Thursday, August 30, 2007

I LOVE when God asks me to share my air conditioning!

Ok, so it's only happened for the first time this week, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. My friend Christa's air conditioning went out at their house, and since the air conditioner fixer people seem to have been inept at getting it fixed, she's spent the last two afternoons at our house with her three kids while they escape the heat. She says she feels bad, which is just so silly, because it's been such a JOY for me to have someone to just hang out with, let the kids be crazy and wild while we do our best to ignore them, and talk to each other as much as the munchkins will let us. Anyone who knows me well at all knows that I would love more than anything to hang out and talk to friends all day. I'd do it every day, if I could! Relationships are important to me. I feel that they are especially important during this season of young motherhood. I'm sure it's true for every season, but since that's where I am now, I can really appreciate the gifts that God gives in friendships with other women. It seems that God is blessing me here by bringing some great girls into my life, and I want so much to cultivate those friendships to a deeper level.

I have really enjoyed getting to know Christa and her family, and I am thankful that God is bringing more opportunities to get to know her better. I first met them soon after we moved here, and I recognized that this couple had such depth to their walks with God, and I was so impressed by their passion for Him. Truly their lives showcase to me God's grace in a big way, and it has been a huge encouragement. I feel like there is a lot I can learn from her. And she is just going to have to be my friend now, whether she likes it or not! Yesterday afternoon, I was holding her three-month old baby boy, and Jonah walked up and put something in my hand and asked, "What's this?" It was a little dark ball of something, and I told him I thought it was an old fruit snack that he must have found on the floor. Upon closer examination, I recognized an odor that would quickly indicate that it was not a fruit snack. Oh yes, it was a little ball of poop. Christa immediately grabbed the baby and I jumped up to dispose of it in the toilet, check Jonah's pants to see what he had done in there, wash my hands a bazillion times, and pray repeatedly and fervently that my son had not put it up to his mouth. We soon found another small ball of poop on the living room floor. I realized quickly that it was not a product of any of Jonah's activity, since he is not yet skilled in pulling his underwear and shorts down and up and there was no way he could dispose of one small poop ball without leaving evidence in his Spiderman undies. It looked suspiciously similar to Christa's daughter Rebecca's earlier diaper inhabitants when she had her last diaper change, so we eventually surmised that the "mystery poop" as we referred to it, must have escaped when Rebecca's dirty diaper was taken out to the trash. Don't know how that happens. Don't really want to know. But Christa, if you are reading this, now you know: you're stuck with me. I'm making you be my friend. And you can't say anything about it, because I held your daughter's poop IN. MY. HAND. It's a done deal. You owe me. =)

I've got to record video of Jonah soon, so he can perform for you a little bit. I'll need the technical support of my very computer-savvy husband for that though, and he's very involved this evening in the first college football game of the season. So I'll try to get right on that as soon as possible. Jonah is just getting funnier by the day. I asked him at lunch today if he thought it was going to rain. He looked out the windows up at the sky for a long time and then replied, " I don't see the thunder......probably not." Just adorable. And you wouldn't believe this kid's imagination. Every mealtime, he tells us that there are elephants under the table. Every time. He is always pretending something. It's pretty funny. It might be the first trait of his that resembles any part of his mother!!! I had quite the imagination as a child and some might say I'm still a little dramatic. Whatever. It's great that Jonah is that way, because it really allows him to play with one or two toys (which usually involves his farm animals or his zoo animals) all week and not get bored because his toys are "doing" so many different things every time. I'm loving it. Oh yeah, and one other funny thing he said this week....He slipped and fell in the kitchen, and I asked him if he was going to be ok. He said, "yes, I'm ok......I'm very happy," and he got up and kept going wherever he was headed. Oh, Jonah, you make your mama very happy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Let the Busyness Begin...

I can feel that Fall is coming. We've reached the point when all the "new stuff" of the year seems to be starting or starting back up. I'm thrilled about it all though. We have several new ministry things on the plate. For one, Joel and I will be starting a new community group at our church this September, which is certainly what God has for us right now. It will be for young couples, and God hasn't yet shared with us who those couples will be - apart from our good friends Mike and Ame Hansen. So I'm SO excited to see what all God has in store for the group. I'll keep you posted on here, because I have a suspicion God has great things in mind. The women's fall Bible studies are starting in a couple of weeks. Mom and I have been busy organizing those, and yesterday we had a party for all of the ladies who will be teaching this fall. If I haven't said it before, this place has an amazing women's ministry, and we gathered together for about an hour and a half yesterday afternoon to fellowship, pray, and really celebrate the stories God has given us about what a blessing women's Bible studies have been in our lives. Which leads me to this....

