7 Quick Takes: VBS Edition

7 Quick Takes

I’ve been helping Resurreccion with VBS this week. Here are the highlights!

— 1 —

Being able to be useful. I’m one of the few native Californians that doesn’t speak Spanish (I understand it but can’t speak it) and there was already a church youth group doing the program so I offered to just be an extra set of hands whenever I was able this week. This meant washing dishes for Christ. πŸ™‚ They needed someone to do the breakfast dishes so I jumped to it. I may or may not have flooded the kitchen (twice) on Tuesday but I figured stuff out so that I was able to do all of it on my own on Wednesday. I’m bummed that I woke up with a migraine this morning and didn’t get to help. πŸ™

— 2 —

Learning how to play Uno in Spanish. The church doing the program had math board games and card games for the kids and that included Uno. Most of the kids knew how to play it but one little girl didn’t… and didn’t understand a lot of English. I learned (and in a few cases reinforced) my colors in Spanish and learned the word for “zero” in order to explain what card she needed to play. (Like most kids who grew up watching Sesame Street, I did know how to count to ten.)

— 3 —

Doing the “Penguin Song” with some of the kiddos. Because it is *ALWAYS* appropriate to sing at VBS!

— 4 —

Teaching my kiddos to sing “When I Was One”. We had kids as young as 3 and it’s kind of hard to find math boardgames to do with them (they eventually just had them do extra playground time) so I did “When I Was One” with my younger kids to reinforce their numbers in English and because it’s fun. πŸ™‚

— 5 —

Learned my numbers up to 20 in Spanish. One of the helpers with the math games had the same idea I had: drilling the younger kids on numbers and having them yell them back in Spanish.

— 6 —

Learned some new games. This one was popular with the kiddos.

— 7 —

Gave a lot of high fives to kids. When I was playing “Set” with some of the littler kids, I’d give them high-fives when they made a set because social praise is a fabulous reinforcer. Their smiles were so incredibly wonderful.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: First Week of School Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

My Practical Accounting class. I love the class so much that I made myself late for choir practice last night so I could get the worksheet of class examples to balance. (The fact that Mount Vernon has the crappiest way of doing street repairs and closures also made me late because a large chunk of Division was closed and I had to take Fir to Riverside to Fulton to some other street to Kincaid to get to my church on 18th.) I also worked through some things in my workbook that aren’t required just to give myself some extra practice.

— 2 —

My Excel class. The book and workbook are still MIA so we have some temporary online codes for the e-book and SNAP. I’m really wanting my print book because it’s kind of annoying to have to jump between the window with the e-book and Excel while working on projects and exercises.

— 3 —

Fitting in. I thought I’d be the oldest in a class of 18-20 year olds. I was wrong. My Practical Accounting class is a good mix of ages and I’m liking this mixture a lot. We do have some youngsters but also people my age and some who are older.

— 4 —

CCF. When I walked into the student center on Tuesday at noon, the Campus Christian Fellowship was tabling. (“Tabling” means that they had a table with information and a sign-up sheet for emails about activities.) I signed up to get emails on events and I’ll be heading to hang out with them for dinner and Bible study tonight. They also have a chapel service on Tuesday during the noon hour and I will definitely attend those as they seem like a nice break in my day.

Honestly, I’m looking forward to religious activities like this where I’m just going as “Jen” and not “Pastor Jon’s wife Jen who we expect to know everything about all that is happening despite the fact that we did not call HER as the pastor and she has her hands full with a full-time job or a kiddo with special needs”.

— 5 —

Prayer request. Please keep my dear friend Eileen and her family in prayer as she deals with the passing of her father. She is one of the deepest and wisest people and I hate that she is having to grieve, though she would be one of the first to tell me that it is a part of life.

— 6 —

The Skittles meme from Donald Trump Jr. In case you didn’t read my post from Tuesday, let me explain why Donald Trump Jr.’s Skittles meme is so horrific.

