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Ink Slingers Martina Mom So Hard Series

Finding the One Thing that Slows Me Down

MOM SO HARD Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family

It’s been an arduous journey, friends, but I have to think if I didn’t have the large family that I do, I might not have figured out as neatly what the single biggest trigger for being unproductive could be for me. The One Thing…

How is that? And how did having a large family help uncover the One Thing that Slows me down?

Stress and overwhelm seem to be part and parcel to the gig of motherhood. Add to that, if you are a stay at home mom, there is less opportunity to break away for much needed self care. As a former working mom, from wedding photographer, to working in the same industry as my husband, and teaching kindergarten before returning home to care for our endless stream of kiddos since the early 2000s, I have noticed that self care as a stay at home isn’t just essential, it ought to be right there on the grocery list with staples like milk and bread. 

::It OUGHT to be:: 

But it rarely is. For years, friends, I struggled with even knowing there was one thing that was responsible for my stress. It was my inability (though I tried) to get places on time.

It was probably more than 10 years ago that I inadvertently discovered that I don’t like being late to meetings and such – yes, I was (and still am) a stay at home mom, but my commitments came in the form of volunteering at church, including being chairperson of our parish council for two of my three year term, working closely with our parish priests, and giving birth to two babies in that duration of service. I also began Catholic Sistas and noticed that in order to effectively run it, I would have to step up my game. Being on time, I reasoned, was a signature way for me to let others know how I felt about their time…and mine. It was valuable and not something to squander by being late.

Bit by bit, it crept into my everyday. I noticed I don’t like for our family to be late to Mass, to events, to school (my kids almost everyday arrive a full 30 minutes before school starts), and even activities. 

We are often the first ones to arrive at social events, much to my German descent husband’s chagrin I know he’d rather be “fashionably late” every once in a while.

I have often found myself applying this principle to a lot of my life. The newest phase is to think about holidays and birthdays and such further in advance. The goal isn’t to have the plans all laid out, but start the plan well in advance and circle back to it as the event/s get closer. All of this has helped tremendously with reducing a significant stress in my life, and when you have a gaggle of children all depending on you to prioritize your time, this is the one thing that slows me down when I don’t order my time well.

What is the one thing you’ve found that slows you down, friend?

Finding the One Thing that Slows Me Down

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Michelle Spiritual Growth Vocations

How Do You Measure a Day?

to-do-listI often go to bed at night thinking of all the things I need to accomplish the next day. In fact, sometimes I fall asleep without finishing those thoughts. When I wake the next morning many times it’s with a groan of despair thinking of all those items I need to check off my list for the day.

How many of you also make to-do lists, either mentally or written out? If you are like me, it seems as if that list is never complete. At the end of the day it is rare that I have checked off all my to-do items. Most of the time I look at the unfinished list and I feel like a failure. Why couldn’t I do more? Where could I change? I know I have some lazy down time in my days; why am I not more productive?

That night I go to bed thinking of the things I didn’t do as well as the things on my list for the next day. The list just gets longer as I tack on the unfinished chores from today onto tomorrow list. It’s a never-ending cycle.

How do you measure a day?

timeWe all have the same amount of time in a day. There are different ways to measure it though. We know that a full day is 24 hours long. This works out to be 1440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. We can measure a day from sun up to sun down or from the time we rise to the time we retire. Every day is the same. We each get the same amount of time; it never changes.

It’s easy to look at our day and see all the things we did not get done. It’s easy to measure our day by our failures and shortcomings. But maybe there is a better way to measure what a day truly is.

Instead of measuring the day by the number of hours, minutes, or seconds we have, we should measure the day by the number of times we smiled, laughed, and rejoiced. Instead of measuring the day from sun up to sun down, we could measure the day by how often we uplifted those who were feeling down. Instead of measuring the day from the time we rise to the time we retire, we can measure the day by the number of times we lift our hands to the heavens to thank God for His gifts.

