Sunday, December 9, 2012

On prayer

Over the past ten years, I have off and on followed a prayer structure suggested by Kent Ostby, a dear friend of ours and my Bible study leader when I was fresh out of college. The list is broken down into a daily list and then lists for every day of the week. On the daily list, I pray for several people, including my family: Josh, myself, and my kids. For years I have prayed that my kids would be obedient as I find myself stressing out over some of their behavior and choices. Then one day recently I realized something: I need to pray that I would be obedient and that I would change MY attitude! For all these years, I have tried to control my kids...during this prayer time I realized that I can't do that! That's God's job. My job is to love them and show them Jesus be open to God working on my heart and their hearts. I've often thought what is the point of prayer if God knows everything anyway? I think this is one of the purposes of prayer. God shapes us and makes us see the truth in our lives. Although I'm still praying that my kids would know and follow God their whole lives, I have started praying that God will change MY heart towards my husband, children and general outlook on life. How's that for a plank in my own eye? :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Heart of Hospitality

Wake up. Unload dishwasher. Cook. Make the coffee I never drink. Play. Tidy up. Load dishwasher. Repeat. Such is the life of a mother of three who hosts several people in her home weekly...but is this all there is? We are blessed to have a beautiful home with enough space to host a lot of people at one time. We have hosted over 40 hungry souls in our apartment comfortably. I load the chili in the crock pot, pull the casserole out of the oven, or take the ice cream out of the freezer. Pour hot drinks into big mugs and serve to cold hands. And the dishes pile up. And pile up. And crumbs litter the floor. And baby crawls and consumes. (oh, is this the way we feed our child?)
At times I become bogged down, overwhelmed. Under the pile. I endlessly scan the homemaking blogs trying to make parties better. The beautiful colors. The mouth watering food. The perfect decor. The smiling author tells me I can do this too. However, my experience tells me something different. I'm not that woman. Sure, I can pull together one heck of a party with amazing decor. Fit for a blog post, even. But at the beginning of the party, how do I feel? Tired. Wishing it was over. And my kids feel the tension. Recently, I decided I'm quitting. At least for now, while I still have a baby. No, I'm not quitting hospitality. I firmly believe that God has given us this home to fill it with people. Hearts come weary and leave full. I'm a firm believer that we are to use our gifts to serve God and others. We are to fervently love each other, as if our lives depended on it (1 Peter 4). I'm just going to go about it differently. These past few months I've been joining thousands of other women around the world in the Maximize Your Mornings challenge. We have been reading 1 Peter together and discussing it online. It has been transforming...I'm growing and changing. One topic I have learned about is hospitality. I believe I have this gift, at least it has grown in me since living here. But I think I have suppressed it by complaining in my heart when doing the "not fun" parts of it...mainly, the mundane. I decided in my heart this past weekend to heed Peter's advice "Be hospitable without complaint". We had three events in our home this weekend. I delightfully did dishes. Then I felt a little six-year-old daughter. "Mommy, can I help?" "Sure," I giggle and hand her the dish rag. She washes, I dry, and we have heart conversation over the sink. It made me reflect on the heart of hospitality. I'm to think of others over myself. That may very well be the key to not complaining. And as the weekend draws to a close, I can honestly say I enjoyed all three events and think our guests were blessed too.

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm honored to have a guest post on my friend Katie's blog today! Katie is a gifted writer, lover of truth, and mother of three. Please hop on over to her blog to read about my experience with God's goodness and meeting Miss Irby and to find out how you can get Meeting Miss Irby for a great price this weekend!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Week of Vrtic

It has been a very exciting week! Elijah started vrtic again, but without Israel. He has seemed a bit sad this week going into vrtic, but today I see him brightening up a little. His teacher says it's normal as Israel doesn't go to school with him anymore. Its the first time they have been apart since Israel was 3 and Elijah was 2! I'm proud of my big boy.
He was also asked tonight to join Israel in Mirela's wedding later this month. Israel will be the flower girl and Elijah will carry the back of Mirela's dress down the aisle. Boy did it make his day! My two little cuties were bouncing up and down tonight after they got the news. I'm one proud mama! Israel will meet her teacher for school on Saturday and will start first grade on Monday. We are excited for this transition but I would be lying if I said I'm not a little sentimental too! Israel and I spent the day together carrying on the tradition of shopping for a new outfit for school, lunch and a special dessert. She is growing up and becoming quite the lady! Thanks for reading what's going on on Irby Road. Hoping to be more frequent posting on here!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Swimming, Tennis and Beach...oh MY!

