Monday, April 20, 2015

just a cuppa

Thank you to all of you that stuck with me through lent as I wrote and processed the prayer of St. Ephrem.  It was one of the best lents I have had in a long time, and I think all that writing was good for me to carry the prayer around with me all day. 

So now I am considering what is my writing to be about without the wise words of St. Ephrem to guide me. 

The baby is sleeping through the night now.  I mean like 12 hrs straight sleeping. And I suddenly dont have the dying craving need for caffeine in the afternoon.  I feel like cleaning, like organizing, like getting stuff done on my to do list. 

But I still need to take a moment.  I still need to sit, to reflect, to get keep a little holy space in the middle of my day. 

So I put the kids down for rest time and I make my little cup of tea and I sit.  I check email, I click on totally stupid links from facebook, I find very useful ideas on pinterest.    But the best thing is I just sit and am here to think for just a big and rest.

And I need to write. 

I don't know what the topic will be, but I need to take some time and put down on paper (or screen) the thoughts, ideas and memories swirling in my mind. 

So I will come back here with more writing.  Maybe you will be here reading. 

I am open to suggestions.  Stories, meditations, musings?  Let me know in the comments and maybe it will kick me into my next writing goal.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

for Thou art holy, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

So we have come full circle.  I have walked through the words of this prayer and confronted my own sins and weaknesses.  I have seen the places I am tempted and come up short.  I have asked to be washed clean and forgiven.

And now we look again at the One we have been praying to.  That "Lord and Master" that we referenced way back at the beginning.  And we see that He is not only Lord of my life, right now in the nitty gritty of being a mom in 2015.  We see a glimpse of the eternal.

He is holy, set apart, unlike us but we get glimpses of His goodness in us.  And who God is- is forever.  As one of my kids used to say "No beginning and no end. "

My sloth, despair, lust of power, etc.  will come and go.  I will have struggles and then victory and one day I will go to another place where those things don't really matter.

But God, He is everlasting, without end. 

And tonight we will see Him do what we can't fathom.  We will see him conquer death. 

All these sins that pull us away from him and taint our view of the world, He will overcome them all.  He will trample them down.  He will show that there is no darkness He cannot overcome. 

When we go to church in the dark and wait for the light, we will remember this journey.  As I have prayed, I have been changed.  I am open to receive the Light, the Life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

And not to judge my brother

This line gets snickers from my boys because they have their own seasons of squabbles.  And isn't that really what we all struggle with?  Seeing the fault in others, who are really our kindred? 
This is usually the monologue running in my head:
Wow, has he gained weight.
Her kids are so wild.
She is always complaining.
He is just strange, what's wrong with him?
and on and on and on

What if I had a heart that did not judge and only saw with eyes of love?

Not that all my negative judgements would turn to positive ones--- what if I just received and accepted others as they are.  Without putting a stamp of good or bad on anything about them? 

It sounds impossible.

That's why we are praying for God to do it in us.

Because, like the phrase "you can't choose your family", we don't choose who is on this earth with us. God has made each one of them and put us together in this big global family.  There is the imprint of God on each one of us, can we take the judgemental blinders off so we can see the truth, see the light in each one? 

Help me, oh God, to not judge my brother.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Yea, oh Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin

To see my own sin.  To look in the mirror of my heart and see what is there. 

I can rationalize the things I do or don't do.  I can come up with a million reasons why it is OK for me to do what I know I shouldn't.

I often get in the trap of berating myself.  Sometimes my mental dialogue never lets me off the hook for anything.

I am really good at denial and self-loathing. 

What I am not good at is what I am praying for in this prayer.

I am praying for sight.  I am praying to see. 

And thats why St. Isaac brought back the refrain of "Lord and King".  It takes someone greater than me to help me see.  To heal my blindness that makes me either ignore my sins and faults or wallow in them.

I just need to see.  I need to have the blindfold pulled off and see with honest vision the mess of my heart. 

And thats what confession is.  I bring the bad and the ugly to God. 

