Patience and Acceptance

As time passes, I’ve learned that patience and acceptance travel together. Try as I may, I cannot have one without the other. Being patient requires me to accept and adapt to a particular situation, no matter how difficult that process may be. This is where my faith in God sustains me.

Yesterday I spent some time with my mother at her nursing home. My husband and I arrived just as my brother was pushing Mom’s wheelchair into the conference room where we would have lunch together. Mom is just getting over a bout of bronchitis and her voice was raspy, but she was visibly happy to see us. But as anyone who is familiar with dementia will tell you, emotions can change in an instant.

We spread out Mom’s favorite treat of Chick-fil-A nuggets and waffle fries, but she immediately became preoccupied with her new surroundings. “Where am I?” she asked, wide-eyed and frightened, followed by, “Where is my home?”and “How did you get here?” I couldn’t tell if she was just confused by the new setting (not her normal dining area) or by our presence. Either way, she grew increasingly aggitated and eating was the last thing on her mind.

Mom’s food grew cold over the next 30 minutes while we tried to distract and re-direct her attention back to her lunch. After a while, she discovered the fish tank behind us, and we turned her to face it while she sipped her milkshake and talked to the fish. Sometimes you have to pick your battles, and we knew in that moment it was more important to just enjoy our mother’s presence. I sat beside her and we talked about the different fish and their beautiful colors. After a few minutes she grew calmer and was again her happy self.

Knowing how much Mom enjoys being outdoors, we decided to take advantage of the break in the rainy weather, and wheeled her out to the patio. As always, she loved looking at the flowers and she enjoyed the fresh air. I took her for a little stroll along the walkway to see where it led, grateful to have this  precious time together. Still, I longed to have a real conversation with Mom and share news about my life. I bent down and kissed her cheek. “I love you, Mom,” I said. “Oh, I love you too!” she replied. I knew she meant it.

It takes both patience and acceptance to endure life’s situations while we walk this earth. But it is my faith in God that gives me strength and hope as I await the day when Mom and I will once again converse and laugh together in our forever home.

Back-to-School Prayer

Today was Backpack Blessing Sunday at our church. The youngest kids brought their new backpacks with them for the children’s message, and then our pastor prayed a special blessing over them before they head off to school this week.

I remember the old Staples commercial playing the song lyrics, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .” as Mom and Dad gleefully pushed their shopping cart down the aisles, tossing in pencils and notebooks as they went. The kids shuffled along miserably behind them, clearly not sharing their parents’ enthusiasm. All kidding aside, children, parents and teachers all have mixed feelings about the start of the school year. The free-spirited, spontaneous days of summer will quickly be replaced by a new bedtime, wake-up time and daily routine.

Thankfully, those days are behind me now, but I will always remember what a special time of year it was as we purchased school supplies, packed their backpacks, and visited their new classrooms. There were lunches to prepare, forms to be signed, schedules to be memorized, and locker combinations to be learned.

In addition to the classroom learning, there was a steady flow of homework, tests and projects . . . not to mention the many extracurricular activities! My children didn’t have their own computers until college, or their own cell phones until high school. (Those were still the days of flip phones!) Tablets and ipads had not been invented yet, and Promethean boards were just being introduced into our high schools.

Many young children today have their own laptops and smart phones, creating distractions and dangers that my kids never faced. Parents have to be extra vigilant in an age of growing dangers, including online predators, human trafficking, drug abuse, and viral “challenges” that tempt kids to accept and record various dares, all in an attempt to have it go viral. And it hurts my heart to add to this list — school shootings and suicide.

Oh, we have so much to pray for!

Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Psalm 34:11-14

With all this in mind, here is my Back-to-School Prayer:

Lord, I pray that you will lovingly watch over each child, and that they will . . .

  • be protected and feel safe in their learning environments
  • be filled with a desire to learn new things each day
  • be open to ideas, opinions and cultures that sometimes differ from their own
  • be a friend to the friendless and those who are bullied
  • be free to explore their creative ideas and express them in a meaningful way
  • be able to resist peer pressure that might cause them to act in ways that are harmful to themselves or others
  • be respectful, courteous, and helpful to their teachers and school staff
  • be proactive and seek wise counsel if  they, or one of their peers, ever feels anxious, depressed or confused

I invite you to use this list as a starting point for your Back-to-School prayers this week, and add to it throughout the year. Ask your children what you might add to this list, and encourage them to pray with you.

Rest assured, the Lord is listening, and He loves all His children unconditionally and guards them safely throughout their day. Have a wonderful school year!