Keeping a Beautiful Table

As discussed in the article: Setting the Table: A Sacred Act of Love and Connection, setting a beautiful table for at least one meal a day has multiple benefits.

However, we are all busy. Each day is full and that requires us to have plans in place for getting a nourishing meal on the table each day, as well as making a beautiful table easy to set.

I have found that having certain tools in place, make table-setting a breeze for company as well as for our regular family dinner.

  1. Maintain a Beautiful Table Throughout the Day: Keeping a table with a centerpiece and linens is essential for creating a lovely setting for each meal. On our dining room table, I always have three large farmhouse-style candles. Additionally, I use a burlap table runner or placemats to add visual interest. Having consistent linens and a centerpiece ensures that our dining table looks sharp all day and remains inviting for every meal we share there.
  2. Tidy Up After Table Activities: Since we use all the tables in our home for homeschool lessons, sewing projects, and crafts, I make sure at least one table is clean for eating. I encourage my children to put away their materials when they’re done. After school, the books find their place, and completed projects are stored away.
  3. Adornments for Our Table: Our typical table decorations include candles, fabric, and flowers. Lighting candles during family meals creates a cozy atmosphere and encourages conversation. I also like to forage around the yard for foliage to adorn the table. Seasonal flowers, holly, or even cherry blossom branches (when our tree blooms) all add a touch of natural beauty. Fabric is essential for completing the table’s look—I’m content with hemp placemats, but a simple table runner or a more formal tablecloth works equally well.
  4. Cloth Napkins Are a Must: A decade ago, I switched to using cloth napkins. Not only do they elevate an ordinary table setting, but they also save money. We no longer need to buy paper napkins, which adds up over time. I can reuse cloth napkins for each meal, assigning the same one to each person’s spot.
  5. Tableware should match napkins the regular setting. While I initially loved stoneware, the wear and tear from our children led me to switch to a pretty Corelle set. The comfort of knowing that a dropped plate won’t chip or shatter is reassuring. Although I do have some fine china my husband gifted me, I reserve it for special occasions due to the hand-washing requirement. Overall, a quality set of tableware can be chosen to coordinate with table linens and accessories, completing the look for every meal without the need for separate dishes.

Having these things in place, makes setting a table for dinner each evening a breeze. The table invites people to sit around it at all times, whether to share a cup of coffee or tea or spread out and spend time studying the Bible.

Setting the Table: A Sacred Act of Love and Connection

I am working on the teaching my children to value of a beautifully set table. In a day when efficiency is valued over being slow and still, a nicely set table is becoming a thing we reserve for special occasions. I consider sitting down to a beautifully set table an important value to instill in their lives.

The reasons for setting a beautiful table are many, but for me, it narrows to about seven different reasons.

1. Slowing Down in Our Busy Lives: In our modern, fast-paced lives, moments of stillness are rare. Sitting at a well-set table provides a deliberate pause—a chance to step away from the chaos and focus on nourishing both our bodies and our souls. It’s a reminder that life isn’t just about rushing from one task to another; it’s about savoring the simple pleasures.

2. Encouraging Lingering and Fellowship: A beautiful table is an invitation to connect with others, share stories, and truly be present. When we sit down with loved ones, the table becomes a space for laughter, heartfelt conversations, and the weaving of memories. Instead of rushing through a meal, we engage in conversation, share stories, and connect with those at the table with us.

3. Thoughtful Eating and Tasting: A nicely set table encourages us to slow down, chew thoughtfully, and appreciate the symphony of flavors in each dish. It’s a practice that nourishes not only our bodies but also our minds. We would probably eat less food, with more appreciation than grabbing something to chew on as we go, or eat while watching TV, not really tasting what is in our mouth or noticing when we have had enough.

4. Feeling Loved and Appreciated: When someone takes the time to set a table for us, it’s an act of care. It says, “You matter. Your presence matters.” Whether it’s a family member, friend, or host, this gesture creates a warm and welcoming environment.

5. Practicing Good Manners: Teaching children good table manners is a valuable life lesson. It’s about respect—for others, for the food, and for the shared experience. Simple acts like not talking with a full mouth or waiting your turn to speak demonstrate consideration for those around us. And those values can be best taught and practiced around a nicely set table, rather than in the car or flopped in front of the TV.

6. Preparation is a Sacred Time: As I chop vegetables or stir a pot, I am able to thank the Lord for His gracious provision for our family. Each step becomes an opportunity for prayer and gratitude.

  • Praying for Fellowship: Preparing a meal for someone goes beyond the physical act of cooking. As I cook, I often find myself praying for the upcoming fellowship around our table.
  • Blessing Each Spot: I like to pray for each person as I set the table. Even if it is just my own children, I can pray for their hearts and minds as I set their plate down.

7. A prepared table is a picture of eternity. We get so little of heaven here on earth, but sitting around a table once a day with those we love is one of those moments. Throughout Scripture, there are promises of a grand feast—a celebration of God’s redemption and restoration. Isaiah 25:6 beautifully describes this future banquet: “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.” This eschatological feast represents the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan. It’s a celebration of victory over death, the removal of sorrow, and the wiping away of tears (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 19:6-9).

God’s preparation extends beyond physical tables and banquets. He prepares a place for us in eternity. Jesus assured His disciples in John 14:2-3: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

God’s preparation encompasses both earthly and heavenly dimensions. As we anticipate the future feast in His kingdom, let us also emulate His love by preparing for others in our daily lives.

She Laughs at The Time to Come

As December 1999 unfolded,  I was a sophomore college student. Y2K bug loomed, and many people, including my family, were preparing for the worst.

