Perspective On Body Image From of a Queen

“….Now the young woman was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Esther 2:7b

How often we read in Scripture that a woman was very beautiful…Sari, Rebekah, Rachel, Bathsheba, and Job’s daughters, are a few such examples.

We also read in Scripture of a woman who was not physically beautiful: Leah, Jacob’s first wife. “Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance” Genesis 29:17.

I wonder how many times Leah or Esther looked at her reflection and wished she was different. Leah, perhaps longed to be pretty, so she would be loved. And Esther may have wished that she was not so beautiful and therefore not forced into marriage with a pagan king.

Yet, it is God who created both women to look exactly as they were meant to look “for such a time as this” Esther 4:13-14.

As I reflect on God’s complete sovereignty over every detail of His creation, I am assured that Esther was not beautiful by chance, but created by God to fulfill the exact purpose He had planned for her life. Had Esther not have been stunning in her appearance, she would not have entered the courts of the King. Not only did she enter the king’s courts, but it is evident that she also took his heart by storm. As a result of having the affections of the king, Esther was empowered to respectfully appeal to her husband king, resulting in the redemption of her people from slaughter. Esther’s beauty was crucial in the design God had ordained for her life.

And like Esther, God made Leah exactly how she needed to look in order to bring Him incredible glory as a mother of His chosen people. Leah was not beautiful and was not chosen by anyone for a wife. Though not chosen by a man, God gave Leah a husband. Though unloved, God gave Leah children. One of Leah’s son’s was Judah. The lineage of Israel’s kings were formed from Judah’s lineage. Leah was indeed a queen; a mother of kings. From David, to our Precious King, Redeemer Himself, God chose Leah to be the mother of the greatest, and most royal tribe in the entire earth! God could have used any woman to fulfill that role, but God chose the lowly, the unloved, and the broken-hearted Leah. What an incredible picture of the gospel that paints…impossible without Leah’s homely appearance.

Psalm 139:13-14 states that it was God who personally “formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

As that verse states, from Eve to Me.. little Rebecca, every detail of every person’s genetic code has not happened by chance, but by a purposeful design.

I glance at my full length mirror and my thoughts can rejoice. Because, like Leah, and like Esther, Scripture tells me, my physical appearance is absolutely perfect.

Vogue will tell me I am too fat. It will tell me my clothes are outdated. Vogue will tell me my nose is funny shaped and my complexion rough and too uneven. Vogue will pick me apart until I feel beauty is unattainable and I am probably less than average in appearance. Vogue will make me unhappy with my body. Following the world’s idea of beauty will bring ingratitude and turn my joy to self-criticism.

Scripture tells me, I am made by God’s own hand. Scripture tells me, I am personally designed by God. Not only does Scripture say I am designed by God, but I am an image bearer of the Sovereign Creator/Ruler of all mankind. In Scripture, I learn to love the body I have, because I learn to love my Creator so much that I completely embrace the beautiful body He created for me to serve Him with. Why? Because the One whom I love, made it!

My little girl loves to make me drawings. She pulls out paper and markers, leans over the paper for a bit, creating something special. Then she plops the picture down on the table in front of me. “This is for you Mommy.” I truly, and deeply love the picture she made me. I do not critique it in any way. It is perfect in my eyes because it was made by the little girl I dearly love.

Do I not dearly love my Creator? Why then, would I ever stand in front of a mirror critiquing the form He gave me? Why would I not simply care for it, cherish it, enjoy it, and accept in overflowing gratitude?

Joy and happiness ought to fill my soul every time I stand in front of a mirror. I am looking at His handiwork!

There is so much peace in holding fast to God’s sovereignty in my created form.

Peace with my genetics: I can be at peace that God has designed every cell of my body to act and look exactly how it should in order for me to fulfill the plan He has purposed for my existence. Whether I am tall or short, whether my metabolism is slow or fast, whether I am pale with freckles or a rich chocolaty brown, my being was made on purpose, by God.

Joy in my God given image: I can freely embrace the image God has given me without regrets. From my frizzy head of curls, freckles, dusty blue eyes, and knobby bones…everything in my body was made to be as it is for a divine purpose. Yes, my head of frizzy hair serves an eternal purpose! That thought alone, brings me amusement, and yet, amazement to think that God has ordained absolutely every detail in this entire world to the point that the kind of hair He has given to me is not without its place in His design.

