Heart of the Matter

It’s the time of year when it’s hard to walk into any store: grocery or department and not notice a host of hearts. From t-shirts to boxes, hearts adorn most every surface reminding us that Valentine’s Day is around the corner. One favorite confection certainly speaks to the heart of Valentine’s: conversation hearts. Every year eight billion, yep, that’s billion with a B, hearts tucked neatly away in heart-covered boxes line the shelves of our favorite stores. That is 100,000 pounds of sugar, and most stores sell out within six weeks of stocking the shelves. The original hearts, from over 100 years ago, heralded pleasant platitudes like “Married in Satin, Love will be Lasting” or “Married in White, Love will be Right.” The sayings got shorter as the years progressed and “Be Mine” and “Love’s Kiss” became more popular. A recent update currently leaves us with modern versions of “Tweet Me,” “Text Me,” and “Soul Mate.” It is a fun way to communicate our affection with a favorite confection.

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Fasting As a Spiritual Discipline

My journey into fasting began nine years ago with a simple prayer after a study of Nehemiah: “Lord break my heart for what breaks yours.”  What followed this simple, sincere prayer was a whirlwind of soul searching, seeking, and studying.  Not a Fan, Follow Me, Interrupted, Radical, and 7 are just a few of the books I devoured.  One book, 7, which was an invitation to practice 7 types of spiritual fasts forever changed my view on fasting, which forever changed my life.  

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Announcing….

This quarantine has given us the gift of time, and in that time, I’ve been contemplating some dreams that have gotten shoved to the side in the crush of busyness that has become everyday life for so many.  They’ve gotten lost amidst the grocery lists, to-do lists, work, homeschooling, and so many other wonderful, worthy endeavors.  In this time of quieter days and less harried schedules, though, these dreams have been springing up like the green shoots of new life that welcome this season, and I’ve been listening and praying that if this vision of mine is shared by God for me that He would give voice to the vision.

I love stories; I love listening to stories, and I love telling stories.  This love is what led me to major in journalism in college.  I longed to become the next Ken Burns or Charles Kuralt or the first female storyteller in this genre of journalism, but along the way, life happened, and I lost sight of that goal.  Now, with YouTube and blogs, this dream is much easier to grasp.  I am announcing the birth of a YouTube channel to accompany my blog where I hope to tell stories of inspiration and overcoming.  So I invite you to join me on this journey.  Some coming attractions are a series on anxiety, where my daughter and I share our journey with this debilitating disorder, a series on female small business owners, book reviews, and other educational content.  It is much like my blog, a place where I share what I hope are valuable lessons that I’ve picked up on this sojourn through life.  I hope you will join me.  Welcome to Stickseeds, the Channel

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The Tragedy of the Golden Egg

This is a special guest post.  My daughter Annie’s short story 🙂

“Today is the day” said Scarlett.

Emily raised her head up, “What’s today?” she asked through a mouthful of goldfish.

Scarlett gasped, “It’s the Easter egg hunt today, and the golden egg will be mine this year! We are going to crush those puny kids!”

“Aren’t we too old to be doing stuff like that?”

Scarlett grabbed the closest thing to her, which was a pillow, and threw it at Emily. She fell down, picked up the pillow and threw it back. Scarlett pushed the static-y red hair out of her face after the pillow hit it. She got up, grabbed Emily’s hand, and ran down stairs. Continue reading “The Tragedy of the Golden Egg”

Finding Time to Read With Your Children

If you asked my children (or anyone who’s close to me) to describe me, I have no doubt their list would include:

  1.  She loves to serve Jesus through volunteering.
  2. She’s clumsy.
  3. She LOVES to read.

Pretty accurate assessment of their mom.  Anyone who knows me can attest to my love of reading and to the importance I place on reading with my children.  In fact, I’ve written about how important time spent reading with your children is here. While most of you don’t doubt the importance of reading with your kids, you may be wondering where to find the time.

I hear you.  Finding time for our children to read or for us to read with our children can be difficult.  It seems our schedules are crammed with activities from sun-up to sun-down, but it is possible to find more time than you think to read with your kids, especially this summer.  Here are a few tricks I’ve discovered to make the most of our time. Continue reading “Finding Time to Read With Your Children”

Creating a Culture of Learning This Summer

As end of school busyness ramps up to a frenzied pace, it’s hard to imagine that the lazier, slower days of summer are just a few weeks away.  One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be more intentional in my parenting, and I’m looking forward to the slower pace of summer to implement that resolution even more deliberately. I find it is sometimes so easy to get caught up in the activity of life as my children and I run from one event or task to the next that taking the time to mindfully consider the goals I want to create or the character traits that I want to cultivate in my children get lost in the shuffle of everyday living.  This summer my goal is to create an environment of intentionality in my parenting that hopefully fosters a culture of education, where I continue to model for my children that learning is both a lifestyle and a lifelong endeavor.

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Review of Refugee

Air raids, shoot-outs, taxi holdups- nothing seemed to faze him anymore.  Was he just keeping all his tears and screams pent up inside, or was he becoming so used to horrible things happening all around him that he didn’t notice anymore?

How do you discuss the horrible things happening in our world in a meaningful way with your children when they happen to catch a glimpse of the evening news?  When your little one crawls into your lap and asks what will happen to the children fleeing their homeland in Syria, what do you say?  When they begin to understand that a hurricane or tornado could rip their home or their lives apart, how do you assuage their fears?  For my family, we often turn to well-written books that gingerly, yet boldly, address the horrors, evils, and ills that threaten to rip the very seams of our society in an age-appropriate, hope-promoting way.  Alan Gratz’s Refugee is one of those books. Continue reading “Review of Refugee”

Soldier Boys Review

“He knew that a hero shouldn’t fear death, but where was the glory in dying for his country and never knowing it.”

I first came across Dean Hughes’s Soldier Boys as a student teacher when my host teacher selected it for a book club that met before school once a week.  I knew as soon as I read the last page that this provocative title would be among the books I chose to teach in my own classroom.  As I expected, it quickly became a class favorite with students fondly recalling the time in my class we read that World War II novel.  The last time I taught the book I was expecting my now twelve-year-old daughter, so I was thrilled when she decided to read it for herself.  This book opened the door to her love of historical fiction, and she has since gone on to devour every young adult novel she can find on World War II, the Holocaust, and other major historical events.

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How Getting Out of the Way Improved My Children’s Learning: The Education of a Homeschooling Mom

A dizzying blur of grey passes by the window as I quickly glance at my eleven-year-old daughter, who occupies the passenger seat on our trek over Monteagle.  My children and I are heading to my brother’s for my nephew’s birthday party.  A has her laptop perched in her lap, and the faint but determined clicking of keys fills the silence, capturing my attention.  A pauses in her typing, and I know she’s critically eyeing her screen, brow raised in contemplation as she scrutinizes her latest sentence.

“What are you working on?” I ask.

“My newest short story.”  She pauses for a second then continues, “You know, Mom, I’ve been reading a lot of books, and you know what makes them good?”  She doesn’t wait for my answer.  “They’re full of details and descriptions.  The reader can picture it all in her head.  I’ve started adding detail to my stories.  Listen…..It’s a stormy day.  Marigold sits perched on the edge of her bed…..” Continue reading “How Getting Out of the Way Improved My Children’s Learning: The Education of a Homeschooling Mom”

Fast Track to Health

I’m often greeted with mixed responses whenever I mention one particular practice in  which my husband and I participate:  fasting.  “Why would you choose not to eat on purpose?”  “I could never do that.  I get angry when I’m hungry.”  “You’re crazy.”  These are just among the top of hundreds of responses I receive to the topic of fasting.

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