All Saints, Halloween, Día de los Muertos

Make It: DIY Saint Station

With All Saints Day coming up on Sunday, here is a quick craft that kids can do to learn more about holy people throughout history.

Pastor Ann will be talking more about what being a saint means on Sunday — who do you think of as saints? St. Francis? Julian of Norwich? Martin Luther King Jr.? Dolores HuertaMalala? All of these inspirational figures and their words of wisdom would be great for this project!

Do It: Watch Book of Life

A stunning animated story from Mexican producer Guillermo del Toro shows audiences the vivid, colorful world of the Dead. Check out the Common Sense Media review here.

Talk About It: All Saints Day, Día de los Muertos, Halloween

As three different holidays that happen around the same time with similar themes,  it’s easy to blend these stories. Culturally though, they come from three distinctly different places.

Halloween started as Samhain (pronounced SOW-in), a Gaelic festival occurring on October 31st to bring in the Gaelic New Year on November 1st.  People watched as trees lost their leaves and nature started to “die”, believing that this night was when the line between the living and the dead became most blurred. Most of the traditions that have been passed on (bobbing for apples, playing pranks, and dressing up in scary costumes to blend in with any ghosts roaming about) are passed on from the original festivities of Samhain and were brought to the US by Irish immigrants during the great potato famine.

All Saints Day was a 9th century attempt to make Samhain a Christian holiday by re-focusing the celebration on Saints and Martyrs. The new festival took place on the Celtic New Year (Nov 1) and was called “All-Hallows,” making Oct 31st Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween as we now call it.

Photo by Linda Booker

Día de los Muertos comes from indigenous cultures in Mexico and is probably the oldest celebration of the these, starting 2500 – 3000 years ago. Originally celebrated in August, this festival was also changed to November thanks to Spanish Christian invasion. Today, families continue Día de los Muertos traditions by spending time at the graves of the departed, offering the deceased’s favorite drinks and food as well as marigolds. The hope is that souls will come and hear the words of the living directed to them, including silly stories and other memories.  Some families have picnics in the cemeteries and leave out a pillow and blanket so the visiting soul can rest after its long journey.

To learn more about these holidays, check out this article from the Endowment for the Humanities.

Here are some questions to talk about with young people in your life:

  • Which is most interesting to you, Halloween, All Saints Day, or Día de los Muertos? Why is that?
  • Which pieces of these holidays do you celebrate already?
  • What are some you’d like to celebrate?
  • All of these are about our connections to people who have died — who are some people in your life who have died? How do we stay connected to them?

Whether you celebrate Halloween, Samhain, All Saints, Día de los Muertos, or all the above, I hope you have a great weekend!



Leaf Rubbings, Pumpkin Patches, Transitions

Make It: Leaf Rubbings

A classic, super simple craft that requires first going outside to collect leaves. It’s a craft and a fall walk, all in one. View full tutorial here.

Do It: Visit a Pumpkin Patch

stocker farms
Stocker Farms (above) provides red wagons to use for picture-taking!

Whether you’re intending to carve a Jack-O-Lantern or just want some nice photos of your little pumpkin surrounded by pumpkins, think about hitting up the patch before they’re super crowded or picked over by field trips.  Check out this full list of Pumpkin Patches in King County.

Talk About It: Transitions


As you’ve probably noticed, fall is upon us.

To mark this transition, my housemate had a whole host of friends each write two wishes on a strip of paper — one side was for something that we wanted to come into our lives this season, and the other side was for something we wanted to shed from our lives this season. She wove our wishes together (2nd grade place mat style), put them in a pan in our driveway, and ceremoniously burned them. We were all huddled around her in the coming cold of autumn, gathering warmth from each other’s wishes, while we quietly reflected on this time of leaving our sunny, smoky summer full of beach days and burned homes behind.

While this may be a bit dramatic for your kids (although, I do think it would be a very engaging activity), it’s important to make space for discussing the ways our lives change with the seasons. Advent is around the corner  — only 88 more days until Christmas! — and it is so easy to get lost in the future without enjoying this beautiful, colorful time.

Fall truly is about turning from bright, long days to layered months of waiting for the sun. Here are some questions to talk about with the children in your life:

  • Why do you think that the leaves turning different colors? What happens to them next?
  • The sun is going down earlier now — what do you like about that? What do you not like?
  • Fall is a time to grow from Summer and Winter. As you are growing right now, what do you think you are growing into? What do you  think you are growing out of?


Conferences, Events, and Goings-On Around Town

This fall is bringing with it a number of unique opportunities for learning, worship, and engagement with the broader Seattle community around a number of issues. Below are just a few of them.

“Wounded Eagle, Soaring Dove”: Celtic Christianity Lecture

September 29th, Seattle

Anglican priest and scholar Herbert O’Driscoll will reflect on the spiritual power of early Celtic Christians during times of crisis in his presentation, “Wounded Eagle, Soaring Dove: Celtic Christianity’s Inspiration for a Post-9/11 World” on September 29th at St. Andrew’s Church.

