Doing a New Thing Again: A Back-to-School Prayer Time for Families

Doing a New Thing Again: A Back-to-School Prayer Time for Families

The idea for this family prayer time comes from several muses. First, I’m doing a blessing of the backpacks this week as kids in our area are heading back to school. Second, I’m always on the lookout for ways to incorporate prayer and Bible reading at home. (To mixed results. Please do not think that this goes perfectly!) Third, Cindy Brandt shared this liturgy from David R. Henson and I was inspired by his reminder that we need to honor…

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The Simple Prayer That Changed My Life

The Simple Prayer That Changed My Life

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam Even before we learned the alphabet in my seminary Hebrew class, we learned this.  We wondered aloud what it meant the same way you might taste your way through a dish at a neighborhood potluck. We rolled the words around in our mouths and picked apart the ingredients. Adonai: Lord, a substitute for the unspoken name for God. Someone pulled this from an Amy Grant song. Melek: king. Someone else pulled this from an…

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The Weird Power of Blessing: My Struggle with a Strange Tradition

The Weird Power of Blessing: My Struggle with a Strange Tradition

My daughter was four years old the year our church started doing a Blessing of the Bikes. I wrestled her pink and black bike into the back of my silver Toyota Camry, twisting the handlebars and tires into just the right shape until I could slam the trunk closed. My own mountain bike had been recently purchased. It took an equal amount of contortion—and considerably more upper body strength—to load it onto my also-new bike rack. As I loaded the…

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5 Powerful Phrases for an Election Year

5 Powerful Phrases for an Election Year

I used to love this picture: I loved how I my eyes would slightly glaze over as I switched back and forth between seeing the old lady and young woman. I would give myself a headache looking at that picture. “It’s a young woman!” “No, it’s an old lady!” The answer, of course, was that it’s both. This is so obvious, it seems silly to say.  But that was the miracle of the illusion—some amazing artist had created a picture…

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Talking About Race with Children (The Worst Advice I Ever Gave)

Talking About Race with Children (The Worst Advice I Ever Gave)

Several years ago, as a newly-hired education consultant working for the Department of Human Services, a preschool teacher approached me with a question. “How do I talk to kids about race and tolerance?” Being completely unschooled in this topic, I answered this: “With preschoolers, I wouldn’t worry too much about direct teaching. I would focus more on making it a non-issue. Little kids are so open and accepting naturally. We don’t have to teach them to be non-prejudiced, we just…

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Loving Loud after Orlando

Loving Loud after Orlando

We just finished the last Harry Potter book when I heard about Orlando. We’d been listening to it in the car and then stayed up late on Sunday night to listen to the last 30 minutes. When it ended, my daughter cried and said, “NOW what are we going to listen to?” Then I checked the news and wanted to cry again because I wished so badly to be in a Harry Potter book, where the bad guy was defeated…

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On Gardening, Play and Getting Back Online

On Gardening, Play and Getting Back Online

Around the first of the year, I choose my #oneword365–play. The goal was simple: to be more open, more creative and more centered in the moment. As I saw it, these were all elements that could be addressed with an attitude of playfulness. So, almost six months in, how’s that going? Oddly enough, the answer to this question ties perfectly well into another question I’ve been asked lately–”why aren’t you blogging as much?” Here’s the answer to both: summer. I don’t…

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Family Prayers in The Mixed Belief Marriage

Family Prayers in The Mixed Belief Marriage

 A few years ago, a fairly typical family scene occurred at our dinner table.  Engaged in a rousing song of her own creation, our 6 year old daughter refused to settle down for our mealtime prayer.  It wasn’t a malicious act, simply a silly one.  You know, like when you’ve got the giggles in church and just can’t stop. “Let’s finish the song for now then you can sing more after dinner.”  I said.  She quieted—until I began our prayer. …

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5 Hands-On Ways to Pray with Kids

5 Hands-On Ways to Pray with Kids

I grew up praying the traditional way.  There was always a blessing before meals and two prayers before bed: The Prayer of Protection and The Lord’s Prayer. In church, I would hear the pastor praying prayers with complicated names like “intercession,” and “invocation.”  I appreciated his beautiful words but felt removed from the process.  These were not the prayers of my heart. It wasn’t until I was with my church’s youth ministry group as a college student that I realized…

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Handling Differences in the Mixed Belief Marriage

Handling Differences in the Mixed Belief Marriage

Several weeks ago, I started a series on life in the mixed belief marriage. Then I dropped the ball because of other (paid) writing commitments and a wonderful vacation. Back now, picking up the pieces of the conversation…   “I think we should write a family mission statement,” I announced over dinner one night.  This earned me a raised eyebrow from my husband.  My daughter continued with her eating.  I took this lack of enthusiasm as a lack of knowledge…

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