Beyond Meat Southwest Chicken-Free Wraps


We have discovered a new yummy food that we just adore!  It’s a substitute for meat called Beyond Meat and I’d say it is yummier than I remember to be.  Much more tender and moist.  It is a soy product so if you are soy-free you won’t want to use this one.


Recently we made a yummy lunch of Chickenless Wraps!  Here is how we did it.

  • 1 Package BeyondMeat Southwest Chicken-Free Strips
  • Southwest vegan mayo
    • 1/3 cup veganaise
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup Daiya cheddar shreds
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 onion sliced
  • 1/2 cup washed spinach
  • 1/2 cup washed kale
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas


Heat the chicken-free strips on a skillet over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes.  While the chicken-free strips are heating, make the southwest vegan mayo and spread on the tortillas.  Add kale, spinach, onion and sundried tomatoes on top of the mayo, then top with the chicken-free strips and cheese.  Wrap it up and enjoy!


Also try adding some avocado to change it up a little bit!


First day of homeschool: A dad’s view

My wife and I talked about homeschooling long before we our oldest son was even remotely close to being school-aged.  We’re almost always on the same page with things and what to do on the first day of school is no exception.  First day of school means one thing.  FIELD TRIP!!!! Growing up field trips were always the highlight of the school year.  Yeah of course we got out of going to class and doing “real” work, but most of the time they were fun and you really DID learn something.

For us , back to school day in the past has sometimes meant a “not back to school day”  We’ve enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach instead of the kids rushing off to school.   What could possibly be better than having a day away as a family relaxing at a near empty beach.    That day was a great way to say goodbye to summer and start off the school year rejuvenated!

Fun in the sun!

Fun in the sun!


Last year we had our first day of school in New York City.   The core of the science unit was going to be astronomy and the Space Shuttle Enterprise is at the Intrepid Museum.  What a great way to kick off learning!! All year long as I got opportunities to do science with them, we could reflect back to our trip!  Being there with them was truly a blessing and really helped me connect all year long.

Off to see the shuttle


Being a part of their first day of school does some amazing things

  1. I get to show them I value homeschooling.   In taking a day off from work to be with them and engaging in the activities of the day, I show them that their education is important to me.  My hope is that this isn’t the only day I show them this, but that its the start of a daily reminder that we are blessed.
  2. It shows I value them.   It is often easy for dad’s to get caught up in work and let mom’s do all the schoolwork stuff.  Taking a day with them shows I value them more than anything else.  Again,  I want my kids and wife to feel loved and valued every day.  Making a special production of this big day is always a lot of fun!
  3. It allows me to start the year engaged and fully a part of their education.  I now have a starting point for what’s going to be taking place all year.   This connection allows me to easily re-engage them as the year goes on and build on what my wife has been working on daily.  It also gives me a chance to help her catch up on things when life gets crazy, because it does!
  4. It allows us to reflect on how far they’ve come.  Each year the kids write down some of their favorite things as well as drawing a picture.   It gives the whole family a chance to reflect on how their interests and abilities have come over the last year.

I’d love to know what other families do on the first day of homeschool!  We’re always looking for new and different ideas to add into our first-day routine.

To read about other homeschool families and their back to school traditions please visit this link here.


The Healthy Homeschool Marriage Part 5: The Husband’s Perspective


All this week my wife has been giving you some insight as to how we homeschool and keep our marriage strong.  On Monday she wrote a great post about being on the same page.  Train Wreck Tuesday was an insightful post as to how avoid disasters.   Wednesday she for some reason sang my praises in a post about me being her secret power.   Yesterday was a great post on some of the challenges we face together as a homeschooling family.  After all this I knew I needed to insert my 2 cents about a Healthy Homeschool Marriage.  While I can help out here and there with homeschool, my wife really does run it.


What husbands want their homeschool wives to know

  • We trust you – You are educating our children. We trust your judgement when it comes to curriculum. As moms, you are generally way more in tune with what each child needs. This is a blessing to us men.  Sometimes we can have an approach of “Me manly man and fix problems (grunt)”.   Husbands, this is not an excuse to not pay attention to what is going on, but rather when your wife asks your opinion about a curriculum or something related,  find out what its all about and have a real opinion!  We trust you so much we place our most valued assets their future in your care daily, without reservation.
  • We value you – You’re not “just a stay at home mom”.   I often fail my wife in this.  Most days mean you’re a mom, teacher, taxi driver, chef, maid, dog-walker, fight mediator, and hundreds of other roles.  You being at home is a value to us husbands.   While we go off to work each day we don’t worry about our children.  Not in the sense that we don’t care, but they’re with you.   For me, knowing my wife is pouring out her love on my children brings me a huge peace and allows me to focus on my job.   This is such a blessing and we love you and value for the countless hours you put into homeschooling even when we’re thick headed and don’t show it.
  • We want to be active – This is hard!!! Many husbands who are working all day have no idea how to plug themselves into what their wives are doing with their children.  Trying to find out what’s going on with school after mom is fried from a long day and dad had a horrible meeting with clients and was stuck in traffic for an hour can be a disaster.  Set time aside BEFORE the week starts to figure out the family schedule for the week. From there pick an activity (or several) that dad can do with the kids. Husbands this gives you a chance to follow what your wife works on as well as some great time with your kids. One great idea can be Bible reading.  Another could be building a Lego project around a recent unit study your wife has been working on.
  • We care about our children’s future – Wives, you are in the trenches day in and day out and the primary decision maker around their education, but we do care! I know my wife stresses almost daily on whether or not she does enough for the kids, teaches enough has the right approach to their education, are the kids in the right activities and a million other things.  Us Dad’s care about that too!  Sometimes we can seem apathetic on this but I think that goes back to more on the fact that we trust you!

