Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentional Service

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentional Service

When I wrote about teaching our kids about service a few years back, I talked about the benefits of service and how we can model service for our kids. I still think those points are valid. I still think serving others is fulfilling, joyful work. I still think there is so much to gain by serving others.

But as I’ve been thinking about this post since my last parenting post, I’ve been convinced that there is and should be something more to our thoughts about serving others and to what we teach our kids about service.

Read More

Catching Up and a Book Review

Catching Up and a Book Review

Well hello there! As much as I hate having to do a "catching up" post, it seems like one is warranted today because I realize I've been AWOL lately.

The past two months, frankly, have been crazy. It's a wonder I've been able to write here at all with all of the commotion of end-of-school activities, graduation, a quick trip to PA, a family vacation, and a couple of birthdays thrown in for good measure. I hate to recap like that because everyone has busy lives and everyone can say that things have been crazy and everyone has an excuse as to why they haven't done what needed to be done.

Still, I want to catch up with you!

Read More

On Dying Trees, Retiring Chefs, and Graduating Daughters

On Dying Trees, Retiring Chefs, and Graduating Daughters

As I write this, I’m watching history being cut down. A large maple tree, which has probably stood in the middle of my back yard as long as this house has stood on our street, is being removed. The upper branches, still bright with new, green leaves, floating to the ground like blades of grass blown in the wind. The larger branches dropped, one by one, onto the plantings below.

And the main trunk, which from the outside still looked strong and sturdy, sawn in half and brought down with a *thud* that shook the whole house.

Problem is, that trunk was half dead. Full of rotting wood that crumbled at the touch.

This tree, the one that turned golden-orange in the fall and had been the source of many a jumping pile when my girls were younger, the one that held memories of high-soaring branches against winter skies, the one surrounded by hostas planted by previous owners, had become a hazard.

Read More

Do Hard Things

Do Hard Things

At least twice a week someone asks me, “So what do you DO now that you’re not teaching?”

Seems that people like others to live in neat little boxes, to work regular hours, to have a job or kids at home to fill their time.

They like titles.

I like titles too. I tend to categorize people—“She’s a doctor;” “He’s a plumber.”—just as much as the next guy. Yet, my season of life right now can’t be categorized.

Read More

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentional Stewardship, Part 2

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentional Stewardship, Part 2


“One for God, one for saving, two for spending.” Our family mantra. 

B learned it another way when he was growing up: “Give ten percent, save ten percent, and spend the rest with joy and thanksgiving.” 

Those numbers may have been tweaked a bit over the years, but the principal remains: if God has blessed you with money to spend, enjoy it. Don’t squander it, make sure you’re giving, but also don’t feel guilty about it.

Read More

Fabulous Friday Food :: Mexican Food Done Three Ways {slow cooker recipes}

Fabulous Friday Food :: Mexican Food Done Three Ways {slow cooker recipes}

Some days call for taking it slow. Some days call for Mexican food. Some days call for walking in the door to a dinner that's ready to go.

And some days call for all three.

This week we're talking Mexican food done in a slow cooker for just those days when you want to throw something together and forget about it until dinner time. And, bonus! I'm giving you not just one, but THREE ways to do Mexican in the slow cooker.

Read More

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentional Truthfulness

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentional Truthfulness

As you are well aware, we're in an election season. The races are tight. Talk to a handful of people and you'll get a handful of opinions on candidates and their character. 

Frankly, nobody I talk to seems to know for sure who to vote for this year because the candidates appear to be less than forthright about who they are or what they believe. 

Scandals abound on both sides of the political aisle. No political party has the corner on the integrity market, that's for sure. It's hard to know who's telling the truth anymore.

Read More

A Letter to My Daughters Featured at "For Every Mom" today!

Hi again! (Twice in less than 24 hours? I think that's some kind of record!)

Just wanted to let you know that my post, "Letters to My Daughters: Let's Talk About This Election," is being featured over at For Every Mom today. I'm pretty excited and hope you'll pop over to read it there (if you didn't read it here first).

