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Zuppa Toscana (The American-Mutt Version)

Zuppa Toscana (The American-Mutt Version)  by April Rowen  

I'm often asked about recipes. Quick recipes. Healthy recipes.

But this recipe might not seem healthy. Or quick. Rest assured, it is neither -- not according to today's health, where you're allowed to eat 3 calories and 0 fat of artificial anything and processed something. But this recipe is INDEED healthy (full of  substance -- veggies, bone-broth, meat and good fat) and INDEED quick! But only IF... IF you're able to bravely step into the kitchen and home make something everyday until cooking becomes second-nature... IF you use real, seasonal veggies (and meat if possible) sourced locally... and IF you learn the secret of real stock and have a pot continually boiling on the stove handy.

My First Recipe! Comments are enabled (as always) for questions and sharing in your exploration as you alter this recipe and make it yours. ENJOY!


A while ago I saw a recipe for Zuppa Toscana floating around on social media. While it boasted to taste just as good as Olive Garden's... it did not, no, not one bit. It was weak, bland, and filled with potatoes. It was 'Cream of Potato', only without the cream and with MORE potatoes. Potatoes, potatoes, in every bite, am I painting a painfully clear picture? While I'm not a cook, nor am I from Italy, I DO know a thing or two about real stock, heavy whipping cream, and how to put a potato in it's place.

Zuppa Toscana (The American-Mutt Version)


  • Italian sausage. 1-2 lbs. (We like the HOT version, kids like the MILD version.)
  • Butter 4 (or more!) tbsp, divided.
  • Onion. 1 HUGE one, chopped. (Because it's weird to throw a whole onion in the soup.)
  • Garlic: 4-6 cloves, or 3 - 4 tbsp, minced. 
  • Seasonal Veggies. A parsnip or four, celery and/or bok choy, rutabaga... fill 'er up, don't be shy!
  • Greens: 1 bunch of whichever green you prefer: Kale, chard, collard, etc. (Or 2 bunches, if feeling 'healthy'.)
  • Potatoes. 2 small or medium sized, cut in bite-sized pieces to your liking. (If going with any potatoes besides brown, leave skin on.)
  • Homemade Stock: 5-8 cups, or more as needed. (I prefer chicken or turkey stock for this recipe, but vegetable stock is also NOM!)
  • Bacon: 12 strips cut-up (or sometimes we throw 'em in whole!) 
  • Heavy Whipping Cream. Add until soup is nearly white and creamy. (About a pint.)
  • Parmesian Cheese. A TON.


The fresher, the better. Dried is fine, especially Oregano, but fresh tastes like POW! ADD ALL SEASONINGS LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT! (Like you're Hassan from India.)

  • Oregano
  • Italian Seasoning
  • AND/OR Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary, and Thyme.
  • Salt
  • White Pepper,
  • Black Pepper

A Little Salty Encouragement: Most are afraid of salt and pepper. This makes sense for lots of reasons I won't go into right now. But adding salt and pepper until AFTER  it's been cooked robs the meal of it's true potential when it grows up. Salt and pepper needs to be cooked WITH everything, so your meal can be all that it can be. So add that salt -- add it like you're Anthony Quinn (The Grandpa) in A Walk in the Clouds. Keep adding to taste, making it as salty as you'd like and knowing it's actually...heart healthy? Oh yes it is!


Make Stock

I have so much to say about homemade stock that I'm giving it it's own post. I know, pretty exciting, huh? But, really,  it is! I've been shocked at how much it makes soup into POW SOUP! More to come... For now, here's a quick 'how-to':

Next time you find yourself with a raw (or baked) whole chicken, bone-in-beef, pork, fish, vegetables, etc... 

  • Throw all carcass remains (bones, skin, fat, giblets, etc.) inside large pot. (Add unwanted vegetable clippings -- in fact, if you add enough veggie trimmings and give it it's own pot, you've just made vegetable stock!
  • Remove impurities. Scrape off foam on top.
  • Cover and simmer for at least one hour. (B-u-u-u-t stock is best when let to simmer overnight or two or three. So. Much. Richer! I'll post soon about what you can do with the leftover crumbly bones.)
  • Strain. (For this recipe, it's easiest to wait to strain until Zuppa Toscana is ready for the stock. Strain right into the soup. See below.)

