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about my angel, Marta

almost a year ago, we hired a cleaning lady, who every other week cleans our tiny city apartment. on thursday mornings, we leave the house early so that Marta and her crew can do their magic. 

for awhile, i felt embarrassed that we needed Marta. our apartment is seriously so tiny, we don't have kids, and our work schedules, while busy, are still flexible enough to allow adequate time for cleaning. i felt like a failure not being able to keep the place clean, and silly, every other thursday morning as a i left Marta her check when there were SO MANY other demands for our money. 

but THEN, at christmas i wrote Marta a card telling her how much she meant to us, how she had been God's gift to us this year, and i sort-of cried as i wrote the card thinking about how special this year had been -- every time we came home from work feeling so loved and cared for as we walked into the sparkling clean apartment.

and, at christmas, Marta left me a card, too. it simply said -- I love you, Amy.

she's my angel.

Marta's love and care reminds me of this simple truth: NONE of us can do this thing called life alone. regardless of our current situations: mansion or studio apartment, raising 5 kids or zero kids, working 3 full-time jobs or staying home during the day. NONE of us have it all together, life perfectly balanced. on the good days, for me, life and work and friendships somewhat come together because i did my best + others took care of the rest.

Marta reminds me every other thursday: i love you, Amy. you're not alone. 

i need my husband, friends, family, co-workers, therapist and Marta to tell me, care for me, cover me. let's not shame each other for needing care, instead encouraging + celebrating one another as we're mindful of the care needed and the openess we demonstrate in allowing others to provide. 

much love, friends. be good to yourself. 


{creating} settle-in-time

it's a super busy meeting week for me -- so, i'm re-posting a few of my favorite posts about how to lead great meetings. of course, you know, i'm a NERD for smoothly run, on time, productive, creative, efficient meetings. but, don't hold that against me---i'm cool, too. happy monday! 


everyone needs some good ole' settling-in-time. before a meeting, before volunteering, before getting down to business, they need some time to get settled and to feel ready to participate. 

here's what i've noticed -- people walk into most meetings and need a good five minutes to get settled. they take their coats off, look for the perfect seat, search for a pen, and then{!} when i think they're finally settled and ready to start the meeting, they turn to the person next to them and say -- how was your weekend?! really. did you see "chat about weekend" on my beautiful agenda?

maybe this is obvious already -- but, allowing for settle-in-time does not come naturally to me. when i arrive at a meeting, i'm ready to go. ready to work. we can chat later. but, that's when i'm the leader. because i've already had my settling-in-time. i came early to the meeting, i put my coat away, i found my pen, printed the agendas, and mentally prepared for the meeting before i arrived. 

leaders settle in pre-meeting. participants settle in at the begining of the meeting. 

today: a few things i'm intentionally trying so that participants feel settled and ready to engage in meetings, and so that i feel less frustrated at the beginning of meetings.

build in the time. i'm creating agendas that allow a good five minutes for settling in. i'm not adding a new agenda line, but i'm mindful that the first agenda item also needs to account for settling-in-time so that folks can engage as the meeting starts. 

don't get panicky. let the settling-in-time settle. i notice that when folks are chatting, and looking for just the right seat, and not getting to the work of the meeting quickly enough, i start to feel panicky. i'm nervous we'll run out of time and won't get to everything we need to discuss. i try to tell myself -- this is good! this is the work of the meeting! people chatting, connecting, all good! 

move the meeting along. once it's time, move the meeting to the next topic. settling-in-time can easily turn into a thirty minute free for all, where everyone chats about everything. NOT GOOD. allow for settling, then move the meeting along. if someone does need to chat further, make a note and mention that you'll follow up post meeting. 

oh! oh! also! when it's time to move along, don't say -- let's get this meeting started. i'm so guilty of this! i do this every stinkin' freakin' meeting. settling-in-time is part of the meeting, it's part of the good work that's needed for everyone to fully engage. don't discredit that by implying that the real work of the meeting begins after this time. 

{creating} settle-in-time in order to lead effective, productive meetings. additional tips? 

oh! and, in case you're new to the blog. it's a little passion of mine to lead great meetings. i've previously written additional meeting related posts here. enjoy! 


discipleship {webinar}

a few months ago, i had the opportunity to participate in this INCM webinar with my friends matt + sam. take a listen as we each share our perspectives on discipleship.


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


follow me! {current FAVS}

for the month of january, at willow chicago, we're teaching lessons titled: Follow Me (stories of people who followed Jesus). i LOVE these lessons for so many reasons -- TOP of the list: we have the opportunity to show children that ALL people had + have access to jesus. following Him, being part of His inner circle is not limited to your race, gender, social class, etc. nothing better!

a few of my current favorite things from this unit:

Fishing Set --- we wanted a great fishing toy for our kids, given that many of the people who followed jesus were fishermen. and, let's be honest, land of nod has the best EVERYTHING for kids. so, when this toy went on sale, i scooped it up! if we had the right place to put a fishing curtain, i would have bought this, too!

Foam Stacking Blocks w/Photo Pockets --- i'm LOVING the addition of these photo blocks in our preschool classes. we're currently teaching lessons on people who followed jesus, and we were having trouble finding non-white disciple images. and then, THESE! we added our art to the pockets of the blocks -- thus making the toys a match with the curriculum!

and, this is what it looks like when you combine all the toys to make a new activity. disciples fishing in a giant pond made of brick walls. naturally. 

Kerplunk --- we made these kerplunk games as a small group activity. (they're simple utensil canisters!) after children had quiet time to reflect on how jesus was asking them to follow Him, they played kerplunk. each child had a turn to share how jesus was leading him/her, and then took out a straw. a fun way for kids to share!


Wikki Stix --- have you tried these? SUPER fun! last sunday, the kids shaped the stix to create the crowds that followed jesus. a great way to imagine what the people who followed jesus looked like. 

 now it's your turn---what are your current favorite things? SHARE! we all need new ideas!

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