516DfEiT2jL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I pray. a lot. (Let’s face it… not much else I can do at the moment.) I ask for wisdom., I ask for forgiveness, I plead for healing, for myself, for my husband. I pray that God will make up through love the things I can’t do with and for my kids right now. I pray for others. I pray for the impoverished, the entrapped, the persecuted, the addicted, the hurting. Like I said: I pray.

The truth is….lately- I’ve felt like God isn’t answering. (Or, rather, I’m not liking the answers.) I pray for wisdom, and discover more questions. I pray for forgiveness and discover more sin. I plead for healing and find more pain, more disease. More tests to be run, more waiting to be waited.

We currently face: Cancer, chronic illness and pain. I’m in the middle of a difficult surgical recovery. There has been loss. I have questions without clear answers but with potential eternal consequences. I recently told a friend ” I feel like every time I come up for air another wave crashes on my head. ” (Heart?) I feel: Frustrated. Overwhelmed. I’m afraid that the reason God hasn’t answered me (The way I want him to) is because of my lack of faith…. Maybe, it’s my own fault.

Still, I pray. lately? Without bothering to tell God what I need or want him to do . Sometimes, words are barely involved. Sometimes, just breathing, has been a prayer. I’ve started to doubt my sanity. (not new and still unconfirmed.) But also, whether I’m a heretic…. Breathing as prayer? Am I cheating God, by not trying hard enough? (Yes. I over think EVERYTHING.)

As I read “The Mercy Prayer” what resonated most wasn’t the words….it was their truth. Truth that changed my perspective. God hasn’t been ignoring or denying my requests. He’s been answering them with mercy.

Mercy to bear pain. Mercy to stand up under temptation. Mercy in kindness. Mercy in meals made with love to sustain us through recoveries. Mercy in provision. Mercy in lack. Mercy to find joy in the tragedy and pain that threatens to engulf. Mercy to sit with unanswered questions. (And not lose my mind. (Mostly.) Mercy in nested reminders of His love….from friends, and in places where I’ve least expected to find them.

The truth is- a million mercies line the mess of my nest. Even here. God has already been answering my Mercy Prayer…. even when I didn’t know that’s what I was really asking for. (If you’re new to the blog- click “Even Here” for the tender mercies God has been feathering my nest with..)

Reading these words, my hope is renewed. I’m not a heretic. I’m not (that) crazy. My focus is changed. I will endeavor to quit telling God what he should do….and ask him to do what he always does. Lord, have mercy.

The Mercy prayer cuts through the frustration of trying to figure out what I need, so I can pray “right.” . Or the right things to pray…So God will answer “right.”

The heart of the matter.. is always: My need for Mercy. Of all kinds.

“His grace (truly) is sufficient” and it begins with mercy.

Read this book. Let it speak to your heart. Let our hearts beat to the rhythm of the mercy prayer…..I have a feeling that if we do….. they will be beating in time with the very heart of God. What a different world that would be.

Again: Lord, have mercy, Even here.

“The Mercy Prayer” Available on Amazon- or at your local bookstore.

By Pastor Robert Gelinas

Confession: When I saw the title– I was a little worried… “Oh No.. Please don’t try to give me another formulaic- magical harry potter approach to God……They never work. God is far above our puny manipulations and does not owe us his obedience to our magic words or incantations…..God is not a genie released by rubbing a lamp or saying a word… They leave me feeling irritated with the author for trying to profit from manipulating people in desperate need.”

This Book? NOT THAT. No worries. No formula… just an affirmation of our greatest need-for grace through mercy- always being met. By a God who delights to show mercy and grant grace.

 

His lips move. There are no [audible] words.images

This, is not normal.

Not for my very Italian (AKA: genetically loud) grandfather. The bruised,twig like-bruised arms, the stubbly chin or the hospital bed that I see him in are also not normal.  For my whole life  I have seen him looking almost the same each time- moving. Wearing either his old guy Russian type faux fur hat or a Boystown ball cap. And talking. Lots of talking. Loud talking with a strong opinion- about everything from olives to slot machine strategies. Always planning or talking about implementing a project.

Mine, is the McGyver of Grandpa’s. I won’t divulge all of his secret medical tips- but they involve epsom salts and Neosporin. With a side of: if the doctor won’t fix it- I’ll fix it myself.

