Monday, October 27, 2008

Prep for John the Baptist

I'm preparing for our long-advent WorkshopCycle on "A Voice in the Wilderness: John the Baptist."

The Story Cycle teaches the children to tell the story of John's life using a variety of stickers, which I purchased here.

And I didn't like the suggested Kitchen Cycle, so am writing my own which will include offering the children to task real honeycomb and bugs. Did you know you could buy edible bugs at!?


Harcourt Parish has completed our CROP Walk Cycle and it went very well. The granola bars from the Kitchen Workshop were a great success both at coffee hour and with the walkers. The signs the children made decorated the sanctuary for several weeks, and then some signs were taken to the walk itself.

It was fun to see how much of the 5-mile walk our young children could do. I think our family made it about 3 1/2 miles. Not bad for our first time without strollers. Here, you see that Luke (age 2) had more energy than Ella (age 6):

And here's many of our walkers with our altar party and signs right after church:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

CROP Cycle and Children's Choir

Last Sunday was our first week of Children's Choir. We had a FANTASTIC turnout. The kids seemed to enjoy themselves--and the catchy tune hasn't left my head all week. (AKK!)
They will be singing for the congregation on Children's Sabbath Sunday, October 19th.

The Gradeschool classroom is currently doing a Cycle on CROP Walk. I created this cycle myself, so e-mail me if you'd like the lesson plans. The cycles include:
Movie (CROP Walk Video)
Art (Making signs and banners for the walk)
Drama and Music (older children rehearse a short play, younger children create a song)
Kitchen (making energy bars for the walkers).

Shameless Plug: To donate to CROP to help stop hunger around the world, just click here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MDG Day of Prayer, Fasting and Advocacy

September 25th is a national day of prayer, fasting, and advocacy for the Millennium Development Goals. Whatever day you happen to read this post, please take a moment to DO SOMETHING to support these.

There are about 1 BILLION people in the world living on less than $1 a day.
Every 3 seconds, a child dies of preventable, treatable causes (diarrhea, malaria, etc).
Some things you can do include:

Go to the Hunger Site. Click there and food will be donated by the sponsors just because you saw the advertising on their page. You can also sign up to get a daily e-mail reminder. I've been doing this for years. It takes about 10 seconds a day, and it gives someone food for the day.

Sign up to receive Action Alerts from EPPN or another group. When you receive one, it will take you about 1 minute to complete a form to send a statement to your legislators about issues around poverty and justice.

Loan $25 (or more) thru It is really fun to look through their lists of people approved for micro-loans and choose the actual person and business you'll support.

Donate money to the Heifer Project, ERD, Curamericas, or the charity of your choice that helps "the least of these."

Have you DONE something yet? If not, stop right now and do one of these things.

I thank you, and God thanks you.

Samuel Rotation Sunday School

Harcourt Parish is again using WorkshopCycles for our 1st-5th grade Sunday School this year. It's quite affordable, but is best when you have a church member spend some time with it to fit it to your group. This year I'm investing more by creating short summary lessons plans for each of the workshops.

Our Samuel Cycle included:
Story (a game and a drama from WorkshopCycles)
Music (learning the torah ora hymn "God has spoken to his people" and a circle dance)
Art (decorating pillow cases--because Samuel was sleeping when God called him)
Kitchen (from WorkshopCycles-making rice krispy treats, a mix of loud and quiet food)

I was lucky enough to be able to lead the Art Workshop. It was tons of fun. After reading the cycle story, we talked about prayers we knew, scripture verses we knew, things we might like to hear God say to us, etc.

I had gathered a bunch of pillowcases from our parish rummage sale, washed them, and put cardboard in them to make a nice, flat surface. The children used painters pens, sharpies, and fabric markers, all of which worked really well.

The girls set up a table and did a great job decorating with dots and squiggles, writing scripture and prayers.

The boys drew pictures and accented with words.

Here is a fantastic monster being drawn (on the blue pillowcase). We paired it with the words, "you shall not be afraid of any terror by night" Psalm 95:5a . He could hardly wait to use it!

Next week we begin a rotation on CROP Walk that I created. Fun!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Prayer...In Action: Last Day

Again on Saturday, we had about 30 volunteers. I'm just overwhelmed at the turnout for this event. If I went back to work myself, Chapman would have had 3 workdays from me. Instead, by inviting others to join in the effort, they have instead had over 100 work days from all the volunteers this week! FANTASTIC.

After I heard about the tornado, I called my childhood best friend to check on her parents. They lived across the street from the school district office that was demolished. She said her house didn't have much damage. So I was brought to tears when I saw this "not much damage" on our way into town the first day:

Almost every window is boarded up around the house, the deck has damage, and that black line is a gouge in the siding that was one of many.
But when you compare this to the rest of the town, it really is "not much damage."

