Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bible stories

Someone was looking for a simplified Easter Story.

For years I would read scripture to kids verbatim for fear of messing something up and just to honor the Word. Maybe that's better. Maybe this is better...not clear.

Here's a challenge for you: Take a specific child or group of children. [Your favorite 3 year old, for example]

Knowing the concrete elements of life that are real to this child's experience (or for this particular age group) tell the Easter story. Leave out all the things that won't make any sense to them or use words that will make sense to them and help them understand the story. Leave out the abstact words and concepts that they have no experience with and try to tell the story.

Do it for a 2 or 3 year old. Do it for an 8 or 9 year old. Do it for a 12 year old. Stick to the elements of the story that the child has the language and the experience to understand.

That's the non-illustrated version. A picture is worth a 1000 words, or so they say. If you use a Bible picture book, try a "what do you see?" approach.

All this without changing the story and not leaving out the details...

Friday, March 30, 2007


I hope you read the comment that I messed up on the name of the magazine.

Since the site meter addition in June I've been able to garner tidbits of information. Most people just come to whatever page is up on Emerging Kids. The 2nd most popular page used to be the communion post. But most recently since the CM Blog Watch post on Kidology, I have to say that people seem to be looking for information about kids and justice.

If you're thinking about blogging about it, go for it! I'll think about it more, too.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who's Children Were They?

You know how scripture so often refers to people as, _________ the son of ___________. I understand it was cultural but it's worth pondering even though we're a different generation. I don't believe that all the words we skip in the scriptures are just empty words. I don't believe any of the words of scripture are irrelevant empty words.

If you're curious about a generation in Israel who didn't know the Lord, if you're asking who's children were they? Here's one situation: Judges 2:1-10.

Are these the children of the adults from Deuteronomy 31 and Deuteronomy 32? Or is there no correlation?

If there is a correlation, we need to go back to the stories of Deuteronomy asking, "Where were these kids?" I'm not convinced that our successes and failures walking with God are always formulaeic. But we're supposed to learn from the scriptures.

I'm saying this as a parent, too. Some of my kids aren't making their pursuit of God a priority right now. They assure me that will change but it's stretching my faith. We had no intention of raising a generation of children who don't know the Lord - neither did Job. I have another one who's turned that corner. She's been going to Bible study and searching the scriptures. She came back recently and said, "I'm finding so much of what you and Dad told us here (in the scriptures)." She's excited. Bless You, Father.

I'm not doing this systematically, am I. I'm not following a map. I'm following a path of questions. Your study of the same material may raise different questions for you and looking for those answers may take you down a different path of study and you may see different things. But if we're looking for Him and how He interacted with the people in His stories - if we're looking for Him with all our heart, He'll let us find Him.

If I search the scriptures asking, "Where were the children?" it's God I'm looking for. The way that I know the God of the scriptures will affect the way I interact with children.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Interesting magazine

I am truly one of the more easily distracted folk of the earth.

I saw this magazine in the doctor's office: Wonder Years published by Partnership for Learning.

Any magazine that suggests you celebrate Ground Hog day by playing with shadows (shadow animals on the wall) or shows you how to turn a baby gate/door gate into a puppet theater is worth looking at just for their creativity, if nothing else. (It's more like a Dutch door than a baby gate but . . . neat idea?) I'd tell you more but I ran out of reading time.

Kidology CM Blog Watch

Kidology has a CM Blog Watch. Maybe it's always been there. I only noticed it recently. Sometimes when I'm looking for something specific I don't notice all the extras on the side of the page. Kidology is full of resources.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Watching and Listening

My most significant observation at this point is this: Just because children aren't at the center of what's happening, doesn't mean they aren't affected by what's happening. And it doesn't mean they're not important. They were important enough to feed and spend resources on, to care for and nurture to adulthood. I think it's safe to say, that all through scripture children were there, somewhere. Read the endless geneologies. And God kept his promise to Abraham - something about "more than the sands of the sea"?

Healthy children are always watching and listening. And even if they weren't "there" at the time of the story, they probably heard alot of the stories after the fact. Children as Audience? Children as Spectators? God doesn't often talk about them.

