Month: August 2014

Labor Day Present for you! Downloadable Planning Calendars with Sundays only 2014-2015 or 2015 Alone

So, people in ministry of all kinds constantly need calendars with just Sundays on them, for worship planning, sign ups and all kinds of other things. I tried googling a “Sunday only” calendar and didn’t have much luck and so I made my own. I’m offering them here in the JPG and also PDF versions. Feel free to download and use however it’s helpful to you. For now they’re not editable (I’ll work on that for next year) but I hope they’re helpful to some of my clergy friends!

2014-2015 Sunday planning This one the “school year” calendar is the one I use for worship planning. I just feel like the year “begins” with the start of school. I think this would be really helpful for those who need to write out who’s liturgist, who’s Sunday school teacher, etc. Come to think of it, it would be useful for any sort of task that has to happen on a weekly basis.

Get the PDF here. 

2015 Sunday Planning Calendar

For those who need a calendar that begins at the beginning of the year, here’s one for 2015. It’s a little early, but I bet a lot of people will get going on these in the next month or two, so here it is!

Get the PDF here. 

The PDFs are designed to be printed on legal size paper.

Please leave a comment and let me know how they work for you. If you’d like other features for next year, let me know and I’ll work on it! Happy Planning, friends!

 

 

Do Little Girls and Little Boys Need Different Bibles?

One of the things that I’m keenly aware of as a recently published author on spiritual practices for families is how I’m now part of the world of Christian marketing. As I’ve written about before, I believe only people can be described as Christian. I don’t believe there is such a thing as “Christian music” or “Christian books” or “Christian art.” There’s only music, books and art by and for Christian people. As much as marketers try and label everything from breath mints to financial services as “Christian,” what they’re trying to do is get Christian people to buy their products which may or may not be any better or different than products by so called “secular” retailers.

My desire to write and publish Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life was born out of a desire that I think most Christian parents share: to connect with our children, pass on our values and provide meaningful ways to practice our faith together. Since its release, I’ve been interested in other books and products that I might be able to recommend to readers of Seamless Faith. I perked up whenever I find a new book, CD or game aimed at helping families practice their faith together. Enter the Little Girls Bible Storybook for Mothers and Daughters and the Little Boys Bible Storybook for Mothers and Sons:

littleboysandgirls

Suffice it to say, I have a few concerns about these products, but I’ll focus on the two most troubling:

First, in a world where every single product marketed to children is gender specific, it makes me cringe to see a Bible storybook following this trend. In the introduction to the Little Boys Bible Storybook, the author even explains that raising boys and girls are different and that the little boys storybook is more “rough and tumble” than the little girls Bible. I think this is extremely problematic thinking. While my boys may or may not be more active than their girl classmates and friends, the faith that I want to share with them is a faith where gentleness and kindness are of utmost importance. Similarly, I want the girls I minister to (I don’t have daughters) to know that they are free to be strong like Queen Esther and trailblazers like the Daughters of Zelophehad. Incidentally, the story about Queen Esther in the Little Girls Storybook Bible is “Esther Wins a Beauty Contest.” This fact made me simultaneously laugh out loud and and want to cry. What is the message we want to send our little girls?

The second problem I have with the Little Girls and Little Boys Storybook Bible is that both products are marketed to mothers only. Though I’m certain the authors would agree that fathers, grandparents, stepparents and other family members have an important role in sharing faith, the fact that the title of the work is “for mothers and sons” and “for mothers and daughters” implies that it’s the mother’s job to pass on these stories. I much prefer a model whereby the whole family is involved in sharing faith together, and I know many families do too.

For those looking for a great storybook bible for boys and girls, moms and dads (and everyone in between) I recommend

The Children of God Storybook Bible by Desmond Tutu.

tutu

What do you think? Does the Little Girls Storybook Bible for Mothers and Daughters and the Little Boys Storybook Bible for Mothers and Sons serve a purpose, or are there some real problems here that need to be addressed? 

 

 

 

Traci Smith is author of Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life which was published earlier this year by Chalice Press. You can sign up for her monthly email newsletter with practical faith tips for families here

Free Back to School Practice from Seamless Faith

firstdayofschool

Ah, back to school. I remember it so well! New pencils and notebooks and backpacks, even that first day of school attire. There were always awkwardly staged pictures in front of the fireplace and the excitement of a new year.

There’s a back-to-school tradition in my book Seamless Faith that is super sweet and fun and it helps connect faith to the first day of school. It doesn’t require a lot of materials or fuss, and it’s been a reader favorite, so far. Ordinarily the freebies come via the email list (you should sign up! You get a freebie every month!) but this month I decided to post it up on the blog too. Share it around! (Please be sure to credit back http://www.traci-smith.com)

Get the back to school tradition now and report back if you use it.

PS If you like this tradition, check out the book!

 

The noisy news…

Sometimes the news just seems… loud to me. Death. Violence. Wars. Screaming. Shouting. Bills. Laws. Minority opinions. Majority opinions.

It seems to me that the only thing that can break through, sometimes, is art.

Today it was quiet enough for me to really see and hear this short poem by Khaled Juma…

 

rascal children of gaza

Summer Link-Up!

 

As I am beginning a vacation here in Chicago with my folks, I’m trying to clear my head, spend time with family, and prepare for a wonderful start to the new year. So many exciting things happen at the beginning of the school year, and so it’s a great time to refresh.

One of the things I’m hoping to do on this break is get some blog posts drafted and ready to go so that I can publish them in the next few months. As I do that, I see so many things this summer that would have/could have made their own post either on this blog or Mrs. Smith Cooks that just didn’t make it. They’re interesting things, but, alas, I didn’t have time to blog about all of them, so I just present you with the basic links. You can research on your own if you’d like! Enjoy the link-up!

Cooking 

Blueberries, blueberries, blueberries.

The boys and I made these perfect blueberry muffins several times with fresh blueberries, and we’ll be making them all fall and winter with frozen. Super easy recipe and the resulting muffin is perfect.

I made this gluten-free blueberry crumble  (butter instead of olive oil and no nuts) and a regular (gluten-filled) version. Both were awesome.

I love red lentils and this red-lentil “risotto” was right up my alley. I had high hopes for the boys liking it. They did not. Oh well, more for me.

Speaking of red lentils, I also made this dal which has a lot of different spices than my normal version. Love both of them.

Kids

This app called “Endless Alphabet” is completely adorable for pre-schoolers.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Making Caring Common project and the views of psychologist Richard Weissbourd. The project aims to educate parents about the importance of raising empathetic and caring children (vs. raising them to focus on their own personal success and happiness.) Love the work, love the research.  I featured this project in my newsletter this month. Have you signed up?

Migrant/Refugee Kids  

Between 2013 and 2014 there has been a more than 100% increase in the number of unaccompanied minor children crossing the border from Mexico to the US. Here are some links that have been of interest to me:

Mission Presbytery Response 

This interactive graphic from the New York Times is informative and useful.

I’m interested in thinking about how we can help support children and families in Honduras and elsewhere so that they feel they can stay in their country. One organization doing great work is Association for a More Just Society.

This article gives a great perspective of the root causes of this question.

Misc. 

This summer we had an awesome ministry intern who made this giant kerplunk game and this lawn jenga game for us.

I was completely charmed by this artist who recreated drawings from childhood.

Books 

Haven’t had as much time to read this Summer as I would have liked, but did enjoy this short book from Anne Lamott that we read as a study at NPC and I’m also loving this easy read. 

 

What have you been up to?