3 Crucial Reasons to Attend Your Next Family Reunion

by Sally Matheny
Smushy Kisses at Family Reunions

Is there cringing, wincing, and gnashing of teeth at just the thought of a family reunion? 

Perhaps you had an agonizing experience as a child. A crinkled stranger planted smushy kisses on your cheek. Then, pulling you away from your mom, the stranger weaved you through a chattering sea of unfamiliar faces. Finally, she anchored you both in front of another foreign body and the torture began.

“This is your mother’s great aunt’s, second cousin, Bertha, who first married Joe Schmitt, who was a tire salesman, but then he died, and about ten years ago she married John Brown, who manufactures straight pins in Detroit and he just so happens to be your dad’s podiatrist's first cousin! How about that?”


But you’re an adult now and here are three crucial reasons why you need to attend your next family reunion.


When multiple generations gather, there will always be times of remembering moments from the past. Births, school days, weddings, funerals, and even the embarrassing incidents some wish others would forget. While certain memories mean more to some folks than others, this is your heritage. 

Even if you’re attending your spouse’s family reunion, you can learn a great deal. Maybe listening to your mother-in-law’s childhood memories will give you a better understanding of why his family celebrates Christmas the way they do. What annoyed you in the past, may be perceived differently now.

Too often, an unforgiving spirit
is a person's only legacy.
Pausing to reflect on the past brings joy, knowledge, and healing. Perhaps the reason many people resist a family reunion is due to a past hurt.   

Aunt Bertha said or did something she shouldn’t have five, ten, or fifty years ago and for whatever reason people chose to hold onto that strife rather than letting it go. 

Bitterness was chosen over forgiveness. Pain over joy. Too often, an unforgiving spirit is a person’s only legacy.
What healing might take place if you go to your next family reunion?


If there’s emotional or physical healing in the family, record it! Everybody has a story. A family reunion is a wonderful time to record those stories. Make a scrapbook or journal. Better yet, make a video.

Are there any veterans willing to share their experiences? Those who survived a war may provide fresh perspectives to a younger generation.

Who survived an accident or a disease? A problem at work or their first day of high school? Survivors bring strength and hope to the family.

Ask the older ones to recall interesting tidbits about the family’s ancestry.

Even recording opinions on current events will be an interesting piece of history for the next generation.

Survivors bring strength and hope to the family.
Family reunions are never the same. The dynamics change. People come and go, jobs vary, and events alter our lives.

Most of the time we never submerge past the friendly greetings. Families need to go deeper conveying their life experiences. True stories inspire us and can encourage us to keep pressing onward. Everybody has a story that can affect others. You need to share your story.


If nothing else, family members need to recount God’s blessings to the next generation. How have you seen God working in your life and the lives of others?

Describe times when God answered your prayers, when he brought healing, and when your needs were met.

Share experiences where your faith was tested and God was glorified. Consider the value others could glean from lessons you learned through setbacks and poor decisions.

If you carve out time for your next family reunion and share the love of Christ, what are the possible eternal rewards? 

It is not within our power to fathom how God can use us. He is capable of making transformations we never thought possible.


…which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
 so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they, in turn, would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.
Psalm 78:5b-7 (NIV)


A Book Review of THIS LIFE I LIVE by Rory Feek and a Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny

This Life I Live by Rory Feek
“I wish I was doing something important in my life.” Have you ever said these words? Longed for a life, or a love, that was exceptional?

God has the power to press the extraordinary out of the ordinary. Rory Feek can attest to that.

You'll have to forgive me. I’m probably in the 1% of folks who had not heard of Joey and Rory Feek until I saw a clip on Facebook a while back promoting their movie, To Joey with Love. But that one small clip drew me in. I knew I wanted to learn more about this ordinary man, this ordinary woman, and their extraordinary love story.

I’m sure country music fans are aghast that I was unfamiliar with the Feek name, but it is what it is. Perhaps it’s because I rarely listen to the radio, and country music isn’t what I typically listen to when I do.

