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Yes is the Answer


You know the drill: there is a birthday in your house and child 1 receives all kinds of new treasures while the siblings look on with hungry eyes. How do you teach birthday-child-who-has-more-than-they-could-ever-want to share his new bounty?
We had to institute a policy early on; the first day with the new treasure was just for the recipient, no need to share at all, but after that whenever asked if someone else could play with it, the answer was yes. I would watch as the new owner would begrudgingly stretch out their tight fist to hand over the item and often not be able to even watch their sibling enjoy playing with it at first. Usually within minutes they would both enjoy the gift together. It can be painful to share our toys, especially the really cool ones.
We did this to try to teach them the joy of having new things, and the importance of sharing them with others, even while they were still new. The policy worked in your favor whenever it was someone else’s big day – you knew that you were going to be able to play with all that new stuff in less than 24 hours. Over time, it became something that we said in our house, “the answer is yes” and went on to mean that we share information or time or talent when we are asked, whenever we can.
Lord, help me to keep and cultivate this mindset in our house and in my own life through all the years, not just the early ones. Help me to share what I’ve got, and to remember that the answer is yes.

Can You Imagine?

Chad Bautch video

There is a family in our community that is very special to me, my kids drive their son to school most mornings, he hangs out at our house whenever he can, his Mom is a treasure and his Dad is a rock. His Dad also has cystic fibrosis, has battled all his life and defeated the odds and predictions many times over. His name is Chad and he is still fighting hard. Last week he was deemed ready for a double lung transplant, and is in the process of being placed on the list at the University of Minnesota. This is great news, cause for celebration, and yet….

Chad had to immediately stop working, the surgeons told him his full-time job now is staying healthy for the transplant, and he probably won’t be available to work for 12 months. Can you imagine the stress of this on a young family?

There’s more, Chad doesn’t live in Minnesota, but has to be within 3 hours of the hospital at all times. This means that he must be ready to go when he gets the call, mobile within 30 minutes, to meet his new organs. Can you imagine the effort that would take in your everyday life?

Still more, after the surgery, Chad must have round the clock care provided by a friend or family member for 90 days. The plans must be in place at all times, whether the transplant happens in February or in May. Who would be willing and able to offer this to you?

None of these details are lost on Chad and his wife Heidi, they realize this is overwhelming in so many ways, and yet they are hopeful and filled with peace because even though they cannot anticipate all the needs and provide the money required to get through this, they know that God can. And they are trusting Him to provide.

I met with the couple two nights ago and Chad talked about the fact that in order for him to receive healthy lungs, someone would have to die to sacrifice them. His voice broke as he shared his feelings for this unknown person. As a community we are praying for that donor, that they would have the peace of Christ and His salvation, that they would be ready, and for their family to be strong and protected. It is surreal to pray for what is to come, without knowing the details, and yet we do it all of the time.

I am so impressed with Chad’s attitude, he could choose fear or worry to define him in this confusing time, but instead he chooses to be gracious and concerned for others. This fits with who I know him to be, and is a real life example of how we should all view life’s uncertainties.

If you’re so inclined, you can learn more about what we are doing to raise $200,000 towards Chad’s medical bills and living expenses at or on Facebook under Team Chad Bautch.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed and Cashew Crunch

imageWe’re still eating nuts and seeds at my house, and this is the favorite way to consume them. I place them into one cup serving bags for snacks and also sprinkle them over salads.

Spiced Pumpkin Seed and Cashew Crunch

nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 large egg white

1 t light agave syrup

1/2 t garam masala or curry powder

1/4 t salt

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1/2 c chopped raw cashews

1/2 c raw pepitas

1/2 c sunflower seeds

Preheat oven 300 degrees. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk together the egg white, agave syrup and spices in a medium bowl. Add the nuts and seeds and stir well to coat. Pour mixture onto baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, tossing once midway through. Allow to cool on baking sheet, store in an airtight container.







This Is It

signI knew things weren’t great in our marriage; in a lot of ways we were just in survival mode – the kids were 4, 2 and 6 months and we were in shock as to how much time and energy they pulled out of us each day. My guy was in a sales role at this time, with a large drivable territory, leaving me a couple of nights each week to tame the lions alone. We had an unspoken agreement that his work was his domain, I didn’t have much say in how it was done and whatever went down inside the walls of our home was mine.

One Sunday morning we were getting ready for church, it seemed like we had more time than usual and I was enjoying the slower pace. My guy, who likes to be on time, started the ‘we need to get a move on’ thread and I kept pushing back with,’we’ve got plenty of time’ and thwarting all efforts to get out of the house and exercising my control. You know the dance, right? Please tell me you do. Anyway, we finally got into the car and my guy was really upset, the only way I could tell was that he had become silent and his jaw was jutting in and out. I made light of the situation because we were only five minutes late, no big deal.

We got to church, and to the area where we drop off the children and it was like a ghost town. You could hear the others laughing in their classrooms and singing, and someone came out to greet us and laughed about the fact that we were more than an hour late! An hour and five minutes to be exact. I don’t know what happened in my brain, but I had changed the start time for church in my head and my guy never said more than, ‘we need to get a move on.’

I was furious. How dare he let me look so ridiculous? Why didn’t he say anything? And then I knew. My guy couldn’t say a word, not even have a say about the time that we left the house, because I ran the show. He had no voice in our home. Our kids certainly knew this was the case – obeying me and arguing with their Dad, or simply doing what they wanted, against his words. I had to learn to surrender to my guy, to his words and his desires. I didn’t always want to, sometimes it felt good to be the dictator of my own tiny country, but I knew that I had to, or I could lose it all.

