A Candle and a Prayer

(The only tsunami updates today is a blog entry by one of Eric’s coworkers from Sendai, Jim Peterson. His photos are amazing; this entry brought new perspective for me to the breadth of the devastation).

In Japan, April marks the beginning of the new year. It is when people start new jobs, move to new neighborhoods, and when everyone goes back to school. Owen started back to school today — third grade! Tomorrow morning is Annie’s opening ceremony for first grade; Olivia starts her second year of youchien (preschool/kindergarten) on Monday.

Last night we had a special dinner as we marked the end of spring break. I didn’t tell the kids but I was grieving the end of spring break and starting again the daily low-grade stress of being a mom for three kids in Japanese schools. It is low-grade, and I rarely take the time to give it the label of “stress.” But it is stress, and probably is daily.

After dinner, we pulled out candles. Each child, and our friend Yasko who is starting another semester of training to be a Japanese teacher, on their turn lit a candle and shared a prayer request or two for this next school year. Then the child next to them prayed for those requests, and took their turn lighting a candle and praying.

Owen’s prayer was for God to help him to “do really good” at third grade kanji and math; and to become a good soccer player (he’s in his third year of YMCA soccer). Annie asked for prayer that she wouldn’t be scared to start first grade, and then Owen and Olivia said that she should pray that her good friend Asana will be in her class. Olivia wants her two good friends in her class, and that she could keep learning Japanese (that came with some parental suggesting). Yasko wants God’s help with her three classes, and guidance for the next steps after the class. After all the candles were lit and each individual had been prayed for, Eric closed our time in prayer. How good it felt as a family to commit our ways to God’s tender care. I looked around our table and knew without a doubt that our Lord is in control and will shower these His children with both His love and His discipline this year. We can entrust them to His care.

This morning I found out that Owen’s new teacher is the ONLY teacher in the school I really didn’t want him to have. I had even prayed he wouldn’t get this teacher! But they are entrusted to His care. One of my favorite hymns came to mind as I was processing the news- Children of the Heavenly Father. God never forsakes us. And I am ready and willing, once again, to be a Japanese-school mom.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.


2 thoughts on “A Candle and a Prayer

  1. Thanks for the links Sue. I enjoyed working with Eric so much! I hope we can meet some day. And I was especially pleased to see your use of “Children of the Heavenly Father”. I am with the Evangelical Covenant Church and that song is practically our denominational anthem…


  2. I’m always amazed by your complete trust in God’s Providence, Sue. Praying for the kids as they start the school year and trusting with you that He will work for their good in all things. Much love

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