Friday Prayer, June 2, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Summer blessings, my friends. I hope and pray the earth’s greening and pending shifts in life routine are creating some breathing space in your soul.

I am now 36 weeks pregnant.  I feel it. Eden arrived at 37 1/2 weeks, and so there’s a chance this will be my temporary “signing-off” prayer for a period of time.

In the third trimester of my pregnancy with Eden, I developed severe Sacroiliac Joint pain. It completely stopped me in my tracks. And almost like clockwork, the pain descended again during this pregnancy journey at the exact same week and point. While trips to the chiropractor, yoga and “spinning babies” techniques are helping ease the pain, there was a stretch of time where I couldn’t even do the daily essentials.

I know so many of you, my friends, struggle with the burden of chronic pain. Maybe you have for years. My own pain in this last month has deepened my prayerfulness for you. How you inspire me with the brave and trusting way you walk the path everyday.

I’ve been reflecting on limitations and how I struggle within and against them. On how we can channel our breath toward the places in our bodies (or thoughts, or lives!) that pain us the most, and how that can be healing. And on how the more I can relax and breathe into my pain, rather than tense up and fight, the more centered I am in how I really want to live.

Feel my love and prayers with you in the weeks to come. How excited I am to share updates of new life soon.

 

***

 

Tender Holder

of my hurting body

and tired heart,

 

I still and settle my soul

in your hands, giving to you

the places of pain,

asking that you channel your breath through mine,

bringing balm and comfort –

even for a moment.

 

You softly tend with a

soothing Spirit to the

sharp spikes of pain, spearing their way with suddenness

and stealing my breath for a second.

 

You don’t leave me alone

to face my limitations.

You are teaching me to lean into them,

and find there a whole new depth of

sustaining grace.

 

With you, I can be whole even as I don’t feel healed.

I can rest in the cradling of your love while together we wait

for a mending of the muscles

and renewed strength in my heart.

 

This, too, will pass….

you promise.

 

And that is enough hope

to get me through today.

 

Amen.

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Friday Prayer, May 19, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Lord Jesus,

 

How blessed I am to have your love,

your peace,

your reassurance –

you give me the comfort I need to live my hardest days.

 

How blessed I am, God, to have your strength,

your courage,

your self-control –

you give me the determination I need to make tough decisions and follow through.

 

How blessed I am, God, to have your grace,

your forgiveness,

your promise of new life –

you give me the mercy I need to say, ‘I’ll make different choices today’ –

and then do so.

 

You see me, God, as I truly am –

that core within me that’s been there

since I was a baby and blossomed as a child.

It’s a core so buried beneath all of these…layers.

A layer of responsibility here and

layer of image there,

plus the layers of expectations

others place on me and

the layers of self-doubt and fear.

 

Please help mes shed the layers, God,

and return to the core.

 

Help me reclaim who I truly am – the person you’ve created me to be.

 

Help me live boldly,

speak confidently,

love unconditionally,

forgive readily, and

trust deeply.

 

Shape my life to match my soul.

 

Thank you, Lord Christ, for loving me I am –

may I embrace my true essence and your work for me today.

 

Amen.

 

Friday Prayer, May 12, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

Ecclesiastes 3:11 – God has made all things beautiful in their time….

Timing….

It impacts everything, doesn’t it? We can have a clear picture of what we want/need to happen in our lives, but find ourselves at a standstill because of timing. You’ve probably heard the quote, too, that “the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing…”

And yet, the waiting is so challenging. It requires every ounce of trust we can muster, and a daily decision to surrender (again!!!). I’m not speaking of resignation or passivity. Your soul, your prayers, your inner work still progress toward and believe in the hoped-for-end. But you are willing to let the necessary earlier steps have their place.

You let God’s hands hold things until God says, “your turn.”

And in the meantime, while God does God’s thing,

we can enjoy the beauty that’s already there….

***

God of all seasons,

You make all things beautiful in their time.

As I prepare to enter the weekend before me,

please open my soul, God, to the beauty –

the surprising beauty –

around me.

 

My prayer is that I will journey

through this day with an awareness bringing

gratitude,

celebration, and

fresh hope.

 

So often, God, I miss the beauty

or even blind to it when it’s before me.

Your blossoms can draw me in

from distraction.

 

May I witness your brightness in the greening earth and birds’ song

as well as the restaurant waiter or the child’s sidewalk chalk.

 

Help me journey through the seasons –

even the seasons within this day before me –

with a grace and a patience that makes others feel at home.

 

Loving God, I rest in you

and your working to make all things beautiful –

someday, somehow.

 

In the name of the One

who showed us true beauty in human life,

Amen.

 

Friday Prayer, May 5, 2017

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Taken on my run last week at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City, UT….

Where do you look for help?

When things are hard? When life feels overwhelming? When you can’t break free from the same debilitating thought patterns or behaviors that just won’t shake off?

My family I spent last weekend in the mountains of Utah while visiting my brother and sister-in-law. It was tangible therapy for my heart, soul, and bone. I went for a number of runs at a park nearby their home, and this was the scenery.

The steadiness of the mountains was such a grounding, restorative gift. After months of transition (which we continue to live into every day), I was reminded in a very physical way the source of my help. Where I can find my strength and my hope and my perseverance…

Psalm 121 has always been one of my favorite psalms. I return to it time and time again, and last week’s retreat with beloved family and steadfast mountains brought my soul to it once again.

Rather than write my own prayer this week, I want to share the words of this psalm. Perhaps we can all picture the mountains and in them, see the strong, resilient presence of God in our lives.

