What Surprises Me Most

Today marks ten years of marriage to Travis. It seems like it was yesterday when I met him at the altar, eager and expectant with the rest of our lives ahead of us. How has it been a decade already? Many who read this have been married for much longer, but I would venture to guess that they feel the same about their marriages too. When we are in the action of living our stories we tend to miss the passage of time until we are forced to do so such as with an anniversary.

Around our engagement or maybe it was when we were newlyweds, Travis came up with a saying that has become our marriage motto of sorts, which is “Enjoy the ride.” This has always brought me comfort and a bit of a thrill too, because with life’s ups and downs no matter what, we would be together unless the Lord calls one of us home prematurely. When I hit replay on our marriage, together Travis and I with the Lord have placed roots in Tennessee, served in local church ministry, had three precious children, four unfortunate miscarriages, an unruly but good-natured Boxer, and a home to call our own. Such grace. On the mountaintops and even in the valleys- especially in the valleys, I have sensed the Lord’s presence and favor upon our union. The wild way He brought Travis and me together is a tale to tell- a true one that only God could write. Love was such a marvelous surprise for me, unexpected and gladly received.

Marriage brings with it a lot of surprises. How you can love someone and be so mad at them at the same time is one. The way what seemed like such a big deal like socks on the floor or a dish left on the counter becomes petty stuff with time. The intentional, decisive, and active work it takes to care for the marriage is a surprise. I think I was delusional at the altar when I thought that the marriage runs like a machine once it is ignited with “I do!” The power of prayer in marriage is a surprise (though, really it shouldn’t be). That nagging wife like a constant drip gal, yeah, guilty. The Lord has softened this stubborn heart on numerous occasions to fight my battles on my knees instead of with my harsh words. Worry turned to peace when I realized that my husband is not the captain of this marriage ship, God is. The times when ministry got ugly (very few) and we had each other and the Lord to lean on.

The biggest surprise for me, though, is the subtle ever slowly yet seemingly rapid way everything changes. Since our wedding we have said good-bye to grandparents, entered middle-age, taken on some things we said we would never do like homeschooling, living away from parents, and having a dog in the house. Also, that baby season is short…really.  I am somewhat relieved, but also amazed at how fast that time goes. The change of two to one is instant on wedding day, but the realization of that- the fusing of two lives is a slow, wondrous simmer that can’t be noticed in the moment, but only in reflection. What will twenty years be, then? Or thirty? Forty? These simmering moments are collecting for us a story that will tell of God’s grace and kindness to us.

Happy Anniversary to my favorite and best surprise- Travis. So proud of the man you are and how you love me and our kids so well. Your tender heart, strong character, humble spirit, fun-nature, and Southern charm are what this soul needed. Here’s to many more years together enjoying the ride!

Advertisements

Millennial Mom Burnout- What Gives?

Image result for rosie the riveter millennial women

A recent Buzzfeed news article written by an older Millennial like myself caught my attention the other day. The overall gist of her writing posed a general question, “How have millennials become the burnout generation?” She mentions having “errand paralysis” herself and how the mundane, simple, low-tiered tasks were often left undone. Incomplete, petty tasks led to shame as she considered how her mother would have “got them done.” She attributed her lack of motivation for completing dull tasks to their high-effort, low-reward nature much like one millennial named Tim who failed to register to vote in time because he hates to mail stuff as it “gives him anxiety.” The article goes on to address burnout among millennial women, particularly mothers who work outside of the home. They do what is called the “second shift” where women who come home from the workplace to labor as a homemaker. A recent study shows that mothers in the workplace spend just as much time taking care of their children as stay-at-home mothers did in 1975.

One might think that when women work, the domestic labor decreases, or splits between both partners. But sociologist Judy Wajcman found that in heterosexual couples, that simply wasn’t the case: Less domestic labor takes place overall, but that labor still largely falls on the woman.  -Anne Helen Peterson, Buzzfeed News

The article is quite lengthy, but it points to a pervasive reality- many young mothers today are burned out. Even I scratch my head at this with all of our modern conveniences like grocery pickup, Amazon Prime, Instapots, and the like. I wonder if our dilemma has to do with not what we have but what we lack as millennial moms.

