Here Is The Sea

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Saturday Bonus Post

Normally I blog on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Today I am throwing in an extra bonus post but only because I’m linking an old Pinterest Test Kitchen to Saturday Dishes, a weekly feature over at a fun blog I follow named Call Me PMC.

This week’s Saturday dish theme is corn so I shared this frito corn salad recipe. It’s a perfect side dish for all the grilling and picnicing that will be happening this week. Cold and crunchy with just a little sweetness.

So head on over to Paula’s blog and see what else is going on. She has some links to several neat-o 4th of July ideas that you’ll enjoy.

Pool Time Fun

We’ve learned that there are twos ways to view having a pool. They are a lot of work and not worth it or, and this is us, they are a lot of work and worth it. It gets so hot and humid here in Florida and we have a lot of little guys running around in our world so having the pool is a lifesaver. And a lot of fun!

Although apparently you can be just as happy with a water hose and a willing victim.

 And baby floatie mats can make great disguises…he looks like something out of Despicable Me, doesn’t it?


I think maybe he was doing the robot dance as he got out of the pool??

Pencil dive!

Photo bomb fun because that’s the way Sam rolls.

Cannon ball!!!

It’s a flipping good time!

Guarding Hearts ~ Part Two

I think as we continue our conversation on courtship it would be helpful if we remembered to view courtship as part of a whole. Our position on courtship and dating are part of the bigger overall picture of our family way. It’s not a subject that exists in a separate compartment that comes up only when our children reach a certain age. It is fertilized and finds it’s roots in our family’s theology of life.

Because each family has it’s own distinct culture courtship, stories will be varied, illustrated by the personalities of the individuals involved. While I expect a certain amount of similarities among the tales of love and romance for my five children, I also expect that no two stories will be written in just the same way.

However, there are certain non-negotiables that we’ll work from that will be the same for all of them. Our children, being raised in covenant households as believers, will not be allowed to court or marry unbelievers. A teenager’s social life, especially in the heart department, is not a mission field. We do not seek to win the lost by allowing our children to have romantic relationships with them in the hopes that they will turn to Christ. It is far more likely that our own children’s heart would be led astray. And since I know that many of you are already gearing up with the “But I know a couple” stories where one or the other was not a believer that came to know God through that relationship, I ask that you remember what I said last week. The exception does not become our rule. Just because we know someone that has survived swimming with the sharks doesn’t mean that we should throw our children into those waters.

This will also be a no contact sport. Until a ring is on a finger, there will be no hand holding, no kissing, no nothing. (Total sidebar: do any of you remember that 80’s song by the Georgia Satellites, Keep Your Hands to Yourself? I always liked that song.) It seems inconceivable that we would expect this from our children in this day and age. This is shocking and radical behavior even among the most devout evangelicals. But it really isn’t. It’s smart and safe. There are two phases to this and they both have the same starting place. Physical attraction is designed by God and is quite powerful. It is beyond foolish to think that somehow because our children know better and are Christians that they aren’t tempted.

Courtship is not the same as engagement and it is a time when clear thinking is sorely needed. Physical activity can blur the thinking and cloud judgement during a time when a couple is searching out whether they are suitable for each other. I know the question begs to be asked, how will they know if they’re physically compatible if they never touch, if they never kiss? I have a better question. Why wouldn’t they be physically compatible? Physical attraction is already a given because one really doesn’t enter into any stage of courtship if one finds the other physically repulsive. So why wouldn’t a young lady thrill to the young man’s touch if she has already found him to be attractive, trustworthy and honorable enough to consider marrying? Why would he not want and enjoy kissing her if he has already determined that her worth is far above rubies?

Sex is a part of any romantic relationship…couples will have sex – the question is whether it will be honorably or dishonorably. We can do a lot to help make sure that it is experienced without regret and shame and with honor. Even after a ring has been given and accepted strong and sturdy boundaries should be in place for the protection of the couple. Wisdom tells us that alone time should be limited and handled with great care.

So, with our chief end being to glorify God, as we walk the road of courtship with our children and those two load bearing walls in place let’s talk a little about what we’d like to have happen next. My husband will have essentially vetted the young man and given him permission to press his suit with our daughter. If she has no interest, Rob will let the young man know and she is spared any awkwardness. If, however, she does have an interest then we will all sit down together and lay out what expectations are. By “we” I mean everyone including his parents, so that we’re all on the same page. We hope for both families to spend as much time together as we can. Everyone is better able to give counsel to their respective offspring by watching how each family interacts and is governed. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors and insight is gained by getting to know how each family functions.

