5 Steps to Focus on Prayer, Rather than Letting Your Mind Wander

5 Steps to Focus on Prayer, Rather than Letting Your Mind Wander

***This post does contain Amazon affiliate links, for which I earn ad fees.***

I don’t know about you, but I have always done some of my very best thinking during prayer time or listening to a church sermon. It isn’t on purpose. It’s just that it can be frustratingly hard to focus.

Prayer is something I start with the best of intentions. Like this….it’s funny…..

“Dear Lord, thank you so much for this day, and my husband and children, and this house. You have been so good to me……Ugh, it’s a lunch-packing day, and I forgot to buy bread. What is that brown smudge over there? I’m going to have to clean that up. Oh, Lord, do help Gracie with that problem she’s having. I meant to pray about that. Sanctify her heart. My bra hurts. My pants are hot. What did I set the air conditioner on? This summer I’m going to save $250 by not joining the neighborhood pool…Oh yeah, please help Gracie. Give her wisdom for this.”

Yes, it’s that bad. No, all of those thoughts are not prayer thoughts, or even related thoughts. This is how brains sometimes work!

We have to INTENTIONALLY find a way to focus on our prayer, and I recently came across a plan that smoothed out that jacked up roller coaster ride that used to be my prayers.

I found it in this book:

 

I’m reading this book with a small group of women at my church. Page 15 had the prayer-changing-strategy that I found so helpful.

First, the authors, Ralph W. Neighbor, Jr. and Bill Latham, take you through the Lord’s prayer to remind us how Jesus said to pray. Most of us are familiar with that.

But then, they actually break it down to prompts that you PERSONALIZE for your life on that day.

5 steps to more focused prayer, rather than letting your mind wander

These are the questions they ask you to fill in:

  1. “What will you say to God to show how you respect and honor him?” Then they give you space to write out what you are actually going to say.
  2. “What part of your life and your world do you need to commit to God’s control today?” ____________________________________________
  3. They ask you what you need to ask forgiveness for. Ouch. Yep. Be honest.
  4. “Where do you need God’s protection in your life today?”  I love that we have this sort of heavenly Father. He WILL give you protection where you need it, when you ask him.
  5. “What can you say and do to recognize God’s rule over your life today?”

 

These 5 simple, PERSONAL, questions provide you with an outline to focus on your prayers.

It’s not just a list of gimme, gimme, gimme either. It’s a true heart check and conversation starter.

Yes, many of us keep a prayer list of names and needs, but this is better than that alone because it changes everyday, and it encourages you to give God glory and thanksgiving, rather than just a list of requests.

I found it much easier to FOCUS on what I was praying, using this guide, than my typical mode of just letting the words flow from my mind and heart with no aforethought. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as I showed at the beginning, I simply have trouble FOCUSING.

Many people use a 5 step outline for prayer, but I found this to be even better for my mind-wandering because it required me to write down what I wanted to say on this particular day, what was relevant at the moment.

I hope you find this useful. I think it would be wonderful to fill up an entire notebook of prayer outlines like this, all filled in.

 

“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed by your name.

Your kingdom come, 

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, 

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.”

–Jesus, in Matthew 6: 9-13

 

I hope you all have a wonderful week. It’s the first week of summer here! Time to have fun with the kids!

 

 

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

**This post does contain affiliate links, which means that when you purchase through links on this page, April collects advertising fees from Amazon.**

 

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

Was I always a little flaky? I don’t know. For years, I could get away with being very loosy-goosy with my planning because I was a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers. We moved all the time too, so by the time people developed expectations of me, we were off and away to the next town.

Over the years, I have slipped into a routine of planning as little as I can get away with planning. I’ll procrastinate decisions until they are made for me. Yep. Guilty of that. Sometimes I get this fear of commitment. If I sign up for things, I’m going to have to figure out how to actually accomplish those things with toddlers in tow.

And I never knew when my husband would be here or not be here, so making plans felt like shooting darts– real darts–in a room full of people, blindfolded.

