Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest Post: The Most Important Thing

The first time I took my 3-month-old firstborn to a pediatrician in the States is the first time I felt complete relief that I was not doing everything wrong. What had I been worrying about so much? Almost everything the doctor told me was opposite of everything my son’s pediatrician in Croatia had said. One country required different shots than the other; in America he was considered a good weight, in Croatia he was underweight etc. I walked out of the doctor’s office thinking about all the parents around the world (although I’m pretty sure western parents do this much more than any others!) freaking out about whether they’re doing things right, reading all the books and trying to keep up with the latest parenting fads when in reality so much of it just boils down to traditions or what’s currently popular in parenting styles.

Parenting styles differ from country to country in the same way they change from one generation to the next (my mom was told formula was better for babies than breast milk!).  Here in Croatia my parenting habits are often greeted with odd looks and questions. “Sometimes, we just look at your kids in the yard dressed lightly and rolling on the ground…” our neighbors once commented. Translated, that means “they’re not wrapped up in 5 layers of clothing on a springy day” and that we don’t freak out if they choose to roll down a little hill in our yard and get dirty.

My Croatian friends are also shocked that I let my kid pick up the apple that dropped on the floor a minute ago and put it in his mouth and that they walk around without slippers or with wet hair. In the states my friend was shocked that my youngest was on cow’s milk well before her first birthday, that I do just fine without many of the ‘must have’ baby products and that I use an attachment to a household vacuum to suck out snot from my kids stuffy noses (best baby product ever!). 

I too often obsess about my parenting habits. I read. I compare. But I need to remind myself that much of what I’m doing on an every day basis is not necessarily right or wrong and that in the end most of it really doesn’t matter. I’m not saying that teaching good eating habits, schedules or being wise with entertainment are not important parts of a child’s upbringing. Of course those things have some influence over the well being and future of my child. 

However, there is something so much more important than any of those things that I spend too much energy thinking about - their heart. What matters for their future and what will truly make all the difference is whether or not I’m pointing them to Christ. Their eating habits very well might change, just like their interests, and their daily routines. But through all that, I hope to plant a seed in their hearts of wanting more of Jesus. That is the one thing that doesn’t change with time. Easier said than done though. 

Just like in my own life, I get so carried away with the small things I forget the most important thing. In the same way I need to keep refocusing my thoughts and priorities, I need to be doing the same for my children. Move through the fog of the everyday questions and concerns so I can more faithfully and consistently point them back to Him.  


***Petra is a Croatian who went to college (and some of high school) in the US. She married a great American guy named Jeremy, and now they live in Croatia with their three kids (almost four!). They are missionaries who work with the church there doing camps, youth  work, baseball ministry . . . and a whole lot of other stuff! You can follow along on their ministry journey at http://bohallministry.blogspot.com or visit her husband, Jeremy's blog at http://cultureshock-jeremy.blogspot.com



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guest Post: The Depths of Motherhood

It’s a blur now. The days of having half a dozen kids in just as many years. Moments of tears and beauty have wrapped together to make this lovely, heart-stretching thing called motherhood.

Our Family for His Glory
And I know now what it’s like to be the mom that brings nourishment when she can’t pull herself off the floor covered in tears. The mom that stands brave when she doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry as she grabs her tweezers and digs out the shiny gem from her little boy’s nose. The mom who sits watching her baby hooked up to monitors and cords, and is on her knees in prayer in her heart as she strokes the soft hair of the babe sound asleep through the beeps. The mom who feels like melting in agony and defeat from the sinfulness of her children… and herself. The mom who cheers bitter-sweetly with each first step and every last diaper. Each moment strung together like shiny pearls on a strand. Praying that they will somehow glimmer with more than just a glimpse of God. For eternity of these little hearts weighs heavy on my shoulders. The charge of a child is no small calling. I search through crinkled pages of the Bible on my lap. Knowing His truth is all I have left. And there are His Words bringing breath to my lungs.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. -Isaiah 40:11 NIV

And that’s what I can cling to – that this kind Shepherd will carry them and lead me. And the weight is no longer heavy when He’s carrying it. For this Shepherd laid down His life, nailing all my blunders and failures and sins to the cross. And the same great power that rose Him from the dead, lives inside of me. I no longer need to don my glass slippers or supermom powers, But can rest in His grace and trust that His power is working in me.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” -2 Peter 1:3 NIV 1984

Guiding me. Carrying them. Through every blessed, tiring, awe-filled, heart breaking, gleaming pearl of motherhood.

