What Does It Mean to Pray For Another?

Often when news of health crises, family discord, employment or financial unrest or the ultimate, the loss of a loved one travels through social media or is lifted up in our church,  the response is a quick “sending prayers.” One never can be sure that the words aren’t empty, that the promise of prayer is truly acted upon. Is the phrase tossed out as a way to make the speaker feel less helpless, is it said in haste, as a reflex like “bless you” when someone sneezes? I am guilty of repeating this assurance, knowing there is little else I have to offer to someone who is in my heart and is carrying pain I cannot ease. Is it enough to say I am praying for you, does it make any difference? My wonderings about the power of prayer, my own especially, wax and wane as the results I want don’t immediately appear. Yet as we have continued to breathe and eat and muster the strength required to get out of bed each new morning after the horrific news that came two Fridays ago, I am a believer in others faithfulness, if not my own ability to carry out the assurance. I know when friends and family say they are praying for us that someone is hearing those prayers. I am convinced because I can feel the pleadings to God from all those around us, I am the evidence of their power.

Sometimes prayers are more like wishes, as in a snow day request from a child, a winning basket or touchdown for our favorite team. These prayers are like our lists for Santa, have little to do truly with spirituality. Maybe our hopes are realized, maybe they aren’t this time, yet we have shared our desires with God in the midst of hopeful desperation. I have little belief in the words we lift up during these fevered moments, I think God is too busy with starving children and war torn countries for His intervention in sporting events. Still it seems significant that we turn to Him even with our wishes.

Some prayers come from abject fear, like those I spoke aloud to God each morning many year ago, as I drove to work before most others were awake, begging for the safety of my son as he experienced homelessness and seemed lost to me. I ranted and cried each morning in the silence of my car, begging God to do what I couldn’t, keep my child safe and bring him out of his addiction and home to us. Left with nothing else to do, no where else to turn, I sought out the One who I believed loved my child more than me. He eventually came back to us, extremely under weight, eyes clouded with experiences we would never fully know, bringing his broken body and deep misery to the safety of a new start with us. Whether it was my petition or just the next step that was always in the plan, I felt better for taking the only avenue left as a mother of an addict, I trusted God to hear me and I think He did.

I am better with the lifting of joys, the celebratory “Thank you God” that easily escapes my heart and lips when life is going well, when our Plum is bringing laughter and joy to our bruised souls. I firmly hold with confidence that those moments are from God, I carry the conviction of all good things are from Him during the realization of blessings that I certainly could not have engineered. Yet it often feels as if there is not enough joy to carry me through, to keep my firmly in the embrace of this God. Another blow comes, another round of troubles that I didn’t expect, and my joy blows away with the winter wind or the summer storm, elusive fleeting fragile.

We heard immediately that others were praying for us as the news spread that our 26 year old son took his last breath surrounded by pill bottles, as questions arose about our involvement in caring for his body one last time, as a cruel obituary was published in the local paper. We read the words on the cards that came, during the hugs we received, promised in texts and emails and social media messages. My anger, my exhaustion, my grief caused me to repel those words as useless. Where was God when my child started using again and I wasn’t given the opportunity to help him? No I wanted to fling those words back at those who offered them up, to exclaim loudly and forcefully that the God they were trusting had left me and my son when we most needed HIm. I didn’t want to be told to draw near to Him, this God who could have intervened and didn’t, what could I need or gain from seeking to bridge the divide that felt permanent? Still, something has been happening around me, within me during the darkness of my unbelief, something I have sought to deny and ignore. Your prayers are holding me up, as I resist being lifted. Your prayers are reminding me to breathe when I am removed from any desire to carry on living. I want to proclaim that your words are hollow, that God is not for me anymore, but even I cannot ignore your faith and trust.

