These are my prayer beads, introduced in the previous entry. Below are the names of the beads and/or what they represent. Some of these won't make much sense just yet. But... oh well. Stay tuned to learn more.
1) Dawn (Psalm 57)
2) Trust, Obey, Abide
3) The Lord's Prayer
4) The Clown of God
5) Family
6) Edgecombe House
7) The Heights
8) TGC Leaders
9) Won
10) TGC Peeps
11) The Kitchen Sink
12) Red Moon Rising
13) Good Morning Joe
14) The Black Box
15) Two Loves
16) Trinity
17) Nantakarn
18) Other
19) Freegans
20) Musicians
21) Dreams
22) Shalom
23) Plans
I've been meeting with the Trinity Grace worship team on Tuesday mornings for well over a year now. We spend the bulk of the time in prayer and worship, but it is also a time for us to learn and grow together in these disciplines. To this end the worship pastor, Alf, often teaches us what he has been learning himself.

For many months now we've been talking about ordering our prayer lives: what, why, how. The basic idea is that God has given each of us a little bit to steward. He longs to give us more but first we must show that S/he can trust us with a little. We should be praying and interceding on behalf of the people, places, and promises that God has entrusted to us already. 

Alf recommended that we make a list and encouraged us to send it to him. I made my list a few months ago but still struggled to be disciplined about prayer. I don't think I was alone.

We were amused when Alf responded to this common struggle, showing us a tool he had recently implemented in his prayer life - a string of prayer beads that he had selected himself at a nearby bead store. I wasn't so much amused at the idea as much as his self-consciousness about it. It seemed like a great idea to me, something that would be very helpful in my own prayer life. He wrote three words on the board, emphasizing the importance of ordering our prayer lives, of doing whatever it takes to make that happen:

Finally I made it down to the bead store on 37th and 6th, spending over $40 on about 60 beads (bad freegan!) - each representing a person, place, promise, idea, or Bible verse that is important to me or my story. I've been using it to guide my prayer for about a week now and I'm finding it to be very helpful! 

I wish to share with others what the beads represent, in hopes that it might help them order their own prayer lives and even get their own beads, should they find this tool to be as helpful as I do! Stay tuned for future posts, as I explain each bead or set of beads - the many great gifts that God has entrusted to me!

My abuela Angela passed on Good Friday, almost a week ago. I'd anticipated her passing for about two years, since I first recognized that she was slipping. Immediately following that occasion I wrote:

When she finally succumbs to the death inside her
and shakes his selfish hand,
the world will lose among its most precious gems.
The total beauty of this world will diminish,
perhaps perceptibly.

And as my sister recently commented on facebook, many of us will have to take to our knees more often to make up for the loss of a faithful prayer warrior. On that same day, my grandmother charged me with a new name, a new mission: nuestro músico especial.

I will certainly continue to write and play the music that God has put on my heart and conscience. But I am also compelled to take up the baton of prayer, to dedicate my life to both prayer and worship just as my grandmother had done.

Though her body may die,
her voice never will.
I will carry it forever, until in my last days,
I can hold hands with Life and christen
a new singer to carry on this legacy - 
a legacy of beauty and love that has been carried 
since the beginning of time,
to be carried forever and ever.
In the mean time, I'm assembling a choir to sing her song -
an ode to joy,
but also to peace, love, life...
and life abundant.

Click here for the complete poem.
I will periodically post excerpts from the 1967 ed of Spire Books', "The Practice of the Presence of God," by and about Brother Lawrence (c. 1614-1691). Perhaps they'll help put kitchen "business" in right perspective. The following are from the publishers' Preface:
Fame and greatness are relative values and often a delusion and a snare, depending upon circumstances and an attitude of mind. Napoleon was famous to some and infamous to others, and Jesus, crucified in his day, is greater with the passing years. Perhaps the greatest of men are those who never seek greatness at all, but who personify the virtues which posterity calls great. Such an one was Brother Lawrence... with a mind so like the mind which was in Christ, he lived so abundantly in the presence of God.

No conceited scholar was Brother Lawrence; theological and doctrinal debates bored him, if he noticed them at all. His one desire was for communion with God. We find him worshiping more in his kitchen than in his cathedral... and he could say, "the time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen... I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament."

A wholly consecrated man, he lived his life as though he were a singing pilgrim on the march, as happy in serving his fellow monks and brothers from the monastery kitchen as in serving God in the vigil of prayer and penance. He died at eighty years of age, full of love and years and honored by all who knew him.