On the Altar

Photographer: Vanessa Myers Collins


From the moment I became a mother 27 years ago, I began to experience an overwhelming fear of losing a child to death.

Soon after my first baby was born, she began showing signs of apnea; Amanda literally stopped breathing and would turn blue! As this always seemed to happen when I was alone with her, it was hard to get anyone to understand how serious it was until after one particularly bad episode when we were at her grandmother’s house. She was hospitalized and tests revealed that she experienced apnea an average of 18-20 times during every four hour sleeping period! We were trained in CPR and our ten week old baby was sent home on an apnea monitor. Scary stuff for a new mom of nineteen.

It seemed that apnea monitor went off constantly and I became a nervous wreck! We moved in with my husband’s parents, mainly because I was afraid to be left alone with my baby for fear she would die.

Our second child was screened at birth and failed the test. In fact, our first six children were all prescribed apnea monitors for the first six to eighteen months of their lives.

My fears though, went beyond the threat of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; I was terrified every time I heard “THE SCREAM” (the cry that lets you know “I’m really hurt!”). And each time one of my little ones became ill I was sure of two things: 1) They had contracted some rare, fatal illness and 2) It was my fault.

The Lord began dealing with me on this issue soon after I became His child in 1997. What I discovered is that fear originates from Satan and is a result of lack of trust. Jesus wants me to walk in victory, not cower to the enemy. As I studied the story of Abraham and Isaac, I felt prompted to place each of my precious children on the altar.

I prayed something like this:

Father in heaven, these are Your children; You have only loaned them to me. You know what’s best for them better than I do. I thank You for these eternal souls that You’ve entrusted to me. Now Father I desire to place (child’s name) on the altar. I am giving (him/her) back to You and pray that Your will be done in his/her life. I pray also that You give me the necessary grace to accept Your plan for this child’s life and the wisdom to guide him/her. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

As I prayed this prayer for each child, my fears abated. Of course there have been times the Lord has seen fit to remind me of the vows I made. Like when MacKenzie ate berries that I was sure were poisonous. And when Isaac fell as a toddler and broke his arm. And especially when Stephanie was nearly run over by a speeding car. Then there was Amanda’s car accident…

Of course, I do all that I can to keep my children safe and healthy (although after reading this, it could make a person wonder!), but if I’m not trusting the Lord with them, I will pull my children right off the altar and all those old fears come back with a vengeance.

Are you a fearful mom? Perhaps the Lord is asking you to place your babes on the altar…

This post was shared at:
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• Domestically Divine
• Titus 2sdays
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  1. says

    Hi Cheryl,
    What a scary thing for you to go through with the Sleep apnea thing. So happy your faith has helped you though it.

    Just wanted to let you know, for some reason blogger is not letting me comment again on your blog. As soon as they get their issues worked through, I will try again. I did find out that using the pop up window for comments is suppose to help… but not sure on that.

    • says

      I’m sorry you are experiencing such difficulty with leaving comments. Others have complained they can’t access my blog via Internet Explorer. Not sure what is going on there. But I’m glad you haven’t given up and am grateful for your encouragement!

  2. says

    Oh, I feel for you. Both of my babies had trouble right after birth, but nothing after that. But with my first I hardly slept because I was fearful of SIDS. With my second, I was less fearful and I just would pray every night that God would protect her. That altar is tough, but it’s the only place to lay our mother fears. I keep reminding myself that these are HIS children and I’m just privileged to care for them.

  3. says

    Thank you for this frank/open story. I’m very glad you have written your prayer in your blog. I also know fear. (On a different health issues) and have my son several times laid down in God hands. And every time I do that I experience a kind of happiness. Although I’m still scared some times. But I know that his life is in God’s hands. No matter what happens …

    • says

      Rita, I know for me that rather than allowing my fears to control me, as long as I take them to the Lord, they have no power over me. Praise God that we have His assurance that He works all things for our good and His glory! (Romans 8:28).

