Life in Lape Haven

Archive - June 2016

Yummy Cherry Cream Cheese Bars

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday: Yummy Cherry Cream Cheese Bars, These tasty little treats layer dough with a homemade cherry pie filling, cream cheese, and a sweet glaze. Great way to use fresh cherries!

Have you every picked fresh cherries? Have you ever picked fresh cherries with your children? Those are two very different events, aren’t they? 🙂

Even if it’s a little crazier, it’s definitely a lot more fun when the kids get to take part!

Since Elijah was about two or three, one of our summer traditions has been to help my parents harvest the cherries from their row of cherry trees. We’ve spent a day or two each June picking cherries, and the boys love that they can reach some of the cherries and help Grandma and Grandpa.

They have a wonderful time getting their hands sticky as they fill their buckets and wander from tree to tree, picking a few cherries from each one. Each boy tries to get more cherries than his brother, although Josiah tends to get tired of picking cherries sooner than Elijah is.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday: Yummy Cherry Cream Cheese Bars, These tasty little treats layer dough with a homemade cherry pie filling, cream cheese, and a sweet glaze. Great way to use fresh cherries!

After we take our buckets inside, I get to spend some time that night or the next day separating and pitting whatever my boys and I have collected. Talk about getting tired…

Last year’s picking was especially memorable because it was a very bountiful year, plus on one of the days we went over, we were there the same time as two of Elijah and Josiah’s cousins, so the four boys helped to gather quite a few cherries (when they weren’t chasing each other around the trees)! We ended up with so many cherries that I think I might still have some in the freezer!

This year’s harvest was definitely less impressive, but our family still managed to come away with enough cherries to make something yummy. My sweet mom even pitted them for us (me) before we left their house.

My first step when I have fresh cherries is either to go ahead and freeze them or to make homemade cherry pie filling. I have found a really tasty recipe for cherry pie filling over at Crumbs and Chaos.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday: Yummy Cherry Cream Cheese Bars, These tasty little treats layer dough with a homemade cherry pie filling, cream cheese, and a sweet glaze. Great way to use fresh cherries!

Since I’m not a huge cherry pie fan, I wanted to find a new recipe to use our cherries in. My parents’ cherry trees produce sour cherries, so I knew it had to be something with enough sweetness to balance the tartness.

I thought about making hand pies with the cherry filling, but then I remembered a cherry pie bar I made last year with some of our bounty. However, this year I couldn’t find the recipe that I used. Instead I came across another one that I had saved a while ago, one that adds a cream cheese layer to the bars.

Cream cheese? Why, yes. I think we will try that! 🙂

I don’t think I’ll even need to worry about that other cherry pie bar recipe.

These Cherry Cream Cheese Bars by Inspired by Charm are delicious. The cream cheese and the almond extract really set these cherry bars apart. While they are a little involved, with all the layering you have to do, they are worth it!

They were great while they were still slightly warm (though kind of messy to cut), and they were really yummy once they were cooled completely, but they are perfect when topped with some vanilla ice cream. I took them to our family reunion over the weekend, and everyone else loved them as much as we did.

I’m pretty certain you will, too.

Here’s how I made these Yummy Cherry Cream Cheese Bars.

Yummy Cherry Cream Cheese Bars

Yummy Cherry Cream Cheese Bars

Homemade cherry pie filling plus a smooth cream cheese layer combine to make a delicious bar, perfect on its own or a la mode.

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 1 cup Butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp. Almond Extract
  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 (21-oz) cans of Cherry Pie Filling or about 5-1/2 cups homemade cherry pie filling
    For the cream cheese layer
  • 1 (8 oz.) package Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1 egg
    For the glaze
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp. Almond Extract
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Heavy Cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 15x10x1-inch baking sheet.
  3. Cream together butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.
  5. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts.
  6. Combine flour and baking powder in small bowl.
  7. Add flour mixture into butter mixture gradually, about one cup at a time, mixing after each addition.
  8. Spread about 2-1/2 cups of batter onto the prepared baking sheet. (Dough will be a little sticky.)
  9. In a small mixing bowl, beat together softened cream cheese, sugar, and egg until smooth and creamy.
  10. Add the cream cheese layer on top of the batter layer in the pan.
  11. Carefully spread the cherry pie filling as your next layer, on top of the cream cheese.
  12. Dropping by spoonfuls, add the remaining batter as the top layer. (Again, dough is sticky.)
  13. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top layer is golden brown.
  14. Cool completely.
  15. While bars cool, combine powdered sugar and vanilla and almond extracts.
  16. Slowly add the cream and milk until the right consistency is reached for the glaze.
  17. Drizzle glaze over the cooled cherry bars.

