Joy in the Trials

It’s been a year since my whole world stopped and I placed my daughter into the hands of surgeons. Honestly, a year ago I felt numb and was just going through each day, one second at a time.

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“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

Last year I felt so much peace and joy as I faced a deep, unknown future.

I had a decision to make: choose joy or choose misery.

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I chose JOY.

Through all of this, I have learned that joy doesn’t mean happiness. I didn’t feel happy, I didn’t want to be happy that my daughter’s life was on the line, that her tiny heart was broken.

Joy is choosing to hold on to the hope of Jesus, despite the mess and chaos around you.

I had to choose to operate on what I knew, instead of how I felt.

I knew that God had a plan for my baby girl. I knew the surgeons were the best we could have. I knew, without a doubt, that my baby girl would be taken care of.

Now, a year later my baby girl is doing great! The experience I gained this past year is one I NEVER would have asked for, but I am so THANKFUL for it. I experienced God in ways I never could have if I hadn’t gone through something like this.

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Every trial is an opportunity for us to choose joy. Every trial is an opportunity for us to experience God in new ways.

This world is dark and corrupt, but there is hope to be found.

Jesus is the light and the hope of the world.

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“Mommy, why am I always the last kid without a parent?” 

A few weeks back our church held our VBS, which I played a big role in making it happen. Needless to say, it was crazy busy and days were packed full. My kids, didn’t complain and they enjoyed being at church early seeing it all transform. (Plus right now, they all love going to church and I pray that NEVER changes!)

But it was the first night of VBS, I went to pick up my five year old and with tears in his eyes he said, “Mommy, why am I always the last kid without a parent?” 

I was caught off guard and this mama’s heart broke. I haven’t had him ask me anything like this before and honestly I really didn’t know what to say.

So, I gave my little guy a BIG hug and told him I loved him. I also got to share with him a little bit of why we were always first to arrive and last to leave: because this is why God has us here and we get to help make it special for so many people.

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As I explained to him how he gets to be a friend to other kids who are still there and how Mommy gets to help make an awesome event like VBS happen, he slowly understood (as much as a five year old is able to comprehend). I saw a light bulb switch on and he realized there were still friends there waiting for their mommies and that he was one of the kiddos who gets to stay and play longer.

The rest of the week at VBS he didn’t seem to think he was “the last kid without a parent.” It was such a blessing for me to watch my son interact with the kids in his group and have so much fun being there.

Kids don’t fully understand what it means for their parents to be in ministry, let alone their mom being in ministry. But that day, my son understood that he didn’t have to be just a kid attending VBS, he got to be part of why I was there.

I think if I hadn’t taken a moment to acknowledge what he was feeling and talk it through with him, if I had just said, “Sorry, this is how it is,” the outcome would have been very different.

This is a new season for me and I am sure this is the first of many questions like this. I will navigate these waters with care and intentionality, because as a family we are called to something bigger than ourselves.

Acknowledge what they are feeling, encourage them. Remind them we’re part of a something bigger! 

It’s moments like these that have the biggest impact on my kiddos life. Perhaps next time I won’t be so caught off guard. But each time, I have the opportunity to lead my children in the way they should go.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

Our Family Calling

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“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10

My husband and I met while serving in ministry. Since that day we have continued to serve together in ministry, sometimes in the same capacity and most often in different areas, but always together.

Over the years we have grown and matured. As our family life has changed we have had to evaluate the calling in our lives. What began as individual callings into ministry evolved into a calling of us as husband and wife. When our family grew, our calling did also.

It became a call for our family into ministry. My husband and I know our family is called and that requires sacrifice, rest, hard work, intentionality and care. It’s a difficult place to be for a young family, both require a lot physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

But there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.

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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7

While I may be the one on a church staff, it is our family that is called. We are a team, this is our tribe. We are meant to be in ministry and meant to lead our family, together.

The thing about being called as a family is that family life and ministry are not separate. My husband and I do not see ministry and family as two separate compartments in our lives.

Our ministry is our children and the Church. God is first in our lives, always. Our marriage is second. Our children third. Ministry next. When our priorities are in line, balance in our lives is possible. (Although balance is not what we think it is. See my previous blog here.)

The best way to teach our children about ministry and calling is to live it out with them. They are just as much a part of it as we are.

It is not just a call for us as individuals, it’s a calling for our family.

 

It’s Been a While

Well, it’s been a while. So let’s catch up.

My last post was in November of last year. Life for the Bautista family got a little crazy.

In November we found out our heart warrior was going to need another surgery sooner than we thought. So we began preparing to have surgery before Christmas, but it worked out that we were able to spend time with family in California before surgery.

The first few months of the year were a whirlwind for us.

January I started working full time at the church.

February we went in for our second open heart surgery. This time around it was not as traumatic, but still a toll on us emotionally and spiritually. Our heart warrior came out with flying colors, a week later we were home. (It’s crazy to think that we were home one week after an open heart surgery! When compared to last time it was like night and day.)

March began a journey into a new job for my husband.

April I started a new position at the church.

So here we are, in July. We are still learning our new normal, with new jobs and four kiddos.

We’re halfway through the year and I am ready to run into this next half and finish strong!