Archive | May, 2011

I Just Want My Child to Be Healthy

“I just want my child to be healthy,” is a most frequent prayer request among the mothers and families we have visited with here in the Philippines. With 24,000 babies under the age of 5 dying each year around the world from common childhood diseases, most of which are preventable in our day and age…this is reality. With the enormous cost of health care in these developing countries, the burden is enormous. Tuberculosis affects families all over the Philippines…and with large extended families living under a tin roof it spreads in rapid succession from adult to child.

Before us stand nearly 20 different young mothers, on Day 2 in the Philippines, with a wealth of small children that come weekly to participate in the Child Survival Program of Compassion International where mothers with children in utero to age 3-5 years are given the skills necessary to develop and thrive in a poverty stricken nation. They ran up to us, greeting us with such exuberance, and wrapped cute bracelets around our wrists. What an overwhelming blessing to be so warmly welcomed despite the fact that we are foreigners. We who intended on being a blessing are instead recipients of Jesus’ love that is not limited by color or nationality.

How frequently I take for granted the simple knowledge we have as mothers into the importance of basic child development and health. We have such easy access to health care that my children’s health is rarely a concern. We have such enormous access to hands on materials to help equip our children, even the simple things of crayons and paper to allow them to develop their creative instincts. These simple blessings are foreign to these women before they enter this program.

These precious mothers have no knowledge as to the impact of lovingly touching and holding their babies, to the hands on experience of developing hand and eye coordination through drawing and other creative play to basic health knowledge of nutrition. I was dumbfounded to hear that in some countries, mothers will not even name their babies for the first year, nor look them in the eye, or really love on them in the likely event that they will die within that time period. Fear of health is so consuming to them and understandably so.

At this program we witnessed mothers learning basic health and nutrition skills. They were given hands on instruction on how to prepare a healthy meal and the gift of the raw materials to take home to prepare it for their family.  Homemade clay was assembled to give them opportunity to sit down and play with their little children in their basic development. Mothers are taught how to start income generating skills of opening their own little storefront at the entrance of their homes to sell snacks, small sanitary supplies, and other cheap items. Through this means they can help support their families. They also have access to health services with regular child check-ups and vaccinations.

They have the same basic needs as our own family. They love their children and desire the best for them. Our children need love, nurturing, health, and developmental play experiences and most importantly the love of God in just the same manner.  These mothers long for support and community. They need fellow mothers to come alongside them and encourage them in their role. They desire companions in the journey. And here in this place they are joining forces in becoming more empowered and knowledgeable mothers in nurturing their children.

One mother of four young children shared how their family was struggling to survive financially when her young infant son came down with pneumonia. With tears filling her eyes she shared how Compassion came alongside her and offered her medication. Through their involvement in her life, she began attending Bible studies that they offered. Her husband was very anger at first but as he witnessed the transforming changes taking place in her life, he wanted it to. They both came to a saving knowledge in Christ Jesus. All from simply extending a hand in offering a little health care for a child.

The children we observed were thriving. They were healthy and happy. They snuggled with their mommies. They delighted in doodling and coloring. Thankfulness abounds on these mothers faces. Just to have a little support, to be a recipient of love extended, to be taught and have the ability to learn. They are simple gifts. Simple needs. And we can be the hands and feet to meet them. What a joy to observe the national church mobilized to meet these needs in their community.

Don’t miss out on hearing the stories of all the Compassion bloggers here. Do you desire the opportunity to be the hands and feet? Sponsor a child for just $38 per month or help rescue a mother and child with a $20 monthly gift.

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Achy Bones & Beautiful Faces

My body aches from lack of sleep in relation to jet lag, swollen pregnant feet from the heat and frequent standing, and my physical body is screaming at me, “what were you thinking traveling overseas at 30 weeks pregnant? Didn’t you realize you wouldn’t have as much energy with your 3rd pregnancy as you had with your previous ones?” I lay sprawled out on the sidewalk awaiting our taxi ride to our hotel. I was seriously starting to question my intelligence. 15+ hours in flight had certainly taken its toll. Every time we landed I had this crazy sensation that I was going into labor. Such strange tightening, spasms, and dizziness.

