I said “yes”

There is a time and a season for everything. For me, summer is the time for “Yes.” For example:

Mommy, can I have a popcicle? -YES

Mommy, can we stay in our bathing suits all day? -YES

Mommy, can I play in the rain? -YES

You can imagine my answer when Esther said, “Mommy, can we have a kitten?” … That’s how Cupcake entered our lives today. What can I say? It’s summer.

We are not an animal rescue farm, but years ago I made a commitment. With Jesus being the Author of Life, it is my personal conviction to fight for life when it is within my power. In an effort to raise up children who will also value and fight for every life no matter how small, I said yes.

And you know what? I’m not sorry. The look on my daughters face was more than enough justification for that yes. 

All day Esther has been bathing her, naming her, cuddling her, moving her from indoors to outdoors and all kinds of other locations. Eventually, I had to put my foot down and say, “Sorry honey, you cannot sleep with her.” Welcome to the family Cupcake. You are already loved.


Pray for them

The myriad of life-giving choices and decisions are as different as the colors in a sunrise.  Whether it is small, every day choices or big life decisions, lets pray over our loved ones that they will be a source of God’s living water to those around them.

Lord, I ask that (Name) would be given a heart of humility and love. Please do not let (Name) “become conceited, provoking [others], envying [others].” Rather, I pray that (Name) will be a constant source of your living water that is both refreshing and life giving to all who encounter (him/her). In your name I pray, amen.  – Galatians 5:26

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Chick-Fil-A

When it’s 5:30 and I am still on the road with still no dinner plan in sight, I’ll throw the kids into the car with me and go to Chick-Fil-A. Sometimes I feel like I am cheating, but I then I look in my rear view mirror and see them happily munching away. In my books, that’s a win. So, on this blog there is no shame for the nugget. Especially when it comes with sauce.

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Just like riding a bike

This last week, on the fourth of July my oldest three learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels!

I honestly believe we were a little bit behind on this as parents, but these kids were SO ready. With just a few runs each, they took off like pros. The biggest struggle was learning how to start on their own, and how to push through their own disappointment when it took more work than they expected.

But I am so proud of my three musketeers! Now, every morning after breakfast I wait to find out who will say it first:

Who wants to go ride bikes with me?!

Tiny helmets and shoes on, they go flying out that back door as fast as their feet can carry them.

Of course, we’ve had to come up with some safety rules, like…

  1. Don’t drive your bike into anything including other bikes, fences, cars and animals. (Boys naturally try to crash into things I think it’s in their genetic makeup.)
  2. Yell “Coming up behind you!” before you pass someone.
  3. Don’t swerve when someone is passing.
  4. Don’t go near your sisters.
  5. Always wear shoes and helmets.

Rules for three new bikers probably looks different than a single rider.


Pray for Them

Letting go of control can be hard as a parent. As much as we want to see them succeed, it can be scary to cut the apron strings, or in our case, take off the training wheels. But, wisdom and understanding are both gifts from the Lord and are derived from experience self-learned or by watching others. At some point, you gotta let go and pray for wisdom and understanding.

Lord, let (Name) be blessed when (he/she) “finds wisdom, and [becomes] the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.” In your name I pray, amen. – Proverbs 3:13-14

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Snacks

There are two times a day that are set in stone at our house. If we miss them, it isn’t pretty. It’s usually on a Saturday when I drop the ball because Brian is home and I’ve the freedom to focus elsewhere. About 10:30 he frantically looks at our screaming children and says, “What just happened?” And I answer, “It’s probably 10:30.” To which I get a blank stare… “Snack time, love. Did they have a snack yet?”

So here is our family favorites:

  • Cheese Sticks – full fat.
  • Graham Crackers (Daddy puts Nutella on them, mommy doesn’t. I guess you can see who the favorite is here.)
  • Baby Carrots and Hummus
  • Something leftover from breakfast like a biscuit or a pancake.
  • Bananas, apples or oranges

I would love to hear what you have in your cornucopia! We could all use some fresh ideas.