I am not at all pleased with how my public speaking skills went yesterday. Before I dropped off Jonah at my sweet friend's house and headed to the meeting, I ran into Chick-fil-A to get us some lunch. We waited in a long line, and when we got up to the place of being the next one to be helped, Jonah has to go to the bathroom. So we get out of line, take him to the potty, and come back to find an even longer line than before, and we waited through that. Ah, the joys of having a big-boy who's not quite big enough to hold it for TWO MORE MINUTES. Anyway, that's really beside the point. Here's the real story: When I dropped off Jonah at my friend's house so I could attend the meeting, I discovered that my car wouldn't start, and I ended up being late to my own event. Fun times. I was the last one there. And I was the first to speak at the podium. I was actually out of breath. I must have come across as extremely nervous, and I can see why, but I truly wasn't nervous at all. I LOVE sharing my story....God has made me so passionate about this, so it's easy to talk about. However....something happened yesterday. I didn't speak well, I left out entire chunks of my talk so I know I didn't "wrap it all up" well, and I was trying to catch my breath for the first ten minutes. I realize this may not sound like abnormal behavior to any of who you despise public speaking, but I was a communication major in college!!! If my professors could have seen me yesterday, they'd have been REAL SAD, I just know it. Well, once I moved past my introduction/welcome into the time I was sharing about my own personal experience of what Bible study has meant to me (which perhaps I'll blog about soon), things were going much better. Until I started CRYING. I made mention of one name - Betty Whistler - and the tears came. I was not prepared for them at all. And all I could think was, This is SO cliche. Crying at a women's meeting at church? It's to be expected. But I was NOT going to do it. I was going to be peppy, upbeat, cheery, all "YAY God! YAY Bible Study!" Somehow, I don't think my overwhelming tears (and I do mean the kind of tears that you can't talk through) conveyed that message. It was an experience, to say the least. A humbling one. One that I have to trust God with. I felt prepared, confident, and then WHAM came the car trouble, the tardiness, and things I really couldn't control. So I am making the choice - even though I am rather disappointed in my delivery yesterday - to trust that maybe God had someone there who needed to see that, who needed to see someone leading who didn't look like they had it all together. Maybe it was a teacher who was doubting their skills and wondering if they were doing the right thing by leading a study when they didn't feel they communicated well or had the gift of teaching. Then, they better have been convinced!!! Because that was not fun to be put through. =)

I feel like the Lord has brought that truth to light in my life before....that sometimes someone I minister to in my home needs to see a home that is not Pottery Barn. Not perfectly decorated, put together, or ridiculously clean. Sometimes that meets them right where they are and is a better environment for communicating God's love to them. I know I am encouraged and downright blessed when I see people use their homes to express God's love and hospitality even when their house isn't this perfectly decorated Parade of Homes-type house. Interesting how He works that way sometimes.

Anyway, back to yesterday's event...apart from my speaking-craziness, I really consider the day a success. God received so much praise for what He has done in people's lives, and it really was the pep rally we needed to get excited about what God is going to do when our Bible study classes begin in a couple of weeks. I've been getting really excited about mine. I've spent the last several days typing and organizing notes in preparation, and I keep running into people who tell me how huge of a topic (anxiousness, fear, worry, panic, etc.) it is, how they have been delivered from MAJOR fear in their lives. It's something God absolutely loves to free us from, so those who have gone there with Him really have some amazing stories. And I've been blessed by hearing a few of those lately. I am praying for the ladies who will be joining me on this study. I know a few of them personally, and I already know they are going to have incredible insight into the real freedom that God gives from these struggles. I've seen them live it. I can't wait to be in class with these women. Only two more weeks!

