When You Don’t Know What to Pray

I like to spend time with Jesus when I run outside.

This morning, my heart was aching for three women who are very dear to me. Each is going through her own personal tragedy right now and I can’t get them off of my mind. I’ve been praying for them for weeks and months, but today, words failed me.

The heartache for each women is reaching new depths this week and I felt led to pray for them, but I didn’t even know what to pray. Everything that came to mind seemed so trivial, pointless, not enough. I was so frustrated, but God is so good and He reminded me of a truth I need so desperately at that very moment.

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Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. -Romans 8:26

That’s exactly how I felt: weak. I can’t really do anything physical to help these women right now, so I thought prayer would be my way of “helping.” When I couldn’t even come up with what exactly to pray, I felt weak and helpless.

God met me in my weakness.

I prayed this very thing, “Lord, I don’t even know what these precious ladies need right now, but you do. I lift them up to you right now and ask for You to hold them close. Amen.” I know He heard me and I know the Spirit did the work where my words failed.

When you don't know what to pray

There are so many reasons we might not know what to pray: an unspecified prayer request, a prompting from the Lord to pray for someone without any other details, an unfamiliar situation, or a tough decision with no clear right answer.

I find myself in this place often. Sometimes I try to force it and come up with prayers that sound pretty good, even though no one but myself is hearing them. Not today. My sadness and frustration was too deep and that’s where the Spirit shows up.

We don’t have to have the right words. The Spirit knows our hearts and knows the needs of our loved ones. This is the time and place for us to recognize our weakness, rest in His strength, and let His power take over. Our friends and family are safe and loved in His hands.

Don’t give up on praying because you can’t find the words. The Lord gives us the Spirit to intercede for us and He fills in all the gaps.

If you need prayer for yourself or a loved one, please let me know in the comments. No details necessary – the Lord knows your heart and it would be an honor to lift your name and needs to Him.

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Prayer + Motherhood

I’ve been on my knees a lot to start this new year. It seems that when one declares a word for the year, that very thing may be the thing you for which you have to fight the hardest.

I believe that also goes for anything to which we are truly dedicated. Our marriage, our children, our ministry. The enemy doesn’t want us focused on these good things. And so the most important things in our lives are also often the most challenging.

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Motherhood is one of those for me – something I’ve always wanted, something I treasure, something I want to do well. And yet it is also more difficult than I could have ever imagined.

As I’ve tried to proceed in 2015 with JOY, I’ve grasped new glimpses where I didn’t see it before, but I’ve also been met with much discouragement in the form of distraction and arguing and disobedience. I often feel beat down by the end of the day.

I’m not saying this is all my children’s fault. I’ve made plenty of negative choices, particularly in my role as mom, that have left me worn, losing my focus on joy. But I haven’t given up. I can’t ever give up because I’m mothering with an eye on eternity.

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Through it all, prayer has been my saving grace. Early morning prayers for wisdom and love. Midday prayers for a peaceful afternoon. Evening prayers asking for forgiveness and new mercies for the next day. Prayers all day long to find the joy in all of it.

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I don’t tend to write out my prayers, but the focus on the Tommy Nelson blog this month is on prayer and God just spilled these words out of me as I wrote my heart for moms of boys – and for me. I’m not writing + praying as a mom who has figured out this boy-raising thing, but as a mom who desperately wants God to show me what these boys – MY BOYS – need from their mother. I need His wisdom. I need His strength. I need His grace. And so do my boys.

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I used to think God was calling me to be a mother because I would be good at it. {insert my laughter here} Now I know motherhood is my calling because it is always refining me and keeping me dependent on my God. Motherhood draws me close to Him + prayer is our best form of communication.

Moms – join me in prayer this week, this month, this year? Whether you are a mom of boys, a single parent {or sometimes single}, a woman who longs to be a mom, or any mother – someone is praying the same prayer you are. And there are more motherhood prayers yet to come on Tommy Nelson this month, so stay tuned!

