What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger: A Potty Training Story

WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart…or stomach.

Everyone tells you that with hard work & consistency, your child will eventually be potty trained. Everyone says that one day it will just click. Everyone suggests that you utilize awards and M&M’s as incentives. Everyone reminds you that potty training & poop training are two different things. Everyone points out that boys are tricky. And everyone assures you that you’ll survive.

I believe everyone…almost. We are about four months into potty training Peter, and my wonderful intelligent beloved son still hasn’t had a fully successful twosie.

I keep questioning if I’m doing something wrong. Maybe I’ve missed the key inspirational speech that will suddenly motivate my child to put his crap where it belongs. Maybe my kid is just textbook stubborn and can’t be bothered. Maybe he just doesn’t understand the proper order in which these things are supposed to go; he always tells me immediately after he’s done his duty.

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Whatever it is, I found myself in another out-of-body parenting experience just a few days ago. It was the kind where you wonder how it’s possible that you ever thought parenthood was this glowing and glamorous lifestyle. The kind where you know God must be watching you from above and giggling.

It was the kind where I found myself furiously scrubbing Lightning McQueen underwear out in a bathroom sink at Target. Naturally, it would be the only sink in a long row of sinks that wouldn’t drain. But I refused to be that woman who left floating remnants of her child’s fecal matter swirling there for the delight of the cleaning crew later. In my desperation, the thought did cross my mind to “dump & dash.” But dignity and determination won out in the end, and I paced the floor waiting for the drain to function properly again.

Then I turned to the real task: my son, who had somehow wiped the toilet down with his excretions and smeared it liberally on the back of his shirt. All the while, he yelled, “This is disgusting, Mommy! It’s really gross” as if I had somehow forgotten the level of nasty we had rapidly descended to.

The good news is that the sink did drain and was wiped clean. Also, we were shopping at Target, so a new shirt was purchased for my stained son. I’d really love to tell you, though, that this was the one and only instance that week of a spoiled (or soiled..haha) outing. But Peter is becoming my unwelcome Golden Ticket out of social functions. (Instead of limitless access to chocolate at Willy Wonka’s Factory, I have a different kind of fudge on my hands.) This whole miserable process happened again the following night, when we had to make a swift exit from a wedding we were attending. And it happened again the next morning when we were out running errands at Office Max.

Needless to say, I called my mom crying, and Peter went in a diaper for awhile. Sometimes you need to know your limits. This week, I reached mine.

Thankfully, my mom in her wisdom reminded me that every season of parenting has its seemingly insuperable challenges.  I have survived “terrible twos” with Peter, and for the most part, he’s now a pretty pleasant and polite little human. There is hope! The conversation also reminded me that nothing can steal my joy except my own heart’s unwillingness to see beyond my circumstances to God’s greater good.

Admittedly, I’m not fully sure what the greater good is in floating feces in a Target sink, but I trust in a few weeks, months, or years, I’ll have a story of grace to tell about it.

Stay tuned, faithful readers, stay tuned.

P.S. Peter, this is going to embarrass the crap out of you someday (see what I did there?) Sorry, not sorry. 🙂

Hope by the Sea

Can we just agree that Amazon Prime is a gift from God? I don’t have to load my sweaty children into a burning furnace of a car to shop the town, and I only have to wait 2 days before delightful cardboard packages begin arriving at my door. And I haven’t even mentioned that you can stream every. single. episode. of Downton Abbey…for free (a period-piece-ophile’s dream). It’s worth it, friends.

For some reason, I always forget about the other goodies that Prime’s Instant Stream has to offer. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately) for me, last week I remembered and decided to watch this film that won all kinds of gold last awards season. I’d seen the trailer, and I was intrigued. The movie chronicles the story of a man who gets custody of his 16 year old nephew after his brother dies. So with my babies snoozing away in the afternoon, I sat down with a plate of cookies to enjoy some “mom-time.”

Warning…spoilers ahead.

As I watched, I became more and more puzzled by the main character’s odd behavior: why he was so awkward around women, why he would get into completely unnecessary fist fights with people, why he worked and lived in isolation, why he didn’t cry when it seemed right that he should.

And then halfway through the film, a major flashback revealed the horrible cause: His drunken mistake. His house engulfed in flames. His 3 children trapped and burning in their sleep. His wife devastated and angry. His empty apartment after the divorce is finalized. And our main character left alone, existing in a numbing gray fog.

