Key Benefits of Special Needs Homeschooling


The thought of homeschooling my daughter with special needs made my toes curl. Educating my typical kids proved hard enough, and just the thought of bringing her home and adding her to the mix was overwhelming. Public school gave me a much needed reprieve from all her negative behaviors and demands. She loved her time with her wonderful teachers and friends, and we both looked forward to the bus coming each morning. Homeschooling was the last thing we both wanted to do.

As each school year came and passed and her 10th birthday approached, I began to seeIMG_4100 some downsides of sending her to school. My daughter was learning her numbers and letters, but because the demands of her day took 100% of her energy, she became distant with her family and still couldn’t do simple skills like get dressed, shower or help around the house.

I wondered if it was possible to teach her academics alongside these daily tasks. So, like a few brave moms of special kiddos before me, I decided to take the plunge!

Read more here.


Escaping the Planned Parenthood Trap


I felt helpless laying flat on the table, doctors talking in hushed whispers as they hovered around me. I gripped my husband’s quivering hand as he sat and sobbed. As the ultrasound wand circled my swollen belly, I felt like a lab-rat being inspected from the inside out. (Read full article by clicking here.)


Butter Lip Balm Recipe







Butter Lip Balm
Recipe Type: homemade lip balm
Author: Tara Dovenbarger
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 9 tubes
All natural, chemical free lip balm.
  • 1 Tablespoon Kokum Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Shea Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Mango Butter
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Beeswax
  • 1 Tsp. Essential Oil
  1. Melt butters and beeswax in double broiler. Add essential oils of choice. Pour into containers. Let sit until cool.

Pour into tubes (this is my Mint Chocolate recipe)… lipbalm1

Enjoy!  Or, simply order here.

A Peace Filled Marriage at Last!



Whatever is true about my husband, whatever is noble about my husband, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable about him—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think only of these things.

Philippians 4:8 (Tara Version:)

Eight little bare feet scrambled in excitement with newfound energy to meet their dad dressed in suit and tie. “I’m home,” his low voice sang as I heard each child clamor for his attention.

Steaming mad I hunkered down in the next room, arms crossed and jaw fixed. My mind erupted all the negative thoughts from the long day, “He is late, AGAIN. He has no idea what these long days do to each of us… It is impossible to even eat dinner as a family anymore… If he loved us he would make us a priority.”

As I sat fuming, my husband walked in with his face lit up in a smile. His hands held out fresh flowers. One look at my face and his glowing expression turned to disappointment as the bouquet slumped to his side.

“I try hard. I really do. I thought all day about you, of the long hard days you serve our family… I brought you these flowers to show you my appreciation… But apparently I’m too late.” He sadly mumbled as he walked out of the room surrounded by anxious eyes.

Life is hard. But life mixed with negative thoughts makes everything So. Much. Harder.

The Bible says, “A quarrelsome (irritable, crabby, huffy, snappy, turbulent) wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.” Proverbs 27:15 NLT

“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1 NASB

How do we overcome this and build up our marriage?

In Philippians chapter 4, teaches when our minds focus on thoughts worthy of praise, peace will be ours in abundance.

Can you imagine a marriage with abundant peace?

As wives and moms, our thoughts affect those around us either positively or negatively and will bring peace or strife to our home.

No one can control our thought life. We alone are in control. It is time to take our responsibility seriously.

How? Focus your mind only on thoughts worthy of praise towards your husband. You may need to begin with just one positive thought! But I promise; your one positive thought will bloom into many more!

Please take time to print out Philippians 4:7 and hang it where you will be reminded to take control of your thought life.


Do you struggle with this as well? How do you control your thoughts about your husband?

Praising Him with my pen,

Tara Dovenbarger

The Making of a Mom~ Ministering to moms who know Christ. Reaching those who don’t.


Guest post by Stephanie Shott, the founder of The M.O.M Initiative:

I caught a glimpse of her as she walked across the parking lot. She looked to be about sixteen. Young in years, but great with child.

Did she grasp the greatness of her newfound role and how everything she had ever known was about to change? Would someone walk with through her motherhood or would she have to go it alone?

I was eighteen when my son was born and had no idea what it meant to be a mom. Oh, I thought the whole mom thing was going to be a breeze, but it didn’t take long to learn that my dream of motherhood was very different from my reality.
I wanted to be the mom who did all the right things, never had to count to three, and baked her own bread.
But instead, I was a single mom, without Christ, without a mentor, and without a clue.
As the years passed, I married, and not long after that I became a Christian. Everything changed except that I still didn’t have a mentor and I barely had a clue.
For me, motherhood was like a messy experiment and my kids were the guinea pigs.
That was twenty-seven years ago, and as I reflect on the way I muddled my way through motherhood, I can’t help but wonder where all the mentors were. I remember looking up to several women in the church, yet for some reason I was never able to wiggle my way under their wing.

But it shouldn’t have been that hard, and no mom should have to go it alone. After all, mentoring should be woven into the fabric of the church. Right?

Mentoring moms is powerful. It’s how you and I can change the world. It’s not only a God-given way in which we can leave a legacy of faith, but it’s also an amazing tool to help us reach our communities and this culture for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two years ago I started The M.O.M. Initiative—a ministry devoted to helping the body of Christ make mentoring missional.

Evangelistic in nature, the mission is to begin M.O.M. Groups that not only minister to moms who know Christ but that we reach those who don’t.

Ultimately, our goal is to reach a MILLION MOMS for Christ. And if only 3 women in 1/2 of the churches in the United States would mentor just 3 other moms, that would translate into reaching a MILLION MOMS for Christ and impacting over 2.5 MILLION CHILDREN as a result.

Sitting in the parking lot, a ministry was born and a book was conceived. I wrote The Making of a Mom to be a unique dual purpose resource. A book to help lay a solid biblical foundations for real moms who are in the trenches of motherhood…to help answer the deep questions of a moms heart and to help each mom embrace the significance of her role as a mother. I want moms to know they are deeply loved and profoundly influential.
I also wrote The Making of a Mom to provide and inreach and an outreach resource for the church.
To help the body of Christ weave mentoring into the fabric of the local church. As an outreach, The Making of a Mom equips local churches with a unique resource that will help them weave mentoring into the fabric of the church and to reach their communities and this culture for Christ by mentoring moms in urban areas, in low-income apartment complexes, neighborhoods, prisons, homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, the mission field and wherever young moms can be found.

You see, if we reach the moms of this generation, we’ll reach the heart of the next generation. but if we don’t, I’m afraid we’ll lose them all.

