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Category Archives: Prayer

End of September Joys

As I try to give myself more margin, I’m noticing much small joy around me.

Is any joy small?

* Cedar’s love of frilly pink things and My Little Ponies.

* Sharing poetry and Shakespeare with Norah.

* Playing iPod shuffle “name that tune” with Scott. I’m really weak at Yacht Rock.

* Silly texting with Noelle even though international texting isn’t free. We’ve always silly texted so even though Skype is free, we continue the practice.

* Learning about the Faroe Islands because they regularly show up in my blog visitor stats and I don’t know about this lovely place. Now I want to visit. Or live there. Hello to my reader(s) in the Faroe Islands!

* Receiving texts about intimate birthy things in the middle of dinner parties. It is like the sweetest slumber party secret.

* Cedar sleeping with 24 My Little Ponies and hearing them fall out of her bed. One at a time. All night long.

* Watching Norah draw.

* The mothercords I wear on my ankles and the families they represent.

* Cedar putting on her “work boots” to help my dad work. I have almost this same picture from when I was a kid.

* Discovering that Keen makes boots. Discovering this tidbit because my sweetest of all husbands ordered a pair for me.

* The last warm days of summer.

* Norah asking me to help her memorize “Be Thou My Vision.”

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright heav’ns Son.

I hope you’re also finding joy in these fleeting, wispy moments.

Ordinary Days

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Today was such an ordinary day.  The sort that I imagined when I became a mostly stay-at-home mom.

The girls jumped into my bed at 7:30.  I drank coffee.  They ate pancakes.  I made lists.

We went to the dry cleaners, the library, and the grocery store.

Note to self, when asking the 6 year old to dress the 2 year old, check to make certain the 2 year old is wearing underpants prior to walking into the grocery store.  Particularly when the 2 year old is sporting a tiny sundress.

Norah glammed out. Cedar sans underpants.

At the grocery store, I pushed that wretched cart with the red car in front.  One steering wheel was missing so I had to facilitate driving disputes through the entire trip.  I lasted six years before caving to that horrible shopping cart.

I digress.

There was some home-learning, lunch, and exercise.

I tried to do yoga but Cedar pounced on my back during downward dog.  I have a very sore wrist now.

I talked to a couple of friends on the phone, tidied up work appointments and schedules, paid a bill, texted breastfeeding help to a former client.

I even made cookies.

I cooked a big meal and delivered it to a family.  Picked up our produce from the co-op.

I made salsa, drank sparkling pink lemonade, and tucked children in bed.

Then I snuggled on the couch with my hard-working husband to watch Star Wars.

Such a very ordinary day.  I wore yoga pants and tennis shoes all day.

So unlike day before yesterday when I unexpectedly caught a baby in a couple’s bedroom.  My hand on her head as she scrunched her face and then drew her first breath.

You never know what the days might bring.  The ordinary days confuse and surprise me as much as any other.

I read this blog post today about how the days we fail do not define us.  Wow, I rest in that.  Days like yesterday when I was, as stated by the 2 year old, “the meanest mommy ever, ever, ever.”  Then I realize that none of my days define me.  Not my ordinary mundanes or the outstanding over-the-tops.

My identity does not come from my days.

My identity does not come from my days.  My kids.  My husband.  My job.  My success or my failures.  Who likes me or who doesn’t.

May I be ever mindful of this Truth.  And learn to rest in it.  Then perhaps I will scrunch my face for that big effort to take a new breath.

The old has gone.  Behold, the new is here.  

Lately Preparing for Christmas With

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help Ive come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily Im constrained to be
Let that grace now, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Heres my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, Im fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love

Sacred Moments

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It was the middle of the day.  There were four of us.  A woman, her husband, their doula, and a baby ready to be born.  The light was muted by curtains.  She had carefully created this birthing room in her home.

It was an ordinary weekday.  The neighborhood went about its business.  The postman delivered the mail.  In the distance, someone cut the grass.  The school bus picked up and dropped off children.

