Heavenly Father,

Lately I feel more and more like a mist! I remember one cold morning when we were camping in a tent and woke up to a glorious view of a mountain on the other side of the lake. The mountain was blurred by a thick cover of mist dancing across the top of the lake. It almost looked like people rising up out of the water and reaching up towards the sky. We sat watching the mist for over an hour until the sun burned off all traces of the fleeting dance. My life seems like a mist—short and insignificant in light of who You are, Almighty God.

I was just giving birth to my babies and now they are parents. I once asked my 90 year old grandmother if she felt old; she said she often felt like she was still 16 years old. No matter how old we live to be here on this earth, our lives are here one moment and gone the next. The day will come when my great grandchildren may vaguely remember me when they hear someone randomly say my name ever so often. Then their children won’t know anything about me. My life is a mist in the overall scheme of things.

Yet, though I may feel like such a miniscule particle of mist among the billions of people in the world, or nothing at all when I look at Your glorious power and eternal glory—I am blown away to realize that You knew me before I was born. You know everything about me from the hairs on my head to my unexpressed thoughts. You know how I have rebelled against You and ignored You when You are the very One who created me. You loved me so much that You sent Your own Son Jesus to take my sins upon Himself and die and rise again so I could live with You for all eternity.

I may feel like a mist, but to You—I am precious enough to die for, to save me so I can be with You forever. Father, let my mist of this earthly life rise up to dance to You—for You are mine and I am Yours. You reign forever through all generations. May my dance join in the dance of all those who have gone before me, those who live on earth now and those who are yet-to-be, as we worship You forever and ever.

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“Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:14

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who am I before You…to You?

Glorious Heavenly Father,

Forgive me when I slip into my human nature and think my life is all about me. I’m so glad it’s not! It would be a sad state of affairs if everything in life was to satisfy my every whim. It would be utter chaos if everyone lived for themselves all the time. No one would get married, have children, teach, or serve anyone else in any way. There would be constant wars, arguments, greed, and violence as we each demanded our own way. Babies are born with a self-centered nature to help them survive. They demand food, sleep, and clean diapers. It’s a good thing You made babies so adorably cute, Lord! Caring about others is learned through the unselfish sacrifices of parents and other compassionate people around babies. They learn to smile and interact with love by watching us smile, play with and patiently care for their needs—even when it means bouts of screaming because the bottle is not there right when they want it.

It seems to take a whole lifetime of putting away our sinful human selfishness and taking on the servant nature of Jesus Christ. I would be horrified if I saw a record of all my selfish demanding outbursts in my lifetime. Many of my selfish tendencies might not have been seen by others, but You saw them in my thoughts and You knew I wouldn’t always be like that. I’m so glad my record has been wiped clean by the pure and holy blood of Jesus Christ. My life is so short and insignificant in the scheme of eternity. Yet, even in my selfish thinking, You still loved me so much that You sent Your Son to serve my needs by dying for me so I could live forever with You.

Father, You made everything and sustain all that there is. Your glory and majesty cannot even be described or comprehended by us. Thank You for creating us in Your image with the capacity to choose to love deeply and serve sacrificially. Life is not very meaningful when it is lived exclusively for our own selfish desires. All the money, houses, fame, power or anything else we devote our lives to is meaningless. We were created to love and serve. We find fulfillment and meaning in loving and serving You and others as new creations in Jesus Christ.

*****

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  2 Corinthians 5:17

 

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised.” Romans 1:25

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26 “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, search my heart…what am I living for?

 

Dear friends,

I was contacted by a friend whose relative is an elementary teacher. This teacher had just got her roster of new students for the year. She has two children coming to her class—both of whom had a parent die over the summer break. Another friend who is an early childhood teacher had a two year old student run over and killed by a car on the way to school this week. Two years ago, within less than a month two preschool girls in the school I teach in (whom I love), both experienced their precious daddies’ deaths.  School keeps going…just like life keeps going for adults who are grieving. But there are ways we can help children give voice to their grief.

My friend is sending two of the children’s MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU to her relative who is a teacher.  I pray that these two students fill out their memory books and save them forever. I pray the teacher is able to read the guide in the front of the book for adults who long to help. Perhaps the surviving parent will help them or at least share in their memories so they can laugh, cry and share the precious gift of their loved one together.

