Month: September 2014

5 *More* Tech Tools for Pastors and Other Busy Professionals

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As you may have gathered from the first and second posts just like this… I like tech tools that make life easier. I’m not a naturally organized person, so I have to fight to find tools that help. Here are some of the latest tools I’ve been using in ministry. Hope there’s something here that you find something here that’s interesting to you!

Right Inbox for Gmail – This is a gmail extension that allows you to send emails in advance or at a later time. I use it if I want to respond to an email right away but want the recipient to receive it the next day, or if I want to send a reminder, either to myself or someone else. I don’t use it very often, but when I do need to use it, it’s so helpful. The free version allows you to send 10 such “send later” emails per month.

Another email reminder service is Send Recurring, the free version allows you to send 100 emails. This is the service that we’ll be using to send the email reminders for communion servers (we plan to schedule them a year in advance, but then remind them the week before, in case plans change… a few minutes on Send Recurring and a year’s worth of reminders is done.)

The next three tech tools are for pastors to figure out how to podcast their sermons. It’s not hard (though I admit I’m trying to work out all of the kinks and make this system fluid.) For a great intro about how to do this, see this guide from MaryAnn McKibben Dana 

iRecorder Pro– An inexpensive, but really handy tool to record sermons on your iPhone. My favorite feature of this is how easy it is to get the recordings from the phone to the computer (via IP address)

Media Human Audio Converter – Converts audio files painlessly. Free and simple.

Sermon Drop – This is the service that hosts the sermons. I recommend this one with caution. It’s simple and easy to use, but the support is not good, and I’ve run into a hiccup or two. I’d be curious to know if there are alternatives that are better…

There you have it! Yay techie tech…

For volume one of this series, see HERE

volume two is HERE

 

Why I Won’t Remain Silent on Adrian Peterson

Credit: Mike Morbeck  Creative Commons Licence  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Credit: Mike Morbeck
Creative Commons Licence
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

First: Adrian Peterson did not “spank” his child, he beat him bloody. This is not a matter of a “judgement call.” This isn’t “well some people think differently.” He beat him up. Look it up. There isn’t room for debate here.

Second: Prominent evangelicals as well as Adrian Peterson himself defend this type of action because of the Bible and the faulty belief that somehow God is pleased when parents beat their children on the back, buttocks and scrotum, with a tree branch.  I’m not making this up.

Third: The phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” does not appear in the Bible, though there is an entire industry and collective consciousness built around it.*

These are the reasons I’m unable to be silent about this. It’s not that I want to jump in on a current news story about a professional sports player behaving badly (which would be a full time job right now, it seems.) I wrote a book on Christian parenting and many other books on Christian parenting advise spanking as a legitimate form of “discipline.” I’m ashamed to be a part of this genre of work if that’s the connection people are going to make.

You wanna know who the loudest proponents of hitting your kids are? Christian Pastors. I’m ashamed to be a part of this profession if that’s the connection people are going to make. 

Adrian Peterson’s little boy was beaten bloody with a stick because his dad thought God told him to. This is not ok.

* Proponents of hitting children as a valid form of Christian parenting often use two verses: Proverbs 13:24 and Proverbs 23:13. I’m not going to engage this debate in this post because it’s an example of what is called “prooftexting” which is “is the practice of using isolated quotations from a document to establish a proposition.” I will engage anyone on this question using a debate from either of these two verses if that person is willing to say that disobedient children should also be stoned to death. (Also in the Bible: see Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

See Also: Adrian Peterson and the False Gospel of Spanking

7 Reasons Family Dinner is Worth Fighting for & Resources to Make it Happen

family dinner

Last week there was an article posted on Slate called “Let’s Stop Idolizing The Home Cooked Family Dinner.” The basic premise of the article is this: a research study published by two sociologists from North Carolina State University points to evidence that the stress of putting together family meals is not worth the tradeoff and that we (as a culture) should stop idolizing/perpetuating the “stereotype” that family meals are necessary and important. How can I put this delicately? I call bull poo-poo on this article. Let me be clear — the challenges to making family dinners happen are real. The stress for women to “do it all” is unimaginable but the way to deal with these stresses is absolutely not to do away with family dinners, in my opinion. Family mealtimes are beneficial to children and families on just about every indicator available. See research here, here, and here,  — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t have a research study, but I do have lots of stories from people who eat dinner together, as well as the experience of the family in which I was raised and the growing family I’m shepherding with my partner in crime, Elias. Here are seven reasons I think family dinner is worth fighting for.

