Take a Play Break!

This will be the last Family Ministry blog until September. Like the rest of you, this author is ready for a break! As you may have heard, UUCA is taking a break in July. I know that I plan to do some very practical things with my summer break (I’m coming for you, closet!) but I also plan to make sure that I have plenty of time for play. It can look different for all of us, for sure. I hope to get in some swimming, hiking with our pups, gardening, reading, and even some video games. Play can be done in so many ways, and as long as you aren’t harming anyone or anything, there’s no wrong way to do it!

Usually in this blog I give you lots of things to discuss with your family and others and resources for you to explore with and without kids, but since I hope that you’ll all be spending more time playing this month, here are couple of quick ideas to help explore the theme of play:

Check out the 16 different types of Play for inspiration here: https://www.wonderyears.com.sg/preschooler/16-types-of-play-for-children-great-for-development

Treasure Hunt for Play

Our neighborhoods are full of fun things to play with! Below are some “supplies” along with suggestions for how you might play with them. We are certain you will find exactly what you need to play some great games together! Please remember to be careful not to disturb native wildlife habits during your play.

Find rocks…

Who can stack them the tallest?

Build huts and caves out of them 

Make a path to find the hidden treasure

Find sticks…

Play pick-up sticks

Make stick pictures

Tie bundles together with long pieces of grass

Find tall weeds…

Make flower crowns

Pretend to cook (but don’t eat them unless a 

trusted adult tells you they are edible)

Pretend hair salon, using weeds as shampoo

Pretend to be snakes slithering through the grass

Find mud, sand, or other earth…

Make mud pies

Bury each other’s toes or fingers

Uncover earthworms (and gently recover them again!)

Find seeds, berries, or flowers…

Make a flower crown

Make clothes for fir-cone dolls or creatures

Make mandalas

Find your shadows…

Play shadow tag

Make shadow animal impressions

See who can make their shadow the tallest

What Does it Mean to be a Family of Story?

I was having a bit of a hard time mustering up the enthusiasm to write this blog this month. For many of us, it’s almost “the end of the year” and frankly we’re exhausted. To say this year has been challenging for most of us would be something of an understatement. But then I started reading about the monthly theme, looking for some inspiration from the Soulful Home packet. Story. What is a worship service if not a collaborative story? The ministers, religious educators, worship associates, music director, musicians, and other worship participants all work together to tell a story every week. Not to mention our fabulous tech people who actually stitch the story together for our recorded services. We tell stories in religious education all the time. You can find the story of what’s happening at UUCA in the eNews every week. Currently, staff and other church leaders are embarking on writing our annual report, which is our story of this year at UUCA. It turns out that almost everything we do here at UUCA is related to stories and telling them.

Spend some time with your family this month exploring our theme of Story using some of the suggestions below. I know that you’re worn out and it might seem like a difficult task right now, but consider just spending 10 minutes with some of the discussion questions over dinner one night, or listen to The Moth in the car together on the way to or from school. What is your family’s story?

Kim Collins, LREC

Family Dinner Discussion Questions

  1. What’s the first story you remember hearing (could be a family story, a folk tale, a ballad, etc.)?
  2. What happens in your mind when you hear a story? (Examples might be picturing the characters, imagining yourself sitting in the setting and watching what happens, smelling smells and hearing sounds, trying to figure out how the story will end, imagining yourself as one of the characters, etc.)
  3. If your experiences  last month had a title, what would that title be?
  4. How would you describe the story of Unitarian Universalism? A hero story? Detective story? Love story? 
  5. Where do you think stories came from?
  6. Who’s usually the storyteller in your family? Who’s most likely to add embellishments and exaggerations to make the story really memorable?
  7. What makes a really good story?
  8. Whose story are you curious to know?
  9. If you could go back in time and ask a historical figure to tell you stories about their lives, who would you pick?
  10. What are the ways we tell stories without words?
  11. Have you ever been healed by a story?

At the Bedside: The Storytelling Stone, by Joseph Bruchac

The night you decide to tell this story, bring a couple of smooth stones with you to your child’s room. Begin by handing a stone to your child, and asking them about it. What does it feel like? How old do you suppose it is? If a stone had a spirit, what might that spirit have to say? Then, you are ready to begin.

