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Hey Everyone--

Personal View and Useful News
Both Alive and Well and Rite 13 crank back into gear tomorrow.  Personally, I can't wait--and I always get a little jumpy when we start back up.  I want to see everyone, and help new kids feel welcome.  I want to hear laughter, and sense some community and connection.  I want to help kids whoa re freshman jump into connections with seniors, and help those seniors share the wisdom they have.  I want 6th graders to feel like they are "growing up" and I want 8th graders to feel that they don't have to grow up quite so fast.  It's a lot to want!  Kathie and I both really like being with kids--and we also feel that there is something we can offer that makes life fuller for them.  They sure make that happen for us.    But what do we actually "do" on Thursday nights?  Well, great question.  Here are some answers.

Big Themes.  Really Big. 
For the last few years we've worked some themes--words, really--into each and every Thursday night.  It's not that we are trying to "teach" the themes.  We're not.  If the themes, words, ideas are honest and real then they teach themselves. We just want to connect the kids and the themes.  So this year we are focusing on "Faith, Hope and Love."  Underneath and around that is the theme of "keeping it real."  You might from time to time have the chance to connect to those themes yourself, in conversation with your kid.  For instance--tomorrow we'll be singing together (big step for us!).  We'll sing "All You Need is Love."  Is that true?  What do you think?  Do your kids know what you think?  Anyway, you get the idea: join with us in these big, real themes.

Who and When
Many of you have asked about friends.  Yep.  Bring 'em.  These Thursdays are for Kids, not just "Grace Kids."  Sure, we're a "church group" and so we will talk about faith and spirit and God.  But we don't expect uniformity of conformity.  And your Kid can come anytime.  We love having kids here every week, and we are thrilled whenever a Kid shows up.  Been away for 3 months?  Well, come on back.  Simple as that.  And please, if your family does take part, sign up to help with dinners.  Maybe even drop a few bucks our way when you can so we can cover costs.  Most of all, share the news.  Forward the emails to friends who have kids who might be interested. 

We Talk.  We Watch. We Listen.
Every week we talk.  Sometimes even at length.  We'd like depth in those conversations--and that does happen.  Although sometimes, with 30 kids jammed in that room, we lose focus.  Managing our interactions--keeping the community respectful and engaged with each other is really important.  We work at it.  We try to keep "Vegas" rules--what's talked about in the room stays in the room.  But it's pretty tough to guarantee.  Certain words are banned--but maybe not the ones you think!  We challenge kids to think about what they are saying, and how what they are saying reflects something about them.  We also watch bits and clips from movies, listen to music, watch YouTube clips--all with the hope of grabbing at our larger themes and deepening conversations.  Sometimes the clips and songs have content that might be PG 13.  When they do, we talk about it. 

Staying in Touch with a Social Network.
Yes, we use FaceBook for connection.  At least we do with the Kids in Alive and Well.  There is an Alive and Well Group they can join on FB.  Or they can simply "friend" Kathie and me and we will connect.  It's a useful way to stay in touch--and also to catch a glimpse of their lives as they flash by.  I welcome "friendships" from Kids in Rite 13 as well, but we don't use FB in a formal way with that group.  I know well that there are a variety of opinions about FB and kids.  Just so you know--I "like" FB.  It's another form of connection with people.  It is a means to an end for me.  I am often surprised by the "public postings" kids make--but I learn from them too.  If this is something you'd like to talk more about, ask us.  We often talk with kids about FB usage.

And More.
Sometime this year we will have a few more of our parent gatherings.  We'll let you know.  And many of you already know about the "confirmation" program we are launching.  If you don't, then check this out.

See you tomorrow.  Or soon.  Or sometime.