Fun fact: Between the 7 of us, we go through 16 bananas a week. They range between $0.50-.60 per banana. A budget friendly option.

 

“Pacemaker”

There are so many names I use to describe my roll as a mom. In the height of our baby days, I often referred to myself as the “Family Pack Mule.” With 5 kids born in 3.5 years, I spent my days loaded down with all kinds of paraphernalia.

“Me” in the baby stage.

Now, with school days around the corner and both Brian and I embarking on new ventures, I am realizing I have taken on a new role. As keeper of the schedule, it is now my job to be the “Family Pacemaker.”

Before Fall rushes upon us, I like to take time to step back and fit together the puzzle pieces of our future schedule. It is way too easy to become that crazy, busy family that never has time to cook a meal and eat it. Always zipping from one appointment to another, I am already noticing those uninterrupted conversations between Brian and I are more elusive than ever. Last night I found myself thinking about our future Fall schedule (at 11pm… of course).

Families have a rhythmic heartbeat and maintaining that healthy pulse creates a thriving environment for kids and parents alike. (Truth is, if we aren’t thriving neither are they.) Every family is different and runs to the beat of their own drum. You’ll have to find your own “family pulse.”

Personally, as I look to the upcoming season in our lives I am realizing that we will soon need to make some hard decisions about which commitments God has called us to.

If it isn’t life-giving, it is life-sapping.

Saying no can be hard, and leaving a commitment is even harder. It is the heart of a servant to see a need and want to fill it. But, we see God’s best work when we stick the plan He has for us, not the plans everyone else has for us.

So, here is a word of encouragement to the Pacemakers who are hard at work creating a healthy, life-giving foundation for our families: Find the heartbeat. If it’s too fast, be bold and slow it down. We all need flexibility and down time in our lives. Since we will not magically wake up to it, it is up to us to evaluate and make changes.


Pray for them

Know someone who needs to step out of “busy” and into the plans God has prepared for them? Let’s pray for clarity and discernment.

Father, I give you praise for all you will do in and through (Name). I pray according to “your eternal purpose that [you have] realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” that (Name) will, in Christ, “have boldness and access with confidence [the wisdom of God] through [his/her] faith in [Jesus].” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.   -Ephesians 3:11-12

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Brisket

This was so easy it made my fingers tingle. Put a 3 pound frozen brisket (or roast) into a dutch oven and add these ingredients on top:

  • 1 12 oz can of beer
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp chili paste (from the Asian isle)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pop the lid on top and put it into the oven. Set to 350 and let it roast for 3-4 hours. Check on it, cut into smaller pieces and let it roast for another hour. Once tender, shred and serve.

Strawberry Fields

Twenty minutes north of our house is a field of 36,000 plants of delicious, organically grown strawberries. They let you come in and pick your own at $2.50/pound (eating as many as you can on the spot for free of course!).

The kids had strawberry juice dripping off their chins and running down their elbows. They had a blast. We picked about 40 pounds and it was a perfect morning. Right now those strawberries are resting in my deep freeze ready and waiting to be made into smoothies, strawberry shortcakes and strawberry jams.

We learned about what they look like ripe and when they are still growing. We learned that strawberries do not ripen after they are picked, so an unripe strawberry off the vine will stay that way. We learned that Grace and Ruth will take one bite from each strawberry they pick and then put it into the basket. We learned that if I time it just right, I can come and get their old plants for my own garden at the end of the season when they clear them out. WOO HOO!!

What a great way to spend the morning. If you are looking for a fun thing to do with your kiddos, I suggest you find out what fruit is in season and go pick it for yourselves! It is so much more fun than the grocery store, you get only the best, for those of us who are budget minded it is much more economical, and most importantly  you can make some great memories with your family.  Win-win-win-win!

P.S. Don’t judge us by our clothes. It had rained the night before!


Pray for Them

Of course… there is always a good teaching lesson to be found here as well!

