Pray the Ninja Way

Alternate title to this post is: The Steal, Sneak around, and Hunker Down Prayer Hack Method for Moms.

Sheila posted a fantastic entry and asked some salient questions regarding prayer. And it’s just the perfect timing, since I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time, and also since I had writer’s block until she posted on Tuesday!

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Getting a regular prayer time in is indeed a challenge. We all know what’s individually keeping us from prayer, whether it’s illness, tiredness, interruptions, or lack of scheduling prowess. Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve been almost constantly trying to get back to the one and only routine that has ever worked for me: wake up x number of minutes earlier than normal, use that amount of time to make coffee and pray, and then continue as normal with the day’s schedule, whatever that may be. Continue reading

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Good Friday, Mamas of the World Style

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On Good Friday, I was somewhat at a loss for what to do/how to act. This is not a rare occurrence, since the kids and I have no work outside the house, or gym to go get fit at, or school routine to chase, or much of any routine, for that matter. But particularly on Good Friday, I felt it important throw off my old, random, abstract self and to do something, anything to acknowledge the fact that it’s the day our Savior and brother died. I didn’t want it to be ordinary, or particularly free-wheeling, or fun. Continue reading

Frumpy Friday Summer Summary

Dear people,

I have missed you. Hope you are well. Every time I see fantastic posts coming in regarding vacationing as a parent, a mom’s musings, and summer meal prep, I get a little twinge of guilt that I’ve been off the posting bandwagon for a bit. There’s no pressure to write. We’ve all let each other be very free. What a gift! But I have some posts in the works that take a ton of work. And in the humidity we’ve been experiencing, the water weight of that “ton” is roughly doubled. So I’ve been sludgy. And, most nap times, when I used to write, I’ve been getting some house projects done.

I do enjoy keeping in touch with you all. So I’ve thrown off the guilt and the expectations – that I have of myself – and decided to ramble a list of the things we’ve been up to and struggled over. This is a real blog by real people. Why not have posts that reflect the reality of our life right now? The reality is: we’re jumping from one thing to the next as a family and barely finishing most projects.

So without further ado, some summary:

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This photo may be my favorite of the two kiddos to date. Such happy little stinkers. And, the little guy finally began to take regular naps on June 1, 80% of the time. Yes it’s a big deal.  Yes, it is written down on our calendar.

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Here, you see a lot of what we’ve been doing, actually! 1) It’s in the porch, and there’s the reflection of an old school picnic table cloth. We’ve been enjoying most meals out here. It is so, so pleasant. Definitely one of the biggest blessings of our new home. You see, I have found since graduating from college that Fall arrives, and I feel all sad that Summer never really happened. I struggled as a working single to vacation well and use the seasons. This porch redeems that – we feel we are outside, yet we can remain in our jammies. 2) The white monstrosity is a $10 damaged kitchen cabinet that I am transforming into a bench. I need to gather the top and bottom pieces (ideally for free!) before continuing. Pray I can find those today! We may go garage-saling 3) Isn’t “garage-saling” a word? Here in Minnesota, it is a word. So why does spell check yell at me? 4) Also reflected above is a set of green shutters. I spent about $3 on them at a garage sale, then attached them to the wall over a large old mail slot. It took several weeks to complete. Now it’s a little surprise opening to do whatever we want with, and the kids haven’t torn off the doors, and it’s a completed project using wood (I LOVE wood!). So it’s a raving success. 5) The trowel on the ledge proves that we’ve done some gardening. 6) The subtle haze over everything betrays that I haven’t figured out how to clean. Yet. We’ve been in the house less than a year, people! Give me a break! A year long break, please. 🙂

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Also in the porch, I painted this table before it completely disintegrated.

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See? Painted. I learned, however, that I should believe everything I read when it comes to painting. It says ‘do many thin coats and sand in between’. And, many articles advise a poly finish. I didn’t do either. Now I know I should have, as there is already some chipping.

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On the other hand, I have 2 kids. They can’t always be corralled like they are above. So, 3 thick coats of paint are all we will do. Oh well.

As I may have mentioned, it has been hot and muggy here. I won a bet once with a colleague from Georgia. I bet him that at least one day in the Summer, we here in MN would experience a hotter or more humid day than they would in GA. And I won, handily! But that’s the only time I’ve ever in my life been grateful for this oppressive weather.

Which brings up a major question: to use the AC or to not use the AC. I’m sluggish and downright lazy in my natural humid weather state. But it costs mula and there’s just no enjoying the environment, sludgy as it is, around us when we turn on the AC. I could, I suppose, leave the windows open, take a deep breath, and do the dishes and other chores. I’ve been looking for a way to fast, and this may be it.

