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Our Adoption Journey


Mark and I are excited to announce that we are going to be parents again! We are adopting an adorable little boy from Korea. I want so badly to share his picture with you, but we are not allowed to post pictures of him until our adoption is finalized. I will describe him for you though! He is 16 months old, with curly dark hair and beautiful brown eyes. He is a little small for his age, but is either ahead or on time with all of his developmental milestones. We are planning on naming him Judah, which means, “praise.” We definitely praise God for this special little boy!

Adoption can be quite a long and arduous process. It kind of reminds me of the movies I’ve seen about boot camp or SEAL training. Only the strong survive! I didn’t know if we would make it, but Mark and I are almost there. We can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are just days away from traveling to Korea to meet our little guy for the first time! As long as our court hearing goes well, we should be traveling back to Korea in another month or two to pick up the newest member of the Lee clan.

We are amazed at the many ways God has worked to bring about this adoption. First, He had to work on our own hearts. Since we already have four children, the idea of adopting one more seemed overwhelming. What if we can’t handle it all? Can we afford the expense of international adoption? How will we manage two trips to Korea within a short amount of time? Who will watch our kids? One phrase that kept speaking to us was this: “Where God guides, God provides.”  Ultimately, we knew that if God was leading us in this direction, then He would provide everything that we needed.

And He has. Our wonderful family and many dear people from our church have given of their time to help watch our children while we are gone and have also given financially to help cover our travel costs. We are so grateful for everyone who has been so generous toward us! We have also been blessed us with an overwhelming sense of peace. Throughout much of this adoption journey, we have experienced so many moments of anxiety. There is such a fear of the unknown. Recently, though, we have experienced a great peace and confidence that God has big plans for this little boy. We don't need to fear, we just need to trust. The adoption process has definitely stretched our faith and made us step out of our comfort zones. I can’t wait to see what He has in store, and I can't wait to share pictures of our little guy with you when our adoption journey is completed! 

We are still in the process of raising funds to help cover our final adoption expenses as well as our two trips to Korea. If you would like to contribute, here is the link:  Thank you!


Family Business Meetings

Mark and I recently instituted the idea of a weekly family business meeting. It may seem like a strange idea at first, why do you need to have a business meeting with your family? Can’t you just wing it? Mark had read about this concept of a family business meeting in the book 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Family by Stephen Covey and liked the idea. We felt motivated to try it out recently because we were in a bit of a rut with managing our kids’ behavior. By rut I mean we were just done. Done with hearing the same arguments and fighting the same battles on an almost daily basis. We were tired of just barely making it through each day. The idea of a weekly family meeting where we could talk about issues and come up with strategies to proactively address some of the problems we were facing seemed appealing. I thought I would share some of what goes on in our meetings just in case there are any other moms or dads out there who might be in a parenting rut and ready to try something new!

We start out by asking the kids if there are any problems they want to talk about. Some parents might dread hearing the answers, but Mark and I actually get a kick out of it. It’s funny to us to watch them discuss really serious issues like “Equal Xbox Time for All”. Bedtime was another biggie. The kids felt “really left out” because all of their friends get to stay up “way later” than they do. We have heard this complaint before but the family business meeting gave the kids the chance to raise their concern in the appropriate environment (not at bedtime) without us feeling like they were being disrespectful and argumentative. We compromised by sticking with our 8:00 bedtime during the week because they have to wake up early for school and allowing them so stay up later on the weekends.  One of our sons in particular loves that he gets the chance to air some of the feelings that he normally has to keep inside. The first time we did the business meeting he was practically in tears afterwards, telling us how happy he was that he got a chance to voice his opinions and be heard. Poor middle child!

After the kids get a chance talk about problems they think we are having, it’s mom and dad’s turn. We bring up issues that we see as reoccurring problems and then work towards a solution with the kids’ input. Of course, mom and dad always have the final say, but we really do try to be inclusive and work together for the best solution possible. It’s surprising how easy it is to solve certain problems, yet we as parents often don’t take the time to do it. This week we solved the issue of who gets to ride in the front seat. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it has the ability to cause World War III in our mini-van. We set up a very simple rotation that has taken all of the tension and guesswork out of our rides to and from school. It took us about ten minutes to solve a problem that had been driving me crazy for weeks. I’m sure there will still be fights in the van, but they won’t be about who gets to ride in the front!

Lastly, we wrap up our business meetings by prepping the kids on our upcoming schedule for the week. We realized that it’s easy for our kids to have no idea about all of the different meetings and outings that we have planned and then to get taken off guard and feel a little out of sorts. Since we are a ministry family, our weekends can easily fill up with all kinds of church related meetings where they are dragged to here and there and just expected to go with the flow. When we prep them beforehand if we are having an especially busy week, we find that it helps them to at least be prepared and know what to expect. 

Our family business meetings are one of the best things we do to keep our sanity. It helps our kids feel heard which cuts down on all the fighting and complaining. It gives us as parents a forum to calmly and effectively address issues without all the yelling and threatening. I love having a chance to sit down and actually communicate about some of our family’s challenges and then work on a solution together. For us it has been a win-win. I hope it will be helpful for you too!


