Tag Archives: prayer

Levis and Hijabs

30698037_10155553271969077_4312443565172064256_nImagine walking into the 9/11 memorial next to a vibrant, first-generation New Yorker who is dressed head to toe in traditional Muslim attire. Her hair is completely hidden beneath her hijab, and layers of loose-fitting clothes cover her wrists and ankles. She is twenty-one, bright and articulate. Her conversation, despite a slight accent, sounds much like that of any American college student as she complains about how hard Calculus Four is. We know Sushmita will make a fine secondary math teacher.

I want to know how she feels, as a Muslim woman, as she steps into this place, but I don’t want to pry. Finally I ask, “Were you old enough to remember 9/11?”

Sushmita explains that she was too young to understand what happened, but that she experienced the aftermath when she came to school in her traditional attire. The other children ostracized and bullied her. They called her “Osama’s daughter.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s okay.” My new friend smiled. “They carried much pain. They needed to release it.”

20180411_141302As this vivacious young woman walked through the memorial, it was obvious she carried much pain as well, not for how she was treated, but for tragic deaths of so many of her fellow New Yorkers. She stood for nearly thirty minutes listening to name after name, story after story, of New Yorkers who died that day. Long after I couldn’t take it anymore, she and my daughter lingered there, grieving. Honoring the ordinary people who suffered that day. Standing in solidarity with their friends and families.

I walked also with another new friend, Mina. Mina is a beautiful Afghan woman who has lived in the states for five years and recently applied for citizenship. Her grief was palpable, as was her concern for ours. I soon realized she didn’t experience the memorial as one who’d seen the devastation on TV like I had. She saw it through the lens of her life in Afghanistan, where such tragedy occurs on a regular basis.*

Often we asked each other, “Are you okay?”

“Yes. Are you?”

The time came when the grief flowed out in my new friend’s tears. For the people of 9/11, for the people in her homeland who daily face the fear of attack. She told me that every morning the first thing she does is check Facebook to see if her family in Afghanistan is alive. She is glad to be here with her husband and children. Safe from the daily fear of bombs. But her brother, her sisters, her loved ones in Afghanistan live daily with the very real possibility of tragedy.

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Mina pointed at two young women standing nearby, Sushmita and my daughter, Sarah.  In broken English she explained that at any moment a bomb could explode between them, taking half of each of their bodies. She pointed to her hand and talked of a friend who no longer had a finger. Another who no longer had an arm.

We were women together that day. An American team with their new friends from another culture. Grief and love bound us together, weaving through the varied experiences that brought us to this place and the shared experience of the moment. Before and after this time we would laugh together. But in this space we wept as one.

Please pray for Mina and Shusmita. That love will bind their wounds. Pray for their struggle as they press forward in their desire to live as free Americans who come to this land to love and be loved.  Please pray for the safety of their families in their countries of origin, the loved ones who face great uncertainty every day.

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Blessings,

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*Today’s heart-breaking story from Kabul, Afghanistan.  As I work on this blog, I text with my friend Mina. She sends me pictures of this tragedy, and once again we cry together, her from her home in NYC, me from mine in Denver. Two women. Hearts forever joined.

Ok . . . Just a Note About that Last Author

Maybe I’ll share just one thing about the author in A Bouquet of Brides who I chose not to introduce this week: me. You know plenty about me already, right? And my writing journey has been so entwined with several of the authors in this collection, that you got bits of my story as I talked about them. But I want to share one more thing. This:

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Why that picture?

Because God sent these angels to hold me together on my writing journey, to walk with me into greater personal freedom, and to cheer me on in my calling.

It’s my prayer group, and we’re beginning our 7th year of meeting regularly. We call ourselves the Council of Kings. We believe that God has a destiny and a kingdom for each of us. (Not just in this group. For you too.)

I love you Deb, Kathy, Margie, and Jill. As I move forward in the writing and speaking the Lord is calling me to do, I’m grateful for the support God has given me by His Spirit and through loved ones.