Make Bacon

Do NOT drain wonderful bacon lard -- we will be using it right now!

...And Begin!

Blue Print

  1. Dice onions.
  2. Throw onions and a few tbsp of butter in huge soup pan. Add the bacon grease. Once butter is melted, add 1/4 cup of the stock. Once the stock has evaporated, add another 1/4 cup to deglaze onions and to keep the pan from burning. 
  3. Add TONS of the seasonings. Then add some more. Add garlic.
  4. Add sausage. Can either pre-chop (or ooze it between fingers), or mush it up when it's already in the pan. Add another tbsp of butter. Add another 1/4 cup stock to deglaze.
  5. While meat, onions and spices cook, cut up all the other vegetables. Let onions and sausage sit and cook for a bit until broth has deglazed. Add another 1/4 cup stock or more as meat sticks to the pan until meat is mostly cooked and onions are softish.
  6. Add everything else, EXCEPT cream, cheese and bacon. ADD MORE SEASONINGS!
  7. Immediately add 8 or more cups of stock. (Cover all ingredients with 1/2 inch of broth or so.)
  8. Give the soup a good smell -- it should smell like the sweet tears of Jesus. (He told me so.)
  9. CHECK TASTE! Add more seasonings now, if needed (and they are needed.)
  10. Cook on high until boil, then simmer until vegetables are soft-to-taste (hour or so.)
  11. Add bacon and heavy whipping cream (I add whipping cream until soup is nearly white, about a pint.)
  12. Add parmesian cheese. Add directly to pot and/or top completely load each bowl with cheese. 




NOM!!! Easy to freeze -- half can be frozen, half can go in the fridge, and because I can't do math, the other-other half can go to Grandma's when they babysit the kids! <3 WARNING: They will require you bring this soup with the kids forever-more, Amen.



Go Outside and Grow! (Or Stay Inside and Slow)

Go Outside and Grow! (Or Stay Inside and Slow) by April Rowen

When we arrived in Washington, we did what every newb does and visited Pike Place Market. We found a place near the sales counter and watched fishermen sing together and hurl huge fish through the delighted crowd. An idle fisherman eyed us from behind the counter and asked, “Hey, just move here?”

“Yes! A few weeks ago!”

“Good, welcome. You’ll like Washington.”

As we continued to watch the show, he offhandedly asked, “Get out much?”

“No-o-o... not really. We're homebodies."

He laughed and said, “Well, you’re not going to make it unless you get out. Buy boots, buy a jacket, whatever. Get out, rain or shine. Especially rain.” He smiled like he'd just handed us gold.

“Um, ok. Thanks.” Peter and I looked at each other, wondering what we just got ourselves into, moving to a place where fishermen give out advice like winning lottery tickets.

The fisherman looked at us squarely. “No, really…you’ll never make it here unless you go outside every day. Get into some outdoor recreation or whatever. Just…get out.” Then he turned and headed towards the registers, hollering behind him, "Go outside, go outside... You'll be fine!"

The Challenge

I’m an introvert. Ok, a “well-adjusted” introvert, thanks to a parental mix of flaming extroverted dad and very introverted mom. I’d rather be locked away in a library (b-u-u-u-t not the library’s bathroom, Mom!) or Barnes & Noble (or enter bookshop name here ______). If I was Beauty in Beauty & the Beast, that part where Beast surprises Beauty with the Huge Library of Amazingness? Yay, I would have thanked Beast profusely right before shoving him out and locking the door behind him, happy to remain a prisoner in such a place for the rest of my beautiful life.

Unfortunately, I live in the real world full of extroverted demands where no such introverted luxuries are possible. Especially as a mom.

I used to think being a mom might give the excuse that it was ok if I stayed in the house forever. I mean, kids need to be home lots, right? And stay home I did, day after day after day. It was great!

Until I a friend came over and said, "Un-oh, you're bananas."  She could see thick fear and cabin-fever spreading it's disease through my little family. (Was she a fisherman or something?) She was right; All that remained was a weak-kneed, disheartened, and taken-out mom. And one unsociable baby. My friend bravely and lovingly encouraged.

And then she challenged to do something huge -- and I mean HUGE; She urged me to get out of the house EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. 


