Bloggerhood Etc. 1/26/15

Luzern Bridge

Photo: Niall Wallace/BBC News Magazine

Best Beginning.Introducing Our New Baby Boy” by Alice Callahan at Science of Mom.

Best Photoblog.The Camera That Captured People’s Lives” at BBC News Magazine.

Best Special Needs Post.I Know What Causes Autism” by Carrie Carriello.

Best Parenting Post.All My Issues With Goodnight Moon” by Raquel D’Apice at The Ugly Volvo.

Best Question.Is Your One-Word Resolution Holding You Back?” by Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith.

Most Thought-Provoking.The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and it is Not What You Think” by Johann Hari at Huff Post Politics.

Most Encouraging.Trust Between Friends and Strangers” by Alise Chaffins at Knitting Soul.

Best Idea.Uno, the Bomb, and How You Can Make Game Night More Epic” by B.K. Mullen at Dad on the Mic.

Best Commentary.Kirby Delauter’s Not the Only One Who Doesn’t Understand the First Amendment” by Tyler J. Francke.

Best Tribute.An Elegy for Casey” by Cara Strickland at Little Did She Know.

Best Essay. The Fighting Indians Earn It” by Peter Rugg at SB Nation.

Best Parody Video.New England Patriots Cialis Commercial Parody” by (via YouTube).

“Ask your equipment manager.”

A New Year, a New Word

Last year, in place of a long list of resolutions that I had no chance of keeping, I tried something different:

Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap that long list of goals you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway. Choose just one word.

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.

One Word, 365 days (really 366, but who’s counting?). And the word I chose?

“Pray.” Not just in the morning or before bed, but constantly. Not just every day—one of the four parts of my ongoing New Year’s resolution—but all day. As St. Paul said: “Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” —1 Thessalonians 5: 17-18 (NAB)

How did I do? It was hit and miss. I know in retrospect that I took on too much too soon in the beginning and set myself up to falter. But, despite my far less than perfect attempt, I learned two important lessons. By setting the specific goal to pray I was more likely to accomplish it, and on the days I slacked off I really missed it. Over the course of the year, I found myself in a more prayerful place and I grew spiritually as a result. I’ve established a habit of prayer that I can stick to, even if it isn’t quite what I set out to accomplish a year ago.

So now I need to pick a new word for the next 365 days (really 364, but who’s counting?) and I’ve been thinking through some options.

I’m working on a guest post right now on the Benedictine motto of ora et labora (prayer and work), and since “pray” was my word last year, I thought I might try the other half this year. I am a writer—a struggling one, of course—so I could be practical and chose the word “write.”

But I realized that part of my struggle last year was due to my own frustration. I tried to force things that weren’t there, and when I lost control I got resentful and angry. I forgot that so many things in life are out of my hands, and to trust God to open new doors for me, and to look for those new doors, rather than trying to pry the old ones back open with a crowbar. So I could choose the word “trust.” When it comes to God, at least, we could all stand to trust more. But with the rest of the world? Not so much.

A third option—which is also the theme of my ora et labora post—is “balance.” In studying the Rule, and specifically the way St. Benedict structures a monastic schedule, I discovered that the basis of his approach is balance. Every aspect of the rule is a quest for balance.

I also like that balance is both a verb and a noun (that’s the writer in me again) and it seems to be what’s most lacking in my life right now, which might be while I’m so strongly drawn to the Rule. I see in it something I find missing in my own Sturm und Drang existence. Yes, drama is great for art, but it’s not so good for real life, and we all deal with enough uncertainty in life.

So “balance” it is. My word and my goal for 2013.

If you want to try this out for yourself, go to One Word 365 and pick your own word for 2013. There’s over 500,000 to chose from!

Resolutions Redux

New Year chases old into history book

Cartoon by John T. McCutcheon, from “The Mysterious Stranger and Other Cartoons by John T. McCutcheon”, New York, McClure, Phillips & Co. 1905. (Public Domain)

Last year, I posted a simplified list of New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Write every day.
  2. Pray every day.
  3. Play with my daughter every day.
  4. Tell my wife I love her every day.

As I said at the time, the essence of this list is to . . .

. . . focus on the important stuff and leave the rest up to God.

I did a so-so job last year. With God’s help, I hope to do better in 2012 and in every year after that.

Blessings to you all and happy New Year.


More Parenting Resolutions

Yesterday, I posted a list of ten New Year’s resolutions for parents. Here’s another one from a clinical social worker and therapist in St. Louis:

Beginning a new year is an appropriate time to reassess how well we are managing basic, ongoing commitments we have as parents.

Here are some primary parenting responsibilities, followed by some review questions.

Read On

I like this list a bit more than other one. The writer focuses consistency, which I believe is the most important goal of any parenting strategy. Are the boundaries clear? Are the consequences consistent? Are the parents working together toward the same goal? Kids need to know the rules, and the rules need to be consistent.

They’re our children, we love them, and we owe it to them to raise them right.


Make Time for Your Kids

Tampa-area pediatrician Peter Gorski offers ten parenting resolutions for the New Year. Some of them were a bit new agey (Like #2: “shine an inner light?” Ugh.) but this one stuck with me:

8. Spend time with a child when you can’t be interrupted — time matters as much as quality.

Children want and need our company. They also know when our attention is divided between them and telephone calls, chores or thoughts. Protect some time each day when you can devote yourself to the child’s interests.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what needs to be done, be it an blogpost or a sink full of dirty dishes, and forget how your child’s needs surpass all those other things.

So this morning I let the dishes wait, and I let this post wait. Instead, I played Sorry!® with Anna. It’s was a great game, with the outcome in doubt right up to the very last card drawn.

She was very happy that she won.

I was just as happy, and I didn’t care that I lost.