A Back-to-School Prayer

Summer break is over. School is once again in session. All across the country, students are heading back to class.

Free printable Back-to-School prayer from lovinglifeathome.com

[photo source]

As our children embark upon this new academic year, in addition to making sure they are stocked up on new socks and fresh school supplies, we should also keep them well covered in prayer.

The following C-L-A-S-S acrostic can help. It provides a different prayer emphasis for every day of the school week:

C is for COMPANIONS

Pray for your children’s classmates. The friends they choose will make a lasting impact on their lives and education. Pray they pick their companions wisely.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20

L is for LEARNING

Ask God to instill in your children a true love for learning. Pray that they will value their education and strive to do well in their studies.

“Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge…. Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding.”
– Proverbs 23:12, 23

A is for AUTHORITIES

Remember your children’s teachers, coaches, counselors, and school administrators. Pray that the students would honor those in authority with attentiveness and respect, and that the overseers would show themselves worthy of the trust we’ve placed in them.

“I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all …those in authority, so that we may lead quiet and tranquil lives….” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2

S is for SAFTEY

Pray that the Lord would protect your children and keep them safe from anyone or anything that would seek to do them harm.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” – Matthew 6:13

S is for SELF-WORTH

Ask God to give your children an accurate understanding of their infinite value to Him. Pray that they would be strong in character, would walk in integrity, and would not compromise core principles to gain the acceptance of peers.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

I believe in the power of prayer. Don’t you?

If so, you’ll want to tuck this one inside your Bible and refer to it again:

Free printable prayer guides: Back-to-School,  Marriage Prayers, Head-to-Toe Prayers for Husbands, Wives, and Children, much more , from lovinglifeathome.com

Our students need prayer — not just for the opening week of school, but all year long.


This prayer was first published in a weekly column that I write for the Tyler Morning Telegraph called Family Matters.”




How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives

For the Mother of a Child in the Military

Our son David just finished a six-week officer training program at Fort Sam Houston, and we drove down to San Antonio last weekend for his graduation.

David's BOLC Graduation

My husband was stationed on this same base the year Isaac (far left) was born.

Seeing all those young men and women in uniform, reciting the Soldier’s Creed and singing the Army Anthem, really stirred this mother’s heart.

David's Platoon

David’s platoon at Fort Sam Houston — our boy is the one on the steps by the driver’s seat.

It also called to mind the following poem by Edgar Albert Guest. If you have a child in any branch of the military, I imagine these words will resonate with you, as well:

The Boy Enlists

by Edgar Albert Guest

His mother’s eyes are saddened, and her cheeks are stained with tears,
And I’m facing now the struggle that I’ve dreaded through the years;
For the boy that was our baby has been changed into a man.
He’s enlisted in the army as a true American.

He held her for a moment in his arms before he spoke,
And I watched him as he kissed her, and it seemed to me I’d choke,
For I knew just what was coming, and I knew just what he’d done!
‘Another little mother had a soldier for a son.

When we’d pulled ourselves together, and the first quick tears had dried,
We could see his eyes were blazing with the fire of manly pride;
We could see his head was higher than it ever was before,
For we had a man to cherish, and our baby was no more.

Oh, I don’t know how to say it! With the sorrow comes the joy
That there isn’t any coward in the make-up of our boy.
And with pride our hearts are swelling, though with grief they’re also hit,
For the boy that was our baby has stepped forth to do his bit.

EMT MD was just the role he was assigned for training exercises. David's really a dentist.

EMT MD was just the role he was assigned for training exercises. David’s really a dentist.

Isn’t that a terrific poem? To download a printable copy of “The Boy Enlists” (taken from God Bless America, my newest devotional journal), just click on the image below:

Free Printable Version of Edgar Albert Guest's wonderful poem, "The Boy Enlists"

Click on image to print.

Our soldiers need our support. If you know one — and especially if you are the parent of one — remember to thank them for their service!




How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives

Prayer for a Happy Marriage {free printable}

Wedding season is definitely upon us. Last weekend, we hosted our fifth wedding shower since March. It seems that every week, another of my friends’ children are announcing an engagement.

Counting Down the Days

With all those nuptials going on, I thought it would be fitting to publish a special prayer for marriage.  

Prayer has played a huge part in keeping our relationship happy and secure, and we know it can do the same for yours. 

