Category Archives: Religion

Some Brief Thoughts on: Education, Gwyneth Paltrow and World Vision

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Things were very quiet here on the blog last week.  I was around but, I was quite crazy from a lack of sleep due to my 7 – year – old’s month-long bout with insomnia.  As you can imagine, when your child can’t get to sleep or stay asleep, you don’t get to sleep much either.  Some nights we slept a total of two hours and by last week it had all caught up with me.  I was pretty much incapable of carrying on a conversation for longer than five minutes so, obviously writing blog posts was out of the question.  However, I did keep up on things as they happened in social media and there were a few (just a few) that captured my attention, albeit briefly.  I’m not going to pretend that this post is going to eloquently tie all of my thoughts together because it’s not. You’re just going to have to go along for the ride, But first, a little more on Thing 1’s insomnia.

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I have to say that it is extremely frightening when a child is begging for sleep, but simply can’t get there, or stay there, night after night and week after week. My husband and I had never dealt with this before with any of our other children and were at a loss as to how to help her get some rest.  Thing 1 is an extremely active girl who dances two hours a night, three days a week and does gymnastics two days a week.  We limited sugar in her diet, changed her eating patterns and her bed time routing to help soothe her.  She would sit up and read for hours in her bed.   None of this worked.  Finally, while taking her to the doctor for her asthma check up, I found out the real source of the problem: school.  The girl was stressing out about school – in second grade.  She admitted to waking up in the middle of the night worried that she hadn’t double checked her math work.  She worried about not having enough time to finish an assignment.  She didn’t want any of her grades to suffer because of silly mistakes.  She’s a stressed out seven-year-old and I am heart-broken.  School isn’t supposed to be this way for a child so young.  Don’t worry, I’m not about to go on a tirade about Common Core, the problem with education (although I do have a few thoughts on both of those subjects) blah, blah, blah.  I will do that another time, but, what I will say is that there is less of a focus on how well students are learning and instead more of a focus on learning the right things to perform well on standardized testing.  We are pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing to the detriment of our children’s peace of mind.  And, for what? So that they can regurgitate math facts in record time.  Tell me this, when in your life (after elementary school) are you hard pressed to recite your multiplication tables up to the 12’s in less than 2 minutes?  I’ll tell you when…NEVER!  Isn’t it just more important that the student understands what she’s doing, how she get’s to the answer and how it all relates to the next level of math or science, or geography, or whatever?  Do we really need to express to their little fertile minds how important it is for them to do well on a standardized test or they may be held back in the same grade the next year?   The fact that this could be true is completely ridiculous.  Learning is supposed to be fun!  School is supposed to be an adventure!  I said as much to Thing 1 and made it clear that nothing she is doing could make me any less proud of her.  Even if she did forget to check her math before she turned it in, there’s always tomorrow to get it right.  The important thing is that we work hard and in return you get to see the fruits of your hard work.  Our efforts may not always result in an “A” or even a “B”, however we will LEARN something, which is the goal of education.  Thing 1 took it all in and relaxed a bit, then that night she slept.  She has slept all night every night for the past week.  So have I and I’m finally almost human again. Almost.

Awkward transition…I told you this wasn’t go to be easy.

I was saddened, but not necessarily surprised to hear that actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin are “consciously uncoupling” (i.e divorcing). Honestly, initially I thought that the term “consciously uncoupling” meant that they had really made an extraordinary and thoughtful effort to maintain their parental and familial devotion to their children while no longer staying in their marriage.  Then I read the real explaination and was like “Huh!  Okay.”  Anyway, shortly after the announcement of their split, Paltrow gave an interview to E!  in which she bemoans the difficulties of being a celebrity/actress parent.
She so eloquently (I’m being very sarcastic here) explains how moms who work the regular 9 to 5 grind have it easier than folks like her.  Okay, I’m pausing right now to let you stop laughing – especially those of you moms who are at your 9 to 5 reading this while you make your grocery list.  You see, to her it’s most stressful to have your family uprooted and relocated to the location of her latest movie for weeks or months at a time.  Or even, if the family doesn’t have to accompany her, she is separated from her loved ones.  Yes, I get that the separation part can be unpleasant, but really Gwyneth?  You think that your life with all of your nannies, personal chefs, private jets, personal assistants and the like is harder? Cause I know when I travel and I take our nanny and my personal assistant with us it makes things so much easier!  Wait, what am I talking about? I don’t have a nanny and personal assistant and most people don’t  either!  We do all of that $%#& ourselves! When we move for a job, we get our neighbors to pack our U-Haul, drive our selves to our new location and pray that we can afford a house in a decent school district. Come on Gwyneth, step out of that privilege that you’ve spent your life surround by and get a grip!  Working a “regular” job, with “regular” pay doesn’t provide any of the perks that you live with on a daily basis.  Before and after work (and sometimes during) we are being moms and the scheduling of our lives to accommodate our jobs is simply out of necessity.  We need these “regular” jobs to pay our “regular” bills and just a few indulgences.  Like an evening at the movies to possibly watch you…but probably not.  Gwyneth, I think that I speak for a lot of non-actress/celebrity moms when I say just stop it!