Today, you and I have an opportunity to change the world one mom at a time through the power and beauty of mentoring.
I didn’t have a mentor . . . and I don’t know if that young girl at the gas station will have one either. But no mom should have to go it alone. So, let’s step into our Titus 2 shoes and begin impacting our community and this culture for the Lord Jesus Christ.

We’ll have forever to be glad we did.

To find out more about how you can begin a M.O.M. Group, click this link.
To find out how to sign up to be ONE in a MILLION MOMS who would like to be connected with a mentor and raise your children to know Christ, click this link.
To find out how to order The Making of a Mom click here.


Come join us in this revolution! We really want to meet you at the Better Together Conference at the end of this month!!


Simply Amazing Sugar Scrub Recipe



Summer is in full swing and it is time for a refresher!

Fresh mint will deteriorate over time…I leave my extra jars in the fridge.


Simply Amazing Sugar Scrub
Author: Tara Dovenbarger
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Summer is here and smooth skin is a must! Pamper your skin as you are energized by fresh mint and lavender.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup coconut oil (I use Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil from
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 4 whole or chopped mint leaves
  • 2 Vintage Style Ball Canning Jars, pint size
Mix together first 3 ingredients. Mix in the chopped mint leaves. Place the scrub in the canning jars. Enjoy!

amazing sugar scrub

Invasion of Chaos



“… the cares of this world … choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  Mark 4:19


            The typed words, “Pajama Day”, on my daughter’s elementary school class calendar still send chills up my spine.

My Pajama Day Phobia started a few years ago.   It all began on a day I dug in my heels, jutted my chin up, knowing I would be as good if not better than all the other moms.  Today was Pajama Day and my frenzied-over-scheduled-brain would not get in the way this time!   This time I was ready!

I strutted my innocent non-verbal child to her bus wearing her bright pink pajamas and proudly waved her off.

The bus rolled back the humbling facts that afternoon.  My child who couldn’t speak all the years before marched through the front door, jetted directly to the calendar, pointed, then said clear as a bell, “NO, NO, NO PAJAMA DAY MOM. NO PAJAMA DAY.”


I felt like giving up.  I did try.  Life just became too hectic and disorganized to slow down and write details on the calendar.  And my child faced a day of humiliation because of my hurried mistake.

I have to stop and wonder; is humiliation the biggest risk our children face with our unorganized and frenzied lives? Is there more at stake than just a chastening experience?

Yes, God’s Word tells us there are deeper dangers to a hectic life.  The steady invasion of chaos becomes a war against our primary job as moms.  Our number one goal is to teach diligently our children the Word of God when we,  “sit … walk … lie down … and rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

When our lives become too busy to even write details on our calendar, how can we even hope to have enough time to teach our children the Word of God?

Jesus warns that the frenzy of the world threatens the Word He puts in us.  He compares the stress of life to weeds and thorns that choke the life of God out of us; “…the cares of this world, … choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  (Mark 4:19).

The weeds and thorns nourished by our overloaded agenda will destroy the growth of God’s Word in our children’s lives as well as our own.

Let’s slow down.  It is time to simplify our schedules so we can focus on our primary job of teaching God’s Word to our children, and allow time for God’s Word to take deep root.

When the bus load of past memories rolls in, after our chance of parenting ends,  what will your reflections shout?

By  Tara Dovenbarger

Are You Dealing with an Uninvited Diagnosis?


She was tiny, frail and unable to meet any of her developmental milestones.  I knew her biological mom had used every drug imaginable during her pregnancy.  Nevertheless, the neurologist’s diagnosis cut through me.  Our adopted daughter would struggle through life with substantial disabilities.

Two years later… another uninvited diagnosis forced its way into my world. It came from a high-risk pregnancy doctor that rushed into the room after a longer than normal ultrasound. He dug the ultrasound wand into my swollen belly while still chewing his half eaten lunch, “Absent bladder…hernia…heart on the wrong side.  Most likely Trisomy 18. The pregnancy needs to be terminated.”

One month later…while carrying my child with Trisomy 18 still safely in my womb, I found myself rushing my six year old to the hospital. As I bent over her, spilling tears on her face, the next diagnosis came from the attending doctor. Our daughter would live the rest of her life struggling with the hardships of Juvenile Diabetes.


I don’t know about you, but when I was a child I never grew up dreaming about having children with life long special needs. Now, as a grown woman, I am caring for a developmentally disabled child, have a broken heart from a child that has passed away, and care for a child with medical issues. What do we do when life places us in such a foreign reality?

  • First, we need to know it is fine to cry. The Psalms give us excellent examples of how to grieve well. They start with crying out to God, asking why, and give us the freedom to have real, raw emotion. Psalm 102, given below, gives us a great snapshot of this. We should be able to go to God with our sorrow open and honestly.  Just as importantly, we should always fill our cries with prayers of thanksgiving and remembering who God is. Jonah’s Prayer in Jonah chapter 2 is another excellent passage to meditate on during our grieving, and certainly helped me through the extra hard days.


  • The second thing that has enabled me to press on is to know who Christ is. When my world was so rapidly unraveling, I had to find solid footing. The ONLY place to find tangible help is in the word of God. In His word, I was able to find peace and know that He is in complete control. Having a clear understanding of who God is and His plan for our lives becomes a  light during the darkest days.


  • Lastly, God has given me a Christ-like friend whose children also have unique needs. We are able to understand each other and encourage each other on a daily basis. A friend who is in a similar circumstance is an enormous blessing! We are able to laugh together, cry together and be honest with our feelings.

Have you found yourself parenting in a hard situation? Press on! My desire is to encourage you and let you know you are not on this road alone, no matter what the uninvited diagnosis may be.

Psalm 102 

A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord.

Lord, hear my prayer!
Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me
in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
and answer me quickly when I call to you.
For my days disappear like smoke,
and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
and I have lost my appetite.
Because of my groaning,
I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like an owl in the desert,
like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.
My enemies taunt me day after day.
They mock and curse me.
I eat ashes for food.
My tears run down into my drink
10 because of your anger and wrath.
For you have picked me up and thrown me out.
11 My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.
I am withering away like grass.

12 But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem[a]
and now is the time to pity her,
now is the time you promised to help.
14 For your people love every stone in her walls
and cherish even the dust in her streets.
15 Then the nations will tremble before the Lord.
The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem.
He will appear in his glory.
17 He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
He will not reject their pleas.

