How To Play

Many of you asked about how I ended up creating my very own version of Advent Candyland. Truthfully, I don't know if there is another version out there. But, this is the one that I imagined. If you love it and choose to use it, please leave a comment and let me know.

The Symbols.
I'm using this as a teaching tool to explain the symbols of the season of Advent so that our kids can look for signs of God coming into their world. I'll start this conversation by talking about road signs which remind drivers to pay attention to certain things while they drive. The symbols of the Advent season are the same idea. They alert us to stay awake to God being revealed to us. Using the insight from Symbols of Faith, I am using symbols that include a manger, a star, an angel and a candle. I will use these symbols in my Children's Sermons during the season. I already wrote one for the candle reflecting this week's Gospel Lesson.

The Game Board.
Using brightly colored paper, I used the road signs symbols and the Advent symbols to create a laminated game board connected by yarn (which simply makes it easy to set up and easy to store). I am grateful for the magic of the xerox machine that made this an easy process. As you can see, it's a flexible game board.

I plan on purchasing gingerbread cookies to use as game pieces (you know, like the game). If I was really good, I would bake cookies but that might poison the children. We will share some sweets though. Rest assured.

The various symbols are interspersed with colorful question marks (the same colors as the brightly colored paper). These are for the trivia aspect of the game, which you can read about below. The bulk of these questions came from the Joy Game in Burlap and Butterflies, which is sadly out of print. I do however recommend it.

How To Play.
As with the game of our childhood, the children will draw cards with one or two colored squares. If there is one blue square, they move on the game board to the first blue square. If there are two blue squares on the card, they move to the first blue square and then continue to the next blue square. It is the end of their turn and the next team plays. (This is planned for a full room of kids, so we will play in teams.)

If the child lands on a question mark, they get a trivia question. If the team answers correctly, they stay where they are (because they have to wait) but if they get the question wrong, the move backward to the color in the question mark. So, if they land on a purple question mark and answer incorrectly, they would move backwards to the first purple square behind the purple question mark. In addition, there are four colorful Advent symbols. At these points, we will stop together and read the prophetic readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. Game play continues after we hear these prophetic words.

The game is over when the first team reaches the end of the board. Everyone will celebrate. It will be great fun.


Hope is Coming.

I make my Christmas cards. Let me clarify. I draw a picture that I xerox multiple copies of so that I can paste them to pre-made cards. I've learned that the pre-made cards are important, because as much as I want to recycle, I don't want to be making that many envelopes. I have better things to do with my time. Really. I do. Anyhow, I make these cards.

Last year, it was an image of three wise women processing with gifts. I happen to love the image. As one of my good friends (and seminary buds) said, it says everything that needs to be said about my faith. This year, there is a lone shepherd. I took the image from a Tibetan shepherd photographed by another source. He had a great smile. I thought he was sweet. Now, the drawing is almost done and I'm relieved that I chose the wording "Hope is Coming" rather than "Yes We Can" because this shepherd looks an awful lot like a certain President Elect. This was not intentional and I don't want to be misunderstood.

So now, I'm worried that I'm going to have to scrap this and draw another image. Sigh. I like it though. I don't want to draw another one. Grr. Maybe I can just add of a pregnant woman in the background on a donkey so it doesn't look like I'm worshipping the Empire. I mean, I'm really happy he's going to be president. I'm counting down the days, but he's not the Savior. Shoot. What a silly thing to stress about...


Advent Candyland

When I asked our kids what they wanted to do in our large room Sunday School event this year, one of the things they wanted to do was play Candyland. No, I'm not kidding. They want to play a board game that has nothing to do with Christianity.

Or at least, that's what they thought. I'm thinking about how I could make this a gmae about Christmas -- or more specifically -- Advent. Istead of colors, I'm thinking about using symbols (or warning signs including road signs, a candle, an angel, a manger and a star). I'm not quite sure how to make this interactive so it's not simply moving an object around a board. I'm thinking about throwing some trivia on a couple of the spots so that they learn something about the Christmas story. I'm not sure how to create the sense of waiting and journey that (for me) is so important during the season. So, now, I ask of your wisdom for my crazy idea. What would you add?


A Bad Sign

Tonight, I'm meeting with the committee that is supposed to be my support in the life of the church. They are supposed to be the group of people that is able to process with me what is happening in our ministry together in this community. However, after their direction of my recent review and the fallout afterward, I feel less than safe with them. I got triangulated and I let it happen. I got stuck between trying to have a better relationship with my colleague and trying to respond to the committee's desire to fix it, rather than just listen. I really needed them to listen. I don't want an answer. I want to be heard, perhaps not even understood but just heard.

However, that's not what happened. I was yelled at by a church member yesterday because I made a mistake. I've allowed the phrase "early in my ministry" to be used against me. I let it happen again yesterday. I got swallowed by this.

And so, this morning I woke up and opened the employment listings. I scanned the document and found nothing that really jumped out at me. I'm having that gnawing question about whether or not I should be in parish ministry at all. (Yes, I said it. It scares me, but I said it.) I thought I had calmed myself down enough to finally come into the office and halfway to work, I started crying. I rushed into the building to hide in the bathroom crying. This is a bad sign. It's not only that I know my cycle is about to begin and I'm all hopped up on hormones. It's just not a good sign when you don't want to go to work. And so, I feel awful.

