What Comes First? What Should Come First?

Photo by Timothée Pons on Unsplash

Wife – mom – homeschooler – friend —

We are all of these.

And for most of us, these roles are our dream come true.

But that doesn’t mean any of them are easy. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. There will be good parts and bad parts of everything in this life. We have to keep our joy and hope in the midst of storms and struggles.

But of all of these roles, which one should be our top priority?

It’s easy to put being a mother first because babies and children demand our attention. They can’t help it. That’s what they do! Of course, we have to take care of our children, and we delight in doing that. It’s what we do!

But there is someone else who is often standing in the wings waiting for us to notice them who really needs our care and attention, too.

Your husband may be a strong, independent man (hopefully), but he really does need you. He may not realize how much he needs you. If he is a kind, loving man, he will not demand your time or attention, but he really does need your input and affection toward him.

God calls the wife a Helpmate. That is not just a nice, flowery word to describe our role. Men sometimes don’t know what they need. I’m not trying to be sexist here, but I’ve observed this during my 55 years of living. Actually, women aren’t always aware of what they need, either…. so, there, I’m not being sexist.

Men are often more affected by their wives than they show. They are trying to impress us. They want us to think well of them. Good men want to take good care of their families and be the hero. Sometimes they don’t know how to go about it. Sometimes they think we are impressed with things that are not so impressive to us. Sometimes they are not aware of what would really impress and HELP us. Helping and working alongside us is what would really impress us. Some men think that all they need to do for the family is bring home the paycheck. They CAN be taught that they need to engage and be a part of the life of the family. It may take a while for some to learn this.

But we wives need to be there for our husbands and make them feel like our priority even in the midst of babies, diapers, cooking, cleaning, teaching, and all of the tasks that come with taking care of a family.

Our men need us. God said in His word that it’s not good for a man to be alone. That’s not a metaphor. It’s true. Men may have a harder time keeping spiritual matters uppermost in their priorities. That’s where we come in. We can gently guide them to the Lord with their cares and concerns and help them to develop good priorities themselves. We can help them to understand us! We can use that nurturing attribute that we women tend to have naturally to help our husbands.

The Bible says that we can help our husbands to become better people and draw closer to the Lord by the way we live in front of them. We can make living a godly life look attractive and winsome. We can help them to flourish spiritually if we encourage them and give them love and attention and affection and direct their attention in a sweet and gentle way toward the things of God. They are supposed to be the spiritual leaders, but they may not know how to do that. Not at first anyway. Or their personality may make it difficult for them to take that role.

But instead of being disappointed or demanding or condemning, we can do things in a way that is honoring and loving, and they may learn the things they need to do to become the best husbands and fathers they can be.

We can show them what God is like by our attitude and way of treating everyone, including them. There are several scriptures that tell us how to treat our husbands with honor. If we treat them well, and they treat us well, things are going to go much better for our families. And spiritually, we really yearn for our husbands to be strong.

We all have choices in how we treat others.

Let’s choose well as wives to treat our husbands the way God wants us to treat them and ask Him to help us be the best wives we can be.

Husbands need their wives more than they know and more than they show.

Let’s be there for them.

For help and inspiration, these books can help us to understand and implement these principles:

One more book that may really help your husband is:

This may help him to understand and break free of wounds from the past that hinder him from becoming the man that he was meant to be.

We can do this!

Our families are counting on us!

Let’s take care of our husbands in the most important ways and watch what happens in our families!


I Resolve to Not Make Resolutions

Looking for wisdom in how to prepare for a new year?

I have a few suggestions.


Don’t make resolutions you know you won’t keep.


Pray first, ask questions later.
And then pray some more.


Listen to the broadcast in the post I did right before this one that actually appears below this one.


Look back to see God’s work in your life, then look up to see Jesus and ask what He wants to say to you today.


Ask Him to help you hear His voice and make the plans to do the things that are His will for your life in the coming days. Make sure you write down whatever He tells you. Write down the things that you really want to accomplish. That makes it much more likely that you will do them.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. James 1:5-8

So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Proverbs 4:5

Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

Resolutions, Plans, Assessments, Prayers? I’ve Got Questions!

Are you asking yourself if you should even bother to make resolutions?

Do they seem to set you up for failure and disappointment?

You might want to consider trying a new way to prepare for the new year.

Listen to this broadcast and see if this might be the answer you are looking for as you start out this new year. Put God in your plans. Look at what He did in you, for you, and through you last year. Ask Him what He wants to do in your life this coming year.

