Being a Light: Encouragement and Resources for Christian Families in Public Schools

We’ve finished the Open House blitz over here at our house:  Three open houses at two different schools in three days.

We met our teachers, turned in our school supplies, compared class schedules with friends, opened lockers, navigated new hallways, and filled out forms–lots and lots of forms.

Now we’re back to enjoying four more days of summer break before the big yellow bus arrives on Tuesday for the first day of school.

Maybe you have kids who have already headed back to school for the year.  Maybe you’re like me with the brand new backpacks lined up and ready to go for next week.

Maybe you’re a teacher….or a praying grandma….or a young mom thinking about schooling options for her little ones.

There are so many great resources out there for homeschooling parents, which is fantastic for my many homeschool friends!  You can Google and Pinterest search away to find support, encouragement, practical tips, and curriculum ideas.

But for those of  us who have chosen a traditional school setting for our kids, there aren’t always as many resources available.  In our time as a Christian family in our local public schools, I’ve searched for books , prayers, tips and encouragement and found a few gems.  They are reminders that our kids can be blessed in these schools and our families can be a blessing there, as well.

Here are some of my discoveries:

Books

  • Going Public:  Your Child Can Thrive in Public SchoolWhen I was first praying over whether to homeschool or send my kids to  public school, I found this book and read it all the way through in a weekend–no small feat with three kids five and under!  I just soaked up all of the encouragement that I wasn’t dooming my kids to failed faith and failed futures by sending them to school.

For those with tweens and teens in middle school, Jessie Clemence has put together a devotional just for you!

Fern Nichols from Moms in Prayer International has written a few books on praying for your kids.

Check out the prayers on pages 102-140 in Mom’s Little  Book of Powerful Prayers reminders that God  is carrying our children.

Websites:

Prayer Prompts and bible verses:

Here are some of the prayer prompts and Bible verse collections I’ve created to help me focus in prayer during my kids’ school year.  I hope you find some that are helpful!

 

7 Prayers for your Home and Family

Hello friends!  I’m hanging up  a little sign here on the blog for the next week:

I’m hoping to catch some rest and fun with my kids while we have a little break from school and some of our normal activities.  While I’m away, I’m sharing this prayer post from last year.

I’ll also be posting the Scriptures and prayers below as daily reminders to pray over on my Facebook author page all next week.  You can join me there and pray with me each day!


It’s usually when I watch my children sleep.

Or when my tired infant son finally relaxes his on-the-go muscles and snuggles into me as I sway next to his crib.

That’s when I pray it.  Like a whispered prayer, one you can’t find all the words for, not when your heart is so full (or you are so sleep-deprived).  But it’s passionate and desperate:

Help me do this, Lord!  Help me be the wife and mom You want me to be and that they need me to be.

I need some ways to cover our home and family in prayer so that I can commit this all to Him and seek His help every day.

So, here they are:  Seven Prayers for Your Home and Family.  These are the verses I pray and the requests I make.  What about you?  Please comment with your own verses and prayers.

  • SALVATION

    • Prayer:

      God, help us to keep this as our focus and never lose sight of the most important gift and responsibility you have given us—the salvation of our family.  It’s easy to get caught up in worldly standards of success and measures of our worth, especially as parents.  But honor rolls, scholarships, awards, and accolades don’t mean anything compared to salvation in Jesus Christ.  Our greatest joy would be to see our children ‘walking in the truth.’ We pray that every member of our family will choose a personal, real, abiding, and powerful relationship with our Savior and that we will ask Him to reign over our lives both as a family and as individuals.

    • Scripture verses:

 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord(Joshua 24:15 NIV).

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4)

  • PEACE

    • Prayer:

      Lord, may our homes be havens of peace. The world around us can be stressful and high-pressured.  We may be surrounded by conflict, battles, and oppression outside this home, but we pray that inside these walls, You will bring peace.  Help us to rest in You.  Help us communicate with grace, offer love and support, and speak in love.  Even in the stressful rush of the mornings as we head out the door to school, work, church and other activities, may we breathe deeply and choose peace, gentleness, and kindness with one another.

    • Scripture Verses:

      Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27 NIV).

       “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).

  • A GODLY LEGACY

    • Prayer:

      No matter what our faith background up to this point, we pray for a heritage of faith, godliness, righteousness, salvation, and a passion for Your Word and for the Gospel.  Help us to take the time to teach our children truth.  We don’t want to ever be so busy that we neglect to teach our children about You.  Give us the right words to say and guide our discussions with our children.  May our children choose to marry strong Christians and raise their own children in Your Word.  Where we have gone astray, we pray for grace and new opportunities.  For our adult children and our grandchildren, we ask that You will turn their hearts and minds to You even now.

