3:00 AM in the morning….

“I’m up, I’m up!” At least that’s what my dog wants me to be at 3:00 AM. Somehow, over the years, my senior dog, Lola, has decided that I need to feed her breakfast at 3:00 AM. At first, she was just so stinking cute. As a puppy, she’d bounce on the bed, wake me up with a squeaky little half bark and a soft lick on my face and then plead with me to get up, with her soft brown eyes. At first, I thought she was just too cute.

At first.

As with anything that starts out cute, there’s the ugly side to that kind of cute. Somehow, her squeaky little half bark as a puppy morphed into a demanding get-out-of-bed-now-if-you-ever-want-to-go-back-to-sleep-again kind of bark from a determined senior doggo. You know, the kind of bark that dogs bark when they think someone is breaking into your house, and you better get up and investigate immediately or else! That kind of bark isn’t easy to ignore. That kind of bark nestles itself nicely at the base of your spine and waits. Each bark sends a shooting jolt of wake-up to your brain like caffeine does when you have your first cup of morning coffee.

But. It. Won’t. Stop.

Not until I’m wide awake and her belly is full. Like a baby that cries non-stop until you finally give in and pick him up, goes my nightly routine. Oh, it’s rather late in the game to teach this old dog new tricks. It’s easier for me to just get up, feed her and then snuggle back for the rest of my night’s sleep rather than try to break her of this obnoxious habit at such an ungodly hour of the night.  

The truth is, I caved in a long time ago. I wanted peace, and I wanted sleep, so I took the easy road so I could get both. The road that got Lola what she wanted and got me what I wanted. But it wasn’t a win-win. It was a win for her and a loss for me, but the barking stopped, so I guess I take that as a 5th place runner-up win.

Lola’s middle of the night bark is a lot like a bad habit that starts out small and timid. Then, somehow, without your noticing, it owns you. It wants its way, like it or not.

It speaks ever so quietly to you in the beginning and over time, it has found its voice and demands that you listen. It consumes your attention and robs you of your time.  You are now a hostage to its demands.

But how do you break free? How do you stop the triggers that so easily entice you into repeating that bad habit over and over again?

Ephesians 4:27 says, “Do not give the devil an opportunity.” An opportunity.  I gave an opportunity and a bad habit was created for both Lola and me.

What about you? Do you have a bad habit that has ensnared you, one little bark at a time? As you take a few minutes to reflect, ask the Lord to help you take back the opportunity that you gave the enemy.  “So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you.” James 4:7.

The Lord wants to give you victory, not a 5th place runner-up kind of win. He wants you to have complete victory over your bad habits. “Victory comes from you, O Lord.” Psalm 3:8. 

Do you want freedom from your bad habits, no matter what they are? Ask the Lord for His help. Why not start today, but I wouldn’t recommend starting at 3:00 AM.

What now!

It’s 4:30 AM. I am awake and drinking coffee. I didn’t need an alarm to wake me. I’m mentally preparing my mind and heart for another awesome Sunday in KidZTown, like I’ve done for the last 20+ years…it’s in my DNA.

For you and your family, tomorrow will be different. Way different.

For your school-age children, their world has changed. Dramatically.

You’ve been on your phone most of the day. The TV has been on the news channel continually and you finally made it back from your TP run, empty-handed, but not without some frustration. So you vent. I did.

Children are like sponges. They absorb your attitude. Are you frustrated? They can tell. Are you worried? They know. Are you concerned about what your new normal will look like? They are, too.

Although these next few weeks may be uncertain, we are certain that the Lord has us in his strong, right arm. Psalm 89:13. Point your children to the Lord. They need to see your faith and your confidence in Him as He works everything out for our good and His glory.

For those parents who are blessed to be able to work from home, your elementary age children will still need and want your attention throughout the day. Your employer knows it’s going to be a challenge, but also knows you’re going to try your best to make it work. You may need to adjust your schedule to work in the evenings or at night, if possible. Perhaps you could enlist a relative or family friend to assist you, so you can work more productively. From what I’ve read from pediatricians and other experts, it’s best to stay within the circle of your immediate family or close friends, which limits the risk of exposure to your family.

Here are 5 tips to help make your day go smoothly:

  1. Make a workable schedule together – block off times when you absolutely need to focus on your work; make STOP and GO signs so your children can know when they can approach you..for yet another snack. Goodness… why are these kids so hungry? BONUS TIP: make and put your children’s names on some individual snack bags and water or juice cups that your children can enjoy without asking for your permission or your help.
  2. Set up boundaries – decide together what is permissible and what isn’t; what is an emergency and what isn’t.
  3. Choose some independent kid-friendly activities – movies, videos, crafts, books, puzzles, art projects or games that they can safely choose to do on their own, without your constant intervention or help.
  4. Take frequent breaks – eat your meals together. It’s a great way for children to stay in their regular daytime routine. Go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Check in often to make sure they are following the plan, staying safe and feeling connected. Silence may be golden…it could also mean something’s up!
  5. Pray and laugh together – find moments when you can pray together. It helps bring them back in focus. Laugh. A lot. Do some silly things together. Make memories. Your children weren’t here for Katrina, but they will remember COVID-19. We all will. I heard about one little boy who gave his mom a great big kiss and said, “Now you’ve got the “Corner Virus” with me.” God’s got this…we’re in HIS corner.


Big sister had just come back from a weekend retreat with her youth group – you know how it goes –  the after-glow was still encircling her head and her feet weren’t quite on the ground yet. She sees her little brother in the den, playing with little brother toys; she gently cups his face in her hands and says the most precious thing ever to him! “Jacob, say ‘I love Jesus Christ!'” And Jacob, putting down his little brother toy and looks straight into her eyes and says, “I love Chicken and Rice” and continues his play…gotta love the moment!