How to Can Deer Meat

My favorite way to eat deer is from a can, and anytime I mention Canned Deer Meat to anyone, they’re either instantly curious or instantly repulsed.  I’ve yet to meet someone who has ever had canned deer meat, outside of my family.

I was born in West Virginia, where my Dad, Papaw, uncles, and anyone male loved spending their time deer hunting.  I don’t remember all the different ways we ate deer back then, but we’ve been eating canned deer meat for as long as I can remember.

My husband killed his first 2 deer in 2015, and my mom took care of all the processing for us!  We had canned deer for quite a while from that.  Since then, though, he hasn’t hunted, because he hasn’t wanted to spend the money on a hunting license.  So we’ve been missing out on a lot of yummy meals!


A couple of months ago, a wonderful church member killed a deer, and he dropped it at our local processor, paid the processing fees, and gifted it to us!  #BestGiftEver.  The processor can do lots of things, but we had him to keep it basic on the front/hind quarters (LEGS), so we got them from him, all cleaned, sealed up and frozen.  They were huge!  Like, as wide as our upright deep freeze!  Since it was Christmas time, we kept it frozen until a few weeks ago when we were ready to do the canning.

I’ve never done the canning before, so we asked my Mom to bring her pressure canner and come show us how.  To be honest, she did most of the work.  That’s what moms are for, right?  I’m kidding about that; we just didn’t have much room for all of us to work at once in our kitchen.

About 3 days before my Mom came over, we moved the meat from our freezer to our refrigerator to let it thaw.  By the time she came, it was mostly thawed, but had a few small frozen spots in the middle.  As for the rest of the process, it was really pretty easy:

  1. Sterilize the jars & rings.  We just boil them for a few minutes.
  2. Cut the meat.  We began by cutting the meat up into small cubes, about 1″ wide.  We discarded any of the white filmy substance that was on the outside of the meat.
  3. Fill each canning jar with the raw meat.  Stuff them full!  As they cook, they will settle a bit in the jars.
  4. Add salt.  My mom usually sprinkles some brown gravy mix in each jar, which would contain some salt as well.  We didn’t have any gravy mix, so we just used a little bit of salt.  The taste is the same!
  5. Put lids & rings on each jar, and place jars in the pressure canner.  There should be water in the canner, according to its directions.
  6. Seal the pressure canner, and begin cooking.  Be sure to follow instructions for your canner on this step!  You want to seal the canner, and then slowly bring up the pressure.  Once it’s at full pressure, cook your meat for about an hour.  (YES!  It cooks AFTER you put it in the can!)
  7. Gently slide pressure canner off of the heat source.  Allow to cool and de-pressurize.  Do NOT open the canner until the pressure is completely down!  It is very dangerous.  When you do finally open the canner, lift the side of the lid that’s furthest away from you, so that the steam comes out away from your body.  This is very important, as the steam will be very hot and could cause burns!
  8. Gently remove cans from the canner.  Line them up on a dish towel on your counter.  Within an hour or so, you should hear each lid “pop” as it seals.  If you aren’t listening for the pops, it’s okay.  Just make sure each lid has sealed before you put them away.  If one does not seal, the meat will ruin–so you’d want to put it in the fridge and use it in a meal right away.  You can tell the lids have sealed because they will be slightly domed inward.
  9. That’s it!  Your meat is finished and ready to put away with the rest of your canned goods.  It will remain good for at least a year–though ours never lasts that long!

All in all, it’s a pretty simple process.  The hardest part is cutting the meat up.  We LOVE canned deer meat for so many reasons, but the biggest reason is that it makes for several fast and easy meals!  As a busy mom, or even a not-busy mom, it’s always great to have a meal on hand that you can prepare in 15 minutes–and canned deer meat makes that possible!

Stay posted for a post on my favorite quick recipes for using canned deer meat!  They are delicious and easy!

Rachel  🙂

Meal Plan for February 26-March 4

Y’all, this week’s meal planning was a HUGE success!  I went through my meal plan to make my grocery list for the week, and NO JOKE……  My shopping list for an entire week & 21 meals for my family, was only 5 items long!  I spent less than $20!  WHAT?!?!?!

If you struggle in your grocery budget, and you aren’t meal planning, this is one simple way to start saving money.  Another simple tip is to only buy meat when it’s on sale. Our freezer is stocked full of meat, so that’s an expensive part of our meals that we rarely have to buy.


Sunday, February 26

Monday, February 27

  • BBQ Chicken
  • Fried Potatoes
  • Steamed Vegetables
  • Garlic Bread

Tuesday, February 28


Wednesday, March 1


  • Tacos

Thursday, March 2

  • Pizza!

Friday, March 3

Saturday, March 4

  • Leftovers–  “Clean out the Fridge!”

So tell me,
What’s for dinner at your house this week?

Rachel 🙂



I have a FREE printable meal planner that I designed in January.  I am LOVING using it each week to plan my meals, and it looks cute on my fridge!  There are also printable recipe cards for a few recipes on this page, that you can download.

Why I Won’t Be Seeing “The Shack”

I don’t remember the exact year that I first read The Shack, but it was somewhere between 2007-2010.  I had just graduated with my Bachelors degree in Religion, from Liberty University, where I had taken Bible classes yearly as a general requirement for all degrees, and an additional 15 or so Theology & Bible courses just for my major.  I had also attended Chapel 3 times a week.  After graduation, I started doing ministry at a Baptist Collegiate Ministry, where I led in women’s ministry.

