God instructs us to "pray without ceasing," and in His kindness, He has supplied us with a whole book (the Bible) to use to guide us in our prayers! We have many favorites, but here are five passages to get you started.
Luke 2:52 - Audra's Pick
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature,
and in favor with God and man.”
I pray, that like Jesus, my children would grow in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and man.
1 Timothy 4:12 - Laura's Pick
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”
Our daughter is ten and we have already seen the Lord use her in mighty ways for His kingdom! I pray she always sets an example through her words and her actions that Jesus is Lord of her life.
Ephesians 6:13-17 - Rebecca's Pick
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
All of my children have received Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. While I rejoice in this knowledge, I am aware that because of this they face the enemy just like I do. Therefore, I frequently pray each piece of the armor of God onto each child so that they will be able to withstand any attacks that they face.
Joshua 1:7 - Tammy's Pick
Above all, be strong and very courageous.
Be careful to observe all the law My servant Moses commanded you.
Do not turn from it to the right or to the left,
so that you may prosper wherever you go.
With every candle my children add to their birthday cake, the call of the world increases. I can fret and try to shelter them, but the most powerful thing I can do for my kiddos is to pray Scripture over them day and night. God loves them so much more than I. I'm so thankful for the peace that truth brings to my momma heart.
3 John 4 - Guest 's Pick
I have no greater joy than this,
to hear of my children walking in the truth.
Our oldest, Zoë, has been talking our ears off lately. It’s both beautiful and exhausting. Sometimes all I want to do is nod and say “mmm-hmm” or just smile while I try and think through my Costco grocery list before the littlest one realizes he’s not buckled in the cart and tries some wild escapade.
This morning after our Bible reading,
Noble said, “But if you believe in Jesus you won’t die. Because heaven is our true home.”
Zoë: “Will we keep breathing in heaven?”
I responded, “Your body dies, but your soul never dies and lives forever in heaven with God. We get a new body, and every breath we breathe will be praising Jesus the King.”
Zoë: “I think that already happened to Nana.”
Later while strategically hitting up every snack sample in Costco, Zoë asked: “How do we gaze upon His beauty?”
After gathering my thoughts from such a breathtaking question, I answered, “It means that God is majestic and holy and too wonderful to comprehend and awesome and good and perfect. When we see Him as that we want to spend our lives knowing Him because there is no one else like Him.”
Zoë: “It is hard to understand why life passes through so quickly.”
My thoughts exactly, Sweet Pea. Only I was lamenting how fleeting these days are when all 3 of my babes can fit in the front of the cart, and they lean over for hugs and kisses or head butts. Alternatively, they rest their heads on my shoulder, and I feel their little arms around my neck while I try and push a heavy cart with a big ole pregnant belly.
And we’re having conversations like these.
And all three of them are talking in my ear at the same time. Or they are pestering each other by covering up the letters on the handlebar. Don’t ask. It’s maddening.
However, I was overwhelmed with gratitude this morning for this season. I love having all my babies close and the togetherness all day long (don’t hear perfect harmony) even in the midst of being at the end of my rope as Zoë so honestly and insightfully said about me on Mother’s Day: “You’re good at being slow to anger even though sometimes you’re fast to anger.”
Yup, because Mommy needs Jesus too.
You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way,
and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Isn’t this what Scripture means when it says to teach God’s words to your children when:
- you sit (in the car in rush hour traffic) and
- walk (up and down the grocery aisles) and
- lie down (but not in your own bed because your 5-year-old still has too much to say at the end of the day) and
- rise (before the sun because everyone in your house is staging a coup against sleep).
Even when you think they’re not listening and you feel every thought you’re trying to share is interrupted by some catastrophe, they catch little drips at a time that become impressed on their tender hearts and will one day overflow. That’s what I’m striving for anyway in all the ordinary, mundane rhythm of life.
So here’s to keeping those babies close and entrusting their hearts to God.
Noel McKenna is a wife and a mommy who blends a pile high stack of books on CD and outdoor play with a whole lot of Jesus into her journey through motherhood. She and her husband, Nathan, have been married for 8 years and juggle this leg of their lives with grace and humor. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more of her beautifully honest glimpses into this life she now lives.
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Tuck Them In - Audra’s Pick
We try to be intentional at night time when putting our kids to bed. We always make a point to tuck them in, talk through the day, pray as a family, and let them ask any questions they may have. This is a sweet time to be able to unpack what has happened in everyone’s day, since the school year is such a busy time!