O’Driscoll’s talk will focus on the life of St. Patrick, ancient Celtic Christianity, and what the modern Celtic tradition has to say to people who live in a world in crisis.

Tickets are $15-$20. Find out more and register here.

Weaving Our Strengths Conference

October 3rd, Seattle

The Weaving Our Strengths Conference is a day-long conference of fellowship, inspiration, and skill-building to strengthen local churches’ efforts for the common good.

The day features worship, a resource fair, and workshops on a variety of topics, including human trafficking, Sabbath, privilege, mental health companionship, liturgy, and much more. There will also be a special kick-off concert with singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer on Friday the 2nd. (Tickets for Carrie Newcomer can be purchased independently of the conference; find out more at Brown Paper Tickets.)

Registration costs range from $25-$55, with discounts for students and groups. Scholarships are available. Register and find out more about the conference online here.

Seattle Race Conference

October 10th, Seattle

The Seattle Race Conference began to create a shared understanding and language about the nature of racism, refine definitions of its modern day forms, and identify the tools that can be used to end it.

This year’s conference is themed Perceptions Kill! The Impacts of Implicit Racial Bias. Join in for a day of speakers, trainings, entertainment, and networking opportunities.

The day’s keynote addresses will be provided by Dr. Leticia Nieto (St. Martin’s University) and Dr. Dr. Samuel Y. Song (Seattle University). Workshops will focus on topics like white fragility, interrupting implicit bias and racial micro-aggressions, racial bias in the school system and housing, and more.

This conference takes place on October 10th at Seattle University. Registration is $10-$35. Find out more and register online here.

Diana Butler-Bass Lecture Series

October 9th-11th, Seattle

Butler-Bass will be presenting a series of lectures from October 9th-11th based on her new book, Grounded: Finding God in the World – A Spiritual Revolution.

Grounded explores the notion that God and the sacred are in the world, not far from it. How can we experience God in the soil, the water, the sky, our homes and neighborhoods, and the global commons? Join in for 4 lectures on this topic. The schedule is as follows:

  • Friday, Oct. 9th, 7:00PM: Finding God in the World – A Spiritual Revolution
  • Saturday, Oct. 10th, 9:30AM-2:30PM: The Natural Habitat of Faith and Human Geography and the Spirit
  • Sunday, October 11th, 9:00AM: Getting Off the Elevator: A Grounded Church?

Lectures take place at University Congregational United Church of Christ. Find out more and register online here.

Dr. Shelley Rambo Lecture Series

November 2nd-3rd, Seattle

Dr. Shelley Rambo, constructive theologian and author of Spirit and Trauma, will be at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology for two free lectures on November 2nd and 3rd. The theme of both days will be a discussion on “Resurrection Wounds,” asking questions about how we understand the meaning of resurrection through a post-traumatic lens. How do our wounds bear witness to trauma as well as resurrection?

Rambo’s first lecture, Wounds Surfacing, is on November 2nd at 10:00AM. The second, Wounds Resurrecting, is a brown-bag lunch with a Q&A session on November 3rd at 11:30AM.

Tickets are free. Find out more and register here.

Rewiring: Faith & Technology Conference

November 7th, Bellevue

Rewiring: Faith & Technology Conference is presented by Christ and Cascadia and the Fuller Institute for Theology & Northwest Culture.

This conference features speakers and workshops about our relationship to technology. How should Christians evaluate the impact of technology on their families and culture? What is the church’s relationship to a high tech culture? What might God think about technology?

Come hear speakers like Seattleite Glenn McCray (leader at Urban Impact), Jesse Rice (author of The Church of Facebook), Melody Miles (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), and Christopher Lim (founder of TheoTech).

Rewiring is on November 7th in Bellevue. Registration is $30-$65. Find out more and register online at

DIY Anti-Anxiety Kits, the Sock Hop, and Draw About It!

Make It: DIY Anti-Axiety Sensory Kits

Create an Anti-Anxiety Kit for Your Child - includes free printable relaxation prompt cardsTransitions can be tough, especially when they involve a new teacher, new kids, and especially a new school. Get a headstart on managing school-related anxiety with this DIY Anti-Anxiety Kit for kids before school starts next week!

This also is super helpful for adults too — some people carry worry stones, a photo of a loved one, or have a breathing pattern that helps them calm down.

Here is another cool trick:

Experience it: Intergenerational Sock Hop!

Sock Hop image
Mark your calendars! Bring your dancing shoes and friends of all ages for a back-to-school multi-generational sock hop on Friday, September 11th from 6 – 7:30pm.

We will be collecting socks for Mary’s Place, so donate a pair or a pack if you can! Interested in volunteering to make this fun event happen? Contact Hannah Holtgeerts at Food will be provided!

And be sure to practice your dancing moves ahead of time with songs like this:

Talk Draw About It

During our Young Listeners program yesterday, Pastor Ann gave this story for me to read with our young people and then we read it to the congregation at the end of the service. Sylvia did this fantastic drawing and then I overlayed the text:

S Snail Tree_picmonkeyed

One of the reasons I love Young Listeners is that we reflect on scripture and other stories through drawing. This allows kids to internally process things, something that’s incredibly helpful for folks who are introverted.

