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Tag Archives: devotions for parents of young children

Feathers from Angels

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I guess our freezer door wasn’t fully closed. Opening the door and seeing the frost that developed on the shelves, our little girl shouted out:

“Mom! Look! It looks like feathers from angels!”

Her words caused me to look closer… Changed my entire perspective.

And now every time I see frost I am going to think of angel feathers… Of our awesome God, and the precious gift He has given to this world: children.

Feeling so thankful right now for our little “angels” that all too often open my eyes and my heart to the beauty and the heavenly right in front of me- beauty I am often too blind to see.

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Ironing a little girl’s dress, Ironing out my heart

It’s 11:30 p.m. as I start to write this. I still have a little girl’s dress to press to get ready for church in the morning… And to be honest I am having a hard time balancing a joyful, thankful heart and a totally broken heart. And I have a feeling, I am not alone.

My mind keeps going back to pictures of little ones whose bodies were being gathered together… Children in Iran who fled to the hills with their families for fear of death, only to starve and die of thirst. I keep thinking about her, that little girl who looked so much like our youngest daughter, limp in a man’s arms.

Our baby girl smiled earlier this evening, held up her pretty church dress, and I started to think of that little girl again, and the many others, children’s heads on sticks, women and mothers being raped, fathers being hung… And meanwhile, elsewhere there are women and children stuck in human trafficking, children and spouses stuck in abusive homes, friend’s who have lost loved ones unexpectedly, hurricanes, and mudslides… Yeah, I think of all those things and suddenly what we are wearing to church seems so trivial. Whether this dress gets ironed out not so important… But instead ironing out my heart.

Because I truly believe that God is not blind to what is happening.

Exodus 3:7
Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress…”

He is not deaf to the cries of his people. But I fear that all too often… We are… And we are by choice.

And somewhere in the mix of all of this it has really dawned on me that while I so desperately want to “save”so many… When I open my heart to the pains of others… It frees ME. It frees me from ingratitude. It frees me from being numb. It frees me from the little “happy bubble” that I like to stay in. And truly we aren’t meant to float around in a happy bubble. We are meant to feel- to take compassion. To cry…

“Jesus wept.” The shortest verse in the Bible and yet perhaps the most profound to me. That the all powerful Savior of the World wept. It was part of his purpose. Part of the reason he came and entered our world. He came to feel our pains, because only by feeling our pain could he free us from it.

We live in a great, big, broken world. And as we allow our hearts to feel it – to be broken for others, cry when they cry, pray when they ask for prayer- I really believe we WILL see miracles- including those that happen within our very own hearts.

I urge you friends- especially those of you who, like me, don’t like to let your happy bubble get popped- start clicking those links: see, hear, feel, fast, pray, cry… Let the heat of the world’s hurt hit your heart and let God iron out the shriveled and wrinkled places. Be moved. Move. And wait for a miracle.

 

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Weary Parent of a Busy Toddler… You Can

I am sitting here tonight- Stomach churning and painfully piercing at times from what is most likely a stomach virus. It comes in waves. And so are my thoughts of this past weekend.

We had somewhat of a family reunion with family from my husband’s side. We spent days getting ready for it. Come to the final hours, everything was in place- except my heart.

I wasn’t prepared truly for the task. I had visions of long conversations with my sisters and older cousins. I had imagined just sitting and talking and precious heart to heart moments. I imagined our babies and children happily playing while we caught up.

I didn’t imagine our youngest son would be so overwhelmed by the amount of unfamiliar faces that he would cry anytime I tried to leave his side…

The amount of time I would be stuck sitting with him because he wouldn’t even eat unless I was at his side.

I somewhat imagined the energy that would be required to monitor the little ones that could not swim as they toddled around a dock and lake all weekend. But I figured our family was big and would gladly take turns on life guard duty. Didn’t imagine that the only person who would be able to life guard our youngest would be me.

So our youngest would want to toddle down to the dock at every chance he could. There he would test his limits as always. When I would bring him back inside, where I could take a bit of a break, he would cry.

I wanted to sit.

I wanted to relax and talk and fish, go out and ride the boat with everyone else without a baby on my lap.

And after a full day of this, I was visibly bothered.

And more than anything, I was bothered at my own heart. Still am.

Because even though I have gone through this toddler stage 6 times now, it still got the best of me.

Practice doesn’t always make perfect.

And our family was so great. They pitched in and did so much. They bought food. They helped cook and clean. I did not help prepare a single meal, but was blessed with the ability to have the weekend off from cooking. And there were no quarrels and truly no chaos. They tried to watch out youngest but he wouldn’t have it.

There truly was nothing wrong with the weekend – other than my heart.

I went into the weekend imagining me running around smiling and serving our family. I went in to the weekend excited truly at the opportunity to serve. But when where I truly needed to serve was back in the exact same place- I wasn’t smiling. I was irritated. Resentful.

And tonight my stomach and heart churns at the opportunity I missed. I had the chance to shine, but I didn’t.

I had the chance to embrace and enjoy the person right in front of me who needed me the most, but all I wanted was to push that person away and move on to bigger, better things.

What about you?

Where has God continued to call you to serve?

Who has he called you to serve?

Is it not what you envisioned?

Does your heart long for bigger, better things?

Can I challenge you tonight with a little question, one that The Lord whispered to my soul:

“What if this is the big thing?”

Can you embrace it?

Can you shine in it?

Can you serve with a genuine smile?

I regret that I failed to this past weekend.

I wasn’t smiling. I was struggling.

