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Again, a Stillspeaking Devotional touches me.  Mary Luti writes of 

in si·tu
ˌin ˈsīto͞o,ˈsē-/
adverb & adjective
  1. in its original place.
    “mosaics and frescoes have been left in situ”
  2. in position.
    “her guests were all in situ”

When I had breast cancer, in 2007, the tumor was “in situ”.  This means it hadn’t moved beyond the milk duct where it originally formed.  I give glory to God for having found it when it was SO small (6 mm – about 3/16 inch, photo is actual size).

6 mm - actual size

 

On Wednesday, I will have a repeat mammogram on the same (left) breast because it appears I have another calcification, often the precursor of cancer.  I know I’m not in control of these things, and I try not to worry.  

I keep giving this over to God and LET-NOT-YOUR-HEART-BE-TROUBLED-smtrusting.  Five minutes later, I’m giving it over again.  Sometimes I wish my humanity weren’t so human.  I know I’m not meant to be perfect, yet I long for serenity.  I long to be comforted and held secure in Jesus’ arms. I long to be able to rise above this.  As long as I keep my mind occupied with something else, something positive, I am safe.  My idle mind goes back to this over and over.  I guess the idle mind IS the devil’s playground.  I don’t believe in a personified devil, but I know there are forces of evil at work in the universe.  These are mine (and yours?) every time I slip from God’s embrace.  Will you pray with me, please?

 

Amazing Architect,

You created the universe and somehow you chose to create a wretch like me.  I praise you for finding me, for letting my blind eyes see you and the beauty of all your works.  I praise that you are creating still.  That you speak to us, not only from a document that is almost 2000 years old, but in the words of friends and your whispering voice.  I “hear” you in my quiet mind, with words you would have me think.  I worship you for this, the ability to turn my heart and my mind to the good, INSTEAD of dwelling on the bad… on my fears.  You are more than I could ever imagine; more powerful, more loving.  You are amazing!

Lord who Longs to make my joy full,

Joy-FullI pray you will be with me today.  I pray you will keep your loving arms around me and let me languish on your lap. I pray that in my time at church and my time with Kate & Will & Steve, you will keep my heart and mind on YOU. I pray you will banish my fears. I pray you will hold me close and remind me to lean on your perfect strength. I pray you will remind me that if you are for me, nothing greater can be against me. I pray that you will let nothing separate me from your love, even sickness – if it shall be so, even death whenever it comes (may it be years away!)

I pray for others who suffer with fear and illness: Craig, Thea, and many too numerous to mention – yet you know their names and my intent. I pray for all the littluns who arrived earlier than their parents planned: Emilie, Hayden & Ethan, Nick & Alex and many too numerous to mention. I pray for my congregation as we seek your will in becoming “Open and Affirming” of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders — and of all those for whom we see the differences and forget the similarities.

I pray that you will remind us we are your precious children, that each of us have a life that matters dearly to you.

Magnificent Maker,

You are the source of everything I sense – see, hear, smell, taste and feel.  You have given it all to me and my brothers & sisters in this world — and every human is my brother or my sister! I am filled with gratitude and I thank you.  And, Lord, thank you.  And by the way, Lord, thank you. May I ever be in awe of what you have done for me, and continue to do, and will do forever.

And I pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

© Melissa Pazen, 2015

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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John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us.”

John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success.  He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

~ John 3: 26 -30

This morning, Mary Luti knocked it out of the park with her Stillspeaking Devotional about John the Baptist.  I had been sitting at my desk getting weepy because people don’t realize I’m sensitive and hurt easily.  And whenever this happens, I try to remember again — it’s not about me.  

A while back, Colleen Gabel led a retreat for women of the Congregational Church of  Batavia called “Cracked Pots to Holy Vessels” (or something like that…  I know cracked pots WAS involved, because the pun was totally intended!)  Will you pray with me, please?

cracked pot

Parent and Potter,

You are the architect of the universe and the builder and the materials and the laborer.  You created the heavens and the earth and I suspect there was little ‘hard work’ done to create it — I think you can’t help but create.  I think your creative energy is love.  I know you are amazing!

Gracious God,

Help me to remember that my every move should be to increase you.  Grant me the humility I lack.  Keep me on my knees worshipping you, not mistakenly thinking it’s about me.  Make me a vessel, filled with you to overflowing.  Empty my mind of me by filling it with you.  Make me a blessing for others, Lord — nothing more.

vessel for God

Constant Creator,

You have given me this mind, these fingers, these thoughts.  Without you, I am nothing — I would not be. Thank you for my life. Lord, I love you so much.  I am grateful.

