Dads Love in a Different Way
I watched Jovani hold Micaela, her IV line draped across the couch, her curly head resting on his shoulder. His eyes closed. Soon they were both asleep.
I had no idea how he could do that. Earlier, I had attempted to hold our fussy & frustrated three-year old while resting, but had been unsuccessful. The moment she put her head down I would wonder if she was comfortable, if the IV lines would kink, and if there was enough airflow around her nose and mouth. No Jovani, he simply held her and settled into the moment. Micaela loved it. She needed to feel his strong heartbeat and loving arms.
As we sat in the hospital after this last formidable seizure that Micaela had, I considered the ways in which Jovani’s love is better than mine. What I discovered was surprising.
While this list should be taken with a grain of salt (not all family dynamics, marriages, etc are the same) you might find that some of these describe ways in with your significant other, parent, neighbor, or friend bring another flavor of love into your child’s life.
If you are blessed to have other people in your life that help you raise your children, think about all the ways their love is different than yours. Sometimes these differences can frustrate us, but, most the time, they are nurturing your children in ways that do not come natural to your own personality.
So, the next time your children have the opportunity to spend quality time with someone who cares for them, take a moment and thank God that their lives are blessed with many different kinds of love.
(Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Can you think of other ways your spouse, parent, parent-in-law, or neighbor gives your child love that is different than yours?
So much has changed since last year and our post A Day in the Life of Micaela, A Special-Needs Toddler. It is definitely time for an update.
For those of you who haven't heard Micaela's story, let me catch you up to speed. Micaela was born premature at 27 weeks weighing 2lbs. She suffered a brain hemorrhage and also never fully developed her cerebellum. The end result was that she has less than 50% of normal brain mass. She has vision impairments, ataxic cerebral palsy, and a long journey ahead of her.
I like to tell people that my family and I have front-row seats to God's awesome power everyday of our lives as we watch this little girl overcome. She is amazing.
So, this is a typical day for our little family when we are at home and nothing unexpected occurs.
11:30am—The braces go back on and Micaela and I practice walking around the house. She is very proud of herself. Right now our goal is to be able to walk into the school independently this fall for preschool.
It is hard to imagine what Adela’s world is like. With a sibling who has so many special needs, she has to watch parents, family, friends, neighbors, etc give much attention and care to her sister while she is left in “normal” standing. Worse, when we have days involving ambulances and an airlift to a hospital, she is left entirely on the sideline, wondering what is happening to her world.
When I finally accepted respite care, it was nice to have the breathing room to give Adela complete and undivided attention. Doing things like taking her to the Dinosaur Museum and cuddling while watching a movie, have been so good for both of us. I love this little girl. She has an amazing sense of humor and a huge heart. It has been fun to let her know that. We have even incorporated little inside jokes and traditions, just me and her.
A couple weeks ago I noticed her displaying outward attention and attentiveness to other children and Micaela. Surprised, I watched her do things like make sure a couple of girls had straws for their drinks, making sure a friend was covered up by a blanket after a dip in the pool, and running to get Micaela’s glasses in the morning.
Excited by the sweet change, I told a friend.
My friend smiled and exclaimed, “Oh, her little cup runneth over!”
Like someone hit me over the head, I finally got it. We are all designed to give to and care for others from the overflow of love inside us. That is why it is so important we constantly go to our Heavenly Father and be filled with His peace, joy, wisdom, and love so that we can give to others from the overflow.
For months, I have been trying to mold Adela’s behavior and have felt like a potter working with jello. However, once her needs of love were met, it was natural and easy to treat others with respect and affection.
If you have a child who is struggling with their behavior, try using the love languages to fill their hearts with how important they are to you, and how much you care for them.
Words of Affirmation: Let your child know how special they are and how much you love doing things with them. Don’t be general, be specific. Tell them you love how they make animal noises or how well they did drying the dishes.
Quality Time: Do something with that child one-on-one. Watch a movie, read a book, do a craft. Or, involve family and friends and let your child decide what the activity will be. Make sure you avoid things that will draw your attention away from your child such as spending time on the phone or social media.
Gifts: It doesn’t have to be anything big, it is the thought that counts. An older child might enjoy a trinket you had personalized for them. A small child would be ecstatic with a treat. Make it a surprise, something you got for them just because you love them.
Physical Affection: Take the time to hug, cuddle, tickle, and rough house with your child. It is amazing how huge that physical connection is. A loving touch hold a great deal of power.
Acts of Service: Do something for them. Serve them dinner with extra flare. Help them finish a task that has been difficult for them.
Just as our Father in Heaven does for us, may we remember to fill our children with love and caring so that they can interact with others with an overflowing heart.
I am constantly so proud of the strong little girls that God blessed me with and pray that I always prioritize their precious hearts.
Was this article helpful? Is there something you would like to include for parent who might be struggling in this area?
Let Them Know They are Loved
I was excited about Adela’s birthday. It was the first year I let her sit down with me and talk about how she wanted to celebrate, what friends she wanted to be there, etc. I loved having the opportunity to show our girl how important she is to us and how loved she is.