As I entered church yesterday, the building that has been a true sanctuary during all of our upheaval all these years, I wanted to be invisible, I didn’t want others to know that I was studiously rejecting the very premise of our gathering. I wanted to shout that we had all been taken in, that this man called Jesus was a scam, that the Holy spirit was a figment of our imagination. Instead, I was greeted with hugs that held me up, with the kindest eyes that sought to free me from some small bit of my grief, with complete freedom to sit with my disbelief and even verbalize my inability to pray. I was given permission to question time and time again, told my lack of faith was welcome among these friends who understood my ache and promised to keep surrounding us with their faith. How can I argue with these generous grace filled people who seek not to change me but to provide a cushion as I fall, to offer words to the God I no longer believe hears me? My inability to pray, a broken connection I am nurturing in my anger, caused not one sliver of judgement among these people. They accepted the little I had to give, the minimal effort of just showing up, a doubting Thomas in their midst. They simply didn’t care that I was not joining in the singing and praising and worship. They offered their gifts to cover my inability to pay up, they covered my debt to God as if my blasphemous heart mattered not. I sat alone in the front row, our normal place inside the sanctuary, as Chef taught his Sunday school class and Plum puttered at my feet with his play doh and donut holes, fueled by my rejection of this God they began singing about. Then a tap on my shoulder, a hug of welcome. A dear friend who refuses to leave me alone sat with her family behind me, not in their usual row. Then worst of all, another sweet dear friend and her husband chose the seats on either side of me, ignoring the wall I was erecting between God and His followers. They held me as I cried, they sang the words of praise and desperation I refused to utter. What kind of God allows such heartache to shatter me and then pushes His people to offer His grace?

I cannot pray these days. I don’t want to, I prefer to yell at the One who was supposed to save my son for a glorious testimony one day. I want to reject and repel all those words of prayer that just keep coming at me. Alas I cannot because this God who knows I am silent and turning my back on Him is sending His promises through the love of His people. One friend told me it was okay with her that I couldn’t pray, she and others were doing it for me. She said she knew one day I would do the same for others, but not today. How can I deny the grace of God when I am accepted just as I am amongst these people? I can feel their intervention, their intercession inspite of myself. While I may not trust God right now, I find I am able to trust His followers. I think that is the point of us gathering to share our true hearts. God is surely rejoicing in His children at St. Andrew UMC, those who feel compelled to send messages and cards from all around the country. Faith in action, acting as his hands and feet, offering up His embrace through the arms of those who know words are not enough and will never be again, this is how I will learn to pray again one day.

In the midst of my darkness I can feel the warmth of all the tiny candles of hope that are offered. Someday I will tell you all how grateful I am, when I can feel thanksgiving once more. For now I hope it is enough to tell you I am still breathing because of you. I know your words are not empty, I trust what you say to me. Surely this God is rejoicing in you. Prayers offered are life giving, not mere wishes. I am blessed by you all, you light bringers, you burden lifters. Someday I may again be able to tell Him of your faithfulness and celebrate the rising of the sun again. I think though that He knows, that He is sending His children to us and will reward them all for hearing His voice and reaching into our darkness. If I ever begin talking to Him again, I think He will rejoice with me in you all. For today just know that I believe in your belief and have chosen to rise again to greet the new day. It is enough and it is huge.

 

Cleaning Out Soul Space

When I had nothing, my very survival depended on my relationship with Jesus. In prison, surrounded by strangers who neither cared about my brokenness or my sanity, separated from my babies in the most cruel of all punishments, I could only breathe and walk and put food into my body because I trusted God with my life and the lives of those I loved. It became simple, minimalistic, when all my possessions fit into a tiny foot locker and my material wealth consisted of Little Debbie snacks and Ramen noodles. Powerless in every aspect of my life, clothing, visits, schedules, I could only control whether to believe or not. I relied with the full force of my body and soul on Paul’s words to the Philippians,”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13. Not just those words, though, I read the bible completely over and over, I underlined and made notes, I consumed it. God’s Word saved me, when I could not save me. I promised myself I would not let go of that dependence when freedom came again, when the gates opened. Twenty-five years later, I realize I have broken my promise.

These days and weeks and now years of estrangement from my daughter have become a new prison, gates invisible, guards non-existent but a prison no less. I am locked away from her again, the excruciating pain of old resurrected as I watch the clock and long for a visit. The intervening years of memories accrued are meaningless as she evaluates my worth and determines my sentence, will I ever be granted release? Yet, more than adding a home and furnishing and clothing and trips to schools and a prom and even around the world, I have added material goods and a self-reliance that separate me from my promise, from my utter dependence on He who gives my breath, gives me life, gives me hope and the grace of forgiveness that is so absent with my daughter. How could I have added so much and left what was crucial behind?

