Kindling the Fire
Victoria: I didn’t know daddy had that tablet.
Me: Oh, his Kindle?
Victoria: Yeah, his candle tablet!

Somebody call the cops!
Esther (watching me type up e-vites): Are you using those for investigations?
Bill: Do you mean invitations?

Literally literal
Bill (asking her what topic she’d written about): What did you write it on?
Esther: I wrote it on notebook paper

We call it “The South”
Ariana: Isn’t there another country that calls lunch dinner

It was out of his hands
Liam gave Josiah gum and told him not to swallow it. Five minutes later Josiah said: I’m sorry, Wiam. It slid down to my tummy.

The blood of Jesus doesn’t remove everything…
Victoria: Why is Miriam still crazy even though she’s been baptized!?

Them bones
Victoria: Why do we have bones?
Court: So we can stand and walk.
Josiah: Can babies walk?
Court: Not usually.
Josiah: Oh. So babies don’t have bones.

And the humblest
Josiah: Is Daddy cute?
Court: He’s the cutest!
Josiah: He’s not the cutest! I’m the cutest!

Come home already!
Josiah: How many minuses is Daddy’s work? [How many minutes till Daddy’s home?]


Prepping for Tomorrow

Many of you know I’m decent with time management. This embarrasses me. I’m not kidding. Cause I think it makes me like a Trekkie before being a Trekkie was cool. It’s cute in it’s own way, but really there are just a few of us out there who make up conventions just to know we aren’t alone. Without costumes and character makeup. Usually.

But the dude who’s even crazier than me and chose to be my husband often reminds me this is the area friends seek me out for the most. Ya know, cause I have the spiritual gift of organization that’s listed in Hezekiah 481,516:2,342. And he claims I should be less timid to share my processes. So welcome to the convention. Make sure you tweet about all the crazy you observe while here so others can be entertained, too.

So I’m going to start this series that isn’t going to be a series with my number one tip to help you manage your busy a bit better: Take a few minutes to prep for your next day.


OK, I’m going to go ahead and take a Zack Morris Time-Out before going further. The reason I hesitate to talk much about time management is because I almost always see this giving fellow parents a feeling of defeat, like there’s something sacred about being organized and they’ll never measure up. Every flippin’ magazine has a focus on it, especially in January. It dominates Pinterest almost as much as recipes. And the organized mom is the one who seemingly has it all together and is far superior.

The same God who is a God of order (referencing order in the church BTW, not your labeled pantry) is also the God of seeming chaos in changing plans, bringing insanity through unpredictable natural disasters, and creating a new, never before seen sunset each night. And we all reflect him. Meaning if you are the most spontaneous, all-over-the-place personality of everyone you know, you still bear his image. You’re not a worse mom. You’re the way God made you. And it’s beautiful and right for your kids.

God made me to reflect more of his ordered side. And some day I should write a blog post about the sinful tendencies that brings about in my own heart and how I envy those of you who can fly by the seat of your pants. But for now, know I’m just writing here. Take it or leave it, but don’t condemn yourself by feeling the pressure to add one more thing to the rules you make up for yourself. If this post serves you, great! If not, toss it and rest in the freedom of the person God made you to be.

OK, Time In!

Each evening, I do the following to get ready for the following day.

  • Check the calendar to see what’s going on and prep for any events on there (pack lunch for an outing, get dance bag ready, make sure I know address of location for GPS, etc.)–my older kids help with this prep work, cause we’re a family, not a one-woman show
  • Check the forecast to see how the kids and I should dress
  • Lay out my outfit–the kids do this with their clothes, too
  • Look at the menu and prep what I can. This could be pulling meat out of the freezer to thaw or marinate, measuring out some ingredients into prep bowls, making muffins for the morning, or assembling a casserole.
  • Check or make a to-do list and plan how and when I’m going to get it done
  • Reply to or write emails, texts, private messages, or voxes
  • Sometimes, I take this time for social media, mainly to check notifications and see if there’s something to which I should respond.