1.) Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. Wrigley, the maker of Skittles, responded as such to Trump Jr.

2.) Trump Jr. used the picture from a refugee photographer without said photographer’s permission. The photographer is horrified by how his picture was used and has emphatically said that Trump Jr. did not have permission to use it. Seriously, Junior. Didn’t your dad teach you not to take things without permission??? Oh wait…

3.) The idea behind the Skittles example originated with a children’s book by Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher. Lest you think I am making this up, the link to my source is here and Snopes.Com backs me up.

And for the record, I would totally eat a handful of Skittles and I would joyfully accept every refugee. SKITTLES ARE CANDY AND REFUGEES ARE PEOPLE, CHILDREN OF THE LIVING GOD WHO DESERVE BETTER THAN TO BE TREATED LIKE A DISPOSABLE COMMODITY.

— 7 —

Srsly?!?!? My backpack with my accounting book and working papers fell off the chair next to me at Starbux and the two people in my part of the restaurant gave me nasty looks even after I said, “Sorry.” Y’all, I’m sorry that my accounting book weighs more than Daniel does and that the sound disturbed you sitting there and drinking coffee. To be fair, the two of you are now having incredibly loud conversations with other people and I’m not giving you snotty looks. Try to show a modicum of compassion, m’kay?

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Ways to Have a Good Rapport with Your Church Kids

7 Quick Takes

One of my church kids from Montana just got married last month and I just found out that she’s pregnant. She was one of the few people (like 2-3) I trusted with Daniel after he got out of the NICU so I’m ecstatic for her and I know she’ll be a FABULOUS mama.

This news and other news I got via Facebook got me thinking about all of my church kids from the last 14 years. Jon and I have always made an effort to keep a good rapport with our church kids and in my case, some of them have talked to me about things that they were afraid to tell their parents. (Don’t worry — I’m aware that I am a mandatory reporter and my rule is that I’ll listen but I am not keeping any secrets that will harm them or someone else.) Given that all of this is on my mind, I thought I would share some things I found helpful as a pastor’s wife and some things that I continue to find helpful as an adult in the church.

To give my kiddos some privacy, names have been changed to those of Anglican saints and I’ll tend to combine several similar stories into one.

— 1 —

Learn their names. This one is a no brainer. I know that I hated it when people referred to me as “Pastor Jon’s wife” rather than my actual name because it made me feel like I wasn’t worth their time. And seriously, “Jen” is not to spell or pronounce. πŸ™‚ Actually learning the names of your church kids shows them that they’re worth it. Bonus points are awarded if you remember that little Etheldreda prefers to go by “Dreda”.

— 2 —

Sit with them at coffee hour or at a potluck. I have seen occasions in churches where the adults all separate into groups and completely ignore the kids. The adults who have the best rapport with the kids are the ones who go and sit with them and talk to them. You are completely welcome to “table-surf” and go hang with the adults as well but consider spending 5 minutes talking to the kids and listening to what they are talking about. If a kid is sitting alone reading a book, go sit with them and ask them about what they are reading. You might learn something. I know that Hildegard, one of my kiddos in northern California, educated me on the Divergent series and The Fault in Our Stars.

— 3 —

If they do something amazing, congratulate them. I promise that it will not give them a big head if you congratulate little Edith Cavell Jones on scoring that winning goal in the field hockey match last Thursday. She will think it was cool that you noticed.

— 4 —

Involve them in something you are doing. When I would have to do some baking for work or for a potluck in Montana, I used to invite some of the kids over individually (usually with a parent) to come and help. Most of them were involved in 4-H or Girl Scouts so it usually satisfied some kind of badge or program requirement and it was just a fun time to get to know them.

Another fun one was when kids would come and hang out with me at community events where I had crocheting with me. They’d sit next to me and we would crochet a row together with my hand guiding their hands. One of my prized possessions is a picture that one of them drew of me crocheting at one of these events.

