Thoughts on God and prayer

This post is based on an email I wrote to a friend, after a few minutes of conversation today.  She is really questioning right now – God’s existence, the usefulness of prayer, etc.  But she still came to mass today so I know she is still pursuing in her quest!  Please keep her in your prayers.

****************

I do believe that God is all-loving, all-powerful, and all-knowing (this last one because I think time works differently for Him – not in a linear way as it does for us – it’s one of the things I am most curious to experience when my time on earth is done.)

However how can all the evils of this world exist if God is all-loving – that was the key question for me when I was seeking the answer to ‘does God exist or not.’

You know I love science and studying it in high school and university was wonderful … so often I was taken by surprise by the miracles I could see under the microscope, or what came out of the proofs and theories, etc.  To me, it is like God left His fingerprints all over creation, and when you happen to glance over and see it – it is amazing.  A sunset, a strong wind, the music of the ocean or some other natural beauty has a similar effect like that for me.

It also gave me a lot of respect for the laws of nature, math and physics – which are laws because they have never been proven false.  (A theory can never be ‘proven true’ – you can have findings consistent with the theory – but it can be disproven if you find credible evidence that goes against it.

So, when God acts in the universe – to me, He has to play by His own rules.  In the words of Einstein ‘God does not play dice with the universe’ – it would be a horrendously confusing place for us if He did.

What is the point of praying, then?  As I see it – God works through human beings  as well as through the laws of nature.  We are his hands, his heart on earth.  Here are some things I have prayed about recently.  For all of these, I pray earnestly for what I really want or am hoping for, but I try to also pray,and I pray that I can truly mean, ‘Not my will, but they will be done’ as Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.

1.  DBIL’s surgery – for the doctors and nurses to be open and responsive to the movement of the Holy Spirit within them as the surgery was performed.  I prayed that they would remove every last bit of anything that was cancerous.  I prayed for the Spirit to be with DBIL’s heart and mind, in every cell of his body, to work towards recovery.  I prayed for the Spirit to give DBIL, DSIL, his family, the nurses and cleaners and everyone in the hospital – for them to have strength and courage and love and that they would see and not miss any chance of whatever they could do to bring him to full health, happiness and lack of pain possible.

2. DH’s job situation – Thank God for everything He has given us to now, and the ways that He is working for good even in this very difficult situation.  Pray for His will to be done above all.  Tell Him how hard it is to not have DH home, how I worry about that impact on the family, and ask Him to provide a job opportunity that is nearby so that we can be intact in our current home town again (while recognizing that if God intends for us to all move out West or somewhere, I need to be open to that too).  Ask God for the Spirit to move in DH’s heart and mind, and that of the recruiter or company seeing his resumé, that if it is the right thing for DH, for our family and for the company – that the Spirit will lead everyone involved to bring DH into that job.  

3.  Infertiity – this, as you know, was a big, big deal for us.  My prayers here centered around God changing my heart to desire His will above all else, and if His will was not for us to be parents, to change that intense desire that I had.  If His will was for parenthood for us, that He would open our eyes to the way He was leading; that He would open a path to us, guide us to the right people and to the right decisions.  Every month I would hope and pray that he would guide the sperm and egg together, that HIs Spirit would come down to provide the soul of a new little being that might become our son or daughter.  Every month when it didn’t happen, I would ask for comfort as I cried, knowing that Jesus too had struggled with God’s will for his life (before Easter) – struggled such that his heart was sorrowful unto death, that he had sweat like drops of blood, that he was in agony.  I knew He could understand my pain, at least part of what I was suffering.

I would love to give more examples …. I try to pray for my students every day – Friday was a particularly bad day, but I really felt God beside me – when trying to manage a difficult situation with a student I felt the words, like a pulse inside of me, ‘love, love, love’ when I was trying to find the right words to handle a situation.  I pray for DH’s conversion, for the many members of my family and friends who are not believers and many who show no interest in God – and for all of us to convert (as from what I have read, even ‘believers’ still have a long way to go in conversion).

I really do believe these prayers make a difference.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had a gut feeling about a situation, like a big ‘Get Out Of Here Now’ feeling – I have experienced this in a creepy situation and I got out of there, who knows if it was justified or not.  My grandpa had this feeling when he was eating his lunch on a break when he worked in the Gold Mine in Northern ONtario.  He got out of where he was asap and moments later that area was caved in.  My aunt had a strong feeling to change lanes when driving, and did so even though it made no sense given where she wanted to go. Moments later, a load of logs spilled out onto where she would have been.  I believe the Holy Spirit and our Guardian Angel can communicate with us in some way, can protect those whom we love – *if* we are open to them, if we are willing to listen.  I pray for us to have hearts for love, for being humble enough to listen and not get caught up in pride and selfishness (two of my BIG problems) – so that we can hear and take action.

