More Anti-Racism Resources

Who am I? Deepening Our Conversations About Race.
Friends, our world is reminding us, yet again, that we have work to do and that it’s everyone’s work to do. It isn’t a box we get to check. Our work continues and is imperative as we begin to understand systemic racism more fully.

As Westwood Staff, we’re committed to doing this anti-racism work with you. We’ve done some digging to find resources that will help you in this work and we want to pass it along because it has been helpful to us in our anti-racism work.

As Jen said in the post below, we’d love to hear from you about resources you have found helpful, and we’ll keep adding to these lists! Send us what you’re reading, and watching and listening to, so that others can learn alongside you! You’ll keep seeing this logo as we keep adding to our lists!

Anti-Racism Resources for Middle and High School Youth and Their Parents: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qR0YT4Xa0_I6yufxhpzxjWLx7tAiOdhE1MBBdhc8ToA/edit?usp=sharing

Recalibrating

Today feels like a big re-calibration day for me. Last week we made the difficult decision to cancel the summer youth trip, schools won’t meet in person again this school year, camps will be closed, beaches and parks unavailable for the foreseeable future and we have no idea when we might be able to gather as a faith community face to face.

There’s lots to process.

As I talk with youth and parents about all this, I’m hearing a theme of uncertainty. People are not even sure what to look toward because each bench mark that gets passed makes it more challenging to figure out where to put a marker.

Image may contain: ocean and sky
posted originally by Hans Dahl

There’s lots on our minds.

When to watch the news, when to turn it off.
What to tell our kids (big or small), what to leave out.
How to re-enter from a pending lift on stay at home, how not to.
How to stay positive while being realistic with our kids.
Wondering when things will feel “safe” again.

The question and worry train seems endless.

I’ve been meditating on the statement “What’s on your mind is on God’s heart” and I need reminder so I can sleep at night. I need to be reminded (a lot) that God is a VERY present help in trouble. I need to trust the promise that God’s hand is leading and love is supporting me, always, especially right now.

Maybe you need to be reminded of those things too?! Maybe your high school senior, or your new college grad needs to be reminded of those things?! Maybe your middle schooler needs that reminder?

Maybe we ALL need to be reminded! Consider this your reminder, that what is on your mind is already on God’s heart, and that God has got you. No conditions or exceptions.

Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic

No photo description available.

If you need a way to pray today, this might be of help. Id invite you to take a look at this with your tweens and teens and discuss:

  • Who is missing from this list?
  • Which person/people listed were surprising to you or may not have been a person/group you had thought of before?
  • If you were rewriting the beatitudes, who would you include?
  • How can you support, pray for and/or lift up the people on this list, or on your list? Then, make a commitment to do so this week!

We’d love to see your lists, post in the comments here or on Facebook and let us know who’ve you added!

Family Event at Home: Olympics!

The 2020 Olympics are postpone to 2021 but the spirit of competitiveness, perseverance, and coming together does not have to be! This weekend, with wonderful weather on the horizon and wiggles to get rid of, why not host your own at home Olympics! I bet many of our Westwood kids are not old enough to truly remember an Olympics, especially a summer one since it has been 4 years. If you want to warm up with some highlights, I recommend any of Usane Bolt’s triumphs, the US Women’s national soccer team (any other Mia Hamm fans out there?), and of course gymnastics (hello Simone Biles!) I didn’t even mention swimming or volleyball. And that is just the summer events. There are so many inspiration moments that come out of the Olympics and hosting your own might be a great way to spend the weekend! Just make sure the competition is friendly, because you still need to live together after the closing ceremonies!

Here are a few components to consider:

  1. Before you start, have your kids work together to make medals. They can just be paper and whatever string or ribbon you have lying around, but have them ready for each of your “competitions”.
  2. Make a torch to light during the opening ceremonies out of tissue paper and those precious toilet paper tubes.
  3. Decide on the games you will participate in. Will you do indoor or outdoor events? Will they be traditional (like a race) or less traditional (like paper airplane flying)? Here is a list of possibilities to get you started:
    • Basketball
    • Bean Bag Toss or Corn Hole
    • Obstacle Course
    • High Jump, Long Jump, or even the limbo
    • Gymnastics (like somersaults, cartwheels, or hand stands)
    • “discus” using a Frisbee or paper plate,
    • Hula hoop
    • Jump rope
    • Egg and spoon races or a relay race
    • Have your kids come up with games of their own!
  4. Opening Ceremonies and Parade of Nations: Choose a family uniform to wear and start your ceremonies with a parade. You could use paper to make a family flag to carry, too! Just make sure you are playing the Olympics Fanfare (chills!) when you present the torch!
  5. Medal Presentation: Make sure to have a celebration after each event as you award medals. Maybe let them choose their own “anthem” (who says Frozen can’t be played on the medal platform!)
  6. Closing Ceremonies: Time to parade those medals around the living room or yard! Often times the best part of the Olympics is the fanfare and cultural celebration on display during the opening and closing ceremonies. Maybe this is time for a talent show!