I sat on the steps in the jail pod after realizing I would have no visits with my children until transferred to the larger prison, a promise from my lawyer, the reality of my situation fully settling on my soul. I wanted to die, I begged to die, I would have died had the means been available. Instead I had to pray that my Creator take me. A desperate prayer to end unspeakable horror, a pain that I knew I could not bear, that would drive me to insanity. Jesus met me there on those steps and lifted me up, brought the “Footsteps” poem to me with a promise to carry me through what was ahead. A year later when my sentence modification was denied, another promise my lawyer had given but couldn’t keep, I gave up again. I laid on the prison bunk and refused to move for meals or activities, risking further punishments. I no longer cared. An angel in the guise of a correctional officer visited and spoke words I no longer remember but pulled me out of my depression and gave me the strength to keep going. I do remember she spoke gently of Jesus and light and a world outside of my current existence. She told me to get up and I did.

When my pain overwhelmed me, Jesus  brought relief. When I couldn’t breathe, wouldn’t breathe, Jesus brought me air. When I had nothing, Jesus was enough. Now, I have more. A husband, a home, pets, cars, fully stocked pantry and I no longer call on Jesus with desperation. Maybe I never did really but I made room for Him. Now I allow a corner, a smidge, a bit but rely too heavily on myself, on my own ability to affect change and the stir the universe to my liking. Having lost it all and found Jesus, must I really find myself there again to discover what is truly at the heart of my existence? Noticing my own prison gates again, I see that only God can bring me through this estrangement, only God can rebuild the bridges I want to erect today. Scripture floods my mind this morning as I find comfort in words of hope and past longing, as I remember that I have survived events I will never share and I will survive this as well.

I grow impatient, I teeter on bitterness, anger erupts. I am too fully me and not enough Jesus. Today I am opening the gates of my soul once again to the One who saved me, time and again, saved me for more than a life of hurt and struggle and time behind bars. Just as we celebrated my release with joy and thanksgiving long ago, one day we will again. Until then, I am cleaning out my soul space, removing extra furnishings of self-dependence and importance. Truly, today I remember He is the air I breathe. Freedom has come.

 

My Jesus and the 4th of July

***Warning!!! Contents contain my soul wrestling with the intersection of my faith and current political climate. Need to take a pass?  I get it.

I stayed quiet today during Joys and Concerns, that time during our church service when the microphone is passed around and members share what is weighing on their hearts. I felt the push to raise my hand but still I resisted. My concern was too political, had nothing to do with an ailing relative or a healed friend. As the minutes ticked by, the urge grew and still I avoided, knowing that this was not the venue, that my words didn’t belong in church. Yet the powerful message my pastor delivered barely registered, such was my aching soul. Because actually, I think it is time for our voices to be heard. I think the venue has to be our churches, the place where we worship and strive to follow a rebellious man who lived so long ago.

The Jesus I know was filled with grace and love, absolutely, but He also challenged the very systemic wrongs that surrounded Him, that created the environment where people needed His intervention. All those outcasts that He noticed, those people on the fringes of the society He lived in, those are the stories we listen to each week in our worship services. He SAW the woman who was to be stoned because of an unjust, one-sided, narrow-minded belief about the role of half the human race. He set her free, He brought her back. He NOTICED the hungry, the poor, the ones being thrown away by those who had more. He CHALLENGED the businessmen in the temple who were cheating those who had traveled from afar to worship, He CALLED OUT those men who were distorting the purpose of that place and the very message the Rabbis inside were delivering. This, this is the rebellious Jesus my soul responds to. I am the outcast, the one on the fringe, those are my people. In fact our country was created by those very folks who wanted to have freedom in their “temple” away from the tyranny.

We are just a day away from the celebration of our country’s birth, the flag waving and fireworks and picnics that unite us as we proclaim proudly that we are Americans. Every year I dressed my children in red, white and blue t-shirts, purchased the little boxes of sparklers and made potato salad but never have I given as much thought to what it means to be American as I have this year. Maybe it is only in losing something that we really begin to cherish it. Having traveled outside of the U.S., I know the freedoms we have here are precious, that we are not perfect and are still babies learning to walk as a newer country. I truly thought we were on the right track, correcting our ugly history of slavery, slowly, ever so slowly, but still moving forward. Yet only a day away from the big celebration and I am embarrassed to wave a flag now.

Regardless of political affiliation, more importantly is our faith stance. We are broken, in need of grace, all of us. We have become judgmental and hate filled, unable to listen, resorting to name-calling and prone to violence as a means to resolve conflict. If ever there was a time for the church to rise up, isn’t it now? Do we not have a responsibility to rebel in the likeness of Jesus to say what is happening is wrong? If the behavior that we see from the highest leaders would not be tolerated in our Sunday School classrooms, can we stay quiet? The silence is deafening, while the noise of sexist cruelty plays outs daily.