Scripture Memory In the Car - Laura's Pick
I can’t take credit for this one, but my husband is so good at using the undivided attention during the car ride to school. He drops our daughter off at school every morning and they memorize a scripture each week during that 5-7 minute drive. Usually on Monday or Tuesday she tells me what verse they are memorizing and then by Friday she is reciting it to me.
Pray Out Loud For Them - Rebecca's Pick
When one of my children is facing a big day, I like to pray out loud for them as we are driving to school. I will ask the Lord to give them quick recall and clarity during their test. Or, I'll ask Him to take away their anxious spirit and replace it with a spirit of peace before presenting a project. As I pray, I try to ask for specific things (not just that they would "do well") so that they will be able to see the undeniable answers to that prayer and give thanks to the Lord. On days that I don't pray aloud, I always pray for them after everyone is dropped off.
Verse Flip Book - Tammy's Pick
One of my "Terrific Three" struggled greatly with anxiety. After praying for direction, the Lord gave me the idea to make her a verse flip book to help her learn to allow God's Word to comfort her heart.
1. I purchased a flimsy $1 photo book.
2. I looked up my favorite "God is with me" verses and printed them.
3. I inserted them into the photo book and gave it to her as a reminder that while I won't always be with her, God is!
My print and cut and stuff version is pictured below. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you want. This verse flip book is from a couple of years ago. She still carries it in her backpack to this day.
Teach them to be independent without nagging -
We have a white board on our fridge that lists what my boys need to do before school, after school, and what types of food can be packed in lunches. This allows them to check the list when they aren’t sure if they have everything ready and I’m not asking each child a million times if they filled their water bottle. On the first day of school this year, my boy that loves routine asked for the list to be re-written as it still had summer lists on it. You better believe I wrote it after drop off!
Back to School Time! As each new school year approaches, I find my wishes and dreams are sky high! Yet I often find myself deflated months later in the middle of crazy schedules, overcommitments, self-inflicted sleepless nights, and longing for the next blissful season. Am I the only mom that feels like I’m failing because my checklist of draining items outweighs the life-giving details? This year I resolve to be different.
This year I will be the peace.
As we roll into this new school year and have a clean slate to start fresh, I am challenging myself to be the “Peace” to my family. Not to be the peacemaker, or the person spouting about peace, but to actually be the peace and calming influence in my home.
This will look like me
- listening to my kids work things out rather than trying to problem solve for them.
- saying “no” to good things, to allow my family to get more rest or more time together.
- setting aside stuff I want to do for myself until a later time.
- having my kids plan a day of family fun that they want to do.
- planning school supply shopping earlier, or online, so I'm not all stressed out and yelling.
- stopping myself from spewing worry and frustration from my mouth because I am nervous about my kids starting school.
Here are the top 5 ways I will be the peace in my home at the start of this school year.
1. I will be excited about the endless possibilities of this new school year.
I will not allow my fears and worries transfer onto my children. Any concerns I have over the new school year, I will take to the Lord rather than speak them out loud for my children to hear.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
II Timothy 1:7 NKJV
2. I will speak words of life over my children
I will speak only life-giving words about the new school year. I will encourage my children to speak to God about their own back to school butterflies.
“Don’t worry about anything,
but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God.”
Philippians 4:6 HCSB
3. I will Say “No” to excess.
I will say “No” to the things that add too much to my plate. “No” to the things that don’t give me life. “No” to the invites for good things that will have me forego great family times. I will let these last weeks and days before school starts be intentional and not chaotic.
“God’s curse blights the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
He gives proud skeptics a cold shoulder,
but if you’re down on your luck,
he’s right there to help.
Wise living gets rewarded with honor;
stupid living gets the booby prize.”
Proverbs 3:33-35 MSG
4. In the words of Elsa, I will “let it go!”
If I forgot to order the personalized backpack in the perfect color, I will let it go.
If I am almost done with summer and my bucket list hasn’t even been touched, I will let the guilt go.
If I am upset that my child didn’t get in a class with their best friend, I will let it go.
I will let go of the back to school clothes shopping. I will instead turn it into a fun September activity together rather than a knockdown, drag-out stress-ball of time for back to school. (Honestly, the weather is still as hot as anything, and they won’t wear the cute fall clothes for a few months anyway!)
This is an opportunity to choose peace over being frazzled.
