Book Review: Loving the Little Years

posted in: Books, mothering | 2

Raves: that is all I have ever heard about this book.  And in some ways, I think those are correct.

And in some ways, I think those raves fail.

Where this book is strong is in its every day ideas for parenting of multiple small children.  Jankovic’s experiences she shares with her readers bring them many practical steps for raising children that are great with their siblings.  I would love to pick this book up when I’m facing difficult challenges when parenting goes awry.  She offers great biblical advice for mothers who are in need of direction of how to set their children on the right path.  As some of my friends have said, you will want to read this at least once a year. 

Another aspect of this book that I love is short chapters. She definitely knows and identifies with her main audience here: mothers who don’t have a lot of time to themselves.  As most mothers will testify to – quiet time is scarce: sometimes stuck between nap times or when you are taking a shower, or drying your hair (especially on those days when you actually get a shower).  These chapters are short and practical and funny and down-to-earth. You will want to read it time and time again. 

Here is where this book fails for me:

1.  Although she is most definitely a Christian and writes from a biblical perspective, a gospel perspective, there are maybe a handful of Scripture references in the book.  With all of her references to the gospel, to obedience, to the Law – there are many opportunities for her to direct her readers to Scripture, and the sufficiency of it for our parenting.  Instead, we mostly just have her experience, which is great – but I want to base my parenting on the Word and see what of the Bible I can bring to Baby’s life and mind – and point him to the source.  Also, if I want to share this book with other parents, or a neighborhood small group of moms (made up of Christians and non-Christians) they see good kids are the outcome, but not necessasrily gospel-centered children who see Christ in their parent’s parenting.

2.  There are very few mentions of how the Dad plays a role in the parenting.  If you take this book and Gospel-Powered Parenting and combine them – then you would have one that reaches both parents because it would speak to the joint effort of parenting with the spiritual leading of the Dad as the head of the home.   One may be too Dad-based and one (this one) may not have enough Dad in it.  I know she is writing to moms who are “stuck” in the house all day with children (and by stuck I’m not being sarcastic or rude, God allows our role to be in the home and we have the ministry of running our home and raising our children).  But, I do believe Dads need to have more of a hand in the parenting that happens in the house.  Even though he may be gone all day, I want my husband to be an integral part on our baby’s life and heart. 

All that being said, here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge.” – pg 50

“It is not about ignoring the sin, it is about renewing the fellowship.” – pg 76

“When you have disciplined, there should be a restoration of fellowship.” – pg 86

I know, who am I to talk, I’m not a “real” parent yet – I’m not having to make disciplining decisions on the spot and dealing with 3 children tugging at my skirt and flinging flour all over the kitchen or one who has a diaper blowout.  But, I hope to apply some of these great tips that she has offered and hopefully employ my husband’s help and his kindness and grace tied with the hope of the Word of God.

Baby Campbell Update

posted in: mothering | 1

Baby..come on!

We have a  name (it will be a surprise – just let me tell you I LOVE this name and am so excited)!

Our crib has been ordered.

Almost done with registering at Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, and Target.

Done with birth classes.

I haven’t thrown up in 10 days (praise the Lord). 

I have gained too much weight but I’m trying not to stress about that.

I’m reading books.

Husband is reading books.

It is already HOT (most days).

Little pregnancy annoyances: dry lips, aching back, clothes are tighter, can’t wear my wedding band (although thankfully my engagement ring still fits), headaches constantly.

Joys: no recent stomach issues, feeling baby boy kick all the time, praying through Boyhood and Beyond for baby, knowing my husband is going to be an amazing father to this little one.

Almost 24 weeks – count down is on!

Thanks to my friend Moments Under the Sun Photography for this wonderful picture capturing my baby and my love for him!

Mother’s Day etc.

posted in: mothering | 1

Mother’s Day was one that brought many thoughts flooding into my head.  Actually – I had been thinking about it days before and continue to think about it today – so I guess I should say the topic floods my mind with thoughts!  Can a topic flood?  That was just for my editor who corrects my grammar!

This was indeed my first Mother’s Day.  I am thankful for Baby Campbell in my tummy and he was kicking up a storm – even so that my sweet hubs felt him continually.  Felt like he was getting rearranged or something in there last night as I was laying on the couch.  E gave me a sweet card with two little white booties on the front.  I love carrying his baby!  He is such a kind husband!

My MIL and FIL came over for lunch.  We had pecan glazed salmon, green beans, scalloped pototoes (who can go wrong with 3.5 cups of heavy wbippjng cream?), crescent rolls, with homemade Italian Cream Cake for dessert.  These were my MIL’s wishes – so I obliged her.  The Italian Cream cake is my favorite and it was my first time making it.  Except for some of the cake not coming out of the pans, it was delicious.  Enjoying leftovers definitely!

