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Today’s Stillspeaking Devotional, written by Donna Schaper, is called “Pointsettias”.  As I was reading, the phrase I’m using for the title jumped out at me and I hurried here to paste it and start my notes for my prayer.  And then, to have integrity, I read and reread the entire devotional. 

“Substituting details for depth” …is that when I buy so many Christmas presents for someone instead of spending time with him? …is that when I criticize the grammar and punctuation instead of lavishing in the thoughts behind the writing? …do I decorate for Christmas instead of contemplating the possibility of Jesus coming as a human and changing the world?

What does “prepare for the glory of the Lord by fixing the universe, despite itself” mean? I long to leave the world better than it was when I arrived, yet I have a bit of trouble realizing that sometimes I need to be ‘accepted the things I cannot change’, in Bonhoeffer’s words. I’m good at attempts to improve the large social ills and need to keep working on keeping my side of the street clean in my closest relationships.  Mindfulness, sometimes a difficult practice to keep in place.  

Quinn Caldwell’s All I Really Want has been a wonderful source of contemplation last advent and this. 

Unimaginable One,

I come to humble myself and to worship you, shouting your praises internally while be quiet externally. Your name should echo throughout the universe and I praise you, adore you. You are the almighty, the all mighty, and I am but one of your creations. Yet, you know me inside out. You know my name and speak to me individually through little bursts of inspiration. You are amazing!

Indescribable God

Loving Lord,

Today, I ask that you will heal Steve’s bruises from his fall. He’s feeling better yet plans to stay off the bruised leg today and that’s a little difficult for me to accept (even though I can’t change it). Thank you for the chance that he might work Saturday to make up the hours. 

I ask for the ability to relax my own aching neck and head today. I try to avoid pain medication for fear it will harm my kidneys and/or lose its effectiveness.


Super-giving Source,

Thank you for advent meditation opportunities like the one I enjoyed last night. Thank you for Susan, who loves me dearly. Thank you for my faith community who are extensions of family for me. Thank you for a brain to think. I love you so much!

And I pray in Jesus’ name,


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!

Today’s StillSpeaking Devotional touches me deeply, because I love to turn out all the lights except on my Christmas tree, then sit and be with God.  Everywhere I can today, I’m quoting Quinn Caldwell:

The Wise Men would never have been able to see that star if they’d been standing in the parking lot of a 24-hour Wal-Mart. 

BowerBirdI believe the American public (perhaps everyone, but I only know the US culture) has a love affair with shiny, pretty things.  We’re like bowerbirds; the male of this pair builds the nest and includes bits of anything that shines in order to attract the female.  Babies stare at lights. I believe all of us are attracted to them.

But overly bright light hurts our eyes.  I remember the warning when an eclipse was coming, “don’t look directly at the sun, you’ll burn your eyes!”  Is that true?  I don’t know; but I know that if I look at bright lights too long I continue to see them for a long time, when I close my eyes.  And I’m not fond of blinking lights, either.  They bother me and if they’re really bad, trigger a migraine.

IMG_4251A few little candles set a beautiful mood, as do the low wattage bulbs on my tree.  And without strong glitz as marquee lights bidding for my attention, I can achieve calm bliss.  And that’s often when God creeps quietly to my side and lays an arm around my shoulders.  I feel God’s peace.  I recognize God’s inspirations for me.

Will you pray with me, please?


Bright Builder,

You created the dark and the light.  Only you could have ‘hung the moon’ and the sun. You show us that too much light can be a decoy from the true light. You are unimaginable. You are. You are amazing!


Loving Light,

Lead us to the right amount of light.  Show us that when we are in darkness, we still can be strong, calm, confident and that by extinguishing the input from one of our senses, we can focus on those sixth sense phenomena – intuition, imagination, meditation, sitting humbly in your presence and feeling your invisible touch, your non-touch.

