Gingerbread House Rubric

Having a Gingerbread House competition this December? You may want to use this rubric for the judges. I’m tired of putting my blood, sweat and tears into these houses only to lose with no explanation. (Yes, like nutmeg, I’m bitter about it) Finally we have a solid foundation for our competitors to construct their sweet victory. No more biased judging. Next up: a rubric for those ugly sweaters.DSC04610.JPG

5 Points 3 Points 1 Point
Neatness House is well built, structurally sound. Frosting is clearly intended to be placed where it is seen. No mess. House is built, frosting is seen with little to no mess. House is structurally unstable or mistakenly fallen, messy.
Theme Creative, clear theme that can be recognized without explanation. Strong theme that can be articulated well. No sign of a theme.
Intent Any use of non-edible items are completely hidden or used to enhance theme. Non-edible items are seen and do not enhance the theme. Non-edible items overshadow the gingerbread house.
Taste House looks appetizing. A variety of tastes are included in the house to appeal to a variety of palates. House looks appetizing, a small selection of flavors are presented. House does not look appetizing. House does not look like something worthy of enjoying.
Community Team works and converses well. It is clear that they are building friendships as they build the house. Team converses as they build the house, minor irritations may be demonstrated throughout the build. Much like an unstable home, team fails at being unified. Friendships crumble.



Three ways anyone can prepare for a natural disaster

“Are you ok? Just saw on the news there was a tornado near you!” flashes across your phone screen. Are you ready? Have you prepared for a tornado or other natural disaster to hit your hometown? After seeing firsthand the devastation that hit Van, Texas I have put together some thoughts on how anyone can prepare for a natural disaster. At the end of the day, no one can be fully prepared for a natural disaster, However, biblical friendships, understanding where your treasure lies and trusting the Lord will give you a foundation to face this uncertainty.

  • Have connections with friends and neighbors

Disasters can wipe out as much as entire neighborhoods or as little as your electricity. Either way, having strong connections with your friends and neighbors will give you a safe-house. If everything is lost, you will have connections to fill not only your physical needs, but spiritual ones as well. Seeking not just friendships, but friendships with those walking with the Lord is important as seen in Proverbs 13:20 “He who walks with the wise grows wise…” As a bonus, biblical friendships will help you with the two other two points below

  • Do not put your hope in your belongings

This one is a little more difficult for me. Are you ready to lose it all? How important are your belongings? Ecclesiastes five talks about the meaninglessness of money “whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so are those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them” The point is we can never be fully satisfied with what we have. Fortunately, Ecclesiastes five also offers a solution to this dissatisfaction:

18 I have seen what is good. It is good for a person to eat and drink. It’s good for them to be satisfied with their hard work on this earth. That’s what they should do during the short life God has given them. That’s what God made them for. 19 Sometimes God gives a person wealth and possessions. God makes it possible for that person to enjoy them. God helps them accept the life he has given them. God helps them to be happy in their work. All these things are gifts from God. 20 A person like that doesn’t have to think about how their life is going. That’s because God fills their heart with joy. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

God wants you to enjoy your possessions, but your focus should be on the Giver, not the gift. When you realize that you have everything you need from God, you will be content with what you have- even if it is completely destroyed.

  • Trust

I want to build myself a storm shelter, stock it full of canned tuna and consider myself safe. However, even these shelters have been known to fail. The Bible tells us that God takes care of us and gives us what we need (Matthew 6:26). This does not mean that you will not suffer even experience loss. You can still ask God for safety as seen in Psalms 86:1-7. Furthermore Psalms 46 talks about how you can not fear even when the earth gives way. Putting your trust in the Lord will take the stress and worry off you. Additionally, keep account of the times God has came through for you. this will serve to remind you of his faithfulness in times of difficulty.

How to make Malawian Nsima and Ndwino

Nsima and Ndwino are staples in the Malawian diet. Nsima is similar to a porridge, but thick enough to pick up with your fingers. Ndwino is best compared to cooked spinach. Check out the recipes below and make them for yourself!




  • One cup of Cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 Cup water


Pour water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly add half of the cornmeal while stirring. Stir continuously continue to cook until the mixture begins to boil. Add the remaining cornmeal slowly. Continue to stir until desired constancy is reached.

Nsima should cool for a few minutes before serving warm. Tear off bits of the nsima with your hands and use them to scoop Ndwio.



  • 2.5 cups frozen baby kale
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. Oil
  • 1 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste


Saute onions in oil until tender. Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or until kale is tender

Serve with nsima.


A story about Africa

Have you ever gotten absorbed into a story only to realize that it isn’t even finished yet? A story that can use your help to compete? That is exactly what will happen with the book below. Take a look at a book that has received the following quotes from notable writers-

“It’s cute (smile emoji)” -Frank’s Mom

“That is not how you spell Skillz” -Robert (a guy)

“Please stop contacting us, we do not want to provide a quote” -New York Times

IMG_3009IMG_3010 IMG_3011IMG_3012IMG_3013IMG_3014IMG_3015IMG_3016IMG_3017IMG_3018   IMG_3019IMG_3021 IMG_3022   IMG_3023

As the book describes, in 2009 I took a short-term missions trip to Malawi, Africa- one of the poorest countries in the world- with Circle Of Hope International. In Malawi, Circle of Hope ministers to abused, orphaned and vulnerable children through education, feeding programs and orphanages. Six years after my first trip, I felt a tug on my heart to see if I could use any of the skills I have acquired to help in Malawi.

As it turns out there is an opportunity for me this summer! I will have three main tasks while I am in Malawi-

  • First, I will be using my degree in Elementary Education to mentor and encourage some of the 100 Malawian teachers employed by Circle of Hope.
  • Second, I will use my experience in camping to help two Americans develop child evangelism and recreation activities for the orphan program which now serves nearly 1,000 daily.
  • Third, I will lead a Bible study with some of the oldest orphans and hopefully teach them about what my faith means to me.

Please contact me directly if you are interested in financially supporting this trip.

More than anything, I need your prayers.  Please pray for my personal growth with Christ surrounding this trip. Pray for my ability to mentor Malawian teachers with my limited teaching experience. Pray for my team as we prepare recreation for an overwhelming number of children. Pray that I will be able to accurately communicate the gospel and encourage these children to share it! Thank you for your faithful support!



Where are the men?

I recently welcomed people into an evening college worship service and noticed a very obvious demographic. Women. I would watch floods of women walk into the event followed by a small group of men. Then more women. This isn’t only a trend for college events, churches and Christian non-profits are reporting a lack of men in attendance.


Let me stop here to applaud women. This post is not written to criticize the number of women in the church, but rather to encourage men to step it up. I have personally known a number of godly women who have been turned away from volunteer positions. While Christian non-profits are so hungry for men they will accept just about any man who can stumble his way through some scripture.

Men, it is time to step it up. It is time to take your faith seriously. Hebrews 5:11-14 talks about applying the basics of Christianity to your life.

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (‭Hebrews‬ ‭5‬:‭11-14‬ ESV)

So I ask you, men, are you still on milk? Can you distinguish good from evil? Can you recognize a correct use of scripture from a mistaken one? Here is a simple test, look at the choices you make- which of the following describe you?

  • Makes mature choices -or- Makes immature choices
  • Teaches others -or- Is only being taught
  • Seeking unity -or- promoting disunity
  • Desires spiritual challenges -or- Desires entertainment
  • Active in faith -or- Full of apathy and doubt
  • Full of confidence -or- Full of fear

(this list has been modified from the Life Application Study Bible)

Men, stop letting the girls take all the ministry positions. It has never been easier for you to be welcomed to volunteer at a church. Stop living on milk and watered down scripture, step it up.

The remaining question: with a surplus of Christian women, why am I still single?

Salted Caramel Apple Crisp

How do you get over a dozen caramel apples for free?

Host a birthday party the day after a big wedding- you may be surprised by the leftover party favors that walk through your door.

The better question is what do you do with all of these free apples?

My parents were conservative with money. I never took a shower over five minutes, air conditioning didn’t come on unless it was in the triple digits and heat wasn’t an option until November. NO EXCEPTIONS!

So October 6th, 2014 the day after my 27th birthday I had to get creative with the 12 apples staring at me from the kitchen. There is no way I could throw all of these away. “Why that would be a waste of money (in a dad voice.)”

So I ate one.

11 to go.

Then I decided to make an apple crisp.

IMG_2650 (1)

It turned out wonderful. Here are the instructions-

Frank’s Salted Caramel Apple Crisp

-12 or so green caramel apples (leftover from a wedding preferred)

– 1 Cup of Each Sugar, Flour, Oatmeal

– 1 Stick of Butter

– Some Spices

– Vanilla

– Salt

Heat Oven to 375 Grease a 13×9 inch pan (with some of the butter). Cut apples into 1/4 inch slices leaving as much caramel as possible. Add more caramel to taste. Sprinkle mixture with cinnamon and add to pan.

In a bowl, mix sugar, flour, oats. and melted butter. The mixture should be “clumpy” like the top of apple crisp, but still kinda dry. (So like sandy apple crisp). Oh! also add some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. I never measure spices so just spice as you feel- the more the better in my book). Add this mixture to the top of the apples, sprinkle with course salt and carmel. Bake for 30 min.

My friend Becca saw this on instagram. She thought it looked so good she asked for me to mail some to her. I asked for her address. She got so excited, little does she know that I simply sent her a card that says-