Don’t Whine in Prayer: Use your words and ask!

There’s been a lot of crying and whining in our house lately. And not just from me. Mostly from the 2 and 4 year olds but even the baby has been joining in. When they are upset, they don’t say, “Mommy, I’m having a hard time opening this box. Will you please do it for me?” They simply throw themselves on the ground and start screaming. How in the world can I help them when I don’t know what it is they want? I have been trying to teach Lily to simply say the word “help” when she wants help with something instead of screaming at the top of her lungs like she is injured and needs to go to the ER. I tell her, “Use your words and ask.”

In my mom’s group recently, we were doing a bible study on prayer and I came across the bible verse that most of you I’m sure have heard before:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” “…how much more will the heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:7-8;11 (NAB)

There is much we can learn about God our Father through being a parent. And through being a parent, I realize how much I am like a child. What God was telling me through this verse was, “Don’t just throw a fit because I’m not giving you what you want! Use your words and ask!” He desires for us to ask for the things he wants. Through communication- through a relationship with our heavenly Father- he can give us things that are good for us.

In fact, just this morning, Timothy started screaming and punched me in the stomach because I wouldn’t let him have a brownie for breakfast. I told him he could have a brownie after dinner (pending better behavior), thereby answering his request. But I desired so much more for him to have a healthier breakfast and get the energy he needs to have a good day. So the answer to the brownie for breakfast was no, not right now. But, if he threw another fit, he was going to lose his brownie altogether. Thank goodness God has more patience and gives us many more chances than that!

Prayer is a relationship with God built on communication. There is no room for fits. Sometimes when Timothy is having a hard time not getting what he wants or with sharing, he says (usually in a pouty voice), “Mom, today’s just not my day.” And I reply, “That’s okay. Life is hard sometimes. It doesn’t have to be your day everyday.”

I think God answers the same thing to us. We are allowed to say, “God, today’s hard. I feel like quitting. I just can’t do it anymore.” And he says, “That’s okay. It doesn’t have to be your day today. But I have prepared a place in heaven for you where every day WILL be your day.” But we can’t just throw a spiritual fit and get mad at God because it’s not our day or we aren’t winning the lottery or getting our brownie for breakfast. We have to pray and ask God for the things we think we need or even want, and then wait for him to respond.

Because sometimes it's just not your day.

Because sometimes it’s just not your day.

As I look back on all the major deciding points in my life – from college, to a job, to my husband and family, and all my little jobs and decisions along the way – God has never let me down. He’s always answered my prayers and given me the desires of my heart. But in HIS time, because God the Father knows best.

So no more whining in prayer! Just use your words and ask!

Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.”

John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”

Psalm 145:18-19 “You, Lord, are near to all who call upon you, to all who call upon you in truth. You satisfy the desire of those who fear you; you hear their cry and save them.”

Parenting and Perspectives

Timothy turned 4 back in April, and got some gifts of course! I had him sit down to draw a thank you card for his grandma. I went to the bathroom and when I came back he had drawn this:
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My first thought was “F. U. is not a good thank you card”, even though his Grammie is very understanding. But when he explained it to me, it was through the eyes of a 4 year old that can’t pronounce his th’s. Hence, his attempt to spell “Fank” resulted in a “f” and then a “c” for the k sound.

I kept these things in my heart until a few days ago when he drew this beauty and asked if he drew a 6:

IMG_1881If you’ve taken high school biology then you are picturing something very different than a number less than 10.

The theme from these stories is perspective. Sometimes I get so frustrated with Timothy for not obeying or for doing something I see as destructive. But instead of yelling and giving time outs all the time, when I ask him to see the world from his eyes, his reasons are never malicious. And then it becomes a teaching moment. The number 6 is not sperm. Thank you is spelled with a “th.” You cannot hang on the window shades because it will break them. I know you think you are a construction vehicle, but I told you not to forklift the piles of clothes I’ve already folded because then I will have to fold them all over again. You cannot feed your baby brother a chicken nugget because he will choke. Etc. Etc.