I bring to you all people; we need your light today.  I need light to complete my house cleaning; finding the dust and loading the laundry.  I need light to tell if the cookies I am baking are just the right shade at the edges.  I need a light that illuminates, not one that blinds me to your presence. Tomorrow, I will spend my entire day celebrating the light that you have sent to the world, Jesus.  Though I sit and meditate in your darkness, you guide me with Jesus’ light.  You show me the way through what I know of him.  Grant me the grace to be able to live humbly, lovingly, wisely, justly, mercifully; as Jesus did while a human on earth.


Generous Giver,

I look out the window and see snow drifting to earth while the sky is bright enough to see and appreciate it.  I feel the warmth from the furnace in my home. I smell the ginger and bayberry scents of the season.  I hear the beautiful music, both old and new, that brings my heart to the center.  That center is where I find you, Lord.  Thank you for all these comforts.  Thank you for the love you continue to create on this earth.  Thank you for my life.  Lord, 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!

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,


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!

Oh, Golly, I could see myself doing a 5-hour sprinkler fiasco like that described in Quinn Caldwell’s latest Stillspeaking Devotional.  I’d suggest you read his piece then come back to this.  (“Grass looks great, though; don’t you think?”) 

Although my sprinkler fiasco will be me as the Grandma (please God, someday…  whenever the time is right!) between the praise dancing and the finger painting.  My poor kiddos never got a 5-hr sprinkle from me, we mostly lived in a 3rd floor walk-up!


Anyway, the following excerpts from the devotional explain why Quinn Caldwell can run his inspirational sprinkler on my parched soul ANY OLD time:

I think most of the dry wastelands in which we find ourselves are of our own creation.  We live in wastefulness or wantonness or selfishness or just general jerkiness.  And then when the good water is used up and our friends have all been driven away and we find ourselves dry and alone, we look around, surprised, and claim it’s not our fault.

Luckily, I live in a pretty wet part of the world, and our well refilled itself quickly.  Luckier still, we worship a God who pours herself out in streams of living water on the just and the unjust, and nobody who doesn’t want to need live in a parched land of their own creation for long.

Relentless Renewer,

You give us the water we need and then, after we’ve wasted it, you replenish the source and we can start all over again!

pride sprinkler

Loving Lord,

Remind us to be mindful caretakers of the wonder we call earth.  Let us be daring in our efforts to reduce our carbon footprints.  Let us remember that you’ve been extravagant, relentless, even wasteful in the blessings you’ve showered upon us.  Remind us to sing “Dayenu” (“it would have been enough for us”) every time we see your gifts – the grand canyon, polar ice caps and glaciers, the migration of Serengeti, the great barrier reef, the Victoria and Niagara falls, the aurora borealis, the Amazon rainforest and each sunrise.

Generous Giver,

For all we have, for all we experience, for all we feel, I am grateful.  Lord, I love you so much!


And 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!

Today’s UCC StillSpeaking Devotional is written by our favorite author, Quinn Caldwell.  Did you SEE the link of the halo?  It looks to me like a rainbow and certainly is like the way we imagined Jesus’ halo when I was a little kid.  I think I’ve seen paintings like that.

Perfect Painter,

You dreamed up all the colors of the rainbow.  You put all the beautiful colors in the stripes of the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert and Red Rock.  Your sense of aesthetics is more beautiful than anything I could imagine.  Amazing!  And when humans acted selfishly and like bone-heads and like stuffy Pharisees, you sent Jesus to show us the way you want us to live.  Amazing!


Loving Lord,

This morning, I bring my friend Susan to you.  Grant her your peace, that surpasses all understanding.  Give her unlimited joy as she prepares for the ceremony making public her marriage to Matt.

I bring Thea to you; we are so grateful for her healing and that you have ways for her to avoid nausea during chemo as well as ways for her to receive healthy blood chemicals to give her energy.

I bring Lindsey, and all our siblings in Christ who travel.  Make straight their ways and bring them safely home to their ministries with us.

I bring Tom, Carol, Debbie’s father and all who have pain and illness. Give them your energy and peace to keep the pain from turning into suffering.

I come to you my own self, asking for more energy and a sense of well-being. I pray you will bless my relationships and my interactions.