But inside the birthing room, something transcendent was happening.

Inside the birthing room, there was silence.  For an hour, complete silence as the woman worked with her waves.  The only sound was water.  Each time a wave began, I slowly poured water from a pitcher down her back.  And in the background, water flowed from a fountain she had placed in the room.

I didn’t dare speak.  The space was heavy with the sacred.

This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and will help you:  Do not be afraid…

for I will pour out water on the thirsty land…

I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants. 

They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.

(Isaiah 44:2-4)

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,

where she may have her young—a place near your altar. 

(Psalm 84:3)

This is what the Lord says—he who created you…he who formed you…

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you by name; you are mine. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…

Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.” 

(Isaiah 43:1-4)

I glimpse the sacred at all births I attend.  I feel near to the altar.  Like a priestess serving the woman; but ultimately the Author of this new life.  It is a meeting of worlds–the spiritual and physical.  Soon after, the midwife and her apprentice arrived.  The baby was born.  And the world carried on, though forever changed by a new life.

As birth servants, may we ever tread carefully in these birthing rooms.  These altars.

The Gift of Training

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For our next study in The Ministry of Motherhood, we talked The Gift of Training.  Spiritual training, that is.  How to give this gift to our children.

How many baths will we give our kids before they learn to do it on his own?  And even more importantly, how old will they be before they do it without being told?  For that one example, there are hundreds more.  People-raising is hard.

And there are so many areas to guide.  We shape:

  • emotional health
  • physical fitness
  • nutrition
  • how to use words appropriately
  • spiritual core
  • intellect
  • creativity
  • developmental skills
  • moral compass
  • and so much more

It can be tough to keep it all in balance without going crazy in one area. 

Our first story was about Jesus and his disciples.  We have a model in training from him.  He chose disciples to walk closely with him.  Of course, the root word of discipline is disciple.  Our ultimate goal in discipline should be to mold our children in values and character.  Most of the time, Jesus’ disciples didn’t get it.  You would think 1 miracle would be enough.  But they continued to be clueless much of the time.  How comforting.  Do you think if we turned broccoli into macaroni, our kids would get it?  Doubtful.

The author points out that after Jesus died, they go it.  How comforting?

The key element in training is patience and repetition.  We start over every day; sometimes every hour.  We compared notes on phrases we say everyday.  I say “give your sister some space,” “don’t interrupt,” and “be gentle” 5 million times a day.

Our second focus was on teaching our kids to think.  My church did not teach me to think spiritually.  It taught me what to do/not to do but it did not teach me to think and certainly not to question.  Thankfully, my parents and a secular college did.  At some point, our kids will ask the big questions and gray area questions.  And we may not have the answers.  But if we’ve taught the basics:  God is good, he is truth, he is all-powerful, he is love, then they will find their way.  We talked about many examples of moral or spiritual issues that we don’t have clear answers for?  Our world is getting more complicated.  Some ethical questions are really iffy.  God can encompass all questions.  And God is bigger than theology. 

We talked about the instruction to take captive every thought.  We brainstormed ideas for training kids to do this.  Do you have any ideas?

Thirdly, we looked at teaching kids about prayer.  Often I get in a “why bother” place about prayer.  God already knows the problems and his will will be done.  we discussed helping them memorize the Lord’s prayer.  Make it a practice.  Set a phone alarm.  Help them understand that prayer is communication.  About relationship.  Not about a giant santa or amazon wishlist in the sky.

And we can be personal examples of praying aloud with or in front of our kids.

Finally, we talked about training our kids to face tribulation.  Jesus said, “in this world you will have trouble” and it is often because of their faith and choices that our kids will be persecuted.  That is hard for a mama.  How do we teach our kids to turn the other cheek.  We read 1 peter 2:19-21.   

Our gentle discipline tools for the week were choices and timers.

