Eco-Proofing your Messy Church

Archive for Creativity

Eco-Proofing your Messy Church

A Pre-Pandemic Blog from Crystal Goetz, Regional Coordinator of WA

“It isn’t easy being green.” Those immortal words were spoken by the endearing Muppet Kermit the Frog and every month at Messy Church by me.  No, it isn’t easy, but it is very, very necessary.

Our world is being changed each day by the decisions we make regarding our trash, but also transformed by what and how we consume.  When we choose disposable single-use plastics over reusable or recyclable items, we make an unfavorable impact on our environment that is getting harder and harder to reverse.

Time Magazine’s person of the year 2019 was Greta Thunberg a sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist.  This should tell us that are minds are laser focused on environmental issues.  We feel an urgency to save this beautiful world that God has blessed us with.  Although we strongly desire change, we have a big problem: where do we start?  There are so many things that we have grown to rely on for convenience and ease of preparation, especially at Messy Church.  Plastic tablecloths, paper plates and plastic cutlery for easy clean up. Craft supplies that include craft foam, pony beads, and other plastics that once purchased and used will be in the environment forever.  It is a real dilemma.  How can we help when there are not appropriate alternatives?  Here are some things that might be worth considering for your Messy Church to help lower its environmental impact.

Some Practical Ideas

  • Use cloth washable tablecloths and if you have a really messy project, have flannel backed vinyl cloths that can be wiped clean and reused time and time again.
  • Consider making playdoh rather than purchasing it. It is healthier for everyone and it even smells good.  Some recipes are edible (although, I wouldn’t recommend that after six toddlers that have runny noses have had their hands on it.)
  • Instead of plastic pony beads, why not make beads out of rolled magazine pages and glue. It’s super easy and so fun.  No two beads are exactly the same, just like us. This site has a great tutorial.
  • When purchasing candy or treats buy them in bulk and use reusable produce bags (for sale online) that can be washed.  Using this is much safer not only for the environment, but those plastic single use bags are hazardous to animals and children. 
  • If you must use paper plates, opt for the compostable type.  Avoid those that have a plastic coating and are not compostable.  Yes, they are usually less expensive, and we are all on tight budgets, but think of this as a gift to the earth. It’s worth a few pennies extra for all the earth does for us.  There is always the elbow grease option of using regular plates and doing dishes!  What a fun thing to do together as a Messy Church.  Nothing like a little water play to make a great forum for talking about Jesus! 
  • Collect your plastics that are not recyclable and have an Ecobrick making session. It’s fun and the kids LOVE it!  They love using their “magic wands” to save the sea turtles.  Here is a link to learn more about Ecobricks
  • Rather than buying new every time, consider asking around for donations of items that people already have.  Over-consuming is a leading environmental risk factor.  It would be great to start a share site at your church where people can bring supplies that they have lying around that can be used in new and creative ways.

Be aware, always, of things you can do to help instead of harm the environment.  We cannot save earth by just thinking about doing these things, we must do them. Every little change makes a big difference; and the little things add up to big changes if we all do them together.

When you plan your next Messy Church, consider your impact on the environment.  Ask your team the question:  How can we be better stewards of the earth that God gave us to watch over? Pray about it.  Find innovative ways of conserving our planetary resources; then share them with the rest of the Messy Church family around the world on the Facebook page.  The words reduce, reuse, recycle are more relevant now than ever.  Let’s work together on making Messy Church more sustainable and less impactful on our planet.

Messy Toolbox

What does duct tape teach us our mission in Messy Church? What about a wrench?  Crystal Goetz, Regional Coordinator for the state of WA, shared a fun and inspiring Facebook Live on August 5th exploring her Messy Toolbox.  The good news is that even if you missed it live, you can still catch it on the Messy Church BRF Facebook Page.  Don’t miss it!

Check it out HERE.

