Prayers for a Sick Child

by Lauren Matthies


The past two days have been some of the scariest, if not the scariest of my life.  My baby boy has started having febrile seizures and we've spent the last two nights on the phone with 911, in ambulances, and at the hospital.  I've been on the verge of panic attacks, feeling triggered by circumstances that proceeded his seizures, and we've been tested as a family.  At the same time I realize how lucky I am.  I know that many families have drawn a much worse lot in life.  Many children who enter the hospital have far worse prognosis and outcomes.  Yet, as a parent even a mild cold can make you question why you decided to become a parent when loving someone so much makes you so vulnerable.

After the first night I prayed for Henry not to have another seizure.  I hoped with all my being that he would be in the majority of children who do not have repeat episodes.  Last night I realized that that prayer wouldn't be answered.  For a moment I thought "so much for praying," thinking "little help that did;" but, then I realized what I needed the most was to pray for something else.

As I fell asleep, I prayed for:

Awareness. That I might know when something is happening with him.

Wisdom. That I make the best decisions to keep him safe.

Calm. That I am able to remain calm and react without anxiety.

Faith. That I trust in his body, our response, our doctors, the medicine, and his ability to overcome.

Peace. That I might find peace with what is happening and be able to live without constant fear.

Hope. That I believe he will be okay and trust in the process.

Health. That we might be healthy and well and face no complications or other serious illness or injuries in the future.

Sometimes we don't have the answers and we must have hope.  As scary as the unknown is, we can only live in the moment.  As much as I want to hover over my baby boy I can't protect him from everything, nor will it prevent him from harm.  I must live and I must let him live, trusting that we will all be okay.
 


Oh You of Little Faith

by Lauren Matthies


I struggle with my faith.  Growing up I didn't question anything and I hated anytime that doubt seeped in.  As I've aged, I feel the doubt increase and I hate it.  I long for the days when I blindly followed.  Yet, I realize that blindly following is not faith, or at least not strong faith.  Faith is believing when it's not easy.  Faith is trusting.  Faith is hoping.

I remember hearing a sermon one time about how doubt was a sign of faith.  I wish I could remember all the details of it, and I may find it in notes I once took if I look.  I imagine the gist of it is that faith does not require certainty.  There is room for doubt because it's real and it's honest.  It's vulnerable.  It shows trust in God to be open about the fact that I have questions and fears.

I also find that guilt seeps into my religious life very often.  I loved going to church growing up and through college.  After college I struggled with finding a church I loved and, thus, going to church became a chore.  Even now, although I love what our church stands for, I find more joy in spending Sunday mornings at home with my family.  It gives me incredible guilt.  I feel like I need to go to church.  But, why?  I don't think that God's goal is to be someone that inspires guilt.  I think he would much rather inspire love, giving, kindness, goodness, joy, selflessness, action, and so many other values well before guilt.

Can I be a person of faith and not go to church?  I say yes.  Can I question and doubt and still have hope and pray to God?  Yes.  

After all, Jesus met with the least of these.  He met with those who needed him most.  I hope he would want to walk and talk with me.

I don't know the purpose of my post, but I was inspired when I noticed my first post in this section.  I wrote a prayer for my childbirth and delivery the day before my son was born.  I don't think the timing was coincidental.  So, even though I may have questions, fears, or doubts, I can take comfort in the fact that I believe there is a God who cares for me and I believe there is purpose in our lives.  I have faith and hope and I trust.  My fears and doubts will always probably always be present, but maybe moments like these when I feel a surge of faith, God is saying to me, "Oh you of little faith, why are you so afraid?" and then calming the storms of my heart.


Prayer for Year Two

by Lauren Matthies


One prayer I often use is praying for God to take the prayer from my heart.  I know he knows my deepest desires, needs, and wishes even more than I do.  I know there will be things I forget when I pray so I ask that he listens to my heart.  There is so much I want to pray for Henry.  More than I ever could.  But, here is my brief prayer for my baby as he enters the world of toddlerhood.

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Dear Lord,

Please watch over my son during his second year of life.  Please help me to be the mommy that he needs.  Please help him to grow strong and smart.  Let him be healthy and happy.  Watch over us and be with us every day.  Guide me as his mom.  Give me patience and wisdom.  Help me to trust myself and fill me with everything I need to raise him into the man he is meant to be.  Help be be firm when I need to be and gentle when the time is right.  Help me to be a good wife to Derek and help our family grow closer and stronger every day.

