Book Review: That’s My Son

That’s My Son

by, Rick Johnson

photo credit

At the time of reading this book Joshua was 5, Joseph was 2 and Benjamin was a newborn. I have 3 boys (as of now) to help raise to become good Godly men and I feel as though I haven’t a clue how to do this! I bought a couple of books that looked like they might be helpful to start pointing me in some direction alongside prayer for God to show me what to do and say to my boys as I raise them.

I wasn’t too impressed with this book overall. I always have a little pet peeve when a book seems to be filled more with quotations from other authors than good information from the author who is actually writing the book. A majority of things I underlined came from other people’s books (so maybe that’s where I should go next in my readings?). There were a few subjects I disagreed with and found this book to be a lot more opinion based rather than Scripture based and Jesus exampled. This is really only the first book I have read to a mom about raising boys so I have a lot more learning to go in this area. My biggest take away is to remember whether raising a son or daughter or discipling an unrelated high school student or mentoring a fellow mom or goal in all of this is to help others become more like Jesus. What kind of a person was Jesus? What behaviors did he model? What example did He set for us? There is loads of wisdom right here from Jesus that can apply to raising a male or a female as we are both image bearers and are both called to model after Jesus’ behavior.

“… the energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal, decent males is responsible for much of what is right in the world. No one denies that boys’ aggressive tendencies must be checked and channeled in constructive ways. Boys need discipline, respect, and moral guidance. Boys need love and tolerant understanding.” p. 40 as quoted in the book The War Against Boys by, Hoff Summers

“… our goal is to raise a boy to be a man who is responsible for himself and others around him – a man who nurtures, provides for, protects, and leads his family courageously and accepts responsibility for his own actions.” p. 47

“Mothers, because of their nurturing tendencies, are often overprotective of their children. After all, it’s a mother’s job to civilize a boy. Without a man’s influence in this area, boys can end up failing to learn the valuable link between taking risks and attaining success in life. Getting hurt physically, failing, persevering, and succeeding (despite overwhelming odds) are key factors in a male’s growth towards manhood.” p. 49

“… as parents, [we] have been entrusted by God to protect our children’s innocence. I’m convinced that parents need to possess a godly jealousy that ruthlessly protects our children from evil.” p. 80 as quoted in Moments Together for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey

“By running too quickly to rescue their sons when things get tough, some moms are teaching their boys that the way out of hard times is to find someone (a woman) to get them off the hook rather than to be accountable to the one in authority and step up to the plate.” p. 105

“When we do not provide our adolescent boys with elders to become friends with, when we do not help guide them in their choice of friends, when we allow overreliance on the media to distract them from the bonding process, and when we push them (or allow them to gravitate) toward female bonding before they are emotionally ready (e.g., letting them date before they are sixteen or so), we make their emotional disadvantage into nearly an assurance of lifelong emotional immaturity.” p. 158 as quoted in A Fine Young Man by, Michale Gurian



Book Review: Be Fruitful and Multiply

Be Fruitful and Multiply

by, Nancy Campbell

Image result for be fruitful and multiply nancy campbellphoto credit

At the time of finishing this book I am due in 4 days with our 6th baby. My husband and I came to the conviction about two years into our marriage that we wanted to give God back the control over when to bring us children. I say give back the control because He should have always had the control in the first place but we tried to take the control into our hands by going on “birth control” to plan when would be most convenient for us to “start a family”. I started thinking that He could bring us a child even while we were on birth control if He really wanted. I started wondering when would be the best time to start having children. After I graduated? After I had a job lined up and we were more financially stable? After Adam made it with golf and was on tour? Etc.? Etc.? Well, I am so thankful the Lord did not allow me to stay in that place for long and that He also prepared my husband’s heart to be on the same page. We decided in December of 2007 to go off birth control and just allow God the complete stage to do what He wanted to do for our family. That exact moment we threw away the pills and decided together I felt this weight come off my shoulder that I didn’t even know I was carrying. I felt freedom and peace and joy; the kind you feel when you finally surrender an area of disobedience over to God and choose to walk down the narrow path He has called His believers to. We told a few close friends and most everyone’s response was “Oh you’ll get pregnant right away”. Well, another full year passed, all of 2008 and we were not pregnant. I began to wonder if we’d even have children. Was infertility in His plan for our life? Everyone said we’d get pregnant right away and it’s been 12 cycles of not getting pregnant. I wasn’t too stressed out since we were still young and busy starting careers but it was on the back of my mind. Finally after one year we got pregnant with our first child. It was such a joy to be surprised, that it wasn’t something we “planned” and this child would be born when we thought was the right time. It truly felt like a gift from God, a blessing. We have no control over the gender of our children and that is a fun surprise. For us it was another fun surprise to have no control over the timing of when we’d have our children. We are now 6 children in and each child has come about the same way… a complete surprise and accompanied with a feeling that we have received a surprise gift from God. His timing is perfect, He knows what we need and is ready to supply it for us. I am challenged as each pregnancy gets harder and more uncomfortable and the demands at home grow greater to remember God’s promises and His heart. I still want Him in control of our family because that’s what He knows is best. I don’t want to get to a place where I say “enough is enough, thank you for the blessings God but I don’t want any more gifts from you, I will take the control back from here.” My prayer lands here to continue trusting Him.

I really enjoyed this book and was thankful that I chose to read it at this time of my life. It helped remind me of God’s heart and what a blessing children truly are. I would recommend reading this book alongside Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit, whether you homeschool or not. It is one of the best books out there for mothering in general to remind you of the blessings your children are to you and not inconveniences. 

