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The prayer at the end of this devotional,  published today, reminds me of Stephen Ministry and my training for it.  The body of the devotional is exactly the kind of story that led me to a talk I gave a year ago in San Diego.

child-abuse-620x349

I doubt the Stephen Ministers are often privileged to have someone share such serious parental abuse, yet I pray that as each care giver stands in the mud with her/his care receivers (official or unofficial), we can lean on God’s strength to avoid slipping with them into the ‘slough of despair’.

Will you pray with me please?

Unimaginable One,

You call us out of the darkness.  You created the light and you invite us to come live in the light of your kingdom.  We are honored, humbled, privileged.  You are amazing!

Lord of Love,

I pray for all who suffer the abuse of power by another human.  I pray especially for the vulnerable who should be cherished and protected but who are harmed by those who they were told to trust.  I pray for those who are told they must be wrong or that they are liars when they tell another adult of the abuse.  Be the comfort.  Be the healing energy.  Enfold them in your loving embrace and let them again feel safe.  You are the love through all the world and beyond.  Only you can help them by empowering them and others to do well.

Child_abuse

I pray for those too weak or naïve to protect the vulnerable.  Lord, please open their eyes and let them lean on your strength.  Let them use your strength to create a safe place for the victims.  Let them help to keep the victims out of harm’s way.

child_sexual_abuse

Lord, I bring to you also the abusers.  They have been weak to these sins; they have not overcome the temptations.  Bring them, too, into the light, Lord.  Show them the path on which to put their feet.  Make their journey aim for your kingdom and straighten the path for them as they begin to walk with you.  Send your saints to them, to walk beside them and encourage them and love them.

Gracious Giver,

You are the source of the technology to deliver the devotionals.  You put the thought into Donna Schaper’s mind to write the words we read.  You inspire me with forgiveness for perpetrators of hate, compassion for those to weak to stop what they know is wrong, and love for those who suffer from violations.

All that we have, all that we cherish, all that we enjoy comes from you.  I am grateful.  Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus told us to ask in his name, that our joy be made full.

I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Not to us, but to God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

My first thought in reading this devotional was “I should forward this to Steve (my husband); maybe he’d understand then, when I mention God.”  Then I thought “Why fuel the fire?”  Then I thought “I really need to pray that Steve realizes I’m trying to live a Christian life and  pray that he’ll accept it.” So that prayer has been stated.

Gods goodnews cat

This is how Steve would like to look when I mention God.

And in the last few minutes, I received a note from a colleague who I’ve only met a few times, but whose work sometimes overlaps with mine.  She wanted to let me know that she’ll have surgery and be out for three weeks.  We’re Facebook friends, so this was an easy one.  Anyone who has seen my posts on Facebook knows I talk about/to God (and frankly, Steve hid me when I came out strongly against the ‘defense of marriage act’…  when it was struck down, I think I posted 15 times in 15 minutes…  he wanted me to STOP posting…  and that wasn’t even God).

So anyway, I wrote back to Kathryn, my pre-op colleague, and told her if she’d like, I’d pray.  She wrote back and said she enjoys my inspiring posts.  And told me she has a very early, small breast cancer. And I wrote back and said I’d had one of those six years ago & I’ve had no ill outcomes.  And she wrote back and thanked me and said there’s a family history and the doctors have been watching her for quite some time.  So I wrote back:

“I believe God’s love comes to us in healing energy (and doctors and medicines and nursing staff and a lot of other ways).  So here’s the deal; you keep optimistic & avoid stress.  “We” will take care of the rest…  for whatever is supposed to happen.  My money’s going on the “Kathryn will come through this beautifully” square.”

Will you pray with me please?

prayer-conversations-with-god.

Ever-present Energy,

Even when I don’t plan to speak of you, you put your name on my lips (or come out through my typing fingers).   I know you’re always with me.  It’s a comfort and a privilege to be in your presence.  You are amazing!

Lord of Lightness,

You edify us as we lift others up in prayer.  Open Steve’s heart to your love & energy.  Help him to feel the love you channel through me.  Remind me to show him your love and kindness and compassion.  Delight him, I pray, with your overwhelming blessings; give him tangible proof of your love.

Help Kathryn to stay optimistic and calm.  Be her medical team, be the lighting in the OR, be the anesthesia, be the pain medication, be Kathryn’s family and friends as they care for her.  Surround her with healing energy and support her at moments when she lacks strength.  Remind her to take care of her body, your creation.

Gracious God,

The technology, the seeking mind, the beauty of the earth – all comes from you.  I am grateful.  Lord, I love you so much!

I claim Jesus’ promise as I pray in his most holy name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

Quinn Caldwell did it again!  The Devotional on “Clean House” finally got my prayer/blog juices going!  Most of us raised in Catholic/Christian church communities remember the story about Martha and Mary.

Some say “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and I go along with those who say “cleanliness is next to impossible”.  A story circulated when I was a child about a woman on her hands and knees in some public building, scrubbing.  As her arm shot forward she whispered “I do”, back “my work”, forward “for the glory”, and back “of God”, over and over again.  My thought is that in every task, there is an opportunity to praise God.