Thank you so much for all the blessings of this past year.  Thank you for Henry's health and well-being.  Thank you for allowing me to be a mother.  Thank you for guiding and supporting me.  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to grow into a better and stronger woman.

Please help me to cherish every moment because I know these days will pass all too quickly.

In your name I pray,

Amen.


Prayer for Our Next Adventure

by Lauren Matthies


It's funny how life is.  This morning Henry and I said a prayer together for a friend who is undergoing infertility treatment.  It made me think about how I haven't written a prayer in a while.  I like writing them because it allows me to really focus all my energy and attention on it.  It feels almost meditative to me too. 

My plan was to write a prayer for Henry's first year of life.  I will still do that, but after making that plan we got word of where we will be going for our first official Air Force stationing.  As such, I felt called to write a prayer for this next adventure.

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Dear Lord,

Thank you for guiding us and caring about our lives.  Thank you for letting us know where we are going.  And, most importantly, thank you for giving me the most incredible people to be adventuring with.

I ask that you please watch over us as we start this next chapter.  Please help us find a good place to live.  Please guide our decision making and point us in the right direction so that we can find the best home to grow and raise our family in.  Please let this be an incredibly joyful time in our family's life.  Let us love our new home and help us make friends and plant some sort of roots there.  Please be with Derek.  Let this be a wonderful opportunity for him.  Let him love his job and provide him with the opportunities he wants and most needs.  Grant him the wisdom, courage, and insight to advance his career from this stepping stone.  Please be with Henry and me.  Let us find our place in the community, making friends and finding activities that bring us joy.  Let this be a place where our family is nourished and nurtured.  Also, please keep us safe.  Keep us safe on our journey out there and during our time there.  Bless our path and our family and thank you for always doing so.

In your loving and glorious name, Amen.


Prayer on a Sleepless Night

by Lauren Matthies


Dear Lord, please fill me with kindness, compassion, and patience. Fill my heart with love and understanding.

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Last night I was incredibly angry. I was exhausted after Henry woke up when my husband came to bed after I'd had maybe 30 minutes of sleep. My nipples have been in lots of pain while breastfeeding and Henry's sharp nails were cutting me. I was angry at Henry for being awake and for hurting me and I was angry at my husband for sleeping and snoring while I was left with our now woken baby. I began to pray this prayer. I said it over and over until my heart softened. I realized that neither of their intentions were malicious. Henry was just woken and didn't know how to get back to sleep. Derek was just coming to bed and was sleeping before another day of work for our family. Both of these people I love and claim I would do anything for yet I was furious at them. I began to breathe, continued to pray, and began focusing on Henry's sweet hands rubbing my chest rather than the sharpness of his nails, his love for and trust of me rather than the pain of his latch, the beauty of our time together rather than the intensity of my fatigue. My heart continued to soften and my anger faded away, leaving me still tired and in pain, but with a grateful and peaceful spirit.


Baptism

by Lauren Matthies


This weekend both my husband and son were baptized.  My parents and Derek's parents were both in town for the event, and how special an event it was.  I was baptized as a baby, but Derek never was.  When I was pregnant he proposed the idea of he and Henry being baptized together.  My heart melted when he suggested that, and I had no idea how meaningful it would be, until my eyes started to well with tears on Sunday.

The service was beautiful.  The baptism followed a sermon about while all the disciples were fighting over who would get to sit next to Jesus they were blind to what was really important and what Jesus was trying to teach them.  She spoke of how the first will be last and the last will be first.  How while the disciples bickered over who would sit at the right and left of Jesus, the two men who were chosen to be at his side were criminals at his crucifixion.  It was the men who needed him the most who got to be closest to him.  Likewise, we can be closest to God when we serve those most in need.  We both see and spread the love of Christ by loving and serving others.  

When it came time for the baptism, all the children were brought back into the service and called to the front.  As part of the baptism, the children were asked if they would play with Henry, help guide him, teach him the stories of the Bible, and lead him if he got lost.  It was beautiful.  My son who I love so much being surrounded and uplifted by love and called a child of God.  