This weekend, my brother and his wife and kiddos will be coming for a visit. I. can't. wait. It's been way too long since I've seen them. Well, it's been just over a month since we saw Nathan, but I haven't seen the others since the first weekend of May, and I do believe that four months is the longest I've EVER gone without seeing them. Blake and Amy, I'm hurting for you guys to get here!!! I know some of you think that's crazy for me to be sad about not seeing them in four months, and I would just tell you that you don't know this family, and you didn't have The Best Brother in the Whole World as your brother. (He was actually voted that by a few of my friends in high school, I remember. It's official. So, there.)

I just felt like starting the morning by going over all of the exciting new things happening in the next several weeks. Hope you're not too bored. Forgot to mention that next week is the Children's Clothing Consignment Sale!!! I'm volunteering to work at it this time, so that I can go to the earliest preview sale with my friends. Hoping I find some good stuff! Oh, who am I kidding. Of course, I'll find good stuff I want. I suppose I'm really hoping I can afford all the good stuff I find. If you're wondering what this sale is, here you go. Oh yeah, and here is their actual website.

Happy Ending-of-Summer!

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Surprise Lesson

Well, this post really isn't about potty training. I can see from the lack of comments that it's probably not at the top of your list of discussion topics! But bear with a few more sentences that concern it, because I want to share a simple truth God showed me this week. I really have been surprised by how well potty-training has gone. I know it's because of this whole process being bathed in prayer (thank you for yours!), and it's just been God's grace to allow it to go so smoothly. But more than that, I've been surprised by how much I've actually enjoyed it. Before we began, I wanted to expect the worst so I wouldn't be disappointed. But I found very quickly that I couldn't really make myself dread it. I found joy, even satisfaction, through the process of teaching my son a skill that is very important for him to learn. Even cleaning up the messes was not a problem, because I knew it was necessary for his development of this skill. I was having fun helping him learn. And then it hit me - isn't that how God is towards us? He is full of desire for us to grow in intimacy with Him, in knowledge of who He is and who He wants to be in our lives. He wants so much to see the life of His Son lived in our lives. But so often, I think that my learning process - including the ups-and-downs and huge messes I make - must annoy the heck out of Him. But I'm convinced this week that He finds joy in helping me grow into who He wants me to be. He understands my nature to take a little longer than is necessary to get to a new place with Him. It doesn't mean that my slowness (or lack of enthusiasm, to be clear) doesn't grieve His heart; I know it saddens Him to see His children walk in bondage when the price has already been paid to set us free. But He is the ever patient teacher, knowing that we're on our way to bringing Him more glory with our lives. I guess the tenderness and graciousness of God is just hitting me in a new way this week. Even though sometimes I get so tired of struggling with the same things and I'll actually wonder out loud to God, "Aren't you sick of me yet?!!", He gently reassures me that He's not. He's my parent. And he's going to help me get there. And He LOVES doing it. The grace will keep coming because that's who He is. If someone had told me how fun potty-training could be, I wouldn't have believed them. But I appreciate how God has used it to give me a tiny glimpse into how He loves me enough to find joy in the process of teaching, guiding, nurturing, and redirecting me.

Need a reminder of the tenderness of God's love for you, His child?

Read this and this.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Potty Training, The Diet Plan...

Potty training. It's the new diet plan. Have you heard? Get a jump start on losing weight by spending a week concentrating solely on your child going to the potty. You're watching your child so closely, tending to him every few minutes, so you really have no time to eat other than eating the necessary meals to provide sustenance. And even those have to be quick. But you're really distracted from snacking! No boredom snacking going on when potty-training, because there is NO TIME to be bored! And you don't lack motivation going to the gym, because you'll do ANYTHING to get out of the house for an hour when hubby gets home.

Brilliant, isn't it? Too bad it's already slowing down. Guess that's the bright side of when potty training takes a little longer to be successful. =)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Potty Training, The Details....