    • Scripture Verses:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it  (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

  • UNITY AND LOVE

    • Prayer:

      Father, help us to remember that we are not just individuals out to achieve our own agendas.  You have joined us together as a family; unite our hearts in love.  Remind us that we are stronger together.  Show us how to love each other sacrificially, graciously, and generously every day.  May we serve each other, performing even the smallest acts of kindness for one another without complaint or score-keeping.  We ask that our love for one another reflect Christ’s sacrificial and unconditional love so that others will look at our home and our family, and see You.  Let our love for one another draw others to know your love for them.

    • Scripture Verses

      Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7 ESV). By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35 ESV).

      Two are better than one,
          because they have a good return for their labor:
      10 If either of them falls down,
          one can help the other up.
      But pity anyone who falls
          and has no one to help them up.
      11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
          But how can one keep warm alone?
      12 Though one may be overpowered,
          two can defend themselves.
      A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV).

  • STEWARDSHIP

    • Prayer:

      Father, You know our needs.  We lay them at Your feet and ask for Your provision.  We trust in You as our Provider.  Lord, we ask for blessing, not so that we can stash it away, or indulge our own material desires.  We don’t need the biggest house or the flashiest car or the most expensive clothes.  We ask for blessing so that we may bless others.  May we be good stewards of what You have given so that we can give it away to support missions and to care for others in need.  Please open our eyes to the needs of others around us and help us to give quickly and give generously.

    • Scripture Verses:

      And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

      The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor (Proverbs 22:9 NIV).

  • PURITY

    • Prayer:

      God, it is so easy to fall into the pitfalls and traps of sin and temptation.  We are surrounded by what is wrong.  Help us choose what is right.  Give us strength to be vigilant about protecting the influences inside of our home, and when possible, outside of it, as well.  Holy Spirit, prompt our hearts when we need to walk away, when we need to stop listening, stop reading, stop watching…..and help us fill our minds and hearts only with what is good, true, righteous, and pure.  May we be set apart for You, living in this world, but not of it.

    • Scripture Verses:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-6 ESV).

  • LAUGHTER AND JOY

    • Prayer:

      Lord, we know that there will be hard times, but we pray that You will continually stir our hearts to joy.  Let our home be a place of laughter.  Open our eyes to see reasons to rejoice, stories to share, jokes to tell, and smiles to give one another.  Make our home a place of rejoicing.

    • Scripture Verses:


      A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

      Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them” (Psalm 125:2 ESV).

      Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 ESV)

      IF YOU WOULD LIKE A PRINTOUT OF THESE PRAYERS TO PLACE IN YOUR BIBLE OR JOURNAL OR MAYBE ON YOUR FRIDGE OR BATHROOM MIRROR, YOU CAN CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE PRINTABLE!

      YOU CAN ALSO CHECK OUT 12 VERSES TO PRAY FOR YOUR HUSBAND AND 14 DAYS OF PRAYER FOR YOUR MARRIAGE WITH 1 CORINTHIANS 13 FOR OTHER WAYS TO BE IN PRAYER FOR YOUR FAMILY.

      Originally published february 17, 2016

The One Thing I Need to do as a Mom

lamentations2-19

I prayed for this.

This girl of mine brought home stories from kindergarten about this friend and that friend and her BFFFL (Best Friend Forever For Life) and what top-secret info they had shared with her on the playground.

She learned words I didn’t want her to know.  She learned attitudes.  She learned meanness.  She learned insults.   She learned that when you spell S-E-X you should whisper.  She learned far more than a five-year-old needed to know.

I visited her classroom and passed out snacks for a class party, listening into the conversation at her little table….

The kids interrogated me about why I wouldn’t let my daughter watch certain shows on TV.  I felt like I was in a courtroom and this group of kindergarteners were trying to break me down under cross-examination.

By her second grade year, I finally spilled it out as a prayer request in my small group.  My girl was fiercely loyal to friends who were tripping up her heart, and she just followed along after them like a blind sheep following another blind sheep off a cliff.

Dear Jesus, please help my girl choose good friends who are kind and who will spur her on to excellence, who will help her make good choices and encourage her to be her best, and who won’t lead her away from you.

Now I watch her playing with her friends, and I gush out gratitude because God so graciously answered my prayers for my girl.

She has gathered around her the nicest group of quirky, funny, playful, kind, encouraging, creative, sweet, and thoughtful girls, and each one of them is a reminder that God hears our prayers for our children.

He had built that shelter around her heart when she most needed it.

And I am thankful.

Sometimes it’s wearying, to keep praying when we don’t see the answer and to persevere on our knees when we don’t see results.  Praying isn’t an insta-fix or a quick solution.

And some days I’m overwhelmed with my failings and failures as a mom.