On Friday, we watched a 2-story house around the corner be demolished by a crew. It took them about 45 minutes. I was glad to hear that family has already purchased this house and will be making the minor repairs to it to make it livable.

One of the first tasks we did today was to help the Lutheran church move their things into storage trailers. Here is some stained glass they salvaged. The bottom piece is mostly intact. But the upper pieces are mostly just twisted lead from the windows that got blown out and re-sculpted. Amazing.

And our major task for the day was moving and cleaning as many chairs as we could.
We could not find a flatbed trailer to help with our job, so we borrowed a truck from Londeen's (Hardware and Furniture Store) for the day. We took many small trips, but got a lot done.

Once again, there was a heat advisory and again the volunteers did a great job getting lots of work done but also keeping hydrated and taking shade breaks.

THANK YOU to everyone who helped out in any way!! You are a blessing to me, to Chapman, and to God.

Prayer...In Action Day 4

We had 30 volunteers today!!!

I didn't get photos of today's big tasks. One was moving everything except 5th grade and cafeteria stuff from a pod to St. Michaels. The other was taking absolutely everything out of another pod, locating a specific secretary's computer that is needed for Monday's enrollment--and then putting EVERYTHING back into the pod.

It was an extremely hot day with heat advisories in effect. But our volunteers were real troopers and didn't complain at all. Everyone stayed hydrated and took shade brakes and we got the jobs done.

We also continued to work on the debris pile beside the daycare center:

And was able to make the alley completely clean again:

Thanks to all the helpers from St. Michael's and All Angels in Kansas City, Grace Cathedral in Topeka, and the Boy Scout troop from Witchita.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prayer...In Action Day 3

My Day 3 (Wednesday) was mostly spent preparing for Day 4 (Friday). But I did get some pictures first thing in the morning. We began the morning picking up the yard around the school. Here is the house right beside the gradeschool, on the main drag for all the volunteers to see as they drive into town:

Here's the school yard we are working on. For those of you who knew Chapman before, you can easily tell the destruction. For others, you can see how the tree in the foreground has basically been peeled, and that under the green tarp part of the gym is missing. We are in the playground area, picking up metal and glass that is everywhere.

The tornado was 6 weeks ago, and new life is springing forth. All the trees that were ripped and peeled are now sprouting new leaves. They look so strange! I wonder what they will look like several years from now.

Here's some evidence of the power of the storm. These metal signs have been folded up, and the metal sign is bent almost to the ground:

Many of today's workers have been with us all week and planned to just work a half-day. But we started a big project just before they were to leave, and so they stuck with it and continued with some really hard work of carrying book boxes and other equiptment from storage pods to a trailer, and from a trailer to the Parish House where the grade school will be.

I am overwhelmed at the outpouring of help especially from members of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas as well as other family friends. When the tornado hit, I knew *I* wanted to go back and do something. But now instead of having one worker each of these days, there are 10 or 14 or...maybe even 30 on Friday/Sat. There's a parable in there!

Thursday is a day of rest. Shawn and I are visiting family, the youth and college students who have been helping are driving down to a youth Happening event in Wichita. Craig Loya, the campus missioner, is busy doing the rest of his week's work in this one day so that he can be present every day of our trip.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Prayer...In Action Day 2

Tuesday, day 2, it rained all day.
Two volunteers dropped out before we began because we didn't have our contingency plans in order until around 9:30. Luckily, they'll be able to work for a bit on Saturday instead.

Today, we were able to move more cafeteria supplies and food. The cafeteria went from 0% to 90% complete in the 2 days we've been here:

One problem with getting work done is finding enough trucks and trailers to haul stuff. Another issue is that there are too few dumpsters and volunteers can no longer take stuff to the dump for free.
Today, the daycare finally got a dumpster. It took us about 20 minutes to fill the dumpster, and we still had the same amount still sitting in the alley, and 4 times as much in the basement to be taken out:

By the end of the day, we had gotten through our other work but still had some time. So we started going door to door cleaning the markings off of homes:

I hope we're done with rain for the week. There is SO MUCH still to do to prepare the schools.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Prayer...In Action Day 1

Today is the first day of "Prayer...In Action" in my home town, Chapman Kansas. A tornado hit on June 11th and wiped out all 3 schools and many homes. When I heard about it, I felt I had to do something. So I planned a mission trip from our church in Ohio to Chapman. At one point, 9 people were going to attend, but later on only our family could go. So we put out the word in the Diocese of Kansas. We advertised this as "A Mission Trip You CAN Do" and encouraged people to come for just one or two days. We've had a great turn-out.

Early in the day, we went to one of the storage buildings, and saw a french horn that survived the tornado...sort of...

