• Candida,  Health,  Personal

    The Candida Chronicles

    I’m feeling mentally weak today. I prayed and asked God to give me strength. Honestly though, the desire to take care of myself isn’t really there. On my own, I’m feeble. I find this struggle to be as much physical as it is mental.

    Two things overwhelm me:

    1. That this journey has no end. It’s life from now on.

    2. The idea of eating a paleo diet with my family of six is a lot to take in. Josh has been so nice about it. But let’s face it-sugar comforts us. It gives this release of happiness in our brain. It’s almost like a drug. I mean, isn’t that why we go and eat chocolate in the closet when our kids are screaming? It makes us feel better. Right? Needless to say, the family is warming up to the idea…but it’s a slow warm up. V e r y S l o w.

    But it helps to remember why I want to take care of myself. Processing these thoughts and writing them down, I hope will encourage me later down the road when I’m feeling weak.

    So here’s why I’m saying good bye to donuts(and basically changing the way I eat for the rest of my life):

    1. If it doesn’t get rid of all the pain(after all, there is no guarantee), it certainly gets rid of most of it. My body feels better when I invest in it.

    2. I don’t always want to be wondering “When is my next flare up going to be?” During flare ups the pain brings me to tears. It’s frustrating. I don’t want to end up in bed guzzling water and wondering if I’ll ever be normal again. I’ve said good bye to normal. It’s time to embrace the life I’ve got.

    3. I want to be a good steward of the body that God has given me. I realize there are some people who only dream of doing what I’m able to do. Some people wish that their cure was as simple as eating healthy and exercising. There’s obviously more to it than that, but I can be thankful and steward my body the best I know how for the Lord Jesus.

    4. In James it says, “Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire wanting nothing ”…he was talking about our faith. Faith grows when we let patience work in us. This whole experience of not knowing the end of the story- of fighting candida and the pain that goes with it for the rest of my life can be discouraging. But it teaches me patience. I get to keep living🙂❤️So I choose to allow patience to work-no matter how the story ends.

    5. I want to be fully present in my kid’s lives. When I’m fighting candida, my mind isn’t the same. I’m not fully present. I forget things more. I worry more. I’m so tired all the time. I don’t feel mentally or physically like myself. Taking care of myself helps me be more present.

    This road isn’t going to be easy.

    In fact, it may last the rest of my life-the doctor said that was likely to happen. So-here’s to the hard road. I’m chugging along, refusing to quit no matter how I might feel about it. God’s decided to give me some lemons-and by his grace I’m about to make myself some amazing sugar free lemonade 😂(see what I did there?)

  • Homeschool,  Photography,  Photography Lessons

    Photography Lessons By Rachel Dawn~Episode 3

    Today we are going to define and discuss one part of exposure. After this lesson, you should know what shutter speed is, how it works inside your camera, and how changing your shutter speed affects your photographs.

    BUT FIRST-What is exposure?

    Inside your digital camera, there is a little sensor. The sensor is exposed to light. The goal is to expose the sensor in your camera to the correct amount of light. If the picture is overexposed, it means that the sensor was exposed to too much light making the photo too bright. If the picture is underexposed, it means that the sensor wasn’t exposed to enough light, which results in an image that is too dark. Our goal in beginning photography is to expose the sensor correctly. We want to be able to see all the detail in the photo-nothing too bright or too dark.

    To better understand the idea of exposure, you need to know more about the parts involved. There are three parts to exposure: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. For this lesson we will only be focusing on shutter speed.

    Shutter Speed

    Think of shutter speed like your eyelid. You can control how long the your eyelid stays open. The same idea happens inside your camera. The shutter-like your eyelid-“blinks.” Some blinks take longer than others. You are in charge of how long or short you’d like the “eyelid” (or shutter) to be open.

    When you think of shutter speed, think of two things: Motion and Light.

    Shutter speed determines motion.

    Shutter speed determines how much motion is captured by the sensor. Ok, so what in the world does that mean? I’ll show you. In the photo below, you notice that the cream is falling into the cup in a blur of motion. It isn’t a nice detailed line of cream; it’s more smooth, and shows the movement of how the cream fell into the cup. When the shutter inside your camera (think eyelid;-)) is open for a longer amount of time, the motion is captured in a blur. The “eyelid” is open longer so the sensor is able to capture all the movement from the creamer. The opposite is also true. The shorter amount of time the shutter is open, the less motion will be captured.

