Monday, December 5, 2011

Life is FULL!

Wow. Guys I'm seriously behind on blogging. So much has happened!
We are praising God for providing our newest blessing, Adeline Faith, born October 14, 2 days after Elijah's fourth birthday :)

We had a wonderful time in Budapest, staying with our dear friends the Sanders. We spent almost a month in the Sanders' home and taking in their wonderful hospitality. It was truly a blessed time. The labor and delivery were very fast and we had a wonderful experience! Adeline is simply beautiful and such a calm baby.We are so thankful for her. We had a very time leaving their home as their family became like our own. We miss them daily!

Since leaving, the Sanders' oldest son Luke (20 years old and studying in the US) was seriously injured falling from a high rope swing, and remains in ICU with bleeding in his brain. Please pray for Luke. You can follow his journey here

As for our family, we are gearing up for Christmas. The kids and I are doing an advent experience using Amanda White of Impress Your Kids "Truth in the Tinsel". It has gone great so far! As I type, the kids are playing with their nativity set. Let me just put it this way: I'm glad we have a wooden set! :)

Josh's book was released in September....check it out!

That's all for now...must go and play with the kiddos!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Life...

For those of you who do not know already, the Irbys are expecting a little Irby to join soon! Baby number 3 (or should I say 4 since God took Little One to be with Him?) should arrive around October 19 in Budapest, Hungary. We have found a hospital there who takes our insurance, which is a huge relief. We are so excited to welcome this newbie to the Irby family! Israel and Elijah are excited...they can tell you themselves:

So cute! We are to thankful to have all of you who have prayed and supported us these past few months. And for those of you going through pregnancy loss, I can honestly say that God is faithful to redeem the pain and loss you are experiencing. When you are going through it it feels like you will never see the light at the end, but even the dark is not dark to God and He is with you. I never felt Him leave.

Josh's mom will come for a visit on Tuesday May 3 and will be with us for 2 weeks. We are grateful when family and friends come see where we live and we can spend time with them. This is Dea's first time in exciting!

Will update more later...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Need of Grace

On a beautiful spring day, full of life and love, I am in need of grace. I have done it again. Messed up and lost patience with my children. Acted crabby, blamed it on chronic pain...difficult to live through but isn't God's grace greater? Scared my children will stumble in darkness because of my flaws in parenting.

But oh the glorious riches of grace! Of a God who can erase bad memories, empower for better living, "present us holy in His sight, without blemish..." (Col. 1) I'm so thankful for this promise. Once, I was alienated from God and made an enemy in my mind because of my evil behavior but now He has reconciled me by Christ's physical body to present ME (! EVEN ME!) holy in His sight, without blemish and FREE FROM ALL ACCUSATION!!!" (Col. 1) I'm so thankful for that. I am free from all accusation. Not only free from the enemy's accusations but free from my own accusations of myself!

So now I can enter this beautiful spring day. Full of sunlight, full of truth, full of confidence in the God who loved me while I was still a sinner....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sun is Shining and so is Sarajevo!

Sorry it has been a while, folks. We have had a very long winter with snow last week. I was feeling the depression set in, but Spring is (finally!) here complete with beautiful sunshine, birds chirping and flowers starting to bud!

Last week we enjoyed a beautiful time together as a long term team (Jacksons, Troudsdales, Ceca and us) on Jahorina mountain with Rachel's dad who led us in a day of team building. We discovered our strengths and learned a lot about each other. The time was very beneficial. Rachel's dad has worked on teams for a number of years, so he is highly qualified in leading these discussions.

The kids are fully settled in their vrtic now and loving it. It's so fun to see them interact with their classmates and teachers. They are speaking a little Bosnian too. We are very encouraged.

One of my favorite things about spring here is going into town as a family. On Monday and Thursday nights, Israel has ballet downtown, so typically when the weather is nice, we walk into town as a family, get something to eat and chat with our friend Dzenana who owns a clothing store in town. I'm excited as this season is coming back around.

Josh enjoyed six days in Split, Croatia on a writing retreat where he got a lot done. Please continue to pray for Josh as he finishes his book about Miss Adeline P. Irby. He has only 3 chapters left to write! Then will start the long process of editing (which has already begun for the portions edit-ready) and then publishing. We are really excited about this opportunity to connect even more with this city we have come to love, Sarajevo!

