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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

Happy Epiphany! I hope your Christmas season was filled with the joy and wonder of the birth of the Christ child!

This week’s devotion is one I wrote a few years ago. It is also included in the appendix of my book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads. I offer it here again because I think the season of Epiphany is a mystery to so many of us. Sure, we know it is about the journey of the Wise Men, but so what?!? What does that mean for our relationship with God? This devotion is designed to help us think about its meaning, particularly, how the wise men offer an example of worship of the newborn King.

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

Invitatory Bead: “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10 – 11, NIV)

Resurrection Bead (optional): Christ is born!

1st Cruciform Bead: Lord, you called the Magi to you, sending them a star to guide them to Bethlehem.  Help us to recognize the ways in which you call us to a relationship with you.

1st set of Week Beads: use each bead to listen for, recognize, and consider the many ways in which God calls you to a relationship with Him.

2nd Cruciform Bead: Lord, the Magi obediently and gladly followed your star to Bethlehem, fulfilling your plan for them.

2nd set of Week Beads: use each bead to consider the ways in which you can joyfully and obediently follow God’s will for you.

3rd Cruciform Bead: Lord, upon seeing your son, Jesus, the Magi fell down fell to their knees to worship him.

3rd set of Week Beads: use each bead to offer your praise and worship to God.

4th Cruciform Bead: Lord, having worshipped you, the Magi freely and joyfully offered their gifts to your son, in response to your own gift of love to the world.

4th set of Week Beads: use each bead to consider the gifts that you have to give as an offering to God, in thanks for His gift of love for you.

Resurrection Bead: Christ is born! Alleluia!

Invitatory Bead: recite The Lord’s Prayer

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

Happy new year! I pray you are experiencing God’s blessings this Christmas season and have had a wonderful first day of 2014.

The year 2013 was transformative for me in so many ways. It began exactly one year ago today. As many of you know, I had written the Prayer Workshop on prayer beads for the January/February 2013 edition of The Upper Room. It was the first time that anything about prayer beads had been included in The Upper Room, and we were all curious – and a little nervous – to see the response. I remember sitting in a hotel room in San Antonio, Texas with my husband and son on January 1, 2013. Together, we watched the stats page on this blog as the number of “hits” skyrocketed over a matter of hours. Little did we know how accurately that moment would capture the spirit of 2013 for us.

In 2013 we:

  • went from 15,000 hits to 150,000 hits to our blog;
  • witnessed an avalanche of orders for prayer beads from our Etsy shop;
  • tried desperately to keep up with the phone calls, letters, emails, blog comments, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. from people who wanted to learn more about prayer beads for Protestants;
  • failed to keep up with all the phone calls, letters, emails, blog comments, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. (please keep trying!)
  • hired three high-school students to help us in the Studio, in addition to putting various family members to work;
  • worked with Upper Room Books to publish our first book, A Bead and a Prayer: A Beginner’s Guide to Protestant Prayer Beads;
  • received the extremely gracious response to the release of our book;
  • fielded many requests for retreats and workshops;
  • celebrated the news that Upper Room Books wants us to write a second book on prayer beads;
  • made plans for me to be able to spend more time in the Studio for 2014; and
  • (best of all!) joyously received countless testimonies from you about how the prayer beads have helped you connect or reconnect with God, return to the church, find peace, experience healing, pray with your families, etc.

As if this was not wonderful enough, 2013 was also the year in which I experienced God’s true healing from a childhood trauma. It was an answer to a long-held prayer, and the result of God’s work through The Academy for Spiritual Formation, my spiritual director, my therapist, my family and friends, and yes, the prayer beads. As a result, I am finally able to live from a place of peace, rather than from a place of fear. It is all I ever wanted. And so much more!

Thus, it is with great joy, hope, and peace that I enter into 2014. I am looking forward to seeing how God continues to guide all of us in this journey of beads and prayer. I hold you up in my prayers. May you be blessed . . .

Kristen

A baby has been born in the City of David. The angels of called us to come and adore him. He is worthy of adoration because this tiny, vulnerable baby is God in human form. He is Emmanuel – God with us. He is God’s greatest expression of love for us, the sure sign that God wants to save us and be in a relationship with us.

So come, let us adore him, and experience the gift of peace.

Cross: God of Christmas,

Invitatory Bead: thank you for loving us so much,

Resurrection Bead: that you would send your son Jesus to live among us.

With each bead: take time to thank God; to sit quietly in the stable with Mary and Joseph and gaze lovingly at Jesus; to listen to the choir of angels proclaiming his glory; to consider how much God loves you; to accept this gift of peace and think about what it means for your life. Sit for as you long as you can or as long as you need to to experience this true gift of Christmas.

Peace,

Kristen

Yesterday was the anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. I remember vividly the desperate pain, the absolute devastation of that day. I know everyone does. There is no way to forget the images and stories from that day.

The other thing I remember is writing the Advent prayer bead devotion that weekend following the shooting. I commented on how poignant it was that the tragedy had occurred during the season of Advent. This is a time like no other when we are called to be aware: to see the darkness, to feel the pain, to hear the cries of a world covered in sin. Why? So that we can understand how sin has damaged our world and how much we need a Savior. Watching media coverage of Sandy Hook, there was no denying how much we need God’s grace.

The words of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” capture this well:

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile, here until the Son of God appear.

Like the Israelites during the exile from their homeland, we are distanced from God’s image for us and Creation. We are experiencing loneliness, grief, and pain. And we yearn for God to come down to earth to be among us, to share our experience, and to save us.

So let us take up our beads and feel the darkness of our world and pray for the coming of Emmanuel – God with us.

Cross: Gracious God,

Invitatory Bead: open my eyes and my ears,

Resurrection Bead (optional): so that I may understand the need for your son, Jesus Christ.

Cruciform Beads: O come, O come, Emmanuel,

Week Beads: name the pain that you see and hear in your own life, in the life of those around you, in your community, and in our world.

Resurrection Bead: Come, Lord Jesus,

Invitatory Bead: come and save us.

Cross: Amen

Cyber Monday Sale!

We’re celebrating Cyber Monday at Prayerworks Studio! Save 25% on your entire order. Enter code CYBER2013 at checkout.

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