18 Let this be recorded for future generations,
so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord.
19 Tell them the Lord looked down
from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven
20     to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to release those condemned to die.
21 And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
his praises in Jerusalem,
22 when multitudes gather together
and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.

23 He broke my strength in midlife,
cutting short my days.
24 But I cried to him, “O my God, who lives forever,
don’t take my life while I am so young!
25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain forever;
they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
and discard them.
27 But you are always the same;
you will live forever.
28 The children of your people
will live in security.
Their children’s children
will thrive in your presence.”

By Tara Dovenbarger

What Everybody Ought to Know About Autism


 formedwomb2 “She does not like to be held or rocked at all.  She won’t look at what I am pointing at, and never points at things herself.  The softest touch sends her wailing, but being bitten by ants at the playground did not cause a stir.  She still is not talking, but all my friends have had late talkers.  She seems to look everywhere but in my eyes. So many things don’t seem right. Could this be autism?”

Autism. Just the sound of the word makes the strongest of moms weak in the knees.

Could my child have autism? 

According to the Mayo Clinic and my own experience with my child with autistic like tendencies*:

  • Autism is a disorder of brain development that causes developmental problems and appears in early childhood.
  • Each child with autism is unique and affected differently than others, but all have problems with communication and interacting with others.

What do I look for?

Here are some common signs along with my personal experience to share:

  • The symptoms usually show up between 2 and 3 years. “Our daughter started showing sensory issues along with delays by nine months of age.”
  • The child will fail to respond to his/her name.  “My daughter at 8 years old will still not respond when I call her name.  This makes it very difficult to find her inside or out.   When I call out to her, I have to ask her, “Say Something!” And if I’m lucky, I will hear a faint noise from her and be able to then find her…not fun in a pinch!”
  • Poor eye contact. “I’m constantly reminding her to look me in the eyes…look me in the eyes!”
  • Does not like to be held or cuddled. “This was a real area of guilt for me as her mom. I tried for years to read to her and rock her like my other children. She would scream and claw her way out of my lap. It was very hard to bond and feel connected.”
  • Talking starts later than age two or loses ability to say previously acquired words.  “My daughter is 8, and praise God, she just started putting 5 words together! For the first time she is able to tell me if she is not feeling well, what she wants to eat, and small bits about her day at school!”
  • Can’t start or keep conversation going.
  • Likes repetitive movements (hand-flapping, rocking back and forth)  Our daughter loves to hold one leg, rock back and forth with humming/mumbling the same sounds over and over and over and over:)”
  • Children with autism look “normal”.  ”Going out in public is very hard. I cringe every time someone comes up and asks my daughter her age. When I respond for my child, the stranger gives me a queer look, as if to say, “Why don’t you let her answer the question?” If only it were that easy.”

  When should I see my doctor?  

  •  12 months– your child isn’t babbling or cooing, no pointing or waving gestures
  • 16 months– not saying single words
  • 24 months-not able to say two-word phrases
  • Any age-the loss of acquired language or social skills

Source: Mayo Clinic Staff, 2010, Autism. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from, para. 1-11)

I think my child may have autism, now what?

  • Your doctor will evaluate your child and refer you to a specialist.
  • If your doctor isn’t listening to your concerns, contact your local school for an evaluation.

And finally, here are some excellent resources to help you or a friend today!

  • Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism by Sandra Peoples. This eBook on Amazon is a must read.  It was so encouraging to me. The book takes you with the author as she discovers her son’s autism. In her book she also gives you 10 steps to take if you suspect your child has autism, and gives a great list of resources.
  • “The Out-of-Sync Child” by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.

My prayer for you is that the Lord will comfort you along this journey:

 You guided my conception and formed me in the womb. Job 10:10 NLT

The LORD knew what he was doing when he made our children and will help us each step along the way!     Tara Dovenbarger *Our child has autistic like tendencies that stem from her developmental disability caused by in-utero drug exposure from birth mom.  Some may want to split hairs here with me-but my goal is to educate about autism through our small taste.

The Secret Behind Special Siblings



“He gets mad at the smallest things and always causes a scene.  I’m embarrassed to be seen with him.”

” I wish I had a normal brother like everyone else.  I feel ignored and resent how much time he demands from my parents.”

“As much as I can’t stand to be around my brother, I worry about if he is OK without me.”

” It hurts when people are rude to him… but I feel guilty and ashamed because I am the rudest to him of all.” 

“Who will take care of her if something happens to my parents? Who will stick up for her when I am not around?”

“Why are all my friend’s sisters growing up fine, but mine still acts so young?” 

“All the other kids who have pregnant moms eventually bring home their baby.  Why did my baby brother never come home from the hospital and have to die?”

“My mom is on edge all the time.  If I need something I keep quiet because I know it will make her even more upset.  If it weren’t for my brother her life would be easier and she would notice and be nice to me.”

  In our family I have watched my children’s reactions and seen first hand the struggles that come by being a special sibling.

My children have wrestled with all the emotions mentioned above, plus many more. These wearisome emotions may develop into shameful secrets–“What if others really knew how I feel?”

 As their mom it is my responsibility to navigate them through these emotions, so where can I start?


  •  Talk and talk some more.  Ask your children about their feelings. Tell them it is OK to be honest and that this is hard. As adults we have questions about our special needs child and our  children have questions as well.
  • Give them permission to grieve.  It is true our family has different dynamics than most.  Sometimes we need to let the hurt out with a hug, then go on. Give permission for the hurt and point to the positive.
  •  Let your child know they are not alone.  I am thrilled I found  some great books my children can relate to!   “Views from our Shoes”edited by Donald Meyeris a book of essays written by children with special needs siblings.  Living with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs”by Donald Meyer and Patricia Vadasy, is a great book that talks about specific disabilities and the emotions that come with being a special sibling. Both of these books are wonderful!
  • It is good to laugh.   Sometimes the most stressful times are really the funniest times.  Try and find humor throughout those stressful moments!
  • Show your kids what God is doing in and through them because of their siblings disability.  I know each of my children is gifted in unique ways because of their special sibling.  I point out these awesome character traits and let them know how proud I am of them. The blessings of learning to care for and love their special needs sibling can bring out the best in their character.
  • Take your  kids on dates. Spend time making each child feel like the “special” child, giving them undivided time they need. This is great for both mom and child! 
  • Pray for your children.  Pray the Lord will use  these special circumstances to further His kingdom and bless our children with compassion.

 Did you grow up as the sibling of a special needs brother or sister? What lessons can we learn from your family? I am eager to hear your story! 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

By Tara Dovenbarger

Is a Grand Marriage Just a Fairy Tale?