*Note: When I made these, my batter overflowed the pan in the oven, even though it was the correctly sized pan. Keep an eye on them when you first put them in.

http://lifeinlapehaven.com/2016/06/28/cherry-cream-cheese-bars/

 

The Most Annoying Pregnancy Symptom that I’d Never Heard of

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Annoying Pregnancy Symptom that I'd Never Heard of. When I was pregnant with my first child, there was one symptom - a persistent bad taste in my mouth - that was more annoying and frustrating than any other symptom I faced. Here's how I dealt with it and what I've learned about dysgeusia, the bitter, sour, metallic taste in my mouth when I'm pregnant.

When I started suspecting a few months ago that I might be pregnant, I was hesitant to take a test because my symptoms were a little different than what I’d experienced with my previous two pregnancies.  I mean, being tired and having dizzy spells could easily be explained away as just being an exhausted mom of two active boys. The couple weeks of tenderness in my chest, though, was bit more what I was used to. However, even that wasn’t what I was looking for.

There was one symptom that I KNEW from my previous pregnancies that meant I was pregnant, without a doubt, and I wasn’t experiencing it.

With my first pregnancy, when this symptom hit, I didn’t know what to make of it. I’d never heard it listed among the classic “you must be pregnant” things, such as morning sickness, tiredness, sensitivity to smells, and food cravings. In fact, I’d never heard of it at all.

However, it was one of the first things that I had, and it made me the most miserable. Oh, and it lasted ALL NINE MONTHS!

What was it? A horrible, persistent, nasty taste in my mouth.

Sometimes bitter, sometimes metallic, sometimes sourish or just plain indescribably gross, the taste would cause me to gag or have to spit all day (and night) long. It was only gone when I was eating something. Once I didn’t have something in my mouth, it came back with a vengeance.  Also, I found that eating certain foods, like milk or anything sweet, made it even worse.

From the first time I ate something in the morning, usually a cracker or toast even before I got out of bed (thank you, morning sickness) until I was finally able to fall asleep despite it, the taste was there.

At first my doctor and other experienced mothers suggested it might be caused by acid reflux or heartburn, both common during pregnancy. However, even taking medicine for heartburn didn’t change the taste.

I know now that it is somehow connected to all the crazy changing hormones.

As I started researching how to deal with this gag-inducing taste, I found out that it was way more common than I thought. It’s called dysgeusia.

Even though I also dealt with numerous other common pregnancy side effects: nausea, fatigue, sensitivity to smells, crying way easier than normal, heartburn, and food aversions, the bad taste in my mouth was seriously the MOST ANNOYING, FRUSTRATING thing about being pregnant.

I tried chewing gum, but found out that anything with artificial sugar made me even more nauseated, as did anything bubble gum flavored. Mints aggravated my heartburn.

It was super fun.

When Elijah was born, the taste was gone immediately.

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Annoying Pregnancy Symptom that I'd Never Heard of. When I was pregnant with my first child, there was one symptom - a persistent bad taste in my mouth - that was more annoying and frustrating than any other symptom I faced. Here's how I dealt with it and what I've learned about dysgeusia, the bitter, sour, metallic taste in my mouth when I'm pregnant.

Then, when I woke up one morning a few years later with a horrible taste in my mouth, I knew there was only one thing it could be. Our second baby was on his way, and I was about to face another nine months of yucky dysgeusia.

During that pregnancy, I tried lots of things to get rid of the taste. Lemon drops and cinnamon disks helped some, but the candy irritated my tongue after a while and had a lot of sugar.

Eventually I discovered that salt helped to neutralize the taste for a while, so I began swishing salt water and sucking on sunflower seeds all the time.

