Today I read a prayer from Prayers Over Our Children that contains a powerful line. I read this: You purposely created my children with a need that only You can meet. It reminds me that when I’m restless, unsatisfied, or wondering where my joy has gone, I return to the One who can meet that need. I also love thinking that God designed a longing in us and an unquenchable sense of needing something more to drive us to Him.
We’re made with a need only God can meet.
Today, I began collecting little joys. Years ago, I joined a community that challenged one another to record five moments like this each day. For years, I did this, and I return to the practice today.
- I found a list a student made of new verbs to use. She’s been writing emails to me where she practices her semicolons and colons.
- Two students have emailed me personal writing for me to read and comment upon, simply for the love of sharing writing with someone willing to read. So far, I’ve read poems and short essays, and it’s only the second week of class.
- I collect a small bowl of blackberries and raspberries each afternoon.
- I learned that if the humidity rises above 80%, the likelihood that a migraine will form increases. I’m thankful for information like this that drives me indoors into the cool air conditioning when weather changes.
- I’m serving chili with butternut squash tonight. I made cornbread that’s already cooling on the stove.
Small, beautiful things.
There’s this moment when you stand in front of the blackberries, gathering them into your hand, and you smell the sticky sweetness of them, and you burst with a thankful heart. You enjoy the taste even though you’ve heard more bad news than a soul can take: accidents and illnesses and even the death of a friend’s husband.
There’s this moment when you pick the second-harvest raspberries–the ones you weren’t expecting–and see your small glass bowl filling up that you realize the goodness of God’s creation and abundant, sweet provision.
There’s this moment when you realize that it’s going to be like this: you will have little moments of joy that ripen against a landscape of pain and loss and confusion. You will stand and gather the harvest each new day. And it will be enough to fill your bowl.
I love the statement in Psalm 138 from David: “When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.”
God answers when we call. The astonishing fact that God responds to us when we cry out to Him makes my heart sing this morning. It’s a great comfort. It’s a miracle of faith.
As we talk to the Lord today, consider how He will answer us:
I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Psalm 3:4
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 17:6
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Psalm 86:7
In church this morning, we sang Frances Havergal’s 1874 hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be.”
The lyrics invite surrender of every part of us: our life, our moments, our hands, our feet, our voice, our money, our mind, and our love. She writes:
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.
After church, I discover the story of why Frances wrote this beautiful hymm. According to the story told on Christianity.com, Frances wrote:
“I went for a little visit of five days. There were ten persons in the house; some were unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. [God] gave me the prayer, ‘Lord, give me all in this house.’ And He just did. Before I left the house, everyone had got a blessing. The last night of my visit I was too happy to sleep and passed most of the night in renewal of my consecration, and those little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another till they finished with ‘ever only, ALL FOR THEE’!”
I love that she sees the difference between converted, but not rejoicing, Christians. I love that she asked the Lord to give her the people in the house–meaning that they would come to know Him and be blessed by her. This blessing given out to all in the house brought Frances so much happiness that she couldn’t sleep! And so she renewed her consecration to the Lord and wrote this hymn.
I loved that we sang it this morning. Read more about Frances Havergal here.
I ask the cashier if she’s having a good day. She says, “Every day is a good day.”
I ask, “How is every day a good day?”
She says, “I can maybe be sad about life for an hour. That’s it. Then I decide I have a good life. It’s a good day every day!”
Then I decide I have a good life.
I love it!
As we prepare for our back to school week, I find myself reminding my daughters–and myself–that we are already seated at the best table with Jesus. We talk about Ephesians 2 because it’s so easy to compare our lives, live with the kind of envy that “rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30), and forget that we are exactly where we are supposed to be because we’re here, seated with Christ. You can invite children to picture their seat with Jesus (Ephesians 2:6) and think about how secure, loved, and included they are.
We also talk about our job when we don’t know what to do. Our job is cultivating thankful hearts.
It’s worship. Consider 1 Thessalonians 5:18 as a life goal: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It’s hard to be thankful and also stressed out. It’s hard to be thankful and focused on your problems. It’s hard to be thankful and also jealous. Choosing a thankful heart–and also asking God to give you a thankful heart with deep contentment–gives us a great task for this day.
Can you imagine the kind of person you could be if you were thankful in all circumstances because you knew how to see divine activity and experience God’s love all the time?
But starting school is stressful. It is scary. I remind my daughters that they are in the fortress of God’s guarding care. I even text my daughter a picture of a beautiful castle to remind her how safe her soul is in the great care of God. He guards us “in all our ways” (Psalm 91:11).
If you are a caregiver today, you can remind children that they are seated with Jesus, especially when they walk into that lunchroom and feel alone or nervous. You can also remind children that they have a great task of finding things to thank God for. Finally, you can tell them they are guarded by Christ and in the fortress of His care.
Seated and guarded. And always, always, thankful.
I often cry when I read student writing. I really do! When something strikes me as truly authentic–like I’m finally hearing a real voice in that sentence that comes from some honest, true place–I just know it. And I cry. It’s a joyful thing. It’s a moment of recognition of a soul.
And it’s rare.
But with every assignment and with this confetti of semicolons and verbs tossed up each day, I hope that we’re one step closer to getting the real writing out.