How taking things away from our children can lead to blessings

There’s one piece of pie left. You pull it out of the refrigerator to find your youngest child standing beside you. She looks at you and then looks at the pie. You know what’s coming next. That pie is no longer yours. You give the last piece to your child, right? (Unless it’s your favorite chocolate pie, in which case you generously offer to split it with her 50/50.) Now reverse that situation. It’s your child who has the last piece of pie. As a mother, you would never think to take that pie away from her. Mothers aren’t takers. We don’t like to see our children go without. We’re givers by nature.

As I prepared a lesson this week on the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17, I was struck with the mother who was blessed because she went against that nature. She took food from her child. The widow is approached by the prophet Elijah. There is a famine in the land, and this poor mother has only enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for her son and herself. In spite of knowing the mother’s desperate circumstances, Elijah asks her to make a bread cake for him first. He promises that God will keep her flour and oil from running out until the famine is over if she will just provide this bread for Elijah.

And she does it. She takes her son’s food and gives it away.

She gives up what is tangible for the promise of something better.

I put myself in her shoes, and I wonder what I would have done. Letting go of something you can see in exchange for something you can’t see is tough, especially when it involves taking something from your children. Letting go requires faith in the one making the promise. It requires trust.

 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

What if the widow hadn’t had enough faith to give up her oil and flour?

One, we likely wouldn’t be talking about her now. Second, she would not have received the blessing of unending nourishment for her family.

After all, you can’t receive God’s blessings into hands that already full.

The widow had to let go of what she had in order to receive the blessings.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

This woman believed that in taking something from her son, she would be providing something better for him. She understood that an unending supply of bread and oil was far better than enjoying one bread cake today.

Do I today believe in the One who promises His endless blessings?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Do I believe enough to give up the security of the tangible for the promise of the intangible?

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Do I believe enough to take something from my children now so that they can fully receive God’s blessings in the future?

Taking from our children is never easy. The pie is delicious, and they don’t want to give it up.

However, like the widow of Zarephath, God promises us something better for our children when we trust Him enough to take away a temporary pleasure.

What blessings are we missing for our families when we refuse to give up the temporary for the promise of the eternal?

Let’s trust God enough to take away the pie. Let’s empty our hands of the flour and oil. And then let us watch and see what God will do for our children.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” Malachi 3:10


That’s a Dad Question

It would be interesting to keep up with exactly how many questions my children ask in a day. The question can be as simple as What’s for dinner? or What time do we need to leave? I can handle those. However, the question is more often along the lines of How exactly does a digital scale work? Why can’t you put metal in the microwave? or Why are magnets north-south instead of east-west? When it comes to the latter type of question my typical response is Hmm…that sounds like a Dad question.

How do you play the guitar? – Also a Dad question.

With children as inquisitive as mine are, it comes in handy to be married to a science teacher. I could try to give them an answer on my own. I might get some of it right. However, when they go to their dad, they are assured of getting an answer that is 100% correct. And he is always willing and ready to teach.

But what do you do when the questions are even tougher? Where do you go when late at night one of your children comes to you struggling with the concepts of eternity and death? What do I do with a question such as What is my purpose? What happens when I die? Why is there war?

And, yes, I have dealt with all of those questions and more in the past week alone.

 A Question for the Father

As thankful as I am to be able to direct my children’s science questions to their earthly father, I am even more thankful to be able to direct my children’s tougher questions to their heavenly Father.

I honestly don’t know how I could possibly raise my children without the Bible to guide me. I can not imagine dealing with their fears and questions without the Bible to turn to.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

It’s one thing to walk through this life stumbling and groping for answers on your own, answers that may or may not be correct. It’s an entirely different thing to take your children on that path with you.

A Question of Truth

The first one of those tough questions came to me when my oldest child was six years old. She asked where her grandfather would be when he died. While I had the correct answer –  He’ll be in heaven with God – I realized with that question that my role as a mother includes more than loving my children and providing for their physical needs. My role requires answering the tough questions that are sure to arise.