Then, my husband.  A man whom I adore with all my heart.  He stood up in front of the congregation and was baptized "in the name of the God who created you, the Redeemer who saves you, and the Spirit who gives you life."  It was such a touching and moving moment, especially as both Derek and Henry were baptized in the same font with the same water.

After their baptism, everyone sang "Jesus loves me."  My heart was so full and I am so grateful to be surrounded by such overwhelming love.

Update:  I've been waiting for our church to upload the text from the sermon and now that it is loaded, I'm including it below.

"Duh-scipleship"

Rev. Cathy C. Hoop      University Presbyterian Church     October 18, 2015

We all have our Tom Sawyer painting the fence chores, don’t we? Those things we will desperately try to convince someone else to do unless we absolutely have to do them. Mine are scrubbing toilets and taking out trash. I was able to convince my sons that all kinds of house hold jobs…like cleaning the algae off the fish tank…were really awesome…until they heard about Tom Sawyer. Busted!

To this day I can manage to get most of the chores done before Lou gets back to town…except the toilets and the trash. Funny the way that happens! This week I kept eyeing the kitchen trash and wondering how much more I could squeeze into it…knowing I couldn’t put off emptying it much longer. Then Lou called and said he would be getting to town after all and I made that bag last two more days!

And then there are those things that aren’t chores, like making the coffee. When someone else does them for you, they take on a new dimension. That may be why my coffee tastes better on Saturdays, the day of the week when Lou is here to make the coffee…for me, even though he doesn’t even drink it. A simple act, done from love. An act that conveys love.

Today we find Jesus talking about being servants and, God forbid, slaves. Serving others as a way of living out our love for God. While the disciples are busy fighting over who gets to sit next to Jesus when he enters his glory, he’s trying to open their eyes to love. Doesn’t their behavior remind you of the school cafeteria? Everyone jostling for position and trying to get to sit next to, or at least across from, or at the very least, at the same table as, the “cool kid.” What’s especially funny to me about this scene is that James and John get the question in first, and the other disciples are mad that they didn’t think of it! This is another wonderfully human scene in Mark. And I know you may be getting tired of hearing me say it, but I think we need to continue to thank this author for his honest portrayal of the fear and uncertainty experienced by the disciples as they look into the face of discipleship. Mark does not sugar coat things. He shows us how many times the disciples just don’t get it. And don’t get that they aren’t getting it! Mark affirms our times of searching and seeking and questioning. Mark affirms our humanity.

When Matthew tells this same story, he is evidently so embarrassed by the brothers’ behavior that he inserts their mother into the scene to advocate for her children. She’s seen her sons give up their former lives on this earth to follow this unknown teacher, so why wouldn’t she try to secure something for them in the next life? But Mark’s not having any of this. He isn’t going to let them get off that easily. No, he tells us that it is James and John themselves who ask for the best seats in the house.

To really understand the implications of their request, we need to zoom out a little and get the big picture. Mark employs a series of scenes involving disciple-defining moments to illustrate for us the complexities of following Jesus. These scenes are bookended by Jesus healing two individuals of their blindness. This isn’t a coincidence. This is brilliant writing.

In Mark 8: 22 – 26, Jesus heals a man who is blind, but unlike any other healing, this one takes two tries. He places spit on the man’s eyes, but the man can only see vague forms. So Jesus places his hands on the man’s eyes, and then he can see perfectly. This man’s vision was so dark that his restoration took an additional effort from Jesus…an interesting lead in to Jesus explaining to his disciples three times that he is going to suffer and die.

He heals the man who was blind and then he asks his friends how he is described by others. “Some call you John the Baptist.”

“Some call you Elijah!”

“Some call you a prophet!”

“I say you are the Christ,” says Peter. And no sooner are the words out of Peter’s mouth, than Jesus explains how he will suffer, die, and be raised on the third day.

Fast forward to Mark’s ninth chapter. Jesus and his friends are on their way to Jerusalem, and he again explains that he will suffer, die, and be raised on the third day. None of this makes sense to his disciples, and he hears them arguing. They aren’t debating what he has told them about his future; they are fighting over which one of them is the most important! Grown men arguing over who is the teacher’s favorite. Are they so self-consumed that they can’t think of anything but themselves, or are they too frightened to process what Jesus is telling them about the pain he must face?

