Knowing you may not hold someone you love for much longer leaves the days feeling fresh and fragile. I remember sitting next to my Poppa when he was passing away. I listened carefully for the next breath, knowing any moment the next breath wouldn’t come. I wanted to be with him, inhale deeply next to him, sing to him, pray with him, hold his hand while it was still warm.
I find myself watching our foster daughter with similar thoughts breaking ashore–just allow one more day with her; Father God, give me more than one more breath.
With our baby girl, I can only plan for her needs six months at a time…because that’s how long it is between court dates and decisions. I turned down bigger sized clothing, walkers, and high chairs when she was first placed with us. Now, I’m turning down toddler beds and trikes. I don’t plan for her life past April, our next court date. I find myself thinking, “this may be the last time we (fill in the blank) with this sweet girl.”
I’m waking up. I want to be as diligent and intentional to soak in every life around me, not just my foster daughter’s. We’re not guaranteed one more breath with anyone. Many of us know this truth well. Life can change in a flutter.
This journey has taught me to stand in awe, awakening to each day as one more gift from God. The sunrises are stunning, snoring husbands are cute instead of irritating, stinky soccer socks cause me to pause and give thanks for healthy children, and every baby milestone feels magical. Seriously. Baby girl shoving puffs into her mouth (and all over the floor) makes everyone in this house party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine. It’s so stinkin’ cute.
We’re trying to dig into every day over here. And although we cannot plan out the future, God is teaching me three things we can do: Pray, Prepare & Play.
Pray for God’s purposes.
What if we don’t know God’s purpose or plan for our lives? Instead of trying to force the future into the box I’ve delegated for it—I can lay that all down and pray, “Lord, I ask that your perfect purposes for the future be accomplished in my life and the lives of my loved ones. Let nothing stand in your way.”
Prepare your heart.
God’s plan may not line up with my limited ideas of perfection. We can remember God’s good and always trustworthy. This helps us prepare our hearts to accept whatever the future holds. Since we’ve become a foster family, I often pray, “Lord, please prepare my heart (and the hearts of my children) for whatever lies ahead. Give us peace.”
Play with the people you love.
Grab the people you love and take pleasure in them. We may not have tomorrow, but we have today! I’m not sure why we don’t memorize this scripture in Sunday school, but maybe we should make it a thing (especially the part about bread and wine),
“Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love Each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange For the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it,,” (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 MSG)
I don’t know your purpose or plans for my children and loved ones, but I pray for it. I ask that you go ahead of them, paving the way for peace and provision. I pray you are parting seas they don’t see. I pray you are planting people of godly influence in their path before they get there. I pray for wisdom when they are pressed against the hard rock of life.
I pray for forgiving friends who point them to your love. I pray for protection over their hearts and bodies. I pray faith rises fiercely in their soul when doubt pushes down. I pray for eyes to see your blessings when they feel cheated. I pray they run to you, instead of away, when their hearts are broken. I pray they love bravely because that’s why you made them. I pray your voice reaches them when mine cannot and whispers, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I pray they know love because they know you. Amen
It means so much that you’re taking this journey with me.❤ I’d love to send you a FREE SEVEN-DAY DEVOTIONAL: CLICK HERE FOR DEVOTIONAL
I’d love to travel the globe with my kids. I imagine we’d get lost down colorful alleys, pop into every restaurant oozing with the smell of butter and spice…but right now, we spend most our time at soccer practice, and in the school drop off lines. It’s our life stage and I adore it. But I long to instill a sense of passion for the world and all God’s created into my children. Teaching our children to pray for the world is a powerful act of love.
God’s entrusted us with the upbringing of eternal souls. If we desire these precious souls to be world-changers for Jesus, they’ll need a love for its people, because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). How do we do this?
This is one tradition that’s brought us a step closer to God’s heart; one small way to start loving on a global level. I pray it inspires you to have some meaningful fun this summer!
how to teach our children to pray for the world
Choose! Each week we take turns choosing a country on our world map. We have a map that you can scratch off the color of each country as you go, but I also love the idea of sticking a colorful pin in a cork map.
Pray! After we’ve chosen a country we open up our book, “Operation World: The definitive prayer guide to every nation” by Jason Mandryk. I can’t emphasize how I cherish this book. Here you’ll find all sorts of interesting nuggets about the country. My favorite – the most urgent prayer needs. This is what we focus on. Whatever those prayer needs are (poverty, persecution, government corruption, child exploitation, orphans, lack of natural resources, etc.), we include them in our family prayers over dinner. The book also includes a section of answered prayers for each country!
Give! After our eyes have been opened to the immediate needs of others, the heart is always moved to action. If one of your kiddos shows particular interest in the need of another nation, help them research an organization that they can support through their allowance. My kiddos have even set up lemonade stands in the past to raise money for water wells in Africa.
Cook! We chose recipes from our chosen culture and cook meals together. This can be a beautiful mess at times! Some of my major #kitchenfails include Russian borscht and Ethiopian injera (Yes Eli, I’m sure I followed the recipe. No, I don’t know why it doesn’t look like the picture!)
Learn! We go to the library. I let the kids run amuck and grab whatever books they can find about the country. It’s so fun to share with each other what we’ve learned after we read our books.
Have fun! We plan a fun movie night. If your kids are older, you can choose a documentary. The library has great choices for documentaries for littles too! You don’t have to get super serious about this. When my kids were babes we totally counted “Beauty and the Beast” as French culture (ya know, because of all the baguettes and bonjours in the opening scene). You’re making the effort, no one’s judging you!
