AREWP Day 2: The real to-do list

January 15, 2008 | 16 comments

[AREWP stands for “A Reckless Experiment With Prayer.” This is part of an ongoing series about bringing peace to my daily life. You can read the other posts on this subject here (scroll down).]

[NOTE: I updated yesterday’s Day 1 to share how it all played out.]

I am exhausted.

For the past two nights the baby hasn’t slept well because of a cold and general gassiness, each night leaving me with about four or five (nonconsecutive) hours of sleep. My husband has some serious things going on at work so that he can’t help me at night right now, and I can’t nap during the day since the baby rarely sleeps when the older kids sleep.

As often happens when you’re extremely tired, everything has seemed more difficult these past two days. Even the smallest tasks are thwarted, like when I was trying to put some pots back in the cabinets only to see that my one-year-old had decided that her spoon would make a good scepter and was flinging applesauce all over the kitchen; or when in the short time it took me to pour food into the cat’s bowl the kids had discovered the laundry basket full of folded clothes and had a quarter of its contents scattered across the floor. Even more than usual, I feel like I cannot turn my back for two seconds without chaos breaking out.

I’ve had days like this before, and it almost always plays out the same way: my frustration level builds and builds as the day wears on, my mantra alternating between “Why is everything so difficult?!” and “I can never get anything done around here!”, until the crescendo when I call my husband at work to vent in his general direction, after which I just give up and wallow in self pity until he gets home.

But that’s not what happened this time.

Because of my commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, every few hours I have been forced to stop everything, to snap out of my mental downward spiral, and pray. Reading the ancient Psalms, often anguished cries to God in times of great upheaval and tragedy, reminds me of how very small my troubles are in the grand scheme of things. The excerpts from the Gospels remind me to be hopeful in knowledge of the greatest events that ever happened, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And simply pulling myself out of the daily grind, setting it all aside to rest in God’s words, reminds me that nothing that is on my agenda for today, none of the items on my to-do list — not even the ones with asterisks by them — really matter.

As I zip open the leather cover of my prayer book, as I flip the delicate pages to look for the ribbon that marks this hour’s prayers, I am reminded that I can relax, I can let go of my worry over all the things I wanted to accomplish this day. Because there is only one truly important item on my to-do list today, the same as every day: to know, love and serve God.


  1. Anonymous

    I don’t want to put any pressure on you or anything, and I know that there will probably be times when you pray that you will feel you may be just going through the motions but, I have to say it brings me great joy to read your experience of your prayer life. Pretty soon, with continued commitment, the way you think when things spiral seemingly out of control will change 180 degrees and it will be natural for you to take a deep breath and recognize immediately the insignificance of the momentary irritation you are experiencing at any given point in time. It’s so exciting to be able to read about your experiences. Thanks for sharing them.

  2. Melanie B


  3. Sarah L.

    What are the kids doing while you are praying? My little ones are awfully squirmy during prayer time, but I also can’t leave them on their own for too long without a lot of mischief…

  4. scmom (Barbara)

    Good for you. When we put God first, we ARE rewarded!

  5. Kelly @ Love Well

    What a great report, Jennifer. What you wrote resonates with me. At the end of the day, all that really matters is what we love well.

    I actually named my blog after this concept (which was “stolen” from a section of a great book I read).

    “So it’s the end of the day, and each of us is lying in our bed, reflecting. Have I loved well? Has love been the beating heart pulsing through all my activities? Can it be heard in all my conversations? Seen in my eyes? Felt when other people are in my presence? Was the truth I spoke today spoken in love? Were the decisions I made today based in love? Were my reactions? My devotions?
    Have I loved well?
    If we can answer yes to that question, it is enough.It may not be enough for our employer. It may not be enough for our fellow workers. It may not be enough for all the carpools and committees and other things on our calendar.
    It may not even be enough for us.
    But it is enough for God.”

  6. Jennifer F.

    What are the kids doing while you are praying?

    I’ve been reserving special toys that they can only play with during prayer time to keep them occupied. They’re in the same room with me since they’re not old enough to be without supervision for that long. I’m often interrupted to deal with chaos. 🙂 Although my three-year-old is now getting into it (since I did the “trial run” all last week as well) and gets out his own prayer book and pretends to read a lot of the time.

  7. Karen E.

    Beautiful, Jenn.

  8. Jen M

    I just wanted to say “Hi!” I followed a link from Clam Rampant’s page (I go to church with Katie) and began reading your blog. Hahaha! Another Jen(n) who was an atheist and is now very Catholic! That’s pretty cool. One who also has a coagulopathy and knows all about that subcutaneous Lovenox injections during pregnancy — amazing! God is funny like this sometimes. 🙂 I hear you on the both parents thing. It was one thing when they said I was heterozygous FVL, but when they did additional testing and said that I was also homozygous MTHFR….

    I’m going to add you to my blogroll (I just started my own Catholic blog), so I can read more. Please feel free to stop over and visit me at

    Oooh, and I’d really like to hear about how you are doing with Liturgy of the Hours. I’ve been thinking that this is something that I’d like to do, but I have let myself put it off because 1) I am so busy (lame excuse) and 2) I think that I want to get the 4 volume set and can only find one that’s over $100. I applaud your commitment!

    God Bless!

  9. RCB

    Whenever I read your blog, I wonder if we are the same person… my baby even has a cold right now like yours does.

    Can’t turn my back for two seconds? Check.

    Disorganized and can’t get anything done? Check.

    Building frustration until I call my husband to vent? Check.

    Perhaps this is a sign I should add structured prayer to my life as you have to yours.

  10. Jordana

    That’s absolutely wonderful. It’s amazing to read about.

    I need to follow your example and make prayer a greater priority.

    There is a great book that has really helped me refocus and remember my vocation called Holiness for Housewives. It’s a short read, though in my current state of short attention span it took me several days to read, and rereading it now and then has helped me a lot as well.

  11. Jenny

    He is totally meeting you in your needs… that is so cool. I am impressed and intrigued to see what the remainder of your week of REWP yields…

  12. Christina. B

    I know how those days feel. But just as you are I too am determined to stay focused on the one thing that truly matters in life; our relationship with the Lord.

  13. Lady of the Lake

    Very inspiring to read how it’s going. I especially like the way you handled your friend’s visit the other day. I pray that you may keep it up, and inspire others. I am definitely sending some prayerful Catholics and non-Catholics over here to read your posts in the last week.

  14. Cow Bike Rider (alias, Chris Sagsveen)

    I have three kids under three too – and applesause. So I know how hard it can be at times. Prayer is sometimes the only thing that gets us through 🙂

  15. Abigail

    Why is everything so difficult?!” and “I can never get anything done around here!”, until the crescendo when I call my husband at work to vent in his general direction, after which I just give up and wallow in self pity until he gets home. LOL!

    So, so true in my life as well. My poor husband. He’s actually comes home at lunch so he gets to witness my distress in addition to getting sometimes hourly updates on the antics of his children on particularly bad days! Hmm, a more regular prayer life will make my life, his life and my children’s life dramatically better. There must be some “fruits” in this loving Jesus thing! 🙂

    Keep up this lively posts!

  16. Kimberly

    This is my first visit. I believe I came over from Like Merchant Ships and have been floating around your site for a bit. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am not familiar with the Liturgy of Hours, but will take some time to look it up. Blessings to you on this journey.

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