And I dare to pray claiming Jesus’ 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!

Today’s StillSpeaking Devotional was thoughtful and apt.  Rev. Mary Luti refers to “Deus Absconditus”.  I HAD to look up the meaning?  I think of abscond as the little boy taking cookies.  It’s a word my Papa used to use!

Merriam-Webster’s definition:

DEUS ABSCONDITUS

: hidden God : God unknowable by the human mind
Well, how about that?  The hidden God who is unknowable by the human mind is the God I pray to every time I pray.  It is God’s “unknowability”, God’s excession (that God exceeds) that makes me worship this God.  It’s God’s ‘moreness’.
I am reminded of the word “inscrutable”…  Like an onion, having many layers.
God the Onion
And how appropriate that this was my prayer today:

Today I feel physically poor enough that I could put my head down and cry.  Even writing this makes my eyes well up.  And yet, it’s not that I am too weak, too ill, too pained.  It’s that I’m finding it hard to keep going.  I don’t know if you’ve heard Tenth Avenue North’s song “Worn” on the radio.  It’s pretty close to how I feel:

“Worn”

I’m Tired I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn

My prayers are wearing thin
Yeah, I’m worn
Even before the day begins
Yeah, I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So, heaven come and flood my eyes

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause all that’s dead inside will be reborn

Though I’m worn
Yeah I’m worn

worn

You’ll notice there’s no upbeat section where God rushes in and makes everything alright.  That’s reality.  God doesn’t rescue us from these times; God gives us strength (If we want it and take it) to live through those times.  Due to my health (lack thereof actually), I’m dealing with one now.  I know I just need to go on in spite of it, but it’s hard to muster up the strength.  I worked five hours on Monday (then 2.5 on the 2nd job) and stayed in bed yesterday.  Physically, I’ve had enough rest, but my head is stuffy, my nose is full of sores and I feel like a horse who’s been “rode hard and put up wet”.

How’s that for a lovely image?  Pretty crappy, eh?

Here’s my good news:  my weight is down a total of 14 pounds since May 28, when it hit its highest.  I’m back where I was when I hit my lowest with weight watchers.  Here’s my other good news:  my nails are stronger than they’ve ever been & longer than they’ve ever been on their own.  Here’s one more piece of good news, I’m eating very carefully, for health & nutrition.  The final good news of the day?  The “Doc-in-a-Box” (urgent care walk-in of the medical practice I use), guy was very kind and gave me a 14 day script for Amoxicillin.

Eternal Energy,

You are always God.  Whether times are good or bad, you continue to be present and working hard for the coming of your kingdom on earth. What seems impossible to us, what seems extremely difficult to us, is merely another bit of motion for you.  I can’t begin to understand what you are, who you are, how far you go.  But I know you are energy; you are goodness personified; you are everlasting; you are taller than the mountains, larger than the oceans and your love never gives up.  You are more. You are amazing.  I worship you.

Never-stopping Nudger,

Just as I try to know what to write to you here, I get notices that Susan has sent a prayer to me via e-mail.  And as I click them into the background on my computer, the reminder pops up to “Pray”.  You just don’t give up, do you!  You tickle me!  You are the God of co-incidence…  and paradox.

Loving Light,

As I spend time with song lyrics, another set comes to me, Building 429’s “We Won’t Be Shaken”.

“We Won’t Be Shaken”

This world has nothing for me
This life is not my own
I know you go before me
And I am not alone
This mountain rises higher
This way seems so unclear
But I know that you go with me
I will trust in you

Whatever will come my way
Through fire or pouring rain
We won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken
Oooh Oh Oh
Oooh Oh Oh
Oooh Oh Oh
No we won’t be shaken

You know my every longing
You’ve heard my every prayer
You’ve held me in my weakness
Cause you are always there
So I’ll stand in full surrender
It’s your way and not my own
My mind is set on nothing less
Than you and you alone
I will not be moved oh

Whatever will come my way
Through fire or pouring rain
We won’t be shaken
No we won’t be shaken
Whatever tomorrow brings
Together we’ll rise and sing
That we won’t be shaken

We will trust in you
We will not be moved

Lord,

I cry out to you to help me keep my sunny side up. Help me to smile and to continue through whatever comes my way.  You know I always trust in you; I know you to be a good God, worthy of all praise.  You are the only one.

