all the words that could be said

I could tell you today that my heart is broken, but I think it goes without saying. I could also prattle on about how we need to put an end to the gun violence, but those words have been said abundantly. In light of yet ANOTHER mass shooting, all the words that could be said are spinning through my head.

Rather than tell you how I feel or reflect on how we all might be feel, can I ask you to do one thing?

Will you pray for and love a community that is struggling?

HebrewDawn: Praying for Orlando

We have far too many family members and friends grieving the loss of those they love in senseless act of hate. We also have many brothers and sisters within the LGBTQ community in Orlando and across the nation that are hurting and scared.

Let’s work together to make loving kindness the norm. I think that’s something we can all get behind.

He is Risen

Share the good news that he is risen indeed. Have a blessed and beautiful Easter!

 

“But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” -Matthew 28:5-8 (NRSV)

Get Ready: Easter is Coming

img_0679-1

In two short days it will be Holy Week. This means that as Christians, these are the final days of lent which lead us to Easter. Far too often we make a mad dash for Easter Sunday, but this year I’d like to encourage you to slow down. Why you may ask? Easter can’t happen without the days leading up, and we need those days to prepare our hearts and minds too.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, as we remember  Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. For those of us that go to church this Sunday morning, will wave palm branches, and sing Hosanna. We’ll be caught up in the joy of the day and not think much about the journey that Jesus is about to begin. Those closest to Jesus, the disciples, are clueless about what is going to happen to their beloved friend and teacher, despite his many warnings and we’re not all that different. Despite all of our flaws and failings, Jesus knowingly and willingly continues down this road that will lead to his death. With all the hosannas and waves of our palm branches, we tend not to think about the meaning of this day or the week ahead.

As we read through the Gospels on Holy Monday and Tuesday we’re being prepared for what’s to come.  Jesus will be anointed at Bethany, foreshadowing what will happen to him in death. Jesus will again warn his discipes, and us as the readers, of what is coming.  On of his friends will betray him and set the final course of events into action. As if all of this wasn’t enough, another friend will come to deny he ever knew him, his friend and swore he’d never deny and would defend. Thursday will come, and church attendance will go down drastically, before it’s great spike on Easter Sunday.

Thursday is Maundy, or Commandment, Thursday. We often skip up and call this day Monday Thirsday or some funny derivation, because we’re  clueless to what this word preceding Thirsday is. It’s word coming from Middle English, Old French (mandé), and Latin (mandatum) which essentially means commandment.  It was this day that Jesus washed the disciples feet, gave the commandment to love one another, and to remember him in gathering together by sharing the Lord’s Supper. Throughout the year we celebrate this meal, and forget about its humble beginnings. A shared meal with friends made sacred with the sharing of bread and wine  on the eve of the worst day in Jesus’ human life.

img_0668We now come to Friday, that we call Good Friday. It is on this day we remember with solemn hearts the sacrifice that Jesus, makes for us out of God’s great love for each of us. On this day we take time to be humbled, sometimes to the point if tears, of the great sacrifice Jesus makes for us. We slow down and realize that the story of Christianity isn’t just about a cute baby in a stable or just about resurrection. It is on this day that we remember that the story is about life, AND death, AND new life. 

Let us prepare our hearts and minds for the joy of the Easter Sunday, even when it may be a solemn journey along the way.

Quiet Time

I shared the other week that I find it most helpful to wake up earlier than my family and making sure to begin my day with quiet time. That post has led to some folks asking what resources I like to use and how I do my quiet time. So I thought I’d share today!

I’ll begin with opening Shauna Niequist devotional Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are to see what the selected passage of the day is:

Next I’ll read the entire chapter for the selected passage of scripture in my bible. As I go along, I highlight any passages that my “jump” out to me. I try not to analyze or evaluate the passage that sticks out to me, but follow where the spirit leads.

    

Now I return back to my devotional book to read what thoughts the writer (Shauna in this case) has to say about the piece of scripture I just read. Then I take some time to reflect on the verses of scripture I highlighted in my Bible and what the devotional had to say. Some mornings this can look like me sitting in quiet meditation and prayer. Other mornings, like my ideal morning, I’ll take the time to write out the verses I highlighted and my prayer for the day.

