Monday, April 23, 2018

Menu Masterlist: Soup

Welcome back to our Menu Masterlist Series.  So far we have covered Chicken and Beef, so today let's talk soup!

If you don't already know our family, you need to know you will not find a lot of fancy tastes around here.  Simple is the key!  Because of that, our list is pretty short and sweet,

We often go out to eat with various church friends on Sundays, so recently I have begun just fixing a simple soup for dinner Sunday night.  We are usually not as hungry after just eating a big meal and let's be honest, it is the end of a week and mom is tired.

Any leftovers make for a perfect Monday lunch!

Remember to use these lists to get you thinking about your family's favorite meals.  Make your own list or just modify these and then use them to help you better meal plan.  By planning you will save money and save yourself the stress of last minute prep.

If you need an easy meal planning worksheet you can use mine!  And if you have a great soup recipe, pass it on- we would love to see it!


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Trading Snow for Cacti

After 26 years in the Air Force, my hero husband has two weeks left in uniform.


Let's take a moment and let that sink in.  OK, I may need more than a moment!

This crazy military wife life is about all I have ever known.  And for sure all my kids have ever known.  It has been challenging many times, but it is what we have done and for the most part we have loved it.  It holds some beautiful memories and we have made the most amazing friends ever.

But that is for another post in a few weeks!  Probably a few posts.

But today I am writing to tell you BIG changes are in our future.  

I already knew BIG changes were coming, but the location- well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Still could probably.  I am still processing!

Bye snow, hello heat.

Dry heat,

And cacti!

And more heat.

And hopefully a swimming pool!

The Pleasants are moving to ARIZONA.

Let's take another moment to let THAT sink in.

Never in a million years would I have ever thought I would announce that statement.  Never.

But that is where the new job is and well, here we go!  In June.  Yes, this June.

My amazing husband will be working with helicopters once again and has a perpetual grin on his face these days.  It is so fun to see him excited about this new path and all the possibilities it will bring.

So for the moment I am trying not to think about goodbyes to some of the best people and the best church ever, but instead keeping in mind that God has a great plan.

I am excited to see what it is!


Monday, April 16, 2018

Menu Masterlist: Beef

Welcome back!  I hope by now you have started creating your own masterlists and begun meal planning.  Once you get started, I promise it is really not that hard!  In a few weeks we will talk about some tricks of the trade to make planning easy and pain free.

Last week I shared our family's masterlist for chicken meals, so this week we will move on to beef.

You will notice it is considerably shorter.  We like red meat, but honestly just do not eat as much of it.

Once again, save the list on your computer and print it out as an easy reference  You can add any of your old favorites or simply mark off what you would not eat.

If you need a menu planning sheet you can use the one I posted last week which also includes a column for you to make a grocery list off your menu plan.  Trust me, it will make your life simpler!

Get cooking, friends!


Monday, April 9, 2018

Menu Masterlist: Chicken

OK friends, I have showed you several months of menus from our home and now it is time to fly on your own!  I have created a Masterlist for each type of food we eat to help you with planning, as well as a Planning and Shopping Template to help you along.

Keep in mind, these are the foods my family likes.  If there is something you are not as fond of, cross it out and add your own.  No worries!

The point is to have a quick reference to make your life easier!

Instead of racking your brain on what to eat for the week you just go down each list and see what sounds good.

Yes, I do have cookbooks that I sometimes refer to, but I have found that we tend to revert back to old favorites and at this point in my life adding new, fancy things to our table is not my goal.

As I heard recently, we are eating to live, not living to eat.  I would rather concentrate on the people I eat with rather than the food in front of us.

This week we will start with Chicken Dishes, as I know that is pretty staple in most diets.  I do have some chicken dishes that go into the crockpot, but we will post those meals on a separate Masterlist for you in the weeks to come.