God made every human being to begin his/her life as a child. Not to stay there, but to start there. Healthy children are always watching and listening and learning from the grown-ups around them.

Which leads me to ask, what about the generations that didn't follow God? What did the generation that didn't follow God see and hear as children? What happened with their adults and how did it affect them?

Beginning in Genesis 2

Children love hearing stories about their parents and grandparents.

"Mom, do you remember being a rib? What was that like?"
"Dad, what was it like to walk with God?"
"Tell me again - why did He kick you out of the garden?"

Did questions like that make Mom and Dad uncomfortable? How did Adam and Eve respond?

"Let's not talk about that right now."
"I really don't want to talk about it."
"Not now. I'm busy."
"Go ask your father."
"God had it planned that way all along. We had no choice."
"We blew it and things will never be the same."
"We blew it but God still has a plan."
"God never liked us anyway. It was all a big mistake."
"Women, He really doesn't like women. And serpents...oh my gosh He hates serpents! Especially now. "

We don't know any of this for fact. God doesn't tell us these things - so maybe, in God's economy none of this is important.

Do we have the freedom to engage our imaginations as we process and ponder the sacred, living word of the Living God or are we limited to a literal legalistic theology? (I'm the literalist at my house, remember, but we both fear God enough to know that the living Word is to be handled carefully. In the same breath, let me say, it's not fragile.) How much freedom do we have? Why did God give us an imagination if we can't use it to know Him better? I'm not suggesting heresy. I'm not suggesting we get presumptious and arrogant but Adam and Eve and their children were people, we're people. God was God, and He still is.

It's interesting the details included in the scriptures and the details that aren't - all for good reason. Reasons, I expect, we'll never know.

As I say, the stories are there and I think it's safe to say they filled the ears and imaginations of little people generation after generation. I think it's safe to say that these stories began to shape a child's understanding of God and man and their relationship to one another. Have we tired of God's stories? Are they somehow less relevant today than they were when they were fresh and new? Are these the stories we share with our children? Are they playing and pretending and processing God's stories?

Or are we saying to ourselves, and to them, "Don't touch. You'll break it."

It's not touching it that does the damage, it's teaching it wrong and misrepresenting God that does the damage.

Beginning in Genesis

The obvious lack of the mention of children in the first few chapters of Genesis would lead you to ask "Why start there?"

Because. Whether you believe creation happened in seven 24 hour days (God could do that if He wanted to) or whether you believe that a day is a thousand years in His sight, I'm guessing the stories of Creation and Adam and Eve were among the first stories that the first children heard.

Genesis starts with stories. We believe God's word is true but sometimes it comes in the form of a story. The details that God includes are important. Maybe just as important are the things He leaves out.

Children pretend the stories they hear. They act out the things they see and hear. They process life, they learn about living, through play. Imagine a small boy pretending to be God yelling, "Let there be light," or pretending to be his father or his mother or an animal, the moon, the sun...imagine the very first children acting out these first stories about God - God's stories.

The world was new, the people were new, creation was new. The stories were new.

The mandate to be fruitful and multiply leads me to believe there were grown up living things and baby living things early on. We know how children love living things, especially baby living things.

I'm guessing that children spent a great deal of time outside. Maybe they were more aware of other living creatures than most children are today. Maybe they took them for granted. Either way, their parents were responsible to care for all that God had made.

The older kids get, the more they want to know. Where did the sun come from again? An Aardvark? You called it an Aardvark? You're kidding! Why would you do a thing like that?

Why did God start with adults and not children? Maybe you think the answer's obvious but He's God. He didn't have to do it that way. And, wonder of wonders, He let Adam and Eve have children to teach and train even though they're the ones who got us all off to such a lousy start. Why didn't He just do it Himself?

Monday, March 26, 2007

justice conference

A new post on nextreformation refers to a recent conference in Toronto about restoring justice. If anyone's interested, follow the link on the post to hear from a participant.

Just glancing at it, I'm guessing there are probably lots of thoughts that can be filtered and used with kids.

