Monday, October 31, 2011

Pastor Appreciation

Today is the last day of Pastor Appreciation Month, and I really do deeply appreciate my pastor.  I know his heart more than any other members of his flock because my pastor is also my husband. 

I hear many of the thoughts he thinks as he prepares his sermons throughout the week.  I hear him say often times, as the Holy Spirit has been with him in his study, "This is going to be a good one!" or hear his heartbreak as he knows this week's morning message is going to be a difficult one to share.  He never preaches his opinion, only what he knows to be the right message from God's Word for his people. 

Last month, as I was reading through Ezekiel, I couldn't help but be reminded of my husband.  In Chapter 33, we see how God made Ezekiel to be a watchman to Israel, to guard it from dangers yet unseen by the Israelites. 
The word of the Lord came to me; Son of man, speak to your people and tell them: Suppose I bring the sword against a land, and the people of that land select a man from among them, appointing them as their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows his trumpet to warn the people.  Then, if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet but ignores the warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head.  Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but ignored the warning, his blood is on his own hands.  If he had taken warning, he would have saved his life.  However, if the watchman sees the sword coming but doesn't blow the trumpet, so that the people aren't warned, and the sword comes and takes away their lives, then they have been taken away because of their iniquity, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.  As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel.  When you hear a word for My mouth, give them a warning from Me.  If I say to the wicked: Wicked one, you will surely die, but you do not speak out to warn him about his way, that wicked person will die for his iniquity, yet I will hold you responsible for his blood.  But if you warn a wicked person to turn from his way and he doesn't turn from it, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life."  -Ezekiel 33:1-9 HCSB
Oh, the rest of the chapter is awesome too, but time doesn't permit me to type it all!  Read it in your own copy of God's Word!   But I must share the end of the chapter!
Now, son of man, your people are talking about you near the city walls and in the doorways of their houses.  One person speaks to another, each saying to his brother: Come and hear what the message is that comes from the Lord!  So My people come to you in crowds, sit in front of you, and hear your words, but they don't obey them.  Although they express love with their mouths, their hearts pursue unjust gain.  Yes, to them you are like a singer of love songs who has a beautiful voice and plays skillfully on an instrument.  They hear your words, but they don't obey them.  Yet when it comes - and it will definitely come - then they will know that a prophet has been among them.  - Ezekiel 33:30-33 HCSB (emphasis mine)
If you've expressed verbally an appreciation for your pastor this month, know that what he desires more than anything is for change to take place in your heart, to see you grow more and more into God's image and to be holy, set apart from the world.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Preparation is Key, Part 2

This week, I've got a quickie idea to help families large and small.  Prepare your kids for outings to the mall, grocery store, and any other errands by "laying down the law" before getting them out of the car/van.

Sadly, it seems like my kids do a better job of behaving themselves in public whenever either my husband or I go it alone with them than when we all go out together.  It took me a long time to realize why, but it finally dawned on me a few weeks ago after a less than glorious excursion to buy shoes for all four of the kiddos.

I believe God made my husband and me a great team when he put us together as husband and wife and as parents, but sometimes, pride gets in our way.  I think the reason we don't tell our kids exactly what we expect of them (proactive parenting) when we're together is because we think "we've got this" just a little too much.  Sometimes, I think we need that bit of confidence, but we need to be careful that we're including God in that "We" team. 

When I'm alone with my children on an outing, I realize that it may be a little bit more difficult for me because I've only got two hands for all the little people.  It forces me to remind them that my youngest two must stay seated in the stroller (yep, I do strap the baby in) or grocery cart, and that my two older ones must hold onto the stroller or cart.  No running around.  No asking for things we don't have on the list.  I go down the whole list of P's and Q's, and... they do it.  They need the preparation and the reminder.  Doesn't God give us the same when we need it too?

