“All I know is that when I pray, coincidences happen; and when I don’t pray, they don’t happen.”

– Dan Hayes

This week – still on our Praycation – Mike and I have been waking up in the home of favorite friends. There is a long, long line of individuals inspired by this couple who have devoted their lives to praying for and serving others.

I take note especially of this couple’s tenacious prayers for their children; as much in the adult years as through the ups and downs of adolescence. Watching the results, this couple has taught me a very important thing:  Pray for your children.  Always.

Last night, Mike and I visited with my Aunt Martha and her family. The first believer in my dad’s family, I know she withstood misunderstanding and hardship as she sought after Christ.

My Aunt Martha, Susie (dog), and my cousins Jean & Sandy.
My Aunt Martha, Susie (dog), and my cousins Jean & Sandy.

Her life is simple and quiet.  Daily, she sits in her chair, her bible open, praying for her children, for our nation, for countless people, and for extended family like me.

As a child, I spent a lot of time in Aunt Martha’s home.  Last night, I reminisced with my cousins over the memories shared in that house.  Humorously, we were interrupted by an apple-munching intruder. As we stepped outside to watch him, memories flooded of sitting on that same summer lawn decades ago, watching planes come and go from Spokane International and of sneaking to the freeway overpass to count cars as they swooshed underneath on I-90.

Poor guy. He wandered into my aunt’s yard to eat apples and ended up becoming the subject of a photo shoot. Photo credit: Mike Ausmus

Returning to the house, Jean caught me off guard by handing me a whole new set of memories … the memories of our ancestors.

Ten years ago, I had discovered four decades worth of journals penned by my dad, as well as some family letters.  We all gathered at that time to share in the find and to pepper Aunt Martha with questions.  In the years following, Jean and Sandy tracked down one of our cousins through Dad and Martha’s sister Ruth.  From him, they unearthed more letters and pictures. These turned into a photo album, of which Jean was now giving me a copy.

Mike, Me, Aunt Martha, Kyle (Jean's son) and Jean
Mike, Me, Aunt Martha, Kyle (Jean’s son) and Jean. Apparently, Jean and I missed the memo about pouty looks.

Along with the album, she recreated the family “Greenbook”, a documentation of our family’s history through our Grandfather Brown’s side … he had done much of the writing.

Besides discovering that our ancestors had a propensity for naming their sons  James,  Elisha, Emerson,  or some combination thereof, and therefore confusing those of us looking at pictures simply labelled “Jim” or “Emerson”, I discovered deep roots of faith.  Our grandfather (James Elisha Brown), whom Dad had said wasn’t a church goer or one who vocalized faith, was however, verbose in writing admirably about the faith of his grandparents.

Grandpa Brown’s closing words in the “Green Book”, say this about my great-great grandparents: “It is doubtful that ever a day passed that they were not in communication with God, silently giving their thanks and asking for guidance to see the right, and the strength to do the right.  They believed in life after death. We cannot see beyond the veil, but we can rest with full assurance that their reward was great.” These words followed stories of their faith in action, as well as commentary on their prayer life.

Interestingly, my grandfather ended up spending much of his latter years in church every Sunday, albeit for a somewhat unusual reason.  Always inventing and reinventing, he was hired by churches to “electrify” their organs and would thus attend services to listen to his handiwork.  At the end of his life, he prayed with my aunt to receive Christ’s gift of forgiveness and salvation … I think the result of his grandparent’s faith doesn’t need elaboration.

Pray for your children.  Always.

Back to Aunt Martha. In the midst of Mike’s crisis, my heart leapt at the reminder that she was praying.  I wouldn’t know it until I was in my 20’s, but Aunt Martha’s prayers have paved every season of my entire life … there aren’t the right words to describe how moving that revaluation is.

Hugging a true warrior.  So grateful for my Aunt Martha.
Hugging a true warrior. So grateful for my Aunt Martha.

I think of the beautiful people we’ve spent time with this week and wonder at how God chooses to work not through titles and might, but through heart cries in quiet corners.  Is this the hope  … that a generation would drop to its knees again and again and again … and pray?

“God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”.   – E. M. Bounds

“To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees.”  – Billy Graham

PS  Another Praycation Encounter that we can share: At dinner the other night, we met a young man who touched our hearts.  He openly shared his choice to walk away from addiction for the sake of his young family.  Raised in a church, he mentioned a man who had been a mentor, but with whom he lost contact. J. hasn’t pursued Christ or a church community for some time. Will you join us in prayer for those like J., who are looking for something that makes sense in their lives beyond the noise of culture? Those who are open to God, but have had no one to lead them?