Homeschooling has been such a blessing to everyone in our family.  In so many ways its been a blessing to our marriage.  It forces us to communicate and evaluate our priorities.  Husbands and wives we’d love to hear your feedback on what works for you!  We hope you’ve enjoyed this series!!  To read the other posts in this series click here.

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Check out other great posts in the blog hop!

Summer Blog Hop

Vegan Stuffed Shells

I had a craving for one my most favorite meals ever!  This is the meal my own mother would make me for birthday’s and such.  It was my go-to choice on most of your average Italian restaurants.  The idea for it popped into my head and my husband ran with it.  MAN were they good!  The kids LOVED them!  We did make a batch of sauceless ones for my non-sauce loving Noah.


Here is what you need:

  • 24oz Jar of tomato sauce
  • 12oz box of stuffed shells
  • 14oz package of firm tofu
  • 8oz Daiya mozzerella
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp parsley

Cook the stuffed shells according to the directions on the box.  While pasta is cooking mix tofu, daiya, garlic powder, basil and parsley in a large bowl.  Line a 9×13 baking pan with a small amount of tomato sauce.  Rinse cooked shells and stuff shells with tofu mixture and place in baking pan.  Top the shells with the remainder of the tomato sauce.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Marriage is hard work…the husband’s perspective.

Hi again everyone,  its Todd (Crystal’s less attractive other half).   A few weeks ago my wife wrote an amazing post on our marriage.  Usually I know what she’s writing and when she’s posting it.   This one, however, took me by surprise.   In my opinion, she pretty much nailed it.  Marriage can be hard.  Marriage can also be incredibly rewarding.  Ladies I’m hoping to give you an insight into the male mind.  Don’t be scared, many times there’s not much there.  Men, I’m challenging you to grow in your faith and hopefully point out a few verses that will help.

Our marriage has been a crazy road filled with highs and lows but I knew when I met Crystal in 1996 I knew that she was something special and in 1998 I proposed to her.  It’s been a long windy road full of mostly highs, but definitely our fair share of lows, ever since.

View of Newport Bridge from King Park

View of Newport Bridge from King Park

This is where I proposed to my wife to be.

Why I Think Marriage Is Hard Work For Women

Crystal will not agree with the things I am about to say one bit but my perspective is different.  I believe Crystal is a Proverbs 31 woman.  She believes she still has much to learn before that can be true but I say it is already true.  Striving to live this out is one of the reasons why I think women see marriage as hard work.   Crystal wasn’t always a Proverbs 31 woman, but fortunately for me she has sought God to MAKE her that way.  She seeks Him and he restores her and guides her to be the woman He wants her to be.  Let me show you what I mean by breaking down the qualities I see in her according to scripture.  I could use all of the verses from Proverbs 31 but I’ll highlight a just few of my favorites.

Proverbs 31:11 ‘Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value’   –  Only God himself gives me more than Crystal does on a daily basis.  I trust her with the lives of our children.  She homeschools them and I have no second thoughts on this AT ALL. 31:12 ‘She brings him good, not harm,  all the days of her life.’  – Crystal does everything in love.   (see 1 Corinthians 16:14, which strangely enough led me to write this post)  Crystal seeks to constantly improve herself and bring everyone in the family closer to God.  Proverbs 31:30 ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’   To me this is a command from God.  I often fall short on praising my wife, romancing her.  Sometimes I just have such a thick skull and I don’t get it and she’s left feeling like poop.  (Can I use the word poop on this blog?)  Oh well.