Crystal, in the middle, with Messy Friends from South Africa at the MCIC 2019

Messy Summer Activities

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A Great Idea from Aaron Jenkyn, Epiphany Episcopal, Newport, NH

When churches closed in March our Messy Church family stayed in touch with each other via e-mail, snail mail and on Facebook but we never really found a way to connect as a group. As we began to discuss reopening, we began to think creatively about how Messy Church might be able to meet outdoors.  Living in the beautiful state of New Hampshire where there are many treasured outdoor spaces to explore, it seemed only natural to share these places and experiences with our Messy Church families. People can choose to do these activities on their own, with their families, or in small groups, however they feel most comfortable.  Some of these activities will be destinations, others will be activity based and can be done closer to home.

For each adventure we will offer activities, a reflection and a biblical story or theme to ground the experience. We are leaving room to let this program be shaped by the community. Our hope is that in time we will partner with Messy Church families to create these adventures, and that others will join in by posting their pictures on Facebook, creating a sort of hybrid Messy Church experience.

Stay tuned to see where the journey takes us, you can follow along on the Facebook page for Epiphany or St Andrews.  

Messy Adventure# 1 is based on this verse from Isaiah 40: 31:those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,they shall mount up with wings like eagles,they shall run and not be weary,they shall walk and not faint.” 

Download the PDF below. 

All-Ages Together  Summer Prayers

Even though my youngest son is a young adult, one of our favorite summer activities is roasting hot-dogs over a campfire and  enjoying S’more’s together.  So I was excited when I came across a post from Christine V. Hides and the idea of a family prayer based S’more ingredients. Check it out  here. 

Have you prayed with a beach ball before? You may not be able to get together in person to play this but you could use these different examples via on-line or perhaps you can find some beach balls at a dollar store and print out the prayer to send in a take home bag to your Messy Folk.  Here are a few Beach Ball Prayers:

If you need some more Messy Folk Summer activities, check out these 24 Wild and Wet Messy Folk Activities HERE.

Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Highlights from Messy Church NOW Webinar

Logo Messy Church NOW

We had a great representation from all over the USA at the recent Messy Church NOW zoom webinar.  Messy Church leaders representing 25 churches from 16 different states and 5 denominations signed on to hear Jennifer May, Johannah Myers and Leyla Wagner share what they have learned in facilitating their Messy Church in a physically distanced world. 

Highlights from presentations

Jennifer used her teacher expertise to create a google slide show with recorded videos, activities and games that she emailed to her Messy Folk to use at home at their convenience. To keep the experience interactive, she provided a ‘would you rather’ game at the beginning that is the usual start to their in-person Messy Church. She vulnerably shared that it was difficult for her to get past her anxiety of seeing herself on a recording at the beginning which resonated with many of us on the zoom call. Taking risks and placing ourselves into new situations can be an uncomfortable experience. Jennifer leads Messy Church at Freysville Emmanuel United Church of Christ in rural Red Lyon, PA.

Leyla shared how their Messy Church has evolved as they have learned from each iteration of their Messy Church.  Their first COVID-19 Messy Church was a 15-minute zoom celebration worship that ended up lasting almost 45 minutes because people were so happy to see each other.  Since then, they have kept adapting their monthly on-line Messy Church. Their most recent Messy Church included an introduction video from their pastor emailed out one week prior, an activity bag that people came to the church parking lot to pick up, and a zoom community Messy Church that included doing activities together,  worship with favorite songs, and break out rooms to share reflections from questions. Leyla is from Community United Methodist in Huntington Beach, CA. favorite songs.

Johannah kept their first on-line zoom Messy Church short and simple.  The scripture story from Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu was read by Johannah after a time of welcome.  After the story, Johannah led everyone through making a hat of flaming tongues of fire out of a paper place, scissors and colored pencils and folding an origami dove from one piece of paper. Keeping the supply list simple was important.  To connect Messy Folk with Sunday morning worship, people were encouraged to drop off their origami doves at the church which were then placed in the worship space for the Sunday traditional recorded worship. Although the Messy Church zoom crowd was a bit smaller than their usual in-person Messy Church, those who participated ranged in age from toddler to over 70 years… a truly intergenerational experience!  Johannah is from Aldersgate United Methodist in Greenville, SC.

