As we say good-bye to Homeschooling

Dear Homeschooling,

I remember the dread I would feel, when I first imagined you coming into my home. I had this really limited view of you based on an incorrect stereotype and somehow assumed you’d turn me into someone I wasn’t. So, when you came into my home five years ago, a home with a tiny 6 week old baby and three other little chubby cheeked girls, aging up to five, I had no idea that you’d be both such a blessing and also one of my greatest challenges.

You blessed me with leisurely mornings and long sips of coffee that energized my day. Mornings, in which I wasn’t hurried and so I sat long in my chair with my Bible open, begging the Lord to speak His words into my heart…and He did. As each little messy-haired girl would stumble down the steps, I’d get to talk with them and hold them or make them a “to-order” breakfast, because well, we just weren’t in a hurry.

The field trips you invited were so much fun. As we pretended to be heading off to Europe, eating crepes at a nearby restaurant, you filled my girls with delight for travel and adventure and an interest in the world outside of our little town. You allowed them to experience vintage Doctor’s offices, flower gardens, agriculture, and the joy of hours at play.


You ignited in me a passion for the arts and history, something that this nurse never really experienced. You gave me an appreciation for the daily work that it takes to land at the end of the school-year with children who actually learned something. So, each time, I would sigh in relief and enjoy the summer with a peaceful heart. My husband tells me that I’m so different as a result of these years of hard-work. His smile and tone tell me that this was a welcomed surprise.


But you know, you were also so difficult in some ways. I had no idea that getting bigger kids to do their school-work would be so challenging! I learned negotiation techniques that might qualify me to work for the U.S. Government! And some days, I had to put my foot down in ugly ways that I never wanted. There were mornings that I would wake up and groan, wishing you’d just leave my house so I could get a break. But then, there would be these glimmers of hope, like the friendships we were making or the joy my kids had when they could tarry long on a subject they really enjoyed, and so we marched on. Not always happily, but we marched on.

You built a community around us that I’ll never forget. These other women were in the trenches with me and so our bond just grew. I remember calling my sister so many times in tears, because someone had ruined what was supposed to be a “fun” day. She knew. She always understood. She had invited you into her home as well.

This past year, when my oldest daughter declared her desire to go off to school, I tried my best not to feel offended, like I hadn’t done a good enough job. As much as I wanted to fight back and say, “No! Not yet.” I knew I had to listen, because you taught me that as well. Through these years, God has taught me to be open-handed with my kids and not to plan too far into the future. Through our years together, I’ve learned to cherish my relationship with my kids and listen to their hearts.


So, I have to say, thank you! Thank you for coming into our home and changing me in ways I didn’t know I needed to change. Thank you for showing me that I could teach. Thank you for leisurely mornings and afternoons to read. Thank you for teaching my kids to dream about Asia and Africa or whatever piqued their interest that week.

I’m not sure if we’ll ever invite you back, because we’re excited about this new adventure and fully plan to embrace it. So, I guess I’ll just say, “Good-bye for now, dear friend”.


Posted in Homeschool, Motherhood, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Amazing Grace

Last week, our four year old was taken from our front yard by a mentally unstable man, who had just stabbed one of my neighbors. As you can imagine, moments of sheer terror ensued and a parent’s “worst nightmare” was our reality. Calling your child’s name at the top of your lungs, while simultaneously wanting to drop to the ground because you can barely breathe, is a feeling I’ll never forget. I immediately began thinking that if we didn’t find her quickly, we’d probably never see her again.

In God’s absolute grace, our daughter, Gracie, was quickly brought back to us, physically unharmed. As days have gone by since the incident occurred, however, we are beginning to see the emotional toll this has taken on her and our entire family.

I’ve been asked so many times since the incident, “How are you doing with everything?” and my answer changes continually. Initially, there was just shock; pure and utter disbelief, evidenced by anxious moments that felt as though adrenaline would pour out of every orifice in my body. In those moments, God would remind me of his nearness. Every.single.time. Not for one moment of this ordeal have I felt abandoned by the Lord. These trials he allows in our lives are not always understood, but we can recognize God’s hand in them. Isaiah 26:3-4 says, You will keep in perfect peace him whose heart is steadfast because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the rock eternal! These words are like healing balm to my anxious heart. And I play them like a cd on repeat in my brain, praying for God’s peace when fear wants to claim its space.

