Book Review: Brave Mom

Brave Mom: Facing and Overcoming Your Real Mom Fears
by Sherry Surratt

We live in a scary world and it’s all too easy to get caught up in parenting with fear rather than parenting in faith, which is why I was so excited to read Sherry Surratt’s book, Brave Mom.  This CEO of MOPS International(Mothers of Preschoolers) talks openly and honestly about some of the biggest fears moms face, including a fear of parenting teenagers, fear of not being perfect, fear that being a mom will change you forever, and more.  Certainly as a mom I’m more than just afraid about keeping my kids physically safe.  I worry about the friends they make….worry about whether I’m doing enough, whether I’ll let them down or mess them up, whether they’ll be bullied or teased or lost or alone or…you name it.  These “Real Mom Fears” can take over the moment you find out you’re pregnant for the first time.bravemom

Each chapter includes notes and letters from other moms who have faced and overcome similar fears, so it really is like attending a mom support group and saying, “Hi, My name is ________ and I struggle with fear” and listening to others who understand what you’re going through.  Surratt’s relaxed and chatty style of writing makes this book an easy read and very relatable.  She concludes every chapter with a section called “Let’s Get Practical” that includes some questions for further thought/discussion and another section called “Let’s Take Action” that helps you put what you’ve learned into practice. It’s not a Bible study really, but it is great for an individual to read or for a book club or moms group to read together.

My favorite chapters in the book came at the end: “Facing Your Emotional Monsters” and “Building a Better You.”  Her advice in those chapters is practical, helpful, wise, and full of grace.  She encourages moms to build a support system and to find spiritual rhythms that work for you instead of trying to copy the quiet time habits of others around you.   I also loved the idea of sorting fears into two categories: things I can do something about and things I can’t do anything about so I need to just leave it to God.  Grabbing a hold of those runaway fears, analyzing them, praying through them, and doing something about them all helps tame the anxiety monster that can hold us moms captive.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

5 Things This Introvert is Teaching My Extroverted Daughter (and 5 things maybe she’s teaching me)

My daughter is an extrovert-to-the-power-of-1o.  At 18 months old, I realized she could not have a day at home and be happy.

Could.  Not.

If I did not put that child in the car seat and drive her somewhere every single day she would end up a screaming mess of frustrated babyhood and I would have a mom meltdown.introvert

Now, I’m pretty sure she goes through withdrawals the first week of summer vacation because she must see friends every day and if she’s not seeing them in person, could she please call one of them on the phone?

I, on the other hand, like home-time, family-time, quiet-time, me-time, creative-time, thinking-time, and I hate the telephone.  I pretty much disintegrate emotionally if I’m out of my house too long more than two days in a row.

But God made me her mom, so we’re in this together and maybe we’re both better because of it.

5 things This Introvert is Teaching My Extroverted Daughter:

1. Be comfortable with who you are when no one is around: If you’re uncomfortable with yourself when you’re on your own and it’s quiet, then something’s wrong.  You need to know who you are and like who you are even in the silence.

2. Family comes first: Sure, it’s exciting to go to your friend’s house, swim in their pool, tag along when they go to day trips and play with their toys and eat their food.  But family always comes first.  It’s too easy to be nicer to those outside your home than it is to be kind to those you live with every single day all up close and personal.  Don’t take family for granted and don’t treat them worse than you treat your friends or even strangers.

3. Sometimes it’s better to think about what you’re going to say before you say it: Pause.  Think.   Then Speak.

4. Quiet is not the enemy and boredom is just fuel for creativity:  If you’ve squeezed out all opportunities for quiet, rest, and unscheduled time, then you’ve squeezed out time with God and time for God to speak to you.

5. It’s okay to say “no”:  You don’t have to answer the phone every time it rings.  You don’t have to do everything you’re asked to do or go everywhere you’re asked to go.  Sometimes saying “no” is the healthiest and wisest thing you can say.

 

5 Things My Extroverted Daughter is Teaching Me:

1. People matter more than to-do lists and tasks.  It’s okay to leave the to-do list tomorrow and spend time watching a movie or sitting with someone, playing a game, or just talking.

