more about prayers

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV


(image from flicker)

It was on yesterday’s post where Marie had left a comment.
It wasn’t so much a comment about that day’s post but rather a comment about
what she thought she had missed…
that being the notion of a unified prayer.

You may remember that a week or so ago, I had sent out a solicitation of sorts…
A solicitation imploring those of you visiting my little corner of the blogosphere, that given
the dire times in which we are finding ourselves currently living in,
could not this collective family of Believers come up with some sort of unified and
specific prayer that we could unite over—
praying as a collective body with a specific focused request—because we are told that
from the prayers of but two or three, God hears and will be in their midsts.

We had some great suggestions and thoughts.

With several thoughts being that we center our prayer around the Lord’s prayer…
because, as we are taught, that is a prayer that is both true and is the ultimate prayer.

We even had a suggestion to divide up the week with that prayer as a guide—
with each day having its own particular direction.

And yet, whereas all of those ideas and suggestions were great,
I still felt a deep confliction because I did not feel as if that was where I was being led
with my thoughts of a prayer.

So with a good three days of God pulling me back to my original burden, I wrote the post
Burdens and Birth and a Prayer

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/02/28/burdens-and-birth-and-a-prayer/

I explained to Marie that I felt very strongly about praying for those who had no voice…
no say as to whether they would live or die.

And so, in turn, I simply left that post as an open-ended post
stating that if anyone felt so obliged, they could join me in that prayer.

I did not, however, post a collective prayer regarding abortions, aborted babies, those
mothers contemplating abortion nor of those women who now live with the aftermath of having
had an abortion nor for our legislature and those in governmental authority who make and pass
laws regarding abortions nor for those in the various medical professions who aid in
or conduct abortions…
but rather I left the specifics of such a prayer up to each individual—
as so many kept telling me that most folks seem to pray in their own intimate way.

Coming from a liturgical church background, I am very familiar with and comfortable with
the notion of collective prayers—
prayers of the people if you will.

Episcopalians are not known so much for their spontaneity as their fellow Christian kith and kin
are known…

So whereas I would like some sort of unified guide—most folks let me know that when it
came to a unified prayer, such a prayer was more of an individual and personal petition.

And so when all has been said and done, I really did want to give Marie and others who may have
missed that post, some sort of update about the idea of a prayer…
with my direction being that of a prayer for and over abortion.

I stumbled upon an organization called Care Net—a Christian organization that works collectively
against abortion and in turn, offers support to women who find themselves pregnant and
who are contemplating termination or aborting their pregnancy.

Care Net’s history and mission is:

Founded in 1975, Care Net is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports one of the
largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America and runs the nation’s only real-time
call center providing pregnancy decision coaching.

Vision – Care Net envisions a culture where women and men faced with pregnancy decisions
are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered to choose life for their unborn
children and abundant life for their families.

Mission – Acknowledging that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of
protection, Care Net offers compassion, hope, and help to anyone considering abortion
by presenting them with realistic alternatives and Christ-centered support through our life-affirming
network of pregnancy centers, churches, organizations, and individuals.

To learn more, here is the link to their website.

https://www.care-net.org/prayers-for-life

I might add that Care Net is just one in a vast network of Christian sites that are
out there to assist women who stand at a crossroads.
There are both Catholic as well as Protestant groups who work tirelessly to protect the unborn.

So if you feel so inclined, may I ask that you please include in your Lenten prayers, and or
your daily prayers, a prayer for those tiny ones who have no voice or say as to whether they
are either afforded to be born and live or to be aborted and killed.

And yet last night, I crawled into bed…I found my thoughts pulled to our fractious Nation…
as I began feverishly praying for our oh so divided Nation—God lays the burdens
in our hearts—then we must choose what to do with them…

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16

beasts of burden, greased watermelons and a wallowing pig

“A spiritual Christian should welcome any burden which
the Lord brings his way.”