No thanks.

So friends, that is how I became the version of April you have today.

April, are you going to the yada yada yada meeting?

**Total deer in the headlights**

Ummmm. Uhhhhhh.  Umm, yeah, you know, I might…

(Inside my head I’m thinking……IF all 4 kids are well, IF Alan is in town, IF I have energy left that day…..IF I am not supposed to actually be at Dan’s tee-ball game or some Army function that I can’t remember the exact dates for…..If, If, If…..)

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

I love to rock me some babies. Go away, world, until I finish this.

 

Actually, for the past 11 years those were all perfectly good reasons to be flaky, indecisive, unprepared, uncommitted, and unsure. Did I shut the world out a little bit? Yes, yes, I definitely did.

In fact, I had to google the word “twerking” not too long ago. I’m so out of touch with pop culture, and I kept hearing that word. All I can say to that one is ew, girl! Ew. Somebody get that poor girl a sweater and some capri pants.

But things keep popping up on our calendars, and I’ve re-entered the world of work with my blog. I actually HAVE to FORCE myself to plan and be less free-spirited, more grown-up like.

You people who have a plan amaze me, and I mean that in a good way. You totally have my respect.

You know when you are going on vacation. You’ve actually committed to specific dates, and you probably even know how you are gong to pay for that.

You have a budget.

You know when people’s birthdays are, and you plan for that accordingly.

You keep some sort of planner or calendar.

 My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan
About that….Y’all! I have purchased TWO different “planners” this year. They are both mostly blank. I have a calendar hanging in my kitchen too, which makes 3 planners, really. All I’ve written on that one is what the kids are doing for lunch and when their dentist appointments are.

I even downloaded an editorial calendar plug-in to try and start planning my blog posts. (It’s actually extremely helpful, fellow bloggers, check it out. It’s called “editorial calendar.”)

Only I’m so anti-structured in my thinking, I can rarely bring myself to write about what I’m ‘scheduled’ to write about.

I also have 2 different e-books I’ve written half of, and now they are just sitting on my hard-drive taking up space. My hard drive is so full, my computer has actually stopped letting me download or upload new things.

And suddenly I find myself wanting to change.

See, I bought all those planners. That’s the first step. I WANT to do the right thing and be all responsible again. I always was one-half responsible and one-half not at all, even back in high school and college. I used to make myself plans and stick to them, sort of. Well, I used to make plans. Maybe I never did really stick to them. I almost always turn in everything on time, actually, but I live in fear of signing up for extra things.

So I decided to pray about this today.

And this was my answer:  If you can plan out each day by making a list and crossing things off, then you can apply that same strategy to weeks. Then apply it to months. Then do that for years. Do it at the start of each week, each month, and each year, just like you are doing now for days.

Huh. Brilliant. Maybe even doable?

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

My planning tends to never go past the day that I’m on. This is the typical extent of my planning.

 

What I do now for each day is this. After I have safely delivered all of my children to school, I come home and have a little time for Bible study and prayer. You have to pour inspiration in to yourself if you expect to pour any out, right?

I close with prayer, and I ask God to help me make my to-do list for that day. I write the list out on the wipe-off board in the kitchen. Then I mentally prioritize the things that HAVE to get done.

That’s why I usually cook supper in the morning, by 12:00, because I know everyone HAS to eat, and I don’t want that task hanging over my head. Also, I have no energy left at 5:00pm.

I see no reason why this method for planning each day could not be applied to my weeks, months, and years, with one of the 3 planners I’ve purchased laying open on my lap.

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

And don’t even say that I should use my phone as my planner. I can’t do it. This falls under scatter-brained people problems. The minute I open my phone to use the calendar or some other useful, productive app, I immediately forget what I was doing and end up reading Instagram or my email or something.