No need of envy: A woman who believes her body was made by God’s perfect design cannot step back and envy those she believes are more beautiful than herself. In essence all bodies are equal in value. Each person has been perfectly made to do the work God has set before him or her. I was created with the height, face, and features I a have by my Father/Creator. He knows what is best for me, more others, and for Himself (He is worthy), in His flawless design of my body.

My Deep love for God, allows me to enjoy my body without desire to change it: Just as my little girl has freely given me the drawing, she wants me to enjoy it, but would be deeply hurt if I took my sharpie and changed things about it that I didn’t like. No, her art cannot, and should not be changed just because it now belongs to me. Because I love her, I have no desire to alter my daughter’s gift without concern of insult and hurt to her little heart. In comparison, my body is still, and always will be God’s work of art, despite it belonging to me, it still is His. So yes, as I would a piece of beloved art, my body is mine to enjoy, but I do not own the copyright for it. And because I love God so dearly, I really have no desire to alter the image He has given me. It is perfect in my eyes.

Honoring the body honors the Creator: As I would honor my daughter by taking her picture and putting it in a frame, or sticking it to the fridge I can bring honor to my Creator by how I respect the body He has given me. Keeping my body clean, safe, well nourished, dressed respectfully, and well groomed are some of the ways I can show respect to my body. There is freedom to color and curl hair, apply make-up, and attempt to conceal the earthly wear and tear on the physical form God gave me. There is also freedom to embrace earthly scars and age. Both are honorable. More importantly than bodily care, is that I speak honorably about my body and other God’s created images. To degrade a human body with crude speech or complaints dishonors the One who made it.

Permission to feel beautiful: I truly am made in an amazing way by God’s divine hand.  There is nothing virtuous about complaining about our human form. God made this body, and it was made to worship and glorify Him!

Complaining is the complete opposite of worship. If I truly hold to the fact that God has created my body on purpose and with intentional design, I am wrong to critique HIS work. Now, granted, this body is altered from perfection by sin. It will show the signs of decay that will someday complete its course. In aging and entropy there is beauty, because it causes my eyes to look to the eternal future I am promised. May my gray hair and wrinkles, aching joints, and scars only serve to point me to the promise of eternal glory. And may every thought of imperfections brought on by this sinful, dying world, point me to ponder the perfect everlasting world beyond time.

We Don’t Drink Alcoholic Beverages. Why?

I was taught that all wine in biblical times was actually grape-juice. Knowing history of those times, it is funny to think that many Christians  believed and still believe that.

Many of the Christian cultures in the past have done their best to biblically address the use of alcohol, but it remains a struggle for many today as to what is or is not correct.

My husband and I have both talked extensively about the subject of alcohol drinking. It is not something we take lightly. We have wonderful, Christian friends and family who drink alcoholic beverages. We also have wonderful Christian friends and family who are adamantly apposed to drinking anything alcohol.

As a general rule, we have chosen not to drink alcoholic beverages. He have both tried these adult beverages, so we do not condemn drinking, but as an area of personal conviction for us, not for all Christians, we have chosen not to make drinking alcoholic beverages a part of our lives.

Here is why:

  1. It isn’t necessary. There are things in life that are essential for the body to thrive. A person can live in good health without drinking those drinks. Wine may have its health benefits, but it isn’t necessary. Socially, it is isn’t needed. People are very understanding toward those who chose not to drink. I even venture to say that there is more social grace toward people who don’t drink alcoholic beverages than those who do not eat gluten.
  2. It isn’t kind. My husband and I have family members whose lives have been destroyed by alcoholism. Whether loss by drunk driving, suicide, or family brokenness…when something has had such a destructive power in the lives of others that we love, it is in a way, making light of their trouble to partake of it casually. We also have close friends who come to our home regularly have been or still are going through AA. I feel it is not supportive of their journey for me to have alcohol in our home for their sake.
  3. It is dangerous. Alcoholic beverages can be addictive. Some people require them to make it through the day. Alcohol can be a coping mechanism, which is never right for to replace God with a drink. Alcoholism has been the root of so many deaths by causing illness, cancer, auto accidents, rage, and abuse.
  4. It could cause my loved ones to stumble. There are people in our lives who watch us. If those people, such as my children, and friends see that we drink, they may think that…”If they can, so can I.” That may not be true. I do not want my example to guide anyone into a place of temptation.

