Pray First II

PROGRESS REPORT 2017

**Please see Pray First for last year’s blog post.

5:00 a.m.- Mini Hubby sneaks into bed

5:30 a.m.- I am awakened by a head butt, pajama clad foot, or small fist to the face.

6:00 a.m.- Oldest son is rummaging for breakfast.

6:05 a.m.- Mini Hubby decides it’s time to get up and I stumble into the bathroom to help him get out of footie jammies. Make rookie mistake of squatting in front of him while he does his thing. Change my pajamas.

6:15 a.m.- Remind Oldest Son to match, brush teeth, wash face, put deodorant on, take meds, finish breakfast. Put down the electronic! Pack backpack, get lunch, and put boots on.

6:30 a.m.- Daughter is up, sort of.

6:45 a.m.- Remind Oldest Son of several of above. Have a great day! Kiss your mother goodbye!

7:00 a.m.- Breakfast for other two. Meds and clothes for Daughter. Wrestle all eight arms and six legs of unwilling toddler into clothes.

7:15 a.m.- Braid four feet of Daughter’s hair. Pack backpack with folder, snow pants, gloves, hat and lunch. Remind her to wash her face, brush her teeth and put deodorant on.

7:30 a.m.- Start van. I’m on the clock now. I have fifteen minutes, give or take, to check in.

7:35 a.m.- Mad dash to my closet! Turn on worship song of choice (Lately, this has been Give Me Jesus **Note: On really tough mornings this is played while I’m hiding under my blankets in the fetal position**) and focus my heart and gaze on the One I’m kneeling for. Thank God for another crazy day, for the air in my lungs and fifteen minutes with Him. Pray for help serving this family with joy and selflessness and for guidance throughout my day. If it’s a really good day, I will finish and have a chance to just rest a moment in His presence. Or, today, my phone will ring.

7:50 a.m.- Oldest Son calls to see if I can drop off his forgotten glasses. Find Daughter with an entire box of crayons emptied onto table and request she get ready for school instead. Find Mini Hubby sans clothes watching cartoons. Retrieve discarded clothes from one end of house to the other and tickle the octopus on steroids into submission (clothes). Who gave him yogurt?!

8:00 a.m.- Coats, boots, hats and out the door!

8:05 a.m.- Run back in for Daughter’s school shoes and Oldest Son’s forgotten glasses.

My day continues the way it starts with more chaos and more prayer. I’m truly grateful for a God that doesn’t require an appointment. He takes walk-ins and is never over booked, or too busy. I pray in the van (a lot), the kitchen, on the floor folding laundry, in waiting rooms, drop off and pick up lines (yes, I’ve been honked at) and at the foot of little beds. Actually, it may have been easier to list where I have not prayed. But though I’m thankful for these moments, they’re not my favorite. Because you see, God gave me another gift this past year….

The foot of closet space I claimed, painted, hung up a cork board and found clearance lights from Target for. My quiet place to pray!

This is my favorite. Though someday I may get that hour in the morning to start my day, for now, He meets me here after the house is asleep. It’s just me and Him. And He uses every minute. Oh, the things I’ve learned this year!

For example. The piece of scripture that has most influenced my prayer life. Psalm 116:2 Why?

Because He bends down to listen!

He wants to hear me, to hear from me! I can no longer imagine God too busy taking care of much bigger things to listen to little insignificant me. Or that He is bending down and checking His watch at the same time! Waiting for me to untangle my thoughts into words, while tapping his foot. After all, He’s never required me to have my ducks in a row before coming to him in the past, why would prayer be different? The best thing though, is sometimes when I’m gathering thoughts and stop talking, He responds! This is so exciting, I have (maybe once or twice) squealed, “Love you, Bye!” and popped up off the ground like a Jack in the box. Like I just got great news on a long distance call from a relative. Then I have to settle back down and thank Him properly.

Not every night is a revelation. He’s also taught me that I need to bring my heart. And to be honest, some nights that’s all I have to bring. Some nights my Bible remains unopened, my prayer journal not written in, and my prayer list forgotten. But I still bring myself. And the knowledge that He knows my heart, my mind, and everything I can’t yet put into words. That’s okay too.

I am extremely grateful for the chance to look back at last year’s Pray First blog and to be encouraged by progress, not perfection. Because at this year’s Pray First I was convicted once again with a growth area for me. Praying aloud. In front of people. Without getting hives or hyperventilating. I wish I was exaggerating. I truly am getting better at this. I can do it. For a short period of time, and not eloquently. But I am still so very aware of the ears around me that I struggle to dig through the complete black hole my mind becomes to find every word. Why is this so hard for me?!