“Instead of becoming more and mightier, we are becoming less and less. Christians are having as few children as the world. Instead of obeying the Word of God, we have followed the trends of the world. There was a time when Christians believed God and equated children with blessings. But the world, which did not know God, found children a nuisance and hindrance to their lifestyle… the church forgot God’s plan for mankind and gradually succumbed to this humanistic trend.” p. 38

“Psalm 127:5 says, ‘Happy is the man who has his quiver full of children.’ It doesn’t say he’ll be ashamed. It doesn’t say he’ll be miserable. It says he will be happy! Does God lie?” p.71

“… every other ‘thing’ we strive after in this life is fleeting and will pass away. It is only our children that are lasting gifts that we will keep forever. We can take them into eternity with us. Everything else will be left behind.” p. 71

“Satan… knows that if he can limit the arrows from the Christian parents, he can limit the light that will expose his darkness. He can limit the truth that will expose his deceptions. He can limit the arrows that will destroy his works! Yes, the enemy is scared of the godly seed. He is out to destroy it by any means he can.” p. 80

“Although we may feel that ‘our way’ is best for us now, it is not always the best in the long run. Obedience to God’s ways, even when we feel they don’t suit us and it is contrary to everything we want to do, will always lead us to the ultimate blessing. Proverbs 28:26 says, ‘He that trusts in His own heart is a fool’…” p. 117

Philippians 4:19 “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

“The birth control movement was heralded and made public by Margaret Sanger… who… promoted blatant sexual promiscuity… the elimination of inferior races… Contraception, sterilization, and abortion were the perfect methods for getting rid of these ‘human weeds.'” p. 151 (Planned Parenthood was also founded by Sanger)

“Margaret Sanger says, ‘Birth control appeals to the advanced radical because it is calculated to undermine the authority of the Christian churches. I look forward to seeing humanity free someday of the tyranny of Christianity…'” p. 153

“As Christians, we have tried to separate contraception and sterilization from the issue of abortion. But they all have the same purpose. In fact, abortion is a back-up plan to eliminate life if contraception and sterilization are not successful. It is interesting that Satan, who comes with his three-pronged attack to ‘steal, kill, and destroy,’ exposes his ‘elimination life program’ with another threesome of ‘contraception, sterilization, and abortion.'” p. 154

“Dear precious mother, don’t despise the gift that God has given you. You have been ordained to nurture and bring forth life. You are a life-giver. This is the most awesome privilege in the whole of the world.” p. 165

“The progestin in the Combination Pill, and the solely progestin in the Mini-pill, cause the lining of the womb to become thin and shriveled, so when a newly conceived baby tries to implant in the womb, it cannot because the endometrium is shriveled up.” p. 172

“… the primary action of the IUD is to prevent implantation of the week-old new human life in its embryo stage or development…” p. 174

“If we are honest, we must confess that we do not allow God to have control over our reproduction, Even though He is the one who designed and created the womb, we do not want Him to have any control over it.” p.181

Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

101 Reasons Why Mother’s Love Having Children (my favorites from the list):

  • I am honored for the Lord to use my womb again
  • I love to see the faces of my children as they see a new brother or sister for the first time
  • Babies teach the older children so much about caring for little ones, being kind, protective, and unselfish
  • I become a better mother with each child I have
  • Children teach me patience
  • More children give us the opportunity to have our faith increased as we see God meet our daily needs
  • The more children we have, the more impact we have upon the world
  • We want to establish a godly dynasty that will continue down the generations to come
  • Having children helps to develop in us the godly character of servanthood
  • My children help me surrender the selfish desires of my flesh
  • Children help me see my daily dependence on God for His wisdom and strength
  • I want to yield my womb as a living sacrifice to God
  • Our children have taught me the value of relationships and the shallowness of the world’s value system
  • I trust God in all other areas of my life and I want to trust Him in the area of having children, too
  • Children teach me to become a servant, and that’s what Jesus wants us to be. Jesus Himself said He came to serve rather than to be served
  • To be convicted of sin and the need for repentance as I observe my sinful nature in my children’s sinful natures
  • Having children causes us to depend upon God moment by moment!


Benjamin Dedication Photo

Halfway Review of Bigger Hearts: 2018

There is a time and a season for everything. One of the beauties of homeschooling is change. I am seeing that different seasons in our lives require different looks to our homeschool days. I was well advised through some wonderful blogs in my early homeschool journey that if something is not working then change it. Don’t get caught up in what you already had planned or spent or were recommended to do. Pray over your curriculum choices and continuing praying as the homeschool year goes on. Be open to the Spirit’s guidance and what God knows is best for your family. This is something not available in traditional school. If something is not working for your child it is extremely difficult to get the help they need and changing curriculum is not going to be an option.

I have been sensing from God that our time with Heart of Dakota may be drawing to an end. At least for moving forward with their manuals. I may still be using the previous manuals for my littles and something different for my olders. When people ask me how our first semester went this year my initial response is it felt like we were just dragging along. Each day I was trying to get the “important” things done and out of the way and it would usually be full of nagging and we’d be so exhausted once it was done I lost motivation and the kids were too distracted to want to do any of the “activities”. Then we were experiencing frustration with many activities just not turning out the way we wanted them to which aided in the lack of desire to complete them in the first place.

I began praying for God to show me what I was trying to keep in our days that were not helpful or necessary and what were the more important things to keep and what was I missing. Every day I highlighted on our to-do checklist what didn’t get done and it was always the same topics: science, history, alternating activity and read aloud. What needed improvement in these areas for our homeschool day? I tried changing them to different time blocks and orders and still found myself with the same struggle.

I thought about adding back in FIAR for my 4 and 6 year old and my 8 year old really enjoyed tagging along in addition to her Bigger Hearts work. We tried it for about 2 weeks but again it wasn’t the right addition. It was too much extra work for me to plan and frustrated our schedule even more as now my 8 year old was adding extra work and we still weren’t getting done what was on her checklist for school each day.

So here’s what I started doing. I started swapping some things out to things that looked more interesting to us.

