About Crystal Parker

blogger. speaker. teacher.

I’ve missed you…

For two years I’ve been blogging exclusively over on the new site, and not posting over here. In retrospect, we should have shared with you about the new site more on HebrewDawn. This site began as my own little space of the Internet, but it became a shared space for Erica and I. The two of us realized over time, as we’ve shared, that a rebrand was in order. But if I’m going to be completely honest, I’ve missed you, since the new site was launched.

In having a new site with a refined focus on wellness and self’s care, this has shifted me away from writing as much about faith and motherhood. Those are not topics most of our followers are interested in reading. Some of you that have followed for quite sometime will want what we offer on The91Rewind more than what I alone offer on HebrewDawn. Some of you may want my posts focused on encouragement, faith, motherhood, and the like here. The focus of HebrewDawn was and remains is:

words to encourage and inspire.

You are a diverse bunch that follow HebrewDawn, and for that I am grateful.

I’m not sure how often I’ll write over here. The content will still be much of what it was long before. More than likely, you will find:

  • what’s going through my head
  • what I am wrestling with in this current state of affairs (*ahem* #45)
  • what’s happening personally
  • what I’m studying about Christianity, world religions, or language (yes, I’m kinda nerdy)
  • follow along as I finish the ordination process ( yes, the same one I discussed withdrawing from before).
  • reflections on motherhood that I’m not sharing on Richmond Moms Blog (yes, I’ve started writing over there too).
  • Thank you for sticking around, waiting for me, and asking where I’ve been. I’ve missed you, and I’m happy to be back.
  • – CVP

    new year newness

    If you’re a longtime reader of HebrewDawn you know that things have evolved over the years. Initially this was a personal blog for Crystal sharing funny things that happened (*ahem* is this Keisha?), foot surgeries, and the birth of kids. Then this site evolved into what it is today. A place for people to come and find words to encourage on the journey to being our most authentic selves. During this site evolution, Erica came on board, and the dynamic duo of two best friends brought HebrewDawn to new heights.

    As time has gone on, HebrewDawn has grown, and new prospects are on the horizon we, Crystal and Erica, we realized that we needed a new site needed and a new name. This site hasn’t been just Crystal’s for quite some time, but HebrewDawn is not reflective of both of us. We thought of waiting to share this news with you once all the details are ready (logo, site rebranding, etc.), but we wanted our faithful readers to know sooner than later. You’ll notice that some fonts have changed on our site already, today our Instagram handle is changing, a new logo is coming, and so much more.

    We are excited to share with you about our process as we go, but we want to assure that the only real change you’ll notice is our name. The content type will remain the same, but we dare say the quality will continue to get better. We are super excited for 2018, continued growth with you, and seeing what’s in store for….

    HebrewDawn: new year newness

    learning to be southern 

    I’ve lived my entire life in Richmond, Virginia and it’s only now, in my mid-thirties, I’ve fully accepted my southern roots. In all fairness, it’s been a lifelong process of learning to be southern.

    You see, I come from a mixed background and that has caused some internal doubt of my southernness. I’m Japanese, Cherokee, Irish, and Norwegian…basically a one-woman mixing pot. My mom was an Army brat and lived all over the place, but has lived in Virginia longer than anywhere else. My dad is from Danville, Virginia which makes him the most southern of us all. Neither parent really taught me the hallmarks of southern charm or little figures of speech, it’s mostly been picked up over the years.

    Through the help of patient friends and family, I’ve come to understand the importance of a pineapple in my home, when and why to bless someone’s heart, how I like my iced tea, and most importantly why y’all is the perfect southern word.

    Y’all has long been a word to be avoided in my vocabulary, but finally in my mid-twenties I began to embrace it. But that was only because of my studies during seminary, particularly with Hebrew and Greek. I came to the realization of how perfect y’all is when communicating. If you have taken a foreign language you’ve experienced the distinction between you singular and you plural and its affects on conjugation and syntax. How else can you articulate the plural form of “you” without it being cumbersome?

    Now in my thirties it’s in full-on use. Hate on the word if you want, but I think it’s perfect. If you walk into a room full of your girlfriends, wouldn’t “hey y’all” be better than “hey guys” since there are no guys in the room. If you walk into a room full of guys and girls, wouldn’t “hey y’all” be better than “hey guys” since guys are not more important that the ladies in the room too. AND wouldn’t it be better to be more inclusive in our language period?