Homeschool has slowed down a bit since the kids started vrtic. Before vrtic, I would do homeschool with them almost every day. Israel has started to read some basic words, and Elijah knows almost all his letters. But since vrtic started, neither them nor I want to do any homeschool, we just want to play :) We'll see when we pick back up with it, but I'm not worried since they are still really young.

Hope your start to spring is enjoyable! Let us know how you are doing :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another Post on Language Year

Sorry guys for the silence. It's been a bit of a zoo around here. I promise to update Irby Road soon, but until then please hop on over to Language Year to read the guest post I wrote :) Here's a little taste...

At the beginning of my language year, my 3 year old daughter was in preschool and I stayed at home three days a week with my one year old son. I wanted to maximize learning language together, so I googled learning language with children. I found a terrific website called Dream English ( A young man started teaching English to large groups of children. He had very simple songs. I translated a few and would sing them with Elijah on my lap. Songs like “Apples, apples…I like apples. Bananas, bananas, I like bananas….” The songs have videos that go with them with pictures, so it helped him and me learn some basic Bosnian words. I’m really glad I had that special time with him learning Bosnian together.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Playgrounds and Preschools: Children and Language Acquisition

Many moms struggle with the balance of home and work, and I am no different. My language year started off lonely. I didn’t know many people and had two young children, ages 3 and 2. Through a friend, I found a reliable babysitter for my 2 year old and after much searching put my 3 year old in preschool. I found a teacher through another friend and started attending classes 3 days a week.....

Head on over to Language Year, a friend and colleague Jonathan Trousdale's blog about learning a foreign language!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quick update

Irby family still busy and doing fine! Josh is trying hard to finish his book on Miss Irby's life in the next couple of weeks. The kids are still enjoying vrtic although sometimes they ask to go back to their old vrtic and often they ask if they can just stay home with a sitter! But the vrtic is really good for them and they are already making friends.
Sarajevo is once again covered in snow and it's just really beautiful. The snow is powdery so there is not much ice, which is a good thing. Not a lot of slipping around!

Has anyone started a gift list? I got to 100 the other day. Here are some things from my list yesterday:
...Josh made dinner last night
...My mom read a book to the kids that her mom read to her when she was little over skype (gotta love technology)
...the way the snow falls so delicately from the sky
...a city covered in a blanket of snow

Life is more colorful and you live more awake when counting the gifts God has given. I always remember my Nannie (who is now 100 and still fully alive and well!) "Count your blessings count them one by one, count your blessings see what God has done!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to Fight Fair

Hello all!
It has been a busy week here at Irby Road. On Monday the kids started their first day of vrtic (preschool). We have been waiting for space at this school for 6 months so it was really exciting to finally send them. It sounds like a great place. They have a singing circle, different crafts every day, puppet shows, acting, play instruments, cook, and have a great deal of outdoor play. Here's a picture of them at their first day. Aren't they cute?

Last night we spoke at our Svaki student cafe. The theme was Valentine's day so Josh and I decided to talk about conflict and how to "fight fair". We started with a fake fight about forgetting the notes. It was hard not to laugh (I'm not the best actress) but I think it got the point across on how NOT to argue! We talked about laying ground rules before there is a conflict so that when you are fighting you can remember the boundaries you have set. Here are the ground rules:

Generalize: Stay away from using terms such as "always" and "never" (you ALWAYS do that, you NEVER do that!)
Speak non- truth: hurtful words you don't truly mean and you will regret later
Threaten: with physical harm or with leaving forever. Josh and I have a promise that we will never mention the "D" word or even entertain the possibility of leaving each other for good.
Leave: There is a healthy leaving referred to as "Time Out" but it needs to be used properly. Instead of huffing off mad and running to a place where the conflict can be avoided and maybe even forgotten, Time Out has to be verbalized. "Can we talk about this in an hour? I'm really mad right now and I don't want to say anything I will regret. I need some time to clear my head and think." My coping mechanism in conflict is to run away angry. This never helps and should be avoided. Josh knows it's my weak spot so when he sees me start to turn, he lovingly takes my shoulder and draws me back in.

