Reflections on my post-a-day month

Okay this is the last day of my daily post experiment. It was challenging, to be sure. There are a few things I learned.

  • I am not very organized. I had no real plan or help with post topics, which now I wish I had benefit of. If I ever do this again I will make sure I have something to write about so I don’t have to grasp for an idea.
  • Posting on this blog, for me, is a reflective process. I don’t like posting every day because my posts are not day-in-the-life kinds of posts. I enjoy writing more about things I have been thinking on for a while.
  • My default seems to be lists. When I am stuck for a post idea I make a list. Not always, but often–like this post.
  • My life schedule does not lend itself to daily posts. Not easily, anyway. With a husband, four children, a full time job and school, there are precious few moments for writing posts, especially ones I don’t deem important. I would rather post less often and write things that are more eternal–or at least educational.

This month has helped me refine what this blog is for. It freshened my perspective, focus and ideas for future projects. Stay tuned for more details!

This was less fun than challenging but I’m glad I did it. Even though I wasn’t able to post every day it still set a high bar, and I always enjoy that. Now back to our regularly (un)scheduled posts…


Rise and fall.

The tune is slow and regular.

Memory’s shadow


on a steady breath

of salty spray.

Mister moon

is the conductor

of this melody—

frothy tones mingled with starlight.

Briny echoes

of happier times—

ripples of love’s tender ease—

found lapping

at your mind’s shore

each time

you close your eyes

and hold its iridescent home

to your ear.

©2011 Anna-Marie Durham

Blank books for children

With the holidays fast approaching and a sluggish economy, you may be looking for create gift ideas that are easy on your pocketbook. Blank books are great gifts for children, even those who don’t usually enjoy books or even read yet. With a little imagination you can take a blank book and make it a one-of-a-kind gift the child in your life will treasure.

  • Make it into an alphabet book they can fill with words and pictures for each letter.
  • Cut and paste random pictures and phrases as journal prompts.
  • Add pictures of things the child loves.
  • Draw in random frames for them to add their own custom art work.
  • Add pictures. The child can make up a story to go with the pictures.
  • Make a picture book that has no words. Let the pre-reader make up a new story each time.
  • Make a drawing book that has only half of each picture. The little artist can fill in the other half.
  • Add random affirmations or compliments. As they fill up the book they will come across your kind words.
  • Include some “Poetry Recipes,” simple poetry ideas (like haiku or cinquains) they can practice in their book.
  • Sprinkle “story starters” throughout the book for budding authors.
  • Include pictures of family and friends.
  • Call it something special, like a Dream Catcher or Idea Machine. Not everyone likes to journal but everyone likes to capture their ideas at one time or another.
  • Add inspirational quotes or stories to feed their passion in a subject.
  • Add library pockets with tags, envelopes, fold some pages and add other scrapbook paper goodies they can manipulate.
  • Add words at random they can add to their writing vocabulary.
  • Ask them questions about themselves on a few pages and let them talk about themselves.
  • Draw some random shapes and let them doodle them into their own creations.
  • Make your own dot-to-dots or coloring pages by tracing family’s or pets’ faces.
  • Give it to them to start a back and forth journal with a parent. Sometimes children will write things that can be hard to say out loud and it can be a great communication tool.

Make sure to include colored pencils and an eraser so they can create to their heart’s desire. My next book arts post will give you some ideas on making books from scratch for children.

The family newspaper

I had come across this great idea from Lady Lydia and liked it so much I started doing it here and from the beginning it was a big hit. It’s so simple I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. It’s a family newspaper.

The premise is simple:

  • take a sheet of paper and fold in half.
  • Fill the pages with all sorts of interesting things.
  • Give it to your kids to read.

I made a little title that fit our family and set about filling it with jokes, extended family trivia, menus, weather, encouraging words and something exciting that was coming up for each of  the kids that we could all get excited about (or maybe an acknowledgement of some success).

They love to read it while they eat their breakfast. They feel grown up and they love to read about themselves and their family. It has opened up some great conversations too.

I don’t make one every day because I don’t have the time for that. I probably make one every week or so. It’s not fancy. I make one and copy it on the copier so there’s not a lot of color. It’s hand drawn with love and they never complain that it’s too homemade.

Why do it? It’s another way to connect with your kids. And my kids write for the paper too, so it strengthens their writing skills. And I can add “don’t forget” things, so they don’t get another nag session from me. They learn things about their extended family with my trivia and I feed their souls with poetry and their spirits with Scripture.

You’ll be surprised how much you can fit into this little newspaper. If you make one, please take a picture and share the response in the comments below.

Hope for the next generation

My oldest daughter (10) entered this year’s essay contest from our state’s Christian homeschool organization. The topic was “The Role of Christians in Government.” When I saw the title I knew she just had to enter. It took a lot of prodding but I finally got a paper out of her. She typed it up, then saw that it had to be hand written, so she copied it and we put both copies in the mail. A couple of days before Capitol Day we got that all-important email: she won!

The judges thought her essay was the best one entered in any age category. They wished the high schoolers could have written as well. Here is her essay in its entirety.

According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, the word government means “who or what is in control.” In the Garden of Eden that Who was God, and He governed us internally. Then sin changed things and now we need more external government. That’s where Christians come in, offering God’ s idea of government.