    So if you come in my home, you’ll most certainly be welcomed by the site of a pineapple or two; we hope you’ll stay awhile and enjoy a meal. I also hope I’ll have no cause to bless your heart. AND if we do have the good fortune to meet sometime, please don’t be surprised by the “hey y’all” coming from the chick without a southern drawl…it’s because she knows the perfect way to communicate with all y’all.

    xoxo,

    C

    HebrewDawn: learning to be southern

    cleaning up our act

    Over the weekend I had family over for dinner and some brussel sprouts roasting in the oven. Seems like no big deal, but I burnt them. I was seriously looking forward to eating them, and so was everyone else. Like any kitchen mishap, I had some cleanup to do; the half sheet pan they were roasting on needed a good scrubbing. In using the old elbow grease, I had a revelation about our own need for taking care of ourselves and how it’s never too late to start cleaning up our act.

    HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

    I neglected to get a before shot of my half sheet pan, but let’s just say it had a good layer of burnt brussel sprouts on it, along with seasoning from previous forays in the kitchen.  I had a moment of negative self-talk about how I’d let things get out of control; for how filthy my pan was and my neglect for scrubbing it all off earlier. But let’s be real, all the bacon, roasts (chicken, beef, ham), and delectable vegetables left their marks on the pan that a regular sponge or dishwasher couldn’t get off. It took me getting out the Brillo pad, scrubbing, and SCRUBBING to get that pan back to its shiny self.

    As I scrubbed and scrubbed, it got me thinking about the ways in which we take care of ourselves. How at times, a messy pan can be intimidating. How when our work is so clearly cut out for us, it makes us feel nervous. The pressure of can we/can’t we sets in and it’s downright scary. Let’s face it, we all kinda want to eat a little cleaner, to live a little more active lifestyle, to donate a little more to organizations we believe in…but finding the time, the energy, the money can make us feel anxious.

    When the scaries set in, the best defense is a small step forward. There are many little things we can do each day to take better care of ourselves. Instead of trying to wrangle them all at once, choose just one or two and see if you can stick to it. Park a little farther away from the office if you can. Challenge yourself to bring nutritious lunch to work for three days in a row. Set a “mental break” timer at work to give yourself a chance to refresh after a session of intense focus. When we break down our goals into smaller “bites” it can seem much more manageable. Plus we generate momentum by achieving these little milestones along the way.

    HebrewDawn: cleaning up our act

    Sometimes we don’t take the first step to take care of ourselves because we’re afraid of how hard it’s going to be. Sometimes we feel like that burnt brussel baking sheet; like we will never get back to our old self. But if we don’t try how will we ever make any progress? The first day is always going to be hard, but a month from now it will be easier and we will be stronger. Every day you show up, every day you try to reach your goals, you’re proving to yourself it can be done. This positive experience will snowball and it WILL become easier. Although you will have to experience it for yourself.

    I want to end today by saying that we all have work to do in this self-improvement department. Deep down we all have things we want to do better, but it all starts with the first step. After all, little changes over time really make a difference.

    Let’s do this!

    xoxo,

    C

    coming out of the fog

    HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

    My daughter is just about to turn nine months old, which means she will be out as long as she was in. As we hit this milestone I finally feel like I’m coming out of the proverbial new mom fog. If you’re in the midst of the fog you might know what I’m talking about. If your past it, I’m almost certain you know what I’m talking about. Whether we’re in it or past it, we all eventually come out of the fog.

    As a mom, it is always an adjustment to embrace your new found identity. You had this baby that spent nine months growing inside of you, but now it is learning to live outside of you. You spent months adjusting your growing belly and now you must recalibrate and learn to provide for this little person all the time. 

    Not only are you learning caregiving skills, but you also have this new identity called motherhood to embrace. You’ve gone from being your own person, and now your some little person’s whole world. If you already have older children, you’re learning how to share yourself with all the little people vying for your attention. No matter how many children you have, it’s always an adjustment to accept the new you.

    When you have a baby, they’re always worried about you having postpartum depression. No one talks about this fog you’re living in. With so many things changing in your body, your life, identity, etc. you spend your days with your mind spinning. I am here to share something with you that I’ve heard from almost every mom; adjusting to this new identity as a mother is a challenge for everyone. I’ve also heard from almost every mom that we do make it out of the fog and see our world clearly once more. The way we see our life and world may be different than before, but it is now filled with lots of love and joy. 

    yours in motherhood,

    C

    HebrewDawn: coming out of the fog

    slow down…

    HebrewDawn: slow down
    Lately, I’ve stopped taking the highway on some of the routes near my house because I’ve come to a realization. The view is much nicer when taking the roads less traveled. This new desire to slow down didn’t happen overnight.

