Category Archives: Faith

9 ways to pray creatively with your child

Our family is beginning a 40-day prayer focus for our country, Malaysia. This is a special prayer time that is happening nationwide.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity and thought I would share some of the things we can do, in order to pray creatively and meaningfully.

1) Use our bodies.

Day 1 of the Prayer Focus: Abide in the Vine: Jesus is the True Vine.

We read what “Abide in Me” means:

“When branches are disconnected from the vine, they lose their source of nutrients. They are unable to bear fruit, and will wither up and die. We have the same relationship with God, as the branches have with the vine. Jesus said that He is the True Vine, and we are the branches. When we are cut off from God, or don’t take the time to make sure that we are always connected to Him in prayer and worship, our spiritual health is affected – just as the physical health of the branches is affected when it is cut off from its source of food, that is, the vine.” (Prayer Guide

I love this image of the True Vine and the branches. It reminds me of how important my own walk with God is, if I am to grow personally and have a successful impact in all the areas of my life – as an individual, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a member of society, a citizen of my country.

As we reflected on this together, I said, “Imagine my arm is the Jesus, True Vine.” (I held up my left arm.) “What if Mama, the branch, is connected to Jesus (I put my right arm to my left arm) but you (children) are not? Will you be able to grow?”

“Each of us must be connected to Jesus, in order to grow. It doesn’t help me if someone else is connected to Jesus, but I am not.”

So here we are, each one, connecting ourselves, our branches to Jesus.

branches

2) Use silence and personal reflection.

“If we want to stay connected to Jesus the True Vine, we must obey Him, no matter what the cost. What are some areas of your life in which you know you are not obedient to God?” (Prayer Guide)

I encouraged the children. “Let’s spend one minute in silence. Think about one part of your life you haven’t been obedient with.”

We did that.

3) Share openly. Begin with yourself.

After our one minute of silence, I encouraged everyone to share, beginning with myself.

“Today, I was upset at Papa over something I felt he should have done, but didn’t do. It doesn’t matter whether I was right, or if he was right. The point is, that in my anger I said harsh and rude things to him. That was wrong of me.”

One of the children said, “I need to stop glaring and showing a bad face at the others when I’m angry.”

It was good to confess our wrongs before each other. Children need to hear us parents admit where we’ve gone wrong, not just once but as often as is necessary, so that they too can learn how to deal with strong emotions and become willing to acknowledge their own faults.

4) Discuss a plan of action, so you can move practically beyond prayer.

Then we talked about the plans we had, to try avoiding making the same mistake again.

I said, “When I’m angry at Papa, I think I should keep my mouth shut for an hour to give myself time to cool down.”

Puppy interjected. “You need AN HOUR to cool down??”

(Urrghhhhhh.)

“Yes, sometimes it takes that long! Or longer, I’m afraid. But we should not brood in anger for too long. We need to deal with it before it gets worse.”

“I’ll speak to Papa after I’ve cooled down a bit. Because if I speak when I’m angry, I’m sure to say hurtful things. If you hear me starting to speak when I’m angry, you can remind me of my plan to keep quiet and cool down first.”

I think encouraging accountability is important.

The child who had the issue of glaring said, “Next time I feel like glaring, I’ll look away. So the person won’t be hurt by my looks.”

We agreed we would remind each other of our plans in our necessary moments.

5) Use maps and flags.

We were going to pray for Malaysia, beginning with the state of Selangor.

I had printed out and laminated (for durability) a map of Malaysia that I found online. I chose a map that wasn’t too cluttered with details, which showed the names of the various states and their capitals.

map of malaysia

I had also printed out and laminated the flags of the various states. I used ring holders to hold them in place, so we could flip them easily.

flag of selangor

I asked the children to look for the state of Selangor on the map of Malaysia. We also looked at the neighbouring states and I asked them to check in which state their grandmother and other relatives lived in, and where their favourite holiday spots (Cameron Highlands, Port Dickson) were.

6) Use the Internet.

We were also going to pray for the Menteri Besar of Selangor. I got out my phone and we looked online for his name and his photo.

There is nothing like putting a name and face to someone’s title.

Puppy wrote his name down, and we prayed for him, by name.

7) Encourage questions. Be prepared to elaborate on facts so everyone can pray more intelligently.

One of the prayer items was that the Orang Asli children would have equal opportunity to receive education. Puppy asked what that meant, “because I need to know what’s happening otherwise I wouldn’t know what to ask God for.”

I’m glad that girl was thinking.

I explained about the various reasons why Orang Asli children find it difficult to get education. Later I searched for some news reports and research articles online and bookmarked them, so Puppy could read them next day.

8) Take prayer items in turns.

I prayed over one issue, and another child prayed for another issue. This encouraged everyone to pray aloud and the others to listen and express agreement.

9) Play a game.

I asked the children to spend one minute looking at the flag of Selangor, after which I would take it away and they would have to draw and colour it from memory.

It was a nice hands-on activity.

flag Collage

Someone got it right, someone got mixed up, but everyone enjoyed the challenge!

 

How do you pray with your child(ren)? If you have any ideas to share on how to develop a meaningful prayer time, I’d love to read all about it in the comments!