I loved, LOVED reading, and a good Christian friend lent me her copy of The Shack after she finished reading it.  She LOVED it, and just knew that I would, too.  She was right.  I cried through the story so many times.  I LOVED it.  When I finished it and returned her book, I told her, “This was the BEST description of the Trinity that I’ve ever seen!”  I was amazed!  I felt like I knew God like I had never known Him before.  I even had a list of quotes I shared on Blogger that I felt each revealed something amazing about God.  (For this post, I tried to go back to my old Blogger account to find this list, but alas–it has been deleted after years of not logging in.  Sigh.  I suppose I’ll never be able to find that heresy again.)


After reading it, my Dad stumbled on an article about the book that talked about it being heresy.  I hadn’t read the article, but I looked at my dad like he HAD to be crazy.  He then said, “Does it portray that God is ______?”  Sorry, I can’t remember exactly what he asked me, but it was something about God’s character, and it was something that God’s character is NOT.  As he asked the question, my eyes widened as I began to see that all throughout the book, it made God feel more easy to understand.  BUT, and this is a big BUT, the things you “understood” about God through reading this book were NOT TRUE! Remember how I said “I felt like I knew God like I had never known Him before”?  Well, I did.  I had never known God to be the way He was presented in that book, because He was presented in a way that was contrary to Scripture.  I had never known that God, because that God was a false god, and I had fallen prey to the deception.

It was as if I had soaked in all the doctrine of the book, and with one question, my dad had successfully set off thousands of alarm bells about it.  I quickly unpublished my post on Blogger, and I stopped recommending the book.  As I had returned the book, I couldn’t really go through it again for a more thorough understanding of what I thought about it.  So for years, I just felt unsure and unsettled about what I had read there.

Several years later, while my husband and I were at Seminary, he was given the assignment of reading and critiquing The Shack.  I decided to read along with him, and this time I was alert for the heresy that I knew lied within its pages.  If I hadn’t been alarmed before, a second reading solidified my belief that this book was nothing more than heresy.

Here’s a short introduction from my husband’s review:

New York Time’s best seller, The Shack, is an almost believable fiction story of a man who encounters God after dealing with emotions triggered by the grizzly death of his daughter Missy.  Though the book was written with obvious superiority that gripped the hearts and minds of the readers, the theological aspects of the novel resemble more than mere fictional parts.  The apparent doctrinal claims made in this work contradict numerous biblical doctrines including the nature of God, man’s condition, the Church, and salvation.  Readers should be made aware of Young’s apparent agenda and blatant disregard to God’s Word.  The spiritual and theological stances taken within this writing have implications of eternal consequence.  Though the writing contains some information that matches that of scripture, the content is far less than inspiring, but insulting to God and should be labeled nothing more than heresy.

Here’s why I won’t be watching the movie:

  1. The things that happen to his daughter aren’t entertaining.  If I’m seeing the movie for entertainment-purposes, this would ruin it for me completely.
  2. It teaches lies about God.  If I’m seeing the movie for spiritual purposes, this would make that null and void.  The only God I want to know is the One Who is revealed to me through Scripture.  The “god” that Young portrays in the book does not match the God of the Scripture.
  3. It teaches lies about salvation.  The book gives the implication that all are saved, regardless of what they believe about Christ, or if they have a relationship with God at all.  I cannot EVER support anything that might lead people to believe they are “saved”, when they are indeed bound for an eternity of torment.
  4. The book’s author believes the book to be just as inspired as The Bible.  If I had known this from the beginning, I would never have picked up the book.  Anyone or anything that claims to be the divinely inspired Word of God is something we should be skeptical of!  As Christians, we believe the book of Revelation is “the last revelation” of Christ until He returns.  So then any books that come along after should be rejected as a false gospel or heresy.  While I believe God inspires people to write books today, it is not in the same way that He inspired Paul to write the epistles.  The words in our Bibles were “God-breathed”, not just generic messages or stories that were laid on human hearts as passions or ideas.  God literally breathed out each word of Scripture and gave it to us as His infallible, inerrant Word.  That is NOT what happened with Young and this book.

I don’t usually write and encourage people not to watch specific movies, though I could do so with movies like Shades of Grey, or even Noah (It was not even close to a Biblical portrayal!)  This movie is different, for one reason only.  If it is anything like the book, it has the power to lead even Christians to believe a false gospel about a false god.  I urge you not to allow that opportunity into your life, or the lives of your children.  False doctrines are more dangerous than any earthly danger.  These doctrines have effects that stretch beyond this life and into eternity, and I desire that none will be led astray by the heresies this movie presents.

Rachel 🙂


Related Articles:

  1. What’s Wrong with The Shack?  13 Heresies by Generation Cedar
  2. The Shack by Matt Slick
  3. Why You Shouldn’t See The Shack-but Why So Many Will by Grayson Gilbert
  4. Reflections on the Shack by Randy Alcorn
  5. Christian Leaders Express Concerns (Including Depicting God as a Woman) with Film Adaptation of BestSelling “Heretical” Novel, ‘The Shack’ by Sergio Mims

God Didn’t Save Me So I Could Have a Nice Life

We’ve all heard those powerful testimonies from Christians who were converted out of extremely wicked lives.  They were addicted to cocaine, prostituting themselves, living a homosexual life, bouncing from one sexual partner to another, suicidal, or perhaps had even committed violent crimes like murder or aggravated assault.  We hear their stories, and we’re blown away by God’s power to change someone who had been so obviously callous to the Gospel.  Their testimonies are powerful, and are used for such greatness.

I don’t have such a testimony.  I grew up as a pastor’s kid.  I accepted Christ when I was six years old, and so, no–I wasn’t addicted to drugs or porn or sex when God saved me.  I remember being in college and hearing awesome testimonies, and wishing that I had something in my past that would make my testimony powerful.  Something in my story that God could use.  God was using these people greatly, but I didn’t feel like He’d ever be able to use me like that.

