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Posts Tagged ‘Protestant prayer beads’

The good news is this: there is no grass growing under our feet in the Studio! These past few months have been about big developments and exciting plans. Here’s the lowdown:

New Website

Our brand new website is www.prayerworksstudio.com and we are so excited to share it with you! It has more information and photos, more resources on prayer beads, more ways to connect with us and keep up to date with all we are doing. This site will also house our blog, which means we will no longer be using the blog at http://www.abeadnaprayer.com.

Thus, if you are subscribed to the original “A Bead ‘n a Prayer” blog, please take time to subscribe to our new blog here. All you have to do is enter your email address and you’ll be all set! If you have never subscribed, now’s a good time to start!

New Prayer-Bead-Making Video

Y’all love to make prayer beads! How do I know? Our no-frills prayer-bead-making video received so many views that The Upper Room decided it was time to spiff it up. They hired a professional film crew to redo it, which gave me the chance to hang out with Sharon Conley and other Upper Room staff while we worked on it. Everyone did a great job because the video looks great! Check it out!

New Blog Reader Submission Series

Our blog is one of our favorite ways of sharing prayer and prayer beads with y’all, so we’ve decided to expand it and add even more elements to it! There will be weekly posts that include prayer bead devotions, guest blog posts, Studio updates, and other fun things.

What I’m most excited about, though, is our new reader submission series: “How Prayer Beads Helped Me To . . .” We’d love to hear from you! What difference have prayer beads made in your life? How have they helped you? We invite you to submit your story. We’ll choose one story each month to feature on the blog. To submit, send your story to: support (at) prayerworksstudio.com.

Remember to subscribe to the new blog!

New Daily Meditation Series

Beginning today, we will send out a daily meditation. Every meditation will consist of just one line, making it quick to read and take with you throughout the day. The meditations are designed to be repeated, helping you to calm yourself, focus, and hear God’s voice in your life. Thus, you can use them with your prayer beads, while you’re doing the dishes or sitting at a stoplight, etc. Meditations will be posted via social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Connect with us for your daily dose of centering prayer!

New Monthly Giveaway

Free stuff! What’s not to love?!? On the first Monday of every month we’ll be giving away something fun, whether prayer beads, books, or other cool stuff. Stay tuned!

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My sister, Jackie, and me

New Staff

So many new things! Clearly, I’ve had some help! Meet Jackie Mills, Prayerworks Studio’s new Director of Marketing. Even better: she’s my sister! Jackie has been working with me since March and has already added wonderful energy, brilliant ideas, and multiple talents to our work, not to mention wicked humor (following the new video she has taken to cackling and calling me Martha Stewart because of my voice). Welcome, Jackie!

We hope you are as excited as we are about all these new things! We are excited to take this prayer bead adventure to a whole new level!

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Yesterday, my friend and fellow author, J. Dana Trent, posted an article on Patheos titled, “Marked by Faith: The Spirituality of Tattoos.” The article was inspired by an experience she and I had last summer when we attended the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC. We were there to lead a workshop (her), sell prayer beads (me), and sign books (both of us). The Festival was a first for both of us and, along with our friends from The Upper Room, Joanna and Whitney, we made the most of it.

One of the things that caught our attention was an exhibit called Faithmarks, which featured photos of people with tattoos. While the tattoos varied dramatically, the common link was that they were all expressions of the person’s faith. They reflected individual beliefs, profound experiences, moments of grace, and messages of love. Each photo was paired with the person’s story, allowing us a tiny glimpse of each one’s faith journey. I looked at every photo, read every story.

Photo courtesy of Faithmarks

My faith mark – photo courtesy of Faithmarks

One reason I was drawn to the exhibit was that I have a faith mark. In August 2013 I got a tattoo on my left wrist. It is made up of three hebrew letters that spell the word “hesed” and has seven prayer beads above it. Relative to many other tattoos, it is small, but BOY did it HURT! I almost fainted! I’m not kidding, y’all: at one point the tattoo artist had to lay me down and give me a sugar pill to chew to keep me from passing out. But here’s the deal: it was SO worth it. That tattoo means so much to me.

Why?

