Tag Archives: prayer

“Cultivation”…

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My life is full of a lot of very good things right now. After I count down from my husband and three vibrant children, there is an elementary school musical, my writing (that is just humming along), and my job. I count myself fortunate that I get to call my job, my ministry, too, and the stellar team of people who are my coworkers, my close friends.

You can find one of my coworker’s blog at aslanslibrary.wordpress.com. (Sarah, can you see me?)

She’s rather brilliant and we share an ambition for creating new beautiful things. If we can’t find something we like our mantra is “write our own”! Over Christmas we created our own Jesse Tree devotional. She wrote the words and I drew the icons to go on the twenty-four paper ornaments leading up to Christmas.

For Lent we are working on a prayer booklet. Praying together as a church, everything we do tries to cover the broad range between families and singles, children and adults. For adults, the booklet alone, for families we printed the prayers on dark purple strips of paper for children to make chains with over the forty days.

The cover of the prayer booklet has been a conundrum. I had contacted a friend that has some amazing stations of the cross prints, but he couldn’t scan them in time. Words alone would work. It would be fine. But I love images. And I had already staunchly stated that I would NOT be doing any artwork for it.

But, as I was proofreading our Children’s Ministry newsletter, I read Sarah’s beautiful words:

“Many of us find prayer difficult or downright discouraging: are we doing it right? How do you find time, anyway? It doesn’t feel like anything is happening! My children are wiggling, I’m distracted, and honestly it feels more productive to get up and empty the dishwasher. And yet: it is in prayer — the messy, uncomfortable, imperfect spaces we carve out and share with God — that the Creator of the universe settles in close and breathes new life into us. When we pray, we remember again that we are creatures, dependent on the one who made us. Prayer is the fertile ground out of which all of our action grows.”

Perhaps it was the word “carve” or the image of “fertile ground”, at any rate, I began to consider this print. I drew it over and over until I understood it. And then I managed to find a couple of hours in this crazy long weekend to carve it out.

Here is “Cultivation”. It is six layers of soil, like the six Sundays of Lent, laid out on top of each other in preparation for the new life of Eastertide. It is also the desert of Jesus’ forty days of prayer (see the five stones?) before the action of ministry. Together in Lent we will journey with Jesus to Jerusalem (see Jerusalem up there in the corner?) accompanying God’s “upside-down king — who says NO to power and glory, who helps lost people find their way home, who surrounds himself with people who are humble and unimportant” (more of Sarah’s words!) to claim a cross that looks nothing like the throne we would want or expect.

cultivation-print-image

Broad Places…

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Today this verse is resonating with me. Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a broad place…” The psalm talks about rescue. I have never been pursued by a hoard bent on my blood, as David was rescued from. But I do know the sensation of drowning in the details of my circumstances. I know the feeling of suffocating in the overwhelming hum of demands, fears, and anxieties. It’s amazing how each one, small enough on its own, works together to create my own hoard of personal daily demons. Even a house-mom needs rescue. Even a part-time working mom with three healthy babies enjoys the promise of broad places. I want to have these broad places inside me where my situation can’t touch them. I want to walk around with this expansiveness inside my chest.

In Which my French Comes in Handy…

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My New Year’s resolutions tend to be rather random and specific.  A couple of years ago I resolved to replace every plain white pair of underwear in my drawer with a fun pair.  That drawer is now a veritable rainbow.  The year after that I resolved to not wear T-shirts anymore (and I mean the ratty ones) on a daily basis.  They would, henceforth, be relegated exclusively to bedtime wear.  This year I said a simple prayer sometime in early January,

“Lord, by the end of this year I’d like to have a friend who wears a hijab.”

I prayed it a few times over the course of the week.  Motherhood is isolating enough.  Add an urban setting, a language barrier, and such a visible testament to strong religious beliefs and I imagine it must be lonelier still.  I wanted to know these women underneath the scarves with whom I must share so much as a mother in the city.

And wouldn’t you know, today it happened.

I met a mother at the park.  I almost never go to this park anymore. I began asking about her daughter who was playing with my son in the sandbox.

“I’m sorry,” she said, stumbling through her English, “You don’t by any chance speak French?”

“Mais, oui!” I said.

And so began a long conversation with nervous laughter, patience, and a lot of hand movements as we moved between French and English, talked about our husbands, and about Ramadan starting next week and how hard it is to feed the kids and not eat yourself.

Halfway through this conversation in the middle of June I remembered my New Year’s prayer.  Of course, this begs the question, which came first, the prayer or the plan to bring this woman into my life?  Which prepared the way for which?

It turns out she lives directly across the street from me.  We chatted until dinnertime.  She kissed my cheeks and welcomed me into her home.  I welcomed her into mine and asked if she liked tea.  We will see each other again.

I’m so glad for random prayers, new friends, and three kids who were going so crazy this afternoon I had to get off my butt and take them to the park.  God even finds joy in using my crazy kids. What do you know?

A Prayer for Mother’s Day…

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Heavenly Father, Jehovah God, from whom your whole family in heaven and on Earth derives its name, we thank you for motherhood. We thank you for what it reminds us about who you are.

We thank you that you understood first the joy of anticipating your perfect family.

We thank you that you understood first the pain of losing your perfect children to sin and death.

We thank you that you understood first the pregnant advent of centuries as your redemption formed.

We thank you that you understood first the pain of delivery in water and blood on the cross that those children might be born again to you.

We thank you that you pursued first the blessings and difficulties promised of adoption.

We thank you that you modeled first a mother’s love as you gathered Israel, then the nations under your wings.

And we thank you for your grace that covers our failings as mothers,

The grace that makes us all your children,

The grace that covers your church, which is your body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Amen