Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Sisterhood of Motherhood

Never in my life have I felt more connected to other women than I do right now.  I'm not a trusting person, nor do I feel especially extroverted.  But right now, I feel like I am surrounded by strong arms and true hearts that help me each day to bear the load I've been given.  They know me well and love me well.  They get it.

Within hours of my last post, three women had volunteered to take my children.  Two offered to bring me food so I didn't have to smell it cooking, and one called to set a playdate with my children this week so I could catch some extra sleep.  Am I blessed or what?  There is no way my morning sickness could tempt me to feel hopeless when I'm surrounded by so much grace and selfless love.

For those of you who were wondering, I am feeling much better!  I've gotten on a cycle of snacking, drinking water, and eating protein that seems to keep the morning sickness at bay.  The hardest part is that I normally don't worry much about feeding myself or making sure I rest so I'm retraining my mind to take care of my body and the little life that it carries.  Plus, I know right off the top of my head four women who are lifting me up to the throne of grace.  They're carrying me right now so I can carry my child and love my other children.

I've heard this from other people, but this season of mothering little children brings us moms together.  Our walls are torn down as we admit to shower-less days, sleepless nights, and incessant crying (ours and our children's).  The pretense of "having it all together" just can't exist.  There's just no way to pull that off when one child is screaming, another is running away, and there's a smell coming from somewhere.  And without walls, there is nothing to do but love one another for the broken but healing women we are.

And in this season of intensive care, I am grateful to be surrounded by so many moms that I admire.  For the way they handle adversity.  For the way the love their children unconditionally.  For the creativity the use in training their children.  For the grace that they give freely.

So today I'm thankful for my sisters in Christ and in motherhood.  Your lives are an encouragement.  Your prayers strengthen me.  Your words bless my heart.  And your selfless acts of love toward my family give me a glimpse of the Body of Christ at its best. Thank you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Priorities for Pregnancy

This pregnancy has been completely different from my others in that ... da da da daaaaa!!!  I have morning sickness.  All day long.  Coffee is no longer my friend (insert huge groan here).  It's been fairly mild, but I have to eat and drink religiously to keep from feeling yucky.  To all of you that have had morning sickness, I am so sorry I've never been more sympathetic.  You have my deepest apologies.  I'll try to be a better friend in your next pregnancy.

I'm also getting reacquainted with my pregnancy friend exhaustion.  I know it's just a first trimester thing.  This too shall pass, but it requires me to ask for more help than I like.  Like any help.  This is why when my husband returned home from a long day of work, he couldn't find me.  I was asleep in bed with Caleb, napping away.  There was no dinner prepared because I could not stand the thought of smelling food or the idea of heating up the house by turning on the stove.  The cleaning chores weren't done because instead of having family clean-up time this morning, I threw the boys in the van so I could get a polar pop. (This was a need, not a want.)  After picking up said pop, the thought of unloading them from the van and reloading them a half hour later so we could go to Ben's therapy appointment was so overwhelming that we just drove the neighborhood, watched the construction on campus, and read books in the car until it was time to go.  I'm sure the neighbors think there's a stalker driving a minivan.  Nope, just me.

So there I was in a wrinkled mess last night when Teacher Man came home.  So what did he do?  He took care of Ben.  He helped me get both kiddos ready to go last night.  He didn't say anything about the dishes in the sink or the crumbs on the table.  And so far today, he's vacuumed the house, done the dishes, and helped me corral the kids so we could be ready for company tonight.  These are all things my non-pregnant self would proudly do all by herself, but maybe that's why God uses pregnancy (and our children) to humble us.  To remind us that we can do nothing in our own strength.  To help us see what really matters.  To highlight those people in our lives who truly love us enough to lay down their time and energy to serve us when we're wiped.

And though I make it a priority to have a clean home on a normal day, I think pregnancy is a great time to remember that life's about the people.  It's about the ones around you and the one growing inside of you.  The house will get messy again tomorrow.  No one will get cholera if the bathrooms aren't cleaned today.  No one will die of starvation if we have a cold supper.  But little hearts (and big ones) will bruise if I can't remember that the priority is people and not perfection because I have a choice.  I can lay down my expectations and adjust my priorities, or I can drag my family through 8 more months of "Life with Crabby Mom."  And I'm pretty sure I know which one they want me to choose.