So watch out, world! I now have a plan for how to plan!!!! Who knows? Maybe next week I will make a budget, a meal plan, or catch up on my 2,809 emails…….nahhhhh…

Please share your best planning tips in the comment section! We would love to hear more ideas! Thanks, y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Place to Write Out Answered Prayers

 

Yesterday we sang this song at church:

It starts quiet and gets louder. That’s not my church, just one I found on You Tube. This song is powerful, and even more so when you are there in person, singing it with other believers.

I could not stop my tears while singing this song. I have this problem that once my water works start it feels impossible to turn them off!! All of a sudden, I lose all ability to be tough or cool. I become total mush. Does that happen to you? It’s embarrassing, but it’s healing, and sometimes you have no choice really.

So today, why don’t we take time to remember? Do we remember?

There was this movie called The War Room, which starred Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore even had a small role in it. In the movie, an elderly woman served as Priscilla Shirer’s mentor. She had something hanging on her wall that I’d never seen before: a list of answered prayers.

It was a powerful film. I hope you get a chance to watch the whole thing later, but for now, here’s a dramatic clip:

This movie was GOOD, but because it was Christian you didn’t hear about it much. Go digging for it on the internet. It’s well worth your time. I mean I saw it a YEAR ago, and I’m still remembering things I learned in this movie!

Amazon sells it for $10, or if you have Starz, you can watch it for free:

The other big thing that stuck with me was having a closet to go pray in. Here at my new house I finally have both a list and a closet to pray in, and I am loving that.

I even made a pretty list to write my lists of answered prayers on. In only 30 minutes, I filled up four of these sheets, so if you want to use this, you may want to print 5, not just one. Yep. I turned it into a free printable, so I can share it with you.
Free Printable for Answered Prayer ListEach list is the size of a sheet of copy paper. Click here to print it. : answeredprayerWord

I have a black and white printer, so mine didn’t have the pretty colors after all. Sad! But yours can so long as you have a color printer.

I feel like I’m living the longest answered prayer ever this year. My list was long, and I won’t bore you with my list, but I do want to share this one with you.

I want to tell you about my support system this year. The hardest months were November 2015-April 2016. It felt like my physical body was crumbling. There were days I limped around with hip pain, and no one could tell me why. I would toss and turn, and I could not sleep because of that obnoxious hip, but no one could fix it. But the worst part was the fevers, because they would zap my energy and leave me feeling useless. Oh! And then the heart problem started. Then when they told me it was v-tach, and I read about v-tach, I thought, “Oh, great. I’m dying? I could just die any night in my sleep?”

Since my doctors couldn’t figure out my hip problem, they labeled me as having “many somatic complaints,” and they sent me to a counselor. Nice. So basically, if you have a sickness that docs don’t know how to fix they decide you need counseling. And there are lots of problems doctors cannot fix.

Many women would fall back on family during times like these, but when you live on the other side of the country from your family, you’d better hope you’ve made some friends.

It felt like a recipe for depression, my friends.

But that wasn’t how it turned out. Sometimes God sends people who are the answers to our prayers. That’s what happened for me. I want to tell you about three people who were answers to my prayers.

analise

Analise, my substitute

Analise

I hired Analise to watch the boys each Friday while I went to my weekly doctor visits and tests at the cardiologist, the rheumatologist, the counselor, the physical therapist, and the chiropractor.

Ladies, don’t ever feel like you are “just a nanny.” Analise was 1000 times more than just a nanny. That is a noble calling. I could not have made it through this year without her, and she was a source of happiness for my boys who were having to cope with having a mom that was “always sick.” She was fun and energetic, but she was also mature enough to handle two boys who were supposed to be doing their schoolwork, along with two pre-schoolers.

Analise was a gift from God. She was the answer to my literal cry for help.

laura

My unofficial support group of friends: Every single one is a blessing. Laura is the one on the far right.

Laura

Laura was Daniel’s best friend’s mother. She had Daniel at her house about as much as I had him at mine, and I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t. I would also come home to little gifts from her all the time: bath fizzies, Bama cupcakes, and her signature sidewalk art.

