In Support of Unintentional Parenting

Being intentional as a parent is huge these days, but I think some of the best parenting is done unintentionally. Today is Father’s Day so I want to say thank you to my dad for everything he taught me unintentionally.

My dad didn’t intentionally teach me to be passionate about life. He simply always has been a passionate man. Maybe it was his passing fancies of boating, snowmobiling, disco, or sci-fi. Or more importantly, his long standing passion for God, my mom, our family, and our local church. It was – is – just who he is. There was never a moment when my dad took ten weeks of family worship to teach us about these things. He never read us biographies of people who did amazing things for God. He just doesn’t have a passive, neutral bone in his body, and that has been naturally compelling.

My dad didn’t intentionally teach me how to think and communicate what I was thinking. He just doesn’t know how to do small talk. He loves to ask deep and probing questions. He wouldn’t sit down with his planner on Sunday evening and think through important conversations to have with us kids. He just naturally wanted to know what we thought about different things. He never thought we were too stupid to wrestle through difficult doctrines (even one she was wrestling through) or debate about family rules. My dad is great thinker. He asks questions. He listens to our answers. He isn’t being intentional. He is being himself.

My dad didn’t intentionally look for evidences of grace in my life. He simply sees me through rose colored glasses. He would deny this. My dad sees me like no one else sees me. He is genuinely proud of the woman I’ve become. He thinks I’m a great mom. He thinks I am so talented. He has always thought I was beautiful… Simply stunned that anyone would have viewed me as awkward as a child! He has no idea that in viewing me this way he has been the very grace of God to me. He has balanced the yuck that I see oh so clearly with the commendations of a loving father who sees grace more than sin. Victory more than failure.

As far as I know, my dad never read a parenting book. I’m sure my mom read plenty and filled him in on the basic principles. What my dad did well was live authentically. (Yes, just as buzz-wordy as being intentional, but I don’t know how else to put it!) He did, accidentally, what a thousand parenting books could never teach. He passed on a passionate love for God and others. He taught how to think deeply about things that matter, and to love to communicate about these things. He taught that grace truly loves and enjoys people whether or not they perform well.

Thank you dad, for unintentionally being the best dad I know. No exaggeration. I love you and will always thank God for His profound blessing on my life in having you as a dad.

Happy Father’s Day!

Margaret Olivia Reyes, 11 years old

ImageOkay, interviewing maggie was way easier than interviewing Josh. She is an open book, and asked me if it was her turn. :)

Nicknames: maggie, maggs, maggsauce, magpie

Favorite music: Indy, like the brothers. Bands like Civil Wars, Need to Breathe. Broadway music, thanks to my mom.

Favorite movies, television shows: The Avengers, Hunger Games (but I love the books more), Alice in Wonderland (the Jonny Depp version). Favorite TV shows are Psych and Adventure Time.

Favorite Books: Besides the Bible (um, good girl), The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Series of Unfortunate Events

Favorite color: Teal (she’s pretty much obsessed)

Favorite type of clothing: Skirts, dresses, skinny jeans. Accessories like earrings, bracelets, and my boots.

Favorite foods: popcorn (all the way), cheese. And my favorite restaurant is Panera Bread and I always order an Asiago Cheese Bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese. I was really upset that they discontinued the sun-dried tomato cream cheese, but my mom figured out how to make it at home, so all is fine again.

Hobbies: singing, ballet, acting in plays

Dreams in life: to be on Broadway or become famous, either one.

Where would you like to live? Ireland. Why? because it’s so pretty there. and their accents are cool.

What is your favorite thing about your life right now? that we moved closer to our family in MD. That I have a lot of good friends. That I got to be in Annie last summer, and got a main part in our homeschool Christmas musical. 

What is the hardest thing about your life? how mean girls can be. not being lazy about school and other stuff. 

What types of things do you write in your journal at night? prayers, just about the day, how I felt about things that happened.

Who do you respect and admire? Mom (awww), Sierra, and Heather Paton. Grammy and Abuela too.

Are there any other things besides being a famous broadway singer/actor that you’d like to do when you grow up? I want to adopt a kid. Interior designer. clothing designer. 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d be skinnier.

