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In today’s StillSpeaking Devotional, Matthew Laney uses a passage from Genesis:

God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham! Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” – Genesis 22:1-2 (NRSV)

Laney likens inoculating his daughter to God’s test of Abraham. He goes on to say that many of us sacrifice our “children on the altars of our careers and smartphones.” I’ve been guilty of the former.  I’ve also sacrificed my children on the altar of romantic relationships. I confessed this to my now-grown children as part of my 9th step amends, but it still hits a nerve to read today’s devotional. Will you pray with me, please?

Unique Universe-Creator,

You are the God of Abraham and Isaac; you are the God of Christopher and Katherine and me. Only you could have called the worlds into being. You are bigger than, more than anything I can imagine. You are amazing!

Loving Lord,

Today, I bring my relationships to you; those with my children and all my relationships, even my relationship with you. Remind me to prioritize and be right-minded in setting the proper things before others. Remind me not to squander my inheritance, nor the inheritance I might leave to my children. Keep my heart pure and help me to remember responsibilities before frivolities.

Generous Giver,

All that I have, from my car to my coffee, from my house to my husband, from my children to my childishness, all comes from you. Thank you for a warm home in the winter, a car to carry me to contemplative worship on Wednesday mornings, for my children who are now adults and who can be honest enough with me to call me out on my transgressions of parenthood. Thank you for clearing the ice from the patio before the prospect of snow tonight. Thank you for everything. I am grateful. Lord, I love you so much!

And I pray in the powerful name of Jesus, who told me to do so,

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

 

Love always,

Melissa

Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.net

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

© Melissa Pazen, 2020

A prayer request from one in my Congregational UCC of Saint Charles family, Tara –

Please add my cousin Will and his 9 year old daughter, Lucy to your prayers. Will’s wife Ashly and their 7 year old son Vince were involved in a fatal car accident this week. This has been devastating for our entire family

This morning I opened my email to this request and it brings up an internal debate that I’ve been having for a long time:

What about when bad things happen? Does God’s plan intend the untimely death of a seven-year-old and a young mother? How can such terrible things happen to people we believe are good?

My God hasn’t let that happen to me; I’ve reached a ripe old age, older than I dreamed possible since the women in my family have historically died young. In fact, I never planned for retirement since I expected to die at 49 like my mother did. But anyway… I don’t have the ultimate response when someone asks “how could this have happened?” I can only say that I don’t know if God sticks a hand in and causes bad things to happen. I believe God called the world into being, though. I certainly believe that whether good or bad, God calls me to make the best of it. God asks that I make something good and worthy and holy out of every single thing that happens to me. I believe in God.

Will you pray with me, please?

Constant Caller,

I come to thee today filled with questions. I trust that only thee has the answers because only thou are God. I’m not meant to understand certain things because I am merely human. Were these deaths untimely? I don’t know and I’m ok with that. I know my answer isn’t necessarily helpful to the grieving family and I have to be ok with that, too. Thou knows all things, creates all things; do thou end all things deliberately even when it shakes us to our cores? Perhaps. Perhaps the Ecclesiastes author who purported “To everything, there is a season” heard it when thou whispered in her/his ear. I don’t know, but God knows. Thou are amazing!

Re-Freshing Responder,

Today, I bring Ashly, Vince and all who love(d) them to thee. Remind them to rest in thy strong and loving arms. Remind them to be gentle with one another, to be patient and kind, to be respectful. Remind them that self-care must come first so grant them rest and nourishment and time to heal. Remind them that grief is normal and good, that Shiva is a holy time still practiced by Jews and something that all could use. Grant all of them peace. Whisper answers in their expectant ears, be that small voice in the dark night of their souls.

Gracious God,

Thou are the source of all good things, maybe all bad things too. Today, I’m grateful for holiday mugs with my offsprings’ mugs on them. I am grateful for my thoughtful, reflective mind, for candles and antihistamines and tissues into which I can blow my runny nose. I am grateful for immunoglobulin therapy and the possibility that I’ll receive it. I am grateful for Sully and his squeak toys since they remind me to be joyful. I am grateful for the corn casserole recipe and the resources to buy the ingredients to make it. I am grateful for Steve who buys the ingredients and those who grew or combined them. I am grateful for thee, oh Lord. I love thee so much!

And I pray in Jesus supportive name,

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

 

Love always,

Melissa

Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.net

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

© Melissa Pazen, 2019

 

I received a photocopy of this and the source wasn’t cited.  If you know the author, please let me know so I can get permission and cite it properly.

