Motherhood Confession… tooth fairy edition

I have a confession…

(Did you just start seeing Usher in your head? If yes, we can be friends)

I digress. I have a confession… tooth fairy edition. 

I am the tooth fairy…

…in my house, I’ve been given this title. Perhaps this title was given to me by the assistant to the tooth fairy, also known as my husband. My children do not know this, but I’m going to blow my cover sooner than later. Want to know how I know? Because it’s almost happened already. 
[Also, Why is this even a thing? Teeth falling out? A fairy creeping in your house? ]

So what happened was…

My oldest lost a tooth. It was during pandemic times (which it still kind of is, right?), which meant my brain was fried and my memory is shh…sugar…it. I helped my daughter leave out her note for the bone collector tooth fairy. I then proceeded to forget all about what comes next. I went to bed and I slept soundly(ish). 
[Do parents ever sleep soundly? There is a constant risk of being woken up by womb gremlins, worrying over your children, and other such concerns.]

I awoke to a disappointed child…

The next morning I had a little girl confused and disappointed that the tooth fairy had not made her visit, taking a tooth, and replacing it with a gold Sacajawea dollar coin. I quickly made some excuse about why the fairy didn’t come, blaming an unclean room or some such. This led to a tidy room and a little girl ready to give this magical creature another chance. 

The next morning wasn’t much better…

Sadly, the assistant to the tooth fairy is a complete slacker and routinely falls short. They failed at their one task. Ensuring the tooth was collected and a coin left in its place. As if one mistake wasn’t bad enough, a second is almost unforgivable. So what happened next? A certain female parent went and placed a coin in an obscure spot and found it miraculously. The dismayed child was pleased with the discovery of funds but displeased that their tooth was left behind. 
[I am not entirely certain of the going rate for teeth. I’ve heard some fairies give big bills, some toys, and maybe some are giving Disney Trips. This fairy is too cheap. We have a roll of gold dollar coins as tooth money.]

What do we do with this forgotten tooth?

Leave it for the bone collector fairy to come by (again) to pick it up. I’ve heard the fairy tried to go to bed without making their final stop, but did manage to collect their forgotten tooth.
[I admittedly felt terrible about my forgetfulness, but I will fully own that I am an okayish mom.]

Did the tooth fairy learn anything?

Maybe? Maybe not? Did their spouse? You better believe it. They stayed on top of things and kept the fairy on task to ensure the job was done. Here’s hoping this continues. There are many more teeth to be lost, and another child left to lose teeth in our house. 
[God help me. Why are there so many teeth to be exchanged for currency?!]

the wonder of motherhood

little eyes staring up

minds filled with wonder

their lips overflow with questions

their ears cannot hear “I don’t know”

mom has all the answers

until she doesn’t

the day comes when she knows nothing

the wonder of motherhood

one day you know it all

the next you know nothing

but isn’t that every day of motherhood?

I’m a p…..?!

The question we all get asked…

What do you do?

For some of us it’s super easy to answer.

For some of us we pause knowing the reaction to your job can go a few different ways.

Then there’s me, who’s still not sure how to answer. You could also call it disbelief.

I’m a p……

Huh? I’m this thing that I thought I was never going to be. I’m this thing I tried to withdraw from the process of doing. I’m doing this job I’ve not (yet) been ordained to do.

I’m an associate pastor elect (the official term) for Christian Education and Discipleship. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be ordained one week into the new year. I am still in disbelief.

I’m the one who’s tried on many occasions to run from my calling. I’ve believed there are plenty of reasons why God shouldn’t want me as a pastor, yet Gods work in my life doesn’t depend upon just me. There are so many people who have been instrumental in my call to ministry and continue to nurture and guide me. There are also the newer people in my life who sustain me and keep me going in my new role. And each day, I wake up incredibly grateful for where God has called me to serve today.

What we do can feel like such a loaded question.

As a woman in ministry, this feels especially so.
Some do not have positive associations with the church or those in ministry.
Will I be on the receiving end of someone’s animosity against the church?
Will someone have issue with the fact that I am a woman in ministry?