Joseph Bruchac is a storyteller, author, and poet, and a Nulhegan Abenaki citizen. “The Storytelling Stone” is well loved among his many stories and writings, and tells about Grandfather Stone and the formation of the first storyteller, young Crow. 

You can find the full text of the story here, excerpted from Bruchac’s book, Return of the Sun: Native American Tales from the Northeast Woodlands, Crossing Press, 1989. 

For Discussion:

  • Why do you think the people liked the stories so much? What do you like about stories?
  • How did stories change Gah-ka’s life? How did Gah-ka change the stories?
  • What kinds of stories are your favorite to tell? Which are your favorite to hear?

The Moth 

The Moth is a public radio program featuring truly wonderful storytelling, mostly from non-professional storytellers. As a family, you might particularly enjoy “All at Sea” by Tim FitzHigham, or “Great Balls of Sugar” by Lizzie Peabody. 

Activities are curated from Soulful Home packets which are prepared by

Teresa Honey Youngblood

Welcome to the month of Becoming!

When I first realized last week that the theme for April was Becoming, my mind went wild with all the ways that we could make that connection with this particular time we are in. Not only is it April, the month in which we here in the mountains begin to fully emerge from the grip of winter, it’s also this very strange liminal time that we are in where people are being vaccinated and we are all preparing to emerge from this time of pandemic. That doesn’t mean that things are changing rapidly, or that we can immediately go back to our old way of life before the Covid, but that we are all goo right now. Like a butterfly, we have been in the process of dissolving the way that things used to be and looking toward a new way of being. In particular, staff here at UUCA has been working to plan for what our emergence from the pandemic will look like. There is one thing I can tell you, and it’s that things will be different. We are all different now than we were last spring. I invite you to spend this month thinking about how you are becoming and what you might look like after things are back to “normal.” Let us also acknowledge the work we are doing as a congregation to become anti-racist. It’s hard, uncomfortable, necessary work – and will hopefully lead us to become a more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community.

-Kim Collins, LREC

Here are some ways to explore the theme from this month’s Soulful Home materials.

At the Table Discussion Questions

  1. Whose example helped you know who you want to become, or maybe what kind of person you wanted to be?
  2. When do we stop becoming?
  3. If you stopped growing right at this minute, what would you be happiest to keep exactly as it is? What would you regret not being able to become?
  4. Some people believe that when they die, they become another living thing (reincarnation). What would you most want to become?
  5. Sometimes, change and becoming happen suddenly and in an instant. Is there a big “before” and “after” moment in your life, when you felt like you became someone new? Or were suddenly placed on a new path? (Examples might be getting glasses, moving to a new neighborhood, experiencing a grandparent’s death, or getting a puppy.)
  6. Who has helped you become the best version of yourself?
  7. Sometimes becoming requires us to let go of things. What is one thing you’ve had to let go of to become something new? (For example, in order to become a speaker of a second or third language, we have to let go of fear of sounding silly as we learn. In order to become a trumpet player, we have to let go of a few afternoons of free time each week to practice.)
  8. Last year, we all became families who had gone through Covid together, a unique circumstance in all of human history. How has that experience changed you?

Around the Neighborhood – Treasure Hunt for Becoming

This month, we are acknowledging the part we all play in the becoming of the world around us. We are powerful agents of change! Let’s look together for examples of how we, as a community, are noticing transformation and the becoming happening all around us..

  1. An empty lot or abandoned building becoming something new
  2. A community center, an RV or large truck, a parking lot, or other space that has become a Covid vaccination space
  3. A piece of land becoming a garden
  4. A favorite view changing, because of a tree growing tall or a new building going up, etc.
  5. A piece of nature transforming into something new, like a tree growing leaves or a sprout pushing through the ground.
  6. A puppy or kitten becoming a dog or cat (pets have a tween phase, too!)
  7. A small weather event becoming a big one (depending on where you live, this might be a thunderstorm, snowstorm, drought, and so one)
  8. Someone growing a mustache or a beard
  9. Someone who is pregnant
  10. Someone learning to ride a bike, either by seeing them learn with the help of their parents or by noticing them riding with training wheels

Extra Credit  – A Butterfly’s Becoming, Under Our Care

Butterflies might be the most enduring symbols of transformation and becoming, partly because of how dramatic their change is. For this month’s Extra Mile, we’re going to take on the tried-and-true scientific–and spiritual!–task of raising butterflies.