What Millennial Moms Are Missing

Here are just a few things my generation of moms lack that previous generations didn’t:

  1. Mothers, aunts, sisters, and other women relatives who live nearby

As more of us become transient with college and careers, we move away from home and family. If we settle down in marriage and motherhood we find ourselves isolated and independent on the journey of motherhood. I had to call Travis one evening in tears as I was trying to nurse Kara and she would not feed. I felt helpless and alone. Travis was at a church softball game and he came home to just sit with me on the couch to support me even though he really could not help me. In another generation I would have my mom, aunt or even my grandmother nearby to call on.

2.  3rd Wave Feminism

I am all for equal pay and fair treatment of women.  However, we moved from “let us in too” to “let us do IT ALL”, and we are dealing with the repercussions of Rosie the Riveter’s proud declaration. We have heightened female activity and male passivity. Men will gladly let us do it all if it means more time for them on their phones and video games. Learned helplessness is rampant among millennial men. Sidebar- not all millennial men are this way, of course. I know plenty who act more like their fathers and grandfathers than their peers. Props to you, young, working men!

3. Social Media

Our mothers had Oprah. We have Instagram. We scroll through filtered, freeze-framed images of other women “doing it all” leaving us feeling a little less than. We are overwhelmed by stories and news from everything to parenting to the latest fad diet. Not only do we have to do it all, but we have to look good while doing it, preferably in a fashionable pair of yoga pants.

What Can Moms Do to Avoid Burnout?

We can’t change when we were born or the culture at large, but we can change how we cope in a fast, high-achieving society. Here are a few ways we millennial moms can manage ourselves well in our generation:

  • Ask for help
  • Say no
  • Make a daily to-do list
  • Draw boundaries
  • Limit social media
  • Schedule small tasks and complete them
  • Call mom
  • Find a mentor
  • Put the family to work- you’re a team
  • Take a break- daily and weekly
  • Lower expectations
  • Aim for excellence, not perfection
  • Pray continually
  • Memorize and quote Scripture
  • Find a gospel-centered church and plug in
  • Connect with other moms regularly

These are just a few ways we can work towards peace and avoid burn out. One of the challenges we face today is turning off the mental list of “all the things,” but when we accept our limitations and find creative solutions for navigating the complexities of modern motherhood then we may find a better way to thrive day-to-day. I have hope for us millennial moms, and I believe that our children are going to be okay. We don’t have to be anxious. We can let some things go, just let’s not let go of our rest in God and in His power for us in motherhood in our generation. In this way we will not burn out, but find blessing for ourselves and for those we love. Yes, we can do it!

How to Have a Value-Driven 2019

If you are a “glass is half-full” type of person then you probably entered the New Year with great expectations, firm resolutions and a certain number of goals to reach by year’s end. It’s a fresh start with so many possibilities. On the other hand, if you fall more into the “glass is half-empty” category then you may not be as optimistic or hopeful. That was me last year.

I usually set goals and develop my dreams on paper for the upcoming year, but I approached January 2018 another way. I set fewer goals, sought to maintain the habits that I acquired over previous years, and determined to be present in the spaces that I filled. It worked- for good and for ill.

The goals I set were not accomplished 100%. For instance, I did not meet my reading goal for 2018 like I did for 2017. Instead of reading 50 books I read 30. Though I failed to achieve the quantity desired, I maintained the habit of reading well. Also, my fitness goals were not reached as I hoped, which I blame on negligence and busyness. I went on several nature hikes with my kids, though, and made it to the gym when I could. It is easy to look back on the past year and see all the short comings, misses, and losses. But I look back on 2018 and see the wins as well. This is important to begin the New Year in this way for all of us half-full and half-empty people. Because what we really must achieve over fewer pounds, more money in the bank, or better relationships is a value system that supports our ideals.

Values Over Resolutions

It is easy to come up with a list of things we want to change about ourselves in the coming year. We see areas in our lives that need an overhaul, so we decide that this year will be different. At 2018’s end, we had a few days off of work, time away from the hustle of every day life, and we gained a fresh perspective on life without distractions. We make resolutions, intending on keeping everyone, but we keep a few if any.

