Nine Days of Prayer = A Lifetime of Happiness

Here we are, four days post-wedding, and I’m feeling that letdown that happens after months of frantic activity. Since the first of July, I have followed a strict daily list – adding, rearranging, and checking things off each day. Now, I’m not sure what I should be doing with my days! Fortunately, I already have a bit of an outline (in my head, of course) for my next book, and the manuscript is formatted and ready for me to begin weaving my tale. Once my house is finally put back together and all loose ends are tied up, I will be back at my desk for eight to ten hours each day. I will still have my checklists, but they won’t be hyper-focused on wedding planning! One thing I know I will still follow from those many checklists is saying a daily novena. I’ve never been a novena person. My grandmother used to say them all the time, but I just never thought about adding one to my morning prayer time.

For those who are not familiar with the novena, it is an ancient tradition in which devotional praying is repeated every day for nine days (hence, the “nov” part). Tradition holds that the first novena was said between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost when the disciples gathered for nine days in the Upper Room and prayed before being sent into the world by the Holy Spirit. Most often, novenas are prayed to ask for the intercession of saints on behalf the person praying or persons being prayed for. Many Christian religions use novenas in prayer.

Way back in the spring, when we were all locked in our homes, I prayed my first novena. It was a novena asking for protection against the Coronavirus. When the nine days were complete, I began another novena for my nephew who was injured in a terrible accident. After that, I prayed novenas for good health for everyone coming to the wedding, for my daughter and her friends about to take the Bar Exam (which was pushed back to next week for those who might feel the inclination to offer up a prayer for Rebecca for that), and for good weather on the big day. Praying novenas became routine but never mundane. I found that I actually prayed more fervently and more devotedly when praying my novena. It wasn’t rote, it wasn’t rambling, and it wasn’t me trying to remember all of the things and people for which I had promised to pray. It was a completely different kind praying for me, and I found that I enjoyed watching my email to see which would be the next novena I was being asked to pray (here’s a great site that sends the prayer each morning).

For the past week, I’ve been praying a novena to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a favorite saint of mine. My simple intention was that we would have good weather for the wedding. Through a series of events that began back when Rebecca was in high school and ending with the pandemic restrictions, she was blessed to be granted permission to celebrate her Nuptial Mass outdoors – a rare and special occurrence. As we all watched the weather forecast leading up to Saturday, we held our breath. It did not look good. The remnants of Tropical Storm Beta were expected to be in our area by Friday afternoon, and the rain was expected to last through Saturday. We hoped for the best, and I continued to pray that St. Thérèse would join in my pleas to the Lord for good weather.

The day began in a heavy fog that draped everything in a non-ceasing mist. With only a few sporadic minutes of sun, to be quickly shrouded each time the clouds arrived with still more fog, I had no idea what the outdoor ceremony would look like. We took our family photos in the mist, feeling our hair lose its curl but not letting the moisture dampen our day.

I was beginning to panic, but my husband kept reminding me that I had to have faith. He was certain it would clear up. A lifelong waterman, Ken and his Uncle Todd, another waterman, pointed across the Bay, promising that the better weather was coming. Soon, it was time to begin. I said one last prayer to both God and St. Thérèse. Nothing more could be done. It was showtime. As we processed to our seats, the mist began to lighten. My handsome escort, my dear father, leaned over as we walked up the aisle of soft, moist grass and whispered, “Mark my words, by the time they say their vows, the sun will be out.”

We took our places and watched as my husband, Ken, led Rebecca toward Anthony, their radiant smiles blocking out all clouds. Mass began, and the readings were proclaimed. By the time Father began his homily, the mist had abated. Rebecca and Anthony then took their places in front of the altar where they repeated their vows. Father announced, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.” As they took each other in their arms, the clouds above parted, and a ray of sunlight beamed down upon their heads. Everyone was pointing, laughing, and crying. I could not have written the scene more beautifully had I imagined it in a novel. The rest of the day was just glorious.

I may never know if my faithful novenas made the difference that day. Perhaps the parting of the clouds was God’s plan all along. After all, my husband joked later that he never doubted for a moment that the sun would shine; it just tested his faith for a bit. Perhaps God wanted to remind me, as He so often does, that I needed to let go, that He was in charge, and things were going to go according to His plan. What I do know is that I’ve witnessed far too many miracles these past few months to believe in anything other than the power of prayer.

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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy,  Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).

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