Seven Ways my Children are Missionaries to Me

Becoming a parent is such a huge blessing. While children can try every last nerve, they can also make your heart swell in the very same moment. Something I didn't necessary anticipate was how much the relationship that I have with my children would parallel my relationship with God. It's like my children are little missionaries-- whether they know it or not! They remind me of what my Heavenly Father has done for me. They are an example of what my faith should look like. And so much more! So I have come up with a little listy-list to show you examples of what I mean.

  1. I often have to break up fights between siblings. This includes telling someone to say "I'm sorry" and someone else to say "I forgive you" in return. What a great reminder of confessing our sins to our Heavenly Father and of the awesome forgiveness we freely receive in return.
  2. Sometimes I have to apologize to my children for something I have done. After telling them sorry, everything returns to normal almost instantly. They are so quick to forgive -- just like our Heavenly Father is quick to forgive us! 
  3. It never ceases to make me smile when I hear my kids singing while they are playing on their own. Often it includes them belting their favorite songs they learned at Sunday school or school. What an example to be bold and unashamed of our faith -- so much so that we can shout it at the top of our lungs with enthusiasm! 
  4. Do you ever get annoyed by having to ask your child to do the same thing over and over again before they finally do it? It really is a great reminder of how much patience our God has for us! How many times have we sinned against our Father -- over and over even! He so patient -- slow to anger and abounding in love. 
  5. In the frenzy of lunch, sometimes my children are the ones that remind me we have to pray still. What a blessing to have them as a reminder to give thanks! 
  6.  On Sunday my kids are so excited for Sunday school. What great role models for me so that I can be just as excited! We have a great blessing and a great privilege to learn about Jesus as often as we do! 
  7. After a long, trying day with my kids, even if it was the worst of worst days, I still love them. Completely. Our Heavenly Father will always love us, despite our many shortcomings, no matter what. Completely.

Once you start making these connections, they can be kind of hard to miss. I love this because it's a constant, daily (sometimes hourly!) reminder for me. Being reminded of God, his love, and all that he has done for me is a lovely way to carry on my days. 

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A Prayer for the Littles

As I watch you imagining,

pretending,

sharing,

singing,

I have so many questions about you,

my sweet ones.

Will you be kind?

What will you be when you grow?

Will you be weak,

or will you be strong?

What are the things you'll want to know?

But so much more important, 

my dear littles.

Will you still believe?

Will you pray, learn, will your faith grow?

Will you be weak,

or will you be strong?

Will you share your faith and what you know?

So I pray hard and I pray often for you

my precious ones.

I pray your faith is fierce.

I pray God keeps you close to Him.

I pray you can be bold.

I pray you share your love for Him.

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May God keep you and I together

in a faith sure and true.

May the Holy Spirit guide us

to fan our faith flames blue.

May the peace in knowing

that      Christ      Jesus      has       died.

Help us be ever courageous

until we are there by His side.

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Are we so proud?

My middle son started three year old preschool this year. He's pretty pumped about it (so much so that he has asked multiple times if he is in kindergarten yet so he can have a packed lunch and stay there all day. Or he just wants a lunch box...)

This child I often refer to as our wildcard. ;P He knows how to simultaneously push my buttons until they are maxed but also melt me into a little puddle. He knows how to make me impossibly angry but then have me laughing within the same minute. He's our jokester and stinker. The one that makes everyone snicker when they shouldn't be. 

But this one. He takes school very seriously. Always straight faced at drop off and pick up. Always very matter-of-fact about the details of the day. Downright, a tiny man. (Granted, during school may be completely different.)

This past week at school they made little paper books on the creation story with each day having it's own page that he colored himself. It was then stapled together with a puffy tiger sticker stuck to the front cover. 

This tiny man was so proud

He was so proud of his book. He showed me immediately at school. He came home and had to show his baby brother and read it to him. He had to show it to his older sister when she got home. She read it to him, page by page, also very proud of him. He showed his daddy when he got home. The next day he remembered about his book and wanted to bring it to Bible class to show his friends there. 

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Are we so proud

Are we so excited and proud of what our Savior did for us that we want to share it with everyone? Are we so excited that we can't keep it to ourselves? God created the whole world in just six days! God helped Noah build a magnificent ark to keep him safe from the destructive flood. God kept Daniel safe from the lions. He kept Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego safe from the fiery furnace. Etcera, etcera. I could go on and on and on with his amazing works!

Or, are we embarrassed? Ashamed, shy, reluctant, or no longer impressed?

