Sunday, April 21, 2013

Things I Am Glad I Taught My Son

I will be the first to say that my oldest son is a special kid completely, 100% on his own. He has the most sensitive heart for people that I have ever seen. He is intelligent beyond what I can comprehend. He is overall just amazing.

But I also see that I got a couple things right. And I think that it is important to share things that made a difference for us so it might can make a difference for someone else.

1. We only said "NO" by accident. It wasn't a word that my son really knew until we started Baby Signing Time. What we did say helps us almost every single day. When Austin would start exploring things that we didn't want him to be touching, we would say "Not for Austin." As a younger baby, if he was putting something in his mouth that didn't belong, we would say "Not for your mouth." You might think that this is much like saying "no," but I do not agree. I think what we said was more specific and more easily understood. After we had our second son, we had occassion to say that things were not for Landon, and Austin easily understood that he didn't need to give whatever it was to his brother. "Not for {insert your child's name here}" can be your go to phrase in all types of environments with consistent use and follow through.

2. We taught him what "dirty" meant in the context of touching things. There are some times when the items that Austin wants really are made for him ( in the sick room of a doctor's office). I try my hardest to eliminate future confusion by avoiding double standards. The toy in the sick room that is also available to Austin in HIS room are different. One is for Austin and one is not, but kids don't always understand the difference. So in the one time we did have to take him to the "sick side" I told him that he had to sit in Daddy's lap because the things in that room were "dirty." This probably wouldn't work so much if he liked getting dirty, but he isn't much for dirt. He always repeats that they are dirty, signing away, and then doesn't even try to get them. If your kid likes dirt, you might want to find another way to express it, but recognize where confusion might lie.

3. Way before we knew about signing, we taught tiny Austin how to point to what he wanted. He tried, just like every other kid I have ever seen, to yell to get what he wanted. We like going out in public, and this behavior just wasn't going to work for us, so we would whisper to him, "if you want something you have to lower your voice and point." It didn't take long to get him to go about things the way we wanted. Getting louder and louder didn't get him what he wanted, but he wasn't ignored either. There is middle ground that I rarely see in public, but we found it. I always enjoy seeing a furrowed brow because an elderly couple is seated beside "the baby/toddler" only to have them stop by on their way out to say how wonderful Austin is. This may be the one thing that I know for certain was mine and my husband's doing, but it is a biggie. That doesn't mean that he never "forgets." We just have to remind him that we (and our expectations) haven't changed.

I am not an expert on parenting...far from it. All I know for certain is that I have wonderful kids that are well behaved (most of the time). I think a lot of it comes from their security from my nursing, and a lot of it comes from consistent training. I can remember a couple weeks there where I was sure that what I was doing was not working, but it turned out that I just had a stubborn kid on my hands (I wonder where he got that from). Eventually it clicked, and life got easier. I put the hard work in at home so it looks peachy in public. And it does get easier at home too, thank God.

No matter if you feel your kid would or wouldn't be helped by this post, remember the best parenting advice that you could ever be given is as follows:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. ~James 1:5

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Battle Within

I received my letter of acceptance to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary today. I never really questioned whether I would get in; I am a little prideful when it comes to my previous academic success. But I have to say when the tiny envelope showed up amongst the junk mail, I snatched it up eagerly to see if it was an acceptance letter, secretly thinking to myself "thin letter normally means rejection."

I am nervous about registering for my first class. I'm excited, granted, but really...I feel a TON of pressure. I assumed five years ago that I was done with school. I had had my fill. So for the past five years, I have been able to hold onto the "trophy" of having never made a B on a report card all the way through graduate school without any additional effort. Now, I have a challenge.

I am a wife and a mother. My number one priority is serving my family in a way that is pleasing in His sight, but I am not just going to seminary for the fun of it...I really believe I am meant to do this. I doubt it will be easy, especially with my main focus being on my boys. I believe that God will give me the strength I need to continue on with my good record, but deep down, I am terrified that I won't be at the same level I was after having such a long break and adding my new roles to the mix. And I also hope I'm not in for some grand "lesson" from God on education at my former idea of success' expense as I prepare to begin homeschooling in a few years.

I'm not who I was back then. My view of education really has shifted (atleast when I am thinking about my boys). I'm really not as interested in getting the A out of these classes as I am learning deep truths of God so that I can help people in some way. When I was in college for education, I had professors that looked for certain answers, and I had no problem giving them what they wanted, even if it wasn't exactly what I got from it all, because the ultimate goal was that pretty letter that kept my parents paying for school, got me scholarships, and gave me first choice on where to live on campus. I won't really have that option this time around. I won't be able to "fake" what I learned or fabricate something that He hasn't revealed to me, or at least I have no interest in doing that.

I'm not sure what the future holds. Maybe I'll have the same kind of success I did back then. Maybe I won't. All I know for sure is that I am going to pray with all my might that I learn something I can use and that I won't be so devoted to something that means so little that I miss what He has to say to me through this part of my journey. Because my ultimate goal now isn't that A. It's having a marriage that represents Christ and His church, raising my boys to have an authentic faith in the Lord and exemplify biblical manhood, and helping those that He sends my way where they have need.

But, hey, wouldn't it be nice if I still got A's?