Which means I need to add one more picture. It’s not easy having a writer for a wife or mom. She can get really distracted and disappear for hours. Her income is sporadic. Her tears come often. But these special people fill my heart with joy even on the hard days.

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Until Next time,

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Easter Devotion ~What Have I Done?

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Free clip art from here.

Don’t you realize how patient he is being with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance. ~ Romans 2:4 (TLB)

One of the gifts of the last year is a part-time job the Lord gave me as a paid singer in the Soli Dei church choir. Not being raised in a liturgical tradition, I’ve enjoyed the rhythms of the church calendar and being exposed to another style of worship.

Since my husband and I attend a community church with multiple services, most weeks I’m honored to worship at the Lutheran church with my friends in the choir as well as with my family at our home church.

Oh how I love worship music of all styles! I’m as comfortable in my choir robe as I am rocking out to the drums of our home church. I’ve also been known to slip away to a nearby charismatic church to enjoy worship dance or to head to another part of town and enjoy the pageantry at a friend’s Catholic Church. God’s people are everywhere, and there is great delight in joining with them in worship of our shared King.

It is due to this part-time job that I attended the Ash Wednesday service I’ve talked about in the last two devotions. My sweet Jesus also used the music of this job to break through my turmoil and finish the work of repentance in my heart.

The railing I mentioned yesterday was grounded in anger at God. I simply didn’t like how He was handling my life. I was tired of hardship. When He dug up the lie on that Thursday, I didn’t immediately repent. I spent two days thrashing about in confusion and anger. The wrestling with God allowed my processing to take the lie to its deepest places to be more fully uprooted. It needed to be banished once and for all, no stone unturned!

By Saturday morning I was spent.

Exhausted, I hauled myself out of bed for a three-hour Easter music rehearsal. Entering the choir room is entering a beautiful community. And in that sacred assembly of fellow believers with voices lifted in song the same Spirit who inspired the great composers of long ago took their music, reached across centuries, and stilled my heart. It started with Mendelssohn’s healing melody as we sang, “Grant us thy peace so graciously.”* The music swelled to fill the rehearsal space and the space of my soul. Weary of the questioning, the wrestling, my words became a prayer. Oh how I needed peace. Yes, Lord, grant me peace.

My heart then broke with an allegory by Tchaikovsky called “The Crown of Roses (Legend).” We sang, “The boy said humbly; ‘Take, I pray, All but the naked thorns away.’ Then of the thorns they made a crown, and with rough fingers pressed it down . . .” The Lord’s sacrifice is no children’s story. The harsh words, barbed whip, and thorned crown really did pierce His body and soul. And like the humble boy in the song, He allowed it. The God-man received the whip, the scorn, the cross, and succumbed to a cruel death.

But it was Richard Shephard’s “Good Friday Reproaches” the Spirit used to cleanse me of the last vestiges of anger and distrust. Our director, Andy, is committed to communicating the message of the pieces he chooses, and this piece has a particularly emotive refrain. For at least ten minutes we sang two sentences: “My people what wrong have I done to you? What good have I not done for you?”

Over and over those words echoed and reverberated in the rehearsal hall. Andy encouraged reflective word emphasis, dynamics, leaning into the text, making it spark with emotion and meaning.

My people what wrong have I done to you?

What good have I not done for you?

Part of repentance is to feel regret.

I’d been rethinking my life. Struggling to let go of the sin of unbelief and to change my way of thinking. Now I ached with regret. It was as if Christ Himself spoke to me in that refrain, and then the Spirit whispered a line from another song I’d heard. “But tell me now, where was my fault in loving you with my whole heart?”**

I felt Him. “What wrong have I done to you?” He gently questioned. “Tell Me where is My fault in loving you with My whole heart? What good have I not done for you?”

As I sang with my lips I confessed with my heart, “Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus. I’m sorry. You’ve done nothing but love and give. Like a selfish child who doesn’t get her way I’ve ignored Your sacrifice and accused You of not loving me well.”

It’s amazing how tender He is even when He calls for repentance, how even in asking us to rethink our attitudes and behaviors He floods us with a magnitude of love.