For Women Only

*Today’s blog post is dedicated to my Christian hero, Elisabeth Elliot. She passed away in June of this year. I owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude for writing several wonderful books that guided me through much of my Christian life. John Piper describes her as, “direct, unsentimental, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, no whining allowed. Just pull your britches on and go die for Jesus.” Thank you, Elisabeth, for your godly, uncompromising example that forever impacted me and so many others.

When Mark and I were first dating I read a wonderful book by Elisabeth Elliot called Let Me Be a Woman.  It is a collection of letters full of advice about marriage and womanhood that she wrote to her daughter when she became engaged. Two chapters in particular were extremely helpful to me in the early years of my marriage.  The titles of the chapters are: “You Marry a Sinner” and “You Marry a Man”. In case you might be newly married, struggling in your marriage, or just looking to keep your marriage strong and healthy, here’s my summary of my two favorite chapters. They made a huge impact on me, and I hope they will do the same for you.

You Marry a Sinner

It ought to be obvious, but too many times we forget the simple fact that we marry a sinner. There is no one else to marry. When you first get married, you are so in love and so taken with this wonderful man that it’s easy to forget that he’s a sinner. And then something happens that reminds you. And then you think, “How could this be? What went wrong? What happened to the man I love?” The answer is that something went wrong all the way back in the Garden of Eden. Since your husband is a son of Adam, he is and always will be a fallen creature, susceptible to the same temptations that plague us all.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I heard this perspective before I married my pastor to be. How easy it would have been for me to have expectations bordering on perfection for a man who is in the ministry. How easy it would have been for me to forget that he has faults and inconsistencies, just like everyone else! How easily all those unrealistic expectations could have crushed our marriage. Next time you are tempted to unleash on your husband all of your disappointment regarding something he did or maybe failed to do, remind yourself that he is just a sinner in need of grace, and so are you. None of us is the complete package. All of us could use a little understanding.

You Marry a Man

You marry a man, not a woman. Again, this may seem obvious, but when I first read this statement, I thought how simple, yet profound. How often do we expect our husbands to think and act like women and then are terribly disappointed when they don’t. These are actual thoughts that have gone through my head at one time or another. “Isn’t it obvious that when I sigh like this, he should ask me if something’s wrong?”  “How can any civilized human being just leave his wet towel on the floor like that?” “Why isn’t he answering my text right away? He must not love me!”

Your husband is not your girlfriend. He may not be all that interested in the great deal you got on those shoes. He may not feel the need to communicate everything about his day to you. He may not answer all your texts.  He may not like to go dancing. He may not understand why you’re crying. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you or that you’re not meant for each other. It just means that he’s a man.

I will leave you with my favorite quote from this chapter: “If you’ve ever said to yourself, ‘I’m not sure if my husband understands me.’ You are probably right. He doesn’t. He’s a man. You’re a woman. There are some areas in which ne’er the twain shall meet and we should be glad of that.” When I read that passage, I felt a great relief. There is so much pressure sometimes to feel like I married my soul mate, which implies that we always get along perfectly and understand each other totally. Men and women are different and that’s how it’s meant to be.


Happy birthday, Daddy!

I've given my perspective on Mark and how wonderful he is before on his birthday, but I thought it would be fun if you had our kids' perspective on their dad. All of their responses were completely unscripted:

What’s your favorite thing about daddy?

Nathan: “He likes watching sports with me.”

Hayden: “He takes me to lunch with him.”

Caleb: “My favorite thing about him is that he’s a pastor.”

Naomi: “That he’s my daddy.”

What’s your favorite thing to do with daddy?

Nathan: “Watch movies.”

Hayden: “Go to lunch with him.” 

Caleb: “Go to a baseball game with him.”

Naomi: “Go swimming in the pool.”

What is Daddy’s superpower?

Nathan: “Speed”

Hayden: “Preaching”

Caleb: “Awesomeness”

Naomi: “Fighting the bad guys”

What is his favorite thing to do?

Nathan: “Run”

Hayden: “Watch the Walking Dead” (Glad he didn’t say this when I asked, “What’s your favorite thing to do with daddy?”)

Caleb: “Hang out with us and go swimming”

Naomi: “Taking me to Target and buying me princesses.”

What is daddy’s favorite food?

Nathan: “Empanadas to Go”

Hayden: “Meatballs and rice”

Caleb: “Korean food”

Naomi: “Veggies”

What’s something you want everyone to know about him?

Nathan: “He’s really nice because he traded Peyton Manning for Phillip Rivers in fantasy football just to help out Hayden."

Hayden: “He’s a crazy guy.” (!!??)

Caleb: “He’s the best daddy in the world.”

Naomi: “That he goes to our church.”


The Lee's Invade London

The Lee family has invaded London! 

