Archive for ‘prayer’

October 3, 2013

Prayers for an Uncertain Future

How do you pray when your heart is full of uncertainty?

How do you pray when you see the structures you once leaned on for security like a good paying government job fail you?

How do you pray when a simple drive across town pulsates fear as imagines of gunfire and hate mongering have filled your computer screen for days?

How do you pray when there is no 10 month plan in your day-timer or 10 week in advance or even 10 days from now plan because you wonder how you are going to make it till tomorrow?

How do you pray when your heart feels unable to trust in the possibility of “the right answer” anymore because the world seems all do evil for that kind of blind faith?

How do you pray?

As much as there are no words, as much as there is no comfort, as much as the rage in us seeks to overflow in the places where love for neighbors dwelled . . . there was once a Teacher. There was once a Teacher who was asked by one of his disciples, “Teach us to pray . . .”

And to this request he answered:

hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

Such words came from a Teacher with an uncertain future. Sure, he knew that all would be well in the end– the darkness would not overcome the light. But the world was not there yet. Suffering, great suffering awaited him and awaited all those in whom he loved. This journey of hoping without giving up would be a long road ahead.

So he prayed.

This Teacher taught us to keep praying this prayer.

Alone. Two by two. In small community. In large groups.

Whenever we needed direction. Whenever we needed Him the most. Whenever.

A prayer that would give us the words for the days when we felt overcome with the hardship of our uncertain futures.

Today join me in praying a prayer this heart weary with the complexities and uncertainties of our world truly needs right now.

July 17, 2013

Prayer for Those Who Wait for Justice

Oh Lord, we’re stunned.

We’re angry.

We’re disillusioned.

We’re afraid.

Even several days later, we still wonder how in America could verdicts like “not guilty” come down when a life was clearly taken.

We wonder how a mother, a father, an entire family can go on after all they’ve lived through.

We wonder how boys of color can walk on streets of our cities and mothers who wait for them without being overcome by fear.

We wonder how long, O Lord, will we hear talk about race in conversations with words of “us” and “them” because many do not know each other in any other way.

We wonder how long will people of faith will cower to the conversation table. As wrong as color= privilege in our world, and we can only move to change when we start with the truth.

We wonder how long will we lie to each other: “No, our nation does not have a race problem.”

We wonder how long those with prophetic pulpits will ignore their greatest opportunity on Sunday morning to begin such a dialogue.

We wonder how long O Lord, will all of us suffer simply because injustice happens and happens again and truth is not simply brought to the light? For the great preacher, Martin Luther King once said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And it is true.

So, we wonder.

And we wait.

We wait for what you alone can bring to our nation.

Justice. Hope. Mercy. Understanding. Longsuffering. Peace.

Help us know how to wait together. Help us have swift feet to move toward righteousness together. Help our swift feet know what direction to move in together.

May 22, 2013

Five Things You Can Do for the People of Oklahoma

We’ve all been glued to our tvs the last 24 hours, watching the coverage of the devastating tornado that destroyed the town of Moore, OK and surrounding areas.

When it first hit, I watched with careful attention– maybe even closer than most because I was in Washington DC and Kevin was in Oklahoma City. Fear ran through my head about the worst case scenarios . . . But thank goodness, Kevin and his work colleagues at Feed The Children headquarters were ok on the opposite side of the city from where it touched down. Nothing but high winds came their way.

But some families weren’t so lucky. My heart breaks for them. I wrote this prayer last night as a response.

(And on a lighter note one of my favorite things about the OKC community the Warren Theater in Moore is now gone too– leveled in the path of destruction. Super sad for our Fridays date nights).

So in moments like these we all ask ourselves the question of what can I do?

It’s so easy to get sucked into the despair because of the 24 hour news cycles– thinking that images of destruction are all that there is. But, there’s another way. Get involved. I have five suggestions.

1. Donate goods
Especially if you live in the Oklahoma City area, Feed The Children is asking for these products: diapers, canned goods, non-perishable food and snack items, water and sports drinks.

Donations are accepted at these locations around the city-
Feed The Children McCormick Distribution Center, 29 N. McCormick
First Baptist Church, 1201 N. Robinson
KOCO-TV, 1300 East Britton Road
Faith Church, I-40 and Portland
TLC Garden Center, 105 West Memorial Road in Edmond
Continental Resources, 20 N. Broadway Downtown OKC
Bob Moore Parking Lot, 412 W. Reno Downtown OKC

2. Donate money.
Feed The Children has made it easy for you to donate. You can either go to their webpage by clicking here to make any size of a donation OR you can text DISASTER to 80888 to make a $10 donation.