I did call my Mom, though probably the last Mother’s Day I actually spent with her in person was 2007.  That’s a long time.  Thankful that she keeps me posted on family members and what is going on in the sunshine state.  I asked her to tell me more memories of her mother, my Granny, who has now been gone for 2 mother’s days.  She told me Granny could draw really well.  I didn’t know that.  Ask, learn, pass down information!

Here are my random thoughts:

1.  What a great responsibility that God has blessed us with in raising a boy.  To raise him to be kind, loving, a servant, a follower of Christ, a manly man, to bear his responsibility for masculinity well by grace.  Honestly, I was leaning toward wanting a girl, even though I was 100% we are having a boy, just because I like pink and purple!  But, oh, what a privilege to raise baby in light of Jesus!

2.  I hurt for all those women out there who can’t have children, either ever or just for a season.  I know too many of them.  I hurt for the ones who have miscarried recently or have lost their babies to sickness. My heart aches for them.

3.  I love learning from mothers who aren’t my mothers: Phyllis, Tina, Danna, Lindsay – especially those four – what a blessing! (They all have boys and I hope to be learning from Amber and Betsy soon!

4.  I hurt for the women who aren’t even wives yet but so want to be married and be able to have children.  I have known that want for quite a long time, but God in His graciousness saw fit.

5.  I hurt for ones who have lost their moms.  What a painful, bittersweet, heaven-filled joy (hopefully) of memories of their Mom.  I wish my E had gotten to know my Granny.  I still miss her. 

Photo credit: GreenFlash Productions

Prayer Journaling for Your Husband and Children

posted in: Bible, marriage, mothering, Women | 2

“So train the young women to love their husbands and children.” – (Titus 2:4 ESV)

I learned this very well from my mentor, Phyllis, through the years as I’ve watched her diligently and passionately pray for her husband and children, and their spouses, and now her grandchildren.  As I’ve started my own for my husband, and now my Baby Boy Campbell coming in September, I wanted to share some thoughts and how-tos that I’ve learned from her over the almost 20 years of knowing her.

1.  Get paper.  I remember after my second date with my husband, I went to B&N later that night and got a moleskin notebook and started journaling and praying for him, knowing one day I would give it to him at our wedding.  And I did.  He is reading through it now.  But, really, ladies…you don’t need a moleskin or fancy notebook.  You can use a journaling Bible (like this one from Crossway) and journal through your reading in there or just grab some loose-leaf paper and stick it in a folder (like we did back in high school, before everything needed to be turned through a computer).  The paper doesn’t matter, the action does.

2.  Get a pen/pencil/crayon.  I have tried to steer away from pens that will bleed through the pages of my moleskin (almost done with #2 right now) but sometimes a bleed pen is the only one around.  I would also challenge you to get a real pen and paper (not a computer) because you’ll be able to cherish these notebooks for years to come and your children and husband can read them as well!  I know we are a techno world now, but I truly believe that some things are better hand-written.

3.  Get a Bible.  One of the MUSTS for this type of praying is that you pray Scripture over your spouse/children.  What Phyllis taught me is that I don’t need books or even to be really creative, I just need God’s Word.  She trusts in its sufficiency, and so do I.  You don’t have to start a new reading  plan – just read.  If you want to, start with the Psalms, or one of Paul’s epistles or (gasp!) even the book of Deuteronomy.  Pray these Scriptures for your husband/children.  Here is an example from Psalm 112:

   Praise the LORD!
 Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
  who greatly delights in his commandments!
 His offspring will be mighty in the land;
  the generation of the upright will be blessed.
 Wealth and riches are in his house,
  and his righteousness endures forever.
 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
  he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
  who conducts his affairs with justice.
 For the righteous will never be moved;
  he will be remembered forever.
 He is not afraid of bad news;
  his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
  until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
(Psalm 112:1-8 ESV)

“Father, I praise you and thank you that you have given me a Psalm 112 husband.  Thank you for answering that prayer.  I thank you that E fears you more than he fears man and that he takes great delight in your word each morning, even as we are going through James this year as a couple.  I pray that our children, even this little one in my tummy right now, will be blessed to follow and know you and dwell richly and mightily in the land as they seek you wholeheartedly because of your grace and the display of faithfulness of their earthly Father (all because of grace).  Thank you for allowing my E to show me grace and mercy when I fail, and fail miserably at times.  Thank you also that he pursues you and righteousness.  Continue to weigh in his heart and his actions so that they might please you.  I praise YOU that E is a generous man who does not hoard the money that you have blessed us with but wants our giving and our home to be a place of blessing for others.  May we continue to live in that way.  I pray Lord, that even in difficult times, that you would make his heart strong and firm in you – knowing that you never change and that you will lead him in righteousness (Psalm 23).  Do not let him coward and be afraid, but be bold and know that you are God until the day that you make him triumph over his enemies for the glory of God in the world.”

And you can take the same chapter and pray it for your children, as I will for baby Campbell.