This is discouraging, because we so much want to grow as people. Perhaps our growth is slower than we would like because we are after all people, not machines. We can’t troubleshoot personal discipline. Resolutions are helpful, but they are not the place to start if we want to see growth over the long run. If we want to see significant change in our behaviors we must work from a set of values instead of a list of resolutions. Once we understand our deep-seated values, then we can work on short-term yearly (or monthly, weekly, daily) goals.

Values Worth Having

What we value tells a lot about who we are, and we can tell a lot about who we are by what we value. They go hand in hand. The evidence is all over- just a close glance at our calendar, banking statement, or home paints a fairly accurate picture. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:21. In other words, what we value comes from within our hearts and overflows out of our lives.

Here are some values worth having so that from them we can set goals worth pursuing.

Spiritual Values

  • A growing relationship with God through Bible study, prayer, and church fellowship.
  • Regular repentance, service, and generosity
  • Accountability, discipleship

Personal Values

  • Physical wellness- yearly physicals, routine exercise, healthy eating
  • Sabbath rest- daily rest, weekly, and extended rest 1-2x yearly
  • Financial stewardship
  • Hobbies, special interests- carve out time for fun

Family Values

  • Marriage- regular date nights, build intimacy, prioritize over children
  • Parenting- cultivate relationships with children, instruct them to know and love God, discipline them consistently
  • Family as a team- Meals around the table, community service/missions, devotions/prayer, game nights/movie nights/hikes/play, etc.

Work Values

  • Pursue excellence, not perfection
  • Be dependable
  • Know when to ask for help
  • Show up on time and don’t quit when it gets hard
  • Know when to “clock out”

Values matter. When we have a handle on what matters to us we can then determine what our goals must be. We will experience incremental growth when we fit our resolutions within the categories of our value system. Resolutions may fail, but intentional focus on our values by how we spend our time and resources will prove to be the most beneficial for us.

Eliminate Distractions

When it comes to resolutions we tend to add things to our schedule- a gym membership, work, projects, hobbies, etc. One of the reasons we don’t reach certain goals is not that we are not adding enough to our calendars, but that we are not eliminating what distracts us from our values. The recent iPhone software now gives weekly reports on social media usage, which I found quite astonishing when I received it for the first time. If my memory serves me well, my first report showed that I was on my iPhone on average 2 hours a day.  Now, in my defense I use apps throughout the day for cooking, news, email, teaching, podcasting, etc. But I know that I can blow through 15-30 minutes easily just by scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. One of my personal goals is to limit my social media use. I have specific, concrete ways to discipline myself with this. I may not eliminate social media from my life altogether (though I can), but certain boundaries will be drawn so that I can focus on what I value.

What do you need to limit or eliminate in 2019? What are your values? Some select a word for the year, or a Scripture verse. I have one of each. My word for 2019 is COMMIT. My verse is:

I want to commit myself and my work to the LORD focusing on Him and remaining steadfast in the work He has assigned me. I’ve written a few goals out, but honestly, many of them are the same goals I’ve had for several years. Only difference is that I am slowly becoming the person God has been making me all along- sanctification takes a life time, not a year. This year I commit myself to Him not to my plans, and I believe that He will do what He wills. I rest in that. We all can- all of us “half-full” “half-empty” glass people.

Everyday Advent

The joy and wonder of Christmas is upon us. We remember and celebrate the anticipation and arrival of our Savior, Jesus. Children and grownups marvel together at the mystery and glory of Emmanuel.

One of our most celebrated traditions in the Fleming household is the Jesse tree where we journey through Scripture to see how the Old Testament points to the Messiah. The children take turns hanging an ornament each night, and we read a short devotion that relates to the ornament. Sometimes we sing a carol. This yearly practice all December long allows us to reenact the story of Israel’s longing for the Promised One.

It is not only a reenactment, though.

That Promised One came as foretold, and a thrill of hope entered into a weary world. He lived, He died, He arose. And we rejoice.

We also long yet again.

Instead of the Incarnation though, we now await the consummation of all things when Christ shall return for His Church with the new heavens and the new earth. Advent means “arrival” or “coming.” For the Christian, advent is every day, not just four weeks out of the year. We live in the tension of the “now, not yet” between the fulfillment of God’s requirements for salvation and the realization of what is promised. The mystery- that being Christ- was revealed as God planned. And so we wait for the redemption that is to come. For Christmas is not something we only look back to, but it is something we long for. Narnia was winter and never Christmas because of the White Witch’s spell until Aslan was on the move and the snow began to melt. The snow is melting, and Father Christmas calls out, “A Merry Christmas! Long live the true King!”

