Do you ever get tired of being the driver in your home? Y’know–driving the homework. The dishes from their hands to the dishwasher. The manners and respect. The time with God. The self-control in conflicts. The propriety in dating.
I need to admit: I get tired of the lack of my kids’ ownership in the values my husband and I care about–whether it’s peace, or order, or worship, or personal responsibility. And as my kids get older, in some ways, my control diminishes.
Like you, my heart is twisting as all eyes turn toward Hurricane Irma, which has already devastated the lives of so many in the Caribbean–and soon followed by Jose and Katia. With this morning’s earthquake in Mexico, the pummeling by Hurricane Harvey, and wildfires torching the West–pray with me for those torn from their homes and relying on the kindness of others for their next meal.
Victims of these natural disasters: We remember you, and we’re on our knees.
Readers: Will you pray with us?
Peace. Let them give all their anxiety and fear to you. As they trust you, guard their hearts in Your peace that’s beyond what makes sense (Philippians 4:8).
Provision. Please, care for their physical needs; their daily “bread”. Let them not worry about what they’ll eat or drink or wear, but trust that you see them and care deeply (Matthew 6:26). Let them seek you, and lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10). In times of deep need or even when they have plenty, give them the strength to endure anything (Philippians 4:13).
Wisdom. There are so many decisions to be made when life has been shattered. Help them to move forward not in impulsive fear, seeking peace–but operating from peace and in careful wisdom. Help them know each next step as they seek you (James 1:5-6).
Trust. It can be hardest to trust you when we walk through overwhelming grief and loss. Show each person the tender, specific care You take of them, the small graces, and your personal remembering of them. Let them trust You even when you take away (Job 1:21).
Care and hospitality. Father, let them see you in every open door, every glass of water, every kind smile and gentle grasp. Provide love for them through friends, family, and strangers. Go before these victims of tragedy, paving their way in graciousness. Motivate your people to love generously, as an act of love to you (Matthew 25:34-40).
Restoration. Yours is a story of resurrection; of ultimately giving so much more than You ask of us. Restore the happiness and necessities taken by these disasters (Joel 2:24-26).
Refuge. Lord, be their hiding place and refuge, a constant presence and help in trouble. Intimately and personally let them know You are there with them (Psalm 46:1).
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Tomorrow, I’m sending all four kids to school for the first time. Lunch box chaos, carpool lines, field trips extracurricular activities, homework, track and field day–these are all mine at the crack of dawn tomorrow. There’s some anxiety, some excitement. (And you should see the kids!)
In celebration of the new school year–and since many of you are new to this blog –I’m reposting these specific prayers for these individuals who powerfully influence our kids, families, and communities day after day.
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away! Grand processions of people telling all the good things of God!
Yeah, I’m leaving Africa soon. But Webster’s describes “poverty” as the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount. And don’t we all sense that “insufficient in amount”? Don’t we all sense that not-enough-ness?
1.That they’ll be… miserable. Well, that is, if they’re caught up in sin. I know, I know…this messes with a bit of a sacred cow; our children’s happiness is culturally paramount. I remember my mom praying this for a wayward sister, who was horrified when she found out! But there’s merit in asking God that if our kids are trapped in a lifestyle that’s killing their souls, their minds and hearts would feel sin for the misery, pain, and poison it is, so they’ll yearn for relief. David himself acknowledged about his time tangled in secret sin that
when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Psalm 32:3-4
God actually let David feel the oppression of his own choices. I pray my kids will experience limited unhappiness so they can revel in true freedom for a whole lot longer. (P.S. My mom’s prayer for my sister worked.) 2. That I won’t be the only one. The more I grapple with my remarkable weaknesses, I pray for other voices in my kids’ lives: people invested in them, abundant in areas I’m sorely lacking, and intimately involved enough to speak into my kids’ lives. Sometimes these other voices may be saying what I’m already saying, but in a different way that resonates with my child, and without relational static deafening our communication. Whether it’s coaches, mentors, teachers, small group leaders, other kids’ parents, neighbors, or relatives, I pray for people to invest in my kids deeply enough to shape them to be more like Jesus.