Instead- my grandpa looks: Sick. Frail. Quiet.

Every once in a while there are glimpses of his “old” self. His hand reaches up to rub his perennially-bald head. Every once in a while they momentarily both rise up and give a lil’ jazz hand signal that was for him- more emphasis and frustration (usually over politics) than jazz. (True fact: if you restrain an Italian’s-hands- we cannot speak. Mouth- hands and minimal brain involvement- that’s how talking works for us. Go ahead  Ask a neurologist. An Italian one. Of course.) We talk.

We think he hears.

We desperately want him to hear.

He holds our hands. We hold his.

He fidgets. He’s uncomfortable. Instead of in punctation to speech—his hands flutter at the sheets- the catheter… the tubes. The wires. I wonder if he’s thinking of a better way to engineer all this stuff with more comfort. He’s probably wishing he had his electronics stuff…. wire harness’ would be handy. Or, maybe electrical tape. I’m sure he is. Somewhere- deep in his brain- he ‘s thinking he could do this better. And we know: he could.

Before our visit ends- my husband asks if it’s ok to pray with him.

Suddenly- His hands quiet. They clasp in prayer. He bows his head. We pray.

He heard.

We know.

Was it autonomic from years spent hearing the invitation to pray and then folding his hands almost automatically? Or was it a real engagement in prayer?

Does it matter? I doubt it.

When I am so sick that no one knows if I can hear- (we all get there- sometimes we come back- sometimes not)  understand- or respond- I want prayer to be so entrenched in my heart, spirit and person- that whether I am cognizant or not—  my spirit prays.

Like my Grandpa. A hero of heart and Spirit.

Roman’s 8:26-27  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

“Dear Lord- so many things to pray for- I can’t list them all— from health to finances, jobs, to babies and stress. God be present- be so entrenched in each of us- that we pray whenever the call to pray arises….. in hospital beds- in waiting rooms, in grief, in living rooms, in dark nights, in mental illness and in bathrooms. (Lord- I’m a mom- you know the shower is my prayer closet. and the Bathroom is as close to a quiet altar as it gets some days.) Whether we physically bow our heads and clasp our hands – or not—– let our Sprits be drawn to prayer. When we’re not? Let your Spirit pray over us. I love you lord- amen.”

beauty in winter...

In the detritus of loss, are the seeds of hope.

I grabbed my camera, and took a walk, desperate to find beauty.

I had to look beyond the gray, overcast skies and mud  to find it.

But, I did.

I found it in unexpected places. I found it in places that [at first glance] looked barren. I looked closer. I found the beauty of life to come.

In….

Seeds.

Pods.

In fuzzy, prickly burrs that hitchhike to better ground. I found it in stubborn lichen and moss that refuses to give up it’s hold on life. I found it in evergreens that defy the season of cold.

In the detritus of winter- I found beauty in the hope of spring.

It’s always there. Even in the darkest times. The worst days. Like moss, and evergreens, like seeds, pods and burrs.. if we look close enough.

Today- I’ll be joining Moms all over the world- as we pray that those suffering in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting can find hope. we’ll pray that they find comfort for their pain. That they feel love, in a time of loss.

In a world that has been feeing dark- cold and lonely- there is beauty in the connection of mothers’ hearts reaching out to pray for each other. There is beauty in community. There is beauty and something holy in shared suffering. I wish I could change what happened… I can’t. But I can do something….I can pray. I can pray for mothers whose children who are troubled. I can pray for mothers struggling with fear as they send little ones off to school. I may not be able to change a mom’s circumstances- but I can make sure she’s not alone.

If you’re feeling afraid, alone, overwhelmed or are longing to do something to support those who suffered such loss -I hope you’ll join with us in prayer.

It’s a step in making the world a more beautiful, peaceful and loving  place.

I honestly though I was “good” by following most of the rules after my ACDF at the end of October. I mostly wore the collar of shame. I mostly stuck to the 10 lb weight limit. I mostly didn’t drive until I had the all clear.

Except for the time spent picking up shells on the beach…..and folding laundry (which involved getting up and down from the living room floor)…and maybe a few times of carrying laundry up and down the steps in a fit of frustration because someone didn’t do it fast enough for my ummmm taste. I suppose I should also come clean about carrying too much weight. Let’s just say that in the event of a zombie apocalypse- My family of 5 and my 4 pets could survive for months with what i carry in there….. including entertainment in various electronic forms.

