Why I Was Sprawled on the Floor of the Wal-Mart

Psalm 27-4

There’s one item every year.

Every single year.

There was the Elmer’s glue one year that could not be “no run ” Unfortunately, Wal-Mart stocks a million bottles of “no run” glue and keeps a small, more expensive supply of the other kind of Elmer’s hidden away on back shelves.

And there’s the fact that supply lists ask for 24 or 48 pencils, and pencils are sold in groups of 10.  So, you can have 20 pencils or 30 pencils, but to get 24 I have to start opening packages.

The yellow plastic folder with pockets and no prongs, though, wins the award for most elusive school supply item on my list three years running.

Last year, I made a grand effort.  I checked every office supply store, dollar store and Target/Wal-Mart within 30 minutes of my home.  Every time I stopped my minivan at another store, my daughters piped up from the back, “Yellow folder?”

Yes, yellow folder!!  School is starting soon and I am still missing this stinking yellow folder!

Folder-makers actually used to produce and sell this rare treasure.   My oldest daughter had one in first grade, so I know this from experience.

But the operative words here are “used to.”

Apparently, that was the last time these folders were made.  On Amazon last year, private sellers were trying to get desperate parents like myself to pay $30 for this prize. This year, that price has spiked to over $60.

For a folder.

I confess that the hunter in me has in fact almost given in and paid 10 times what any sane person would pay for a folder.  Crazy, I know!  But I am a doer, a rule-follower, a get-things-done kind of girl, and I ….must….check….every…..box…..on the school supply list or die trying.

I finally stopped all the crazy, though, and raised the white flag of defeat last year.  I just carried in alternatives to my daughter’s teacher.

You can have a yellow paper folder with prongs and pockets….A yellow paper folder with pockets and no prongs….A polka dotted plastic folder with some yellow circles on it.

But the one thing I don’t have for you is a plastic yellow folder with pockets and no prongs.  I’m sorry.  Please do not punish my child.

Of course, my daughter’s teacher cheerfully scooped up all three folders from my hands and said, “It’ll be fine!!”

Maybe part of me was expecting a “tsk, tsk, tsk” or to feel like a failure Mom, but instead she showed me a blanket of grace covering over all of my obsessive worrying.

What a relief!

Now, I don’t mind school supply shopping. Buying pencils, pens, and paper is pretty much my happy place.

But I wouldn’t mind if a teacher peeked into the folder aisle at Wal-Mart and saw this rainbow of colors and noticed the absence of yellow…

Please notice the lack of yellow

Please notice the lack of yellow

Then maybe next year they’d ask for an orange folder instead.  I can give you orange!  Or white!  I can give you white!

Just not yellow.

Please have mercy.

Here’s the thing, this year as I sprawled on the floor dodging the feet of the mob of school supply shoppers in Wal-Mart while sorting through every single bin of folders looking for yet another yellow one…again…it hit me.

I sure am willing to exert a ton of effort, spend a whole lot of time, publicly embarrass myself, and drive myself a mountain of crazy to find a folder.

What lengths will I go to in order seek the face of God?

When I feel like He’s hiding, do I shrug it off and move on or do I seek Him with my whole heart?

Is checking the “quiet time” box off my to-do list all I care about or do I just want Jesus, more and more of Jesus?

Am I too easily satisfied with ‘enough’ of God or am I desperately longing see His face?

What about you?

Moses stood on the holy mountain facing our Mighty God and even then didn’t stop pressing in for more.

He asked God, “Please show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18).

Tony Evans writes:

“What’s fascinating to me about this whole situation is that Moses could have been satisfied with the burning bush. He could have been satisfied with the 10 miraculous plagues. He could have been more than satisfied with the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s armies. But Moses wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more of God. And more. And even more.”  (The Power of God’s Names).

Lord, may we not be too easily satisfied.  May we put in every effort, may we go to every length, may we press in with desperation as we hunt for the greatest treasure of all: More of Your presence.  ~Amen~

P. S. Turns out I kept the old plastic yellow folder from first grade, cleaned it up with a Clorox wipe and got the permanent marker off with some rubbing alcohol.  Recycling old school supplies for the win!

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.


Keep Praying, Keep Hoping, Keep Looking

Lunches packed for the last time. Desks cleared, backpacks cleaned out and stowed away. Field day over.  Class parties celebrated.  Awards ceremony concluded and certificates photographed.  End-of-the-year pictures taken of each daughter and compared to the photos from the first day of the school year.

And now we collapse.  We did it.  Somehow it feels like a joint accomplishment, not just theirs.  Sure, my kids worked hard. So did I.  And somehow, by God’s grace, we made it here to summer vacation.lasdayofschool

It’s only taken 15 months of prayer.  I started praying for this school year last March, praying for this teacher, this classroom, these friends, this school, these character issues, and these lessons.

And here as the school year ends, I give thanks:

Thank You, Lord, for answering my pleas for my children.  Thank You for helping them learn, being with them in all of the struggles that have sent this loving (and worried) mama to her knees.  Thank You for helping them with difficult concepts and friendship drama, bullies and mistakes on tests, report cards and forgetfulness. Thank You for these teachers You chose specially for my kids.

And I began again, just that quickly, one sentence to another, thank God for this year and then praying for next year: for classroom placements and teacher assignments, for the responsibilities of a new grade and for the friendships they’d make.

So it continues.

“Pray without ceasing….” that’s what Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

He meant that living prayer, that breathing in and breathing out of living life alongside God, taking in crises and handing them right on over to the Lord, receiving blessing and offering up spontaneous praise.prayer

It means no more arbitrary separations between the sacred and the secular, between the holy parts of my life where God is welcome and invited and the dusty living rooms of our hearts where we try to hide away the clutter in corners.

Having kids, though, reminds me of this, too:

Prayer is perpetual; it’s insistent and consistent.

And sometimes I’m not.  I’m driven to the throne by need and I’m pouring out pleas of desperation until the need eases a bit.  Or perhaps I just grow weary or fall back into the coziness of complacency and apathy.

I’m not praying so fervently any more. It’s more like unemotional have-to prayers, perhaps performed out of duty, perhaps totally forgotten and not prayed at all.

We pray for that intervention, that salvation, that redemption, that rescue…for us or for another….and then slowly we cease the praying.   We need the reminder to keep on keeping on, to not give up asking God for that healing and to refuse to stop praying for a loved one’s salvation.

With kids, you can’t really forget, not for long.  Time just pushes you right through from prayer need to prayer need.  I’m not even done praying over one school year before I’m on my knees for the next.

I read the Psalms and here is the reminder anew:

“But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favor.  In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation” (Psalm 69:13 NLT).

“But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more” (Psalm 71:14 NLT).

“We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal” (Psalm 123:2 NLT).

Keep praying….keep hoping….keep looking.

Keep at it and when He answers, press on in more prayer.

With this fresh resolve, I flip through the pages of the neglected prayer journal.  What did I pray then….and what do I still need to pray now?

What have you neglected in prayer?  What have you given up on and long since stopped asking God for?  Who used to be on your prayer list but somehow slipped off?

It’s discipline to begin again.  And when we cease praying, which feels like the inevitable failing of us forgetful ones, we return again and resolve again to be insistent and consistent in seeking God and hoping in His deliverance.

What have you stopped praying about that you need to pray for again?  What prayers are you already praying for your children’s next school year?

Originally posted June 7, 2013

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