When Caring For Sick Kids Heals More Than Illness


Week 3, soon to be week 4, of kids home from school. School holiday, followed by several snow days, followed by sickness, and spring break is just days away. As one can imagine, life has been anything but normal here. I am non-stop canceling appointments, re-planning, cleaning (laundry and dishes I’ve never seen), nursing kids to health, running up and down stairs. Well, you get the picture. No different than your own life.

I’m reading Kisses from Katie right now. If you missed yesterday’s post, here it is. It’s changing how I view my life – in more ways than I can begin to write about.

Prior to reading this book, I would have found myself day 2 into nursing sick kids, grumbling my way through the laundry, huffing and puffing by my husband in an attempt to receive sympathy or a pat on the back. (It’s embarrassing, but I can be so incredibly childish and selfish) You would likely hear me list all the ways I’d served my family all the long days long. Giving and doing but deep down wanting something back in return. A thank you. Appreciation, Recognition. Please silently nod with me that you do this too. It would make me feel so much better.

This time was different. The Lord has started something in my heart, which I’m still unsure about as He is only revealing it to me bite by bite. It’s all I can really handle at one time anyway.

Just as the snow days came to an end and school resumed, Zachary came down with something like the flu. Maybe it is, I’m not sure. Another day at home. Then another. Then the third day, Andrew came down with the sickness. Another day at home. Monday rolled around, and 2 are home again, and I wonder if they will even make it back before Spring Break begins on Friday.

On Day 2 of taking care of Zachary, I stood at the kitchen sink and felt the Lord’s presence. He spoke and stopped me right in the middle of vitamin prep and dish duty. A vivid picture of Katie Davis caring for these children in Uganda played in my head. I saw her bathing, feeding, nursing, teaching. Loving. I saw her falling into bed exhausted, yet elated and filled with a peace and joy I’ve never experienced in that way. A joy that comes from fully expending every ounce you have to love another because you have so much love for Jesus that has to go somewhere, so it pours on the ones you touch.

I saw these scenes in my head that I’ve been reading in her book. They were alive. Those scenes faded and the Lord turned the channel. This time it was a running list of the blessings I’d failed to recognize. The list of what I had to be thankful for. The Lord brought to mind the words of a friend who told me to remind Zachary how the Lord uses ALL things for good. Even our sicknesses. We’ll come back to this.

The list began to unfold.

1. I’m healthy enough to physically care for the needs of my family

2. We have stores we can get to within minutes and buy all the supplies we need to heal our bodies

3. We have fresh, safe food to nourish our sick bodies to health

4. I have friends the Lord has blessed with wisdom and knowledge to guide me in treating sickness naturally

5.  We have running water

6. We have hot water

7. We have a car to get us where we need to go

8.  We have doctors

9. We have money to buy our supplies

10. We have knowledge and skills to care for each other

11. At the push of a button, we have all the information we need to research anything

The list went on and on and on. Setting the dishes down, I gazed into the backyard, half slush, half snow.

My mind went back to Katie Davis. How does one live a life so selflessly, I wondered?

Here I sit in my comfortable home, and my mind threatens to whisper to me all the ways I should feel discontent. It tempts me to focus on the negatives, the sick kids, the constant barrage of the unplanned, the lack of time for me.

That is when it hit me. I’m the most selfish person I know. At the root of my negativity is my own unfulfilled desires. I just want to rest. I just want some quiet. I just want to sit and eat a meal. I just want to read a book. I just want. I just want. I just want.

So how does one combat selfishness? What is selfishness? Is it not a love for one’s own self? The best way to rid ourselves of anything is to replace it with the opposite. We can’t simply remove something and leave that empty space. We have to find the opposite to fill in the crevices.

To kill selfishness, we have to love another more than our own self. Jesus. When will the message of the cross stop shocking me? When will the gospel stop amazing me with its simplistic, yet unfathomable message? I pray never.

Jesus loved me more than he loved himself. To the point he died for me. He gave every ounce he had to save me out of love. He had so much love for me, there wasn’t room to love himself more than the ones he served. He loved me. And you. And the world.