“And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Colossians 3:17 HCSB
5. I will be there.
Once school starts, I will just be there for my child without overloading my schedule. Those first few weeks of school can be difficult for kids. They may not know anyone in their class, get a teacher they don’t like, struggle with remembering their new schedule, or are just plain tired.
I will not be on the phone at school pick up. I will hug them. I will sit down for family dinners. I will share about my day, inviting them to share about theirs. I know they will talk when they are ready, but I will make sure I am there for them to have the opportunity to talk.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB
My prayer is to find a way to let some things go and make a choice to be an influence of peace in my home this back to school season.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13 NASB
Denise Slater - I’m a mom to 12 year old triplets and a wife to a college professor. We both have relocated to Tennessee by way of Michigan (Go Blue!), Missouri and Arkansas, which means we have lots of family to visit during the summer. We are blessed to travel quite often during the summer as my husband’s job during this time can be done anywhere with a modem.
Self control-Audra's pick
This one Fruit of the Spirit can apply to so many of life’s circumstances. Whether deciding to eat “too much” candy or not, or whether or not to hit your sister, this character trait is useful. It doesn’t come easy in any situation. Not for mom, dad, or child. But, the more you apply it, the better you will be at learning to exhibit other traits as well.
Self -Discipline & Patience - Laura's pick
It's quite funny that these are the two characteristic traits that we focus on with our two children, because these are the hardest for me, their mom!
Macy - Self Discipline: She is ten years old and strives to do her best at whatever she tries. Many things have come rather easy for her and because of that, she thinks she should be able to pick up anything new and be the best. She gets completely frustrated when it doesn't happen. We are having to teach her that she has to create self-discipline in all areas of life, but when she really wants to excel in something, she must do the things required to get to that point.
Jude - Patience: He will be four in August, so I realize that not having patience comes with his age too, but there are ways he can be learning even now! We are teaching him that it's not all about him! He tends to turn on his whiny voice and a few tears when he doesn't get his way. Well, when that happens, he is learning that he really won't get what he wants. He has to ask us without tears or whining. Sometimes we will send him to his room until he can come back and ask us in the right way. He will walk into his room and immediately walk right back out and say, "I'm happy now!" and proceed to tell us what he needs! LOL
Kindness - Rebecca's pick
When we considered all the character traits that my husband and I want to consciously grow and develop in our children, there were many that jumped off the page. To narrow our focus, we zoomed in on each child and highlighted the traits that we want to continuously affirm and also the ones we need to focus more diligently on. Each child’s list is completely different! But, one trait that we unanimously agree is a priority in our home is KINDNESS.
Kindness in word and action is highlighted each and every day. We recognize words and acts of kindness with a high-five, a “Well Done,” a hug, or another affirmative gesture. In times where kindness is not shown, we push pause on life and discuss the deeper heart issue that the unkind behavior is revealing.
Faithfulness - Tammy's pick
As the years pass, the character traits we have cultivated in our kiddos have ebbed and flowed, but the one that stands out to me is faithfulness. Why? Because God has been so faithful to me. It stuns me how He hasn't dropped me or turned His back on me because of Jesus's shed blood on the cross. Therefore, despite my wandering heart, I strive to be faithful.
We also encourage this in our children. We have such mottos as: If you start something, finish it. If you said you'd do something, do it. If the going gets hard, press in. Be reliable. Be dependable. Be faithful to God, to yourself, to your tasks, and to others. In an unfaithful world, be faithful.
Christ-likeness- Pastor Kevin Carson
Trait: the desire to be God's kind of boy or girl. The goal is to teach our children their purpose in life is to be like Jesus, which is God's kind of boy or girl. We look for object lessons to use to emphasize both purpose and honoring God.
Two examples: we use a carpenter's pencil to emphasize its creator making the pencil with a specific purpose which is similar to God, and we regularly point their attention to sunsets & sunrises which declare the glory of God. If you look for them, there are many opportunities to help your children embrace God's purpose for life.
As a special treat for Father's Day, we are featuring our second male guest blogger! I have known Kevin Carson my entire life. His father was the pastor of the church (the one with the holy saltines) that I wrote about in my salvation story. I have always thought of Kevin's entire family as salt-of-the-earth type of people - so authentic, so humble, and so Christlike. While I knew him as a kid, he is now a pastor, professor, counselor, author, and speaker. And today, he is writing as a father on a subject that has touched the lives of so many of our readers. May his story fill your burdened heart with great hope.