I wore the electromagnetic bone growth stimulator- thinking I was “being good” even though I suspected it was one of those medical quackery things you see in museums….

Every time I went to the neurosurgeon, I was surprised to see how little progress had been made in my healing….

I cried all the way home a few ekes ago-when he said I needed surgery. Again. For a failure to fuse- and for worsening of the joint below. (C6-7 was not fused the first time. for those wondering) (more…)

Somedays, when I walk past a mirror,and catch sight of my reflection,  I wonder what I was thinking when I got dressed.

Today, is one of those days.

I am wearing a brown cardigan- hoodie type thing that makes me look a little like Obi-Mom-Kenobi.

I can’t even answer the question-“What was I thinking?” (I hadn’t had coffee.. I wasn’t quite thinking yet.)

The truth is, unlike Obi-Wan- I can’t actually answer a lot of questions.

There are a lot of topics for which I have more questions than answers:

Politics, the economy, healthcare, the future, what I should do, what I should not do, what you should do, what you should not do, what I should say, what I should not say, why God allows pain, why God is graceful…. I could go on forever.

I wish I did have answers.  Sometimes, I am tempted to make up answers to questions…( OK- so- occasionally I do make them up… But they sound good and are totally plausible! Mostly.)

I am not- however Obi-Wan. (Even if I do resemble him a bit before makeup- especially in this sweater..) Or Yoda, Or Obi-Mom or AskJeeves or Google.  I don’t have all the answers.

But I do have a place to take my questions… sometimes to be answered- and sometimes to be left behind.

Today… I’m feeling kind of BLAH.  Full of questions and bereft of answers.  Maybe you are too. Maybe you have questions that you’d like answers to- or questions you’d like to leave behind.

I invite you to join me… at a place where we can ask them and leave them…together.

in prayer

Dear Lord- I have more questions than answers, lately.  I don’t know what I should or shouldn’t do, I don’t have answers to politics or the economy or to jobs that are needed .  I feel like I should have things figured out by now, but the truth is, I don’t. Today- I take off my obi-mom robe.  I’m not making up any answers- plausible or not.  I lift up my questions and the questions of those who stumble by this post…to you.

We will try to listen for your answers- or leave them behind weary of wrestling with them, at your feet….. I love you Lord and am so glad I don’t have to be obi-mom-  amen.

PS- has any body seen my light saber?  I could really use it about now….;)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8

I blinked. I blinked again.  I squinted.  I strained to see, but what I could see looked more like an impressionist’s rendering of my bedroom than what I knew it to be. Everything was hazed and bleary.

I made my way downstairs, wondering if it was finally time to break down and get the bi-focals.  I sipped my coffee, continuing to squint while I watched the news.  Right about the time the caffeine kicked in, I took off my glasses to rub my eyes in a last ditch attempt to save my vanity from death by- bifocal… suddenly everything was clear.

I looked at my glasses… they were smeared and smudged from tiny fingers… apparently my 6 year old “helper” had brought them upstairs.  I took them to the kitchen and carefully cleaned the lenses.  I slipped them back on.  Everything became clear and sharp.  I could see.

I settled onto the couch to continue my Lenten journey- today’s direction was -simple.  “Pray for a pure heart. Read: Matthew 5:8”  But I wondered at it’s meaning.

Purity is a word our culture seems to save for marketing and sexual abstinence.  It isn’t  a word often used outside of those contexts.  What does purity meant in this context?  I took a few minutes to look it up.  The commentary mentions Psalm 73 for further study

Between the commentaries and the scripture here is what I’ve discovered:  

1) To be pure in heart gives one the ability to see God.

2) To be pure in heart means to rely on Him alone.

3) To be pure in heart means  to be without blemish or sin.

These are things I desire.. but things I can’t accomplish.  I walk through my days with eyes glazed by sin and distracted by things that I think I can rely on outside of God… they smear my sight like the fingerprints on my eye-glass lenses.  Even when I recognize them for what they are.. I can do little to clear them from my vision. I squint and blink, trying to see clearly,  it doesn’t work.