Stay Calm: Avoid raising your voice. This is where Time Out can come in handy!
Use "I" instead of "you": State how you feel without accusing the other person
Apologize: This is a big one. From the beginning of marriage, we have tried our best in conflict to search the conflict to see where we could possibly be wrong. Even if you feel totally innocent and that the other is COMPLETELY at fault, find some place where you said the wrong thing, responded wrong, etc.
Forgive: Again, another biggie for us. Not just for us, but for the whole family. When someone says "I'm sorry" (according to a sin committed against the other, not in a total accident), we never respond with "It's okay." This implies that the offense was not heavy or was just "nothing". When you respond with "I forgive you" it does something within both people. For the one apologizing it makes them feel the weight of what they did, and the sacrifice the other person took to forgive them. For the one giving forgiveness it makes them search the soul and truly offer forgiveness. Such power in words!

We closed with 1 Corinthians 13, the ever familiar love chapter of the Bible:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I hope this helps a bit in all your relationships, be it romantic, friendships, children/parent, work....

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! (and happy birthday to my Mamma, Sylvia Sharron!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

1000 Gifts...

Hey all,
Just wanted to recommend a book I'm listening to and hoping to have a hard copy soon. It's called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I just listened to the 3rd chapter yesterday in a crowded cafe. The challenge excited me. She challenged me to keep a running list of gifts God has given to you. The small things. Basically the small things add up to become one giant miracle in your life. They are seeds that are planted in your soul that grow over time into a beautiful great tree. So I will periodically post some gifts that I will write in my "gift journal". (you can do this don't have to have a pretty journal...a scrap of paper or a spiral bound notebook will do just fine) Remember, it's the small things. Ann Voskamp found joy in grated cheese. Grated cheese!
The goal is to get to 1,000 gifts. She said after she got to 1,000 she hasn't stopped. It has changed her life and brought joy. So here I go...

#1. Finding peace and joy in a crowded cafe in Sarajevo
#2. Family movie night "Despicable Me" and esp. watching Israel's fear turn to laughter
#3. First day of school and the excitement that goes with that
#4. Early Sarajevo Mornings
#5. The way the light perfectly shines on the red cathedral

Will you make a list with me of the thousand gifts God has given you? Let me know if you do!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Slovenia, Italy, etc...

Sorry I have been silent for a while! We left the 21st of January and drove 8 hours through Bosnia, Croatia and into Slovenia where we arrived at the coast for a conference with 1200 other workers from our organization. What a tremendous blessing to worship with them!!! I can't spend time posting all the fabulous please visit me on facebook to see the pictures from Slovenia and Italy!

It was so much fun to have Josh's brother Seth there to lead us in worship. He is a talented musician who has written and recorded lots of new worship songs as well as just plain fun songs with his beautiful wife Laura! Of course we really missed seeing Laura and the kids as they stayed home, but it was fun to hang out with "Uncle Seff" as the kids call him.

We had a great time being with people from all over Eastern Europe and Russia. The weather was also so beautiful and called us to a beautiful walk through the old town. Such beautiful architecture!

The kids really enjoyed themselves in their own kids' conference. A church team from Laurelglen Bible Church in Bakersfield, CA came to serve our kids. They did an amazing job! Our kids really learned a lot and have carried what they learned home with them.

After the conference we took a family vacation to Florence, Italy...just 6 hours away. A friend has an apartment there and she let us stay great! We saw so much art. My favorite was getting Israel her own guide to the Uffizi gallery. You should have seen the expression on her beautiful face when she would find certain pieces of art her kids' guide would lead her to! We also enjoyed seeing the David, going to Michelangelo plaza to look over the city, and visiting the Duomo Cathedral.

Sorry this post is so short, it's Sunday morning and I need to start getting ready for church. Josh and I will lead in worship today (in Bosnian! Pray for us!) and then I will teach the small children in Sunday School. The kids start preschool tomorrow (!) so look forward to a post with lots of pictures soon!

take care!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Adeline Paulina Irby

Josh is writing a book right now about a cousin of his who came to Bosnia as a missionary 150 years ago. He wrote a short summary of her life including pictures that you can read or download here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Going to Slovenia...

Hey all!
Thank you for all your prayers and support of us here at Irby Road :) Just wanted to send a quick update. We Irbys are so excited to head to the coast of Slovenia on Friday for an area staff conference. Many countries will be represented. Please lift us in prayer as we will drive several hours there. Josh's brother Seth Irby (check out his music!) will be leading all of us in worship. Pray for the kids as they will have their own program, similar to VBS. This was extremely positive for the kids last year when we were in Spain. A team came (and a different one will come this time) to the conference and just played and loved on our kids. They felt very valued and extremely cared for. Please pray for this again and for the kids to make friends with other children in our region.

