Wednesday, 30 May 2012

family as mini-church

I've worked for almost a month now for MennoMedia - a publishing network for the Mennonite church in North America. My job is "curriculum project developer" - I get to help to dream up what's next in terms of resources for faith formation for our children and youth. And I'm excited about it. I've been doing a lot of reading lately about faith formation, and a couple of things have struck me:

* families are the spaces/people where faith is most often formed and nurtured. Homes have altars where the family worships - sometimes the kitchen table, sometimes the TV. Parents are spiritual guides or pastors, presiding over the spiritual input our children receive. Praying for and with them, spiritually guiding and nurturing them. Pointing out God-moments in their lives. Providing spaces in our home for calm, quiet, reflection, prayer. Taking responsibility for this nurture, and not leaving it up to a program that meets for one hour on a Sunday.

*children's faith doesn't necessarily need to be formed as much as protected. They already have faith, or a relationship with God - possibly even more profound than my own that's been whittled away by years of cynicism, skepticism and materialism.

I may want my child to learn where middle C is on the piano, or learn to catch a baseball in a glove, or learn the various strings on her violin. But do I spend as much, or more, time teaching them ways of praying, or the stories that have shaped me in my faith?

Here's a little secret: NOPE. I haven't. Some days I even feel too tired to pray before bedtime, which I think that everyone except me does with their kids at night.

I want prayer to shape and change me, and I want it to shape my kids too. It seems there is so much noise in our world - so many messages coming at us each day - and I want my kids to have a quiet, still place that they can return to that gives them sustenance for the day. To me, prayer is about accepting my limits, and opening myself to a source and grace that is bigger than me. Here's a quote from Luther I read this week: "I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer."


I may disappoint myself if I strive for that goal at this point, but this is how I'll work at being a spiritual guide/priest to my family this week:

1. eat supper together. Talk. Pray.
2. pray with and for them at bedtime.
3. Show my love by listening to what they're saying to me. Turn off the list-maker/stress-maker in my head and listen.

In summary:

Eat. Pray. Love.

When your children ask their parents in time to come, "What do these stones mean?" then you shall let your children know, "Israel crossed over the Jordan here on dry ground." - Joshua 4:21-22

Monday, 21 May 2012

not so super me

Has it been almost a month since I last wrote? Yikes. Well, it's all part of my campaign to be not so super. This is a very fun campaign, and it goes along with my "expect less" motto. It leads to a lot less guilt and a lot more appointment (opposite of disappointment). :)

It involves letting things go, or at least slide, for awhile. Letting balls drop. Not picking them up (someone else can). Stop trying to prove myself to myself. Sitting in my pajamas for the day. Being terribly unproductive. Releasing my self-appointed role as emotional barometer of the family. Enabling responsibility, not helplessness, in my children. Breathing. Praying. Smiling.

Along with being not so super, I'm trying to be not so jealous of my husband who's spending 3.5 weeks in Israel/Palestine right now. But the unexpected gift that I always find when I single-parent is that I lower my expectations for what will get accomplished around here. And I spend more time just being present. Presence. Stillness. Now why can't I just be like that when we're all on the same national soil? Silly.

I have no problem expecting more of myself - I do this all the time. More mom, more wife, more blogging, more working, more church/volunteer work. If I have a 3/4 time job (which I just started 2 weeks ago), then I'll work 5/4.

What is much harder for me is the less.