I and Thou – December Prayer

A Prayer for December

Dear Lord,

As we enter the traditional holiday season of yuletide celebration, we are reminded of our holidays of yesteryear. May we honor and bless these memories in our hearts forever and forge new and different memories of love, joy, and peace.

We are grateful for the abundant love and light you have given us in this season of giving. From the lighting of the candles of Hanukkah burning bright, the newborn babe in the Christmas manger bringing light to the world, to the candles of Kwanza producing identity, purpose, and direction. Let us, with one voice, proclaim love. The love of our Creator. The love inside each and every one of us – and may this love be given to others. Others who want to accept our free gift.

Bowing our heads in deep reverence or lifting our heads up high to the heavens, we humbly ask for more comfort and joy this holiday season.

May you pour your blessings on us all and grant us extra peace.

Amen

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Image Source: https://wallpaperaccess.com/abstract-holiday

I and Thou – The Quick Brown Fox

Forgive me if I use the wrong terminology. Technology and I have had a strange relationship starting with the IBM Selectric typewriter. There I was in Typing 101 at Clifton High School. A colossal poster board in the front of the room had the keyboard displayed. There were no letters on the typing keys. They were blank. I sat down at the table with the typewriter in front of me. To my left was an easel to stand the book I would be typing from – eventually. But first came the typing exercises to learn and memorize the keys and my finger placement. It was a true test of manual dexterity and hand and eye coordination – thankfully, I excelled at both.

First, I learned where to put my fingers.

Then, I learned what keys were where.

Finally, I could type:

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

At my prime, I was able to type 70-80 WPM. The goal, of course, was to type as fast as possible without any mistakes. Over the years, I have come to appreciate my ability to type. My favorite is still the look on people’s faces when I am typing and looking directly at the person I’m conversing with. Often, the person asks, “How do you do that?” To me, it is second nature.

Remember the first and only rule of typing.
Never look at the keyboard.

Typing Class

I won’t bore you with the details of the technology migrations I have managed throughout my career. Although, for posterity’s sake, I’ll list them in the order I remember. Typewriter – DEC 350 with Word 11 – Apple with FileMaker Pro – IBM with Microsoft Word – Dell – Asus. To date myself, my master’s thesis was typed on a DEC 350 with Word 11. How grateful I was to be able to cut and paste and use the backspace (delete) instead of having to insert the white-out strips when I had a typo. By the way, my thesis was on IRCA (Immigration, Reform, & Control Act).

I’m not an expert by any means. I’m a novice at the flash drive and forget about trying to copy files. I acknowledge my strengths in typing and my weaknesses in needing to learn about internal and external hard drives. Much like the car – I’m an excellent driver but not so much a mechanic. Although, when I flip up my hood to add oil to my car in 3 minutes flat, dressed in a suit, I receive raised eyebrows – if to say, “Well done.”

Tangent here: How often have you heard the words, “Well done?” Think about it. It makes me think of the parable of the good and faithful servant. Although scripture meant this to be a lesson in the sense of duty, it is a lesson in affirmation, for me.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’…

Matthew 25:21

Typing itself is affirming to me. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But the more I write and type, the quicker I get. Sometimes, I even feel an inner Spirit guiding my thoughts and fingers. Words flow out of me, and for that, I am grateful. What a gift to be able to type letters that become words that can speak to a person I may never meet. To me, that is affirmation. The one “like” to a post. It is affirmation. One encouraging word from a friend. Is affirmation.

The typing class was one of my most practical classes in high school. It baffles me when I see today’s students hunting and pecking on a keyboard.

Don’t they teach typing anymore?

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I and Thou – A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Dear God,

We are in different stages in our life journey, so we ask your help meeting us where we are.

Sit with us.

Hold our hand.

Listen to us.

Give us a hug.

Drink wine with us.

Share a meal with us.

The basics for sustenance. Fresh fruit and vegetables. Meats and baked breads.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

The foundation for spiritual nourishment. Holy scripture. Holy Spirit. A community of friends.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

Without you we are just a bag of bones. Brittle. Stale. Broken.

With you, Lord, we are caring souls. Resilient. Refreshed. Whole.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

We are thankful O Lord, for your infinite mercy and grace. May you shower us with your healing power. And let us remember to be grateful for what we have, not wishing for what we don’t have.

We are thankful O Lord, for all you provide.