Karlie's pic of me crocheting

— 5 —

If you have something judgmental to say, bite your tongue. To quote the book of Ecclesiastes:

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.

I have seen just about everything on the planet as a pastor’s wife and then as an adult in the parish. I have seen more teen pregnancies and pregnancies out of wedlock than I can count on fingers and toes. I have seen people develop drinking problems. In the last week or so, I learned that one of my kids who used to be Josephine Butler Yeats is now Joseph Butler Yeats. Whether or not I agree with the idea of people being transgendered, it is not for me to comment on to anyone in public. If you think that the kiddos are not paying attention to your words and actions on the subject, you are sorely mistaken. I have watched kids shut down completely around certain adults who desire to be Titus 2 women but who come off as shrill, judgmental, gossipy, and critical.

Probably the best example of this was when Ninian and Hilda Beckett’s daughter got pregnant by her boyfriend at the age of 21. I had someone say to me in a very catty fashion that they were scandalized and had no idea what to say to Ninian and Hilda. The response I would have loved to say was “How about ‘congratulations on your grandchild’?” (Unfortunately, I was sitting in their parlor on a pastoral visit and it seemed wrong to break out the snark while enjoying their hospitality.) When the baby was baptized at one of the churches in the parish, there were some people who were up in arms over the fact that Jon allowed this. (Another Lutheran pastor came and did the baptism.) They said these things in the presence of some of the church kids and guess who the kids went silent around after that?

You are more than welcome to disagree with someone’s decision but seriously, watch what you say.

— 6 —

Teach them how to be adults in the church. In Jon’s first two parishes, we had kids doing everything from serving as organists to ushering to lectoring to leading the nursing home services. It was great because they knew from an early age that they belonged in church and the church was interested in letting them share their gifts. I wouldn’t advocate for a 16 year old to serve on the finance committee but church councils could benefit from a youth member as could call committees. I have seen some of the youth ask better questions than the adults. πŸ™‚

— 7 —

If you share a building with another congregation and they worship in a language other than English, try learning a few words of that language. My church in Washington has a Spanish language service and currently, they’re hanging out with us on Sundays. They’re the service that has most of the kids and it has been really wonderful to watch the adults who attend my service interacting with the kids. My Spanish is incredibly bad (I was passably good at Spanglish until I spent nine years in the Midwest and didn’t use it) and occasionally French comes out instead; but they seem to be pretty happy that I’m trying. At least, none of them are face-palming at my horrible Spanish in my presence. πŸ™‚

— Bonus —

Be authentic in your faith. “Authentic” seems to be an evangelical buzz word these days but I think that its meaning is well understood. Being authentic in your faith means being honest about teachings with which you struggle, that you don’t know everything, and that you are persevering through because you believe in your heart that God is present in all these things. It is completely OK to say something like “this is a hard teaching for me because [insert concise and tactful explanation]” or to respond to questions they ask with “I don’t know the answer but I am willing to find it for you.” I have never had a kid in Confirmation or youth group mock me for not knowing an answer and some of them were more willing to talk to me about what they believed because I was honest with them about my faith.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Is The Week Over Yet????

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

The Pope and female deacons. I’m seeing some flipping out over the announcement by the National Catholic Reporter that the Pope is creating a commission to study women deacons. Yeah… not a world-changing issue. If the Pope does anything, the result will probably look like what deaconesses do in the LCMS, effectively just being dedicated church workers who happen to be female. I don’t think female deacons/deaconesses will do any baptisms/weddings/funerals or anything like that.

— 2 —

#NeverTrump I just want to make it incredibly clear that there is no valid reason for voting for Donald Trump. NONE. Seriously, neither former president Bush is endorsing him and neither is Paul Ryan. These are three people with knowledge of the job and of how the government works. (Yes, I am siding with those three. Hell has indeed frozen over.)

