Several months ago, I made a recommitment to taking a daily time of prayer. It started out beautifully. I would wake up before the kids, get myself dressed and make my way to my favorite sitting spot in our living room, the rocking chair. I would usually get in about 20-30 minutes of prayer, and a quick facebook check before Abigail (my almost 11 month old) would wake up. Then, Abigail started sleeping through the night. I was happy about it, but suddenly she was waking up at 5:30am or sometimes even 5:00am looking to nurse and start her day. After a few weeks of this going on, I was wiped. I felt discouraged and felt like I may as well not even bother to pray since my daughter obviously had other things in mind for my morning time. I really let it get the better of me and when Abigail would wake up, I would wake up feeling bitter and irritated…not the greatest start to a day. I was very nearly ready to throw the towel in when it finally hit me, probably for the millionth time since I became a mother; God called me not only to be His, but to be a mother as well. If He has called me to this vocation, then surely He will give me grace to live it.
My prayer time will never look like that of a Carmelite nun, nor should it. It would be selfish of me to spend hours in prayer, when my children are in need of my attention and affection. After talking it over with my husband, he declared that the day should start with, “Good morning God!” and not “Good god it’s morning”. He was so very right. It pretty much summed up the whole experience for me, smart man he is. If I could manage nothing else, I would at least start my mornings off by acknowledging the One who had called me to this very life. I am still getting up pretty early these days, lately it’s been between 5:30-6:00am, but I am doing it knowing that as I sit and nurse this baby-almost-toddler of mine, God is near and He isn’t afraid of early mornings.
With the start of the new year, I decided that I could at the very least take a few minutes to sit with my Small Steps for Catholic Moms
book, before, after or even while nursing Abigail. Each daily reflection is made up of Think, Pray, Act. There is a quote from a Saint or scripture, then a short reflection (about a paragraph long) and then an act..something simple to feel like you are putting your prayer to action. It has really helped me to get back on track with my prayer. The beauty of it is that each day is a new page, a new Think, Act, Pray. I never feel like I have fallen behind if I miss a day, I just start fresh each new day. Each month has a theme and the theme of January is Joy. Boy, oh boy do I need me some Joy in these dark winter months ahead. I am inspired to continue striving for daily prayer. It is so worth it…He is so very worth it, and I need Him. This book would make a wonderful gift to a new mother, a dear friend or to yourself, to be honest. I am so thankful that I have stumbled upon it, because it has given me hope that no matter how short my prayer time, it can still have depth, give me something to spiritually chew on and also give me one simple act to put into practice.
With Joy being the theme of the month, it has got me thinking about the difference between joy and happiness. I always thought that if I didn’t feel happy, then surely I could never be joyful. I am slowly learning that joy has in fact very little to do with feeling. As Elizabeth
put so beautifully, “We are children who know we are loved. We can look for joy and expect to find it. We are children of a loving Father. A child loved by God has faith in joy. I am a child loved by God. Joy is mine.” It doesn’t matter how difficult yesterday was, what argument I had with someone, how quickly and easily I lost my temper with the girls, or how tidy or untidy my house was at the end of the day…today is a new day, God still loves me, His Joy is mine for the taking.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11
What more proof could I ask for that God loves me and wants me to have His joy? Not the joy of the world, that is fleeting and empty, but eternal joy, joy that lasts forever because it is all of His goodness and love in my life. As these days slowly get lighter, I will be here, smiling everyday at my little ones and making sure they know their mama is joyful, and also that they know the cause of that joy.