“Flat Jesus” and Look for God

For the past few summers our church has handed out laminated paper cut-outs of “Flat Jesus” and encouraged people to take one wherever they went. It was a simple, tangible way for us to remember that God was with us on vacation, at the beach, on a mission trip, at the zoo, or anywhere! Church…

Those adorable, demanding fledglings and the empty nest

There was a loud, unrelenting, incessant sound of birds chirping outside my kitchen window one morning a couple of weeks ago. I delight in watching and hearing backyard birds as they gather at the bird feeders, but this chirping was more persistent than the usual, quotidian bird sounds. Ever since I learned the word quotidian,…

Wind, Fire, and Earth — Pentecost

It’s a mysterious day of celebration. It is confusing and yet comforting. It brings power and peace. It is Pentecost. When is Pentecost, and why does the date change every year? Pentecost is not just assigned on a random date to fill a low Sunday or to keep worshipers on their toes. There’s a real…

Fun and (nearly) free: Spring garden party

Spring is a great time to host a fancy garden party for little children. Invite friends with written invitations, and get ready for a fancy outdoor tea party. Dress up. Used teen party dresses are easy to find at thrift stores and can be transformed into long elegant dresses for little girls with no more…

Fun and (nearly) free: Summer bike wash

Want something cool to do with children when the temperature rises? Kiddie pools and lawn sprinklers are great, but you can turn water play into a fun event with a bike wash. Invite children to bring their bikes, trikes, wagons, or any washable toys to your driveway and give them a good cleaning! It’s fun…

My relationship with cake

Cake and I go way back. My mom made a cute elephant cake for my first birthday, using instructions from this 1959 edition book of Animal Cut-up Cakes. It was a nifty little book that showed what type of baking pans to use and how to cut the cakes into pieces and arrange them into…

Are you a rusty old pitcher?

This is a very basic message that could be tweaked for a children’s sermon about how everyone has a purpose. It could be a group devotional, personal reflection, or any time you need a reminder that you are beautiful and valuable. When you are open and available to be filled with God’s love, God can…

Thoughts of Mom, from a 21-year-old daughter

I was reluctant to write this cheery blog, because I know that Mother’s Day brings pain to many. It is probably the day that is filled with the greatest emotional gut-punch. Although there are those of us whose mothers are still alive and who have secure and loving relationships with our mothers, there are also…

How to show appreciation to your child’s teacher

Teachers are hard-working, underpaid professionals, and the magnitude of their influence is immeasurable. During Teacher Appreciation week we recognize their dedication and show our gratitude. A few days ago, in preparation for Teacher Appreciation Week, I wrote a blog about how teachers don’t really want another coffee mug or paperweight. In that blog I suggested…

May baskets: the anonymous gifts

I lived most of my childhood in this home in a peaceful neighborhood in Minnesota where the mailman delivered letters to the box by the front door, the paper carrier gently placed the daily news inside the screen door, and a milkman brought glass bottles of milk to the doorstep. Maybe there was a hedgerow…