Facilitating Independence: Why We're Giving Our Daughter a Clothing Allowance

Soon after my daughter Hannah turned 12, we decided to increase her monthly allowance. We started giving our children a consistent monthly allowance two years ago. It is a small amount, which we increase every year on their birthday.

Now as Hannah is entering a new phase in life, we see how she is wanting more an more clothing. So, instead of her constantly asking us to buy this or that, we are putting the decisions into her hands. To use parenting language from Grace Church, we are working to facilitate independence in her.

Why Are We Doing This?

My wife and I have "always" been hesitant and critical of giving children too much allowance. But we're growing and learning and even eating our words a little.

Here are the reasons that we have chosen to do this:
  1. Our family budget. This will keep her from always asking us to buy her more clothing. We could never afford to give her all that she wants!
  2. Training her to budget. It's an opportunity to teach her to manage a budget and make priorities. We can't wait until she's 18 and ready to leave the house before we start this. It's another way we are Developing Our Kids to Be Leaders.
  3.  Personal responsibility. It will help her to take care of her clothing better. If she is careless with her stuff, she'll have to spend money to replace it instead of buying fun new things.

So far, she is enjoying this independence. But we have to be careful to not let it get out of control, or to give her too much freedom too quickly. That is why we came up with a set of guidelines and expectations.

Our Guidelines

Before we started giving her this extra money, we clearly communicated some guidelines to her:

  1. The extra money we give her is only for clothing and haircuts -- not for entertainment, food, etc.
  2. We will try it for a year or two, and continually evaluate. We the parents have the right to change it (or end it if it's not going well).
  3. We started with a low monthly amount. We think we are aiming a little too low, but we figured it's easier to increase the money later, rather than having to reduce it. Plus, she can always get clothing and gift cards as presents (which is what happened this past Christmas).
  4. This is not permanent. We will probably stop in a few years, when we feel that she can get a consistent job.
  5. We are only doing this with Hannah, not with our two sons. We don't feel like they need to have this independence yet, and they are not into clothing like their sister is. Usually, we have to make them get new clothes. ("No, son. You can't keep wearing underwear that is two sizes to small.")

What about you? Do you give your children a special allowance for clothing, entertainment, etc? What have you learned along the way?

For more articles on this topic, check out these posts:

Love Jesus, Love Your Kids

A couple of months ago, I asked my kids, "How do you know that I love you? What do I say or do that lets you know?"

They each gave some expected answers, like how I spend time with them, how I take them to breakfast, how I provide for the family, and even that I just tell them. But the last thing that Elijah said caught me off-guard.

He told me that one of the reasons he knows that I love him is when he sees me reading my Bible and praying. I asked him to explain.

"Well, since you love God, I know that you love me."

He's right. My love for him (and his siblings, and definitely for my wife) is more than just a choice of what I want to do. It's based on the fact that God loves me, and I love God. My love for him is rooted in and flows out of my faith in Jesus and in the Spirit's constant work in my life.

Parents -- do you want to be a better parent for your children? Then become a better disciple of Jesus.

Do you want to love your children as much as you can? Then love Jesus to the utmost.

As JD Greear advises, our kids need to see Jesus in us, and they need to see us seeking Jesus. 

"Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."  
Ephesians 6:4

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 **image courtesy of trazomfreak via flickr

[Book Review] "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"

I have had a copy of Ginger Plowman’s book “Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” on my shelf for about five years. My wife read it years ago, but I never picked it up until a few months ago. While I had heard great things about the book, I thought the material wasn’t for me.

Plowman is clear that this book is for mothers, so I didn’t fit the target audience. Also, every time I thought about reading it, I figured that since my children were getting older, the principles and applications would not be as relevant.

But I was wrong on both counts.

While the author wrote this book for moms, and especially moms of younger children, this book has been just as helpful for me as a father, giving me some new ideas and reminding me of some that I had let slip and needed to get back to.

Structure of the Book

This book is centered around three parts:
  1. Focusing on the heart
  2. Biblical correction and training 
  3. Spanking (“The Rod”) 

The book then concludes with three helpful appendices, which I will outline below

Focus on the Heart 

Anyone who has read Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tedd Tripp) will immediately connect with the idea of reaching a child’s heart. In the acknowledgments, Plowman calls Tripp’s book the “most Christ-centered parenting material on the market today.” Therefore, it makes sense that she would incorporate his gospel-centered principles in her book.