Now, my reasons are for my husband and I in our home. And one might notice, not one of those reasons is Bible verse based. I am not preaching or pointing out passages of Scripture to prove my decision. This is an area of conviction in our lives as we strive to best love others. We believe it is not a sin to drink wine or alcohol (Permitting one does not get drunk), but for us, it is not a way we feel best loves others. So we chose not to drink.

What is in my Freezer?

My freezer is a life-saver for food storage. I have the freezer attached to my kitchen fridge and a large outdoor freezer for bulk items.

In my large freezer, I keep things that I do not use on a daily basis.

Today, I have:

4 turkeys: I can get turkeys for less than a dollar a pound during the holidays. They have so much meat and can be thawed to grill in the summer or cooked for soups and casseroles throughout the year. Sometimes, I will pull one out July 25, for a Christmas in July dinner.

10# Brown Jasmine Rice: I buy brown rice in bulk from Azure Standard (not a sponsor). Brown rice is a wonderful whole grain and a great source of fiber. We usually eat rice at least two times a week. It is great, healthy side and works well with a lot of different dishes. I store the rice is quart or gallon Ziplock bags. Rice does not need to be frozen, but I buy it in 30-50# bags and like to know it is in a place where bugs cannot get into it or rodents will not bite through bags.

20# Gluten Free Oats: We do not eat gluten free, but we have people in our home every week who cannot eat it, so to keep things simple, I just buy 30-50# in bulk from Azure Standard. It keeps things simple if when I bake items, such as apple crisp, oat bars, or oatmeal cookies. I freeze oats to keep them from going rancid and to keep out unwanted critters.

10 gallons of bags full of frozen chicken stock. I make my own chicken stock. I like to can it, so it is easy to use, so on occasion I will gather up all my stock into one big pot and can it. But I also find it easy to freeze stock in flat in quart or gallon freezer bags and just melt it to use.

My indoor freezer is where I keep items I use frequently. Like some people, there are items that I buy on occasion like frozen juice pop-cycles for the children in the summer, or that my husband will buy, such as ice cream or toaster strudels.

On a regular basis, the staples I keep in my freezer part of the refrigerator are:

Frozen bananas: I skin and put browning bananas in a freezer bag. I use them later for banana bread or smoothies.

Frozen Berries: I keep bulk bags of strawberries and blueberries. They are usually used for smoothies, but occasionally, I will have a bowl of frozen fruit as a healthy sweet or mix them in plain yogurt with a little stevia for a quick frozen yogurt,

Frozen Vegetables: I buy most of our produce fresh, but I do keep frozen peas and frozen corn regularly. Fresh corn on the cob is hard work  and not always in season. And my children love to eat frozen peas as a vegetable at dinner. That is right! I don’t even cook them. I put them frozen from a bag into a bowl and the children really like them that way. I do buy frozen broccoli and carrots on occasion, but fresh is usually so close in price it is not a money saver. Peas and corn are usually a dollar or less per bag and easy to serve when my fresh produce is running low.

Frozen Ground Beef: I buy organic, grass-fed ground beef in three packs on sale. I choose organic, mainly because I know it doesn’t have added hormones. Since there are four females in our home, I consider hormone health a priority. I settled on organic beef for that reason.

Frozen Ground Turkey: Poultry does not have added hormones whether it is organic or not, so I do not seek out the organic poultry. Ground turkey can be bought in a 1lb. roll at Aldi for a little less than 3$ a pound. It is lean, cheap, and an easy meat to use. I like it for tacos and chili.

Frozen Fish: If our budget allows, I will buy frozen wild caught salmon. Right now, I have frozen cod in the freezer, but in general I like to keep salmon due to its high omega. Sockeye salmon is my first choice because of its supreme health benefits, but I will often settle for less expensive options, rather than have no fish at all.

Frozen Chicken: I buy whole chickens, rarely pre-cut chicken parts. Whole chickens can be stewed, grilled, or roasted easily. A whole chicken can work for a couple meals for our family. I use the bones to make stock once the meat has been eaten.

