Archive | April 2012

Our Starting Point

Prayer Works | Loving Life at Home“Prayer works. Prayer is work. Prayer leads to work.” This is a quote I copied, without attribution, into the back of my Bible some thirty-plus years ago.

I know that the operative word here is prayer, but I sometimes act as if the most important word were work.

Have you ever been guilty of that?

When your list of pressing chores is especially long, are you inclined to spend more time on your knees — or less? Do you view prayer as leisurely pastime or a life-preserving necessity?

James 5:16 tells us, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Prayer should be so much more than a brief benediction we utter before setting our shoulder to the wheel.

Prayer works. Prayer itself is work. And prayer has the power to make all the work that follows more focused and productive.

Martin Luther understood this fact, which is why he once wrote, “I have so much to do today, I must spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Whether intuitively or experientially, Luther knew that the longer his “to do” list, the more desperately he needed the wisdom, blessing, and empowering of God.

Shouldn’t prayer be our starting point, as well?

My “Do It Now” List

My "Do It Now" List | Loving Life at HomeAs important as it is to remember that life doesn’t end when our last child leaves home, it is even more imperative for us to recognize that that time will arrive much sooner than we think.

Which is why, on the back of my “Empty Nest List”, I keep a “Do It Now List” — for all those fleeting pleasures I want to enjoy to the fullest while I still have the opportunity to do so:

- Rocking my babies
- Hugging my toddlers
- Encouraging my teens
- Loving my husband
- Praying with my family
- Taking bike rides
- Serving delicious meals
- Reading classics aloud
- Calling my mother
- Counting my blessings

It is often the small things that mean the most to our little ones — homemade cookies fresh from the oven, a love note tucked under their pillow, a pat on the back for a job well done, a smile when they enter the room. We must be intentional about how we invest our short time together; otherwise, we will find it “slipping through our fingers.” And once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back.

Our Daily Lifeline

"If you only pray when you're in trouble, you're in trouble." | Loving Life at HomeAs fitting and appropriate as it is to call upon God from the foxhole, prayer should really be our first and natural response in all of life’s circumstances.

  • When awed by His works, we should praise Him.
  • When struck by His greatness, we should worship Him.
  • When encumbered by doubts, we should trust in Him.
  • When ensnared by sin, we should confess to Him.
  • When weary and careworn, we should lean on Him.
  • When wisdom is needed, we should ask of Him.
  • When brimming with joy, we should sing to Him.
  • When weighed down with grief, we should cling to Him.
  • When honored, we should magnify Him.
  • When humbled, we should hide in Him.
  • When burdened for the lost — as we all need to be — we should plead for His unfailing mercy.
  • When blessed beyond measure — as each of us are — we should thank Him for His unmerited grace.

An attitude of constant prayer is a distinguishing mark of the mature Christian, which is why we are commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). I don’t know who said it, but it is definitely true: “If you only pray when you’re in trouble, you’re in trouble.”

My Empty Nest List

My Empty Nest List | Loving Life At HomeI distinctly remember crying when my firstborn was only four days old, because our time together was ticking by so fast. And sure enough, it seems like I barely blinked before he was grown and gone, with a wife and four sons of his own.

Although I still had nine little chicks in my nest when that first one fledged and flew away (and have added a couple more hatchlings since), I realized with a wince that, one by one, his siblings would soon follow. The next two are perched on the edge even now and will have flown off for good by late spring.

It’s a bittersweet time for mama bird. I’m proud and excited to see them go, so full of promise and potential, yet I’m painfully aware that our home will never be the same without them.

It’s hard to let go, and I don’t anticipate the process getting any easier. So several years ago, I began to compile what I call my empty nest list.

Some of the items on the list are things I enjoyed in earlier seasons of my life and would like to revisit:

  • backpacking Europe
  • singing with the symphony
  • teaching calculus
  • painting porcelain

Some activities are things I’ve never tried but am intrigued by:

  • glass blowing
  • salsa dancing
  • mountain climbing
  • scuba diving

Some are opportunities to minister in ways that my current responsibilities don’t allow:

  • rocking babies in Russian orphanages
  • counseling women through Crisis Pregnancy Centers
  • feeding the hungry in Third World countries
  • accompanying my husband on medical mission trips

Some entail expanding my skills in current areas of interest:

  • writing and publishing prolifically
  • memorizing large portions of scripture
  • learning to play a few beloved classics on the piano
  • becoming fluent in Spanish, German, French, and Chinese

Some involve traveling to places I’ve never been before:

  • Beijing
  • Costa Rica
  • Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
  • The Moon

My original list is impossibly long, with more on it than one could hope to squeeze into a single lifetime. Some of the ideas may lose their charm long before I have time to devote to them, but that is okay. It was never meant to be a bucket list of exploits to check off before I die.

Rather, it was intended to serve as a reminder that life doesn’t stop when your last child leaves the nest. All sorts of new and exciting possibilities await, even after this precious, fleeting season of child-rearing comes to its inevitable end.

In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, we “don’t cry because it’s over, [we] smile because it happened.”

And then we do the next thing. What will yours be?