Thursday, 26 May 2016

Being in those little teachable moments

About one month ago, I had a really exciting conversation . . . one of those chats where you leave and feel a little extra pep in your step.  It revolved around the topic of creating inspiring and helpful resources for parents raising their children in the Christian tradition in the 21st century.  Transmitting our faith to our children seems a daunting task, but I suspect our parents probably thought that same thing, and our grandparents before them.  And so, we begin with one step at a time, with one prayer at a time.  

As a result of that exciting conversation a little over a month ago, I was honored and asked to begin guest blogging for JellyTelly - a Christian parenting resource.  I am so grateful for this opportunity, and today my first post went live with JellyTelly.  

Here's a little preview: 
I don’t know about you, but so many times I find myself overwhelmed at all that parenting entails. Not only am I in charge of meeting my three children’s most basic needs, but my husband and I are responsible for their emotional and spiritual development. I often feel like I am too young to be making all these “grown up decisions.”

The spiritual formation of our children is a profound gift and responsibility with which we, as parents, have been entrusted. We are given the opportunity to introduce our children to the gospel narrative - to watch it take root, transform, and inspire their own lives. But to be honest with you, a lot of the time I feel like I am blowing it.
Are you liking it so far?  I hope so!  Click Here if you are interested to read more. 

Thursday, 12 May 2016

What's In A Name?

As I step into this new adventure of blogging and processing life through written word, I've been deeply moved and encouraged that my Mother's Day post (April Showers Bring . . .) resonated with so many of you.  I have read your comments and am carrying you all close to my heart in prayer.  Prior to publishing that post, I hesitated, allowing insecurity and self-doubt to creep in.  "Will anyone even want to read this little post?" I wondered.  So, please hear me say a BIG THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all of you who read, commented, and/or shared.

Upon returning to the "blogosphere," I thought it appropriate to give this blog a new name, and I wanted to share with you all the meaning behind the name.  I don't know about you, but for me, naming something is a real struggle. I feel the heaviness of bestowing an identity on something or someone before really knowing what or who they will become.  As long as you pinky promise to withhold all judgement, I will confess to you that our third child remained nameless for nearly one week.  I just wanted her name to be perfect, and it took my husband and I forever to choose.  And so, when it came time to consider a name for this blog, I panicked.  "Should the name be funny or cute?  Maybe I need to go the intellectual route."  In the end, I gave this blog a name for what I want it to be about.

Finding Thin.  

No.  This is not a weight-loss blog.  While I may contend that my post-birthing-three-baby-body could use a little help along its path toward thin, the good Lord knows I'm doing everything I can to just keep clean laundry in our drawers at this point.  Can I get an amen?  However my trousers may fit, I am endeavoring to find thin in other areas of my life.

What do I mean by that?  My husband, Tanner, and I spent three years living abroad (2009-2012) as students at a small bible college in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  It didn't take us long to fall in love with Ireland - the place, the people, the culture, and the rich history.  The title of this blog is inspired by a prayer said over our daughter on our final Sunday in Belfast.  Friends, many of whom had become like family, gathered and prayed that our Eiley would forever be marked by her time in Ireland, that she would be a woman of the “thin places."  Celtic Saints of old often wrote about thin places - these moments in time and locations wherein earth and eternity seemed to collide.  "Heaven and earth," as the Celtic saying goes, "are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter."   I believe that these moments are happening in our daily lives; in the obvious, and the subtle; in the triumphs, and the crash landings.  It is our joy, in the truest sense, to work alongside the Holy Spirit to foster within ourselves a greater awareness of these moments.  It often feels that the greatest blockade in keeping me doing so is the sheer busyness of life.

And so, for me and for you, I hope that this little "blogspot" is an intentional space.  It has purpose - I hope to use this platform as a way of identifying, celebrating, and reflecting upon "thin moments" in my own life, and in doing so, encourage you to do the same.

So, here's to finding thin together. 

Sunday, 8 May 2016

April showers bring . . .

Memory is a weird thing . . . so are emotions.  The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.”  But, when May rolls around every year, I kind of feel that April showers don’t bring May flowers . . . they bring May mud (I know it doesn’t quite rhyme, but mercy abounds for those of us who are not poets).  May is the month my family and I remember my sister Maria, as it holds both her birthday, the day she left earth for eternity . . . and today, Mother’s Day.

I woke up today to the noise of my tiniest ready for breakfast, and as I rolled over to hop out of bed, I found my oldest snuggled up next to me.  I guess I was so tired last night that I didn’t even notice her sneak into our bed in the middle of the night.  I started my day with a heart and home full; however, there was a little unsettled part in my heart knowing that many women dread the silence they awaken to on Mother’s Day.  My own mother’s home will be full of laughter today as we all gather to celebrate her, but she will feel the uneasiness one senses when waiting for the last of the party to arrive before commencing a celebration.  Today, for so many, is like a megaphone to the silence; a spotlight on the empty spaces.  If you find yourself there today, bracing for all the smiling photos that will flood your Instagram feed, prayers for peace and grace abound. 

I had an experience the other day in which my own uneasy feelings about the month of May and God’s goodness collided.  My preschool aged daughter, Eiley, thoroughly enjoys school days.  She’s a social butterfly and quite keen on learning.  I am convinced, however, that her affinity for school has something to do with wardrobe, as she is allowed to wear one of her “fancy dresses” reserved normally for school or church.  This past week, she pulled a polka dot dress off a hanger and brought it to me.  It’s a dress that has been hanging in her closet for sometime, but until this week, it’s always been too big.  I’ve never really wanted it to fit her anyway.  It is a dress that belonged to Maria.    

I can’t quite put into words what I felt seeing my daughter in that dress.  I was uneasy at first – could I really feel happy looking at that dress?  But with the smile beaming across my daughter’s face, how could I not be full of joy?  And yet, she was in a dress that represented such a deep sadness for me.  All of these emotions were colliding, but somehow in that moment, a little bit of peace enveloped me.  “God,” I thought, “You even breathe new life into little polka dot dresses.” 

My mind knows that newness of life is at work in roots buried deep underground, but my heart feels the messiness of the topsoil.  There’s a piece of me, the “I want to fix it” part, that tends to rush past the mud to celebrate spring’s new bulbs.  But, my heart tells me there’s something for me, and for you, that can only be found in the mud.  I suspect May will always be a “muddy month” of sorts for me.  Maybe you feel that Mother’s Day will always be "Muddy Day" for you.  We’re all traversing the human journey together, and I don’t think muddy should be avoided (or necessarily can be, for that matter).  This month feels messy, but it serves as a prophetic reminder of the kingdom coming in which God will make all things new.  The month of May reminds me of my own vulnerability, of my own mortality, and compels me to journey with others - broken by sin but enfolded in God’s great mercy - toward heaven’s eternal shore. 

Will you join me?