I write almost daily of the deep  love and crazy adventures I share with my grandson. This relationship which has been front and center in our church is not considered legitimate enough to allow for travel as an immigrant, according to the new workings of the ban. I cannot even find words to express the outrage and devastation I feel as a grandmother, imagining that arbitrary decision about the legitimacy of the value Plum and I bring to each other. Jesus calls us to open our doors to strangers, to trust in Him to protect us and guide us. We have surely lost our way.

I am a writer, I am a mother, a wife, a grandmother. I am a woman who fears for other women and those of color and those who dream of coming to our universities.  I fear for those who are trying to speak truths, for those who truly love our country and who love Jesus and those who worship differently.  I spent many years being afraid as a child, then more as a young adult. I thought those days were behind me. Yet I see that if we do not stand up for what is right and those who need our voices, we are complicit in the wrong, just as the Germans when the Nazi Regime began. This is our time, a time we will be forever judged by in the history books and most importantly at the gates of heaven.  Are we listening to the urgings of our souls that say stand up and speak or are we quietly letting someone else claim our flag for their hateful cause?

Today I remained quiet and I feel sick about that choice. I didn’t follow my rebellious Jesus and my soul told me I made the wrong decision. I know He wants me to buck the system when the system is hurting people, to feed the hungry people and to obey Him first. When we obey our own desires or our elected leaders before our God, trouble starts. We cannot trust people before our God, it just doesn’t work. So each tweet, each vote, each decision we make, we have to understand that it is a faith decision as well. I know the quote, “Let your actions preach louder than your words.” Today my inaction, my inability to say what was in my soul, preached volumes to those who are suffering. I need to do better, be better. Grace will cover me in my hesitancy for only so long, I am breaking for those who cannot be heard, who have no opportunity to raise their hands and beg for prayers.

Fireworks exploded into the night as my pets huddled around, shivering and worrying about the noise, fearful and uncomprehending that it would soon end. I could only offer comfort and wonder at what we are really celebrating. Freedom to worship? Freedom to assemble? Freedom to walk our children to school or drive a car or have health care regardless of income? How about Unity? Are we celebrating our togetherness regardless of skin color or green card status or candidate selected on voting day? Just as I didn’t raise my hand to lift up my concerns during church, my soul is telling me I have to take a pass this year as the nation’s big day comes around. Instead, I will be focusing on the work that must be done within the church to extend our grace and show our love in the spirit of the living God to those who are standing outside, awaiting an invitation to the party.

Dash

Waiting

I stumbled across an Easter activity on Pinterest that I was sure would make the season more about Jesus and less about the bunny for Plum. You have probably seen it, the one where you dip a marshmallow in water, roll it in cinnamon sugar and then wrap it in a crescent roll and bake it for about 7-8 minutes. The concept is all about the disbelief the disciples had, the lack of trust that Jesus would really be who He said He was. They prepared His body for burial anyway, not understanding He would not stay in the grave. So the marshmallow (Jesus) disappears when we open the robes after some time in the tomb. (I got a bit twitchy about the oven being the tomb but that is my adult awareness, I didn’t share that with my Plum.) He was with me for the entire process of preparation and was all about exploring the rolls, looking for Jesus after they came out of the oven. The waiting, though, which I thought we would do, chairs pulled up to the oven window, watching the slow process of dough puffing and browning, nope. He was out. He couldn’t stay with it for that long. I will admit my timing was off, he was involved in other things, but still, I wanted to tell him if he didn’t sit with me and watch he didn’t get to eat any Jesus rolls after! That didn’t sound right to my own ears, felt just a bit creepy, so he was allowed to play Lego while I cleaned up our mess and kept watch. Next year we will try again and I will enforce the waiting part, that is what living in Saturday, after Good Friday and before the dawn of the Glory of Easter Sunday is, the waiting, slow agonizing empty waiting.