    Shutter speed determines light.

    Shutter speed also affects the light in the photograph. When the shutter is open for a long period of time, more light is allowed to reach the sensor. So the longer the shutter is open, the brighter the image; the shorter the shutter is open, the darker the image.

    This photo was taken with a long shutter speed. The “eyelid” was open for a long amount of time. The longer shutter speed captured the motion of the cream falling into the tea cup.
    This photo was taken with a short shutter speed. The shorter (less time) shutter speed captured the crisp lines and motion more clearly. It doesn’t blur the motion; it captures what motion was there in that small amount of time.


    So this is what you need to remember:

    When thinking of shutterspeed, think of 2 things: Light and Motion. Here are the relationships you need to know.

    LONG SHUTTERSPEEDS mean more light and more motion in your image(but be careful of blurring the photo.)

    SHORT SHUTTERSPEEDS mean less light and less motion in your image. (sharp lines, crisp edges in the photo.)


    Measuring Shutter Speed

    You measure shutter speed in fractions of a second. The shutter speed of 1/30 is slower and open longer than the shutter speed of 1/4000. What you want your image to look like has a big impact on what your shutter speed should be. Some questions I ask myself when setting my shutter speed: Do I want my image to be sharp or do I want to capture motion? If I want to capture motion then my shutter speed will be longer. If I want my image sharp with crisp lines then I want my shutter speed to be shorter. I recommend you memorize some common shutter speed settings. This chart on Pinterest is a great reference.

    Test Your Knowledge

    What kind of shutter speed (long or short) would you set your camera to if you want to show the motion of a runner crossing the finish line? Tell what shutter speed would you set your camera to if you wanted to capture a flat lay for your blog? What kind of shutter speed would you use if you wanted to capture the water flowing through a stream?

    Homework

    For homework, look at some photos online. Pinterest is a great resource. Ask yourself what kind of shutter speed you would use in order to get the same image? Or maybe you’d want the image totally different. How would you change your shutter speed in order to get the opposite effect?


  • Homeschool,  Photography,  Photography Lessons

    Photography Lessons By Rachel Dawn: Episode Two

    For today, we are going to explain the assignments (yes, it’s more than one). But you’ll have the next two weeks to get the assignments finished. The best way to learn photography is to work through every assignment. If you missed Episode One, be sure to head on over to that post first. It will help you better understand all the assignments for Episode Two.

    First Assignment ~ Journal Your Why

    Your first assignment is to write a little blurb in your journal about why you want to learn photography. It can be one sentence or an entire page. I want you to remind yourself now, so that when you’re tempted to quit, you’ll look back and encourage yourself.

    Second Assignment ~ Draw and Label Your Camera

    Your second assignment is to label some parts on your camera. You can draw a picture of your camera (or use the print out below) in your journal and label the following things:

    1. How to put your camera into Manual Mode

    2. How to change the shutter speed

    3. How to change the aperture

    4. How to change the ISO

    5. How to change the white balance

    There are many more buttons on your camera, but for this course, these are going to be our main focus. It’s important that you familiarize yourself with where these buttons/dials are on your camera so that when I mention them later, you’ll know exactly where they are. For more information and hints for where to find these items on your camera, watch the video down below.

    It’s important that you have your manual for this assignment. Manuals usually have a diagram of the camera with all the buttons and dials labeled. This should help you find the buttons and dials I mentioned.

    NOTE: To print the outlines, first save the photo as a PDF. Then print.

    Also, keep in mind, this isn’t an art class. You don’t have to draw a perfect camera diagram to scale. Just make it so you know what it means. Be creative-think outside what’s normal…be different. The important thing is that you learn your camera! 😉

    Third Assignment

    This is my favorite one! Take four photos and get them developed. I know I haven’t taught you anything about the camera yet, but that’s the point. I want you to see your growth from how you took photos before the course to how you will take photos after the course. For the photos you take, I recommend you do it in a variety of places-inside and outside. Have fun with it. Then get those four photos developed and put them into your journal. To see my recommendations for where to print photos, go check out the first photography lesson. Also, remember there is no editing for this photography course.

