Monday, September 29, 2008

scattered thoughts about social politics

This is a presidential year but I have nothing to say about national politics. My husband listens and reads a lot from different sources. My daughter's very good friend is working for a regional candidate. All three are knowledgeable, thinking differently and though polite, quite vocal.

I do think about relationships and social politics - group politics - not because I like them or understand them. In my late 40's, I served on what turned out to be a very political school committee (which everyone knew but me long before they ever got involved)

I told a friend "I really hate politics."

She said, "Well, you can't be part of a group and avoid them."

And that was the day I realized why I don't particularly like groups.

Maybe it had something to do with starting kindergarten when I was 4 and being the youngest in my classes at school for the better part of 13 years. Maybe it had something to do with the cliques in Jr. High where I found it so frustrating that you couldn't just like everybody and be friends with everybody. Doesn't matter now. I always had a couple of friends. Not sure how.

I recently learned some great info about canine body language - a different but not so different side of social/relational. I've been doing work I really love, volunteering with people I didn't know very well but who knew each other before I did. It's a bit of a social/relational adventure but I love the work and the people.

So I thought about kids in groups, pondering things that Jesus said about human/relational social politics, things we probably take for granted but I don't know if we actually do them. If we take the things Jesus says seriously and do them, would the group social politics of churches, Sunday schools, and Christian schools look the same as they do in the world?

Do our classrooms look like secular classrooms? If so, why? Should they? How do we reinforce what Jesus teaches in our classrooms? I'm not saying we go for different so we appear different but if we do what Jesus says will our social dynamics look different from those of the rest of the world?

When I was little and in Sunday school I remember hearing the passage, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." and, being a child, I took it literally and being me I decided that I was going to live that way. I remember being very decisive about that. This was a traditional Presbyterian church my parents and grandparents attended - not evangelical or charismatic or Baptist. My sisters will tell you that I was still pretty bossy but I remember a distinct conflict between people telling me I needed to look out for myself and my doing what I understood that passage to mean. Then there was the other side of that passage: if I wanted people to leave me alone, I left them alone. I wouldn't ask someone else to do something I didn't want to do. The theory being in any relationship, if two people are looking out for each other the way he/she would look out for him/herself - one would loan the book and one would give it back or the loaner wouldn't care because every loan - every act of giving- is a gift freely given.

We visited a church one time. Apparently after children's church my youngest daughter (about 6 years old) had been given some new guest gift like candy or something. On the way to class one of the kids befriended her and said, looking at the candy, "Jesus wants us to share," and my daughter, being the conscientious child she was, shared her candy but she was pretty indignant. What do you do in a situation like that? Would you intervene?

Another story: a relative of mine (born-again believer) visited some family members (also born-again believers) in another church and the kids argued over who would bring her to Sunday school and get points for bringing a guest. My relative had a really hard time with that. She felt more like a treasured commodity than she felt like a treasured loved one.

Our own kids would get very very frustrated with us because for us it wasn't about who was right, who was wrong, or even what was just. It was about how you love people and how you respond when someone mistreats you. As the supervising adults, it usually meant adjusting things at both ends.

We have Paul's "one anothers" in the epistles but what does Jesus teach us about groups and social relationships? It appears that Jesus was interacting with groups of people all the time - some on a regular basis. What did it look like? What does it look like for children interacting with one another?

How do we reinforce and model His teaching in our classrooms and churches? How did Jesus model? teach? correct and adjust?

We can regurgitate what we've been taught and what we think we know, but it's never wrong to keep going back to the scriptures to read, listen, and observe. If the spirit of Christ Jesus is living in us He'll continually open up His Word to show us things we didn't or couldn't see before. We'll never stop growing and changing - because we want to know Him and He's promised that if we seek Him with all of our hearts He'll let us find Him.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


If you go to to the book Spirit of the Child by David Hay and Rebecca Nye and look at "people who bought this book also bought" ....there are a lot of new(to me) interesting books out there that weren't there three years ago when I first started this blog. Really interesting cultural changes. "Grace -based Parenting", "Parenting as a Spiritual Journey" - really really interesting.

