Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why Do Christians Do That?



I am always puzzled by the opposition that folks create between science and religion. Why is that? Science is facts. Just like statistics, it is in the analyzing of the facts that matters. If you told me that we finally discovered the origin of the universe and it was a magic crystal, I would reply, "Wow, God made a magic crystal! How clever God must be to do this."

"It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us." --Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Regardless of how we got here, whether through evolution or intelligent design or magic beans, it all comes down to God. Why is creation less wondrous if we believe in evolution? Putting the Book of Genesis aside, why do creationists think that God could not have created evolution? Is God not that powerful? Is God not that creative or clever? I say He is. I say that science is a gift from God whereby we are called upon to use the gifts we are given to understand ourselves and our world. God didn't say, "Well, here ya go. It's all for you to have dominion over just don't freakin' try to learn anything about it." No He did not. In fact, God gave us our sense of wonder and curiosity, not to mention our intelligence and persistence. Using our gifts to discover the nature of ...nature would not be a surprise to God!

I will tell you here that this very argument had my ideas referred to as that of the Gnostics and therefore blasphemy in, of all places, my Sunday school class. My husband loves this story! Of all the places where you can assume everyone around you is a bona fide Christian, you would think such silly accusations would be non-existent. Well, I love my church and I love the person who said that to me. I like a church where you can speak your mind and you are forgiven, no matter how goofy you are.

Early church leadership fought over the concept of a flat earth and over a geo-centric universe, stating that going against such thought was blasphemy. No, the truth is the truth. The truth was so important that the word is used 228 times in the NIV translation of the Bible (224 in the King James Version). 78 times in the gospels the words of Jesus "I tell You the Truth" are recorded. Why would a God of truth not want us to know what the truth is?

The problem for some is in the Book of Genesis. If God wants us to follow the truth, know the truth, and hear the truth, as I believe He does, then Genesis must be considered an allegory and not historical record. Can you imagine a supreme being trying to explain the origins of life to a human living in 1500 BCE with no or limited knowledge of science, mathematics, other cultures, medicines, space, genetics? This is someone who had not only never envisioned a microscope, but also had no idea of the concept of the cell. This is someone who had not only never envisioned a telescope, but also had no idea of the concept of the expanding universe. Scientific theory had not been created. Travel was via foot or pack animal. Although there was agriculture, there was no artificial refrigeration. Cooking was with the use of fire. Paper was precious. Humans died of illnesses such as hemorrhoids. There was no aspirin. There were no antibiotics. I have to admit, even today, we are too un-advanced for God to explain the origin of life without simplifying it for us! God is telling us something. We need to listen and be respectful of the truth.

Remember, when asked, Jesus said above all love God and love one another. He did not mention the Book of Genesis. He did not say hold as fact and history that Adam and Eve started all peoples. He said above all, love God and love one another. I have to think that those words indicate we should not bicker over science but rather should learn what we can from one another.

God would have known that we would eventually figure at least some of it out. God wants a relationship with us. God wants us to get along. Perhaps Genesis was appeasement of our curious minds until we could fill in the gaps using the brains God gave us with knowledge built upon the ideas of one another. I have to feel that a Being that so wanted us to love one another as well as to love Him would appreciate this method!

Although I am saddened by persons like Charles Darwin who allowed science to re-frame his thinking to move away from God, this doesn't make his work any less helpful, and it doesn't make God any less the Creator. Recently, Darwin has taken quite a few hits from Christians. First, let's remember that he did his work in the 1800s. What scientific theory from that time do we still have in any area? Obviously there are gaps, errors, and inadequacies. Nevertheless, his observations help us in understanding the world in which we live. Although he lost his faith, his work does not do that to me.

I think God must get as tired of this debate as I do. Why do Christians keep wanting to give away science to atheists anyway? It doesn't lessen God's power to acknowledge science when you recognize that it all comes from God anyway, regardless of how He saw fit to advance it or create it. Evolution doesn't mean God took time away or started something and just took off. God is all around us!

