What I Want to have on Hand at the Convention

For many people the summertime is just about as good as it gets with beach trips, cook outs, bonfires, s’mores, and starry nights. For homeschoolers, this is still true – but with one thing more: homeschool conventions! If you’re a native Virginian (or even live in the surrounding states) HEAV’s Homeschool Convention is one that makes the “don’t miss” list.

I have been attending the HEAV convention for a few years now (my parents going for many years) and each year there are a few things I have found that would have been a good idea to bring. Some things I have brought, some things I wish I had. So I want to share with you some things that I definitely want to have on hand this year at convention!


–          Shoe inserts. This one might label me as old lady, but I just have to invest in some Dr. Scholls this year to help me get through three days of pretty much constant standing and walking on that concrete floor at the convention. My feet get so sore that I think it’s worth it.

–          Peppermint & Lavender Essential Oils. I really cannot go anywhere anymore without my essential oils. And it’s pretty much inevitable that my feet will still get sore each day even if I do get shoe inserts. So I will be bringing these oils to soak my feet in each night after walking around all day long (but, hey, my Fitbit will rack up some high stepping)! I will probably bring my PanAway essential oil as well as it works wonders for aches and pains!

–          Premade address labels. There will be mailing lists galore and oodles of drawings for us to enter.  This can add up to a lot of time! The very first year I attended, my mom told me about making address/info labels so that I could just quickly stick one on with all my contact info. It’s a small time saver, but I think it’s worth it and comes in handy. I add my address, email, and phone number. Just add any contact info you feel you would be comfortable with sharing there.

–          Tote bag. I’m not playing. I plan on bringing the biggest one I have (which is pretty big) because there are so many things that I will have to keep track of by the end of the day. Even if I don’t buy much, there are always free hand-outs everywhere…with actual interesting information, not just those slips of paper that you throw away at the next garbage bin you come across. I know many, many people get rolling crates instead of using a bag, but I don’t think I’ve reached that level…yet. 😉

–          Pen and paper. Okay, so you might be thinking, “well, duh!” But I keep a small notepad in my purse that I will be using a lot that weekend. Especially when you get into the Exhibit Hall, it is so huge in there that it will be SO easy to loose track of where a certain booth was located that you will try desperately to remember where it was. Write down the name and booth number. Problem solved!


This is just a small list of some of the things that I hope will be helpful tidbits to remember for the wonderful (and even a bit overwhelming) weekend ahead of you! Each year I learn something different, not just during workshops, but by just BEING there. If this is your first year, I am so excited for you to experience this wonderful event designed to equip and encourage homeschoolers along this incredibly rewarding journey! If you’re a seasoned convention-goer, what are your must-have-on-hand tips? I’d love to know!


Things to Remember while Attending the Convention

I’m pretty sure most of you know that I am not a homeschool mom. So I was a little bit hesitant about writing this. But it was laid on my heart, and I hope I can encourage a weary mother in her homeschool journey or a new homeschool mom heading into this crazy yet exciting phase in life. (I know this description to be accurate by observing my own mom in her journey.)


As a young woman who has attended the convention as a future-homeschooling-mama-hopeful, I have observed concerns and expectations of mothers who are 1) preparing for the convention and 2) attending the convention. I have taken notes to tuck away for my own remembrance, and I want to share a few of them now:


First thing first…


Growing spiritually is one of the best things that you can do for your child’s education. I am a passionate supporter of homeschooling because of the experience I had growing up. My parents love the Lord. As my main educator, my mom always put a huge emphasis on serving the Lord with gladness through the way she taught me and my siblings. She has a desire to chase after God and dig into His Word daily. I saw that growing up and that is why I think I love homeschooling as much as I do, because I had the unique privilege of seeing that day in and day out. Mamas, loving God is the foundation for success in anything: homeschooling is no different.


I’ve noticed that new homeschool moms are full of questions for the “veterans” when they are on the topic of homeschooling. When I “get there” I want to remember this: When talking to homeschool veterans at convention (or anywhere), after asking questions about curriculum and such, remember to ask them one other question: How did God use this season in your life for His glory? I believe whole-heartedly that the academic portion comes second to the spiritual in home education. Ultimately that is what homeschooling should be about.