I probably should’ve turned the movie off at that point, because my pleasant afternoon of “mom-time” had turned into an afternoon of me gut-crying on the couch. But I didn’t. I was waiting for that thing we always wait for in movies…

When the team is down by 10 points, and it seems impossible that they can make it up in the last moments of the game…

When the meant-to-be couple is separated by an inconsequential misunderstanding that good communication could fix…

When the hero is trapped by the villain, and it doesn’t seem like there is any way out…

What do we hold onto when we watch scenes like these? HOPE.

I kept watching for the hope. I kept waiting for the main character to forgive himself, for there to be a glimmer of healing. I kept expecting him to finally agree to have lunch with his ex-wife to talk about their loss, to grieve together after they had been broken apart. I kept anticipating him deciding to move back to the town where he lost it all so he could be a good guardian to his nephew.

And it didn’t happen. Instead, the main character summed up in four words what the film is about: “I can’t beat it.”

Hopelessness.

There was one vivid scene in the film that has stayed with me. The nephew goes to have lunch with his estranged mother who had been an alcoholic and had left their family when he was young, an absolute wreck. He’s visiting to see if he could potentially live with her, since his uncle just wants to get out of there and move back to Boston. She answers the door of her nice suburban home with her new husband by her side, a set of pearls around her neck, her cardigan buttoned up neatly. Over the mantle is a picture of Jesus Christ, and the son glances up at His hallowed face from time to time as his mother nervously serves him lunch. There is an anxious tension in the room, an underlying volatility that is being suppressed in that perfectly clean home. That tension dissipates only when the mother excuses herself from the table, and you hear a glass bottle clang in the kitchen.

Hopelessness.

It was the filmmaker’s bow to despair, a white flag waving out that there are some problems that can’t ever be fixed. There are some people who can’t ever be made whole. There are some injuries that time doesn’t heal. All that is left are bandaids on gaping wounds, fake fixes and cover ups. All that is left is to keep on existing. It’s a film about grief, not recovery. Because, do we ever really recover?

It broke my heart to watch, because I so strongly believe that there is hope. I’ve watched people I love walk through deep pain, and come out on the other side with genuine joy. It wasn’t pills or personality or paintings on the wall that made the difference. It was a deep soul cling to a Hope outside of themselves and their pain. It was a resolute grip on the belief that there is Someone intimately involved in their struggle, who is not frightened when faced with their doubts, their anger, their mistakes, and their brokenness. It is a death clutch to the promise that He experienced the worst kind of earthly torture so that they could be ultimately healed. I’ve seen people I love “beat it” on these foundational beliefs. To unclench their grip would be to surrender in that sea of pain and inevitably lose faith & hope.

All of this is not a bandaid. It’s not a cover up. It’s not pretend. It’s genuine pain purposefully nailed down and fastened deep into the hands of a real God. Pain in His hands is given purpose. Pain in His hands holds the promise of healing. Pain in His hands is not hopeless.

Re-Read 2017: Jane Eyre

Now we come to the book that inspired it all: Jane Eyre. I needed an excuse to re-read this book. It’s been a few years (and a few unsatisfying movie adaptations) later, and I needed to be reminded why this book is amazing. Why is this book my favorite?

PAST. What I Remember From My Last Read.

I loved this book because of Jane. Jane, the woman who was young, but strong, who wanted to use her mind instead of sitting around all the time, who did the right thing even when she could’ve gotten away with doing the wrong thing…Jane is a heroine we don’t see in modern literature. She is smart but homely, independent but hates loneliness, passionate but self-disciplined. There is so much tension in this singular character, no wonder she’s the book’s title, narrator, and focus. There aren’t many leading ladies written like her.


PRESENT. My Thoughts As I Read.

This is probably the 5th time I’ve read this book, and for the first time, I struggled with it a little bit. Reading it was absolutely enjoyable as all of these re-read books have been so far, but there was a nagging thought in the back of my head as I read that just wouldn’t go away:

I can’t for the life of me figure out why Jane & Rochester would be attracted to each other.

Why would Rochester fall for Jane? She may have been passionate as a child, but she buried all that impulsivity under the foundation of her disciplined will. She admits that he does most of the talking. Was he attracted to her because of her willingness to let him drone on? Or maybe it’s because she’s pure, the only thing in his life untainted by the repercussions of his youthful folly. But that just makes him seem like a creeper. Not to mention, that he could almost be her father. Rank up, major creeper.