Again the taste plagued me for all nine months, and it actually seemed worse than the first pregnancy. However, I took some comfort in its presence after talking with my mom’s neighbor lady.

She was a mother to six children, and she had dealt with the dysgeusia with some of her pregnancies, too. When the taste was there, she had healthy, successful pregnancies. When it was absent, she miscarried.

So, while it was super annoying, it was a sign that things were going well with my baby, which was the most important thing.

Once again, when the baby was born, the taste went away immediately.

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Annoying Pregnancy Symptom that I'd Never Heard of. When I was pregnant with my first child, there was one symptom - a persistent bad taste in my mouth - that was more annoying and frustrating than any other symptom I faced. Here's how I dealt with it and what I've learned about dysgeusia, the bitter, sour, metallic taste in my mouth when I'm pregnant.

Now I know that there are some really rough pregnancies symptoms that I’ve never faced, such as actually throwing up all nine months or dealing with an illness while pregnant. And I also know that some women would happily go through anything just to be pregnant and have a baby.

I’m just saying that for as annoying as this symptom is – having to spend your days constantly battling not to gag on your own saliva – and having heard from several other mothers who have struggled with it, I’m surprised to have never heard about it before I lived with it for nine months…twice.

However, like any mother will tell you, my babies are worth whatever I have to go through to have them. Absolutely.

Which brings me back to my most recent baby on board.

After wondering about my unusual (for me) symptoms for a week or more, I finally decided to find out one way or the other, even though I wasn’t dealing with a nasty taste.

When I took the pregnancy test, I wasn’t as positive this time around that it would positive, and I was a little surprised when it was. (So was Brad. Haha.)

In the back of my mind, I was a little worried due to what my mother’s neighbor had said before, but I was also a little excited to think that I might face a yucky-taste-free pregnancy for a change.

Until about a week later, when I woke up to my old friend, dysgeusia, and it was pregnancy as normal for me once more.

This time around, it seems even more intense, so I’ve had to find new solutions for dealing with it. I can’t even handle the smell of sunflower seeds now, so they aren’t an option. (Nine months of them one time was apparently enough for me.)

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Annoying Pregnancy Symptom that I'd Never Heard of. When I was pregnant with my first child, there was one symptom - a persistent bad taste in my mouth - that was more annoying and frustrating than any other symptom I faced. Here's how I dealt with it and what I've learned about dysgeusia, the bitter, sour, metallic taste in my mouth when I'm pregnant.

(The following links are affiliate links to products that have helped me this time around. This means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you use the link to make a purchase.)

I’ve found that butterscotch disks and Gin Gins candies seem to help some, although not so much on some days as others.  Mostly I’m going with salty things, such as Salt & Vinegar chips, slices of cheddar cheese, or just sprinkling salt into my mouth (I’ve been using Redmond’s Real Salt, which has trace minerals in it), and sipping really cold water.

As annoying and frustrating as it is, I only have a little over six more months to tough it out.  I can handle that. And on the days that it feels overwhelming and discouraging, I just look over at my two precious boys.

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Annoying Pregnancy Symptom that I'd Never Heard of. When I was pregnant with my first child, there was one symptom - a persistent bad taste in my mouth - that was more annoying and frustrating than any other symptom I faced. Here's how I dealt with it and what I've learned about dysgeusia, the bitter, sour, metallic taste in my mouth when I'm pregnant.

I remind myself that I’ve already made it through 18 months of my life with this silly symptom, and the rewards for those months are pretty amazing.

I can’t wait to meet this next one.

 

MOMS, WHAT WAS YOUR WORST PREGNANCY SYMPTOM?

The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting I’ve Ever Made

Tried It Tuesday: The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting I've Ever Made. Easily the most delicious buttercream icing recipe I've made. Simple, quick, tasty, and not too sweet. Perfect for cakes and cupcakes.

This year for his birthday, Elijah wanted to have his party at our local state park because he wanted to go fishing as part of his day.

With Elijah’s birthday party being outside at the park, our party food had to be easy and portable, especially knowing that all the kids would be distracted by the nearby playground and fishing dock. Plus the party was in the mid-afternoon, so lots of food just wasn’t necessary. As a result, we went with really simple fare with a bit of a fishing and water theme: cupcakes (decorated with blue shark gummies in “water” frosting), whale crackers, and watermelon.

Tried It Tuesday: The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting I've Ever Made. Easily the most delicious buttercream icing recipe I've made. Simple, quick, tasty, and not too sweet. Perfect for cakes and cupcakes.

We allowed for lots of time for Elijah, Josiah, and their cousins to play on the playground and fish from the dock, so this was one of the easiest parties I’ve ever planned and one of the most relaxing (minus keeping little boys from casting into each other accidentally while they fished…)

Doing cupcakes instead of a large cake was a given, but frosting is a tricky thing with hot temperatures. I was hesitant to use a buttercream, but after a different frosting recipe totally flopped for me (I plan to try it again sometime, though, so stay tuned), I decided we could make a buttercream icing work.

For one, we kept the cupcakes in the refrigerator until the last possible minute before we left. Once we were at the park and had served everyone, we kept the leftovers in the cooler. They did really well. Plus, I think the sprinkled sugar I put on top (to add a little color and mimic water) helped keep the frosting from getting too sticky on top. 🙂

I researched some recipes before I made the frosting because I wanted for-sure proportions for the icing rather than just tossing some butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a splash of milk into my mixer like I usually do.

Tried It Tuesday: The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting I've Ever Made. Easily the most delicious buttercream icing recipe I've made. Simple, quick, tasty, and not too sweet. Perfect for cakes and cupcakes.

I’m so glad I did.

The recipe I chose was titled, “The Best Vanilla Buttercream,” and I have to agree with them on that. It IS the best vanilla buttercream I’ve ever used.

I made a double batch since I had 48 cupcakes to cover, but I probably would have had enough from a single batch since I’m apparently not a heavy froster. However, there really is nothing wrong with having extra buttercream left over. It should freeze well enough, and I know we won’t let it go to waste.

While I tend to tweak every recipe I try, this one I followed pretty much exactly. I did, however, use a little heavy cream as part of the milk, just because it seems to make icing a little bit fluffier and yummier.

So, here you go: The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting I’ve Ever Made

The Best Vanilla Buttercream Frosting I’ve Ever Made

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) Butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tbl. Milk
  • 2 Tbl. Heavy Cream

Instructions

  1. In mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing in one cup at a time.
  3. Add vanilla, milk, and cream.
  4. Beat together until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
http://lifeinlapehaven.com/2016/06/21/best-vanilla-buttercream-frosting/

We Prayed. He Answered.

For over a year, Elijah has been praying faithfully for one thing. Every night when we say our bedtime prayers, his very first words are, “Dear Jesus, thank You for this day. Please help Mommy to have another baby…”

And it’s not just habit. I’ve asked him about it. He has been praying, believing, and full of faith that God will answer his prayers. In fact, as I shared back in October, he is so confident that he was checking my belly for a baby after only three nights of praying. He has since checked a couple others times, as well.

With that kind of persistence and faith, it wasn’t long before Josiah took up the cause, too, adding “Thank you for the baby in Mommy’s tummy,” to his own prayers.

Of course, Brad and I have been praying, as well, but not just that we would have another child, but rather, that we would have another child if that was God’s plan for us and our family. We’ve prayed and sought God’s will and timing for each of our children, and we’ve never set a definite number for how big or small our family would be because we believe that God has a say in this, one of the most important areas of our lives. We’ve always used “precaution” until we felt that God said, “Ok, it’s time to have a baby.” And that might sound silly to some, waiting for God’s leading in when you have children, but I know with both of our boys, that once we knew we had His green light, I was pregnant within a few weeks. (I love how my friend Denise explains their approach to growing their family. She says it so well, and it’s exactly the way that Brad and I have looked at it.)

Life in Lape Haven: We Prayed. He Answered. Our boys have been praying for over a year for God to give them a new sibling. My husband and I have been praying for God's direction. We finally have an answer.

So, with Elijah and Josiah both praying for a sibling, Brad and I began really asking God what He had planned for us, and while three children had always been a consideration for us, we weren’t certain and needed to know.

Then one day I felt God tell me, “Be open to four.”

I laughed at first, not necessarily because I didn’t believe God could give us four, but because that would be just like God to say, “This is what you think the plan is, but here is what MY plan is.”

And knowing that Brad was still trying to wrap his mind around the possibility of three, four would be kind of a leap ahead.

When I told Brad, I said, “Maybe it’s because we’re supposed to have one more and then adopt. Maybe we’ll have twins, maybe we’ll adopt two. I don’t know. Maybe God just wants to remind us that we don’t want to box Him in. We need to be open to whatever He has for us because no matter what it is, it will be better than our plans anyway.”

So we have been prayerfully awaiting God’s direction for our family.

And now we have an answer, at least the next part of it.

We are happy to announce that in December, we will be welcoming Baby Lape #3 to our family.

Life in Lape Haven: We Prayed. He Answered. Our boys have been praying for over a year for God to give them a new sibling. My husband and I have been praying for God's direction. We finally have an answer.

(We have been assured by the ultrasound tech that there is only one baby. Since my dad is a twin and twins run in my family, I always have her double check.)

Our boys are ecstatic, and so are we. We know from experience how love multiplies and makes room for more, so we are very excited to meet our newest addition.

The boys are both hoping for a girl, since, as Elijah says, “We don’t have any girls in our house except for you, Mommy,” but Brad and I will be happy either way. We have everything we’d need for a boy, and we’re getting pretty good with raising them. Of course, we’d also love a girl, which would end the boy-streak on my side of the family (all grandsons – 8 in a row), give Brad and I both a chance to experience raising a daughter, and mean that we’d have some fun shopping to do. (We’ll find out the gender at the end of July.)

For now we are just celebrating this new tiny little life, planning for all the transitions and new adventures we’ll be facing as a family, and the boys’ prayers (and our) have switched to “Thank Yous” and prayers for the baby’s safe development over the next months and help for Mommy with all the pregnancy “fun.”

I love that our boys get to see God answering their prayers, and I’m thankful that they had to wait a while for that answer to come. They are learning early on that God’s timing doesn’t always match ours, but if we trust Him and His plan with faith and patience, we’ll be blessed no matter how or when He answers.

Life in Lape Haven: We Prayed. He Answered. Our boys have been praying for over a year for God to give them a new sibling. My husband and I have been praying for God's direction. We finally have an answer.

Images courtesy of Picture Bliss Photography.

How Darth Vader Helped Me Encourage My Child to Choose God’s Way

Life in Lape Haven: How Darth Vader Helped Me Encourage My Child to Choose God's Way - Sometimes the most random conversations with your children can be God's open door to planting seeds and building your child's spiritual, faith foundation, even one about Darth Vader and Star Wars.

Have you ever had one of those conversations with your kids where it starts out with a really random question from your child, but then God opens the door to allow you to share something important or foundational for their faith? Do yours involve Star Wars, too?

This week a seemingly out-of-nowhere question from Elijah led us into a discussion about sin and how we all get to decide whether we are going to do things God’s way or not…all while talking about Darth Vader and armies.

It all started as we were driving along the backroads, heading home from my brother’s house where the boys had enjoyed a playdate with their cousins that afternoon.

Not far down the road, Elijah asked me, “What does the army do?”

At first, I asked him to repeat the question, because my first thoughts when he asked were spent trying to figure out what he was thinking. They hadn’t played “soldiers” that day, there weren’t any signs or billboards around to spark the thought, and no one had been talking about anything remotely related to the military that I could remember, so this seemed like a pretty random train of thought. (I’m sure it wasn’t for him…)

So, in an attempt to give him the simple answer, I told him that the army helps protect us and fights against bad guys in the world.

His reply was, “Like Star Wars.”

Again, I had to try to follow his thought process. “What do you mean?”

“Like the Resistance fights the Storm Troopers.” (He finally got to see the newest movie.)

“Ok. Yes. I guess so. The Rebel Alliance and the Resistance fight against the bad guys, like Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers.” (Sorry if you aren’t a Star Wars fan…we kind of are around here. We were basically talking about how the good guys battle the bad guys in the movies.)

Then Elijah said, “Well, Darth Vader was kind of good.” (Because right before he dies, Vader admits that the stuff he did was bad, and he helps to save Luke’s life despite almost 3 movies of being the bad guy.)

And just like that, the conversation shifted, and God showed me a teachable moment and gave me the words to share.

“Well, Darth Vader did kind of say he was sorry, and he did something good at the end. And no matter what we’ve done or when we ask, God will forgive us. But just think about how much of his life was wasted, spent hurting people and doing bad things instead of helping people and doing good. It would have been a whole different story if Darth Vader had chosen to do what was right rather than go along with the ‘Dark Side.’ But he kept choosing to do bad things, over and over again, until almost the last moment.”

Elijah thought about that for a second, and then, like a true big brother and human, he tried to justify himself based on someone else- his little brother: “Well, sometimes, Josiah makes me do bad things.” (I think he was remembering earlier in the day when the boys were arguing, and by Josiah arguing back and not letting Elijah boss him around, Josiah “made” Elijah shove him.)

So, I told Elijah that no matter what someone else does, we still ALWAYS have the choice about how we are going to behave.

“You know that God wants us to be loving, forgiving, helpful, kind, giving, and patient, right? You already know what God wants you to do. But the problem is that we don’t always want to do what is right. In fact, since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, we all tend to want to do the wrong things. We don’t want to share, or be helpful, or be obedient. When Josiah isn’t sharing with you, your first thought is probably NOT that you should be kind to him, is it? It’s to get angry and be mean right back to him. So, you have to choose how you are going to behave. That’s why we need Jesus. He gives us the heart and the power to want to do the right things. So no matter what, you have a choice to either do things His way or not, no matter what Josiah or anyone else does. You get to choose, and He will help you if you let Him.”

Life in Lape Haven: How Darth Vader Helped Me Encourage My Child to Choose God's Way - Sometimes the most random conversations with your children can be God's open door to planting seeds and building your child's spiritual, faith foundation, even one about Darth Vader and Star Wars.

Elijah was pretty quiet for a while after that, and then moved on to talking about something completely different, but I’m fairly certain his heart received at least some of the message.

So, parents, make sure you’re listening, not just to your children’s questions but to how God wants you to answer them.  Sometimes the most random conversations can be used to plant seeds and leave an eternal impact.

The Ministry of the Maintenance Man

Life in Lape Haven: The Ministry of the Maintenance Man. While it takes a lot of people to make a wedding come together well, one of the most important people at our friends' recent wedding was the seemingly behind the scenes maintenance man who did represented his church and Jesus well.

This past weekend, our family had the joy of celebrating the wedding of some very dear friends who are really more like family.

Having known the groom, Jeremy, since he was a sophomore in high school and I was one of his youth leaders, he’s kind of like another little brother to me. When he and Brad met not long after Brad and I started dating, the two guys became close friends pretty quickly.  In fact, Brad had the honor of serving as the Best Man this weekend, which meant we were involved with lots of the pre-wedding events leading up to the big day.

Knowing all the behind the scenes things that need to happen before a bride walks down the aisle, both from planning our own wedding and others that we’ve either been in or helped with, Brad and I were more than willing to do whatever they needed us to so that Jeremy and his beautiful bride, Rachel, could have a wonderful event on Saturday.

We made the over-two-hour trip to northeast Ohio on Thursday so that Brad and the other groomsmen could take Jeremy on his bachelor outing of rock climbing, shooting, and dinner that evening. Then on Friday, we joined others from the bridal party and the bride’s family in a day of decorating and rehearsal.

Life in Lape Haven: The Ministry of the Maintenance Man. While it takes a lot of people to make a wedding come together well, one of the most important people at our friends' recent wedding was the seemingly behind the scenes maintenance man who did represented his church and Jesus well.

That was when we all met Mike, the maintenance man at Jeremy and Rachel’s church. He was an older man, about my parents’ age, and he was there to basically let us into the church and the student center (where the reception would be held) and show us where everything was that we might need. However, he did much more than that.

From the moment we stepped into the first building to decorate for the reception, he was a cheerful presence, quick to help out and gracious about any request or questions we had. Nothing was an inconvenience to him. He was great with my boys (which all moms know is the key to our hearts), allowing them to be little boys. He even gave them permission to run a few laps in the sanctuary later, which I had to veto not long after when they started trying to climb over the pews!

Life in Lape Haven: The Ministry of the Maintenance Man. While it takes a lot of people to make a wedding come together well, one of the most important people at our friends' recent wedding was the seemingly behind the scenes maintenance man who did represented his church and Jesus well.

While talking about my boys, he shared with me about how he came to Jesus in his 30s and how he knew God’s timing was in that because his children got to witness firsthand how his life changed completely from who he was before Christ to the new man he became.

Mike found great joy in being able to help Jeremy & Rachel prepare for their special day, and he did his best to take on any task he could to help alleviate their stress or nervousness. Since that was my mission, too, when I wasn’t corralling my boys, he would tell me things that someone needed to know but ones that he didn’t want to bother the bride and groom with at the moment, such as where the candles were for the candelabras on the platform or asking to make sure that everything went well with the rehearsal and sound.

On the day of the wedding, he was there just as early as we were, keeping Jeremy informed about rearranged tables and such and, again, trying to do what he could to help.

Life in Lape Haven: The Ministry of the Maintenance Man. While it takes a lot of people to make a wedding come together well, one of the most important people at our friends' recent wedding was the seemingly behind the scenes maintenance man who did represented his church and Jesus well.

While the bridal party, Brad included, were getting ready and Jeremy was in the lobby getting his pictures, I tried to keep my boys out of the way and busy with coloring in the sanctuary. They had been really good over the busy day before and were excited that it was “wedding day,” so they were having a hard time not wanting to be in on everything that was going on. That’s when Josiah decided to use his red crayon to draw a nice long line down the light-colored pew, right on the front of the seat back, so it was very obvious. As soon as I saw it, I cringed. I knew it was NOT the washable kind of crayon. Then I glanced up, and I could see Jeremy through the double doors, posing for the photographer, and I cringed again.

There was no way I was going to bother him with this, but I knew just who to find to help me out.

Life in Lape Haven: The Ministry of the Maintenance Man. While it takes a lot of people to make a wedding come together well, one of the most important people at our friends' recent wedding was the seemingly behind the scenes maintenance man who did represented his church and Jesus well.

Not two minutes later, there was Mike, walking through the front doors, so I hurried over to him. Knowing how kind and patient he had been with my children the day before, I knew he would be understanding with this little disaster. Even still, I hated to have to tell him. (If your child has ever damaged or destroyed someone else’s property, even accidentally, I’m sure you know how I felt.) Quickly and quietly I explained that my 3-year-old had gotten a little carried away with his coloring, and I apologized. (I did try to clean it off as best I could without making it worse. Note: My old reliable, hand sanitizer, did help a little but not enough.)

His response was exactly what I’d come to expect from him, “That’s ok. We have children in here every Sunday, and we have this all the time. Show me which pew it is, and we’ll take care of it.”

I had Josiah apologize, and even though I could tell he didn’t want to do it, I could also tell that he wasn’t afraid of Mike’s reaction either. Mike simply said, “It’s ok. I’ll fix it. But now you know not to do that again, huh?” And that was it. He reassured me that it happened often and that he had a cleaner that would take it right out. He told me not to worry about it.

I know from my years of growing up in the church that some people would have reacted differently, berating my child or me for desecrating God’s house or being very put out with the situation. Thankfully, this man showed us compassion and grace.

Beyond telling Brad, Mike and I neither one mentioned it to anyone else, least of all Jeremy or Rachel. (I guess now they’ll know 🙂 …)

Life in Lape Haven: The Ministry of the Maintenance Man. While it takes a lot of people to make a wedding come together well, one of the most important people at our friends' recent wedding was the seemingly behind the scenes maintenance man who did represented his church and Jesus well.

Of all the wonderful people we met this weekend (and there were many), Mike left the biggest impact on my heart simply by being a joyful, willing, humble servant who was eager to help beyond his job description to make my friends’ wedding goes as smoothly as possible and who shared God’s love with all of us. He not only represented his church well, but Christ well, too. He used his generally behind-the-scenes position to minister to everyone he came into contact with.

So even though the photographer was great, the pastor who officiated was wise and eloquent, and the caterers provided us with some delicious food, it was the maintenance man who contributed the most to a beautiful day for us all.

Thanks, Mike!