Another awkward transition…sorry this is getting long, but I have to make sure that you get me.

Last week the Christian relief agency World Vision International announced that in a dramatic change of policy, it would begin hiring Christians in same-sex marriages. The organization said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it really wasn’t stepping into the fray of whether same-sex marriage was right or wrong.  It was simply accepting the help of homosexual, committed believers who wanted to be of service in this manner.  What happened next is what I want to talk about.  In the face of the policy shift, reportedly thousands of donors who supported children in need through World Vision cancelled their sponsorship.  Just one day later, World Vision reversed its decision and rescinded its welcome to the LGBT community and apologized to any current or former donors that may have been hurt by their (brief) change in policy.  Again, my comments here are not about World Vision itself, but about the thousands of people (Christians) who dropped their sponsorship.  I have to wonder what the motivation was behind your donations in the first place if these children in need could be treated like collateral damage.  If you are unfamiliar with the term collateral damage it is damage or destruction to things that are incidental to the intended target.  Let me just be clear here, I am a Jesus lover.  A Christian. A woman after God’s own heart.  I am not ashamed to identify myself as a follower of Christ, but I am embarrassed to align myself with those who could be so callous and thoughtless that dropping the child seemed like a good idea. Nelson Mandela was a master at partnering with people with whom he may have openly disagreed with on  several issues, however, he found the one thing that they agreed on to work toward a common goal.   That’s what this is about – a humanitarian effort to work toward a common goal for people in need.  What this is NOT is a flagpole for Christianity.  You don’t participate to make yourself look good, you participate to help someone in need.

Let me ask you, if your loved one were dying and the only doctor who could provide the cure was gay, would you refuse his or her help?  If your child was in need of a blood transfusion or an organ transplant, would you say only heterosexual donors need apply?  I’ve got to tell you, there are probably already members of the LGBT community quietly working for World Vision and other organizations that we, Christians, support.  That’s the thing, gay people are human and they live and work right next to us and often, we have no idea.  I found it interesting that while World Vision was apologizing for any hurt that they may have caused to their Christian supporters by the brief change in policy, they didn’t apologize to the LGBT community for the hurt that they caused them. This is so ugly.  We are behaving so very ugly.  There has to be a better way.  I could go on and on about this, but I think you get where I’m coming from.

 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”    John 13:35

 

 

Preparing for the New Arrival

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In those last weeks leading up to the birth of a new baby, every expectant mother spends more than a bit of time preparing for the birth of her baby.  She’s nesting.  Cleaning and painting the nursery, picking out the perfect decorating theme for the room and stocking up on all of the necessities.  I won’t talk about all of those things that I considered necessary that no one else did.  My favorite part was buying all of the tiny clothes and, oh…those shoes!  Babies really don’t need shoes because obviously, they can’t walk, but it’s my weakness.  Tiny nail clippers, pacifiers, body lotions and butt-rash potions!  I loved it all, every single time because it was all a part of preparing to bring home my new son or daughter.   Like you,  I had spent the majority of my pregnancy day dreaming about what kind of person I thought my child would be.  Would he love science and technology or lean more towards the arts.  Would she be tall or short? Would his or her talent lie in his athletic prowess or was he or she to be a great thinker.  Yes, I got very deep even before I had given birth.

This time of year, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, my mind always wanders back to his mother, Mary.  The circumstances surrounding her pregnancy and His birth were extraordinary, but I think that she and Joseph were probably very ordinary people.  Ordinary people of extraordinary faith.  I wonder what was going through her mind as she and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem?  Was she apprehensive or nervous?  Was she looking forward to kissing her baby’s little feet and staring into his eyes?  Was she at all frightened?  If so, it would be understandable.  After all, in addition to the back aches, constantly full bladder and swollen feet, her child was to save His people from their sins.  As much as I  like to think that every child that I’ve given birth to is something special (and of course they are because they are mine), Mary’s child was indeed very  special.