This isn’t part of Cinderella’s happily ever after…

cinderellagirl…or in any other fairy tale I’ve read.  The prince and princess who  overcome every obstacle,  finally swept together in rapturous “love”, then wham.  Every force available in the kingdom seems to shove them apart.

The prince works a stressful fifty-plus hour work week, travels, leaves before the sun goes up, comes home right in time to tuck the little ones in bed, nods off then speeds off again. His once stately shoulders sag under the burden of his workplace and striving to be a husband and father.

Once surrounded in glass slippers, the princess’ toes are now worn and calloused from her full time responsibilities. As soon as her feet hit the cold floor she is overseeing school and schoolwork, running to doctor appointments, managing medications, buying and preparing food, digging through mounds of laundry, all at the speed of light.   Daily maintenance and upkeep also fall into her once smooth hands, and the demands of the household press down like a vise.

castleWas their love just a fairy tale?

 In the book, “What Did You Expect??”, Paul Tripp helps answer our question. “…real love doesn’t live only in these grand, affectionate moments.

No, real love lives at street level.  It lives when no violin is playing or bird is singing. It lives when life is busy, boring, or hard.

Real love doesn’t demand that life is easy or exciting.  Real love loves as much in the dark of the night as it does in the warmth of the sun.  Real love loves when love isn’t much fun and isn’t very fulfilling.  Real love doesn’t quit when things are hard and doesn’t check out in the face of disappointment.

So, there is no such thing as real love that does not require real, willing, and daily sacrifices. There is no way to escape it-real love is costly. Real love calls each of us to be willing to suffer.”*

Is your marriage surrounded with fairy tale expectations that daily disappoint you?  Or do you know that real life is more like a jungle than a kingdom?

Start today by really loving your spouse despite your surroundings.  Get rid of the fairy tale expectations that will only lead to disappointment.   Surround yourself with the truth of God’s word and pray for the strength to really love  your spouse  while navigating through the jungle.


If you are no longer married to your child’s father, it is very important to be respectful of him in front of your children.  Despite the hardships, what three positive things can you mention to your children about their dad?

What are three things that you love about your spouse? Find a creative way to express them to him today.

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galations 6:9


By Tara Dovenbarger  Come visit me on facebook!

*A MUST read!!!  Tripp, Paul David. What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010. 198-99. Print.


Deeper Still


I felt helpless laying flat on the table, doctors talking in hushed whispers as they hovered around me.  I gripped on to my husband’s quivering hand as he sat and sobbed.   As the ultrasound wand circled my swollen belly I felt like a lab-rat being inspected from the inside out.

The pictures on the ultrasound screen spoke two different messages: one to the doctors of deformity, illness, malady, dysfunction; the other to me of a precious silhouette with hiccups, clinched fists, cute crossed legs, sweet nose.

The professionals started urging me to take the “best road”, to terminate the pregnancy and get on with life.  A baby with Edward’s Syndrome has no hope for survival.  They assured me abortion was the best option.

The doctors called my house.  The geneticists called my house. Well meaning family called my house.  Calling to tell me to take this “best road”.

A doctor told me that it would be hard on hospital staff  emotionally to deal with my stillborn baby.

All this pressure was astounding.   Married to a husband with a great job, in no medical danger but overrun with pressure to abort my baby.  What must the pressure be like for the woman without all my comforts?

Why do I love the ministry of Deeper Still?  My heart breaks for those who found themselves  in a tighter corner than mine and decided to abort.  I know the grief of losing a baby that society gives no worth and the silence  and empty arms that follow the pregnancy.  I can relate to the pressure felt from those most respected in our culture.

I do not know, though, the weight of pain and condemnation carried day after day following in the wake of an abortion. But, I do know that this is Christ’s speciality….setting the prisoner free, complete healing and wholeness found through Christ alone.

Deeper Still is here to help your abortion-wounded heart.  They will help you find healing, true joy, and lasting freedom through Christ.

Please, take the first step, go to their website and consider signing up for a retreat. You will heal alongside others and leave with your own before/after testimony like these:

Silenced & Shamed/ Joyous & Forgiven!  Life Taker/ Life Protector!

Rejected & Undeserving/ Found Acceptance in Jesus!

Shame-Filled/ Shamelessly Serving Christ!

Limited by Past/Sky’s the Limit! Broken & Splintered/Healed&Wholeswimhat

In Christ alone,

Tara Dovenbarger

Is Stress the Centerpiece of Your Home?


Lynnie’s eyes rolled back in her head as she struggled to keep her head from falling back. I knew from her greyish face that her blood sugar dropped dangerously low from simply playing outside.

Time stopped as I sprinted towards our medical drawer for her emergency glucose. The moment my frantic fingers slammed the drawer open, a high-pitched scream filled the air from the next room. My eyes shot up at the clock, “Yep…five o’clock… time for her afternoon fit.”

My anxious gaze went back to the emergency situation at hand while blocking out the shrieking and banging noises coming from my child with developmental disabilities. I had to get Lynnie’s blood sugar stabilized before dealing with my eight year olds daily bathroom phobia. I braced Lynnie’s ridged body and forced the glucose in her cheek as the kitchen door slammed behind my two boys. “Hey mom! What’s for dinner?”, they said in unison, undaunted by tense scene at hand.

Raising children and children with special needs is difficult at best. Without diligence, life’s demands can swallow up our entire focus, and the stress of life becomes the centerpiece of our home. Is it possible to live life with God and our husbands taking center stage instead?

We can zigzag God throughout our day in different, simple ways. Chose praise and worship music while driving or cleaning. Listen to sermons while folding laundry, and strive to carve out time for scripture study. Our children must see us living for the Lord with our eyes focused on Him.

By the time our sweet husbands come home we can easily resemble a peeled onion…stinky with all our tidy layers stripped off. The Bible wisely instructs us to bring our husbands good, not harm, all the days of our life, (Proverbs 31:12). How can we bring them good amidst daily chaos? Date your husband as much as possible. The time away will refresh your spirits as well as your marriage. Make a daily habit of instructing the children to get the home in order before your groom arrives. While the kids spruce-up the house, tidy your husband’s “playground” by looking and smelling nice then greet him at the door with excitement and a kiss. Make the kid’s bedtime early enough for some alone time. Our children will thrive and be secure when we actively put their daddy first.

Is stress from parenting forcing you to neglect the Lord and your husband? Draw near to Christ who will give you strength. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13.

Come visit me on facebook!silly alex

Hidden Danger


 Sin will take you farther than you ever thought you would stray.