Frozen Meals: The meals I have in our freezer are usually home-made, but I do buy fish sticks or chicken nuggets on occasion. I like try to get the healthiest options I can find, but they are not a staple, so I don’t feel bad having a quick meal for those days when I need an emergency plan. My children are big enough to heat the oven and warm up breaded fish or chicken. Usually, when I make a casserole or chili or something. I will double the recipe and freeze half. Or serve it one time, (like chili) and put the rest in the freezer for another day. Those meals are nice to pull out to give to someone in need, or use ourselves when I don’t have ingredients or a good meal plan.

Bacon: Bacon is a great meat to have on hand. I usually buy it in bulk. I can serve it up with pancakes, or use it in cooking. It makes the ordinary seem special just by its presence. I try to get brands that have little to no sugar and as few ingredients as possible too. I do not worry about nitrites and nitrates. As long as the bacon isn’t blackened, those are not necessarily carcinogen.

Nuts: I keep a lot of nuts on hand for snacking mostly, but I do use them for baking and salads as well. I usually have walnuts, slivered almonds, and pecans. I pour bulk bags of nuts into jars and freeze the nuts to keep the nut oils fresh until I need to refill my pantry nut jars.

Yeast and Xanthium Gum: I keep these two items in the freezer to preserve their freshness. It is simply where they must be stored. I do not use xanthium gum much, but for gluten-free recipes it comes in handy on occasion.

That wraps it up! My freezer is certainly a very important part of our kitchen. It saves us money as well as allows me to have items on hand for a quick meal.




Our Two Parenting Principles

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.

And the second is like itYou shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40


Before my husband and I had our first child, we narrowed our child-training to 2 basic goals: To strive to raise children who 1. Love God and 2. Love Others.

Both of those goals have been the guidelines for all our our child-training choices.

We home-school, because that gives us the greatest opportunity to pour Christ into our children…especially on a very small budget.

We memorize Scripture as a family and for school, we teach our children hymns, we point them to God’s grace when we need to discipline them.

I buy books that will help them fall in love with Jesus more and more. Books by C.S. Lewis are particularly amazing in that way.

We encourage our children to have older friends to help mentor them and encourage them in their faith.

We talk about God, we read Scripture.

My oldest child just started youth group. And we have told her, that we are allowing her to attend because we believe it will help her grow in her love for God by hearing more about Him and developing relationships with other people who love Him. But we also told her that if we find it is becoming just a social event and that we are not seeing good fruit coming from her time at youth group. We will pull her out, at least for a season. Even youth-group, which many parents don’t give much thought about, must serve the purpose of helping our children learn love God and others.

I do not like the word “indoctrinate” because that connotates the idea of forceful education. I want my children to grab onto the amazement of God on their own. I only provide a feast of opportunity for them to learn about Him and be amazed.


Teaching my children to love others is a bit more practical and incorporates a lot of habit training.

When my children were very little, I worked with them to be quiet and still in church. I know a lot of parents would not bother, but I would tell them things like: “Do not talk to mommy. Mommy is trying to listen and that is unkind.” or “Do not be so loud. You will bother the people around you.”

I think a lot of folks would say that they are just little and such strictness is not necessary. But I do not expect people to accommodate my children. I expected my children to accommodate other people. 

If we go for a play-date with friends, I insists my children put away what they have gotten out. I might tell them on the way over. “After you play, I want you to pick up. You would not like it if someone came to our house and left their mess for you to pick up. So don’t leave your mess for others.” That is something my children understand well, because they have had to pick up often after their friends leave.

I expect good behavior when we visit other people. If my children are naughty. I do not give excuses for them. I never tell others, “He is just tired.” or “This is the result of too much sugar.” or even, “I think she isn’t feeling well.” I believe that giving excuses for my children’s bad behavior is not only a lack of respect to those I am with, but terribly wrong teaching for my child who will learn that it is “ok” not be unkind or grumpy if I don’t feel good.

I hold high expectations of my children because I am not raising children. I am raising adults. If a behavior such as crawling over the arm of a sofa, or picking one’s nose, or not answering when being spoken too, is NOT acceptable behavior for a thirty-year-old, it is not acceptable behavior for at three-year-old.

