How do you Pray when You Cannot Focus?

one

focus
The most important thing on my cork board. No matter how unfocused I am, this is my Jesus.

By: Jana Greene

Over the weekend, one of my very dear girlfriends contacted me. Our friendship is a God Thing to the inth degree. A years ago, we became Facebook friends somehow, and then NAMASTE! – my spirit recognized her spirit the instant we talked. We have much in common health-wise, many of the same struggles. It was as if Abba said, “Hmmm….these two could really bounce things off each other.” And he was right.

She is going through a prolonged episode of ‘brain fog’ due to chronic health issues. If you are healthy (or your brain is young) the fog might be a foreign concept to you. It’s more than forgetting what you went in to the kitchen for. It’s like your thoughts are trying to gain footing on a very slippery rock.  It’s a dulling and jumbling of your mind, which can really do a number on your spirit.

“How does one keep a solid prayer/reading life with chronic illness?” She asked me.  “When you either oversleep (because you are sick and need the sleep, not because you’re lazy), or you truly can’t muster up a prayer, or read. Or your mind is all over the place, not stable like it used to be? Maybe a good blog topic?”

A very good blog topic.

I am worlds WORST with carving out quiet time/devotions. There, I said it. It’s OUT THERE now. And It isn’t because prayer isn’t important to me.

Between chronic pain, ADD (and OCD, which can be kind of severe at times)  and anxiety…there are times that the best thing I can offer is conversational prayer with God throughout the day. For a short while, I took medication for my ADD and the BIGGEST change I noticed was that I could pray like a regular Saint Augustine! HOURS. When I had to go off of it because it raised my blood pressure, I felt like somebody yanked the prayer rug from under me.

I still pray, of course. It’s a constant conversation, but often not terribly structured.

After I saw the movie “War Room,”  I was so stoked to make deliberate time in my bedroom closet. I covered one wall with cork-boards on which to pin my heartfelt prayers every day as soon as I woke up. FIRST THING. Maybe I’ll be so fervent I’ll go into the Prayer Closet several times in the middle of the night! Wow, I’ll bet I will REALLY hear from God then! My boards will resemble the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, it will be so jam-packed with my sacraments and epiphanies!

The next morning I did, in fact, enter it like the Holy of Holies. But the day after that I had a migraine and another day, my anxiety was too full-on to sit still, and other days I just forgot.

Mostly my self-crafted Prayer Closet just caused me to feel guilty EVERY single time I’d walk in to get a pair of shoes. Eventually it went like this: Enter closet for shirt, avoid eye contact with The Wall, feel massively guilty, avoid God because I can’t even hack this focus thing, emotionally self-flagellate. Vow to spend two hours solid in it the next day. Fail to do so and feel terrible. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But then I realized that I talk to God conversationally all day long. He knows my heart, he knows my pain, and my janky brain fog. In trying, trying, trying to be better, I set myself up for failure (it’s kind of a specialty of mine.)

But God, who created my brain and all the other miraculous workings of my body, is not going to withhold from me because of my limitations. That would be pretty freaking cruel. Instead, he caulks in the cracks and loves me like MAD.

My dear friend  is also frustrated with hearing from God the way she used to when she was brain fog-free. I get that, too. That’s the worst thing. But I think he – knowing our plight – compensates by speaking to us in our constant conversation with him. He is never more than a dozen thoughts from my heart, and he knows it.

When someone comes to mind, I pray for her. When I’m worried, I pray. When I see a pretty flower, praise the Creator and thank him for it. Thank him for my friends and blessings and hot coffee.

Especially, I tell him I trust that he is working on issues I don’t see evidence of yet, and ask him to help me trust when I don’t.

I ask for focus fifty times a day, at least.

But when I can’t get through the fog, here’s the cool thing: Grace!

GRACE is the caulk in the space between our best intentions and highest enlightenment. It fills in the cracks and expands in the crevices where I’m foggy or anxious, or even just lazy. We are not perfect but he holds us close to us still! No guilt required.