3.That they’ll be caught. I’m amazed at my limited reach; my limited sight; my limited knowledge of what their little minds are conniving. Grant it, I’m not my kids’ Holy Spirit. But I’m thankful that my kids are never in God’s blindspot. He knows exactly what they’re up to on the internet, at a friend’s house, or in the backseat of that car. So I pray they’ll be found out and brought to a place of deep, heart-level repentance.
4. That they’ll know their major. I love actively exploring and understanding alongside my kids as they sift through their unique, God-given makeup. From the time they’re young, I’d love for them to generally understand their personality profile, to own pored-through stacks of books on subjects they love, to have experimented with “tasters” of careers that fascinate them. Hopefully that will help them clarify what to do with all the ways they’re made. For some kids, I realize that takes longer than others; seriously–my kids can change their major six times (as long as it works with the ol’ pocketbook). But I love the adventure to find just what edges of God’s image they bear–and pray He’ll help us pursue its fullness (click here for more ideasto help kids grow into their giftedness). 5. More than inflated self-esteem, they’ll embrace self-forgetfulness. Of course I want to regularly, genuinely praise my children, identifying the image of God in them and acting as their biggest fan, the most intentional advocate for their gifts. But honestly, I don’t want my kids’ value built on their performance, or on how they look in a pair of jeans, or how well they can strike in soccer. I think this blogger says it well:
As much as it hurts me – feel less than. Esteem not yourself. Feel lonely. Feel unworthy. Feel unaccomplished. Feel small. Feel lost. Feel broken.
For if you believe you are greater than, your father and I have failed miserably. Among the broken you will find Christ… If you are never uncomfortable, weary, left out and un-praised how will you recognize the desolate? And if you are never desolate how will you recognize how much you need a Savior?
I will continue to put pictures of you on Facebook and brag about you. I will still cut the crust off your sandwiches – and bring you sonic slushes for no reason. It is my mommy nature – but I pray I never make you feel you are more than those around you. My prayer for you is that you came to serve, not be served.
Tim Keller uses the analogy of a courtroom: Rather than my kids constantly having to pump up an identity constructed around how well they’re meeting standards (theirs or ours)–daily rising or falling in the courtroom of others’ opinions or our own sense of achievement–we can acknowledge that Jesus has already obtained our verdict.
Author’s note: One my most beloved aspects of you, readers, is your inter-nationality. As you might tell by my life overseas, I have a deep appreciation for cultures other than my own; it shapes my life here. Allow me a brief diversion in these prayers for my own countrymen and one of the most influential nations on Earth–prayers partially gleaned from that perspective looking back at my own heritage.
I will rarely “get political” on this blog; I have people on both sides of most debates who I love dearly, and I personally prefer discussing issues in the context of loving relationships, rather than social media! Hopefully you’ll pray with me no matter your political persuasion. –Janel
1.Pray for simplicity of time and material belongings. We are one of the wealthiest–and most hurried–cultures to ever walk planet Earth. Jesus’ words to a harried, distracted Martha ring with great truth: “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). Pray that God would be where our treasure and our hearts are, and that we would seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:20-21,33).
Really glad you're here. Welcome to a lingering conversation--about a head-turning, undeserved kindness that's turned my life on its head. This site's about Jesus in a pair of well-worn Levi's: faith walking around in our sneakers, scuffing up against real life and real people.
I hope you'll find some questions worth asking, conversations worth engaging, compassion that's compelling, and practical ideas to knead genuine love into relationships. (...With a side of slightly irreverent humor.)
After five and a half years in Uganda, my family and I have recently returned to the U.S., where we continue to work on behalf of the poor. I write and love on my family from Colorado.