Even though I planned to return to college in the spring, I packed every bit of everything that I owned from my dorm room. Just in case the theory was right, and the world turned up-side-down in a few more weeks, I would not have to worry about anything left behind at college.

I stayed up until midnight with my siblings as the new year rolled over. My parents, seasoned by life’s uncertainties, had stocked up on wheat berries, frozen foods, and heirloom seeds. Their pantry sagged under the weight of preparedness. We were not alone; thousands shared our concern, hoarding canned goods and bottled water, bracing for the impending collapse of infrastructure.

By God’s grace, life went on. I graduated from college, married, and became a mother.

Then we hit 2012. As a young mother, I fretted about the Mayan calendar. Would the ancient prophecies come true? But the clock struck midnight, and once again, God’s grace provided humanity with more time.

In 2014, another wave of foreboding washed over us. Changes, doom, cataclysms—the headlines screamed. Yet by God’s grace the earth continued to spin and I continued to breathe.

It was at this time in my life, that my relationship with fear of the world’s future came to a sudden and permanent halt.

Isaiah 8:12-13, was shared to me by a dear older friend, on evening as I spilled out my fears to her.  In that passage, Isaiah tells God’s people

“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

Fear of the future is not a biblical fear. To see that my fears were not only unfounded, but misplaced was a great gift to my soul.

Conspiracy theorists are all over the internet now. Last week, as I read about the upcoming solar eclipse, my browser filled up very quickly with scared people, scaring other people about various conspiracies and theories of destruction of the world. And what once might have swallowed me in is something that now gives me no concern. I laughed. 

In Proverbs 31, we read about the embodiment of wisdom in the image of Lady Wisdom. In that passage, Lady Wisdom is said to “laugh at the future.” Why? because her hope is anchored in something beyond a ticking clock.

Gifted wisdom, bestowed by the Divine,
She laughs at the future, her heart aligned.
In a world of whispers, secrets, and schemes,
Her heart remains steadfast, like sun’s golden beams.

Conspiracies may swirl, shadows may creep,
Yet Lady Wisdom’s laughter runs deep.
Her hope is anchored in truth’s embrace,
A refuge of faith, a sanctuary of grace.

She knows that beyond the veil of time,
God weaves purpose into each rhyme.
In His hands, the universe dances and sings,
And Lady Wisdom laughs, her spirit takes wings.

For in God’s wisdom, she finds her delight,
A beacon of truth in the darkest night.
Her laughter echoes through eternity’s span,
A symphony of trust, a celestial plan.

So when Lady Wisdom laughs, it is not in jest,
But a hymn of praise, a soul’s sweet rest.
Her soul sure, her hope anchored in God,

Untroubled by the world’s chaos, forever in tune.

Seeing God in His complete rulership over all that is known and unknown is a great comfort to those who follow Him. I have nothing to fear.

Will the world end? Yes. But my soul is secure. If the world ends, my hope in God is safe.

Will I see troubling times? Yes. I am told in Scripture, that suffering lies ahead for the world, my family, and myself. But my soul is secure. My mission unchanged, no matter what changes the world undergoes.

Does the state of the world grieve me? Oh my yes! I do grieve deeply about the pain and brokenness sin has caused. But in that grief I do not fear.

Only those who do not hope in God need fear the future. Conspiracies, theories, planning for a world catastrophe, have no place in the Christians thought or life. It only defames our testimony of Christ when we as believers wrap ourselves up in fear of impending doom.

May our hearts, like Lady Wisdom, smile at what we do not know. Let us rest in God, not in circumstances. Let us walk steadfast and undistracted from our purpose in sharing the good news with those around us. As we lay down our lives daily, souls once and forever safe in His tender, eternal care.


Reading Jane Austen with Daughters

I didn’t read any of Jane Austen’s books until after I had graduated from college. However, when I delved into “Pride and Prejudice” for the first time, Jane’s writing captured my heart. Much like L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables,” I found Jane’s characters relatable and familiar.

What struck me most was that Jane’s characters weren’t stagnant. They evolved, much like real humans do. Emma, Elizabeth Bennet, and Elinor Dashwood all matured emotionally as I turned the pages.

Jane’s novels primarily revolve around conversations—layer upon layer of dialogue—with very little action. As I read, I felt like a fly on the wall, observing every person in the story and hearing their deepest thoughts.

As my daughters grew, I knew I wanted to introduce them to the beautiful and timeless writing of Jane Austen. There are multiple reasons I wanted my girls to be introduced to the books by Miss Austin, but overall, I feel strongly that the characters in her novels will help my daughters thinking and verbal skills, as well as impact their perspective on romance and marriage.

I want my girls to to see the failures and shortcomings of others, and the way a person develops over time. Sometimes a child does not see this change in herself or others because a child has not had a long time to observe. It gives hope for my daughter to know that what she struggles with whether prejudice, pride, a poor economic situation,  or a quick tongue can be overcome and altered with time. What we see in a person now, has not always been who that person was. Nor what a person is today, is what that person will always be.

Jane Austen excels at portraying disagreements among characters. In today’s world, however, there seems to be little tolerance or understanding for differing opinions. Rather than engaging in verbal disagreements, many people simply avoid certain conversations or topics altogether. Fear of expressing their true thoughts on a matter is common, and sensible discourse on various subjects is increasingly rare.

In Jane’s books, we encounter intense disagreements, such as the one between Emma and Mr. Knightley regarding Emma’s friend, Harriet Smith. Similarly, the rift between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice” provides valuable insights. Reading about these characters allows us to appreciate their ability to express their views graciously, stand up for their beliefs, and engage in sensible arguments that help readers understand both sides.

