Our Exceedingly Great Reward

After spending quite some time contemplating how I would introduce the first guest writer on my blog I gave up.  A pillar in my life, she is an amazing woman of God who is always encouraging me, and selflessly serving others.  Please enjoy this beautiful piece by Priscilla Jahanian — who also happens to be my sister.   

I’m not pregnant this month.

I found out this morning.

I thought maybe this would be the month…the month I got to tell my family and our friends we were having a baby. In my mind I let myself do what I rarely let myself do —

I daydreamed.

I daydreamed how I would tell some of you the news.  The news we’ve been waiting to hear for over seven years.


But that’s not the news I’m going to be sharing today.

One day I will.  And I will cry.  And shout for joy.  And have a heart so full I won’t even be able to handle it.

It will be a glorious, unforgettable day.

And maybe that’s you, waiting for that one glorious day.  For that one day when you’ll have a spouse, healing, employment…

When you’ll have what you’ve been waiting for — that one glorious day.

And today, then?  What about today?  Where does that leave you today?  Where does that leave me?

Because this is the day we’re living.

And where does that leave us tomorrow?  What if it’s years before I get to share my news?  What then?  What happens between our now and then?

I can tell you what it’s looked like at different points in this journey for me.

Sadness.  Victory.  Disappointment.  Joy.  Bitterness.  Strength.  Tears.  Silent crying.

That moment when you are crying so hard and so deep…

Your mouth is open and nothing is coming out and you. are. just. broken.

And you finally get it out…

“Why?  Why God?”

Haven’t I waited long enough?  Haven’t I been patient enough?  Haven’t I been faithful enough?  Haven’t I trusted in Your timing enough?  Haven’t I submitted enough to what You have for me?  Haven’t I believed enough?

But then something happens inside me.  Because my God is so good.  He doesn’t leave me there.  Ever.

Oh, He has planted His Word and Truth in my heart and I cannot deny Him. And I remember…

His goodness.

That He has already given me Everything because He has given me Himself.

And everything else in this life is just a blessing —

And not necessary.

Because the day He shed His blood for me and rescued me, He gave me…


Before Abraham held Isaac in his arms, God gave him Everything.

Genesis 15:1 “…the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’ ”

God promised Abraham Isaac, but Isaac was not Abraham’s exceedingly great reward,

God was.

What your waiting for is not God’s exceedingly great reward.

God is your Reward.

And so today when I found out I wasn’t pregnant, I was disappointed.  But mostly today, I am thankful.

I am thankful for God’s goodness.  I am thankful that He loves me.  I’m so imperfect.  So undeserving.  But I have an Exceedingly Great Reward.

An Awesome, Perfect, Just, and Mighty Great Reward.

And so do you.

And that’s the news I want to share today and every day.

Psalm 118:15-17 “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.  The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.  I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord.”


Hi! My name is Priscilla Jahanian.  I live in Northern Virginia near Washington, DC with my husband of 10 years.  I had no idea this Arkansan-born, small town girl would ever live in a metro area!  Nor did I realize that I would be traveling internationally.  My husband and I are employed in the field of child welfare and are members of Capital Life Church in Arlington, VA.  We have had the privilege of participating in and leading various short-term mission trips, including several trips to West Africa.  I love the Lord, I love to laugh, and I love my family.  And if given a choice, this introvert would skip a party to have quality time and coffee with one or two close friends.

It’s the little things in life…

The RipStik is a caster board with two wheels.  Upon closer inspection, it's not unusual to hear taunting remarks like, "Don't even think about trying to ride me."

The RipStik is a caster board with two wheels. Upon closer inspection, it’s not unusual to hear taunting remarks like, “Don’t even think about trying to ride me.”

I wanted to ride a RipStik.


No hanging onto my oldest son.  No gripping the sides of my toddler’s Cozy Coupe car…

Alone — and if that wasn’t enough…expertly.

The thought of being able to cruise full circles around the driveway with ease and maybe (just maybe) learn how to lean down and run my fingers across the concrete only to stand right back up was exhilarating.

My obsession started last year when the boys were given a RipStik for their birthday.  All of their friends had one, too.  They would speed around effortlessly, twisting in every direction.

I wanted to ride a RipStik. 

Maybe it had something to do with me turning thirty-five years old this year.  Sure, I have always enjoyed being active but flying down the road on a RipStik?  That’s a major accomplishment — akin to scaling Mount Everest (for some of us).

Was I too old “to rip it” with my kids?

No.  I would practice and learn.  I would prove the naysayer, that inner voice that dared to question my capabilities, wrong — dead wrong.

While Will was supportive, I discovered rather quickly that his enjoyment of spinning me in a circular pattern until I couldn’t see straight was much too strong for him to be a reliable guide.  Instead, I enlisted the help of my oldest son.

Bryce thought my determination to master the RipStik was hysterical and felt no need to hide his disbelief and chronic giggles as he lead my wobbly frame around.  I lost track of the times he shook his head but he stuck with me.

It’s my theory that somewhere deep down inside Bryce was as committed as I was to making his thirty-five year old mother ripstik like a pro.  At least, that’s what I kept telling myself…

More than likely the idea of my leg in a cast for several weeks had him latched onto me like an extra appendage — that would have changed the dynamics of our house for a while.

In truth, I was fearful.

Something about being taller, balancing on a board with two wheels, and feeling out of control has a way of damaging the confidence in a person’s skill level.  Seeming as how I had no skill level at all, I was in the negative — way negative area.

However, the fear is what kept me coming back. 

My mantra?

Crush and conquer fear until the uncertainty it conjures up in the pit of my stomach completely disappears.

And that is exactly what I did.

Sure, I needed to be working on my summer project list: clean out the attic, refinish my bedroom furniture, scrape the food-based fortress out from underneath Nate’s chair, finish my sewing projects, gather my curriculum for next year…

But the RipStik dominated my “to do” list.

Weed eat the yard?  There it was, lying there, laughing in my face.

Carrying in the groceries?  I was taunted as I tripped over it walking through the garage.

Pulling into the driveway?  It basked in the sun strategically placing itself in my way…mocking me. 

Watching my kids play?  It shouted, “They can ripstik it up and you never will!”

And the dreams?  Vivid — me ripping through the city — the wind blowing in my face.

I would master that RipStik or else! 

(Or else nothing would ever get done around here.)

Several months after my preoccupation with this device started, the magic happened.

There I was clinging to my crutch…the old red Cozy Coupe — my constant source of comfort and stability.

I let go and rolled over five LONG feet!!  Yes!!  I turned to look at Bryce — we would celebrate together!!

No excitement.

“Mom, that’s like a C minus”

“A C minus?  Are you kidding me?  Look how far I went.  Come on, Bryce!”

“C minus…you still aren’t mounting the RipStik like I taught you…CCCCCCC minusssss”

The nerve!

“Bryce!  Really?”

And then Will’s encouraging voice from the backyard…

“Do you want him to grade you like an accomplished athlete or a thirty-five year old mother?”


“But I can’t get on the board like that.  I’m telling you.  I’ve tried!”

“Mom…let go of the car, stand up straight, and push off with your front foot so you’ll quit falling over.”

The look on his face.

The one where you have spent an obscene amount of time trying to teach someone something and they just. will. not. listen.

So this is what it feels like to be on the other end?

“Fine.  I’ll do it.”

“Okay, fine.  Do it.  Quit being a chicken.”

Chicken?  Did he just call me a chicken? 

It’s hard to describe in words what took place next.  Everything was in slow motion.  Chariots of Fire was playing in background.  It was just me and the RipStik.  I carefully followed Bryce’s instructions.  One foot, then the other…

And I was flying! 

The wind blowing in my face, my eyes on the goal, I twisted and turned — I had done it!

The RipStik would no longer sit unconquered.

And then the recognition of true success from my oldest son.

“See, I told you!  Now that’s an A minus (we would discuss the minus part later).  Good job, Mom!  Now why don’t you try this.”

We high-fived — I jumped into the air, fist pumped, ran in circles, threw pistols shots at the RipStik, and hollered like an idiot.

It felt…fantastic!

