At the beginning of the year my husband told me that one of our family goals was to get to church before it starts. Yeah we were pretty much that family that showed up in the middle of praise and worship and sometimes later. He is not late for his job and the children are not late for school he reasoned. The Lord wanted us to have a renewed perspective on going to worship as it is more important than a job or school. Point well taken Pastor Tyrone. I will say it is a lot of work but with more deliberate planning on my part it can be done. Hear me when I say that I write this post not as an expert or as someone who has mastered all of this. I am in the thick of things here folks but I have found that consistently implementing the following steps has helped us to be punctual.
1. Washing and combing the girls hair can be very time consuming. With that in mind I now try to wash and comb the two older girls hair on Saturday. This way I just have to focus on Faith’s hair on Sunday morning. No more playing beauty shop on Sunday mornings.
2. Select and iron clothing for children and adults midweek. This is a huge time saver. When I say select clothing I mean everything, including accessories (tights, socks, belts, etc.). Make sure the tights you thought would work don’t have holes in them, not fun to find this out on Sunday morning. Even with a designated spot to put them, shoes can quickly go missing from our shoe closet downstairs. Tyrone has made it a point to get the younger two boys church shoes and put it in their rooms as opposed to the regular shoe closet. This way we don’t run the risk of searching for missing shoes as we are heading out the door.
3. Fill your vehicle with gas during the week, don’t wait until Sunday morning.
4. We also try to make sure everyone completes their homework either on Friday or Saturday. This way we don’t have to stress about signing papers or completing homework before or after church. I realize that this may change as the kids get older and their homework becomes more difficult. However at this point in the game we are trying to teach them to prioritize and prayerfully these lessons will stick.
5. Restock the diaper bag with pampers, change of clothes and wipes the night before. In the morning, I have a designated child pack snacks for the younger ones and fill the sippy cup. He is also instructed to take the bag immediately to the van once the task is completed, ensuring that we do not leave the diaper bag behind.
6. Get to bed at a reasonable hour. We try not to entertain the mindset of ” oh it’s the weekend so we can stay up as late as we want.” We don’t allow the children to stay up late on school nights so the same holds true for the night before we go to worship. Our service starts a little later but we try to have breakfast together on Sunday mornings and we also have to travel a distance for church. We are not mommy and daddy kill joy so the kids may stay up one or two extra hours later but we encourage them to get a good night sleep.
7. I aim to get up at least a hour before the entire family on Sunday morning. This means I have to be wise about what time I go to bed on Saturday night. During this hour I cook dinner. Don’t be too impressed, I try to make my Sunday dinner as simple as possible and make the oven do most of the cooking. I do not try new recipes on Sundays. I stick to what I know and what I do well. Sunday is the day for whole roasted chicken, ribs, roast, etc. I like to slow cook my meats so I put it in first thing in the morning and by the time we are ready to leave for church 4 hours later, I can take dinner out the oven and put it in the fridge. I also aim to prepare sides that require minimum work like oven roasted sweet potatoes or steamed vegetables. It takes me approximately 30 minutes most mornings to prepare a nutritious Sunday dinner. We sometimes choose to eat out on Sundays as a special treat but this is an exception not the rule.
8. We have a departure time in mind. This sounds simple but it really is needed. If you have the mindset that we will leave when we can, it doesn’t give you a goal to work toward. Announcing to the older children what time we want to leave helps to keep them on track and keep us all on the same page.
With six children 11 and under things won’t always go as planned but the above steps have helped to minimize a lot of frustrations on Sunday mornings.
What are some things your family does to prepare for Sunday Worship?
We live in a society that often complicate simple matters. Money is great and I could always use more. However, the lack thereof should not be used as an excuse for not spending quality time with your children. No, we have never taken our children to Disney, and we don’t go on too many vacations but this doesn’t mean that we don’t spend quality time with them. Below are some things we do on a weekly basis to spend time with our children, providing a sense of security.
1. Pray with your children. Yes that counts as spending time with them. Prayer breaks down walls you didn’t know existed between you and your child. We have been making more of an effort to have corporate prayer times as a family. Tyrone and I are not the only ones that pray, we give each of the children a chance to participate. You hear what’s on their heart during this time. Some of that prayer time is spent disciplining and training the younger ones to be still, this can sometimes be frustrating but necessary so we keep at it. My goal this year is to also have individual prayer time with each child. It may only last a few minutes and that’s ok. I often ask them what they need prayer for, there is a short dialog, we pray and carry on. Each week the prayer time looks different. I am learning to not always wait for the perfect moment but to incorporate prayer with the flow of life.