Sometimes we shy away from including our children in pursuits related to justice and mercy, especially if it involves potentially dangerous people or situations.

But what does it mean for them to practice the justice and mercy that Jesus taught us in their own lives, among their peers - at home, at school, at church, in their neighborhood? Can a child identify opportunities and respond with Jesus as a model? What does justice look like through the eyes of a child?

The Tabernacle 2

God asked for goat skin curtains, ropes, an ark, an alter, a bronze basin. He asked for spices and incense. He asked for onyx stones and gems, and special clothes for the priests. Maybe it's a type of the space that God inhabits in heavenly places. But maybe, in the mind of a child, it just meant that God had a tent like everyone else who was traveling with them. And, after all, Wasn't He the leader? Didn't God need a tent? Didn't God need a place to sleep, too?

He asked for certain pieces of furniture in His space: a lampstand with olive oil for the lamp, a table outside. A table. And there was bread on the table.

The tabernacle had color: blue, purple, scarlet. Texture: yarn, finely twisted linen, goat skin, seal skin. Gold clasps, bronze tent pegs. Cherubim were worked into the curtains by skilled craftsmen. I bet curious kids were watching. All this commotion over God's house surely broke their usual routine.

God used numbers - not too much, not too little: 50 gold clasps, 11 goat hair curtains. Maybe there's other symbolism involved but in it's simplest form - not too much, not too little
All the parts made a single unit. Apparently that small phrase was important.

God used direction: 20 acacia wood frames on the south side. 20 acacia wood frames on the north side. 5 frames on the west side and five on the other side.

God had a plan. After all, this was His home. Remember the courtyard. Oh, and set it up on a mountain.

The people, men and women, brought all these things from their own homes "as they were willing". Kids lived in those homes. The things that came from their homes may have looked different used in the tabernacle. Jewelry was melted down, women spun yarn. I bet kids were watching.

They worked six days, they rested on the Sabbath - even building God's house- they rested on the Sabbath. They couldn't even light a fire to cook or to stay warm. They ate the usual cold leftovers. Next day they lit their fires and the work continued.

There was bread on God's table. And oil in God's lamp.

The scriptures don't really talk about the children but imagine being there and being a child. Few would enter the tabernacle after it was finished but at this stage everyone brought something that God asked for from their homes to make His home- seeing, touching. How were the kids involved?

When the tabernacle was all put together, God filled that space with His presence- dangerously so. Later, the people would follow Jesus like the Israelites followed the pillar of cloud that filled that tent.

Once the tabernacle was finished, few people would enter it and see what it looked like from the inside. It was a holy place but I bet the kids were watching while it was being built. They surely saw the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They were watching while the tabernacle was being carried from place to place. They were watching the ark to see if someone would touch it and die. Too tempting. Curious kids who didn't have their own work to do might be watching each time the tabernacle was put back together. Special, sacred, a mystery. This was the tent that the cloud would fill, the fire would fill but it wouldn't burn down.

Or maybe one in a million people they wouldn't notice any of this unless their parents were excited about it, talking, and pointing ...

Imagine yourself a child there. Are you a boy? A girl? How old are you? Where would you be? What would you see and hear and smell and touch? What would you think about this very special tent? If you can't imagine yourself a child, think about your own children and their questions. What would they be asking you? What would they want to know? What would you tell them? If you had been a child during this time, what memories would you save to tell your children about the special tent they made for God? What came from your house? What did you learn about God?

The Tabernacle

This isn't Genesis. Next time.

Thinking about wonder books, crafts, and stuff in general made me think about these things.

Jesus came with nothing and returned with nothing. We all do. In our culture, it's easy to forget that life is like that.

God made man of flesh and blood. We need stuff like food, water, shelter, covering, daylight, sleep, family, community, work - all basic needs for physical survival and basic mental health. Pretty concrete.

He also created us with spirits, emotional, intelligent, inquisitive, with a sense of justice, apt learners – the side of man that’s more abstract. Jesus came as a man, yet he was God. Concrete and abstract.