No, my lesson plans aren’t finished, the attic is still in disarray, and what looks to be stalagmites are still growing under Nate’s chair but I have been victorious this summer over a plastic board with wheels…

And fear.

So, go find your “RipStik” — whatever that may be — and latch onto the accomplishment of what appears to be the small things.

It’s the small things, after all, that motivate us to greater feats.

A circus for all seasons

Recently, I was posed a very serious question in which I have now decided to reply with a very serious answer.

“So tell me the truth — the honest truth.  What is it like?”

“What is what like?”

“Your house — what is it really like at your house every day?  I’m trying to imagine it.”

As usual, “the word” was off my lips before my brain could even finish contemplating what she had said…

“Chaos.”  (Isn’t that stating the obvious?)

I am asked this question in some form or another all. of. the. time.  For instance:

“Are they all yours?  How’s that working for you?”  Yes, and you know?  Not so good today.  We have a few going to auction next Saturday if you’re interested.

“You do know how that happens right?”  Haha.  Absolutely and we enjoy it so much we aren’t willing to give it up.

“How do you do it?  Bless your heart!”  Oh, it’s simple.  We invested in strait jackets…for ourselves.

“All boys?  No girls?  I am so sorry!”  Not last time I checked and really, it’s okay.  God knows better than I do.

Of course, at that point during the exchange, both parties generally chuckle and I move on with my posse — but on this particular day — that didn’t happen.  The lady was standing there staring at me…waiting.

“Never a dull moment around our house.”  (Mentally adding another tally mark as to how often I have used that go-to gem.)

Still staring.

Oh, wow…she’s dead serious.

“Well, maybe you should just come over and observe for yourself.”  Smiling I grabbed my groceries and hurried out with the kids before she had a chance to ask me for my address.

With a week-long vacation bringing an opportunity for my brain to actually process new information, I spent a greater part of my quiet time reflecting on our family.

What is it really like at our house? 

After running through a long list of descriptive words, I have decided using television shows would probably be the best way to help paint a more accurate picture of our lives.

1)  Billy the Exterminator.  It never fails.  Whether we’re at the dentist or talking to some random stranger, anytime my kids are around the conversation goes something like this…

What my boys hear:  “Yeah yesterday I was out cleaning the yard and found a nasty black widow spider underneath my daughter’s toy lawnmower.  I quarantined the area until I could get back with a full body protection suit and dynamite to kill it.”

Their response:  “The other night we waited until it was really dark and snuck out onto the front porch with a flashlight.  You see, that’s when all the black widow spiders come out onto their webs.  We caught over twenty of them in a jar!  It was awesome!”

What my boys hear:  “I want you boys to come look at this five foot rattlesnake I ran over on the road in front of your house.  The snakes are really on the move right now and this thing could swallow a man whole!  I crushed her with my tires several times and she still tried to strike at me when I got out of the truck.  It’s a good thing I’m in my armored vehicle.  Those fangs could have punctured my door!

Their response:  “Uh…that’s not a rattlesnake.  It doesn’t have a rattle or a viper’s head.  It’s actually a coachwhip, sir.  They kill rattlesnakes.  We thought we found one the other day, too.  I grabbed the shotgun (rock, paper, scissors with mom…it was my turn to shoot) but when we got out there, we realized it was actually a huge hognose snake imitating a rattler.  We caught it and after playing with it for a while moved it back behind the barn.  It was so cool!

What my boys hear:  “I hate to say it but I think we’re going to have to burn the house down.  Last night we saw a mouse the size of a panther creeping across the kitchen floor.  I was so scared I couldn’t move!  We ended up sleeping in a hotel.  My husband called an exterminator but I just don’t think I can live here anymore.  I know it’s going to attack me in my sleep…those things chew people’s faces off.”

Their response:  “I got this awesome live animal trap for my birthday.  So far I’ve caught seven packrats in it.  The other night it got too cold outside and one of them ended up with hypothermia after it was trapped in the cage.  My mom put a heating pad in an aquarium for me to warm him up and try to save him.  He didn’t make it.  I felt really bad.”

2)  Bizarre Foods and The X-Files.  Truly, the goings-on of our kitchen deserve a post of their own.  I should probably refer to this area as the “science lab” instead.  It is the most used and abused place in the household.  There is always something cooking around here.

Sometimes it’s actually food…

My oldest son (many times assisted by his brothers) prepares most of the dinners.  Despite their fantastic (and very much appreciated) culinary skills, we are still working on the concept of cooking without having the surrounding area blowup.

It didn’t take long to realize they are just like me.  We are creators — which means the end product comes with an explosion while the brain is mid-inspiration.  Even though this method often throws our messy kitchen into what I have termed a “situation” (acute intervention level), new dishes like French toast eggs are born daily.

I am also — blessed — to have my countertops continually showered with gifts and valuable treasures.  Our kitchen is special in that it exudes the aura of a safe-haven where hunters and collectors alike feel the desire to hide (or display) their booty within her endless spaces.

It is not uncommon to find things like a rotting coyote skull next to the Rice Chex box.  (I was very appreciative the giver so graciously attempted to rinse away the maggots and decaying flesh first.)

Or the remnants of a grasshopper — dissected into several pieces with a butter knife — scattered lovingly across my granite surfaces.  (How many times do I have to tell them to use a cutting board??)

I have even been left a dead tarantula; dried stiff with such perfection that he appeared to be alive.

Secretly stashed on top of the glass plates in my cabinet, this spider’s lifeless body was flung onto my arm as I was setting the table for supper.  Thankfully, someone removed the tarantula and relocated him…to the towel drawer where I was again greeted by his hairy body as I reached in to grab my car keys.

(Unfortunately, I am sad to report that because of the recent untimely dea…disappearance of Snowflake, our solid white parakeet — guardian of our lab and blanket of sanity around my one-sided conversations while cooking — the bird cage hanging from the middle of the kitchen chandelier remains empty.)

3)  Clean House.  Mine is not.  While summer allows me to actually see my floors more than once a week, I spend a lot of time cleaning and reorganizing in an attempt to stay afloat.  Homeschooling means our house is very lived in and every room has a purpose.  Some contain cesspools with things like mosquito larva and tadpoles.  Others sparkle like diamonds from concoctions of glitter dust, glue, and paper.  Still others are packed with thousands of books and collections of rocks, dead bugs, and homemade weapons.

Our house is also the unfortunate recipient of reoccurring plagues in the way of flies, moth puke, cat hair, and worms (pinworms, ringworms, inch worms…live or dead we’ve had them all).

And scrubbing the bathrooms?  Just plain scary!  Anyone would be crazy not to go in decked out in a hazmat suit but I boldly brave the elements.  The smell is something akin to a port-a-potty mixed with a bubbling sulfur spring and decomposing carcasses.  I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not.

To little boys, the bathroom is a magical kingdom where the water runs freely and things flush.  The tub can easily double as a large toilet and running out of toilet paper just means you’re off the pot that much quicker.  Flushing?  Why would anyone do that?  We are all about water conservation around here.

My couches have morphed into a second pantry, dusting happens during Christmas when I hang the stockings on the mantle, and our yard…I think I’ll stick to just shaking my head.

Sure, I have been known to cry over an afghan that just will. not. stay. folded. no matter how many times I carefully spread it over the arm of our graffitied recliner (hey, we all know it’s not about the afghan) but as my dear friend Sarah often reminds me, “We are giving our children a good childhood.”

4)  WWE’s Raw and Ultimate Fighting.  I still don’t understand why it’s fun to be flung into the air and pinned with your arms and legs twisted behind your back but apparently, that’s exciting stuff.  Yes, I’ve read the hype on gender profiling in children and no, I’m not buying it.  God designed boys to be completely different than girls — that’s a fact — and if you don’t believe me, spend a weekend at my house sometime.  Boys are just…well, boys.

Boys are intense — and wrestling is the same as sleeping or eating.

“You took my favorite stick.”  —  Let’s wrestle for it.

“You ate the last of the Choco Chomp cereal.”  —  Let’s wrestle.