  • Apologia Science Young Explorer’s Series: we were not enjoying the One Small Square science reading and activities and I have heard a lot about Apologia and came across these young explorer’s series. We splurged on black friday when they had a sale and bought the Anatomy & Physiology books.
  • The Mystery of History Vol I: I have not purchased this yet but have done a lot of research on it and love the way it looks to be set up. History is another area that I am finding we are bored of from Bigger Hearts. The activities don’t always turn out well for us and the readings seem to bounce all over the place I have a hard time organizing them in my mind as to what is happening when. I love the thought of teaching biblical history alongside world history instead of as two separate entities. I also love that this history is set up as a complete curriculum with activities and additional reading options.
  • Discover 4 Yourself (Precepts Ministry) Bible Study: We often skipped the bible study/verse memorization section of Bigger Hearts because of our commitment to Awana. We spent a lot of time reading through the Awana books and completing extra assignments and verse memorization each day. The bible study through Bigger was good the first couple of weeks but then Amelia got a hang of it and it seemed like it covered the same things each week and she started to get bored. I still wanted her to begin the practice of actual bible study. I just completed my first Precepts Inductive Bible Study by Kay Arthur and had noticed her bible study resources for kids and really wanted my 8 year old to check it out. So we got online and I let her pick out whichever study sounded most interesting to her. She picked out the study on Daniel. This we have already started and I absolutely love it! I am learning a lot alongside her too. I love these because they are perfect for her age but could also go a lot deeper for an older kid as well.
  • Logic of English: HOD has you pick out your own phonics program and we have loved Logic of English. It combines spelling, grammar, phonics and learning to read all in one and I have learned so much about English that I never knew.
  • Singapore Math: HOD uses Singapore math and I have had no complaints. We will stick with this.
  • I also like the Cheerful Cursive handwriting book they use although we also practice cursive with Logic of English and I do like the Rod & Staff Grammar books.
  • The other thing I really like about HOD is their Drawn Into the Heart of Reading program and the book list they have in the back of the manual for the different genres as well as the prompting questions and activities to fill out as you and your student read.

So after evaluating all of this and replacing most of the stuff in the manual I began to realize I really wasn’t going to be following the manual for much. I have not piecemealed a curriculum since the Preschool ABC days and here’s where the seasons come into play that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I had the time and energy and excitement to piecemeal the ABC curriculum but as we moved and had more babies I needed to spend less time putting things together and needed an already put together curriculum that I could just follow and go. That’s when I found Heart of Dakota. It really helped me get an idea of what to fit in each day and how much time to spend on different subjects and what not to leave out. It has been the perfect fit for this past season of our lives. I think we are heading into a new season where now that I’ve got a few years of homeschooling under my belt and am starting to grasp what works for our family I think I can put these different curriculums together to make what really goes well for us.

I don’t know yet when we are going to implement this. We are going to have a baby in 5 days so definitely not right now and not in the next couple of months I would assume. We may start once I feel up to full school days again or maybe we’ll wait through the summer and start in Fall. Another beauty of homeschool… we’ll be doing something but we get to decide what and when as long as we’re ensuring our kiddos are learning and having fun!


How Many Unread Books Are On Your Bookshelf?

So I looked through my book shelf as well as my Kindle “shelf” to calculate how many books I have collected and not read over the last 15 or so years. I am now more than ever determined to try to just read them instead of purchasing any more books! I have 60 books on my shelf! 60! And 68 Kindle books! That’s 128 books I have thought “hmmm, this will be good to read” and purchased and just left on my shelf. To my defense there are a few given to me for free and some that are too good of a deal at the thrift store to pass up and most of the Kindle ones were free downloads but still… 128 books. Okay and that’s actually not all of them… that’s just the Christian non-fiction books. I am not even going to bother calculating how many fiction books I have on my shelf and Kindle. So let’s just say I can average 1 book per month (which is a challenge for me in this stage of my life) it would take me 10 1/2 years to read all of these books! 10 1/2 years… so should I rename this page Reading List 2018-2028 ?!?! Amelia will be a Senior in high school and this baby who will be born next week will be 10 years old. So anyways, I’m not sure how I’m going to battle this plan and/or if I really am but I have something to evaluate and that is my hoarding of books and not reading them and I will see where this journey takes me. The list below are books I am already in the middle of reading and I am going to add to the list as the year progresses instead of trying to pick out books for the year in advance. I also know that I will have to be okay with not finishing a book if it’s leading me in a direction that is not where God wants me to go. There are not a lot like that but I will be praying for sensitivity to the Spirit in leading me to which book to read.




Christian Growth:

  • The Other Side of Infamy – James Downing (Kindle check-out through library. I met this incredible man who is one of the original founders of the Navigators as well as the last living Pearl Harbor survivor… he is 104 years old. I couldn’t not read his book after meeting him!)
  • Growing Deep – Chuck Swindoll (I found I was only halfway done with this and remember it being a good book so I will finish this one first.)
  • The Possibilities of Prayer – E.M.Bounds (Another one I was only halfway done with; I have this on paperback as well as Kindle which is always good for reading while feeding a newborn late at night… one handed and lit up.)

Bible Study:

  • Immersed – Katie Orr (This is a friend of a friend who wrote this study. Another I only finished half of but really liked it. Once the baby is a little older and I will have my hands free to write bible study notes I will finish this one. They do not make any more copies of this particular study but her other Focused15 studies are worth looking into.)

It is also worth noting that I found 7 Bible studies on my shelf I have not completed. Beth Moore, Henry Blackaby, Precepts. All are great studies and I remember with each of them I found them at a thrift store and/or church garage sale for free or a small price and those are diamonds in the rough for me. But as with the books, now I need to get down to doing them!


And if everything above is not too much already what about podcasts? Podcasts are great to listen to when doing housework and driving on roadtrips or back/forth to work or up to Denver as well as exercising at the gym. I have about 5 I subscribe to and will load up my iPod before a road trip and recently loaded up also in anticipation of late night baby feedings when I need something to stimulate my mind but maybe want my eyes closed at the same time :  ) Here’s my list:

  • James MacDonald
    • Prayer Series (15 podcasts)
    • Holy Spirit Series (14 podcasts)
  • Chip Ingram
    • The Real God Series (16 podcasts)
    • Jesus Unfiltered Series (41 podcasts)

The Bible:

I am adding this at the end although it really should be at the beginning. I also know that the meat of my learning does not necessarily come from the latest book I read but rather from the Word of God itself. I do not want to overlook this as I have in the past and notice a significant difference when I’m just reading books but not the Bible. I love working through different plans from Blue Letter Bible. I read through the bible chronologically (in 3 years instead of 1 year!) and really enjoyed that chronological aspect. Now I’m reading the OT and NT together which I also like going back and forth.

Now I’ve also got Dr. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible commentary books and also subscribe to his podcasts and have referenced them on occasion but have always wanted to commit to being on “The Bible Bus” at some point in my life which is a 5 year commitment.


