How do you pray?

How do you find any time to pray?

I was asked this question recently and didn’t know how to answer. I just do I said, but over the past few weeks I have been giving it a lot of thought.

I know my prayer time has changed over time. When I had mostly little kids – the older kids, and the toddlers and the nursing baby my prayers were mostly urgent pleas for patience – RIGHT NOW!

I said drowsy prayers and rosaries as I nursed and relied on the words of my Mom and the nuns who taught me – “Your guardian angel will finish your prayers if you fall asleep before finishing them.”

For a few years, back then, my prayers were all offered along with Daily Mass at St. Michael’s in Baltimore. I was able to go most mornings and returned home afterwards – not remembering to pray again until I fell into bed. Matt and I would say our evening prayers holding hands as we fell asleep tired from another hard day: his work, my homeschooling and both of us raising our increasingly larger family.

Now, my prayer time can be more committed. No more babies (sigh) so I am able to set aside time each day. Many days again back at Daily Mass (sometimes with my kids, sometimes alone). I make time alone in my room for at least 15 minutes (sometimes with the readings of the day, sometimes just with the Bible). And again as Matt and I fall asleep – holding hands while praying both from our hearts and from our memory.

Prayers from our memory are all those we know without any effort – the Our Father, the Hail Mary, St. Michael’s, Magnificat, etc. When asked to pray for someone via an email these quickly come to mind. These are the ones that make up our family’s bedtime prayers.

Prayers from our heart are those we say from deep within – prayers of joy when good news arrives “Thank You Jesus for a healthy baby”, prayers of sadness, “Lord, please watch over and protect those injured in the accident…” and so on.

These words prayed from our heart have the chance become one long conversation with Jesus, His Mother or our Father, God; all day long. We tell them how we feel, how much we love them and our fears, anger and, yes, our hopes and expectations.

These are the prayers I say most often. I stopped listening to radio while driving years ago. It was part of my Lenten sacrifice that soon became my habit. Now, as I drive I talk to Jesus. Most often out loud. This is my version of “pray without ceasing” St. Paul talks about.

I have asked God to turn all of my random thoughts, worries and concerns into prayers to Him; and I know He has. I see butterflies (or hummingbirds, or stars or flowers or small babies or….) I say “thank you” to the Lord who sent them my way. I get a call of concern from my son at college and ask God to listen in and send His grace and strength. When I encounter a young Mom withe a crying child at the grocery story, much like I was once, I pray a prayer of patience for her.

In other words, if you worry about making time to pray, first remember to give God permission to see your every encounter, read your every thought, overhear each of your conversations and inspire you with every step and action you take. Tell Him He has your permission – fully and heart felt – to turn everything you do as a small prayer back to Him.

Of course, we know He already does this as He is omnipotent and omniscient! But when we actually open the doors of heart and mind to Him, telling Him “Come right in! Please, take over my entire life and everything I do and say!”, prayer becomes a whole different thing.

How do I pray? With every breath in I ask for His mercy and forgiveness and with every breath out I thank Him for his grace and power. And, sometimes, I even remember to say that out loud.

How do you pray?

Open to Life – every day even when a baby isn’t anywhere in sight!

Over the years, I have been ‘forced’ to redefine what I thought “openness to life” means. I’ve written and spoken about this topic more than once as well. Today was no different.

As a recap for new readers – openness to life at the Watkins’ house has not only included 11 children, and multiple miscarriages, but Multiple Sclerosis for me and more than once period of under or no employment for Matt. However, throughout it all, we’ve stayed in love with each other and with Jesus.

When first introduced to the teaching of openness to life, I’ve always focused on the babies. And I love babies. But today I was reminded that openness to life is a daily decision. Are you ready for what God has in store for you today? Are you open to whatever comes – good or bad? Seeing all as a pathway of grace and love? Yeah, I’m not always there either.

Honestly, God’s plan for our marriage has not always been what we expected. Matt and I often say when we got married we KNOW we asked for a ticket on a merry-go-round but God decided a ticket on a roller coaster was our best path back to Him.

A roller coaster that spins you upside down, includes a water feature, a dark tunnel and whose buckles are known to break but we have stayed on!! The fact that we honeymooned at Walt Disney World makes this analogy even more powerful.

