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Parenting

Love of Children and Fear of the World

Love of Children and Fear of the World

Stephen Marche’s The Unmade Bed is the book I cannot stop recommending. He talks about the state of modern marriage with unflinching clarity. And in a bold literary move, his wife provides footnotes. It is like being at a dinner party with the funny, poignant couple who occasionally correct one another’s stories.

From a theological perspective, the book serves as the perfect, secular counterbalance to Robert Farrar Capon’s Bed and Board. In Capon’s era, it was women who made the bed, but in Marche’s modern take we learn that bed-making is an activity we all long to avoid. Seriously,…

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Party of Five and the God of Party Poopers

Party of Five and the God of Party Poopers

When life gets tough, I like to watch other people’s lives get tougher. In Germany or Avenue Q, this is called shadenfreude; in America, this is called haphazardly engaging in political discourse on social media, or watching just about any popular TV drama. Forgoing the Covfefe hoo-ha, I recently committed instead to a teen soap opera — a precious genre rife with death and tragedy and youth pregnancy scares.

Several episodes deep into a show like Party of Five (1994-2000) and my day-to-day seems pretty alright. The walls begin to lean blessedly outward instead of in. I can breathe, and I…

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Working For Dad

Working For Dad

Just in time for Father’s Day, this one was written by Julian Brooks.

My first summer home from Bible College left me with four months to get to work and save some money for the year’s upcoming tuition. Thankfully I had a job lined up and a place to stay that would allow me to save some money. Even so, I was still going to come up short on what was needed to cover the cost for another year of school.

My dad told me before the summer began that whether I worked or took time off to spend with family and…

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The God of Seven Buses

The God of Seven Buses

I recently started reading Gregory Boyle’s excellent Tattoos on the Heart, a memoir of his powerful ministry in Pico-Aliso, a low-income area in L.A. dominated by gangs. So far, it’s full of incredible stories about the action of grace upon those who had spent years cultivating facades of toughness and independence, almost as a matter of survival. Boyle, a Jesuit, and the grace-brimming adults (predominantly women) of his community find, through the love they show, an inside look at the hearts of the ‘homies’ they befriend. My favorite vignette from the first chapter is below:

At Camp Paige, a county detention facility near Glendora, I was getting…

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Cringe-Watching Catastrophe

Cringe-Watching Catastrophe

For the last few weeks at bedtime, my youngest son has requested that I read him a story out of a book called “Farmyard Tales.” These are innocuous little stories of Apple Tree Farm, and the family who lives there. They are sweet and lovely, and also criminally boring. They are perfect bedtime stories for a tired little kid, though, and I send him off to dreamland with pleasant little stories about goats and pigs and their little farmyard antics galloping through his head.

By contrast, my husband and I then go downstairs to our living room to fold piles of…

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Free as a Mother: Telling the Devil to Sit on a Tack

Free as a Mother: Telling the Devil to Sit on a Tack

Last week, as my kindergartner and I approached the pool for his first swimming lesson of the season, I noticed all of the children sitting there in goggles. I panicked. Goggles! Of course! Forget that I learned how to swim without goggles. Forget that we go through 14 pairs of goggles a summer because we lose them like we are getting paid to. Forget that children the world over have swum without protective eye covering for millennia. My baby needed goggles and I forgot them.

One more check in the Sarah is a Crappy Mom column.

I always…

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Mama Holy's Handbag

Mama Holy’s Handbag

The New York Times recently published an article about the physiological and psychological changes that happen to women when they become mothers. This reminded me of a conversation I had with my son when he was in preschool about irreversible change, when he was learning about tadpoles and caterpillars. “When you became a mommy,” he said, “that was a metamorphosis.” He was trying out a new vocabulary word on me, and also stating the truth.

This Sunday will mark my tenth Mother’s Day as a mother. I sometimes feel like I know less now than I did in 2008, but I’ve at…

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"Children Today Are Tyrants" (Or, God's Grace to Me)

“Children Today Are Tyrants” (Or, God’s Grace to Me)

This post comes to us from Eric Youngblood. 

Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

Do you live with anyone like that? Are the neighbor kids worthy of some iteration of Socrates’ description above? The ones in your den who bear so much resemblance to a younger you?

How about the crumb-snatchers you had in nursery the last time you were forced into that purgatorial role? Maybe a continuously sassy teenager in her pre-human hominid state?

Many of us (whether we have children or not!) have been tasked with the care of “tyrants” — but, of course,…

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Announcing The Very Persistent Pirate, Mockingbird’s First Children’s Book!

We are very excited to announce Mockingbird’s first children’s book, The Very Persistent Pirate, a swashbuckling tale of good news for sinners and saints ages 3-8.

When most children are drifting to sleep,
one kid and his monkey are drifting at sea.

One day, they spy a treasure
that is not theirs…

Over the course of 34 beautifully illustrated pages, The Very Persistent Pirate winds its way across a rollicking sea and onto a mysterious island in hot pursuit of stolen booty. Playing with all of our favorite themes — law, gospel [marauding] and, of course, the stubbornness of grace — The Very Persistent Pirate will capture the imaginations of children and adults alike.

Click here to pre-order your copy of The Very Persistent Pirate! Shipping soon.

April Fools! College Admission and Parental Validation

April Fools! College Admission and Parental Validation

As faithless as it is calculating, college admission becomes a decade of denial for most.

The first of April becomes the focus of lifetimes. Many parents and their issue have connived, planned, even negotiated for this date: college admission — April First. This April Fool’s Day, millions of households will have their 17-year-old collegiate lay locked and loaded, kinder-glued to their laptops. No, it’s not porn, binge-watching, or even OD-ing on FB. It’s all about admission to college. That’s Decision Day.

It used to be so simple: you got a fat envelope and were IN, thin envelope OUT, middle envelope MAYBE. We…

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How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

I’m standing in IKEA, and I am shattered.

It’s not often one has an existential crisis in the checkout lane of a Swedish furniture store in the suburbs of Sydney–I think–but it happened to me, and very recently. In the twenty minutes (that felt like an eternity) that I spent behind the cart holding my two young children and a mountain of decorative crap, I came to question every #blessed gift and decision that got me to this exact point in the universe: to this store, to this country, to these children, to this marriage, to this God.

How’s that for a…

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Mama Holy Spotted At SeaWorld

Mama Holy Spotted At SeaWorld

This week, along with millions of other blue blooded, medium-hard-working Americans, my family went on Spring Break. And it was all pretty hard. This is a travel log of sorts. Loads of complaining. Some bright spots. And some dark spots when Jesus showed up.

Our kids are 2 and 6 years old. So we began every morning by ripping them away from the clutches of Disney Jr. so we could all head for the great tourist sites of San Antonio, Texas. 

We stood in line for tickets for the Tower of the Americas. Twice. The first time they…

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