While I could walk around worrying, I’ll hold onto the words of affirmation, gratitude, that affirm I am where I a should be. I will also hold with care the words of the women in my congregation who are grateful for a woman’s voice among the clergy in leadership. I work with two other great pastors, who are gifted in what they do, affirm and encourage me in what I do, and I’m so thankful to call them my colleagues.

Yes, I’m proud to say I’m a pastor, and cannot wait until I’m officially ordained as a minister in Presbyterian Church (USA).

As Presbyterians, we like to do things decently and in order.

To become a pastor there are things you must do. Here are some of those things I’ve had to do:

  • Become an inquire with your home church after 6 months of membership
    (☑️ November 2007 at Three Chopt Presbyterian Church)
  • Be accepted by the CPM as an inquirer
    (☑️ November 2007)
  • Complete a parish internship
    (☑️ August 2008 at Three Chopt Presbyterian Church)
  • Complete a non-parish internship
    (☑️ May 2009 at Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • You must graduate from seminary
    (☑️ May 2009 from Union Presbyterian Seminary)
  • Be accepted by the CPM as a candidate and the presbytery
    (☑️ October 2009)
  • Pass 5 ordination exams on Bible Content, Exegesis, Polity, Theology, and Worship & Sacraments
    (☑️ completed in 2009)
  • Complete a unit of CPE
    (☑️ May 2010)
  • Be certified ready to receive a call by your presbytery’s CPM
    (☑️ October 2020)
  • Find a call, aka a job in ministry
    (☑️ August 2021)
  • Be examined and approved by the presbytery where you will be ordained

In October, I preached before 1/3 of the presbytery, two months after my examination by the COM (committee on ministry) examinations committee. The final step in the ordination process is finally complete.

Could these steps have been completed faster? Absolutely.
Would I be the same person in ministry if I had rushed through them? Absolutely not.

Now I have a service of ordination and installation to finalize and a commission to to have approved by the Presbytery of the James (hopefully today). Theses services are slated for just after Epiphany, as I wanted to ensure that some important people in my journey to ordination could be there. In case you’re not aware, a service in the weeks leading up to or during advent is not an ideal time for those in ministry for an ordination service.

I am beyond excited and grateful for all that has happened and all that comes next.

P.S. If you are someone who has journeyed alongside me in this process… thank you! I seriously, could not do this without you.

Surprises in the Pulpit

I have long wrestled with whether or not to write about this, but I believe silence allows this to continue. For my BIPOC friends, I warn you now that this may be triggering. For that I am sorry, but I am not sorry for being a voice to the struggles we face.

Anyone in ministry knows that there are many unexpected things about working in the church. For those who identify as female, it is a known fact that inappropriate things are said about our bodies in places that are considered sacred. When we thought that the education and experience that we bring is more than sufficient to give us credibility, in an instant someone attempts to reduce us to our appearances.

There are many surprises in the pulpit, or in the areas surrounding them.

One Sunday morning in the autumn of 2020, I was doing pulpit supply for a rural congregation in my presbytery. This was not an unusual thing for me to do, as I have regularly done this since early 2019. I was ever grateful for the opportunity to share the good news, particularly with a congregation in need of someone to preach and lead worship on a given Sunday. What I was not prepared for was what would happen as I prepared to lead a congregation in worship…

The elder who was coordinating pulpit supply confirmed in our call in the week leading up that the church would wear masks if that’s what I wanted. That should have been a red flag already. In the height of the pandemic (November 2020), shouldn’t masks be a given? Upon entering the church I saw that no one had on a mask. I had my mask on and kept some extra distance until others put on theirs.

* Let me pause and make a note.*

At this point in the pandemic, my family was still being very careful. We had high risk family members in our bubble. We had both kids learning virtually to protect our family. We were accepting risk with my doing pulpit supply. Churches doing what they could to be safe were key to helping us protect the vulnerable members of our family.