    Photography Lessons By Rachel Dawn- Episode Two
    The capital M on the dial means that the camera is in manual mode.
    The fraction shows the shutter speed. The decimal shows the aperture. Can you find what else is on the list?

    Conclusion

    That concludes the second episode for this photography course. I would love to see your assignments! Feel free to message me your assignments over on Instagram @byracheldawn, or use the hashtag #photographylessonsbyracheldawn. I won’t grade them. =-) But I would love to see them.

  • Homeschool,  Photography,  Photography Lessons

    Photography Lessons By Rachel Dawn: Episode One

    For the first photography lesson, we’re going to be covering all the tools you’ll need for the entire course, and why you need them.

    Camera

    For this course, you need a DSLR camera. In simple terms, it means that you need a camera that has a removable lens. I work with a Canon camera and lens, but the brand doesn’t matter. To find out what camera I recommend, go and check out my blog post Cameras: Which One Should I Buy?. But keep in mind, I know great photographers who work with Nikon, Sony, and Sigma. I’ve also asked a few other photographers to share their recommendations as well. It’s good to get other’s perspectives.

    Kathleen over at The New Girl in Nashville says,

    A great camera to start with as a fashion photographer is any full-frame camera. A full-frame camera gives you more control over the images you shoot; the ability to crop images to fit any type of editorial is much easier. I recommend an 85mm lens for fashion portraits and a high-speed zoom lens (70-200mm) for runway shows or any shoot where the models are using movement. I recommend spending money on a high quality lens and looking more for the camera body that fits within your budget. Camera bodies are always changing, but lenses will last a lifetime!

    Camera Nikon D850 here

    85mm lens here (another option a lot cheaper here)

    70-200mm lens here

    Kathleen Clipper Photography
    Maria over at Maria Ann Photography says,

    Hi, My name is Maria and I’m the photographer behind the lens at Maria Ann Photography. My photography journey started after the birth of my first daughter, ya know, a momtographer. 🙂 In 2010, after my last baby turned one, I realized that my babies were growing up way too fast, and it was at that moment, that I decided I wanted to take my photography to the next level. I also wanted to capture amazing memories for other families too. The very first camera I purchased was the Canon Rebel T3 which has been discontinued. The T3i is comparable to it, but one step above mine.  I currently shoot with the Canon Mark III (which I absolutely LOVE) and my back up is the Canon 6D.”

    Maria Ann Photography
    Jennie at Jennie Tewell Photography says,

    “My camera recommendation is going to be for the aspiring professional photographer. There are a lot of great cameras out there that are a little less expensive, but if you are wanting to go the professional route, I would definitely recommend a Canon 6D. I’m a Canon girl, but I’m sure there are other brands with a similar camera. It is an amazing camera, and will be fully capable to use professionally. It is a full frame, which I feel is a must, but also has a quick auto focus and works good in low light. You can find them super affordable if you look for a used one too! “

    Jennie Tewell Photography
    Brittanie over at A Quiet Soul says,

    “Even entry level cameras are 100x’s better than what we had 15 years ago! I love Canon & recommend you buy a DSLR camera body – the best you can reasonably afford. Skip the kit lens and get a prime lens according to your taste. I recommend one of these three: 50mm 1.8 (the most versatile), 35mm (great for wider angle shots) or 85mm (best for close portraits). A creative eye works much better than all the expensive gear.”  

    A Quiet Soul

    Camera Manual

    When I first taught myself photography, I learned from two resources. The most important resource was the camera manual. (The second was blogs!) Yup. I know. Who really reads the manual, right? Well, you will. LOL. Every camera comes with a manual-a book of directions telling you all about your camera. This is important because while camera brand doesn’t necessarily matter for this course, the manual does matter because it tells you exactly where everything is on your camera. When I mention specific buttons, you’ll get out the manual for your camera. You’ll look it up, and find out exactly where that button is on your camera. The important thing to remember is that I can’t tell you where every button is on your camera, but your manual does.

    Camera Strap

    This is basic, I know. And honestly, if you wanted to go without the strap, I get it. But I wanted to mention it because using the camera strap incorrectly for so many years has caused permanent damage to my neck and upper back. I go into more detail about how to use a camera strap in the video below. But I encourage you not to use your camera strap to hold the weight of the camera. The best way to hold your camera is in your hands. Use the strap only when absolutely needed. I promise, it will save you from a lot of pain down the road.

