Somebody’s Got a Name

“Would somebody cut my meat?”

“I want somebody do my buttons!”

“Why won’t somebody help me!?”

My sweet little 4 year old, Clare, seems to have discovered a new way to ask for help. Instead of addressing the person she wants to help her directly, we’ve all collectively been renamed. Somebody.

Reflecting back, I think this peculiar manner of addressing us really hit its stride after Gabriel was born. Our time and attention have undergone pretty major adjustments and every child handles a new baby differently. We’ve had both of our mothers come to stay with us, plus we delivered Gabriel in a city near some family. There have been lots of extra hands and a rotation of helpful faces. Which don’t get me wrong, is a HUGE blessing! But somewhere in the beautiful chaos Clare has forgotten how to ask politely for help. “Somebody” was always around so obviously “somebody” should be able to help her.

My new response in all this is, “My name isn’t ‘somebody.’ When you remember my name I’d be happy to help you.” I’m happy to help once she respectfully asks for it.”

While this might be a good response for a child in need of some retraining, how wonderful our God doesn’t have a similar response for us! Human history is riddled with examples of complaining, mistakes, anger, pride and ungrateful behavior. Just check out the wandering in the desert in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Or the Babylonian Exile in Lamentations. Let’s not even get started with what the prophets had to go through!

Humans (Aka me) are notorious for being rude, impolite, snarky and plain old difficult when things aren’t going our way. This happens especially when the circumstances are beyond our/my control. “If only somebody would let me have my way/listen to my idea/help me achieve my goal/etc.”

Did you notice all the me’s and my’s in that? The more I focus inward the less I look at who is actually helping me.

Did you know that in these moments of testing and trial there is a very simple prayer which could be said? Conveniently, it even gives “somebody” a name – Jesus. The prayer is called ” The Jesus Prayer.”

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God,

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

You probably already have it memorized, right? Or could in just a few minutes of effort. This little prayer can revolutionize your daily life. Whole books have been written about how, but here are a few highlights:

  • This prayer clearly identifies who is in charge here and to whom we ought to be speaking to
  • We are reminded of Jesus’ divinity as God and His ability to extend mercy and love
  • We recognize that we are not in charge, that we are sinners and that we are always in need of Jesus’ merciful love
  • This prayer can instantly center us by pulling our focus back from whatever trouble we are having in order to see the bigger picture. God is God, we are not, and whatever joys or sorrows we have today will be better understood from a place of peace and prayer.

Interested in learning more about this prayer? Check out these writings:

The Way of the Pilgrim

Peter Kreeft on the Jesus Prayer

The Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox Tradition which has a very rich history of study and use.

The next time you wish somebody would come to your aid, slow down and take a breath. Inhale the first words of the prayer. Fill yourself with Jesus’ name. As you exhale, breathe out the second half. Release whatever your struggling with and place it at Jesus’ feet. Continue allowing yourself to be filled and emptying what you do not need to carry. With practice, you will find a peace within yourself you may not have had before.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Interview with Julia Hogan

As promised, here is my interview with Julia Hogan. Julia is the author of It’s Ok to Start with You which I reviewed here last week. I enjoyed this book so much and was so honored to be asked to be part of this blog tour. You can go back and see the previous posts of the tour here, on Julia’s website. Or you can click on the links at the bottom of the interview.

My interview with Julia focuses primarily on the spiritual element of self-care. Enjoy!