Other things about Maggie: She loves wolves, has a stuffed animal named Porkers, a pig. She has to sleep with him every night along with her ugly doll pillow. Her personality is outgoing, but not obnoxiously so. She loves to write music with her friend, Kristina (she’s written about 20 songs). She recently discovered that despite loving the theater, she gets stage fright. She is a night owl, and loves to sleep in late (totally opposite from her mother). She loves planning events.  She loves to make cards and is really thoughtful about this. 



Joshua Thomas Reyes, 15 years old.

My sons found out their friends actually read my blog so that changes the nature of what I can post without totally embarrassing them. When I told them it was just a bunch of mammas reading, they were more okay with me writing about our life, but since their buddies are also reading, I’m really limited in what I can say. This could have been way more interesting!

Current Nicknames: Josh, Jukey, Joopy, Jonny

Favorite color: green

Favorite food(s): salt and vinegar potato chips, reuben sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches

Favorite sweet(s): red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing

Favorite type of music: Indy bands such as Lumineers, Young the Giant, Two Door Cinema Club, Mumford and Sons

Favorite hobbies: basketball, drumming, soccer (sports in general)

Favorite subject in school: Math

What could you see yourself doing for a job? no idea, maybe engineering or accounting

How would you describe your personality? outgoing and shy at the same time. I’m outgoing when it’s just me and one or two other people,  but in a big group I’m pretty quiet.

What do you like most about your life right now? Playing basketball with the Falcons, and my social life (I have great friends).

What do you like least about your life right now? School

Who’s your favorite parent? Do I have to answer that? :)


Quick Re-introduction

19756_1339922505080_1441696425_30933487_6252576_nAs I begin writing about this season of having 3 teens and a tween, I want to begin with  a few basics about our family today.

1.  My sons, Joshua and Caleb are 15. Israel is 14. And my baby girl, Maggie, is 11 years old!

2. We live in Mount Laurel, NJ. I never dreamed I’d live in NJ, but I have to say I absolutely love it. We have Philadelphia just 15 minutes away, the beach 1 hour away, NYC 1 hour away, and our family is just 1.5 hours away. It really is a perfect location for us! And I’m even learning to drive around here, which isn’t easy, trust me!

3. Jason is an associate pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Marlton, NJ. He is loving his job, his fellow pastors, and the church. In fact, we all love the church here. My children are blessed to be part of a really great youth group. They have more social opportunities than I even thought possible. It’s a wonderful and busy church community, and we love it.

4.  We are homeschooling again after taking a year off two years ago while the kids enjoyed New Covenant Christian School. We have a really good co-op here at church, so the kids are able to take classes from others who are way more equipped to teach them at the high school level. The twins are in 10th grade, Israel is in 9th grade, and Maggie is in 6th grade.

5.  The men-folk in our family are still into sports. All three boys love soccer. Joshua is mildly obsessed with basketball. Izzy is playing basketball too, this season. Caleb is going to try snowboarding for the first time this winter, heaven help us…I feel a trip to the ER is in my future. Maggie is interested in theater. She is a good little singer, like her cousin Sierra. She played Tessie in Annie last summer, and this Friday night she will be in the homeschool Christmas Musical at church.

6. The kids are still playing their instruments. Caleb plays guitar, Josh plays drums, Izzy plays bass but isn’t as into it these days. Maggie could be their lead singer, but they think that would be too cheesy. We will see what happens as they get older. :)

If the kids will agree to it, I want to interview each of them individually so I’ll have a record of what they were like at this age when I look back ten more years down the road!

Three Teens and a Tween


My twins as little guys – 10 years old. This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of them!

I started this blog several years ago kind of on a whim. I discovered the whole “blog world” accidentally, and was thrilled to find there was this semi-formal way to publish my writing. I have always enjoyed writing and the combination of my crazy experience with my four very funny and cute kids, and learning so much about life and God I was thrilled to find an outlet to publish. The fact that others actually read and commented was such a motivator to continue! When you’re home all day with young’uns, having a grown up comment on your blog post was social gold!

