Teach them to Fly

“Train up a child in the way he should go,

Even when he is old he will not depart from it”

Proverbs 22:6

My son starts kindergarten next week. I am so excited for him to start this next season of life. He loves learning and he told me the other day he was excited to make new friends at his new school.

This new season for him also means a new season for me. My mama heart is filled with all kinds of emotions about the world he is entering. As he is preparing to go to a new school I can’t help but wonder, did I help prepare him for what’s to come?

Before we get all crazy, I know this is kindergarten and he is still young and innocent. BUT, kindergarten is the first right of passage in entering this world of ours, truly entering it without mama and daddy right there with you. He will make big boy decisions, have to navigate friendships and relationships. He will be challenged and stretched, and he will grow.

All that I can do is prepare his heart, teach him the basic skills of life (as much as you can for a kindergartener). The rest is walking with him, coaching him, encouraging him and praying through each situation.

Learning to walk isn’t easy, learning to fly isn’t any easier. He will fall and fail, but I will be there to encourage him and help him stand back up.

So am I prepared? Is he prepared?

He’s ready to start testing his wings. I’m ready to see his beautiful wings.

Finding a Village

Three years ago I moved across the country from California to Texas. I left my friends and family and basically everything I knew. I had two children, one on the way, and another one we didn’t know about that would join us later.

I found myself without a village.

We moved with a few friends, which definitely made the transition much, MUCH easier! But as I came to understand where I was at in my life, I needed more, I needed that village, that support system and friendships and community.

Motherhood is a lonely place. If you are not careful, you can drift away in your house and not come up for air for weeks.

That is exactly where a village comes in. Women, moms, who come together to reach out to you-text or call to make sure that you do in fact come out into the world again.

So how did I find my village?

Well, three years later I feel like I am just now realizing the village I have here with me. It’s difficult to find that village, and fortunately I have made some great friendships that I can call on and count on.

It’s all about making a choice. I chose to go out there and keep my head up and eyes open. There were days I had to push through the loneliness and open my eyes to see the people next to me.

I had to choose to belong.

Finding our villages is all about choice. Sometimes there are other things that come into play, but the bottom line is we have to choose to be a part of a community.

That may mean going to a mother’s day out program even if you don’t know anyone, or going to a bible study, or joining a neighborhood group even if you don’t know a single person.

I do not like putting myself out there, I am not good at striking up conversations where you become best friends in two seconds. It takes a lot of effort for me to do something like that.

But in the end, it’s worth it.

Find your village. Do whatever it takes.

 

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.

“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

Bautista Family Bridge

“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.

Bautista Kiddos

“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!

Beautiful Things

The other day I was driving and had all four kiddos in the car and heard the most beautiful conversation between my boys.

Michael said, “Daniel, will you be my best friend?”

Daniel responded, “umm…yes!”

The two of them proceeded to make up some crazy game to play and their laughter filled the car, even if it was brief (they are brothers after all).

I was immediately caught up in that moment. How incredible it was to hear my children being so civil with each other. It was a nice and needed reminder to take those moments, savor them and cherish them.

In the midst of this crazy life of raising little humans and working in ministry and trying to be the wife I’m called to be it’s easy to get caught up in the task at hand that I forget the people I am called to love.

“He made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Life is beautiful, once you are able to change your perspective and see those moments as blessings. We tend to focus on what’s wrong and instead we need to change the lens in which we look at life.

Choose to see the good and beautiful in everything you do. It’s not always easy, but make the effort.

Holiday Traditions & Memories

I remember the holidays as a kid and how much fun they were. I remember cousins running around, aunts and uncles cracking jokes and laughing, great food, and playing cards.

As we head into the holiday season for the third year away from my family, there begins a sense of longing for holidays like I remember. I want my children to have similar memories of holidays, I want them to love this time of year and love being around family.

The reality is my children will not have memories of the holidays like I do, those are my memories. But my children will have memories, and it’s up to me to create a place where memories like the ones I have can be created.

We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun

I am learning that my children won’t remember how much effort I put into their halloween costume or how many (or how big) their Christmas gifts are. The things my children will remember is the experience and how it made them feel.

It’s up to me to create those memories with my children; to have fun and realize they are what matters most and they are my family.

This holiday season have fun, make memories, and choose joy.

Is it ok that I’m ok?

As a CHD heart mama I’ve found myself searching for normalcy in this new area of my life; searching for others like me, who have a precious heart warrior. 

It’s a strange thing to feel so alone and then realize you are in fact not alone, at all. 

There are people all around me who have either experienced heart surgery or know someone that has been through this process. 

At the end of the day I count my blessings but I can’t help but think, is it ok that I’m ok? 

I’ve been waiting for that moment when my emotions well up and spill out uncontrollably. I’ve been waiting for that moment when it all catches up to me. 

But it hasn’t. I feel ok, actually I feel like my cup is overflowing. Is that ok? 

I realize there is not one way to process things. There is only the expectations we place on ourselves. I am who I am. And I am overflowing because I have an amazing God who has filled me and taken care of me. 

Even though the world says I need to be taken down and torn apart because of this season I am in, I don’t have to. I am strong because my God is strong. 

Our circumstances have a way of making us stronger. 

So is it ok that I’m ok? Absolutely. 

Don’t Forget You

As a mom it is so easy to fall into the habit of constantly giving, constantly focusing on taking care of everyone.

But don’t forget about you! 

I am guilty of looking to the well being of everyone around me without making sure I am ok. I take care of everyone and empty myself until I reach my breaking point. 

When I reach that point, in all honesty I am not truly taking care of everyone the way I think I am. 

I am learning to take time for myself. Do the things that fill me up, that give me energy, that I find fun. 

If I don’t take care of myself first how can I do everything God has called me to? 

So what is it that you do for yourself? The key is it has to be something no one else can control, something just for you. 

It takes discipline and an understanding that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself and have fun. The people you take care of, that depend on you need the best version of you.