We have a Keurig, it sits in the closet. We decided the expense and the waste were not acceptable to us, we went back to a regular old pot and grinder to make our morning coffee. While I can sit in comfort knowing I am helping the environment with this little step, I must admit I hate the coffee maker every single morning and secretly dream of pulling the faster more efficient machine out, EVERY SINGLE MORNING. In fact Chef just admitted maybe we should use it just for my first cup, while I wait for the pot to brew. Because I don’t wait for the entire pot to fill, as soon as enough liquid has filled the bottom of the carafe, the pot is pulled, my cup is filled and the mess begins. Our machine still sends drips without the pot to catch it, I know the mess is coming, it is acceptable to me each morning as I struggle to wake. I just can’t wait. Or more accurately, I won’t. So towels are at the ready, the mess is wiped as I sip and I always get the strongest of the brew, when Chef reaches for the pot it is mostly black water. There, you are privy to my ugly coffee routine, an inability to wait and share and not be messy. And I am the one who wants to give Plum lessons in the importance of waiting? Do as I say, not as I do, right? IF only it were just a first thing in the morning issue for me, if I were a paragon of patience and trust the rest of the day, I might have more credibility. The truth is, I think I would have been right there with those disciples, lost angry seeking a new direction without my leader. I spend too much time there now and I already know what happens when the rock is rolled away from the tomb, when the crescent roll is broken open. I really should trust more, the waiting should come easier for those of us who know the truth. But Saturdays abound in my life, like early mornings without a Keurig.

Not to take anything away from Good Friday, but this is the harder day for me. I can mourn with the best of them, but waiting is just about the worst thing my Jesus can ask me to do. I don’t want to have down time to think, to feel, to acknowledge my pain and mortality and my sins. Instead I bustle around, wipe the countertops, make a casserole and scroll through Twitter to find others who agree with me about the sins of our leader. More comfortable looking outward while I clean up my coffee splatters, I scour Pinterest for ways to bring more Jesus into Plum’s life.  Move along, push through, avoid avoid avoid. Yet my Saturdays come in the evening, when Plum is in bed or at Mama’s and I am alone without any more energy to bustle and the house is wiped and maybe my wine glass is filled. I’ve been stuck in a very long Saturday of waiting for others to wake up from counting my sins and accepting the glory of a Jesus who has given us all more grace than we can put in our Easter baskets, too much grace like the plastic grass we buy to fill up baskets of candies and little trinkets for kids to find when they wake Easter morning. Grace that always hangs over and despite our best efforts is cleaned up for days afterward, found stuck to our shoes, peeking out of purses and clinging onto our best dresses, a strand between the couch cushions. That grace like the staticy plastic grass sticks to us and to everything it touches, transferred from my hands to the Beast’s fur as I reach down to pet their horrible selves, is transferred to my car on the way to church Sunday morning and left on one of the chairs, maybe the one where the lady who never smiles at me sits or the man who knows me from before will rest. Will they pull the strand away and know they are given the chance to forgive? It really only comes when we sit alone on this Saturday, our basket empty, wishing we had grass and grace and forgiveness and a second chance to say the right thing and not say all the wrong things and the opportunity to read a book to the most ill behaved child in Sunday school. Grace is really only ours when we give it away, like the disappearing marshmallow that still tastes so sweet in the rolls. Waiting for our grace and our baskets to be filled means we have to just be alone, empty, watching the rolls get brown while everyone else goes about their lives and we are aching. We are called to sit wondering how we could have missed the chance to say, “No no, I know how this ends, stick with me, He is who He says HE is, we can trust Him with our everything.” Because tomorrow we will sing glory glory but on Monday will we? On Monday will we worry and fret and stew over whether our children will ever speak to us again, if the job is going to end, if the president is going to lead us into another war, and we forget that we are called to trust in Him. We forget on Monday that we must forgive the car who parks ridiculously and the person who doesn’t take their cart back at the store and the person who always always replies to all instead of just the original sender on an email to 50 people. We forget because we rush through our Saturday and we throw away that grass that annoys us. We don’t notice our grace chances when the sugar high is over.

Tomorrow we will discover that the tomb is empty, that the promises are fulfilled. The crescent roll lesson is not lost on me, I am committing to waiting today. Waiting for this long Saturday of aching searching emptiness to show me the ways I can offer more grace not just tomorrow when everyone looks their best, but on Monday and Tuesday and the days that follow, when we all have a bit of sugar low and grass stuck to our shoes. Maybe, just maybe, my children will find their own awareness of all they ways they have been forgiven. That is between them and their own marshmallow experiment. Just as I couldn’t force my Plum to sit with me, I can’t make them wake up to grace. I can pray a stray bit of plastic grass finds them, all the way from me.