I free you from my anxiety, from my personal idea of what constitutes happiness for you.

I trust the spirit of God in you, to guide you, to show you the way that is right for you — your highest good, the way that means happiness and success for you.

I place you lovingly in the arms of the Creator. I stand by in faith. I refrain from imposing my will on you.

You are God’s child. You are to fulfill your own purpose. As close as I am to you, as much as I love you, I cannot live your life for you. Your destiny, your place, your fulfillment is between you and God.

I know we are one in God. And as I trust God in my life and trust God in your life, all will be well.

 

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

 

Love always,

Melissa
Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.net

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

© Melissa Pazen, 2019

God said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”    ~ Genesis 22:2

Yesterday morning, I went to the contemplative worship service at the Congregational United Church of Christ in St. Charles and our scripture was the story of Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac. In case you don’t remember the story, Isaac (meaning ‘she laughs’) was born to Sarah and Abraham when they were older, maybe even in their 80’s. God had promised Abraham that Isaac would be the beginning of THE Israelite bloodline and that the Israelites would someday be a great nation. Now, in this passage, God is telling Abraham to kill and burn that long-awaited child.

Wait, what?!?

I could imagine Abraham’s dismay, his disappointment, his grief.  But we, as good Christians, are told that Abraham obeyed God. Fortunately, at the last moment, God’s messenger gave Abraham a reprieve. God’s sense of timing, horror, and humor continue to amaze me. I know about hoping for that reprieve. I started seminary and whether I wiggled out of it or God said, “just kidding, Melissa; you don’t have to go anymore,” I still don’t know. But I went saying that I hoped for Abraham’s reprieve.

Yesterday, for a split second, I understood terrorism or one possibility for some terrorists. And the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  My hand flew over my mouth. “What if this is what the fundamentalist terrorists hear?” I don’t think they hear the one true God, but they do. I could imagine thinking, “God (or whatever name), you tell me to kill people. Please, God, oh please, don’t make me do that.” But they don’t get Abraham’s reprieve.

Will you pray with me, please?

 

Maker Most Mysterious,

I don’t even know if this story actually happened. I do know that only thee could make it happen. Impregnating 80-year-olds then obligating an offering of the offspring, only thee. Only thee could cause Mary to be pre-marital and pregnant. These stories shake me up. Thee make me think, God, and that can’t be bad. Thee are amazing!

 

Lover of Life,

I bring to thee today my family. Keep me married and make that marriage thrive if it be thy will. Give me reason to laugh in my 80’s. Grant children to my daughter, Kate, when/if the time is right. (Perhaps she could name her first daughter ‘Isaica’.)

And, Lord, bring wisdom to those who would otherwise commit acts of terror. Help us all to remember that life and love is always thy will, no matter how hard it may be to feel love. Help me to remain a calm, healthy adult in all circumstances.

 

Generous Giver,

It’s soon to be one of the most busy times of year. Thank thee for the resources to make a Thanksgiving and a Christmas celebration. Thank thee for good smells, not burnt offerings. Thank thee for the ability to await all that is to come, with patience, joy and excitement. God, I love thee so much!

In Jesus’ precious name,

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

 

Love always,

Melissa
Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.net

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

 

Jesus came to Galilee … saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” – Mark 1:14-15 (NRSV)

This UCC devotional, written by the Rev. Vince Amlin, (link) is one I have already sent to my son who, after 9/11, was concerned with clean underwear and a charger for his phone, both given to him by store personnel; yes, GIVEN.  New York University set up free housing in north Central Park hotels for students affected, like my son (he lived 2 blocks east of the Twin Towers) and gave each $200 until they could get back into their apartment-dorms to dust (at least, I think he dusted). I’m grateful to be so cavalier about that fateful day now; I was in a panic and had three co-workers praying with me until we heard that my son was ok.

 

I judged him (though I should never judge another) in the days that followed. He had no classes. He could get to Hoboken to see his girlfriend. He could get to the library to study. He never went south of 14th Street to help with the cleanup.

 

I’m not one who believes that God micromanages us.  I have a hard time asking for a green light or a parking space, unless I’m really, really rushed.  I pray most mornings with a format of ‘praise, ask, thank’. I believe God asks us to make the best of whatever happens to us and I believe that God delights when we do! I’m sure God grieved with all those who touched the lives of those who died that day, terrorist or terrorized. I believe God grieved for the people who piloted planes into the World Trade Center Twin Towers as well as those who died helping others to get to safety.