I went back to the message from Kisses from Katie that the Lord is etching into my soul. Love. Each person the Lord brought to Katie, she looked on with love. She could only do that because she was in love with Jesus.

Eventually, my love for my family will prove to be inadequate. I will lack joy in serving them if I do it from my own personal storehouse of love. If I do it from my own strength and will. It dies. It gives out completely. I can maintain for a bit, but then it fades to misery disguised as servanthood. I will eventually attempt to paint myself a martyr for my family. Serving them because I love them so, but deep down true joy will be lacking. Then the guilt. And the list goes on.

The root is selfishness. That is where it all stems from. So I must kill selfishness. I must love Jesus more than I love me. Only when I’m filled with love overflowing, can anything pour from me into another that is sustaining.

He is ready to give us new eyes, a new vision. One that sees Him in all things.

Turning from the dishes, I slowly walked up the stairs, fully aware of this revelation God was planting in my heart. I have been praying to love Him more than anything else. And He is beginning to show me piece by piece how it will change everything.

I reached the edge of Zachary’s bed and gazed at him with a fresh perspective God granted to me. His weak eyes fluttered open, a tiny smile emerged through dry, cracked lips, and he whispered, “Thank you for taking care of me. I love you.”

The Lord fulfills every desire we have. If only we stop trying to fill them ourselves and give Him room to work.

Lord, thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you that even when we are blind, you continue to heal our sight. Give us fresh eyes to see you today. Give us hearts that love you so much there is no room to love ourselves too much. Let us love others out of love for you and not from our own storehouses, which eventually run dry. Fill us to overflowing. Amen

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Fighting Stress – The Great Joy Stealer



“Dad, do you want to throw the baseball?”

As Steve answered yes, I thought back to all the times he told me he couldn’t wait for the days he could throw a ball in the yard with his boys. One of the many dreams of a dad.

Something comes alive in Andrew when he slips his hand into a baseball glove. His entire demeanor changes, his attitude shifts, his words become animated, and his eyes light up.

Not surprisingly the door from the garage to the kitchen had been left open, which allowed me to hear the steady thud of the ball hitting leather. Voices drifted in and out, mingling with the rhythm of chopping. Setting the knife down, I stepped outside and watched from a distance.

His 5-year-old little body had this electricity running through it. After a few minutes of throwing, he paused and put his hand on his chest to feel the rhythm of his heart. “Dad! Dad! I feel something in my heart! I think….I think. It’s….JOY!”

I know that feeling. That feeling of using a gift God has given me and finding the unexpected gift of joy. I also know the feeling of working out of my gifts and losing my perspective, thus losing my joy. Viewing my gifts not as gifts, losing my gratitude.

When I view my gifts as to-do’s they become too much to do. The joy fades, the stress invades.

One thing I remain thankful for. That God is ever patient with me. That He never gives up on me. That He promises to continue the good work He began in me until completion.

I’m a slow learner. God takes me on long journeys to teach me. He knows I need the extra time to process.

It has been one year since Seeking Christmas released. To that point I blogged when I felt like it and received extreme joy in the process. In the last year I began blogging more, attending conferences, speaking, writing book proposals, and meeting with publishers and agents. And just like that, I began feeling stress rather than joy. I’ve had practice with the enemy and his tactics. How he loves to get our focus off God and onto our to-do’s.

I’m fighting back by stepping back. No more conferences, no more meetings, no more proposals. For now. I need to rest in Him. I need to be restored by Him. This isn’t just about my writing life. It affects my everything life. It affects the kind of wife I am, the kind of mom I am, the kind of friend I am.

It doesn’t take much to lose our perspective. My gifts are to be used to glorify Him. When they stop glorifying Him in all ways, it’s time for a reset.

Here is something I’ve learned about working out of the gifts He’s placed in us. They fill this little joy tank in us that then flows out of us into the ones we are serving and doing life with. Our gifts glorify Him, our joy glorifies Him.

I hit the reset button here every time.

