Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Different Kind of Love Triangle

My husband was mad at our daughter for the dent in her car. (He said it was about responsibility.)
I was mad at my husband because he was mad at our daughter. (I said it had nothing to do with responsibility.)
He was mad at me because I was mad at him. (He said I didn’t understand.)
I said he was being unreasonable.
He said I was being mama bear.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Pastor's Wife

Grateful to Living Lutheran for the opportunity to post this short reflection on being a pastor's wife:

In seminary, circa 2006, they offered a workshop for spouses of ordination-bound students on the topic of being a pastor’s spouse. I myself was the wife of presumed future pastor but did not attend the seminar because what was there to learn? I felt liberated from the traditional label “the pastor’s wife.” Plus I was a working mother and wouldn’t have time to be pushed into a corner of expectations. I barely had time to brush my teeth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Waitressing at 25 – Employment Dos and Don’ts

When I was 25 years old, I had a BA in Political Science and Criminal Justice, an MA in Secondary Education, and a student loan debt that could finance a midsize luxury car. My ambition was to teach high school social studies.
Instead I was waitressing.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ye Olde Horse House - The Teenagers

In the spirit of writing what you know, writing what bugs you, and writing for the pure sake of writing, I am starting a new series on our house -- Ye Olde Horse House, aka YOHH. Ye, for the ring. Olde as a way to emphasize old. Horse to bring up its history as an old horse ranch house. And house as in home, home wrecker, money pit, glad-we're-not-homeless, the place we live, shelter, needs-lots-of-work, and such.


Today we start with The Teenager chapter. Ye Olde Horse House currently has two teenager hotspots:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Cooking Wounded

Grateful for the opportunity to write about my incredible cooking team, including our strong man, Bill Ross, in Living Lutheran: 
If you saw Bill Ross today, you’d never know his body had been crushed in a truck accident. He had a broken hip, broken wrist, three broken ribs, and two legs broken in five places. Plus a collapsed lung and concussion. Serious blows to bone and flesh.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wrapped in love, sent for service

Grateful for the opportunity to post in Living Lutheran, with thanks to my editor, Jan Rizzo. This post includes some thoughts about my daughter's process for choosing a college. . .

My daughter, Amanda, is a high school senior and has three criteria for her college search, in order of priority: 1) cheerleading, 2) sororities with mansions, and 3) an academic program that matches her interest du jour, which has ranged from physical therapy to actuarial science to special education to international relations. Yet when she honed in on her final choice of universities, one of the reasons she cited was

Thursday, February 20, 2014

St. John's Child Safety Policy

For those interested in seeing the full documentation of St. John's Child Safety policies:

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Page 1 of 6

St. John’s Lutheran Church Policy & Procedure Manual

Approval Date: 04/17/2007 Approved By: Congregational Council
Position Responsible for Implementing: Parish Steward

Procedures shall be established to provide a safe environment for the
physical, mental and emotional well being of the infants, children, and
youth who participate in church sponsored activities at St. John’s Lutheran

13.1 Mission Statement

13.1.1 The people of St. John’s Lutheran Church believe it is in the best
interests of the church, its staff and volunteers, and the infants,
children and youth of the church, to adopt policies, procedures
and screening tools to assist in providing a safe environment for
the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the infants,
children and youth who participate in church sponsored activities
at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

13.1.2 These same policies, procedures and screening tools assist in
providing staff and volunteers from being unfairly accused of any
form of child abuse.

13.1.3 It is with this mission in mind that the following policies,
procedures and screening tools will be used, beginning with new
volunteers, new programs, and the start of existing programs on
April 1, 2007.

13.2 Administration, Background Checks, and Definitions

13.2.1 Administration of Policies and Procedures will be directed by the
Parish Steward in cooperation with the Director of Music
Ministries, Children’s Ministries Coordinator, Confirmation
Coordinator, Nursery Coordinator, Director of Health Ministry,
Associate Pastors, and the Senior Pastor. Calling of references
will be shared between program staff working with infants, children
and youth, using a standard reference form (see Appendix E).

