Friday Prayer, February 17, 2017

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Photo by Lori Archer Raible

I feel out of rhythm in this season of much change – moving to a new city, travel to see family, the continued journey of pregnancy and how that slows – yet steadies – my gait. It can become so easy to keep “pushing” for everything, and not realize how tired we are becoming in the process. Perhaps you can relate…

Though my focus has been anything but centered and my soul/spirit check-in’s sporadic, I feel humbled and grateful for God’s steady presence. God’s faithfulness can be that anchoring root system even as our branches stretch in all new directions…even as some leaves die and new leaves bud. Slowly, slowly we find open space to process all that’s been, to dream over what’s to come.

***

Holy God,

With hope and courage

we dig and intertwine our souls with your anchoring roots –

praising you as our protector, seeking you for daily strength and stability.

When we look back on our lives, God, we stand amazed at the ways you’ve worked before.

Such surprises.

Such faithfulness.

God, we are so grateful.

We cling to that promise of your steady presence and feel newly empowered by the memories of your presence in the past.

We need those memories, God, as we face the fresh storms before us –

major changes, illness, death of those we love, struggles in relationships, frustration over unchanging circumstances, anger at ourselves…

the things that rip limbs off, that leave us stark and bare.

But with each new year’s mercies,

a ring grows within our trunk –

some thick from lush seasons,

some faint and thin from times of drought.

We continue to grow and become,

all through your grace

keeping our roots where they need to be.

Amen.

 

Something A Little Different – “Casting Lots”

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Blessings, friends. I’ve  been in the swirl of moving preparations as our family anticipates a season of much transition. Sometimes, my only prayer is to try and have a blank, peaceful mind when I can get out in the cold, fresh air for a (slow, pregnant), jog. I have been reminded this week that calm and security is always within us – what a hopeful promise that is. Even when our external circumstances ‘heave and ho,’ we can find deep within ourselves that still sanctuary.

Just this week, my book review with Christian Century was published – a book I read this past summer called, Casting Lots. It is such a powerful book, my friends. Written by Susan Silverman, it’s a memoir centering on adoption, but so much more.

Anyone with a complicated, messy life and family—namely, all of us—will find a home in Silverman’s story. Grief and joy, trust and despondency, brutality and compassion all speak their piece. Silver­man doesn’t try to tidy up the paradox. She shows us how to live within it, pointing us to the life that is truly life.

You can read the review here.

Joy and grace over each of you and your weekend. Remember, the calm and security lie within….

 

 

 

Friday Prayer, January 6, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

“I, the Lord, have called you for a good reason…” Isaiah 42:6

 Happy Epiphany, friends! Something I’ve been thinking about lately is the stretch and purpose of our breath – how our breathing, right here in this moment, is not just for our bodies and our own lives. Being pregnant right now, I consciously remind myself at times how each breath I draw in sustains now only my body and life, but the baby nestled within. When my lungs fill with life, so does Little Love’s. God’s interwoven our bodies so intimately that the life I inherit (new with every breath!) immediately channels to a purpose and beauty beyond myself.

But this has made me think about the ways this is true all the time, for each of us. The breath we receive from the Spirit (whose literally meaning in the ancient texts is “breath” or “air”) is never meant to sustain only our bodies. It’s to enliven us that we might bring life to the world around us – a gorgeous flow that cycles within then spreads beyond.

I remember hearing someone say, “If you’re breathing, that means there’s more right with you than wrong.” So we take heart, we give thanks, and we spread wide our arms so the breath can flow….

I wonder where the Spirit’s breath within you will go to bless today?

***

Spirit of Life,

Teach me to breathe…

to gulp with desperate surrender your life-giving energy,

not out of fear,

but because I am listening to my primal hungers

and rejoicing in them.

 

The breath you give me in this moment is a messenger,

telling me that right now,

I am reborn,

I am cared for,

I am called.

 

Charged with the call to channel my breath,

your life-force,

toward a gasping world.

 

Your breath never stops, and never returns empty.

It continuously flows to spread life and promise

if I will be a river rather than a dam.

 

If I listen, I will learn.

 

I will ride the wind of your breath now filling me,

letting it carry me away from my middle anchor

to the edges where I’ll

grow and glimpse

the purpose you have

for ever-evolving me.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, December 30, 2016

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Loving Creator,

You are the Creator of us, the Creator of the year before us, the Creator of the lives we hold each day.

You have called us, God, to be creators too – to grace the little space around us with beauty;

to instill peace and hope wherever we may go.

 

We pray that we will do that in a rich way this year, God.

 

As we try to get our bearings for the new year we’re also accepting Christmas as over.

The trees have long since been taken to the curb.

Decorations are put away.

Our hearts are sad after saying goodbye to family, making our way through leftovers in the refrigerator, and seeing the streets grow dimmer with fewer and fewer Christmas lights.

And yet, good Creator, you are still creating!

The exciting journey has now begun!

Trees and Christmas lights and leftovers aside,

Christ is born!

Christ is with us!

The journey is in motion, being created as we go, as we follow the One born to us.

O God, the journey can be so hard, but you have promised that you’re with us and that these waters, these rivers, this fire, will not overwhelm us.

We love you and commit to following this journey with you – not knowing where it leads, but knowing you are with us.

Give us trusting hearts.