Another moment, I feel so sad that such a violation occurred in my own front yard. “Stay close to me, Mommy. I don’t want to get taken again”, I heard the other day as we walked out the front door to ride bikes and scooters in our cul-de-sac; a place we’ve always felt nothing but safe in. My heart broke when she said those words, because now I know that when she steps out the door she’s thinking about him and she’s terrified he will grab her again. As a mother, you want to say, “Don’t worry honey, that won’t happen again.” But you can’t. So, like our friend and counselor guided us, we must not say things that we can’t actually control, so, I tried to hide my tears, then hugged her and said, “Don’t worry honey, Mommy is right here with you.”

I’ve told several friends that I believe that safety is just an illusion. Sure, we can lock our doors and even get a security system so we sleep better at night. But, I truly believe that nothing happens to us that isn’t first, filtered through God hands. Years ago, as my husband and I struggled through a significant diagnosis, we searched the scripture and found Job, who too, was being tested. This past year has been so difficult, I don’t know how else to describe it. At times we want to just blame evil for all of our misfortune, but in reality, God is on his throne giving permission, because we belong to Him. I don’t say those words lightly. I believe that I say them through a heart that has experienced great pain and simultaneous comfort from the Lord.

As I woke this past week aching over the way this has affected our family, Psalm 34:18 began running through my mind. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Isn’t it like the Lord to comfort us with the words our souls most need to hear? I knew in that moment that He was reminding me again of his nearness as I grieve-and it’s ok to grieve. It’s been a hard couple of weeks. I see panic in every one of us if for a split second we can’t find one another-even in our house. My husband and I both admit to how vulnerable and helpless we feel and our children have been piling in the same bed to sleep every night. I have chest pains when I think about what happened and I cry spontaneously. It’s hard. It occupies most of my thoughts and we all are trying to process this trauma.

More than anything though, we feel overwhelmed with God’s graciousness to us.


There’s just no other word that encompasses what happened here.



Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments

Family Responsibilities

This morning, as I walked into my laundry room to grab something out of the dryer, I smiled at the laundry basket sitting, barely full, on the counter. Why, you ask? Well, because of the jobs we’ve instituted over the years in our home to make our lives easier.. I mean, to help our children become more responsible. Yea.. that’s it!

Anyways, it made me think of all the moms out there who are knee deep in sippy cups and potty training, who wonder if there will ever be a day when she gets “caught up”. I don’t know, friend. The truth is, I believe you will feel caught up at some point, but I’m not sure when that is exactly. Maybe when our kids leave our home? For today, my encouragement is that “help is on the way” if you train your kids to be “helpers”.

We instituted jobs in our home that didn’t come with a dollar attached while they were five years old or so; simple tasks, like emptying small bathroom garbage cans or taking down laundry in their bathrooms. We feel like tasking certain jobs in a home are your family responsibility. There are a lot of us here and so it takes a lot of us to make things run smoothly…or at least efficiently.

I feel like my life has changed since doing this! My oldest daughter folds one basket of laundry each day and puts the clothes away. My second oldest unloads the dishwasher every day, which in honor of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that we put two dishwashers into this house when we built it, because I love to cook, and it has been the BEST decision we’ve made! We never have dishes in the sink and I absolutely love that. All we lost was one cabinet and my kitchen got a whole lot cleaner. I’ll take it!! My third child cleans the bathroom that the majority of them use; meaning, she brings dirty clothes to the laundry room and empties the garbage. Three major areas of use are now taken care of, because “we’re a family and so we all help out”.

So, mama of young children, there is light at the end of the oatmeal-faced tunnel. But, don’t be quick to wish these young years away. Kiss those chubby fingers and hold them close. It will be over before you can say, “stop playing in the toilet!”…again!

What kind of jobs do your kids do?? I’d love to hear!


Posted in Homeschool, Motherhood, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Stay on course


As the year quickly rolls to an end, I find myself thinking about these words, “Stay on course”. The idea comes from Paul, whose longing and passion in life was to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, even at his own life’s expense. As he writes the book of Timothy to a dear friend and disciple of his, he shares beautiful life lessons that any follower of Jesus would love to receive from a mentor; a dear soul writing and instructing you on how to handle life’s problems? Yes, please! So often, we feel alone and unsure, don’t we?