So some new priorities:
1. Keep healthy foods that can be put together for a cold supper without strong smells.
2. Keep 7-up in the fridge.  Avoid a polar pop emergency.
3. Get lots of fresh air.
4. Eat every two hours.
5. Nurture souls.
6. When spare time and energy allows, dig out house.

With that said, I need to go refill my 7-up and get a snack.  Important stuff.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Yesterday was chaos for my little family.  It was Laundry Day.  Both boys were up early.  Teacher Man was sick.  The house looked like elephants with sticky fingers had enjoyed a weekend-long playdate.  Probably not the best time to try to wean myself off of my allergy medicine, but try I did.

There was also a lot of crying.  Crying because it's never fun to be put in time-out.  Crying because when older brother gets a toy and then shows off, there really is nothing to do but cry.  Crying because you don't want to take turns on the swing.  Crying because you don't want to go inside.  I wiped a lot of noses and tears, and then I wiped my allergy-riddled nose; and then I made a decision.

Some days it's about survival, not victory laps.  It's about taking that allergy pill because you can no longer breathe. It's about letting the boys watch "Thomas" and washing all the dishes that had piled up in my kitchen.  It's about giving in when they beg for "Dinosaur Train" and scrubbing both bathrooms.  It's about hiding in their tunnel hideout and being silly.  It's about reading from the daily Bible story book at every meal because it's what your one year old wants.  It's about reading way more than two bedtime stories because you just know they need a little more positive attention.  It's about snuggling under the covers with that first boy that God gave you and reading until you can tell his eyes are heavy.  Giving them that extra love because some days are just hard.

Yesterday wasn't the norm, but is there really a normal day anymore?  Although I love my schedules and routines, much more of motherhood is about doing what is right for my family's health and character above doing what I want to do or what I think my boys should do, scrapping that plan to play outside and just taking the morning to let them rest.  I also gave myself a break from schedules last night and fell into bed at 8:30 with a plan to read, only to find that the first sentence was not gripping enough to warrant spending energy on holding the book open.

Do I have plans for this day?  Absolutely.  My type-A personality has today's meals mapped out.  My schedule-oriented self has a few jobs to do today since it's Office Day (meal planning, bill paying, Town Day-preparing).  But these are my plans, and I know full well that "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  (Proverbs 16:9)

So here's to listening to my children and doing what is best for our family.  Here's to splurging my attention on the blessings God has given me. Here's to having a plan and chucking it out the window.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Caleb: On How God Chooses the Gender of Your Child

Caleb: It's going to be a brother.
Krista: Well, it could be.  It could also be a sister, which would be great too.
Caleb: No, Momma, God has lots of boys up there.  He's going to put one of them in your belly.
Krista: Okay then.

Since this conversation, Caleb has announced to his Sunday School teacher that I am pregnant with a sister whom we will call Emily (after his favorite female train on Thomas and Friends).  I'm hoping this means that he's excited about either possibility.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Three year olds are great...

No joke.  Three year olds are the best!  They sometimes also make big announcements unnecessary by making them for you.  Caleb decided that today was the day, and we are so excited to share with you that...

Caleb has also decided that this baby is a girl and her name will be Emily.  Glad he's willing to make those big choices for us!  We'll see how good his prediction skills are.

Regardless of gender, we're so excited!  I can't believe I have the privilege of carrying another life and raising another soul.  We thank God for that awesome privilege.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Doing Summer... On a Budget

I'm a tightwad.  You've probably already picked up on that if you've read this blog for any period of time.  We make gifts for our loved ones to save money at Christmas.  We pack picnics when we'll be on the road at lunchtime to save money on fast food.  My husband and I run on the streets so that we don't spend money on gym fees, and Teacher Man bikes to work most of the time to save money on car upkeep and gasoline.

