Wildly running through the grocery store, haphazardly throwing various things into the cart, my mind wanders towards the beautiful retreat I was able to go on last week, at my parish. We welcomed Father Jacques Phillipe for the second time, and he did not disappoint. Something about the way he speaks in French, and his interpreter then speaks in English is very magical. It allows a little bit of time for the mind to absorb the simple and yet profound words of this holy man.
What Father was asking of us, to cultivate a life of prayer, is a beautiful idea, but much like having a tidy home and warm meals at dinner, the task is very complicated when you add a very full life of children and homeschooling and holy mackerel. Sometimes I feel lucky to be able to utter my morning offering before being bombarded with chaos, crying, and demands of all sorts. But yet, he points out, scripture is chock full of references that imply peace is attainable. So, what then are some practical ways we can create a space for the Lord to have His peace that surpasses all understanding? I would ask that of you, dear reader, and I will tell you some things I am aiming for this Advent, as I know God blesses our efforts!! There is so much room for better, but this is what it is right now.
- Pray, as Fr. Jacques says, from the heart of a poor man. “Lord, I don’t know how I am going to do this, but please help me serve you today.” This is a great place to be. Our poverty of heart makes a space for Christ to work through us.
- Consecrate yourself and your family to Mary. There is so much peace when we throw our cares on Our Mama. If you haven’t read 33 Days to Morning Glory, by Father Michael Gaitley, please do!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GwydSsbBVU
- Find out the things about yourself that will make you a pleasant person to be around. For instance, if I am proclaiming the word of God to everyone I meet effectively because I am so in love with my Lord and Savior, there are some things in place in my life that allow me to come off as a happy, joy-filled person. Here is my list of what I NEED to be a happy mama: 7+ hours of sleep, chocolate, good food including lots of green things, lots of water, minimal caffeine, no sugar (except chocolate, LOL), daily exercise, and some type of downtime/rest/relaxation at least once a week, daily mass as much as possible, a decade of the rosary every day, and time to read and play with my littles, talk and “just be” with my teens, and time to be present and love up my man. Obviously, all these things do not always happen, but when I can make them work, I do. My job depends on it. Nobody likes a tired stressed or grumpy mother/wife. I once thought I could muscle through life, grinning and bearing it. I was wrong. Burnout is a thing. YOU must take care of you. NO ONE ELSE CAN!!!! Also, Read: ‘Teaching From A State of Rest,’ by Sarah Mackenzie, it was an inspiration for me to pin down the things in my power to change for myself, as a way to make peace in my life.
- Scale Back Those Obligations. Are there too many things going on? WHY? How is all.the.busyness.making your families life more faithful and fruitful? We have had to make some tough calls with our kid’s activity level this fall, for our own sanity, and I am thankful to my husband for supporting these changes. Ok- we all know your kid is going to be an Olympian, but does she need to go to ___________ (name your sport here) every day?!?! I think it’s a bit much. And just because all the other parents have sold their souls to the crockpot and fast food industry and no one ever eats dinner together anymore anyway, doesn’t mean you have to, too…. You see what I’m saying and I won’t even quote the stats on families that eat dinner together……
5. Create A Family Prayer Time. Make a time, and stick to your guns. For our family it works best after breakfast, we eat, and talk about the day’s activities, and say a decade together. During Advent, we add in the Jesse Tree videos from Holy Heroes. We sometimes do a Litany of the Saints or an Angelus. Since beginning our new Catholic Homeschool Co-op we are working on memorizing a few traditional songs and prayers in Latin during this time. Don’t worry, I mostly am calling kids back to the table and breaking up sibling bickering (the whole time) but it’s worth it. No one ever said forming good habits was going to be easy. What does your family do for prayer time?
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this matter. What are your tricks to squeezing in some prayer? I am praying for all of my readers that your Advent is going well and that your heart is open to the baby Jesus…He will be here soon! Eight more days!!!