Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ready, Set, Lent

Welcome to Fat Tuesday!

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent.  Every year, Lent is an opportunity to work on some  bad habits and attempt to resuscitate re-energize my prayer life.

What I want to do for Lent has been on my mind the last few weeks when I realized it was right around the corner.  I have been praying about the areas I need to work on.  I wanted to have a plan set up so that it would be something I could make into a routine and, hopefully, be consistent with!

Fr. Landry had a really good article in the Anchor this week that addressed Lenten sacrifices.  His suggestion was to choose 3 things to sacrifice based on the categories of faith, fasting and almsgiving.

I have just spent 15 minutes searching for the newspaper so that I don't misquote something.  I couldn't find it where I left it.  Since I had encouraged my teenagers to read it I started visiting their rooms to ask if they had it.  Andrew said it was in the family room.  I thought to myself, "Great!  He read it."  Proud mama moment....not quite.  Andrew said, "Yeah, I think I threw it at someone this afternoon.  It's probably on the floor somewhere."

Just great!

Anyway, as I was saying; faith, fasting and almsgiving.  I am a terrible pray-er.  Too little sleep and hardly ever a quiet moment any time in the day or night with the age ranges of our kids makes focused prayer challenging for sure!  Then I feel guilty that I didn't take time to pray in a more structured purposeful way.

I pray lots of interjectory prayers during the day..."Jesus help me!"(to have patience and not scream at this toddler whose whining is driving me crazy)...."God have mercy on me!"(and inspire this teenager to do what he's supposed to do without me having to lose it on him)..."God be with me"(and help me not to burn this dinner while the phone is ringing, the baby is clingy, the toddler is needy, and everything needs to be ready in 10 minutes or certain kids won't be able to eat before their practices!)

I just don't seem to have the focus...or the quiet(!)...to pray in a deeper way and be more open to receiving the direction and guidance I really need.

In my experience, if I don't get at least the occasional quiet time to soak in His peace, I don't have a whole lot to give to all those He has placed in my care.  Frequent, quick prayers are important.  But, they are like drips from a leaky faucet on a sponge.  You're not going to get much out of the sponge when someone squeezes it.

However, if you spend purposeful quiet time with God, it's like submersing the sponge in a pool!  There is lots of excess to share with anyone around you who needs it!

It's been on my heart for several weeks now to ask my mother-in-law to come and watch the little ones for an hour or two each week.  Since Kate is now much better about being left behind for short periods of time, I'm hoping to get some adoration time each week so that I can soak in God's grace and peace so that I can be a more loving, patient, peaceful version of me!

Lent seems like a good time to start that habit.

Another area in the prayer category that I want to work on is saying a daily rosary consistently...preferably as a family.  Colleen Martin over at Martin Family Moments wrote something about her parent's tradition with the family rosary that made sense to me.  Every night, they would announce they were saying the rosary and invite the kids to join in.  For me, that idea took some of the pressure of confrontation off of me since we have one child who has some struggles when it comes to praying and faith and the thought of family prayer made me cringe because I didn't want to deal with negative comments and attitude.  I know it was a weakness in me not wanting to deal with it, but some battles that you can't win and will just push people away, just aren't worth fighting.  (At least on the outside...I know that God is using my prayers to work on him on the inside!)

For the last two nights that's what I've done.  Like Jay said, "Praying the rosary with our crew is not going to transport us into the 7th mansion of prayer!"(A little St. Teresa of Avilla reference)  Kate and Luke are not at the ages where they will sit still quietly at all for very long.  But praying together is important.  We used to do it when the older kids were younger, and Lent is a good time to try to get back into a good habit!

I also want to intentionally sit down and read my Bible for just a few minutes a day.  I need every opportunity I can to be open to Him speaking to me so that I can stay on the right road and encourage my kids to do the same!

The fasting piece is always a struggle for me.  I know that I have some issues with food that I am working through...slowly...and I'm sure Lent will give me many opportunities to bring my struggles to God.  More on that in future posts!

Fr. Landry had a few good ideas in this area as well.  He suggested only drinking water during Lent, giving up condiments on food(salt, pepper, sugar, butter, ketchup, salad dressing), and not eating between meals.  He also suggested fasting from television and replacing that time with Scripture and spiritual reading.  (I've noticed that once the little ones are in bed I am too quick to put on re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond and mindlessly watch 3 episodes until the little ones start fussing(I birth terrible sleepers!).  Cutting back on that will give me some extra quiet and the time to catch up on the reading for the three groups I am a part of...a Bible study, book club, and our parish's Women of Grace.....without kids crawling all over me.(As long as I don't just fall asleep after a couple of pages!)

In terms of almsgiving, this is an area that Jay and I will have to spend some discussion time on over Lent.  I know that as long as we are open, God will be sending opportunities for us to share our time, talent and treasure with the people He places in our path.  I already have a few ideas about the general direction God is leading us in, so it will be interesting to see how it all develops.

Fr. Landry said, "To become holy is the purpose of the hold season of Lent, but it will achieve its purpose only if we go "all in.""  I feel like some of his ideas are a good fit for me and the areas that I want to work on at this point in time.

Lent will definitely be a marathon for me...not a sprint!