Some Messy Church NOW Ideas for you

Throughout the presentations and after, the chat room was busy with people sharing their own experiences of how they have continued to bring their Messy Church communities together over the past four months. Here are a few evaluation responses to the question, what are you key takeaways?  

  • We are all in the same boat. We try things and adjust accordingly. None of us has the “perfect” answer, we just keep working at it to reach people and have connection. 🙂
  • We had not considered recording our event so people who cannot attend live could come. What a great idea. As well as the ideas for how to share their crafts if they aren’t live with us.
  • Ideas, but most of all hope and strength – not in this aloneI

We are planning more webinars for the future so that we can continue to connect as we all experiment with ways to adapt our Messy Church during this weird time in history. Share your stories with us via Facebook or email roberta@messychurchusa.org.

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Creativity during “in-between” time

Roberta J. Egli

“We are made in the image of God, and God is the great Creator of new things and re-creator of people and communities who are broken. As we create and play together, we echo (God’s) creativity and we are renewed and repaired ourselves.”

Lucy Moore, Messy Church: Fresh Ideas for Building a Christ- Centered Community

My husband is the gardener in our family! He patiently plants bulbs and waits for them to spring up out of the ground.  He gave up on a few bulbs he planted earlier this spring only to be surprised when a little green shoot came out of the ground much later than he expected.  The growth that was occurring underneath the ground was beyond our visual perception.

As I engage in conversations regarding what is next for Messy Church in the USA, as well as the global community, I wonder how God is creating something new, even though we may not perceive it.  I wonder if the anxiety that I feel arising from the unknown to the many complex questions regarding how Messy Church adapts to our changed world blocks me from placing my trust in our creator God.  Rev. Nicole Reilley, a Messy Church USA board member, shared in her recent sermon on July 12 that “we need to look to God rather than the past or the future…we are to live in the in-between space trusting in God.

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness

    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43: 18-19

Trusting in our Creator God and grounding ourselves in the messy foundational value of creativity, I am wondering….

  • What are the most effective ways our Messy Church USA network to engage with one another to learn from one another and to perceive the movement of the Spirit?
  • What kind of resources do local church Messy Leaders and the households they engage with need at this time?  How can we most effectively provide those resources without overwhelming overworked people engaged in ministry?
  • How can we equip local Messy Churches to engage with their Messy folk through on-line, in-person or hybrid experience?
  • How do we stay grounded in our five values of Hospitality, Creativity, Celebration, All-Ages Together and Christ Centered as we experiment with new forms of Messy Church?
  • How do we envision new ways of being Messy Church in our changed world?
  • What are the spiritual practices that we need so that we can more clearly perceive God’s presence and guidance for our ministry?

On July 23rd at 10 am Pacific time, you are invited to a Messy Church USA Zoom town hall to engage with the above questions as well as questions that you bring to the conversation.  Here is a link to the Zoom invitation. 

My friends, this is a difficult time.  This is the first (and hopefully last) global pandemic that we have had to navigate.  Many of us who work in the church, use the summer to plan out the worship and curriculum for the coming school year.  However, everything is constantly changing which causes our plans to not be relevant in just a few short days or week.  Let us place our trust in our Creator God who is making something new that we cannot even imagine right now.  Let us live in a sense of curiosity rather than anxiety as we experiencing the unfolding of the next weeks and month.   I look forward to our ongoing conversations as I hold you in prayer this day.

Prayer: As you find yourself in times of uncertainty, may you perceive God creating a new thing within your life and community. In the places that are broken, may you experience the healing power of Christ. In the spaces where community is being re-created, may you place your trust in God’s Spirit to lead and guide you. May your spirit be renewed as you place your trust in the God of Love.  AMEN.

Grace and Peace,  Roberta

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Stones of Help

Johannah Myers, Associate Director of Messy Church USA

Johannah Myers from South Carolina led the Messy Church Facebook Live event on June 10th.  Watch the FB live here.

Johannah Myers
Messy Church UK Facebook Live, June 10, 2020

Johannah’s original blog post from Messy Church UK is posted below.