I thought about Hebrew holidays and about how kid-friendly they were with their concrete elements. But maybe those concepts were never intended to be as abstract as we make them.

Thinking about stuff made me think about graven images, things our hands make, which made me think about the tabernacle. God told us not to worship graven images but He gave His people a plan for a movable worship space made of stuff with stuff in it. God wanted a sanctuary in the midst of His people.

Today we think of God's sanctuary and we think church building. But think about a wildlife sanctuary and the word sanctuary takes on new meaning. He wanted it built a certain way. I'm guessing it was beautiful in a simple way.

So where were the kids?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Motivational Speaker

As you already know, I get easily distracted (not unlike your children).

Last week the teachers and administrators at school with some help from a couple of parents planned their first Family Fun Night for grades 7-9 focusing of improving family involvement. We have about 2000 students in the school - an urban school. We had about 30 families sign in and fed about 200 including participating staff and upperclassmen as helpers. It was a great beginning!

The motivational speaker was Alan Johnson. As I understand it he's a parent, a teacher,and as it turns out an African American worship leader. If you ever have opportunity to see and hear him, he tells us the things we all need to hear if we're working with kids.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Where to Go From Here...

Ok, I'm ready to step out here. I'm thinking that maybe the best use of this blog would be to trek through scripture exploring the question, "Where Were the Kids?" I talked about it. Let's try it!

I don't have the scholarly background to include history, culture, and language nuances but God knows that I can bring Him lots of questions.

All through history our real God was interacting with real everyday people. I'd venture to guess that most of them didn't have scholarly backgrounds. We believe that for generations real people have been interacting with a real God despite changes in history, culture, and language. We believe that our God is the same God - the God of Adam, Eve, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, Abigail, Peter, Mary, Paul and Lydia. I would also suggest that despite the inevitable changes of time, there are things about people that don't change. The stories of scriptures keep teaching us generation after generation.

Here's an interesting word study - the word "everyone" . Bible Gateway gives us 214 references in the NIV. We're asking, "Where were the children?" There may be some clues about children here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Throw- Away

Thinking about wonder books and stuff in general. Thinking about crafts for kids...I think reinfocing lessons with things that kids can do with hands or body is important. I think there's a time to be lavish and generous with materials. Artists are always throwing away seconds (the work that doesn't meet their standards) but we invest time and resources and then throw away so much of what we do with kids. Is it a waste of time and resources or does it serve a purpose? What message are we sending?

You have hand-work that just reinforces a lesson but which for all other purposes is inconsequential.

You have the wonderful creative adventure in stewardship - creating something from nothing or creating something artistic or useful from junk.

You have artistic projects that are useful for skill development, or to better understand a different culture or historic time.

You have things that are meaningful to the maker but not to anyone else.

You can add to this list.

There's all the stuff we throw away, including the things our children make. Then there are the things we have a hard time throwing away.

What's the difference? What can you do with kids that reinforces all the things you want to reinforce with your children, including stewardship?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Wonder Books

One of my girls was home this week. She goes to a SUNY school in the NYS north country. Her history professor has them creating "Wonder Books" - like a class journal. It includes material they cover but it also includes their own wonder questions to take them deeper into the material. He's encouraged them to include images they find, collage, original creative writing, artwork, drawing, photos...anything to re-enforce their processing the material. I should say creatively processing the material. His focus is "spiritual" in that he's encouraging them to look at an era through the eyes of those who lived in that particular era and through their particular belief system.

The idea of a "wonder book" is what caught my attention and though this particular daughter doesn't think of herself as particularly artistic, her book is beautiful!

Wonder books as a way for kids to process a year's worth of teaching time would be fun! It could be as simple as helping each child to create a book by adding their work each week and taking home a finished book when the session or the year ends. And maybe they do a page at home each week that they bring to class to add to their classwork pages. It could be as elaborate as allowing each individual to process the material any way they want to and create something truly unique, depending on the age, of course. But any age could do this- alone, together or in groups of people their own age.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Emerging Blogs

Emerging Mosaic - some refreshing food for thought. Probably more personal than Children's Ministry as content but an African American church planter's perspective.

