Monday, July 27, 2009

But What Will *I* Eat?

Yesterday's Gospel was the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes from John 6. Our priest gave an excellent homily about faith, but later in the afternoon as I worked on our budget I meditated on a different aspect of the story. Andrew says, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" John 1:8-9.

I thought for a while about the boy. I am sure he was just as hungry as the rest of the crowd. What was he thinking as all this transpired? Had he offered his lunch so that Jesus wouldn't go hungry and would continue to teach and heal? Had the disciples cajoled him out of it or had they just noticed him unwrapping it and sitting down to eat and not even requested it yet?

I feel pretty confident that whatever the situation, the boy gave his lunch willingly, but probably not knowing what was about to happen. And I have to wonder did he, even for the briefest moment wonder, "But I am hungry too, what will I eat now?"

He could have been a better person than I am and that would not have even crossed his mind. But I assure you it would have crossed mine, even if I was giving my lunch up willingly.

That was where I found myself yesterday. Wondering what was left, how the money that comes in will possibly cover all we need it too - it always looks like such a dire situation on paper, and yet we always get by. But my ability to have faith and hope that God had us in His hands faltered.

If we stop there in the story we miss the whole point. We are left with a hungry little boy who has volunteered his lunch. But if we continue we realize that while he had no idea what was about to happen, what did happen was more than he could have ever dreamed. Not only was he fed all he needed, but so was every one around - because he was willing to sacrifice his lunch that day.

As a mother, my energy and time sometimes feel like that boy's lunch - not nearly enough to go around. But if I keep handing it over to Jesus, letting Him have it ALL, even when I wonder "but what about ME?" he can do more with it than I ever dream of doing.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Reevaluating Peace

I began this study some years ago because I felt constantly unsettled, pulled in all directions, and like chaos followed me around like a shadow. I was in a state that I didn't want to live in our drag my family through. Starting the Peace Study helped me a great deal, but I eventually let it slide like so many other projects I have started.

With the advent of baby number seven (nearly a year ago now) and my oldest child hitting adulthood, my life has taken forms of chaos I never dreamed possible. And yet somehow I know that constant inner turmoil is not what God has in mind for me. Surely, "our hearts are restless until they rest in You" must mean that there can be some relief from restlessness.

So I have been reevaluating lately, asking myself what exactly it is that I am longing for. My hope is that I can help my husband and children to have a haven of peace in our home. There is enough chaos out in the world - our home should be an oasis from that. But I have trouble doing that if I have no inner peace to give them. Thus this peace study; my own search, via Bible and Catechism study, for peace. To draw closer to God and find the Peace He holds especially for His own children, and only then can I communicate that to my family.

How on earth does a mother of seven find peace?

A standard answer here is that she needs some time to herself. Yes, this is true. But honestly? I get a lot of time to myself, probably too much. I take that time away from my family. And while this "indulging myself a little bit" is supposed to bring me peace and allow me to give of myself to my family some more - it never does. It leaves me feeling a little more drained and a little more overwhelmed when I have to step out of my cocoon and rejoin family life. I think that the problem is that I have not been using that time very wisely. (Time management was never my strong suit!) I need to take time for myself, but I need to do things with it that are actually going to help me towards my goal of having a peaceful, loving family life, being a good wife, and most importantly being closer to God.

Well, doesn't that just sound like more work? Don't I already have enough to do? I thought I was supposed to get a break from work!!!

Think of it this way - If you were starving... just ravenously hungry, junk food would fill up your stomach. You might even grow accustomed to it and like it a whole lot. But it always leaves you craving something else, some real nourishment.

I have been "recharging myself" with junk time. Minutes that never amount to anything and that I will never get back, What I really need is real nourishing time. I need time to pray and study scripture, I need time to exercise (my body is a temple - a temple in disrepair, but a temple nonetheless), and I need time to plan how to run my home. There is always going to be time for fun - and being with friends or bonding with family over a game or some shopping is certainly very important - but if I don't do the very basic things then my time with friends and family is bogged down by my number one peace thief: nagging thoughts.

Nagging thoughts are all those things you should have done. The phone calls you procrastinated, the gift you should have purchased, balancing the checkbook. You ate too many cookies, you wasted time on this or that. Yeah, I have done it all and more. And at 2AM, when my eyes pop open and rest evades me I wonder why I didn't just take a few minutes to do the things I should have done yesterday. And there are tons of good reasons. Usually it is just because I got distracted and forgot. But sometimes I just avoid things and then they follow me around, pecking at my brain until I give in and do them.