    At least once a week for the last month I’ve noticed something new, discovered an interesting event when traveling near my house. Over the weekend a question suddenly hit me when debating taking I295 (an interstate going through part of central Virginia) or driving down Mountain Road (a road in Glen Allen where I live)…

    Why are you in such a hurry? Why don’t you slow down?

    Besides, taking the interstate rather than other routes isn’t always faster. Sometimes traffic is backed up and could have been avoided by staying off the highway. But most of all, if I did not to drive down the local roads I would zoom past what’s happening in my community.

    If I’m always in such a hurry, I forgo the opportunity to see the improvements that make where I live better. I miss out on the events that matter to the community in which live, and the chance to be a part of them.

    So now I ask you, why don’t you slow down? Why are you in such a hurry? What are you rushing past and missing in the world around you?

    Our desire to hurry isn’t always in the car. It’s in our desire to be “connected” to our digital world. Our need to monitor the updates, our mindless scrolling. Sometimes we forget that when we are “online” we are out of touch with what’s happening now. our faces are looking down, we fail to see what’s happening around us.

    Why are you in such a hurry? Why don’t you slow down?

    Let’s take a deep breath, and enjoy where we are and instead of always focusing on where we’re going. Let’s relinquish the need to be in control of everything. Let’s commit to allowing space to savor the good around us. Let’s stop rushing through life and start slowing down.

    xoxo,

    C

    HebrewDawn: slow down

    to the perfect parents

    HebrewDawn: to the perfect parents

    Dear Perfect Parent,

    I have a few things I’d like to share with you today. I want to commend your efforts at being the perfect parent, because it’s not somethings we all aspire to be in life. You believe in the depths of your being that you are doing everything exactly right, and that you have a thing or two you can teach the rest of us.

    You are decidedly the best example about breastfeeding or formula feeding, when to start your child on solid food, when to send your child to preschool and kinergarten. Oh! Let’s not forget about extra activities like soccer, dance, music lessons, and swimming. You most assuredly make time for your child to do it all. God forbid a parent choose themselves over their child wants.

    Do you sense my sarcasm yet? I hope so, and I hope you’ll join me in doing the following…

    No more shaming.

    No more blaming.

    No more judging.

    START supporting others.

    Let’s get our views of perfection straight and get them in check. They are ruining amazing mom/dad friend opportunities. Let’s not assume that someone is shaming, blaming, or judging us. Instead, let us assume that the perfect parents are all of us and that we all want to support one another.

    Let’s do this parenting thing y’all!

    C

    done is enough

    How often do you fret over going the extra mile on the project that’s been assigned to you at work? How many times have you worried about finding the perfect vendor to complete an update or correction to something in your home? How often have you said no to a volunteer opportunity because you didn’t think you were knowledgeable enough? Have you ever considered that done is enough?

    Over the years I’ve learned to let go on having that work email typed out and articulated “just” right. Once I learned to let go, I’ve been the editor for coworkers stressing about sending out the “perfect” email. More times than not, the final product is not all that different from the orignal version that was being fretted over for not being quite right.

    Over the years my husband and I have spent hours looking into every possible lawn care company that could solve all of our problems. We’ve reached out to neighbors to find out what works for them and their yard. We’ve then worried if it’s worth the month, if there are too many chemicals, and what if we made the wrong decision. We spent so much time researching and worrying that it delayed having a beautiful yard we can enjoy.

    Over the years I’ve recruited countless volunteers who doubted their ability to serve. They though that they couldn’t be a Girl Scout leader because they were never a Girl Scout, but they turned out to be the most dedicated to learning EVERYTHING about the program, it’s history, and how to lead their girls. These leaders were more than capable and simply needed to say yes and get through their orientation. 

    I’m not convinced that the driving factor in all of this is perfectionism. I am inclined to believe that it’s our own fear of judgement from others that we aren’t completing the job to perfection, choosing the best vendor for the job, or being the best person for a volunteer position. If we can let go of this fear of criticism or ridicule, we might we see that we did the best we could, we did find the right person for the job, and that we are a good fit for the opportunity.

    Perhaps, if we can accept that done is enough, we will learn…

    • that anything we complete is done exceptionally well
    • we cannot spend all of our time researching, because we are missing out on other things in our life 
    • that we are capable and called to serve for ne volunteer opportunities

    Don’t be afraid to say yes and know that done is enough.
    HebrewDawn: done is enough

    mommy brain is real

    Whether you have kids or not, I’m certain you have heard about Mommy Brain. My dearest Erica (aka happedancing) always wondered if it was real, and then a few of her close friends had children. One of the first things she said to me was, “DUDE, mommy brain is real!” Of course I responded, “oh yes, mommy brain is definitely real! Thanks to it, I feel half-stupid all the time.”