“Your foot is one inch on my side of the couch.”  —  Let’s wrestle for it.

“You were staring at me three seconds too long.”  —  Let’s wrestle.

“You can’t sit in the front seat twice in a row.”  —  Let’s wrestle for it.

“Your breath touched my face.”  —  Let’s wrestle.

Almost everything is resolved by a wrestling match.

I have considered wearing a referee shirt as part of my wardrobe because that’s what I spend a substantial amount of time doing.  Lots of dialoguing…lots of separating sparring bodies…lots of kicking them outside to work it out on their own.

Granted I often find myself, the innocent bystander, being unwillingly pulled into a mass mob of sweaty little boys by a grown man (aka, dad) and have learned some moves of my own.  Unfortunately this type of behavior has also muddied the boundaries of how to treat girls so we had to set some ground rules:

—  No “credit carding” mom (or anyone else) in public.  (This has happened on more than one occasion.)

—  No passing gas while sitting on girls.

—  No sitting on girls.

—  No shanking girls.

—  No mooning girls for fun.

—  No putting creatures of any kind in girl’s clothing.

We still have a long way to go in this area but after a lot of hard work have finally driven home the point that underwear (or lack thereof) and cowboy boots do not constitute appropriate play gear for outdoor baseball games or hunting lizards.

5)  Saturday Night Live on steroids.  I live with five comedians.  Their sensei (who also happens to be their dad) is very committed to training them in this area.

  Scaring people is invaluable.  Never let an opportunity pass…no matter what.  Biting and growling in a split second must become second nature as is being able to move in stealth mode — in the pitch dark — bearing plastic snakes and spiders for unsuspecting victims pulling into the driveway.  (Along with the ability to run…fast.)

—  Dancing, singing, and loud music is a way of life.  When you hear music (no matter where you are) you break it down and dance.  Period.  Shame is non-existent.  If you don’t know the words to a song — fantastic — making up your own is much better anyway.  Head banging to loud music (especially if it’s What Does the Fox Say?) is therapeutic and invigorating.

—  Entertainment comes in many forms other than something that must be plugged-in.  Having a catapult contest with contraptions made from Lincoln Logs and rubber bands is awesome — as is packing five giggling boys into a four by two foot horse trough to “swim”, intense Knockout games in basketball, impromptu talent shows, and seeing who can be bitten and whiskered all over their belly without even cracking a smile.

—  “Becoming an adult” means simply getting taller…and wider.  Growing into a responsible individual with integrity is important but around here, maintaining the ability to be easily amused, laugh at yourself, and act silly is touted as the key to lifelong happiness.

So maybe using the word “chaos” to describe our small world isn’t as accurate as I once thought.

Sure there are moments (upon moments) we sit there in a daze and think, “Just throw a tent over it and charge admission.”

But as I often say…

God knew what He was doing when He decided to bless us with five boys. 

What is our home really like?  Perfect — wild and untamed — designed with a brood of boys in mind and a mother who enjoys dirt and critters just as much as they do.

(Once again, I publicly apologize to their future wives.)  

Boy, (n) 1. noise with dirt on it.

Boy, (n) 1. noise with dirt on it.

Why are we losing our kids?

There seems to be a running dialogue within conversations and articles recently addressing the subject of parents “losing their kids to the world” when they leave home.  While this discussion has been thrown on the table before, the growing number of statistics citing numbers as high as 75% of teens setting their Christian faith aside after graduation is enough to compel any parent do a double take.

I’ll be honest with you–for the last (almost) thirteen years of being a mother, there are nights I’ve lost sleep over this one.  A people watcher by nature, witnessing strong, godly parents struggle with a child who has made the decision to turn away from their faith can shake your confidence to the core.

I know what you’re thinking: We can’t parent in fear.  Oh, I’ve been there a time or two…okay, A LOT over the years and am in complete agreement with you.  I have also grown to understand that there comes a point when our children are responsible for themselves and will make their own choices completely independent of us.  I get that.

BUT…in the same way that physical death (say a funeral) has a way of prompting us to consider our mortality–giving perspective to our fleeting earthly life; spiritual death of someone can often bring similar reflection.  When I read the statistics and observe the deep sorrow that arises in the “loss” of a child, I feel the desire to reevaluate myself as parent on occasion.

Not doubt–biblical examination–the use of God’s Word (our road map) to make sure my parenting is lining up with scripture.  

2 Timothy 3:16-17 — “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

So this:

2 Corinthians 13:5 — “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?”

Ends up looking something like this in my mind:

“Test yourself as a parent, Krysta, see if you are in the faith; examine yourself as a parent!  Or do you not recognize this about yourself, that Christ Jesus is in the way you parent–unless indeed you fail the test?”

Often, I fall short.  It’s in those moments of realization that I am all the more thankful for God’s grace and mercy.  Do I think I’m a “bad” parent?  Absolutely not.

But when I consider the virtue–striving for “moral excellence“–that 2 Peter 1:5 instructs us to add to our faith in order to cultivate a true and living faith, I can’t help but think of the positive impact applying this same principle to my parenting will have.

Virtue within parenting means that we are always seeking to hone our skills and make changes if we need to–never settling with just getting by.  (Ouch!  My toes are really getting stomped on at this point.)

After many years of contemplating the question from every angle, I still don’t have an answer as to why so many Christian teens are leaving their faith.  With endless amounts of books and articles being published on the subject, it’s clear that no one does.  We live in a fallen world.

As I look into the eyes of my own sons and ponder their child-like faith, I imagine the day I will release each one of them into the world with these words…

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

In that moment…that single step in which Will and I hand them back to God as He leads them into a life of service for Him, I pray that as parents we have lived and used His Word everyday of their lives to equip them in the best possible way.

For that is what God has asked of us.

May we as parents find perfection through Christ and may our imperfection be swallowed by God’s grace.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 


Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”


But am I enough?

(While fear is something all mothers face, this post is dedicated to the many wonderful homeschooling moms, some that I am blessed to know personally, and meant to address my experience with fear as a homeschooling mother in hopes of helping someone else struggling with the same issue.)

It was the fall of 2012.  Several weeks into our homeschool year, I found myself sitting cross-legged up in our attic.  The hot tears tracing a long path down my face emerged out of flashes of sheer anger towards an unknown offender, deep sorrow, and utter confusion as to where this new path was headed.

Sorting what seemed to be endless stacks of papers, priceless memories left undefined by ink raced unrepressed through my mind.  Grimacing, I experienced what it meant for the human heart to hurt; enduring an emotional pain that left me unable to catch my breath as I mentally tried wrap my thoughts around the question, “Why?”.

“Why God, am I so sick?  Why have I been brought to this place in my life?  Why must I do this?” 

Engulfed by boxes of worksheets, writing assignments, tests, drawings, crafts, and pictures; it was the image of a mother’s hands, my hands, diligently weaving Truth and a love only I could provide into the very hearts of my children that filled the emptiness of that hollow room.

I was in the process of being taught the most valuable lesson I have learned thus far as a homeschooling mother; a lesson that would drastically (and permanently) alter my perspective as a home educator.

Yes, Krysta, you are enough…

Many years ago, a lady asked me how long I’d been homeschooling and I explained to her that we were just starting. After glancing at the boys and curiously back at me she said, “Well, it seems to me as if you’ve been teaching from the time they were born.”  I realized there was a lot of truth in that statement.

As mothers, we are nurturers the day we are blessed with the arrival of a new baby.  Even from the time they are in the womb or simply a dream carried deep within us, we cherish a life we cannot yet hold and begin a relationship of love that is unconditional.  The greatest attention is given to shaping tiny hearts and guiding curious hands through an unfamiliar world.  We delight in our child’s innocence and laughter as they discover the beauty of a flower or experience the feel of water splashing through their fingers.

But somewhere in the beginning, tied up in our desire to “mother” properly, we begin to separate being the mom and the teacher.  This women, this nurturer, no longer exists as the same entity within our minds but two completely different beings.  Suddenly, the title of “mom” is not enough to educate and instruct.  As a homeschool parent, we begin to doubt our abilities and often find ourselves in a needless struggle to prove our competence to outsiders and please an often insatiable critic…


Shouldering a pack full of impractical expectations and unrealistic goals that were formulated in an attempt to smother doubt and alleged inadequacies, we step out onto an invisible battlefield.  Rooted somewhere within our minds, an unseen war is begun where we will never stand victorious.