I get caught up in what I didn’t do.  I beat myself up over what I forgot.  I stress over what fell by the wayside.  I feel like it’s never enough and I should have done more.  I said the wrong thing.  I stepped in when I should have let my child handle it….or I didn’t step in when they needed me to handle it.  I regret a decision and I wish I could take back what I said.

But what I need to know—-what moms need to know—-is this:

What matters most as a mom is time on our knees for our children.

We don’t have to get wrapped up in programs, extras, Pinterest-activities, decorations, household management strategies, and developmental milestones.

We don’t have to compare ourselves to any other mom or our kids to any other kids.

We care for their needs.  We love them.  We encourage their hearts, and sometimes we also stress and fret ourselves into a blubbering mess over our kids.

Yet, we can trust God to care for our children. He knows them and He loves them even more than we do.

So, the best we can do for them is give them to Him.

I read the Psalms of David often, and pray through them, but I notice this one emptiness in his prayer life…..I don’t see him pray for his kids.

Mary prayed for Jesus.

Zechariah prayed for John the Baptist.

Abraham blessed Isaac.

Jacob prayed over his sons and his grandsons.

But David?

In Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado writes:

Aside from the prayer he offered for Bathsheba’s baby, Scripture gives no indication that he ever prayed for his family. He prayed about the Philistines, interceded for his warriors.  He offered prayers for Jonathan, his friend, and for Saul, his archrival.  But as far as his family was concerned, it’s as if they never existed.”

David gave his kids a kingdom.  He gave them power and financial success.

Maybe he should have given them the gift of a praying parent.

This is the gift I hope to give my children:

Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner (Lamentations 2:19 NIV)

Originally published April 22, 2015

7 Prayers for Your Home and Family (plus a free printable!)

prayers for home and family

It’s usually when I watch my children sleep.

Or when my tired infant son finally relaxes his on-the-go muscles and snuggles into me as I sway next to his crib.

That’s when I pray it.  Like a whispered prayer, one you can’t find all the words for, not when your heart is so full (or you are so sleep-deprived).  But it’s passionate and desperate:

Help me do this, Lord!  Help me be the wife and mom You want me to be and that they need me to be.

I need some ways to cover our home and family in prayer so that I can commit this all to Him and seek His help every day.

So, here they are:  Seven Prayers for Your Home and Family.  These are the verses I pray and the requests I make.  What about you?  Please comment with your own verses and prayers.

  • Salvation

    • Prayer:

      God, help us to keep this as our focus and never lose sight of the most important gift and responsibility you have given us—the salvation of our family.  It’s easy to get caught up in worldly standards of success and measures of our worth, especially as parents.  But honor rolls, scholarships, awards, and accolades don’t mean anything compared to salvation in Jesus Christ.  Our greatest joy would be to see our children ‘walking in the truth.’ We pray that every member of our family will choose a personal, real, abiding, and powerful relationship with our Savior and that we will ask Him to reign over our lives both as a family and as individuals.

    • Scripture verses:

 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15 NIV).

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4)

  • Peace

    • Prayer:

      Lord, may our homes be havens of peace. The world around us can be stressful and high-pressured.  We may be surrounded by conflict, battles, and oppression outside this home, but we pray that inside these walls, You will bring peace.  Help us to rest in You.  Help us communicate with grace, offer love and support, and speak in love.  Even in the stressful rush of the mornings as we head out the door to school, work, church and other activities, may we breathe deeply and choose peace, gentleness, and kindness with one another.

    • Scripture Verses:

      Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27 NIV).

       “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).

  • A Godly Legacy

    • Prayer:

      No matter what our faith background up to this point, we pray for a heritage of faith, godliness, righteousness, salvation, and a passion for Your Word and for the Gospel.  Help us to take the time to teach our children truth.  We don’t want to ever be so busy that we neglect to teach our children about You.  Give us the right words to say and guide our discussions with our children.  May our children choose to marry strong Christians and raise their own children in Your Word.  Where we have gone astray, we pray for grace and new opportunities.  For our adult children and our grandchildren, we ask that You will turn their hearts and minds to You even now.

    • Scripture Verses:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it  (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

  • Unity and Love

    • Prayer:

      Father, help us to remember that we are not just individuals out to achieve our own agendas.  You have joined us together as a family; unite our hearts in love.  Remind us that we are stronger together.  Show us how to love each other sacrificially, graciously, and generously every day.  May we serve each other, performing even the smallest acts of kindness for one another without complaint or score-keeping.  We ask that our love for one another reflect Christ’s sacrificial and unconditional love so that others will look at our home and our family, and see You.  Let our love for one another draw others to know your love for them.

    • Scripture Verses

      Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7 ESV). By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35 ESV).

