Tuesday, November 2

To Chance or To God...

I have been reading a book called "Professionalizing Motherhood"-- a book recommended to me by my new friend Brandi, an awesome mom from my MOPS group who has a really big heart and recently put her career on hold to stay home with her kids.

It's a good book. A bit simplistic at times, but full of practical, insightful and encouraging information on the life of a stay at home mom. (You should also know, if you go to buy the book, that it was published almost 10 years ago. While that doesn't matter inherently, if you're like me and order a used copy on Amazon, it may come to you a bit yellowed and the cover is a little dated. I DISLIKE yellowed books! I won't lie. I like nice, crisp, white, fresh, pages. All that aside, I decided to read it and it has been encouraging!).

The section I'm reading right now is called "Tools of the Trade". The first, and most important "tool of the trade" that Jill Savage recommends is prayer.

Now, when I first saw the chapter I thought I've heard this before. Yes, of course, we need to pray for our children. 

But, while I've thought that and know that I'll admit that I don't always DO IT! Do you?

Prayer, for me, can be a strange experience sometimes. Prayer, of course, is essential and necessary if you are trying to engage in any sort of relationship with God, but that doesn't mean it isn't a little odd and hard to grasp at times.

Now, I'm going to admit something else that may make me sound a little crazy; there are a LOT of voices going on up in my head! And sometimes all that noise makes it hard to pray!

Maybe it's just me, but my hunch is that it is moms (and women!) in general. We are always trying to manage, and figure out and plan for and remember and organize so many things in our head! I also think that some people (me excluded) are much better at being in the moment and focusing on one thing at a time. My analogy (that I offer my husband to in an attempt to explain my zany brain) is that there are often 16 different television channels going on in my head at once! I can relax if I can get that number down to like 10 or 12!

All that to say, when I start praying, this very intimate conversation going on in my head, sometimes feels like one more voice...and I find myself thinking, "Can God really hear me if I'm not speaking aloud?" "Does He really hear our prayers? Or are these just pleadings and praises and questions bouncing around in my mind that go no further than the space I'm in?"

Well, I can tell you that I pray often and I pray honestly, and though sometimes it just feels like extra noise in my head I do believe and have seen proof of it working in my life.

Here is how Jill Savage puts in in her book:
"As our children grow more and more independent, they spend less and less time with us. Although we cannot accompany  them through all the ups and downs of life, God can. he can be where we cannot be. He can guide when we aren't able to guide. He can protect when we are not present...Prayer is an indispensable tool for the profession of motherhood." 
She goes on in the chapter to ask if we are leaving things, are we leaving our KIDS, to chance or to God?

What a great question! I know, so often, I leave things to chance. I ASSUME God knows my needs and if he wants to meet them, well that would be great! That, I realized, is leaving things to chance. God wants us to ASK.

I'll share one quick story about how this recently played itself out in my life.

Last week I was feeling frustrated that the girls were fighting and whining SO much. Seriously, it seemed like 80% of their waking hours was consumed by some sort of anguished fight, whine, need or call. It was diving me CRAZY.

I mean, if you think about this in terms of any sort of more professional job, if your co-workers or even your students (as a teacher) where whining and complaining and being just plain miserable all day, it would make you miserable too, wouldn't it?!

So one morning, I came downstairs before the girls got up. I try to do this is often as possible to pray and gather my thoughts. On this particular morning, it dawned on me that if I couldn't do anything about it maybe God could!

At first I thought "This is silly. I can't pray that God change my children's behavior. Don't they have to do that on their own? Don't I need to teach them biblical principles to help the grow, etc. etc." But as I started praying I prayed that God would give them a sense of compassion and love for one another...that He would warm their hearts towards each other.

I swear to you, I have NEVER seen a day (and haven't seen one since!) in which Ava was SO stinkin' nice to her sister! She greeted her when she woke up (instead of grumbling at her), she was giving her hugs and sharing her juice and cheerios with her (instead of yelling that Ella was trying to take them from her), she helped her with her breakfast, she asked me to put music on the radio that Ella would like, she was offering her toys instead of taking them away-- the list goes on and on. Truly, ALL DAY, Ava was a completely different person!

Now, I'm not expecting this to happen all the time, but I do know that God was showing me something that day. He was answering my prayer-- reminding me and encouraging me that prayer works AND that he does care about our needs-- even the ones that seem small and unimportant in the grand scheme of life. He also cares about our kids and is there to guide them (and perhaps even change their hearts) when we have exhausted all options.

So, if something is going on in your life that you are frustrated about, give it a try. If your kids are driving you crazy, pray for them! Pray about that thing specifically that is making you nuts and see what happens! I don't mean to make this sound like a game because it is SO much bigger than that, but God likes to surprise us and even more importantly he likes to hear from us. If you take some time to break from the other voices in your head and start a conversation that has eternal reach, rather than just causing more internal noise, I promise you that that very conversation will go further than the walls of your house and  God may do a little something to let you know He's hanging out in your home as well!

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