Another aspect Jane Austen masterfully portrays is the art of confession. Her characters often make significant mistakes, but by the end of the story, they acknowledge their wrongdoings. Whether through heartfelt letters or face-to-face conversations, issues are addressed, resolved, and settled. This willingness to confront problems head-on is a rare gem in our modern culture of self-importance and image-consciousness.

We desperately need this approach in our world—within marriages, churches, and friendships. Too often, important matters go unaddressed because we lack the know-how. Jane Austen’s works teach us how to navigate conflicts, live with our differences, and humbly admit when we are wrong, ultimately altering our course for the better.

Jane Austen gives words to my daughters. Her vocabulary is rich, but beyond the remarkable words she employs in her books, lies her skill in weaving those words together during conversations. Through these dialogues, she crafts arguments, perspectives, and evokes emotions—pain, regret, and depths of feeling.

Often, individuals grapple with unexpressed thoughts and emotions. Jane Austen’s novels serve as a bridge, enabling my daughters to articulate those innermost sentiments. By reading her works, they learn to give voice to their feelings and put their thoughts into words.

Reading Jane Austen’s novels sets a high standard for my daughters’ expectations of a good husband. While true gentlemen may be rare, they do still exist—I happen to be married to one. I want my daughters to recognize the qualities of a good man: how he treats a lady with protection, kindness, and grace.

The gentlemen in Jane Austen’s novels are diverse and imperfect, each with their own unique traits. What unites them is their kindness. They are not the stereotypical macho figures, flexing muscles and boasting. Instead, they exhibit selflessness, standing up for what is right and treating others with respect. Even during moments of disagreement with a lady, they maintain composure and avoid brashness or loss of self-control. These men exemplify true gentleness, a trait I hope my daughters seek in their future spouses.

In a world where fairy tales often depict a kiss as the magical key to love, Jane Austen offers a different perspective. In her novels, love is multifaceted:

  • Honesty: Love involves openness and truthfulness.
  • Forgiveness: It requires the ability to let go of past mistakes and hurts.
  • Disagreement: Love doesn’t shy away from differences but navigates them with grace.
  • Selflessness: It prioritizes the well-being of the other person.
  • Patience: Love waits, endures, and perseveres.
  • Silence: Sometimes love speaks softly or remains unspoken.
  • Timing: Love understands the right moment for commitment.
  • Guidance: It leads and supports.
  • Learning: Love grows through understanding and shared experiences.
  • Perseverance: It doesn’t give up easily.
  • Moving On: Love allows healing and growth after heartbreak.
  • Fighting for Love: Like Mr. Darcy, love is worth the struggle.
  • Endurance: It withstands challenges and stands the test of time.

Jane Austen’s characters exemplify these facets of love. Their journeys reveal that love isn’t instantaneous; it’s a gradual process. It’s not just about fleeting feelings, but about building something lasting. So, let us teach our children to see romance as a lifelong, sometimes painful, yet faithful journey—a journey where love is more than mere appearances or fleeting moments, but a commitment to endure and cherish.

I want to read Jane Austen’s books with each of my daughters, rather than simply giving them the books to read on their own. Recently, reading “Emma” to my oldest daughter sparked numerous interesting and necessary conversations. We’ve delved into the cultural context of that time, explored the differing perspectives on marriage then and now, and discussed the development of various characters.

Most importantly, Jane Austen’s works have brought my daughter and me closer together. As we share in the hopes and disappointments of each character, we are able to engage in many heartfelt discussions about each character’s actions and words.

Close Your Ears- A Lesson in Discretion

“Close your ears,” my mother would say, signaling all of us at the dinner table that we had just overheard something not yet meant for our ears. Usually, it was a snippet of conversation between her and Dad, something exciting or intriguing. But occasionally, it was information accidentally revealed during casual talk.

As a child, I held the unofficial title of the world’s most curious snoop. Whenever my parents retreated to their room for a private conversation, I’d press my ear against the door, eager to catch every word. My parents, while amused by my inquisitiveness, recognized it as a flaw that needed correction.

My mother spent years teaching me discretion—to mind my own business and respect others’ privacy. No more eavesdropping on her phone calls or prying into who had called. “Listening in” was neither cute nor acceptable behavior. They assured me that if something truly essential arose, they’d share it with me in due time.

By their example, my parents instilled in me the art of avoiding gossip. They taught me that the listener is as guilty as the teller. I witnessed my mother gracefully halt a friend mid-conversation, saying, “Please, no more. I don’t need to hear that.” She’d then steer the discussion away from sharing someone else’s shortcomings.

Today, my curiosity remains intact, but my upbringing guides me. I’ve advised friends not to divulge unnecessary details or names. Sometimes, all I need to pray for a situation is minimal information. I shared in a recent post, Love Covers about the importance of knowing what things to share and what there are private; knowing who to tell things to is also invaluable for children to lean.

Gossip and slander—two words that often slip into our conversations unnoticed. Gossip is one person telling unconfirmed information to other people. and Slander is saying bad things about another person. Both gossip and slander are unnecessary, unloving, and harmful. Both gossip and slander involve a teller and a hearer.

I have learned that a lot of hurt and pain could be completely avoided if people could discern not only when shut their mouths, but their ears too.

As hearers, we bear a responsibility when it comes to the information we receive. When someone shares potentially harmful details about another person, we must quickly discern whether or not we need to engage in that conversation.

When to Listen:

Responsibility to Help:

When counseling someone or discipling a child, the information they share becomes crucial. It equips me as a guide to know where issues are and how to best help those in my care overcome their difficulties with others.