I try to clear them with what I have, my own dirty fingers.. I smear and haze them all the more. I can’t use something dirty to clear something.. I need something clean- pure.  I need God’s help.

Today- I’m praying for a pure heart.. one that can see God.. one that has embraced His power to cleanse and clear- the only power that can… and I’m praying to see God… how amazing would that be?

I’m taking time to finish a chemo cap for my mom’s friend today.. while I knit, I’ll be meditating on God’s purity and will be praying that God would cleanse and purify my heart..I wonder what I’ll see with clear vision?   I’ll also be praying that he would cleanse her body of sickness…

I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me tomorrow…

I dialed the phone, not sure what to expect.  1 ring.. 2 rings then a click and pick up.  I’d never heard the voice behind the smile before.  I wondered what to expect.

A sweet but sad voice answered the phone.  The voice dissolved into tears… we talked.  I heard both her heart and the scary details of her situation….. I felt overwhelmed.  This was a bigger problem than I could fix.  I listened.  We talked through potential solutions.. we prayed together… and then hung up.

What on earth can I do to help?  The need was way bigger than what I had to offer in help.  What I have to share wouldn’t make a dent.  I couldn’t even wrap my arms around this person and hug her.  She is too far away.  I took some time to think and pray… I knit.  I sat.  I wandered around the house wondering how I would feel if it was me…. I felt overwhelmed with the size of the problem…I felt powerless to help.

I remembered the words of Mother Theresa..”There are no great things, only small things done with great love” That is how Mother Theresa faced the overwhelming poverty and need that surrounded her… one person at a time…  one small, loving act, at a time, and trusting that it made a difference.  It did… and still is.  Her ministry of love is known all over the world….  I thought about the knititng in my hands.. and how each small stich adds itself to the garment…and creates something useful. (one stitch— not so much:)

” Would small things done with love make a difference here?  now?  for this friend? “ I just kept wondering. I thought some more… I prayed. and then I decided to ask her permission to help… and to enlist the help of others.  Together we offered up bits and pieces.. ideas… words.. yarn (you knew yarn would be involved at some point) books, thoughts prayers….all the little bits started forming themselves into a plan… and then the plan launched.

The plan was to hold a small fundraiser- simple paypal donations made directly to a family in need of their rent money. Each donation would have the chance to win a  prize donated with great love.   Nervous.. we waited…. (maybe a bit nervously) Then… the donations started pouring in.  Ravelry knitters- especially Loopy Ewe Yarn Shop group members- are giving small things with great love.  Sacrifices…small and large … each whatever they can do… and together making a difference.

The world is full of bad news.  Fraud, inflation, economic messes.  Watching the news is overwhelming- I try to avoid it, mostly… because I feel at a loss to be able to change it.  I know,  I can’t.  Not alone.. I don’t have the time, the money or the resources to change the world… or do I?  Maybe changing the world means doing small things with great love…maybe changing the world means doing what you can when you can, where you can… maybe it all adds up.

It sure is adding up for one family. As of this moment- we’ve raised enough to keep them in their apartment.  Now- we’re working on making sure they have groceries.  People are looking to see if jobs can be found.. they are checking their contact lists to see if they know anyone local to help….they are making a difference.  Not just for this family… but for the generations that come after this one.. and for themselves.. because they know they are making a difference.

Why share this?  Because— there is hope.  There is hope that we can make a difference… hope that God can provide…hope that things can get better— if we each do small things with great love.

For Ravelry members… you can click here to see what we’re up to… and maybe even help make a difference.:)

If you’d really love to help-but are not a rav member… you can look in my sidebar for my e-mail address to contact me and I can share with you how you can make a difference.

I know— I know.. how do you know this isn’t yet another internet hoax…. more people manipulating for profit?  I’d say you can take my word… but why?  The truth is — there is always risk involved in helping.. always risk of backlash of fraud…. personally? I refuse to let that stop me from helping… Because if we STOP helping.. stop trying… we all lose.

Most readers know that I am a Christian… someone who desires to follow God.  Not just in my words.. but in my actions. My convictions affect my choices.  Here is the example I have to follow… and I may be walking with a limp and wandering around… on ocassion… and struggling to even find the path… but I am.  One small step at a time.

The good samaritan