Friday, September 26, 2008

check this out, too!

If you kept reading David Wakerly's site you would have found this. If not it's worth checking out - Another opportunity to network.

Check it out!

I love this! David Wakerly's 9/25/08 post about irrational!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

new blogett, I mean gadget...

How cool is this? A new techno - gadget called "followers". It doesn't even take up space in my house. And who would ever guess we have followers! Reminds me of facebook. Found the blogett I mean gadget for blog rolls, too, but it looks like more work than I want to do. I post "blogs" because they're interesting not because I follow them all the time - though I try. And all of you are so much more techno-savy than I am . . . and probably have more efficient ways of following the blogs you like!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Group Children's Ministry if it isn't already listed in resources.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fun discovery!

I knew there are many many many kinds of service dogs and therapy dogs. I knew there are organizations training dogs for autistic children. There are dogs who warn children (and adults) of seizure and low blood sugar. I didn't know there are organizations training service dogs as "ministry dogs" - check this out! If you have a wonderfully obediant social dog and you take him/her literally everywhere you go, including worship services, even loud worship services, you are probably creating your own ministry dog.

Service dogs are social but one person dogs by necessity. Most therapy dogs love everyone. I met a staff member from a children's resident rehab facility a few months ago who has a dog who is both and she said it's unusual to find both qualities in the same dog as needed, intuitively and at her direction. Her dog is a dog like that.

If you live in the area where the [NEADS] Laura J. Niles Early Learning Center is located and you don't want a dog for yourself or your kids but you and your kids love dogs, check this out! They have a puppy petting program. Looks like you can go for an hour on a weekday afternoon and just pet and play with puppies! (You're actually helping the organization socialize their dogs. It's called puppy socialization - one of, if not the best thing, you can do for your dog.) How cool is that!

(see tags below - "local" to someone but not to me! kids in community as in "out in the community", serving? no! too much fun - this is a service to the people training service dogs and to those who will someday own and use these dogs, and random speaks for itself!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Jesus Teaching about Prayer

(from Luke 11 NIV)
[the story]

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. [did it matter where?] When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,

[the request]
"Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

[They could have said, "Show us how to do what you just did."]

[the response - say this:]

He said to them, "When you pray, say:
" 'Father,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.' "

[Explanation? Elaboration? - more story]

Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says,

'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.' [Hey Joe? My traveling friend Pete stopped by on his way to ____ I'm out of food. Lend me 3 loaves of bread so I can feed him.]

"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. [a whole lot of interesting relational elements here]

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" [- a good gift]

Interesting. I'm seeing a couple things I never saw before even after 50+ years. I love that about His word.

Monday, September 15, 2008

more prayers

Our prayers for all of you recovering from the effects of Ike from Cincinatti to Corpus Christi. The Lord answered our prayers for our loved ones. He was very gracious to them all.

My daughter just south of here asked us to pray for her yesterday and called a few hours latter to say everything was better. She's been majorly stressed out and sick and overwealmed. My kids get like that. Since she left home, (my youngest) I keep hearing from her about things she's grateful for. Not because she wants something. Just because she's grateful. All of my kids seem to be doing that since they've been away from home more -pretty amazing- glad about this and that and grateful for things most people take for granted.

I need to interact with Him more that way, too.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Prayers to those of you in Houston and evacuating down there. I have some family members there. Lots of people, many 20's and under, will be converging on my cousin's house north of the area. If they're able to stay, they may still find themselves without electricity. It's never been fun to be in a storm when all the wires are dead if it lasts more than a day or two. We found ways to feed ourselves, stay warm and amuse ourselves. But if I had a house full of teens and young kids in a storm today?