When summertime comes, I have just as much desire to board a plane and head south of the border as the next guy.  Probably more.  Some of my dearest friends live in Argentina.  Sign me up for the next flight, will you?  And do me the courtesy of paying for it too, alright?  I'd love to rent a cabin for a week and just chill out in the mountains.  Wouldn't you?

However, right now, I feel like we're in the best time of our life to save and in the worst time ever to travel.  I have two children under the age of four.  A long-distance trip is grueling for them; and, even when we get there, my children will be happiest if we respect their schedule which means HOURS spent waiting for our children to nap in a hotel room.  It could be a long wait too since they love nothing more than to crack each other up when they should be sleeping.

So here are my cheap solutions to making summer memorable and enjoyable without making it stressful, chaotic, and expensive.

1. This idea started last summer.  When the stores put all their summer toys on clearance, go nuts.  Fill up your cart and spend about $10 total.  They have to get rid of their summer inventory, but you're being smart and getting ready for next summer.  Right now, I have a huge box full of surprises for my children: a new pool, a slip 'n slide, a bubble gun, etc.  If I pull one out every week or so, my kids will have a blast in our backyard all summer long.

2. Two words: day trips.  We'll do a day at the children's museum, a day at the zoo, and a Day Out with Thomas; but we'll still be home for naps (or they'll nap in the car).  These have an intimidating up-front cost for those of us (a.k.a. me) who don't like to drop large sums of money at a time, but I remind myself that this is our vacation.  Because of the ages and stages of our guys, we'll probably invest in a family pass to the zoo so we can enjoy it several times this year.  Even three visits more than pays for the cost of the pass.  We also pack lunches which is better for us anyways because we have a picky eater in the family.

3. Our community is full of free programs.  The local Cradle School does a field trip every week to a different place in the community (the recycling center, the park, the library).  All of these trips are free, and if you attend two trips you receive a free pass to the zoo at the end of the summer.  The local library also runs an excellent reading program full of story times, activities, and even prizes that help parents out (free meals at local restaurants).  We're going to read anyways.  Might as well enjoy the bonuses.

4. We'll be at our local park... a lot.  We're blessed to have a park with a great little ones playground as well as a fun petting zoo.  Even if we picnic at the park only once a week, I have happier, more tired children, which makes for a happier mom as they sleep soundly during naps.  Plus, my children have learned a ton about animals, nature, and conflict resolution from just an hour at the park.

5. We're also one of those crazy families that camp in the living room.  On hot nights, we camp out in our family room in the A/C.  We read stories, eat popcorn, and tuck our kids into their beds in a three-man tent.  They sleep with a lantern as a night light, and then they talk about it for weeks.  It costs us nothing but our family room.  Teacher Man and I can then have a movie night in our room and know that our boys are having the time of their lives roughing it in the safety of our home.

6. We also camp in the great outdoors.  Camping sites at state parks are incredibly affordable.  We're blessed to have amazing friends who camp with us.  Between their help and a ton of gear, we have a blast camping with the kids.  They love walking out the door of the tent and investigating nature.  They love eating their Cheerios under centuries-old oak trees.  They love exploring the trails and doing homemade scavenger hunts.  And they love giggling in the tent because they think we can't hear them just because the tent door is zipped shut.

All this said, my family also works in ministry all summer.  We work for our local chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship, reaching children in our county with Gospel through 5 Day Clubs (week-long backyard Bible clubs); but we still make the most of the fact that Teacher Man is home a lot more, and we intentionally plan these special family times so that we don't just get through our life... we live our life.  All of it.

Maybe when the kids get older we'll more seriously consider big vacation trips, or maybe we'll have discovered that best vacations happen just because we're all together.  I don't know, but we'll find out another summer.  For this summer, we'll be stay-cationing.  Come on over and join us!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Choosing to Be Home

I'm not going to lie.  It's tempting.  In the last month, I've had two different jobs presented to me.  Both would be part-time, doing things I would LOVE to do, and making a little extra money.  Not to mention, letting someone else change the diapers, referee the disagreements, and clean the bibs a couple days a week would really be nice.

