Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Board Book Worship Resource

I found this looking for something else. Funny how that happens.

: )

I've not held these books in my hands to look at them and Amazon doesn't have them rated but they look like an interesting resource. Julie Stiegemeyer has written a set of board books published by Concordia called
The Church Book set. This set of four books includes Colors I See in Church, Things I Do in Church, Things I Hear in Church, Things I See in Church.

She's written other books, too, but the set above and these (Things I See at Baptism, Things I See at Christmas, Things I See at Easter) lend themselves to sharing the traditional community worship experience with young children.

Craft activities, books, puzzles - having resources available to children during service, that tie in to what's actually happening at service, to draw their eyes and ears back to the action is always a plus.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Giving Blood

Lots of random posts on this blog, lol!

My seventeen year old daughter gave blood for the first time about a month ago. There's a blood drive at her high school every year. After she gave blood, she was so excited. She amazes me. All my kids amaze me but she doesn't care if I tell stories about her. Her dad and her brother have given lots of blood, too, so it's in her genes. Just not in my genes. :)

The rest of us give once, pass out, and then avoid needles. The day I picked up one of my girls at school after a blood drive she was sitting on the floor very white. I told her one of my first dates with her dad was after a blood drive because he knew I was going to pass out and he waited for me. The folks at school thought that was very sweet.

So now we have all our blood types with one hold-out but those of us who avoid needles at our house are in the majority I'm afraid. It turns out we have everything postive except O. Finding out everyone's blood type is fun if no one's worried about surprises.

I was surprised and thrilled that my youngest was so excited about giving something like her blood. She got a note with her blood type card telling her that the blood she gave could save as many as three people. She was so pleased. She can give again as early as the day after Christmas and she can't wait. Go figure!

I always liked pre-school best for the wonder mixed with new thinking and communication skills but as my kids have grown and matured I'm continually awed the way every age has it's wonder-filled moments.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Disappointment revisited

Some years (maybe every year) the Christmas season seems to set us up for disappointment. Did I post something similar last year?

One pre-Christmas season, when the kids were little, for some reason I got thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus and I started listing all the disappointments she must have faced that first Christmas when her baby was born. My list ran page after page after page.

Maybe you have to be married and pregnant to appreciate all of this but stay with me here.

You're 9 months pregnant and your husband says "the IRS says we're taking a trip to the city my relatives came from. We can walk but the good news is that we have a donkey you can ride." Did you ever ride a donkey? Ever ride a donkey for a long time? Ever ride a donkey 9 months pregant?

You have to leave behind all your baby preparations, your extended family who would normally be there to help and oogle over your baby, and you'll be walking all day or riding a donkey right at the end of your pregnancy. Forgot how many days and miles the trip is from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

You finally arrive at your destination and all the rooms are taken. We had that happen once after driving until midnight with 5 little kids. All the motel rooms an hour's drive in every direction had "No Vacancy" signs. Would we have slept in a barn if I were 9 months pregnant and ready to deliver? I wasn't pregnant at the time, but even though I'd grown up with barns, I would have probably said "no barn" because I had a track record for complications. When I was pregnant we were among those who gave thanks for medical technology. Anyway, the year of the "no vacancy" motels we were so frustrated that we kept driving the 2 1/2 hours home.

You take the barn accomodations that someone graciously offers you and discover that you're ready to deliver your first baby and you're alone. I grew up on a farm. Lots of creatures live in barns (not just livestock). Hay isn't soft, it's pokey. And there are barn smells and sounds. Two millenia ago they didn't have running water, let alone HOT water. And Mary and Joseph were city people, after all. Smells, dirt, creatures, insects, spiders, dust, no light except moon and stars, night sounds, not clean-let alone sterile ...more disappointment?

So who comes to visit? A bunch of strange men: scraggly, dirty shepherds and their noisy dirty smelly sheep telling wierd stories about stars and music and angles...sorry...angels and LIGHT filling the night sky in the middle of nowhere. If the custom is to offer hospitality, what do you have to offer to shepherds and their sheep a few days after your baby is born in someone else's barn?

