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!

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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.





Bible Stories Book Review and a Giveaway Drawing – Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by Kelly Pulley

15 09 2014

I was given opportunity to review a new a new children’s Bible stories book while it is on a blog tour for David C. Cook.

Here is a video trailer featuring Kelly Pulley’s rhyming Treasury of Bible Stories:

And here are my thoughts and impressions on the Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

Definitely a book for 4-8 year olds… if you have a child ready to snuggle up and read or listen to a story, you can start right in. I have a wiggly 7 year old daughter, she is just learning to read and I asked her to help review the book with me. She read the first page on her own – outloud to me – and then she said “This is good, but I think preschoolers and kindergartners who aren’t reading yet would like it better.” I think it also was the timing – if I had her attention and read it as a bed time story or as a children’s sermon story where I already have her as a captive audience then maybe she would have been more receptive.

I have to say I was surprised by how few stories are covered in this book – the author seems to have chosen quality over quantity, which is not a bad thing – making it easier to read through the book with your children. The stories are more like long poems that are very rhythmic – think Dr. Suess style and fun to read outloud. When I first received the book I had hoped to use it with our upcoming Sunday School lessons on the Jesus feeding the 5000 with a few fish and loaves shared by a young child. Sadly, the story was not in the book. I have tried to figure out if there was a pattern to the stories chosen, and I’m not sure there is – perhaps these are some of the author’s favorites or stories that were designed to follow a set of Sunday school lessons.

So who do I recommend pick up this book??

  • If you or your child like rhyming – this book is for you.
  • If you are looking for a new Bible stories book to share with your young child – give this one a try.
  • If you are wanting to read rhythmic stories to children in a nursery or preschool setting – this is a great book to engage little ears.
  • If you’re wanting to add a book to your church or Sunday school’s children’s ministry library – I’d recommend you consider this for your shelf.

WIN A COPY of TREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES by Kelly Pulley!!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have an opportunity to give away one free Treasury of Bible Stories book to one special random drawing winner.

How to Enter (now through Sept 20th):

  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 10:00 a.m  on Saturday, Sept. 20th, 2014 – 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:

David C. Cook  | ChristianBooks.com  | Lifeway Christian Books

Family Christian Books | Barnes and NobleAmazon.com

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!!





Inspired by “Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church”

5 08 2014

I’ve come across an excellent post describing how one can help a person in transition when they need to leave the church. Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church. It discusses how to address a congregational community member when they leave for life changes like college, marriage, new jobs, etc.

What I hoped it would but doesn’t address, is those who are simply looking for something different in worship service or a different type of worshiping community – locally. This is where I often  have continuous conversations with parents and teens in children and youth ministry in a smaller church.

In our church a few things might cause people to want to try  something else (at the same time, these might draw people in!):

  • We don’t have the exciting thrills of the mega-churches around us in the Seattle area when it comes to children, youth, or adults.
  • Our children’s and youth minsitry various from 1 to 20 children/teens on any given Sunday.
  • We have women in leadership – the pastor and myself (whom the church has chosen to call in to these positions).
  • Much of the staff and much of the congregation is (not officially) affirming to LGBTQ parishioners and families – our pastor will perform same sex marriages.
  • We are trying to figure out the best use of our large, beautiful building that we can’t afford to keep to ourselves.
  • Staff salaries have been cut recently including hours of availalbility which affects programs and plans.
  • For now church polity requires that in order to be an elder or deacon you must be an official ‘member’ of the church – and some people are not keen on membership to anything really hindering some excellent folks from holding various leadership roles in the church.
  • We have and use an organ (among other instruments) and sing songs from hymnals (among other types of music)

These and other concerns are reasons I’m continually having conversations beginning with “We are trying out some other churches…” . In a smaller church you really notice when someone or some family is missing for any number of weekends. Other parishioners get nervous and constantly ask “Where are they? do you know if they are coming back? What can you/we do different to bring them back?” . I sometimes know the answer to the first question and usually have nothing for the other two.

To be honest, I decided several years ago that people are going to make their choices, we can do the best we can to involve them in the life of the church and then it is up to them and God’s holy spirit to figure out the rest. My brain will get tired trying to keep track, but it isn’t up to me to decide whether they will stay or go. It is up to me not to let my heart be jealous and angry at people for making their own choices.  We all have seasons in our lives where we need to try something a little different or experience something for ourselves to see to even know if where we are at is what we want and need. I’m of the opinion that we pray for folks and give our blessing to let them wander and try new things and let them know should they choose to come back and stay we are here and have a place for them. I will be sad if it is a person or family that has been a “pillar” of sorts in the congregation community, but it isn’t fair to make people feel guilty or hold them back from something God is calling them to do for themselves and their families.

I have the same opinion when it comes to working with volunteers. Sometimes volunteers want to try something else and they feel stuck in having made a commitment to a particular ministry. I love my volunteers and generally it is few and far between with children and youth ministry – but again we need to let the Spirit lead. If they have gifts and talents and interests they want to try somewhere else for a period of time or they simply are having some tough times in life  – release them, give them permission, and trust that God will work within the ‘gap’ seemingly left in your ministry. We have to trust that God isn’t just working in the life of that one person, but yours as well.

We are called to be people of the spirit – the one Jesus’ sent to work in and through and with us. That means it is important having the tough conversations and giving permission and blessing to allow God’s spirit to work in all people – even if it stings our heart a bit.





Incomplete…

31 07 2014

justmeleena:

I really love following this blog, it informs me on so much going on in our world with special needs and has opened my eyes to realizing how so much of children’s, youth, and family ministry needs to adjust and adapt special needs ministry. Actually, not just children’s, youth and family – but entire congregations. Special Needs Ministry is not a program it is a way of ministry needing to be fully integrated to fully serve our communities.

Originally posted on Church4EveryChild:

shutterstock_64682575 2In our tenth and final segment of our series, Ten Things I Wish Church Leaders Knew About Families and Mental Illness, we’ll look at one of the most compelling reasons for churches to pursue intentional outreach to families impacted by mental illness…the reality that the church is incomplete without the gifts and talents of the kids and families in their surrounding communities who don’t know Jesus and don’t have a local faith community to call home.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in…

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An open letter to the SPU gunman

8 06 2014

justmeleena:

A powerful letter from an Seattle Pacific University to the the gun man who walked in to shoot up a school. Killed one student and injured two others. This school is in my community and I know many alum and students. My heart goes out to all of them. “The Spirit intercedes for us, with sighs too deep for words to express.” Romans 8:26.

Originally posted on falconstrong's Blog:

Mr. Ybarra,

Yesterday, you walked into the doors of a place I’ve called home for years with the intent to harm. The events of June 5th are forever embedded in my mind…but probably not for the reasons you’d assume. I’ve read articles claiming that you had an obsession with Columbine and a desire to partake in a school shooting. I’m writing this letter to tell you that the school you entered yesterday is not just a school, we  are so much more…we are a family.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. I am so angry. I feel violated. I feel shaken. I feel like my home has been compromised and one of my family members has been taken while others fight for their lives today. I do not understand. I cry out for answers. I lament. I’ve never felt fear as deep as I did yesterday waiting…

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