Finding My Way as a Christian Mom

admin May 7, 2011

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Last week I wrote about Sunday Christians.  I had an important reason for doing so: my own “Sunday Christian” upbringing makes me feel like my hands are really tied in raising my own kids.

That is to say, I didn’t grow up with the example of the kind of mom I want to be.  It’s not that I didn’t have a good mom, who did her best.  But she is unapologetically “not-so-religious.”  Because I didn’t grow up in a home where prayer was constant, reading the Bible was frequent, and discussions of faith occurred as a thread in the fabric of our everyday lives, I…don’t know where to start now.

I know, to some extent, how I want to be: I want my kids to always make choices based on what Jesus would have them do.  I want their hearts to be full of love and to know they are special and saved by Jesus.  I want them, especially in hard times, to turn to Jesus first.  I want to have a home full of love and prayer.

What this looks on a day-to-day basis…I’m still struggling to figure out.

I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know how to start these things.  And sometimes I feel like an imposter when I try, because I know I’m not measuring up to the standard I’d like to meet.  I want to be a mom who is always patient and happy and generous, who shepherds her children’s hearts and always remembers that developing a relationship with the child is more important than anything else.

But I’m not that patient.  I’m not sure how to always shepherd a child’s heart.  And I forget sometimes that the relationship is paramount…until it’s too late.

The other day I got out eggs to make breakfast, started heating the pan, and stepped out of the kitchen for less than a minute.  When I came back, half a dozen eggs were all over the floor and my son was in the middle of the mess.  We (obviously) hadn’t eaten yet, they’d been on the whiny side that morning…and I lost it.  “Out of my kitchen!  Do you see that mess you’ve made?  You don’t touch the eggs!”  He pouted, he cried, he looked so very sad.  Then I remembered that although it is very annoying, it is only eggs and he is only a little boy, and that I ought to worry more about loving him than the broken eggs on the floor….

There are happy moments though, too.  Recently my daughter decided we would pray, several times a day (I think she learned some of these prayers at church, although she sometimes speaks in gibberish and I am not sure what she is praying for).  She gets out a chair and stands on it, folds her hands, and starts praying: “Dear God, thank you for…thank you Jesus for saving us, thank you for Mommy and Daddy and Nana and Papa and Grandma and Grandpa and playgrounds and kitties and our friends…” this goes on for a minute or so, then she says, “AMEN!” and claps and cheers.

My son loves this.  He always asks for more (so this activity can go on for quite awhile!).  I don’t think he fully understands exactly what we are doing, but he is associating prayer with a happy and exciting activity, and for now, I am okay with that. 🙂

Recently, my daughter even asked to be the one to pray before we ate.  That was exciting!  When we first started to pray regularly at meals a year or so ago (yes, very late, I know…) she’d throw a fit about it, not understanding why she needed to wait to eat.  But now she’s very into it.  Sometimes she directs us to fold our hands instead of holding hands.  We let her lead this.

So we have bright spots.  But we don’t pray enough.  We don’t listen to enough uplifting music (mostly just in the car, but it’s usually turned down then so we can talk — I teach my daughter a lot during car rides).

I’ve heard of families who sing a little song about the day the Lord has made each morning, and I love it.  I wish we did it, but I don’t know how to start.

I’ve heard about all these “Proverbs 31 wives” (one of my contributors is working towards this) and it sounds insurmountable to me.

For awhile we prayed whenever we disciplined…and sometimes we still do.  But sometimes I am, unfortunately, too annoyed. 🙁

I feel like in my head I could do it perfectly.  In my heart I have a strong desire to do more.  In my actions…there’s a lot yet to be desired.

Now, I’m trying to see into the lives of more Christian families.  I’m trying to surround myself with those who are truly on fire for the Lord.  I want to be completely enveloped in the culture, to see how other families do it.  Then maybe I can let them teach me…and maybe I can come home and implement parts of what I see.  I may not have had the example growing up, but perhaps I can learn from examples now. 

That’s why it’s so important to me, now, to discern the “Sunday Christians” from those sold-out Christians in my own life: I don’t want to be a Sunday Christian.  I don’t want to fall into the ways of the world.  I don’t want to lose my path when the tragedy (my children not knowing the Lord) could be great.  It led me to ponder that many of those I see around me are probably Sunday Christians, and to wonder about the phenomenon in general.

