Monday, September 26, 2011

Spirit-Led Parenting : Be a part of the project - Part Two

Last week, Megan and I put out a call for your stories related to some topics we are exploring in our book. We have received some great responses so far, and are honored and grateful that you are willing to lend your voices to this project!

As promised, today we are offering the second half of subjects for your input. The submission instructions are listed once again at the end of this post. We would love to have your contributions collected by October 10th (two weeks from today).

Once again, thank you so much for your willingness to share your stories and your hearts with us!

If you breastfed, did you encounter challenges that surprised you? What words of wisdom or resources helped you to overcome those difficulties? How did you handle scheduled vs. demand feedings, and did you feel pressure in that decision? If you embraced extended breastfeeding (beyond one year), tell us about any initial expectations you had about how long you would breastfeed, and how those feelings may have shifted over time.

If you wanted to breastfeed and found yourself making the switch to formula, tell us about how you overcame any disappointment you felt and came to a place of peace.

In the early months of parenthood, were you cautioned against spoiling your baby by holding them too much? Tell us about the ways you nurtured your connection with your child and formed a healthy, secure attachment.

If you walked through post-partum depression, would you share your story with us? How did PPD impact your entrance into motherhood, and how did God redeem those dark days in your life and your relationship with your child?

While expecting your child, or in their infancy, did you receive advice from friends and loved ones or popular Christian parenting manuals that caused you to feel pressured toward a certain style of parenting or set of infant-care methods? Tell us about messages you may have received about “the Biblical way” to care for your baby, and any struggles those assumptions caused in your heart and home if they conflicted with the direction you felt led as a family.

Share with us the joys and struggles you have experienced as you’ve turned from the opinions of outside voices and embraced the leading of the Holy Spirit in parenting your baby in their first year of life. How has this heart focus brought blessing to your home, your marriage, and your relationship with God? What have been some of the challenges?

What words of encouragement would you offer to moms and dads who are just starting out on this journey and desire to honor God in their parenting?

* * * *

As you submit your stories, feel free to tell us as much as you'd like! As a general rule, we will probably use portions that would be the length and scope of a typical blog comment. However, we definitely welcome more detail.

Instructions for submission:

1. Send responses via email to

2. Use the subject line to tell which topic you are responding to; for example, subject line should read: SLEEP or CO-SLEEP, etc.

3. Send a separate email for each topic.

4. Responses must be typed into email directly. DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS.

5. You will receive an automatic response to confirm your story has been received. As much as we would love to respond to each story personally, there is no way we can practically do so. However, please know that every response will be read by us.

6. We reserve the right to edit all submissions for clarity, format, brevity, readability, and grammatical choices.

7. Please include the name/info you would be comfortable with for reference in the book. (i.e. "Laura, Indiana")

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Links - 9/24/11

World's Largest Water Balloon Fight - This looks so fun!

Fast Food Folk Song - One of my favorites.

Webcam 101 For Seniors - This is one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

First-Person Tetris - Just fun.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Spirit-Led Parenting : Be a part of the project!

Megan and I are very excited about today's post!

In recent years, as we have pursued the call of this book, we have gained an enormous amount of support and encouragement from the discussions and conversations that have followed our posts, both here and at SortaCrunchy. Your comments and e-mails have made us laugh, moved us to tears, reminded us that we aren't alone, and blessed us beyond belief. Community is so very important as we follow God and discern the direction of the Holy Spirit, and we've found that to be especially true in parenting. In those days when you can't see through the haze to the road He has set before you, a word of encouragement or been-there-done-that testimony of grace is like fresh air. In Spirit-Led Parenting, we want to offer a lifeline to new parents by sharing our own journeys through heartache and disillusionment to redemption and peace.

But we aren't the only ones who have been there. And that's where YOU come in!

We would love to include your voices in the pages of Spirit-Led Parenting. As we explore some subjects that loom large during baby's first year, we would be honored to share your stories as well. Your own lessons learned, difficult struggles, and moments of clarity. The ways God has revealed Himself to you as you've cared for your babies. Wisdom, both practical and spiritual, for getting through.

We have several topics that we want to offer for your input. The first half are listed below, and the next half will be posted next Monday. See the bottom of this post for submission instructions.

Tell us how the issue of infant sleep affected your parenting choices. If your baby did not sleep through the night by six or eight weeks, tell how that affected your opinion of yourself as an effective parent and/or how that influenced your conversations with others about how your baby was sleeping at night.

If you practice nighttime parenting (you attend to baby's needs throughout the night just the way you would throughout the day), tell about how you have experienced God's presence or comfort or hope during those times.

If you practice nighttime parenting, tell about the practical measures you take to take care of yourself to balance the physical toll of lack of sleep.

Have you experienced co-sleeping to be a taboo topic in Christian parenting circles? If so, what factors caused you to feel like this was something you couldn't talk to other Christian parents about?

