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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Case for Community

Ever since I was a young child I was taught to cherish and value community. In my life, this has looked like Sunday afternoons eating coffee cake in a church basement long after the service had ended because my Mom made a point to check-in with everyone who yearned a listening ear. Or when I would tag along with my Dad for a meeting of leaders strategizing about how to prevent yet another factory from entering our neighborhood ridden with dirty industry. It has also looked like a late summer night gathered around a campfire in my aunt’s backyard in Canada, ending a long day of play with my cousins and making every moment matter of the few times we met during the year.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Embrace the Street View

I have never been a fan of change. Until college, I lived in the same house my entire life. I’ve gone to the same church since I was a toddler. I attended the same school from preschool to eighth grade. And my taste in food hasn’t changed since I was eight (corndogs continue to be a staple in my diet). So when I had to move (a whopping two hours away) to Valparaiso University (Valpo), you can probably imagine my feelings on the topic. You know that Yellow Man on Google Street-view Maps that you drag and drop to different places? Have you ever noticed how much that Yellow Man squirms when you move him? That’s how I felt about college. Squirmy.

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Pursuing Permanency Series #4

What challenges might arise when trying to help a youth achieve permanency, and how can they be overcome? This post looks at how to prepare youth for permanency, whether that means helping them consider the benefits of options other than independent living, unpacking their hesitation about adoption or guardianship, or working to resolve trauma that might create challenges in achieving permanency. As the bulletin “Preparing Children and Youth for Adoption or Other Family Permanency” from the Children’s Bureau notes, “Assessment of children’s readiness for a new permanent family generally focuses on their behavior in foster care, with input from social workers and mental health professionals. Decisions are based on the assumption that children will accept new homes and families once they understand that it is unsafe for them to live at home.” It argues that this is insufficient and more needs to be done to prepare children and youth for “relational and/or legal permanency.”

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Most Famous Lutherans

Early in July, I traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to represent LSA at The 66th Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). As a lifelong member of the LCMS, one of LSA’s affiliate church bodies, I know that this church body has a steadfast commitment to their faith, their history, and the work of mercy professed that Christ calls us to. As I wandered the exhibit hall to find our booth, I felt both excited and disappointed to find that our booth sat right across from those who some consider to be the most famous Lutherans in the country – the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs. I was excited because, well, I would get to be around loving dogs for four days. But I was disappointed because it would make it much harder, nearly impossible, to get the attention of people near these Lutheran celebrities.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

People Who Make the Experience

Last week marked my halfway point with LSA. My first month in DC has been, quite simply, a whirlwind. From jazz nights to weekend markets, from baseball games on warm nights to shady lunches by the Capitol, my time here has been moving unevenly, creeping along at some moments but mostly leaping forward in bounds. It’s been exhausting and wonderful. But it wasn’t until this last weekend, when I spent some time away from DC, that I understood what has been making my summer here so special.
I spent my holiday weekend in Houston (a city where the Fourth isn’t so much unique and glamorous as it is a slightly bigger show of Texas’ daily patriotism), and as I told my boyfriend story after story about LSA and DC, I realized a truth that applies to most great experiences: the people I’ve come to know here are what have made my summer so meaningful.
And so, reflecting on my first month in DC, I thought I would talk about a few of those people who have so positively impacted my time here.

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