    Notebook & Pen

    The notebook and pen is to keep track of your progress. You can print out your photos and use washi tape to post them in your notebook. For printing your photos I recommend online printing labs. Mpix and Artifact Uprising are great places to get your photos printed. The best part is you don’t have to leave your house to do it. You can also write down any important things your want to remember about your camera. I will also be making some printables along the way that you’ll want to put into your notebook for reference. Over time you’ll love looking back to see how you’ve grown in your skills.

    Computer & Printer

    You’ll need a computer for downloading your images. You also need a computer to send them to print through an online printing lab. But keep in mind that there will be no editing in this photography course. You don’t need photoshop or lightroom. The first step to becoming a great photographer is to learn your camera. Then down the road, an editing class would be great to help you add a little more pop to your photos. The printer will be used for any charts or printables I make for you to print off and put into your notebook.

    Patience

    Rome wasn’t built in a day. So it makes sense to say you won’t become an incredible photographer in a day. It takes practice. Work. Lots of work. When you’re tempted to give up-because you will be-I encourage you to remember why you wanted to learn photography in the first place. I wanted to learn photography because I wanted to share our heritage with my great grandchildren. I imagine myself sitting with them and looking at photo albums. Telling them stories of life and God’s goodness. That’s what pictures remind me of. I see God’s story wrapping it’s way around my own- and I want to share that with my great grand children.

    Conclusion

    That concludes the first episode of the photography lessons here on the blog. I’m so excited to share the next episode with you. I can’t wait to see you grow and improve in your photography skills. And before you go, tell me why you want to learn photography! When you know your why it helps you stay motivated to learn!

  • Encouragement,  Watercolor

    On Being Broken

    I revisited a pit this week. Yeah, I know, that sounds weird. But stay with me. 

    I was feeling low. Emotional. Just not myself. I didn’t want to hang out with me. Make sense? 

    My thoughts had been going back to someone else’s critical, hurtful words. That was the pit. 

    You see, I had poured my heart out to someone. I was craving encouragement and wisdom.  I needed someone to see my whole story, but still see me as valuable. 

    We all have our dark closets.

    I thought I could trust her. I opened the door. The things you’re afraid to say out loud-those are the things I said. I was searching for hope-for someone to let me lean into them. I wanted someone to pray with me and for me.

    But instead of encouragement, there was judgement. Instead of hope, accusations. Over and over, I listened to how I wasn’t good enough. I fell short. I missed the mark. My life’s circumstances-my story- made me unfit and unable to discern what was right. She said if I did life like her, things would be different. 

    Her words made the pit.

    But my heart jumped into the pit.

    I spent months there. 

    Questions plagued me. Am I enough? Maybe I’m not a good mother? Maybe all my baggage is too much? What if I’m doing this all wrong?  Can God do something with me? Why am I alive? Do my kids really need me? 

    And this week,  I found myself looking down into that pit again and remembering all I had felt.

    Broken. 

    I’ve never doubted my worth more than when I listened to her. 

    But I will not listen to those lies again.

    This is me refusing to jump into that pit. People will think what they’ll think. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. My identity is found in Christ Jesus alone-not in what others think of me.

    I am not enough. But Jesus is. I make mistakes. I sin. But thank God he saves from sin, and makes beauty out of ashes. He has the power to work through every mistake. My baggage is part of my story.

    What she saw as my weakness-God sees as an opportunity for his glory.

    I’m alive for the glory of Jesus Christ. To know him. To enjoy him, and to point others to His incredible grace. And for as long as God allows I will speak truth. I won’t ever stop. I’ll shout it out loud till the day I take my last breath. 

    I am not enough!! But Jesus is!

    Maybe right now, your standing near the edge of a pit. I’m not sure what your pit is, but let me speak truth into your life. 

    You are not enough, but Jesus is. You are not what others think about you. Your baggage does not define you. God sees your whole story and still says you are valuable. You are made in the image of God, and you were put on this earth for a purpose that only you can fulfill. God wants you. You matter to him. 

    So, grab my hand.

    No really, grab it. I’ll be the voice that speaks truth to you. Lift up your head. Turn your back on that pit. I’m turning my back on mine, too. Refuse to listen to the lies. Remember the truth. Together, let’s walk away with our heads held high because even though we are not enough, Jesus is.