Lord,

I pray that you will strengthen me.  Help me to work with my doctors to find a way to stay healthy enough to do your work and to make a living.

Lord,

I pray for Steve and me. You have bound us together with your love. Help us to appreciate one another, and the efforts needed to make it through the day.  Lord, when I say appreciate, I mean to recognize the value of what is done (and what is said and thought, and the effort to smile even if not feeling happy).  Lord, remind me that the dogs go ballistic with glee when we come home; let me be the same.  Let me convey to Steve your extravagant grace, your extravagant welcome, your extravagant, overflowing, relentless love.  Help us to edify one another, and at the very least to support one another.

Incredible Imagineer,

Thank you for the thoughts you’ve planted in my head in the last hour – as I think of you.  Thank you for tissues into which I can blow my nose.  Thank you for neti pots to clean out the junk stuck in my nose and sinuses that stuffs me up and hurts.  Thank you for sleep that rebuilds me.  Thank you for protein and carbohydrates that come in the form of good tasting food.  Thank you for fresh vegetables at this time of year.  Thank you for oxygen.  Thank you for life.  Thank you for making me a person who wants to do better.  Thank you for making me a person who wants to help bring your kingdom to come on earth, as it is in heaven.  Lord, I love you so much!

While I fall short of the mark he left on this world, I still dare to pray in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To God be the glory!

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 5/22 Stillspeaking Daily Devotional from the UCC was written by Rev./Prof. Mary Luti.  As I finished reading it, I was in tears.  It took me 18 minutes to stop while praying the following.  If you haven’t read it, click the link above.  It’s among the most beautiful!

God of Wind and Quietude,

I don’t understand how you can be both, but I trust you are.

Moore, Oklahoma Tornado on Ground

God of Chaos and Order,

I can’t fathom where I would begin in a catastrophe like Oklahoma’s, but I trust you do.

God of Creation and Destruction,

I can’t imagine the purpose of this horrific situation, but I know you’re there, and I trust that my task is to begin anew and every moment I need it, to rest in your arms – crying, planning, lauding, thanking.

God of Faith, Hope and Love,

I remember the words of the TV ad from the 1960’s, “Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

moore-ok-tornado-prayer-2

Ever-present Energy,

I bring this mess in Moore, Oklahoma to you and I place it at your feet. I don’t have the power alone to resolve it. Indeed Lord, no human nor group of humans have the power alone.  I praise you, Lord, because you do.

Remind me to pray without ceasing today.  Remind me to cling to you, for I will be better off with your loving arm around my shoulder than anywhere without you.  Remind me to hope today, because up until now, bad has always gotten better when I prayed and planned and practiced patience, then put my shoulder to the load as I put on the yoke with you.  Remind me today to love, for there’s really no other reason for me to be here.

Generous Grace,

It may not feel like much sometimes, but as long as we still are living, we have an incredible gift from you.  I’m grateful.  The house may be gone, but if someone survived and someone else can hold that person, cling to that person, take and offer support, each has an incredible gift from you.  If clean water, a change of underwear, a cell phone, a nourishing meal is brought in by “the helpers” (as Fred Rogers’ mother would say), all will be well again eventually.

moore-ok-tornado-work

That was a POWERFUL wind.  And no, I don’t think you were angry at ANYONE nor sent tornadoes to punish ANYONE.  I think bad things happen and it’s up to you and me to pull up our bootstraps or our ‘big-girl panties” and get to work to bring your kingdom, to end evil, to create a world filled with love that can overcome anything, even death.  So, God of all Good Things, thank you.  Thank you for my life.  Thank you for a few extra dollars to send to the non-profits that will help.  Thank you for FEMA, even though I can’t fix it all by itself.  Thank you for the calm, beyond the  storm.  Lord, I just love you so much!

In Jesus’ 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!

Professor Mary Luti wrote, in this morning’s StillSpeaking Devotional of the capacity for evil and violence in each of us.

So what  Prof. Luti is saying is “It could have been me.”  “There but for the Grace of God, go I.”  “We’re all more same than different.”   Some of us don’t want to remember that.  Some of us, the moral majority or the “good Christians” or the “practicing Jews” want to think we are no longer capable of such.

And then I remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who decided (with others) that it would be best to kill Hitler – to kill the evil one and stop the killing of the innocent ones.  Bonhoeffer’s writings are brilliant.  His theology touches my soul.  Yet he was an attempted murderer.  We’re all more same than different.

