Liturgy for Welcoming a New Baby

Because life is a gift.

Leader: From conception to birth; from first breath to last; Lord, all our times are in your hands. There is not a place we could go to flee your lovingkindness; no corner of life is untouched by your perfect design. In your goodness and grace you have delivered this new baby, _________ .

All: We praise you, God, the giver and sustainer of life. You have been gracious, generous, and kind. We acknowledge that this child we love is first Your beloved child. This new life renews again our hope, reminding us of your glorious redemptive plan for all things.

Leader : _________ comes to us as you did: As a tiny child, dependent on us for all things; yet a complete, unique person, made fully and wonderfully in your image.

(He / she) is your masterpiece, created for the good works you planned and ordained for them long ago; designed to live a piece of your story that has never before and will never again be told.

All: Lord, speak peace to the fears that we cannot give this child all that (he / she) needs. Lord, speak truth to the fears that we cannot care for this child as well as we aspire to.

Remind us, Lord, that we, too, are your children, in need of your daily grace. In your grace, Lord, help us to love, to serve, and to cherish this child.

Leader: In your grace we pray you will draw __________’s heart to yours; that Your light will direct (his / her) steps; that you will grow _________ in wisdom and stature; that your goodness and mercy will follow __________ all the days of (his / her) life.

All : Lord, may you bless and keep this child. Amen.

 

“Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you that whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ Then he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on each of them, and blessed them.” Mark 10:13-16, GNT

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TBT # 3 – Sweet Fair Baby

I revived my writing space and found a trove of writing from a decade ago. It’s fun to look back at what life looked like ten years ago. This is part 3 of throw-back blogs, written in early 2009 when Asher was about 6 months old. 

I call him “Tiny,” though Hefty or Sturdy would be more appropriate, if not endearing, as nicknames.  Also, “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” though when I think about it, it’s a teensy bit weird to bestow upon my youngest child the moniker given to a dead crooner.  Then sometimes “Sunshine Boy,” which is really just silly.  But what would mothering be without a bit of silliness?  And that goes for nicknames, too, and life in general, for that matter.

But he is so much sunshine.  Remember when we first found out we were expecting Asher, the prayer was for a content baby.  And after he was born, we kept saying, “He seems so… content.  So happy.  Shhh– don’t jinx it!”  But really, he is.  People think I like to let other folks hold him because he’s the third baby and I’m all chill about it, but really it’s because I love to watch him bring happiness to the people he’s around, and how he is happy to see everyone.

“Fair Baby” was given to Asher by a fair friend, and is notable because in a house of tan folks, here is a fair, blue-eyed baby, with a fuzz of almost strawberry-blonde (I don’t know what part of the gene pool that is from) atop his round dome.  People look at him, and at me, and at Brian, and say, “Um, who does he look like?”  I don’t know.  Certain expressions are just like a little Stella.  Sometimes his eyes look just like his daddy’s, and the complexion is like a very young Brian.

TBT # 2: the week in numbers

I revived my writing space and found a trove of writing from a decade ago. It’s fun to look back at what life looked like ten years ago. This is part 2 of throw-back blogs, written December 2009 – almost ten years ago!

This week i have:

Attended 1 Christmas party

Purchased 2 Christmas presents, both of which were discovered by the little recipients-to-be. We need to find some sneakier hiding places.

Jogged 3 times. I would say run because i prefer it, but if you’d seen me, you’d know Jog is the appropriate word.

RSVP’d to 4 Christmas parties to attend in the coming week

Been awakened two or more times during the night 7 nights.

Imbibed 13 cups of coffee. That’s right yall, i’m up to two-a-day. (See the previous paragraph of today’s post for details).

TBT #1: Happy Blogiversary!

I revived my writing space and found a trove of writing from a decade ago. It’s fun to look back at what life looked like ten years ago. Part 1 throw-back blogs, this was written February 2009 – OMG ten years ago!

Well, the actual date of the blog-iversary here was a month ago. Time tends to be a rather fluid concept in my world. (I’m working on that… along with about six or seven-hundred of my other greatest weaknesses. We’re all works in process, eh?)

So, it’s been just over a year now since i began blogging.  And it’s been a good one. Yes, yes, my glass is most always half full, but for that i shall not apologize. What i was going to tell you that it never ceases to amaze me that no matter how long hours or days feel while they’re happening, in retrospect a year always flies by at mind-blowing speed, and in its wake, regrets and bitter moments to leave behind; sweet memories and hard-won lessons to gather up and carry forward.

First a note to the friends i see and talk to on a regular basis:  I love when you get a kick out of what i write. I mean, really, that is just a little icing on the cake. Thank you.

Readers: i may not know who you are, because you often remain anonymous. Or sometimes not. But i’m glad to see you here. I mean, i don’t actually physically see you, and i know that sounds a little creepy. So ignore the creepy-sounding part, and take the “glad” part home.  You make me glad.

 

Perception vs reality

Sometimes things are exactly as they seem. Other times, though, our own angle on the situation means it’s impossible to see clearly on our own.

Our nearest neighbor has a window overlooking our front yard. Over the years he’s watched every manner of sibling skirmish, often reporting his observations later; philosophizing on how these childhood moments will affect the kids later. Sometimes he he ends the story  by reminding the bigger kids that the little guys will someday be big too, so treat ’em well (or else!). He’s a great neighbor; we’ll share a laugh about these moments, and I’m thankful for him in our “village.”

Recently he observed a situation so shocking, so unbelievable, that he didn’t wait long to tell Brian the whole story of what he’d seen. Only this time, it wasn’t about any of the kids: It was me.

