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Plain Oatmeal

Plain Oatmeal

When our oldest son was two I taught him his colors by dropping food coloring in his oatmeal.

It was an effortless way to make our mundane breakfast routine a bit more exciting.

It unintentionally became somewhat of a tradition and eleven years later I’m still swirling vibrant drops of color into creamy oats. 
That winsome, curly haired boy is thirteen now.

He didn’t want Lego’s for Christmas this year.

He only wants to watch soccer on the big screen when we go to Chuck E. Cheese.

And last week… he requested oatmeal with no colors.

They weren’t kidding when they said, “Don’t blink!”

I know that colored oatmeal is trivial against the big backdrop of life but his request for plain oats was a reminder of so much more.

My little boy is growing into a young man. His likes and dislikes are changing. His personality is changing. His voice is changing. And what he needs from me as a mom, friend and fellow follower of Christ is changing.

I love that he is growing into a young man but I find myself constantly drifting between loosening my white knuckled fists to allow a young man freedom and locking my arms tightly around him and never letting go.

This new season of parenting can be indescribably sweet and a stark reminder of my dependence on God. Due to the latter, I created a prayer guide that uses scripture to specifically focus on the the things I want for my son.

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Prayers For Your Teen Son

James 5:16 says, “the prayer of a righteous person is  powerful and effective”

 My hope is that this simple guide will help other weary moms as we join together to fight for the hearts of our sons.

Brax Turns Four

Brax Turns Four

Our little guy turned four last week. I fully anticipated a blubbering, tear filled birthday song upon the realization that we’ve never had a four year old in the house without a baby following closely behind but I held it together nicely.

My zeal for party planning was quickly dashed when he earnestly declared, “I don’t want a party.” *sigh* Who is this kid anyway?

Upon further questioning, I realized he did indeed have plans for an indefectible birthday…and I was happy to oblige.

He wanted the customary birthday morning pancakes but was not a fan of the obligatory birthday song.  He chose his favorite restaurant for dinner and dined on Happy Meals and orange juice because you can do that when it’s your birthday. #cleaneating
After dinner the guys behind the counter let him make his own ice cream cone. He was thrilled with the blue cotton candy ice cream but unsettled by the sweet Sri Lankan man that dared talk to him. Are you sensing a theme?He asked for a cake and Paw Patrol decorations but insisted, “No people. Only mom and dad and guys.” He refers to his four older brothers as the guys and I simultaneously melt.

We had cake and sang the birthday song again while he ambled into the next room and pretended we weren’t singing to him.We handed him his birthday present because he didn’t want the added pressure of anyone watching him open his gift and just like that the celebration was over.

I crumbled paper plates and napkins inside a plastic table cloth and tossed the remaining evidence of celebration into the trash while secretly hoping my other boys will adopt this new method of celebration.

 

14 Years and 14 Things I Love: Part 3

14 Years and 14 Things I Love: Part 3

If you missed part one or part two of the 14 Things I Love, go back and read them before you pick up here. For those of you that have already read the previous reasons, I’m going to keep rambling on about my adorable husband.

  • I can be a terribly quirky human being. One example of many- I have a mild obsession with recycled containers. I’ve convinced myself that every container is one Pinterest page away from a makeover. Problem being, I have a hard time throwing any empty containers away which leads to an abundant overflow of random containers threatening to take over our kitchen.I’m also really funny about other people drinking from my water bottle or taking gum from the end of the pack that hasn’t previously had gum removed from it, just to name a few. I could fill up the internet with my outlandish little habits but you get the point so in an effort to save face, I’ll stop at three. These peculiar little habits can be humorous unless you’re the one faced with them everyday but Britten is always so full of grace when my bizarre little quirks rear their ugly head. He graciously pulls the empty containers from the dish pile and sits them aside for me to work my magic on. He’s even washed peanut butter out of an empty jar and removed the label because he knows that it is important to me. That’s love folks. That’s real love right there.

  • In the summer of 2000 when I crossed paths with Britten in the church parking lot, I must admit the first thing I noticed was certainly not his servants heart or his integrous character. I was however immediately drawn to his eyes the color of the summer sky and his statuesque physique. I was quite smitten with him and loved that whenever I saw him he was fashionably dressed, smelled good and his hair was perfectly in place. Fast forward 17 years and that is still one of the things I love about him. Britten works hard to take care of himself and make himself attractive to me. He asks me which cologne I like, which shirt I think looks best and how I like his hair. He works out regularly and watches what he eats so that I still notice his statuesque physique and boyish good looks  all these years later. Which leads me to the next thing I love.