Which leads me to this…


Never forget that instilling a love for Jesus Christ and raising His warriors should be top priority, not raising children with high test scores. My mom has always been very involved in the homeschool community; ever since I was in high school I loved sitting with my mom and listening to her talk (and even joining in the conversation every once in a while) with other moms either in group settings at co-ops or one-on-one settings over some coffee on a living room couch. The moms that always, without fail, stand out to me and inspire me the most are the ones who ooze Jesus’ love. When I talk to homeschool moms who are more interested in teaching their children life skills and character qualities than in boasting about their science grades, that is when I take the most mental notes. I want to remember what they did so I can incorporate that into my own journey someday. Please understand that I am not saying good grades aren’t important, because they are; and kids should work hard to earn good grades. What I am trying to say is this only: God comes before grades. After the foundation is established, then the building can begin. If that foundation is solid, then the building will be less susceptible to crumble.




If you made it through all three of those you probably noticed a trend? Yep! That’s because I encounter lots of questions as a homeschooler about my experience and about my Mom. Things like, “Did you enjoy being homeschooled?” and, by far the most frequently asked question, “How does your mother do it? I don’t have enough patience for that.” If you asked my mom, she would tell you she doesn’t have enough patience either.


Homeschooling is a walk of faith. Yes, not everyone is in a place where homeschooling is an option for them. But for my parents and many of the homeschooling mama friends I know, they would agree that God is in control of everything. Including homeschooling.


These are definitely more general things to remember throughout your school year and aren’t specifically for attending convention. But the convention is a time of refreshment and encouragement, so I hope that this is something that can read and be encouraged by as you’re preparing for convention weekend.




To My Parents on their 20th Anniversary

Hello, Readers!

I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for why nothing has been posted for a few weeks.


I’ve been busy.


No, but seriously. Today I actually want to share with you something that I wrote for my parents this past month. Their 20th wedding anniversary was at the beginning of this month and my family and I put together a big party for them… the best part? It was a complete surprise!


Well, let me back up a second. My dad knew we were putting together something. But the only thing he knew what when and where. We kept him in the dark about everything else! Except for the almost disastrous slip ups I made that were so close to giving everything away. Apparently I am a bad liar. But that’s a good thing, isn’t it??


The night was PERFECT and I can’t thank everyone enough for all the help they were!




Among the things we did that night, I read aloud a letter that I had written to my parents. I wanted to go ahead a share it on my blog so I can let everyone know just how much I love them! 🙂


Dear Mom and Dad,

            Over the past week while I was working on this party, I wanted to say something to you guys – so I started thinking about the things I have learned from you both. Here is what I came up with.

            The very first thing that came to mind is this:

I have learned that family always comes first. This isn’t just something that you have said to us children growing up, but you have led us by example. You have always made family nights important, never put friends or social gatherings before us, and taught us what a family should look like.

            I learned that hospitality is important. I have so many memories involing you guys welcoming people into our home. Whether that meant opening up our home for an evening, a weekend, or even the majority of a deployment. Loving on people and sharing the comfort of home has always been a passion of yours.

            I learned the skill of getting back up and dusting off. Both of you are caring, but you never allow us kids to feel bad for ourselves. As I grow up I a trying to cultivate this life skill and I thank you for that.

            I have learned that joy is not the same as happiness. While I have heard many parents say, “I just want my kids to be happy,” I don’t ever remember you guys saying that. Instead, you have instilled in me how necessary it is to know the difference between simply being happy and finding pure joy in Jesus Christ.

            I have learned that there needs to be a healthy balance between generosity and frugality. Dad has always been the spender and Mom the saver. Seeing you guys learn to work together has been really beneficial to me.

            I have learned to always be eager to help others. Whether that meant making a meal, letting a family stay in our home, helping them move… and I could go on. JOY truly does mean “Jesus Others You” and you have taught me well to love others.

