I blinked and the holiday season invaded, this whole world whooshing by. I catch my mind in an ugly state of panic. The new years’ first months, which hold decision deadlines and commitments for which I must prepare, are only three children’s-gift-shopping, two Christmas-parties and a partridge-in-a-pear-tree away.
Each December, my mom pulled a worn cardboard box from the closet. She fingered through the contents, through the layers of creased gift wrap and crumpled tissue paper and last year’s holiday greeting cards. Until she found what she was seeking—a glittery Advent calendar with thumbnail sized doors opening to mini images.
I carry a bulletin in my childhood Bible. I was twelve years old when a Father’s Day bulletin was handed out at my church. It was the same year my dad discovered his love for alcohol that didn’t end for 35 years. But that love affair with alcohol was replaced with the love and grace of Jesus.
I will always feel grateful for the Thanksgiving none of my adult children could come home. That happened two years ago and changed my perspective on a holiday that focuses on being with family. Not that I didn’t want my family with me. But distance separated us and, for the first time ever, none of my three children would be in Minnesota. I could choose to feel sad and alone. Or I could choose to do something that would make others happy. Something that would fit the spirit of giving and of gratitude.
Welcoming these differing abilities and trying to connect with each student brought its challenges for me as a teacher. I tried right at the beginning of each year to find out what individual students liked and what they thought they were good at. It helped me to know the students better and to plan for learning.
As a child, storms terrified me. Memories of a tornado that killed nine, injured 125 and devastated a small community near my Minnesota hometown lingered into adulthood. Then more storms hit decades later, this time damaging the farm place where I grew up and partially peeling the roof from my childhood church.
My part of the communication equation wasn’t very good. I did what I knew to do in my time of reading the Bible and praying to God my Father. Nevertheless, I definitely experienced a plateau in my spiritual growth, especially during my college days.
My husband and I raised a son who was (and still is) high on the intelligence scale. He was asking deep questions from a young age. I think he would wake up in this deep frame of mind, because he often seemed to ask these kinds of questions while I was trying to get him, his sister, and myself ready on a work-day morning.
In Praying with Purpose: Taking Your Prayers from Vague to Victorious, Haddix presents practical ideas for your prayer life, ways to creatively motivate and guide you in prayer, and suggestions on what to pray. She opens pages in with this strong observation: “When you pray for your loved ones, you unleash eternal impacting power upon their lives.” Those words were enough to make me, a life-long Christian, pause and rethink prayer. Wow, that’s some power.