To The Moms: Just Stop It

23 05 2015

JustMeLeena:

This is sooo good! “You are enough.”.

Originally posted on The Accidental Missionary:

I got home after midnight from a business trip last night. That’s probably why I didn’t notice it until the morning. This bag. Alone. On the kitchen table.

Moms bag

Normally, getting my kids to the breakfast table is like trying to coax a couple of cats into a swimming pool. As soon as they wake up, they hide under blankets on the couch and make strange noises. But this morning was a different story.

Audrey came out of the bedroom, wiped the sleep from her eyes, and went right to the table. She sat in front of the bag with a smile on her face.

“What’s the bag for?” I asked as I created my super-duper breakfast parfaits. Colorful layers of yogurt, fruit, and cereal.

“We got it for our end-of-year party yesterday.” She reached into the bag.

“What did you get?”

She started pulling out different items and commenting.

“Goldfish…

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Seven reasons church attendance is difficult when kids have mental illness…

5 05 2015

JustMeLeena:

These are very real barriers for families – children and their parents/grandparents/(whoever might bring them to church), making it difficult to attend worship, classes and events. This wasy my family growing up, plus my parents were divorced and dad lived close enough for every other weekend visitation, those perfect attendance pins and rewards in Sunday school were constant reminders of the brokenness and difficulties in our lives. How do we not only include these families, allowing for safe spaces to return when they are feeling bold and able?

Originally posted on Church4EveryChild:

depressed teenWe as the church do a lousy job of welcoming and including families of children and teens with mental illness or trauma histories. I’d argue that a major reason why we struggle is the absence of an agreed-upon model for a mental health inclusion ministry for kids.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our team at Key Ministry needs to, at the very least, put forth a conceptual model for a mental health/trauma inclusion ministry that could be implemented by churches of all sizes, denominations and organizational styles. This model would be continually tested and refined through the experiences of ministry partners everywhere seeking to include kids and teens with ADHD, anxiety, attachment issues, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress and difficulties with social communication and interaction. Today, we’ll start by identifying seven reasons church attendance/participation is difficult for families of kids with mental illness.

Barrier #1. Social isolation

Families of kids with many of…

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Children’s Book Review: The Story of King Jesus by Ben Irwin

17 04 2015

Bob Irwin FullSizeRender   “The Story of King Jesus” by Ben Irwin is a great new book brought to us by David C. Cook publishing! It is a refreshing perspective of the Bible in a nutshell that incorporates Creation, the calling of Israel, the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and why all of that is important for people today and in the future – God is renewing creation with his love (including humankind) and we are called to help further this mission to the time of completion that will occur when king Jesus returns. Ben Irwin, of course, doesn’t use as big of words to communicate his interpretation of Genesis through Revelation with young and elementary age children.

I read this to my own daughters (ages 7 and 10 years) and my seminarian theology-geek heart was filled with joy because it sums up what I’ve been learning about through my masters of divinity classes (canonical approach!) and the perspective of God that I’ve for so long attempted to communicate to children and their parents as a children’s minister.

Parents and children’s ministry (kidmin) leaders – Sometimes it is hard to teach children about Jesus’s death without instilling fear of death or scaring them with images of nails and blood and violence. Let’s be real – violence happens all throughout the Bible and is an important part of the story and the reason why God is wanting to reclaim and redeem the world. Bob Irwin does excellent work explaining certain situations – people fighting, Israelites being thrown into captivity because they didn’t follow God, wrong doings of many of Israel’s kings,seeming silence of God, Jesus arrested in the garden and death on the cross – in a way that says “This is/was not OK, it hurts and is sad, BUT THERE IS HOPE”. The illustrator of “The Story of King Jesus” – Nick Lee – also does beautiful and amazing work portraying these scenes in a powerful, meaningful and not-overbearing manner.

My 10 year old is an aspiring artist (loves to draw!) and she was highly impressed with the illustrations in this book. Her only dig was “why does everyone draw Adam and Eve as naked behind the bushes?”. Silly girl! My seven year old daughter was able to understand the story and even tell other parts that weren’t specifically mentioned, but she could look at the pictures and without reading the words and understand what is being depicted.