Let me continue…

The elder with whom I’d been in communication greeted me, discussed logistics, and then reminded folks of the need to wear their masks. In the moments that soon followed, there were a couple of members who began our time together by glaring at me for the majority of the worship service for being told by a church members to put on a mask. This was not the only congregation that resisted masks during the pandemic in my adventures pulpit supply, but theis level of glaring was new.

Even though this was awkward, this wasn’t the most challenging part of the morning…

The elder who was handling worship coordination decided that they would handle announcements, and then hand the service over to me to lead. During the announcements the gentleman shared gratitude for all who came out to decorate the church for Advent (season leading up to Christma)s, and praised some of the young people for helping out too. Then he said he had a great conversation with two of the young people there, and asked them to come forward to share about it.

Man: Do you remember what I asked you yesterday?

One of the girls: Yes, sir.

Man: What’s the difference between a daisy and a dixie? What did you say?

(In this moment, my brain is racing to answer the question. I couldn’t fathom what he was talking about. So I patiently waited for the answer out of curiosity.)

Girl: A Daisy is a flower. A Dixie is a flag.

(The realization hits that I couldn’t answer this question, because it served like a litmus test. If you know the answer, you know. If you do not, you’re not one of them.)

Man: Thank you ladies, you can go sit down.

At this point, the panic was crashing like a wave.

I realize that I do not belong in this place. I am now realizing that this particular church is no longer a safe place. I am looking around in panic for a way to escape…

I was sitting on the chancel (the area where the pulpit is located) and not sure if I could get out of the church. I could go out to my left through the back of the sanctuary and everyone will see me. I could go straight out the back of the sanctuary past everyone, and so they’ll definitely see me and say something. No matter what I do, all eyes will be on me as a I leave. Then I begin to wonder if I really should leave…

Did that man intend for the question to be racist? Do they think the confederate flag is a troubling symbol of racism to those who do not identify as Black or African American? Would it be wrong to leave a church without preacher?

So I made a decision…

In the time that it took for the announcements to finish I tried to quiet the panic in my mind. I prayed that God would grant me peace, fill me with love, and that God’s transformational love would pour forth from me. I am not going to lie and say that all was better in a matter of moments. I will not say that I was not terrified and concerned about my well-being. I will admit that this service was one of the hardest services I have ever had to lead. I will also admit that the feelings of trauma from that day are with me still.

Our words matter.

Two Novembers in a row, I had situations where there were racist interactions that trouble me to this day. I believe what made my experience in November 2019 and 2020 so challenging is that they were subtly and overtly discriminatory, and they were the first experiences I have had like that in a long time. Any BIPOC person can share with you their stories of racism and how they’ve experienced it throughout their life. The sharing of these stories are not easily done as each retelling brings back a tidal wave of feelings, heartbreak, and trauma from moments thought to be long in the past…

  • The moment(s) we were made to feel like the other.
  • The moment(s) we were made to feel like someone who doesn’t belong in a place they thought was safe.
  • The moment(s) we were made to feel like our feelings didn’t matter.

How we speak to and about one another matters. I do not share this experience to disparage the church as a whole. I love the church, despite the failings of its people. The church is where I’ve been called to serve. The church is filled with people who remind me of God’s goodness. Life in community comes with a risk, but it also comes with abundant blessing. I hope and pray to help the church continue to be the place it’s meant to be…

a place of radical hope and love.

okayish mom

Some have the goal of being the best mom ever. These are the moms who throw elaborate class parties, birthday parties with personalized gifts for each attendee, homemade lunches with had written notes daily, and the list goes on. If that is you: good for you. If that is not you: you’re in good company with me. I am unapologetically an okayish mom.

Do I love my children with all my heart?
There’s no doubt about it.
Do I think motherhood is a competition?
Perhaps to some, but I’ve opted out of enrolling in the competition.
Will I make it for every event my children have in life?
Nope, but I make sure someone who loves them is if I can’t.

If my answers above make me a bad mom, then you might as well start casting judgement.
If you’re hoping I’ll have a change of heart or be upset by your condemnation, prepare to be disappointed.

