Archive for the ‘children’ Category

I am definitely not a fan of hospitals. The smell makes me nauseous.  In fact, I have been known to pass out from visiting someone in the hospital (I know I’m a wimp when it comes to that). I also never really know what to say. I feel awkward at times.  However, I am becoming more familiar with hospitals. I have a few memories of them that are great and a few that are not so great. I can recall visiting a grandparent in the hospital and seeing them suffer. Although I was young, I could understand they were in pain and wanting relief. I recall sitting in the hospital visiting my sister who missed a special Christmas party because she was sick and in the hospital. I felt so bad for her. And I recall watching the nurses put an iv into my child’s arm and seeing my child suffer. Those are not great moments. They make you question and hurt and cry.

However, we have those happy moments in hospitals too. I recall sitting in a hospital in Memphis, TN and holding my wife’s hand. The doctor and nurses introduced us to our newborn son. Our first child. We giggled with glee. He was perfect. And just to make sure we knew our life would be much different, he peed on me. I laughed and hugged him and kissed him. We rejoiced.

A few years later I sat beside my wife’s hospital bed again. This time we welcomed Joshua to our family. I was able to cut the cord and to follow the tradition, he also peed on me.

Those moments of holding those children were so special. they were happy moments. The hospital stay reminded me that I am blessed with wonderful children.  When they discharge papers were written, we were able to take our son home for the first time and it was an exciting moment –  a new beginning.

This week, I have also been to the hospital. this time it was for a different reason. My dad was in great pain and in bad shape. My mom, brothers, and sister sat beside him and leaned on each other for support. On Saturday, I went to the hospital and it was my first time to get to see him there. He was admitted Friday night, but I had to work and couldn’t make it until Saturday. When I walked into his room, my heart was aching. He looked so week. My dad has always been the absolute strongest man I have ever known. Now he  sat in a bed looking so feeble. It really hurt as I walked to give him a hug and he was so weak he couldn’t lift his arms high enough to give me a good hug. While I sat there looking at my dad struggling and having a hard time doing the most simple of tasks, my mind began to wander. I recalled all the lessons I have learned from my dad. He works hard everyday. He loves his family with an unconditional love. He is strong, yet he realizes everything he has comes from God. He is not a perfect man, but he reminds that we have a perfect Father who hears our prayers. While I never believed he would not make it through his surgery or the infection he had (I was confident that he would be okay), I couldn’t help but be reminded that my dad will not always be here. The reality of life is that people pass. I began to think about friends and family who have left this earth to be with God. They made an impact in the lives of many people. I was reminded that I must learn to enjoy each moment to the fullest. My is too short to spend each waking moment being stressed. I need to take full advantage of each day given me by growing closer to God and loving those around me. Gos has given us a gift. If you are reading this and you are a believer in Christ, then you have been given a gift. You had someone who cared enough about you to tell you about a Savior. Regardless of how you may be feeling right, you have an opportunity to grow in your knowledge of Christ. You have an opportunity to tell someone you love them before it is too late. you have the opportunity to live in the moment. How hard it is to live in the moment. Our minds like to drift to the past or to the future. We make plans and life passes us by. We talk about the past so much, we miss today. I am thankful for the reminder to live for today. Tomorrow will have its own problems, today I choose to live for today. I will take up my cross today and follow my Lord. I want to learn to live each day with no regrets. I have many regrets in my past. I must choose if I will learn from them and make a better decision today or if I will just focus so much on those regrets that today becomes another wasted day. Will I enjoy this moment with my kids, or will I focus so much on how I raised my voice at them yesterday that I miss this moment that can be so special? Will I spend my time focusing on how I was angry with my spouse last week, or will I choose to enjoy this moment, this day with her? Life is a series of moments. These moments pass quickly. If we are not careful, we will find our self looking at life wishing we had enjoyed those moments more. God is faithful in each moment. He is faithful as we praise Him and thank Him for letting us hold our newborn child ; He is faithful when we question why we suffer. We have a choice of how we will respond to each moment in life. Let’s choose to live for the moment. Choose to follow Christ today; love your spouse today; enjoy time with your children today. We may not get that moment tomorrow. We will not get back yesterday’s time – all we have is today, this moment. How will we use this moment? Lord, teach me to take each moment as a gift from you.

