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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,


To God be the Glory!


Love always,


Melissa Pazen, MSW


39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

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

© Melissa Pazen, 2019


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord…

— Romans 8:38-39

Oh, my all-knowing and glorious God,

god_welcomeI’ve just received word that Dick died this morning, just a little while ago. What a road my mind takes. Almighty One, you called the worlds into being and you knew Dick before he was knitted in his mother’s womb. You have called him home to heaven. I don’t understand your ways, dear Lord; my vision is not as all-encompassing as yours.  I can only let go and adore your exquisite plan.  You are amazing!

I praise you for knowing when to call home Dick’s soul. I know his body and his mind had been failing him increasingly and I am grateful that his need to fight for life has ended. I know that he rests in your arms and that his soul takes on abilities that humans do not have. I know that he now has supreme joy.

Lord of Love and Light,

I pray for those who love Dick. While they know he now has no pain, they are left with emotional pain because they will miss him. While this frees time for Lindsey, she would have loved more time with her beloved husband. Their children and grandchildren likely feel gypped for not having more time with Dick when he was brilliant, capable, loving, and funny. This time for them is bittersweet. And they are just sad, feeling their loss.

jesus-reaching-inI pray that you will hold them close, Lord. Hold them and comfort them. Whisper in their ears that they, too, are your beloved children and that your plans for them are for their welfare. Help them to remember the storms that they have already weathered, by your guiding hand. Remind them to be gentle of one another and of themselves, times of loss are stressful and it’s easy to forget to be kind. Remind them that loving Dick formed an incredible bond among them and that nothing can take that away.

Generous Giver,

You gave us Dick and we are grateful. You gave us sunshine so we can walk in the light, with a good ability to see and we are grateful. Lord, I love you so much!

And I pray in the mighty name of Jesus,


To God be all glory!

Love always,

Melissa Pazen, MSW


39w328 W. Burnham Ln, Geneva, IL  60134

Cell:  773.405.3301

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


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
…A time to kill, and a time to heal

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

AP_FALL_BACK_TIMERecently, I’ve watched a lot of people deal with loved ones end of life (or the over it).  Today in the US, it’s “Return to God’s Time” as daylight savings time ended at 2 a.m.   (I wasn’t up to count THAT down.)  My garden is brown or frozen because it’s -3ªc or 20ªf outside!  All the lovely blooms are gone and the annuals are too, except for tarragon & rosemary that I haven’t harvested yet.

This all reminds me of the seasonality of all living things.  Rod McKuen called it ‘Seasons in the Son’.  Leslie Bricusse talked about the morning, noon and evening of one’s life in Fill the World with Love in the musical “Good-bye, Mr. Chips”.  I simply wax nostalgic.

I remember my women’s theology group (Monday Night Bible Study or MonNtBS as I irreverently named my e-Mail group), working through the book of Job.  I went into it thinking “God and the Devil playing a game with a man’s life… RIGHT!”  But here’s the thing, I came out of it with a six word answer to many of our theological musings.  “I am God and you’re not.”  

Will you pray with me please?

Everlasting Energy,

You named yourself to our ancestors, “I am”. I can only agree, “Yes, God, YOU ARE.”  Job asked why he was smited and covered with sores. You asked if he was present when you called the world into being and hung the sun and moon.  Of course, Job wasn’t.  But “YOU WERE/ARE/WILL BE”.  Merely the fact of your infinite nature brings me figuratively to my knees while my literal fingers are on this keyboard.  I adore you, God.  You are AMAZING!

Lover of Light,

Perhaps you inspired daylight savings time.  (Wait, did I SAY that?  Of course, YOU DID!).

Responsive Ruler,

Jesus told the disciples that we should ask in his name, that our joy be made full.  I rarely ask for miracles, though.  When my 92 year-old mother-in-law went to the hospital, I thought, “This could be the end.  She’s lived a long time.” Then when she was moved to a rehabilitation center, I thought “Ah, an easier transition to this continuum of care facility.  She’ll move on to the other assisted living centers.”  Now she is home.  I praise you!  Only you could make this happen!

Annamae with Savannah

Responder to our Requests,

YOU ARE.  You answer the desires of our hearts that we dare not articulate — sometimes.  Then there is Mary’s 95 year-old mother, who cannot live unassisted anymore and has been moved to her son’s house, after hospitalization, then skilled nursing care, then home.  She can’t make it without someone strong to lift her. I suspect she’ll either die eventually in another skilled care facility or have hospice care at her son’s house.  So what of her? What should I ask of you?

Mary is sad and harried.  The weight of this is heavy on her shoulders.  God, will you inspire her with your peace?  I pray of thee, surround Mary and her family with your love and a bit of joy through this dark time of the soul.  Remind them, especially my good, good friend that the clouds will lift as they have this bright morning.  That while we go through autumn and winter, that your energy and spirit are always willing to support us, to let us lean on you.