Tall Skinny Kiwi - Emerging, and this particular post is about kids with lots of comments.

Living Room (in Austrailia?) - I believe it's associated with the growing House Church movt but they're trying to look at "church" differently and trying to think outside traditional boxes.

3 Cords - includes curriculum reviews

Maranatha Mirror - a great source of encouragement

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Happy St. Pat's Day !! (yesterday)

Saint. * The word means different things to Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. But I think it's good to understand why people believe what they believe historically and today, especially if we're part of the same Body or if we hope to build bridges that people are willing to cross to interact with the God we claim to know.

Here is an Orthodox info-site specifically for non-Orthodox inquirers with lots of avenues to investigate.

This information about saints comes from an Israeli art exhibition with a tie-in to beauty.

This article is from a Catholic source. It's critiquing another article, but it's interesting because it talks about the difference between saints and heros.

When it's time for Christmas, this is about St. Nick.

I don't know much about these sources. I'm not sure where they fall on the conservative/liberal spectrum. They're just sources of information. If you have better sources, feel free to share.

Given my Protestant background I only started thinking about this a few years ago. As an elementary student, I loved American History biographies. As a young adult I wasn't reading biographies much because I figured Jesus is enough. I think of Jesus as human but perfect because He's God. I think of saints as falling somewhere between human and perfect but closer to perfect and, as people of faith, they were overcomers. The Protestant perspective is that all believers are saints and God is looking for all of us to be overcomers.

We usually appreciate strong role models and real-life faith-filled heros for kids. Real people. People they can look up to, relate to, and learn from. People who overcome obstacles. Jesus was like that (is like that) He came as a real person. He's also God. He had obstacles to overcome and He worked miracles. Bible heros and people in our faith communities - we all have obstacles to overcome and God is still doing amazing things in our lives, but not everyone's willing to share their stories.

The word "saint" is in the scriptures. Consider it a language-of-faith issue, a specialized vocabulary word. What does it mean, this word "saint"? What does it mean to us? What does it mean to other people? Is it important? Not to take away from the scriputures but alot of the stories are great stories, stories that point people back to God.

*"Saint" as used in the scriptures also makes an interesting word study.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cry Hosanna!!

I guess it's common knowledge that Hosanna means "Save, we pray thee!" (Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible.) I was looking at Psalm 8 this morning and I wasn't thinking about "Hosanna" when I started. I've read this verse often enough but I've never really explored it. There are ways it stumps me.

Psalm 8: 2 "From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger." (NIV)

As it turns out, "ordained" (according to Young’s Concordance) is the same word used in 1 Chronicles 9:22 (NIV) . "Altogether, those chosen to be gatekeepers at the thresholds numbered 212. They were registered by genealogy in their villages. The gatekeepers had been assigned to their positions of trust by David and Samuel the seer." "Assigned" meaning, "to lay a foundation, to appoint or settle." The contrast between this situation in Chronicles and the next passage from Matthew where the same word is referred to surprised me.

Matthew 21:15-17 "But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.
"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him.
"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?"
And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night." (NIV)

I've always seen this as a very spontaneous expression from the children. It may have been, yet the word from the passage in 1 Chronicles that it's associated with doesn't strike me as particularly spontaneous.

What's even more interesting, again according to Young’s Concordance, was that this same word for "shouting," "crying," or "crying out," is also used in about 10 places in the gospels, situations that were rather disruptive and don't neccessarily look like church gatherings:
-when the two blind men followed Jesus crying ,
-when Peter began to sink walking on the water,
-when a woman was following the disciples and crying after them and the disciples complained and asked Jesus to send her away,
-when a demon came out of a man,
-when the evil spirits cried out, "You are the Son of God",
-when Jesus confronted Legion and they cried out,
-when John bore witness to Jesus,
-Jesus at the Feast,
-both children and adults shouting Hosanna,
-Jesus on the cross,

[not sure why these are all underlined. it won't go away...] There are forty places in the New Testament where that same word is used, referring to this kind of crying out. The scriptures talk about children obeying, Paul talks about a need for order during worship and I'm not undermining any of that, but if you imagine yourself there in each of these situations from the Gospels and watch Jesus carefully and how He responds and reacts particularly when His friends tell Him, "Lord, these people are bothering us!". . .

