Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grandma Sallie

For the second time since our fourth child was born (he turned one on June 24), I'm alone to care for the kids. My husband is gone on our church mission trip. I'm not complaining. We enjoy the time, even though we miss my husband terribly. One of the positives is that I get a lot of work done staying up later because I can't sleep as well without my better half. I'm hoping to actually reach my goal of writing two to three blog entries this week. We'll see...

Anyway, this time alone makes me think back to the first time I was alone with four children. A few days after my son was born, my grandmother died. She had been my last remaining grandparent. I always called her Grandma Sallie. I didn't go to the funeral because we live so far away, and taking four kids five-years and under when my milk was just coming in wouldn't have been pleasant on the road, but my husband went to preach part of her service. He told me he didn't realize how much we were alike until after her death. I mostly take that as a compliment. I knew her godly characteristics, but I also know that some of the sins I struggle with were "inherited" from her.

Women don't have to be perfect to be Titus 2 women. Grandma Sallie was a strong woman who did whatever it took to provide for her family after the death of her first husband. At the time, the mother of five boys had three of them still living at home. My dad was the middle child of the five and fourteen-years-old. Grandma Sallie was a seamstress, working diligently with her hands. Not only did it put food on the table, but it provided my dad with a beautiful bride, as Grandma Sallie made my mother's wedding dress. Grandma Sallie was buried in a dress she made for herself to wear to my wedding. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to attend. A spider bite made her very sick with the frail health she already had regularly. It still touched my heart to know that the most beautiful clothing she had when she left this world was related to me in a small way.

Grandma Sallie had only a formal third-grade education, but she studied her sons' textbooks that they brought home from school to their homework. She always read novels, as long as I can remember, and most importantly, she read her Bible. We know that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight" (Proverbs 9:10), so Grandma Sallie had all she ever really needed to know. Every time I talked to her, Grandma Sallie let me know she had been praying for my family and me.

Back before the casinos came to town, my grandmother lived in Cherokee, NC for the better part of the year when I was a child. I thought I had the coolest grandmother because she spent many an evening dancing and clogging to bands that played at outdoor venues. She continued to "work at home" in her camper with her hands as she made beaded jewelry to sell. I loved my Cherokee looking earrings she made, and I felt a great connection to Grandma Sallie's grandmother who had been a full-blooded Cherokee. Just this week, my oldest daughter asked me if Grandma Sallie wore moccasins. I have no idea where the question came from, but she sure did where them most all the time!

I am thankful for the legacy of faith I have on both sides of my family. I look forward to seeing my grandparents in Glory. I'm thankful that Grandma Sallie was a Titus 2 Woman to me!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gasp! I'm Not a Perfect Mother!

For anyone who may be wondering, my daughter and I had an awesome time at camp! It was a long ride, we stayed up way past my bed time, let alone my daughter's, BUT we met some missionaries, fellowshipped with other believers, and got my daughter her first taste of camp that will better enable her to go on her own in the future. I'm happy with that, plus I found out, I'm not a bad shot with a bow and arrow.

(Photo courtesy my friend, Kelly)

Anyway....I was supposed to be writing about something else. Oh, yes....

I think there are some people who believe I "have it all together" and that all is rosy in my world. Life is fairly rosy. God blessed me with an awesome husband, steady as a rock. God gave me four beautiful, healthy children, that for the most part are obedient (***cue my second daughter climbing out of bed as I type these words). I have a very nice home in which to live, a dependable 2006 vehicle that transports all my little people from point A to point B without a hitch, a great church family, blessings etc.

Note that God is the source of all of the above. I can go back further and say that God blessed me with parents who trained me to make the wise decisions that often lead to these kinds of blessings, but even all of that is the work of the Holy Spirit in my parents' hearts. I am often a complete and utter failure. I lose my patience, raise my voice, make an irrational decision to do what I want to do right now rather than what God would have me do, and allow my children to drink sippy cups too long. Yes, that last one was kind of random, but reading someone else's blog about the topic got me thinking about all of this. I was unaware of these five things. I'll be trying to loosen my grip on sippy cups starting tomorrow, and inevitably cleaning a lot of messes as a result.

I could grovel in pity or anger at myself for letting my three and four-year-olds continue to drink out of a sippy cup. I could live in agony and constant guilt for the times I'm not as tender as I ought to be with my children or stomp my foot at my husband. OR, I could spend more time in prayer, taking my first thoughts captive in the morning and turning to God for help and guidance. I can pray for the Holy Spirit's ultimate working in my children, because I can't save them. He alone does the work, though He uses my efforts at training to turn their hearts toward Him. I can then leave my concerns with God after I've asked forgiveness for my failures and move on to walk in fulness of life. Praise God for His mercies!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Greater is He that is in Me than He that is in the Woods

I'm baaaaaaack!

