Spring Break has come and gone, but this morning I woke up to a snow-covered lawn. As stores fill the racks with pastels and florals and stock jelly beans on the shelves, it feels like my still-winter reality has been, well, forgotten.
You know what that’s like, don’t you? To feel forgotten.
We’re well into the liturgical season of Lent and I don’t think I’m the only one trying to grasp my way in the dark. I ache to skip to the good part. To the magnolia blossoms and chocolate bunnies that my kids don’t ever eat but sometimes I chop up and add to cookies after Easter has passed.
When Lent was a season simply looming on our horizon, it felt like an invitation. Something somber but also fresh. Lent devotionals, resources, books, and podcasts sprung up from every direction.
But lent, the 40 days leading up to Christ’s death and resurrection, isn’t new or shiny or much fun at all. (Womp, womp…amIright?) We want the satisfaction of checking to-dos off our spiritual lists (I read this! I prayed this! I gave this up and added this in!), but the truth of lent is that most of us lost the checklists and are just trying to survive. We can’t manufacture the wilderness. The feeling of being forgotten. We have to enter into it. To embody the mystery, following the footsteps of Christ. Alone and together all at the same time, stepping over discarded Filet-O-Fish wrappers on the floors of our minivans as we try to make it to the school pick-up line on time.
So, this is for you. If you feel like you’ve failed lent. If you feel like lent has failed you. If you’re somewhere in the middle and just trying to figure out where that permission slip for the field trip went. (Slowly raises hand.)
A Breath Prayer
For when you’re ready to give up.
As I write in the breath prayer section of To Light Their Way, “As you inhale and exhale deeply, ask God to help you become mindful of your breath and your body. 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 (see Luke 10:27). If parenting is a continual undoing, these breath prayers act as a tangible invitation to let God piece us back together, breath by breath.
INHALE: I won’t lose heart.
EXHALE: You are renewing me.
Take a minute (or as long as you need) to pray this breath prayer. Breathe in hope for the weary; breathe out the reminder that God is making all things new.
This prayer is inspired by 2 Corinthians 4:16.
A Prayer for the Messy Middle of Lent
In a world where loud is encouraged, silence feels wrong. When we get loud, our Internet lives are rewarded with dopamine hits and digital hearts. No one notices us if we’re quiet, right? And do we matter, do we exist, if no one notices us?
What happens if we’re forgotten?
On page 148 of To Light Their Way (in the section of Prayers for Holidays & Holy Days), I share A Prayer for Lent.I’m sharing some more excerpts from the fuller prayer interspersed. It starts like this:
O Lord, we come to You,
Aware that we have busied ourselves and
With full schedules brimming
With places to go
And people to see.
But in doing so,
We have forgotten You
And Your love
And the mission You have breathed into
The spiritual practice of entering into silence feels laughable to me as a parent of four young kids. Silence does not permeate any corner or crevice of my reality, though dirty socks and discarded LEGOs most definitely do.
And yet, I make choices every day whether to get quiet or fill my head/heart/hands with noise. With more. I need that reminder that I exist. That I’m not forgotten.
O Lord, we come to You,
Unsure of how to best observe Lent.
But even in our unsteady footing,
We come to You,
Arms trembling with the weight
We have taken on—
Weight that was never ours to hold.
O Lord, we want more than this for
And we thank You that it’s never too late
For us to reorient our hearts to You.
Our Belovedness does not hinge on what we do or do not do. But it sure is easily to lose touch with the quiet, sacred care of our Creator when we're too distracted by everything else.
My prayer for you (and for me) is that we would sit in this messy middle of this confusing spiritual season and remember that the incarnation (God made flesh) is real. Jesus sat in the wilderness. He sweat and he suffered, he wrestled and he wondered. Jesus is not in Heaven creating tally marks of how well we have done lent. He understands our wrestlings and our complicated feelings and sits with us in the wilderness.
Help us not to pick at our scabs,
But help us rip off the bandage
So that our wounds may heal, O Lord.
Shape our hearts
And the hearts of our children
To look like Yours, O God.
And when we get quiet enough to sense that sacred presence that has been there all along? Maybe that is the best thing we can do. Maybe that is why throughout centuries and across borders, Christians have tried to trudge through the slush on the sidewalks of our spiritual lives.
Why as much as we wish we could skip to the good part, we acknowledge the muck and the mire that has to come before blooms burst forth.
We humbly admit the ways we need You,
And the ways are many, O Lord.
Help us resist temptation
And ignite in our family new ways
To join You in acts of mercy and love
To those around us,
In our communities and our streets.
The Story Isn’t Over
The snow (literal abut also figurative, stay with me, all you warm-climate friends) won’t last forever.