2. Ministry always means loving people.  It’s not possible to be a vessel fit for God’s service if I fail to love people.  Being an introvert is not an excuse for being self-focused or for acting like the world is all about ‘me’.  Ministry requires compassion, unselfishness, kindness, generosity with time and resources, and absolutely requires loving others—whether you’re an introvert or not.

3. Most things really are better with a friend.  Sharing experiences with others opens you up to new perspectives and ideas.

4. If you’re always worried about what people think, you miss out on a lot of fun.  Sometimes you just have to risk it and put yourself out there, even when it’s uncomfortable or unexpected or unknown.  Be silly.  Have fun.  Do something new even if you won’t be great at it.  Learn to laugh at yourself.

5. A room full of new people is just a room full of potential new friends.  So don’t be afraid; just enjoy the adventure!

 Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him (Psalm 127:3 NLT)

 

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

 

 

Praying for Boys, Book Review

Praying for Boys
by Brooke McGlothlin

When I like a book, I mark a few quotes here and there, when I really like a book I turn down the pages to mark whole sections, and when I love a book it ends up a worn and weary mess with turned down pages, highlighters, pencil marks and maybe even a few food stains.  I really loved Brooke McGlothlin’s book, Praying for Boys, and after just one quick read my copy already looks like I’ve carried it through a battle zone.  That’s okay.  I intend to do just that.PrayingForBoys_mck.indd

I’ve been praying for my kids diligently for years, using books and my own way of praying through Scripture to commit them to God.  But after having three daughters, I gave birth to a baby boy just a few months ago and Brooke McGlothlin is giving me a whole new way to pray specifically for him.  She proposes using focused and determined prayers in the battle for boys’ hearts and minds.

The book itself is short with quick and easy to read chapters.  She begins with a call to prayer, why, how, and when to pray.   In response to specific questions she’s received on her blog (The M.O.B. Society), she even includes a chapter of encouragement and tips for those parenting alone.  Following that, McGlothlin offers 21 prayer points for sons, including praying for their salvation, integrity, honor, and each of the fruits of the spirit.

The book can be read in one sitting (like I did last night), but then it can be used as a constant companion to prayer. The prayers are extremely short (one sentence long, maybe, and usually personalizing a Scripture verse in the process).  That means I could use them all day, every day, in any way I can imagine. I could post a few up around my house and pray whenever I see them.  I could join with a group of other moms and pray through them together for 21 days (she includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter to use for small groups).  Anything goes as long as the book doesn’t just sit on the shelf gathering dust.  It’s meant to be used and applied.

Along the way, McGlothlin shares parenting tips, Scripture verses, personal stories of both success and failure, a sense of humor, some grace, and her passion for praying for her sons.  It’s a book I read in one evening while my three-month-old son played happily in his bouncy seat next to me, but it’s a book I hope to pray through many times in years to come.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Seven Months: How to Enjoy the Season You’re In

Seven months.

She asked me to take on a new responsibility and normally I just do, I say ‘yes’ and add it on to the stuffed-to-overflowing to-do list and cram it onto the overcrowded calendar.

But this time, I answered, “Seven months.”

This is the season I’m in: a season of no more and not now.  For seven months, what I have is what I can do.  And then, who knows?  God will direct the steps.

For now, though, my life is packed full and I must invest myself fully here with this blessing of a new baby, a new book, and three daughters in school and after-school activities that dictate our schedule and keep me in the car driving here and there for hours in every day.

It’s the best advice my mom ever gave me as I awaited the birth of my firstborn babe when I, in my innocent pre-motherhood state, thought I knew what being a mom meant and the sacrifice it required.

I didn’t, of course.

She told my young, naive self: “Everything is just for a season.”ecclesiastes

The advice sounded good enough at the time, something to tuck away for another day perhaps.

But I didn’t realize the depth of the wisdom here or how I would return to this as a promise of hope on the hard days…

when I’m finding it hard to breathe because of the clutter and mess
and the noise is drowning out my own sane thoughts
and I’m longing for a ‘quiet time’ at the kitchen table but settling for a quick devotional-on-the-go while waiting for preschool to end
and dinner is macaroni and cheese from a box instead of the gourmet meal I found on Pinterest
and I’m lacking in sleep and feeling like a mess and groaning about laundry and dishes.