Although I was super excited to visit England, I have to admit that I was also terrified to take all four children on a 10 hour flight. They were great travellers for the most part, though, and handled our flight on the red eye really well. The only hard part was once we arrived, we were super tired, not having slept well on the plane. It then took us another four hours to get through customs, take a cab to our flat (we couldn't all fit into a hotel room), realize that our flat was NOT within walking distance of the check-in desk and then take the Tube during rush hour with four children and four suitcases. City life is not designed for large families. Thankfully Nathan and Hayden pitched in and helped out with all of the bags and their little sister. After we got settled in and caught up on some sleep, we were able to take in some of the sights and sample some of the delicious food. I have always heard that the food in England is bad, but as long as you look at online reviews, you can definitely find some good stuff. We especially enjoyed going to the Borough Market. Lots of free samples and really great food there. We tried a venison burger, sausage roll, roast beef sandwich, lots of different cheeses and gelato (the kids' favorite, of course). Here are some highlights from our adventures in London:

First we saw the Tower of London. Naomi loves princesses and was absolutely thrilled to visit a real castle. It's right next to the London Bridge and was very impressive. We all really enjoyed it.

 At the Tower of London you can also visit the Crown Jewels. Nathan took that opportunity to take a picture with one of the guards.

What's a visit to London without seeing a double-decker bus?

And of course, Big Ben.

Mark and I in front of 10 Downing Street. Hello, Mr. Prime Minister.

Caleb with one of the Queen's personal bodyguards. 

My two foodies, ready to do some serious eating at Burough Market.

Did you know all of the museums in London are free? We visited the National Gallery to see Monet and Van Gogh and the British Museum where the boys were thrilled to check out the mummies.

We loved our time in London and now are off on a cruise! I will try to post more updates later!


Thermos to the Rescue!

Have you ever had the lunch box blues?

Last year, after packing hundreds of school lunches, I definitely felt like I would cry if I had to make one more PB&J sandwich. I had seen several of these cute bento box lunches on Pinterest that I'm sure you have seen as well:


I was fairly certain, though, that I didn't have the time or the artisitic ability to whittle cute little critters out of fruit and cheese on a daily basis. Plus, my boys really wanted a hot lunch, and I can't blame them since I also feel hungry if I don't have something warm in my tummy.

That is when I discovered the Thermos. I can't say enough about the Thermos. I bought three of them online for $9.99, and it was the best $30 I have ever spent!


It made packing lunches so simple and opened up a whole new world of possibilites. Leftovers no longer go to waste. I just heat them up, put them in the Thermos, and my boys have something nice and warm for lunch! Just this week I packed some leftover pasta for all of them.

If we don't have leftovers, I can easily heat up some chicken nuggets, soup or ramen noodles. I still pack sandwiches, but thankfully, they are no longer an everyday occurance! Hooray for the Thermos!


What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

We started a new sermon series on Sunday called, “What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do.” As someone who really struggles with decision-making, I found this week’s message extremely helpful and eye opening. I dread any kind of “big” decision and always second-guess myself afterwards, wondering if I really did the right thing by choosing Plan A or if maybe I just missed the boat completely and should’ve chosen Plan B instead.

For example, this year we made the decision to send our oldest, Nathan, to private school. We did some research and ended up really liking a Christian school which was a little far away but still seemed to be a good fit for us despite the distance. He has loved his new school and thrived there. Yet I still find myself wondering if we made the right choice. Couldn’t God use him better in a public school setting where he could reach out to non-Christian classmates? Maybe we should have picked a school that was closer to home. I can drive myself (and my husband) crazy with this kind of thinking.

Mark made a statement on Sunday, though, that really helped me with this kind of dilemma. He said, “What if God’s will is whatever?” in reference to Colossians 3:17. “And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In other words, what if God’s will has more to do with how we live rather than what path we choose? Is God more concerned that we pick the right school for our son or that we parent him in a Godly way? What if God’s will has more to do with what kind of wife I am rather than whom I choose to marry? What a liberating concept!

This line from his sermon especially hit home with me. “Some people are more interested in discovering God’s will than in doing God’s will.” I realized that I am that person. I want so much to know God’s secret will regarding my future and the future of my kids that I often neglect to do what I know is God’s will, spelled out in the pages of my Bible, right now.  The Bible tells me to raise my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. That means that I need to spend time actually reading the Bible to them and praying for them. I need to talk to them about Jesus on a daily basis. Instead of doing that one simple task, though, I like to spend that time worrying (sin) and obsessively planning out their lives for them so that they will turn out exactly like I want them to (impossible).

I am so thankful for this sermon series and am finding it so helpful. I know that you will to! Come join us on Sunday morning or listen online. You won’t regret it!


Easter Bunny Breakfast (or Why I'm Really Glad My Kids Aren't on Pinterest)

I was making scrambled eggs for my kids this morning when I suddenly remembered this adorable picture that I had seen on Pinterest for an Easter Bunny Breakfast.