      Two are better than one,
          because they have a good return for their labor:
      10 If either of them falls down,
          one can help the other up.
      But pity anyone who falls
          and has no one to help them up.
      11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
          But how can one keep warm alone?
      12 Though one may be overpowered,
          two can defend themselves.
      A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV).

  • Stewardship

    • Prayer:

      Father, You know our needs.  We lay them at Your feet and ask for Your provision.  We trust in You as our Provider.  Lord, we ask for blessing, not so that we can stash it away, or indulge our own material desires.  We don’t need the biggest house or the flashiest car or the most expensive clothes.  We ask for blessing so that we may bless others.  May we be good stewards of what You have given so that we can give it away to support missions and to care for others in need.  Please open our eyes to the needs of others around us and help us to give quickly and give generously.

    • Scripture Verses:

      And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

      The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor (Proverbs 22:9 NIV).

  • Purity

    • Prayer:

      God, it is so easy to fall into the pitfalls and traps of sin and temptation.  We are surrounded by what is wrong.  Help us choose what is right.  Give us strength to be vigilant about protecting the influences inside of our home, and when possible, outside of it, as well.  Holy Spirit, prompt our hearts when we need to walk away, when we need to stop listening, stop reading, stop watching…..and help us fill our minds and hearts only with what is good, true, righteous, and pure.  May we be set apart for You, living in this world, but not of it.

    • Scripture Verses:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-6 ESV).

  • Laughter and Joy

    • Prayer:

      Lord, we know that there will be hard times, but we pray that You will continually stir our hearts to joy.  Let our home be a place of laughter.  Open our eyes to see reasons to rejoice, stories to share, jokes to tell, and smiles to give one another.  Make our home a place of rejoicing.

    • Scripture Verses:


      A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

      Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them” (Psalm 125:2 ESV).

      Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 ESV)

      If you would like a printout of these prayers to place in Your Bible or journal or maybe on your fridge or bathroom mirror, you can click here for the free printable!

      You can also check out 12 Verses to Pray for Your Husband and 14 Days of Prayer for Your Marriage With 1 Corinthians 13 for other ways to be in prayer for your family.

Dear Daughter, When You’re Nine, Make It Count

philippians4

Dear Lauren,

There’s something about nine.

Eighth birthdays seem like a passageway to life as a ‘big kid.’ Welcome to third grade and the upper end of your elementary school years.

And then there’s ten, this monumental moment where you hit double digits and head into life as a ‘tween.’

But nine.

It’s a little bit of growing up and a little bit of holding on.  Prepping for the big time. Enjoying life as a little for just a bit longer.

And that’s good.  There’s no need to cling stubbornly to childishness and there’s no need to rush heedlessly into growing up.

So, happy ninth birthday! Enjoy it.  Celebrate this year.  Make it count, make it fun, and make it beautiful.

You are one loved girl.  Sure, you shield your face with your hand in order to ward off our attempts to kiss you.  You sidestep us as we try to give you a hug.  I say, “I love you,” and you blink big blue eyes at me and purposely refuse to say the magic words back, “I love you, too.”

I tell you how beautiful you are and you ‘harumph at me’ in annoyance.

“No mushy stuff,” you say.

Affection has to happen on your terms and I get that.  You cuddled up next to me on the sofa the other night and snuggled into my side and I just silently savored the moment.  If I made a big deal about it, you’d probably re-establish distance, but I just slipped my arm around you and let you sit there with me.

Because I love you.  That’s the truth.lauren

We love your cackle, the way you throw your whole body and voice into laughing over a silly joke, a groan-worthy pun, pranks and knock-knock routines.

I love that independent soul of yours, even if it does mean we stand toe-to-toe and battle out anything from meal-times, to piano practice, to math assignments.

I love how fiercely loyal you are to those you care about.

Enjoy who you are.  You like to call yourself a tomboy and you wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress unless it’s Easter Sunday or picture day at school (and even then you set pretty rigid parameters on acceptable clothing.)  That’s fine.  Girls don’t have to be prissy, frilly, pink and fancy.

Just remember that being a woman doesn’t mean being weak or being stepped on.  It’s no punishment to be a girl.  It’s an honor and privilege.

You’ve planned your whole life–no marriage, no kids, just two dogs that you’ll adopt from the pet shelter.  If that’s what God wants for you, great.  Just don’t think that somehow marriage is a burden or kids aren’t worth the pain of childbirth.

If you see anything when you look at your dad and me, I want you to see the way marriage is a blessing and a gift and how beautiful life is when lived with someone you adore who is your teammate and best friend.

Raw talent doesn’t determine success.  You’re astounding.  It was true when you were a toddler.  It’s true now.  You are a whirlwind of intelligence, memory, and creativity without being showy or in the spotlight most of the time.

