About Dena, parenting

Leading My Children

Fifteen years ago today (July 8, 1999), I was eight months pregnant with my first child. I had been put on bedrest a few weeks earlier as the doctor watched my blood pressure go up and my blood counts go down.

Around noon, my doctor called me personally—never a good sign.

“I think I’m going to put you in the hospital until we deliver this baby,” he said.

As I began to pack my bags and get ready to leave, my mind rushed back to a year earlier. My nephew had been born just three weeks early—not as premature as I was looking at—and had spent three weeks in the NICU fighting for his life. My mind swirled with fears.

I checked into the hospital, and around 7:00 that night my doctor came by.

“I’ve spoken with the perinatologist, and we are delivering this baby,” he said.

The next thing I knew, I was being pumped with magnesium sulfate, designed to prevent seizures. The flurry of activity around me grew, and I was soon pushed into the operating room for an emergency c-section (yes, I’ve had three babies and NEVER experienced a labor pain). In a short amount of time, my son was delivered. After a very brief hello, he was taken to me and rushed to the nursery.

Even though he was a month early, my son entered this world as a 6 lb 12 oz preemie—complete with immature lungs and unable to breathe completely on his own. He was confined to the nursery on oxygen therapy with close monitoring while I was confined to bed recovering from surgery.

Around 3:00 am, I asked the nurse when I could see my baby. She said that she would see if they could bring him to me for a brief moment. Soon, two nurses came in carrying my precious newborn son.

“Hi, Punkin,” I said.

“Look!” one of the nurses exclaimed. “His breathing improved when he heard his mom’s voice. He’s not grunting any more!”

I have made myself calm and content     like a young child in its mother’s arms.     Deep down inside me, I am as content as a young child. Psalm 131:2

After a few days, Blake and I were able to go home. In those early days, I remember praying for him as I bathed him. As I washed his head and hair, I would pray that he would have the mind of Christ and that he would always be transformed by the renewing of his mind. As I washed his chest, I would pray that he would always wear the breastplate of righteousness. As I scrubbed his feet, I would pray that his feet would be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. I prayed for purity of mind, body, and spirit. I prayed for everything I could think of. My child would be covered by my prayers.

As the years went by, I added two more children to my family. I was busy trying to stay afloat—with a husband, three young kids, a ministry, a home to care for. Honestly, my prayers became fewer and more sporadic. I was doing good just to keep all the balls in the air.

Eventually, life fell apart. I found myself a single mom struggling to stay above water. Life was so busy, and I was doing good to keep everything moving forward.

One day, I heard that voice that is all too familiar to me. “Focus on the spiritual growth of your children,” it whispered to my soul.

In an effort to be obedient, I began to buy and read books. I was suddenly faced with the reality that I had no idea how to be a spiritual leader to my children—that’s the husband’s job. I began to try every method I could find—daily Bible readings, family prayer nights, developing a family mission and vision. Every effort was short-lived.

I cried out to God, “Lord, I want to focus on the spiritual growth of my children, but I have no idea how!”

And then, I found a life-changing idea. I began to set alarms on my phone throughout my day, and with each alarm I paused to pray for my kids. The first evening my alarm continued to ring, my Blake looked at me and asked why I had all these alarms. When I explained that it was a reminder to pray for him, you could see the smile creep across his face, the joy of knowing that his mom was praying for him.

Today, I have changed my methodology some. I work from my car, traveling from hospital to hospital. Every time I get into or out of my car, I pick up Stormie O’Martian’s book The Power of a Praying Parent. I use one of her prayers to lift my children before the Father, using it as a springboard to pray for specifics in my children’s lives.

One of my biggest prayers for Blake in this last year has been that he would develop a hunger and thirst for God, for His word, for righteousness. I have prayed as he enters his teen years that he would see the importance of purity—in mind, body, and spirit. I have prayed that God would wrap him in His arms and lead him to be a world-changer for Christ.

And you know what? These prayers have brought about more changes than I ever dreamed possible. Blake has a habit of coming into my room late at night to talk—his favorite time of the day. He opens his heart to me and lets me in to the deepest recesses of his soul. He has shared with me areas where God is working, where he is struggling to obey, where he realizes he is pushing God out—always in direct connection with my prayers.

Last week, he asked me how many chapters were in the Bible. As we began to look it up, I realized his mind was trying to figure out how many chapters he needed to read each day to read through it in a year. My heart leapt with joy! I know God is hearing my prayers. I know He is moving in the lives of my kids. I know He has amazing plans for these precious kids He has entrusted to me.

My 6 lb 12 oz preemie now towers over me at 6’ 3” tall. I refer to him as my gentle giant—my 4 year-old niece simply calls him Adult. What a joy it has been to watch this baby grow into a young man with a heart for God!

Are you struggling with how to lead your children? Pray! Let God do all the work!

Are any of you in trouble? Then you should pray. Are any of you happy? Then sing songs of praise.

Are any of you sick? Then send for the elders of the church to pray over you. Ask them to anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer offered by those who have faith will make you well. The Lord will heal you. If you have sinned, you will be forgiven.

 So admit to one another that you have sinned. Pray for one another so that you might be healed. The prayer of a godly person is powerful. It makes things happen. James 5:13-16


Happy birthday, Blake!! I love you more than words can say!

6 thoughts on “Leading My Children”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. My son just turned 16, and just this past weekend went on his first date. It has shaken me a bit. While I believe in his commitment to God, I dislike the loss of control I’m feeling. And I have been impressed to pray. I’ve been praying for many of the same things you have prayed for your son. And I’ve wondered if praying was enough. Is there something else I need to DO? I was talking with a friend today about God’s work in my life as a college student and how thankful I was He led me during times when I wasn’t very lead-able. I made the comment that if God took care of me, He could take care of my son. And as I read your blog, I realized I’ve prayed many of those same prayers for myself and have seen God answer them. God has been faithful in my life, and He will be faithful in the life of my son.

    1. He absolutely will! I become more convinced of the power of prayer each and every day as I see God move in direct response to my prayers. He is truly amazing! We have yet to reach the dating stage (thank God!), but I know it is coming. I am sure that I, too, will have some moments of anxiety as I release him fully to God. But, aren’t we fortunate to know that God loves them even more than we do?

      BTW…didn’t we attend OBU together?

      1. I believe we did! I’m sad to admit my memory is much worse than it should be at my age, and I don’t remember if we had classes together or were in the Bisonettes together or something like that. But I found your blog through Anita Washburn Martin, and it has spoken to me many times!

      2. I know we knew each other, but I was not Bisonettes and I was in the journalism/public relations school. So glad to have you on this journey! I’m blown away by What a God is doing!

        Sent from my iPhone


    1. Thank you so much! I will most definitely wish him a happy birthday from you! We covet all the prayers we can get! God bless!

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