What about Jane? Rochester is moody in personality, often unkind to his subordinates, and brazen about his past indiscretions. What is the appeal for her? Is it because he’s nice to her (although he definitely wasn’t at first)? Is it because it’s the first time in her life where she’s experienced some semblance of love?

More than that, she comes back to him at the end…even though [SPOILERS] he tried to marry her when he was already married. This is a major deception. All the healthy relationships I’ve had the privilege to observe up close have always had trust as their foundation. If you can’t trust the person you’re with, you’re going to have problems.

FUTURE. What My Thoughts Are After I Finish It.

To be honest, I’m not really sure where to go from here. I’m conflicted. This was always my favorite book, and re-reading really did reinforce the things I’ve always loved: the tension of our heroine, the dark setting that you can almost visualize in your mind’s eye, the happy ending.

BUT…

…if I was interacting with an 18 year old who was engaged to a married man who didn’t tell her until it was discovered on the day of their wedding, I can tell you definitively…I would not advise her to go back to him.

Even if his castle did burn down.

Lyd’s List * April 2017

They say a lot can change in a short of amount of time. They weren’t kidding. 

Here’s some of the goings on in Engram life since my last list:

Leanor: It’s hard to believe that she’s one. But add to that some walking and a little talking, and I’m wondering where my baby’s gone. She’s still as sweet as pie most of the time, and her current favorites are reading books in her brother’s chair, bathtime always & giving loves to all the baby dolls/stuffed animals she can get her hands on. 

Peter: We have entered a new world of potty training. They say boys take longer, and as it is now week 2 & Pete has yet to really tell me that he needs to go, I’d have to say that I agree with them. But I have spent about 6 months overthinking and stressing about potty training, and now I’ve decided to take it one day at a time with very very low expectations and see where we are at the end of May. They also say he won’t be in diapers by college, so I continue to hope. 

Jame & Me: You read my last post right. I’m most definitely pregnant. It was most definitely unexpected. We are most definitely happy to be welcoming another GIRL into our lives in October. I’m most definitely going to stop the most definitely’s. God’s continuing to teach me that when I say “definitely” with any my plans, I’m messing with His sovereign realities for my life. And His realities are always better than my “definitely’s” even if I can’t see it at the time.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

1) The Boyfriend T: One of the things I’m realizing is that I have 2 distinct wardrobes in my closet: clothes that I wear when I’m out of the house or to church & clothes I wear to sweat in. There isn’t much of a middle ground, which is a problem since as a mom I’m home a lot with my kids and don’t particularly want to look frumpy every day of the week. I’m realizing that I need to build up some options for “mom” clothes that aren’t workout clothes or sweat pants but also are comfortable & casual for days at home with the littles. I stumbled across a fit I love when I was thrifting with a friend, and I think it may have changed my life. Old Navy Boyfriend T’s. It’s scoop necked and loose with fitted arms and a pocket, but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like a Lularoe perfect tee does. In fact, Old Navy was having a major sale the other day, and I went over to see if they had any fun colors. I bought 3 shirts for $12 and change, even less than advertised on their online sale. I never understood the Old Navy hype, but I’m now a believer. Thank you, boyfriend T. You are the one.

Exhibit A. This one I thrifted.

2) Paramore is releasing a new album next month and just dropped a single. Jame introduced me to this rocker girl with the crazy range when we were dating, and Haley has been the lead vocalist of many many many of my athletic endeavors (ie: slow jogs) in the past. Seriously, Paramore just makes you run like a #girlboss. The new single has a really different vibe than a lot of their older stuff. It incorporates some interesting synth sounds, and instead of Haley powerhousing through the song, she almost sing-talks through parts. It’s a different sound for them, maybe even a bit more mainstream than some of their past projects. As Jame put it, “That chorus is going to make them a lot of money.” And let’s be honest, he’s probably right. And also, I’m not complaining. We’ve listened to it a few times, and the verdict is we both like it and are excited to hear the rest of the album when it comes out.

3) Ruffle Buns: It’s April in Phoenix which means we are pushing 90’s, all our jackets are hung up until November, and I’m testing the limits of how high I can leave the thermostat without sweltering. Say a prayer for us, rest of America…it’s only going to get hotter. In the spirit of full disclosure, last summer my kids were barely fully clothed if we were at home. It’s so expensive to keep the house at a comfortable temperature, that we’ve resorted to partial nudity to compensate. Fortunately, my sister thought of this last year when she was splurging on her only niece, and purchased Ruffle Buns for Leanor. It’s basically a girly diaper cover. And it’s completely superfluous, but it does allow for my little chunk to run around half naked and still look bootylicious. I’m a good mom, so I care about such things 😂

That does it for this list. I’m not sure how often I’ll post these lists, but hopefully more regularly than I have so far in 2017. No promises. I think life is only going to get a little more crazy.