20150217_183743Our daily list of things to do should include more than just the chores and the mundane aspects of life. I propose that our to-do lists include the more important daily goals- finding God in the beauty around us, making our children smile, doing something nice for someone else, giving ourselves a compliment, making lasting memories with those who mean the most to me, sharing God’s love with those around us. When we do this we stand to make our days more meaningful and more joyful. We also stand to accomplish more on our list than if it is simply a list of chores. When we find joy in what we are doing we are more likely to actually do it!

How do you measure a day?

I am striving to measure my day by counting the moments that take my breath away; by reveling in the smiles and silliness that take over my home; by cherishing the love that I both give and receive; and by finding God’s glory in both the good I encounter and the difficulties I endure.  I know by spending the time I am blessed with in this manner I am sure take advantage of every moment with my family, with my friends, and with my Savior. That sounds like a more productive way to measure my day.

Categories
Conversion Discipleship Faith Formation Ink Slingers Jesus Is Lord Jesus Is Lord course Martina Series

Jesus Is Lord of My Time {Week Seven}

TIMEchrist-king3Welcome to the Jesus Is Lord series, a course offered for adults at St. William Catholic Church in Round Rock, Texas.

If this is your first time visiting this series, I encourage you to take a few moments and read through the series introduction that will give a clear picture of the purpose and content of the Jesus Is Lord course. The introduction post not only outlines the course, but goes over the motivation to share in this class on the internet. 

Last week’s class was the Jesus Is Lord of My Talent. If you would prefer to watch this class, please scroll to the bottom. Keep in mind the recorded classes are not from our current semester and contain testimonies from different people than what’s presented in the text below. Check back next week which will cover Jesus Is Lord of My Treasure. 

 

RECAP FROM LAST WEEK

MORE ON TALENT???

This evening Noe spent the first ten minutes connecting the theme of Talent to Time.

In reading Acts 2:37-42, we see that the Apostles ask

What are we supposed to do?

Verse 38Peter (said) to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you…

Verse 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day. – In addition to the 120 in the upper room, the Catholic Church began with some 3120 people.

 

Verse 42: They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. 

Once they made Jesus Lord, their time was now spent in a different way.

They started to do things they didn’t do before …and probably stopped doing things they were doing before in order to follow Christ more closely.

 

Type A Catholics {visit link to review graphics} are submissive to Jesus when they get off the throne and allow Jesus to sit there.

The first thing Jesus does is to have us turn in our calendars so He can tell us what to put in our calendar.

 

Going to Mass isn’t the end of what’s asked of us. We’re always working on our relationship with Christ – we want to adopt the come early, stay late mentality.

 

HOW: There are several ways you can connect continually beyond Mass – Sunday readings done Saturday night, come early to Mass, wear proper attire, go to confession each month. You recommit to the Lord through confession, so it’s important to form that spiritually healing habit of going to confession.

Some read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about confession in paragraph 1457 and stop reading…

1457    According to the Church’s command, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year. Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time. (2042,1385)

…after they read “once a year” – BUT, what they fail to do is continue reading…don’t be the person who stops reading.

1458    Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful: (17832468)

Pope John Paul II expanded on this, emphasizing the need for the faithful to make confession a regular, monthly habit because it can only serve to help

  • Form our conscience
  • Fight against evil tendencies
  • Let ourselves be healed by Christ
  • And progress in the life of the Spirit
  • We are spurred to be merciful

Our spiritual antennae are prepared to hear what the Holy Spirit wants to tell us.

Now we will learn how to make private personal prayer time each day…and look forward to our date with the Lord.

TEACHING

FATHER UCHE gave the talk on Jesus is Lord of My Time, which covers a brief overview of Lectio Divina.

To start, Father Uche mentions that in seminary, he had an altar with Mary…everywhere.

These days he still has his special place for prayer, in his bedroom. He has his Jesus space, which includes his chair that faces the crucifix.