As part of the exhibit, the Faithmarks people invited Wild Goose attendees to share their own faith mark stories. Here’s mine:

When I was 7 I was sexually assaulted by a stranger. Even worse, he threatened to kill me if I told anyone what he had done, so I stayed silent. I didn’t tell my mom until I was 31.

Though the rest of my childhood was fairly good, still, I lived life from a place of fear. Years of therapy provided some relief, though I was never able to get past a certain point. I didn’t trust anyone, particularly myself.

By the time I reached my mid-forties, I was sick of being afraid. I began to pray for peace. God led me to a program that encouraged me to be still. In the stillness I discovered my spirit had more than a few issues with God. Over the course of two years I aired out those grievances, reconnected with my spunky little 7-year-old self, and realized that God had never abandoned me. In fact, God loves me DEEPLY.

My faith mark celebrates this new place of peace. It’s made up of the Hebrew word “hesed,” which describes God’s love for us – a love that is deep, steadfast, and perfect. Above this are seven prayer beads. Prayer beads have played a significant role in my healing and are another reminder of God’s abiding presence in my life. What I love most about this faith mark is how it surprises me; when I least expect it I am reminded of God’s deep love for me. And I am at peace.

Prior to Wild Goose, I would have simply referred to my tattoo as just that: a tattoo, albeit one that expressed my theology. But now I understand it for what it really is: a faith mark. A mark that witnesses to the deep love of God in my life, a life filled with grace.

As Dana noted in her Patheos article, our bodies can be a way to tell our stories of faith. Do you have a faith mark? Share it with us!

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Not that you needed another reason to eat chocolate, but here is one: today (October 28th, 2014) is National Chocolate Day! It’s considered a high holy day in my household. Indeed, my husband and son just came into the studio with an offering of dark chocolate and sea salt caramel, along with glad tidings of great joy: “Happy National Chocolate Day,” they yelled. They are good boys and know me well. I have good reason to keep them around.

I’m sharing this with you for two reasons. First, I knew you would want to join me in celebrating this very sacred of national holidays. Second, I thought you’d enjoy knowing that there are not just one, but two – TWO! – connections between chocolate and prayer beads (in case you needed one more reason to love prayer beads).

First, it appears that the oldest known rosary belonged to a woman named Lady Godiva. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. Yep, I’m talking about the infamous woman who rode around naked on a horse. I’d heard the story and  – along with everyone else -judged Lady Godiva to be loose or crazy or some combination of the two. But the stories that have been handed down through history paint a completely different picture: one of a woman who was a devout Christian and a brave and compassionate advocate of the common folk. I love telling the story of her famous ride because it redeems her honor and offers one more image of a strong woman in history. And apparently, when Lady Godiva died she bequeathed her rosary to the monastery she and her husband had founded. The monks recorded this gift and that record – dating back to the 11th century – is used to help date the origin of the rosary. That’s one connection.

A perfect combination: chocolate and prayer beads

Here’s the other: as I’ve said many times before, this prayer bead journey had a fairly quirky beginning. It took me a while to a) trust that God was calling me and b) figure out what exactly I was being called to do. Once I did I began researching the history of prayer beads. That’s when I first learned of this connection between prayer beads and Lady Godiva. In addition to loving her story I thought, “Hmmm, Godiva equals chocolate” (because that’s how my mind works). That means there is a direct connection between prayer beads and chocolate. I LOVE chocolate! And that’s when I really began to trust this calling. It was a clear sign of God’s deep love for me, a clear sign that God knew me well.

And so, as you’re savoring some wonderful piece of chocolate, I’ll leave you with this thought: “Godiva” means “God’s gift.” True story. Chocolate is God’s gift. You’re welcome.

Enter to Win a $25 Godiva Gift Card!

In honor of National Chocolate Day, I’m giving away one $25 Godiva gift card. How great is that?!? All you have to do to enter is post a photo of your prayer beads and chocolate together. Get creative! Post them here in the comments section, on my Facebook page, on Twitter (@abeadnaprayer), or send them to me at kevincent619 (@) gmail.com. The deadline to post is this Friday, 10/31/14. I will enter all names into a random drawing. The winner will be announced next Monday, November 3, 2014.

