Category: Family Life

Brighter Futures: A Simple, Decent, Place to Live

Another Way for week of May 12, 2017 Habitat Brings Brighter Futures: A Simple, Decent, Place to Live What does having your own home mean to you, if indeed you are so fortunate? What does it mean for your children? We went to a fundraising banquet for our local chapter of Habitat for Humanity recently.  […]

“Acts 2 is the Solution”

Originally published at christiancommunity.org.uk. Erika Akimana from Kigali, Rwanda, has been living in the New Humanity Mission Community since 1997, founded just a few years after the genocide. I interviewed her on what made her make such a commitment, and what a central African Christian community is like. What is your community like? We are … Continue reading →

Motherhood as Desperate Innovation

Another Way for week of May 5, 2017 Motherhood as Desperate Innovation Any memories of spit baths, anyone? Either giving them to your own kids, or being on the receiving end of the quick attempt by (usually) a mother to remove some stubborn dirt or remains of breakfast from your face? Or perhaps your kids […]

This is What God is Like

 
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?  Or if the child asks for fish, will give a snake?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!   - Matthew 7:9-11 
Our kitchen has a drawer we refer to as “The Snack Drawer.”  Unlike “The Weapons Drawer” – which is a thing of my five-year-old’s making and does not actually hold weapons, but instead holds things that could potentially be used for weapons – The Snack Drawer, as its name would imply, does hold snacks.
Each of my four kids are allowed to have a snack during the day at school, so each of them reaches their hand into The Snack Drawer once every morning or two to grab something to stash in their backpack for later in the day.  Some things in the snack drawer (like Cheezits or Goldfish crackers) are considered to be top notch, and these go first.  Mid-level snacks (like pretzels and granola bars) go next.  Last resort snacks include, but are not limited to, boxes of raisins and things they claim to be allergic to. 
On a recent morning, a murmuring and rumble of discontent arose in the kitchen as three of four kids stood peering into the snack drawer.  From where I stood, near the kitchen sink, I could see the drawer wasn’t empty.  But still, they complained.  I moved in for a closer look and the children split like the sea and lifted their gaze from the near-empty drawer to me.
It was, indeed, time to replenish. 
“Hold on,” I said. 
I went to the pantry in the laundry room and pulled out the box I’d been saving.  I carried it into the kitchen, with the twins trailing behind me, and held it high over the open drawer.  I tipped the box, dramatically, and assorted snacks in red packages, orange and green, poured down like rain.  The kids circled and pawed at the pile, as though I’d cracked open a piñata. 
My one son, the one with the Weapons Drawer, grabbed an off-brand peanut butter granola bar.
“Mom!” he said, in a deep voice he puts on when he feels the moment demands, “I LOVE THESE!” 
Everyone’s hand found something good.
Isaiah, exuberant in the face of so many good choices, eager to hoard the things he loves best, announced that he was going to take four or five snacks to school with him that day.  I quickly restated our one snack a day limit. 
That moment, with its flash of color and exclamations of delight hangs, like a snapshot in the corner of my mind.  That's what God's like, I think.  God - the giver of good gifts, the filler of drawers we once thought too empty or sparse to satisfy.
* I'm well aware that too often 'the drawer' of life is empty, sparse, or filled with things we'd rather avoid.  But, scripture is clear that there may not always be a direct correlation between the circumstances of our lives and the character of God.  So, rather than drawing conclusions about God based on what we find in life's drawer, we might be better served to see the good things as signs of God's presence because, even in the midst of life's struggles, we can still be certain of the God's character.   

A Mother Blessing: Something to Consider in Your Life?

Last Sunday I participated in an alternative to a baby shower called a Mother Blessing. I knew I would enjoy it because my fun-loving, color-loving, people-loving daughter would be the expectant mother. Not only did I enjoy this event, I was deeply moved. Everything was exquisitely beautiful. We gathered at Coterie — a woman-focused co-working space in the Frick Building penthouse in downtown Pittsburgh. […]

The Gift of Walking

Another Way for week of April 22, 2017 The Gift of Walking My daughter shared a wonderful image from her 14-month-old’s life recently as they walked to a nearby playground. It was the first time he’d been to the playground since he had started to walk; he is pretty solid but still falls occasionally. […]

Communion (A Five-year-old’s Perspective)

The Communion with God is simple, so we will not be dazzled; so we can eat and drink His love and still go about our lives; so our souls will burn slowly rather than blaze.  . . . the Last Supper did not take place on one night in one room, and to eat God's love, we do not have to even open our mouths; we can be walking, sorrowful and confused, with a friend; or working on whatever our boat is, fishing whatever it is we fish for; or we can be running naked, alone in the dark.  The Eucharist is with us, and it is ordinary.  To me, that is its essential beauty: we receive it with wandering minds, and distracted flesh, in the same way that we receive the sun and sky, the moon and earth, and breathing.  
                   - Andre Dubus in Meditations from a Movable Chair
Five-year-old Isaiah loves bread almost as much as he loves his Mama, which is to say, quite a lot.  He also loves juice.  When there's no Sunday school and he's forced to endure the long church service upstairs in the pews, communion - with its tempting combination of both bread and juice - offers a bright respite in the midst of the otherwise boring service. 
Seated during prayer at the service’s beginning on Easter Sunday, he bobs and weaves his head from side to side, searching out the low table at the front of the church.  Then, he exclaims, “I see bread and juice!” 
His brother, Levi, sees it too.  “Mom,” Levi says, like someone who’s just discovered cake and ice cream is on the menu for breakfast, “We’re dippin' bread!” 
I turn to them, scandalized by their outdoor voices, and stretch my neck forward, my eyes wide, one finger pressed to my lips.  I silently tap my finger to my closed lips. 
They settle back in the hard pew to wait. 
My boys love communion and my hunch is it’s because they love to eat.  Sometimes this strikes me as sacrilegious, but, mostly, something in their enthusiasm - the way simple appetite and desire breed longing and consummation - also feels right to me.  They're happy to be part, to take part, and receive something good and nourishing. 
When the time comes, at last, I send Levi under his father’s guidance and push Isaiah along ahead of me.  I wonder again, as we exit the end of the pew, about the rightness of allowing children so young to participate in communion, but they’re so happy, so eager, I can’t see holding them back.  We move slowly toward the altar in two lines that bulge and clot the aisle as adults shepherd groups of children.  Seeing my older son behind me, I push him forward too, intending to lean over he and Isaiah both and orchestrate, regulate, their reception of grace. 
Isaiah reaches the half loaf of Italian bread first.  It sits on a plate outstretched in front of his face, level with his big brown eyes.  He reaches for it two-handed, manhandling the loaf which slides forward precariously the slanted plate and the server and I both lunge to stop the fall.  In my mind, Isaiah’s hands are everywhere (germs!) and I grab the loaf to steady it, tearing off a small piece of soft white dough while he wrestles with the dry, flaky crust.  He peels back a sturdy piece as big as his forearm and we turn to the dipping, then back to our seats.
While the rest of us have quickly dipped and swallowed our own crumbs, he sits in the pew tearing off bite after bite of flaky crust.  When his twin brother asks about the size of his serving, Isaiah replies, with deep contentment, “I didn’t try to get it so big, but it came off, so I kept it.”
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