When You Don’t Know What to Pray For

I am stuck. I don’t know what to pray for in this particular situation and it is uncomfortable, to put it mildly. Have you ever been unsure of what to pray for? It’s more than apathy, or not caring about what comes from the situation. I genuinely don’t know what I want from this moment in time.

Let me back up. As you know, Ben is in the military which means we move a fair amount. Actually, we have moved less often than many of our peers. This has been a blessing but it’s catching up with us for Ben’s career. We are looking at another move this coming summer, putting us at a brief 2.5 years in Kansas compared to the 4+ in both California and Texas. The upcoming move is poised to be an even quicker turn around. Ben is eligible for a leadership school which is a fantastic opportunity. However, it means we move…somewhere…for a year. Then move again.

From where we stand today, it looks like we have 2 possible options.

  1. Do the move. Pack everyone up, move to a new place for a single year, knowing we will be moving again. The moves would be during the summers, so at least the kids would have some consistency in school. I do not know at this point if we would go back to homeschooling for that year or keep them in traditional school. That’s a whole other issue. But we would all be together.
  2. Don’t move. Ben goes, we stay. The kids can continue at our local parish school which has brought so, so many blessings to our family. They have some continuity with friends, location, activities, etc. We have found so much good here, I am extremely sad to think that this is going to be such a short duty station for them compared to previous. But wow, Ben goes. That means Ben is an airplane ride away (based on the current information we have). He would be able to come home only as we have funds for him to fly, the military will not pay for any of those visits.

So….right. How to pray in this situation. I truly don’t know what I want. I don’t want to move knowing how brief it will be. I do not want Ben to miss the majority of a year of time with us, especially when it’s of our own choosing.

We don’t have to make any decisions yet, and we still need to be informed of where he would be attending school. That particular detail – the location – is going to be a big factor of this decision process. We don’t get to choose that part, however, the Air Force will tell us where we are going. What do I pray for? The locations we would want to move everyone to? The locations we would not?

I’m sure others have been in similar situations. You want to get the job but it means leaving good friends and coworkers. You desperately need a snow day but don’t want to shovel (just me?). Someone has to die for your family member to receive a life-saving transplant. Whether serious or otherwise, there are genuinely times when we just don’t know what we ultimately want to happen.

I have had to step back and recognize that, in the end, it’s not supposed to be about what I want. I want a lot of things, cheesecake and yarn included, but that doesn’t mean I always get them or actually need them. In this particular situation, what I want doesn’t actually matter because I have no influence over the situation. I can’t call up the Air Force and let them know how I desire things to play out. It’s in God’s hands, not mine.

Which means I need to change my prayers. I could say, “I don’t know what I want so there’s no point in praying about it until the Air Force gives us more information, then I’ll think about it.” But this is a lie perfectly planted by the devil himself. St. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. We shouldn’t put God on hold until x, y, or z falls into place. Or worse, come to the conclusion that God is only worth praying to if x, y, or z happens.

I may not know what I want, but God knows what I need. Instead of praying for what I want to happen, I have been trying to root all my prayers in Jesus’ prayer:

Not my will, but Yours be done

Luke 22:42

This situation isn’t about me, though it affects me. This is bigger. It is about where God desires our family for the next year. The people we will interact with, the blessings we can offer others, the blessings others are called to share with us. By pulling myself back and checking my emotions, I am slowly becoming more peaceful about the phone call that will, fingers crossed, hopefully be coming to Ben soon. Whatever God is calling our family to next will be hard, but I trust it is going to be God’s will for our family. He will continue to provide for us as He always has.

I have only come to this place of peace because of Adoration. We are blessed with a 24-hour Adoration chapel at our parish. Whenever we are at the chapel, aside from Sundays for whatever the reason, Gabe, our 3 year old, asks if we can stop in. We only spend a few minutes, but those minutes add up. No matter the time spent, the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is powerful. I am so thankful for these minutes and that it is Gabe who has drawn me into that quiet space. It was there I felt those simple, hard words resonate within me.

Perhaps what God is calling you to next will be hard. Maybe you don’t know what you want next from a present situation. That just means that He is already preparing the grace you need to shower upon you as you set forth into that new place. Join your voice with Jesus’. Allow your desires and wants to diminish as you gaze upon God’s loving face. As it is Advent, this is a fantastic season to spend time in Adoration. Run to God, open your hands and let Him see you know know what you want next. Let Him remove that burden of choice from you and allow His Will to become your true desire.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Rorate Coeli ~ Advent Music Review

Advent has always been one of my favorite liturgical seasons. The music, in particular, is something I look forward to each year. I love how mindful our Church has been throughout the centuries to safeguard and celebrate certain passages, melodies and refrains that hold special significance for the various liturgical seasons. I was so happy to be able to receive a copy of Rorate Cœli: Marian Sounds of Advent from The Monks of Clear Creek

This CD was recorded at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma. It is a series of chants that come from different liturgical moments throughout Advent and the Mass the Vigil of Christmas, that being Mass in the morning on Dec. 24. The “Rotate Cœli” which the CD is named after, is heard during the Saturday Mass of the Blessed Virgin in Advent. The text is taken from Isaiah’s lament over the destruction of Jerusalem while keeping our eyes fixed on the promise of God’s salvation. The refrain is specifically Isaiah 45:8:

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.