So I am seeking those sold-out Christians now, and simplifying my life so that I have time for what is truly important.  It is so vitally important that my entire family is surrounded by those like us, who can help us when we are still finding our way.  Who can lead us while we humble ourselves.

If anyone would like to share how their families work, and how they shepherd their children…I’d love to hear it. 🙂

Have you ever struggled to find your way as a Christian mom?

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  1. It's like you said perfectly where I am right now. I'm striving to be better but feel as if I'm falling short. But always doing more each day to bring God into our lives. Thank you for posting this.


  2. Kate,
    I was so moved by this post. Your words echoed so much of what is in my heart daily.
    I am, I suspect, older than you, but we still have young children. Though I am further down the road in years, the struggles are the same.

    We too are seeing like-minded Christians who seek to be true, but failing, followers of Christ.

    May we encourage each other in the days ahead, under His grace all the time.

    About the "annoyed" issues, are you familiar with the verse that says that "a fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult"? Proverbs 12:16. That verse helps us and is necessary daily.

    May the Lord bless you as you seek to honor Him.


  3. I too am paving a new way as my parents failed me in many ways. I told my children after the big snowstorm here in OK- I am like a snowtruck; I am pushing all the hard stuff out of the way do you can follow behind me easily. The best way children learn, I've found, is modeling. They pick up very quickly. Sometimes I'm impressed. Wow- they just said thank you to the sales person- well they hear me being gracious all the time. Then I hear them repeat a phrase of mine, and maybe that's not so good. (well I don't mean I curse!) I love The Continuum Concept and Scott Noelle's work, though not Christian, I read it through the lens of a biblical viewpoint and it changed my whole relationship with my children. I would strongly encourage anyone to read ThyRod and Thy Staff they comfort me by Samual Martin- which is 100% Christian and bible based. amazing!! Oh, and I totally relate about the
    egg incident!!


  4. I know exactly what you're talking about, and I feel the same way! I did grow up in a solid Christian home, not just a "Sunday Christian" home. Sometimes I feel like I'm coming up short as a mom though too-it's so easy to get caught up in your own family that you forget that if you want them to behave well and grow up as a good Christian kid, then it's my job as a mom to make sure that's what happens! I lose my patience sometimes too, which really frustrates me. I think you're right on track with finding a good example and learning from them…since my mom raised 3 kids so well, I think I'll seek out her help! 🙂


  5. Couple of things. First what do you mean by sold out Christian?
    Second my mom was always in an additional group through church. When I was growing up my parents and several other parents would get together once a month. They'd do an additional bible study or missionary outreach or whatnot. They made great long lasting friendships through these groups. My mom is in one now and she calls them her God family. Their kids call her grandma and such. They have dinner once a month and do an additional study over the readings for that week. They also support each other. When my mom was in a rehab for a few months recovering from a major injury they all got together to clean and organize her house. You might want to see if your church has these "small groups" to join. They are not affiliated with the church but started within the church community. As a matter of fact in the last 10 years she's been with the same group, everyone but her has left the church to find a new church home for one reason or other. But they still gather to pray talk and learn and occasionally outreach.


  6. Crystal,

    There are a LOT of things my 3-year-old repeats that I kind of wish she wouldn't. Among my current 'favorites,' "Yes, Mommy, I hear you," (meaning, you know, she gets that I'm asking her to stop but she doesn't care, lol) or "You come here. If you don't listen, I'll have to spank you." Things that I don't necessarily think are inappropriate for ME to say…but not so fun from a 3-year-old, lol!

    Lea — I just mean, people who are totally committed to making God a part of their daily lives, in seeking His guidance all the time. Our church heavily encourages small groups, but we haven't found one where we fit yet. We are hoping to start one this fall (I'm hoping to lead a temporary one in the women's summer study, maybe I'll meet like-minded people there) that is very family-centered; a lot of the groups tend to have baby-sitting (or not even that) but don't invite the kids to participate really. And we feel strongly about keeping our kids with us and having "family church" in a way (and that a small group is a more appropriate place to do this than a large church setting). That's really another post in itself.


