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We continue to be humbled by the response to our first book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads! It has remained on the Upper Room Books top ten books list for most of the past year since publication. We have been so blessed by all the stories of you who have read the book, used it as a Bible study, made prayer beads, developed a deeper connection with God, etc. So great!

We’ve also heard many of you asking for a follow-up book, and so I’m thrilled to share with you that book #2 will be here before we know it! Another Bead, Another Prayer: Devotions to Use with Protestant Prayer Beads will also be published by Upper Room Books and should be available January 2015. I am particularly excited about it because I co-wrote it with my husband, Max Vincent!

You’re the first to see a preview of the new cover!

Cover design for Another Bead, Another Prayer

As you can tell by the subtitle, the book is a collection of devotions designed for use with Protestant prayer beads. It includes four sections: praise, confession, intercession, and thanksgiving, with seven devotions per section (you know I love the number seven!). Each devotion contains a full devotion – including prompts for each set of week beads, as well as a listening meditation. The listening meditation is one simple phrase that can be said repeatedly with each bead to help you listen for God’s voice.

We will keep you posted as it progresses through the editing and publication process! Meanwhile, we covet your prayers for us and all who are involved in its production!

I have always loved children’s books. Indeed, my fantasy job is to own a children’s book store (I could be Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail!”). I love the illustrations, the stories, the messages. I have kept many of the books my son has long since outgrown (according to him). I especially love anything by Doreen Cronin or Eric Carle.

That’s why I’m so excited to share this resource with you, created by Hanna Schock. I got to know Hanna as we both went through the two-year Academy for Spiritual Formation. During that time I learned that Hanna shares my love for picture books. And using her experience as a teacher, curriculum designer, and school psychologist, Hanna has developed an amazing new ministry resource called “Picture Book Theology.” She takes “secular” picture books – those books that aren’t written specifically to have a theological message – and identifies ways they can be used to help communicate theological concepts such as forgiveness, hospitality, grace, etc. How cool is that?!?

With her blog she has made a commitment to post 1 review of a picture book every day for an entire year. That’s 365 books! With each post she provides a short summary of the book, then offers her thoughts for how the book can be used to teach theological concepts in Sunday School classes, VBS, children’s church, and other opportunities for ministry. Each review includes at least one Scripture connection as well as ideas for how to apply the book’s message.

Today is Hanna’s 100th post, and it happens to feature a book that has connections with prayer beads! The Memory String is a book about a young girl who is struggling to accept her new stepmother. She has a string of heirloom buttons that she holds tight to remember her mother (who has died) and other happier times. In her review, Hanna talks about how the book can help children think about using prayer beads to help them in times of grief, loneliness, etc.

Hanna has found several other books that have connections with prayer beads. As a result, I have invited her to write a guest blog post for us, which I’ll post in the next week or two. In the meantime, I invite you to check out her blog, subscribe to it, and see all the wonderful books she has reviewed!

I’m happy to report that I’m doing well following my concussion. There doesn’t seem to be any residual cognitive damage. My primary symptoms were fatigue, headaches, and times when I had to search for words, etc., but all of that seems to be gone. I’m so thankful for the many prayers, cards, and messages of support. I really appreciate this wonderful community of grace that has come together over the years!

So let’s get back to the business of prayer and prayer beads! It has been too long!

This week I have watched (via Facebook) as one of my colleagues traveled to China with her husband to adopt their son, Eli. Both Kara and her husband, Adam, have a disability called OI (osteogenesis imperfecta), a type of dwarfism also known as “brittle bone disease.” Although they have a biological daughter, Hannah, who does not have a disability, Kara and Adam really wanted to adopt a child with a disability. According to their blog, they did this knowing that a) there are many children with disabilities who are available for adoption around the world and b) the disability community can provide many opportunities for children, whether biological or adopted. Eli, who is seven, has achondroplasia, another form of dwarfism.

I have never met Kara and Adam (Kara and I have spoken via conference call for various meetings). Still, I have been so taken with their story. Every morning I look forward to seeing new photos and reading updates on their journey. It has been wonderful to celebrate their journey to China this week and see how they have begun to bond with their son, who is clearly delightful.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that my husband and I were planning to adopt a child at one point in our lives, soon after I was told I could not get pregnant. Our plans soon fell by the wayside, however, when I learned I was pregnant. To this day, I think about what it would be like to adopt. I know there are so many children in the world who need to know the love of a family. Adoption offers such an incredible opportunity to live out God’s hesed (deep love)!

So as I celebrate Kara, Adam, and Hannah’s union with Eli, I want to use today’s devotion to lift up those children in our world who need signs of God’s love through family.

Cross: Father of us all,

Resurrection Bead: you sent your Son into the world

First Cruciform Bead: to adopt us all into your Family of Grace, so that we might know your deep love for us.

First set of Week Beads: offer praise and thanks to God for loving us as God’s children.

Second Cruciform Bead: Hear us as we lift up the children throughout the world who do not have families because of war, violence, geography, racism, disability (ableism), poverty, and family dysfunction; as we pray that they will know your deep love for them through adoption.

Second set of Week Beads: pray for the children throughout the world who do not have a family to love and nurture them.

Third Cruciform Bead: We pray for those who seek to adopt a child, that you will guide them through the discernment process, as well as through the difficult, lengthy, and costly adoption process, so that they may know your Peace.