Managing Gestational Diabetes

I have had Gestational Diabetes for 3 of my 6 pregnancies. Always with the boys… strange huh! Diabetes runs in my family so I was already at a risk and I’ve always known I would face it at some point in my life. My first pregnancy it wasn’t too bad… that was 7 years ago. The second time around didn’t seem too bad either except my baby was almost 10 lbs! I quickly learned you can still gain a lot of weight eating healthy. I went into a mentality of overindulging on the things I could eat out of depression for all the things I couldn’t eat.

The third time was very challenging but very rewarding. I found out I had failed my glucose test when we were on our first road trip for the summer and I knew another 2 1/2 week long road trip was just a few weeks away. I did not want to travel and not be able to indulge and eat what I wanted! What was I going to do not being able to pig out on candy in the car and having to ask for salads every time we ate out instead of that delicious burger and fries! But God knew what He was doing and I only gained 1 lb while on vacation for 2 1/2 weeks! I am certain if I had eaten the way I wanted I would’ve gained at least 10 lbs indulging everywhere we went. I remember one night everyone came home from dinner and complained about how full they felt and not feeling too good, I could not relate! I actually felt good and light and it felt good to feel that way!

I felt like I finally got things in order with that pregnancy. I was forced to a little more than the previous two as my blood sugars continued to get higher the more pregnant I became. Eventually I ended up on Glyburide as my diabetes was no longer able to be controlled by diet and exercise and I needed a little external help. That was interesting as I really didn’t like the way Glyburide made me feel and I did suffer from some hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) episodes and found myself often having to eat just to keep my blood sugar up even though I wasn’t hungry. My body had gotten pretty used to smaller portions and low carb intake and when I started the Glyburide I was on the lowest dose possible but it still seemed like just a little too much I had to add more carbs back in than I was used to. It was all a balancing act. This baby was 6 lbs 12 oz … the smallest of all 5 babies and in all honesty my body felt better than the previous couple of pregnancies because of the exercise I had been faithful to do and the smaller amount of weight I gained and just the overall healthy eating choices I was making. However, it was so much work and in the midst of it I had a lot of moments of frustration and annoyance that I couldn’t just eat whatever I wanted and that I had to keep tracking my intake so closely and sometimes it seemed like no matter what I did it wasn’t working. The grass is always greener on the other side right ; )

I wanted to share some of the diet plans I followed and important things I learned for best managing the diabetes. I really and truly believe that a diabetic diet is the diet for EVERYONE! Don’t do any of this no carb, high protein, so many day cleanse, etc. diets. God made you to have a lifestyle… not a diet and He wants that lifestyle to be well rounded and healthy. Your body needs everything out there in moderation and with exercise to function normally… do not deprive your body of something because someone somewhere thought it might be a cool new fad.

I read through this book called Real Food for Gestational Diabetes by, Lily Nichols who also has a website. I really enjoyed her book and suggest it as a good reference book.

Here are some of the biggest tips I learned:

  • always pair carbs with proteins – proteins help your body to process the carbs so have some PB with your banana or some eggs with your toast
  • eat small portions and eat every 2-3 hours – this helps keep your blood sugar stabilized; it is not good to have 3 humongo meals every day then you go from low to high to low to high – this part gets very challenging, especially when you’re on the go because it can be hard to commit to eating every 2-3 hours but that’s when finding some smart snacks both for at home and on the go can be helpful
  • exercise! exercise will help your body process carbs as well and it just feels good
  • do not buy products claiming to be “sugar free” or “low carb” – it usually is a lie! It is most likely sweetened with some type of artificial sweetener that is not any better for you and can actually be worse especially when you’re pregnant; stick with eating whole foods as much as possible and avoid most prepackaged food; all it is really is a marketing scheme and you need to watch out! Sucralose and Aspartame find themselves snuck into the most unlikely things (i.e. multi-grain english muffins, certain brands of low carb tortillas – who would’ve known!) so just be careful and read labels

Parameters and Menu Ideas:

  • Pre-Breakfast Snack:
    • I typically wake up 1 -2 hrs before my kiddos do so I can have some Bible reading time and exercise before everyone wakes up and the demands start ; ) However, I wasn’t ready to have two breakfasts and I didn’t want to take Glyburide this early but I needed something so every morning I would drink decaf coffee with a hard boiled egg and babybel cheese… zero carbs but protein to get my day started and have energy to exercise
  • Breakfast: 15-30 G Carbs (Blood Glucose <130 1 hr after)
  • Snack: 15-30 G Carbs
    • Sliced sweet peppers w/string cheese
    • Apple w/PB
    • Banana w/PB
    • Graham cracker w/PB
    • Veggies w/ranch
  • Lunch: 45-60 G Carbs (Blood Glucose <130 1 hr after)
    • Dave’s thin slice bread sandwiches – these have almost half the carbs in one slice as any other regular loaf of bread (lunch meat, tuna salad, chicken salad, BLT, grilled cheese w/avocado and bacon and an over easy egg)
    • Salads w/some kind of protein (chicken, ham, beans) and one slice of toast
    • Low carb quesadilla made w/cheese and a veggie burger patty (find a low carb tortilla that is not artificially sweetened)
    • Sandwich Thins Pizzas (marinara sauce, mozz cheese and whatever toppings on top of a sandwich thin and broiled for a couple mins.)
    • Chicken sausage w/some sides (veggies, fruit, roll, piece of toast, etc.)
  • Snack: 15-30 G Carbs
    • I got hooked on La Croix! I joined the club! The afternoon time I would always want something sweet to drink and this helped me a lot. It also helped on that road trip I mentioned… instead of eating hard candies in the car I kept a cup of ice and refilled it with sparkling water to slowly sip as we drove along
    • Cottage cheese w/nut and seed crackers
    • Tuna w/crackers
    • Handful of nuts
    • Almond clusters or coconut clusters (sold at Sam’s)
    • Nature Valley Protein Bars
    • FiberOne Bars
    • Sargento Balanced Breaks
    • Tomato & Cucumber salad w/mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
    • Cheese & Beef Jerky Sticks
  • Dinner: 45-60 G Carbs (Blood Glucose <130 1 hr after)
    • No list here but basically anything I would normally cook but smaller portions and leaving out the roll on the side and the glass of milk. I learned to modify based on what we were eating. If it was a pasta dish I’d leave it out, if it was fish and veggies I could add it in.
  • Snack: 15-30 G Carbs
    • After dinner when the kiddos are in bed and the hubby and I are watching TV I am always so tempted to veg. The diabetic diet does suggest a “before bed” snack and I found these ones to help with my “vegging” cravings:
    • Oikos Greek Yogurt – this became my bowl of ice cream : ) strawberry, black cherry or blueberry and with no artificial flavoring and lots of protein!
    • Graham cracker w/chocolate almond butter and a slice of banana
    • FiberOne Dessert Bars