My story, your story. The story of your kid struggling through an overwhelming body and brain in middle school. Your toddler whom you’re still trying to protect from a confusing and overwhelming pandemic.
None of these stories are over.
So while we can’t skip to the good part, maybe we can rest in truth that it’s not over. And that none of us are forgotten by the goodness and the mercy of the One who is making all things new.
As we approach Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) I want to share that To Light Their Way: A Collection of Prayers & Liturgies for Parents has a grouping of modern prayers specifically for this time, including:
A Prayer for Lent (page 148-49)
A Prayer for Palm Sunday (page 151)
A Prayer for Maundy Thursday (page 152)
A Prayer for Good Friday (page 154-55)
A Prayer for Holy Saturday (page 156-57)
A Prayer for Easter (page 158-59)
My faith (and thus, my writing) continues to be influenced by a vibrant tapestry of denominations and backgrounds. I hope wherever you are (or aren’t) in your spiritual journeys, you can find some sort of home in at least a few of the phrases or paragraphs of these prayers.
A lot of talk has been rightly made about corruption and insidious abuses of power in church settings. We have layers of systemic sin to tackle (to the point that it’s no wonder many of us are wondering what our place is in the Christian tradition & how we even pass that onto our children, but those are explorations for another day), and I wonder if a small part of the healing that needs to take place can come from staying rooted in the unshiny rhythms of ecumenical prayer.
As a writer, one of the most vulnerable (read: terrifying) actions you can take? Sharing your words with writers you admire. I don’t take it lightly that authors, pastors, priests, and writers across tradition, denomination, and background endorsed To Light Their Way. The prayers aren’t there to puff up my ego — my deep hope is that they’re just something to turn to in your real life, to help you when the words won’t come and you’re wrestling with where your faith even stands, or if it even is there at all.
Musings & Wonderings
I’m trying to use Instagram thoughtfully: And not get sucked into the often-infuriating, ever-tempting scroll. I removed the app from my normal screen and now have to type in “Instagram” to open it. I’m not sure if you could call it a hack but it has helped me avoid that addictive muscle memory. Many of my friends have incorporated rhythms of fasting from social media for days or weeks at a time. What has worked for you?
Speaking of Instagram: I collaborated with Bethany and shared a prayer for social workers. If you are a social worker, I hope you feel honored and seen. The care you put into your days, your relationships, and your work matters.
My friends over at The Lucky Few Podcast: Celebrated World Down Syndrome Day and read a prayer I wrote for us parents as we pray for our disabled kids. I cried hearing someone else (Heather Avis, another writer and mother I deeply admire) read it. Hop over here to listen.
My star-dust daughter Eliza: Is trialing a speech device. (I shared about it here.) She is amazing! Technology is amazing! Amazing! Amazing! (Can you hear how excited I am?) I could write an entire book about the glory of getting to hear her voice. Maybe someday I will. Speaking of disability & theology, I preordered My Body Is Not a Prayer Request by Dr. Amy Kenny (a former guest of ours on Upside Down Podcast) as fast as I could add to cart.
As much as I love new books: I love older ones, too. Madeleine L’Engle feels like my patron saint (I know, I know, my protestant is showing) of writing and mothering, and I just finished savoring A Circle of Quiet. Maybe you’ll resonate with her soulful wonderings as well.
Behind the scenes: I’m continuing to explore what it is to wonder and wander in those spaces where sacred meets mundane, where ordinary meets extraordinary — and I’m diving deep into how we can grow spiritually alongside our kids, too. I hope to share more about these explorations and offerings soon (!!!). (Yes, those are a lot of exclamation marks because THINGS ARE HAPPENING, PEOPLE!) For real, though, my prayer is that whatever I create means something to you, too. More soon.
As the sun makes way for the moon, may you remember that you are remembered. That you are held by the One who breathed entire galaxies into existence. Breathe deeply knowing God’s love swirls around you, even in the messy middle. Even in the wandering. Even in the wondering. For even here, even now, you are Beloved. Go in peace.
Sending you love from the muddy yards of now-melted spring snow,
A Final P.S.
Easy ways to support my writing (thank you, thank you, thank you):
Purchasing a copies of To Light Their Way. It’s available wherever books are sold and Christian Book is currently offering the beautiful hardcover copy for only $13.99! (My publisher offers a bulk discount for 10+ copies!)
Leaving a starred rating and/or written review on Amazon (and anywhere else you shop books). Your honest reviews help little ol’ me cut through a very noisy & saturated market.
Following, sharing, or interacting on social media. (Social media! Dun dun dunnnn!) I’m @liturgiesforparents and @kayla_craig. I don’t spend much time on Facebook but I’m a lurker on Twitter — so come say hi there, too! I mostly just share funny things my delightful and weird kids say.