  • Family,  Family Relationships,  Watercolor

    The Seasons of Marriage

    I remember being a little girl and dreaming of my prince charming. Playing with makeup and fluffy dresses, I pretended to be a princess. Back then life was a fairytale.

    When I grew up, I still thought life was a fairytale. I met Josh and thought he was the one. My prince. The man that would complete me, fulfill me, and be everything that I needed.

    I married him.

    My fairytale shattered.

    Less than a year into our marriage, I lay on our overstuffed green striped chair in the living room crying. Was this going to be my life forever? Would he ever understand me?

    If I could write to my younger self-to the girl crying in the chair, this is what I’d tell her.

    Walk with Jesus.

    I know it sounds cliché. But he is your anchor. More than anything, you need Jesus.

    When your husband doesn’t see things from your perspective, walk with Jesus. Ask Jesus to open your eyes to see life from His perspective.

    When you are tempted to cast blame, and point out all of your husband’s short comings, walk with Jesus. Replace the blame with kind encouraging words.

    Marriage is made up of seasons.

    Some seasons are sad. Some are full of unspeakable joy. And most of the time, seasons are not forever. But no matter the season in your marriage, keep walking with Jesus.

    I know. The theme is redundant-this always walking with Jesus. But there is no hope apart from him. Your problems are often God’s furnace…he’s making you and your husband into gold-burning away the dross. Don’t fight it. Embrace it. Let the brokenness fall away and give yourself over to Jesus completely.

    So, sit up in that chair. Wipe your eyes. I’m going to tell you something that will make your head spin. You ready?

    Jesus rescues you. He’s the real prince. He lived and died to prove how much he loves you. The day you make your marriage about Jesus is the day your marriage becomes a beautiful portrait of the Gospel.

    And surprisingly, I still see that life is sort of like a fairytale. My fairytale version of marriage shattered, but Jesus picked up those pieces, melted away the dross (he’s still melting some of the dross away), and he’s making our marriage a picture of the Gospel. Jesus came and loved me in my darkest moments. He died in my place. But he didn’t stop there, he gave me more.

    In fact, one of the greatest gifts he’s given me is Josh. My husband. My best friend. Josh forgives me for my darkest moments; and I forgive him for his darkest moments. He loves me no matter what; I love him no matter what.

    And now that I think about it, that sounds like an incredible fairytale to me-Forgiveness and Unconditional love.

    So remember- walk with Jesus.


  • Family,  Family Relationships,  Watercolor

    Loving Unlovable Children

    I started a blog post about this early last week. It was almost finished, then I deleted it.

    Here’s the truth about loving your kids when they’re unlovable.

    It’s hard. It hurts. Sometimes there are lots of tears. Sometimes there’s anger at yourself-your kids. Love doesn’t come naturally. When do we ever want to hug the person who rolls their eyes at us? When do we ever want to chase after the heart of a person who consistently reminds us of our mistakes? Does it ever become easy to love your child when they throw that temper tantrum in the middle of Target?

    I’m not having a light conversation here, this is real stuff.

    The stuff of motherhood often makes us want to run to our bed and cry. Cry because we’re lost and we have no idea what we’re doing. How do you do this? How do you love them when you don’t even know if your doing this mom thing right?

    Well, I could give you a list of how-to’s to deal with them. In fact, my first draft was just that. It was a how to guide-but seriously, how can you write a how-to guide for every mother in the universe. We all have our stories. We’re inside our lives struggling through things like the terrible twos, depression, wondering if we’re enough- all while trying to raise these tiny humans.

    We have our stories. You have your story.

    Maybe you’re at the end. Maybe you don’t know what’s next. You read your story and feel hopeless because motherhood is hard. You’re wondering what in the world to do. How do you do this mom thing? How do you love these kids when they aren’t lovable? And even when they are lovable, how do you do it? How?

    As I write the question, I’m screaming it out in my soul. “God, write it on the sky!? Please, God I beg you. I can’t do this alone.”

    Then a quietness suddenly fills me, and I realize something.

    The inaudible voice says something like a whisper in my heart, he says, ” It’s impossible to know how to love your children unless you first experience God’s love for you.”

