Mary Lou Quinlan lost her mother. When she starts sorting through her mom’s things, she discovers ten boxes stuffed with prayers from her mom. Whenever anyone needed a prayer, Mary Lou’s mom would jot it down on a scrap of paper and put it in her God Box. Some prayers were simple; some prayers were complex. But all were heard by God.
I know that I keep a prayer journal that I write in whenever I go to the Adoration Chapel. My husband has a prayer list on his phone. He hears about someone and jots down that person’s name before it leaves his mind. I look at my “God’s box” and realize that my prayers, too, range from simple to impossible. Then, I remember that for God, nothing is impossible. Do you have a God box?
How could I not mention that today, October 4, is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi? After a wild young life, Francis chose a simple life. Ah, how to live the simple life. We do it to ourselves. We try to keep up with others in our town; we see the kids of the town involved in traveling sports that cause miles of travel on the families’ cars (not to mention the hours involved) and think that maybe our kids are not involved enough in sports. We see the new car of a neighbor and think maybe our car is too old. We stress out our own kids to get better grades so they can get into better colleges so they can get better jobs. Where does it stop? We need to think about a simple life. But, we need to work at it. Does that make it not simple anymore?
Now our church has a blessing of animals for St. Francis. Last year was the first time we ever attended. We dragged our two dogs and three cats (in cages) to the church for their first ever blessing. It was a nice ceremony, but it was not a good outcome. You see, we lost 3 pets in the last year. Our first pet was TC, my son’s cat, who had a “catastrophic stroke” vet’s term. Nothing we could do but put him down. A few months later Boo Girl died in my other son’s room. He found her just before he went to bed. Yeah, she was 19 years old, but she was still active. Then this past summer, our active, loving dog Bunker woke up paralyzed. He had been running after squirrels the day before, but all he could move that morning was his head. He was such a gentleman. So, our pets will not be going to church this Sunday for their blessings. Isn’t it amazing how a pet is such a part of our family?
I found this book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver in a local church’s bookstore. I had gotten there a bit early for a funeral service and strolled through the store. I found this book and remembered that I had heard the title before. It comes from Luke 10:38-42. When Jesus comes to visit, Martha starts working in the kitchen to get everything properly prepared for her guests. Mary, on the other hand, sits at Jesus’ feet and just listens.
I often feel that I just don’t have enough time in the day to just sit and listen or pray or read or meditate. More times than not, I am like Martha who is bustling around the house doing chores or cooking or cleaning. Why does no one else see that the kitchen trash can needs to be emptied? Or the shirt left hanging over a chair? Or the dust bunnies so large that they could give a real bunny a scare? Perhaps most of us are like Martha, but we need to stop and listen to Jesus–in other words, we need to take some time off. I tried this experiment–don’t try it at home or you will be disappointed. How many of you have left a pair of socks on the floor and waited to see if someone else picked them up?
My sweet husband handed me another New York Times article called “Embrace Your Age, And Conquer the World” by Peggy Klaus. This year Peggy turned 60 and laments how we babyboomers sometimes fudged a little on our age. Well, I turned 60 two years ago, and some days I have to ask my husband, “How old am I?” Not because I am getting forgetful but because I don’t feel old. I guess having 2 teen sons makes me always feel young or sort of young. I do remember one “friend” who learned I was in my 50’s after lunch one day. She commented, “You are older than my oldest sister!” She and I have never had lunch together again. No, not my fault, I have invited her, but she hasn’t come.
I am seriously thinking of getting a part time job. I know that we often pray to God about what we want. “I want my kids to do well in school.” “I want my husband to get a good job.” And, it is said that God answers our wants with our needs. Well, my husband has started a new company which is wonderful. He is happy and creative and loving it. Marketing is his passion, and this is a great place for him to be. So, I need a job to help our family. I don’t want the job, but I need the job. I have applied for it and am waiting to maybe get an interview. I know that if I do get the job, I will enjoy it. But, I still need the job. And now I think about that newspaper article, and I wonder if my age will be a detriment.
I look at the photo of the white impatiens in my backyard. In September in the Chicago suburbs, people are beginning to dig up and throw away their old summer flowers and plant mums–the fall plant of Chicago. But, this pot of flowers still looks pretty good. Still looks like it has some life left in it. Is that me? Will I be thrown out (of the job market) because I am old like those impatiens? Or will someone believe that I have life left in me?
Joyce Meyer’s book Battlefield of the Mind was given to me last summer, but I didn’t read it until this summer. And, it meant so much to me. Joyce has a simple yet awesome philosophy. We must keep our minds with good thoughts. We can’t allow negative thoughts enter our minds because that makes us sad, angry, depressed. She believes that those bad thoughts come from Evil. And we must continue to work on being positive. And, when I had some stressful times, I was able to fight the battle and use her advice: keep thinking of the words of God. Pray and those negative thoughts will lose on the battlefield of your mind. Everyday we must fight the good fight. Do you have negative thoughts to pray away?