  7. To offer a bit of encouragement, Kate:

    1. You are aware that where you are is not where you want to stay. That's huge. I don't know how often you're able to spend time with other moms in your church support structure on a weekly basis, but find one or two of them that seem to be doing a good job and ask them how they are going about it. Research this the same way that you research your posts for your blog.
    2. No one (that is human!) is perfect. When you make a mistake, once, twice, etc., and you apologize/ask forgiveness, etc., you are teaching your kids that they can be real. If we could be perfect, then theoretically, we could earn our own salvation and would not have needed Jesus to come and rescue/redeem us. Kids need to see us coming to grips with/acknowledging that even parents make mistakes and need God to forgive them. Being transparent like this allows us to model a genuine faith walk. We don't want to raise kids that turn away from their faith in college because we were fake and never (at least in our own eyes!) made mistakes.
    3. Re: the Proverbs 31 woman…I have personally taken Ms. 31 off of her pedestal. I could keep beating myself up over how much I am lacking her perfection or I can acknowledge that she had live-in nannies, maids, etc. (To quote from memory: She gets up early and prepares portions for her (wait for it!) *servant girls.*
    4. Be careful, please, about surrounding yourselves with *only* Christians. In Romans 10, the Apostle Paul is talking about salvation and in verses 14 and 15, he says,
    "14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
    If we only spend time with other Christians, we are hoarding Christ rather than sharing him and the good news with those who need it.

    Still, I think you're totally on the right track. You've identified where you want to be and now you're researching how to get there. A couple of books that have really helped me in this arena:

    "The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One" by Robert Wolgemuth

    "Raising Kids on Purpose for the Fun of It: Hundreds of Ideas for Family Fun and Recreation and the Teaching of Christian Values" by Gwen Weising

    "The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name" by Sally Lloyd Jones –> this is a beautiful little Bible paraphrase – we generally try to read out of this every evening before prayers and bed.

    And, of course, the Bible itself is a wonderful reference manual for how to raise our little treasures.

    The thing that is going to make the biggest impact on your children is how you live your faith at home. When you're doing dishes, sing or pray or practice memorizing scripture. Bekah is old enough to do this with you. Start with simple ones like "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" Philippians 4:13 and work up to the bigger ones like "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding…" etc. Go ahead and have her learn the address of the verse as you go. Helping your children write God's word on the "tablet of [their] heart(s)" (Prov. 3:3) is a magnificent service to them. You can do this while driving or snuggling or well, anytime really. You say a couple words and have the child(ren) say the words after you. Work on it a little every day. This is how I recently taught my 4 1/2 and 3 y.o. the Lord's Prayer.

    heh…I need to stop. I could keep going and going, but there are other things I need to get done. God bless you, Kate, for your desire to honor God in your life and your home. I believe he will honor you and give you the desire of your heart in this. /hug


  8. I am not a mom yet(by november tho:)Lord willing) so I don't know exactly how I will fail or struggle. I know I will tho because I am only human and the only perfect one is God, but I do know that we can rest in Jesus and take it all to him and know that he cares and understands and will help according to his plan and will. No one can do it on there own, we all need Jesus help. One of my favorite things to remember when I get discouraged is that God never gives you more than you can handle and that God only gives you strenghth for today, not for today and tomorrow because He has tomorrow in HIs hands and there is nothing to worry about when He is in control:)


  9. Have you read the "Guarded by the Gospel" blog? The tagline is "mothers finding safety and solutions in Jesus our savior" I just discovered it, as the author did a guest post on the "Passionate Homemaking" blog, but I think you would like it.


  10. I definitely feel the same struggles you do, Kate! I grew up in a 100% non-Christian home and had a powerful, eye-opening experience that lead me to become a "sold out" Christian when I was 19 years old.