If you have a specific prayer request related to motherhood, share it in the comments or feel free to email it to me. It would be my joy to pray for you today!

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The One Thing I’m Praying for This Christmas

I can see it there, through the to-do lists, the hustle and bustle of the season. I get glimpses of it when we all slow down enough to laugh or pray. I want more of it in every season of life, but especially now, it’s the one thing I’m praying for this Christmas.

JOY.

I know the joy I need – the unwavering, not-dependent-on-circumstances kind – comes only from Jesus. It’s why I spend every morning with Him, asking Him to fill me up so that I might overflow to those around me. But I also know that my human nature can so easily be swayed by children who won’t obey or projects that take longer than they should or one more unexpected expense. I need Jesus to fill me up with His joy, but then I need to do something joyful to carry it with me. Real, tangible joy moments in the midst of work, and yes, sometimes chaos.

My search for those real joy moments this week has had ebbs and flows, but as I look back through my photos, I see His fingerprints all over it. He is answering my prayer for joy this Christmas exactly as this visual learner needs it.

This week, joy looked like…

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A secret shopping mission with my two big boys…

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A peaceful family Friday night at home…IMG_4834 IMG_4836

A day of Christmas baking…

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A magical date night with The Hubby…

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And a super fun Ugly Sweater Run with sweet friends!

Joy in the small, the silly, the ordinary moments – He is so faithful.

Friends, He wants to answer your prayer this Christmas as well. And I would love to pray for you. What is that one thing you’re praying for this Christmas? How do you need God to show up in your life as we celebrate Him showing up on earth to save us all? Yes, He does care that much – about you, about me, about our needs and desires.

Leave a comment below or email me at homewiththeboys at gmail dot com with your prayer request – it would be a joy to lift you up in prayer today!

 

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Free Devotional eBook + Praying for the Bibleless

Here I sit, surrounded by Bibles in numerous translations because I’m kind of a Bible geek. I’m not even going to tell you how many Bibles are in our home. I’m not hiding in shame over that huge number. That’s not what I’m thinking about right now. I’m thanking God for having all of these versions of His Word and resources in my own language.

Over a billion people are still Bibleless. A BILLION.

There’s not even a Bible in their language anywhere. Some people don’t even have a written language that a Bible could be translated into, but that is not stopping The Seed Company from getting the Word of God into their lives.

At the Declare Conference, we heard from Esther Havens, a photographer who traveled to document the work of The Seed Company in Africa as they bring Bible to the San people in spoken form. The pictures and videos were so compelling because they were visual proof of the work of The Seed Company AND the transforming power of God’s Word. The Gospel is highly treasured by those who have never had it for themselves before. And this inspired me to treasure my Bible even more.

While I can’t go out and translate the Bible for people in a remote village, The Seed Company has empowered me to do something just as important – to pray for the Bibleless. I can pray. And The Seed Company provides resources and reminders for praying for specific people groups.

I want to invite you to become a prayer partner with The Seed Company! It doesn’t cost anything, but your efforts will have a big impact. You can read more about becoming a prayer partner and sign up now at The Seed Company website!

Joy Devotional

I also have a FREE gift to share with you! It was an honor to contribute to this new devotional, Joy in All Circumstances, from the Seed Company. Just click here to download your free copy! It won’t surprise you to find out my devotional was inspired by running, but I know non-runners will find His inspiration in it as well! I hope you find joy in the whole ebook – so many of my favorites contributed to this devotional!

 

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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 2}

Here is part two of my fascinating interview with Micha Boyett, author of Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer, releasing next week!

Before you read below, check out my thoughts on this fabulous book and part one of our interview, including more about how Micha discovered the Benedictine way.

foundcoverE: You are the mother to TWO boys now. How has your journey of prayer + motherhood continued or changed with a second child in the house?