Jessica

JessicaJessica is the wife of her ministry-minded best friend and the love of her life. She is a blessed homeschooling stay-at-home mommy to 6 precious children all ages 8 & under! She is your every-day mommy that longs to be full of grace, but often needs to ask for forgiveness. She has a passion for seeking & following hard after God, loving on her family, leading little (and big) hearts to Christ, and encouraging others along the way! She shares her heart & her life at Our Family for His Glory.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Heavens Declare His Glory - Part Two


Good morning everyone! I just wanted to pop over and let you know that the second installment of "The Heavens Declare His Glory" by Susie over at Raising Deep Roots is live on her blog! I so loved all her ideas for teaching our children about space while keeping the emphasis on the fact that God created it all! Plus I am so thankful for all the awesome book recommendations she gave! I can see a few of them making it into our own personal library!!! I really think you will enjoy it as well!!!

To read part two go here.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guest Post: Each Day By Faith

(Today's guest post is from one of my college roommates.  I still love her dearly to this day and think you will be so blessed by her encouragement about what "give us this day our daily bread" means in the midst of the normal mundanes of a mama's life.  Thank you, Lindsay.  You were a sweet role model for me in college and continue to be that for me years later.  -Desiré)
Give us this day our daily bread…

Know here the nature of the life that prays this prayer worthily and sincerely.  It is a life that has taken to heart the command to seek first His Kingdom.  It is a prayer that knows the difference between bread and the Bread that gives true life.  The one it needs, and receives with joy and thanksgiving, but its real hunger is for the other and this is its food by which it knows itself to live.  This is therefore a life that has burned its bridges and knows itself each day – one day at a time – to be directly dependent on the provision of its Father.  Not merely as an abstract principle, in theory, but really and truly dependent for the needs of this day.  If He does not act this day, we will perish.  And tomorrow our situation will be the same.  And it is a heart that finds in this dependence a greater peace and confidence than any earthly parent, any work contract, and any investment portfolio could promise.  This is a prayer that is too quickly prayed by the young before they have got the measure of the sacrifices such a life of faith will bring to them.  But pray it and mean it and God’s grace will empower you to live it.

Give us this day our daily bread…

When Desiré and I were at Moody together, one of our favorite professors, Dr. Laansma said these words during a Day of Prayer we had on campus as part of a focused teaching on the Lord’s Prayer.  This particular part has been echoing in my mind tons these days. Each day by faith in the God of Life.

My husband and I have been preparing a lecture series through the Gospel of Matthew, and I have been thoroughly challenged, especially as my life has taken a turn from my college days of ambition to my current motherhood days of life with babies and preschoolers.  I am amazed how much faith this life of motherhood requires, especially in light of Matthew’s Gospel.  Through Jesus’ life and words, he demonstrates throughout the gospel that the nature of His kingdom is entirely different than what everyone in his day (and I mean, everyone) was expecting.  The economy of His Kingdom is our world turned upside down:  the last will be first, the first shall be last.  The “little ones” are upheld as role models, to find our lives we must lose them, and the Coming King is crucified.  And, for me, without even realizing what was happening to me, motherhood ripped the rug from beneath me—laying down one’s life for the least now seems a lot more real.
            
And so, I am thinking about this request, “give us this day our daily bread,” in an entirely new light than I did in college.  I used to think about receiving the faith and provision to accomplish great things for the Kingdom in some unreached people group. Right now, I am asking God to help me believe and have real perception into how his Kingdom works, because, if I’m honest, it is hard for me to serve my children in obscurity.  Jesus showed us that true life, His life, is found in service and giving up our lives for the sake of others.  Give me this day faith to believe that I might find You here, find abundant life here, folding clothes, wiping eight meals a day up off the floor, almost breaking my foot every hour on not-put-away-Matchbox cars, gently instructing time and time again similar lessons like “Please don’t smash your sister’s head into the floor.”  You are the God of Life; please meet me here in my little corner of obscurity, and show me the glory of your upside down Kingdom.
            
He is the Author and Giver of Life, and it’s a promise that we, I, must cling to every day.  He is the Giver of Life, when I feel like I’m laying mine down again as I set aside my dreams and my self for others.  He is the God of Life when those we know are hurting, and we feel bankrupt of resources to help; we cling to him.  When I struggle to believe his promises that the last shall be first, that true life is found in serving the least, that the economy of His Kingdom turns our world upside down, He is the God of Life, supplying all we need for this day.  Give us this day our daily bread

Lindsay


 

Lindsay and Desiré were freshman year roommates at Moody Bible Institute, where Desiré inspired Lindsay to change her major to Applied Linguistics and train for the dream of someday working in Bible translation.  From there Lindsay went on to Wheaton College for her master's in Biblical Exegesis. After marrying a fellow Moody grad who also happens to be Canadian, she immigrated North to Calgary, Alberta, where they currently live with their two small children.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Does Hope Look Like When Your Child is Fighting for His Life in the Hospital on Easter Morning?