It's been a busy summer here at Irby Road!
It all started with an exciting trip to Neum, a city about 4 hours away from Sarajevo right on the coast. Our landlady from Svaki Student center owns a beautiful pension very close to the water. We had 17 students join our summer project and staff for a few days on the beach. My MOM was able to join in the fun too! She flew in for the beach trip. We also spent a few days on another coastal town (Orebic) for some time with just our team:
Since then, we have been to Jahorina (Olympic mountain) with our church, taking 10 students with us. A highlight for us was hiking and blueberry picking. It was wonderful to escape the Sarajevo HEAT.
Israel and Elijah have had an adventurous summer. They had a very sweet reunion with some of their very best friends in all the world, Mani and Pippa. These sweet children are from England. They all attended preschool together until January when they had to move back to England. One of the hardest parts of being a "third culture kid" is the good byes. There are so many. Saying goodbye to Mani and Pippa was the hardest thing our children have encountered since moving here. Needless to say they were totally blessed to have them in Sarajevo the entire month of August! They had two sleepovers:
And two weeks of swimming lessons. The kids went from not being able to swim without lots of assistance to swimming free style! Their coach was wonderful. We are considering more lessons in the future. Josh also taught a tennis camp for children. We gathered 11 children plus Israel and Elijah. There were children from Bosnia, America, Turkey, England and Denmark. Here's a picture of the 9 am group:
and 10 am group:
We took a family vacation to Neum and stayed in the same apartment. The kids loved practicing their new swimming skills!
On the way back we stopped at an old Dervish house and I got to enter the Dervish prayer house with proper covering.
Adeline loved the water too. She turned 10 months old! Time is really flying with this sweet, precious baby. She has a great sense of humor and keeps us busy.
One student, Sanel, invited us to visit his family's home in a village nearby. We enjoyed being with his family for a cookout and spending time in nature, hiking through the forest and running in the fields!
In addition, the kids have started to learn to ride their bikes without training wheels. As I type, Israel and Josh are at the first annual Sarajevo Chamber Music Festival. The Manhattan String Quartet is playing for the entire week. I attended last night with Israel. She really wanted to go again tonight. Although Josh and I are very tired from a busy day, how can we pass up taking our six year old to hear classical music?! Tonight they will hear Beethoven, Dvorak and Arensky!
It has been a busy summer indeed. I can't believe that in one week, Elijah will begin vrtic (preschool). It will be a different year for him, being without Israel. I'm excited for him to branch out and make some new friends not connected with Israel. If you think of him, please say a quick prayer that he will be brave going all on his own! And in two weeks, my little Izzy will begin FIRST GRADE! It's a big deal! She will go to a big school. We have chosen the Catholic Center in Sarajevo. It has a wonderful reputation and we know many people who have sent their children there. The school is beautiful and we look forward to seeing Israel branch out and meet new friends. Like Elijah, it may be hard to be without her little brother, but we are believing that she will make many new friends! Josh and I are both working on making new fitness goals. Josh has been riding his bike and running. I have been swimming (during the kids' lessons...50 laps!) and riding my birthday bike. :) I'm also wanting to write on here more, so look for more blog posts soon! Would love to hear from all of you and about your lives. Facebook only reveals so much!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Thank you for praying...

Hello all. Thank you all for the prayers over the past few days. First off, Elijah is fine! I mean, he still has bronchitis but it didn't turn to pneumonia so we are so thankful! Second, I'm feeling better everyday, just not back to normal. Still rejoicing in God's goodness. It's good training and it's a good reminder that this is what it's all about!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

