Monday, September 29, 2014

The Dinner Project

I have a confession.

Our family has disastrous meal habits.

I'm sure it's probably a sin somewhere in the Old Testament.

Dave could very well be disqualified as a pastor.

And things have gotten progressively worse since the baby arrived.

I won't go into detail but let's just say there has been an unGodly amount of Chipotle involved.

And eating of separate non-Chipotle frozen items in the playroom.

It's piece and quiet and burrito bowls for Dave and I.

But it's not good for our family.

We're a culinary tragedy.

My sweet friend Laurie posted a meal plan on Facebook last week and tagged my Baked Ziti Recipe in her rotation.

A Baked Ziti I only make for friends with new babies.

Or when we have company over.

Because my kids look at it like it's laced with formaldehyde.

So I laughed.

And made a promise to myself to set this dinnertime ship straight.

I want my kids to remember meals around our table.

Conversations where we look at each other's faces.

I want them to have memories of favorite foods that are not store-bought, take-out and/or frozen.

My last post was a good reminder that we need to make the most of the afternoons that they are home with us.

This growing up time is short and goes by so very fast.

I want that extra hour.

And although there will be complaining and resistance and hidden vegetables behind the china hutch at first.

I know it will pay off in the end.

I know it's important.

I'm starting simple.

And I'm starting tonight.

Make your own pizzas.

And salad.

I'm having the girls choose a few more new recipes from my Kraft magazines and cookbooks.

I also have a few standard classics that I'm going to force them to eat.

Baked Formaldehyde, for example. 

I'm committed to cooking a FULL meal every weeknight even if no one eats more than one bite.

And everyone needs to try one bite.

And after I see what sticks,

I'm implementing Laurie's rotation.

She has 5 weeks worth of set meals.

I'm thinking we'll probably start with two weeks.

I found this cute Post-It printable made by my friend Mique.

That will go on the fridge.

My kids do better when they know what to expect.

I'm also bringing back dessert as an incentive.

Fun, easy desserts.

And kitchen will be closed after dinner.

I don't want dinnertime to be a fight.

And I don't want brussel sprouts hidden in my walls.

But I don't want there not to be dinnertime.

So I will do my best to find things we all like.

I want this to be fun.

Also, I find that when I confess, others do, too.

Any other dinner slackers out there?

It's safe here.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Galatians 3:28 and the Elephant in the Classroom.

Sometimes on Sunday mornings Dave turns his back to the congregation and faces the stage, mid-sermon.

He preaches to himself.

He even says that.

"I'm preaching to myself here, guys."

And I type with that sentiment.

I'm mostly blogging to myself here.

But I'm only half the equation.

So I realize it kind of falls short.

I guess I just want you to feel like we're in this together.

Because we are.

And anything otherwise would contradict the heart behind my words.

But I think we need a reminder, Christian moms.

Enough is enough with the judgment over schooling choices.

The conversations we have with like-minded friends under the guise of "encouragement" or "fellowship" that quickly turn south.

And we start them knowing they will turn south.

The screen shots and snarky texts we send.

The comments we make under our breath and the thoughts in our heads.

The finger pointing and misguided passion.

The delighting in weaknesses and short-comings to prove our stance is correct.

The public school mom who scoffs at the homeschool family learning in their PJs.

Or having a math lesson at a convenience store.

The homeschool mom who, although she may not say it, carries herself with arrogance and believes in her heart she loves her children more.

The public school mom who ignorantly assumes homeschool moms are overprotective, overwhelmed and raising children ill-equipped for real life.

The homeschool mom who shares news articles about our failing public school system every chance she gets.

Even though she's never stepped foot on a public school campus.

The public school mom who arrogantly comments on posted news articles, proudly proving she's not sending her children off to the wolves.

Even though she doesn't know for sure.

The homeschool mom who judges the public school mom for having her head in the sand and being lazy.

Or even worse?

The implication that she can't possibly love her children if she is willing to expose them to the "evils" of the public school system.

The public school mom jealous of the greater influence a homeschool mom may have on her children.

The homeschool mom jealous of a public school mom's late morning pedicure.

The public school mom who doesn't "like" a picture on Instagram because it has a home education hashtag.

The homeschool mom who doesn't post a comment on a picture on Facebook because it has a public school location geotag.

None of this is good, you guys.

Or healthy.

Or edifying.

Let's stop.

Because here's the deal.

Homeschool mom is doing her best.

She loves her children.

She takes seriously her role as parent.