Children can look like they are doing fine one moment (playing, working, eating..) and burst into tears the next instance. Perhaps they simply thought of their loved one, or saw or heard something that reminded them of their loved one. Some kids act out their pain in anger, isolation, regression, or many other unexpected ways. Teachers, parents and other relatives need to show extra patience and gentleness with them as they work through their deep pain. That can be challenging for families as everyone is grieving. A lot of times, children can express their emotions more easily to a trusted teacher since they do not want to cause any more pain for their family members who are obviously also in pain.

Adults should follow the child’s lead. Let them cry when tears come. Simply give them a safe place to cry and reassure them its ok. Let them draw or express it in art/writing/play. The rest of the class may have to be reminded they are sad because of their loss, but they will be ok. Nap time at school for very young kids can be just as difficult as going to sleep at night. That quiet time can bring extra tears and fears. Perhaps a stuffed animal with their loved one’s photo attached to it might help. They may/may not want to show the photo to the class. If it is a fellow student or teacher who has died, perhaps the whole class can make a memory book to share with the family. It will help everyone.

As most teachers fully know, they are always running into challenging situations that require them to support the children God places in their care for such a time as this. You may not feel adequate but God can use you to love these kids through it.

Love and Prayers

Heavenly Father,

If you ask a child or teen what they want to be when they grow up, I don’t believe there is anyone who would say, “I really want to be a servant!” We are taught to have “higher aspirations.” My husband is reading an intense series of historical books on the American civil war right now. Thousands of people were killed over the issue of slavery. That wasn’t that long ago in history that a whole people group was kidnapped and sold as slaves against their will. There are numerous historical accounts of groups held as slaves against their will including those listed in the greatest most accurate history book ever—the Bible. There are many forms of slavery today around the world—including those sold into the sex trade.

The older I get, and the longer I walk with You, Lord…I am finding I truly want to be Your servant. You have been showing me what it means to be Your bond servant. I have been freed from the slavery of sin through the sacrifice of Your Son’s innocent blood. Sin held me captive, but through Jesus Christ I am FREE indeed! Now I find myself wanting to freely offer my life to serve You. As I understand the earthly meaning of a bondservant, it is when someone has a debt they cannot pay and offer themselves freely to be at the beck and call of the one who they owe. I certainly can never pay the debt I owe to You for saving me through Jesus, for creating me, for giving me eternal life with You, for never leaving me or forsaking me, for giving me breath, rest, strength, peace, joy, love and a beautiful world in which to live until I am home with You.

I believe in Your divine purpose for me and for others. I trust in Your plans and perfect will. I have no doubt that Your motives are pure and holy just as You are. I believe in Your kingdom and am honored to be a part of it. I want to offer my life to be used for Your glory and to enlarge Your eternal kingdom. You ways are so far above my ways that I humbly bow before You , ready to go where You want, say what You want me to say, do what You would have me do, and be who You designed me to be. I know I cannot do this on my own. I’m fully aware I need Your help. You are not only my Master—You are my Savior, my Counselor, my Life, my Love, my Purpose, my Best Friend, my Strength, my Peace, my all-in-all.  I stand ready to serve You. There is no greater joy than getting to share in Your joy as You send me to do Your bidding.

*****

 

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”   Matthew 25:21

 

Jesus said in Mark 10:43-45: “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

 

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”  Philippians 2:5-8

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, who is my master?…

Heavenly Father,

Prayer in schools can never ever be outlawed as long as there are students, teachers, moms, dads, grandparents, churches, school staff and administrators who are praying. There are prayers lifted before You, Lord, all over our land as schools start back after summer break… fervent prayers by first time teachers, parents entrusting their precious children to teachers they don’t know, parents who suddenly have a high school student or college student, prayers by custodians who are prayer warriors disguised as janitors, cafeteria workers who pray as they cook, clean and interact with children, prayers by administrators who realize they cannot handle the responsibility on their own, prayers by teachers who have seen it all and impacted hundreds of students in their lifetime.

Twenty-five years ago, I started praying with a small group of moms for our kids and their schools through Moms In Touch (which is now an international group of small groups of moms praying in homes all over the world for students, teachers and schools because as the founder Fern Nichols always said, “If we are not praying for our children, who is?”) Since then, I’ve heard of parents stopping during the parent/teacher conference to pray for/with their teacher, churches adopting a nearby school to pray for, community prayer walks around a local school to pray for the specific needs, children and staff of that school…Tomorrow, my van will be filled as a bunch of our family- including moms and kids do a drive-through prayer around our grandchildren’s schools! What if everyone prayed for a school as they slowed down to pass through a school zone?! Or passed the school supply aisle?

