Tag Archives: life

Savoring Ordinary Time

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles

In the midst of our celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, buying Christmas gifts while they’re on sale, and decorating our houses for the season ahead, we get caught up in a lot of days in a row that feel “extra”. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take a long few weeks to celebrate the birth of Jesus, or that we shouldn’t let ourselves get swept up in the celebrations that the end of the calendar year can bring. What I am saying, or rather, asking, is that when New Year’s has come and gone, will we be satisfied with what’s left? What even is left? Our ordinary.

In Emily P. Freeman’s lovely book Simply Tuesday, she invites the reader to find a way to look at the ordinary and even mundane moments so that we may appreciate their smallness. Smallness, she says, is often where we grow closer to Christ. We don’t particularly like the smallness, the ordinary, or the (gasp!) boring, but we do need a nudge to look for God in whatever is right in front of us, however unsightly or messy it may be.

As we navigate the busy and glorious season of Advent, our hearts are naturally more attuned to the Kingdom-looking parts of our lives. You know, the familial relationships that are healthy, the beauty in icicles and snowflakes, and the snuggles as our children are drifting off to sleep, cozied up beside us. But the challenge comes here in January, when the lights and tinsel have been packed away, the sugary dreams have worn off, the “New Year” has been properly celebrated, and we’ve lost a few pieces to most of our gifts that were so carefully chosen, wrapped, and placed under the tree. What happens when all the magic is gone? Do we just attempt to fabricate it?

To be honest, I don’t think the magic goes anywhere. It just looks a little different. In “ordinary time” – which by the way, is an actual part of the church’s liturgical year when the numerous celebrations aren’t happening – magic might be a little more difficult to find, but it isn’t gone. Sometimes, it takes actually resting, looking, and waiting. Hang on to this glimpse of forever we got, while things were beautiful and kindnesses were more frequent. Hold on to the feeling of love and warmth you got in a room full of your people.  Don’t forget that those things aren’t created by the Christmas season – they’re created by hearts full of joy, given to us by a Creator who loves us. He gifts us the ability to see with His eyes the beauty of wonder and truth, to hear with His ears the exciting sounds of creation, to love with His heart those He has placed in our paths. We only need to be willing to receive those gifts and use them in our own ordinary time.

Enjoy it.

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles

It seems to me that each year, we get more and more hasty. We’re rushing through Christmas to get to Valentine’s Day… then rushing through to the 4th of July. Next thing you know, it’s Halloween, and on November 1st, we see Christmas decorations everywhere. Seriously… What’s the rush?

We’ve lost the art of enjoying the moment. Maybe not all of us, and maybe not all the time. But when we rush from big thing, to big thing, to wondering why there isn’t a next big thing, we’ve lost the ability to appreciate the right now. What’s the right now? Well, it looks like this…

Sunrises. Sunsets. Afternoon sun shining through a canopy of leaves. Full moonlight on dewy grass. Golden leaves on the sidewalk just before they turn brown. Spaghetti sauce all over your toddler’s face. A nicely-wrapped gift on your birthday. A perfectly-plated pasta and a glass of wine. A cupcake. Dirt under your fingernails from gardening. The smell of fresh flowers, brought to you by a friend. An unexpected kind note in the mail, amidst the mundane pile of bills and junk.

In the world of Instagram, we think we have to make everything special that happens into a “thing”. We need to take a photo and post about it (yes, me too!), maybe tag someone who was there. But are we actually enjoying the “thing” itself? Are we slowing down, smelling those flowers, sipping the wine, savoring that last bite, and hugging the friend? Why does this matter, you ask?

It matters because we are created for only a few years on this earth. Yes, our treasure is in heaven, and that’s what we look forward to – but we were put here first. On purpose. For a reason. We are here to live fully, love justice, do mercy, and walk humbly with God… and with our human companions as well. We were put here to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, the comfortable silence with loved ones, and the sweetly unorganized chaos of our children. So slow down. Take a long look at that ordinary beauty around you. Don’t rush out of that coffee date, even if you still have some errands to run. Savor the conversation, the last bite, the first sip, and the dropping of the sun behind those trees. Don’t pick up your phone and take a picture – enjoy it.