~Lydia

The Lament

Last night, I stood in front of the bathroom mirror brushing my teeth…and I sobbed…ugly style.

There is no major crisis in my life right now. I’m not grieving the loss of a loved one. My heart is not broken. My kids are healthy. I have a husband who loves me.

But my house is a wreck. I’m potty training my son, and let’s be honest…he peed on me about half a dozen times yesterday. Pregnancy hormones have me snapping at everyone about stupid things that normally wouldn’t phase me (like 7 cups left on the bathroom counter). The Diamondbacks game last night was lost…to the Padres *eye roll* (ok, that one isn’t really real). 

All of a sudden, it all came out in large uncontrolled sobs. Sobs about my inadequacy to keep everything moving perfectly. Sobs that some days I just want to run away from my beautiful children. Sobs that I was mad at the people I love the most for trivial reasons.

My sweet husband listened to me rant between gasps for air (stifling back chuckles at my melodrama, I’m sure) and then gently guided me to bed…where I slept for the next 8 hours.

I guess joy does come with the morning…and perspective comes with a little extra rest.

This morning I’m happy to say that I do have a more rational outlook, and I’m reminded that my issues are not as big as they seem. I have a dear friend who is saying goodbye to a family member for whom we’ve been praying for years. I have a couple of other friends who are experiencing the fresh sting of a breakup and the uncertainty that accompanies dreams deferred. And I have another friend who is battling a degenerative disease that is not fully explained. Those are real reasons to weep uncontrollably over a bathroom sink.

Same Mess. Better Perspective

In college group, we are talking about the different elements of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. We’ve talked about prayer before; the ACTS prayer model is not new to me. But after reading Psalm 44, I think we could reasonably slip one more category of prayer in there.

The Lament.

If you get a chance, you should read this Psalm, because it literally is a frantic rant. I’ll paraphrase it for you.

I’ve heard it from my parents and grandparents about all of the amazing things you’ve done for them. You brought them success. You brought them victory. And I know any success I’ve ever had is from you. I don’t trust in my own strength. I trust in Yours. When I have success, I only praise you, because you are the only one who can do it….(and here’s where it takes a turn)…Now, WHERE THE HECK ARE YOU? Everywhere I turn I’m beaten down. I’m shamed. I’m disgraced. I’m alone. And I haven’t even rejected You. I have followed after You and sought You at every turn, and I’m being crushed. And I know You can do something about it. So WAKE UP, GOD! Don’t reject me forever. HELP ME! I know that You love me.

This is why the Lament isn’t prescriptive like the rest of the ACTS prayer model; it’s reserved for a season. It’s designed for times of brokenness.

But it IS Biblical.

How can all that rage be ok? You are talking to a Holy God. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to talk to Him that way, right?

There is no “BUT I will trust in you” in this Psalm like there are in so many others. But deep within the recesses of this frantic angry letter to God is the death grip of faith. The Psalmist believes that God CAN do something. The subtle premise of this Psalm is trust in God’s capability. He’s heard about God’s power in the past and has seen Him intervene in his own life. He knows that he is loved by God. While there is doubt and questions in his mind, the author believes God is listening and has the power to act.

At some point in our lives, we will be here, crushed by circumstances that make no sense and seem impossible to overcome. In those moments, the worst thing we can do is silently fume or pretend like we aren’t broken by what is happening. It’s ok to question, to be angry, to yell at the ceiling as if He’s asleep.

Because He’s not.

God desires open and honest communication with His children. He’d rather us run to Him in difficulty, questioning and begging with our fists up in the air, than to run from Him like He doesn’t exist. Even angry prayers imply that He exists to hear them. He’d rather we rage to Him than not speak at all, because silence is what kills relationship. Sometimes the lament is the only place to start rebuilding what has been broken.

Perhaps a disaster of a house and hormone driven mood swings are not lament-worthy, but it is comforting to know that God wants to hear us even when it’s messy. He’d rather hear the honest cry of the sinner than nothing at all. And He does it all because of His unfailing love (v. 26), that doesn’t change when our circumstances do, that doesn’t stop when our feelings towards Him dip and dive. That’s reason enough to “praise His name forever” (v. 8)

Re-Read 2017: Sense & Sensibility

This is why people re-read…You’re guaranteed satisfaction.