I'm sure you were holding your breath, wondering when I'd write again. Just kidding. Life is SO not about me.

This afternoon, I will be packing an overnight bag for my daughter and myself as we prepare to go to camp in a few days. This will be her first time at a GA camp, and my third time as a camper. The summer I graduated from high school, I worked on camp staff at Camp LaVida, South Carolina's GA/Acteen camp. It was awesome! I'm also a little tenderhearted toward camp because I met my husband at a youth church camp when we were seventeen, and my brother also met his wife at church camp.

The thing I love about GA camp is that the goal is to teach kids about missions. Lots of missionaries can trace back their first feelings and thoughts about becoming a missionary to camp days. My daughter just recently entrusted her life to Christ and was baptized, so I am happy to help her in early days of walking with the Lord by taking her to camp. She doesn't have to be a career missionary, but I do want her to be faithful to live a Great Commission lifestyle.

From my experience, camp staffers make great Titus 2 women for little girls. I'm not talking about me, but about the women who were a great encouragement to me as a camper. Some campers write letters to their cabin leaders for a long time because they admire them so much. It is wonderful for little girls to see young adult women with passion for the Lord and the desire to see the nations come to know Him. Church camp staffers, past and present, you are this week's Wednesday's Women!

*By the way, my title comes from when I was a camp staffer. We got to be up after the kids were in bed, though there were always staffers working cabin duty, so no kids were left alone. It was sometimes a little creepy to walk in the woods, and I remember a few of us jokingly changing the words of a hymn, "Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world" to "woods."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to You!

This week is a busy work week for me! Along with the regular household work and wife and mommy duties, I'm preparing for VBS that will be held next week and working on two birthday parties for three of my children for next weekend! Every year, the same craziness happens in the midst of our family's mostly relaxing summer because there are TEN BIRTHDAYS in our family and extended families in the months of June and July. Our one daughter with a birthday in December is the only grandchild on either side left out of summer birthdays! One day, I think she'll see it as a blessing that she's only got to share her birth month with Jesus.

This will be a quick article so I can get back to all that work while the kiddos are napping. I simply thought I'd share why I go through all the work every summer when I could just do a little family shin-dig and a few slaps on the back for each of my kids.

  1. Life is precious! Each life that comes into this world is someone made in the image of God, perfectly created by the Master Craftsman, and unique. Each birth is a miracle. Every year, we're happy to have been given another 365 days with each of our children and pray for many more joyful years to follow.

  2. The birthday is the one day that truly belongs to each of our children. Thus far we haven't had any multiple births, so we can say the day we celebrate each child's birth, we truly celebrate them. At our house, Christmas is about Jesus, so we typically just get one gift for each of our kids. They get plenty more from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and church family. We really try to make the gifts received on their birthdays extra special, not necessarily expensive (though that's sometimes the case), but extra thought given to something they'd like.

  3. All the planning and effort says, "I love you." I believe my kids are seeing the hard work and appreciate it when they get to have fun with their friends and family doing just the things they imagined they could do at their party.

  4. The guests. Our kids get to spend time with their nearest and dearest friends and as much family as can be there on their own turf. Not school, not church, but their home. Usually. We've had parties at church and parties at a grandparents' house, but for the most part, we're somewhere the kids are relaxed. Parties most of all, are about spending time with people, not the food, the decorations, or the activities. My husband's going to grill at the girls' luau next Saturday, but for the most part, the food will already be prepared so we can be with those special people who are there to bless our kids. *In case you're wondering, this doesn't mean we invite the whole world. I try to stick to the rule that the number of children invited is also the number of the child's age, but it's not a strict rule.

  5. It provides us the opportunity to publicly praise God for the gifts each of our children are to us. Sometimes, this is a witnessing opportunity, but it is always the joy of our hearts as parents to reflect on how God has been so good to us to entrust us with those four little lives.

So, you might not hear from me much over the next ten days, but know I'm doing what I can to choose what's best!

*Again, I'm turning into a broken record, but I'd love to hear from someone else about a Titus 2 Woman you'd like to make a Wednesday's Woman! If there are no volunteers, there will be victims! :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't Run from Your Friend!

