Philippians 4:6-7

peaceful-morning

 Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

There is just so much here. Every word in these two verses is just amazing to me.

First of all, Be anxious for nothing. How can one even do that? Anxious for nothing? I’m anxious just thinking about that. Will things still get done if I am not anxious about stuff? But in those little words, I feel like God is placing His hand on my shoulder and saying, “Just calm down now.”

But in everything – yes, everything. Yes, that other thing too.

By prayer and supplication – interesting, this separated prayer and supplication. According to the dictionary, supplicate means “to ask for earnestly and humbly” and “to make humble entreaty, to pray to God.” So prayer and supplication mean sort of the same thing, but I think that the repetition here is more to remind me to  let my prayers not only be about asking for favors. My prayer is my part in my relationship with God. Let it include true communication, sharing of my heart and reception of His. When there is asking to be done, let it be done humbly. I guess that means as part of that back and forth communication and not as bossing God around. (As a mom, I’m pretty good at directing people, a.k.a. bossing around.)

With thanksgiving – How telling is it of me that when I recite this verse I almost always forget this phrase? Then I get to the end and it feels like it was too short so I go back and realize my mistake. That about sums up my life. I always forget the thanksgiving part. But that is part of the prayer, part of the relationship laid out on this verse.

Let your requests be made known to God – There’s that praying thing again. But it restates that we can ask, request of him. Here is the tricky part for me on this one: I can pray for my children, my husband, my friends, but I slow down when it comes to my own desires. Those count too.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension – Go back to that anxiety part at the beginning of this verse. How does it feel now? God’s peace is more than we could ever understand or grasp and…

Will guard your heart and mind – The words “peace” and “guard” just don’t seem to go together well. If peace is going to be doing something, it seems like it would be a lot more passive than guarding. But this is God’s peace, which we just found out we cannot understand. This peace guards our hearts and minds when we are in communication (prayer and supplication) with God. This surrounds our hearts and keeps away the anxiety, or helps us to recognize it and hand it back over.

In Christ Jesus – Through Him, with Him, in Him. The whole of His life, death, and resurrection is here. We walk through that to communicate with Him.

 

*Just a reminder, this is no official teaching, this is just my take on one verse, how I kind of pray my way through it and meditate on it.

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 40:11

Romney_sheep,_ewe_with_triplet_lambs_in_New_Zealand

Isaiah 40:11
He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in His arms, He will carry them in His bosom, and He will gently lead those that are with young.

He will gently lead those that are with young.

He knows. He knows being a mom is hard and that I am trying to pray but I keep falling asleep. He will gently lead me.

He knows I lose my patience over really stupid things like only being able to find one of every pair of shoes a certain child owns when we are already late for school. He will gently lead.

He knows that I worked really hard to make a nice dinner for the family and then my husband had to work late and missed it and I had to go pick up a child from school and I missed it too. He will gently lead me.

He knows the baby is sick and just wants to be held today, and I didn’t get a chance to do my bible study. He will gently lead.

He knows that life is messy and that it is extra messy when you are “with young” and your dryer is broken.

He knows. He will slow down and wait for me. He is gently leading.

Jars: Part 2

I turned 40 last year.  It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but the importance of that is growing on me as the year passes.  (And oh, it’s passing too fast!)  I’m not what I once was.  I’m still me, don’t get me wrong, and a better me at that.  But in my younger years, it seemed like maintaining good health and more importantly, a healthy spirit, came so naturally.  I didn’t have to work to really take care of myself.  Maybe I should have done more then, but I didn’t and I could slide by okay.  Now it seems like I need a whole lot of maintenance.  I need to make sure I eat right and get some exercise, or I can barely drag myself out of bed. I need to journal my thoughts and feelings, read delightful books, create beautiful things, and talk about what is bothering me or I find myself getting bitter and depressed.

These certainly aren’t new activities for me.  But they have moved from things I do when I have time or a little extra energy to things that I can not live without – can not thrive without. Which brings me back to Jars.In part one of Jars, I shared the story of the Widow and the Oil and talked about how God will supply what I lack when I offer Him those things that are important to me and ask Him to fill me up through them.  I listed my children, my husband, my home, my toys.  But I’m pretty important to me too, although sometimes you wouldn’t know it from how I drag myself around.  God is using all those other things to fill me up, but it’s not just up to Him. The next passage I ran into with jars in it was the story of the 10 Virgins.