He says, create a space, no matter how small or decorated. Put items in your space that remind you that this is your secret meeting place with Jesus – where you come and meet with Him in private.

Tonight we will be covering prayer, specifically Lectio Divina. All this big word means  is “praying with the Words of God.” Praying with Scripture.

There are certain things that are important when it comes to praying with God. As children, we learned how to pray, but sometimes we take that approach into our adult years. Our attention tonight will call us to pray more maturely.

Whose initiates prayer?

God calls man first.

2567    God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation. (30142)

When it comes to prayer, God is always at our meeting spot before us because we come at His invitation. All we have to do when we enter prayer is say “I am here.

If your prayer life is off, there is a tug there. Never forget that God is always waiting for us. We don’t have to wait to grab His attention.

Relational Prayer

A-R-R-R

St. Teresa of Avila said, “For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.” The A-R-R-R prayer is a simple method of coming to the Lord as you are. It can be used almost any time of the day and in just about any circumstance. It can also be used within any other method of prayer such as Lectio Divina or Ignatian Contemplation as a way of conversing with the Lord. The A-R-R-R stands for different movements within the prayer: Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, Respond.

Acknowledge: Openly and honestly without prejudice acknowledge how you are before God. What are you experiencing? What is moving in your heart? Be completely honest with how you are – had a bad day? Say so – don’t mince words. Joyful? Acknowledge where you are first…exactly where you are in that moment. God wants to know.

Marian exampleAt the Annunciation Mary was “troubled” and pondered what the words of the Angel meant.

Relate:  Bring yourself as you are into relationship with God by relating your experience to Him. Speak to him from your heart. This can be hard for Catholics because we are taught from an early age to say rote prayers, structured prayers. And rote prayers are good…but it shouldn’t take away our ability to speak to God from our heart. To just let our heart speak to Him and not treat God like we treat other people – being false. Let Him know the good or the bad.

Marian example: At the Annunciation Mary asked, “How can this be?”

Receive: Listen to what God is doing with the movements of your heart. Receive his presence and the constancy of his love. When you truly enter into prayer, God is there. And you will know that He is there. When you speak to Him from your heart, He will speak to you with the movements of your heart, with the constancy of His love. His love is not on a scale, affected by emotions. It’s always there, it will never be taken away. The only condition that changes it is if you intentionally reject it. Even then, His love is still there. Sometimes we rattle off what we want – and that does not allow God to speak to you. Yes, He will listen to our laundry list of wants, but we should not be so rude as to not let Him have input on our list…or even just say hello!

Let God communicate with you the way that He chooses to – don’t put parameters and expectations on how you think He should communicate with you. If you talk to Him the way you want to, let Him talk to you the way He wants, too.

Marian example: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.”

Respond: What we receive impels us to respond in gratitude and with renewed heart. Pour yourself out in thanksgiving. It is a very important part of our prayer life. Thank Him for the simple things…like good, hot coffee. Thank you for giving me the privilege of knowing You and experiencing you in prayer. Simple. Little things. Pour out yourself in prayer to Him.

Marian example: Mary’s fiat, “May it be done unto me…”

A-R-R-R is the basic structure of how we pray. Follow this structure and it will give foundation to your prayer.

LECTIO DIVINA

Lectio – reading: LECTIO DIVINA begins with a prayerful reading of Scripture. This prayerful reading differs greatly from the fast and cursory reading of novels or magazines. It is different from the information-gathering task of reading textbooks or instruction manuals. There is a reverential and prayerful listening; that accompanies the reading. With a spirit of silence and hopeful anticipation, I listen for the words that speak to me personally and intimately. In lectio I read slowly and attentively, honing in on the word or phrase that attracts me, draws me; the words with which God is inviting me to rest.  

The approach is not I have to finish this chapter in two minutes, but instead it’s I have to read these nine chapters and I can spend 10 minutes on chapter one if I want.

