God recently showed me myself as I was typing an email to a friend expressing my frustration with my children. I told her we have chore charts and expectations are clearly communicated, yet some of them seem to forget these instructions. In my frustration I had become a full-blown nag, reminding them in not very pleasant ways that they were not doing what I required of them. I have told them on more than one occasion, “I just don’t understand why you can’t consistently do what I require of you?” As I was typing this venting email to my friend, I felt a familiar nudge. It was the Father taking me to school once again. At the moment, I felt Him saying that I also have those tendencies. I know what His expectations are, they are there for me in the word and He is constantly reminding me, but sometimes I choose not to do what He expects of me. I may leave jobs unfinished because I allow myself to become idle and prioritize incorrectly. I may respond in anger with those I love because I chose to walk by the flesh and not the spirit. Sigh. I closed my eyes and prayed. I asked the Father to forgive me. I asked Him to help both the children and me to follow the instructions we know we should. This was yet another reminder of my need to give and receive grace. Yes, I will hold my children accountable for not doing what they should, just as the Father holds me accountable for my disobedience. However, in the process I will aim to extend grace and seek redemption. Psalm 86:15 proves to be true, “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” It is humbling when God shows you yourself, but I am so grateful for His patience with me and I pray to extend that same patience to others.
I’m no stranger to the walls of a hospital.
I’ve been here before.
I am familiar with the beeping of the machines, the whispers of the nurses, and the concerned speeches of the doctors about the diagnosis.
I have been here before.
Twice I entered these hospital walls with a baby in my womb only to leave with a sewn heart to remind me of the baby that didn’t leave with me in my arms. Miscarriages.
I have been here before.
I entered these walls ready to give birth to blessings #5. I was filled with joy and anticipation about meeting my new bundle of joy. But three days later I left with a heavy heart, lots a of paperwork and no baby in my arms. Things took a turn for the worse and I had to leave my brand new baby behind in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). One month and two surgeries later, I brought him home with instructions on how to tend to my brand new baby who now had an ileostomy and scars on his body from surgery. I also knew that a third surgery was in his future. I left those walls excited but feeling extremely inadequate because of all that was going to be required to tend to our baby.
I have been here before.
My water broke…12 weeks early. I had to go on bed rest in the hospital. So much about this pregnancy was already delicate. They told us blessing #6 would be born with a chromosomal abnormality and heart defect among many other complications and that was if she even made it out of my womb alive. I sat on bed rest behind those hospital walls praying for a miracle. All their efforts to keep the baby in the womb expired after 15 days. It was time for me to give birth….10 weeks early. After her delivery, my husband and I sat there in silence. No chance to hear or see the 2 lb 6 oz gift I had just delivered. They immediately rushed her to the NICU and ran many tests. Two hours later we could finally see her but the many machines and contraptions on her face and tiny body formed a wall between our bodies but not our hearts. Three days later I left those walls, and again there was no baby in my arms. I left with a heavy heart for my sweet baby girl who I had to leave behind at the NICU. A little over a month later I left those walls with a fragile baby but a grateful heart.
I have been here before.
And here I am again.
This time me and my husband entered these hospital walls in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The hospital was one of the last place we wanted to be, but we had no choice. My husband carried our ten-year-old’s frail and pain ridden body to the emergency room. We didn’t know what was going on. For days he had been lethargic and quickly loosing weight. Things took a turn for the worse early that morning. He came in our room, short of breath, super dehydrated, and complaining of abdominal pain. He threw up and also had diarrhea. We prayed and as his health continued to decline; we rushed him to the emergency room. They poked him, drew blood, ran many tests and come back to let us know it was not the dreaded COVID 19 virus instead it was the onset of type 1 diabetes. Unknowing to us, his body was not producing insulin, and he was experiencing what they call diabetic ketoacidosis; a condition where your body produces high levels of blood acids. If left untreated, Elijah could have fallen into a coma and ultimately die. They immediately started him on insulin trips. They told us he was in critical condition, and they transferred him via ambulance to the ICU of another hospital. Every hour they poked him, drew his blood and ran test until he was stabilized early in the morning on RESURRECTION SUNDAY. They inundated us with information on type 1 diabetes, how to check his blood sugar and how to administer insulin at home. Three days later we are leaving with lots of paperwork and medicine for a type 1 diabetic patient. All of it is overwhelming, but we are also grateful to leave these walls with a child who stared death in the face and came out alive!
Yes, I have been here before.
But never have I been here alone.
For every painful and unexpected news I’ve received behind these walls, God has been right here with me. Never leaving me without hope, even when I was experiencing loss.
He’s flooded my heart with a peace I couldn’t understand,
Gave me a praise even when the diagnosis was not what I wanted and taught me to pray real raw prayers.