If I am personally involved:

Sometimes I need to be informed about things that concern me because they relate either to me or to a situation that pertains to me. In such cases, actively listening to information, discerning truth from falsehood, and avoiding assumptions about unknown details can be insightful in seeking the truth of a personal situation.

When to close your ears:

Unnecessary Details:

If we’re not directly involved or responsible, we’re not doing anyone a favor by hearing things that should remain private.

Avoiding Harm:

Gossip and slander can inflict wounds. By choosing not to listen we guar our hearts and minds from negative thoughts and feelings about others, as well as untruths that might be told us by someone who does not have all the facts or is so personally involved only one perspective seems right.

We don’t hear much about the sin of gossip in our culture. I think it has hidden in a variety of names…. confiding, seeking justice, prayer request, preventing further harm to others… Gossip doesn’t always name names, or even seek to damage as it strives to be heard and seen.

The Hidden Faces of Gossip:

Our culture often disguises gossip under various names:

  • Confiding: If my friend is telling me her negative opinions about someone else, chances are, she or he cannot be trusted with my confidence either. As person who shares too much has a problem of sharing too much, no-one is safe in their mouth.
  • Seeking Justice: Some people consider it good justice/revenge to ruin another person’s reputation, by sharing that persons secrets in public. If the right courses put in place by God do not serve justice, as Christians, we have no choice but to leave the matter in God’s hands. We should never attempt to resolve those matters on our own.
  • Prayer Requests: Sometimes, we use prayer as a cover for gossip. By asking someone to pray for a situation, we sometimes share more than should be said or hear more than should be heard.
  • Preventing Further Harm: We convince ourselves that sharing information serves a noble purpose; that may sometimes be true, but in general that is a cover-up reason for those who are dealing with deep hurt and seeking personal healing by sharing their story.

People who are godless are described in Romans 1:29-31 as: “filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no loveno mercy.

II Corinthians 12:20 also describes artificial believers as: there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”

We, as believers  to guard our mouths and ears with great diligence. If there is a question that we ae saying or hearing something that could be gossip or slander, it is best not to say a word. And if we are uncertain if what we are being told is completely true, helpful, or kind…it is best to find something else to talk about, or as my mother would say, “Close your ears.”

Love Covers

As Christians, we believe we are accountable to God for every thought and every word. What we say matters.

It takes great discernment to learn what must be told to someone else and what must be kept quiet. I believe that learning how and what to share about others begins in childhood.

Training my children about what is appropriate to talk about begins with my example. I learned at a young age by watching my mother tell a person that she did not want to hear something they were telling her about someone else. My husband’s mother taught him to tactfully change the subject when there was a conversation started that was full of slander or gossip. My children watch me, and how I talk about others to others is heard by them on a regular basis. Slander and gossip ought not to have a place in my speech. I also do not share with my child the wrongdoings of his or her sibling. If a child is caught and given consequences, my husband and I do not make that public. We take the offending child into privacy and deal with the matter. If our other children want to know what happened, we make it clear that it is not their business.

I also speak and repeat to my children what is appropriate to tell others and what needs to be kept to oneself.

What to Share:

  1. Emergencies: If there’s an urgent situation or someone’s safety is at risk, I encourage my children to tell me. I want them to know what situations are urgent and need my immediate attention.
  2. Disobedience: When someone is actively disobeying a rule or command, as that child’s parent, I do want to know so I can correct my child. Although it may be considered tattling for one child to tell on another, I do consider obedience a primary concern and will deal with a situation if a child tells me about it.

What Not to Share:

  1. Past Grievances: I do not want my children to remind me of conflicts or grievances they have had in the past with siblings. I want them to learn to forgive and leave what has been forgiven behind them. I have taught all of my children I Peter 4:8 and remind them of that if a past and forgiven issue surfaces again. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” Today, my children know it is time to stop talking when I say, “love covers.”
  2. Slander and Gossip: It has not been difficult to teach my children the pain of gossip or slander. They have all experienced the pain of unkind things said behind their back. I emphasize showing grace and love to others in our conversations as well as in our behavior towards other people.

Who to share with:

I have also learned that there are people who need to be told something because it IS their business. As a mother, most of what my children say and do is my business because I am responsible for them. But there are other people who can be told things that we would not tell everyone, except whose business it is. Doctors can be told personal health concerns. Counselors can be told about relationship problems and difficulties one might have with another person. A police officer can be told grievances about others. Pastors and spiritual leaders can be asked to pray and help in specific personal matters that one should not share with everyone in general. I want my children to know that telling a person information so they can help is not the same as gossip or slander.

As Christian parents, we strive to raise children who embody love, patience, and kindness. By teaching them discernment in conversation, we equip them to navigate relationships with grace and love.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

The Book and Testimony of Richard Wumberland

As part of our daily lessons, I teach my children about church history. While we often delve into the stories of early church martyrs and theologians, this past term, I decided to introduce a more modern perspective.

For my daughter’s sixth-grade study in church history, we’ve been reading the book Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. This powerful account sheds light on the persecution that occurred in Romania during the communist regime. Wurmbrand, a pastor during the 1950s-1960s, witnessed firsthand the suffering of Romanian Christians who were targeted by the Communist party. His writing not only shares glimpses of his own years of torture in prison but also highlights the experiences of other believers he encountered.

As we progress through the second half of the book, Pastor Wurmbrand confronts the lies propagated by atheists and communists. He points to various testimonies of those who courageously stood against these falsehoods. Additionally, Pastor Wurmbrand passionately emphasizes the responsibility of Christian brothers and sisters in free countries to support their fellow believers who face persecution.