You may have done this project in the past, or it may have been on your wish list for some time now. Consider this your invitation to try it, or try it again, this month!

This site has a good beginner’s section for butterfly-raisers: http://www.raisingbutterflies.org/getting_started/

There could be no start-up cost at all, if you find butterfly eggs in the wild and use repurposed materials. Or the cost could be $20-30 for a basic kit. 

As you enjoy this process, let different facets of “becoming” emerge. Here are some questions that you might consider over the weeks of your attention:

  1. Are the caterpillar and the butterfly the same “person”? One becomes the other, and yet, they have two different sets of DNA. So, what makes us uniquely us?
  2. Butterflies are becoming threatened by human-induced climate change. What are our hopes for the future of these insects? 
  3. Why do we think of butterflies as beautiful, but caterpillars…meh. What makes something becoming–as in, beautiful and attractive–to us?

Welcome to the month of Commitment

What are your commitments? Last month, we explored Beloved Community together. Beloved Community and commitment are intertwined in many ways. This month, we’ll explore how we use commitments to ourselves, our values, and others to uphold the Beloved Community. Check out the activities below for inspiration for yourself and your family.

Treasure Hunt for Commitment

The UUA joins other groups in observing Climate Justice Month, March 22 (World Water Day) to April 22 (Earth Day), a commitment to approaching climate justice as a matter of faith. UUs acknowledge that the issue of climate justice is best addressed when it acknowledges North America’s legacy of colonization, and looks to the leadership of indigenous peoples who have been protecting the earth and its waters for many, many generations. 

This month’s treasure hunt can be done in a combination of spaces–online, and in-person outside. 

See if you can find or find out:

  1. The names of the native peoples of the land you live on. Do you know anything about those peoples, historically and currently?
  2. A historical marker or heritage site in your area that acknowledges the land’s indigenous population. (The Historical Marker Database might be a place to start, or you could contact your local historical society for pointers.)
  3. Five native plants
  4. Five introduced plants
  5. Your watershed; have you been to the body of water that your land’s runoff drains into?
  6. The landfill closest to you (Not the most exciting field trip, we know, but an important visual to have in mind when we throw things “away.”)
  7. Who is leading environmental protection efforts in your area? Which one seems like the best fit for your family to be involved with?

Commit to the Uncomfortable Conversations Around Race

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has an excellent resource page on the work of talking about race, for both white folx and people of color. Unitarian Universalism calls us to commit to dismantling white supremacy culture, and honoring this commitment takes sustained effort over time.

Invitation: Even if you think you’ve done the deep work and internalized the needed paradigm shifts, check out this website as a family. There is one section in particular, “A Questioning Frame of Mind,” that offers sample scripts for how to interrupt racism in interpersonal conversations, using curiosity and connection. Practice these conversations within the family, and talk about why experiencing the discomfort of confronting racism is worth it.

Committing to Consistency: Lynn Ungar’s “Sustaining the Tree of Life”

In the story, a village is blessed to live around a big, ancient, generous, and mysterious tree. But rather than simply take what the tree offers, the villagers make a commitment to it, and to each other. Every day, one of the villagers takes the role of keeper of the tree. And that’s how the real magic happens:

https://www.uua.org/worship/words/story/sustaining-tree-life

For Discussion:

  • What do you think it would be like to take your turn as keeper of the tree? What have you “kept” and protected this way in your own life?
  • How do you think the merchant’s mind changed after talking with the keeper of the tree? Tell about a time someone else helped you to consider how your words or actions were impacting others.

Bonus: Watch this newer, acoustic version, video that Peter Mayer recorded of his beloved song  “Blue Boat Home” as a reminder that one of our fundamental commitments, as Unitarian Universalists, is to the earth we share.

What is Beloved Community?

Welcome to a month of Beloved Community!

What do you know about the Beloved Community? What do your children know? Come explore with us this month!

At the Table

Use these questions to help lead a discussion with your family!