Know this, though:  Hanging on tight and not giving up is far more important than being smart.

So it takes you more than two seconds to figure out a math problem. Don’t put your pencil down, tear up, shrug your shoulders and walk away.   Tackle it.  Battle it out.  Work on it this way and when that fails, work on it another way until you finally write that answer down.

So you have to actually study for 2 minutes.  So you can’t play a song on the piano perfectly the first time you look at it.

The only failure is giving up.  Wrong answers…Wrong notes…. All of that is okay as long as you are giving everything you have to give, persevering, overcoming fear, and learning from your mistakes.

We do excellence in this family, but we also do grace.  We love each other through mistakes because we know mistakes are the price to pay for growth and learning.

So, don’t avoid trying something because it takes effort or because you might fail.

Try.

If you fall, get back up, but DO try again.  DO push yourself for your best effort and never settle for what you can do with your eyes closed and your hands tied behind your back.  That’s just what’s easy.  Don’t settle for easy.  Live for the  challenge.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23 ESV)

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 ESV)

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.

Dear Daughter: Welcome to Double Digits…..

Dear Victoria,

I remember the day I turned 10 years old.

I stood in the kitchen next to the fridge, still in my pajamas.  My eyes blinked away sleep and my hair was a mess, and I ran my hands down the sides of my PJ’s to smooth them out.

My dad said, “Did you expect to look or feel different today?”

That shook me awake.

I hadn’t really been thinking anything.  I just stood in the moment without being all philosophical or deep.

But I guess it looked like I was examining my progress in life. Had I grown overnight?  Changed?  Matured?

Was I a different person today than I was when I stood in that same kitchen yesterday and chose between cereal, oatmeal and a Pop Tart?

Of course, growth doesn’t happen all in one night.  One magic 8-hour stretch of sleep doesn’t change who you are or what you look like.

But this year, all year, our family and friends have looked at you and then shaken their heads in wonder at me.IMG_1971

“I can’t believe it….”

That’s what they say.

They don’t even have to finish the thought. I know what they mean.  We think of you as a baby still and yet there you are standing so tall and thin, that long blond hair waving down your shoulders.

You may be growing up, but there are still little wisdom-pearls this momma wants to give you.   Now that you are days away from your tenth birthday, here’s what I want you to know:

You are loved

We sat around that table last month and you girls asked me the same questions we’ve been over time and time again.  “What was I like as a baby, mom?”  “What did I do?”  “What was my first word?”

I told the stories again–How you were so strong, Victoria.  Even in the hospital you held your head up that first day as if you were 4 months old, and doctors and nurses marveled at you.

Then I said how you cried and cried and you would scream it all out and fight for what you wanted.

But it turns out that story I was telling hurt your heart.  You felt like I was picking at you, like your sisters were better babies or somehow this was a competition of performance and you hadn’t measured up.

Beloved girl, never forget that you are loved.

This world will scream lies at you.  Sometimes your own feelings will bully you.

Hold on to the truth:  No matter what, you are totally and thoroughly loved by us and by God.  We adore you and we always have.

Even before I ever laid eyes on your beautiful face and you gripped my fingers with super-baby-strength, I loved you completely.victoria ballet

Own your own faith

That day you cried about my ‘baby stories,’ I told you to hold on to your testimony.  We saw that change in you.  It was this dramatic turning.

Yes, you worked us hard as new parents.  But that moment you prayed for Jesus to be your Savior, your heart turned over.  All your strength, determination and focus transformed with salvation into solid rock faith.

You stand up for what is right.  You set your heart and mind on things above.

You pour your heart and mind and soul into everything you do, working harder, harder, harder than those around you.  You set goals and you push at them without giving up.

Keep at it, my girl.  In life, yes.  In faith all the more.

You’re going to step out into the big wide world and find that people don’t believe what you believe.  People don’t obey God.  The world is broken and wrecked with sin.

You may be mocked, ostracized, tempted.

Do not forget your testimony.  You are a Jesus-girl and the older you get, the more that faith needs to be yours apart from your dad and me.

Don’t just listen to me read the Bible—-read it.  Don’t let me pray for you—-pray.  Don’t watch me worship—–worship.  In the end, it’s got to be between you and God.

Now is the time to pick up your faith in your own two hands.

We are in this together

Maybe sometimes during the next few years, it’ll feel like no one understands.

Maybe you’ll feel alone.  Maybe it’ll seem like the world is against you.  Maybe your dad and I will  appear harsh or stern or out of touch.  Maybe you’ll look at us and wish you were allowed to roll your eyes because these parents of yours are loony or even mean.  Maybe you’ll feel embarrassed to ask or start those tough conversations with me.