Don't worry, I won't tell any of the gross kind of details! I just want to say that it has been a very good week. The first day, I expected a lot of messes, and that was the case. But by yesterday morning when Jonah woke up, he really started to get the hang of it. He didn't have an accident until almost lunchtime, and he had two right in a row, and that was it. Today, we went all day with NO ACCIDENTS!!!! YAY!!!! I am so proud of him. It's his biggest accomplishment yet in life, so I'm celebrating. But I'm trying to hold back the excitement too, because I know we are a long way from being able to boldly venture out in public. We are not carefree yet and won't be for a long time. I realize that a lot of the time, I was able to get Jonah to the potty "in time" because of recognizing certain signs and immediately getting him to the potty to go, but I don't count those as real successes because I want him to always tell me he needs to go. He has quite a few times, but it's not consistent. I have to really watch him and keep my eyes open constantly for the signs he gives of needing to go....because if he's enthralled with something fun he's doing, he will deny that he has to go even though he's holding himself and jumping around! So I just want to be clear that even though we've had an accident-free day and he's kept the same underwear on all day, we are far from out of the woods on this one. He's been so cute to watch in his big-boy one point yesterday he was wearing just his Thomas the Train undies and a cowboy hat. Wish I had taken pictures!

I don't know why, but I hadn't stopped to think about how sad this was going to be. I'm still not thinking about it yet. I want to just get through the training part and help him to be successful in this area, but I know that as soon as he masters this skill, I'm probably going to have a meltdown of some sort. I keep pushing it back, not wanting to think about how sad I am that my baby is not really a baby anymore. I can tell that it's going to come though. I'm not ready for the emotion. Consider this a warning....if you come into contact with me during the next few weeks, be prepared that I may be on the verge of being a total crazy person. But like I said, I don't want to think about that right now. Just praying that God will pour out His grace for that moment, when it comes!

Just in case anyone wonders what "training strategy" we have used, I thought I would share some of the details because I LOVE hearing the details of different parenting things people do. There are so many great ways to do it, and every child's needs are different, so this may not be helpful to others who will be potty training their child in the future. But I appreciated hearing and reading others' stories and advice, so here it is. Maybe it will be helpful for someone. And if you don't want to hear about little boys going to the potty, then you may want to just skip the rest of this post and join me on the next one!

  • We mainly used the strategy set forth in the book Pottywise....yes, it's written by the same people as the Babywise books. You pick the day to start, and on that day, you automatically put them in big-kid undies and start the process. We set the timer for 15 minutes and when the timer wentt off, we checked to see if his underwear is clean and dry. If so, he got to pick a prize from a bowl of little toys I got him. As soon as we checked for dryness, I took him to the potty. If he did something in the potty, he also got a treat, but it was something smaller, like a few M&Ms. You do this repeatedly throughout the day. The main point in Pottywise that makes it so successful is that they stress the importance of rewarding keeping their underwear clean and dry over rewarding the actual use of the potty. It's so logical and is what seems to make all the difference, because lots of kids will have a half-accident, messing up their underwear, but still making it to the potty to do a little in there, and we reward what they do in the potty. So we have to make a much bigger deal over being clean and dry when the timer goes off. So that's what we did. And we stretched out the increments to 20 and 25 minutes later on that first day. I really only did the timer the first day. By the second morning, it was a more familiar process, and he went in the potty as soon as he got up and really never needed the extra motivation of the toy-prizes from that point on. He still asks for candy sometimes, but we don't even give that every time anymore.
  • I love these strategies that avoid being in pull-ups during the day. I think it is necessary for them to learn how uncomfortable it is to pee in their underwear. So he only wears pull-ups at nap and bedtime. We are diaper-free now! And I've kept pants off of him during the day, just to make it easier. He's only worn shorts for the first time today (on the afternoon of the third day), and I really recommend that. You have to expect that there are going to be LOTS of messes that first day especially. You just have to be ready to clean lots of puddles, spray carpet, etc. It's a necessary part of the learning process. Jonah had more in the afternoon of the first day than he had in the morning, and I wish he'd had more accidents right from the start. It may have actually sped up the process. Make sense? I'm a huge fan of doing underwear only instead of switching back and forth between that and pull-ups. They really can't feel enough discomfort from messing in a's too similar to a diaper.
  • We "talked up" potty-training for about two weeks before starting, saying things like, "In another week, you'll wear big-boy underwear, pee-pee in the potty, and not wear diapers again. You'll be so big!" It doesn't matter if he understands. He just needs to hear it a lot. The weekend before, he picked out some big-boy underwear at the store, and the night before we started, he got to see all the prizes. That got him really excited! Though I must say, if your child is used to getting lots of toys and things bought for him all the time, then I don't know what kind of prize/rewards system of motivation you can do. I'd probably just lay low on spoiling him with stuff before starting potty training.....with sweets too, because you want those to be a big draw those first couple of days.
  • I think the most important thing in determining when to start is whether or not your child is a compliant child at all.If you haven't tackled other challenges having to do with their behavior and haven't seen much success with discipline strategies that you implement, then don't expect potty training to go well at all! You want them to be at a place where they trust you, are obedient (as obedient as a strong-willed toddler can be!), and want to please you.
So these are some of the things that have REALLY helped us this week. Now, I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow is really different and we have tons of challenges and accidents. It can definitely happen, and I want to be prepared for that. We're definitely not done! But these are the things that have worked out well so far and that I know we will be glad we did, regardless of how long it takes us to get this whole potty thing down for good. By the way, it's highly entertaining to potty-train a boy. I can't even write about all of the funny things, it would probably be mildly inappropriate.....but to those of you who will be potty-training a son in the near future, just know that you can call me and we'll share those ridiculous stories and I'll laugh with you about it. Because this process sure can be funny!!! Maybe one of the funniest things I've EVER been a part of. I'm so thankful for the laughs this week. Thanks to those of you who I know have prayed for us this week! I'm so glad God cares about potty-training.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Potty Day

