WFMW: Our Favorite Summer Salad

Half my dishes are packed, we are living out of suitcases and my house is a wreck.

Ah, a hot summer with a bit of moving and missions work thrown in.

We have an easy, delicious fall-back meal that all five of us love.

Asian Chicken Summer Salad

1 large bag of cole slaw

1 bag of roasted almonds (salad topper)

1 bottle of Asian salad dressing (we use Ginger Sesame or whatever we can find)

1 bag of tortilla strips (optional, but yummy)

Chopped leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken added.

Mix it all together, serve cold.

Last week, I doubled the recipe and it was plenty for 6-8 people.

The Ninja Was Here

On Saturday morning, my 5 year old woke up and decided it was wrong our dog, five-year-old Sasha has never once attended church.

So she decided to “have church” and read her Franklin the Turtle book. Unconventional evangelism.

When my tween heard about it, she said proudly, “we are doing something right.”


Father’s Day was also our church’s fourth year celebration.

We had our picture made at the fun photo booth. Later when an adult asked my son where he got his mustache, he said, “Dude, it’s called puberty.”


During church, my oldest held my hand. She leaned over and said in my ear, “I like your wedding ring.”

I said thank you and returned to listening.

But she wasn’t done because then she whispered, “Can I have it when you die?”


We packed up a few more boxes after church yesterday and I noticed my youngest wrote her name on the tan fabric of my dining room chair in her five-year-old handwriting. I am not okay with that. And then I understood how my father felt when my older brother wrote “the ninja was here” in his Bible when we were kids.

Father On

I roll over and the empty spot next to me isn’t even warm. He’s been gone since dawn, maximizing the hours, shouldering the pressure.

He comes in from a long day, and starts his next job of husband and father, crouching to build legos, cleaning up dinner, reading a book before bedtime. His head won’t hit the pillow until he spends a couple of hours preparing his teaching sessions for our trip to Africa.

He starts it all over again the next day.

He gives and he gives. And then he gives some more.

He is tired, weary from all the giving and yet he continues to father on.

My eyes fill as I run my hand over his broad shoulders carrying the weight, shielding our family, offering protection and provision.

With a word, I can add to his load or lighten it. I can demand more money, more time, more stuff, more, more, more and with every complaint, I weigh him down.

Or I can ease the burden by encouraging and whispering, reminding: you are enough, thank you, I trust you, thank you for giving, you are doing a great job.

My husband is a better father, when I’m a better wife.

How to encourage your husband as a father:

  • Tell him you respect him
  • Even better, show him: don’t question or scrutinize every action he takes
  • Trust him as a father: let him have a say in parenting decisions
  • Thank him regularly for being there.
  • Give him a break: from the honey do’s and the house-encourage him to take time for himself

Part of the reason our world is so broken is because of father’s who aren’t there. If the father in your life is a constant, they need to know they are appreciated every day.

We are celebrating my husband’s health too, today! In November 2010, he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, with a devastating A1C (overall blood sugar average) of 8.4, which indicates poor health. For 18 months he has changed his lifestyle by exercising and eating right. This week his A1C was 5.9—excellent health (for a non-diabetic)! He is focused on living well and living long so his children can have a father.

Happy Father’s Day, Terrell. We love you!

Suddenly, I’m Longing to Do Laundry

You know those women who love washing and drying and folding their laundry into neat little piles and delivering it happily into drawers and closets throughout the house?

I am not one of them.

I don’t hate laundry, it’s just not stress-relieving for me to do it. Plus there’s my dryer issues. A few years ago, my 15 year old washer died. The dryer was still working, so we have we’ve been mismatched for awhile and lived to tell about it! A couple of months ago, it started shredding straps to tank tops and bras, which is pretty inconvenient and rude.

We proved we were rednecks and duct taped the broken plastic  to keep it going. I’m not proud:

But I’m not complaining, I got a whole new appreciation for “doing laundry” last summer in Kenya. We took one suitcase for our whole family for 3 weeks–I was all “we’re going to live like the people” and we hand-washed until my hands were red and chapped.

People, I am not always smart.

[Next week we’re taking four for the family.]

Because I’m a quick learner.

This week (in between selling our home and trying to find a place to come home to after our trip to Kenya), I was chosen to be a Maytag Ambassador. I might have screamed a little when I found out I’m receiving a Bravos XL washer and dryer to review. My kids were all “did we find a place to live??”

“No, but momma’s getting new laundry machines!”

When my kids turn 8, they get a big fat laundry lesson, so I wasn’t the only one squealing!

I’m so excited to be a part of this program because if I know anything, it’s dirty laundry! I can’t wait to share my reviews with you over the next few months.

P.S. We found a house just in the nick of time!

Disclaimer: I wrote this post as a #MayTagMoms Dependable Laundry Ambassador through mom Central Consulting on behalf of Maytag. I was provided with the Maytag washer and dryer set to facilitate my post.



WFMW: Summer Ebook Sale

I’m low on tips this week. I wonder why (insert insane scream here).

But who doesn’t love a good deal??