Then I heard a testimony from someone similar to me, who focused on the things “she could have been” without Christ.  She looked back at her life and saw clear paths that her life could have taken if God were not in the picture.  I could do the same, and YES, it is incredible to see the things that God saved me from.

He saved me from having premarital sex.  From getting pregnant outside of marriage, or getting an STD.  From embracing a lifestyle of drinking and partying.  From dying in a car crash due to reckless driving.  From becoming anorexic or bulimic.  All of these things are possibilities that I can look back at, and can see the turn that could have taken me to those places.  I can’t even begin to imagine the secondary or tertiary roads that those paths would have brought me to.  There’s no way for me to grasp all the things that God has saved me from, but I do know what He saved me FOR.  The truth is, though it is incredible to see what God has done in my earthly life, and all the things He has protected me from, those things are not the reason He saved me.  The past, or a “possible past”, is not the most powerful part of my testimony.  The most powerful thing about salvation is not the past, but the future.  It is the WHY He saved us, and this is what He tells me in His Word.

Photo Credit Here

He didn’t save me so that I could have this awesome life here on earth.  He didn’t save me so that I could have a good story to tell, although He can most certainly use our stories.  He didn’t save any of us so that we could have a better life here on earth–although many of our earthly lives are transformed by His greatness.

He tells me why He saved me.  He saved me for HIS glory.  For His plans.  For His eternal purposes–purposes that last far beyond the 80 or so years that I’ll spend on this planet.  He saved me for His work.  He saved me for the furtherance of His kingdom.  For the equipping of the Saints.  For the discipleship of others.

For a testimony of His Salvation.  For Holiness.  For displaying His power.  For training up a third spiritual generation of believers (I stole that line from Pastor Dwayne Carson).  He saved me to mentor my own children in the faith, and to mentor others too.  He saved me for an eternity with Him.  For a personal, intimate relationship with Him.

This life and the story I have here….they are only a starting point.  Sure.  God can use my story (no matter how boring it may seem to some), but He didn’t save me so that I could have an awesome earthly life.  He saved me for the same reason He desires to save everyone.  He saved me because He desires relationship with me, and because He is building an eternal kingdom filled with believers that will give glory to Him alone.

If you don’t have such a relationship with Christ, please know that no matter your story, God desires a relationship with you.  He wants the rest of your story to belong to him. If you look at your life and think your past is too big for God to take you, think again!  Look at the Apostle Paul, or the former serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, or James Flanagan, who was incarcerated for a life of drugs, alcohol, and other crimes.  A simple google search for “Criminals Who Became Christians” will bring you to thousands of stories that prove God can save ANYONE.  Not only that, but He desires to save everyone!    2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  No matter your story, God is calling YOU to leave your sin behind & follow Him.  He wants to know you.

On the flip side, you might look at your life and think you aren’t so bad.  You may look around at the world, and see yourself as a kind and compassionate person who cares for others, serves others, and is a “good person.”  You might be right, in comparison with the world.  It is entirely possible for you to be a kind person without Christ, but without relationship with God, all you have is the story of this life.  It may be a good story, but it is only a starting point.  What will be your end?  With a relationship with Christ, your earthly life will pale in comparison to what God promises in eternity.  He promises an ETERNAL life of relationship with Him.  A life of living in a kingdom that is entirely free of sin.  There will be no sadness or pain when that day comes.  There will be worship, and love, and joy, and peace as all believers come together and live a life of unity and grace, and worship for the God who created us and saved us.  God wants YOU to be there, and He wants His relationship with you to begin today.  2 Corinthians 6:2 says that “NOW is the day of salvation.”  Come to Him.  Leave your sin behind you–sins of pride and selfishness, or simply the sin of rejecting God–and choose to follow Christ.  He is waiting for you.

If you want to know more about my story, or if you just want to talk with someone about Christ, please PLEASE comment below or send me an email.  I LOVE to talk to others about our amazing Creator God!

Rachel  🙂


Meal Plan for February 19-25

I meal plan for every meal, and through meal planning we’ve discovered so many benefits.  We’re saving money on our grocery bill.  We are eating more meals at the dinner table.  We’re eating healthier.  Our boys are learning to try new foods.  Although I plan breakfast and lunch, those plans are pretty redundant.  My dinner plans are much more thorough, and I’d like to start posting my weekly meal plan each week, with links to some of the recipes.  Enjoy, and let me know if you add something to your recipe collection!


Sunday, February 19

  • DeerBQ
    *Stay Tuned for a post on Quick & Easy Deer Recipes
  • Fried Potatoes
  • Baked Beans

Monday, February 20


Tuesday, February 21

  • Taco Casserole  (This is my husband’s recipe, and OH, SOOOO delicious!)

Wednesday, February 22


Thursday, February 23

  • Open-Faced Roast Deer
    *Stay Tuned for a post on Canning Deer Meat!

Friday, February 24

Saturday, February 25

  • We’re eating out with our extended family!

So tell me,
What’s for dinner at your house this week?

Rachel  🙂


I have a FREE printable meal-planner that I designed in January.  I am LOVING using it each week to plan my meals, and it looks cute on my fridge!  There are also printable recipe cards for a few recipes on this page, that you can download.

