A Prayer for the Start of School

 

First Day of SchoolToday is the first day of school here in Michigan. In my house we never really stopped our homeschooling over the summer but even still we’re ready for a new year, a new grade, a fresh start.

For many moms out there, I know today is hard. Many of you have already put your kiddos on the bus, some for the very first time. (Gulp!) Others took big kids to middle school or high school or watched as the child who was just a baby yesterday took their first steps across a college campus. (Even bigger gulp!)

As I sit here in my little corner of Michigan, in my classroom for two with the comforts of home, my heart is with you, friends! I’d like to give you a great big hug or pass a tissue or two. I’d like to tell you it will be okay, that they will be okay.

I’d like to cheer with you and celebrate or sit at the table in your unusually quiet kitchen for a grown up conversation and a hot cup of coffee.

Unfortunately I can’t, at least not really. But I can pray. And mamas…I am! I’m praying big time for you today. And I thought maybe, just maybe, we could grab a collective cup of coffee and take a few minutes to pray for each other. 

Because whether you’re a homeschooling mama, a preschool mama, an elementary, middle or high school mama, a college mama. A special needs mama, first day of kindergarten mama, an empty nest mama. A working mama, a stay at home mama, a single mama. A grandmama, an auntie mama or a hope to someday be mama.  We all need prayer. We need the support and love and encouragement only a fellow mama can bring. 

So will you take your mama’s heart and come before the Father with me?

 This is my prayer for you. A prayer for the first day of school and all the days thereafter… 

Dear Father, 

 Thank you for this day. Thank you for your love and your grace. Thank you especially for the fresh grace you gave us this morning as our children went back to school. 

 Please, come now and be with us. Meet us in our hearts. Bring us your peace, your comfort, your courage. Be with all the mixed emotions we’re feeling. The sadness, the fear, the doubt. The happiness, the excitement, the joy. Be with us when we think of all the things we could have done or should have done. Be with us in all the things that fill our hearts with pride. Meet us in our desires and help our ultimate desire to be found ultimately in you.

 Lord, take all these thoughts, these feelings, and cover them with your presence, your wisdom, your grace. 

 Be with our children today. Help us release them to you. Take all our hopes and dreams for them, Lord, and help us remember your way, your timing, and your will is perfect. Remind us, Lord, that our precious children were yours long before they were ours and that your heart for them and for us is good, that you love them and us more than we’ll ever know. 

 Protect them, Lord. Draw them to you. Let them walk in relationship with you all the days of their lives and use them, Lord, for your kingdom. 

 Lord, help us to claim, today, the truth that you’ve got this! You’ve got them and you’ve got us, and help us to rest in this fact. 

 Give us strength, Lord. Give us joy. Help us as we mother. Today, tomorrow, and always. Find us faithful to our families and faithful to you, Lord Jesus. 

 In your beautiful, powerful, and precious name we pray. Amen!

See you again tomorrow? I’ll be here, friends, praying for you!

If there’s anyway I can pray specifically for you please feel free to leave a comment below. And also check be sure to check out the giveaway I’m hosting here for your chance to win a copy of Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing it All by Brenda L. Yoder, the perfect resource for busy moms.

Happy first day of school, Mamas! May each day to follow be blessed!

Today Was A Fairy Tale

Lake MIOnce upon a time there was a trip to the beach that felt like a glimpse of heaven…

Last weekend I journeyed with a group of seven writer friends to a tiny blue cottage on Lake Michigan.

Throughout our weekend we talked, laughed, cried, prayed, took walks along the lakeshore, rested in the sun, worked on our writing projects and ate lots and lots of delicious food.

Coffee and chocolate were always accessible, and the weather was so perfect, and the water was so blue we couldn’t ask for a better backdrop to our weekend.

This is the first time I’ve ever gone away for a weekend with a group of ladies who love to write as much as I do. It was amazing to share this time with godly women who are in so many ways are just alike and are also in many ways different.

Flip FlopsWe were married and unmarried. Some of us had young children at home and some had children almost grown. Some wrote fiction, some non-fiction. Some of us were city girls and some came straight from the farm.

No matter our differences three common threads remained. We all love to write. We all love the Lord. And we all love each other.

When I got home and unpacked my bags I found my prayer journal tucked away in my writing bag and realized I hadn’t used it all weekend. At first I felt a pang of guilt but then I thought, no.

The entire weekend was a prayer. It was constant worship. It was communion with God.

Coming home from such a great weekend can leave one feeling a little deflated. It’s sad to realize the moment was gone. It’s easy to believe that times like these are few and far between.

Perhaps there’s some truth to that. Life is hard and it has its way of beating all things precious right out of us. But I don’t believe this is what God has for us. I believe He deeply desires for us to access this kind of friendship, this kind of prayer and worship in the midst of our every day lives.

