Friday, July 03, 2015

Poetry Friday - Cartoon Saving the World

**Caveat, this is not really poetry, I would probably classify it as an unfinished story. But I know it's something that I will never really finish, so I wanted to put it out there in cyber space, because I thought it was kind of cute.**

“Good morning Billy. What are you planning to do today?” His mother asked.

“I am going to save the world.” Billy responded.

“How are you going to save the world, Billy? You are only a cartoon character. You don’t even know anything about the world outside.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I know I have to try.” Billy said.

“Why do you want to save the world Billy? What do you think is wrong with the world?” His mother asked.

“The eyes that look at us seem so far away. They look like they need a hug or a smile or a friend.”

“How will you get those things for the world, Billy?”

“I’m not sure. I’m going to play in my room for a little while and try to figure out what to do.”

Billy returned to his room and started drawing. He drew a village with a dozen tiny people. Each of his drawings showed the people playing together, smiling, talking to each other.

He suddenly had an idea. He raced back to the kitchen, where his mother prepared lunch.

“I know how to save the world, Mama.” Billy said.

“What will you do, Billy?” His mother smiled at him.

“I’m going to show them what the world should look like. We’re going to show them what they should be doing.”

“How will you show them? They barely even look at us anymore.”

“I’m going to start with a joke. Everyone loves a good joke.” Billy sat down and put his hand on his chin. “I just have to think of a really great joke.”

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Favorite Child

I don't necessarily have a favorite child, but I do think that it's naive to think that our parents never had a favorite occasionally. I definitely have one child more like me in behavior than the other, but they both frustrate me equally and they both have my unconditional love.

Sometimes I feel more in tune with the child that is more like me, because I know where he's coming from. Sometimes I also feel frustrated, because he won't do what I want him to do and he's "like me" when he gleefully runs from my requests knowing that he's spoiled enough to get away with it.

I also love the uniqueness of my other son. I love his weird little quirks that are so unlike me and how he doesn't meet any strangers. I love that he (generally) will obey when I ask him to do something. I also get really frustrated when I can't understand why he does certain things or acts a certain way. I also get frustrated when he keeps asking why, 1.4 million times a day (although I may have done that when I was a child too).

It makes me wonder sometimes what God sees in us. He obviously doesn't have favorites, but I wonder if He enjoys the ones He's had to work the hardest for or the ones who work hardest for Him. I wonder if He enjoys the curious ones more or the ones who obey without question. I wonder if He loves the ones who yell at Him and argue their point or the ones who yell at themselves for messing up yet again. I think that's why God gave us free will, He loves all of our differences and idiosyncrasies. It makes up for the frustration I'm sure He feels when we make the wrong decision.

He loves us, but He doesn't always protect us. He loves us, but He doesn't always give us exactly what we ask for. He loves us, but His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Just ask Job, or read Ecclesiastes, or any of the gospels. His love is there, through the whole Bible, but it may not be what we expect.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Are you on or off the bandwagon?

You all know that eventually I will “hop on the bandwagon” of Facebook blowing up with people’s opinions, but I don’t usually put much of it on Facebook. Today’s post is to follow up with the Supreme Court decision and the ranting and raving Facebook posts on both sides: before, during, and after. I will address the religious aspect and the political aspect, both of which are equally concerning to me.

I saw a comment by someone on Facebook asking why is it concerning or disappointing to Christians that equal rights are given to homosexuals? Isn’t Jesus all about love? Wouldn’t he want them to have equal rights?

Absolutely, Jesus does love homosexuals, and I feel that he would want them to have equal rights. He would be telling us Christians to throw the first stone only if we ourselves have no sin (which I don’t know that any of us is willing to admit). However, he would also tell the sinners (all of us) to go and sin no more.

So, the reason for my distress, as a Christian, is not the sin itself. The sin of homosexuality is no worse than that of divorce, pre-marital sex, polygamy, child abuse, dishonoring your parents, or hating someone in your heart. But the issue here, is that we are saying one sin is okay, despite what God clearly says in his word. We think that we know better now. When Jesus confronted the woman at the well, He didn’t tell her she was going to hell, but neither did He tell her, “Good for you, I can tell you’re committed to and really love the man you live with, so keep up the good work”. Instead he talked with her, gently pointing out that what she was doing was wrong, without telling her to “fix it”. She believed not because He told her she was wrong, but because he told her the truth. As Christians, we can’t shy away from the truth, but neither can we beat people over the head with it.

I will say, that on my Facebook feed, I only had one Christian who was posting something that was bigoted and hate filled. But there are other Christians posting truth-filled statements. Simple Bible verses or a statement of Christian faith, nothing overtly against gay marriage, and yet they are quickly jumped upon and commented to death by vocal gay marriage proponents. I don’t think this is a bad thing. I think this is an opportunity to clear up some Biblical misconceptions. However, as Christians, we need to be clear in what we believe before we jump on the comment train that Facebook has become.