But, baby girl, we are in this together.

You and me, girlfriend.

I am never your enemy.  I am not against you.  I am for you.  Always.

And this space between us is a safe and honest space.  You can tell me.  You can ask me.  You can sob it all out even when it’s ugly crying.

No one is gonna celebrate you, pray for you, love on you, or have your back more than your dad and I do.

Sweet girl, there is so much more I want to say, but really—doesn’t it all come down to that?  Always remember, you are loved. 

Love,

~Mom~

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16 NLT)

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)

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

 

7 Prayers for Your Home and Family

It’s usually when I watch my children sleep.

Or when my tired infant son finally relaxes his on-the-go muscles and snuggles into me as I sway next to his crib.prayershomeandfamily

That’s when I pray it.  Like a whispered prayer, one you can’t find all the words for, not when your heart is so full (or you are so sleep-deprived).  But it’s passionate and desperate:

Help me do this, Lord!  Help me be the wife and mom You want me to be and that they need me to be.

I need some ways to cover our home and family in prayer so that I can commit this all to Him and seek His help every day.

So, here they are:  Seven Prayers for Your Home and Family.  These are the verses I pray and the requests I make.  What about you?  Please comment with your own verses and prayers.

  • Salvation

    • Prayer:

      God, help us to keep this as our focus and never lose sight of the most important gift and responsibility you have given us—the salvation of our family.  It’s easy to get caught up in worldly standards of success and measures of our worth, especially as parents.  But honor rolls, scholarships, awards, and accolades don’t mean anything compared to salvation in Jesus Christ.  Our greatest joy would be to see our children ‘walking in the truth.’ We pray that every member of our family will choose a personal, real, abiding, and powerful relationship with our Savior and that we will ask Him to reign over our lives both as a family and as individuals.

    • Scripture verses:

 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15 NIV).

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10 NIV)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4)

  • Peace

    • Prayer:

      Lord, may our homes be havens of peace. The world around us can be stressful and high-pressured.  We may be surrounded by conflict, battles, and oppression outside this home, but we pray that inside these walls, You will bring peace.  Help us to rest in You.  Help us communicate with grace, offer love and support, and speak in love.  Even in the stressful rush of the mornings as we head out the door to school, work, church and other activities, may we breathe deeply and choose peace, gentleness, and kindness with one another.

    • Scripture Verses:

      Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27 NIV).

       “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV).

  • A Godly Legacy

    • Prayer:

      No matter what our faith background up to this point, we pray for a heritage of faith, godliness, righteousness, salvation, and a passion for Your Word and for the Gospel.  Help us to take the time to teach our children truth.  We don’t want to ever be so busy that we neglect to teach our children about You.  Give us the right words to say and guide our discussions with our children.  May our children choose to marry strong Christians and raise their own children in Your Word.  Where we have gone astray, we pray for grace and new opportunities.  For our adult children and our grandchildren, we ask that You will turn their hearts and minds to You even now.

    • Scripture Verses:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it  (Proverbs 22:6 ESV).

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

  • Unity and Love

    • Prayer:

      Father, help us to remember that we are not just individuals out to achieve our own agendas.  You have joined us together as a family; unite our hearts in love.  Remind us that we are stronger together.  Show us how to love each other sacrificially, graciously, and generously every day.  May we serve each other, performing even the smallest acts of kindness for one another without complaint or score-keeping.  We ask that our love for one another reflect Christ’s sacrificial and unconditional love so that others will look at our home and our family, and see You.  Let our love for one another draw others to know your love for them.

    • Scripture Verses

      Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7 ESV). By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35 ESV).

      Two are better than one,
          because they have a good return for their labor:
      10 If either of them falls down,
          one can help the other up.
      But pity anyone who falls
          and has no one to help them up.
      11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
          But how can one keep warm alone?
      12 Though one may be overpowered,
          two can defend themselves.
      A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV).

  • Stewardship

    • Prayer:

      Father, You know our needs.  We lay them at Your feet and ask for Your provision.  We trust in You as our Provider.  Lord, we ask for blessing, not so that we can stash it away, or indulge our own material desires.  We don’t need the biggest house or the flashiest car or the most expensive clothes.  We ask for blessing so that we may bless others.  May we be good stewards of what You have given so that we can give it away to support missions and to care for others in need.  Please open our eyes to the needs of others around us and help us to give quickly and give generously.

    • Scripture Verses:

      And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

      The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor (Proverbs 22:9 NIV).

