Sunday, April 5

Palm Sunday 2020: Ways to Worship From Home

Happy Sunday, everyone.

It's Palm Sunday, Holy Sunday, one week before Easter Sunday, which seems like an ironic and beautiful thing in the midst of a worldwide crises. Churches across the country are streaming services live today, some are even handing out palm leaves via drive-thru pick-up. Hopefully you were able to find a Palm Sunday service that was streaming live this morning. If you struggled to find one, here are the links to three local churches that I love and respect (and have been a part of in one capacity or another during my adult life). If you missed the Live Stream the recordings will be available online all week):

1.) theWELL, Buffalo, where we currently attend streams their service live at 10 am currently during the Coronavirus church shut downs. Here is the link to the live stream: theWELL Buffalo Live Stream

2.) Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church (in Clarence)- where Scott and I were married, Ava and Aubrey attended pre-school, and I spent many years in the youth group, will also be streaming live at 10: Eastern Hills Live Stream.  

3.) The Chapel at Crosspoint, where we spent a number of years when we first moved back to Buffalo in 2009, and where we have many friends: The Chapel Live Stream (at 9 & 11 am). 

(Note: there are many other wonderful churches in Buffalo also doing live streams right now. These are just the three that I am most familiar with and wanted to share in case you weren't sure where to start). 

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I wanted to offer a few resources to help parents celebrate this holy week of Easter with joy, despite how strange it seems to not be gathering in person in churches across the country, or with friends and family during this holiday time. 

I'm doing this easy palm leaf collage with the girls this morning. You can print out the template from DLTK (which is a great resource for faith and school aged kids crafts):

I printed the palm leaf on heavier paper stock for the girls (regular printer paper works just fine). We are planning on using green water color on the palm leaf first, and then will add scraps of different colored green paper to cover the rest. 

I've printed a couple of extra copies that we will deliver to neighbors (and maybe Grandma and Grandma, who live a couple of miles away) later. 

I promise to take pictures after we're finished and post them here later. 

I also printed out a couple of these coloring pages for the girls (found at to either keep them busy during the online church service, or just as something to do later: 

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE We'll be writing out the daily verse and posting on our fridge each day (see below- it doesn't have to be Pinterest fancy friends! Mine never are!). You could also do this on a chalk board, or just post on a piece of paper on your fridge. 

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him shouting, 
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the king of Israel." 

John 12: 12-13

The last thing I wanted to share with you today is a podcast episode from Proverbs 31 Ministries (one of my favorite women's ministry websites) titled, "How Do We Pray in the Midst Of Fear". If you're struggling to know how to even pray right now, take a few minutes to listen to this today:

I'll be back tomorrow to tell you about the Resurrection Eggs we'll be making and using later this week, as well as the neighborhood Easter card project the girls and I are working on. 

Saturday, April 4

Celebrating Easter 2020 with Kids

This past week the girls and I started talking about how Easter is next weekend and everything feels so, well, different
So much has changed in such a short period of time. 
So much. 
The conversation revolved around how we'll be cooking a ham and potatoes at home...alone. No grandmas and grandpas. No aunts or cousins. No dressing up for church and hugging our church family in-person. No worshipping in a sanctuary, in community, in person. It does feel a little strange, and a little sad. I understand their disappointment. I'm disappointed too. 
On top of it, our plans to travel to Florida next Monday (the day after Easter) have also been cancelled, which I'm not lamenting in the grand scope of things, but the kids had been looking forward to it for months. Ava has been picking out "Florida" outfits online and talking about sitting in the sunshine since December (listen, when you live in Buffalo you dream about sunshine in Florida!). 
I've told them that a bazillion other things have been cancelled for so many people all around the country-- vacations, weddings, school plays, proms, end of school year celebrations, concerts-- the list goes on and on. It did little to quell their disappointment. I mean, they are kids after all. 
After our conversation I spent some time pondering how we would celebrate Easter despite all of the changes and feel excited about it. What could we do? Where could I be more intentional? How can we make the house feel festive and decorative? 
I also kept asking myself this question, What truth can I share with the kids this week to help them feel ok about this different-kind-of-Easter?  
God spoke to me pretty quickly as I prayed about it. As a matter of fact, it was almost an instantaneous answer. I asked the question and this is what I heard in my spirit, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8).
Whoa. Right. The most important thing about Easter hasn't changed at all. 
That's what the kids need to know. That's what we all need to know.  
The raw truth is, Christ came to this earth, conquered death, and rose again to save us from our sins and offer eternal life. Nothing changes that. Not even Coronavirus. 
He promises he will come back one day and that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. He promises new life and that all of this brokenness will be renewed, restored and redeemed. 
So, we will ABSOLUTELY be celebrating Easter this week, and we're going to enjoy every minute of it, as different as it might feel. 
I spent some time organizing a few Bible verses (one for each day of the week) and sorting through several activities online that I plan to do with the kids-- a few things that will hopefully make the week feel more "fun" and celebratory, and not just another week at home in the middle of our socially distant lives. 
If you'd like to join us, we'd love to have you along. I'll be posting something here each day (Sunday-Sunday)-- a scripture, some pictures (of what we're doing), and a few activities that I found online, mostly with materials I either knew we already had at home, or that would be easy to find. 