  1. What keeps you together as a family, when you’re not very happy with one another?
  2. We belong to and depend on many different communities, all of which offer us friendship, love and security. How many different communities do your family members belong to? Have some fun adding them all up!
  3. What do you have in common with your dentist? Your mail carrier? Your school or city bus driver? Your bank teller?
  4. What’s one way you make life easier for someone in your family?
  5. Who in the family seems to like disagreement, and who doesn’t?
  6. What is the secret to getting along?
  7. What’s the difference between an opponent, and an enemy? How do those two words feel different?
  8. Have you ever made friends with someone whom you previously thought of as an enemy? What changed that allowed that to happen
  9. What is something in your life that feels unfair? How do you handle that?
  10. How does conflict feel in your body? 
  11. Have you ever “turned the other cheek,” or “been the bigger person” in a fight or disagreement? How did that feel?
  12. What’s the best advice anyone has given you about getting along with others?

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 together how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others. 

Beloved Community is…

The Fair Housing Justice Center made a video with many voices sharing what the Beloved Community is, using their own words. Watch this video together as a family. Afterward, talk about which words most resonated with each of you. We’ve pulled a few powerful quotes below that you might use to prompt conversation.

“The Beloved Community is…

…people who make me comfortable, people who make me uncomfortable, people I don’t know, and people I’m very, very familiar with…and we are united by this divine call.”

…the opportunity to be truly free in a society that respects, hears, and understands its citizenry.”

…dignity and protection for all.”

…everyone has a stake in each other’s well being.”

…all of us together in the spirit of justice, in the spirit of love, in the spirit of humanity, in the spirit of oneness working to uplift communities that have been oppressed…”

Invitation: Spend time considering the many perspectives offered. What challenges you? What inspires you? The Fair Housing Justice Center is one organization founded on the principles of the Beloved Community. There are more! To learn more about endeavors inspired by the concept of the Beloved Community, join The King Center’s email list (bottom of the page) so you can plug into this organization’s ongoing educational and outreach work, or support it with a donation.

Extra Credit

Check out these readings and discussion questions about the Poor People’s Campaigns of the past and present: https://www.morningsidecenter.org/teachable-moment/lessons/poor-peoples-campaign-then-now

What can you imagine?

We are a people of imagination!

This January we are exploring the theme of imagination in our religious education groups. We’ll be doing things like imagining a world without COVID19 and imagining what it would have been like in the room where it happened in the Civil Rights movement. What can you imagine with your family this month? Check out these options from Soulful Home and find out!

Exploring Imagination at the Table

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. 

Discussion Questions

  1. When you imagine life 100 years from now, what do you see?
  2. How do you think you are different from what your ancestors imagined you might be?
  3. When you imagine your best  day ever, where do you feel that joy in your body?
  4. Who is better at imagining, kids, parents or grandparents?
  5. What’s one thing you can imagine will be different in life after Covid?
  6. Who is your most imaginative friend?
  7. Do you have to be either imaginative or realistic? How do those two qualities work together in a person?
  8. Do you imagine in words, pictures, sounds, or some combination of all your senses?
  9. Where do you imagine the best? Outdoors? Alone in your room? On walks? In your bed reading? Nighttime?
  10. When is it sensible to limit one’s imagination?
  11. What do you imagine it’s like when we die?
  12. Has something unbelievable ever happened to you, such that afterward you couldn’t tell if it was real or if you imagined it?
  13. Whose imagination would you love to live in for a day?

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 together how we are all evolving beings, opening ourselves to new truths and understandings as we live our lives and connect with others.    

A Treasure Hunt for Imagination

This month’s searchables are based on idioms of improbability derived from many languages. They are all expressions that indicate something will never happen, or is hard to imagine, even impossible! (When will people stop chit-chatting about the weather? When pigs fly!

Where will you find these improbable things? We don’t know! But using some creative thinking (imagination’s best friend!) and generous interpretations of your everyday reality, you might have some pretty interesting encounters this month in your neighborhood with…

  • A flying pig (Latin)
  • Glowing salt (Arabic)
  • A crow flying upside down (Malayalam)
  • A snowflake in fire (English)
  • A horse with horns (Afrikaans)
  • A chicken with teeth (French)
  • Wind in a net (Japanese)
  • A blue moon (English)
  • A singing fish (Ukrainian)

Note: Although the expressions above are labeled as coming from different languages, in fact the same idiom might exist in multiple languages, with their origins being unclear. If the idea of language evolution is intriguing to you, watch this TED-Ed video on the origins of English! Sometimes, ideas we imagine to be completely different may actually be close cousins..

A Truthful Thanksgiving

Consider taking some time with your family this year to discuss the roots of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Here are some resources to get you started!

