One-on-One Time

Last week I mentioned we had a rocky start to 2018. I had surgery and was in recovery mode all of January. At which time, the kids went through a destruction phase (which is when we donated about 70% of their remaining toys), a defiant phase, a teething molars phase and finally a potty-training regression phase. I have been asking God for a double portion of grace each and every day. At long last, I feel that we are getting out of the weeds and I am happy to report we are all alive and even healthy. Yay! It may sound dramatic, but lets be honest: being a parent of young children makes surviving each day feel like a personal victory.

For those of you who have entirely forgotten the physical and emotional demands of parenting young children please just give us a hug and a gift card to Starbucks and refrain from encouraging catch phrases. It is too easy to look back and only remember the nostalgic feeling of having little tots sitting on your lap. Which I do have lots of precious moments of. Although more often than not my little tots spring onto my lap like goats and with as much grace manage to head butt me right in the nose. That’s about the time I start pushing them off my lap and checking for blood.

Brian and I have brainstormed our parenting trials and it is our conclusion that more one-on-one time would do us all a world of good. Personally, in the midst of chaos I forget how cute they actually are. So when I am with just one they take my breath away. Suddenly they are beaming smiles and giving hugs the entire time. We used to take them out for dates, but it resulted in too many toys and treats and a “Gimme Gimme” attitude. It was hard on the budget and our schedule. A great idea in theory but not sustainable when trying to cycle through 5 kids.

Somehow I heard of a better strategy and we are implementing it. Here’s what we decided to do: Each kid has their own special night every week. Esther has Mondays, Micah has Wednesdays… so on and so forth. They get to stay up an extra 20 minutes with one parent on their night (next week is the other parent). We play games, we color, we read books. If any of the kids causes problems on someone else’s night they lose their turn. The other parent puts the rest of the kiddos to bed and oddly, this hasn’t affected the usual bedtime at all. We still manage to make it down stairs at the same time we always did. Win. Win. Double win.

Oh – side note. You have to actually tell them this is their “special time with mommy/daddy” otherwise they miss the obvious… because that is what kids do.

Pray for them

Over these last few months, I have been praying that God would give my kids obedient hearts. This is a prayer I highly encourage! The Holy Spirit is just as powerful in the heart of a child as He is in an adult. There is no child-sized Holy Spirit!

Lord, you have instructed us to obey those set in authority over us. I pray that (Name) will “obey [his/her] leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over [his/her soul], as those who will have to give an account.” May (Name), “let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to [him/her].” In your Name I pray, amen. – Hebrews 13:17

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

Book Review: I Will Not Fear

 For Black History month, I read I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire by Melba Pattillo Beals. This is an autobiography of a woman who was selected at the age of 15 to be one of nine black students to be integrated into Central High School of Little Rock, AR in 1957. This story impacted me in a way that forced me to shift my previously held assumptions. Never have I been so happy to challenge my beliefs and broaden my understanding.

Click here to continue reading the full Book Review: I Will Not Fear.


Interrupting Matters, Part 2

There are great resources out there for parents who need their kids to stop interrupting them. I personally prefer the free ones! In general, most agree in technique anyway. The website I found to be quick and to the point was from I’ll commence the paraphrase:

Teach them about interruptions

Take the time to teach your kiddos when they should interrupt you. For example, if someone is hurt or if there is someone is at the door that’s a worthy interruption. On the flip side, teach them about the things that can wait.

How to Interrupt

Decide how you want your kids to interrupt you. You know they will, so find something everyone agrees on and make you are all on the same page.

Don’t answer

If your kid interrupts you for the wrong reasons and you scold them for it but answer them anyway just to get them on their way… you have reinforced their behavior. They got what they wanted. May have been accompanied with a clipped response, but totally worth it. So, if it isn’t on your list of acceptable interruptions tell them to wait.

Plan ahead

I love Daniel Tiger because it has good parenting tips! The song goes, “When we do something new, lets talk about what we’ll do.” Such helpful advice. Tell them ahead of time that you are going to work in the office for a bit or you are going to take/make a phone call so they know what to expect.

Verbal Affirmation

If your kids are polite and choose to not interrupt or are patient then make sure you praise them for it! Tell them they did a great job. Kids thrive on positive reinforcement so make sure they feel good for doing what you asked.