Watchman Nee

mules
(a mini heard of donkeys per the world wide web)

The other day my aunt told me that there was a lady at her
church who is often heard to say that…
whereas she knows that God does not give us more than we can carry (or bear),
she just wished that He would not keep confusing her with a mule…

Mule, donkey…one half dozen or the other….
beast of burden none the less…

And might I add that I am feeling every ounce of the burden for which I am currently
bearing and wearing…
and then some….

Have you ever tried picking up a greased watermelon?

When I was a little girl, our neighborhood pool, as part of their fourth of July celebrations,
would grease a large watermelon then drop it into the deep end of the pool…
allowing it to bob up and down.
Next a whistle would blow and all the kids would dive into the pool.
swimming as fast as they could to the deep end,
as everyone would try their best to grab the watermelon…
desperately treading water while attempting to be the first one to shove the watermelon
up out of the pool.

It’s a wonder we didn’t all drown.

And no, I never could get a hold of the greased melon,
let alone push it out of the pool.

That long forgotten memory came racing back to the forefront of thought today
when dad decided he could no longer stand while the caregiver was trying
to get him showered off.

He did look rather pitiful today when I arrived…all slumped down in his hospital bed.
The caregiver told him that while I was there, we were going to get him in the shower,
clean him up and get his sheets changed.

I was assigned bed linen duty while the caregiver maneuvered Dad into the stand-up shower.
Dad was smelling really ripe and definitely needed a shower much to his consternation
as he was perfectly content slumped down in his oh so not fresh bed and pjs while watching Matlock.

Dad didn’t want to get up.
Dad is terribly lazy.
He is perfectly content just sitting and wallowing…
much like a pig…as he is perfectly content wallowing in the muck and mire that
makes up his little world of filth.

My grandmother would have an absolute fit if she could see him now…
as I somehow think that she would certainly not claim him…
and I know mother, who was looking down on us, would most likely be telling those
she’s met up in heaven that she has never seen that man before in her life…
or is that afterlife…anywhooo…..

Dad and the caregiver were in mid rinse as I was just finishing up the bed
when I heard a frantic call for my name.

It seems Dad decided that he just didn’t, or perhaps couldn’t, stand up any longer…
opting rather to gave up the ghost…
as he went down for the count…
sliding down along with the water working it’s way to the drain.

Have you ever tried picking up a greased watermelon?

Dad was a wet, slick bundle of pink flesh clumped on the floor of the shower
with the caregiver stuck in the corner behind him.
Steam was filling the small shower…
She was now soaked and he was listless.
More like dead, but not.
This while all of Dad’s bodily functions were now in full crisis mode..
It was a mess of epic proportions…
a terrible awful mess….

I don’t have an ACL in my right knee—an old football injury of long ago…
another story for another day…
but in a wet shower, with the water running
and shoes that are sliding while I’m trying to
lift a wet greased 170 pound watermelon…
a knee that will not hold fast only adds to the crisis.

And lets not forget I still have two ruptured discs in my back.
I now probably have two more….

We finally managed to get him up,
With me practically willing him up with my voice commands.
We wiped him down,
cleaned him up,
got him thankfully back in the fresh bed,
dried off,
and finally clothed…as best we could…

All the while my stepmother was in her room, door shut, sound asleep as she had not felt well,
none the wiser to the near 911 moment we were having in the shower.

By the time it came for me to thankfully head home, Dad, who was now clean and
was smelling so much nicer, was happily sitting propped up in his hospital bed,
happily munching on a chocolate covered doughnut wondering why the caregiver
and I seemed so stressed…

I really think God has me confused with an animal of immense burden….

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Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Psalm 55:22

burdens and berries

“Just as Christian came up to the Cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders,
fell from off his back, and began to tumble down the hill,
and so it continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre.
There it fell in, and I saw it no more!”

John Bunyan

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(ripe blueberries / Julie Cook / 2016)

There’s something otherworldly about losing oneself in the task of picking blueberries.
I suspect it may be found elsewhere…
probably while picking other such things…
or for some, found while engaging in those other, mostly mindless, rhythmic sorts of activities like ironing, digging, mowing grass…
however….
for me, it is found in reaching and bending under burgeoning spindly branches, dangerously drooping, under their heavy load…
as I labor to lighten their said load.