My friend, do you hear it too? The heart cry of Jesus, the One who gave all for us? Do you hear Him whisper, “What wrong have I done? What good have I withheld? Where can you fault Me? I’ve loved you with all I have.”

The enemy constantly tries to confuse God’s people and steal their joy. The vile whisper reverberates, saying God withholds from us, that His love is not to be trusted.

But where is fault in the One who spread His arms and gave all?

He left the splendor of heaven

Knowing his destiny

Was the lonely hill of Golgotha

There to lay down His life for me

If that isn’t love

The ocean is dry

There’s no stars in the sky

And the sparrow can’t fly

If that isn’t love

Then heaven’s a myth

There’s no feeling like this

If that isn’t love***

Thank You, Jesus. I am undone by Your selfless love. You have no fault. All is done from love. You withhold no good thing.

*”Verleih Uns Frieden (Grant Us Thy Peace)”, text by Martin Luther, translated to English by Andrew Halladay. Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy PMApprov2-01

**From “White Blank Page” by Mumford and Sons

***“If That Isn’t Love” by Dottie Rambo

(Devotion taken from Soul Scents: RootedSoul Scents: Rooted is specially priced this week only. The Kindle version is 99 cents through Tuesday, then increases by $1 every day until it reaches its regular price of $4.99. If you prefer the paperback version, email me for special instructions on how to get a discount.)

Soul Scents: Awaken, Book 1 in the series, is free on Kindle today and tomorrow!

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Resuscitation

After my last post Tom said, “Write and God will follow your writing.” breath

I read his comments a few times, letting them sink into my hungry, dry soul.

Then it hit me. “God will follow your writing.” Suddenly I grinned, imagining that one of the “followers” of this blog is God Himself.

Then I realized the truth of that imagining.

God does. He follows my blog! He was first and most important follower to grace it with His notice. Anyone else who reads comes after.

I knew this, but I didn’t. I know now. Differently.

And somehow everything I do here seems more important.

Validated.

I once again find my courage.

Because even if I’m afraid to write for you I’m am not afraid to write for Him.

HE sees.

HE cares.

When there is not one single comment or facebook share or new follower, when I fear I’m just rambling about my life and that my words will not resonate with anyone, He still cares.

He is my first reader.

And do you know what? He likes my rambling, my attempts at humor, my efforts to be artistic. He even likes the posts that are not deep or creative or even particularly interesting.

He likes them because I’m His, and Good Daddys care about the stuff their daughters do.

Are interested in what they create.

Want to know what pours from their hearts.

It doesn’t seem so scary now that I remember Who my Primary Audience is. I can quit trying to figure this blog out, stifled because I’m not sure what it’s all about since the focus is no longer primarily weight loss. I can let the scattered thoughts, all pieces of myself, just sprinkle forth, pouring out in whatever form is revealed.

Because HE wants to see my next post.

Pours His water upon me, lets me drink, and watches what spills over onto this screen.

Droplets.

Rivers maybe.

The prayers I requested in my last post? I think they are already pushing back the clouds. I feel the Son peeking in and illuminating the Way.

Please keep breathing on behalf of my writing life, blowing against that fog that’s been trying to hide the way out. The fog that’s swirled and thickened, heavy upon my heart, weighing it down. The fog full of voices that I shouldn’t listen to, voices that try to cloak their origin, try to convince me they are truth instead of folly.

Please keep that God-breath coming my friends.

I am being resuscitated.

Until Next Time,

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Letting Go (Again)

IMAG0129The house is empty except for me.

After all the bustle, all the people, all of the cooking and feeding and talking, I am exhausted.

But more than that, the Mommy heart once again has to say goodbye.

I awoke to my youngest son rushing out the door for his first “real” job. My husband left before that. The other boys (men, really) drove away yesterday to face the grind of a semester end and finals week. My daughter is with her husband.

The only sound I hear is the gentle hum of my laptop.

It would be easier to say goodbye if my boys had looked eager to leave. My oldest worked on a major paper until the minute he drove away, his stress levels palpable. My middle son is farther from home, too far for a quick weekend visit. He is where God has called him, (I know this!) but he is lonely. He said one of the things he missed most was an environment where spiritual conversations happen. That it is very dry where he is.

