Category Archives: spiritual

Why Easter?

good friday
When we were walking to school at the beginning of the week, Little O looked up at me and said, “Why is Easter your favorite, mom? Shouldn’t it be, like, your birthday is your favorite – for you, I mean?”

I answered with geeky enthusiasm, “Because…JESUS!”  And he rolled his eyes in the way that a child rolls his eyes at an embarrassing mom and continued his trudge towards school.

He’s not the first one to ask me.  Even if the short answer is true, I could expand a little.

Grace is one of my favorite ideas, favorite thoughts, favorite words – it sounds even better than forgiveness.  It’s a guiding light for me in daily encounters and big huge decisions. How could I give grace? receive grace? Easter is the ultimate story of grace; God suffering for us so that we may never know separation from him.  I grew up with parents who knew grace and gave grace.  No one listened to a sermon of my father’s without hearing they were loved. By Jesus.  Forgiven. By Jesus.  All your sins are washed away….so when I get a day to celebrate GRACE ETERNAL, I’m gonna take it!

To be fair, I also had an (un)healthy dose of guilt in my childhood.  I was keenly aware of my sinful nature;  how I messed up and could try harder.  However, I also  knew in my little childhood heart that I was saved, loved, accepted, and forgiven. I always wanted to do better -for my mom, for my dad, for God.  In a way that is oftentimes harder to fathom as an adult (death is closer after all), I also knew that I would live forever.  As a young girl, I knew in my bones I’d have eternity with the Lord. More importantly, I thought that was AMAZING. Sometimes I drew doodles of heaven… and they looked a little bit like Wet ‘N Wild.  Water Slides forever!

I was also a dramatic, sensitive little soul… and the ritual of Lent and Holy Week, well, this little actress ate it up with a spoon.  Giving something up for 40 whole days. Taking Communion on Thursday.  Weeping in the Dark on Friday as the altar is cleared and the book slams shut.  Every year I got so mad again – why did they have to do that to my Jesus?

But EASTER?  Oh, Easter.  Every Easter our church was FULL.  Even as we were growing – Easter was one that everyone showed up for – they brought their families, their neighbors.  If they came once a year, they came on Easter.  My Father, who was always a good preacher, took it up five or ten notches on Easter -because he knew this was his ONE Sunday with most of these people… it better be good.

“He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!”

And the music… oh, the music.  The music was so joyous, so happy!  After a Friday night of moan/singing that old spiritual, ‘Were you There’ – we get to wake up and sing “ALLELUIA! HE IS RISEN!” On Sunday morning? Count me in.  Sign me up.  Roll away the Stone!  After 40 days of thinking and praying and being somber, it is time for a festival!

Easter is shiny and new. Lilies covered the altar.  Sometimes there were musicians, a brass ensemble, to remind us ‘Christ the Lord is Risen Today’.  I always had a new Spring dress.  Some years I got up in the dark to join Dad for the Sunrise service…. The sky is always pretty at sunrise, but on Easter morning in Florida… it is truly celestial.  Easter was all dressed up in the best of ways- flowers, brass instruments, fresh floral fabric and Sunshine.

The rest of the day was colored glad.  My Dad would be in a fantastic mood – the culmination of a week of church.  His good cheer was contagious and we would have a big dinner and just be together as a family.  

I have wonderful Easter memories.  

Sometimes we need a holiday that is religious.  I know that social media and capitalism are pushing us to celebrate and spend on many lesser days through the year. National Donut Day, anyone?  Easter, to me, still feels spiritual. I take my spirituality quite seriously even if I’m not always the most reverent. I might be the most difficult person to sit next to at church. I’ve been to so many services in my lifetime – sometimes I just have to pull your hair or write on your bulletin or whisper a ridiculous story just to entertain myself. I might do a responsive reading in an accent or change the lyrics to your favorite song. Even my irreverence is dwarfed by the spirituality of Easter.  I understand celebrating the onset of Spring (moreso now that I live in the Midwest), but if you’re not celebrating resurrection -why call it Easter?  Chicks and Bunnies and Chocolate are cute… but, Alleluia! That’s trans-formative.

Why Easter? It is more than lilies, than music, than ritual and my nostalgia for childhood.  It’s the celebration of second, third, and fourth Chances. Whatever happened is done.  You are loved just as you are.  It is rebirth. It is renewal. It is redemption.  It is a reminder that today is but a bump on a road that winds forever. It is everything.

Pick Me! Pick Me!

The Huz had a very busy start to the year at work.  So, the Parakeet and Little O found themselves together most of the first half of this month.  They like each other – so it’s all right.

They planned a few activities,  Little O went back to school, and they also did plenty of fun things at home.

