When Life Gets Crazy and We Want to Know the "Why"


The first of November my daughter came down with a fever. We had no idea on that evening this would be anything more than just a typical kid illness. After several trips to our amazing pediatrician over the next week we landed in the hospital for another week. At the end of it all we are left with very few answers, but very grateful hearts that she is steadily healing. 

Time and time again the pediatric team and the numerous specialists we met with over the course of the week told us just how very sick she was, but how amazed they were she wasn’t worse, crediting our regular pediatrician for sending us to the hospital as well as the emergency room doctors for assessing the need for very specific tests which led to her early diagnosis. They began treatment with their working diagnosis before it was fully proven and within 12 hours we saw dramatic improvement. While we greatly value the wisdom and knowledge of every doctor we encountered, we credit Jesus our Healer for the speed with which she was diagnosed and treated. 

Our human nature wants to know why things happen. Most of the time I come to the conclusion it is simply a result of a fallen world. While I rarely can see more behind the why of our trials, I know the Lord uses these things to deepen my faith. I have never physically felt the prayers of the saints in the way I did during our hospital stay. I felt emotionally calmed, physically strengthened, and a peace I cannot explain. We asked the doctors specifically what to ask people to pray for and they gladly told us. When we were given good reports we immediately gave praise to the Lord.

I learned so much about how to support and encourage those who are walking in difficulties physically. Bringing those who are supporting the one who is sick meals in the hospital is something I never considered. Specifically praying for certain aspects of hospital life is another one. I also was greatly encouraged by the many verses of Scripture sent to me via text. One of my dear friends who spent a lot of time with her son in the hospital sent me verses and told me she knew I may not be up to finding them on my own and she just wanted to encourage me. Wow! She was so right and every verse sent to me was exactly what I needed in the moment. 

I also learned the need for rest and giving myself a space to cry. It was appropriate that I did not break down in front of my already frightened girl. We barely understood what we were being told and those big medical terms can be terrifying for children! The trauma of four IVs and 2-3 lab draws per day for testing left its mark, but I had to be calm and confident for her as we held her through all of that. When I needed to cry, I went to a place I could cry without interference. Getting that emotion out left me space to be what I needed to for her. I also took the advice of my husband and friend after the initial 24 hours of being awake and went home to sleep soundly. It was hard to go home, but it was what I needed to be sustained for the following days.

I have two very specific moments which I will forever remember. The first was when one of the doctors finished answering our questions after a very lengthy very medical explanation of some complicated and pretty scary things. After we said we didn’t have any more questions she looked at me and said, “You are taking this really well. Are you sure you are okay?” We smiled and told her we were trusting the Lord and while it was hard, yes, we were okay.

The second moment came just a few hours before we were sent home. One of the nursing assistants was chatting with me and asked what my husband did for a living. When I told her he was a pastor she broke into a huge smile and said, “I thought you were believers! I’m not aloud to ask, but I wanted to that first time I met you.” We had a wonderful chat at my daughter’s bedside and an opportunity to pray together before she left the room.

Those moments were very small in the scheme of my sweet girl and our search for answers as to what was attacking her little body, but they were moments of hope which gave me an assurance that when I am weak Christ is my strength. 

Honestly, I think it may be the grace of God that we do not know Why? In my human nature there is no Why? which I feel should justify the suffering of my sweet daughter or makes it okay that she now begins to panic at the thought of a needle. So, I’m not asking. I don’t need to know. I just need to press on and trust.

We have been home a week. My girl may wear out a little faster than normal, but other than that she appears very healthy. She is eating well, running into leaf piles, and bickering with her sisters over trivial things. All of these are normal and I welcome them! We may never fully know what was behind all of this as we continue seeing specialists and receive test results. She may never be sick again, but we are also prepared this may be an onset of an autoimmune disorder. In the midst of all the uncertainty we see His hand and are choosing to say, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”

Credit: Medic: Bundle by Dream Big Designs

The One Year Praying Through the Bible for Your Kids: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

I review a lot of devotionals and Bible studies through the various review networks I partner with. I usually find myself writing that there is not enough Scripture used or that the devotionals are too light and fluffy. I am pleased to say this is not one of those devotionals! 
I have been using this book for my own personal time with God. It is dated, but

it can easily be picked up mid-year. Each day lists several portions of Scripture to read out of your own Bible each day. Passages from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs are included for every day. I absolutely love this because you get a little bit from each area of Scripture and when you are reading through the entire Bible some of the chapters and books, although absolutely inspired by God and therefore needed, are more difficult to read. This balance of New and Old Testament with the Psalms and Proverbs provides a nice mix, especially if you have not read extensive amounts of Scripture previously.

