It’s Time to Talk to Your Kids About Race

As you can imagine, this has been in a hot topic in our Faith Development meetings the past few weeks. We are working together develop ideas for how to make Religious Education at UUCA even more focused on Justice in the coming year. This is our work and we are dedicated to taking it on, but we need your help! As parents and caregivers, you are your child’s primary religious educator. If you’ve been to an OWL orientation, this probably sounds familiar as I have emphatically told many of you over the years that you are your child’s primary sexuality educator. It’s just as true when we are talking about race, justice, and equity. Your kids are learning explicit and implicit lessons from you every day.

Talking about race with your kids, especially if your family is white, can be very uncomfortable. It is our job as UUs to lean into that discomfort and do the work of justice. Our job as church staff is to give you some tools to get started and to continue the conversation. If you are anything like me, it can be really anxiety inducing to even consider having these conversations with your families. Here are the tools I want to share with you this week.

Feeling anxious? Check out this guide to overcoming anxiety so you can talk to kids about race effectively: https://www.rebekahgienapp.com/anxiety-race/

Wondering if your kids are too young to start the conversation? Check out this podcast from NPR about talking to about race with young children:

https://www.npr.org/2019/04/24/716700866/talking-race-with-young-children

We will also be transitioning our bi-weekly parent check in Zoom group to an Anti Racist Parenting Discussion group. We will meet on Tuesday, June 23rd at 9 pm to discuss this action guide for talking to your children about racial injustice. The link for the Zoom will be in our weekly RE email. Looking for more resources or something more specific? Email me at lrec@uuasheville.org and I will do my best to help you find what you’re looking for.

https://www.embracerace.org/assets/young_kids_racial_injustice.pdf

Resources for Our Current Times

This past Saturday, our RE Family Email included resources for parents that I want to share again with everyone here. Like all of you, I am again heartbroken over the killing of black and brown people by police officers all over America. I have spent lots of time over the last week feeling at a loss for words or action. I have to remind myself frequently that this is my work. My work is to empower you to raise anti-racist, compassionate, and justice oriented children. RE staff will continue to work to bring you more resources. Please know that you can reach out for us if you need further support, we are here to help you.

Talking to kids about riots: https://redtri.com/how-to-educate-your-children-on-riots-protests/ &
https://alysonschafer.com/talk-kids-violence-racism-charlottesville/

Resources for talking to kids about race, identity, and equity:
https://www.tolerance.org/
https://www.prettygooddesign.org/blog/Blog%20Post%20Title%20One-5new4?fbclid=IwAR0AhjBh32dfrtPlKUJwL7xhMBkMS8JulJxWk8CTCfjCvabChhsTs3gljuM
https://www.embracerace.org/

Please also consider what actions you and your families can take now. Donate to a bail out fund or patronize a local black owned business. This is a list of bail out funds, I do not currently have a good link for an Asheville bail out fund (if you know of one, please let me know!): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1X4-YS3vFn5CLL9QtJSU0xqmTh_h8XilXgOqGAjZISBI/edit?usp=sharing and here is a list of black owned businesses in Asheville: https://avltoday.6amcity.com/black-owned-businesses-asheville-nc/.

Community Connections

In this time of social distancing and isolation, how are you connecting with your community? The staff at UUCA has been working hard to find ways for our community to keep connecting. In addition to our recorded weekly worship service, we are offering a Sunday coffee hour drop in Zoom at 12:30 pm. We are hosting a parent check in group every other Tuesday at 9:00 pm. People of all ages are welcome to join our Spirit Play circle on most Sunday mornings at 10:00. Vespers is happening live on Zoom, Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm. The Buddhist Fellowship group is meeting, as well as Peacemakers, and covenant groups. We also have some wonderful volunteers calling to check in on folks in our congregation.

We know that things can be especially difficult right now for children and youth, who are used to spending time with friends at school, church, and other activities. Consider supporting them by setting up times for them to be social with their friends, including other UUCA families. 

For unstructured time to just chat and hangout, Apple’s Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangout, and Skype are all free!