***

A Pilgrimage Prayer – Psalm 121 

I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
    Where will my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the maker of heaven and earth.
 God won’t let your foot slip.
    Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job.
 No! Israel’s protector
    never sleeps or rests!
 The Lord is your protector;
    the Lord is your shade right beside you.
 The sun won’t strike you during the day;
    neither will the moon at night.
 The Lord will protect you from all evil;
    God will protect your very life.[a]
 The Lord will protect you on your journeys—
    whether going or coming—
    from now until forever from now.

 

Friday Prayer, April 28, 2017

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From my time in Italy when I studied abroad in college (Fall 2005)….dreaming of Cinqueterre….

Spring blessings to each of you. I have always classified myself as a “fall” person – autumn was my favorite season with its rich hues, crisp running weather, and all-things-apple. But I realized something this year. My new favorite time of year is spring. The past few years, my soul’s been groaning with the earth for a re-birth and reminder of new life…of life that was growing beneath cold, hard dirt for months, seen only by God.

And so the blossoms and buds are tangible hope to my heart right now. I am opening anew to the promises of God that I might blossom myself. And you are too.

Along the lines of budding growth, I read something this week causing me to understand Jesus’ words about the “vine and the branches” in a very different way.

In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will bear much fruit.”

In the past, I’ve read this as the connection each of us has to God – that by being connected to God, we are rooted in our Love Source. Our lives blossom into outpourings of this love because of our connection to the Vine.

What my reading this week challenged and convicted me to consider, though, was how this analogy of the Vine speaks to our connection not just with Christ, but with each other. And to go one step further, to people we even don’t like.

What if, by claiming connection to Christ, we are then inherently linked to others? To all others? To the people we are struggling to love and the people who frustrate us and the people who make purposeful choice after choice away from goodness?

Christ draws each of us – just as we are – to himself, and so if we are branched with Christ, then we are with one another too.

Recognizing this is exactly where God wants us to start.

***

Loving Christ,

Your love force flows through me –

through each of these branches,

your branches.

Even as I struggle to see and love the goodness in another,

your life current nourishes us

with the same sustenance.

 

Maybe my first step

is to simply live into our connection

through you.

 

To unfurl my leaves, soak in the sun, the rainfall,

and in doing this,

open my heart to you

and every single other….

 

To keep all veins open

for transformative possibilities

that come not through my own doing,

but through being connected with you –

the One who can and does

bring connection where we

never thought possible.

 

Today, I will celebrate being a part of

the Vine, and rest in the

work you will do.

You only ask me to stay connected.

You will do the rest.

 

Amen.

Friday Prayer, April 14, 2017

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Photo by Lori Archer Raible

On this Good Friday, friends, I’m praying you find a centered, close sense of God with you…especially if that feeling’s been a distant one for quite some time. These holy days hold different layers of meaning for each of us. The shared beauty is the great Love that reaches out.

It’s embracing you right now.

***

O God,

We reach out for you on this Good Friday – this day of grief, desperation, and seeming hopelessness…

this day of weakness…

this day that will bring scars.

O Jesus, have mercy on us.

For the ways we turn away from your pain;

for the blindness we choose over seeing;

for the judgment we harbor toward the ones you’ve called us to love;

for our unwillingness to change…

O Jesus, have mercy on us.

There is no place more spacious than your heart.

May we hold your hand, God, as we go through the darkness of these days before the light of Easter morning.

In the name and love of Jesus, whose life brings life to all,

Amen.

Friday Prayer, March 31, 2017

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Photo by Susanne Moorman Rowe

“God put a new song in my mouth…” ~ Psalm 40:3

“New songs” often come through new circumstances. Hard circumstances. Times that call us to open ourselves and our lives to change, giving the Spirit fresh space to move and create. We can find a sort of comfort in the monotony of chords and words we’ve always sung, but God wants to create a new melody in us – stretching our voices, bringing us to fresh ranges of explored sound and experience. And in our new melodies, other voices (sometimes unexpected) may join in.

Will we give God the voices of our lives and surrender ourselves to a glorious symphony?

***

Loving God of all life,

On our hearts is the familiar tune, “Take My Life…” It is our prayer today, God,

                        Take my life and let it be

                        Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

                        Take my moments and my days;

                        Let them flow in ceaseless praise,

                        Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Oh God, we ask that you take all we are – our hands, our feet, our voices, our lips, our silver and gold, our intellect, our will, our hearts, our love, our very selves…wrap us into a chorus of ceaseless praise.

You are continually offering us all of you, and we seek to return the gift. You, the One who provides us daily bread and daily love, are the Source of all we are and all we truly need.

As we offer you our very selves we offer you the deepest prayers of our hearts – even the prayers for which we cannot form words. Thank you for hearing them.

We are prayerful today, God, for those who have recently faced difficult diagnoses. Words like “Parkinsons,” “Cancer,” “Stroke,” “Relapse”….

We are prayerful today, God, for those who have faced relational rejection and disappointment, hearing cutting phrases like, “I’m done,” “Leave me alone,” and “I’ve moved on.”

We are prayerful today, God, for those who have faced a bottoming out in self-esteem, holding questions like, “Why can’t I…,” “Will I ever…,” “Who cares for me?”  O God, hold us in the fear and steady us in the darkness of these words, these phrases, these questions.

Please, Spirit, form our lives into a song today –

a song that will soothe those in need of comfort,

a song that will uplift those in need of hope,

a song that will strengthen those in need of refreshment.

Take us, Lord – all of us.

In the love of the One who gave everything, Amen.