This past month, I attended the second annual Northwest Catholic Women’s Conference near Bend, Oregon. One of the speakers, a mom of seven children, discussed her struggles to be fully present in her busy, day-to-day life.

I could relate.

I tend to get caught up in multiple projects, biting off more than I can chew. I think that’s how my phone ended up in the freezer that one time and how I accidentally triple-booked my family that other time.

Anyway, the speaker recently gained helpful perspective from a wise priest. He said, “Commend your past to Divine Mercy. Entrust your future to Divine Providence. Live holy the present moment.”

The priest’s words sounded familiar. Apparently, various iterations of this sentiment have been passed on for ages. In the calm of the retreat center, however, I received them in a new, heart-changing way.

I’ve been clinging to Jesus’s Divine Mercy for a long while now. I often rejoice in God’s love and mercy as I shed the baggage of guilt, shame, and regret in the confessional.

But I’m human, so sometimes I don’t truly let things go even after I’ve received absolution. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus puts my sins as far from me as the east is from the west, and yet I pick up the baggage again, allowing it to weigh me down. Commending my past to Divine Mercy means I must drop everything at the foot of the Cross and – this is key – leave it there.

Through his Divine Providence, God has supplied my needs for as long as I can remember, yet anxiety still threatens to take hold. Can we afford those minivan repairs? Will the kids be OK at Grandma’s? Will that work issue be resolved?

Scripture repeatedly tells us (Isaiah 35:4, Matthew 6:25-27, Luke 10:41-42, 1 Peter 5:7, to name a few) not to worry. It doesn’t add one moment to my life; in fact, worrying about the future robs me of recognizing today’s blessings.

So, why do I still worry?

I think it boils down to faith and trust: Either I believe my all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving heavenly father wants nothing but my good, or I don’t. “Jesus, I trust in you” is a good go-to prayer whenever I struggle to commend my future to Divine Providence.

As I continue fully to surrender my past and future to Almighty God, I hear him calling me to live holy the present moment.

It sounds so simple, right? Living in the “now” is a simple concept, but it sure isn’t easy for me!

I have what a former-Buddhist-turned-Catholic-priest described as a “monkey mind.” I begin chopping vegetables, helping kids get ready for bed, writing this column, praying, sleeping ­— you name it — and soon, my mind is overrun by a troop of hairy mammals, swinging from branch to branch, chattering nonsensically, eating bananas, flinging ... I’ll spare you the sordid details. The point is, I’m still working to quiet my mind so I can fully engage with those whom God has entrusted to me.

 Here are a few suggestions for setting apart the present moment for the Lord:

  1. Be prayerful. It sounds trite, but I’ve found that, when my day is scheduled around prayer, I’m calmer, more focused, and ready for whatever life throws my way. I begin with a morning offering, entrusting the joys, struggles, triumphs, and challenges of the day to God. Some pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Others pray a rosary at noon, or the divine mercy chaplet at 3 p.m. Simply praying “Come Holy Spirit” throughout the day can provide wisdom to know and self-control to do the next loving thing.

  2. Be grateful. A friend began documenting things for which she was thankful each night; it led her to seek opportunities for gratitude throughout the day. Sometimes thankfulness comes easily, like when you find an unexpected $20 bill in your pocket. Other times gratitude seems buried under the piles of unfolded laundry and the cacophony of bickering children. I’m much more likely to make the present moment holy if I choose to thank God for a good meal rather than cursing the messy kitchen. There’s ample opportunity to be grateful and praise God; I must simply choose to do so.

  3. Limit distractions. Consider what keeps you from being prayerful and grateful, and it’s likely you can discern that which keeps you from being fully present in your life. For some, it’s overwork or hyper-volunteerism. For others, it’s unbridled smartphone use. It could be inordinate spending, unchecked sloth, lack of self-discipline … ask the Lord. He’ll tell you and lead you.

During these slower summer months, I’m going to keep working on leaving the past behind me, not worrying about tomorrow, and putting my phone down (somewhere other than the freezer) so I’m free to love and be loved. Jesus, I trust in you.

Renshaw is a wife and mother in suburban Portland whose book, Death by Minivan, is due out this fall.