Thank you so much for your comments this weekend about breakfast and back-to-school tips. I loved reading them all, and wish I could respond personally to each. But please know much I appreciate you taking the time to write them.
On Friday, Karen Ehman posted some great recipes, and offered a giveaway of her book, “The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized,” plus a Target gift card. I’m happy to announce that Gwen (posting on August 31 at 11:57 am) was selected in a random number drawing to win. Gwen, I’ll be sending you an email today. Now on to the back-to-school series.
Today’s message has to do with prayer. As a mother of four teenagers and a 21-year-old, I find my prayers have a resounding similarity: “Father, please protect (insert child’s name) at (insert location).” I usually elaborate on why that particular child needs protection, and move on to the next request for help.
You might call me a worrier. Statistics don’t help to curb my worry. I know that if 99% of people don’t get hurt walking to McDonalds, there is 1% that do. And, you guessed it, I’m certain someone I love will be in that 1%.
Over the years, God has addressed this issue in my life, and revealed my lack of faith in His ability to protect (as I mentioned last week). God has also brought miraculous healing over paralyzing fear. Nevertheless, I still found my prayers focusing on keeping my children safe. Until I heard a pastor challenge parents to shoot high for their children in prayer.
It didn’t take a detailed self-assessment to realize I’d reduced my prayers to the common denominator of safety. While that is critically important, I realized I had replaced my vision for their futures with worry about their present. I’ve been caring for the needs of children for 21 years, and I find myself consumed at times with just making it through the day.
While I know I should be praying for more than that, I sometimes find it hard to rise above the daily needs and routines, and cast a vision for the future. Thankfully, the Bible tells the story of one mother who had a wonderful vision for her child’s future. Her name was Hannah.
Hannah’s story is told in First Samuel. She was the beloved wife of Elkanah, but she could not conceive a child. Hannah prayed for God to give her a child, and promised to give her child back to the Lord all the days of his life (1 Samuel 1:11). God heard that prayer and promise, and blessed Hannah with a son, whom she named Samuel.
Hannah kept true to her oath to offer her son to the Lord, and after she had weaned him, she took Samuel to Eli the priest for training. Hannah continued to bless her son’s calling, and every year made him a linen ephod (robe) and took it to him when she and her husband offered sacrifices.
Hannah could have stopped her prayers at the gift of a baby. Anyone who has ever struggled with infertility knows that it can be all consuming. Yet Hannah wanted more than a baby to treasure and love. Her plan wasn’t for a child she could keep to herself. Hannah had a vision for a child who would serve the Lord all the days of his life. God heard and answered that prayer.
Praying like Hannah pushes me out of my routine. Most nights as I fall into bed, I’m thankful my children have made it through another day. I’ve lost a niece in a car accident, and so I’m particularly grateful for every breath. And yet, I’m missing a powerful opportunity to partner with God for their future when I stop my prayers at protection.
As we start a new school year, I’m challenged to expand my prayers for my children. I want to re-dedicate my three sons and two daughters to God for His service. I’m committing to pray boldly for God to use them in a mighty way, and for them to be lights in the darkness. I believe God wants to do greater things in our children’s lives than we can imagine. I hope you’ll join me in increased prayers for our children.
I Samuel 1:27-28, “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.”
Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
James 1:5-7, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
Last Friday, Karen wrote about pre-planning and pre-making breakfasts in order to make mornings less chaotic. And I wanted to add more on the topic of mornings.
For years, I had no control over our mornings. I worked hard to bring order to my home and schedule, and yet mornings did me in. It seemed no matter what I tried, I’d get frustrated, lose my cool, and someone left the house mad or hurt every morning. That was not how I wanted to start our day. The morning I pointed the remote control at two bickering children and tried to turn them “off,” was the day I knew I’d lost it.
As I tried to assess the problem, I realized the TV was a common denominator. Sometimes there was conflict between the siblings over what to watch. Other times it was hard to get them away from the TV. And even when I turned on the news for myself, the noise level in the house bothered me. So I turned off the TV in the mornings. Even for myself.
I also realized we needed some structure. So I created a timed schedule, including when to wake up, eat, shower and leave the house. I posted this schedule on the refrigerator for all to see.
Amazingly, this worked. My children adapted easily, and so did I. We didn’t miss the TV. We talked more. There was less rushing around. Less forgetting things. More kindness. And everyone was happier.
If you like this idea of a schedule, you can work all kinds of things into it. You can add time for reading a book, doing a devotion or prayer. You can schedule spelling test reviews or starting the night’s dinner. Just by getting it on a schedule, makes it more likely you’ll get it done.
Have morning schedules worked for you? I’d love to hear about it. Please post a comment.
Thanks for joining me today.
Grace & Peace,