I doubt that either Mary or Joseph had any idea just how the birth of their son would affect mankind.  Yes, the angel told her that he was to be the savior, but there is no way that they could have grasped the enormity of that in its totality.  It’s probably better that way because no mother would want to know the weight that her son would carry.   Even if it was all part of God’s plan.  Very little is written about Mary after the birth of Jesus so, we really don’t know much about how she and Joseph managed as they raised their son.   However, we do know that Mary was obedient and joyfully served the Lord.  We know that whatever fears that she may have had as an expectant first time mother, she put her trust in God and moved forward in Him.  Kind of awesome, huh?

On behalf of Big Poppa and the Crew, we wish you and all of your loved ones a very merry and blessed Christmas.♥

Finding My Christmas Spirit

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I’ve been having a hard time with the holidays this year.  Thanksgiving was nice but, very low-key. All of the food was there, but not nearly the same amount of enthusiasm on my part.  Now it’s on to Christmas and I’ve been feeling pretty much the same way in anticipation.  There are a couple of snowmen lying about, but no tree, no twinkling lights and no, no presents.  Don’t worry, I’ll get there, hopefully before Christmas Eve.  I guess the best way to describe how I’ve been feeling is like I’m disconnected from Christmas.  Like I’ve lost my focus. There is no joy in the anticipation of the next stress filled weeks trying to get packages sent, cookies made and hoping that I have picked out the perfect gift. I am not looking forward to hunting down that elusive “Beauty House” that Thing 2 wants. Does anyone out there even know what that is? Please, help me.

I don’t blog much about religion, yet I think that I have made no secret that I’m a Christian.  For those of you that aren’t, I can respect that, but I’m going to ask you to indulge me for a few moments.  I need to tell you about a conversation that I had with my two young daughters that had a profound impact on my bad case of Christmas Blues. And, it’s not just about the celebration of Christ’s birth, but also about how we, Christians, need to respond to others.

After school, Thing 1 told me about a friend of hers who believes in God, but not Jesus.  “Mom, he said that there is a God, but not Jesus.  Is that true?”

“No, that’s not true,” I responded.

“Then why would he say that?”

“Because some people have different beliefs and different religions.”

“Why?”

Why? Usually, I don’t like that question because it’s never-ending. However, this time I welcomed a deeper conversation because it gave me a chance to not only educate my children, but to sow seeds of love.  Notice I didn’t say to sow seeds of “tolerance”?  I don’t care for that whole “tolerance” campaign, but that’s another blog post for another time. Anyway, it was about that time when Thing 2 piped up and said that she has a friend whose mommy doesn’t love God.  “Yes,” I said “There are people who don’t believe in anything.  Not God and not Jesus. How do you feel about that?”

They thought for a moment then Thing 1 said “Sad. Like they’re missing something”

“Well, they may feel the same way about you. How did you respond to your friend?”

“Oh, I told him to read his Bible and it would tell him all about Jesus, but he didn’t even know what a Bible was. So, I told him that I’d bring mine tomorrow and read to him about Jesus.”

“Was he cool with that?”

“Yes.  Then we went and played on the monkey bars.”

They played together.  I’m fairly sure that if that had been an equivalent conversation between adults of different religions, it would not have ended with them playing together on the monkey bars.  I love the fact that she is confident enough in what she believes that she didn’t feel threatened or get defensive and she wanted to share it with someone else.

Just before bed I asked my girls if they thought it was okay to be friends with people of different religions and even people who don’t believe in God at all.  Thing 2 looked at me like I had three heads and said “Of course it is!  God is about love!  He loves everybody! So how can you love God and not play with everybody?!”  It’s amazing to me how children can see things so clearly that adults get screwed up all of the time.  No need for separation and isolation.  No denouncing or demonizing.  Just go forth respectfully and show some love.  I think I’m ready for Christmas now.

Faith

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Romans 4: 20 - 22

*This post is in response to the blog link up on Champagne to Crayons, Day 22: Faith, Celebrating 28 days of Thanks. If you would like to read more posts from my fellow bloggers, click here.