Rich kings brought some lovely gifts and more stories but Mary and Joseph were poor. What are they going to do with these amazing gifts? How will they get them back home without drawing attention to themselves? You probably don't have to worry much about thieves and robbers if you're traveling poor but traveling with gifts like these? How will they spend them without the authorities thinking they stole them?

The list goes on. You can probably put yourself in their shoes and think of more disappointments. I didn't try putting myself in Joseph's place...but there you'd have yet another point of view.

We take all the elements of the Christmas story for granted. If you sit and prayerfully ponder some of the human detail and "wonder..." it can add new dimensions to the stories of scripture.

That was my point in the Advent post talking about couples getting ready for a Christmas baby, an unwed teen expecting a baby, couples wondering how they'll be able to financially support a new unexpected child, a couple who has to take a long trip at the end of their pregnancy, toddlers with new babies at home and all the multi-sensory, experientially meaningful experiences of life that tie into various details of the Christmas story - the universal experiences, the joys and hardships that God is so in touch with generation after generation.

More Children's Ministry Blogs 2

More Children's Ministry Blogs. Have I posted these?

Multi-site Kids

Children's Ministry Insights

Children's Ministry and Culture

Kidscreen (about reaching children through entertainment). You may not be a fan of entertainment as a tool in Children's Ministry but this is an interesting resource if only because the entertainment industry plays such a huge role in the lives of kids today. It may not be huge in the lives of the regulars in your church but it will probably be playing a huge roll in the lives of new faces you meet.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Puppy Break: More Dog Theory Evidence

If you really search this blog, you'll find scattered posts about my now adolescent 18 month puppies. In keeping with tradition...

Thanksgiving week I walk downstairs in the morning and both puppy beds look like this recreated scene. Were my puppies playing cards in the middle of the night? All the college kids are home.

Notice the
cards with chewed corners. They weren't there the night before. The picture of Ellie's nose on the table watching us play cards* earlier that day was too dark to print, sorry.

I offer this as further evidence that puppies chew, trying to do the work they see us doing, LOL!

And the tie-in to kids? Kids try to do what they see us doing, too. As our littles ones grow in our family groups (critters or people) we teach them to do the work we do. As little people pretending trying to do the work we do, they're doing real work. As they approach adulthood, meaningful work helps them use hormone-driven energy constructively, (hopefully) adding to their sense of purpose, growing skills they didn't have, and giving opportunity to work alongside adults doing adult work.

Getting paid is a perk, too.

Sometimes it helps them bypass the negatives of the inbetween. Sometimes the pressure's on to grow up before they're really ready, but giving teens opportunity to do the things they love or to try a variety of things, to learn work-related skills getting involved in a world beyond themselves and their peer group can only help.

In part I was kidding when I first started this puppy chewing & work theory but hey! Not only am I convinced, but maybe it's really really true. :)

*Ok, the benefits of card playing are controversial.

Preparing for Advent

Most of you are probably already do this, but we never really embraced the liturgy or the church calendar as opportunity to "consider Jesus" - His life, His being man, His being God - putting His life in the context of a yearly cycle of seasons, the ordinary and the extra ordinary.

I was thinking that pondering Jesus the child was a good way to approach Advent but if you take the church calendar as opportunity to ponder the life of Christ, Jesus the child doesn't come until a brief moment in the middle of January.

Advent would fill with considering His mother and step-father and their preparation, their musings, misgivings, wondering about all the things that God did preparing for His Son to come to earth.

There might be a couple in your church getting ready for a Christmas baby. You may have an unwed teen expecting a baby. You may have someone who is wondering how they will be able to financially support themselves and an expected child. You may have a couple who has to take a long trip at the end of their pregnancy. . .

Last year we had a couple a toddlers with new babies at home between Christmas and Thanksgiving. Sometimes when you're in the throes of newbabydom you don't think about tying the stories of the baby Jesus to the new baby in your house. That's a pretty multi-sensory, experientially meaningful experience for any age but even to very little people.

Many unexpected God-given opportunities to you as you "consider Jesus" during this season.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Beyond Hosagna

Of all the possible ways that God could have done what He did - a holy God becoming flesh and blood, it's pretty facinating that the Living Word of God came and became a baby.