Ecclesiastes made it clear:

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

“To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven”

That’s how The Byrds sang it in the 1960’s and the song jingles around in my head when I consider the wisdom of this.

There is a season.  And one season follows another just as surely as day follows day.  Nothing is forever.  God makes all things new time after time after time.

It’s been my mantra as a mom.

Sleepless nights….potty training….terrible two tantrums…

A season.  Only a season.

A messy minivan and hours outside the ballet studio, endless noise, sibling rivalry, homework, and diaper changes.

A season.  Only a season.

I think aloud to a friend about my life right now and she reminds me of my own words,

“I’ve heard you say it often, that this is only a season.”

She echoes it back to me and I realize how often I give that advice to others, sharing the wisdom with them that my own mom gave me.

But I realize something else on the good days—

when my baby is cooing so sweet and tosses me a smile that stops time for that moment because I love him so
and my children work together and play together sweetly and my heart dances with pride in their beauty and strength
and we laugh at the dinner table and tell stories of our day and I think how precious is this gift

Seasons come and seasons go, but God is in every one of them.  Yes, in  this season of sleeplessness and carpooling….and this season of baby giggles and child songs.

I could grit my teeth, grip the wheel white-knuckled, and hold on tight until this season of busyness passes me by or I could revel in the joy, yes–here, yes—now.

There’s such beauty in this season of watching my children grow, discover, learn, and transform every day.

All too quickly this passes me by.

I could endure the frantic pace of it all, but so much better to enjoy the blessing of it all.

This season you are in right now, whatever it may be, does it chip hard at your rough edges and wear heavy down on your soul at times?

Perhaps you are weary some days.

Maybe you are feeling raggedy, lost, and alone on others.

Hear this sweet breath of hope when you feel the suffocation:

This is only a season, going and then gone.

And hear the urgency of this challenge:

This is only a season; revel in the joy of it, even the joy of knowing God is with you even in this.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Dear Daughter: To Lauren

Dear blog friends and followers,

Today’s the day we plan to meet our baby boy for the first time!

So, just a reminder that this week I’ll be posting some  letters to my children here–one for each daughter and then one for my son–and I hope they bless you, too.

Don’t be too impressed that you’re seeing this post on my delivery day.  I’m not live-blogging during a C-section.  No, I’ve written all this in advance and scheduled it for the days I’ll be away.  There, I’ve spilled the secret!

I’d love your prayers today and for the rest of this week!

~heather~

****************************************************************************************************************************

Dear Lauren,

You taught me that my heart could expand.

Just days before you were born, I panicked, wondering, “What if I can’t do this?  What if I’m Mom enough for this one child, but not two daughters?”

And then you were born, this perfect little round-headed, bright-blue-eyed baby girl.  You captivated my heart and I learned for the first time how God loves us all, not more, not better, but every one of us specially.

We had worried over you for months before we held you in that delivery room.  The doctors and nurses thought you would be too small, maybe you weren’t growing, maybe you were under stress.  We’d been heading to the office for extra tests and extra ultrasounds.

Yet, you were a surprising and unexpected mystery even then. Every guess and estimate about your size was wrong; you were so perfect, and we were so thankful.

We’d been praying for you all those months before you were born and even now we’re still clasping hands together and praying for you.lookingatdad

And, in many ways, you are still a bundle of mystery and surprise. No one has ever described you to me without using the word ‘unique.’

You surely are.

I remember the first time you toddled over to me, transferred “air” into my palm, and told me to eat the food you’d made.  I’d never seen imagination at work that young before.  You were pretending long before  your older sister ever was.

She played with her farm animal toys by lining them all up, sorted and in categories.  You, however, could spend hours on the floor with just a toy horse and a toy farmer, creating intricate scenarios, exchanges, interchanges, and relational situations.  Even now, you can disappear into your room for an entire afternoon and create a story-line to rival the greatest novelists and playwrights.

We secretly watched you as a toddler, making funny faces in the mirror, and you’ve entertained us for years with your mimicry as you copy cartoon voices and foreign accents with ease.  You and your dad can put on quite a show around our dinner table.