    Now that I am a mother I feel that total lack of direction, lack of role model, lack of mentor. It is hard for me to even know where to start, or what to say. Then I worry that I'm not doing enough to feed them spiritually, even though I'm not really sure how to do it in the first place! At times, I beat myself up for losing patience and temper, unwilling to forgive myself let alone ask God for forgiveness. It is just now, after being a mom for 4 years, that I am starting to realize that I am a good mom because I at least recognize my failures and fight hard against my natural self through prayer and seeking the Lord to become a better mama. I would be a bad mom if I just said, "oh well, who cares if I yelled at my kids today, they were so annoying!"

    Thank you for sharing your heart, I am sure this will touch many mamas who are scared to let anyone know that they aren't perfect.


  11. What an excellent post. You expressed my sentiments exactly. thank you for sharing, and I look forward to joining you on this journey!


  12. We have an 11 year old son. We have a morning devotional which includes a hymn, family prayer and scripture study. He can now obviously participate in the reading but yours are still tootiny for that so you could read to them for a few minutes. just to get them hearing the scriptures will help. We also have family prayer before bed and each meal. When my son was old enough we had him follow our lead and have his own additional scripture study each day about 20 min.. I would consider myself as "sold out" as one can be and want my children to have and know all that I have. Monday night is family night for us. We have a short 10 minute lesson do an activity and have a treat. Family is so important as you know and we have an obligation to teach our children well. I would be happy to discuss this futher with you if your interested! Good Luck. And trust the Lord he will lead the way.


  13. God bless you and your family for your persistence in chasing after God. Hope these spots might be inspiring and helpful:
    Anyway, our family likes to incorporate ALOT of their ideas.


  14. I know that I am a little late in commenting on this post, I just found your blog this morning. Reading this post was like looking in the mirror! My husband and I also came from Sunday Morning Christian homes, and I too still get the “being too Christian” comments from family. I have been praying–no crying to God about this very topic recently. I know what I want to be, I just don’t know how. Thankfully God promises to complete the good work He started in us. When we are weak, He is our strenght! Although I do not know you, I will remember you in my prayers as I pray too that I can effectivly lead my children in the way they should go! Thank you for sharing your heart on this topic!


  15. I didn’t come from a Christian family, and I didn’t even know about Jesus at all until some miraculous circumstances occurred when I was seventeen-years-old. We do a number of things that might qualify us as those “sold-out Christians” you mentioned, but we still have so far to go. We all do. I’ve just begun reading a book I found on Amazon called Building the Christian Family You Never Had: A Practical Guide for Pioneer Parents. Maybe take a look at it as a resource:


  16. I loved this post! I am not a Sunday Christian, and I was raised in a Christian home, but didn’t have the best of examples. So like you, I struggle & worry over all of those things myself. So I really enjoyed reading this post! I think we are about the same age too, with similar aged children. I pray every day for wisdom, and something I started lately that has been really helpful & encouraging has been to ask an older mature godly mother in our church to mentor me. It’s been so wonderful to sit (weekly or biweekly whatever fits into our schedule best, she even comes when my kids are napping sometimes) and receive practice advice specific to me. So much better than the seemingly vague pictures a book paints. Wish I had started it years ago! It has helped me tremendously to be a better wife, mother & Christian! Plus isn’t that what the Bible refers to, the older women are to teach the younger. 🙂


  17. This has been a struggle for me too. DH & I both did not see this modeled growing up. I am making progress, thankfully! Slowly and with the Lord’s direction. My advice would be add one small thing at a time until it is a habit then try another. For example, make it your focus to read the Bible after breakfast with your kids or daily tell one another things you are thankful for. I will link up a few blog posts I have made…hopefully they can give you either some ideas to make small steps to lead your kids or to give your heart and mind some focus.


