It's not a PD Day,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

But I'm going to blog anyways.

It's actually a bit of a 'free' afternoon for me, as another little homeschooled girl comes over to play ("socialize". Gotta have that hs'er buzz word in there). The girls race all around the house in fairy princess costumes and leave me

The past 7 days or so have left my . This is to say that I've had an on slaught of new and inspiring/stressful ideas to consider and also stressful events to add to it all.

Last week (on the actual PD day) I spent about 2 hours talking with two moms: one a homeschooler like myself and the other a mom who's had some experience with homeschooling, but generally is sending her kids to public school. She's also got a son with a number of challenges beyond the 'norm' so she had a good handle on where I'm coming from with Jairus.

By no means should you picture me having a with two friends. Hoohooo no, my friends. We made the grande error of scheduling this visit at the local . On a PD day. What were we thinking. Well, we weren't; we didn't have a PD day so we didn't think about the rest of Hamilton having one. So it was a . Just keeping an eye on my four while trying to talk was enough of a challenge, busting-at-the-seams full playland or not. About three times I had to take off at a full speed run down the length of the restaurant to snatch Afton from the brink of the parking lot, her giggling wildly all the way and making the drinking their coffee chuckle.

Anyways, it was a very interesting conversation which yielded some ideas I'm going to try or at least look into. One of those ideas was for us to learn sign language to help Jairus. At first I was rather horrified at the thought. We send him to speech therapy every week, and keep his augmentative communication device charged, and search out funding to send him to Tomatis training because....we want him to talk. With his mouth.
But here he is, 9 years old, and....can't really talk. His comm device, small amount of signed english, miming/acting out and inflected murmurs do not always do the trick. There are sometimes when we just don't know what he is trying to say. And those are moments indeed.
So I allowed the thought to for a bit. And it really started to. And I am rather excited at the possibility. Now just to find out where this can be done, how much it will cost and whether 2.5 year olds can learn too. Because if we're going to do this, we're all going to do it.

In comes the stressful event. Now, remembering that Jairus at one time in his life (for 3.5 years) could not even eat through his mouth, that when he did start eating he preferred yogurt and pudding and anything else of that consistency (and still does prefer them to this day; more the pudding), that he's undergone 2 previous x-ray swallow studies (one at about 6 weeks old) and that while he looks "normal", his dentist is still quick to remind me that his jaw is still quite small, Jairus choked on his food the other night.
As usual, I've berated myself for not keeping records on this sort of thing, but it's happened before. The first time was when he was about 9 months old and I was trying to put an ng-tube down his nose. He gagged and brought up phlegm, only to have it block his airway. I'll never forget the terror of that moment.
Jump ahead a number of years. We had bought one of those . Little did we know that hidden among the thin slices of tender beef was one big, thick, gristly piece. Which unbeknownst to us ended up on Jairus' plate. In his bid for independence, Jairus was attempting to take care of his own cutting, and somehow this piece ended up lodged in his throat. He of course managed to clear it and an extremely terse letter to Maple Leaf followed.
The incident repeated this past summer with a piece of chicken skin. And now Tuesday night while we were eating tacos. Tacos?
Yes. The only thing I can figure was that a piece of shell was caught, causing a traffic jam with what was swallowed after. After managing to clear his airway, Jairus spent the rest of the evening huddled on my lap. And I was happy to have him there.