Sure, there are a lot of organizations asking for donations right now, but Feed The Children is the ONLY large non-profit that is based out of Oklahoma City– FTC has warehouses, trucks and staff on the ground, ready to go! Literally in their own backyard, neighbors helping neighbors is what is happening NOW. Plus, the fabulous Kevin Hagan is leading the charge. You can trust him. I wouldn’t have married him if you couldn’t).

3. Pray.
Sure, it almost sounds clique doesn’t it? We throw around words like “prayer” as if we are talking about going to sleep or eat or wash our face at night. “Oh, we need to pray for those people” or we say, “Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma right now.” But do we stop to actually pray? Do we stop to actually consider what it feels like to be a person whose livelihood has been destroyed? Do we consider their grief, their confusion, or their anger? There’s so much to say, then, isn’t there? So, go ahead, do some talking to God on behalf of the people of Oklahoma right now.

4. Don’t say stupid things in the name of God.
It’s a good rule when people are in crisis, when natural disasters hit, when terrible things happen in our world, it is not best to pull out the words of judgment. It’s good to extend a compassionate arm and sit in the ashes with them. Furthermore, God does not cause tornadoes. Let me repeat, God does not cause tornadoes. Religious leaders like John Piper and Pat Robertson have said stupid things today about the people of Oklahoma and I know they are not the only ones. As people of faith, let’s stop the insanity.

5. Consider donating your time in the future.
Ask your church or community group about planning a disaster relief trip to the city months from now.
Join a disaster relief team at your church or in your city– prepare now by going to training.
Consider what natural connections you have in your community to Oklahoma City (friends, business associates, corporations) Ask them how you can be of help long after the cameras are gone.

The people of Oklahoma thank you.

May 21, 2013

Prayers for Oklahoma City

For all of those who woke this morning with joy and sunshine, only to end their day in utter devastation.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

For all those who have no place to lay their head this night, left only to the kindness of strangers.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

For all of those who hid in bathtubs, horse stalls and storm shelters and survived . . . and for all of those who didn’t.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

For all of the children whose homes and schools are destroyed and whose innocence was taken on this day.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

For all those relief workers who are right now searching for those who are crying for help.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

For all those who wonder why life is worth living after moments like this.

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

For all of those who ask, “Why God?” on a day of so many tears.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer.

Come close. Keep this city safe tonight. Be near to the crying, the hurt, those sitting in the shambles. Lead neighbors to be the hands and feet of Christ on earth to those who need it most. Break through light in the darkness and peace to the most restless of hearts.

May 15, 2013

Silence Is Not Going to Hurt You

Over the past several months, I found myself with more quiet and uninterrupted time than I’ve ever experienced before in my life. My pastoral Sabbatical has gone on for more months that I would have planned in the beginning.

By March, the temptation was to “just do something.” To fill the space with more books to read, more coffees to have with new friends and old friends alike, and more trips to take. Maybe start or learn a new hobby? Maybe get a part-time job just for the fun of it? More of something to fill the void of time that used to be offered to the church.

Sure there were things to do like finish my book manuscript which would fulfill my commitment to the Louisville institute, events to attend with Kevin for Feed The Children, and the usual of keeping up with house chores (in two cities nonetheless) and the never-ending pile of mail that always seems to need attention on my desk.

But, still even with all of this “doing” there was plenty of silence left. Still there was quiet. Still even with all of the coffee dates and lunches I could muster energy up to attend, there has been just me. Alone. In quiet. Making friends with this state of being called solitude.

There have been days when I’ve loved it, savoring every minute.

There have been days I counted the minutes until I could go to bed at night or Kevin came home from work.

There have been days when all I wanted was a friend to call and rescue me from the void that is life in my living room alone.

But the silent beat has gone on.

And this is what I’ve learned: silence, even as much as we all fight it, is not going to kill us. Nope. It hasn’t killed me. Well sometimes it might have felt like it would, but it didn’t. And I don’t think it will.

Silence has been God’s great transformational gift that my busybody soul has needed.

One of the authors I read in seminary but have become fascinated with again the past couple of months is Roberta Bondi. I’ve loved reading her again because of her focus the desert fathers and mothers of the 4th century who retreated to find solitude. And Bondi writes about what made them tick, how they related to their fellow silent pilgrims, and most of all what they learned about prayer as a result.

As I’ve stuck close to her book, To Pray and To Love again, I’ve been reminded that the Spirit often does the best work in us when we surrender to the quiet.