I’ve tried going above and beyond…

It didn’t go so well.
The deadline for being room parent was fast approaching and no one signed up for my oldest daughter’s class. I felt bad for her super amazing teacher, and volunteered. Then the deadline arrived, and I realized there was need for one in my youngest daughter’s preschool class too. So I agreed to be hers too. I didn’t want my daughters to feel like I picked one over the other.
The lesson I learned this year: I’m not room mom material.
Will I get a message out to other parents in a timely fashion? Absolutely not.
Will I give the teachers great gifts? I’m not sure if they’re the greatest, but they’re definitely nice.
All that to say, I’m not a bad room parent, nor am I a good one.
I am the world’s okayest room parent, and I won’t sign up to do this again.

I’ve tried doing what needs to be done…

And it turned out adequate(ish).
Girl Scout cookie season 2020, my oldest became DESPERATE to be a Girl Scout. I learned of another leader in my neighborhood that was willing to take more kindergartners IF there was a person to lead the Daisies (kindergarten and first graders). I was more than happy to be the super supportive leader of the Daisies, especially since it meant that I wouldn’t be in charge of the whole troop. This had been my hope all along, since I was a former Girl Scout council staff member. I knew how to do the things, but knew I didn’t have the time to run a whole troop. Super supportive parent/assistant…SIGN ME UP!

Class gift basket: contains some gifts and other parents hopefully added to this.

Fast forward nine months. Aforementioned troop leader informs me her husband is getting transferred out of state for work. We formulate a plan for the transition that is to occur in the spring. Well, the move happened sooner than expected, and by December I’m in charge of the whole troop, during a pandemic, when some girls are refusing to participate virtually, and I’m trying to figure out who’s who over zoom.

I’m in over my head…

I’m not afraid to admit I cannot do something, BUT I do not like broadcasting that information to the world.
I need these girls living through uncertain times to feel like they’re in good hands, and to keep this troop limping along. Fortunately (for me), I have a friend helping in the troop who knows what’s going on. She’s super supportive, encouraging, and reminds me it’s a okay to do what’s best for me and my family.
I made the needed decision: I’m stepping down as leader of the troop.
I stepped into the role because it was what needed to be done, but it was not good for me.
Our end of the year parent meeting is met with many blank stares as no other parent wants to be leader either.
What’s going to happen to the troop? I have no idea, BUT I will keep Girl Scouting with my daughter.

Maybe I’m better than an okayish mom

I know that I love my kids and that they know this.
I know that I want to see my daughters be girls of courage, confidence, character, who make the world a better place.
I know that sometimes I have to lead, but sometimes I have to follow. Leading all the times leads to burnout for me.
To allow me to better than an okayish mom, I have to say no to things that I could do. And if I do those things I should say no to, I’m only going to be okayish.

Here’s to be okayish, loving it, and knowing your limits.

Off to finish being an okaying room parent, okayish troop leader, and loving my daughters fiercly.

do you hear me now?

you said things you shouldn’t

so i looked at my feet and walked away

another you said what cuts deep

i told you that it wasn’t okay

more yous said things that hurt

i yelled that it is racist and wrong

I looked with longing for a voice

but none of you spoke up

but the only voice i have is my own

i have avoided, whispered, spoken, and yelled

but none of you listened

so now my people are injured, dead, and dying

and still you look away

despite your closed eyes ears

i’m yelling, “STOP ASIAN HATE”

do you hear me now?

I’m Certified…

The last time I wrote about the ordination process, here on HebrewDawn, it was to say I was withdrawing from it. A lot has happened since then, I suppose there’s some updating to do between that post and sharing that I’m certified ready to receive a call in the PC(USA)…

After my last post, I received an unexpected message from a very dear friend who served on the CPM (Committee on Preparation for Ministry) at the time. They informed me that the committee had received my letter and wanted to be sure this was what I really wanted. They felt confident that I would someday finish this process, but understood that I was not in a place at that time to pursue accepting a call (hello, I had a three year old and a baby). They wanted me to know that if I proceeded with withdrawing from the process but felt the call to finish the ordination process later, that I would have to start all over.

What would that mean for me?