In the face of those questions, I need to be able to answer my children with certainty. It is not enough to just give my best shot at the answers and hope they are correct. I need somewhere to go where I am assured of getting answers that are 100% correct. I need a source of truth.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:17

These are times when the correct answer to the question comes only from the heavenly Father.

Be Prepared

The tough questions don’t come up on a daily basis. Most days are too busy for constant deep questions of eternity and purpose. However, the questions will come. They will come late at night or in the face of tragedy. We will at times be shaken from our daily thoughts into questions that are deeper. I need to be prepared to answer those questions.

Thankfully, I am not alone.

I don’t have to come up with an answer that I hope is correct. Instead, I can take my children to the Bible and let the heavenly Father answer those questions for us. He is always willing and ready to teach, and in His words are life and peace and truth. I can not imagine answering any one of those questions without Him.

Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” John 6:68


Our last week of Elementary school

I knew this week was coming. It’s been coming for eight years, and it is still hard for me to wrap my mind around this fact: It is my family’s last week of elementary school.

First day of Kindergarten 2009

My oldest child started elementary school eight years ago, and my youngest graduates from that same school this week. I can still remember that first day of school eight years ago. I can see clear as day my daughter sitting outside to be picked up that afternoon. My heart was so full seeing my baby sitting among all those big kids. It didn’t seem real. My youngest child was just a baby in the backseat then, and now she’s one of those big kids. That also doesn’t seem real. That school has been a huge part of our lives for 8 of the 11 years that we have lived here. It has been a huge part of my children’s growing up and also of my husband and I growing as parents.

It’s hard to realize that this stage of our life is gone.

A Mere Breath

The words from Psalm 39:4-5 echo in my head.

“LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.”

We are but a mere breath.

So many years I sat in afternoon car line just counting down the years. Only six more years left to do this, four more years, two more years … and just like that, the breath is gone.

“The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath.” Psalm 94:11

The days of those long afternoon car lines will now be just a memory. Many memories come with us as this chapter of our life closes – memories of sweet friendships, field trips, nights spent making valentines and costumes, presents made from hand prints, teachers that went the extra mile. 

Realizing that those beginning days are gone, realizing that my oldest child will graduate high school in only five years, realizing that these days with my children will surely end, makes TODAY all the more important.

These milestones remind us that our time with our children is but a mere breath.

“Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4

What Remains

Yes, these elementary years are gone for us now. 

But even though the years are gone, the results of those years remain.

The results are more than the memories and the first day of school pictures. The results are more than the report cards and art projects stored safely in drawers or scrapbooks.

The most important result of those elementary years are the children who stand before me today. 

Those years served to form their character, build their knowledge, and prepare them for the next stage in their lives. The years may be gone, but the result of how we spent those years remains.

An Example of Warning

Do you remember the Israelites in the Old Testament? When you read why God caused them to be taken into captivity, we see it’s because they did not use their years to follow God nor to teach their children to follow Him. Instead, they taught their children to follow after vain and useless things – things of the world around them. They did not prepare their children.

“They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them.” 2 Kings 17:15

The Israelites lost God’s favor because they used their years with their children to follow vanity. In so doing, they themselves became vain…empty…a mere breath.

What remains after the breath is gone? What will be the result of the way we are using our years with our children? Will our results look like those of the Israelites?

We have the example of the Israelites as a warning not to waste these years with our children. When the years are gone, the results of the years will remain. Will the results be emptiness or will the results make us smile as we reminisce about all the years that got us there?

“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17

Moving Forward

This week will be tough. I’m not going to lie – I will cry a lot.

The tears will come as I reminisce about the elementary years, remembering and being thankful for all the good. They will flow as I soak up every last memory.

Then I’m going to move on.

I still have a job to do. My job is to keep my children seeking God. My job is to make sure we don’t waste our years following things that won’t last.

We are but a mere breath.

This milestone in my family’s life is a reminder to make the most of today. The years will certainly pass by. What will remain when the years are gone?

 It all depends on what we do with them.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16