Every day a few verses from one of the listed passages is expounded upon through a devotional by Nancy Guthrie. A suggested prayer starter is given at the bottom of each devotion, often with places to insert your own child’s name. There is a wide breadth of topics covered within these pages which teach us how to better pray for our children according to God’s Word. I found it to be both encouraging and at times convicting, which is another sign of a good devotional. The author does not shy away from confronting issues within the readers heart about their own parenting. In fact, some of the prayers are even directed towards us, the parents! 
This would be a great gift or any Christian parent, especially as we all have goals to do better in the coming year in various areas. This is a wonderful guide to learn how to pray through the Bible for our most precious gifts from God no matter what their ages!
Disclaimer: I received a paperback copy of The One Year Praying Through the Bible for Your Kids from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation.

365 Pocket Morning prayers: A Tyndale Blog Network Review

Sometimes it is hard to know how to pray. Even those who have a long-standing faith with many years of growing can go through seasons of not knowing what to pray. For those who are young in their faith it can be overwhelming to even know where to begin. We want to pray and desire intimate time with our heavenly Father, but it can be difficult to focus at times.
365 Pocket Morning Prayers by David R. Veerman, published by Tyndale House Publishers, is a sweet and gentle way to begin your time with God in the mornings. Each day has a short verse or two and a sample prayer written to coincide with it. The thoughts in the prayer are often devotional in nature and can spur on a longer time with God. 
I like the small, compact size as it is easy to pack for a vacation. Often when I’m on vacation I have a harder time staying on track with my  alone time with God. Having a small book like this can be helpful to me to stay consistent when away from my daily routines. The soft, leather-like cover was inviting to my girls. They thought it was so pretty and liked how it felt in their hands.
I personally would not pick this up as my only time with God during the day as the Scripture is minimal on each page, but I do think this is a great jump-start and a refreshing way to start morning devotions with God. I also think this is a great devotional for those first starting a daily time with God because of its simplicity. This could make a great gift for a college student as well. 
Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All thoughts are my own.

Prayers that Changed History: A BookLook Blogger Review

I have been learning much about prayer over the last year or so. God has been teaching me so much about how to pray and what to expect when I pray. I’ve been sharing some of this with my daughters along the way and I was excited to have a chance to review a book about prayers from history. 
This book covers a wide range of well-known historical figures and will fit well with our history sequence as we study. Some of my favorite chapters were the ones with women because I have three daughters. I love showing them how God used women in history and how He wants to use them to further His Kingdom as well! I anticipate many wonderful conversations as we progress through this unique biographical collection together. 
I love that each chapter highlights the life of the individual, including their spiritual life, as well as how they specifically prayed. The wonderful part is it doesn’t end there! After the historical information is presented we are brought back to Scripture to see God’s perspective. A variety of translation are used throughout which is not a problem for us, but I know some families prefer a single translation. It would be easy enough to use your own Bible to read the passages referenced. 
After all of this, the reader is challenged to apply what they have learned from Scripture and history to their own life. The challenge includes teaching children how to pray. Most kids raised in Christian homes understand thanking and asking for things, but it is our job to train our children to pray God’s way. This is an excellent resource for that training. 
Some may take issue with some of the individuals highlighted because the whole of their lives may not be what we want to set up as heroic, but I see it as a wonderful reminder that God uses us, no matter what our past or future mistakes may be, to further His plans. God is sovereign and must acknowledge this and realize His hand upon history.
Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook.com® <http://BookLook.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

How Cancer Touched our Family: Diego’s Journey (Part 1)

Many of you were praying for our dear friend and neighbor over the summer. His name is Diego and he is in 1st grade. The same week I had a portion of my thyroid removed, Diego had a kidney and 3 pound cancerous tumor removed. Since he lives next door and is a good friend our girls have spent as much time as possible with him. We have had some hard conversations about cancer and chemotherapy over the last few months.

I was concerned about how they would react and how it would affect them. They are sensitive little girls with tender hearts who hate to see anyone sick or hurting.

We explained as much as we could. They asked a lot of questions.

And then they prayed.

My girls pray for one of their closest friends every meal, every night, and sometimes throughout the day. They’ve stopped me mid-lesson and say, “Mommy, today is Diego’s treatment. We need to pray for him!” So we do. We pray fervently for healing, for comfort, and for peace. What they don’t understand is why it is taking so long for him to feel better.

But still they pray.

They do understand that because the treatments leave him feeling badly we don’t see him every day. We also take caution not to spend time with Diego if there is even a threat we might not be well. At the same time they know he needs lots of friends to encourage him and they invite him over as often as they can. He often doesn’t feel like doing a lot, but every once in a while he enjoys playing in the backyard.

More often than not this is what hanging out with Diego looks like. I’ve lifted my usually strict limit on screen time because Diego is more important. He usually doesn’t feel like doing much active and I completely understand. It doesn’t bother me one bit because I love when he can forget for a little while all that is going on with his small body.