Laura offered that touch that reminded me that I was still a person of value, even when I was sick and confused.

answered prayers

The incredible women in my home school support group. Paola is the second from the end on the right, on the sofa. Man, I miss these ladies!!

Paola

What you might not know about me is that I have this need to follow the rules and …..win. I like winning. That’s right. I too want to win and win biggly. (Hehe!) I crave success. So when I started failing, it was quite the avalanche of pride. Oh, what a humbling year it was.

I could not keep up as Joshua’s grammar/writing teacher. He had his computer program for math, but grammar was on me. But our grammar/writing tutoring sessions were every Monday afternoon. No matter how hard I tried, doctor appointments kept falling on Monday afternoon. And fevers. And just my general mess!

Fail. Fail. Fail. I felt like I was constantly failing. Joshua actually had to direct himself for most of his school work for most of that school year. I felt like I was setting him up for failure.

When we would make it on Monday afternoons, we’d be behind on assignments, because of me. Plus, JD’s entire day would be thrown off from the lack of nap at daycare, and Joshua would be in misery because he wasn’t getting much out of that class as unprepared as he was.

I didn’t have it in me to stay for Monday afternoons any longer. It took so much of my energy reserves to finish a Monday that I finally realized I could not keep it up.

We could handle the three-hour Monday morning tutoring sessions, but packing a lunch for all of us and staying for the afternoon became too much.

So it was with great humility that I wrote Paola (the Essentials tutor, Joshua’s teacher for the 2 hour afternoon session) a long note explaining why we had to drop Essentials with only five or so weeks left in the program.

And what I got from Paola was something I won’t forget. I’d back that woman up for any battle she may ever need help with. Paola gave me grace. 

She agreed that our course of action was best for us. She sympathized with all we were going through. She allowed Joshua to continue turning in his grammar charts to her, but she didn’t pressure us for anything at all. In fact, when the year was over, she congratulated me on persevering to the finish.

Have you ever known someone who gave you the exact encouragement that you needed and more? I felt like such a flake that whole semester because of all the “no’s” I was having to say. But Paola and the other CC moms accepted us right where we were in life.

It wasn’t just Paola that gave me support last school year. All of my fellow Classical Conversations moms were understanding and helpful. If only I could have brought my California friends with me to the South!

Sometimes God uses people to answer our prayers, and truly even to teach us what grace feels like. Grace, hope, and love. I hope that he will use me to bless others as greatly as my friends and family have blessed me.

What a year of answered prayers. I can’t wait to see what God does next. I want you to all know that I am doing much better now. Thank you so much for loving us through the hard times.

Be sure to get the printable and share what God has done in your life.

 

 

An Unexpected Blessing and Friend

IMG_0355

Something special happened to me this week.

We have been on such an emotional roller coaster this year, and we’ve had new obstacles to manage the past couple of weeks. When one member of a family meets a set-back, the whole family meets it too because we are each other’s support. I cannot write about it because it wasn’t mine to write about, but I felt it almost as much as he did. Don’t worry. Everyone is safe and sound, but not all of life’s battles are physical.

Meanwhile, there is so much going on in our hearts, both exciting and hard, as we settle into our new community here, but we are so thankful that we are never alone.

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friends

Woody has been a friend of ours for a long time.

IMG_0401

Batteries, schmatteries. Woody swims.

friends

Before this he was buried in the sand, so he deserved this swim.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Even if we didn’t have each other, which thankfully we do, we are never alone. Even if it were just me here with no family at all, I would not be truly alone. No one HAS to be.

When you believe in God the Father and Creator, and Jesus His Son, there is no reason to ever be alone. He promises he is always with us. He has given us a Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

16And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever — 17the Spirit of truth.                    John 14:16-17

When I move, I usually pray that we will all make friends. We are not alone, but there is something extra special about having flesh and blood friends who comfort and cheer us, and in turn we do the same for them.

I love how friends often come in unexpected ways, like Fran.