1. It forces a disciplined schedule – If we can’t find an hour (more like 40 minutes, start to finish) to sit down together on a regular basis, something is off. We’re over scheduled and we have to fix it. Sure there are days when we can’t all do it –of course there are. I know that as my kids get older and sports and school activities and lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) creep into the schedule, it’ll be even harder to find that time to get everyone together. All the more reason to make it happen.  It’s hard, hard work, and I see families having to guard their calendars like ninjas to make it happen, but they do.

2. It’s a time for connection and conversation – Let me tell you, dinner conversation in our house is pretty dull right now, especially if Elias or I is absent from the table and it’s just one of us with the boys. “Hey, boys, what else starts with the letter ‘A?” Then there’s the ever popular “What are you going to do tomorrow?” conversation with a 2 and 3 year old. Enthralling. Except not really. I look forward to days when our conversations will be more complex and I really really cherish memories of my family conversations at the dinner table when I was growing up, though I am pretty sure I didn’t really value them at the time.

3. It’s a great time to pass on faith and values to children – Of the 50 family faith practices in my book, five of them can be practiced right a the dinner table, and a good many more (if not all) can be talked about at the dinner table. That doesn’t even include blessings over the meal, reading sacred stories after dinner is over or other traditional faith practices. Even families who don’t identify with a particular faith tradition can appreciate that the dinner table offers a moment for reflection about the day and about the choices that day had to offer.

4. It provides structure – Not just for kids — for everyone. We need routines, all of us, because this world is hard.

5. It forces us to look our family members in the face – I heard this great interview of poet Marie Howe awhile ago. She was talking about how the number one face she peered into over the course of a day was the face of her phone. This is true of so many of us. Screens, phones, computers, iPads. We need a consistent time, every day, (or as many as we can manage) where we put our screens away and look our family members in the face.

6. It’s the time for individual families to do their own thaaaang. What is your family about? Are you silly? Do you tell jokes? Do you sing together? Do you have a crazy game? Family dinner is when you can practice it/do it/celebrate it/live it. Family dinner is where cultures and traditions can be explored and celebrated, too. Do it your way.

If you’re still with me, I’m guessing you either already have a practice of family dinner or you’re thinking about beefing it up or starting it. I want to share as many resources as I can so that it might be successful. As I mentioned, my family is young, so I’m going to be pointing to some resources from others as well as what’s been working for my family so far.

1. Lower your expectations – The article I referenced at the very beginning is valuable for this warning — parents (and especially women) are so pressured to do too much, be too much, do it all, be perfect. Scrambled eggs and tortillas is a legitimate menu in our household. Ditto fried egg sandwiches, Mac & Cheese from the box, bean and cheese tostadas and pancakes. Sometimes I make fancy food (that the boys usually like less than the aforementioned options) many times we eat very simple, very inexpensive food.

2. Make a Plan – I’m not a fan of planning and lists, but I work hard on this for family meals because if I didn’t, it would come completely unglued. I think it’s probably of very little value to share my system because I would imagine that everyone would need their own system that works for them, but for what it’s worth, here’s what I do:

menu

– On the inside of my cabinet I have a running list of literally every possible thing we could have for dinner. (Read: things I know how to cook that we all like to eat.) It’s divided up into categories: chicken, meat, eggs, soups, grains, and other.

– Once every week or 10 days – sometimes as many as two weeks, I go through and pick one (or two) things from the list that I am going to make based on how busy the weeks is, what’s on sale, what we feel like and what we haven’t eaten in a long time.

– Off the plan of what we’re going to eat, I make a list based on what we have in the house.

I put the plan of what we’re going to eat on a piece of paper on the side of the fridge (now a fancy whiteboard — ooooh! Fancy!)

I cross off the meals as we eat them. I used to plan what we would eat on which day (Monday: Meatloaf, Tuesday, Pancakes, etc.) I stopped doing that because sometimes I would have planned something complicated on a day I was exhausted and sometimes we had so many leftovers in the fridge I wanted to have a “leftovers” night. I know lots of people who do plan what they have for the specific days, though. I used to save the papers with the weekly plans so I could repeat them, but  that morphed into the master list of all the meal options.

– Another handy thing that I do is post all of the things that we eat all the time on the inside of a different cabinet so I’m not forever checking recipes on the internet or in books. I just folded a paper into eight so there are eight little squares and each time I looked up something I had looked up a million times I wrote it down. Over time the paper grew into another and it’s really handy. One of these days I’m going to type it out all pretty and fancy like. Today is not that day.