Sin will keep you longer than you ever thought you would stay.

Sin will cost you more than you ever thought you would pay.

— Wayne Barber


Six legs dashed across the rust-colored lawn as cheerful voices rang through the fall air. Each boy paused briefly before hiking himself over the wooden fence encircling drowsy farm animals. Plopping down on the other side, each youngster shot out with open arms towards the animals standing wide-eyed in shock nearby.

This was it! Time to enjoy all the farm life had to offer. Out of the rush of the city, surrounded by all these peaceful animals!  It was time for fun!

Little did they know what real danger they jumped into. 


A four-year-old boy, however, was still standing on the safe, opposite side of the fence.  Fear was painted across his face  because he did know the danger.  He lived here and knew well the stinging pain these other boys were ignorant of.  One unforeseen, painful blow by the stealthy strike of the protective rooster is not easily forgotten.


Proverbs 22:3 tells us, “The prudent see danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Is it possible that in the excitement of life we blindly jump into trouble? What danger is Satan drawing our families into while we relax, unaware?

Here are twelve subtle tactics* used by the enemy to acquire victory in our family’s lives; he wants to:

  • Keep us busy with non-essentials.
  • Tempt us to overspend and go into debt.
  • Make us work long hours to maintain empty lifestyles.
  • Discourage us from spending family time, for when homes disintegrate there’s no refuge from work.
  • Over stimulate our minds with TV and computers so that we can’t hear God speaking to us.
  • Fill our coffee tables and nightstands with newspapers and magazines (Face-book)  so we have no time for Bible reading.
  • Flood our mailboxes with sweepstakes, promotions and get-rich-schemes; keep us chasing material things.
  • Put glamorous models on TV, magazine covers, and billboards to keep us focused on outward appearances; that way we will be dissatisfied with ourselves and our mates.
  • Make sure couples are too exhausted for physical intimacy; that way we will be tempted to look elsewhere.
  • Emphasize Santa and the Easter bunny; that way we will divert them from the real meaning of the holidays.
  • Involve our families in “good” causes so we won’t have time for “eternal” ones.
  • Make us self-sufficient.  Satan wants us so busy working in our own strength that we will never know the joy of God’s power working through us. *


We don’t have to be like the little boy on the outside of the fence who knew the sting through painful experience, or the ignorant children about to learn.  God’s word is our guide that opens our eyes up to the danger and provides us with safe, loving boundaries that protect us from needless pain born from sin.  Through the knowledge of God’s word we can know the dangers of this world and teach our children the same.

Psalm 119:105   Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

2 Peter 1:2-3    Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Mom, are you guided by God’s word each day? Are you teaching your children or grandchildren about the hidden pain in sin?

*12 tactics  adapted from: Bob Gass, The Word forYou Today, September/October/November 2010 (Alphareta, GA: Bob Gass Ministries),21. As read in: Dr. David Jeremiah,  I Never Thought I’d See the Day! (New York:FaithWords,2011), 56-57.

Must Have Books for Grieving


“Even the saddest things can become, once we have made peace with them, a source of wisdom and strength for the journey that still lies ahead.”  -Frederick Buechner

Are you on the path of sorting through your loss?  If so, I wanted to share some of my favorite books to help you on your journey. After spending time in the Bible (the only real source of help), here are some great resources:

  • “Trusting God Even When Life Hurts” by Jerry Bridges
  • “Safe in the Arms of God” by John MacArthur
  • “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sittser.  This man lost his mom, wife, and daughter in a car crash.  He does a wonderful job leading us through the dark days of grief.
  • “Through the Shadowlands” by C.S. Lewis. Wonderful, full of open truth by our beloved C.S. Lewis. He is honest about his shaken faith when he was striken with grief.
  • “Experiencing Grief” by H. Norman Wright. Great book to encourage your faith.
  • “I’ll Hold You in Heaven” by Jack Hayford.  This is my personal favorite and speaks directly about stillbirth.

We all experience grief during our lives. I pray you press into the Lord to find His wisdom and strength at this time.


Video-Blessings in Disguise


A must see video of God’s provision during a season of heartbreak. How has the Lord sustained you during your own storm?

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord, and give ear to my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,

And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

I pray many will see and fear, and will trust in the Lord!


Cc  Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Misunderstood Momma


Ok, so I don’t know if you have noticed yet, but this parenting thing is really, really hard.

I was not-so-subtly reminded of this today while simply boarding an elevator.

In a moment only a mom can understand, I found myself in a pinch. I had one child in the elevator standing nice and happy. The other, on the outside not about to get in. His glare as well as his voice screamed his defiance as he stood his ground.

Time stopped as the show-down began.

Who would win this battle of the wills?  As my mouth told him to get in, my brain cried out a prayer that this time he would listen, submit and obey. (ummm PLEASE?!)

My master plan was to reopen the door if he refused to jump on it with the handy “open door” button and show him I was boss….

Well,  maybe due to my reflexes at 40 getting a bit rusty, I did not get to the button in time.  The door closed.  The elevator went down.

I could hear his shreeking above me as the elevator kept going down despite my wild attempts to stop it.  My trembling fingers raced frantically across the elevator buttons.  Attempting to rejoin my screaming, terrified boy one story above me had me delirious. Finally, the elevator started going back up.

Ages seemed to go by as I waited for the door to reopen.

Finally, the door opened. And there was a second pair of eyes.

I can tell you with confidence, I have never, ever in my life, met an angrier gaze than the one that flowed out of the stranger that held my crying son.  As my son and I reached for each other with our shaking arms, she slowly let go.  Spoken words were not needed for me to interpret her revulsion towards me.

Misjudged. How many times in our lives when we are simply trying to do the right thing are we misunderstood by those around us?  My son’s rescuer saw one piece of the whole ugly picture and misinterpreted my intentions. Now my pounding heart began to hurt because of the stranger’s apparent disgust of me.

What does God have to say about mommy moments like these?

  • “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” Prov.21:2  –God knows my heart and my intentions.
  • “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 Be God focused, not people focused.
  • “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15  –Thank goodness!!
  • “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation.” Psalm 68:19  He, the God of this universe, DAILY bears our burdens! 

In this world we will be misunderstood by family, friends and even the stranger outside the elevator.  I am thankful that  God looks at my heart, is gracious, slow to anger, and abounds in love and faithfulness on days like these.

