Today is World Refugee Sunday. As we seek to support refugees, this story about the author’s own experience as a refugee from Poland living in Kazakhstan reminds of us how our imaginations can bring us comfort even when we are far away from our familiar lives.
The gentle illustrations in this children’s book soften the story a bit, which may invoke complex emotions. Cindy’s friends are inspired by how much she loves and cares for her puppy. As you listen, pay attention to your feelings. When do you feel sad? worried? angry? What actions in the story make people feel safe and loved and respected?
In When Smudge Came, we see that Cindy’s friends at hospice show her love because she showed love to Smudge, which reminds me of this week’s lectionary reading: 1 John 4:7-21. Can you think of times when you were inspired to love others because someone loved you?
As we celebrate Earth Day, we hope you enjoy seeing photos from how people enjoy a drink of water around the world!
Easter means ham, and that means leftover ham, which makes me very happy. At the request of a friend, I’m sharing some of our favorite ways to enjoy it:
- Ham and cheese quiche. Swiss, cheddar, and muenster are all lovely. Use a potato crust if, like us, you’re meh on pastry crusts.
- Macaroni and cheese with cubed ham. Make it fancy with asparagus (also an Easter leftover) and panko breadcrumbs on top.
- Fry ham slices with onions and pierogies.
- Breakfast cups. Shape biscuit dough into a cup in a muffin tin, then top with beaten eggs, ham, cheese, and ground pepper.
- Ham loaf. Yes, I mean it.
- Ham balls. A throwback recipe that pairs well with pineapple upside down cake and Kansas Public Radio’s Retro Cocktail Hour.
- Ham salad. Variations are endless.
- Potato hash. Use leftover boiled potatoes or shredded hashbrowns. Top with a jammy egg and a wilted bitter green like Swiss chard.
- Fettuccine alfredo with cubed ham and peas.
- Ham and potato soup–creamy, with crunchy bacon bits, sour cream, green onions, and cheddar cheese.
- Boiled red potatoes, cubed ham, and green beans in Italian dressing, served warm or cold.
- Ham and cheese scones.
- Ham, egg, and cheese bierocks.
- Grilled cheese with ham. Make it fancy with thinly sliced green apples.
- Buttered egg noodles with cubed ham and asparagus.
- Baked potatoes with ham, cheese, and broccoli.
- Dutch pancake with ham and gravy.
- Calzones with ham and ricotta
- Black beans with cubed ham.
- Scalloped potatoes with ham.
- Pineapple and ham kabobs
- Chef’s salad with ham, turkey, hard boiled eggs, and blue cheese
One of my favorite parts of my neighborhood is our Sharing Box, a small outdoor pantry where neighbors can put things to share and take what they need or want. It’s the perfect distance from our house for a walk with our dogs, and we go at least once a day.
In March, we’re working hard to add more items that women need or we think women might especially enjoy. Here are some things we’re sharing:
- menstrual care products
- favorite recipes on notecards
- small zippered bags for makeup
- lip gloss
- hand sanitizer
- nail polish
- recent magazines
- cooking utensils
- a baking dish
- hair ties
- bars of soap
- decorative candles
- craft supplies
- wrapping paper
- book of puzzles
- pepper and other spices
- boxes of tea
- children’s books
- Vienna sausages
- granola bars
- individually-packaged cookies
- cheese-and-cracker packs
- juice boxes
- individually wrapped bags of microwavable popcorn
- individual soda cans (provided it’s not freezing)
What keeps a family together when they don’t look alike? Love!
The last Sunday of February brings us one more children’s picture book featuring Black characters: Chris Raschke’s Yes? Yo! It’s a lively dialogue (simple enough for early readers) about a new friendship. Hope you like it!
During February, our church is sharing children’s books featuring Black characters. This Caldecott Honor book tells the story of CJ and his grandma as they leave church and go someplace special–but not someplace CJ wants to go at first.
One of my favorite parts of my neighborhood is our Sharing Box, a small outdoor pantry where neighbors can put things to share and take what they need or want. Since Advent coincided with our new puppy’s ability to go on longer walks, we have used the Sharing Box as a destination multiple times a day (It’s a few blocks away–just enough for a little walk) and used Advent as an opportunity to share more. We set our goal of sharing once per day, and we’ve mostly kept it up.
Here are some things we’re sharing during the cold month of February.
- canned soup with pop-tops
- boxed soup
- in-season citrus fruit (dropped off in the morning before the temperature freezes)
- tins of sardines
- double-bagged Ziploc quarts of homemade curry
- frozen pizzas (during our run of below-freezing days, marked on the outside with the moment of delivery so that folks know how long they’ve been in the box)
- single-serving size bags of chips
- individually wrapped tea bags
- packets of hot cocoa mix
- boxes of almond milk
- bottle of hot hot sauce
- a can opener
- box of cake mix + a 9×13 pan to bake it in
- small bag of apples
- extra toothbrushes and sample-sized floss and toothpaste picked up from the dentist
- bars of soap
- winter pajamas we’ve outgrown
- hats, gloves, scarves, and mittens we’ve outgrown
- decks of cards, including Uno and Skip-Bo
- Valentine’s Day cards for kids to share at school
- bag of individually-wrapped Valentine’s Day candy for kids to share at school
- recent issues of magazines
- this week’s local newspaper
- repurposed shaker bottle (like from Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast) filled with sidewalk salt
- costume jewelry that a child might like to give to their mother or grandmother
- a doll
We love our sharing box!
The Snowy Day was the first children’s picture book to respectfully depict Black children. Teachers who read it to their students soon reported that it helped African American children see themselves for the first time in books. One teacher wrote to him, according to Deborah Pope, the executive director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation:
There was a teacher [who] wrote in to Ezra, saying, ‘The kids in my class, for the first time, are using brown crayons to draw themselves.’ These are African-American children. Before this, they drew themselves with pink crayons. But now, they can see themselves.
You can hear this story read aloud as part of our church’s commitment to sharing picture books featuring Black characters during the month of February.
You can hear the whole service here.