My sacraments and epiphanies don’t always come down from Heaven like a bolt of lightning when I’m having an Instagram-worthy moment of devotion with the perfect cup of coffee.

Sometimes they trickle in increments of A-Ha! moments that Holy Spirit doles out and pours into me. When I’m too pained or foggy to tune into his frequency, he reminds me that it’s okay.

I told my dear friend that perhaps we can meet this week and brain-dazed and janky together. Pray awkward, foggy prayers together, and trust grace to caulk in our rough spots. Listen for the bolt of lightning, but be okay with the A-Ha moments and roll with it as the Sisters in Christ that we are. Raise a War Room right where we are, where two or more are gathered.

God isn’t angry that we have unfocused seasons. He just desires that we keep the conversation going, and listen for his voice.

God bless us, every one.

 

 


 

He is Risen – Poetic Celebration of Easter

maryblog
The Passion of the Christ

By: Jana Greene

 

The world was in the blackest place

when Messiah breathed His last,

Compassion settled on his face

As precious spirit passed.

He who was to save the world

Hung upon a tree,

Giving pause and crushing blow

To all humanity.

On that day he’d be entombed,

Guards assigned to guard the cave.

And with a stone to seal the room,

There seemed no hope to save.

But then…

But then!

In three days time,

Mary came to tend the shell –

The body of her dearest friend –

Who’d delivered her spirit from darkest Hell.

She came upon an empty tomb

And falling down on bended knee,

Hears a voice beside her say

“Woman, why do you weep?”

He called her then by her name

(Just as he calls us yet still)

And she rest her eyes on living Christ

As prophesy fulfilled.

He is Risen! He’s alive!

All He’d said came true.

He’s living still today in me,

And (if you accept) in YOU.

And where does this leave sin to rest?

Oh Death, where is your sting?

As far as East is from the West!

No condemnation does it bring.

He is Risen! Now rejoice!

Rabbi,  Teacher, Messiah, Friend

Follow the sound of His loving voice –

Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End.

Cast off the linens binding you,

The shroud limiting your spirit’s view,

Ask God to roll your stone away –

And rejoice this blessed Easter Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agape for Amateurs: a love letter from God

HE IS RISEN, BELOVEDS!
And that changed everything.
HAPPY EASTER

The Beggar's Bakery

Only love to lose

Oh Dear Created One,
I am only Love….only ever good.
By avoiding me, you have only love to lose. And love is everything.
I am not angry with you. In Jesus, I gave myself to you, for you – redemption in one fail swoop.
When you have a misstep, I am saddened because you are hurting.I am with you in your hurting places.
When you deny me, curse me, hide from me – I am still with you in the hiding places. I am courting you all along.
Where there is love, I am.
In this fallen world, hope seems in deficit; do not put your hope in this world.
All the things you’ve been foolish for have torn you down, yet you are so afraid to be a “fool” for me?
Enough of the fallen. Enough of the foolish self-dependency. Walk with me – I long…

View original post 306 more words

Dry Toast and God Wrestling

858px-Rembrandt_-_Jacob_Wrestling_with_the_Angel_-_Google_Art_Project

Rembrandt – Jacob Wrestling

By: Jana Greene

Yesterday I fell violently ill, the kind of sick that you crawl on all fours to the bathroom and end up sprawled out on the floor because whats the point of going anywhere else? I couldn’t hold down so much as an ice chip.

It was the kind of sick that you feel you might die and don’t really care if you do. I told my husband, who lovingly cared for me, that the last time I was that horribly ill was the night before I got sober in January 2001. There, on another bathroom floor, I was broken and sick, and wrestled mightily with God.

For some reason, God has chosen to meet me on the floor of a bathroom repeatedly. It’s kind of my personal “Peniel.”

But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.

The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.”

Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.”

The man said, “What’s your name?”

He answered, “Jacob.”

The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”

Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?”

The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him.

Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!”

The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip. (This is why Israelites to this day don’t eat the hip muscle; because Jacob’s hip was thrown out of joint.)