Give us courageous hearts.

In your goodness we pray, Amen.

 

Friday Prayer, December 23, 2016

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Blessings, friends. I wrote the following prayer for an at-home-worship resource people can use on Christmas Day (since it falls on Sunday this year!). Some congregations here in Fort Wayne will not be having services that day, and my friend and colleague thought an at-home service for people would be a great idea (thanks for organizing this, Kathleen!). If you’re interested in downloading the worship service, go here.

I’ve been thinking about all the ways God has stretched me this year, making room in my heart and my trust for new life. As many of you know, this is happening both physically and spiritually. I am due with our second baby (whom we’ve nicknamed “Little Love”) in June and our family will be leaving Fort Wayne and moving to Wilmette, IL at the end of January. My husband will start a new pastoral call at First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette. For now, I continue to focus on the ministries of motherhood and writing.

As you allow God to create space in you and your life for Christ’s birth, may you find yourself filled with exceeding hope for the new year. We need it.

Merry Christmas, friends.

***

Lord Jesus,

You’ve asked us to be a womb for you this Advent – to be a space where your love grows and your grace expands.

You’ve asked us to let the sides of our souls stretch that we might become large with your promise.

Being a womb for you has pushed us to the outermost rim of who we are.

You’ve asked us to extend ourselves with difficult family members.

You’ve called us to care for children that push us to a completely new level of selflessness.

You’ve softened our gritted teeth in tough phone calls, all while our souls groaned with growth.

In the pain, you enlarged us.

In the swelling, you dwelt within us.

And when we questioned whether we could make any more room in ourselves or our lives for you – the One who asks everything of us – your spirit brought us forward in its quiet, miraculous way.

You whispered our hollowing was for a yet greater filling.

And now today, Lord Jesus, you are born.

Born in us, born to us, born for us.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, Immanuel.

            Amen.

 

Practicing Families Post – Friday, December 9, 2016

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Happy and Holy Advent, my friends. I wrote a guest post for the “Practicing Families” blog today, and since you know it’s my rhythm to write prayers for Fridays and they asked me to post on a Friday, I decided to do a “parent’s prayer for Advent.” I would add, however, this prayer can be fitting for anyone who finds herself or himself spinning and hustling in these weeks leading up to Christmas. Instead of resting in the glorious mystery of it all, we can so easily spell out even more expectations and to-do’s for ourselves. Take time to rest in your enoughness this season because that’s what the manger is – a place to rest in the complete, all-encompassing love of Christ.

If you want to see the original post, please visit Practicing Families.

Lord Jesus,

I now stop what I’m doing,

what I’m thinking,

what I’m scrambling to plan,

and hustling to finish so that I can

be here.

Be here in the safety and warmth of your love.

This love that holds me fast and keeps me grounded.

What I want to be a season of joy for my children so quickly becomes a season of increased expectations for me –

not because they expect things, but because I do.

It’s the pressure I put on myself to

make things perfect,

and memorable,

and happy,

and *special*.

But you came to me amidst darkness and stars –

reminding me how darkness and light are most beautiful together.

And in that holy, mysterious and messy night you re-defined perfection,

promising me that leaning into the mystery

and laying down in loving awe

composed the most beautiful response.

You tell me the best gift I can give my children this Christmas is

to look with love into their eyes.

To pause throughout the day to pray over them.

To envelop them with arms of fierce grace when I feel most frustrated or annoyed.

To sit in wonder for a moment (or many)

and marvel at all that shaped our family this year.

To give thanks

and allow tears to fall

and dreams to rise.

To take my pilgrim band by their hands and walk together,

deep into the heart of Bethlehem shining bright within our souls.

This will be more than enough,

Because you’ve made a manger in which my heart

will rest and find your heartbeat becoming mine.

Amen.

 

Friday Prayer, December 2, 2016

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Holy and beautiful Spirit,

In this first week of Advent, we are longing for peace.

Our hearts hunger for peace in our families, peace in our neighborhoods and cities, peace between nations, peace for our mother earth, peace in the quiet depths of our own souls.

Parts of us feel raw, Lord. We are ripped open by the painful divides we’ve faced this year – violence on our streets and in our conversations toward each other. We’ve had friends complete suicide, and members of our family sentenced to prison. Some of our families were newly cracked by divorce or the agreement finalized. One of the dearest people to us died, and others of us passed that pivotal one-year-anniversary. We had to leave the house we loved because our job relocated or the money wasn’t there anymore. We uncovered a shocking revelation about someone we loved, and we weren’t sure what to do or who to trust.

Our greatest fears have actualized before our very eyes, and groans and tears became a new language. The landscape of life forever changed…

This year has racked us, God.

And so the peace for which we long this Advent season, Lord, is the peace that holds us in wholeness when we’re carrying grief or heartache or chaos or tumultuous questions. When what’s most precious to us was swept away in one, swift wave, or the world’s teeming with so much noise and busyness we can’t hear ourselves think.

We ask you, Spirit of Advent hope, to blow a breath of balm upon the wounds. To lead us in our risk to trust you, and in that risk, experience healing. May your breath bring peace that passes understanding as it strengthens our bodies, renews our minds, and heals our land.

We thank you that peace is not a dream, but a promise.

We pray in the name of Jesus, our Giver of Peace. Amen.