A Back to School Prayer for our Kids

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Sometimes I get frustrated that the Bible gives us such little explicit instruction on the task of raising children.  Honestly, there are few things that matter more than raising up the next generation to love the Lord.  I have been a little weepy at the thought of my firstborn starting first grade this week.  His love for life and zeal for God is amazing (and encourages me daily), but there is still so much I feel like we need to teach him.

As I was pondering all of this over the weekend, I began thinking about Jesus and how Mary must have felt when he was growing up.  Obviously Jesus was the perfect Son of God and would never sin even in his youth…but I find comfort in knowing that even so, Mary and Joseph probably discussed the best ways to bring him up just like my husband and I do about our very imperfect children.  The Bible tell us so little about Jesus’s childhood.   But there is one tiny verse that encompasses the monumental years of his youth that I have been dwelling on:

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
-Luke 2:52

As school begins once again, this is the verse I am praying for my children, specifically for my oldest.  It includes three of the most important aspects of a child’s life:  mind, body, and spirit.  Each of these aspects come with their own strengths and weaknesses, with obstacles and challenges to overcome in every facet of life.

 

In Wisdom

Lord, I pray that you will allow Caleb to grow in wisdom this year.  I pray that he will learn everything he is expected to know academically.  I pray that he will be successful in his studies and that he will be a diligent worker in what is asked of him.  Most of all, Lord, I pray that you would allow Him to grow in YOUR wisdom.  Help him to learn more about your character through his interactions with others.  Help the scriptures and stories we have been sharing with him from your Word to be a lamp to his feet and a light to his path.  Give us, his parents, the wisdom to help him discern between right and wrong in the situations he is faced with this year.  Above all else, help him learn to love You more.

 

In Stature

Lord, I thank you for the lives of our children.  I thank you that they are healthy.  I pray that you will protect their bodies and help them to continue to grow strong.  Protect them from illness and harm, Lord.

As school begins, I pray that Caleb will know that he is created in your image.  I pray that he will know that is “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  I pray that he will know that You created him exactly the way that you want him to be.  At times, words from others can be cruel.  Protect his heart and help him to rest in the truth that he is a priceless gift to us and, most importantly, to You…so much so that you sent your son for him.

 

In Favor with God and Man

Lord, I pray that you would allow Caleb to be a light for you.  I pray that he would be obedient to his teachers and kind to his classmates.  I pray that he will show kindness and compassion to everyone, but especially those who are treated poorly by others.  Give him the strength to stand up for the outcasts.  I pray that he will have integrity to do the right thing even when no one is looking.  Help him to surround himself with people who will help him grow closer to you.  I pray that he will be both a leader and a follower– a follower of yours but a leader for his peers.  Help his words and actions to be pleasing to you.

 

All this I ask in the name of your son Jesus.  Amen.

 


 

No matter whether your child will be attending public school, private school, or will be homeschooled, I think this prayer is all-encompassing for what we desire for our kids.  And I fully realize I am asking God for a lot…I certainly don’t expect my children to be perfect.  In fact, I need to pray much of this same prayer for myself.  But this is what I most desire for the lives of my children.

When we place the well being of our children in God’s very capable hands through prayer, we are surrendering control to Him.  I’m not sure there is anything else as equally scary, freeing, and comforting as this.  All I know is that He is certainly more capable than I am!

 

 

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PS- I thought I would create a printable scripture card for those of us who wish to consistently pray this prayer for our kids throughout the year.  Stick it on your bathroom mirror or in the visor on your car…any place that you will see it regularly.  There are 4 identical cards on a page…you can print one for yourself and give the others to friends/neighbors if you would like.

Click on the image below to access the printable file:

 

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Is your child heading off to school soon?  What else would you add to this prayer?  

 

 

 

My Body Made Me a Mom

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It’s summer.

 

Which means that clothing is out and skin is in.  Nearly everywhere I look (online, on TV, and even out my bedroom window), I see people with tanned skin and fit bodies.  People who are running, exercising, and sunbathing…all while showcasing their near-perfect figures.

 

Having just had a baby 4 months ago, I am doing none of these things.  In fact, I am trying desperately to wear as much clothing as I possibly can while still staying cool.  Because, I can say with absolute certainty, nobody wants to see what lies beneath.  Maxi dresses and denim jackets are my new best friends.

 

Having my third baby and now being thirty, this baby weight just wants to hang on.  My stomach (which used to be flat) has become “squishy” at best, my thighs have expanded with each pregnancy (despite the fact that I am running), and my arms will occasionally wave back at me when I excitedly greet a friend or neighbor.  Oh, and I think I have lost enough hair to rival a whole family of cats.

 

To add insult to injury, the universe seems bent at reminding me of my monumental failure at being fit by showcasing moms on blogs, on TV, and on Facebook who look better than ever having just given birth a few weeks or months earlier.