2. Attend church together each week as a family. I have a husband, six children and we are all very different. Attending church together to worship God is our common ground. The sermon that was shared, the songs that were sung, the people we spoke to at church, the prayers that were prayed, the convictions that were felt, the aha moments that came as the preacher preached…these all give us some point of connection to dialogue on throughout the week. I know of parents who go to church without their children because they view them as a distraction from service. They may also feel that church is too long for the children especially if there is no nursery or children’s church. Believe me when I say I get this. I have had my fair share of being in the hallway with a misbehaving or loud child during service. But this is a part of the training. They eventually get it, some sooner than others. More seeds are sown than you may realize even if they don’t understand all that is being said. God knows how to reveal His truths to the youngest of soul. Whatever you do, choose a church based on God’s leading and not your child. It’s not always about the abundance of flashy and exciting programs for your child. God knows exactly where you and your family need to be for your spiritual growth. Trust his leading, it has eternal implications.
3. My husband has a weekly library date with the children. Each week the children are allowed to check out three fiction and three non fiction books along with some videos. While picking out the non fiction books, Tyrone gets insight into their world and interest. Conversations naturally flow and it is an outing that they look forward to every week. The kids absolutely enjoy this time with their father. Library cards are free and there are always new resources at the library, not a bad deal.
4. Eat dinner together as a family. I get it, we are all busy and I know that this is not always possible to do every night. Perhaps you can start off with picking just one day of the week and build from there. When we eat together, we each go around sharing the high (good) and low (bad) parts of our day. This gives us a lot of insight into each other’s day and provides a lot of teachable opportunities for Tyrone and I.
What do you do to spend quality time with your child? Leave a comment below.
After 14 days on bed rest, I began to have contractions. I called my husband late that night letting him know it was show time. They gave me a shot to stop the contractions. It worked for a little while. However by the next morning the contractions increased and there was no denying that our baby girl was ready to enter the world. They quickly rushed me to the labor and delivery room. The nurses ran down the hall as they pushed my hospital bed with my husband right behind them. It was like a scene from a movie. They didnt want to take any chances considering all the unknown factors. I was given a shot to prevent bleeding on the baby’s brain because she was going to be 10 weeks premature. The shot made me sick to my stomach. I was dizzy, had a pounding headache and felt disoriented. After waiting a while, the contractions slowed down again. They however decided to keep me in labor and delivery because everything was so unpredictable.
Tyrone went home to take care of some things hoping that we had bought more time. I was famished, I begged to eat something because I had not eaten from the night before when all the action began. I was placed on a liquid diet, and let me tell you jello and flavored ice never tasted so good. Later that evening the contractions started again. Tyrone was called again, and this time we knew that it was actually going to happen. In addition to my doctor, nurse, and husband my room was filled with staff from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) getting the incubator ready. It was such a surreal moment. My husband and I tried to be “normal” and carry on conversations between contractions but we both knew that our current predicament was everything but normal. In a few hours we would know if God had answered the way we desired concerning Faith. I believe the anticipation surrounding Faith’s health distracted me from the pain I was feeling with the contractions. All along I was praying that all would be well.
The contractions became more intense and closer together and after two pushes on May 14th at 10:29pm, Faith Serenity Jones made her debut into the world. Tyrone did not cut her umbilical cord like he had done for our other 5 children. Neither of us got to hold her or see what she looked liked. She was immediately rushed to the NICU. So after 30 weeks of uncertainty, numerous visits to different doctors, 15 days on bed rest, I had no tiny feet or sweet cheeks to kiss. No baby to nurse. I had given birth but no crying baby in my arms to prove it. I felt absolutely numb and empty. No words can truly express what I was feeling.
My husband and I sat in that room and waited for over two hours with so many unanswered questions about our baby girl. What did she look like? Was she struggling for life? Were all the possible diagnosis true? We tried to carry on normal conversation but we were both physically and emotionally exhausted. I sent a text out to all those praying with us and waiting to hear news, and the only news I could share was her name. No weight or height, no pictures attached, just that she was here. It was as if time stopped for me.