Speaking of action – right now praying for guidance big time!  I have perused some more stuff on conversiondiary, and was reading about how our priorities ought to be 1) God    2) vocation to marriage and our spouse   3) our children    4) job (or whatever).  

So, I feel that progress is being made for (1) – I am really engaging and trying to put time and energy, praying for help etc., to make progess in my walk with God.  (2) – so, what am I doing to nurture my marriage, to show DH how incredibly important he is to me?      ummmmm ……..             ya ……………..     well ……………..    ok, I can’t actually think of anything.  (how sad is that??)  So I asked him about an hour ago, explaining the context, and what does he see me doing that lets him know that he, and our marriage, is really really important to me, the most important thing after all the religious stuff?

He answered  – well, neither of us are doing anything for that right now.   Yowza.  He’s right.  And that is so, so not good.  Especially with the long distance model we have going.  I am sure there are some things we are doing or we would be either fighting all the time, feeling taken advantage of, or just basically ignoring each other and living in our own little worlds.

**************

I have a couple of posts for the blog cooking in my head – Easter was really powerful for me this year – but right now I just need to get to bed.  I hope to post again soon!

Advertisements

Prayer Buddy Reveals!

I have been honoured to pray for Kaitlin over at More Like Mary, More Like Me during this Lenten season.  I hope she will forgive my late reveal … to me it’s a bit like Christmas and I can’t wait to find out who was thinking of me 🙂  (which I will reveal a bit later in this post).

Kaitlin is one busy lady, with a beautiful little family with her DH and her new daughter. She is looking for discernment in the choices that will guide her and her family, so please think of her are a praying type of person.  I checked Kaitlin’s blog daily (I was sneaky and went in through misfit’s blog) and prayed for her during my morning commute – which is when I do most of my serious praying – and during my almost-daily rosary.

I thought it was really amazing that her particular blog popped up for me, as I had an interesting experience a few months ago that pointed me towards getting to know Mary better, and learning to pray with her and to her.  (I was in a time of feeling a disconnect in my prayer life so I prayed intently to Jesus to show me where I had gotten off track.  I had an image of Jesus taking my hand, walking with me over to Mary, and placing my hand in Mary’s.  Jesus said to me ‘I’d like you to meet my mother.’  Since then I have been seeking to know Mary better, to learn about how to pray to her and with her (I am Catholic so I know the ‘usual’ stuff, but I have been reading about Medjugorje, looking into the prayers I do not know so well, etc.)

And … I was excited to find out that Meg from  True, Good and Beautiful  was praying for me!  Thank you Meg for keeping an eye on me and helping me through some difficult times.  I really appreciate it and I look forward to getting to know you.  I said some prayers for you, even though I didn’t know who you were yet.  

These are the ‘little things’ in life that add some excitement and connection to our day to day journey.  A BIG shout out and thank you to TCIE and Mrs Henderson for putting together the prayer buddies once again!

What I am hoping for this Easter

Whew.  I am so glad the Easter holiday is here and I can catch a breath.

I usually see Christmas as a family holiday, and get back to the homestead (both my parents and my in-laws are basically in the same community, so we have an easy time of visiting with everyone).  We fit all of our schedules together, and if I can make it to midnight mass I really like to do that – but if I don’t, I am philosophical about it.

Easter I see as more of a religious holiday.  When I was in University, there were years that Easter came close to exam times and so I didn’t make it home.  I was okay with that (as I would not have been about missing family Christmas!)  On the other hand, it is really really important to me to make it to the religious celebrations of Easter – Holy Thursday (The mass of the Lord’s supper); Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and (often, but not always) Easter Sunday.  Honestly I’d rather visit family the weekend before or the weekend after, and just concentrate on spiritual stuff Easter weekend.  

But, it is not to be this year.  The way all of our schedules are working out – we will be doing the visit home this weekend.  The big birthday celebration will preclude the Easter Vigil.  (the majority of my family, including DH, are not Catholic – so I am kind of the only one with this hold out.)  I am really disappointed about this … but the situation being what it is, I guess I will just miss out on the Vigil this year.