1. Apply with my church and then the CPM to become an inquirer (again). If approved during my meeting with the committee, I would have to wait six months to a year before I could apply for candidacy. During this time I would undergo a psychological evaluation, and have an annual consultation with my CPM liaison.

2. Apply with my church and then the CPM to become a candidate (again). In order to do this, I would need to complete the required paperwork, prepare seven essays (my understanding of Christian vocation in the reformed tradition, a statement of faith, an analysis of at least one concept from my faith statement, a statement of what it means to be presbyterian, a statement of self-understanding, a statement of my understanding of the task of teaching elders and my specific gifts for ministry).

3. If approved by the CPM to be a candidate, I would then have to go before presbytery (again) to be examined. If approved by them too, I would have to wait at least 1 year before I could apply to be certified ready to receive a call and complete some additional steps.

3. I would need to retake all FIVE ordination exams: Bible Content, Biblical Exegesis, Theological Competence, Worship and Sacraments, and Church Polity.

4. Complete a pastoral internship at a church, complete a CPE (clinical pastoral education) program, as well as the required personal and supervisor evaluations for each internship/program.

5. Throughout the waiting and work of the prior steps I would need to ensure I had an annual consultation at least once every twelve months with my CPM liaison.

6. Once the prior steps were completed I would apply to the CPM to become certified ready to receive a call. In order to do this, I would need to complete the required paperwork, prepare a PIF (personal information form, aka a Presbyterian pastor’s resume), write my statement of faith, and prepare an exegetical sermon.

When I realized I would have to repeat five steps that I had completed ages ago for something others and myself believed I was called to do felt crazy. Why would I withdraw from this process if I was going to pursue finishing it at some point? So the decision was made to stay in the process, and complete step 6.

I was ready to do this last year, but a massive project at work put all of it on pause until it was complete. I knew that being a SME (subject matter expert) for our conversion team and anything additional was just too much. If you or someone you know works for a financial institution and has been through a core conversion you know what massive undertaking that was. Once the conversion project was done and I felt like I could breath, a pandemic hit and the world stopped. As weeks turned into months, I realized I was not willing to wait anymore. By September, I was determined to finish what God called had me to start several years earlier.

October was a busy month of pulpit supply, work, Girl Scouts leadership, waiting to learn what school would look like in November for my kids, and finally meeting with the CPM (Committee on Preparation for Ministry) to apply to be certified. To say I was stressed, worried, and anxious would be an understatement.

Not being one to give up (easily), I prayed a lot, wrote a lot, and did what was needed. On October 27th, I met with the POJ Committee on Preparation for Ministry at 1:30 over zoom. This was a meeting with the CPM like none other. Rather than waiting outside to be called in, I sat in a virtual waiting room not knowing who would be in the meeting other than my liaison and pastor. To my surprise, there were three very familiar, smiling faces, of people I’ve known from my time at Union Presbyterian Seminary. There were other familiar faces, some new, and there was a screen to provide me some space and distance for comfort.

After some questions, conversations, faith journey sharing (for those unfamiliar with my Buddhist background), and feedback, I was sent back to the virtual waiting room. There I “sat” while the CPM deliberated on whether or not I should be certified ready to receive a call. Unlike the physical waiting room at the POJ office, where I would sit with my pastor, I sat alone waiting and wondering what would happen next. After what felt like an eternity, but was probably 5-10 minutes, I was welcomed back into the meeting. I received the wonderful news that the CPM agreed that I should be certified ready to receive a call.

What does this mean now?

Now I must find a call (aka a job, for you non-Presbyterians) so that I can get ordained. My PIF is now up on the CLC (Church leadership connection), which is kind of like an online dating platform for pastors and churches. If my PIF matches the needs/wants of a churches MIF (ministry information form), we’ll get connected to see if they should interview me. In the meantime, I’m going to keep praying, doing pulpit supply, and keep hope alive that the right call is out there somewhere.

I’ve missed you…

For two years I’ve been blogging exclusively over on the new site, and not posting over here. In retrospect, we should have shared with you about the new site more on HebrewDawn. This site began as my own little space of the Internet, but it became a shared space for Erica and I. The two of us realized over time, as we’ve shared, that a rebrand was in order. But if I’m going to be completely honest, I’ve missed you, since the new site was launched.

