“Thus we can learn that God responds to our prayers,” and often “corrects them, transforms them, guides them so that we will finally and really be branches of his Son, of the ‘true vine,’ members of his Body” – Pope Benedict XVI

“Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which one of you would hand his son a stone
when he asked for a loaf of bread,
or a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask him.” – Matthew 7:7-12

i’ve been bouncing between these two sentiments in my prayer lately. on the one hand, submitting myself to God’s will and desire, and on the other hand, demanding plainly what it is that i want. the former part of this week i let my prayers become real simple – just asking that life would unfold on the trajectory the Lord wanted and that i would have humility and grace enough to accept it (since i often don’t). but then there was today’s gospel reading (see above) and the old evangelical in me wrangled free and said “damn straight! tell Him what you want!”

when i was in bible school in denmark there was a fellow who worked for the church that taught one of our classes about prayer, mainly focusing on the Matthew verse.  he encouraged us to be detailed in our requests to God and peppered his lecture with all sorts of examples in which his specific prayers were answered. everything from his job to his wife to his apartment (he literally told us he had drawn a blueprint of what sort of apartment he would like to have while praying and God helped him find it the next day). an attractive, charismatic, talented man with a supermodel wife, beautiful apartment, and awesome job, he convinced us all. they should have taped it for the Bible Network.

since then, my enthusiasm for that sort of mentality has waned considerably. i don’t believe that God wants me to be rich or successful by any particular means. i guess i don’t think that he wants me to suffer, either. i hope that He will use whatever gifts and interests i have, but i also work on coming to terms with what to do if He doesn’t. i believe that God answers prayer, but i also struggle with how the “uncaused cause” can be influenced to change course based on the requests of his creation.

and as what always happens to the swinging pendulum, i then try to figure out what the middle road is. i don’t think God wants me to be a pushover. but i also think there is no need for me to be a demanding asshole. so what of the content of my prayers?

…i guess i don’t know for sure. but there are a few things i do know: first, that there is a lot of assurance in the fact that the Lord knows the contents of our hearts before we even express it. i suppose in that sense, me rattling on about how i want to raise my kids on the shores of lake michigan (perhaps not my healthiest of dreams) is pretty blase to Him. moreover, because i spend relatively little time praying, it is more important that i am verbal to God about my desire for Him rather than regurgitating what He watches swirl around in my head all day anyways.

and also that God is so,so,so,so,so much wiser than i am (duh). so that even though i can tell him all about this loaf of bread i want, its possible that this bread is actually a rock (in an attempt to build off the Gospel reading). that is, even though i think i know what i want, God knows better. and I trust that He gives us what we need, even if it doesn’t match up with what we want at the given moment.

so i pray that i may be more and more transformed in likeness to the Holy Trinity, trusting all along the way in God’s intimate involvement in my life and His infinite wisdom and love. and i continue to present my requests, always with the caveat that “thy will be done”, that my prayers and desires (however specific they may or may not be) be corrected, transformed, and guided by one whose wisdom far exceeds my own.

circus

February 24, 2010

for those waiting with breathless anticipation to know how the surprise date  went off, you may congratulate me on my success. though the “surprise” factor was thoroughly spoiled, we had a very lovely time. i’d never been to the gene siskel film center before and it turns out that it is wonderful (who knew?). moreover, i think we both enjoyed the movie about 57 times more than we thought we would. not that we expected it to be bad, but a made-for-tv quality french movie from the 70s…didn’t know if even m.hulot could pull that off. i’m pretty sure i smiled for all of the 85 minutes we sat there. fellow old hearts out there should get acquainted with mr. tati’s work if you aren’t already. his string of monsieur hulot movies follow said character through our absurd modern landscape. simple hilarity ensues. it’s just wonderful.

i decided in the course of our monday night movie (“parade,” if you remember) that i want to force my children to love this character and this humor – the kind of humor that requires more of the audience than it does of the performer. and then i thought about how it will likely be impossible or inadvisable to force my children into much of anything.

anyways. i digress.

we had a really wonderful night.

and then last night we were able to spread the date-love by babysitting for our good friends so that they could go out on a date. its amazing to see how different life is when you have a child depending on you. it makes me feel very selfish and very unprepared for any future parenting. even though the baby slept the whole time, we were kind of nervous all night. mark even went in to check on him a few times to make sure he hadn’t “gotten away” (despite the fact that he has yet to learn how to crawl).

i do love that man.

he has been proudly serving the role of “dutiful housewife” these days with great enthusiasm. he has managed to keep the house clean (well, all the parts of the house that aren’t covered with sewing things) and this morning as i was shuffling out the door, circa 7 am i saw him start working on a stew for tonight. what a guy. this is either an elaborate plan to avoid reading bertrand russell or he really loves me. or maybe both.

