Friday, August 31, 2007

What to Do?

Llama Momma broached this topic a little while back. She raised the issue of churches providing childcare for events involving women. But what if your church can't even muster enough childcare for a Sunday morning? Then what do you do?

That's where we're at where I go to church. More particularly, where I run the church nursery and two-year old class. My team roster contains ten names of wonderful, committed people. The registration for those classes is currently at 14, but will easily go to 17 once the newborns get a little older. 10 adults. 14 infants and toddlers. Can you see why this doesn't work? Especially when those adults can only be in there once a month or less (nor would I expect many to be in there more often, it's demanding work and without a second service it's a huge sacrifice), this amounts to a severe shortage. So far we've had to schedule only two weeks a month to hold our nursery and two's class. Ouch!

So what do you do? Our pastor has put out an appeal for the past two weeks. It's summer. Attendance is low. So naturally we've had virtually zero response. Still our kickoff for Fall classes is one week away and we need to know what we're doing.

Now the children's ministry coordinator has put out an email asking the whole church to pitch in and help one time before the end of the calendar year. So this may get us through til then. But when January comes, then what?

I'm praying. I'm making phone calls (which ranks up there as the number one thing I like to do least. I have a hard time even calling friends to chat. Whether it was those years taking complaints in customer service or what, I don't know. But I'd so much rather email or talk face to face than use a phone).

When it comes down to it, our church has more children than adults. We're putting a bandaid on the problem now. But does that mean it will go away? And honestly, having different people in with these little kids is so incredibly less than ideal. Do that to a grade-schooler and they'll be jarred, but they'll roll with it. For little ones? I don't know. How secure will these children be feeling by January? How hard will it be for their parents to get them to come in there?

It's a bad situation. One that I've spent the last year trying to make the best of. I've tried hard not to run a co-op where all parents have to take their turn helping if they have a child in there. It's a model that works perhaps, but doesn't necessarily serve some of the neediest people in our church. Parents of little ones need a break. I've been trying to give that to them. But instead it looks like church is going to become the last place where they'll get it.

What would you do?

Postscript: Most of the people in our church are working hard. Some of them in two and three different places. And therein lies the complication to my problem: there are few people to turn to for more help.

We've scheduled almost through December with people pitching in for one time during the semester, so the crisis has been averted. But the long-term solution has yet to be reached, and I'm honestly just not sure what that is.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Magical Zoo

Our house is getting busier by the day. We have the delightful company of our favorite dog. The girls are hoping he can stay for at least the remainder of their lifetimes the week. And the three betta fish are all still living, despite one thrashing about so wildly during a bowl change that she ended up on our kitchen floor TWICE. Plus about a week and a half ago two monarch caterpillars joined the fray.

We no longer have the caterpillars. We dutifully fed them milkweed leaves multiple times a day (boy, can those things ever eat). And we even did a container change to empty out all the caterpillar droppings. But then it happened. One of those caterpillars began hanging from the lid, in a "J" shape. Our astute now-third-grader knew what was up after her unit on butterflies last year. "He's going to become a chrysalis now!" she told us. Sure enough, the next morning we found a slimy, pale green blob hanging from the lid. A chrysalis indeed. A couple days later the other caterpillar followed suit. One chrysalis is now brown, soon to turn clear and then...well, we hope they both live for us to see.

So my husband and I were watching the second Harry Potter movie the other night. We were totally engaged in this world of magic and wizards, good versus evil, creatures being turned into objects, objects behaving as creatures. But we had to pause to take the dog for a walk before turning him in for the night. Thus it was in this magic-absorbed state of mind that I stepped into my kitchen and saw the once-caterpillars' again. There, I suddenly realized, was real "magic" taking place. Creatures turning into something different, right before my eyes. And I was amazed by it. Maybe because it wasn't something in a story book, but real, in my own home. Maybe because it really does border on the mythical.