Don't forget, I'll be linking up to Raising Arrows today.  Check out all the large family living ideas!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Titus 2 Christmas Gifts

Making your Christmas gift list yet?  Here's something we did at our house:

Giving Christmas gifts provides the perfect opportunity to give gifts that encourage behavior or character qualities that God would have us teach to our children.  We found a great way to do just that last Christmas with our four-year-old daughter.
We give each of our four children only one gift each Christmas in an effort to keep the focus on Christ’s birth.  In exchange, we try to make birthdays big celebrations of the gift of each human life God has given us.  With all the gifts that grandparents, aunts and uncles, and church family bestow upon our children, they aren’t missing out on anything by merely receiving one gift from their parents. 
Last fall, the “cleaning” toys our daughters shared fell apart.  The pieces of the little mop were done, falling out of the plastic head.  The vacuum would no longer run no matter how fresh the batteries.  Our four-year-old was heartbroken.  She so loved helping Mommy with all the chores, being a diligent worker at home.  The thought occurred to my husband that we should just find her a vacuum cleaner that would be small enough for her to actually begin to take on the vacuuming chore with me in a real way.  Without much hunting at all, the perfect adjustable handled yellow vacuum cleaner was found.
Our daughter was so eager to find out what was inside the biggest box under our tree!  And once she opened her gift, she was ready to get started helping around the house!  Some assembly was required, so once Daddy finished his part, our daughter began helping vacuum the house.  Some weeks, we divide the work, and it takes us half as much time to vacuum as when I previously did it alone.  Other weeks, she and her older sister switch off rooms, and I get the week off from vacuuming!  I’m so happy to see my daughters preparing to be homemakers in their own homes one day!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Birth Control

Nope.  I'm not going there myself.

I'm glad someone else is writing about this controversial topic instead of me!  A friend of mine from seminary days is a contributor for Prayer of Hannah, and while I began reading because of our friendship, I have come to enjoy reading all of the ladies' thoughts there.  One of my blog "followers" in also a contributor at POH.  This month, they are writing about birth control, and I thought I'd let my readers know in case you're interested.  I've linked to only one article there, but click on the sidebar on "birth control" to read all of them.

The only thing I'd like to share on this topic is about an experience I had with my OB-Gyn before the birth of my fourth child.  Natural family planning doesn't aid my husband and me with the spacing of our children.  I still find myself pregnant sooner than I anticipate each time we attempt to implement it.  No problem because we want a big family and believe God has greatly blessed us with each precious gift He has given us.  However, we were interested in talking to my Christian doctor about an IUD.  We had questions about it because I knew of several Christian women who used them happily.  His immediate response?  No way!  He knew of our pro-life convictions and believes IUDs work in an abortive way because ovulation still occurs, implantation of a potentially fertilized egg is how they stop pregnancy from occuring.  It's amazing how many Christian women, otherwise pro-life thinkers, use these.  Talk to your doc about your concerns.  I praise God for a Christian doctor who kept me from using one!

Hope you enjoy Prayer of Hannah!  Maybe I can get some guest posts from these ladies some time in the future! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Preparation is Key, Part 1

I was so excited to see that Amy at Raising Arrows is going to be hosting a blog link-up on Tuesdays that is perfect for me!  It will be all about large family organization!  I need to learn so much in this area, while I do have a little to share too.  If you don't have a large family, you may still be able to benefit from the ideas shared.

The most important tip I have for keeping my sanity and enjoying my large family is to prepare, prepare, prepare!  I believe I have three weeks worth of ideas in the department of preparation, so I'll break it up into three parts.

I've got to confess that my flesh is pretty weak.  Anytime I see a young mom, and she wasn't at church the previous Sunday, I try to let her know I missed her.  It really is completely in love, not at all judgmental, until...she says something like, "It's just so hard to get the kids ready on time," or "We overslept.  Sorry."  Then, I know my heart has a long way to go because my holier-than-thou attitude starts creeping into my thoughts.  There's no need to apologize to me because I was able to enjoy myself in corporate worship whether or not that woman and her family were there.  I know these are excuses because I get four children ready mostly by myself. 

Here's the better thing to do.  Rather than becoming prideful, I must teach younger women the tricks of preparing my children for worship.  This is discipleship.

We begin preparing for Sunday morning long before we get up that day. 
First, laundry is prepared during the week.  Adult clothes are washed on Tuesdays here, and the kids' clothes get washed on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  No major digging around to find what we need.  The change of seasons sometimes means I may have to hunt on Saturday morning to pull out appropriate attire, but not usually.

 Before the kids even get their baths on Saturday night, I have everyone's clothes hanging in one location.  For me, that's the exercise bike sitting in our den.  It's not pretty, but I know where the clothes are on Sunday morning.  We can be even more prepared if I have the children pull out all of the right shoes the night before.  If the season calls for them, I also find all of the tights we need.