The next morning I launched on my journey to get this looked into. Stop A was with the . Why is it that we can never actually speak to our doctors? The receptionist, seemingly used to parents using urgent language, did not seem at all concerned that I connect with the doctor. She insisted that I'd have to make an appointment and it would like not happen until January. I wanted to pull my hair out. She suggested I talk to my family doctor.
So that was stop B. This included pitstop B1 to call my phone company for the second time to ask them to figure out why suddenly the automated phone system at my doctors clinic does not recognize my phone. I've been racking up long distance charges (my dr. is in Brantford) on my cell phone (which it strangely recognizes) because it doesn't matter if I push 1#, 2# or 3#, nothing happens. I've been assured from both ends that it is not their problem.
Again, the receptionist wouldn't let me talk to my doctor, but I could talk to his . Oh, but wait, better yet, I could talk to her voice mail. At this point I insisted on talking to a real person and gave her a brief explanation of why. With a seemingly sympathetic tone, she connected to me to what I thought would be the nurse. But no. It was her voicemail. I left a message using slightly more buzzwords of an urgent nature then probably necessary and insisted she call me immediately. I heard nothing the rest of the day.
Stop C was to call Jairus' old Occupational Therapist to ask her to look at her notes and determine if we had dealt with this issue before and when. This kind of ammunition is good when heading into doctor territory. Again, I left a voicemail. She only works Wednesday and Thursday mornings but alas, I did not hear from her yesterday or today. Double
Pitstop C1 was to talk to James to see if he could do anything in person from the Mac side of things. He tried calling the pediatricians offices but got the same snippy-snip as I did. He went down to the doctors academic offices and discovered he was at another hospital for the day. Finally, we settled on an email that we knew would be delivered to the doctors blackberry. I wrote it up and James sent it from his Mac address so that it wouldn't be caught by some snippy-snip receptionist. We got a read receipt about 2pm yesterday. As of now, the doctor has not contacted us, and he apparently leaves the country tomorrow. Complete growl of
I called back the family doctor today to have the nurse tell me she tried to call back but got various messages of out of order, not available and other such crap. After I gave the receptionist a piece of my (nicely of course) (sorta) I had to argue my position with said nurse about whether or not a swallow study was in order. She insisted Jairus needed to come in and see the doctor (how much do I hateth that line? Let me count the ways....) but at least she got him in for Monday. I had her call my line directly back which of course worked perfectly.

This morning I had to wake Jairus up. I've probably had to do that, oh, never in his entire nine years of life, so I was understandably concerned. He just would not get out of bed, and said his throat hurt. My mind conjured up visions of an injury in his throat from the choking, or the start of aspiration pneumonia but his temp seemed fine. I was all set to keep him at home when suddenly he was hollering from the bathroom that he didn't like the bubbles Afton had left from her baby wash floating in the bathwater as he was trying to get in. Eewy bubbles.

How many of us truly anticipate the level of fear and stress that await us once we become parents.

Not I, said the .

I do love

Friday, October 1, 2010

PA days.

Ever since realizing a few weeks ago that in a 7 day week I don't have a day off, I was pleasantly surprised to find that today was a PA day. Yes, I realized that before I took Jairus to school. :-P

I think I've used a PA day before to blog....interesting.

I decided that the girls would have a PA day too....although does that mean I need to be professionally improving myself?

But back to the day off thing. With starting the Musikgarten classes on Saturdays, doing the childrens program on Sundays, and choir, homeschooling, gymnastics, highland dancing, etc during the weekdays, this means that I don't have a regular (consistent), full day that I'm not obligated to be doing something. I mean, other then the obvious feeding and caring for my family. Until a PA day or other holiday, I no longer have a day that I can wake up to stretching out before me with no added stress already attached to it. Kinda depressing.

So I can see that it's been a number of months since I've blogged. I actually have a blogpost already composed, sitting on my computer just waiting for me to control C and send it out to ya'll. But somehow I'm not so interested in doing that right now. Maybe later. It was a post all about our summer trip up to Mr. Leeks cottage near Kingston. Fun times.

I have so much going on that I can't even think of where to start blogging about it. I probably shouldn't even be blogging.
I should have made a list of computer jobs before I even sat down, like my home manager coach suggested. But I sat down regardless and got an email that my SNAP Hamilton article and pictures were now published from my August 28th Open House. Cool. You can see them shortly over at my Musikgarten blog. So then I was purchasing the picture files from SNAP and downloading them, and posting them on FB and Twitter.
But before this I got 2 things done from my todo list: getting my license renewed and dropping off a proposal to the preschool at my church about maybe doing some regular Musikgarten classes for them. This was all quite an accomplishment with 4 kids in tow, one refusing to walk on his left foot after tumbling down the stairs this morning. I still think he's being a bit of a drama king.
Honour's hives have all but disappeared. She's got a few little spotties here and there, but I think we're past the worst. Sigh of relief.
This is my church's 20th anniversary this weekend. I should be making a large display about MountainKids to be put up tomorrow....guess I'll do that soon. The nice thing is that I get a week off of doing the kids program. Pretty pathetic to be happy about that when we've only done like 2 weeks of program so far.
An absolute swimming pool of laundry downstairs. Mostly clean. I have to get at least the washing/drying part caught up for tomorrow. I won't say why.
Finally got around to completing the funding application for Jairus to have tomatis therapy. Now just to send it off.
Also finally got some commercial general liability insurance set up for my Musikgarten classes. Blast that you need to have that stuff. It's costing me about 80% of my rent amount per month.