– Our Plan –

Brian and I decided to go with the quiet, noninvasive “hand on the arm” technique for interrupting. When our kids need something and we are talking, they quietly put their hand on our arm and rest it there (no pounding!). We acknowledge it with a squeeze and then they wait until we are finished. If it is a longer conversation we will periodically squeeze their hand to let them know we haven’t forgotten them. Or, we try to find a natural break in the conversation to ask them what they need. We have been practicing this, and obviously it’s still a work in progress since Micah hasn’t fully embraced the concept of waiting… but they have been significantly better. I notice most of the improvement at the dinner table. At least we don’t have everyone talking over each other at once. One less headache at the end of the day!

Pray for Them

Pray for your loved ones to honor Christ in their speech and their actions by being respectful to those they spend time with.

Father, I pray (Name) be a (man/woman) who will “respect those who labor among [him/her] and are over [him/her] in the Lord and admonish [him/her], and [will] esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” May (Name) “be at peace among” (his/her) brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

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

Chocolate Chip-Coconut Cookies

Two of my favorite things together… chocolate and coconut! This is a recipe is a variation of the original Toll House. I developed it when I was in college working as a part time cookie baker for a local motel. I would deliver the fresh baked cookies to the rooms of guests who were checking in. FUN! We should all find a way to spend our time doing what we love.

  • 2 1/4 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 3/4 cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup Shredded Coconut

Sift together flour, soda, and salt. In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, oil, white and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time along with vanilla and blend until smooth. Add the chocolate chips and coconut flakes. Spoon dough onto baking sheet in 1″ mounds and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for 7-9 minutes. Don’t over bake!

Interrupting Matters, Part 1

On Valentines morning, I videoed the kids opening their cards from their grandparents since we live a ways apart. As I am narrating this sweet video (no pun intended!) Micah started loudly talking over me and just as quickly I went from sweet-narrator to angry-mom-mode snapping, “Micah I am talking! Stop interrupting me!” Nothing like my in-laws getting a close up view of my kind, loving parenting skills on Valentines Day.

Kids interrupt. As early as their first words and on into adulthood they will continue to interrupt unless trained otherwise. At first it is an annoyance to parents. When they grow older it is disrespectful. As adults, it becomes a way to aggressively dominate by overtly dismissing the thoughts and concerns of others as unimportant.

As I have mentioned before, Brian and I believe parenting needs to be intentional with long-sighted goals. We want our children to grow into adults who value others, have healthy listening skills and are able to confidently share their own thoughts and concerns.

I did some research and discussed with Brian how we want to approach this.  In my Friday post I will share my research results as well as what we have personally decided to do.

Pray for them

Valuing others goes beyond words, it is a belief that fuels our actions. Let us pray that the truth of God will take root in the hearts of our loved ones so that they will life a life of value and honor toward others.

Lord, I ask you to continue to shape (Name’s) character into one of honor and justice. As Joseph was “a just man and unwilling to put [Mary] to shame,” I pray (Name) will also be a (man/woman) of justice who sees people through your eyes and who is therefore resolved not to shame anyone, but rather to live a life that honors others. In Jesus’ name, amen. – Matthew 1:19

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

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops

  • 1 1/2 lbs Pork Chops
  • 6-8 medium Potatoes
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom
  • 1 package of dry egg noodles
  • 2 packages dry Ranch Dressing
  • 1 cup Milk
  • Sliced green onions (garnish)

Combine soup, ranch mix and milk until smooth. Add in potatoes and raw pork chops. Cook in a dutch oven for 1hr 20 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven.

Valentines Blitz

I hope everyone had a happy Valentines day last week! We started the morning off right with a bouquet of balloons for the kids and cards from their grandparents.

As you can see it was good fun. Then we finished up the weekend with pink, heart-shaped pancakes. Brian’s creative skills at work there. (Yes, he looks good in a kitchen!)

Esther had fun at her Valentines Day party at school. They made little crafts together and for the last hour the parents were allowed to come. So I went and I enjoyed some Valentine Day fun with the littles in her class.

Then, the next day was 77! So we abandoned the house and played outside all day. I got a bad case of Spring Fever and I’ve been planning my garden ever since.

Pray for them

It is easy to get distracted with romance on Valentines Day, but in truth, love is the essence of the One who created the heavens and the earth. He left His throne in heaven and gave His life for ours so that we would know His love. All love originates from Him. I believe it is the most powerful force in heaven and on earth and there is nothing that can withstand the power of His love.