God is great however He made the universe and beyond. The unofficial debate between religion and science seems silly and useless to me.

*******
For your glittering eyes:

"Even if there is only one possible unified theory [the unification of quantum mechanics with an understanding of gravity], it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?" --Stephen Hawking

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Putting Myself Out There

When I first started this blog, I did so with a few goals in mind. First, I wanted to see if I could do it. Second, I wanted to see if any elements so available to anyone would be helpful on my husband's business websites. Lastly, I wanted a place to share my thoughts, if only as a journal for myself.

A co-worker had shown me the blogger site, sent me a link to his blog, and told me his business plans for his site. This was all fascinating, but when he told me how quickly he did it all, it was worth a shot to me! I did it. I also surprised myself by how easy it was for me to share personal, controversial/religious information! I decided not to share it, although I mentioned to several folks that I was working on a blog in order to learn the components in hopes of improving our own websites somehow.

My very trusted friend, someone from whom I shouldn't have felt the need to hide my blog in the first place, discovered it. She complimented me on it and I suddenly felt as though I had been viewed naked! Really, that's the closest parallel I can make on how knowing my thoughts had been read (and were apparently out there for anyone to read despite making it private, blocking it, and not sharing the link) on the internet!

My friend was so kind in her assessment of my writing, and apologetic after I shared my surprise at her discovery of my blog, that I figured I needed to get off the fence. I either have a blog or I close it down and go back to journaling! I decided to post more and make it public, although, even now, I am hesitant about including the link on out-going emails.

Part of my reluctancy is that my blog can be very religious at times and in our world where we prefer scandal to scripture, I was concerned that I would look like a wack-o. Truth is, I am flawed and hardly the best example of a Christian -- as are most Christians I know. To me, the reason Christians are often scoffed at is that we come off as self-righteous, hypocritical, and insincere. Famous Christians and their phony tears often come after admitting betrayal and theft. Most of us have had it with them! Despite that, my journey through the Bible and as a Christian woman/parent/businessperson has put me in a position where I feel that stifling the words of Christ, hiding my own convictions, and ignoring Biblical mandates is not only wrong, but a dis-service to other people. I felt that I owed it to myself to be true to myself, afterall, God knows my thoughts, for right or for wrong. It is my deepest hope that, by sharing my words, others will see Christians as educated, peaceful, honest, and accepting. It is also my hope that others will express their Christianity, not just by example, but by allowing their words to be shared in order to give the image of a Christian a much-needed face-lift and get the message of hope to others. After completing a 'Shape' class at church, I scored high on evangelism *gasp*. This is a way to further that tendency. (Even now, it is hard to use the word "evangelism" because of the imagery it creates even for me!!! Yup, as a teen of the 80s, I think of the Bakers too.)

I have included a link to my blog on some of my yahoo groups and a few personal, out-going email messages. I have had nice responses. Thank you for that. A common theme in the responses is that it is refreshing and surprising that I mention Jesus. It reminded me of Rick Warren's comments after presenting Obama's inaugural prayer where he said there was great pressure on him not to mention Jesus. It is just hard not to mention Him if you are a Christian, but I understand the pressure of just using the name 'God'.

I only recently felt comfortable sharing a link to my blog with my husband. To illustrate the absurdity of my not sharing this with him sooner, you have to know that my husband is by best friend. We pray together, work together, and talk about EVERYTHING. We commonly discuss the Bible and world views as they relate to religion. I have shared things with him that I would never express to others. I trust him completely. I guess that since he knows me better than anyone else, it seemed even more implausible that I would be so religious -- I mean afterall, he, above anyone else, knows how flawed I am!

