Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Books about prayer have been leaping off of bookshelves and into my hands for a while. Some are hokey, some are amazing, some are dull, some are exciting!
I know something about prayer. I grew up hearing about it, reading about it in the bible. Praying at meal times, bed times, troubeling times, praying for safety and for needs.
Suddenly, it seems, my heart is yearning for prayer. If I didn't pray early in the morning, I find myself sneaking off away from my LOUD family to spend a few moments in prayer. I keep a prayer journal and refer to it often. I want to speak to God and I want God to speak to me.
If you read my posts regularly, you'll notice that I often wonder why my life is the way it is. Most especially, when so many children? One of the reasons is becoming clear (one of many reasons).
Prayer. If it is difficult at best for me to get all six children out of the house to someplace where I have to have an eyeball and hand available for each one, by myself, chances are, we won't go. I end up saying
'no' to many activities because of my husband's schedule. I can not, in good consience, take my children on my own to whatever it is and expect everything to go well. So...we spend a little more time at home. I find a little more time to pray. My prayer time is becoming more purposeful. There is power it prayer. It's amazing to note things that happen when I know that people have been praying about a specific thing.
I know that God would have to 'ground' me in a significant way in order to make me consider prayer a significant and useful part of my life, then do it.


I wrote this post eight years ago, just at the beginning of my blogging journey.  I wish I could say I'm better at editing now, but I'm not.

I can say I'm better at prayer.

Maybe not 'at prayer', but at praying. The actual doing of it. If I say I'm going to pray for you, I mean it. I don't forget to as often these days. If you post about needing prayer on social media, I pray in the moment when I see it. If I have time to be scrolling through, I have time to stop and pray.

Praying at all times isn't mysterious anymore. It is possible, and preferable. That part I keep trying to get better at. Praying without ceasing. I wish I could say that my thoughts are always on the Kingdom of Heaven. They aren't. My thoughts roam. Sometimes they get caught on something. Now and then they build things. Big things that are impossible to see around. I have quite a talent for assuming what's going to happen, and then taking it around with me as truth.

Often, though, I get to recognize it. I get to take down whatever thing my roaming thoughts constructed, and see it for what it is, or at least to take off my own perception of it and stare at it for a minute.

This often results in just walking away from a thought. My own thought. The thought that I grabbed and built into some ruinous monster. I can do that through prayer. It's really the only way I can do it.

I've tried before. Just squeeze my eyes really tight, think of something else and then when I open my eyes, the thought that was bothering me will magically disappear.

Sometimes that can work, at least temporarily. Then it really is just a magicians trick. Not really magic.

The real magic is when I give a thing to God, leave it in His hands, and trust that he will take care of it. That doesn't mean I have no responsibility left. I still have to leave it in his hands. I still have to chat with Him, learn about His character, build mine.

Talking to God is a significant and useful thing in my life. I do it. It helps.

I'd still like to get to the 'pray without ceasing' part. I don't know that I'll recognize when it happens, but I've observed people who, at the very least, appear to live this way. It's encouraging, the wisdom, strength and kindness of such people.

I don't know if anyone will ever describe my life that way, but I do aspire to reflect God's character. The best way I know how to learn it is by talking with Him.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quiver Full?

"We are allowing God to determine the size of our family." Said by several women that have 6, 7, 8 + children. The standard answer for those brazen enough to ask things like "how many will you have?" and "are you having more?"

Here's the question: Did couples with fewer children, then, not allow God to determine the size of their families?

There are many Godly families that have 1, 2, 3, or 4 children. They are living a life according to the path that God has laid out before them. They are seeking God's will for their lives. God has spoken to these families, in some way, to allow them knowledge, wisdom and/or peace about the size of their family.

So I will be careful, as a mother of 6, about using that phrase, "...allowing God to determine the size of our family." I want to communicate that we are seeking to want what God wants for us, whether that means a large family or a small one, whether it means homeschooling or not, whether it means raising many disciples at home to go out and serve, or intensly serving our communities without children in tow.

Is there a fabulous phrase to communicate that God determines what a 'full quiver' means for each family? What about something like this "God is providing a ministry of discipling many children in our home."

Or am I getting a little to PC?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Home school vs Public school - sort of.