Father, “if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,” I pray (Name) will with (his/her) brothers and sisters in Christ be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Protect the bond of unity and peace between (Name) and the church. In Jesus’ name I ask this, amen. – Philippians 2:1-2

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

Pink Heart Pancakes

The base of this recipe is “Fluffy Pancakes” from Allrecipes. This is my favorite pancake recipe because it is delicious and I can alter it for whatever I want. (The secret is in the butter.) This is a double batch because anything less would result in a family mutiny.

  • 1 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup White Vinegar
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs beaten
  • 4 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 8 drops Red Food Dye (adjust for desired colored).

Preheat griddle to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine milk and  vinegar and set aside (Or, if you have it on hand you can simply substitute 1 3/4 buttermilk). In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add milk, eggs, butter, vanilla and food dye. Mix until smooth.

Use a squeeze bottle to shape batter into hearts on the griddle (or a spoon if you don’t have a squeeze bottle on hand). Serve hot with whipped cream and strawberries.


How Much Is Too Much?

  1. 1.
  2. an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.

Lately, our kids have been going through a mega destruction phase. It has become a major source of stress for me. I would spend my time trying to fix their toys only to realize the destruction was deliberate … it’s as if they (my boys in particular) want to see how much force a toy could endure before it broke. In my exasperation I would try to get ideas from friends and family and too often I would hear, “Boys will be boys.” Or, “Oh you can just get another, it doesn’t cost that much.”

The problem is, I hated seeing the toys that were carefully chosen for my kids broken just so my “boy could be boys” and watch it break. It is the epitome of ingratitude and a lack of value for the things they have. I found myself looking at the faces on my refrigerator of other kids who do not have as much and my anger would just build.

When did we become the family that lived in excess? Do my kids have so many toys that they do not care when one breaks or when it is thrown away? Are they of the opinion it will be replaced just as fast as one is lost? After two weeks of having daily incidents (sometimes more), I found myself facing the third incident of the morning and I WAS DONE.

I called them all down to the kitchen and I told them about kids who did not have as much. When they got a toy it was so special that it would be cherished and protected. Since my kids clearly had so many toys that they did not care if one broke, I told them we were cleaning house.

Each kid got their own kitchen-sized trash bag. I told them to go through their personal toys (no one else’s) and keep only their most favorites. Everything else would be donated to kids who would appreciate and take care of them. An hour later I went through each bag and pulled out any I knew were special or would be handed down to the girls. Then I made them go again.

The next day we took our bags to the local thrift store and donated them.  Late that evening, at the dinner table Gabe was telling Brian about his day and how he gave his “toys to kids who would take good care of them.” That was a week ago and the kids still haven’t missed a single toy we gave away.

This issue of excess is a product of the American consumerism culture we live in. Brian and I are just as guilty for allowing this many toys to begin with. However, we believe parenting is intentional and needs to have long-sighted goals.  So we discussed them. Who did we want to raise up our kids to become?

How do we raise up adults who understand hard work and value for things? How do we raise them to be content with and grateful for only what they need? Do we want them to live within their means or become consumer-addicts and slaves to debt in an effort to keep up with the Jones’? How can we teach our family to be content and satisfied with God’s provisions? Do we ourselves live from a heart of gratitude? When is enough enough? How do we as parents instill those attitudes of gratitude and contentment into our children?

No sooner than the very next ride into town was Gabe telling me about the new toy he wanted. I said, “Gabe, we just gave your extra toys away because you could not take care of them. Now, I want you to list out loud five of your favorite things and tell me why each one is a favorite. Esther, your’e next.”

Pray for Them 

Pray your kids grow up to be thankful for God’s blessings and find a church who will develop this in them. Ask the Lord to give them value for their blessings and discernment between their needs and wants.

Father, what a gift the body of Christ is. Direct (Name) to the body of Christ where they “let the peace of Christ rule in [their] hearts, to which indeed [they] were called in one body.” I pray they have a thankful spirit and “let the word of Christ dwell in [them] richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [their] hearts to God.” Father, I pray that “whatever [Name does], in word or deed, [(he/she) would] do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In Jesus’ name, amen.                – Colossians 3:15-17

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

Cinnamon Chip Scones

I am on a scone kick and cinnamon is my favorite. After trying so many recipes, I have found this base (from Better Homes and Gardens) to be the perfect balance between flaky and soft.