Here’s the point: Taking time to learn and pray for others around the world, demonstrates to our kids that we should care; we should care about hearing people’s stories who are different than us. We should be intentional to understand the needs of the world outside America. Our children won’t learn to cultivate a love for all God’s people if we don’t model to them that it’s the heart of Jesus.
here are some resources to help teach your children to pray for the world:
I was a cheerleader. Not the cool kind. When a routine called for the splits, I’d lower my skirt to hide the fact I was several inches away from nailing it. I couldn’t do a toe-touch. I’d routinely jaunt across the quad with my skirt unknowingly tucked up under my backpack. Yeah.
One of our important cheerleading jobs was painting the “run-thru” for the Friday night football game. This was serious stuff. We had to make life-altering decisions like: What should it say?! What colors should we use?! If we use too much paint, will it be too hard to tear?
A stampede of sweaty teenagers ran through this thing before they’d compete. It signaled the battle of Friday Night Lights had begun; they were ready to face their opponents and build a legacy.
God asks us to do the same thing at times. He’ll require we charge towards a stronghold before announcing, “You’re ready to step on the field.”
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…A time to tear down and time to build” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,3b).
Sometimes we must tear down before we can build up. The Hebrew word for ‘tear down’ in this verse is parats. In the tense used it means, to break or burst out (from womb or enclosure). So another way to understand this is, there’s a time to burst out from whatever you’re stuck inside of.
We’ve got to break-through in order to build.
I found the same Hebrew word used nine other times in the context of increasing blessing or territory.
“The little you had before I came has increased (parats, break or burst out) greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been” (Genesis 30:30a)
There’s a blessing when we press past our comfort zones into new territory.
What’s stopping us from making that phone call, having the hard conversation, going to the adoption seminar, applying for that job, taking the first step towards healing our marriage? Maybe we’re too busy staring at the daunting banner in front of us, forgetting we have a banner over us. Moses declared, “The LORD is my Banner” (Exodus 17:15). We are to lift up His name and bravely march forward.
Perhaps we’re too prideful thinking we can run through the banner by ourselves? Listen, it took a herd of sweaty young men to burst through our epic signs. Call the counselor or friend. Get in a small support group or Bible study. If you have a stronghold or complacent spot in your life, gather some people around you and address it. Life is moving forward with or without your participation.
Maybe we’re unwilling to put effort into breaking through our fears, selfishness, insecurities or haunting grief.
It’s a shame really.
Because there’s an epic battle going on among us, and we weren’t made to stand on the sidelines. God can heal and equip, and he passionately desires to do so.
Let’s do the hard work of identifying the banners holding us back. Let’s be brave and learn to run full force at them, knowing on the other side is where we’re called to be living our lives. On the field, with our brothers and sisters, co-laboring with Christ to build things that are “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)
We’ve got one life on this earth. One. Get in the good fight for the kingdom. Ask God to show you which areas you need to have a breakthrough and CHARGE!!
Do you really have to mash it behind your head like that?!
Please! Don’t use the pillow as a food tray.
Seriously…who thought it was OK to put a muddy cleat here?!
Why is Every. Single. Pillow. On the floor?!
I’ve been drooling over extraordinary pillows for the past year. Yes, there is such a thing as ‘extraordinary pillows’. They live at Anthropologie, where it smells like a magical forest.
I want them. However, they’re a gazillion dollars. You can’t always get what you want.
Target came to the rescue with some adorable Anthro knock-offs. So, for Mother’s Day, I pointed them out as, would be a great gift from the kiddos! (wink wink).
I see them enthroned on my 11-year-old, stained couch, and smile.
They’re pretty. It’s simple as that.
Or is it?
These lovely pillows have awakened some alternate Type A personality in me.
My poor family. Relaxing is no longer allowed. It might disturb the decorative pillows.
I’m being ridiculous. What’s the point of having pillows, if I’m worried they’ll be ruined at the slightest touch?
I’ve found myself asking the same question about my faith. What’s the point of claiming faith, if I’m too afraid it will fall apart when life leans hard against it?
Sometimes I view my faith as decorative. I can admire how lovely it sits on the throne of my existence, but when the big, dirty cleats of life tread on it, my shoulders tighten. Deep down, I question…will this destroy my faith? And if it does, what does that mean about God?
In the moments I’ve dared to pick up my faith, stomp on it, wrestle it, punch it with questions and bitterness, I’ve realized…
Real faith, is for real life.
And real life doesn’t smell like Anthropoligie. God doesn’t want us to be afraid to throw all our junk at it full force. The faith he gives is not a cheap knock off. It’s the real deal.
Paul tells us, ‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed’. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
If we’re taking our faith along for the ride, it will endure the same refining.
I’ve fallen face first into my faith and sobbed. I’ve thrown it powerfully against my closet doors and cursed it a liar. But the real lie is in thinking broken faith isn’t fixable.
I’ve lifted my faith up to the Lord, tattered, dirty, horribly misshapen with stuffing pouring out at every ripped seam. I’ve felt ashamed, like a little girl who ruined her new doll by leaving it in the rain.
Look what I’ve done to the gift you gave me, Father. I took it out in the storm with me. Look at this mess…
His eyes are on me.
Sweet girl, I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
I can knit your faith back together, too.
And he always does. His healing fabric is durable, his stitch, solidly perfect. He knew the whole time that the testing of my faith would produce perseverance in me. (James 1:3)
I am weak. My God is strong. When I offer Him my feeble faith, HE strengthens it.
Maybe there’s just a frayed corner that remains of your faith.
That’s OK. He just needs faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains in your life. (Matthew 17:20)
We must approach God with our brokenness, so we experience him as Healer.
After the battle, our faith proves to be the comforting truth we rest our heart upon at the end of the day.