There was NO WAY! What was she thinking? Silly friend. I could barely get out of the house once a week! With a smug little smile, I reminded her we didn’t have an extra car, so I was literally stuck at home. (Whew!)

And with a smug little smile right back she said, “Well, you better buy one!”

Darn. So I did.

But before buying a car, I took a few big gulps, grabbed a paintball gun, and took up her challenge in starting the only baby-step I could; I decided to take walks with baby and go a new direction every day, even just one block. 

If my friend could get out everyday, then by gum so could I! I wanted to put this challenge to the test. Yes, it was the middle of downtown. Yes, there were hoodlums, prostitutes, drug dealers, and zombies sharing the streets with me. It was scary. Once, a man came up on us quick, angrily swinging a baseball bat and muttering profanities. It happened so fast, I just stopped and stared, near a crossroad, deer in the headlights. Just as the man approached us and started yelling, another man, dressed professionally, came up to the intersection and also stopped, watching. (Was he an angel?) Baseball guy stopped, muttered, and turned the corner. Gulp! Thank you, angel-in-a-suit!

It took bravery and a TON of energy. It left me sore and winded and sometimes a little depressed with all that I saw.

But then... then I started to notice a bounce in my spirit. I discovered new-found courage. I started to make friends during our walks and become stronger, both in body and heart.

Those walks cemented the idea of getting out every day -- so much came from them; It glued us to our community — we made close friendships still strong to this day. Those walks widely broadened December's scope of life. They grew my courage tenfold.

Fast forward three-ish years and I’m amazed to find that it’s habit to get out of the house once a day, even if just to garden, go for a walk, or visit the park. It refreshes our bodies, clears our minds, and lifts our spirits as we meet others and escape our own little worries. And all paintball-free.

Your Challenge

What about you? Do you want to be challenged to get out of the house more? If so, let me extend the gentle (but crazy-huge) challenge to get out every single day for a MONTH. If you struggle with introversion, with cabin-fever, with staying-at-home day after day, and find yourself afraid to leave or socialize... if you find yourself especially frightened at the thought of going outside, alone... then you’ll know you’re a perfect candidate for such a challenge. GULP!

WARNING: You'll never be the same. It’s scary, tough, and I promise it will stretch you in huge ways, more than you’ll ever imagine. Adventures will always happen once following that great, unknown path right outside your door. It might even permanently change your heart, and your community, too, as bravery only can. 


Best for last!

Want to know a secret? The thing that keeps me leaving the house day after day, even when it's scary, even when it's inconvenient, even when the kids are AWFUL, even when it's raining? Sh-h-h-h, don't tell anybody, this is parent-to-parent secret stuff: Going-out breaks up the day and makes it go faster.

I've not once experienced nor witnessed a happy Pj Day. Not once.

Also, going-out makes me get-up and get dressed for the day -- not staying in pj's and thus staying in my sluggish, morning mood. This isn't easy -- to get up and intentionally get ready, especially when bone tired. It's discipline and takes MIND-BLOWING EFFORT, WHAA! Truly, I'm a night owl and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE staying up late when it's quiet. I love nothing more than sleeping in way past morning. But... if I want to be the best mommy possible, and be ready for those little tator-tots, I've got to (somehow) get this bag of bones up and out of bed. I've got to get my mind going in a positive direction. I've got to start with intention, and not in frustrated reaction.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love every second with my kiddos and want them to stay forever young, but they often drive me CRAZY and with Peter working long days, being by myself with two little ones can make for the l-o-o-o-ngest days. Ever. 

But getting-up and getting-going and getting-out gives me something to think about besides myself. It shrinks my problems in half. It gets my creative juices flowing and gives me something to share with Peter when he arrives home. And perhaps most important, it reminds the kids there is a bigger world out there than their small haven, and others to think about, work with, accept, and love.

 I've got shoes on, hair done (haha ...'ish'), mascara equipped, and deodorant swiped. Bring it on! 

“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."

"I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” 
 J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit

What about you? What are your ways of escaping cabin-fever? What do you struggle with most?


The Best Gift for Your Husband

The Best Gift for Your Husband   by April Rowen

Every slef-help book worth it's weight will tell you the five secrets to a happy husband:

  1. Respect
  2. Playmate
  3. Making Whoopee

And some other two I can't remember, like making him good food, or looking nice for him. Or letting him be your hero. Maybe it was simply carrying a paintball gun under your blouse. 