Learn about it and talk about it: Read and share with your family this reflection on the first Thanksgiving from a member of the Wampanoag tribe https://www.uua.org/blueboat/guides/unequal-helpings-%E2%80%93-thanksgiving-history. Watch these videos that explain what it was like then (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ociHVDWxDaY), and how we got to where we are now (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lslqtUMwDxA). Before watching the videos, ask questions like “What have you heard about Thanksgiving?” and “what are some things you’ve learned in school about Thanksgiving?” After watching the videos, follow up with more questions “What did you think of this video? Did you learn anything new? Is this different from what you’ve previously learned about Thanksgiving?”

Honor the indigenous people who originally lived here: If your family lights a chalice as part of your Thanksgiving celebration, consider using this chalice lighting.

Territorial Acknowledgment

By Sean Neil-Barron

We gather together as a community of seekers,

to honour the interdependence of life,

to respect the dignity of all,

and to honour the land we walk humbly upon.

Friends, Let us acknowledge that we walk upon the traditional territories of the Cherokee (or insert name of indigenous peoples whose land you are on), the original nations of this land, who continue to cry out for justice and self determination.

We are blessed with a space and opportunity to strive to live out our common principles:

To bring justice, equity and compassion into our daily lives,

To resist all that threatens the earth and her people,

And to live out our dream of a world community of peace, liberty and justice for all.

Let these thoughts carry us forth as we journey and worship together.

Blessed Be.

You can also incorporate this meditation ritual.

Centering: 

I invite you to move into our meditation position.

Sit comfortably in your chair or on the floor. 

Put your hands on your lap or on your knees.

Sit up nice and tall.

Focus your eyes in front of you.

Find your breath moving in your body by taking in one breath through your nose and then slowly breathing it out through your mouth.

Mindful Moment Script:

Think of a time when you felt wounded, sad and ignored. Indigenous Peoples have had their history twisted and erased. In this song, the children want to be listened to. “I have a big heart filled with hopes and dreams/ But I feel low, for what I’m going to see./ Our people have been through the darkest times/ It seems hard to find the light so we can start to shine…”
Think of times when you wished to be listened to.

N’we Jinan Artists – “COME & LISTEN” // Penticton Indian Band, B.C. 

The work of decolonizing Thanksgiving ties in with all of the other work that we are doing here at UUCA. Learn more about advancing racial justice with your kids from this great article that we used in our Anti Racist parent group recently: http://www.raceconscious.org/2016/06/100-race-conscious-things-to-say-to-your-child-to-advance-racial-justice/

Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators (an OWL adjacent Small Group Experience)

One of the losses we are feeling this year is not being able to offer OWL for children and youth at UUCA. The OWL program administrators at both the UUA and UCC have asked that we not try to adapt the program for an online setting for a variety of reasons. We still want to be able to support parents and caregivers in their roles as the primary sexuality educators in their families, so we are offering this new program from the UUA. While this is not OWL, it is based on the same principles and values. Some of you may remember that we field tested this program for the UUA several years ago. We are delighted that it has been fully released and we are able to offer it this year.

This program invites adults to ask themselves: How can I embody my role as my child’s primary sexuality educator in a way that expresses my UU values and faith?

Of course, children pick up information and attitudes from sources beyond the home: peers, popular culture, social media, other adults. Many Unitarian Universalist children will participate in Our Whole Lives (OWL), the lifespan, holistic, values-based sexuality education program provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, and they may also receive sexuality education in school. However, OWL encourages, and this program aims to nurture, parents and caregivers in their role as their children’s primary sexuality educators. Trusted adults carry extraordinary power to influence their children’s attitudes and values around sexuality. Many adults struggle to wield that power with intentionality, grace, and confidence. These sessions invite parents and caregivers to find support, insight, and courage with one another.

While the small group ministry format provides a spiritually grounded space, the program’s approach to sexuality is secular and grounded in science, in tune with the OWL lifespan sexuality education programs on which it is based.

This program will be ten sessions and we will meet bi weekly via Zoom on Tuesday evenings 8:00-9:30 pm, beginning on November 17th.