4.  Pray.  I know this may seem like the easiest one to do, and I do pray for E all the time and pray for baby Campbell as well (honestly mostly in the shower), but do this.  I remember living for a time with my mentor and her family.  I remember waking up early in the morning and walking downstairs, and Phyllis had already been there for hours praying and reading for her soul and the soul of her family.  This was such a testimony to me.  I fail in this so much.  I need more grace to make it happen and to make it a glorious habit.

5.  Save.  Save your journals.  I will save mine.  Got an email from Phyllis this morning even that she has bookshelves and a chest full of these journals.  What a legacy for your children and spouse as they see a wife/mother who first loved Jesus then prayed and loved them as well all the days of her life. 

6.  Side note: I sometimes read these journals to E as a way to encourage him.  I let him read the first one (I gave it to him before our wedding).  I use it as part journal of our marriage too.  So for part of the journal I’m talking to God and part of it I’m talking to E, or baby Campbell in his.  I’ve already seen how encouraging this can be and how much fruit can be harvested from this daily duty of delight (see John Piper). 

PS…You can definitely read through books and pray those for your husband or children.  I remember reading through A Guide to Biblical Manhood written by SBTS profs Dan Dumas and Randy Stinson and praying through those traits for E before we got married.  By all means, use other things, but let Scripture be your guiding principle!

May I encourage you to begin today to be a wife and/or mother who lives by prayer and the Word of God.  We fail miserably without them both.  Thankful the Holy Spirit works His Word in us and shapes and fashions us according to His Plan and for His glory!

Phyllis – thank you for praying for Billy, Jeremy/Katie, Jill/Matt and all your beautiful grandchildren – and for me.  You have truly been a Scriptural blessing in my life and continue to be so!  Proverbs 31 by grace, you are!   And if you have anything you would like to add Phyllis, please add it in the comments: I still have much to learn!


Test Taking

posted in: mothering | 5

Tomorrow is a big day.  I feel like I’ve felt like Annie singing “Tomorrow, tomorrow” or how about the little girl in You’ve Got Mail when she sings it which is doubly as cute, but three times as annoying!

Tomorrow is the day we’ve been waiting for for definitely more than a month, but at least 3 weeks since we got this appointment made.  What is going on?  Our big ultrasound.  Here are some hints to how to survive this evening:

1.  Eat Peep Smores.  I’m so glad its around Easter and these little sugary gems are abundant in the grocery store.  I don’t like them by themselves, but ever since I was invited to a Peep’s Party as one of the females on staff at Providence, I’ve enjoyed them.  And adding more sugary to already yummy smores – what could be better?

2.  Popcorn and a movie.  A comedy – with no baby mishaps or miscarriages or baby deaths in it – one that we can laugh at it and enjoy – don’t know what it will be yet, but I’m sure we will find one.  And at least for movies: it is very difficult for me to watch one without popcorn!

3.  Reading.  I won’t be reading any pregnancy “what to expect” books, I’ve already done all of that up until this point, but E and I will be reading some Psalms that are encouraging and reassuring of God’s faithfulness.  We did this the night we found out we were going to need to have this ultrasound and then I cried myself to sleep.  I won’t be crying myself sleep tonight like I did that night, but instead, I plan on hopefully sleeping well and waking rested to enjoy an ultrasound.

4.  Praying.  This has really been a time of fruitfulness in prayer in this area.  Anxiousness and worrying is not according to God’s wonderful plan for our lives (or our baby’s life) so we could either choose to live in sin or we could hand over those cares and concerns to a God who knows already what we need, what we’ll have, and if the baby will be healthy or not.  We can do nothing to change what He has already done (Psalm 139).

5.  Community.  I have some close friends who I’ve shared specifics to and some others who have asked for specific prayer requests for tomorrow and even more who may be acquaintances but who are very excited to find out what sex Baby Campbell is.  I am so thankful for these friends who share this burden with us.  They are God-given and an amazing support system.  Community is so important when you are going through something important and you need people to walk through it with you.  I remember breakfast with a sweet couple the morning we had our doctor’s appt.  Just being able to share our burden with them and have them pray for baby C right then in Panera was a blessing to both E and me. 

6.  Faith.  Not faith in “everything’s going to work out fine” but faith in a God who works all things together for my good, knows our needs before we even ask them, is in charge of the whole universe and the health and sex of our baby, faith that that God has already given us everything we need in Jesus, so He will also graciously give us all things for His glory (Romans 8:32).

7.  Joy in the suffering.  The last three weeks have taught me many things about doubt and uncertainty.  It has also taught me that I’m impatient, but that’s beside the point.  It is ok to cry.  It is ok to share what your thoughts are.  But, what is needed at the end of the day is the total assurance that God is in control, He loves me, God is for me so who can be against me or my husband, or our child.

8.  Caffeine.  I will be drinking it in the morning to get Baby Campbell awake and moving so our baby cooperates with the little wand and cold gel.  No number two pencils needed.