If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher…

Where would you be today without the encouragement of your teachers? That question prompted this blog post. In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m remembering two teachers who changed my path…

“Kimberly Blackadar,” my eight grade English teacher announced during roll call on the first day of school. Blackadar, Blackadar, Blackadar, he echoed until my last name slipped into silence. “That,” he emphasized, “is the name of a writer!” At thirteen, my most prolific writings were often folded and passed across the room, but my teacher definitely planted a seed. That seed took 25 years to produce fruit, but in 2009, I published my first novel.

Another teacher planted a different seed, with a shorter, four-year germination period. My senior year English teacher presented literature from its historical and cultural perspective. She taught us how to analyze language and look for hidden meanings. I spotted Biblical allusions in the pages of my textbook and began to view literature as a response to faith. For my high school term paper, I wrote on Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus and whether his work promoted atheistic ideology. I developed an appreciation for literary analysis and the research process. Before graduation, my teacher pulled me aside: “You should consider becoming an English teacher.”

Two teachers.

Two seeds.

One life transformed.


When I became a teacher, I realized the importance of my words and have witnessed the fruits of my labor. As an author, I have returned to the classroom, and sometimes the teacher is a former student. What greater blessing, as a teacher, than to be in the classroom of a former student?

Teachers provide encouragement daily.

How can we return the favor?

Thank a teacher today.


A 7-Day Devotional for Kids

A Seven-Day Devotional for Kids (1)

Introducing a 7-Day Devotional for Kids.

Short Enough to Finish Everything.

Long Enough to Learn Something.  


Download your FREE copy of A 7-Day Devotional for Kids – Love


What’s in This Book? 

  • 7 Days of Lessons


  • A Prayer Journal


  • A Set of Verse Cards







Why Did I Write This Book?

Well, I have two teenagers, but when they were younger, we attempted daily devotionals, long ones, spanning 365 days. We might have lasted a few weeks, sometimes longer, but we often felt defeated for not sticking to the routine. Okay, I felt defeated. They didn’t seem to harness any guilt over the 300-and-something, unread pages in the book.

Sometimes we would cycle back to a devotional—and wouldn’t you know it—we would often hit the same passages. It was like we had yearly trends for when we were more “devoted” to devotionals. There might be a research project somewhere in there, but I probably don’t need to analyze statistical data to understand the pattern and develop a strategy.

We needed a shorter devotional book—something that lasted a month, or maybe a week. Unfortunately, what we needed wouldn’t be substantial enough for a book. It would be more like a booklet, something you wouldn’t find in a bookstore, but something you could find online.

I developed this 7-day devotional for children, from preschool to elementary age, so your family can set short-term goals and achieve them. This devotional will be part of series of online resources for families, and this verse will remain at the heart of this and future studies:

I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

PSALM 119:11



Reblogged from Almost Iowa: The Old Man Who Death Ignored

The following post comes from Almost Iowa, a blog that offers clever, humorous, and thought-provoking short stories. Enjoy!


There was an old man who was so old that even the children who once considered him old had long since past from memory. And with every passing day, he grew older, not only in days, but in body and spirit as well. His skin continued to wither, his bones grew more brittle and his disposition […]

via The Old Man Who Death Ignored — Almost Iowa

Sentence Opener Series #3: Top Ten Sentence Openers

Why should we vary our sentence openers? Well, if we don’t, we may sound like this:

SENTENCE OPENER SERIESI will write five sentences.

They will have five words.

The sentences sound the same.

I should vary their lengths.

That would sound much better.

Since each sentence contains the same number of words and begins with the same subject opener, it sounds redundant. Varying your sentence lengths and openers adds musicality and interest to your writing. Here are some ways to transform a simple sentence about my lazy cat:


#1 – Subject

Most sentences, like this one, begin with a subject.

Lucy sleeps all day.


#2 – Adverb

Use a flexional adverb, also known as an -ly word, to start a simple sentence. Here’s a list of flexional adverbs.

Frequently, Lucy sleeps all day.