Behind these walls, he has taught me he is good, even when the circumstances are less than ideal.
These walls won’t cause me to question God’s faithfulness, on the contrary they have confirmed that He is who He says He is!
These walls won’t push me to curse God and die, instead they have produced a greater surrender and sweeter communion with Him!
These walls have never closed in on me, because God has always been right there with me-to comfort, to love, to give me an eternal perspective.
I’ve seen a lot behind these walls and each time I leave with a greater revelation of God; pain has a way of doing that.
Yes, I have been here before
But make no mistake, I have never been here alone.
We were having an ongoing problem in our home and my assumption was that the culprit was a particular child. For months as the problem continued, I would reprimand this child and he would vehemently deny it. I didn’t believe him and the more he denied it the angrier I became. We recently had an impromptu devotion with the children because we all needed a spiritual tune-up. I shared Proverbs 28:13– “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” After reviewing this scripture with the children, I invited everyone to confess their sins to God. Right before bed, I was reminded of the reoccurring problem we had been having for months. I approached the one I assumed was the culprit and before I could finish my accusations, another child began to confess that he was the guilty party. All this time, he kept his sin hidden. It shocked me. I could see the shame on his face as he confessed, and I could tell he was expecting a negative response, but the grace of God overwhelmed me, and I responded accordingly. I told him that even though his actions were wrong, I was happy that he confessed his sins. I encouraged him to apologize to his brother-the one he allowed to carry the blame for all these months. What happened after that warmed my heart. The other brother who was accused all this time responded with grace. He let his brother know that he forgave him and just like that he carried on playing with his Lego. He didn’t take the time to relish because he was finally vindicated. He forgave and moved on.
I had a few exchanges with them and went to my room and uttered a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father. I want my children to know Jesus, like for real know Him. I want them to respond to the convictions of the Holy Spirit. I want them to confess their sins. I want them to know the beauty of forsaking sin and receiving God’s forgiveness. I want them to experience the grace that comes from true repentance. I also want them to freely forgive others and not hold on. The struggle with sin is real in our home, that I won’t pretend! But this incident was a sweet reminder that God is at work, and He is greater!
I encourage you to, confess your sins when needed. Our sins not only impact us but it can impact others, so when necessary apologize to those who have been affected by your sin. If you are the one that has been offended, be merciful and receive the apology and move on, no need to remind the person of what they have done! In other words, respond with mercy- the way God responds to us when we repent.
I will be the first to admit that I love the convenience of having a smartphone BUT there is a dark side to this device. The phone can be a time thief! Mindless scrolling on our phone rob us of time and hinder our productivity. If we allow, it can also have a negative impact on our ability to have real connections with those we love. Below I have compiled a list of 10 things you can do instead of getting on your phone.
I would love to hear from you. What do you do instead of getting on your phone?
I am a huge advocate for teaching children scripture and encouraging them to hide the word of God in their hearts so that they do not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Music is great way to accomplish this goal. Select the scripture you want to memorize and sing it to your favorite tune or make up your own beat. You can also create your own “instruments” with household items like my children did in this video. There are so many fun things you can do to help children memorize scripture. Repetition also helps them remember the selected verse. I typically review the scripture at least three times each day when they are first learning it. Once the scripture is memorized, we rehearse it at least once a day in addition to the other scriptures we have memorized. I desire for my children to know the word and also LIVE IT! How do you help your child memorize scripture? Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you.
I normally get up before the children to have my quiet time with the Lord. Then later when I have devotion with them, I share what I studied in my devotional time. I love this approach because it gives me an opportunity to teach what I just learned, which further solidifies the lesson for me.
In this post, I shared the insights I received from reading the genealogy of Jesus in Mathew 1 during my personal devotion. When it was time to have devotion with the children on the same topic, I took a more creative approach. I believe it is important to encourage the children to get a deeper understanding of scripture, but this process doesn’t have to be boring!
After reading Mathew 1:1-17 as a group, I divided the children into groups of two. I assigned each group one indivi dual that was mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. Each group had to read a passage of scripture that gave more details about their assigned individual. For example, group 1 was assigned Ruth and they were asked to read the entire book of Ruth since it is short. Group 2 had Jacob and they read Genesis 27. The 3rd and final group got David and read 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12. Each group was given 30-40 mins to read their assigned passage and then come up with a creative way to present what they learned to the large group. One group wrote a rap, the other two did a dramatic presentation with props, and drew pictures to retell the story. This helps them to learn in different ways and helps to break up the monotony of devotion. It helps that my voice is not the only voice that they hear, and they are given some “ownership.” The movement also helps the younger ones to not check out. Also, when the children present what they just learned, this helps me to assess if they have really grasped what they read. The children really enjoy this approach to devotion and thinking outside the box. I would love to hear from you, what are creative ways that you have devotion with your children?