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!
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!
I’ve been a little jealous these last few weeks as friends in different parts of the country have gotten snow and we’ve gotten warnings about snow and then… nothing. But today, a little snow landed and stuck–nothing serious, but enough to make it feel like winter for a bit. Which also means it’s easier to say goodbye to Christmas, which we’ve started celebrating through the 40th day after December 25th, because it still feels like winter (which it is).
Here are some highlights from our house this Christmas season.
Above, scenes from our Advent wreath making project. Using recycled parts but new candles, we made an Advent wreath for everyone at church who asked, about 10 in all.
During one of our weekly Christmas crafts, we made garland from paint chip samples–trees and stars.
Do you have a Christmas pickle on your tree? We used paint chips to make 3 dozen of them to share with neighborhood friends.
More Christmas crafts! Trees from a paper forest, a pinecone elf, and snowpeople made from wooden blocks.
Last year, we made every family with children at church a small Holy Family painted on tiny rocks. This year, we made every family with children a peg people Holy Family.
Some presents appear every single year: board and card games, books, and either mugs, travel mugs, thermoses, or water bottles.
Christmas Eve dinner references my life back East, so, this year, crab mac and cheese. Christmas Dinner this year was themed “traditional Midwestern,” with roast beef replacing turkey. As usual, the sides are the star. (And, yes a 1:8 lb butter:potato recipe is entirely appropriate)
We love birds in our tree–and here are some additions for the year: a felt cardinal, a knitted cardinal, and a ceramic star with a dove cut from it.
New wreaths, three on the tree (a yarn one by a friend and two woven from wheat), plus one we made from a grapevine wreath on the banister.
Each Sunday during February, we’re reading a book featuring Black characters during our church’s Children’s Time. We start the month with How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. We hope you like it!
You can see the whole service here.