“Tortured for Christ” serves as a poignant reminder of the unwavering resilience and deep faith exhibited by those who endured unimaginable hardships for their beliefs. This powerful account encourages us to reflect on our own commitment to truth and solidarity with persecuted Christians worldwide.

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve read countless books, but only a few have left an indelible mark on my soul. Tortured for Christ is one of those transformative works. Richard Wurmbrand’s vivid storytelling transports readers to the heart of suffering and sacrifice during Romania’s communist regime.

One of my favorite passages occurs on pages 44-49, where Pastor Wurmbrand told about a regular experience he had in prison:

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners, as it is in captive nations today. It was understood that whoever was caught doing received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their terms. It was a deal: we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching; they were happy beating us–so everyone was happy” (Wurmbrand, 2013 p.44).

As I continue reading Tortured for Christ, Pastor Wurmbrand shares a powerful account of Christian courage amidst unimaginable suffering. He recounts instances where fellow believers, while sharing the gospel with fellow prisoners, were brutally interrupted and beaten. Yet, remarkably, when these damaged preachers were returned to their cells, they would adjust themselves and ask their listeners, “‘Now, brethren, where did I leave off when I was interrupted?’ And they would continue their gospel message!” (Wurmbrand, 2013, p. 45).

This ongoing pattern of resilience and unwavering commitment is deeply convicting. It prompts me to reflect on my own faith journey: How am I being persecuted for my Savior? How am I willing to endure hardship and sacrifice for Him?

As I sit in my comfortable recliner, surrounded by my Bible and prayer journal, I recognize that my everyday disciplines must also be my sacrifice. Diligently praying, remaining faithful to God’s Word, nurturing my children’s love for their Savior, sacrificially loving my husband, living selflessly, taming my prideful tongue, discerning truth from lies, and walking in grace and tenderness toward others—these are my offerings. Although I may not face physical torment for my faith, I can strive to hold fast to it in a world that constantly pulls me away.

Tortured for Christ serves as a powerful reminder that faith transcends circumstances, and our commitment to truth remains steadfast even when we are not physically beaten or bruised. May we, too, continue our gospel message, undeterred by obstacles, and stand firm in our Savior.

My cross is to live out my faith in a world of comfort—a challenge no less significant than enduring the confines of a dirty prison cell. Perhaps, in this free, wealthy, and comfortable world, crucifying myself proves to be a more demanding task than bearing literal stripes upon my back from another’s whip.

Another lesson from the book resonates deeply: the pettiness that sometimes plagues believers in the free world. Richard Wurmbrand explains that the persecuted church renders our comfortable churches void and meaningless by comparison:

“The Bible verses are not well known in many countries, because Bibles are not permitted. Besides, the preacher had most likely been in prison for years without a Bible…They are like Job who said that he would believe in God even if He would slay him. They are like Jesus who called God “Father,’ even when He was seemingly forsaken on the cross” (Wurmbrand, 2013, p. 89).

As an American Christian, surrounded by stacks of Bibles on my shelves, Bible apps bursting with biblical podcasts on my phone, and a collection of books written by believers spanning centuries, one might assume that I’ve been blessed with abundant opportunities to follow Christ. Yet, in the light of a man who possesses no Bible, no church, and no Christian books or podcasts—laying on the cold floor of his prison cell for the sake of his beloved Savior—I feel like a very small believer indeed.

This stark contrast has given me profound perspective on what truly matters. Believers in persecuted countries don’t have the luxury to engage in disagreements over worship styles, Bible translations, or the role of women in church leadership. The causes we often prioritize in our comfortable Christian churches can sometimes distract us from the essence of the gospel. It’s a sobering reminder that our focus should remain on Christ and His mission.

In a world where self-promotion is rampant, may we humbly seek to live out our faith, bearing witness to the love and sacrifice of our Savior. Let us prioritize what truly matters and hold fast to the precious gospel, regardless of our circumstances.

Believers universally agree on the centrality of Christ and the grace poured out on their souls for salvation. Their hunger for fellowship with other believers drives them to meet faithfully, even at the cost of imprisonment or death. In stark contrast, the persecuted church makes every American Christian appear feeble by comparison.

Truth be told, if I did not rest entirely in Christ’s atonement on my behalf—despite the ease and sinfulness of the world I inhabit—I would seriously question the security of my own soul. It is not by my own efforts but by His grace that I stand. Otherwise, I might be tempted to flee to a country where suffering for His sake would honor Him more profoundly.

In this contemplation, my heart zeroes in on the crux of the matter: it is all about Him. With every poignant testimony I encounter in Pastor Wurmbrand’s book, I glimpse the worthiness of Christ. Yes, He merits every sufferer’s pain and every martyr’s death. Jesus is immeasurably precious to those who love Him, compelling us to daily pick up our cross and follow Him. Whether that cross resembles the chains of a prison cell or the comfort of our lives, both serve as reminders of our devotion to honor Him who carried and died on the cross that was meant for me.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast
save in the death of Christ, my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them through his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.  -Isaac Watts

Nursing Little Ones Back To Health

When there is someone sick in our home, I have learned that there are multiple types of illness and multiple types of treatments. I keep an assortment of things on hand to help speed healing and ease discomfort.

Bone Broth:

I always cook down poultry bones to create a rich stock. I freeze it in flat plastic freezer bags or pressure can it for later use.

When a child is sick, I warm up the broth with a touch of salt and garlic powder. For a heartier option, I add chicken meat and veggies to turn it into a comforting soup.


While I don’t always keep crackers on hand, I make sure to have them available when a child is suffering from a stomach bug.

Crackers are gentle on a recovering stomach and serve as a bland, easy-to-digest first food. I opt for whole-grain varieties with low sugar content.

