What A Wrinkle in Time gets right

What A Wrinkle in Time gets right is that scripture is essential in the lives of children. And that parents need to bring scripture directly into their children’s lives.

Meg’s dad may not have been adept in his use of Romans 8:28 with her. Especially since she was angry at him for botching her tessering and causing her so much pain.

Romans 8:28 is probably one of the most often poorly used Bible passages, and Meg’s dad’s use was no exception. Meg needed time to recover physically and emotionally before hearing this scripture from her dad. She was angry and needed to simmer down first.

But the passage was spot on from his perspective:

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

He had just rescued Meg from the stunningly hypnotic power of IT and enabled the trio to find a way to rescue Charles. He was trusting that he was called by God and that God would use even negative events to serve his overarching purpose.

We may not approve of Madeleine L’Engle’s unorthodox ways of incorporating scripture into her fantasy characters’ lives. But we need to admire a father who calls his daughter’s attention to scripture in times of crisis.

I sometimes got pretty tired of my dad’s reading James 1 with me when people picked on me in junior high. My daughters have also admitted that they sometimes had a hard time relating to the scriptures I shared with them when praying through difficulties.

But James 1 stuck with me. At one point I had it memorized in several versions. It is still one of my favorite passages.

A daughter I shared countless passages with during her struggles came to me a little later with a request: “Mom, can you write down for me all the Bible passages you’ve shared with me?”

What? Why? How am I supposed to remember them all?

I hadn’t even known at the time that the passages had helped her.

I knew she had a friend going through extremely serious struggles. It turned out she wanted to write these passages on index cards for her friend. She wanted to comfort her with them as they had comforted her. God’s use of his word in my daughter’s life, even when I hadn’t known it, amazed me.

I’m sure that by the end of the novel Meg’s dad would also have heard a much more positive response from Meg on Romans 8:28. By then Meg saw how everything did work out and that the negative event was a powerful learning experience in the triumph.

Meg would have seen with twenty-twenty hindsight that her dad had been seeing with eyes of faith. The tricky thing is that eyes of faith require faith–and have no proof.

How scary it is to speak words of faith into our children’s lives, when we really don’t know how God will work. We just know he will.

Missing: Unconditional Love

My mom realized her five-year-old was missing unconditional love the day she asked her, “Mommy, will you still love me if I go to prison?

Energetic, enthusiastic, full-volume—my little sister had a knack for getting herself into trouble. Sometimes she may have deserved it. But generally she simply had more energy or volume than adults wanted her to have.

Vases may have gotten in the way of her energetic movements. Adults may have stopped napping at the sound of her arrival in the house. Things may have fallen over during her exciting games. Adults may have said their ears were hurting from her excited yelling about whatever she was doing.

But at first my mom failed to see that my sister was assuming her frequent punishments and reproofs proved she was a bad person.

Probably many of us do that as parents. I know I did—and only realized it much later.

Fortunately, my mom’s wake-up call allowed her to change her mode of parenting my sister.

—”Mommy, will you still love me if I have to go to prison?”

—“What do you mean? You’re not going to prison.”

—”But what if I do? Will you still love me then?”

—”No, Honey, you will never go to prison.”

—”But what if I do?”

—“You won’t ever go to prison, but I will still love you if you do.”


—“Honey, I will never stop loving you. If you ever go to prison, I will visit you all the time. I promise.”

—“Okay, good.”

That day my sister felt better, feeling unconditionally loved, while my mom felt terrible. My mom realized she needed to completely change the way she responded to my sister when upset. In those moments, she needed to talk about the problems of my sister’s behavior in ways that focused on the behavior rather than on her person.

Mom began to talk about how Jesus loves people in prison and loves all of us, regardless of our behavior.

She also noticed two poison words she had been using a lot with my sister: “always” and “never.”


I wish I could have learned that lesson then for all my future relationships. Unfortunately, I needed to learn the same thing the hard way. Though I never had children assume they would go to prison, I’m sure I sometimes made mine feel that they were worthless.

What Mom needed to focus on with my sister—and I needed to with my daughters—is how much God loves us. No matter what.


Anyone who knows my sister now would have a hard time believing this story. Yet if my mom had allowed my sister to grow up feeling worthless, I’m sure she would never have become the powerful Christian she is today.

