A prayer for today

Good Father,

Before anything else, I want to thank you for the amazing things you’ve done for me. Every day I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a family and friends who both challenge me and encourage me to live closer to you every day. I am abundantly blessed.

You know I tell my girls they should thank you every day that they were born to be a woman in America today. Never before have women had the freedoms, opportunities, and respect that they have today. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me and my daughters to share in this great blessing.

Today, God, I am very thankful for our country. Our leadership is changing peacefully, even with this historic election! Forty years ago, many women and men were killed for suggesting that racial equality was needed; today we are swearing in an African-American president! Like all of our elected leaders, only time will tell what kind of leader he will be, but I have goosebumps thinking about the great strides we have taken with racial equality. Thank you God. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Father God I pray that your people — your body — your church — will be your hands, feet, and mouth. I pray that we will be a praying people, earnestly seeking your will, serving others. Our country is in pain. We are hurting in many ways.

We need you.

Help us not to trust in politics more than we trust in you. Help us not to be shattered when life in this world does not seem right to us. Help us to seek you daily and lift one another up in prayer rather than tearing one another down through criticism.

Forgive us — forgive me — when I am critical of others, whether they are leaders, family, or friends. Forgive me when I think that they should do something or be different.

And always — come quickly, Lord Jesus.

I love you Lord, my strength.

I am haunted by this song

Words and music by Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark

Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, “Oh my God”

Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don’t bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.

Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be,
Maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we’re better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent
Falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded
That the pain is worth the plunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip,
I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give in
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat
All the wounds that money causes
All the comforts of cathedrals

All the cries of thirsty children – this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers – this is our greatest offense

Oh my God
Oh my God

Back to Work

Today was the day. School started again and I’m back at work after a two-week break. Although it will be good to get back into a routine, it is always bittersweet to once again have to divide my time between two full time jobs.

It’s also time to get back to work on the ever-present New Year’s . . . goals? resolutions? confessions? In setting a goal are we not in essence admitting to an area of deficiency? I know that my goals always have to do with an area in which I need improvement. Exercise regularly. Eat less. Read more. Daily Bible study. Love more fully. Forgive more quickly.

2008 was both wonderful and terrible. Part of me wanted the year to end as quickly as possible while another part wanted to stay there and soak it up. It’s unlikely that I will have another year that includes being a bridesmaid for a lifelong friend, a completed degree, trips to Europe with my sister and California with friends, and helping bring a baby into the world. I would do any one of those again in about two seconds. Other events I hope to never repeat. The contrast has been mind-boggling and difficult to manage.

But now I have a brand new 2009 sitting in front of me. Do I get to make it what I would like it to be? If so, then I choose all of those things above: exercise regularly, eat less, read more, daily Bible study, love more fully and forgive more quickly. Will it be shaped more by others? I don’t know what choices others will make. What demands will they put on my time and how will those demands limit me? Or are the events of our lives scripted by someone with a lot more power over the seconds and minutes of the days? Someone who isn’t even limited by them? What is the balance between our goals, others’ needs, and God’s sovereignty?

No matter what the balance is, there are two things I can keep in front of me: loving more fully and forgiving more quickly. With those two concepts as a framework for this year, I will meet each day and the challenges it brings and try to choose better, healthier, more peaceful and balanced activities that will keep me in line with my true first love, Jesus of Nazareth.

If my year is about him, then it’s all good.

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