Routine Prayer

Most nights are pretty predictable at my house.
I get home after the gym. Eat a quick meal while the kids do some last minute running around, screaming and playing hide and seek with their baby brother.

Get the bottles of milk ready for baby David, or Toddler David, I don’t know really it sounds weird. He’s a 40lb 2 yr old wearing 4T…it’s hard to call him a baby…
Then we all head to Sofy’s room to talk about our day and start story time. 

Right now, we are reading a children’s version of the Bible which (Lord don’t strike me down for saying this) makes the stories a little less boring and a lot more understandable for the kids.
They interject occasionally and ask questions, sometimes random, so I’m not always sure if they are really paying attention. 
Today we were reading about David and Goliath, but Vicky wanted to talk about Adam and Eve and the bad fruit. The whole being “naked” in the garden really blew their minds.
“And then they had sons. And one son, Cain, he killed his brother!” Vicky was really concerned about this. They all were, but they quickly chimed in that they could never do that to each other.

Meanwhile, David is laying back on one of Sofy’s pillows drinking his milk and minding his business.

After we finally get through a story, we share thoughts about what we read and how it can apply to our lives presently.

Then, we take turns each night saying a quick prayer, before everyone heads off to their bed, bunk, crib, and so on.

Each of us prays slightly different, but for the most part we thank God for everything that we have including each other.

Gaby thanks God for family and friends, and video games.

Sofy thanks God for family and friends, our house, books, and her ipad.

And tonight, for example, Vicky thanked God “for our lovely home and socks”, among other things.

So, last Wednesday I went out to dinner with two good friends of mine. I rarely go “out” and even less smack dab in the middle of the week. But sometimes it’s really hard to find time for friends and loved ones, so I made a point of setting aside that night.

Of course by the time I got home, around 10:45pm, they were fast asleep.

Fast forward to the next night, after we read as usual, I started to ask whose turn it was to pray, but quickly remembered.

“Okay guys. I’m gonna pray, since I missed my turn last night.”

“I prayed last night, mom.” Sofy said softly.

I looked over at her surprised, “You did?”

“Yea, you weren’t here. I forgot, but when Gaby and Vicky were asleep, I prayed by myself.”

I gave her a kiss and hugged her tight for a few moments.

I was shocked. Sofia had taken the initiative to pray on her own. Neither I nor her dad had to remind her or ask her to do it.

I felt so much joy in my heart.

She only just turned 10 last month, but suddenly it felt like a real turning point.

So, yea. Most nights are pretty predictable; and I try to stick to a specific routine with the kids.
But I guess some of the best moments are the ones you don’t plan for.
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And I just have to add, I’m no religious nut. (Oh boy, here she goes ::reader rolls eyes::)

I believe in God, and I believe in prayer, and I believe in the Bible.
I curse; I get angry; I yell; I can be a BITCH. (Ask my sisters.)

I’m not perfect, and I’m not a fanatic.

But I don’t think I have to be.

You don’t have to be an every Sunday chruch abiding Christian in order to believe in God and the Bible, or have a relationship with Him.
Whether or not there really was a talking serpent; an ark that carried humans and creatures for 40 days and nights through the flooding of earth without them devouring each other; whether Methusala lived to be 969 or not; or whether Jesus was God’s Son or just a REALLY good person.
All of these are debateable points, but I believe. And I think it’s good to believe, and have faith. Anyting can be interpreted hundreds of ways; we are humans, it’s in our nature to doubt and question. And I don’t have a problem with my kids having doubts or questions.

I just want them to believe for themselves.
And honestly, I couldn’t be prouder of my big girl and her growing heart.

Church

Recently my daughter’s teacher asked me if we go to church?

My son and daughter attend a private Christian School, and I wondered hesitantly if she was asking because one of them had done something wrong.

But then I thought, I do go to church everday.

Every morning when I wake up and thank God for another day; and I pray that I will be a good person and do the best I can to do His will. I also pray that I’ll win the lotto, AND promise to share the winnings.

Every time someone asks me for help or advice, and I can sit, listen and we work together to find a solution.

[1 Corinthians 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.]

When my dad tells me stories about his past experiences, situations he faced, and how God helped him get through when he was certain failure was at hand.

When I give money to the homeless lady, not knowing where the money will go, but certain that’s as far as my job goes.

Every time I go over the homework with my kids; when they happily recite their weekly bible verse from memory; when we read; when I watch them play together or help each other out; when they pick up their room. That last one happens… sometimes. Besides, cleanliness is next to Godliness… Isn’t that one of the commandments?

When I lay down with each of my three kids at night and pray with them.

[Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.]

My youngest doesn’t really know what she’s doing, but she puts her hands together and says thank you for everything from Mom and Dad, to pollitos and papitas.

When my family gets together on saturday nights, despite our differences of opinions and lifestyles. Family always comes first, THEN cigars, whiskey and pork rinds.

When I lay down in my bed at the end of a long day and pray for family, friends, work (Please less work); when I give thanks for all I that I have; when I look up a verse on my bible app, or read a short devotional.

There’s an app for everything! iChurch? J/K O_o



Without a doubt going to church has its merits. It reinforces what you believe, reminds you to practice good habits. At times, the message speaks to you, like it was specifically tailored to your struggles that week.

But if you listen, God is speaking to you all day long, through the people and situations you endure, at work, at school, at home, even in your dreams; in every opportunity that you are given to be like Him.

I guess I could make time to go to church, but I don’t want to dedicate just one day, morning or afternoon to be open to God’s message.

**********

Rather than go into that long explanation, and fearing the awkward silence had already lasted longer than a second, I replied, “No, we don’t go to church.”