Which brings us back to today’s conversation about “saved seats” in heaven. Is it me or is this just the craziest conversation? These guys get to take turns sitting next to Jesus at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week. Do they not realize what they have in this life? Which makes you wonder about their motivation. You either want to sit next to someone because you love being with them, savor the conversation and the companionship, or you want to sit next to someone because you want to be seen sitting with that person. You want the prestige of being in that person’s inner circle. It would appear that – in this moment at least –  the disciples are all about the status instead of the relationship.

This scene becomes even more awkward when we hear the sentences which serve as a backdrop to the conversation:

Mark 10: 32 – 34

32 Jesus and his disciples were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, with Jesus in the lead. The disciples were amazed while the others following behind were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he told them what was about to happen to him. 33 “Look!” he said. “We’re going up to Jerusalem. The Human One [Son of Man] will be handed over to the chief priests and the legal experts. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will ridicule him, spit on him, torture him, and kill him. After three days, he will rise up.”

And the next thing we witness: James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coming to Jesus and say, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” It’s such a strange disconnect. Again, we wonder if they are listening at all to what Jesus is telling them. How dense can they be??  But Jesus doesn’t get offended or hurt that they seem disinterested in things to come. He just asks, “What do you want?” It is as if we are watching a folk tale in which the protagonist is given three wishes, and we despair as the wishes are wasted one by one. If Jesus asked you what you wanted, I doubt that you would ask for the best seat in heaven. I imagine you would ask for healing from whatever wounds you carry or freedom from the things that bind you, or discernment as you try to walk in God’s ways. A nice seat? I don’t think so.

But then you and I have the advantage of knowing the whole story. We get to read Mark’s telling of these events.  A man is healed of blindness. Jesus tells of his death and resurrection, and then he challenges them to consider who he really is. They take a step closer to Jerusalem. Again, Jesus tells of his death and resurrection, and then the disciples argue over who is Jesus’ favorite!  They take another step towards Jerusalem. He tells them one more time that he will suffer, and die, and be raised up. What do they do? Maneuver for the best seats in heaven. Argh!!!! But he doesn’t promise them where they will sit. He lets them search for the answer to their own question by explaining to them that the last will be first. That serving is the means of grace in this life. Serving one another is how we will experience God’s presence in our midst.

Mark wraps all of this up by relating the story of Jesus healing another man who was blind. It’s too bad the disciples couldn’t read this story as they were living it. They might have caught on to the symbolism enveloping Jesus’ three attempts to explain his life’s path. They might have realized that Jesus was trying to heal them of their blindness. They don’t need to sit next to Jesus to experience his power and love. In fact, they (and we) need to move out into the world and live out his love in service.

We have to read almost to the end of Mark to hear a mention of anyone being placed beside Jesus. Remember this?  “They crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.” 15:27 Jesus isn’t too concerned about where the disciples will sit at the heavenly banquet. He knows they will understand one day. They will move from the initial fear of Easter morning, to the deep joy of understanding. The ones who need to be an arm’s reach from Jesus are the ones who don’t know if they are loved, who don’t know if they are forgiven, who don’t know if they are welcome in God’s realm. So on his right and on his left, within an arm’s reach, are not the disciples, but two individuals that the world condemned, that the world abandoned. Jesus lives out his sacrificial love in the most empathetic way possible: he dies beside them. He dies with them that they – and we – might know the face of Love.

You and I have the opportunity every Sunday to gather around Christ’s table and sit with him, break bread with him, share the cup with him. But even if we didn’t meet him in the breaking of the bread, we would find him within arm’s reach, on our right and on our left. Jesus is there. He is on the face of your brother and sister. And when you walk out those doors, and back into the world, he will be there, too. Sometimes in an unlovable form. As he reached out his arms for everyone the world abandoned, so we are to do the same. For the first will be last, and the last will be first. May our eyes be opened that we may be set free to live into the baptism of the servant’s life.

Thanks be to God. Amen.


Prayer for Our First Solo Trip

by Lauren Matthies


Last week Henry and I had our first solo trip for my cousin's wedding.  We had a layover because there were no direct flights.  I must have sensed that we would need peace "in the face of chaos" because we had quite the adventure (I wrote this prayer on the day of our trip).  We successfully made it to the airport, flew through security, got to our gate, and were the first to board the plane.  So far so good.  Once we were seated and ready for take off, we were informed that the Atlanta airport was closed indefinitely due to weather.  