Even when we mess up as parents, God forgives us and can bring our children to forgive us too.

Praise God!

When God is Silent

What happens when God doesn’t answer our prayers? The Bible tells us that God always hears us, but sometimes we get absolutely no response to our prayers. God is silent.

My friends and family have often heard me complain that I wish God would send a banner down from heaven to tell me what to do. I always feel certain that I want to do God’s will. I always believe I just need to know for sure what it is. But God has never worked that way for me.

However, I have had a few crazy stories of God answering my prayers instantly in the way I wanted him to.

Like the time early in our marriage when our washing machine sometimes worked for the spin cycle and just as often did not. Two mechanics could find nothing wrong and suggested we buy a new machine.

We did not have extra money to spend on a washing machine, especially one we might not even need. But I was sick of having to wring clothes out by hand and have them in the dryer for what felt like forever.

So out of exasperation I prayed that God would please make the machine either never work properly again or never malfunction again until we needed to buy a new one.

Ten minutes later the machine worked perfectly, as it did consistently for six more years. Wow. Sweet! If only I could always get God to answer my prayers like that.

Unfortunately, too often it feels uncertain whether God is answering or not. When a friend is struggling in a marriage or a loved one is gravely ill, God can even seem to answer with positive signs and then follow with negative results. Or sometimes nothing changes at all. The waiting can drain me and make me feel angry at God.

Too often I identify with C. S. Lewis’s description of pounding at the door of God and feeling that God heartlessly hears and ignores the pounding.

What these experiences show is that often God wants me to listen to him in a new way. Usually my waiting and listening produce growth. When I actually keep looking to God during my waiting.

Then, during my waiting he often produces a much better answer than what I had originally requested.

For instance, I didn’t know that my daughter’s struggles in her school would lead us to switch her to a far better school for her.

We never would have considered doing that if God had answered our prayers by simply fixing the bad situations.

Years later, we prayed that God would end the continuing crises in my family. He didn’t, but I saw huge personal growth. My growth came through my stronger dependence on God and my sense of peace about his plans for my life.

Often when God seems silent in my life, he is actually saying to me, “Be still, my child, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).



C. S. Lewis Tells us to Fake It.

“Let’s pretend!”

As children, many of us have reveled in games of pretend. C. S. Lewis writes in his chapter “Let’s Pretend” in Mere Christianity that as we grow in our walk with the Lord, sometimes we need to fake it. He says it about growing spiritually. Could it also be crucial with our parenting?

That idea is jarring and smells of the worst charge against Christianity: hypocrisy.

Until we think about what he really means by this . . . .

Think about babies. We talk to them immediately–telling them how much we love them, how cute they are, etc. We never, ever think, “I’d better wait to talk until my baby initiates the conversation. He doesn’t know what I’m saying yet anyway.”


We start off pretending they know what we’re saying, and eventually they do. In the same way Lewis tells us to act like nicer people than we actually are. Sometimes we need to act loving to our children when we don’t feel up to it.

By doing this, we can allow the Spirit of God to shape us into better people. We grow into the people Jesus wants us to be—by pretending we already are.

How can this work with our spiritual growth?

If you are like me, your devotional life has its ups and downs. One day you feel super motivated to read your Bible. Other times you feel stuck and not at all motivated. Feelings vacillate.

Unlike our feelings, God’s promises are secure. The more faithful we are in reading his word, the more he will bless us through it.

But we need to remember not to read the Bible out of guilt.

God wants our hearts—not feelings of guilt or shame.

I love that in Jesus Calling Sarah Young reminds us not to feel ashamed that our minds wander. She says God knows we are that way, because that’s the way he made us. We just have to work at getting back on track. Just like with making time for reading the Bible.

What if you plan now for a time to read the Bible tomorrow? Even if it’s only for five minutes. Then write yourself a note somewhere to help you remember.

Choose a time your house is usually quiet. Preferably before you check your phone or go online. For me, deciding to spend this time before checking for messages allowed me to be much more consistent and enjoy devotional time much more.

But we need to be careful not to beat ourselves up about missing planned times with God. Just keep moving forward.

Give it a try, and wait for God to bless you abundantly with a strong sense of his presence in your life. Your child will notice that too.

I’d love to hear what has worked for you and what has been problematic or frustrating.

I’m not comfortable praying out loud.

