What’s So “Good” About It?

From a conversation with Anna earlier this week:

“Dad, why do we call it ‘Good Friday?’ What the people did to Jesus wasn’t good at all.”

“No it wasn’t.”

“Well then why do we call it ‘Good?'”

“Well it’s a very old name, and it originally meant ‘great’ as in ‘very important.’ The Orthodox still call it ‘Great and Holy Friday.'”

“Oh, okay.”

She paused for a moment, deep in thought.

“Well it was good that Jesus died for us,” she added.

“Yes it was Anna.”

“And the he loves us.”

“That too.”

Not quite a Five Minute Friday, but sometimes you don’t even need five minutes to say what’s important. All you need is a few moments with a thoughtful nine year old.

Five Minute Friday

And another two-for-one for Holy Week …

Cheerleaders of Faith

Break

Keep calm and wait … what?

If you hadn’t noticed, things have been quiet around here lately. I didn’t plan to take a break from blogging, but it happened anyway.

And that’s okay.

We need breaks from time to time. We need to relax, to take some deep breaths, and to recharge. We need to try new things, and experience new experiences.

Above all, we need to live.

It’s so easy to get lock into writing. To focus on word counts and deadlines. It’a even easier to get caught up in the business of writing. To spend more time on social media trying to be heard above the din of voices.

We spend so much time on output, we forget about input. Reading a book, taking a walk, singing, or  playing a musical instrument. Talking to our friends, engaging with our partners, or playing with our kids. And then we wonder why the output stops.

No input, no output.

No living, no life.

That’s why we have to take breaks, and that’s why the blog has slowed down and why it will pick up again once I am filled.

Five Minute Friday

And this week, a two-for one (to catch up with both online communities):

Cheerleaders of Faith

Wait!

Keep calm and wait … what?

Waiting is the hardest thing a child can do. It’s hard enough for adults, especially those of us who struggle with patience. For kids, any wait is interminable.

I think it’s because they measure time by their very brief life. Weeks, months, and years crawl past you when you’re five or six. Even nine or ten. I remember how it felt waiting all year until my next birthday—at the end of November—and then another thirty days to Christmas. That one month wasn’t too bad, but then I had to wait eleven more months to get to my next birthday. I was in a hurry to grow up and it seemed to take forever just to get from one birthday to the next.

I know Anna feels the same way. Her mid-January birthday is only three weeks after Christmas. She just turned nine and she’s in as much of a hurry to grow up as I was.

I tell her to wait. And enjoy being a kid while it lasts. She doesn’t get it. Like me, she won’t understand until she’s an adult, and not really understand until she’s a parent.

To me, time is racing past. One year after the next in a blink and a breath. She was a baby, then she was going to school, and now she’s one all-too-short year away from being ten.

I want to tell the world to wait. I want to tell the clocks to wait. I want to scream “wait” to God and all his creation.

But no matter how much I yell, the clock ticks forward. She thinks it’s dragging along. and I think it’s hurtling forward. She wants it to hurry up and I want it to slow down.

And yet it moves. Sixty seconds per minute. Sixty minutes per hour.

It hurries for no one. It stops for no one. And all I can do is savor each moment as it comes.

Five Minute Friday

Venite Adoremus!

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1622)

No one is certain who wrote the original four verses of “Adeste Fideles,” known in English as “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Some have claimed it was Saint Bonaventure, others King John IV of Portugal, and still others an anonymous Cistercian monk during the High Middle Ages. The tune we’re familiar with is credited to John Francis Wade, and may have come to him in some form via the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The most familiar English translation is by an English Catholic priest named Frederick Oakley, and it is this version that will be sung on Christmas Eve in churches both Catholic and Protestant throughout the English-speaking world.

It one of many hymns, carols, and song that have been around for so long that no one knows for sure who wrote it. Many traditions are like that, whether widespread ones or those particular to families. Traditions root us in a rootless era, bringing back childhood memories and connecting us with long-departed predecessors. Celebrate yours this week whatever they may be.