Teaching children to love others is hard work, and takes forethought. I find I do a lot of pre-event or pre-visit talks, like: “Be sure to say ‘thank you.’ Mrs. Boo has spent a lot of time getting ready for our visit today. I know you might not like everything she is having for dinner, but do not say a word about it. Be grateful for her hard work and eat a bite of everything she serves.” or “We have never been to the Doo’s House before. Please notice or ask if you should take off your shoes indoors.”

In any case, there is scenario after scenario we could walk through together, but everyone has different situations and I cannot predict what other people might need to prepare their children for. I do know it really helps make visits easier for me, for our host, and for my children if we talk about things before we go.

So, opening my children’s eyes to love them with a heart of compassion and understanding is an ongoing journey. In fact, it is something I still mess-up at doing myself.

In any case, teaching children to love God and Others will not happen on its own. It takes fore-thought, purpose, and planning to cultivate the children I pray will  someday be God-loving, kind adults.


Easy Cocoa

Cocoa is a treat for a cold day. I know a mix in hot water is a super easy choice, but for a healthier choice, I like to make my own cocoa.


5 Cups Whole Milk (An unsweetened almond milk works for a dairy free/low carb choice)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups coconut sugar (1:1 sweeteners of cane sugar are suitable too. We just use coconut sugar in our home)

1 cup Dutch processed cocoa (regular works ok, but the Dutch process will make a smoother coco because it dissolves easily)(I got my last batch from Wilbur Chocolates)


  1. In a large saucepan warm ingredients, stirring with a whisk
  2. Serve

That wasn’t too hard was it? Now for those used to the powdered mix, this is nothing to compare. This cocoa is rich and true. I even enjoy it with a splash of coffee and some home-made whipped cream on a special occasion.

Welcoming My Children’s Play

Yesterday, my girls pulled out Legos and were spread out on the dining room table all afternoon. I heard them making up stories, integrating with each other’s surprising plot lines with ease, and letting their imaginations run wild. I heard happy chatter as they came up with ideas for their Legoland and cultivated a comradeship, teamwork skills and communication skills with each other.

As my children played, they were learning and practicing how to communicate, created ideas, roll with changes, create solutions to problems, keep peace with each other, compromise, build long-term attention, and work with their hands to build and create what their minds imagined.

We had spent the morning doing our school lessons, but could not teach any of that in a classroom setting. And if I had organized their play, I would have been in the way of their mental development. What my girls practiced and learned all afternoon was invaluable to their life…arguably more important that whether that list of spelling words we will have to re-visit next week.

Yes, The dining room was a mess all day, and still is today as they want to continue developing their world. But I embrace nearly any reasonable mess as for my children’s play.

My children have built doll-houses with cardboard boxes that can be an unsightly mess in any room as they pull out their dolls and accessories to use in cardboard boxes.

The other day I came in to my son’s room to see books nearly covering the floor as he was using them for paths for his cars.

Blankets and sheets drape from wall to wall at times as my children make tents and houses for their play.

Our sofa cushions are frequently pulled off to use for walls for these imaginative houses.

We embrace play-doh, finger paint, kinetic sand, and all sorts of messy substances. We have found a lot of these messier toys at Goodwill…unopened…I know some mother did not want to deal with the mess and had moved the gift on.

My children delight themselves outside in the dirt, mud, and leaves. I love seeing them good and dirty, knowing that they have played well as children should.

There is no mess that cannot be cleaned up (Well almost no mess…we have had some haunt us for years…like glitter) But no matter the pick-up, the education my children get out of extravagant, messy play is so invaluable, I count our clean-up time an investment.

Now at this point, readers will probably feel my children run wild. But we do have boundaries to play that make it reasonable.

One of those guidelines is that before another activity happens, whatever has been going on get picked up. For instance, if my children are playing with sofa cushions and blankets in the living room and the neighbor’s drop over to play. There is no going out to play until the living room has been cleaned up. How many times we have had neighbors cheerfully chip in the clean-up so the children can play together.

Another guideline is that if you don’t want to pick it up, don’t get it out. My children need to pick up whatever they get out, but they also need to think about how long they have to play and if the word to prepare for play is worth the work to clean-up.

I do not help clean-up, but I do manage the process when needed. In our home, those who mess up are the ones who clean up. I feel this is an important life-skill. So no matter how tempted I am to quickly pick up something and put it away, I will walk by and call the child who got it out to put it away. When my children were really little I did help them, but I did not do it myself, they had to do their share. My child with autism would be unable to clean up a big mess, so I would teach her to pick up things by color. Find all the red things and put them away. Then find all the yellow things. She is now my fastest cleaner. It doesn’t faze her a bit, but she needed coaching to get there.