“Really? I thought most certainly that you did. Your daughter is so sweet, and the way she talks about God, I just can’t believe it. She is just such a sweet little girl, and a joy to teach. You are obviously doing a good job.”

[Proverbs 22:6
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.]

I gave myself a good ol’ pat on the back and thanked her.

Tentacles

My son and oldest daughter drew these pictures of me.
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You may have guessed my 4 year old boy, Gaby, drew the one on the left.

“Mommy, it’s you. You have 14 legs.”

If you count, there are actually fifteen tentacles, which is good because that means I’ve got at least one arm. I look like I belong a thousand leagues under the sea. I don’t know if he’s comparing me to Ursula or Oswald. In any case, I suspect I look fat.

Sofy gave me brown hair and nice big eyelashes—those are real, by the way. I’m also wearing what appears to be a red robe. Am I a disciple? Am I late for supper?

I’d never compare my self to Jesus or even esteem myself in the same league, but you have to admit, there appears to be a biblical reference here. Mary Magdalene? Perhaps. My middle name is Maria. Interestingly enough, my daughter didn’t give me any feet at all. AND, I also have only one hand in her drawing.

Should I be concerned about these too completely contrasting images? Despite the age difference and creative development of the artists, I can’t help but read into it. On one hand, I could be pretty speedy with all those feet. I could potentially get a lot accomplished, except I’ve only got that one hand. On the other foot, (I’ve only got the one hand) I ain’t goin’ anywhere without feet. But, I do have hair, full red lips (at least a bottom lip), and a flattering red robe that was hip circa 33 AD. AGAIN with the one hand thing. I’m probably hiding candy from them in the other.

What their drawings also have in common is a big smile. Phew, that’s a relief. More often than not, I find myself rushing the kids to get dressed, or brush their teeth; scolding them for tattle taleing, biting each other, yelling or making a mess with the toys. I begin to worry they’ll think I’m always mad, at them. It’s hard to keep a happy face at the end of a strenuous workday, but they have been anxiously waiting for me to get home. And they are happily obedient, as long as I devote every waking second to them.

It’s hard to divide your attention equally with each child, so I try to read and pray with them collectively each night.

Tonight, I read them a short book about the rainforest and some of its native inhabitants. Sofy was all ears, asking questions about the animals beyond the stated facts. For the most part, I couldn’t answer, and I wouldn’t make the answers up either.

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Parenting Tip: Kids are like elephants. (I never quite understood this phrase so I googled it) They never forget anything you say to them, so try your best to always give them true and simple facts, and peanuts if they’re not allergic.

While I was reading about Orangutans, my youngest, Vicky kept interrupting me, “Mommy….Mommy, I’m! Not! Sleepy!”

“O! Kay!,” I’d say and continue reading despite her unhappy disclaimer.

“Mommy, can I have leche? Two leches.”

“Yes, Gaby, as soon as I finish the story.” I proceed to read about the Toucans, Lemurs and Tarsiers, careful to show them each pictured animal before reading its name and factoid.

“Mommy, I’m scared,” Vicky whined, covering her face with her blanky as I started reading about the Green Tree Python. Sofy helped assuage her fears by adding wide eyed, “Those are REALLY dangerous.”

“Mommy, can I sleep here,” Gaby asked.

“Sure, climb up to bed.” Sofy has a bunk bed; although Gaby has his own room, he sleeps on the top bunk for the most part.

“No, I wanna sleep here,” he groans and points to the floor next to Sofy’s bed.

I want to argue against this, but it really can’t hurt. I try to let them enjoy the silly, harmless, though sometimes messy, things that seem to bring them such genuine joy—i.e. Play-Doh, bubbles, camping on the floor in your sister’s room.

“Mommy, I’m not sleepy,” a less energetic Vicky insists.

“Vicky, just count sheep. Count ten sheep like this, 1 sheep, 2 sheep, 3 sheep.” Sofy demonstrated, but yawned after 5 sheep. Is this actually working?

I finally wrap up the story, and prepare a makeshift sleeping bag on the floor for Gaby.

“Ok, everybody, let’s pray.” I thanked God for each of them; for daddy; “for Abuela Gladys,” my son interjected; “for ALL the family, Gaby,” Sofy corrected; I thanked Him for school, toys, crayons; “for M&Ms,” Gaby added excitedly, “and the new house!” We prayed for Mima’s health, for “Daddy ’cause he has a cough”, and “for Nicole’s hair to keep growing”.

Every night, Sofy prays for her friend who was diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the first grade year. Thankfully, Nicole is in remission. Sofy was very excited when she saw that her friend’s hair was growing back.

When everyone seemed satisfied that we had prayed for, and been thankful for EVERYTHING, they still weren’t “sleepy”.

“Okay, I’ll sing you guys a song.” Nobody made a peep, so I started in right away.

Twinkle Twinkle is an obvious favorite for them, but I have several songs I enjoyed singing to them as infants, and even now. The Beatles, ‘A Hard Day’s Night‘; ‘The Way You Look Tonight‘ as performed by Frank Sinatra; and ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow‘ from The Wizard of Oz, are my personal favorites.

By the time I’m done singing, Vicky and Sofy are fast asleep. Gaby, quickly gives up camping, and shadows me as I first carry Vicky to her bed, then head to my room to shower and go to sleep, or rather, to write this blog.

He sits quietly in the bathroom until I am done with my shower, even though he can lay down with his dad who is already in bed.

“Mommy, can I sleep with you?”

“Of course,” I say wrapping my tentacles around him.

“I’m going to drink my leche and go to sleep, so I can snore like daddy,” he says grinning from ear to ear.

I smile and quietly say a quick prayer, “Dear Lord, Please don’t make me share a bed with the Predator AND Chewbacca. AMEN.”