Totally awful -- especially when I get an email from my collague telling me that he decided to do something on Sunday's worship after all. It didn't matter that he asked me and I said I didn't think it was time. He talked to a church member and she said she would do the crafty work to make this Children's Sermon happen. So, he called me grumpy and he's right. I'm very grumpy today.


Winter Blahs

Could it be that that is what hit me this morning? Or is it the lingering affects of this church committee that is mad at me because they don't think I'm honest (which is really because I don't feel safe with them)? Or is it that I'm just having a case of the Mondays and have nothing to do with snow coming later this week? No matter really. I'm feeling it -- and I think I just need to call it a day and admit that I'm not going to get anything done at church if I attempt to stay.

Yesterday, my parents met Musicman. It was wonderful. They got along. Conversation was great. Musicman is ever perfect. It's freaking me out a little, but it's all very good. He wanted to know the review. I told him my father cried after he left(which is true). And yet, that's kinda how I feel. I need a good cry for no apparent reason.



Several years ago while I was a missionary-of-sorts in Kentucky, I met a little girl. She had bright red hair. It was beautiful. She had made the trip with several other young kids from her home church to do mission work. She was all of 8 and she couldn't stop by with her hair. Of course, I thought she was adorable and we got to talking about her hair. She had just donated 13 inches of her long, beautiful, red hair to Locks of Love. This is why she was constantly playing with her hair. This is why her hair was so short. I was inspired.

On that day, I started to grow my hair out. It was already long but it got longer... and longer... and longer. And then, one day, I asked my dear friend Rev. Ez to go with me so that I could chop off my own 13 inches of hair to be donated to Locks of Love. I needed someone to hold my hand because hair is important to me. My mom lost all of her hair to the dreaded cancer. I remember her losing it. I remember how her coarse head felt beneath my hand when it grew in. In a very bizarre twist, this gesture of chopping of my hair was relating to that loss of my mother's.

Ever since, I have had short hair. It's been nearly four years now that I have had short hair. I've justified that it makes me look older. I don't look quite so young with short hair. You know, like how old women suddenly have curly, short hair when they go fully grey (or as I'm hoping mine will go, white). Now, my hair is getting longer and for the first time in a long time, I'm thinking about growing it out again. I can't help but think that this has something to do with my own comfort in myself -- in a good way. And ya know, that's just a really fun realization. I wonder if I'll actually grow it out.

Shameless Promotion for a Friend

My dear friend John from seminary has been hard at work launching this site with the Methodists in Tennessee a the Church Health Center. I'm very proud of him and all of his hard work and looking forward to using this resource for my ministry. I hope that it supports you too.

The press release announces:

Faith and health are intimately linked. The mission of HopeandHealing.org is to illuminate this connection - that your body and spirit are one. Whether you are a lay person, a pastor, a caregiver, a medical professional or any combination, you will find a way here to put your faith into action. We provide the most effective resources and tools on faith and health.


Just What I Needed

I'm sitting in a coffee shop trying to write my sermon when it's already dark outside. It's been dark for an hour already. I hate this time change stuff. My sermon isn't flowing, so I'm reading blogs. Of course, I turned to Fidelia's Sisters and read this. And friends, this is why I love this organization and believe in our mission. I'm on the brink of tears having just read these words because I can relate.

The seminary student I'm mentoring (the poor thing) asked me last week about why I was ordained. He asked this question after I pushed him about what it means for him to be ordained. I was brazen enough to push him on what ministry is and who gets to do it. Keep in mind, I'm UCC. I'm not even sure you need to be ordained to officiate at Sacraments. I know. Hypocrite! Ah well. So, I'm asking this question of myself because I still haven't given him an answer. Frankly, I don't know. I never thought I would doubt my vocation -- but this week I am. And this article over at Fidelia's Sisters, well, it's a saving grace. God bless all YCW. God bless.


Book Challenge XXI

I picked up this book at one of those discount tables at a big bookstore thinking that the title sounded familiar. I read it as I made my way back home for a little visit with my family. I was going to take my sister on a college visit (which I'm still digesting for another post). It was the first time I have seen my brother since June. He doesn't return calls. He doesn't respond in any way. I think that's why I really picked up this book.

I want him to have a rose garden, but it's not that simple. As this author records her account of mental illness (which is formed by her own story), the worlds between sanity and insanity are complicated by blurry lines. This is one of those books that I wish I could read with others in ministry because I still want to know how we respond. I want to know how we care for those that we don't always understand. I want to be there in a way that I can't be there for my brother. It's too close. I want him to have the damn rose garden, even if it's impossible. Even if he won't take meds or go to therapy. I want him to have the damn garden that I can't give him because I no longer know how to talk to him. And this, dear friends, is why I worry about our ministry to the mentally ill. I worry that we get too close and suddenly give up because we don't know what else to do. It's just not fair. I want us all to have a rose garden. It's all I want. Sigh. It's a good book though.


Reading Challenge XX

So, I accept that I'm a slow reader. I'm only on book twenty and it's November. Oh well. But, I did just finish Mystic River which I now I have to write a reflection on for my writing class. It's a page turner, but falls into the popular thriller category that doesn't really interest me. Now, I have to talk about how it differs from my writing style...