  
No matter what happens with my time constraints for a  given morning, my focus is first on reading the bible, then considering thoughts of a devotional writer. I find that devotionals are a great start for quiet time for me to know what to read, and provide variety so I’m not reading straight through the bible. I will admit that I’m fairly particular about the devotionals I use because some writers like to cherry pick scripture, aka pick scripture that fits what they’re trying to say, but the verse may not mean what they think. I do recognize that many devotionals are written by folks with no theological training, so their writing comes from the heart, not necessarily from a scholarly perspective. But the Bible scholar in me dies a little inside when I see this happen and I turn away from what could have been a great resource.
I will admit it’s hard for me to find a daily devotional written by a biblical scholar of the Old and New testament that provides the reflective imagery I personally desire. I will  accept what I can get and have have found three favorite devotionals to this day:

  1. Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist
  2. Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman
  3. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

How do you spend your quiet time?

Please note there are some affiliate links in this post. As always, I only link to products I trust and use!

The Joyful Feast

Worship with a two year old may not always be as calm or introspective as it was before having a child, but it has definitely become more meaningful. I’ve shared before that we try each week to keep VHP in service with us and she is beginning to really understand the different parts of the service. She has come to love passing the peace, loves to sing, and really looks forward to communion (Eucharist). Watching my little girl’s faith  blossom and grow is one of my greatest joys.

A few weeks ago I had a moment that nearly made this mama cry watching her little girl in worship. As is often the case, we didn’t make it through the entire sermon before we needed to step out of the sanctuary into the hallways to get some wiggles out. Thankfully we can still hear what’s happening through the speaker and soon it was time for communion. VHP was anxious to head back in as soon as the pastor began to say the words of institution, break the bread, and pour wine (juice in this case) into the cup. When the feast was set we made the attempt to quietly head back to our seats and wait our turn, but VHP was too excited to be quiet. She squealed and tried to run forward, and I managed to catch her before she took off for the front of the sanctuary. Miraculously this did not result in a toddler fit of screaming!

source: https://stocksnap.io/photo/P7JB9GA027

 

We waited our turns and held hands as we walked forward. The church member who was serving the bread leaned down so VHP could help me break off a piece of bread for her. This little girl tore off the biggest piece of bread she’s ever had for communion! Then our pastor leaned down to her level with the cup so she could dip the bread herself. VHP then slurped up her bread and juice as if it was the best meal of her life, and had the biggest smile on her face. Mommy may have helped break the bread, but she essentially had communion all on her own. Watching how our church family helped her partake of this meal put a whole new meaning on the phrase “the joyful feast of the Lord.”

Peace Be With You

Evenings in the Parker family can be a mix of sweet and chaotic, but on your average Wednesday chaotic seems a little more accurate of a description. I rush from work eager to see my daughter and I’m greeted with squeals and hugs. Sometime after that delightful greeting, I encounter this rage-filled demonic being toddler who is angry with me over God knows what. My great sin could that I buckled her car seat rather than allowing her to do it, I used the keys to drive the car rather than let her hold them, or I dared to make dinner without allowing her to help with every step of the process. Whatever the case may be, there is great angst between pick-up and dinner being set on the table. If I’m lucky there are other sweet moments before bed, but there are nights there is a long wait for bedtime.

Last Wednesday evening was a night with more delightful moments than I could have expected from my two year old. I expected things to be like most nights in which VHP gets her plate first and begins inhaling her food before my husband and I can sit down to the table to eat as a family. Instead our little big girl was nibbling at her food trying to wait for us to come to the table. Once my husband and I sat down we began to eat our meal, because we were starving. Instead of digging in too, VHP fussed at us adults. “No eat yet, pray,” she declared. My gracious, us adults completely forgot to bless the meal and she kept us in check! My husband asked her if she wanted to say the prayer and she agreed.

“Dear God. Thank you soup. Amen.”

Her prayer was much simpler than her first mealtime prayer and much more to the point than her friend Elle’s, but it was enough to convey thanks for the soup her daddy made.