Is this what it will take to get Mary back to church, God?  She has suffered with the guilt of a divorce, but you always forgive the penitent. I know  you still yearn for her; crave her attention.  You want her to worship YOU, not a religious rule that blocks her ability to seek you.  Put it on her heart at just the right time, to go to Mass or a Worship Service.  In your time, may this be done — not mine.  Remind her that communion in any form or any sense is bringing her soul to yours.  Let her commune with you and with other seekers of your kingdom.


Or perhaps, you will use her daughter’s new baby.  Remind Mary that the love is in that new life, too; that her relationship with her own granddaughter and daughter is equally important as her relationship with her mother.  Remind Mary to spend less time on worry and more time on “OPTIMISM” and peace and rest and self-care.  If she runs out of energy to replenish her own body, remind her that she must rebuild herself before she can build or rebuild others, I pray of thee, God.

Yet not my will, but yours, God.  Not in my time, but yours. Not to my glory, but to you be the glory,

Generous Giver,

Thank you for the mouse and the red underscores that help me to correct my mistakes.  Thank you for the ability to confess and apologize when I sin.  Thank you for Samantha Madhosingh’s month of gratitude.  Thank you for Jean Stone who taught me about gratitude even during those dark nights of the soul.  Thank you for the internet.  Thank you for daylong retreats and Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel and Rev. Merlyn Lawrence and for all the Sisters, Saints & Sinners who went with me.  Thank you for living my life with me and letting me live it for you.  Let me live to bring your kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven.  Let me live according to your will and to love, and to love and to love.

I dare to pray in Jesus’ name,


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!

I got word of the death of my friend Owen’s father.  At first I started to think about how Owen’s dad had lived a good long life.  Then I thought that his battle with cancer is over.  Then I thought about my own parents’ deaths.  There’s simply never a good time.

Endless Energy,

Long before Owen or I had come to this earth, you knew us.  Long before Owen’s dad had been the desire of his parents, you knew him.  You are.  You know.  You do.  You create.  You love.  Only you could plan for each of us and count the hairs on our heads and call us, by name, to be your beloved.  Amazing!

Burden Bearer,

You carry our loads, yoked with us.  As we grieve, so do you.  Yet you tell us there is no sting in death.  I know that’s true for those who have gone through death before us.  Those left behind feel sorrow, however.  And you are with us.


Lord, I bring Owen and all who loved his father.  I pray you will give them rest and solace.  Let them celebrate the life they’ve lost, knowing that love will continue. Hold them in your dearest embrace.  Let them stand with your support. Fill them with your comfort. Pour your grace onto them and let them be gentle and kind with one another.

Lord, I know there is a time for every purpose under heaven.  I know there is a time for death, but Lord, I can’t find it in my heart to believe that for those left behind there is ever a good time.  I think of Kris and Betsy, both of whom were nowhere near ready to lose their husbands.  I think of my brothers and sister and myself, losing our mothers when we were so young.  And yet, I know, Lord, that for those of us who walk with you, the journey goes on.  Some days it is easier, others it is as hard as if it happened again right now.

Lord, send your peace through the crying.  Send your humor through the dark and frightening times, I pray of thee, Lord…  if it please thee. Send your courage to face these days ahead, to go on with days, to be filled with gratitude for what we’ve had, for who we’ve loved, for who you’ve given us to go with us through our journey of time and experience.


Generous Giver,

For the forsythia buds that burst into bloom, for the promise of lilacs and cherry blossoms, for things past and a glorious future, I thank you.  All comes from you. I love you so much!

I pray in the mighty name, Jesus,


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 heard that my manager’s father-in-law has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and that while it is in an early stage, the father-in-law has  decided not to pursue treatment and to rest comfortably in the Lord’s hands.  I imagine this is very difficult for all who love this man.


God of Beginnings and Endings,

You have made a time for every purpose.  You understand everything.  Being merely your creations, we don’t.  And one of our flaws is that we wish we did understand everything.  We wish we could make things begin and end on our schedules, according to our desires.  We confess that we want the control and the knowledge only you have.

God of Parents and Children,

I pray for Debbie’s father and all who love him. I pray for his wife. I pray for Debbie and Steve and their children.


Lord of life,

if his decision to seek no treatment is the right one, let him rest securely.  If his decision is the wrong one, keep whispering in his ear until he hears you; let him seek your counsel and hear your wisdom.

Lord of loving,

I pray you will give serenity and acceptance of Debbie’s father’s decision to those in his family.  I pray you will help them to respect him and his decision.  While they must grieve their ultimate loss of his presence, let them remember all the good he has done.  Remind them of the love he has had for them, shown or undemonstrated.  More importantly, help each of them to remember the love you have for them – each and every one.  Let them know your love will always be available to them.  And let them know they can show your love to one another. Remind them to treat one another respectfully and kindly.  Let them know that when they walk humbly with you, loving justice and mercy, they are doing what you require of them.

God of memories,

Grant this family and all who love them the gift of spending time together now.  Remind them to enjoy the time that is left, whether it be several years or several days.  Remind them to seek the information they want to remember, whether they compile a memory scrap book or record his voice or make video.  Let them recognize the value of a human life and celebrate this man’s journey while they still have time with him.