Huevos Rancheros Scramble

Scrambled eggs are a favorite of mine, but they move to a higher level of favorite when salsa and cheese are added. I try to get veggies in for breakfast every day, so this scrambled egg recipe is a great way to add them in. It is also easy and quick which is important as a mommy of four.

2-3 eggs

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup salsa (sugar free in a can or home-made)

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use non-fat, but any is fine)

Add chopped cilantro if desired

  1. Scramble the eggs and put them in a bowl
  2. top the eggs with half the cheese
  3. Put the pan back on the stove and heat salsa
  4. Put warm salsa on scrambled eggs
  5. Top with remaining cheese
  6. Add yogurt and cilantro on top

Loving the Lonely

an elderly woman sitting on a blue armchair
Photo by cottonbro studio on

His big sisters were playing with dolls and well into their fun when my little fellow woke up from his afternoon nap.

“Mommy, I have nothing to do.” I knew those words were code for feelings he did not know how to express. He was lonely and wanting a playmate.

Loneliness is familiar to everyone on this planet. We have all experienced becoming a growing epidemic in our culture. I know we would like to point our finger to blame social distancing or technology for the surge in loneliness, but the truth is loneliness has always been among us. It isn’t about whether one is married or single, on Facebook or not, healthy or sick, rich or poor, or any particular circumstance. Loneliness can accompany anyone, at any season in life.

A little child can be lonely as he or she navigates his place in his home.

A teen can feel lonely as he or she wrestles with changes within and in his or her life.

A young bride can feel incredibly lonely as she navigates her first years of marriage.

Young mother’s feel lonely as they wrestle through the challenges of their world being consumed by little cries and little voices.

A mother can feel lonely and lost after her last child moves from the home.

Divorce, singleness, death, and crisis’ in life make people feel very much alone.

Loneliness is not about companionship. A person can be in a group of other people and still feel lonely. A wife can be in a wonderful marriage and still feel lonely. If a person feels that he or she is not seen or heard will feel lonely.

I have noticed three different causes of loneliness.

1. A person becomes lonely when he or she feels like no one understands.

2. A person will feel lonely when she or he is not truly listened to. 

3. A person feels lonely when he or she feel unnoticed, unseen, and invisible.

Sometimes just one of those reasons can be present. For some folks, all of those reasons can be combined to cause loneliness.

Life can present each person moments of internal solitude for various reasons. And it is important to note that what might make one person feel lonely, may not be an issue at all to another person. We are all different and it is good to keep that in mind when we do not understand why someone is lonely.

If we take time to consider it, we all have struggles, do struggle, and will struggle with seasons of loneliness.

As believers, it is important we can look out for each other during these seasons. Some friends may have times that last a long while or become permanent fixtures of loneliness. For others, loneliness comes and goes throughout various seasons.

Loneliness has accompanied my soul through various seasons of life. Having experienced loneliness myself, I have learned to recognize some clues in the hearts of someone else who is lonely.

My mother was good at teaching me from a young age to love lonely people. Some mothers tend to only plan visits to people who have children their own age. Although I have many memories with friends, I also have a lot of memories visiting older couples as we grew. We often would visit with widows and widowers, older couples, and those with no family. We even had some single friends live with us as they went through difficult seasons.

I too, now include a variety of ages in my children’s life. I find those relationships to be so symbiotic. Lonely people often are cheered more by my children than by me. And relationships with lonely people are an amazing training ground for my children to learn to think of other people.

Just like my mom did, I will give a synopsis of our friend before we go so my children know that person’s story. It helps my children to know how to interact with that person, and also helps them to behave well.

I might say something like this: “Mrs. Doodle’s husband died one year ago, and yesterday she just found out that she has something bad growing in her body. So we are going to take her dinner a some flowers today.” I try to make sure my children understand the seriousness and value of our visit. Generally each one of them will express compassion in some form like writing a note or giving a hug.