This morning is Easter.  Many of you are getting ready for church.  Some of you have new clothes for your kiddos.  Some are prepping the holiday lunch.  Traditions may be being carried out and you're looking forward to a day of fun memories.

For the first time in my life, I won't be going to church this Easter.  I'm wearing sloppy, comfy clothes.  I likely won't even be tuning into an Easter sermon as I work to console my 15 day old baby who is fighting for his life and suffering from the pain of open heart surgery, withdrawals from narcotics and fussiness from never having eaten 2 weeks into his eventful little life.

What does hope look like then?  What does Easter mean now?  Many have been praying for a miracle for our precious son and it appears in many ways that God is granting it.  We continue to pray fervently for God to make Caleb whole... but what if he doesn't?  Or what about all the families that have gone before us that love Jesus with their whole hearts, have prayed earnestly for a miracle and God DIDN'T grant it?  What about those who have had to bury their child? 

What does Easter hope look like then?

I've wrested with this question a lot in the last few months.  Hope has become my theme.  I even had the phrase, "I have HOPE" put on a customized necklace.  At first glance, I'm sure many assume that I mean I have "hope" that Caleb will get well enough to come home with us and of course, that is something I hope for, but that's not why I have it dangling around my neck.  The hope I have is much deeper and remains regardless of circumstance.

The hope I have is that one day, all this suffering will be gone.  Mine.  Caleb's.  Anyone who has placed their trust in Christ does not have to fear even the darkest circumstances.  Does that mean I don't feel the sting of this suffering my child and family is going through?  Of course not!  I frequently stand at my helpless child's bedside and weep.  This stinks.  Big time. 

Some may become bitter with God and wonder why he would ever allow a tiny baby to go through the insane pain we've watched Caleb endure the last two weeks.  He's completely capable of healing him.  Why doesn't he just take it all away?  I read something from Nancy Guthrie that has helped put this all in perspective a little better for me:

She points out that when we expect God to spare us from the effects of sin (sickness, tragedies, etc.) "we're mistakenly expecting in this age what God has reserved for the next."  Am I expecting God to create a "heaven on earth" right now?  That thought has been profound for me.  I long for heaven for a reason.  It's perfect.  That's not where I'm at right now and I am expecting the wrong thing from God when I expect him to make the here and now what he has promised us for the future:  A world without sin and all the effects it brings is the hope we have to look forward to.  In times like this, I am reminded all the more why I want it and what it has to offer.

So I cling to hope, knowing that one day there will be no children born with congenital heart defects that require multiple open heart surgeries.  I know there will be no more death.  I know there will be no more pain.  There will be no more sin and no more effects of sin.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, I can celebrate Easter this morning, even though my day may look drastically different than yours and painfully different than what I'm used to.  My hope is sure.  Jesus died... like for real died.  But he was stronger than death and he defeated it.  For me.  For you.  For anyone who believes and will call on his name.  Sin (and the effects of it) don't have the final say when Christ is in the picture. 

That is glorious hope. 

 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." -Romans 8:18-25

 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Post: When I Rise

(Today's guest post is from my sweet, real life friend Kelly of Exceptionally Average.  I think you will be so encouraged by her thoughts about the idea of planning out Bible activities and going over the top when it's a struggle just to get out of bed and do the "normal" stuff each day.  -Desiré)

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

These verses sum up the purpose of this blog. I respect this command from God, do my best to live it out, find inspiration in the responsibility, and comfort in knowing that the reward for seeing these words through is eternal. 

But let’s be real.

Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed with God’s charge to us parents to diligently teach His Words to our children. In a quiet season of life, reading these verses might be just the motivation and challenge we need to get creative and intentional. 

Quiet seasons never last for long, however; and there are times when the phrase “when you rise” makes us moms sigh with a great big desire to roll over and pretend like we have the luxury of staying in bed.

Perhaps your quiet has been taken over by a curious child with more energy than your choice of caffeinated stimulation.

Or a defiant child.

Or a child with a disability.

Or your family is going through a busy or trying season.

Maybe illness has struck your household and it’s all you can handle to keep up with wiping noses, cuddling, and disinfecting.

It’s possible that you’re a single parent trying to balance all of the responsibilities that demand your attention every day.

Or are you in the same boat as me? Sleepy mama to a newborn while older brother is watching my every move.

