Are you flourishing?
If I were to describe my life on a daily basis, the word “flourishing” would most likely not make the list. Overwhelmed, busy, and tired would find their way to the top, while life-giving words like flourish, abundant, and thriving would often fall to the bottom of the list. However, Scripture clearly shows us that the life of the believer is not one that merely survived, but one that flourishes!
Psalm 92:12-15 describes the life of the believer like a flourishing, growing, fruit-bearing tree that brings praise and glory to God. Bearing fruit and flourishing are about multiplying God’s glory, thriving in His goodness, and growing into the likeness of Christ. Essentially, fruit bearing is not about us; it is about Him. Just like a plant requires a gardener to water, prune, and cultivate it daily, we also need to abide in the true Vine, Jesus Christ, and allow the Gardener, God our Father, to take care of us, which allows us to bear fruit. I long for us to be women who produce spiritual fruit that long outlasts our brief lives here on earth. -Gretchen
our prayer for you
There is nothing we can do apart from the grace and strength of Jesus. He is worthy of our time and energy, and He sustains us more than coffee, more than sleep, and more than anything we may think we need! This week we want to help you focus your hearts on the Gospel from the lens of “back to school” as we head into the Fall. We want to equip you to Flourish this Fall, not just survive! We have wisdom and tips for seeking Jesus together with your little ones and as a family, for bringing rhythms and balance into a new season, and for inviting Jesus into your day as we transition out of Summer and into Fall. But before we dive into practical tips, let's come to the Word of God and be satisfied from the well that never runs dry! -Rachael
"The God of the Bible is too lovely to abandon for lesser pursuits." -Jen Wilkin
"Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually." -1 Chronicles 16:11
practical tips to flourish this fall
"For back to school, I like to take each child by themselves to Starbucks for breakfast in the last two weeks of summer. I ask all sorts of question, and sometimes don’t get the serious answers I want, but at least I’m in there, connecting. And they know they are loved individually. I ask things like: what is your favorite thing we did this summer? What are you most looking forward to about this next year at school? What is one big goal you have for this coming year? What do you hope your teacher is like? Is there anything I need to know about your heart or something going on in your mind that I can help with? We pray together and eat chocolate croissants and they feel very special." -Abbey
One way to flourish this fall is to spend intentional time at the end of the day reflecting on your highs and lows. Where did you see God show up, or what good things can you praise Him for? What was difficult or discouraging? If you're eating solo, take some time to jot down in your journal and lift those things up in prayer. If you're having family dinner, have everyone share - even mom and dad! You could ask one of the kids to write everyone's down to keep track of what prayers have been answered over the previous weeks and months. Take time to pray together. This is also a great practice for couples to bring a deeper connection into your relationship and focus your hearts on the Lord as you share around the table!
Memorize scripture and carry God's Word with you as you go! The beautiful thing about the Bible is it is living and active - no matter your age! You're never too young to hear truth or too old to stop needing it. We love the thought of memorizing verses together as a family. Write down your week's verse in our #WordBeforeWorld memory journal to tuck in your purse, car, or even leave out in your home - then send the same verses on a note in your little one's lunchbox. You could say the verses together around the dinner table or ask if they were able to apply that specific scripture to a situation at school.
"When I went to wake up the boys, I would wake them up by praying over them. I would voice a prayer for them out loud so as to wake them up peacefully. I would pray for their day, their friends and teachers, and that they would be a light in a dark school. My boys really seemed to like this and it cut down on morning fights!" -Suzanne | Who wouldn't want to wake up to a gentle prayer over the day? I love this reminder from my friend Becca and it could be a prayer that you pray for yourself, your kids, your spouse, or your friends: "Jesus is standing in the fall semester. He has already seen it. He has conquered it. He is stretching out his hand and asking you to trust him."
"This has worked better at some stages than others, but we have a quick breakfast time devotion then pray on the way to school for whoever or whatever they are thinking about for the day. One of the routine things we have done for years is that as they are about to leave the car, I pray a blessing over them for the day. Then I remind them who they are and whose they are. It reminds us all what is truly important." -Kelly
"We try and take small moments and turn them into teaching opportunities with our little ones. We went on vacation to the beach right before back to school and my husband used our ocean time to talk to them about creation. He’s great at taking each moment and turning it into a time to teach them about Christ’s love." -Melody
"Have a quick devotional each morning at the table. If your kids are old enough, they can help you pick out a family devotional book. If your kids are older and everyone leaves the house at different times, leave the devotional book open and marked on the kitchen table so that everyone will see it as they eat or as they head out their separate ways. Every Monday, print out a scripture on an index card and leave it in the common area and have each family member commit to memorize it by Saturday. Practice it together throughout the week." -Lynn
"We’ve been praying for each other out loud in the mornings (it takes less than five minutes) allowing the kids to pray for one another… Isaac prays for Evelyn who prays for Olivia who prays for me who prays for Adam who prays for Isaac. They see each other’s real struggles and speak life and truth over it to our Heavenly Father. It really helps them to learn to love each other more deeply." -Abbey
"Set aside time before the kids are up or after they've gone to sleep to get alone with your husband and come to the Lord together, even if it's for 10 minutes. Read from Scripture, talk about it, then spend time praying for these three areas: your relationship with Jesus, your relationship with one another, your relationship with your children. You can also pray for anything that either of you have going on or concerns you have. Be honest and intentional. Prioritize one another so that you can seek God together and so that you have a foundation in Christ that comes before serving your children.
"Let them see that mom and dad love God and love one another, let them know that home is a safe haven that is full of love. That is truly the best way you can love them!" -Liz
"As Emily, Sarah and Preston left for the bus each morning we would quote the following verse 'And this I pray that Emily, Sarah and Preston's love would abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment and they will put to test and approve the things that are excellent in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.' This was always my prayer for them." -Lynell
"For sharing the Gospel, we just talk about it all the time. I have taken Chloe with me when I’ve gone to share with neighbors, so she catches my own vision for evangelism. Now she comes home and tells me how she shares the Gospel with classmates!" -Maegan
We pray that you flourish and find ways to draw near to the Lord this fall, but we also know the reality of bumps, surprises, or even hardship and unexpected trials is fairly inevitable! Are you letting the pursuit of perfection in your life or your family's life replace a heart that's seeking Jesus first and foremost? If something goes wrong, remember the Lord is not surprised! If you mess up, fail, or just grow weary, praise God––there is grace! Our endurance through the Spirit's help in the midst of those surprises produces a strength in our faith and an unwavering hope in God who cannot fail or falter. We can count it all joy and through it come to know Jesus more, on good days and bad!