She blinded me with science!

This post’s title is not just a song lyric anymore, at least not to me.  After reading a dear friend’s blog on her choice to accept Christ after being raised Jewish, my daughter made a profound statement although at 6 years of age, she has yet to realize the true significance of what she said.  This amazing woman wrote about having to reconcile the One God with the trinity and the way she came to realize they were One and the Same was through the different phases of water.  God became ice, Jesus is water, and the Spirit is steam.  Science came to her rescue, she wrote.  After reading this incredible statement to my family, my 9 year old thought it made perfect sense and my 6 year old daughter said: “That’s probably the best way to describe God, with science.” Such a simple statement, so deep in it’s layers of interpretation.

Christianity is so many times at odds with science, or so it would seem by the many scientific, anti-Christian Facebook pages out there, let alone comments by people “proving” again and again how there is no evidence of God and with no explanation or physical effects which can be recorded or controlled. When my children ask me something we cannot fathom, why did God choose blue for the sky or why does God allow suffering, (just the basic questions you understand), I respond with scientific reasons for the blue and other generic inquiries and then I say I don’t know to the other questions about pain and evil because I really don’t know. I don’t leave it there either. We talk about how many things we don’t understand but the one thing we do know and understand and feel and take joy in is that He is in control. He goes before us and after us and He’s there in the middle too. What do I tell me children about the stuff I don’t understand? Some people think it’s a copout but, I say, “I don’t know and I’m okay with that.” Both my children were shocked at first because they know just how curious I am about absolutely everything. I tell them if I knew all the answers, then I would be God, and I don’t want that job! It’s too big and I’m not that confident! I tell them I don’t want a God I can fully understand. He is majestic and omniscient and powerful. He is infinite and I am finite. He is the Ancient of Days. It doesn’t get any more real than that.

What do you tell your children when they ask the hard questions? Where does your faith lie?

Who do you recommend?

If you’re reading this, you are digitally adept (or addicted), and so have definitely heard and seen Dove’s latest natural beauty marketing ploy about the forensic artist they hired to pull out different facets of the same woman in two different portraits.   For the sake of clarity, let me explain the experience. One side of the final dual portrait as it turns out, is the harsh reality as seen by the owner of the face being portrayed and the other is the face as described by a strangers’ interpretation after 5 minutes of friendly interaction. The shock of the women as they drink in the obvious kindness showed to them by others with no investment in them as compared to the harsh scrutiny they subjected themselves to is, as planned by the company, deeply moving. The question I want to focus on is why the reaction is so extreme, let alone the portraits.

Why do we constantly sell ourselves short? In school, I used to do the minimum amount of work so no one would expect too much of me and everything would stay easy, I would stay camouflaged and not stand out and not disappoint. I’m not proud of it, yet it’s a fact. Do we talk up our negatives so as not to disappoint others and provide a scenario where the only way is up? Or do we self deprecate because we are fishing for compliments or advice to make us feel better? It can be hard to be honest about the real reason we can’t own up to our own fabulousness, whatever brand it may be, whatever form it may take. Maybe you are suffering from years of hostile talk around your home and you are merely repeating what you heard so often you felt you had no choice to believe or not believe, it was ingrained in your psyche. Perhaps someone down played your own talents or passions to make themselves feel better or look more glamorous. Lastly, one of the hardest culprits to face down is the stark reality some people discover (or spend years hiding away through deflection), they are actually afraid of succeeding. What happens when the spotlight shines so bright, a person burns out? It’s hard to think you have reached a public place where you have proven yourself so hard for so long. Is the only progress from here on out actually down and out? Who wants to fade into obscurity? So, what’s the cure? How do we know what we feel inside, I’m talking about the good stuff, the passion, the talents, the gifts, etc., is worth sharing with the world, is worth the risk? I have an idea for a remedy.

When you want a job, what does any company worth working for require? Personal letters of recommendation, right? And, they’re not from casual acquaintances, you have to have at least a 5 year connection with them, the longer the better actually, other than family. It can be hard to ask for those golden tickets, unless you know for sure what is going to be inside. Plus those people might actually be called and have to back up what they wrote, it tends to increase the honesty of the letters. So, you choose someone who you know well enough to ask and maybe set up a little, program their layout, if you will. You make sure they know something along the lines of what job you are going for, what highlights you would like them to mention which would most benefit your career at this company, etc. So, here’s my challenge for you. Ask a friend, who’s known you at least 5 years, who isn’t family, to write a letter of recommendation. The job? Contributor to the human race. Specifics they should focus on would be what strengths you possess that make you a positive influence on the world around you. Oh, and ask them to seal it in an envelope. Here’s the caveat. You can’t read it. Yet. Your next goal is to write your own letter of recommendation, one for yourself and one for that friend, sealed in envelopes. Ask them to do the same, after they’ve written yours, before you switch envelopes. The tricky part is to be truthful and sincere, not fake or trying too hard. In letters of recommendation, we tend to exaggerate and talk up our abilities. What if your own self recommendation were to match what your long time friend wrote in all earnest intention?