Whether you are newly married or have been with your spouse for decades, we pray your marriage will likewise be long and joyous. 

Prayer for a Happy Marriage:

Lord, we ask You to bless this couple & make them…

Beautiful—inside & out (1 Pet. 3:4)
Respectful & loving toward one another (Eph. 5:33)
Industrious & hardworking (1 Cor. 15:58)
Devoted to one another fully (Rom. 12:10)
Encouraging both in word & in deed (1 Thess. 5:11)

& we pray, O God, that You would help them to be…

Gentle & patient toward one another (Eph. 4:2)
Righteous & steadfast in their integrity (Prov. 20:7)
One—physically, spiritually, & emotionally (Matt. 19:6)
Obedient to Your Word (Ecc. 12:13)
Mature in their understanding (1 Cor. 14:20)

If praying for another’s marriage is powerful, then praying for your own is more powerful still. And to enjoy the greatest benefits of prayer with regard to your marriage, carve out time daily to pray together with your spouse. There is no surer way to build a love that lasts than to enlist the help of the King of kings and Lord of lords whose lovingkindness endures forever. 




How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives

How to Date a Husband Who’d Rather Stay Home

Tips for Dating a Husband who'd Rather Just Stay Home

Below is a follow-up question I received in reference to the Date Night post I published a few months back. This writer raises a good point! Here’s the whole scoop, along with my response:

QUESTION:

I really love this [Date Night] post! I’ve been reading your blog for a few days now and using your “praying from head to toe” printables daily. They’re really helping change my attitude towards my husband in a good way!

I do have a question about the planning it yourself aspect — my husband REALLY doesn’t want to go out and has told me so. So what if I take the initiative [to plan a nice date], and then he gets upset at me for “forcing the issue”? I could see it going either way.

ANSWER:

I understand your concerns and agree: There is a big difference between planning a date for a husband who is willing but busy, and forcing the matter with a husband who has made it clear he prefers not to go out under any circumstances.

Some husbands are extremely introverted and do not enjoy being in a crowd. Others are stressed by financial burdens, and don’t see how they can find money for expensive dates on a regular basis. Still others are just tired after their long day at work and would rather relax at home.

If something like that is at work in your marriage, I suggest you discuss with your husband some acceptable alternatives.

  • If he doesn’t like crowds, pick something isolated.
  • If he’s concerned about spending money, pick something cheap.
  • If he’d rather stay at home, find something you can do together there that will draw you closer together.

Dates do not have to mean candlelit dinners or blockbuster movies. Consider his interests. Would he like to go fishing, just the two of you? Does he like cars? Maybe you could go to a local showroom and take a test drive. Gardening? Pull weeds together and visit while you do. Monday night football? Learn the rules of the game, make a big bucket of popcorn, and sit on the couch beside him cheering on his favorite team. You get the idea. Adapt yourself to him, and learn to take enjoyment in the things that interest him.

Want more ideas for date night at home? Here are a fifteen of our favorites:

  1. Cook a meal together.
  2. Throw something on the grill for a casual picnic on your patio or go gourmet and serve it on fine china with fresh flowers and crystal stemware.

  3. Read a book together.
  4. Take turns reading aloud from the same book or sit side-by-side reading different books and discussing the best parts.

  5. Take a walk together.
  6. Amble around the block, through the gardens, or just to the mailbox and back. Hold hands and enjoy each other’s company.

  7. Play a game together.
  8. Bananagrams, Chess, Scrabble, and Stratego are a few of our favorites and none of them need more than two players.

  9. Watch a documentary together.
  10. Pick a topic that interests you both and learn more about it. Or if documentaries aren’t your thing, try a foreign film with subtitles.

  11. Set some goals together.
  12. Where would you like to find yourself in twelve months? Five years? Ten years? What should you do now to make those dreams a reality?

  13. Do a project together.
  14. Whether it’s changing the oil in your car, cleaning out the garage, or taping off a room and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint, find a task that needs to be done and tackle it as a team.

  15. Get some exercise together.
  16. Try a new workout video or see how many jumping jacks and sit-ups you can do. You can hold his feet and count for him, then trade places and let him do the same for you.

  17. Reminisce over old times together.
  18. Break out the photos albums, scrapbooks, or family movies and go through them page by page and frame by frame. Which memories are your favorites? Which do you hope to never go through again?

