Isaiah’s Testimony

Isaiah Blessing Jones made his debut into this world on Wednesday, August 17,  2011 at 9:53 PM.  He  weighed 6 pounds 5 ounces and was 19 inches tall.  The pregnancy was uneventful and there was no need for concern.  I had a normal delivery, however shortly after his birth, the action began!

  • When he was 2 days old, Isaiah was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because his blood sugar levels were low. I was told that I would have to leave the hospital without him and he would ONLY have to stay a few extra days.  I had never been done this road before; never did it cross my mind that after giving birth I would have to leave my baby in the hospital. To say I was emotional would be an understatement.  They began to feed him sugar water hoping to increase his blood sugar levels.
  • After his first day in the NICU, Isaiah was not digesting his feedings which was a red flag.  He was given IV fluids and feedings were put on hold.
  • On Day 3 blood was found in his stool which was a great cause for alarm and his tummy was distended.  In attempt to diagnose the problem, he had quite a few x-rays but all looked normal.  The doctors were very puzzled but suggested that he might have an infection.
  • On Day 4, his bilirubin levels were high so he had to go under the lights to help his levels return to normal.  He stayed under the lights for 3 days and was eventually removed.  His platelets levels began to drop and his white blood cell count was very low.  They continued to do x-rays and draw his blood every few hours for testing.
  • He still had blood in his stool on day 5 and had to have a platelet transfusion.  The Dr. in the NICU was very concerned and called in a pediatric surgeon to take a look at Isaiah.  After examining him, the surgeon concluded that he required immediate surgery.
  • At 5 days old, Isaiah had to have surgery.  Before surgery we were informed of all the risk involved, death being one of them.  Everything was happening so fast and I just wondered how we got to this point.  There were so many uncertainties concerning Isaiah.  Tyrone had been holding up pretty well but the tears began to flow when he saw our new baby laying there helpless before surgery.  Isaiah went into surgery at approximately 1:00PM and came out at 2:15PM.  That day in the waiting room was one of the longest days of our lives.  Tyrone and I sat there beside each other.  We prayed and waited.  The Dr. finally emerged to let us know that surgery had been successful.  He was diagnosed with  Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and 4 inches of Isaiah’s small intestines that were dead was removed.    He had an illesotomy and we were told that he would have the bag on anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  We were so thankful that after two and half months, the day after his Christening, Isaiah had a successful surgery to reconnect his intestines.

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  • We got pass surgery for his intestines and then on day 8 another bomb was dropped on us.  We were told that Isaiah had a heart murmur and had to have a PDA ligation surgery.  The PDA is a part of the heart.  Most babies are born with the PDA open, but it typically closes shortly after birth. The surgery on his intestines created a lot of trauma to his little body so the PDA never closed.
  • Isaiah had PDA ligation surgery on day 12. We were physically tired but not as emotional this time around.  God had given us an overwhelming sense of peace and we were standing in faith believing all was well.  Surgery was done in an hour and it was successful.
  • After the 13th day in the hospital, Isaiah was taken off the ventilator, and they began to feed him my milk through a tube.  Isaiah eventually began to tolerate more of his feedings and was taken off the ventilator.  After a month, he was able to come home.
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It was often a challenge taking all the children to see Isaiah. They were excited about their new baby brother but were ready for him to come home.
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Elijah was so excited when he finally got a chance to touch Isaiah.
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Tyrone would often leave work and come straight to the hospital to spend time with Isaiah.

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Big sisters learning from the nurse how to take care of Isaiah and how to change his bag before he came home. I look back and am amazed at how strong Naomi was. She would often assist me when I changed Isaiah’s bag at home.
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The day Isaiah finally got to come home!
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This picture was taken on the day of Isaiah’s christening. He would have his third and final surgery the following day.

 

Isaiah had his third and final surgery around this time three years ago.  I cannot help but to reflect and offer up praises to our God.  Isaiah is well, praise God!  Today I remember and celebrate what God has done for our tenacious boy!

Isaiah covering face isaiah holding nubmer 3

isaiah all smiles

 

Learning Alphabet & Scripture

Reading is fundamental; not an original thought I know, but it is true.  I want my children to cultivate a love for reading at an early age and it all begins with knowing the alphabet.  Today I am sharing a simple activity that accomplishes two objectives, learning the alphabet and the word of God.   This activity kept my four year old occupied for at least 30 minutes while I washed the dishes.  I loved that I didn’t have to stop and sit with him but we still had “together” time as I gave him different directives.  It was a win for the both of us.  The steps are below.