Everyone gets a bath the night before and goes to bed on time.  For us, that's 8:00 for the kids and 10:00 for mom and dad.  No one is allowed to doze off during worship.

 Iron all the clothes.  I do this once the kids are in bed because it stresses me a little to have a large, hot iron (A.K.A. a death trap) on while my accident prone children are awake.

Pull out everything you need to fix hair and have a general idea of how everyone's hair will be fixed before retiring for the evening.  I have three girls and love to fix their hair in as many different ways as possible.  Women at church have asked me if I get up at dawn to fix their hair, but I try not to spend more than twenty or thirty minutes on all three heads of hair unless we just happen to have all kinds of free time once we get started.  If you're new to doing hair, don't try something new the first time on a Sunday morning.  At least practice first to have some idea of how long it will take, so you can plan accordingly.

Set the alarm clock if you need it.  We can actually sleep in on most Sunday mornings, at least a little bit in comparison to weekday mornings.  Our Sunday school starts at 10:00, two hours later than school for us.  

Relax and enjoy the benefits of your preparation.  Even with my preparations, things can still go wrong.  Satan will try to spoil your best efforts.  Don't let him win.  Turn on some worship music to prepare your heart.

*Full disclosure:  I have the benefit of living next door to our church.  I know that helps!  In the past year, I've not arrived to Sunday School on time except once!  I let the baby sleep for his morning nap until the last minute, but only he and I ran late.  When he dropped the morning nap, we were able to go to church on time again this past Sunday.  Use your judgement.  I believe a well-rested baby is a happy baby for nursery workers.  With my first, I did set the alarm clock to wake earlier on Sunday morning so that she could get her nap out and still get to Sunday School on time.

Don't forget to read others' ideas at
 <a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” alt=”Large Family Organization” width=”125″ height=”125″ /></

And just in case, I can't get that button to work, here's the link to Raising Arrows.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Fall, Y'all!

It's beginning to look a lot like autumn around my house.  Some signs of the times:
 garland of painted leaves my four and three-year-olds made using this idea

 updated my mantle with this free printable, which comes in multiple colors

 pulled out my old wreath from A.C. Moore

 This is my "keeping it real" shot.  The rest of my porch needs some work.

 While on a date night recently with my hubby, I picked up some pansies...

and some mums.  (No, they're not in bloom yet, but any day now.  The better to enjoy them longer!)

What are you doing new with your homemaking now that it's cooling off a little?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday's Woman - To be Continued

When I began this blog, I really desired to do profiles of Titus 2 women because so many women think they can't be Titus 2 women, that they are some way not prepared, that it is too difficult a task, etc.  I wanted to show how easy it can be if we keep our eyes open for the relationships God brings us.

I never want to pressure myself to stretch to come up with a Titus 2 woman or a woman who found herself in a Titus 2 moment, so I need to hear from more of you (blogger or not) about the women in your lives while I watch for more profiles I want to write.  Since volunteers aren't throwing themselves on me, I'll be looking for victims (otherwise known as friends willing to do a favor given a little encouragement).

I'm going to give myself until November to start Wednesday's Woman up again.  If this is the main feature you're interested in, hang with me, and read on some other topics in the mean time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Working with the School System

Blogging opens one up to criticism.  That's one of the chief reasons I didn't write a blog for a long time.  I have been fortunate to avoid open criticism since I started Titus 2 Moments, but just last week I read someone else's comments on an article she had written as part of a linky party at Time Warp Wife. 

This woman had written "Why We Choose Public School", a potentially controversial topic for a group of very conservative women, and in the blogosphere, it seems more of the stay-at-home set are homeschoolers as well.  A comment had been left by someone saying that the blogger was just taking the easy way out and ignoring God's mandates in how she should rear her children.  Poor girl.  There were many more positive comments, so I hope the blogger felt more encouragement rather than bashing.