In the days to come, when there are sad or difficult times, let these people lean on your strength and on one another who show your strength.  Remind them that whenever they face a dark night of the soul, your light will come again and bring knowledge in the morning that life goes on and joy will always come again.


Generous Giver,

All that we have, all who we love, everything we see comes from you.  You bless us abundantly and we are grateful.  Lord, we love you so much.

Through Jesus,


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’s StillSpeaking devotional addresses death and its sting.  Donna Schaper summons images of watching carrots grow in order to appreciate what it takes to change, and the time it may take.  Our congregation will be considering change this week-end at a visioning meeting.


Many fear death.  I suspect almost all of us fear pain preceding death.  There are a few of us who look forward to learning what comes after death.  I believe I’ve been promised something wonderful, and I’m eager to see how it pans out.  I remember a sermon that included the thought spurring comment: “What if you were to arrive in heaven and find Hitler standing next to you?”  I supposed it was meant as a conundrum or something to lead me to be sorry for living a life in which I attempt to do good and avoid evil.  My response:  I hope I won’t care.  I’m hoping for a heaven in which I truly will be overjoyed to be there…  and that it will surpass my best times on earth, and I won’t have to go home to get up and go to work or clean the house in the morning.   Perhaps I’ll understand something about how we both got there.  Don’t know about these things now, I’m merely God’s flawed creation.  I’m not supposed to know everything, so I can relax in the knowledge that I don’t.

Somehow, I am reminded of “Spirit” a lovely hymn written by James K. Manley, as he finished his doctoral thesis:


Spirit, spirit of gentleness,
blow through the wilderness, calling and free,
Spirit, spirit of restlessness,
stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.

You moved on the waters, you called to the deep,
then you coaxed up the mountains from the valleys of sleep;
and over the eons you called to each thing;
“Awake from your slumbers and rise on your wings.”

You swept through the desert, you stung with the sand
and you goaded your people with a law and a land;
and when they were blinded with idols and lies,
then you spoke through your prophets to open their eyes.

You sang in a stable, you cried from a hill,
then you whispered in silence when the whole world was still;
and down in the city you called once again,
when you blew through your people on the rush of the wind.

You call from tomorrow, you break ancient schemes.
From the bondage of sorrow all the captives dream dreams;
our women see visions, our men clear their eyes.
With bold new decisions your people arise.

(James K. Manley (20th century), hymn-writer. Published in Everflowing Streams (1981). “Spirit,” l. 1-4 (1978).)

Spirit of Gentleness,

You blow goodness and mercy just as the gentle wind blows ripples on the water.  You are the origin of my every thought.  You send inspiration to move me from my mental inertia.  I worship and adore you.

Spirit of Restlessness,

Stir me from placidness; guide me, I pray of thee, on a gentle but steady course of bringing your kingdom to come on earth.   Set my heart, mind, soul on your loving kindness.  Let me seek only to improve the world for all.  Let me be a calming presence among those in turmoil, helping to bring glimpses of your joy and your glory.

Spirit who calls me to freedom,

Thank you for calling me from tomorrow and breaking the ancient schemes.  Remind  me that my only bonds are those from which I could break through by following you.  Help me to make reality from the dreams of the captives.  Help me to report the women’s visions and encourage the men to clear their eyes and see you.  Help us all to arise and do your holy work.

Spirit who Cried from a hill,

Thank you for whispering to me in the silence.  Thank you for waking me in the night to meditate on you with the sting of my hand ‘falling asleep’.  Thank you for the extravagant blessings you have bestowed on me.  Thank you for a world of freedom in my head, to imagine your world of freedom on earth.  I love you so much.

In Jesus’ name,


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!

“It’s just unfair,” Lovelady’s brother, Mike Lovelady, said Tuesday. “My brother didn’t deserve to die.” reads the quote that struck me at  CNN’s website.

“Didn’t deserve to die?”  I thought.  I know this may sound callous to you but, did Mike Lovelady think his brother would live forever?  We all will die.  We are like grass (it reads in the 40th chapter of Isaiah, in the Jewish Bible, Prime Testament and Old Testament).  It’s a given, we’re not going to get out of this life alive.  I mean no offense.  It’s merely a true fact.


Continuous Creator,

Only you could have made this galaxy, this earth, this land, this man.  Only you have the power, the knowledge, the plan.  While humanity has learned how to fertilize a human egg with a human sperm, we simply could not make human life out of nothing.  Yours is the power; yours is the glory.

Eternal Energy,

We grieve at the loss of life; you created us that way.  We don’t want loved ones to die.

Loving Lord,

I pray that you will gather those who mourn in your loving embrace.  Remind them of the joy brought to their lives; help them to feel that joy again as they share their memories. Help them to lean on your perfect strength.  Remind them they are not alone, you will never abandon us. Help them to be kind, respectful, and gentle with one another.

Generous Giver,

Our lives, our loved ones, that which we eat, that where we sleep, everything, Lord, comes from you.  Thank you.  I am grateful. Lord, I just love you so much!

In Jesus’ name,


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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August 2020

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