That it was hard to go back.

I suppose the tears slipping from my eyes have dual prompts. I miss him terribly, but I also cry for him, for the path he now walks, mostly alone.

Never alone. Because I have given him to the One who never leaves or forsakes.

But beyond the reach of Momma’s arms.

But never beyond the reach of Momma’s prayers.

Whew.

And so I’ll keep praying.

A friend told me, “Transitioning from under the wings of God at one’s parents’ house can be hard as children emerge into adulthood. It’s taking what was safe and “belonged” to mom and/or dad and making it your own, then trying to integrate it into the bold-faced truth of life. It’s almost like they have to learn how to walk again. A lot of the times they slip and fall or, if they’re tired of the bumps and bruises, decide to try another path. But God IS faithful and promises us this: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

This is right. It is so right–the moving out and beyond. I want them to be established. Independent. Strong.

My son can’t see his growth yet, but I do. He is emerging, growing into the skin of manhood he long ago donned. The foundation–for good or not, I pray for good–is laid. And now he builds.

Not me and dad.

Each child now adult chooses which bricks will make the man or woman.

I can no longer control. I can no longer choose for them.

Even my advice must be offered sparingly and with prayerful timing. Some personalities receive it more quickly than others.

It is my job to be wise about when and what I share with them. If I give them the freedom to be adults, they allow me the advice-giving. If I push too hard, their ears close.

Which is as it should be.

Really, it is not my life to build. I no longer pour the concrete, frame the structure.

It is their turn.

I survive this because they are not alone. The One who watches and sees, the One who promises to complete that which He started, is overseeing the process. And while my children still choose, there is a hand upon theirs helping them lift the right bricks. There is a whisper in their hearts directing their choices.

Thankfully, those kids have a lot of wisdom.

Still, there will be days they turn from the whisper, pick up a brick unsuited, nail the wrong board. But He will be there then, too. He is overseer. He will see the structure is solid.

And I will pray.

I will call out to the only One who can be with them forever. The only one who cares more than their dad and I do. The only One who makes any of us stand strong.

I hope the bricks I would not choose for them will be far and few between, but I will not despair when they come. Because all is never lost. I entrusted each of these precious children into the hands of the Faithful One when I could still cradle them in my arms. I entrust them to Him now.

He never falters.

He never wrings his hands wondering what to do.

He never gives up.

He always loves and builds.

He promised to finish the good work He started.

In me.

In them.

And so I’ll cry a little. Pray a lot.

And learn to let go.

 

 

 

Dedicated to the Creators

You enter into holy ground when you create ~ Allen Arnold

~To all my blogging buddies, author friends, and artistic companions~

I didn’t craft the following prayer. Allen Arnold did. It washed over me, a waterfall of grace. I had to transcribe it onto my computer. Copy it by hand into my journal. Share it with you. 

Creator God,

You knit me together in my mother’s womb. You created me with this unique passion to create. You invited me into this calling, so breathe into me your presence here.

You’ve broken my chains. You’ve rescued me from the desert.

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This is not about me. This is not up to me. Slay my striving. Replace my productivity with your presence. Help me not look to the world for inspiration but to your imagination filled with truth, goodness, nobility, grace, and love.

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Help me not to look to the world for validation for you have given me this calling, and you have given me my identity. I am first your son,

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your daughter.

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I consecrate this identity to you. My creativity to you. My heart to you. And my life to you. Reign over it all.

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I hunger for you God—your mystery, your wildness, your holiness. We get to do this together. To create with words. Stories of freedom, of healing, of adventure, of hope. I want to run with you, ride with you, write with you, sing with you, create with you.

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May our time be blazing with light and life. I cast out the enemy and any spirits of distraction, despair, or disheartenment. The enemy has no place in the process of creation. He is the author of lies. You are the author of life.

Grant me your peace. Grant me your presence. Your peace casts out fear. Your presence means I’m never alone. God, if you’re not in this let’s call the whole process off. I don’t want to do it without you.

