A Mom’s Examen (aka “The Burnt Cookie Examen”)

The Burnt Cookie ExamenSt. Ignatius taught the valuable spiritual practice of praying the Examen daily. When I sit down at the end of the day for my own Examen, I always wish my review would turn out like a little gift—all wrapped up, tidy, and cute. I wish I could review my day and see my perfect actions and God’s very obvious actions throughout my day.

In reality though, this romantic notion is rarely met, because I’m not living in a spiritual fairy tale. In fact, some days, the only place I see God’s action is in the accomplishment of maintaining sanity and composure when things don’t go as planned!

St. Ignatius knew this. He encouraged his followers to examine the day honestly and urged them to see the workings of God even in the nitty-gritty aspects of daily life.

So some days, my “Mom’s Examen” goes like this:

Lord, here I am in your presence.

I’m having a hard time with gratitude right now so please, Lord,
help me to see past the burnt cookies,
spilt flour,
and milk too.

Piles of dishes, and
mountains of laundry too.

Soggy soccer gear,
bags of groceries on the floor.
Squeaky strings permeating the air.

Kids’ tantrums,
and grandpa’s too.

My breathless frustrations
and imperfections.

Because, Lord, I know that you are all good,
and you are with me through it all.
Each moment,
each day,
a gift.

I offer you myself,
my efforts this day,
so imperfect, yet
so true.

I offer them to you, my God,
who sees beauty
where I see mess.
Who makes all things whole,
and nothing less.

Remind me, Lord, of the privilege
I have in serving you
in the family,
in the mundane.

Remind me, Lord, of the gift of
food that makes the dishes dirty.
Machines and harnessed power
that wash the dishes
and laundry too.

You, Lord, who makes a symphony of a practice session.
Gourmet meals of burnt offerings.
Harmony from dissonance.

Open my eyes, Lord, to see you in the mud from the field.
You, in the warmth of those around the hearth.

Where I have failed today
help me to do better tomorrow.

For where your touch is,
there is Grace,
and Love.

And you know, Lord, I need your Grace,
your gentle caress,
for imperfect me.
and loved.


  1. Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you for a beautiful examen/prayer. This is just perfect and a great reminder that we are serving God no matter where we are or what we are doing. Quite often I get trapped in the “I’m not doing enough for ….” cycle – this has just lifted my spirits. 🙂

  2. This reflection is just wonderful! I don’t have children, but this will still help me to have a heart to heart talk with God at the end of the day.

  3. Dear Rebecca,
    I stumbled upon your examen while searching the net. I have been wanting to participate in the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius for a few years now, however I’m not sure I know where to begin. Thank you for your contribution. It’s lovely. Maybe this will help me to get started. If you have any thoughts about initiating the process I would be so very grateful. Thank you again. ?

  4. Perfect timing. Just got off the phone with my sister in N. Virginia whose just about to put her (busy!) little ones to bed after a long day’s work, so I sent this her way.
    My kids are in college and high school, but I can still relate. I had an older friend who said, “If the years go so fast, why do the days seem so long?”
    It’s that “sameness” that Moms seem to be designated to maintain: while the world can be spinning out of control, at least at home, there’s some comfort knowing Mom always knows how to meet immediate needs: a fresh towel, a band-aid, a clarinet reed, lunch money, a favorite “blankie,” a bed time story.
    Just like God has designated times for the moon and stars, Mom has designated times for dinner, homework and bedtime. This routine sameness is a small sign of our faith in God’s provision and God’s timing.
    While I believe Moms often do their best, sometimes the last load of laundry or dishes doesn’t get done because of unexpected circumstances. That’s when we teach by example (and recognize in ourselves) that our humanity has limits. God knows we are not superhuman. But His amazing grace helps us make a “mental note” and remain unruffled –so we can take a look and try and tackle the work from a fresh angle tomorrow.
    This prayer of examen is a keeper, Rebecca. Thank you.

  5. Thank you Rebecca.
    This was a godsend!
    I get so frustrated with clutter and mess of life. But you have reminded me that within the mess if we look with God focused eyes is how abundantly we are blessed!
    Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you, Joe. Yes, God’s love and grace are enough! If we can stay focused on these blessings, they put everything else into perspective.

    • Thanks for your note, Katy. St. Ignatius used to say that one should think of prayer as a “conversation with a friend.” I imagine that God appreciates it when we “get honest” with him, we might as well, He already knows what’s in the depths of our hearts anyway!


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