I've been married for over 11 years to my one-and-only and I may have discovered the real, honest-to-gosh, tried-and-true, proven SECRET to the happiest husband in the world. While it does include all previously listed, here's the...


Your True Happiness.

That's it.

But don't be fooled by the simplicity. It's H.A.R.D. Because I'm not just talking about a plastic Barbie smile, or a grim smirk, or one of those 'just-shoot-me-now' smiles, oh no. I'm talking about being filled with enough joy on the inside that it can't help but overflow to the outside; Enough joy that it spills out on the husband, the kids, life. The kind of joy that has husband proud to be married to such a beautiful woman.

Because that's what joy is -- it's beauty, it's nourishment, it's hope, faith, courage.... it's goodwill, patience, kindness, gentleness... love. TRUE love.

So this Valentines, go get 'em, Tigress! And give that sweet, good man the one thing he craves more than all the top man-stigmas -- Your pure joy in HIM and in the family you've made together! 


Time-Out!...Not for you, for Mommy!

 Time-Out!...Not for you, for Mommy!   by April Rowen

"The days are long, but the years are short.”  Gretchen Rubin 

 I SHOULD write about what great tools Time-Outs are for our little miscreants. I really OUGHT to write a guide on how to time-out that little angel who is SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS. It should look something like this:

  1. Ask fussy/screaming child: "Would you like Room Time, or would you like to be fun?"
  2. If she doesn't asnwer, say, "Uh-oh! I'll choose for you. Looks like Room-Time." Deposit screaming child in room. 
  3. Ask if she would like door open or closed. If she doesn't answer, say, "Ok, I'll choose for you. Closed!"
  4. Close door. Lock it or hold on to it firmly until she stops trying to beat it down. 
  5. Unlock door or let go and go about your business, whistling, humming and being genuinely happy that your precious hell-hound is behind bars.
  6. When tyke escapes and comes up behind you, sulking and wondering if she's in trouble for 'escaping', SMILE and say, "Oh, I'm so happy to see you!" And engage her in whatever you are doing as if nothing happened.
  7. If sweet child turns into another victim of the Umbrella Corporation, resort back to step one and RUN! Or, sigh, yes... repeat. Sip Passionflower tea, take Willow Bark as needed for headache, or maybe a sip gulp of wine.

But instead, I'm GOING to write this:

When the going gets tough, AND IT WILL! and little tator-tot is being awful, terrible, making you pull out your hair and wonder what God was thinking with this whole pro-create business, do yourself the most wonderful favor and...

Mommy, Take a TIME-OUT!

I've become such a pro at this, that when I start to grump, or get frazzled, or even a little sad, December (3) immediately places her small paw on mine and says gently, "Momma... do you need a time-out?"

Why, yes! Yes I do! Be right back...

It wasn't always that easy. When taking a time out for myself, the kids reacted (and I felt) like I was leaving them forever. 5 minutes in their eyes (and 5 minutes in my eyes as they cried for Momma) felt As.An.Eternity. December and Griffin would hammer at the door and yell and cry and yell and.... oh, it felt like it wasn't even worth it. I had MORE of a headache coming out of my 'time-outs', than going-in! 

But I got creative. I began putting Griffin in his room for a brief Alone Time and let December know her options: Room Time or Quiet Time in the Living Room? I asked her NOT to interrupt. (It took her time to understand and obey.) I learned a few awesome tips for having an awesome 'time-out' to reset and go back in strong!

  • Try to use the same place. (Keep candles, chocolate, books, satin pillows, servants with grapes, etc. there and ready!)
  • Keep time-outs brief (under 10 minutes) but take a few when needed.
  • Try to completely tune-out the commotion. Use earplugs. Or earmuffs. Those satin pillows? Turn on back-noise, like a fan, or music, maybe a podcast. Flush a toilet or two, run a faucet, sit on the dryer, turn on the jackhammer.
  • Sneak outside.
  • Hail a taxi to Paris.
  • Get your mind going in a new direction. Demolish something with that jackhammer, or read something awesome (not depressing or debatable.) My sister jokes about using the time to simply stare at a blank wall. (Or is she joking, hmm...)