  19. Take a bath together.
  20. A long soak in a tub of warm water (bubbles optional) is very relaxing and provides a great opportunity for talking about your day. If you don’t have a bathtub big enough for two, try taking a hot shower together.

  21. Gaze at the stars together.
  22. Head outdoors once the sun goes down and admire the full moon or watch for shooting stars. Sit on the porch steps, break out the lawn chairs, or relax in a hammock and soak in the sights and sounds of the evening. If you have access to a good telescope, so much the better.

  23. Plan a vacation together.
  24. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Get out a map and chart a course. Google your destination and discuss what kind of activities you’d do once you got there. Planning a trip is half the fun of going, so enjoy this process, even if it’s unlikely you’ll actually take it anytime soon.

  25. Say your prayers together.
  26. Did you know that couples who pray regularly together have less than a 1% incidence of divorce? If you and your spouse have not already made it a habit to pray together, start now — date night or no.

  27. Do something creative together.
  28. Paint some pictures. Sculpt with clay. Compose a song. Take up whittling. Write something from the heart, then trade what you’ve written and edit each other’s work. Sign up for an online class and learn a new craft together.

  29. Get naked together.
  30. Throw the lock on the bedroom door and do what married couples should do — enjoy that one-flesh union God so marvelously designed, every chance you get!

As you read through this list of suggestions, you will see that together is the optimal word in all of them. Our lives are full of mundane activities that can be magically transformed into memorable dates when we do them alongside the one we love. The trick is to keep your eyes open and look for opportunities to cultivate that sense of togetherness and belonging.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but is designed to get you thinking in the right direction. What activities would you add for spending time with a husband who doesn’t like to “go out”?




How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives

Griefs and Sorrows

Today is Father’s Day. Normally, I would mark the occasion with a post about my father or my husband and what a wonderful job they’ve both done in the fatherhood department, or perhaps a piece about the vital role fathers in general play in the lives of their children.

In light of all the horrific news stories we’ve seen played out in the past week, however, I decided to take a different tack this year and share an essay my daughter wrote, instead. I love her thoughts on these matters, and (especially) her gentle reminder of our Father’s immeasurable love for us.

Griefs and Sorrows -- a Christian's perspective on current tragic events

Death and Freedom

A week ago we got news of the horrific tragedy in Orlando, and my heart wept for the 49 souls lost that day, for the family and friends they left behind, for all my loved ones in the Muslim and LGBTQ communities, and for humanity in general.

And then news of another tragedy in Orlando came, and it felt a little closer to home this time, because the boy who died was just a kid — not much older than my little nephew, not much younger than my baby sister. And my heart wept for him and the fear he must have felt in those last moments, and my heart wept for his parents whose grief is unspeakable. God, I pray peace over them: bring them relief from this living nightmare.

And then another death, this time a friend’s brother. I never had the chance to meet him, but his sister is a kindred spirit and constant source of encouragement and inspiration for me. I know she loved him and looked up to him, just like I love and look up to my older brother, imperfect as he may be. My heart breaks for my friend and for her family and for all who knew and loved her brother. I pray that he, too, has peace.

And then just tonight I received word that one of my former faculty members from dental school passed away suddenly. Dr. Hill. This man was well-loved by everyone who worked with him. He was known for treating the students in his group to an occasional dinner out, and I still remember being invited to one of those dinners. I was new in clinic and wasn’t even in his group, but was still included because that’s the kind of person he was: approachable and generous, with a great sense of humor. I saw him just last month, and he was fine. Now he is gone.

I’m sick of it. Can I say that? I’m just so sick and tired of it. Of all this death and tragedy. I’m sick of it striking senselessly and indiscriminately. And I’m sick of people saying that it’s God doing this. As if God delights in the mass murder of human beings by a lunatic with an assault rifle. As if a baby being dragged off by an alligator is part of His great plan. As if He is the mastermind behind every suicide or car crash or cancer diagnosis.

I am no theologian, but I am certain that God does not delight in these things.

The night that the shooting took place, one of the victims, Eddie Justice, texted his mother from the club, telling her he loved her, telling her he knew he was about to die.

I want you to think on this. I want you, my conservative Christian readers, to think on this.
I want you to consider the frantic powerlessness Eddie’s mother felt as she texted her son over and over, begging him to reply, to tell her that he was okay. I want you to consider the overwhelming grief she felt when she realized her son was dead.

