with strength, courage, curiosity, and flexibility to be able to face head-on what is ahead in our journey, just around the corner or over the hill yet still out of sight.

Take raising children, for example. Babies are little  individuals with unique personalities, common needs, and person-specific quirks that make them our special blessings. We love them unconditionally and try to give them everything we know they need and one may be totally content while the other cranky and emotionally draining. How do parents survive? To learn what to do, we may ask questions of those who seem to have it all together only to learn they also had bumps in the road and lots of their own questions. The conversation is invaluable as a learning experience for we now know that we are not alone in our journey! Someone went before us and may recommend a good book, pediatrician, school, or even a day spa for the weary mom!!

We seek answers…we learn…we adapt…we survive and our child thrives. Learning is an ongoing process as we face new situations that won’t go away. The world is a classroom: watching rain splatter on the sidewalk and clouds rolling across the sky while ever-changing their form, listening to birds greet the sunrise, tracking bees and butterflies as they gather pollen in the flower bed, identifying the laughter of your child out of all those on the playground, and chuckling at the snore of the family dog napping in the sun. Those things we learn about without even thinking about them.

Then there are the “forced” learning opportunities. For babies the repetitive, forced learning is fun…a game. For adults, this type of learning is goal and results oriented, self-directed, and stimulating while bringing personal advancement and enjoyment. Children endure this learning experience  for at least twelve years and label them as useless: “when will I ever need this?” Then, one day, something clicks and the learner’s desire  to build on the foundations that were laid…to focus on a goal and pursue it…sparks curiosity and a fresh joy in learning while a secret internal change takes place where self-confidence and self-respect reside.

Living in the world of  myriad opinions, changes, situations, and challenges constantly bombarding us, we would get lost if it weren’t for our individual, unique personalities striving to retain identity. Learning gives each individual the ability to adapt, to learn, to become self-confident, to survive and flourish,  and then to pass on the knowledge to someone else.

I’ve learned to greet each new day with expectation…to learn, to grow, to share. As you strive to be a blessing to others you will find you are the one blessed.

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