Have any great time-out STORIES? Have any TIPS for a successful time-out?


(Accidentally) Parenting Out of Anger 

(Accidentally) Parenting Out of Anger   by April Rowen

"Fear is faith that it won't work out." Sister Mary Tricky

  HI, I’m April Rowen, and I’m an angry parent.

Or I used to be up until just recently! Clean for seven months now.

I've struggled with anger as long as I can remember. I used to call it 'righteous anger', as most of it is directed towards abuse of the hurting, broken and lonely. But I also become very upset with stupidity. Laziness. Cowardice. Lies. Bullies. You, know, all the stuff.

My anger was deeply affecting my kids. And my husband. But when I tried to work on it, I soon realized how deep under I was... I truly couldn't tell WHERE ANGER ENDED and WHERE I BEGAN. Anger and I were tighter than thieves, closer than lovers, stronger than, um, bears. Anger was my shield, and it kept me free of pain, guilt, regret, and mostly, free of fear. It's like a drug in the way that it can make one recklessly brave.

Then a new friend nonchalantly bought me a book. That's all. Just a book.

And it changed everything.

The Angry Parent

Let me paint a BEFORE picture:

One day, December (3) and I (32) both woke on the wrong side of the bed. I was over-tired, and she was over-needy. She was terribly naughty. I had chose to sleep-in and forgo a much-needed shower, so I felt a little grumbly to still be tired AND stinky. Add little Griffin (1) to nurse and change and I wondered, “Is it bedtime, yet?” Nope, still 7ish am.

After a grueling nursing session where December succeeded in torturing us, I held Griffy over the potty. December stepped up beside us, said it was HER turn to go, and randomly peed all over the floor, right through her clothes.


I was SO MAD! She DID THAT ON PURPOSE!!! I told December to STAY! I said angry words, told her how VERY disappointed I was, and finished Griffin as quickly as possible, muttering the whole time. Then I went to clean up the mess.

No December. Where was she? Oh no she wasn't-- Oh yes. Yes she was. There she lay IN HER BED with her soaking pants on! AAAAAHHHH! I was MADDER!

After grabbing December a little too roughly and depositing her back in the bathroom, Griffin tried to splash in her puddle, so I closed the bathroom door on him. He beat that door and cried like it was the end of the world.

December then had a complete, total, demon-possessed meltdown. She kicked, screamed, hollered... I could barely get her wet pants off and was clueless what her problem was. And then-- she hit me. (If you’ve ever worn glasses, you'll know how extra painful it can be to be hit in the nose.) I cried and saw red. I was SO BEYOND ANGRY that, without a word, I turned on the cold water in the bath and stuck my flailing daughter right in. (NOTE: I didn’t plug the drain. No matter how angry I was, I didn’t believe in giving a child hypothermia.) I pursed my lips and scrubbed her and took the tiniest pleasure in her changed cries from that of willful disobedience/rage to that of misery. Ah-ha! Take that! I win. You may call me ‘Master Momma’!

(Accidentally) Parenting Out of Anger

I was raised on spankings, ‘The Look’, warnings, threats, bribes and… well, fear. Weren’t we all?

And up until just recently I’m the first person to say, “Spank that kid! He needs a lesson.”

Until I realized I was using fear as my main tool in parenting. My goal was to get my kid to comply. I've always thought compliance --obedience -- is the whole point. And...honestly...I've always thought God was all about my compliance, too. It hasn't been until a friend bought me a (golden, my friends...golden) copy of Loving Our Kids On Purpose (by Danny Silk) that I've started to think otherwise: 

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first.” 1 John 4:18-19

Fear. Love and fear CANNOT co-exist. And I’ve been parenting using fear; Partly because I was raised that way, and partly because my toddler terrifies me. Toddler and I are afraid of each other.

Anger. Fear, left unchecked, turns to anger and bitterness. What does a parenting arsenal of anger look like? We've all heard (and winced) at the obviously-angry parents who yell and even curse their kids. Some of us have most unfortunately witnessed outright child abuse. But what about the not-so-obvious?

Anger Tools:

  • Disapproval
  • Angry Tone (even if not yelling)
  • Disappointment
  • Lecture
  • The ‘sms (Sarcasm, Criticism, Cynicism)

Can you think of more?

