A Delicious Easter Feast

the best recipes for Easter dinner at happyhomefairy.comI keep turning around and being surprised by how fast the weeks are flying.

Happy Buddy said to me on Sunday that next week was Palm Sunday and I was like, “That’s ridiculous, no it’s not.”

And sure enough – it is.

The Easter season is here!  I have a BIG printable for you that I am hopefully going to get to work on this weekend if I give my kids a bag of pretzels and put them in a cage.

But today I have been thinking about some of the yummy recipes I have on this site and I wanted to share what, in my humble opinion, would be the perfect Easter feast – a delicious combination of flavors that is sure to make everyone’s tummies sing right along with their mouths after belting, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” at church.

honeybaked ham

Image Source – HoneyBaked.com

First, buy a ham from Honeybaked.  You’re welcome.

potato casserole at happyhomefairy.com - perfect dish for potlucks - never any leftovers and SO easy!!!Next, make THIS amazing potato casserole.

the best salad EVER.jpgThen make THIS salad (it is my most-requested, most popular recipe EVER).

The-BEST-Banana-BreadBake a batch of banana bread – (you can find this recipe at chef-in-training).

IMG_0329Serve up a side of THIS applesauce Jell-O.

lemon bars2And for dessert, enjoy THESE lemon cheese bars.

I promise that everyone will be in hog heaven (quite literally, if you are eating ham).

I’d love to know if you plan to use any of these recipes with your families this year!  Feel free to leave a comment below or drop me an email.  It always warms my heart to know how this site is helping you build a happy home – and stomach, for that matter.

Happy Easter Feast-ing! :-)

The Grace Response

The Grace Response - learning to respond to our people in love instead of anger.One day last year when I picked up the Happy Buddy from school he immediately burst into tears.

He informed me that he had not gotten a sticker that day because he had been caught eating mulch on the playground with another boy.

Another day when he climbed into the car after church he confessed tearfully that he had been given a time out during Sunday School because he was goofing around during the Bible story.

Then there was the time we got our seat belts on and he let me know that he had gotten a ‘little wild’ at the end of the school day and had to walk laps during recess.

And I can’t forget the time he informed me that he had kicked another boy where it counts (shall we say) and then lied about it to his teacher.

Most mornings before my children are released from my care into the hands of another, I try to remind them that they are little ambassadors for Christ as well as representatives of our family and that it is important for them to do good, respect well, obey quickly, and listen attentively.

I will even often pray a blessing over them before they race to their respective classrooms.

So you can imagine that when my child comes home from school and tells me the stories of failed attempts to listen, obey, and be respectful – my flesh gets a teeny tiny bit mad.

Probably because I know the depths of wickedness in my own heart and how easy it is to fall into the trap of judging another mama based on her child’s behavior.

My kid was making me look bad.

(As I typed that sentence I felt my computer giving me a disgusted look.)

Truth is, my anger is linked to my own pride and sinful desire to have people think I am perfect and can produce obedient, excellent children.

So when I get angry at my kids after they confess their sins to me, I am really just reflecting ME and my selfishness instead of the sweet grace He tenderly, patiently, and lovingly extends to us every. single. day.

God has been working on me in this area.

He has helped me to see a few things more clearly – the first being the precious gift that it is to have a son who doesn’t want to keep secrets.

Because if I want to encourage my child to be a TRUTH SEEKER – to not be content in the withholding of his wrongdoings – to openly confess and experience the freedom of a life lived in truth-soaked light, then I have to get better at responding with grace.

And God KNOWS I want my boy to be able to confess his struggles to me as a teenager so if I am putting him down, punishing him, and making him feel bad now in his openness – it’s looking pretty certain that he won’t trust me with that info in the future.

What does the ‘grace response’ look like, then?

When Happy Buddy gets in the car and rattles off his behavior, instead of scary eye-balling him in the rearview mirror and saying things like, “How could you do that?!” or “That was a horrible choice!” or “No dessert for you tonight, young man!” or “You know better than that!”

I listen quietly and then carefully and gently ask questions.

“What made you think mulch would taste good?” (I admit, we got a good laugh out of this one.)

“Why was it hard for you to sit through the Bible story?”

“Why did you feel you had to lie to your teacher?”

“Would you want someone to kick you in the jimmy?”

Asking questions helps us reflect a little more on the poor choice so that hopefully in the future he will be a bit more discerning and a bit less impulsive.