– Genesis 32″:22-32 (MSG)

There is nothing like being a collapsed heap on the floor and yet still feeling the presence of God. On the verge of going to the hospital, I tried to will myself to be well. I tried to bargain with God. I wrestled him much like I did on January 2, 2001.

I’m not letting you go until you bless me. And he does.

It astounds me that the force that created the entire universe is not too proud to come hang out with me when I am at my worst. Isn’t that amazing? Sometimes a prayer can be a whimper, but he shows up just the same.

And this morning I consumed and managed to hold down some flat Sprite and toast. Glorious, glorious TOAST.

I guess the moral of this story is that God meets you where you are, whether it be on the floor of a bathroom or a regal palace; whether it be a life-altering and radical thing like getting sober, or having a wretched 24-hour stomach bug.

Sometimes, we come away limping.

I don’t know why some people get almost never get sick, and some people are sick chronically, and why other people die from disease. Theology and biology are not my strong suits.

All I know is that if you cling to Abba, you win any which way. Perhaps dying for the believer is not a triumph for disease, but a respite from a race well-run and finished. To see God face to face is certainly no hardship. You’ve still wrestled with God and come through.

The sun came up when Jacob left Peniel. And then right then and there (God) blessed him. Limp notwithstanding.

Today I am grateful for healing. I’m grateful for My Beloved who went above and beyond (as is his way) for me. I’m grateful for my kitty cats who parked out with me flanking each side of my body and not leaving my side (who says cats don’t have feelings?) all day long. I’m grateful  for dry toast and flat Sprite.

But most of all, I’m grateful for my Heavenly Father, and his capacity for comforting us wrestlers. I do love him so.

A prayer can be a whimper, but he shows up just the same.

 

 

 

A King’s Resurrection – the roar of Easter over culture

The Beggar's Bakery

 

08d2a046a15511e1b10e123138105d6b_7

There is so much noise. Do you hear it?

A pulling like the moon on the tide, darkly scooting across the earth. An undercurrent of intolerance for those who love Christ, who love God. More and more there is a cultural acceptance to bash them. And at Easter time, a growling and blatant disrespect for Yeshua – Jesus – and his lifework and ministry.

Never in history has a single King elicited such passion – both adoration and loathing.
But then, never in history has a single King come to redeem not only his own subjects, but the ones who mock him.

And mock him, they have. Internet memes, social media, and other venues for popular culture may be the latest vehicles for this derision, but on this Good Friday, we mark the day of the Crown of Thorns. We mark the event in which his contemporaries intended to…

View original post 543 more words

Chronic Illness and Love in Real-Time

IMG_4710

By: Jana Greene

“Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.” – Matthew 10:28 (MSG)

This past week has been a rough one.

I’m sick again, pretty super awful sick. And the medicine is so powerful it is almost making me feel worse. Almost. There is no choice not to take it, unless I prefer having it administered via IV at a hospital. With my immune system, I’d be terrified to set foot in a hospital, or even the gift shop. No thank you very much.

It feels like this may be the straw that broke the camel’s back, or at least made the camel exclaim “OY! What a headache!”

My husband, who lovingly takes care of me when I’m sick or depressed or a combination thereof. God bless that man, he has been encouraging me through my health issues for ten years now. I keep expecting him to say, “Dude, this is one too many issues. I didn’t sign up for this.”

But he never does. He says my issues are his issues –  and vice versa – and that he signed up for being with me, WHATEVER that looks like, period. He is very resolute about that. We are a very affectionate couple, but he holds me extra when I’m feeling broken.

I’ve come to understand that that’s what love looks like in real-time. It doesn’t catch you on the rare occasion you have the sniffles or break a bone. It’s not a part-time endeavor.

You see, love isn’t looking for an out. It’s always looking for an in.

“This too shall pass,” My Beloved said to me yesterday. And I nodded in agreement because, yes, it shall. There is no doubt.

But in my weary state of this illness, I wondered aloud what would come next.