Micha: Having a second kid magnified the intensity of motherhood for me: More love. More stress. More anxiety. More insecurity.

I have a friend who says she never really felt like a grown up until she had her second baby. I totally get that. Having one child is hard, but you can still feel capable of giving yourself fully to your child. There’s this moment after your second child is born when both are crying and you have to choose which one you will comfort. And you realize this is a metaphor for life from now on!

I have had to learn that I am not enough for my kids. And I’ve had to learn to trust God with my own inabilities as a mom. I cannot hold both my children at the same time. And the older they get, the more I realize that I cannot always rescue them. I have to trust that God’s grace fills in the gaps.

That sort of growing up has reverberated out into my prayer life. More is demanded of me. Therefore, I have to be more protective of the kind of mom I’m going to be for my kids. The changes have really been pretty simple. I go to bed earlier now. I expect less of myself. I allow myself to get the sleep I need. And then I wake up really early so I can pray. Waking up early to pray is much easier when you’re not up all hours of the night trying to be a super hero.

And when I don’t wake up early and I don’t spend time in prayer, I actually believe that God continues to love me, that God is still here with me, that I’m still being remade, even though I didn’t live up to some spiritual ideal. That’s the biggest change that has happened for me. I learned to extend God’s grace to myself and, through that, to my kids.

 

E: Do you include your husband or children in the Benedictine prayers?

Micha: The Benedictine monks and nuns mostly emphasize the Psalms during their daily prayers. (Modern-day monks usually pray through the entire book of Psalms every two weeks.) They also practice a kind of prayer called Lectio Divina, in which you read through scripture in a slower, less intellectual, more heart-driven way. There are a couple of scenes in the book where I pray using Lectio Divina.

I still practice Lectio Divina. I’ve just begun meeting with a group of friends (other moms) once a month for Lectio. And I still use the Psalms in my prayer life, though I don’t have a specific schedule of Psalms like I did in my story.

I love to emphasize the Psalms with my kids, especially my oldest, who really feels things deeply the way I do. I discovered a beautiful children’s book of Psalms—Psalms for Young Children. It emphasizes the whole gamut of emotions in the Psalms in a tender, gentle way that my kids really get. So we read through them when they’re feeling worried or sad.

But more than how I include my husband or my kids in the way I pray, I think the bigger change St. Benedict’s Rule has made in my life will be through my character, my sense of peace. I’m much more at ease with the “ordinariness” of this season of my life. I’m at peace with how I use my time and how God loves me. And I think my boys and my husband experience that on a daily basis. I’m a different mom than I was three years ago, because the Benedictines helped me learn to believe that God’s is finding me, restoring me, here, right now. That has really changed everything.

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E: In the book, you say, “My life has value because God has touched every mundane moment with the glow of holiness.” How do you remember to find that holiness in the mundane?

Micha: Some days I remember to look for it and some days I don’t. In the book I talk about “paying attention” and I really believe that gratitude is the beginning and ending of that process of noticing God in my ordinary life. On the days when I feel like a failure as a mom, or a friend, or a follower of Jesus, I’m learning to start back in the most basic place: gratitude. Even if I don’t know how to pray, I know how to thank God for my three-year-old’s laugh or for pieces of avocado on my slice of toast. And as soon as begin attributing the good in my life to God, I begin to see the holiness of my life again.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Found: An Interview with Micha Boyett {Part 1}

I would love to have you join me at Thrive Moms today to read more about the questions I’m asking God and myself about motherhood!

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I’ve been devouring books lately because there are SO. MANY. GOOD. ONES. coming out this spring and I’ve had the privilege of reading several advance copies. I honestly can’t get enough reading time and when I do, I just want to read and read and read these gems.

One of the first of this spring delivery of words I read was Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett. I didn’t know of Micha before I stumbled upon her book in the faith section of a review site. It was a total God-thing I found her there because her words spoke straight to me heart.