First, much of the Old Testament has been done away with because of grace. But what remains is put to a higher standard by Christ. Have you lusted after someone in your heart? You’ve sinned. Have you hated your fellow man? You’ve sinned. Have you cheated, or lied, or stolen? You’ve sinned. The point is not to look at other people’s sin, but to look into our own heart at our own sin. The problem with saying homosexuality is no longer a sin, is that I can also explain away all my other sins on the same basis. God is love, so it doesn’t matter if I… (watch porn, lie to my husband, cheat on my taxes, hate my neighbor).

Salvation through Jesus is a unique combination of grace and truth. Christ died for our sins, regardless of our deservedness, and we are unlikely to stop sinning after becoming Christians. Does this mean that we should stop trying not to sin and just live our lives the same? No! That would be like saying, “I really love my husband”, but continuing to slap him in the face whenever I disagree with him. It’s like saying, “I love you a lot, Jesus, thanks for being such a cool guy and all and changing the history of our world with your sacrifice and death, but I think I’m a bit smarter than you, so let’s just go with my own ideas from now on, because you were right about some things, but a little unclear on other things.”

So our goal as Christians, should be to prayerfully identify the sins in our OWN life and work towards fixing them. We should not be lambasting those who choose a different lifestyle, but neither should we celebrate that lifestyle. The Bible says to flee from sexual immorality. Sexual sin is a slippery slope and causes intense pain to those involved. It’s a short step from lust to porn to consensual sexual acts outside of marriage. We should not encourage any form of sexual sin due to its pervasive nature. We should also not confront anyone directly telling them not to sin unless we already have a loving relationship with them and they claim to be Christian and are still living in a sinful sexual lifestyle. Even then, it should be done with one or more witnesses and elders of the church, not a personal snide comment.

Another comment someone made was, “Why should you fear a God of love? He’ll work it all out in the end.” God is love, yes. But He’s also the God of creation, have you looked around you lately? Someone that powerful deserves some awe and respect. He’s also the God who swallowed a whole bunch of sinners in an earthquake and plague because they were hard-hearted.

Now, I want to change course a bit, and talk about why the Supreme Court decision is dangerous from a political perspective. First, marriage has never before been a “right” according to the Courts. States have always had freedom to legislate (to some extent) who can get married for various reasons. Now that marriage is a “civil right” according to the Supreme Court, are we denying the rights of children who want to get married? Are we denying the rights of already married people who want to remarry without getting divorced? Are we denying the rights of first cousins who want to get married, or mothers who want to marry their sons? There are a lot of people in the world who are having their “rights” violated suddenly, now that the Supreme Court has declared marriage a basic human right.

I would have celebrated if the end result of all this political/social chaos was a legislative decision to create a civil union and say you can get married religiously however you choose, but a civil union is defined as X, Y and Z (including gay and lesbian relationships) and will be considered equally as marriage under all federal provisions. However, since our legislature has decided that they are too busy campaigning and raising money to be put upon to create laws, the Supreme Court decided to just do what they could to make something happen. So, they went a bit outside of the law to do so. Umm, excuse me, let me repeat myself one more time, our highest federal courts went OUTSIDE OF THE LAW to define a new CIVIL RIGHT and NO ONE IS UPSET!

Apparently, under the guise of freedom and with a majority of Facebook support, we can do whatever we want in this government. And can everyone get a good laugh with me here on the fact that made the WHITE HOUSE rainbow colored? How obvious can it be that this was about public relations more than equal rights? Hey, everybody should like the United States government now, because they’re on the "correct" side in the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram bandwagon of public opinion.

Here’s the danger folks, if we’re creating new laws based on public opinion rather than moral standard, state’s rights, or legislation, we are creating a dangerous new world. What if the next “cool thing” is to allow pets “equal rights” (they are part of your family, right)? Or mandate that all food must be locally, organically grown or it can’t be purchased. Or legislate the sale of formula, because we should all be breastfeeding. Or legislate that all children are required to attend school at age 4, because Obama thinks it’s really important that all our moms be working moms, and that would be the easiest way for it to happen.

If we’re no longer voting on public officials (instead we vote based on what "side" believe in), and all the “popular” votes which states have had about marriage have essentially been ignored, then what rights do we really have? We are giving up our political rights, in the name of “freedom”. Well, now you are free to do anything you want to in the name of “freedom” and “civil rights”, yet you’ve given up what our country was founded on, the Constitution, the idea of states rights, and the ability to get the government the heck out of your business.

As a libertarian, I cringe. As a Christian, I am disheartened. But as a human, I rejoice that today is another day of life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We may never get there. We may destroy what we’ve built with our own pride and self-centeredness. But, for today, we haven’t messed it up too much yet, so there is still hope.

So before you celebrate or hate the Supreme Court decision, make sure you do some research so you understand the religion and the politics, rather than just jumping on one bandwagon or another. And for those who hate, on either side of the bandwagon, make sure you are looking at the sin in your own heart before making a comment against someone else.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Learning to Swim

Well, I finally realized why I could never teach my husband how to swim. One of things I love about him is that he always makes me laugh. However, when I'm laughing at him while he flounders in the water, it's not the best teaching environment. He is actually a decent swimmer though, so I'm not too worried about him. I'm just not the best "stroke clinic" instructor when I'm laughing so hard.