I’m in a part of the world where things are opening back up – including churches. In fact, we’re planning to start back with in-person worship this week. It’s very scary. And it’s very different! One of the changes that will be hardest for many of us is that we won’t be singing together any time soon. I’m not sure if I know how to be Methodist if I can’t sing!

One of my favorite hymns is ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’. There’s a line in the second verse that says, ‘Here I raise my Ebenezer.’ And of course, how many times have we sung this song without ever knowing what an Ebenezer was and how we might would raise one?!

It comes from a rather random story in 1 Samuel 7. The Israelites messed up (again) and lost the ark of the covenant to the Philistines. Of course, while the Philistines were in possession of the ark, they experienced nothing but trouble – passing it around from city to city because no one wanted it! Finally, the Philistines take the ark back to Israel! But it’s another 20 years before it seems the Israelites are ready to turn back to God in a way that they can bring the ark back into their center. Samuel gathers them to repent and pray. But the Philistines learn that Israel’s gathering, and they decide to attack. Israel calls on God for help and God protects them. Samuel takes a stone and sets it up and call it Ebenezer – eben = stone, ezer = help. Samuel wanted the people to remember the ways that God helped them. The stone was a visible sign of God’s faithfulness.

A few years ago, on a retreat, we made ‘Stones of Help’. Mine has names of people who, throughout my life, have been a source of strength, help, encouragement. As I look over this rock and all the names, I realize how many ages are represented!

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As we begin to think about Messy Church during this season of forced physical distance, but also what Messy Church will look like as we begin to gather, I wonder about how we will make space for the Messy togetherness.

For the last few years at my church, we’ve had small groups (10 or so people, 3-5 family units) that meet monthly for really what amounts to a mini-Messy Church or a Messy Church at home. They’ve done Bible study and activities together, worked on mission projects, they eat together… so basically Messy Church, just smaller! As we’ve moved out of strict shelter-at-home restrictions, some of our Companion groups have even gathered to reconnect in person.

Like many of you, I’m realizing that our Messy Church may be one of the last pieces we can bring back in full. But like Greg, who did this Facebook Live earlier today, I’m wondering what opportunities this season presents for us. Our Companion groups were an accompaniment of our Messy Church – now, they might very well be the primary access to Messy Church, at least for a season. Maybe we think small as a way of thinking big?

Going back to my Ebenezer – my stone of help. These people are here, listed on my rock, because along the way we had space for relationships to grow and development. In those spaces, I found help and support along my faith journey. These are the people who pointed to God, the ultimate source of my strength and help. Where will we create the spaces for relationships to flourish in ways that we can point the way to God, our Rock?

Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect in the USA.

Messy Church Values

Have you discovered the weekly Facebook Live events on
Messy Church BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship)?
 
With the beginning of the global pandemic Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church  began to have weekly global live events.  Check them out every Wednesday at 9 am and 8 pm (British Summer Time). 

Currently,  these weekly live events are exploring the five foundational values of Messy Church. Okay- quickly now, what are theses five values? (I admit that I usually can’t remember one of them when I am asked)   Ready, set, go: All Ages Together, Celebration, Hospitality, Creativity and Christ Centered!   Did you get them all?

Lucy Moore explored the Messy Church Value of Creativity on April 29th as we each attempted to fold an origami boat.  On May 6th, Martyn Payne focused on the Messy Church Value of All Ages Together.  On Wednesday May 13th, Hospitality will be discussed. 

Creativity Facebook Live on April 29 with Lucy Moore

The chat box filled quickly with; “tired, focused, exhausted, overwhelmed, energized, and edgy” when Lucy asked the question, how are your feeling?  She then proceeded to share her reflections on how this time of the pandemic has brought some new awareness to the Messy Church value of creativity. She has been reading Alan Hirsch book, The Forgotten ways, (Brazos Press) and was drawn to his chapter on liminality and communitas, which describes the opportunities and perhaps privilege of being uncomfortably on the edge. More Here

All Ages Together Facebook Live on May 6th, 2020  with Martyn Payne

Martyn Payne, author of Messy Togetherness, led a global messy conversation on the value of All Ages together. In the 30-minute Facebook live event we explored the questions: How can we do Messy Church in these circumstances in a way that doesn’t give up on trying to express our all-together value? How do we find ways to live out this value when we’re having to organize Messy Church? We were also treated to the wonderful story-telling of Martyn. More Here

September News

Celebrate the Mess, Regional Coordinator of the Month and Welcome New Members to the Messy Church USA Network 

Celebrate the Mess!
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

Mark your calendar for October 22-24, 2020 when we will gather in the greater Chicago area to Celebrate the Mess! We are happy to announce that Lucy Moore and Stephen Fischbacher will be two of our plenary speakers/ musicians! There will be more!  