I had to sever my profile from my blogs. So if I comment somewhere, or otherwise make my profile seen, you can't click back to my blog. Hopefully I can change this soon, but it's a long story and for now, I can't have them connected. In case you were wondering. I'm sure you were.

I should be figuring out supper, maybe even starting it. And tidying up because were having friends over tonight. Not that tidying could really even help this place.

Ok, well there's my rambling update.

I do love PA days. :-)

Mountain Musikgarten!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I've started a business. I didn't realize I would be starting a business....but I have. How crazy does that sound!?!

This is just a quick post, because it's freaking 1 o'clock in the morning and my eyes feel like they've been sucking onions (ok, yes, the only illustration coming to me at 1am). I just wanted to make a connection here from my blog. Hubby's been working like a dog getting a new website up for me ( and tonight I just added a blog so that I've got a way to easily update things without having to wait for him to get home from work. (!!)

So do pay a visit...right now there's only one post, but take a look and become a 'follower' just so I don't have to keep seeing that "you have no followers yet" message. How depressing!

Thanks, ya'll..... :-)


Really, this is an emergency!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

So a couple weeks ago, we dug into our newly attained emergency fund emergency. Really.

What you see here, is the screen of our 37 inch LCD TV [that my brother Paul gave us for Christmas 2 or 3 years ago] after Verity flung a toy across the room at it. An accident, of course. The whole screen should be the same light blue as the left side is. The teeny spot of light blue in the midst of the black in the upper right quadrant is the location where the toy hit.

We were pretty upset. We never would have bought something like that for ourselves at that time; in fact the only reason my brother knew we wanted a new TV was because I posted on Facebook, asking if anyone had an old one lying around they wanted to gift to us, because our 15 year old second hand TV was dying. Him splurging on this for us for Christmas that year was a total shock and we were just amazed.

James got on the internet and started researching how to fix a broken LCD screen. The results were not encouraging. Jokes on TV repair forums ran the likes of "Now you've got a huge funky looking conversation piece for your family room". He did finally find a company that sold replacement screens in the States. 2-300$ for the screen and about an equal amount to ship it, plus duty to cross the boarder. Sigh.

So here was where we were faced with our first decision about whether to use our emergency fund. Yes, it's there for such situations where a major appliance breaks and needs to be replaced. But a stove or washer just feels like a more legitimate use of an emergency fund.

It didn't take long though, for James and I to agree that we wanted to replace it--replace it immediately and replace it with roughly what we had there. So we threw the kids in the van and went on over to TigerDirect where we found a Toshiba 40inch LCD for $599. It was discounted a fair bit because it was a web return (buyers remorse I think) and the box was munched during shipping. The TV itself was perfectly fine. We were pleased to get a good deal and a few more inches.

A couple days ago, I was on the Dave Ramsey forum and while asking for advice on a different issue concerning emergency funds, someone there posted a response that called into question our decision. To quote them exactly:

"And, I'm not requesting any information, but I will make a statement: if you used the emergency fund money for a non-emergency, I would look very hard at behavior and priorities. "

I'll admit, this fed a little on my doubts about spending that money. But then I really got thinking about it and talking to James. First of all, this person had no business or place to question our decision. It's our money. We worked hard to save it. If I had been asking for opinions about whether our decision had been reasonable, then they could have spoken up. But I didn't.
Furthermore, I was struck with what we had accomplished in having the money to buy a 500$ TV without going into debt. When I got past the guilt, it was great feeling. The bottom line is that this was completely our decision and we don't have to justify it to anyone except God. Since he owns it all, and we are just the caretakers, the three of us are the only ones involved in the semantics of it.

And we have so been enjoying our TV!

Getting Away

Thursday, July 1, 2010

For once I'm going to use my blog to spread the love instead of whining. :-)

Two weeks ago at this moment, I was waking up in a beautiful bed and breakfast at Niagara on the Lake. James and I got away for our 14th anniversary. It was heavenly.

I think I've figured out that this is the first time we've gotten away since we had kids. That would be 9 years! We did go away when I was 8 months pregnant with Verity (5 years ago) but I don't really count that. 8 months pregnant does not make for....well....a very romantic, relaxing time away.