There are families out there who can do this so well.  Their kids respond well to someone else's authority and transition back to being with Mom and Dad seamlessly.  Parents that have found these family partners to help them raise their children are blessed indeed, especially when there is a need for both parents to work outside the home.

Here's where I struggle.  I don't think I could give up prime time. At least one of the jobs required hours from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. when my children are the most rested and insanely curious.  Right now, my big boy is out in the sandbox excavating for a new sand city.  My little boy is looking through all the books on a shelf and pointing out all the things that he recognizes.  Today prime time is pretty peaceful, but many days these are the hours when character is shaped and lines are drawn in the sand.  This is the time when conflict resolution must be taught, when grace must be given, when memories are being made in our family.  This is the time when I can see that my sons are being raised into men.  I'm not simply tolerating my children in my home.  I'm having the invaluable opportunity to shape who they will become as adults.

As a list gal, it would be awesome to go to an adult atmosphere for a few hours a week and just get things done.  As silly as it sounds, I would happy to file papers for a couple of hours, manage tasks, and actually finish something; but if I leave my post right now for any reason other than financial necessity, I know I'll be allowing someone else to raise my boys.  Maybe they would do a better job.  Maybe they wouldn't be impatient or sleepy.  Maybe they would have fun new ideas for every day.  Maybe they would speak the grace speech I lack.  But I can't escape the reality that the Lord has place these children in this home with these parents for this season.  Intentionally.  Completely intentionally.  So how can I invest less in them?  And if we have food and clothing, how can we be discontent?

This is a season where the days are long but the years are short.  So I'm making this choice once again: to raise my kids, to stay home not just physically but mentally, to not find my satisfaction in checking off a list or in receiving a paycheck, to see the incredible worth in these blessings the Lord has given me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Things Our Grandmothers Knew

So I've been reading a book.  Yes, another one. this book
, written by a mom with nine children, is about how and what she learned the hard way about running a house and getting it all done.  I figure if she can do it with nine, I can do it with two.  Man, is this woman intentional!  While many of her ideas on home management are new to me, I keep finding myself thinking, this sounds so familiar, like something out of a history book.  You know why?  Because one hundred years ago, when our culture intentionally trained women to be homemakers, mothers passed these tried and true systems to their daughters as a part of their educational training.  It was normal.  It's a part of our history that should be a part of our present.

Just as a disclaimer: I don't think every woman needs to be a full-time homemaker, nor do I believe that a woman's training should be centered on cooking and cleaning and raising children.  Part of me just wonders if our culture has become so focused on college-prep that we don't take time to teach the home management skills that our grandmothers perfected.  I'm not judging my mom either.  I'm incredibly grateful for her graduate degree and how it enabled her to be the teacher that my sister and I needed as we each pursued careers that required college degrees.  She also is one of the best cooks I know.  Seriously.  The woman made over 120 dozen cookies for my wedding.  Take that, Martha!  I will also say that she tried to teach us many homemaking skills, but my limited vision didn't really see the point.  I was going to college, after all.

So here I am, twenty-eight years old, learning a lot about how to successfully manage a home so that my children and my husband get the maximum amount of my attention and my home remains clean and healthy.  I wish I had listened to my mom.  It has not been fun to learn most of these skills in the trenches with a crying baby on my hip.  On the other hand, I have a friend who embraced skills education through 4H when she was in jr. high and high school.  She cooked, she sewed, she gardened; and now she is one of the most amazing, creative homemakers I know!  Why?  Because at dinner time, she's not just figuring out what the terms in the cookbooks mean.  She's not spending precious time learning how to use a sewing machine.  She already knows and can cook me into the ground and sew cute presents and knit to beat the band.  Sigh.

I guess what I am saying is that we pour a lot of time into prepping our daughters (and our sons, for that matter) for college, but sometimes we forget about preparing for the life after college.  You know, that life that will no longer prepare meals for us at the swipe of an ID card.  That life that will not clean up after us when we make a mess in the student center.  That life that becomes incredibly real when the pregnancy test shows TWO blue lines.  You know what I'm talking about.