Now back to Mary and Martha. As I read again the well-known verses, one word jumped at me: “distracted”.  Hmm. Mary-Martha-wordle As I was commuting to work, the morning pair on Air1 (Christian radio. I love the rock & roll!)  The discussion between the songs was on multi-tasking vs. being present to one task.

Bingo!   That’s me alrighty!

Here’s how I now read the back story on the passage.  Jesus’ was invited by Martha.  Likely he and the apostles needed a roof over their heads for the night.  Or perhaps he wanted to speak with a small group.  It’s possible Martha and Mary had gone out to hear Jesus earlier and as the crowd headed home, Martha said she would welcome Jesus into her home.  At any rate, Martha invited Jesus.

Somehow I suspect it was an impulsive act, else the house would have been fully prepared before Jesus’ arrival (Right?  If Jesus were coming to your house tomorrow, would you stay up all night cleaning and cooking?  I sure would and I’d be praising God for the creation of the ‘open 24 hours’ grocery store, too!)

So Jesus enters the house.  Chances are Mary (who might not even live with Martha) simply gravitated to Jesus.  She sat at his feet and listened.

If I were Martha, I likely would be hovering around the edge of the people, finding the cobweb I missed earlier and the grass the dogs brought in on their feet.  I’d be listening and multi-tasking.  You see, I can’t sit still when people are in my home unless it’s up to my standards (not perfect, but pretty good)!

So Jesus would be on the love-seat in our family room or maybe I talked him into taking my recliner.  Mary would be at his feet.  Followers who could fit would be in the family room end of the great-room and I’d be inching from the group to the kitchen.  And then I’d think, “Oh, Lord, let me be sure the bathroom is clean!”  Let me say, I wouldn’t begrudge Mary the opportunity to listen.  Oh NO, I would not!  But, if she really loved me, she’d be helping me, too.  We can listen and work!  We’ve been doing it since we were children.  (right?)

Now, would I go to Jesus to ask for intervention?  Unlikely.

Would I be wishing Mary would help?  Would I be trying to catch her eye and jerk my head to signal “come here”?  Might I crook a finger at her if she still didn’t come or wave my hand toward me? You bet I would! Here I’ve invited a great man into my home so we could listen, but she isn’t even helping!  The ingrate! Acting as if she’s too good to do housework!

But here’s the thing.  Mary was able to pay attention.  She could focus on Jesus and his words.   And Martha was catching the occasional word, I bet, while her mind would not stop racing of all that should be done.

Poor Martha, don’t hate her, realize that she is a victim of the circumstances with which she grew up.  She’d been taught to be more concerned about the state of the household than ANYTHING else (well, if she had children, their faces would be cleaned before she started on the house).

I’m often like Martha.  I find it hard to spend 20 minutes with Jesus (or any name for God) in the morning.  I don’t do it before I leave the house because I’d need to get up 20 minutes earlier.  I do it when I get to the office and the devotional shows up.  Sometimes I’ve found that it’s noon before I’ve finished reading the devotional.

Lately, I’ve found it hard to turn off the noise of my emotions and spend time with God in prayer.  And you know I love to pray and talk with God, but it’s been hard.

How are you like Martha?  What gets in your way?  What shares the time you could be listening with God?

Lest you now feel guilty, let’s go the other way too.  How are you like Mary?  What is it about God that draws your attention away from any other priority or item on your “to-do” list?

Perhaps you, like me, have been made human.

Mary n Martha-feet Jesus,

You call us o’er the tumult of our lives’ wild, restless sea; day by day your sweet voice soundeth saying “Christian, follow me!”

Almighty Architect,

Your voice can be heard over the tumult.  Your voice can be heard across the years.  Ever-changing, ever-the-same, you are the source and the solution; you are the cause and the effect.  You are the energy of love and creation.  Amazing!

Lord of the Light,

Show me today how to pay attention to you.  Pull me to focus only on you.  Amid distractions, remove my sight of them and my hearing of them.  Even if only for two minutes…  or even one, grant me moments in your glorious presence.  Make the light and the sound and the smell and the thought only of you.  I can’t do it on my own, even though I want to do it – so much.  With you, I can do all things.  You strengthen me!

Lord of Love,

You know the desires of my heart.  You know those for whom I pray, you hear me when I think their names.  Susan, Matt, CJ, Gary, Holly, Molly, all my sisters in my Monday night group that I miss, Carol’s neighbor, Steve, Chris and Kate, Ramya and Will, Meghan and her husband.  I thank you for the return to health of Thea and Lisa. And, I pray Lord, for my own health; help me find ways to strengthen my immune system and awake rested in the morning.

Generous Giver,

As I type on this technology and send it to friends through ways Mary and Martha would never have imagined, I thank you.  And I thank you for the distractions, for they are the sins I need to overcome.  Lord, I love you so much!

Jesus said to ask in his name, and I pray in the most holy name of Jesus,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2013

Live Inspired:  pray continually; think boldly; dare greatly; love unconditionally; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; laugh frequently!

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