Now I’m not referring to Alan’s Aunt Fran. We love her too, but this is another, much older Fran that we just met.

Wednesday night we met her at church, and she said to Alan, “I’d like to have your names and your phone number. As I was sitting here, and I saw y’all, such a lovely new family, and we’re glad to have you, I thought, ‘I’d like to help them.’ We did that for a family with little boys in the past, but then I realized, ‘Wait, now I’m 85 years old, I can’t help them quite the same as I could back then, but I can pray for them.”

Ah. She is doing exactly what she can do in the place that she is. What a sweet, sweet blessing. I’ve never felt so special.

We gave her our number. We didn’t really expect that she’d call us.

This morning I went to MOPS. (Moms of Preschoolers) I’ve never been to one before, but I like to be social, and I’m not so burdened down here as I was in California, so I was finally able to go.

John David and I were on our way home from MOPS, about to turn into my driveway, when my cell phone rang, and it was Fran. She said again how she is praying for us, and she asked for the boys’ names and ages and asked how she can pray for each of our little boys.

I was happy to give her all of that information, and one of our boys has had an especially rough start here. He hasn’t been in any trouble, but he has faced difficult things, and on top of that he has medical tests ahead of him with a cardiologist, and I told Fran a little bit about all of that.

I asked about her too, and this sweet lady has lived all over the world. Her story is very interesting.

I got off the phone with tears in my eyes. It seems like tears are always in my eyes lately. Again, there have been no great, horrible things that have happened, it’s just that it’s an overwhelming year of many changes. Sometimes the tears just sort of brim over and leak out.

But today I feel blessed. We are loved. God is with us. We can meet whatever we must meet. We are all never truly alone.

Have you ever met a friend like Fran? Or have you ever thought of being a friend to a younger family or person, as she is for us? I’d love to hear about it.

 

Deep Thoughts from Magic Kingdom 2016

Magic Kingdom 2016

This was the best surprise I’ve ever pulled off. We are not typically adept at keeping exciting news to ourselves. We are the kind of people who announced we were pregnant the second we found out.

But this time we played it cool. We DID tell the boys we were headed to Disney World. However, we did NOT tell them that I copied my friend Amy’s Disney itinerary as closely as I could, so our Disney vacation would be shared with Xavier and Zoe. (Don’t worry. Xavier and Zoe’s parents were in on it. I wasn’t completely stalking them.)

So Alan and I rode down to Florida, enjoying our secret.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Believe it or not, JD was the MOST visibly excited one. “I’m just so excited to go to Disney World. Can I ride Dusty? I wanna ride Planes.”

Magic Kingdom 2016

Road trip discovery!!! Best coffee ever, y’all!! Raceway gas station Community Coffee. I gotta find a Raceway close to my house now. I am hooked.

Magic Kingdom 2016

scenes of happiness

Magic Kingdom 2016

By the time we arrived, JD was sound asleep.

Art of Animation Resort

Our resort was the bee’s knees, y’all. We stayed at the Art of Animation Resort at Disney World, which is actually a VALUE level resort. The family suites sleep 6 and have 2 full bathrooms. There is a cafeteria open until midnight, several swimming pools, and all the free drink refills you want, if you have the Disney Dining Plan.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Art of Animation Cars Family Suite. This room was all themed out for Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel. That couch turns into a bed.

Magic Kingdom 2016

The room has a fridge and a microwave. I don’t remember why Joshua was looking like that.

Magic Kingdom 2016

That Mater wall is a pull-down bed.

Magic Kingdom 2016

There was a life-size Lightning McQueen, Mater, Sheriff, Ramone, and many others. It really upped the excitement level of staying at Disney World.

Magic Kingdom 2016

He was a little disappointed that he couldn’t get in and drive Lightning McQueen. Bless.

 

Magic Kingdom 2016

Caleb and me on the Magic Kingdom train

Magic Kingdom

Day 1 was off to a rocky start. First, we were later than we had hoped to be because….well because we are us and we have four children.

