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Floating Words and Heavenly Prayers

A warm, half cup of coffee sat in my lap as I listened to Amy share. Surrounded by Bible study friends, I indulged in the extra caffeine while she explained how she'd been led to take communion for 40 days, in a row, at home. Challenged to remember Christ's sacrifice, she focused on His suffering every day, and the experience changed her. 

It made me think.

When Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ came out, my pastor encouraged everyone to see it. “I can’t,” I contested, “I don’t go to R rated movies or handled violence well.”

“You need to see it, Susan,” he encouraged. 

So, I made a date with my neighbor’s daughter, Meredith, and we sat together, on a top row, as far from the screen and sound as possible. There, I closed my eyes and plugged my ears on occasion to keep from overwhelm.

But Amy’s experience challenged me. How would I change if I started each day by remembering the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice? The torn flesh? The sharp thorns? The nailed hands and feet? The agonizing loneliness? The stifling weight of our sin?

Somewhere on the hard drive of my brain, my best understanding is stored. But I don’t open that file on a daily basis. Honestly, I don’t want too. It’s too much to take in. My sensitive soul recoils. 

Don’t get me wrong… I live for Jesus. I give each day over to Him in prayer. I don't ignore the cross. But I don’t stare into His pain filled eyes and just remember.

But as Amy’s thoughts overflowed, I wondered how I would be changed if I did. And then I heard my name.

“Susan’s lived with a lot of suffering,” Amy contended. “You get what I’m saying, right?"

It was my turn to talk. So I tried to formulate thoughts. 

“I think you’re on to something, Amy,” I started. “The more we focus on what Christ did for us, the more our suffering pales. And it’s not just that our suffering becomes manageable in comparison, it’s that our faith changes how we see everything around us.”

And that's really the key; the essence of faith. Seeing everything through eyes of faith that transforms our reality from overwhelming to doable. From depressing to livable. From unfair to acceptable.

From there my thoughts drifted to an analogy I used after I purchased my first wireless printer. The printer eventually sat on a desk upstairs. So, when I pushed a button on my lap top in my kitchen, words floated through the air and ceiling, and then slid out in ink onto a page. 

How words float through the air, I don’t know. But somehow, they do.

Which led me to our prayers. We don’t always receive an immediate print out confirmation when we pray. But if man can send words through the air and print them or receive a text reply, it seems all the more pliable to me that our silent prayers travel to their heavenly destination, unhindered. 

Invisible thoughts fly around us—and through us—every day. Or at least that’s my perception of how wireless technology works. If we can reduce our inner most thoughts to code that permeates the air we breathe and arrives at another’s phone or lap top or speaker just as we wrote it, how much more can God receive our petitions and respond.

Scientific minds will likely scoff at my analogy, comparing technological breakthroughs to prayer. But I would assert that it takes a bit of imagination to believe what we can't see. And to trust what we can only feel with our hearts.

Which brings me back to Amy and 40 days of communion. Of time spent alone with God, marveling at the sacrifice, the big picture story, the love that surpasses knowledge, and the life given for our own.

Do you get it? I mean really get it? Man, I want to.

All photos courtesy of pixabay.com

The Messy In My Best

I slept well but woke tired with a cat by my side. When I stirred, the feline ran across my form, insisting I get out of bed. Familiar with my routine, she followed me to the coffee pot. But when I ignored my messy kitchen and unmade bed and dressed early instead, she curled up on my bed and pouted. 

Today was not a stay at home day and she knew it.

About the time caffeine worked its way into my system, I pulled into Sue and Gordon’s driveway, ready to sing for an hour. 

Gordon, a former pathologist, struggles with severe memory loss. Unable to converse with ease, he belts out Danny Boy, The Sound of Music, Edelweiss, and many others songs stored on the hard drive of his brain. Together, we clear our heads.

Wanting to expand our repertoire, I brought a few extra books along today. When I flipped open the folk song one, I recognized my scribble on the inside back cover. There I read,  

“Do you really believe they’re going to think you’re a bad mother just because you accidentally shaved my head? What’s wrong with you?”

I read the words twice before registering their meaning. By then the memory had come crashing in with a vengeance. One of the worst.

Sam, a rising junior in high school at the time, wanted a buzz cut. Having trimmed the year-round swimmer’s hair countless times before, I pulled out the clippers with confidence. Sam took his place on a stool on our back porch and wrapped a towel around his neck. After plugging in the device, I stood in front of my youngest son, held up the clippers, and buzzed from the middle of his forehead, straight back. 

When I cleared the thick hair that covered my progress, I gasped in horror. A reverse mohawk glared back at me. Forgetting a guard—or comb attachment—or whatever you all it—I’d shaved a stripe straight down the middle of his head. 

My sixteen-year-old handle his plight with a grace that still amazes me. While I shed tears and delved into bad-mom speak, he took it in stride.

