I received an email from a fellow "hiker" - one of you. Her email was quite relevant to the temptations I faced recently. We were out as a family Sunday. We went down to a lovely area in the city. A place that has lots of "green". Trees, grass, and we even saw quails. I love quails because they are part of many childhood memories. I haven't seen them here in Phoenix. Looking at the area, the homes, we then ventured to an outdoor shopping mall. The children were running and laughing around. It was evening time and many families were out and about. The stores were all lit up with beautiful items. I was taking all of it in. Instead of just thanking the Lord for the beauty of everything, I couldn't help but feel comparisons coming on. Why couldn't we be one of those families? A family with all children here. What about all the beautiful over-priced merchandise? It was all so beautiful. Why does everyone look so happy and COMFORTABLE? I want comfortable. Why don't I deserve any of that? Why do they? Such feelings and questions started to whirl in my head and emotions in my heart. As we walked by each store, I looked at each one and would just say to myself - "Lies." Pottery Barn - "Lies". Vera Bradley "Lies". Origins - "Lies" Saks Fifth Ave - "Lies". Haagen-Daaz - "Li-- No actually delicious." J.Crew - "Lies" too. However, none of this put out the fire of envy. Where do these things come from inside? I love beauty. I enjoy it. I am drawn to it. Who isn't? However, seeking the mere imitations will only last briefly. My wise husband reminds me again, that even as I look at the people who seem to have "comfortable" lives with all children present, we still never know what their lives are like or what they have been like. And most people who are worth admiring went through great trials and overcame them. How does he speak such words and immediately my soul is calmed. The embrace follows and I feel very COMFORTABLE in his arms - actually more than comfortable, I feel safe, loved...content.
The sister in Christ who wrote to me told me a quote her father would tell her that he heard from priest. He said, "God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to be extraordinary." Thank you, sweet sister, for reminding me of this. Why not both? Can't we be comfortable and still receive heaven? At times we are. God gives us respits on our journey. He places oasis in the desert, havens during storms, plateaus when climbing the mountain. He is so good. But He does not want us to get too comfortable because something awful happens if we do - we become lukewarm. And Jesus promises that if we are lukewarm he will spit us out of His mouth. It's more repulsive to Him than being cold towards Him. Therefore, comfort is for the Kingdom, not for our earthly life time. I know, I cringe at that reality too.
I was also asked what I do for my prayer time and if I could blog about it. Hmm...My prayer time is constantly changing and like everyone else, finding time to make it a priority can be challenging as schedules change and life flies. I'm no different than anyone else for that matter. My prayer time lately is in the evening. It's a difficult time of day for me because I am so tired, but no matter how exhausted I am, I know the Lord honors it. There are times I when I sit before Him so tired and weak, and simply say "Well, I'm here. I made it." And that's it. I just sit ready to fall asleep. There are evenings it doesn't happen. I remind myself of what St. Therese said when she could not go to Mass and receive the Eucharist because of her poor health. One of her many famous quotes is "Everything is Grace". This stemmed from it. She mentioned that when she gets to go to Mass every day it is indeed a grace, however times when she cannot is a grace as well. The intention of missing prayer time must be pure , not just "I don't feel like it." However, I have said that as well and then I rely on God's Infinite Mercy as well after I ask for forgiveness. I often fall asleep praying the rosary or Mercy Chaplet sitting still. I pray those during the day usually while I'm driving, running, etc. I sit in silence. I am learning to let the Holy Spirit speak more than me. I praise God aloud. I read Scripture. I read other spiritual books. I meditate on the Passion, on Jesus life. I write in a journal. I cry and complain. I don't do all of them in one sitting. Some nights it is a short prayer time - ten minutes. Some nights it is long 1-2 hours. I remind myself when I want to unwind in front doing something I enjoy - art, TV, reading, emails, etc. That if I have time to those, I have time to pray first. However, I know my day is a prayer too. All my offerings, my service, my teaching the children, and loving those before me are all prayers. We have images of Jesus, Mary, Saints etc. and they remind me throughout the day to praise God in a moment. I sing praise songs while I do the dishes or get meals ready. I talk to Heaven throughout the day. We stop and make a visit at a chapel. We try to go to Mass throughout the week. So I know, the prayer is my life, not just the moments I decide to sit down in silence. Both disciplines are just that - disciplines. I work at them constantly. I fall short daily. I get back up and try again. Mondays, John has atrium class while Gia has her morning nap. I LOVE that time because I get to pray in the morning while I am refreshed. But that is just Mondays. God will take whatever we have to offer and multiply it. That's the business He's in, that's who He is. Think of the story of the fish and loaves. Never get down on yourself for falling short. It gives Satan too much room to work. I hope that was the answer looked for. I find too as a parent, it is so important my children see or know we, as their parents pray. It's different than even saying a family prayer. It teaches my children how important it is for one's personal life. They see the consistency just like they see me cook three meals a day for the families needs. The food of the soul is just as important! More so actually. It shows them that God is first in their parents lives. It teaches them to do it as well. I shared how Stella would do it - not every day but she would ask me to light a candle for her and she would go in her room for five minutes and say she was going to go pray. It was soooooo precious. She would come out skipping and happy and telling me what she prayed for. OH SWEET GIRL, I MISS YOUR SHEER JOY!! How all of Heaven must marvel at it in you, Stella!