I have time to reflect on all this because this is the longest gap we have ever had in our married lives when I haven't been pregnant or nursing.  And I'm grateful.  So grateful that the Lord has given me this season to reflect on areas where I need to learn and to be intentional about teaching myself the skills that will make my home a more joyful place.

So here's the system the author of this book suggests to moms for getting it all done without being done in.  I've been using this system for two weeks, and LOVE it!  It's kept me busy when I should be busy and has given me DAYS of sweet rest with my family.  I love when Teacher Man asks me what I need to get done in the evening and I can honestly say, "Nothing."  Well, nothing but a little West Wing.

1. Assign each day of the week with a title: Laundry Day, Kitchen Day, Office Day, Town Day, Clean-up Day, Outside Day, and Day of Rest.  These can be in almost any order, but Town Day MUST follow Office Day, and I like my Day of Rest to fall on Sunday when Teacher Man will be home.

Right now, here's how my week looks:
Monday: Laundry Day
Tuesday: Office Day
Wednesday: Town Day
Thursday: Kitchen Day
Friday: Clean-up Day
Saturday: Outside Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

2. Do the tasks for that day and know that the rest have their own proper day so don't worry about those tasks.  If you'll be gone all of one day, most of the tasks can probably be skipped for a week.  Also, laundry is ongoing (1 load a day) even though the bulk gets done on Laundry Day.

I'm a girl who can get distracted.  If I'm focusing on just getting one thing done for the day, it might actually get done amidst the dirty diapers, incoming phone calls, and visitors that are just a part of our daily life.

Today is Monday.  That means I'll be focused on my laundry, ironing, and maybe even some mending today.  My goal will be to get all the clothes, sheets, and towels washed, dried, and put away by the time Teacher Man comes home this evening.  This is my favorite day because here in the good ol' U. S. of A. we have gigantic washers and dryers that do the vast majoring of the work for us.  No more washing two towels at a time.  The hardest part for me is the set timers so I can remind myself to switch loads as soon as they're done so that most of the loads are done drying by naptime.  I normally have a folding party in my family while watching something I enjoy during the boys' naps.

Tomorrow will be Office Day.  That lovely day when I get to pay all the bills, update the money software with all of our most recent spending, answer letters, make phone calls, plan my menu and shopping list for the next two weeks, and also figure out where we'll be going on Town Day.  I can normally do all this in the two hours I have while my kiddos sleep which means that Office Day is also a day when it's easy to spend the vast majority of the day with friends.

Town Day is not stressful if I've done my work on Office Day.  My checks are signed and ready for depositing at the bank, the library books are gathered and ready for return, the shopping lists are made and coupons gathered, and the dry cleaning in already in the car.  We can normally finish all the Town Day errands in a couple of hours, and it feels SO GOOD to have all of those little tasks taken care of at once so we're not wasting time going back to the store three times a week.  However, I live super close to the grocery store; and, yes, I still run over occasionally.  The bulk of my shopping gets done on Town Day though.

Kitchen Day is when the fridge loses all of its rotting veggies or unidentifiable leftovers.  It's the day that I bake with the kiddos and make freezer meals if I need to.  It's also the day that my kitchen floor gets a good scrub down.  How does it get so nasty in there so quickly?  Also, on kitchen day, I attack one drawer or cabinet and wipe it out.  If I do one every week for a few months, my kitchen will automatically get cleaned twice a year.  Pretty sweet.

Clean-up Day.  I love waking up Saturday morning and knowing the house is already clean so we can all go outside and play.  On Friday, I put on Adventures in Odyssey or fun music or The Simple Mom Podcast and scrub my bathrooms, dust the flat surfaces in my home, and vacuum all the Cheerios off the floor.  I take a laundry basket through every room and grab all the stuff that doesn't belong there to help keep the clutter under control, going room by room and returning all the stuff to its rightful place.

Outside Day is just nice.  Normally this falls on Saturday so Teacher Man mows the lawn.  What a guy.  I still haven't figured out how to do this job for him because I'm a wimp at starting the mower AND I have a 19 month old who eats non-food items if I'm not giving him my full attention.  As the kids play outside on this day, I keep one eye on the little eating machine and the other one on my weeding.  We're easily done by lunch and sometime skip doing the outdoor chores in favor of something fun because our yard isn't very high maintenance right now.