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I stood out in the sweltering afternoon heat today, thankful for the ever slight periodic breeze as I labored breathing under the oppressive humid blanket of stagnant air.
Words uttered earlier during this seemingly endless day, in what now seems to be a surreal glitch in time, came racing back to the forefront of thought as I strained to reach for the most ripened berries.

‘May we not allow our mere mortal thoughts and words to diminish the sheer magnitude of Heaven’
I ruminated over that sentence as it was uttered….
just as I do now, much later, while rummaging through the heavy ladened branches.

‘…And as we are in shock over the suddenness of this premature loss, God was and is fully aware, ready and very much waiting as nothing is sudden nor premature to Him.’
Again, another nugget of thought pushes its way to the surface of consciousness.

Such burdensome thoughts churned through my brain as I worked my way up and under a particularly heavy bush.

Filling my bowl with the black and blue jewel like orbs, my thoughts were full of the mysteries of both life and death and of the fact that there is both a burden to living as well as a burden in its guaranteed passage precipitated by death.

All of which plays out on a tiny stage within the seasons of these very bushes I now pick.
For there is a time of expectation and longing coupled with fruitfulness and waning…

Not only are we mere mortals weighted down by the burdens of life’s ebbs and flows…
those found within our immediate realm and arm’s reach…
but we must also bear up under the burdens found in the wider and greater world around us.

This as the thoughts of mass shootings,
the far reaching ramifications of tomorrow’s voting in Great Britain…
and of our own impending fall elections…
all of which now weighs heavily on each of us,
whether we care to admit it or not…

As believers we know all about this life and death paradox…yet such knowledge never makes any of it easier nor less difficult to bear.
As that is the pivotal key part of it all—
as in…
we bear it.
We bear our own burdens found in the living of life…the ups and downs, the highs and lows…
Just as we do, subsequently so, in the bearing of the reality of death.

Death is something that is impartial to both the religious and the non religious schools of thought.
It discriminates not.
Besides birth, it is the only other certainty for each living being.
It comes.
Ready or not, it comes.

Whereas there may be the exception in the expediting of death, there is, on the other hand, absolutely no avoidance…as it will come like it or not.

And whereas some deaths are seen as melancholy, while weighted by a bittersweet relief for those who have suffered…
it is, in turn, a burden to be bourn by those who remain behind—those left to carry on in life’s burden of picking up pieces and moving forward…
Albeit now with an unquenching loneliness coupled with a gaping wound within the heart.

Carrying on and moving forward is much more burdensome, much more of a hinderance and much more difficult than that of death itself.

The living are left with the burden, the heaviness, the weight, the strain, the aching and an endless sea of tears…

And today, amongst the blueberries, I am struck by the irony of this all as I realize in which lies the rub of life…that being the burden of carrying death.

Yet we are told and told again that “in a little while, we shall hurt, suffer and cry…no more…”
Death has indeed been beaten and overcome—and it is through the cross that that overcoming and victory is to be found.

Yet in our earthly bound and gravity ladened thoughts and limitations, weighted by the heaviness of our aching and longing hearts, we simply must carry on while shouldering those burdens…
the burden found in both living and the burden found in death…
that of our own and that of those we love…

All of this burden and weightiness as we are reminded that there are no surprises to the God Omnipotent…
For there is no burden, no sorrow, no pain too big, too great nor too much…
for it is in Him, and Him alone, that our burdens of both living and dying are truly lifted …

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Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything.
John 16:20-23

what’s your mountain?

“How to get the best of it all? One must conquer, achieve, get to the top; one must know the end to be convinced that one can win the end – to know there’s no dream that mustn’t be dared. . .
Is this the summit, crowning the day? How cool and quiet! We’re not exultant; but delighted, joyful; soberly astonished. . .
Have we vanquished an enemy? None but ourselves. Have we gained success? That word means nothing here. Have we won a kingdom? No. . .
and yes. We have achieved an ultimate satisfaction. . .
fulfilled a destiny. . .
To struggle and to understand – never this last without the other; such is the law. . .”