It's a new year! Should I… make resolutions or plans, … or should I examine and listen? Or all of the above? Questions, questions, questions!

Posted by Changed By Love on Tuesday, January 1, 2019

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things – From This Christmas 2018

As I have reflected on the way this Christmas played out for us, I thought I would share the things that have worked best for us through the years and what were my favorite parts of this Christmas.

Christmas is a stressful, rushed time for a lot of us.


Many years ago, I learned the importance of planning and organizing and making memories in order to get the most out of our time together during the holidays.

I learned that I could feel more calm and relaxed if I had a plan and a list of things I definitely wanted to do during the holiday season.

I listened to lots of online classes with Cindy Rushton and many other homeschool speakers and loaded up on tons of great ideas of books to read, activities to do, movies to watch, recipes to bake, and ways to plan and organize the making of memories. I wanted to squeeze every ounce of family togetherness and enjoyment out of the holiday season. And I wanted to make it meaningful and keep Christ at the center of Christmas.

So I incorporated some Advent activities, especially Ann Voskamp’s book, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, and ornaments for the Jesse Tree. I really like finding the prophecies in the Bible that foretold Jesus’ coming. We lit some candles and did advent readings fairly regularly some years. I tried to do them every day, but many times I found myself feeling pressured, impatient, and frustrated with my kids, so I eased up on trying to do it every day. Most of my kids and I are more spontaneous and would rather have variety instead of lots of structure and rigidity and ritual. 

A series of books by Arnold Ytreeide provides wonderful stories to read consistently through the Advent season. The chapters are short and are labeled by the number of the day leading up to Christmas day. Each of the chapters is a cliffhanger.

We enjoy picking out a real Christmas tree and decorating it and the mantle and a few other areas, but we are not very elaborate or sophisticated in our decorating style.

I usually get a family picture taken and use it on Christmas cards, but we didn’t do that this year.

For a couple of years I had my youngest kids do a little Christmas Bible study called “Jesus the Promised One” by Katherine Loop at

We do like carrying on traditions, and I let the kids lead in the things that they really want to make sure we do each year during the Christmas season.

My kids have chosen to do these things every year:

1. Bake sugar cookies and cut out shapes and decorate them.

2. Watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special and many other Christmas specials from the cartoons they enjoyed growing up.

3.  Watch “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol”.

4.  Go see Christmas lights.

5.  On Christmas morning, we like to eat quiche and Chef Mickey’s Breakfast Pizza, made by Kelsey and Katie.

I made ham and scalloped potatoes for dinner, and we enjoyed our dinner together. We also had a nice dinner together on Christmas Eve. It’s unusual for us to all eat together at the same time with so many different schedules, so it was very special.

The movies I enjoyed this year were “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “The Man Who Invented Christmas”, “Christopher Robin”, “Eloise at Christmastime”, “The Bishop’s Wife”, and “The Muppets’ Christmas Carol”.

The books I enjoyed reading with the younger girls were “Carl’s Christmas” by Alexandra Day, “Gifts of the Heart” by Patricia Polacco, “Saint Francis and the Nativity” by Myrna A. Strasser, “Great Joy” by Kate DiCamillo, and “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by Susan Jeffers.



This year, I only read one page from Ann Voskamp’s book and didn’t try to make a Jesse tree. We didn’t read any of the Ytreeide books. We didn’t do any special Christmas Bible studies.

But I did a little candlelight ceremony to illustrate how the light overcomes the darkness, but the darkness cannot overcome the light. And we sang “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” and then “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

Simple, relaxed, not busy. Just a few things we really love. A few of our favorite things.


Books to Read Aloud about the Real Meaning of Christmas

I thought I would compile a list of picture books (and a bonus chapter book or two) that will help you and your family celebrate the real meaning of Christmas.

I just copied the Amazon summaries, since I thought they were pretty good. I added my age recommendations which were sometimes different than the “experts” suggested. But I am thinking of homeschooled children as I make my recommendations.




“Bells jingle, sleds dash through the snow, trees are topped with sparkling stars, and children everywhere dream of candy canes and presents. But the best gift of all-the most magical gift of the season-is when we spend Christmas with those we love.

Once again, this New York Times-bestselling author and artist has created a special, beautiful book that families will want to share year after year. (And readers will want to look for the Spirit of Christmas image that Nancy Tillman has hidden on every page!)”  I would recommend this for ages 4-8.