Well, I'd call our first day of potty camp a success. I think. We had several victories and several accidents. Jonah is working real hard to be a big boy, I can tell. I think we're getting there. More updates to come as we march on! In the meantime, keep us in your prayers!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Museum Fun

Last Friday, my aunt Jan came from Lufkin, bringing three of her grandkids - Alex, Hunter, and Kate - and we met them at the Discovery Science Place for some afternoon fun. They are some of the sweetest kids. One of the large rooms at this kids museum is full of imaginative play stations....pretend hospitals, veterinary clinics, banks, grocery stores, etc., so the kids acted out all sorts of roles. They were cute! Of course, in that room, Jonah decided to play with the one thing there that he already has at home - puzzles. Go figure. And we couldn't get him to look at the camera in any pictures. Oh well. Jan, you've got those kids trained to pose and take pictures well - you need to teach me!!!

This week has been going really well. As a follow-up to my last post about our intensifying training/disciplining techniques this week, Jonah has had a great week. MUCH more pleasant and obedient and whole lot less whiny. THANK YOU, LORD. He had a couple of typical two-year-old incidents....not done out of rebellion, just curiosity. It's those kinds of things I can't really punish him for, because truthfully I've never told him not to do this stuff. I guess I just assumed he would know that this is unacceptable:

Note to anyone who cares: Never make assumptions. And never leave your two-year-old son unattended for five minutes with a purse nearby that contains writing instruments. My mom gave me some great advice about using natural consequences for this one, and I know now that he knows it's not a good idea to write on himself....or the furniture. Yes, my living room chair has a new look to it. My little artist decided to draw some new designs on it, similar to the ones covering his appendages. Only bigger.

Also. Never leave your two-year-old son unattended for two minutes in the same room as a box of Kleenex. I walked into the living room this morning to find that he had emptied an entire box of Kleenexes and torn them to pieces - LITTLE pieces - and scattered them all over the room. It was a mess. His explanation? He had been playing with his zoo animals, and he told me they got cold and needed "blankies." He had covered each animal with a Kleenex. Maybe I should be proud of his resourcefulness? I don't know. But this kid's imagination is blowing me away.

Other than picking up a whole lot of messes, we're having lots of fun. I just love this age that Jonah is. I have liked all the others too, but it just keeps getting better. It really does. This is so FUN! Remind me of that next week if I sound like I'm about to kill myself over potty-training. Only four more days until the nightmare begins. =)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Kelli-Time and Thoughts on Parenting a Toddler