These were a few of my favorite on the go snacks

Preparing for Baby and Multiple Siblings

Image result for crazy mom with lots of kids

photo credit

Nesting… I remember nesting with some of my first kiddos. It was fun to set up nursery areas, bassinets, setting out blankets, diapers, etc. and picturing the baby occupying all these places. Well, now we’re down to logistics. How in the world are we going to add a sixth baby to the family?!?! How are the other 5 going to be taken care of during the initial post-partum period? I’ve got some things nailed down now with it being the sixth but at the same time it doesn’t matter if it’s #2 or #6 it’s still a change to the family and an addition and all the other kiddos are at different stages and need different things. My primary focus in this last month of pregnancy as I “nest” and prepare for baby to come is how to help the other 5 kids become as independent as possible once baby comes : ) Meal planning, homeschool help, chore charts, etc. I must say these are some challenges I do enjoy battling as I learn from others and research ideas (thank you Pinterest!) on how to manage these areas. This post-partum period will also be different as my mom is not able to come for a couple of weeks to help out. This is a bummer as she usually cooks and cleans on top of entertaining the kiddos and she’s done it now enough they’ve all got a good feel for what it’s like when she comes. We will have my mother-in-law come stay with the kiddos while I stay in the hospital then it’ll be dada duty for 1 week, then sister-in-law duty for 5 days, then our favorite babysitter who moved away : ( duty for another 5 days then we’re on our own!!! So I’ve been planning and organizing to make it easier for them to manage the household while I’m resting and for my sanity when everyone leaves.

My first area to battle: MEAL PLANNING

I have been learning all about this new concept of meal prep and non-sandwich lunchbox ideas. I saw the idea awhile back with my favorite large family homeschool mom’s blog adopting the lunchbox idea and stating how much of a lifesaver it is to prepare lunches in advance so there is not as big of an interruption in their homeschool day. I had not adopted the idea but am planning to implement it now : ) So the gist is I purchased these “bento boxes” from Amazon and researched on Pinterest all of the pins about kids lunch box ideas and created my own list from their ideas as well as what we already like to eat. My list is broken up by: main dish, dairy, fruit, veggie, filler. Instead of matching them all up I just listed them out and then I will print it out and put it on my fridge for reference. I plan to start this next week with spending one night and setting up the boxes in the fridge so the next day or two we can just pull out the lunch box for lunch and it’s all set up and prepared. I will pick from the categories based on what I have on hand. If they’re a hot main dish then we can just scoop them out to reheat or reheat in the container if there’s not anything else in the small sections that need to stay cold. We’ve already started this week and so far it’s been going great!

IMG_5402Breakfast has been a slightly new thing and all I’m doing to prepare is moving cereal containers and bowls to a lower shelf and making sure my freezer is stocked with our normal stock of banana bread, zucchini muffins and baked oatmeal muffins among a few other breakfast recipes. I have added breakfast items to the lunch list I will print out and post on the fridge for our helpers to know what we have available for the kids to eat.

IMG_5403The other portion of meal planning has been breakfast and dinners. The dinners I’ve got down pat with a list of freezer meals I’ve used in the past as well as easy to cook dinners. I did want to mention in my research I learned not to take frozen chicken, unthaw it, cook it and refreeze it for your meals. If you’re going to use chicken to make in your freezer meals it should be fresh chicken.

  • Easy to cook dinners:
    • Spaghetti
    • Fish Stick Tacos
    • Shredded Chicken Quesadillas
  • Baked Chicken Taquitos
  • Broiled Chicken (I cut some up to add to my salads for a meal and kept some as breasts to eat on their own or add to something later on)
  • Crockpot Dump Recipes (I’ve never done these before but keep seeing them on my Pinterest feed and thought they looked perfect to try for welcoming this new baby):
  • Prepared Casseroles (this is my normal method for freezer cooking – when I make a loved casserole dish I double it and throw one in the freezer for a couple months down the road):
    • Tuscan Chicken Pasta (I used this website for help planning)
    • Macaroni and Cheese (my hubby likes the Noodles & Co. dish with BBQ sauce and shredded chicken so I plan on him just adding that to his portion of this casserole)
    • Baked Ziti
    • Baked Spaghetti
    • Mexican Cornbread Casserole
    • Enchiladas

My to-do list for freezer cooking. This includes some breakfast, lunch and dinner items.

My second area to battle: CHORE CHARTS

We have used the same chore charts for awhile now but I do tend to get a little lazy with the monitoring required and we end up backing off for awhile and then after I get a little overwhelmed with some things around the house I want to pick it up again. I also had started reading Managers of Their Chores and haven’t finished it yet but was wanting to implement some of their ideas. I found at this point I’m just going to stick with what we’ve got since it does work well when we’re on top of it and hope for the best. I don’t want to ask for too much change right before the baby comes. Our chore charts are a simple Word graph that has the day of the week on the left side and the chore on the top. We print it out each week and tape it to the fridge and the kiddos add stickers to each chore they complete for that day. I also use it as a reminder for some things that don’t get done if we don’t have school that day (i.e. practice Awana verses, read for 20 mins., etc.). At the end of the week we add up all the stickers and the kiddos get a penny per sticker for chore chart money. I have also added some 25 cent chores, some are required and some are extra help if they’re trying to save up for something. Some of these examples are empty dishwasher, empty shoe box, sweep, etc. I assigned the older kiddos a day to set the table and clean up from breakfast or lunch. I am hoping this will help when other people are here for the baby and I can just quickly remind the kids or they can remind them to do their morning chores or it’s their day to clean up from meals, etc. Our biggest challenge is going back to the charts and putting the stickers on so they can get their money at the end of the week. I started telling them when they’ve completed a chore to immediately go put their sticker on and by the end of the night they should finish their bedtime routine with going downstairs and putting their remaining stickers on and if this does not get done they won’t get the credit for that day. We’ll see how it goes!