I find, as my children get older, I’m on my knees more and more begging God to mold their hearts and call them to Him. Despite my best intentions to teach them, I’m not in charge of the result and so at times, I feel helpless. I know in my head that this will be the biggest trust lesson of my life, but my own heart struggles to let go and just trust Him to take care of the details.

I read Paul’s words towards the end of his crazy, body-beaten, gospel-preaching life and I’m encouraged to stay on course. He speaks to Timothy in what seems to be a reminiscent fashion, similar to what we might do on this very day as the year ends. He says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And his crowns await in glory.

You and I may not be at the end of our lives, but each year, as the calendar page turns and the clock strikes midnight, we are again at a crucial point. How we choose to begin this next year and where we choose to go from here will significantly impact how we finish our race.

I’m a runner and I actually enjoy very long runs of 15+ miles. It’s hard and that’s probably part of what I love about it. I like to challenge myself to do hard things and when I finish, the exhilarating and exhausting feeling fuels me to do it all over again. But sometimes, the hardest part of running, is getting out of bed, lacing up my shoes, and walking out the door. The bed seems cozy. My feet feel tired. I could simply just stay home. But then, I’d never know the feeling of working through mile 8, or mile 14. I’d never have learned how to refuel along the way so that I keep enough energy to stay on my feet. I’d never have experienced the mental battle of running that calls me to just “give up”. As I fight through it, as I stay on course, I get stronger and my confidence grows.

This is what the Christian life is like. Some seasons are filled with disappointment or grief so heavy that you just want to give up. Some seasons are filled with little children, whose sticky hands and inconsolable tantrums leave you fatigued and wanting nothing more than a cozy bed and maybe some clean clothes! Some seasons, you’ll pour out and serve others so faithfully that you look back and realize God was using YOU and it’s good thing that you stayed on course. Sometimes, you’ll tell a person about Jesus and you realize that God used you to change their whole life and perhaps the lives of their entire family. You might feel tired and worn out at times, but if you stay on course, and refuel as necessary, there will be innumerable blessings for you. Our faithful God has promised!

As you finish 2015 and begin the New Year, what is your plan to stay on course?


Posted in Church, Homeschool, Motherhood, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The Most Anticipated Gift

I can still remember my ninth Christmas Eve. It was a cold evening and our whole family gathered around our multi-colored Christmas tree. My Dad held a special gift for each one of my sisters and I, but before he would give it to us, he wanted to say a few words. We sat, barely able to think about anything else. What was this special gift? We could hardly wait! My Dad began by thanking us for being a part of a special ministry that he had been called to that year. Because he just “could not have done it without us”, he handed each wide-eyed one of us a crisp $20 bill. It was more than our little hands had ever held at one time! What a gift!

I imagine that our anticipation paled in comparison to how the Israelites felt when they heard the news that a baby was going to be born in Israel; a baby, who would come to earth as God himself. Life as an Israelite had carried severe disappointment. Constant disobedience and discipline had permeated generations of families. Wars were fought. Kingdoms had fallen. Many had died. Why would God give such a wonderful gift to Israel? It was not because they deserved it; but was rather, a gift of divine grace from a Father to His children.

So, who was this child who would be named after the Father God? Isaiah prophesied that he would be called, “Mighty God”, a declaration to the whole world that Jesus was in fact, God. His authority wasn’t to be questioned; his power unparalleled. This Jesus was a personal gift, not only to Israel, but also to the entire world! He would be “God with us”.

He would turn water to wine, heal the lame, calm the sea, and bring the dead back to life. He would speak healing and turn lives upside down. Even demons would recognize him and flee. He was mighty and powerful and deserving of such an important name, but he was also personal. He could look into the hearts and souls of those most in need of him and forgive with Father-like grace. When a woman caught in adultery stood before him, he showed her grace, while instructing her to live in truth. He wept with his friends when they grieved the loss of their brother, and yet moments later, brought that dead man back to life. Mighty God. His words would provide comfort and peace to those searching for him, but stir up anger in those who thought they had no need for him. He would spend his time on earth teaching a rag-tag group of men to carry on his mission, and eventually, he would die a miserable death on the cross of Calvary. Because while he was indeed our “Mighty God”, Jesus was also unwavering in his obedience to his Father, so that you and I might experience the greatest gift: the grace and forgiveness of Almighty God.