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Which brings up prayer. I’ve been sneaking downstairs alone in the early morning (for us – it’s  relative) to pray and open the windows. And, of course, to make coffee. It’s a real treat. A friend recommended to a bunch of us to change it up this summer in our prayer habits. One idea was to read a Psalm a day based on the date. I conveniently began on June 1, and have a 30 day cycle. So today, I added 30 to the date and read Psalm 54. In any month that has 31 days, I get a bonus day at the end to read the Psalm of my choice. It’s fun! The Psalms in the past have been difficult for me. I’ve read them and not really been able to relate to the ‘enemies round about me on every side, waiting to devour me’, and all that dramatic militaristic imagery. I look around me and I don’t seem to have that much trouble. So I think forlorn thoughts about how useless the Psalms are in my life, how I should be more serious so that life is more full of trouble, how weird I must be since other people can relate to the Psalms but I can’t, etc.  After plowing through the first few in this manner, I read Psalm 37. It’s a keeper:

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun….

Now, I read the Psalms as if I am speaking them to God, or he to me. Me and God. I have to turn off my historical imagination, and just let the words be mine alone, for me alone. Some Psalms sink in more deeply than others, but all of them are worth waking up for and sneaking past my semi-sleeping kids. On July 7, the Psalm contained plenty to ponder and resolve in my day to day life and musings.

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How could I forget?! We had a Grammy Visit, and prepped this sleeping porch for her stay.

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It’s now my favorite room in the house. Huge “thank you”s go out to Jeanne O and Erik for helping bring this room from storage with broken electrical units to perfect summer retreat place.

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I grabbed a minute at the end of my prayer/Psalm/coffee time July 4 to rig this up. Happy belated birthday, USA!

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Yes, a very happy birthday.

Best Regards,

Mary Clare

A Parent’s Reflections on being “in survival mode”

A card I found at a shop in Stillwater, MN. By Papyrus.
A card I found at a shop in Stillwater, MN. By Papyrus.

Several months back, a friend said to me, “you’re in survival mode”. At the time, it really helped me. I realized she was correct, and the clarity it brought to my situation also helped me cope with it better, both emotionally and physically. I wish I could describe it clearly, but I don’t remember exactly what we were going through at the time. I think if you’re also in survival mode, you know instinctively what I mean. (For that matter, as I learned in preparation for laboring, one aspect of the fight or flight mechanism is that, once it’s all over, your body’s hormones assist your mind in forgetting the trauma. So It’s natural and good that I don’t remember!)

    ...and...the inside of the same card! Too true/funny to leave on the shelf. Such humor must be shared.
…and…the inside of the same card! Too true/funny to leave on the shelf. Such humor must be shared.

Since that time, another friend has brought it up that I’m in survival mode, and I even wrote a little about it recently, here. But something about being in survival mode is bothering me. Continue reading

Friendship and Motherhood

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I recently had a play date with another mom and her kids.  The morning of the play date I felt really tired because I  didn’t sleep well the night before.  I kept waking up during the night worried about not being able to sleep. thus losing more sleep.  That morning getting my toddler’s diaper changed was a battle, getting him to put on pants was a battle, putting him into the car seat was a battle.  Plus, I spent a good deal of time that morning making a childproofing contraption out of cardboard and duct tape to prevent him from touching the buttons on the side of the TV.  (As of editing this post, the contraption has fallen apart).

So, that morning I called my friend to tell her it would be at least 15 minutes before we might even be getting into the car.  It would then be another 15 minutes to get to her house.  As I drove there I realized my eyes were a little hazy, and that I should have stopped to get coffee on the way and had missed my chance.  I got to her house, and she greeted my with her usual, “would you like a cup of tea?”  I love tea, so I immediately responded with, “as long as it’s caffeinated YES please!”  She then offered me some deliciously flavored coffee that was still on the pot.

We sat in her living room and had a normal mom conversation that soon delved into a more deep conversation.  Our little ones played together (and occasionally we both refereed squabbles over sharing toys). Sitting on her comfy chair and drinking coffee was a gift from the Lord.  Her friendship at that moment was a gift from the Lord.  Friendship and support are one of the best gifts we can give to each other as moms.  Whether she knew it or not, her time spent with me gave me renewed energy to make it through the day.

Let me not forget to pray for fellow moms both local and afar, who are a gift to me.  Let me always be ready to look for ways to support these moms in prayer and friendship.  Let me be ready to reach out to moms I do not know.  Let me be an encouragement to them.