Category Archives: Praying

Writing in the Midst of Parenting

the gift of children

There is an element of writing about parenting, in the midst of parenting, that is extremely difficult. Impossible, sometimes. At least for me. You have to take a step back. In order to write something, you need perspective. But then, at the same time, writing (at least for me) is what often brings perspective. Out of the sludge of words and thoughts and conflicting emotions, something rises to the foreground of the mind and is, in itself, some sort of answer. Or at least it is the right question. Or a step in that direction.

I took a sabbatical from writing in this blog for about a year. In 2014. I couldn’t write about parenting. I felt engulfed in the very thing I was writing about. How can I give perspective if I feel I have none? What’s the purpose? But it always comes back. Not the obligation to write, but the desire to do so. My very own therapeutic process, for all the world to see. Okay, not exactly. There is more of a purpose for this blog, I would hope.

To connect with parents who, like me, are often in the thick of parenting and feel they can’t step back enough to get perspective. It happens to us all. We all need some outside help at times.

Like today, when I was teaching at my kids’ school in the morning. They were playing at recess and one of the younger girls came up to the table where I sat. She was near tears, saying that Aiden looked angry at her and didn’t want to play with her. Aiden is my son. He’s nearly seven. I wanted to get to the bottom of the issue, so waved him over.

He was upset. He said that he didn’t want to play with kindergarten students because they always want to play their game and even if they play what he wants to play, they change it to make it their game. I understood where he was coming from, the youngest in our family, often expected to join in what the older two are playing. He’s the “older” kid on the playground, at least compared to the kindergarten students; shouldn’t he be able to control the game? I understood, but I didn’t agree.

I explained to him that it wasn’t nice to make someone feel that you didn’t want to play with them. I didn’t delve into the deeper issues that might have been going on in his head. I simply asked him to let his friend know he wasn’t mad at her.

He didn’t. And his face grew angrier. I didn’t know what to do.

His main teacher was sitting at the table, and she called him over. She shared a story about having to choose anger or forgiveness in a personal situation she had faced. I think he got it. Whether he took it to heart or not, I appreciate her effort. Stepping in and trying to help my son understand, not only the effects of behavior, but the importance of choosing to have a happy heart.

It’s not that everything was solved that instant. Another issue rose later that day at school, and I heard about it when the kids got home. My husband and I talked with Aiden together. We prayed with him.

We don’t have the answers to every situation that arises. Sometimes we feel a little stuck in the middle of things, when all we can do is pray and trust God to work in the hearts and lives of our children.

But in all of it, we are blessed to have friends and teachers and family who care about our kids, who want to see them grow up to make a positive difference in the world, who tell them that God has a plan for their lives. Because it’s so true, and who knows? Maybe hearing that one story, or listening to that one song, or sermon, will be that thing they remember years later. The things that reminds them, and helps them believe they have a unique purpose. That they can change the world. That God loves them no matter where they go or what they choose in life.

Writing in the midst of parenting is something like parenting in the midst of parenting. You don’t really have much of a choice. You take it one day at a time. And you’re grateful that you’re not alone.

The Best A Parent Can Do (School Begins)

school year beginsSchool begins in less than a week for my children. For many school districts, it is already in full swing, having begun on the 17th, or even the 10th, of August.

Many parents, mothers especially, are thrilled about school starting up again. I have seen numerous posts with humorous photos and quotes about the fact that kids will be heading back to school. They will be looked after for the greater part of the weekdays. They will be educated. They won’t be around to say, “I’m bored.”

But I have mixed feelings about the start of the 2015-2016 school year. Last school year was a challenge for each of my children. As I mentioned in an article for the CAA Newsletter earlier this summer, my two older children brought schoolwork home nearly every afternoon. And they didn’t always finish it.