I found this image to be striking. The introduction to the CD, written by Abbot Philip Anderson, reflects that, “It is through Our Lady that the Dew of God in Person finally came down from Heave to fulfill the longings of the prophets of old.” Jesus, the gentle Dew of God. It reminded me of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 where God passes by the cave. Not in the mighty wind, not in the earthquake and not in the fire. It was at the lightest wisp of breeze that brought Elijah to his knees before his Lord and God. Jesus didn’t come to earth on the backs of wild horses or flaming chariots. He wasn’t born in a palace or a cultural center. He came, meek and mild, as the dew we often don’t even remark upon or notice. The simplicity of chant mingles with the complexity of what is sung about. It never ceases to cause me to pull away from the demands of my day and to rest in those few moments of peace and prayer. 

As someone who loves to learn, I was so happy to find the booklet that came in the CD to be full of information. Not only are all the chants written out in Latin, but it also includes English and French translations. Additionally, the majority of the translations are also accompanied with an explanation of when the chant is typically sung, a few comments about key notes, chords, or phrases to listen for and how this chant connects to the others in the set. While these chants are beautiful and mediative on their own, their richness comes alive when you journey through them with the booklet to guide you and inform your ear to the subtleties built into the music.

Though Advent isn’t upon us just yet, still a few days to go, I am already making plans to be listening to this CD as part of our daily drive to school. My kids and I have listened through it as I prepared to write this review and there is a definite difference in the overall tone of the car from when we listened to chant and when we did not. Adding chant to our usual day may become a permanent thing. I will definitely be looking to the monks at Clear Creek for more peaceful and thoughtful chants to expand our collection.

If you haven’t yet, this is a great time to visit my previous blog post which has the Advent Journals for this year. Again, these are totally free to you and anyone whom you choose to share them with. I hope they bring you blessings and peace this Advent season.

A Ticket to Heaven

“Putting up with others is a work of mercy: enduring their behavior, awkward manner or perhaps their nagging; in other words, to lovingly disregard what really amounts to minor shortcomings. Similar to feeding the hungry and visiting the sick, this is one of the works that will be asked of us at our final examination.”

Chiara Lubich, Heaven on Earth, pg 47

I have been receiving these daily little snippets of wisdom for a while now. They are mostly the reflections of Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement, but there have also been many words of wisdom from Pope Francis’ writings. They range in topic and I never know what the next one will be about. Some hit me square between the eyes (like this one), others are insightful and good to chew on throughout the day.

This one has stayed with me even beyond the day I received it. At first glance, I felt so justified and self-righteous (not exactly the response Chiara intended I’m sure). Look at me, I do this every day! I am home with small children, I “endure their behavior” and their incessant “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” cries. Honestly, I’m so good at this, even though the big 4 kids are in full time school now instead of homeschool, I’m still at home with a 3 year old and a 19 month old who, let’s face it, clearly have many shortcomings to grow out of. And let’s not get started on those 4 big kids who come clamoring home every day practically shouting all the things they did at the same time so I can’t think or hear straight. Kids, so much to learn. Thank goodness they have a mom like me who can put up with them. These kids are my ticket to heaven, stamped and ready to go.

If I could see your face right now, dear reader, I imagine I’d see some version of the nervous or anxious emoji. And you’d probably be silently stepping back from me as the lightening from on high was surely coming swiftly.

Wow! Just, wow. What an arrogant string of thoughts! I have many, many reasons to be thankful for our faith and here is but one of them. If I didn’t have a faith lens to check myself with, the above reaction probably would have been the end of that particular string of thoughts. Yikes! Taking the same words of Chiara with a lens of faith offers a radically different journey that, surprisingly perhaps, comes to a similar conclusion.

Do I have to put up with others. Absolutely. Do they also have to put up with me? Absolutely. Here’s the thing, none of us are perfect. We all have shortcomings. Focusing on the shortcomings of others does not diminish our own. We all have areas of grow, to improve, to become holy. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have done. Jesus loves each one of us with perfect love. He is the one who “lovingly disregards” our shortcomings, minor or otherwise, while drawing us closer to Himself. This means that even while we were unworthy of salvation, Jesus freely gave Himself for us. Nothing we did or will do can earn that kind of love or sacrifice.

Jesus is the one who shows us how to “put up” with others. It is to love them for who they are, not because they check all the boxes, but because He loves them. Jesus does not wait for us to be cleaned up before He draws us close to Himself. He reaches out with open arms, and challenges us to do the same with those whose shortcomings we find the least desirable (even if they poop in the bathtub. Because, yes, that happened in our house. Twice now).

At first, I had put myself in the role of the one “putting up” with other people, especially my children. On a second, and more humble, scan, I saw in myself my own shortcomings that my kids have to put up with. I can lose my temper, I am impatient, I make impulsive choices that aren’t well thought out or are selfish. I have room to grow in all the areas of my life.

I’m their ticket to heaven just as much as they are mine.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com