Just as my mother included her children in the time she spent with the lonely, my mother also taught me to recognize the symptoms of loneliness in people. I will never forget going with my mother to visit my great aunt. She was a widow and in her eighties. We spent the weekend with her. She wasn’t the same person I remembered visiting as a child. She talked without ceasing and seemed a easily agitated. When going home, I complained to my mother about my aunt. My mother’s response was simple. “She is lonely.” Then my Aunt’s behavior made complete sense. And I felt sorry for my frustration with her. I still am able to recognize symptoms of loneliness in people as a result of that visit to my Great Aunt.

Symptoms of Loneliness:

  1. Lonely people talk…a lot. Lonely people seem unconscious of another person’s time. They seem unconscious how many times a conversation has been ended and restarted. Lonely people are simply happy to linger in conversations. I have had phone conversations that lingered on and on, even as the person on the other end of the line acknowledges that they need to let me go. We had a sweet neighbor a few years ago who lived alone in her eighties. She never let us just “stop in” every visit was a sit down visit, then a tour of the stuff around the house, then she prattled on and on, and often sent us home with little trinkets or some sweets. Our sweet neighbor was lonely and just happy to have someone to listen to her.
  2. Lonely people can be persnickety. I find the critical spirit behind a person who is lonely to be a great clue into that person’s heart.  I have found that generally sweet people can become cranky if they find themselves lonely. I think of the Johanna Spyre Classic story “Heidi” and how cranky and persnickety the grandfather was before Heidi showed up into his life. He was riddled with loneliness until her companionship entered his world. No one liked him. I have seen normally cranky people soften as they are listened to, noticed, or feel understood. 
  3. Lonely people find comfort in things. We had a dear Sunday School teacher, Miss K, who lived with her mother until her mother passed. After her mother’s death, Miss K, began collecting things. Things upon things lined her small house until she was forced to move out for her safety. She was lonely. She found momentary comfort in the presence of things and so she held onto things. Lonely people can be incredible sentimental, keepers of stuff, and shopaholics. What little old widow doesn’t have her house decked out with sentiment and stuff? She is lonely, and keeping stuff reminds her of those who give or gave her respite from loneliness. In a way, she holds onto people by holding onto their photographs and their stuff.

It is normal to feel lonely. And it is okay to feel lonely. In fact ones loneliness can be a springboard to various ministry to others. I have several dear friends struggling with loneliness, but they use their loneliness as an avenue of understanding others pain, of being their for others, of providing counsel, love, and prayer.

Ministering to lowly people is truly a life-long endeavor. But it is also the backbone of how our faith in God is displayed, as we provide, without grudging, our time and resources to include, bless, and encourage those who are alone.  James 1: 27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Healthy Ramen Soup

I was introduced to Ramen noodles in college and although, I no longer crave them, my children occasionally enjoy a bowl on occasion. Most Ramen noodles are not know to be healthy. They contain wheat in the noodles, which is a common sensitivity and allergen. Packs of Ramen, also are high in sodium, non-food ingredients, and even can have MSG, which is safest to avoid.

I recently began purchasing Lotus Foods Organic Rice Ramen Noodles. I use the Forbidden, Millet and Rice, and Jade Pearl noodles. I cook them in my own chicken stock and add a variety of proteins or veggies.

Here is a basic recipe that I might throw together for lunch:



1 Ramen Noodle Cake

1 &1/2 cup finely chopped veggies (carrots, celery, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower…really whatever you have in the fridge-though I personally would not use beets or potatoes). I like color, so choose veggies of different colors if I can.

1 T. chopped red onion or scallion

2 cups chicken broth/stock (home-made or store bought)

1 c. protein: chopped cooked chicken, pork, or fish are best with chicken broth (if using beef, I like to use beef broth instead of chicken stock)


1/2 cup sesame seed oil

1/4 cup soy sauce (I like to use gluten free kinds)

2 t. garlic powder

1 T. ground ginger


  1. Cook broth with noodles and vegetables and meat until noodles are tender (about 5 minutes boiling)
  2. Mix sauce ingredients together and mix into soup once cooked
  3. Serve hot-can sprinkle with sesame seeds or fresh chopped cilantro

The Journey of Cultivating Good Readers

boy in gray jacket reading book
Photo by Maël BALLAND on

My source of truth is the Scripture. The Bible, is a book. If I am not a good reader, if I don’t enjoying the process of reading, or if my comprehension skills or poor, reading the Bible could be a difficult or confusing task.

