This concrete visual reminder has had an incredible impact on our lives. My Uncle Fred was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and fought it for almost five years. He and his family lived in Australia (along with the rest of my Dad's side) and my boys haven't made the trek down under yet. Although my oldest had never met my Uncle Fred, because his picture was on the prayer board he became a very real person to my son. My son constantly reminded us to pray for him. He even reminded my Dad to pray for him at the large family Thanksgiving dinner. Month after month my son prayed so earnestly for my uncle, that it often brought me to tears.
When my uncle did pass away a few months ago, it was easier to tackle questions about heaven because we had been praying for my uncle for so long. Just to share the true impact the prayer board had on my son, during a discussion about my uncle, my son paused and said "Now that Uncle Fred is in heaven someone should name a baby after him." I agreed and smiled to myself because my uncle was actually Greek and had three boys. There is the possibility that he will have three first born grandsons named after him. After his passing we also learned that Fred is actually his Aussie nickname. The prayer board made it possible for my son to really get to know and care for someone that he had never met who lived thousands of miles away.
This visual reminder helped keep our Christmas intentions at the forefront of our minds too. I would like to think it kept some of our wants and "gimmes" at bay as a result.
This board has been helpful to me as well. I included a spot where I can write down all of our intentions. I try to change the board each month which also gives me a chance to reflect on which intentions will be repeated and which prayers have found their answers. I always ask the boys what we should which keeps me tuned into what is on their spiritual radar. Since it is on the wall in the kitchen we always have a visual grace at hand for each meal.
I made the prayer board using a cookie sheet, some decorative clips (any office supply clips would work), and ribbon. I change up the paper background, pictures, ribbon and magnets depending on the season or month and our intentions. You could definitely paint the cooksheet to spice it up. I know that Hallmark sells fancy metal boards that you could use but I opted for a cheaper route. I do love the seasonal magnets they sell though!
So what is on the prayer board this month?
I volunteered this past Saturday evening for a couple hours when our church hosted the SOS Homeless Shelter and the experience continues to weigh heavily on my heart. I spent some time playing with a four year old brother and three year old sister. They were beautiful children with wonderful vocabularies and boatloads of energy. My heart broke for their mother who was growing more and more agitated when it was ten thirty at night and she still couldn't settle them down and get them to sleep. I couldn't help but imagine myself in the same situation. How frustrated I would be with people cleaning out the adjacent tarped section of the family room or the eleven year old that kept turning on the bright overhead florescent lights. So many things were out of her control and directly impacting her children's lives.
There were also two pregnant women that made my heart ache, knowing how the nesting instinct would be kicking in yet they are in such a hopeless place for nesting. How can you raise your child without a home?
It is also true that there would be no way to tell that the assembled group of people were homeless. They looked exactly like anyone else. How close we are to being in their shoes is something I often forget. The group was largely women and children too. I had a brief discussion with one gentleman about how different our church may seem to people but why I love it. I learned that four of the volunteers I met worked every night of the week and the directors actually take the week off of work in order to run the program for the week! I was humbled beyond belief by everyone I encountered. The man I had the discussion with also chided me for showing up on the last night and told me to work again in January. One volunteer even used the expression "break yourself open and pour yourself out." God was at work that evening. I pray that he continues to work on me and more importantly that he can help the people I had the privilege to meet. I pray their housing and work situations improve drastically. They will stay on the board and in our hearts along with our other intentions.
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