Since two of my four kids want nothing to do with scrambled eggs, I thought, “What a great idea!” They will surely want to eat their eggs if they look like a cute bunny!  Now I didn’t have bacon, or blueberries, or raspberries, or the mysterious white stuff used for the whiskers and eyes (cream cheese? Whipped cream?). So I improvised and made my own Easter Bunny Breakfast. It looked like this:


I was a little disappointed. Maybe I should have waited until I had all the necessary ingredients…and actually investigated what the white stuff was. But when my kids ran to the table and looked at their plates, there was only a slight pause before they realized what it was I was trying to do and yelled, “Yay! An Easter Bunny Breakfast!?” 

Now if they were Pinterest junkies and had actually seen the picture of what I was trying to replicate, I’m sure they would have been, like me, disappointed. Thankfully, though, that was not the case. They were super excited, only asking what the strawberries were supposed to be. “Ears!” I said, before realizing that’s what the toast was. “Um, actually, I think the bunny is looking through a strawberry bush.”

“Oh yeah, a strawberry bush!” said one of my sweet sons, bless his heart.

This morning was a great reminder to me as to why I love my kids. They just love and accept me as I am. I’m not very creative or crafty, but when I try, they don’t criticize. I hope I can be more like them. I hope the next time I’m tempted to criticize their messy handwriting or sigh over their spilled milk, I will remember the Easter Bunny Breakfast. Which by the way, did not induce them to actually eat their scrambled eggs.


One Less Orphan


 VantagePoint is in the middle of a sermon series right now called One Less Orphan. It is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. My own father was adopted from Korea in the 1950’s. He was one of many Amer-Asian orphans that resulted from the Korean War. My grandparents were moved by the testimony of a Korean missionary who came to their church and shared the plight of these children who were outcasts of society, some of whom were abandoned in the streets.

Growing up, I always just took this story for granted, never realizing how incredible it actually was. I think this was mostly because my grandparents never made a big deal of it. They never tooted their own horn or made sure we all knew what a big sacrifice it was. Adoption just seemed like the logical thing to do for them. Why wouldn’t you provide a home for children who didn’t have one? I never realized how remarkable it was for older people to adopt at all, much less to adopt four children from another country. Now that I’m older, and have four children of my own, I have come to understand just how amazing their story is.

The more I ponder what my grandparents did, the more thankful I become. How easy would it have been for them NOT to do what they did? They had every reason not to adopt at all. Age, lifestage, finances, none of it added up. No one would have blamed them for not adopting. In fact, I’m sure people thought they were crazy for doing it. Even I think they were kind of crazy for doing it.

But here is what I know and this is why I’m so thankful. If they had chosen not to adopt my dad, then I would most certainly not be here today. My mom would have never met my dad and I would never have been born.

What’s more, I’m fairly certain our church, VantagePoint Church would not be here today. My husband would probably have married some other, less wonderful than me, girl who would have insisted that he keep his secure job as an engineer rather than risk going into ministry. My brother, Chris, our youth pastor, would also never have been born. Which means that Ignite, our awesome youth ministry that has reached hundreds of kids for Christ would have never existed.

I know that God is sovereign and doesn’t need little people like us to accomplish anything. Yet I’m still amazed that he chooses to use us anyway. He used the sacrifice of one middle-aged couple from Indiana over 60 years ago to help bring about an amazing ministry that they would never live to see.  What could He do with your sacrifice? When was the last time people thought that you were crazy because of your obedience to God? How many lives might be impacted if you were to help just one small child? These are the questions that challenge and inspire me from my grandparents' story, and I hope will challenge and inspire you as well. 

My grandparents, 1945


Happy Birthday VantagePoint!

VantagePoint Church just celebrated our 7th birthday this past Sunday! I can’t believe it’s been that long! I feel like we just had our first service and now here we are, seven years into it! Here are just a few things I love about our church.

1.     Our Pastor

I don’t know if you realize this, but Mark puts a ton of work into his sermons every week. He makes it look easy to be convicting, challenging and funny, but behind the scenes is a whole other story. Mark spends many hours researching, writing, and memorizing word for word each and every sermon. I do not know of a man more committed to handling the word of God carefully than my husband. Plus, in his spare time, he coaches other church planters, leads our staff team, and also manages to somehow be an awesome husband and father! Needless to say, I love our pastor!

2.     Our Volunteers

I don’t think anyone can fully appreciate all of the literal blood, sweat and tears that go into setting up and breaking down a portable church every single week. Sunday comes around with amazing regularity and so do our amazing volunteers. Our church would cease to exist without them. So if you are a VPC volunteer who is reading this right now, thank you, thank you, thank you! Your service and dedication do not go unnoticed, and I know that you will have many jewels in your heavenly crown!

3.     Our Worship Team

Our worship team is amazing! I’m still waiting for them to cut their first album. They look and sound professional, yet most of them are unpaid volunteers. The best thing about our team is that even though they are so talented, they all have such a humble heart and genuinely love to worship the Lord. I’m so thankful that we have them to lead us every week!

4.   Our Heart for the Community

I love the way our church loves our community. We just finished “Love Month” in February where we performed acts of kindness all month long. From the beginning, VantagePoint’s vision was to be “Living Proof of a Loving God” to the people around us.  Thanks to the hard work of our Outreach Team and the incredible people of our church family, we have been able to make an impact for Christ on our community.