In short, “reaching the heart of the child” means going beyond looking at his actions, and realizing that more is needed than unbiblical behavior modification. Two mistakes that parents (like me) make are tolerating and controlling their children’s behavior. In view of Luke 6:45, Plowman writes, 
“The heart is the control center of life. Behavior is simply what alerts you to your child’s need for correction.” 

Instead of laboring to get our children to behave according to biblical (or non-biblical but good) standards, the goal should be on gospel-centered, heart-focused change from the inside out. “It is not that difficult to train children to act like Christians. We have really accomplished something when we have trained them to think like Christians.” One way we train our children to think this way is by asking heart-related questions.

Above all, we parents must remember that heart-centered parenting is a process. We will have ups and downs, victorious and moments of frustration. But we must continually move towards (and lead our children towards) the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Biblical Reproof 

When you correct your child, how often do you give a biblical reproof? “A reproof is verbally expressing to another person how they have violated God’s Word.”

I have failed often in this. I excel at rebuking and correcting them, but I often neglect to point them to the Bible. For all that my kids know, they are violating my preferences instead of their heavenly Father’s commands. Plowman reminds us, “Our ultimate goal in everything should be to point them to Christ.”

God’s word is powerful and useful for growing in our faith (II Timothy 3:16). Therefore, I need to specifically direct my children towards God’s words as I disciple, train, and correct them. I need to focus my family on the Bible, not just on my wisdom.

It is our responsibility, as parents, to:
  • Use every opportunity to point children to their need for Christ.
  • Train them to obey God by honoring and obeying their parents. 
  • Teach them wisdom. 
  • Train them in righteousness.
  • Pray for them. 
  • Be a godly example. 

Plowman spends a chapter on giving guidelines for verbal correction. Additionally, she has developed a helpful Wise Words for Mom chart, which helps take you from the child’s behavior, to his heart, to verbal reproof and encouragement from Scripture.


“The rod and reproof give wisdom 
but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” 
Proverbs 29:15 

There is much debate in the culture, and even in the church, on the issue of spanking. And even if you agree with biblically-oriented spanking for your children, we need to humbly enter into these conversations, especially in light of how this parenting tool has been abused (even in the rare but real death of some children).

A cursory explanation of spanking will not suffice in this post. You need to read the book, or others like it. But like Plowman, I urge you to not overly depend on worldly methods used by parents to instill obedience in their children, such as:
  • Bribing. “Children should be taught to obey because it is right and because it pleases God, not to get a reward.”
  • Threatening. “Never, never, issue a warning or a command without following it through.” 
  • Appealing to their emotions. Don’t use guilt trips. 
  • Manipulating their environment. Instead, teach your child self-control and obedience. 
  • Reasoning with the child. The parent is the God-ordained authority (Tripp makes a great case for this truth in his book), and young children, especially, do not have the capacity or authority to make most decisions. 

Of course, there may be situations to require each of these methods. However, even collectively, they should never be the primary parenting tools.

Read chapters 10-12 for a more detailed description of God-honoring spanking, plus answers to common objections.

Above all else, remember that any kind of reproof and discipline is never a formula for success. The best we as parents can do is depend on God and His Word, to seek to honor and obey Him, and to pray for His mercy on the hearts and souls of our children.


Closing out the book, Plowman gives some helpful wisdom three appendices:
  1. How to Become a Christian 
  2. How to Lead Your Child to Christ 
  3. How to Pray for Your Child (I’ve already incorporated this list of 15 prayers in how I pray for my own children)


If you have never read this book, I highly recommend that you do so. If at all possible, read Shepherding a Child’s Heart first, so that you can begin to understand the foundational concept of reaching the heart of your child. I’ve read Tripp’s book at least four times, and each time I understand and apply a little more.

The only regret I have about this book is not reading it sooner, because I thought it was only for moms and because I thought I was growing past the stage of needing it. The truth is that the gospel-centered principles are needed by all parents and for any aged child in your home.