That Works For Me: 800+ Tried and True Tips from Works For Me Wednesday.

800+ tips, hundreds of contributors, awesomeness wrapped up and delivered wirelessly to you, for ONLY $6 with this $2 off coupon code: SUMMERSALE

Please note: I will be auto scheduling WFMW for the next several Wednesdays. You probably won’t notice a difference, but also, I could break the Internet and won’t be able to fix is because I’ll be living in the future on the other side of the world until mid-July. Just warning you. 
[Read more…]

Why I Am Taking My Kids Back to a Third World Country

Would I do it again?

This is the question people keep asking.

Would I travel across the world with my three young children again?


I’m not a big traveler. I have neck and back issues that make flying and driving uncomfortable, plus I’m really a big homebody and a scaredy-cat. So there’s that.  And traveling with kids is never easy.

But I will do it again.

Here’s why:

  • Traveling is temporary. As long as flights and delays may be, you eventually get somewhere. It’s a necessary evil. Sometimes it’s disastrous with vomit and poop and no change of clothes, while other times it smooth. Either way, travel is not the destination.
  • Opening their eyes. I’ve lived a sheltered life and have been narrow-minded at times. Exposing myself and now my family to the vastness of the world can only improve and expand their world view. I think it’s healthy to remove ourselves from comfort at times.
  • Kids are resilient. The things that I thought would be the hardest for them–seeing extreme poverty, going without (showering) water for three days, adjusting to a foreign culture, etc. were actually taken in stride. I learned a lot from my kids: they accept things for the way they are and are naturally compassionate.
  • Living is a risk. Many people questioned our decision to put our children at risk in a third world country. But if I trust God with my kids going to public school, riding in cars, living in America, isn’t He the same God I trust while we visit another country? I don’t hold their little lives in my hands, God does.
  • Flexibility is key. When you travel 26 hours straight, sleeping and eating on an airplane, your body and mind are pushed to limits you didn’t know existed. My hubby and I constantly reminded each other that we needed super-sized patience and flexibility with our kids.
  • A careful plan. I think it’s extremely important to have a calculated plan with contacts and people on the ground to guide your journey into another country. I don’t think we should take our kids into knowingly dangerous places. It’s vital to use wisdom when we’re considering traveling overseas.
  • Kids will be kids. At one point on our trip, our youngest was having a full-blown meltdown. We were tucked away in our room, but the entire house could hear her. We were a little embarrassed and there was some tension between my hubby and I. But then he put it in perspective, “She would be doing the same thing at home if she didn’t get her way.” He was right. We disciplined her and moved on.
  • It’s only money. It is very expensive to travel overseas as a family. There are travel vaccinations, costly flights, rentals, etc. I’ve always been very tight-fisted with money…even a hoarder, trying to save as much as I can. But then God showed me the way the rest of the world lives. It just seemed wrong that I was piling it up for me and mine, when my brothers and sisters in Christ didn’t have enough for one day. When we were leaving Kenya, one of the sweet girls in the maternity home said, “Will you all come back?” I told her how expensive it was and she said, “But you have enough faith for God to provide all of this for us, won’t he also provide for you to come again?” Yes, I believe He will.

Updated to today: We are heading back to Kenya in a week!

What do you think? Will you ever (or have you) travel overseas with your kids?

Edited repost from 2011

Why We Need to Look Behind Us

She dropped a penny in the fountain and squeezed her eyes tight.

I smiled at her face, full of wishing.

“What did you wish for?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you,” she whispered. And then she added, her voice thick with hope “But I’m wishing for tomorrow.”

My five year old ran off to catch up with her sister and left her words for me to ponder.

How much time  in the present do I spend wishing for tomorrow? I’m in this place of unknowns again. I have more questions than answers. I am constantly trying to figure out the next step.

How do we maintain Mercy House? What if people stop giving? How will we ever afford to buy land? How will we know what to do? Will our house sell? Where will we move? Will we adjust? Can we keep doing what we’re doing without burning out? How will all this happen? 

It’s exhausting. This wishing, worrying, wondering.

We will be spending a lot of our time in Kenya in two weeks focusing on the future of the organization. I have been researching, brainstorming, preparing for meetings. Can I be honest with you? I don’t know what I’m doing. I was saying just that to Maureen, knowing she felt it too, this pressure and burden and inadequacy.

As soon as I said the words out loud, I heard the still small voice:

Look where you are today, Kristen. Now look behind you. How did you get here?

I touched the picture on my desk, the one that holds the smiles of eight girls and eight babies. In that moment, I was reminded He holds tomorrow just like He holds today. I didn’t know how to get here. I didn’t have it figured out, there wasn’t a formula or instructions. He performed miracle after miracle and unfolded the days and weeks and months that led me to today.

I started recounting the past with Maureen. Remembering the mountains that stood before us, here we are standing on the other side of them. Sure, there are more mountains, some of the biggest yet. But He is the same.

And He is telling me today-and perhaps you–look behind you. You were there. And now you are here. I am the constant. I will carry you.

Tomorrow is still full of wishes, but today, I’m looking behind me.