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Wednesday
Jan282015

multicultural curriculum {part 2}

thank YOU for asking for updates on our multicultural, custom curriculum. it's been SO encouraging chatting with you and others on how to create activities that reflect the beauty of all children. sometimes, when i'm caught up in the sunday-sunday-sunday-sunday madness, i forget to pick up my head, look around, and be reminded that we're in this together. we're praying, encouraging, strengthening each other, always.  

so, writing curriculum is NO JOKE. of course, you know this, but STILL. there's always another lesson, another story, another song looming. let's just be honest. 

and, yet, it feels SO worth it. yesterday, i was tweaking the lessons for this sunday, and felt such a rush, such excitement and anticipation for our kids to experience the story of ruth + naomi, with images and activities, and time to process how they, boys + girls, from all sorts of backgrounds + families, might contribute to the restoration of God's kingdom. WORTH IT. 

above is our ONE page we've created to highlight + remind ourselves of the values. download if it's helpful for you. i'll be using this during our volunteer huddles this month to inspire our leaders!

we're working hard to build a culture of noticing. we want kids to see each other, and respond in friendship. each sunday, we have some type of noticing station or activity. i LOVE this. it's key to our overall vision that kids see their similarities + differences, and call out the beauty in each other. recently, i added an activity to our home papers in which kids write or draw the friends they saw at church that day. this sunday, i noticed a kid's paper which was filled with a long list of names of friends. my heart LEPT. i love that kids see each other. 

graphics, images, visuals are EVERYTHING. i'm embarrassed to say, until recently, i hadn't noticed how white most images are that are associated with children's ministry curriculum. bible characters and jesus, specifically. i asked chi chi how this happened -- because, historically speaking, the old + new testament ancestors were not white. she had a fantastic explanation about various traditions using images for power, and it was enough to make me sick. PEOPLE. i know we can't change things like this overnight, but let's be mindful, let's ask questions, let's do better for our kids. AGREED?

because of our multicultural context {mixed race, diverse families; African American, Asian, White, Latino}, i can't show all white images. i mean, none of us should really, but i especially can't. i want our kids to see themselves in the stories, to know that God's world and stories belong to all of us. and, even more, i want our kids to truly embrace Genesis 1:26-27, that we're all made in his image, to reflect HIM. and, how can i accomplish this if the visuals i display are only of one race? 

we've been creating original art along with the lessons. we have 2 fantastic volunteers, aaron + molly, who are contributing INSANE amounts of time researching and designing. i'm a curriculum writer, not a graphic designer, but for the first time, i'm seeing how important and dependent the two must be on each other. my lessons are NOTHING, if not represented visually accurate. we're focusing on: hair texture, skin tone, and clothing. 

joseph + mary + angels. of which, we made lifesize cardboard characters for classroom display. we wanted the kids to feel surrounded by the story. LOVE! 
 

we're in this together, of course. i'm always in need of new inspiration, and if you're trying to figure out similar things, let's share ideas + resources. we'd love if you'd join our facebook group, and contribute your ideas. much love. for the sake of all kids.

Wednesday
Jan212015

CPC {2015}

it's CPC {children's pastors' conference} TIME!

this week -- i'll be in TN. hope to see you + encourage you.

here's where you can find me:

COACHING SESSIONS 

WORKSHOP #7: LOCAL Community -- Connecting with Leaders in Your Community

GENERAL SESSION #5: Celebrating My Community 

and, of course, wherever there's COFFEE, you'll see me. 

ALSO: during the general session on friday night, we'll be sharing a bit about our context at willow chicago + the custom, multicultural curriculum we're creating for our kids + families. we'll unveil a facebook page for folks interested in joining the conversation about how to create a new type of diverse activities for kids. if you're interested in the topic -- i'd love if you contributed to the page. or, send an email to: curriculum@willowchicago.org. 

finally. INCM asked me to create this short video with a word of encouragement for my fellow kidmin leaders. whether i'll see you at CPC or not, be encouraged. much love.