Have you received God’s gift, Jesus, as your Savior?

Posted in Church, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged | Leave a comment


Just before Thanksgiving, I came down with what the Dr. told me was the flu. Very quickly, I was fatigued, feverish, had excruciating headaches, and a chest cold that kept me coughing all day and all night. It was miserable.

Fast forward two weeks and I was still in bad shape, only now, it had turned into a bacterial infection-Bronchitis. I was still in bed most of the time and growing more weary by the day. As I lay in bed, my thoughts swirled from asking the Lord if I had unrepentant sin that I needed to take care of and if this was some kind of curse…I’m dramatic like that. Or, if this was indeed some kind of blessing to look at in a “different” kind of way.

Each morning, my sweet four-year old would come in and pat me. My voice long gone, I would just try to whisper a morning hello amidst the shooting pain in my head and neck. “Here we go again”, I would think. “Another day of misery.” One afternoon she said to me, “I wish you would just talk to me like you used to…like normally.” Ugh! Talk about a heartbreak!

One night, as I coughed myself awake, I lay thinking about my condition and again asked the Lord, if there was something I was not dealing with and why I was still so sick! I was beginning to feel bitter about missing the holiday with our family, not being able to talk to my kids and my husband, slacking on my jobs at home, and just feeling like a burden instead of a blessing. I felt the Lord impress this word on my heart: “Selah.”

It felt profound at the moment, but not enough to get my sick body out of bed. Enough however, to think about the times I had read “Selah” in a Psalm. It was often a place to pause, or a shift in thinking from what the Psalmist initially thought, beginning often in a place of defeat, they would move to a place of victory and trust in what God was doing.

Selah…a shift in my way of thinking.

It had my attention.

When I had the strength to do so, I began reading a little bit about Selah. It’s so interesting that I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

If you just look at this one Psalm, an absolute favorite of mine, in chapter 3, you’ll see some really interesting turns in David’s thinking.

O Lord, how many are my foes!
    Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
    there is no salvation for him in God. Selah[a]

David had obviously grown weary and felt like everyone was against him. We often feel that way, don’t we? Life situation, sickness, relationships, and even busyness can bring us to a point of feeling like the “world is against us”. He stops there to pause. We do too at times, but I gather from David that we shouldn’t stay camped out there for too long or we may begin to grow bitter.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
    my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah

Feeling like the masses are rising against him, David proclaims his need and how he too, has to call out to the Lord for help. This has been me, so many times. How do I make it without the Lord? I just don’t; I don’t know how anyone does. David knows where to turn for the “shield about him”-his protection. And he recognizes that it’s the Lord, who is the lifter of his downturned head. Oh, if we would all turn to the Lord in our deepest need…and pause there, reflecting on who God is and how He meets us in that dark place. David confirms what I know to be true: the Lord answers us when we cry out to Him.

I lay down and slept;
    I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
    who have set themselves against me all around.

Here we see that after the pause, David was able to rest again. Because the Lord. The Lord gave him the peace to lay down his head and actually fall asleep. I wonder how often we lose sleep, or lose hope, or grow anxious because we don’t turn to the One who can really sustain us through the trial? And if we had, how much more hopeful we would walk through it.

Arise, O Lord!
    Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
    you break the teeth of the wicked.

Salvation belongs to the Lord;
    your blessing be on your people! Selah

David’s heart changed dramatically through the course of these eight verses. From, “everyone wants to kill me” to “Your blessing be on your people!”. David knew that any salvation he would receive from his trial was going to come through the Lord. Then, he paused again to ponder that truth.

I don’t know about you, but that’s transformational for me! I needed this pause; this time to just refocus, apparently, at the busiest time of the year. I didn’t want it, but God chose it for me.

As I lay in bed tonight, I will recount my many blessings just over the course of these past two and a half weeks, where friends have watched my children and entertained them so that I could rest. I even had one homeschooling mom offer to come teach my kids! I’ve had friends bring their diffusers and cover me in oils that allowed me to endure the night and breathe! We’ve had meals every time we needed one, and my husband has served me beautifully and even decorated our house for Christmas! I called him my “Christmas Elf” as more décor kept appearing.