Revelation 22:16-21

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Why Change is Good

Eagerly we await the changing seasons like a child expectant to be set free to play. There is so much anticipation of the familiar in the crispness of fall and its deciduous way. There is beauty in seeing the necessary things die away only to be resurrected to new life in the coming spring. Thoughts. Attitude. Speech. Habits. These besetting sins must be put to death if we are in fact to walk by the Spirit.

I can remember my first fall- my first REAL fall. Growing up in South Florida never offered me an opportunity to see the varying hues in God’s colorful palette of reds, oranges and yellows. I was in my twenties in Louisville, KY when I experienced my first fall, and to say it took my breath away would be an understatement. On Sundays, I would drive down Lexington Road where the oaks and maples would arch letting the sun’s rays peak through in golden light. It was an aspect of God’s creativity that I had never seen before.

And then winter came. There was beauty in freshly fallen snow, but the winters were dark and cold. I was no longer in the Sunshine State. I always anticipated spring as much if not more than I awaited fall with its colorful brightness of resurrection. It was hope ignited into the darkness, and all of creation bore witness to new life. He does give us more grace.

So the seasons change again, and with change comes the promise of death to what needs to die and then resurrection. Maybe it is that I am in my mid-life, that I have seen more than a few changing seasons, or that I am beginning to pay attention, but there are things in me that need to die. The desire for control. To fix problems and people. The concern over appearances. What will_______think?  Being judged or assessed. The desire to defend or make excuses. The idols that compete for my allegiance to and affection for my Savior and Lord. The thoughts that invade my mind as I raise my children in the midst of the noise, distractions, and temptations of living in a sensory-overloaded age. We fight for stillness. For peace. And we must if we are to pay attention. The Spirit helps us in every season.

As the heat of summer wanes into the brisk, colorful, tenderness of autumn I welcome the change. It is good for my soul. As leaves fall to the earth, browning into the dark, cool soil, I throw off my present entangling sins so I can run the race with perseverance. I must keep running. Yes, for myself, but also for my husband and children. Sin affects not just the person, but also the people connected to that person. It is systemic. And Our Lord died for it all, making us righteous by his blood, and He is the one we fix our eyes upon as we run the race in our homes and in the world. Change is not easy, but change is good.

Preparing the Feast

In between visits to the pool, late afternoon bike rides, and short travels, time is laid aside for planning for the next school year. This will be our fifth year homeschooling. We began when our oldest was in Pre-K with Classical Conversations, which is a community that we are still a part of. Our Mondays are spent with our CC family, learning together and encouraging one another as we seek to understand how all the subjects are ordered by God unto His glory. The rest of our week has a definite rhythm, scheduled enough but not over-scheduled, so that we can fill our days with nature, good books, music, play, skills, chores, church, and dinner around the table as a family.

This is the feast- the table filled with wonderful ideas, truth, goodness, and beauty. For the table to be filled, however, the feast must be prepared. After we completed last year’s formal academics I then began to prepare for the next year in between the cracks of our summer adventures.

How I prepare the Feast

  1. Prayer. This is where I begin before one lesson is written or one plan is laid. I ask, “Lord, what would you have us do in the upcoming year?” “What needs to change in my heart and mind? In my childrens’? How will you have us grow?” I ask for wisdom before, during, and following the school year. I know that without God’s strength and wisdom I will be ineffective and self-driven instead of Spirit-led in both teaching and parenting.
  2. Assess. I reflect on what benefited learning and what hindered learning. I take mental notes on what was life-giving and what was life-draining- physically, mentally, and emotionally. I talk with trusted homeschooling friends and educators for counsel and ideas. My kids also help me assess what went well and what needs improvement.
  3. Gather. After I ask the Lord what He would have us do and assess what we have done, then I begin to gather our materials and plans for the upcoming year. Some things from previous years will remain a part of our school day, and new things are always added as new skills emerge.
  • Our Feast for 2018-2019

    Morning Time 

    This has been a part of the rhythm of our day since the beginning. I remember nursing Judson while Analise played with play-doh and Kara practiced her handwriting at our dining room table while I read from the Bible, a poem, or read-aloud. We sang hymns, recited the alphabet, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and looked over our calendar board. Our morning time looks a little bit different these days, but not all that much. We still begin with Scripture and prayer, followed by our hymn of the month, and verse of the week. What has changed is that sometimes our morning time is moved to afternoon tea time, because some mornings will have certain obligations (usually Mondays and Wednesdays).