Amen

Image Credit: https://wallpapercave.com/thanksgiving-cornucopia-wallpapers

I and Thou: Forgive Me

Art Credit: A Forgiving Heart by Fania Simon

Forgive Me

Forgive my crushed spirit.
Forgive my loving eyes.
Forgive my hurtful words.
Forgive my lack of attention.
Forgive my different wavelengths.
Forgive my trivial treasures.
Forgive my unmet expectations.
Forgive my passing judgments.
Forgive my lengthy inaction.
Forgive my jealous thoughts.
Forgive my coveting of others.
Forgive my impatience.
Forgive my open wounds.
Forgive my sweet gaze.

I and Thou: Yom Kippur

Photo Credit: Ruth Walton

Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. According to myjewishlearning.com, “Yom Kippur is when God seals the Books of Life and Death for the coming year.” The overall theme of Yom Kippur is repentance. It is the most solemn day in the life of Judaism.

Yom Kippur, “is the day…to divorce ourselves completely as humanly possible from the mundane world in which we live,
in order to devote ourselves with all our hearts and minds
to our relationship with the Divine.”

Myjewishlearning.com

It is my belief, that the Divine requires us repent. To repent to our fellow humans, and to repent to the Almighty for thoughts, deeds, or words we may have or have not said. Repentance is required for renewal and reconciliation.

If I have offended any of my brothers or sisters, I apologize from the depth of my being and hereby ask for forgiveness of any unkind word, thought or action I may or may not have had or done.

G’mar chatima tovah. Wishing you all to be sealed in the Book of Life.

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam

I am flawed. I am human. I have made mistakes. Forgive me, oh Lord, for I have sinned. Heal my festering wound, so I can start anew.

Amen

My prayer

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/yom-kippur-101/

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I and Thou: The Labor of a Shell

Do you ever wonder about seashells? How they form? How critical they are to our environment? After reading a few articles, seashells are very important. They are mostly calcium with a sprinkle of protein and form from mollusks. Who knew? In fact, they are so vital that it is against the law in some countries to remove them from the ocean. When I think of a seashell, I can imagine the length of refining it took for what it became rather than how it began. And that sure sounds like labor.

A friend recently posted on lifelong labor, retirement, and the meaning of life. It was a great post – so feel free to check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/robertmullinswrites

Photo Credit: Carol Leigh, “South African Turban Shell” fineartamerica.com

I commented “life is about finding meaning and the worth of existence. The word retirement needs to be thrown out the window and replaced with refocusment (I made the word up) or, perhaps even better, refinement?

Which got me thinking about what refinement might look like. Could it possibly be the process of discovering ourselves in the bigger scheme of existence in relationship to others? If we put others first, a basic tenet of Christianity, perhaps labor would feel less like labor.

As I muddled through life, I performed an array of odd “labor.” I cut lawns, lifeguarded, and babysat so I could pay college tuition. I worked at a sporting goods store for three years too. Then, I was lucky enough to earn a college degree and start my first full-time professional job. What they didn’t teach in college was that a degree in psychology and working in education would never afford you to have any real discretionary income. But it was enough to provide food and shelter. Then, I found my knight in shining armor, or so I thought.

I had been blessed as a stay-at-home mom for nearly ten years while I raised my two boys. Most honest parents will tell you that raising kids is no picnic. But not having to dress in a corporate suit and wear heels every day was lovely. Then, I hit a rough patch of another ten years where it seemed that working was all I was doing. It sure sounded like Joseph telling the Pharoah that seven years of famine would follow seven years of abundance. (Genesis 41). I worked at a grocery store and taught pre-school to pay bills and have food on the table. At the same time, I was trying to launch a consulting firm. I did manage (by the grace of God) to pick up a few consulting gigs at fascinating places – and the best part? I didn’t have to wear heels. And then the money started to flow. My college degrees were finally paying off. I can’t imagine people who have to work to survive over the long haul.

During this almost penniless, having three dollars and forty-three cents to my name timeframe, I had to work with little time to refine. Yet perhaps that whole time spent piecing together four part-time gigs was part of the refining process. I certainly would not be the person I am today; had I not had the experience of being thrown down into a deep dark tunnel only to climb myself out of it with the help of others. Not that I wish that experience on anyone, but it was undoubtedly a testimony to my grit.

It took a village to support and encourage me to take a leap of faith—a leap to Arkansas, where I found peace and my tribe. And, if you are being pulled in a specific direction – take the leap of faith! I miss my tribe dearly – but I know they are all within me and part of the refining process. Kind of like the shell, taking years to form from cells, calcium, and proteins floating in the ocean. Yes, it takes a village; sometimes, it is one person, and at other times, it may be many people. What does your village look like?