✿Misunderstood.  Do you ever feel this way? What comes to your mind first when you hear the word?✿

By Tara Dovenbarger 
a href=”” target=”_blank”>This Really Got Me Link-up at Rethinking My Thinking

Forbidden Grief



My children, husband and I were eager to share our lives with another brother or sister during my third pregnancy. Then without warning, our eagerness turned to devastation. Our twenty-week sonogram showed that my unborn son had Trisomy 18.

That is when the pressure to abort began. The doctor visits and phone calls to my home were constantly persuading me to end my pregnancy.   Well meaning family members also assured me to listen to the doctors. The pressure was astounding.

This is when it dawned on me how easily it would be for someone, who may not have all the comforts I had, to trust their doctor and abort their baby.

If there is such a thrust for a mom who has it all, what must it be like for a single, young, desperate mom?

It is for these special moms that I write this post.

  •     Let me tell you how sorry I am if you were pressured into aborting your child. The Bible assures us in Romans that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Our Savior knows the world we live in, and came to set us free. Go to Him, seek forgiveness, start living again.

  • The grief of losing a child to a miscarriage, abortion, or stillborn child can be very confusing. The grief you feel is real, but society may not acknowledge it. The world told me repeatedly that my unborn child didn’t have any worth, so when my stillborn son did come, I felt ashamed and confused at the overwhelming grief I felt. The world told me I didn’t have a right to grieve as a mom who “really knew” her child.
  • No matter what the experts of our world try to tell us, God’s unchanging truth is what we must cling to. His word tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:44b that, “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” My son had a two-pound nine-ounce body with lots of black hair and long, perfect feet, and now has a spiritual body that I will meet in heaven someday. We are separated from our child, and will grieve, but will be reunited with them in heaven. This we can be excited for!
  • Lastly, here are some safe places to help you heal:

My favorite source that helped me: “I’ll Hold You in Heaven”, by Jack Hayford.  This is geared towards loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion or SIDS.

“Experiencing Grief”  by H. Norman Wright  is a must read.

Healing Hearts Ministries International is a safe place to go when grieving an abortion.

“Forbidden Grief:” The Unspoken Pain of Abortion”, by Theresa Burke, PhD with David Reardon, PhD.

My own personal journey on our blog: 

My prayer for you is that you will be able to work through your grief.  I would love to hear your story!

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” Ps. 30:5

By Tara Dovenbarger




                                                        This time last year we all sailed off  fishing in his handmade trolling boat,

… he and my son hammered birdhouses in his garage.

                                         ….the kids and I squealed in delight at seeing him ramble through town in his 1929 Nash.

 …. we all enjoyed him popping by our home nearly every day.

This time last year walking became labored and his hands became very weak.

…we all be came frightened and knew something was very wrong.

…the doctors could not diagnose the problem,  life went on as usual.


Grandpa. Dad.

My son’s best friend.


Today the handmade trolling boat sits in a dark garage.

… my son is learning to build things on his own, alone.

….the Nash is now packed in crates being shipped to a stranger.

Today he cannot walk, and can barely use his weakened hands.

… the doctors have a name for this thief that has taken over.

 Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Reckon it nothing but joy…whenever you find yourself hedged in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your faith leads to power of endurance.  (James 1:2-3 WEYMOUTH)

Remember with Faith


Philippians 4:6-7  “Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The memories.  They slip silently into my thoughts hardly noticed until my breathing becomes harder and the nausea tightens my throat.  I’m scared.  Fearful of what may lurk in the unknown future.  With these stabbing memories of the past, how can I face my entire unknown tomorrows?

My heart races.  I want to run.

I stop.   I have to discipline myself to remember.  I remember all the ways in which the Lord my God led me in the wilderness to humble me, to test me, to know what was in my heart.  I force myself to remember how He allowed suffering to enter my life, but was faithful in feeding me with His daily, sufficient manna.  (Deut. 8:2-3).

Do you have moments like these? Days where the painful past rears it’s ugly head and tries to drag you down into despair? When your “flesh” forgets God’s goodness?

The book of Deuteronomy is wonderful on days like this as it commands us not only to remember our painful past, but we are also to remind ourselves of how God was working, providing and comforting us through it all.  We are to look at our difficult past honestly, and press forward into the future with quietness and confidence in our Lord and Savior.   This remembering is the key that opens the door to a God focused future in which our minds are fixed on Him with joy and thanksgiving.

Along with remembering God’s goodness in the past, we are to focus our mind and thoughts on positive things about our future.  Philippians 4:8 works as a great filter for our thoughts as we are told to only think thoughts that are “true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, if there are any excellent, worthy of praise, to dwell only on these things.”  As we dwell on these things, and practice managing our thoughts the Bible tells us that, “the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil.4:9).


❃Is  the God of peace your companion today? What thoughts do you allow yourself to dwell on?❃

 ❥Tara Dovenbarger


Storms too Strong to Endure


2 Corinthians 1:8-9  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.             


I bent over my six-year-old daughter, who was clinging to life on the emergency room table, while I silently breathed through another contraction.

It was happening again. Another unforeseen tragedy was hitting our family.

Eight short months earlier my marriage was as good as devastated.  Then, only a few weeks before this emergency room visit, the doctors found out the child I was pregnant with was slowly dying in my womb from Trisomy 18.  Now here I was helplessly watching my six-year-old daughter fight for her life.

Hovering over my frail daughter all I could think about was the real possibility of losing her too. 

The doctor’s voice pierced through my fearful thoughts and told me my daughter would need to spend the week in intensive care.  She had Juvenile Diabetes and our lives would never be the same.

I replied back through sobs and gritted teeth that I just needed to know she would live.  I was losing my child in my womb, and the fear of losing this daughter as well was suffocating.

I was at the complete end of myself.  Any mirage of control that I felt months earlier was gone.  The uncertainty of  life terrified me.

God’s Word wrapped me in comfort as I read from Isaiah 30;15, “In quietness and confidence is your strength.” Confidence means, “with-faith.”

I knew the only way though this never-ending, unpredictable storm was to quietly submit to His control of my life and cling in faith to His unchanging Word.

As the painful days went on I was able to see God at work.  My daughter gave herself four shots a day with absolutely no fear and faced her new disease with amazing strength and courage. Through all our pain my husband and I were growing closer to the Lord, learned to rely on Him, and our marriage grew closer as the result.  We were both humbled at the reality of how fragile and short life really is, and got serious about living each day in light of eternity.

 And of course, God showed Himself faithful during the death and burial of our stillborn son, Isaac.

God didn’t take away the trials, but as we relied on Him our trust and personal knowledge of God increased.  Life became complete as we surrendered to His plan.