 

This is not my reality.  My reality is that I can only workout one or two times a week (if that) and I am currently about as pasty white as a ghost

 

My reality is that I can try my very hardest to eat healthier and “count calories”…but that Dr. Pepper each morning is my one guilty pleasure.  And I am convinced it helps me make it through the day.

 

My reality is that I don’t have the time or energy to focus full-force on my body.  I have a husband and three kids to take care of, a relationship with God to foster, friends and family to encourage, a blog to run, and a church to attend.  I could probably get back into my pre-pre-pre-pregnancy size 4 jeans if I really wanted to…but my body is not my top priority right now.  My kids are.  My husband is.  My relationship with God is.  My friends and family are.

 

My reality is that my body has made me a mom.  Rather than cursing it for all the things that currently irritate the heck out of me, I can be thankful that I was healthy enough to carry three precious children within me.  This is a privilege I do not take lightly.

 

 My Body Made Me a Mom

 

Every pound I have gained has provided nourishment for three beautiful children.

 

Every stretch mark on my stomach a reminder that life was once formed there.

 

Every hair I have lost a memento of the thousands of prayers that have been prayed for the health and well-being of the three precious miracles that God has entrusted to me.

 

I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never get my body back.

 

And that’s okay with me…my body made me a mom, after all.

 

And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

 

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If you are reading this and you have become a mom through the beautiful act of adoption, please recognize that the same sentiment rings true for you as well.  Your body has enabled you to take care of your children and to put the needs of your family ahead of your own wants and desires (even that of a fit and fabulous bod).   :)

 

 

 

2014: The Year of Rest

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This time of year, the web is abuzz with ways to make and keep New Year’s resolutions.  Fitness inspiration, goal-setting worksheets, and cleaning schedules are all created in an effort to help us find practical ways to stick with our goals.

 

 

These are all good things…they help us live with purpose and manage our time more effectively to focus on the things that really matter.  In year’s past, I too have joined in the goal-setting fun by creating a home management binder, writing down my goals, and downloading various cleaning schedules.  In fact, just hours after I finished writing the first draft of this post, my friend Crystal’s new book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode arrived in the mail.  Much to my surprise,  I was quoted in Chapter 3 as a success story for how goal-setting has positively impacted my life (which it continues to do)!

 

 

But this year, I am resolving to make 2014 a year of contentment and rest.

 

 

No resolutions.

 

 

No goals.

 

 

No cleaning schedules.

 

 

No fitness plans.

 

 

This might have something to do with the fact that we are getting ready to embark on a major life change in the next 7 weeks that will rock our world for a while.  Or maybe it is just because I feel God’s prompting to be still and let Him do the work in me.  Or it could possibly be my own laziness cloaked in good intentions.  After all, the Good Lord (and my sweet husband) knows that I have many, MANY things that I could work on to improve myself.  And everyone knows the best way to make such changes is to create objective, measurable goals…

 

 

But I’m throwing that all out the window this year.

 

 

I’m going to embrace the person God has created me to be and let the little things go.

 

 

I’m going to try my hardest to enjoy this precious time with my kids without the stress of “doing it all” weighing on my shoulders or upholding a schedule that once seemed like a good idea but now feels like a giant burden…making me feel even worse about myself because I can’t even manage to even stick to the goals I meticulously laid out just a few short weeks ago.

 

 

The things that really need to be changed in me…the things that really matter (which are not at all related to cleaning schedules or fitness routines), I can’t do myself anyway.  These things are matters of the heart (like selfishness, self-centeredness, and pride).  Instead of focusing my time and energy on the less-important (but still good) things like fitness plans and an organized house, I’m going to pray that God will etch away a little of the ugliness in me each and every day until I am transformed by His doing, not my own.

 

 

After all, when Jesus encountered people who were worn out and exhausted trying to uphold the ridiculously high standards of the Law of Moses, he didn’t hand them a goal-setting worksheet and tell them to try harder.

 

 

Nope.  He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mt. 11:28, 30).

 

 

A light burden…rest…an easy yoke.  Deep breath.  Ahhhhhhh.

 

 

Isn’t that the way God intended it to be all along?  Are the cultural expectations of increased productivity clouding God’s vision for our life…an abundant, restful, content life???

 

 

The next time I start feeling that I’m not good enough or not accomplishing enough in this life of mine (which will probably be as early as this afternoon), I’m NOT going to take out a pen and make a to-do list.  Instead, I’m going to open the Bible to be refreshed and renewed…rested and revived.

 

 

This year will be a year of rest for me.  Not literally, of course, as the amount of sleep I get will soon be equivalent to that of a giraffe (which is about 2 hours, in case you were wondering).  :)  But a year of rest figuratively, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

 

What about you?  Could you use a little less guilt and a little more rest???

 

 

 

Leaving One Paradise for Another

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It’s amazing how a little break from the mundane day-to-day tasks of child rearing can help one’s perspective on parenting.  For the first time in several years, Prince Charming and I took a (non-business related) trip just the two of us.