So about a year and a half ago, Jamie's boss at Horizon gave him a Christmas gift of a $100 gift certificate to an organization that lets you choose from a number of Bed and Breakfasts. At the time I thought that was really nice, but not so thrilled about it, as Afton was only about 8 months old and I was still looking at at least a year of nursing. Our certificate would have to be saved for a while--good thing it didn't have an expiry date.

Then about 6 weeks ago James informed me that he had made the arrangements for us to use it for our anniversary. I weaned Afton back in March (as you might remember me triumphantly posting about here) so we were free and clear. I was so excited. I listen to 96.3 a fair bit and hear Libby Zymer with her Zoomer report and I recall one that talked about the excitement of anticipation when it comes to holidays. She said that basically, the anticipation almost becomes better than the holiday itself and makes the results of it last longer. I was happy to take part in
Our actual anniversary date was on the 15th, the Tuesday before we were to go away. James surprised me (really, honestly surprised) with an amazing bouquet of roses.
Two weeks ago yesterday, James took the day off and we packed up some stuff. We got to my parents just before lunch. The four kids were extraordinarily excited to be sleeping over at Nana and Papa's. Then we headed of to NOTL.
An afternoon spend exploring NOTL is something James and I have made a special treat. About once a year we usually take a trip down there and poke in and around the shops for a few hours. Always a stop at Maple Leaf fudge, usually a Christmas ornament purchase at the Christmas Store, a wander through a few galleries. I love to eat at the Shaw Cafe, almost more for the decor than the food (although the food is fantastic too).
When it's just an afternoon though, there's always the subtle pressure that someone else is dealing with my four kids and we should really be getting back. How lovely it was to know that we had not just the afternoon, but the evening, the night and a bit of the next day too!

After our usual prowling up and down the main street, we got back to the van and made the short jaunt over to our B&B, the Duncan-Quinn House. I have to admit, I was a little unsure about what staying in a B&B was going to be like. I rather like the anonymity of a hotel. I worried that staying in a room of someones house, likely next to another couple staying in another room would be....awkward. The last and only time I stayed in a B&B was as a teenager, when my choir went down east and we were billeted in Lunenberg. My billet was a couple who were just about done renovating their house into a B&B. It was quite lovely I remember.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the hostess, Jane. I was a little surprised when she handed us a key to the house and our room---it was more like a hotel then I thought it would be. She showed us up to our room, which James had chosen; the nicest in the house. It had a large four poster bed and a few tables and bureaus and such. There was a sitting chair I believe and a walk in closet. Attached was a beautiful, very large ensuite, with a corner fitting jacuzzi tub. Everything was immaculately neat (a welcome escape from my own house) and clean and beautifully decorated. The bed was sooooo started me thinking again about replacing our mattress which is who-knows-how-old and not even comfortable with a padded mattress cover.
Here's a few pictures of the house and our room.

After we registered, James slipped out to get a few things and I spread my scrapbooking stuff on the bed and worked on the choir album I wanted to get updated before the choir BBQ the next evening.
Then it was time to head out to supper. The restaurant James had made an reservation at was within walking distance from the B&B, The Cannery, which is in a resort/hotel type place called The Pillar and the Post. It was a really nice place (nicer than the picture on the website infers--I didn't even see pizza on the menu). They brought us each a little shrimp cocktail after we had ordered, which was really yummy. I had ordered the prime rib and James ordered a steak and both meals were superb. Jane, our host from the B&B, upon hearing where we were going for supper (and that this was our anniversary) gave us a certificate for complimentary deserts. I ordered a chocolate fudge mouse cake and James ordered tiramisu. We ended up taking them back to the room to eat later, as we were full up.

The only glich of the evening was poor James having to drive all the way back into St. Catherines when I needed some decongestant spray and the local pharmacies were all closed. What a man!