They were sitting outside. When I walked out within the very hour I encountered two sheepish faces. “Rusty told me what he saw,” Brian mentioned fake-casually, with a sneaky smile.

“What’s that?”

“He says he saw you kick the dog.”

“He … what?” I hadn’t kicked the dog, so I thought they were messing around — until Rusty began unpacking what he’d seen. It was yesterday. No one else was around at my house. From the window, he’d seen me kick little June, and she ran away. Then he saw me do it again. And again!

I racked my brain for what he may be remembering. Listen, I’m not the biggest dog person. He may already have known that about me, I don’t know. But I know I’ve never kicked her. Oh! Except once when we were kicking the soccer ball to her, and she ran right straight into my foot-swing — hey…wait!

“Was this yesterday, late afternoon?” I ventured.

“Yes, it was,” his smile spreading. He’s going to think its funny if I’m busted.

“Could it be that you saw me kicking the soccer ball to June, and her running after it?”

Now he starts to look sheepish in a slightly different manner as we all begin to realize how the facts are situated.

“I did spend some time kicking the soccer ball to the dog yesterday afternoon.”

He never saw the ball. I can’t fault him that; the angle he could see from was certainly not a clear one. The ball was the same color as the dog. He probably hadn’t noticed in the past that dog soccer is her favorite game. We all had a good laugh.

But I’m sure glad we got it sorted out. It was funny; especially because of the contrast between the perception and the truth. And I’m glad now no one has to go around thinking I’m a dog-kicking jerk.

Sometimes, all it takes is a dose of perspective to clear up a misperception.

Grace In a Snail Shell

I was walking on the sand, addled by distracted thoughts; paralyzed by big decisions. I’d prayed myself quiet; reached out for prayer, sought wise advice, still only felt muddled inside. No answer; no peace. Nothing but “what ifs.”

Walking, I watched the waterline, looking as always for undiscovered treasure. Glimpsed a whelk shell there, sparkling in morning sunlight, and bent to observe it; pull it from the sand. Turning the shell over, I thought of the Fibonacci sequence built into each whelk — one of nature’s perfect patterns. Like the sequence of petals on a flower, the curve of every cat’s claw and elephant’s tusk – the design of nature reflects the beauty and intentionality of its Maker. Each of those thousands of shells littering the shoreline; unbidden, underfoot, disposable; all bearing the stamp of perfect Design.

And with that, my heart settled, my mind cleared. If God’s design is evident in every single corner of nature, there is no decision I need to fear. If his craftmanship is found where no human hand has sought to build, how much more has it been woven inside each person, made as we are, in his image? I have a great responsibility in my decisions, but I don’t have the power to thwart the intentions of a God so great that his design blankets every inch of earth.

All things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful;

‘Twas God that made them all.

  – Cecil Frances Alexander

Like a Disciple, 2

I can’t leave Matthew 26 yet. Right where we left off:   38He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  … 43 “When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.”

He’s found them sleeping once already. Two verses later, his betrayer will arrive in the garden. James and John will prove themselves unable to “drink the bitter cup of suffering” they swore they would share with Christ. Peter will deny Christ over and over and over, just like he promised he’d never, ever do.

And 2,000ish years later, I’ll set out to live my day full of purpose, the Big Picture of life before my eyes, and five minutes later start sinking into the quicksand of distraction. I don’t doubt the disciples spent at least a few minutes in devout prayer before their eyes drooped shut. Lately my purpose for each day has felt like heavy eyelids.

I know my calling at this stage of life: To raise, teach, and lovingly live with four small disciples.

I’m as immersed in my task as Jesus’ disciples were in following him. In general, homeschool means that where I go, we all go. The five of us all together over a daily routine of breakfast, history, math, grammar (etc, etc.); errands; chores, cleaning up. So much cleaning up. Likewise, for those disciples, following him meant they spent all of their time with Jesus; walking, eating, watching, listening, learning from their Rabbi. Praying.

Sometimes he spoke cryptically, or in stories, and sometimes just plain and simple. That’s how it was when he told them (more than once, in fact) exactly how he was going to die:

“Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed …They will sentence him to die… to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” (Matthew 20:18-19)

You’d think they’d have been on alert! When Jesus brought Peter, James, and John with him to pray in Gethsemane, saying, “My soul is crushed with grief,” even this was not enough to rouse them from their sleepiness.

I wonder if they expected more fanfare; more recognition. James and John’s mom asked Jesus outright to save special seats beside Him in his Kingdom for her boys. She hoped for some payoff; I suspect they did too.

I can understand this. Once I imagined discipling, or ministering, would mean meeting someone for lunch and and hour of good talks, leaving with a nice warm feeling inside, feeling that I’d helped somehow. I didn’t expect to live out the painful process by being tried throughout the day, in continuous contact with my people, continually refined by the type of situations that will cause me to grow in patience (ugh), kindness and gentleness (ouch). Where a dripping faucet of kid complaints and sibling squabbles feels like I’m getting absolutely nowhere; like my the amount of Jesus inside my heart isn’t enough to overcome the all the humanity around here.

This is why those sleepy disciples captivate, and comfort. I’m as embarrassed for them as I tend to be for myself. Charged with just such a little task, and unable to even keep at it. A reminder that an imperfect Jesus follower is the only kind there is. But thank God that “he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” (Psalm 103:14)

Otherwise Christ’s soul-grieving cup of suffering would not have been required. But in his goodness, he came, “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt. 20:28)