The four weeks before Christmas make up the contemplative season of Advent, in which Christians are supposed to prepare our hearts to welcome the newborn Prince of Peace. The four weeks before Christmas are a time of frenzied shopping, cooking, housecleaning or travel-planning, and festive-event-attending for most people. There are various ways to calm the … Continue reading Advent Prayer Tip
He never believed in the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, either. There are three important reasons why Daniel and I decided, before Nicholas was born, that we were not going to pretend that any of these characters were real. The first is that we didn't like the idea of lying to our child. We … Continue reading Why my kid never believed in Santa Claus
A while back, another mother asked my advice: Tonight my five year old asked me, "Where did the first people come from?" "Well," I replied, "Different people believe different things. Scientists think that humans evolved from gorillas." "What is evolved?" "That’s when things change from one thing to another, like a caterpillar to a butterfly. … Continue reading Answering a child’s questions on human origins
Last week, the United States Supreme Court decided that federal laws that apply to married people apply to same-sex couples who are married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. As a liberal person who supports equal rights, I'm supposed to rejoice in this great victory for equality and diversity. In a way, I … Continue reading But why should your tax status be based on your sex life?
Huh, why am I still talking about Easter on May fifteenth? Everybody knows Easter was way back in March this year! Well, yes, Easter Sunday, the commemoration of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, was on March 31, but Easter actually is a season that lasts seven weeks in the Episcopal Church and … Continue reading Easter: Is it just a believing?
I noticed my article What to Serve for Coffee Hour drawing more readers as Easter approached--probably people looking for ideas to make their church coffee hours following the Easter services particularly festive. I have often taken charge of coordinating my church's reception after the Easter Vigil (the night before Easter Sunday), and this year's went … Continue reading What to Serve for a Big Reception or Party (specifically, Easter)
I am an Episcopalian, raising my son Nicholas (now eight years old) as an Episcopalian, but I was raised Unitarian myself, so I've had to figure out a lot of this Christian parenting stuff as we go along. I've talked with some other parents in the same boat, as well as some who don't belong … Continue reading How I told my child the Easter story
In her Ash Wednesday sermon, my pastor mentioned someone's suggestion to fast for Lent by eating only what you can purchase with the amount of money allocated by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("food stamps") to needy families--approximately $4 per person per day. The suggestion had been to do this for just one week, not … Continue reading Could you feed your family on a food-stamp budget?
This fall, our church has launched a new Bible study session, on Sundays between the two church services, to discuss the portion of the Gospel that will be read in church that day. As Episcopalians, we follow a lectionary that tells us which scriptures to read each day, and this fall the Gospel readings for … Continue reading You do not know what you are asking.
Many places of worship, and a lot of non-religious organizations, have a "coffee hour" or "fellowship time" or some other name for "when we all mill around and have a little something to eat and drink." At our church, this is a particularly vital time. Many interesting conversations happen, friendships are formed, and plans for … Continue reading What to Serve for Coffee Hour
I've had a busy few weeks with very little time for writing! But when I saw that today's Works-for-Me Wednesday headline post is about finding balance in your life, I thought of something I've been doing on my way to work many mornings that helps me to feel balanced within this vast and complex world. … Continue reading Sing a New Song!
It's Works-for-Me Wednesday, and it's also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. If you don't belong to a religion that observes Ash Wednesday--or even if you do--you may never have thought about where churches get the ashes that are used to draw a cross on each person's forehead to remind us that our physical … Continue reading Holy Recycling!
My son Nicholas is almost seven years old and is growing up in an Episcopal parish that has very few children or teenagers at the moment. I've been going there for 15 years. When we had more kids, during each service a teenager served as crucifer (carrying the cross to lead the procession of worship … Continue reading The Element Bearer
My church has a tradition of Stewardship Talks in the autumn, for a few weeks before parishioners turn in our pledges for next year, in which a different person each week attempts to inspire everyone to improve our contributions to the church. I did mine this past Sunday. A lot of people told me how … Continue reading Stewardship Talk
My response to this question won't work for everyone, but I think most parents can adapt it to explain the beliefs they want to convey to their child. You also can learn from my experience and avoid leaving out a crucial fact about death, as I did! Nicholas first asked about death a few weeks … Continue reading How do you explain death to a young child?
I feel kind of silly posting a tip for religious fulfillment as if it were just another tip for better living, but I did learn this from a bishop (so it's sort of official!) and it really has made a big difference in the way I experience Communion and maybe even in the way God … Continue reading How to get more out of Communion
If you haven't heard this question from your child yet, you're likely to hear it any day now. As the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks approaches, I'm seeing and hearing more commemoration than in the past eight years. My son asked about September 11 two years ago when the newspaper vending box showed a … Continue reading Mama, what happened on September 11?
I ran an All-Ages Game Night at my church last month as both a social event for our members and a way to connect with our community (and maybe attract some new members). It was easy to do, extremely inexpensive, and lots of fun! My family loves games and owns enough to fill a large … Continue reading All-Ages Game Night: A great community event!
Today is my son's last day of kindergarten! This has been his first year in public school, and we are very pleased with our neighborhood public school, Pittsburgh Colfax. It's a great example of how an urban school can thrive when faculty encourage parent involvement. On "Take Your Special Person to School Day" last month, … Continue reading Our Neighborhood Public School Works for Us!
Happy Easter! Despite my positive past experiences with changing my behavior for Lent, this year I didn't give up anything for those six weeks. Frankly, I kind of felt like I couldn't handle any more self-discipline, since my schedule was so packed with work, meetings, household errands and projects, and trying to be some kind … Continue reading A Half-Fast Lent