Years ago I read Stormie Omartian’s book “The Power of a Praying Wife,” a book I found while slowly looking through a Christian devotional section in the public library. It was an easy read, and more importantly, a really powerful way to view and care for my husband. I took notes, but ultimately had to return the borrowed book.
About six months ago while in a Christian bookstore, I saw that same praying wife book and another that caught my attention: “The Power of a Praying Parent” by the same author. I snatched them both up. And then they gathered dust.
I’ve really wanted to just open these two books, read a chapter and say the provided prayer at the end the chapter. That should take 15-20 minutes. But naturally, I’ve not been devoting that time to God (or my relationships with either my son or husband by choosing to not devote prayer time to them as well).
So one morning this week I forced myself to carry the books with me until I had at least read two of the prayers – one in each book. I ended up praying the first parent prayer acknowledging my limitations and seeking out God to take control. Then I read a prayer for my husband about work. It was the end of the school year for my teacher man, so you can imagine everyone in his building was ready to throw in the towel. The prayer focused on finding purpose and reward in work, to develop his skills to be more valuable, even to clearly show him a different path if this isn’t the right work for him.
These two prayers took me less than 5 minutes to read and focus on. 8:03 – 8:08am. Then I went about my day.
That same day was the last for Jim’s school year. He told me that evening the day ended with two cool experiences for him.
First, a non-English speaking mother ask Jim for a photo with him and her two boys.
These boys have a lot of progress to make when it comes to school. But they love to fish. So Jim has taken old tackle from his own fishing supplies stash and allowed these boys to earn their tackle by accumulating points through a reward system for good behavior, completing work, that kind of thing. But earlier this spring, one of the boys talked about wanting a tackle box to put all his gear in. So at Jim’s leading, the teachers set an unreasonable number of points to earn: 400,000 to be exact. Average point totals at this school are 50,000. And 10 days before the end of school year, Jim checked in with him to learn he had 250,000 points. Jim and this young boy had a conversation about how every single day had to be perfect behavior and getting work done – plus bonus points, so he needed to get his servant attitude on.
I think you see where this is going…The kid got the points. And my husband went and spent part of his monthly “blow” money on a little tackle box for this box. This is money that Jim and I don’t have to justify to one another what we spent it on, or save receipts for the monthly budget meeting. I’ve used it on a massage, new items to decorate our home, or…other selfish things. But my husband used some of his cash to buy his student a tackle box.
And this boy’s mom just gave Jim the “thank you” eyes because she didn’t have the English to say any more.
(gushing wifey moment)
Second, Jim’s students have crazy barriers. Some never really gain the ability to read well. Do you have any idea what your life would be like if you couldn’t read? Especially as an elementary student with a minimum of 10 years of school left? And on the last day of school, a dad walked up to Jim, shook his hand, and said, “You’re the reason my kid knows how to read. Thank you.”
After he told me this, I shared the prayer I had said just that morning. You know? The one about finding purpose and reward in his work?
I’m not crying! You’re crying!
Seriously. God showed up, y’all.
It’s so interesting that I wrote a blog last week about being reminded of all the ways God has “shown up” in my life. This leads to my lesson learned this week:
When I engage with God, he engages with me.
It’s not a surprising lesson to me. I know it to be true. But how very often, I forget.
It works the same in my human relationships too. When Jim and I prioritize date night, that time together improves our communication, our affection, our respect for one another. When I prioritize Mommy-Owen time, that kid cuddles me more, he’s open to new experiences with me, and I start to understand him a little better. But I make that choice. That decision.
I can choose Instagram or Facebook scrolling. I can choose the ever-disappointing news feed about our shrinking federal budget or discrimination against a local non-white family. I can choose cleaning up the house.
I’ll certainly still choose those things (I really like a clean house. That one really pained me to write down). But sometimes I need to refocus. Now, I won’t lie: I won’t just pick up my Bible. Where the heck do I even start? It’s so overwhelming. And often difficult to read.
So sometimes it’s easier to start with reading a faith-based blog (Her View from Home is my favorite).
It’s easier to call and have a conversation with a friend about what’s going on – and being intentional about finding God in our situations (especially after a negative vent session).
And even though it can be difficult to get out the door and survive the hour that is church with children, sometimes it’s easier to listen to worship songs and a pastor share a message of Christ’s love. And you just sit with a lump in your throat the whole time trying to not feel because you don’t need everybody seeing you totally lose your composure in church. (But when I see some other woman start to bawl in church, I never judge her. Because I get it. You think I’d allow myself the same freedom.)
But don’t always choose the easy way out. It’s not easy, and I forget the reward so often, but it’s oh-so-good when I choose things God blesses. Choose to find a faith-based book about something you’re struggling with. Choose to rest and enjoy His presence. Choose to engage with God so He can show up.