    Here is what our Morning or Tea Time typically consists of:

    Prayer (recite Lord’s Prayer or we take turns praying)
    Scripture recitation
    Bible (selections from The Child’s Story Bible)
    Catechism (Training Hearts Teaching Minds, by Starr Meade)
    Devotion (Indescribable:  100 Devotions About God and Science, by Louie Giglio)
    Hymn study (one hymn per month; short bio of hymn writer @ beginning of month)
    Poetry (Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow this fall)
    Recitation (1st grade and 3rd grade memory work one at a time- builds each week)
    Shakespeare (select plays from Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare)
    Read Aloud (this year we will read several short books as well as novels including Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Saturdays, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, The Borrowers, and The Secret Garden)
    Classical Conversations Memory Work
    Geography 
    (Draw the World, Draw Africa, CC Maps)
    Composer Study (fall composers are Bach and Handel)
    Art Study (Tuesdays)- fall artist is Giotto di Bondone with a focus on Medieval art.
    Nature Study (Thursdays)- trees, shrubs and vines. Monthly nature walks as well!
    History (Tuesdays and Thursdays)- The Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times
    *Oral narration for Bible, Poetry, Shakespeare and History

    Preschool

    Judson will spend Tuesdays and Thursdays at our church’s PDO, and on Mondays he will be at CC with kids his age while his sisters are in class. He is learning to sit longer with us at the table or on the sofa, and having snacks around always helps keep him close to us. 🙂 I have some sensory bins, lapbooks, dry erase handwriting printables, play doh, blocks, coloring pages, and puzzles to keep him busy. He loves to be outside with his sisters too!

    1st Grade

    Analise is reading now, and so we will continue to work on phonics and move towards reading chapter books independently. She will begin learning cursive this year, and will use New American Cursive Penmanship as her workbook as well as write daily in her copybook. She will begin a formal spelling program this year too that Memoria Press publishes. For math, we will continue to use Rod & Staff as well as Singapore Math, which Analise and Kara both call the “fun” math book. 🙂

    3rd Grade

    Kara will begin a formal grammar program published by Memoria Press and Institute for Excellence in Writing. She will also begin her second year in Latin, which will help her grammar study as well. She will read several novels with comprehension guides and tests. For Classical Studies, she will read D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths with comprehension guide as well as memorize parts of the timeline. She will also memorize the books of the Old Testament.  Really, there will be several grammar items (facts) that she will memorize from various subjects. We have a “review box” where she pulls out cards with vocabulary, Latin, History, Poetry, and Christian studies. For math, we will continue to use Rod & Staff and Singapore (the “fun” math) 🙂

    Extracurricular

    The girls will continue with their piano lessons. They will play a sport in the late winter/spring. They are also joining American Heritage Girls, which we are looking forward to. We want to get Judson into tee ball and possibly soccer in the spring. We will continue with church activities as well. We have several field trips planned for the fall with our friends including monthly home school zoo days.

    The table is full, but it is rich.

    We spread an abundant and delicate feast… and each small guest assimilates what he can.” – Charlotte Mason

    My prayer and hope for this next year concerns the hearts of my children- that they will be teachable and responsive, forming good habits and Christian character. I want them to remember the gospel every day and see the world through its lens. My prayer for myself is the same as it has been every year since from when I was a classroom teacher before I had children of my own.  It is that I would open my mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness would be on my tongue (Proverbs 31:26). I want my children and the students I tutor to see Jesus and to know Him as they marvel at and explore His wonders and His Word. The table is ready, the feast is laid, and we gather to receive the full life set before us.

    A peek around our schoolroom/office.