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you enjoy the gift of weather and family, and know your Westwood family is thinking of you and sending you love! (and hoping for some Olympics photo recaps!)

Deeply connected.

We spent the morning yesterday writing notes and coloring pictures to people we love, but cant be near right now. The weekend was hard for me. We missed celebrating my dad’s birthday, and Easter with our families who we haven’t seen since Christmas. It was complicated and messy in my heart.

Image may contain: possible text that says 'There is evidence that trees communicate over great expanses, sending nourishment, messages and support. And they do all this grounded in place, unable to speak, reach out or move around. We are like that right now, separate, unable to touch, yet deeply connected and sharing our love over these distances love that shines and radiates out of the very root of our being. Nicolette Sowdler MILCER'

Do you know what I mean?

Just a jumbled up ball of feelings. Feeling sad in tension with feeling grateful that we have people to love, and miss.

Grief and blessing,

stir crazy and content,

separate and yet deeply connected.

It was important for me to sit in those feelings, but then to mobilize those feelings yesterday as I talked with my kids about that it means to share love even when we cant be together. Man, my 4 year old gets it, better than me sometimes I think. She has dreams of what she’ll do with her daycare friends, her grandparents and our neighbors when “the sickness” goes away, but she also understands that there are other ways to be connected.

I’d like to encourage, maybe even challenge you to try this too. Sit down with your kids, yep the big ones too, and make a list of 3 people you’re each going to write a note to. It feels incredible to tap into the love and contentedness that is deep inside and write a good old fashioned hand written note to someone. Seriously, try it!

When I stumbled across this quote over the weekend, I started to notice trees differently. I noticed that how seemingly overnight the view out my front window has changed. There’s less sky and more tree each day, the buds are exploding and even though there is snow, there is new life. An Easter message right out my front window, and frankly, one I have probably been too busy to notice before.

I held this Easter message as I wrote simple notes to those we are distanced from, but very connected to. That we, like the trees are connected, growing in our places, and radiating love and support by staying planted right where we are.

Unsolicited Easter Musings

Sunday, maybe more than ever before, I feel the need to celebrate the resurrection. A pastor I know recently said, “Though it may not always feel like it, the promises of Easter are as true today as any other day.” I needed to hear that, I need to repeat that, I need to tell that to everyone I know. Like you all, I will be celebrating Easter in a new way this year. My family attended the sunrise service at my home church every year since my baptism at that 6am service in 1992. Even as a 27 year old, I slept in my childhood bedroom so my mom could wake me up at 5:00am with the soft words “Bekah, wake up, Christ is risen.” This is the first year in my life I won’t be starting Easter off that way. (I asked my mom if she’d call me at 5:00am this year- no dice). I’ve been grieving this change, along with all the others of this season, a lot lately. There are no two ways about it, this is a sad/confusing/time-warp/scary/messy/blessed/scary-again time for our local and global communities. However, the more and more I sit with it, the more I feel OK. Because Christ’s resurrection is not dependent on a sunrise service, a nap, a ham dinner, and another nap. Those traditions are important and sacred, but the Easter promises are already true, and they will always be true. So this year, I will celebrate differently and it will be good, and I will continue to grieve, and both of those realities can and will be true at the same time. Whatever comes this Sunday, the tomb is already empty, and it is good. As Martin Luther said, “our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” I’ll be soaking up that promise as much as I can during this very peculiar springtime.

Sew good.