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We went for a long-weekend in Mexico and had a wonderful time laying on the beach and reading books.  That’s pretty much all we did on our trip.  Some  might think this is a boring vacation but this was honestly a dream come true.

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The beach is my favorite destination on earth and unfortunately it is also over 500 miles away from where we live in any direction!   We soaked up all the sun that we could (without getting horribly burned) and were able to connect and relax together as a couple.  It was wonderful.

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As much as I loved our Mexican paradise, it made me realize how much of a paradise we had waiting for us at home.  Two healthy, happy, vibrant, joyful, rambunctious children can certainly drain our energy…but they bring us unending joy and a calling straight from God.  I cannot imagine life without them.

Parenting is hard work.  It is monotonous.  It is humbling.  It comes with accidents, sicknesses, and spills (and I certainly don’t look like the smiling mom in the Bounty commercial as I clean them up).  Parenting can strain a marriage.  It can bring us to our knees in wondering how to best raise our children.  But having the opportunity to raise a child is an incredible privilege…and when we put it into perspective, it is paradise.

 

The dictionary defines paradise as:  “a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight”.

 

Despite the hard moments, I think we will all agree that there are many moments in our journey as parents that are pure bliss and utter delight.  When your child reaches up and smiles at you for the first time, when your toddler grabs your face and says “Kissamee” (kiss me), or when your almost-kindergartener tells you that you are beautiful and the best Mommy in the whole world.  Those are the moments to savor.  Those are the moments of paradise.

 

Parenting might not be the most relaxing or peaceful calling in the world.  But if we’re all honest with ourselves, we can only lay on the beach reading books for so many days before our lives (and arms) begin to feel empty.  For me, that was exactly 2.75 days of beach laying.  :)  God has given us all a desire to do something…to make a difference in this world.  Although it might not seem like it in the day-to-day grind of life, each day that we forego our own desires to meet the needs of someone else (i.e. our children), we are making a difference.  It might seem like small and insignificant sacrifices right now…but someday those little people we are nurturing day in and day out will become big people.  Big people who are difference makers of their own.

 

Sure, the beach is amazing and we all need a little down time to relax and reconnect with our spouse (which will be a priority for my husband and I over the next several years of intense child-rearing).  But when it comes time to head home, we can do so with a huge smile on our faces…because we’re just leaving one paradise for another!

 

 

As I was writing this post, I was reminded of one of my favorite country songs when I was in high school, anticipating someday having a family ((with totally unrealistic expectations, of course).  I certainly don’t looks as happy cheesy (or skinny) as the mom in this video, but it is a great way to put the crazy life of raising kids in perspective.  Enjoy “Just Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Vassar:

 

 

 

“My Mouth Won’t Let Me”

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Little Brother is three…and we all know that being three comes with its highs and lows.  Highs being that he is becoming more independent, says the cutest things, and we get to see his personality emerge a little more every day.  The lows are the tantrums and fits.  Little Brother can occasionally (although thankfully not too terribly often) throw a fit with the best of them.  His fits typically don’t include kicking and screaming, but rather incessant whining and crying.

When he throws such a fit, I normally ask him (as calmly as I can…although sometimes it comes out not all that calmly) to either stop whining and crying or go to his room.  This is when he typically responds, in a still whining and crying voice:

“But Mommy, my mouth won’t let me.”

(But it really sounds like this in his adorable, whiney, little 3-year old voice:  But Mooooooooooooommmy, my mouf won’t wet meeeeeeeeeeee.”)

The first time I heard him say this, I wanted to burst out laughing (although I held my composure, thankyouverymuch).  The idea sounds kind of ridiculous.  He is in control of his mouth, not the other way around, and he can make himself stop.

But when I really started to think about what he was actually trying to say to me, I understood and even empathized.

When he tells me that his mouth won’t let him stop throwing a fit, my son is really saying to me:

 

“I don’t have enough self-control to stop this thing.”

“I don’t have the right coping mechanisms yet to know how to handle my disappointment in a more mature manner.”

“I just can’t do it on my own, I need someone to help me.”

 

Hmmmm…these statements sound oddly familiar to things I have said within the last five years of parenting these two precious blessings (either to myself or a trusted confidant).

 

What is wrong with me?  Why can’t I have enough self-control to wake up before my kids or keep myself from yelling at them?  Or not set a bad example in my habits (Dr. Pepper, exercising, selfishness…the list goes on).  

Why did I just say that?  I can’t believe I just said that!  

I just don’t feel mature enough as a mom to handle this.  

Lord, I can’t do it on my own.  I need YOU to help me!

 

As it turns out, my three-year old and I aren’t all that different.  Sure, I don’t typically whine and cry and throw a fit when I don’t get my way (although sometimes I do), but we both have the same feelings of not having the self-control necessary to handle certain situations and needing some help…whether it is from a parent or our Heavenly Father.

 

I smile a little bit to myself now when he says this phrase, because I want to say, “I understand, baby, I feel that way too.  Let’s figure it out together.  You ask me for help and I’ll ask God.”