Nonetheless, this book is not about country music. It’s about love, grace, and redemption. If you’re in the 1% like me and unfamiliar with the Feeks, the book, This Life I Live makes a wonderful introduction.

As the subtitle of the book states, it’s about “one man’s extraordinary, ordinary life and the woman who changed it forever.”


Unite for Life, Liberty, and Love

by Sally Matheny

Unite for Life, Liberty, and Love

This July 4, 2017, my rally cry is for Americans to unite.

It is understandable for those who do not have Christ living within them to be shackled by the ways of the world. But Christian brothers and sisters, we have a higher calling from the Creator of the world.

With a devotion first to God, we can come together as a country.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the  Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We are to unite as brothers, regardless of bloodlines, property lines, or political lines. But always speak the truth of God’s word.

“for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. . . that we should no longer be children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—“   -Ephesians 4:17-15 (NKJV)

Following the command to love one another also means loving those who are considered our adversaries. Remember the words of Jesus Christ, 
“ You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:43-48 (NKJV)


Book Review of MY NAME IS RIVER by Wendy Dunham & a Giveaway

by Sally Matheny

(My Name is River by Wendy Dunham)
If fictional worlds merged, I bet twelve-year-old, River Starling, in My Name is River, would pal around with Opal, the little girl in Because of Winn-Dixie. Both girls have similar spunk and curiosity.

However, the author, Wendy Dunham, masterfully presents River with the “class dork” for a friend. Since River is running low on camaraderie and has been assigned to do a class project with him anyway, River decides to give Billy a chance. Besides, her Gram always says, “If you judge a book by its cover, you may miss a Hemingway.”

Billy, a patient, kindhearted, handicapped student embraces life with a positive attitude. Experience has taught him how to adapt when necessary and persevere until a job is done well.

On the other hand, River impatiently waits on the answers she has about her life—like where are her birth parents, and her adoptive parents, for that matter. What can she tell people when they ask about her name? And what will happen to her if something happens to Gram?

Set in 1983 in West Virginia, River’s friendship with Billy grows deeper as they work on their school project, deal with a school bully, and as they search for answers to serious life questions.

My Name is River is a Christian, 144-page, chapter book published by Harvest House Publishers for readers ages 8-13.

Not only is it written with a Christian worldview, but also since Billy’s dad is a pastor, the reader is privy to hearing a clear message of the gospel presented in the story.

Readers will relish River’s honest and humorous viewpoint of the church, especially since she’s never attended church before.

     "I decide that even though they're technically called pews, I'm still going to call them benches. I don't think a word like pew is nice enough for a place like this."    - stated by River in My Name is River

I highly recommend this wholesome and entertaining book. I think girls may like it best, but boys will find value in it as well. Readers will “discover the unforgettable story of one girl’s search for a place to call home.”

I look forward to reading the sequel, Hope Girl, later this summer. But for now, I’m giving away a copy of My Name is River. Who wants to win this delightful book?

All you have to do to enter is make sure your name is on my email list. You can do this by entering your email in the sidebar on the right where it says, “Follow by Email.”

Once on the email list, you’ll receive updates from this blog, which is usually just one, but occasionally two per weekI hate spam. Don’t you? That’s why I will never share your email address with anyone for any reason.

That’s it. Easy as pie, right? I’ll place all the names from my email list in the drawing and will announce the winner on July 3.

If you'd like more information about My Name is River check it out at:
Amazon, Harvest House Publishers, or anywhere books are sold. 

While we’re waiting, I’m curious. What are your kids reading this summer?

KAREN B., FROM KENYA, you won the book! I'll contact you about where I should mail it. Congratulations!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author in return for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Summer Treasure: A Review of A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story

by Sally Matheny

Seeking Summer Treasure
(Pixabay photo)
It’s summer. Are you afraid whatever your child learned this year will wash up on a deserted island surrounded by a sea of forgetfulness? Oh, honey, me too.