So, a curse? No. This Selah, was for me, one of the greatest Christmas blessings I could have received. Now, that’s a shift in thinking!

Have you ever had a “Selah”? What has God shown you?

Posted in Church, Homeschool, Motherhood, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Unsettling times

This past week has been unsettling with the terrorist attacks in Paris and Lebanon. Syrian refugees attempt to flee their land and we are all left wondering what to do. Fights break out on social media over how we care for them and ongoing political differences divide us. And let’s not even bring up the silly red cups again. Our world feels chaotic. We wonder who to blame. And all the while, holidays are on the horizon, and our hearts feel far from “peace on earth”.

This caused me to spend some time in scripture looking for answers. I knew what I’d find. I’ve done this before. But, nonetheless, I had to go through the motions again so that my heart could catch up.

These unsettling times are nothing new. Israel began seeing their share of terror when they were no longer satiated by the Lord. When they desired a human king “like the other nations”, they showed their true allegiance. God told them they didn’t need anyone else, but gave into their desire. Sometimes, he gives us what we want to show us our need for him. It didn’t bode well for Israel.

As they continued to show their true allegiance, God warned Israel repeatedly with prophets who could, at times, barely utter the warnings from him. “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities (sin) have risen higher than our heads… Ezra 9:6   Still, God forgave his people over and over again, when they turned from their sin and turned back to him.

As I think about these times that we are in, I am convinced that sin and evil reign in this world and we are in desperate need of repentance. We live in such a grace-filled, let it all-hang-out-time period, that I’m afraid we are “light” on our sin without truly understanding the weight of it. I wonder the last time, that we as Christians uttered anything close to the prayer of Ezra, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush my face to you..”. Or do we just mourn each time another tragedy happens, but quickly go about our days with little to no care for our choices or that thousands upon thousands of people are dying in theirs?

O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in time of trouble. Psalm 33:1

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When we are one

“…That they may become perfectly one”..

As I read John 17, I was struck by how many times Jesus referenced our “oneness” with he and the Father God. I actually went back and counted, because if I have learned one thing from Bible study classes, it’s that you should take note of repetition. Five times Jesus pleaded for our oneness!

“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

Jesus went on to ask that not only the disciples, who he had spent so much time with, would be one with he and God, but also all of us “who will believe in me through their word” would be one. That’s us! His reasoning? That the world would believe God sent Jesus to this world, through our display of unity.

I had to stop for a minute and let those words soak in.

If you’ve ever experienced unity with other believers (or anything remotely like unity) then you know what a gift and joy it is. Meals, prayers, worship together, carrying burdens, sharing truth, celebrations, and sorrow are all part of how we unite in Christ. I’ve experienced every one of these at different times, but to realize that Jesus prayed for them on our behalf stirs something inside of me.

When Jesus talks of his unity with the Father, we can often nod our heads and agree, that of course they had it, but what about us? His example was supposed to be the norm among genuine believers in Jesus. Our togetherness and love for one another should scream to the world, that we are God’s children and that it’s so great, you’d want it too.

Fighting, divisions, and hatred have no place here.

Our mission to connect people to Jesus for life change should be like an artery running through each one of us. Our prayers for one another should mimic Jesus’ prayer that we be held in “safe-keeping and away from the evil one”. When was the last time you prayed those kind of words for your family or friends?

Lord, unify us today. We are your people and we desire to spread your glory to the nations by standing together in unity. Thank you for surrounding us with people who have experienced your good gifts and because of it, can’t wait to share them with others.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I was lied to last night.

I was lied to last night.

I fell deep into the flowing words, captivated by how they confirmed what hid deep in the crevices of my heart. As they went on, I sunk deeper and deeper, falling into moments of despair and even moments of anger.

The details of what I was being lied to about aren’t even the important part. Probably what’s more important is recognizing that we are all at times, the prey.

I was the prey last night.

As the Bible describes Satan, the enemy of God, he is described with words like, “a lion, who prowls around seeking whom he may devour”, or as an “angel of light” who deceives. John 8 tells us that he’s been a murderer from the beginning and he is a liar, speaking his native language.

I have to believe that he also speaks our native language, because truthfully, I heard him loud and clear last night, with so many bits of truth and so many twists on that truth.

As the night went on, alone in my bed, without even the possibility of going to sleep any time soon, I realized how the Enemy likes to attack: when we are alone.