    MidSummer Musings

    In winter I get up at night
    And dress by yellow candle-light.
    In summer, quite the other way,
    I have to go to bed by day.
    I have to go to bed and see
    The birds still hopping on the tree,
    Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
    Still going past me in the street.
    And does it not seem hard to you,
    When all the sky is clear and blue,
    And I should like so much to play,
    To have to go to bed by day?

    —“Bed in Summer,” Robert Louis Stevenson

    What child (grown up children too) cannot relate to this child who has “to go to bed by day?” My kids and I get a kick out of Stevenson’s empathetic poem.  It is almost as if he is taking the children’s side.  I think he is.

    I’ve been taking the children’s side too this summer. Long days, late nights, and an unhurried pace awakens the imagination for both parent and child. We are not machines, after all. We are taking our time- our time for relationships, for observation, for ideas, for play.

    We’ve traveled and will travel some more. In June we went to FL to spend some quality time with Mimi and Poppy, splashing in the ocean, riding horses, and fishing in the canal. We then went to Dallas with Daddy to the Southern Baptist Convention. The kids went to day camps while Mommy and Daddy went to the conference. I will go to New York this week for a few days with a team from our church. We will take a family day trip to Jackson Falls for a hike and to see some waterfalls later this month. Finally, before we get back to our formal studies we will take a trip to see Nana and Poppa and uncles, aunts, and cousins in SC. The summer is jam packed, but joyful.

    With the sweltering heat we’ve had, the pool is our landing place. We try to go in the morning or evening to avoid the midday intensity. I lie in the shade with a book while the kids swim and play- it’s a win-win!

    Our garden is in full bloom producing an abundant harvest! Well, except for our cucumbers.  They are a pitiful sight. Travis is a master gardener (in my humble opinion). The kids and I are learning a lot from him. When the green bean plants began to sprout, he realized that they were “runners,” so he rigged up a trellis with stakes and string so that they would not run a muck through the garden. We have had so many delicious meals right from our backyard! Omelets, stir fry, steamed veggies, fried okra, salads, and more…

    “Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.” ~Wendell Berry

    Summer reading is in full swing too! We finished reading aloud Little Dog, Lost, and what a delight it was. It was the perfect book for the ages of my children- a misunderstood neighbor, a cause, and a dog and boy made this a great read for us. We are reading The Penderwicks now, which I’ve already read and could not wait to read to my kids. It is the perfect summer read- four sisters, a cottage, rabbits, a boy, a bull, and a summer adventure. It is the first in the series, and we plan to read them all (not this summer, though). 🙂

    Here is a simple Oven Fries recipe that complement many summer meals:

    Simply Delicious Oven Fries

    Ingredients:

    3 pounds Russet potatoes, cut in wedges
    Olive oil
    Kosher salt
    Seasoning Salt
    Pepper
    Garlic Powder

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
    2. Place potatoes on 2 cookie sheets, spread evenly
    3. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes liberally
    4. Sprinkle Kosher salt and seasoning salt (even amounts…I eyeball it)
    5. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of pepper (or so, I eyeball it too…depends on your taste)…I use less pepper
    6. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
    7. Toss potatoes several times (add more oil if necessary)
    8. Bake in oven for 20-30 min. (Toss potatoes with metal spatula every 10 min. or so)
    9. They are done when they brown on the edges and get a nice amber glow.
    10. Eat and enjoy!

    We have had a few evening bike rides, but let me tell ya…we still come in sweating, begging for water and popsicles. I love our neighborhood- perfect for walks, runs, and rides. 🙂

    I love how my kids are at the ages now where they can play a board game together. They actually administer the game- recalling the rules, determining who goes first, and keep score (or money for monopoly). Brother sometimes plays by the rules… 😉

    Something came to my mind this morning as I looked out of my office window. Everything God has designed in creation has a determined way of life. A hawk flew across our backyard, and God reminded me that it is doing as it was designed to do- hunt, feed, nest, and find shelter. The Holy Spirit gently impressed upon my heart that I am designed for a purpose as well- to love, lead, share, nurture, and rest. All are made to worship- even the birds. So, here in the middle of summer- in the heat of the sweltering sun, we find our way of life by design. In work, in play, in relationship, in conversation, in observation- we remind ourselves that we are unlike the birds- we are human- we reflect the glory of God in a different way. And in this way, and in every season, we both marvel and wonder at the feast laid before us- in the presence of the One whose image we bear.