How much of the life of the children (and adults) in your life depends on TV, computers, and video games? Gas stoves. Battery powered gadgets work for a while. Wi Fi and cell phones, maybe. How much of a child's ability to entertain him/herself today depends on electricity? Pray for the parents and kids in Houston. Talk about stress.

Grace, wisdom, patience, endless creativity, and the ability to savor laughable moments in the serious face of disastor.

Monday, September 08, 2008

More Adventures with Psalms

A couple more ideas for Psalm reading:

I was reading Psalm 143. Here are some possible learning activities:

1) Each participant finds a space. Participants can: mime, dance, write, draw, other(?) But they can't make any noise and they can't leave their space. "Imagine yourself the Psalmist - the speaker, the writer, the singer. Reenact it. Re-create the scene." Leader reads the Psalm out loud, a couple verses at a time.

2) Work in 2's or 3's if they want but still no sound, still can't leave their space.

3) Create 3+ person skits from a Psalm or part of a Psalm. _ minutes of prep time. (Make the prep time shorter than you think they need so they have to work) __ presentation time. Keep it short to start with. There's a place where setting time limits setting constraints stimulates more creative thinking. There's another place where you need time and space to solve and discover, a place where you can't rush the process.

4) Read the Psalm and ask sensory questions: 1. What do you see happening? 2. What do you hear? 3. What do you smell? 4. What do you feel? (hands) 5. What do you feel (heart?) 6. What does it make you think about? Why?

Do any of these verses or activities cause you to remember a time when you were in a place like this with God?

This kind of activity is probably for older kids because it requires thinking outside the box but sometimes older kids have become so conditioned to traditional learning that they can't think outside the box anymore and any non-traditional approach to learning frustrates them so much that they can't do simple activities that require simple but creative problem-solving.

I was in a college course that took a discovery (teacher-isn't-going-to-tell-you- anything, you-have-to-figure-it-out-on-your-own) approach and after the first lab we went from a 12+ to 3 students just because of the professor's empirical approach to the science (empirical - focusing on senses and observation as in God-given senses, and God-given powers of observation).

Not everyone sees the same things. Trained experienced observers see more than casual observers. People and animals who lose the use of one of their senses somehow compensate with their other senses. I'm not even sure every "normal" person sees, hears, tastes, or feels the same things. We think of it as preference but maybe it isn't. I think some people taste more and smell more - as in more details, more distinctions. Maybe it's just a matter of practice. I don't know.

This was a physics class by the way! Physics is way off the bottom of my list of favorite subjects. I hated physics in Jr. high but I loved this discovery focused college level class. 1st lab: every student had 3 tiny cups of white powder. We had to use only our senses and write every observation we could make. We had to figure even that much out for ourselves. The professor didn't tell us anything. He left the room. What were the substances? Were they all the same? Could we taste or smell them? Were they poison? He wouldn't tell us. He left the room. Maybe after 30-45 minutes of student frustation in a 3 hour lab he came back and told us that. I think that was the deciding moment when we lost 3/4 of the class. From that point on every class got better! We discovered literal black boxes and whirling dervishes.

Faith is believing what you can't see, hear, taste, touch, smell yet God gave us the capability to experience life with a body loaded with sensory capabilities. An enigma of opposites.

Aren't we more apt to remember what we actually discover and experience for ourselves than only what we're told? How does that work in scripture? Does God tell us everything? Did Jesus tell us everything? Did they ever use a discovery approach? Did they ever leave something for the listener to figure out? How does that work in faith ed? Is it legitimate to use a creative problem-solving-discovery approach to learning in faith education? How do we do it?

RCBF 2008

Rochester Children's Book Festival 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
10 am to 4 pm

Save the date! Free unless you buy books but if you buy books and pick a time of day when the lines are short you can get them signed (for free) and meet. some fun people. Lots of presentations and workshops all day, including teen authors in the afternoon, and the activity room for kids. If your kids like art, there will be illustrators there, too.