But most importantly, Lord, I pray you will take my life. For you can bend light to make a rainbow or a halo. “Bend me, shape me, any way you want me”, Lord.  The 1960’s pop tune comes to mind.  I looked it up and it could have been a prayer, maybe even with that bubblegum beat!

Bend Me Album

Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
Long as you love me, it’s all right

Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
You got the power to turn on the light.

Everybody tells me I’m wrong to want you so badly,
But there’s a force driving me on, I follow it gladly.
So let them laugh I don’t care,
Cause I got nothing to hide,
All that I want is you by my side.

Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
Long as you love me, it’s all right

Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
You got the power to turn on the light.
Bend me shape me anyway you want me*

Lord, as I try to submit to your will, I pray you will keep me mindful.  For as long as I remember, I try to spread your love.  As long as I remember, I try to be kind and generous.  The moment I forget, I fall back to my innate selfish, foolish ways.  And even with years of practice, loving doesn’t come to me without very deliberate thoughts.  I want to focus on you.  I want to bring your kingdom to earth.  I need your help.  I always will.

Generous Grandparent,

You lavish blessings upon me.  Your love fills every nook, every crevice and overflows around me.    Remind me to float, no to walk on your ocean of love.  Let it imbue my every motion, my every breath, my every thought.  I am thankful for all you’ve given me.  I appreciate the beauty I see and hear.  I am grateful for the comforts you send.  I am overcome with the love of the community of faithful with whom you surround me.

I pray through Jesus’ name, our Christ,


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 is entitled “Unmake”.  In it, Rev. Quinn Caldwell addresses the things we worship that stand in the way of our relationship with God.  He recommends finding a symbol of it and taking it outside to smash it.  I love his lighthearted approach to Christianity, all the while cutting to the heart of my humanity.

broken idols

Glorious God,

You are the only God I worship. Yet I get caught up in ‘things I gotta do’. I know praying first and getting with you is the best way to go about my day and yet, sometimes the demons of life pull me far away.

Loving Lord,

I pray today you will remind me that we are side-by-side and your arm is wrapped around my shoulder. Together we will knock down every idol that tries to take my attention from you.

Incredible Imagineer,

Everything I have is from you. Thank you for technology that helps me — the “appointment” to pray that I set each morning and snooze for a half hour each time I’ve murmured a short phrase of praise or gratitude. Thank you for my life! Thank you for your wasteful, extravagant love. Lord, I 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!

“Don’t know what to do?  Ask God for help.  Got no words of your own?  Use the Psalmist’s; that’s what they’re for.  Paralyzed by the situation and don’t know how to start?  Pray.”

~ Rev. Quinn Caldwell, “Filler” UCC StillSpeaking Devotional dated January 23, 2013


Great God Almighty,

It’s me again.  I’ve just finished reading today’s StillSpeaking Devotional and Quinn Caldwell’s words have again touched my heart.  I don’t know what to do, and I trust that you know what I should do.  I fear paralysis by the situation and so I pray.  For you, Oh God, are my hope.  You alone are my guide.  You alone are worthy of my worship.  Every moment that I think of you, I praise you and give you thanks.  (If you made my mind better, Lord, I’d sing your praises more often…  just a thought.)

Lord of Light,

I hand over my life to you.  I surrender my will to yours.  I pray only Lord, that you will make clear my path and my purpose.

I pray also Lord, for my friend Susan and her betrothed Matt.  I am grateful that you’ve sent them to one another.  I pray that you will bless their relationship and let them be a blessing to one another.  You know, Lord, how important Susan is to me.  You know how she is such a blessing in my life and you know how very much I love her.  Please, Lord, let them delight in one another.  Let them always remember the way they feel about one another right now.  Let each of them always feel the thrill of seeing one another, as they do right now.

Today, Lord, I also bring Steve’s and my financial situation to you.  We need BIG help, Lord, You know the situation better than I Lord.  I thank you for all you are doing to show us the way.

Generous Giver,

Thank you for Nancy, who reminded me this morning to be grateful for running water, even if it’s cold.  Thank you for my car, even at its age.  Thank you for enough money to buy gas to come to work.  Thank you for the new opportunity with IHAP.  Thank you for my life.  Lord, 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!

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April 2020

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