God gave you this astonishing mind that remembers everything, orders the world into patterns, soaks in all you see and hear even when we think you aren’t paying attention, and solves the most complicated puzzles without any effort.  Still, you’re never really out to win awards, show off, brag, or gain attention.  What you do is simply because you can, simply for the joy of it.

You teach me how to rest…how to lounge in pajamas or comfy clothes, snuggled into a blanket to enjoy a book or a movie and take time just to breathe, and you remind me of the power of a deep belly laugh, a funny story, or a silly joke.

You aren’t a fan of super-serious conversations, changing the subject if our discussion digs too deep and giggling when I’ve lingered too long on my Mom Soapbox.

But here’s the truth I need you to know…..

You are loved and treasured, you—uniquely you.  Even when we’re instructing or disciplining, guiding or correcting, we love you fully, completely, and passionately just as God has made you.  008 You don’t need to be the same as your sisters; you don’t need to achieve the same things or pursue the same activities.  Lauren, you are loved as you.

You are the boss of your emotions.  They shouldn’t hold you captive, shouldn’t dictate your behavior or your decisions.  Fear especially will destroy your joy in this life; don’t give in to it.  Overcome.  Take charge.  Push yourself to achieve and explore, not without fear, but in spite of fear.

Choose good friends and take the lead when it comes to doing what is right.  Show compassion, generosity, grace, and love for every one you meet, but remember that the very best friends aren’t just fun or funny.  They are the ones who encourage you to do your best, make wise decisions, and be more like Jesus.  Choosing good friends….and one day choosing whom you date and choosing whom you marry….will determine so much of your future.

Discipline trumps talent.  Every time.  No exceptions.  The reason we push and nudge you is because we see your potential.  God has given you astounding gifts and talents, but they will remain useless and undeveloped without self-discipline and determination.

Don’t give up when the work is hard or takes time away from fun.  The best things are worth working hard for; they are worth all the practice, studying, and sacrifice. 

All of those prayers offered for you as two expectant parents worrying over their unborn child continue even now.  As we ask God how to be your mom and dad, we marvel that we’ve been entrusted by Him with the gift of you.  We so quickly bow our heads and pray…

Because we love you…

Because you amaze us….

Because you have so much potential….

Because we want God’s best for you.

Before you were born, your daddy chose these verses to pray as a blessing over you:

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them
(Psalm 145:17-19 NIV).

Take this to heart, my Lauren, my daughter.  God is with you always, perpetually near to you, ever faithful and unceasingly gracious.  Remember to turn to Him.

Love,

~Mom~

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

5 Prayers for our Schools

It was one of those statements in a sermon that sticks with you forever.

About nine years ago, one of our pastors said, “If when you pray for me all you ask is, ‘God, please bless my pastor,’ then don’t worry about praying for me.”

Not pray for him?  Who, after all, would reject a blessing prayer?

But really, he didn’t mean to reject prayers, just to emphasize the importance of specific prayers for others.prayersforschools

It’s true for husbands, for children, for pastors and other ministry leaders, and for our schools.  If my idea of praying for them is, “God please bless these people today,” then I’m really not requesting much, not petitioning God much on their behalf.

I want to be specific, be particular, praying in faith that God knows best, but laying my requests all out there before His throne.  Not just a “pray-and-run” kind of petition, shooting out a list of people or places to bless in one minute and then rushing on with my day.

I want to get knee-deep involved in intercession like the Levites who prayed for the refugees returning home to Israel to rebuild the Jerusalem walls in the book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9).

How to pray then?  What to ask God for?  You might have ideas, too, but here’s a prayer tool to get us started as we begin this school year:

5 Prayers for our Schools

Mondays:  Safety and presence of God:  God, we pray for Your presence in our schools, public, private and home-school settings.  We ask for peace to reign in the hallways, the classrooms, and playgrounds.  Please protect our children and school staff and prevent evil from infiltrating the school grounds.

Tuesday: School administrators and office staff:  Lord, we thank You for the administrators and office staff who keep our schools running smoothly and who are responsible for making decisions both about our children’s education and their safety. We ask that You give them strength and wisdom and help them establish a positive learning environment.  Help them balance the pressures of standardized testing with the goal of encouraging a love of learning.  We pray that they can foster an atmosphere of creativity, passion, and joy among all the educational staff.

