Monthly Archives: April 2013

I’ve been teaching a bit differently this week…

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We’ve had one of those springs with very few really nice days with no rain. It’s been cooler and wetter than usual it seems. So this week when I saw the weather forecast for sunshine and 80’s for Monday-Wednesday I just felt the urge to take full advantage of the moment. So…at my elementary I’ve been taking the kids outside for their music time instead of staying in our classroom. I’ve just let them play on the play ground. I don’t do it often…usually once or twice a year but it just felt like the right thing to do until Thursday when it rains and is cold again.

This is what I’ve noticed. Being outside on a beautiful day has got to be the healthiest thing for all of us. We smile more, we laugh more, we run around and get our heart pumping. I’ve enjoyed watching the kids swing and play tag and go down slides. It’s given me time to be with them and not think about behavior or about subject matter. I understand this is not the way an education is made but one or two days spent soaking up life instead of trying to cram in education has to be a good thing.

I’ve had time to look at children differently than I do in my room. The kids don’t know it. I’ve not acted strange or done anything out loud but I find myself walking around the playground praying for each one. Praying for God to guard their future and to help them make good decisions with their lives. I’ve prayed for girls who I can see are already going to be prone to looking for love in the wrong places. I’ve prayed for tough boys who already show signs of rebellion and wildness to come. I’ve prayed for kids who are wearing far too big of clothes and kids who aren’t clean and kids who are obviously rich, white and could easily live their lives based on everything on the outside rather than focusing on what matters most.

I’ve looked into the eyes of children this week and tried to see them as eternal creatures that are made in the image of God.

In my normal classroom life I rarely get that kind of slowed time to focus in on prayer. It takes everything I am to just teach and keep the class behaved most days. So it’s been very refreshing for me.

Especially as I get ready to leave the classroom.

I wonder what hardships these kids will face. What struggles they’ll run into. What kinds of choices they’ll make. This is what I’ve decided…if I could just show up once a week on the play ground and walk around and smile and pray in my mind for these kids I think it would be a worthwhile thing to do. Skip the teaching. Skip the classroom management and the programs I have to put on…just walk around with them on the play ground, them playing and enjoying the outdoors and me praying…I could do that :).

It’s made me think more about my “ideal life” and realize…I want to learn to pray for people I don’t know, specifically my city. My church is all about loving our city and serving our city so these are not original thoughts…but me actually wanting to pray and put it into my schedule, a time and place to pray weekly is an important step for me.

I haven’t decided where I’ll show up for that time. Maybe just somewhere downtown. Maybe a park. Maybe a restaurant. Maybe I’ll just walk random streets. My kids suggested the Lincoln/Douglas statue area downtown. I’m not sure what might happen if I pray. I might never see a single thing from it.  But I think that it’s something I want to be more about.

Prayer was Paul’s main ministry in the bible. That thought still stuns me. I want prayer to become a larger part of my ministry.

I’m not going to set up a program or try to advertise or cause a scene. But I do want to regularly show up and pray for whatever God brings to my mind and just trust that God will do something with those prayers.

Already this week, I’ve been wrestling in prayer over my own two girls. Praying for their college/future choices. Praying for them to have dreams and imaginations led by God. Already…in just a couple of days I’m amazed at what God is bringing to the light.

I have a feeling maybe the same kind of thing could happen in my city. That’s my desire. For everything to be brought to the light. For healing to take place. For those who feel unloved to feel loved. For those who are hungry and without shelter to be taken care of. For those who are broken to be restored. For those who are downhearted to be encouraged. For those who are overwhelmed and not sure where to turn next to find peace.

I’m a prayer struggler. I admit it. I don’t understand how prayer works…but I think that my part is just praying anyway. Jesus did it…surely if He needed to than I do too.

My first few days of sabbatical

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For awhile now I’ve wondered what I would do on the first few days of sabbatical. I knew the first few days would feel like liquid gold after the waiting and counting down. I wondered if I would just take it easy…if I would sleep in, read a book, who knows?

So…I found it ironic last night when all of a sudden my church needed someone to go to a church conference event literally the first three days of my sabbatical. No one else seemed to be available. It was down to the wire. I was available. I’m not a meeting person though…or at least I keep telling myself that. But last night I found myself saying…”I’ll go”.

I realize this is no comparison to a missionary heading out to the other side of the world 🙂

But it did hit me kind of funny that for my first couple of days of my sabbatical I will be at a church conference, attending meetings. It’ll be good. I know it will be. And my girls get to go with me.

I’m really trying to set up boundaries on my time and schedule. Trying to say no more. Trying to back out of stuff that I don’t need to be doing. And in the process I have this thrown in my email and sense that “hey Ruth…you could go…in fact why don’t you just volunteer”.