  1. Get a printout for your child to trace letters A-Z
  2. After she traces the letters, have her say each letter and the sound.
  3. After she says the letter sound have her say things that begin with that letter.  If your child is a little more advanced you can have her make sentences with the chosen word.
  4. Have her repeat the scripture that goes with the specific letter. Please visit this post, scroll down to the bottom and you will see my ABC scripture list.

Below is an example of applying the above steps for the Letter “A”

  1. Ask her to point to the letter “A” on her sheet.
  2. Ask her what sound the “A” makes.
  3. Ask her to tell you some words that make the “A” sound.  You can go on and on with this step depending on how much time you need to buy and how attentive your child is.
  4. Ask her to make sentences with the “A” words she mentioned.   You can extend this activity and make a story about the “A” words.  Again this is all about how much time you need and how attentive your child is.
  5. Finally, have your child repeat the “A” scripture,  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.”
  6. You can extend this activity by having her draw pictures of the “A” words she listed.

If you decide to try this, please leave a comment and let me know how it works out.  Happy Friday to you!

 

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Marriage Is hard work but it is worth it


My husband told me yesterday that he loved me more now than he did before.  He was falling in love all over again.  I blushed and told him the feeling is mutual.  Our marriage is in a good place.  This man is pursuing me like nobody’s business and I am LOVING EVERY MOMENT OF IT.  This has not always been the case.   During our marriage, we have experienced highs and lows, some deep wounds, shed many tears, spoke some very harsh words, had moments of unforgiveness and bitterness BUT God!

Marriage is hard work.  Period.   However as Tyrone and I reflect on all we have been through we recognize that it was NOTHING but the grace of God that kept us together.  Difficulties are a guaranteed part of life, but God promises the victory…ALWAYS.   These years have taught us that it is not money, beauty, or even good health that keeps a marriage together.  We have been challenged in all of the above departments.  After 13 years, 6 children, 2 miscarriages,  2 babies in the NICU, 1 income, and severe hair loss I can confidently say  that we are not enduring in our marriage.  WE ARE THRIVING.  How?  Pursuing God.  The difficulties that should have torn our marriage apart have produced a deeper love for God and for each other.

You see, even in all of our challenges and imperfections, God has given us the victory.  God tells a husband that he is to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her.  This is  for better or for worse kind of love.  Not something a husband can do in his own strength.   Then for us wives we are told to respect our husband and submit to his authority. Respect him even when you don’t agree or can’t understand why he does what he does.  Submitting to Tyrone’s authority was not easy for me.  I was so dug in and very bent on doing things my way.  However as we both pursue God, He has given us the grace to do what seems impossible.  One of the reasons why I am falling in love with Tyrone all over again is that he now has a greater pursuit of God.  Knowing that my husband seeks the face of God brings me great comfort as a wife; trusting his leadership.  Submission then becomes a joy and not a chore.

Having a good marriage is not automatic.  You have to work at it.   But let me tell you it is absolutely worth it.  If you are on the brink of throwing in the towel on your marriage,  I want to encourage you to consider otherwise.  There is so much more to lose than to gain if you walk away.  I can confidently say that God is a redeemer, try Him with your marriage.  Take the steps necessary for  success.  Have you repented of your sins and given your heart to Jesus?  Are you connected to a church body?  Accountability and sound BIBLICAL counsel are necessary ingredients for a good marriage.  If you are in the Chicago land area and are looking for a church home,  I of course encourage you to join me at my church.  Oh and bring your spouse, even if you are mad at him/her.

He can keep you

Here is Elijah in the emergency room with a broken arm.  See the look on his face?  That is how I felt when I first got saved and returned to campus.  I was struggling.

 

It has been a long week to say the least. Our four year old broke his arm while we were out of town. NEVER A DULL MOMENT IN MY LIFE…NEVER! The first emergency room we visited recommended us to Carle hospital in Urbana. I love me some Urbana-Champaign. Why? I left with a great education and a wonderful husband. Not a bad deal. So of course being in Urbana caused me to reflect on my years at the good old UofI.

I began my college career as a very nice sinner. I knew the truth but certainly was not living it. I got saved during winter break of my Junior year in college. My conversion was real but I STRUGGLED when I returned to campus. Why? I was trying to blend my old life with my new. I knew what God was requiring of me but I failed to put up the proper hedges. Whenever I returned to old habits, there was a strong sense of conviction. I was miserable. I had not fully embraced my new life in Christ and the old Anika desperately desired to be resurrected.