No matter how much we grow, and how far we come, we should always take time to evaluate our hearts. The pressure to make an A is going to be on me with every class I take. It's hard to lay something down that has defined me for so long. It is going to be a challenge to keep my eyes focused on Christ rather than grades, but it is a challenge I am ready to accept. So today, I am laying down any fear I have of letting anyone (including myself) down or having my best in this stage of my life not be "A" worthy. And I am going to pick up the truth that God is with me and has a plan right now for everything He is going to teach me through this journey. I resolve to give my very best to Him. My best as a wife, a mother, and a student.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Lesson from Reba

Shortly after I wrote my A Lesson from the Cosby Show post, I was watching Reba. Reba probably wasn't as popular a show as the Cosby Show, but it ran for YEARS, and it had a lot of really good lessons. Sometimes they were in your face (like their run on the topic of alcoholism), but I am always excited when a single moment really speaks to my marriage or parenting in some way.

In the scene, Brock (Reba's ex husband) is promising to do something with Jake (their son). After Jake leaves the room, Reba scolds him for making big promises that he doesn't keep, and how it affects their child. It hit me how great she handled that.

I am a HUGE believer in every thing we say affects our children. I think it molds how they see themselves and the world around them, even in the baby years. I speak positive things over my sons DAILY. The responsibility I have as a mother is ENORMOUS in that respect. But how many times do we find ourselves in a position where we react to our spouse with the kids right there? And not always with words seasoned by love and grace? I am guilty. My husband and I hit a rough season recently (brought on by absolutely NO time together other than a couple hours while the boys were up). With no one on one time and tensions high from a deprived relationship, I had many a day that I felt guilty in how I had reacted to something. I could see recognition hit my oldest son's face one day, and I vowed to stop the madness. Luckily, our relationship isn't quite so deprived now that things are balancing out, but I'm challenged on occassion in how I respond to things.

Reba did the right thing in waiting until Jake left the room. I'm not saying that you should never have disagreements with your spouse in front of your child. It is good for them to learn how to handle conflict in a responsible manner, but when your top is about to blow, let it go for a minute, so you can reach a point where you CAN handle it responsibly. Who knows how many times if I had waited, the whole thing would have been forgotten by the time my little ankle biters weren't around (it is really hard to stay mad at my man for just about anything, especially with how hard he tries to do the right thing). But either way, that one scene plays in my head now. I like a visual to go with my lessons. They are a little easier to remember.

Kids are sponges...let love and grace and hope and God's truth saturate them. That way they are so full that all that yucky stuff can't be soaked up so easily.

If you have your own strategies for how to responsibly handle conflict with your spouse, feel free to comment below!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

My News!

Welcome to my blog! Today is a big day...I have a "my journey" post I am working on, but I didn't want it to get too late before I shared what I have been hinting at on facebook, and my journey is taking quite a lot of typing. Almost everything has led to this.

I am applying to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to pursue a graduate certificate in women's ministry!

I have considered this on more than one occassion, but it is finally time. I hope to be taking my first class this summer called Women's Ministry for Mothers. Those of you who know me well know how passionate I am about helping moms (I am also very passionate about encouraging wives. Hence my blog name. :)) I wasn't sure at first if I would just take a class or two or pursue a basic certificate requiring 8 hrs, but the plan is now for the graduate certificate since I already have two degrees. It will require 15 hours, but it was the perfect time for me to begin since they are offering the two required courses within the next year online. So I am diving in!

I don't know the reason I have felt like I wanted to pursue this for quite some time. This has been almost two years in coming (well...probably even more than that). Almost every class I can take is something I am really interested in. I don't know where it will lead me, or what God has for me to do through this, and I really don't mind the not knowing. I'm just ready for the journey.

I'm being made new every day by my sweet Savior, doing things I would have never dreamed. From nursing two boys to applying for seminary to all the little things in between, I am thankful for Christ working in my life, and I'm excited for things to come.

In Him,

p.s. I would love it if you would check out some of my other posts!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Chalkboard Devo

When I was in college, I was fresh in my faith, and the Lord moved me to write devotions. I used to get up before school or student teaching, and I would send a facebook message to all my Christian friends with what I called my "morning messages." Once I graduated and went on to graduate school, I added some more readers, including my now husband. On our first Christmas together as a married couple, he put all of the emails together in a word document and gave it to me. Such a sweet gift.

Now we are going on five years of marriage, and those morning messages are still dear to my heart, and they have been calling to me. I love to write, but a lot of times my blog goes without posts because I don't feel like people will understand me. I want my blog to be a blessing to moms and wives. I want it to bring glory to God and reveal truths from His word and how we can apply it to our lives.

I have spent the last few weeks telling my husband that I couldn't find my voice in this space...that somehow I do not know how to put all of my passion into posts that I can publish rather than delete. The truth is, I really want to continue to write devotions. It's the best way that I feel God speaks to me through His word. I love all the pretty pictures and sites that the women I look up to in the blogosphere create, but I just can't do it. My main focus is honoring God in my home, and it takes me about all I have got to do that and get into the Word myself. Posting random thoughts isn't really fitting into my schedule.

But I really do feel passionate about writing. I may not can give how to love your husband in three easy steps, but I can apply scripture to how I love my husband. I like looking at the words used and really analyzing what is being said. I like feeling the Spirit reveal truths to me as I grow as a wife and mother. So I created TheChalkboardDevo, a blog meant only for the types of messages I used to write, and I wrote my first new devotion today. I'm a little on the rusty side, but it made me happy to spend time with my Lord today and dream of someone else being spoken to through them. It's easy to find my voice there because I am really speaking to myself, journaling the truths I find. Simple truths without all the distractions.

I hope you will check me out there. I pray that, if you do, the Lord will speak to you as well, and that you will yearn for His Word in your life, letting it prepare and guide you in every situation you face.

In Him.