There are many, many, systems apps and ideas for other ways to do family dinners, I couldn’t even begin to list them all. A few resources that are worth it, I think:

Once a month meals – I love this in concept – I don’t have the ability or brain capacity to make it happen. Our meals are also way simpler than the meals on this site.

Dinner: A Love Story – Great Blog, Haven’t read the book, but it’s on my to read list.

The Family Dinner – This book was inspiring. The only critique I have of it was that it seemed to prescriptive and limiting in the way it thought that family meals have to be done. I think each family needs to find their own way and have their own rules and systems. What worked for the author wouldn’t necessarily work in my family. Still, I agree with the general premise.

Of course Seamless Faith has loads of ideas and a general philosophy that gels with everything I’m talking about here. One of the practices is “The Sacred Meal”. Sign up if you haven’t already! 

What’s your favorite memory of a family meal, either from long ago, or recently?

 

 

 

 

 

Five reasons I’m telling the awful story about one of the worst moments of my life.

This isn’t a mommy blog, but this is a mommy story. I felt like I couldn’t not tell it.

Tonight my two year old child choked on a piece of fruit. By “choked” I don’t mean that he was coughing and sputtering and I said “whoops, careful, honey.” I mean no crying, no breathing, no sounds… nothing. It’s the type of thing that every parent fears, and it’s the type of thing I never thought would happen to me. I always cut up the hotdogs into quarters. I always slice grapes in half. I monitor the toys. No popcorn allowed in our house. Tonight I gave them some cantaloupe. I hadn’t cut it myself, so I didn’t know how hard it was, but the other cantaloupe we had the other day was soft and mushy and so I didn’t even give it a second thought as I poured it out of the container onto the tray. When it happened right away, I knew something was wrong. There was no sound at all. I’m a worrier when it comes to choking so I know: when there is noise, there is no choking, the best thing to do is to continue coughing. But in this case, there was no noise, and so I knew, and I leapt into action. I pulled the child out of his chair, draped him over my arm and started giving the thrusts on his back, right between the shoulder blades (and firmly) in my case (mercifully!) it took only two (maybe only one, I can’t remember) sharp blow, and the cantaloupe came flying out.

This is the amazing two year old in question:

sammy

Do you know what I would do without him?

Back to the choking story. The whole thing, start to finish, was less than a minute. We are blessed and lucky. Choking is the leading cause of accidental death in children under five.  If it could happen to me, me who cuts up the fruit and the grapes and doesn’t allow popcorn and worries about it a lot (more than average, I would say), well, it could happen to you.  So I’m telling my story now, even though I’d rather forget it. Here’s why.

1. I don’t want you to worry only about those foods on the “naughty” list. My child didn’t choke on a piece of hot dog or a grape or popcorn. It was cantaloupe, but it was too firm, and it was just the right size.

2. I want you to brush up on the first aid, or take a course. I’ve taken the full first aid course a couple of times, but my certification has lapsed. Mercifully, I did the right things, but if I hadn’t had those first aid courses, I’m not sure I would have done exactly what I did and, as it turns out, it was the right thing to do.

3. I want you to rejoice with me, and give thanks for our children. It’s so cliche, right? You’re going along with your day and BAM! Everything changes. I’m telling you, everything changes when something like this happens. I’m so unbelievably thankful for my child’s life this evening. Immediately after this happened he wanted to sing “the chicken on the bus goes ‘cluck, cluck, cluck'” and I thought “this is the most amazing moment of my entire life.” Because, wow. I mean, WOW.

4. I want you to hang this poster in your kitchen. I do. I really do. I’m going to hang it in mine. I don’t really care that it doesn’t go with anything. I want any babysitter, any guest, any visitor, anyone to be able to see it and know what to do if it happens to any person in my home. I don’t care. It’s going up. Tomorrow.

choking-page-0

Here is a PDF link. 

5. I don’t want you to worry too much. Yeah, it could happen to you. It happened to me, so you should take precautions, but the fact is, lots and lots of kids go through life without choking (I never did, thankfully!). I’m praying that my little 2 year old never remembers this incident. I’m positive I’ll remember it every single day for the rest of my life. (Ok, maybe not everyday, but check with me when I’m 90, because I’m guessing I’ll say “I remember it like it was yesterday”.) 

Don’t worry, but do hang the poster in your kitchen.

Let’s hope I never write another post like this ever, ever again.