After a very long wait, we received news that we could go down to the NICU to see baby Faith. I was very happy to see Faith, but it was also kind of a scary sight. She was literally skin and bone, she was so small ( weighing only 2p 6 oz 15 inches long). She had so many cords over her tiny body and a tube over her mouth for oxygen. Her facial features weren’t very noticeable because of all the equipment on her face. But I needed someone, anyone to answer the nagging questions, was my baby ok, did she have any heart defects, was their bleeding on her brain, did she have a chromosomal abnormality?
We were told that Faith had a tiny hole in her heart but it was expected to close on its own. As the days went on, more test were done. No bleeding on her brain, no chromosomal abnormality, no heart defect. Praise God, other than her low birth weight Faith was fine. Faith was healed!
She however had to remain in the NICU for 1 month to grow. That proved to be another adventure. The hospital was 30 minutes from our home and we struggled with maintaining some sense of normalcy with the other five children at home, while trying to go and see Faith. The children always looked forward to visiting their baby sister in the NICU but we were all ready for her to come home. It was a very tiring season but we thank God for his grace. After a month, we were given the news we had been praying for, our baby girl could come home!
So here we are, a little over a year later and we have celebrated Faith’s 1st birthday. She is petite and healthy. For this we are thankful, God is indeed faithful!
If you havent done so already, you may want to read part 1 of Faith’s story.
All five children had a dentist appointment. The plan was for me to take them to the dentist and then go and pick Tyrone up from work and head to Costco (the highlight of my day). It was a very long dentist visit and as I was sitting in the waiting room for the last child to finish her cleaning, I knew something was wrong. Right there in the dentist office my amniotic sac broke and began to leak, how about that for an adventure? I remained calm, left the dentist office with all five children in tow. I went to pick Tyrone up from work and as he was entering the van, he could hear me speaking on the phone with my doctor. She instructed me to go to the hospital right away so that I could be examined. Believe it or not, I was trying to see if we could make the trip to Costco before going to the hospital. My very wise husband decided against it.
Tyrone let me out at the hospital so I could go and get examined and he went to park the van. By the time he made it in with all five kids, I had been examined. I kindly asked the nurse to tell him what she had just shared with me. She looked at my husband and informed him that my water did break and I had to be admitted to the hospital and would remain UNTIL I DELIVERED THE BABY. I really wish I had a camera at that moment to capture the look on both of our faces. WHAT?!!! NO!!!!! We have five children. I have things to do. I have end of the year papers to sign and special programs to attend at the kids school. I have things at home to prepare before the baby arrives. I STILL HAVE TO GO TO COSTCO!
There was no negotiating, I had to remain in the hospital on bed rest. They were concerned about infections and they wanted the baby to stay in as long as possible considering I was only 28 weeks gestation. So the papers were signed, and there I was just like that on on bed rest. They gave me steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs develop quickly, the shot was more effective 48 hours after it was given. So another layer was added to the wait and see game. Not only did the baby remain in my womb for that initial 48 hours but she remained for a total of 15 days. This was a huge blessings because every extra day was beneficial.
The nurses in the hospital were absolutely amazing and did their best to make me feel comfortable. We received so much support,help, prayer, meals and words of encouragement from various individuals. We were certainly grateful for the help. Tyrone was doing double duty, his job and mine. However I must confess that it was extremely difficult for me to not be the one doing it all, after all I am THE wife and mother. Perhaps there was some pride mixed in there…who am I kidding? Yes! It was pride. I had no choice but to relinquish control because we desperately needed help.
People kept on asking me if I was bored and the answer was always no. I really missed being at home with my husband and children, that was the most difficult part. It was definitely a challenge being still. But the Lord really used this time to minister to me in some profound ways and he also opened the door for me to minister to some of the individuals that came to my room. For those that know me, I am rarely at a loss for words. This personality trait came in handy while on bed rest. I had lots of conversation with the nurses and different visitors.
For the 15 days that I was on bed rest, there was not a day that went by that I did not think about my baby’s health. What would be the outcome? As I was in that hospital room, I would lay hands on my womb and decree that the baby was well. But there were moments where fear crept in and whispered, “what if?” God told me to trust him and what I had learned is that putting my trust in God didn’t always mean the story would play out the way it was scripted in my mind. A greater level of trust required me to believe that no matter how the story ended, it was all going to be for my good.
So after 15 long days, on May 14, 2013 Our baby girl began to show signs that she was ready to enter the world. Click here part three to read what happened next.