5.   Our Heart for Young People

We are also blessed to have an amazing youth and children’s ministry. The church is always one generation away from extinction, so capturing the hearts and minds of our young people is vital. If you are a parent of teens, then I hope you are sending them to Ignite on Wednesdays for high school and Sundays for junior high. Your adolescent needs someone like our gifted youth pastor, Chris, to speak truth into their lives during this important time where so many kids make choices with far-reaching ramifications. If you are a parent of younger children, then I’m sure you would agree with me that our children’s ministry volunteers are the best! Anyone who is willing and able to communicate God’s love to a roomful of squirrely kids who just ate 3 donuts on the way to their class, deserves our thanks (and by the way, I know they would love to have YOU help out once or twice a month in your child’s class!)

Happy birthday, VPC! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in the future! And just for fun, here are a few pics from our Grand Opening seven years ago! Were you there??


12 Things About My 12 Year Old

My oldest turned 12 this week. It’s weird to think that I’ve been a mom for a dozen years now.  In honor of his last preteen year, here are 12 things about my 12 year old.

  1. Whenever I kiss him, he turns his head away, ever so slightly so that I won’t actually kiss him on the lips. Sigh, sniff, sniff. This is opposed to my 10 year old who puckers up and gives me the juiciest kisses you can imagine.
  2. Speaking of lips, he is getting quite a bit of dark peach fuzz right above his upper lip. He might even be able to shave it, but I like to pretend like it isn’t there.
  3. He is almost exactly my size. I was startled the other day when I wore one of his hoodies and realized that it was just a little big on me. When did this happen?
  4. I don’t have to tell him to do his homework. There are many things that make me sad about him growing up, but this is not one of them! I’m so thankful that as soon as he gets home, he just automatically gets started on his homework without me saying a word.
  5. He still doesn’t like girls. I’m dreading the day when he has his first girlfriend, so I’m really happy that for now he still has almost no interest in the opposite sex.
  6. He loves football. He has been playing flag football for the first time and has shown quite a talent for defense, intercepting the ball several times. It’s fun to cheer for my guy.
  7. He is funny.  It’s weird when your kids get old enough to actually have a conversation with, much less when they can make you laugh. Not at them, with them.
  8. He is opinionated. I keep forgetting that he is his own person with his own thoughts and opinions. Good thing he reminds me all the time.
  9. He is political.  I think most 12 year olds don’t have much knowledge of government or politics, but Nathan is very interested and also has many opinions (see #8) about what President Obama should be saying or doing. Yes, one of his goals is to be president some day.
  10. He loves to read, especially historical books. He is always reading at the table. Right now he is reading Unbroken and really enjoying it.  I love that he is a fellow bookworm!
  11. He loves cooking shows. See this post. I think it’s funny that he and his brothers beg to watch Cutthroat Kitchen and Restaurant Impossible. Oh well, maybe he’ll be a famous chef one day…after he’s done being president.
  12. I’m proud of him. For the longest time, you’re just happy if your kids sleep and eat well. You’re proud of them for things they can’t really control like being the 90th percentile for weight. But now I’m proud of him for more substantial reasons, like he’s kind to his little sister or he’s helpful around the house. Since he is on the cusp of manhood, I’m glad that I can be proud of the character he is developing and the man he is becoming. Happy birthday, Nathan!

3 Tips for a Healthy Marriage

Mark and I have been married for almost 16 years. We are not marriage experts and some of you reading this have probably been married for much longer than we have and probably have more insightful advice. While we still have a long way to go, I can honestly say that I love him more and more as time goes by and that we spend way more time laughing than fighting. 

Here are 3 tips that have helped us tremendously:

  1.  Don’t criticize the other person.  You may have little or even big beefs with your spouse, but you do not need to air them publicly. Mark and I try to make a point of praising each other publicly instead.  We do this, not only because it is in bad taste to put down the person you pledged to love until the day you die, but we don’t want anyone to think there is any daylight between the two of us.  It’s a statement to a watching world, that our commitment to each other is as strong as ever.  We also try not to be too critical in private. For the most part, we give each other the benefit of the doubt. If we need to address an issue with the other person, we try to do it as gently and respectfully as possible. I am so thankful that I can remember very few times where we have said something really hurtful to each other.  
  2. Your spouse comes first.  Someone once said the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.  For your kids to know that you are committed to each other even above them is healthy and gives them a wonderful sense of security.  By the way, it’s also incredibly affirming for your spouse to know that they come first.  This is why we go out on a date every week.  We don’t want to cultivate a home where everything revolves around the kids and their needs, while in the meantime Mark and I drift further and further apart.  We try to never forget that the kids will leave one day, and we are left with each other. We want to be with our best friend and not a stranger, or worse, an enemy.
  3. Intimacy is important.  I’m not sure why or how, other than being a part of God’s design, but sexual intimacy is essential to a healthy marriage. Often women want to keep their husband at arm’s length for as long as possible, because they themselves don’t really like sex or at least don’t like it as much as sleeping. Here’s the thing. When you withhold sex from your husband because you are too tired or you had a bad day, you are really preventing yourself and your spouse from experiencing all the joy and blessing God has to offer within the context of marriage. Marriage is about more than just you and what you want.  Marriage is a metaphor for the sacrificial love of Christ for the church. It’s about each person putting their spouse’s needs above their own.  Here is a link to a helpful article about sex and intimacy in marriage, “Understanding Your Husband’s Sexual Needs”.

