Author Archives: Heidi

About Heidi

I am a stay-at-home-homeschooling-Catholic-Mama! I am a teacher who took early retirement to be with my most important students yet. I blog regularly about our gluten-free-montessori-homeschool at www.workandplaydaybyday.com and contribute to www.catholicsistas.wordpress.com and www.workplayread.com

Prayer Changes Things

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Last week was a long week.  On Monday my oldest son had ear surgery, my second son left our homeschool for Catholic schools, my mother in law came to help out with both of those transitions, my husband started the second year of his PhD program, and we celebrated two birthdays.  It was a busy week!

Busy weeks are easy weeks to get lost in.  It is easy to steal a few more moments of sleep or get up early for more hours in the day for laundry, dishes, and household tasks.  It is easy to put prayer aside for more productive work.  (I also find it is sometimes easy to put children aside in the same way when we get busy, but that is a topic for another post.)

One thing I’ve noticed about prayer is that God will find us even when we aren’t looking for Him.  Even when we are lost in our thoughts and our hurried lives, the Holy Spirit will sneak into our everyday lives if we are accustomed to looking.

For me this last week two such reminders snuck their way into a frantic Friday trip to the store for school supplies lost or forgotten.  Surrounded by four little ones who weren’t interested in anything more than finishing as quickly as possible, I took an extra moment to browse through the clearance section in case there was anything begging for a new home.  Suddenly my 8 year old pointed up at a small statue tipped over on its side and said, “Hey, Mom!  That looks like a saint!”

Sure enough, Saint Francis of Assisi had been knocked on his side between cast off vases and bath towels.  Moments later we found a small green wall hanging with the words, “Prayer Changes Things” scripted across a simple wooden plaque.

In that moment I had to pause.  At the end of a busy week, mom needed to take a break and get on her knees.  (Figuratively in this case, I was in the middle of a department store…)  All week I had been chasing a never ended to-do list and here it turns out the Holy Spirit was chasing me.  God had my week under control if I could take a moment to offer it to Him and look for opportunities to serve my family instead of check one more thing off of my list.

All around me were four little ones, all of whom desperately needed a snack.  One of whom hadn’t had the chance to go home after school and take a rest.  Reevaluation of a plan was in order.  An earlier than normal dinner and deciding to skip a few of our stops didn’t completely solve the problem, but those two little changes definitely made a difference.  Our busy week had ended in different, unmet needs for each of my children but I wasn’t noticing because I was too busy trying to “finish”.
Prayer does change things and the thing I believe it changes most is me.  Taking the time for prayer helps me say no to my to-do list and yes to the extra snuggles and comfort that my children need in an unusually busy time.  Taking the time for prayer grants me confidence that I’m on the right path and a renewed dedication to work through my tasks when it is hard.  Prayer also pushes the pause button in activities that may not be the best use of my time.
St. Francis found his way to the top of my piano and a small green plaque found it’s way to the wall above my kitchen stove.   Reminders of the day the Holy Spirit tracked me down in the department store to remind me what number one on my to-do list needs to be even…maybe especially… during the most busy of weeks.
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If only he’d gone about things differently…

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As I nervously sat down in my first RCIA (Roman Catholic Instruction for Adults) session, the last thing I expected to hear from one of the sponsors was, “That Martin Luther, if only he’d gone about things differently he’d be a saint by now.”

“Excuse Me?” I thought. “Didn’t I just introduce myself as a former Lutheran in a Catholic Church?”  I thought for sure Catholics as a group must have it out for those big bad Lutherans! It turns out that while some Catholics are very against all things Luther, many are graciously accepting of his human nature. I have found most Catholics are actually fairly indifferent and know very little about him at all.  For many years I had been selling Catholics short.

It took time for me to come to terms with the fact that no one looked down on me as a former Lutheran. The truth is I had to rectify this discovery with my former image of the fuddy-duddy old Catholics who thought they were better than everyone else.  I had a problem though… I couldn’t stubbornly resist an attitude towards me that didn’t exist. It turned out that the Catholics weren’t going to put me down.  Teach the Truth of the Catholic Church and instruct me when I was wrong or misinformed, yes.  But treat me as less of a person or less of a Christian because I wasn’t one of them?  Not once.

I have thought about that day many times as my family completed our journey into the Church.  I have gotten to know the sponsor who made such a shocking statement to me quite well.  She is a person who perpetually sees the good in a person’s actions.  She accepts their human nature and looks beyond that to how she can serve their needs.  Legally blind, she comes to mass with a giant magnifying glass so she can witness the consecration in colors and blurs each week.  She regularly organizes teams to cook for our weekly dinner following evening mass on Sunday.  When my boys told her she was like a rhino because they can’t see so well either, she laughed and thanked them for sharing.  She told them to always come and say hello when they see her so that she can learn their shapes and voices.  She has every reason to be bitter and cold, not to see the best in people and situations.

So what’s my excuse?

I don’t need a 500-1,000 year wait like Luther to know that I could be going about things differently.  Every day is a new opportunity to treat people with dignity, compassion, and respect.  Every day is a new opportunity to be a vessel of grace to those who surround me.  I’ve been a confirmed Catholic for 6 days and received Holy Communion exactly once.  It is probably time for me to start doing things differently.