Depression, Worship, and Liturgy

This past week I participated in a Twitter dialog with several people regarding: #abuse, #depression, #trauma, #mentalhealth. I so appreciated the other people who endured one or more of the situations, and who shared their insights, questions, concerns, and especially their care for one another.

I commented that I had to step away because the discussion was becoming a trigger for me regarding depression. Another commented that maybe a better word to use is reflection. As I thought about (reflected) that, I see a distinction between the two: trigger is not something I can control. It happens, there is a reaction. Reflection is something I can do to think about what happened.

Today as I was reflecting on that and the triggers, I also thought about how as a Christian, is there something long term that can help put all of the experiences (the trauma as well as the triggers afterward) into perspective? So I will try to explain what has been my life and at times my only consolation.

The Liturgical Life

For me, I have spent my entire 69 years (except one year) within a (Lutheran) liturgical church environment. Thus, while my parents didn’t worship, they made sure us boys were there or our grandparents took us. I had all three liturgies memorized before I started school (Divine service, Matins, and Vespers). When I dated my future wife, she belonged to a church within same church body. It has been part of our relationship for 51 years.

Some might see a problem commenting that it becomes “just routine,” no thinking or engagement necessary. For me, that has never been an issue. In fact, just the opposite. Regardless of the year, circumstances, challenges, devastation, the constancy of the liturgy was a welcome relief. The liturgy invites me to speak and sing with others; it became a way to be part of something that was not affected by my personal challenges. 

In the worst times, I would be there, not speaking or singing, but I was part of a group expressing and sharing (speaking and singing) the Christian faith in the fullness and breadth of life itself. To be in their presence was reassuring, comforting. Eventually I could join in again. Not because someone demanded it, but because the invitation throughout was a call to me to be part of the church, the broken, messy, church. And at that time I was really broken, messy.

The Christian and Lament

When I was recovering from my complete breakdown I had friends who encouraged me to go to a contemporary worship service, to “cheer me up.” They said that the liturgy and hymns were too “dry, stale, even depressing.” I attended a few months, but in reality, the “cheer me up music” lasted only a day or so. I went back to a liturgical service. And I was at home.

I realized that the hymnal provided the liturgical framework and the hymns that addressed all aspects of the Christian life. Yes, days of rejoicing (Easter!!), but it also encompassed days of repentance (Ash Wednesday) and days of mourning. 

Here is one example of a hymn that reached to the very depths of what I was experiencing.

“Lord Jesus, Think on Me”

by Synesius of Cyrene, c. 375-430
Translated by Allen W. Chatfield, 1808-1896

1. Lord Jesus, think on me And purge away my sin;
From earth-born passions set me free And make me pure within.

2. Lord Jesus, think on me With many a care opprest;
Let me Thy loving servant be And taste Thy promised rest.

3. Lord Jesus, think on me Amid the battle’s strife;
In all my pain and misery Be Thou my Health and Life.

4. Lord Jesus, think on me Nor let me go astray;
Through darkness and perplexity Point Thou the heavenly way.

5. Lord Jesus, think on me When floods the tempest high;
When on doth rush the enemy, O Savior, be Thou nigh!

6. Lord Jesus, think on me That, when the flood is past,
I may the eternal brightness see And share Thy joy at last.

7. Lord Jesus, think on me That I may sing above
To Father, Spirit, and to Thee The strains of praise and love.

Notice how the hymn writer from the early 5th century captured what I was enduring in the 21st century. This is not a musty, soon to be forgotten “happy song” but a deeply reverent, powerful, and encouraging hymn for the broken. 

Even the melody reinforces this. Here is a beautiful a cappella (shortened) version: 

https://youtu.be/NqQ1IPOIZwA

I have more to write about the relationship between depression, etc. and worship. This at least gives you a sense of how I appreciate the sometimes somber, sometimes, heavy sense of life and how worship expresses that for me.

Our prayers continue
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I am sorry

Over the past five months I have offered prayers for those who had been sexually abused in the MSU/USAG/USOC scandals. My intent was to daily remember them before God.

Yet, I was just made aware that I had spelled the abuser’s last name incorrectly during that entire time. I have since corrected that error. I ask those who were affected for your forgiveness.

Prayer for Survivors —Part 9

As time passes, it is easy for many of us to think that the effects of abuse have disappeared. But we are reminded that each day these women face new challenges, grow beyond where they had been. But their pain is real, the consequences significant. This is a small reminder that not one is forgotten.