A part of me does not want to share my  vulnerability with anyone but God. My time in prayer is still very private and I cry (a lot), and do things like jump up off the floor in excitement. These are things I don’t particularly want to do in front of other people. So that had me thinking. Is it me being self conscious? Because I don’t want to be. I want to be God conscious. I want to be able to focus solely on Him regardless of who is next to me. So, I think this will take practice and time for me. And a lot of benadryl?

What ways have you grown in prayer this last year? What areas of growth do you have? Come on, don’t be shy! After all, I told you about being peed on!

Pray First

I just got an invitation to our church’s second annual “Pray First” breakfast. This time last year I took a look at my prayer life. Yes, I had made significant progress, but, was I praying first?? I wanted to! So often I found myself in the evening, worn down from all of the NEEDS and distractions, and messes. Thankful for the exhausted quiet that permeated the house. And lamenting every poor word choice, missed opportunity with the kids, and things I didn’t accomplish. When I stumbled, exhausted, into our bedroom, listening to Hubby’s rhythmic snores and the static of the baby monitor… I’d finally pray. And because this was the first time today, it took awhile! And because it was the first time today, half of my prayer was confession of every thing I did wrong that day. And begging for help for the next! So, was there room for improvement? Boy Howdy!!

But what does that look like? Realistically? Let me paint you a word picture.

I was blessed with two boys, who since crossing the threshold as squalling, wrinkled infants subscribed to the whole “early bird catches the worm” nonsense. I place the blame for this affliction squarely on Hubby’s broad shoulders. His mother confessed (after we were safely married) that until puberty Hubby also had the bizarre notion to rise with the sun. Now, our amazing daughter and I would happily stumble into our day at a much more reasonable hour, like lunch time.

So,even though I’m routinely woken up by a demanding toddler at the indecent hour of 5 a.m., this does not mean my brain is actually functioning. It goes something like this.

5 – Retrieve toddler, three “favorite” blankies and try to convince him to watch cartoons in my bed and stay quiet. Retrieve waffle. Retrieve milk. Change soggy diaper.

6 – Oldest boy wakes up. Send him to try matching again (also Hubby’s affliction). Sign folder. REMIND. Wash face, with soap. Brush teeth. Try again. Put deodorant on. Help him find socks, that match. Violin. Kindle. Coat. Eat your breakfast!! Out the door! 

7 – Wake up sleepy daughter.Repeat basic procedure minus the matching difficulties and add in time for the four feet of hair. Dress uncooperative toddler. Retrieve a dozen toys he needs to bring with.

8 – Out the door!

8:10 – Send daughter back in for her backpack.

8:15 – Everyone is strapped into their seats!

This is it! I close the passenger door, brain is functioning, I breathe that sigh of relief. If you’re a parent, you know the one. When they’re all buckled in and no one can escape and it’s QUIET!

Before I get in I realize, this is my moment! I stand shivering in the cold, watching my breathe come out in little white wisps of winter air and look at the sun He has given me today. I close my eyes and thank Him for car restraints, for helping me through a morning of chaos in which I’ve done nothing they’ll later pour out on a therapist’s couch, for the opportunity to care for this crazy family He’s given me. And ask for His guidance for the rest of the day, etc. At this point the natives are restless and a squabble is starting. Renewed, I get in the van, explain that Mommy needed a minute with Jesus, and tell them to turn on the Veggie Tales!

A funny thing happens when I “start” my day this way. During the ride to school I’m singing, out loud  (much to their dismay), songs of worship instead of mentally going over my list for the day. I get home and take advantage of Sesame Street and take a shower. But instead of rushing through my routine, to get to my chores, I take the time to put on the armor of God.

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This small amount of scripture, given to me at a Dwelling Place meeting at church, has helped ground me in His Word more mornings than not.

Sporadically throughout the day, when I’m counting backwards from ten for the tenth time, when I open that enormous unexpected medical bill, when I get that phone call, that threatens to send me into waves of anxiety and fear I am slowly remembering to stop and pray first. Do I do this perfectly? Not even close. But when I do, I’m rewarded with the reminder that I am not alone. That this place is not my home. That He will use all of this and make it good! And my thoughts are centered not on myself, but on the One who made me. Thank you Jesus!!

Someday. Someday when these whirlwind mornings become a thing of the past, I will miss it. Someday when I no longer need sheets of paper in my bathroom with life sustaining scripture just to catch a few minutes of His Word, or a broken piece of Alibaster jar in my purse to remind me who I’ve surrendered my whole mess to, or a blue bracelet on to remind me to believe Him, and I pass into that next phase I can’t wait to see how my prayer life grows!

Until then, I will continue to hunger and thirst for every drop of Truth and Love and Light He gives me, in whichever form I need to do it. Standing outside my van, at my bathroom sink, digging through my purse, at my kitchen counter, and be so very thankful that He continues to meet me where I am, as I am.

Do you pray first? And what does that look like for you?