Matthew 25:1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.  Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

 

The foolish maidens ran out of oil.  I feel so often like I am out of oil. I scramble around on Sunday to get everyone ready for mass, only to arrive and realize that I forget to get myself ready – in spirit – for mass.  So all the grace that is poured out on me seems to just spill all over the floor since I wasn’t prepared to catch it. Some days the kids are whiny and needy.  It feels like I break up one fight or tantrum after another.  They need me to pour out God’s grace on them, into their little empty jars, but I am empty too.

The Widow was blessed for providing empty jars, and the foolish maidens were left out of the wedding feast because they ran out.  So how can I stock up on oil so that I am prepared for a long wait like the maidens had?  How can I be ready to recieve the oil that God provides?

The answer to the second question is the easiest – and the hardest.  How can I be ready to receive the oil that God provides? I need confession.  My sins fasten little lids to my jars.  My selfish attitudes, my carelessly spoken words, and my fallenness ensure that nothing gets into my jar.  No grace, no oil.  When I see myself for what I really am, just some crazy, messed up, fallen sinner, and remember that Jesus looked at me in that very state and decided to die for me and take all that on Himself it becomes a little easier to relinquish my strangle hold on how I think things should go. I reorient myself towards Him and reconcile with Him through His beautiful sacrament of confession. The lids on my jars are removed and I am ready for Him to pour the grace into them.  Confession itself is grace, but it also prepares us to store up more grace by being open to Jesus by reconciling with Him.

Now the first question: how can I stock up on oil so that I am prepared for a long wait like the maidens had? I started this post talking about that sort of thing.  I need to take care of myself.  I need to gather up the jars to be filled by journaling out bad thinking, getting some exercise, enjoying the beauty around me, and (the hard one!) getting enough rest. More important even than those is prayer.  I am still learning this and am quite the beginner in really understanding what it even means.

What that means for me right now it that I set aside a half hour in the first thing in the morning for prayer and bible study, and some time later in the day for some other spiritual reading and prayer.  On the few days that I have missed spending this time, I have regretted it most of the day.  I feel unsettled all day and often can’t put my finger on what is wrong with me.

The more I spend time listening, the more I really sense God speaking to me, guiding me, and filling my jars. I have a lot of work to do – or rather He has a lot to work on in me. But day by day He is reminding me that He is walking right with me.  “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” And He helps me keep my jars full too.

Use More Soap

Person Washing Hands with Soap in WashbasinI am horrible at paying attention in Mass. Even on the rare occasions when I don’t have one or more children trying to crawl up my skirt, test the acoustics with high pitched shrieks, or shred the missalette, I have a tendency to get a little bit distracted.

The Catholic Mass is so beautifully steeped in scripture. The church has connected readings from Old and New Testaments and Psalms for each Sunday on a three year cycle (and weekdays on a two year cycle). They fit the liturgical seasons and lead us through the life of Christ and relate the history of God’s people to the whole salvation story.

It is such a feast for the soul, set right before me, and I miss a lot of it.

Studying the Sunday readings before Mass helps me to retain focus through thrashing toddlers and my own mental gymnastics.

One of the ways I have found to do that is to follow the SOAP technique. It also roughly follows a pattern for Lectio Divina, which is also a beautiful way to make the scriptures a part of our prayer and thoughts.

SOAP stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. Here is how it works:

Read the readings for the upcoming Sunday and follow these steps for each:

Scripture – Write the verse or verses that stuck out to you and why.

Observation – Here is where the STUDY part of the Bible study comes in.  This can be as simple or as complicated as you choose (or have time) to make it.  It might be one sentence, it might be pages. Some suggestions:

  • Write down a list of what happens in the passage.
  • Look at the notes in your bible and the introduction to the book, what can you learn about the author, the time, and the context of the passage?
  • Make a list of adjectives, traits of God, or other things listed.
  • Can you find any other similar phrasings or stories in the bible?
  • Make a list of Truths, Commands, and Promises.
  • Make up your own way to study this passage.