If you want to use this list for reference, I would recommend saving the graphic on your computer and then print it off.  If you slip it into a page protector, you can check meals off as you go to ensure you do not get into a rut of cooking the same thing all of the time.  It happens to the best of us!

And to make it all official (so when your small child asks you for the hundredth time in the morning what is for dinner) (just saying!) you can send them to the chart. Here is a menu planning sheet for you.  Write your menu on the left and then any ingredients you will need for that particular meal.  I then fold the sheet in half long ways and head off to the grocery store to shop.  Just make sure said sheet makes it back home or you will be lost as to what you planned on making with all those beautiful ingredients.  (Again, just saying!)

There ya go, friends!  Get Planning and I will see you back next week for our next Menu Masterlist!


Monday, April 2, 2018

April 34 Weeks Of Clean Assignments

There is just something about spring that screams CLEAN!  You know, that whole Spring Cleaning thing.  The good news is that if you have been following 34 Weeks of Clean since we started you are already well on your way.  Yay you!!

The bad news is that if you have been with us from the beginning you may also feel like slowing down.   We start off strong and then start to fizzle.  It happens.

Can I encourage you to keep pushing forward?  You are doing great, and even if you have slacked off there is no time like the present to get back on the bandwagon.

You CAN do this!

One week at a time.

Can I also remind you of a few things?

  • Your space did not get dirty in a day, it will not be clean in a day.  It's ok.
  • The more stuff you own, the more stuff you have to clean and organize.  Choose your battles!
  • Our things do not define us!
  • Surround yourself with only the things that are useful and that you love.
So here we go- your month's schedule, including a week off!  Gasp, I know, can you believe it?  You are almost half way there.
Week 18- Half-Time

I am cheering you on!

What's On My Nightstand in April

Welcome to April!  Where has the time gone?

The three books a month thing is working pretty well for me, so for now I am going to stick to that plan.  Before I show you the three new books I have to read in April, let me make a few comments about the ones I chose for last month.

Rain Reign by Ann Miller- This is a good middle school book, but let me warn you ahead of time it is pretty sad in places.  As a matter of fact, it just really hurt my feelings in more than several places.  The main character is greatly misunderstood because of her high functioning autism, and is eventually deserted by her dad.  I do want Colby to read this one, but pretty sure emotionally he is not ready to handle it yet.

Taming the Lecture Bug by Joey and Carla Link-  Another great book by the Links!  It made me think a lot about some ways I handle parenting with our youngest and how to make a few changes we needed to make.  I recommend this one for sure!

Minimalism for Families by Zoe Kim-  I know you probably think I am crazy with the minimalism thing, but I am here to tell you that once you have walked through 34 Weeks of Clean a few times, you look at your stuff differently!  In a good way!  And while I have not gone crazy and thrown everything away, (which is NOT what minimalism is about) I have started to look at my possessions with a much more discerning eye.  Let's just say we have taken a few more trips to the Good Will and a few consignment shops in the past few weeks.

So this month?  Here you go-

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate-  Continuing on with my middle school reads I found this book while ordering Rain Reign.  If it is another one that makes me cry, I am taking a break from middle school books!  Actually, Riley has a long list of books she wants me to read so I will brave that next month.

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flag- See?  I can read adult fiction as well!  I read Fried Green Tomatoes YEARS ago and remember liking it, so when I saw this at the grocery store (I know, I know, pitiful place to find a book!) I grabbed it.  I am looking forward to some light hearted material that hopefully does NOT make me cry.

And lastly, because I am gluten for punishment, I am reading another parenting book- Why Can't I Get My Kids to Behave by Joey and Carla Link.   I really enjoyed the last book I read by the Links so I am actually looking forward to this one.  It is no secret that we are raising a strong willed child after three laid back, easy children, so I am always up to learning a few new tricks.