Next time you are wondering what a child is feeling or thinking, consider asking them to draw a picture instead of talk about it. You might realize that you understand them differently!

– Hannah


Young Listeners

In an effort to engage our young people and facilitate intergenerational relationships, WUMC now offers a low-key reflection time after the Children’s Sermon on Sundays.  We read the day’s scripture together and then reflect through drawing while I interview another adult volunteer. Check out some of the amazing artwork that’s come from this time together:

B MountainsDrawing by Bella

Matthew 25: 34-36

Drawing by Kohen

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who
are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

K M Eat


I was hungry and you fed me,



K M Drink


I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,



K M Bed


I was homeless and you gave me a room,



K M Cold
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,



K M Sick


I was sick and you stopped to visit,



K M Jail


I was in prison and you came to me.’



 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? K M SheepWhen did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

S Snail Tree_picmonkeyedStory by Anthony De Mello; drawing by Sylvia

Here is what volunteers have said about volunteering their time with Young Listeners:

“I appreciated having questions to think over before the class about my elementary school days and where I find God today. That alone was an enriching exercise.”   – Julia K.

“We talked about the scripture in an open and honest way and the young people were willing to share questions and some issues of life for them.  What a gift to be with them all!”  – Ann J.

Want to be a one-time volunteer with our Young Listeners? Contact Hannah Holtgeerts at .

Sidewalk Paint, Movies in the Park, Money Talk

Soak up the last few weeks of summer with these ideas to make, experience, and talk about something with the young people in your life. As always, share any feedback or ideas with me at!

Make it: Sidewalk Water Paint

Less mess than sidewalk chalk, and still just as fun! Grab some foam brushes, a bucket of water, and watch young artists create temporary masterpieces in a race against the sun. If you haven’t already, this is a great chance to explain evaporation.

Experience It: Seattle’s Outdoor Movies

Princess bride hn1wph

Before summer ends, be sure to see a movie outside; this summer hasn’t left many excuses for bad weather. I would recommend Big Hero 6 at Cascade Park on Thursday, August 21 (right by REI — this park is where I spent the last year serving with AmeriCorps).  Be sure to click this link for a full schedule.

Talk About It: Money

Photo from LearnVest

This is a tricky one. Although many folks don’t want to bring up this subject with young people, it is incredibly crucial as the expectations around home, education, and lifestyle costs are changing so much between generations (ie did you ever plan paying for an internet or cell phone bill as a kid?). This article from TIME magazine does a much better job with this topic than I could, so check it out when you can. In the meantime, here are a few questions to discuss around dinner:

  • Is money something you think about a lot or a little bit?
  • What was one of the best ways you ever used your money?
  • One of the worst ways?
  • Does your family use a budget? How many dollars (or percentages if you don’t want to be specific) go into each category?
  • What is something you want to save up for?
  • Who do you want to share your money with?
  • How does money make someone’s life easier? Harder?
  • What do you think God says about money? (Check out Matthew 22:15 – 22)

Make it a great week!




Paper Cranes, A Park, and Remembering Hiroshima

Greetings! This edition of “Make It, Experience It, Talk About It” focuses on anniversary of a major event in our world: the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945.  I hope you are able to use these ideas to engage young people about a difficult topic from our past (and our present).

Make It: Paper Cranes

If you haven’t learned how to do so already, please check out this great tutorial from Instructables. While this project may be a little tricky for most people under 3rd grade or so, it’s fun for folks of all ages to play with folding paper.

Experience It: Sadako Peace Park

A statue of Sadako Sasaki is draped in origami cranes in Peace Park in Seattle's University District. Anonymous volunteers, including schoolchildren, create cranes for the statue informally throughout the year.

Visit the Sadako Peace Park at NE 40th St and Roosevelt Way and bring your cranes to add to the collection. Sadako’s story is a difficult one and highlights the ripples of violence that continue to affect lives along decades and generations.

After surviving the Hiroshima bombing as a two-year-old, Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia as a twelve-year-old from exposure to the atomic bomb ten years earlier. She hoped to fold 1,000 paper cranes so that she would be granted one wish, but died from the disease in 1955. You can learn more about her story in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.

Talk About It: Remembering Hiroshima

The topic of nuclear weapons is an important conversation that happens over a lifetime and hopefully starts in a safe place. Describing Sadako’s story with younger children or showing older kids the images below might be a good entry point.

As you make a crane or visit the Peace Park, here are some questions to talk about:

  • How is your life similar to Sadako’s? How is it different?
  • What do you think is one thing that she would say to us today?

  • As literally as you can, describe what you think is happening in this picture. How does seeing this make you feel?
  • What do you think the person in the photograph is thinking?
  • To give you some context, this photo is of the “Peace Dome” in Hiroshima and was located almost directly under the explosion, avoiding the blast that exploded outwards; it was the only building still standing. Here is a similar perspective today:

  • What words come to mind when you see this picture?
  • How do you think this boy is connected to the first image?
  • How are you connected to both pictures?

I hope you find these resources helpful – please give me any feedback in the comments below or at