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.

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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.

Family Event: Spread the Love

One of the most uplifting parts of the last few weeks is seeing the love spread throughout our communities, shown in hearts in the windows, signs on the lawns, and distance birthday parades. I have a friend from college who is a talented chalk artist and she has been taking her talent from her own stoop to our community. I love the idea of spreading this love beyond our own front stoops and doors (safely of course!). This weekend for some family fun, here are a few ways to spread love (while keeping your germs to yourself!)

Chalk Someone’s Stoop

Do you have a family member you miss, or a community leader you want to thank, take a trip to their house and leave a message for them in chalk! Maybe there is a neighbor in your community you know lives alone and you want to leave them some hope! Don your masks, pile in the car or walk down the block, and spread some chalky cheer! Text them or call them when you are finished so they can come wave out the front door, or leave it as a surprise for them to find later!

Homemade Yard Signs

Do you have a paint stick, a wooden kebab skewer, or an unused ruler? That is all you need to bring a yard sign to a friend! (besides art work and tape of course!) Make some encouraging signs and leave them in someone’s yard that you think could benefit! Bring them to your essential worker friends and family members and write on them “An essential hero lives here!” or just include encouraging messages and leave them for strangers. How cool would it be to open your door to a sign that said “You matter!”

courtesy of Lowes

Thank You or I Love You Parade

With the physical space between us, the list of people we miss is much too long. Take a “Thank you!” or “I miss you!” or “I love you!” tour of those people! Decorate your car like you are in a parade and take a trip to drive by those loved ones’ homes! Text them when you are on your way or honk really loud and surprise them 🙂

Spreading this love in your own yard is also special and a great way to get the family working together creatively, and outside! No matter how big or small the sign, the sentiment is huge and meaningful! Join us in spreading kindness (not germs!)

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!

Beatitudes for a Global Pandemic

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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!

Encouragement Cards

We all need a little encouragement right now. (Keep it up! You can do this!) @goodinstorepages offers a timely free download ‘stay at home pack’ of inspirational coloring pages. They make great homemade encouragement cards!

Many Westwood homebound elders are in need of encouragement and a little outreach sunshine. If you are available to create cards and send them, please let me know! I’ll send you their contact information for mailing, j.mohr@westwood.church.

Coloring sheets are an accessible self-care meditation tool- I hope you are able to take a moment to catch your breath today. Kids can also be creative and make their own pictures to send. Thank you for helping us take care of each other!

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.

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!

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.

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/692/the-show-of-delights?fbclid=IwAR01f5O-ZIVoe6-5pe7BCV1rZ64LEW0J65p4CQo-b7-Q9uNb6QTWbmI9IBQ

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.

Conversation guide: anxiety in middle school and high schoolers

As school begins again (for most Westwood districts) there’s looming anxiety about how it all will go. Tweens and teens are anxious, let’s be real, the whole family probably is a bit anxious about how it will go! Parent Cue is one of my go to resources and I thought these were helpful posts over the weekend. Check out theParentCue.org or follow @ParentCue on Instagram for great faith based resources for all ages!

We are better together- especially in times like this!