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Found is a story of purpose and motherhood and chaos and quiet and so much questioning with which I could absolutely relate. What happens to our faith when we’re doing something different than we ever thought was in the plan? How do we approach the feelings of insignificance in our current role? Where do we find the time and space for Him when little ones are always in our hands and at our feet?

This is truly a beautiful book so many will identify with because seldom does life go exactly as we had planned from day one. And the busyness of life threatens are quiet, intimate relationship with our Savior. But Micha offers hope in her journal-like memoir of discovering the time for all things, inspired by the Benedictine way of life and faith.

I had SO many things I wanted to ask Micha after finishing Found and she graciously agreed to an interview. I couldn’t NOT share all the beauty in her answers, so I’m dividing it into two parts. Here is part one…

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photo credit: Mark Kuroda Photography

E: What initially led you to research the ways of Benedict?

Micha: I came into motherhood during a season in my life when I felt pretty frantic about my own spirituality. I was trying to be enough for God, trying to make my life count. And being ordinary seemed the furthest thing from what God would want from me. So I was desperately striving to care for my kid AND do the “big” stuff, the hard spiritual work of ministry.

I was in youth ministry then and felt constantly torn, just like most working moms, between my passion for my work and my students and the demand of my child. And I feared that if I left ministry, I was leaving the thing that made my life valuable.

So much of it came down to a skewed perspective of God. I felt like if I could just figure out how to be more organized, how to be on time, how fit more in to my schedule, then I could finally pray enough, be enough, to feel valuable.

I came to Benedictine spirituality through one quote in Kathleen Norris’ book, The Cloister Walk. In her preface, she mentions that the Benedictines have always believed “there is enough time in each day for work and study and rest and play.” As a mom, I thought maybe I’d found the Holy Grail. Maybe there was a way to have enough time in the day to be everything I needed to be!

The story of my book, though, is the reality that “enough time” is not a five-step plan, some secret sauce that nobody else has figured out. It’s a spiritual condition of believing that there is enough time because God is enough, because God is making me enough.

 

E: What is your favorite prayer of the day in the Benedictine tradition? Favorite psalm to pray?

Micha: I talk about this verse in the book, but it’s become natural for me to pray the psalm that Benedictines pray each morning when they wake up. “Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15).

I love praying that before I open my lips. Before I’m barking orders at my kids to get dressed for school. Before I’m nagging my husband to take care of something for the house, I want to order my heart and my lips into one straight line. Will my mouth declare God’s praise? Will my hands? Will the words I write and the way I change that diaper and the grace I offer my Kindergartener when he refuses to focus on his homework?

What will happen when I open my lips today? Who will I belong to? I want to belong to Jesus. I want to belong to the God who rescues me again and again. I want to recognize God finding me, right now, today. Here.

 

E: What books do you recommend on the topic of prayer and Benedict? {This is for me, too – I’m very interested!}

I mention a lot of books in Found. But my favorite Benedictine author is Esther de Waal. Her books Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict and Living With Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality just clicked with me. Also, The Benedictine Handbook has been important. It includes the Rule of St. Benedict and some reflections from monks on his teachings. It also includes a prayer guide, which I like to go back to from time to time. Also, Macrina Wiederkehr (a Benedictine nun) has a beautiful book called Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, which works more as a devotional tool, taking you through the daily hours of prayer and offering scripture or poems or reflections to meditate on during those specific moments of prayer.

You can find links to buy Found and the other books recommended here. And join us tomorrow for part two of my interview with Micha!

 

Micha (pronounced “MY-cah”) Boyett is a writer, blogger, and sometimes poet.  A former youth minister, she’s passionate about monasticism and ancient Christian spiritual practices and how they inform the contemporary life of faith. Her first book Found: A Story Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer is available now on Amazon and will be in stores April 1. Boyett and her husband live in San Francisco with their two boys. Find her on TwitterFacebook, and at michaboyett.com

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Mighty {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Mighty.