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Heavenly Father, You know the challenges and attacks that each of these people have faced. Reassure them of Your presence in Jesus Christ. Grant them strength, wisdom, and insight on how best to proceed, especially in the coming days. Refresh, restore, and renew them according to Your mercy in Jesus Christ. May they continue to be a voice for the broken, the forgotten, the voiceless. Protect their hearts when attacked, and sustain them with Your Word.

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Day 124 Whitney Burns #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we lift up Whitney today as she lives in light of but beyond the trauma of abuse. Bring healing, hope, & growth. In the dark days reassure her of Your love. Bless her family as well as they provide care & support. IJN Amen

Day 125 Isabell Hutchins #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we pray for Isabell in all her needs, challenges, hurts. Bring grace to her in all relationships, strengthen her when she is weakest, love her when she might feel unlovable. May she speak & respond w/grace influenced by Your Word. IJN. Amen

Day 126 Meaghan Ashcraft #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors God, You invite us to bring our prayers before You. Today we ask for Your special love, support, mercy on Meaghan. Whatever is of greatest concern bring help and healing to her. Reassure her of Your love. Bless her family. IJN Amen

Day 127 Natalie Woodland #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors LordGod, grant Your blessings for Natalie as she copes w/ & grows through the abuse. Give her wise counselors, strong friends, intentional caregivers to supply all that she needs. Reaffirm Your love for in Jesus. IJN Amen

Day 128 Jillian Swinehart #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor on Jillian. You know her needs, hurts, desires. Grant her wisdom, strength, & mercy as she continues face the past, even more as she looks to the future. Heal her heart & grant her grace for all situations. IJN Amen

Day 129 Allison Chauvette #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, as Allison moves forward in life, grant her healing, strength, wisdom, & hope. Raise up people who can understand, care for, & speak into her life words of truth, courage, & love in Jesus. We pray for her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 130 Anna Dayton #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your mercy be evident to Anna. Strengthen her for each task & challenge. Be her Rock in all situations. Teach her even more about true love, true life, true friendship. Guide her steps, teach her Your ways in Jesus. IJN Amen

Our prayers continue
Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

Prayers for Survivors — Part 8

As time passes, it is easy for many of us to think that the effects of abuse have disappeared. But we are reminded that each day these women face new challenges, grow beyond where they had been. But their pain is real, the consequences significant. This is a small reminder that not one is forgotten.

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Heavenly Father, You know the challenges and attacks that each of these people have faced. Reassure them of Your presence in Jesus Christ. Grant them strength, wisdom, and insight on how best to proceed, especially in the coming days. Refresh, restore, and renew them according to Your mercy in Jesus Christ. May they continue to be a voice for the broken, the forgotten, the voiceless. Protect their hearts when attacked, and sustain them with Your Word. 

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Day 108 Lauren Michalak #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Yourname. You invite us to pray for those in need. Today we pray for Lauren & her many needs. Altho we don’t know them You do. May You strengthen, comfort her, & guide her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 109 Vanasia Bradley #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Loving God, we bring Vanasia before Your throne of mercy. In the midst of her coping/healing grant her strength, courage, and focus. Bless her & her family w/love in all her needs. Give wisdom to those helping & loving her. IJN Amen

Day 110 Breanne Rata #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your blessings rest upon Breanne today. Surround her w/people who can support, love, and guide her. Give her wisdom as she moves forward. Strengthen her to meet all challenges w/grace and compassion. IJN Amen

Day 111 Erin McCann #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Look w/favor on Erin. You have given her voice to speak about & against abuse. Heal & protect her. Help her family stand strong w/her. May they all know love, compassion, & joy. Whatever her hurts, bring wholeness. IJN Amen

Day 112 Catherine Hannum #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, today Catherine needs Your love and reassurance. Strengthen, comfort, & encourage her. Raise up people to speak words of hope. We pray for her family as well, and their many needs, for wisdom, & strength. IJN Amen

Day 113 Victim 170 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we turn to You in behalf of Victim 170. You know her needs, hurts, concerns, challenges. You can more than meet them because of Your great love. Surround her w/people of love and compassion. Bless her family as they walk w/her. IJN Amen

Day 114 Jessica Chedler Rodriquez #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Loving God, may You bless, comfort, & heal Jessica. While time passes some issues remain. Bring this to closure for her. Give her family strength, compassion, & encouragement. Whatever he needs may You more than meet them. IJN Amen