It's just so interesting...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Accountable Puppies, Owners, and Taxes

Anyone have puppies who like to help with taxes and financial aid applications?

You don't want to know...

They don't chew all the time. They're not random chewers. They're very very selective...

Most of the time we assume it's Ellie. She poked her nose at a couple of weeks worth of finished taxes and financial aid application envelopes as I left them on the couch before we walked into another room to finish the last form on the computer. I told her "no" and she left it. Or so I thought until we counted one, not two, envelopes 20 minutes later. Why would a dog chew up your taxes? They don't taste like food. The trainer says they don't want your popcorn because it's of some scrumptious value to them. They want it because you're eating it. Point made. They didn't want the popcorn in class when I wanted them to heel, only in our living room. But taxes?

So who did it? (The more important part of this post.) Ellie? Nyah conveniently disappeared for the rest of the evening into her crate, her safe place, so maybe it wasn't Ellie. And we don't know because we weren't watching them. :)

When the kids were little we found out, after-the-fact, that one person in particular tended to start things but that person wasn't usually the person who got into trouble. Took us a while. It came out one night in conversation after a very frazzled babysitter left.

The story of Adam and Eve and the way God held everyone accountable has profound implications for kids, parents, teachers . . . everyone, even puppies!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Kid Friendly and Kids Eat Free!

For locals...actually some of these places are all over the country . . .

If you can afford it and want to take your kids to dinner or have out of town visitors to take to dinner, here is a list of kid-friendly restaurants I came across today (looking for something else, of course.)

Kid-friendly restaurants courtesy of Kids-Out-And-About, a local website or publication, not sure which. There's a separate sub list for Kids Eat Free.

I don't think this is the home page but lots of great resources.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Stories no one wants to hear...

I ran into someone we knew about 10-15 years ago. I found out that a mutual friend, one of the model parents in our church when my kids were growing up, has Alzheimers. I doubt if she's even 60 years old yet. They went through some really hard things but they were always examples of faith and prayer and worship and giving and kindness and wisdom. They were in the Word. They loved Jesus and their kids. They openned their home and cared for other people. The positive thing is that lots of people are giving back to them.

The hard thing is that being people who ask why, we ask why...

There are no guarantees...except that God remains faithful and sometimes we only know that because He says it's true. He must have a huge amount of trust in these people that they will remain faithful, too. It's too hard to even imagine.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Random, just random

I feel compeled to justify some of my random blogs...though I don't know that I actually believe in random. Must be my Presbyterian roots. :)

I can justify blogging about puppies because God is using them in my life, because there are parallels to parenting if you don't get too carried away with behavior modification. Turns out dogs are very relational and love to play and the bonding happens there as much as over leadership and respect.

But the bottom line is that it's ok to share the things you love and the things you hate with the children in your care -generally in age appropriate ways, but not neccessarily. It's ok to go looking for God there together. There comes a point where you might find that your kids have grown to hate the things you love. They've discovered their own individuality or you've worn them out. (I'm guilty.) Leaving them hungry for more is usually more effective than saturating them.

We relate to the people around us for lots of different reasons, but how often do relationships grow over the passions you share? If you've found a way to glorify and honor the God who deserves our honor and praise in the midst of who He's created you to be, isn't that good? All the random threads don't have to make sense.

Connecting kids with trusted adults or older kids who share their passions - for science or for art or for people (for almost anything) and who can share deep-rooted faith just by sharing who they are is pretty special. It may be that someday that child will be a young adult able to share who they are as a person of faith with a expert who shares their passion yet has no faith. Or maybe they share that passion and they just pray and they watch God move.