I feel I see both sides.  I was educated in one of the best school districts in the state of South Carolina and was very well prepared for college.  I chose to go to an incredible private, Southern Baptist college, but being an elementary education major I felt more prepared to teach in the public school system than anywhere else.  My professors taught me to live and die by the state and national standards as I prepared lesson plans, though I did have an "educate the whole child" mentality.  I worked a few long-term subs in public schools since I graduated in December, but ultimately signed a contract and taught two years in a private, Christian school in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Teaching first-graders in a private school was an eye-opening experience for me.  These were not just wealthy children, but many of the parents were struggling to put their kids in a Christian school because they believed it was what was best for their families.  I've come to see now it is much more affordable to homeschool than to try a private school route.  I did have one parent in those two years I did feel was just paying me to do all of the teaching, nevermind that he also needed help at home every day, but on the whole, I had parents who worked with me strongly.  And for me personally, it was great practice for parenting to be able to use scripture to correct and train children's hearts, not just their minds, something I didn't have the opportunity to do in public school.

I do believe there's a large segment of parents choosing public school because it is the easiest route to take.  I do not ignore that many of those parents are not eduating their children in many Christian disciplines.  That's inexcusable.

Right now, my oldest daughter is in public school.  I expect that will change over the next couple of years, but today, I am happy with public school.  I've written about the ways it has been blessing for us in the first year.  Still, homeschooling is likely on the horizon, but I may write about the reasoning for that when we start.

Until then, I'll do what I can to be involved while I "homeschool preschool" my three others at home.  Here is a way my involvement in my oldest daughter's education has worked in a situation in this last week.  I've decided to call her Princess M to make explaining easier.

Princess M and her classmates were given stickers to use in a picture and use as a writing prompt.  Princess M told her teacher she did not want the Halloween sticker because we don't celebrate Halloween in our family.  Not being with me at all times has at least twice now, that I'm aware of, given Princess M the opportunity to make decisions in the way in which she was trained.  I'm proud of that.  Instead, Princess M got a sticker of a seashell and still was able to write a story. 

This little conversation with her teacher prompted her teacher to ask me what she could do to make sure Princess M wasn't left out and that we were not offended in any way.  Good teacher.  By the way, we don't require any special care.  Princess M will throw away anything she's given with a skull on it.  A mere pumpkin is not offensive.  The teacher also let me know of a unit the first-graders would be studying in art.  I didn't care for it at all, and addressed my concerns with the art teacher in a kind manner, letting her know that Princess M would not be in art as that particular unit was studied, but that I would be happy to work with her using the same techniques and medium that the other students would be using.  The art teacher appreciated my willingness to do the extra work on my part, but just decided instead to do a different unit. 

This week, I am thankful that other parents with the same types of concerns as mine, but who must work outside the home and may not be able to homeschool their children, can work with the school system.  If we always keep the lines of communication positive with teachers whether in public or private schools, we can be a part of educating our children.  We can still be the ones who pray with, teach Bible to, and disciple our children should we not be able to homeschool.  AND, I am so thankful God enabled me to be home with my children in their most formative years so that when they do need to make decisions without me around, their world view is like this:  (in the words of Princess M) "Why do they celebrate Halloween?", not "Why don't we celebrate Halloween?" - She doesn't feel she's missing out at all.

*We'll be celebrating Reformation Day October 31. 

*Linking up to Gratituesday:
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Avoiding College Debt

I write today with a sense of victory!  God blessed me to successfully rid my home of an unwanted visitor: a lizard!  My husband was doing some work outside Tuesday, and unfortunately, with the coming and going in and out of the house, the little lizard inadvertently made his way into our home.  My husband was unable to get him out, so the lizard hung out in our study for a couple of days.  My husband was gone today, so I had screamed a few times as I walked into the study.  Yesterday, the lizard was actually sitting on the warm computer screen.  Try as I might, I couldn't get the lizard with a crab net we had as our only means of catching him.  Finally, he made his way onto my desk chair while I had the door open.  I took the whole chair outside, while my second daughter was cheering me on.  "Good idea, Mommy!" she cried.

Anyhoo, I'm feeling good.

I wanted to write today to high school girls in particular.  There was the petition going around on Facebook (actually I only saw it on one friend's page), but it was encouraging people to sign for the president to consider forgiving federal college loans as a means to stimulate the economy.  Do huh? 

Proverbs 22:7 says, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender".

We do well to avoid debt as much as is possible or we risk being a slave to the lender.  This might mean that the majority of our paychecks in the first few years following college graduation goes to the lending agencies, the government in many cases.

I'm not writing in an effort to encourage or discourage the idea proposed to forgive the college loans, though it is obvious I believe it to be a poor option.  What I would like to do instead is encourage young women to look at all their options before signing on for any college loans.