 

  •  It’s always good to have a second pair of eyes read over something before you hit the “submit” button. I started my first blog “Too Many B’s” in 2010 before we moved overseas and Britten has been faithful to proofread every post before I publish it. Britten doesn’t have copious amounts of free time but the little he does have, he uses to help me. However, he is going to die when he sees the previous paragraph so I chose to submit this post before sending it to my editor.

 

  • This life can be tiring on numerous levels. Homeschooling our children, working part time, taking care of our home, living overseas- it can, at times, create the perfect storm and I find myself exhausted, hyper emotional and in need of a break. Britten gets a front row seat to the difficult days and my superhero swoops in to save the day. It reminds me of Exodus 17 when Moses’ arms grew tired so Aaron and Hur literally held them up for him. He sometimes takes over everything and sends me to bed for a nap and other times he sends me a sweet text messages like this one I recently received.

I consider my marriage to Britten one of the greatest blessing God has given me on this earth and there is no blog post that could possibly embody my love for him. 14 years of marriage and I’m still not done falling in love with him. Happy Anniversary babe, I pray the Lord gives us many, many more.

Say the Words

Say the Words

I watched the sun quietly set, reminding me I’d made it to the end of a somewhat lengthy day. We had been walking around the city for several hours with our five kids in tow as the rain began to fall. The rain caused the temperature to drop so not only were we wet, we were cold and weary.As I pushed the stroller up the last stretch of sidewalk into the hotel, I felt her hand rest placidly on my shoulder.

“I just wanted to tell you that I’m amazed by your family. I’ve been watching your boys and can’t believe how mature they are and how much they love each other. I can even tell how much they respect you and your husband just by the demeanor they take on when you speak.” I stood there silent, trying to form the words, but found myself unable to speak… so she continued on.

“I know sometimes as moms we second guess ourselves and wonder if the decisions we make raising our children are the right ones. So, I want to tell you how impressed I am with your boys and that I think you’re doing a great job. It’s been a true blessing just to watch you and your husband parent your children.”

I could feel my face getting flushed and my heartbeat quickening which meant I knew  what was to follow. I tried to take a deep breath and blink away the tears but despite my efforts warm tears filled the rims of my eyes.

You see…what the woman in the hotel couldn’t have known is that the season of parenting we find ourselves in has proven to be quite difficult. Our oldest son is going from a little boy to a young man and the things we’ve learned in the last 12.5 years of parenting are practically irrelevant and more days than not I’m on my knees begging God for grace.It wasn’t the time for me to tell her that just last week my husband and I were fasting and praying on behalf of our boys, begging God to help us be the parents they need because it felt like we were failing at every turn.

There was no way that woman could have known the concern in this mama’s heart but we serve a God that knows every tear we cry (Psalm 56:8) and He knew that in that exact moment I needed to hear those encouraging words.

I’m sure to the woman it was just a kind compliment. She simply gave words to the thoughts running through her mind. But to this mom, it was the Spirit of God calming my soul and reminding me that He is in control.

As I continued up the steps to our hotel room I was astonished by the power of one simple compliment. One encouraging word, spoken from a thoughtful heart literally changed my entire outlook.

In that moment I made a promise to myself. The next time a kind thought lingers in my mind I won’t let it stop there. I will open my mouth and say the words because those words could be what the Spirit of God uses to breathe life into another person.

 

14 Years and 14 Things I Love: Part 2

14 Years and 14 Things I Love: Part 2

I was stuck on an airplane with no in-flight entertainment for five hours which made it the perfect time to continue my last post. If you are new to this post, go back and read part one first. If you’ve read the beginning, you won’t mind me diving right back in where I left off.

  • When two humans vow to live life together, “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part” there are going to be arguments. Just like all couples Britten and I disagree, we argue and as much as I hate to admit it, I can have a pretty hot temper. Thankfully the Lord knew that about me and gave me a kind, patient husband who NEVER loses his cool. No matter how upset I get or how intense a disagreement may be, he always remains calm and self-controlled. In fact, he usually smiles lovingly at me and tells me my spicy temper is cute, and it’s hard to stay mad at someone that’s telling you how cute you are.