A mom of Westwood a middle and high schooler who is a nurse has asked that we help her and her co-workers have critical PPE to keep her and her patients safe. She works in a respiratory unit and has said that the homemade masks listed on the Blue Cross Website have been approved for her and her co-workers.
(visit https://blog.bluecrossmn.com/covid19masks/ for the pattern and donation drop off sites.) Also a pattern with pictures and alternative materials listed: https://12c6dcf1-a4f3-9a22-bcd8-4c7e844d2e36.filesusr.com/ugd/152b95_829d763ef01a4bcca8ca6ebf34c65b74.pdf

Here’s the pile of masks Westwood
member Cori Taylor has been creating!
(child of Deb and John DeSanto)

I’ve contacted the local Jo-Ann Fabrics stores (Ridgedale and Maple Grove) and they still have mask kits available (one free kit per customer, pick up at cutting counter) and they also do curb-side delivery if you purchase supplies online and pick up at the store.

A great home ec project for a middle or high schooler or a cutting and measuring math lesson for an elementary child.

A lesson that church is more than a building, for all ages!

If you have questions not answered in the above documents, email Dannica.
If you make some masks, or have done so already, PLEASE send us pictures! (d.olsen@westwood.church or j.mohr@westwood.church) We want to highlight the collective good going on right now on this blog and on our website!

Praise Song for the Pandemic

Some of you are parenting teens that are telling you all of what they’re thinking and feeling. And some of you get a grunt at best.

Some are giving you a play by play of their emotions but not all teenagers are open books, right? Its like a big guessing game to know what they’re thinking and feeling sometimes.

This video might be a great conversation starter with them. A four minute prayer/psalm.

PRAISE SONG FOR THE PANDEMIC – written and read by Christine Valters Paintner,
from Abbey of the Arts and music by Giants & Pilgrims.

Watch it together and ask these 3 questions:

How did you feel as you watched the video?
Was there anything you hadn’t thought of before or took notice of while you watched?
At the end, it says “a place to begin”, what new beginnings do you hope come out of this?

This is hard stuff to navigate, conversation makes it easier.

Blessed are the parents, doing it all.

Camping Family Event: Home Edition

Indoor/Outdoor camping is quick way to have some fun and make some memories as a family during this odd season of our lives. I still have fond memories of the night my dad set our giant tent up in the living room and we had a camp out to prepare of an upcoming Boundary Waters trip. We pretended we were under the stars, ate food we’d only eat on a camping trip, and shared ghost stories. It was magical and a night I think of often. I know many of you have done this already and if you have any ideas to add, write them in the comments! If you haven’t, this is a way to “get outside” (even if you are still inside) and have a new experience while staying safe and distant. A bonus blessing: this weekend it will be sunny and dry so you can camp in your yard instead! Don’t have a tent or are not a camping family, blanket forts are just as magical!

Camping Approved Food

First things first, you know food is always the priority in my mind. Here are a few ideas for special campfire and camping treats!

  1. Trail mix is always a good snack and can be made with any and all of those end of the bag snacks you have in the cupboard. Pour it all together in a bowl and let the kids mix it up!
  2. Stove-top popcorn: if you are anything like me, you purchased a bag of popcorn seeds with the intent of making homemade popcorn and left it to gracefully age on your shelf. Many younger generations might not even know popcorn can be made outside the microwave and it tastes SO good!
  3. To me, camping is associated with cast iron skillets and dutch ovens. Skillet pizza is a delicacy that all should enjoy and you likely have all the ingredients in your fridge or freezer already! Bonus: I’m sharing my mom’s easy as (pizza) pie crust and sauce recipes in her very own handwriting (stains and all!). (I literally ate this last night!)
  4. Dutch Oven Desserts: we used to make these when I was a kid and it felt like magic. You can pop it in your oven or bake over a fire if weather permits. Also very pantry friendly (any pie filling, box cake mix, or jam on the shelf will work!)
  5. Indoor S’mores are always a good idea, and outdoor are even better if weather permits! If you are anything like me, you have leftover s’mores ingredients calling your name on the pantry shelf that won’t make it to next summer!

Other Fun

  1. Don’t have a fire pit outside, make good use of your treasured toilet paper rolls and build one inside! This is a great craft for kids and can be creatively done with whatever materials you can find!
  2. Here are 22 kid-friendly campfire stories to read around the “fire”!
  3. Sing some classic campfire songs! If your kids have gone to camp or VBS, ask them to teach you their favorite

I hope you find a way to enjoy our beautiful spring and your loved ones this weekend! If you camp or build a fort, send me a picture! I’d love to see your faces! Whatever you do this weekend, breath deeply, know you are loved, and give yourself grace and space as we walk through this season. Holding you all in prayer and sending virtual hugs!

-Bekah