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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

Summer Intentions
Date Posted: June 23, 2007

Everywhere I look there are people offering advice on how to make my home more beautiful, my career more fulfilling, my money stretch farther, my children happier and healthier, and my body sleeker and thinner. If I had time to follow all this advice and it actually produced the promised results, I would be the richest, most beautiful, coolest mom with a house capable of almost running itself while entertaining crowds of friends and family with elegance and panache!

Instead, I'm struggling to get one bedroom painted and my husband and I are sleeping on the trundle bed in my son's room while our room is impossible to navigate. The plan was to complete the painting project in one day and have the bed frame rebuilt (before the new mattress was delivered) and be back in a fashionably refurbished room the next day. Did I mention the new mattress and box springs are sitting in our living room waiting for the paint job to be completed?

This is certainly not how I planned the project, which in my mind is the first of many I want to complete this summer. Why is it that ideas which look so easy in a magazine and seem so conquerable on a list turn into hulking behemoths which lumber along at their own leisurely pace while I run around them in circles trying to wrap them up into a neat, completed package? The summer is almost half over (my kids and I return to school in mid-August) and I've barely begun to scratch items off of my project list. Of course, they will still be there, mocking me under their breath after school starts, knowing I can't get to them until Columbus Day weekend or Christmas break, and that I probably won't get to them until next summer.

I'm ashamed to say I have the same type of summer-time intentions in my prayer life. I have big ideas about carving out 30 minutes each evening and getting on my knees, but then the kids stay up late or I have a project to finish, I fall asleep on the couch or the Cardinals go into extra innings and my intentions are shot. Yes, shame on me! I even make a new list every few weeks. I'm talking about the BIG list, with personal struggles, church needs, missionary encouragement and world concerns, both physical and spiritual, even remembering Aunt Mildred's strawberry patch, which needs rain. I may even get out the list a couple of times and begin praying for all these dear people and worthy causes only to become distracted or just grow lazy again.

One thing I have learned is that I don't need that big list or even 30 minutes on my knees to have an effective prayer life. That might be my ideal, but when I can pray throughout the day as God places people in front of me and allows me to stumble into unexpected situations, that prayer can be just as effective. Much of this prayer is even more inspired because it is spontaneous and of the moment.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." If I'm stressed out by trying to check off my to-do list and allow that to interfere with my joy in the Lord, then a ritual prayer time which I can check of my list should not be my biggest concern. I must allow God to work daily in my life and thank Him regardless of whether the outcome fits into my list - and find joy in my day as it is, not as I imagined it would be.

If you're struggling with your summer intentions, whether painting or praying, just approach them with an attitude of joy and the knowledge that with God they can be conquered!

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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