In having a new site with a refined focus on wellness and self’s care, this has shifted me away from writing as much about faith and motherhood. Those are not topics most of our followers are interested in reading. Some of you that have followed for quite sometime will want what we offer on The91Rewind more than what I alone offer on HebrewDawn. Some of you may want my posts focused on encouragement, faith, motherhood, and the like here. The focus of HebrewDawn was and remains is:

words to encourage and inspire.

You are a diverse bunch that follow HebrewDawn, and for that I am grateful.

I’m not sure how often I’ll write over here. The content will still be much of what it was long before. More than likely, you will find:

  • what’s going through my head
  • what I am wrestling with in this current state of affairs (*ahem* #45)
  • what’s happening personally
  • what I’m studying about Christianity, world religions, or language (yes, I’m kinda nerdy)
  • follow along as I finish the ordination process ( yes, the same one I discussed withdrawing from before).
  • reflections on motherhood that I’m not sharing on Richmond Moms Blog (yes, I’ve started writing over there too).
  • Thank you for sticking around, waiting for me, and asking where I’ve been. I’ve missed you, and I’m happy to be back.
  • – CVP

    cheers to you!

    The year has just begun. It is full of possibilities and adventures and we are really looking forward to all that 2018 has in store. Not long ago we posted this little message:

    the 91 rewind: cheers to you

    To that effect, we would like to re-introduce ourselves as The 91 Rewind

    The 91 rewind: cheers to you

    Don’t worry! We are keeping all the content you enjoyed on HebrewDawn, but this time as a joint project between two friends who’ve known each other almost forever. We appreciate all of your support so far and we look forward to bringing your more stories, pick-me-ups, and good vibes.

    Crystal and I became friends in 1991 when I moved to Smoketree South. We have been besties since then, and although we have both grown and changed, a lot is still the same. When someone knows you like you know yourself, it can help you stay grounded. When the road gets rough, connections like these can help you get back to your authentic self.

    Crystal and I are very different but we are both honest to a fault. Our friendship has endured the test of time; probably because we have always kept it real with one another. We continue to help each other see the best in ourselves, accept what cannot be changed, and find the motivation to keep going on.

    We started this blog as a way to share-with everyone-the little pep talks, comic relief, and good conversation we have been sharing with one another for years. If our friendship has taught us anything, it is that sometimes sharing your story with someone else helps to lighten the load.

    The 91 Rewind is our version of a digital treehouse. It’s a place to get away for a moment, catch your breath, and find silver linings. If you need a refresh, a reset, or a “rewind and try again”, you’re welcome here. Come on over for a bit. Listen, share, but more than anything, just be yourself! We’re happy to see you 🙃

    cheers!

    C+E

    new year newness

    If you’re a longtime reader of HebrewDawn you know that things have evolved over the years. Initially this was a personal blog for Crystal sharing funny things that happened (*ahem* is this Keisha?), foot surgeries, and the birth of kids. Then this site evolved into what it is today. A place for people to come and find words to encourage on the journey to being our most authentic selves. During this site evolution, Erica came on board, and the dynamic duo of two best friends brought HebrewDawn to new heights.

    As time has gone on, HebrewDawn has grown, and new prospects are on the horizon we, Crystal and Erica, we realized that we needed a new site needed and a new name. This site hasn’t been just Crystal’s for quite some time, but HebrewDawn is not reflective of both of us. We thought of waiting to share this news with you once all the details are ready (logo, site rebranding, etc.), but we wanted our faithful readers to know sooner than later. You’ll notice that some fonts have changed on our site already, today our Instagram handle is changing, a new logo is coming, and so much more.

    We are excited to share with you about our process as we go, but we want to assure that the only real change you’ll notice is our name. The content type will remain the same, but we dare say the quality will continue to get better. We are super excited for 2018, continued growth with you, and seeing what’s in store for….

    HebrewDawn: new year newness