An example of one of our chore charts in the works…

My third area to battle: HOMESCHOOL

Now I can find an excuse every month it seems as to why we’re falling behind in homeschool. Which, what is falling behind really? Are the kids learning and growing in their knowledge appropriate to their age stages? Is it my to-do list I’ve created which usually is too lengthy for all the kids anyways that is not getting completed daily and that’s the dictator of falling behind? Either way since we just are coming off of a break for Christmas I am not wanting them to sit out for the next 3-6 weeks or however long it may be and not do school entirely. BUT, it would be challenging to ask my husband, MIL, SIL and nanny for the first 3 weeks to pick up where we left off and continue on our curriculum. So… I am trying to create a basic list much like some of the summer homeschool lists I’ve seen out there for the kids to work through each day with some assistance from whoever is around. Amelia, Josh and Lydia can easily have someone help them accomplish 1-2 pages from their math workbooks each day. In fact we have some Comprehensive Curriculum books laying around from last summer that never got completed and I have been working on tearing out the incompleted pages and moving them to a 3 prong notebook and flagging the different sections for each kiddo to do 1-2 pages of each day. That covers math, phonics, critical thinking and handwriting. Then someone (even myself for that matter) can sit and read with Amelia and Josh each day for 20 mins. to get some reading practice in. I always try to complicate things but have been praying for God to show me how to simplify and still get things accomplished.

That about sums it up! Those 3 areas have been my main focus of nesting as we prepare these next 3 weeks for the baby to come. I am so excited to meet this little one and I have high hopes that instead of just taking some weeks off and letting the kids run around the house wild with no direction that with this planning and preparation we can maintain a fairly new normal life and all be happy! We’ll see how it goes!

Book Review: Experiencing God

Book Review: Experiencing God

by, Henry T. Blackaby & Claude V. King

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I really enjoyed this book and some day hope to do the bible study. In fact the ideas in this book are what opened my eyes to see that God was asking me to host a women’s bible study in my home for a season of my life. I was not wanting to host and plan but it was clear that God was trying to get my attention to His will and not my own hopes and desires, which was to join a bible study that was already in progress that was on the perfect morning and with childcare… and didn’t exist!

This is a book I had heard a lot of and found awhile back at a thrift store for pretty cheap. It’s always interesting to me when I find books that have inscriptions at the front from being given to someone and they’ve chosen to give it away. This book happened to be given to a Joshua from his grandparents. I feel like I’m invading their privacy a little bit but I also appreciate whoever gave the book away that they gave it away instead of just throwing it away. So here I am, invading privacy but thankful for finding a good book at discount : )

“… we do not find God’s will – it is revealed. God always takes the initiative.” p. x

“I dreamed great dreams of what I was going to do for God… this time I would not try to work my own plans. I refused to dream my own dreams of what I would do for God… then we watched to see where God was at work so we could join Him.” p. xi

“The Scripture says that God’s very nature is love. God can never function contrary to His own nature… Because His nature is love, I am always confident that however He expresses Himself to me is always best.” p. 17

“Your relationship with God right now reveals what you believe about Him. It is spiritually impossible for you to believe one way and practice another.” p. 19

“No matter how big the assignment He gives you, He is able to accomplish His purposes through you.” p. 24

” ‘What is God’s will for my life?’ is not the best question to ask. I think the right question is simply, ‘What is God’s will?’ Once I know God’s will, then I can adjust my life to Him and His purposes… the plan He has for your life is based on what He is doing in His world… His desire is for you to become involved in what He is doing.” p. 29

“Sometimes individuals are so busy doing things they think will help God accomplish His purpose that He can’t get their attention long enough to use them as servants to accomplish what He wants. We often wear ourselves out and accomplish very little of value to the kingdom.” p. 30

“If you are experiencing a time of fruitlessness right now, you may be trying to do things on your own that God has not initiated.” p. 30

“Don’t, however, focus on your talents, abilities, and interests in determining God’s will. I have heard so many people say, ‘I would really like to do that; therefore, it must be God’s will.’ That kind of response is self-centered. We need to become God-centered instead. When He is Lord, your response should be something like this: ‘Lord, I will do anything that Your kingdom requires of me…” p. 32 (this reminds me of so many Biblical characters… Moses and Mary are the first two to come to mind).

“He is more likely to call you to follow one day at a time than He is to spell out all the details before you begin to obey Him.” p. 35


  1. God is always at work around you.
  2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
  3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
  4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
  5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
  6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
  7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

“He does not ask us to dream our dreams for Him and then ask Him to bless our plans. He is already at work when He comes to us. His desire is to get us from where we are to where He is working.” p. 55

“When the love relationship is right, God will be free to begin giving you assignments at His initiative. Whenever you do not seem to be receiving assignments from God, focus on the love relationship and stay there until the assignment comes.” p. 72

“The common approach to spiritual gifts also can become very self-centered, rather than God-centered, if you take the initiative to decide on an assignment that you think fits you.” p. 73

“Moses’ success was not dependent on Moses’ skills, abilities, likes, preferences, or past successes. God first gave Moses an assignment, and then God equipped him with His Holy Spirit to administrate and lead… God was at work through Moses doing things Moses could not do on his own.” p. 74

“… thinking that God gives them some thing – like an ingredient called administration. No, He doesn’t give some thing; He gives Himself. The Gift is a Person. The Holy Spirit equips you with His administrative ability.” p. 76 (or whatever spiritual gift you need for the task He’s calling you to)

“The smaller assignments of God are always used of God to develop character. God always develops character to match His assignment. If God has a great assignment for you, He has to develop a great character to match that assignment before He can give you the assignment.” p. 148

“If I have been working and praying in one direction and I see God working in a different direction, I adjust my life to what God is doing… decide whether you are going to do what you want and ask God to bless it, or go to work where He is working.” p. 180

… we pray and then never relate anything that happens to our praying. After you pray, the greatest single thing you need to do is turn on your spiritual concentration. When you pray in a direction, immediately anticipate the activity of God in answer to your prayer.” p. 180