Stick around for why this week is so important!

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And go…

I’m coming up on eight years of being a mom and I’m still not sure of myself. The moment I think I’ve figured out what works for our family, our boys, things change – ages, stages, moods, circumstances. I’m a little lost and trying to find my place.

Mighty Men

But I do know one thing about these boys of ours: I want to raise them to be mighty men of God. I want them to recognize the strength and power that comes from the Holy Spirit when they are living in relationship with Jesus. To use that might for the Kingdom. To be mighty for God and to love mightily. To use their passion and strong will for justice and mercy in His name.

I know no other way to do this than to be a mighty warrior in prayer for them. I’m not a guy. I don’t know how to be a godly man. But I know how to pray and prayer is a mighty weapon. None of us will be mighty on our own, but in His hands, there is strength this world can’t come close to touching.

Mighty

I need to wear out the knees of my jeans in prayer the way my boys do playing hard. A mighty prayer warrior to raise mighty men of God. Only by His grace, I’m finding this is my place.

Stop.

*****

Do you ever feel lost and completely un-mighty in your role as a mother? You’re not alone. And even though our paths to motherhood are very different, I’ve never felt so understood as a mom as I did reading Lisa-Jo’s new book, Surprised by Motherhood. Mamas, this book is for all of you and it will rock your world. Go. Pre-order it now. For you, your mom, your sister, your bible study – all the mothers you know. I have more to share on this next week, but know that I laughed and cried and finished it in 48 hours.

And go read more fabulous posts on the topic of mighty at Lisa-Jo’s place today!

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Praying for Boys

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

This is a very significant month if you’re a boy raiser like me. This is the month my dear friend Brooke’s book, Praying for Boys, is released!

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Nothing has impacted the way I pray for my boy more than Brooke’s words, starting with her ebook, Warrior Prayers, and now Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most.

God connected Brooke and I several years ago via the wonderful worldwide web and through that divine appointment, The MOB Society was born. I am so thankful to be on this boy-raising journey with her because, though our boys are roughly the same age, God has given Brooke a passionate heart for praying for our sons and wisdom beyond both our years as a mother from which I draw much strength and inspiration.

“Raising boys brings one adventure after another, but we’re losing the beauty and importance of training up godly men. Our boys need faithful Christian parents now more than ever. We can choose to rejoin the war for the hearts of our sons…today.”

Praying for Boys includes the original Scripture-based prayers from Warrior Prayers, but it is so much more than that. Brooke shares many personal stories that any boy mom or dad could relate with, as well as wonderful stories of the faithfulness of her grandmothers in their own journeys of raising boys.

“Remember mama, God hasn’t asked you to win the battle for the hearts of your sons. He’s only asked you to fight.”

I don’t know what I’m doing raising boys, but God does. When I try it on my own, I find only frustration and feelings of failure. When I bathe my sons {and my own motherhood} in prayers, there is hope in Jesus. And I don’t even have to have the right words because Brooke provides them aplenty in Praying for Boys.

“If their knees are ever to bend to Jesus as Savior, their hearts must bend first. This is the place of a mama’s prayers.”

This book has joined Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys as my go-to manuals for raising strong, godly men. It will stir your heart. It will move you to action. It will get you on your knees, right where God wants us. I’m doing it for these guys.

Praying for My Boys

I could not be more proud of Brooke and this book and thankful for her following God’s call to write it. Well done, friend. I needed this and I know so many boy raisers will find it to be just what they needed as well.

Praying for Boys: Asking God for What They Need Most releases January 7, 2014, but you can pre-order it now just to make sure you get it as soon as it is ready!

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Prayers for Cleaning Day

Fridays are my cleaning day. I do clean on other days, but Friday, I – and sometimes the boys – do the heavier weekly cleaning. It can be a little overwhelming when I think about it, but once I get started, it’s not so bad.