So here we go- let's get reading, friends!  I would love to hear what you are currently reading.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Going on an Adventure With Carole

My boys love History, Geography and adventure!  There are days they exhaust me with their constant need to tell me everything they know about those subjects, honestly.  But let's face it- there is much worse knowledge to have and when they can get it by reading amazing books from Carole P. Roman, this mom is happy!  We have been blessed to review Carole's books before but for this review we were blessed with the books If You Were Me and Lived In...Peru, If You Were Me and Lived In... Brazil and If You Were Me and Lived In...Scotland from the Carole P. Roman Books and Collections.

IF you were me and lived in ...
Carole recommends her culturally based book for ages 4-9ish, but I would most definitely extend that age range.  My son is 10 and at a higher reading level and loves these books and their format.  While the reading level and stories may be at that 4-9 age range, the information is most definitely not and can be enjoyed by a much wider target audience.

Traditions, vocabulary, geography, and more are presented in each book and at the end of the story you will find a pronunciation guide that gives not only the pronunciation, but also definition of unfamiliar or location-specific words.  Your child will learn the words for "mom"and "dad" in each country, visit famous places, see what foods are popular, and even see what kind of celebrations take place there.

We were so excited to add these to our growing collection-

If You Were Me and Lived In...Peru- 
My son, Colby, chose Peru because of its location in South America.  Because he was born in Guatemala, he loves learning about nearby countries and seeing people who look similar to him.  Although all of the pictures are drawings, they are colorful and the skintones of the local people are realistic.  In this 25 page book we learned that the capital of Peru is Lima, that the currency is called Nuevos Soles, and a little about the ancient city Machu Picchu. Colby's favorite part of the book was about the celebration Carnival in which people celebrate in the streets with squirt guns, water balloons, and even buckets of water to pour on people.  Go figure!

If You Were Me and Lived In... Brazil-

We chose Brazil for the same reason, it's located in South America.  I will tell you though, because the people in Brazil speak Portuguese, the vocabulary in this 26 page book was harder for us to pronounce! Thank goodness for the pronunciation guide, although I am pretty sure we are still messing up a few words.  In this book we learned that a country can actually decide to move its capital city, as Brazil has done, as well as about the Amazon Rain Forest and the Brazilian Grand Prix.  We decided we would like to try their dessert, called Brigaderos, since it involves butter, milk, sugar and cocoa powder!

If You Were Me and Lived in...Scotland-

This one we asked for in honor of Colby's two older sisters who traveled to Scotland this past summer.  It was so fun to read about places they had been able to visit and things they had taken pictures of for us such as the capital of Edinburgh and the famous dish Haggis, made of meat and spices cooked in a sheep's stomach.  And yes, my daughters actually ate some!

And did you know that the unicorn is the official animal of Scotland?  Who knew?

Whether you enjoy exploring the world from the safety of your own home, or just love finding books you can read together as a family, I have no doubt you will love adding  Carole P. Roman Books and Collections to your home.  There are many to choose from- have fun!

Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 26, 2018

Our Last Monday Menu

Yes, I will still be cooking, but this is the last week I will post our menu for the week.  Next week I will be rolling out the first of our Menu Masterlists and a Menu and Shopping Printable to help you with your planning.  With these tools, I hope menu planning will be made easier and maybe even a bit more enjoyable for you!

So here goes-

Monday- Out to eat

Tuesday- Hamburgers

Wednesday- Ham and Scallop Casserole

Thursday- Orange and Balsamic Chicken

Friday- Shortcut Chicken Manicotti

Saturday- Southwest Chicken Chowder

Sunday- Easter Meal

What does your Easter meal look like?  We will be having ham, mashed potato casserole. green bean casserole. deviled eggs and rolls. 


Friday, March 23, 2018

Gift Cards For The Win

Seriously, friends, gift cards are the bomb diggety.  (Yep, I am from that generation of slang!)

One of the things I talked about in a post about Living Deliberately was to have a more regular date night with my husband.  Let me tell you why that is often a challenge-
  • His schedule
  • My schedule
  • We are old and tired
  • We follow a budget
Seriously, that is my story and I am sticking to it.  The story, that is, but not the bad habit of not going on dates.  THAT I am determined to change.