    Since having kids I have moments of feeling functionally crazy or off my rocker. Frequently my husband questions the half done projects, things left on the tables/counter, and tasks left undone around the house. I attribute all of this to mommy brain. But none of these compare to the Chicken Incident.

    I was just a couple months postpartum from having our second when I invited my friend Steph and her daughter over for dinner. I warned her it wouldn’t be anything super fancy as we were running errands that day. We both agreed that time spent together was of greater importance than a fancy meal together.

    The incident…

    That afternoon I took a trip to Costco with the girls, to keep the oldest entertained (she LOVES their samples). I also went to get some needed groceries, and I picked up a rotisserie chicken. I almost always get a rotisserie chicken if it’s anywhere close to dinner, because I know I’ll get at least two meals out of it. Work smarter not harder right?

    HebrewDawn: mommy brain is real

    Once we got home I put the chicken in the oven to keep it warm until dinner time. Next I put on a pot of brown rice to cook, because I figured I might as well make the sides healthy if I was bailing out of cooking the main dish. Right about that time Stephanie arrived. The weather was so gorgeous we decided we had to go enjoy some time at the playground with our girls. After awhile we came back to the house thinking the rice would be almost done so we could get a vegetable made to go along with our easy but healthy dinner.

    In the midst of doing this I remember that I needed to warm up the chicken since it had been a little while since we got home and turned the oven on (mind you our oven defaults to 350 degrees). I started preparing some broccoli to sautée on the stove, turned on the stove to get the cast iron skillet hot, and then I noticed something about the rice cooker. The remaining cook time on the rice was 75 minutes and we need to feed the girls in about 20 Minutes as it was close to meltdown time for two hungry three year olds.

    Suddenly something smelt a little burny (I don’t think that’s really a word, but I’m going with it). Then I remembered that I had put the chicken in there earlier to keep it warm. The chicken now had it’s plastic container melted all around it. *face palm*

    HebrewDawn: mommy brain is real

    Mommy brain struck again and I had ruined dinner. I waited too long to start the brown rice, and most importantly the chicken was inedible with melted plastic all around it. This was moment that I could have chosen to cry, but all I could do was laugh and give thanks that I had a good friend with me.

    HebrewDawn: mommy brain is real

    We turned off dinner, loaded the kids in the car and went to Chick-fil-A. I may have had hopes of providing a healthy dinner of chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for dinner, but fed was definitely best that night. Not to mention the two almost hungry three year olds were tickled to have dinner together at one of their favorite places. I guess mommy brain isn’t always so bad for everyone?

    there is good in this world

    I think it’s safe to say that there is a LOT going on in this world that is breaking our hearts, making us angry, and causing us to wonder  what in tarnation is our state/country/world coming to. Despite all the hate and indefensible things going on around us, I want to remind you that there still is an an abundance of good. 


    Have you seen or utilized A Little Free Library? Our neighborhood Girl Scout troop added one next to our playground, and it has brought an abundance of joy to so many already. Almost every time my oldest goes to the playground she picks out a book to take back and checks a new one out. Frequently on my drive home from work I see members of our community, both young AND old, “checking out” a book from the library. If you do not have one in your area, I highly recommended working with your community to add one.

    In the midst of the flooding caused by hurricane Harvey, a midwife packed her bags and traveled by inflatable swan to get to her laboring patient. Waist high water would not stop her from being present for a mother ready to meet her newest bundle of joy. 

    This weekend we had the privilege of driving to Morganton, North Carolina to celebrate the wedding of our friend. On the way home we had the distinct pleasure of stopping in Raleigh to visit with my best friend Erica. Did you hear about the two long lost best friends reunited by their daughters being college roommates? Reading this made me ever so thankful for our time together yesterday. I most certainly couldn’t (nor do I want to) imagine my life without her, let alone 16 years of being separated.

    Did you hear about Logic’s performance at the VMAs? His song, 1-800-273-8255, is named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and was written during his own battle with wanting to commit suicide. His performance led to a 50% increase in hotline calls. His own struggle is helping so many others, and it comes at a fitting time as this Sunday, September 10th is National Suicide Awareness Day.

    As you go about your day and begin this week, I hope you remember that there is good in this world regardless of what may happen to try and convince you otherwise.