By Patti Ann Ridgway
My most challenging endeavor in life was raising 5 children in a home where survival quickly took precedent over my spirituality. At 33 I unexpectedly gave birth to identical twin boys. I bravely brought them home to my 3 beautiful children who were 3, 4 and 5 at the time. Life became a whirlwind of work, and worry, schedules and shifts. The threads of my sanity were wearing thin, and I am sad to say that my faith sank as quickly as I did. I found myself swimming upstream; only there was no water.
How this happened I am not really sure because it was at 13 that I truly came to know my God. But somewhere between the cracks of chaos, and calamities, I lost the keys to my spiritual connection. I lost my way, my life and my purpose. My health, which I truly believe is reflection of all that is good in our lives, was suffering. My children were gifts and I was not opening those precious packages. One of the curious consequences of losing something is that we always feel the loss and I am sure that was part of my maker’s primal plan.
I found myself looking for a lifeline. And I began to pray, one of my favorite Bible verses says (1 Thess. 5:17): Pray unceasingly [NASB], pray continually [NIV], pray all the time [Message], pray perseveringly [Amplified]…and my favorite: never stop praying [Contemporary English Version.] It was in praying that I was able to feel connected, become faith full and find my health again. This enabled me to breathe these things back into my broken family. I became confident that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)[ESV]
I remembered Thelma Clark’s words and they resonated with me: “Turn your thoughts into prayers.” I knew that I never stopped thinking about my children. So my daily duties became my prayers. And I leaned on the life lessons I learned as a child. I turned to the teaching of my parents, my fundamentals:
Everyone is created equal
Trust in God
Believe in the Bible
Tell the truth
Treat people with respect
I found as I prayed and practiced these fundamentals, I was weaving a safety net for me and my children. I began to patch those threads that were once tattered and torn. With every step I took, the light shone just a little further and I became more willing to walk. My faithfulness was flourishing as I moved through the trials and tests in my life. These fundamentals became my armor, my shield, protecting me from the fear that would find me when I would sometimes fall. I laid the foundation for a road that led me on my journey back to a spiritual life, to my God, through which all things were possible. And with every twist and turn my thoughts continued to be my prayers and my tests became my testimonies.
And as the voice of truth grew louder, always lingering in my ear, it drowned out the din of despair. All things beautiful began to appear, as if a new higher way was built right through the detours in my life.
And now, I am at a place on my journey, where my daily duties don’t revolve around my children anymore. I live the peacefulness those prayers afforded me and I am truly grateful. My thoughts continue to be my prayers for what has been in my life and the life that lies before me, for my children and for my children’s children. I find myself purposefully planting these fundamentals onto the roads my children walk, as they become parents. For I am confident they too will lose themselves on a road they may or may not choose to travel. It won’t be the same journey as mine, but surely they will venture down a path that doesn’t serve their soul, or their purpose. And once again, I feel this will be part of His primal plan for their lives. For none of us escape the winding ways of life’s lessons.
And as I travel into yet another uncharted course in my life, the birth of my first grandchild, I am grateful for the healing power of prayer. My thoughts of our life’s lessons, overflowing to future generations brings me peace and pride. I pray our fundamentals forever form that safety net for our family who follow in our footsteps. I have no doubt that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 was my lifeline; the lifeline that truly was my spiritual salvation. It healed me and brought me back to all that is good in life, the gifts that are always present and the blessings that will continue to come. This very verse has taken me through a lifetime, a lifetime of parenting and now, grand parenting. So never stop praying, for God hears and heals, when mothers pray.