  • Purity

    • Prayer:

      God, it is so easy to fall into the pitfalls and traps of sin and temptation.  We are surrounded by what is wrong.  Help us choose what is right.  Give us strength to be vigilant about protecting the influences inside of our home, and when possible, outside of it, as well.  Holy Spirit, prompt our hearts when we need to walk away, when we need to stop listening, stop reading, stop watching…..and help us fill our minds and hearts only with what is good, true, righteous, and pure.  May we be set apart for You, living in this world, but not of it.

    • Scripture Verses:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:1-6 ESV).

  • Laughter and Joy

    • Prayer:

      Lord, we know that there will be hard times, but we pray that You will continually stir our hearts to joy.  Let our home be a place of laughter.  Open our eyes to see reasons to rejoice, stories to share, jokes to tell, and smiles to give one another.  Make our home a place of rejoicing.

    • Scripture Verses:


      A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22 ESV)

      Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them” (Psalm 125:2 ESV).

      Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11 ESV)

       

      If you would like a printout of these prayers to place in Your Bible or journal or maybe on your fridge or bathroom mirror, you can click here for the free printable!

      You can also check out 12 Verses to Pray for Your Husband and 14 Days of Prayer for Your Marriage With 1 Corinthians 13 for other ways to be in prayer for your family.

       

       

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

 

Dear Son: To Andrew

Many, many thanks to you all for your prayers, comments, encouragement, blessings, and help as we welcomed our son, Andrew Christopher, into our family last week.  God was with us.  Everything went smoothly and we are home and settling into life with a newborn!

Our son is beautiful, healthy, and such a precious gift.  Here’s my letter to him, the last of the letters to my children.

~heather~

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

Dear Andrew:

Your sister caught me crying over you last night.  She feared for me, worried that I physically hurt, worried that I was sad or scared about you.

Maybe one day this eight-year-old girl will be a mom watching her own newborn sleep and she’ll understand the tears.  I try to explain it to her now…how I’m crying because I’m happy.

But it’s so much more than that and she skips off to bed not really understanding, just content to know that mom is ‘okay.’Andrew

I blink these tears away or maybe they’ll slip down my cheek as I’m watching your baby facial expressions change, listening to you coo, stroking your tiny pink fingers and toes, running my hand softly over the outlines of your face or the fuzz (can’t really call it hair) on your tiny head, or watching your two deep-sea-blue eyes search the room and linger when you see my face.

I’m awestruck.  That’s what I am.  I’m overwhelmed at you, this tiny bundle of expectation, this incomparable gift of God given to your dad and me and to three wildly excited and proud big sisters.

How could God give me a gift so precious, so beautiful?

How could He trust me with the care of a son, a boy to teach about Godly manhood and character, courage, strength, passion for God and His Word and truth?

Already, you teach me with your days-old wisdom, and I’m learning a whole new world of diapering and outfits and caring for a baby boy.  But the lessons, the deep ones that will change who I am as a mom and as a woman, will continue for a long time.

You remind me of this grace, so abundant and undeserved, that God heaps on us.  It’s salvation plus…..the cross itself, the great miracle of mercy, plus a gift so valuable as you placed in the arms of imperfect me.

And isn’t God’s grace always this?  The once-for-all rescue for sinners in Christ’s sacrifice and then daily mercies that He lovingly gives us day after day after day….

So I worship.  All the time.  Worship becomes a middle-of-the-night event, a whispered prayer of tear-filled thanks to a God so mighty and so good.  You teach me how to breathe in and breathe out praise, how sometimes the most beautiful offerings of worship to God contain just three words: “Thank You, Lord.”

You teach me that I’m never on my own, and I’m so thankful for the reminder.  Maybe if you’d been another girl, a fourth daughter for me, I’d be tempted to think, “I’ve got this.  I can do this.  I know this…..I…..I…..I.

Now I am humbled.023

How can I be your mom?

Because God is with me.

How will I know how to train you and guide you?

Because God will give me wisdom, strength, all I need.

It’s a reminder I see even now, cradling your tiny feet in my hands and stroking your soft, pink baby toes.  All these months of knowing I was having a boy, I worried and fretted—how do I connect with him?  How do I relate to a boy?  How do I love him best?

And now I see it in your toes, God’s answer right to me.

You have my feet.

The way two of my toes on each foot connect together a little differently than most.  We’ve always called it “webbed” feet and none of your sisters inherited that from me.026

But you did.

Maybe that’s a little message from God to this nervous mom’s heart, that you are mine, specially chosen to be my son, and I have the privilege, the honor, the blessing to be your God-picked, God-designed, exact right mom for you.

Your dad and I hold you now in excited wonder, wanting so much to see who God designed you to be and what gifts and talents He’s placed in you.  We can’t wait to know you more and more.

And we are praying for you.

We’ve been praying all along, of course.  From the moment we knew you were coming, we held hands in a restaurant, celebrating our anniversary and praying over the news that you were coming.