Last Sunday my husband gave me an article from the New York Times titled “It’s Not ‘Mess.’ It’s Creativity.” He told me that it proves that his messy home office is a sign of creativity. And that leads to the fact that my two sons’ bedrooms can continue to remain messy. According to Kathleen D. Vohs, a professor of marketing at the U. of Minnesota, “a cluttered environment fosters innovation, studies show.” Well, now I see why my husband liked this column. He, too, is a marketing person. He owns his own business, and constantly is creating new ideas. He’s called a ” rainmaker” by others. My sons? One is a creative word smith who loves creative writing and reading. The other is his own Rube Goldberg person. He is always imagining how things work and how they can work better. As I look around our home and see mess and clutter, I am thinking maybe they have a good idea. Maybe all this mess is an incubator for creativity. Maybe it is giving me permission not to have to tackle the messes. So, go back to reading that book, Pam. How does that sound?
OK, today I got an email telling me that I can turn my iPhone in for $$$. Well, I already checked the Apple site, and my phone is worth (drum roll. please) ZERO DOLLARS. Now, this is not Apple’s fault. It is my fault. At two lunches last week, I showed my iPhone to friends and quizzed them, “How much will I get when I turn in this phone?” All guessed $150. I get zero dollars because it is a 3G. Yes, my iPhone is old. And was is it so old? Because my family has a plan that when a new phone can be added, Mom always gets pushed to the back of the line and some one else in the family gets the new phone. My phone is so old (now I feel like an on stage comedian) that I can’t download any apps. The apps are for the newer models. At least I can still download iTunes so the Beatles still keep me company when I walk. But, my family says that I will get the new iPhone this month! How often do we moms sacrifice for our family?
Rev. Francis J. Hoffman is probably better known as Father Rocky on Relevant Radio. Relevant Radio is a Catholic based radio station that is quite popular with us Catholics. I was fortunate to hear him speak at our parish last winter. After his speech, I picked up his book “Pray the Memorare.” (My husband Nick also got him to sign it to me!) For those who don’t know, the Memorare is a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since we Catholics celebrate her birthday on September 8, I wanted to tell you about this wonderful book. It is an easy read where Father Rocky takes the prayer apart, line by line, and explains it to the reader. Some of the sentiments that made an impact on me were: “God doesn’t need our prayers. We need our prayers.” (p. 18) And there are certainly more than enough times to count how saying prayers has led me to a good place. Another statement: “Mary is my mother.” (53) I always knew this, but since my mother passed, I feel that Mary is my earthly mother besides my heavenly mother. I know that She hears my prayers. Another: “Prayer is about changing you and me” (100) “and he’ll always give us what we need.” (101). That’s the key–what we NEED not what we think we want. Finally, Father Rocky talks about “contemplative prayer” (119) which is a 2 way conversation. I find that when I go to our Adoration Chapel, when I just sit and let God’s warmth come over me, I can hear the words of Jesus and Mary, words that help me continue on. “Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored they help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.” Find the Memorare and learn how we have both an earthly and heavenly Mother who will embrace us as we stand before her. Have you had a conversation with Mary lately?
Posted in Books
Tagged Adoration Chapel, Blessed Virgin Mary, Catholic, contemplative prayer, Father Francis Hoffman, Father Rocky, Mary, Memorare, prayers, Relevant Radio, religion, spiritual
Yes, I live in a fraternity. Not the kind with the fancy Greek letters, but a fraternity nevertheless. I am the only female in our home. My husband is a warm, understanding man, but he is still a man. As most wives know, it takes a long time to train them in the finer points of life. Such as throwing out the kitchen garbage but not putting a new, clean plastic bag in the container. Oh, well, at least he doesn’t sit at a bar drinking three nights a week. I truly did win the jack pot with him. It has just taken me 20 years to teach him. Then, my children–my sons. Two teen aged sons. One walks around with his boxer shorts (much like Axl on “The MIddle.”) My other son greets me with “What’s for dinner?” while he is eating breakfast. Yes, a true fraternity. Boxer shorts and food. Then we move on to the pets. Two dogs (ok, really one because we just lost one of our boys in August–and he was a gentleman–always sitting patiently waiting for his treat but he is still near and dear to my heart), three cats–all male–one fish and one turtle. The boys ask me how I know that the turtle is a male. I know because all he does is eat, poop, and sleep. And he doesn’t clean up after himself. Now, I don’t want you to think it is terrible being the only female in the house. I have a wonderful life in this household of males. I am the Queen! I am the Mom! I am the one who no longer has to lift heavy boxes or carry groceries in from the car. I have a strong group of men around me. And, I don’t think I could handle having another female in my home. What do MOOS (mothers of only sons) think are the benefits of being the only woman in a home?