Alternatively, rice cakes or dry wholesome cereals can also work well in this situation.

Raw Honey:

For sore throats or coughs, I add honey to tea. Raw honey acts as a natural cough suppressant.

Interestingly, pediatricians often recommend honey over cough medicine due to its effectiveness and lack of frightening side effects.

Raw honey is also rich in antioxidants, which may speed up healing in the body.

Note that honey is not suitable for children under one year old, so alternative methods are necessary for babies recovering from coughs and sore throats.

Yogurt and Kefir:

Probiotics play a vital role in combating bacterial infections. Most ear and sinus infections, as well as stomach bugs, are bacteria-related.

If my child is able to eat, I try to incorporate yogurt or kefir into their diet. These probiotic-rich foods support gut health.

In cases where antibiotics are necessary, I ensure they are taken alongside probiotics to maintain a healthy balance.


  • Chamomile Tea: A soothing choice to calm children and promote restful sleep.
  • Peppermint or Ginger Tea: These teas work wonders for settling upset stomachs.
  • Senna Tea: Helpful for easing constipation.
  • Licorice Root Tea (e.g., Throat Coat): Ideal for soothing sore throats.
  • Milk Thistle Tea: During nursing, I relied on this tea to boost milk supply.


  • Baobab Powder: A potent antioxidant rich in vitamin C. I incorporate it into smoothies and drinks for overall healing support.
  • Matcha Tea Powder: Known for its healing benefits, I mix matcha into smoothies, cold drinks, or warm teas for both myself and my children.


  • Vitamin C Powder: A staple in my home. I blend a small amount with stevia and natural flavoring extracts (like cherry, pineapple, or coconut). Sometimes, I add matcha or baobab powder for an immunity-boosting sip throughout the day.
  • Vitamin D and B: Both of these vitamins build up the immune system and speed up a person’s recovery. I sometimes supplement with them if the illness is severe, like flu.


While I prefer natural remedies, I recognize the value of medicines when needed.

  • Acetaminophen (Dye-Free): My choice for relieving pain without unnecessary additives. The Genexa brand is reliable.
  • Ibuprofen (Dye-Free): If necessary, I use this to address both pain and inflammation.

Both medications are my last resort, especially when a fever becomes concerning or a child experiences noticeable discomfort.

Essential Oils:

In our home, I approach essential oils with great care. Essential oils’ side effects and long-term impact remain insufficiently understood, which prompts me to exercise caution. While I appreciate their potential benefits, I use them only when there’s a specific need. Here’s how I navigate their use:

  • Lavender Oil-A doctor once cautioned me that even lavender oil can mimic estrogen in the human body, similar to soy products and BPA, so I do not add this to baths or diffuse anymore. However, I do use it for a bug bite treatment, or sometimes to help relax neck muscles and reduce headache pain.
  • Eucalyptus for Lung Health: During allergy season, I employ a diffuser with a blend of oils, including eucalyptus. Eucalyptus helps open up the lungs and ease congestion. For severe chest congestion, I opt for a gentle eucalyptus chest rub, sometimes accompanied by hot towels or a heating pad. While opinions on this vary, I find eucalyptus to be effective and personally comfortable for occasional use.
  • Thieves Blend and Airborne Germs: When illness circulates in our home, I’m not opposed to using a blend like Thieves to combat airborne germs. Thieves oil combines various essential oils known for their antimicrobial properties.
  • Tea Tree Oil for Skin Blemishes: Tea tree oil is my go-to for healing skin blemishes. Its antiseptic qualities make it effective for minor wounds and acne. I also find it to be numbing and healing for cold sores. I dab a bit on a cotton swab and hit the cold sore with it. In a day the sore is gone.
  • Peppermint Oil for Nausea: When we travel, I apply peppermint oil to my son’s feet to ease stomach discomfort. It has anti-nausea properties.


When illness strikes, proper hydration becomes paramount. As a mother, I’ve learned the importance of keeping my children well-hydrated during sickness. Here are some strategies I employ:

  • Mineral Salt Water: Instead of reaching for a bottle of Gatorade, I opt for a simple solution: mineral salt in water. This natural alternative provides essential minerals without the added dyes and sugar.
  • Plain Water: Sometimes, the basics work best. Plain water, whether chilled or warm, remains a reliable choice. Staying hydrated with water is fundamental to recovery.
  • Lemon Water: Lemons are detoxifiers and rich in vitamin C. I often make lemonade by squeezing fresh lemon juice into water and adding a touch of Stevia for sweetness. Warm lemon water can also soothe a sick child’s throat.
  • Juice in Moderation: While I’m cautious about juice due to its sugar content, I recognize its benefits. Cranberry and grape juices are nutrient-rich, but I dilute them slightly to reduce the sugar load. Apple and orange juices, when watered down, still provide flavor and vitamin C.
  • Frozen Hydration: Chopped ice is an effective way to keep children hydrated during bouts of vomiting or diarrhea. Natural fruit popsicles also serve as cooling treats that provide slow hydration for kids recovering from upset stomachs or fevers.

Non-Food Treatments:

  • Humidifiers: These devices are the nemesis of cold viruses. They also work wonders for soothing sore throats during the night. I keep a couple of humidifiers—one for each room—especially when multiple children are sick.
  • Steam Showers: When sinuses are congested or throats are sore, steam showers work wonders. I’ve even held my babies in the shower to benefit from the steam.
  • Epsom Salt Baths: For fever relief and overall comfort, I add Epsom salt to warm baths. It helps detoxify the body, absorb magnesium, and soothe body aches.