This illness was preceded in short order by the flu (thanks a lot flu shot), on the heels of a year of the worst migraines of my life, on the heels of chronic sinus infections and UTIs,  having had major surgery last July and all the healing from several bouts with (and I am not making this up) Cat Scratch Fever, and the cherry on top that is chronic fatigue. And a generous dollop of anxiety and depression just to keep things interesting.

So yes, I know this too shall pass. But what’s following it? I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy, honestly. I just feel beat to the ground and want the chance to stand up and fight without the constant overlap of health issues slamming me back to the ground before I can even get footing.

I’ve stopped asking for prayer on social media because really, it’s just been one thing after another, and I don’t want people rejecting God because they don’t see my healing.

So I find myself here, in this place of wanting to tell the world how loving my God is, yet concerned that seekers might not really want what I’ve got, if it means being sick.

But how cocky is THAT thought? That people won’t reach out to my God if I’m transparent about my life and health? God has been doing the God thing far before any of us came to be.

I don’t believe he causes suffering.

I do believe he allows us to experience it.

I believe in 100% healing; I’ve seen it happen many times. But I’ve also been browbeaten by other Christians for not receiving my healing instantly, as if it were a matter of faith or lack thereof. I cannot express how damaging that is to someone who is suffering. Calling into question their faith when they are already hurting is adding the worst kind of insult to injury. “Name it and Claim it” theology takes one very important consideration out of the picture:

That God is sovereign.

And that if he allows us to suffer, he WILL USE that experience to further his Kingdom and to benefit another of his children who will hurt in exactly the way you are hurting now. The more a situation sucks, the more impact your testimony can make to another life. God wastes no hurt.

Sometimes I remind God that I didn’t sign up for this.

“I’m REALLY FRUSTRATED,” I tell him. Often.

“I know, Kiddo,” my spirit hears him soothe.

He reminds me that no matter how my body hurts or fails or frustrated, he will never leave or forsake me. He is in it with me for the long run, WHATEVER that looks like.

Whatever is next, God is already there. The potential for physical maladies are legion, and these Earth Suits we have wear out and down. All of them will fail. We are specifically reminded NOT to allow fear to bully us into making our physical bodies the focus of our lives, but to making our core beings a home to Holy Spirit.

What can man do to me? What can ill health do to me, ultimately? I know the end of the story. My soul is redeemed, perfect and whole in Christ. No matter how many health struggles I endure. So many people are hurting so much worse than I am. I pray for them as well. God help us all – broken bodies and minds and spirits.

So today as I lay in bed, uncomfortable and grumpy and generally out of sorts, I share my frustration with you so that perhaps you are reminded too – you are not alone. Your issue or worry is very real and is not going unnoticed by God. Ask him to hold you. Implore him to not let this experience go to waste. He will take it from there.

That’s what love looks like in real-time. It doesn’t catch you on the rare occasion you have the sniffles or break a bone.The love of God is not an incomplete work. He isn’t deterred by a little Negative Nancy bouts of  frustration. His love isn’t a part time endeavor.

He is very resolute about that. It doesn’t mean I will not get sick. It does mean he holds me extra when I feel broken. It’s okay to hurt, and trust, and mourn, and trust some more.

You see, love isn’t looking for an out.

It’s always looking for an in.

God bless us – the sick and the sad and the struggling.
God bless us, every one.

 

 

 

Take me Higher – an Alcoholic Finds Solid Ground

The Beggar's Bakery

By: Jana Greene

You are an alcoholic. Or an addict. There is precious little difference, really. You indulge in some substance or activity that you cannot for the life of you control. You have tried, under your own power. You simply cannot stop.

It started innocently. You got drunk, or high – maybe a little accidentally. Certainly, it was harmless. Over time, you needed to get just a little drunker or higher to achieve the same result – feeling okay in your own skin. So you start to drink a little more, to get a little higher.

But one day, you start to need the substance or activity more than you really want it.  You begin to dread coming down from it.

Who wants to come down from something? All of the great clichés espouse the glory of high

Ain’t no mountain high enough.

High achiever.

Soaring to great…

View original post 700 more words