Time apart from everyone will be done according to the discretion of my husband. Whether they are allowed to be alone from the rest of the family on the front porch, going on walks or the young man picking up and driving our daughter somewhere will be established by her father. This may seem like overkill and ridiculous to some but my husband’s job is to protect our daughter. I wonder how many christian fathers look at the messes their daughters have ended up in and wished they had done a better job protecting her?

This is a heavy responsibility on the father and a lot of trust is required from the daughter to rest easy in his decisions. A godly father will have shown himself to be seeking only her good all of her life. She will trust that he will withhold no good thing from her, so while it may not be easy to go at his pace she will yield to him in good faith.

Rather a fitting way to enter a marriage, don’t you think?

Guarding Hearts Part One

Pinterest Test Kitchen #33 ~ The Yucky Bar Addition*

*Yucky bar Schmucky bar…it seems I have a few friends that are lemon haters and they aren’t happy that I have toyed with the chocolateness of brownies. Feel free to join in the conversation in the comments 😉

Ahhhhh, lemons ~ the taste of summer. At least for me it is and I can’t think of much that is as satisfying and refreshing  in the hot days of summer as lemon flavored desserts. It doesn’t get much better than the tangy bite of citrus. (My friend Lauren can just ignore this post…lemon anything doesn’t work for her. Bless her heart.)

When I came across this recipe last year for lemon brownies I was intrigued. When I saw how easy it was to throw together I knew I would have to make it. You may be thinking, “How can this be any different than lemon bars?” and I am glad you asked. It’s the texture. They really have the feel of brownies but all the sweet crisp lightness of lemon. 
What you’ll need for the batter:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 TBS lemon zest
2 TBS lemon juice
What you’ll do:
Mix together first four ingredients until well combined.
In a separate bowl stir together eggs, zest and lemon juice.
Combine the two mixtures and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Pour into a greased 8×8 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. 
Be careful not to over bake.
The brownies have a delightful and pert glaze on them that really just completes the dish.
What you’ll need for the delightful and pert glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 TBS lemon juice ( more or less depending on how tangy you like)
8 teaspoons lemon zest
What you’ll do:
Whisk together all three ingredients until smooth.
Poor glaze over brownies.
I’ve yet to have them done long enough (without eating them) to chill before savoring their citrusy goodness but can you just imagine it right from the fridge?!
Also, last year I stirred in a handful of fresh blueberries right before baking the brownies and oh, my goodness they were swoon worthy! 
You should make a pan right now. And maybe throw in some raspberries for fun. I bet that would be good.

Guarding Hearts

Over the weekend I had a conversation with a friend about courtship. This is a topic of conversation in our lives quite a bit right now. Partly because Sarah is, at seventeen and going into her senior year of high school,  frequently asked, “Do you date?” or “Do you have a boyfriend?”. When she says no she immediately gets this very puzzled look from the asker and the follow up question, “Why not?”

This is a fine question, but I would like to turn the tables and ask, “Why date?” For most of us the answer is literally a no brainer…because dating is what our society says in normal. Our culture dictates that dating is expected so there is no real thinking going into the process of dating. It’s just the way it’s done. But if we can agree, and we should, that the culture is not God oriented much less family friendly, then we have to know that the culture’s way of doing things will not be God oriented or family friendly. And if we agree, and we should, that as Christians we have been given the task of reclaiming the culture…of remaking culture…then the topic of dating is something that cannot be a no brainer.

Let me begin by saying that I dated. My husband dated. And yes, we survived. But we survived with a lot of drama and heartache that was not necessary. I realize that having your heart broken a time or three is like a right of passage in our world but every relationship leaves you with baggage. And even little stones add up to a cumbersome and heavy burden after a while.

My sister Lisa started dating her husband when she was fourteen years old. Chuck has been my brother and part of my life for as long as I can remember.

 But, and I shamelessly borrow this from Douglas Wilson’s book “Her Hand in Marriage”, just because someone survives a plane crash does not mean that we are advocates of plane crashes. Stories like Lisa and Chuck’s are becoming more and more rare and the exception should not become our rule. And I think it is high time that God’s people begin to question the rules and ways of dating because something other than Biblical wisdom seems to be driving the process.

So what does not dating look like? What does courtship look like? Well, remember up there I mentioned that my husband and I both come from dating backgrounds? Being perfectly honest…we’ve no idea 🙂 Actually, we have something of an idea but it isn’t completely in focus. It’s a work in progress, and thankfully we have a community of people around us that are living their stories of courtship and love and romance in front of us. Each story is different because while our lives all tell the same story…His story…we all live different chapters.