One of the roles of Christians in government is to follow. Follow Jesus, that is. Always follow your leaders unless they do not line up with God’ s Word. Be a good example to other followers.

Another role is to pray. You need to pray for the right candidates to be elected. You also need to pray that the leaders we have will make right choices, according to 1 Timothy 2:1&2. Prayer sometimes makes the difference between life and death.

Still another role Christians have in government is to lead. When you lead as a Christian, you reflect God. God’s leadership is wise, consistent, righteous and just. In fact, the Bible in Job 34:17 says that you should not lead if you don’t agree with God’ s justice.

Christians get ideas regarding government from the Bible. The Founding Fathers called the Bible “America ’s political textbook.” Christian leaders should look to godly leaders in the Bible for insight and wisdom.

It is a great responsibility to elect our own leaders. We should vote carefully. The most basic role of Christians in government is to show others how God wants us to live, no matter what role we are in.

(C) 2009 Gabrielle Hawthorne

I share this not to get a pat on the back, but to demonstrate God’s faithfulness. When we instill Biblical principles in our children, they can think governmentally. It just becomes their way of thinking. I am raising the next generation of godly Christians who will hopefully lead and not blindly follow. This essay gives me much hope for America’s future.

And it was a real treat for her to win a prize for her hard work too! On Capitol Day February 10 we made a trip to Oklahoma City for her to receive her award. And when she received a copy of her citation a few days later she was over the moon. It’s a giant certificate with her essay printed in the body inside a blue folder. She will treasure it as one of her special homeschool memories. And so will I.

Best of PrincipledMom ebook now available!

I am so excited to let you know that I have complied all my favorite posts from the last 3 years into one handy file. 

A Mother's Joy: The Best of PrincipledMom vol. 1
Click on cover to purchase

A Mother’s Joy: The Best of PrincipledMom Volume 1 is 40 pages of blogging goodness available as an instant download. Click the cover below to download and enjoy.

Thanks to all of your who have encouraged me to keep on writing all this time. And even more good news is on its way!

Teaching writers

I am reading this terrific book about children and writing. I literally stumbled across it at a used bookstore and instantly fell in love. One thing jumped out at me right off the bat. I am not teaching writing, I am teaching writers. That little semantic shift made all the difference to me. The Lord has been dealing with me about adding more writing to our home education. Well this book will show you how to spark a passion for writing in any child. We all long to be understood, and good writing will satisfy that need.

My English goals for this year are to start a writing portfolio and to write something every day. And not only my children, but me. We are going to play with words every day–definitions, poetry, essays, read-alouds, word games, lots of good literature and more. They must not only learn to reason, but to articulate their position intelligently. And I want them to enjoy the process. I think my renewed excitement for language will do just that.

Meeting Ms. Havergal

I have made so many “friends” along my homeschool journey–Charles Willson Peale, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Christopher Columbus, Louisa May Alcott, Benjamin West. Then yesterday a new friend came into my life– Frances Ridley Havergal. We met quite by chance, bumping into one another at a local thrift store. And I am sure I will ever be the same.

The little book I picked up for two dollars was a well-worn copy of Havergal’s Kept for the Master’s Use. (I have since discovered that she wrote several books for children, which I am now eagerly seeking!) The unassuming tome is thoughful application of Scripture in a personal way, using our lives and bodies to illustrate her points, using her hymn “Take My Life and Let it Be.” Chapters include: “Our Hands Kept for Jesus,” “Our Voices Kept for Jesus,” “Our Silver and Gold Kept for Jesus,” “Our Lips Kept For Jesus,” and so forth. Here is a sample from her chapter entitled “Our Feet Kept for Jesus:”

The figurative keeping of the feet of His saints, with the promise that when they run they shall not stumble, is a most beautiful and helpful subject. But it is quite distinct from the literal keeping for Jesus our literal feet.

There is a certain homeliness about the idea which helps to make it very real. These very feet of ours are purchased for Christ’s service  by the preciious drops which fell from His own torn and pierced feet upon the cross. They are to be His errand-runners. How can we let the world, the flesh and the devil have the use of what has been purchased with such a payment?

FR Havergal

And she has this to say about Jesus’ hands in the final chapter entitled “Christ for Us:”

His Hands “for thee.” Literal hands, literally pierced, when the whole weight of His quivering frame hung from the torn muscles and bared nerves; literally uplifted in parting blessing. Consecrated, priestly hands; “filled” hands (Ex. xxviii. 41, xxix. 9, etc., margin)– filled once with His great offering, and now with His gifts and blessings “for thee.” Tender hands, touching and healing, lifting and leading with the gentlest of care. Strong hands, upholding and defending. Open hands, filling with good and satisfying desire (Ps. civ. 28 and cxlv. 16). Faithful hands, restraining and sustaining. “His left hand is under my head and His right hand doth embrace me.”

FR Havergal

Ms. Havergal’s poetic prose and call to consecration are inspiring. I know I will pore over her book for years to come, allowing my new friend to challenge and inspire me, beckoning me higher and higher in Him. So I’m off to put on a pot of tea and sit with my new friend and listen to her thoughts on the Saviour I so dearly love.