I have to do some studies. What does scripture say about God's love and His hate? What does scripture say about Jesus and the way He loved people without losing His sense of purpose. Was He empathetic or did I get that from Psalm 139? Maybe the gospels aren't all about love, in the way we think of love. Jesus wasn't a door mat. How did Jesus love? Did He empathize? Maybe He didn't. Does God mean for me to emulate the things that Jesus was passionate about or just a passion to fullfill my purpose? Do I have to know ahead of time or just walk and make the most of every opportunity?

I have a quilt to finish by June. I've made each of my kids a quilt for high school graduation. I'm still in the design phase. Starting to sew yesterday, my sewing machine tangled all the threads. I've only used it a couple of times and had to re-learn how to thread the machine.

My dryer didn't work...water is leaking in through the roof we had put on last summer. My passion for houses and renouvation is not particularly positive.

I have a pile of writing to put in the mail and I keep putting it off. I don't have trouble writing, just getting it in the mail.

I was able to take some very neat winter photos this year.

We have four financial aid applications to get in the mail because we'll have four kids in college next year.

We've had some extended family crisis this past year and some recent medical issues.

I've run into old friends recently.

I get to do a tour and make dog biscuits with (Girl Scout) Brownies at Lollypop this afternoon. They have a neat program for scouts. I get to do the Dog Bite Prevention program next week.

I inherited a pair of cordoroy overalls from my daughter. Pockets for dog treats and warmer than sweaters!

I have buckets of family history to play with (and a very cluttered house to clean out).

My kids are in an urban high school with 100 years of student written newsletters. I got to help go through them for their 100 year celebration before my cataract surgery a couple of years ago. So fascinating.

We got to see the Redwoods this year and Shenandoah Park in January. My husband and I always go to cities for our 3-4 day weekends away. He did the parks for me and he even had a good time. That was the best part. He says the best part was seeing me get excited about it.

Opportunities to give, opportunities with people, opportunities to praise God for what He's created, opportunities to pray, opportunities to trust Him, opportunities to see God working over a long period of time in an institution - so facinating to see the spirit of the place they built in 1903 persist even through tough decades in urban schools.

Someday the way all these seemingly random threads and opportunities to know God better are woven together will make sense. And everyone's random threads are different. Keeps life interesting.

So sharing life and the things you love with kids and sharing the God who is the Giver of Life is good. Somehow, it's all connected. I can't tell you how exactly.

I would think the world would be excited to be around people who love them and who love life. Maybe someday such encounters will even help grow a world willing to acknowledge and be excited about the same God who gives life.

Too spiritual? Or not enough...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Puppies 2/07

Puppy break!

Puppies, they're not. They're dogs, now. A year and a half, 90 pounds, but still lovable.We went back to class. The first week went great for both dogs. I think they were really happy to be back!

We made some tiny forward steps socially. Nyah was really good with the other dogs and she even made a friend. Ellie took the jumps that she used to be scared of. Mom relaxed - better than last year, anyway.

On the other hand, all the skills they've been doing at home for 6 months (flawlessly, I might add) the skills I was eager to see them do under pressure, disappeared in class which probably means Mom's not mastered social leadership and still has lots of social confidence to grow. So, Good Citizenship class is next.

And now, more than ever we are the special needs remedial class ... mostly because Ellie is either perfect or perfectly zoned out. Ok, Ellie ALWAYS has to relieve herself in class and she won't focus until she's done and it doesn't matter if she did it before we left. She gets nervous.

We've failed heel for 6 weeks running (both dogs) and it's so annoying because class is the only place they don't heel so it's really hard to practice when they heel all week long until we get to class.

So, for the next six months instead of avoiding distractions, I guess we have to go looking for them. And I thought I was doing that. At level -1 maybe. Do you have any idea how out of character that is for me? Only God could bring me to the place where I am willing to go looking for conflict (things to aggravate my dogs) so I can teach them to behave, so Mom can practice commands and they can practice listening. If anyone would have told me two years ago that I would be doing this, I would have said, you're crazy. Will it actually happen? We don't know. Stay tuned.