So, like all things, when I finally showed him my site, he pointed out a few things. He told me I had graven images on it. (It is to be noted that he is often trying to get my goat and he said it with a smile, but it bothered me!) First, I had to really research what a graven image is. I found this perfectly for my defense:

I am the LORD your God,...(7)You shall have no other gods before me. (8)You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; (9)you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, (10)but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. [Deut. 5:6-10; RSV]

Verse 7 forbids the worship of other gods, while verses 8-9 forbid the making of graven (carved) images that would be worshipped as gods, i.e. idols. Now worshipping statues with divine honor is one way of worshipping other gods. Verse 7 is a general statement of the First Commandment, while verses 8-9 give a specific case of this Commandment. Verses 9-10 present the punishments and rewards that are associated with these Commandments.
http://users.binary.net/polycarp/graven.html
I have used art to illustrate my messages. I have a degree in art! Religious art is a HUGE part of art history, as many cultures mandated subject matter in the form of [church] government art programs. I see nothing wrong with using this art! I also do not feel that anyone will be praying to my blog! For these reasons, I say, "Sorry, honey, you are mistaken. I do not have graven images on my blog." Yes, that had to be said publicly. (I'm gettin' used to this blog thing as a real helper to me *smile*.)

So I have overcome a real hurdle with my concern about sharing this blog. I intend to continue to use it to share the message of Jesus, to share interesting books and interviews, to share photos of my family, and to share the fruits of my hobbies (paper crafts, sewing, reading, and soon gardening). I cannot apologize for including religious overtures and I hope that they are read as intended, a bit of information shared-as-learned to inspire and offer hope.

*******
And so something completely off-subject (thank goodness) for your glittering eyes:

"You are the master of your own fate, the captain of your own soul." -William Ernest Henley
From the age of 12 Henley suffered from tuberculosis of the bone leading to the amputation of his left leg below the knee either in 1865 or 1868-69. Frequent illness often kept him from school, although the fortunes of his father's business may also have contributed. In 1867, Henley passed the Oxford Local Schools Examination and soon afterwards moved to London where he attempted to establish himself as a journalist. However, his work over the next eight years was interrupted by long periods in hospital because his right foot was also diseased. Henley fought the diagnosis that a second amputation was the only way to save his life by placing himself under the care of the pioneering surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912). After three years in hospital (1873-75), Henley was discharged. Lister's treatment had not effected a complete cure but enabled Henley to lead a relatively active life for nearly 30 years. His friend Robert Louis Stevenson, based his Treasure Island character, Long John Silver, on Henley.

His literary connections also led to his sickly young daughter, Margaret Emma Henley (b. 4 September 1888), being immortalised by J. M. Barrie in his children's classic Peter Pan. Unable to speak clearly, the young Margaret referred to Barrie as her "Friendy Wendy", leading to the introduction of the name Wendy. Margaret never read the book; she died on 11 February 1894 at the age of 5.

Henley died at the age of 53 and was buried in the same churchyard as his daughter in Cockayne Hatley. His wife was later buried at the same site.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ernest_Henley

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Spirituality for Brokeness


I heard an interesting interview with Terry Taylor, the director of Interfaith Paths to Peace. The interview is a promotion for his book, A Spirituality for Brokeness - Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult Times. This seems so timely to me as more and more people around me seem to talk about brokeness. Listen to his interview on State of Affairs http://www.wfpl.org/CMS/?p=4429 .

Taylor speaks of mending as opposed to healing: “Healing implies that you will return to the way you were before you were broken. Mending, to me, implies that in some sense you are whole but you have been put back together… but the scars show, the stitches show.”