There are many things our children can teach us, but their enthusiasm for Christ is at the top of the list. They are so excited to go to Sunday school and learn Bible stories every Sunday. They are so proud to tell me about what they learned. The sheer sparkle in their eye is enough evidence that they know, cherish, and believe in the love and forgiveness from our Savior.

They have a Savior. His name is Jesus. And they are His.

And they certainly aren't afraid to tell us all about it!

I Chronicles 16: 23-25a, "Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise."

Heavenly Father, Thank you for the example that our children are for us. Thank you for their beautiful happiness, unabated enthusiasm, and awesome gratefulness for all the awesome things You are and for all that Jesus has done for us. Help us to capture that. Help us to follow their example. Help us all to continue to learn and grow in our faiths and to have opportunities to share it with others. Forgive us when we are weak, embarrassed, and shy about you. Give us strength and confidence to overcome our weaknesses. In Jesus name, Amen.

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A Little Poem for my Little Dears

I love your little mischievous grin.

I love your dimpled smile.

I love your unabated contagious giggles.

I love when you get wild (well most of the time). 

I love your incredible desire to learn.

I love your helpful personality. 

I love your patience and easy laughter (from one of you anyway). 

I love your creativity. 

I love that you love Jesus as I do.

I love your exuberant songs of praise. 

I love your easy unembarrassed faith in Christ.

I love this love that fills our days.

I pray that as you grow your faith grows too,

and you never forget what Jesus has done for you.

 

 

Jahleel Is Wonderfully Made // Interview

Hello! My name is Kallie, and I have been married to my wonderful husband, David, for nine and a half years. We have lived in five states since our wedding, and currently live out in the Pacific Northwest region, where David serves as a pastor. We have been the deeply blessed parents of our son, Jahleel, for just over two years. We adopted him from Hong Kong in 2014, and are in the process of adopting our second child, a little boy waiting in China. 

Jahleel has a number of ongoing medical issues, most of which fall under the umbrella of his main diagnosis of a paternal 15q11.2-14 genetic deletion, sometimes known as “expanded Prader-Willi syndrome.” He is one of just a few known cases in the world with this genetic deletion. He is non-ambulatory, non-verbal, and can only be fed via g-tube. Jahleel uses a bipap machine overnight and for naps due to severe obstructive sleep apnea, and wears braces on his hands and feet. My little boy sees 12 doctors in 14 different medical specialties, and goes to therapy six times per week with four different therapists. He has a charming smile and a social, laid-back personality!

What has God taught you through Jahleel's special needs?

God has used this special needs parenting journey to teach me many important things! When you have a child with a disability, the challenges are unique. I have really seen how His strength is made perfect in my weaknesses. Because of the unique challenges we have faced, I have a much deeper level of compassion and respect for others. Also, seeing Jahleel’s excitement at simple joys in life has made me more thankful for our many blessings.

This could probably be its own post, but I have truly seen that God provides – whether through financial provision with the medical bills, a calm attitude when Jahleel is in pain, the energy to get through another long day of medical and therapy appointments, tube feeds, medications, and lifting my 32-lb. child. The Lord has given us the resolve and mental toughness of hearing hard diagnoses, having one good cry, and moving on. He has put some dear, wonderful friends in my life who are also moms through special needs adoptions.

Most importantly, having a child with special needs helps fix my eyes on heaven. It would be so easy to get caught up in constantly wondering if my son will ever walk, talk, or eat by mouth. Because of my faith, I can remind myself daily that my son is baptized, he hears God’s Word, and that nothing else truly matters in this life.

 

What kind of struggles does Jahleel have because of his disability?

With Jahleel’s severe low muscle tone, many ordinary tasks are really hard for him. Movement is an enormous challenge for him; he is currently limited to rolling. He is not able to eat anything by mouth. His throat muscles are so weak that he cannot swallow safely and will aspirate. Sleeping is not simple for him. He is a great sleeper, but he must wear a bipap to keep his airway from obstructing itself. Jahleel tires quite easily because it takes much more effort for his to use move body than it does for a person with normal muscle tone.

Communicating is also tough for Jahleel. He currently doesn’t have any words at all and attempts to tell us things with gestures. Try as we may, we often just can’t understand what he wants or needs.

He also endures a fair amount of pain on a very regular basis. Jahleel needs blood draws every few months. He certainly gets sore from all his hard work at therapy. We have to give him a daily hormone shot every night. I change out his g-tube button every few months, which is painful for him. He’s had about a dozen surgeries. Anesthesia tends to give him emergence delirium, and he has night terrors for days or weeks afterward. We’ve been told it’s the toddler version of PTSD.

 

What are your Jahleel’s strengths?  What does he enjoy doing?