We prayed about your name, wanting it to reflect God’s plan for you.

So you are Andrew Christopher….

Named for your dad, James Andrew, and named for the first disciple to follow Jesus.  In Scripture, Andrew is a pursuer of truth, first following John the Baptist, then following Jesus, and then bringing others, including Peter, to Christ, as well.

And Christopher, or “Christ-bearer…” one who brings Christ to others.

May it be so.  May your witness, your testimony for Him, your character, your love for God and His Word bring others to Christ and Christ to others.

We pray this verse of blessing over you:

This is what the Lord says:

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord
(Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV).

These are our prayers for you, our son.

~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 © 2012 Heather King

Dear Daughter: To Catherine

Dear blog friends and followers,

I’m probably still in the hospital today, hopefully cradling our healthy baby boy, hopefully recovering quickly from a C-section, hopefully (miraculously) getting some sleep.

This week while I’m away, I’ve scheduled posts in advance–some  letters to my children, one for each daughter and then one for my son.  I hope they bless you, too.

Thank you so much for your prayers for me, for my baby, and for my family this week!  I hope to be home, rested, and ready to start sharing with you updates, news, and devotionals again soon.

~heather~

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

Dear Catherine,

I call you my “Joy-Bucket,” you’re just so full of excitement, enthusiasm, and sweet irrepressible joy.  It spills right out of you and fills me up, too; it fills up everyone around you.

You’ve been our family cheerleader for years now, patiently sitting in the waiting room of the ballet studio, in the office or the car waiting to pick the girls up from school, in lobbies while your sisters finished camps and activities, and in the auditorium watching everyone else in the family rehearse and perform show after show.

And you never complained.

You happily tagged along and told us all what a great job we were doing.  You’ve made the best audience member even when I took you to see your dad perform in Music Man when you were just four months old.  The lights shown on that stage, the curtains opened and even then in all your baby sweetness, you were entranced by the show.Catherine

It’s thrilling to see you finally taking your turn now. Your turn to grab your backpack and skip out of the house so thrilled to spend a day at preschool.  Your turn to play through your first piano song and cheerfully practice every…single….day….without me ever reminding you.  Your turn to dance in your first ballet class and smile sheepishly as we hand you your first ballet flowers.

It thrills me to be your cheerleader now.

I’m supposed to be teaching you so much and yet every day…every….single….day….you teach me what it means to be beautiful and loving and kind.

Like how to put others first unselfishly and without complaint.  How to be  the first to tell someone else, “Great job!” and the first to clap your hands with enthusiastic applause.

You teach me how to be grateful.  Months after you receive a gift, you’ll slip a hug around my neck and exclaim, “Thank you so much for this, Mom.  It’s what I dreamed of….or what I always wanted….” and it’s the simplest thing ever but you act as if I’ve given you a treasure.

Even when I’m simply pulling boxes of hand-me-downs out of the garage, you still give wholehearted thanks.  You’re the third of three daughters.  Hand-me-downs are your reality.  And instead of complaining, you twirl around the house in every “new-to-you” dress and thank me as if I’d walked you into a store and bought it new off the rack.

You teach me to pray first rather than resorting to prayer after trying every other method of saving myself.  You bow your head all day, every day.

And you never start prayers asking, “God, please do this….”  No, you always pray, “Thank you, God, for helping me.  For making me feel better.  For making this a good day.  For keeping us safe…..” even when you’re still sick or the day is just beginning or we haven’t begun our journey.

You pray in faith.  You thank God in advance for the blessing and gift.

I’ve walked this Christian walk for almost 30 years now.  Three decades of faith in God, and I’m still learning about faith and prayer from my four-year-old daughter.

You have so much growing still to do, so much learning ahead of you, and I imagine the loveliness, the joyfully contagious beauty of you in the years to come.  It’s breathtaking to consider.

I pray that your faith becomes ever-more-personal, that all your questions and chatter about God turn into your own decision to follow Jesus as your Savior.Catherineballet

I hope you devote yourself to prayer for life, praying for your own children, for your grandchildren and even beyond.  It’s a gift God has given you, a calling even now, and there’s no stronger stance in this life than being on your knees before a holy and powerful God who loves you.

And He does love you, precious one.

So do we.

Before you were born, we prayed for you and prayed about the name God had chosen for you.  Catherine Susanna.  A woman of purity, authority and beauty.  A woman devoted to the cause of Christ.

Yes, indeed.

This is the verse your daddy picked out for you as a blessing before we even saw you for the first time:

The Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
(Psalm 147:11 NIV).

We do take such delight in your sweet spirit, your bravery, your strength, and your joy.

I know that God rejoices over you, too, delighting in who you are and all you will become.

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