From Tiffany Pearl:
I am sitting in the hospital room as I write this for Bella’s 4th round of chemotherapy. I can barely see her in the bed as she sleeps – just her nose sticks out from underneath her hood of her sweatshirt and her fuzzy blanket. She has lost a lot of weight over the past several months, too, so her little body under the covers almost reminds me of when she was younger, when she was a little girl; when life was so different, and a diagnosis like this seemed next to impossible. She has tolerated the chemo well over the past couple months, and we pray that this round is no different. She started school back up last week and is excited that she gets to be in school more this year than she was last year. She is back on her tennis team and even won her first match last week! Life is almost “normal” for Bella right now, those are her words, not mine. We are looking forward to the completion of this cycle because that means we are more than halfway done with her treatments! Woohoo! It almost feels like we are rounding the corner, and we can see a downhill slope ahead of us, gliding us to the finish line. We are thanking God to learn of a normal MRI that was done late last week. God is so good, and we are taking each day as it comes, trying our best to stay in the moment and not get too far ahead of ourselves.
But as I look at her tiny, fragile body, I can’t help but look back. I look back about 16 years ago when I found out I was going to have a baby girl. Besides the normal feelings of joy and excitement, I also had feelings of fear and anxiousness, thinking about if I would be a good mama to this little girl… will I teach her all she needs to know; will she love herself and be confident in who she is; will she love others well; will I be able to protect her. So many thoughts and questions swirled around in my mind over the 9 months before she arrived, and upon her arrival in the world, those questions didn’t leave me. In fact, they remained very close to me; even more when we had our second little girl four and a half years later. I wanted so much to be able to control everything about their lives; what they watched, what they ate; how they acted so that I could protect them… after all, I was their mom, and I knew what was best for them, right? I thought if I controlled these things, I could protect them and keep them safe in this world that can be very hard and full of heartbreak. None of us ever want our kids to hurt, physically or emotionally. Quite honestly, I was pretty successful with all of that for a while…well, until Bella entered kindergarten. That’s when I noticed so many things changing; her personality; her likes and dislikes; she developed fears she never had; said things she never said before; had little heartbreaks I wasn’t there for. It was in that year that I realized Bella no longer was only being influenced by me and Jason; she was being influenced by so many factors in the outside world, some good and some bad. My baby was becoming her own little person with influences and occurrences coming from all different directions, and I had no control over it. That’s when I think more fear set in for this mama; who more than anything wanted to keep Bella in our tiny little bubble; exactly the way she always was to keep her from harm. And kindergarten was JUST the beginning! As she grew; there was less and less I could control; when she entered her teenage years, I felt like I barely knew who she was – I felt like my little baby wasn’t even in this teenage body or mind anymore! And of course, when we learned about her tumor, well, it was pretty obvious that all control had been lost!
It wasn’t until I started following Jesus in my late 30’s that my fears started to dissolve and all these questions and worry that swirled around in my head started to change. Oh, it didn’t change overnight! It was a gradual change, a process, a slow release of control. With each day, I surrendered more to Jesus and learned to really trust Him, I released more control on the grip I had on my children. Or at least the control that I thought I had. And the questions that swirled around in my head for so many years started to go away, and were replaced with a statement:
Get them back to Jesus.
After all, they were never mine to begin with; they are His. They are a gift and a blessing to me FROM Him, but they are not mine…THEY ARE HIS. I know it is hard to believe, but He loves them more than I do. He died for them. My job was not to control their lives; that is completely impossible; it is and always has been to get them back to Jesus; speaking grace and truth into their lives through His Word, the Bible. It took me a while, but I realized that was my job as a parent, to get them back to Jesus. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength. Take to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates” In other words; ALWAYS and EVERY DAY point them to Jesus. There is a quote I’ve read that says, “If we do not teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.”
So on days when they come home from school, and someone has hurt them, and they are in tears, point them to Jesus. On the day you find something that is harmful to them in the backpack, point them to Jesus. When they have heartbreak over something that is incomprehensible to understand due to a broken world, point them to Jesus. On the day that you find out they have a cancerous tumor and have a yearlong treatment, point them to Jesus. In other words, point them to the one who knows best, who loves them unconditionally, who can be trusted always, who will comfort them, who is faithful, who heals, who saves – Jesus. THIS is how we protect them and keep them safe. And know that YOU can trust Him too – that as you point your children to Him, you can be confident you are pointing them to the ONLY one they need. This does not mean that they will not be hurt, get sick, or be faced with hard choices – no, we cannot control these things; but this does give them what they need to walk through things with hope, trust, peace, and joy. When we release the control we have and surrender it over to Jesus, not only do we lead by example to our children, we also walk with hope, trust, peace, and joy.
One of my favorite Bible stories is when Jesus is speaking to a group of adults, and some people bring their children for Him to place hands on them and pray for them. Despite the disciples rebuking the parents, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Jesus loves the little children; we have to bring them to Him. Pray with them, bring them to church (every Sunday!), read the Bible with them, talk to them about Him. Again, if we do not teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.
On November 11, 2021 – Isabella prayed a prayer in our living room with Jason and myself to surrender her life to Jesus. Her brain tumor was discovered on February 3, 2022. And we rejoiced this Sunday, September 11, 2022, when Bella made a public proclamation that she has given her life to Jesus Christ through her baptism. I have prayed many times that my children’s faith will be their own, not mine, not their dad’s, their own. Trust me, I didn’t picture it happening exactly this way, but God knew, and He knows best for my child. And He knows best for your child too.
I know that Bella is now walking with Jesus and that if she wasn’t, this difficult circumstance in her life would look much different. I also know that would not have happened if I had not released control and trusted Him completely. All the fears, anxieties, and questions I had so long ago, are all answered with Him. Does this mean my job is done of pointing her to Jesus? Absolutely not. She will stumble. She will fall. We all do. I’m grateful to God that her dad and I get to be there when she does to point her back to Him. This mama will continue to do the job that God has given to me until He calls me home.