When we drove in this morning, Alice Louden's house was standing. When we went back to the pod in the afternoon, it was being demolished. She was one of the best gradeschool teachers ever, and a friend of mom's. She died several years ago, and in a way it was nice she didn't have to see her family home like this:

We didn't have enough vehicles to move all the things we needed to, so we moved several things 4 blocks walking down the street:

Prayer...In Action Day 1 famiy friends

I have been talking up "Prayer in Action" with everyone I'm connected with. I've been talking to old school friends. Here are a friend's 2 sisters and nephew who came to help out. They are farm folk and were a great help. Here, they're running a magnet over the playground to pick up nails. We found lots of nails, glass, roofing, etc:

It was great to have their truck! We were able to unload some of the cafeteria stuff from the pod and into St. Michael's kitchen:

And here they are. Thanks, Nancy, for inviting them!

Prayer...In Action Day 1 desk and chairs

Here we are moving desks and chairs from a pod to St. Michael's catholic church lawn to be cleaned:

Scrubbing chairs can make your back pretty tired:

Even almost-two year olds can work:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Traveling VBS: Day 5

Day 5: Akron to Alliance

St. Paul's Akron put everyone up in their church rather than homes. We thought our kids might bother others so we stayed in a motel again this night.

The bikes had a short day, so the kids and took a quick trip to the Akron Zoo (I really noticed how hilly it was as I pushed 2 kids in a stroller up and down their paths!). Here, the boys get an up close look at Ariel.

I got lost on my way from Akron to Alliance. I truly believe my map didn't match up to the actual roads. However, with some phone assistance from the SAG coordinator, we did finally arrive at Trinity Episcopal Church in Alliance (no website found). The church members had a wonderful welcome for everyone, and a yummy lunch. There were signs and friendly faces and lots of congratulations.

Most of the bikers were in by noon or one, with the last few arriving mid-afternoon. As we watched the last riders slowly make their way up the slight incline, I was reminded of finishing my marathon 5 years ago and how grueling those last few miles were--and how appreciative I was of the few people still left to cheer me in.

Day 5: We looked at all we had done and called it good.

And on the 5th night, we rested!

Traveling VBS: Day 4

Day 4: Lorain to Akron

Our day began in a motel because there weren't enough parishioner homes for all the Bike and VBS participants to stay. Needless to say, we didn't make any new friends nor gain any wonderful new breakfast recipes. ;)

The weather had been nice up until today, but today it was rainy. We felt sorry for the bike riders as we drove to the Carlisle Reservation. We ran in to the visitor's center and the kids had a great time playing in their kids space. They packed a whole lot of fun into a fairly small space, and it was fun for all our kids, from 20 months to 11 year olds.

We intended for the Raptor Center to be the main focus of today's field trip. And when the rain let up, we did get out to see the kestrals, owls, hawks, and even a bald eagle.

We were allowed to use a wonderful space for our VBS work time. We sang songs, talked about the story of Noah's Ark (appropriate with all the rain!), and then made dragon kites:

Because it was rainy and the kids didn't have as much time running around, we pulled out the parachute and ran some energy off that way:

We didn't get a chance to try our kites out because of the rain, but here are most of the kids showing off their handiwork:

Day 4: We looked at everything and called it good.

Traveling VBS: Day 3

Day 3: Fremont to Lorain

Our family and the bishop stayed overnight with Tina and Tom. They served breakfast of homemade granola bars that were so yummy, we've already made a batch at our house!

Ann Orr's Granola Bars
3c quick cooking oats
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2TB melted butter
1c flaked coconut
1c slivered almonds
1c mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/c dried cranberries
Mix all. Press into greased 9X13 pan.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, more if you like them crunchy.
(you may substitute your favorite ingredients for the add-ins)

We began Day 3 back at the church where the 8 kids played together and the adult chatted. Then we got on the road and went to the Deer Park. Besides having a whole bunch of deer in the enclosure you walk in, they also have a variety of exotic deer, goats, sheep, large bird (emu, rhea, etc), and peacocks. I think the peacocks were the hit for the group. Here's one a the top of a pillar.

And who knew that deer could be intimidating? But when you've got a bag full of food, the 2 dozen + deer are not shy and did intimidate a few of us. Here we are after all the food is gone:

We had a picnic again under the trees at the park. Then we went in search of berry picking and frozen custard at a stop along the bike route. When we arrived, there was plenty of custard to eat, but their berry crop had been ruined by the recent rains. So we bought a bit of pre-picked produce, ate some yummy custard, and were on our way.

When we got to the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Lorain (no website found), there weren't many people there. We found out they had planned dinner at a nearby waterfront park, so we drove over there and had our VBS lesson in a pavillion at the park. We invited some nearby kids and adults to join in our singing, then we heard the creation story and talked about the Fruits of the Spirit and how we can live each one of them in our lives.

