Friday, November 14

Wednesday, November 12

Martinmas: Let your Light Shine

Today is Martinmas.  For awhile during the Roman Empire Martinmas was the beginning of Advent (which left 40 days of fasting till Christmas without Saturdays and Sundays).  It is a day to remember that we carry our light into a darkened world.  And while we don't begin our advent till four weeks before Christmas, there is always a shift for me at Martinmas.  Winter is coming and with it we prepare to celebrate light in darkness through the holidays.

Our homemade lanterns were a bit of a failure (we attempted balloon lanterns like this).  I didn't get the tissue till Sunday and we didn't get started till today so they didn't have enough time to dry.  I tried breaking the balloons and they totally crumpled.  So, out came the battery lanterns Great-Grammie sent for the older boys when Athan was born.

I must say the path we walked in Scotland, which was dark, was much more appealing for a lantern walk.  The boys were rather disappointed that street lights made our lanterns pretty unnecessary.  Next year we'll have to go to a park or green space.

But despite all that could have been better, we had a good walk around our block with our lanterns singing This Little Light of Mine and You Are The Light Of The World (Matthew 5:14 & 16).  (Every year I intend to learn some of the lovely Waldorf kindergarten songs to add to the mix, but never seem to manage.)   It was a balmy night and we all loved sharing some yummy ginger cookies shaped like stars, moons, Christmas lights and men when we got back to the house.  It was really meaningful to talk to the boys about St. Martin and what it means to be a light in the darkness this year.  I love watching their understanding of traditions grow each year.

Monday, November 3

The Baptized

I love baptisms.  I really can't think of many other things that I love more in the world.  I cry at every baptism I see and think about becoming ordained.  Oh, and when my own boys are baptized ... I can't express the joy and prayer-fullness of that moment. 

 I didn't grow up in a tradition that did infant baptism, but when I first encountered the theology in college I was very quickly drawn to infant baptism.  The theology and tradition seemed sound and it made so much sense with my own story, which isn't one of 'conversion', but one of growing up in faith and learning to continually turn towards Christ and his kingdom.  I suppose I can point to one moment that I chose to follow Christ and 'converted', but looking back I think there were actually many points where I turned and walked toward God.  Likewise, I see baptism as the sign in my wee boys life that God's grace is there for them and that they are part of the church.  The prayer-fullness of the moment of baptism is, for me, a great longing that they will continually (and perhaps at some particular moment) chose to accept that grace and their place among the people of God.  That they will know Christ and be messengers of life in Him.  Baptism is also a reminder of the great privilege and task we parents and our community have to bring up these wee ones in love and to practice living out God's kingdom with them.

Today, All Saints Day, we saw our littlest man baptized.  It was wonderful to see my older boys take the occasion so seriously; (and they also took their task of picking Costco cakes yesterday to share after church very seriously too.)  

And Athanasius was his normal sweet self.  Not a tear in his eyes and he tried to talk along with the baptismal responses.  He stayed awake through nap time to be baptized, had the water poured over him, and fell asleep within seconds of being handed back to me.  Yes, this little man is a keeper and we pray that his life will reflect his name - may he be a messenger of Eternal Life!

Friday, October 10

Memory Work

As I have studied children's spirituality (both in the book sense and the journeying with my children and other children sense) I have come to value the imagination and entering the story as the foundation of this journey.  It is in allowing children to play that they truly begin to see themselves as part of God's bigger story and begin the life-long process of internalizing God's Love.   Because of this, I haven't focused heavily on memory work in my family or at church.  Oh, we've memorized things here or there, but it hasn't been a daily pursuit.  And if I'm being honest, I'm sure part of this also stems from my frustration with single memory verses that are often memorized without proper context (or in a wrong context) and then quoted to support whatever idea someone feels like at the time.

But, I do think memory work is important.  I cherish the verses and passages that I learned as a child.  I think they are closer to my heart than those I've memorized as an adult.  I'm so grateful for memorizing my way to church camp each year, for space cubs and jet cadet memory badges (a program our church held, which is a bit like Awana) and years of Bible quizzing.

It is so easy for children to memorize.  I've been so pleased with the large Bible passages Jonah is memorizing each quarter in school.  And now Rowan has a memory verse every week this year in pre-k (which mama diligently teaches to him adding context and helping him fit it into the larger story).  And, I am very grateful for this input into our daily liturgy.

This fall, our Sunday school wanted to start doing more memory work together and because of context issues and thinking of family dynamics, I requested that we do passages instead of a different verse each week.  It was very well received and I've found myself working to make this memory work happen in Sunday school and accessible for families to follow up at home.  Doing a single passage is so nice in forming a liturgy at home, whether it is read at the bus stop early each morning, after dinner, or somewhere in between.  And, as most families experience busier weeks and weeks with more space, the longer goal helps to keep things going in little bits of time and longer bits of time that different weeks bring.

We are starting with Psalm 23, because if there is one image I long for my littles to internalize it is that of the loving shepherd, who will find them and keep them safe. I've been so very touched by Cavaletti's work, especially this collection of Essays.  (If you follow along here, you may remember we worked on this passage a couple years ago as a family - original post and memory card here.)

I made cards, which were color copied for each family.  We are doing memory games and sheets in Sunday School.  But most of all, I'm hoping that the practice of reading this passage will become part of families' daily liturgy for a time.  We are enjoying reading it each night before the boys are excused from the dinner table.

I made these cards by printing and then doodling beside the words so pre-readers/early readers can follow along.  Even Isaac at two enjoys looking at the pictures, which we explain to him.  We copied them on half sheets of card stock and I'm wishing for some laminate sheets as we read it every night after dinner and little hands aren't always very clean (we're still working on remembering not to touch our food with our hands around here.)

If you would like to make copies, you can find a scanned version here or on the printable page.


Five is a wonderful year, full of discovery and fun.  I'm really looking forward to all five holds with this energetic little man.  He seems to have aged overnight into a bigger guy.  He is loving K4, which at three mornings a week was the perfect thing for him and me this year.  

There is so much I could say about this vivacious, fun-loving, multi-talented guy.  He brings our family so much life and joy!  Happy Birthday Rowan!

Thursday, September 25

With Courage

Our school highlights one virtue a year and so, in the many moments my younger boys are painting, I've been making lunch notes for Jonah around this years theme of courage.  It has been so much more fun for both of us than my normal scrawled note that says the same thing each day (or absence of a note - he really loves a note).   And, it is a way for me to squeeze a bit of creativity into days full of the very ordinary of caring for four little men.

Courage is such a wonderful theme.  I am overwhelmed by the courage students show in learning and failing and trying again.  We have a lot of conversations about how it takes more courage to fail than to get everything perfect (perfectionism might be something we're encountering) and it is so very good for mama to internalize this too.

Wednesday, September 24

Lego and the Metaphysics of Creativity

I can't tell you the hours I spend picking up legos.  I find them in the laundry, the air ducts, under every piece of furniture, in the car, my pockets... We try to keep them to the lego table, but they always spill over onto the floor (three boys sorting and building takes lots of room), but they do love it so.  Needless to say The LEGO Movie was a big hit in our household.  So big, Jim just wrote a piece using the Lego movie to talk about creativity.  You can find the artical on the Washington Institute blog here.