(i’ll have something more substantial to say than these mid-day musings sometime soon…i promise).

playtime.

February 22, 2010

the last few months now, i have been coming to terms with the fact that i am not very spontaneous. while i admire the spontaneity of others, i have trouble conjuring it up myself. i’m an old soul. i was engaged for a year, have spent 6 months thinking about cutting my hair, and i will not go on a trip with you last minute. and thats ok.

additionally, i realize that i am not terribly romantic. at least not in my actions. i will indulge whole heartedly in romantic books and movies but seem to limit such behavior to the world of fiction. mark is the same way in both capacities. he has never lived outside of chicago. it took him weeks after we started dating to kiss me. spontaneous, romantic gestures between us are generally limited to the exchange of chocolate bars wrapped in newspaper or random purchases of beer.

but i have been feeling lately like i should change things up. so i planned a surprise date for us tonight. nothing too exciting, mind you. just a simple dinner and then a movie at the gene siskel film center (part of the jacques tati series they have going – his favorite).

true to my own colors, of course, i planned this a week and a half ago and then spent that whole time asking him whether i should tell him where we are going. and then, of course, i caved with 4 hours to showtime and told him myself. ha!

we’re so lame.

ah, well. i think it put us both a little more at ease. the world of marian keyes and rom coms is not our own. but we love it still.

in law.

February 16, 2010

so, i’m much better at thinking about blogging than actually blogging.

by the time i finally commit myself to write something, i’ve got whole bundles of mismatched thoughts that i could spout on about and, alas, only mild commitment to communicating them.

i will tell you that it has been a very busy weekend. aforementioned mother-and-brother-in-law have been in town which has made the days very wonderful and busy. between museum trips and dinners out (i have, literally – with the exception of breakfast – been living off pizza this weekend) we had a wedding to go to out “in the country”.

mark’s cousin, griffin, married a lovely soldier named dan. and then we celebrated the union at a barn. it. was. awesome.

i knew dan came from a large, very Catholic family but i didn’t think too much of it until during the ceremony i noticed that there were literally three rows filled with dan-variations – 12 of them to be exact. beautiful, dark haired women and charismatic young men. moreover, (as the reception later revealed) these 13 young adults with varying numbers of children skirting their ankles were wonderfully loved and in love with one another, dancing and laughing more than anyone else there. it was really amazing.

i can’t quite communicate it, but the whole situation got my mind turning around the idea of childrearing and what it means to bring up happy children. i’m sure it’s not as easy as mr. carrick made it look. but there was this deep sense of life – life abundant – that surrounded the whole day and issued hope that uncertainties are not necessarily dark shadows as much as open-ended possibilities. i guess that sounds cheesy, but it really got me going.

at any rate, it reinforced the words, taken from the Liturgy, that have been plastered on our refrigerator since mark sent away the final applications: “… and free us from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope…”

these days have been joyful, to be sure. as much of a blessing as it is to love and enjoy mark so much, i also really love and enjoy his family (lucky me!). so their time here has been very good. i’m working on relaxing more around his mom and being a more selfless hostess. i’m also working on not working on anything but just “being” as mark likes to say.

we’ll see how that goes.

keeping it real…

February 9, 2010

i had a very long dream last night that i was a gladiator. of course, the dream was very realistic in the sense that gladiator lauren spent the whole night standing nervously against the wall, hoping no one would notice/attack her, and wondering when she could put down that super heavy axe she was supposed to be using so that she could “take a breather”.

not glorious. not glorious at all.

but i respect the honesty of my subconscious mind. i would indeed definitely hate being a gladiator.

in other news, mark’s mom is coming to visit this weekend. thus, i am staring at the very adult responsibility of “housing an in-law”, something which makes me feel very married. while i am excited to see her, i’m also slightly anxious about cramming her (oh, and mark’s brother and mark’s brother’s pseudo-girlfriend) into our living room on various borrowed airmatresses and letting them used our constantly-clogged shower. of course, we love our cozy living room and our half-broken shower (we even sort of love the mice that hang out in the kitchen), but i’m not sure we represent majority opinion here. oh well…

though the weekdays are a-draggin, i feel like we are sliding quickly into the weekend as mark’s mom & co. arrive thursday night and we depart saturday for the first of the 7 (yes, count it, 7) weddings we will be attending in 2010.

yes, it’s another year of love – this year in the form of both matrimony and maternity. on top of the 7 weddings, we have 4 births to eagerly anticipate and plenty of time for more!