#3 – Prepositional Phrase

Add a prepositional phrase to the beginning of a sentence. Here’s a list of prepositions.

In the warm rays of the sun, Lucy sleeps all day.


#4 – Adverb Clause

Begin a dependent clause with an adverb. Abbreviated as as www.asia.wub, most clauses begin with the following adverbs: when, where, while, as, since, if, although, whereas, unless, and because.

Because she plays at night, Lucy sleeps all day.


#5 – Infinitive Phrase

An infinitive is “to plus a verb,” and when used in a phrase, it provides another sentence opener.

To obtain boundless energy for the night, Lucy sleeps all day.


# 6 – Present Participle

A present participle is “a verb plus -ing.”

Playing all night, Lucy sleeps all day.


#7- Past Participle

A past participle is “a verb plus -ed.”

Exhausted from a night of mischief, Lucy sleeps all day.


# 8 – Dual

A dual opener combines two parallel grammatical components, such as two present participles.

Playing and meowing all night, Lucy sleeps all day.


#9 – Triple

A triple opener combines three parallel grammatical components, such as three present participles.

Playing, meowing, and running all night, Lucy sleeps all day.


#10 – Short Sentence

When used sparingly, a sentence of 2-5 words can add emphasis.

Lucy sleeps.


Here’s the link to TOP TEN SENTENCE OPENERS.


While I wrote this blog post, Lucy slept in a chair, got up, turned around, and slept some more. Like Lucy, did the topic of sentence openers have a soporific effect on you? (Please do not answer that question in the comment section.)




Sentence Openers Series #2: “There (Is/Are)”

How should we start a sentence? There are numerous ways, but this is NOT the best one.SENTENCE OPENER SERIES

Avoid these sentence openers:

There are…

There is…

There (is/are) better ways to start a sentence.

Reason #1: Pronoun-Verb Agreement (or Disagreement)

Do you remember those pronoun-verb agreement worksheets in school?

Circle the best answer:

  1. There (is/are) nineteen cats in my house.
  2. There (is/are) a burglar in my kitchen.

With nineteen cats in my house and a burglar in my kitchen, I would have greater worries than finding the agreeable linking verb. Agreed?

By eliminating “there (is/are),” you don’t have to worry about the agreement of your linking verb. You can focus on the cats and the burglar. Maybe he’s a cat burglar?


Reason #2:Linking Verbs vs. Action Verbs (Action Verbs Always Win)

Here’s the thing: In most cases we can eliminate “there are” from our writing. It’s a weak pronoun-verb construction, and by removing it, we could add an action verb to our sentence. The object of the “there are” construction can move into the subject spot, and then you have the opportunity to describe what the subject is doing.

There are nineteen cats.


Nineteen cats circle my living room and consume copious amounts of food.



There are various ways to end this blog post.


Various ways to end this blog post would be better than this one.

Sentence Openers Series: Opinion Statements

Sentence Openers Series #1: Avoid Opinion Statements

SENTENCE OPENER SERIESEvery sentence needs a beginning, but we should avoid certain introductory phrases. Consider both the effectiveness and necessity of the words you select. A sentence, especially the initial one, should start strong. A sentence opener is the enticing bait on your hook. A hook is your initial sentence and how you lure someone into your writing.

Sentence Opener Rule #1: Avoid opinion statements as sentence openers.

In the primary grades, teachers offer sentence starters to help students begin a sentence. Many elementary school handouts offer opinion statements, and young writers learn to write by giving their thoughts on a subject. As we evolve as writers, we should avoid these starters to begin our sentences:

I think that…

I feel like…

I guess that…

I hope that…this might be a decent sentence.

Opinion openers are the speech crutches of written communication. It’s like saying “um” at the beginning of your sentence. Um, who wants that in their writing? Well, you can safely remove them, and voila, your sentence is completely intact.

In addition, opinion openers weaken the credibility of the writer–especially in a persuasive piece. They offer an uncertain tone, and your reader may doubt your authority on an issue.