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I always love how our children can teach us about God. Over the years, this blog has been filled with spiritual lessons I learned through being a father and watching my children. Joshua is growing so big. He is walking, running, getting into all kinds of mischief. He enjoys life and is very playful.

One of his interesting characteristic is that he is learning to become a little more independent, yet he wants to be able to see us. He want to know we are nearby. Joshua will go in the other room and play, but every so often he comes into the room we are in to make sure we are still there. He wants to be near his parents. If I have to leave and he sees me grab my jacket and walk toward the door, he begins to cry and hold out his arms for me to take him with me. He is even worse with his mommy. He wants to know we are there to care for him, to love on him, to be near him. He needs the reassurance that we will protect him and take care of him.

I suppose most kids are similar. Most small children I know hate when mom or dad leaves them with a baby sitter or nursery worker.  I wonder if there is a spiritual lesson for us. Kids love to be with their parents. They want to have their mom and dad nearby. I wonder if that is part of what Jesus meant when he talked about our need to become like children. Do I have those feelings for God? Do I so want to be near Him that I can’t stand it when I do not see Him? I want eyes that long to see God. I want to see Him at work. I want to see that He is nearby; that He loves me; that He will protect me and take care of me. I need to see Him. When He is not near, I am not the same. He is the only one I can fully trust. Others let me down, but He loves me unconditionally.

A child growing up in a healthy environment usually hates when mom and dad leave, yet something changes as they (we) become older. It seems we become comfortable. We learn that even though mom or dad had to go to work, we will see them at the end of the day. We learn that even though they leave us with a baby sitter, they will be back in a couple of hours. Soon we become used to the fact that we are loved and taken care of – then our own attitude seems to shift. We don’t mind when mom or dad leave as much. We may miss them, but we are fine watching tv or playing outside with the sitter until they return. We become comfortable with the idea that sometimes they have to leave. I wonder if this carries over into our spiritual lives. When we first become Christians, we are babies in the faith. We want to spend every minute with our Father. We can’t stand it when we are apart. Then after a while we miss a prayer time, we skip a day’s reading and over time, we become comfortable. We are comfortable with God’s love so much that we have forgotten how much that love cost. Soon we have spent so much time apart that we don’t really even miss being with our Father. We are content to watch TV, or work , or spend time with our hobbies until next Sunday when it is time to go to spend time with our Father again. I wonder what God thinks of all this? What happens to us? How do we go from being so in love with our Father that we cannot stand to be apart to being content with only spending time with Him once a week in a large crowd where we don’t have to be really intimate in our relationship with Him? God forgive us! Let us see. May we become like the child that longs to spend each minute with you.

All month long, we have been studying the story of Esther in JAM time at church. The kids have done a great job being able to relay the story of Esther into their own words. I have been excited about seeing the kids share the story and retell it. They talk about King Xerxes and how he was looking for a queen. Esther entered the pageant and the king liked Esther so much, he chose her to be his king. What I find interesting is that Esther never really desired to be queen. She didn’t want to be in the running. Maybe she was too shy or maybe she just really wasn’t that into the king and all the power and prestige that comes with being queen. For whatever reason she never really considered it. I love that her cousin, Mordecai, convinced her to enter the running to become queen. He believed that God had a plan for her life. He believed that God placed at the right place at the right time to bring about a change that would bring glory and honor to God.

Well, God did use Esther. Mordecai learned of Haman’s plan to kill the Jews. He convinced Esther to take a risk and go before the king and make him aware of Haman’s evil plan. Esther did the right thing. She took the risk. God used her to save His people.

My favorite part of Esther’s story comes when her cousin, Mordecai, tells her in Esther 4:14, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” I wonder what God has placed us here for at such a time as this? I wondered as I taught the kids how God would use them for such a time as this. We have such a short window of time in this world. What will we do with it? How will God use us? Will we take advantage of this time – or will we miss the opportunity?

