Teaching Your Preschoolers to Trust God–Tiny Tot Tuesday

trust bracelet

I’ve spent the last month singing a new little ditty with our preschoolers at church and VBS. The song is called, “Let’s Trust God,” and it can be found at http://www.amberskyrecords.com

The song asks (repeatedly), “Are you up for the challenge? Are you up for the challenge? Are you up for the challenge? Get ready. Get set. Let’s trust God.”

It also reminds us (repeatedly) “God keeps his promises, promises, promises. God keeps his promises. Yes, He does. God does what He says, what He says, what He says. God does what He says. Yes, He does.”

Our kids have loved this song, and although I have to admit that at times it has more than gotten on my nerves. It is a great little song, and I believe it holds at least a couple of the keys for teaching our tiny tots about trusting God.

For example:
Our children need to learn that sometimes trusting God can be a challenge.
Our children need to learn that we can trust God because He keeps His promises.
Our children need to learn that God is faithful–He does what He says.

and

Our children will learn this by our repeated encouragement to them in this area.

We can do that by:

1) Simply reminding them, “We can trust God in/for _____________________.”

2) Reading to them from the Bible about times and ways that God kept his promises to His people.

3) Letting them experience challenges and taking note of how God faithfully saw them through.

4) Living out our trust in God in front of them.

5) Sharing stories with them about how God has cared for others.

6) Celebrating with little praise parties of God’s goodness.

When we begin teaching our children to trust God when they are very young, we help them to be “up for the challenge” as they grow and mature, which helps them to be strong, rooted, grounded and ready for all God has for them as they follow Him in trust. Big lessons for our tiny tots. Big lessons for our tiny tots’ parents.

Are you up for the challenge?
Get ready, get set. Let’s trust God!

We’re Expecting Again–Mama Mia Monday

power of a praying parent

We just found out last night. The anticipated due date is still undetermined, and we couldn’t be more excited. Yes, it’s true. We are going to have a daughter . . . in law.

Sometime yesterday, our youngest son asked his lovely girlfriend to be his wife and she said, “Yes!’

Mama Mia!

The boy put some planning, I might even say scheming, into the day. It had all the great elements of a good proposal. There was the element of surprise. (for her, at least) There was the asking of the parents. There was the beautiful setting. There was the ring. There was the celebration. But those are their stories to tell.

Our story begins much earlier.

Our story begins about 22 years earlier, when we found out we were expecting again. It was at that time we began to pray.

We began to pray for the life within me. We began to pray for his/her future. We began to pray for his/her future spouse. Through the years those prayers continued through some smooth and rough navigating of the parental/child waterways, and by the grace of God and the power of prayer, we came through rejoicing, exhilarated and looking forward to the continuing set of adventures waiting ahead for us all.

We prayed some simple prayers for our boys. I think mostly because we didn’t know any better at the time, and I’m continually thankful that God hears the prayers of simple people with sincere hearts. I loved the book, “Power of a Praying Parent,” by Stormie Omartian. For several of us who were raising our children at that time, it became worn and weathered treasure, passed down and repurchased, a guideline to pray about things we may have never considered on our own.

When it came to spouses, life partners, soul mates for our boys, we prayed these simple prayers:
That God would bring them women who:
1) Loved God
2) Loved our sons
3) Would want to serve God together for all of their days.

We had no idea the extent to which our prayers would be answered through the wonderful women God has chosen to bring into the boys’ lives and into the life of our family. We couldn’t imagine the delightfulness of our new daughter-in-law from Russia or our daughter-in-law to be from Kansas.

But we are excited, and we are expecting, again, to see God do big things in their lives, lead them on big adventures as they serve Him, see them through some big storms as they navigate their lives with Him and each other as we continue to hold them up in prayer as they begin their lives together.