 

  • In 14 years of marriage I’ve done a few absent-minded things. I lost a thousand dollar Canon camera. I threw my diamond earrings in the trash can at a drive-thru window, only to realize it the next day. I could tell you more but for the sake of my pride I’ll stop here. But, what is even more dumb founding than my absent mindedness is that in the midst of my costly mistakes Britten always responds with kindness and love. I can’t count the number of times he’s looked at me and said, “Babe…it was a complete accident, everybody makes mistakes.” He has never once talked down to me, made me feel stupid or even told me what a careless mistake it was. He always gives me a hug, wipes away my tears and tells me it’s ok.

 

  • I work part time as a personal-trainer and group fitness instructor which means when I go to the gym for myself I don’t have the mental capacity to think about my own workout, thankfully I don’t have to. Every time I step inside the gym I have a workout Britten has programmed especially for me. He knows the type of workouts I like, keeps track of what I’ve been doing, knows what goals I want to accomplish and he programs workouts to specifically help me reach my goals. A personal trainer having a personal trainer sounds a bit odd but it keeps me accountable and encourages me to push myself.
  • I recently finished the series “Anne with an E” on Netflix and have moved on to “Hart of Dixie” which tells you I’m a glutton for warm-hearted, girly shows. As you can imagine, my husband is not. Can you blame him? But that doesn’t’ mean I need to watch them while he’s at work or sit on the couch alone at the end of a long day because well, that would be boring. He knows I love these trite little shows so he sits down beside me and chooses to be present. Granted, he may be reading an article online or texting his brother about political issues or Back Squat PR’s but he still chooses to be right beside me and that makes my heart flutter.

 

  • Our four oldest boys are school age and we are beginning our ninth year of homeschool. I’m incredibly grateful for the privilege of educating our boys at home and at the same time I’m tired just from typing the previous sentence. Being a homeschool mom is an amazing gift and opportunity to teach your children to lift their eyes heavenward. In my humble opinion, it’s also an incredible use of one’s life but it’s exhausting to a new degree. That’s why it’s vital to have a husband that loves and supports you in your role as a homeschool mom and Britten does just that. He shares the homeschool load and holds me up on the days I can’t do it alone. That may mean I bounce curricula ideas around while he gives feedback, or he prays for me as mom and educator but sometimes it means I leave the house for a few hours while he steps in as the substitute teacher. Him giving me the gift of time away has led to a renewed sense of calling, a greater appreciation for mom as teacher and some hilarious impersonations of Britten’s teaching from our boys.

 

And if that weren’t enough to convince you why my love for Britten has multiplied exponentially over the years come back next time for part 3 of 14 Years and  14 Things.

14 Years and 14 Things I Love

14 Years and 14 Things I Love

I’ve read the articles and talked to enough couples to know that marriages change. That’s just reality when two people who say, “I do” live life together.

Things don’t stay the same. There is growth. There are setbacks. People develop certain patterns or ways of thinking. And sadly, often times those changes can have a pretty negative impact on the important relationship we call “marriage.”

There has been no shortage of change in our marriage. Its hard to fathom how much has changed since we first sliced into the infamous 6ft tall wedding cake. 

Have we changed in our 14 years? You bet! Are we different people than we were the day we said, “I do?” Of course we are. But what those articles forgot to mention is that sometimes those changes can make you fall even more in love with your spouse than you were on the day you got married. There are so many things I love about Britten that I didn’t know about him in the early years of our marriage.

And in honor of our 14 years, I’m sharing 14 things I love about my man. Of course I love that he works so hard to provide for our family, he’s an amazing dad and that he loves Jesus Christ and loves to tell people about Him. But, if you’ve known him for any length of time you already know those things. I want to share the reasons I love him that you may not know about. So, without further ado, in no particular order here are 14 things I love about Britten.

  • He shops for me. Yep, you read that correctly and it’s one of the main ways he blesses me. After shopping for and clothing our five children I’m usually too tired to give much thought to my own wardrobe. My incredibly stylish and fashion forward husband knows that about me so he serves me well by choosing clothes that he thinks will look nice on me and that he likes. I give him the sizes and tell him what kind of clothing I need and he does the rest. Dream. Come. True.

 

  • He brings me cookies at 10:30 p.m. Confession: I try to be conscious of my diet and the amount/types of foods that I eat but I have zero control when it comes to Double Doozies from The Great American Cookie Company. More times than I care to confess my sweet husband has gone out after 10:00 at night to get cookies for me just because I want them. As a matter of fact, it’s 10:09 p.m. on Tuesday night and he’s currently driving to The Cookie Company as I type. Shameful, right?