It felt as though I was being pummeled as item after item was brought up, on what apparently was the “hidden thoughts of my mind” kind of list.

Every fear, every disappointment, and even, every insecurity, seemed to hit me in the face and I was shaken.

I wish I could tell you that I quickly began saying scripture to combat these lies. I wish I could tell you that as I prayed, the lies disappeared, but they did not.

I began to question the Lord about these struggles. Why would he allow ______? Why when we __________, would he allow this?

I’m thankful that he’s not afraid of my questions. Instead, he lovingly directs me.

After what seemed like hours, I finally fell asleep, only to waken with a raw heart and a tired mind.

It was time to get up for church. I began getting ready and more lies began to pour in.

This was an all out battle. I wanted to cry and tell my husband, but as a pastor’s wife, I’ve learned that timing is key. And just before my husband was about to preach a powerful message in a new series, wasn’t the time to “unload”. This one was simply mine and the Lord’s to work out.

As I packed my children into the car to head to church, I began what has become an every week routine. I prayed, out loud for them, for me, for our church, and for my husband. Today, I just kept on praying and God began to heal my heart of the wounds of last night. I couldn’t wait to arrive at my church so that I could sit in the service and hear worship songs filled with all kinds of God’s truth. My heart needed it more than ever.

The band began to play and word after word that they sang felt like healing salve.

Holy, holy, holy, though the darkness hide thee….

At your name, the morning breaks in glory….

It was as if they knew the night I had just had and how very much I longed to see the sun.

Over and over God’s truth was shared through my church family and our worship team. As they opened their mouths proclaiming this truth, I felt the Lord remind me of his love for me. He has not forgotten. He hasn’t missed a thing. All of this is part of his plan.

Sometimes, we just really need to be reminded. As my husband got up to preach, God spoke through him as well. I’m so thankful that hard truth-but real truth- is always taught at Southbridge Fellowship. Oh what a gift it is!!

Tonight, I still feel a little raw, but thought I would share this very personal experience with you, because I know that I’m not alone in hearing lies. The Enemy so badly wants to discourage us and make us feel helplessly alone. I realized how very important it is to cling to the truth, especially when you’ve been lied to.

Posted in Church, Motherhood, Women | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Dear Future Husbands, You’re Welcome!!

As most of you know, I am the mom to four little girls. One day, I hope they have the privilege of becoming a wife, because being a wife, has been such a gift to me. I know God has different plans for each of us, but I plan in this way as I disciple my girls.

In the early years of our marriage, there were days where I had worked a long 12-13 hour shift as a nurse and I would come home to my husband, who was in Seminary at the time, hoping that he had made some delicious meal akin to what he made a time or two while we were dating. When I walked in the door, instead of leading me to the table where a hot meal awaited me, he looked at me and said, “So, what’s for dinner?”

He’s lucky I’m sweet….Ohhh, except for when I’m hungry!

“What’s for dinner? Are you kidding me?”

Enter the “expectations talk” and some ordering of pizza so we don’t kill each other.

For anyone wondering, we worked it out. We didn’t starve and he did end up making some meals. But, I also cooked sometimes after a long shift. We compromised. Isn’t that what every good marriage is made of??

Fast-forward about 13 years. We have four daughters, all of which I hope will know how to care for herself, her roommates, and if God chooses, her future husband and children. But, girls don’t just KNOW how to cook! They have to be taught, or at least exposed. We all start somewhere. I was not a good cook when we got married. Sure, I could make spaghetti out of a jar and lazy-day cookies, because they were my Dad’s favorite cookie, but if you were to ask my husband, he’d tell you the story of my first “steaks”. I use quotations because they were so awful and were more like mystery meat that I inexpensively bought and abused by over-cooking!

Years later, when I began staying home with our first daughter, I realized how much time I had on my hands each day. I was bored at times since we had moved to a new town, and I was used to the fast-paced life of Nursing. But, there I was with a little pink bundle and the Food Network. Praise the Lord for Paula Deen, Giada, and Ina. They were my food mentors! I read recipe after recipe and I cooked like a mad-fool, trying them out on everyone I met. I think both my husband and I gained like 10 pounds that year! These cooking lessons have come in handy as a pastor’s wife. We love to have people in our home and I enjoy cooking (most of the time) even when it’s just our family.