The members of the planning team for the 2020 Messy Church USA Conference are:  

  • Overall Lead: Roberta Egli and Casey Cross
  • Workshops: Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner
  • Finance: Lynn Egli
  • Messy Church Experience: Maureen Carey-Back
  • Hospitality/Local Logistics: Ronda Bower
  • Publicity: Robin Canon
  • Multimedia/Technology: Andrew Scanlan-Holmes
  • Messy Extras: Johannah Myers

All of these fantastic team members are recruiting for their teams so if you would like to get involved contact them at (firstname)@messychurchusa.org. Look for more details and registration coming soon.

Ronda Bower, Northern Illinois/Wisconsin Regional Coordinator

Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator of the Month

Ronda Bower is our Regional Coordinator for Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. She is the Pastoral Associate for Family and Educational Ministries at Northfield Community Church in Northfield IL.

We are excited to use the beautiful campus of her church for our 2020 Celebrate the Mess Conference. I have firsthand experience of how beloved Ronda is at her church! In my short visit with Northfield Community in August, people kept coming up to me sharing how Ronda makes such a difference in her church. Whether it was about her Sunday morning adult education class or her leadership of the vibrant Messy Church team, Ronda is appreciated for her multiple gifts. THANK YOU, RONDA!

Do you know your Regional Coordinator?  Here they are…contact them at (firstname@messychurchusa.org) (Hint- there will be two more announced soon!) 

California/Hawaii/Southwest – Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner

Chicago/Northern Illinois and Wisconsin – Ronda Bower

Colorado/Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska – Janeen Hill

Indiana –Andrew Scanlan-Holmes

Michigan – Missy Harrison

New Mexico – Barb Tegtmeier

New York and New Jersey – Julie Hintz

North & South Dakota/Minnesota/Montana/Wyoming – Sandee Prouty-Cole

Ohio –Robin Cannon

Oregon (& other areas not listed) –Roberta Egli

North and South Carolina –Johannah Myers

Southern IL/Missouri – Jillian Mayer

Texas –Kate Cross

Virginia –Cindy Banek

Washington – Crystal Goetz

Is God calling you to spread the word about Messy Church? We will be announcing two additional RC soon but we still need more! Our current high priority areas for new Regional Coordinators include Florida, and the mid-Atlantic states. Contact Roberta if you are interested.

Welcome to the Messy Church USA Network

In August we welcomed eleven new Messy Churches to our Network!  We also had one renewal!  Take a moment to give God thanks and say a prayer of blessings for the teams who are bringing Messy Church to their local communities! 

August 2019 Messy Church USA Network Memberships 

New Supporter Members

  • Marshall United Methodist, Marshall, MI
  • Epworth United Methodist, Concord, NC
  • Christ our Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, GA
  • The Church of Agape Outpost, Breckinridge, CO
  • East Canton United Methodist, Canton, PA
  • First United Methodist,  Michigan City, IN

New Registered Members 

  •  Community of Christ, Glendale, AZ
  • Winamac United Methodist, Winamac, IN
  • Macedonia United Methodist, White Post, VA
  • First United Methodist, Comanche, TX
  • St James United Methodist, Marriottsville, MD

Renewal Registered Member

  • St Andrews On-the-Sound, Wilmington, NC
Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

The Messy In-Between

A blog post from Roberta J. Egli

March 20, 2019

Winter? Spring? It is the In-Between

Several weeks ago we experienced a snow storm…it was an oddity for us in the Willamette Valley of Oregon where I live. We woke up to 11 inches of snow on the ground and over 48 hours an additional four inches of snow fell. We were not ready for this snow…the small daffodils had already begun to bloom. The unexpected snowfall brought the whole area to a standstill for several days. We were ready to celebrate the arrival of spring rather than dig out from a record breaking amount of snow. For several days we lived within the Messy in-between.