Often it is during the difficult times that your relationship with God deepens. This book recognizes that it is important to embrace the difficulties you have experienced (not that you would want to relive them) because they (and your responses to them) have made you the person you are. The book explores different faith-based methods of mending. Observing a Sabbath as a means to rest and to restore is one method http://www.practicingourfaith.org/prct_keeping_ways_ideas.html. In my recent study of Mark, this was an important message from Jesus; that God has given us the gift of Sabbath to rest. It is to help mankind as God recognizes our need to re-charge ourselves. Lectio Divina (http://www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html), the Islamic practice of praying five times a day, and the Buddhist meditation practice called Tonglen http://www.shambhala.org/teachers/pema/tonglen1.php are methods Taylor explores in his book. Taylor teaches that using the practices (methods) from Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, while keeping your own spiritual beliefs (truths) can be beneficial to sorting through your difficulty as you mend your brokeness. As an example, he asks the question, would it not be helpful within your Christian belief to set aside five times of prayer each day that would be honored even if you were in class, in a meeting, or in the middle of a chore? In this, he suggests using a muslim practice to support one's own belief (whatever that may be, but in this case Christianity) as a way to set aside anxiety and find the power of God through structure, commitment and time throughout your day.

Taylor will hold book signings Thursday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at Carmichael’s Bookstore, 2720 Frankfort Ave. and Saturday, April 25 at 3 p.m. at Destinations Booksellers, 604 E. Spring St. in New Albany, Ind.

Something for your glittering eyes:
The Pharisees said to Jesus, "Look, why are your disciples doing
what is not lawful on the sabbath?" Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath;
so the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.".
Mark 2:24, 27-28

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Few Things I Have Been Taking Notes On...

I have found some great things this past winter for my family's well-being. Constantly on the look-out ...these are a few things to share...