Discipling Toddlers

When my oldest son was almost 2½ years old, we decided to start working with him on some basic theology.  I know what you’re thinking.  Theology?  For a 2-year-old?  The answer is YES!  Of course we’re talking very basic.  We started by asking him, “Who made everything?”  We tried to get him to point up and say, “God!”  He wasn’t even interested in trying, but to our surprise Joshua piped up and exclaimed, “God!”  Joshua was about 13 months old at the time, and he picked up on several questions immediately. Today, 6 months later, Joshua knows the answers to 5 questions.  Nathanael, who is almost 3, sometimes can answer two of the questions.  We know Nathanael is capable, but he has grown up just enough that he’s not as interested in learning answers to questions. We really have to push him to get him to memorize anything.  We thought we were starting early with Nathanael, but we were actually starting late. Joshua, on the other hand, has gotten a perfect start at learning Truth from God’s Holy Word.

Photo Credit here

In less than 3 years of parenthood, we’ve learned a lot about discipling our children from a very young age.  I’m sure we still have plenty to learn!  We don’t expect them to accept Christ as Savior and Lord while they are toddlers, and so discipling may seem like an odd word to use.  I’m using it anyway. We are likely not making a disciple out of our children today, but we are training them up in hopes that they become mature disciples of Christ someday.

You may be wondering, HOW do we disciple our toddlers?  If so, here are FOUR practical things we do in order to disciple them now:

1.  Prayer

We pray with them. We started praying with Nathanael when he was probably 8 months old. When we put him to bed we would hold his hand and say a prayer. We discovered that it helped him relax, and he would always smile as he enjoyed that special time with Mom or Dad. Of course, we also prayed at the dinner table. With time, we began to pray with him whenever something was wrong. When he was throwing a fit and having a hard time calming himself down, I would take his hands, look him in the eye, and ask him if we could pray. He would almost immediately calm down, and he and I would pray together. He even started to repeat words after us. Today he and Joshua both love to repeat prayers after mom or dad say the words. They love to pray!  Sometimes Nathanael even joins me in my personal prayer time and in praying over my prayer list.

2.  Bible Reading

We read the Bible to them. Right now, we are reading a story from the book of Luke each day at lunch. After our Bible story, we say our memory verse several times.  This week’s verse is “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  We do little motions and say the verse in segments of 2-3 words at a time.  Joshua does some of the motions and words, and Nathanael usually repeats the words and does the motions.  At the end of the verse, we say, “Yay!!!” and clap our hands.  The boys love it!

In addition, during my own personal Bible reading time, I will often read Scripture out loud to them. I usually do this when they are interrupting my quiet time. It helps me to focus on God’s Word in spite of their distractions, but it also is an extra opportunity to feed them truth from God’s Word and show them how much I value the Bible.

3.  Theology

We practice basic theology. Because they are toddlers, we keep this very basic.  We often state truths about God, like “God is good.”  “God loves us.”  “We can always trust God.”  Sometimes Nathanael cries in his bed at night and needs me to come in and comfort him.  If he isn’t wanting me to leave him alone after a scary dream, I tell him:  “Even when Mommy isn’t here, God is here with you and can take care of you.  You are never alone.”  We look for opportunities to talk about these things!

In addition to that, we work with them on memorizing the answers to some basic questions about theology.  Here are some of the questions we currently ask:

  • Q:  Who made everything?  A:  God!  (We point up.)
  • Q:  What’s the only source of Truth?  A:  Bible!
    (We hold our hands in the shape of a book.)
  • Q: Who died for you?  A:  Jesus.
    (We touch each palm, which is the sign language for Jesus.)
  • Q:  How do we talk to God?  A: Pray!  (Clasp hands as if in prayer.)
  • Q:  Who is God’s family?  A:  Church.
    (I do the old trick of intertwining my fingers and pointing both index fingers toward the sky like a steeple.)

As they grow from toddlers to preschoolers, we have some basic things about the Gospel that we developed for our church’s family discipleship ministry that we will do with them.  I’m sure we will add to them, but here are the basic things we plan to teach them first:

  • God made me and everything.  Genesis 1
  • Adam and Eve did something wrong.  That’s called sin.  Sin made a wall between people and God.  Genesis 2-3, Isaiah 59:2.
  • Sometimes I sin, too.  Romans 3:23 
  • God sent His Son Jesus to earth.  John 3:16, Luke 2:4-7, Matthew 9:35.
  • Jesus died on the cross.  Only a perfect man who never sinned could take care of the punishment for sin.  Mark 15:25-39, Isiah 53:6, I Peter 3:18, Romans 5:17,  John 19:38-42.
  • Jesus came back to life!  Matthew 28:1-7
  • If I believe in Jesus, He can take away my sin and give me everlasting life.  I John 1:9, John 6:47, Romans 6:22.

4.  Church

Going to church might seem like a given, but there’s more to it than just “going” when we talk about discipleship. We are starting with some basics that we hope will lay a foundation for future worship and service to God.  We’re trying to teach them how to sit still in church and listen.  I have to be honest.  This is HARD.  Like REALLY hard.  I think it’s especially hard for us because we have TWO toddlers–both a 1-year-old AND a 2-year-old.   We hope Nathanael will have at least mostly mastered this by his third birthday in April.  He’s doing pretty well right now, but he’s still not where we want him to be.  Joshua is just starting to learn.  I feel that we are starting late, so hopefully if God blesses us with more children it will be easier in the future.  At our previous church the boys were always in nursery for service.  It was nice to be able to sit and listen, but I wasn’t prepared when we moved to a new church that only offered nursery on Sunday morning.  At first, my goal was simply to keep them quiet.  A wonderful woman sat with me to help out.  We brought tons of snacks and toys, and they would play and have so much fun at the pew.  As Joshua has gotten older, though, their play has become much louder and it’s been a struggle to even keep them in the pew–much less quiet.  We’ve tried a number of things, but after all of our attempts to keep them entertained, we knew we needed a better plan!  For now, this is where we have settled:

  • I work with Nathanael individually on Sunday morning while Joshua is in the nursery.  While there, he’s supposed to participate just like a regular church member.  I have him stand for songs.  I have him go say “Hi” to people during the meet and greet time.  I give him the tithe check to place in the offering “bowl”.  He even stands as the church recites our weekly memory verse.  Then there is something called “Small Talk” where the children come to the front.  I take him up there while I sit on the front pew.  The first time, he took off running up on the stage and I had to go fetch him, but now he pays attention pretty well and seems to follow the lead of the bigger kids most of the time.  For now, I take him to the nursery after Small Talk, but very soon we’ll work on staying for the sermon.
  • We no longer bring toys.  Toys caused them to play, and not pay attention to what was going on around them.  They also sometimes caused their play to become increasingly more wild.  They would play quietly during the singing, but by invitation they were crawling under the pews and throwing a fit that ended in me taking them out.
  • We no longer bring snacks.  Snacks were similar to toys.  Even sippy cups ended up being rolled under pews at other people’s feet.  They eat dinner before church and can have a snack when we get home.  There really isn’t a need for snacks during that one hour.
  • We have them sit.  This is a struggle, but we are really working on making them sit on their bottoms for the service.  They currently don’t last the entire service, but Nathanael is really close!
  • We bring books.  Now, I started with bringing a pile of random books, but I’m even changing that up.  Too many books just turn into toys.  They have fun stacking them.  They have fun throwing them on the floor and then getting down to pick them up.  So now I’ve decided to only bring 2 books per boy, and only give them one at a time.  I will only give them a book after the song service, and only after they start to become antsy.  These books will be “Bible” books, for the sake of making sure church is always about God.  We have several so we should be able to switch it up a bit.  The books are only there because books are just about the only things we have to keep them interested while sitting.  Once they get good at sitting with a book, we’ll begin waiting longer to give them a book, and then we’ll eventually take the books away entirely.
  • I do not take them to the nursery when they misbehave.  There are times when I need to take them out of the service.  If they are misbehaving, I do not want them to distract others, and this is where discipline comes in to play.  We have one rule about this, though.  They can not go downstairs to the nursery and play after they have misbehaved in church.  Instead, we find an empty Sunday School room and they sit in chairs.  No toys.  No books.  No snacks.  Sometimes we’re able to go back to church after just talking for a few minutes.  Other times we spend the rest of church in that room.  We will never make it fun when they act poorly in church.
  • We practice at home.  Currently we do this while their dad works out in the living room.  They sit with a book for the entire workout, which lasts anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.  They do really well, but of course, Dad is pretty entertaining!  🙂

As a mom, I know God has called me (and my husband) to disciple our children.  We hold to God’s promise toTrain up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  We take His Word very seriously when it comes to the way we raise our children.  On top of these 4 ways that we are discipling our children, we also recognize that our own lifestyles are pivotal in determining the kind of disciples our children will become.  Things like entertainment, materialism, clothing, leisure, diet and exercise, relationships with each other, and relationships with others are all key when it comes to “training them up” to follow and obey God!  We need to teach our children that all of life should be given to God and lived out for His glory.  So what about you?

What practical ways have you used in discipling your toddlers and young children?

Tell me in the comments below!

Rachel 🙂 


Our Simply Special Valentine’s Day

We had the best day yesterday!  It didn’t start out perfect though.  I woke up to Nathanael crying because he had wet the bed.  😦  I cleaned him up, which he hates, and then I cleaned his bed up too, and then we went to the kitchen to get breakfast ready!  Joshua was still sleeping but woke up then, and had a very dirty diaper.  Yuck.  So I cleaned that up.  Then Lane got home from his Tuesday morning men’s Bible study, and so he made pancakes while I cut up strawberries.  Since it was Valentine’s Day we were supposed to have heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream on top, but I forgot about the heart-shaped part, so they were just regular round pancakes.  They boys didn’t know the difference, and they were super excited for the strawberries!


After breakfast Lane went to visit a church member, and I sat down to do my Bible study, but the boys were being really rowdy and fighting with each other.  I got tired of the distractions and turned on a Bible movie for them.  That worked for about 10 minutes, and then Nathanael had to go potty and Joshua followed him back there.  Most of you moms out there probably understand why I can’t let Joshua go with him to the potty.  At 19 months old, Joshua will play with toilet water, unroll the toilet paper & try to flush it all down the potty, put toys in the potty, etc.  He can NOT go with his brother to the bathroom unsupervised.  Never, ever.  So yeah.  It took me over an hour to read 2 chapters in the Bible and jot down some notes, but I finally finished!

Then it was bath-time for the boys, but I then realized that it was already 11:00 and we hadn’t made cookies yet!  Lane got home and I asked him to watch the boys while I folded the boys’ clothes so they’d have their good clothes ready for tonight after their naps.  Then I started the cookies, planning to let the boys help cut and decorate them, only I forgot that I have to let them chill in the fridge for an hour before rolling them out.  So, we just had lunch and put the boys to bed.  And I did the cookies while they were sleeping.


Lane ended up helping me with dinner!  While we were in the kitchen, he came in and said, “Do you want to listen to Michael Buble’?”   Um, YES please!  We ended up dancing around the kitchen together a little while we cooked.  I have a romantic husband sometimes!  🙂

While Lane worked out, I took the leaf out of our table to make it smaller and more intimate.  Then I put the tablecloth on and trimmed the flowers.  I found the candle holder and grabbed a candle from elsewhere in the house.  I put them on a plate and looked for some little clear glass stones to put on the plate, but apparently I’m out of those.  So I had to get creative.  I found some pink ribbon in my craft box, so I curled up a bunch and covered the bottom of the plate with it.  Not exactly fancy, but it was cute!

