I never set out for all of this to happen, at least not so soon and not quite like this. Him? All of them?
No they were not in my real life plans. I left for the University with big bags and big dreams. I had declared that I would not become a Mrs. until I earned my PhD. Yes I was on a mission, my mission. Then I met this young man name Tyrone at the 22 Illini bus stop on 2nd and Chalmers in Champaign. I had no clue that this meeting would forever change my life.
I came home that faithful winter break my junior year of college. I was full on the outside but was empty and hurting on the inside. Salvation had been a long time coming. The church was having a revival and my soul desperately desired to be revived. I had been running, and when I stepped foot in that church I stopped. It was then that God began to change my mind.
I went to the altar and said Yes to Jesus. 3 years later on August 11, 2001, I went back to that same altar and said yes to Tyrone. The vows I uttered were poetic but for the record, I had no clue what I was really saying yes to.
The” for worse” part came sooner than thought. We had some extreme lows (full display of flesh, hair loss, income reduction, sick babies, shed tears, and anger) but these lows created a greater surrender, pressing out a “yes God go ahead and change our minds because you know best.”
The beauty and the challenge of getting married young is that you get to “grow up” together. We have seen God perform surgery on our hearts on more than one occasion over the last 14 years. God has birthed beauty from great pain and closeness when the enemy sought to tear us apart. My love for this man has gone deeper than I thought possible. All of my initial plans have not been accomplished but here I am 14 years later thanking God that He changed my mind!
I do not like potty training. At. All. But it has to be done. I have often heard that you have to go when the child is ready but I think it is equally as important that the trainer is also ready. Potty training a toddler is not for the faint of heart. My almost two year old has been showing signs that she was ready, but I was not…until yesterday. I was talking on the phone to a good friend and she encouraged me to not ignore the signs and miss this “great” opportunity to get number 6 out of diapers. I had to get my head in the game. So off to Walmart I went with all six kiddos in tow. I was tickled by how excited the siblings were at the idea of getting Faith potty trained. We picked out a potty and she was beyond thrilled. She screamed if anyone touched her potty. It had to be in the front of the cart with her. So one would think that she would immediately sit on it when we got home…not so. She screamed and refused to sit on the potty last night. I backed off and decided to give it a try again today. I was pleasantly surprised at how she “Embraced” this new adventure. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that she did not have 7 people standing there cheering her on to go potty…yeah I suppose that was not a good introduction. Today most of the crowd was at school so I think she was a little more relaxed. I have used different methods of potty training but the one that I am choosing to go with has proven to be the quickest and most effective. It is tiring and flat out gross but totally worth it. So what am I doing?
This method was not my original idea. You can read here and here for more details. Most promise that if you use this method you can have your child potty trained in 3 days… consistency being key. I used this method with child number 5 and he was potty trained in a week and a half…not a bad deal. This is not to say that we did not have accidents after the initial training.
The first day is the MOST DIFFICULT. Be prepared to clean up messes and your patience to be tested in new ways. But hang in there, it will click for your child if you remain consistent. What is your favorite potty training method?
I gave birth in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013. In between all of that I had two miscarriages, one in 2006 and another in 2008. I think it’s fair to say that my body has been through quite an adventure. After each birth, I was left with a sweet baby and some extra pounds as a souvenir of the journey. I was not one of those moms who lost all the baby weight while nursing. I would have loved for that to have been my testimony but it was not. I have found what works for MY BODY to be healthy without counting calories and spending hours working out. I follow the Paleo diet 90% of the time. I also work out five days a week in the comfort of my home for 10-20 minutes in the morning. My short workouts are better than doing nothing at all.
My body certainly doesn’t look like the girl I knew before child birth and I am learning to be ok with that. I can’t obsess about returning to what was, just work on keeping healthy what now is (not sure if that’s grammatically correct but you get the point…right?) I have tried to return to old eating habits (mainly consuming way too much sugar) and not only does it pack on the pounds but it also brings some not so pleasant side effects. After a really long morning a few weeks ago, I found myself hiding out in the pantry with my twenty month old eating just about all the caramel flavored popcorn from Costco. I was so convicted at the end of the day, not because eating caramel popcorn is a sin but because at that moment I was being gluttonous and using the sugar as my god and comforter. I was certainly not hungry at the time, just extremely irritated. Prayer should have been my recourse not sugar! I have to continue to ask God for the grace to exercise self-control to do what I know is right for my body to be healthy.
My choice to eat healthy and exercise has a trickle-down effect with both natural and spiritual implications. When I eat and exercise like I should, I have more energy to effectively fulfill my call to be the keeper of my home. My sleep is better which in turn helps me to get up feeling well rested giving me quality time in prayer and bible study. I am not as emotional and snappy. Ok…I still have my moments but they are not as frequent. I am not constantly in a brain fog because I have consumed all the wrong things.
So to answer the question, does Jesus really care about my eating habits and my overall health…yes, He absolutely does! I know from personal experiences that He directs His children in EVERY AREA. If you have not done so already ask Him what the best health plan is for you. If He has already told you what to do…OBEY! My goal to be the healthiest me for this season of life now goes beyond vanity. However I must confess that this was the initial motivation. I recognize that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and also its God’s desire for me to be healthy in body as I am strong in spirit (3 John 1:2). Hear me when I say that the goal for every woman should not be to look like the model on the magazine. We are all built differently and not everyone was intended to look the same. Instead, be driven by the desire to please God by taking care of the temple He has given you.
I don’t want you to walk away from this post feeling condemned because you struggle in maintaining healthy eating habits and are challenged with the idea of consistently working out. Instead I pray that you walk away feeling encouraged to do what you know is needed believing the Lord to extend His grace as you make up your mind to walk in obedience. Let us take this journey together, striving to be healthy so that we can be used even the more for God’s glory! Are you on board? Leave a comment below to let me know.
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.
Read part 1 and part 2 of Faith’s story if you haven’t done so already.
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!