If you hop over to my Little Writer Momma Facebook page each morning you’ll find a link to the daily blog posts, and tomorrow I'll also be posting a PDF with the Sunday-Sunday scripture verses we'll be focusing on this week. If you click the "like" button at the top of the FB page the posts and links will find their way into your Facebook feed as well. 
I'd also love to hear what you are all doing to celebrate this year.  Please share your pictures, links and ideas. We are still a community, it's just a different sort of community right now and so we must lean on one another, spur one another along and continue to encourage each other to hold fast to unchanging truth in a world that is always changing. 

Monday, March 30

10 "It's OK" Statements to Get You Through Your Day

Greetings from rainy, dreary, Buffalo NY on this Monday that feels like a…well, I’m not sure what day it feels like anymore. It kind of feels like a getting-back-into the swing-of-things Monday after a long vacation, except that everyday right now feels like Monday after a long vacation.  And I’m not sure there is a really a swing of things to get back into for the moment, at least not one that is consistent.  

How are you all doing? Are you hanging in there? Are you maintaining your sanity?

 My sanity feels like it varies moment-by-moment, day-by-day, right now. One minute I’m relishing the fact that I’m baking cookies or taking a long walk with my kiddos at 3:30 in the afternoon, and the next minute I feel like some sort of crazed lunatic who needs to brush her hair and teeth and who is frantically looking for a quiet closet to hide in so that I don’t have to answer to one more “MOOOOMMMMM!!!” 

Anyone else?

At the beginning of March, when I sat down to plan for the year, I had an agenda for the words I was going to write in this space: My March posts were going to revolve around the words “rest” and “quiet”, in April I was going to focus on the word “renew”, which has been my personal word for the year…ironically, I’m not sure what that means right now, though I do have a deep peace that God will continue to speak to me about it.

But since the whole wide world feels inside out and upside down right now, my thoughts on “renewing”, while probably relevant on some level, don’t seem the most useful words to offer right now.

So, in lieu of thoughtful words or suggestions on finding rest (there is some for the finding, but if you have kids at home with you during this time of quarantine, it’s complicated at best), I’ve written 10 “It’s OK If…” statements to help you get through your day. You can think of this as a #metoo list for us moms trying to navigate being housebound with our kids all day everyday! 

If you have one you’d like to add, I’d love to hear them…leave them in the comments here or on my Little Writer Momma FB page under the post link! 

Without further adieu here are 10 "It's OK" Statements to Get You Through Your Day: 
1.     If you feel like one day makes total sense with your kids, and your schedule, and your meals, and the happiness of the whole household feels like something out of the movies, and the next day feels like a total belly flop and no one in your house seems to like each other…It’s OK!

2.      If you haven’t found a new rhythm yet…at least not a consistent one. One day you feel strong and competent and in a groove and four hours later you feel like you’re trying to run a three legged race with your Great Uncle Louie who absolutely despises running…It’s OK! 

3.     If part of you feels like all of this extra time with your kids is a sweet gift one minute, and 12 minutes later you’re ready to pull every hair out of your head because the dishwasher needs to be loaded again, and the hoverboard hum is driving you a little nuts, and your 7-year-old tried to pour herself a cup of lemon-aide and now it’s all over the kitchen table, which was where your 12-year-old was doing her homework and so now there's that to deal with…It’s OK! 

