Friday, 30 December 2016


After three and a half years as primary president (and another year and a half before that as a counselor) I've been released from service in the primary at church. It's hard to wrap my head around it.  I've spent five years watching about 100 kids learn and discover the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've challenged them, expected more, guided them, and watched them bloom. I've encouraged their questions and pointed them toward answers. We sang and read and talked.

I would say that the time was defined for me by Colin's class.  I started when Colin had just turned seven. In a bit of an unusual move, I suggested we move Colin's class of 6 boys and 2 girls into the older division (senior primary) a year early. They were a class of first borns, children a little wiser than their years. Plus the junior group was huge and the move would make the two groups more balanced and easier to manage.  The younger group has more songs and games and stories, and the spiritual concepts are presented in a simpler way. The older group we challenge more, have deeper conversations and encourage them to find their own spiritual way.

Over the next 4 years, I watched as Colin's class blossomed in unimaginable ways. Their questions and insights were remarkable for ones their age. And, as the oldest children in their family, we began to see their leadership emerge, to see the positive influence they were having over their younger siblings.

All of this culminated in their primary presentation this past November. Once a year the children have a chance to present what they have learned over the year to the congregation in the main service.  Traditionally, the leaders have written little lines for each child to recite.  A few children will read a short talk they had prepared during the year. And they will all sing the songs they have learned.  But three years ago I wanted to change this.  Colin's class, and the rest of the older group, were capable of so much more. So I released the writing to them. For those who didn't want to write a talk, I had them read a scripture passage. But everything that was read came from them. People told me it wouldn't work, but it did, and it was amazing.  This past November I stepped it up once again. This time, I told the 8-11 year olds that they would run the entire presentation.  I provided lists of the order of talks and songs, and they were in charge of doing everything in the right order.  As leaders, instead of sitting up on the stand with the kids, we all sat in the congregation. And they did it. There was one glitch, but they even worked that out.

The past ten years have changed the way religion and spirituality fits in our lives. Religion used to be about providing answers to life's mysteries, but there are fewer and fewer mysteries out there now. In the age of information, a faith in God is really about accessing a spiritual element in our being. I wanted the kids in my primary to learn about God's word, to develop a prayer life, and to start to understand their purpose here.

This year, Colin's class will turn 12, and move into the youth program.  To have seen this group through this stage of their childhood has been a privilege.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016


(The last few months have been empty - life is busy and my writing time is devoted to school work. Nevertheless the blog isn't abandoned, just infrequent.)

A new year is arriving, and although I'm in the throes of schooling, and in spite of previous posts about September always being the new year to me, my mind seems to be rolling about new year ideas. And so they will make their way here.

"Create" is my word for 2017.  A friend told me that her goal as a school librarian and keeper of the school technology was to encourage students to create instead of consume.  Her words have stuck with me.  Our entire family has fallen into a tech zombie-like state.  The constant demand on my brain of schooling has led me to want to completely veg out with my free time (ha - what free time?!) I've watched more mindless Netflix and played more video games (what?) than ever before. Similarly, I've been very lenient with allowable screen time for the kids.  100+ hours of school every week has completely changed how life is running in our house. I'm giving myself a bit of a pass for the 16 months or so I'll spend in school.  But I still have some very pressing things on my mind.

Create, not consume. When was the last time my kids created something in their spare time? Voluntarily decided to use the talents they have to explore their own ideas? When was the last time I did the same?  Do the kids even have the idea to do this? Do they see it being modeled around them?

Over the last couple of days I've offered to get out the actual real paint for the kids. Juliette and I co-created three different lovely paintings that hang in the wall on the play room now, and Caleb did one on his own.  I've once again picked up my instruments (violin, flute, guitar and piano for right now) to create my own music. I'm writing again. I have an idea that the kids and I can write our own little book.  It's so cheap to publish little photo books now that we could actually write and publish our own book, staring the kids, or featuring illustrations they have done. Juliette and I did some beading and make jewelry.  That's about the end of my ideas right now, but I'm on the lookout for more.

The truth is, the kids will love and do the things they see around them all the time. When they see the love and passion that creating brings me, they will want to create also.