Teach Them How to Pray

This piece originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

My daughter is 6. She’s been really interested in praying: the words we say, who we’re talking to, things we ask for, etc. Naturally, this has made me much more intentional about the time I spending talking with Jesus in her presence, as well as how we pray together at bedtime, or when there’s a need. Since she’s been in first grade, she’s really begun to know things. Parents,  I’m sure you know what I mean. She’s started reading, she’s in school with a bunch of kids I don’t know, she spends time with her school friends when I’m not within earshot, and she’s brought home some odd turns-of-phrase. But one thing I want her to pick up well is how she talks with Jesus.

She asked me at bedtime the other night if I could give her a list of things to pray. Oh, how I loved this innocent request, suggesting that there are words that are perfect to pray at any and all times. Then, as I was writing down a little ideas list for her, all organized into things to thank Him for (like our family, our home, our church), things to ask for help with (such as being kind, forgiving others, and loving others well), and those items we usually try to remember (like keep our family members healthy and protect our home) the idea popped into my head: There already is a perfect prayer for any and every time we pray.

In Matthew’s gospel, we join Jesus as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount. About halfway through, he gives us the way to not to pray, and the perfect example of a prayer to our heavenly Father. How could I not begin here, with Jesus’s words, to teach my daughter how to pray?

So in addition to some ideas of things she could mention during prayers, or people who might need an extra blessing, I wrote out Matthew 6:9-13. Here it is in the ESV, in case you aren’t familiar, or you only know the version you memorized before you knew what the words meant:

9. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

10. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11. Give us this day our daily bread,

12. and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

I closed her version with the simple words I had learned so long ago: For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

When so many things we teach our children can feel really complicated, I am more than content to begin the process of teaching her to pray with these simple words, straight from Jesus, to be used as a guideline for every other prayer we pray.

Four Great Christmas Books for Young Children

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

I have a big red bin full of books I pull out only during Advent and Christmas time. It includes silly ones about melting snowmen, and a couple of those touchy-feely Usborne books for toddlers, but it also includes a few beautiful stories. Of course, like everyone, we love The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but these are a little lesser known. Here are my favorite books I read with my kids during this season.

Song of the Stars. This Sally Lloyd-Jones beauty is one of my favorite books ever. With beautiful illustration by Alison Jay, it is similar to SLJ’s Jesus Storybook Bible (which has a WONDERFUL telling of Jesus’s birth, by the way) on keeping Jesus at the center of the season, and emphasizing his saving of us all, not just his birth. The story begins with the tangible excitement of his coming, rustling through the leaves and being sensed by all of nature, this gift that would change the world.

Room for a Little One. This one is a toddler book, but it’s so sweet. My kids have loved naming the animals as we go through it, and seeing Jesus’s birth from the perspective of those unsuspecting characters. It’s by Martin Waddell.

Birds of Bethlehem. Now THIS is a neat book, by Tomie de Paola. We see the story of Jesus’s birth from some birds in and around Bethlehem. They are chattering away, sharing stories about how a baby has been born, angels sang, shepherds and wise men visited, and what it all means.

The Gift of the Magi. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this story by O. Henry. A beautiful telling of a couple who have nothing to give to each other, but end up showing their love by giving everything. The version I have is illustrated by P. J. Lynch, and is simply stunning. I can’t read it without crying.

What are the most treasured Christmas books in your family?

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! And a busy one it was for us! Enjoy these late-night funnies!img_1400

J: I did all these things without you even asking me!
Me: What a helpful boy! It’s like you can read my mind!
J: Yeah! I just close my eyes and it shows me what you’re thinking, and I can do it before you ask me!

Me: Does your mama love you?
D: Yeah!
Me: How much?!
D: Five!

Me: What shoes did you wear to school today?
D: Matching ones.
(I found out later that he didn’t mean two shoes that were matching, he meant the ones he has that are the same as J’s.)

Me: How old do y’all think Daddy is gonna be?
EK: Mmm… 21 or 23.
Me: Okay… J?
J: 2012!
Me: Okay, D, how old is Daddy gonna be?
D: Uhh… I don’t know….

To her friend we took home after school…
EK: If you’re thinking our car is clean, it’s NOT.