Moms and Dads alike -- buy your copy of “Don’t Make Me Count to Three!” today. While you’re at it, put Wise Words for Moms in your shopping cart, too.

Note: This book was one of the best books I read in 2013.

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Roe v. Wade: Do You Really Believe What You Say You Believe?

For those who say they are "pro-life" -- are you really pro-life?

And for those who say that they are "pro-choice" -- are you really pro-choice?

Years ago, I was in a men's group, centered around a discussion of a book on marriage. At some point, the topic of abortion came up (not sure how). One of the men said, "Most people who say they are pro-life really aren't. They are just anti-abortion."

I was shocked by what he said, probably because I felt attacked. But in a sense he was probably right.

One of the complaints that pro-choicers have against pro-lifers is that the latter (who are typically social conservatives) are only focusing on the pregnancy and birth. Then, after that baby is born, the same social conservatives don't focus on helping those through social programs. We fight like crazy for the baby to be born, but afterwards we say "You're on your own!" Do we fight like crazy for life at birth, and then ignore that child's need for quality of life? Yes, too much so.

Then again, I might have the same issue against those who say they are pro-choice, and, "It's a woman's body and her choice what to do with it." If you want to casually dismiss the rights of the baby (or fetus, if you will), then are you ok if that woman regularly gets drunk and uses copious amounts of illegal drugs throughout the length of her pregnancy?

Want me to go further? A recent study determined that any level of alcohol in a woman's body disrupts the brain's circuitry. Knowing the long-lasting effects that will be done to a baby, especially through overuse of certain drugs and chemicals, do you really still think it's purely the mother's choice? And if we know that nicotine causes long-term health effects for the offspring, and that smoking can lower the child's birthweight, should a parent be held accountable for smoking or using nicotine gum?

And if you say "No" -- that we have to leave these decisions up to the mother, and help her make better choices -- then that same reasoning would lead us to reducing social and governmental services, since it must be purely up to the parent to decide what is good.

Who Does Get a Say in This?

Let's go back to the original argument against pro-lifers, that perhaps many (or most) are really just anti-abortion. I think that is true for a lot of people, especially for social-conservatives.

But what about others? What about folks who are pro-life (= anti-abortion), and who are also working to meet the needs of those in poverty? What about those who have fostered and adopted, or have supported those who do that?

Over six years, a coalition of churches in Colorado has reduced by 70% the number of children in the child welfare system. Instead of 875 children waiting to be adopted, there are 275 (as of September 2013). Since those churches have worked to provide a better quality of life for children, I think they have earned the right to be heard on the topic of being "pro-life."

Of course, we need to consider the opposite point, that adoption is not used as much as it could be in this country, because our society sees abortion as a viable option. (There are 15 infant adoptions for every 1000 abortions in the US.) John Piper argues in For Adoption or Against Abortion? that eliminating abortion would help us (as a nation) to increase support for adoption and fostering.

The Science of the Matter

For me, as one who has loved science since elementary school, I want to look at the science of the matter. After all, we have to follow the data wherever it may lead, no matter what we personally think.

It seems that so much of the public arguments about abortion have people lining up on one of two sides:
  1. It's about the woman's body, and what she wants. 
  2. It's about what the Bible (or some other religious text) says.
If that is the core of the arguments, we aren't going to get anywhere. No amount of arguing is going to get someone to switch from one camp to the other, on this isolated issue.

Therefore as a scientist, I think we need to focus on what science says. The question that we should be debating (from a scientific perspective) is "What is life?" or "When does life begin?"

It's not the point of this post to list out my arguments for my perspective. Maybe another time. I am merely proposing that we shift the framework of the conversation from Our Wants vs God's Word to Science.

The Moral of the Story

OK. I fudged a little. I am going to talk about my perspective. That's my choice, right? (Just like it's your choice to stop reading this now. But I hope you'll hear me out, or at least leave a comment before clicking away from this page.)

I do think that life (from a purely biochemistry perspective) begins at conception, when the genetic material from the sperm combines with the genetic material from the egg. Cellular metabolic processes skyrocket from that point in the cell, and that is equivalent to life.

Also, the mother's body has to react in a way to not reject the cell. That is, without a specific response, her body would treat the new cell as a foreign object and therefore she would fight against it. To me, this goes against the typical pro-choice stance that "fetus is just a part of the mother's body."