Mama Mia! Expecting Again! I hope we never stop expecting God to do great things!!
cake2

First Daze

Today is our youngest son’s first day of school. Never mind that it is the first day of his last year of college. It’s still the first day of school. I’m hoping somehow, someone thinks to take a picture of him heading up the hill for that first class of the morning (or the 2nd class or the 3rd). It’s one of our family traditions that I miss the most. Later in the day he will head through the line at the caf for another school lunch, and then in the afternoon meet up with his friend for soccer practice. Ah! Indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It seems to me those first days of school really are more like the first “daze” of school. Things are in a whirlwind of excitement, anxiety, happiness, fear, joy, blood, sweat and tears. Many a mom has consumed many a bag of chocolates during the times when their little eagles begin leaving the nest.

But I know that I know that there is something that helps to clear the daze away. You see, today as Trevor starts his first day doing some of the same things he has done for years, I find myself starting his first day doing what I’ve been doing for him for years, since his first day of preschool in Mrs Marlin’s class (teardrop). Praying. Not out of fear or sadness or worry, but out of knowledge. A knowledge of the One who holds him in His hands, and of the evil one who would like to steal him away. Knowledge of the power of the God who directs our paths and who gives us life, and knowledge of our need for Him. Knowledge of the love God has for each of us and that I have for each of my sons. A love so great that it lays down its life, its time, its agendas for the good of someone else. The knowledge that the Creator of the Universe and the Creator of my children is listening and moving and working in ways I can’t always see or understand, but am confidently sure of.

I was a little sentimental about this last first day of school until I realized that our other son now teaching abroad will soon have his first day of school. So will his beautiful new wife. And so, someday, Lord willing, there will be first days of school and first day of school prayers for grandchildren and great grandchildren for generations to come. (Okay, okay, so I’m still being sentimental–I’m a mom! It’s my job!)

Today I’m praying not only for my kids, but for you and your kids, too, as they begin their first days. If, as you begin, you are finding yourself in the “daze,” may the God of peace give you clarity and focus as you lead and pray for your children each day as they head off to school.

If you have time to share. . . .How are you praying for your kids this year? I’d love to hear.

Ever Feel Like You Are Going Around in Circles?


Ever said these words? “My life is just going around in circles.” I sure have, and I hope it continues to. I hope my life is now defined in part, by the things I choose to circle in prayer. The ladies’ small group I lead met tonight and made the decision to begin Mark Batterson’s Circle Maker study. We’ve been looking for our next adventure and decided to preview the first session to get an idea of whether The Circle Maker may be something God would be leading us to do next. The answer???

YES! Absolutely, yes! We are excited to get this show on the road. I mean excited. Like milk chocolate and marshmallow excited. Like hope springs eternal excited. Like “Holy Cow, let’s not wait to get started excited.” Batterson’s book is a great encouragement to pray boldly, take God at His word, start praying promises and waiting and watching to see His will and His way come to pass in His time. And the videos bring to life the heart of what God has been doing from the streets to Jericho to the streets of Washington, D.C. in response to the prayers of His people.

I read The Circle Maker earlier this year, and after watching just one of the videos (I haven’t even started the participants guide yet) I’m excited–yeah, yeah, I know I mentioned that already–because not only is our small group going to do the study, but one of our Adult Bible Fellowships is as well. As we, as a church, as the church, begin circling our homes, our schools, our businesses, our nation, our towns, our churches and our families in prayer and as we continue praying them through, I know God will be at work in ways we could never imagine.

If The Circle Maker is news to you I hope you find a enough excitement in this post to check out Batterson’s book and study for yourself, so that the next time you feel like your life is just going around in circles it will be in intentional, power filled acts of prayer.

Oh! Interested in a little circle praying around your kids? You can check out Batterson’s Praying Circles Around Your Children, a great read for back to school time.

Changing of the Guard

King David. His very name can conjure up a host of different images in your mind. Only a boy. Bear killer. Giant Slayer. Harp Player. Warrrior. Cave Dweller. Hesistant Lover. Fearless fighter. Mighty man with his own band of mighty men. Bathtub woman looker. Repentant sinner. God follower.