And if you're stopping by from For Every Mom, welcome! I'm so glad you're here and hope you'll poke around a bit. I've got some of my favorite posts highlighted over on the right there. And if you need help with dinner, just click on my "Recipes" tab and you'll find a ton of family-friendly recipes.

Feel free to sign up for my newsletter. And I'd sure love it if you'd follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Spring Has Sprung (Or Has It?)

Hi there!

I thought I'd just do a quick update post today since I feel like it's been a little while since I've been around. I posted last week only because of the magic that is blogging--I scheduled the post ahead of time, shut the front door, and walked away.

So let's talk about spring, shall we? What is with this crazy Midwest weather? We've had warm, then rainy, then last week it was apparently warmish again, and today I PULLED OUT MY WINTER COAT! Seriously?! I'm feeling schizophrenic here and am definitely ready for the roller coaster of early-spring to be gone. Away. Out of here.

I'm ready for all out WARMTH.

Read More

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentionally Disciplined

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Intentionally Disciplined

It’s funny that I should be writing about discipline because, truth be told, sometimes I feel like the most undisciplined person ever.

It’s not that my parents didn’t discipline me—they did. For sure. They made sure I behaved properly. They made sure I finished piano practice and homework before I watched T.V. They made me play outside and get plenty of exercise.

My parents tried their best to raise disciplined children . . . and yet . . .

And yet I fail so often.

Read More

Jesus at My Kitchen Table

Are you doing any special reading for Holy Week? Our church sent out some booklets of brief devotional thoughts for the week, so I’ve been working my way through those.


This morning’s reading was about Jesus before Pilate (found in Luke 23). This chapter of the Bible tells how Jesus was put to trial, first before Pilate who couldn’t find any fault in him; then to Herod who mocked him and sent him back to Pilate; then to Pilate a second time. Still, Pilate could find no wrong in Jesus, but because Pilate was a weak leader and a coward, he ordered Jesus to be flogged and killed, releasing a thief and a murderer instead of Jesus.

Read More

Fabulous Friday Food :: Homemade Cinnamon Bread (and some Easter menu suggestions)

Fabulous Friday Food :: Homemade Cinnamon Bread (and some Easter menu suggestions)

Sunday after church I announced, like I was making the most important declaration of my life,

"I feel like baking today."

Truth be told, I had a craving, a wish, a hankering if you will, for some cinnamon bread. Which I made and then posted on Instagram and Facebook and so many people asked me for the recipe that I had to share it with you today.

Read More

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Introduction

Intentional Parenting :: Reprise :: Introduction

Several years ago, 2010 in fact, I wrote a blog series titled "Intentional Parenting." Maybe you were around here back in 2010 and read those posts. But maybe you're new here and have no idea what I'm talking about. This series is for you. And for those who read the first time through. And for pretty much any parent who wants to think critically about this important job God has given you.

Read More

My Favorite Moments from the Downton Abbey Finale, S6:E9

Oh friends. Wasn’t that all so lovely?

I’ve chatted with many of you, and I think we all agree on one thing: the Downton Abbey finale was perfect in every way.

Oh sure, it was cheesy (especially that last scene with Isobel and Violet talking about moving forward to the future instead of back into the past—what?—but still, I’m glad they gave Violet the last line), and sure, it was predictable (Mary’s pregnant!), but you have to admit that it was pretty much the tied-up-with-a-ribbon package that we all wanted it to be.

And such a happy ending it was.

I have watched this episode a few times (call it research), and every time I start to cry about 30 minutes in and pretty much don’t stop until the end. I think it hit me, finally, that this silly television show that brought me so much joy for the past six years, is finally OVER. It sounds so trite, I know—it’s a TV show!—but I really am going to miss it.

I have had so much fun writing these posts and getting feedback from all of you. I’ve loved dishing about the latest antics, the cruel gestures, the unkind remarks, and the crazy escapades. These characters have taken on lives of their own, and at times, I’ll admit, I got a bit too caught up in thinking about them.

I guess that’s what makes it a good series, though. Characters you love in a setting you adore in a story that takes you right in. Just like a good book, and whoever found fault in a good book?