All of this usually takes me no more than 15 minutes. Obviously, food prep can take a bit longer depending on what’s planned, but I try to keep meals pretty simple throughout the week when we’re busier.

Depending on your lifestyle, there are many other things you may add to your list (getting school supplies ready comes to mind!), but this is my process, and it’s served me for a long time with just a few simple tweaks.

If you’re just getting started with this, I’d recommend you only add one thing at a time, maybe just getting in the habit of checking your calendar. That simple habit can make a big difference.

Happy prepping! That sounds like something I’d say to someone the day before a colonoscopy. Says the woman with Crohn’s disease. And this is how my post ends. Ends, hee hee, see what I did there?

Our Discipline Chart

There’s this funny thing that happens when friends come to our house for the first time. Often they take out their phones to snap a picture of a piece of paper I have posted in various places throughout the house. That paper is our discipline chart.

There’s nothing magical or pretty about it. When our two newest were placed with us, we wanted a visual for us and our kids to help everyone know discipline that would be given when needed. It was also helpful to show this to their case worker to make sure she approved of our methods.

DisciplineThe first two levels on our chart are far less about consequences than about helping the child regain focus. Oftentimes when a kid is acting out, they simply need to sit somewhere quietly to take a break, or oppositely, they need to burn some excess energy. So we tend to start here, especially in cases of self-control. Many times, that’s all that’s needed to get him back on track.

Journaling is listed on most of them, though that makes me smirk because we’ve actually required our kids to do it maybe twice. Don’t be jealous of our consistency. We do like the concept, though, so we keep it on the sheet in hopes that someday-maybe we’ll be good parents. The idea is to have them copy a passage of scripture and answer simple questions to be grounded in truth about the heart issue they’re struggling with.

As far as the other levels:

  • Loss of privilege is simply what it sounds like–not being able to do something you would normally have done. This could be watching a movie with the family, going to a special event, etc, for a short period of time.
  • If our kids have finished all their work for the day, they get 30 minutes of screen time. Which can also be taken away.
  • After dinner, kids who have eaten well get a small treat. Regardless of eating habits, though, we’ll snatch that cookie right out of your mouth if needed.
  • On top of daily chores, our kids can opt to do a paid chore, usually involving cleaning or yard work. If they reach this level, we’ll give them extra unpaid chores: same chores but without the moolah.
  • We try to give our children friend time at least once a week. That can go, too.
  • They can lose a toy, one they love, for a longer stretch of time or, in extreme circumstances, permanently.
  • Community service is hours determined by us to do work around the house/neighborhood. Seems fun at first, then the hatin’ it happens.

We certainly don’t use this list as a dogmatic form for parenting but more as a bucket list of ideas to use alongside belittling and yelling at them gospel instruction. Sometimes we skip straight to a lower level, sometimes we combine a few. Most things in life are gray, and what helps motivate a child once may not work again.

The Spirit is the one who changes hearts, not you and not me. Our ultimate goal with discipline should never be to “force a child to behave how you want them to.” Rather it should be a tool to teach them the folly of sin and point them to the only one who never disobeyed. And if you’re good at that, you can guest blog for us, cause we most certainly aren’t.

Read-Aloud Review: A Long Walk to Water

41owpj9m5ul-_sy346_A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

From Amazon: The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor…

Our oldest daughter, Ariana, got this book quite a long time ago from the Indy Children’s Museum, after which she tore through it and asked us to read it, too. After putting it off for way too long, we recently read this together as a family. The book is 133 pages and we read it in three days.

Yep. Three days.

I was surprised by how compelling the story was, even though it was somewhat fictionalized by Park. But I know enough to know that it was true to Salva Dut’s story and many of the other Lost Boys of Sudan. And so I was glad to read it as a family and get totally wrapped up in the story. They loved it so much that every time I’d finish a chapter, one or more of the kids (and sometimes Courtney, too!) would ask me to read another chapter. And then another. And then another.

