Raising Our Boys to Be Men of God

When we had our first son, I realized I had an important duty as a mother. Of course, as parents, our duty is to raise decent human beings. That part isn’t too difficult if you aren’t a psychopath. But as a Christian, I felt the heaviness of a different duty, the most important duty–raising my son to be a man of God in a world that has turned against God. When I found out a few months ago that we were expecting a second son, the weight of this struck me even further.

My husband and I have been given a huge responsibility and privilege. We are raising boys, who will become men, who will become husbands, and who will become fathers. What we do now, from the very beginning, will have a major impact on who they will become. And while this of course applies to all the daughters out there as well, I see a lack of Godly young men in society today and it deeply saddens me.

As parents, we can only do so much. We can teach our children, live by example, and pray that they choose Jesus, but we cannot force Jesus on anyone. If that’s how it happened, God would have made the whole world believe in Him. But then what would be the point? He desires that we would choose Him. And since the world has become increasingly more intolerant of God and since many who claim to be Christians have twisted the Word so that it fits an “anything goes” policy, the younger generations are deciding it’s no longer worth it to commit to Christ.

When I look around in the many different churches I visit, I very rarely see single Christian men. This bothers me greatly, because I see a large number of single Christian women. Why is there such a large discrepancy? Why can’t my single Christian girlfriends seem to find a Christian man? It’s hard enough to meet a good guy today, let alone a good Christian guy! What has happened to all of the Christian young men?! I’ll tell you: they’re not being raised anymore.

Between the modern approval of the “fluidity” of gender, the extreme encouragement of ultra-feminine qualities in men, the lack of strong father-son relationships, and the turning away from God, our society is losing men, and especially losing men of God.

So how will our boys learn to become men of God in this world?

  1. From God
    • The Bible is God’s word–plain and simple. From infancy, it is vital that we instill a love and appreciation for God’s word in our children. By showing our boys what men of God look like through the countless examples found throughout the Bible, we can give our boys amazing role models and examples for what it means to be men of God.
  2. From their father
    • There is not a lot I feel more passionately about than the importance of a father figure in a child’s life. I was fortunate to have both my dad and my step-dad, and this was huge for me. As important as a father figure is in a girl’s life, father figures are especially important for men. Fathers show our boys what a man is, and especially what a man of God is. Children are incredibly observant and love to repeat what we do, which makes it so important for our boys to have Godly men in their lives so they can learn by example how to be leaders and men of faith.
  3. From our lives
    • As I mentioned above, children are like parrots–they love to copy us! Of course this can lead to some “uh-oh” moments if we’ve accidentally said or done something we don’t want them to repeat (we’ve all been there)! But this leads me to my final point–our kids will learn how to act based on how we act. If your kids see you reading your Bible, praying, singing to the Lord, etc., they will know that God is important in your life. If you talk to your kids about Jesus and teach them how to pray, they will want to partake! Never underestimate the power of your actions and how it will impact your kids!

So, here’s my call to action: Start now! It is never too early to sing a song or read a story that teaches your children about God. PRAY! Pray that your life might encourage your children to pursue God wholeheartedly, that they would want to know God because of how evidently He can be seen through your life! At the end of the day, your children will grow up and have to make their own decisions. But what you do today matters more than you know! Let’s raise up our boys to be the men of God that the world so desperately needs!

Chicken La Paloma

I’m a big fan of family traditions, especially when it comes to cooking and baking! I love continuing to cook or bake things for my family that my mom made for us when we were kids. I dream of the day I take the time to write all of our favorites on recipe cards so I can have a cute little recipe box sitting on my kitchen counter. In the meantime, this blog will have to do the trick 😉

Recently when I asked my mom about her favorite meal that her mom cooked when she was growing up, she said Chicken La Paloma. She’s made a few modifications based on her own preferences over the years, but she just made it for us recently and we all fell in love! One of the first things I said after trying it was, “I’m so bummed we didn’t have this growing up!”