Quite honestly, the biggest deterrent for our date night is the money.  It is not necessarily that we don't have the money to go out, it is that we are Dave Ramsey wannabes and dates fall under the entertainment category.  As do meals with our kids, including our almost weekly Sunday meal out with friends.  Having a limited amount budgeted means we pick and choose, and honestly kids and friends often trump husband and wife.

Still with me?

Here is where the gift cards part comes in.

Thanks to my mom and her Christmas gift to my hubby, we are using gift cards to go out.  It may seem like a little thing to you, but it is BIG for us.  Again, not that we couldn't do it otherwise, but just the fact that we feel like we do not have to deprive others to have fun ourselves.   It just makes it more fun and less of a guilty pleasure.

I know, I know, it is probably just me but work with me here.

Gifts cards make going out to eat fun.

For naysayers who say gift cards are the lazy mans' gift, don't you listen to them.

They are the bomb diggety!

Happy Date Night, friends!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Zirrly 3D Bead Fun

I haven't gotten the chance to do too many reviews this year that involved fun with the boys, so this Homeschool Review Crew review was a special treat!  What makes it more fun is that Super Beads from Zirrly is not just a homeschool product- it is a KID product, and a neat one at that!

Yes, we got to play with the Super Beads 3D Car and Truck kit.  I mean, what boy doesn't like cars and trucks?!

So what are Zirrly Super Beads?
Remember the days of ironing a bunch of little beads together to make neat designs on trays?  Well, those little beads are actually called Perler Beads, and when put together they can create some fun things.  The problem we found in the past was that those projects required the heat of a HOT iron to fuse them together.  A hot iron.  With a kids' project.  See the problem?  I am sure that somewhere it seemed like a good idea on paper, but the reality of it was it was dangerous for kids to do alone.

Enter Zirrly Super beads.  These are the same concept of design fun, but involve fusing the beads together with WATER.  Yes, you read that correctly- WATER!  How cool is that?  Just spritz the beads once you have them set in place, and wait 20-30 minutes for them to "set" and dry.

What comes in each kit?
Each of the specific projects kits, like the Jungle Animals, Birds and Jewelry Set, come with beads to complete the project (and extras), several work boards and the design(s) templates, a design tools, a spray bottle and a tray to help keep things contained.  And instructions, of course.  You can also just purchase a bag of 4500 beads of all colors.

Our Experience-
Colby, age 10, and I started the Super Beads 3D Car and Truck together.  We opened each colored bead packet and put them in the tray for safe keeping.  

He then put the design templates behind each tray and laid out the beads. 

Once the beads were laid out, he sprayed them with water.  Here is one place we struggled a bit.  The instructions do not indicate how much or how little water to use.  By trial and error he figured that out, but a couple of times had to go back and respray a section to fuse it better.

Once the beads are set properly you simply remove your project from the project boards.  For the 3D designs, now the hard part begins.  With a series of pegs that you put beads on, you attach the different flat designs together to create the 3D effect.  It can be a bit tricky with one set of little hands.

Luckily for us, my 16 was around and intrigued and was able to help sort out a few bits of confusion.  Mom stepped away and the boys finished on their own!

Note that we started with the truck, which we did decide was the harder of the two vehicles to put together.  Once we did that one, Colby was able to complete the car with minimal help.  

Pros and cons-
One of the neat things about these Super Beads is that they are more flexible than the original Perler beads.  When you pull them off the trays they tend to be softer and more pliable and therefore less likely to break, which is a huge advantage when you are dealing with the 3D sets.  

Of course, I also love that they are safer to use.  The 3D sets are recommended for kids 10 and up because of the complexity, but even at that age I would be hesitant to set a child loose with a hot iron so using this water method is perfect.  

Since these types of projects are often used in groups like school clubs or VBS, this allows for an easier and safer set up!