We've all heard the old adage, "Whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." It's true. Sanctification is a painful process. It may nearly kill us in the process, but we do come back stronger, holier, and a more beautiful Bride for Christ.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." -John 15:1-2

If you do any gardening, you may understand a little bit about pruning and how it's like sanctification. I didn't grow up gardening, but I've gotten into flower gardening the last few years and really enjoy it. Last summer, just after my fourth baby, my verbena really needed some pruning. It had big, lush, purple heads of flowers that had spread all over my flower bed, but at this point, in the heat of the south Georgia summer, it had stopped producing those flowers. I guess in the daze of having a newborn, but still producing some good endorphins, I went to work on two big verbena plants with some pruners, but no gloves. Not my brightest moment! It wasn't until after I was done wacking at them that I felt the extreme pain of having completely torn up my hands, now covered in open blisters! In a few days, my pain was worth it however, as my verbena came back in all its radiant glory once again, actually even better than before. I thought then how very much it hurts God to have to discipline us, but it grows us more and more into His image.

I fear we have a tendancy in our current American culture to run from sanctification. We want the easy way out so often. So many young people (I sound old!) start college, and then find it so much harder than they expected and quit, or they take five or six years to finish what should take four. Couples get married and when the going gets tough, it requires more of themselves than they're willing to give, or marriage just isn't what they envisioned, they quit that too. Parenting's full of rough stuff too. It involves a lot more sacrifice and change in lifestyle than most people think it will, so they seek means of escape there too. It comes in many forms. Sometimes, moms will toss their kids into someone else's hands too often. Maybe for little things like errands. It is easier oftentimes to let a grandparent or friend watch a child or children when you've got a lot of running around to do, but we need to examine if we're doing it too much. Other times, the escape from sanctification that comes through parenting involves dropping out of church activities. Y'all, it doesn't matter if nap time is during church time, God will reward your faithfulness whether it's now with a longer Sunday afternoon nap, or in years to come as your children are accustomed to that faithfulness and go willingly to church, or in Heaven.

We are often a spineless society! Dig in your heels and work! College students, do your work. Get that piece of paper and then get a job with it, and then, don't expect that you need to start by earning a six figure salary. As a Christian, no job is beneath you! Married woman, sometimes the ways that you need to bless your husband have less to do with blessing him and more to do with your sanctification. Death to your desires will mold you more into Christ's image! Parents, pull up your sleeves, determine you're going to do what's best for your children and maybe it will do you good too. Maybe taking them on that trip to the grocery store or Lowe's or wherever you're going will give you more opportunities to train them in righteousness, others may see what well behaved children you have, and you can tell them that Proverbs 20:11 tells us, "Even a child is known by his deeds." All of the car strapping and unstrapping, the rest you don't get because the baby fell asleep in the car and won't get his nap at home, all of that will be worth it because it will produce patience in you, and you will come to rely on God's endless supply of energy when you find you don't have any yourself.

Just as my husband often has our church repeat after him, "conviction is my friend," say with me, "The pain of sanctification is my friend!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Vocabulary Lesson

Oviparous. Ever heard of it? I had forgotten what it meant too until I came across it on the Totally Tots blog, which I use a lot for my story time activities at church and for teaching my own children during our "homeschool preschool" time. I also pick up books from the library based on recommendations from Silly Eagle books. You can click on the buttons below to go there. I just had to show off the new skills I've finally been learning. I can now add buttons pretty easily! Woo-hoo!
totally totsSilly Eagle Books
Anyway, oviparous is producing babies by means of eggs rather than live birth. My girls and I have been having a great time learning about these animals. From Totally Tots, I got the idea to get the book Chickens aren't the Only Ones, we studied scripture and learned about we don't have to worry about anything because God provides for even the birds, and we watched a few videos on YouTube of animals hatching from eggs. It was lots of fun! Yesterday, I let the girls paint pictures of any oviparous animal of their choosing. My almost-three-year-old remembered completely on her own that an ostrich is oviparous. I thought she'd remember chicken, but she chose ostrich! That was a big deal to me. She's been paying attention.

As were talking about oviparous animals last week, I looked at Silly Eagle Books and read a post recommending An Egg is Quiet. We picked it up from the library last week, and we read it this morning. Perfect for all we've been learning!

What does this have to do with Titus 2 you might ask? Well, this morning I got a little aggrivated as I heard the teasers on the Today Show about finding ways to not go crazy this summer with your kids. It's not an unfamiliar thought. It makes me sad though. Instead, we should be praising God for the opportunity to have more time with our school-aged kids to talk with them as we walk along the way, lie down, and rise up (at hopefully a later time than normal!) and be their teachers. God made us as parents our children's teachers before anyone else, and I want to encourage you to be about the business of loving your children in this way. Take the freedom the summertime affords you, and use it to teach your kids some fun things about the world God created!

*Wednesday's Woman will be back next week! I've got several women I'd love to share about, but I'd still love to hear from someone else who'd be willing to share about a Titus 2 woman in her life!