Application – How can you apply this to your life today?  How does this affirm something you are already doing?  What changes does this call for you to make?

Prayer – Write a prayer to God based on what you just learned and ask Him to help you apply this truth to your life.  Choose one verse or several. You may want to do one for each of the readings, you may just want to do one, but try to carry your study into your prayers with you.

Example:  Titus 3:2 They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone.
Made into a prayer: Help me to avoid gossip, to pursue peace, and to be considerate and gracious to all, even those I don’t like.

Because my mornings are very time constrained, I made a little worksheet to keep me on track, here it is for your use too, both half and full sheets:
SOAP Full Page
SOAP Half Page

My Morning

Since early last summer, I have been waking up early. Well, with all these kids, I have been getting up early for years, but this year I made it an intentional time of bible study and prayer, as well as planning my day so I could act on it instead of falling into a pattern of reacting to whatever life threw at me. It’s an idea I have tried many times in the past, but the book Maximize Your Mornings helped me find a way to make it work this time. Summer was easy. I set my alarm and even if the kids woke up, they could just play while I had my time with God and planned my day.

When school started I tried to have my time at nap time. But since real nap time is a rarity around here, that fell flat quickly. Morning was chaos, since the baby would wake up as soon as I got out of bed. Finally, desperate to find the time, I asked my husband if, when he didn’t have to work super early, he could handle the kids until 6am. He was happy to help!

When I first read Maximize Your Mornings, I dismissed it as something that just wouldn’t work for me. She just had no idea what my life was like. But slowly, I was able to integrate some her ideas into my day in my own way. I changed some things, because nobody else’s plan is going to completely fit someone else’s life. My plan probably won’t fit yours. But that is not a reason not to try something. Maybe you do far more than I do, and my plan looks like preschool to you… no matter, we are all on this path, trying to grow closer to the heart of our Lord.

Here is how my morning goes (or tries to):
5:20am – My alarm goes off, I put my thermometer in my mouth and head to the bathroom. I get my coffee, say my morning offering, and sit down at the table with coffee, notebook, kindle, and bible.
5:30 – I’m all set. I start my bible study, depending on the day I am working either on the Sunday readings or a topical bible study. Read, underline, pray, make some notes… I try to fill one half sheet of paper with notes, using some worksheets I made to keep me on track:  SOAP/Topical Half Page .
5:50 or so – Planning time. I check my Weekly Overview and fill out my Daily Page. I put my daily page up on my clipboard on the wall, so I can read it and check things off through the day.
6am – Start getting the kids up are ready for school. I aim to get my shower in between 6 and 6:30, but it depends on how much help the kids need at this time.

One thing this plan hinges on is that I have filled out my weekly overview ahead of time, so my planning time in the morning doesn’t involve really doing the planning so much as reviewing it. I fill out my weekly overview on Fridays for the upcoming week. I confess that I am addicted to that little piece of paper. There are always mornings that, as I do my planning, I know that something is going to have to change – I might need to schedule a doctor appointment and not know when we will get in for example, but when I plan, I know to leave plenty of space for possibilities.

And then it is busy, busy, busy the rest of the day. But having this time in the morning gives me a little more resilience to make it through and helps me to keep my focus on God and making my work a prayer.

I’ll tell you more about what I do with my bible study worksheets in another post. I’m also working on a page to list all these resources and others I use as well.

Jars

Jars of Clay

I have mentioned before that this year has been a little overwhelming, although I am starting to think that this is just the new normal for us.  With nine children, that gives us eleven people worth of possible drama and crisis in the family. So even if only a few of them are doing their share of it, that keeps us hopping.

With the idea of just dealing with this as our normal life, I realized that I needed to build myself up a little, strengthen my coping muscles, and make sure I was ready to deal with a little extra – not just running on a nearly empty tank all the time. I wasn’t sure how to do that, or even how to start.  Then I hit what seemed to be a theme in my bible study: Jars.

Here’s my disclaimer again: I know I am no scripture scholar, and even my husband thinks I’m a little crazy to tie some of these particular scriptures together.  I think his exact words were, “You know, not every bible verse is speaking directly to YOU.”  Hmph. But I bounced these ideas off of a couple other moms and they seemed to understand. So take it all with a grain of salt and see if it makes any sense to you.