This week, because it was impossible to find just five lines that I loved in a 90 minute finale, I’m going to write about my favorite happy endings. Yes, I’ll include some of my favorite lines, but do me a favor and don’t count the number.

Let’s just dish.

If you’ve been around here for any time at all, you know that there has been no love lost between me and Thomas. In fact, for five seasons I haven’t been able to find many redeeming qualities in the guy.

But this year was different.

It seems Julian Fellowes spent some time rounding out his character, smoothing off some of those rough edges, even taking him to some admittedly low lows, only to bring him to his highest high—the position he’s always wanted: Head Butler of Downton Abbey.

And I’m happy for him. For all of Thomas’s faults, and there were many over the years, I couldn’t help but feel compassion for him this season. I’m so glad he ended on a good note.

And, as Thomas himself said to Robert, “I arrived here as a boy, but I leave as a man.”

Good for you, Thomas.

Violet and Isobel
These two. Sometimes you loved them, sometimes you hated them, but all along you knew there was no other BFF for either of them. Where would Violet had been if Isobel hadn’t followed her son to town in Season One?

I absolutely loved their last grand adventure—going to rescue Dickie from the clutches of his horrible, greedy daughter-in-law, Amelia.

Violet shows herself to be a true friend when she takes the lead and marches straight into the house to confront the wretched Amelia: “You don’t need Mrs. Crawley to take him off your hands anymore, do you?”

You tell her, Vi!

I know I’ve mentioned this, but I really thought it was so sweet and so fitting (albeit a bit cheesy) that Violet and Isobel got to share the final scene. The two somehow managed to stay up until midnight to toast the New Year, looking really spry, I might add. There they sit together, BFFs, and they reflect.

As usual, Isobel is ready to take on the future with gusto, and Violet wishes she could go back to happier times. Times that aren’t ‘a changin’ quite so fast.

But they chuckle together, realizing that this is who each one is, and each accepting the other, even if they disagree on most things. Kind of reminds me of one of my own dear friends.

Isobel and Dickie
I have to go back to the Great Dickie Merton  Rescue because it was just. so. good.

Didn’t you just love how Dickie, after hearing voices in the hall, comes down the stairs in his bathrobe and tie?! Always the formal one, that Dickie.

Anyway, he’s astonished, as is pretty much everyone, that Isobel has taken matters into her hands to come and rescue him. He also realizes, finally, what his son and daughter-in-law are up to, so he packs his bags (with Izzie’s help) and hands over the keys to his pretty great house.

Dickie has left the building.

But not before he proclaims to his son, 

Larry, as my son, I love you, but I’ve tried and failed to like you.”

And with that, Isobel and Dickie are free to live their own happy ending.

Robert and Cora
OK, just so I’m completely honest here, these two bother me. A lot. They have been such weak characters. And I think they are terrible parents. They act mainly from selfish motives (heck, their marriage was arranged for the best interests of the parties involved), until the very end.

Even in this last episode, Cora gets completely involved in her hospital work and Robert pouts like a baby because she’s not paying attention to him as much as he’d like. They’re like a couple of teenagers!

And when Edith strikes gold, literally, they can barely contain their glee.

Let’s go back to that moment, shall we? Edith calls home late at night to share her happy news. Robert gets out of bed (harrumph) to take the phone call, then comes back to share with Cora. He barrels into the bedroom saying, “You’re not going to believe it!”

And Cora, ever the supportive mother, retorts, “She’s pregnant again.”

Way to go, Cora. Mother of the Year.

They get into a little scuffle about the hospital because Robert is a selfish little baby, but Cora quickly diffuses the situation by saying, “Never mind it now. Edith is going to be happy. Just think about that.”

(And Downton is saved!)

Robert agrees with a hearty Hurrah!

Oh those two.

But I’m including them in my list because this week because there were a couple of sweet and tender moments between them.

Robert finally gets to see Cora in action at the hospital and realizes that she’s actually pretty good at her job.  

“You are a woman of real substance, and I am lucky to call you my wife.”