In the past, Easter has occasionally been a season of BIG transformation for me.  I never know which part of Easter will really hit me, or if there is a big ‘moment’ that will happen for me at this time (many years, it is a wonderful time, but some years it has shaken up my whole life).  

This year … well, I have realized in the past few days that I really need to put God in every moment of my life.  Right now I tend to lose myself in aimless ‘down time’ which probably creates stress for me overall since other important things do not get done.  All of the checklists and drawing up schedules from my own effort does not seem to be helping.  My will is not enough here.  so, I am seeking to ask God to help me give every moment of every day to Him – asking for Him to increase my desire for this (instead of my desire to drink tea, eat chocolate, and cruise my favourite blogs for too much time!)  Perhaps I could phrase it that I am praying to be able to surrender my time, and not feel that I am entitled to vegging out when I feel like it (I do hope and expect that God will provide me with vegging out time, just maybe not quite like I am doing it now).

The other thing – I have to figure something out for my schedule for next year.  I am really praying, again, that I can put this into God’s hands and desire what is best in His plan.  I have an instinctive ‘what *I* want’ mindset, my teaching partner wants something else, and so I think is best for me is not what she thinks is best for her.  Our principal right now sees us as a joint team, and because choice 1 vs. choice 2 alters my workload, it is likely that if I went in and asked for choice 2, she would arrange that … but I really want choice 1 and my partner wants choice 2.  I know my partner *really* wants me to swing to choice 2.  Right now my heart is not there.  I have to consider my workload, interests etc. and I am not responsible for her life, but …. I do feel responsible.  At least I need to sit with these options and see where I may be led.  It is hard for me to just sit, with an open mind and open heart, and not be attached to the outcome I think I prefer.

My blog readers and friends, I wish and pray for you all a joyous Easter, Passover, or whatever is appropriate to you.  I hope that peace and the new life of spring brings you joy.

Little ‘look forward to’ moments in the days

This is just a random post about some of the things I look forward to in my daily routine.  Right now my life is really just too busy, and I want to be less busy, but while I am living this way at least I have some of these little moments.

– In the morning:  I now buy 10% cream for my coffee.  Yes, I do want to lose 5-10 lbs, and when I am really ready to do that, I may stop with the cream.  But for now, it helps to lure me out of bed in the morning.  (I am a night owl who loves being up at night and has a tough time getting out of bed, so a morning incentive is good).

– home made granola in the morning – another lure to get me going.  With DS’s nut allergy the purchased kind is not good for us … and this way I can make the granola how I like it.  I need something quick, fast, and easy and I get tired of boxed dry cereals pretty easily (usually have Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and possibly Shreddies on hand). 

– I now kind of like making the lunches in the morning.  I am not sure how that happened!  We have a really cool lunch box system (lap.top.lunches) – BPA free plastic – a blue box with different coloured containers that fit into it, so I can choose what colours I feel like that day and arrange things for a small enjoyment.  The box closes almost flush with the containers within, so you only need to put lids on liquidy stuff like yogurt – less lids to cause trouble.

– the commute to work.  In the morning, I sometimes listen to about 8 min of news (depends on how good my timing is).  The rest of the trip is usually in silence, and I pray.  I ask Mary and my guardian angel to hold my hands this day.  I pray the Our Father, line by line, pausing to think of what that line means this day, of the hopes, dreams, desires and needs in my heart for myself, the kids and hubby, the family (many of whom are agnostic or atheist), my friends, my students, my colleagues, my communities, the leaders in the schools that are part of my life, leaders in every position of responsibility (including myself).  I pray for healing for all of us.  I used to listen to the radio all the way for both commutes, but I find this time now to be really grounding.

Hmm … so now thinking about my routine at work, and I am realizing I don’t have many (any?) of these little moments there.  I enjoy my work, my students and colleagues.  But it is so very busy, and I guess I don’t have routines set up to give myself refreshment.  I know some colleagues who will leave the school to run out to Tim Horton’s, and perhaps that gives them a bit of a breather, but leaving the school property when I still have work to do just stresses me out!  I do have the routine of going to the bathroom every time we have a break (since I can’t just leave a class when I need to ‘go’!)