I highly recommend “The Story of King Jesus” to anyone looking for a good solid canonical theology of Genesis to Revelation children’s book and for folks looking for artwork to depict the Bible as well. I thought it would be thicker than it was but it is a thin 24 page book, which I then assumed would be simple and cute – yet it is packed with information and it is not too overwhelming unless you have a wiggly child – then you might break it up into parts reading over a few bedtime story sessions.

Check it out – Bob Irwin’s “The Story of King Jesus” today, comment on this post today and WIN A COPY of “The Story of King Jesus” by Bob Irwin!!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have an opportunity to give away one free “The Story of King Jesus” book to one special random drawing winner.

How to Enter (now through Sunday, April 19th):

  1. Leave your name and reason why you’d like a copy of this book in the comments below for one entry.
  2. Share this post via Facebook, Twittter, Google+, and even pin to Pinterest and then leave a comment telling me where you’ve shared.

I’ll draw a name at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 19th, 2015 – get your entries in and if you think of someone else who might love this book, be sure to share this post with them so they can enter as well.

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase the book you can find it at:

ChristianBooks.com  | ThoughtfulChristian.com | Barnes and NobleAmazon.com

or your local independent bookstore!

BTW – the only compensation I receive for this post is a copy of the book to use for review and promise of a giveaway book to my readers upon review.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment to enter the drawing!!

 





How do I get (my) kids to go to church?!

12 03 2015

JustMeLeena:

As “church” is being redefined everywhere – this question comes up for a lot of people I have conversations with – online and in person. “wHY CHURC – not just for kids, grow ups as well. I think this blogpost is a great piece to start the conversation among church members, among family members and even individual with God.What do you think?

Originally posted on Feet in, Arms out:

This picture kind of scares me. But, hey, kids in church! This picture kind of scares me. But, hey, kids in church! Why are they crying? Is it that bad?!?!

This past fall I received quite a few emails that went something like this, “I really want my child to be involved in campus ministry, but s/he just isn’t interested? What can I do?” Pastors, youth directors, church leaders and parents hear and ask this question a lot. How can we get kids and young adults to a) go to church b) not hate it and c) keep coming into adulthood? As the church frets about declining numbers, it is a reflex to try to do whatever we can to get young people in the pews. We start new programs, look to hire young pastors, change worship and do all kind of things to get children and young adults into the doors. Parents cajole, they bribe, engage in yelling matches, and…

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Mark the Curious Courtesy Clerk – déjà vu?

4 03 2015

Selling Girl Scout cookies with one of my daughters on Saturday at a Safeway in Shoreline – a courtesy clerk with a disability asked me my first, middle, and last name and introduced himself as “Mark”. He had dark hair, glasses and was a bit shorter than me. I actually didn’t worry about this because he reminds me of someone I once met – and I wonder if actually he was the same guy. 

 Once upon a time when I was a sophomore in college (well the summer between freshman and sophomore years) I worked at a special needs day camp in Blaine for a month. For four weeks I was a camp counselor with he counselors and had a different group of campers to work with each week. I remember less than 24 hours of training and then we were to help persons with various disabilities and special needs have a great time at a week of day camp. We were given care over groups of 4-6 people ages 8-80 and my campers definitely spanned those ages. Each week I was “randomly” assigned the toughest camper to care for and it became sort of a joke between the directors and myself – it was a truly  physically and emotionally challenging month. At the end, this “Little Red” camp counselor was given an award for the most patience and compassion.

A glimpse of my charges:  I remember a tween who needed a wheelchair and walker and had a developmental delay – but not an affection for boys delay, her hormones were kicking in right on time. She only listened to the male counselors and literally hated me because I was a girl – I had both the wheel chair and walker thrown at me through the week. I remember an elderly woman whose legs were no longer functioning and several times we were so understaffed that I had to help her use the restroom – lifting her to the toilet and she was a mean old lady yelling every cuss word I the book at me. I knew though she was a victim of elder abuse and I did my best to care for her regardless. Those were my my most challenging campers. Then there was a young man about 17 who was kinda cute (hey- I was 19!), he had a mild developmental delay and his hip was a little off kilter. He followed me everywhere and was comical and liked to shoot hoops.  I could tell he was loved by people at home. (We had mixed gender groups by the way). I remember a gentleman with Down syndrome who wore a cowboy hat and wanted to snuggle with all of us ladies – I’m pretty certain he left with a girlfriend (another camper).  And there was this guy Mark, who I remember as autistic and since the movie “Rainman” was popular then he was easily compared to the main character played by Dustin Hoffman. Mark would ask us our full name and birthdate at the start of the week – when he met you again at various points of the week you give him your name and he’d tell you your birthday plus the day of the week you were born. It was pretty amazing. And I’m pretty sure he is the Mark who introduced himself tone over the weekend. I half hoped and expected him to tell me he remembered my name and birthday. Alas, no such luck – but how amazing if he is the same guy and almost 20 years later he is working there and still able to be his same question asking self. Makes my heart warm to think it possible. 