I strongly support a short vacation from schooling, because as a homeschool mom, I need one, too!

However, two months without doing anything results in two or more months of recovering forgotten information once the school year starts back.

So, what are moms to do?

To avoid a revolution, strategize a compromise that is unique and fun. A Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story, may be the answer. In a coconut shell, it teaches the basic elements of a story.

Below is an excerpt from the letter to parents. Muster up your best pirate voice and read.

“Criticism be like a storm that sinks thar brain ship. But don’t be fooled—praise can be as deadly as sharpenin’ yer sword with a krakens tooth. So ye won’t be seein’ us give out no magical gold stars or blue ribbons or any o’ that thar landblubber stuff that be fillin’ a youngin’s head wit’ nonsense. We just have ‘em do thar work an’ laugh an’ dance an’ play along. Nothin’ quite as much fun as creativity, ya har!”
                                 -an excerpt from the notorious Pirate Captain Yogger LeFossa’s letter, 
                                                                      The Pirate’s Guide t’ th’ Grammar of Story

A Pirate's Guide t' th' Grammar of Story
The Pirate’s Guide is an all-in-one creative writing curriculum for students eight years old and up.

If your child is eleven or older, he will be able to work independently through this interactive, consumable book. But think how entertaining it would be if you donned an eye patch and read aloud Captain LeFossa’s words before your child began the day’s assignment.

Woven among the instructional and activity sections is an ongoing, entertaining story about Captain LeFossa, his talking monkeys, and their quest for an unusual treasure.

This adventurous tale features your student as the main character of the story, which pulls him right into the action.

Each brief “chapter” of the story incorporates a skill or concept introduced in the instruction and activity sections that follow.

While The Pirate’s Guide is witty, it is not void of valuable weight.  

“This is a serious curriculum that teaches the fundamental building blocks—the grammar—of a story.”

This is just a sampling of areas covered:

Mindstorming              Setting                               Values
Rules                          Symbols                             Backstory  
Problems                    Characterizations                 Character Values
Mystery                      Character Contradictions      Ticking Clock
Story Engine               Plot                                    Character Functions
Character Arc              Gaps and Expectation          Transformation

Currently, my twelve-year-old son and I are working on Chapter Argh Aye Aye (Ch. 7). There are twenty-six concepts covered in the 328-pages of the soft cover book. We’re taking our time and not rushing it so we can absorb and savor. The book suggests twenty-minute sessions, which is about what we’re doing.

I would not say my reluctant writer has become an enthusiastic writer just yet. Remember, we are only in chapter seven.

However, because of the lessons’ bite-size portions and their excellent presentations, The Pirate’s Guide has produced a more attentive student at my house. His understanding of what makes a great story, as well as his writing skills, are progressing.

I asked him what he liked most about the workbook. He said,

        “I like the pirate story. It’s fun. I like that I don’t have to do a lot of    
        writing all at once. I get to make lists and answer questions about 

This is true. The student learns about various writing concepts over a span of several lessons before actually putting them into practice by writing a complete story. 

One of the most important things I’ve witnessed is my son developing a can-do attitude toward writing.

And that, my friend, is a summer not wasted.

Since this blog has a Christian emphasis, I inquired about the faith and worldview of the author before agreeing to review this product. 

I was assured that while the product was not written specifically for the Christian market, it was written with a Christian worldview. “Nothing in it would contradict the Bible or Christian beliefs at all.”

I know that’s as important to you as it is to me. Here's a little more about the author, Chris Hansen.

“Chris Hansen has over a decade of experience training professional filmmakers and storytellers in creativity. He was the executive director of the Piko Fellowship in Screenwriting, a long-term residency program for film and television writers. As a founding member and senior advisor to the Wedgwood Circle, he has been a creative partner among a team of award-winning artists.”

Chris and his wife homeschool their three children and speak at numerous homeschool conventions.