Now who wouldn’t want to hear that?

Later, just before midnight, Robert and Cora have a moment in the hallway. They still can’t believe that their ugly duckling has landed such good fortune (for them) and that both of their daughters are happy. Everything looks rosy and Robert asks, “What more could we want?”

“A long and happy life to watch the children grow. That’s all I ask,” 

replies Cora.

Seems like the two will be very happy in their empty nest.

Andy and Daisy
One of my favorite lines of the night: 

Is Daisy interested in men?”

We roared at that one.

Still, you knew it would happen, didn’t you? You saw it coming, right?

And if you didn’t see it coming this entire season, you surely saw it coming when Daisy looked up . . .

. . . and saw this.

Yes, Daisy is going to let herself fall in love again. I’m sure it won’t be an easy road for poor Andy—Daisy is no pushover, that’s for sure. But I think they are a sweet match.

She even cut her hair for him!

I wish those two cuties well.

Edith and Bertie
Finally. FINALLY!

Edith gets her man.

And a good one she gets, too.

I am so happy for Edith I could just spit in Potter’s eye. (Oh wait, wrong movie.)

I’m just so happy for Edith!

Bertie had some choice lines tonight.

“Would you believe me if I said I couldn’t live without you?”


And even after Edith protests, suggesting that the gossip about Marigold will be all over before sundown, Bertie holds fast.

“The only thing I’m not ready for is a life without you.”

We always knew Bertie was a stand-up guy, though, didn’t we? He never had an unkind word to say about his cousin, even though he, and pretty much everyone, suspected he was gay, which would have been scandalous back in the 1920s.

Bertie’s mother, however, is an entirely different story. She blows up about Cousin Peter and his forays to Tangiers (as if we’re supposed to know what that even means). But Bertie defends the memory of dear Cousin Peter: “That’s ENOUGH, Mother!”

And Bertie will defend dear Edith too.

Edith proves to be a woman of great character in the end as well, a perfect match for upstanding Bertie, the moral center of the county, according to his mother. Edith tells Mrs. Pelham the truth about Marigold, effectively heading her off at the pass. Mrs. P isn’t happy about it, but in the end she takes the high road for the sake of her son.

And finally. That wedding.

Wasn’t Edith just the picture of beauty and happiness? Oh, that made me so happy.

(But was Mary happy? Or jealous of her sister’s happiness? Oh, who cares.)

Edith wasn’t always my favorite, but she really grew on me these last couple of seasons. I think that’s because she has grown into a mature woman—complicated, honest, compassionate, and sincere. I wish her all the best in her new life.

It’s just too bad her mother-in-law will be living down the hall.


I don’t have time to talk about all the others whose stories got tied up with a happy bow: Molesley and Baxter, Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore, Carson and Hughes (now that they’re calling each other by their first names I think they’re going to be OK), Tom and Miss Edmunds, Mary and Henry (they’re having a baby!), Anna and Bates (it's a Boy!). Perfect endings, all.

I think the only people not ending up together are Denker and Spratt.

And that’s as it should be.

I want to leave you with my favorite line from the finale from, of course, Violet.

Rosamund and her mother are sitting together waiting for Edith’s wedding to start. Rosamund says, “We didn’t always think there’d be a happy ending for Edith.”

Violet responds, “Well, there’s a lot at risk, but with any luck they’ll be happy enough, which is the English version of a happy ending.”

The two sit on that for a moment. Happy enough. Is that what the English are all about?

“What do you think makes the English the way we are?” Rosamund asks her mother.

And then Violet offers this nugget of wisdom that I absolutely loved: 

“Opinions differ. Some say our history, but I blame the weather.”


Thank you again, friends, for being here throughout the six seasons (well, maybe just five—I can’t remember) of my writing about Downton Abbey. It seems superficial, at times, to spend my time writing about a TV show when there are so many other, more worthy topics to write about.

Too quote Robert, Golly!

It’s been such a joy to spend these weeks with you. I hope you’ll stick with me around the blog, even though there may not be as much DA talk. (Although, I don’t think this will be my last DA post.)