And so I pray. It’s a powerful act.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a particular individual in my life. She is mostly a kind, loyal, caring, considerate, and faithful lover of God.

On the one hand.

On the other, I have had daily opportunities to observe her world over the last year. As we’ve shared our lives over Facebook and email, I find she devotes an amazing amount of her time and energy mocking, scorning, laughing at, openly ridiculing others she encounters in her community and online.

She passes along shock talk – “news” of the day, unvetted for accuracy or authenticity…think of the online equivalents of newspaper tabloids from which most of us attempt to avert our eyes while standing in the grocery line – with questions and comments like, “Have you seen this? What do you think? Do you believe this? Does she really think this looks good? What on earth was she thinking? This girl must hate herself to dye her hair that color. It just makes my heart hurt.”

I share her last sentiment.

The stories or, worse, the pictures, presumably serve to support her perspective on some issue of the day. Pick one: Race relations, immigration policy, Islamist terror threats, people who look different, people who dress different, issues of human suffering of all kinds.

As a person of words, many come to mind in immediate response. I’ve so far held my tongue/pen/keyboard. Thankfully, I have found a button at the top right of all Facebook posts that allows me to block specific types of posts that she chooses to share, allowing me to avoid the temptation of response altogether.

And before I go further, while you’re probably rolling your eyes wondering why I don’t just cut her from my list of FB friends, she’s the wife of a relative. I haven’t wanted to ruffle the calm waters of our extended family relations. Still, it sometimes feels as though I could/should do/say something….maybe?

Her vitriol is so evident some days that I have picked up the phone a couple of times to call and chat with her and learn if there’s something in particular that is making her so unhappy. These calls haven’t seemed to be especially helpful. It’s highly likely that I’m not gifted in the particular way needed in order to reach out to her verbally. It certainly never feels like a comfortable calling, but more like an unwelcome obligation.

So, I pray. Prayer’s a powerful act.

I pray for her and others like her. Unfortunately, she’s not unusual.

And yet, it seems sometimes I should do more, go further, try harder, understand better.

I talked with my husband this morning (bless him and thanks to God for speaking to me through him.) He suggested that I read verses from the book of James.

James describes our tongues this way:

…the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Check!

…Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.

Check again.

As I read these verses I realized they weren’t just describing others’ tongues, they were speaking to me, too.

I hope you’ll all consider offering your counsel on this. I appreciate hearing your thoughts and suggestions…and, if not those, your prayers.

I read on in James and he offers us some direction:

… If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom… wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others…

I always want to be this way, but there are so many times that I try and fail.

[Wisdom] is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

I can feel myself breathing deeper and beginning to stand down metaphorically from my very high horse.

James continues:

Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.  God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?

It’s not mine to judge. Thank heaven.

So I pray. It’s a powerful act.

I pray that His goodness touches her heart and fills her being so full that her first thoughts consider kindly those who are not like her;

I pray that her first feelings are feelings of compassion for others’ unknown and misunderstood burdens…that her first act is to pray for them.

I pray for myself and for each of us. It’s a powerful act.

I pray we learn how to see others not as foreigners in our country or in our community, our tribe, our family…that we not see others as foreign to our selves. I pray that we choose instead to open our hearts to the unity in which God created us.

I pray we each attempt to fathom, if only dimly, the brotherhood and sisterhood—the family—into which we have all been created by our One Father, our One Creator.

I pray His forgiveness for forgetting our roles. He created us in love, intending that we greet one another—no matter our differences or affronts or provocations—that we reach out and greet one another in love.

He intended that we embrace one another as joint heirs of His kingdom —each of us uniquely loved by Him, each uniquely gifted by His grace, each uniquely chosen and shared with others as gifts from our perfect Benefactor.

So I pray. It’s a powerful act.

Life is very, very good. Life with God in charge is….heavenly.

It has been so long since I’ve written substantively here…so long since we’ve talked…that it’s hard to know where to start.

And, isn’t this always the way where there’s separation, disconnection, distance? We lose our place. We miss important events in one anothers’ lives. We fall out of touch.

The “project,” I’ll call it, was to help our daughter move 2500 miles across country to a new home and a new job…a new life, really. The opportunity was a true gift from God. There were so many miracles, so much euphoria. I feel certain it will be a while before I understand all the lessons and discern God’s handiwork with any real clarity. The time has been both exhilarating and exhausting.