    Have you ever experienced God’s love? This isn’t a touchy feely kind of love. It’s the real thing. Tangible. Life-changing. Turn your world upside down kind of love.

    Recently, I’ve been reminded of his love.

    There’s this story in the Bible-it’s one of my favorites. It’s about a woman caught in adultery. Yeah, that’s right. She’s caught having sex. And she’s brought out in front of the people-the people who have been judging her for her whole life -and they all pick up their stones. They snarl at her. Look at her like she’s worth less than the dirt they’re standing on. Disgust. Loathing. Condemnation fills them. And there she is in the middle. Maybe she has a sheet wrapped around her body. She’s shaking. Her shame evident to the entire world.

    And the people look at Jesus and they ask him, “What are you going to do with this sinner?!”

    As if Jesus should be taking up his stone. But he bends down and randomly starts writing in the sand. The Bible doesn’t say what he wrote. But finally, Jesus looked up into the eyes of the people who surrounded this woman and said, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”

    Can you imagine the woman? Her head down in shame afraid to look at anyone. But then suddenly she hears something drop to the ground. She glances carefully over to the sound and sees a rock. One by one, the stones fall to the ground and finally no one is left but Jesus. He is the only one who can throw the stone. But he didn’t.

    He doesn’t throw stones at you either.

    No, Mama, you aren’t perfect. And sometimes it feels like everyone is throwing stones at you. But take heart, the One who matters doesn’t throw the stone. He looks at you and says, “I forgive you. Now go and sin no more.” He forgives you. He loves you more completely than anyone else in the world.

    Instead of crying on your bed at night wondering what to do, go to the One who never throws stones.

    When you are in rapture over His love, you’ll be more ready to love your children.

    When you understand God’s love, you see your child’s hunger for sin as a longing to fill himself with something other than God. You’ll begin to see them as searching souls who desperately want to fill themselves up with emptiness.

    But here comes the most beautiful part of motherhood.

    Mama, you get to show your children how much God’s love has changed you.

    You get to tell them why you do right. You get to show them how beautiful it is to be forgiven and loved no matter what you do.

    So, Mama, if I could tell you how to love an unlovable child? This is what I’d say-

    Fall in love with Jesus everyday. We can’t do this without him. And no matter what your story is, He’ll lead you to love them just the way they need you to.

  • Bathroom,  Fixer Upper,  Watercolor

    Bathroom Remodel

    It’s finished. Sigh of relief. Fixer uppers are no walk in the park. But when we finally crossed the finish line for this project, a spark ignited somewhere in this “design soul” of mine. This fixer upper journey is more than remodeling a house-it’s telling a story about us. Our family. God’s goodness. The adventures-the hard and the easy-that shape us and make us grow. Houses are stories.

    Before

    This photo was taken before the wallpaper peeled off, the water stains set into the carpet, and those black tiles started falling off in the shower. It was bad. For as long as I live, I don’t think I’ll ever grasp what motivates a person to lay carpet in a bathroom. (Gag.)

    Before beginning the remodel, I knew I wanted a clean look with straight lines and neutral colors. My goal was mid-century, contemporary and a little boho. Ha. I wanted to accent the bathroom with some of the same rose pink that was in the bathroom when we moved into the home. Overall, I kept the same color scheme with a more contemporary look.

    After

    My main focus in the bathroom was the vanity. We have wood beams in our living room and I wanted the same wood color to run through out the entire house. This vanity was perfect because of it’s straight lines, added warmth, and the black quartz top. I wanted strong contrast between the vanity and the walls; this vanity added the pop I was looking for.

    For now, we’ve decided to leave the door in it’s raw color. It may change as we finish more of the house. But I love how the different color wood stains look together.

    So, that’s a wrap. Bathroom remodel is officially finished. I can’t believe it. For more of what the process looked like, head on over to the demolition blog post.

  • Family Relationships

    How I Taught My Tween Daughter About Sex

    Okay. Okay. Deep breath, you guys. The “sex talk” doesn’t have to be an awkward conversation. I promise. In fact, it can be the talk that draws you closer to your children. Say what? No really, it can. Here are a few things I did before I began teaching my tween daughter about sex.

    Build A Relationship

    Have you ever had someone give you advice without first showing that they care about you? Yeah, I have. It’s no fun. I rarely listen to someone who hasn’t first built a relationship with me. Before you ever talk to your tween about purity and sex, build a relationship with them. And never stop.