Well, I was waiting to post about our trip to see Kelli earlier in the week until I got some pictures from her of the kids. So when I get those, I'll post them. For now, I'll just write about how GREAT and FUN of a time we had there! Kelli is such a refreshing friend to be around. She makes you laugh one minute and really makes you think the next. I always feel challenged in one or more areas whenever I spend time with her. I love her modern-day Proverbs 31-ness. For instance, her neighbor across the street - a young wife who has a new baby - dropped by that evening. I got the feeling immediately that this was someone Kelli had really been investing in. The girl stayed, talking to Kelli for a while, and her husband came over for a little bit too. After they left, Kelli told me that they were not Christians, but that she and Brian had been talking to them and investing, and that they had gone to church with them the previous Sunday. The husband doesn't know if he'll be back, but the wife wants to go. So Kelli is going to be taking her to church and women's things at church and connecting the girl to some of Kelli's godly friends who will also reach out to her. I loved seeing how this girl felt so drawn to Kelli and was comfortable being in her home and opening up to her about life. It reminded me that when we're open to ministry opportunities through our everyday lives, God sends them! And this is just one of the ways Kelli is SO Proverbs 31ish, and I love it. It ministered to me just watching their interactions that night, and I want to live that way - always open to relationships (that may even be unpleasant and hard) just to show them more of Christ. The whole night, I felt God telling me to invest, invest, invest in the lives of people around me who need Him. It takes time. It takes being pushed out of my comfort zone. It takes a whole new kind of vision to see these people and their needs. But oh I believe it is worth it to participate with God in what He wants to do in the lives of people around me.

Now, I know Kelli would hate for me to be saying all this stuff about how great of a woman she is, but we all know it's the Lord working in her life and not anything she's doing on her own. So, I will continue. Whether she likes it or not. =) Just spending a few days with her has totally rejuvenated me in the area of motherhood. I think she is an amazing mommy, and she is unbelievably wise in how she parents, teaches, and disciplines her daughter. I was soaking it all up! Carter is such a well-trained child. I noticed that immediately upon spending time with them. And it really energized me to be doing the time and putting the work into training my son right now and not later. Tuesday night, Kelli and I loaded up the kids and went to dinner at Chili's, and while Kelli would tell you it was the most entertaining night of her life, I would say it was humbling. Humiliating. Embarrassing. OUT OF CONTROL. Jonah put on a show of rebellion that made the previous week's Hobby Lobby incident look like nothing! It was horrible. That made two very bad running-away-not-listening-to-Mommy-in-public incidents within a week, and it was not ok with me.

So we came home from our trip and have been in full-on training mode in tons of areas. We're addressing issues of obedience, manners, appropriate responses to adults, mealtime name it, we're tackling it. It's repetitive. It's exhausting. And even though we're still in high-training season (which means discipline, hard work, not very fun), I'm already seeing glimpses into how the work is going to pay off! My child has been sweeter, more pleasant, and just all around more enjoyable the last few days. Here's the thing: Children need to know what their boundaries are and need to know exactly how Mom and Dad will respond to their behavior. It gives them a certain sense of security that then enables them to enjoy life more fully within their clearly-defined parameters. I realize not every child LOVES and THRIVES in boundaries (even though most firstborns and other want-to-please-and-get-approval-children typically do), but all children need them. I just haven't been as consistent with follow-through the last several months as I always thought I would be. So this has been a much-needed encouragement for me to get my act together as a mommy. I mean, it's my child's heart that is at stake. Even though, I admit, sometimes I live like it's my public image that's at stake. That's so not what's important. Whether or not I get made to look like a fool in front of others when my child misbehaves badly at a store or restaurant is NOT the issue. I have to remember that it's not. about. me.

So I've been running a tight ship around here this week! And it's making for a much more pleasant home life. And public appearances too! Jonah is learning respect and obedience. And he is still testing some days, and I know full well that he will test periodically all of his life really. But if we really work on these things now, when he's a young two year old, maybe in a year we'll be where Kelli and her daughter Carter are - where I can just make eye contact with Jonah and he'll stop his disobedient behavior at once because he already knows the drill and what's expected of him and what will happen if he doesn't comply.

But this brings me to the next thing I've been mulling over in my mind this week: How do I train my child with a focus on heart issues and not just rule-following? How do I make it so that he understands God's standard of right and wrong for his HEART and not that it's about pleasing his parents with his BEHAVIOR. Obviously, as it is with us, God cares about our hearts more than our actions, knowing that a right heart will always lead to right behavior anyway. I've known that was important for a long time, but only now are we really in the season of life (intense training) where those concepts of grace-based-parenting have to get really practical. So I'm on a journey to learn more of how to do that. So many conversations with friends lately have had to do with this very issue. By the way, I'm immensely grateful that God has put some friends in my path who are seeking to shepherd their children's hearts and that our conversations about parenting aren't all about how to make our children act right. Thank you, God, because I need the encouragement that comes from journeying with others through these challenging aspects of parenting!