We will lose.  Our children will lose.

As we trace each lie back to its origin, they hinge on one word–one solitary word that stands to rob us from obtaining the infinite blessings of homeschooling our children:


FEAR makes us disregard our purpose for homeschooling in the first place.

FEAR wears us out as we desperately try and mirror another homeschool family, instead of trusting God to show us the design He desires for our own.

FEAR drives us to take on too much within our classes so we don’t “miss” anything, causing everyone to become overwhelmed and burned out.

FEAR compels us compare our children to others.

FEAR finds us concerned about how people might perceive us.

FEAR lures us to give heed to Satan’s whispers of, “You’re ruining your kids.”

FEAR says, “It’s just not enough” until we believe the lie and throw in the towel.

Fear is paralyzing — rendering our homes unproductive.

Fear is NOT from God!

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Choosing to safely tuck away a painful memory, I sometimes allow myself to crawl back up those attic stairs and reflect on the day I realized I was homeschooling my children from a place of fear.

Swallowed so deeply by that unforgiving monster, I had traded in prayerful direction for the ugly lie that I was incapable of providing my kids with what they needed.  Compensating with ridiculous standards, my tainted view eventually transformed “success” solely into what could be seen and impossible perfection.  In short, I had created a situation where I was incapable!

Anytime fear is given a voice in the choices we make, there will always be toxic consequences that bleed into every facet of our home. 


Being saturated in a daily, self-inflicted stress, I eventually ceased finding joy in homeschooling.  The normal conflict that occurs as a child is trained to stay on task and complete their work cheerfully became a sign that I was failing.  Instead of working through those times and seeing them as an opportunity to produce lasting growth, I stood overwhelmed and consumed by a constant feeling of inadequacy.

In truth, my spiritual body was riddled with parasitic fear long before my physical body began to struggle with illness.  Our homeschool was in a tailspin–we were on course to crash and burn!

I may never fully understand the “whys” of sickness, “whys” of being brought to a crossroads, and “whys” of having to send my children to public school but those unanswered questions no longer matter…

I praise my God, my Refiner, for His purifying fire!  For it was through difficult trials–a road I would never have chosen to travel–that I was finally set free from fear!

1 Peter 1:6-7 – “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

As Christians, we readily acknowledge that we will undergo hardships, obstacles, sadness, growing pains, uncertainty, and at times complacency.  While each of these things may present a variety of challenges, we recognize they also serve as a means of cementing our reliance on God and an increase in spiritual maturity.

James 1:2-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

What I have learned is that homeschooling is much the same.

We will endure rough spots, high walls that appear to be impassable, frustrations, low points, muddled priorities, and in moments, the temptation to cry out in defeat.  Yet full reliance on God, replacing fear (lies) with complete Trust in Him, will carry us through those tribulations.  On the other side, we will emerge strengthened and refreshed in Him as through our weakness, He is able to accelerate spiritual growth within us.

We will be victorious.  Our children will be victorious.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

May we as homeschooling mothers embrace that as God’s intricate handiwork, we were situated carefully within His design–our homes–for a supreme purpose.  That special place crafted for us is lovingly called, “Mom”.  God has provided moms with His Word and a Spirit that intercedes, to equip them in all tasks.  He created “Mom” to be enough.

You are enough! 

Psalm 107:1  "Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever."

Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

[If you find yourself struggling as a homeschool mother (and we all will), prayerfully assessing your decisions for curriculum, schedules, extracurricular activities, and goals is a wonderful way to weed out problems.  In practicing this, I often discover I am forcing a piece that doesn’t fit our family in that particular season.  While homeschooling is not always easy, the blessings that flow from implementing God’s superior framework for our homes instead of our own are priceless!]



Kombucha tea

“Kombucha is really good for your digestive system.”

Smiling in celebration from the next room, I am thoroughly enjoying this “proud mom” moment.  My ten-year-old has been listening and is actually sharing what he has learned with his older brother!

“You know, with all of the rubber bands and stuff I swallow, it just helps my body push them right out.”

Okay, so maybe kombucha shouldn’t be used as a means to expel foreign objects from the intestines but he is right about one thing…

Kombucha really IS good for your digestive system!

Kombucha is a refreshing, carbonated beverage packed full of numerous health benefits.

Kombucha is a refreshing, carbonated beverage packed full of numerous health benefits.

Kombucha tea is said to have originated in East Asia over 2,000 years ago.  It is brewed using a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) or zoogleal mat for you science nerds like me.  Kombucha has been employed as a means to treat everything from cancer to gout.  While there is conflicting literature as to the benefits of kombucha, I’m a firm believer in giving something a try when there is ample evidence to support positive results from its use.  After bringing this fermented beverage into our home…

Naysayers = 0
Kombucha = stellar performance!    

After suffering from chronic constipation from an early age, my husband (appreciate his permission to write about his experiences) was able to regulate his digestive system within two weeks of using–you guessed it…


That was all the proof needed to completely eliminate Citrucel from the medicine cabinet!  I immediately began wondering what else kombucha could do for our family’s health.  Here is what I have found through research and personal use:

Kombucha treats acid reflux by stabilizing the gut and assisting with acid.  (Acid reflux is commonly mistaken as a problem with too much stomach acid when in fact, the opposite is true: it is usually aggravated by not enough acid in the stomach.)

— Kombucha contains glucosamines and repairs connective tissue which is crucial for asthma and allergy sufferers.

— Kombucha contains bacterial acids and enzymes that detoxify the body.

Kombucha restores balance to a body that has repeatedly used antibiotics, treating overgrowth of candida albicans (yeast).

Kombucha is just one of the many ways to incorporate probiotics into our diet along with foods like: yogurt, milk or water kefir and fermented items such as pickles, sauerkraut, and homemade salsa.  Most of us are aware that probiotics are good for digestive health but what we don’t often realize is that there are different strains of friendly bacteria found in a variety of foods and drinks.  Ingesting a combination of these things will help us obtain optimum gut health, boost our immune systems, and assist in healing the damage done by processed foods.

Aside from its health benefits, our family enjoys kombucha as a replacement for sugar-laden fruit juices and sodas.  The fizzy drink is refreshing, unlimited in flavor concoctions, and is another one of those fun “science experiments” in the kitchen.

Kombucha is a naturally fermented beverage that contains a living colony of bacteria and yeast. Aside from being a probiotic, it boasts a long list of beneficial properties.

Kombucha is a naturally fermented beverage that contains a living colony of bacteria and yeast. Aside from being a probiotic, it boasts a long list of beneficial properties.

So where can someone get their hands on a SCOBY and how is kombucha made?

Cultures for Health is a great Website to order starter kits for all things cultured and fermented.  Some health food stores will carry starters as well.  Another option is to find someone (like me) who brews kombucha and ask them for a SCOBY and starter tea.

Kombucha Tea  (Click for a great question and answer page.)

What you will need:

  • SCOBY and 2 cups fermented starter tea.
  • 8 to 10 tea bags
  • White sugar
  • Wide mouth glass jar that can hold at least one gallon (cracker jars work great).  Just make sure no metal parts will come in contact with your brew.
  • Smaller glass bottles/jars for second ferment.
  • Boiling pot
  • Non-metal measuring cups and spoons
  • Vinegar
  • Large rubber band/headband
  • Paper towel

The MOST important step in making kombucha is sanitizing everything with hot water and vinegar only (ABSOLUTELY NO ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP)!  This prohibits the growth of harmful bacteria and also prevents your SCOBY from being killed.

— After sterilizing all of your cooking supplies with hot water and vinegar, bring one gallon of water to a boil on the stove top.  (Using a metal pot is fine at this point.)

— Add one cup of organic white sugar and stir until dissolved.  (Do not use honey or other sweeteners as they cannot support your SCOBY properly.)

— Remove from heat and add 8 to 10 tea bags.