  • Because I eat a lot of cookies, I have to counter it with healthy eating at other times and we all know it’s easier to eat healthy when you have someone to do it with you. Which brings me to the next reason I’m completely smitten with Britten. Do you see what I just did there? He’s always up for my preposterous health food ideas. I’m constantly bombarding him with wonky ideas like, “Let me put butter in your coffee” or his personal favorite, “We are going to drink this Detox Drink three times a day for two weeks.” But no matter how crazy my ideas are, he plays along. And it’s not because he needs to. It’s because he knows it’s important to me.
  • He tells me daily how beautiful, smart and talented I am. On the night of our wedding rehearsal Britten’s great uncle shared a bit of advice with the young groom-to-be that has stuck with him for the last 14 years. His Great Uncle James said, “Don’t ever let a day go by without saying something kind to your wife.” His Uncle James would be so proud to know that Britten took those words to heart and not a day goes by that he doesn’t tell me that I’m an amazing mom, that he loves being married to me or how thankful he is for the work that I do in our home.

 

  • He hauls me all over town and has never once complained. I’ve mentioned before that there are challenges to living in a country where women are not allowed to drive. I use Uber a lot to get around when Britten is at work but if he’s at home he will drop any and everything to take me where I need to go. I’m not crazy enough to think that he loves driving me around but that’s what makes it even more special. Despite the fact that he has other things to do, doesn’t want to get back out or is just plain tired he never lets me know that. He puts a smile on his face and crawls back in the car to drive me all over town.

I could fill the world wide web with the many reasons I love my husband but in an effort to keep this post from getting too long I’m going to stop at five. Join me later this week and I’ll finish out the list.

Thoughts For the New Mom

Thoughts For the New Mom

New moms. You hold an incredibly dear place in my heart.

Maybe it’s because the desire to have more children has never gone away &  the phrase “just one more” flows easily from my lips.Maybe it’s because when I hold a newborn baby for the first time I’m in awe of the truth that the Lord found me worthy to shape the life of another human being created in His image. (Genesis 1:26)

Or maybe it’s because when I look into the weary eyes of a new mom I’m reminded of the sleepless nights and I desperately want to commend you for the countless hours of work you put in that nobody ever sees.

Being a new mom in suburbia American can, at times, feel like you’re in the octogan with Conor Mcgregor. It’s not for the faint at heart. As if the rapid mood swings, uncontrollable crying and night sweats aren’t enough, today there is a surplus of new things to worry about.

-vaccines causing autism, sunscreens causing cancer, insect repellents damaging the nervous system, screen time affecting language development, contaminates in baby food…the list goes on and on.

Then there are the opinions…

-natural childbirth vs. epidural, co-sleeping vs. crib sleeping, bottle vs. breast, scheduled vs. demand feeding, passive feeding vs. baby led weaning, working vs. stay at home moms, crying it out vs. soothing.

The immense worry and desire to “do what’s best” can cripple a mom. The various opinions can lead to self doubt and make us think we aren’t doing enough, being careful enough or giving enough.And that is why I wish I could sit across from you over a cup of coffee that’s been reheated in the microwave multiple times. I desperately want to squeeze your hand and with tears in my eyes remind you that you aren’t just enough….you’re God’s perfect plan.

You are the one the Lord chose to parent your child. Out of the millions of other women in the world…the Lord graciously chose you to be the mother of your child. It doesn’t matter if you gave birth to that child or that life was formed in another’s womb…you were chosen. There is no one else in the world more suited for the job at hand and no one that knows more about what your child needs than you. Breathe that truth in deeply and relax in His abundant grace.But I also want to tell you that as the days pass and the weeks turn into years you’re going to learn who you are as a woman and who you are as a mom. The decisions that today make you anxious and apprehensive will become second nature and be made in complete confidence, often times without a second thought.

It’s a gradual progression and if you aren’t careful you’ll miss it but you’re going to settle into this whole “mom thing” and find a rhythm that works for you and your family. One day you’re going to look up from the beautiful chaos of diapers and onesies that so accurately portrays your life and realize that you’ve made it through the trenches of new mommy-hood and graduated to the ranks of seasoned mom.

And my one piece of advice is that when you find yourself in that new season remember those exhausting, uncertain days and let those memories drive you to take the hand of a new mom and offer a kind word of encouragement. There isn’t a mom on the planet that fondly recalls the suttle rebukes, or the underhanded jabs. But, we all remember the woman that lovingly took our hand and encouraged us along the path.

 

Fighting Against Envy

Fighting Against Envy

We recently visited a Japanese inspired restaurant in our city that not only gives trainer chopsticksbut serves green tea and hot cocoa at the end of the meal. 