Between you and me, I’m exhausted. I’m tired of fear and all the fear-tactics I've had to endure. I'm tired of watching others being bullied into fear and compliance.

And I'm tired, tired, tired of using fear as a tool. Because it doesn't work. It only breeds momentary compliance, builds fear, and gives birth to anger in those little hearts.

My kid is fearless. She’s brave and crazy adventurous. And I’ve been working real hard on making her fear. “Fear my wrath, child! OBEY!” I yell this in my every action as I parent out of emotion, mostly anger, frustration, stress.

(Intentionally) Parenting In Love

I’m not suggesting we throw discipline out the window. Far from it — in fact, we need discipline more than ever! Not the quick punishment-based discipline we all grew up with, oh-no... I’m talking about the much-harder discipline… the kind that takes time, effort, and effort, and time. The kind that says, “I love you. I’m not giving up on you, never-ever. You can never mess up enough. You’re amazing! You got this. Let’s try this again. I’ve got your back. I’m never going to leave you. You’re safe. I’m you’re biggest fan. I love you…” Over and over and over again. With every tantrum, with every spilled milk, with every hit from those little fists.

What does it look like to be a Peaceful Parent?

  • Not-easily provoked.
  • Patient.
  • Kind.
  • Giving-the-benefit-of-the-doubt.
  • Time and listening. Taking time to listen and find the purpose behind the action.
  • JOYFUL selflessness and sacrifice. (Oh yes I just said that. It hurts me, too. Joy… like, being OK with stinky and getting up WAY.TOO.EARLY.EVERY.MORNING.FOREVER. WHAAA!)
  • Taking a time-out.
  • Dealing out praise, understanding and approval (instead of punishment, lectures, and disapproval.)

What does this look like in real life?

Let me paint an AFTER picture:

One day, December (3) and I (32, still) both woke on the wrong side of the bed. Again. And I was stinky. Again.

But here's the difference... and it was all because I made a very conscience, HARD, awesome decision to ship away my angry eyes to some poor, unsuspecting soul in, um, Duluth? and pulled out love instead: After a grueling wonderful nursing session where I first asked December, "Would you like to stay in your room and color OR sit quietly in the living room with a book while I nurse?" She grumbled then begrudgingly chose her room. (!) Griffin and I had enjoyed peaceful time together. Then we knocked on December's door and asked if she'd like to help with breakfast, and would she like a cup of cocoa as a special treat?

During breakfast she grumbled. I said, "Uh-oh! You're not being very fun. Would you like Room Time or Fun?" She grumbled then smiled and said she wanted to be fun. (!!)

After helping me clean-up the dishes, which I greatly praised, she grabbed my coffee without asking and sipped it -- then dropped it.. She became very upset because she burnt herself a little and demanded I help. I took a big breath, smiled (that was the really hard part!) and asked, "Uh-Oh. What are you going to do about it?" She cocked her head, thought a moment, then ran and grabbed a towel. (!!!) She also ran and ripped off a piece of aloe-vera all by herself. I helped her, telling her how big she was getting. I offered her a sip of my coffee with the fresh cup. I told her it was OK. I NEVER ONCE lectured her. Yet I wondered... did she learn not to sneak a sip, without asking?

Later, when putting her down for her nap, she said, "Mama... I'm sorry I spilled your coffee." Then she patted my arm and kissed me. (!!!!) 

Relationship Rules and Rules Drool!

Turns out the way I parent will determine how my children will later view God (yikes!) If I’m constantly demanding obedience and giving out disapproval/punishment rather than showing how to responsibly handle freedom and allowing natural consequenced to happen while still in the safety of our home and loving influence... how will that affect the way my kids view God?

I'm now parenting with the goal of responsible freedom in mind for my youngsters (not compliant robots rooted in fear.) My hope is that, as they make decisions for themselves, that my kids will know our heart and will make the right decision because they are connected to our heart — not the paddle. That they won’t think: “My parents aren’t here, so I can get away with it…” But instead, “I want to protect their hearts the same way they protect mine because I’m in a relationship with them.”

...kinda like the way Papa God disciplines us, too; In complete freedom, not out of rules, but out of a relationship with Him, connected with His heart, not His paddle.

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love. We love each other because He loved us first.” 1 John 4:18-19