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🍁 A Care Package for September
(And two weeks until EVERY SEASON SACRED releases!)
TLDR: A funny story about live TV, prayer for September, back-to-school words to borrow, book news (!!), and some breath prayers to tuck in your pocket, too.
Lessons from Perspiring Producers
When I was in college, I had the opportunity to intern for ABC News, helping produce (or shlep coffee) for the Democratic and Republican presidential debates on campus.
I spent weeks in the summer getting paid pennies. And I was thrilled!
A hush fell over the intern squad as tree-lined sidewalks were cleared and giant trucks (with even more giant antennas) rolled up.
The television crew from New York had arrived.
And its leader? Well, I’ll never forget him.
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He ran on Diet Coke and shouting. A woven GOOD MORNING AMERICA belt held up his ill-fitting pants. He had an ABC NIGHTLY NEWS baseball cap (that looked like it had seen some stuff) on his head.
As a top producer, he had a crew of eager journalism students to boss around. And boss around, he did.
“Listen up, people!” he said, out of breath. (We’d soon learn he was always out of breath.)
We crowded around him, doing our best to be active listeners with over-eager nods. He broke down schedules for the upcoming week and name-dropped as many celebrities as he could to awe-struck students in Iowa. We’d get access to the backstage! Trailers! An after-show spin-room!
We might even deliver coffee to the FUTURE PRESIDENT!
THIS WAS NOT A DRILL.
We. Listened. Up.
The excitement was palpable. His schedule with to-do’s culminated in the hosting and taping of presidential debates on live TV. Our campus would be transformed! (I would be transformed!)
I was ready. (And already imagining how this job experience would look on my resume.)
So much to do! So little time!
“This is how the sausage gets made, people!” he bellowed, reveling in his entranced young audience.
Lanyards with “STAFF” were passed around (and proudly worn). A few students were selected to go on a coffee run. The producer dashed off to an urgent request, shouting at us to “STAY” (breath) “PUT!”
Um? What were the rest of us supposed to do?
This was before smartphones, so we just…milled about and attempted to eavesdrop as covertly as possible.
After about one thousand hours, our perspiring producer returned, a 32 oz plastic mug (full of Diet Coke) in hand.
He took off his cap. He wiped his brow.
“Folks,” he shouted, the tiniest bits of spittle greeting us.
“I’m going to teach you the first rule of television.”
He paused for effect.
I practically dove for my reporter’s notebook.
“The first rule of television,” he said, pausing to take a breath, again, “is…HURRY UP and WAIT.”
That was his big advice?
Hurry up and wait?
I returned my fresh, blank notebook to my bag.
Hurry Up and Wait
Though this character from my collegiate years and I only had a brief working relationship, I often hear him huffing and puffing, shouting, “HURRY UP AND WAIT!” in my mind.
You show up.
You do the work.
You do your best.
And you hurry up and wait.
And that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do.
My new book, Every Season Sacred, releases in just two weeks. Whenever I think about this, I start to dab my damp forehead a la my producer friend. It’s nerve-wracking!
But the thing is: I’ve done the work.
I pored over every paragraph.
I prayed over every section.
I created a 325-page book for parents like you, who are trying to make sense of their faith and live out their values while raising kids in this complicated world.
It has been nearly two years in the making, and now its publication day is only two weeks away.
Here’s a picture of me trying my best to hurry up and wait:
Every Season Sacred
I created a book I honestly haven’t seen before—a nuanced, contemplative offering for parents rooted in the real world, written for their actual lives, for them to turn to all year long.
I wrote Every Season Sacred to remind you of your belovedness.
And then help you remind your kids of their belovedness.
To help you stay awake to the wonder and the weariness of your life.
And then make space for your kids to do the same.
To help guide you as you determine how to live into and live out your values.
And then bring your family into these faithful rhythms.
To be a space for you to turn to when the words won’t come.
And help you sit in the silence with your kids, too.