4.     If you feel like it takes every ounce of your adulting energy just to sign into Google classroom for 3 different children, and make sure they’re doing the right things at the right time in the right way with the right passwords. If this sudden home school gig, while cool in some ways, feels super confusing in others...It’s OK!  
     (And hey, no homeschool jokes here from the good-at-it homeschoolers! Traditional home schooling is a very different thing than being suddenly plopped into the middle of your child’s academic year and now trying to navigate their work, but not with your own agenda and lesson plans—you’ve become the facilitator of their teacher’s agenda’s, which are mostly good, but  kind of tricky sometimes, especially with multiple children!)

5.     If you start some days feeling like Mary Poppins and end it feeling as cranky as the Incredible Hulk…It’s OK! 

6.     If you’re going days on end without putting on make-up, or “real” clothes, and you're not sure if that's normal or if you've completely lost yourself forever…It’s OK. 

7.     If your 7-year-old is still wearing her turquoise flamingo night-gown at 4:30 in the afternoon, and you kind of feel like you should tell her that it’s important to put on actual clothing everyday, but then you think, “Hey, she’s a kid, she’s not going to wear her nightgown until 4:30 in the afternoon for the rest of her life.” At least you hope not. And if she does, you think, you’ll love her anyway. It’s OK! 

8.     If you’re feeling a little or a LOT stir-crazy. Like you LOVE your kids, but right about now you’d really LOVE to meet a friend out for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee to talk about the craziness of all of this. It’s OK! 

9.     If some people’s Facebook posts are starting to get on your every last nerve…the souffl├ęs they’ve made, the languages they’ve learned, the dozen books they’ve read, the art masterpieces they’ve painted, the exceptionally creative ways they’ve connected with their children through gorgeously curated craft projects while you’re throwing your kids old play dough you just found in the basement and telling them to use their imaginations to make something out of it. It’s OK! 

10. If you vacillate between wondering if life will ever be the same again, and part of you thinks that might be a good thing, but part of you is mourning all the things you loved about your previous life…It’s OK! 

Oh wait…I have one more…

11. If you get that long awaited board game out for the long awaited family game night and next thing you know child #1 is pouting because they don’t want to play, and child #2 is throwing plastic game pieces across the table and her perpetually moving body just knocked the whole thing out of place, and child #3 can’t stand the chaos of it all and yells at child #2, which makes mom raise her voice and yell at all said children, and then dad throws his baseball cap on the table with a sigh, and your oldest wisely assesses the situation by saying, “Well, so much for family game night!” 

           It’s OK!!! 
(Of course those kinds of things NEVER happen in the Littlewood household. Ever! Wink. Wink.)

Alright friends, I’d love to hear your “It’s ok" statements!
Love you all.
If I figure out how to find consistent and intentional rest and renewal in the middle of all of this, I’ll be sure to let you know.
In the meantime, I will say my prayer and journaling time in the morning, before the kids are all up, has become more important than ever.
So, if I could suggest one thing, it would be to take a few minutes for yourself in the morning. Read your Bible. Work through a Bible study a little bit at a time. Read a few pages in a devotional or a book that encourages your faith, and then journal and pray about it.  I promise it will help to center you. 
Note: I didn’t promise it will make your day easy peasy, but it will help to get you off on a good start, which is always a good thing (; 

Monday, March 23

A Prayer For Weary Souls from Edie Melson

Hi Friends! I hope you are all well. That you're finding a new rhythm with your family in these strange times, as awkward and unfamiliar as it all may feel. 

We're falling into a new homeschooling rhythm, a new dinner rhythm, a new bedtime rhythm. We're watching church online, and went rollerblading yesterday, which we probably wouldn't have done without the 'stay in place' mandates. Yes, its all a little strange, but its been good so far. 

That said these are strange times and depending on your individual circumstances, there certainly are a lot of challenges, concerns and cause for anxiety--many things that I am praying for others for. 

 I have friends and neighbors who own small businesses and are out of work right now-- they've had to start utilizing their savings overnight. I know women who have asthma and other health issues, and are concerned about their health right now for very real reasons. I have friends whose children have learning challenges and disabilities who were getting a lot of support from their schools, and now they're at home working through the challenges in ways that make them feel very alone. I have friends and family members who struggle from depression and anxiety and all of is exacerbating their very real struggles in very real ways. 