The first instance of jars I ran into was the Story of the Widow and the Oil. 2 Kings 4:1-7

A certain woman, the widow of one of the guild prophets, cried out to Elisha: “My husband, your servant, is dead. You know that he revered the LORD, yet now his creditor has come to take my two children into servitude.”Elisha answered her, “What am I to do for you? Tell me what you have in the house.” She replied, “This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil.”  He said, “Go out, borrow vessels from all your neighbors—as many empty vessels as you can.  Then come back and close the door on yourself and your children; pour the oil into all the vessels, and as each is filled, set it aside.”  So she went out. She closed the door on herself and her children and, as they handed her the vessels, she would pour in oil.  When all the vessels were filled, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” He answered, “There is none left.” And then the oil stopped.  She went and told the man of God, who said, “Go sell the oil to pay off your creditor; with what remains, you and your children can live.”

At the time I read this I was feeling completely spent just about all the time. Just as I met an urgent need in one child, another would have an even greater need. I was bouncing from one thing to the next, with never quite enough time to plan ahead, rebuild my strength, or anticipate which direction I would be spinning off to next. I was reduced to pinball mothering. After reading this passage, this verse became my prayer, I even wrote it up above the changing table so I could read it multiple times a day:

She replied, “This servant of yours has nothing in the house but a jug of oil.”

She asked for help. Then she offered all that she had, (much like another little boy had done) the only thing of value she owned, one jug of olive oil.  And then what did Elisha tell her to do?  Get more jars!

God filled up as many jars as she could provide. All He asked of her was everything she had.

Now, I am not this widow, and I have plenty of olive oil.  My life is not a biblical miracle. This isn’t about my own importance in any way. Time and again in scripture, God asks for our all and when it is freely given, He blesses it and makes it more than we could ever dream.  What spoke to me here was the way that He multiplied her resources.  He required her to gather jars.

I was left with the question: what are my jars?  I knew I was pretty much on empty, but I wasn’t sure just what I was needing to be filled. I was willing to go and gather jars to be filled if I could just figure out what my jars were supposed to be.

The key to this was found in what that one jar was to the widow.  It was all she had of value.  Or, to flip that around for myself, it is all that I value. She freely offered that one jar, and I need to look at all the things I find important and offer those up as well. My children, my husband, my home, my toys (iPhone and kindle come to mind), my projects and plans, my hopes, my prayers, and most especially my time are all my jars.

One at a time, I am handing each one to Him and asking Him to fill them up.  Slowly, day by day, instead of being drained by the things I value, I find that I am more likely to have a little left over.  A little time, a little sanity, a little energy… never an excess, because it is still real life and God really isn’t interested in making me into some kind of non-sleep-needing superhero. But there is enough. And that is what I needed.

Control and Surrender, Part 2

It’s Sunday again, and if you read Part 1 of this series, then you know how I am feeling. There is so much I want to get done this week, and I am feeling the need to sit down and schedule it all out. I have great new books to read (I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux, God’s Smuggler, and The Night Is Far Spent to name a few), some adorable newborn cloth diapers that could use some new elastic, writing that I have set aside as I worked on this retreat, I would really like to get back to the Y and get moving again, and there is that housekeeping challenge that I began but never finished. Not that I have any problem with to do lists or planning out accomplishments, I just know that I have to be careful about HOW I plan them. If I had absolute control of my time, a simple list would make sense. But I am somewhat at the whim of 9 other people (at the very least!) and they are my real job. The other stuff I get done may be of benefit to them, but I have a lot of things to keep in mind.

So personally, if I have a giant to do list, it becomes my failure list at the end of the day. Things like holding a crabby toddler through her nap or taking the toddler potty 83 times a day never seem to make the list, and always push aside several other more quantifiable items. Flexibility is key for my vocation at this time and for my personal sanity.

The next part of our Control and Surrender Retreat is to explore some others who have dealt with not being in control and surrendering to God’s will and how they handled it. We will start with one of my very favorite Bible characters ever: Joseph (of the Technicolor Dream Coat).

We will be tackling Joseph’s life in several parts, it is just so eventful.

As a disclaimer: I am no Bible scholar, I am taking these stories mostly at face value and looking specifically for the issues of circumstances out of their control and surrendering to God.