Joshua’s leg was red and swollen. He found it difficult to walk and we could tell it was infected. He went to the doctor last Monday. He was prescribed a couple of antibiotics. We came back to the doctor Wednesday, he was given a shot of antibiotics. We checked him into ER on Wednesday night and he was sent home. We took him back to the doctor on Thursday and they immediately admitted him into the hospital. It was scary to Kellie and I.

We sat there at the hospital holding our precious child wanting so badly to protect him. He was given an iv with a steady flow of antibiotics. It broke our hearts to see our 1-year-old child laying there with an iv. We were not sure how bad the situation was until the doctor and nurse began to explain that when we brought him in, it was close to being fatal. That thought still haunts us.

Joshua is a strong kid and he managed a lot of smiles during his hospital stay, but what sticks out most are his screams. He hated to have anyone touch his leg, yet the doctor and nurses had to touch and examine it. They had to see that it was progressively getting better. When he was admitted, his white blood cell count was at 31,000. The normal is 5,000-10,000. He was in bad shape. The lab workers had to prick his finger to get his blood for testing. He screamed. We had to hold him down. There was a time when his iv came loose. He had to have it moved to the other arm. Three nurses and Kellie held him down. I entered the exam room as they were trying to insert the iv. He somehow managed to get a leg loose and kick one of the nurses. I came in to help. It was so hard to look at him. With tears in his eyes, he looked at Kellie and me. Though he was unable to speak verbally, his eyes and tears told us what he was thinking. “Why are you letting them hurt me? Why are you helping them hurt me? Can you pick me up and hold me? Can you tell these people who are hurting me to go away?” It broke our hearts. How do you communicate to a one year old child that we are not hurting him, but helping him? The nurses and Kellie and I knew something he didn’t know. We knew that without this pain, there would be no healing. The pain was a part of the healing process.

I learned something that day. From a father’s perspective, I did want to just pick him up, hold and comfort him, and tell the ladies with the needles to go away and leave my son alone. But had I done that…I don’t want to speculate. I realized that this pain was part of the healing process. I had an image of Jesus as he was being beaten and nailed to the cross. I thought of his prayer in the garden where he asked God if there was any other way. I thought of the pain His heavenly Father must have felt as he saw his son having nails driven through his hands and feet. Jesus words on the cross were “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” It is as though he is questioning, “Why must this happen?” And I pictured God, the heavenly Father looking down at His Son and answering, “Without pain the people have no true healing.” Without the suffering Savior, I have no healing. Without his pain, I am lost. Without his pain, I am hopeless.

I find myself sometimes looking toward the heavens and begging God, ” Why are you letting this happen? Can you make this pain stop? Can you take the hurt away? Will you make these people who are hurting me go away and leave me alone.” His quiet answer is “Without pain, my son, there is no real healing.” My pain helps me realize my need for God. My pain reminds me that although I may not realize it, my condition is severe – it is fatal. If I do not have the pain, I may not seek the doctor of my soul; the healer of my soul. Without the pain, I have no real healing. What about you? Do you have times of pain? Have they caused you to look toward the heavenly Father who is the healer of your soul? Look to Him – he has the cure for your heart’s condition. He is the healer.

There are people who have been a part of my life that have left a legacy for me. Their names have never been in bright lights. People are not surrounding them with cameras flashing asking for their autograph, yet they have left a legacy. They have made an impact in my life which I am forever grateful. It was often the small things they did that made the greatest impact. The 3rd grade teacher who gave me a Bible when I did not have one of my own. I do not remember her name or any of the classes she taught. I did not understand the words in the King James Bible she gave me, but I remember that she cared about me enough to take me to the church book store and buy me a Bible.

I recall the man who took me to the basketball games at Oklahoma Christian when I was in middle school. I don’t remember what class he taught at church, but I do remember the way he cared about me and it left a legacy for me to love others.