Day 115 Victim 138 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look with favor upon Victim 138. Whatever her needs & her family’s needs, may You more than meet them. Protect her from further attacks, and from indifference by others. Heal, strengthen, & comfort her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 116 Morgan Margraves #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we approach Your throne of mercy in behalf of Morgan. Grant her comfort, healing, strength. Enable her to grow in knowledge thru all that she has endured. Raise up people to love, encourage, & protect her. IJN Amen

Day 117 Victim 127 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts are touched by the needs, hopes, fears, and joys of Victim 127. Grant her full healing, live in peace, and strive for that which is good. Encourage, comfort, sustain her by raising up people to walk alongside her. IJN Amen

Day 118 Victim 142 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we trust that You have Victim 142 in Your loving care. All that she has been thru, You have seen, & You raise up people to care for & love. Continue to heal her. Grant her strength, confidence, & passion as she speaks & lives forward. IJN Amen

Day 119 Victim 162 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for this victim of sexual abuse. Altho unnamed, she is known to You. Grant a special measure of Your mercy, compassion, & love. Bring people alongside her to help, encourage, & comfort her. IJN Amen

Day 120 Victim 186 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious God, our hearts ache with the abuse that so many have endured. May You continue to bless Victim 186 in the healing process. On the difficult days give her strength, comfort, & encouragement. Raise up people to walk w/her. IJN Amen

Day 121 Victim 185 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may You bless Victim 185 in all ways necessary. When she is weak, be her strength; when hurting, be her healer; when discouraged, be her encouragement; when needing a friend, may she know You are a perfect friend. IJN Amen

Day 122 Victim 73 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, pray for Victim 73. Where there are hurts bring healing. When comfort is needed equip people to do so. Most importantly bring the good news of Jesus Christ, who took all sins upon Himself & gives life, hope, & love. IJN Amen

Day 123 Victim 165 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we bring another unnamed, but well known person to You for all Your help in her life. Whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual may You more than satisfy them. Grant her strength, wisdom, compassion, & joy in life. IJN Amen

Our prayers continue
Psalm for the broken but not destroyed

Prayers for Survivors — Part 7

As time passes, it is easy for many of us to think that the effects of abuse have disappeared. But we are reminded that each day these women face new challenges, grow beyond where they had been. But their pain is real, the consequences significant. This is a small reminder that not one is forgotten.

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Heavenly Father, You know the challenges and attacks that each of these people have faced. Reassure them of Your presence in Jesus Christ. Grant them strength, wisdom, and insight on how best to proceed, especially in the coming days. Refresh, restore, and renew them according to Your mercy in Jesus Christ. May they continue to be a voice for the broken, the forgotten, the voiceless. Protect their hearts when attacked, and sustain them with Your Word. 

Day 95 Taylor Livingston #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord Jesus, grant Your mercy & blessing on Taylor. Bring healing, help, strength, & comfort. In all of her work & activities may You be evident, guiding each step. Raise up people to care for her each day. IJN Amen

Day 96 Victim 163 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, while we do not know her name, You know her fully, her needs, her hurts, her desires. Grant her healing of mind, body, and soul. May she not be defined by what happened to her, but how she is growing, responding. Grant her love. IJN Amen

Day 97 Victim 183 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, a person unknown to us has faced known predators. Sustain her in healing & recovery. Grant her friends who show her kindness, listen to her, & walk w/her. May she always be welcomed in Your name & places. IJN Amen.

Day 98 Presley Allison #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, we pray for Presley in all her needs. Where there is hurt, comfort her; where challenges, strengthen her. Grant her a clear vision as she moves forward. Open opportunities for her to serve, grow, and lead. IJN Amen

Day 99 Kamerin Moore #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Faithful God, may she see Your hand guiding her, may she know Your love in Jesus. Grant her peace that passes understanding, strength from You, & a loving heart as she grows & serves regardless of circumstances. IJN Amen

Day 100 Krista Wakeman #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, may You loving and healing touch be upon Krista. On the difficult days be her Rock. Grant her days of recovery, strength, patience, and love. Surround her & her family with people who can love, comfort, & encourage. IJN Amen

Day 101 Samantha Daniels #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, today our prayers are focused on Samantha. You know all her needs, weaknesses, strengths, & areas in which she needs special help. Raise up the right people to care for, encourage, & comfort her. Grant her peace and strength. IJN Amen