The fact that she at two reminded us to bless the meal melted my heart, but it turns out she was not finished. Shortly after dinner I was taking on kitchen clean-up and it was my husband handling bedtime. We were all getting bedtime hugs and kisses, which turned into us receiving a few bise (French for kisses on the cheek). Next came more toddler of fun like high fives and fist bumps.When I thought we were finally done, VHP came back for more bise. Or so I thought. She asked for my husbands hand and then said what we thought was “bise” again. But my husband realized she was saying “peace”.

Suddenly it hit me that my daughter was passing the peace to my husband like we do on Sunday mornings at church. He responded as if the custom at church by saying, “and also with you” and gave her the biggest hug. Before I could catch my breath, it was my turn to receive the Peace of Christ from my daughter. She turned to me and said “peace to you”.  My heart was and still is so full. The adults at our church have no idea that by passing the peace to our little girl how much they have taught her. Since she was a baby in worship members have greeted her during the passing of the peace, and still do. VHP has been paying attention more than we knew, and is taking what she learns in church out into the world with her.

Raising a Child of Faith – Public Prayer

Last month I shared about my daughter’s first prayer on her own. Today I’d like to share another Raising a Child of Faith story about a girl I’ll refer to as Elle. Her mom is a dear friend of mine from our time together in seminary, and though distance may separate us, I’m glad she’s on this parenting journey with me. Our daughters were born just 4 days apart, and I love hearing what they’re experiencing at almost the exact same time. Both of our girls are learning about their faith, and today I’ll share a story about Elle, her mom, and her impactful  prayer.

Each year Elle’s daddy has to take a trip out of town for a conference for a few days. Elle’s parents are quite the team, but this trip means that my friend is flying solo in mommy land (shout out to you single parents, you’re rock stars for doing this around the clock). Thankfully a dear church members takes Elle and her mommy out at least once for a special date while daddy is gone. For the 2016 conference, dinner with this member became even more meaningful when the mundane became the sacred at dinner.

For some people praying out loud before a meal in a public restaurant is uncomfortable experience. For Elle and her family, it’s the norm. Maybe it’s because her daddy is a pastor, but public prayer is the norm none the less. On this particular night, the adults followed their usual plan and said the prayer before the meal. For Elle this wasn’t good enough, and responded with “more pray.” Her request isn’t abnormal at home to pray more, but this time it was at a local Cracker Barrel. She felt the need to pray more for their meal.

This might not seem like that big of a deal to some, but Elle is only two years old. It’s only been in recent weeks that she has been the one to say the prayer at meals or bedtime, rather than her parents. On this particular night it was also the first that she said the prayer while dining out in public. She said:
IMG_0571
Elle’s prayer was so simple, yet so sweet and just what needs to be said at a meal. What I love about Elle’s prayer is that her prayer wasn’t just special to her mom, myself, or those that know her. Apparently one of the servers heard her prayer, and slipped her mommy this note:IMG_0570
You never know the difference you’re making in the life of your child and those that you may encounter. If you’re ever called upon to say the mealtime prayer, may I recommend Elle’s prayer? Go forth and be the salt of the earth.

Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it! Also, if you have a Raising a Child of Faith story you’d like to share on HebrewDawn, please be sure to send me a note (hello at hebrewdawn.com).

“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 5:14 (NRSV)

Dear Working Mama

Dear Working Mama,

You are balancing a lot, and the pressure to get it all done can feel insurmountable. It may seem that all the other mamas out there are getting  it all done and still managing to look put together. I can’t speak for everyone else, but looks can be deceiving. I’ve said it before, but the to do list is never quite done and something has to give. Over time I have learned that there are two important things that help me get through it all and maintain my sanity.

The first thing I need more than anything is waking up before my family. As much as I’d love to sleep in or stay in bed reading, it’s not what helps me get my day going smoothly. Ideally I should wake up 30 to 60 minutes before my family, and most days it’s unfortunately closer to 30. Having that time to myself to get ready without my daughter pulling on me or “helping” me get ready is almost magical. It’s a great feeling to be ready for the day before my husband or daughter begin to stir. Any curves that may come my way are now much easier to dodge.