It is also nice that if a bead comes off all you have to do is spray it with water and stick it right back on.  Easy fix!

The only con I have for Zurrly Super Beads is the instructions.  Like many similar projects, the directions are all pictures.  Let's just say this momma struggled with that a bit.  I will say however, the boys seemed to understand them better- probably from lots of building experiences that come with pages of pictured instructions.  While I do not think this would affect the flat designs, since the 3D sets are a bit more complicated the adult in me would have loved to have seen a few words in the instructions. 

Overall, we loved using Zirrly Super Beads and would highly recommend them.  Think summer fun, VBS, or even birthday party activities.  The possibilities are endless and the choices for sets are plentiful!  Have some fun with your kids this summer!

Super Beads {Zirrly Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Menu and A New Plan

Happy Monday and welcome back to Monday Menu!  If all goes according to plan, I will have two more weeks of menus for you before I unveil my Menu Masterlists!  I have been busy compiling complete lists of meals for you so that with a quick glace at a category (beef, chicken, pork, soups, etc.) you can very quickly put together a menu plan to suit YOU!

I also hope to be able to share with you a printable of my new Menu/shopping list to help you out with that planning!

Until then, and after a crazy busy Spring Break week, it is back to normal- well, as normal as this house gets.

Monday- Egg Rolls

Tuesday- Tacos

Wednesday- Angela's Stove Top Chicken

Thursday- Chicken Noodle Casserole

Friday- Italian Stuffed Shells

Saturday- Bacon and Eggs

Sunday- Veggie Beef Noodle Soup


Friday, March 16, 2018

Quick Lunch Ideas for Busy Moms

I have said it before and I will say it again, I do not like lunch hour.  Seriously, if I ever sent my kids to public school, it could very well be for the sole reason that I would not have to fix lunch for them.

I really do not mind cooking usually, but there is just something about lunch time that fills this mom's heart with dread.  It is tedious, it is redundant, and quick frankly, it is not rewarding in the least.  Yes, they do not starve, but no one sings mom's praises for a lunch well made.

I used to stress about lunch.  Notice the past tense.  No more, my friends.  Luckily for us all, my kids have gotten old enough to work some magic in the kitchen by themselves and I have stopped trying to be supermom.  I am all about the getting food in their mouths and worrying less about what kind of food specifically.  I have come to peace with the fact that they will not suffer ill affects from not so perfect, not so lovely, and maybe even no so nutritious lunches.

There, I said it.  Some of my kids' lunches are not the most healthy.  They are also not themed and they don't come in cute little divided plates.  Gasp, I know!

So WHAT do my kids eat for lunches exactly?  To make life easier on me, and them since they usually fix it, I made a list for quick reference that hangs on our fridge.  It is not complete, but it gives them some ideas to get started.

  • Left overs.  This is by far their least favorite thing, but the rules are if there are several leftovers in the fridge they must be eaten first.  Luckily for them their dad takes his lunch and we often do not have left overs, so you do not have to worry that they suffer often.
  • Sandwiches- Also not a favorite in our house, but an occasional go to, especially if we are in a hurry.  We stopped eating lunch meat many years ago for health concerns, and only in the recent years have begun to have lunch meat around more often.  They would both prefer peanut butter and jelly if given a choice anyway.
  • Mac and Cheese- Homemade or boxed- up to them.
  • Pizza- I try to keep pizza, big ones and mini ones, in our freezer and do limit them to one a week or otherwise this would be there go to.  BOYS!  We also make homemade pizzas as well as hamburger bun pizzas.
  • Stuffed baked potatoes
  • Cheese melts on tortillas
  • Soup- Usually chicken rice or chicken noodle using leftover chicken.
  • Chicken nuggets- Yep, we do.
  • Taquitoes- Sometimes homemade, but often frozen from a box.
  • Cheese-steaks- Yes, I occasionally buy the kits for a fun treat.