We sat on the plane for about an hour and a half before eventually taking off.  Once we got to Atlanta, we knew our second flight was going to be delayed an hour (11:10pm instead of 10:10pm) so we would make it in just enough time after a bathroom stop and diaper change.  We got to our gate and another flight was displayed.  Eventually they informed us of a gate change.  At our new gate, things didn't seem to be moving along, and our departure time kept getting pushed back.  Finally we left around 12:45am and then landed in Jacksonville and met our family around 2am.  Here we hit another hiccup as there was only one woman letting people out of parking lot and she didn't have the proper change.  We ended up sitting in line for another 30 minutes before exiting the airport.

All that said, Henry and I made it.  I am grateful for the peace and calm with which we faced a potentially stressful and upsetting (two) days of travel.  I realize that I must be patient and unflustered even when my circumstances aren't ideal, if not for me, for Henry.

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Dear Lord,

Please watch over Henry and me tonight. Give us both peace. Help me be calm so that I can be a safe haven for him. Please protect us as we travel and keep Derek and Max safe at home. Watch over the four of us while we are apart and bring us safely back together. Let us have a fun time and keep us calm, present, and joyful even in the face of chaos. Please continue to help me be the best mom to my precious baby boy and the best wife to my husband. Keep us safe, happy, and healthy.

In your glorious name I pray.

Amen.


Prayer for My Son's First Crib Sleep

by Lauren Matthies


I just put my son down in his crib for his first night of sleep in his own room.  I said a prayer for him before setting him down and then started crying as I left his room.  As I type this I am watching the baby monitor with bated breath.  When my husband saw my tears he said, "he's not going to college yet."  Here I was thinking I would be a calm, cool, and collected mom who wouldn't cry and those milestones, and, yet I can't even sleep in a different room from my son without feeling emotional.  So tonight I say an extra prayer for my son.

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Dear Lord,

Please watch over my son tonight.  Keep him safe.  Wrap your arms around him and keep him in your loving care.  Let him feel my love wrapped around him even though I am a room away.  Let him know that I will always be here for him.  That no matter how far away from him I am, I will always be only a moment away.  If he needs me, I will always come.  There is no distance that can separate us, and nothing that can keep him away from my love.

Please be with me.  Help me sleep well, trusting that Henry is safe and that you will watch over both of us.  Let me have ears to hear his cry and allow me to sense him if he needs me.  Help me to get a good night's rest so that I can be the best mother to my son.

Thank you for protecting and loving us thus far and please continue to care for and bless our family.

In your glorious name I pray, Amen.


Prayer for Peace During Our Move

by Lauren Matthies


I'm up even though I should be sleeping during the one chunk of sleep Henry allows me each night because my mind won't stop wondering.  My heart feels anxious and I feel emotional.  I am about to officially leave the place I have called home for the past few years.  The place I lived in when I married my husband, the city in which I opened my studio, and the home to which I brought home my son.  I am incredibly excited about our new adventure, especially because Henry will finally have a dedicated space and room of his own.  I envision us playing on the floor and cuddling in his rocking chair.  But, at the same time I'm not ready.  We aren't fully packed yet, I haven't said all my goodbyes, and we have a cross country trek with a baby and a bunny.  It's times like these when I must breathe and pray so tonight I am praying for peace.

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Dear Lord,

Please grant me peace.  Please let me trust you and have a content and at ease heart.  Let my mind quiet so that I can sleep well tonight.  Let me find joy in these last few days before our move, and help me to put aside any anxiety that I have.  Help me to be patient and have a spirit of thanksgiving.  Let me cherish these final moments and be grateful for what this home has been, rather than feel worried, anxious, or scared about what is to come.

Please keep us safe on our journey.  Let us have a fun trip and enjoy our time together.  Please get us safely to our new home, and let our journey be relatively uneventful.  Please let Max and Henry be comfortable and happy along the way.  Help Derek and me encourage and lift each other up.  

Please help us to adjust to our new home and life in Alabama.  Let us enjoy this next year and grow even closer as a couple and a family.  Help us to remember our blessings and cherish every moment as it comes.