As I write that my mind goes back to my struggle in the grocery store this past weekend. I had to make a food run. Wanted to go with just my sister but couldn’t. I ended up taking along our two youngest. There I was, pushing my shopping cart down the grocery store aisle. Our youngest in the basket seat. Our three year-old hanging on each side of the cart. Trying to talk with my sister… The reality sinking in that this is what talks look like nowadays. And the cart began to feel heavy and wide. And for a moment all I could feel was the weight. Almost instantly, The Lord brought to my mind the image of an anchor.

An anchor, Lord?

Yes, an anchor… hanging on the side of my shopping cart.

And I began to consider: Could it be that what feels like such a heavy weight is indeed just an anchor, God’s way of keeping us exactly where we need to be?

And it dawned on me that children are truly God’s anchors.

They anchor us to service.

They anchor us to humbleness.

They anchor us to selflessness.

They anchor us to the very heart of Christ.

So, weary parent of a busy toddler… I pray tonight you consider how God is calling you to serve.

I pray your eyes be opened that is the “big thing.”

And I pray that that you pick up your child with a smile, convinced that your little anchor is keeping you exactly where you need to be.

Because I didn’t.

But praise God, I still can.

 

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Stop Whining!

So we have six children in our house. And although our older children are getting a little older, there is still a lot of crying and whining in our house. I cannot tell you how many cries of “injustice” I hear in a day. “He…!!!!” “She….!!!”

And you know, it isn’t the “tattling” that bothers me. I actually like to be told. It is the manner of which the reports come.

If they would simply stay calm and talk to me, state their case and listen to my advice and act according to what we together reason as the best solution… How much more peaceful things could really be.

But our children can be very emotional and irrational creatures a times… And truth be told… So can I.

How many times am I really whining at God?

How may times am I crying out “He…!!!” “She…!!”

How many times do I, deep, deep down, not want to reason anything out but simply want to vent out?

How many times am I truly not interested in hearing him but only in him hearing me?

How many times do I want to see my idea of justice, forgetting that justice looked like an innocent man on a cross?

Oh, how God uses our children to so clearly allow us to see ourselves… To remind us that we are deeply loved despite our irrational and emotional tendencies… To speak to our hearts in a gentle and yet thundering way:

“Stop whining. Stop crying ‘injustice!’ Just come to me. Reason with me. Follow my guidance and all the sin will be made white as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

 

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“Where are we going?!”

The other day I surprised our kids by taking them somewhere they had no idea we were going to. They had clues. They knew we were headed somewhere. They had some ideas of what would be there but truly they were quite clueless as to where we would end up.

The “not knowing” was just too much for our oldest. The entire drive he sat next to me, pressing me with questions. “Where are we going?!” Every place he would see us approaching he would get excited, certain he had figured it out, proclaiming, “This is where we are going!” But each time we kept driving. He was so anxious and determined to figure it out that he was missing out on the beautiful sights around us. He was missing out on singing along to some of his favorite songs on the radio. He was missing out on the present, obsessed with figuring out the future.

Ever been there? I know I have.

I asked him at one point, “What are you so worried about?” His response? “Well, I feel excited thinking about where we might be going. But I am also nervous. What if where we are going isn’t that great at all?”

Doesn’t that just sum it all up? We hear that God has big plans and purposes for us and we are excited to hear that, but deep down there are doubts.

But what if we truly trusted that his plans for us are so good, so great, so much better than what we can see or comprehend?

One things is for sure. We would certainly enjoy the ride so much more.

 

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Heave and Be Healed

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Sitting here with our son who just fell asleep after a few rounds of vomiting. Our little ones are resting… There is a moment of calm in the storm.

There is something about holding your son as he begs, “Make it stop. I can’t take this. Make it stop…”

“I can’t make it stop baby. All I can do is hold you while you hurt.”

Catching puke in buckets.

Picking up a crying baby whose backside and thighs are oozing with diarrhea… Too much for a diaper to hold.

Washing them.

Giving them fluids.

Covering them with covers.

Cleaning toilets with bleach.

Knowing full well… You are too close to this. Too close.

But those who love get close.

And isn’t that what Easter is all about?

A God who got close, reached out, touched, held, healed by essentially catching what we are so heavily infested with – sin.

And I was watching this little boy heave into a bucket, knowing full well that some things simply have to be heaved.

That healing can’t come until we heave out what is causing the pain.

“It needs to come out baby. Don’t try to hold it in… Let it go.”

What are you holding onto today? What is causing your pain?

Perhaps it is heaving time.

Perhaps it is healing time.

And I am convinced today that Jesus cries for our pain.

I am convinced that this “job” of His was not his job but his joy.

Convinced that our faces are more precious to him than the most beautiful, heavenly places.

He is with us.

Holding us.

Saying, “Don’t hold it in…”

Go ahead. Heave child of God. Heave into the hands of Jesus and be healed.

 

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Parenting Young Children 101: “Take a Deep Breath” Exception

So I usually try to tell myself in the very crazy times to “take a deep breath.”

Today, I would like to add an exception.

When your two year-old, who has been on antibiotics, comes to you smelling like an elephant exhibit with poop filling her underwear and leggings…

AND

In the middle of trying to change said two year-old, your six year-old comes barging in the bathroom, holding his fingers and screaming because your four year-old shut the pantry door on his fingers- yes- the same pantry door you found him hiding behind before smelling the elephant exhibit…

In THAT moment…

DO. NOT. TAKE. A. DEEP. BREATH.

Try not to breathe AT ALL.

Deep breaths will make the situation MUCH worse.

No. Do NOT take a deep breath.

Instead, close your eyes and imagine yourself as the zoo keeper in beautiful San Diego- enjoying the sunshine while cleaning up the animals and the grounds…

Yes- THAT may actually put a smile on your face in the midst of your precious “elephant” and “holler monkey.”

But taking a “DEEP breath”…

I can assure you,

WILL NOT help.

— End of exception. —

 

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