After the conference, we decided to drive the extra six hours to Florence, Italy! We have some co-workers there that we will stay with. We can't wait to see all the beautiful art and history!

Thank you for your prayers and I'll probably update while we are away or even a post before we leave :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Family Game Night!

Last night the kids wanted to play games. I really wasn't in the mood for Candyland. Then Josh had a stroke of genius.


But wait. Our kids are ages 4 and 3. How do you play Cranium with kids that little?

Josh set up the board and put out the die, playdough and paper/pencil. He never got out the cards. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it has 4 categories: Word Worm, Creative Cat, Data Head and Star Performer. We made up the ideas for each category and each family member got to participate! Here are some things we did for each category:

Word Worm: for Israel who is just learning to read, we wrote out a three letter word for her to sound out. For Elijah who is learning the alphabet we wrote a letter that he told us the name of that letter or it's sound.

Creative Cat: We all took turns drawing something or sculpting something out of playdough that was related to what the kids are learning (i.e. Bible stories or something about Italy)

Data Head: We would ask the kids questions about Bible stories (basic Bible trivia) or ask them to quote a Bible memory verse they have learned recently.

Star Performer: We hummed familiar songs or acted out Bible stories and the other would have to guess which story it was.

We had so much fun! So much fun in fact that we played another game. A Christmas gift from "Aunt LouLou" (my sis...thanks, Lou!) A classic...COOTIE BUG!

Nothing spiritual about that, just having fun making those cute little bugs :)

What kind of games do you play with your kids?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day of Prayer

This Friday is a day we have dedicated to pray for Sarajevo. Thank you for taking time in your busy schedules to pray with us.

Josh with Israel and Ada, one of Israel's friends from ballet

Monday, January 10, 2011

First 2 weeks of January : Homeschool

Hello everyone! I just wanted to do a quick post about what we are doing in homeschool these days. I have been following the curriculum for My Father's World Kindergarten for Israel, but for Elijah (besides just sitting in) we do some Montessori-type activities. I have been so challenged since what I wrote in my last post about this. I am not a certified teacher for academics, just for music, so this is hard for me. It's tempting to spend all my free time searching the internet for ideas, reading more books and worrying. But I'm trying to keep my focus right. When I find myself stressing over it, I hear the words "Be still!" And I will be honest, it's hard to obey. But when I can get the stress out of my mind over it, we really have a lot of fun! Elijah really enjoyed building his tower:

So proud

Now the fun part!

Israel loved her moveable alphabet. She uses the letters to spell words on the card.

Elijah liked putting lentils on numbers. He lines the foam numbers in order and puts the correct number of lentils on each number

This idea came from Counting Coconuts. It's just a little box with clothes in it. The kids take the clothes out and practice buttoning, zipping and velcroing. I can't wait to add snaps and ties in there :)

Israel only did this one once, but Elijah wanted to do it again and again. The kids can pour water into their own glass, but they have a hard time knowing when to stop at the top. I put some green, red and normal color pasta (we're talking about Italy because we are going there in a few weeks!) into a kid-sized pitcher. They pour it into each glass.

Of course there were a lot of messes with this, but Elijah doesn't mind sweeping them up! :)

We did patterns too. Because we are learning about Italy, the kids are making patterns with red, white and green.

In My Father's World, we are doing a unit on Farm Animals. The kids have had this Fisher Price barn for a long time, but lately they haven't really played with it much. I put it out on the shelves along with this fun activity and today the barn was a hit! It started with Israel putting together basic words (red: adjectives, blue: verbs, black: nouns..but we didn't get into it that much!) to make basic sentences as she played. It was so fun and really cool to see her begin to read!

Last but not least...our composer of the month. We did this when I was a music teacher, but now that I'm teaching my own kids it's so much more fun! We picked Vivaldi because of the Italy study, but also because Israel danced to the Winter movement of the Four Seasons Concerto. Together, Israel and I made a scrapbook page about Vivaldi. Every week we will make a page or two about Italy, laminate them, bind them and take them with us on our trip. I think the kids will remember more that way.

And more about what is going on in our lives besides homeschool.....
Elijah received his first ice skating lesson with Jeff, one of our friends who plays on the hockey team!