Lord, create in (Name) a heart of “good soil,” so that when the kingdom of God is sown into (him/her), (Name) will be “the one who hears the word and understands it. [May (Name)] indeed [be one who] bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” In your holy name I pray, amen.  – Matthew 13:23

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Book Review: Adamant

This may be one of the best books written by Lisa Bevere because the message is so prevalent to today’s church. There are some difficult truths to be discovered here, but they are truth none the less. It is amazing how difficult it can be to discern truth in a culture that lives in various shades of grey.

….to continue reading this book review, please read it here on Book Review: Adamant.

 

Kick ‘Em Out!

It was nap time and they were all supposed to be going potty and getting in their beds. As I was tucking in Grace the uproar began. Annoyed at Esther and Micah for being unable to carry out my simple request of “go potty and get in bed” I took a quick evaluation of the situation.

Apparently Esther got to one bathroom first and Micah wouldn’t leave. Micah knows better. So I sent him to his room and I took a deep breath. (Because I have been working on this!!) Sitting on his bed I very calmly I explained to him that if someone is in the bathroom he finds another one. That when Esther asks for privacy he gives it to her and vice versa. He is never to enter the bathroom while someone is trying to use it.

Happy with my cool, calm and collected response I could tell something was wrong. I wasn’t yelling. Why was Micah crying so hard? “Micah, do you feel like you have been treated unfairly?” All I got was blubbering. Micah’s lips swell when he cries so it really is a blubbering mess with more lips than he knows what to do with.

Eventually he took a gulp of air and said, “yeah.” And I said, “Why? Did Esther ask you to leave?” “Yeah.” “Did you?” “No.” “Then why are you so upset? You know that isn’t how you behave. You knew you wouldn’t get away with it.” “She was kicking me.” “What?” “When I didn’t leave Esther starting kicking me hard!” “Okay. Well she should not be doing that either. I’ll have a talk with her. But next time someone is in the bathroom just find a different one.”

So I moved to Esther’s room to clear up this mess. “Where you kicking Micah?” “Yeah. He wouldn’t leave.” “Okay, I know you need your privacy and I’m proud of you for not going in front of him, but you can’t just kick people to make them do something.” “You told me to! You told me that next time I need to get dressed or go potty I am to kick the boys out of the room!” Oops! I did say that. “Sorry Esther, it’s my fault for using that wording. I meant for you to make sure they leave the room. We don’t hit, kick or push people. This whole thing could’ve been avoided if you had just asked for help. Try that next time.”

Sigh. Time for a brownie.


Pray for them

Lord, empower (Name) to “keep [his/her] tongue from evil and [his/her] lips from speaking deceit.” May (Name) “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” For, “the eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ear toward their cry.” In the name I Jesus I pray, amen.    -Psalm 34:13-15

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Brownies with a twist

Speaking of brownies… I have taken to the habit of making my brownies with coconut oil instead of regular vegetable oil. It is so much better for you AND it adds that delicious suggestion of coconut. Make sure you get the extra virgin coconut oil that is solid or it will not have the flavor. Coconut oil liquidates at 76 degrees, so it just needs a little boost from room temperature before you can stir it in, but oh my is it good!

 

Judgment Day

It was Esther’s helper day at preschool. We did her hair special and she wore pink from head to toe armed with her favorite toy for show and tell.

At the beginning of the class, I was standing between her and another girl when I smelled an awful smell. The kind of body oder that comes from unwashed kids. My heart became sad for the little girl I stood over. What kind of home did she come from?

We moved to circle time and Esther got to sit in the middle and the other little girl was on the opposite end. Again, even from that distance I caught a whiff of it. Frustration grew inside of me at her parents. I knew I was judging but I didn’t care. It’s unacceptable for a kid to be so neglected.

With a silent huff from me we finished that portion of circle time and Little E came to sit by me, so proud her mommy was there. She swung her arms around me and gave me the sweetest little bear hug.

Then it hit me. That smell wasn’t coming from across the room. That smell was MY kid. How on earth? I sniffed her shirt again and wanted to groan. When? How? Geez. There I was judging the daylights out of some unsuspecting parent when it was MY fancy parenting skills on display. On her helper day no less.

