An Open Letter to my Gay Friends

Hello there, you beautiful person!

I don’t know what it’s like to be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgendered. I don’t know what it feels like to be hated or picketed or asked to leave a church because of my lifestyle. At best, I know the pain of gossip from fellow Christians. (It’s not every day a small-town pastor’s daughter gets divorced, and when that does happen, people like to talk.) From my own public sins and mistakes, I know how it feels to have people you once loved and trusted not want to be around you, not want to talk to you, and assume you must not be a “real Christian.”

Here’s what I do know: I know what it’s like to have grown up alongside you, to have laughed over inside jokes, and to have watched you grow as a person. I know what it’s like to serve alongside you in the military, to trust you wholeheartedly with my life, to sleep on the floor in abandoned hangars and share MREs. I know you are strong because I saw your family turn their backs on you, and you picked yourself up and kept going. I know you are resilient, because I watched you keep your head held high after church leadership embarrassed you by asking you to leave the youth group.

Here’s what else I know: You are created in the image of God. Your name is written on his heart, and his hands. You are lovely, worthy to be loved, and you matter. I am deeply sorry that people use the name of Jesus to make you feel unloved. From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for Christians telling you that you don’t deserve God’s love, grace, and hope.

For every person who has been told they were beyond hope, help, or love, I am penitent. For every time the church at large chooses only to focus on a specific sin (while ignoring a host of others) and unleash judgment, I ask your forgiveness. To the single mothers who have been made to feel less than because of their marital status, I am sorry. To the unfaithful spouse who has been written off and ignored, I am sorry. To the brokenhearted spouse left to try and sort out the pieces without the full support of a church, I am sorry. To the teenagers who dress differently and are viewed with disdain by elders, I am sorry. To anyone and everyone who has been hurt by someone in the name of Christianity, I am truly sorry.

Simple Pre-K Homeschool


We’re a few weeks in to our pre-k homeschooling foray, and things are bumping along quite well. I’ve read more than my share of books and blogs about education (considering the fact that I am a certified teacher), and my favorite aspect of our classical academic path is its simplicity. Ideally, you should be able to educate your child with nothing more than a library card and a stick in the sand. My go-to podcasts and bloggers are Circe Institute and Amongst Lovely Things. Granted, I’m using a bit more than just those two essentials, but I’m sticking with things I already have around the house.

I’ve found that my son and I thrive on a somewhat predictable routine, so I implemented a system that keeps us on track. It has been very helpful to put the reigns in his hands — this gives him ownership and allows him to express a healthy sense of autonomy. Academic responsibility from the get-go! I made a “schedule” so he could choose the order of our daily lessons. (Juggling nap times, laundry, and trying to keep us fed left me a bit inconsistent in our daily school routine.) He gets to add a clothespin (by himself, to work on dexterity) each time we do something new. He loves it!

Learning is most effective when it occurs in a natural, integrated fashion. Today, we read Reptiles and Amphibians by Cynthia O’Brien. I used the book to springboard into phonics, math, and science. The words amphibian, frog, and snake contain blends and digraphs that we’ve been practicing — so I made an effort to point out a few of them as we read. When Asher saw a captivating photo of a green tree python a few pages in, he wanted to learn more about it. A quick Google search revealed that they grow between five and seven feet long; he ran and got the tape measure so we could measure and count the appropriate number of feet. All of this snake trivia eventually led to watching a YouTube video of a ten-year-old girl feeding her snakes (which literally left me nauseous, but I put on my brave face for Asher). We then discussed predators and prey, and I did not sugar-coat the fact that animals eat other animals…even the cute, furry ones.

Generally, I’m not a fan of doing crafts with every lesson, but I try to work something in every now and again. This paper-plate snake took minimal effort on both of our parts, but it provided maximum output. We talked about how reptiles and amphibians use their camouflage as we colored (he’s very much into team efforts), then we recounted that reptiles are cold-blooded; have dry, scaly skin; lay eggs; and breathe air.

With his homemade snake proudly displayed on his easel, he excitedly told Daddy and Papa all about reptiles soon after they walked in the front door this evening. Fair warning to anyone who happens to visit: Asher will enthusiastically maul you with newly-acquired information and boundless energy! All of this homeschooling occurred while little brother napped. After he woke up, we listened to the Song School Latin CD, and watched Preschool Prep’s Digraphs DVD. These CDs and DVDs are by no means essential to pre-k homeschooling efforts, but I use them as life-hacks so I can take care of laundry, clean up the kitchen, and prepare dinner without two children underfoot. Work smarter, not harder!

The Farmhouse

My parents, brother, and sister-in-law had the crazy notion to sell their houses, buy several acres, and live off the fat of the land (ok, maybe not that last part). I watched from afar as they channeled their inner Steinbeck and gave an old, rundown house new life and a distinct personality. This place is adorable!

My mother cleaned and repurposed antique mason jars into light fixtures. These jars were left behind by the previous owner, so it’s quite fitting that they adorn the house with light and life.