I’m actually surprised at how much I’m enjoying revisiting some of these old favorites. I’ve forgotten so much of what I’ve read, so I’ve found new surprises in each book. And I don’t feel the rush of racing to the end, and the leisure that is created means that each encounter with the story is enjoyable. This is how I felt coming back to Sense & Sensibility.

PAST. What I Remember From My Last Read.

Not only does this book have my favorite Austen-to-screen adaptation ever (shoutout to Oscar-winning Emma Thompson), but the book itself is so lovable. I recently watched the film, so it was fun to see where the screenwriter pulled and adapted the novel for Hollywood, what she left out, and how she sequenced events.

There is so much to love about this book. The characters are not one dimensional. Edward is admittedly awkward, but equally endearing. Elinor seems to be unfeeling to emotional Marianne, but the author lets you into this older sister’s brain, full of emotion but guided by a sense of responsibility, logic and honor.

I also love the quirky side characters: John Dashwood (who is so self-consumed that it’s almost funny) or John Middleton (who measures the worth of a man not on their character but on the quality of their dogs) or Mrs. Jennings (who for all her good intentions survives on gossip and matchmaking).

PRESENT. What I Love As I Read.

Re-reading reinforced the main themes of the story for me. Elinor is the sense, and Marianne is the sensibility. Unlike Pride & Prejudice where neither of the titular characteristics are to be desired, in Sense & Sensibility there is a definite elevation of one quality over the other: sense over sensibility. Marianne even admits as much to Elinor at the end of the book that she regretted her total emotional shutdown following Willoughby’s betrayal; she wishes she had responded with the same sense of duty that Elinor had demonstrated following her disappointment with Edward Ferrars.

The author seems bent on reminding her audience that just because you feel things doesn’t mean that it should rule how you behave. Marianne believes that every emotion should be embraced to its fullest; anything less feels dishonest to her. However, she finds that this approach does not serve her well. She passionately and openly loves Willoughby, but it makes her heartbreak even more palpable because she never set up emotional boundaries for her regard. Her heartbreak then becomes debilitating, so much so that she disconnects from every social interaction that she’s forced into.

Elinor is the contrast, a kind of foil. She has also had her hopes dashed. She has also suffered. But she is still kind to the people around her (even the annoying ones). She still honors her promise to Lucy (even though she never sought her confidence). She exerts herself for the protection of her family and the healing of her own heart. She says it like this to Marianne:

“If you can think me capable of ever feeling — surely you may suppose that I have suffered now. The composure of mind with which I have brought myself at present to consider the matter, the consolation that I have been willing to admit, have been the effect of constant and painful exertion; — they did not spring up of themselves.”

However, I think the most cathartic moment for me in re-reading this novel was not the lack of emotion in Elinor but the release of emotion at the very end when Edward reveals the truth about Lucy’s marriage. Elinor, our beloved companion throughout the story known for control and reserve, bursts into tears. There is a place for unchecked emotion. In this context, it’s a beautiful response, a fitting conclusion to the tension that you feel for the character throughout novel.

FUTURE. What My Thoughts Are After I Finish It.

What makes a book a classic is when the ideas presented within are timeless. A struggle between sense and sensibility, truth and emotion, is just as prevalent today as it was in the Georgian Era. Austen is brilliant because she can communicate these enduring truths within the framework of an extremely well written narrative. During this read, a few of her ideas began to prominently stand out from the page.

First, I began to realize that unchecked emotion was being presented in the novel as an isolator. When Marianne was in love, she refused to hear any other opinion about her behavior, even when it verged on the imprudent. All she thought of was herself and Willoughby. This is an isolation; she is unable to see Willoughby’s weaknesses and when the truth comes out, she defends him when he doesn’t deserve it.

When she experiences her heartbreak, Marianne internalizes and won’t let anyone into her struggle. Elinor is at a constant loss on how to help her sister, because she just won’t talk about what happened. Furthermore, Marianne begins to distance herself from all of her social obligations. When they are interacting with their friends at a party, she barely pays attention, prefers to sit alone, silently scoffs at the company, and broods over her problems. This isolation makes her recovery slow and painful.

Second, I began to see that unchecked emotion was being presented as potentially dangerous and debilitating. In our culture, emotion is elevated over truth. We are taught that we should feel what we feel, regardless of whether it is right to feel that way. The author shows that when we do this we not only hurt the people around us, but ultimately we hurt ourselves.