However, the day, though immensely fun, left me feeling like I had spent the day getting ducks in a row instead of actively expressing love to Adela. My friends with children agreed. Birthday parties are exhausting and you don’t have many moments feeling connected to your little ones.
In fact, Adela spent nearly half of the event crankily clinging to me.
The next day we drove down to the dinosaur museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico with some friends who had visited us from Albuquerque. It was a low-key day. We let the girls set the pace and I admit to being thrilled when Adela drug me around, wanting to spend a lot of time alone looking at the exhibits with her mom. It was the most enjoyable day I’ve spent with my little girl in a very long time.
What surprised me the most was how much Adela is changing. Her ideas are maturing and her sense of humor has expanded. Afterwards, we returned home and Adela was quiet and content. I noticed for several days afterward that she was much more cooperative and attentive. She was less anxious and it was easier than ever to communicate with her.
I know that spending a day with her like that was very important. It let her know that I loved her. That birthday party had been fun, but I hadn’t truly paid attention to my little girl. I had been more concerned with the pizza arriving, the drinks staying cold, and if our guests were enjoying themselves. Adela still needed more to know she was loved.
We are all like this. That’s why date nights with our significant others are so crucial. That is why phone calls with parents and coffee with friends are irreplaceable. We need that connection and reminder that we are loved.
Is there someone in your life that you feel disconnected with? Can you think of a way to let them know you love them?
Are You the Hero of Your Story?
I love the book of Esther. The romance. The incredible position that allowed a woman to save her people. The love between uncle and niece.
I bet Esther did not always see the great purpose and position in life she had been given. Married to a powerful, and we can assume, selfish and egotistical king, she had responsibilities she never asked for and a husband who did not see her for extended periods of time.
Did Esther see herself as the Heroine of her own story?
We all get bogged down by the day-to-day grind of our reality. I certainly feel it. Often my biggest accomplishment of the day was that everyone went to bed fed and that the dishes got done. I easily begin to feel unimportant in the big scheme of life. I look at my world and feel far from an Esther who becomes a queen and saves her people.
And yet, we are part of God’s story. Saved, we become part of His plan, helpers in the unfolding of a beautiful destiny. We might have no idea how those pieces come together, but we can be assured that the result is always epic.
I considered this when reading Esther’s story the other day. Esther embraced her role in God’s plans. Though there were no doubt days when she felt frustrated or even depressed, she was one of God’s heroes of the Faith.
Today, I am choosing to be a heroine of the faith as well. This might mean that I must faithfully keep meals cooked and dishes washed. This might mean that I must be a faithful servant of God not ever fully understanding His purpose for me. However, there is a mighty strength in knowing that we daily set forth in God’s will, power, and love.
What a purpose! What a role! What a character!
For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Do you see yourself as a hero or heroine in God’s story?
Trust God's Timing
Do you ever battle frustration, knowing that you are ready but having to wait on outside forces for your life to move forward?
A couple years ago my family and I moved into a new home. I remember spending days cleaning, more days unpacking. Anxiously, I awaited my favorite part: decorating. Just when I thought I was ready, everything else fell apart. Micaela had surgery on her eyes, Adela started to fight napping, Jovani’s work responsibilities increased. There were no extra resources for the grand adventure of recreating my new home.
And then, we moved again.
I laugh now. God didn’t short-change me at all. That final move into the community we now call home now was seriously the best thing that had happened to us in a very long time.
God’s timing is always perfect. Always.
Even then, it is hard to wait to move forward with our plans.
Have you ever stopped to consider Jesus? He was born perfect, enlightened, the Son of God. And yet, he waited thirty years to begin a ministry that lasted only three years. Those numbers are frustrating to prideful man, but they flawlessly completed the most epic love story of all time and transformed the world.
God makes no mistakes.
He will make none with you.
As a mother of small children with many needs, I am learning to trust God’s timing. My children do everything on their own timeline—walking, talking, learning to dress themselves. The more I push against the waiting, the more precious time I lose as their childhood slips away. Besides, they are too cute to miss out on these fun times.
God planted me here.
Every moment I let out my breath and remember to live in His timing, the more I am filled with joy.
There is a time for everything,
Remember a time in which you waited impatiently for something you desperately desired. What was precious about the timing in which that wish was fulfilled?
I love the 4th of July. The fireworks, the sweet faces of my children as they celebrate a day freedom.
This week, Vacation Bible School in my precious community began. I watch amazing women from miles and miles around come so they can minister to these little ones. My heart swells. I am so proud to be part of this Christian community.
God is so good to us. I can’t imagine living in a place where I am not free to share the message of salvation with others or having to live alongside people who have never acknowledged God’s love. I pray that tomorrow, while I enjoy food with family and celebrate a day of independence, I remember to keep other nations on my heart.
Happy Independence Day, friends.
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"...and God was already there with me."