Why I Think Marriage Is Hard Work For Men

Don’t be discouraged ladies, and guys, don’t think you’re off the hook.  God doesn’t just call women to be Proverbs 31 women.  He also calls men to lead and clearly shows men what their responsibility is.  Any man that says Ephesians 5:25-33 is easy doesn’t really get it.  Christ died for the sin of the world because God LOVED the world.  Men we’re supposed to love our wives in that same way, with that much love, that much grace and that much forgiveness.  Whoa. Wait!! As a guy I like the Ephesians 5:22-24 verses and I think when Paul was writing this letter he should have just stopped there.  Wives submit to your husbands.  Sounds like a cushy life to me. But God wants more.  Sigh, there goes the cushy life.  Or does it? Maybe God and his infinite wisdom knows more than a dopey husband like myself.

The Message translation puts verse 25 this way: ‘Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.’

THIS IS HARD!!! Especially as a man. I’m supposed to love and submit to her as well? Submission means weakness doesn’t it? At least that’s how I think a lot of men think of it.  I’m less of a man if I submit aren’t I?  God says no,  just look at the words of the greatest man himself, Jesus.  John 15:13 ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’   Jesus submitted his life on the cross.  Weak? Hardly.  God expects a husband to love his wife that much? Where’s the towel to throw in? Where’s the bell to ring out?  How in the world am I supposed to match that?

For me this is where things often go south.  I’ve never really been good at the romantic stuff.   Want my latest lame excuse?  How can I love my wife as much as Christ loved the church? I think I can’t.  So if it can’t be elaborate and big and fancy and have a huge ‘wow’ factor it wouldn’t happen.   Leave her a little love note? Rub her feet just because? Let her know I’m thinking of her when we are apart?  What is that compared to how I really think of her?  So nothing would happen.  Guys,  this is where we need to step it up.  A little note,  flowers for no reason other than to say you’re thinking of her,  picking up your junk before she asks you.  Are these things hard to do? No? Are they hard for men to remember to do? YES!  Not because we don’t love our wives.  Not because we don’t want to make them feel good, but because our minds just don’t work that way.  We want to fix worldly problems! You’re sad? Let me DO something and make you happy? So ladies, give us some grace.  We’re wired differently.  Understand that if your husband wants to fix the problem its his way of showing you he cares.  Yes we know we can’t always fix it and we even know that on very rare occasions when there is a blue moon, we’re the real problem.

How Can We As Men Get Better?

Do I fall short on living up to Ephesians 5? YES!! Men, if you’re not serving and loving your wife the way God has called you I ask that you first starting seeking Him.   I need to do this daily and many days I still fall short.  Start by memorizing Ephesians 5:25.  Learn it in multiple translations.   Expand on it with the rest of Ephesians 5.  Then maybe hop over to 1 Corinthians 13.   The more you connect with God the deeper you can connect with your wife.  Marriage is hard, but when as a couple you’re working together and seeking God together things can be a whole lot easier.

Tell us about your marriage! Are there verses that you strive to live by?  Have you found something that works for you?  Have your tried other things and failed.  What inspires you and your love?  Leave a comment… we want to hear about it!


IRan from God

Hi everyone!! I’m Crystal’s husband, Todd.  Crystal was going to write a little post about my latest adventure to Washington DC to pray for Pastor Saeed Abendini,  but I asked if I could take the wheel and write it myself.  It may get long but here it goes.

This story could begin in various points in time, but I’ll start on February 22, 2009.  That day Clive Calver from Walnut Hill Church, visited  Hillside Community Church, where Crystal and I are members.  I’ll be 100% honest and say I don’t really remember why Clive came or the full meaning of his message.   I do remember Clive talked about his time in Iran.   About a crazy story about being in a car full of bibles and a guy randomly showing up looking for bibles.  Well, you could say randomly or you could say God-led.  I’d prefer the latter.  It was that night that God put a burden on my heart about Iran.

Iran had been in my prayers more and more and I often look up new on Iran and follow what’s going on, but that was the extent of any actual action for me.  I followed closely and prayed often for Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian who was imprisoned for trying to spread the Gospel, sentenced to death, but ultimately was released by the grace of God, many prayers and the hard work of people around the world.  From following that I came to know about Saeed Abendini.  Pastor Saeed is an Iranian American.  He is a citizen of the United States and a citizen of Iran. He and his family live in Boise, Idaho.   In July of 2012 Pastor Saeed was arrested.   The charges, even to this day are somewhat vague but the underlying charge is being a Christian.  That’s right, the man is in prison because of his beliefs in Jesus Christ.

Momentum in this shifted dramatically in late January when, after a thrown together trial with a lawyer who had no time with his client in front of the “hanging judge”, Pastor Saeed was sentenced to 8 years in Evin Prison.  Evin prison is one of the most horrific prisons in the entire world.  At the same time our current (and also a founding) pastor was beginning a series on being a fan or follower of Christ.   Are you a fan of the good times or are you willing to let go of your whole life and live for Jesus.  This is where that message, my prayers on Iran, the foundations of the church I’m in, and Pastor Saeed all came crashing together.  Reverend Patrick Mahoney is one of the founding ministers of Hillside Community Church.  He comes back often and I follow him on Facebook.  Pat began posting about Pastor Saeed and came up with an idea to hold a prayer vigil in front of the White House.   Facebook is powerful and momentum for this began to build.    I began to pray more fervently for Pastor Saeed and for all Christians in Iran.  That’s when once again I felt God this time telling me I needed to go to Washington DC for this prayer vigil.

