Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I have all that I need.

Feeling completely exhausted, terribly hormonal and on the verge of parental defeat, I sat down in my corner chair with a devotional and my Bible.  Within minutes, I'd landed on Psalm 23:1-4.  At first, I was tempted to blow through it...  I've heard it so many times that I'd honestly quit hearing it.  Till tonight.

Searching for refuge and encouragement, I slowly took in the words. 

"The Lord is my shepherd.  I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength.  He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me."

Trust God's leading ... And don't try to take control back.
Feeling ill-equipped or in over my head?  I have all that I need.
Exhausted?  Remember the green meadows.
House chaotic?  There are peaceful streams, too.
Maxed out?  Dig deep - he's placed the strength within me.
Feeling alone or desperate?  God is there.
Scared?  His protection and comfort are there for the taking.

After a little reading and prayer, I'm still tired, but emotionally rejuvenated.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

His Mighty Warrior

When we realized that our bedtime routine needed a little tweaking, we headed to a local Christian book store.  We had dozens of little-kid Bible story books, and probably half a dozen adult Bibles, but Zach is really in-between the two at this point.  He can just about quote the little-kid stories, but he doesn't know how to apply the adult Bible (which he's very interested in) to his life.

Enter...  Incredible devotionals for really neat boys!

We bought several different books the other day, but his very favorite is His Mighty Warrior.  I cannot say enough great things about this book!  For each topic, there is scripture, a letter from God to his Mighty Warrior (what little boy wouldn't love that?), and a prayer for the child to incorporate into their prayer life.

Love, love, love these devotionals!  They are prompting such deep discussions among our family and with our Heavenly Father.  This book is incredible.

After I'd jotted down the kids' prayer lists tonight, Zach just did not feel finished...  He sat down with His Mighty Warrior for another 15 minutes, and added to his prayer list.  In his own words.  In his own handwriting.

I love the heart of this Mighty Warrior.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Prayer journal

"Does this mean we have to become spies?"

That's what Zach asked when he first learned about a prayer journal.  You know, that part where you look back over previous prayer requests and see how God worked things out.  He was trying to figure out how he'd know if a friend changed a behavior, or if someone got over their cold, or if an orphan was happy.

I do love how the child's mind works and how the most innocent questions come flying out without reservation.

I've had several prayer journals myself, but this is a first for the boys.  I thought it would be a good way for them to list prayer items during the bedtime routine, rather than relying on memory ... and ending up with a prayer that sounds something like, "Dear God, uh ... Thank you for cows ... I can't remember anything else. Amen."

Although it is merely a standard school spiral, this prayer journal has proven to be remarkably thought-provoking and has been a wonderful tool in organizing their conversations with God.  (My type-A organizer is over the moon making his lists!)  It provides a blank sheet every day for them to fill with details for their Heavenly Father.  They are so excited about this simple little spiral...  They leave nothing out.  Every kid (everyONE, really) should have one!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When mothers pray

There are a lot of things that I simply do not worry about.  Weather.  Finances.  Marriage.  Health.  Death.  Salvation.  Kids acing tests and ruling the sports scene.

I don't worry about these things, but I certainly invest in these areas and try to make wise choices.  I just don't stew or worry over what might or might not happen.

I do, however, worry about my people's happiness.  Their hearts.  Bryan's and the kids'...  If they're struggling, I'm struggling.

And, this comes as a complete shock, I know ... but I often forget to pray immediately when trouble starts to rear its ugly head.  I swing into fix-it mode and start brainstorming what needs to happen to turn things around.

Am I ever going to learn?  Am I ever going to stop tasking and instead pray first?!?!

I've decided that Bryan and the kids should be tattooed on their foreheads - Just Pray.  That way every time I see them, I'll be reminded to lift them up, surrendering them to their Heavenly Father and his perfect plan.

These past several months have brought more parenting heartache, confusion and surprise than I could have anticipated when motherhood was merely a pipe-dream.  And if I did imagine that these issues and emotions would arise, I certainly didn't think it would happen before puberty.

I'm not always very smart, but I will say that I've made wonderful choices in friends and confidants!  I'm convinced that my friend Carol prays for my family more than I do.  I talk to her, she listens, she encourages, she prays ... and I listen to her, take her practical advice, and completely forget to pray.

Kids, if you're reading this, stop right now and thank God for Miss Carol.  She's a gift to our family, for sure.  I'd be a much worse mom if not for her.

So...  It occurred to me (well into the drama and heartache) that I needed to cover my family in prayer, and I immediately began doing so - again.  Knowing that I will probably fall out of this habit as soon as things mellow out.  Oh, how I wish I'd be better at this...  But, I digress.

I began praying, and peace invaded.

My tears and quivering voice disappeared.

My thoughts were directed and concise.

Peace has been ... Having a conversation with my child while driving 75 miles per hour down the highway and not wrecking when he told me about disturbing conversations happening among friends.

Peace has been ... Responding calmly and encouragingly when my son needed my reassurance and guidance, perhaps more than he's ever needed it before.

Peace has been ... Relaying this information to my husband over the phone, without feeling completely overwhelmed, and without freaking out when he replied, "I feel like I could throw up.".  (Surely I'm not alone in holding it together just long enough to melt down to my husband?)

Peace has been ... Sleeping on it.  Processing slowly and graciously and not responding from emotion, anger, worry, or fear.

Peace has been ... Allowing my husband to speak with the necessary parties without hesitation, without cancelling my day to be there, and without worrying or micromanaging what would be said.  (Who am I?)

Peace has been ... So much easier.  A gift in the middle of crisis.

Thank you, God, for hearing our desperate cries and meeting us where we're at.  We're a mess without you.

"When the love of a mother for her child is connected with God's power through prayer, an irresistible force is released that changes people (including us), situations, schools and even communities."  Cheri Fuller, When Mothers Pray.

"We can't control all the forces that try to undo our careful training and nurture.  We can't always pick them up, kiss the hurt, and make everything better, especially when they get big enough to be on the playing field.  But we can follow Hannah's example by scooping them up and carrying them to Jesus, who loves our children more than we ever could." Cheri Fuller, When Mothers Pray.

"Rise during the night and cry out.  Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord.  Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger." Lamentations 2:19

Scripture to strive towards:

"I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live."  Psalm 116:1-2

Will I call on him as long as I live?  Will I remember, surrender, give up my control ... and call on him always?  He hears, and he answers.  I'm the uncooperative one.