One thing I know, David understood the military. He understood what it meant to serve his post and lead others. We “want men like him on the wall” to losely coin a Jack Nicksolson line. He knew what it meant to guard and to be guarded. He knew what it meant to have the right men for the job. He understood well that life and death hung in the balance. So when David writes in Psalm 141, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips,” I believe he is talking about the desire for some extreme verbal control here.

You see, where I live, a guard may be an underpaid retiree who checks on the local factory at night. But where David lived, a guard was, well, a guard. He was a Bonnie Tyler, “I Need a Hero,” kind of guard–strong, fast, fresh from the fight; sure, soon and larger than life. A guard who, when put on his post, wouldn’t let anything or anyone get by who doesn’t have the authority to do so, because if they did, someone may lose their life–like him–just for letting someone get passed.

David wanted a guard over his mouth that was going to do his job to help protect both David and those around him no matter what. He wanted a God chosen guard who would keep his “tongue from evil and his lips from speaking lies,” (Psalm 34) make his “prayers like incense” (Psalm 141) to the Lord, keep his “words few” (Ecclesiastes 5) and full of wisdom (Proverbs 10). David must have known what I am forced to re-learn everyday. I can’t do it alone, and I need a God sized guard over my mouth as well.

You may be like me and if so, friends, it’s time for a changing of the guard. Are you like me and, all too often, choose yourself as the guard over your mouth? And like me, are you often a lousy guard? Do you slack, sleep and slough off your real responsibility where tongue control is concerened? When I am on guard, all too often I allow sarcasm, biting words, critical thoughts, or inappropriate remarks to slip through my Burt’s Bee’s balmed lips. Oh, I have good intentions. . .(and we all know what is said about those), but, we need more than good intentions. We need the God ordained guard of the Holy Spirit set over these mouths that are the doorposts to our heart. It’s no wonder that God himself tells us that, “above all else ‘guard your hearts.'” (Proverbs 4)

It’s time to keep praying and to keep saying and to keep committing to allowing God to set His guard over our mouths and over our hearts. And its time to start trusting His ability to protect and stop trying to figure out ways to outwit him, like some spoiled child in a Disney movie.

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. There, of course, it is the changing of one royal guard for another. Never is one chosen for his lackadaisical, apathetic, underachieving spirit. Each man chosen models the character, responsibility, honor, integrity, valor and value of the King or Queen they serve, stand for and represent, allowing the world to catch of glimps of the the spendor of the Kingdom. This is exactly what I am called to do. Represent accuarately the character of the King I serve with honor so that the world can see His true splendor. A King-size task for sure, so today I pray as King David did,

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to evil, to take part in wicked deeds.”

Amen and Amen

Today’s Post Is Brought to You By The Letter “F”

As I was jotting some things down in my “Twenty Minutes with Jesus” time today, I got to my personal prayer list and realized several of the the things I am praying for begin with the letter “F”. (Yeah, not much gets past me–LOL!) One of the things didn’t start with “F” so I decided to take that one and find a synonym that did and Voila! a slightly easier way for my brain to really remember the things I want to be praying for. Just in case your inquiring mind wants to know what they are, here ya go:

Disclaimer: Words are listed are in no particular order. Well, except for the first one, because it is the word “first.” On second thought I think I will put it last in accordance with the whole, “first will be last and last will be first” scripture (Matthew 20:16). Of course, last doesn’t start with “F” so it won’t be first here–or on the list at all for that matter. But anyway, to the list.

Faithfulness–I’m praying to be faithful, for my family to be faithful, the church to be faithful and my HiSKidZ, leaders and families to be faithful. I was reading in Isaiah today (chapter 57) and was reminded again that faithfulness is a big deal.