It was my youngest son’s first year at school, which held its own set of challenges. I spent a few hours at their school on most days, so my son began to expect having me around. When I had to leave each day to attend my own classes, he grew very emotional. A couple of times, he had emotional meltdowns. Once he ran out into the parking lot to say goodbye, when I was still inside the school and had no idea he had gone outside.

Although the summer has been filled with my work-from-home editing projects, it has been wonderful to have the kids at home. Nearby. It’s been fun to read in the evenings (Lord of the Rings with my ten-year-old; the Little House series with my eight-year-old). We’ve enjoyed baking projects, party planning, and camping. We got a puppy and figured out how to house-train her. The summer has flown past.

On the same day my kids start school, I start classes as well. I’ve registered for 20 units, and will also be helping out at the kids’ school part-time, not counting my freelance editing work. Needless to say, our days will grow a lot more packed. Maybe that’s what contributes to my mixed feelings about the upcoming school year. Will I be able to juggle everything and still make time for those things every parent should be able to fit in? Like reading with the kids or taking day trips on the weekend? Will the days be consumed with homework … mine and theirs? Will I grow short-tempered and sharp because my mind is on a myriad of tasks?

Those are some of my concerns, but I know all parents have their unique set of concerns and questions. Kids starting new schools, or leaving home for the first time. Will they make friends? Will they do well in school? Will they have kind teachers?

In spite of the questions, the best we can do is pray. For this school year, yes. For their workload and friendships, for their education and growth.

And also for the future. That each thing they learn, each difficulty they confront, each challenge they face, will be part of what grows them into caring, loving, well-balanced adults. Those who, most of all, love God, love others. Those who know how much they are loved and cherished by us parents, who hardly know how to express it. And by God, who expressed it best in the love of His own Son.

Prayer of a Child at the Start of School

Prayer at the beginning of School

Lord Make Me Childlike

prayer to be childlike

“Lord, make me childlike. Deliver me from the urge to compete with another for place or prestige or position. I would be simple and artless as a little child.

Deliver me from pose and pretense. Forgive me for thinking of myself. Help me to forget myself and find my true peace in beholding Thee. That Thou mayest answer this prayer, I humble myself before Thee.

Lay upon me Thy easy yoke of self-forgetfulness that through it I may find rest. Amen”

– A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

A Praying Parent

a smiling girl

Often parenting seems like a responsibility so great it is easy to feel weary under the daily burden.

I’m reading through a book that instead makes me feel like rising to the challenge. The title is Praying Circles around your Children, written by Mark Batterson.

Chapter one holds an awesome promise for any parent:

Your worst mistakes double as your greatest opportunities.

Those words jumped out at me, because I probably couldn’t count on two hands the mistakes I make as a mom … in one day (and on a not-so-great day, sometimes I make that many mistakes in one hour).

The book goes on to explain why our mistakes are opportunities:

Your mistakes give you the opportunity to teach them one of the most important lessons they’ll ever learn – how to say “I’m sorry.”

I have a very simple parenting philosophy that boils down to just three words: please, sorry, and thanks. If all else fails, I want to teach my kids to be really good at saying these words. … If they master these three words, they’re well on their way to great marriages, great friendships, or great relationships with God.

Those words jumped out at me, as I was just writing last week about the importance of being able to say sorry. The next paragraph jumped out even more. You know how sometimes you feel something has been written just for you?

You don’t have to do everything right as a parent, but there is one thing you cannot afford to get wrong.

That one thing is prayer.

You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent. There is nothing you can do that will have a higher return on investment. In fact, the dividends are eternal.

Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren, and every generation that follows.

Ever been called a prophet before? Me neither.

But I can’t think of anything more awesome (or more sobering) than helping to shape the destinies of my children and their children. Helping them to reach for the future … not the hopes or desires or dreams I have for them – but the unique and awesome destiny God has created for them before time began.

Realizing that I, as a parent, have such a great calling makes me feel like squaring my shoulders and rising to the challenge, which I can only do by falling on my knees in prayer.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My Mom at 16

My Mom at 16

Compared to some mothers (my mom, for starters), I’m fairly new to the motherhood game. This is my tenth Mother’s Day as a mom.

