The One Thing All Kids Need to Hear

The One Thing All Kids Need to Hear

I was in fifth grade the year I discovered that girls were supposed to be squeamish. This was a painful and puzzling thing to find out. Up until then, girls and boys mostly played together. The cool girls were the ones who could keep up with the boys. They were athletic and daring. They rode horses and chased cows, had beat up jeans and practical t-shirts. The rules of our universe were that everyone competed to be bravest and toughest….

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5 Tips for Talking to Kids About Violence

5 Tips for Talking to Kids About Violence

Here we are again, with another weekend news cycle focused on stories of violence and questions about domestic terrorism. Yesterday, a friend cried, “Are we safe anywhere anymore?” Another said, “How am I supposed to raise children in a world like this?” And several others asked, “What am I supposed to tell my kids?” I’m still pondering the first two questions, which are very hard and hurt the heart, but I have some thoughts about the third.  Here are five principles…

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That One Time, When I Was A Mess

That One Time, When I Was A Mess

The fact that I was at a MOPS meeting was a complete surprise to me.  I drove there and signed myself in, of course, but it was so removed from my normal behavior that it felt of an out-of-body experience.  Even now, that memory is tinged with a hazy yellow, like someone has overlaid the “halcyon days” filter.  I went because my neighbor invited me.  She seemed nice and fairly normal. I was new to the area and desperate for friends.  Peering…

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Why God Doesn’t Care About Your Career

Why God Doesn’t Care About Your Career

It’s back to school time, which means we’re all pumping the children in our life for information about “what they want to do when they grow up.” High schoolers get the worst of this treatment. By junior year, the pressure is on them to know what college they want to attend. To know that, they need to know what they plan to major in. And to know that, they need to know the shape of their entire career path. It’s…

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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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