Today is my sweet baby’s nineteenth birthday. Kayla lived for one short month. We had hoped to enjoy her for our lifetime, but in God’s plan her days were so few in number. Her impact though has far outweighed her days. In some ways it seems like yesterday and like we were kids when we had her; in other ways, it seems like an eternity ago. Although some of the feelings change, the hurt and the loss never go away. Oh to sing to her again just one more time, to hold her, to caress her head, to read to her, to tell her how pretty she is, to say, “I love you.” This many years later, it still makes me cry.
There are so many parents like me and like us. When your child dies, your world changes. Things are never the same again. Something inside of you constitutionally is different. It’s a club no parent wanted to be part of – those who have lost a child. Yes, there’s laughter. Yes, there are good days. Yes, life goes on. But don’t confuse living and going on with life as if there is no pain, no hurt, or no loss.
Then in the midst of life, we remember that the Bible is for life. The Bible teaches that God’s plan for each of Christ’s followers is to change into His image, to become like Christ. Additionally, the Bible itself is for life change. God gives us His Word in order for us to change in the power of the Spirit to become more like Christ. Therefore, the Bible’s verses are to be applied to life’s circumstances.
As a grieving father with my sweet girl’s grieving mother, my challenge is to apply the Bible to our daughter’s death as well. There are many passages I could consider (and maybe someday will), but two specifically stand out to me as I consider 19 years and counting.
Challenging Passage #1: James 1:2
James was written to fellow Christians who were in deep persecution. People are dying. They are running for their lives. They are disappointed Christ has not come back to earth yet like He promised. It is a rough time. In the midst of this incredibly rough time, our Pastor James, Jesus’ brother, writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”
What? How in the world are they – how in the world are we – how in the world are you supposed to count it all joy when you undergo trials of every sort? Does he include when your baby dies?
Over the years this verse has challenged me and helped me. In the midst of the simplest trials or in the throes of life’s greatest trials, the truth of this verse does not change. That’s what makes it so challenging.
How is it possible to count it all joy when you go through this kind of trial?
Let me help you first by considering two key words and then pointing to the greater context. The first key word is “count.” Here, Pastor James is using an accounting term. In other words, when you put pencil and paper to this problem, the answer to this real-life math equation is joy. As you consider the overall picture of God’s plan in this, ultimately we recognize that this fits in the positive category of joy.
So then, what’s “joy?” Joy here is a state of being, not an emotion. Joy does not mean that you just paste a smile on and pretend that nothing happened or that everything is ok. Joy is not feeling happy. Here joy refers to a deep-seated contentment in God’s plan even in the midst of pain, heartache, and pressure. It is a thankful trust in God’s character and plan.
The context highlights God’s plan. James writes further, “…knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3-4). This trial or tough circumstance, in this case the death of our baby, as we go through the circumstance and its aftermath, is meant to produce spiritual maturity and growth. The trial helps give me pieces of my character that were formerly missing.
This is the reason why the math equation works. You and I can have joy – even in the midst of deep sadness – because we know that God even uses life’s hardest events to help grow our faith, our character, and our spiritual maturity. We trust God and His plan even in the middle of heartache because He will use this for His glory and our good. Joy – this deep-seated contentment – can rule me even when my heart aches and even in the center of this sadness.
Challenging Passage #2: Philippians 4:11
The passage in James leads me to another challenging passage by a different author in Philippians. Paul writes, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, to be content” (Phil 4:11).
How is it possible to be content with the death of a child?
First, it is only possible by the strength Christ provides. Paul writes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13). It is impossible to be content and to count it joy as you go through this life circumstance without the power of the Christ working in you. We do not have enough strength or ability to be content on our own. We must turn toward Christ and the strength He provides. We must depend upon Him, call out to Him, and desperately turn to Him for help.
Paul continues, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil 4:12). Paul does not deny the realities of suffering. The Bible does not pretend that everything is fine. The text does not say to live in a pretend world. It is even in the midst of deep suffering that we can turn to Christ who allows us to be content with God’s plan.
In the Midst of the Pain
Does this mean that the pain goes away? Do these passages suggest that I put on a happy face and pretend that everything is fine? Do I just pretend for the glory of God?
No. No. No. No.
