Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before Public School:

IMG_1657I just picked up the kiddos from their last day of school before Christmas. We have a few fun days planned over the next couple weeks and they are happy to sleep in and binge Netflix on the other days. Before the vacation mode gets underway, though, I wanted to take a moment to express some thoughts one semester into the public school experience.
Like a lot of people who have only had experience in Private/Christian and Homeschool education, I was somewhat apprehensive to place our oldest two in the local public school system. I had heard the horror stories from every Christian education proponent and homeschool queen bee and was concerned about entrusting my two treasures to a place where the end result of their character couldn’t be assured. Turns out, I was worrying based on fallible information. My fears surely would’ve been relieved if someone had pulled me aside and told me the following:

  1. Your kids will have loving, highly-qualified teachers.
  2. Your kids will meet and make friends of all races, economic statuses, and beliefs.
  3. The school leadership will welcome your input and act on it to make things better.
  4. The public school actually isn’t inherently evil, substandard, or inferior to other forms of education. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Teachers are at the cutting edge of education and technology, and curriculum is progressing constantly to be sure that kids learn how to survive in a rapidly changing world.
  5. Your kids will be offered extra-circulars like learning Spanish, learning music, etc. as young as five years old.
  6. Your kids will enjoy world-class facilities that provide the highest versions of safety and technology.
  7. Your kids’ teachers will take a personal interest in your kids and develop a plan to help them succeed in areas where they are found lacking.

We have Christian schools in our area, but they either have low academic standards, facilities in ruin, or just a lack of ability to offer the well-rounded education that the public system can. Now that I have learned these things for myself, I wanted to pass them along to the parents who haven’t reached this place in their journey yet. I am aware that not all schools are the same and that we landed in a good situation, but let me encourage you to live from faith instead of fear and to do what is best for your kids regardless of outside pressure. We are especially grateful to God this Christmas for Central Elementary, the faculty, the PTA, and all the Panther Cub community.

Skillet S’mores


Some have been asking about this simple recipe, so I thought I would throw it up here.

You need:

Enough walnuts (or your favorite nut) to cover the bottom of the skillet.

Enough butter to cover the nuts when heated

Chocolate chips


Graham crackers



On your stovetop, heat butter in a cast iron skillet. Place nuts in the skillet and toss in the butter. Let heat. Once you start to smell the nuts cooking, add chocolate chips and marshmallows. Move to oven under the broiler for 40 seconds or until marshmallows are golden brown.

Smoked Turkey

DSC00346I smoked a turkey for Christmas Dinner and it really turned out amazing. For a moment, forget all you have heard about brining, injecting, rubbing, etc. I just used canola oil, salt and pepper. That’s really all you need – the smoke provides plenty of flavor. It was juicy and smokey. Wanna try it? Here’s how I did it:


One 15lb Turkey
Canola Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper


Set smoker to 350 degrees. (I use a Big Green Egg – the best home smoker available in my opinion)
Add your favorite wood. (I used apple)
Wash and dry turkey and rub with canola and s+p.
Place in the smoker and cook until internal temp is 165 in the breast.
Remove and let rest under foil for 30 minute – 1 hour.

Ten Years Ago, Today

Us at Coke MuseumAfter Christmas, 2003, I sat in the office in my parents’ home and listened, receiver pressed to my ear, as the phone rang on the other end. I was nervous to say the least. This girl had never seen or heard of me. I was calling her out of the blue on the day after christmas because a mutual friend said I should. This is STUPID, I am hanging up…”Hello? Oh, hi…my name is Josh….”

We would date, long-distance, for 1½ years before we were married in June 2005. I am not sure where I would be today without her. If I had hung up, what would, or wouldn’t have happened? That girl and I would talk every single day since that night…including this morning at breakfast as she tried to corral our four littles.

The lesson is this: If you are apprehensive about a decision, relational or not, be willing to risk rejection and hurt. Sometimes one phone call can change your life forever! It did for me. I love you, Amy.

Us Vacation Va Beach - Version 2

Why We Love Christmas

18As we look around us for the past few weeks, we see decorations, hear festive music, and feel a general spirit of hope and goodwill from people. I don’t believe that this is limited to Christians. With the exception of very few, everybody loves Christmas! But why? Sure some people love the gifts they get, others may enjoy being around family and community in a way that they usually don’t. But I believe that Christmas is so attractive because of the reunion it brings.

Even for those who are not in Christ, the joy of giving is pronounced during this Christmas season. And I believe that joy comes from the image of God that is in our DNA. Man, by nature, has an emptiness that is only to be filled by a relationship with God. For some, giving to another is the only small taste of God’s grace they ever experience. It is a small byproduct of so much more that is ours in Christ. God, long ago, gave the most precious gift ever given – His Son. And in doing so, He made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. (Romans 5:1-4) We give for the same reason – because we love, we give.

Tomorrow morning, I will watch with delight as my children open their gifts from me..and so will you. Whether we understand that this delight comes from our inherited image or not, we all love Christmas. Even better, the Reason for Christmas loves us back!

Merry Christmas from the Savages!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:16, 17