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I and Thou: Knock, Knock

Knock, Knock

Crying out to the Lord,
Where are you, Sir?

The Lord of the universe,
Hello, anybody out there?

Crying out again to the Lord,
Why must I suffer this profound loss?

Bowing head in reverence,
Asking to change hearts and minds.

The Lord of the universe,
Where are you, Sir?

Are you listening?
Can you hear me screaming?

Anguish, hallow, pit,
Drip, drip, drip.

Insides swirling and twirling,
Lamenting, questioning – a crisis of faith
.

Don’t you care?
Where are you, Sir?

My child, you are most precious to me,
I am right here, beside you.

Go ahead and put your head on my shoulder,
It is okay to cry and be heartbroken.

And, in all of this deep despair,
A gentle voice whispers, “I love you.”

Graphic Credit: The Perseus Galaxy Cluster greatbigcanvas.com

I and Thou: Keep it Short

Short & Pithy
Let it go.
Work at it.
Establish boundaries.
Keep it light.
Have fun.
Talk it out.
Be there.
Provide space.
Stay connected.
Together is better.

Let it go…

can you really let it go? I’m not sure. We can strive to let it go, and maybe asking God for help isn’t such a bad idea.

Work at it…

to me, anything worthwhile must be earned. For two people to have a relationship, work needs to be done. Whether the person is your Team Leader at work or your spouse. All relationships require work by two people.

Establish boundaries…

you hear about boundaries quite a bit. It seems to be a buzzword of the past few decades. For instance, the Boundaries book by Dr. Townsend & Dr. Cloud. The woman takes on so many church responsibilities that she is drowning because she doesn’t know how to say “no.” It is vital to one’s sanity to establish boundaries. I don’t think anyone would argue this point. Yet, setting limits to protect oneself and not thinking of the other person’s perspective doesn’t seem right to me.

Keep it light…

life is short, and I think I am way too serious, but it is my nature, and I have to work at having fun and keeping it light. For those who have the gift of being able to keep it light – what is your secret? I’d love to know.

Have fun…

to me, this is like keeping it light. To have fun, I try to surround myself with fun people. I find that fun people tend to spread the fun. I need to find more fun people!

Talk it out…

ah! This one is good. I love to talk, and I value communication. Communication is one of my strengths, so it is second nature for me to engage in a conversation unless a conflict is mixed in because that causes me to freeze up and shut down. I feel offended and sad when someone doesn’t want to talk to me. So, now that I know this about myself, I am responsible for letting those who love me understand this. Therefore, partners need to find out how important communication is and by what means it is most valued. Since I had spent so much of my work life on the phone, the phone is not my favorite. Text messages and short emails work best for me. What works best for you?

Be there…

just showing up is essential. Either in person, through a gift, or an email. Partners need to be there. Make time. Figure out your love languages and go from there. We all communicate differently. Find out what works for you and your partner. Being there…also reminds me of having someone’s back. This “have your back” is far more critical than I had ever realized. I’m glad I know how this feels.

Provide space…

who doesn’t need space? Provide space to develop separately, as a couple, or as a work team. The tricky part is knowing when to ebb and flow. Once you find people who know how to ebb and flow with and around you, you have a great circle of friends.

Stay connected…

it really doesn’t take much to stay in touch, especially in this day in age of social media. I’m not suggesting being online eight hours a day. Perhaps treating your family, friends, and coworkers as a garden that needs watering every so often might be nice. I promise you will reap rewards that you can’t even imagine. I met a colleague who told me she reaches out to five people on LinkedIn weekly. That is what works for her.

Together is better…

in most cases, I wholeheartedly agree! Together is better when two people wish to get to know each other and want the other person in their lives. Without grievous infractions, miscommunications can be resolved through authentic introspection and the willingness to accept different thoughts from yours. People create walls around themselves and find it challenging to peek through the cracks. But, once they do, I think they will be surprised by how much love they will receive. After all, love is everything – isn’t it?

I and Thou: A Parent’s Prayer




A Parent’s Prayer

Our Creator who art above the firmament,
hallow our inner spirit.
Thy wisdom come.
Thy will be done,
on the path we walk each day.
Give peace to our sons and daughters,
and forgive us for what we did not know,
as we forgive them for what they did not know,
and lead us not into a dark tunnel of gloom,
but deliver us from the stronghold of estrangement.
For you are the Creator of all wisdom, forgiveness, love,
and acceptance forever and ever. Amen

– Ruth E. Walton

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Image Credit: Pray for You: Found on Pinterest – Artist Unknown