Breakfast the next morning was served at 9, and we then met the other guests. A couple from the Cambridge area sat to our left, newly engaged the previous evening out in the gardens at the house. (!!) They were older then us, and the woman talked about her adult daughter. The other 'couple' was a woman in her late forties I'd guess, with her almost elderly mother. The older lady was quite a charmer, with a bit of english accent. She regaled us with a story of how her and her husband were once caught skinny dipping by their daughter (the one present). She was cute (the way older ladies can be, you know).
Again, I hadn't been so keen about the idea of having to get up and eat breakfast with people I didn't know. But I was reminded of how sometimes I need to get out of my little comfortable bubble and interact with the world sometimes.
We were served muffins, lavender tea biscuits and toast by Jane and her husband Peter who went all out with a charming apron. We had a fruit salad, cut into teeny little pieces, which I decided is now my favourite way to eat fruit salad, with yogurt and granola.
The main course was served by plate; a mini baked quiche, a thick strip of bacon, a roasted half tomato topped with toasted bread crumbs, and two elegant looking asparagus stalks with lemon-herb butter.
The lavender tea biscuits, Jane explained, were baked using culinary lavender from The Lavender Boutique down the road from NOTL. She was so enthusiastic about the place that she talked all of us into visiting before we left the area.
So after packing up and saying goodbye, we hit the downtown for a few more trinkets to take back home to the kids, and then headed out to the boutique. As promised, the couple running the place were high energy, very knowledgeable and introduced us to the world of lavender. A quick tour of their greenhouse and a peruse through the various lavender product made for a pleasant morning.
We decided to use the last of our budget to stop for lunch in Grimsby, at the Judge and Jester, a place I've seen lots but never thought about eating at. Very yummy. Highly recommend.

So that was our trip! We decided that we definitely need to do that sort of thing more often and soon!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A continuation of my thoughts of yesterday.

My point is not necessarily that we are wrong in this way of life we've cultivated. Sunday Schools exist, they likely always will. (I've often wondered what they did in the New Testament church....there were no basements to send the kids off to, and if there was another room, then who taught them? Knowing the community spirit, if they did send the kids elsewhere, I'm sure all the parents took turns. Which we dislike nowadays because we want kids to develop a relationship with a Sunday School teacher and you can't do that when they're here one week and not the other. But I think it would have been different in those days--they were more like families) (But again I digress)

Since we generally do accept that it's ok to let others instruct our children in spiritual matters, now begs the question, so then what responsibility should we be taking?

As one who has now been heavily into Children's Ministry for a couple years now, I can say, a heck of alot more than most do.

There's always the exceptions, the ones who are keenly interested in making sure their children are being sensitively and effectively ministered to. And so they're the ones being a part of that ministering. They're the ones taking on the lions share of this mammoth responsibility. But there are many who drop the kids off and rarely give the next hour or two a second thought.

I don't want to sound like a complainer. I'm doing what I'm called to be doing and that's not going to change until the call changes. But Children's Ministry is not like other ministries. We don't expect everyone to take their turn at being on the praise and worship team (after all, if you are benefiting from the singing, you should take your turn at it, right?) because, frankly, we don't want to hear from everyone in the church through a microphone. Many ministries require a specific talent or gifting. And Children's ministries is somewhat similar there...except that as you can read in my previous post, we get so desperate for people to teach that we have to dumb down the requirements to "love God and love kids". We've actually had to issue an ultimatum concerning our children's program; if we don't get 6 teachers by the end of June, there will be no program come September. So far, we've had no-one volunteer to teach for the year and only 2 or 3 who have said they would do a rotating thing "if you were desperate". 2 of those 2 or 3 have already taught with us sometime in the last two years. Oh and one teacher from this year intends to continue, no matter if the rest of the program runs or not. So at least one class of kids might continue getting something on Sunday mornings.

I wonder if any church has tried "co-op Sunday School"? I know that at the wonderful church in Brantford we attended for about 2 years, it was not very long after we started attending--maybe 2-3 months, before a new nursery schedule came out---and we were on it! (I didn't even realize they knew our names!) At that time we had 2 kids in nursery so this wasn't a huge surprise. I was surprised however that no-one had come and actually asked us to be on the rotation. I'll admit, I was slightly annoyed at this. But it seemed a pretty clear and fair concept to me: you use the nursery, you take your turn. Where else in our society do we involve our children in something at no cost to ourselves, and not expect to give back into it in some way? Even Verity's gymnastics, which was far from no cost to us, asked everyone to do some fundraising mid-year.