 

 

I am grateful, and I’m sure God is, for all the people who helped find the survivors and clean up the mess.  I believe God grieved Bin Laden’s death before Bin Laden had a chance to see that hate is not the answer.

 

I wish my son had helped.  I’m not in my son’s skin and I don’t know what PTSD he had in the days afterward. I love my son. God loves my son. God loves me.

 

Will you pray with me, please?

Omnipresent Organizer,
Only thee keep the earth spinning on its axis around our sun. Only thee created it all, part and parcel.  Some people turn good; some turn bad; some are indifferent.  Thee delight, I believe, in those of us who do good things and who are good people and who think good thoughts, no matter how large or small.
Or am I anthropomorphizing?  I think not. I think thou are wonderful. Thee are beyond my imagination and thee are amazing!
Almighty Answerer,
I pray today for a day free of terrorism. I pray for my family, keep us safe if it be thy will. I pray the same for my friends. Lord, thee know I am underemployed and have little money. I pray thee will remind me to be the best job applier I can be so that I can land the job of our dreams, thy and mine. Thy will, not mine, be done. I pray for those who are sick. For those thee will heal, please do so quickly, if it be thy will. For those who will die, please bring them to thy glorious paradise quickly, so they don’t need to suffer — but thee know best and I’m sure sometimes that suffering can serve thy glorious purpose. I pray for those who are too cold in this northern hemisphere and too hot in the southern hemisphere. Climate change scares me a little, but I know thee’ve got it under control in a way I can’t understand.
And forgive me, please, Lord, for being judgmental. I know better; I’m still human, but I keep striving for progress, never claiming perfection.
Generous Giver,
Thank thee for my furnace which hasn’t seemed to stop running this morning of 6 degrees Fahrenheit. Thank thee for the possibility of jobs. Thank thee for the lovely bracelet Mary gave to me for my birthday with a cross and the word ‘blessed’ on it. Thank thee for the Fitbit my kids gave to me that reminds me to walk. Thank thee for all good things which come from heaven above. Thank thee for thy love. Lord, I love thee so much!

In Jesus’ almighty name,

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

 

Love always,

Melissa
Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.net

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

© Melissa Pazen, 2019

God Trusted
That your parents
And their parents
And your grandparents’ great, great grandparents
And those people
all the way back to those Cro-Magnon folks
. . .
God trusted them to make you.
. . .
Now, God was around before the beginning
And God will still be around after it all ends.
. . .
And I don’t know if God sat down and created a chart
that Gregor Mendel discovered;
. . .
I don’t know why you or one of your friends
was conceived through
violence,
or
wasn’t wanted
or
maybe even was wanted.
. . .
(There are many things I don’t know;
and that’s
why
I say “God only knows”
but maybe other people know and just I don’t.)
. . .
Here’s what I know:
. . .
God trusted your parents
and all those progenitors
to make you
One
Beloved
Child
of
God’s
. . .
And it doesn’t matter to me whether your parents wanted you or not.
I know that you are not an accident because
God trusted because
. . .
God wanted you.

Amen.

To God be the Glory!

 

© Melissa Pazen, 2017

Love always,

Melissa
Melissa Pazen, MSW

INSPIRED COACHING, MELISSA PAZEN

39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

www.melissapazen.net

LIVE INSPIRED: think boldly; love unconditionally; behave respectfully; act deliberately, kindly, justly, mercifully and humbly; forgive easily; live authentically; laugh frequently!

positive-teens

I got a message from one of the Moms at our Church, saying she had a bizarre idea.  We missed each other by email and phone for more than a week and finally met for lunch two days ago.  Her idea is to host a group for young women who have been hospitalized for self-harming behavior, depression, suicide attempts.  These adolescents have psychiatrists, therapists, and medication, but they still feel isolated and lonely.  Their friend choices are frequently of others who might be 

Holy Cow, God,

Only you have the absolute right way to do things. You called the worlds into being and you call me to run an activity group for some troubled, local, adolescent girls who need more friends and need something to do. While I wouldn’t have thought of working with teens, I know your plan is perfect. You are amazing!

Glorious God,

I am very excited about this and I can only sing your praises from morning to night. Lord, I ask only that you’ll let me be a blessing to these young women. I know they will be a blessing in my life. I pray that you will whisper in my ear every time I’m with this group. And until I see them again, hold them close and remind them to lean on your perfect strength, since we can do nothing without you.