If this is true -- that we are talking about two separate lives (the mother's and the baby's) -- than that is when we can bring in morality to the discussion.

It is then that we can discuss the fact of whether abortion is black genocide, since "a Black baby is 5 times more likely to be killed in the womb than a White Baby." In view of yesterday's remembrance of Martin Luther King, this is worth mulling over:
As one Black man says in the 3801 Lancaster documentary, “Everything that was ever gained during the Civil Rights Movement is worth nothing to a dead Black child,” and as one Black woman proclaims, “Make no mistake, abortion is a civil rights issue.”
It is then that we can wonder over the fact that 50 times more American lives have been extinguished by abortion in the last 40 years than by war over the last 240 years.

So, let's move beyond what our personal wants or our faith or what judges have ruled, and let's talk about the science of the matter.

Let's Talk

Before you claim to be fully pro-life (or pro-choice), be sure you are willing to fully fight for your stance. Are you willing to follow the rabbit trail (either the path of "pro-life" or "pro-choice") all the way to the end?

Or even better than resolutely defending your perspective, let's be gracious to each other in our speech, knowing that this is a complicated, messy discussion.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, on anything I just wrote. What do you think of the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice"? Should we focus our conversations more on science, as opposed to philosophy or religion?

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Don't Be a Seasonal Christian Parent

If you are like me, you are trying to get back into a routine after a busy month of Christmas. You made another determined effort to "keep Christ in Christmas" this year, and you feel good about what you did. Sure, you bought your kids toys and books and games and clothes, but you also went through Advent material every day almost every day.

Through all the gifts and gatherings, and all the shopping and decorating, you kept teaching your kids about the real meaning of Christmas. Great work. They needed that reminder.

Sometimes they seemed to get it, and talked about how they love Jesus, and want to serve and love others. But sometimes your efforts seemed fruitless. Like that time when you taught another Advent lesson, and within 15 minutes your kids were bickering over a toy, or over whose turn it was to sweep the floor, or over who got to brush their teeth first.

But it was worth it. Those nuggets of truth that came through your intentional teaching moments, and through your conversations at the dinner table or in the car or in the grocery store? They all added up to help your children grow a little closer to God this past Christmas season.

Now that it's January, I only have one encouragement for you: Don't stop.

Don't stop having intentional conversations with your children.

Don't stop teaching them about the amazing grace of our Lord.

Don't stop making Jesus the focus of every part of our lives.

Don't stop opening the Bible and reading Scripture to them.

Don't stop asking them spiritual questions. 

Don't stop praying with them.

Don't let Easter be the next time that you disciple your children in God's holy word.

My middle school social studies teacher proclaimed that he was a "Bells and Buzzard Baptist." He only went to church for weddings and funerals. Don't be that. And don't be a "Christmas and Easter Discipler." That's just wrong, and it doesn't have the same ring as what my teacher bragged about.

Stay in God's word with your children. Pull out the storybook Bible that's been collecting dust on your shelf, or buy a new one to bring some excitement and newness.

Want to go to another level? Buy a book like Big Truths for Young Hearts, and delve into deeper topics to help your children grow in the Lord. Or teach them how to do inductive Bible study (and learn for yourself!), such as with Boy, Have I Got Problems.

Do you have to have daily family worship? No. At least, don't start like that. You'll probably get burned out quickly.

Andrew Weiseth gives a simple and practical outline for a family devotion time. And he highly recommends incorporating play in your family worship.

Just do something. What you do is not nearly as important as why you are doing it. You must keep teaching them so that they will learn to focus everything on Jesus, so that they will see that Jesus is the center of our lives.

Don't be a "Bells and Buzzard Baptist." Don't be a "Christmas and Easter Discipler." Don't be a seasonal Christian parent.

Don't stop being the parent that your children need. Don't stop helping them grow in and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I say it to you, and I mostly say it to me: Don't Stop.

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

Related Links:

Simple Ways to Disciple Your Kids on Mission

Seth McBee -- businessman, ministry leader, and speaker -- knows what it's like to be busy. But he also knows that he must use every moment he can to disciple his children.

