“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
Matthew 6:9-13 KJV
I didn’t truly learn the essence prayer until August, 1978. I had been a praying person for much of my life. I prayed often: at church, before a big test, when I really wanted something, at night, before “some” meals. I thought I had a handle on it. You bowed your head, used the “church” words and bargained with God. My first week on the SFA campus, I was all alone. For the first time, I experienced truly talking (and listening) to God.
Later, I would learn even more about prayer. During a BSU retreat, Len Sehested spoke and challenged me about my prayer life. Using The Lord’s Prayer, she guided us through the ways of praying. I discovered that I was more interested in “asking” than “praising”. It changed my prayer life.
During my darkest times, I found that I didn’t really want to pray. I wanted to scream. And, I did! I ranted, cried, begged, accused and (if I’m honest) bargained. I discovered that my prayers, my conversations with God, can be honest and raw. I’ve yet to be struck down for expressing my true feelings and thoughts. My prayer life grew.
Today, when I cannot sleep, I pray for my kids and their families, for requests from friends and church family. God will often bring to mind a specific need. I have the privilege of leading a zoom prayer time each week as well as praying for requests from our church each Sunday. My involvement in ministry has changed. I no longer stand in front of the congregation to lead worship; I now worship and intercede for my church family through prayer.
In case you’ve missed it, my faith is an important part of my life. And prayer is a huge part of it all. I don’t like to be called religious. Religion is to faith what ketchup is to French fries. Religion alone is not very satisfying. But, Faith stands on its own. And, prayer is the salt that we all want.
If prayer is not part of your life, I would encourage you to try it. There aren’t many rules. It’s just talking to God, honestly. After years of reading about prayer, I still find my self bargaining at times. There are still times that I wonder if my prayers matter. But time and time again, I return to the scriptures and my talks with God.
Today, I am 61. I am 31 years past the dreaded 30th birthday. Hard to believe, but I’m still a living, functioning member of society. Life does exist beyond the 30’s. In this time, I have been a daughter, a student, an employee, a wife, a mother, a widow, a Mumzy, a 2nd wife and a stepmom. I’ve experienced many things, both good and bad. In my 3 score and 1 year, a lot has happened.
Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.
I was born during the Eisenhower administration. In my lifetime, there have been twelve US Presidents: one was assasinated, one resigned, one survived being shot, two were been impeached. The Supreme Court has seen 26 justices. Politics are never more evident than in today’s social media world. As I type this, one more justice is awaiting confirmation and the possibility of a 13th president hangs on the November election.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3. NIV
I followed the NASA missions and celebrated the triumphs and mourned the disasters. I remember the Apollo 1 fire as well as the Challenger and Columbia disasters. Before Tom Hanks brought it to life on the screen, I sat in my 4th grade classroom and listened as Apollo 13 made it safely back to earth. Skylab was launched and crashed to earth and the International Space Station was built.
Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
Psalm 30:2 NIV
Todays young adults have never experienced measles, chicken pox or the mumps. I’ve had all three. I also have a small pox scar on my left arm. (I tried to explain the process to my kids and they just don’t get it.) I remember the sugar cube with the polio vaccine. AIDS, Ebola, Zika, Bird & Swine flu and now the coronavirus have all become part of our normal vocabulary.
Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3 NIV
In these 60+ years, the nuclear family has moved from the normal to the exception. In my teen years, if you were having sex it was a secret. Today, if you are NOT having sex it’s an embarassment. Marriage is a convenience that is shunned by some and fought for by others. In the process of raising strong women, we have taught them that it’s “your body and your choice” even if that means murdering a part of yourself. I believe in choice. I just differ on the point at which that choice should be made. I have to join those that opine what would happen if our government supported adoption as strongly as it supports abortion rights.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
I’ve watched (and participated) in the social media growth. I love being able to stay in contact with friends and family on a daily basis. I despise the vitriol that is evident across the pages, however. I’ve watched as a good friend attacked another dear friend over a perceived political slight. I’ve been unfriended for being too “religious”. I’ve had to hide or unfriend some newer acquaintances that are just too militant and/or negative. I miss the days when you could have an opinion without being afraid of the attack.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
My college days were spent in east Texas at SFASU. In the early 80s, coming “out of the closet” seemed to be the thing to do. I did not always understand, but I have always believed that you have a right to love and be loved. So, while I may not have embraced the lifestyle, I still chose to embrace the friendships. I had an older friend and family member ask me how I reconciled my gay friends with my personal beliefs. She had been the recipient of an unexpected and unwanted sexual overture with a roommate during her college years. As a result, she was struggling the some of her favorite student’s lifestyle decisions. I explained that I loved these friends for who they were not their orientation. I have since realized that this is true of many things. I can love my friends even if we disagree about politics, religion, sex or any other difference. If I am invested in the person, the rest is just “window dressing”. I would hope that is reciprocated.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
EECCLESIASTES 4:12 NIV
I’ve lived in the country and the city and learned that there are good and bad aspects to both. Community is where you decide it is. No matter how large or small the city, you live in your own small world. You make your home where you choose to find your contentment.
A person’s days are determine; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.
Job 14:5 NIV
I have no idea how much life is left in the 61 year old body. I do plan to continue to expand my horizions. I’ve taken up watercolor painting and quilting since my 60th birthday. In the past year, we’ve added two miniture goats to our family. They have been an education. I’m still active in my church and strive to be more than a “religious” person and I will conintue to share my beliefs. I love our blended family and look forward to our family continuing to grow. I continue to treasure the friendships I have from all of my years.
This is Sixty-one. This is me. I’m more comfortable in my skin that ever. I look forward to the journey around the sun. I hope and pray you make the trip with me.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.