Three days ago I celebrated my 36th birthday. It was a blessing and I was left with a heart of gratitude as I thought about this time last year. On April 29th, 2013 (the day after my 35th birthday) our world was turned upside down. I was 28 weeks pregnant with our 6th child. The pregnancy up to that point had been quite eventful.
I had a preliminary screening done for possible abnormalities when I was in my second trimester. The results of the screening indicated that the baby was at high risk for spina bifida and down syndrome. I had a follow up appointment with a level 2 ultrasound. While the ultrasound ruled out spina bifida there were still great concerns that the baby had some sort of chromosomal abnormality. There were three findings that were of concern to the doctor.
1. My placenta looked unhealthy, it was very thick. This was of concern because the baby’s growth could be hindered and it presented a greater possibility of having a premature or stillborn baby. From that point on they began to closely monitor the baby’s growth which meant more visits to the doctor.
2. The umbilical cord contained only two blood vessels, instead of the normal three. I learned that babies with single umbilical artery have an increased risk for birth defects, including heart, central nervous system and urinary-tract defects and chromosomal abnormalities.
3. The baby’s heart was in the middle of her chest as opposed to the left. The doctor was also concerned that there were holes in the baby’s heart. So in addition to my frequent trips to monitor the baby’s growth, I also had to see a pediatric cardiologist.
When I left the doctors office after hearing the news, I went to the bathroom and cried…sobbed. I felt that I had already met my quota for suffering while going through with Isaiah (baby #5). Wasn’t having your newborn baby stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and undergoing three major surgeries enough? I cannot go through this again was my response to God. It was too painful. He allowed me to cry and vent and then he gently asked me if I truly believed he was in control. In that moment by his grace, I made the choice to trust God and receive the peace He was offering. Tyrone and I chose to stand in faith and had others praying with us for total healing of our baby girl. Walking by faith was a choice I had to make everyday.
On April 29th, 2013 at 28 weeks gestation, I was in for yet another surprise. Click here for part two of Faith’s story.
I want to do marriage the good old fashioned outdated bible way. I want to be my husbands biggest cheerleader. I want him to be happy to come home because he knows a warm home cooked meal is waiting for him(well most days at least). I want him to know that I respect and love him. I choose to magnify his strengths and pray like crazy concerning his weaknesses. I want him to share his heart with me without hesitation or fear that I may judge him. I want my actions to make him fall in love with me over and over again. I want him to still be happy that he chose me to be his bride even after 13 years of marriage. Now while the feminist may scoff at this and render me as a weak and needy woman, the bible says the opposite! And oh, for the record I am so weak and needy, and admitting this has been so liberating and brought a greater level of intimacy between me and God and my husband (2 Corinthians 12:9). Nevertheless I digress, back to the topic at hand. Have you ever read the bible and the words just leap off the page and you can hardly contain yourself because you finally get it? I recently read Proverbs 31. Yeah that same passage that challenges us women in so many ways. It’s amazing because often times when this passage is discussed, the focus is on all this woman DOES as opposed to who SHE IS! I find it interesting that the passage doesn’t open up with all her deeds, instead, it first highlights how her husband feels about her. “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. HER HUSBAND CAN TRUST HER, AND SHE WILL GREATLY ENRICH HIS LIFE. “Proverbs 31:10-12.
I must admit that I have not always proven myself to be trustworthy to my husband. No I have
never ran off with another man but I I have done a lot of running with my mouth. I have never had issues with telling him what I thought he was doing wrong, what was wrong with him and what he needed to do better. When I was done I would expect him to trust me with his thoughts. In short I was a being a nag! I felt very justified in my nagging. I must praise God for his grace because He has brought me from a very loooooooooooong way. Let all the “expressive” ladies say amen! I have already confessed in a previous post that I love to talk but I am learning the delicate art of knowing when to speak and when to be silent. I don’t have to stop talking, I just take my chatting party to God in prayer. I must confess that sometimes as he is speaking, everything in me is screaming, “I CANT BELIEVE YOU SEE IT THIS WAY or HOW CAN YOU THINK LIKE THAT!” However, as I am learning to hold my peace and not always play therapist in our discussions, my husband is sharing more of his unedited thoughts with me. And you know what, I find that when I listen, REALLY LISTEN he is more willing to solicit my advice and comments and a greater level of trust is developed. And it sure is easy to love somebody you trust, dont you think?