Communication is the key to any good relationship, and the same holds true with parents and children.

“Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NAB

“Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instructions of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NAB

Baby Gates, Budgets, and Boundaries

luke happyLuke is 10 months old (almost 11!) and is now walking all over the place. Watch out world, he’s not stopping!

When he learned to crawl a few months ago, once he got the hang of it- he just took off. I used to be able to sit him on the floor with a few toys around him and check in on him every few minutes while I got things done around the house. I clearly remember the day when I set him down, got something out of the fridge, turned around, and he was gone. He was at the top of the stairs and I caught him just in time. Very soon after that, the baby gates went up.

With the baby gates up, I can contain him to the main floor of the house and I don’t have to worry about not having my eye on him every second. With boundaries, there is peace. With boundaries, Luke is free explore his world without falling down the stairs and getting hurt.

As I was grocery shopping the other day, I was thinking about how the boundaries of the budget give this same peace. Before we started budgeting, I always felt guilty about grocery shopping. I know we need to eat food, but did I spend too much? Even if a steak was on a good sale, should I have opted for something cheaper instead?

Now, with a budget, I have a set amount to spend. Within that amount, I have freedom to splurge a little on special occasions and cut back in other areas, as long as I meet by budget by the end of the month. Boundaries give peace, and freedom.

And so it is with our wise Heavenly Father. He gives us the 10 commandments and the teachings of the Church – not to restrict us, but to give us freedom. I put up a gate so Luke doesn’t fall down the stairs. God give us rules and boundaries so we don’t fall from grace. And with a “morality budget”, if you will, we are guided to not overspend on earthly desires so we don’t suffer the consequences later.

In the parenting world, I think that’s how strategies like Love and Logic work. You give them two choices to choose between. You have set some boundaries- they only get choices that you have already deemed good choices- but they still get some freedom to choose between the two.

So even though I’m fairly new to this whole parenting thing, I suspect if we keep in mind that boundaries give freedom through security, we can pass that mentality on to our children. Not only through our own set of parenting rules, but through handing down the doctrine of faith as well. God is a parent who loves us, and his rules are there to protect us; to give us freedom and peace.

luke gate

He may not be happy about it now, but it’s for his own good.

 

I’ll be happier when…

When I was in high school, I used to think that I’d be happier once I got to college.

And, I was actually right. But then, I started thinking, “I’ll be even happier after this paper is done, or I pass this class, or I have a boyfriend, or I find a job.”

After college, I thought I’d be happier once I had more kids in youth group, or once I was married. And then, it was once the baby was born.

Then, once the baby was sleeping through the night. Or stopped nursing, or was done teething, or could walk.

I’d be happier if I quit my job, or had a new job, or stopped having kids. Or if we had more money. Or I could get one night of uninterrupted sleep for heavens sake! It seems there is always something standing in the way of my happiness. But am I searching for happiness, or joy?

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I’ve been painting these Saint Peg Dolls of Maximilian Kolbe for a saint doll exchange. And I’ve been thinking about his life. How he spent several years in Auschwitz, giving away his meals, never complaining about the work or the beatings, and eventually spending the last weeks of his life in a starvation cell. While in the cell, he sang psalms and hymns and gave thanks to God, mediating upon Christ’s passion and praying bible verses. ¬†Even without external circumstances of happiness, he had pure joy. And now, a saint in heaven, he experiences the fullness of happiness in every second of eternity.

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Kolbe’s cell in Auschwitz is now a pilgrimage site.

 

I went on a retreat this past weekend and realized that my life is like pointillism art. I am so focused on the dot, that I don’t step back to see the whole picture, the whole beautiful masterpiece that God is creating out of all the dots of my life and my children. I don’t have that eternal perspective, but I want to. So this week I am praying with this Scripture where Jesus says:

“So you are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts with rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you…ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” John 16:22-24

Even in our day-to-day circumstances, we can find joy instead of chasing after fleeting happinesses.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!