I have been watching people lately. I know some people who I consider to be peaceful people and who have homes that are peaceful and restful places to be. And you know what I noticed about most of them? When something needs to be done, they just do it. They seem to understand something that has taken me my whole lifetime (so far) to grasp: it is just much less trouble to do what needs to be done now, instead of waiting until later when other jobs have piled up on top of it and not only will it take you twice as long, but you have spent all kinds of energy letting it nag at you in the mean time.

This post in long and rambly and if you have gotten this far, I hope it was worth it! Here it is in bullet points:
  • Time to myself should be fruitful, nourishing time, not junk time.
  • I need to stay on task and do things when they need to be done.
  • While these things sound neither peaceful nor restful, I think they will result in both.

Friday, May 9, 2008

9 - Deut 20:10-12

Deut 20:10-12

When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. But it it makes no peace with you but makes war against you, you shall besiege it.

Context: God is giving the Israelites laws concerning their warfare as the go to take possession of the Promised land.

In my own life this is a guideline that I could easily use in my conflicts. Especially towards my children, when there is a conflict I tend to assume the worst and come out with guns blazing. Most often I am wrong. When that happens I find myself hurting feelings unnecessarily, then I have to apologize and back pedal and I lose credibility with them. So as I "draw near to a city to fight against it." I need to do two things:

  1. Make sure the other party is actually in the wrong - an important step that I too often skip.
  2. If they are in the wrong, I still need to approach in peace.

Think first, talk second, act last.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

8 - Deut 2:26-27

Deut 2:26-27

So I sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sihon the king of Heshbon with words of peace saying, "Let me pass through your land; I will go only by the road, I will turn aside neither to the right nor to the left."

Context: The Israelites have been in the wilderness for 38+ years. Up until now, God has had the tread lightly through he lands owned by the descendants of Esau & Lot. Now God has told Moses that it is time to start taking some actual territory by force - but not from Esau's or Lot's clans.

So Moses sends messengers Sihon telling him that he will deal peacefully with him and just wants to pass through fairly as he has done in other lands. Even though God told Moses that it was time to use force, Moses offered a peaceful solution first. This is where the verses listed above come in. King Sihon refuses and comes out to meet the Israelites for battle. Sihon loses the battle.

Just as Moses tried to make peace even when force was allowed, so I think I need to proceed peacefully before jumping into battle. (Battle = daily conflicts) If a conflict needs to happen, it will, but I don't need to encourage it.

Also, looking only at the verses, I think maybe that is how I should proceed through "the world"; peacefully and fairly, like a stranger in a strange land. Neither absorbing the traditions of that land nor getting distracted from my path or stopping the progress of my journey.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

7 - Num 6:26

Numbers 6:26

The Lord Bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Context: These are the words that the Lord gives to Moses to give to Aaron to give to the people. God wants Aaron to bless the people with these very words. It comes after a long list of laws & rules and directly before the dedication of the altar.

This seems like and appropriate prayer for others in my own prayers.

It suggests that a look from God will bring us peace. But how would I know I was getting a look from God (and thus receive His peace) if I am not looking towards Him?

Keeping my focus on God seems to be conducive to peace and the other blessings of this prayer as well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

6 - Lev 26:6

Leviticus 26:6

And I will give peace in the land and you shall lie down and none shall make you afraid, and I will remove evil beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.

Context: Leviticus is a book of laws and instructions for ceremonies. This verse is near the and of the book. God is saying how he will bless them if they keep to His commandments. After this verse He follows up with punishments for disobedience.

While this blessing is under the Old Covenant and therefore doesn't apply as literally as it might have then, I think peace will be a result of staying clear of sin and having whole-hearted faith.

Peace in the land = peace in our general areas of life. This doesn't mean (to me) freedom from conflict, but maybe freedom from internal turmoil.

Monday, May 5, 2008

5 - Ex 18:23

Exodus 18:23

If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.

Context: Moses has been judging (governing) over Israel. His father in law comes to him and tells him how to delegate the task so that Moses does not get worn out. He basically explains a hierarchy to him. Verse 23 is the conclusion of the father in law's speech.

Thoughts: Come at things with a system in mind. Delegate responsibility. Use resources - including time - wisely. This will help me to have the energy to persevere and those around me will benefit also from the peace.