Does your family enjoy playing games? Check out the website Board Game Arena. You can play games with friends and family at a distance.

https://en.boardgamearena.com/join

How about a collaborative art project? We would love to see what you create together!

http://flockdraw.com/

Looking for offline ways to connect? Consider making cards to send to other congregants. Want to know where to send stuff? Ask us and we’ll connect you!

Take Some Time to Relax!

Hello Families!

This week we’d like to share with you some relaxation ideas that your whole family can do together. This is a stressful time for everyone, especially little folks whose routines have been interrupted and who are learning to do school in a whole new way.

One easy way is to use a guided meditation, like this one on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDKyRpW-Yuc

You can also read aloud a guided meditation. This one is recommended in this month’s Soul Matters packet. I like it because it’s about the wisdom of your body. Listening to our bodies and doing what it needs is a key way to stay healthy and mindful. 

Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Let that breathe out slowly and fully. Today we are going to learn something important about our amazing bodies.

As you relax more and more, you can feel your entire body getting warm and comfortable. Your mind feels relaxed; your body feels relaxed. All is well.

As you rest in this peaceful state, let your mind drift as you listen to my words.

Think for a moment about your body. No matter the shape or size, your body is magnificent and beautiful. Your body is composed of individual cells, which work together in harmony to keep you at your very best.

Let’s think about your feet. You might have little crooked toes, you might have perfectly straight ones, yet each and every one is perfect in its own way. Your feet and toes help you move and get to where you want to go. Say a little thank you to your amazing feet that carry you places you want to go.

Now think about your legs – your wonderful, beautiful legs. Some legs are thick and some legs are thin, but what matters is that they are powerful enough to help us move.

It’s very important to keep in mind that you don’t need to look like anyone else. You are already the perfect YOU!

We can love and appreciate our bodies exactly as they are. As we get older, we may notice some people complain about their bodies. They forget that all bodies are special and beautiful in their own way.

How boring it would be if everyone looked exactly alike! We are each so wondrously made, and we should always remember to love each and every part of our powerful, amazing bodies – inside and out.

Consider your strong back and shoulders. They help you lift and move things. They hold you up straight and help you walk tall. It’s important to be thankful for your strong back and shoulders for carrying what you need to carry in life.

Think about your arms and hands now. How wonderful it is to be able to hug the people you love. Thanks to our arms and hands, we can hold the people we care about during happy times and sad times, too. Be thankful to your arms for how strong and beautiful they are, helping you every day.

Finally, think about your beautiful face. There is no other face like yours. People can see your beautiful inner light shining out through your eyes – and even through your smile.

Remember today – and every day – to be very thankful for your marvelous body. It will be with you always, to help you experience life and express yourself in many fantastic ways.

When you’re ready and with another deep breath, open your eyes.

You’ve done a wonderful job relaxing your body and learning to be thankful for it today.

  • Mellisa Dormay

How about a family art project? We know that most kids are getting a lot of screen time now with the addition of online school and a lot of parents needing to work at home as well. There is no shame in this! However, if you are looking for some creative options that kids can either do on their own, or with their families, we have a few suggestions of our most popular choices in our Spirit Play centers. These are good for all ages!

Fuse Beads (Perler Beads)

You will need an iron for these, and it can be a little tricky to finish the projects with the iron, but it just takes a little practice. You use pegboards to make designs using small colored beads. This is one of our most popular options in the Contemplation center. You can look up patterns online, or just let your imagination run wild. We’d love to see some photos of your creations! Consider making a chalice design and sharing it with us. You can find a good starter kit on Amazon here:

https://www.amazon.com/5500-Beads-Pegboards-Tweezer-Compatible/dp/B076HBM8M9/ref=sr_1_9?crid=244AE6ONWQT5S&dchild=1&keywords=perler+beads+kit&qid=1585154052&sprefix=perler+beads%2Caps%2C446&sr=8-9

You can also find kits with larger beads for smaller fingers on Amazon. You can search Fuse Beads or Perler Beads.