Let’s talk tea!

You can use white tea, black tea, green tea, and oolong tea (my personal favorite).  Avoid flavored teas that contain lots of oils and herbs: they can damage your SCOBY.  Using a combination of teas is also fine.  My sister has me hooked on using an organic peach oolong tea.  Sometimes I use a ginger peach for a darker, richer brew.  Both make a nice base for future flavoring!

— (At this point you can either pour the hot water and tea bags into the EMPTY, sterilized container you will be using to brew the kombucha (this is necessary when making several batches) or leave it in the pot to cool.  I usually allow mine to sit overnight or I will make it first thing in the morning and let it cool all day.)

I allow my tea bags to steep until the liquid is completely cooled.

I allow my tea bags to steep until the liquid is completely cooled to create a stronger flavor.

— Once the tea is completely cooled, strain out the tea bags.

— If you haven’t already, pour cooled tea into an empty and sanitized glass jar.  (Remember that if the mixture is not at least room temperature you may damage or kill your SCOBY.)

— Pour 2 cups of starter tea and SCOBY into the brew.

It's alive!!! Healthy bacteria and yeast work together to form a SCOBY on the surface of the brewing kombucha.

It’s alive!!! Healthy bacteria and yeast work together to form a SCOBY on the surface of the brewing kombucha.

— Secure a tightly woven paper towel with a rubber band around the top of the jar.  (I like Viva paper towels and prefer using a headband.)  Do not use cheese cloth or any other material that can be penetrated by gnats!

— Set jar in warm area away from other culturing foods.  Above 70˚ is best.  I ended up purchasing a seedling mat this winter to speed up the fermenting process because our house stays very cool.

Kombucha takes little effort to brew. It might be necessary to add a seedling mat to accelerate fermentation during the colder months.

Kombucha takes little effort to brew. It might be necessary to add a seedling mat to accelerate fermentation during the colder months.

— Your SCOBY may sink, only later to rise (temperature affects this) or remain on the bottom.  Either way, you should notice a thin layer forming on top of your kombucha within a few days.  This is the new SCOBY!

— After five days, begin sampling the tea to see if it’s ready.  (Someone suggested sticking a straw down the side into the tea…without backwashing, of course.)  Ready means finding the taste you prefer.

Keep in mind that at the beginning of fermentation, kombucha has approximately 3 teaspoons of sugar for every cup.  This means the longer it ferments, the more time your SCOBY has to consume the sugar, and the less sugar will be left in the end product.  I prefer my tea to sit anywhere from 14 to 21 days.

As the kombucha brews you will notice the SCOBY may have a brown tinge (tea stains and yeast), dangling strands (yeast at work), and lots of bubbles (healthy brew).  All of these things are good.  What is not good is mold.  If you have ever seen mold on bread then you know what to look for.  Brown spots are most likely NOT mold.  Mold looks like, well…mold.

— When your kombucha is done, it is time for a second ferment to increase carbonation and add flavoring.

—  Using clean hands rinsed in vinegar separate your new SCOBY from the mother SCOBY.  Make sure and save 2 cups of tea with every SCOBY to start new batches of kombucha.

After reserving 2 cups of tea for each SCOBY, it is time to bottle your kombucha and add flavoring.  I use two types of jars:

There are many options for jars. As long as it creates a tight seal, it will build carbonation during the second ferment.

There are many options for jars. As long as the lid creates a tight seal, carbonation will build during the second ferment.

— Both work well.  I have found the flip top lids (because of their tight seal) create more carbonation.  These bottles can be purchased at places like Target and Hobby Lobby.  Again, whatever you decide to use make sure no metal parts come in contact with your brew.

— Fill your jars with kombucha and add fruit, spices, vanilla, or any other flavorings.  The possibilities are endless!  Pinterest has some great recipes for flavoring kombucha.  I prefer to use frozen fruit like mango, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  Just a few pieces will add a refreshing taste to your drink.

—  Allow kombucha to sit at room temperature for 2 to 3 more days.  Once the second ferment is complete, the kombucha is ready to refrigerate and drink.

Be careful when initially removing the lids as the carbonation builds up pressure inside the bottle.  I have never had a container break but it is always good to be cautious!

— A new small SCOBY along with yeasty strands may begin to form during the second ferment.  You may strain them out upon completion or leave them as they are beneficial to ingest.

Our family seems to tolerate kombucha well.  We drink about 1/2 cup a day, sometimes more.  Our youngest, who is not quite two, is kombucha’s biggest fan.  There is literature regarding whether or not it is safe for children to consume because of the small amounts of alcohol that it can contain.  As long as you brew your kombucha properly, this should not be an issue.  


1)  New SCOBY is not forming on the surface.  Check the temperature.  You may need to move the jar or add a heat source.  Make sure you use a full cup of white sugar to feed your SCOBY.  Is your SCOBY old?  It may be time to compost an unhealthy SCOBY and work on strengthening your newer ones.

2)  Kombucha is not carbonated.  Sometimes you may end up with a “bad brew”.  This has happened to me once.  Instead of separating my new SCOBY from the mother, I left them intact and started another brew.  This usually corrects the problem by strengthening your yeast and bacteria.

3)  New SCOBY is small and thin.  As with number two, leave your mother SCOBY attached to your new formation and start another brew to strengthen it.

4)  Kombucha tea has gnats.  Make sure and use a tightly woven paper towel so that they cannot gain access into your jar.

Other uses for kombucha:

Fruit snacks, smoothies, popsicles, jerky, in place of liquids in baking, composting, chicken feed…the list is endless!

For resources on the health benefits of kombucha and other information click here:





Give kombucha a try and see what it can do for your family!

Why does it matter?

“The first thing I’m going to do when I go to college is buy lots of powdered donuts and eat them all!” my eight-year old longingly proclaimed after passing a bin packed full of the enticing pastries in Wal-Mart.

In light of the recent dietary changes our family made earlier this year, I’ve heard many of these comments from my kids detailing their candy and dessert fantasies.  And who could blame them?  From the moment their chompers were able to handle solids, they had been fed a steady supply of simple carbohydrates, sugar, and preservatives.

Of course I more than anyone understood my son’s inner turmoil.  Tis the season of Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs after all, and for a recovering sugar-aholic, those brightly colored jelly beans and solid chocolate Easter Bunnies beckon me from aisles away.

What can I say?  Junk food is addictive and those tasty temptations lurk everywhere.

Culturally, food is at the hub of our holidays, sporting events, parties, and get-togethers.  In any social gathering, food usually plays a vital part of their organization.  By mere appearance, taste, and presence, food has the ability to repeatedly draw crowds of people unlike any other substance.  So much is it woven into our Western world that unless there is lack of access to its consumption, we generally don’t contemplate its availability.

Food is just…there.

As a society we are blessed to have food readily obtainable to us.  Stores boasting an endless array of packaged goods and the ease of restaurants are absolute game changers for our hurried lives.  For me, these components represented simplicity.

Nothing saves a drowning mother during the difficult and fast-paced seasons of life like an effortless meal. 

The fact is I have been investigating the effects of food on our bodies for years after repeatedly struggling with illness.  Even in discovering undeniable truths, I have constantly wrestled with myself to make changes in our home that fully reflect those convictions.  Why?  Because reformation often means inconvenience and frankly, the idea of completely overhauling my children’s diets was downright frightening.

With my resume already boasting several failed attempts at a seemingly impossible feat, something remarkable happened last fall…

I remembered that I was their mother.

While the kids may have persistently desired frozen pizzas, Doritos, Little Debbie’s on demand, and unlimited access to their Halloween candy…

As a parent, I could tell them no.

Starting in October of 2013, Will and I began prepping the boys for “the day” there would be a radical reform in how we ate and on January 3rd, 2014, our mission commenced.  Like the Grinch (after taking away their corn dogs and Cheetos, I most certainly was in their eyes) on Christmas Eve down in Whoville, I cleaned out our entire stockpile of processed foods and replaced it with well, REAL food.  And then…

We sat our kids down and gave them a much deserved apology.

