Saturday, October 30, 2010

Praying With My Hands (and Feet)...

I heard of "praying with your feet" indirectly from Mat. Anna Crawford's blog, and I do it often on Sundays.  For about a year now, I have been baking prosfora for our church.  I try to find a time when the kids are occupied so that I can bake prayerfully.  I always begin by praying that God might make a worthy offering of the bread although it comes from mine unworthy hands.  Sometimes He does...sometimes not so much.

Tonight I had my two children and two others with me when my husband reminded me that we need bread for tomorrow.  I had put the children down for bed about thirty minutes before he came home with this reminder.  So, I thought I would jump on the task immediately so as not to be up too late tonight.  I prayed. I scooped out my tablespoon of yeast, heated 1/4 cup of water to mix with 1 3/4 cups, mixed it together, added my teaspoon of salt and 6 cups of flour, and began to knead.

A few minutes into the kneading process three of four children were up.  I  had to stop to chase one perambulating baby in need of a diaper change, quiet a chattering toddler who was riling up her older sister, and calm said sister before kissing her goodnight again.  As I returned to my bread in the same way I return to liturgy after dealing with children, I was reminded that there are indeed many ways to pray and sometimes even without knowing it I do pray constantly throughout the day.  I pray with words when I ask or thank God for blessing my family and when we gather in the icon corner to say evening prayers (I can barely get my family ready and out the door in time as it is and never manage to say proper morning prayers), but I pray with my hands when I bake, and with my feet when I am about the business of raising my daughters as Christians to the glory of God (to the best of my ability and certainly with a lot of His Grace).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Goodness...

It is amazing what kids observe and remember, even the youngest ones.  A few months ago we went out with friends to brunch at an Irish Pub.  On the walls were several old Guinness ads, including one with the logo "My Goodness, My Guinness."  My older daughter who has become a reading whiz noticed the ad immediately, and she spent most of the brunch repeating the phrase.  It was cute at first, then got a little old, and finally we had to ask her to stop.

Just the other day I found a Guinness coupon in the paper, and I clipped to use for a party later.  Julia saw it on the counter and instantly recited, "My Goodness, My Guinness."  She remembered it and was delighted to have a new occasion to use it.  Even more impressive, my toddler was with me in the store when I decided to use the coupon because Guinness was on sale.  As soon as I started pulling the package from the shelf, I heard a small, "My Goodness" in the adorable lisp of a two year old.  I stopped and laughed for a second.  He sister was not around to lead her, and I had not realized that she studied the ad at brunch enough to remember the style, but there it was.

I wonder if they will remember the ad when they're old enough to drink Guinness.  Probably not, and the more pressing reminder for me is that they absorb everything, remember it, and repeat it.  This is why I continue to struggle with my own imperfections and try to be on best behavior.  Like the kids themselves, I often fail, but I'll keep trying since I know how much they learn when I least expect it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Smile to Get You Through

I've been feeling pretty stressed lately... worrying about everything from money to children's behavior and other stuff.  There have been so many moments lately when I just can't help letting a few tears fall.  I keep hearing from people that a mother is the backbone of her family.  That she needs to be strong to get everyone else through the tough times.  But sometimes I just feel so weak.  Nevertheless, I force myself to smile at my daughters, at my husband.  I concentrate on listening to them, complaints and the occasional joy.  I know it helps the girls, and that if I want to give them a foundation on which to build future happiness, I must continue to engage even when I'm feeling sad and overwhelmed.  Lucky for me, if I focus had enough, it sometimes reflects back to me and picks me up a bit.

The girls really like to laugh and smile.  Yesterday we experienced a smile that made even Daddy smile back and almost laugh.  Sarah grabbed his leg when he came home from work, and while giving him a big hug, she looked up and smiled.  It was contagious and in no time we were all smiling for a little while.  This kid really has a way of doing that.  Just a bit ago, she made me smile again in a different way.  We were reading Goodnight Moon before nap time.  I read the first page ending with "...a picture of..." and Sarah finished it with "cow jumping on bed."  She's obsessed with Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.  It made perfect sense that if a cow was going to be jumping, he would be on a bed.  Really, who jumps over the moon?

Amidst all the worries I'm so thankful to have my family.  I do my best to support them all despite my weaknesses, but they surprise me and support me, too.  I can think back on so many occasions, even very recent ones, where each of them has done something to help me keep going.