Day 102 Victim 159 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for Victim 159. Nameless to us, You know here well. Grant her mercy in all phases of her life. May her voice be strong, her courage sufficient. May You continue to bless her w/those who encourage & comfort. IJN Amen

Day 103 Alliree Gingerich #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your blessing be upon Alliree today & each day. You know the places of hurt, concern, & fear. Bring her peace, hope, strength in all areas of her life. Bring into her life people of love, hope, & encouragement. IJN Amen

Day 104 Megan Farnsworth #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for all who have been abused. Today we pray for Megan and her needs. Whatever the situation, bless her work, activities, and healing. Raise up people to walk with and encourage Megan. IJN Amen

Day 105 Kourtney Weidner #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, may You continue to strengthen Kourtney each day. In loneliness be her Rock, in sadness bring gladness, in despair, bring hope & joy. May she be loved, comforted, & encouraged by those around her. IJN Amen

Day 106 A. N. #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, You know the needs for A. N., her hurts, concerns about the future, her need for love. May You more than meet them. Raise up people to care for and minister to her. Bless her family as well as they live in light of all she has been thru. IJN Amen

Day 107 Charla Burill #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious God, look with favor upon Charla in the days/years ahead. Guide her, provide people to love & care for her. Heal the wounds, comfort her & reassure her of Your love in Jesus. Bless her family as well. IJN Amen

Our prayers continue

Additional Thoughts on #Prayer-Survivors-Conquerors

This last week as I was struggling with some sickness, I let slip a day or two of prayers for the women who were abused by Larry Nassar. I had gone 87 days following that pattern. Yet I missed two days last week. 

The sickness wasn’t life threatening for me by any stretch. But with my age and the challenges this past year with adjusting to a new normal after my accident, it caught me by surprise. This thing wore me out, not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I reflected on that last night. I began thinking about the more than 200 women who had been sexually abused by Nassar, some more than 20 years ago. How many days have they faced their burdens? The weight of no one listening to them for years. And when some reported the people who could have helped never did anything. No one responded with help for them. 

I wonder how tired, overwhelmed they felt all that time? And then they faced their abuser, and yet still they are attacked, sidelined, and ignored by #MSU and #USAG and others. This was not a episode from which they would recover with a couple weeks of rest. 

This is daily, weekly, monthly, yearly —drains on the life, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That is the tiring and wearying reality of so many. My little episode pales by comparison. 

This reminds me when we pray for each of them, it is not just an instant in their lives, it is their lives. Yes, they are growing, maturing, but also hurting, angry, standing strong in public, and setting a course for many others who are beginning to address the horror, injustice, and pain.

And new names beyond the sports scandal are added to the list of abused, seemingly each day. Our prayer life is extended, not as a burden, but a necessity, a promise, a joy. They are Survivors and Conquerors. And, yes, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, these women are strong. And we stand with them as Prayer Warriors.

I am no longer sick or tired; my illness has passed. But my prayer focus for each of them continues. They all need our prayers, every day. 

If I fail to do that, Lord, forgive me, strengthen me, and even give me the appropriate words in prayer. Here is God’s promise for us as we pray:

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 NAS)

Our prayers continue

Prayers for Survivors/Conquerors—Part 5

Again a summary of prayers for those abused in the MSU and USA Gymnastics scandals. We have to remind ourselves that abuse and its consequences can affect the survivor for a long time, even a life time. These prayers are a tribute to each survivor, and a petition for mercy for each one of them and their families.

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Day 53 Lyndsy Garnet #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Jesus, Your name is above all other names. You have come for the hurting, the broken, the forgotten. May Your love surround Lyndsy each day, giving her strength and hope. Heal her. IJN Amen

Day 54 Taylor Cole #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Gracious Lord, look w/favor on Taylor each day. Whatever her concerns, hurts, anxiety, may You heal, comfort, & strengthen her. Bring people in her life to care for her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 55 Jessica Smith #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we pray for Jessica; her needs are daily, may You more than meet them. Grant her comfort, peace, & hope. Bless her & her family to heal & grow stronger, may she know love. IJN Amen

Day 56 Arianna Guerrero #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O God of hope & healing, bring all comfort, strength, & love to Arianna. Grant her days of hope, gaining an inward strength & beauty. Protect her heart & bless her & family. IJN. Amen

Day 57 Melody Posthuma Can der Veen #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors LORD, look with favor upon Melody. Heal the abuse, give her a vision of life free from the past. Encourage, comfort, strengthen her and her family. Grant her peace. IJN Amen