  4. Alyssa says

    My baby girl was stillborn April 2, 2011 so I know what it’s like to lose a child. I have prayed a similar prayer for my three living children because I know Jesus can call them home at any time…..once you do lose a child and come through it alive, it definately makes you realize how precious a gift life truly is! Blessings!!

    • says

      “Those who go through the loss of a child and trust in the Lord discover a comfort and intimacy with the Lord that most people never experience.” From the movie Courageous. We just watched this last night and your words reminded me of this scene. I am so sorry for your loss, Alyssa, and I pray for God’s healing comfort for your heart.

      • Alyssa says

        Thank you for the prayers! My husband and I have seen that movie as well and can completely relate! That statement is very true; I now know that no matter what happens, my relationship with God can only get stronger. He truly is my rock!

  5. Severson Vicki says

    Wow- I feel like this was written specifically for me!
    I have the same fears and they controll me- every sniffle is
    Menegitis, every fever a sign of Cancer. I am so thankful for this post
    and I’m going to follow your advice TODAY!

    • says

      Though we have a responsibility to care for our children, we must come to a point where we realize that we can’t control everything that happens in their lives. The Lord has shown me time and again that HE protects my children much better than I ever could. May you experience total freedom from your fears!

  6. says

    I know how scary it is to have a child who stops breathing. My youngerst (5 years old now) quit breathing many times as a baby, and was in the hospital frequently. God is faithful and provides strength during those hard times, and even now as he still has some health problems. Every day I have to remember to give him and his future to God, because I forget and try to hold onto myself.

    • says

      I’m sure you are learning, as I am that some of the most powerful lessons the Lord teaches me have been during times of serious crisis with my children. I try to remember to record these experiences in my journal so that the next time we begin walking into the valley, I can look back and see all that He has done before.

  7. Anonymous says

    Our little guys spent 4 and 7 weeks in the NICU, with our smaller twin coming home on oxygen and a monitor. I slept alongside him for months in anticipation of the monitor going off, fear he would stop breathing (my cousin had lost his daughter to SIDS). We had prayed incessantly for the 10 weeks I was on bedrest after a membrane rupture, and here I was, terrified God would take one of them now. It is still a struggle now that they are two, but God reminds me to trust him every day. Thank you for your refreshingly honest post!

    • says

      I went through something similar with our 7th child (our first son), whom we’d decided not to use the monitor with unless it was medically necessary (it wasn’t). I had come to depend on the monitor rather than the Lord and I sensed it had become a trust issue. I would hold my breath at times when I would go check on him. But the Lord was using that situation to grow me in my walk with Him.

  8. Bethanynlewis says

    Thank you so much for writing this! My 2 year old daughter and I were hit by a tractor trailer on the highway a few months ago, and although the Lord protected us and we walked away with only minor injuries, I have been battling the fear of something happening to them daily. Rather than focusing on what He did for us that day, I find myself worrying instead about the future. I need to give them to the altar and hopefully my fear will be taken and replaced with peace! Thanks again!

    • says

      I think it’s a process of not only putting them on the altar, but to keep taking them back there until we are no longer controlled by our fears. Praise the Lord for His divine protection for you and your daughter!

  9. Raising Mighty Arrows says

    Such a GREAT post, Cheryl. I think it would be “abnormal” not to feel fear. Thank you for sharing. :)

  10. says

    What a great and timely post for me. Tomorrow is my son’s birthday, and as each birthday passes I grow more and more fearful of letting go especially. I too have dealt with fear of losing him. I really do not know what I would do, but your prayer is my prayer. He is the Lord’s. And God may do with Him as He pleases.

  11. says

    God can do what we can not. This was such a good reminder to me about my own fears. I need to pray a prayer similar to yours, and give Him permission to change me!

  12. loraineandheath says

    Yep, i am a fearful mom. I love that part that when we pull them off of the altar, fear comes back with a vengeance. so true! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Sharon says

    I am not only a fearful Mom, but a fearful person in general. Thank you so much for sharing, and especially sharing your prayer. I’m going to be using it.

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