Kathy Koch
Praying Strengthens Us Kathy Koch, Ph.D., Cofounder In the video I posted on Facebook on Mother’s Day, I mentioned that we pray for you regularly. We also talk at our staff meetings about our desire to pray for you. Suzanne and I often end our phone calls in prayer. We have strategies in place to strengthen this ministry and you through prayer. Do you value prayer, too? I hope you have found that it’s an essential lifeline to keep your relationship with God healthy, intimate, and strong. As our friends, David and Jason Benham state, “The goal of prayer is not simply to get an answer from God, it’s to get to know the God of the answer.” Whether you’re new at praying or very experienced, sometimes it’s nice to have prayers to pray that you don’t have to think up. Right? That’s what we did as children at meals and bedtime. Why not now?! Maybe three prayers I regularly pray will bless you. The first is a simple old Anglican prayer: What I know not, teach me. What I have not, give me. What I am not, make me. This second prayer is one of my all-time favorites. I learned it when teaching for a week in Estonia in 1998. Two of my students were from Ukraine. Their thank-you gift to me was to share this national prayer with me. I have a copy in my purse, by my bed, and in a desk drawer. Especially when I’m overwhelmed or unsure how to pray, God uses this. Perhaps He will use it in your life, too: Lord, allow me with a peaceful soul, to meet everything that tomorrow's day will bring for me. Help me to completely entrust myself to Your holy will. Help me to know that in every moment of this day, in everything, You will instruct and support me. Whatever news I receive during the next day, let me accept it with a calm soul and strong assurance that everything is according to Your holy will. In all my words and deeds, guide my thoughts and feelings. In all unexpected situations, don't let me forget that everything is sent by You. Help me to deal with all the people fairly and wisely so nobody will be confused or upset. Give me the strength to endure the weariness of the coming day and all the events during that day. Guide my will and teach me how to repent, pray, believe, hope, tolerate, forgive, thank, and love. Amen! I learned this third prayer on a different missions trip. I was in Senegal, West Africa, primarily to speak to students at a large missionary boarding school in Dakar. A friend from my church went with me and we were able to spend time with some missionaries our church supported at the time. On one of the Sundays, MaryAnn drove us out into the bush country and we visited seven different church groups. It was one of the more humbling and amazing days of my life. Meeting Ndeba was a highlight. She was a new believer. Her home/hut was next to the witch doctor and across the fire pit from the small mosque. MaryAnn translated my greeting and I explained that I’d be honored to pray for her now that we had met. We had been praying for her and her church from the other side of the ocean for years so this seemed natural. I wanted to know how to pray for her. To be honest, because it appeared to me that she had nothing and I knew they were suffering through a drought, and because I’m from the materialistic western world and she knew that, I expected her to ask me to pray that she would be blessed with money, food, and “stuff.” I can’t adequately describe my reaction when I heard MaryAnn translate Ndeba’s response so I won’t even try. Just know that conviction was quick and my tears were, too. Here’s what she asked me to pray for: Please pray that I would walk rightly with my Jesus. Please pray that we would be protected from the evil one. Please pray that my faith in my great God would grow. That was it. She was finished. I knew I was in the presence of a mature woman who knew what really mattered. This is how I pray for myself and those I love. It’s how I’m praying for you.

Perspective is a funny thing isn’t it? It changes with time and experience, growth and wisdom. There’s a reason that God's word instructs older women in Titus 2:3-5 to teach younger women. It’s part of His design for life.

It’s so easy, especially during the holidays, to get wrapped up in the to-do list of life and to miss the moments.

A decade ago, my husband's company began bringing their leadership team and their spouses on an annual getaway...10 days before Christmas! Sounds wonderful, right?

Perspective is everything. This year it IS wonderful. It feels like a gift from God.

However, when I began coming my children were 12, 10, and 7 years old. TEN days before Christmas I walked out the door crying as I hopped into the car! How would I bake the cookies, mail the presents, shop for the kids, host a would I even attend some of the parties and events around this magical time of the year??? It was painful.

Here I sit, 10 years later, watching the tide slip in and out. Presents are mailed, shopping is wrapped up, the Christmas menu is planned, and, for the first time, I decorated the Christmas tree alone. I didn’t love being alone as I decorated, but I had a choice. I could either weep and long for what was, or I could focus on how excited I am that we WILL be together for Christmas!
It’s my choice.

Time moves and seasons change. It is His design! We won’t escape it. This season of life is so sweet in its own way, and I am learning to adjust. We all must! If we refuse to adjust we miss the moments God gives in the place we are in. There are precious moments in ALL of the places. There are treasures tucked into ALL of God’s timing, but we must seek them out.

The first Christmas when you are SO excited, and your sweet baby is asleep the entire day. Treasure!  

The toddler who is so overwhelmed they are stunned into silence and awe, or are talking gibberish while trying to figure it out! Treasure!  

The child who runs around the house in disbelief over the gift they HAD to have or they knew they wouldn’t get! Treasure!

The middle schooler who is too cool to be excited but a side grin creeps out because the pleasure can’t be contained. Treasure!

The high schooler who is maturing into genuine appreciation offering eye contact and a sincere thank you. Treasure!

The college student who is desperate for some clothes and money, but is really just glad to be home with family. Treasure!

The married child who is building a life, working to blend and balance all of your family traditions with the traditions of another. Treasure!

Another generation of littles and bigs to love and watch, teach and shape. Treasure!  

Today, a week before Christmas, we at Ignite the Family give you the gift of perspective. If the turkey is dry, so be it. If the gift doesn’t arrive, print a picture and wrap it up. If the tree falls over and crushes the heirloom ornament, pick up the pieces and make something out of it. Don’t let the messes rob you of the moments!  Because, the moments, good or bad, WILL turn to memories!

You won’t get this Christmas back. It is the only one you will have in this season. Time doesn’t stop for us to linger!  

Treasure this time!

MAKE this Christmas a time you treasure!

Enjoy and give thanks!  

- Suzanne

Before you go! I'd love for you to take a listen to this song by Adeline Hill, an amazing singer and songwriter. She and her family are dear family friends. Eric and Kristin have poured into our family in so many ways, including marrying Ansley and Will! I have mentored Adeline for years and know her heart well.

In the season leading up to her high school graduation Adeline was coming to grips with the change of season. Adeline released “How Can It Be Time Already” just before she and my son graduated. During their graduation, Adeline sang this TRUTH!

I sat and watched my son walk down the aisle. I watched the kids who had been in and out of my house for food, fun, and bible studies sit on the front row in both excitement and tears. I sat and watched Eric and Kristin, my dear friends, in tears as their first child to leave home sang these words. I sat and watched Adeline express the deep feelings of a parent's heart, feelings that come over and over with each and every season! The words moved everyone in the room causing us all to both reflect and to be intentional with the time we have been given!

We hope in the hustle and bustle of the holidays you will allow God to use this song to minister to your heart and to remind you to treasure the time with your family!