Jahleel’s greatest strength is his happy personality! He is a joyful little boy and very laid-back, with one of the most charming smiles I’ve ever seen. He loves being out and around other people. I describe him as a “music and movement” kid. Music can instantly calm him if he’s upset. (He particularly loves Adele’s voice). As Jahleel slowly learns how to use his voice, he is trying to sing. It is adorable! He loves watching moving scenery while riding in the car or his stroller. Other things he enjoys are water (baths and swimming), the hair dryer, church and Sunday school, swinging, lights, Wheel of Fortune, playing “ball” (rolling it back and forth) and Baby Einstein videos.

Jahleel is also tough. He doesn’t cry at all for shots, blood draws, or IV starts anymore. He is very cooperative with all the appointments he has to go to. I am very proud of his bravery and how he makes the best of his circumstances.


 

How do you keep fed spiritually?

It took me awhile to figure out that reading Scripture before bed like I used to just wasn’t working anymore. I was too exhausted at the end of the day, yet my mind was still going a million miles a minute! I eventually figured out that listening to Bible readings or devotions is a much better fit for me now. The WELS mobile app has daily Bible readings and devotions that you can either listen to, or read. I use those often. Also, the ESV Bible has a “listen” option which is also a great Spiritual tool for me. We also frequently listen to hymns in the car.

 

How does Jahleel receive spiritual enrichment?

Jahleel was baptized on his “Gotcha Day,” in spring of 2014, which created his saving faith. (read David's guest blog post here). His faith continues to be fed whenever he hears God’s Word. Daily, we read a Bible story to him before bed and say prayers. He is often at my side when I listen to Scripture readings. We attend church regularly. Let me tell you, we could all learn a lesson from Jahleel – he LOVES church! He gets so excited to be there. He will even cry if we happen to drive by church and don’t pull in! He also gets to attend Sunday School, and is always excited about that.

How has your church family actively been a help to you? 

I can think of a few specific ways that our church has helped our family.

The first is by their willingness to include Jahleel in Sunday School. I would completely understand if they were uncomfortable with his feeding tube and lack of mobility, but they love having him, and he loves his class! It is also a blessing for me to be able to attend Bible study.

The second was the kindness of a dear friend (a church member) after Jahleel had surgery earlier this year and had to spend the night in the pediatric ICU afterward. Jahleel had night terrors all night long, and I didn’t sleep at all. My friend texted me the next morning, offered to run to the store for anything we needed, and brought us dinner that night. It was such a relief to not have to worry about cooking that night, or leaving the house for the next few days!

 

What are some other ways can we support families of children with special needs? 

In general, there are many ways that friends can support families of children with special needs:

  • First and foremost is to pray for them.
    The special needs parenting life is rich in blessings, but also full of very unique challenges. Loneliness comes by easily in our world, and the challenges to our faith are abundant.
     
  • The second is to understand that scheduling is hard for us.

    My son’s schedule is busier than that of many adults, and it wears us all out. It’s hard for us to leave our son – we only have a few baby-sitters who know his care well enough. Day trips away from home require much packing and planning with tube feeds and medications, and we are limited to activities that are wheelchair-accessible. All too often, things just don’t work out. But please keep inviting us, because we truly do need a break sometimes!
     
  • Practically speaking, I would advise to just ask how you can help (especially when a child is hospitalized or has a sudden ER trip).

Special needs moms are all different. Some moms would love a helper to come to doctor’s appointments, some would love a volunteer to do a quick grocery run so we don’t have to deal with transfers, wheelchairs, and packing medical equipment; some of us are looking for people willing to be trained to baby-sit our children with medical needs, and some of us maybe want to go out for coffee and talk about anything not medical for a couple hours!

  • Finally, I would ask that people please choose their words wisely.

It is a dagger to our hearts to hear things like, “What’s wrong with him?” or, “I bet if you fed him ice cream, he would eat,” and, “Must be nice to ride in that thing [medical stroller] all day long.”

Instead, positively-worded questions and comments such as, “Tell me about your son!” “He is looking so healthy and happy today,” and “Look how much he’s moving his upper body! That is great!” are appreciated.


Kallie, thank you so much for sharing Jahleel's story with us. Having a glimpse into your every day helps us know how we can better support families with special needs.

Being informed removes ignorance and we as a church family need to take more responsibility and be proactive in this area.

Research shows that special needs children and their families aren't getting the spiritual support they need and they need encouragement all the more! 

Thank you for sharing specific ways that your church family has been a blessing to you. That is such a blessing. 

And how fitting that Jahleel's name carries this message:
"Waiting for"
"Beseeching"
"Hope in God"  

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
— Romans 8:18-25