To give you tangible ways to connect with your family in thoughtful ways.
And remind you that you’re not alone.
A Prayer for September
This transitional time of year feels like a mystery.
It’s not quite summer but not quite fall—another reminder, maybe, of the upside-down kingdom of God.
This is an excerpt from “A Prayer for Fall” in Every Season Sacred:
God, we ask You to guide us
In this ever-changing world.
Be our compass as winds change.
Direct us as we sit in the dusk
And marvel at Your mystery.
In the demands of family life,
Help us rest in You.
Soothe our discontent
And stoke the fires of our hearts
So we may be a soft place
For our children to return to
When the day grows dark.
May our children
Know now & forevermore
That no matter what
The day brings,
Our arms are always ready
To embrace them
And welcome them home
As the air around us
Help us to create
That are warm & welcoming
So that our neighbors,
As well as our children,
Will know that their
Presence is wanted.
Help us to be a family that notices
The seemingly small
So we might be better attuned
To receive the big changes
You have for us too.
Instead of “How Was Your Day….”
How are your kids transitioning back to school? I’m trying not to default to the “Did you have a good day?” question when I pick my kids up from school.
But in the moment, I feel frazzled. And they’re frazzled, too.
I have a book with literal HUNDREDS of OPEN-ENDED CONVERSATION PROMPTS to choose from!
Each week of Every Season Sacred has a bevy of questions you can pick and choose from to make your own (you know your kids best).
This week, whether you have kindergarteners or seniors, try borrowing one of these questions the next time you’re in the car together (conversations are great around the dinner table, but let’s integrate rhythms of connection into our messy, French-fry laden minivans, too!):
Where do you most feel like you belong?
When have you felt like you didn’t belong? How did that make you feel?
How can grown-ups help kids feel like they belong?
How can you make other people feel like they belong at your school? In our neighborhood?
What risk do you take by sharing belonging with someone? What would you risk by sitting next to someone who’s lonely at school?
How do you stay connected with someone you love?
Why is it important to check in with one another? What’s at stake if we don’t check in?
When was the last time someone checked in on you, just because?
Who could you check in on this week?
How do we check in with each other as an immediate family and with extended family (family dinner, group texts, phone calls, letters, etc.)?
A First Day of School Prayer
I love seeing you share your copies of To Light Their Way in the special moments of your lives, like heading back to school. Below is an adapted excerpt of that prayer!
Breath Prayers to Borrow
Breath prayers are short meditations to help you focus your body and your mind on the One who gives each breath.
Christians have used this contemplative practice of praying as you inhale and exhale for generations as a way to be still and know that God is God (see Psalm 46:10).
These simple prayers can act as an anchor, tethering you to contemplation and reflection throughout the week. Ask God to help you become mindful of your breath and your body as you breathe in and out.
In our overwhelming daily realities, it’s easy to become disconnected from who God has created us to be—fully human, with a connected heart, soul, mind, and body.
If parenting is a continual undoing, these breath prayers act as a tangible invitation to let God piece us back together, breath by breath.
(From the introduction of Every Season Sacred.)
Hurry Up & Wait
That’s it for now. Thank you for supporting my writing and helping me get the word out about Every Season Sacred to your friends, family, and churches (my publisher offers a bulk discount), and small groups while we hurry up and wait.
I know you’re busy. I don’t take a single share for granted. I don’t take a single review for granted.
Thank you doesn’t seem like enough!
May all your life be prayer,
PS: Doing a lot of carpooling lately? Catch up on all the Liturgies for Parents podcast episodes! We drop one every Monday.
PPS: One of the most exciting moments was hearing behind-the-scenes gossip, like what everyone wanted in their green room! Here’s the tea: Then-Senator Obama’s drink request was Diet Pepsi, and Senator Romney’s drink request was milk. You heard it here first, folks.
I felt like Ralphie in The Christmas Story, when he discovers his much-anticipated secret decoder message is just, in his words, a “crummy commercial.”