Rest is crucial for healing. I ensure my children take naps and go to bed early when they’re unwell. The severity of the illness determines the amount of time spent in bed.

What We Avoid

When illness strikes, our home follows specific guidelines to support recovery. Here’s what we avoid:

  • Sugar: Sugar suppresses the immune system and provides fuel for bacteria and viruses (including cancer cells). It also depletes vitamins. To expedite recovery, we minimize sugar intake. However, there are exceptions. Raw honey, despite its fructose content, soothes sore throats and coughs. The benefits often outweigh the risks. Occasionally, we use medicine containing sweeteners or allow crackers, unsweetened juice, or a bit of Gatorade (in cases of severe dehydration). These options contain sugars, but we weigh their immediate benefits against the concerns.
  • Milk: Except for breast milk in nursing babies, we avoid regular milk during illness. Milk doesn’t hydrate the body effectively and can exacerbate fevers. Its lactose content (a form of sugar) doesn’t aid speedy healing.
  • Heavy Foods and Meals: Sick individuals in our home avoid heavy meals. While we invite children to eat with the family during meals (if they’re well enough to sit), we don’t insist they consume what everyone else does. Instead, we allow them to sip on tea, have crackers, and be selective until they’re ready for more substantial food.





Comforting Sick Children

It is that season again…the one when it seems everyone is getting sick. I find from Christmas until March, it is not at all uncommon for little ones to get sick a lot. And so it began for us last week with one of my daughters getting a cold, now my youngest is sporting a fever and headache.

As I nurse my little ones back into health, I recall what it was like for me when I was sick as a child. Honestly, I kind of liked being sick as a child, not because I enjoyed feeling fevered or congested, but because my mother would treat me so tenderly. I could stay the entire day in bed and be served food on a tray. I would get checked on in the night. There were no electronics when I was a child, and our family did not own a television, but my mother had a special bag she kept aside for her children when they were sick. It had coloring books, puzzles, and some interesting toys we didn’t see any other time. Mom kept an old school bell in that bag too, that she would give us to ring if we needed her day or night while we were sick. When my Daddy would get home from work he would come check us and tell us how sorry he was that we felt bad.

The comfort and care I received as a child during the times I was sick, have endured as sweetness in my heart. I felt loved and cared for all the time, but those times I was sick, I was able to feel it a bit more.

When I hit college, and ended up in the college medical facility with a fever, I quickly found that being sick was not so warm and fuzzy. I had a nurse check on me on occasion and that was it. There was nothing to do but sleep and get well. The people around me were doing there jobs, but really did not care about me in any tender sort of way. I really grieved the loss off pampering when I was sick as an adult. Growing up is a good thing, but it comes with its losses and griefs as well. The warmth of loving memories as a child, is certainly something I will never cease to be grateful for.

As much as I was sad to receive grown-up care from that time on, until now, the tenderness and concern of how my parents treated me when I was sick lives through me to my children.

I was also surprised to learn that not every parent coddles their sick children. I know books have probably been written about toughening up children and such, but I believe the toughest child is the child who knows and feels loved unconditionally. And I don’t want calloused, unfeeling children. I want to raise children who are inwardly strong, confident, and resilient. This takes wisdom I know, but it also takes a lot of gentle loving.

Having a sick child (or even husband) is an opportunity to give snuggles, slow down, fix off-menu food like cereal for dinner, and show the deep seeded compassion for a person in discomfort.

Nothing will bring more healing and joy to a soul who knows and feels deeply loved and cared for while he or she is not well.

As I throw my heart into nursing my children or spouse back to health, I feel as though the affection of what my parents poured into me still pours out of me toward my children.

I wake up multiple times a night to feel fevered foreheads and make sure my little ones drink some sips of water. I let them take showers or baths several times in one day to let the steam sooth their sore throats or Epsom salt clam their fevered muscles. I take them soup and crackers to their beds. They are allowed a tablet or Nintendo Switch to play games, but are also given a good long nap in the afternoon. Chopped ice can be given for them to suck on, warm honey tea for healing and calming, cold washcloths to wipe their sweaty heads, and I rush to their sides to tell them it will be okay when they are holding a trash can with an upset stomach.

There is absolutely no scolding of a sick child, and certainly I do my best to keep them happy.

One might say I overdue the pampering, but I know from experience, it is a fantastic time to pour into my children affection and love. I also know, time will come soon enough when there will be no one to fix their tea or wipe their sweaty heads when they are sick. And perhaps the love and affection they feel now, will come to mind in those days, and they will be able to find comfort in knowing how much they are loved. So, for a season, I get time to love on my sick little ones and give their not only their bodies, but their hearts the much needed care as they recover.

Homeschooling Will Not Save Them


On our walk today, we chanced upon some other home-schooling friends and I had a most interesting, yet troubling conversation with one of the mothers.

As we chatted, I learned that my new friend moved into the area a few months ago. In that time, she and her husband had been looking for a church. She sweetly stated that they were not faithful at attending church, but were hoping to find a home church soon and become more faithful. I quickly encouraged her aspiration. And our conversation turned to the subject of modern health-care, then laws, then our deeply broken culture.

She commented how grateful she was to be able to home-school as health-care and culture around her crumbled. The more we talked, the more distance my heart grew from her, as I realized our purpose in life was not the same. Even though she was a believer, she did not rest in God’s sovereignty for her children’s future. She was hoping home-schooling would protect them from the evils within and without.

Growing up as a home-schooler, my new friend was not believing any new lie. It was the same old philosophy I heard from home-schoolers throughout my entire life. The flaw was in parents trusting in home-schooling (basically themselves), rather than trusting in God for the spiritual well-being of their children.