And it’s really not so bad when I distract myself with music, conversation with my cleaning buddies, or prayer.

As I was cleaning a few weeks ago, I asked God for a better attitude and more diligence when it came to taking care of our home. In the next hour or so, He had filled my head with the prayers below. Before I knew it, the house was clean and my heart was full. Focus off me, focus on Him, problem solved.

My hope in sharing these prayers with you is that you and I can focus more on the joy of doing His work in our homes and less on the drudgery and monotony of cleaning.

Prayers for Cleaning Day

Prayers for Cleaning Day

vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing…

May the feet that walk here chase as hard after God as they chase after one another. May they not follow what the crowd is doing, but where God is leading. May they go where God sends them with joy and courage.

sinks…

May the hands that wash here be dirty from doing the work of Jesus. May they always reach out to help those in need. May they be lifted high in worship each and every day.

mirrors…

May the eyes that look in this mirror see the wonder of who You have created them to be. May they find their worth and identity solely in Christ. May they know that man may look at appearances, but God looks at the heart.

changing sheets, making beds…

May the head that sleeps here be filled with gratitude and praise for You, the one true God. May the thoughts that fill this head be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

kitchen…

May we fill our mouths and minds with only good things from you, Lord. Keep our bodies and souls healthy and nourished by the food You have created and the Word You have given us. Help us make healthy choices that honor You and the bodies You have given us.

toilets, bathtubs…

May all who use these never take for granted every little blessing, even running water and toilet paper. May we praise You for the roof over our head, the floor under our feet, and yes, even the toilets and bathtubs. And may we remember always those who know not these luxuries, and do anything in Your leading to make a difference for those in need.

In Your Mighty Name…

And this is just the beginning. I know He has more ways for me to pray as I clean to unfold in the weeks, months, years ahead. The messes aren’t going away, but neither is He.

Maybe I’ll do a little extra work before Friday to see what He has to say… 

Prayers For Cleaning Day Printable
I put together a free printable of these prayers! Just subscribe to Home with the Boys and my new “Prayers for Cleaning Day” printable PDF will be linked to at the bottom of the next post you receive! If you are already a subscriber, you should find it at the bottom of this post in your email or feed!

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The Last {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute FridayIt’s Five Minute Friday with lovely Lisa-Jo!

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

For me? An exercise in letting go and letting words flow. Five minutes only. {yes, I do set a timer and it quacks like a duck at 5 minutes, which totally makes me smile}

Today’s prompt: Last.

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And go…

The Last

A woman was murdered near our home in the dark hours of Wednesday morning. Only a few blocks away. In our quiet suburban neighborhood.

I was rattled Wednesday with news of an armed and dangerous suspect on the loose, but I became more unsettled as more was released about the victim.

33 years old.

Wife.

Mother of three.

There has been no sense of peace for me over the last few days. Her description almost fits me to a tee. Too close to home, too close to my heart. And even though I didn’t know her, friends of ours did and the whole community is shaken.

I was tense yesterday, partially because of this tragedy, and that tension showed at my home until I was driving with the boys and thought…

What were the woman’s last words to her kids? to her husband? What were the last words each of them said to her?

What if today was my last with my kids and the words I just spoke were the last I said?

When all is said and done, only love remains… ~For KING and COUNTRY

Living, speaking, loving like today is my last. If anything good can come out of this horrible act of violence, Lord, let me be a part of it.

Stop.

*****

I cried my way through this post. My heart is broken. I needed to process this in words.

And I hope you’ll join me in praying for the dear family left behind in all of this. The community is really rallying behind them, with prayer vigils and memorial funds and even people signing up to bring meals for over two months already. Pray for the family to feel God’s love and comfort and peace through this His people here on earth. Pray for those sweet children.

And you can read a much happier “last” post from Lisa-Jo today on her oldest son’s birthday, along with many other beautiful writers on Five Minute Friday!

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