Ok.

So…after all of this counting down. The first few days I will be at a church conference. Not at home sleeping in, or reading a book, or cooking some delightful meal. I will be on a college campus, sleeping in a dorm room eating probably cafeteria food and attending meetings.

So be it Lord.

I have a feeling that often on this sabbatical my desire to grab time for myself will be something that I must let go. All is well. We can’t hold onto anything too tightly.

Who knows what God might have in store for me and my girls there. These are the kind of events as a teenager where I often felt called/stirred to make a deeper commitment to Christ. I’m open and excited about my girls being able to experience that kind of thing too. They don’t really have the church camp tradition like I did as a child and teenager. It’s a good one.

wrestling in prayer

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Yesterday my pastor spoke about Paul, specifically the scripture used was from Colossians. He spoke about Paul’s main work, his main ministry being the work of wrestling in prayer for the Christians in Colosse…people he had never even met before.

I sat there in my seat and thought…ok I think I can stop on that point (There were two other points, which were equally good:). 

I pray. I do.

If we were in a gathering and I was called on to pray it wouldn’t even phase me the way it seems to bother a lot of people to pray out loud. If a prayer time is started and people area just asked to pray and there is awkward silence…I almost always will end up praying. It comes fairly natural. Not because I’m such a prayer warrior, but more because I’ve been around prayer my entire life. It feels incredibly natural to me.

I don’t feel like I have to say big words or impress anybody…I just talk like I normally would.

During my daily life…I talk with God, think about God, read about God, and try to listen to God pretty much all day long in various forms. 

But still…the idea of ‘wrestling’ in prayer for somebody…especially somebody I’ve never even met…wow that’s a stretch. And to consider that my main work. Wow…I’m still challenged by that thought today.

I love my children. More than life itself. I have wrestled a few times on their behalf in prayer…but regularly…no.

This morning I read in my devotions about Elijah wrestling in prayer for rain to come and how he sent his servant out seven times to see if it was coming or not and how the seventh time there was a cloud the size of a man’s fist and how symbolic this was. Elijah had pretty much raised his fist in prayer to call down rain. He didn’t give up. Even when he saw nothing over and over. 

I don’t have that kind of persistence in prayer. I’m not even going to pretend I do. 

I hear of needs…pray and then they seem to slip from my mind until the next time needs are mentioned again. I don’t feel like I’m very good at hanging on to the hem of Jesus garment. 

Needs out of sight…become needs out of mind for me. I’m not proud of this. But I see it in myself.

At my church we are asked to be praying for our city, our neighborhood…I go in waves. I pray and then my week hits and I forget all about it just trying to stay swimming myself. 

The concept of prayer being my ‘main work’ is just foreign to me.

Admittedly, after my husband died…I just didn’t know what to do with prayer anymore. I saw it as a comfort. A way of expressing myself. A way of submitting to God…but I grew less sure about it really changing anything. I became quite convinced in fact that God already had a plan and was going to do it anyway so the main deal with prayer for me became just lining myself up with His plan. 

I knew this wasn’t how other Christians felt. And I still went through the motions of doing all of the prayer stuff at church. But this is how I felt. I felt like suddenly I had no idea what to ask God for. If He didn’t see sparing a 36 year old husband and father from cancer than surely I had no clue. I didn’t stop talking to God or trying to listen. I just stopped asking and thinking I knew what was best. I tried to just trust and accept and have faith that God was working on my behalf. He was and I have.

But yesterday I was challenged to rethink some of my views on prayer. My kids are reaching those years when they are going to be making major decisions soon. Colleges, Careers, Spouses, Financial stuff, etc. and I feel within me that I need to be wrestling in prayer for them. So I’m trying. At bed time, before going to sleep I laid there last night and prayed over their coming choices and dreams and plans. I wrestled for God’s best in their lives. And I think this is something that I need to do continually. 

How Paul wrestled for people in prayer that he had never even met still astounds me. I care about people that I haven’t met…but rarely does that translate to wrestling on their behalf in prayer. Maybe this is something that I need to begin and add to my ‘ideal life’.

Wrestling suggests two sides. Not just me pouring out requests to God but forcefully, aggressively demanding and working to win. Maybe that seems offensive when you think about prayer and about God. But I know I’ve done this kind of prayer before. I’m not saying it’s pretty or the kind of prayer you would necessarily pray in a large setting out loud…but if we really believe that prayer works and changes things and makes a difference then maybe this is the kind of prayer we should be more about. That’s what I’m turning over in my mind on this Monday.

Why would God want us to wrestle with Him in prayer? Why would that be necessary or even good for us? How does that concept line up with what you know about in prayer in your own life…what you’ve experienced? I have no answers to these questions…but would love to read your insights.