Wednesday: Teachers and assistants:  Lord, we pray for the teachers and assistants who are putting long hours in during the early days in the school year. There is so much to get set up, students to assess, routines to establish. Please give them the energy they need and strength for each new day. Help them to know You are with them. Give them wisdom as they get to know each student—reveal strengths and needs, highlight situations that need intervention, show teachers where students deserve encouragement and praise!

Thursday: School nurses and counselors: Lord, we ask that you bless the school nurses as they run their clinics and the counselors working with our kids.  Our nurses not only manage the intricate schedule of medications for our students, but they are also a source of compassion and love every day.  Our counselors need to rightly discern students who need help and intervention and fight against bullying and other problems in our schools.   Give them wisdom, gentleness, and compassion.  Fill them up daily with Your love as they pour so much of themselves out for others.

Friday: Staff (Cafeteria, janitorial, bus drivers and more):  God, there are so many men and women who work in our schools, providing food, transportation and more for our kids.  They are often the ones responsible for keeping our schools healthy and our children safe.  Please give them joy in their work, bless their hands as they serve each day.  Help them know how much we appreciate their efforts on behalf of our kids.

How do you pray for our schools and their staff? 

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

5 Prayers Before the School Year Begins

I stood in the line of nervous parents and excited-though-apprehensive elementary school children at Open House last year.

My kids squealed when they saw their friends from last year, waving from our line to others behind us, beside us and in front.  After families stepped up to the table to receive their classroom assignment for the year, they walked by us as they headed to the classroom.  We asked them, “What teacher did you get?” and then we cheered or compared notes and gave advice.

In between greeting other parents and kids, I prayed.prayersbeforeschool

A lot.

Sometimes I mess up and treat God like little more than a pagan idol–acting as if maybe if I cross my fingers, rub a rabbit’s foot, do a fancy jig and offer to sacrifice something, He’ll answer my prayers just because He sees how desperate I am.

“Oh Jesus, please give me daughter a great teacher this year…..please, please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaaasssssseeeee.”

Yet, while He loves the sincerity and passion I have for praying for my kids, He knows what they need without me trying to manipulate Him into giving me my way.

And while standing in line at Open House isn’t a bad place to pray, it’s not the only time to pray.

After all, when it was our turn, we stepped up to the table and the principal handed us an index card for each daughter with their room number and teacher’s name for the school year. The decision, however, had been made weeks in advance as teachers met to match students with the right classroom, teacher, and classmates.

So, maybe that’s when to start praying?

Or maybe the answer really is that we never stop praying for our kids.

Not ever.

We move from need to need, praying today for today, but also for tomorrow and for five years from now and on into their adult years, their marriages, their careers and ministries.

So, here are five prayers I start praying before the school year begins, long before I step into that line on Open House night and certainly before I kiss my kids on the head, pray for them quickly and watch them step onto the bus on the first day of school.

  1. For the right teacher and classroom:  God, you know my children best.  Yes, you know them even better than I do.  You know exactly what teacher is going to work with their strengths and weaknesses and what teacher will help them reach their potential and be excited about school and learning.  Please give the teachers and administrators wisdom as they place our children into classrooms and help my children be matched with the perfect teacher and the classmates who will be good friends rather than bullies, mean girls, or distractions this year.  Please bless the teacher’s summer, helping it be restful and fun so he or she can start the school year with enthusiasm, excitement and energy!
  2. For safety:  Lord, it’s hard for me to let my children go where I can’t see them or be with them all the time.  I want so much to be there to protect them and guide them, intervene for them, and love them through the hard things.  But, I know You are with them even when I can’t be.  You can care for them better than I can.  Please watch over them with Your providential care and protection.
  3. For their choices:  Father, my children will be making tons of decisions every day.  Please help them to know they can always turn to You for help when they need it and please help them draw on the wisdom from Your Word that we’ve tried to teach them.  Let Your Holy Spirit direct their steps and guide their hearts to do what is right.  Help my children be a witness for You all day, on the playground, in the lunch room, in the classroom and more.
  4. For us as parents: God, we need just as much help as our kids do for this school year.  Help us make wise decisions and know how to mold their character, give advice, when to get involved and when to let our children handle things on their own, and how to train up this child in the way that he or she should go.
  5. For their friendships:  Lord, one of the biggest decisions my kids will make this year is about who to befriend.  Please give them discernment and wisdom to know how to choose good friends, those who will lead them to you, those who will encourage success and help them do the right thing.  When there are children being picked on or ignored, I ask that you will show my child how to give them compassion and to reach out to them in love.  Give my children the strength to lead others to You rather than be led by others away from You.  Please protect them from bullies, mean girls, and bad influences and help them know how to stand up for what is right when necessary.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Heather King is a busy-but-blessed wife and mom, a Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Back to School: 5 Ways to Bless a Teacher