I'm glad that my daughters love bugs and creepy crawlies. Thanks to their inquisitiveness about the creaturely world I'm able to witness to such a thing. What magic!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Parents swarmed about, each brandishing the mandatory camera, catching as many moments of this FIRST as they could. Some children stood stiffly in line, afraid to move or to even shift that new backpack. Others hopped from foot to foot, eager to start the day, the year. Down each line came the respective teacher, gently greeting the boys and girls and applying a nametag to each one. All too soon the process was completed. The bell rang. Parents stepped backward, some tripping over younger siblings in their effort to make way for the procession. Tears blurring their eyes. The lines began to stream around the corner and in the door. Then a line suddenly broke off at one child who'd become dazed and missed the movement in front of him. With a prod to his back he regained his focus. Where was the rest of the line? He raced straight ahead, aiming for the wrong door. For the old door. The door of kindergarten.

The rest of the line followed. Cattle. Lemmings. New first graders unsure of this new year of school. Someone waved and turned them around. Back to where they'd started. On around the corner and into the first grade door at last. Starting a new year. Building new habits.

This was funny to watch. And it was almost as funny to hear of third graders who, returning to their class after recess, accidentally went to their second-grade classroom. More than one of them, to more than one room. Oh, the laughter in that school. The joyful confusion of building new habits and new routines.

I'm glad for the new school year. I like the transition, the definite beginning point and a chance to start things new. Like new habits and new routines. Mine are still rough. I'm still returning to the old habits I'd like to erase. And I have to laugh and turn around to redirect my course.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Love...

tulle. I honestly do. It's great stuff. And it's cheap. I bought like bunches of yards of it when it was on sale for fifty cents a yard.

I know, you're thinking to yourself, "but why?".

Well, first of all, tulle (otherwise known as "illusion" - see, another reason to love it) is different than plain netting. The holes are smaller, finer. It's what bridal veils are made of. But it comes in lots of colors other than white. It's poufy and girly. And you can use it for all sorts of things. Wrap it around a fake tree for a romantic touch; drape on banisters or along tables for party decorating. Pull it around a bonnet to tie under your chin like Mary Poppins. Or cut a length to tie up gifts. Cut it into circles, fill with Jordan Almonds, tie closed with a bow and Presto! you're ready to throw a bridal shower. A very versatile, and - did I say it before? - cheap fabric.

I write all this because I now have gobs of tulle at my disposal after using them to decorate for the previously mentioned book launch (if you were there, did you even notice? ...No? Aha! See why they call it "illusion"?). And I am so pleased about this. There will be no lack of romantic decorations in my household for years to come. No uber-princesses crying for lack of veils or tulle skirts. No bridal showers without favors. No more unadorned ponytails or packages. My friends, this is one happy, tulle-filled house.

Okay, maybe not. There is still one male living in our household. So the tulle is tucked away until needed (like say, tomorrow). But just ask, and I'll be happy to show you my stash. All five colors. It's stunning.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Book (Warning: Shameless Promotion to Follow)

There's a new book being released later this week. It's called "Pampering Gifts: Crafting a Ministry of Treating People Well For Less". As you can see, the author has graciously allowed me to post an image of it here on my blog.

Now, before I tell you more about it, you must know that I'm a bit biased. However, so far five of five readers have liked the book, and one of them wasn't even a friend of the author. Must be good, right? So what's it about?

Pampering Gifts is a how-to guide on creating gifts for ministry events or even just to say thank-you to your babysitter (or somebody like that). The idea is to give people a place to start on coming up with inexpensive gifts or decorations, without having to reinvent the wheel. I mean, let's face it: those bridal/baby shower favor books almost always have you spending an arm and a leg. And when you're doing it for a non-profit, or wanna have just a little something extra for someone, that doesn't always cut it. Plus, there are actual instructions for fifty or so gifts and decorations (hey, pretty much like what you've been seeing here). And these are all things that have been used by a mom's group - they've been tested and approved! The author claims that most of them cost a dollar or less (for the gift ideas), with the more expensive centerpiece stuff running like five to ten bucks. With inflation, they might run you a little more, but still, that's pretty cheap.