He gives 11 examples of how he has done just that. These illustrations were encouraging and challenging for me, and I think they will be for you, too:
  1. Redeem everyday things, such as having "Phineas and Ferb theology."
  2. Use accessible resources, including children's Bibles.
  3. Discipline like you believe in the gospel, instead of yelling, "Stop it!"
  4. Demonstrate the gospel, even when they don't react in ways I was hoping.
  5. Praise them often when their actions depict God's character.
  6. Remind them that they are loved, whether their actions are sinful or praiseworthy.
  7. Involve your kids in the mission, and talk about why you are doing it.
  8. Make your house the "hang-out house" as a way to show that your possessions are actually God's.
  9. Invite their friends and parents out to your activities, to show your kids what it looks like to be hospitable in all areas of life.
  10. Get them involved in giving, such as by birthday gifts being donations for a good cause.
  11. Make theology practical, by discussing Biblical application.

Be sure to read the entire article to get a more full description of each point. Then, pick a couple of ideas that you can start applying this month.

Related Links:

Review of "The In-Between" and My Other Top Books of 2013

Earlier this week, on my other blog, I listed the top books I read in 2013. Only a few of those were parenting books, per se. But a few of them helped me become a better parent, or at least reflect on the joys of parenting.

One of my favorite books I read last year was The In-Between, by Jeff Goins. I only read it because I received it in a give-away. I'm glad that I won it, because I would have been missing out had I not read it.

I wrote a review of this book as a guest post on Brave Reviews. To get you started, here is a snippet:

If you are a parent like I am, you know how much of a struggle it can be to wait. We don’t want to wait to know the gender of our unborn child. We can’t wait until they sleep through the night, and then when they are out of diapers. We can’t wait until our sons are able to mow the lawn. 

I loved the story that Goins tells about his newborn son who is refusing to sleep one night. As his son fights back, Goins gives up hope, knowing that he will have to endure yet another sleepless night (Parents – can I get an “Amen”?).

You should click over to Brave Reviews and check out my full review, and then other book reviews on that site.

If you have a hard time being still and waiting, if you find yourself rushing in-between life's momentous experiences, you need to buy and read The In-Between.

(And if you didn't do it already, check out the other top books I read last year.)

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20 Hours to Learn Anything: It's a System, Not a Goal

For all the goals I had in 2013, losing weight was not one of them. However, of my eleven monthly 1 small thing goals, 5 of them were health related. I did those monthly goals with the intention of trying to form new, habits, and slowly but surely, I have become a regular exerciser.

So, while I did not intend to lose weight, I did want to be healthier, and I took specific action steps to achieve better health. Since the summer, I started doing two things:
  1. Exercising regularly, which usually means jogging 2 or 3 days each week.
  2. Tracking my caloric intake, using an app on my phone.
The results:  I lost almost 10 pounds in the last six months of 2013.

What I Learned About Goals

Here's what I learned about making goals: Don't make the end result the focus. Yes, you need to have a specific objective. But more important are the action steps toward your goal.

You see, I realized that I can't always control results, but I can control what I do.

What if I made "Lose 20 pounds my goal," which is sort of true for me, because I do want to lose another 10 pounds or so? What if I made 20 pounds my goal, and only lost 10? I would probably feel like a failure.

But I focused on two action steps (involving exercise and diet) and I let the results take care of itself. James Clear wrote about this, as he explained why it's more important to have systems than goals. He writes that goals . . .
  1. reduce your current happiness (because we equate goals with happiness)
  2. are at odds with long-term progress (because we slack off after accomplishing them)
  3. suggest that you are more in control than you think (sorry, Type A people, we can't control everything in life)

This Year's Goals Systems

2013 Goals: Each month, do something regularly to form a habit.

2014 System: Spend 20 hours over 2 months to learn a new skill.

I was inspired in part by Josh Kaufman's TEDx talk, in which he makes the case that it takes about 20 hours to learn the basics of a new skill. For me, this will translate to roughly 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks.

Here are some of the skills I hope to learn:
  • Basic Spanish language
  • Playing an instrument (probably the ukelele, which is what Kaufman did, too)
  • Solving a Rubik's cube
  • Computer programming
I need two more skills (since I'll need six for the year). You can let me know of any suggestions in the comments.