I put the heart coasters on the table and even got small glasses out for the boys.  I thought they might break them, but they did really well!  I was so proud!  I put wine glasses out for Lane and I to have some sparkling grape juice in.  When the food was ready, I made each person’s plate and set it on the table with their silverware.

I think the table looked great!  And my guys were READY to eat!


The dinner was tasty, and the boys did great with real plates, and even with eating their personal casserole out of the glass bowls.  I couldn’t even finish my plate because I was so full, and then it was time for cookies!  I passed out everyone’s BIG cookie that was decorated just for them, and snapped a picture of each one:

Yummm.  I couldn’t finish my cookie either, LOL.  I only ate half of it and I felt like I was going to go into a sugar coma.  (Exaggerating, but I did feel crazy weird!)

We did a minimal kitchen clean-up and moved to the living room to relax.  We looked on Amazon Video for a cute romantic movie and ended up settling on Runaway Bride.  We watched the movie, and at the end when all the fun music plays, we all slow-danced in the living room.  It was hilarious because Joshua was grabbing my legs so hard and our dancing was incredibly awkward, but it was sweet, and special, and fun!

I seriously think this is the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had, and I’m sure it was because I went into the day wanting to do something special for all 3 of my Valentines, rather than hoping anyone did anything for me.  I could tell that my husband, and our boys, were super blessed by it!  And of course my husband was great too–taking care of the boys, helping prepare the meal, sweeping the kitchen floor, and who could forget the Michael Buble and dancing in the kitchen?  Ahhh, I am blessed!

Rachel  🙂





Meal Plan for February 12-18 & Free Printables

I’ve been doing meal planning off and on since I got married, but for the past year it has finally been something that I’ve been consistent with.  This month, I’ve even paid closer attention to our grocery budget, and I am SAVING money by meal planning!

I do my grocery runs every week on Thursdays.  Most months, my weekly shopping has ranged from $60-180, totaling about $350 per month.  That’s crazy!  In the past month, I’ve only bought the necessary things for my meal plan.  I’ve spent a range of $40-100 on my shopping, totaling about $200!  What?!?!  $150 savings just by planning ahead?   I’m just as stunned as you are!  🙂

I meal plan for every meal, but most days lunch consists of leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, and breakfast is fairly redundant as well.  My dinner plans are much more thorough, and I’d like to start posting my weekly meal plan each week, with links to some of the recipes.  Enjoy, and let me know if you add something to your recipe collection!


Sunday, February 12

  • Clean out the Fridge Day!  (We have plenty of leftovers from last week!)

Monday, February 13

Tuesday, February 14
Candlelit Valentine’s Dinner!

Wednesday, February 15

  • Leftover Spaghetti

Thursday, February 16

  • Open-Faced Roast Deer!
    *Stay Tuned for a post on Canning Deer Meat!

Friday, February 17pork-chops

Saturday, February 18

  • Tacos.  Always a family favorite, and no sides necessary!

So tell me,
What’s for dinner at your house this week?

Rachel  🙂


BONUS!  I have a FREE printable meal-planner that I designed about a month ago.  I am LOVING using it each week to plan my meals, and it looks cute on my fridge!  There are also printable recipe cards for a few recipes on this page, that you can download!

Letting Go of Expectations on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day that you show the one you love how much you love them.  Often, though, I think we mistake that concept and simply imagine Valentine’s Day as a day for MEN to do something romantic for their wives or girlfriends.

When “dating”, my husband and I didn’t go on very many “dates.”  We did go on a few dates, but more often than not we’d just hang out at the Seminary or at church events.  We even took a class together and were able to spend time studying together!  There were a few special dates–like when he snagged some free tickets to the symphony and we got all dressed up and went.  So sweet!  And then there were LOTS of dates at the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens!  (Both are free, and both are beautiful!)


When we got married, I told my husband that I’d like him to just plan 3 “nice” dates per year.  One for our dating anniversary in September, one for our engagement anniversary in January, and one {extra special date} for our Wedding anniversary in May.  Those were the only guidelines I gave him.  A few months into our marriage, it was August (over a month before our anniversary), and I asked him if he’d made plans for our dating anniversary yet.  He said, “Not yet, but I will.”  Okay.  I waited, but I was a little aggravated that he hadn’t even started thinking about it yet.  I worried that he’d procrastinate and then would end up with a really lame date.  So I did what any woman would do in my shoes.  I “reminded” him every couple of days to make sure he planned it!  The week before our anniversary, he started asking me questions.  I answered his questions, but I was fuming inside.  You mean he STILL hasn’t gotten this all set?  But I didn’t say a word.  September 25th shows up, and right before we leave he starts pulling up Mapquest for directions.  You don’t even know how to get there, and I gave you MONTHS to plan!  Ughhhh!  As I stood there with my sarcastic smile on my face, tapping my foot, I mentally applauded myself for my EXTREME patience in not yelling at him.  I guess 5 months notice wasn’t enough time for him to plan one nice date.  He must not even care about making this a special day for me. 

He ended up taking me to this lake for a picnic.  The spot he picked out was where you couldn’t even get close to the lake, so we had to go exploring and find somewhere else to picnic.  When he opens the picnic basket, there’s a sparkling cider with glasses, and 2 sub sandwiches–that were filled with food I don’t like.