ways-to-bless-a-teacher

School supplies hit the shelves of our local Wal-Mart en force a few weeks ago and it is taking ALL of my mom self-control not to delve right in and buy every Sharpie marker, Post-It pack, and notebook in every color and pattern.

At least I have a few weeks to work my way through the supply list for my kids’ school because summer doesn’t end until after Labor Day for us.  Moms in other parts of the country, however, are on the final countdown to early wake-ups, packed lunches, homework and making it to the bus on time.

So, it’s time to start prepping for back to school season…for all of us really, whether our schools start in August or September…. because it can’t possibly be too early to pray for our kids, their teachers and school staff.  To be honest, I’ve been praying about what teacher my kids will have since March.

It’s not just our kids we want to bless as we send them off for a day of learning outside of our homes, though.  No matter what kind of school our child attends, there are teachers and leaders who impact their lives.  Homeschoolers have Awana, Scouts, and church leaders.  Private and public school students have a whole team of educators and administrators who impact their lives, too.

As I drove home from Open House the first year my children attended public school, God cut through my anxiety about teachers, bullies, academics, mean girls, and more to remind me:

This isn’t just for your kids.  This is for you, too.

My kids are my mission-field.  Their teachers and school staff are part of that ministry.  They pour themselves into my children and I want to pour myself out in blessing and encouraging them right back.

Here’s what even crazy busy moms and others can do to bless our teachers and schools.

  • Pray for them:  While we can’t solicit prayer requests or set up prayer groups in the public schools, moms can still get on their knees for students and teachers.momsinprayer You don’t even have to pray alone.  For two years, I’ve prayed with a local group of moms through Moms In Prayer International. We met once a week to pray for our own kids and the schools they attend.  Each week, we asked God to give wisdom strength, energy, and joy to the teachers, administrators and other school staff. To find a group for your school or to learn how to start one, please visit Moms In Prayer International.
  • Volunteer: This isn’t just for stay-at-home moms!  There’s a great deal of flexibility for school volunteers. You could help with the school newsletter, serve on the PTA, man the prize table at a school carnival, shelve books in the school library, listen to children read, walk kids back and forth to testing or pictures on special schedule days, make copies, and more.
  • Send Supplies:  We all get the lengthy school supply list at the beginning of the year, but keep in mind that supplies need to be replenished over time.  Many teachers and teaching assistants buy glue sticks, pencils and other supplies with their own money.  Here are some supplies you could send in (depending on grade level):
    • Pencils
    • Paper
    • Notebook reinforcers
    • Dry erase markers
    • Glue
    • Tissues
    • Clorox wipes

You can also periodically check with your child’s teacher to see if there’s anything he or she needs.

