For me one of the best understandings of how I’m raising my daughter and caring for children in my community is to embrace parenting as a practice.
That means the work I do in raising children is embodied. relational and communal. It is holy and integrates many kinds of knowledge and skill and emotion and deliberation. Like all parents, I face endlessly changing varieties of challenge and joy in parenting. And although parenting my own child came later in my life, children have always played a significant role in my life and work.
This week we are talking once again with Kim Knowle-Zeller and Erin Strybis about their new book. The Beauty of Motherhood: Grace-Filled Devotions for the Early Years releases tomorrow, March 21. We are excited to celebrate with Erin and Kim and to give away one copy of their book! Want in on that drawing? Just join the 3MMM weekly mailing list.
Be sure to watch and share this week’s video conversation led by our own Erin Robinson Hall. You can catch up with last week’s Episode “Graceful Parenting” here. And you can also subscribe to the 3MMM podcast and you’ll get the bonus of hearing our full 30 minute conversation with Erin and Kim. The book winner will be announced at the end of March!
My own calling to ministry was born in my experience of caring for and teaching children. While I was a high school student, I traveled in the summers with my church youth group to teach kids about how much God loves them. I tutored children as a volunteer in my hometown on school nights. Many of the children I tutored lived in poverty and faced unfair marginalization because of their race and ethnicity.
I taught kids in Vacation Bible School (VBS), and one of my very first paying jobs was working in a Mother’s Day Out program at my church. For a couple of years during college, my soon-to-be-spouse Lynn and I spent every other Friday night teaching children in the Korean congregation that shared space in our church building. We did this so their parents could attend Bible study and worship. In every church where I’ve been a member or part of the paid staff, I’ve worked with children and teens. And I’ve published dozens of Sunday school lessons and study guides for youth.
I see the calling of ministry and the calling of caring for children as part of our families and communities (by birth or by choice) as inseparable. “Thus the practice of ministry can only be learned and lived while also attending to the families and communities that support and uphold us daily” (Pastoral Imagination, chapter 41).
Beauty and Community
I recount my thoughts and my history to say parenting, education, and spiritual and pastoral care for children has been interwoven into my life in every season. And just as Erin and Kim say, there is beauty in these experiences. Not because the work is all glamorous or easy, but because God’s presence and grace is woven through it, even when it is messy and fraught and full of pain and tears and uncertainty. God’s presence, love and grace have been keeping me engaged with children throughout my life.
Erin and Kim say in the introduction to their book:
We hope you’ll pick up this book when you need a moment of peace between feedings, use it for group Bible study, pass it on to another mama who needs it. We pray our words help you see the beauty of this sacred calling. Beautiful things don’t have to be perfect; indeed, what gives them their charm is often what’s messy and raw.
Watch this week’s 11-minute video to learn more from authors Erin Strybis and Kim Knowle-Zeller about how they lift up the values of beauty and community, grace and blessing, play and justice, in the shared work and practice of parenting.
Justice, Blessing, and a Mothering God
In our conversation with Erin and Kim, I found myself saying: “When we get started, we have no idea what we are doing!” Even if family or friends try to tell us, can really only learn what to do as parents by doing it. By jumping in! And we see immediately that we really need help. Having friends and family and a community of support makes parenting so much less lonely and more joyous.
Kim recounts driving around in the middle of the night trying to get her child to sleep and seeing the moon. It reminds her that she is not alone. Because the moon shines on every other parent and child awake in the night. And also those who are sleeping. We laugh about texting (true!) friends in the middle of the night to ease our burden.
Also in this week’s video we talk about all the issues big and small that keep us awake nights. We are awakened by our crying children. And also by the cries of children living in poverty and unfairly marginalized situations. Erin laments the reality of her kindergartener experiencing his first lockdown drill recently. And Kim tells us how she blesses her children when they go out into a wild and unpredictable world. Erin Hall wishes she could wrap her kids in bubble wrap to protect them.
Parenting takes a lot of strength. It demands so much physically. And Erin and Kim include embodied practices to acknowledge these realities and honor the strength of parents. Both the strength and the beauty of parenting gives us a metaphor of a Mothering God. Erin Strybis tells us how a Mothering God inspires her vocation as a parent.
You don’t want to miss this great conversation!
More Good Stuff this Week from 3MMM
Subscribe today to the 3MMM podcast (at podbean or anywhere you like to get your podcasts). You’ll be notified when the full 32-minute audio interview with Erin Strybis and Kim Knowle-Zeller drops later this week.
COMING SOON! The #PandemicPastoring Study Guide is available for pre-order. We are living in a new era of ministry. We need to talk about it and explore how to live into the new season with creativity, grace, and pastoral imagination. This three-session guide will help you lead these conversations with your Sunday School class, weekly prayer or study group, or leadership retreat. Learn more and pre-order today in our shop.