“You have to cut the rest, Mom.”

“I can’t, Sam,” I wailed. “There’s got to be something we can do.”

“Mom, there’s a stripe down my head. You can’t glue the hair back.”

“I’m soooo sorry,”

“It’s okay. But you have to cut the rest... now!”

Mortified, I finished the job... and saved the hair. Someday I’ll do something creative with it. In the meantime, a zip lock bag full of blonde locks remains buried deep in a dresser drawer.

For now, it reminds that no matter how much energy I expended trying to make my son feel good about himself, in one hurried moment, I turned him into a bald spectacle that garnered attention until his peach fuzz grew back.

The messy in my best shone from his bald head.

So much time has passed that Sam and Don have let me buzz their hair again. And more importantly, sometime last fall I finally accepted there will always be a messy in my best. All these years later the truth went deep and settled more of the perfectionist in me. 

I'll never get it all right. I'm not supposed to get it all right. And the more I understood the perpetual problem of my mess, the more I valued and rested in the life-giving sacrifice Jesus made. Or... the more I valued and rested in the life-giving sacrifice Jesus made, the more I relinquished the perpetual problem of my mess. 

The result? I finally grew tired of the negative self talk that accompanies mishaps. 

The best I have to offer pales in comparison to the enormity of what God has done for us through Jesus. Which is why I'm grateful for Sunday mornings when a church service ends with everyone singing the same song twice... especially like the one I'll post below. 

All photos courtesy of pixabay.com

Never, Ever Alone

Barely awake, I rolled over on the couch, trying to rouse through weird dreams. So, when my daughter-in-law handed me a Starbucks coffee, I couldn’t compute and asked, “Is this real?” 

“Yes,” she chuckled, “I ran out and got us some. There’s one close by and I figured we both needed it after last night.”

My four-month-old grandson’s cries kept us from sleep during the dark hours. When my son brought him out to the living room at 6 am, he’d remarked, “That was the worst night yet.”

As little man lay on his back, happy under his jungle gym, I sent Sam back to bed and gave my grandson a talking to. I could tell by his delighted squeals that he wasn’t paying much attention. Thus, I came away from the eventful night, reminded of how exhausted, isolated, and alone a new mom can feel.

But man, he’s just so cute…

Ironically, a few days earlier, I ran across the lyrics to a song I wrote about 20 years ago. Three months after my husband died, I’d roped my brother, Mark, into traveling to Mobile, Alabama with me and my boys to experience the Pensacola Outpouring. The on-going revival had significant meaning to me since Jason and I attended services several times the previous year.

After worship Friday night, we settled into a hotel. But around 3 am, I woke in extreme pain. Aware I was having a kidney stone attack, I called a taxi and left Mark with my boys. 

The hospital proved lacking—especially when I threw up in a room by myself without a container or anyone to help me clean it up. Alone with my vomit, I almost drowned in a dark wave of loneliness. 

In time, a nurse cleaned the mess. Pain meds dulled my senses. My brother picked me up. We made it back home. And the stone passed.

But the memory lingered. The darkness hung thick. 

As I processed the raw emotion a few days later, the feelings spilled out into a song:

Was I alone when the pain was so strong?
I felt alone, though I know I was cradled in your arms.
I was left alone in my suffering.
But now you’ve given me eyes to see.

That no, I was not alone. 
Your arms held me fast in your loving care.
No, I was not alone. 
When I needed someone most, you were there.

Am I alone now that my friend has gone home
I've felt alone though I know he's rejoicing at your throne
There are times I can feel a certain emptiness
But as the days go by the sorrow is less

For no, I am not alone
Your arms hold me fast in your loving care
No, I am not alone
When I need someone most you are there.

When I read the words this week, so many years later, it almost felt like I tried to wrap the suffering in a bow. But having thought about it for a few days, I remember now that I was trying to process how I would face more future unknowns, lonely hospital stays, painful kidney stones, etc., without my spouse. 

Searching for hope, the message resonated loud: I was not alone. I had never been alone. We are never alone. No matter what.


I’ve certainly battled loneliness since the day I wrote those lyrics on a Sam’s Club flyer in 1997, because loneliness is a life hazard. Circumstances easily line up that leave us feeling exhausted, isolated, and alone.

But the Holy Spirit whispers, promising comfort, companionship, love, forgiveness, peace.

When we give our lives to Jesus, the one who gave His life for ours, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit—the divine connector to all things wondrous, pure, and healing. But some days that presence is more real than others. 

So, as light filled my dark thoughts years ago, the Holy Spirit gave me a song to remind me that even though I didn’t feel peace in that hospital room when pain wracked my insides, God’s divine presence was with me then and is with me now.

He never leaves us. He never gives up on me. Or you. Through the good, the bad, and the blah in between. 

It's simple. We are never, ever alone.

All picture courtesy of pixabay.com
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