dreaming of the sun

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I found out this morning that a friend of mine just lost her father unexpectedly.  Another friend lost her last grandparent yesterday.  Other friends have loved ones who are sick, battling cancer and other debilitating diseases.  Others have personal medical scares, financial issues, or just overwhelming stress.  This is the time of year when everyone always talks about a new start, as if turning to a different page on an arbitrary division of time will suddenly fix everything, make us more organized, able to reach our goals and ensure our smooth transition through the next year.  We look at 2014 as a blank slate, like unspoiled snow (for half the world, we’re inundated with the stuff right now).  Somehow, a new year gives us hope that things will be different this time, that somehow, someway, life will finally get better.

But what about the people whose troubles carry over? The sickness that doesn’t magically clear up on January 1? The unemployment that stretches on into trackless whiteness? Or the sudden death casting its shadow on the bright promise of a new year?  The ones who look ahead into 2014 and see nothing more than the same hard slog they had last year, and the snow is deeper and the wind colder, so they can hardly stand — how can they go forward?

It’s for those people — for all of us, really, have those days where it’s more than our strength is worth to pick our feet up one more time — it’s for us there is “prayer and cookies”, fellowship and strength.  For us who struggle, there is hope in meeting life head-on, together, and reminding each other of God’s promises.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  — Isaiah 41:10

Some translations put that last phrase as “the right hand of my just one” — that’s Jesus! And if anyone knows about hard slogs and hopelessness, it’s Jesus.  He’s walked dusty hot miles, lost nearly everyone He loved, and had more stress and mental pain than we can imagine.  If there’s anything that can give us strength to take one more step, it’s the right hand of God’s Just One. Holding us up, filling us with just enough for once…more…

So maybe instead of dreaming of the sun on a cold Minnesota morning, we should look to the Son. And take one more step into a clean new year.

sonshine

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prayer for a new year

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I’m not the world’s most gifted with words, especially when I’m praying — I just tend to have a conversation with God, usually involving what I’m worried about and what I’d like Him to do about it. I wanted to have a wonderful prayer for the new year, but I saw a prayer someone posted by Billy Graham for a new year, and I thought I’d put that up instead.  Maybe next year I’ll be wonderful and write my own?

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This prayer from Billy Graham, written for “The Saturday Evening Post” in 2008, is just as relevant this year:

Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.

Amen

© 2008 Saturday Evening Post Society. Reprinted with permission.

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Mary and LambPrayer and Cookies is a new site — welcome to the first post!  I will be adding more information and content soon, including cookie recipes and meeting times!  For now, I just want to wish you a wonderful New Year!

May the Lamb, the Child of Mary, be close to you today and the rest of this new year.  May His peace fill your heart and home as you learn how to walk in His ways more every day.  

In Jesus’ name, Amen.