On the Day of Rest, I do nothing.  I normally don't cook unless it's an easy crockpot recipe.  Normally we pull something out of the freezer for lunch and just snack for supper.  In the afternoon, I sleep when the kiddos sleep, and we spend the evening doing something fun as a family.  A bike ride, a pedal car walk, a game, a movie, serious sandbox time, or train track building.  Love those nights.

So there it is.  I'm just curious.  Does anyone else remember their grandmothers having a similar system for each day of the week?  I remember from my days of working at a historical reenactment farm and countless readings of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books that this is how many women organized their days one hundred years ago. Perhaps it's time for a comeback.  Hope this helps someone besides me to have more time for the important because the dailies are already done.

Monday, May 7, 2012


This little guy makes me smile.

He loves to eat.  Mostly, he loves to eat beans.  Did I mention that I love this boy?

He is my first thumb sucker and is never very far from one of his blankies. 

 My blond-haired, blue-eyed boy

who has the best belly laugh in the whole world.

He looks so innocent.  Don't let him fool you!  

Here comes my favorite picture....

 Bahahaha!!!  He just started doing this as I was snapping photos.  I think we've discovered our family clown.

Consider this his way of waving goodbye to you.  He could just be scratching his head, but I'll say he's waving goodbye.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

You Can Never Go Back... Well, not really.

My family did something that is rather rare... okay, just rare for me.  We acted on an impulse and drove to the university where Teacher Man graduated, where we lived for the first two years of our marriage, where we brought our little baby home to our tiny married student apartment.  Good times.  Crazy memories.  To this day, a feeling of safety and anticipation fills my heart when we drive down the narrow streets, which all the cars appropriately treat as the neighborhood bike and running trails.

We drove there because, yes, we are construction stalkers.  No, local contractors, we are not crazy.  We just have boys who love to watch your excavators, bulldozers, backhoes, front loaders, and steamrollers.  Are you impressed that I know all those terms?  I can identify these vehicles now from quite a distance.  Just another benefit of raising sons.

The university is building a brand new science facility, and my big boy has been begging to take his pedal car to the old alma mater so he can check the progress.

This is Caleb when we told him what we were going to do.  Needless to say, he's excited.

 Yes, he insisted on wearing the hat.

 So so excited to drive his car to the construction site. 

Ben did not share his excitement (note the tears).

How could two brothers be so different?

Big brother chasing little brother around the fountain.

When did he get so big?

Future campus police?

Look out, bad guys!

The science building is almost done!
 Love the wind turbines the university has installed to help power the new building.

Just strolling around campus with this child makes me cry.   I walked these sidewalks for hours trying to make labor start.  He still insisted on being eleven days late.  

So worth every day.
Afterward, we drove off to dinner at the local ice cream shop that I craved all. the. time. when I was pregnant with this beautiful boy.  Here's your proof, expecting ladies.  Eat ice cream.  It makes your baby cuter.

Ben is just happy right now because we told him we were going to eat.

You'll find no pictures of the restaurant because... we were THAT family at the restaurant.  Kids screaming, too tired to enjoy french fries.  Too exhausted to let us eat quietly.  At least three families moved to get away from the zoo that was my family tonight.  (Bows head in embarrassment.) So a huge thank you to our friends Jeff and Julie for letting us picnic on their lawn so Teacher Man and I could finish our ice cream and our boys could run and be silly in the Great Outdoors.  

The day didn't end anything like I thought it would begin.  Going home to that university town just isn't the same.  We could not enjoy a romantic dish of ice cream and a quiet stroll around campus.  We raced the pedal car and comforted a tired baby.  We could not enjoy a peaceful dinner.  Instead, we laughed as our baby waved and said hello to every new person who came into the room.  Life has changed; and even though I'm covered in melted ice cream, ranch dressing, and sweat, I can honestly say that life has changed for the better.  We can never go back to our little life at the university, but we can embrace the full life that we've been gifted.

So here's to a taking a hot shower, getting a good night's sleep, and praying for new mercies for a grace-full day tomorrow.

