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How NOT To Find Time To Pray

So I joined this new life coaching class called Pilgrim Souls which I really look forward to each Tuesday.  When our leader, Tara, gave us homework, I was thrilled!

FYI: I’m a freak like that.

Anyhoo, we are supposed to say a Meta Prayer every day at 2:00 (which is cool thinking we would all be praying at the same time) and if we miss the 2:00 time slot, it was OK.  It was even OK to miss a day.

****But, NOT two days… Tara looked at ME eyeball to eyeball and smiled with her big blue eyes twinkling as she repeated the words “it’s OK to miss one day but NOT two days…”

Tara smiled. I gulped. Immediately, my mind went racing. “Did somebody rat me out already and tell Tara how forgetful and downright blond I truly am? YIKES! Don’t let the group down, Sissie! PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! Immediately, I am determined not to miss my 2:00 time slot, so I program it in my phone for every single day. (And might I add this was done without the help of my children?! Miracles do happen after all.)

Here is a Meta Prayer she gave us:

~ May I be filled with love and kindness

~ May I be well

~ May I be peaceful and at ease

~ May I be happy

The rules are of such:

  • Pray for yourself (Yay!)
  • Pray for someone who is easy to love (More Yay! My children, friends and family!)
  • Pray for someone who is neutral (The single mother struggling to save money for her root canal or even the old lady who sits in front of me at church with her tags sticking out; the same one who always forgets to use a mirror to check the back of her hair before she leaves the house – bless her heart!)
  • Pray for someone who is HARD to love (GASP, choke back vomit in my throat)
  • Pray for everybody (As in a group.  Like Pilgrim Souls or Make a Wish foundation, Ronald McDonald house etc.)
So basically folks, in the hairspray brain filled, mascara loving, T J Maxx joy fueled world of Sissie Dale, this is how NOT to pray…..
  • Schedule it.
  • Consider it.
  • Really, really mean to get around to it…

Believe me, my friend, this is how NOT to pray!

At least for moi.

I tried to be disciplined. Then I must get forceful with myself when I discover that I have missed my 2:00 meta prayer …the very first day!

“You idiot, quit trying to be all Zen and wait for the perfect quiet time?!?! Sheesh! How about just DO IT? If not, then you will become one of the ‘well meaners, really, really intended to do it ‘ers’ whose Phone beeps at them in the Target line signaling it’s 2:00, PRAY! And even though I truly considered praying the quick prayer, I stop myself because I’m like… “No, the lady behind me is hacking and she may spray germs on me if I pause to pray – I haven’t gotten sick in years – whoop whoop!

Or maybe “No I can’t pray right now because the check out dude is not properly handling my new beige colored lamp shades and if I pause to pray, he may bend one and / or drop it.  Whoopsie – there it goes tumbling across the floor and into the mini Pizza Hut line?!” No way!  No Pizza Hut grease on these new babies!

I decide to pray as I am walking to my car. Once in the parking lot, I am once again delayed. Not my fault.  Of course.

FYI: I do not suggest walking and praying as you may possibly find that there is absolutely no time to even catch your breath because of the venomous hisses you must expel at the 87 year old granny who nearly takes you out in her navy Buick, thus making you hurl your brand new beige lampshade through the air in hopes it catches her attention and not your left leg. It was just too much of a risk, you tell yourself. You can say a quickie prayer in the Chic-Fil-A line instead.

Wrapped around the Chic-Fil-A building, You find yourself thinking: Wow is this line long?!?! Excruciating? Yes. BUT Plenty of time to pray! YAY! Once I order, I find it hard not to imagine how much money these people are racking in?!?! Look at all these hungry mini vans! It’s amazing! And why shouldn’t they be racking up? It is so clean – why cleaner than my very own kitchen, it is! Everybody’s so darn nice in that Chic-Fil-A too!! And you know what? If you’re inside, they actually will bring the food to you AND free drink refills too! Why in the world can’t every fast fast food chain be so darn efficient?!?! Go Chic-Fil-A!

Whoop whoop!!

16 minutes in line for a diet lemonade and as I drive off I think to myself “oh poop! I was so busy trying to figure out exactly how many nuggets they peddle per day and dad-snappit!  I forgot to pray!”

I instantly consul myself. When I get home, it’s going to be all nice and quiet to pray.

When I finally do get home, I’d like to tell you that I prayed long and hard but I didn’t because I forgot.

And I’m gonna blame that one on the dog.

In the back door from a day away and there he is: Snuggle Bunny. AKA: The lil idiot.  Obviously, Bunny has missed me terribly while I was gone so I lean down, scoop him up and begin telling how beautiful he truly is.  Of course this is the only humane thing to do – take five minutes out and love on his furry lil head.  Right?  To ignore him to pray would be animal abuse.  Yes? Suddenly, I am detecting the foul odor of rotting toe nails.  I toss the pup to the floor and sniff the air.  Where is that stink coming from?  I take out the trash.  I return. The kitchen air is still odoriferous. I sniff myself.  I did indeed go to the gym but I rarely try hard enough to break a sweat, much less stink – it’s just not ladylike. Then I sniff the dog. AHA! IZZY FRIENDS, PUPPY 063The pup is the real culprit here! Poor Snuggle Bunny. He needs to go to the groomers so I tell myself that I’d better call the groomer right that second or else I’d forget. And since he did smell like a rotting toenail, he kept my attention; especially since he was so darn hyper over there by his dog bowl.  I realize that Snuggle Bunny is trying to tell me he was very hungry and I needed to head to Publix – that it was time to stop feeding him stale sandwich bread or else he would relocate to a home with a more stable Mother who always had wet dog food that tastes so yummy.  FYI: Snuggle Bunny never gets wet dog food.