Kids need power.  We can help them have power by giving choices.  “Do you want to walk to the car or walk?”  “Do you want to wear blue shoes or purple?”  “Do you want to pick up your toys now or when we get back from checking the mailbox?”  Sure, it doesn’t solve every problem.  But it can help avoid some of the minor pitfalls during the day. 

Timers:  it is tough to argue with time.  It is easy to argue with mom.  Let your oven timer or cell phone alarm be the bad guy.  At the playground, my conversation usually goes like this, “Norah, we need to wrap it up.  I’m setting my cell phone to tell us it is time to go in 5 minutes.”  She’s familiar with the alarm ring.  When she hears the ring, “uh-oh, time to go” I announce.  Usually, she complies without argument.  Timers are objective and consistent.  

I’m looking forward to our last study coming up tomorrow!

Tend it or make it grow

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My sister and brother-in-law gave Norah a fantastic little book.  It is called Praying With Our Feet by Lisa Weaver.  Ingrid Hess is the illustrator.   Both women are Mennonites.

I’ll start with the fun things I love about the book:

  • first person from the perspective of a little girl
  • little girl’s aunt wears her baby in a stylin’ sling
  • illustrations are crazy colorful
  • the town map includes a community garden and food coop
  • diversity, diversity, diversity
  • the minister is a woman.  and she knits.  and wears sandals.

The serious things I love about the book:

It is a message of peace.  And action.  And love.  Praying with our feet, in this book, means walking for peace.  “While we walk, I remember that my minister often says the voice of Jesus is love.  Every person is our neighbor, not just the people who live right beside us.”

I thought of this book tonight because I’ve been listening to a sermon podcast series on Jonah.  I know, I know, when we think of Jonah, many of us immediately flashback to Sunday School pictures of a whale.  And that is really all we remember about this short book. 

Norah recently asked me to read the entire book straight from the Bible.  She had read a children’s version and I suppose she wanted to know more.  After reading the entire book to her, I suppose I wanted to know more. 

What I learned:

  • Nineveh was in Assyria
  • The Assyrians were brutal and oppressive to the Jewish people
  • The Assyrians were really, really brutal and oppressive to the Jewish people
  • Jonah was a Jew
  • Jonah wanted God to destroy Nineveh
  • While he sat hoping for Nineveh’s destruction, God sent a vine to provide shade for him
  • When God later sent a worm to whither the vine, Jonah pouted and said (rather dramatically) that he was angry enough to die

And here it is (Jonah 4:9-11):

But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” 

“I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”

But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

Ahhh, God tended these people and made them grow.  These are his children, too.  It is offensive, is it not?  These people who easily rivaled Hitler simply said they were sorry and they received grace. 

May God “guide our feet into the path of peace.”  (Luke 1:79)

For more on Christianity and nonviolence, may I recommend Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne or The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder?  Amazing books, these two.     

Norah’s Prayer

GetAttachmentThis is what she prayed last night:

Dear God,


I want a rainbow bedspread and a rainbow cake for my birthday.  I’ll be four December 9.  K? 

And I want binoculars for I can see you.

When I get big I want to marry you for I can be big like you. 

 Amen.  Goodnight.  Be comfy.  Bye.

(Then she blew God a kiss)

I love that cheeky spirit!


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Just thinking about God’s grace today.  Ho-hum.

Like the repairman who gave me a quote of 1200.00 for unexpected and unavoidable work we have to do at our home.  And then the out-of-the-blue check from the tax collector’s office; a refund for misassessed property taxes in the amount of, oh, 1200.00.


And Grace, my fears relieved.


My dear friend, her husband, and three young boys are serving in Kenya.  As violence and unrest follow the election results, please remember this family and the people they serve.  Pray for safety, for access to food and supplies, and most importantly, for opportunity to enact Love among their neighbors.  May Peace bloom in parched hearts. 

Beauty and Grace are performed whether or not we will sense them, the least we can do is try to be there.  –Annie Dillard