And then I get the opportunity to say, “Thank you, son, for sharing this with me.  Nothing you  do will make me love you less.  You are a precious boy.  Now let’s pray and ask God to help you make a better choice next time.”

This same response works in our marriages too.

I remember one time the hubs and I were at a busy store with the boys and he motioned to the woman in front of us wearing some incredibly form-fitting work out pants.  He whispered to me, “Let’s walk a little faster so we can get past this woman.  It’s hard to not be tempted to look.”

As a woman who struggles with weight and body issues and the general feeling that I will never be pretty enough (again, all about me), I can take his honest, precious plea as an opportunity to get angry.

I could say things like, “Why can’t you control yourself better?” or “Why am I not enough for you?!” or “Are you saying I am FAT?!”

But if I want him to remain in open communication with me and help him feel affirmed in his honorable desire to be pure, then I have to respond as Jesus would.

“Thank you for sharing that with me, my love.  You are a good man.”

And then I may or may not have grabbed his hand and bolted so fast out of that store you would have thought there was a fire.

How do you respond when your husband confesses that he spent too much money this month?  Or when he calls to say he won’t be home for dinner?  Or when he realizes that he forgot to get the one thing you asked him to go to the store for?

The grace response consists of 2 things – the first is that it recognizes that YOU are a sinner ALSO in need of a Savior.

The second is that God is loving, forgiving, compassionate, kind, and good to YOU, so now you get the opportunity EVERY DAY to be a reflection of Him to your people.

Which will hopefully spread to the world and inspire less irrational kicking where it counts, less judging other mamas, deeper, richer relationships with our children and spouses, glory to God, and more grace, grace, grace.

A few Sundays ago we sang this line, “Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.”

I like the sound of that.

– Julie :-)

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Simple RAOKs You Can Do While Driving

We live reeeeally far from our work/church/school, so we spend a LOT of time on the road.

I was recently trying to take inventory of the ways I am working to teach my children about kindness and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of the kind things we are actively doing each day happen in the car.

This is good because #1 – The children are physically contained and are mostly an attentive audience (because you can only play the license plate game so long, yah know?), #2 – The children are learning how to love and serve others as Jesus did, and #3 – I am not spending a lot of extra money or going on any extra outings that require a lot of forethought and supplies (ie. that time I tried to do 30 RAOKS for my 30th birthday and ended up stopping after 7 because I was so overwhelmed and broke – lol!).

The ideas I am about to share are great because they work quite naturally into the life you are already living!  It will be easy for you to add these simple RAOKs (Random Acts of Kindness) into your family’s daily adventures.

My personal favorite thing to do while driving is look for cars that are trying to move into my lane.  I LOVE seeing someone’s blinker on because it is an opportunity for me to wave them in front of me so that they can get where they need to go.  I talk to my kids about being a thoughtful driver who pays attention to the needs of others on the road.  We can get so focused on getting where WE are going that we forget to have an attitude of a servant – quiet, humble, and in search of ways to be make someone else’s life better.

This kind of calling on our lives does not have to get in the backseat once we get behind the wheel. :-)

So I made a little FREE Printable featuring 9 easy RAOKs to do while driving for you to print and then leave somewhere safe on your dashboard as a reminder to bless others as well as inspire your kids to do the same.

car RAKS

Happy RAOK-ing While Driving! :-)

Funny Bridal Shower Game

hilarious bridal shower game - Who Has the Groom at happyhomefairy.com

It’s official!

As of Saturday at around 2:50 pm, I got a new sister!

More on that to come (I hope), but today I wanted to share with you a silly little game I put together for the shower we held for the bride a few weeks ago.

I searched on Pinterest for ideas and this one was so much fun, I had to make it happen.

hilarious bridal shower game, Who Has the Groomhilarious bridal shower game - Who Has the Groom

How to Play Who Has the Groom

  • First, go to Wedding Chicks for a FREE Printable groom template.
  • Print several and cut out.
  • Then print out several male celebrity heads (I got mine from Googling ‘male celebrities’, but you could also purchase a magazine and use those photos instead).  Cut out and paste to the groom template.
  • Print a photo of the groom’s head (in this case, my little bro!) and add to a groom template.
  • Put all of the cards into separate envelopes.
  • When guests arrive, hand them an envelope with instructions not to open until you give the green light.
  • At an appropriate time during the shower, have guests one by one open their envelopes and show which celebrity they received.
  • The woman who opens the envelope with the groom’s photo is the winner!

I tried to tailor the game to my new sister’s likes – she is a big fan of Star Wars and Pride and Prejudice.