These are my book notes from Boost Your Child’s Self-esteem by Karin Ireland, 2000. ISBN: 0-425-17295-3
1. Find something positive to say to your child every morning before school.
2. Look for ways to be a partner with your child.
3. Teach your child how to solve problems (id what the problem is, decide what she wants the problem to be, determine the steps that need to be taken to reach that solution, decide if she can take the steps alone or if she needs help, if she needs help decide who is the best qualified –not nearest or easiest to ask – is, look for something the person she asks will gain by helping her, ask for the results she wants).
4. When correcting your child, speak from your heart, not your ego.
5. Don’t finish your child’s thoughts for her.
6. Look for the message behind your words.
7. Focus on the positive.
8. Listen to your child. Ask questions to encourage her to say more.
9. Teach your child to be honest.
10. Practice what you preach.
11. Accept her offers for help.
12. Applaud her efforts. Even the messy ones.
13. Put yourself in your child’s shoes.
14. Practice having a good day (and help her learn she’s in control, that she can choose to be happy)
15. When your child tells you how she feels, don’t tell him how she should feel instead.
16. Encourage your child to talk about what she wants instead of what she doesn’t.
17. Let it be okay for your child to disagree.
18. Show your child you’re a ‘can do’ family.
19. Know the values you want your child to have.
20. Demonstrate the values you want your child to have.
21. Pick a value each week and practice it every day.
22. Don’t make your child feel guilty for wanting what she wants or for being who she is.
23. Say ‘yes’ whenever you can.
24. Help her learn to be okay with ‘no’ (say it kindly, the way you would want her to say it to you).
25. Let your child know she is special to you.
26. Give gifts that boost self-esteem (write down 101 things you love about your child and give it to her, make a DVD of friends telling why she’s their friend, make a CD saying why you are glad she’s your daughter, hand her a card that says “I’m glad you’re part of my life” or “I love knowing you” or some other positive message)
27. Teach your child to appreciate the difference between people.
28. Encourage your child to ask questions about rules and ethical decisions.
29. Help your child realize she has choices.
30. Start with the end in mind (make a list of all the things you want her to be and note what you can do to help her, list what you are doing right now that might make it hard for her to develop a desired trait, list what you are not doing that you could be doing right now, check the things you will start or stop today).
31. Encourage your child to be creative about what she wants (teach creative persistence).
32. Don’t use shame to control your child.
33. Show respect for your spouse (your child will unconsciously mimic the relationship habits she sees now; you give the gift of showing how well relationships can work).
34. Teach basic good manners and demonstrate them.
35. Encourage your child’s sense of humor.
36. Make most of your interactions with your child positive.
37. Don’t tell your child her fears are silly.
38. Smile at your child and hug her.
39. Assume she’s right before you assume she’s wrong.
40. Show your child how to ask for help.
41. Applaud improvement.
42. Eliminate words that hurt.
43. Encourage your child’s questions.
44. Don’t assume your child knows what to do (if your child regularly misses a step or two of a chore, remind her of what you need her to do with words that don’t make her feel lazy or stupid).
45. Examine gender stereotypes with your child (encourage her to tell you when she hears them so you can counteract those messages with positive ones).
46. Be willing to explain bad words.
47. Teach your child to visualize what she wants instead of what she doesn’t (let her know you are looking forward to being successful at your next assignment instead of worrying about it).
48. Will it matter 10 years from now? (if some little annoyance gets in the way, ask if it will matter in 10 years that she did something, if not, let it go)
49. Enjoy your child (and let her know you think she’s fun to be around.
50. Communicate clearly.
51. Let go of old mistakes.
52. Let your child help make family decisions.
53. Encourage your child to keep a success journal (nightly writing that helps her to identify her daily successes to unconsciously over-ride negative things she is told my others).
54. Help your child fit in.
55. Treat your child the way you’d treat a special friend (honor your child’s trust, respect her and her privacy, look for ways to say yes more than no).
56. Teach your child to set goals.
57. Affirmations help boost self-esteem (Math/spelling/history just seems to get easier for me every week, I always seem to be able to figure out what I need to know in order to do what I need to do, every day I notice several big or little ways I am successful, sometimes I amaze myself with all the things I know, I get better every day at remembering the things I need to remember).
58. Attack the problem, not the child (ex:”There are still a lot of things on the floor and I think you can find someplace to put them” instead of “Can’t you see this room is still a mess?”)
59. Team sports can boost self-esteem.
60. Teach your child that neatness counts.
61. Help your child value who she is more than what she does.
62. Don’t compare your child with other people.
63. Catch your child in the act of doing something right and make it a big deal.
64. Encourage your child to share her success with you.
65. “Sandwich” complaints can backfire (she will begin to expect that every compliment will be bundled with a complaint – leave off the compliment, start off with the complaint and finish with a compliment instead).
