Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Ring Around My Toilet Bowl

"In your anger do not sin."  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.        Ephesians 4:26-27, 29

     I have this persistent ring around the toilet bowl in my upstairs bathroom that just won't go away.  I'm not sure if it's because of the harsh water here in New Hampshire (there's a reason why it's called "The Granite State"), or because of my less than consistent housekeeping routine.  It most definitely increases and decreases based on how long it's been since it's seen Soft Scrub with Bleach and a scrub brush.  But no matter what, it's always there, dark or faint, right at the water line.  I guess I'm not the only one who experiences this.  It's actually been a topic of conversation at several neighborhood parties.  No lie!  My neighbors and I have even purchased cleaners and sponges for each other, trying to battle the problem together.  But no matter the cleaner, it's still there.
     I also have a persistent impatience problem that won't go away.  I'm not sure if it stems from nature or nurture, and it most definitely increases and decreases based on how much sleep, prayer and "me" time I get.  But no matter what, it's always there, right beneath the surface.  I guess I'm not the only one who experiences this.  It's been the topic of many conversations with other moms.  We share war stories and tips for trying to control it, but it's still there.  
     Although my kids don't notice the ring around my toilet bowl, they most certainly do notice my impatience.  Moreover, they are usually the ones on the receiving end of it when I let it loose.  As my most sensitive child, I watch my seven year old son Mason visibly wilt under the sting of it.  No matter what way I look at it, or try to justify it due to a lack of sleep or prayer time or "me" time, it's not okay!  My role as their mom is to build my kids up, encourage them, be a safe haven for them, and be a role model for them.  My impatience does none of those things.  Instead, it tears them down, turns them away, and teaches them it's okay to give in to their own impatience.
     I don't think I can ever completely get rid of my impatience problem.  I think it's just one of my many character flaws that I will have for life.  Like the ring around my toilet bowl, it will always be there, right at the surface.  However, I can bleach it of its power with prayer:  prayer before my well is empty, and prayer especially in that millisecond between my kids' actions and my reaction.  I know that that is easier said than done. However, I've experienced the power of prayer.  When I do remember to pray in that critical second, it works every time to diffuse the situation, and me.  
     I want my actions and words to be "helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."  When my kids are grown, if all they remember is the ring around my toilet bowl, I can live with that.  On the other hand, if all they remember is my impatience, that is something I will regret always.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Five Eggs and A Camera

And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,"This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."  Luke 22: 19   

     In addition to the usual piano, karate, band, snare drum, Faith and Play, gymnastics and homework, there were other special events happening this week that my mommy-brain just could not retain.  Although most of the world has progressed to electronic reminders on their computers and iphones, the most advanced I've gotten is a beeping alarm on my blue, $10 plastic watch that goes off at 3:15 p.m. every day to remind me to get my kids at the bus stop!  I'm just an old-school girl who reverts to the backs of 8 1/2 by 11 recycled school papers  and a gigantic Sharpie marker to create good old-fashioned signs that I strategically place around the house:  "Zack's Parent Teacher Conference, Tues. @ 6:45 p.m." hung from the handle of the oven, "Mason's Spring Concert, Wed. @ 1 p.m." set in the middle of the breakfast island, and "Five Eggs and A Camera" taped around the strap of Jocelyn's backpack.
     Today was Jocelyn's nursery school Spring party with an Easter egg hunt that I was volunteering for.  I knew that if I didn't have that reminder note taped to her backpack, I'd be the lame mother who showed up empty handed.  Moreover, I would lose the opportunity to capture the event on my camera for her birthday photo book.  But because of that note, I showed up with happy colored plastic Easter eggs with treats inside, and got some great photos to remember the day by!
     Like I place reminders around the house, there are reminders placed in the mass to focus my attention on where it should be.  At the consecration, during a Catholic mass, not only are there the words, "Do this in memory of me," but there is the raising of the host and wine as a visual reminder, and the ringing of those beautiful bells as an auditory reminder.  That's three different ways I'm being prompted to focus on the miracle, and the immense sacrifice that Jesus made for us.  Yet, most times, I'm either selfishly praying for my own needs, nudging my boys to kneel up respectfully (versus that lazy half kneeling, half sitting pose they strike), or keeping my daughter from rolling under the pew like only a petite little three year old can.  And trust me, in my days before kids, I was just as skilled at missing the reminders by paying more attention to the swirl of thoughts in my head, than to what was actually happening on the altar.
     As we approach Good Friday, the day that commemorates all that Jesus did for us, may we all heed the signs that remind us to be humbled, awe struck, and profoundly grateful from the bottom of our hearts.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Resurrecting Answers to Prayers

     While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler, "Your daughter is dead," they said.  "Why bother the teacher anymore?"
     Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue leader, "Don't be afraid, just believe." 
 Mark 5:35-36

     The synagogue leader falls at Jesus' feet, fully confident that Jesus can heal his daughter.
     But when Jesus is delayed by the hemorrhaging woman, the little girl dies.  The man loses his certainty, and the crowd supports this lack of faith asking, "Why bother the teacher now?"
     But Jesus knows that the passage of time, even death, are obstacles easily overcome with God.  So He tells the man to ignore the crowd, "Don't be afraid, just believe,"  Jesus then proceeds to bring the little girl back to life.
     When too much time has passed without an answer to prayers, or when we experience the death of a dream, hope, or plan, do we assume it's not worth it to "bother" God about it?  Do we become fearful and lose our ability to believe?  Or do we listen to Jesus' words, ignore the voices of doubt all around us and within us, and continue to have faith?  If we did, would we witness Jesus bringing an answer to life, resurrecting our dreams, hopes or plans?  It sure is worth a try!