After dinner the waiter presented our four older boys with a steaming cup of hot cocoa in an adorable porcelain cup. For reasons I do not need to list, he chose not to give our youngest son a cup.

In approximately 0.4 seconds the entire restaurant knew that our boys had been given something the baby brother had not. The tears started to flow and the deafening sobs echoed throughout the room.

My heart raced and my cheeks flushed with embarrassment as I imagined the other parents glaring at me with disapproval. I quietly growled at the baby in my mean mommy voice while donning a forced smile tried to settle him down but nothing worked. The waiter realized the situation and rushed over with a cup of cocoa and the weeping and gnashing of teeth tears ceased.

Riding home that evening I thought about the fact that my heart can be equally as grimy when I don’t get what I want…and even more so when someone else does. And though I may not scream and cry in the middle of a quiet restaurant, if my thoughts were displayed for the world to see, it wouldn’t always be a pretty picture.

 

It’s hard when things don’t go like we’d hoped but we all experience it, in one way or another.

  • Someone else got chosen for the job you desperately wanted.
  • You’ve tried incessantly to get pregnant and another friend posted a sonar pic announcing her pregnancy.
  • You’ve been a bridesmaid so many times you could open a store front for gown rental but you’re still single.
  • Your friend posted a picture of an epic girls night out…except you weren’t invited.
  • You’ve lived in a rental home since day one of your married life and another friend just moved into her dream home.
  • You can’t afford to take your family to the beach for the weekend but everyone else is spending two weeks at a five star Disney resort.
  • You want to be a stay at home mom and go on playdates with all of your stay at home mommy friends but that just isn’t an option.
  • You can’t lose those extra pounds and all your girlfriends are sporting skinny jeans and posting bikini pics on social media.

One of my favorite quotes on the matter is from Lisa Terkeurst.

“But then there were other moments. Hard moments. Moments when I felt my friends’ lives were rushing past me in a flurry of met goals, new opportunities, and affirmations of their callings from God. It seemed like the world was literally passing me by.”

But what I would add to the quote is that at times as I’ve watched “the world pass me by” I’ve grown envious of what God is doing in another’s life. How quickly my sinful flesh wanted to resent another’s success or what someone else had. In a matter of seconds I became completely unaware of all the things I do have because I was blinded by the things I don’t. Instead of celebrating joy in another person’s life the bitter seed of envy took root and caused me to take my eyes off of Christ.

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

Over time I’ve learned to recognize the warning signs in my own heart and developed a plan to turn my heart to God.

First– I search my heart to determine what about the situation is making me jealous. Is it an unfulfilled desire or a sense of entitlement? Does the envy stem from deep rooted fear or a sense of insecurity?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts”  Psalm 139:23

Second– I confess my sin & ask for forgiveness.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

Third-  I begin to praise God for what He has accomplished in the other person’s life. This part can be initially painful but the act of self discipline can change the focus of my heart almost immediately.

“Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” Isaiah 12:5

Today, let’s not to conceal the presence of envy in our hearts and instead let’s celebrate His faithfulness in our lives and the lives of others.

What Makes A Gifted Homemaker

What Makes A Gifted Homemaker

I was recently talking with a friend when she nonchalantly referred to me as a gifted homemaker. Homemaking wasn’t the main focus of the conversation so I chose not to derail things by shifting gears.  However, the comment got my attention and caused me to linger on the subject a little longer in my head.

I’ve never really considered myself a gifted homemaker. So for a few days I tumbled thoughts around in my head like a favorite pair of jeans bouncing around in the dryer. I thought a lot about the different homes we’ve lived in, the numerous homes we’ve visited and even the home I dream of having someday.

I tried to pinpoint the specific details about the homes that belong to what I consider “gifted homemakers” but I couldn’t find a common thread. I couldn’t figure out exactly what makes someone a gifted homemaker. Is it a beautiful home? Is it the ability to decorate with the latest trends? Does a woman have to be gifted in the areas of organization? Do you need a large house so you can host and entertain often? To be a gifted homemaker do you have to channel your inner Joanna Gaines? I wasn’t exactly sure what makes someone gifted in the area of homemaking.

We recently traveled to Georgia for a few days away. Some friends in the area graciously offered their home to us while her family stayed with in-laws. Our party of seven took up residence in their home and when we left on Sunday I was in awe of her “homemaking skills.” After our little weekend get away it all came together- I was finally aware of exactly what makes a gifted homemaker. I jotted down a few specific things about her home that I hope to soon replicate in my own.