I am so glad I blogged while my kids were younger. I love to go back through my old posts and find “quotable kiddo” moments that would have been lost forever if I hadn’t written them down. I am so glad I wrote about what my life was like during that really intense season of having young kids close in age, and learning how to homeschool. I love looking back and reading about how God guided me through everything from insomnia, legalism, and comparing with others to various recipes and homemaking ventures that appealed to me during those years. There’s something about writing through the nitty gritty’s of life that helps me cherish that time more, and helps me remember the struggles my younger mom friends may be experiencing.

This brings me to the real point of this post. My kids are older now. I have three teenage boys and a preteen girl. My life isn’t slowing down, it’s speeding up. My kids are just as cute and funny as ever. And they drive me just as crazy to the Savior more than ever. I’m loving this season of having teens. I’m way in over my head…that is the theme of this blog, really, isn’t it?! But I’m learning more lessons about life and about God. I want to quote my funny teenagers. I want to remember the moments of real life this season brings: still insomnia, still comparing, still legalism….just different reasons and venues. I want to share the recipes (food is a huge theme during the teen years), and the home making things that are working (or not working). I’m in my car all of the time driving them here and there. I have the freedom to leave the house (even when they’re at home), so it’s hard to find time to sit and write. But I really, really want to.

There are dozens and dozens of mommy blogs out there, but there aren’t many mom-of-teen blogs out there.  I think I might start one. Or continue this one with that emphasis.

As I type, two of my boys are reading over my shoulder. They are in a bit of a panic over what I might write. I assured them I wouldn’t publish anything personal that they hadn’t approved first. It’s gonna be tricky, but I really want to be able to look back at this craziest-season-yet with my children and read through what they were saying and doing, and what God was saying and doing…because I know more than ever that very soon, it’s going to end!

Baked Apples With Oatmeal Streusel Topping

We (well, not actually me, but I was in the room reading while they) watched our first football game last night, which has become an indicator that the autumnal season is fast approaching.I love autumn for the beauty of the leaves, sweaters and blue jeans, and all things apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, and spice.

I found this recipe on Pinterest over the summer and tried it the other day. It’s easy, and it’s delicious.

1. Slice 3-4 apples in half with a large knife, then scoop out the seeds and stem parts with a melon baller.

2. Mix together:
a little over half stick/quarter cup melted butter or margarine or fat of your choice
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of salt

3. Fill and top apple halves with the mixture.

4. Bake at 350 F/180 C until tops are golden brown and apples swell, about 30 minutes.

(Courtesy: Cooking Outside the Box)

My Friend, Anxiety

I woke at 4am with my friend anxiety speeding up my heart rate and making me sweat before my mind could even process what she was saying. School. First day of school. First day of what will be a loooong year of feeling the weight of responsibility for the mental, physical, emotional, spiritual well-being of my kids, and feeling that weight 24/7. I’m not ready for this. I’ve done the planning. It’s going to be a really easy day academically speaking. But I’m not ready for the battle that started before I was even aware it was happening.

This is why I call anxiety my friend. Because when I feel my heart racing and my palms sweating and my thoughts swirling out of control I have a very physical reminder that I need God. I am actually living in reality for a minute: this is life if you think you can do it on your own. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

But with God all things are possible, so I let my friend anxiety take me to Jesus. I begin my school year with this one day. I don’t have tomorrow or all of the other days yet. I just have today. And today I read Psalm 50. Today I read that God wants me to offer a sacrifice of Thanksgiving (for school, for my children, for the things that keep me on my knees even though I don’t like them), call upon Him in the day of trouble (and today will have trouble because this is a broken world, with a broken mom and children trying to do life together in very close proximity), and He will deliver me (because I am in Christ which means though sin remains, there is grace more powerful to cover and enable me and my children to do life together today), and I will glorify Him (because I know that when I fail, He forgives; and when I succeed, He has enabled). (verses 14, 15)

I really do hope someday to have faith great enough that anxiety is no longer my “friend”. Oh how I long to wake up with thoughts of God’s greatness, not my inadequacy. Until that day happens, I want to remember that racing heart and racing thoughts mean I need to race to Jesus and set my hope on Him.