Weaving

Weaving is another project that can be done on one’s own, or collaboratively. We have gotten a lot of use out of our portable weaving looms in the Art center. Kids can take turns adding their own section to the piece and you might end up with a lovely new decoration for your home! Here is a link to the looms that we use in RE:

https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Doug-Wooden-Multi-Craft-Weaving/dp/B00KO6UGXG/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1EEB5J56X56YF&dchild=1&keywords=looms+for+kids&qid=1585154922&sprefix=looms%2Caps%2C157&sr=8-4

Starting this Sunday, you can join us on Sunday mornings live at 10am for a Spirit Play circle and story. Though it is geared towards our younger folks, everyone who might enjoy it is welcome to attend. Check your email for Zoom information to join us. If you didn’t get an email, you can email Jen at lreasst@uuasheville.org or Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org and we can send it to you. 

We will also be hosting a bi-weekly parent check in via Zoom as well, every other week on Tuesday at 7:30 pm. Jen will host this week, Tuesday, March 31st at 7:30 pm. Check your email for the Zoom info and email us if you don’t have it but would like to join in.

Creating Ritual at Home

Create a ritual at home!

While we are spending more time together at home with our families, why not use this time to create some family rituals that center our UU faith?

Here are some elements to consider including:

A Chalice Lighting

If you have a chalice at home, you can use that one. If not, consider making one out of objects around your house – anything that you can safely burn a candle in can be a chalice!

Choose a reading or words to say. If you have a copy of Singing the Living Tradition (our gray hymnal) you can choose one from there, or another book or readings or poetry that you like. There’s also an app for that! You can download the WorshipWeb app on your phone or other device to access a lot of UU readings, including chalice lighting words. The app also includes a virtual chalice that you can use. You can also access the WorshipWeb library via this link: https://www.uua.org/worship

Here are some chalice lighting words that I like:

We are Unitarian Universalists

A people of open minds,

Loving hearts, 

And helping hands

(Use the hand motions if you know them!)

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” 

-Ray Bradbury

For each child that’s born, a morning star rises and sings to the universe who we are.

We are our grandmothers’ prayers and

we are our grandfathers’ dreamings,

we are the breath of our ancestors,

we are the spirit of God.

We are the mothers of courage and fathers of time,

we are daughters of the dust and the sons of great visions,

we’re sisters of mercy and brothers of love,

we are lovers of life and the builders of nations,

we’re seekers of truth and keepers of faith,

we’re makers of peace and the wisdom of ages.

-Ysaye M. Barnwell

Check In

Check in is a familiar element for many UU’s. You can do a 90 second check in like we do at staff meetings at UUCA where everyone has a certain amount of time to say how they’re doing or what they’re been up to. Family members can check in with what their personal weather is today and why, for example “My weather today is sunny because I had a good day and got to do things that I liked” or “My weather is cloudy because I’m feeling uncertain about what is happening in the world”. You can also use the Rose, Thorn, and Bud method where each person says something they are happy about, something they are sad or mad about, and something they are looking forward to. You can do something as simple as having everyone say what their favorite flavor of ice cream is. Having a set time to check in everyday can help provide some stability for everyone.

Family Story Time

Each day, families can take turns choosing stories to read to each other. It can be a treasured book from your own collection, or a choice from this comprehensive list of stories from Tapestry of Faith curriculum program: https://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/stories

Need a break, parents?

Check out this great website for kids from the San Diego Zoo! https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/ Kids can spend some time on this website on their own, while you can get some work done (or do the dishes, or take a shower). You can even talk together about our 7th Principle – Respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part – and what that has to do with caring for animals during family time.

A Monthly Mantra Exploring Wisdom

This week’s Soulful Homes activity lifts up a theme-related mantra for your family to carry with them throughout the month. The authors invite us to think of these “family sayings” as tools for the journey, reminders that help us re-focus and steady ourselves and our kids as we navigate through life’s challenges and opportunities.  Write them on sticky notes to put in your car, on kitchen cabinet fronts, on computer screens and/or your family message board. Share them out loud at home and out in the world, where and whenever the need arises. 

We encourage you to use the “Soulful Homes” activities posted weekly to support your role as the primary religious educators of your children. These activities can help you stay engaged with the monthly theme and support you in carving out spaces for spiritual grounding and family connection. Staff will be including a weekly activity from Soulful Homes or another source once a week on this Family Ministry blog. Please contact me if you have questions, feedback or suggestions on how we can support families during this time of social distancing. Take care.
Rev. Claudia
faithdev@uuasheville.org.