#NeverTrump

Oh… and in case anyone was wondering, I would say the same things about the Cruz/Carly ticket, if not making worse criticisms. Trump is a blowhard saying what he says — Ted Cruz actually *BELIEVES* it. I’m honestly not sure who is more unfit of the Cruz/Carly duo — even John Boehner had foul things to say about Ted Cruz (with whom he *WORKED* and who was on THE SAME SIDE) and I tend to side with Boehner on this. (And yes, I actually said I was agreeing with John Boehner. Start watching for the four horsemen of the apocalypse to appear in the sky.) Carly Fiorina has no legislative experience and she completely screwed up Hewlett-Packard, laying off a number of my classmates’ parents. In short, that ticket would have screwed up the country as much as Trump will if he is elected.

— 3 —

So… who to vote for instead of Trump? Do what all the other intelligent Republicans are doing — FIND ANOTHER CANDIDATE. Here is a lovely story on the subject. And Republicans, if you actually want my vote and my support, try running someone articulate and intelligent who has more than a middle school knowledge of how the government works.

— 4 —

Yet another reason the pro-life movement can be an embarrassment. Simcha Fisher had this lovely tweet a few days ago:

Dear #prolife organizations: If there’s no one good to endorse, you don’t have to endorse anyone. Easy peasy, no soul-selling necessary.

Their endorsement of Trump is one of many reasons I will *NEVER* give money to Priests for Life or the Susan B. Anthony List. Shame on you!

— 5 —

Drop boxes for babies. Simcha had a fabulous piece on the Safe Haven drop boxes for babies that are being put into place in Indiana. It’s a good idea because they would allow mothers to surrender their babies in such a way as to put them in a safe place that protects the child and also allows authorities to automatically be notified that the child is there. The mom could remain anonymous and it would mean that there would not be any babies left in toilets or dumpsters. (The founder of the company making the boxes, herself, was a child conceived from a rape and her mom abandoned her at the hospital as a newborn.)

She also describes the combox on the original Gawker piece and it’s definitely one that I would not read even if I was paid to do so.

— 6 —

Prayer request. I managed to get a rheumatology appointment for next week. Could you please pray that we can get records sent to them so that I’m not walking in there without any documentation of my fibromyalgia? Thanks! This is really my only shot of getting a gabapentin prescription and I’m definitely having issues with the lowered dose.

— 7 —

Special intention. I know I’m vague-blogging again but I could use prayer for a special intention. Please and thank you!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

{five favorites}: Miscellanea (LXI)

#5Faves

One

Orthodox Celts. This is another installment of “Jen is a music snob” but I love the vocal harmonies that are reminiscent of what I hear when I’m listening to Eastern Orthodox liturgical music to fall asleep at night. And seriously, what is with the step-dancing on the cliffs in “Rocky Road to Dublin”?!?!?!?

Two

The High Kings. They are probably my favorite for “Rocky Road of Dublin” and “The Little Beggarman”. I like their version of “MΓ iri’s Wedding” but not as much as the version by Van Morrison and the Chieftains.

Three

Austism-friendly activity bags. Two ELCA congregations in Pennsylvania made autism-friendly activity bags. I’m seriously wanting one for my kiddo!

Four

Office supplies. Staples is my idea of nirvana. πŸ™‚ I got a back-up set of pens for my planner (because it’s color-coded) and I almost started drooling in the three aisles of Tar-zhay that had binders and notebooks and pens.

Five

My friend John. I did something somewhat stupid and got into a fight with someone on his Facebook wall over an asinine statement that Muslims have to stop using the name Allah because it’s the Arabic word for “God” and they should have to use a different word. (Trust me… it was pretty bad.) I had history and linguistics on my side but the guy was seriously nasty to me. John not only backed me up but unfriended the guy for his treatment of me. John is the guy I trusted to be Daniel’s buddy last summer during VBS — he is a stand-up guy and the person I go to if I have *ANY* weaponry questions because he knows his stuff. πŸ™‚ I know he’ll catch flak from some of his Facebook groups for backing me up and I appreciate it especially because of that.