She messes up.

She is tired and weary and scared.

Public school mom is doing her best.

She loves her children.

She takes seriously her role as parent.

She messes up.

She is tired and weary and scared.

We need to trust that we're each doing what's right and best for our family.

We need to love each other.

And support each other.

And not let feelings of inadequacy, insecurity or envy cloud our emotions.

Or worse?

Fracture our friendships. 

Because there is a wedge.

And as the American Christian homeschool movement gains momentum, it's getting worse.

I see it.


In churches.

I see friend circles based on schooling choices.

I even see divide within the homeschool community over curriculum.

I see popular Christian preachers calling for a mass exodus out of the public school system.

I hear it in our tone when we talk about it.

It's getting kind of crazy, you guys.

It makes me sad.

And honestly.

I think Paul would be angry.

He might even swear.

Because it's rubbish.

It's imperative that we abandon the mindset that there is only one way to educate our children.

That homeschooling produces anti-social, uneducated and narrow-minded individuals.

Or that homeschooling is biblically mandated.

And that Satan himself is running the American pubic school system.

And he isn't.

Here's the reality.

The public school system has deep flaws.

It also has great triumphs.

The home education system has deep flaws.

It also has great triumphs.

Through all of it, God is still in control.

And without relinquishing our own control and relying on Him,

we don't stand a chance.

If I, public school mom, want zero judgment.

I need to judge zero myself.

If you, homeschool mom, want me to respect you and your choices.

You need to respect and trust mine.

We all want our kids to be decent humans and know and follow Jesus.

But that happens through prayer.

And study of Scripture.

And implementing the things of God into your family time.

At 10:30 am.

Or 3:30 pm.

Ultimately, it happens through God's sovereign work in our children's hearts.

It's not contingent on any specific learning environment or curriculum.

Likewise, it can't be thwarted by any specific learning environment or curriculum.

Press on in confidence, mamas.

Be praying.

Be learning.

Be loving and unified.

We miss out when we're not.

We're all doing our best.

Be quicker to give each other the benefit of the doubt than to say I told you so.

Public school moms, let's be praying for our friends that homeschool.

For patience and wisdom and endurance.

Homeschool moms, let's be praying for our friends that choose public school.

For encouragement and assurance and that their families would make a difference on campus.

Our children learn the most from watching us.

All day long in a homeschool setting.

Or after they are done with a full day of public school.

Our influence is the same.

And we want them to see Jesus.

So let's be sure we're showing them what He looks like.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Our little girl turned one last week.

She's such a sweet addition to our family.

This past year has changed us.

It's hard to imagine life before her.

She's a petite little thing.

Her hair is growing in a bit and I predict Kayla's curls.

She's scooting around the furniture.

And constantly on the move.

She is quick.

The lure of our cable box has been replaced with the dog crate.

Which is more convenient for my productivity.

She has a mouthful of teeth and says "mama" 237 times each day.

But I don't think she realizes who's she talking about yet.

She only sleeps through the night when someone else puts her down.

So basically I'm trying to get Dave on board with hiring a night nanny.

She is sweet and even tempered.

Unless you take away something she shouldn't have.

Like dog bones.

Or pennies.

Or Spray and Wash.

We celebrated her milestone last weekend.

With pinwheels.

And cotton candy.

And lots of little friends.

And not so little friends.

The weather was beautiful and the party guests spent much of the day in the pool.

Ashlyn and Kayla rigged a inner tube jump that kept everyone very busy.

Nan hired a "lifeguard" that most likely didn't know CPR but he could yell really loud if someone was in trouble.  Which is kind of the same thing?

I made pistachio cupcakes with cream cheese frosting that the birthday girl rejected in disgust.

I think she even kicked it at one point.

My baby hates cake.

We sang to her and she got scared.

So we stopped before she cried.

Daddy barbecued hot dogs and sliders.

While chatting with the non-lifeguard.

Candy-filled pinwheels made perfect and easy favors.

Ashlyn opened up all of Holland's gifts.

While the guest of honor played with a single piece of orange tissue paper for 45 minutes.

You know.

I don't agree with Hillary on much.

But she is absolutely right when she says it takes a village.

A kind, loving village.

Our girl's first year of life has been so greatly supplemented by so many wonderful people.

It's made our year richer.

It makes her life better.

I've seen the impact our village has had on our older two.

And it makes me more confident in parenting.

We are not alone.

And I'm so thankful they've stuck around for our littlest.