Consider your life goals.  A few years ago, a friend started an e-mail thread amongst several of us whose husbands had attended the same seminary.  She wanted to know how we should advise young women about career and college goals.  There were many interesting thoughts shared about biblical womanhood and how God does or doesn't use our college and career experience as we live out those roles.  One point that stuck out to me personally was that many of us were indeed using our education in our homes as wives and mothers, but that some of us also felt (as did I) that if we'd had a different type of degree, we might could still use it for pay while primarily staying home with our children.  For example, if I'd done cosmetology, I could set my own hours and work from home.  Or, the medical field provides numerous opportunities to work one day a week or for a small number of hours within a month, enabling a woman to even be able to provide medical insurance for her family without an exorbitant amount of time outside the home.  If you primarily want to be home with your children or want to be your husband's helper more than anything, consider your options before you go to college.

Don't discredit technical colleges.  These can either be a jumping off point toward earning your bachelors degree eventually or you could begin your career sooner after spending less money.  Again, back to the medical field again - many positions there pay more money than positions in other fields.  Less money out of pocket initially with potentially a larger paycheck later.  Many employers, in many fields, want skilled employees rather than employees with big time degrees. 

Put the pedal to the medal.  Choose a major and stick with it.  OK, OK, yes God could lead you down a different path than you had planned.  Jumping from track to track could you cost you.  Some of the classes you had previously taken may not apply to the new degree program, and it might take you longer to get your degree than you originally intended.   Then, all of those scholarships you earned will most likely run out after four years of full-time classes.  You can take more than twelve hours at a time if you are a "traditional" student.  Trust me.  I had a higher GPA with twenty hours than I ever did with sixteen (the minimum I ever took at once).  For me, knowing I had to stay on top of it, forced me to manage my time better and be about the business of studying.

Pray and seek scholarships and grants.  God will provide for wherever He's leading you.

If you have to take loans, do the right thing and pay them off in due fashion.  Don't count on anyone to bail you out.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Biblical Wednesday's Woman

Have you started shopping for Christmas yet?  Not yet?  What about making your shopping lists?  That's where I find myself.  Last month, I actually began coming up with gift ideas for my children for my parents and others that ask for those ideas.  I have some ideas in my head for the shopping I intend to do, and I hope to make some orders soon so that I will be free come December to enjoy the season!

All this planning, preparing, and dreaming about celebrating the birth of Christ has me thinking about the biblical account.  I can't help thinking about Mary receiving word from Gabriel that she would conceive the Son of God by means of the Holy Spirit.  How appropriate that she would run to the other woman Gabriel mentioned, her older cousin Elizabeth!

Not much is said about the time the two women had together, but Elizabeth does encourage younger Mary's heart telling her, "How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For you see, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped for joy inside me!  She who has believed is blessed because what was spoken to her by the Lord will be fulfilled!" (Luke 1:43-45).

Now, we had already seen the obedience of Mary's heart as she said to Gabriel (in verse 38), "I am the Lord's slave...May it be done to me according to your word," but I can only imagine Mary needed the encouragement from Elizabeth.  Many a time in my own life, I have set my heel, determined in my heart, and committed to the Lord something, but have found that at just the time I've needed it most, God has sent me word by way of an older woman to encourage me.  That's what I believe Elizabeth must have been like to Mary.  

Verse 56 tells us that Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months before returning home.  The birth of John comes just after that.  Even though Mary missed the birth, I'm sure the ladies enjoyed being pregnant at the same time.  It is such a fun thing to have overlapping pregnancies with a friend or family member.  The anticipation of multiple lives is a joyous time.  I was one of four teachers in my school at the time expecting babies during my pregnancy with my first child.  Another friend living in the same apartment complex had her first child just three months later.  My brother and his wife had their first child just nine days before my son was born, and I was also able to share that time of pregnancy with a friend at church.  If a younger woman is soon to become a mother, whether by natural birth or through adoption, she does well to look to older women who've gone through the joys and trials of early motherhood to have someone to pray with and share in her own new adventure.

I know many of you are just sick that Christmas decor is already out in the stores, and many of you just want to enjoy Thanksgiving first.  I'm right there with you, but God can use these times to help us to focus on the details of the birth of the long awaited Savior.  I'm thankful that God gave us the example of Elizabeth!