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Gifts aren’t just the obvious gifts like painting and singing and writing, but the unique expressions of Him He placed in you. Gifts are gifts, whether big or small. The tender way you parent. The way you patiently listen to your child tell a long-winded story. The way you remember to keep clean your husband’s favorite pair of pants. The way you never forget to send a handwritten card to your best friend on her birthday. The way you hug the child that enters your classroom door. The way you meet a neighbor and make her feel as though she’s always known you. The way you smile at the clerk every time you see her. Unique expressions of you, handcrafted into you by your Creator. Gifts you give of you to another. For Him.

Unique expressions of Him expressed through you. Those are gifts. Don’t let stress steal your gifts. Stress is the great joy stealer. Stress moves our focus from upward to inward making us less effective outward. Fight back by stepping back. Stepping out of the scene. Hitting the reset button. Allowing Him to restore the joy that only comes from Him.

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When My Expectations Challenge True Compassion


His response caught me off guard.  My mind was racing to produce a response that would disguise my true feelings.

I called to schedule a time to deliver a meal to the family of a hospice patient that recently passed away.  The meal would be for Christmas Day.

“We plan to drop your meal off around 4:00.  Will that be ok?”

“4:00?  I guess if that’s the best you can do.”  His tone of voice wasn’t what I was expecting.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  What were you expecting?”

“I was expecting 10:00 am.”

I stammered.  10:00 on Christmas morning.  Right in the middle of Christmas morning surprises with my children.  It would be impossible.  Realizing this man and I were in completely different phases of life, I tried to be sensitive to that.  I was unsure of his relationship to the patient who had passed.  However, there was something else that was bothering me.  Some emotion, a feeling that I hadn’t expected.

“Sir, I’m preparing a fully cooked meal and it will be really hard for me to have that ready by 10:00 on Christmas morning.  I can bring it by 10:00 unprepared if you prefer.  Or I can try for about 2:00?”

“2:00 will be fine.”

Honestly, I was bothered by the response.  I had expected someone to show appreciation for receiving a cooked meal on Christmas Day from a stranger.  That wasn’t the response I received.

The response I received bothered me less than the response of my own heart.

Our expectations can set us up for feelings of disappointment and frustration.  Had I only had appropriate expectations from the beginning I wouldn’t have experienced the feelings of disappointment.  But it went way beyond my expectations.  You see my expectations were completely off-course.  I was the one in the wrong.  Not this stranger I was providing a meal to.

The Lord challenged my motives.  He refocused my heart.

As I pondered the conversation, and tossed around my thoughts on it all, the Lord whispered to my heart.

Is this for Me or for you?  Do this for Me.  When you do this for Me, there should be no expectations. 

The Lord convicted my heart.  I wanted to provide a meal.  I wanted to bless someone.  But deep down, I wanted to experience the joy in the blessing.  My motives had been called to the table, and the Lord was gracious to allow me to see it.

To show true compassion, I should serve out of love for Christ.  Period.  Regardless of anything I receive.  I should expect to receive nothing.

Christ died for the sinner.  He gave himself as a sacrifice.  For the ones who appreciated the sacrifice and for the ones who didn’t appreciate the sacrifice.  He gave anyway.  Out of a deep, profound love he gave.

Christ showed compassion to us when he hung on that cross.  In my daily life, I rarely show Him the appreciation He deserves.  Why should I expect any different in this life from others?

Our acts of mercy don’t earn favor in God’s eyes.  They come out of a place of deep love for the One who gave it all for us.  Why do I expect something from a stranger that I myself don’t give to my God who died for me?

I opened my Bible, which naturally opens to the Psalms as it is the most worn part of my Bible.  But on this day, it fell open to Zechariah 7.

“….The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech, together with their men, to entreat the Lord by asking the priests of the house of the Lord Almighty and the prophets, “Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?”  Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?  And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves?  Are these not the words the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?”  And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty says:  Administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor.  In your hearts do not think evil of each other.”

I read this and paused.  What an unbelievable God we serve.  His gentle rebuke had taken the thoughts I pondered in my heart and turned them completely.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Lord, thank you that you love me enough to continually correct me, rebuke me, and pull me back to you.  Thank you for your word that is alive and active and speaks to my daily life.  Thank you for giving me the means and ability to serve, and I pray it comes out of true compassion.  I pray I would serve you and not me.  Forgive me for not showing true appreciation for your sacrifice.  Amen.