66. Don’t confuse a quiet child with a good child.
67. Rethink some of your beliefs about parenting.
68. Encourage your child to try things just for fun.
69. Respect your child. Be someone she can respect.
70. Be a good role model of the attitudes you want your child to have.
71. Encourage your child to be a good listener.
72. Help your child be positive about the future.
73. Expect your child to succeed.
74. Nurture your child’s special gifts.
75. Provide a home that’s physically safe.
76. Provide a home that’s emotionally safe.
77. Say thank you.
78. Teach your child to think before she makes a promise.
79. Be a detective (behavior has a message and if your child is behaving in a way that’s inappropriate, discover what the message is).
80. Eat dinner together every night.
81. Don’t redo the things your child does.
82. Give your child chores to do that boost her self-esteem.
83. Raise your child’s self-esteem: praise her, respect her opinions (even if you disagree), ask for her advice, notice when she does something well and compliment her on it, tell her you love her, let her be appropriately independent, monitor her schoolwork and get her help if she needs it, expect her to succeed, guide her to activities in which she will succeed.
84. Be aware of things that lower self-esteem: parents’ disapproval, parents fighting or divorce (uncertain future), difficulties with friends, a change in friends, difficulties with a teacher, difficulties with schoolwork, negative family or friends, believing she is different in a negative way, criticism
85. Look for discipline that teaches instead of punishes.
86. Focus on who your child is instead of who she isn’t
87. Be willing to admit when you’re wrong
88. Take advantage of time-outs (your own)
89. Good parenting doesn’t mean creating a perfect child
90. Teach your child how to resolve conflicts
91. Honor your promises
92. Set your child up for success
93. Show your child she’s important to you
94. Don’t use guilt to control your child
95. Don’t let your child use guilt to control you
96. Listen for the difference between guidance and criticism
97. Take time to play with your child
98. Help your child learn to cope with setbacks
99. Remind your child often of her past successes
Encourage Independence:
1. Able to complete homework assignments without your monitoring?
2. Able o communicate clearly enough to call stores o inquire if they have a special item she’s looking for?
3. Can she pack her own bag for an overnight stay with a friend?
4. Can she choose the clothes she wants to wear?
5. Can she fix some of her own meals?
Behavior Adjustment
1. Ask for your child’s help in solving her behavior problems
2. Don’t slap, shake, or spank your child
3. Find alternatives to physical punishment
4. Eliminate teasing, labeling, and practical jokes that hurt
Look for reasons to Praise your child.
Help your child develop a good memory.
De-stress before you get home.
Teach your child appropriate ways to express anger.
Teach her how to plan and complete a project.
Teach your child to be comfortable with change.
Encourage your child to read.
Teach your child how to manage money.
Ask lots of ‘what would you do if’ questions.
Encourage your child to discover her own solutions.
Save great schoolwork.
Teach your child to recognize what stresses her and to do something about it.
Try to correct your child in private.
Sometimes do less for your child and more with her.
Let your child know it is okay not to be perfect.
Look for ways to show your child you love her.
Teach your child to trust her perceptions (if someone is telling the truth, if a group will work well together, whether or not a place is safe).
Teach your child to feel and trust her feelings.
Encourage your child to set personal boundaries (respect her boundaries to show that she is worthy of respect and that she deserves her needs to be met).
Help your child evaluate fear instead of stuffing it inside or backing away.
Ask your child for her opinion.
Tell your child the story, “The Day You Were Born…”
Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first (emphasize practice and persistence).
Teach if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.
Understand where your parenting rules come from.
Keep your expectations reasonable. Talk with your child about your expectations.
Play games that boost self-esteem.
Occasionally change the filter through which you see your child.
Avoid these messages that lower self-esteem:
1. Body language that shows you are disappointed, exasperated, disapproving, uninterested or in any other way withholding approval.
2. Comments like ‘Who do you think you are’ and ‘Why do you think you are so special’.
3. Labels (shorty, lazy, klutzy)
4. Indifference toward her when she wants your attention.
Try not to pass along your fear to your children:
1. There is never enough money for all our needs.
2. Most people are not honest.
3. Most people will take advantage of me if I’m not alert.
4. If I don’t struggle, I won’t succeed.
5. People like us don’t have what it takes to succeed.
Respect your child’s opinions even when you disagree.
Let your child experience the consequences of her behavior.
Teach your child about personal integrity.
Don’t always minimize your child’s troubles and fears. Don’t “disasterize” them either.
Encourage your child to be himself.
Send ‘you are special’ messages to your child regularly.
Let your child know you love her no matter what.
Don’t expect your child to learn every lesson the first time.
50 Messages that Boost Self-Esteem:
1. I love you.
2. Keep up the good work.
3. You did a great job.
4. Thank you for…
5. You’re a great kid.
6. I’m glad you’re my daughter.
7. You are one of my favorite people.
8. What would I do without you?
9. Thank you for doing that with me.
10. You can do it.
11. I believe in you.
12. You’re fun to be with.
13. Excellent!
14. I admire the way you did that.