Third set of Week Beads: pray for those people throughout the world who are going through the adoption process.

Fourth Cruciform Bead: Help us to know how we can support children and families throughout the world – and in our communities – who are going through the adoption process, whether through prayer, public policy, funding, offers to feed/babysit/clean/advocate, etc.

Fourth set of Week Beads: listen for ways in which you might be able to help more children become adopted.

Resurrection Bead: In the name of your Son, Jesus, by whose example we welcome the little children,

Cross: Amen

Read this to learn more about the Ayers family.

This is a great post about the need to advocate for children who don’t have families.

Check out this post to learn how you can help without adopting.

Here is basic info about adoption.

I hit my head. That’s the short story.

The longer story is that my family and I spent the day tubing down a river in North Georgia. Once we were done we decided to continue the fun at a local water park. It was a small park with only two slides. My son and I rode down the first one, which was open. The second one was an enclosed tube, slightly taller than the first slide. My son was hesitant to ride it, so I offered to go first. I will forever be grateful that I did this. Going down, I smacked my head against the interior wall of the slide.

After getting off the slide I walked over to meet my family. I told them I had hit my head and that it hurt, but otherwise I didn’t think much about it. Soon after, though, I began to have these strange visions and thoughts. This was followed by waves of nausea. Having worked in the field of traumatic brain injury for many years, I understood these were signs of a concussion. However, I wanted to wait a little longer to see if the symptoms would subside or not. Thirty minutes later we were ordering lunch in a restaurant when I passed out in front of the cashier. Although I came to immediately, it was pretty clear that I was not okay. An ambulance ride and a cat scan later and I was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

The prescription for a concussion is rest, and lots of it. That’s what I have been doing. Recovery also means “cognitive rest,” which means trying not to use your brain much. Electronics (i.e. this computer) are especially problematic. This is the harder part of the recovery process. Still, I am doing well and continue to get stronger each day. I will continue to keep you posted on my progress, though with fewer posts. In the meantime, I appreciate your prayers.

Grace and peace, Kristen

We did it! Thanks to your support and votes the Christian Small Publishers Association has named my book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads, their 2014 Book of the Year in the Christian Living category. How cool is that?!?

A Bead and A PrayerAward_Seal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am deeply humbled by this honor and so appreciative of your encouragement and response to the book. I’m also thrilled because I know this award will help even more people learn about prayer beads and how they can enrich their prayer lives.

Kudos to Upper Room Books. This award honors their hard work, vision, and gorgeous publication as well.

Glory to God!

A Bead and A PrayerFor those of you who haven’t heard, my book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads, published by Upper Room Books, has been nominated by the Christian Small Publishers Association in the Nonfiction/Christian Living category. How cool is that?!? I am so humbled and amazed by this.

The winner is chosen by the public, which means you can cast your vote by clicking here. The deadline for voting is March 31st. You can only vote once, but you don’t have to cast a vote in every category; you can vote in just one category if you prefer.

The winners will be announced some time in April. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for your continued encouragement and support!

The following is a reprint of a devotion I posted a few years ago:

Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent.  I always love this time of year.  Well, I love it and dread it.

I love it because I recognize that it is a wonderful opportunity to focus on being disciplined – a disciple – for Christ.  To take inventory of my life and do some housecleaning: out with the old and ineffective ways of being – those things that are preventing me from being in right relationship with God; in with the new and more intentional ways of being a Christ-ian.

I dread it because it is not something that happens easily or comes naturally.  My natural tendency is to schlep away the hours watching reality t.v., eating chocolate and spending too much time on Facebook.  Lent challenges me to be aware of those natural tendencies that are keeping me from God, to confess them, and then to practice being disciplined.  In doing so, I develop a greater awareness of God’s grace in my life and the ways in which He is calling me to follow him, even to Jerusalem and Golgotha, and to the joyful Easter resurrection that follows.

This week’s prayer bead devotion is focused on that Lenten journey.  It begins with confession so that we can understand where we are currently and identify those areas in our life that are keeping us from being fully present with God.  It then gives us the opportunity to listen for what God is saying to us – the ways in which He is calling us into a greater relationship with Him, and then to name those disciplines we can take on and practice during Lent.  Finally, it reminds us to ask for God’s help, for it is only by His grace that we can take up the cross and follow Him.

Cross: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Invitatory Bead: “After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’  And he got up, left everything, and followed him.”  (Luke 5:27 – 28, NRSV)

1st Cruciform Bead: Lord, forgive me for my sins that keep me from being your true disciple.

1st set of Week Beads: use each bead to confess your sins.

2nd Cruciform Bead: Lord, help me to listen for your call.

2nd set of Week Beads: use each bead to listen to the ways in which God is calling you to discipleship.

3rd Cruciform Bead: Lord, I commit to practicing the following disciplines during this season of Lent.

3rd set of Week Beads: use each bead to consider the discipline(s) you will practice during Lent.  Don’t feel pressured to come up with seven different disciplines – one for each bead.  Instead, you can use the beads to think about the ways you will practice even one or two disciplines.

4th Cruciform Bead: Lord, grant me the courage and grace to be your disciple and, in doing so, to know you more deeply.

4th set of Week Beads: use each bead to pray for courage and grace throughout this Lenten season.

Invitatory Bead: recite The Lord’s Prayer

Cross: In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen

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