Their love and investment makes a difference.

She is blessed because of it.

We are blessed because of it.

Happy first birthday, Holland girl.

We love you so.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Canned Goods of Summer.

Kelle Hampton posted the following as a caption on Instagram last week.

Under a picture of her husband reading a bedtime story to their daughter:

"One for the parenting canned good cellar --

jars of good, happy, peaceful moments

that we stash away to pull out during the droughts and harsh winters of life.

Our [social media] feeds are full of them --

summer sleepovers, family hugs, cartwheel silhouettes against beach sunsets,

babies sleeping on chests, bedtime stories and smiles for days.

Every moment of every day hardly looks like this.

But maybe we accept that these little feeds are our cellars,

and it feels good to stockpile the best stuff when it comes.

To hold us over during the messy and hard and confusing.

For all the jars I've robbed during the hard times (I took one today!)...

I restocked one tonight.

Stock your cellars."

I love these words.

And here are the canned goods of our summertime.

All the best moments.

And a reminder that all moments are not best.

And that's ok.

Everyone has their sad stories.

Their bad days.

We just like to show the world our happy ones.

And that's ok, too.

Camping with kindreds at Bass Lake.

I do need to pause and talk about camping for a second.

Process, if you will.

We were in tents.

In dirt.

With spiders.

It was hard, you guys.

But we're already planning next year's trip.

It's kind of like childbirth.

You forget quickly because the memories are so rich.

Cove swimming.

Late night campfire laughter after the kids are asleep.

Hot dog quesadillas and Pop Tarts for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ice cream in Yosemite.

But then I remember the spiders.

I might need an epidural next year.

We also crashed my parent's time share for a week.

Newport is our favorite.

Nor Cal beaches are beautiful and all.

But it's nice to actually get in the water.

Thanks, mom and dad.

You are so kind to share with us.

If it wasn't for you all of our vacations would involve spiders and Pop Tarts.

We attended many weddings this summer.

Young adults near and dear to our hearts.

It was a joy to celebrate what God has brought together.

Different celebrations, unique to each couple.

Love is the best.

Praying over the miracle of new life in our church family.

That happened 100% naturally, two weeks after a failed infertility treatment.

I still can't believe it.

Come to Hope, ask for Jen and talk to her for three hours.

Her story is my favorite.

Praying for our pastor on his 39th birthday.

Hearing dear, wise saints thank him for showing them love and grace.

For preaching forgiveness and truth.

For causing them the read the bible with fresh eyes.

For caring for them.

The canned goods of pastoring.

There were the simple days, too.

Visiting a nearby stable.

Turning 10 months.

Although I don't know how that is even possible.

Naps at church.

She takes them wherever she can get them.

Third child.

Golf camp with dad.

Sand for lunch at the beach we can't swim in.

And so many drum parties.

Really loud drum parties.

We're about to enter a busy fall season.

All exciting stuff.

But I'm already overwhelmed at my schedule.

The ease of summer is now tucked away on a shelf.

And I know I'll be visiting that mental pantry often.

Adios, summer.

You've been real.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mildred Knows Jesus. And Lemon Bars.

Kayla embarked on the awkward adventure that is junior high last week.

And you know what?

She is ready to conquer the world.

I am more excited than terrified.

I know she will encounter joys and hurts.

Highs and lows.

My nature as a mother is to want to protect her from all the hurts and lows.

But I can't.

And I shouldn't.

Because I know this is how she grows.

This is how she learns to be a friend.

This is how she learns to function in the world.

So I pray for more joys and highs.

I pray for a good circle of friends.

I pray for her school.

And her teachers.

I pray we have raised her with a moral compass to make good choices.

And if and when bad choices happen, I pray for a spirit of grace and forgiveness.

A chance to point her towards Jesus.

To remind her that we love her no matter what.

To tell her she is beautiful.

And smart.

And kind.

And a good friend.

Every day.

Because sometimes life makes you forget those things.

And junior high is real life.

I'm so excited to see her live it.

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe.

It hasn't been a while since I ate 5 of these for breakfast.

To cope with all my excitement.

Cindy made these for a Hope Church BBQ last month.

And they were gone in 28.7 seconds.

I begged for the recipe and she obliged.

And gave proper credit to Mildred and an old Baptist cookbook.

I feel like I would really like Mildred.

I make a few small revisions.

Real butter instead of margarine.

Fresh squeezed lemon juice for the topping.

I'm into whole foods, you know.

And add a little lemon zest.