  18. Overall I enjoy your blog & the alternative wisdom you are able to share with others but it is posts like this that sadden me & make me consider dropping you from my feeds. My heart breaks for you and for your precious children that you have blindly lead with cult like devotion to something that clearly has no merit other than the power in your own mind. I was raised in a cultish Christian environment such as you are striving to raise your children & it’s taken me into my adult years before I realize why it never resignated with me. You can not take a book of fables written by (many) men as literal fact. Good lessons? Absolutely but fables none the less. Where else in life will you find such blind devotion & admiration for something & not consider the followers to be out of their mind or crazy? No where. More wars have been fought, more people have died, more children abused in the name of God than most people care to admit. Look at the facts not the myths. Question the contradictions, the bible is FULL of them. It’s sad really. As an adult who grew up having this shoved down my throat my whole life (even still) I can honestly say you are doing your children no good. All you are going to do is push them further from what you believe when they are old enough to go searching for what is true within their hearts & they will resent you for it & they will resent the years they wasted in guilt for not feeling like they were good enough. & it’s not just me. I know so many people who have grown with similar stories & the ones who have been indoctrinated their entire lives want nothing of it while those like you who were looking for something more think they’ve found the answer to everything. Believe what you chose but please let your children do the same. Look at the facts & don’t blindly follow, ask questions, question the contradictions. Don’t be a sheep & don’t force it upon your sweet children because it is nothing short of abuse.


    • I’m sorry, but this is incredibly offensive.

      I don’t expect raising children Christian — or even being Christian — to be for everyone. I’m certainly not trying to “shove it down throats” in any sense, and of course not of other adults! All adults are free to believe what they want. (As will mine be, when they are adults.)

      But I’m NOT abusing my children by teaching them about the Lord and how to love Him and others because of Him. I’m just so offended that you would suggest that, especially when there are actually people out there abusing their children by beating, starving, sexual abuse, etc. And no, that doesn’t “usually” happen in the name of the Lord. Even those who claim that it does have twisted and misinterpreted the Lord’s words so terribly. He calls us to LOVE our children and everyone else too!

      I understand that you grew up with a way that you didn’t appreciate and that’s fine — you may raise your children any way you like. But please don’t EVER talk to me or another Christian like this again. If it’s not okay for a Christian to walk up to you and say, “So did you know you’re going to Hell?” It’s NOT okay for you to talk to a Christian this way. You don’t have to hold the beliefs, but you need to show respect for those who believe differently than you do. It’s called being an adult.

      Any further offensive comments about my religion and beliefs will be deleted. This is just way over the top.


  19. Kate,

    You have such a heart for your children and for the Lord. I want to encourage you in a few ways. One being, that it is finished. Christ died for your failings as a parent and you are forgiven. One of the best gifts you can give your children is showing them how much you need Jesus too and pleading to Him, in front of them, when you do fail. The other is that we cannot save our children. No amount of Bible stories or praying before supper will save them, it is only God’s work in their heart that can do that. Not that we shouldn’t do those things, it’s all a part of training them in the way they should go and we also know that God’s Word will not return void. I think we, as moms, put an incredible burden on ourselves, that if we are not doing x, y and z then our kids our going to turn away from the Lord. But the truth is that it’s God’s grace, and His grace alone that will save them. It is also His grace alone that has saved us and His grace that sanctifies us (grows us to be more like Him). Being a Christian parent ought to be freeing, not guilt ridden. I’m speaking to myself here as well. All this to say that we do not give up the means God uses to shape us and our children, but His grace should spur us on, not all the “what ifs”. I haven’t read this book yet, but have heard the author speak, and feel confident in recommending it anyways. “Give them Grace” by Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter whos name escapes me at the moment. PS I’m a homeschool mom of an 8, almost 5 and 2 yo daughters. I often struggle with making sure I do things just right, which often just leads to guilt and inactivity, so I constantly need to remind myself of the Gospel.


  20. Thank you. I enjoyed this post 🙂 very thought provoking for me. I am a pastor’s wife with two very small kids (22 months and 2 months old). I want my kids to really live as *real* as possible and not feel like they are jammed in a christian bubble/goldfish bowl all the time. I haven’t really thought too much about how to incorporate a relationship with Jesus into the life of my kids yet… But the older my oldest gets the more necessary to plan that will be!

    Praying over my son is a part of his bedtime routine, and we do a music program at church which has some very generic (& fun) songs which talk about being special and made in His image.