When Mama thinks she’s Lost

The other day I wanted to find room to breathe, to weep over what someone reminded me I’d “lost”. Work I was good at. Work that mattered.

But then you made me pause.

You clambered into my lap and asked for your “baby” and “blankie”. And when you nursed peacefully away to sleep in the early hours of that afternoon I stroked your wispy soft hair so fine it felt I had grasped a slice of heaven.

I reflected misty-eyed on how brief this window would be, when I could nurture your body with the strength of my own. And how that would be far better than anything else.

eyelash

I looked at you for a long time as you slept and thought of all the ways you watch me in the hours of the day, taking in every word, action and languages unspoken as we build our home in the mundane but important ways that matter.

Even in the matter of munching on a tomato ice cream.

eating a tomato

I remembered what my heart has always whispered to me in my moments of self-doubt. We are blending the ordinary and the eternal, you and all your siblings and I.

And hard as some moments may be, I never want it to stop.

My heart sings because you open my eyes to every small thing our Maker delights in beginning with the dry and crusty brown leaves that you see beautiful enough to bend and pick and gift me with.

young child

I have learned enough after almost ten years of this mama gig that with every passing yearly milestone I will be challenged to ask if I made the most of every opportunity to pour in all I possibly can to lead you in the right paths.

cutting birthday cake

And I am determined to live true to my conscience.

Every day we are carving out a kingdom culture built on solid Truth, shared with the larger community whom we serve, in which we lack nothing that is truly necessary for a life so abundant with love, joy and peace and that will bring forth fruit in its due season.

Because our Father has promised, I believe.

jungle walk

The branches were bare before, but they’re sprouting green leaves. Because I started believing.

When Mama is sick

The past three months has dragged by very slowly. Our family has been fighting a bug that has affected everyone, one by one.

You know, the kind that the smallest kid gets and then passes it to two more and then just as we think we’re out of the woods, the one last healthy kid and adults get it too because a little toddler girl doesn’t know better yet except to keep coughing directly in our faces.

Once is hard enough, but this viral bug has gone around, merry-go-round, FOUR times.

There wasn’t a stop button.

It was a bug that it seems just about everyone has caught at some point this season but because our family has so rarely been sick – hardly even the sniffles – this one stretch of three months has been big for us.

You mamas and your little ones down with it now, I just want to say I know how you feel.

Because being sick and sleep deprived yourself when you have to take care of four sick kids and the house and three meals a day, sucks. It really does.

I could type that a few times over.

The months have crawled by with snot-filled, grubby tees and little feverish bodies and in-the-middle-of-the-night tepid baths and sponging cloths and dusty bookshelves and meals you’re glad for simply because they’re cooked, not for their flavours.

Before you know it the world gets so much smaller, filled with all of these things that don’t seem to end and the gaping isolation of quarantines, not being able to meet friends and their kids because you don’t want to pass germs.

But a season like this makes me appreciate so much more the silver lining that shines, of my mother who comes to help with meals twice a week and save the garden from becoming a jungle again.

Of friends who keep loving on me in their own special ways.

Of things that feed my soul and take my mind off being sick, like building a trellis for the vigorous passion fruit vine whose bright green grasping tendrils can’t wait for the fevers and coughs and colds to pass and stretch obliviously upward daily, higher and higher toward the sun, looking for something to climb on.

Yes, the razors in your throat can drive you completely to your knees especially when a sick baby’s been calling out every hour of the night.

You mamas cowering under the bedcovers hoping to stay there a bit longer after “waking up”, I get you. I do.

Cling on to the LOVE of God the Father. Because He is right down there with you in the trenches.

Cling on when the entire day stretches out before you like an unending blanket with the words “Mama, can I have ….”, “laundry”, “cooking”, “dishes”, “floors”, “homeschool”, and “poopy butts” crayoned in bright colours all over it.

Cling on when it feels you’re juggling everyone’s hats and your overworked husband is doing his level best because he’s down sick, too, and can’t but not do overtime on weekends.

Cling on when you feel you’ve gone nuts at some point – a few times.

Cling on and never for one moment believe the lie, “I am in this all alone.”

“I will never leave you, or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Cling on to the HOPE in Jesus. Because He died, and rose again.

That day on which you entertain thoughts of throwing in the towel and going back to work in that carpeted, air-conditioned office without any runny noses or fevers or food crumbs or Legos in it – that day, those days, will pass.

And you can finally deal with the food rotting in the refrigerator.

And clear out the storeroom reeking of dead roaches piled up in the dark corners.

And find the strength to pull out the weeds in the garden and revel in the beauty of the flowering okra plants and pick so much overgrown spinach you will have pots of delicious hot soup to make them with.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)

when mama is sick

Cling on to FAITH in the power of the Holy Spirit. Because His presence makes all the difference in an otherwise bleak day.

How good it is in the midst of it all to feel with body, mind, heart and soul that Jesus the Good Shepherd is carrying you on His shoulder over the thorny brambly bushes through the dark valley to the quiet waters and greener pastures beyond.

How good it is to hear your four year old belt out “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” just as you struggle through the morning routine and as you wonder how you will make it through the day with that congested nose.

He is faithful, always faithful to answer, when you whisper over the pile of dirty dishes – “Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

So whisper along, won’t you?

 

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)