15. You're so clever.

16. I really appreciate you.

17. Thanks for your help.
18. You figured that out nicely.
19. Good job on that paper.
20. You look nice.
21. Keep up the good work.
22. I always know you can figure things out.
23. I trust you.
24. You’re one of the best __________ I know.
25. I admire you for the work you do on your school assignments.
26. I really appreciate your help.
27. I love having you as my daughter.
28. I really like spending time with you.
29. I know you can do it.
30. You did a great job again.
31. You were really brave to do that.
32. I like the way you handled that situation.
33. You can do whatever you set your mind to.
34. Congratulations!
35. You’ve really gotten good at_____________.
36. You’re really special.
37. You have great ideas.
38. I admire your patience.
39. I’m amazed at how quickly you figured that out.
40. Thank you for remembering.
41. You’re right.
42. I never thought of it that way.
43. Your friends are lucky to have you.
44. I heard a compliment about you today…
45. You are so good at ____________.
46. I’m really proud of you.
47. You’re terrific.
48. I trust your judgment about that.
49. I love your sense of humor.
50. You really contribute a lot to this family.


I have been working pretty consistently at reducing my daughter's TV watching time. I started by making her art supplies, including paint and play-dough, accessible to her all the time, and without supervision. (I am working on my bravery badge-- think I got it yet?) I duplicated many of my art/craft supplies that she liked so that she wouldn't pillage my stuff. This translates in to having in her own little craft area, 12x12 decorative papers, punches, decorative cut scissors, rubber stamps and ink, glues, tape in a dispenser, googly eyes, pompoms, beads and decorative cords, fabrics, and card-making blanks. I have found that her supplies have to be as good as mine or she will still want my stuff!

My husband and I have purposely not put a television in her bedroom. She does, however, have volumes of children's literature and music on CDs. She has a CD player that she can operate herself and often plays something while she is playing in her room.

She has a couple of Leap Frog toys so that she can use a keyboard when we are in the office on the computer or use a hand-held game when I am checking my messages on my phone. She likes to do what we are doing.

I am hoping that her time being spent in creative play and learning will keep her interested in something that requires thinking. I love TV and watched tons of it when I was little, so I don't think it will destroy her mind [cue the Hulu commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m71m-LBqFQ]. I do, however, remember having more fun when I was making something or trying something new.

So... are you shocked that there was not one religious message today? I'll remedy that. *smile* Check this resource for children's Bible stories http://gardenofpraise.com/bibleles.htm. I mention religion even when the author does not because it ties in perfectly with self-esteem. The beauty of Christianity is not just the big stuff (salvation, relationship with God) but also the little things like knowing you are not alone, deciding to love others, learning forgiveness, learning the art of meditation through prayer, giving yourself permission to re-charge, finding hope when things look bad, not to mention that little life guide, the Bible, which can be a great how-to book for finding purpose, happiness, and hope. (And who hasn't been in a place in their lives where that was a welcome feeling!) I really believe that parents who place God in their homes, who help their children find God in their hearts, and who give their kiddos a good example to follow will help them to forgo so many problems later in life and enable them to deal with the human and inevitable pain they cannot escape. At least, I hope so! (Check my daughter in 20 years!)

And now, something extra for your glittering eyes:
Self-esteem is the real magic wand that can form a child’s future. A child’s self-esteem affects every area of her existence, from friends she chooses, to how well she does academically in school, to what kind of job she gets, to even the person she chooses to marry. --STEPHANIE MARTSON, The Magic of Encouragement

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christos Anesti!

Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, He is not here. (Mark 16:6) This painting originates from the chapel Marino Zorzi in the mortuary church of San Michele di Murano. It was attributed to Cima da Conegliano, then to Previtali, Bartolomeo Veneto and Basaiti. The painting was acquisited by the Berlin Museums in 1903 and after a thorough cleansing Bellini was unambiguously established as the author.

In this painting the artist follows Northern currents in his scrutiny of nature. Mystical yet realistic, his combination of faith and focus gives the painting a singularly convincing quality, its theme of resurrection a comforting one for the painting's funerary setting.


