Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas? 

Yep, us Dallases are preparing for Christmas.

I’m a die hard after Thanksgiving Christmas celebrator. Like HARD.CORE. No Christmas music, no Christmas decorations, no Christmas candles or cookies, NOTHING until after Thanksgiving. So why are we preparing now? Well, we have some exciting news. We are going to be host parents to an orphan from Eastern Europe this Christmas!!! We are beyond excited.

After reading of Amy and her family’s hosting experience last winter, we were intrigued. As time went on and Dirk and I talked about it more, it became something that we committed to prayer. We have felt the Lord leading us in this way for about 6 months now. To see it start coming to fruition is so exciting!

So, you’re probably wondering…
What does it mean that you’re “hosting” an orphan?

I feel like “hosting” sounds a bit sterile. I don’t know what other word we could use but here’s what we’re really doing.

This is L…

Orphan Hosting | Motherhood in the Trenches

She is a 14 year old girl and while we don’t know her story or her background we do know that she lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. She is a great student. She loves art and design and interior decorating.

We will openly welcome her into our home as if she’s one of our own. We will love her and show her the love of Christ. We will take her to church, and to our weekly family night at my parents’ house. We will go look at Christmas lights and bake Christmas cookies. We will celebrate the New Year and just live life as a family of five. We will show her that she is loved and important. Most importantly, we will let her know that there is a God who loves her more than anyone ever could.

Why are you doing this? Aren’t there plenty of children in the United States that you could help?

I know right? There are people, orphans even, hurting everywhere, all around us, why raise all this money and go through all this trouble?

I could give you a list of rational answers, and I will touch on a few of them, but the real reason is because God has led us here. Because every time we think we aren’t going to do it, we are. Because right before we turned in our deposit and we were scared, the Lord confirmed in us both that this is what we are supposed to do. Because although I was praying for a specific verse before we turned in the deposit, we stepped out in faith and that evening the Lord showed me Isaiah 58 (you can read a portion of it at the bottom of this post.) You can’t always rationalize God’s calling and so we move forward in anticipation of all God is calling us to, both to the really hard stuff and the really awesome stuff.

So this brings me to the rational reasons. Every Christian is called to care for the poor and specifically the orphan. (Isaiah 1:17James 2:15-16James 1:27Deut. 24:21) Can we do that here in the states? Sure we can, but here’s where the burden on my heart is. I didn’t even recognize the name of the country our girl is coming from. I knew nothing about it. As I started to learn more about her country I realized that these are the forgotten kids, she is a forgotten daughter.

These kids are just years from “aging out.”

In Eastern Europe, less than 50% of the orphan population will live to see their 20th birthdays.

60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals.

In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18.

You guys, L has only FOUR years until she ages out. This is our opportunity to speak life into her, to show her, maybe for the first time ever, that she is loved unconditionally. We are being given an opportunity to tell her that she is better than those statistics, that God has a hope and a future for her. And while we’re over here thinking of all that God has for her, and looking forward to loving on her more than she’s ever been loved before, I know that He has a plan for our family in all of this too and I am so excited to see what He is going to do in all five of us.

I am sharing this with you for three reasons, first of all, will you join us in prayer? Will you please pray for L? Will you pray that God will prepare her heart? Pray that people will come across her path that will peak her interest in the things of the Lord, pray that she will be ready for all God has for her during this time with us. Please also pray for us. I think it’s easy to romanticize ministry and caring for the orphan. Dirk and I are constantly putting ourselves in check and recognizing that we are turning our home, our lives, into a mission field. It will be rewarding but it will be hard too. She doesn’t speak English so that will be a major barrier (although we have heard that many children catch on quickly and we are thankful for the technology available to us to help us communicate with her). We have no idea what kind of life she leaves behind. Orphans became such through trauma and so we will be loving on this child who has been abandoned and has been deeply hurt. We will be breaking barriers and showing her unconditional love. This is no easy task. Pray for wisdom for us, for patience, for God to prepare our hearts to love on her unconditionally. Pray for Big Sis and Little E to have open hearts. Pray for them to be loving and, even at their young age, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Also, please pray for the financial needs to be met.

So that brings me to the second reason why I am sharing. In bringing L here we are responsible for paying for her visa, her transportation, insurance, and other needs. Maybe you are not able to host an orphan, or are not called to serve them physically, but maybe you could help bring an orphan to America, to a family that is so anxiously awaiting her arrival, to a family that can’t wait to show her the love that they already feel towards her. Would you be willing to donate? If so, here’s a link to our donation site. All donations given through this site are tax deductible.