Hi Julia! It is so refreshing to hear about self-care that includes a spiritual dimension! Can you share a story or two that demonstrates why having spiritual self-care is so critical to a whole self-care plan?
When we hear the term “self-care”, I think the physical side of self-care comes to mind easily. We think of getting enough sleep, eating properly, exercising, etc but you are absolutely right that your spiritual life requires just as much self-care as your physical, emotional, and relational life. Why? Well, when you make the time for prayer, the sacraments, and spiritual reading, you are spending time with the one person who knows you best, Jesus. I think that when you are strengthening your relationship with God, you gain a deeper understanding of your priorities and direction in life and this knowledge has a spillover effect into other areas of your life. When you recognize and embrace your worth as a woman or man created and loved by God (as you are right this moment), you want to take better care of yourself, you are more courageous in your life, and you are more confident in who you are and what you need to be at your best so that you can be whatever your are called to be in this season of life.
For so many people, the idea of self-care comes laden with all kinds of stereotypes, buzz words, and even guilt. It was so good of you to very clearly define what self care is, and what it isn’t. So often when it comes to prayer, it is easy to become either 1. Discouraged if you feel like you aren’t seeing “results” or 2. Distracted by life and loose the routine. How would you encourage someone feeling either of these emotions about their prayer life?
I think that it’s helpful to think about your prayer life as time spent deepening your relationship with a friend. Just as you will make it a point to schedule time with friends, send them a quick text, or give them a phone call, in order to deepen your friendship with that person, you can do the same thing with your relationship with God. Think of prayer as keeping the lines of communication between you and God open and as a way to deepen your relationship with Him. And when you feel discouraged, remember that when you spend time with friends, even if you aren’t discussing some incredibly deep topic or doing something amazing and adventurous, you are still enjoying your time with that friend. I can think of many times where my friends and I went for a walk around the block and it was so refreshing. We didn’t have any earth shattering conversations but it helped strengthen our friendship. It’s the same thing with prayer. Not every prayer is going to amazing and you won’t gain some deep insight every time you pray. Set aside those expectations and see prayer as a way of keeping the lines of communication open between you and God.

Thinking about the spiritual element of self care specifically, it can be hard to know where to start. As Catholics, we are blessed with some built in spiritual practices like the Mass and the sacraments. What have you found to be an effective place to start for someone just embarking on a conscious, intentional, spiritual self-care plan within their daily routine, rather than only on Sundays?

I’m a big fan of signing up for a daily email Gospel reflection. I personally like Bishop Robert Barron’s reflections and Blessed is She. They don’t take long to read (5 minutes max) but they help to get you thinking about what the Gospel means for you and your life. I recommend reading it first thing in the morning so that you can reflect on it throughout the day.

I think the most critical lesson for me to take away from the spiritual section of your book was “Don’t aim for spiritual perfection, but commitment.” What would you say to encourage those of us who get so wrapped up with the “right way” that we lose sight of simply following “the way”?

I think that our quest for perfection holds us back from even getting started when it comes to so many things in life but especially when it comes to self-care. We get stuck on finding the “perfect” spiritual practices and quickly become discouraged when we aren’t perfect at them. So instead of aiming for perfection (because it will only leave you feeling disappointed), try instead to start spiritual practices that work well for your season on life. Maybe you can’t go for an hour of adoration but you can make a quick stop in the chapel once a week. Maybe you can’t make it to daily Mass but you can make time for a novena. The point is, let go of the expectation that you have to be perfect and instead find little ways to bring God into your day whether that’s making a short gratitude list, praying before starting to work, or listening to a spiritual podcast on your way to work. When you find what works best for you (and not for someone else), it’s incredibly freeing and you’ll find that it’s so much easier to dive into your spiritual life with this mindset.

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Here are my take-aways from Julia’s interview. Isn’t she so good?!

  • God loves me and wants a relationship with me. But, this relationship is most often built in little ways.
  • Not every prayer is going to amazing and you won’t gain some deep insight every time you pray. Set aside those expectations and see prayer as a way of keeping the lines of communication open between you and God.
    • Find what works best for me, not someone else, and be open to trying things out (but also be willing to change my routines if self-care needs to take greater priority)

    When you find what works best for you (and not for someone else), it’s incredibly freeing and you’ll find that it’s so much easier to dive into your spiritual life with this mindset.

    • I’m not perfect! (No matter how many times I think about this, write about this, it’s still so hard to let go of). I will not be perfect in my efforts for greater self-care. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
    We get stuck on finding the “perfect” spiritual practices and quickly become discouraged when we aren’t perfect at them. So instead of aiming for perfection (because it will only leave you feeling disappointed), try instead to start spiritual practices that work well for your season on life.
    ***********

    MONDAY – Physical Self-Care with Barb from FranciscanMom

    TUESDAY – Mental Self-Care with Laura Mary Phelps

    WEDNESDAY – Emotional Self-Care with Erika Marie of Simplemama

    THURSDAY – Relational Self-Care with Sarah of Snoring Scholar

    Also, be sure to enter Julia’s contest to win a free copy of Its OK to Start with You

    Contest details: For a chance to win a copy of It’s Ok to Start with You, visit Julia’s Instagram blog tour post and comment with the new self-care practice you will try. Contest ends Friday, September 14th, 2018 and the winner will be chosen at random on Monday, September 17th, 2018.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

    Preparing for Lent – FREE JOURNAL

    I feel like I’m just repeating myself, since I said the same thing for Advent, but can you believe we are already getting emails for sign ups for Lent reflections and books!? Personally, I am not a big fan of when Lent and Easter are so early. I feel like I just had a moment to breathe after the holidays and now my next gulp is full of Lenten themes, sacrifices and preparation for Christ’s Passion. He was just born for goodness sake!

