Though perhaps difficult to explain, belief in the resurrection changes everything.
The story of Jesus’ resurrection is the gospel account most central to the faith of Christians, yet, in a paradox, it’s arguably the most difficult gospel story to believe. Healing the sick and even walking on water begin to seem like minor miracles when compared to being killed on a cross, being dead for three days, and then rising to new life.
Yet if we believe in the resurrection of Christ—if we truly believe—it should change everything about the way we live.
To stay present while pregnant, these moms expect the unexpected.
For the first seven months of pregnancy, I made the same comment during every doctor’s visit: “I just want a boring pregnancy.”
The youngest of four children with several nieces and nephews, I grew up hearing stories about childbirth—from the uneventful to the near-cataclysmic. Because of these stories, I’ve always had a respectful fear of pregnancy and childbirth and the pain and dangers that can come along with them.
Anger can paralyze, instead pause and pray
As a kid growing up in Southern California, I’d pull out the little, red portable record player from under my bed and play one of my favorite records, Music Machine. This Christian record for kids had catchy songs about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I can still remember all the words to songs about kindness, patience, and joy, but the song on self-control really struck a chord with me.
Respond to kids' emotions instead of minimizing them.
An old friend of mine likes to joke that if you go to Mass and the opening song is “Be Not Afraid,” you probably have every right to be fearful. Either the Bible readings will make you feel like you’re going to hell in a handbasket or the finance committee will announce the parish is a million dollars in debt!
Infatuation is easy, but love—especially parental love—is hard work.
In a recent meeting with all the players in our foster daughter’s case—social workers, attorneys, birth parents, adoption experts, and my husband and me—I was asked to give a summary of T’s progress since our last meeting, three months previous. I told the group all of T’s recent successes: being promoted up a level in gymnastics; behaving well (for the most part) in school and at home; scoring on grade level in reading and math. Thinking about how far T had come in the past three years, I smiled.
The genius of faith is that it gives us strength to face suffering head on, says Brian Doyle.
I’ll tell you a story. My wife is an art teacher for kids who are really really sick, a job filled with hilarity and pain, a job she loves, a job that makes her shiver and go for long walks in the hills. She spent a lot of time recently doing art projects with a kid who got sicker and sicker and endured oceans of pain and grew more swollen and weary by the day, and one day I came home to find my wife sad to the bottom of her bones. I asked her what was the matter and she said some things that haunt me still, and I think you should hear them.
Forgiving has much in common with jumping into an icy lake.
On January 1, all over the country, people jump into freezing bodies of water in celebration of a new year. While “polar bear clubs” involve bravado, good cold fun, and sometimes too many Bloody Marys, they also have a more serious side. There is something about our human nature that appreciates a clean slate, a fresh start, a chance to wash away the past and begin again.
Baking bread can be a profound spiritual lesson.
I have a new living organism—for lack of a better term—to feed in my house. It is my sourdough starter, a beige and pasty mix of wheat flour, water, and yeast that lives in a glass jar in the back of the refrigerator. Once a week it visits the kitchen counter, where it is replenished with water, flour, and oxygen. I sometimes divide it and use half for sourdough crackers or flatbread.
Find joy in life's small moments of wonder.
For the times I line up the wheels of my car into the tracks that lead into the car wash tunnel without the guidance of an attendant. The thrill is akin to parallel parking with just an inch on either side, on the first try. I feel like I’m a pilot or an astronaut and if I do nothing else good that day, You will remind me, that night, as I lay my head down on my pillow, how I rocked the car wash tracks.
Advent can help us draw out the God-with-us moments from our regular traditions.
Keeping Christ in Christmas doesn’t need to be one more “to do” on a family’s already packed December calendar. Jesus was born to bring peace, not stress. The word Emmanuel means God-with-us, and the antiphon of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” that defines Advent can help us draw out the God-with-us moments from our regular traditions.
Write Christmas cards
Although some people dread the annual stack of cards, envelopes, and stamps, for Elizabeth and Franc the cards provide time for Advent reflection.