Kate and I were talking about how important it is to use "biblical language" when correcting our children's behavior, because every issue is ultimately a heart one. We talked about things we can say that point to the root sin involved in whatever behavioral offense they made.....For instance, instead of saying, "You need to share that toy with your friend," we now say, "That friend is our guest, and we are his servant. Sharing is how we show him God's love." (I've totally copied that from Kelli as well!) When Jonah is not picking up his toys like I asked, as I am disciplining him, I don't just say, "Pick up your toys!!!", I say, "You need to obey Mommy and pick up your toys." Focusing more on the heart issue than the behavior is what's so important. Make sense? All of this, of course, goes along with and doesn't exclude a consistent response to the rebellious act with an appropriate, logical disciplinary consequence. Understanding their heart sins is what will eventually help my child to recognize his need for a Savior. I don't want him to "accept Christ" just because Mom and Dad say it's a good idea and he wants to please. I want him to understand from a very young age WHY he needs Christ in his life. I really believe that the way I train him now and correct him when he misbehaves can help prepare his mind to understand that need, without beating him down and overwhelming him with rules and regulations. I want him to fall in love with God because of His grace, and Jonah will only understand God's grace if he understands his own sin nature and spiritual neediness. And I think that all starts right now while he's a two-year-old testing his boundaries.

In September, there will be a Shepherding A Child's Heart class for families with young children, taught by two couples who have grown children and are very knowledgeable in these methods of parenting by grace. I am so excited. It's coming just when we need it. With all of these things happening, you can probably expect that I'll be posting a lot about parenting and all of these issues. It's on my mind a lot right now! God has a bunch of stuff to teach me, I just know.

One funny thing to leave you Jonah is starting to correct us on some things! A few nights ago, Joel was putting Jonah to bed, and Jonah asked his daddy to lay on the floor beside his crib. Joel said, "No, Jonah, I'm going to put you in your crib for night-night." Jonah immediately told Joel, "No say 'No,' Daddy. Say 'yes sir'."

Oh my.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Here are a few things Jonah said today that either melted my heart or made me laugh!

* This morning I was blowing my nose, and he leaned into the room where I was, and very sweetly said, "Are you ok in there?" (IN THERE??? How funny!)

* I was carrying him from the store to the car, and he grabbed hold of my head and pulled my face up really close to his and whispered, "You're precious." (Are you kidding me?!! I love this kid!)

* I asked him to carry in something from the car when we got home, and I was explaining how I had a bunch of stuff to carry and only two hands, because God gave each of us two hands, etc. He then told me he wanted another hand. Really? "I want another hand for my birthday."

If you haven't spent much time with him, let me just tell you....this child is hilarious!

We had a great time at Kelli's and I will write more about it later. For now, I've got to get dinner started! ASAP.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Girl Day #2

Well, I had the best time on Saturday when Kelli came to visit. She, Kate and I hung out while our crazy children ran around the house, playing and having so much fun together. I did a terrible job remembering to take pictures, even after I had just written about it that very morning...oh well. The day was so fun, in fact, that I almost went home with Kelli Saturday night and spent the night there. Well, then we decided that wasn't going to work out best, so we decided to go on Tuesday instead! So, tomorrow Jonah and I will be heading there to finish all the talking we were doing on Saturday. Kelli and I never seem to have enough time to really get to the good stuff....we just start getting to the deep topics right before it's time to leave. That's just how it is now that there are children in the picture and we don't live in the same town. So we are going to remedy that this time! I'm so excited for our trip and I will definitely post pictures when I return. Especially of sweet baby Campbell whose parents gave him a mohawk Friday night!!!! They are so crazy. And so fun. And soooo don't care if people are talking about them! I just love the Blairs. I wish I was as cool as them.

Yesterday, Jonah and I were in the car on the way home from church, and the following conversation ensued:

Jonah: "What's that?" (Now, he's not looking at or pointing to anything in particular, as far as I could tell.)
Me: "What's what?"
Jonah: "What's that?"
Me: "What is what?"
Jonah: "What's that?"
Me: "I don't know what 'that' is!"
Jonah: "What's that?"
Me: "What are you talking about?!!"
Jonah: "What's that?"
Me: "WHAT is WHAT????!!!"
Jonah: "What's that?"
Me: "Ggggrrrrrrrrrrrr."

