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


Lessons from my boy

Words can not express how much I love this boy. He amazes me and teaches me so much each day. Each of my children opens my eyes to a new way of seeing things. The latest lessons come from Logan after his first swim meet last week.

Logan loves swimming. He is happier in the water than most anywhere else, but this is the first year that he’s been part of an official swim team. It gives him a way to learn swimming techniques and a chance to try something new. He doesn’t even have to compete in the swim meets, but he wanted to try the first one last week.

Earlier in the week he learned the butterfly stroke. He mentioned in the car coming home that day how bad he was at it. We talked about how it would just take practice. He was just learning it, after all.

When we got to the meet on Thursday, the first event he was listed in was the butterfly of all things. Now, here is where the first of the lessons comes in.

Lesson One: Try something even if you’re not perfect at it.

I was not about to make him swim something he was not comfortable with in front of all those people. Doing anything before I am completely prepared and confident makes me seriously uncomfortable. I’ve had many a nightmare based on exactly this concept. However, not Logan. Instead, he said “Well, I’ll give it a shot.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Did he swim the butterfly perfectly? No, but he did it. He didn’t let fear of failure stop him. As a result, Logan walked away from the meet that night proud of himself for trying something new.

He didn’t finish first that night. In fact, he finished last. However, he was not discouraged. He had a new experience to learn from. Here is where the second of the lessons comes in.

Lesson Two: View challenges as a chance to grow.

Even though he finished last, he wants to do it again. With a smile on his face, his exact words were “Well, the good news is I have plenty of room for improvement!

Do you see why I love this boy and have so much to learn from him?

When he is not perfect at something, he sees it as a chance for growth. It’s a challenge. An opportunity.

How else do we grow but by facing a new challenge?

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

As a friend recently said to me: Growth is evidence of life.

I’m so proud of Logan for viewing this particular challenge as a chance to grow. I love watching him grow and live boldly and without fear, which leads to the third of the lessons he taught me last week.

Lesson Three: Be confident in your support.

One reason Logan has no trouble trying something new is that he doesn’t really care what other people think. I mean that in a good way. He knows that his family loves and supports him as long as he is trying his best. That gives him confidence.

Before going down to swim, Logan said “Even if I come in last, it will be okay.” I assured him it would be. The only time my children disappoint me is when they have a bad attitude or they are lazy. My children know that my husband and I are always proud of them when they do their best, regardless of the outcome.

Doesn’t our heavenly Father feel the same way about us?

In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the only servant that God is not pleased with is the one who was too afraid to do anything, the one who hid his talent in the ground.  (Matthew 25:25)

We shouldn’t let fear of failure or fear of what others think keep us from using our talents.

In John 12:42-43 the Bible speaks of those who believed in Jesus but were afraid to act upon their belief for fear of what others would think of them.

“for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” John 12:43

Logan wasn’t worried about what the people in the stands thought of him. He knew that their approval didn’t matter. He would be loved and approved of by his family no matter what.

That’s what God wants of His children.

When we feel confident in God’s love and live only to please Him, it frees us to cast aside fear and thus to grow.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

And how about a piece of pizza?

When Logan was done swimming for the night, he walked back up to where I was sitting. I smiled at him, gave him a hug, and told him I was proud of him. Then I bought him a piece of pizza. You’ve never seen such a happy boy.

My aim this week is to apply these lessons from Logan.

I want to accept a challenge as a chance to grow, confident in God’s approval, even if the outcome is not perfect.

When I live boldly and without fear, my heavenly Father will be there waiting and smiling when I finish my race.

I want to hear Him say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

At that point, it won’t matter what anyone else is saying.

I’ll have the love of my Father and my pizza. What else could I possibly need?

“But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:39


The Resentful Kite

Have you ever felt like you could relate to a kite? It’s a little strange, but that’s exactly where I found myself this weekend. My husband inherited his father’s kites and also his love of flying them. Every time we go to the beach, he takes them with us in the hope of flying them. This weekend we had the perfect conditions with a sunny, windy day. He got three kites up in the air, one for each of our children. Of course when the youngest gets tired of holding the kite it’s Here, Mom, would you hold this? And there I am holding a kite until it draws her interest again.

So, I sat there and watched this kite flying in the wind. It amazed me how it just stayed there, but if you watched closely, there was more going on. You could see the kite dip down and go back up, sometimes struggling to stay up, sometimes fighting against the wind. Sometimes it looked like it just wanted to fly away, and I looked down at the spool of string in my hand. I was holding it down. The kite was tethered to me and therefore to the earth. I felt the kite looking down resentfully at me.

The Life of a Kite

I know it’s a little crazy to identify with a kite, but I do.

Sometimes I feel like I’m soaring spiritually, with God (the wind) holding me up. The wind is the necessary component of successful kite-flying, and likewise God’s support is the necessary component of flying spiritually. Without that wind, there’s no chance of flight. But sometimes I fight the wind, sometimes I dip back down to the earth to get away from it just a little, and sometimes I dip down too much and have to ask for help to get back up.

Kites are designed to fly, and while the string that tethers it to the earth is necessary, sometimes the kite fights against that, too. The kite wants to fly. And the higher it gets, the more it wants to get away from the earth.

I feel that way all the time.

Tethered to Heaven

The more time I spend in God’s word and His presence, the less I want to be here on this earth. Paul felt the same way and wrote this in 2 Corinthians:

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord– for we walk by faith, not by sight– we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.  2 Corinthians 5:6-8

I love the idea of being tethered to heaven instead of earth. (I came across that phrase in this wonderful article.)

Often I look resentfully at the string that tethers me to this earth, and think Why won’t you just let me fly? So, I find myself slowly cutting away at the string that ties me here. I don’t want the things that hold me down.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

The things of this world just don’t interest me anymore. Some of it is necessary. That string is necessary for now, but I’m slowly letting it out. I’m slowly getting rid of things that take my attention downward instead of heavenly – those things include possessions, activities, and commitments. I don’t want to be tethered to this earth.

Like the kite, I just want to fly.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. Philippians 1:21-26