–Are you much more comfortable praying silently than out loud?

–Do you think others always “pray better prayers” than you do?

–Do you feel blessed when others pray for you either silently or out loud?

–Do you feel a special blessing when people pray for you in your hearing?

If you answered yes to all of the above, you are like the majority of us. Most of us feel blessed when other people pray for us. But we feel a bit insecure when asked to pray in front of others.

This feeling is so normal that it motivated Jesus’ disciples to ask him to teach them how to pray. It also motivated him to teach them the prayer most of us refer to as The Lord’s Prayer.

Doing anything in front of others can make us feel self-conscious, especially praying. All the more reason to start praying out loud with our children at a very early age—and very simply. If we can remember that prayer is talking to God rather than performing for others in the room, we will all do better.

Children who first hear prayers in simple language—without any special churchy words—will easily learn to talk to God themselves naturally.

Simple prayers thank God for food, for family, for friends. They ask for healing of loved ones. They ask for God’s blessing on us for a scary day tomorrow. Or they praise God for being a loving God and for caring for us.

Such simple prayers just talk to God about the ordinary stuff of life. We can best model talking to God well by talking to him the way we do with our children and our friends.

I wish my parents had always prayed out loud with us in restaurants. The first time I was with someone who prayed out loud before dinner in a restaurant, I was weirded out. The first time my sister prayed with me over the phone felt very strange. I don’t know why.

I know God understands how phones work much better than I do. But I had to be led by others to pray in those ways that were uncomfortable for me at first. So it took a while for me to feel comfortable praying that way with my children, but it took them much less time to learn than it did for me.

Most of us feel less self-conscious with our children than with other adults. So it will probably be much easier than praying out loud with them than with adults.

The main benefit is that it will make it easier for our children to pray naturally. A side benefit is that it will probably make us feel more comfortable praying out loud with adults. Take baby steps, and watch God bless you.

How were you first introduced to prayer? Have you had positive experiences or negative experiences with trying to pray out loud with children?

Praying together

What Do I Delight In?

When I was recovering from a traumatic break-up years ago, God gave me a promise: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Relief washed over me. I read that as a promise that my loving the Lord would result in his granting me my intense desire for a godly husband and a family. As I began to claim the promise of that verse, I thought about it a lot. God showed me that the focus of the verse was not on loving him—but on delighting in him.

What was delight? I remembered Edmund disobeying Aslan for the White Witch’s Turkish Delight in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I didn’t know how a person could truly delight in God.

I had always delighted in small children, but I needed to grow into true delight of the Lord. How could I learn to turn to him and feel my heart brighten as it does when I see an adorable toddler?

How could I delight in ordinary moments spent with God and in seeing his work in my daily life? Especially when my life was not going according to my plan.

How could I delight in him, when it seemed he was not answering my deepest prayers?

I began to look for ways to delight in him in my private Bible reading and prayer time. Eventually I discovered that writing down my prayers and thoughts in a prayer journal helped keep me focused. When my mind wanders now, I can pray about those concerns and not forget my focus.

But a strange thing happened. I realized that as God had increased my delight in him, he had lessened my intense desire for a husband and family. I believed I could even be happy without them. I knew that God was my ultimate desire. Wow. What a change in my heart.

Two years later he granted my early desire: a godly husband. Then three wonderful daughters. But God taught me through that struggle what true delight in the Lord is and how important it is that I share that with those around me.

We probably all identify with Julie Andrews’ song about her favorite things—also loving snowflakes on eyelashes and little girls in dresses with sashes.

Do we also delight in time spent praying and reading the Bible? If so, how do we convey that to our children? How will our children see our delight in the Lord?

What is your prayer for the child or children in your life?

Praying with my Baby Now: How Jesus Surprised Me

The other day I had a surprising need to pray out loud with my fifteen-month-old grandson. An extremely loving little boy, he is very sensitive to other people’s pain.

He was playfully doing peek-a-boo with me using pieces of clothing and then a lap-desk. A little over exuberant, he unintentionally bopped me hard on the nose with the lap-desk.

As I yelped in pain, my friend ran for some ice for my throbbing nose. My grandson’s face crumpled in tears.

I told him it would be okay, hugged him, and told him I was not mad at him or at the lap-desk. I told him the ice would make it better.