Take me up on this challenge and I’m willing to bet you will be pleasantly surprised. Either your letters will match or you will find out facets of your personality and character which shine through to others you never even noticed were visible! If somehow you find out a flaw by some weird circumstance, all the better to know now! I would love to hear feedback on what you found out. This could start a whole new trend of encouragement! Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big! In fact, don’t stop there! Start writing letters of recommendation for other friends! Let them know their worth, how they stack up, what they do that makes you want to hang around them and walk away better for having spent time with them! Okay, go, write, then come back and tell me what happened!

Power to the parent!

I just read an article, “The child, the tablet and the developing mind” on New York Times’ website.  It attempts to offer education on tablets and their effect on young children.  While the scientific information may be accurate, I’m still quite enraged by the stand alone interjection by the author, Nick Bilton, which reads:  “Parents who have little choice but to hand over their iPad can at least control what a child does on those devices.”  Little choice?  Way to rob the parents of their ability to make conscious choices!  While this is written by a man who’s family status I know nothing of, I wonder how he wanted this sentence to be perceived.  Is he being supportive of his sister, who he writes about handing over 2 tablets to her children so they, (the adults) could eat in peace at a restaurant but, then feels guilty for pacifying them with electronics?  Does he truly see parents as being so lacking in creative resources, they must bow deferentially to the screen age?  Maybe this touched a nerve since just yesterday at a pharmacy, a man sat down to wait for his order to be filled and immediately pulled out 2 electronic devices for his 5 and 7 year old children to play with, while he played with his own device, and none of them engaged with each other for the next 20 minutes.  It was as if there were 3 little planets, all in their own orbit.

I see screens mounted on strollers, babies grabbing at iphones and parents getting mad when they are thrown across the room.

My son plays video games, and plays on my phone, and plays on a Nook at my parent’s house.  My daughter is way less interested in all of it.  They both watch television, and on occasion, more than the recommended daily limit.  This all counts as screen time.  I limit it.  I choose what he gets to play, or what she gets to watch and how long, and when.  At the table, when we are eating, be it casually at the counter or at a formal family dinner, like this past Easter Sunday with 10 people, there are no electronics for anyone!  Phones are set aside, if they want to contribute to the conversation they are welcome to and encouraged to do so, if they want to mess around, they will be reminded of what is expected of them, and if there is adult conversation happening,(which means over their head not inappropriate), then they may sit quietly and ponder their navels or ask questions to understand what is being said, and they will learn to accept it when they are told it is “adult conversation”.  There have been many times over the past 9 and a half years where I have been out of the loop on conversations at the table because I was instructing my children on what to do, how to act, etc.  Guess what, that’s my job!  I have turned down many meals at many places because I know what sort of environment my children are able to be in and for what amount of time.  Contrary to popular belief, not every restaurant welcomes children, and they shouldn’t feel like they have to cater to family dining.  I’m not offended by them at all, to me that means I look forward to a date night with my husband there, where I hope other families have been just as respectful.

Do you have similar rules about etiquette, different? I would love to hear about them. It takes a village, people!

Do you read to ingest or just escape?

I love words.  From the archaic to the verbose.   I’ve even been known to create a word on occasion when I just feel the description deserves it’s own dedicated verbiage.  I love being able to weave a tapestry of emotion, sight and, sound for the reader or listener, by using words that evoke whatever emotion or scene I am feeling or want to portray through my story at the time.  Some parents read stories to their children at bedtime and I do that as well but, my favorite nights are when they ask for a made up story from Mama!  Each child thinks up 2-3 characters either from other books or movies or made up out of their own imagination, and I mix them all together in anything from a one night heroic mission to a week long epic saga of adventure and tried and tested moral fortitude!  I would almost like to have a recorder going some nights but, they are rather private moments together, just our little trio of troubadours. Some day perhaps I’ll attempt to share the countless stories I’ve written with some publisher but, should they never make it into print, it would not affect the impact and unplugged joy they have brought to my family.  Mostly they’re created for my children and myself, an outlet of creativity, and a bond, not to mention it helps with their memorization skills.  Occasionally, we get Dad involved as well. We all go around and around, starting with one sentence and each adding our own piece of the action.

 I am however, constantly on the lookout for others who catch me off guard with a sentence or a phrase which changes my perspective on any given subject.  Today, it happened on Facebook.  I was reading yet another status update and suddenly, I was struck by the description this woman used to convey her experience of how she reads her Bible.