The main reason I wanted to read this story was to give my kids a glimpse of what life is like in places where the resources are shy of our very rich country. It certainly did that. But it was far more. Because it was about loss, suffering, perseverance, compassion, and the fragility of life.

And, as the mark of any book I love, I balled like fourteen times in reading it to the kids.

What I Really Liked: I enjoyed giving the kids a vivid picture of life in a very different culture and setting. I also liked that the book didn’t shy away from the horrors Salva faced in many years, though it wasn’t grotesque about it either. I appreciated how the book got to see examples of both noble and ignoble characters, and even weaknesses and frailty in the protagonist. It was a very human story, where the perils of war and hunger are the crucible through which temptations are faced, sometimes well and sometimes not. And I was grateful that the book led into many other conversations, especially as we learned more about Sudan through different resources (more on that below).

What I Didn’t Like: Of course, it’s not a Christian book and I didn’t expect it to be, but the main character wonders many times how he could be so “lucky” and I kept reminding the kids that it wasn’t luck, but God’s kindness. And as I mentioned above, the author admits that some parts of the story were fictionalized, which was a little confusing when I had to explain that most of the book was real, but not necessarily all of it.

The Bottom Line: This is a great book that not only displays depth of character and perseverance through adversity, but also gives an honest and important glimpse into the plight of much of the globe. It’s a great story. Good for all ages, though our tender-hearted five-year-old struggled with the sad parts.


  • How is life in Sudan like yours? How is it different?
  • How do you think you would have responded if you were in Salva’s place?
  • Can you imagine being excited to get to go to school? Can you imagine what life would be like where you need to work all day just to survive?
  • What did you think about the Uncle’s words to just focus on the next goal? Why did he tell Salva that? Does that sound anything like “Don’t worry about tomorrow”?
  • When they were traveling through the desert and saw the group lying there, how did the people in Salva’s group respond? Why did some not want to help? Why did others help them? Does Jesus call us to give only after we make sure we have enough or do we give even if it might endanger us?
  • What are the many ways that God the Father protected Salva through his life?
  • Do you ever feel like Salva? Do you ever feel like things are too hard to keep going? What do you do when that happens?
  • How did Uncle Jewiir remind you of Jesus?
  • Is Jesus with you, even if you have to face terrible circumstances like Salva? How does this story remind you to give thanks to God for what you have? How is Jesus the only hope for Sudan?

Additional Resources

Adoption Series Roll-Up

Now that we’ve spent seven months (WHAT!?!?) opening up our hearts and convictions regarding adoption, we’re ready to get back to what this blog is all about: raising our kids in Jesus. That, of course, includes adoption, but that’s clearly not the totality of it nor is that all we care about discussing on this blog.

So since we’re done posting on adoption for the time being, we wanted to provide a roll-up of the posts we wrote on the topic to sort of wrap everything up. Our hope in this series has been to be incredibly open of the many struggles we’ve faced in our own adoption story without cleaning it up or trying to make it look pretty when it’s painful. And more, we want all of us to see our story of adoption and the resources available to adoptive parents inside God’s grand gospel story of a crucified and risen king.

Here are all the posts in our adoption series:

  1. Getting Real About Adoption
  2. Loving the Unlovable
  3. Sin in the Adopted Child
  4. Support for the Adoptive Parent
  5. Broken-Hearted Parents
  6. Some Clarifying Thoughts on Our Adoption
  7. Examining Adoption Resources (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 1)
  8. Normal and Healthy? (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 2)
  9. A Matter of Foundations (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 3)
  10. The Sins of Neurology  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 4)
  11. Idol Swapping  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 5)
  12. Setting the Course  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 6)
  13. Another Way Forward (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 7)
  14. The Therapy Our Children Need
  15. Who Are You Calling Normal?
  16. Optional Adoption
  17. How to Adopt for Almost Free (And No Fundraising!)
  18. What About “Those” Kids?
  19. Trying to Make Them Lovable