Madame Guyon says it best, “I have learned to love the darkness of sorrow, for it is there I see the brightness of God’s face.”


❀When life is hard and painful are you able to rely on God and cling in faith to His unchanging word?  

What have your trials taught you? Can I pray for you today?✿

 ❥Tara Dovenbarger


Foster Care? I Could Never do That!


Fostering children is dear to my heart.  Way back in 2003, we felt the Lord leading our family to the ministry of foster care.  I was scared.  My children were very young at the time, only three and four years old.  I was afraid of hurting them, along with all the other unknowns.  My husband and I went through the Christian Family Care Agency in Phoenix, Arizona to be a licensed  foster home.  Then the adventure began!  Here is something I felt led to write, and it was published in the “Fostering Families Today” magazine May-June issue, then used (maybe still?) –yep, still!! —by Christian Family Care Agency to encourage prospective foster families. My prayer is that this will help you go forward in obedience to take care of  orphans in the comfort of your own home.


 As a foster mom I hear these five words in my daily conversations.  Doctors, friends and even perfect strangers are curious and somewhat perplexed about how I am able to allow children into our family and hearts, and then let them go.  They assure me that “they could never do that.”

         There was a time, not long ago, that I felt the same way.  I told the Lord that I could never be a foster parent.  Now, after only a year, I am so grateful I submitted to the Lord’s prompting.  Our family would have missed out on so many blessings that outweigh the pain of saying goodbye.

         One of the first blessings was our opportunity to give a little boy regular meals.  We witnessed his intense fear of not having food slowly disappear.  We were able to teach him that eating from the garbage can was not needed, and this basic need would always be met.

         What a blessing it is to give something as simple as a secure place to sleep.  My two young children were thrilled that they were able to give a baby a bed to sleep in, which he did not have before.  When our foster son first came to us, he would sleep in the firm grip of the fetal position.  What an exciting night it was to check in on him and see him relaxed, spread out and sound asleep.

         This ministry also blesses my husband.  He teaches these dear children that they can come to our house, for any length of time, and never be victimized by a man.  They can experience the firm, strong arms of love that only a daddy can give.

         There are so many other blessings, such a being there for first pony rides and birthday parties, learning to pray at our dinner table, praying over them at night, holding and comforting them when they are sick and so much more.

         As I look back on the last year and say, “Phew! How did we ever do that?” I know that we did not. God did. God told us to do something we could never do, and we have had the privilege to watch Him work.

         I am so thankful that God is allowing each of us to serve Him in the comfort of our own home.  Our family motto is, “We have a lot, so we give a lot.”  I can’t imagine life without this gift to serve God.  I am thankful today that He has called us to this mission field, even as I prepare my current son’s things for his move away.

Mount WashMore


The day is going about as usual. One child is on the floor doing the famous “drop and flop” after not getting her way. The laundry pile, “Mount WashMore”, is glaring at me from the other room screaming how behind I am. The older two should be doing schoolwork, but the phone rang so they are off and running. A million other things are buzzing in my brain needing my attention at the same time.

Overwhelmed does not come close to describing how I am feeling.

As a mom who loves the Lord and wants to leave a Godly legacy, what are some ways to combat all these pressures?

  • First, time alone with the Lord is a must.  As much as possible try and make the time a priority.  Not to be confused with adding something else to your to-do list, but weaving God throughout your day. I have memories of my mom with her Bible out at various times during her day. Also, I love to listen to encouraging sermons at while folding laundry or other chores. Getting fed with scripture helps us grow in our faith and keep us focused.
  • Second is worship music.  The kids and I have a habit of turning up our worship music nice and loud while we clean house. This gets the whole family praising!  TV off, worship music on. Many cable companies have contemporary Christian music channels available to listen through your TV as well.
  • And lastly, I am able to focus on the Lord in the car by listening to God’s word through music. We have found two CD’s called “Hide ‘em in Your Heart”  by Steve Green.  The whole family enjoys them, but the best part is the automatic scripture memory everyone gets from listening.  These CD’s are encouraging to me as well as my children. I have even caught my older kids singing along!  They are wonderful for my child with developmental delays because they are short, simple and repetitive. You can take a look yourself at .

I have found that focusing on the Lord and weaving Him throughout my day is a perfect way to combat all of life’s pressures.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:1-2

❀What helps you stay focused on the Lord during the stress of your day?❀

  By Tara Dovenbarger

Saying Goodbye


“My soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,  for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

It was quiet, too quiet.  All the rush of people in and out of the room the days before had all come to an end. The darkness, even the newborn bed that was made specifically to be lit up and warm was completely dark and still.

My eyes went back to the unlit lamp over my son’s newborn warming bed as a new rush of pain and despair of what would be happening soon rolled through me. My beautiful newborn son, Isaac, whom I was so proud of, was delivered stillborn just hours before.

This was the day that I would have to let my son go, force myself to walk out of this room, never to be able to hold his tiny two pound body or see his beautiful face in this life again.

My husband and I were not surprised or in shock; in fact we had been planning on this day for three months.  Doctors said our son had Trisomy 18, and we needed to abort and go on with life.  We said no, we would let God decide the number of our son’s days and carry him safe in my womb as long as we could.

During the long months of waiting you can bet I had a lot of questions for the Lord.  One of the biggest was, “Lord, this is my son, my child. You are asking me to let him go.  Will you be there to give me strength to walk away? To say goodbye?  To open my arms and physically let him go?” My Lord had proven Himself to be faithful in hard trials before, but what about this time?  I desperately wanted to know-Would He give me the strength I needed to leave the  hospital without my son?

And here I was, waking up to that dreaded, much anticipated day.

After twelve hours of labor, our family savored each minute we had holding Isaac.  We were able to rock him, take wonderful pictures of him, dress him.  I tried to memorize every detail about him.  I remember washing his face with my tears. He was so perfect. He had lots of black hair like his big brother David, long eyelashes, fuzzy eyebrows, the cutest little lips, fisted Trisomy hands, chubby cheeks, long Thompson feet!

Then it was time. I had to leave the hospital. And yes, God was there.

God’s mercy and peace flowed through the room as a sweet nurse I had never seen before walked in.  Before I handed her my precious tiny bundle, she naturally turned around and respectfully washed her hands.  I handed her my son and she smiled gently down at him.  She settled down in the rocking chair and rocked him slowly.  She assured us she would care for him and not leave him until the funeral home came.