The first part of his life we will cover is Genesis 37:23-28, 36 and Genesis 39: 2-5

So when Joseph came up to them, they stripped him of the long tunic he had on; then they took him and threw him into the cistern, which was empty and dry. They then sat down to their meal. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, balm and resin to be taken down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers: “What is to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood? Rather, let us sell him to these Ishmaelites, instead of doing away with him ourselves. After all, he is our brother, our own flesh.” His brothers agreed. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Some Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and took him to Egypt.

The Midianites, meanwhile, sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, a courtier of Pharaoh and his chief steward.

But since the LORD was with him, Joseph got on very well and was assigned to the household of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and brought him success in whatever he did, he took a liking to Joseph and made him his personal attendant; he put him in charge of his household and entrusted to him all his possessions. From the moment that he put him in charge of his household and all his possessions, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; in fact, the LORD’S blessing was on everything he owned, both inside the house and out.

Sold into slavery by his own brothers!  According to Gen 37:2, he was about 17 at the time.  I can’t imagine being taken from all I know in the world and carted off to a life of… who knew what?  Could he even have any idea what to expect at all?

But Joseph didn’t despair.  He got right down to work.  The Lord was with him, just as I think He is with us.  God’s blessing doesn’t always mean success, as we will see as we get further into this, but sometimes it does.

I think that Joseph had to be leaning on the Lord and open to His whisperings, as well as just putting in the elbow grease to get the job done.  That is a reminder that I need from time to time (or all the time).  In the middle of my freak out over my inability to get a handle on our money perfectly or to “keep up with the house” (whatever that means…), I need to lean heavily on the Lord, listen to Him (Oh, that would mean some prayer time, right?), and get my butt in gear and get moving to the degree I am able.  Even in the face of lack of control, we still have a life to live and our God to love and honor.

Somehow there has to be a way to balance crabby toddlers (and other little people) with prayer time.  Often even sitting down to consider the possibilities is enough for chaos to break out.  That is the part that leaves me feeling out of control.  I really think I am missing the primary step – that reminder that the Lord is with us (me!) and having trust in that.  So my journey towards really surrendering something that I don’t have control of in the first place will continue.  It’s a bumpy ride with steps forward and backward as a forget lessons I learn as often as I learn a new one.

It’s a good thing I have so much opportunity to practice how to deal with being out of control!

Feet: A Belated Holy Week Post

Little feet have brought me closer to God in many ways, chasing them around gives me patience and reminds me of the joy to be found even on the most stressful of days.  There are a couple ways though, that snuck up on me, and I thought I would share those with you. I realize that Holy Week is long past now, but I hope they will lift you up anyway.

Holy Week always finds me stressed and overwhelmed.  While I would like to participate in the many wonders and liturgies, having several very small children (and a husband in the choir) makes it nearly impossible to do without teaching my children by accident that Holy Week is more about getting yelled at than about appreciating the sacrifice of Jesus.  So we choose carefully which liturgies to attend.

~~~~~

Good Friday of 2010 found me at my wits end, as usual.  We had attended the live Stations of the Cross with the kids, and had intended to take them to the Good Friday liturgy as well.  But I felt like the small children needed a break and so did I.  It would have been a disaster in the making to try another long event in the same day.  So we stayed home.  At least our parish had their liturgy on television, so I was able to watch, holding my peacefully sleeping baby on the couch, while the other little ones played legos in the other room.

As the parishioners filed up, one by one, to venerate the cross and kiss the feet of Jesus, I looked down at the chubby little feet, so relaxed in my lap.  And I realized…  Mary must have kissed the feet of Jesus countless times.  She nibbled on his cute little toes as she cared for him.  And then she saw those feet lifted up before her on the cross.  She knew, she saw the physical effects of His sacrifice.  The body she had held so close was hurting.  I am sure that no one understands the veneration of the Cross like she does.