We plan to continue working through the Pirate's Guide this summer. Based on what we've experienced so far, I recommend this book, especially for those who struggle with writing. And for those who may jump ship if you don't choose something entertaining as well as educational.

For more information:

So, readers, what educational treasures are you seeking for your children this summer?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in return for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Are We Teaching Our Children to Dishonor Their Fathers?

by Sally Matheny

Are we teaching our children to dishonor their fathers?

One, simple word, yet highly esteemed.

Most Christians know the fifth commandment given by God.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”  Exodus 20:12

Perhaps we’ve heard it so often we have become complacent about it.

I wonder. Are we teaching our children to dishonor their father?

Let me say, I understand not all fathers exhibit behaviors that are excellent and praiseworthy. Dads make mistakes. Some make more than others do.

However, God did not say honor your parents if they are kind, popular, or (fill-in-the-blank). God said to honor them.

I specifically want to address moms today.

As Christians, we long for our children to grow closer in their relationship with God. We know this is the key for them to thrive on this earth with hope and joy.

We pray that they will long for, learn from, and lean on Jesus Christ. One way to teach our children how to revere the Creator of the universe is to teach them how to how to honor their earthly father.

The best way to educate is to live by example. There are three ways to model honor—with attitude, words, and deeds.

Honor Begins With Attitude

I could say honor begins in the heart but if love or respect is lacking in the relationship, then that may not be the case.

So, let’s say it begins in the mind. It is an attitude we choose because God calls us to do it. If children have a loving father, this may not be near as difficult as it will be for those who do not.

Still, even if blessed with a godly father, we are naturally bent towards disobedience and selfish ambition. We need help in shaping a mindset pleasing to God.


How to Venture in a New Direction

by Sally Matheny

[How do we move when we are content where we are?
Pixabay photo]
I bought a beautiful hydrangea bush to plant in my yard. The flower, still in its pot, has been moved to four different locations. I can’t make up my mind where to plant it. The last time I planted a hydrangea, it died. I’m afraid I’ll mess this one up as well. After four weeks, it’s struggling because it's still sitting in the thin, plastic container, waiting on the transplant.

Our lives can be like that. Whether a school year closes, a business year ends, or we find ourselves pondering on New Year’s Eve, the question remains. Did I make a difference this year? Should I stay where I am? How do I know if I should venture in a new direction?


5 Ways to Make Our Kids Rich by Memorial Day

by Sally Matheny
Memorial Day-Teach the Next Generation

Here's five ways to make your kids rich by Memorial Day. 

Begin by telling them about Memorial Day.

Memorial Day—it’s more than a day off, more than grilling out, and more than sashaying in the days of summer with store sales.

Originally, the holiday commemorated those soldiers who died during the Civil War. Over time, it has developed into a day of remembering every person who has served in the military and given the ultimate sacrifice.

Talk about what attributes the military must have. Do we desire to have these as well?


and a good work ethic. 

They preserve peace when possible and fight for what is right, when necessary.

Preserving peace when possible--
fighting for what is right when necessary.

It's important to share our sense of gratitude for those who fought and died to protect our way of life. We can’t rightly do that to those who are no longer with us. 

But, we can model for our children how to appreciate retired veterans and those currently serving in the military.

Take time to hear their stories through books, lectures, letters, and films.
Talk with veterans. Glean wisdom from them while we still can. What did they learn from their time in service? What do they want the next generation to know?

Say Thank You

Teach children to honor veterans with:
a firm handshake of gratitude,
attentive eye contact (whether the person is standing, or in a wheelchair),
and somehow, 
either in word or deed, say "thank you."

By God’s sovereignty, what our military has done, and continues to do, is one reason we are able to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
Pray for them and ask God to bless our military, our veterans, and especially the families of those whose loved ones died while serving our country.

When children discover the value of freedom and the price that has been paid for it, they'll realize no matter what their circumstances, they are rich.