Friday, May 4, 2012

His Journey Begins...

For several weeks, I feel like we have been investing in our big boy.

We've been painfully consistent with consequences when he has made bad choices; and sometimes even when Teacher Man is the one having tough conversations with Caleb, I can't stop but stand outside the door and listen.  Because the man I married says it so clearly.  This man who explains things so concisely and more often thinks than speaks, he pours out life-giving words to my son as he reminds him that we can't make good choices on our own.  That we can't do the right thing in our own strength.  That we need Jesus.  That we need Him so desperately to come into our lives and to forgive us for the things we have done that have hurt Him.  These ugly things called sin.

Last week at the dinner table after a prolonged session of fighting the good fight with our big boy, Caleb finally sat down at the dinner table to pray and he said, "Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me to take away the punishment for my sins. Please come into my heart and help me make good choices.  In Jesus Name, Amen."  Teacher Man and I looked at each other in shock and then turned back to our firstborn.  Caleb then proceeded to tell us that he asked Jesus to come into his heart and to forgive his sins.  Praise. the. Lord.  Myy three year old finally conceded.  He can't do it on his own.  He needs Jesus.  Glorious grace.

My husband then started to ask more questions, and indeed this little one's heart understood from as much as we could humanly decipher.  And speaking of grace and the cross and Jesus as His Helper came as naturally off his tongue as asking for more cheese crackers.

This mom's heart rejoices right now, not because we've "gotten him saved," but because he's saying "yes" to God.  His little faith has started a journey that will challenge him to say "yes" even when he knows that he's made horrible mistakes.  It will require him to say "yes" when God asks him to do the painful, the hard, and the unexpected.  But now he's not alone.  Amen.  He's not trying to obey in his own strength.  He no longer must live with the guilt of his own sin because Jesus paid it all.  It is forgiven through the precious blood of Christ.  And forevermore, the Lord will be His helper.

He has, by no means, become an angel.  Yesterday's fistfight was proof of the sin-battle still being waged in his little heart, but little by little I see unusual maturity coming out of his life.  Obeying the first time when called inside from the sandbox.  Finding special ways to love his feverish little brother.  Reading to himself for three hours this morning so his momma could get the sleep she missed out on last night.  Accepting Momma's decision of no more t.v. without a fight.

For months I felt we were wasting our breath.  Speaking those words of sin and grace and love and forgiveness over and over, a record of hearts broken over the sin of our eldest; but the seed of God's Word never returns void.  Never.

So his journey begins.  My son, now my brother in Christ, has the joy of knowing that his victories reflect his Savior and his sin can be forgiven.  And as I hold his hand through this part of the journey, I am ever grateful to know the Hand that is holding him.

Asian Beef and Noodles

So I'd planned to go out for a cheeseburger with my friends, but the dinner I made foiled my plans.  It was so. good.  Plus, it took less than a half hour to make.  Double bonus!  Don't worry.  I still went out with my friends.  Just ended up having a milkshake instead.

Here it is:
8 oz. uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
2 cups fresh sugar snap peas
1 cup julienne-cut red pepper
1/2 cup Catalina dressing
1 lb. beef top sirloin steak, cut into thin strips (We have these from buying a quarter cow a while back.)
2 T creamy peanut butter
2 T soy sauce (or Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

1. Cook spaghetti as package directs and add peas and red pepper during the last 2 minutes of boiling.
2.  Heat Catalina in skillet then cook beef in dressing for 8-10 minutes or until meat is fully cooked.
3. Add peanut butter and soy sauce and cook until thickened (about 2 minutes).
4. Stir in spaghetti and vegetables including green onions.  Sprinkle peanuts on top.

This was lick-your-plate good!  I adapted this recipe from a Simple and Delicious one and was really impressed.  Plus, all the ingredients on this list are things I keep in the house (Okay, I had to go buy some peanuts.), but I try to just add recipes that don't require a lot of new supplies in the house.

I would post a picture, but... well.... We ate it really fast.  And last night was sandbox building night.

Hope someone else will get to enjoy our yummy, quick dinner discovery!