I questioned…“why am I here?” It was at this moment that I looked up.

All around me I saw faces. Petite, oval, dark, beautiful faces. Beautiful unique faces. Each one fashioned with such intricateness. Each one filled with such yearning. I am shocked to see the huge smiles and welcomes etched across them. I am filled with such a love for these precious people. God loves each and every one of them. He has a plan for their lives and wants me to love them too. I see the longing. I see the hunger. The mad rush of bodies outside the airport communicates the rush and speed of life. Nothing slows down. It rapidly speeds on towards death and separation from God apart from the manifold grace of God. These faces need Jesus.

Her tears are etched across my soul. A poor Grandma, retired and aged without possible income beyond the $28 monthly pension her husband receives. Here she sits before me struggling to raise their only grandchild. Angel is an adorable girl of four with pigtails in her hair and a cute little ballerina skirt around her waist. A precious life that was abandoned at 2 months old by her mother on the doorstep of her Grandparents home. She hides her face in her Grandma’s skirt as we greet her. She is shy, reserved, and quiet and we hardly heard a peep out of her throughout our time together. But slowly…the smiles started to imerge. Playing with sand, going down a slide, savoring a small cup of strawberry ice cream, and enjoying her favorite chicken and gravy. Here she was…four years old. Just like my own precious daughter. Angel loves playing house, hide-and-seek, and babies. Sounds like my own Karis.

Grandma Ida keeps calling us Angel’s new Papa and Mama. At first I am turned off by her declarations of us…but then I begin to see more clearly. This little girl needs lots of love and nurturing. And though we may be thousands of miles away, we have adopted her in some way today. She has stolen a place in our hearts. We have the awesome opportunity to pray for her by name. We can express God’s love for her again and again in our letters. Letters that have power to communicate love, affirmation, and a friendship across the miles. We learned that such letters can improve their educational wellbeing as well as their over overall development. Grandma Ida’s eyes filled with tears as we prayed over them in our parting and partnered with Grandma in the loving nurturing of Angel.

The Lord has graciously given us the opportunity to invest in her life. To provide the means for giving her the holistic services in her emotional, physical, economical and spiritual well-being in order that one day, Lord willing, she might become a responsible and fulfilled Christian adult. That falls right in line with our desires for our own children. Why not adopt her as our own? This is why Compassion International exists. I look forward to exploring how Compassion fulfills that in 56,000 children here in the Philippines as the  week continues.

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Off to the Philippines!

My husband and I depart this morning for the Philippines to participate in the Compassion Bloggers team. I am thrilled to see and hear all that God has in store for us! I will be blogging daily here this next week (May 29-June 3) about all our adventures, so stay tuned!

I would appreciate your prayers for our safety, health (at 30 weeks pregnant!), and the ability to express all that God desires me to communicate with you! I want to see my vision for His mission expanded!

Join us in sponsoring a child from the Philippines! We get to meet our special little girl, Jerry (age 4), during our visit!

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Favorite Reads on Motherhood

I wanted to finish out our series this month on motherhood by sharing a few of my favorite resources on the topic. These are excellent books to help inspire you further!

Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity by Sally Clarkson – my all time favorite book on motherhood drawing our hearts to the beautiful purpose in it all of loving and guiding their little souls to know Christ. Gives such vision for your role as a woman and mother through Scripture with fresh inspiration for every aspect of life.

Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children by Sally Clarkson – I love the counsel in this book towards viewing our children as our disciples and learning from Jesus’ training methods. Powerful!

The Mom Walk: Keeping in Step with God’s Heart for Motherhood by Sally Clarkson – Making sure our hearts are in tune, focused, and in line with the purpose of God. Encouragement for the weary mother.

Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman – Fresh courage and wisdom for disciplining while getting to the heart of the matter peacefully and with joy.

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic – Are your arms full with the challenges and joys of mothering little ones? Find sweet laughter and honest wisdom from this mother of 5 little ones under 5.

Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by Katrina Kenison – A sweet reminder to slow down and enjoy the precious moments of life with lots of creative ideas towards investing fully in a holistic life.