In the meantime, check out Godiva’s The Lady Godiva Program. I love it because they are using this empowering story of Lady Godiva – along with proceeds from chocolate sales – to support women who are making a difference in the areas of health/wellness/hunger, children/families/poverty, and the environment. I think that’s awesome!

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We have less than two weeks until book #2 – Another Bead, Another Prayer: Devotions to Use with Protestant Prayer Beads – goes to print. According to Upper Room Books, it will be available January 2015. Max (my husband and coauthor) and I are so excited to share this book with you!

Cover design for Another Bead, Another Prayer

Max is the author of a blog called Word Wonderings. In today’s post he shares lessons he’s learned through this process of collaborating on a book about prayer. I wanted to share his blog, which gives you another chance to get to know him.

Another Prayer and Praying One Another’s Prayers, by Max Vincent

My wife, Kristen, and I are nearing the end of the edits on the first book we have written together, Another Bead, Another Prayer. The heart of the book is a collection of 28 different devotions and meditations to use with protestant prayer beads. As we began drafting the book, we simply split up the prayers, each writing 14 different meditations and devotions. It has been a fun, rewarding, and, at times, challenging task. As we near the stage of publication, I can look back and see some important lessons I have learned about prayer in this process.

(Continue reading here.)

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A few weeks ago I inaugurated my new Beads and Books series with Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork. This book is so profound that I found myself thinking about it and rereading passages for weeks after I had finished reading it.

I shared with you some of my favorite quotes from the book, but here is my absolute favorite:

You have made me so rich, oh God, please let me share out Your beauty with open hands. My life has become an uninterrupted dialogue with You, oh God, one great dialogue. Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on Your earth, my eyes raised toward Your heaven, tears sometimes run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude. At night, too, when I lie in bed and rest in You, oh God, tears of gratitude run down my face, and that is my prayer. (p. 332)

Etty wrote this in her journal from Westerbork (a transit camp), just days before she and her family were loaded onto trains and sent to Auschwitz. Surrounded by the darkest pain, the most visible signs of suffering, and the knowledge of her own impending death, Etty was able to stand in the midst and proclaim her gratitude for God’s rich beauty. She was able to do this because, as she said, her life had become “an uninterrupted dialogue” with God. Her entire life had become a prayer.

Etty Hillesum

Etty Hillesum

That’s exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 17 when he wrote, “Rejoice always. Pray continually.” At the time of his letter it was illegal to be a Christian. Churches were having to meet in secret, and many followers of Christ were being persecuted. There were definite periods of darkness. To sustain their faith, Paul encourages his readers to pray without ceasing. Doing so would make their entire lives about prayer, enabling them to “rejoice always,” even – and especially – in the hardest of times.

We all face periods of darkness at various points in our lives. I know I’ve had my share. And I can’t say I spent much of that time rejoicing, primarily because my prayer life wasn’t strong. But that is changing. Little by little, day by day, I am learning to make my life about prayer. I’m taking time to pray and listen and read and express my gratitude. I’m looking for signs of God’s presence in the ordinary moments and people and experiences of my life. And I’m reading about the saints, including a Dutch Jew who, in the midst of the Holocaust, was able to proclaim God’s rich beauty.

It’s a process, one that takes time and is not always easy or perfect. But if it leads me to see God’s grace in times of pain, then I will count it time well spent. And I will thank God for Etty and her profound testimony.

Cross: God of beauty,

Invitatory Bead: you are both gracious,

Resurrection Bead: and ever-present.

First Cruciform Bead: You have made me so rich.

Week Beads, Set 1: Use each bead to consider the ways in which God has made you “rich,” and to offer thanks.

Second Cruciform Bead: I want my life to be a constant prayer.

Week Beads, Set 2: Use each bead to consider how your life can become a ceaseless prayer to God, and to ask for God’s help in this.

Third Cruciform Bead: Help me to see your presence – in every place, in every person, in every moment, to understand that you are always with me, and to offer gratitude.

Week Beads, Set 3: Use each bead to see, listen for, and feel God’s presence as your life becomes a prayer.

Fourth Cruciform Bead: Take my life of prayer and use it to proclaim your rich beauty to the world.