Tell about how co-sleeping had a positive, healthy, or helpful impact on your marriage or on your family in general. Share special moments or memories of sharing sleep with your baby.

Tell about practical ways you made co-sleeping work for your family: i.e., how you made time and space for intimacy; the physical space you created for sleep; part-time co-sleeping, etc.

Tell how trying to adhere to a schedule with set times for feeding and/or sleeping caused anxiety or stress for you as a new parent.

Tell about how routine plays a role in life with a new baby. Did the routine evolve naturally? Did you guide it? What does routine look like in your family in the new baby season of life?

Tell about the fears you had for your marriage as you anticipated parenthood, and where those worries came from. Did you feel pressure to care for your baby in a particular way because you were under the impression that it would protect your marriage?

Talk about how your marriage has grown stronger and your connection deeper since adding children to your home. Share examples of how God has expanded your understanding of love, commitment, and servanthood as you’ve parented together by following the lead of His Spirit.

Yep, we're going there! Tell about how you approached sex in the midst of life with a baby. Share any creative solutions you discovered as well as what helped you to be in the right mindset to be open to sex and intimacy throughout the first year of baby's life.

* * * *

As you submit your stories, feel free to tell us as much as you'd like! As a general rule, we will probably use portions that would be the length and scope of a typical blog comment. However, we definitely welcome more detail.

Instructions for submission:

1. Send responses via email to

2. Use the subject line to tell which topic you are responding to; for example, subject line should read: SLEEP or CO-SLEEP, etc.

3. Send a separate email for each topic.

4. Responses must be typed into email directly. DO NOT SEND ATTACHMENTS.

5. You will receive an automatic response to confirm your story has been received. As much as we would love to respond to each story personally, there is no way we can practically do so. However, please know that every response will be read by us.

6. We reserve the right to edit all submissions for clarity, format, brevity, readability, and grammatical choices.

7. Please include the name/info you would be comfortable with for reference in the book. (i.e. "Laura, Indiana")

We would love to have the stories collected by October 10th.

Thank you so much for joining with us! Words cannot express our appreciation and excitement!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm sure it's a lovely shopping exerience for normal people.

Shopping at Kohl's stresses me out. Aside from the sheer volume of items available, my overwhelm-ment comes mostly from never really being sure whether or not I'm getting a good deal on anything. Because Kohls is a master of the sale.

For someone like me who can be a little obsessive over scouting out the lowest price on any given item, I'm never confident about when to buy. Should I go this week when the ENTIRE STOCK of women's handbags is 30% off? Or will next week's sales flyer scream POWER HOURS or EARLY BIRD, letting me know that I'll get a lower price if I shop early? What if the BIGGEST SALE OF THE SEASON is approaching? (As it seems to every few weeks.) And what about the Kohl's cash? Oh, Lord help me. The Kohl's cash.

It's just too much, people.

The other night, however, Mark needed new shoes for work. And we heard - much to our great shock - that Kohl's might be having a sale of some sort. So off we went, joking on the way there about which form of incredible deal we might encounter.

Imagine how tickled we were, then, to find this:

A pair of men's shoes - Regular price $70. On sale for $75.

An interesting sales tactic, but one that made an evening of shoe-shopping much more enjoyable.

(And he even found shoes. At a price that was lower than the regular one.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spirit-Led Parenting : Foundations of our Philosophy

This week, Megan and I would love to share with you some of the foundational beliefs that have inspired and motivated this book. (Some of you long-time followers of Megan's blog, SortaCrunchy, may recognize these thoughts from a post that came near the beginning of another discussion series a couple of years ago!)

We want to state once again, as Megan did in our last discussion post, that we are not in any way attacking parents who have chosen different approaches to parenting their babies. Parents whom we know and dearly love have found great success in practicing the methods set forth by books such as On Becoming Babywise and other similar parenting philosophies, and we would never condemn any parent for lovingly and thoughtfully choosing to follow what works for them as a family in their unique set of circumstances.

Today we are setting forth the foundational beliefs that we share. These beliefs are at the core of what we have written, and these are the principles we are passionate about sharing with Christian parents who want to consider an alternative to what mainstream books on parenting promote. We realize that some of this may be controversial (in our areas of the country, at least!), perhaps even radical, and we are opening ourselves up to be challenged in the ensuing discussions.

Foundations of Our Philosophy:

1) We believe each baby is a magnificent and miraculous creation of God; each is a unique individual with a personality and temperament all his own. Imposing a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting can frequently lead to undue frustration and/or disillusionment, and may hinder parents from experiencing the wonder of God's creation in the person of their baby.

2) We believe that because each baby is entirely known by our Creator God, it is important to rely on the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of man in parenting each baby individually. We can call on the Word of God as well as promptings of His Spirit within us to receive divine guidance in our parenting choices.