A Mother’s Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character of the Christian Mother by Jean Fleming – Encouragement to moms of all ages and backgrounds by showing women how to distinguish between their role and God’s role in raising children, explaining how to take a spiritual inventory of a child’s life, and discussing how to pray effectively for children.

Every Child Needs a Praying Mom by Fern Nichols – Learn the value and art of praying for your children.

Womanly Dominion: More Than a Gentle and Quiet Spirit by Mark Chanski – While this book is written about godly womanhood as a whole, it has a powerful chapter on motherhood. If you are seeking to understand God’s heart for women, this book is my top pick!

Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney – Carolyn addresses the various aspects of the Titus 2 woman and includes excellent discussion on women in their role in the home. Beautiful book!

Be strong in the Lord, dear sisters! Your role as mothers is beautiful in God’s sight!

For my recommended resources on natural pregnancy and birthing, visit here.

What are your favorite reads on the topic?

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Little Souls Entrusted to Our Care

God designed motherhood to be a deeply meaningful role. We mothers have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children. Through our teaching and influence, morality can be learned and modeled, love and kindness are taught and received, purpose and vision are ignited and passed on.“ – Sally Clarkson

I have two precious souls (with one more making his/her entrance soon) entrusted to my care.

Two little hearts tender to be formed and molded into a man and a woman of God.

Two sweet bodies to be loved and nurtured so they may in turn love others.

Two bodies to dance with and enjoy the beauty of life together.

Two tender minds to be taught the love of learning so they might be equipped to discern truth from error.

Two little mouths to be filled with nourishing food to sustain them and grow them healthy and strong for the Master’s use.

Four little hands to be trained to help, serve, and give gifts of grace to others.

Two little warriors to be equipped with truth so they might be sent out to cause damage on the Enemy’s camp.

Two little voices to sing together in uttering God’s praises for all eternity.

I am called today to pray for these precious gifts, to create life together with them, to offer a listening ear to the cares of their hearts, while always depending hourly upon the Lord for the grace to fulfill this task. To abandon perfection and strive for faithfulness. To be willing to confess my stumbles and short comings.

It will require frequent trips to the bathroom to address heart issues, wiping of many noses, rocking of sick children, many sleepless nights, repeating the same book numerous times, preparing endless meals for thankless children, and many more seemingly mundane tasks. But when I focus on the goal that they are precious eternal souls entrusted to my nurturing care to be brought up as warriors for my King, then I can persevere, as it all becomes worth it. I stand in a very powerful influential place, one that I want to take seriously.

And when I see their smiles, their sweet “I love you, Mommy,” I know this is the best thing I could be doing. When I embrace God’s purpose for me during this season of my life, there is fresh joy to go the distance. They are part of the treasure I am storing up in heaven. Each moment is precious. Each moment is a gift.

I was designed to be a life-giver and to impart life into every day.

Are you giving life today?

“The world may not applaud us for wiping running noses, driving in carpools, or talking with our teenager into the wee hours of the morning. And until they are trained, our children might not thank us either. But as we set aside our own selfish desires and glorify God by joyfully serving our children, we are pursuing true greatness according to the Bible. Let us do so with tenderness, affection, and with a smile!” – Carolyn Mahaney

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Motherhood: My Only Gems

“She came tonight as I sat alone, the girl I used to be…
And she gazed at me with her earnest eye and questioned reproachfully;

Have you forgotten the many plans and hopes that I had for you?
The career, the splendid fame, and all the wonderful things to do?
Where is the mansion of stately height with all of its gardens rare?
The silken robes that I dreamed for you and the jewels in your hair?

And as she spoke, I was very sad for I wanted her please with me…
This slender girl from the shadowy past the girl that I used to be
So gently rising, I took her hand, and guided her up the stair
Where peacefully sleeping, my babies lay innocent, sweet, and fair.

And I told her that these are my only gems, and precious they are to me;
That silken robe is my motherhood of costly simplicity.
And my mansion of stately height is love, and the only career I know
Is serving each day in these sheltered walls for the dear ones who come and go.

And as I spoke to my shadowy guest, she smiled through her tears at me.
And I saw that the woman that I am now, pleased the girl I used to be.