So I head to Publix, making my mental grocery list but the Meta Prayer …

Now that needs to wait. Now before you go tsk tsking me, I guess you need to know one thing about my driving.  My own daughter couldn’t wait to get her driver’s license just so she wouldn’t have to ride with me anymore.

“Do as mommy says and never as mommy does….” is favorite saying, after all….

I  try to cut myself some slack as I schedule my Meta Prayer for the night-time.  Tara told us to be quiet and give ourselves the gift of being centered.  So I centered myself…. Right smack dab in the center of my bed.  And promptly, I fell asleep…..

*Tara said it’s OK to miss one day, but NOT two days………



Mornings In June

IMG_2769.JPGMay 17, 2015

It is Sunday afternoon. I’m grouchy and I’m groggy. I didn’t sleep a wink last night.   My son is home from college and he obviously was not sleeping very well either. All night long, I can hear the creaking 1923 doors in our home open and shut. Back and forth. For hours…

He has no clue how loud he is – Until I fuss at him and then he opens and shuts the door for the last time.

As a result, neither one of us sleeps at all. I watched the hours flip past and thoughts of frustration roll across my mind…. I have to teach Sunday school in the morning…..So much to do….. At 2:03 a.m., I get up to let the dog out. “Certainly, I tell myself”, when I come back, “I will be able to sleep.” 3:014 a.m., 4:41 a.m., rolls past me. “It’s ok.” I say trying to calm myself. “You can sleep in. You’ve let the dog out, he can last until mid-morning. I’ll skip my morning quiet time.” I tell myself. “You have it every day, one day without won’t be a big deal.” I toss and turn. I try reading my Kendall. “If I get up at 8:30, there will be just enough time to get ready for Sunday school.” I close my eyes.

And then it happens. It happens all the time. I think of things a certain person did to me just this past year and painful thoughts dance across my mind. “How could he say those things?” I want to know. “How could one person be responsible for so much grief?” And the most important question: “When, Lord, when will it stop hurting!?”

It is 7:03. “Snooze until 8:30.” I whisper.

By 7:23, I am out of bed and making my morning coffee. I plop down into my salmon colored chair and my eyes gaze around the room. It is now 7:46. “Ugg, what have I been doing for 30 minutes???” I fuss at myself. “I wasted 30 precious minutes of my quiet time by rolling around in the bed and making my coffee. I shoulda had my bedroom slippers closer to my bed, my blanket needs to be in the same place every morning.” I tell myself. “This is my precious time, don’t waste it!”

And then the thought occurs to me…when exactly did this small time frame of my morning, my day, my life become so very important to me? My daughter, Izzy, has been getting up early for YEARS now to have quiet time. She reads her devotional, then she mellows alone. She does not like to be disturbed.

The question of when exactly this whole morning time started kept nagging at me, a burdensome little child who kept pestering “When was it? When was it? When did it become so important that it’s no longer an option to skip?”

So I ask Izzy in church. (Yes, we were writing notes during the sermon.)

And believe me, I wish I still had the note but I don’t.

Me: When did I start having my quiet time?

Izzy: Dunno, a year now?

Me: This summer?

I think back of when exactly this 30-45 minutes became a sense of pure peace…then suddenly, it became a must.

And then, it hits me…it hits us both.

Izzy: Yes. June.

We both looked at one another and watched as the chill bumps scooted across both of our arms.

Me: Yes, it was June.

You see, it was June 2014, when my whole world fell apart. I was sad. And hurt. Completely devastated. My life was falling apart at such a rapid pace, nothing seemed to give me any peace.

It was June that I woke up every single morning sobbing inside asking “Why God? Why did this have to happen??’

If you had asked me a year before, “Say, in a year from now, will you be jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn and rushing to grab your coffee for quiet time? ALONE?? – Will that be how you ultimately start your day?”

I would have laughed at you. I would have said NO. You see, I had very different plans for my mornings. I had looked forward to these well thought plans for 15 years. These plans were supposed to be the answer to all my dreams.

But God has His own plans and sometimes they match the ones we have for ourselves. Sometimes they do not. It was June that something or someone lifted me up outta that bed every single day. And yes, I was ALONE.

Now, I cannot, will not, do without it. Why?

It is because God is there, waiting very patiently for me. Always. I open a book, any book. No matter what, He is there, listening. During this quiet time, the thoughts of this past year are laid aside. I don’t have to worry for 30, sometimes 45 minutes. I’m not sad. I’m not angry. This is our special time. Just HE and I. I talk. HE listens. I think a lot.

Most mornings, 45 minutes feels like 45 seconds. And I know when I close my book and start my day, He has already taken the first step before me…and all I have to do is follow.