I’m a Seminarian! (Long-ish Overdue Post)

19 02 2015

I’m a seminarian and life is super crazy and chaotic because of it – but I’m loving it. I’m studying for a Masters in Divinity at Seattle Pacific Seminary (at Seattle Pacific University) because it is a requirement for ordination both within the PC-USA and ELCA (my heart is currently tied to both denominations). Generally, the program takes 4 years of full-time study. I’ve begun at 2/3rds time with 8 credits which feels like a lot more than full time. It will possibly take me 6-8 years to complete, hopefully earlier rather than later, we’ll see where God leads me.

In June my ministry position at Lake City Presbyterian was reduced to half-time (salary and time), I was re-offered the position which is focused on children’s, youth and family ministry as well as LCPC Social Media and other bits of Christian Education. So I”m working half-time, mom and wife full-time and seminarian 2/3rds time. Woot!

In the middle of my second quarter of my first year. Studying is a complete firehose of information – LOTS of reading, pondering, writing, and praying but I”m loving it. SPS has three core lines and a Practicum required for every student (even 2 yrs – Master of Theology students). The cores are: Theological Interpretation of Scripture, Theology and Ethics of Triune God, and Global Christian History. I am “only” taking two of the lines this year and will take the third (GCH) next year. Each core line involves three quarters of classes. Scripture was general interpretation introduction last quarter, Old Testament this quarter, and New Testament next quarter. Theology and Ethics was God and the Environment (Creation) last quarter, Jesus – Christology and Discipleship this quarter, and a focus on the Holy Spirit next quarter.

Additionally every first year is required to participate in a Practicum class for a year – most other programs define this as field work and reflection and it is a bit different and time consuming at SPS, but I really like it. Practicum involves four components: A typed weekly reflection connecting our studies with life outside of school (ministry, family, work, etc); Meeting with an assigned mentor three times each quarter; Meeting weekly for an hour with a class meeting small group facilitated by a student who is a few years into the program, and a 30 hour project of our choice connecting our current studies with our life/ministry.

I love my practicum mentor – I was connected with a woman Presbyterian pastor of a church in Seattle who ironically was mentored by the pastor I work with at LCPC when she was a seminarian!

This quarter we had the option of choosing to read a book and use it in our reflections each week. Crazy to choose more reading, but I did and I’m glad. If you are a ministry leader of any kind (professional, volunteer, church, non-church, lay leader, etc) check out “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership” by Ruth Haley Barton. The author uses the life of Moses to focus on the ups and downs of ministry and the difficulty yet necessity of caring for your own soul while caring for other’s souls.

I am learning a lot and gaining new fresh perspectives and tools for studying scripture and thinking about God that are definitely applicable to my ministry now and practical pieces I can share with others in my congregation and life in general.

Two things I’ve realized this quarter:

* Sometimes I can be creative to finish my reading, sometimes I can’t. Not a single book from any of my classes are on Kindle this quarter – ALL of them were last quarter and I was extremely spoiled by the ability to switch my iPhone/iPad to the Voice Over accessibility feature (thank you Aaron Willett for turning me on to this tip!!) and it turned my texts into audio books for my 45-60 minute drives between home and school – or even while I’m in the shower or doing dishes (TMI?). Also with the Kindle app I could highlight and then copy/paste portions of the book into a document to be able to form my thoughts for papers or insert quotes. Not an option when all of your books are hard copy! I’m thankful for the YouVersion Bible App though – helps me listen through all the scripture reading necessary for my OT class (especially the Looooooong chunks we are asked to ‘skim’).

