Posted tagged ‘relationship building’

Let Us Pray

October 27, 2014

I grew up bowing my head, eyes closed and hands clasped, to pray.  Over the course of my walk with God, however, I have gradually acknowledged that no part of that posture is necessary.  In history I learned that Stonewall Jackson prayed while riding his horse.  In my own pew, I observed my mother dealing with my youngest siblings before they were old enough to understand that “let’s pray” meant they needed to be quiet.  Neither of these situations allows for closed eyes or clasped hands.  In a war torn countryside, it’s doubtful that General Jackson kept his head bowed either.

I also learned that bowing in respect to Almighty God was more of a heart thing than a posture thing.  Have you parents ever had a child who sat when told, but you could tell they were still standing on the inside?  Have you ever been that child?  Well, sometimes we bow our heads, but our minds and hearts are so full of other things, that we might as well be walking out the door already.  Bowing your head ought really to be an outward sign of an inward reality, but instead, it has become a form, a traditional posture, that can be easily mimicked.  So posture is not the key to prayer.  But that doesn’t answer the original question.  Now jump forward to my late teens.

That’s when I met my Father God.

Sure, I already knew He was my father, but it wasn’t until my teens that I recognized something important.  I began to understand that God loves for His children to come gladly running to meet Him, whether in prayer, or devotions, or in going about His work.  My prayers became much more familiar, like I would talk to my earthly father.  And I began to look upward while praying.

You see, while I picture the Spirit as being inside me, and Jesus walking beside me, God the Father is in Heaven, so when talking to Him, I wanted to look toward Him, trusting like a little girl instead of hanging my head like a condemned sinner.  Yes, I still bow my head in reverence sometimes.  I also bow it in shame at others, but I am learning to bring everything to my Heavenly Father with confidence (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; Romans 8:14-17).

So when I pray, and often while I listen to others pray, I look toward heaven.  I do tend to close my eyes, as that helps cut down on distraction, but looking up helps me remember that I am now a child of God, and He loves to involve His children in His work.  So I encourage you to step back and see if you bow your head simply because that’s what everyone does, or if you do it with a good reason.  I also encourage you that God is a Father who loves you, wants to hear from you, and wants to talk to you.  He desires fellowship, and I’ve always found that’s easiest with people if I look at them.  Why should fellowship with God be so different?  After all, He walked with Adam, didn’t He?

I look forward to the day when we walk with Him on golden streets, and can look Him in the eye.  What joy that uninterrupted fellowship will be!

Schoolmates

July 21, 2012

Next stop along memory lane: the schoolroom.  Having been blessed with a first floor office/sixth bedroom, we turned the space into learning central.  With two 18-month-olds in the house (when we moved here), we (the three school-aged older siblings at the time) needed to be able to shut the door and have relative quiet sometimes!

I say relative, because my memories of the schoolroom revolve around my schoolmates and the conversations we had in that room.  Hmm.  If my next memory also involves conversations someone is going to discover a pattern!

The office, as we have always called it, is big enough to hold four desks – one each for 3G, Sister, and me, and one for Mom, which held the desktop computer.  We weren’t required to do all our work at our desks, for instance if we were reading the couch was often a better place, but many assignments needed desk space.  Sister and I had desks next to each other, while 3G was against the opposite wall.  We were facing away from each other, but thanks to our swivel chairs, we could turn and talk quite easily.

Mom had laid out the guideline that we needed to be eating breakfast by 8, and doing school by 9.  Rarely did any of us fail in that.  In fact, I made a habit, starting in 8th grade, of coming down early to work on my math before breakfast.

By 9 o’ clock then, we were usually working steadily on whatever assignments we chose to do first.  Almost invariably, by the time we had reached the second or third subject, one or another of us had made some comment, often relating to our present schoolwork, which engaged all three of us in conversation.

We talked about everything from punctuation to geography, and we even branched into some of the same topics we covered in lunch conversations.  Sometimes we had differences of strong opinions, which led to minor clashes between at least two of us, but the third could sometimes diffuse the situation, at least partially.  When that happened, we always had our books to turn back to in order to settle our thoughts.  And usually that was enough for one or both to see that they were wrong.

We never had these conversations when Mom was in the room.  If we heard her coming down the stairs to check on us, the three of us immediately turned back to our work.  She never spoke about it, but I think she knew very well that we talked amongst ourselves, and I doubt she had a problem with it.  But I think she probably did come down whenever she thought the conversations sounded like they were becoming unprofitable or overly long.  We did have other work to be doing!

Sometimes the four year gap between Sister and me was enough that she had a hard time following what I was talking about, although 3G could almost always keep up with (or surpass) me.  As we grew older, this gap seemed to shrink, till we could talk pretty equally when I was in my last years of high school.

Conversations such as these built relationships between me and my siblings.  Sure, we shared other activities.  We did most everything together, either as a family or in twos or threes.  But conversations are what reveals someone’s thoughts, their inner-working, their heart.  And we shared that too.

Today, we still get into long conversations; sometimes it’s two, or another two, or all three of us.  Whether Sister and I talk while she perches on my bed and I sit at my desk, she and 3G discuss the way the world works over a game of Mastermind, or we’re all hanging around in the basement after playing a game, we still enjoy delving into all kinds of topics.  With 3G and Sister away at college for six months out of the year, the conversations have become more limited, and may include other family or friends, but we probably enjoy them about as much anyway.

It’s interesting to think about it, but I probably owe much of my knowledge of some subjects to these conversations.  I was never very good at music theory, for instance, which 3G excelled at, and I never studied writing techniques like the budding author in the family, Sister.  But from listening to them talk about their favorite subjects (these and others), I picked up quite a bit that I never would have remembered otherwise.  Sometimes the concepts were ones I studied long ago, but when I had little interest in them, and my siblings merely solidified things and made them real.  Other times the things they talked about were new, and I’m glad for those too.

For you homeschooling parents out there, I encourage you to allow or foster discussions amongst your students.  Sure, they may take longer to complete their assignments, but they are building relationships and sharing knowledge.  That is priceless, for it actually helps both listener and speaker to solidify the knowledge in their heads.  Don’t feel like your schoolroom has to be silent for learning to take place, or that your students are distracting each other.  They are building the bonds which will in time knit your children together into a tight family circle.

My siblings and I are very close, especially Sister, 3G and I, despite our many differences and the distance which now separates us for half of the year.  And I trace much of that back to the relationships we began in our play and built in conversations, whether in school or out.


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