Family–I’m praying for families. For our church families, the families of our communities, my family, and my family’s family to be. I’m praying for our families to be strong, committed, and to keep trusting in God NO MATTER WHAT. (252 shout out) As our boys get older, I find myself praying more and more about the women who may become part of our extended family one day, and the generations that will come behind us. And, yeah, I’m praying that they will be faithful. Again, in Isaiah, I saw how easily families were deceived and left the truth.

Focus–I’m praying for focus. I’m praying that we will focus on Jesus, His Word, His truth. Psalm 119 is filled to the brim with encouragement and direction for staying focused on God’s word, statutes, precepts and direction for our life. His Word is truly “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” We need to keep focused on that path and the One who lights it for us.

Future–I’m praying for the future. Not just our future here on earth, but the certain hope of our future in heaven. We are reminded again and again (and I was reminded again today in Isaiah) that this world is not our home–we are just passing through. It serves us well to keep our eyes on the prize at the end of this race. I’m praying that we will live for the future as we live in the present.

Faith–I’m praying that my faith will increase. The disciples once said to Jesus, “Lord increase our faith.” What a request! Oh that we would have our faith increased each and every day and then share and live out that faith with the people around us. That’s what I’m talking about!! and. . .

First–I’m praying to keep Christ first. First place, all the time, every day. My son Trevor used to say something like, “If you didn’t get first, you lost.” Of course I would tell him that it’s not all about winning. It’s how you played and what you learned and the attitude you did it with. But in this case, I think 1st is it!!! If He doesn’t get 1st in my life, I lose. There is no other place I want Christ to be. There is no other place He deserves to be, and ultimately, there is no other place He will be, cuz He is God and there is no one like Him.

So thank you, letter “F”, for some inspiration, motivation and the chance for some exclamation to be going out to the Faithful God who has brought me into His Family, taken First place in my life, is growing my Faith and giving me a Future.

Amen!

Oh Baby!

No, this is not an announcement of any upcoming arrivals, although someone asked me not to long ago if we were expecting! Yikes! There have been quite a few babies popping out around our neck of the woods lately. It’s always exciting when new life comes into our world. It was the birth of our first son that ultimately brought us to the Lord. So we got new life times 3! Although we were not living for Christ at the time of his birth, God chose to intervene on his behalf at that time and we knew it. I have to tell ya, we didn’t know much at that time, but we did know enough that when someone saves your baby, you should respond with a thank you and a debt of gratitude. And so our journey of response to God began as we committed our lives and the raising of our sons to His hands and His ways.

We are so thankful to God for the tools He has placed in our paths. In the next couple of days, I hope to share some of the things that helped Tim and me the most as we learned what it meant to “train up a child in the way he should go.”

Stormie Omartian’s The Power of a Praying Parent had a huge impact on our lives. I’m not even sure when I came across it; I know the boys were pretty little. As a new Christian, prayer was a discipline (well, actually it wasn’t a discipline. I had no discipline in prayer, I just cried out whenever I had a problem–like the spiritual baby I was.) As a new Christian, this book helped me grow in the disicpline of prayer not just when there was a crisis, but as that ongoing conversation with the ultimate Father.

The Power of a Praying Parent helped prepare me to pray for things I didn’t even realize would be coming up, and brought peace to my heart reminding me that I could rest in thanks knowing God was at work in the lives of these two little guys He had entrusted to us. There were so many days that we didn’t really have a clue as to what we were doing, but He did–and He still does. He has continued through their transitions from babies to boys to teens to men to lead us and show us how to pray, how to help and how to let go and place them continually in His hands. In addition to praying for our sons, I have used prompts from the book when praying for friends, for friends’ children, students in my ministry and the church overall.

As I thumb through it now, I look back through tears (yes, I have tears sometimes!) at the highlighted sections, dated pages, and small notes and remember the joys, trials, and fears I felt as well as the faithfulness of the God who brought us to Him and through our years of parenting our children through prayer. . .