Father, I know You hear our prayers. We lift up our schools, students of all ages, teachers, professors, administrators, staff and families who have students in school. Father, hear our prayers and protect, bless, guide, lead, bring divine inspiration and curiosity and love for learning. Bring about a spirit of respect, kindness, safety, encouragement…Encourage families to start the day off before school with prayer every single day before they leave home, or on the way to school while everyone is together and buckled in. That would start every day focused on You.  Lord, You have all authority above all earthly authority. We ask Your will be done in our schools and in our young people in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

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“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous (through Jesus Christ) and His ears are attentive to their prayers.”   1 Peter 3:12

 

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven  and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”  2 Corinthians 7:14-15

“ ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.’ ”  Jeremiah 29:13-14

 

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let me teach my children to pray by praying for ….

 

Almighty Father,

There have been multiple deeply painful situations stacking up lately that I would not have chosen: a young mom who has struggled much in her life who just gave birth to a baby only to have that little one taken away and placed in another home before she even left the hospital…A dear friend, who loves You with all her heart, facing the same horrible illness that my first husband died from…three young brothers, who have dealt with much already in their lives, now having to learn to live without the loving adoptive dad who took them into his heart and home  when he recently passed into eternity…precious friends facing cancer…

As I pray for those involved, I can think of ways I believe these situations should work out. I can pour my heart out to You and I absolutely believe You hear every single prayer. Lord, You are so gracious that You even listen to my suggestions…yet You see and know all things. I humbly admit that You know better than I do what needs to come out of each situation. As I continue to come to You, You have a way of helping me trust in You—Your will, Your plans, Your love, Your knowledge, Your goal, Your desired outcome… It is hard to see people suffer. If I could, I would take it away. Yet, You know there are times when far more glorious things will happen even through suffering. You know the final outcome.

You, alone, know when the time is right for healing, reunification, and the greatest victory. You, alone know who all will be drawn closer to You as a result of temporary trials—no matter how huge they may seem. You, alone, know when to answer the prayers the way we see fit or the way You know is best. I will continue to pray in all situations. I may even pray for specific things to happen…but those times I don’t see You answer them the way I think, I will still praise You! I know You are good. I know You work in ways that are way over my head. I know You are always up to something wonderful as Your final outcome. I have seen You work miracles through some horrific circumstances. I know that it is Your desire that no one should perish but have eternal life. I know that it often takes suffering to draw some to You. I realize I may not always see the final victory in this life…but I will keep on praying. When my prayers don’t get answered when I think they should or as I think they should, I will still praise You—for I know Your will is far better than mine. So, Father, as I pray—please line my heart up until I can truly want Your will instead of mine.

 

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“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice, that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”   1 Peter 4:12-13

Jesus in the Garden before going to the cross: “Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’”

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me trust You with ….

Dear Friends,

When I saw this sculpture depicting grief by Celeste Roberge made from rocks of all sizes, I felt led to share it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized one of the reasons grief is so painful is that we are filled with memories (or sometimes what we hoped would be memories that never happened). Each of those rocks represent a memory, dream, hope, fear, hurt, wound, or way our loved one made us feel. One of the most important “jobs” of grief is to lift up each one of those rocks and tell the story. It’s a one-of-a-kind story. It’s our story that’s intermingled with their story. It’s a love story whether it is about a spouse, lover, friend, parent, sibling, baby, grandparent, teacher…

Memories need to be expressed, evaluated and processed. When they are all bundled together at a one time with the full impact of the loss, it is way too much to handle or carry. I suppose that’s another reason grief takes time to work through. Yet as we hold up one rock at a time, one story at a time, one memory at a time—we can handle that. That’s one of the reasons I wrote My Forever Memories of You. It not only contains some of my memories- one little chunk at a time—but there are guided suggestions for you write/hold up/tell your memories one at a time. Many people do not want to look at those memories. In fact, they even run from them for fear that the pain and tears will kill them. What kills is carrying around the heavy burden of grief without lifting up one story at a time.

Something glorious happens when you begin to tell your stories, the rocks that were once more than you can bear, become light eternal jewels that add to your light that shines out through all eternity. Even the regrets, disappointments and pain transform into beauty as we tell the story and we realize it is part of who we are forever. The most important part is to hold each rock, one at a time up to the Lord. He is the one who lifts the heavy burden of grief and turns our mourning into joy. We need to be gentle with ourselves as it takes time to take each rock, one at a time, to really look at it, express it and see the beauty that was once so heavy.

Love and prayers to each and every one of you as you tell your stories.

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“Blessed are those who mourn. They will be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18