I have come across many a person who struggles with loving reading the Bible, because he or she does struggles through the process of reading.

Learning to love reading comes naturally to a lot of children, but there are some children and I have two in my home, who have wrestled developing a love for reading. One of my daughters was just diagnosed with dyslexia and the other has autism. So, learning has come at a struggle for both of them. Some children just never develop a love for reading because of the home culture or school culture they were given as children.

If reading is not valued at home, one cannot expect children to learn to love it. If reading is only relegated to the formal learning environment it can often be only seen as schoolwork, and not a lifestyle.

I was one of those mothers who read to my children before they were born. I read to them before they knew what a book was. I read to them at breakfast, lunch, and bedtime. I am not saying that these reading times were without fail, but reading to my children has been a habit that has sometimes been paused due to various life circumstance such as new baby or moving, but picked back up with ease when time availed me again. Before we had a school budget, I had no money for our own books. I made regular trips to the library with my children. We made good use of library story times and librarians when my children were really young.

Although we still make regular trips to the library, I have taken time in the past five to six years to add to our home library.

I also chose a method of education, Charlotte Mason, that relies heavily on good literature, rather than textbooks for education. We have read so many good books for school, that even my love of books has grown through teaching my children with the backbone of good literature.

There are so many mothers who are book enthusiasts and have written books on books. There are you-tube channels and blogs that value reading at home and have tips and methods of developing good readers. So, my thoughts on the subject are nothing new, but I am going to mention what I have done to building a love for reading in our home. I will note, that this is certainly an ongoing process in our home, since we have a couple readers that struggle and although they readily agree to be read too, they will not generally chose to sit and read a book.

Here are some basic thoughts I had about what we did.

Our Example. My husband is dyslexic, and never received help in that area, so he really wrestles with reading a book, but throughout the past eight years, he has gone back to college for two degrees. And that has provided our children plenty of opportunity to see him with a book. I have books I am reading all over the house and am aways reading.

Reading Aloud. As mentioned earlier, both my husband and I have read to our children, even before birth. We still read to them, but this is usually done by me since I am our children’s primary teacher and am with them all day. I read to them constantly for school. Since my children are of different ages and interests, I started taking turns with each child and reading for thirty-forty minutes each day after lunch. That way, the child gets snuggling time alone with mommy, as well as a book I have carefully chosen for him or her.

Availability of books. We have not always had the income for adding books to our library, but we did spend time at the library at least once a week and always brought piles of books home. As I build our home library, I am careful to keep a lot of variety as well as titles and series that are created by the best illustrators and authors. Generally we find old books and classics on our shelves, but I do have some newer books as I discover them as well. I consider good books a great investment for my children and for future generations.

Learning about books. I read books about reading and books about books. My mother-in-law gifted me Gladys Hunt’s book: Honey for a Child’s Heart shortly after our first child was born. Since then I have added Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson, Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson, Steeped in Stories by Mitali Perkins, and Honey for a Teens Heart also by Gladys Hunt. I read blogs about books and try to find some of the best versions of books so my children will experience books being beautiful and rich in color and text.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Both my husband and I get excited about books. When my children read a book, we let them know our interests to hear about the story they are reading. I talk with other mothers about books and my children see those conversations are full of interest and excitement. I am greatly encouraged when my children join in those conversations and pull out some of their favorite books…even school books…and talk about them with enthusiasm too. When we get books in the mail, I get excited and all the children gather around to see what new adventures await.

Reading is a way of life. Reading is woven into our lives. There is not a day that passes that my children have not read or been read too. It is not associated only with school, but with life. We just read. Because books are laying around in our house, it is easy for me to grab something close and read it to the children while they eat lunch. Sometimes, I have a book we are working through, like our current lunch reading Never Give In, the Story of Winston Churchill. While we are on vacation from school, I just pick up whatever we have around. Often a picture book from the library or a light children’s story. My children listen to audio books while playing a game on a tablet or computer. (Listening to audio-books is a great way to instill a love for books, for those who struggle with reading).

Associate reading wonderful things. We snuggle and read. We read while we eat. We read by the fire. We read snuggled in bed. We read outdoors on a sunny day. We read at the park. We read while having tea and cookies. Now we don’t just read while enjoying the comforts of life, but I do make appoint to create a pleasant experience based around our reading times.