Thank you for all the blessings I have been given and for letting this segment of my life be so rewarding and blessed.  Help me to hold these memories fondly, but be at peace as I embark on this new chapter of my life.

In your glorious name I pray, Amen.


Nighttime Prayer for My Son

by Lauren Matthies


At night I get nervous when I put my son to sleep.  Even though he is inches from me, I worry that his blanket will go over his face or that something will happen to him in his sleep and I won't notice until morning.  I find that it helps to say a nighttime prayer over my son so that I can go to sleep in peace.  My prayer may be a little different each night, but it goes something like this:

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Dear Lord,

Please protect Henry.  Watch over him and keep him safe.  Let him know how much we love him.  Help him to grow into a kind, loving, and faithful adult.  Help Derek and me be good parents to him and a good husband and wife to each other.  Please bless our family and watch over everyone we love.  Thank you for giving me such a beautiful son, a wonderful husband, and a perfect family.  I am truly blessed and I owe that to you.  Please keep us safe, happy, and healthy and help us to be the people you call us to be.  

In your glorious name I pray, Amen.


Prayer for Peace and Patience During Sleepless Nights

by Lauren Matthies


Tonight has been exceptionally rough.  It's 3am and I am running on no sleep.  I'm exhausted and when Henry wouldn't stop crying I begrudgingly told my husband that I would take him and deal with him.  I was frustrated and tired and felt at my wits end.

Then, I decide to start praying over my son.  I wrote this prayer and now as I look down at my son while he breastfeeds I feel overcome with love, compassion, and gratitude.  I feel just as tired as I did when I came out here, but my soul is filled with a greater sense of peace.

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Dear Lord,

Grant me patience as Henry's mother. Help me remember that he is a precious gift and that being his mother is a blessing from you. Remind me that you entrusted me with this responsibility because you know I am capable. Give me strength of character, kindness, patience, understanding. Fill me with love and remove the frustration and anger from my heart. Help me remember that this little baby loves and needs me, and that while I feel I need sleep more than anything, I am his whole world.

As I feed him please let my milk nourish him not only physically. Let him be filled with kindness, courage, health, happiness, love, and goodness. Let my milk and this time together instill him with values that will grow him into a strong and good man.

Fill my heart with peace and give me the endurance to face long sleepless nights. Help me have the perspective to remember that these exhausting days and nights won't last forever and I will miss the moments of holding my baby in my arms.


Prayer for Childbirth and Recovery

by Lauren Matthies


As my due date approaches, I have moments of fearing labor.  I mostly started to get scared after a really bad experience with hemorrhoids this past weekend.  It made me feel like there is so much in this process that my body has struggled with and the process of childbirth will be even more strenuous.  I don't know what to expect, but there is a fear that my body and I won't be able to handle labor, that recovery will be challenging, and that my pain may not subside (or even get worse) after birth. 

As easy as it is for me to get wrapped up in these fears and follow the rabbit trail down a trail of worry, I am aiming to calm myself and trust in my baby, my body, myself, and my God.  I don't know what will happen.  I don't know what to expect.  I don't know, and worry won't change my outcome, other than making the process more daunting.  So, I'm writing this prayer to help me.  To hand my fears over to God and have faith that everything will be okay--more than okay, wonderful.

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Dear Lord,

Please watch over Henry and me over these next few days, weeks, and months.  Give me strength and courage to finish my pregnancy.  Help me to trust that you have my back and that you will not leave my side.  Please give me confidence and calm as I approach childbirth.  Help guide me and give me the wisdom to know what to do.  Please keep Henry and me safe.  Let my mind be at ease and my heart be calm.  Help me to trust this process, trust my doctors and nurses, and trust in myself.  Please provide me with the assurance that I am capable and that you equipped me with everything that I need to safely bring Henry into this world.  Help me have confidence in my ability to birth him and to be his mother.  Please ease my fears and calm my spirit.  Let me be patient and enjoy the remainder of my pregnancy, however long that may be.  Please help me have a safe and easy delivery and a quick and pain free recovery. Let me cherish every moment with my son and with Derek as we become a new family together.

I trust you, I love you, and I thank you for blessing me so immensely.  In your glorious name I pray, Amen.