Me: Necie is coming next weekend, and she’s bringing her friend….
EK: Who?! Who is it?!
Me: Stacy!
EK: Ooh! I love Stacy! I miss her so much!
J: How do you know Stacy?
EK: I saw her at Shianne’s wedding. (Shi is my brother’s wife.)

While I’m reading EK’s book to her at bedtime…
EK: Hey mom! What if your last name was Whitney, and your first name was Whitney?! You’d be Whitney Whitney! *laughs hysterically*
Me: I’m really glad this book is so interesting.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday, everyone! We’ve been moving things out of our bedroom to prepare for a master bedroom renovation (Hooray! The stuff of dreams!) so that’s why our living room looks like CRAZINESS with all the stuff from every closet in the way of our regular life. In fact, as I type this, Hubby is taking a load of stuff to the storage unit so we can go through it and get rid of some things. Easier to go through it while it’s NOT in our house, right?

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so why you’re REALLY here is to hear about the funny things my kids have said. So here goes! Enjoy!

D finds this part of a guitar stand:Me: What’s that?
D: I dunno, but I’m gonna chase you with it!

I get in the car with a pizza…
J: mmm, I smell that pizza! Smells like roasted chicken and marshmallows!
Me: I’m not sure I’d like those things on a pizza.

J: I didn’t have a good day. It didn’t happen like I wanted.
Me: Aw, what did you want to happen?
J: I wanted to have rehearsal. (Aka to be at church for a while this evening)

D, telling me a story: A rainbow bad guy was running around there and slamming the door! And then an adult was coming! And that bad guy was like, “Ooooh!”

D, pointing to a large bank: That house is aMAsing!

J, point at Hubby’s glass: You didn’t even take a nibble out of your beer, Dad!

EK: Is J in kindergarten yet?
Me: No, did you think he would go into kindergarten without you knowing?
EK: He keeps many secrets from me.

What are your kids saying these days that’s silly or hilarious?! Please share – we love new funnies!

Things Toddlers Say

Hey folks! Did ya miss the funnies last Tuesday?! Hubby and I were on vacation *gasp!* without the children for almost five days, so I decided it was a good week to pass on posting. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and hopefully this week’s post is long enough to make up for it! Happy Tuesday and enjoy!

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Me: I have a special snack!
EK: What is it?!
Me: Mochi! (Japanese dessert of ice cream wrapped in sweet rice dough.)
EK: I can’t wait for that emoji!

D, pointing to the church offices: Whass in there?
Me: Offices where Mommy has meetings sometimes.
D: I want to have a meeting.
Me: Okay, I bet you will some time.
D: Maybe we can have a meeting in there, with Daddy and my brother and my sister!

Musicians’ kids…
EK: Can we go to the baseball studio?
Followed up by…
D: But I wanna go to Putt-Putt first.

Pulling into Chick-fil-A…
EK: Are we gonna pick it up or go in?
Hubby: Go in.
J: Go in?!!
EK: These are the best parents we could ever get!

EK: You know how the rain is happening?
J: How?
EK: The sun takes the water from the oceans and lakes and stuff, and sucks it right up into the clouds!
Me: She isn’t wrong.

Hubby: I’m gonna go get my leaf blower.
D: Yeah, Dad! Get your blow leafer!

J: Can we go to the movie theatre?
Me: Not today.
EK: But we really want to!
J: Yeah!
Me: Well, today just isn’t a good day, and right now your brother needs a nap.
J: Wait! I have an idea! Let’s just eat popcorn and watch a movie and watch a movie and eat popcorn!

A gem while we were out of town…
EK to my mother-in-law: I wish a had big bosoms like you and Mommy. How long do I have to wait?
MIL: How old are you?
EK: Six.
MIL: I promise in six more years or so you will have bosoms.

And one more we missed…
MIL: You are my very favorite Joe Joe in the whole wide world.
J, looking serious: Annie, you shouldn’t let EK hear you say that. It might hurt her feelings.

J, seeing his grandfather right before he would be gone for a week: Bye, Gon Gon! I’m going to miss you SO MUCH!

Hubby: What do you want for lunch?
D: Dumplings!
J: Chick-fil-A!
Hubby: *makes dumplings and CFA copycat nuggets*
J: *reaches and grabs a dumpling* Dumpling tax!
Me: They’re listening!

Well now, tell us what your kids are saying these days!