Today’s happenings are an excellent example of the roller coaster life my large, homeschooling family is on. Today was another chance to say, “Okay, God what you sent is exactly what I need (my whole family needs) to see you, and act in a manner to make you proud.

At 7 am Hubby headed for work, oldest daughter at home did the same, oldest son at home got picked up to head to college.

At 8:45 am I headed off to one of our 2 co-ops with the youngest 2 attending, 2 older ones there as teacher’s helpers and myself as teacher for 3-4 yr. olds.

On the way I dropped one off to work at Chick-Fil-A and left two at home to do school work (my 15 yr. old son and 13 yr. old daughter).

At 11 am, one daughter at co-op came to let me know she got a text from the daughter at Chick-Fil-A that daughter at home got her period – for the very first time!

Yes, daughter #6 got her period for the VERY FIRST TIME alone at home with no one but her bigger brother!! Eeck and awfulness!

A quick telephone call to her assured me she was all right, and that our roller coaster life has prepared her to handle most anything.

She took charge of the situation – she thanked me for preparing her (several times over past 2 years & esp.  this summer), she told me she decided to call daughter #2 who lives at the beach to ask advice. She took care of herself, gave me a huge hug when I got home from co-op and is currently asleep on my bed (well-known to be the best bed in the house!).

That’s openness to life! I did what I had to do; telling her what she needed to know biologically and psychologically. We taught her to rely on family. And those siblings were there magnificently when they were needed (even the 15 yr. old brother who admitted to wincing a bit when she asked him for help to reach #2 daughter and why).

Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary – I know our perfect Mother in Heaven is watching over this very imperfect, not even close to being holy Mom on earth raise her kids. How grateful I am for life God has asked me to live – open to life, open to Him.

The ticket to the roller coaster hasn’t always been easy but, once again, I am shown by God that it was the best ticket we could have been given.

 

 

 

Was that “woe” or “whoa”??

Earlier this week (both Monday and Tuesday), Jesus was blunt. In speaking with the Pharisees, He didn’t mince his words, “woe to you…”.

Jesus’ public rant fills Matthew 23 as He tells the Pharisees exactly how He feels about their hypocrisy, duplicity and pathetic attempts to please God through their actions rather by their love and mercy towards others.

Woe and woe and more woe to those Pharisees! Jesus is clearly telling them great sorrow and distress is headed their way unless they change their behavior. Jesus was giving them both a ‘woe’ and a ‘Whoa! Hey, cut it out!’  

During the homily, the priest wondered aloud what did Jesus’ reprimand sound like? Did Jesus wag his finger at them and speak his ‘woe’ harshly? Or perhaps, He was more gentle, warning them with a sorrowful ‘woe’; a warning so to speak that if they didn’t stop (whoa!), then condemnation was headed their way.

Both approaches can be affective, both will fulfill work of mercy that asks us to let the sinner know the sin they are committing. But, they aren’t the same and are only effective if used in the proper context.

We know this important difference as parents. We shout the “whoa!” as our young one heads toward the road, and we speak a more gentle ‘whoa’ to our older teens struggling with peer pressure. Both are said firmly and without compromise. Both are said to help our children avoid harm or worse. But they are delivered differently.

“WHOA! Stay out the street!” Woe could be headed your way by means of a car!”, we shout as the younger one head down the driveway.

“Whoa, stand firm in your faith when you start deciding which movie to go see. Woe will come by way of sin if you don’t guard your eyes and soul.”, we remind the older one as we stand in the driveway and watch them head off.

It’s important not to confuse the two when it comes to our family. A whisper won’t stop the toddler from running and yelling at the teen won’t remind them to follow Jesus.

After all, Jesus speaks both of those to us. Out of love He reminds us of the woe coming our way from persistent sin while at the same time He gives us the grace and self-control necessary to say ‘whoa’ to ourselves. Sometimes it a shout from the Sunday gospel and sometimes it is a whisper during prayer. We need to be listening for both.

Bringing life to dry bones

Today’s first reading is from Ekeziel 37 where the valley of dry bones is brought back to life by the preaching of Ekeziel.

“So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath. Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”  I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.”

Fridays is often the day I can feel as I am nothing but dry bones. I have nothing left to give, I’m all used up by the demands of being a wife, mother, homeschooler, Catholic. From folding laundry to chauffeuring to bending my knees in prayer and more – I am done!

