“More is caught than taught,” an old adage goes. And, when I look at what my children may be “catching” from me lately, I am not a proud Mama-Educator. Too often lately, I note myself acting tired or impatient or reacting with frustration and unkind words. When I mention this to friends, they tell me it is “normal”, “understandable”, even “excusable”. That may be so, but it is not what I want to model for my children.
Perhaps Prayer is Lacking
As I reflect on why my attitude and approach is sometimes negative, I realize that somehow I have let my personal prayer time get busied out of daily life. Sure, I continue efforts to “pray unceasingly” with my children with our Prayer Pegs, some days doing better than others. But, rarely these days do I wake up early to pray on my own – seeking guidance and fortification from our Lord or simply spending a moment of quiet in His presence. And, if I don’t wake up to do this before the children get up, I seldom make time for it during the day or prior falling asleep at night.
Making a Mommy Retreat Basket
There are many reasons I fail to pause for a daily retreat with our Lord. One is quite practical. I often cannot find where I last put some of the things I like to have near me when I pause to be in His presence – a journal, a Bible, the Catechism, a devotional, etc. So, yesterday morning, even though the kids woke shortly after I had said a silent Morning Offering in bed, I decided to do something about this.
I fished a basket out of the jumble of baskets I have tossed in a corner of our garage. Then, I collected a Bible, a copy of the Catechism, a candle, some matches, a notebook and pen for journaling and … Oh! I could not find the wonderful little devotional I started earlier this year but then got out of the habit of praying with. But, I did know where I had a box of faith-related books waiting for our basement shelf project to be finished. So, I selected a devotional from there that I used long before marriage and kept to revisit another year. I wanted to put a rosary and some inspirational music or message CD’s in the basket, too, but realized two of my children were getting antsy. It was time to stop preparing to pray and to just get to it.
The First Step Back to Better Days
Thus, after I attended to my children for a few moments, I prioritized sitting down at our kitchen table with my Mommy Retreat Basket in front of me. I lit the candle, read a devotional passage, journaled for a few minutes and then invited my daughter to come sit in my lap to say some prayers with me while one son played and the other snoozed.
My daughter and I closed my quick, but fruitful, morning retreat with me saying that I had lit the candle to remind us of how God’s love shines so brightly in our days and that we know, even when we blow the candle out, that the light of His love in our heart remains. Then, together, she and I blew the candle out, gave each other a little squeeze and a warm smile and got back into the busyness of our day with her siblings.
Mornings Blessed; Days Follow Suit
Now, as I look back on yesterday, I can see how taking just a few moments to organize my Mommy Retreat Basket enriched my day and helped me live my call better. Throughout the day, I found myself hearing and being guided by the Word and also by the wisdom I attained from the devotional reading I meditated on during quiet moments for the remainder of the day.
And today? Even though all three of my children were up and geared to go before I took out my basket, I remained confident that I would find a time for personal prayer even if it wasn’t solo time. Sure enough, that time materialized and developed in way I did not expect.
While the children were eating their breakfast, I fetched my basket, lit the candle and began to pray, read and journal in my children’s presence as well as the Lord’s. In the moments I prayed aloud, my two older children put down their food, folded their hands and prayed with me. They did this without being prompted nor asked to. They “caught” the desire to pray in the moment!
Then, before I blew out the candle, I spied our chair pocket on the back of Jack’s seat and asked Luke and Nina if they would like me to keep the candle on while I read them our daily prayer from Give Me Grace by Cynthia Rylant and a story from Devotional Stories for Little Folks by Nancy Nicholson, which is their current devotional. They did.
When we finished reading and discussing these, they wanted the candle to remain lit while they offered prayer after spontaneous prayer for our food, our family, our home, our neighbors and our thanks to God. Needless to say, my smile shined brighter than the flame on the candle by this point. I was amazed by how taking a few minutes to tuck all of my preferred prayers tools into a Mommy Retreat Basket manifested in a better day yesterday and such a warm, enriching start to my children and my day today.
Mommy’s Retreat Basket is proving to be a small step of organization that is having big effects on our day. In using it, I sense God's grace pouring down and feeling a bit better about what is taught and caught in my children's daily learning.
How about you? Have you noticed yourself neglecting personal prayer time? Have any small organizational projects helped you carve out daily retreat time? Do you have a favorite devotional you would like to recommend? Do you find yourself better able to model patience, act with love and live within your call as a result of one small intentional choice? Do share in a comment!
This post is being shared at We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday, because Mommy's retreat Basket has been working for me (and my kids!) consistently now. It is also shared at Women Taking A Stand's Thankful Thursday, since I am so glad that I took the time to make my Mommy's Retreat Basket and to share it with my children and I'm an Organizing Junkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing Challenge.
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