* Seminary requires a different kind of writing and thinking than coordinating childrens/youth ministry. So much of my time in ministry has been spent working to make theological information more concise and to the point to engage volunteers, teachers, children and teens, etc. I still have a hard time wanting to share too much and a tendency to provide too much information. In seminary, professors ask for “the deeper main points” of a theologian’s writings or two to three paragraphs on observations in scripture. It is a definitely a learning process, when my papers are returned I’m asked to give more information and expound upon my thoughts/observations. So my challenge now is to train/allow my brain to go the other direction for grad school while keeping it moderately condensed in my ministry.

All this said, I love my professors, I love my cohort and classmates, and my family is surviving with me (that’s another blog post in itself!) and it is all crazy hard, but I love it.

Ok, now that I’ve finally updated my blog, time to carry on and work on some more reading and writing!





Intergenerational family friendly Christmas Eve Worship Service

17 12 2014

It is 2014 and in 2009 I posted a note on Kidology.org forums regarding an intergenerational Christmas Eve service we had put together for our smaller congregation. Every year since then I have received requests to access a copy of the service order and this year I’ve received three requests! I know I am one who is always on the search for resources and I realized the link on my post at Kidology is no longer accessible (from dropbox way back when!) so I’m simply going to post the service here for folks to freely borrow and edit to adapt to your congregational settings – if you think it is something you’d like to use. Here is the message I left in the forums in 2009:

I have a family friendly worship service we put together for 2008 involving telling the story of Jesus’ Birth using Christmas hymns/carol with some call and response and interactive.  I’ll testify that it is very user friendly and can be done with minimal staffing because it ended up being a really bad snow & ice year in Seattle where we almost cancelled Christmas Eve worship and we had 15 or so folks show up. I had no idea who was even going to be able to make it so I could barely assign parts and we just went with the flow. The Charlie Brown clip didn’t happen due to technical difficulties but it all went along smoothly and it was a wonderfully intimate Christmas Eve service for children and adults alike!

I’d like to add that the ideas of telling the nativity story through hymns and history of hymns came from a wonderful LCPC congregation member, Jackie Brotnov. I loved that she approached me with her idea, wondering whether it had any value… and of course it did! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

———————————————————————————————————————————————–

Christmas Eve Family Worship
Written for Lake City Presbyterian Church
by Jackie Brotnov and Leena Prindle, December 2008

Welcome Greeting

Lighting of the Advent Candles

One: We are a people of hope. Our hearts are full of anticipation for the coming of our beloved Christ Child. For God is to be among us and we will see a great light in the midst of our night. Let us light the Candle of Hope. (Light the first purple/blue candle)

Two: We are a people who seek peace. We know that God has told us to turn our weapons of war into instruments that benefit all humanity. In the name of that Child who was born long ago to become the Prince of Peace, we now light the Candle of Peace. (Light the second purple/blue candle)

Three: We are a people who seek to be brought together by the love of Christ. Our faith teaches us that God gives us unconditional love and forgiveness. Acknowledging God’s free gift of grace, we light the Candle of Love. (Light the third pink candle)

Four: Joy to the world! Our God is now coming to bring us “good news.” May we sing songs of praise and gladness. We know that our Savior reigns. Let us light the Candle of Joy. (Light the fourth purple/blue candle)

Call to worship:

Leader: Come all who are faithful and all who seek join in your lives.

People: It is the season to sing praises to God for the Christ Child is near.

Leader: The symbols of hope, peace, love, and joy shine brightly in our hearts.

People: May they remain with us through the year.

Leader: We now share a promise that was fulfilled by God:

All: Than our beloved Child is born and will call us to new lives of love, joy, and faith in action. Amen.

 “Peanuts- A Charlie Brown Christmas” Clip (approx. 2 mins)

Voice: Long ago, in a far away land, a baby boy was born. We celebrate his birthday on Christmas Day. Because he was such an exceptional baby, many stories have been written about his life, death, and resurrection. The stories are important because they tell us how much God loves us and why we need to follow Jesus.We can find all this written in the holy Bible and even in cartoon Christmas specials on television.

Voice: Another way to learn about this baby, Jesus, is through songs telling us about him. Almost all of Jesus’ birth can be told through music, by musicians and composers who took the stories from the Bible. They had read their Bibles and wanted people to have another way of learning about Jesus.

