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13, 16, 17, 19, 20

You may be looking at those numbers and wonder what kind of title that is - what do they have in common. I know that in either assisting or watching over the math work that my kids have done, this spring, there were more than a couple questions like this - find the pattern. You can look all you want but there is no mathematical pattern here. These were tough years:

13 - Tim born 8 weeks early, 1 heart surgery, 1 heart cath and learning to care for him;

16 - The year that both Josh's grandfather & sister died;

17 - My dad had major surgery, my mom died, and Hurricane Harvey;

19 - Dad's surgery & all the complications, Tim's 2nd heart surgery, Imelda, my autoimmune diagnosis;

20 - well, you've all been here for this year.

At the end of 2019 everyone was asking us if we were glad that we were going to have a new year to start over. Or, aren't you glad that 2019 is done. I agreed with the first every time because 2019 was overwhelming in so many places, but when I first heard aren't you glad 2019 is done, I had to stop and say there were some wonderful things in 2019 and if I had to trade the good things in order for the difficult parts, I wouldn't. In fact as I wrote out these major life events that were hard & heavy I kept wanting to put the good stuff too.

13 - Having the privilege to re-order the priorities & people in our lives, learning new things about myself and family;

16 - Getting to introduce my children to Grand Canyon, Disneyland & Zion National Park for the first time;

17 - Going to Greece & Rome, being appointed to Faith UMC in Fannett & the Astros' winning the world series (it was joyful & proud moment until recently when I learned of the cheating); Dad preparing to move in with us;

19 - Using what I'd learned to care & advocate for Tim for my Dad; taking the family to California - not just for Disney, but to where I grew up (people & places ranking high), having Tim's heart repaired, learning that I don't have to do it all to be loved.

I can't quite write about the positives of 20 yet - especially still being in the middle of it all. And as hard as it is there will be a time when I look back, not just to acknowledge the pain but remember the joy. Often in our family conversations of the past 3 months we have said, we're so glad that Tim's surgery and our big trip were last year and not scheduled for this year. This week I've had the opportunity to see pictures and remember with the kids what we were doing this time last year.

The psalm appointed for today is Psalm 46:1 – 4:

God is our refuge and strength : a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved : and though the mountains be toppled into the depths of the sea;

though its waters rage and foam : and though the mountains tremble at its tumult.

The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

God is with us when the world is chaotic. God is our strength when we feel as if we have no more left. God is with us always. I've written a little through this time talking about my prayer life and journey. I think I even shared that I was not, am not, always confident and comfortable in my prayer life. I know that I am not alone. For many years sitting in silence was agony for me and now it's just not something that I have very often. But I learned that I do not need 30 minutes or anything fancy to have a rich prayer life, if I simply remember that God is with me all the time and to listen. Sometimes what I need most is a breath prayer. You may be wondering what is a breath prayer. It's a prayer that you say with one breath - God help me, please God, Forgive me. These are all good when I'm at my end but when I'm not drowning or have a few minutes - this one is my favorite:

Be still and know that I am God. It is true, I can say it in one breath and when practiced can calm me just like the Psalm a help in trouble.

I learned in 2016 a different way to use this prayer that when I have longer helps my body, mind & soul. In silence and often with my eyes closed and laying on the ground, I take a deep breath and say:

Be still and know that I am God (and sit with this phrase while I breathe);

Be still and know that I am (repeat deep breaths with each phrase);

Be still and know that I;

Be still and know that;

Be still and know;

Be still and;

Be still;


I resonate with this prayer. The only one that hasn't brought me peace is the Be still and - I want to fill it in, I want to make it complete, I want to do something - and yet this morning this is the phrase that resonates deeply with me. So often we have to choose between 2 things, we make everything either/or. American league or National league for example. I've argued for as long as I've had breath that the National league is superior for many, many reasons that I failed to see the benefit of a different way of playing a game I love. What happens when we move from either/or to both/and?

If I have to go through difficult things let me have joyful things as well. Would I trade any of the pain & difficulty if that meant I gave up the joy too? No. A thousand times no. God will be with me in both, I may just need to rely more on God when things are hard. I invite you today, this week, this month, this year to resist that we are called into either/or thinking. God is not in one place or the either - God is in both. May we practice praying and being in God's presence. In the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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