I couldn't post without including this! Those of you who participate in Operation Christmas Child each year...a huge thank you! Because of all the shoeboxes given all over the world, we can minister more effectively. Here's a picture after our church's puppet show, where we distribute the boxes. We brought two of Israel's friends and their mothers this year. The girls loved their gifts!
Happy New Year, everyone!

Linked up with "Artists and Art" at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Hey all,
First of all I want to say thank you to all who read this blog. It encourages me. Last year I rarely updated it, but now I'm getting into the whole blogging thing. :)

I wanted to confess something on here. Recently I have been trying to re-evaluate what is important. In light of our recent loss life has held so much more meaning. So in light of the new year I have tried to focus on 2 things: living in the here and now and words.

First: living in the here and now. Many of you know that I am a worrier. No, not in the visual sense where you see a frazzled worrier running around. I worry in the quiet. And if you have had a deep conversation with me, you hear me talk about the same things over and over again: my kids, their education in a 2nd language, our health, etc. This past summer and fall have held the hardest in the worrying department. I follow a blog called "Confessions of a Homeschooler" If you homeschool your kids, please check out this site! It's got some great ideas and free printables :) In her printable section she has a list of "SuperMom vs. Abiding Mom". I printed this out several months ago, but just five days ago I started looking at it. I committed to do one characteristic a day with the corresponding Bible verse as part of my time with God. The first one really hit me. Super Mom does. Abiding Mom is. The corresponding Bible verse? Psalm 46:10: Cease striving and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted among all peoples (that includes the Irby home!) I realized I am striving way too hard. I spent countless hours researching the internet on how to do homeschool. I work really hard to create an environment where they can best learn. I try really hard to get my ideas up so others can see and hopefully benefit. And none of that is bad. In fact, it's all good. But it's just too much. Too much striving. All the while, I'm doing it worrying if it will be good enough. Worrying if I'm doing enough. And even when I create or the kids create something really great, I still want more. So. That's a thing I'm trusting with God now. Cease striving. Know He is God. He will be exalted in this home! I chose to live in the here and now, for we don't know how many nows we will have. I will not be afraid of the future nor carry the weight of the past.

The second: words. Lately under stress, I have muttered (okay, shouted) some careless words around the house. "How many times have I told you! come on...hurry up! don't you understand Mommy is tired too?! stop it, I'm busy!" I could go on and on...
I have been following another blog I highly recommend for encouraging us in life. Ann at A Holy Experience has recently written a post about the impact of words. I would encourage you to visit her blog and go to that post. There are two posts and both are very well worth the read (as are all of her posts!) Basically she sums it up in one phrase. "Only speak words that make souls stronger." Ouch. Have I made their little souls stronger by the end of the day? When we get in bed and turn off the lights, is my husband's soul stronger than the day before? I'm realizing that the words I speak carry a lot of weight. Out of the heart the mouth speaks.

I share all this to ask for prayer for me in these areas. I don't ever claim to have it all together. In fact, I probably will finish this post and carry on with my day still struggling. We will all struggle. But the difference is that God promises He will walk with us.

I leave you with this:

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice, let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. Finally , brothers, whatever is true, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heart and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. " ---Philippians 4:4-9

Monday, January 3, 2011


If you would like to see pictures, you can go to my Facebook page and see!

We went to Jahorina mountain (site of the 1984 winter Olympics) and stayed in a cabin. We went with our teammates, the Trousdales and Jacksons. With 5 small children in the snowy mountains, we were pretty excited that Israel and Elijah would enjoy a fun-filled Christmas.

When we got to the cabin, it was a lot smaller than we thought. My initial thought was "if we survive this as a team, we can survive anything" But the guys moved around furniture, and we figured out how to have a small area for the kids to play and a place to put our small Christmas tree. The kids decorated ornaments for the tree. We woke up to a White Christmas. Jonathan began the morning reading the Christmas story from the Bible, and we opened the presents under the tree and in the stockings. We went sledding and drank homemade hot cocoa (thanks to Hersheys!)

More fun memories:
playing games (spades, Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan), sledding in the deep snow!, making a huge snowman, eating snow ice cream, Christmas ham!, egg nog, children playing by the light of the Christmas tree, pancakes and eggs Christmas morning....

Definitely a tradition I want to continue!

New Year's was a harder time for us...3 of us caught a bad cold. Just Israel remained free of coughs and runny nose. I fell asleep for the big celebration.
But New Year's day was good...we joined some friends for lunch and enjoyed their company most of the day.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, everyone!