Do you think for a second that the fear and desperation and pain she felt was any less than what Melissa & Matt Graves felt as they watched their 2-year-old baby boy being dragged away by an alligator?

I can promise you it was not.

Because for a parent who loves their child with all their heart, it does not matter if that child is 2 years old or 30 years old — they are still your baby. And it doesn’t matter if they are attacked and killed by a deranged psychopath in the bathroom of a gay dance club or attacked and killed by a rogue alligator at a family theme park — their death is going to tear your heart out.

And to take this a step further, I need you to realize something about God that we tend to forget in times like this: it is not possible for us to out-love or out-grieve God.

Even the immense depth of love that a parent has for their child is just a dim reflection of the love God has for us.

And even the immense depth of grief that a parent has over their child’s death is a dim reflection of the grief God experiences over a soul that is lost.

He knew us by heart before we existed in the world, and our names are written in the scars on His hands.

So at times like this when evil rises and tragedy falls, remember that God does not delight in evil or in tragedy. He desires for these things to be done away with forever, and one day they will be. But in the meantime, He waits patiently for us to turn from our sin and back to Him.

We as humans have the freedom to make choices; some choose to exercise that freedom by descending further and further into darkness and chaos until the lines between right and wrong are so blurred that walking into a club and murdering 49 people seems “right” to them just as much as walking into an abortion clinic to terminate a pregnancy seems “right” to a teenage girl who isn’t ready to be responsible for another human being.

This world is broken, but we cannot ascribe its brokenness to God. All He did was permit us to govern ourselves, just as we wanted. We wanted autonomy, we wanted freedom, and He gave it to us.

And freedom has a price, right? A price set by some humans and paid by others.

One day we may experience a greater, truer freedom — a freedom not just from external sources of suffering and pain, but from our own selfishness and stubbornness and stupidity, from our own longing for darkness and our own tendency to self-destruct.

But that freedom comes at a much greater price.

And yet, to us, it is free.


The above post was written by my daughter Bethany and first appeared on her blog, Broken Mosaics, on June 19, 2016.




How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives

Today Is “Kiss Your Mate” Day — So Get after It!

It's Kiss Your Mate Day!

There was a song that was popular when I was in high school, and for thirty years, I’ve thought they were singing, “Your Kiss is on My Lips.” It wasn’t until recently that I learned the words of that song actually read: “Your kiss is on my list... of the best things in life.” And you know what? I like those words even better!

The lyrics go on to say: “Because your kiss (your kiss) I can’t resist/ Because your kiss is what I miss when I turn out the light.”

Shouldn’t that be my goal as a wife? To make a habit of kissing my husband so often and so passionately that he would consider my kiss one of the best things in life? To routinely give him the kind of soft, sweet, sensual kisses that he finds irresistible? To make our nights together at home so memorable that he really misses me whenever we’re apart?

I once read about an interesting study conducted in Germany. Researchers found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than men who weren’t kissed. A simple farewell kiss was the one consistent factor that set high achievers apart from the rest. Can you imagine that?

The fact is, success and respect often go hand-in-hand, so if you want to communicate respect for your husband, be sure to send him off right, and don’t forget to greet him with a kiss when he returns home, for good measure.

In addition to improving your husband’s earning potential, kissing offers many powerful health incentives — and these hold true for both participants:

  • Kissing prevents cavities and tooth decay by increasing saliva production, which in turn helps to wash away plaque.
  • Kissing reduces stress and anxiety by helping to lower blood pressure and relieve tension.
  • Kissing strengthens health and immunity by triggering the release of oxytocin and many other disease fighting chemicals into the bloodstream.
  • Kissing counteracts the signs of aging by firming up facial muscles, plumping lips, and precipitating a rosier, healthier complexion.
  • Kissing improves cardiovascular health by raising your heart rate (at least potentially) and providing total body conditioning.
  • Kissing boosts confidence and self-esteem by improving your state of mind, balancing your mood, and raising your happiness level.

And if all that is not reason enough to smooch your spouse, there is also this: Kissing fulfills a Biblical injunction. In 2 Corinthians 13:12, we are told very plainly to “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

With so many benefits riding on it, you’ll want to pucker up at every opportunity (not just on April 28 for “Kiss Your Mate” Day)!