George Mallory

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(Image of Mt Hood, Orgegon /Julie Cook / 2013)

The above quotation is in regard to the scaling of Mt Everest. Mallory, one of a threesome of British Mountain climbers, disappeared while en route to the summit in 1924. His body was not discovered until 1999. It is not known for certain whether he ever reached the summit before his death on Everest.

I cannot speak as a mountain climber.
Whereas I love mountains and trekking about them, I do not, however, seek to do so if I’m required to carry ice picks, crampons, oxygen tanks, snow goggles, ropes, or to have a Sherpa by my side. I will simply stick to my enjoyment of trekking verses climbing. Yet that is not to say that I do not fully comprehend nor duly appreciate both the physical as well as the psychological preparedness required for such adventure, nor is the strong alluring “call of the mountain” lost on my more timid personage.

We all have our “Mountain” or “Mountains” to climb. My mountain these days happens to be a continuous 30 minutes each morning on an elliptical machine. Complete with incline and resistance. Not that the elliptical is the “Mountain” of my life but rather, it is what I hope the elliptical will help me ascend to—that of better heart health, stamina and not to mention the added benefit of hopefully shedding of a few pounds. For a female, at 54 with a bum thyroid, not to mention that whole hormone thing, the overwhelming weight and health issue is the proverbial Pandora’s box—nothing but a big bunch of bad all mixed together.

If we breathe and live there will inevitably always be mountains in our lives requiring us to climb— as well as conquer.
For some of us it is the issue of weight and health. For others it may be the Mountain of an addiction to drugs, gambling, alcohol or sex. For others it may be the Mountain of debt, poor finances, poor health, illness, depression, illiteracy. . . as there is breath in our bodies, there will always be something that each one of us must climb and conquer during our lifetime. . .

These mountains are not easy to climb . . .
—leading many to rethink the journey.
With each arduous step upward, there is often something catastrophic sending us backwards by 5 or more steps.
We slip, we grasp, we fall. . .
Tired, weary, sore. . .
We ask to stop, just need a breath, just need to rest, just for a little while, “I’ll start again soon, I promise”— we bargain with ourselves, God and the looming Mountain.

Do we think that God is oblivious to our struggle?
Do we think that He is some sadistic malcontent who manipulates the Mountains, sickly and twistedly watching us struggling and stumbling backwards through our tears, frustration and feelings of defeat?

He is not that.
It is He who sheds the tears and feels the frustration alongside us . . .
With the one difference being, however, that He does not know the defeat.
In Him only rests an ending of Victory.
The journey and climb to that Victory, however, is always through a battle with Death.
Regardless of whatever each individual’s Mountain may be, the climb is always the same.
The Mountain will always be the Death of Self.
It is the Mountains of self which we must climb which ultimately lead to the Victory.

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Mark 11:23

Our world will always have its mountains as we sadly live in a fallen world.
There is no perfection, no Utopia.
A world simply hiding under dark wings of Death.
Dreams will come and go just as the tides ebb and flow.
Struggles will constantly dog us while endlessly nipping at our heels.
What is the option if the climb does not continue?

Yes, the journey is arduous, as the task remains daunting.
The days will often be filled with frustration, sorrow and pain.
There will be days of defeat.
Two steps upward, 6 steps back.
“I quit”
“I give up”
“I can’t”
. . .so exclaims a dejected climber. . .
yet all the while, Victory remains open armed and waiting. . .

It’s always looming you know, that Mountain.
Despite decisions to abandon the climb, the Mountain never disappears.
Anyone who attempts to walk away simply lives the remainder of life in a frustrating dark shadow.

Yet this need not be a signal of a defeated end.
As there is light each new morning, as there is breathe each new day, the climb is never over.
For each new morning offers the new hope of another try.
Another chance at the Mountain before us.
Another chance to try again.
Another step upward.
Again, another opportunity to work toward the top.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:13

The climb, the conquest must always begin with just one step upward.
No Victory is ever reached without first taking a single step.