I also added in a few funny faces like Grumpy Cat, Abraham Lincoln, Bart Simpson and baby Prince George.

This game takes a small bit of time to put together, but the end result and laughs will definitely be worth it.

Who Has the Groom? will be the perfect Ice Breaker for your next celebration of a bride-to-be!

Happy Who Has the Groom-ing! :-)

Easy, Cheap, and Fun Ideas for Spring Break

My little brother is getting married this weekend!

Things have been kind of crazy around here.

My parents came into town Wednesday night and we ran out to Macy’s with my soon-to-be sister to find her a dress for the rehearsal dinner.

We were also looking for a pair of sparkly silver shoes to wear with my bridesmaid dress but instead I found a pair of leopard print high heels that I posted about HERE on Instagram.  I may or may not plan to wear them to bed tonight (and every subsequent hour thereafter) I love them so much.

Next week happens to be Spring Break in our neck of the world, so I spent a little time dreaming up a few ways my boys and I could have some easy and free fun during our time off.

spring break ideas - easy, cheap, fun!

Do you think a person can play kickball in heels?

;-)

Happy Spring Break-ing! :-)

Why I Watch TV With My Kids and a GIVEAWAY!!

why I watch tv WITH my kids at happyhomefairy.comSome of the best conversations about life that I have had with my kids have come from a 30 minute session in front of the Tube.

As easy as it is sometimes to use the television as a babysitter to keep my kids from wrecking the house or asking me to hold them while I am molding a meatloaf with my bare hands, I occasionally will sit down and watch a program or 2 snuggled up next to their adorable little selves.

I do this for a few reasons…

#1 – It gives me a window into the kind of media that is available these days.  There have been many-a-show that we have stopped watching or turned off because I took the time to watch the material that was being poured into my kids’ young and impressionable minds.

Just because it is in the ‘Kids’ section of Netflix doesn’t necessarily mean it is appropriate or helpful for a kid.

There was a particular show that my children liked to watch a lot and the main character was kind of a whiner.  Because I had watched the show several times already with my boys I soon began recognizing that same character’s whining voice creeping into their little voices (1 Corinthians 15:33) and so I was able to quickly put an end to it.

#2 – TV shows are great starting points for discussions about behavior.  Like most mamas, I want my children to develop a keen sense of discernment.  I want them to be able to identify things like respect, obedience, kindness, responsibility, etc.  So when a TV character looks at her mom and haughtily argues about going to bed, I’ll casually say, “Do you think she is respecting her mommy right now?” and then, “What would have been the better, obedient response?”

When we stopped watching that cartoon with the whiney kid, I didn’t just say, “You aren’t allowed to watch that anymore.  It’s bad.”  I watched it with them and said, “Do you hear how he is complaining?  What does the Bible say about complaining?” (Philippians 2:14)  Then I gently guided them to the understanding that exposing our hearts to stuff that doesn’t help us look more like Jesus is not the most productive use of time.

Which is why I like Veggie Tales so much (and which brings us to the purpose of today’s post!).

Veggie Tales is known for producing wholesome, funny, creative programs that help kids know God and His Word better, so when I received an email a few weeks ago asking if I might be interested in reviewing the latest Veggie Tales movie called Noah’s Ark (starring the voice of Wayne Brady – the Let’s Make a Deal show host and comedian from Who’s Line Is It Anyway?), my response went something like this:

“YES.”

The hubs grilled some salmon for us last night and we gathered around the coffee table in the living room to watch our new flick.

It did not disappoint.

Within the first 5 minutes of the show I already had the catchy opening number stuck in my head (still is as I type this 3 hours later – ha!) and the boys were completely captivated and full of giggles as the plot unfolded.

The story focuses on Noah’s son, Shem, who spends a good portion of the movie doubting his father’s faith to build a huge ark (equipped with water slides and air hockey tables on deck).  As the rains come and the challenges mount (ie. animal poo – I mean, seriously, can you even imagine the smell?!), Shem’s eyes are opened to the importance of trusting God.

The best line in the show was when the skies first darkened, the wind began to blow, and the rain started to pour.  Shem completely freaked out, but Noah quietly and confidently reminded him,

“This is what God prepared us for.”

I guess that is kind of like motherhood and life and my desire to watch TV with my kids.

As I sit with them and we discuss the things we see, I pray that those little seeds being planted will prepare them for whatever might come there way.

Hopefully my children’s futures won’t include a giant, angry squid (you’ll have to watch the show for yourself – wink!), but we faithfully and ceaselessly train and teach and help them discern the world around them so that they are ready, by God’s grace, to survive anything.