Day 3: We looked at everything and called it good.

Traveling VBS: Day 2

Day 2: Maumee to Fremont

Our family stayed with Stephanie and Steve overnight. Stephanie made a wondeful big bowl of fresh fruit salad, and Steve made pancakes so scrumptious that I asked for the recipe.

Steve's Mostly Healthful Pancakes
1/2c whole wheat flour
1/2c oat flour
1/2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1/2t sugar
1/4t salt
1 1/2c sour milk or buttermilk
(optional: add blueberries or chocolate chips)

Our VBS then met at The 577 Foundation in Perrysburg. We had an hour-long tour and then dug for fossils, checked out the bee hives, and had a picnic on the grass. One of the interesting things in their greenhouse was that they had a group of carnivorous plants, and also a sensitive plant that wilts when touched.
Here, the children are testing different types of basil to see if their nose can tell which one is chocolate, mint, or geranium.

The 577 Foundation also had a really great compost set-up. They have 4 bins, each with a 8ft pvc pipe sticking up out of the middle. These pipes have 1 inch holes in them at several points, and help air reach the compost for faster decomposition.
They begin their compost by mixing 1 part green (grass clippings, food) to 2 parts brown (dry leaves, straw, etc). The next week, that compost gets turned into the next bin, and the compost in that bin gets turned to the next that at the end of 1 month, the compost is ready to be sifted and used. Here is the sifting table:

We then went to St. Paul's Fremont for singing, crafts, and our lesson. We invited the bicyclists and parishioners to join us in a lesson about time and God's omniscience. And the VBS was invited to lead singing during our pre-dinner worship.

Day 2: We looked at everything and called it good.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Traveling VBS: Day 1

Day 1: Defiance to Maumee

Our small but mighty VBS began at the Whitehouse Butterfly House. It was fun to be surrounded by so many butterflies. If you look carefully, there is a bright blue butterfly flying right in front of Charlie in this picture:

Besides having a great indoor butterfly house, the grounds were beautiful and had lots to do. We enjoyed a fish pond, some sculptures, a butterfly meadow walk (which the children ran), and the kids even made their own corn maze in the waist-high corn (it will become a true corn maze in the fall when it's tall).

Later in the afternoon, we settled in at the church and worked on some team building games, singing songs, and decorating our bags and water bottles. Today's lesson was about community.

St. Paul's in Maumee has a wonderful adult respite day care program. We asked if we could sing for them, and were greeted warmly by the staff. We sung a few songs, ending with one where we shake hands, rub backs, and give hugs.
What a great way to reinforce that we are part of a bigger community!

Day 1: We looked at everything and called it good.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Traveling VBS

Each year, our diocese has a Bishop's Bike Ride across Ohio. This year, the ride's theme is From Defiance to Alliance. It's the first year my husband will be riding, and the first year we'll be offering a traveling Vacation Bible School for children along with the ride.

Last year, there were this many riders:

And my husband and a few others have these great biking jerseys:

So far, we only have 2 families confirmed as attending the VBS, but we'll go ahead with it as the Beta testing of a traveling VBS.

Each day, we will take a field trip to local points of interest, and have an activity that relates the field trip with something about God. Our trips will include a Butterfly House, the 577 Foundation, Berry Picking, a wilderness area, a zoo, and a pool.

The other coordinators and I are pretty excited about it. Hopefully it will go well this year and we'll have a big increase in enrollment next year.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Living the Cathartic Effect

Alright, like many things on the internet, I've now discovered that the tornado picture in the last post was of one several days earlier in a different state. Still a pretty amazing photo.

But here are some actual photos of my home town, taken by an old friend of mine.

When I was very young, I hung out with two other friends and we were called, "The Three Musketeers." This is the home one of the Musketeers grew up in. Only a wall left standing:

Here is what is left of the High School auditorium where I had my Senior Recital, was part of Bye Bye Birdie, and many other productions:

And this is the Lutheran church across the street from the school. The pews on the left are a mess, but the pews to the right of the aisle were untouched. I've also been told that the walls of this church were green, but the wind stripped them. Wow.

Even though I no longer live there, and the house I grew up in sustained no major damage, I'm still having disaster dreams most nights. I have to carry my mom on my back away from a tornado. My son and I watch a passenger jet crash a few blocks from my house, etc.

So although I normally hate scary movies, last night my husband and I decided to go see "The Happening". It was scary, and more gory than I prefer. But it helped. I was able to say, "That scary thing isn't true," and to let go of some of the real scariness that has been overly affecting me.
It gave me a good reminder about why kids sometimes like to be scared by movies or playing around--it helps them put their real-life fear in perspective.
Thank God for the Cathartic Effect