And adore the One who came to make all the old things new.

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Prepare the Way

Little Mary and Joseph, waiting for Baby Jesus

Little Mary and Joseph, preparing a place for Baby Jesus

Christmas is coming, and it is time to prepare the way. There wasn’t any room in the inn. Will there be room in our hearts? When we see the Mother coming down the road, will we welcome her? Will we welcome her in the poor mother, and welcome him in the poor child?

These are the questions that Advent asks, and more and more Christians from outside the liturgical traditions of Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism are finding value in the questions and value in this season.

Our family is Catholic, so we’ve always kept Advent. We’ve lit an Advent Wreath week by week every year of our marriage. And now that our daughter Anna is old enough, she reads the prayers each week. We added an Advent Calendar this year as well. Each night, Anna opens another door and reads a short scripture verse about the coming of Christ.

And we’ve added one more tradition to our observance of the season. One that prepares the way and a place in our hearts through helping the poor parents who in Christ’s eyes are his poor parents, and the poor children who in his words are him. We joined a large group of volunteers helping a local business bring Christmas cheer to hundreds of families who can’t afford to buy for their own children.

We bought for three families, with eight kids total ranging from six months to ten years old. Anna helped us pick out clothes and toys, especially for the girls, and in three hours this evening we made an immeasurable difference in eight lives.

And tomorrow, Anna and Julia will help wrap the gifts. I’m staying home for that part. Given my lack of wrapping talent I’m more help not being there.

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Dear Blogosphere …

19th c gentleman at 21st c laptop

Image: The Art of Manliness

You inspire me every day to be a better writer. Some of you lay your hearts out on the page two or three times a week. I am awed by your honesty, your bravery, and your skill. Many of the best writers I know are fellow bloggers and you awe me regularly. That’s why I set aside a day each week—Monday—to highlight some of the best writing I’ve found. The funny, the sad, the thought-provoking, the beautiful, and the harrowing. I can only take a bottleful out of the ocean each week but I try my best to make it a great one. Thank you for inspiring me and pushing me.

And thanks to those who post interminable lists and click-bait headlines. You’ve taught me what not to do, even if it costs me clicks. I don’t care. I know I’ll never make money off the blog and I’ve given up thinking otherwise. I’m happier and my writing will be better as a result.

Because it’s important as a writer to learn what you want to write and also what you don’t want to write. That’s why you read as much as you can—so you can learn the difference.

So I will continue to make my small contribution to our vast shared community—and the cozy FMF community as well—to continue writing about parenting and life and sharing my experiences as a dad, husband, reader, writer, Girl Scout volunteer, Catholic, and all the other words that describe me.

I know I’m not the only one who cares about these things. I know I can encourage others just as I’ve been encouraged. And I’m going to stick with it.

Thank you for reading. Please come again soon.

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What Can I Give You?

19th c gentleman at 21st c laptop

Image: The Art of Manliness

I’m going through another one of my “what should I blog about?” phases. These come from time to time. I look back at what I’ve written, consider it to be self-indulgent, wonder what I could have done differently, and stop writing until I think of something better. Then after a few months of regular posting, I pause and go through it all over again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

A few things are making this latest rut harder to get out of. I’m going through a major shift in my writing. I’m also reading different books—mostly fiction—due to that shift. Anna’s getting older and more independent, making me less and less of an At-Home-Dad than I was when I started this blog. And I’m reading more and more about “the death of blogging” and wondering if I should keep plugging away at this site. What am I gaining from it?

Or maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe my question should be “what are you gaining from it?”

I can write for myself in a notebook or a .doc file. I can be self-indulgent on Facebook like everyone else is. But if I’m going to keep this blog going, I need to provide something for those who read it.

“A stay-at-home dad’s view on parenting and life.” That’s how I describe this blog, and that’s what I’ve tried to make it. The description is intentionally broad on purpose, but now I feel the need to narrow it just a bit based on what you would like to see.

So here’s my question—”what can I give you?”

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P.S. You can call this post a “Six-minute Saturday” if you’d like.