God was not requiring me to live saved in my own strength but He was asking me to cooperate with the process of sanctification. This meant that I had to cut off some relationships, keep my feet out of certain places, be mindful of what I watched and listened to. I had to get extreme.  This was a very lonely time for me, it was painful but necessary. I could not put any confidence in my flesh. The Lord showed me how to maintain proper boundaries. It was then that this scripture became my reality. Yes God was able to keep me from falling but I had to want to be kept. The young me still had moments of struggle but as time went on I found myself getting stronger. I hungered for holiness. At times zeal got the best of me and wisdom was absent but God was so patient with me. He still is. I am thankful. Here I am over sixteen years later, still a work in progress but I am basking in God’s ability to redeem.

To those who have just begun the journey of faith, I applaud and encourage you for making the best decision. EVER. You will not regret it. If you are struggling know that whatever temptation you are facing, God is able to provide a way of escape so you wont have to give in to the temptation. TAKE THE WAY OF ESCAPE! Don’t play with the devil because his plans are to destroy you. COMPLETELY! If you have fallen, truly repent, don’t look back, and do not receive any condemnation the devil freely offers. I am here if you need prayer and encouragement. Keep pressing!

How to teach the word of God to young children

I am all for educating children.  As a matter of fact, I went to school to be a teacher.  But I recognize that beyond ABC’s and 123’s the most important thing I need to live and teach my children is the word of God.  This is the ultimate key to a successful life. PERIOD.  If nothing else, this economy has taught us that you can have enough degrees to bake a cake but it does not guarantee success.   I could not resist. I had to use the degrees to bake a cake joke.  Funny?…no…ok.   Before I make another attempt at a joke, I will try share the tips.

 

Take time to read stories of young children in scripture.  

  • This helps them to see that living for God is not just for grown ups.
  • Josiah, Moses, Jesus, Samuel, David are a few.  Jeremiah & John the Baptist  were called from the womb.
  • Some children bibles are extremely simplistic in their explanation, sometimes altering the truth of the word.  Do not be afraid to “beef” it up for your children.  Believe me, they can handle a lot more than we think.  Trust me on this one.
  • Be animated as you read.  Make it exciting for your child.
  • Read the story to your children  and find creative ways to assess their understanding of the story.
    • After reading provide them with materials to make puppets for characters from the story and have them act it out, join in on the fun.
    • For the older ones, have them come up with a song or poem to convey the main points of the story.
    • Have them draw a picture or paint (depending on how patient you are feeling that day)of their favorite part of the story.  Ask them questions like, why was this your favorite part, how did this story make you feel?
    • I also LOVE Popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners.
  •  I am not a big fan of sticking children in front of the television but some days are just like that.  I figure if they are going to watch it, it might as well be edifying.  Get on Youtube to find videos of bible stories that you have read in the past.  This helps to reinforce what they have already learned.  You can also click on my “Books” tab to find some of my recommendations from amazon.

 

Suggestions for helping children memorize scripture (works for young and old, repetition is key).

  • It is helpful to have visual charts when working with children.
  • Put a scripture for the month on a poster board or note card and post them in prominent areas of the home such as the bathroom mirror, child’s bedroom door, above bed, and refrigerator.
  • Use illustrations to go with the pictures for those children that cannot read. The picture cues will help them to remember the scriptures.
  • As a family come up with different gestures for words of the scripture.
    • Example: If you are learning a scripture that has the word pray in it, you can have the children fold their hands as if they are praying whenever they get to the word pray in the scripture.
  • Young children tend to learn really quickly when the material is put to song. It does not  matter if you cannot sing, the children don’t care.
  • Look for ways in everyday life to teach children how to live out the scripture.  This encourages them to be doers of the word & not hearers only.
  •  Teach children key scriptures.
    • Examples include: John 3:16, The Lord’s Prayer Mathew 6:9-13,  Psalm 23, Ephesians 6:1.
    • To help the children and yourself learn these scriptures, you can make up your own family tune to the scripture and learn a new verse each month.   Again do not assume that they are too young to learn it, kids learn well through repetition.  Make time each day to review the selected verse.  It does not always have to be sitting down. Perhaps its in the car running errands or as you are washing dishes and they are playing nearby, make the time.

 Have daily confessions with your children including scriptures.

