Church Blog

Praying Prayers of Lament

In 2003, Bob and I found ourselves relocating.  We were leaving our children, grandchildren, and the home we had lived in for over 28 years to move to Atascadero.  For reasons I won’t bore you with, it was not a choice we ever thought we would make –  or ever wanted to make.  I knew NOTHING about Atascadero.  We moved because that’s where the job was – not because we took a quiz on the 100 best cities in America to relocate.  All I knew at the time was that Atascadero was home to the, then, “largest hospital for mentally disordered sex offenders in the US.”  <insert confetti and balloon emojis>

For the weeks prior to the move, I prayed fervently to God asking why and pleading for intervention.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  My prayers seemed to go as high as the ceiling before drifting to the ground.  I didn’t have a spiritual crisis.  I didn’t lose faith.  We moved, and I decided to stop complaining to God and “be happy”  – trusting that there was a reason for the move, despite the fact that God didn’t seem to be listening.

Maybe you’ve had an experience like this.  Maybe there have been, or are, times that when you don’t feel like God is listening. In the opening verses of Psalm 10, the psalmist asks God why he is standing far away – apparently unengaged.  Then he asks, “Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”  So now not only was God standing far off, but He just stepped out of view entirely.

Fast forward to March 2020 and Covid.  I joined an all-staff Zoom meeting for Amor Ministries, the organization where I’d served for 30+ years.  The news was not good.  The border was shut down and the groups that had scheduled for spring trips to build homes were cancelling. Families who had looked forward to receiving homes wouldn’t be getting one – and whether we could survive as an organization if restrictions continued was (and still is)  in question.  Gayla, one of the founders of Amor, suggested we lament.  She offered a short article to read and suggested we consider writing our own lament.

I read the article and read a couple of laments and talked to Bob about laments – which sounded a lot like whining to me. He pointed me to a podcast about Lament….and that was a game changer.  Not only did God expect us to complain, He even provided us with a language to use for just such a time.  And this is the time! Issues like Covid, faltering small miinistries like Amor, racial issues, rampant abortion, “new” morality (or old paganism) provide lots of opportunities to lament – “A prayer in pain that leads to trust.”  Lament has a direction – It provides a way to complain to God that leads to a deeper trust in God. I’m looking forward to sharing more about Laments at our Women’s Conference.

Oh, and the move to Atascadero?  Among the most wonderful years of our lives.  A beautiful community, an unbelievable church, great friends…..I could go on and on.  Yes! God had a plan – and a great part of that plan was the 14 years at SMCC growing in theology and understanding – thank you, Robert!

As a PS, we moved back to SoCal in August of 2019 to be nearer to our family, and it turned out to be the right decision at exactly the right time.  Besides being close to and involved with the lives of our kids and grandkids, we benefited from their loving care during the worst of the pandemic. We also enjoy being involved with a growing group of friends at our new church – Northpoint Community in Corona.  (Ask the Campbells and the Powers about that!)

Seasons of Prayer

Matt and I moved to Santa Margarita in December of 1986 from San Luis Obispo. At that time we had two children, Ben and Michelle. We were attending Grace church in SLO. We felt well connected there and the children were comfortable in their Sunday school nursery.

In the spring of 1990, we welcomed Sophia into our family and it became very clear, very quickly, that getting three little ones up on Sunday morning and over the grade to church was going to be quite the challenge. I can’t remember how many times we attempted to get to church in SLO but I don’t think it was many.

We needed a church closer to home. In usual Andros fashion, we simply walked around the corner to check out “that church on “I” Street”.  We didn’t do any research, just walked around the corner. We heard a pastoral candidate, Paul Schliep, preach and enjoyed the sermon.  We were greeted and welcomed by people whom we still know and love today; Dave and Leslie Bryson, Steve and Janine Wagner, Steve and Jean Collins and Dave and Debbie Redel.  No, it was not missed on us that all the men were either Dave or Steve!

Paul was hired as preacher and we began to make SMCC our new church home. As I got to know the other ladies in the congregation, four women stood out to me.  They were older saints (actually they were my current age but seemed old at the time) and were, to me, the church matriarchs.  They were Hazel Hunter, Edie Culbreath, Katharina Bybee and Evie Brown.

These were the kind of ladies who always made a point of checking up on you.  They would ask about Matt, ask about the children, ask how I was doing. They weren’t just “church ladies”.  They were seasoned believers who each had a life of substance. Individually, they had each lived a life of faith and had met many challenges along the way.  All of them but Edie were widows. In other words, they knew what they were about.

Turns out, one of the biggest things “they were about” was praying for their church family.  I’ll never forget when the light finally clicked on in my brain. These women weren’t just making small talk when they asked how our family was, they were learning about us and finding out what our needs were.

What really blew me away was when they’d check back in with me a few weeks later and ask very specific questions about a child who had been sick or how Matt’s job was going.  Could it be that they were ACTUALLY praying for us?  Well, turns out they were.  Shoot, Edie, and her husband Charles, were praying through our church directory!

All I remember thinking was “how in the world do they find the time to actually pray for all of us”? Through the years I watched those lovely woman pray for us and love us. They have all passed on to glory now but they left me a big gift…I wanted to be just like them when it came to prayer.  It wouldn’t happen right away.  I needed to be a bit more seasoned.

Well, now I’m one of those older saints and considerably more “seasoned”.  I now have a set time for my prayers and a list of all the people I’ve promised to pray for. It’s hard to describe but my morning prayer time is all about praying for others but I am the one who is fed. Finally reaching a time in my life when this kind of commitment to prayer is possible has grown my faith like never before.

When I look back over the years, I ask myself why I couldn’t get my act together enough to be this kind of prayer warrior years ago? Why did this kind of mature prayer life just now become a part of my life? I wish I could say I don’t know why, but I do. My life has had “seasons” and most of those “seasons” did not lend themselves to quiet mornings with my bible and prayer journal by a sunny window.

When we gather together at our women’s conference, we are going to be talking about prayer.  We are going to explore the idea that there are “seasons” in life and our prayer life might reflect that. I do know some friends who have been champion prayer partners, no matter what was going on in their lives, and they have always inspired me.

I hope, as we talk and share, that we can encourage each other to a fuller and more meaningful life of prayer. I also hope we can give ourselves some grace as we learn that there might be times when prayers are said on the go and squeezed in just before falling exhausted into bed. There are even times when we are so sad or discouraged that our dear faithful friends say our prayers for us.

I’m looking forward to our time together. My sincere desire is that what we learn together will inspire and not overwhelm. I hope we will be encouraged but not overcome with guilt. We want to lead each other to a closer walk with Jesus no matter what season we find ourselves in.