Someone human had to raise Him. That alone, is profound.

If Jesus died at 33, almost half of Jesus' life on this earth was spent as a child. I never really thought about it that way. Must be God didn't think it was waste of time.

This child-person was God-With-Us just as much as Jesus the adult. He was still God. He was still man.

Among other things, He seemed to know who He was, what really mattered, and where He was going.

He took endless advantage of momentary opportunities without losing sight of the long term.

Being man, He died.

Being God, the Living Word - God Incarnate, dying wasn't the end of Him.

It was just another beginning. A beginning for the rest of us.

What was it...three years of ministry, thirty years previous, three days at Calvary . . . I wonder why the Son of God spent almost half his time on earth as a child.

I wonder why God tells us so little about that time.

I wonder how much of Christ-on-Earth, even as a child, was God and how much was man.

Maybe it doesn't matter.

He called Himself: "I Am who I Am" - a name left unspoken and unwritten for centuries, probably with good reason. And so named He was the same baby, the same child, the same man, the same God - "I am who I am" spending almost half His holy life on this earth as a man-child.

Just seemed like a side of God worth pondering.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Praises, Thanksgiving and Hosagna (revised)

When my kids were growing up we used to say thank you prayers and some years we sang various worship choruses for grace even when it wasn't a holiday. Example, "ho ho ho sanna...ha ha ha le luia..."

Somehow in the process we ended up with something called. . .


Yes, it sounds like lasagne -"Ho-SAgna". (It was, of course, the best lasagne ever...just kidding.)

The inevitable place where sacred CROSSes secular.

Sometimes well- defined, sometimes less-defined...Life Incarnate...

Maybe Jesus, Son of God walking the earth as a man, was as much the place where the two cross (and merge) as the actual place of the cross was.

Happy Thanksgiving, whatever country you claim as your current dwelling place!

Blessings to you and your little people!! Many thank you prayers and many thanks-givings to you!

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Random Observation

We were at a rest stop crossing the Ontario/Quebec border this weekend. A mom was changing a baby and all the women around them were talking to her and the baby and making a fuss (in French). In the states when a mom is changing a baby no one interacts with them.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I’m left thinking that in it’s simplist form, Jesus blessed the children. Big church, small church, in Jesus name, how do we bless the kids in our churches? How do we bless the kids in our larger communities? How do we bless the kids that God brings into our lives? An evergrowing knowledge of Christ Jesus to you.

just for fun

Yesterday I was standing in line with my teenaged daughter. She needed a winter coat. In front of us was a little girl sitting in a cart who happened to be three. The little girl took something from a box of left over Halloween impulse buys and the mom pointed to the side of the box where it said "4 years and up" .

her mom: "What number is that?"
girl: "4"
mom:"How old are you?"
girl: "3"
mom: "I think it's too old for you"

The little girl put it back in the box. End of story.

I was impressed and told the mom that. She said, "I'm a teacher. So I've learned a lot of little things like that."

I said, "As a mom of five I'm impressed. Really impressed." She smiled.

After they checked out, Jenny said to me, "Yeah, when she's five the mom can say, 'I think it's too young for you.'" That would work if you're more intelligent than your children.

That being true, it gives you until the child turns about 6 when she can read words like "and" "up" . At that point she'll just be excited to read the words but she won't really understand the implications. By 7 or 8 (when she understands the implications) she'll be so well trained (maybe) she won't even notice impulse buys in which case it won't matter whether she can read and understand the age range or not.

On the other hand there is the possibility she could figure out what you've been doing for five years. She could get really upset with you and never trust you again . . .

. . . or she could just laugh.

Cultivating a child's sense of humor would be an interesting topic. . .

You start seeing yourself when older siblings start pulling your tactics on younger siblings. That's when you decide whether it was actually as good an idea as you thought it was.

Anyway, as I say, for the moment I was impressed. :)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

learning from glass blowers

Yesterday, we visited an art school in the Southern Tier. After the pre-planned morning info sessions, lunch, and the art tour we spent three hours in the glass blowing studio. We watched some demos - an older more experienced teacher or grad student with the help of undergrads.