Such conversations might be the death of me.

But I must say, he's been much sweeter the last couple of days. And more obedient. I'm loving seeing his precious little personality develop. However, I much prefer how it's developing this week instead of last week! Today, he ran from one end of the house to the other to tell me "Bless you, Mommy! Bless you," after I sneezed. I can't believe he even heard me, but it was so great. I've got to remember those sweet things when we're having a crazy day like last Tuesday and he makes it his life mission to humiliate his mommy in public! I'm sure it's about to get even more crazy around here.....Potty Camp at our house starts in two weeks!!! I'm just expecting the worst, and for most of parenthood so far, that strategy has served me pretty well! I'll be sure to update you all on the drama and messes and adventure that potty training is sure to bring!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Girl Day #1

My mom was so sweet to plan a whole day for us to hang out yesterday and do fun girly stuff together, things like shopping, pedicures, lunch, and a movie. It was a special day, and I am very appreciative of her giving me so much of herself yesterday to help make this a little sweeter of a weekend. And my dad deserves a big thanks too for baby-sitting the little guy. We saw the movie No Reservations, by the way, which I thought was a good movie, in case anyone wants to know.

Now I must get ready for my second consecutive girl day....only this one has children involved. Kelli is on the way here with her two punkins, and Kate will be joining us with hers, and we're going to spend the day hanging out. I. Can't. Wait. Only now I've procrastinated long enough, I must go do some housecleaning since she'll be here in about two hours. Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures of our day so I can post later.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Life of a Two Year Old

There's nothing like declaring a victory in one area of toddler-parenting to bring up several more areas that need work! Lest you think we don't have our share of two-year-old issues, yesterday was one of the most, make that humiliating....experiences of my life. It was supposed to be a very simple trip to Hobby Lobby. I expected too much from him, I think, probably because historically he's always met my expectations when we're out in public running errands. Anyway, he did NOT deliver this time. I'm going to spare you all the details because frankly, living through it once was more than enough. Let's just say I was that mom saying, "Stop! Stop!" while her child ran from her all across the store. I feel like everyone in the store saw us - if not, they definitely heard us - and it's a big store! I have to return something to Hobby Lobby and I have not yet gained the courage to go back in there.

If you know me, you know that I don't usually get embarrassed by a misbehaving child in public....public tantrums happen, and I always feel like if I remain calm, it removes from them the ability to try to control the situation by making mom angry. So I refuse to get angry, and then usually Jonah will settle down really quickly when he realizes he can't get me upset. I stay firm but I don't let him get the upper hand in a situation like that - because he'll always scream louder and harder and, frankly, he'll win every time! But yesterday was a different kind of situation all together, one that I hadn't yet experienced. It wasn't a tantrum. It was just blatant rebellion. And he was having fun doing it! He wasn't acting crazy (and oh my, he was crazy) out of anger; it was totally out of a desire to have more fun. He was hyper and was laughing at himself the whole time. He thought it was one big party in there! So, that's a whole new one for me to try to figure out. I've already spent time in prayer about it this morning....but yesterday would have been a better time to do that.

So following that lovely experience, he spent some time at his grandparents' yesterday afternoon so I could go grocery shopping. I was not going to take him to another store and put him in a shopping cart again. Not yesterday. Not with the kind of morning we'd had. Papa T and Gigi saved the day and rescued this desperate mommy for a few hours. Thank goodness for them! Anyway, Jonah didn't discriminate with his behavior but gave them a good portion of his hellish behavior too, just so they wouldn't feel left out of the party. While my mom was on the phone, he got into her pantry and opened a huge container of the tiniest little sprinkles and dropped them all over the floor, making the biggest mess my mom's kitchen floor has ever seen. Yes, that's my boy. My TWO YEAR OLD boy. I seem to be reminded of his age quite a lot in the last couple of days. I'm also being reminded of my desperate need for dependence on the Lord alone for wisdom in shepherding my son's little heart.

But remember what I said about him being charming?

He just ran into the room and pointed to me and said, "I love you the most!"

Nooooooooo, Jonah. I love you the most.