It seems the first where recent months have been filled with never-before-faced issues with my children. If you are a parent, the fact that I’ve been at it for roughly ten years has probably clued you in on an important factor: my oldest is a “tween.”

Up until now, I looked back on my teen years and comforted myself with the thought that, “By the time I was 12, I knew what I wanted to do in life. By the time I was 15, I was doing it.” (Never mind the fact that it was over ten years later that I discovered what I REALLY loved doing: writing. The experiences leading to that discovery served and helped me in a thousand great ways … but I’m rabbit trailing.)

In any case, I never went through a horrendous, wrenching “teen stage” and simply assumed the whole teenhood-filled-with-angst was overrated. Something modern culture welcomed with open arms to the detriment of expecting a progressive development of maturity.

But up there on my soapbox, I neglected to clearly glance back at my own tweenhood. It started when I was about nine. I dealt with self-doubt, anxiety, comparing, and questioning. A lot of it went on in my head because I rarely felt comfortable venting negativity about myself, my siblings, and my sorry lot in life. After all, someone might have actually talked some sense into me, and who wants to see clearly when they’re taking a mental mud bath?

So I’m remembering those tween days and looking with increasing trepidation upon my children entering that very stage. (My oldest is now nine.) Considering the moodiness, sullenness, and downright contrariness I have been facing regularly, I’m wondering if it’s too late to have second thoughts about this stage of parenting. (Are other options available?)

As my mom drove me to a book sale last week, I talked to her about some of my parenting concerns. She listened, gave me a bit of advice and insight on what my kids might be thinking. She brought up considerations I hadn’t thought of. And she listened some more. Because that’s just what moms do.

I looked over at her. She survived those years. Looking at some of the things she faced with the six of us, she passed with flying colors! Then, after acing her motherhood career, she began a new career that is remarkable in every way.

My Mom, at a birthMy mother is now a home-birth midwife. I don’t know how many babies she has “caught” over the past fifteen years, but I know that her love, concern, and prayers have blessed scores of mommies, babies, and dads  in countless ways.

I’ve got the world’s best mom. I know that for a fact. I also know that with her faith and prayers, this parenting thing will turn out okay. Yes, even parenting tweens. And beyond that, teens. And beyond that …

Okay, I’ll try not to get ahead of myself.

Today is today … and it’s Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day! To my terrific mom, and to all you awesome mothers, of babies, kids, tweens, teens, or adults. They’ll always be your children. And your love for them is unconditional.

Because that’s just what moms do.

A Mother’s Prayer

Three ChildrenLord, my children are growing so fast. They’re so precious to you. And to me. Watch over them, Jesus. Their hearts. Their spirits. Their minds. Their bodies.

Only you know what you have in store for them. What you will ask of them. How you have planned to them to learn of you and work with you to change the world.

Work in their lives to prepare them for the future you have designed for each one specifically. Give them strength, wisdom, and joy. Help them to fulfill their unique destinies. To make a different in this world – whether small or great. The difference you have planned in the way you have ordained.

And help me as their mother to watch over them as well. To teach them. To train them. To be an image of your love, your patience, your insight, your care.

Things will come up today that will threaten my peace or theirs. Bring your spirit full and wondrous into this household, your love that veils all things that are wrong or hurtful or sad. Instead, bring hope, a spirit of humility and love, a mind of eagerness and wonder, a heart of strength and purpose.

Help me remember, today and every day, that they are your children given to me on loan for only a short time. Help me love and care for them with my whole heart … and to remember your love and care for them as a Father.

Thank you for your love and your care for all of us, your children.

To Believe

This week, I started a blog on the theme of finding a purposed life.

