How I prepare for church with a large family

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?

 

4 simple and Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time With your child every week

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. IMG_2261

 

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. IMG_2371

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. IMG_2313 20141228_113726

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.

20141210_191603

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.   IMG_2224 IMG_2422

What do you do to spend quality time with your child?  Leave a comment below.

Stop pouting and pray

I have a confession to make.  I have had more opportunities than I wanted to practice what I was preaching this week. My last post was about dropping to my knees in prayer, and boy was I fired up when I wrote it.  I was one determined praying somebody.

20141010_182302

Yes ma’am I was on a roll BUT THEN  LIFE HAPPENED!  Many things caught me off guard, just like life to do that.  Each day this week  I was challenged and by midweek I found myself pouting…more than once.  I woke up this morning determined to get back in the game.

20141029_122742

During devotion I  read the story of Hannah from 1 Samuel 1 to the children. I told the kids that Hannah stopped pouting and decided to pray.  She was in distress, life was not turning out the way she expected. Yes her husband loved her BUT she was barren.  And to add insult to injury her husband’s other wife who had children taunted and constantly reminded her of her barrenness. Hannah was overwhelmed with pain. But she did something interesting with her pain and disappointment. She brought it to The Lord…in prayer.  As she was pouring out her heart only her lips moved and Eli the priest saw and assumed she was drunk.  That must have been a for real no holds bar, I ain’t even gonna pretend no more, this thing really hurts, I am desperate and broken Lord  kind of prayer.  Real pain birth real prayer.  And there is something about real prayer that moves my daddy to action.  He delights in a humble heart.  Hannah received an answer of peace and she went away believing.

20141029_173330

So here I am AGAIN this morning, embracing His new mercies, making a decision to earnestly pray and not pout. Resting in His answer of peace.  And you?

Hitting the floor and dropping the weight in 2015

It is the start of a new year and many including myself have health goals. Most have a few extra pounds to loose and a desire to be more toned.  While I have put together an action plan to meet my goals, I have another method to drop a different kind of weight.  This year I am gonna hit the floor more… on my knees in prayer to drop all the weight that is not mine to carry.

Before I go pulling out my violin and telling you all that’s wrong

Before I run to the pantry for a treat to calm my nerve and give me temporary relief

Before I get all worked up trying to explain and convince my husband of my point of view

Before I say yes when the answer should be no but I am looking for your approval

Before I start feeling discouraged that I have entered another year and I still have not seen the manifestation of hair growth that I desparately desire

Before I get burderened down with your situation and feel bad that I cant fix it and make it all better

BEFORE I DO ANY OF THAT…I am gonna drop to the floor and unload that weight in prayer.

Prayer is so POWERFUL when coupled with Faith.

It moves mountains.

It heals the sick.

It changes my perspective causing me to praise instead of complain, bringing peace to the storm.

It helps me to rejoice in ALL Things, even the bad.

It fuels my faith to speak those things that are not as though they were and then I stand back and watch GOD WORK IT OUT!

It gives me the inside scoop on God’s will for my life, and I come off my knees with such confidence and fierce faith!

Prayer is free therapy and you can rest assure that the therapist understand what you are going through, He’s been there and came out victorious. It is always convenient to pray, as a matter of fact we are told to pray at all times. God’s ears are always open to our cry.    And when you earnestly pray, it produces great results.  So… are you ready to hit the floor in prayer with me this year?  Leave a comment below to let me know.

 

 

Dear God Please Undo What I Have Done

She was not sleepy, I just got her her up 30 minutes prior.  She was not hungry she just gobbled down breakfast AND NO she was not wet. I changed her diaper right before she ate.  But there was princess tugging at my leg demanding that I pick her up.  Why?  She is spoiled, very spoiled.  All I could do was whisper in desperation, “Dear Lord please undo what we have done. ” You see Faith has a story and when God answered our prayers, we were overjoyed.  We brought our miracle home and spoiled her… real good.  Tyrone and I were not the only culprits.  Her siblings stayed in her face.  If she cried, there were six other pair of hands ready to rescue her, it was a team effort.  And today we are dealing with the results.

 

IMG_20140308_102343_0

preciouscute

sleeping

20140802_185012

20141225_164717

How many other times have I prayed that same prayer when I felt the consequences of MY poor choices.

When I yell at my children in anger and unleash misdirected frustration at them. I see them deflate right before my eyes.  I feel ashamed.

When I speak negatively of others and I later hear my children with the same critical tone.  I am forced to look in the mirror.

When I have had one too many “deserved” treats and I am left  feeling sluggish, cranky and quite round.

All of the above situations leave me asking the Lord to undo what I have done. I have learned that God won’t go back in time and undo my mess.  However, all is not lost. When you have a surrendered heart, He provides the tools to move forward and the wisdom to make choices aligned with His will.  My life testifies to the fact that repentance invites the Lord to masterfully redeem self inflicted pain.

So here we are at the close of 2014 and it is so easy to focus on all the mistakes, all your shortcomings, all the ” I knew better why did I?”  Perhaps you are currently dealing with the painful consequences of choices that you made in 2014 that were out of God’s will. There is no sense of hope for the new year only regret for what’s behind.

If you have not done so already, Jesus is lovingly inviting you to come to Him.  Repentance is liberating and His forgiveness is the sweetest medicine I have tasted.  While others may condemn and remind you of your mistakes, it’s not so with my  Jesus…this is my testimony.  So with all the New Years resolution, won’t you put a yes to Jesus at the top of the list and watch Him redeem in 2015!

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 NLT

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

 

 

Adoration leads to loud praise

Oh come all Ye faithful.  Have you been found faithful?  Come let us adore him..for He alone is worthy, Christ The Lord.

My adoration for Him manifest in praise.  LOUD. PRAISE.

It is not a cultural thing. It’s a I have been redeemed  and forgiven of my sins fact.

He left the splendor of heaven to be born in a stinky stable. He came on a mission to save me.  That same baby grew to be the man Jesus…from Bethlehem to the cross.  That was a LOUD statement of adoration, I am honored.

He didn’t die a quiet death.  He was openly humiliated for sins he knew I would commit.  The insults they spoke. The false accusations.  The nails they pierced through his hands.  The crown of thorns placed on his head.  The blood that He shed. They were all LOUD.  Very LOUD!

The moment the earth quaked and the veil of the temple was torn in half, giving me free access to come  boldly before the throne of grace . Now His grace flows through every aspect of my life in a very LOUD way.

He didn’t silently heal my babies. Yes, I am talking about that again because you weren’t there when this mother cried very LOUD tears begging Jesus for a miracle.  LOUDLY petitioning him to reverse the prognosis.   And he did.    Perfectly and LOUDLY.

When I silently reflect on all he has done for me, the quiet reflections manifest in LOUD praise.  It’s not that I can’t contain myself, it’s that I choose not. After all, he chose not to withhold his blessings from me.

Please don’t get annoyed when I praise.  It was not meant for you, only for an audience of one…the one I adore.