Day 58 Christine Harrison #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, look w/favor upon Christine in all her needs. Whatever she experiences may there be joy even in heartache. Sustain her in challenging times & fill them w/hope. IJN Amen

Day 59 Victim 153 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, we pray she who is in shadows but is known to You. We pray for Victim 153 & her family. Whatever her needs, raise up people to meet them. Strengthen, encourage, & comfort her. IJN Amen

Day 60 Victim 11 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, altho nameless to us, Victim 11 is certainly known to You. Continue to strengthen her each day as she grows beyond & above what has happened. May her past not define her, but who she is now. IJN Amen

Day 61 Victim 136 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, our hearts ache for each victim, but today especially #136. Grant her healing of physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual wounds. Raise up people to encourage, comfort, & support her. IJN Amen

Day 62 Kristen Thelen #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may this day bring new hope, added strength for Kristin. May the scars of abuse become reminders of healing, no longer chained to her abuser. May Your love surround her each day. IJN Amen

Day 63 Katie Rasmussen #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, today we pray for Katie and all her needs. Whatever they are may You abundantly provide for her. Grant her times of peace, nights of rest, and strength for each challenge. IJN Amen

Day 64 Jessica Tarrant #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors O Lord, our God, how majestic is Your name. In Your love guide, protect, & heal Jessica each day. Give her wisdom, strength, & comfort to meet every challenge. Surround her w/people of love. IJN Amen

Day 65 Mary Fisher-Follmer #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, we pray for Mary today that You would meet & surpass all her needs. Where wounds exist bring healing. Where discouragement bring hope. Where loneliness bring love & friendship. IJN Amen

Day 66 Jordyn Wieber #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, bless Jordyn today as she continues to heal & grow. Wwhat happened to her does not define her, but how she is responding. Strengthen her on difficult days, encourage her when challenged. Bless her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 67 Chelsea Zerfas #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, You know victories & fears, losses & challenges of abuse. Even more, You know the path of healing & the gifts You provide for her. May these all be for Chelsea especially today. IJN Amen

Day 68 Samantha Ursch #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, bless Samantha in her walk in freedom from abuse. Give her wisdom & strength. May You guide her, love her, & encourage her with friends who can daily support her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 69 Kara Johnson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, extend mercy in a special way today for Kara. In fears, doubts, concerns, may You be sufficient. Grant Your peace to her & her family. Bring relief & joy at the right time for her & her family. IJN Amen

Day 70 Maddie Johnson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, be present w/Maddie in special. Continue to strengthen her, & guide her. Remind her of Your love in Jesus. Bless her family as well as they journey together. Through the process may You bring newness & hope. IJN Amen

Day 71 Marie Anderson #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord God, You know the needs, hurts, & challenges Marie faces. But You also have gifted her in ways to grow thru the turmoil. Strengthen her each day. Bless her family as they provide support. IJN Amen

Day 72 Amy Labadie #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors We ask, O God, Your mercies to be new every morning for Amy. Grant healing of her heart, strengthen her in living beyond the abuse. Bless her & her family as they receive love & care. Give her hope beyond each day. IJN Amen

Day 73 Ashley Yost #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, may Your blessings flow to Ashley. Grant her healing, peace, comfort, & wisdom as she moves forward. May she experience times of joy. Bless her family as they walk w/her. You mercies are new every morning. IJN Amen

Day 74 Aly Raisman #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, thank You for strengthening Aly as she continues to speak out against abuse. Surround her w/people of love to encourage her. May You continue to heal her wounds. Use her voice to speak for many who are abused. IJN Amen

Day 75 Kassie Powell #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Heavenly Father, today our prayers are for Kassie. Whatever her needs, may You more than meet them. Strengthen her each day to meet all challenges. Grant her grace to speak truth & help others. Bless her family. IJN Amen

Day 76 Megan Ginter #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Our Father, we bring Megan before Your throne of mercy. You know her needs, hurts, desires. Grant her healing, strength, & comfort for the days ahead. Open paths for her to follow enriching others and using her gifts. IJN Amen

Day 77 Katherine Gordon #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Lord, look with favor upon Katherine. You know her needs for healing, strengthening, comforting. Raise up people to provide for her and a safe friendship in her life. Bless her family as well. IJN Amen

Day 77 #PrayerSurvivorsConquerors Supplement I am including a prayer for Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Lord, we give thanks for this conscientious judge who provided the avenue for many women to speak about abuse. May You continue to bless her & in her service. IJN Amen