Do you home school or send your children to public school? What are the advantages of home school?
~Parents have curriculum options
~Flexibility of schedule
~Children learn at their own pace
~Children get more one on one time with the 'teacher'
~Special needs kids have a better chance of their individual needs being met at home
~Parents can raise their children in a sort of bubble
~In general, home schooled children have a more rounded education, and top colleges are recruiting from home schooling families.
Not a terrible list. But one pops out at me as being a terrible reason. What is it that we are protecting our children from?
There can be a long, long list. It is a parents job to keep our children safe. "Don't do drugs", "Don't jump off the roof", "Don't play with fire", "Don't talk to strangers".
What do we tell our children to do? What is it that we dream for our children? We want them to be leaders, to be confident, to make good choices. We (Christian parents) want our children to go and make disciples, to live virtuous lives. How much practice do our children have at this in a sheltered environment? When parents claim that they live God centered lives, and that their children are being raised biblically, then example can your children possibly be to them? If our childen are always in the company of 'church' families, with very few exceptions, how are they practicing discipleship? How are they supposed to be a light to the world, when we hide them?
What about the children and the families that are in public school? Let's just assume, for a moment, that all Christian families are pulling their children out of school. That we have decided that the government is forcing to much in the way 'unacceptable morality ' on our children (i.e. homosexuality as normal, sexual education in elementary school that offers birth control, prayer and evangalism as unacceptable, etc.). Okay, so now the local public school is a cauldrin of sin. There are no Christian families sending their children there. No Christian parents attending PTA, or parent information meetings. No Christian parents giving input on curriculum changes, or forming relationships with teachers and other classroom parents. There are no children that have been raised to live virtuously on the playground influencing other children. There are no children in the classroom demonstrating virtues to the teachers.
What now? Have we just told all of those families to go to hell? Have we, of our own accord, chosen who has access to the gospel and a model of a Christ-like life?
If we choose to respond to the crumbling of the institution of public school by avoiding it all together, then we are supporting the decline of our neighborhoods. We are avoiding relationships that we have been instructed to build. Jesus Christ did not die on the cross so that we could put our families in a church bubble, then hope that when they graduate from High School, they will face the troubles of the world with grace.
I am all for protecting my small children from the perils of bad language, lewd behavior, and degraded thinking. Our children age, however. There comes a time when we should be coming along side our children and guiding their choices rather than making choices for them. If your children are not given the opportunity to make choices in a lost world, when parents are there to guide them, then what do they do as young adults?
A few will stick close to what they learned. They will go to a christian college, they will get into the church body and cocoon themselves there. They will attempt to become engaged in some sort of church building ministry. Even fewer will step out into the world with confidence in Christ, mingeling with the 'others'.
Most will drop out of church, if not upon entering college or the workforce, then by the time they are 30. After all, the world is nothing like the one we presented to them for 18 years!
Home school has it's place. It's a good place. It can be a great tool. So can public school.
What is your reason for homeschooling? Or, for that matter, public schooling? Are you putting your family in the way of the tax collectors? Are you influencing, on a daily basis, those that are addicted, prostituting themselves for the desires of the world, looking for something better? Or have you decided that those things are unpleasant and you just don't want to deal with them?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

why is parenting so hard?

I've been asking this question for a while. I've heard it pop up around me several times lately. There are so many reasons, so much good advice, but one stuck with me.
Are the problems that our kids face different or more difficult than those 20, 30, 40 years ago? Yes! They are!
Drugs, sex, and rock n'roll, the everpresent 'enemies' of a decent life (LOL!) are still around. So is the media. The images and language considered appropriate or mainstream have evolved over time until our children, if we allow them, are exposed to ideas of rebellion as acceptable, nay, encouraged! The message is that if young people aren't rebelling against something, anything, then their lives are boring, pointless and they are likely friendless.

BUT what are we teaching our children, on purpose, at home? Are we teaching them to live virtuous lives? Are they aware that ethics and morality are not the same thing?
When children are not equipped to filter media through virtues and ethics they are left with the morals of the current culture, the acceptable practices of the day - not always ethical and almost never virtuous!

How many of our children know what virtues really are? How about parents? Do we know what virtues are and how to live them daily? Do you?