Pocket Prayers

By Linda Waltersdorf Cobourn, EdD


Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

An Unexpected Call

My cell phone rang, interrupting the presentation I was giving in my graduate class. I looked at Dr. Beeghly apologetically. “Only my kids have this number,” I said. “And they know I have class tonight. They would only call if it was an emergency.”

My instructor nodded. “Take it in the hallway.”

I felt my heartbeat quicken as I stopped out of the classroom. Ever since my husband’s car accident several years ago, emergency phone calls had punctuated my daily life. I had learned to live with the storms.  I pushed the answer button and said, “Hello.”

“Mom,” said my daughter Bonnie, “we’re at the Emergency Room. Dad’s incision opened up and started to bleed. The doctor says it looks bad.”

I forced myself to remain calm. I got the information from my daughter, ended the call, and walked back into my classroom. Quietly, I approached the professor.

“I need to leave,” I told her. “My kids have taken my husband to the hospital.” I took a deep breath. “I’ll finish my presentation next week.”

Well aware of Ron’s health issues, Dr. Beeghly  said,  “Go take care of your family. And you have your A.”

I quickly gathered my coat and book bag and left Radisson Hall. Crossing the quad to the parking lot, I began reciting Max Lucado’s “pocket prayer.”

God ,you are good. I love you. I need help. Please handle this. Thank you.


A Night at Sea

Ron’s frequent hospitalizations often left me feeling as if I was in a violent storm with no end in sight, and as I headed towards Crozer Chester Medical Center that night, I recalled the story of the Apostle Paul in Acts 27. Despite the violent seas that threatened to end the lives of all on board the ship, Paul insisted that thanks be given to God. While the Nor’easter beared down on them, Paul urged the sailors to eat and keep up their strength for what was going to be a long night. He took bread and “gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat “ (Acts 27:35, NIV).

The ship survived the night. When morning came, land was spotted and the sailors tried to run the ship aground but were prevented by a sandbar. All aboard, including the prisoners, were instructed to jump overboard and swim. All 276 souls survived and made it to the beach. 

Paul’s prayer was not a magic formula for success. He offered his prayer in the midst of dire circumstances. He didn’t need to be thankful for the storm or the possibility of drowning. He needed to be thankful for God.


As I pulled into the parking lot of the Emergency Room, an all-too-familiar setting, I listed what I could be thankful for. I had no idea how Ron was doing or what was happening to him, but there were things I DID know.

  1. Bonnie and Allen had been home when Ron’s incision split open.
  2. Bonnie had a car and Allen was able to help get his dad into it.
  3. My kids knew what to do in an emergency. They did not panic.

And I, too, knew what to do in an emergency. 

God, you are good. God, you are great. I love You. I trust You. I need help. Ron needs help. Thank you for handling this.

I had no idea what awaited me beyond the doors of the hospital but I did know that I could continue to trust and thank God for His presence in this latest storm.


As Pastor Cliff pointed out to us this past Sunday, we don’t need to thank God for the storms of our lives. During the long years of Ron’s illnesses and surgeries, it never occurred to me that they were things I needed to be thankful for. But I did–and continue to–thank Him for His abiding presence in my life, the strength He gave me to survive so many of  life’s storms, and the love for my husband that continues three years after Ron went Home to Heaven.

In all things, we can thank God. Just because He is God.


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Linda Cobourn

Linda Cobourn picked up a pencil when she was nine and hasn’t stopped writing since, but she never expected to write about adult autism and grief. When her husband died after a long illness, she began a remarkable journey of faith with her son, an adult with Asperger’s syndrome. The author of Tap Dancing in Church, Crazy: A Diary, and Scenes from a Quirky Life, she holds an MEd in Reading and an EdD in Literacy. Dr. Cobourn also writes for Aspirations, a newsletter for parents of autistic offspring. Her work in progress, tentatively titled Finding Dad: A Journey of Faith on the Autism Spectrum, chronicles her son’s unique grief journey. Dr Cobourn teaches English as a Second Language in Philadelphia and lives with her son and a fat cat named Butterscotch in Delaware County. She can be contacted on her blog, Quirky, and her Amazon author page.