March’s Mantra: What wisdom does this hold for me?

Sometimes we recognize wisdom right when we encounter it, but more often, it takes careful reflection, a little more life experience, or a good amount of time passing before we come to understand the deeper truth and meaning of what we’ve been part of or witness to.

Still, we know that our experiences–especially the challenging ones–are places where our wisdom is grown. This month, we invite you to keep the mantra in front of you whenever you find yourself facing something unusual or mildly unsettling: What wisdom does this hold for me? 

Asking the question in and of itself can help us shift away from reactionary  thinking and into more critical thinking. It also reminds us that when our beliefs or assumptions get shaken up a bit, it can be an opportunity for us to re-examine old ideas to either be sure they still fit or change them. 

Realizing that you’re late on something you really, really wanted to do on time… “What wisdom does this hold for me?”

Noticing a couple or a parent and child arguing in public… “What wisdom does this hold for me?”

Disagreeing with a friend or acquaintance on a core belief of yours… “What wisdom does this hold for me?”

Again, you may only seldom have an answer, but the question is signaling a readiness to welcome epiphanies and realizations wherever they may be found, even in your challenges.

Exploring Wisdom: At the Table

Welcome to the month of wisdom! At the Table questions from the Soul Matters “Soulful Home” resource explore the monthly theme through a discussion for all ages. They are designed for a family gathering – maybe during a Friday night meal, a quiet moment in the living room or before a board game night.  If you would like to receive the entire booklet with more fun ways to explore wisdom with your family please contact Rev. Claudia at faithdev@uuasheville.org

INTRODUCING THE ACTIVITY

Family members who are readers can alternate who reads the questions. Those who are not readers are invited to share their own impromptu questions. Discussion partners might answer as thoughts come to them or take turns in a circle. 

  1. Which animals do you think of as wise, and which do you think of as foolish? Why do you think you have those ideas?
  2. Would you rather be wise or friendly, if you had to choose just one?
  3. We often think of professors or ministers as wise, but other workers are also wise in not-always-noticed ways. In what ways might a daycare provider be wise? A carpenter? A guitar player? A farmer? A plumber? A construction worker? A salesperson?
  4. Do you think plants and trees have wisdom? If so, what might it be like? And how do you think they share it with other plants and animals? And us?!
  5. Are people born wise, or do they learn wisdom?
  6. How can you tell good advice from bad advice (in other words, what’s wisdom, and what’s not)?
  7. Whom do you think of as a really wise person among your family’s circle of friends?
  8. Do wise people go around saying how wise they are? (If not, how do you KNOW they’re wise?)
  9. Do you think it’s easy to live wisely? Why or why not?
  10. What’s the most “un-wise” thing that is happening in our world today?
  11. Is wisdom the same as knowing facts? How are they different?
  12. Is it ever wise to admit that you don’t know the answer?
  13. What is a wise thing you know today that you didn’t know a year ago?
  14. Have you ever heard a wise voice rise up from inside you? 
  15. On a scale of 1 to 10, how wise were you today? What did you do or not do that made you give yourself that score? 

Ways to Return to the Discussion Throughout the Week 

Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child in to bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice that together, how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others.

SOURCE: Soulful Home

A Treasure Hunt for Resilience

This month’s Soulful Home packet invites us to reflect on resilience. Team member Teresa writes the following:
“For a people of faith, resilience is more than grit (though it can contain grit), and it’s more than good vibes (though good vibes help). Resilience is about keeping the faith together; reminding ourselves and each other of stories of courage, redemption, and community; and consciously–even playfully–cultivating tools to help us grow into our sturdy wholeness.”