Bondi makes a case for such by saying that when the distractions of our lives are stripped away we have no one or no thing to blame for our laziness, our moodiness, our impulses, or our addictions than the brokeness that is within us. In solitude we realize that life is not about our jobs, our families or even our own ambitions for the future.

Rather, life is about us and God. Life is about all of life flowing out of God’s great love for us. Life is dance card full of great opportunities designed just for us to soar.

But only in silence would we know this.

Only in silence would we have eyes to see these things.

And, only when we say no to the temptation of adding just one more thing to our plate do we make room for God.

Life filled with God is worth fighting for even as the hours of silence continue on. At least for now.

December 14, 2012

Speechless Friday

prayers for newton

November 18, 2012

Grief and Transition

November 18, 2012

Dear Washington Plaza Church family:

I come before you this morning with a heavy heart. It’s heavy because I have news to share with you that has caused me a great deal of sadness as I have thought and prayed and discerned.  I need to tell you that I am sharing this resignation letter today, ending this chapter as your pastor effective on December 24, 2012.

This is sad news for all of us because we have loved each other well over these four years of life together as pastor and congregation. And, when you love someone, you don’t ever want to part ways.  When you love someone, you don’t want to do anything to hurt them, to discourage them, or to cause them pain. The deep love I have for you has made this decision a particularly hard one.

But in spiritual community, which is what we’ve formed together as a church, there is something in addition to love for one another that binds us together, and that is calling. We believe that God ordains and guides all of our steps, even when what we are being asked to do is difficult.  My change in status with you is a response to my changing sense of call.

It is not that I have been called to be a pastor of another church.

It is not that I haven’t enjoyed being your pastor or that there is some conflict going on in the church that you don’t know about.

It is not that I have lost my faith in anyway or am leaving the ministry. Rather, it is that I feel called into a different season of ministry beginning in 2013.

As you all know, Kevin’s new position as President of Feed The Children has caused a huge shift in our life rhythms in 2012. This new assignment came about as a result of God’s calling on Kevin’s life to lead and as he has settled into his responsibilities a shift has happened within me as well. I, too, now feel a call to use the voice God has given me to be a global advocate for children and families, for those most often ignored or in distress. I will begin to volunteer more of my time to FTC. And I look forward to spending more time with my husband in the coming months.

In addition, I believe God is leading me to grow into my writing vocation—completing a book for publication by the end of next year and pursuing new writing projects.

So, while my time as your pastor will come to an end this year know of my ongoing love and support for you as a church. I believe as strongly in the vision of who you are as a congregation as I did when I began in January 2009. You are unique in the best of ways. You are a needed witness in this community of God’s acceptance for all people. You are a collection of some of the kindest and most loving people that any pastor could hope to lead.

You have certainly moved mountains in my own life—you have made me into the woman, the pastor that I am today and will be in the future. You took a chance on hiring a 28 year old, who could have been your granddaughter, making her YOUR pastor.

By doing this for me four years ago, you gave me the biggest gifts and honors of my life—to be called your pastor. And our relationship, you have given me room to grow and explore and find my voice and for that I am and will forever be grateful.

It’s a time in our history with one another to be sad. It’s a time to walk through grief. But it is also a time to trust. You are so much bigger than who your pastor is. You are so much more than your leader. You are strong and capable of being all that God calls you to in the future.

I know this time of transition will have its own unique challenges, but believe you will face them with same grace and perseverance you have shown in facing challenges before. I will be cheering you on, treasuring the memories made in our four years together, and wishing you all of God’s most abundant blessings in your future.

With love,


October 24, 2012

Why Do You Pray?

As a child, I was taught that prayer was talking to God. It was right to give thanks to God for food. I was encouraged to pray for those who were going through difficult times. I learned that if you didn’t confess sin before you prayed then God wouldn’t be too happy with you.

And, while I learned to like God and all through these years of Christian education at church– all of the “rules” of prayer seemed to be just that, rules. I didn’t understand why I was told to have a relationship with God, but yet there were so many particular rules.  As I grew up and learned to make friends, I came to realize that relationships are always in flux, changing over time, growing as life beats on. So, then, why then did God want me to talk to him at 20 the same way that I did when I was 5? This is what my church lead me to believe.

I took a break from prayer for many years in my 20s, at least serious prayer that is. I know that’s not something that preacher types usually share; for they fear it will ruin their holy complex. Well, if you have a holy complex about me, let it go now. I’m just a human being like everyone else.

And, it’s so true. For many, many years, I didn’t really “get” prayer, at least private prayer. Sure, I could stand up in church on Sunday mornings and ask God to bless the sick in my congregation, those with troubles in the world and find a way to end with the Lord’s Prayer– but things weren’t so intimate with God and me. I didn’t see the point, especially as I walked through difficult situations and nothing about my situation seemed to change . . .