13.2.2 All employees (including pastors) hired/called after October 1,
1997 will be required to submit to A Background Check including a
Criminal Records check as part of the employment process.
(Refer to the Personnel Policy).

13.2.3 Copies of all volunteer and staff Screening Forms, with reference
responses, will be kept by the Parish Steward

13.2.4 State Law reporting obligations and procedures file will be kept for
reference by the Parish Steward.

13.2.5 Definitions

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Page 2 of 6 Staff/Employees—Persons in the employ of St. John’s
Lutheran Church. Employees may or may not be
members of the church Volunteers—Confirmed persons who offer their gifts
and time to St. John’s Lutheran and who receive no
remuneration for serving. Volunteers, by definition for
this policy, are active members of St. John’s, or the
spouse of an active member of St. John’s. Infant—Newborn through age 3.
Child—Age 4 through Grade 5.
Youth—Entering 6th Grade through the Summer
after 12th Grade.

13.3 The following procedures shall be in effect at St. John’s Lutheran Church:

13.3.1 Prior-Record Rule Any person who has been convicted of child abuse
cannot serve in any church-sponsored activity or
program for infants, children or youth.

13.3.2 Six-Months Rule All volunteers working with infants, children or youth
must have participated in St. John’s Lutheran Church
activities for six months or more or have suitable
references from other churches in which they have

13.3.3 Two-Adult Rule Two or more volunteers or staff should be present
during any church activity that involves children and
youth to avoid having one volunteer alone with one
child or youth. One volunteer must be 18 years of age
or older. Exceptions may need to be made, as, for example,
with the confirmation mentor program, with counseling,
or with providing transportation. Such exceptions should be handled by:
a) Obtaining parental permission,
b) Using an “open door” policy (the door to the
room where the infant, child or youth are
meeting is left open unless the door has a
window), and
c) Notifying appropriate church staff in advance
of such meeting.

13.3.4 Parental Permission Volunteers who have legitimate reasons to meet alone
with an infant, child or youth should obtain the consent
of the infant, child or youth’s parent or legal guardian
before spending time with the infant, child or youth in
an unsupervised situation. This procedure could be used, for example, with the
confirmation mentor program or providing
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Page 3 of 6 If getting parental permission is a problem, for
example, if a youth is having problems in a parental
relationship and desires a visit with a volunteer in the
church about those problems, the volunteer doing the
counseling could ask the youth for permission to
involve a second adult or youth. If the youth needs last minute transportation, such as a
ride home after a church youth group event, the parent
should be telephoned to ask permission to provide the
ride. If the parent is not available the two-adult rule should
be followed and another adult should go along, or the
appropriate church staff should be notified of the plan

13.3.5 Adequate Personnel Programs and activities that involve infant, children
and/or youth should always include adequate
supervisory personnel. Generally, there shall be one
adult chaperone for every seven youth. The
appropriate staff person shall determine the number of
adult chaperones to be present. Supervision should also be maintained before and after
the event until all infant, children and/or youth are in
the custody of their parent or legal guardian. For
example, the staff person in charge and one additional
adult chaperones should remain at the church following
an activity until all infant, children, and/or youth have
left the premises. A specific area of the church building will be
designated for each event. Each infant, child, and/or youth event will have a
starting and ending time established and published.
Infant, children, and/or youth should not arrive earlier
than 30 minutes prior to the event starting time nor stay
later than 30 minutes after the published ending time.

13.3.6 Overnight Rule Two or more adults must always be involved in any
church-sponsored overnight activity that involves
infant, children or youth. All adult chaperones and supervisors should be
cleared in advance by the appropriate church

13.3.7 Transportation All transportation for offsite events originating from the
church will be furnished. Only authorized adults may
serve as drivers for infant, children and/or youth
events, and only authorized vehicles will be used.