I continued to pridefully act as if I wasn’t mad, but I barely talked to him.  I smiled, gave obligatory nods and “hmmm…’s” as he talked.  He would ask if I was okay, and I’d tell him I was just tired, or cold, or that I didn’t like the sandwich.  I never told him that I hated the date.  That it wasn’t even close to living up to my expectations.  I was miserable the entire time, and so was he.  I had asked him to plan this date, and had given him no direction on what I wanted.  He read my loud sighs clearly, and knew that he didn’t measure up.  On the way home, he apologized that it didn’t go well.  And then he said, “I’m not even sure what I could have done to make it better.”

Do you want to guess what followed his apology?  You probably guessed it!  The LIST!  You know which list I’m talking about.  The one where I ravage him with every detail of everything I disapproved of.  “You don’t know what you could have done differently?  Well, let me tell you!!”  And I did.  I told him how he didn’t put any effort into planning.  He should have asked around to find a good picnicking spot rather than googling something for “2 minutes”.  He should have checked the sandwiches to make sure there was something I liked.  Actually, he should have realized that sandwiches are totally unromantic anyways and picked something else.  He should have found directions, and made sure he knew how to get there before today.  I basically told him that he was a failure as a husband–an unromantic guy who obviously didn’t care at all about pleasing me.

Only–looking back, it seems like there was only one person on that date who put any effort into doing something nice for the other one.  And it wasn’t me.  And oh yeah, a picnic by the lake?  What an incredibly romantic date that could have been if I hadn’t been so busy judging everything!  Most women would LOVE that!  5 years later, I’m thinking that if my husband did that again for me right now, I’d absolutely melt!

So what was the problem, then?  It was me.  I was the problem.  I told him to plan a date, and expected him to plan the same exact date I had planned out in my head.  Only that’s not possible.  So he thought about it.  He asked a few guy friends, and he searched the internet.  He found a sandwich shop and ordered our food.  He bought sparkling cider and made sure to pack our two wine glasses.  He thought he had covered everything.  He had covered everything, but one thing:  His selfish wife’s unrealistic expectations.  The day was miserable because of me.  If I had dropped my expectations I could have had a really great time!  I could have enjoyed the view of the beautiful lake!  I could have enjoyed watching the sunset.  I could have enjoyed my husband.  Instead, we were both miserable and the date flopped.

I’m sure this is why so many men HATE Valentine’s Day!  Many men have just stopped trying, because they don’t think it’s possible to please their wives anyway.

So then, what do we women do?  Well, let’s get back to the beginning:

“Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day that you show the one you love how much you love them.”

We women should do exactly this!  Use Valentine’s Day as a time to show the one you love how much you love him!  Quit worrying about what he does or doesn’t do for you.  Just aim to please him.  Aim to love him!  Aim to do something special and romantic for him, or with him.  Aim to bless your husband!

What are YOUR Valentine’s plans?

Notice I said “YOUR plans”, Not “HIS plans.”  What are YOU planning to do to make him feel loved?  Here are my plans:

Wake up and make heart-shaped pancakes.  Top them with strawberries & whipped cream.  Mid-morning, the boys and I will make some heart cookies, and then we’ll decorate them and eat a few!  If I have time, we might make some homemade Valentine’s with simple construction paper and crayons.  During the boys’ naps I will work on dinner.  On the meal plan is individual chicken poppyseed casseroles.  I have a few cute small baking dishes that I’ll use.  We’ll have rolls, and a few other sides, and I even picked up some new wine glasses and sparkling red grape juice for Lane and I.  I’ll decorate the table, and have candles, and I’ll text Lane that morning while he’s out and ask him to bring home fresh flowers.  (And I’ll be pleased with whichever ones he picks out!)  I’ll arrange them the best I can in a small vase, which isn’t my strong suit–but I’ll try!  I picked out a beautiful pink dress to wear from Le Tote!  (So excited to get it in!)  And then after dinner we’ll enjoy eating a few more cookies that the boys and I made.  I’m super excited about it!  The power to have a WONDERFUL Valentine’s Day is in my hands, no matter who is planning the day.  It really doesn’t matter what Lane does for me.  I know it will be a great day, and I know how great it will feel to see his smile as he looks at a beautiful dinner table that evening.

Now, don’t forget to tell me YOUR plans in the comments!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, Rachel  🙂



When God Builds Your Family

When God builds your family, it doesn’t always look the way you think.  There’s so much fear involved with “trusting God with your family size”.  But in all honesty, most of us aren’t going to end up looking like 19 Kids & Counting, driving a big bus full of kids everywhere we go.  Trusting God to build your family is an unknown, even to the Duggar daughters who are now starting their own families.  We just can’t know if God will give us 19 children, or 12, 8, 4, 2, 1, or none.  About 8 months into our marriage, my husband and I felt convicted that we should trust God to plan our fertility.  About 6 months later, I was pregnant with our first child.  Six months after he was born, I was shocked to be expecting AGAIN!


In June of last year, my husband and I were excited to find out that we were going to have a THIRD new sweet baby!  Right away, I could tell that this pregnancy was different than the others, and I assumed the baby must be a girl.  Our first daughter!  Only a week later, I miscarried.  For a week….only ONE week….I dreamed about this baby, and I loved her {or him} from the moment I saw those 2 pink lines.

This was our pregnancy announcement.  I planned to post it on Facebook around the 8-9 week mark.  We had printed a few in hard copy, and had delivered them to my parents and my sister’s family just the day before I started to miscarry.

