Joy, Despair & Gratitude

0211131518I have often said that the greatest potential for joy is very often the greatest potential for despair.  That’s what our children are, are they not?  Every child comes with the greatest potential for joy and the greatest potential for despair.

There really is nothing like holding a newborn baby in your arms.  There is nothing like wrestling around with your little ones on the living room floor.  There is nothing like watching your sons and daughters as they begin to discover God’s design for manhood and womanhood. Joy.

There is nothing as troubling as hearing the doctor say, “We need to admit your baby to the hospital for observation.” There is nothing as frightening as hearing the doctor say, “I’ve called for an ambulance because your baby’s oxygen levels are dangerously low.”  There is nothing as fearful as watching your infant, unconscious, intubated, and unable to respond to the sound of your voice.  Despair.

2013-02-07_08-34-59_591In February of this year we heard and saw all of this the day before our little Caleb Michael turned two-months old.  He was diagnosed with RSV (Really Stupid Virus) and another “bug” (virus) that caused his blood oxygen levels to drop dangerously low.  He could not breathe… and neither could we.  Honestly, I have never felt so helpless in all of my life.

The question is: Where do you go when your tiny two-month old baby is hit with a life threatening double virus?  How do you respond when his little body is struggling for oxygen and thus, so are you?

Before answering those two questions I must pause here in order to say “Thank you.”  To the Doctors and Nurses and Hospital Staff (so professional and passionate) – THANK YOU!  To our Leon Bible Church family (What a joy and blessing you are to us. It is an absolute delight to be a part of what God is doing here.) – THANK YOU!  If you were one of the many people praying for Caleb and for us, THANK YOU!

So, where do you go when your child is hurting in ways that you cannot prevent or stop?  How about to the Author of life Himself!  Here are a few great places to start:

Psalm 94:17-19 “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

Psalm 62:5-7 “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”

Psalm 139:13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

2013-02-14_10-59-34_618Today we continue to praise God for His kindness to our son and His blessings upon our family!  Little Caleb is doing really well, gaining strength, growing stronger, and beginning to reveal his own delightful personality.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver…

At 9:36PM, Wednesday, December 5th: Caleb Michael was born!!

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Jenny & I are praising the Lord for His great kindness in bestowing such a wonderful blessing upon our family!

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“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127

“Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!  You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.  The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!  May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!” Psalm 128

‘Tis the Season

tis8217theseasonIt was a wonderfully snowy Sunday Morning in early December a few years ago when the Sunday school teacher asked her students, “Does anyone know what Season this is?”  Several children eagerly raised their hands to answer the question.  Our oldest daughter Hannah must have seemed extra enthusiastic as she was called upon to give her answer.  Smiling from ear to ear she proclaimed, “It’s deer season!”

It’s true.  Like so many Southern Iowa natives our house over the years becomes a hunting lodge between the September’s Youth Season and the January High-Power Season.  I must say that I am so blessed to have a wife who does not mind living in a meat locker / butcher shop for a while every year.  Fortunately, in more recent hunts, our friends have allowed us to use their “shop” and things haven’t been so messy around our house.

Some of the men I know would argue that the hunting season is the “most wonderful time of the year.”  While I would agree that it is indeed wonderful I would argue that every event or evening spent with your family is the “most wonderful.”  I have never heard any parents say, “Oh how I wish I would have spent more time at work while the kids were growing up.”  Or, “I really wish we would have had fewer meals together as a family.”  No one in their right mind would ever say, “While my children were young, we played way to many games together.” Or, “My kids always got in the way of my hunting.”

There are several things that I enjoy about the hunting season.  I love being out in the woods with my children.   I love teaching them, walking with them, helping them understand safety, the elements, and just being amazed by God’s creation all around us, together.  I want them to understand how to properly handle firearms, clean whatever game they get, provide for the family, and just what it means to “have dominion” over the earth, as Genesis 1:26, 28 instruct.

This is a wonderful time of the year – for many reasons.  The holidays are a terrific time because they tend to be focused times for the family.  I want to encourage you not to wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day!  Make plans to spend a few evenings at home, together, as a family. If you are a hunter, include your family, teach your children, and take advantage of the limited opportunities you have to influence them for God’s glory and their own good!

Clegguart Mitchell

“They’re Birds!”

The month of August is a great time to head out into the timber and check your Deer stand, shooting lanes, and game trails. On one particularly warm day my oldest son Nathan, youngest son Josiah, and myself decided we needed to head to grandpa’s farm in order to do just that! On the way there Josiah asked four or five times “Daddy, can we stop by grandpa’s apple tree?” I guess you can’t check your stand without a few apples to munch along the way.

As we made our way across the field I was in teaching mode. I wanted the boys to notice everything; the direction of the wind, the sounds we could hear, any trails, and any wildlife we could spot on the way in. As we made our way down the hill and across a little hay-field Nathan said, “Dad. Look at all those geese!” I looked up at the sky just in time to see what Nathan was now pointing at. I said, “Wow, there sure are a lot of ‘em up there. But I don’t think they’re geese.” Nathan asked, “What are they?” and I responded, “I don’t know.” At this point Josiah who was working his way through his third apple and had not even raised his head to look up at the sky said, “They’re birds.”

Sometimes the simplicity and complexity of children is just the right dose of reality! Thinking about that day still brings a smile to my face. We knew they were not geese and thanks to Josiah we knew for certain that they were absolutely birds. What a joy and great blessing our children really are to us!

In a study conducted several years ago, sociologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck of Harvard University tried to identify the crucial factors in Juvenile Delinquency. They developed a test by which they could predict the future delinquency of children five or six-years-old. Their follow-up tests, four years later, proved to be ninety percent accurate. They determined that the four necessary factors to prevent delinquency are:

  1. The Father’s Discipline: Discipline must be firm, fair, and consistent.
  2. The Mother’s Supervision: A mother must know where her children are and what they’re doing at all times, and be with them as much as possible.
  3. The Father and Mother’s Affection: Children need to see love demonstrated between the father and mother, and have it physically demonstrated to them.
  4. The Family’s Cohesiveness: The family must spend time together.

Deuteronomy 6:7-9 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Notice that this practice is an imperative: YOU SHALL TEACH THEM. Second, the process is simple: TALK. Not preach, scold, cajole, pound it into them, or dump on them. This is to be a natural a part of our daily life, natural and unforced, it is to just flow into every part of life. The key to this is really whether or not you can see God in every part of life. If you do, so will your children. If God stays at church or when you prepare a lecture, they will compartmentalize Him right out of their social life, private life, sports life, dressing life, recreation life and every other part of their lives. As one great old saint said, ‘There’s no difference between the sacred in the secular’. That’s basically what Moses is saying: Just let God flow into all of life.

Are you praying for your children? Are you teaching them the Word of God? Do you pray with your children? Do you model good choices? How much time and attention do you give to your children?

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  3 John 1:4

Clegguart Mitchell