    But, it’s not up to me and so, like the rest of you, we begin looking ahead to what opportunities Lent will bring to our lives.

    It feels like God has been knocking on my heart, especially through my kids. We were at storytime at the library last week for the first time in a while. They have songs, stories and crafts for the kids. This week, they sang a new song which we hadn’t heard before but my kids really liked.

    Do as I’m doing

    Follow, follow me.

    Do as I’m doing

    Follow, follow me.

    It was a follow-the-leader type song, with clapping or jumping or whatever the kids wanted to follow along to. My kids sang it the rest of the day, so naturally I went to bed with it swirling through my head.

    This song is my new motto for our present season in life. My kids are so young still and already they are growing up into unique, individual persons with their own gifts, talents, struggles and temperaments. It is not my or Ben’s job to give them their personality, rather to show them how we use our personalities to their fullest and best. We don’t become saints by becoming someone else, but by becoming the best versions of ourselves. So, if I am striving with all my might to become the best version of myself, I am modeling for my kids how to become the best versions of their selves.

    How to put this into practice? How often do I miss the mark?

    Well, I’ve noticed that John is starting to talk back. A lot. And with attitude, scowls, did I mention attitude, and sulking. He is 6 for goodness sake! And we are still homeschooling and are mindful about what types of media they are exposed to, where is the coming from? Then I start to hum, do as I’m doing, follow, follow me…...

    Rosie is trying so hard to use her words to express her feelings, not her fists. Yet in the process she is screaming her words. A lot. And over-reacting. And so much emotional turmoil and desire to control each moment. Why is she acting like this? Then I hear her singing to herself, do as I’m doing, follow, follow, me…

    I probably don’t need to go into detail about my sweet, 3 year old going on 13 year old Clare. By now you get the picture. While yes, each of my children are their own unique selves, so much of their behavior is simply a reflection of what they are observing day in and out from Ben and I. None of us are perfect and praise God the behaviors I just described are not the full picture of who my kids are. They are kind, loving, goofy, sweet, prayerful and active. They say “I love you” and “I’m sorry” with intentionally and passion. They are beautiful, remarkable children and we are so blessed to be gifted with them. And like anyone else, they have things they need to work on (ahem, like a certain blogger you may know).

    So here’s the plan for Lent. I’ve created another Lectio Divina Journal just like Advent.

    lent 2018 coverI’ve updated the design (only 1 option this time. Lent came up quick!). I kept the blank page for those who wish to select their own passages and also included a Lenten Sacrifice/Commitment tracker. Click on the link above the picture to print and share to your heart’s content.

    What will I be doing with it? I think I’m going to try to incorporate the journal into our school day. We start each homeschool day with a prayer and intention. I plan to add lectio to that for Lent. In light of “do as I’m doing” I’m not going to read the passage from the journal. Rather, I’m going to get the hard copy Bible out and thumb through it to find the passages. I read the Bible fairly frequently, but it’s on my phone usually or laptop. The kids don’t know I’m doing it when I’m doing it. How can I teach them the importance of reading the Bible if they don’t see me actively reading it? We will be learning lectio and also engaging with the physical text of the Bible.

    This will take some sacrifice. It means starting the school day earlier or recognizing that it will go longer. I won’t be able to be frustrated or upset about that if I don’t get up early enough or plan our day appropriately. I will need more patience, more decisiveness, and perseverance if this is going to work in a positive way. It also means I will need to find a way to carve out time in the mornings (ideally) on non-school days to still practice lectio. Again, do as I’m doing….Maybe (hopefully) the growth I strive for in myself will also be reflected in my kids’ behaviors.

    If you’re interested in joining me on this Lenten journey, print the journal. Let’s connect on social media. I’m going to try to be posting either via twitter or the Facebook page what my word is from the day’s lectio. I would love to pray with you. Praying the Scriptures is a practical way to prepare for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

    Peace

    Kate

    Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com