The Fathers of the Church have an analogy – so a cow chews on cud, we, too, ruminate…or chew on the words we read. Let the readings strike at your heart as they will. Listen for the words that speak to you personally and intimately. Listen.

Meditatio – meditationONCE WE have found a word or a passage in the Scriptures that speak to us in a personal way, we must take it in and ruminate on it. The image of the ruminant animal quietly chewing its cud was used in antiquity as a symbol of the Christian pondering the Word of God. Christians have always seen a scriptural invitation to lectio divina in the example of the Virgin Mary “pondering in her heart” what she saw and heard of Christ {Luke 2:19}. For us today these images are a reminder that we must take in the word – that is memorize it – and while gently repeating it to ourselves, allow it to interact with our thoughts, our hopes, our memories, our desires. This is the second step or stage in lectio divina – meditate. Through meditate we allow God’s word to become His word for us, a word that touches us and affects us at our deepest levels. 

Think of Scripture that causes you to listen and ruminate. You went to Mass and heard the readings. One line stood out. Use that to reflect and listen

Oratio – prayerTHE THIRD step in lectio divina is oratio – prayer understood both as dialogue with God, that is, as loving conversation with the One who has invited us into His embrace, and an offering to God our very selves including our thoughts, feelings, desires, fears and weaknesses. We allow our real selves to be touched and changed by the word of God.

When we have chewed on it for a while – we let those words lead us in prayer, and we take our real selves to God. God can’t take our bad habits away if we don’t bring them to Him. We have to give them up.

Contemplatio – contemplationFINALLY, WE simply rest in the presence of the One who has used His word as a means of inviting us to accept His transforming embrace. No one who has ever been in love needs to be reminded that there are moments in loving relationships when words are unnecessary. It is the same in our relationship with God. Wordless, quiet rest in the presence of the One Who loves us has a name in the Christian tradition – contemplate, contemplation. Once again we practice silence, letting go of our words – simply enjoying the experience of being in the presence of God.

There are moments in relationships when words aren’t necessary. Simply enjoy being in the presence of God. Come to a place where you can enjoy this level of prayer. This is intimacy that allows you to simply enjoy each other’s company. Rest in His lap and go to sleep if you want. Just. Be.

This is what we are going to practice.

You’ll need your Bible and the passage is John 4:4-26 – take 20 minutes. You don’t have to read through verse 26.

Read, chew, and see what the Lord wants to say to you. 

Feel free to utilize your 20 minutes in any place that is quiet – attendees scattered throughout the campus to find quiet places, from in front of the tabernacle in the main church to the Adoration chapel, the small chapel, outside on the stone benches…anywhere you can find a nice, quiet place. Do not rush through this step or skip over it.

SMALL GROUP

  • PRAYER
  • QUESTIONS
    1. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE DAY OF THE HOMEWORK? {read and share why}
    2. ANY COMMENTS ON PRAYING FOR YOUR PARTNER?
    3. WHAT STRUCK YOU ABOUT THE PRESENTATION?
  • HOMEWORK – Each day from here on out through the rest of the class you will read and reflect on the daily readings or the reflections from One Bread, One Body. You can access them by going to the USCCB’s website OR you can download the Laudate app {available on iPhones and Android}. The One Bread, One Body reflections can be accessed through the Laudate app by going through Daily Readings => Reflections.

For more reflection, click to download Praying with Scripture.

SUMMARY

Homework is to be done daily – reflect on Scripture and Jesus Is Lord of My Time through the week. If you are in a group, pair up two or three and commit to pray daily for your prayer partner. Small groups come together for a few minutes of question and answer in the large group. If you have any questions, please leave a comment in the combox below so that we can help in any way possible.

CONCLUSION

Prayer of Abandonment

Father,
I abandon myself into Your hands;
do with me what You will.
Whatever You may do, I thank You:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only Your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into Your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to You with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into Your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for You are my Father.

Charles de Foucauld

OPTIONS: To view the class from a previously recorded semester, click here