If you want even more tips for relational health, make sure not to miss out on our new sermon series called "I Don't Know Much, but I Know I Love You" at VantagePoint Church starting this Sunday. Invite a friend, it's going to be amazing!


The Encouragement Box

If you have more than one child then I’m sure you have experienced a little something called sibling rivalry. My three boys love to fight over just about anything. My daughter loves to tattle on her brothers, who, in turn, love to tease her. There are many days when I feel like I might blow a gasket if I have to referee one more quarrel. It’s so easy to forget that we, as a family, should be encouraging each other and not bickering with each other. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 15:1, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I want my kids to learn the power that words can have, both to hurt and to heal.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I decided it was time to introduce the Encouragement Box to the family. I think I first saw this brilliant idea in a family magazine or website somewhere, but have never used it until now. You put out a box (I found mine at Target in the Valentine’s Day section for $3) where the whole family can put in little encouraging notes to each other. I like to keep the notes short and sweet. “Thanks for being so nice to your sister today.” “I love how you put the dishes away without complaining.” “Great job on your math test!”

As I was writing notes to my kids, it was a great reminder for myself that I really do love my little monkeys. I can spend most of my time correcting them and, frankly, criticizing them, rather than encouraging them with kind words. We plan on reading the notes that have been written so far tonight at dinner. I’m hoping it’s a good reminder for everyone of all the things that we love and appreciate about each other. I think we could all use a little more encouragement in our lives. That might be the sweetest Valentine’s Day gift that you can give your family.


Mini Chefs

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can get a little tired of cooking. Especially being the mother of four children (including three growing boys!), I sometimes feel like my entire life revolves around food. What’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner is a question I hear regularly. That’s why I was thrilled when my boys were inspired to have their own cook-off after watching some episodes of the show, Cutthroat Kitchen. They suggested that they each cook their own lunch with a 15 minute time limit, and then I would choose a winner. “That is SUCH a great idea!” I said, repeatedly.

So here they are with their own creations.

Chef Nathan cooked a very delicious grilled cheese sandwich. He was recognized for being the only one of the boys to actually “cook” his meal.


Chef Caleb assembled a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He was recognized for using a large amount of jelly and for all around cuteness.


Chef Hayden also made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but with honey and freshly ground pepper on top to make it stand out from his brother’s. He also cut up some fruit for a wonderful fruit salad. He was recognized for creativity! (The pepper was a very interesting addition.)

Moms, I suggest letting your children (and husbands) watch as many cooking shows as their hearts desire. It may just inspire them to take on some of the cooking load themselves! 


How Fighting Over the Dishes Can Strengthen Your Marriage

Let me give you a little sneak peek into a fight that happens in the Lee household nearly every evening after dinner.

As we are all clearing the table, Mark will start getting ready to wash the dishes. This is where the battle begins. It always goes a little something like this:

Me: “Honey, let me do the dishes tonight, you’ve had a long day.”

Mark: “No, doing the dishes is MY job.”

Me: “No, really, it’s okay, I WANT to do them.”

Mark: “Too late, I’ve already started!”

Me: (Trying to maneuver in front of him to grab the sponge.) I insist!

Mark: (Blocking me from getting the sponge) No! Go away, woman!

This goes on for a while, until one of us (usually me, because he’s stubborn) finally concedes. You might think we sound crazy, but I love the fact that we fight over who gets to do the dishes! This is the best kind of fight in a marriage: the kind where you fight FOR, not against your spouse. Don’t get me wrong, we definitely have our moments of petty disagreements, but overall, we try to abide by one of our favorite verses, Philippians 2:3-4. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Whenever we counsel a young couple who is newly married or engaged, we always talk to them about Philippians 2:3-4. How can a marriage work when both sides are constantly fighting for themselves? Most couples we talk to who have a lot of strife in their marriage bicker over chores and kid duty. A marriage is not a business partnership. There is no 50/50 division of labor. That kind of perspective will kill any kind of happiness in your marriage. If you keep your focus on how you can better serve your spouse and be a blessing to him or her, nothing but good can come from that. 


Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

My new obsession is my bread maker that Mark got me for Christmas. There are few things in the world as wonderful as freshly baked bread, amen? 

This week I made a loaf of French bread. We all ate a piece with a little butter and it was heavenly. I love the yeasty smell of bread rising. I kept lurking near the machine to try to catch a whiff!

On New Year’s Eve, I woke up at 4am to make these homemade cinnamon rolls, also using my new bread maker.