Dallas Family YouCaring Site (please note that this is a general site set up for us by New Horizons so it’s very generic, we will keep it personal over here on the blog).

Lastly, I write this because maybe as you’re reading this your heart is being tugged on and you’re thinking, I could donate but I’d really like to host! There is still time and there are still so many children waiting and hoping to be hosted this winter. Head over to the New Horizons for Children webpage and go to “get started here” under “orphan hosting.” You can get more information and can fill out a pre-app to get access to the photolisting for all of the children available to be hosted.

If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m new at all of this but I will do my best to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you for sticking through this lengthy post and for hearing the burden of my heart. :)

“Here is the way I want you to fast.

Set free those who are held by chains without any reason.
Untie the ropes that hold people as slaves.
Set free those who are crushed.
Break every evil chain.
Share your food with hungry people.
Provide homeless people with a place to stay.
Give naked people clothes to wear.
Provide for the needs of your own family.
Then the light of my blessing will shine on you like the rising sun.
I will heal you quickly.
I will march out ahead of you.
And my glory will follow behind you and guard you.
That is because I always do what is right.
You will call out to me for help.
And I will answer you.
You will cry out.
And I will say, ‘Here I am.’

“Get rid of the chains you use to hold others down.
Stop pointing your finger at others as if they had done something wrong.
Stop saying harmful things about them.
Work hard to feed hungry people.
Satisfy the needs of those who are crushed.
Then my blessing will light up your darkness.
And the night of your suffering will become as bright as the noonday sun.

    I will always guide you.
I will satisfy your needs in a land that is baked by the sun.
I will make you stronger.
You will be like a garden that has plenty of water.
You will be like a spring whose water never runs dry.”

Isaiah 58:6-11

Follow Me on Facebook!

This is kind of a weird topic for me, I don’t like self-promotion and I really don’t want this to come off as such. When I started this blog I wanted to create a place where moms could connect, where we could all encourage each other. So many times I’ve heard, “Thank you for sharing that, sometimes I feel like I’m the only one…” These trenches can feel lonely and desolate and we can feel so disconnected. It is all too often that we feel alone.

I realize that blogging is sort of one-sided. I share my project, my opinion, my life and you can comment on it if you choose. In order to take this a step further I’d love for you to follow Motherhood in the Trenches on Facebook.

Follow Motherhood in the Trenches on Facebook

Why? Because that’s where I feel we can really get the conversations going. Do you ever have times where you wish someone would just give you some dinner ideas instead of planning on your own? Are you tired of the same old recipes? What about cleaning tips? Do you have a tip or trick that is working so well that you know other moms just HAVE to know this? Do you need a cleaning tip or trick? I know I could use some!

I would love to start  conversations where we can share what’s on the menu for the week, recipes we’re looking forward to making, Pinterest successes and flops, cleaning tips, anything that pertains to motherhood and caring for a home. I would love to have women of all ages follow so that we can get input from mommies just starting out and those who have been doing this for years, maybe even decades? I would love for you to come be a part of a greater community. Won’t you join me?

Risking My Child’s Life and Why I’m Angry

So earlier this week, this blog post was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook and I was mad, livid! You see, Big Sis is a 4 year old who weighs about 32 pounds. When it was time for Little E to move to a different car seat it was decided that she would go into Big Sis’ carseat since it is a convertible and can be used facing backwards and we would buy Big Sis a new booster car seat. I researched all of the “big name” brands and decided on this Graco Highback TurboBooster.

81FLHjXkeYL._SL1500_The recommended use, taken from the Graco website?

  • Highback Mode: For children 3-10 years old, from 30-100 lbs and 38″-57″ tall
  • Backless Mode: For children 4-10 years old, from 40-100 lbs and 40″-57″ tall

Perfect right? Big Sis is 4 years old and 32 lbs. I don’t remember her height but it was within the range as well. She was so excited to start using the big girl seatbelt and frankly so was I, it’s so much quicker and she can get herself out of the car all on her own.

After I read that blogpost I was pissed. Has my daughter been in an unsafe carseat for the past four months? Could my ignorance have led us into the same situation as the family in the blogpost? The thought makes me shudder.

You guys, I am a researcher, sometimes to a fault. I research EVERY thing. This was no different, except that I just researched the product trusting that the carseat companies would only sell the safest possible products. I can’t believe that I fell for this lie. Did I mention that I’m angry?

So since I am a researcher and made a horrible mistake, I thought I’d share the safest ways to have your kiddos in the car. These are not the law but are the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines to keep your kids as safe as possible.