– the commute from work – I usually begin with listening to the radio (I’m a CBC fan) for awhile.  Somewhere along the way I give a quick thanks for the day and a short prayer ask for help for the evening, as it can be a challenging time when I am on my own with the kids, trying to fit in making dinner (usually consists of heating up or working with something prepared over the weekend), music practice, homework, bed time routine, get the kids to bed, then doing marking and prep work and getting to bed myself.  I hardly need mention that many, many nights just the essentials get done.  There is no time and I am too tired to get it all done all the time!  I don’t know why but on the commute home I really like to relax with the radio instead of having it more as a prayer time.  

– when I get in the door – I get the kettle on for a hot cup (or three) of red rose tea with milk.  ahhhh.

– often I will have a glass of red wine with supper 🙂  I guess I am rather food focused in my comforts!

– after the kids are ready for bed we usually all pile into my room together.  We chat a bit and say a decade of the rosary together.  Then it is lights out, and the kids snuggle with me and fall asleep while I say a full rosary (sometimes praying with the mysteries, sometimes focused on something – the other night it was ‘surrender’ so I was holding different passages in mind while doing my prayer, ie. ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’ and ‘Take this cup from me, but not as I will but as you will.’ – that sort of thing.  It is a peaceful time and gives a bit of connection when the rest of the day seems to full of ‘hurry for this’ and ‘hurry for that’

– I do take a break to read blogs, to post, check emails etc.  This probably takes up more of my precious evening time than is wise.  It is seductive because it feels like ‘the one thing’ that I do ‘ just for me’ – if that makes sense.  I do question if it is really what I should be doing with my time.  Just typing out those justifications makes me think that if I need to justify it, I know on some level that it does not have quite the place it should in my life (more in control of me than I am in control of it, if that makes sense).

– after I’ve done what I feel I need to do, and can do, that night, I head upstairs to bed.  I find the whole night time routine of tooth brushing etc. to be comforting, and normally I am pretty excited to read a bit from the Bible or from the upcoming Sunday readings before going to bed.  I really look forward to that, then turning off the light, and being able to go to sleep.  

Until, of course, the alarm rings the next morning …. and, ‘up and at ’em’ as my parents would say.

I would love to hear what others do for their ‘little moments of the day.’  Also, do you have any ideas for what I could do at work to have that minute or two of grounding or pampering?  I guess I like spoiling myself every chance I get 🙂

 

Prayer buddy … help!  I am LOSING it over here.  Stress levels up, coping mechanisms down.  Things have gotten really interesting and uncertain at work, the hubs has away too long and I need him home, plus I have PMS.

that whole, you know, trust in God and try to live every day, every moment, being present and living in his peace and joy?  Offering up every small and big thing, thanking God for the blessings and not dwelling on the seemingly more easy life so-and-so has?  Turning to God when in trouble, as opposed to holding a pity party and pouring a glass of wine?

Yes, well – guess where I have been lately.  It’s not pretty.  

Please pray for me, to calm down and trust in God.  Please pray for my son, who asked me to pray for him that he feel less scared in the world (He has food allergies and has been afraid of lots of things lately.  I know it will calm down again eventually but it isn’t a good place for him right now either.  Add to that only mom at home, and mom stressed out too, and well, his life isn’t so easy right now either).

Thank you for your prayers. 

 

Prayer buddy …..

The beginnings of an answer?

In my last post, I wrote about how I am struggling with maintaining a home given all the other demands of me at this moment in my life.  Two things came up today, which may perhaps be the beginning of an answer of how to handle things.

And, as I mentioned – I need to go back to flylady, start at the beginning, and just be patient.  

My friend sent me an email with this quote from Jean Vanier:  

We have to learn to draw on our suffering, distress and setbacks so that we can grow spiritually. It is so easy for us to get locked into frustration, anger and depression.
 
And then I had a chance to go to confession.  Fr D spoke of how times of desolation (and I guess my frustration and tints of depression about this ARE a kind of desolation) – that is the time we need to really dig in, dig deeper, not run away.  God is always with us; he is not playing at hide and seek; but there is a blockage there somewhere and it really calls on us to hang in there.
 
(deep breath)
 
Okay then.  Monday is back to the craziness of life including work.  I need to not run screaming from the sight of my kitchen or laundry pile!  I hope tomorrow I can at least set the roots in with a bit more determination to hang on.

The house as a metaphor

This past week has been a struggle. I have been on the March Break holiday (much needed!) and I hoped to get lots of work done in terms of tidying, cleaning, and organizing the house. Since we got out of our storage locker (yay!!) There have been boxes sitting, waiting for their contents to find a home … and since we have a much smaller place now, there isn’t anywhere these boxes won’t be visible.