You'd have to be there to appreciate how we manage to totally humiliate ourselves every week for five weeks running. So why do we keep doing this? Dedication? Addiction? Good question. But we always learn something. If my dogs listen in a closed space with ten other dogs and owners, they'll listen anywhere or that's the theory, anyway. The better they listen, the more places and situations I can take them, the more freedom they have, the safer they are, and the more things we can do without Mom having a heart attack. Some dogs are good listeners and eager to please. Some dogs are independent thinkers...If nothing else, Mom will master patient persistance.

On the positive side, the medicinal effects of companion animals has been proven (to lower blood pressure, etc.) I've been walking almost two miles almost everyday that I wasn't doing two years ago. The kids feel like the house is alive again, despite the interim between kids and grand kids. Either positive or negative depending on how you handle it, animals can help you grow leadership and responsibility. The down side, I have a returning medical issue and a heart murmur this year that I didn't have last year. "Just wear and tear," the doctor says. Funny! But assistance dogs might come in handy.

Alot of the people who volunteer to work with animals are burned out on people, or that's what they'll tell you. But maybe God just made them that way, better able to relate to creatures than to people or able to build bridges between man and God's other created critters in a culture where most of our lives are spent mostly with Man in man-made environments.

God uses people and God uses animals in odd ways, sometimes. But everyday I grow more convinced that He's still the source of it all.

Children and Creation

[This post is supposed to follow Puppies 2/07 ]

So here's the question:

Why is it that kids are so facinated with animals and the created natural world?

How do we learn to be good stewards of what God has made?

Where do you go or what do you do to watch, listen, and use your senses to learn from what He's made?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

a time for everything...

My daughter, her friend, and I ran into someone the other day who finds it hard to hear messages at her church with a babe in tow. Together the five of us probably covered three or four generations.

My youngest daughter is a senior in high school now. She was somewhere in the middle of those generations. She said, you know it's really good for kids to do things away from their parents. They have a chance to build relationships with other kids without their parents hanging around involved in everything. Her implication was that Sunday school isn't neccessarily a bad thing. The opportunities for peer leadership and initiative, opportunities for group projects and discussions are all potentially positive.

As far as group dynamics go, from my perspective, kids play before and after multi-generational activities, and that gives them time for peer social dynamics. But adult supervision is usally better in a classroom situation.

I think most of the long-lasting peer relationships in my kids' lives came more through the people they played with regularly house to house, than the people they only saw at church or school. But maybe that's just us.

Ecclesiastes implies that there's a time and a place for everything. For me it's about taking the time to think about what you're doing, why you're doing it, and what you're growing. That's why I started blogging about kids and faith.

When you're building something new, you have opportunity to rethink all the old things most people take for granted. You have a chance to look at the big picture and ask what's working, what isn't, and why. You have a chance to be deliberate about the choices you make.

Maybe it's about recognizing the need for new wine and new wineskins without sacrificing the benefits of the old, and finding ways to make it all work together. It's about creating a place where God wants to be and a faith home where kids want to be, even after they've grown.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Not Funny: Another take on meds

All the info in the last post is definitely blog roll worthy. The only sad part was not having the format - making you have to work for it. But, then my site would be too tekky and it would lose something... lol

My husband somehow has the knack for knowing when to make me laugh and it (usually) eases the tension. If I, on the other hand, try to make someone laugh it just makes things worse.

They say "a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (from Proverbs 17:22A) That's another take on meds. Somehow it's gotten changed to laughter is good medicine but I think it's still true, without mocking or being unkind or disrespectful...

You guys deserve a great deal of respect for what you do. When life gets so intense that you can't laugh anymore, find a place to hide and take Calvin and Hobbes or Get Fuzzy!* or Dave Barry, or B.C. or whatever makes you laugh and just laugh 'til you cry. It's good medicine.

I don't think about humor as being cultural or sub-cultural but it probably is. If you're in a crowd, you notice when someone laughs or doesn't laugh at the same things you do.

*My daughter really likes Get Fuzzy! I always want to call it Where's Fuzzy? She says, It's the only comic strip that tells you what to do. You may need to go north of the border to find it (unless you're already there). I think, it's Canadian.