Wednesday, July 23, 2008

kids' church

i may be jumping into a hornets nest with this one, but here goes.

nursery or big church?

this post asks the question. i love this blog and the writer is generally very insightful, but i'm not with him on this one.

to me, it comes down to the purpose of the weekly church service. is it a lecture, to gain facts? a concert, to have an emotional experience? or something else? yes, children are distracting. yes, it's hard for them to be quiet and sit still. but does that add up to a one-way ticket to the nursery?

i'll copy here the comment i left on the post:

taking care of children is not a distraction from worship. it is part of worship itself. would you ask if music is distracting? is the powerpoint screen distracting? the stained glass?

if our goal in worship is the cognitive acquisition of information, or attainment of an emotional meditative experience, then yes, children are a hindrance. but worship is not limited to or defined by those experiences. nothing wrong with them, but they're not the only reasons i go to church.

i want my children to love church and look forward to it. i want them to experience God there. if they can do that better in the nursery, then that's fine. if that happens in big church, even better. but i'm not leaving them in the nursery for my own convenience, and i'm not keeping them with me for my pride. a little flexibility and a little grace go a long way.

right now both of our kids go to the nursery. but here's my goal: i would like for them to be where they worship best, experience God most purely. sometimes that's in play. sometimes it's outside. sometimes it's being held and rocked. sometimes it's singing songs with mom and dad. both of my kids have been in church with me as babies, because that's where they felt safe and secure. laugh if you will, but i swear to you they worshiped as they napped in my lap or bounced to the music. (i think we need to broaden our definition of worship; we tend to define it too narrowly.) but for the restless ages, say 18 months to 4-ish, big church is just hard work without a lot of benefit. so i'm fine with the nursery. but they shouldn't just "sit church out" back there. we should provide worship appropriate to their age.

church is not just about "what i enjoy most" or "how can i best be fed." it's more than that.

church is not a product to be consumed by individuals.

families should not part at the church entrance to each go their own way, reuniting for lunch afterward.

church is also not about "being on our best behavior." many advocates of kids in big church say it's important for kids to learn to sit still and listen. ok, fine, but that's not sufficient reason for me. a child who may be unable to comprehend a college lecture or appreciate a symphony is not correspondingly incapable of worship. sure, teach them to sit still. but don't equate that with worship.

i want to teach my children to love God. to live in community. to sing praise and learn their Bible. they may do any of those things in the nursery or in big church.

or i can fail them in either place.

we need grace here. lots and lots of grace.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Veggie goodness

I am not, by any stretch, vegetarian. But I do need more veggies in my life. So I try to do vegetarian meals every now and then. "Meatless Monday" if you will. It helps me to stop thinking of meat as "the real food" and everything else as "sides," aka "optional if you're still hungry after the meat and bread" or "get this down so you don't feel guilty about the chocolate cupcakes." (Am I talking to anyone out there?) I would love to think of the green stuff as what I most need and want to eat, with a little meat thrown in here and there for protein. That would be much healthier.

Enter my new cookbook.

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman is a great reference for curious omnivores like me. Justin picked this out for me, and it was a great selection. I've tried other vegetarian or even vegan cookbooks, but they too often are preachy, or a little too funky, or call for excessive amounts of tofu. I'm just looking for good recipes eaten by normal people, not self-help. We've got enough preaching around here; I don't need it from a cookbook (wink, wink).

But this book has great ideas, modern and interesting but not weird. I love his style of "theme and variations." For example, he'll list a simple pasta sauce but then 5 ways to modify it, depending on the season or what's available. Or a list of "20 things to put on bruschetta." The "vegetables" chapter is enormous, with lots of information about how to choose and prepare different produce. I think that will help me use up some of the bounty from our CSA.

I like cookbooks that are written by regular home cooks rather than professional chefs. The recipes are very realistic, and most ingredients are available even at small town groceries. If it's a complicated recipe or obscure ingredient, he makes sure to warn you so you don't get in over your head. He's also an omnivore, so it's a good perspective for someone like me who's just experimenting.

To give you an idea, so far I've tried Southwestern Mixed Vegetable Soup, Barley Soup with Seasonal Vegetables (the summer vegetable and roasted variations), Vegetable Lasagna, Buttermilk Blueberry Pie (in an oatmeal crust), Upside Down Plum Rosemary Cake, and Buttermilk Ice Cream. I'm excited to try his Corn Chowder, lots of pizza ideas, Oatmeal Apple Cookies, Olive Oil Cake, and Brown Sugar Cookies with Sea Salt.

I know, I've spent a lot of time in the dessert chapter. So sue me. Most desserts are vegetarian anyway (although he does include vegan recipes and modifications, which are harder to find), but these desserts are a little bit healthier but still feel like real dessert. More whole grains, natural sweeteners, that sort of thing. Baby steps.


Bloggy love

My friend Steph sent me a blog award! A mom of a little baby boy who received a heart transplant started the award to raise awareness about organ donation. Click here to read more.

Here's the award and the story from the original site:

The rules of this award are: SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with all those blogs out there that you love. All the people who make you smile. All those that make you laugh. All those that make your day. All those that leave uplifting comments on your blog. **All I ask, is that you include a link to this post with the award and ask your recipient to do the same**


Gabriele, girl, you're gonna save the world. Congratulations on the wedding!

Mandi, you could singlehandedly bring back pioneering. You rock.

Share the love, ladies!


Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 4th Parade

Chappell Hill hosts an annual parade for Independence Day, and it is quite a slice of small town Americana. Anyone in town can enter: Tape some flags on your lawnmower, grab a bucket of candy, and you're ready to go. I love it.

I'm sentimental about that sort of thing, and always tear up at the national anthem. But this year really got me. Standing by us was a young girl, 25 maybe, in Army camos with an airborne patch and beret. She was with two kids, probably siblings but maybe hers. Here she is:

When the veterans' float went by, all these old grisly vets called out to her, "Soldier! Thank you!" and just showered her with candy. I tell you, I could've really used a hankie at that point.

Here are some more pics from the parade. Justin took most of these.

These ladies did a little drill team routine. I have no idea what organization they represent, if any, but I like their spunk.

Same goes for them.

Pastor Dean and his wife Toni.

Betty with the bounty.

Happy 4th.