But, still I must go on; life continues onto Saturday, Sunday and then another Monday. The question remains how do I keep going?

Ekeziel was able to raise up a vast multitude with the words God gave him. He prophesied not once but twice and the bones were lifted and then filled with new breath and they lived!

For me this is the reminder to make sure I am taking some time throughout the day to pray, reading the Bible (perhaps just a psalm or the gospel of the day). By doing this I am taking time to restore myself and remind myself of God’s enduring love.

Most recently, I have been reciting Ps. 23 to myself – you know that one – ‘the Lord is my shepherd’…I am drawn especially to the verse, “even though I walk through the dark valley, I fear no evil”. Lately it seems that we’ve had more dark valleys than green pastures at my house but I keep walking.

When you are in the midst of a dark valley it can be hard to remember that you are walking through it – you aren’t camping!  And you are not alone as Jesus is there (along with good friends and family). Dark valleys in life are inevitable because this is a fallen world but we are not alone and as long as we keep hold of Jesus’ hand we will reach those promised pastures.

Let St. Clare Inspire You!

Happy Feast Day to our patroness from Wreath II for Joy/Mirth. St. Francis of Assisi’s BFF, she tells us, “Love God, Serve God; Everything is in that.”

She might inspire you to great detachment to material goods as she allowed her hair to be cut off as she joined St. Francis.

Perhaps you will develop a greater love for the poor to serve them, during this year of Mercy as she did.

Maybe it will just be to increase your own sense of joy in life.

 

We are God’s Treasure

Today is the Feast of St. Lawrence, a deacon who was martyred in the mid-200’s of our early Church. We know him best for being broiled to death and having been on the coals for a length of time announced, ‘turn me over, I’m done on this side’ or something similar.

But the story I love best about St. Lawrence came from the demand from the prefect (a regional official or governor) 0f Rome to bring him all the treasure the Church had. St. Lawrence agreed asking three days to do so –

After the three days, Lawrence came forth with all the treasure of the church – the orphans, widows, lepers and ill. Placing in the rows before the prefect, he declared “there are the treasures of God”.

This impudence led to his death but serves an important reminder to us – We are His treasure.

The Dave Crowder Band tells us so beautifully:

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking (ha ha)
So heaven meets earth like a unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way

He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves
Yeah He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves us
Oh how He loves yeah yeah

Dave Crowder Band Video

Year of Mercy Badge Contest Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Olivia Victoria Wildanger, Sofia F. Monaco and Isabelle Taylor who came in First, Second and Third in our Year of Mercy Badge Contest!

Each winner gets a $25 gift certificate from Behold Publications. The first place winner will also have her badge made up and available for all Catholic Clubs to earn. Find the Works of Mercy Requirements to earn badge.

First Place: Olivia Victoria Wildanger

Little Women Hospitality Club, San Jose, CA

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Second Place: Sofia F. Monaco

Little Flowers Girls’ Club, Crystal Lake, IL

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Third Place: Isabelle Taylor

Little Flowers Girls’ Club, Pine Island, MN

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A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that entered! To see all the entries, check out the blog post here.

 

5 Reasons to Register Your Catholic Club

mapSo, one of the benefits of Catholic Clubs like Little Flowers Girls’ Clubs and Blue Knights Boys’ Clubs is that you don’t have to fill out endless paperwork to charter your club, register each individual member, collect money and send it off to the “home office.” So why would you voluntarily want to register your club if you don’t have to? Here are the top five reasons to register your club:

  1. Its FREE! Yep, zip, zero, no cost whatsoever. No money to send in, no paypal to click on. FREE registration for FREE !
  2. Its FAST! One form to fill out online and you’re done! No paperwork to send in. No looking for envelope, stamp, pen, address…. Takes about 3 minutes to fill out this one form. That’s FAST!
  3. GET FREE STUFF! That’s right! Registration is free AND you get FREE STUFF including downloadable books, crafting pages for the virtues, links to saint videos, links to other resources, and much more! Once you register, you will receive a log in and password. When you log into your account, you will see all the FREE STUFF appear (magic, I know!).
  4. MAKE YOUR MARK! Once you register, your club will have its own marker on our map! See the world populated with flowers and knights and know your group is one of them!
  5. GET SPECIAL OFFERS! Occasionally, we send out great deals only for our Registered Clubs. Don’t miss out on a single one! Register your club today!