- Author Unknown
Quoted in Womanly Dominion by Mark Chanski

Republished from the archives…

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How to Make a Flannel Swaddling Blanket

Written by contributing writer, Trina Holden.

Swaddling has been the secret to many babies sleeping well, but most blankets are too small once the baby grows past the infant stage. This blanket is made from a 45in. square of cloth – a generous size for swaddling, draping a car seat, or even a play blanket when the baby is older.

You can often find cute coordinating nursery prints on sale so the total cost of a blanket can be as little as $6.  I love to make them for new moms because I think no one should have a baby without one of these great blankets!

What you need:

1 yard, 10 in. of 45 in. wide flannel fabric

1 yard, 10 in. of 45 in. cotton fabric in a complimentary print or pattern

Matching thread


Iron and Ironing board

Sewing machine


Step One: Trim and Pin

Lay both squares of fabric on top of each other, right sides together. Trim edges to a tidy square. Smooth wrinkles and pin all the way around the four sides.

Step Two: Sew

Sew all around the blanket with a straight stitch, using a ¾ in. seam allowance, and leaving a 6 in. opening for turning.

Step Three: Trim Corners

Clip excess fabric from the four corners of the blanket so the corners will be able to turn nicely.

Step Four: Turn and Press

Turn the blanket right-side out, using a blunt pencil or knitting needle to poke corners out neatly. Iron the blanket, pressing the seam allowances inward at the turning hole – you will be top stitching this closed.

Step Five: Finishing

Set your machine to a decorative stitch if you have one, or just use a zig-zag stitch. Choose a thread that will stand out against your fabric to add to the decorative effect. Sew all around the outside of the blanket at a ¼ in. seam allowance. This will close the opening you used to turn it and keep the blanket from rolling and wrinkling along the edges.

Now go wrap up the nearest baby in your lovely new blanket!

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The Value of A Labor Doula

Looking back over the births of my two precious little ones, I have treasured the presence of my doula, Amber. She was the perfect comforting support person that facilitated a peaceful atmosphere during my labor. She provided that reassuring presence with her knowledge and expertise in the birthing process. Her service to me has been the launching point of my desire to serve others in this way. I wanted to be able to encourage women that the birthing process is a beautiful and natural experience.

What is a Doula?


A doula is an ancient Greek word and literally means “mother’s slave”. Her aim is to accompany women in labor to help them have a more satisfying birth experience.


A doula provides you with emotional support, physical comfort and, as needed, be your advocate in communicating with the staff to make sure that you have the information you need to make informed decisions as they arise in labor. She is not taking the place of medical staff, but helps guide parents with balanced information and perspective. She can help you form your own birth plan and support you each step of the way.

She will not offer medical exams, but will help provide information so a couple can make informed decisions. She understands the birth plan, the desires of the mother and father, and seeks wholeheartedly to be an advocate for them. Her desire is that birth would be a beautiful experience for the family and that all would come away feeling the wonders of God’s design in the creation and birth of new life.

Wealth of comfort measures in her doula bag

A doula can provide reassurance and perspective to you and your partner, make suggestions for labor progress, and help provide physical comfort through massage, labor positions, hydrotherapy, optimal fetal positioning, aromatherapy, acupressure, deep relaxation and visualization techniques. My doula was extremely skilled in providing just the right comfort measures (from back massages to the rebozo technique – an excellent excellent for correct positioning of babies) and position changes for every stage of my labor. She offered that quiet support that was not intrusive in the least. She was there to continually remind me to keep breathing deeply, taking long slow breaths, to stay on top of the contractions, and encourage me with the right words continually.

Does not replace Dad

A doula does not take the place of a husband or partner. She is one that helps provide the father with ideas to support the mother. She is one that offers reassurance, reminders, and tips that he might be most effective. A doula has most often been through labor and delivery herself and can thus relate to the pain of the mother, and help the mother’s spouse/partner understand possible alternatives, comfort measures that they can team up together in providing for the mother.

My husband specifically loved the presence of a doula at our births. He saw her as one who did not take his place in the least but provided him with the tools and reminders of how to serve me most effectively. She helped him be my #1 support!