God gave me a fresh perspective on a familiar verse the other morning when my eyes were bleary and I wiped spit up off my shoulder in the middle of devotion time. I pray it encourages your heart as well as you face the “when you rise” part of your day.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you,
Lord, know it completely.
Psalm 139:1-4

I find incredible comfort in knowing that the same God who gave me the command as a parent to teach His Words to my children, even from the moment I rise, is the God with whom I have a personal relationship. The God who knows when I rise, and what words are in my heart to share even if I’m afraid they’ll come out jumbled and inadequate.

While I may not get a “free pass” to neglect my duty to train my children when times are hard, I have direct access to the source of all things true, even the very One who defeated death and gave me eternal life.

This season is not filled with cute little projects and well-planned Bible lessons, but it can and will contain conversations about Almighty God. My children will have the opportunity to witness me spending more time showering them with love in the form of cuddles and prayer because my hands are too filled with baby to worry about organizing my closets. Most importantly, they will unknowingly witness my dependence on God’s strength to get through the day-to-day responsibilities. 

Realizing that God is present to sustain me during the multiple times each night and early morning that I rise during this brief season of my life gives just the energy I need to not give up on being purposeful in showing Jesus to my kids throughout the day.

Kelly




Kelly is a wife to a fire fighter, mama to two little ones, blogger at Exceptionally Average, and writer. Her passions are Jesus, family, friends, chocolate, and encouraging women of all ages to be purposeful in life and relationships.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week Activities

Hi everyone! I wanted to share a few ideas that my kiddos (Lauren, age 4 1/2 and Easton, almost 2) and I are doing or plan on doing this Holy Week. There are SO many amazing ideas floating out there on Pinterest (do you follow When You Rise? If not, you can here) and on other wonderful blogs! Aren't you glad we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time? Whew, I am!

Here they are in no particular order!

1. I saw this video over at Oh Amanda and couldn't believe how perfect it is! Its short (for those of us who have little ones that don't sit through hour long videos yet!) and yet it somehow goes through what Easter means on a level that my babies can get! We plan on watching it several times this week and it's already provided some great conversations around here!



2. Holy Week Calendar from The Domestic Notebook. Ours will be slightly different as I chose a few different things to highlight than she did, but I loved the overall idea of using each day this week to focus on the events leading up to Jesus' death and resurrection. You can see that I chose to focus today on Jesus being the servant King and washing his disciples feet. (And, yep - those are my own little ones' feet we traced and cut out!)




3. This post from Desiré last year is awesome! I need to have the hubs help me make our box tomb. I think both of my kids will be absolutely shocked and surprised to see the empty tomb! Gives me goosebumps!


4. This great, "He is Risen" coloring sheet!!! And this AMAZING bundle of coloring sheets for Easter from 1+1+1=1.

                                                                         (source)

5. Make an Easter playlist! If I were on top of things, I would have done this for the whole Lenten season, but alas the reality is I'm not! Still, I love the idea of having an iTunes playlist full of songs that bring our hearts to the wonder of what Jesus did for us! This list could include current popular Christian songs, and also some you know your kids will love (and love to dance around to!) like The Donut Man, Shout Hosanna!

6. Make Resurrection Rolls....yummy and such a powerful visual for kids and adults alike! We made these last year but I don't have any pics of my own to share with you. Again...not on top of things! Thankfully, Desiré was and the link above shows her adorable boys enjoying the ones they made last year!!!

7. If you are looking for some ideas for what to put in your kids' Easter baskets this year, Oh Amanda has some great posts on that here and here.

8. This great new e-book from Katie Orr called, Find More Jesus. (I wish I had seen this earlier as it is intended to be done daily, the eight days leading up to Easter...I'm behind on this one but it definitely looks like something that would be an amazing resource!) I'm planning to use what I can this week and then have it for next year!!!



According to the bio each day includes:
- Short daily Bible reading.
- Corresponding simple egg-activity.
-Suggested prayer time.
-Personal focus point for you to chat about with your family.
A supplies list (items you probably already have around the house) and thoughts on the Easter bunny from a Christian worldview are also included.

Okay - I think that is it...for now! Ha - I am sure I will think of other ideas throughout the week but maybe this will help get your wheels turning too. :) I pray you have a blessed Holy Week with your children and that you will again be reminded of the great love your Savior has for you!

Much love!


****Thank you also for all the amazing prayers and words of encouragement for Desiré, her little man Caleb, and her family. I wish you could know how deeply your prayers and words mean to her. She is truly blessed to have you all!!!****
 

2011 Design by sweet cheeky designs