Is Everything Fine?

Everything’s fine…

That is what I keep telling myself. The truth is that it is not.

I have no new ideas.

Asian woman with post-it notes all over her and her computer

 

I see your ideas on Facebook and hear them in Zoom meetings. I do. They’re great. I read them and feel like I am in 8th grade again and am jealous of Kristin’s Guess Jeans. I want a triangle on my bum, but my mom says I have to pay for half and I am lazy. I am jealous of the ideas, but am so burnt out right now.

 

Am I down on myself? For sure, but after meeting with the Hope4CE Steering Committee I know that I am not alone. We are all feeling it. Maybe you can’t pack one more bag, do one more porch drop off, edit one more video, look at one more poorly attended Zoom meeting. I am here to tell you that it is ok.

 

 

Last March when this all started we were in a frenzy. Don’t roll your eyes but I actually found it exciting. After 16 years of doing Christian Education I felt like I had a new job. Creativity from colleagues around the world abounded. We rallied together to create new ways to connect with our congregations and it was truly something special. I felt motivated to put everything out there knowing that our congregants were struggling. The first couple months of shut-down I took screen shots of ideas others had in Facebook groups. I sat down one day to write down all of the ideas so I could delete the pictures and it took up two pieces of notebook paper, front and back. I did most of them and with much success. I did the Lent bags, Advent wreath bags, back to school bags, porch drop-offs were endless, parking lot events, children’s sermons featuring my diva dog that I painstakingly edit, the virtual Christmas Pageant, made trivia games weekly…the list goes on and on. It felt life giving at first. Here I was creating new things instead of just plugging in things: this VBS curriculum, this Sunday school curriculum, this youth group game. We were able to re-create our jobs. It was thrilling!

 

Now, not so much. I am excited for you and all your good ideas. I support you, but I am done. Not done with my job. I deeply love what I do and will continue to give my church 100%, but I am giving myself a break from ideas. I am not packing Lent bags, I don’t even know what I am doing yet and I am ok with that. I do know that I will check in with my families, stay connected with my youth, let them all know that they are loved and are being prayed for. What I won’t do is add to the burnout I am already experiencing.

 

 

When I started in education, congregants would invited me to coffee or lunch. I thought “how cool!”, they want to be friends. No. You work at a church, you are therefore a professional listener. People want to share with you. They want you to listen and tell them that all will be well. No one tells you that in ministry that you will also be a therapist when you didn’t go to Seminary and kind of fell into your call. We have carried the weight of so many over the years. We singlehandedly re-created our entire jobs within days. We have held them up DURING A PANDEMIC! I will repeat that: A FREAKING PANDEMIC! Not to mention the unrest and chaos that surrounded us at the same time. We did this. We did it together. Cut yourself some slack. Take something off of your work plate and take care of you. I know for a fact that most of you have not been practicing self-care. And if your self care has looked like mine, it has involved a wine glass and there are probably better ways.

Personally I will still involve a wine glass in moderation of course. I will listen to myself and pull back even though I am still chasing those Guess Jeans. I might even have an idea or two that I will post and you will say “no thanks, I don’t need those jeans the pair I have are fine.” You all and your ideas got me through this and will continue to inspire me, but I will also take care of me and you take care of you. Everything is not fine and that is ok.

 

Karen Miller is Director of Children and Youth Ministries at Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill, NC and a Member of the Hope4CE Steering Committee

 

Beyond the Book Club: Anti-Racist Children and Family Ministry

This is a reblog from Christine V Hides’ site with her permission. This is a very important post for our times and for our ongoing work in loving our neighbors. KLD

Christine V Hides

There seems to be a pattern. Whenever a video of a Black person being killed emerges, shock and outrage fill our social media feeds. White people begin to ask (again), “what can we do?” Booklists begin to circulate (again) on social media. Book clubs begin (again). Fortunately, there is a wealth of excellent resources for learning about the history of systemic racism in the United States. There are also amazing lists of books to read with children and tips to help White parents to have important conversations about race. I am grateful for the hard work and effort of those who write and curate these resources and the churches who engage with these hard conversations. But…

Unfortunately, in both society and in Children and Family Ministry our efforts often don’t move beyond the book club. White colleagues, let’s not wait until the next horrifying news event to take…

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What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You

“What you don’t know won’t hurt you” is an old idiom that many of us have heard over the years. It essentially means that if you do not know about a problem or a misdeed, you do not have to worry about it, feel responsible for it, or get upset about it. In essence, if we can’t see it, can’t feel it, can’t hear it, or can’t touch it, then it won’t hurt us. The unknown becomes our safe haven as we choose not to engage that which is powerfully present.

And yet, at the dawning of this new decade, who would have thought that we would be faced with this unknown force called COVID-19? This invisible force is something that we cannot make tangible with our senses but it is changing the way we do life. It is changing people. Continue reading

Mother’s Day

I am a mother of two. One bright, creative, full of life five year old and her sister who lives in heaven. Mother’s Day has always been tricky for me. Don’t get me wrong. I love recognizing my mom, both of my grandmothers and the many other important “mothering” people in my life. My living child has an amazing godmother and many positive female role models but Mother’s Day is a challenge.

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Youth Ministry in a Pandemic

No one knows how to do ministry in a pandemic. This is all so difficult. My Presbyterian Youth Workers Association (PYWA) colleagues and I worked with the Office of Faith Formation to help provide some support to youth workers through some Quicksheets. The Quicksheet, “Stay Home, Stay Connected” gives youth workers some ideas about how to use our gifts of support and connection virtually as we do ministry in the midst of a pandemic. We are all doing our best and trying new things.

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A VIRTUAL BIBLE BRIDGE

Let’s seize upon social distancing to build a virtual bridge (via Zoom) between our children/families and church staff, along with congregants known to have a special skill or hobby, or just a love for children. Beyond your church resources, many curriculum partners now offer FREE online “pandemic” materials (see attached). The Zoom platform is user-friendly and we all know techie folks. Our work is to coordinate these virtual partners.

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Words of Hope

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article and the Department of Homeland Security, there are estimated to be 480,000 immigrants of all ages and genders living without legal status in Georgia in 2010. Georgia is also home to three operating detention facilities housing those apprehended without proper documentation and/or other offenses.

The circumstances of many of the detainees involve weeks awaiting a fate that usually ends in deportation. In some cases, deportation to a country that is unfamiliar, dangerous, without family and without hope of ever seeing U.S. born children again.

The summer of 2013, I was asked by Lutheran Services of Georgia (LSG) to compile a Bible study for female detainees that would compliment their visitation program called Friends in Hope (FIH) Continue reading

Grief to Bear

I am about to attend the second of two memorial services this week –people of strong faith who I’m sure are with God and who are no longer in pain. While knowing that they have moved from life into life, it is still difficult to bear their loss. Our beloved former president of Columbia Theological Seminary, Steve Hayner, will soon be lifted up in communal remembrance. He and his wife, Sharol Hayner have let us walk with them in this journey through pancreatic cancer by means of the CaringBridge website. In tribute to their incredible witness of faith, I lift up here a portion of one of Sharol’s posts from October 8, 2014 on discipleship during difficult times: Continue reading