Monday
Jan192015

on MLK {day}

today on MLK day. 

i promise to do all i can to help children notice + appreciate each other. to help them understand that we're all interwoven, connected, and affected by each other's well-being. 

i want kids to know the world is broken, unfair, and not the way God intended or hoped. that injustice, violence, and selfishness are not the ways of Jesus. ever. 

i promise, today, to remind + educate children so they know that God created them in his unique + beautiful image to contribute to the restoration of his kingdom on earth. 

that their differences, when matched together for the sake of greater collaboration + good, will actually change the world. towards greater love, fairness, kindness, peace. 

today on MLK day.

i recommit my life + ministry to the calling God has placed deep in my heart. to be a voice, advocate and champion of peace for the sake of children in my community. to risk greatly so that every child would know God's love fully, and see herself + himself in God's story. 

in the words of my favorite 5 year old -- "MLK worked to help fix things that were not fair." 

may we all do the same. 

 original image created by Molly Z. for willow chicago custom curriculum. ©Willow Chicago

Monday
Jan122015

the new year, so far

happy new year, and so much to say. i'll keep it short-ish. 

first up, we had the best holiday. lots of family, lots of rest, and a new baby niece added to our family. of course, our hearts are bursting in love. god is SO good to give nieces + nephews.  

then, our very first day back to work after the holidays was our child dedication + baptism service. we've tried something new in which we hold both celebrations in the same service. simply put: IT'S AWESOME. i think, it gives a great vision for what the two public committments mean. parents dedicating + choosing to raise their children in faith, and then, BAPTISM, the fulfillment of so many prayers and hopes all come together in a choice, a decision to follow and serve Jesus. 

during dedication, i said a few words about the significance of the dedication, and how the children of our church are all of our responsibilities -- that we'd never allow these parents to feel alone in their journey. we'd pray for, serve, care for, and cheer them on, always. it was a really special moment. i felt the group with me -- committed to the children of our church and their growing faith.

and THEN my boy Owen was baptized. OWEN. a 6th grader, who's been through a heap of tough stuff in the last year, and yet, has a great faith that's growing, made a decision to go public and be baptized. while he was on stage, i prayed that God would continue to heal and strengthen his heart, and that he'd use his talents to contribute to to restoring God's kingdom in the city. it was all i could do to contain my totally uncontrollable tears, in joy and praise for a God who makes all things new. 

 and now, onto a new curriculum unit for january. somedays it feels like we're writing new lessons every-day over-and-over, and maybe that's because we ARE. curriculum is hard work, and also, worth it all. this month, we're teaching old testament lessons on moses + ruth + naomi + deborah, and through it all, we'll remind kids that God helps + rescues, and often demonstrates his help by sending someone to be his blessing, his conduit. because, at the core of our curriculum is the value that we're all created in the divine image of God {regardless of our background, family makeup, or skintone}, and that we're all capable of contributing to fixing our broken world + city.

so, we'll do that again this month and believe that the spirit will speak to our kids, and help them make connections on how they're god-given strengths match up with the world's great needs. 

ALSO. if you're compelled by what i'm saying about the curriculum, and our willow chicago context, consider joining my team. in 2015, i'm hiring! more on that here. 

let's do this 2015!

Sunday
Dec212014

christmas is for us, too

december. the month of twinkly lights and hot cocoa, christmas parties and neatly wrapped gifts. and also, december is the month of STRESS and short tempers and messy houses.

i asked my husband if he knew of a housekeeping service that cleaned houses only during december. because of our schedules, my house is a disaster with no current plans for a good cleaning. 

working in the church during the month of december is a joy. and, PURE crazy. church-event-church-event-church-event. pastoring, pastoring, pastoring. so much need. with little margin for error, and even less margin to breathe. no room to take notice that christmas is for US, too. 

christmas is for pastors and children's ministry leaders, too. of course, our ministry is to serve. and during december, there's a lot of serving to be done. but, in the midst of our serving, leading, pastoring, we have got to notice that christ the divine child has come for us, too. 

christmas is not about crazy. it's just the opposite. jesus, a child, came to the world to bring peace and light, and a break from the crazy we've known. he came to free our souls and give new life. 

pastoring and leading in december is not just about giving endlessly to others. it's also about reflecting on the divine magic and mysteries of the season. it's about receiving the words of hope for ourselves as we offer hope to others. it's about allowing the choir's songs to inspire our spirits as we expect the songs to inspire the congregation's spirits. christmas is about renewing our simple faith as we teach simple lessons to the children in our churches.

be open. someone might just minister to you this season. WHAT.

this christmas, of course, serve the people of your church with great zeal and commitment. but, don't forget to pause a few times and receive the blessing of the christ child.

today, trying to be gracious and kind to myself -- christmas is for me, too.