  • This is a good time to incorporate any prophetic words that have been spoken concerning your children; this helps them to be mindful of their destiny even at a young age.
    • Example.  If you know God has called your child to  preach you can have the child say something like, “I thank you God that I am a preacher.”  He may not have a clue as to what all of this means but the seeds are planted at a young age.
  • Also use this time to help your child understand what God is requiring of her.
    • Example: If you have a child that is having difficulty obeying, you can have the child learn Ephesians 6:1 in a personal way.  Have the child say something like this:  “God I thank you that I will honor mommy and daddy in the Lord for this is right!”  You may not see immediate results, but as the word gets in his spirit & you teach him ways to line up, you will see a shift.
  • I also like to use this time to introduce some key truths to the Christian faith.  For example, my 3 year old goes through what I like to call a daily confession. I ask him his name, his age, who loves him, who died for his sins, and who healed him.  I want him to understand early on that he is loved by us, but more importantly he is loved by Jesus.  I want him to really get that the blood of Jesus is the only thing that can save him from his sins.  Isaiah has an awesome testimony of how God healed him as an infant.  I do not want him to EVER forget what Jesus did for him. As he gets older, we will build on this foundation; sharing truths such as the power that’s in the blood of Jesus, repenting of our sins,etc.
  • Watch the video below for an example.  Isaiah is not used to me recording him as he responds to my questions so for the first few seconds he is caught up in the camera.

 

 

Finally, below is a list of scriptures A-Z that I received when my oldest was in preschool.  I ABSOLUTELY love it and still use it today, even for my now 10 year old.  I tend to review this when we are in the car or on the weekends when we have an extended devotion.  Start with the letter A and work your way through the alphabet.  I also like to discuss what each scripture means with my children; going beyond memorizing to comprehending which I pray will lead to applying it.  Print it out and put on your refrigerator.  I hope you find these suggestions to be helpful.  Leave me a comment and let me know!

A-Z Memory Verse

 

A-All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

 

B-Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!  Acts 16:31

 

C-children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

 

D-Depart from evil do good seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

 

E– Enter by the narrow gate. Mathew 7:13

 

F-For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

 

G-Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Mathew 28:19

 

H-Honor your father and mother Exodus 20:12

 

I-I am the way the truth and the life John 14:6

 

J-The just shall live by.  Romans 1:17

 

K-keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.  Psalm 34:13

 

L-Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

 

M-Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Psalm 100:1

 

N– No servant can serve two masters. Mathew 6:24

 

O– Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!  Psalm 34:8

 

P-pray without ceasing.  1 Thessalonians 5:17

 

Q-Quench not the Spirit.  1 Thessalonians 5:19

 

R-Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth. Ecclesiastes 12

 

S-Submit to God.  Resist the devil and He will flee from you. James 14:7

 

T–  “ The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  Proverbs 9:10

 

U-Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  Psalm 127:1

 

V-Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Romans 12:19

 

W-Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Mathew 25:13

 

X-eXalt the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool— He is holy.  Psalm 99:5

 

Y– Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

 

Z-Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments, O LORD.  Psalm 97:8

 

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Simple Paleo Plantain Bread

Since I have gone Paleo, my children have not been happy about the absence of bread from our household; especially the missing tooth child pictured above.  She is not thrilled with the idea of bringing a chicken leg for lunch.  She has a field trip tomorrow and is begging me to make a sandwich for her sack lunch.  So today this mama  got in the kitchen and made a Paleo friendly bread.  It is super easy to make.  I modified the original recipe and it was a total hit with the younger three.   Let us hope their older sister shares the same sentiments.   This recipe is not Whole30 approved because they discourage you from making any Paleo version of all off limits food; bread being one of them. For those doing the Whole30, I will post more approved recipes this week to make up for it.  Deal?  Ok! Glad we are friends again. Now for the recipe.

Simple Paleo Plantain Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 green plantain
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • I also added some black pepper and dried herb seasoning

Be adventurous and experiment with different seasonings.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Peel plantain and cut into medium size pieces
  • Place plantain in blender or food processor
  • Add eggs.
  • Blend until the mixture is creamy.
  • Add mixture to a greased pan.
  • Bake bread for 20 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

I must add that this is more like a flat bread, but it is still yummy!

Isaiah enjoying his plantain bread with some meat.
Isaiah enjoying his plantain bread with some meat.

 

Faith a little skeptical as Elijah tries to share some of his bread.
Faith a little skeptical as Elijah tries to share some of his bread.

 

She decides to give it a try.
She decides to give it a try.

 

That face says it all!  Go ahead and give it a try. If you have the same response as Faith, please leave me a comment.
That face says it all! Go ahead and give it a try. If you have the same response as Faith, please leave me a comment.