What these passages do mean is that even in the heart of significant trouble – like our baby dying – we can trust God’s character and plan. In the middle of this circumstance, we can recognize God is using even our hurts, our tears, and heartache for His glory as we grow into Christlikeness. As days turn into years, we learn to focus on God and trust His character even as we visit a gravesite, celebrate birthdays in heaven, and miss all the opportunities of watching a baby grow up into a beautiful young lady.
For sake of space I will not rehearse all the ways that God has grown me through this trial. As today marks another birthday of our sweet little girl, I can say that God continues to grow me. I recognize I’m not the man I was back then. And with sadness I also accept the fact that possibly I would have never grown, never been humble enough, or never have paid attention to aspects of my character that have changed because of her short life and untimely death.
Can I be content in Christ? Can I consider it joy? Yes and yes. Does it mean that this day isn’t filled with hurt, tears, and a true recognition of loss? Oh no. It is. Real loss. Real tears. Real hurt. But as I type through tear-filled eyes, there is still contentment that God knows, God cares, God provides, and God continues to grow me through the trial.
In addition, I also know that the promises of heaven and eternity are sweet promises. We wait in anticipation.
Kevin Carson is the Pastor of the Sonrise Baptist Church in Ozark, Missouri. In addition to his pastoral ministry, he serves as the department chair of biblical counseling at the Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. He also serves as a counselor at Sonrise Biblical Counseling Ministry, is ACBC Certified, IABC Certified, a council member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, author, and is a frequent speaker at conferences, retreats and seminars. He and his wife, Kelly, have four children.
You can follow him on Twitter at @pastorkevinc, on Facebook, and his blog.
Eating Tide Pods, leaving class to march for #enough, and gaming into the night are just a few indicators that this current generation is restless. Granted, each generation has its own cauldron of woes, including my own. Ha! But I've been in much thought and prayer for this current generation, the one I birthed my terrific three into.
So what exactly is it to be restless? Is it bad to be restless? One definition for restless is "Anxious and bored." But it also means "not satisfied and wanting change." The difference between "anxious and bored" and "not satisfied and wanting change" boils down to what we believe is the answer to the question, "Why am I here?"
When we believe
- we are here by chance and
- life is all about me
we can easily drift into boredom and anxiety.
Such a mindset causes the answer to "Why am I here?" to vacillate with each passing trend.
But when we believe
- we were created intentionally for this time and place by our Creator.
- God wove a purpose and a plan into our DNA
we are not satisfied with the status quo and want change.
This mindset knows the answer to "Why am I here?" is found in believing Ephesians 2:10.
"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Think with me of the heroes of the faith. We think of them as cute little Sunday school stories, but these were real people just like you and me! They had hopes and dreams as well as fears and doubts. But their actions showed they were confident in their "Why am I here?"
Such examples like:
Noah - While others lived a debauched existence, he skillfully and faithfully built an ark. He knew why he was here.
David - While others quivered and wrung their hands, he charged toward the God-mocking giant, Goliath and defeated him! He knew why he was here.
Daniel - While others gluttonously partook of the king's sumptuous food, he ate fruits and vegetables and was found to be 10x smarter than those around him. He knew why he was here.
Mary - While others whispered and speculated, she washed Jesus's feet with her tears. Jesus's feet! Can you imagine! She knew why she was here.
and the list goes on and on.
They were restless but channeled that restlessness for their good and for the glory of the Lord. Why?
They knew the answer to "Why am I here?" To fulfill their part of God's amazing plan.
We too should be relentlessly restless for God's kingdom and so should our kiddos.
Think of water, it can be life-giving and good when channeled and functional, like a river or a water hose. But when a river breaches its banks or a water hose cracks and busts, chaos erupts. So it is with restlessness.
As believers, restlessness channeled by anything other than God's will is chaos.
But what if Christian parents were as intentional as the #enough movement to inspire an awakening in our kids?
What if we pointed them to THE answer to "Why am I here?"
What if we helped channel our kids restlessness for something bigger than themselves?
The sleeping giant called the church would wake up! Wow! Revival would break out! Yes! I believe anxiety and depression and suicide and school shootings would decrease all because our kids - the light of the world - chose to live securely in knowing the answer to one of life's most troubling questions, "Why am I here?"
Next week, I'll share some of the ways my man and myself are intentionally pointing our kiddos to the answer to "Why am I here?" In the meantime, how about you? Do you know why you are here? Do you wake up satisfied knowing you are here for a reason and a purpose. Look again at Ephesians 2:10. Ask the Lord to increase your faith and to shine the light as to "Why am I here?"
"For we are God's masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.