As two visiting artists returned from lunch, the workshop filled up with students and grad students and professors and about 10 of these people all at different levels began working (as helpers) with these master glass-blowers. They worked for about 2 1/2 hours, each one seeming to know exactly what they were doing and when to do it.

It wasn't the actual work, though that was impressive. It was the way they all worked together to make something. No yelling, no screaming, no condescension. A few tense moments but nothing too bizarre. The experts came to do their work and share their expertise. The learners came to work, help and learn. All in all, they needed to work together (it wasn't a one person job) and do the work together (it wasn't a lecture) in order to do what they were doing.

Very informal, but so alive! An amazing thing to see.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

And yet another!

Lemon Lime Kids with ties to Willow Creek and Group.

More Children's Ministry Blogs

Yet another list of CM blogs at Dave Wakerly's site.

If you're new, there are resources strewn randomly through this blog due to my profound lack of technoability. The most recent ones were


12/11 (but now you don't need this because of the new tags :)

service idea

Another community service/outreach activity for kids when you're pondering God's creation or mercy & justice. [for a big or small church]

If your local Humane Society/SPCA/Animal Control organization has a Wish List, kids can collect items or raise money. Sometimes they accept gift cards for volunteers and staff, too.

Something like this might be a non-religious activity that would appeal to friends from school or other people in your neighborhood.

Magazines and related thoughts

As long as we're talking about magazines, there are LOTS of Christian magazines and other high quality magazines out there for kids. They each have a different focus, and they're generally (within about 3 years) age specific .

They cost money and they're consumable but they often appeal to kids who aren't crazy about reading long books. (and Babybug is actually done in a boardbook format for babies.) Many of the stories and articles are relatively short. They're often content specific. They're usually have great visuals. AND you can cut the old ones up and use them for crafts!

Consider a lending library or just a basket of used children's books and magazines specifically for kids. Expect them to get battered, bruised, and used. Some of our libraries in the city have a "Bring one, take one" rack. Probably lower maintainance than a lending library.

I also think Rochester once had a toy lending library.

Just some ideas for communities (large or small) looking to simplify their individual lives, still taking advantage of all the stimulating resources out there.

I suppose it could also work as an outreach tool to the community, open Saturday mornings 10 to 2 or something. (Depending on your neighborhood.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Magazine (ages 2-6)

If you're a fan of the magazine Highlights for Kids, the Highlights people are launching a new magazine for kids ages 2-6: High Five (Celebrating Early Childhood).

34 pages. Big. Bold. Colorful. Fun read-aloud stories, crafts and simple movement activities all encouraging the sense of childlike wonder, creative thinking, and life-long learning we've come to recognize as typical Highlights style.

Way to go, Highlights!!

Friday, November 03, 2006


One of the challenges for children's ministry (probably any ministry) is the desire to see God working in people's lives. I googled "children transformed lives" on Google. Interesting list of transforming influences. Then I added "Christ" and here are some interesting finds for you:

A church where the pastor sees lives transformed. What's interesting here is that the adult focus seems to be transformation and the child focus seems to be character formation. That sounds like fodder for an interesting discussion if you're willing to share your thoughts.

"But transformational ministry grows out of people who are being changed. “Transformed Lives” starts with each of us – staff, missionaries, the board ... you."

You can only tell so much from a website but this is a very impressive list of ministries transforming the lives of children and families. It came up because this is on their website: "We believe encounters with Jesus Christ transform lives." Explore the site, the work they're doing is inspiring.

This is an inspirational article for Youth ministry from Group.

This is
Josh McDowell's newsletter . I've not read his stuff in a very long time but he's definately focusing on the transforming power of Christ. But he also sees postmodern thinking as a stumbling block for youth? Any thoughts about this?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Local - this weekend

If anyone is local and interested, this free conference coming to Rochester this weekend. The focus is Community Solutions for At-Risk Students with a focus on family, school, and faith-based organizations working together for the sake of their children.

This is also the weekend of the Rochester Children's Book Festival.