When I edit for someone, this is how I treat opinion statements as sentence openers:

I think that I will start a blog.

I feel like I have something to say.

I guess that It’s important to share my thoughts.

I hope that I can impact others with my words.





Poetry for Easter

These poems, written in various forms, capture the Easter message beautifully. As I post this today, I remember our poet-friend, Robert Burnham, who has two poems included here. Robert went home to be with our Savior in 2015.

Have a blessed Easter!

(This is a repost from 2011.)


“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried,

that he was raised on the third day.” -1 Corinthians 15:3-5

“Good Friday Kyrielle”

by Sheila Deeth

From dust to earth from earth to seed

From seed to leaf from leaf to tree

From tree to cross against the sky

The earth has borne my Savior high

The lamb will birth, the flower bloom

The canopy of sky make room

The page of history burn dry

For earth has borne my Savior high

The stalks of grain will manger make

And scattered crops for food he’ll take

Then palm to cross I’ll twist and tie

The earth has borne my Savior high

The one who made each living thing

Gave life, gave hope, gave seed, gave wing

The king we hailed, then crucified

The earth has borne my Savior high

One dawn these clouds will roll away

The sky will fall and end the day

Then we who live will never die

For earth has borne our Savior high

“The Cross”

by John Beck


For centuries upon this earth

I stood with pride and grew in girth

Until by man I was undone

To crucify the Holy One

Who could have known that from this tree

A cross would change eternity

Hewn from my trunk they had begun

To crucify the Holy One

Should I bear shame for I took part

In cross intended from the start

Now standing here under the sun

To crucify the Holy One

Or should I stand with humble pride

As symbol for all who abide

With Him? They know not what they’ve done

To crucify the Holy One

Don’t You Know He Cried For You

©2011 Robert C Burnham

Mindful Poetry Contest: Anapeat for Holy Week.

Were you there when Jesus died

Did you object when Peter lied

Did you mock Him when he looked your way

Where were you on that fateful day

Don’t you know He cried for you

Don’t you know He wanted your heart too

Were you there when Jesus died

Laughing at Mary as she cried

Did you know he saw you on that day

There was nowhere to run or hideaway

Don’t you know He cried for you

Made no difference Gentile or Jew

Were you there when Jesus died

Winced from the flesh that fell from His side

Were you afraid when the sky went gray

When lightning bolts flashed and thunder splayed

When the temple veil was torn in two

Did it seem that hell was following you

Were you there when Jesus died

Did you hear the words that Jesus cried

“Father forgive them on this day,

They do not know they’ve gone astray”

Don’t you know He cried for you

He gave so much to see you through

Were you there when Jesus died?


By Marianne K.

Rejoice my friend
paint the sky blue
let darkness flee

Call forth the truth
of triumph on earth
of glory divine

The King of Kings
the Lord of Lords
with love descends

The sun bursts forth
upon the Son of God
who died and rose

Rejoice my friend
sing hymns of praise
hands to him raise



© Robert Burnham

Did you see the blackened sky

As they nailed Him to the cross

Did you see tears in Mary’s eyes

Did you contemplate her loss

Or were your eyes shut tight

Self-blinded to the cost

Did you listen when they mocked Him

Did you hear them curse His name

Did you hear the silence of His disciples

As they turned and ran in shame

Or were your ears waxed shut

To the lonely cries of His pain

Did you shout out in protest

At the cruel things that were done

Did you forget how to speak

As though the cat had your tongue

Were your lips glued tight together

While they crucified God’s Son.


I would like to thank these poets for their words and for letting me post their poems. I hope all of you have a very blessed Easter! 


Squeaky Doors

On March 19, I started a devotional book, and for a solid month, I had been at my computer, typing happily. I kept on my self-imposed schedule and produced a few devotionals a day. I was happy. I was organized. I was focused.

And then I decided to share my re-entry to the writing world with others. This brought me to social media, which brought me to the blog, which had me thinking about hosting authors on the site again, which then led me to Canva to design graphics for the aforementioned sites, which led me back to Facebook, which, by the magic of pressing a link, brought me here again.