Voice: But if you didn’t have a Bible to read, you would still know through songs where Jesus was born, and who he was. In the Old Testment, prophets spoke about the coming of a Messiah – they were talking about Jesus.This song was written in anticipation of a Messiah, a Savior, who would come and help the people. Let’s listen:

Hymn: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Voice: We also know what happened when Jesus was born. Do you remember reading in your Bible where he was born? Who was there? What was the name of the town? What happened whe the shepherds saw the star? All of these answers are found in the Bible and in music and poems people have written.They are also found in music, like in the hymn “Once in Royal David’s City” and “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”. Royal David refers to King David.

Once in Royal David’s City stood a lowly cattle shed, Where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his head. Mary was that mother mild. Jesus Christ her little child.

Hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

The holy family enters. Mary, carrying the baby, and Joseph, come behind the lectern and go to the large pulpit and just sit down, quietly, peacefully, as Mary cradles the baby.

Voice: So what have we learned through these songs? People were looking for a Savior. Jesus was born – in Bethlehem. We learn the name of his mother, Mary,and the baby king’s name – Jesus.

Voice: Let’s continue traveling through familiar songs and see what else we can discover. “Away in a Manger” is a favorite of children and grownups alike, and it was written by Martin Luther for his own children. This used to be called “Luther’s Cradle Song” and sometimes children would make a ‘cradle for Jesus’ with their arms when singing. Some folks sing it very softly, so they don’t wake the baby. Can we sing it together?

Hymn: “Away in the Manger “

Voice: We have learned the shepherds were frightened that night, and the angels calmed their fears. They wanted to see for themselves, and so came to the manger, which also had animals keeping warm.

Hymn: “The First Noel”

Voice: Later, some people brought gifts to Jesus. Do you know what they were? Gold, frankincense and Myrrh – gifts for a king. If you could bring a gift to Jesus what would you bring? Write it down in words or draw a picture on the gift wrap card you received. You can bring it forward during our offering time and give your gift to baby Jesus.

Leader: Our offering tonight is for……fill in the blanks but not your own church – someone else instead. After our Prayer of Dedication of the offering, please come forward and place your offering in the bowl provided and take a taper. If you have not brought anything with you, don’t worry, just come and take a taper. Form a large circle around the church instead of returning to your seat.

Prayer of Dedication of Offering

L    It was cold and Mary and Joseph were fearful.

P    But that did not stop the birth.

L    They were poor and had no place fitting for their child.

P    But that did not stop the birth.

L    They were uncertain about what God wanted from them.

P    But that did not stop the birth.

L    Today we are still sometimes cold and fearful, certainly poor in many ways.

P    We often feel we have no place and are unclear about what God wants of us.

L    But these things did not stop the birth of Jesus then, nor will they now.

P    Lord Jesus be born in us today.

L    Like Mary and Joseph, who trusted in your grace, we offer ourselves and our gifts to you.  Bless our offering and our every thought and our every action, that Christ may be revealed through them to the world that is yet in darkness. Amen.

Offering (Adults and children come forward to offer their gifts, take a taper and join in circle around sanctuary)

Offertory/offering Hymn “O Come All Ye Faithful”

Lighting the Christ Candle and Prayer.

Leader: “Tonight is the night we have all been waiting for. Our Advent wreath will now be completed by the lighting of our Christ candle. “For unto us a child is given, unto us a Savior is born and the order of the world will be upon his shoulders.” With the birth of Jesus, our lives will be forever changed. We will be transformed by his model and message. We light this candle to represent that Christ is truly the center of our lives.”

(Light the Christ candle, leader lights taper off the Christ candle and light the tapers of the people on each side of them. Encourage those persons to light the taper of the person next to them and so on).

Leader:  As Jesus’ light travels around the circle, we pray that God’s love and songs of the birth of Jesus will be in everyone’s hearts tonight and always.

Voice: Our story told through music and song continues, with many more Christmas hymns that take us all the way, from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany. It’s a wonderful journey we can take together and use to bring the light of Jesus to our friends, family, and the rest of the world. There is one more song for us to sing, and everyone can sing together: “Silent Night”. Let’s just stay here while the candles are lit, be very, very careful and sing “Silent night”.

Hymn: Silent Night

Benediction

May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.








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