I guess I work better in crisis mode – when I have a tight schedule, I don’t sleep as much, the critical things get more or less done (but not the tidying & cleaning, which is why my house feels like a disaster) but I am too busy to worry much about it.

It has seemed so very difficult to make any headway this week – like walking through molasses. We had a terrific long weekend in the hometown, where I didn’t have to make any decisions with regards to food, lots of great hanging out with my parents and aunt, DH’s parents and family etc. Unfortunately I did not handle the change of (lack of) structure so well. The prayers I regularly say for my morning commute, evening commute, and before bed – didn’t really happen. I even missed going to church with the time change, a long night time sleep (I’ve been having lots of those – I guess sleep deprivation catches up with you) – and the commitment to DH’s parents to be there for the big Sunday lunch. It was a nice break but it didn’t get anything done for us on the home front.

Once home, things just didn’t seem to go much better. In spite of beautiful weather outside, we spent a lot of time indoors as I wrestled with the ‘stuff’ in the house – trying to get a handle on the kitchen, catching up with laundry, going through boxes to get rid of things ….

If my house is a metaphor for my soul, there is A LOT of work to be done. I could probably even draw a parallel between leaving our newer, more roomy (and expensive) house to this older, more interesting house where we have rented out half and thus live in a smaller place.

I need to get rid of some stuff, organize the rest, and keep up with the daily routines that will keep things peaceful. I know one way to do this – through the flylady.net site – which worked for me about 10 years ago. Somehow it is hard to get back into it and stick to it, although her methods are designed for people like me! It feels too elementary, too much like ‘yes I know this and I should be able to skip ahead already…’ but my approach has not been working. Perhaps pride is another roadblock here.

I made it to church last night (Friday) and just put the whole thing before God. IN my experience, when life feels like I am trying to trudge through molasses, something is going on. Perhaps I am off the path that is meant for me – through a decision or a falling away from the routine things that help to keep my faith alive and attentive – and I accept it could also be a time that allows me to ‘exercise’ my muscles of faith and persistence etc.

One of my friends came over last night as we usually meet on Fridays to do our prayer group thing. I had asked for her help to boost a couple of boxes up into the attic, but was reconsidering given the disastrous state of upstairs! But she came upstairs, and caught sight of a room that has just been draining the energy, spirit and hope out of me – and before you know it, we were in there working away, sorting, tossing, organizing. It has seemed so daunting to even begin, on my own – so depressing to just go in there and see failure everywhere I turned. With a friend – talking, laughing, and not feeling judged – it took time but it got done. (we did a shorter prayer thing afterwards!).

It made me think of a time in the fall when another friend came by to hang out once the kids were in bed so I could get out to do something (I can’t remember what – dentist? hair appointment?) I was so thankful to be able to get out and take care of this long-awaited thing. Wouldn’t you know, she rolled up her sleeves and cleaned the kitchen for me – another time when things had spiralled down into survival mode, and I just had to kind of close my eyes and keep on functioning until a time would come when I could climb on top again. It is such a gift to have help when needed – a reminder that we are not alone in the world, even when we feel we ought to be able to do all of this without help – if we are strong, competent people.

It still makes me emotional to think of the care and concern from these friends, who have come in to help when I am most discouraged and defeated. I should mention that family (DH, mom, MIL) have often been a great help as well, and I appreciate that so much! What makes the friend help so striking, though, it is that it is more unexpected I think.

I wish I were a naturally organized, tidy person. If you are – it is such a blessing to have a tidy, peaceful environment – which most of the time, I wish I had but certainly have not had for a long time.

I suppose I should go back to the flylady system – step one, day one – as frustrating as it is to me right now; as much as it makes me feel that I was further ahead 10 years ago and have slipped all the way back. I don’t know why it is so difficult to contemplate starting something that will take a lot of time, but which I know will work eventually – just by establishing and faithfully following routines – boring, small little routines that seem to get you nowhere and are so very easy to dismiss when you are extra tired, that seem like chains sometimes but really will bring you more peace once they become part of your fabric.

And thus I see the metaphor for my soul, the habits of interior life, etc.

(sigh)

I am not sure of the source for this, but parts of it really fit right now.

Your Best Friend Or Your Worst Enemy

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push your onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half of the things you do, you might just as well turn them over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed, you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.
I am the servant of all great people; and alas of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human.
You may run me for profit or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will place the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
WHO AM I? I AM HABIT.