I asked God early on how to handle my blogging while I was engaged with ‘the project’ (it was really 6 or 7 major projects in one as it turned out.) I didn’t feel that I could reflect thoughtfully or write insightfully — heck, I wasn’t sure I could even write grammatically with the pace we were keeping — about much of anything until my part of the work was done. This place, this communication, I felt, needed more, deserved more, than I could give.

Still, where communication is suspended, relationships suffer. It’s true for friends and couples and between ourselves and God.

I’d welcome your thoughts about this whole subject. I know several of you have written in the past about this and that my feelings of undifferentiated, amorphous disappointment in myself are not unique or even unusual. How do you make time for this blog space, how do you do it justice, during times when life’s demands become…well…demanding?

And yet, I asked for and felt the comfort of your prayers. Thank you so very much. You first deserve an update:

  • My daughter has a new job, a new home, and a whole new community of friends. I thrill when she tells me nearly each day for the last 2 months that she feels everything about this total change in her life is right and exactly where God wants her to be right now;
  • Her old home near us is on the market and we’re currently praying for a quick sale (late breaking news: we just received our first offer!);
  • In the meantime our son and daughter-in-law (about whom I have written before here and here) went to the hospital with labor pains in early May…our new baby grand daughter arrived 7 weeks early. She stayed in the Neo-Natal ICU for several weeks. She is, nonetheless, perfect! (This is just simple fact and has nothing to do with my grandmotherly status!) She has over the last month gained weight (she’s over 7 lbs) and lung capacity and she’s now home with mom and dad and they are all thriving in every way. We celebrated Father’s Day together in their home last Sunday. I’d forgotten what 7 lbs. babies are like to hold…there’s just no feeling like it in the whole world.
  • We are so very blessed by God’s amazing grace. The abundance of His love over the last couple of months was everywhere and in every encounter:
    • He helped us carry our burden by sending us the kindness and charity of so many wonderful friends and family who sent their good wishes and prayers to me and made sure my husband was feted with good food and company during my absences.
    • There was our mover, who together with his wife, the dispatcher, held our hand during the long move, as they transported all our daughter’s belongings, arriving right on time with everything in perfect condition, and with no last minute surprises in price.
    • There was the HVAC expert, who gave up his Saturday morning to help us vent a portable air conditioner; and
    • The appliance repair guys, who made themselves immediately available to fix a washing machine; and
    • Our realtors, who offered their friendship and their own personal resources to help us; and
    • Our financial wizards, who just wouldn’t give up, even in the face of fairly complicated transactions; and
    • The hardware store clerk, who spent nearly an hour helping me figure out how to secure a dog kennel; and
    • So many thoughtful drivers who let me cut in when I missed my turns in unfamiliar country.
    • There were, of course, all the caring and competent neo-natal staff taking care of our grand daughter…and her parents; and
    • The fact that our grand daughter joined us during one of the short windows when I was in town was a true personal blessing; and
    • We enjoyed a full complement of joy-filled family communicating with parents and all the rest of us with abundant use of the “reply all” feature on their email and texting. We were, as a result, able to share across family lines and across geography and time zones in one another’s experiences of wonder and joy with the new and precious baby girl in our midst.

The list seems almost endless…right down to some unknown young man who was standing in front of me in line at the airport, who paid for my water bottle as he was purchasing his own. It turned out he was sitting across the aisle from me on my flight home and before I even realized I needed help lifting my carry-on bag, he was up out of his seat, man-handling it into the overhead bin, assuring me as he did so that he would get it down for me when we landed…WOW! The good Lord had me surrounded with his angels.

Life is very, very good…life with God in charge is heavenly.

 

 

 

 

Please pray for our family today

Please pray for our son and his wife and baby.

I just received word that our son’s wife, who is 27-weeks pregnant, has gone to the hospital with spotting. This, as most of you probably know, indicates that the baby is in some distress.

Mom and baby are doing okay for now, but we have a specific prayer request that I’d like you all to consider praying on our behalf: It is that mom and baby are able to hang onto one another for at least another 10 weeks. This will help assure the baby’s chances of making it and being healthy.

By way of just a bit of background, this is the 3rd pregnancy for them. Their first baby miscarried. Their second child was born at 22 weeks and only survived for a few hours. I wrote here about the wonderful miracle that happened even in the midst of that tragedy.

Thank you so very much (in advance, for I know you will all do what you can to help) for your prayers.