When my “writing world” gets cluttered with distractions, I think of Jane Austen and her portable writing box. When she lived in the Chawton cottage, her biggest distraction was the squeaky door into her bedroom.


I have a multitude of “squeaky doors,” and Google is the key to finding many of them. I also have these cute cats, laundry, birds chirping outside, and the desire to snack even though I am not hungry.

(At the top of the screen, I spot the number of Facebook notifications. I resist the temptation to check them out and decide, instead, on a speedy ending to this blog post.)

At the end of today, my husband will ask, “Did you get a lot of writing done?”

“Yes,” I can answer without fibbing.

After all, I wrote this.



Easter Book List: Suggestions for All Ages (Babies, Children, Middle School, Teens, & Adults)

Our family has over 100 Christmas books but only 4 Easter books. In an effort to expand our library with books that offered a true meaning of Easter, I ended up with an extensive book list. The Legend of the Three Trees has been our favorite for many years, but now that I have two teenagers, I wanted to reach them where they are now.

IMG_0354 (1)


I was thrilled to find Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith in Kids’ (8-12) editions and student editions (teens). I have met Lee Strobel, and he’s the most genuine person. Here’s my copy of The Case for Christ as well as his autograph. I plan to read The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection this Easter season.

Early Readers (Birth – 4)

This is Easter: Our Daily Bread for Little Hearts by Crystal BowmanTeri McKinley

Jesus is Risen: An Easter Pop-Up Book by Agostino Traini

The Story of Easter by Thomas Nelson

Children (5-8)

God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren

The Easter Story by Patricia A. Pangry

The Easter Cave by Carol Wedeven

The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs

Humphrey’s First Palm Sunday by Carol Heyer

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Angela Elwell Hunt 

Middle Grades (9-12)

The Donkey Who Carried a King by R.C. Sproul

Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco

The Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel

Teen (13-17)

What Makes a Hero?: The Death-Defying Ministry of Jesus by Matt Rawle

The Case for Christ: Student Edition by Lee Strobel


The Case for Easter: A Journalist Investigates the Evidence for the Resurrection by Lee Strobel

The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene by Liz Curtis Higgs 

The “Secret” is Out! (But Why is it Free?)

Dear Readers,

I had intended to release The Secrets We Keep after a month or so of promotion, but after uploading the book on Smashwords, I just couldn’t allow it to sit there and not be read by someone other than Mindy (my amazing friend and editor who deserves endless accolades) and me. After all, some of you have been waiting 1,765 days since the release of NBTAM to get the second installment. (Yes, I am finding more and more uses for that date calculator. See previous post.)

When asked why I am offering the book for free, I have a few answers for that query:

  1. I write as a hobby, not a profession. Many authors quit their jobs to become writers. I am so taken by their stories. I offer the story of Bethany Turner and her books. Read her story, her books, and support someone who wants to turn writing into a sustainable career.
  2. Free entices more people. We will try anything for free. That is why so many people eat seaweed when Costco has it for a sample on Saturday afternoon.
  3. Consider it a gift to all my loyal NBTAM readers. After all, you waited a long time to find out what happens next in the life of the Seven Cs. I’m certain many of you suffered insomnia over it, right?
  4. 3. I would prefer a book review over any payment. Really, this is very important. Books climb out of the pit of obscurity when people review them. Please go to Smashwords and iBooks to give reviews. These retailers have the ebook up on their sites already. Also, you can review the book on Goodreads. Review the book by selecting the number of stars it deserves. That is all. 🙂
  5. Books need promotion to sell. I do not want to spend my time promoting a book: I want to spend my time writing the third one. Plus, if I used a pie chart as an illustration, you would see that only a small sliver of my life is devoted to writing. I’m a full-time homeschooling mom who serves as a director at Classical Conversations. That’s my job. (See #1 for more on that!)

Okay, that is all. I am going to work on book #3. I have made a promise to write a little every day, so I can continue delivering books to all of you.

Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Happy reading!