This evening, while I was cooking dinner, I remembered a song that was shown during the writer’s conference I attended earlier this month. The song, “To Believe,” is sung by Jackie Evancho, a ten-year-old girl with the voice of an angel. When I first heard it, tears came to my eyes at the depth of the words … and of the girl who sang the song.

This evening, I showed it to my husband, and he called the kids in to watch it. Again, I was moved to tears. At the song, yes, and the singer. And also at the thought that such a young girl has found her purpose — stated in her prayer in the middle of the song:

Father, as you see, I’m just a child
And there’s so much to understand
But if Your Grace should surround me
Then I’ll do the best I can
I promise, I’ll do the very best I can

My prayer for my children is that they will make this the prayer of their hearts as well. And that they will believe … always believe, that their lives have a purpose, that their every prayer is heard, and that they are made in the loving image of God.

To Believe

Prayer for Oklahoma Families

prayer for Oklahoma familiesFather in Heaven,

Families were torn apart this past week when a tornado ripped through their homes and devastated their lives.

Parents lost children. I can’t imagine the sorrow and pain they face now, but you know, and you care.

Lord, bring them comfort.

Help them to know their children are your children too, and that you hold them in your arms, safe and secure in a place where there is no more sorrow or fear.

These same parents are having to now rebuild their homes, and their lives. Be their foundation as they build. Be their cornerstone, and their strong tower.

And as they rebuild, let them find rest and hope beneath the shadow of your wing.

Children lost parents. From one day to the next, their world has become a frightening and unsure place.

Father, they are your children, and you care for them like no other. Give them comfort and draw them near.

Let angels be at their side, so close they can feel them and know they are not alone.

As they try to make sense of their world, let them see through your eyes, and help them know there is a home beyond this one, a forever home, where they will be together again.

Pour grace, hope, and love into each life affected by this tragedy as only you can. Grace that grows greater and stronger than the deepest sorrow. Hope that sees beyond the rubble of today. And love, your love, that lasts forever. It goes beyond the temporary separation of death by entwining each life with your golden strands of love that will never be severed or broken.

In the name of Jesus, who took time for the children and said that the Father’s kingdom is made up of ones like them, be with your children — young and old — and help them find hope and healing in your arms.

Amen.

Rising to the Challenge

Rising to the ChallengeOften parenting seems like a responsibility so great it is easy to feel weary under the daily burden.

I’m reading through a book that instead makes me feel like rising to the challenge. The title is Praying Circles around your Children, written by Mark Batterson.

Chapter one holds an awesome promise for any parent:

Your worst mistakes double as your greatest opportunities.

Those words jumped out at me, because I probably couldn’t count on two hands the mistakes I make as a mom … in one day (and on a not-so-great day, sometimes I make that many mistakes in one hour).

The book goes on to explain why our mistakes are opportunities:

Your mistakes give you the opportunity to teach them one of the most important lessons they’ll ever learn – how to say “I’m sorry.”

I have a very simple parenting philosophy that boils down to just three words: please, sorry, and thanks. If all else fails, I want to teach my kids to be really good at saying these words. … If they master these three words, they’re well on their way to great marriages, great friendships, or great relationships with God.

Those words jumped out at me, as I was just writing last week about the importance of being able to say sorry. The next paragraph jumped out even more. You know how sometimes you feel something has been written just for you?

You don’t have to do everything right as a parent, but there is one thing you cannot afford to get wrong.

That one thing is prayer.

You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. Prayer is your highest privilege as a parent. There is nothing you can do that will have a higher return on investment. In fact, the dividends are eternal.

Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren, and every generation that follows.

Ever been called a prophet before? Me neither.

But I can think of anything more awesome (or more sobering) than helping to shape the destinies of my children and their children. Helping them to reach – not the hopes or desires or dreams I have for them – but the unique and awesome destiny God has created for them before time began.

To realize that I, as a parent, have such a great calling makes me feel like squaring my shoulders and rising to the challenge, which I can only do by falling on my knees in prayer.