That’s 6 people to apply sunscreen to. Six people to feed. Six people to dress. Six people to brush teeth. 6 people to use the bathroom. Six people to get on each other’s nerves. 6 people to make jokes. 6 people to keep up with. 6 people to wake up. You get the idea.

So we finally made it to the pearly Magic Kingdom gates, through the bag check line, and to the bracelet scan ….and…..

whomp whomp whomp

“We need you to go to guest services.”

Denied entry. Now that is sad.

There was a line at guest services. I guess we weren’t the only ones. Turns out that we had to prove that we were military b/c we’d gotten a sweet military discount on those tickets. Now, if our resort peeps had known, they could have validated that for us, but we didn’t think to tell them, and they didn’t ask, so this had to be done at the gate. It was a good thing Alan had his ID with him.

Phew! Finally got through that. We made our way over to the train. Poor little John David tripped as he was climbing onto the train. He cried. It was loud. After a few minutes of that, a sweet lady from behind us passed him an entire package of Starbursts to cheer him up.

We needed that. I wish I knew her name. I’d shout it from the rooftops.

We are not familiar with the parks, and pretty much everything has changed since we went 8 years ago, so it took us a while to find It’s A Small World, where we were scheduled to meet our friends at 9:30.

Magic Kingdom 2016

JD, with his consolation candy

Miraculously enough, we were only a couple minutes late when we spotted our friends! Xavier ran over to us, and Joshua…..looked confused. It was hilarious. Joshua was silent, but his face seemed to be saying, “Um, yes, hello, who are you?” to Xavier. Of course, after a few minutes, Joshua and Caleb figured out what was going on, and they were so happy. Joshua actually turned to Caleb and said, “Caleb, pinch me. I don’t think I’m awake. I must be dreaming.”

Magic Kingdom 2016

Yes, it is indeed a small world after all.

We all rode 2 rides together, and then split up for the 3rd because not all of our Fastpasses were together.

We were nervous about JD’s ability to keep his Magic Band on his arm. See, the Magic Band is of great value at Disney. All your reservations are programmed in there. It can also identify a lost child. And as an adult, you can wire your credit card info on there so you don’t even have to carry around money. Magic bands open your hotel room, know your fast pass times, and contain your park admission ticket. They are a big deal.

So you can imagine my dismay when after ride #2 of day #1, I look down and realize that I have lost MY Magic Band. Well, of course I did, really. I’ve always had trouble with bracelets. Grooooaaaaan.

The boys headed off to use their Fast Pass with Alan. I headed back to the Haunted Mansion. If a cast member (Disney employee) finds a Magic Band, it’s kept at that ride for an hour. So I figured I had one hour to get that band back. I had it when I got on the Haunted Mansion ride, and it was gone afterwards, so that had to be it.

ugh. We had walked a long way. It was sunny. I was sweating. I missed turns, I turned back, but I eventually found my way back to Haunted Mansion, using my handy-dandy Disney app.

I asked each cast member I passed, “Have you seen a pink Magic Band?”

No.

I went all the way through the suddenly very long Haunted Mansion line. No band.

I was annoyed to have to ride the ride again, by myself, but I did it.

It wasn’t scary, but creepy skulls and ghosts aren’t my thing. “Why this ride, Lord?” I thought.

Call me crazy, but he answered me. I thought about my tendency to gloss over everything bad and pretend like the gross, evil, and unfortunate things in life don’t exist. That’s apathy, really. But these things do exist, and they must be faced.

I prayed for God to just please give me my band back and get me out of there.

At the very end of the ride, as I went through the exit corridor, I asked a young lady, and she said, “Hold on.”

Then she was gone all of two minutes and came back holding my magic band.

Thank you, Lord!

I’m happy to tell you that bad things come in threes, so that’s the last one. The rest of it went well:

Magic Kingdom 2016

Jungle Cruise

Magic Kingdom 2016

So excited to find this!

