I was part of a loving, Christian family, and I had accepted Christ as my Saviour when a child at Bible camp. In my teens I became a leader at camp and in my twenties I worked with youth groups at church. As a teacher, I loved my students like they were my own children, but a time came when I was lonesome for a husband and a family of my own.
I had prayed about a family of my own, and this was one of the prayers on my first and second prayer boards. Hank and I were married in 1975, and I had joined the Roman Catholic Church in Barrhead, so that we could attend church as a couple and later raise our children in the faith.
I didn't become pregnant as I had prayed. Instead God blessed us with three children, adopted as infants. I rejoice to this day, as God continues to bless us and our family continues to grow.
Through God's blessings and answered prayers, I learned to consider Paul's final words to the Philippians.
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7)
I did what Paul advised in my prayers--orally, in my journals and on my prayer boards. This doesn't mean that everything in our lives went smoothly. Like all families we've had our struggles even though I'd put the things that really mattered on my board--our marriage, the children, careers, finances, social values and social life.
In Psalm 139 David says, "Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex? Your workmanship is marvellous--how well I know it."
Generally these boards were put away in the closet and reviewed infrequently. That is why it amazes me, when I look over the boards, to see how God has worked in my/our lives.
The sections of my each board would be marriage and family relations, faith, financial concerns, health and fitness, and personal growth. In personal growth, writing kept creeping in and taking up more space. It was obvious that I wanted, or felt called, to write.
I prayed and listened to God as I created each prayer board. We are wonderfully complex beings, as the Psalmist said. I feel as though God worked in and through me to help me reach the desires of my heart. In Matthew 6:33, we read Jesus cautioning us about worry: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
About every four or five years, I'd get the urge to make a new prayer board. I would save a stack of magazines. Then I'd begin ripping out pictures, titles, quotes, or catchy phrases that spoke to me about life in general, spiritual thoughts, material needs and plans for the family and for our future. The final step would be cutting my big circle from bristol board and starting my collage. Between the glued pictures and phrases, I would write Bible promises, inspiring quotes and prayers.
Now that Hank and I are retired and the kids are independent, you would think I'd have more time for writing. Life still gets complicated. I need to be disciplined, but I also need balance in my life. If I have a gift and a calling to write, I am responsible for using my gift. Still I know God knows more about balance than I ever will.
What Paul says to the Philippians applies to life in general and to writing as well. "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right. . . pure. . . lovely
. . . admirable. . . excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." And write about them too!
Paul reminds us to practice what we've learned, received, heard from him, or seen in him. "And the God of peace will be with (us)." (Philippians 4:8-9 My abbreviation.)
Like Paul, I can say that I (am learning) to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned (or I am learning) the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Note that my last prayer board has turned into a book format.
If you look closely, you will see a small book on the front cover that is slowly getting written.
I do rejoice and give thanks to God. Amen.