The activity for this month invites us to envision resilience manifesting in several different ways in our community. We can find resilience – i.e. “come-back stories” – in the natural world, in our community offerings, in art, in public services, even in everyday objects found in many public places. With resilience in mind, can you find…

  • A fidget spinner (This fad was a huge hit in 2017! Fidget toys can help people relieve stress and calm and focus their minds.)
  • A mural or other piece of public art that makes you feel uplifted 
  • A recharging station (this can be literal or figurative)
  • A counseling office (use this opportunity to destigmatize and talk about the role of psychotherapy and counselling in helping people heal and grow)
  • Three different types of water fountains (places to step away, take a break, and rejuvenate)
  • A First-Aid kit or Defibrillator (resources to help a person recover after an emergency)
  • Glowing coals (holding the heat and ready to be blown back into a fire, perhaps?)
  • A dandelion (a most resilient wildflower who might be popping up–or laying low, close the ground–where you live!)
  • A community center (where a resilient community might offer free services to help folks socialize, move their bodies, get career or tax help, etc.)
Can you find this art work in downtown Asheville?

Exploring Integrity Through Discussions

An invitation to explore the monthly theme through a discussion for all ages. These questions are designed for family gathering – maybe during a Friday night meal, a quiet moment in the living room or before a board game night, car rides, hikes or any time you have moments when you can listen to each other.

Introducing the Activity

Family members who are readers can alternate who reads the questions. Those who are not readers are invited to share their own impromptu questions. Discussion partners might answer as thoughts come to them or take turns in a circle. 

  1. Is it more important to be right, or kind?
  2. Would you rather have friends who are always sure they are right, or who can’t make up their minds?
  3. Whom do you know who always does the right thing?
  4. On a scale from 1 to 10, how easy is it to be honest with your friends?
  5. Who taught you the most about being true to your word, or following through on what you say you’re going to do?
  6. Do you remember your first lie? How did it feel and what did it teach you?
  7. Who in your life is most “themselves”? In other words, who is least afraid to be who they are?
  8. What is one action that is always wrong? What is one action that is always right?
  9. What face do you make when you are about to do something that you know or suspect is wrong?
  10. Around whom in your life are you free to be your most complete self?
  11. How are you different from what other people think of you?
  12. What is one thing you hope is always true about you?
  13. What are the three most important pieces of you?
  14. Where is a place where all of you is accepted, where you don’t have to hide any part of yourself?

Ways to Return to the Discussion Throughout the Week 

Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child in to bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice that together, how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others. 
SOURCE: Soul Matters- Soulful Home

Exploring Awe Through Discussions

Welcome to our Family Ministry blog.

Staff and I will be sharing resources to support your role as primary religious educators of your children.  We will also post future programs, multigenerational service dates and other events that might be of interest to UUCA families. We hope you like our new website and welcome your feedback on how we can make it more useful to you and your family.

Rev. Claudia

 

At the Table
Exploring Awe Through Discussions

At the Table questions explore the December monthly theme of awe through a discussion for all ages. They are designed for a family gathering – maybe during a Friday night meal, a quiet moment in the living room or before a board game night.

Introducing the Activity

Family members who are readers can alternate who reads the questions. Those who are not readers are invited to share their own impromptu questions. Discussion partners might answer as thoughts come to them or take turns in a circle.

  • Who is somebody awesome that you look up to?
  • Is awe something you can guarantee that someone else will feel?
  • Do adults and kids experience awe differently?
  • What is a movie or show that you think is awesome, but your friends find rather “meh”?
  • Would you rather be at the top of a steep, snowy mountain, or at the bottom of a massive, towering tree?
  • What are you awesome at? What are other members of your family awesome at?
  • What’s the most awesome thing your family has done together?
  • What’s the most awesome thing you’ve done by yourself?
  • Does lying on the ground in the dark staring up at the stars sound awesome or awful to you? Are night skies stunning or scary to you?
  • People sometimes know they are experiencing awe when they get goosebumps. When was the last time you got goosebumps?
  • Sometimes things that are awesome can be scary and overwhelming, like seeing a shark up close or being really high up on a bridge or in a building. What is something that you find both wonderful and terrifying at the same time?

Ways to Return to the Discussion Throughout the Month

Thoughts develop with time. Find opportunities to bring up particularly compelling questions again during the month, maybe on walks, rides home, when tucking your child in to bed, etc. If thoughts grew or changed, notice that together, how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others.

SOURCE:  Soul Home produced by the Soul Matters Team