Hearing of his Dad’s overtime, O often wanted to play “work”.  He put on the Huz’ Union button from last year and set to making some scenery.  Happy to participate in theater of all kinds, the Parakeet was ready to help.  Because they had recently read Goldilocks and the Three Bears at school, Little O wanted to make that play.  (they also had a field trip to the Chicago Symphony where the story was told with music – super cool).  Little O was methodical about this work.

He wanted a table, chairs, and beds for the whole Bear Family.  They found 3 different size chairs.  They used 3 different pillows for beds, and then there was the issue of porridge.  Little O found some cardboard from their over-crowded back porch.  The Parakeet taped it together for him, but the issue of how to make the bowls was perplexing.  Little O thought and then said, “I have an idea!” He described to the parakeet how he wanted holes cut in the top of the table.  She did it.  Then, he drew three bowls of porridge with tabs at the bottom of each one on another piece of card board.  He asked her to cut those out and then he slid them into the holes on the table – not bad problem solving for a four-year old.

As he took a bath that night, the Parakeet told him, “Little O, I had so much fun playing with you today.”
“yeah, but you didn’t like when I got bossy with Parcheesi”
“No, I didn’t like that. But I loved making scenery with you. I thought it was super smart and creative how you decided to make those porridge bowls stick into the table”
“Why?”
“I wasn’t sure how we would make that and you figured it out.  I just think you’re a cool kid”
He smiled, “O”
“I’m really glad I got you for my son”
“but you picked me, Mom”
“I didn’t get to pick you, but I tell you what — God must think I’m pretty special that he decided to give me you.”
He smiled again, “And God must have thought GB was pretty special to give you to her”
The Parakeet smiled back at him.  Little O must think she is pretty cool, too.

With the Little O

The Parakeet loves to talk about all the different hats she wears.  The truth is, though, that most of her time is at home with the Little O.  Or Out with the Little O.  The other stuff is sometimes exciting and sometimes obligatory, but the bulk of her time is still with the O-ster.

As an active two-year old boy, this winter in the city is proving a challenge.  He sometimes literally walks in circles yellling.  She has been trying to get creative with him and they certainly had plenty of Christmas activities to help through December. Craft projects are engrossing for O and help pass a frigid morning.

Last week, the Parakeet decided they would celebrate Epiphany.  They made felt crowns and read the story from the bible of the wise men visiting Jesus.  O LOVED making the crowns.  They had never used glitter before.  The plan was to have one for mom, dad, and him to wear for dinner.   They never actually got them on their heads, but it was a fun project nonetheless.  Now, the Parakeet is just deciding whether to keep them for next year or toss them to have less stuff sitting around.

To follow-up with this activity, the family went to the earlier service at church last Sunday because the Wise-Men were going to process and bring their gifts.  O doesn’t usually sit in service – he usually goes straight to nursery. But, he was excited to see the “kings” and the “wise-men”.   He watched them with a lot of interest and as they processed out, he turned to his Mom and said, “Wise-men have to go to their cars now”.
So, he kind of gets it?

 

Fresh.

Long Time Readers, The Parakeet owes you an apology.  She hasn’t been filling you in on even the highlights of her hectic life in the city with a toddler and a husband.  Yes, husbands make things hectic. Do you have one?
It is part of her New Year’s Resolutions to get back on the blog.  Twice a week, you will hear from the little Bird.

Writing for this blog and choosing pictures and links is a nice little creative outlet, but more importantly – she has realized that it is her scrapbook and her memory lane.
Little O is getting so big these days.  He is going through so many changes, and because there is no large photo album in this house, she must take to the computer and catch it all before time, as they say, flies.

Looking forward to hearing more from all of you!

Halloween Weekend

The Parakeet wanted to choose for Little O a Halloween costume that reflected his true love: trucks.
Little O was an UPS driver. He loves the UPS man. Thanks to Arbonne – he sees him pretty often.  The driver has become a friend, too.  He always lets O hold the box and then he makes sure to honk the horn and wave as O watches him through the front window like a puppy.
One time little O was playing outside with the Parakeet when the truck arrived and the driver let O climb up inside.  Wow – that was exciting!

So…Little O was a “PS Man” for Halloween.  He had a “PS hat” and a “PS shirt” and he ‘drove his truck’ all over the house.  The costume will be the beginnings of the Russell dress-up box.  He just loved it too much.

The Saturday before Halloween they went to a birthday party for another adorable little dude.  It was a Halloween party – so Little O strutted his stuff.  They went straight from there to the Halloween party at church. Wow – lots of fun there, BUT the Huz and Keet finished the day in a sort of pizza/cupcake coma.  Too much Pizza. Too much cupcakes.