The best times are the days when Diego invites the girls outside to play. We say yes as much as we can! On this day they enjoyed a walk around the neighborhood with their friend and they had a great time. It is so good to see him feeling well enough to be active.

Here are some of the details if you are interested…

1. The official diagnosis was a Wilms’ Tumor which had developed into stage 2 kidney cancer.
2. He is nearing the end of the chemo treatments which has taken a toll on him physically.
3. He is now able to go to school more regularly as the treatments are tapering.
4. He is very susceptible to illness, but has only been hospitalized once since the surgery.

Throughout everything Diego’s faith has remained strong. We try to be the tangible hands of Christ, but so often feel we fall short. He is blessed with a couple of sweet ladies who have never met him, but have been sending him thoughtful gifts throughout his treatment. Many have surrounded them to help financially and with meals. From the very start he talked to his mom about knowing God was with him. God’s blessings have been evident, but the road has still been hard for the family.

So I invite you to join my girls as they pray. Pray he will experience complete healing. Pray there would be no long-term side effects from the treatments. Pray he is able to catch up quickly from the school he has had to miss. Pray he and his mom are able to have restful nights. Pray for the entire family to continue to feel God’s presence.

Click here to keep up with Diego’s Fight on Facebook.

Why My Daughters Attend Prayer Meeting

This summer I started bringing my girls to prayer meeting at our church. While this ministry of our church has been in place since its foundation in the mid-1970’s it is not our best attended service. I haven’t attended very often because of my girls’ ages. I was so afraid they would be a distraction to all the other adults. I used to meet with a friend to pray once a week in the morning, but when I started homeschooling this wasn’t as practical. I was whining lamenting that I didn’t participate in prayer meeting to my husband-pastor whose response was a raised eyebrow and a question:

What don’t you just bring them? 

My eloquent response? Ummmm…I have no idea. I listed several reasons including their ages, their destractibility quotient, the later time in the evening, and some others I don’t quite remember. He said it was up to me, but his opinion was it was fine. My husband has always encouraged families to attend all of our services together. We do have an optional children’s church for the young elementary students, but by 3rd grade the kids are worshiping with their families and many choose to keep their children in the service rather than attend children’s church. You see, he loves children and loves families coming together. He does not support the idea of separating generations for services no matter how large the congregation and encourages the mingling of all ages. 
So ever since this summer they have been coming to prayer meeting each week. I was surprised to find out after a few weeks they actually enjoyed going! They stay with the adults for the short Bible study and discussion my husband leads. Then I take them to the library which is in the sanctuary where we have our own prayer time. This way I can teach them how to pray and help them become comfortable praying with others without the pressure of the other adults. I want them to be in the habit of praying corporately. I want them to know why we pray. I want them to move beyond their meal-time and bedtime prayers and think about conversing with God at other times as well.

If you ask a child to pray for something they often may not know where to start. I use praise pails and prayer folders to help them get started. The praise pails are something I came up with on a whim and the girls love them! Several decorated boxes with handles have craft sticks sticking out of them. Each stick has been the tip colored to correspond with a different thing to praise God for which is written on a poster and hung on the wall. They choose a stick and praise God for something which fits into the category. Some of these include family, friends, God’s creation, and our church. I also give the girls the option of praying aloud or silently although I love it when they pray aloud! 

Our prayer folders are the kind you buy from the office store for $0.10 during the beginning of the year school supply sales. I put a variety of colored paper inside and the girls wrote a different topic at the top of each page. Some of these pages include themselves, family, friends, people who don’t know Jesus, our government, school, and missionaries. This has been a great way to help them diversify they’re prayers and teach them God cares about all areas of our life and world. I let the girls decorate their folders on the outside and also write down things to pray for in each category on their own. We add to it now and then, but usually we just go through and pray for names and things already written down. 

Praying with my girls has been a great blessing, but I can’t say I was expecting it to be so in the beginning. Even on nights when I’m very tired and worn out from the day I leave prayer meeting feeling refreshed. The simplicity and honesty my girls pray with makes me feel even closer to God. They don’t worry about how they sound or who might be listening because they haven’t learned to feel that way yet. My biggest hope is as they grow up and become young women on their own they will have a desire to gather with other believers and pray. 
I cannot help but feel we are headed towards a period of trial for believers in our country. I don’t think it will include physical persecution as we see in many countries, but I will not be surprised if standing firm on the teaching of Scripture will include financial persecution and possibly other things. It is becoming more difficult to stand for what God says is right as our society drifts farther and farther away from absolute truth. My oldest two girls have already made the decision to follow Jesus as their Savior and now my husband and I are charged with their discipleship and spiritual growth. I take my job discipling my girls very seriously and realize I must prepare them for a world growing increasingly hostile towards believers.