And He takes care of it. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

patience and love to thy servant

In the haze of my last baby's early newborn days, I kept saying to her "I'm all yours.  We have all the time in the world.  I'm just going to pour all the love I can on you."  And I did.  I sat and looked at her sweet features.  I nursed her till we both fell asleep.  I didn't do much but love on her. 

But that "all the time in the world" is so short and fleeting.  We get a little window when its OK to ignore the demands around us and just be together. 

Now my moments are usually divided between the needs of 3 kids, a husband and all the details of life.  I am overwhelmed frequently by all that I cannot get done.

Patience and love.  Patience and love.  Patience and love.

I need to go back to that babymoon.  That time when love is in its most distilled form.  Yes, I do the dishes and laundry and errands and bills because I love all these people.  But its not done in that same spirit of timeless, unrushed love.

Love is patient, love is kind.  When we can hush the clamoring of the daily needs and demands, we can hear the heartbeat of love. 

We have time to love.  We have time to look in those eyes.  We have time to say "I love you" one more time.  We have time to listen to a story again. 

Patience with those I love- giving them the gift of time.  Patience with myself- giving myself grace for all I won't get done today.  I'm busy loving.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

humility

I am thinking of that scene from Charlotte's Web, when Charlotte is explaining what the word humble means.  Low to the ground was one way of explaining it.

As a mama, I am often low to the ground.  Just today I have squatted pulling weeds, kneeled scraping off stickers from the floor, sat on the bathroom linoleum and read books aloud.  All these things lower me physically, but they don't necessarily  make me humble.

I think mothers struggle as much as anyone with humility.  C.S. Lewis said :

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less."

 In my experience, there are many ditches along the humble road.  One ditch is to think your way of _________ is the right way.  How you put your baby to bed, how you feed your family, how you handle TV, church, school, etc.   All these have the potential for a mom to feel she has the answers and that others need to know the truth.  These moms are no fun to be around for much time because inevitably something you are talking about will run into an area of their expertise and advice will be freely given, whether you want it or not.  I have been the mom on both ends of that exchange. 

 Another ditch is despair. Its refrain is usually something like "I never do anything right."  The house is a mess, the laundry is piled high, the bills are late, dinner is burnt, my kid cant read yet, my kid throws tantrums, my friends don't call me.  On and on the vortex of despair goes down and down.  There is nothing good to be seen and all the bad is glaring in my face.  And as Lewis said so wisely, this person isn't truly humble because when you are in that spiral you are thinking about yourself all the time. Yup, I have been that mom too.  

These ditches can both come under the dangerous habit of comparing ourselves to others.  I really admire my friends now who are skilled at really listening in a conversation and not comparing their children or house or family to the speaker's situation.  It is hard to do, our bent is to see if we measure up to others.  But a friend once told me, when you compare, it never comes out even.  Either you will be raised up higher or brought down lower than the other person.  

So how can we be humble?  Again, some wonderful words from CS Lewis:

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, swarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seems a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

 Its simplicity is daunting:  don't spend so much time thinking about myself.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

a spirit of chastity

I grew up in the age of "True Love Waits", so like most of you, when I hear the word chastity I think of sexual abstinence before marriage.  After 17 years of marriage and 3 children, that definition is not one that I meditate on as much.

Now, when I pray the prayer of St. Ephrem, I use the more general meaning of "self-restraint" or "self-denial".  Wow, none of the above definitions are ones we see encouraged in popular culture.  Go with your feelings, do what makes you feel good is the mantra we are fed each day. 

We need God's help in this.  Our perception of when to say "enough" is so skewed, we need Him to speak to our hearts and say stop. 

My little toddler is at the stage where she can see the edge of the countertop, but not what is on it.  So she will see a handle and not know that it is a knife.  She reaches up and grabs blindly because of the whims of her desires.  But I see from above and I see the danger and I intervene.

 We need God to do that for us.  We do not have the divine perspective, so we depend on his guidelines, his gentle boundaries to keep us safe. 

For some it is sexual sin, for some it is eating, for some it is too much T.V or video games.  We all have things we have trouble saying no to, or saying "That's enough".  

But like a loving parent, God will give us what we need.  He will give us strength and the prompting of the Holy Spirit so that our hearts can be safe from the things that would hurt us.