  • Our children were chemically dependent upon the very foods we were eliminating and raging against any modification of that diet.  It was not their fault.  It was ours as their parents.
  • Children in general are continually rewarded with sugar-laden sweets.  It is not their fault.  It is ours as adults, teachers, and caregivers accountable for their distribution.
  • Marketers constantly target our children with alluring snacks.  It is not their fault.  It is ours for not waging an all-out war on those companies responsible…

 And the fault of parents like us who “forget” we ARE in fact the parents; purchasing unhealthy food without thinking twice about how the ingredients are affecting our children or being fully aware but convinced it would be too difficult to make and maintain drastic diet modifications

For our household, the entire process was undeniably scary. 

There was unrepressed anger and tears of frustration; mood swings, breakdowns, confusion and at some points, refusal to eat what was set on the table leading to hungry tummies.  But even through extreme preliminary protests from the natives, Will and I had the authority to determine what was allowed in our cabinets and refrigerator regardless of the outcries and we stuck to our guns.  Playing the trump card was not a matter of dictatorship but recognition that we as parents knew what was most beneficial for their well-being.

Why does it matter?

From our personal observations, it was clear that all five of our children were affected by preservatives and dyes.   Ingesting those substances on a regular basis lead to a vicious cycle of lack of concentration, inability to focus on instructions, and avoidable discipline issues.  Sugar is a known immune suppressant, prohibiting the body’s capacity to fight off potential viruses and heal.  Because our fourth son was labeled as having asthma and allergy issues, which are both linked closely to poor eating, we knew an anti-inflammatory diet was key.

That also meant the elimination of milk-derived products.  While they are pushed as a means of calcium consumption, studies show roughly 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant and there are better bone-building alternatives. For our youngest suffering from chronic diarrhea and ear infections, avoidance of milk-based foods was a necessity.

After our oldest son had spent twelve years battling severe acid reflux, which often included several episodes a month of vomiting in the middle of the night and endless bottles of Tums, we wanted solutions that didn’t include a pill.

What was our biggest motivation surrounding all of these things?  I knew from personal experience that struggling with not “feeling good” made it difficult to serve the Lord to the best of my ability.  Not only that but when it was within my control to make the necessary changes and I recognized the need; choosing not to do so was an act of rebellion.

We were basically impeding our children’s potential (as well as our own), to serve God at their best now and formulating an unhealthy lifestyle that would continue to potentially hinder that ability later on.  As parents, Will and I were failing our kids and ourselves miserably in this department.

It was past time for our children’s two strongest advocates to get their act together, making healthy food choices on their sons’ behalves not just for them but for our own well-being.    

Being the one in charge of meal planning, grocery shopping, and food preparation, I was mindful that coupled with Will’s unwavering support, the success of our mission largely rested on my shoulders.  I created a plan:

     1)  Educate my children on the what, why, and how aspects of health.  When powdered donuts come calling, being able to reflect on the knowledge as to what something contains, why it is not good for them, and how it affects their body both short and long-term is a crucial tool to have.  While the boys may not fully comprehend all of the information now, I pray what they are learning helps them make better choices on their own down the road.

It is important to Will and me that they learn not to eat for immediate gratification but for life, cultivating a self-discipline that filters into all areas.

     2)  Get the kids involved in meal planning.  Allowing them to help me choose menu items was crucial in giving them a sense of control amid extreme dietary modifications.  The boys are much more willing to eat items from their preplanned menus.    

     3)  Get creative and work as a team to learn how to cook food a healthier way.  Kids are also more likely to eat what they have spent time making.  With the kitchen as our new science lab, we spent several weeks experimenting with gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, low-sugar snacks, and revamping previous recipes to reflect a healthier end product.  We have lots of flops but each disappointment has been a step closer to successful results.

    4)  Continue researchingI never thought I would credit blogs and Pinterest as assets on this journey but both have been invaluable resources for studies and recipes.

    5)  Remember to be patient and understanding.  Just because I put green leaves in front of my kids doesn’t mean they are automatically going to eat them.  Persistently offering new foods and encouraging them to try each one was (and is) my goal.  After years of conditioning the boys to eat a certain way, reconditioning them isn’t going to happen overnight.  I have found that as long as they are not allowed the opportunity to consume unhealthy fare, they eventually give other menu items a chance, discovering that they actually enjoy a wide variety of foods.

    6)  Make small, gradual changes so that they remain permanent.  While the initial kick-off meant a complete “doing away” with many of our main meal sources, the slow decrease of sugars and addition of new ingredients in our recipes helped them adjust to the taste.  As their pallets became accustomed to different flavors, altering the sugar and salt content was much less noticeable.  They are considerably much more adventurous now after retraining their taste buds to recognize the flavors of REAL food.

    7)  Stand firm.  While we still allow our family to have treats on occasion, we participate in public functions involving food sometimes as much as three or four times a week.  It is crucial that we either bring our own meals or make sure we have the option of selecting healthy alternatives.  Will and I are aware and sympathetic to the fact that it is not easy for our kids to watch others eat things they can only have in moderation (if at all).  However, if we always allowed them unsuitable foods during those functions, it would be completely counterproductive and unfruitful towards our goals.

    8)  Enlist the help of a few pros.  I picked the brain of my sister-in-law who suffers from celiac disease, other family members, and friends who have made difficult food adjustments with great success.  The bottom line to their advice?  Hang in there and persevere…it will eventually get easier.

And it has! 

It has been exactly 101 days since we successfully switched our family to a whole food diet (more about the specifics another day).  Has it made a difference?

     —  Within one week of eliminating dairy, our youngest son returned to normal stools and after suffering repeated ear infections every few weeks, has had only one at the start of our new eating regimen.

     —  Our child with asthma and allergies has not needed a breathing treatment or medication of any kind.

     —  Our twelve year old has not taken a single Tums, thrown-up once or shown the slightest symptoms of acid reflux.

     —  The biggest transformation has been seen in behavior.  I was reminded last weekend why processed sugar, dyes, and preservatives should be avoided at all costs when I saw the results of allowing some of our sons to have Skittles and fruit snacks .  They act in the same way that a drug does on the body and bring undesirable behaviors.  I don’t need a study or research to clearly see the effects of those ingredients on children (or myself for that matter).  I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes!

     —  Dad and mom have reaped the benefits, too; digestive issues have been resolved, energy has been restored, brain power boosted, and migraines virtually gone.

So “Why does it matter?  We all have to die of something, don’t we?  I know very healthy people that still suffered from cancer, heart problems, and other diseases.”

As a mom who has fought chronic fatigue, depression, hormone imbalance, thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, and an anxiety disorder at some point in the past decade, I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that being conscience of what I eat has produced far more positive results than any pill I have ever been prescribed.  I may still struggle with illness in the future but knowing I am doing everything in my power to gain optimum health so I can enjoy my life and family; having the energy to invest in serving the Lord to the best of my ability, has made it worth the extra planning and hours in the kitchen.

There is no question that a mother covets happy and healthy children but even in desiring those things and possessing the knowledge, it has taken me roughly eight years to arrive at this crossroads.

     1)  There was a season of depression in my life and the very foods contributing to a greater portion of that unhappiness were also a comfort.  Breaking the cycle takes great courage.  Be courageous, Krysta.  Joshua 1:9

     2)  In my sickness, fighting to gain the motivation to implement dietary changes with the ability to bring about wellness and whole body healing seemed impossible.  Rise up and set your eyes on Christ, Krysta.  Luke 9:23, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Proverbs 3:5-6

     3)  I was “cleaning” out my house but not refilling it with the needed tools to sustain a healthy home nor was I keeping in mind that physical battles are often connected to spiritual ones.  Equip yourself, Krysta.  Luke 11:17-26Ephesians 6:11-18  

     4)  Family unity was lacking on this quest.  We are fortified in oneness, becoming more effective in reaching a common goal.  Cultivate unity, Krysta.  Mark 3:25, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 27:17    

     5)  Where would I find time?  Show me where, Lord, there is another second for me to spare in the chaos of our lives?  All you need to do is ask, Krysta.  1 John 3:22, 1 John 5:14  

Every day I must prayerfully determine what’s important to me, knowing I will purpose and make time for what I believe matters. 