It has been said that modern dating is a training ground for divorce. People get their back up at this and emphatically disagree, but think about this a second. How do you comfort the friend or child that has just gone through a break up? By telling them that there is something better out there for them…someone better. We automatically condition ourselves to believe that there is someone better suited to us out there…someone better looking, or with a better sense of humor or who will love us better. At best dating plants seeds of discontent that will have to eventually be weeded out with much labor, or at worst it cultivates a very casual disposable view of relationships that will perpetuate itself repeatedly.

While we may not know exactly what it will look like there are a few things that we do already have figured out.

We believe that courtship is a time when two people, who are ready for marriage, explore whether they are suitable for each other. Having your daughter’s boyfriend eating dinner with you every night is not the same thing as courting.

By ready for marriage we mean a few things. The obvious readiness to look for is maturity and that will be different for everyone.

For a young woman it is also about whether she is prepared to tend a home. If she cannot find her way around a kitchen, manage money and other practical duties that are a wife’s work she has no business accepting anyone’s suit. If she will work after she marries or go to college then she needs to be prepared for what it is like to juggle those things. While she is in school at home under the safety of her family she should have responsibilities so that she is training herself to do multiple task and do them well. She also needs to know how to work within a budget.

For a young man it is about being able to provide a home. As the father of four daughters, my husband will expect the young man who is interested in our girls to be able to, on paper, show that he is ready to provide a home and to care for a wife. My husband will want to know that the young man not only handles his money well but that he is aware of what it costs to have a home, no matter how modest, whether he buys or rents one. He has to have knowledge of what insurance cost, car maintenance, and what other living expenses are like.  It’s well and good for a young man to feel all warm and fuzzy about a girl, but if he cannot provide materially for a wife he has no business pursuing one.

Wise parents will be raising their children with the idea of marriage in the future. If a young man is taught from his early teens that he will want a wife one day and that he will have to provide for her then he is able to work toward that goal earning and saving money. Whether he will be eighteen or twenty eight when he finally meets her doesn’t really factor into the plan…he’ll be ready regardless. It is the same for a young lady. She is taught to love and tend home then she will have the skills needed to be a blessing to her future husband.

We believe that courting necessarily involves the parents and that there are steps in the process in the beginning between the young man and the girl’s father that provide a measure of protection for the young woman. And this is a big deal. Ideally the young man will approach the father, who will spend as much time as he deems necessary to get to know him. He will evaluate what he knows and learns of the young man before it is ever brought to the young woman to decide whether or not she is willing to accept his suit. If the father sees any moral failing or poor character qualities then the young lady is spared possibly having her heart broken by a man who is not worthy of her.

Please also note that the father is not ultimately deciding who his daughter will marry. Many who object to the idea of courtship do so on the misguided belief that the process happens without any input from the girl and the father is dictating her life partner. The father is actually sparing her heartache or any awkwardness if she has no interest in the man.

Rather than try to cram more into this post I think next week I’ll post a part two. What happens after the father has presented his daughter with the young man’s suit and she is interested in getting to know him more?

Not everyone is going to “court,” and I am not suggesting that it is the only way to find your spouse or that if you date you somehow love Jesus and your spouse less than the rest of us. I am saying, however, that Christians are crazy if they think doing it the way the world does will yield different results. The process of preparing for marriage must be redeemed.

Part Two 
Part Three
A Few Follow Up Questions

Pinterest Test Kitchen #32 ~ Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenderloins

Twenty-six. I have twenty six chicken recipes pinned.

Apparently we eat a lot of chicken in our house. To be fair it is extremely versatile and in casseroles can go a long way to making a meal stretch. Which is great when you’re a family of seven that entertains a lot.

We also love us some bacon. So when I found this recipe I knew I would have to try it. It has a tangy sweet thing going for it that is quite delicious. The only thing I have discovered is that it needs to be eaten immediately. I made it once for a potluck kind of thing and keeping it warm until we ate caused the chicken to dry out.

What you’ll need:
bag of chicken tenderloins, thawed
bacon, enough for a slice for each piece of chicken
3 TBS honey
2 TBS  coarse mustard

What you’ll do:
Wrap one piece of bacon around each piece of chicken.
Place them in a 9×13 baking dish.
Mix together honey and mustard until well blended. 
Brush half of it on the bacon wrapped chicken.
Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for about ten to fourteen minutes, (until the bacon is getting nice and crispy).
Turn the bacon chicken over and cover with the rest of the honey mustard.
Return to the oven and bake for an additional ten to twelve minutes.
Serve immediately.
This last picture is a little sad, don’t you think? It pairs well with rice and veggies but this was the time I made it for the potluck so it’s all by it’s little lonesome on the plate. I almost didn’t include it but the idea of just posting a picture of uncooked chicken wrapped in bacon just seems kind of gross to me. My issue I know but there you have it. On my blog you get the real me…weird hang ups and all 🙂

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