3) We believe that babies cry to express their needs, not to control or manipulate their parents. We stand with documented and sound research which indicates that responding to baby's cries promotes brain development, social skills, and secure attachment.

4) We acknowledge that babies are, by design, very needy. We believe surrendering ourselves as we meet the needs of our babies in their first year of life is one way in which we can answer Christ's call to servanthood in our own homes.

5) We believe that oftentimes when parents try to avoid the "idolatry of the firstborn" or "idolatry of the newborn," they may fall victim to the idolatry of scheduling. While we fully embrace and understand the importance of routine in shaping the events of a baby's day, we believe that sometimes a preoccupation with scheduling can stand in the way of Christian parents experiencing a deep and meaningful season of spiritual growth and the moments of joy and gratitude inherent in parenting new babies.

6) We believe that God intends the marriage relationship to be the primary and central relationship in the home, and that it should be honored, nurtured, and treasured as such. We believe that parenting together out of a servanthood mindset, led by the Holy Spirit, can actually strengthen the marriage relationship and bring about a deeper level of love, appreciation, and intimacy between husband and wife.

We are not writing an Attachment Parenting manual. While we have each embraced aspects of parenting that mirror or follow some core tenets of the Attachment Parenting style, we have also chosen a number of paths that fall outside of the AP realm. (SortaCrunchy's name is actually inspired by this both-worlds mentality!) We are definitely disheartened by the way that we perceive mainstream Christian parenting manuals encourage a sort of detachment between parent and child, and we do not believe it is possible to spoil an infant by holding, cuddling, or tending to them “too much”. Our overall message, though, is one not so much of method, but mindset. One that encourages consistent response and an attitude of servanthood, and one that we believe is modeled after the very heart of God the Father.

We will expand much more on these topics and many more in the coming weeks! As always, we welcome your comments and look forward to engaging in honest, safe, respectful discussion together.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Links - 9/10/11 - The How-To Edition

1. How to fold a shirt in two seconds. This one both fascinates and frightens me. I don't get it, but I REALLY want to...

2. How to style long hair in 10 everyday styles. Yes, please. I need help.

3. How to make perfect iced coffee. From the Pioneer Woman herself. Ree always knows the perfect way to make anything.

Perfect Iced Coffee Recipe

4. How to write an incredible blog post. Ok, so this one isn't instructional at all, but Jen Hatmaker's brilliant, moving post this past week about the reality that comes with adopting two orphans from Ethiopia will make you laugh, cry, and think. Beautiful and challenging.

After the Airport

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

They might want to increase the meal rations for the barnyard specimens.

The holiday weekend sort of threw the posting schedule off here, so Megan and I will be back on Monday to share some of the foundations of the philosophy behind Spirit-Led Parenting. We'd love for you to join the discussion!

* * *

In other news, we really need to take our kids to a museum. This past Saturday morning when they were bored and didn't want to go out in the heat to play (before the temperature dropped 40 degrees in two days and autumn arrived with a sudden "hey there!"), Maya and Noah made their own museum. Which turned out more like sort of a strange zoo. Still adorable and creative, but a definite cry for a day trip to Chicago to check out the real thing.

Without further ado, I present..."Maya and Noah's Museum of Animals"!

"Yellow-tailed snake exhibit". The palm tree indicates that this reptile must be of a tropical variety.

"Hippopotamus eating exhibit". After hearing the name, I was relieved that this ended up being an opportunity to observe a hippopotamus having a lunch of Melissa & Doug brand wooden cookies, rather than one where visitors get to sample some hippopotamus.

The "duck pen". Where you can watch a variety of waterfowl in their natural habitat of red brick.

The "barnyard area". This one was right next to the ducks, which made the proportion discrepancy rather alarming. But where else can you say you used a magnifying glass to identify a cow and goat?

The "dinosaur section". As you can see, the herbivores and carnivores have all been perusing Microsoft Server Administration MCITP Exam 70-646. I'm fairly certain that's what killed them.

I did not get pictures of the "African journey", which circled our dining room table, and where we were offered the opportunity to feed a lion or hold a giraffe. I'm thinking this museum must have a crazy-high liability insurance premium. (I opted to hold a giraffe, by the way.)

I love these kids.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weekend Links - 9/3/11 - A few laughs for Labor Day

I need a few laughs this weekend, how about you?

1. This isn't really a link, but I had to share it anyway. My friend Rachel and I took our kids to a nearby county park last Wednesday to walk the trails, play on some playgrounds, and have a picnic lunch. I adore the sign that greets each vehicle that enters the grounds.

As a visitor to the park, I'm very comforted to know that this county is serious about cracking down on loose animals, scattered trash, and ethnic candy-filled paper mache crafts. You really can never be too careful about such things.

