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


Personality Types

My oldest daughter is currently obsessed with the Myers-Briggs personality test. If you’re not familiar with this test, you can take an online version of the test here. There are four different areas in which you are categorized: Introvert/Extrovert, Intuitive/Sensing, Feeling/Thinking, and Judging/Perceiving, giving a total of 16 possible personality types. Last week my daughter requested that I take the test, and soon all five of us in the family had taken it. Here were our results:

  • Dad – ENTP
  • Mom – ISFJ
  • Laura Anne – INTP
  • Logan – INFP
  • Autumn – ESFJ

There really were no surprises. Laura Anne is most like her father. Autumn is most like me, and Logan is about half and half. I think that Laura Anne likes this test because it somehow quantifies what she often feels – that she and her sister are exact opposites (as are my husband and myself!).

So how does this group of people with such different personalities manage to still be a happy family?

The answer is that what we have in common is far greater than our personality differences.

We have a common love for each other, a common goal of desiring a happy family, and a common focus on walking through this life in a way that pleases the Lord.

We are of one mind.

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”  Philippians 2:1-2

 We build each other up.

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Our words should ONLY be used to build each other up.

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

We practice kindness and forgiveness.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:32

We are not allowed to say bad things about each other nor intentionally cause strife.

“To malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men”. Titus 3:2

We treat each other the way we desire to be treated.

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31

Now do we practice all these concepts perfectly? Of course not. If you have siblings, children, a spouse, you know that is impossible. There are times I complain outwardly about my husband. There are times when one kid swipes at another in frustration. It’s summer. We’re together a lot, and there will be plenty of times that our personalities clash. However, we don’t let our differences serve as an excuse to ignore the principles that God has given us. He tells us how to treat each other – how He wants us to treat each other. To be pleasing to Him, we can not intentionally ignore what He says.

From personal experience, life is much more peaceful when we apply these principles. In the home, in the church, in life – God’s wisdom always wins.

He created each of us just as He desired us to be. Our differences are not an excuse to not get along. They are not an excuse to tear someone else down with our words. Our differences are necessary to glorify our heavenly Father as one complete body.

INTP? ESFJ? It doesn’t matter. You still have to be nice to your sister.

“But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be?” 1 Corinthians 12:18-19