Week Beads, Set 4: Use each bead to pray that God will use you to testify to God’s presence in both darkness and light. 

Resurrection Bead: For it is by your Son, Jesus,

Invitatory Bead: that we come face to face with you in all your glory,

Cross: Amen

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Today’s post is the beginning of a new series called Beads and Books. These days I am reading so much good stuff on prayer, prayer beads, being still, etc. that I want to share with you. I’m hoping this will open up a dialogue between us as you share your favorite books as well.

The book I want to share today is Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life and Letters from Westerbork. My current favorite writer, Robert Benson, referenced this book at one point and, obedient Robert Benson disciple that I am, I decided to read it. I will be forever thankful that I did. Etty’s book is one of the most profound books I’ve ever read. Ever. Definitely one of my top ten books of all time. It is absolutely stunning.

Etty was a Dutch Jew during World War II. An aspiring writer, this book is a combination of her journal (written from her apartment in Amsterdam), as well as letters she wrote from Westerbork. Westerbork was one of the transit camps where Jews were held before being sent to the extermination camps. Many editions of this book include only the journal, however, I highly recommend the edition that includes both. The journal and letters together form a complete picture of Etty’s life from 1941 to 1943, when she was killed at Auschwitz at the age of twenty-nine.

Etty’s deep faith is the most striking element of this book. As it begins, the Nazis occupy Amsterdam and for the most part, the Jews are still free to go about their daily lives. But over time you see how the Nazis take over, segregating the Jews into ghettos and loading them into trains bound for concentration camps. Throughout this, Etty’s faith in a just and loving God remains steadfast. As a result, Etty is able to:

  • pray for the German soldiers:
    • “I knew at once: I shall have to pray for this German soldier. . . we understand that German soldiers suffer as well. There are no frontiers between suffering people, and we must pray for them all (p. 156).”
  • release hate:
    • “All I really wanted to say is this: we have so much work to do on ourselves that we shouldn’t even be thinking of hating our so-called enemies (p. 211).”
  • feel safe no matter where she is or what is happening:
    • “I don’t feel in anybody’s clutches; I feel safe in God’s arms, to put it rhetorically, and no matter whether I am sitting at this beloved old desk now, or in a bare room in the Jewish district, or perhaps in a labor camp under SS guards in a month’s time – I shall always feel safe in God’s arms (p. 176).”
  • recognize that each of us has a responsibility for peace in the world:
    • “Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world (p. 218).”

Etty was clearly well-respected in her community and moved in some of the influential circles. This afforded her many opportunities to hide from the Germans or leave the country. As a member of the local Jewish Council, she was able to delay going to Westerbork. But Etty declined these offers. She wanted to go to the camp.

Did you catch that? Let me say it again: Etty wanted to be sent to a concentration camp.

Can you imagine?!?

She explained this was because, “It still all comes down to the same thing: life is beautiful. And I believe in God. And I want to be there right in the thick of what people call “horror” and still be able to say: life is beautiful (p. 226).” Etty recognized the extent of the suffering in the camps. She knew people would give up hope and possibly even give up their faith in God. Etty wanted to be with these people and witness to God’s comforting presence. As she wrote, “We should be willing to act as a balm for all wounds (p.231).”

On the day Etty and her family members were loaded into trains bound for Auschwitz (where they would be killed), Etty wrote a quick postcard and threw it out the window. The card read, “We left the camp singing (p. 360).”

This is why I find this book so stunning. I pray that I would have even an ounce of such grace and gratitude and peace of mind in the face of unspeakable horror. Or in the face of a scary diagnosis, or the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job. I pray that, surrounded by darkness, I would be able to say, “Life is beautiful. Thanks be to God.”

It is possible. Such deep faith is not just for the saints. It is available to every one of us, fed by prayer, pure and simple. It is fed by time with God, talking and questioning and listening and wailing and being quiet. It is fed by that joy we talked about the other day, recognizing God’s presence everywhere.

Whether you have prayer beads or not, I hope you will take time to pray and feed your faith. And may you be able to say with a quiet confidence, “Life is beautiful. Thanks be to God.”

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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!

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