  • Hot dogs and chips- This is another food we walked away from years ago.  The girls did not miss them at all.  The boys thought I was deliberately torturing them, so we have slowly allowed them back into our lives on a limited basis.
  • Fruit, cheese and meats- OK, admittedly this is one in my dreams.  I see parents of young children getting by with this, but I have to tell you when I have tried this in the past I have received looks like, cute, mom, where's the real food.
I am sure there are more, but you get the idea.

In our house we check off the lunch box and move on.  Rumbling tummies stop rumbling, mom is happier, and the day goes on!  I promise that our breakfasts and dinners are more nutritious and well thought out, but I also promise that now that the lunch stress is off me, I am a happier momma!

Score one for me and one for the kids!


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Parenting Resources I Need

Most of the time I review things that are geared towards homeschooling and the kids.  This review is different thanks to Parenting Made Practical!  This one is just for parents.  And because being Product Manager of the Homeschool Review Crew has its privileges, I received several products this time, two that I want to share with you today- Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think (DVD and book) and Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate, WHAT WORKS?

For the record and in case you are new to Family, Faith and Fridays, I am the mom of four kiddos: two older kids (college and up) and two boys still at home, ages 16 and 10.  I have been parenting with my cute hubby for 24 years now and yet sometimes I feel it is still our first rodeo.

You know what I mean?   Just when you think you have it down, someone, or some child, changes the rules.  And on top of that, each child is different and often requires an additional set of rules.  Or two!

Which takes me to Taming The Lecture Bug.  I wasn't going to read this initially, I mean, I am a pro at parenting after all.  Ha- NOT!  But I have done it for a while now and have my methods down pat.

Including some maybe not so good methods, if I am judging by my recent rants.

I admit it.  I am a lecturer.  And quite honestly, I am just now realizing the extent of it.  This book sat on my desk and stared me down for a week.  Each day I would look at the title and think hmmm, that is not for me, I am sure.  And then one day after a particularly hard day with my youngest, I decided to pick it up and take a look.  Then I did not put it down.

Well, I did put it down after about chapter 4, because I could not read it fast enough for my liking.  Instead, I popped in the video for more instant gratification, via an hour of viewing.  And then I picked up the book and finished reading throughout that week.

What did I learn?

I am a lecturer!  Have I mentioned that already?

According to Joey and Carla Link, founders of Parenting Made Practical and authors of Taming the Lecture Bug, we as parents lecture because we do not know what to do.  Our kids misbehave, SIN, and we somehow think our amazing words of wisdom are going to change their ways.

Guess what?  It doesn't happen.  No surprise there, right?

So what should we do instead?

According to the Links, and I totally agree, instead of focusing on the behavior, or the WHAT, we need to focus more on the whys, the REASON behind what has taken place.  When we reach the heart and fix the heart issues, often pride or stubbornness, we are more likely to be able to change the behavior.

In the book and again in the video, the Links walk you through better approaches to misbehavior, giving specific scenarios and how they think they should be handled.  They even act out a scene with their now grown daughter, Amy.  One of the techniques they use and teach is the art of asking questions.  "Why did you do that?"  "How do you think that made me feel?" and  "What could you do differently next time?"  are just a few.