First of all let’s talk about some general safety rules:

  1. All kids under 13 need to ride in the back seat.
  2. When in a harness, the chest clip should be at the armpit level and the straps should be tight but not too tight to cause pain or trouble breathing. To test if it is tight enough you should try to pinch the strap at the shoulder level. If you can pinch it at all, it’s too loose.
  3. Don’t be anxious to move your kiddo to the next seat! Keep them in the most secure place for as long as they are at the appropriate height and weight.
  4. It is okay if your child’s feet touch the car seat or cannot stretch out in the rear-facing position
  5. If you’re using the LATCH system, make sure you know the maximum weight for your vehicle’s LATCH system. Make sure that your your child’s weight PLUS the weight of the carseat does not exceed the weight limit for your LATCH system.
  6. Never use an expired carseat, a carseat that has been in an accident, even if it’s a small one or a used carseat unless you are absolutely sure of it’s history.
  7. Do not trust the car seat literature! Just because your seat manual says it’s okay for a four year old, 30 pound child to be in the seat, doesn’t mean it is the safest, or really even safe at all!

Okay and with that let’s look at age specific requirements. I think some of you are going to be in for a shock, I know I was.

Step 1: Rear Facing (0 mos to up to 4 years)

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

As of 2011 your child should be rear facing until they are at least 2 years old. This is not a law (the law says 12 months and up) however it is suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the safest practice.

I know, I know, TWO? You guys, this is such a big deal! According to a 2007 study in the journal, “Injury Prevention” children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing. I’m not usually one to throw around studies unless I can read the information in several different reputable journals, articles, etc. BUT in this case one article is enough for me. It is not going to harm my baby to be rear facing and the alternative is WAY too risky! Babies’, toddlers’ and even preschoolers’ heads are disproportionate to their bodies and internal decapitation is much more likely at these ages. Keep your kiddo rear facing until they reach the maximum rear facing weight for their carseat. This means that when your baby outgrows his/her infant seat (usually between 22-35 lbs) you should use a convertible carseat that can continue to face backwards for as long as is possible. Here’s a link from the AAP Journal about keeping your kiddos rear facing.

Step 2: Front Facing with a 5 Point Harness 

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

So once it’s time to be front-facing, your kiddo should remain in a 5 point harness until he/she outgrows the weight and height limit for the carseat. I’m gonna say it again, don’t trust the carseat literature! Keep them in a 5 point harness as long as it is safe! The story I posted above is what woke me up and made me realize that vehicle seat belts can be deadly if used improperly BUT as I did more research I realized Big Sis was not ready for her new car seat anyway. She is still so squirmy and we would often find her in weird positions in the car and tell her that she needed to sit up straight with her legs down.

Now that she’s back in a 5 point harness, she’s less than excited about being pinned down again but I realize all the more now that she was not ready for a “big girl” carseat.

Step 3: Front Facing with a high back booster seat, using the car’s seat belt

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

This should be used ONLY when your child has outgrown the 5 point harness carseat AND meets the height AND weight requirements for using the high back booster.

Step 4: Front Facing using only a booster seat (no high back)

IF, and only IF, your child outgrows the height requirement on your highbacked booster before they are tall enough for the vehicle seat belt you can use a booster seat without the high back.

Step 5: Vehicle Seat Belt

Between the ages of 7 and 12 (yes TWELVE) your child will be ready for the vehicle’s seat belt. Typically when they are 4 feet 9 inches. Here’s a link with some good points on when to know if your kiddo is ready for the vehicles seat belt. 

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood

If you listen to any Christian music, chances are you’ve heard the song “Oceans” by Hillsong. Some say it’s overplayed but for me, it’s one of those songs that bring me right back into a godly perspective. It takes me away from my worldly thoughts and brings me into the presence of the Lord. It is a humbling and yet powerful prayer.

That song is challenging! “You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.” When I hear that song I start thinking, “Yes! What great waters will you call me upon Lord?” I pray, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you will call me!” And my mind goes to Africa, or to forgotten orphans in Russia, or to the hurting in my city. I pray, “Lord, what great things can I do? Where will you send me?” And when I have prayed that He has replied, “I have sent you, you are where I have led you. The great things that I am asking you to do are right here in your home.”

“Wait, Lord, I asked what GREAT things do you have for me. I want to do GREAT things!”

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood | Motherhood in the Trenches

Do you ever get that sense of wanting to do GREAT things? What if God is calling you in faith out onto the water to rekindle your marriage, to trust when trust has been lost, to love when you don’t feel like it, or to be vulnerable though you’ve been deeply hurt? What if the waters God is calling you out on are to love and pray for a family member who has walked away from the Lord? Will your faith stand? What if the turbulent seas you are to navigate are the constant cries and whines of babies and toddlers? Will your soul find rest in His embrace? What if that great place God is leading you to is simply, and yet not so simply, to raise your children in the ways of the Lord, to be your husband’s cheerleader as he goes out into the world to make a difference in the lives of others, to be the unrecognized support of your family?