    Building a relationship with your child is crucial. Without a good relationship, your child won’t care what you teach them about anything-especially sex.

    I tell my children often, “You can talk to me about anything? Boys you like. What you’re feeling. What’s right or wrong in a certain situation. Anything at all-you never have to be afraid of asking me anything-even if you’ve done the wrong thing. I love you no matter what. Don’t ask your friends. I know more than your friends. You’re friends are learning just like you. So if you have questions, come and ask. I’m always here.”

    Be Approachable

    So many friends of mine have told me that their parents never taught them about sex. They just “figured” it out-whether from a porn magazine or a tv show. One friend even said that it wasn’t proper to talk about sex in their Christian home -so they didn’t talk about it. Ever.

    Being an approachable parent is important. I want my kids to come to me before they go to anyone else. I want to be their safe place. When they’re scared, I want them to share their fears with me. When they have a crush on a boy or girl, I want to know. When they have questions about sex, I want them to ask me. Be your child’s safe place.

    Set the Limits

    We talk openly about our body parts around here-long before having “the sex talk”. I have two girls and two boys, so words like boobs, period, and penis are used out loud. I don’t shy away from using the correct terms for the correct body parts. I treat the subjects respectfully, teaching them boundaries. The home is a place you should be able to talk about anything. But the home is the limit. Just because you say those words at home doesn’t mean you should say them else where. Our children shouting the word PENIS in the grocery store aisle is something we want to avoid. I also let my children know that they shouldn’t teach their friends about these specific things. We leave that stuff for moms and dads because it’s their job to teach their kids.

    Evaluate Yourself

    So before teaching your daughter about sex, ask yourself what kind of relationship you have with her? Does she know you are a safe place? Does she know you love her? Do you show it? Are you approachable? Are you making her aware of the correct terms for her body? This isn’t about sex yet-it’s about educating. Assume your children doesn’t know these things. Tell them. Also, remind them every day you love them, and be open about telling them about their body.

    Notice Your Daughter

    While your kids grow, there will come a point when it’s time for the “sex talk.” I think this time is different for every child. Some kids mature faster than others. But as a parent, it’s our job to notice when that time is here. Maybe it’s when your daughter hears something at school that you wish she didn’t hear. Maybe it’s when you notice her body is changing, and she’s starting to talk about boys. Either way, it’s our job to look for the signs. Ask God for wisdom to know when to approach your child. We have to be aware of what’s happening in their lives. And we need to do it intentionally.

    I recently noticed that time was here for my daughter. I’m going to be honest here-at first I was terrified. But I faked it. Ha. Yes, I faked it. I asked for advice. I prayed. I made mistakes along the way, and I prayed some more. Ha! A lot of the time, I wondered if I was doing it right.

    Talk to Your Daughter

    Then a woman, who has grown children, shared a book with me, Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle. This was the book I used as a guide to have conversations with my daughter. We went through it slowly-we haven’t finished it yet. The book is written in two parts. The first part is directed toward the parent, and the second part is directed toward the child. What I love most about the book is that it mentions important topics like the body changing, sex, molestation, pornography, modesty, and homosexuality. Some of these topics may need you as the parent to give more of an explanation. If your child is anything like mine, sometimes it takes more than one conversation for them to comprehend what your teaching them.

    Books

    Ask Your Daughter Questions

    As I was teaching my daughter, we’d stop often. I’d ask her questions like, “What do you think about that?” “Explain sex in your own words.” “What does God’s Word say about modesty?” “Why do we want to be pure?”

    I tried my best to address her heart. We, as parents, can give a list of rules to our children; but rules often fail to reach the heart. I long to see my children desire to live a pure life because they’ve experienced the Lord Jesus working in their lives. I don’t what them to do it because I said so. I want them to do it because Jesus is crazy in love with them.

    Chase your child’s heart. Love them like Jesus has loved you. Unconditionally. With abandon. Relentlessly pursue them.

    No one ever told me chasing my child’s heart meant choosing bravery over timidity. But it does. I asked my daughter recently, “Did you ever feel awkward talking about sex and all that stuff?” Her answer: “No, I love talking to you.”

    You never know the difference you make as a mom. I know I didn’t.