He kept crying softly. Later he whimpered every time he looked at the ice and cried whenever I put the ice to my nose.

I told him that Jesus would make it better. Also that I knew he had not tried to hurt me and neither had the lap-desk. He was not convinced.

Seeing nothing was working, I suggested we should pray to Jesus right then.

I don’t know what his face looked like as I was praying, because my eyes were closed with my hands folded around him in my lap.

I thanked Jesus that I knew he was going to make my nose better. I thanked him that my grandson hadn’t meant to hurt me and that the lap-desk hadn’t either. I thanked him for loving us so much and told him we loved him too. Amen.

When I opened my eyes, my grandson’s pain was visibly gone. He was able to engage in play again. For a minute or so he still took pained little breaths whenever I applied the ice. But he seemed to know that things were going to be okay now.

Obviously, he could not have understood all of my words. Nevertheless, Jesus gave him peace. Through my prayer.

I’m sure I never prayed in similar moments with my own toddlers. I had no idea the prayers would have mattered to them.

But after watching my kids grow up and watching how God has worked in me and in others around me as we hear people praying, I have become determined to pray out loud much more often than I used to.

Whether I’m praying with someone at book club after hearing a need, or praying with someone in the grocery store, God is honored.

The really cool thing: IT ALSO BLESSES ME. As I watch God work through my little prayers about tiny things and huge things, my faith grows.

The faith of those around me grows, but mine might grow even more. Amazing. What a good God we have. He allows us to be vessels through which he works.

Do you have a child, a co-worker, or a family member who might benefit from an audible prayer from you?

My Favorite Bedtime Tradition: Family Prayer Time


All three of my adult daughters have commented at some moment that the best thing we did as parents was to have family prayer time.

Does this mean they always felt that way or that it never felt like a chore to fulfill? I’m sure not. I know we parents often felt this was something we needed to power through in our exhaustion.

But our little girls experienced some of their best answers in response to family-time prayers. They often also found that time to be a bit of comfort at the end of each day. As a family, we shared concerns together we never would have otherwise.

We sort of stumbled onto it, but we came to value it highly. When our oldest first began talking, we started praying with her at her bed before saying goodnight. Like lots of parents.

My husband and I made a point of both doing this together with her. That is probably the conscious decision that turned it into “Family Prayer Time.”

We started with very simple “God bless Grandma and Grandpa G.” kinds of prayers. She was an early talker. At two she was praying that I would have a baby sister for her. Then one day she got suspicious: “Mom, you and Dad aren’t praying too, are you?” I had to admit that we were not praying for that yet.

When she did have a little sister old enough to join in, we started having prayer time together in the little one’s room. In early years, it was the youngest who went to bed first.

Eventually, predictably, we parents began going to bed soonest and called for prayer time.

When the girls were teens, prayer time usually took 15-30 minutes. But sometimes it took long enough for a parent or siblings to become impatient and wonder if the time were worth it. During this time I’m sure having to do family prayer time was often an annoyance to our older, busy kids.

One interesting fact, however, is that I have no memory of the girls complaining about prayer time. Church, yes. Baths, yes. Vegetables, yes. But never prayer time.

I asked one of my daughters recently if she had ever resented it. She was a bit surprised by the question: “No. It was just always something I thought was normal.”

The rewards have been tremendous! We now see our grown daughters take their needs to Jesus regularly. We see them pray with others and lead them to know who Jesus is.

All became comfortable praying out loud with others at far younger ages than my husband and I did. We believe this is because of family prayer time.

Is there a version of this that could work in your home? Or do you have a different prayer tradition that blesses you and your children?


Do a Three-Year-Old’s Prayers Matter?

Praying Girl

Have you ever felt nervous telling your child about something you are praying for? I have.

One morning after taking my baby and toddler to a huge neighborhood garage sale, I realized hours later I had left my beautiful, new stroller sitting on the busy sidewalk.

My internal debate began: –Oh, no! I can’t believe I was that stupid when I was packing the kids up.
–Please, Lord, let it still be there.
–Oh, I need to pray out loud, so that my little one can see that you are the one we turn to for help.
–But I can’t pray out loud because I know this was my stupidity and not something you are probably just going to fix for me.
–I really don’t want her to decide that you don’t answer prayer, just because your answer is No on this one.
–But I also don’t want her to think we don’t pray about things just because we’re the ones that messed them up.