Even if, ok, you feel completely overwhelmed and uncomfortable with the idea of teaching a class of children (and by class, I mean around 4-6 children. Not 12). There are other things you can do. Allow me to list a few:

  • Substitute teach. Be on our list of people willing to take a class for one Sunday when a teacher is sick.
  • Buy presents: We like to recognize all our kids with a little something on their birthday. How would you like to go on a shopping spree without a single dent in your wallet? You're, right, it does sound like fun! Be our birthday lady/man.
  • Greet children: For 20 minutes every Sunday, you could create lasting and pleasant relationships by simply saying hello. Each child needs to be welcomed and greeted when they arrive for the program. This is a very important foundation for our program--the start of a positive experience at our church. You don't even need to do this every week--we'd be glad to make a rotating schedule.
  • Play an instrument or sing: We have a praise and worship time and normally rely on DVD's and CD's. It's really cool though, when someone can add a live instrument. And we always need singers. Again, this doesn't have to be weekly thing--we regularly rotate groups of kids through as junior p&w leaders, we can do the same for adults. It's important for the kids to see that their program matters--what they are experiencing is not a second-rate service just because they are young. Other adults in the church showing an interest and wanting to be involved will convey worth to the children.
  • Help technically: We attempt to put together an exciting multi-media component....well, it's not really a component, it's really the backbone of our service. From Powerpoint and Easyworship to Youtube and Yahoo video, we are looking to appeal to today's kids. Right now, one person programs this entire 1/2 hour long set-up. He also, with help from one other person, physically sets up our stage, sound and video system, runs the program and tears down afterwards. There are many parts of this that we could import to someone else:
  1. Set up. Come to the children's ministry room and help set up. It takes about 20 minutes before the service.
  2. Tear down. Takes slightly less time.
  3. Create stuff: Videos, scripture presentations, whatever. We are open to creativity.
  4. Fill in: Our tech guy has four kids and they've been known to be ill from time to time. We need people willing to fill in. Spend a Sunday or two observing and learning how our systems work. Then be willing to be on call if by chance he needs to be away on a Sunday.
  • Food: We're thinking of having a snack time in the fall. Having someone coordinate that, buy the food, serve it, clean up, whatever. That would be really great.
  • Miscellaneous talents: Puppetry? Magic tricks? Know a bunch of funny skits or games? Water glass playing? Breakdancing? We want to make our program fun and exciting. You come to us with some miscellaneous talent, skill or idea and we will find a way to use it.
Perhaps you've looked over this list and for whatever reasons, are still convinced you can't be a part. Alright. There is still a way to support us--those you've entrusted to, as we've established, teach your children the incomparable truths of God.
Be in relationship with us. Be our friend! We choose to miss out on the morning service to minister to the children of our church. We miss out on the before and after chit chatting, the general fellowship of being in an adult service, the sense of community that comes from corporate worship.So don't just gather your kids up and head out to the parking lot. Say hello, how did things go today? You're lookin' good, are you over that head cold? And....dare I say it....

Say thank you.

Last year I had one parent send a thank you card and small gift at the end of the year. In my choir work, out of about 35 kids in each choir, approximately 1/3 to 1/2 give me some token in appreciation for teaching their kids music once a week. Or at least an email.
I'm not looking for this. I'm not expecting this. Recognition is not why I do this.
But this year I didn't hear from any parents. Yes, a few other teachers said some words publically or by mass email. But that's different.
As I did last year, I went out and purchased something nice for each teacher and person who had contributed in a significant way to our program. Even at a modest cost per person, it adds up. I was actually a little scared to submit my receipts for these gifts. (Good thing my dad writes the cheques!)
But in working through this anxiety, the thought occurred to me....why am I scared? Do these people not deserve some token of gratitude for their time and sacrifice this year?
Absolutely they do.
And who is grateful to them? Well, yes, me and my mom, who co-directs with me. But who else?
Yes.....the parents.
But who went out and bought the gifts?
Again, I don't begrudge this. I enjoyed it actually. I was really excited about the gift we gave each teacher this year and I think they're all going to enjoy it immensely.
But the point is....not only are myself [and all these teachers] taking responsibility for the spiritual enrichment of these kids, I also took on the job of thanking them....for the families. You see my line of reasoning here?
This past year, we tried to organize a few events beyond the usual weekly program. We did Operation Christmas Child. We did a Christmas play. We had two movie events for missions fundraising--one involving a nice dinner. We did an end of year bbq.
Support our events. If you truly cannot give regular time in some capacity to your children's spiritual education, then show up when something is planned [to add to the Christian education they are already receiving for a short time weekly]. And if you can't come....then at least tell us you're not coming. There's nothing like buying 5 dozen hotdogs and hamburgers and only having 1/2 the expected amount of people show up.