This is my family’s story: our personal convictions and road we were called to walk upon.

While we still have a lot of learning to do and there are rough spots that prove problematic (unhealthy food is everywhere and will always be a temptation), I am so proud of the discipline my boys have shown through this journey over the past several months.  They have taught me that if a child has the willpower and inner strength to push through uncomfortable situations, then I as an adult should strive harder to possess the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to practice self-denial in all areas of my life.  (And anyone who can inspire their mother to give up her once life-giving coffee is most definitely a hero.)

There is an abundance of information out there available to us and sifting through it can be overwhelming.  (I am working on adding more recipes, personal testimonies on specific topics, and helpful information as I develop my blog.  I will be happy to help answer any questions you may have.  There are also orange, highlighted links throughout this post where you can click and read material on different subjects.)  Please don’t be discouraged!

If you have been considering making dietary adjustments in your family, I encourage you to move forward with confidence in small ways.  Seek out a like-minded individual who already maintains a healthy lifestyle to help get you started, an adventurous friend to muddle through the unknown with you, or simply choose one thing to change today and stick with it.  When you prayerfully stay the course no matter how difficult in the beginning, experiencing the results will urge you to work even harder towards a healthier family.

It does matter.

Up until recently, this was the fate of any nutrient-rich food that landed on a plate. We are learning that while carrots and such are fun to play with, they are actually edible as well.

Homemade gluten and dairy free bread

Cooking has been a great asset to teaching my kids science, basic math, and nutrition. One of our recent studies was on a mostly-unicellular microorganism very familiar to the kitchen called yeast. The boys learned how to make gluten and dairy free bread using these dynamo fungi.

Cooking has been a great asset to teaching my kids science, basic math, and nutrition. One of our recent studies was on a mostly-unicellular microorganism very familiar to the kitchen — yeast. The boys learned how to make gluten and dairy free bread using these dynamo fungi.

After deciding to change our family to an anti-inflammatory diet, sandwich bread was a real issue. Our children enjoy a MANwich (the term they use for “sandwiches a man eats”) packed full of protein and an occasional piece of toast so I needed to find a healthy replacement.  The idea of making my own GF bread was a little intimidating but because many store-bought brands boast less nutrients than cardboard, I decided it was worth a shot. I am happy to say we (I say “we” because the kids have helped me tweak this original formula from Allrecipes) have created a tasty end result.  Our brood has tried the gamut of GF breads and in my opinion, this one beats them all!

This recipe is simple, quick to throw together, and uses whole grains. I have often heard it said that GF flours are “picky” but I have found this particular method very forgiving.  If you are on are the hunt for an alternative to wheat-based bread products, this is a great place to start!

GF bread flour and seeds

One of the best ways to keep GF flours and seeds organized is to store them in accessible containers with labels. Our grains have a high turn over rate so most of mine stay in the pantry.

Gluten-free and dairy-free bread (Makes 2 – 9×5 loaves)

Part 1:
2 2/3 cups brown rice flour  (OR 2 cups brown rice flour and 2/3 cup quinoa flour.)
1 1/3 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca flour (In the US, tapioca flour/starch are used interchangeably in most recipes.)
1 cup potato starch (NOT flour)
2 rounded Tbsp. xanthan gum
1/3 cup golden flaxseed meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. salt

Part 2:
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. unrefined coconut oil (melted)
5 eggs

Part 3:
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups water


Stand mixer with flat beater blade
Sauce pan
Small glass bowl
2 – 9×5 loaf pans

Grab a stand mixer (a good handheld would work if need be); measure and pour all of Part 1 ingredients into the mixing bowl.  Using the flat beater blade (no dough hook needed), premix the ingredients on low for a few seconds.

Measure and pour Part 1 ingredients into mixing bowl. Easy enough!

Measure and pour Part 1 ingredients into a mixing bowl. Easy enough!

Next, grab the saucepan, thermometer, small glass bowl, and Part 3 ingredients.  Mix water and sugar in pan on the stove and heat on medium-high until the temperature is between 105˚ and 110˚.  Once the liquid reaches the correct temperature, pour into a glass bowl.

Once heated, pour water into glass bowl and check the temperature.

Once heated, pour the water into a glass bowl and check the temperature again (105˚ – 110˚).

Now it’s time for my kids’ favorite part (okay, mine too); proofing the yeast (proving it is indeed going to work).  Add the yeast to the water and sugar mixture.  I give mine a little swirl with the thermometer and set the timer for 7 minutes.  (At this point you can either watch the yeast devour the sugar water or move on.)

While that’s proofing; start adding all of the Part 2 ingredients to the mixing bowl EXCEPT for the melted coconut oil.  As soon as the timer goes off, check the yeast.  It should look similar to this:

Microorganisms in action!

Microorganisms in action!

Add the yeast to the mixing bowl and then pour in the coconut oil last (make sure the oil is not too hot).

Add the yeast and then melted coconut oil (this keeps the coconut oil from hardening back up).

Add the yeast and then melted coconut oil (this keeps the coconut oil from hardening back up).

Start mixer on low speed; moving to a medium speed once all of the ingredients are wet.  Continue blending until it is thoroughly mixed (about 1 – 2 minutes).  Divide into two 9×5 GREASED loaf pans.  Using the back of a wooden spoon, smooth the dough into the pans (wet the spoon if it sticks).  This will help press out any air bubbles.

Ready to rise!  I added chia seeds this particular mix.

Ready to rise! I added chia seeds to this particular mix.

Set the bread pans on the stovetop or in a warm area and cover them with a dishtowel.  I like to preheat my oven to 375˚ while my bread is rising.  (Our house is usually cool and the added temperature makes better bread.)  Let the dough rise undisturbed for one hour.  (Tennis balls and slamming cabinets can have detrimental effects on rising bread.)

When the dough has completely risen, carefully remove the towel and bake GF bread in the oven for 25 minutes.  Once the time is up, continue cooking in five minute increments until the crust is dark brown.  Thump the top of the bread, checking for that distinct hollow sound.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

We usually end up eating almost an entire loaf as soon as it comes out of the oven but it cuts a lot cleaner when it has had time to cool completely.  At that point, slice your bread and store it in bread bags or Ziplocs in the freezer.  (If there is any heat in the bread when it goes into the freezer, the pieces will stick together.)


Will and I love seeds in our bread!  Unfortunately, my kids don’t.  Sometimes I will divide this recipe in half and make a loaf just for dad and mom with chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and quinoa flour.  In order to keep the bread from becoming too dry (chia seeds suck the moisture out), make sure and add an extra egg plus a few more tablespoons of either coconut or olive oil.  Here are my suggested changes below:

2 to 3 Tbsp. chia seeds
2 to 3 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
Instead of 2 2/3 cups brown rice flour, use just 2 cups brown rice flour and 2/3 quinoa flour.
Add one extra egg
Increase coconut oil to 1/3 cup or add 2 to 3 extra Tbsp. olive oil
Eliminate baking powder

(I have also experimented with pumpkin seeds.  Anything can be added to this recipe as long as the wet ingredients are increased.)


Cooking is a great way to teach kids a wide variety of skills. Not only do they enjoy it but it can be a big help for mom when she doesn't have time to spare in the kitchen that day.

Cooking is a great way to teach kids a wide variety of skills. Not only do they enjoy it but it can be a big help for mom when she doesn’t have time to spare in the kitchen that day.

The unattainable mom

She walks past smiling, hair swept up beautifully and make-up done to perfection, looking elegant in her stylish outfit; not even a hint of stains on her clothes or dirt underneath her manicured fingernails.  Close behind quietly marches several beautiful children, clean faces and tucked in shirts.  Something deep inside of us stirs…

If only…

If only we could be more like her.

Before the thought even has a chance to complete its course, Satan is putting the finishing touches on a long list of all of our shortcomings as a mother and is enjoying the opportunity to slowly point each one out to us.

We listen. 