So, I got thinking… I really want my girls to have several go-to recipes that they can make for themselves by the time they leave our home. We’ll be intentional about this. We’ll prepare, plan, and by-gosh we’ll cook!! They WILL know how to care for themselves and perhaps even a table-full!

So here are a few recipes that will make our list:

The best ever homemade pancakes!! I posted these years ago, but they are so good and so comforting. Add blueberries or peaches, a great Maple syrup and voila! Breakfast is served!! Oh, and you may want to add a side of eggs to reduce the sugar coma.

Egg casserole: You can make these a million ways, throw in what you like and pop them in the freezer for another day. I often have one or two in my freezer for busy weeks, which helps so much! Dice it up and throw into a warm tortilla with cheese for mornings on the go.

A fantastic salad: How could I ever choose just one??! When my husband and I first got married, he didn’t think that salad qualified as a complete meal, but throw on some meat and you may win over even the most sincere carnivore!!

I’ve found that a simple salad with cranberries, feta cheese and pecans can be a perfect side dish, but add chicken or grilled salmon and you’ve got yourself a meal. If you’ve never tried roasted sweet potatoes on a salad, I highly recommend that in the Fall. Try this one and you won’t be disappointed! P.S. check out the Cafe Sucre Farine! Chris has the best recipes and a beautiful website. I keep large bags of dried cranberries in my pantry and some sort of nut in my freezer almost all of the time. If you use little bits of these items over and over, you’ll stretch your grocery budget!

Here are a few other salads we love:

Southwest Quinoa Salad-I can’t even begin to tell you about my love for quinoa. It’s gluten free, really good for you, and super tasty when done right!!

Cold Greek Quinoa Salad-Greek? Yes!!!

The best ever party dip! Ok, that may not be true, but based on the speed with which this dip always gets eaten and its versatility of add-ins, I’m going to strongly recommend that my statement is true. (Ahem… Andy Moore!) My friend, Jessica Nielson gave me this recipe while we lived in Dallas and I’ve been making it ever since.

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 (8oz) softened block of cream cheese

1-2 chopped cloves of garlic

1 tsp dill (I keep “instantly fresh” jars in my refrigerator for when I don’t have fresh herbs)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and add to an 8×8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees, for 35-40 minutes or until the top is bubbly and turning brown. Serve warm with pita chips or your favorite cracker-don’t ruin it with carrots. This dip is perfect for throwing parties and completely delicious with chopped artichoke hearts, cooked bacon, cooked diced shrimp, scallions, or even crab! Use any combination you like!

Lastly, I’ll share my homemade spaghetti sauce recipe with you. I came up with this one on a cold day that had me craving dinner to be made by a round, old, Italian woman. She just wasn’t to be found, so I had to do! There are thousands of versions of spaghetti sauce, but I really do love this one and sometimes eat it cold, just because it’s so tasty! If you’re making this for young children, just know that it’s a little bit spicy.

1 lb hot Italian sausage (You can tone down the spice by using “sweet” Italian sausage instead)

1 lb ground beef

1 diced medium onion

1 diced red pepper

3 cloves crushed garlic

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes

2-3 Tbsp sugar (I like it sweeter)

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp Italian spices

2 Tbsp chopped basil

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Brown meat (and break into pieces) over medium heat in a Dutch oven or deep sauce pan. Add diced onion and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and try not to fall over from how good it smells! After about 1 minute, add in tomato paste and stir. Add in cans of crushed tomatoes, then sugar, parmesan, and spices. Stir well. After a minute, add salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, (but don’t boil) for 2 hours, stirring at least every 20-30 minutes. At this point, you are beginning to channel your inner Italian and your kitchen should smell amazing! Don’t rush the process. Use the whole 2 hours to develop the flavors of the spices and tomatoes. Sauce will begin to thicken-add water if needed.

Serve warm over pasta or meatballs. Makes for a great sauce for meatball sandwiches or lasagna as well. You’ll have leftovers unless you’re feeding 10 people. Throw it in the freezer for another day.

So, there you have it! These are just a few of our tried and true recipes that I will require highly suggest that my girls know before leaving our house. So dear future husbands, treat my girls well and they will take such great care of you!!! You’re welcome!!!

Posted in Motherhood, Women | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments