Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Practical Timeline, Part 2

In my last timeline, I finished up with 18 months. Because we are heading into another touchy subject, I want to remind anyone who reads this of my disclaimer that every family and every child is different. While this is what works for our family, your child may have different needs or your family may be going through different circumstances that dictate the need to do things differently.

22 months-ish: I really start to become even more intentional about teaching our children scripture at this age because they are talking really well and should be capable of repeating short verses after me. I call whatever verse we are learning "our verse of the week", but in actuality, I will teach it for as long as it takes for them to learn it. Sometimes, they can learn a verse in one week, but sometimes it may take three, depending on the length of the verse. I believe I've already mentioned that we start with Colossians 3:20, but very soon thereafter, we move onto verses that deal with behavior issues, such as sharing or whining or fear. These are more than behavior issues; they are also heart issues, so the verses are also used to correct and train in righteousness. Eventually, we use the book My ABC Bible Verses by Sharon Hunt. Once all of those verses are learned, I look at what's going on in my children's lives to determine what character needs to be built and choose verses to memorize accordingly.

22 - 24 months: If your child is showing good signs of being ready to potty train, now may be a good time to do it. Using the techniques described in the book Potty Train Your Child in Just One Day by Teri Crane, our oldest daughter was trained in just four days, just six weeks shy of her second birthday. Our second daughter took maybe a week at the same age. Our third daughter showed signs of readiness even earlier because she was seeing her big sisters go on the potty, but I hesitated knowing that we were soon expecting a baby and I didn't want her to need to be retrained after going through the shock of a new child in the house. I did decide to train her at the same age as we had with her big sisters, but surprisingly she took a little longer, maybe a month. After such ease with the older two, and with her interest expressed as early as 18 months, I was taken aback, but it did stick after her baby brother arrived, with only just a few accidents.

Now, with the success of the girls at such a young age, I still don't see that I will begin so early with a boy. We'll see in another year or so how he's doing.

Some of you reading may think that the title of the book is crazy, that there's no way that works. I wouldn't believed it myself if I hadn't known someone else that followed the same techniques, and the couple I knew that used it before us had a boy. I have friends who were going through the same training as us at the same time, also with a boy, who had great success. Read for yourself and see what you think. I believe it most important to look at your child's readiness signs. If they are there, next make the commitment that it is time to learn. Don't look back. Pull-ups can delay being fully trained (though we do use them at night until nighttime readiness occurs). Move onto big boy or girl underwear in one full swoop despite any accidents that my occur. Your child shouldn't get stressed if you also keep yourself calm. Do that by going into your private prayer closet!

*Cloth diapers also prepared us in this area. Cloth diapered babies often train faster because they know the feeling of being wet better than disposable diapered babies.

Two years: We begin bringing our children into the sanctuary for special church services. Our second daughter turned two near Christmas, so there were several services in a row that were particularly special, and she never wanted to go back to the nursery, so I kept her out for good. Our youngest is in every service also at 2 and 1/2, but by three years is always our goal.

Three years: At this age, I get even more intentional about doing what we nicknamed "homeschool preschool", making sure that all academic areas are introduced, that they learn how to sit still at a table, use paper and pencil, scissors, basically do anything that they will need to know to be successful in kindergarten. It is fun!

Four years: Nothing new at this age that I can recall, but for us, we did not and will not send our kids to pre-K. Our conviction is that our children need to still be at home at this tender age. My husband and I didn't want to hand them off to someone else for so many hours of the day to be influenced by others so early in their lives. Good teachers can never replace the individual care given by parents and the time for spiritual instruction found at home, especially during a child's formative years.

Five years: Before I get into the school subject, I will say that we don't allow our oldest daughter to go to children's church held during our regular church service. It isn't held every week at our church, but we've recently decided for all of our girls to stay in church with me. When my husband was doing a study for several weeks on the Ten Commandments, we really wanted them there, and we just let that start a new precedent. But really, for five-year-olds, if you send them to school to learn for five to six hours a day, can't you expect them to listen to the pastor for 30 to 45 minutes?
Something could change, but for our oldest, we sent her to public kindergarten. Some homeschoolers may be in shock that with the type of convictions we share with many of them that we would allow any of our children in public school. The reasons for her attendance is that 1) our local primary school (K-2nd grade) is a good school, and 2) we have a connection with the local community that we as a ministry family would not otherwise have if we were homeschooling. Most anyone who meets us in the community meets us as we're introduced as the pastor's family. My husband and daughter have been asked to pray many a morning for the felt needs of the teachers at my daughter's school. It has been great!

Like any parent who has ever been a teacher, I can have a critical eye, and there are some things I might would do differently if it were my classroom, but they are all actions of little consequence. As a Christian parent, I do watch carefully, and should the Lord ever direct my heart to homeschool, I have all the training necessary to do a good job. We watch our family time carefully. Should homework ever take over family evening time, it is likely I will head that direction, but for now, all is good in that department.

In July, I'll have a six-year-old, so here is where my timeline must stop for now. One thing I've wondered, at what point do you allow a child to go into a public restroom alone? For now, I crowd all three of my children into one stall with me, unless no one else is in the restroom. Then, I allow my oldest to go into a stall alone. Smartly, the last time she and another had to go really badly, she went into a stall alone, but waited to exit the stall until I was done with her two sisters so that I could keep an eye on her. I thought she had a brilliant idea! What do you think?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How Can I Keep from Singing?

Music has always been a very important part of my life though I don't read very much of it. Many of the best memories of my childhood revolve around music. My dad briefly went to broadcasting school and was a radio DJ. He had a crazy number of records and I listened to music all the time growing up. I sang in the choir from an early age, requested a mixing board (and received it) for Christmas one year, and always, always sing with the radio. The summer missionaries I worked with one year said of me (and I'm not sure that it was a compliment or if it was a complaint) that no matter which radio station they turned the van radio to, I knew the words.

My dad had a major part in my interest in music, but a certain Titus 2 woman, Jeannie, did too. Jeannie served as the music director at the church my family attended until I was about eleven years old. She did an incredible job preparing the childrens and adult choirs to lead in worship and when she sang, she led your heart to worship as well. I can still hear her in my mind singing "Fill My Cup, Lord" and the words of encouragement that she gave me at choir practice. When I was about six, she encouraged me to find a song to sing, so I chose "Jesus Loves Me" and practiced at home with my parents. The age is significant to me because she didn't push me to sing when I was extremely young because it would be cute, but I think she knew my heart was near to the Kingdom. I was beginning to undersand what worship really was, and it is the standard by which I now set for my children. When my oldest daughter was younger, some people really thought it'd be great for her and few other small kids to sing during worship, but my heart just didn't feel like it was the right time. I didn't want her to begin to seek the applause of man at a young age, but I wanted her to learn to worship. I think it may have to with Jeannie's training in my young life.

So back to more of Jeannie. She found ways to be one-on-one with me. Any time I had a solo to sing with the choir, she practiced alone with me. I know I really needed the help, and that she gave it to others as well. That individual attention is where so much of the heart training for worship was really taught. She prayed with me and helped me give my best efforts for the Lord. I am happy to reflect on her work in my life for this Wednesday's Woman.

Again, if you know a Titus 2 Woman, let me know about her!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Practical Timeline, Part 1

Someone dear to me requested that I do a timeline of the "whens" and "whats" for babies. I'm happy to oblige but with a disclaimer. Every family is different, and every child is different, so what works for my family may be different than what works for yours.

Also, I talk a lot about breastfeeding. I feel like it is so important for the health of the baby and that it can really help mom in so many ways, BUT, I'm no breastfeeding Nazi! You can be a great mom no matter how you decide to feed your baby. I think one of the key things to bear in mind however you feed your baby is to remember that in God's design of a woman nursing her child, it requires mom and baby to be together a lot, to firmly establish that mom is the be-all-end-all for a baby. Sometimes, with formula feeding, moms are more free to be gone for hours on end in a child's early life, or even for several days. I personally don't believe that's good. Be the primary caregiver whether or not you nurse. Enough about all that...

Here's what we've done with our children:

Day 1 : Overcome with instant love for our baby, my husband and I soak in the joys of a new life that God used us and our love to create. Attempt to recover from delivery (maybe I'll share birth stories some day). Begin parenting - no joke. Today is the day we do for our children what is best for them even if they don't like it. Teach baby how to breastfeed until he/she gets it. Unless something is really wrong with the baby, he/she will not starve before your milk comes in or until he/she gets the hang of latching on. You may have to disregard comments from nurses or well meaning family. There are lactation consultants and friends out there who can help. Don't give up! I don't say all of that lightly because I had a really difficult time the first time, and with my third, I had to supplement due to a problem the baby had, but I really do feel it is important.

Day 3 (or whenever you go home from the hospital): Even though all of our children have come to the hospital on the second day to meet their younger siblings, we have found it helpful to sort of reintroduce them to the baby as soon as the baby comes home. While the sibling holds the baby, explain to grandma not to poke the baby in the eye (and all the other safety precautions you may think of), and tell the older child to make sure grandma follows those rules. We believe it is helpful to have all of our children in our home with us, not off at someone else's home during the first days of a newborn's life. The immediate stress pays off in the long run as the family is bonded, and children adjust more quickly the sooner they are introduced to the new norm. Praise God, we've always been able to have family support in the first few days or week of a new baby's life, but in some ways, my children all breathe a big sigh of relief as soon as we are back to our immediate family only being in the house. As soon as extended family are gone, I'm nursing in the living room, as opposed to being away for near an hour at a time every time the baby eats. My presence seems to be reassuring to the older children.

Week Three - Week Six: Go back to church as a whole family. With our summer babies, I went back to church at three weeks old, but with our cold and flu season baby, I waited six whole weeks! The risk of a baby catching the flu and having to be put in the hospital is just not worth it!

All along the way: Read books and begin speaking scripture and of the wonders of God's creation to your children. Pray out loud with them for them. Begin early so that it doesn't feel awkward when they're three years old and you wonder where to begin.

Week Three (again): Introduce a bottle. I wait until this week so I minimize the chance of nipple confusion. Praise God, my children have never resisted taking a bottle, but I understand it happens. Don't worry. If your child is hungry while you are away, they are likely going to take the bottle from whoever is taking care of him/her. If not, they'll be a good eater upon your return. Don't stress. This is also the week, I feel I have adjusted to life enough to begin using cloth diapers.

Week Eight: Go on a date with your husband, if you haven't yet.

Week Twenty: This is about the time that my children are introduced to rice cereal. After a couple of weeks of taking it three times a day, I introduce stage 1 yellow and orange vegetables, then green vegetables, finally fruit, waiting two to three days between each new item. Once I know if the baby's digestive system can handle a particular item, I feel free to make my own baby food, though I mainly did this with my second child. The season was right for the food to actually be cheaper this way. Compare prices. It isn't always the most economical decision to make baby food from scratch, but sometimes it is. I also don't usually put my kids straight into a highchair because I keep their hands out of their mouths if I hold them.

Month Eight: To the highchair! We begin disciplining our children at eight months by popping their hands when we tell them "no" and they don't obey. We don't actually hurt them, we simply get their attention. The highchair presents these training opportunities because our babies would want to put their hands in their mouth. No sin there, but not obeying your parents is a sin. A baby rolling over during diaper change is another time for training. A baby learning to crawl begins getting into things he/she shouldn't. A firm "no" and a hand pop, along with speaking Colossians 3:20 "Children obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord," are the tools we use to begin training our children at this age. It works, and it is a great blessing the first time your child obeys.

This is the month I introduce finger foods in the form of Cheerios, puffs, and tiny pieces of bread to my kids. If my kids had teeth at this point, I'd be more adventurous with peas, slivers of cooked carrots, green beans, etc. The sippy cup comes out too, usually a Nuby, filled with 50/50 juice and water. I NEVER put juice in a bottle.

Month Eleven: I begin weaning slowly, one feeding at a time.

Month 12: CELEBRATE!
We party in a big way at our house because birthdays are the days we celebrate our human life. Christmas is about Jesus. I get into themes (the teacher in me comes out) and usually make the cake myself because I'm Mom. This is the first day our kids have sugar. Enjoy remembering the day you became a Mom. Praise God for the gift of your child, not just during your own quiet time, but out loud, publicly with friends and family.
We've had three kids who are big into swaddling as babies, but at this point, I stop. We no longer allow pacifiers to be in the mouth at random times, only when the baby truly needs it.

Month Thirteen: We limit the pacifier to bedtime and naptime.

Month Fourteen:
We take the pacifier away at all times. It usually involves a few nights of crying, and even of us caving after about thirty minutes in the middle of the night, but then it. is. gone.

Month Eighteen: We give our kids peanut butter at this age. It was the recommended age with our oldest. Times changed, but we have no history of this allergy in our family, and a couple of our kids could use the protein, so I've stuck with this age.

I'll pick up here at another time. Let me know if there's something I've missed that you'd be interested in knowing.

Again, all families are different. This is just what we've done!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Almost nine years ago, I married into a wonderful family. Lots of people can say that, but not so many can mean it as deeply as I do. The blood kin in the family are great, incredibly welcoming people. There are some others who married into the family that are pretty awesome too. One example is Wednesday's Woman Nicole.

Nicole is married to one of my husband's first cousins, Todd. Always so sweet and encouraging, she welcomed me into the family by letting me know of her prayers for me on the night before my wedding. How I needed them! So excited for the big day, I couldn't sleep. I know I was still awake at 4 am, but God saw fit to give me plenty of energy and eyes without terribly dark circles under them. Thank you, cousin Nicole!

Both of our husbands are pastors in the same state, so every year we have the opportunity to go to a pastors' wives' retreat together. Ok, not every year. Every other year, I've had a baby to nurse. On those years I do get to attend, Nicole and I have a ball together as roomies, staying up till waaaaay past bedtime talking. I glean so much wisdom from her (and she's only a Titus 2 woman to me by a few years), with her experience as a ministry wife and homeschooling mom to three. I can't wait until January!

Other than the retreat, we only see one another twice a year, Thanksgiving and our annual reunion each April. In between face-to-face conversations, we keep up through e-mail and occasional phone calls. We usually remind each other of whatever specific prayers we have been praying for the other and get updates on how God is moving.

Nicole is important to me as family, friend, and fellow ministry wife. I must say that since my husband graduated from seminary, I have met few pastors' wives in my own community. I am the only one that I'm aware of in our association that is a stay-at-home mom. Were I not blessed with great friends in our church family and with the friendships I've maintained long-distance, it would be a very lonely position. This motivates me to make sure that as I grow older and more experienced, I need to watch for the younger ministry couples that come into our area, and look for the Titus 2 Moments that present themselves.

I love you, Cousin Nicole, and I can't wait to see you at the reunion!

~I know that I don't have tons of readers, but if anyone would like to feature someone for Wednesday's Woman, please let me know via Facebook or e-mail at I'd love to hear about other Titus 2Women!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mary Mohler and the Women of SWI

My husband was called to preach while he was just a young teenager. God led us to believe that he should prepare for ministry by going to seminary upon college graduation, despite knowing that we would be leaving his secure job, and I had some great opportunities to teach in our home state as well. I saw it as a great adventure because the seminary my husband selected was the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. It meant a new place to explore! His only concerns were leaving the country and his family, but he felt certain of his calling not to study at a satellite campus, but to take advantage of the opportunities afforded him by being on campus, as attested to by college professors and close friends.
What I didn't realize is that our time at seminary would be equally as beneficial for me. The Seminary Wives Institute (SWI) at Southern is an accredited program for ministers' wives to prepare for ministry. If a woman completed the required courses, she may actually graduate with a certificate, or she may choose to take only those courses she feels most suit her needs. I fell into the second category because there were a few required courses I had already taken at North Greenville, but I LOVED every course I did take!
Mrs. Mary Mohler, the wife of president Al Mohler, serves as the director of SWI, and teaches classes herself, along with other faculty wives. Several seminary faculty and other guest speakers also teach, but I want to make Mrs. Mohler and the faculty wives that teach SWI this week's Wednesday's Woman, or Women in this instance!
Mrs. Mohler taught me Essentials I and II, Ministry of Hospitality, Embracing Femininity, SBC I and II, Embracing Femininity, and Redeeming the Time. I would be struggling to keep my head above water without taking these courses! I feel equipped to be a pastor's wife because of the time I spent in SWI. More than the subject matter taught me, however, as Mrs. Mohler took the time to connect with her students, to really get to know them. Even though she had more than enough people of whom to keep track, she still learned my husband's name some way. At the beginning of class, pressing prayer requests were shared, and at the end of the second semester, I shared that my husband would be facing neurosurgery over the summer. I didn't say his name, but Mrs. Mohler did. She took the time to answer my questions as we began to face issues as we ventured into ministry for the first time.
Other teachers were also major influences in my life, though I'm sure they have no idea. In Marriage and Family, Mrs. Tanya York taught me how to love my husband, and how being transparent can be helpful to other women. Mrs. Helen Logan taught me all about Biblical Parenting in her class, something I definitely use every day! The name of my blog makes it obvious that I fell in love with Titus 2 while in Mrs. Jaylynn Cook's Mentoring class.
I am so thankful for Wednesday's Women, and I believe the church my husband and I serve are better blessed because these ladies trained me!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Not all Good Things are Best

I have come to a few conclusions about homemaking, and one of them may seem to be a no-brainer, but it is often overlooked. In order to be a homemaker, I have to be home. This is not to say that women who work outside the home can't be diligent workers at home as well, but they must guard their "free" time especially well.
My husband and I made the decision before we were married that once we had children, I would be at home full time in order to have the time required to rear our children in the admonition and fear of the Lord, to support him in his ministry, and be a homemaker. Before I quit teaching but was expecting our first child, I remember my mother-in-law saying to me, "You think you're going to have all the time in the world once you stay home, but then once you're home, you see how full your day becomes. Make breakfast, clean up breakfast, think about lunch, clean up lunch, prepare for dinner, clean up dinner, and do everything else in between." It didn't take me long to understand what she meant.
It takes a lot of time to care for small children, to lovingly discipline them when it is needed, to structure their days with learning activities and fun play, while also doing the laundry for six people, cooking for six people, and cleaning up after six people. Factor in my need for a quiet time alone with the Lord, preparations for ministry activities, and time with my highest earthly priority (my husband), my days are quite full. Everything still goes very smoothly, until a lot of good things make their appearances. What kinds of good things? Any activity that is outside of my main priorities of God, Husband, Children, and Church. Anything that takes me away from my home, away from time with God, time with my husband, time with my children, away from church.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for spontaneity. There's nothing like busting out something fun for the family or to be with friends, but if I do it too much, everything suffers, first my house. Trying to catch up, I'll get tired, and then I'll be a pill to my husband or yell at my kids. That's not being sensible. So, I have to slow down and evaluate the things I do, so I'm not overwhelmed and look at every activity I do in light of what God's Word tells me I am called to be as a woman - daughter of the King, wife, and mother. For me, that means it is not the season of my life to take on every ministry opportunity (i.e. I don't sing in the choir because choir practice falls during dinner time for my kids. We don't want a low-sugar meltdown during church!). It's not the season for me to pursue all personal or professional interests outside the home right now (kids really do grow fast and I need to redeem the time I have with them, plus I can't obey Deuteronomy 6:4-9 if I'm not actually able to talk, sit, walk, lie down, and get up with my children). Finally, if I haven't seen my husband enough this week because he's been particularly busy with work, I'm going to chase away the foxes (Song of Solomon 2:15).
Now I'm going to go play with my kids and train some little women to be diligent workers at home because that's what's BEST!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Submission is NOT a Four-Letter Word

Now we come to the final topic older women are to teach the younger: submission to their husbands. Why does this get such a bad rap? When we look at the teachings in the Bible to women specifically to submit to their husbands, it always involves a women submitting herself, not having submission thrust upon her. For example: Colossians 3:18 "Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." Paul didn't say to men, "Husbands, make your wives submit." He directed his attention to the women themselves. To the husbands, in verse 19, he told them to love their wives. Again in Ephesians 5:22-24:
"Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
We all know how nasty it can be when the church doesn't submit to Christ. Oh, but how beautiful it is when women are submissive to their own husbands! People usually adore these couples even when they can't put their finger on what it is about them that they love.
1 Peter 3:1-2 "Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the Christian message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live, when they observe your pure, reverent lives." Submission is so powerful, that a woman can win over her lost husband to Jesus!
Is it always easy? No. Is it always for my good? Yes. Even when it doesn't make sense, God uses it to make me more and more into Christ's image. Death to selfish desires = more like Christ.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mrs. Jean

Have you ever just known someone that just seemed to ooze goodness out of their very being? That's the way I've always thought of Wednesday's Woman for this week - Jean Ballew. Growing up, she was my pastor's wife. There's no one else I wanted more to be like when I became an adult. Mrs. Jean seemed to be nothing but sweet, humble, gracious, and loving. She was a middle school math teacher in addition to being mom to two girls. She seemed to adore her husband and embraced his call to ministry for herself as well, exactly what a good pastor's wife should do. She was my Acteens leader, and did it the old school way by having us do our Studi Act steps. In case you don't know, that meant we had a lot of scripture to memorize and service projects to complete. Mrs. Jean taught us to be missions minded and missions active. Through the completion of my Studi Act steps, I was able to earn one of the scholarships that helped to fund my college education at North Greenville College, now North Greenville University.
From seventh grade on, I had my heart set on North Greenville because Mrs. Jean and "Preacher" went there. That year, they had an Acteens day at NGC, and we were able to have a tour of the campus. I fell in love with it for myself because it's slogan is true. North Greenville is the place "Where Christ makes the difference". I was thrilled to have a dorm room across the hall where Mrs. Jean had lived close to thirty years prior!
Back to why I loved her so much - Mrs. Jean weekly spent that time with us, the teenage girls of our church and encouraged us in ministry to love all people. She led us in backyard Bible clubs at a local trailer park, but really enabled us to be the ones to do the work. She took us on my first mission trip to the inner-city of Richmond, Virginia. Some Southern churches are uncomfortable with the various races we'll share Heaven with, but Mrs. Jean showed how to love all the children of the world, red, yellow, black, and white.
Mrs. Jean was our Vacation Bible School director for our association of churches. She and Preacher got quite pumped up about VBS, and I still love it because they showed me how it can be done so well.
I had the great blessing of sitting next to Mrs. Jean in the choir while I was in high school. Just more time to soak up the epitome of a Titus 2 woman to me! She was so reverent, so good, and she taught me to be sensible and pure too. I hope I can be the kind of pastor's wife that she was for me!
To women who teach classes weekly to younger girls, the time you spend with them does matter so much! Be encouraged that it is worth your effort!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Embracing Homemaking - No April Fool!

This is a snapshot of my daily life. Really. There are six people in my household, and I have a baby wearing cloth diapers, so six days a week, there's at least one load of laundry running. When my flesh doesn't win out, my spirit is happy to be a diligent worker at home. I can look at the chores involved in homemaking with the attitude that God has given me much, and I am to be a good steward of all that He has given. We live in a beautiful parsonage next door to our church. Three years ago, I remember getting a phone call from someone telling us that they were pulling out the old ugly blue carpet that used to cover the floors before we moved in. It is such a gift from God to live in my home that loving people provide for us! Most of us in the United States have great homes to live in, be it a single-wide trailer in the country, an apartment in the city, or a four-bedroom home in the suburbs. We need to try to take the best care we can of whatever we've been given. That said, I will not drive myself crazy, overburden myself, or keep myself from taking the time for Bible study or reading my children books. People are infintely more important than things. I have to involve others in the process of taking care of our home too. I can spend time with them and be a Titus 2 woman by training them to be good homemakers. This too is a snapshot from my life, my youngest daughter putting away the silverware for me as I unload the dishwasher. I want to have a hand in making her a godly wife and mother one day. That's big motivation for me to embrace homemaking!