Ever-renewing Energy,

What an amazing creator you are.  To have allowed humans to be sentient; thinking, reason, deciding.  To have allowed humans to decide between evil and good; free will.  I don’t care if you made one Adam and one Eve or if we came through evolution or mutation, it’s still very cool what you’ve done.  Maybe you experimented: let me try this – oops, no Sodomites need to be wiped out!  How about this?  Nope, gonna wipe it out with a flood.  (Today in the middle west, millions of worms are being wiped  out due to the amount of  rain we’ve received in the last day!  What will the robins eat?  Maybe soggy worms…  maybe that’s what you wanted…  interesting.)  Maybe you don’t get involved at the micro-level.  Maybe you do.  Maybe you weep when even the least of your plans needs to be crossed off your endless list of possibilities.

Yet, you continue.  Maybe you just can’t help it.  Maybe what you are means you just keep creating.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maybe you set out to make exactly me, and watch what happened from the time my parents got the right cells together to start me.  Maybe you laugh along with me when the joy can’t be contained anymore.  Maybe you clap when I go to the doctor and am taken off a medication.  That would be pretty nifty.  I would adore you anyway…  just because of what or who you are, but I think I would like you, too.  Maybe I’ll find out some day.  Maybe I won’t.  Maybe I won’t even care.  Maybe it will be like Daisy or Duey when they fall asleep in a ‘down stay’ and then wake up and don’t even remember.  That’d be ok.  Oh, wait, anything you do would be ok with me because it’s you, God.  And you’re amazing.  But this was a  fun little meditation; a little frolic and detour.  And it’s a rainy kind of morning when that kind of musing is entertaining.  To you too?  Amazing!

OK, God, let me get down to it.

All-knowing Architect,

What’s up with Amy again?  Why can’t the Lupus calm itself and let her stay out of the ICU?  So she didn’t have another seizure, that’s great!  But now, she got out of bed and fell?  And then she fell again.  And then they took her back to the ICU.  Please, please, please, be the doctors.  Be the medicine.  Be the technology.  Inspire the whole team of people caring for Amy, please.  Please?

And poor Doug and Jill and Paula and Julie!  Please hold on to them; enfold them in your arms so they feel your love and your strength.  Lord, your sense of time might be very different from ours, and this feels like such a long time!  And Amy gets a little bit better and then something else happens.  How can they not be disappointed and frustrated?  How can they not be crying “again?!?!  Seriously?!?”  And how can they continue to trust and be faithful servants through this?  How can they not be consumed with the question “WHY?”

Please, Lord, be with them.  Nourish them with the memory of Job.  Remind them that it’s not about the why, it’s about the what and the with whom.  Help them to remember to love mercy and seek justice and walk humbly with you.  Help them remember that there will be good days again.  Help them to know your peace.  Give them times of respite, maybe with prayer and meditation.  Help them to take their thinking minds off this for a little while and rest.

I bring Susan to you again, today.  I pray you’ve allowed her the medication to dull the pain from her back injury. Send your warmth and healing energy to her, please Lord.

I pray for Steve, home sick from work with the bug going around.  Give him rest and rebuild his systems. Give him a sunny attitude in the midst of this storm.

And now my mind goes back to Prof. Luti’s devotional from this morning.  It could be any of us.  We could have built pressure cooker bombs and left them near the finish line of a marathon.  Or blown up someone/something in the middle east and just happen to kill people who were walking along and weren’t the targets at all.

Some places have more violence than others.  I remember when Steve and I were talking about a honeymoon and I wanted to go to Ireland and Steve thought it was too dangerous.  And I’m reading Eat Pray Love and in Bali there was horrid violence within the last century and now it’s back to being thought of an idyllic paradise.

Thinker-Seated-Young-Woman-

Lord, here’s my plan (and I know it’s meager and flawed):  I’m going to live praising you and go where I wish – even in the valley of the shadow of death.  You’ll be with me, I know that.  I’m going to live my life with as much joy as I can muster and as much kindness as I can share.

Continuous Creator,

Wherever I go, you’re there with me.  Whatever I think, you are the source.  Whatever I have, you made.  Thank you for daffodils and forsythia.  Thank you for cold and heat.  Thank you for sun and for darkness.  Thank you for rest and work.  Thank you for friends and love and community.  Thank you for all the things and people that remind me of you.  I love you so much!  And

I pray in Jesus’ 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!

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