I got the recipe from my sweet friend, Jacquie. They taste even better than they look! My mom makes amazing cinnamon rolls every year for Christmas, but I have always been too intimidated to try what seems to be a lengthy, complicated process. The bread maker definitely makes it easier. I just threw all the ingredients in and then went back to bed while the machine did all the mixing and kneading. All I had to do was roll out the dough, add some brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, cut it into slices and then pop them in the oven.

If you have a bread maker and want to give it a try, the recipe is below. I hope you are all having a happy New Year!

Jacquie's Sweet Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients for the bread maker:

1/4 cup of water at room temperature

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup warm milk

1 egg, room temperature

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups bread flour

1 package active dry yeast

To spread on the dough:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons cinnamon


1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons milk


In the pan of the bread machine, combine water, 1/4 cup melted butter, pudding, milk, egg, sugar, salt, flour and yeast. Set machine to dough cycle, press start.

When dough cycle is finished, turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and roll out into a 17x12 in rectangle. Spread with butter. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Sprinkle over dough. Grease a 13x9 in. pan. Roll up dough, starting with long side. Slice into 16 one inch slices, place in pan. (May need two pans.) Let rolls rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake rolls until browned, 20 minutes.

Stir together cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla. Remove rolls from oven, let cool, spread with icing. 



My Favorite Books of 2014

I absolutely love to read. It’s my favorite and probably only hobby. I am literally always reading something. So when my friend, Ginger, suggested I do a blog link to Modern Mrs. Darcy and post about my favorite books of the year, I thought, “What a great idea! What an easy blog post!” I was wrong. Picking my favorite books of the year was not an easy task! First of all, I had trouble even remembering what books I read this year! Also, it’s hard to pick favorites. I would rather write reviews of the worst books I read! I ended up picking the books that I found myself talking to people about most often throughout the year. To me, if a book is a conversation starter, then there must be something worthwhile about it!

The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper- As a pastor’s wife, I had to include this book. Written by Barnabas Piper, John Piper’s son, it is filled with lots of good insights into what life is like for a pastor’s kid. I was especially taken with his point that there are two conflicting stereotypes for the PK of either legalistic perfection or complete and utter failure. It is summed up in this quote: “They want the PK to dress like a grandparent and behave like Jesus. But they also seem to wait for the time when the pastor’s daughter makes out and the son drinks beer.” His plea is to treat the PK like everyone else because they are just normal kids who are sinners. There is no pastor’s DNA that makes them inherently more spiritual than every other kid. If you go to church, then please read this book. It really helps you understand the common dilemmas that most pastor's kids face.


The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield- I downloaded this book on a whim, after reading an online article by Rosaria Butterfield, but it turned out to be one of the most interesting books I read this year. She has an amazing conversion story as a former lesbian English professor at Syracuse University. She is now a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four children. Her story is not sugar coated in the least-she has many criticisms of the church today, but it is worthwhile reading for any believer who is interested in understanding what life might really be like for a new Christian “coming out” from the homosexual lifestyle. She describes her conversion as a train wreck, and that is not far from the truth.



Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See- This was definitely one of my favorite novels this year. Or maybe it’s just the most recent one I read, so it’s fresh on my mind. I spent much of the first part of the novel feeling sick to my stomach from the graphic details involved in foot binding practices. Gory details aside, it’s a great story of a “laotong” friendship between two girls growing up in 19th century China. I always appreciate good historical fiction where you feel transported to a different time and place, and this book did not disappoint. 




The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown- I am hesitant to include this book simply because I’m only a third of the way through it, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s the true story of how a crew of nine working-class boys from the University of Washington went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin to compete in rowing. It focuses on one character in particular, Joe Rantz. His story of survival and achievement despite the many obstacles he had to overcome is truly inspiring. I love stories like this one about the Greatest Generation who grew up during the Depression. I am always amazed at their toughness and willingness to endure all kinds of hardship. If you enjoyed Unbroken, then you will probably like this book as well.


The One Year Bible- I have read through the Bible in a year before, but never using this reading plan. Most of the time I used the method of simply reading straight through from beginning to end and didn’t reach the New Testament until sometime in October, which can be daunting.  I really liked this plan because every day you read a little bit from the Old and New Testament, plus a Psalm and Proverb. I never felt overwhelmed or dreaded another day of drudging my way through Leviticus or Jeremiah since I also had other readings to look forward to.  Overall, it’s a great way to tackle the Bible in a year. Available in book form or as a reading plan through the YouVersion Bible app. 

What about you? What was one of your favorite books that you read this year? 


Is it Christmas yet?

This is the first year that Naomi is really aware of, and able to anticipate Christmas. It's so sweet, but also difficult. She knows it's coming, but can't seem to understand why it's not yet here, especially since we see Christmas stuff everywhere we look! So I was relieved when we started our Advent calendar last night. Finally, here is something we can do to actually count down the days until Christmas! We do the chocolate calendars, but I also like to use this calendar that I found at Target a few years ago.