I don't know why being a part of children's ministry is such an issue. I don't know why we don't get people willing to come out and teach the future generation of our churches. Maybe they feel they 'just don't have the gift of teaching'. This may be true. But my usual thoughts when hearing this run along the lines of, if you have kids, you teach. You teach them to drink from a cup, to pee in the toilet, to share their toys, to tie their shoes. Don't kid yourself. If you're a parent, you teach.

Maybe some feel they are too busy.
Need the time in church themselves.
Are involved in another ministry already.

My thoughts again? (and they are, just, my thoughts).

Make time for your children.

Your children need the time in church too.

Your children are your primary ministry.


Monday, June 14, 2010

"Teach [my words] to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

Deuteronomy 11:19

"What good will it be for a child if he gains a whole world of knowledge,

yet forfeits his soul?"

Matthew 16:26, My paraphrase

In this day and age, parents are, well, paranoid. We require police checks and background checks, questionnaires and reference checks on every manner of person who comes within any contact of our children. This is both wise and insulting--wise from the parent and professional point of view and insulting, in many cases, from the viewpoint of the one being check, check and doubled checked.
We like to think we are very careful when it comes to who we allow to influence our children. Some of us send our kids to private school, or Christian school---because we are concerned that our children get the very best education, or a faith-based education. We shuttle them around to sports practices, music rehearsals, social and community clubs because we are convinced that they need to to have these opportunities to develop their gifts, find their niche, flourish, thrive...
And of course, we are trusting all the instructors that are teaching the classes, coaching the teams and running the programs. Or perhaps it's just that we trust the organization behind these leaders.
Let me just think through the people I entrust with my children:
  • Verity takes gymnastics. I trust her coach Sandy. I also sit and watch her every week for an hour and other than not really hearing the exact words Sandy is saying, (because I watch through a window) I'm trusting her ability to coach effectively, compassionately and with professionalism. Because I don't have any extensive gymnastics experience, I have to trust her in that. But I signed up Verity before I even met Sandy. I plunked down hundreds of dollars at the beginning of the season to put her under the influence of a woman I had never met. Who did I trust? The gymnastics club. How did they earn this trust? The website. Yeah. Pretty much their advertising. Which of course we all know is always truthful. (shnark). After the classes started, I was able to view Sandy's qualifications which were posted on a wall along with her picture. And who did I trust then? The letters that followed her name. The national gymnastics organization that deemed her qualified to instruct children. How do I know they are trustworthy? I have no earthly idea. I'd never heard of the organization before I got Verity into gymnastics. I suppose something that comes into play here is reputation. With some sleuthing, you can usually find out something about someone--or some organization's reputation. I didn't, really. But there was the general reputation that clubs of this type are trustworthy. This came through the experience of two people I can think of specifically--a friend and a family member.
  • Honour took a 10 week ballet course over at the Ancaster Rotary Centre. It was part of the programming offered by the city of Hamilton. I trusted her teacher Kristin. I also sat and peeked in the room (not watched quite as much as this was discouraged and during the whole second half of the 10 weeks there was paper over the doors so we couldn't see the wondrous choreography they were perfecting for the final recital) for 45 minutes every week. I trusted Kristin's ability to teach Honour effectively, compassionately and with professionalism. I have absolutely no experience in ballet, so I had to trust that Kristin knew what she was doing. Going to see her dance at Hamilton Place in a primary role of the ballet Hansel and Gretal helped that trust along significantly. But how did I trust her in the beginning, when I was signing Honour up and had never met Kristin? The city of Hamilton was who I trusted. I trusted that they had hired Kristin with full knowledge of her abilities and trustworthiness. I would imagine that they even have police checks done on all their instructors although I can't be sure, because, honestly, I didn't check that. And I'm trusting the city that even though they don't require instructors of this calibre to have some kind of teaching credential, Kristin has some idea of the pedagogy of ballet for children--likely just from the process of having gone through it herself. Which in alot of cases is fine, right?
  • I send Jairus to public school every day. Of all the things I've 'signed' my kids up for, this is the one that I did the most praying, the most investigating, the most in depth consideration. I was advised by trusted family members. I of course had my own experience of having come up through the public school system. There's a natural trust there. I met with the teachers, the principals, the special needs advisors. I walked that line carefully; waiting on , and listening to the Lord for guidance. Who did I trust? Well, yeah, God. (Who of course I also trust in the girls activities). But otherwise, I trusted those teachers, principals and advisors. Who was I trusting beyond that? The Hamilton Wentworth board of education, who hired these people. The province of Ontario, the nation of Canada who set in place the standards for school boards to follow.
So why am I going on like this?

