Thursday, August 30, 2012

On days like today when my toddler dumps a whole bottle of ranch dressing on the table, I pray for patience...and forgiveness, because before I sat him and his sister, who so kindly unscrewed the top for him, in time-out, I grabbed his arm roughly and yelled at both of them for making the mess.

There is plenty of laughter, silly dancing and singing, bedtime stories and hugs and kisses in our home, but with four kids there is also four times the spills, fights, personal demands and mischief-making. And, silly woman that I am, I can't seem to acclimate myself to going to bed at a reasonable hour, after years of poor sleep while nursing babies.

I don't need God to simply strengthen my patience muscle; I need help changing my habits, being more aware of positive steps to be taken before the fact.

I do surprise myself with how I've grown. Yesterday, my daughter dropped a toy in the toilet. I didn't yell at her but simply steeled myself to do what I had to do. After I rescued it and scrubbed my hands, she was crying and apologizing, and I hugged her and reassured her, "It's fine. I know you didn't do it on purpose." I remained calm the whole time. This germ phobic gal has come a long way.

There are times when I congratulate myself on how I've handled an unhappy situation, times when I've felt graced with the right words for a difficult conversation. But then there are times when I wish I had reacted differently - wish I hadn't yelled, wish I had been better able to control my stress and move beyond and let go.

I thank God for my children in my prayers, but in speaking with Him I also ask for guidance in being the best mother that I can be to my four children. There is nothing more important, and I want to grow in this vocation more than any other.

I know there is plenty of room for improvement.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thanks Be to God

A week ago I stood at the ambo and proclaimed God's Word for the first time to my church.

I had meant to do it much earlier. Almost two months ago I had taken my training to be a lector. But then I had outpatient surgery, had to wait for my certificate from the Diocese, and then had to renew my safe environment training. After that I waited to be alerted about my schedule.

Every Sunday we went to Mass, and I had a secret fear that I was supposed to be the lector but didn't know it. Every week my anxiety was present as I walked into our church. Eventually, though, all this anxiety built into an impatient desire to perform this wonderful task to which I had committed myself.

"I'm ready to be a lector," I told my husband after Sunday Mass two weeks ago. "I'm ready, and I'm going to write an e-mail and see if I can be scheduled."

But I didn't write the e-mail. A whole week passed, and I did nothing.

On Saturday I got a call from Mrs. M, the wonderful lady who manages the lector's schedule. She asked me if I had taken my safe environment class. I responded that yes, I had, and I thought the Diocese had notified the parish. They hadn't, but she was glad to hear it. And I knew what was coming before she spoke.

"Are you available for the 11 am Mass tomorrow? I have an opening for Lector 2."

We worked the details out; she refreshed my memory on the essentials; and she told me she would say a little prayer to help me through my nervousness.

I got off the phone and began to laugh, feeling joyful. You say you're ready, and God hears. You do nothing, and He arranges things for you.

At Mass I prayed that my reading would please Him, and that he would help me to be disinterested in my own image and appearance to others. I was nervous. But I remembered that Mrs. M had said that she figured if she made a mistake while reading, after saying the lector's prayer, that it was what God wanted her to accept, humbly.

And I did make a mistake. After reading from a letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, I forgot the lectionary on the ambo when I left the Sanctuary, and so the deacon, carrying the heavy Book of the Gospels, had to first replace the not-at-all-light lectionary on the shelf before he could read. I could have kicked myself. Two or three people had admonished me not to forget that simple task. But I'm sure Deacon knew it was my first time and has had many greater challenges thrown his way while serving the Lord.

I still find myself incredibly honored to be able to proclaim the Lord's Word. My mistakes have been many on this journey, so I am amazed I have this opportunity at all. Yet I also feel that by lectoring regularly, I will grow spiritually and become a better servant. I do not study the Bible as often as I used to when I was younger, and this is the perfect, blessed way to immerse myself in it once more. I am ready to Proclaim God's Word again and again. I am ready.