But over the last year or so, this has shifted. And I now pray for completely different reasons.

My baby steps back toward prayer centered on praying for those I love.

I don’t know if you are like me or not, but when I love, I fiercely love. I love my congregation members. I love my husband. I love my dears kindred spirit friends. I love dear ones of all kinds that find a way to intersect my life in unique ways. And for me, sometimes, it is hard to know what to do with that love. I truly want the best for them. I want to see them thrive. I want life to be as good to them as it possibly can. However, there comes a time when relationally I have done or can do all I can, but yet my heart isn’t at peace for them. So I pray.  I find joy in giving those I love to God.

And, so I’ve learned to pray– love by praying. To ask God, who I believe is the divine parent of us all– to watch over those I know are in need of peace, support or wisdom in their daily lives.

A funny thing has happened to me along the way. I have found myself wanting to pray more. It’s no longer a chore. It’s a sweetness in my day. It has become a relationship between God and my community.

While many might think, it’s shallow– to just pray for people who you love– I say, don’t judge too quickly. In getting the conversation going again, God has come near to me in other ways. I’m beginning to get back to all the other stuff too like “Oh, God I have fallen short of your best for me in this way” or “Oh, God bless those in need in far away places” or “God bless so and so who really annoys me.”

So, why do I pray now? I pray out of relationship. Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I really mess things up. But, I keep learning to pray because I long for the Creator of this world to bless those whom have touched by life so profusely. I pray because it is an act which connects me to the soul of others like nothing else. I pray because as my compassion muscles are able to grow for others, I truly believe I come and learn more of who God truly is. God comes near– the best gift of all.

August 31, 2012

Why do you do this work?

Over the course of our travels and many meetings with Feed the Children staff, partners and other NGO leaders there is one question I find myself asking these folks over and over: “Why do you do this work?”

The answers I have gotten from Africans and expats alike have varied but the heart of all of them has come back to calling.

“We are here to serve because we can do nothing else, be nowhere else.”

In fact, a line that was said in our program with the staff last Saturday as part of the litany of blessing for the week ahead was “God has called us to serve.” Drivers were called to serve. Cooks were called to serve. Administrators were called to serve. All staff of Feed the Children, we said together were called to serve.

In my pastoral work, I talk a lot about calling. I preach a lot about calling texts in scriptures. And I even call out the callings in others when I sit with folks in counseling sessions. But somehow hearing about the motivation behind why the many here on the ground here do what they do has made me stop to ponder calling once again.

Calling I believe is more beautiful than I ever imagined. For, as I have observed it and even felt it in my own heart, I have observed calling as a gift. It’s a gift that can ground the right people in the right situations even if these are circumstances that others many call difficult or unimaginable. Calling is God’s way of helping us be in the place where we are blessed by our giving and receiving.

When you have a calling, you can’t say no even when it leads you to feed hungry children in the smelly slums.

When you have a calling, you can’t say no even it leads you to remote villages to love on kids on bumpy roads for long hours.

When you have a calling, you can’t say no even if it wrecks the plans you previously had for your life only one day before.

I am excited to continue to support the work of Feed the Children through Kevin’s calling to be there and thus mine in some way too. I truly consider this time in our lives all the joy. How did I get to be so lucky?





July 21, 2012

Prayer in Response to the Aurora, CO Shooting

For those who have journeyed to the life beyond after watching what would be their last film,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who simply wanted a night out of enjoyment at a movie theater and find themselves in the most bewildering shock of their lives as memories of confusion continue to play in their minds,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who will continue to support, treat, help and love on those now in physical, emotional and spiritual pain in Aurora and for the long days of pain to come,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who have lost a daughter, a son, a brother, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a lover, a neighbor to this unexplainable event who are now planning funerals they never believed they’d attend,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For all those around the globe who woke up this day with the people of Aurora on their minds, wondering how they could believe in a God anymore who could let this kind of death, injury and heartache happen.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who will use this moment in time to push their own political agendas that are rooted in ego rather than love,

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those teens and young adults who feel lost, alone, and no mattering to anyone who are considering “copying” this horendous act in an effort to be seen on the evening news,

Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer.

For all people of faith who have been touch by this senseless event– as residents of Aurora, over the Internet, through their television screens, or through word of mouth– may you grow our compassion muscles so that we live less in isolation and more in abiding communion with You and one another.

Lord, in mercy hear our prayer.

Do what you can only do O God. Come close. Bring your Spirit. Teach us again how to be human beings that love each other.  AMEN

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