            I have learned that siblings are built-in friends. Even though the YouTube video quote, “siblings are my bestest friends” was made as a joke, there is some truth in it. I am learning every day how to be a friend, not just a sister, to my siblings. That is all because from the time we were little I remember you telling us that we should be each others friends.

            I have learned to work well with other people. You both took the time to teach me the quality of both hard work and working with other people. Because if it, wherever we kids go people are always amazed at how well and how quickly we get things done.

            The single most important thing that I have learned from you is that only two things in this world will last: God’s Word and human souls. As I grow up, I have come to realize just how rare it is to have parents who daily give it all they have to raise their children up to be passionate about their Savior, Jesus Christ, and who love to serve others. Thank you. I hope I can do the same for my family some day.

            I have learned that you never, ever, ever talk bad about your family to others. I remember the first time I came across the word “gossip”. When I asked Mom what it meant, the first thing she said was, “we never do it.” Ever since then, I have made it a point to remember that. Mom, you have always set a good example of this by never giving in to the temptation of gossiping about family, even when it would have been so easy to do. I have admired that about you all my life.

            I have learned that support is necessary. You have taught me to always lean on and rely on God. But that we also need to make sure we are there for each other. Especially during hard decision-making times, deployments, etc. Knowing that you have your family’s support is invaluable.

            I have learned that there is always something to do. There have been many times a child would say (including myself) “I’m bored”. Mom’s answer was always the same, “then go clean something.” We were never allowed to be bored. There was always a book to read, a sibling to play with, a room to clean, a game to play, SOMETHING! This has served me well… I haven’t been bored in YEARS!

            Growing up I have had the privilege of watching you two as a married couple who truly love each other. I have learned how a man should treat a woman; by loving her, protecting her, only having eyes for her, and putting her needs before his own. I have also learned how I should treat a man; by serving him, caring for him, and building him up both in his presence and to others when he isn’t around.

            There are also a few things that I am still working on learning from you guys.

            Such as…

            Turning off lights when I leave the room,

            Putting the parking brake on,

            Putting the keys away properly so other people can find them,

            And getting home when I say I will instead of fifteen minutes later.




Be Faithful in All Things (HEAV link up)

I am really excited to share this blog post with my readers this month! I actually wrote this piece for Home Educators Association of Virginia last month, but am just now getting around to linking to it here at Blessings, Bliss, and Bedlam. I hope you can find some encouragement when reading it. I know it is something that even I need to be more mindful of, too.


“I have come to understand more and more that serving God is mainly about one’s attitude and focus, whether it is to serve Him as a mother, a doctor, a scientist, or a waitress. I think many times people believe that in order to serve God, you must be on the mission field or in full-time vocational Christian work. While God does call some people to become pastors or to serve on the mission field overseas, that is not where it stops. Elisabeth Eliot said, “There is no such thing as Christian work. That is, there is no work in the world which is, in and of itself, Christian.” What you do with your work is entirely up to you. You can be a grocery store cashier for yourself, simply “getting by” each day to get your next paycheck, or you can be a grocery store cashier for the Lord and smile at each costumer who comes through your line. There is undeniable power in a smile—a real, authentic smile that projects joy to the world around you.”


Head over to the HEAV blog to read the whole blog post, Be Faithful in All Things!

Let me know what you think. What ways do you stay faithful to serving the Lord, even in the small things?



Maiya 🙂

5 (more) Ways to be a Blessing as a Sister

Last month I wrote about five ways big sisters can be a blessing to their siblings, which was published over on the blog for HEAV (click here to read Part One). It was full of examples of things I have tried to do regularly to have a close relationship with my siblings. Because really and truly, my siblings are pretty awesome people and I love growing up with them and even seeing them grow up. This week, I want to finish off with five more ways. I hope you find it to be fabulous fun and help you to get your creative juices flowing, because siblings are good at being fun. 😉


6. Make messes with them. No matter how old they are.  I have siblings in pretty much every age range. From 18-years-old to 20 months. Making messes doing fun stuff is something that many people have a blast doing. Older ones can help you make a mess in the kitchen. My sisters and I do our best bonding time while giggling in the kitchen baking. Don’t be afraid of messes. Just as long as you clean up when you’re done. I have made all sorts of messy activities for my baby brothers to do. From soapy water in a cake pan with cars as a “car wash”, to giving them a scoop of flour and a whisk in their high chair. Messes are So. Much. Fun. for kids. But like I said, just make sure you clean it all up when you’re done!