FootprintsEspecially in our every day lives.

And friends, it can be done. A line from an old Garth Brooks songs states,

“Heaven’s not beyond the clouds, it’s for us to find here.(Lyrics from Belleau Wood)

I do believe that Heaven exists beyond this earth, but I also believe we are given glimpses of Heaven to find while we are here.

Kingdom moments are found when friends come together to pray. When loved ones gather round a table. When children laugh silly. When beauty unfurls across land and sky.

They happen when hellos make us burst with excitement. When heart level connections make tears flood our eyes. When joy flows freely from the work you do and beauty is offered to an ugly world.

These moments can be ours in abundance because prayer is not just for quiet time. Worship is not just for church. And communion with friends can be communion with God.

BeachMoments like these…prayer, worship, and communion like this…are for every thing and every day. They are for the extraordinary and the mundane. They are for the weekends spent by the lake and the weekdays spent at the office, at the grocery, at the dinner table.

The glory I experienced during my weekend away does not have to end when I get back to every day life. And the glory of heaven doesn’t have to start when we reach our eternal home.

Every day can fill with God-glory when we seek it with all our hearts.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess may you wake up this day to fairy tale found in kingdom moments. In laughter that feels like a prayer. In work that feels like worship. In friendships that feel like communion.

In days of heaven upon the earth.

Congratulations to Melanie, Alice, and Robyn  for winning the I Like Giving Giveaway. Your copy of I Like Giving will be on its way soon!

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my blog and/or shared a link. Be sure to check back soon for more fun giveaways.

What Can We Do?

Last week I met with a group of friends for coffee. As we gathered around a table full of cookies and lattes it was clear that one member of our group was not herself.

We settled in and listened as our friend shared with us her troubles. I can’t share the details of what my friend is going through, but I can attest to the fact that she is in a very serious situation which has left her feeling powerless. As we listened to her story, our hearts became troubled for her and I know that each of us wanted to do something, anything, to help.

But what could we do? In the face of a situation that is out of our control, that is serious and scary, that has heaped the weight of the world on the heart of our friend, what could we do?

After a moment of quiet reflection, one of the girls in our group simply said, “I think we should pray.” Linking hands around the table, we bowed our heads and went to our heavenly Father on behalf of our friend.

In the days that followed, I found myself thinking about my friend and her situation, about the way we prayed for her that night and how we promised to keep praying.

As the weekend approached my husband and I left for an overnight trip to celebrate our anniversary. Choosing the scenic route, we drove along country roads and enjoyed the beauty of fall. I told him about my friend, and I asked him if there is any way we can help. “Jen,” he said. “All we can do, the best thing we can do is pray.”

I have a confession to make: sometimes, in the midst of so much trouble, in the midst of so much pain, prayer doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel like a real answer. It doesn’t feel like it will help, fix, or change anything.

Everywhere I turn, I see people in need, people who are hurting and sometimes the words, “I’ll pray for you,” seem small and insignificant.

As I looked out my window at the fall landscape passing by, I saw red, yellow, and orange leaves caught in the light of the sun. And suddenly, struck by the awe, by the beauty of God’s creation, my mind and heart grasped the truth about prayer.

Prayer isn’t small; it isn’t insignificant. In our troubles, in our pain, we aren’t powerless.

In truth, prayer is the way we go before God, the God of the universe, the God of power and knowing.

Prayer is the way we go before the God who creates the color in the trees and the light of the sun.

Prayers is the way we share our hearts, our sorrows, our burdens with the Lord of the earth and everything in it. Prayer is the way we partner with him in all things.

In all things. In the serious, in the scary, in the painful and the heartbreaking. In the unsure, in the doubtful, in the things we can’t change, control, or fix.

In the things that leave us powerless, prayer is our power.

If this is the truth of prayer, is it any wonder that Satan would seek to deceive us into thinking that prayer doesn’t work? That he would seek to keep us from that which is truly our most powerful weapon, our most powerful tool?

Friends, we cannot allow ourselves to take this weapon for granted. We cannot allow ourselves to be deceived. To think that prayer is small or insignificant, to think that it isn’t enough, to think that it isn’t the answer, to think that it doesn’t change things, to think that we are powerless is to believe a lie.

And this lie, it keeps us from God. It keeps us from seeing his power and truth in our lives. It keeps us from interceding on the behalf of others, and it keeps us from harnessing that which is rightfully ours: a relationship with the King.

Because in the end, when we pray, our prayers don’t put God on our side, they put us on His side. Prayer may or may not change our situations, but prayer will always change us.

It will change us into warriors that fight with angel armies. It will change us into dearly loved children who know a peace that passes understanding. It will change us, piece by piece, into the likeness of God.

When life leaves us feeling powerless, what can we do? We can pray. We can enter the throne room of King of Kings, and find in Him the power to move heaven and earth.