Sessions and Dates

  1. Hopes and Concerns for Kids’ Sexual Health 11/17
  2. Communication: How Do We Talk about Sex? 12/1
  3. Gender Identity: Exploring Emotions around Gender 12/15
  4. Sexual Orientation: Supporting Self-Discovery 1/12
  5. Relationships: Guiding with Wisdom 1/26
  6. Sexual Health: Be a Trusted Source 2/9
  7. Decision Making: Ready, Set, Let Go! 2/23
  8. Consent: Building Healthy Boundaries 3/9
  9. Social Media: Integrity in a Changing World 3/23
  10. Pornography: It’s Not Sex Ed 4/6

To register, use this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfj2foJd8Tk6kbDfzf8NjxxHIA9-Um5igOGSq0fVdTrm1Wnog/viewform?usp=sf_link

Please register ASAP as we are limiting this opportunity to 12 families. UUCA members will be given priority. For questions or more information, please email Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org.

Wondering what to do about Halloween?

Plan to join us at UUCA on Saturday, October 31st from 4-6 pm for food and fun!

While Halloween will certainly be different this year, we can still dress up and have a good time in a safe way. All are welcome to come enjoy a meal and fellowship on our front porch. Our friends Maria and Esteban will be here with their food truck to serve up some delicious tacos and other items and we’ll have a costume parade! Everyone is encouraged to dress up, make sure you don’t forget your face masks for everyone’s safety. The costume parade will take place at 4:30 pm so be sure to be there by then if you want to participate. We’ll also have some sweet treats on hand.

This is an outside only event and folks are asked to be mindful of social distancing. If it rains, the food truck will still be there and we encourage you to come grab some delicious food to take home to eat. The costume parade will not take place if it is raining. Please remember to bring cash for the food truck, they are not set up to accept credit cards. This event is being sponsored by the RE Council and we thank them for working on safe ways for us to be together!

UUCA-Halloween-flyer-2

There’s a lot going on in Family Ministry!

Religious Education at UUCA has kicked off! We’d love for you to join us!

We are so excited to start this new year, though it looks different than we had imagined when we began planning last year. We have worked hard over the last few months to make a plan that we hope will help nurture the spirituality of our children, youth, and parents. We have simplified things significantly in response to the many complications and challenges that we are all facing. We are looking forward to continuing to foster connections while making time for fun and silliness!

Do I need to register?  YES!  This is how we know you still want to stay connected to UUCA this year and beyond.  We use our registration list to communicate about both current and future offerings, including OWL and Coming of Age (once we can offer those programs again), youth group, parent groups, and home deliveries (a special feature we have planned this year). To register, use this link: Registration

What if my kids don’t plan to participate Sunday mornings very often?  Even though this year will look different, we encourage your family to stay involved for some needed spiritual grounding and social connection.  We would love to see you whenever you can make it.

Will this be like the typical (curricula based) RE classes that we normally have?  
There will be spiritual elements to our virtual gatherings to help foster UU faith development and personal growth.  There will also be an intentional focus on FUN, social and supportive connections, compassion, inspiration and justice – our UUCA core values.

Religious education for children and youth has been divided into 4 groups: PreK-3rd grade, 4th-6th grade, 7th-9th grade, and 10th-12th grade.  Groups will typically meet 2 Sundays/month via Zoom: PreK-3rd & 10th-12th will meet on the first and third Sundays of the month and 4th-6th & 7th-9th will meet on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. Zoom links will be emailed weekly.

In addition to classic (virtual) RE, we will have other opportunities as well, possibly even some occasional small, safer in person gatherings for youth or adults.  We will host Family Fun Nights via Zoom for fellowship and fun.  Look for a special delivery of a “Church in a box”  We also encourage families to “attend” multigenerational services together. 

We also plan to offer more Faith Development for parents and caregivers. First up is an Anti Racist Parenting Zoom with Rev. Claudia. This is a follow up to the book group that met online over the summer. How are things going for you? What do you want to bring forward? We might have something to watch, listen or read…or we might not and just have a chance to check in together. This will take place on October 12 at 8 pm. RSVP to Jen at lreasst@uuasheville.org.

Kim is planning to offer the Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators small group experience beginning in early November. Since we cannot offer Our Whole Lives for children and youth this year, we are offering this program to help equip parents and caregivers to have important conversations with their kids. You can find out more here: https://www.uua.org/families/sexuality-educators To find out more or sign up, email Kim at lrec@uuasheville.org.

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