I wish I could say that it was a simple switch that needed to be pulled to make the change but the truth is that I had to surrender my need to control and my guy had to start speaking up, even if it meant saying something unpopular. These days we work more as a team. Our children are much older and completely capable, so a lot of the daily stress is gone, but we each have a say in how things are done at home and in his work. We try to listen to what is said, and I have to work really hard sometimes to hear what is not, but it is worth it. Keeping the peace doesn’t mean keeping quiet, and controlling the environment should be left to the thermostat.

Salted Seedy Chocolate Bark


My guy and I are on a quest for better health. We have been incorporating more fruits and vegetables for three years now, but we are stepping it up in an effort to control cholesterol and triglycerides. For us, this has meant more natural foods and reading every label to choose lower sugar products. The time and intentionality it requires is very expensive, and the fact that we are buying organic as much as possible makes it even more so.

I am using a cookbook called The Food Lover’s Cleanse, which was recently released by Bon Appetit. The idea from the book is that you recalibrate your food intake for two weeks in any season, but we are using the book for ongoing inspiration, not as a cleanse. Eating clean, whole foods is not that difficult for us, except we enjoy something sweet, especially after dinner. I found this recipe for a sweet/salty combination that hits the spot without spiking the sugar scale.

Salted Seedy Chocolate Bark

1/4 c raw shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

2 T hemp seeds

2 T sesame seeds

1/4 t sea salt (I use Himalayan)

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (70% cacao or higher)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Toast, stirring occasionally until the seeds start to pop, about 1 minute. Pour the seeds into a bowl. Add the hemp seeds to the same skillet and toast, stirring constantly for about 45 seconds, until they turn pale gold, add to the pumpkin seeds. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and stir constantly for 30-45 seconds until golden and add them to the other seeds. Add the salt and toss to combine.

Heat the chocolate on low, stirring as it melts. Pour the chocolate into prepared baking sheet and smooth it out, it will not cover the entire pan. Sprinkle the seed mixture evenly over the chocolate and refrigerate for two hours.




Good News


As we were getting married, I looked around at all the other couples who were recently engaged. I remember thinking that if one of every two marriages end in divorce, who will fall? Out of the four sibling marriages within our two families, two would not make it, right? Everybody knows the statistic – 50% of all marriages end in divorce in the US. But what if that information was wrong?

I started the new year reading a book, The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn. If you are passionate about strong marriages, I encourage you to read this hope-filled book. Feldhahn is a respected researcher and speaker, as well as a writer of many books about marriage and family. Her book contains a lot of data and cites marriage studies performed by multiple sources, and it de-bunks several big theories that our culture has held for decades.

For instance, the divorce rate in the US has never gotten close to 50%. It’s actually more like 20-25%. And for couples who regularly attend church together and pray together? Half that number. Why the confusion? In the late 1970’s the concept of the no-fault divorce was introduced in our country. Before that, people had to plead with a judge to allow them to divorce. Experts predicted that the new system would cause half of all marriages to dissolve, but it never happened.

What percentage of second marriages do you think end in divorce? The average answer to that question is 75%. The truth is closer to 35%, probably even less, and Feldhahn gives good information for why the numbers are so difficult to calculate.

When you are talking with someone who is struggling with their marriage, right in the thick of it, you can see the fear in their eyes. Fear that it may never improve. According to this book, if both husband and wife make a concerted effort to improve their marriage, data shows that the majority are significantly happier in five years, and not just surviving. Working at it works.

And finally, Feldhahn details how small changes can make a big difference in the health of a marriage; stating that 99% of married people claim to care about their spouse and want what is best for them. However, in 82% of struggling couples, one partner is unaware of the other’s unhappiness, or clueless as to how to make a change. When both parties understand how to communicate with their spouses and the power of their choices, healing can occur.

What does this mean?

There is hope. Always.

No, everyone is not hitting the escape button. And you don’t have to, either.

Second marriages are not doomed to failure.

Small changes in your marriage can reap big rewards. Find a couple a little ahead of you and spend time with them, ask them to mentor you. Insist on continuing to learn how to love your spouse best. Another book by the same author that give practical insight in how to make changes for big results: The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages.

I am happy to report that all four of our sibling marriages are still intact 20+ years later. I should have known the statistics weren’t true, but it is so easy to quote what you hear over and over. Let’s work hard to learn the truth about marriage and even harder to build it in our own homes. It is worth it.




Go Deeper


Do you ever complain that your guy doesn’t open up to you? I used to. We talked a great deal about daily life and I shared my feelings about every single thing, often feeling frustrated that he didn’t seem very interested, and then irritated that he didn’t share his own. I tried everything; I asked too many questions, I joked about it, I even listened in on his conversations with family just to hear how he felt about our last vacation or his new position at work!

I’m not sure when it happened, but as some point I stopped demanding and became a safe place. I focused on helping my guy be able to relax when he came home by taming the chaos as he entered and by taking care of details he once handled. These small changes set up our evenings to be more relaxed. The bigger change was in allowing him to open up when he was ready, and not over-reacting when that time came. This was huge because he chose when and what to tell me and I chose not to freak out. Over time, he found that he could share more of himself without penalty and I began to understand my guy on a deeper level.

Another small change I made was leaning on girlfriends more for the minutia of life. When the kids were little, my guy didn’t necessarily want to hear about how much they had pooped or how great a sale Baby Gap was having. And today he doesn’t want to know my process for determining what’s for dinner or how many miles I drove chauffeuring children. He just doesn’t, he’s slaying dragons everyday. This change frees up the air space between us and gives more room for meaningful conversation.

For years I viewed the lack of depth in our marriage as my guy’s fault, but when I stopped complaining and took responsibility for my part, I found that we could become closer than ever. This wasn’t an easy adjustment that happened overnight for either of us, it was a gradual shift that was completely worth the effort.


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