If you look up “Chicken La Paloma” online, there are honestly not super great reviews for the traditional recipe. But my mom completely reinvented this old recipe and made it into a new favorite! It’s such a simple casserole packed full with flavor, perfect for any family!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 can cream of chicken
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tsp curry powder (or more–our family likes a lot of curry flavor, so we actually do 2 tsp).
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 bag frozen veggies (we prefer broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots)*
  • 1 cup panko seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

*We actually used fresh veggies in our recipe because we had them on hand, but the recipe works just the same with frozen veggies.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together cream of chicken, mayo, and curry powder.
  3. Add in chicken and combine. Then stir in 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and the veggies.
  4. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray, and add in mixed ingredients from the bowl.
  5. Spread bread crumbs over top of casserole. Then drizzle melted butter over everything and add the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes, or until bread crumbs look golden.

Our Top 10 Family Christmas Traditions

One of the coolest things about marriage is that it brings two people together, who likely have very different family traditions and experiences. This can create issues if the two people aren’t willing to compromise, but in my experience, it has been a fun time of learning and creating our own little family’s traditions. Even though in our family we draw upon things that both my husband and I grew up with, it is so fun to make new traditions that are just ours as well.

Christmas is probably one of the holidays with the most prominent traditions, so I’ve rounded up some of our personal favorite Christmas traditions, along with some new ones that we’ll be sure to add to our must-do list as our kids grow older!

  • Decorating Cookies
    • If you couldn’t tell from my blog, I love to bake! I’m not the most creative person in the world, but when it comes to Christmastime, I am more than ready to bust out the sprinkles and frosting to make some fun Rudolph/Santa/Frosty/Snowflake/etc. sugar cookies! My family has done this every year ever since I can remember, and I can’t wait until my boys can join in the fun! Not going to lie, after I’ve decorated a few cookies, I’m ready to just eat them and call it a day though haha! Here’s a tip: add a little orange peel to your sugar cookie dough! I know it sounds weird, but it’s my mom’s little secret and it makes THE best sugar cookies!
  • Watching Christmas Movies
    • We love to watch movies in my house, and especially Christmas movies! It’s so cozy to get into jammies, make some popcorn (or another yummy dessert), and watch a classic movie together as a family. It’s been fun to learn about my husband’s favorites and share mine with him! Here are some of our family favorites:
      • It’s A Wonderful Life
      • A Christmas Story
      • Elf
      • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
      • The Holiday
      • Arthur Christmas
      • Frosty the Snowman
      • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
      • The Last Holiday
      • Home Alone
      • The Polar Express
      • Four Christmases
  • Operation Christmas Child
    • Have you heard of this awesome organization? You essentially pick up a shoe box, fill it up with a mix of fun and essential items for a child, and a church will send it to a child in need (in another country). You get to pick the gender and age range of the child, and the organization does the rest! When we were kids, my step-mom always took my sisters and I to Target and we’d get to pick out items for our “child.” It felt so special, knowing a child somewhere in another country was going to open this box and see the presents we picked out for them. My husband had never done this, so we just did it for the first time this year together. I look forward to taking our kids and letting them pick out items for their “child” too!
  • Star from Afar
    • My sister-in-law is always finding the cutest activities to do with her family! She just sent this one to us as a Christmas gift. It’s called Star from Afar and it’s a fun advent activity to teach and remind your kids about the meaning and reason for Christmas. You set up the nativity scene and each day, you hide the star somewhere for your kids to find. Once they find the star, they move the Three Wise Men to the star. On Christmas day, the star is above the stable and the Three Wise Men finally find Jesus! I love this concept SO much! My son is only 1.5 years old so he’s not quite old enough to grasp the concept, but I’m hoping next year will be the year. This is definitely a tradition we will continue as our boys grow.
  • Bake A Birthday Cake for Jesus
    • My church did the sweetest thing! When I went to pick up Hunter from the nursery today, they were handing out gift bags with cake mix, balloons, candles, and a little sweet note. The note suggested to spend time baking the cake with your kids, and have a little celebration for Jesus’ birthday. I think this is so sweet and another great reminder for the kids about what Christmas is really about! So simple, yet so meaningful!
  • Cut Down Your Own Christmas Tree
    • We are fortunate enough to live in the beautiful state of Montana! Many people we know drive about 20 minutes up the mountain to cut down their own Christmas tree. Although we have yet to do this, we plan on making this a family tradition in the near future. My siblings and I always had so much fun going to the Christmas tree lots and picking out our tree–but can you imagine how neat it would be for your kids to pick their tree from all the trees in the forest and watch you cut it down?! We are so excited to do this one in the future!
  • Go See Christmas Lights
    • Many neighborhoods are known for having the best Christmas light displays. Growing up, we even had local houses that paid to use radio stations so they could align their displays with Christmas music! People get really into it, and it’s really fun for kids to see it all! Scope it out and see where the best displays are near you!
  • Christmas Pajamas
    • Every Christmas Eve, my siblings and I got to open one gift, which was a new pair of cozy Christmas pajamas. We did this every single year and we all loved it! It felt so special to put on our new jammies and go to bed in them. This is such a simple and easy tradition that we’ve already started in our family too!
  • Make Tamales
    • Tamales are my absolute favorite Mexican food! My husband happens to be Mexican, and every year before Christmas, his family would make a tonnnnnn of tamales together. And I’m not sure if you’re aware, but this is quite the process. Although they would enjoy a good amount together at home (I’m talking about they’d eat it for every single meal haha), they also gave away tons more to friends and family. It’s a lot of work to make tamales, and unfortunately we don’t have any Mexican markets here in our little mountain town to buy the legit ingredients, but we really would love to figure out a way to carry on this tradition in our family as well. There aren’t too many “Mexican traditions” that my husband has to carry on, so this is one that would be really fun to do (and selfishly I’d love having many tamales at my fingertips haha)!
  • Nice Christmas Eve Dinner
    • My family always made a nice/fancy Christmas Eve dinner. This tradition has carried on because my parents always are here at Christmas and my step-dad makes the most amazing prime rib you’ve ever had. And seeing that it’s one of my husband’s all time favorite things to eat, I think we will continue on this tradition haha!