2. Have you seen these? I was introduced this week to a set of videos produced by R&L Local Commercials, two guys who travel around making real commercials for local businesses, using their employees as the stars. Most local commercials are notoriously painful, but Rhett and Link have a gift for hilarity. If you like this one, check out the rest of their playlist!

3. Another video that made me giggle this week? The World's Shortest Train. (Yes, I know it's totally fake, but I still find it amusing.)

4. I saw this one awhile back but happened upon it again this week. Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake? That's a can't-lose combination. (FYI - This may not be completely kid-friendly!)

5. Also, if you aren't reading Catalog really should be.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Disqus is making it impossible to discuss at the moment.

In the two weeks since I've installed Disqus to run a better, more efficient commenting system here, they've had two outages that have caused commenting to be completely down and previous comments to temporarily disappear.

You can imagine how happy this makes me.

I apologize to anyone who has been wanting to join the discussion on Monday's post, and all of the multitudes of people who I know are just itching to weigh in on the bacon cake debate. (Or maybe two of you.) Anyway, Disqus claims they are "working on the problem" and "hope to have it resolved soon". So, I think we can all be reassured that it will be up and running at some non-specific time in the near or distant future, and then will likely go down again in about a week. Hooray!

Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I wonder if it could be considered a breakfast food...

So, I made a bacon cake last weekend. Yes, that's right.

Browsing through this month's Good Housekeeping, I had happened upon a section of recipes created by Katrina Markoff, of Vosges Haut-Chocolat. According to the article, her company "specializes in bringing global flavors to chocolate". (You will not find me arguing with that mission. And her website makes me swoon!) One of the recipes in the featured collection was a Bacon-Laced Chocolate Cake. My first reaction? "What the...?" My next reaction? "Well, hold on...I enjoy bacon...I enjoy chocolate cake...I am not above attempting a recipe that asks you to incorporate bacon drippings into a ganache-style frosting...hmmmm."

So I did what any completely secure person would do in this sort of decision-making process: I asked Facebook. Well, my Facebook friends, to be specific. I didn't call up Mark Zuckerberg. Although that would have made this post about 800% more interesting. Anyway, while some seemed unsure and others slightly horrified, there were enough people who expressed intrigue that I decided to try this one out. It was my week to bring dessert for small group anyway, so YAY!

In that status thread, my lovely friend Michelle asked me to blog the process. I promised I would, even though this post will show you in no uncertain terms that I lack the photography and artistic skills necessary to be real food blogger. But, here we go!

1. First, I baked a two-layer dark chocolate cake. (No picture, because I forgot to take one. See? This is why my actual food blog is so sad and neglected.)

2. Next, as one always does when one is ready to make some chocolate frosting, I fried up some bacon! (This is getting weird, right? Bear with me.)

This step left me with the requisite 1/3 cup crumbled bacon, and 1 Tablespoon bacon drippings. Observe them in their splendor.

3. Well, that's enough of that. Now, observe THIS in it's splendor. What we have here is about two cups worth of bittersweet chocolate mixed with semi-sweet. (I would have used all semi-sweet, but this is what I had. So I did throw in a few tablespoons of powdered sugar to kick up the sweet a little bit.

4. Grab some liquid smoke. Because that's not at all strange.

5. Then pour two cups of just-boiling whipping cream over the lovely chopped chocolate, and add a few drops of the liquid smoke and the bacon drippings. Because what your arteries definitely need in addition to a whole bunch of heavy whipping cream is some bacon grease. It's so wrong...and yet a little bit right, don't you think? Whisk it all together until it's lovely like this.

6. You have to put the frosting in the freezer for about a half-hour, stirring frequently, so that it can reach a spreadable consistency. I didn't photograph this, because BORING.

But then you take about a 1/2 cup of the prepared frosting, and mix in that 1/3 cup crumbled bacon. This will be your filling. Mmmmm...

Odd on many levels.

7. Use the rest of the frosting to ice the sides and top of the cake. I always use the wax paper trick, because I am a messy frost-er.


And...tada! A piece of Bacon-Laced Chocolate Cake all ready for our first brave small group tester, Tim, to sample. When he didn't immediately die, the rest of us dove in.

It got pretty good reviews! Everyone agreed that the bacon essence was really subtle - although obviously the filling had it's moments of more obvious flavor-combo. It was really more of a sweet/salty/smoky thing that worked quite nicely. Definitely not as good the second day, though. It's one you should enjoy fresh!

Here's the actual recipe link, if you're brave! (My favorite part? The instruction to decorate it with rose petals. Because when I think of a rich dessert infused with a pork product, yes, rose petals are the obvious garnish partner.)

So, what do you think? Sound like something you'd like to whip up for your next gathering? Or just try a bite of if someone else went through the trouble? Or does this entire post make you shudder? I'd love to hear what you think!