The day after our miscarriage, I posted a long Facebook post to tell our friends and family about our loss.  Here’s an excerpt, or you can read the full post here:

Last week Lane and I found out we would welcome a third child into our family next February. And this week, we found out we would never get to meet that child…I know everyone grieves these things differently. As for me, I don’t want to just forget. I don’t want to dismiss this child as if she never existed. I want to remember. We can’t know for sure, but we imagined this baby was a girl. Our first daughter. We’re going to call her Glory. The name comes from a not-so-encouraging verse in Hosea about miscarriages being part of God’s judgment on Israel. It says “Their glory shall fly away like a bird.”

When I read it, it just seemed to fit. A bird can fly away in an instant, and all we can do is stand there and watch it go.

I know it doesn’t seem happy but it fits, in more ways than one. Our Glory has flown away, but through her life we want to give Glory to God. Before we knew for sure today, I prayed to God for a miracle. I asked Him to save her. Then I said, “But either way, God, she’s YOURS. I trust You. Just let her life bring you glory!”

In the days that followed, I went back and forth in my emotions.  I cried.  But I also felt this odd sense of peace, hope, and what I could only describe as gratefulness.  I would sit on the couch in tears, and then look up at my two precious boys playing in the floor and I would just feel…..grateful.  It was as if I had just realized how fragile life is, and seeing these two vibrant healthy boys playing was suddenly a greater blessing than I ever realized.

Friends and strangers messaged me online, saying things like, “That was the most lonely time in my life.” or “It felt so hopeless.”  I appreciated their messages and their love for me, but I honestly did not feel those things.  I felt loved, cherished, and grateful.  I felt hopeful that God was building our family in a way that would bring Him glory, and that His plans for our family were greater than any I could imagine.  I almost felt embarrassed to tell people that I only felt “slightly sad.”

Throughout the past 8 months, I’ve often noted on the calendar where I would have been in my pregnancy.  “Today I would be 20 weeks.  We’d be finding out if the baby was a boy or girl.”  “Today I’d be starting my 3rd trimester.”  “Today the baby would be considered far-enough along to be born.”  These thoughts were always slightly sad, but not despairing.

Then 39 weeks hit last Friday. Because of an issue in my first birth, we scheduled my second at 39 weeks.  I assumed we would have done the same with this one.  The doctor we prefer has his surgery day on Fridays, and so I knew we either would have had the baby last Friday the 3rd or this Friday the 10th.  Suddenly I’m not missing out on a pregnancy anymore.  I’m missing out on hearing the baby’s first cry.  Seeing her daddy hold her just after she’s born.  Holding her in my arms for the first time.  Introducing her to her 2 big brothers.  To her Papaw and Mamaw, aunt and uncle, and cousins.  Learning how to breastfeed all over again.  Bringing her home from the hospital, to a nursery that’s all prepared and perfect just for her.

Last Saturday I had an appointment in Jackson and decided to hit up Old Navy to spend some Super Cash I’d gotten before Christmas.  I looked at a few things for myself and then was drawn back to the baby section.  They had tons of Valentine’s day onesies and outfits that would have been perfect for the baby’s “Coming Home” outfit.  I allowed myself to daydream and picked out the perfect one.  I rested my hand on it, and then had to walk away.  I headed to the fitting room to hide my tears to try on the clothes I had picked out for myself.

I have this small sign on my desk as a reminder of our Glory baby, and of Christ’s call to offer EVERYTHING for HIS Glory.

Going through the miscarriage was sad, but not devastatingly hard.  8 months later it’s hitting me in a whole new way.  This Friday is the due date, and I plan to turn off my computer and phone, and spend the day cherishing my family of 4.  We’re going to go out and do something fun as a family!

In the early days after our miscarriage, I began writing a song.  It’s still unfinished, but throughout the last 8 months I have sung the song often.  In the past week, I’ve sung it all throughout my days:

“My Glory flew away, but your peace flew in.
Glory to God!  I’m breathing You in.
My dreams and plans may fail, but Lord–Your will prevails.  Even in pain You’re building me for Your name.
Glory to my King!

Early in our marriage, my husband I decided to let God build our family however He sees fit.  He’s laid adoption on our hearts, and it’s something we started looking into even before I found out I was pregnant.  We don’t know if our next baby will be biological or adopted, but we do know that God is building our family.  He’s piecing us together for His glory, and I see our Glory baby as a part of that.  In my song, there’s a line that says, “Glory to God!  I’m breathing You in.”  I have clung to those words lately.  They challenge me to lay down my own desires, loves, and plans; and to ‘breathe in’ my Lord.  They inspire me to let Him live through me in every moment–every breath.  I’m taking in His truth, His love, and His grace just as often as I breathe.  Without Him, I’d fall apart.  I’d have spent an hour crying in the Old Navy fitting room.  Instead–after a few moments of prayer, I looked in the mirror, looked myself in the eyes, and whispered truths from His Word into my heart.

Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory.”

I trust that God is building my family WELL.  I trust it, but at the same time I recognize that it’s not about me.  He isn’t building my family in order to give me fulfillment or joy.  He’s building my family in the way that we can best bring HIM glory.  I can look at my family of four and know that He has blessed me beyond what He had to.  I can receive His blessings with gladness, and celebrate His goodness.  At the same time, I can choose to see that same goodness when He continues building my family in a way that brings sadness or pain.  I KNOW He holds our future, and I KNOW that His ways are better than mine.  Even more so, I am honored that He chooses to let me be active in His story.

Through this journey, I’m learning what it feels like to be held in His hands.  To let Him use me for HIS glory, apart from my own works or plans.

Thank you Lord, for holding me in Your hands.  You truly deserve ALL the Glory.

Love, Rachel

P.S.–Sorry if I don’t get back to comments today (Friday).  I’m posting this Thursday night before bed, and my plan is to turn off social media for a day & spend some extra time cherishing the blessings that God has given me!