Prayer Habits for Parents Sharing my recent post from The Homely Hours

For many, like me, spending time in personal devotion is what may define our faith. But juggling the realities of childrearing or fast-paced careers (or both), often eliminates any routine which requires extended time at the table sipping coffee, or focus enough to read more than a sentence of the Bible. We feel drained and all attempts at finding quiet are daily obliterated by sticky hands and wailing toddlers.

As we battle to preserve our personal faith practice, we often need a reminder that it is God Himself who gave us these little ones. And so, when He says to pray continually, He likely doesn’t mean for us to abandon our children and sit in quiet solitude all day. God does not expect us to do the impossible; He calls us along with our family, not apart from them. . .

To keep reading and for some beautiful resources on growing a spiritual life at home check out one of my favorite places on the internet,  The Homely Hours.

 
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36th birthday. Amazing Grace. Liturgy of Life

On my 36th birthday

The hands of the clock meet with a gentle tick, it is midnight, my 36th birthday had begun. I clear my throat at my daughter’s bedside,  searching for the words of Amazing Grace, urging her eyes to close with my sleepy voice, gruff and wavering.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

“Mama, I’m scared,” she says, “I don’t know why,” she says, as I tuck the blankets around her chin.

’twas Grace that taught,
my heart to fear.
And grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed. 

I don’t tell her that I’m just like her, that I too wake up startled with the realization of how fragile my life is, haunted by the reality that the death I fear is guaranteed and the only question is how much grief I will endure between now and then.  I don’t tell her that each year the earth’s history contains more suffering than it did the year before or that she will one day lose everyone she loves.

I stroke her forehead. She squeezes her stuffed giraffe.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
’tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead us home.

36 years ago I was pushed into this world in a puddle of blood and cries of pain.  Yet I was greeted with the glistening eyes of my young mother, her arms eager to embrace me.

And I remember that joy is cumulative too, that suffering births hope. It is our nature to seek resurrection.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
as long as life endures.

Her eyes shut, I can see her long lashes even in the dim light. I tug my bathrobe tight around me and shuffle back to bed. I savor the sound of my husbands breath, I relish in the little girl now sound asleep who has more trust in me than I deserve. I pull my blankets up around my ears and slip back to sleep grateful for the new year ahead.

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
than when we first begun.

36th birthday. Amazing Grace. Liturgy of Life

 

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My Yiayia

She lays on her horn as we yank combs through matted hair and stretch cotton tights over scrawny legs.  Like clockwork every  Sunday she wakes us and the rest of the neighborhood, I suppose she figures they should be up for church too.

 

Sweat beads on her forehead as she leads the line of dancers. It’s my wedding and no one but her knows the steps but we spin to the rhythm of the old Greek tunes that I learned as a kid dancing in her basement.

 

Shoulder to shoulder we are hovered over pasta, feta cheese, olives, sausage and wine. “I didn’t have much,” she says, “this is just what I threw together.”

 

I open the door to find brown paper bags filled with potato casserole and rice pudding. Years later in Texas I continue to discover these sorts of packages express mailed across the country bringing me a momentary taste of home.

 

My Yiayia is the caretaker of many, first my mother, aunt and uncle, then me and her other grandchildren,  recently her own mother, brother and husband. She works the church festival and serves meals every week for the homeless.  In her I see what it is to put the needs of others before oneself.

 

The smell of sauce bubbling on her stove has the power to stop time, one whiff and I am both 5 and 35 in the same moment. She continues to feed everyone in her life. Around her table I learn who I am and what it means to be a family, to have a people and history of my own.

Today she turns 80 and I couldn’t be more grateful.

 

Happy Birthday Yiayia.

 

My Yiayia. Liturgy of Life.

7 Reasons to Join the Liturgy of Life Reading Group – 2016

It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since my first post here. Blogging through 2015 has changed my life. My mind and heart have grown and stretched each day by reading, writing and connecting with many of you.

 

In 2015 Liturgy of Life (did you ever even realize it is LOL for short? love that) hosted an online reading group, together we read five books about the Christian faith, home and family. Now as 2016 is quickly approaching (feels a bit too quickly actually) I am excited to announce the 2016 Reading List and invite you to read along.

7 Reasons to Join the Liturgy of LifeReading Group2016

This year I’m adding a new Link-Up function at the bottom of every post pertaining to the reading group (you don’t have to be reading at my pace just be on the same book, for my week by week reading plan click here).

 

So I know you are holding your breath and just dying to know what the 2016 reading list is.  Drum Roll Please.

 

Seven Quick Takes:

Why You should Join the Liturgy of Life Reading Group

 

1. A Grief Observed, CS Lewis.  We will spend the first part of 2016 looking at grief and pain in the Christian life.  A Grief Observed is simply C.S. Lewis’ journal from the months following the death of his wife.  It gives insight into how to love and support those around us who are grieving and raises important questions for a Christian to struggle through as we face the pain in our world.

(We will read this book for 4 weeks, January 17th-February 13th)

 

2. The Problem with Pain, CS Lewis. I swear I’m not obsessed with CS Lewis, this book just seemed to be the best follow up to A Grief ObservedThe Problem with Pain is the most intellectual book we will read (for all of you academics out there, you are welcome, for the rest of us, I’m sorry but it will be a good challenge for us). Here the same Lewis writes about the reasoning and logic that can help ground a Christian as they deal with grief.

(We will read this book for 10 weeks, with a break after the first two chapters to do some reading on Lent and Easter (see below) so the dates will be February 14th-27th and then April 3rd-May 28th, this is  short but dense book so I’m hoping by breaking it in half it will help us to digest it a bit easier).

 

 

3. Silence by Shusaku Endo.  This is the must read off this list.  Silence is one of the best novels I have read, coincidentally it is also being made into a feature length film which will come out in November.  It is a story of a priest in the persecuted church in Japan. It is placed in the early 1900’s but remains ever so relevant as we ponder the persecution of Christians all around the world today.

(We will read this book over 5 weeks May 29th-July 2nd)

 

 

4. Animal Vegetable Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver. About halfway through the year we will move from a focus on suffering to begin looking at the patterns of the natural world, where grief and celebration are both a part.  Kingsolver is not Christian but her perspective on the rhythms of life and contentedness to place, nature and community bring insight to the American Christian worldview. This book is an easy to read memoir of a year of local eating and farming. It has a lot of information about food culture in America as well as some decent recipes.

(We will read this book from July 3rd- November 18th )

 

 

5. Let Us Keep the Feast, compilation, edited by Jessica Snell. This book is a great review of the major liturgical seasons Snell’s compilation gives a brief history of each liturgical season and some simple ideas of how to celebrate them at home.

(We will read this book in two sections, we will read the chapters on Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost  from February 28th- March 2nd, and then Introduction, Advent, Christmas and Epiphany from November 20th through December 15th)

 

6.  I hope that reading these books will change your life and I am excited to hear from you.  Please comment here or join the discussion by liking the Liturgy of Life facebook page, linking up anytime you are reading and blogging along with us or joining our facebook discussion group.

 

7.  If this list isn’t enough for you here is a quick re-cap of the 2015 list.

 

 

 

 

It has been an awesome year, thank you for being part of it.

Erica

 

For some other fun quick-takes check out the Link-up at thisaintlyceum.com