    My parents were serious Christians who let all three of their daughters find their own faith in a way… We said grace and night-night prayers and went to church on Sundays and my parents hosted small groups sometimes and we sang church songs for fun in the car on long trips sometimes. They never really surrounded me with books about God (I did have a bible) or did devotions as a family or force God-chats or whatever. I’m pretty grateful to be honest, my parents just lived their faith in front of me but didn’t make me feel indoctrinated as I grew up. They sent us to regular non religious schools. They let us wrestle with questions and encouraged research. My sisters had some serious atheists in their high school class, my parents gave them(my sisters) some quite academic apologetics stuff and discussed openly doubt and never asked them to shun their friends with questions or disbelief but to engage them. I’m grateful for that example. The only thing I would add is more stories of Jesus from the gospels… (cos I think even adults dont know them well enough… Preferring to hang out reading Paul and debating theology in order to be ‘right’)…. And more historical context in those Jesus stories… In an age appropriate way.

    Thanks again for making me think!


  21. Your deep desire to do what is best – in every area of your family life – including your children’s spiritual shepherding shines through! What an inspiration you are. Its great to hear the ways you let your children lead in prayer and spiritual things. Can I give you a word of encouragement? Don’t worry too much about doing all the “right” things! Your focus on fostering your relationship with your children will carry you far and your example of desiring Godliness for them will speak volumes more than doing this or that extra christian cultural thing (like enveloping them in christian music or praying one more time per day or after a disciplinary situation – its amazing that you even attempt this!). In your zeal from trying to overcompensate from what you did not have growing up, be careful not to overdo it. I, too, was curious about what happened in those Christian family lives who had it all figured out. So I went to Wheaton College, that bastion of Christian leaders, most of whose parents raised them in very Ev Christian homes. And MANY kids there were just happy to get away from it all! They had it with having it shoved down their throats, all the pressure to be perfect Christians, all the “trying” to get it into them that their well-meaning parents did. This seemed to communicate that we aren’t “good enough” for God and it created a stressful atmosphere of self-judgment (am I doing enough?), others-judgment (how many devos did you do today?) and even self-hatred (God couldn’t possibly love me after x mistake). For many, it just became annoying, and they couldn’t wait to get away from it and simply rest in God and find their own way apart from the burden of this well-meaning form of law, rules, expectations and bible memorization programs. It seemed to communicate a sense of worry or anxiety, like that resting in God’s grace and doing what kept us connected to him somehow wasn’t enough, that we had to “DO” all these other things (multiple devos per day, only listen to CCM, memorize verses and entire books of the bible, talk evangelical all the time, be a perfect proverbs 31 woman, or a modern day knight, etc). And these things are not bad in and of themselves. But NOW that we’re having our own kids, it is interesting to see how we’re doing things differently. Many of my Wheaton friends who grew up immersed in that christian culture (and it IS very cultural! think about how for 1500 years of Christianity, lay-people weren’t even allowed to read the bible! what were those successful christian homes like? they maybe heard a sermon once a month at their local parish, yet God drew and kept them in faith…), many from that cultural upbringing you’re curious about (I had some of that too), we are stepping back quite a few steps from the intensity of it all. We’re focusing more on fostering a loving and grace-filled relationship with our children, letting that and our example of devotion speak volumes about what we believe about our heavenly father God, his love, grace, and our trust in him. We all want to know the best way to pass down a legacy of alive faith to our children (and not simply indoctrination or works based religion) and to keep the communication lines with our kids open (even if and when they come to believe differently than we do). For whatever its worth 🙂 this is a long way of saying don’t worry too much about! Or be discouraged about not doing “enough”. Plenty of well-meaning christian parents are doing “too much”! God has equipped you with everything you need right now to serve him in your calling at this stage of motherhood with the particular children he has sent to you to shepherd and grow into people who will continue to communicate His love in the world in new ways.

    Also, on this topic, some of us at church recently read and discussed this older book: Will Our Children Have Faith? by Westerhoff


    • So very interesting that your comment came in today. I’ve been pondering the issue of “doing enough stuff/the right stuff” lately as I’ve seen more and more Christian moms talking about training this or that (character, Bible verses, etc.) and felt I wasn’t doing it right. But my children know Jesus and love Him so perhaps I’m doing well. We don’t do all that ‘stuff’ most Christian homes do but if they leave here knowing Jesus and not feeling like they ‘have’ to do or say all the right things, I think I have done my job!


  22. I feel sad that you have judged your mom in such a public manner. WWJD? Hopefully your children show you more grace.


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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