  1. Encourage them.  You live with them, so you will be able to tell pretty quickly what they need encouragement in. It could be they could use a word of encouragement if they have a bad day at work, or struggling to study for a difficult science test. There could be a conflict between two siblings and you could take each aside and give them a word of encouragement. Always speak in love and kindness. If it doesn’t seem to be working, then gracefully bow out for now and wait for them to cool off. Make it a point to go back to them later on and let them know that you love them. I mentioned it earlier, but pray for them! Ask them if there is anything specific they want prayer for. You would be surprised how grateful someone can be just that someone is thinking about them enough to want to pray for them.


“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)


  1. Do something to serve them. This requires you to go out of your way to find something that you can do for someone else. Serving them really should be done daily, but I am far, far from even “doing okay” at this. I have thought of this one many times but have always let it slip through the cracks. Serving someone is showing them that they are important to you. That you love them so much, you are willing to do something for them and they don’t have to return the favor. Never look at this as something to hold over their head, “I did this for you so you have to do something for me now.” That is missing the point. Last year my younger sister worked full time as a daycare worker at our church’s school. She shares a room with my next-younger sister. As a result of the one working so much, the task to take care of the room and keep it clean usually fell on the other sister; and she does a fantastic job of keeping it neat and clean. One time she came to me frustrated that she was always the one to do the work. She was frustrated that it was always her that kept the room clean. I told her that I understood her frustration, but to try to look at it as a way to serve our other sister. Keeping the room clean was something she did so well, and it was also a service to the sister she shared the room with. Serving someone else isn’t always fun, but it is a necessary thing in order to truly love them.


“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13


  1. Brag about them to others – even your parents! From the time I was little I can remember my mother telling me that she never, ever complains or bashes her husband or children to others when she is with a group of people. Over the years I have witnessed this. I spend a lot of time with my mom and her friends and when one starts complaining about their husband or child it starts an avalanche and soon everyone starts – except my mom. Never. In stead, she takes opportunities to sing our praises and talks about what a wonderful hubby she has. She turns it around from the norm of negativity to the Christ-honoring positivity. That is something we as big sisters need to embed in our hearts and minds. NEVER complain about family to others and ALWAYS sing their praises. Make it a point to even sing their praises to our parents. While they already know that their children are awesome, it is really nice to hear their siblings talk about how awesome one of their children is. This is also good practice for any family relationship you will have in the future, be it your husband or your own child.


  1. Always, ALWAYS listen to them.  You don’t have a choice about who your siblings are, but you have the choice of making them your friends. Make them your best friends. Listen to them when they want to talk with you. That is one of my biggest regrets. I never listened to my siblings very well when I was younger. But now that I am older I see the importance of just being a friend to let them talk to when they are in a tough spot with a friend, or even someone to bounce ideas off of. You have nothing in common with them? Good. I don’t either with some of my siblings. Learning to make yourself interested in what they want to talk with you about really and truly is a valuable life-skill. Start cultivating it with your siblings. If you keep shutting them off because it doesn’t interest you, eventually they will stop coming to you. I know from personal experience. But I have been trying more to listen anyway. Usually it leads to discussions, which lead to several different topics, and eventually you will start talking about something that interests you. Don’t give up. I remember one night two of my siblings started talking (about several different things and I honestly don’t remember what started it) and I just sat down and joined them, eventually one more came in, and then another and eventually all of us (except the youngest few who were in bed by then) were in a bedroom, powwowing on the floor, and talking about everything from what we heard in church on Sunday to how fast Lamborghinis can run (the oldest boy in our family is convinced he will own one someday). It was a truly special time that we all spent together talking literally for hours. We all don’t exactly agree on everything, but it was so neat for us to discuss important things – as well is a funny things – together as siblings. It is a great time to learn from them (yes, as an oldest sibling it is still possible to learn something from your younger siblings) and understand how they think.