  • Show respect:  Let’s face it, when we think there’s a problem, we Mama Bears can be pretty tough.  Remember that the teacher you are talking to is a person with feelings, too.  Be sure to handle concerns appropriately.  You’re much more likely to have success that way.
    • First of all, don’t believe everything your child says. Give the teacher a chance to tell his or her side of the story, as well.
    • Let your child try to handle things on her own if possible.
    • Ask questions rather than making assertions and demands.  Teachers are professionals who likely have valuable input.  Try asking:Blessing a Teacher
      • How can we have more success this year?
      • What do you think we can do differently at home?
      • What can we change in the classroom?
      • What behaviors are you noticing in the classroom that we can address?
      • How can we work together to solve this problem?
    • Never show up at the classroom unexpectedly to talk to a teacher and don’t try to hold an impromptu conference on Back to School Night or during Open House. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to give you their full attention or even remember later what you talk about during those busy times.  Always ask for a separate conference time—maybe even over the phone—at their convenience to talk about your child.
    • Don’t teach your kids to disrespect teachers by criticizing them at home in front of your children.
  • Be an encouragement:  If you need some ideas for teacher gifts, consider handmade presents, snacks, chocolate, gift cards to area restaurants or Starbucks, or lotion.  I’ve posted my all time favorites on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/roomtobreathe3/cute-gift-ideas/The best gift, though, is a thoughtful, personal thank you note telling just what you appreciate about them as a teacher.  That’s something that fits every budget and that they can cherish forever.Teachers probably hear plenty of times through the year what’s wrong.  Let’s be sure we take the time to tell them what’s right and to thank them for it.

It’s more than a little scary to entrust our kids to teachers and school administrators that we don’t really know.  That’s such a powerful reason to be in prayer for them and to try to make this relationship a successful one.  Ultimately, we can be a blessing to teachers by keeping in mind what Paul said: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 NLT).

What are your best tips on how to bless our teachers and schools?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

What I’m Pondering

Maybe it begins in the hospital, that first moment you see this little life and she blinks her eyes in your direction because she’s heard your voice, un-muffled for the first time by the sound of your heart beat and the shushing of your womb.

Maybe, if we’re being truthful, it begins before that.  We moms analyze morning sickness, aerobic kicking routines versus squirmy tummy rolls, a baby sucking his thumb on the ultrasound or another one turning somersaults and having to be chased around by the technician to keep him on the screen.

We think about our children, consider their character, who God has made them and how He has gifted them.

We think about what they like to eat and why, whether they keep to the schedule willingly or fight it all the way.  We consider whether they are spontaneous, creative, artistic, apassionatemomnalytical, strong-willed, stubborn, articulate, shy, introverted or extroverted.

And then we ponder what to do about it.

Like how I still remember the first time my middle girl handed me a fistful of air and asked me to eat the “sandwich” she had made for me when her older sister had never yet cooked up a pretend meal for me to taste.

Or how I watched as one of my daughters played with her toys by lining them all up in one straight line, categorizing the farm animals into groups.  And my second daughter played with the same toys by creating elaborate story lines and interactions like, “Hi, what is your name?  I’m here to see the farm!”

And how two of my daughters can play for hours on their own without any need for outside conversation or stimulation and my oldest daughter can’t survive 15 minutes without someone to do things with her.

I ponder all this because God has given me these gifts, these children, and being a mom means engaging in the discipline of pondering, taking the time to listen without speaking, watch without intervening, evaluate, assess, and yes, even marvel.

Sometimes we miss it.  We’re busy; they’re busy.  They struggle and we don’t realize it.  They needed us and we failed to see.  They hurt and we were distracted.

But our desire, our goal as moms, is to mother like Mary, who

“was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them” (Luke 2:9 HCSB).

We do this because want to get this right.  We want to parent these blessings with wisdom, making the right choices for their benefit and for their future.  God teaches us who they are only when we take time to pay attention.

In her book, The Passionate Mom, Susan Merrill writes that a mom must

ponder everything she learns about her child so she can truly know her child.

This in turn becomes a spiritual discipline all its own, because pondering is the call of every mom.

More than this, it’s the call of every Christ-follower.

None of us can randomly and haphazardly scramble through this life maze and find wisdom without hunting for it or choose to turn here and there correctly without actively pursuing direction.

The Psalmist challenged us:

Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord (Psalm 107:43 NIV).

Wisdom comes from heeding…from pondering.

And what do we meditate on?  What do we watch so carefully and take our time to consider, churning it over in our mind, thinking of the implications and action steps?

We ponder the “loving deeds of the Lord.”

Not just skip right over them in haste and busyness.  Not shout back a hurried “thanks, God” as we tumble on our way headfirst into another crisis.

No, here we pause and take the time to see and to say, “Look how God showed His love for me…what does this mean for me now and tomorrow and every day to come?”

Solomon assured us that attaining wisdom is an active pursuit:

Tune your ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.  Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures (Prov. 2:2-4)

Tune in.