The love and protection that poured out of this stranger gave us the strength to walk away in peace. I will forever carry the sweet memory of my Isaac being held, respected, loved, cared for. I know this stranger was a gift to me from God, given to me at just the right time and moment. What a perfect picture of Christ’s love for each of us.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet God’s unfailing love for you will not be shaken or His covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

In this life we WILL have sorrow and troubles, but His compassion for each of his children will never fail.  Great is Your faithfulness!

Dear mom, “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your heart and strengthen you ” today! 2 Thess.2:16-17

✿How has God shown up in a tangible way to meet your greatest need? Are you daily asking to be used by God in mighty ways?✿

Worth-It Resources

What are some worth-it resources? Here is a list of my all-time favorite books and helpful tools.

Remember, the Bible is God’s spoken word. Nothing else compares in wisdom, promises to be without error and is all sufficient as the Bible. This list of resources is to help only after spending time in God’s life changing word.

Image by Sailom/freedigitalphoto

Image by Sailom

Bible Study Tools:

“How to study the Bible”, by John MacArthur
“Big Truths for Young Hearts”, by Bruce Ware (amazing summary of deep biblical truths hidden today).
Kay Arthur’s Inductive Study Bible

Marriage help:

Biblical Counselor Tom Webb- one of the best here in Knoxville, or find another in your area here.
“The Walk Out Woman”, by Dr. Stephens & Alice Gray
“Sacred Marriage”, by Gary Thomas
“The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace. A must read for us as well as our teen daughters.

Porn issues:

“A L.I.F.E. Guide”, by Melissa Haas- Healing tool to help spouses deal with the pain that comes from sexual addiction.
“Finally Free” by Heath Lambert—a must read for teens and husbands alike. Powerful tool.

Loss of baby:

“Safe in the Arms of God”, by John Mac Arthur. This is the best!
“Experiencing Grief”, by H. Norman Wright Help for the abortion wounded heart… here in Knoxville—they are the BEST!

Wonderful Must Read Books:

“The Heart of Anger” by Lou Priolo
“Trusting God Even When Life Hurts”, by Jerry Bridges
“A Gospel Primer” , Milton Vincent. To help you understand the gospel.

Favorite Internet Filter:

Koala Safe

Quiet Time Books for Younger Kids:

“Big Truths for Little Kids”, by Susan and Richie Hunt. You will learn so much alongside your kids!
“God’s Gospel”, by Jill Nelson. Presents the gospel in a style children can understand, without dumbing it down.

What worth-it resources do you recommend? I love hearing from you!

In Christ,

Tara Dovenbarger

Parenting the Hard to Love

ID-100165537Jamie was tough from day one. Instead of bonding with me like my others, she seems to reject me. Constantly. I want to be close to her, but she just won’t let me. She allows her dad to hold her and rock her, but if I try my attempts are literally shoved away. I am exhausted and tired of trying.”

Continue reading here.

Life Unfolding




The local farm animals huddled around the stall sensing the excitement in the air.  Stormie, our 3 year old Nubian goat, was about to give birth.

Hidden deep inside the coarse hair and dark chamber of the mom, life was growing. For five months the Creator crafted new life.

After a long, pain filled afternoon the final agonizing cries produced the long awaited kids. Each came out neatly folded–long front legs tucked just right under a wet, black nose. Dangling Nubian ears folded exactly in half, rear legs tucked in just right.

A sneeze, a cough, a blink.  Within seconds the folded creations once silent and surrounded by darkness  came to life.

Energy replaced pain as mom bathed each of her kids with her warm tongue.

The farm watched in awe as the new life unfolded, as legs fabricated to leap stretched out in determination to stand.

O LORD, how many are your works! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions.*


All of life exists for God’s pleasure, and bears the fingerprints of true perfection.  If God in His wisdom placed so much detail into a silly little goat, and causes the other farm animals to watch in wonder…what must he think while creating us?

*Psalm 104:24 NASB




Favorite Tried and True Homeschool Resources



After 12 years of homeschooling I’ve learned to love certain curriculum and toss aside others.

But…before you begin to look through these ideas, hop on to and request a free catalog! You will love it!

Preschool and Kindergarten

A Beka Book is the best place to begin your home school journey. The dannyschoolphonics based reading, their teaching of handwriting, fun colorful math books…all packaged together so nothing in your child’s education is overlooked. The teaching manuals will tell mom when to sneeze…well not really…but they walk you through with step by step instruction as you begin to gain confidence in teaching your child. The academic foundation from A Beka will help your child strongly succeed all through their education.

ABCmouse is great for the preschool to kindergarten ages.  The online program’s learning path covers a wide variety of skills and is tons of fun for the emerging student.

Elementary and Special Education

Explode the Code Online is a wonderful addition to your own phonics program. This is not free, but worth the money. We use this for extra practice for reading and spelling skills for my typical learner as well as my child with developmental delays. The program tailors to the student’s skill level and gives detailed reports to the teacher. The workbooks are great as well, but my kids enjoy working on the computer the best!

Splashmath is awesome! I use this online program to supplement what is learned from our textbooks.  I use this for both my typical learner as well as my special needs daughter. Assessments are given for the teacher, and a small fun game is used as an incentive for the student.

Xtramath is for those wanting to toss those math drill flashcards aside! Drill in the math facts online with this fun, free program!

My Father’s World has blessed our family for generations to come! If you are looking for a biblically based, missions minded, biblical worldview foundation with a unit study approach this is for you! We started in 3rd grade with their amazing unit study cycles and are finishing using My Father’s World  in high school. I cannot overstate how these materials have blessed each of us!

High School

Teaching Textbooks.  A textbook which does all the teaching! Step by dstudystep instruction, instant feedback, directions given to missed problems, grade book, test taking…yeah pretty much a home school mom’s dream come true. The staff is very easy to get ahold of if problems arise, and are super duper easy to work with. We used Saxon Math until 7th grade then switched to Teaching Textbooks.

Kahn Academy is great to help when stuck on a math as well as other subjects. These free online video clips are direct to the point and very helpful. His website keeps getting better–more grade levels and subjects keep rolling in.

Yay Math! Do you remember how to do a geometry math proof??? Yeah, me either. Yay Math came in to save my day! These free online videos are so much fun and makes what is difficult simple while being entertained.

My Father’s World offers high school electives and unit studies. Again, this is the BEST of the BEST and we are so thankful for all we have learned and continue to learn through their resources. This company is very easy to work with, and did I say how much I love it???

Ok, well, I hope this helps. Let me know what works great for you. I need to get back to the school table!

In Him,

Tara Dovenbarger