My friends, I pray you embrace this lonely day of waiting, that we might truly feel the glory of the empty tomb. I pray your day is not just filled with egg boiling and ham prepping, but real soul searching. It is a hard day, by design. Still, we know that tomorrow will bring song and fancy clothes. Sit with me in our Saturday, friends as we watch the dough rise.

Prayer List

These days it seems my prayer list is just too long. Ever have a season like that? Too many friends are aching, ailing, alienated. Young moms are lonely, longing, looking for affirmation.  Family of friends, friends of family, I hear the calls to pray for this one and that one, for this situation and that. I know these asks are offered up out of a deep conviction or even deeper desperation, a trust that prayers will be lifted and further, they will be heard. Remembering this keeps the list in perspective. I am not asked to carry the weight of the list, only to shoulder it for a moment, to then send it on, send it up to the One who can manage all the parts. Right? That is the call, the job of being that connected to others, to hearing their hurts and heartbreaks. Except something happens between the hearing and the lifting. A piece of the burden stays with each of us, just a crumb, maybe, a sliver, as the load is ever so lighter to those who suffer. How can I be sure? I have been the teller oh so many times.

I wrote about slaying my monster, about a hard talk I needed to have. Update, monster destroyed. The slaying required incredible vulnerability in a safe place, necessitated releasing my truth and allowing it to be heard. What I discovered is a new truth that came as swiftly as if I had been in darkness and the light was turned on, which in fact is what happened. I was able to see my own answer when the dust cleared, when was all laid out and my eyes were no longer clouded by all the junk and debris. I could see what was so simple. My wound began healing, I felt like I was in the presence of God Himself, I could feel it so. And yet, as I walked away, I knew I left some of my hurt behind, not all of it rose with the Spirit. Some stayed with the one who heard me, a bit of damage dust now covering his shoulders. My eyes that now shone with the Light could see that his were lined just a bit more, evidence of feeling so deeply what is brought to him. We prayed together, surely God heard my concerns. But some stayed right there in that room. I know this now.

Hearing that a friend has a sudden horrible diagnosis and is asking for prayers means also that I absolutely will begin to make food to deliver to the family. This family has been more than faithful in praying alongside us, praying when I couldn’t for our son and then when Chef was suddenly was pitched into his own pit of despair. They came into my home with food and compassion even when we couldn’t eat. I will try to put some dinner on the table on a regular basis. I will pray to the Great Healer. I know it works. Hopefully she will feel me carry her burden, an itty bitty crumble, along side her. that is how it works.

Other words are not so easy to carry, so simple to lift up. Words that are close to our own traumas and worries, the things that cause our pillows to be tearstained, those, those, we get more than a bit of dust on our shoulders, those require more than a dinner. I sometimes want to avoid those. I try to shield myself from prayer requests from friends or family who are suffering from addiction issues. I circle those like the candy aisle, I can’t even smell the chocolate without putting it in my own cart, without purchasing it, without even knowing it has all happened. Isn’t it wiser to just avoid altogether? It is with M&M’s but just because my shoulders get heavier with the burden of a friend who is aching over a son who is using and the family is being destroyed one puff at a time, can I really be that choosy with my prayer list? My list currently carries the family of several families who are aching in just this way and my prayers are especially fervent. Most are in the battle, some have lost it. The stuff that breaks your soul into pieces, that is where we need to show up and offer no words, merely a hug and our presence. Allow some of the dust to settle onto us, allow the weight to shift even for a moment, onto our backs.

God I think says we just have to show up, I have learned this over and over. We don’t have to say the best words or bake the best casserole. We are only asked to drop one off and pick up a little crumb of concern. We are asked to let our unlined eyes become riddled with crows feet because we have cried and laughed and loved our neighbors through soul storms. We pick up a tiny bit of their worries, they share ours as we allow the Spirit to work out the details. I live beside a gravel road, I fight a dusty home all the time. I learned long ago that you sweep first, dust last. Otherwise you kick up motes that settles back down onto all the surfaces, leaving a light coating and nothing is really cleaned. Swirling dust shining in the sun light catches my eye, can never be all contained. Those, those are the worry and wound pieces that God asks us to carry for each other. A long prayer list is evidence we are doing our part, catching crumbs, wearing some dust. Showing up with what we have and raising up all the rest to the One who does the real sweeping. We dust first, God will step last. Pray over the list that grows and grows.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18