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Raphaella's “Prayer for Joy”

Dear God,

You already know what I want
I ask only that I may be joyful
regardless of my situation
or circumstance

Thy will be done

I am grateful for all the blessings in my life - 
Everything in my life is a blessing.

During my first winter in Ashland, about six months after my move from L.A., I had a rough period I refer to as the “dark night of the Soul.” As I withdrew the last of my IRA money, my fear began to take hold in my belly. Sales dropped, which increased the fear. As I wrestled with sleep each night, I asked myself, “What have I done?” “Have I lost my mind?” “Why couldn't I have been a ‘normal’ person who stays married, has kids and lives happily ever after in a house in Minnesota?” To follow my dreams, I moved far away from family and friends to small community in Southern Oregon where I had no support. To top it all off, it was during this same winter that I began menopause.

The good news is that I am a survivor. So after a few weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I knew I had to take action. Two things: I needed to be around people, and I needed to find a spiritual community in Ashland. I picked the First United Methodist Church of Ashland because, in the newspaper, it had the biggest list of social activities. I was already grounded in my own faith and had been devoted to God all of my life. So, picking a spiritual community in this way was fine for me. What a blessing I was given to have found them. I went to everything. One night in Bible study, a woman shared a story about wanting to be pregnant so that her second child would be born exactly two years after her first child. It wasn't happening and after being upset about it and stressed, she finally let it go. She surrendered to God's will and decided she'd just be happy with whatever happened. I went home and wrote the “Prayer for Joy” - which I made about 20 copies of and put it up all over my house. Throughout the next two to three weeks, I said that prayer continuously. And I did my part to give my fear to God every time I felt it.

One day in the Spring I noticed how much joy I felt every day to be alive. I was just plain happy. Then I remembered the prayer I'd prayed day in and day out that winter. I knew grace had been given to me and my prayers had been granted. I had learned what it really means to “let go and let God” and I know surrender is a lot easier to do when you don't have to. God bless God. I am so grateful to have had that experience and the lessons I learned along the way.

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