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.

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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.

How are you?

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Hey there,
How are you?
How is your family?
Do you have what you need?

Lots of checking in these days, and if I’m telling the truth, I have no idea how to answer these questions some days!

One day feels like, oh yeah, I got this! And other days feel big, and heavy, and hard.

One day the kids are playing great, I get to work several hours in a row, uninterrupted, and other days, well… you know!

Milestones for many have come and gone, things we had hoped for are on hold, or past. School years have been moved to online, sports seasons cancelled, graduations postponed, there is a lot for which to grieve, and also, there is a lot for which to celebrate.

There’s no right way to feel, just like there’s no right way to parent while working from home, there’s no right way to figure out how to care for yourself while caring for others, there’s no “right” way for any of this, because, no one has done this before.

It’s ok to not know,
its ok to not be “right”,
its ok to not be the “best”,
its ok not to be the “most balanced”
or the even “put together” at all!

There’s GRACE for that!

Trust that God’s Grace is sufficient for you, even when we have no way of knowing what’s next. There’s no right way to feel right now except, loved beyond measure!

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.

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.

Delightful distraction

These past weeks there have been moments where its been challenging to see beyond the grief and disruption and anxiety of life right now. I don’t think I’m alone in those feelings. If I’m really honest, what’s hardest for me is to not know when those things will end.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to look for moments of delight. For signs that flirt with joy. Sure these moments don’t replace the grief, but they help me see life and love are still present.

A friend of mine shared a delightful episode from This American Life that I hope will offer you the same invitation.

As the news grows more daunting each week, let’s commit to look for moments of delight.

Listen alone, or with your kids and make a list of the things that give you glimpses of delight in these strange days.

You’re doing a freaking great job!

So… distance learning has started up for many of you, whether you’re teaching from a distance, or your kids are learning from a distance I just wanted to remind you that this is all new.

All of it!

And I want to remind you how much you’ve adapted over the past few weeks.

Also though, I want to remind you that you are doing a freaking great job!

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It might not feel or look like it to you, but I see you!
I see your creativity to be able to work while kids are home,
I see your creativity in the 7,000 meals you’re preparing each week,
I see the ways you’re connecting with your kids and your community, your family and your neighbors.
I see you, and I see that you are rocking this!

You don’t have to be perfect, or the best, you just need to be you! And guess what, you’re doing that, and you’re great at it! You’re better than anyone else is at being YOU!

Don’t forget to give yourself grace. Don’t forget to take a little break from the chaos behind a closed door.
Your church family is so proud of all the shifting and adapting you’re doing to keep your neighbors and your community safe by staying safe at home.

You, yes YOU are doing a freaking great job!

Thank you.

Thank you if you work in health care. Thank you if you are a first responder. Thank you if you work for a critical sector.  Thank you if you are a teacher adapting your classroom for e-learning. Thank you if you work at a grocery store, convenience store, or any other essential need store. Thank you if you are working from home. Thank you for staying home to keep our greater community safe. Thank you for your extra parenting and presence while kids are home from school. Thank you for social distancing. Thank you for all you are doing or not doing to support the common good.
Thank you.

Give us this day our daily bread

Preparing 3 meals a day for my family, day after day got me thinking, what sorts of lessons could kids (of any age) learn from pitching in, or even taking over a meal here and there?! Sure, its quicker, cleaner and safer to have the kids out of the kitchen, but here’s a list of things anyone, but especially kids can learn from cooking.  

  • Life can be a challenge.
    It is hard and messy sometimes. And it doesn’t always turn out the way you hoped even when you do everything just right. The good news is most kids and food are resilient, forgiving and adaptable.
  • Work together.
    As with most things, its better to work together. Some of my favorite memories were created in the kitchen while helping my grandma and my mom on various meals and treats.
  • Have fun.
    Its easy to get lost in the mundane, sometimes monotonous steps of cooking, and in the repetition of the day to day. Including kids is a remainder that it can and should be a joy!
  • Food brings people together.
    So much of life’s sacred moments are shared around a table and a meal, especially right now. Food always seems to taste better when there’s someone to share it with.
  • There is magic in the mundane.
    Putting seemingly uninteresting things together can create a wonderful (yummy) result if you mix in a bit of creativity.
  • Be proud of yourself.
    When kids make something and serve it to their family, there’s a huge sense of importance and a pride that comes from contributing to the whole.
  • There’s a whole world to discover.
    Trying new recipes, making something up from your own head, “traveling” the globe through different cuisine gives a sense that the possibilities are endless and there is so much to discover in food and culture, in taste and variety.
  • Its ok to make mistakes.
    Cooking can be messy, and things invariably go wrong once in a while. The kitchen is a great place for kids to see adults goof up, correct, and improvise. (Sometimes cereal for dinner is creative problem-solving.)
  • God is with us.
    Its important to remember is that our most central act of worship is based around a meal. In the ordinary of bread and wine, of a meal shared, Christ is present. Our family tables are now the altars in which we worship the living God, right in our own homes.

So, if you’re the chef in your house, step aside here and there and let these lessons be made real for others in your family. Youth, if given the opportunity, might be thrilled to menu plan and execute a meal of their very own creation to serve to your family. (It can also be counted as culinary arts class time 😉 )Using their creativity, their taste and their open schedule right now could just be the best thing for everyone! A break for you, and a boost of confidence and creativity for them.

Bon Appétit!