As I turned the car back toward that busy corner, I explained all of this to my three-year-old.

Little Katie interrupted me, saying, “Mom, you drive. I’ll pray.”

As we drove, she prayed with folded hands and tightly closed eyes. The only way she knew to pray. She peeked every now and then and finally saw the corner.

Katie said, “There it is! I knew God would put his angels around it to hide it from the bad guys.” Today she recalls this as the first time she was sure God was real.

My second daughter’s earliest prayer memory involved her detachable bed bar, which we had left in an unknown motel. Julia instantly decided she was going to pray and knew God would bring it back to her. Though we didn’t argue with her, we nervously thought that it wasn’t that simple.

“The mail carrier will bring it to me,” she told us. A few days later she looked out of her bedroom window and announced, “There comes the mail carrier with my bed bar!” Sure enough, a motel whose address and number we had never written down had found our address to ship our toddler’s bed bar back to us. This experience created in Julia a simple, absolute faith that God answers her prayers.

Our youngest daughter’s earliest memory of answered prayer was the recovery of her Angela baby doll. Angela went everywhere with her but one day disappeared. We searched for hours, assuring Stephanie we would find her. When bedtime came and we had looked everywhere we knew without finding her, we were baffled.

During our family prayer time, we prayed that God would keep Angela safe and out of the rain that night. We even prayed that someone loving would find her and adopt her, if she had to be gone for good.

The next morning, walking our oldest to school, I saw notices tacked up on trees and telephone poles down the street: “FOUND. A MUCH-LOVED BABY DOLL. CALL ###-#### TO CLAIM.”

Someone walking his dog before the rain started had found her, evidently dropped out of Stephanie’s stroller. Stephanie was thrilled and knew at that moment that God loved her enough to care about her Angela doll too!

Each of these instances reminds me that God used my broken ways of bringing my daughters to him to create faith in their hearts—even when my own prayers were faithless.

Do you have a story of a surprising answer to a prayer with a child? I’d love to hear it.

“Mom, I don’t believe in God anymore . . .”: Why I became an atheist as a child

“Mom, I don’t believe in God anymore . . .”: Why I became an atheist as a child

As an eight-year-old, I traumatized my parents by choosing atheism over Christianity. Ours was an overtly Christian household, headed by parents with the gift of evangelism. And my dad was a pastor. I had definitely believed when younger. But the influence of an excellent third-grade teacher—a strong humanist—changed that completely.

One night after family devotions, I announced to my family, “I don’t think I can believe all that stuff. Mrs. Allen says there is no God. People just created the idea of God as a crutch to lean on. He’s only an idea for weak people.”

My parents were shell-shocked.

My dad spent countless hours explaining to me all the proofs of the reality of Jesus Christ. No dice.

After months of frustration with my stubborn disbelief, my mom—in her desperation—decided to do the only other thing she could think of. She began sharing with me daily examples of her prayers to Jesus. She also shared how he was answering them. Bingo.

I don’t remember what she was praying about most days. Certainly things in her kids’ daily lives. Probably about how yucky she felt while pregnant. I know those are the kinds of things she asked me to pray for after I grew up.

One answered prayer stands out hugely though. That day she ran into the house over the top excited because her dentist had prayed to receive Christ with her. We all knew she had been praying for him.

She knew he had tough stuff in his life, but she also knew she couldn’t take up appointment time to talk about Jesus with him. On the day of her excitement, he had told her that he had purposely scheduled no one after her, so he could ask her more questions.

It turns out he and his new wife were going through a really rough time with their newly blended family—three teen-aged daughters. He had been drawn to the joy Mom had. He wanted that for his family. Later the whole family became Christians after my parents met with him and his wife together.

That day I saw the reality of Jesus Christ in the power of my mom’s personal relationship with him. I now see that she had finally resorted to what the disciples did as the first ones to introduce others to Christ. She told me about her daily companion and Lord of her life.

I had no moment of sudden realization–simply gradually returning to believing in Jesus Christ.

I know many parents and grandparents want their children to know Jesus Christ as Lord. But sometimes they’re unsure what to do. They feel they don’t know enough. Or they feel not good enough to be the best examples.

What has nurtured your faith in the most noticeable ways? Is there a child in your life you could share that experience with?