Since it's officially summer now, and many more kids are swimming at the pool, I wanted to take a few moments and review the "basics" of beginning swimmers from an instructor's perspective, and how it applies to real life.

  1. Fear. The first point to make is that you cannot learn to swim while you are afraid of the water. Whether you are an 18 month old or a 60 year old in my class, we will talk about the water and perform activities to reduce your fear. There are two different methods to eliminate fear, but I've always encourages parents that the best way to remove the fear is to build trust. You might be terrified of going underwater, but if you trust in your parent (or instructor, or God) and take the plunge, you will eventually get it. You might get water up your nose, you might bump your head on something or someone, but you will eventually figure out that going underwater is okay. If you don't trust in that person, you will never go under the water. Something to think about the next time you're afraid. Who should you be trusting?
  2. Float. This is the second hardest thing to teach a new swimmer. They have to learn about their natural buoyancy in the water. They need to be able to feel when they rise and when they fall. This involves a lot of topics that are difficult for young children to understand (relaxing their muscles, keeping air in their lungs without holding their breath too tightly, and proper form for front and back float). Usually we focus on back floating with young children, or holding on to the side of the pool. I would encourage an adult to try this too, if you have access to a pool this summer. Don't think about it too much, just get in your "floating" position and feel your limbs and body rise up to the surface (the more muscles you have the harder this will be, so use a float device or hold on to the side of the pool or a step if needed). It's an amazing feeling to feel your muscles relax so completely that they rise to the top of the pool. It's also amazing how the tiniest changes in position or breath can cause you to rise and fall. Something to think about the next time you make a "small" decision that's not something you would normally do.
  3. Kicking and Paddling. These are usually what I focus on after fear and floating (and breath control and water safety, but I usually at least mention these next). The tricky thing about kicking and paddling is that if the kick or paddle is not "effective" it could look impressive and take a lot of energy, but you won't go anywhere. If you are slapping at the top of the water, but your fingers are open and you aren't pulling that water, you won't go anywhere. If your legs are moving up and down or like a bicycle, or even kicking your heels towards your rear end with a sharply bent knee, you won't go anywhere.  You need to straighten out, point your toes, and use the bottom and top of your feet to really push the water away. I will often have students sit on the edge of the pool and practice different types of kicks to "race" and see who can "push" a float away from the wall the fastest. Is there an area of your life where you're floundering? Are you working hard and going nowhere? Maybe try looking at what you're doing from a different perspective and try coming at the problem from a slightly different angle (pushing instead of pulling, or working together on a team).
On a final note, water safety is always important in the summer. I won't apply this to real life, but prevention is the # 1 way to keep your kids safe this summer. If it's been awhile or you're at a new pool, go over the basic rules, show them how to enter/exit the water safely and make sure they know where the deep sections are and just as importantly where the shallow ends are so they don't jump off the wall into a 2 foot section of the pool. Make sure there is no running, no glass containers, and bring plenty of water and snacks. Make sure kids and adults know not to go in after a floundering swimmer unless they've been trained (or the swimmer is unconscious), instead grab a towel or noodle and perform a reaching or throwing assist. Enjoy your summer!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Saving and Spending

My oldest son turns 5 in August. He's growing by leaps and bounds. He "went for a run" with his dad this weekend for over a mile, although I've been told that they walked most of the way. He also is about to learn his first spending and saving lesson (maybe).

He fell in love with a giant "funny ball" in the Aldi's ad (it's 51 inches in diameter and cost $29.99). Since we had just bought a water play toy AND a red wagon, I vetoed the purchase. He REALLY wanted it though. Enough that he picked up and vacuumed the living room by himself to earn $1 towards it.

So, my husband and I had a discussion. because Aldi's normally only carries a limited amount of these toys, so by the time he earned $30 for it, it wouldn't be available anymore. Plus he's not even 5 yet, so is it realistic to make him wait as long as it would take him to "earn" the money. On the other hand, we really didn't want to spend the $30 on a toy that we don't think he's really going to enjoy that much and might break quickly. But, he did sleep with the ad. And he took it to Vacation Bible School.

So after some discussion, we purchased the toy while he was at Vacation Bible School and put it in our closet. So far he hasn't mentioned it since Vacation Bible School and he came home without the ad. So, if he forgets about it, we can still return it to Aldi's since I've kept the receipt. If he remembers, we're going to give him 2 weeks of "earning" towards the toy and then allow him to purchase it with his "savings" (he already has $5 saved up, and we figure if he does about one chore a day for 2 weeks, we can chip in to "share" the purchase with him at that time).

The lesson he learns will either be:

  1. He didn't want it that much and so he didn't buy it.
  2. He really wanted something and worked hard, and was able to purchase it.
  3. Or, he really wanted something and worked hard and spent all his money and it was a foolish purchase.
Check back in a few weeks to see how it turns out. I'm interested to see it myself.

It's actually a pretty good price, because the ball is $50 at Amazon.