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May my face glow from your presence. Let me taste your goodness.

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Give me a glimpse of the eternal stories and images only seen by those in the kingdom of heaven.

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May my creation reflect you as the Creator.

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May my calling reflect you as the caller. May the works of my hands make you smile. And last, may we do this together, Father.

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In the name of Jesus I give you me.

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Prayer by Allen Arnold. Taken from a speaking series by Allen Arnold, writer and speaker, given at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference

Water Under the Floor

It’s not earth-shattering, Lord.

It’s not death or disease.

But even such a little thing can feel like destruction.

Even such a little thing is an assault on your gifts.

And they were your gifts.

In a time of financial empty you gave them to me, one at a time, over the long season of want.

A dishwasher and a new floor.

Both hand-me-down gifts that looked brand new.

I should have paid closer attention when something didn’t seem right in front of the dishwasher. Why did I wait until the beautiful floor seemed to buckle before sounding the alarm?

My heart dropped as the dishwasher was pulled from the cabinets and we saw the gush of water.

I cried as we began pulling up my beautiful floor, one long gorgeous board at a time.

We don’t live in financial nothingness now. But we’re still unprepared for this expense in this season of college bills and baseball teams.

Habit has long taught me to worry at such times.

But it has also taught me to give my worries to you.

That floor was your promise to me that all that was wrong in my home could be provided for in a snap when you chose to move.

Not only were the boards themselves a gift, the labor of love, the weekend of friendship was from you, too.

But hanging onto the gratitude is a bit testy while I watch my gorgeous floor boards crumble from the wet, smell the rank of saturated sub floor.

I’m not sure how to deal with this, Lord.

Even if there are enough scraps in the garage for the repairs, we don’t know how to cut and lay them.

And there is the issue of the gaping hole where a dishwasher used to be.

(I’m not thrilled about doing the volume of dishes we go through by hand, Lord.)

I want to fight through to gratitude and hope and praise and faith.

After all, if you cared enough to give me these gifts back then, isn’t such still important to you now?

The floor that my sweet family has walked upon, where I have fed precious children meal after meal. The room I’ve opened to guests, no matter how we had to crowded around my small table.

You care about my floor.

You care about my dishwasher.

You own the cattle on a thousand hills. This is not even pennies to you, this repair, this new provision.

Guilt whispers to remember all I have in this land of America. That I have dishes. Food to put in them. A comfortable home, pretty floor or not. Guilt says I should not care so much about such things as broken appliances and broken beauty.

But you’ve been showing me that your voice isn’t guilt.

You teach me to care about others, look for ways to serve and give, but not to pretend I don’t care about my own needs because they seem petty compared.

My needs and desires are my own.

And they are important to you, the hopes of this mom in America, just the same as the hopes of a mother in Africa who today prays for more immediate, life-giving needs.

I won’t live in guilt. I won’t pretend I don’t feel this need.

I won’t live in the knee-jerk hopelessness and worry of the past.

I will live in faith of provision.

I will live in the Truth that You see and care.

I will remember the provisions of the past and look to the provisions of the future, no matter what form they take.

Friends, I started praying with pen and journal this morning, talking to the God who Loves about this issue (and others). But this little blog beckoned, this place where I’ve chosen to be vulnerable about the big things and small. This place where I’ve asked for prayer, and it has been given.

I’m not sure why I choose to share this mundane problem. Maybe because I so desire to take a stand for hope and faith and to it in front of the whole of the Internet seemed definitive. Maybe because I know some of your stories and how my little tales of provision have given you hope in your own long season of want. Maybe because I know some of you will whisper a prayer for my attitude and my provision. Maybe just because we’re journeying together, you and me, and this is today’s journey.

As I type I whisper a pray for your journey of this day. Whether issues are big or small assualt or whether it is a day of sheer ease, I ask Him to bless you, to provide for you, to show His love. I pray that you have hope and faith. That neither you or I try to ease the stress by stuff that never fixes anything, like pigging out on cheese dip and chips. ;o)

Until Next Time,

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