5. Homes do not have to be massive.  I’m in no way saying that you can’t have an enormous home and still be a gifted homemaker– you certainly can. However, the size of your home doesn’t matter one tiny bit.

4. Home decor should be a reflection of your personality, not the popular design trends.  Trends and styles come and go but unfortunately style isn’t eternal. It’s only a matter of time before the shiplap, reclaimed wood and open floor plans that dominate the interior design world of today will be out of style and dated. Instead of following the trends, I want the inside of my home to reflect who I am and what our lives are about.

There are several young children in my friend Christy’s home and little glimpses of their personalities and daily lives can be seen in every room of the house. Being in her home gave me better insight into her family and her heart.

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3. Your home should be a delicate reflection of who you are and what you value most in this life.

You can’t be in my friend’s home for more than a few minutes without knowing what in her life is most important. Eight years, and four kids, later her wedding photographs and marriage certificate serve as a reminder of a lifelong covenant.

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2. Homes are to be lived in. This one doesn’t come easy for me. I tend to function better when beds are made, throw pillows are fluffed and closet doors are closed. I’m going to blame it on my suppressed OCD but seriously…the struggle is real.

My mom once told me about a friend that fluffed the throw pillows on her couch 2-3 times a day to keep them looking pristine. She was one day diagnosed with cancer and decided that life was too short to spend fluffing throw pillows. With tears in her eyes she recounted the wasted time she had spent fluffing throw pillows instead of living the life she had been given. She vowed to use her final days to truly live in her house and never waste the time the Lord had given fluffing pillows.

Her story reminds me to walk past the throw pillows that are tossed on the floor and embrace the days I have with my family.

1. Our homes should be a refuge from the craziness of this world– a place where you can meet with God regularly.

The combination of those things I mentioned before made my time in my friend’s home so enjoyable, but there was something else that made me want to be in her house. The Spirit of the Lord dwelt within the walls of her home and I found myself wanting to linger there a little longer.

Early one morning I was the only one awake. I tiptoed, ever so quietly, into the living room and opened my Bible. As I flipped through the pages, dimly illuminated by the lamplight I was reminded of  2 Chronicles 7:15-16…

Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

The oversized comfy chair beckoned me to procrastinate the day’s to do list and dwell in the presence of the Lord. It was sitting in that chair that I realized the Spirit of the Lord dwelled in that home and above all else, that’s what made me want to be there.

I’m not putting this here to serve as a cozy home checklist. It’s here to remind me of what I truly cherish in a home. In a few short weeks we will begin to search for our 13th home in 13 years of marriage and as often as I’m asking the Lord for outdoor space for our boys and enough space to create a schoolroom, I’m asking that His name will be in our home forever.

Prayer Words

Prayer Words

I have a love–hate relationship with the beginning of a new school year. I hate saying goodbye to the lazy days of summer, learning new curricula and schedules, the rampageous tax free weekend back-to-school shopping and trying to determine how everything is going to get squeezed into the day.

At the same time, I love that our days are more routine, new packs of vibrantly colored crayons, little ones climbing in my lap to read  books and I especially love how the beginning of a school year is a natural time to reflect back on the previous year.

crayonsBefore we dive head first into a new school year, as their teacher, I set aside some time to think about each of our school aged boys. I ask God to show me areas of strength and maturity each child has displayed in the previous school year and then I thank Him for developing those traits in each of them.

I then spend time praying for God to show me areas that may be lacking or need further development. I choose one specific word that embodies what I’m asking Him to do in that particular child’s life and I make that their “prayer word” for the year. I usually choose a verse of Scripture to accompany each child’s word which makes it easy for me to pray that Scripture over them.

He shall remain nameless but I’m guessing if you’ve spent any time with our family you know who got the word “self-control.”  I’m praying Proverbs 25:28 over him and he’s working diligently to memorize it. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self control.”

I found a cute little Etsy shop that makes adorable wooden signs. I had a personalized wooden sign made for each child to put on their desk and also to remind me to pray for them often.

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As a mom it’s so easy for me to get frustrated with characteristics (or the lack there of) in my children. Choosing a prayer word for the year allows me to temporarily step out of my role as mom and look at things from the perspective of a teacher. My hope is that when I’m wanting to bang my head against a wall because the b’s look like d’s, the paintbrush got sharpened in the pencil sharpener and the five year old is still reading “bed” as “bad” I can exhale and be reminded of the eternal value that can be accomplished with one heartfelt prayer to a Good, Good Heavenly Father.