Again, I will focus on the system (i.e., practicing for 30 minutes a day), not the goal (mastering the ukelele, becoming fluent in Spanish, setting a world record for solving a Rubik's cube).

Yes, I do want to become competent in speaking and translating Spanish, and I'll keep that objective in mind. But the part that I will focus on is what I will do to make it happen. I will focus on what I will do and how long I will do it. If I do that, the results will take care of themselves.


Skill #1: Learning Spanish

The first objective for the year is learning Spanish. Of course, I do not expect to acquire even a basic mastery in just two months. Instead, I will focus on establishing a system to learn Spanish in January and February, and then plan to continue my study through the rest of the year (and beyond?).

We've already bought the Rosetta Stone software. We got a good deal on the homeschool version (for up to 5 users, plus it tracks grades), so all five of us will be working on this, though at different paces and with varying focuses. For example, our youngest child will only do speaking and listening.

I haven't taken Spanish in almost 20 years, but I am excited to do this. The main reason is to be able to help others who speak Spanish but not (or only a little bit of) English.

And there are personal benefits to learning new skills (such as foreign languages). It has been shown to positively modify the brain's structure, keep aging minds sharp, and delay dementia. For children and youth, learning a foreign language has been shown to increase a broad range of cognitive development. In addition, the "flow" state of acquiring new abilities has been shown to increase happiness. That is, our whole body likes it when we learn new things.

Our six-year-old on lesson 1.

¡Vamanos! (Let's Go!)

Since all five of us will be learning Spanish, perhaps we can produce something like this (from what I understand, it was produced as a final project in a Spanish class):

What about you? Are you up for learning any new skills in 2014?

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**top image courtesy of imageafter via everystockphoto

Top 5 Posts (and Top 8 Moments) in 2013

Happy New Year!

I'm still not full-go back into blogging, but I wanted to highlight the most popular posts on this blog in 2013. Did you miss any of these . . . .

#5.  "Prayer Back in Schools" Is NOT the Answer.  Based on the conversation this generated on my social media accounts, probably the most controversial piece I wrote last year.

#4.  Santa Is Not a Salvation Issue.  A late-year, seasonal post. Santa is famous, or infamous, to Christians, depending on your perspective.

#3.  Recommended: The Case for Faith -- Student Edition.  A great book that I read through with my daughter, and I am about to with my older son.

#2.  The Connection of Passover and Easter.  Being a Jewish Christian, this topic is very close to my heart.

#1.  How Do We Know That God Is Real?  A post from 2011, which was a re-blog from years earlier. (And which preceded the Top Post of 2012.) Apparently a popular topic!

Year in Review

And just for kicks and smiles, I looked over Facebook's list of my top 20 moments for 2013. I'm not sure how they calculated those events, but some of my favorite were:

January 2 --> Started working at USC Salkehatchie. (I wrote about this in an update on my jobs and ministries.)

April 21 --> (A conversation I had with my son.)
Me: "Why did you make that craft in class?"
Sender: "Because I HAD to."
Meaningful time today at Grace Church Childrens Ministry
May 5 -->  Got to witness a historic moment in #AllendaleSC: 2 black teenagers baptized at Allendale Baptist Church.

May 26 --> Love former neighbors who still invite us over for cul-de-sac parties. — with Jamie Fuller and 2 others.

July 18 --> Happy anniversary (of our engagement) to my incredible wife, Joanna Wimmer Espinosa. It has been a wonderful 14 years since you said "Yes." 

And after some teenage boys from Allendale told me yesterday, "Your wife is beautiful," I answered, "I know. Why do you think I married her?"

September 17 -->  When you place an order at the drive-thru microphone at Hardees, & the response is, "Ok, drive around, Mr. Joey.".... 

October 15 --> (see image to the right) She was supposed to be studying for a science test, but decided to make this scarecrow instead. #creativemess
November 23 -->  (Too long to copy over here. You can read what I wrote in Thankful: The Best 2 Years of My Life.)

Edit: Here are the top 5 posts from my other blog, Misson: Allendale.

** first image courtesy of rkirbycom via rgbstock.com (other images mine)