There are so many fun Christmas traditions! I would love to hear about your favorite Christmas traditions as well! Please share in the comments! 🙂

Chickpea Curry

My family loves trying all kinds of different food. I really appreciate the way my parents encouraged us to try so many different things while growing up. Greek, Mexican, Vietnamese, Thai, Persian, Indian, Irish, Brazilian–you name it, we’ll try it!

That being said, one of my all time favorite dishes is curry. I love how it can turn out so many different ways based on the sauce and main ingredients used.

I came across this recipe from Hurry the Food Up and was excited for the challenge of intentionally making a vegetarian dish. You see, my husband is a big meat-eater. Most of the dishes I make involve some type of meat. But seeing as I had a ton of chickpeas in the cupboard and the husband said I needed to use them, I realized I was going to have to get creative.

While reading the recipe, I soon discovered that the author is British. Which is totally fine, but as I began to cook the recipe, I quickly realized I was going to have to make quite a few adjustments. I lived in England for four months in 2013, so I feel like I can speak from experience and say that British food is sooooo bland. Or maybe it’s that American food is overly seasoned/fried/salted/etc. haha. Either way, I made some “American” revisions to this recipe and thought it was amazing! The husband approved of this meatless dish and I got to use up some chickpeas, so I’d say it was a win all around! I’ll definitely be making this one again!

 

Ingredients:
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 oz (or more for taste) of your favorite curry paste. I used Tikka Masala!
  • 1 can low-fat coconut milk
  • 1 regular can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 1 cup basil leaves (or just sprinkle some ground basil seasoning on top)
  • Juice from ½ of a lime
*You can add whatever veggies you’d like to make this recipe more fun & filling–I’m sure something like cauliflower or broccoli would be great!
 