Willingly, we take ownership of every accusation, every charge, every lie…


Since the arrival of our first child we have worked endlessly to be that mom; the one with the perfect marriage, who never finds herself swallowed in sadness or struggles to be joyful at times.  The one with unwavering patience, whose voice quietly speaks peace, never disciplining in anger.  The one whose children are always obedient.  The one who cooks perfect meals for her family gathered around the table, whose home is always clean and organized.  The one who effortlessly makes the right decisions, who has never sat in the bathroom floor crying in defeat.  The one who doesn’t understand what it means to feel lonely, being overwhelmed and unable to catch her breath.  The one who has it all together…

The one that doesn’t exist…

She is an imposter.

Created from our perception of other mothers, by the visual comparisons of what we see (or think we see), out of our desire for flawlessness; we fashion the unattainable mom and set ourselves up for failure.

“But you just seem like you always have it together.”

Well, I don’t.

I am a real mom.

A real mom who has struggled to make herself get out of bed, even with the happy voices of her babies waiting excitedly for her in the background.

A real mom who makes parenting mistakes daily and finds herself repeatedly apologizing to her children; a mom that has spent hours of her time agonizing over whether or not she’s “ruining her kids.”

I am a real mom who has grappled with post-partum depression, anxiety attacks, fear, and illness; a mom so desperate to “be better” for her family that she tried everything just to be that mom.

But I cannot ever be that mom because I am a real mom…

A real mom who has been broken, tears streaming down her face as she tried to figure out how she would survive the day and bring order to a house of chaos.

I am a real mom who has yelled, wanted to quit, and locked myself in a room until I could gain composure.

I am a real mom whose children have seen her cry, who hasn’t always smiled at just the right second, or taken the time slow down and just enjoy the moment.

A real mom who has experienced being overwhelmed, feeling alone, and afraid; a mom who has been a scrambled mess and unable to see which way is up.

I am a real mom whose biggest critic and enemy can be herself, who is sometimes scared of letting others see me being…


That other mom…she just does not exist.

I am a real mom and just like you, the perfect mom

The perfect mom God handpicked to raise our children–His children, here on earth.

The perfect mom called to help guide our kid’s hearts down the path God desires them to set foot upon in this life.

The perfect mom whose apologies teach humility and forgiveness, whose flaws reflect our deep need for Christ.

A perfect mom whose prayerful tears show Who it is we lean upon during difficult times, demonstrating perseverance through trials.

perfect mom that portrays what it means to be authentic; instructing them how to use their own hardships to become compassionate and understanding.

The perfect mom who by her example leaves no doubt in the minds of her children that they are never alone sheltered in the arms of their Creator.

He chose the perfect mom…

A mom who is made perfect in Christ.

May we always seek to grow and flourish in the role God purposed each of us for and not desire to be the unattainable mom.  As mothers, may we strive to be real with one another, continually sharing Truth and destroying Satan’s hold on our minds that we are isolated on our quest as the perfect mom.

Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

Psalm 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”


Release the Kraken

Encompassed by the sound of water lapping against a shore, the presence of rich humidity magnifying the aroma of damp earth, and thick vegetation, I was once again in a state of euphoria.  From somewhere far away the trill of a whip-poor-will carried through the forest.

Mere words lacked the ability to describe the display of lights that cascaded across the sky, bringing animation to a once desolate canvass.  Five distinct heavenly bodies continued to flash like shooting stars; their brilliance becoming more apparent with each passing moment.  Deep greens, pale yellows, and lastly, bright reds continued to command attention with their vibrant colors.

A whisper so quiet at first I had to strain to hear suddenly permeated through the night.  Struggling to find clarity in the utterance, I fought to pull myself away from the peaceful, trance-like state where my deeply submerged mind had discovered utter tranquility.

Wait a minute.  I knew that voice…

Liam Neeson

“Release the Kraken…!”  (cue crashing waves, high-pitched growls; and an oddly disproportioned, ginormous, plastic monster)

It’s 1:57 am.  No lake.  No floating in euphoria.

Zeus returns again, this time his stern proclamation reverberating loudly in my brain.

“Release the Kraken…!”

The blazing lights on the baby monitor glaring into my eyes at full force now, I stumble out of bed and try to mentally prepare myself for an event that has become increasingly common in the last few weeks.

“Maaamaaaaa…daaadyyyyy…!”  (cue thrashing covers, uncontrollable laughter; and a precious towheaded, blue-eyed, giggly goofball)

At this point I’d love to insert the analogy of Perseus swooping in astride Pegasus to save Andromeda but unfortunately, it’s more like Andromeda releasing the Kraken and preparing for self-inflicted punishment.

I can see through role reversal mom is definitely the unsung hero; now begins the WWF portion of this little rascal’s night in a magical arena called “Dad and Mom’s bed.”  Who is not excited about that approximately four hours before some of us even consider waking up?

First plan of action upon wedging himself between his parents?  An immediate flat-handed paddle drive into dad’s face, followed by a forehead rake, and subsequent nose jabs.  Not really sure who the culprit was that taught him those moves but I have a hankering that wrestle mania with the “Dadinator” has cultivated some serious karate skills.

Thankfully, we are seasoned veterans now and have consumed every “child sleep” manual on the market that outlines how to handle this type of situation.

  • Rule #1 of nighttime parenting:  Don’t make eye contact.  Institute The Ignore.

(Maybe that was #2.  There could have possibly been something about patting a child’s back until they fall asleep again…in their own bed.)

Rolling away from him now, we resume military style sleeping positions but it isn’t long before I can feel small portions of my hair slowly being pulled away…from…my head…Ouch!

(insert low-key, nice voice)

“Oh, that hurts mommy.  Don’t pull her hair.  Owie.”

Reeling my long locks back in I realize rule #1 (or possibly #2) has already been broken.  Flipping over I find myself gazing into a smile so big I can see white Chiclet teeth even in our pitch black room.  At this point it’s really hard not to engage with that sweet face.

But no, I refuse to be sucked into his schemes!  I immediately reinstitute The Ignore to the sounds of Will’s muffled laughter.

Tiny fingers pat my arm as a precious voice begins to hum himself to sleep. (Alright!  He’s utilizing “self-soothing” behaviors.  I’m pretty sure I read  about that somewhere.)  A minute or two passes and I find myself starting to relax again.

“Ow!”  Apparently I was hearing a pregame song he uses to pump himself up with.  The eye gouge and kidney smash had just been used simultaneously on Will.  It was my turn to chuckle.  Of course, I was certain the routine would find him on my side again in a few minutes.

(insert a more serious voice now)

“Okay, if you can’t go night-night, you will have to go back into your bed.”

  • Rule #3:  Never threaten with discipline you won’t actually enforce.  (Well, there goes another one.)

Who writes these books anyway?

  • Rule #4:  Scrap previous instructions and use your own.

Starting over now…

  • Rule #1:  Turn on the lights and give the child a drink while attempting to make them spew water out in laughter.
  • Rule #2:  Administer belly blows and kisses, while asking “What are you doing in my bed again?” in a silly voice.
  • Rule#3:  Turn off the light and share a few personal renditions of Twinkle-Twinkle, This Old Man, and possibly some Phillip Phillips or Jason Mraz.
  • Rule #4:  Catch and tickle any limbs caught in the act of kidney shots or tonsil checks.
  • Rule #5:  Blame your significant other for these nightly charades…it’s just so fun to wind them up sometimes!
  • Rule #6:  Soak up the fierce neck hugs and wet smooches.
  • Rule #7:  Spend time listening to their sweet little voices speaking on a stage of their own; sheltered in the darkness from the chaos of the day.
  • Rule #8:  Make a “toddler sandwich” with your spouse, holding hands while you both thank God for the blessing of family.
  • Rule #9:  After the first hour and a half, try and remember that they grow up fast and won’t be around to hang out in dad and mom’s bed anymore.

(Did I mention rule #9 is sometimes hard to reflect on at 3:30 am?)

And then lastly…

  • Rule #10:  Strap child to chest (think rollercoaster) with one arm while the other parent strokes their forehead, occasionally deflecting bicycle kicks until snoring sounds can be heard.


Release the cutie...

Release the cutie…