Tag Archives: belief

The February Prayer Project – Mottos and More

22 Feb

More than Mothers writer Lisa chronicles her thought-provoking experiment in faith and friendship in “The February Prayer Project.”  Here is the final part of her story.  Click here for Part Three.

During the course of The February Prayer Project—last year’s month-long spiritual challenge among Lori, Jen and myself—I interviewed my fellow MTM moms each Monday. I’d ask each about how they’d done on their week’s worth of prayer and meditation. Then I’d launch into a series of Proust-style questions, which gave me such fun and fascinating insights into my two dear friends. What’s your biggest regret? On what occasions do you lie? The moment you felt like an adult?

Among the most intriguing question turned out to be “What’s your motto? Lori, the born-leader in our girl gang, rattled off, “People over things” with the practiced efficiency of a military commander. Of course Lori would have a motto! (It wouldn’t have surprised me if she had a coat-of-arms, too.)

Jen’s answer held every bit as much interest:  She didn’t have a motto. Our high-achiever seemed downright flustered that she hadn’t ever considered the question before! In typical Jen fashion, she said she’d get on it right away. I know she devoted serious mental energy to the task. That’s Jen.

I’ve had plenty of slogans/mottos/catchphrases over the years. In high school, it was “prior planning prevents problems.” My group of gumbas in college would all say, “I suffer more than most,” a perfect reflection of our wry humor at the time; we’d start guffawing at the word “suffer.” As a mother, my motto morphed into, “Do what you need to do.” If Paige had a bad night, I’d sit up with her. (Now that was suffering!) If Chip had a tough day, I’d cancel evening plans without a twinge of remorse. I was doing what I needed to do.

During the February Prayer Project, I landed on the best motto of the bunch:

Believing is seeing.

I have always believed in God, usually believed in Christ, never quite understood the Holy Spirit but believed in him, too. I believe in lots more. The power of saying, “thank you.” That a great tailor can transform an inexpensive blouse into couture. A great novel is better than a vacation. The Mets will blow a lead in the 9th inning when their games are televised in Texas (my husband swears this is the case, too).

In soulful matters, “believing is seeing” makes my life so much richer. I actively look for the hand of God and have faith in His mysteries—that I may not understand His plans vis-à-vis my current situation, but He does have a plan for me. I no longer believe in coincidence, either. An old friend I dreamed about earlier in the week calls out of the blue. (Believe it!) A writing assignment I hadn’t wanted to take yields some great insight or contact. (Believe it!) My special-needs daughter’s disastrous 7th-grade year propels us into a new school situation—and it’s the best yet. (Believe it!)

I used to envy anyone who said, “faith sustains me.” For most of my life, my faith simmered in the background. No more. I have the zeal of a convert.

I believe.

And I see.

The February Prayer Project – The Dreaded “N-” Word

15 Feb

More than Mothers writer Lisa chronicles her thought-provoking experiment in faith and friendship in “The February Prayer Project.”  Here is Part Three of her four-part story.  Click here for Part Two.

One notion haunted me the first weeks of the February Prayer Project, wherein I challenged Jen, Lori and myself to pray for a whole month to see if it mattered.

What if God was telling me, “no”?

I’d heard the dreaded “n-” in the past. And it hurts. Bad.

My daughter, Paige, was diagnosed with autism in the spring of 2000. Both my husband and I knew she had serious developmental delays. Paige made plenty of sounds but very few words. She made eye contact but couldn’t sustain it like a glancing blow. She rarely looked up when you called her name.

For months, I’d prayed—down on my knees, tears in my eyes—for God to fix whatever was wrong. After all, He’d parted the Red Sea for Moses, sent manna from heaven for the Israelites. Through His son, He’d given sight to the blind and brought Lazarus back from the dead. Couldn’t He—shouldn’t He—intervene on behalf of an innocent little girl?

If He did, I couldn’t see it. In April 2000, a pediatric neurologist with the bedside manner of a third-world despot informed us: a) Paige had autism; b) there was no cure; c) we should start saving now for institutionalized care.

A decade later, those wounds can still feel raw. And in February 2011, as my dearest friends were praying during a project I’d dreamed up, I kept mulling this singular, terrifying idea:

What if God says no?

Like a good parent, He could have plenty of reasons to deny a request. The heroin addict who begs the Almighty to win the lottery? You can see how a huge infusion of cash could lead to the winner’s demise. The freshman who didn’t study for her geometry exam? Giving her an easy A could set a bad precedent, ultimately hindering her growth.

But Paige?

All that’s to say I was gun-shy about asking God for much of anything. I didn’t think He’d ignored me where Paige was concerned. I thought he said, “Sorry, sister,” which somehow felt worse.

But in February 2010, I began seeing a bit more nuance in my daughter’s disability. How God has provided everything she truly needs—great teachers, skilled therapists, compassionate sitters, savvy doctors (minus the aforementioned neurologist, whom we never saw again). God has also used her situation to shape who I am. I listen better because when you have a child with such significant communication problems, you develop a keen ear. I have used her situation to vet my friends, too. If Paige makes them uncomfortable (or if that’s what I perceive), I’m far less interested in the relationship. She and I, in effect, are a package deal. Over the past decade, anytime I have asked God for strength or guidance in solving a Paige-related problem, He has shown me the way.

To that end, I began to feel gratitude for the gifts her autism has given me.

Sometimes a “no” turns out alright in the end.

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