I see a glaring inconsistency here. And I will be the first to admit that I've likely fallen into that glare in my child-raising up until now.

One of my underlying principles in educational philosophy is that my children's spiritual welfare is more important than their general schooling education. Alot of people might raise their hands to their mouths in horror over this one. Take a look again at the second verse I quote/paraphrase up at the beginning. What will it matter if my daughters can read years ahead of their age, do multiplication tables at 5 years old or tell me the capitals of all the provinces....if all the "recommended reading" they've done results in an eternity spent separated from God? If all the math equations they've mastered far outnumber the principles of God they've committed to their hearts? If they can tell me where countries are, but not about how much God loves the people in them? I am convinced that while the Lord wants us to educate ourselves, certainly, when we stand before him at the finish of our earthly lives, it will all be as Solomon discovered--'vanity' compared to the riches of knowing and growing in Jesus Christ. All the success our world has to offer cannot hold a candle to that.

As well as a general educational philosophy, I also have some opinions concerning Christian Education. Since the advent of public or community schools, we've been quite willing to hand over the education of our children to other people. (It would be quite interesting to see why this ever came about. Was it just a matter of some having higher education than others? Did Ma Ingalls really think that Mrs. Garby or Liza Jane could teach Laura and Mary and Carrie better than she could? But I digress) I don't think scripture really has much to say on this idea. But I could be wrong.
Christian education however....I think scripture has alot to say about that, starting with the first verse up there--God's direction to the Hebrew parents on teaching their children scripture. I think it's mighty clear that we as parents are responsible for our children's spiritual instruction. This is why we have baby dedication ceremonies; because we recognize that raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord is highly important.

And then came D.L. Moody and his Sunday Schools.

I'm just kidding, he didn't start Sunday School, but his were well known. I do think it's interesting that Robert Raikes, credited as really getting the Sunday School idea off the ground apparently started it because he saw children from less fortunate families getting into trouble with the law. How to prevent that? Instruct them in the Bible and introduce them to Jesus. The ugly underside of this premise is that he realized that the parents were failing.He took over the job of Christian education--and these families handed him that reign.

Now, I'm not slamming Sunday Schools, because, well, that would be like shooting myself in the foot. I'm not willing to go as far as to say that Sunday School is a usurption of our parental responsibility as handed down to us by God. It may be true. But I'm not going there.

I'm back to the trust issue. So here we have this situation of Sunday School--a place where we deposit our children every week and trust that the teachers are doing an adequate job in our place of teaching our children the most important truths known to man.

And where again are we putting our trust?

In the teachers. Whom we may or may not know. (Yeah, go ahead, ask yourself if you know your children's Sunday School teacher. Do you even know their name? Do you know anything about their spiritual walk or comittment to the Lord? Just a little something to chew on there.)

But like the hierarchy of trust we see in public school and extra-curricular activities, we ultimately trust in those higher than the teachers. We trust the Sunday School superintendent. The Children's Ministry Co-ordinators. The Deacons, the Elders, the Mission Boards....whatever all those higher-uppers are called in your church. The Pastor. The church as a whole. The Denomination.
So you might not know a darn thing about your children's Sunday School teacher except that she's got brown hair and glasses, but you are trusting that those in authority over her put her in that position because....why?
  • Because she's got a teaching degree?
  • Because she's got graduate or doctorate level training?
  • Because she says she loves God and has accepted Jesus as Saviour?
  • Because she's a natural-born teacher and the children love her?

I find it interesting that one web source says the following about Sunday School teachers:

Sunday school teachers are usually lay people who are selected for their role in the church by a designated coordinator, board, or a committee. Normally, the selection is based on a perception of character and ability to teach the Bible rather than formal training in education.

No degrees. No training necessarily. Perception of Character. What's that? Yeah, our gut.

And this is who we trust to instruct our children in the most valuable lessons on the planet.