Children, Youth, and Family Director’s Blog

100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation

The next time you are at childcare or Sunday Studio, please pick up a free copy of Rebecca Kirkpatrick’s book 100 Things Every Child Should Know Before Confirmation. This book focuses on the practice of planting the seed of faith, feeding the soil of each child’s soul, and watching children and youth grow. We want them to know the oral tradition roots that originate with the Israelite People, the Gospels that tell the life of Jesus, the acts of Jesus’ followers, and the liturgical seasons of the church starting with Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.

How to safely intervene when someone is targeted by violence.

How does supporting a targeted person relate to church and being in relationship with others in a Christ-like way? Wherever humans are, divisions can be created. Like Jesus, we need to know how to show up, de-escalate, be present, ask for help, ignore attackers, respect targeted people, and then have the courage to follow up with the situation until it is addressed and supported. People of all races, genders, religions, and economic status are targeted, but we know that black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC), LGBTQI+ people, as well as those experiencing poverty are most often targeted by attackers. How did Jesus show up for children, tax collectors, sex workers, widows, and everyday folks? Jesus took accountability by sitting and eating next to people, as well as walking with them. That seems easy enough, but our society's actions show us stories filled with the bystander effect or the phenomena of nobody acting even when they are watching violence in front of them.

How to talk with someone experiencing mental health challenges.

“‘How are you showing up today?’ That’s a language we use a lot,” Thomas-Bush said. “As a person of faith, how are we going to show up loving our neighbor, loving ourselves?” Thomas -Bush works with youth at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. This youth group was featured in Our kids and mental health, an April 20, 2022 article in Presbyterians Today. “In 2019, more than 1 in 3 students indicated they persistently felt sad or hopeless, an 11% increase over 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report, 2009–2019. The report also showed that 16% of students made a suicide plan.” We cannot ignore youth, this data or assume that youth will get help on their own. Most adults suffering with mental health challenges do not reach out for help. It is important that we notice behavior changes that go beyond typical age-appropriate developmental behaviors and check in with the person. Parents, adults, youth leaders, and teen peers are realizing that listening without judgment, as well as asking direct questions can be the needed openers for someone to safely share their mental health challenges and then get the resources that they want.

What does the Pew Research Center say about children and teens taking after their parents religiously?

We as parents or adults working with children and teens know that our actions stick in the minds of our children more than our words. If we create time to be with our children and teens, they notice. How does this act of being present figure into the Pew Research Center’s 2020 survey data about teens and their approach to religion and spirituality? On September 11, Calvary Homecoming, 19 children and 20 youth attended the service. That tripled the in-person children/youth attendance Calvary consistently had throughout 2021 and part of 2022. For three weeks, we have been seeing this rise in participation.  We hope that community grows and inspires families, children, and teens to see their friends at church.

How Do Today’s Families Connect with Calvary’s Mission, Vision, and Values?

We hear “God is doing a new thing!” in Isaiah 43:19 and wonder how our world can be as new as it was in the days before Jesus. We talk about “a new heaven and a new earth” in Revelation 21 and wonder what that looks like for us. This Sunday, September 18 we continue in Genesis with the Abram and Sarai story as we restart the Narrative Lectionary for fall 2022. God sent this couple to live in a new land and promised that they would be prosperous if they followed God. Last week we touched on the Noah’s Ark story with all of its colorful animal and boat imagery and the tragic effects of a giant flood. People all over the world are dealing with flooding every day, so these stories are relatable to many. Our children live in a new world compared to that experienced by their parents.

Sabbatical Summer 2022

I hope to carry these sustaining life practices of connecting with friends and family, doing yoga and music, and being present into my daily work world. They increase my hope and faith in God’s abundance, grace, and connection.

I Hope You Dance

I invite you to find a physical practice that helps you feel some sense of liberation or freedom. Jesus calls us to be free from things that hold us back from connecting directly with God who is always there. Dancing helps us celebrate, release, prepare us for rest and let go, so that we can connect more fully with the divine. We can engage our freedom to advocate for safety and autonomy of others. Breath, prayer, connection with others, and movement requires our physical presence and gives us life abundantly. Dance on!

What Would We Do Without Childcare?

After reading a post from our children’s former preschool director, I arrived at work, cut out a yellow circle, and wrote “I Wouldn’t Be Here (at work) Without Childcare” on it. We have survived as a family in San Francisco because of my education job at Calvary in tandem with all of the childcare and camps we have accessed while raising our two children. This motivated me to think about where we are with childcare and faith formation at Calvary, so I took pictures of the Calvary infant room, toddler space, Sunday Studio preschool area, art space, sensory room, labyrinth, and finally, my office.

Young People and Earth Care

Children innately know earth care by their play. They climb trees, sift sand, mix mud pies, and run in the grass with butterflies. They want to savor what the earth gives them. What can we do each day to observe and appreciate nature? Adults, youth, and children now have to make appointments in nature or they will spend most of their time in a car or indoors. What can we learn from our time at home that will translate into earth care action? We can create mini gardens in spaces we might have, we can regrow cuttings from our veggies, we can compost, and join groups that are doing the larger conservation and advocacy work.

Making Room for Lent and Easter

Walking with children through the dramatic stories of Holy Week can be exhausting, but also connective. The book, "Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter" written by Laura Alary and illustrated by Ann Boyajian, walks adults and young children through the first Sunday of Lent all the way through the tough events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and ends in the glory of the Easter story.

Who Is Responsible for Children’s Faith Formation?

“I need a weekend to recover from my weekend!”

Don’t Wait! Pray the psalms. Do a yoga pose. Eat raspberries. 

Most grandparents want a grandchild to open their gift right away, so that they can see the child’s expression, reaction, and connection to the gift. Some of us, as adult children, have a parent’s or grandparent’s voice in our head that encourages restraint, “Don’t use it. Save it for a rainy day. Keep it nice and it will last longer.”