~~~~~

This year we were able to make it to Holy Thursday Mass.  I even came prepared with battery operated candles for the little ones to carry during the procession afterward.  (Although I also discovered just how far those battery operated candles can roll when dropped/thrown.  Next year I need to find square battery operated candles.)  I have to confess that I am a horrible listener in Mass, and only partly because of my kids.  I am just a distracted kind of person, so I always catch snippets here and there.  The part of the gospel that echoed out to me sitting in this particular wiggly, whiny pew was:

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (Jn 13:14-15)

And I tell you, I sat bolt upright and realized… I do this!

On a week when I had been feeling like there was no time for prayer and my going to mass was overwhelming, I was so relieved to realize that every day I do something that Jesus specifically asked us to do.  There is not a day that goes by when I don’t find myself down on my knees washing little feet at some point in the day.  (And I had to stop writing this post twice to wipe a little behind as well, that has to count for something.)

Jesus asked us to serve one another, and to meet each other at our grossest and help to clean each other up.  That sums up my job pretty well, I think.  Maybe I am learning something out of these trips around Jericho.

The Thankless Grunt Work

The mom’s bible study I participate in is doing the book of John this year, so that gives me ample opportunity to contemplate it.  You’ll probably notice quite a few posts about it over the next few months.

I find it helpful to imagine where I would be in the story if I were there or to just put myself in the place of different characters in the story.  It helps me to get a better idea of what was going on and to pull out lessons for my own life – even if those seem to be a little off the wall.

I found myself reading John 2 this week and identifying with a part of it I had never bothered to notice.  Sure, I have read the story of the Wedding at Cana a million times, but a different part jumped out at me.

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.  When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  (And) Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.

I hate it when I want to get a drink of water and have to be the one to heft one of those giant 5 gallon bottles of water onto a cooler.  They are heavy and bulky and it is just no easy task.  Each of the SIX jars at this wedding had to be filled with at least 4 times one of those bottles with a total of 120 to 150 gallons.  And just to make things more complicated, they didn’t go and grab the garden hose and twist the nozzle to fill these babies up.  They either had to move the whole jar or make many trips with heavy jugs of water to fill them up. And they had to draw the water as well.  Essentially, what Jesus told them to do was a lot of work. 

Day after day I can find myself feeling the crushing weight of the work that needs to be done around here.  The amount of work that needs to be done before 7AM is enough to make me not want to get out of bed in the morning.  But they are a part of the grunt work behind the miracle of my family.

Jesus asks us to do incredible things as mothers.  A lot of it is just background grunt work to keep things running smoothly.  We build the set and set the stage for our children and husbands to go out into the world and make a difference.  Sometimes we get a chance to step forward and be the one making a visible difference, but more often we are carrying water.  Like the servants, it is the task Jesus has set before us.  When we do that work, we make possible His miracles.

But What Will *I* Eat?

From Summer 2009:

Yesterday’s Gospel was the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes from John 6. Our priest gave an excellent homily about faith, but later in the afternoon as I worked on our budget I meditated on a different aspect of the story. Andrew says, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” John 1:8-9.

I thought for a while about the boy. I am sure he was just as hungry as the rest of the crowd. What was he thinking as all this transpired? Had he offered his lunch so that Jesus wouldn’t go hungry and would continue to teach and heal? Had the disciples cajoled him out of it or had they just noticed him unwrapping it and sitting down to eat and not even requested it yet?

I feel pretty confident that whatever the situation, the boy gave his lunch willingly, but probably not knowing what was about to happen. And I have to wonder did he, even for the briefest moment wonder, “But I am hungry too, what will I eat now?”

He could have been a better person than I am and that would not have even crossed his mind. But I assure you it would have crossed mine, even if I was giving my lunch up willingly.

That was where I found myself yesterday. Wondering what was left, how the money that comes in will possibly cover all we need it too – it always looks like such a dire situation on paper, and yet we always get by. But my ability to have faith and hope that God had us in His hands faltered.

If we stop there in the story we miss the whole point. We are left with a hungry little boy who has volunteered his lunch. But if we continue we realize that while he had no idea what was about to happen, what did happen was more than he could have ever dreamed. Not only was he fed all he needed, but so was every one around – because he was willing to sacrifice his lunch that day.

As a mother, my energy and time sometimes feel like that boy’s lunch – not nearly enough to go around. But if I keep handing it over to Jesus, letting Him have it ALL, even when I wonder “but what about ME?” he can do more with it than I ever dream of doing.