“Sometimes God is silent as He prepares to bring you into a deeper understanding of Himself. Whenever a silence comes, continue doing the last thing God told you and watch and wait for a fresh encounter with Him.” p. 183

“If you put yourself in the middle of the circumstances and try to look at God, you will always have a distorted understanding of God.” p. 189

“You may face a situation like Job experienced where God does not tell you what He is doing. In those instances acknowledge God’s love and sovereignty and depend on His sustaining grace to see you through the situation.” p. 192

“… if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, I know it probably is not from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do because He wants to demonstrate His nature, His strength, His provision, and His kindness to His people and to a watching world.” p. 220

“You cannot obey Him unless you believe and trust Him. You cannot believe and trust Him unless you love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him.” p. 250

“Although obedience is costly, it is always worth the cost. In fact whenever you are tempted to consider the cost too high, you need to consider what it will cost you not to do the will of God. That cost is even greater.” p. 261



Bigger Hearts and Little Hearts 2017-2018 School Year

This is going to be a fun and “interesting” year for us. Each year I feel more and more justified in saying we homeschool. It gets a little more intense and the education continues to increase which is so much fun. As I began planning out this year that looked normal and free from any schedule challenges I woke up at 3 AM on the 4th of July with round ligament pain… followed by a positive pregnancy test for #6 due in February! This is what I do love about homeschool because we just go with the flow. There will be another break in our schedule where my children get to learn again and experience again the joys of childbirth and welcoming home a new addition to the family and all the care, changes and even challenges that come with it. These are all incredible things for my children to learn from a young age that they would miss out on if we all went our separate ways and away from the family all day. That’s a very positive outlook : ) I also am challenged in how to homeschool my children with a 3 year old destroying the house, a 1 year old learning to walk, myself going through the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy and have a NB join in on this mess. God is trying to help me see the blessings in this challenge as well and the character growth He wants to do in my life. I am grateful for these challenges and pray that God keeps me here in this gratefulness in the midst of those days and moments where I feel like a crazy lady wondering what on earth God is doing in my life!

Back to the school planning:

  • Amelia will be 8 in October and in 2nd Grade – Bigger Hearts for His Glory and 1 day a week in the Arts program at a Homeschool Academy
  • Joshua will be 6 in October and in Kindergarten – Little Hearts for His Glory and 1 day a week in the STEM program at a Homeschool Academy
  • Lydia will be 4 1/2 and in Pre-K – Little Hearts for His Glory combined with Joshua
  • Joseph will be 3 in January and in “try not to destroy the house and whine too much while school is going on yet still feel included and loved” lessons
  • Benjamin will be 1 in November and in “hopefully sleeping for most of school hours or playing quietly and not learning to walk or crawl up the stairs too quickly” lessons
  • Baby #6 will be incubating hopefully gestational diabetes free style and due in February!

We started doing Logic of English last year after a lot of recommendations for a phonics program that taught how to read, how to spell, how to handwrite and grammar/phonics rules. It seemed all the different programs I tried was really good at one but was missing the others and I didn’t want to miss anything or require 3 different programs. LOE is all in one and it is so much fun! The kids actually really enjoy it so even though there is not a requirement to continue phonics in Bigger Hearts we are continuing to move through it to reinforce cursive handwriting as well as rules to phonogram sounds that are pretty advanced.

After a few weeks I am going to introduce some Spanish. I just picked up these Teach Them Spanish workbooks and we’ve got some other worksheets. I have a minor in Spanish (that is quickly fading) but I want the kiddos to know this language as it is so common today and I don’t know the best way to teach it but will start here. I think Rosetta Stone may be in our future but not this year.

And we are working through Piano Adventures for teaching piano as well. We started this last year and liked it so we will continue that as well.

Last year I printed all my planning sheets and spiral bound them. It worked pretty good, I liked the feel of it but just as I was afraid of we made some changes and then I couldn’t change the sheets since they were all printed. This year I am going back to my clipboard that will house the planning sheet for that week, my year long calendar sheet, my excel daily schedule plan, my daily school routine sheet and once I find a good homeschool prayer sheet or make one I will add that. I think I will like going back to this again too because I found a couple times last year I had some supplemental sheets I tucked into my spiral bound planner but they would fall out or the sides would get bent so this way I can add them to the clipboard and go with it.

Here is my planning sheet for Amelia for Bigger Hearts. I made this on Microsoft Word. I already revised it once from the first week. Tuesday is missing as she is at Homeschool Academy that day for an enrichment day. Wednesday is a little different as Joshua is at Homeschool Academy and Lydia will take the day off so it’ll just be me and Amelia doing school that day. So I’ve added in certain sections when I need to do two of a certain subject since it’s a 4 day week for a 5 day a week curriculum.


Here’s the planning sheet for Joshua & Lydia for Little Hearts. Same set up here although Wednesday is missing because of Joshua being gone and Tuesday is different since we host a bible study in our home Tuesday mornings so their school is condensed to 1 1/2 hrs in the afternoon before we have to leave to pick up Amelia. Again there are sections where I have added when to double up on sections to make up for these lost days.


This is sort of my brainstorm sheet for the 3 days we’re home all day. This was to help me actually decide what to do during their school time and some more details that may need to be remembered. I use this a lot at the beginning and once we get our routine and flow down then I don’t refer to it as much and mainly use the planning sheets above.


Here is my Excel planning sheet for the semester. I have made these for years and they are so helpful. I actually wrote a whole post on weekly scheduling. I was introduced to these in college and they were super helpful when planning my classes and extracurricular activities as well as scheduling in studying time and working out and getting a big picture of how my days/weeks will actually look like so I could rearrange as needed to make it realistic! My schedule here is a little confusing as I still work one night a week so I adjusted some school times based on if I was going to be sleeping one morning a week or one afternoon a week depending on my work shift.


And I’ve done this the past couple of years as well and have really liked a year long big picture but with room to brainstorm as well. Here I track how many days we complete school too. There are 4 months per sheet and it goes through next summer. I can plan holiday breaks, baby breaks, visitors breaks, etc.