Good can be a sin if zest is left out.

Thank you, Jesus.

And Mildred.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Facebook Isn't Enough.

My 20th high school reunion festivities took place this past weekend.

And I think social media made it awkward at first.

Lots of obligatory chit chat about general things we already knew about each other.




Current cities of residence.

Faces I quickly scroll past on a regular basis.

Standing in front of me, in living color.




As the night went on and spilled over to a family gathering the next day, 

I noticed the awkward small talk turn to laughter.

And deep care.

And love for these people that I shared such an important part of my life with.

I think social media is amazing.

I love it for information sharing.

It made so much of our reunion possible.

But I am reminded again of it's downfall.

A quick swipe of my index finger makes me feel caught up.

A comment here and there.

An occasional like.

I feel like a good friend.

But it's a false feeling.

It's not enough.

And requires balance.

It can make us lazy.

And lonely.

We were made for more.

Genuine face to face connections.

Deep conversations.

Real laughing.

Sneaking peeks of the former lineman as he gently tends to his sweet little son.

Talking to a beautiful friend about caring for her aging mother-in-law.

Listening to our super talented class president talk about her perfect job curating an art gallery.

Ugly cry laughing with girlfriends on a couch.

Doing life, even for a short time, with my high school besties as we mother together.

On a blanket in a park.

A park we used to play at when we were children ourselves.

Sharing parenthood war stories.

Wondering why we don't get together more.

Promising to get together more.

Nothing beats it.

So sweet and so rich.

And I feel like we barely had enough time to scratch the surface.

BBQ at my house in two weeks.

I'm serious, you guys.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

But Carol.

Here's the deal.

Starting a church from the ground up is hard.

I knew it would be.

But most of the time I go into preservation mode and pretend it's not.

I don't write about it much because I don't want to sound like I'm complaining.

Because I love our church.

I really do.

I would never want anyone to think otherwise.

But there is not a day that goes by that I do not feel inadequate, weary or fearful.

I'm not doing enough.

I'm doing too much.

I'm exhausted.

I'm not focusing on the right things.

I'm not pointing people to Jesus enough.

I'm not praying enough.

Jesus can't fix them.

Jesus can't fix me.

We will burn out before we have a building.

I married a paramedic.

What are we doing??

This season has been challenging.

Three families left over the course of two months.

One moved out of the area.

Two did not.

The two that did not were part of our core plant team.

And it was hard.

And sad.

And it still stings.

But I am reminded to hold people loosely.

I am reminded that church is not a party and I am not the hostess.

It's not my job to keep everyone happy.

Certain people thrive in different seasons at different places.

And that's ok.

We send them off well and do our best to maintain relationships.

But when people leave those feelings of doubt, inadequacy and discouragement are amplified.

My skin gets thicker.

And I learn.

And while learning hurts.

It is essential for growth.

Dave and I have many late night conversations.

Ministry pep talks, if you will.

I cherish them.

And God is so good.

When I am doubting, Dave is not.

When Dave is doubting, I am not.

Or I pretend I am not.

I'm sure he probably pretends sometimes, too.

We share our fears.

Our dreams.

Our insecurities.

And at that time it's as if God whispers in my ear.

"But Carol."

We first met Carol in a wheelchair and on hospice care.

She was very sick.

Her daughter, Pam and family attend Hope.

Last year, Pam flew across country to remove Carol from an unhealthy living situation in Tennessee.

And brought her home to stay.

And brought her to church.

I remember seeing her wheeled through the door the first time and thinking Dave would have to use more paramedic skills than preaching skills that Sunday.

She was incoherent, in pain and so very frail.

I was worried for her.

But she came every Sunday.

And over the course of months, Carol changed.

She started making eye contact.

Then conversation.

God was healing her.

And saving her.

She is now off hospice and thriving.

And she has been introduced to Jesus.

And two weeks ago she was baptized.

And I am reminded why we do church.

To introduce people to the Man who split time.

To teach His words.

Not to please everyone so they won't leave.

Not to preach politics or advocate family choices or theological positions.

We do church to share Christ.

And to equip others to live in such a way that they can do the same.

We pray, serve and care for people like they will stay forever.

But live in the reality that they could leave tomorrow.

And all the pain and hurt and struggle is so very worth it.

When God removes a heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh.

When a woman once on the brink of death now smiles and calls Jesus her Savior.

So when those doubts creep in and I'm overwhelmed.

I stop talking.

And listen as God whispers.

"But Carol."