I see you. I hear you. I'm praying for you. If I can pray for you in any specific ways, please send me a message, an email, or a text...I'm serious...and I will write your name down on the list inside my Bible and pray for you this week. 

In lieu of all of the unexpected circumstances I wanted to share a word of encouragement and a prayer from my friend Edie Melson  with you today. 
In 2018 Edie Melson published a book titled Soul Care When You’re Weary. This book includes more than two dozen devotions and prayers (followed by a creative connection suggestion) for women who are feeling weary, tired, and overwhelmed.
Edie conceived this book when her father was at the end of his battle with Alzheimer’s. As she spent time supporting her mother, who was the primary caregiver, she spent hours in hospitals, waiting rooms, assisted living spaces and finally hospice. All of that while juggling full-time commitments. She needed the relief that only a deeper connection with God could provide, but found herself with no time for bible study or retreat. So she learned how to carve out moments of connection through creativity. 
Recently when I asked her how she makes time for rest and solitude now, but also how she did it when she was a busy mom to three very active boys she said this, “I learned to retreat in the in-between-moments. I rediscovered the value in five minutes of solitude or a simple walk around the back yard. Before, I’d disdained those short moments as wasted time. Instead, I learned they were as valuable as hidden treasure tucked into the crevice of a rock wall.”
Edie sent me a copy of Soul Care When You’re Weary last summer during a weary season of my own life. I was in the middle of supporting my mother who was struggling with her physical and mental health, and being in my early 40’s was going through some physical and hormonal changes of my own that were instigating mood swings and anxiety. This was all in the middle of the normal day-to-day routines of trying to maintain a house and love my family well, which we all know is just plain overwhelming sometimes. 
Because the book was so encouraging to me, I’m going to send a copy to one of you this week (see directions at the bottom of this post).
With her publisher’s permission I’m sharing with you one of the many very real and authentic prayers that Edie wrote in the book—a prayer that I’ve been praying this month as I continue to ask God for helping to bring order to my sometimes crazy days:

*A Prayer: Asking God to Show Me What it Means to Dwell (By Edie Melson): 
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety”
 (Psalm 18:2 NLT).

 Dear Lord, 
            I feel like I’m living twenty-four-hour-days in the middle of Grand Central Station. There’s no longer any rhythm to my life. It’s nothing but an all out effort, and the constant drain is taking its toll on my life and the lives of those near me. 
            All I want to do is find some pace to hide. I crave the peacefulness of solitude. But more than quiet in my environment, I want to find a way to quiet my mind. 
            Will you show me what it means to dwell with You, and let You dwell with me? Surely the peace found in Your presence can be mine. I know it’s available. I’ve read about it in Your Holy Word. 
            It’s so easy for me to move from Your side and once again end up in the midst of chaos and strife. Show me how to navigate my daily life while sticking close to your side. Bring people into my life who have learned this lesson and let me learn from them. 
            I want to be swept beneath Your wings and curl up close. When I’m with you, my perspective changes. The concerns that drive me from rest melt away. Dwelling with You keeps worry far away. Keep me close by Your side and never let me leave. Amen. 

I pray that you would all find rest for your souls in the week ahead. I pray that in the midst of these crazy, unknown days with news of COVID-19 permeating everything we read, watch and listen to, that you would be able to find your own spaces to pray, to surrender your worries to God, and to allow Him to replace worry with peace.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of Soul Care When You're Weary you can find it here (or wherever you like to buy books online). 

I’m giving away a copy Edie’s book, Soul Care When You’re Weary. To be entered to win either leave a comment below right here on the blog, or go to my Little Writer Momma Facebook Page and leave a comment below the link to the post (by 9 pm EST this Friday)! I will draw a name on Saturday morning and announce it on the Facebook page. 

(Edie Melson is an author, blogger, and speaker who has encouraged and challenged audiences around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply those gifts to life. She is also the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference—one of the largest (and most fabulous!) Christian writing conferences in the country. She runs a private Facebook Group called Soulful Ink, where she facilitates a group committed to reconnecting with God through creative pursuits. You can also catch up with her on her website, and through social media.)
*excerpt used with permission from Bold Vision Books, copyright 2018