My Peace I Give to You

December 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Anna Cannard –

I was brand new to town. Two thousand miles from home. On my own. I had lived in Tulsa for less than a month when I met little “Sandra.” In the midst of missing my days as an intern at the Child Welfare Department, I learned my school did weekly visits to a local children’s shelter. It sounded like the perfect fit.

When I went into the building, the first person I saw was a little blond boy, crying for his mommy. The staff told me he was very upset over being removed from his abusive home, and would benefit from being held by a woman. I spent most of my evening with the boy, contentedly snuggled in my arms.

Throughout the evening, it was hard not to notice the sound of an infant crying non-stop across the room. After two hours, the frustration was obvious on the staff’s faces. It was then I remembered my nickname back home—Baby Magic—for my skill in making babies happy.

I handed the boy to someone else and asked for a turn holding baby Sandra. The staff gladly handed her to me, and Sandra continued to cry loudly. I was told she was born addicted to drugs and almost did not survive. After three months in ICU, she was released into foster care. She would not eat and was restless with crying. They decided if she did not eat within the next few hours, she would be sent back to the hospital, but they were hoping that would not have to happen.

That moment I said a quiet prayer, “Lord, let her know she is safe. Give her Your peace.” Within seconds, the infant was asleep. Twenty minutes went by with her peacefully asleep in my arms when I was handed a bottle. “Maybe you can get her to eat,” a staff member suggested.

Ten minutes later, there was a circle of staff surrounding me, admiring the pink peaceful baby girl. “This is the first time she’s been quiet since getting here,” a woman said. The bottle of formula was now empty. “That’s the most she’s eaten, also.”

It was nearing the end of my time there that night, and I was asked to feed her again. People thought I must have some special ability to work with babies, but I knew the secret; it was not me but Christ working through me.

John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I challenge you, as Christians, to walk with the peace of God. He has given it to you to change your world. It is rare; it can only be given to you by God, and through you, wherever you go, you may be His gift to the world.

Simple Thoughts Matter

November 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Anna Cannard –

Have you ever had a simple thought that you shrugged off and ignored? Then my story of “Jonny” may be for you. One day I woke up with a Christian kids’ song playing in my head that I had not heard in years. I laughed at how random it was. Wanting to reminisce, I found it in the CD cabinet. As the songs played, an idea came to mind. I should play this in the car for my child welfare work. It was a simple thought, which ended up being a catalyst in my faith.

Jonny was an intelligent four-year-old who had not developed speech. I took him to therapy twice a week, where they tried unsuccessfully to get him to speak. He comprehended well, but everything came out of his mouth as, “Fuh-huh-zuh-juh.”

We drove to the therapist’s office as three songs played. Then the song I had awakened to that morning played. It added an upbeat tune to 2 Timothy 1:7. The chorus of the song shouted, “Fear not! Don’t be afraid.”

I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw Jonny enjoying this song. The African American child, with forty percent of his body scarred from burns of a fire that killed his entire family, had a bright smile and bopped his head along to the beat. The song ended in silence, then suddenly, to my amazement, he announced boldly, “Fear not. Shh-vuh, afraid. Fear not.”

I was absolutely shocked. The child just said his first words, and they were wonderful first words. He continued saying those words on the remainder of the drive, and the walk into the therapist’s office, stating with greater and greater confidence, “Fear not. Dun, don’t be afraid.” The therapist also gasped when she heard him speak, and speak so clearly.

Two weeks later, as I shared the story with my mom, it hit me that I needed to pray against whatever Jonny was afraid of. Several days I prayed for God to resolve what was causing his fear. Then the phone call came to the child abuse hotline. Jonny’s foster mother had started counseling sessions, and she admitted she took her frustration with her other kids out on Jonny because he could not tell on her. Her counselor, a mandatory child abuse reporter, said the foster mom stated she was afraid she was about to go too far in hurting him.

Jonny was sent to a new foster home that day. His new foster parents were amazingly pro-active with him, and in a few weeks Jonny had tripled his vocabulary and many of his behavior issues had vanished.

Surely God put that song in my head to set the string of events into action. It was God’s simple thought in me to play the CD in the car. He got Jonny to speak, revealing Jonny’s fear, and He was then able to work through prayer for the fear to go away.

It made me become very aware of God’s guidance throughout my day. I’ve had more experiences like this which I will share in future posts. I encourage you to ask yourself what simple ideas have you ignored? Could it have been God speaking? If so, listen. How do you tell if it’s from God?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

A Simple Song

October 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Anna Cannard –

Rosy red cheeks, blond curls, pink hair ties, a blue dress, and ballet slippers made an adorable outfit. But it was impossible not to notice the slobber and snot that drooled down and around her tear drenched face. This was the sight I saw when I first met “Jenna.” Colossians 3:17 tells us to do everything in the name of Jesus. Jenna showed me how simple that could be.

I came to her seventh foster home as a child welfare intern assigned to take Jenna to visit her mother. Jenna, only a year old, had already been diagnosed with stranger anxiety, separation anxiety, and chronic fatigue. She had been several months without seeing her mother. I wondered if Jenna would recognize her.

Due to her severe anxieties, I’d been prepared for hitting, biting, and screaming when I put her in the car. I prayed that God would give the child peace when she saw me. I’d prayed this before for other kids who had anxiety and it always worked.

Sure enough, here I was, standing at the doorway facing Jenna. She saw me, clung to her foster mom, and wailed. I knelt and stretched out my arms. “Let’s go have some fun!” Jenna released her grip and walked to me. I scooped her up and out to the car. She wrapped her arms around me and rubbed her head against my neck.

At a stop light, I turned and tried to comfort the sobbing Jenna by talking to her. It didn’t work. Then I began to sing in a jolly manner, “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” Jenna’s cries ceased instantly. “How I wonder what you are.”

“Ha. Ha.” The tiny little girl let out a giggle for the first time. Down the road, I continued overdramatically singing the song, and Jenna laughed at every word. Going through the office door, I sang as upbeat as possible. Jenna’s tears dried and she laughed with a bright smile when we met her mother in the hallway. Instantly Jenna hid and cried again.

I sat in the playroom with Jenna and her mother, making sure the visit went safely, and Jenna continuously cried and attempted to cling to me. Her mother shared with me her feelings of frustration that her daughter was so avoidant of her. Near the end of the visit, I thought about the song again, and encouraged her mother to sing it. Amazingly, as her mother hummed the lyrics, Jenna popped her head up and slowly drew closer to her mom. The time came for Jenna to leave. Her mother thanked me for telling her about the song.

Five more times I would see Jenna. Each time she greeted me with a smile and hug. Two of those times, she enjoyed her mother singing to her and three times I sang to comfort her as we left because her mother decided not to show up. Six months I would go without seeing the girl before I was told to pick her up for her father to see.

I was amazed when she greeted me, “Nah Nuh (Anna).”

I drove down the road and she mumbled and waved her hands. No way. She remembered the song. I sang it out and she lowered her hands and laughed.

Her father would also disappoint her by quitting his visits. These times I sang a new song to comfort her as she cried, “Jesus loves me this I know….”

A simple song. A simple act for Jesus. Yet it brought comfort to a child. I hope this will encourage you to do small things for Jesus too.