My parents have always cared for me and wanted the best for me. They have left a legacy for me. I do not remember all the words they have spoken, but I do know their love for me.

I want to ask you the question—what legacy are you leaving? How will you be remembered? I hope to be remembered as one who loves people. I want to live my life in such a way that all those who know me understand that I loved them. I like when people remember a sermon I preached. I love when kids remember an illustration I gave to explain a Bible point; but more than anything I want people to know I loved them and that God loves them. I want to leave a legacy. However, sometimes life gets in the way. I get so busy going from one task to the other and one activity to the other, that I fail to love. I fail to leave a legacy.

How about you? Do you find yourself so busy that you do not have time to love people? Do you find you do not have time to serve others? Maybe you are going through life staying busy and you even have your name in the paper and you make the headlines, but you are not leaving a lasting legacy—is it really worth it? We have a lot of kids at our church who need someone to leave a legacy for them. They need to know they are loved and cared for. Yet, in our busy way of life, we cannot find the time to love them. We cannot find the time share our hearts, to teach a class, to leave a legacy. What legacy are choosing to leave?

Last month we had a fall festival at church. Kids came and played games and were rewarded with candy. We tried to be as intentional as possible about setting it up in a way that we were able to interact with the kids and their parents. I think we succeeded in some small way with interacting with the families. I got to spend some good time playing and talking with the kids. I worked three games and it was so much fun. I loved meeting the families. It seemed the most popular game of the evening was the soccer ball kick. Basically we had a goal and the kids kicked the soccer ball into the goal. What I liked about it was the way the kids took their time to aim their kick. This gave us a great opportunity to talk. There were lots of names and faces and I know I will not remember them all, but I will definitely remember one family. There were 4 kids of varying ages and a mom. They were friendly as I said hello and introduced myself. One of the girls came dressed up in a home made costume. I could tell she felt uncomfortable with some of the other kids wearing their store bought costumes and the look in her eyes told me she wanted to fit in and have a nice costume like the other kids. I could tell from her hair style and the sparkly jacket she was dressed as Hannah Montana. I watched this family as they went to various games. Understand that most of the people working were of retirement age and had no idea who Hannah Montana was. However, they could recognize Spiderman, Batman, and Batgirl This made the girl feel even more inferior. When she came to my game, I decided to treat her like a star. I walked over to hand her the ball for the game and said. “Wow! Hannah Montana is right here beside me.” The girl smiled because I recognized her costume. I began to ask her what her favorite song was, what she liked about performing, has she ever done a talent show at school, would she be willing to sing for us. Her mom got teary eyed as I asked “Hannah Montana” for her autograph. As the girl walked away with a big smile, her mother stayed behind and said “thank you.” The family was so moved by the experience, they stayed after everyone else had left to help us clean. We loaded their arms with left over candy and food. I walked with the family to their car and thanked them for coming. I especially thanked “Hannah Montana” for coming to visit us. Their eyes and smiles were beaming with joy and happiness as they drove off. I said a silent prayer for the family and went to hug my own kids and tell them how much I loved them.

What I did was nothing significant. I did not solve world hunger. I did not explain the deepest mysteries of life. I made a family smile. I made a little girl feel good about herself. I made a mom cry tears of joy. It was so small, yet it made a difference to that child and to that family. I often find myself around people who want to make a difference but do not know how. They feel in order to make a difference, they have to do something really big and life changing that converts hundreds of people. I understand where they are coming from. I used to have those same thoughts. I thought if I made a difference in the world – it would have to be huge and gain national attention. But the fact of the matter is I made a difference to that little girl and her family. She went from feeling awkward and inferior at the beginning of the evening to confident and filled with laughter by the end of the evening. Her mom went from feeling sad for not being able to buy her daughter a costume to feeling so happy that her daughter’s costume brought her so much attention. Making a difference in someone’s life is not always some big act of kindness like giving them a car or house; sometimes it’s making them smile and feel good about their life. I thank God that I met “Hannah Montana.” She reminded me that life is about building others up when the world tries to tear them down.