Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Most Important Way To Prepare

{Inspired by a conversation with my dear friend Mel}

On the night before co op, I start diapers in the washer.  The kids were scrubbed, girl's hair braided, sent to bed.  Their outfits for tomorrow set out, waiting.

I mark one last thing off my check list and set my bag by the back door.  Folder? Check.  Cell phone?  Charged and ready.  Breakfast?  All set.  Dinner? Planned.  I do a late night walk through, picking up the random clutter that collects on a daily basis in this little house packed with 7 people.

We all have our ways of preparing.  A friend of mine with 10 children spends her weekend cooking, stocking her freezer for the hard days when making dinner is more than she can handle, but eating out an impossibility.  Another friend won't leave the house without all her machines running: dishwasher, laundry, bread maker.  When your family consists of even a few small children, preparations can be long and complicated for even the shortest trip outside of the home.  Diapers and snacks need to be packed.  Excursions need to be carefully timed, optimizing the short period between naps.

Even with everything meticulously planned, the next morning is chaos.  By the time we leave the house, it looks like a bomb went off.  My attitude is already suffering as we pull out of the driveway and picks up where I left off when we make our way home.

How is this possible?  The kids come running into the house, papers and projects from school explode, mixing with jackets and shoes.  I'm already defeated and they are asking for lunch.  I let all of my planning and preparations lull me into a false sense of control, and find myself shocked when things don't go the way I had hoped.

It's when I'm setting peanut butter and honey sandwiches in front of each of them that I realize what's missing.  That I forgot the one main thing, the true catalyst of how a day of this magnitude would go.  I forgot prayer.

Something so still and small, whispered in the dark of early morning before the little ones woke up, can make or break a day.  Isn't that always how it is?  We forget the one way to live a life of peace and purpose despite the whirlwind we're in.  The one way to keep my cool when all my silly little plans go awry and the toddler gets breakfast all over his clothes mere moments before we are scheduled to walk out the door.

Prayer takes our plans and sets them securely back in the hands of God where they belong.  It reminds us that a dawdling toddler is not the end of the world, nor the child who can't find his baseball cap 15 minutes before the game.  Prayer reminds us that each day is a gift and every good and perfect gift comes straight from the hands of God.

After the lunch dishes are done, we head outside  and I work in one of the garden boxes.  The 3 year old digs his hands down as deep as they will go and comes up all encrusted in dirt, clutching a worm.  His smile is a bright revelation and how can I be worried with a little mess when so much good life is taking place? Through prayer I can set aside my well laid plans and choose His best instead.  

Prayers for perspective often get me to this place: acceptance of the gloriously messy way that true life works its way out.

Romans 12:12 

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.


  1. I've had so many days like this. And yet I can still forget to start the day by centering in prayer! The simplest lessons seem to be the hardest for me to learn. I think of Luther's words often - something along the lines of "I have so much to do today that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer."

  2. Perspective somehow changes everything - even when circumstances stay the same.
    I think perspective and an attitude of worship are a mothers essentials :-)


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