Perfect Parent,

affirmation1-1024x927The request that I run this group is an affirmation of my talent and skill.  It is an incredibl gift. I know this comes from you, who loves me more than life itself; you proved that in Jesus. You also showed us that your life and energy go on forever. That the mom who came to me wanted someone with a Christian perspective makes me delighted.  That this is an activity and coaching group, not therapy is freeing.

Lord, I need you to know I am grateful.  I thank you.  I love you so much!

And I pray in Jesus’ almighty name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2014

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

Yes, the Sovereign Lord is coming in power.
    God will rule with a powerful arm.
    See, God brings the reward as God comes.
God will feed God’s flock like a shepherd.
    God will carry the lambs in God’s arms,
holding them close to God’s heart.
    God will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

~  Isa 40: 10-11

You must see these photos to see why I searched for the Isaiah verses about lambs and sheep.

lambsNutcracker

Lord,

I love the little lambs, and I am grateful that you hold them close to your heart. Only you could envision moments like this: visions that bring pure joy to the beholder. You are amazing.

Generous Giver,

That’s all; just a little moment with a great shared visual. Thank you for the moment. Thank you for my life.

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!

 

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!

This morning, I arose late and awakened slowly.  I had a quick chat on Facebook with Chris, my own biological true son.  I routinely call him “my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased”, as one of the a gospel writers said God referred to Jesus.  Chris is funny, smart and successful.  (Below is Chris, with my sweet, brilliant biological true daughter, Kate.)

Chris_n_Kate

I’ve been hanging out on Facebook now for 1-1/2 hours and I thought I was wasting time.  But then another ‘beloved son’ who found me on Facebook last fall posted a math problem.  I thought through my answer and chose the incorrect answer.  We started chatting and once again, I’m praying for Fizzy/Fritz.  This is he:

Fritz

When first he introduced himself he wrote:

Among great people,i believe i shall become great too and to tell my story to others how others impact my life positively. I live in Cameroon and am a Cameroonian, God fearing young man willing to get inspired and supported by others who can add value to my life and i shall also adhere to them. I am a good student studying accounting specialty but not been able to get a university study for 4years now after high school because i’m an orphan with no one to help me in my education. I have tried but i can not help myself by myself in my education. I seek to have a lovely caring parent who can treat me like his own. You seem wonderful and not a racist and that i’m happy. I will like to go back to any university to continue my study home or abroad but all i wish for is financial support and if you can help me,you will forever remain in my heart and i shall tell my story to others and help others who will need my help. Please Melissa inspire my life and give me hopes of living. I barely know you and i’m trusting you to help me and I pray that May God help you and touch your work so that you can help me.

So I’ve been praying for Fritz for about nine (9) months now.  And it was the easiest pregnancy that I’ve had, this figurative one!  Go figure!

We’ve been chatting on Facebook for about 30 minutes and here is my prayer for Fritz, my beloved son.

Eternal Energy,

Long before I became Melissa, you knew me.  Before Fritz was conceived or imagined, you knew him.  You are more than we can ever imagine.  You are the source of everything we see and hear and feel and smell and taste and touch.  Amazing!  I worship you.

Loving Light,

You bring us out of darkness.  Today I pray for Fritz.  He asks that “God should hold me and use me in His vinyard”.  I pray, Lord, that you will enfold him in your loving embrace and bless him.  Help Fritz find a way to get educated as he wishes and let him serve you.  Give him ‘enough’, Lord.   Your love gives us so much more than ‘enough’ spiritually!  Your love flows into us and fills every little space in our beings.  Fill Fritz and let your love overflow, spilling out of him to all the others with whom he comes into contact.  Bless his life and let him be a blessing to others.  Inspire him to find ways to provide for himself.  In love, let him build a huge family and bring your kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give Fritz what he needs as you give me what I need.  We ask nothing more than to serve you and dwell with you all the days of our lives.

Generous Grace,

Thank you for this technology that brings Cameroon and the United States into the same space.  Thank you for bringing Fritz and me together so that we can worship you and feel your love.

Cameroon

Your abundance is overwhelming.  Thank you for the feelings you instill in us.  Thank you.  Thank you.  And thank you.  I am grateful.  Lord, I love you so much.

And claiming to be his follower, I dare to pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

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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