Like Noah.

And a bunch of funny vegetables.

veggie tales 2veggie tales 1veggie tales 3Guess what?!  I was given an EXTRA copy of the brand new Veggie Tales Noah’s Ark movie to share with one of my sweet readers!

Do YOU want to watch it with YOUR kids?

Simply leave a comment below and tell me why you want your family to enjoy Bob and Larry, a big boat that looks like an orange slice, a great soundtrack, and a message of God’s faithfulness.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (apologies to my wonderful international readers).  The giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 1 (EST).  A winner will be selected shortly after – actually, I will be asleep then, so I will just email you sometime the next day :-).

– Julie

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22

*I was given this product at no cost in exchange for a review.  All opinions are 100% mine.*

Will You Lent With Me?

LENT

Based on the photo above I would imagine that some of you are wondering if I converted to Catholicism. :-)

To answer your question – no.  The hubs is a pastor at a PCA church and after many years of in depth study about church history, he came to the conclusion that recognizing the Lent season (beginning with Ash Wednesday) is a beautiful part of the Christian church’s story.

As a result of his careful study, our little church celebrated Ash Wednesday this year by holding a few worship services where we were able to receive the ‘imposition of ashes’ on our foreheads – a symbol and reminder of our sins and His great sacrifice, inspired by the verse,

“You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” Ecclesiastes 3:20.

We are but dust without His breath of life.

Under this humbling truth (plastered right on our foreheads – our very minds, so to speak) we are then able to rejoice because even though our bodies will return to dust one day, our souls get to be in eternity with Him forever – all thanks and praise to the work He did on the cross (Easter!).

I so long to be a person of the cross.  I want others to know without a shadow of doubt Who I love most.

When the hubs and I picked up the boys from school, Happy Baby took one look at his daddy’s forehead and said, “WHY YOU HAVE DAT?”

And as I explained this season to my boys, I thought maybe my sweet blog readers would benefit from it as well.

One of my favorite things about Lent is that we are called to remember the 40 days that Jesus was led into the wilderness to be with God, to be tested, and to fast (Matthew 4:1-11).

Wait, did you catch that?

He did not eat for 40 DAYS.

Sometimes I can’t even skip a snack without getting grumpy!

Jesus denied himself some incredibly basic needs in order to humbly submit Himself to His Father.  His willingness to surrender EVERYTHING is so beautiful and inspiring and makes me keenly aware of the 100 million times a day I hold on to worthless idols (fear, insecurity, jealousy, pride, being judgmental, wanting to be in control of everything, Hobby Lobby, how many Facebook ‘likes’ I have) and cling to my earthly comforts (my hair iron, dark chocolate – ahem).

I told Happy Buddy that it was as if Jesus wanted to declare to His Father that He loved Him even more than food (Job 23:12).

Try getting a child to understand that when he has a chocolate chip cookie sitting in front of him.

Try getting ME to understand that when standing at the entrance of a Target (more like emotional food, I guess – ha!).

This year the hubs and I have been prayerfully considering what we might ‘fast’ from in order to make ourselves more like Christ this season.

I thought about fasting from laundry, dishes, and making lunches every day, but I guess that’s not really the point. :-)

Although Happy Buddy informed me today that he wanted to give up wearing clothes for Lent so our fasts would compliment one another rather nicely.

Are you giving something up for Lent?

I wanted to encourage you today to think and pray about it.

When I was explaining this to my boys, I tried to help them understand that the item you choose to fast from should be something that is important to you and involve a bit of sacrifice.  It should draw you to Jesus every time your flesh wants to have the item, eat the item, use the item, etc.  It should daily make you aware of the depth of your need for Him.

Happy Baby announced that he wanted to give up his minion toy and I knew that God was inspiring his little heart.

Happy Buddy on the other hand is still thinking about this (after I squashed his no-clothes scheme) and is convinced that giving up vegetables is a worthy Lenten fast.

Pray for him. :-)

I wanted to share with you an incredible resource Ann Voskamp is sharing at A Holy Experience – 40 days of printable prayer cards you can use on your Lenten journey – find them HERE.

I just printed mine and am planning to use them.

In this world that seems to be ever-increasing in evil and darkness, we must cling to the light.  We must embrace and walk in it.  Humbly, obediently, and fully surrendered.

So, dear readers, will you Lent with me?

– Julie

“I love you, Lord, my strength.” Psalm 18:1