We aren’t robots. We need to and do feel with varying degrees of extremity. The danger begins when we let those emotions rule over what is right. The danger escalates when we isolate ourselves with our emotions, shutting out people who can help us return to a foundation of truth. We need to feel, but it shouldn’t control us. We need to emote, but it shouldn’t be to the neglect of what is right. When we believe truth in spite of what we feel and exert ourselves based on that truth, eventually those fickle feelings begin to align themselves with what the truth is. The pain begins to subside. Perspective is gained. We begin to see outside ourselves. Healing can blossom in our brokenness.

The process isn’t easy, but it is right.

Austen is an expert at writing social commentary that doesn’t feel pedantic and doesn’t detract from the narrative. I came away loving the characters even more, but also appreciating the growth within those beloved characters. Not every novel needs an application, but I’ve found that my very favorites teach me new lessons with each read.

 

Dear God…Sincerely, Distracted in Phoenix

One day, I wrote a letter to God. It was simple. It was direct. It was signed with my name at the bottom. Perhaps I thought if I wrote Him a formal letter, He’d get the message. When I had finished covering the page with my illegible scrawl, I stood on my tiptoes and hollered at the ceiling for God to swing by and pick it up. I can’t remember all that I said to Him in that note, but it was important enough to have me stand that way in the middle of my playroom for what seemed (to my 6-7 year old brain) like an eternity. Finally, my arms got tired, and I tossed the paper back down on the desk, a little disappointed that God didn’t show.

Since then, I’ve learned some things about prayer and God. I’ve learned that God knows what we think before we can think it, but He still loves to hear us express our hearts to Him in prayer.  I’ve learned that when words aren’t enough, His Spirit intercedes for us and fills in the gaps. Perhaps best of all, I’ve learned that He doesn’t work for USPS (Praise His Name! We have guaranteed pickup & reliable delivery).

But I’ve also learned with the passing years that my growth in prayer knowledge is often disproportionate to my growth in actually praying. Even how I approach God has changed. There isn’t always the same excitement to engage with God that I had when I wrote that note. Instead, there is often a cynicism that replaces anticipation. There are sometimes doubts lurking in my heart that He’ll show up in a big way, that He’ll receive and respond to my “letters.”

As a result, I get lazy and careless. My prayers take on a familiar shape. Instead of being earnest and meaningful, they are routine and rote…or worse, just words. They are coming out of my mouth, but I’m not mentally connecting with what I’m saying.

I’ve noticed this in a few areas. I pray every day with P before his nap and bedtime. Sometimes I’m so anxious to get him down to sleep, that the prayers are rushed and almost meaningless. Or when J and I pray before we go to sleep, I have my go-to “lines.”

God, I pray that you’d give us a good night of rest, that the kids would sleep through the night. I pray that at a young age they would accept you and follow you with their whole lives and marry people who love you with all their hearts. Amen.

Those are some serious requests: the salvation and sanctification of my children, their future spouses. (The sleep one is a little less serious, but when you’ve been going hard all day with 2 energetic kids, it feels imperative.) These prayers are important; I shouldn’t stop praying them.

Here’s the problem: I’ve become so used to praying for these things that I can say the words without really thinking about WHO I’m talking to. I can actually forget about God when I’m praying to Him. If I really believed that the Creator and Savior of the Universe was bending His ear to hear the words of my simple human mouth, there would be a lot more care as to what came out of it. And how it comes out. But I forget too easily. I’m distracted by the things that need to be done or how tired I am, and I rush through words that are slowly losing their meaning.

We are starting a prayer series this weekend with our college students, and I’m having to ask myself: Do I really believe He’s listening to me when I talk to Him? Do I really trust that He always answers in His time and in His way? Do I really believe He’s a person that I have a relationship with? Sometimes the way I talk to Him makes it seem like I am just talking to the ceiling.

This is not His problem; it’s mine.

What’s the solution? For me, I need to slow down. I need to recognize that my prayers aren’t just words spoken to the void but to a God who hears me and loves me. I need to view my prayers as a way to work on my relationship with God. If I want to know someone, I need to spend time with them, and I need to talk to them. Just because I can’t experience God tangibly doesn’t mean that the guidelines for healthy relationships are different.

It’s only going to become easier to be distracted by life and exhaustion, to be tempted to rush through what is most important. Life only gets busier and fuller. Fortunately, our God stays the same through it all. Even when we are distracted, He still waits patiently, anticipating our next notice of His ever-present help, His ear turned towards us, ready to hear our hearts.

What “letter” are we sending Him today?