I didn’t make too many changes to our school room this year except I added this board to the wall to display some of their work. My husband’s grandpa was big into woodworking and after he and my husband’s grandma passed away we took some of their leftover wood pieces. Neither of us are woodworkers but I had begun seeing all the neat natural wood wall displays and decorations all over pinterest and thought maybe some day I could use some… well, 2 years later I did! I pulled out these wooden slabs which are interlocking pieces and we glued them together and screwed in 3 stabilizing boards to the back. I ordered a vinyl sticker which I’ve added to wood pieces for wall decorations before (since we rent it was my solution as opposed to putting the vinyl stickers on the wall, that way when we move I can just take the boards with us and hang them on the next house). I love this verse for homeschooling and thought it would look really good put together. Then I put some screws, string and mini clips and there you go! It is really heavy and has fallen down onto the bookshelf below just once but we stabilized it pretty good and I think it’s there to stay! There is some of our work from the first week!


Book Review: To Train Up a Child

Book Review: To Train Up a Child

by, Michael & Debi Pearl

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This is a challenging book to review. I love the verse about training up a child in the way he should go so I naturally picked up this book based on my enjoyment of that verse and come to find out this book is very controversial and I definitely see why.

The Pearls write from a very truth without grace based style of writing. Very black and white and in some ways a little harsh and unforgiving. If you can put this reality aside and continue reading to find the nuggets of truth from God’s Word then you will read this book just find but for some it may be challenging to continue reading if you feel offended by the way they address some issues.

In my years of reading books God has used the Spirit to lead me when to just say no and set down a book (this was hard as once I started a book I always wanted to finish) but there is wisdom in saying this will do me mentally more harm than good and there are a million other books on my list so I should just move on. This may be one of those books for you. For me, I was able to move past their delivery and glean some nuggets from God’s truth and I did not feel the Spirit leading me to put this book down and have not had mental battles from the things I read like I have experienced in the past with other books.

So, take that for what it’s worth and here are some of the nuggets I gleaned from the book:

“If you raise your voice when giving a command to your child, he will learn to associate your tone and sound level with your intention. If you have trained him to respond to a bellow, don’t blame him if he ignores your first thirteen ‘suggestions’ while waiting for your fevered pitch to reach the point where he interprets it to be a real command.” p. 4

“Discipline is a part of training but is insufficient in itself to effect proper behavior. Training is the conditioning of the child’s mind before the crisis arises.” p. 4

“When God wanted to ‘train’ his first two children not to touch, He did not place the forbidden object out of their reach. Instead, He placed the ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil’  in the ‘midst of the garden (Gen 3:3).’ Since it was in the middle of the garden, they would be exposed to its temptation more often. God’s purpose was not to save the tree but rather, to train the couple.” p.5

“No amount of training is going to override the certainty of sin developing, but the training parents give can lessen the child’s addiction to the flesh and make it easier for repentance to follow sinful indulgence.” p. 19

“The strongest cord of discipline is not found in the whip; rather, it is the weaving together of the strings of mutual love, respect, honor, loyalty, admiration, and caring … If you will cultivate fellowship with your child, you will have such cooperation and compliance that you will forget where you last left the rod.” p. 32

“If they should have a weakness which needs instruction, wait until the pressure and condemnation is off before giving them a study that involves their weakness. If there are guilt feelings present, the lesson will only bring further condemnation and isolation that the rode cannot absolve. When the instruction about God is separate from your discipline, they are free to make an association without feeling watched and graded… Allow the Spirit of God to apply truths to your child’s consciousness.” p. 93

May God richly bless your time reading.

But Mommy Can I Have One More Chance . . . Please?!?

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My kids cannot tolerate much sugar. These past few weeks I’ve been noticing the effects of sugar on their behavior and as I have made a connection between them acting in extreme disobedience and their eyes glossing over when I try to discipline them I realized I am battling a similar battle as one trying to reason with a drunk. It’s not their fault, it’s the sugar. They can’t control it and help themselves and who gave them the sugar in the first place? Well I did of course and now here I am pulling my hair in frustration over these uncontrollable wild and crazy kids! So my natural response is to cut out sugar. Only on very special occasions and in smaller quantities. Now here comes the test . . . daily I hear “mom can I please have a piece of candy after lunch? Can I please have juice for breakfast? Can I please have dessert, I ate all my dinner? Can we please have a special drink, we’ve been really good at the store?” And these pleadings come from 4 different directions and they all gang up on me! Well, after all they did eat all their food. . . They have been doing good at the store . . . Okay you can have some sugar. Then all of that goodness and any clout I thought I had to my consequence goes flying through the roof and we’re back in that state of uncontrollable sugar high. Why can’t I just say no and stick with it?!? Why do they have to gang up on me and beg and use reasonable arguments to plead their case?!?!

I was reading this morning in Deuteronomy 3 and God blessed me with a little golden nugget of encouragement. In this chapter Moses and the Israelites are fighting their way to conquer Canaan and claim the Promised Land as their own. Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land because of an act of disobedience in Numbers 20. Moses is here asking the Lord to change His mind and give him a second chance to enter the Promised Land. After all it was Moses right? He did lead these people out of Egypt and spoke face to face with God and spent 40 years in near perfect obedience among a group of complaining idolators without ever faltering and just giving in to the majority rules. He really did deserve another chance right? 

Moses begins his pleading by trying to butter up God: “Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what God is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’ ” I would equate that to my kiddos saying, 

“Oh wonderful mother, this dinner you cooked was so delicious. Thank you for all of your hard work, what mother is like you? You are so wonderful . . . now we beg you, could we please have some dessert, some delicious, mouth watering dessert that you baked so lovingly?” 

Um . . . Ok. My response: “Ok, just this time because you guys are doing so good. Now remember to show me you can handle your sugar.” And we all know where that leads. Now here’s God’s response to Moses’ pleading: “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord spoke to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.’ ” Wow. God you are so good. You are perfectly wise knowing when to extend grace and when to not falter on your word. There’s no changing God’s mind here. I also appreciate that Moses just took God at his word here instead of pressing the issue. This is my encouragement to stand up to the battle against sugar : ) My word is final. Do not beg and plead with me or butter me up. I can think of so many other areas of disobedience in my kiddos I need to extend this knowledge to.