Next and most important thing I need is grace. Grace that I give myself and above all the grace of God. Each and every day I can be so hard on myself, but I remind myself that I’m loved and forgiven. This reminder is easier to find when I take time to read scripture and pray to start my day. It’s really easy to not make time for God, but when I do my day goes SO MUCH SMOOTHER. Lately, I even spend this quiet time win God before doing my make-up. I know that sounds crazy, but that time has become crucial for me.
What makes your day go by smoother may be different, but these two things have been game changers for me. You might not be able to do it all, but take time to figure out what will sustain you through what you can get done. I hope that no matter what you do give yourself grace.

Love,

A mama paddling along next to you

 

This post is part of a blog hop from Blogs & Business. Check out some of the other awesome blogs participating:

The Art of Better | Being Mrs. Beer | Women Winning Online | Mommy My Way | xo -Ava | Kori at Home | Ma Bell Vie | Stellar Mama The Jessie K | Make & Do Crew | This Kenyan Traveler | Blue Eyed Babies | HebrewDawn | Leah With Love | Fighting for Fitness | Tot Tot Goose | Nurture Her Nature | Blogihealth | A Cotton Kandi Life | The Bipolar Mama | Simple Acres | Dawn P Darnell | A Kreative Whim | Scarlett Ballantyne | My Unfiltered Chaos | The Big Red Patch House | The Mother Blog | Diary of a New Mommy

Raising a Child of Faith

Many say that they are trying to raise a child, but my husband and I routinely say that we are trying to raise a person. Our goal is not to have an 18 year old that is still dependent on us, but a person ready to make it in the world on their own. Granted as a mom you kind of want to be needed, but at the end of the day I want my daughter to be able to stand on her own two feet. Faith is something that has been very important to my husband and I, and nurturing our daughter in her Christian Faith is part of raising a person for us. We’re not always sure that we have it right, but last night gave us a glimmer that we might be on the right track.

https://pixabay.com/en/cherub-cemetery-nature-angel-figure-968811/
https://pixabay.com/en/cherub-cemetery-nature-angel-figure-968811/
I’ll share more about what happened last night shortly, but here are some of the things we do to raise our daughter in our faith. As I’ve shared before, we do our best to make it to church each week, and keep her in worship with us. There are weeks that she may drive us crazy with how chatty and wiggly she can be, but that’s also expected for her. We always make sure to bring a variety of toys or quiet activities to keep her entertained and step out of the sanctuary when she gets to be too noisy. Thankfully we can still hear the service in the parlor or hallway outside the sanctuary, so we don’t feel like we’re missing out on too much. No matter how noise our little girl may have been, we always make it back into the sanctuary for communion, as that’s become one of her favorite parts of the service. Slowly but surely she is understanding the rhythm of the service and applying what she understands. Just the other week I noticed that she had bowed her head when the pastor said it was time for the prayer for confession. She didn’t know that this was a prayer she could keep her eyes open for, but she did what she understood she should do for a prayer. Another thing that we do to help grow our daughter’s faith is making prayer a daily part of our life. We have a long established bedtime routine that begins with a story, is followed by a prayer, and ends with a song and kisses. Now that VHP is talking, she helps to name whom or what she would like to pray about. Most nights her cousin and friends from school are top of the list, along with other family member, and mommy and daddy are rarely left off. Sometimes we get some interesting additions, like the potty or swim class. No matter the prayer requests she names, we honor them and add them to the list. It’s been really cute to see how the list has grown over the months, and to hear what matters to her from one day to the next.

Last night we had my mother-in-law over to celebrate her birthday with a special dinner. Like many meals, but especially birthday dinner, we began the meal with prayer. We asked VHP if she’d like to do the prayer and she said yes. I started with the usual “Dear God,” and here is what she said:

Thank you [for] LKG.

Thank you [for] Meghan.

Thank you [for] Jason.

Amen.

LKG is her cousin, Meghan is her aunt, and Jason is her uncle. I was stunned. My little girl at the mere age of two had said her first prayer on her own, and the first person she wanted to pray for was her cousin. Not to be forgotten was her aunt and uncle.

We may not be perfect at this parenting thing. I might not be perfect at teaching her all things I want about being a Christian. But I think we may be onto something with prayer.