Okay, so on to the promotion stuff: the author is having a book launch (an open house dessert event)Thursday evening at the CrossTown Church office. See "Upcoming Events" on her web site for details.

Oh, and you can get more info (even see photos of projects and get FREE instructions) at Come book release day (Thursday), you'll even have the option to buy it online at her site.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Some Musings on Faith

I've been relatively silent on matters of faith recently. Not for lack of faith, but rather for lack of words and a fear of speaking negatively in the midst of trials. After all, who likes to listen to whining?

Faith. A big word. Sometimes too big to be accurate. But sometimes the only word.

"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last..." Romans 1:17

By faith from first... - when the scales drop away from our eyes and we see our own sin for the nastiness that it is. When we see God for who He is. When we throw ourselves on Jesus work on the cross in taking the punishment our sin deserves. Then that righteousness comes from Jesus to us, so that our sin is gone and God sees the righteousness of Jesus when He looks at us. last - by faith (dependence and trust in God) I am able to do right things, to live a righteous life. And so my faith continues to work out in me what God already sees to be true. Day by day. In the good times and in the tough times. Up to the last.

The way I understand it, I am not righteous in God's sight because I do the right. I do what is right because I am already considered righteous by virtue of my faith. Oh it is a slippery concept, but at times I catch a corner of it and get a tiny grasp before it slips away again.

Faith? What I know about it for sure is that it's a decision. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. I decide that what I read in the Bible about God is true. I determine to believe that God is good and faithful, even when I've fasted and prayed and yet the book I'd worked so hard to have done for a conference isn't completed by the publisher in time. By faith I watch for the different answer, for what will happen when it does come. And by faith I wait. It's a long hard road, but the journey is an adventure. And the company is great!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

At the Bottom of the Food Dining Chain

(photo by Jason L. Gohlke, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

During our wonderful, relaxing vacation we had occasion to eat out. Three times. Once going there, once on the drive back, and once because A Musing Dad, who did a terrific job of grocery shopping and packing for our five days in the "wild", forgot a crucial dinner ingredient (and we forgive him, because, well he did so much to make the rest of the trip great). So we tried a new local-to-our-favorite-campground food joint. It was good enough. And the fast food during our car rides wouldn't have been memorable except for two things: I nearly got hit by a car while carrying food to our van across two parking lots (yes, the man was on his cell phone and never once noticed me as he backed within inches of me and two of my children, while I screamed at him to "STOP! ...HEY YOU, LOOK OUT! ...GET OFF YOUR PHONE & STOP! ...STOP!!!").

The other memorable part of that meal? The spork. Have you ever thought about what an ingenious invention this is? Two utensils in one! How much better can it get, especially for a clutter-buster like me? So I began musing about why it is that the spork hasn't really taken off as a household implement. Think about it: you can buy a ton of sporks and then never have to worry about having lots of forks when you really need spoons (while we're on the topic: why is it that we run out of spoons so much faster than forks when we own twice as many spoons to begin with?).

Then I thought about it more. And I figured out the reason the spork has been largely unused in households. It's because it's at the bottom of the dining chain. After all, when you're invited to a dinner, be it a wedding reception or other catered event, or even just a friend's house, what tells you how swanky the meal is going to be? Maybe the china, the crystal, the flowers. But really, REALLY what tells you the level of entertaining is the Amount of Silverware on the table. The more baffling the flatware array, the pricier and longer the meal. Enter the spork: one utensil where two could be. Is it no wonder then that the only place you ever find this eating implement is on the floor of your car? It is the essence of the bottom of the dining chain. You find a spork next to your plate and you know that there is not a seared ahi tuna or fresh foie gras to be seen for miles (then again, it also may just be that you're in Chicago). But mashed potatoes? Bean burritos? You'll find those a-plenty.

So I quickly abandoned my campaign to get the spork into every American kitchen. Heaven knows we all need to eat a little better than that day in and day out!