She wrote,:  “One verse that I savor, letting it sink deep…interrupting me, rearranging me, redirecting me”. Lysa TerKeurst with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  That’s powerful imagery right there!  It evokes in me a visual of her inner most thoughts actually changing and being altered by the living Word! It’s called that for a reason, right?  I get from her words, she is allowing herself to feel challenged and affected,  led and educated, her priorities rescheduled.  What an inspirational sentence!  It makes me want that too!  I read plenty to escape or educate.  I ask so many questions and devour knowledge from well written books, (and some not so well written), like a well prepared mutiple course meal, savoring each page as if it has been created just for me.  Yet, when I seek transformation of my mind, a shuffling of my chaotic world order, I find it in verses I’ve memorized, pages I’ve read from a God breathed manuscript of many different authors and one Editor.

What challenges you? Do you allow anything to penetrate so deeply, it changes you internally?

Pain is so close to pleasure.

Please tell me someone started singing the song of the same title, in Freddie Mercury’s voice?  I know there are more Queen nuts out there like me!  People who have every word of Highlander memorized, the way others have Top Gun somewhere inappropriately close to their heart for an inanimate object that can’t possibly love us back?  That whole movie should be so depressing, (Highlander that is, Top Gun is just sappy), what with the immortal’s search for love and acceptance, only to survive infinite eons of pain and suffering.  Yet, it is triumphant to see how he copes with continual loss, he chooses to love and love again, carrying mementos of those times in his life so he can relive what he lost but, in the most reverent of ways.

When we are suffering, that’s when time slows down to a crawl, and when we’re experiencing great joy, we remember it in slow motion as well. This weekend I heard two 9 year old girls saying they wished they could speed up the week and slow down the weekend, so it’s not just adults who are aware of the speed of joy and the agonizing slow motion of displeasure or pain! Our brains constantly pick apart those moments that affect us the most, either for the ecstasy of the moment to remain fresh, or to understand why the pain was so acute so we can learn from it and prevent it from happening again. At least in the best of circumstances.  Still, there are a few who splash around in the painful moments, because they know no opposite end of the spectrum.  I know that my greatest joys are multiplied exponentially because of the depth of pain I have suffered.  Being at the lowest of lows, when someone else made me the object of their pain and fear, allows me to truly value and splash around in the miraculous pleasure of a simple unexpected kiss from my child.  Elevating myself from a place of hurting myself to a place where I have the ability of looking around at all the amazing triumphs and successes of my present, makes those successes all the sweeter!

I shared with someone today, who needed to hear a message of hope, it’s not that I can no longer remember the pain and suffering, I can recall it almost as if it happened yesterday, even though it has been more than a decade, almost two!  It is that I can now look back on it and not have it hurt so much, I can look back and wonder at why I thought hurting myself was the only way to cope that made any sense!  I shared with someone else today, who needed a word of encouragement, how amazing her journey has been, how in awe I was of their strength and development and overall character!

How easy it is to lift someone up with just a thought spoken out loud. We can be so quick to judge the negative and correct the faults, why not catch someone at a vulnerable time and sincerely compliment them from the heart?

Who can you encourage today? How about right now, through a phone call, a text, a Facebook message?

Fairy tales, fractured or otherwise?

How many times do we believe the fairy tale? Innocent girl suffers heinous injustice completely out of her control, only to be whisked away by absurdly successful, larger than life prince. How many people do you envy for living (you assume from your vantage point in the cinders), in a fairy tale?   Do you think the fairy tale will never happen for you?   There was a brief series of fractured fairytales on television put on by Shelley Duvall in the ’80’s. Famous actors of the day such as Robin Williams, among others played out happily ever afters…with a twist. They were humorous in their absurdity as well as their plausibility. I know many women living like Cinderella today…some before the ball, some after the shoe fit.  We all go through phases, call it paying your dues, living with your choices, reaping what you sow, everything has been reduced to taglines these days, or so it would seem.  I would challenge you to examine where you are right now.  Are you down in the trenches working hard towards worthy goals or, are you living with someone else’s choices and stuck in a middle ground of waiting on the opportunity to escape and follow your own path?  What is the long term consequence of where you are right now?  Do you look ahead and see a road leading to your version of the big castle, whether it be literal or figurative, complete with perfect happiness?  Would you be content to be content instead? Contemplate the difference of happily ever after vs. contentment.  If the opposite of happy is sad, does it place an awful burden on yourself to be happy your whole life?  Is being content a more realistic goal?  To be content means to me, there will be ups and downs, good and bad, yet I will stay constant through it all.  For me, I never dreamed of being Cinderella although there have been many times, I have knelt on the floor scrubbing away and felt her pain!  I did not dream of my prince rescuing me or the big wedding dress or any of that  whole package as portrayed in the story.  It was simply a story.  Now I have a daughter who has yet to see it and began talking about whom she would marry in preschool, complete with mock ceremony!  I cannot relate but, I relish her enthusiasm and, it has become a great way to communicate to her our family values and what to expect and what not to tolerate, etc.  Whatever your fairy tale, make it yours, don’t follow someone else’s format for your life.  Your story has already been written with the best possible outcome and, with God as the Author and Finisher of our faith, as long as your version of the story involves Him, I guarantee you won’t have a midnight curfew or end up as a pumpkin but, it will have a twist.