Monday, November 23, 2009

In All Things

Jon and I were at church on Sunday and the message, oddly enough, was on thankfulness. It was a great message, challenging and affirming. Straight from the Bible (with a little gratuitous narrative stuck into the account of the healing of the ten lepers--I personally believe the Bible can stand on its own without elaboration but, hey, that's just me) with a good balance of teaching, exhortation, and application. I've been going to church since birth, I'm a preacher's kid who married a preacher's kid, and I've got a Christian university education with a minor in Bible so I feel that I'm at least somewhat qualified to judge a sermon on an objective basis. And this was a good one.

At the very end of the message, Pastor Don threw out a challenge. He suggested that we all write down ten things that we are thankful for, including one thing that is rough or difficult in our lives. So far, so good. I can handle that. Then came the kicker. He wants us to complete this exercise every day from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Day. EVERY DAY! Ten things! Including one per day that is rough or difficult and not transparently something for which one would give thanks! That's, like, three hundred things! Thirty of which are supposed to be toughies! Sheesh!

Well, we're gonna try. Jon and I talked about it and we're a little wimpy because we've decided to come up with our daily ten things together. We figure, two minds are better than one, right?

Honestly, I have no idea if we'll get through this. But we're gonna give it a try.

First Thessalonians 5: 18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." The circumstances themselves aren't necessarily His will. I'm no Calvinist and I believe that many of the things that happen in this life just happen. Not because they were meant to happen or predestined to happen but because life is life. Stuff just happens. But it is His will that I find a way to give thanks in any situation in which I find myself. These are the toughies. And I'm gonna have to come up with one a day from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Day. Jon and me, giving thanks in all things. Not just the easy ones.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kid Art

One of my pet peeves is the way children's artwork is depicted on tv. I've seen many a movie or tv program that shows a six year-old at a table (in the kitchen, at school, in the police station, etc), hunched over a piece of paper, carefully drawing a picture. That part is fine. Most six year-olds love to draw and take the whole process very seriously. It's the finished product that gets me. The pictures attributed to six year-olds in movies or on tv are nothing like the art a six year-old actually produces. Seriously, kids just don't draw like that!

Now, me? I work with six year-olds. I know how they draw and what their pictures look like. And I don't see any problem in validating six year-olds and their art by, oh, I don't know, actually letting a six year-old draw the pictures for the movie or tv show!

Here's a sample of actual six year-old artwork. It was drawn by one of my students and she took the whole process very seriously. We had read the book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, and now the kids were drawing pictures of their favorite part of the book. (This is speech therapy--we do more talking and drawing than writing.) This little munchkin kept referring back to the book and adding details here and there. The finished product is classic six year-old art. Including the hand-blocked title. (I hate it when kids do that; it takes forever and is a complete time-waster. But she really wanted to do it and I caved.)

See? How great is that? There's the mouse; he's wearing his overalls just like he does in the book. The boy is sitting on the rock with his book and cookie bag beside him and he's handing a cookie to the mouse. You can see the house indicated by an elaborate front door. The whole thing just makes me feel happy! Yep, this is six year-old art. This is the real deal. Not like that faux six year-old art that keeps popping up in movies or on tv.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

I sat at the breakfast table last Sunday morning, quietly weeping as I read a newspaper article called "Bringing Michael Home." The article told of the return of Army Spc. Michael Dahl Jr's body to his hometown, after Spc. Dahl had been killed in Afghanistan. It was a sad but beautiful story. The honor given to this soldier at his passing and the support given to his family was just as it should be for those who die in the service of our country.

But I think too easily we forget that most who serve our country at home and abroad do not die in that service. Instead, they ride in a dusty armored vehicle, scanning the horizon for trouble. They work on base, quietly doing small tasks to forward the mission of the armed forces. They come home on leave, with stories to tell or not tell. They linger in VA hospitals, the young and injured beside the old and infirm.

Yes, we should give special honor to the beloved dead who died while serving. But this is not Memorial Day. This is Veteran's Day, a day to also give special honor to those who live while serving. And my small contribution to this day was to teach some of my students what it means to be a veteran.

One of the biggest regrets of Jon's life was that his eyesight wasn't good enough for him to try to become a Navy pilot. He gave serious consideration to working toward becoming a RIO and took the test for Officer Candidate School, and did very well. But, in the end, he decided to stick with education. He's never lost his love of planes, however, and our nephew Luke seems to share his fascination. I love the photo of the two of them sitting on a bench, Luke eating a snack and Jon demonstrating the job of a ball turret gunner.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cool, Old Parents

I am home from work. Again. Recovering from minor surgery. Sheesh, I'm only 37 but this has not been my year for good health. I've got an appointment later this month with a nurse practitioner, who is part owner of a women's medical practice in Palm Springs, to discuss conception options. I hate that I have this appointment. I hate that I have to discuss conception options with anyone but, well, Jon. I'm afraid that, even if I get pregnant and we have a baby, we're going to be these sad, old, decrepit parents. Too tired to be fun.

But then I was checking out Tara Whitney's blog. If I ever get pregnant, I am going to fork over the bucks and get a photo session with her. And Jon is going to have to suck it up and do it with me! Anyway, I was reading Tara's blog and I came across the photos of this incredibly happy family and then I noticed that the dad has grey hair. Grey hair! And their youngest kid is still pretty young! And they don't look sad or decrepit at all. They look cool.

So, thanks Cirjak parents. I'm not saying that you look old, or anything, but there is that grey hair. The important thing, however, is that you look cool. And vibrant. And full of joy and happiness with those three kids.

Maybe someday Jon and I will be the cool, old parents. Yeah, I think we could work with that!