Instructions:
  1. Chop the onions and bell pepper. Put the oil, onions, bell pepper, and green beans (and any other veggies you may want to add that require more cooking time) into a large pan and cook on a low-medium heat until the onions start to soften and turn clear–about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and let cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the curry paste and the coconut milk, stirring until the curry is dissolved. Add a pinch of salt. Taste test – if you’d like your curry a little stronger, then add more.
  3. Throw in the chickpeas, spinach, and soy sauce, and cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes, bringing the curry to a boil. If it starts to burn, reduce heat immediately.
  4. Add the chopped basil (or seasoning) and lime juice. Gently simmer the curry for another 2 minutes. Taste test again, and if desired, add more curry paste or soy sauce.
  5. Serve over rice and enjoy.
*I added crushed red pepper for more spice, or I’m sure sriracha would’ve been great too!

Copycat Olive Garden Chicken & Gnocchi Soup

chickengnocchimain

It’s Fall! Which means chilly weather, cozy clothes, and lots and lots of soup! I love creating new family traditions for my own little family, and one that we started for the fall and winter a couple of years ago is Soup Sunday. It’s so fun to find yummy soup recipes and just rotate through them throughout the colder months. Our typical favorites are chili and chicken tortilla soup…that is, until I found this amazing recipe.

I LOVE Olive Garden. We probably only go one or two times each year, but I’m just a huge fan of getting a lot of food for a good price (I know I’m not the only one out there)! Their lunch deal, unlimited soup and salad with breadsticks, makes going during lunchtime worth it. The only soup I’ve tried there is their Chicken & Gnocchi soup. I had never had gnocchi before this, but love how it’s like a combination of a potato and noodle.

chickengnocchi

When I came across this recipe, I knew I had to try to recreate it. But to be honest, I thought I would be highly critical and compare it to Olive Garden’s recipe. But guess what? I ended up liking my version better than Olive Garden’s! I was so shocked! Unlike Olive Garden’s recipe, this one doesn’t only use the icky leftover dark meat chicken, and it also gives you more than like three bites of gnocchi in a bowl!

I’ve already made this recipe twice in two weeks, if that gives you any indication of how delicious it is. It’s so easy, either in the crockpot or on the stove. My personal favorite crockpot is this guy (click on the image for details):

I love how easy it is to use, and that I can turn it on early in the day, and when it’s done cooking, it’ll switch to the “keep warm” setting!

Your family and friends will absolutely love this recipe, so go ahead and add it to your favorites! Enjoy!


Adapted from: Pinch of Yum
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of chicken
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (or a combo of thyme & oregano if you don’t have it)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 12 oz. cans of evaporated milk
  • 2 1lb. packages of mini potato gnocchi
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups of fresh baby spinach (or more!)


Instructions:

  1. Place the chicken, onion, celery, carrots, seasonings, and broth in a crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
  2. Once done cooking, shred the chicken in the crockpot.
  3. Add the evaporated milk, cornstarch mixture, and gnocchi. Stir and cover.
  4.  Add olive oil and garlic to a pan, and saute for one minute. Add the spinach, and stir until wilted. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the spinach to the crockpot and stir to combine.
  6. Add any additional liquid if needed (I added about two cups of water). Add more salt and pepper if needed.

*Note: I have also made this recipe on the stovetop (when I decided I wanted it for dinner and it was already 4:30PM haha). In that instance, I just sautéed the vegetables with the seasonings in a pot with olive oil until the onion became translucent. I then added the shredded, cooked chicken and chicken broth. After it cooked for about ten minutes, I added the evaporated milk, cornstarch mixture, and gnocchi. I cooked the spinach on the pan like above, and added it to the pot. I then made sure the gnocchi was soft, and added some water because found it also needed more liquid. I thought both versions, stovetop and crockpot, were both amazing!

*For leftovers: I found the soup absorbed a lot of the liquid overnight, so I added a little bit of water before heating it up for leftovers.