I'm in charge of BBWP this year. Lots to do. Prayers would be nice!

Puppy Update

Did I tell you we had victory at the vets? God is good. We did the party approach. Took Ellie and Nyah together and two kids. Ellie actually let the vet come within 2 feet of her and almost touch her - no teeth or aggressive wierdness. We spent the better part of this year playing with a scarf muzzle, hugging, restraining, brushing, playing Fisher-Price doctor kit games with lots of hotdogs-even without hotdogs . They always run to their crate and hide after the painless flea med application but now, Ellie comes back out of her crate faster than Nyah. I have funny wierd dogs. We keep working on Ellie and social every time I pick up flea and heartworm meds. Nyah was good. She likes the vet - not going to the vet but she likes the vet.

Woke up yesterday morning and looked at Nyah sleeping on the floor in my room and it looked like she'd gone to the emergency room and had her paws wrapped while I was sleeping. Tape. Random white tape. Nobody seems to know how or what or where she found it. I soaked both paws with a wet cloth thinking it would come off easier. One paw went pretty quickly. Not too traumatic. I could step on the end, she walked away and the tape came off but she was pretty distraught. Think fur and paw pads here.

Most of it was loose enough that we could do a little of Mom holding tape and Nyah pulling away. With the long pieces we tried Mom stepping on the end of the tape and Nyah pulling. It worked pretty well but not fun for the dog. Tape kept coming off but there was always more. When we did it outside (so she had an outdoor place to pee) she just wanted to bolt. Hotdogs were pretty irrelevant. Kept soaking her feet with a wet wash cloth. That was ok. Lots of breaks inbetween. By the time I left the house (2 1/2 hours) most of it was off except for the bottom of one paw. While I was gone, the kids took her out to play and run and get wet. By the time I got back (5 hours later) it was all clear.

Today, she's my friend again but out of sorts. Have no idea where she found it to begin with. None of us do. The days of hanging out waiting for young adults kids to come home after Mom goes to sleep are over. I should have taken a picture. It really was wrapped up enough to look like a bandage. I'm thinking she will never again touch a roll of anything sticky or she will never again touch a trash can. Either way, not all bad unless her stomach looks like her foot. Then we're in big big trouble.

We don't get bored around here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lost link

If I posted this article about Emerging Adulthood from USA Today (published in Dec. 2007) the link has since been lost. Here it is again. It's worth revisiting.

What do you think? In your cultural social community, at what point does a child become an adult? How do you know? How does the child know? What changes? Is it the same for everyone? Is it something we encourage or discourage? How do we encourage or discourage? Is that deciding moment important? Why?

When my son was in elementary school he went with his dad to help renovate the church building. When the men stopped to have coffee, my husband offered him a cup of coffee because he spent a half day working just as hard as the men. You can debate the health and safety issues but the heart of the matter was the work he did and the acknowlegement he received. It was a big deal. Was he forever an adult after that moment? [smile] Not yet. But it was one of those moments he'll never forget.

Coming-of-age/age of accountability/responsibility . . . What parts are cultural? What parts are Biblical? What do the scriptures say or imply about accountability and responsibility? I think of other times and cultures actively teaching children about consequences and actively holding children responsible for their choices. I see them giving children more and more work and responsibility (as they can handle it) - work that's important to the welfare of community. But there is a moment when the entire community recognize these children as full-fledged adults. They aren't perfectly grown up but something changes. In most cultures, it's physical.

Not so in our culture.

What messages do we send to kids/teens/tweens about growing up? How do we communicate what we believe? Is growing up, carrying responsibility, being independent something to be proud of or something to put off and avoid? Do the rituals that we do participate in produce better adjusted, hard-working responsible God-fearing adults? What does?

Eliminating middle management

Don't know if I posted this before. Didn't find it.

Posted about a year ago, thinking and implementing outside the box, Emerging Worshipper describes their rather unique approach to Children's Ministry management.