Magic Kingdom 2016 IMG_4643

 

Magic Kingdom 2016

I sat with my 2 middle children, who made it spin as fast as possible. I could have hurled.

Oh, the tea cups. What adult likes this ride? This was the only ride that made JD cry. IMG_3154 IMG_3156

 

Magic Kingdom 2016

Happy People

By lunch, JD reached full melt-down level. But Caleb and Dan were dying to ride these cars, so we split up here and met back at the restaurant. Lunch made all the difference too. When in doubt, feed the children!IMG_4644

Magic Kingdom 2016

I thought Zoe’s ears were adorable.

Magic Kingdom 2016

riding the People Mover

Magic Kingdom 2016

Country Bear Jamboree

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One of the best things that happened: It rained almost every day, just enough to cool things off. The heat was not nearly as bad as I feared it would be.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Dinner at Tony’s Town Square. JD slept through almost every single evening meal in his stroller.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Alan bought these ponchos for $1 a piece at Target from the camping section. We were thankful to have these!!

In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.

Amy is the real deal New England Patriots fan. She’s even from New England.

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Granted, we got off to a rough start, but by lunch I feel like we had things turned around in our favor.

It struck me during our vacation what a positive difference it made, sharing this trip with good friends. Our kids were braver about trying new things, and I think it helped Alan and me to be more relaxed and fun. People often say that Alan and I are laid back, which is a real head scratcher for me because the truth is we are tired, uptight people. We do like to have fun. It’s just that we’ve been so busy changing diapers, enforcing vegetable consumption, teaching reading skills, coaching memory work, cleaning up, and taming boys over the past 10 years that sometimes it feels like fun is a relative concept. 

Our friends, Amy and Sean, are in the parenting trenches just as we are, so they’re understanding. Plus, we have shared history. They’ve already accepted us for who we are. I’d like to put my finger on what it is that makes me like these friends so much. Because I do. I love their whole family, and Amy is one of my few closest friends. They are upbeat, and they are real at the same time. Amy is the kind of friend I can be myself with, and they are good about keeping in touch.

There is a certain quality you find in just a few friends in life, a quality that cannot be aptly described with words. All I know is to call them “kindred spirits” as Anne of Green Gables did, but it’s more than that. There are some people who can’t help but be the main characters in your life. It is a matter of both mutual respect, shared interests, and plain old convenience and timing.

But I think God’s hand is in it too. Sometimes, once I realize a friend is definitely more than a passing acquaintance, I stop and wonder, “What is it, God? What should I learn from them? What do they need that I might offer?” It’s usually both. It’s that whole iron-sharpening iron thing.

It was a refreshing visit, especially as we enter another phase of meeting new people and being “the new kids” yet again.  My heart starts to get tired of putting my best foot forward, and that is why I drag my family out on all these vacations. I have this need to remind myself where we’ve been, where we’re going, and who we are before we plunge in to building a new community for ourselves.

And I have to take a little time. I wish that it were everyday, but sometimes it isn’t. But never forget to take a little time to read God’s Word, the Holy Bible, and get down on your face, and pray for the courage and strength to tackle the next thing. It would  be beautiful for life to be like the ENDINGS of your favorite movies, full of pot-luck dinners, and breezy sun-lit paths. But instead, it’s more like an obstacle course, where your relay team keeps changing. God is the only constant.

Today I found this verse:

In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.  Psalm 81:7

In your distress, you called and I rescued you.

Yes!!  That was exactly it. This year and many times before!

It rang so strong and true with me that I wrote it down in 4 different places, one of which was where I copied the verse on my wrist in red ink pen. Alan said it looked disturbing. Sigh. I just wanted a place I could see it that wouldn’t wash off when I washed my hands. Being disturbing was not my intention.

But y’all!!! Sometimes life IS disturbing!!!

That is why we NEED friends! And vacations! And PRAYER!! And a little silence and rest. And upbeat people.

 

 

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