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream (cold)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine in a large bowl flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Cut in cold butter until it resembles course crumbs. Stir in cinnamon chips until coated and set aside. In a measuring cup light whisk egg and stir in cream. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients (helps blend quicker keeping you from over mixing) and add the egg mixture stirring until just moistened. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently 10-12 times until it comes together and can be shaped into a rectangle. Cut into six squares and then slice each square diagonally to make 12 triangles. Place 2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes.

If you want to top with a sauce:

In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine 2 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp light corn syrup and 1 tsp cinnamon. Stir until smooth and when the scones are done lightly drizzle over top.

Potty Training Frustration

Wait, why didn’t I change the picture? …because I didn’t need to! I couldn’t tell you how we got here. There haven’t been any major changes or upsets in the routine and this hasn’t been a one time episode. After several weeks dealing with accidents, the glaring wake up call happened at a couple weeks ago. Both boys were not only misbehaving at lifegroup on  a grand scale, but they both peed their pants. They have been potty trained for a year. A YEAR …and they are four. So you can imagine my frustration when we had to make an early exit.

After getting to the bottom of this delightful parenting pothole, I discovered that somewhere along the way my boys both decided (probably together) it wasn’t time to stop playing and go to the bathroom until their underwear was already wet.  So now I am retraining the mindset and we are home until they get it. Hello, Cabin Fever!

Basically, the only story at our house is: “Son, you get to choose: You can go places and do fun things when you go to the potty and keep your underwear dry,  or you can stay home and miss out if you have accidents.” (Which by the way are not accidents. But I had to relabel it so they understood that wet underwear was in fact a problem).

It puts the control in their hands. They understand they get to make this decision and no one else can make it for them. Points in their power bucket. It’s working too. It took a few missed events to get their attention, but it is starting to sink in and I am seeing a few consecutive days here and there with dry underwear. Which is awarded by going somewhere fun.

Sometimes it feels like I am cutting my own nose off. No MOPS, no gym, no church, no lifegroup. At least Brian and I can alternate church and lifegroup. I know parenting is a sacrifice and it will be worth it to see them clean, with good hygiene, self-confidence and self-awareness. It’s worth it.

Almost every parent goes through this on some level or another. Every kid is different and as parents we have to discern the situation and decide what is best. My four year old boys hate being controlled. They need to expand their sphere of influence and tend to test boundaries. So I decided to put the control directly in their hands. They get to choose and be in charge of the outcome. It’s a slow process but when it’s over it will be ingrained and is worth the temporary sacrifice.

So if you are frustrated, possibly in tears and sick of doing dirty laundry… I get it. No judgment here. They will learn and it will all be worth it. These days will soon be behind you – and you will move on to blissfully forget how bad it was.

Parenting tip: If you don’t have one yet, buy a portable potty and put it in your car because public restrooms can be gross and you may not even be close to one anyway. I line mine with trash bags for easy clean up. Make sure it has a lid that closes… for obvious reasons.

Pray for Them

We all need support, love and comfort. Pray that your loved ones find it in Jesus Christ and in healthy relationships with those who love him.

Father, “if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,” I pray (Name) will with (his/her) brothers and sisters in Christ be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Protect the bond of unity and peace between (Name) and the church. In Jesus’ name I ask this, amen. – Philippians 2:1-2

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

Valentines Shortbread Cookies

I use a shortbread recipe for these. YUM. Shortbread cookies are one of my very favorites and I only eat them on worthy occasions. For this recipe you’ll need big and small heart shaped cookie cutters. My favorite shortbread recipe is from Pioneer Woman.

  • 1 cup +2 Tbs Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • Less than 1 cup of Corn Starch
  • Jam of your choice
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting

Mix butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl sift together flour and corn starch. Incorporate into butter mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Form into a ball and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Dust a surface with flour and roll out the chilled dough until it is about 1/4″ thick. Cut an even number of large hearts first. Then separate half the large hearts and place on the cookie sheet. With the smaller cookie cutter, cut the center out of the remaining hearts and gently move onto cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Once cooled, spread the jam on the solid hearts and place the other hearts on top. Dust with powdered sugar and then take a bow because those are the prettiest cookies yet.

Shortbread recipe affectionately taken from




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


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.


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.