Today is Easter. Meditation, not to mention sermons and Sunday school discussions focused today on the resurrection, as to be expected. I have really made a point to get into the Bible's messages during Lent and, for the first time in my life, have allowed the events of the Holy Week to be absorbed, empathized. It is for this reason that I feel a 'lifting' of sorts this day. I really was in mourning the past two days. I was emotionally moved today in church while singing. I know that sounds crazy. I have thrown myself into the Gospels, the history, and the literature and it is quite powerful. I always thought of wackos and extremists when I would get an inkling of this kind of talk in the past, assuming that the speaker or writer was over-indulging or dishonest somehow. It has been enlightening to go through this myself. It has also been a challenge. The resurrection readings have been challenging as I follow my own questions and concerns.

Getting to the Gospels by Steven L. Bridge is very helpful in sorting out the differences in the witnesses to the resurrection:

According to Matthew, Jesus manifests himself twice. He first greets the women as they make their way back from the tomb (Matt 28:8-10), and then he meets with the eleven on a mountain in Galilee (Matt 28:16-20). Luke records three appearances. Jesus approaches two of his followers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), contacts Peter (Luke 24:34), and then reveals himself to his disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:36-49). John describes more appearances by the risen Jesus than any other evangelist. On Sunday, Jesus presents himself first to Mary Magdalene at the tomb (John 20:11-18) and then to the disciples gathered together in a closed room (John 20k:19-23). Eight days later, Jesus returns again to the same house, this time, specifically to Thomas (John 20:26-29). After that, seven of the disciples encounter Jesus while they are out fishing (John 21:1-14).

There are several personal points of interest in the accounts of the risen Jesus appearing that I find very intriguing. First, one of the witnesses of the resurrection was not a disciple, but rather a persecutor of Christians. It was the transformative nature of this experience that Saul of Tarsus converted his beliefs and became the Apostle Paul. He provides a testimonial for the world to the claim of resurrection that is objective.

Second, in the words of Steven L. Bridge, "Having formerly abandoned Jesus, something must have happened to [the disciples] between Gethsemane and Pentecost to cause such a dramatic transformation-- something more compelling than either an empty tomb or a concealed cadaver." I am appreciative of this comment.

Lastly, the first evangelist was a woman. This was a point made to me by the minister at a local church - not my own -- and it made me think. I like very much that the resurrected Jesus appeared first to a woman and instructed her to tell what she had seen. It means to me that Jesus saw the value in the work and words of women. He trusts us to do the right thing for God, unlike some of the messages I internalized growing up about the Old Testament (falsely or not).

These are just the ideas bouncing around in my head this Easter.

For the first time in my entire life, I have not had an Easter dinner to serve or attend on Easter Day. All of our family functions were scheduled for yesterday and Palm Sunday. I usually always serve a brunch. I did have lunch at a restaurant, but returning to an empty house confirmed for my husband and for myself, that despite the extra work, our future Easters will be spent with invited guests in our home!

The Easter Bunny left gifts behind that my daughter has enjoyed all day. In the classic style of my appreciative and good little girl, she loved everything. Her gifts were largely religious in nature for the first time in her five Easters, but it did not waive her excitement or happiness in receiving them. (You never know how kids will respond when they were expecting candy, Barbies and other toys). We were so pleased at the detail in which she could re-tell the Easter story using the Resurrection Eggs. Her preschool uses them and she has learned it so well that it was surprising. Until not-so-long-ago, I did not possess the detail that she has at her age. (This is a double-edge sword that shows, not only her firm grasp of the Bible recounting of resurrection, but also of my adult ignorance of the details until recently.)

As the day closes, I feel closer to Christ and I have a bit of satisfaction that I have done everything in my power this year to bring my daughter closer to Christ. I have so much more to study and understand, but as goals are being met and knowledge is building, I am both so very pleased and know there is so much more to learn, teach, and understand!

Happy Easter!

Something extra for your glittering eyes:
Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio

But wait! There's more! Click 'older posts' above!

But wait!  There's more!  Click 'older posts' above!