No, it is not new at all that parents rely on how their children are raised and educated to be the redeeming factor in their children’s lives. Even if it is not home-schooling, many parents enroll their children in public or Christian schools for terribly wrong reasons. When I was in Christian college, there were a lot of students there, who were forced to go their as a last resort of their parents to fix the souls of their children. Christian schools are no different today. And I would venture to say that home-schooling is equally at fault. It is the belief in something other than God, to “fix” a child.

I have had many interactions with other home-schoolers throughout my life.  And can personally attest, there are great majority of homeschool parents who home-school out of a heart of fear. In fact, my heart was once in such a place of fearful control. So I completely get the underlying fear of the secular world. Home-schooling can be seen as simply a way for parents to have complete control of their children’s lives. For some parents, that is not the purpose of home-schooling, but for others, that absolutely is. Much more could be said on that account, but a discussion on a person’s need to “control” is another subject for another time.

Homeschooling is a way parents can control input into their children’s lives. Homeschool is a way parents can limit their children’s exposure to the secular world. Homeschooling becomes a way parents can indoctrinate their children with their faith. Homeschooling becomes the way parents protect their children from sin and the influences of the world and help them be good Christians.

Is any of that wrong? We could quibble that those home-schooling parents certainly are well intentioned and not unloving in their pursuit for what is best for their children, but Scripture says that: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” John 14:6.

Christ is the ONLY source of hope for our children’s souls. That goal must be our first pursuit as parents. When I say our primary pursuit, it is most important that it is our personal pursuit. We must pray for our children as we strive to walk with God ourselves. Nothing is of more value for our children than our relationship with God. We must be faithful in studying and memorizing Scripture. We must seek out a church that is also faithful to God’s Word (not one that has a bunch of home-schoolers with the same life values as us). We must be faithful to Christ who sacrificed his precious blood for us: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25.

The trouble lies, when parents put their trust in for their children’s future in home-education and do not prioritize the church (not just “like-minded” homeschoolers). My new friend, was so comforted to know her children were being home-schooled and not pressured to be in the system of the world. Yet, she forsook the biblical command of fellowshipping with other believers. I cannot reconcile that thinking with Scripture. My new friend, could not possibly attempt to lead her children to Christ, if she herself did not lean into Him herself. Other home-schoolers and home-school groups are not the church. They may be believers, but being under the biblical direction and ministry of Elders at a local church is biblical. Home-schooling (dare I say it) is not. Homeschooling is a method of education, not our faith.

Homeschooling families often find safety, security, and hope in their home-schooling. Honestly, nothing could be more dangerous in my mind. I was home-schooled. A lot of my friends were home-schooled too. The vast majority of them are no longer followers of Christ. In fact, we have seen the results of a few home-school Christian leaders such as Joshua Harris who were home-educated and then choose not to follow Christ.

I would be the first to shout out from the mountain tops that home-schooling does not a soul save!

I would rather my children attended the worst, most liberal, public school in the land and had a heart for God, than were educated at my wonderful, safe, God-centered dining room table, and neglected Christ. God is just as capable to save a soul of a child in public school as He can save a home-schooled child’s soul.

Ok, Time-Out: I love home-schooling. I love being a part of my children’s education. I love watching them learn. I love answering their questions about God, life, and why the sky is blue. I love seeing them develop and grow. I love the flexibility we have as we learn. I love being able to talk about our wonderful Creator, our precious Savior and great God as we walk through our subjects in school or pound a loaf of bread. I love guiding my children into acts of kindness and hospitality. It is truly a great gift and privilege that I have to be able to home-school.

But I do choose a church because there are a lot of home-school families in it. I choose a church because it is founded on the truth of God’s Word. I fellowship with others because they are believers, not because they home-school. I want my children to be around a variety of believers…not just home-schoolers. As believers, we all need each others differences. We will not grow, and think well if we only surround ourselves with people who are just like us. My world is not about home-schooling. It is about Christ.

The church is a biblical institution….home-schooling is not. The church is whom we are called to fellowship with. Some of the church will home-school their children like me, and others will not. We are called to live a life of self-sacrifice. That means even building relationships with people who are very different from us. It is the easy thing to limit our children’s exposure and control their input and friendships. And I will be the first to say, that I am the guardian of what and who comes in to the lives of my children. That is wise parenting. However, I choose to walk with my children and help them think through how to get along with children who are unsaved or raised differently than themselves. It is a good teaching tool. I do not send them to public school to let them deal with it on their own. The day they enter the world will come soon enough, but until then, I have the privilege of walking with them as they are exposed and learn about different thoughts and life philosophies.

For instance, our walk with my new home-school friend a few weeks ago, was an incredibly interesting conversation with my older girls who were present to hear it. We could talk about how too many home-schoolers do not value the church, want to submit to its leadership, are critical of any believer who has different values than their own, or control fellowship to only those who are the same. My children and I were able to have a meaningful and vibrant conversation as a result of talking with someone who home-schooled like us, but for very different reasons than us. We have had so many conversations about thing our unsaved neighbor children have said or done, friends in youth group, or even comments from family members that are on a different page.

My goal, is not to point my children to MY standards or beliefs, but always point them to Scripture for their source of truth. I say over and over….”what does Scripture say about this?” Sometimes, I Scripture has no straightforward answer, and I must leave the choice open. and say, it is a matter of personal conviction.

Like how we choose too or not too celebrate Halloween. I let them know that when they grow up, they will have to pray about it and decide for themselves how and what to do about such things that are not doctrinal issues. But preference and areas of personal conviction; someday, that may even include whether or not they will home-school their children.