All of that doesn’t sound as romantic or bold does it? It might even sound a bit boring or mundane. The song also says, “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” To pray those words in these circumstances means that we are asking God to take us deeper in our families, in our every day tasks. Am I willing to ask God to take me deeper in my patience with my children? Am I willing to pray that God will take me deeper in the grace that I afford others? Am I willing to pray that God will take me deeper in love with those who are not easy to love? Deeper in selflessness?

And what is my attitude toward these things? Do I need an attitude adjustment? Can I still sing these words with boldness & determination even though I know that He is calling me right here, in my home, to mop floors and clean kitchens and cook meals and to love on my family? Do I have the same attitude toward my children as I would towards those orphans? Do I respect my husband and support him in all he’s doing as if I were on a mission in Africa? Do I realize that right where I am at, the things I am doing right here, are a high calling of God?

I’m not there, but I’m learning. And each time I hear this song, I shift my thoughts from these far off places and hurting people and into my home. To my spunky, blue-eyed four-year old who desires to learn and soaks up knowledge like a sponge.

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood | Motherhood in the Trenches
And to my wild-haired, blue eyed baby who lights up when I simply walk into a room.

And to my hubby who is stretched thinner than ever and could use some love and some stability and calm when he comes home and who should be afforded even more grace than usual as he juggles so many tasks.

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood | Motherhood in the Trenches

Maybe some day God will call me upon “greater” waters but for now these are the waters He has called me onto and so I sing with as much conviction and as much boldness, “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…”

The Walk of Patience

Patience is a weakness of mine. In one sense I can be super patient, like how I patiently waited SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS to marry the man of my dreams. Or how I go to Target and find something I love and spy it out over and over, week after week, waiting for it to go on sale. I can be super patient. But on the flip side, especially when it comes to Big Sis, I can lose my patience very easily and start speaking impatiently and with a negative tone.

Bedtime is the worst. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about when I say that by the end of the day I’m exhausted. I’ve been awake for fourteen hours, working non-stop giving my all to everyone. I’m spent and, truth be told, I just want to turn off. So bedtime comes, and let me tell you, Big Sis has THE longest bedtime routine ever. We read devotion, pray, turn off her light, turn on her lullabye music, turn on her tranquil turtle and hide the moon on the ceiling, give her a small sip of water, I do a song and dance saying “nosey nosey nosey (eskimo kisses), eye eye eye (butterfly kisses), a big fat hug and a kiss goodnight” then Dirk and her give a ton of high fives and “psh” down each other’s faces and a kiss and a hug. Lately, I’ve had to pray with her again after all of that because she’s worried she’s going to have bad dreams. Then as I leave she says, “What are you and Daddy going to do?” and I have to answer that question. I walk down the stairs, sit down, take a deep breath and….”Mommy!!!”

Night after night I lose my patience. It’s never once been something that needed to be said or done, it’s just Big Sis not wanting to go to bed. I walk back up those stairs huffing and puffing like a teenager girl who just got busted. I walk in her room and say in not the sweetest tone, “Big Sis, what do you want? It is bed time and you couldn’t possibly need anything more.” She says what she needs to say and then I say firmly, “Okay, go to bed. You may not call me anymore.” Then I walk down the stairs feeling like a total failure of a mom. Ugh…

So now, I am purposing that the walk up the stairs is my walk of patience. As I walk up I pray, “Lord, give me patience and help me to speak gently.” I don’t want to, I’m still so tired and so impatient, I mean really, why does she need to call me back up every. single. night? I just want to “clock out” for a bit. But since I’ve started praying on my way up, I am more aware of my attitude and have been able to walk back in and show her gentleness. Man, some days I feel like I’m failing at this parenting thing. Somedays I feel like I’m wrecking my kids, like they’re going to grow up and all they’re going to remember are the times I impatiently listened to them as they called me back up the stairs or the times that I didn’t want to read to them or didn’t want to play with them. I know that there are fun, great and amazing things that we do that they will remember, I just don’t like that they will remember negative things about their childhood either. I don’t like that I am a sinner and that my some of my sins will be remembered by children. On the other hand, I am  thankful for God’s grace and thankful for the opportunity to show Big Sis that I am also a sinner and that I need God’s grace and God’s help just as much as she does. Every day is a learning process, some days more than others. I’m starting to learn but I have a long road ahead of me.