THEN, on Sunday they took Little O trick-or-treating.  They met their adorable little friend, Ilan, who was a dragon with his mama the Dragon Trainer and his dad – the Dad.  The boys sat in the wagon and went to about 5 houses before there were tears.  It’s a weird thing – telling the kids to go up to a strange door and ask for candy and walk away.  Eventually, Little O got it and then he was all “more candy”.  He never did say “trick or treat” at the right time – his shyness gets very selective, but he did tell one guy he needed to “go back to work”.  OOPS.
When they got home, the Parakeet thought it would be cute to take his picture next to the Jack-O-Lantern.  Little O who had eaten peanut butter and jelly, pizza and cupcakes for a day and a half thought otherwise.  Sugar overload and Toddler Meltdown.  It took him a while to fall asleep, but for the most part they all survived Halloween.


positive associations

Little O usually spends the church service in nursery.  Once he started walking, the Huz and Parakeet left him there.  He was too hard to wrangle during service and he’s never had huge stranger anxiety.  They often go the second service and that makes him one of the only children in there – he gets special attention and is happy.
Most weeks for probably the last four months he spends the entire hour at the train table. In fact, whenever they drive up to church he says, “there it is! Play Church! Choo Choo!”
Most times he gets into the car he say, “Play church?”, as if that would be the only acceptable and fun place to go.
The Parakeet has also joined the church playgroup so O gets to hang at his train table twice a week.  He LOVES it.  Whenever the Huz picks O up after church – they go straight to the treat table. Little O has very positive associations with church – choo choo trains and cookies.  So be it.
The early service, however, has a children’s message.  The Parakeet likes to keep O with them through the Children’s message if they ever attend this service.  O tries. He drives cars through the pews and is silent with awe during the singing.  After the message, mom or dad then takes him down to nursery and they finish service as adults without distraction.
This morning the Huz needed to sleep after working until 1AM.  He knew there was a sub-pastor – those two factors together made him decide to skip it.
The Parakeet decided to get to early service. O had been up for two hours anyway.  She also thought they would walk.
Well, it was very hot and humid, nearly raining by the time they got there.  She took O with her to the pew and tried to set him up with toys. He stood up on the pew to check things out.  After the Parakeet got him seated, she handed him a small cow from his fisher price farm. He chucked it nearly four rows up. Oh man…
Then, there was singing. He was fine. Then, they asked all the children to come forward.  The Parakeet started to walk him up. Quietly but consistently, Little O kept repeating, “no. no. no. no.”  She leaned down and whispered to him, “O. We are going to walk up front and sit and listen quietly to the Pastor and then we will go downstairs and play with the choo-choo”.
O sat front and center, straight-backed, patiently listening to the Pastor talk about Jesus and Creation.  Then, she finally said, “Now you can walk back with your parents”
Little O stood up and yelled, “READY. CHOO-CHOO!!”
Pretty much everyone present laughed.  The Parakeet walked him out, blushing.
Yes, O, it’s time for choo-choo.

A 2nd May Trip

When the Parakeet was 16, her aunt asked her to be the god-mother for her 4th baby and first little girl.  The Parakeet was flattered adn excited.  Her mom helped her understand what it meant and how she could be a good ‘sponsor’ from far away.  It was extra special because this Aunt is also the Parakeet’s Godmother….some things just pass down..
Baby Abigail got a little older and started going by Abi.
She was 6 years old when she was the flower girl in The Keet and Huz’ wedding.
She was 7 when she came to Chicago all by herself and got to see a Cubs game and get a jersey for her doll.
Since then, the Keet and Huz have been lucky enough to drive to Missouri quite a few times and spend time with Abs-cadabs.  When the Parakeet was ‘any day now style’ pregnant she ate deep dish pizza with Abs and her parents downtown Chicago-style.
Last month, Abi was confirmed.  Since this is like the duty of being a godparent, there was no way the Parakeet was going to miss it. 

She decided to drive by herself. No need to risk Little O’s good track record with two days of driving in a row.  She went down Saturday morning and enjoyed the solitude in the car.  She had only one hilarious stop where she bought gas station sunglasses.  They appeared to be that sort of tortoise shell pattern.  Well, as she tossed them into her purse a few hours later, she noticed they were actually covered in flaming skulls.  So the Parakeet is a biker. Or something.

She had a wonderful twenty-four hours with Abi and family.  The service was lovely and the personalized custom cookies were just delish!  Aunt D and Uncle P were hospitable as always.  There was a big comfy bed and more food and drink than one bird needed.  She just had to have cookie cake for breakfast….

Congratulations to Abi!  Everyone is so proud of you.