Here are some things that have really stuck with me-

  • First make sure your child's attitude is right!  If they are closed minded and have a closed heart, you need to wait.  Send them to a quiet spot to regroup and then come back and try again.  This drove my youngest crazy but it did work.  If nothing else, it diffused the tension or just plain wore him out with multiple trips to the steps to regroup.  He may have a hatred of steps by the time he is 18, just saying.
  • By lecturing, I am taking responsibility of the situation, while still not solving anything.  As the Links stated, it is not like the rules are new and unknown.  They really do not need to be restated, no matter how eloquent I think I am.  They just need to be obeyed.  
  • My son may not love lecturing, but he loved the questions even less.  :)  At one point he even asked me, "Why do you keep asking me questions?"  It almost made me laugh.  But it DID make him stop and think about what he was doing and why!
  • "I don't know" is not an appropriate response.  Neither is "maybe", or "sort of" or "probably".  When you ask a yes or no question, require a yes or no response.  This, too, drove my son batty a few times.  If he started to argue or give excuses I would remind him it was a yes or no question.  I won't tell you exactly how many times I had to repeat that in a row one day.
  • Disobedience IS sin.  Not a whoops or an uh oh, but a sin and needs to be treated as such.  Just by adding the name sin to a behavior added more weight to it in my son's eyes.
  •  I am not responsible for my child's actions, he is.  Lecturing takes that ownership away from them, asking questions gives it back to them. 

Final thoughts-
If you are not a book person, watch the DVD!  It is perfect for auditory learners and it is fun to see the humor and interaction the Links have.  If DVDs are not your thing, read the book instead.  The information is pretty much the same in both, although the book does have a few additional examples and each chapter ends with a letter from parents who have learned and used this system with success, which I greatly appreciate!  It encouraged me to hear I was not alone in a few of my struggles and that other parents have seen changes, even after years of parenting.  Also at the back of the book is a great chart for kids to use for retraining a stubborn heart, that is for them to fill in.  We have not used it yet, but I have made copies.  Just in case.

It is never too late to start something new and have it work.

And about that Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate...WHAT WORKS? video and workbook-

As I mentioned, my oldest two are girls, ages 20 and 24.  We had pretty strict dating rules when they were in highschool- as in, NO!  Times change, people change- you know the drill.

Right now we honestly float in the "we have no idea what we are doing" pool.  They are older now and make their own decisions, but quite honestly after walking through a few bad dating experiences with them we have thrown up our hands in defeat.

No, we do not want our kids to casually date every random person that crosses their path, nor do believe that "courting" in the old fashioned sense of the word works either.  It's a tough road and one that I dread being on again with our boys.

In Dating, Courting & Choosing a Mate, WHAT WORKS?, Joey and Carla Link introduce a concept called friendship dating that is closer to a middle of the road compromise I am more comfortable with.  Instead of focusing on dating rules, they focus on the concept of getting to know someone without too much emotional attachment at first.  The Links talk about four stages of a relationship leading to marriage-
  • potential
  • possible
  • probably
  • and proposal
With each of these stages they encourage asking a lot of questions specific to that stage.  (yes, more questions)  It's about setting appropriate boundaries and sticking to them.

So let me tell you my 2 biggest takeaways from this workbook and accompanying 2 hour video.

Kids must eventually take ownership of their own relationships.  If we are so involved with their relationships and the decisions they make, when do they or will they ever learn to make decisions on their own?  Yes, I know one must take age into account here, but I would argue that if you are afraid they are not old enough to make decisions, they are probably not old enough to be in a relationship either!

The second thing that really struck me was the concept of a girl's father becoming THE mentor in her suitor's life.  This is a HUGE deal in the courtship community, this idea that you must take a young man your daughter might be interested in and "mold" him and "train" him.  While not bashing the courtship model, the Link's shared their opinion that while all of us need and can benefit from mentors, there is NO man that should ever take the place of a young man's father, if he has one in place.  When our sons are interested in a relationship with a girl, we do not simply hand over the reins to someone else to guide them.  That is a job given to us by God, not to someone else.

I will admit, this is still a muddy pool to me, but one I am at least a little less fearful to swim in.  After watching the video myself, I am hoping to now sit down and watch it with my older son and allow him to complete the workbook pages.  It is my prayer that it will help facilitate much discussion and maybe help us come up with a more clearly defined plan for our family.

You can find many more Biblical based parent resources from the Links and their Parenting Made Practical website.  Next on my list is the one entitled Mom's Notes, with 40 teaching presentations in 5 volumes of parenting advice and training.

Again, it is never to late to learn!

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