Tips for incorporating more kissing into your marriage:

  • Get up early enough to brush your teeth and swish a little mouthwash before your husband leaves for work, so you’ll be ready to offer him a proper goodbye kiss at the door.
  • Perhaps you are the one who’s leaving home and returning later. It’s still a great practice to seek him out before you go, tell him you’re leaving and plant one on him.
  • As one of my readers suggests, don’t just limit your kissing to goodbyes. “Couples should also kiss each other hello. And goodnight. And OFTEN! Kissing is fun!”

Of course, you may find that kissing your spouse is like eating Doritos — you can’t stop with just one. That’s okay, too. If kissing leads to more intimate expressions of affection, so much the better. You’ll reap even more benefits when you make that a priority in marriage, as well. 🙂


Note: This post has been adapted from the chapter “Kiss Him Goodbye” in my award-winning book, 25 Ways to Communicate Respect to Your Husband.




How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives

That Time I Had a Baby at 45

Our family has a lot to celebrate this week: Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s birthday. Today is my birthday. Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. And the following day marks the 30th anniversary of the day we met, which also happens to be “Lovers Day” — isn’t that fitting?

I’ve taken my own aging and my husband’s advancing years in stride. Turning 50 didn’t faze me last year, and 51 doesn’t seem like a big deal, either (although I have noticed my bones creaking a lot more now than they did a decade ago).

The thing that’s been hardest to accept is the idea that this sweet little baby could be six years old already:

That Time I Had a Baby at 45

She’s growing up so fast! She can read. She can ride a bike without training wheels. She even lost her first tooth yesterday!

But the fact that there are no younger siblings trailing in her wake makes the bittersweetness of each new milestone particularly poignant. That’s why I made it one of my New Year’s resolutions this year to hold Abigail in my lap at least once every day: I know those days of cuddling will end far sooner than I’m ready to say goodbye to them.

Incidentally, Abby told me that one of her New Year’s resolutions was to sit in my lap at least once every day — so it’s been working out beautifully so far. We’ve only missed one day in four months — March 1. (That was election day for the Texas state primaries, and I worked the polls all day, personally checking in and credentialing one thousand, one hundred fifteen voters in the span of 12 hours. It meant leaving the house before Abby woke up and returning after she’d gone to bed, so no lap time that day. 🙁 )

Abigail was born the day before I turned 45. I had my first child at 23, my second 16 months later, and another every couple of years after that for two decades. One of the best benefits of big-family living is that I haven’t had to give up the joys of one stage to embrace the pleasures of the next.

I’ve been able to nurse babies and cuddle toddlers and read with grade schoolers and nurture adolescents and teach teens to drive and attend graduations and converse with adult children and witness marriages and welcome grandchildren — all at the same time! That’s been absolutely amazing as long as it’s lasted.

Barbara Kingsolver Quote -- So true!!

But now that I’ve (most likely) reached the end of those precious childbirthing years, I’m more acutely aware than ever, as my little ones pass milestone after milestone, that some of my favorite aspects of motherhood are being left behind in the transition. I don’t want to take any of these moments for granted, which is probably why the following poem so resonates with me at this stage of my life:

The Last Time

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
You will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you had freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feeding and burping,
Whining and fighting,
Naps, or lack of naps. It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget…
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed your baby
for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.

One day you will carry them on your hip,
then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake for this.
One afternoon you will sing “The Wheels on the Bus”
and do all the actions,
Then you’ll never sing that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
Then the next day, they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your
last dirty face.
They will one day run to you with arms raised,
for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times, and even then,
It will take you a while to realise.

So while you are living in these times,
Remember there are only so many of them and
When they are gone,
You will yearn for just one more day of them…
For one last time.

Author unknown

If your baby is still a baby, savor the sweet moments while you can. If your youngest has grown up faster than you ever imagined possible, then you can undoubtedly relate to this poem as much as I do. (I don’t know who wrote it. If you do, please share in the comment section below.)

Of course, there’s no stopping the march of time — and I wouldn’t want to, even if I could. It is vitally important that we let our children grow up, that we encourage and facilitate their maturity and independence, and that we — little by little — learn to let go.

But as long as my little girl still wants to crawl into my lap to snuggle, I’m gonna let her do just that!




How Do I Love Thee? A Devotional Journal for Wives