Thankfully, it’s finally nearing the end of the school year. But that’s exactly what made the email I received just a few days ago that much more disturbing.

It was an email asking the various teachers, specialists and aides who supervise and interact with Mark throughout the day to email us (his parents) should he show any “unusual” behavior.

This should be a given for any child. It should be standard practice. But especially so for a child with extensive medical concerns and special needs such as Mark. That’s exactly why I’ve been requesting this back and forth communication since the beginning of the school year.

Yet this email directive just went out—literally 12 days before school is out. So, yeah. Talk about far too little done way too late.

As I felt my cheeks start to burn red with anger, I tried to temper it quickly. After all, I was grateful that we’d managed to avoid any major health crises or behavioral issues. On the other hand, I felt my anger (and frustration) was justified. I didn’t—and I still don’t—think that open lines of communication is too much to ask for.

But there’s nothing to be done about it now other than prepare to absolutely demand it next school year.

But in the middle of my anger, I heard a holy reminder, too: Don’t make God wait to hear from me, either. And as I ate a big ol’ piece of humble pie, the color—and heat—from my cheeks began to slowly fade away.

It’s a fact for me. When I’m suffering, stressed out or challenged in some way, I almost always spend more time in prayer and pouring over Scripture than when I’m not. And while this is a personal tendency, it shouldn’t be. God deserves my time, heart and attention at all times—not just when I feel I need Him because the truth is I always need Him.

I’m not proud of this, but I get busy. I get caught up in the day-to-day rush of running a household, working and parenting two boys. But I (honestly) don’t want to be too busy for God. Nor do I want to simply try to “fit” Him in. I recognize the (desperate) need for change. That’s half the battle, right?

But I don’t want to leave this change to chance. Change doesn’t just happen. It takes work, work I’m willing to put in. So, to help myself I’ve created an unobtrusive, but beautiful visual reminder. It’s a string of four simple beads clipped onto my purse. I see the beads every time I go to put something into or pull something out of my purse, every time I leave the house and return home, every time I’m sitting at my desk.

The beads remind me to talk to God. Sometimes it’s a short prayer of gratitude. Other times, it’s a request for guidance. Still other times, it’s just humble yet incredibly grateful acknowledgment that I’m never alone.

If you’re curious why four beads, there’s a good reason. Each bead stands for one part of a personal prayer acronym I’ve created:

Praise God and reflect on His character (Psalm 148:1-10).
Repent and seek His forgiveness (Acts 3:19).
Ask God to meet your needs with humility and gratitude (Matthew 7:11).
Yield to His will and walk in His ways (Proverbs 16:9).

I personally thrive under structure, so having this 4-step prayer pattern helps me structure my prayers in accordance with the example Jesus set for all of us in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). And having the four beads on my purse is just a visual reminder to talk to God throughout my day, not just at predetermined or “when it’s convenient” times.

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