Go love up Ashley and the others.

7 Quick Takes: Please Iz Can It Be Caturday?!?!?!?!?

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

A quickie explanation of the Protestant Reformation. This is seriously cracking me up but it is historically accurate.

— 2 —

Interesting pastor bios. I’m greatly amused at what came about from the #realclergybios hashtag on Twitter. Some were funny, some were serious, and all were pretty realistic.

— 3 —

An oldie but goodie. This piece has been around for a year but is timeless. You should share it with all the medical professionals you know.

— 4 —

Predictions about the faith in the future. My former bishop shared this on Facebook yesterday, It’s 10 predictions about the future Church and shifting attendance patterns. I think it’s probably applicable across the board.

— 5 —

An interesting link-up. Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy is doing a link-up of the things that are saving my life right now. As soon as I’m done with this, I’ll go make and add my list.

— 6 —

Disputing the reigning theory about cat-calling. Christen Brandt of NYC manages to nail why cat-calling is not dependent on one’s outfit. Apparently, a guy on a subway started saying things like “damn, nice legs” to her… when she was wearing a heavy parka and boots because apparently the 5 inches of legs that were showing were there just for him. I’ve gotten cat-called while wearing clothes that don’t even show the shape of my body before and I am a bit aggravated that some men’s lack of boundaries are being blamed on us women.

— 7 —

Picking my Lenten discipline. Y’all have 9 hours to go before the raffle ends to pick my Lenten discipline. There have been some pretty good suggestions thus far.

**UPDATE** The winner is Laura of Coptic Dad and Mom!!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Refugee Takes, School, and Choral Evensong

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Refugee take #1. The French are suggesting that we use “Da’esh” instead of ISIS. This is why. It actually makes sense.

— 2 —

Refugee take #2. Not all Muslims agree with Da’esh. (The vast, vast majority find them despicable.) The closest Muslims to what they believe are the Wahhabis who control things in Saudi Arabia. This piece explains why. It’s also why Saudi Arabia has not taken any refugees thus far — they don’t take Christians (the country is officially 100% Muslim and those who convert to something else face death) and it’s a Sunni Muslim theocracy so any Shi’a Muslims are out of luck.

— 3 —

Refugee take #3. I have seen some pretty foul behavior from my fellow Christians over the whole refugee issue in talking about how we should not welcome refugees to the USA and this is one of those times when I actually *AM* calling out people in my own life for their behavior. (I’m usually pretty reserved, but not on this subject.) Jamie the Very Worst Missionary actually has a pretty good take on all of this. Ditto with Ryan Dueck.

I think my friend Sarah of Fumbling toward Grace put it best when she quoted something she had read at the beginning of the refugee crisis (and she would like me to clarify that she can’t remember who said it):

“We don’t help refugees because they are Christian. We help refugees because we are Christian.” (emphasis mine)

— 4 —

Refugee take #4. To maybe shut a few people up and remove the complete atmosphere of unfounded fear that seems to be pervasive, here is what *ACTUALLY* happens with refugees and immigration from an *ACTUAL* immigration attorney.

Now can the fearmongering stop?

— 5 —

The school sitch. Daniel *FINALLY* started school up here this week. He was a little nervous on Monday (his first day) but when he saw the toys, he looked at me and said “bye!” which was my cue to leave. He seems to like his class, his teachers, his aides, and his therapists thus far and I’m hoping it remains a good school and a good program for him.

— 6 —

Choral Evensong. We have a new rector at my church in San Jose and she is a fan of choral evensong so we’re doing it for the Thanksgiving service next Tuesday night. If you’re in the area, let me know and I’ll give you the details!

— 7 —

Gary Haugen’s TED talk. Fifteen years ago, I heard Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission speak at Urbana 2000. It changed my life and the way I look at a lot of the world. (You can watch it here.) He’s done a TED talk. Go watch it! Do it now!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.