Now let me give a time-frame here.  This is on Monday NIGHT, February 4th.  The prayer vigil is on Wednesday, February 6th.  So I started poking around.  How am I going to get there?  Its about a 7 or 8  hour drive.  No, that’s too long given when I could leave and when I had to be home.  How much is a flight on 2 days notice? $1200? YIKES!! I don’t have that kind of cash to spare at all.  How about those airline miles I’ve been accumulating since 1995 (no joke).  How about $105 plus only 1/2 the miles I have in my account.  I could leave and be home in the same day.   I approached Crystal with it and while she thought I was an absolute lunatic, she agreed to let me go.  Tuesday when I got to work I booked my flight.  The rest of that day is also kind of a blur.  I focused as best I could on work but it was hard to take my mind of what lay ahead the next day.

I can’t believe I actually slept but I did and woke up at 4:20 am and showered grabbed the small backpack I had packed, kissed Crystal good-bye and headed out to catch my flight.  I have never been to Washington, DC so this was going to be all new to me.  I couldn’t believe I was doing this.   I couldn’t also understand WHY I was doing it.   Why did God want me there? I’m only 1 more person praying.  I could pray from home.  Yeah, that would work.  SMACK.  I’ve run long enough.  Time to take some action.   I arrived early in DC and decided to spend some time on the National Mall praying.


Just before 11:00 I met up with Reverend Mahoney in front of the White House.  He was all fired up as usual and so was I.  He explained the whole situation like he had gone through it a few dozen times before.  Oh wait, that’s because he has been arrested at the White House probably at least a dozen times.  Anyway, the plan was to tie 3 people including himself, to the White House fence.  Once that was done he’d get three warning and off to jail they’d go.  The secret service, park service police, and capitol police were already on hand as Rev. Mahoney had this planned out already.  We walked over to the side walked and snapped a few pictures before our time of prayer.  My first trip to DC was sure going to be one I’d never forget.


Here’s me in front of the White House in support of Pastor Saeed.


Our small group of prayer warriors (minus Rev Mahoney who took the picture)

What struck me the most immediately was there were very few people who could actually come to the event.  Many people were praying around the world at the given time I know, but I was glad to have been able to attend in person.  We knelt down on the sidewalk and prayed.  Prayed for Pastor Saeed, prayed for President Obama to take notice,  prayed for Secretary of State John Kerry to take notice, prayed for action, prayed for Saeed’s family, prayed for the prison guards.  All things each one of us had most certainly done before.   I then took out green ribbon and tied Reverend Mahoney to the White House fence.  Its the first time I’ve been on the not so good side of a yellow police line.


After walking out of the police line Rev. Mahoney continued to pray.  The park police officer gave the required 3 warning and then the 3 people tied to the fence were arrested.  Each morning the president receives a list of those who were arrested on the grounds of the White House and why.   Reverend Mahoney’s actions were very specific and deliberate and we still hope they will bring action.


Once Rev. Mahoney was whisked away I decided to browse the city a little bit as my flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10:00pm.  As I was walking away from the White House I noticed the capitol police officer who not so subtly followed me a few blocks.  Presumably to make sure I wasn’t going to cause any trouble.  I managed to keep out of trouble and for a quick minute even joined another peaceful protest this one in front of the Supreme Court.storyboard-817

Pro-life protesters outside the Supreme Court

I then took the metro back to Reagan National Airport where I managed to get on a earlier flight!! So instead of getting home just before midnight I was going to get home in time to tuck my kids into bed.  Something Pastor Saeed I’m sure has longed to do for many many months.  The fight for Saeed is not over.  Its far from it.  People around the world are joining in to petition the United Nations to take action.  Make your voice heard and please sign the petition.  It takes less than 2 minutes!  Please, let’s get this man back home to America with his wife and 2 children!


It was an amazing day.  God is so good and I am so blessed.  I don’t know what’s next.  My picture and me flying to DC generated a LOT more attention then I ever expected.  It made me a little uneasy at first.  This isn’t about me.  This is about Pastor Saeed.  Even bigger than that though its about an amazing and wonderful and loving God that wants to bless his children and wants His children to know him in deeper and more powerful ways.  Knowing Him comes often though obeying Him.

I spent a large amount of my day reading.  Reading a book I purchased on February 22, 2009 but never read more than 5 pages of.  A book by Clive and Gavin Calver.  Its titled “On the Front Line”  It talks what it really means to live your whole life FOR Jesus.  Quite fitting because I’m done running.