During a private moment later I asked her,

Esther? How many times have you worn this shirt since we washed it?
Two Times! Today is my third. Isn’t it great? It isn’t even dirty yet!
Uh huh. Well Sweetie, I would like to wash all your clothes after you wear them. Especially now that we are playing outside more often in the sunshine.

That verse came floating back to me later… about whatever measure we use to judge others with will also be used on us. Yeah… turns out that’s true.

It’s so easy to point fingers and make harsh judgment calls, but appearances are not always the case. Regardless, we could all use a little extra grace.


Pray for them 

On that note, why don’t we all just come into agreement with this prayer right here…

Father, keep (Name) from judging others “that [he/she] be not judged. For with the judgment [Name] pronounce[s] [he/she] will be judged, and with the measure [(Name) uses] it will be measured to [him/her].” Therefore, I ask you to guard (Name’s) heart and keep it pure from judgment and criticism. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.   – Matthew 7:1-2

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Joanna Gaine’s Buttermilk biscuits

These are the best. I thought I had found a favorite biscuit recipe until I discovered these. It’s the Cream of Tartar that makes all the difference. I’m totally buying her cookbook when it comes out. (Hint Hint BRIAN… Mother’s Day gift!)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup butter or 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Milk for brushing (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until mixture is moistened.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it just until dough holds together. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle. Cut into 12 squares or rectangles with a knife or pizza cutter. Do not separate.
  3. If desired, brush with milk. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. Makes 12 biscuits.

Does the Supermoon Wear A Cape?

Last week Brian and I got up early to watch the full eclipse of the “Super Blue Blood Moon.” Given this event is not expected to happen again for another 100 years at least, we decided to get the older kids up too.

Armed with coffee and binoculars (no comments allowed from telescope owners) we watched the beauty of this phenomenon. That’s when Micah asked, “Hey Dad, does the Supermoon wear a cape?” And I realized all over again just how much I love these kids. I think Brian’s response was, “No. But he should shouldn’t he?”

It is so easy to get caught up being an adult I forget the joy of discovering the world for the first time. It was fun to see the kids watch the moon and fight over who would get the binoculars first. Gabe was brave enough to take on the cold, dark yard to get a better look at it with Daddy while Micah and Esther stayed inside where it was warm.

In watching my kids’ wonder, I too could not help but feel God’s presence in something so incredible. Knowing that He pays as much attention to the details of our lives as He does to the work of His hands.


Pray for them 

A fresh 2018 is here with it’s promise of life and memories to be made. This year, I want to invite you with me in my commitment to pursue the presence of God. Let’s also pray the Spirit of God would go before our loved ones, be upon them and remain behind them touching and changing the lives of everyone they come into contact with.

Lord, I ask for the presence of your Spirit to be poured out on (Name’s) life. May Joel’s prophecy: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy,” be fulfilled in your servant (Name). Grant (him/her) the necessary discernment and wisdom to answer your call and be faithful to the end. In the name of Jesus, amen.      -Acts 2:17-18

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Honey Lime Tart

Pulled this from our copy of the Magnolia Magazine. So thank you Joanna Gaines for your delicious recipes! The original recipe is for tartlets but I altered this to make it one tart. (Mamma’s time is precious.)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 Tbs Butter (unsalted, cold and diced into 1/2″ chunks)
  • 2 Tbs Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs Ice Water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Lime Zest
  • 1/3 cup Lime Juice
  • 3 Tbs Butter (Unsalted, cold and cut up)
  • 1 Tbs. Honey
  • 1 cup Sour Cream

Crust

Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, 2 Tbs sugar and salt. Cut in butter until it is pea sized. Add egg yolk and ice water and combine until it begins to form a ball. Press dough into an tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden. Cool completely.

Filling

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in heavy cream, lime zest and lime juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until gently boiling. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes more until it thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and honey until smooth. Pour into the tart shell and chill for at least one hour.

Leslie