How are you living in the Messy in-between as you finalize plans for your Easter Messy Church while also inviting your Messy Churches to walk through the season of Lent? This topic of observing lent while also preparing for Easter has been discussed on the Messy Church USA Team Leaders FB group page (click here to join). Messy Churches across the US live in the Messy in-between by having a prayer focused Lenten messy church or a Journey through Holy Week with activities focused on Palm Sunday, the prayers of Gethsemane, the walk toward the cross with feet or hand painted to create a colorful paper cross. Sharing the story of the weeks leading up the big Easter Celebration is vital for our families who are new to the story of Jesus.

Jenna Reinke shared this lovely altar piece created at her Messy Church in Crowley, Texas. She writes that creating the altar decoration helped to build connections between their Messy Church and traditional ‘Sunday Church’ communities. 

Picture from Jenna Reinke from Crowley, TX

Another great idea of incorporating prayers into both Messy Church and traditional church is illustrated by Heather Johnson, a pastor from Minnesota. Check out these beautiful paper Lenten paraments created by written prayers on strips of purple paper that are pictured below.

May you find ways to enter deeply into the season of prayer and preparation this Lent as you also live in the messy in-between of looking forward making detailed plans for your Easter Messy Church! We celebrate the joy of the resurrection by preparing ourselves and our Messy communities. I know that Easter is the largest Messy Church for many communities so prayers for patience and happy volunteers!

Be sure to share your stories of your Lent and Easter stories on our Facebook page, the team leaders group or better yet, send a story or a short video to our Messy Church USA Communications Team lead Robin Cannon from Ohio.

Messy blessings to you as you live in this Messy in-between time. Love and blessings, Roberta

Our mission is to equip local churches to start, sustain and connect Messy Churches across the USA.

Practicing Gratitude

Roberta J. Egli

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Did you see the grateful pumpkin Facebook post that ended up being Messy Church USA’s most liked and shared post? What an easy and great way to practice gratitude in your household or your Messy Church!

I have discovered that it takes intentionality to enter into a regular practice of gratitude. I have kept a gratitude journal in the past but for several years, I have received the daily gratefulness word of the day from a website on gratitude focused on the writings of David Stendle-Rast. I encourage you to check out their website and sign up for their daily moment of gratitude. You can also send an e-card, light a virtual prayer candle, get inspired by stories, discover videos or simply check out their question of the day.

How do you practice gratitude in your household? How can we practice gratitude in our Messy Churches? I recently read a great gratitude household practice called ‘Gratitude Café’. Based on a mother’s habit of taking her morning coffee outside and giving thanks at the beginning of each morning, Traci Smith, author of Faithful Families writes about creating a regular ( weekly if possible) gratitude café.

  • First choose a day of the week (Saturday morning or Sunday evenings work well for many families) for the household to gather.
  • Second, make a favorite beverage for each of the household (coffee, tea, orange juice, or hot chocolate).
  • Third, gather someplace either inside or outside to enjoy their beverage. Perhaps you want to use a special tablecloth or candle for your gratitude café.
  • Fourth, have each household member either draw a picture or if able, write down five things for which they are grateful.(When you start your gratitude café, you may need to ask some  leading questions such as; Are you thankful for anything you received this past week? Are you thankful for anything special we have done as a family? Are you thankful for anything you have learned? Etc.
  • After a time of silence while everyone writes or draws, share your ideas with one another.
  • After everyone has shared, say a simply prayer together, “Gracious, we give you thanks for all you have given us this past week. Amen”

Introduce the Gratitude Café during your Messy Meal and then send the idea home for households to practice at home. You can have people save their drawings / paper and create a Gratitude Café mosaic for your Messy Church.

May you find ways to practice gratitude today and in the days to come and better yet, make your gratitude practice messy!
Messy Blessings, Roberta