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~

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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

Weekend Rerun: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

In just over a week, all three of my kids will be heading back to school.  Yes, all three!  My baby girl is starting preschool this year. 

So, in the days ahead, I’ll be sharing some new thoughts and re-running some of my past posts about school and life and all the lessons therein.  I hope you enjoy!
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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

Originally posted on September 1, 2011

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:42

I’m a mom who likes to think she knows best for her kids.  So, with all my “Mom-Knows-Best” skills, I signed up my middle girl for our church’s private kindergarten the week that registration opened.

For months I prayed the kindergarten class would reach the necessary enrollment.  I stressed and worried and spilled over all my freaked out mother concern to anyone with a listening ear about how my daughter’s life would be destroyed at five years old if they cancelled the class.

Slowly, I transformed my prayers.  I whispered what started as an uncertain and half-hearted, “Not my will, but yours be done.”  Over time, I began to actually mean what I prayed.  It was a radical shift for me and not a holy place I often reach in this always-in-control life of mine.

Then I picked up the ringing phone and heard the official news. No kindergarten due to low enrollment.

Off I sped to the local public school and registered my little girl in a building and system that seemed too big and unknown.

And I prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

Then began the stress over her teacher.

I prayed for that one special teacher who would connect with my daughter and make her first year of elementary school as exciting and engaging as possible and who would expertly work with her strengths and weaknesses.

We walked into the classroom on open house.  I wasn’t sure what to think and my child did what I had feared all along—she fell back into herself and shut down in an instant.  (Followup note: We ended up loving this teacher.  God answered my every prayer for Lauren).

In that moment, I was ready to do anything—unregister her, ask for a move to a different class.  Right away, I prepared to step in and assume control from a God who seemed to be messing this all up.

Then I asked myself–-Had I not prayed all along for the best possible teacher and environment for my daughter?  Could I trust my God to know what is best for my precious girl? Could I place her in His hands?

I whispered in my daughter’s ear as we sat in that kindergarten classroom, “Lauren, I have prayed for you every day that God would give you the right school and the right teacher.  He has brought you here so we will trust it’s going to be perfect and wonderful.”

And I silently prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

We so often model our prayers on The Lord’s Prayer, the “our Father who art in heaven” that Jesus taught to the disciples.  And so we should.

That prayer with its “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” echoes Jesus’ own words.  We can thus imitate the very prayer of our Savior Himself as He bowed low in Gethsemane, submitting His own desires to the perfect plan of the Father.  “Not my will, but yours be done,” He prayed that night.

It’s unlikely that you are struggling with the same issue as me.  Maybe your kids are grown and married.  Maybe you’re single.  Maybe you’re still rocking an infant at night.

Even so, perhaps you and I are in the same place.  We, with all our knowledge and expertise, think we have formed a perfect plan and then God intervenes.  He declines to give us what we want.

He tells us “no.”

Maybe you, like me, are less likely to react with the submission of Jesus and instead throw temper tantrums like Jonah.

The prophet Jonah had a plan, too.  He had a successful prophetic ministry to the Hebrew people.  Yes, Jonah had a good thing going and his plans for his life probably included retiring after a fulfilling career as the voice of good news to his own nation.

Then God commissioned him to be an evangelist to a pagan nation that had long been the brutal enemy of the Hebrews.

You likely know the story.  He ran away from God, spent three days in a fish’s belly, and then after being vomited up on shore, finally obeyed God.

To a pagan nation, he preached coming judgment and they repented.  Even the king donned sackcloth and ashes.  It was one of the largest revivals in history—a whole nation turning to God in the course of one day.

Did Jonah rejoice?  Did he give praise?

Jonah 4:1 says, “but it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.”

We could get angry, you and I, when things don’t go our way.  We could stomp away from God’s plan and cross our arms in defiance.  We could run, fast and hard, jumping onto the first ship out of this place.  We could obey, but with an attitude.

Or we could pray, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and trust that our Heavenly Father knows best.  We could remember His promise to work “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

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Live in my area and want to pray for your kids’ school year?  Everyone is invited to are invited to Newington Baptist Church on Tuesday, September 4th at 10:30 a.m. for First Pray–a time of encouragement and prayer for our kids, their teachers, principals, and school staff.  Won’t you join us? 

For working moms, you can email me your child’s name, grade, school and homeroom teacher and we’ll pray for them, as well: heatherking@cox.net

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com 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.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.