God's Precious Goodness...Pt. 2

Lots going on in the Irby household. This time, with this little guy: Sweet Elijah William has not had the easiest month. While in Budapest he broke his collar bone while walking a dog. The dog ran after another dog and took Elijah with him. He was very brave during the whole thing (he said he wants to be a knight!) but no doubt, it was very painful for him. His collar bone is all healed and aside from a small scar from where the doctor accidentally cut him while removing his bandage, you would never know he had an injury. On Friday he woke with a fever and a bad cough. I have been battling bronchitis this past week so it alarmed us. After taking him to the doctor, he was diagnosed with bronchitis. All weekend we have been treating him appropriately. Antibiotics, a syrup to ease his cough, nose drops and spray, Advil for fever, probiotic for belly ache and breathing treatments every 2 hours. I went with him this morning to the doctor for a follow up visit and there is more fluid in his little body than before. She prescribed him another syrup to get the fluid out. She said that if it's not out by Tuesday then he needs an x-ray. Josh and I had planned to go to Albania tomorrow through Wednesday to attend a conference with our fellow Albanian co workers. I'm not going for obvious reasons. The sweetest thing was the ride home from the doctor's office. "Uncle Seff"'s and the CSU worship team's CD was playing in the car. Elijah was singing as loud as he could through that stuffy nose "Ooohhh, the goodness of God, is flooding my heart with peeeeeace! Oooohhh the goodness of God, is bringing me to my kneeeees!" Sweet boy, during a breathing treatment. We would appreciate all prayers during this! I was thinking while driving to the doctor who now I know so well (it's true, with 3 kids you are at the doc a lot!) This is not what I was THINKING I was signing up for when becoming a Mommy...but it is the REALITY of what I signed up for when becoming a Mommy! This is the WORK of a mom. I love my sweet children. It is sweet to hold my little boy and we have our special time together reading Magic Tree House while he receives breathing treatments. I. Take. Joy.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

God's Precious Goodness

It has been a very long time since I last wrote on Irby Road. There has been a lot going on, I just haven't felt the need to write it on here. But I felt a need last night to communicate what happened. To communicate God's faithfulness and goodness in the midst of uncertainty is what this post is about.
This is our precious Adeline Faith. Last night after a walk in town I arrived at home with all three children. I put Adeline in her crib and gave Israel and Elijah a bath. While blow drying Israel's hair I heard a loud slam followed by a scream and then a cry. Israel and I both rushed into the nursery to find Adeline on her back screaming on the hardwood floor. "no God, please God, no God, please God..." I have no idea how it happened. She's only 7 months old but found her way up over the crib. "Do I pick her up? Is it okay?" went through my head. I decided to pick her up but was terrified of injuring her. She was very lethargic at this point and I tried to nurse her. She wouldn't nurse. Then she threw up and tried to fall asleep. Josh was at a meeting and I called him. No answer. Called again. busy. "Please God please God please God..." As I was crying and basically freaking out, I realized the effect it was having on my children, mostly Israel (age 6) who was sobbing. After finally getting in touch with Josh (who ran home) and Jill (who came with her husband Larry to stay with our kids so we could go to the hospital) I sat down with Israel and Elijah. I told them we needed to pray. Israel told me she was already praying. We then decided to pray together. That prayer time was incredible. We lifted our voices to Jesus to ask for healing and protection for little Addie. We prayed that He would give us peace. I heard from God in that moment that I needed to choose to trust in His goodness and trust His plan for Adeline's life...whatever that may hold. I was able to calm down after the choice to trust. The difficult choice was to accept God's good and perfect will for Adeline's life. After Josh and Jill and Larry arrived, Josh and I took Adeline to the hospital. Our friend Karmen met us there to help us translate. The whole way to the hospital while trying to keep Adeline awake Josh and I prayed specific prayers: That Adeline would be able to share her story one day of God's protection, that we would be seen by doctors who care and that we could trust. Adeline was seen almost right away. As soon as we put her on the examination table, she laughed! She woke from her drowsiness and was very happy...what a good sign! The doctors said everything looks "potpuno ok" (absolutely fine) and sent us to a neurologist to be sure. After being told to come home and monitor her all night, we arrived home, exhausted. But very happy and very thankful and trusting God's goodness. We continue to believe in the goodness of God even when our lives scream otherwise. God answered all our prayers this time in the way we wished. We had wonderful doctors who truly cared and were very good. We even got a parking spot right by the door! (If you know Kosevo hospital in Sarajevo, that is huge in itself) I'm looking right now at a happy, cheerful Adeline. My heart rejoices. And yes, for those wondering...we lowered the crib two notches :) THank you for all who prayed last night (for those who knew) We are very grateful.