Constant Support

Especially in a hospital setting, nurses and doctors will come and go, but a doula will stick with mother, father and baby through the whole labor and delivery. She will often be available to help with immediate breastfeeding after birth. Postpartum doulas are even available to hire after the birth to attend your needs at home and help you through the transition process. This is a huge asset especially if you do not have family in the area. It would be an excellent gift idea!

Benefits of Doula Use

Studies on labor support show that the benefits of doulas are tremendous!

  • C-sections reduced by 50%
  • Length of labor reduced by 25%
  • Oxytocin (induction) use reduced by 40%
  • Use of narcotics reduced by 30%
  • Forceps reduced by 30%
  • Epidurals reduced by 60%

Long-term benefits include:

  • Improved breastfeeding
  • Increased time spent with baby
  • Decreased postpartum depression

Doulas are independent and self-employed. I highly encourage you consider hiring a doula, especially if it is your first birth. They can be that knowledgeable support that is totally unique to even midwives.

To find a doula near you, visit Dona International or CAPPA.

Photo Credit

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Make Your Own Nursing Cover

A nursing cover is a huge asset to have as a new mom as you begin exploring the world of breastfeeding. I have been making my own for several years now. I love to give them as gifts to new moms because they are so nice to maintain privacy and comfort on the go. Nursing covers can be relatively expensive and easy enough to make in the comfort of your home with some basic supplies and simple sewing skills. I usually spend no more than $8-10 for all the supplies necessary for this project. Here is a little tutorial of my most recent cover for your use. This is a large nursing cover, measuring about 42″ x 30″ in the completed product. Most of the standard nursing covers on the market are far smaller and make it more awkward to keep yourself fully covered. I purposefully made this latest one significantly larger to test. The recipient shared that it was a huge improvement! You can certainly adapt the pattern to your own needs by adding extra or decreasing in size as desired.

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Q & A’s for Mission-Minded Families: MOTHERHOOD

by Passionate Homemaking’s monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan.

As I’m writing this article, it’s Mother’s Day morning. It’s not even 7am, but my husband and I have been awake for hours. Outside my little round window, I’m looking out over the fluffy clouds, and feeling so overwhelmingly thankful. Right now, Jon and I are en route to California to welcome “home” our oldest son, a USMC 1st Lieutenant in Ground Intelligence, who returns tomorrow from a dangerous military deployment in Afghanistan. It’s an exciting life-moment, but for this time to coincide with Mother’s Day is like a special gift, just from God!

This month on Passionate Homemaking, Lindsay asked if I would share my 5 top tips for mothers.

So, how do I put a lifetime of principles into a few concise tips? I’ve come to realize motherhood is a complex calling. It begins with a tiny little person growing inside of us, but the ramifications this has on every area of our life and future are HUGE!!! Successful motherhood is not easy, and it’s definitely not for wimps. Good motherhood demands everything we’ve got, plus more. It requires strength of character; discipline; reliance on God’s grace (and lots of help from friends and family); endurance; a new heart for intercession, like we never knew before; lots of laundry soap, Comet, and Windex; laughter; and VISION.

Just to let you know, I absolutely LOVE being a mom. Some of you may have struggled with accepting the idea of motherhood, but not me. Even from the time I was a girl, I’ve always longed for the whole package-deal. I was raised as the oldest child in a fairly large family (with six kids), and throughout my childhood and youth, I always looked forward to being a mom. At our wedding, Jon and I requested a prayer of blessing for lots of kids. And then, once we started having babies, we’ve been praising God for this dream come true!!!

A fun mommy moment, with our youngest child, Philip (a few years ago)

I love the feeling of a baby growing and kicking inside me (and that season when laying on the couch and eating well gives me a feeling of productivity). I love the challenge and work and JOY of giving birth. I love nursing and nurturing a precious newborn (and seeing those big eyes looking up at me). I love snuggling with toddlers, managing a houseful of rowdy munchkins, mixing batches of yummy cookies at a crowded kitchen counter, enjoying deep conversations with teens, envisioning possibilities with young adults . . . and aiming our arrows into the world to do some SERIOUS damage to the kingdom of darkness. WOOHOO!!! I love it!!!

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