  “The tale is unfolded with such mastery, humor, and emotional force that we are entirely within its power.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle. The moving, lyrical tale, gloriously illustrated by P.J. Lynch, has been widely hailed as a true Christmas classic.” I recommend this for ages 6-12 years.

   “As Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear begins to wonder…

“Who invented Christmas?”
Mama’s answer only leads to more questions like “Is God more important than Santa?” So she and Little Cub head off on a polar expedition to find God and to see how he gave them Christmas. Along the way, they find signs that God is at work all around them. Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns about the very first Christmas and discovers that…

Jesus is the best present of all.
This enchanting tale provides the perfect opportunity to help young children celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and to discover how very much God loves them.” I recommend this for ages 4-8.

  Twas the Evening of Christmas: 2018 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist (Children category)

‘Twas the evening of Christmas, when all through the town,
Every inn was so crowded, no room could be found.
Tired Mary and Joseph, who went door to door,
At last found a place on a small stable floor.
For over 200 years, families have gathered on Christmas Eve to hear the much loved words of Dr. Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. This year, families can gather together to share the real Christmas story–the story of Jesus’ birth. ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas echoes the familiar language and rhythm of Dr. Clements’ poetry, but instead of focusing on Santa, it focuses on the baby Jesus, who is, after all, the true hero of Christmas. All families will delight in this simple retelling of the most famous story ever told. With a cover that comes alive with foil and sculpted embossing, this book is sure to become a Christmas classic. I would recommend this for ages 4-8.

  This story “uniquely teaches the Christmas story to your children by starting at creation and sharing that Jesus has always been present and that God has always had a plan for Christmas. Bible verses and Jesus Calling devotions are on every spread of this beautifully illustrated book with foil and glitter on the cover.”  I would recommend this one for ages 4-10.

“A snowy night, a warm cabin, and a boy who hears the Christmas story told for the first time―beginning with Creation and ending with the Resurrection

A classic Christmas picture book, One Wintry Night tells the story of a mountain boy who is injured in a snowstorm and seeks refuge in a cabin. While he waits out the storm, the woman who lives there tells him the Christmas story. In a magnificent blend of a contemporary setting with the history of God’s redeeming love, Ruth Graham created a wonderful and unique version of the Christmas story. Breathtakingly illustrated by renowned artist Richard Jesse Watson, One Wintry Night is the perfect gift for the young and the young-at-heart that will fascinate both those who have heard the Bible story many times and those who know only a few details.”  I would recommend this story for ages 6-12.

   “Little Polly Flowerdew lives with her two maiden aunts, and she is absolutely sure that something special is going to happen this Christmas. She leaves her bedroom window open on Christmas Eve, just in case the three wise men decide to come visit. When she wakes up on Christmas morning, more than one miracle seems to have taken place.

A moving, lyrical, and endearing chapter book, celebrating the magic as well as the mystery of Christmas by Elizabeth Goudge, mistress of the art of storytelling. Charmingly illustrated with ink drawings by Margot Tomes, it is a perfect Christmas read-aloud for young children and parents looking for something slightly sentimental and bracingly wholesome.” I love Elizabeth Goudge’s writing! I would recommend this book for ages 8-12.



2016 ECPA Christian Book Award winner!
“Based on the overwhelming success of The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp has expanded her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree so families can celebrate together. Each day, families can read the provided Scripture passage (in connection with the original book), engage with a specially written devotion to help children of all ages understand the Advent theme for the day, and participate in suggested activities to apply the theme.

This special edition is beautifully illustrated. It can serve as a precious guide to help recapture the sacredness of the Advent season and to help the entire family understand and celebrate the epic pageantry of humankind from Adam to the Messiah.” Ages 3-adult. I recommend this as a read-aloud for the whole family together.

FIRST EDITION, HARDCOVER. ILLUSTRATED. FAMILY BOOKSHELF EDITION “Among the many legends that have to do with Christmas Eve, there is one that says on that night lost things are found again…” I enjoyed this story.

One of the Amazon reviewers said this about it, “Mom got this book out every Christmas and I read it every year. When I moved to my own home, I hunted down copies of this book for me and all my sisters. It’s a short, sweet story with a varied cast of interwoven characters. A book that gives you a warm holiday glow.”
For such a short story, there were quite a few characters who were each affected by a stranger who took the time to interact with each of them. I think your family will enjoy this story. Recommended for ages 10-adult.

You may need to search for this to find it at a decent price, but it’s worth looking for.