In the dining room

Above the kitchen sink

In the main bathroom

Perhaps the most distinctive aspect of the house is the pallet wall in the living room. It steals the show and is one of the first things visitors notice upon entering the front door. My father and brother put their blood, sweat, and tears into this project. In addition to being rustic-fabulous, it screams to be photographed. I happily obliged!

Taking pictures of my minions proved to be more difficult than herding cats, so excuse the blurriness. Asher really needed to get back to playing in the dirt, so he stood still(ish) for one good shot. Keane was an hour past naptime; his main concerns were attacking the camera, smacking the light reflector, and snuggling up in his Vivi’s lap.

“I’m done, Mom.”

Just let me sit here with Vivi…

He reached his limit!

Expect this year’s Christmas cards to feature The Wall.

I’m looking forward to fun farmhouse festivities all summer long! The front porch and shaded yard will be seeing major action from all of the kiddos — the entire property will echo with laughter!

Egg-free Paleo Donuts

My gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free life doesn’t leave any wiggle room for an early morning run to the local donut shop. Well, technically I could “run” there and back for some exercise…but I still wouldn’t be able to eat any of the fare. C’est la vie.

At best, these are reminiscent of a cake donut. (The best of which I ever had was at the summit of Pike’s Peak in Colorado, on a family vacation in the mid-’90s.) As all Paleo-people know, you’ve got to let go of those childhood ideals of sugary, gluteny baked goods…because no matter how many Danielle Walker cookbooks you buy (and I have them all), you’re never going to replicate Krispy Kreme.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe. This happy accident came about when I was experimenting with a muffin recipe…just channeling my inner kitchen Bob Ross!

(Makes 6 donuts)

Dry ingredients:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
A pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt (or whatever you’ve got)

Wet ingredients:
2 tablespoons raw, organic, local honey
1.5ish tablespoons organic maple syrup (more or less depending on your sweet tooth)
3/4 cup almond milk (coconut milk will work, too)
1.5 tablespoons flax oil
1 gelatin egg (for a VEGAN version, make a chia egg instead of using gelatin)
—(1 tablespoon grassfed gelatin mixed with 55ml water – mix briskly with fork as soon as the gelatin hits the water, otherwise it will congeal into a gummy glob – let the mixture sit for 5ish minutes to gel before adding it to the other wet ingredients)
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350, grease your donut pan.
Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl.
Mix all wet ingredients in another bowl. (I use my immersion blender with the whisk attachment.)
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring with a spoon or spatula — don’t use your mixer here.
Divide evenly among six donut cups (or whatever the proper term is for donut pans).
Bake for 20-25 minutes.

(Disclaimer: The other side of your donuts won’t be puffy and magical — they’ll be flat because egg-free baked goods don’t rise well. Just turn it over and stare at the pretty side.)

You’re on your own with the icing. I asked Asher if he wanted chocolate or vanilla icing, and he insisted that he didn’t want any icing. What three-year-old doesn’t want icing?! Heartbreaking, I know.

DIY: School at Home

I’m a simple girl, so it makes sense that my efforts at homeschooling are more stick-in-the-sand than glitter-glam. After perusing Pinterest until my eyes oozed out of my head, I decided that attempting most of those wonderfully fancy projects would turn me into a crazy person. So, I vowed to spend as little money as possible and utilize the resources I already had.

This DIY morning board (as I have so aptly named it) is easy to put together and even easier to use. The easel was a Christmas gift two years ago, the 100-pack of paper plates were in the pantry, the paper calendar was hanging in our bathroom, and the ABC scripture flip-chart had been hanging around the house for a few months. I used three Command adhesive hooks leftover from party decorations, two binder rings leftover from my teaching days, and a lone clothespin from the laundry room. The bingo dotter came from the dollar store, and we use it to mark of the date each morning.

The easel serves as command central for our morning time routine. As soon as Asher is coherent enough to pitter-patter out of the bedroom, he asks to do the date. I point to each part of the calendar as I say, “Today is Monday, June 1st. The year is 2015.” He takes his bingo dotter and dots the current day. Then we count all of the days of the month, pointing to each number. Next, I ask him about the weather, then help him affix the clothespin to whatever picture matches whatever is going on outside. After the date and weather are taken care of, we move on to our ABC scriptures. We focus on memorizing one scripture a week, and we review the previous weeks’ scriptures as we go along. (This is very helpful for me, too!) Considering he’s only three years old, I don’t want to go really in-depth with our morning time. Some days he doesn’t want to count all of the days, so I’m not opposed to letting that slide on occasion.

The magnetic marker board is great for writing practice — we can also flip it over to use the chalkboard side. This past week we learned about mammals, so we dug through his animal magnet collection and put the mammals on the magnet board. Then every couple of days we would review their characteristics. (He loves telling people that all mammals toot…you’ve been warned!)

This simple, stress-free morning board helps us start our day, and serves as a launchpad for whatever else happens to be on the agenda. It puts him in the learning mindset, and he usually asks to practice Latin or do phonics after we finish our little routine. Other days, we sit together in the floor and work on rhyming and counting puzzles. I try to let him lead us based on whatever his little heart desires — this keeps our 3K homeschool time light and fun. I want to keep him excited about academics, as opposed to enforcing a monotonous morning routine.