13.3.8 Release and consent forms For out of town events and/or overnight events parents
will be required to sign release and consent forms.
Children and/or youth may be asked to sign behavior

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guideline forms applicable to the specific event. Failure
to comply will result in exclusion from the event. Volunteers under the age of 18 are required to have a
parent or legal guardian sign off on all forms.

13.3.9 Church Nursery A separate policy covers nursery procedures.

13.3.10 Prohibited Behaviors Physical striking, hitting, spanking of an infant, child or
youth. Touching, fondling, kissing an infant, child or youth in
an inappropriate or sexual manner Verbally or emotionally abusive or sexually suggestive
language. Placing yourself in a situation where you are alone with
an infant, child or youth. Consumption of alcohol leading to impairment before
an event. Consumption of alcohol during an event.
Consumption of illegal drugs before or during any

13.3.11 Reporting Suspicious Behavior Any inappropriate conduct or relationship between an
adult and an infant, child, or youth should be reported
and investigated immediately using the procedure
outlined in the Safety Response Plan.

13.3.12 Training in Infant, Child and Youth Safety Volunteers who work with infant, children and/or youth
and all staff will be informed of the policies and
procedures under which the church operates through
printed materials and training sessions. Volunteers who work with infant, children and youth
and all staff will complete a Screening Form (See
Appendix F).

13.4 Safety Response Plan

13.4.1 Public Statement Only the pastors or legal counsel shall speak to the
media concerning a specific case.

13.4.2 Reporting Obligations A verbal report of alleged abuse will be filed
immediately with the Iowa Department of Human
Services if the alleged abuser is the infant, child or
youth’s parent or caretaker. If the alleged abuser is
church staff or a volunteer, a report to the police will be
filed. The verbal report will be documented in writing
and shall be minute specific and dated. The police will also be contacted if the infant, child or
youth’s immediate safety is at risk. A written report by a witness will be made within 24
hours of an incident using the “Incident Report Form”

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(See Appendix G). Unfounded reports will be
destroyed after the investigation process is completed. All written and verbal reports should be made by the
adult closest to the situation (e.g. an eye witness, the
first adult told by the infant, child, or youth or the infant,
child or youth’s parent(s).

13.4.3 Reporting Procedure Any alleged abuse committed by church staff or at a
church-sponsored event should be reported to a
pastor. If a pastor is not immediately available, the reporter
should immediately complete a report form. The forms
will be available in the church office. A pastor should
be contacted as soon as possible. A pastor should begin documenting in writing all efforts
in handling the situation from the time it was first
reported. This should continue throughout the process. A pastor should notify the infant, child or youth’s
parent(s) or legal guardian(s), church attorney,
insurance agency, and synodical officials. Actions
taken will be documented and a log kept in order to
show due diligence over and against potential litigation A pastor should notify the Department of Human
Services when appropriate The alleged abuser should not be confronted until the
safety of the infant, child and/or youth has been
secured. Care should be taken to avoid prejudging the situation,
but all allegations will be taken seriously. Pastoral care
should be extended to the victim and family. The
alleged abuser shall be afforded full due process in the
handling of any complaint. Pastoral care should be available to the alleged abuser
and family. The alleged abuser should be kept
appraised of all developments. The alleged abuser
should be supported and treated with dignity. He/she
should be relieved of his/her responsibilities until the
investigation is complete. If the person is a paid staff
person, a determination should be made and
documented by the Executive Committee to either
maintain or suspend his or her salary until the
allegations are cleared or substantiated. The text of the prepared public statement should be
used to respond to the press and the congregation
using care to protect the privacy and confidentiality of
all involved. The following prepared statement will be
used initially: We are aware of the alleged incident of
abuse involving a child of St. John’s Lutheran Church.
The appropriate authorities have been contacted and
are investigating the allegation. The church has a
protection policy in place to screen all people working
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with infants, children and youth in our programming.
This policy was implemented in 1998. For the
protection of all involved, I cannot disclose any further
information at this time. We are working with legal
counsel preparing a more complete statement, which
we will release as soon as it is finished.

Thank you.