Concentrate.

Cry out for it.

Ask for it.

Search and seek like it’s the greatest treasure and you the Indiana Jones in this adventure.

Knowing our children doesn’t happen accidentally.  We don’t become the expert on our baby instantly at birth or know all we need to know to parent them into adulthood before the nurse rolls us out of the hospital in the wheelchair.

We learn through pondering.

And this God of ours…who He is and how He works, what He desires and plans for us…we can’t fathom without the wisdom that comes through pondering His loving deeds and pursuing wisdom actively, passionately, constantly, and even patiently.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King

Finding God While Folding Clothes

I was crying and laughing at the same time.

All these years, I’ve heard about that, how you’re spilling over with overwhelming emotions and your body just doesn’t know what to do.  Cry out the tears?  Burst out in laughter?

There’s Sarah in the Bible, who waited month after month, year after year, decade after decade for a baby…and then when God said she’d have a son, she laughed.  She just couldn’t hold that in, that joy….that disbelief…that incredulity….that moment of shock when your whole life changes in one second and you’re thrown off balance and grabbing onto a furniture or to an outstretched hand to  steady yourself.

Me?  A son?

Sarah had her moment; I had mine.  Lying there on an exam table while an ultrasound tech rolled a wand expertly over my pregnant self.  She tells me these are kidneys, this is the stomach, there are the chambers of the heart….My baby looks so beautiful and healthy, and I’m already exhaling that big held in breath and each of my muscles slowly relaxes just hearing the good news.

Then she says the words, “It’s a boy.”

This momma to three daughters laughed through tears.  I can’t even remember what I said, but it was something like:  No way!  I can’t even believe it.  Are you sure?  Are you sure your sure?

My husband asks me later if I’m disappointed, but it’s not that.  I’m excited, yes, just still in a bit of shock.

All these years, I’ve become a girl’s mom.  I’ve learned all things girl and prayed over all things girl, read the books and considered the truths about being a mom to girls.

Truth be told, I’m feeling pretty confident most days, not always but often, thinking maybe I’ve gotten the hang of this. Maybe I know what to do.

Bringing up girls is what I do and being a mom to daughters is who I am.

Now I’m reading blog posts and books and listening to podcasts about raising boys.  I’ve watched sons with their moms in the store, in the park, at the school.  I’ve leaned in close and listened to friends and made mental notes about being a mom to boys. 

And I’ve prayed.

Maybe that’s the point.

Nine years ago, pregnant with my very first baby, I thought I’d have all boys and thought I’d be a great boys’ mom.  That was when the news of a daughter first shook apart any foolish confidence I had.

How I had prayed then when God gave me this unexpected gift of three daughters, and my Mom-life still holds together simply because of my worn-out knees from constant prayer.

So here I am now, stumbling down onto my knees again and I’m reminded: I am insufficient.  I don’t know.  I don’t have it all together and I’m not sure how to do this right.

I start by dragging out bag after bag of girls’ clothes from the Rubbermaid containers in the garage and sorting them into piles to give away to friends.004

Then I remember how over the years some people mis-heard the news and thought we were having a son when we were having another girl, so they gave me gifts for boys.  Then there were those who worried that ultrasound techs got things wrong, so they gave me gifts of yellow, green and white just in case.

I pull out the collection I’ve amassed over 9 years of having babies.

And right there God meets me.  Right there as I’m folding these tiny boy’s clothes and watching the pile grow.

I had no idea how long He’d been at work preparing me for a son.  I didn’t realize how much abundance He’d provided unexpectedly and beyond all reason.  Blue outfits, blue t-shirts, little boy washcloths and towels, hats, blankets, mittens, sleepers, and socks: it all piled up on the back of my sofa as I folded the clothes until the piles were about falling over.

God had been at work all along, making room for grace.

I still feel insufficient.  I still feel overwhelmed with all that I don’t know and amazed that He would trust this gift to me when I feel so incapable.

Paul said it, though:

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

This grace of God’s is sufficient.

But we don’t realize it, don’t rely on that, don’t allow Him to be fully sufficient until we realize just how insufficient we are.   The more we are driven to our knees by our unworthiness, the more we declare Him worthy of all praise.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King