I rummage through the house to find little items that will fit into each box that will remind us of the Nativity or something relating to Jesus. For example, I put in a small piece of bread since Jesus is the Bread of Life, a nail to remind us of how he was nailed to the cross, a thorn to represent the crown of thorns he had to wear, and a piece of cotton to show that now our sins are washed away and we are white as snow. Little Lego or Playmobil pieces also work well. I put in a Lego crown to represent Jesus as the King of Kings and a Playmobil sheep to show that he is the Good Shepherd. I also put in small figurines from one of our Nativity sets. I love doing this because it gives us a chance to not only talk about the actual story of Christ’s birth (angels, shepherds, etc.) but we also get to talk about Jesus himself. I love talking to the kids about what it means to us to have Jesus as our shepherd and some of the other more symbolic things that they might not think about very often.

For most kids (mine included) it’s easy for Christmas to be all about what they are going to get and not the riches that are already theirs in Christ. I like the reminder for myself as well. I can be just as materialistic as the kids and think that if I don’t find all the right gifts and stocking stuffers and if the ham doesn’t turn out well, then Christmas has been a dismal failure. I need to remind myself that I already have all that I need in Christ. Anything else is just icing on the cake. 


Being a Blessing

Like most parents, I want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in my kids. I can’t stand the thought of having entitled, self-centered little creatures for children. As I tried to plan how I can help my kids be more thankful during this Thanksgiving season, I found these adorable little turkey crafts at Michael’s where they write what they are thankful for on each feather of the turkey’s tail. “What a perfect way to help them reflect on their blessings!” I thought. So we did the craft and, after some prompting, everyone pretty much wrote family, friends, food and Jesus. I think video games were in there too. I felt a little disappointed by our activity, even though the turkeys did turn out pretty cute! I felt like the kids were just going through the motions, and weren’t really getting it. “They’re just so spoiled!” I thought.

The very next day, though, Hayden started looking through a World Vision gift catalog that we got in the mail. We sponsor a child in Mexico through World Vision, so every year they send us this gift catalog where you can donate money to purchase items like goats, chickens, school or medical supplies as a special blessing around the Christmas time. Soon Hayden was asking if he could buy some ducks to donate. Then the other two boys got into the spirit of things too, asking if they could buy mosquito nets and medical supplies. I told them that I would match whatever they wanted to put in, and we would see what we could buy.

The boys each have three envelopes labeled spending, saving, and giving. Their giving envelope was empty because they had just participated in our Catalyst campaign at church to raise money for our new building. They are not allowed to touch their saving until they are old enough to buy a car. All that was left was their precious spending envelopes. Carefully hoarded money to be spent on video games and Pokemon cards. I was both surprised and proud when my boys decided to put in ALL of their spending money. I kept asking them if they were sure because that meant that their spending would be gone.

I think it’s funny when we as parents want our children to be generous, but then feel the need to put on the brakes if they feel inclined to be too generous. “Let’s not get carried away, here, kids!” Hayden really wanted to give ducks, which would require all his spending money, but I kept encouraging him to give chickens, which were a little cheaper. Moms love bargains! Finally, he said, “Mom, I really want to give the ducks because I read in the catalog that if there’s a flood, the chickens drown, but for the ducks, it’s just an adventure!”  What could I say after that? Of course we got the more expensive, but flood-proof, ducks!

I love it when I think I’m challenging my kids, but then they end up challenging me. I wanted them to list their blessings, but they wanted to be a blessing. How much more powerful is that? I think that I am a pretty generous person, but I know that I have never given all that I have. For me, giving is often a gesture, rather than a sacrifice. I want to buy the cheaper chickens. As our church is approaching Commitment Sunday this week, we are going to be putting in our financial gifts and commitments for our Catalyst initiative to build our very own church building. As Mark and I give our gift, I’m praying that we will do so with the kind of excitement that my boys had in giving, knowing that God has blessed us so that we can bless others. “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17)


The Couple that Prays Together...

Mark and I lead a married couples small group that meets once a week. Last night after we shared our prayer requests, instead of swapping names and praying for a random person in the group throughout the week, like we normally do, Mark issued a challenge to all of the couples to instead spend time praying together for their prayer requests at least two times this week.

Did you know that your marriage has a 50% chance of ending in divorce? But here's the good news: if you pray with your spouse just twice a week (not just over your food, but extended time praying together for specific needs), this reduces your chances of divorce to roughly 1%. Isn't that an amazing statistic? So many times we neglect our prayer life, thinking that we are just too busy. 18th century evangelist, John Wesley, once said, "I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it."

I believe that Mark and I have such a great marriage today because we started our relationship with a strong foundation of prayer. When we were dating, we would often spend about an hour in prayer together before we would do anything else. We had a long distance relationship and didn't see each other that often, so it would have been easy for us to be selfish with our time, but I'm so glad that Mark always initiated our prayer time together. Now that we are married, though, it's easy to take things for granted. We can easily assume that all is well and we don't really need to pray together beyond our meal time prayers. The fact that we are both committed Christians and that Mark is a pastor can make us take the health of our marriage for granted. We forget that the enemy is always on the prowl, seeking someone, some marriage to devour. So we will taking our own prayer challenge. What about you? Will you pray with your spouse this week?