Being a sister doesn’t have to be a chore. It is hard, but it is so worth it. I want to encourage you to not just survive these years you have with your siblings, but make them count and thrive during your time with them. Strengthen your relationships with each of them and build them up through prayer, encouragement, and a servant’s heart. If you, like me, have several siblings, learning to not only get along with their different personalities but also to love them and learn to work well with them will be invaluable practice for working with so many different people you will meet in the world. It is also the best training you can get for being a mother someday.


“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

–Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)

What Living In the Social Media Age Has Taught Me


iPads, smart phones, and laptops have all pretty much become “essentials” in today’s world. We are living in a social media age where so much of our lives revolve around social networking. This can be a really good thing, we can use it to reach people we could otherwise not reach and bless people by praying and sending words of encouragement through e-mail or networking sites. It can also be a really (really) bad thing that can be – and is – used for evil. Arguments, bullying, complaining, etc. are all things I encounter daily on the web. There are two things that have stuck out to me over the past few years that I will share, but be brief about.

  1. Some things do need to be addressed, but do they need to be addressed by me?

This goes for anything in life, but especially online. I’m not talking about national news, I’m talking about the everyday not-so-good decisions of others in their life. Many people take it upon themselves to share their opinion of some else’s choice online. Many times it is unnecessary. As Christians we are told in the Bible to keep one other accountable – but there has got to be some kind of personal relationship built there in order for the accountability to be affective.

  1. You aren’t going to change their mind by arguing with them online.

This is the number one issue I see. Arguing online. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Most of the time people’s opinion only change when they are one-on-one in a discussion with someone who they can tell doesn’t want to jump down their throat when they hit a disagreement, but in stead talk about it respectfully.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)


Because we live in such a tech-savvy age and social media has become an everyday part of life, I have tried to set rules for myself and wanted to share them with you. Having found myself in a few arguments of my own several years ago I thought it necessary and I have found them to help a great deal.

Never complain on the Internet. Whether it be Facebook, Instagram, etc. I have made it a hard and fast rule for myself. The first place I must go with my problems is my Heavenly Father, not a few hundred Facebook friends. I do not wish to spew my personal struggles all over the world wide web. If it is something I want the prayers of others for I go to them directly.

“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” -1 Peter 5:7

Keep negative and disapproving comments to myself. No, I don’t agree with everything I see on my news feed. In fact, there is probably very little that I do agree with. But I know that plastering my opinion on their post isn’t going to change their mind on the subject. The only exception to this is if the person is genuinely asking for others’ thoughts. Even then I proceed with caution. Voicing opinion is a right in this country, but it should go without saying that it should be done respectfully.

View social media sites such as Facebook as a prayer tool. All you have to do is pull up your Facebook home page (or Twitter, or whatever it is you use) to see five things you could pray for in the lives of others. A mom has to take her son to the ER suddenly, a friend may have cancer, etc.. It is the perfect tool for a Christian to use to pray for those around us. Never give up an opportunity to pray for someone. Prayer is powerful, and we all need someone to pray for us.


The internet is huge, and I have a feeling it will only get bigger. Use it for good.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness … the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” -Romans 2:4

This entry was posted on March 1, 2016. 2 Comments

5 Ways to be a Blessing as a Sister (HEAV link-up)

I love being a big sister! I will be the first to tell you that I have had a rocky road at figuring out how to be a good big sister. Honestly, I still haven’t figured it out. But I have found so much joy in cultivating friendships with each of my siblings and I hope to encourage you to do with same with your brothers and/or sisters. They really are fantastic people.

Today I am sharing five ways we as big sisters (and even brothers!) can be a blessing to our siblings! Head over to HEAV’s blog to read all about it! I pray it will encourage you to start incorporating these ideas into your relationships as well as get you thinking about your own ways. And please, please, please share the ways you show love to your siblings in the comments below! I want to hear from you big sisters (and brothers!)!



Next month I will finish this two part post off with five more ways to be a blessing as a sister. So stay tuned!