Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lost...and Found

Recently, our church started a study of Prodigal God.  Whenever I have thought of was always the Prodigal Son from Luke 15 in the Bible.  I always thought it meant the youngest son took all his inheritance, left home, spent it unwisely and then returned home. I thought the Prodigal part was the boy returning home.  As we're preparing for the study, I was thinking how is God a Prodigal then? I figured it is God welcoming us home after we have messed up.  And it is.  But, it is also so much more.

Prodigal ( characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure : lavishrecklessly spendthriftyielding abundantly : luxuriant

Using the above definitions, I can see how we have a Prodigal God.  God is willing to lavishly and abundantly expend time and energy in finding us and helping us find our way back to Him.  I don't believe that He thinks it is wasteful because since we are made in His image, we are worth finding!

Luke 15 is about a lost animal, lost coin and a lost son. Luke 15 Bible Gateway
3 Parables (stories) The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and the Lost Son
Jesus was talking to "tax collectors and sinners", but there were also religious people there.  Jesus talked about looking for the lost.  In both the lost sheep and lost coin, only 1 was lost.  The 99 sheep and the other 9 coins were accounted for.  However, in both stories, Jesus said there was much rejoicing over finding what was lost.  Many will find what God offers.  Some He searches after relentlessly waiting for them to be found and then there is much rejoicing.

More than likely, the son had a good life with his father.  However, he thought he knew better and there was more fun to be had off the farm. He wanted to experience life in the big city.  He took what by custom would be his later and went on his merry way.  After some hard living, partying and spending all his money, he realized he had been treated better at home.  He makes the tough decision to leave his pride behind and go home.

Even when the son is far off, the father sees him and runs out to greet him.  The son returns begging to be even a hired hand, but the father returns him to full son status.  The older brother is none too happy and lets his dad know it.  The father shares why he welcomes his young son home:

Luke 15:31-32 (NIV) “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

How about you?  Do you feel lost and like life could be better elsewhere?  Maybe you've been living in the big city and you're reaching rock bottom and realizing you should go home but you're worried about how you'll be received.   God shows and tells us many ways in the Bible that He searches and longs for us to return to Him.  He wants us to be found.

Praying today that any questions that are standing in your way will be answered.  That you will know you are loved and have been searched for and bought at a great cost.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bye, bye Bionicles......

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.   1 Corinthians 13:11

I knew the day would come, but I wasn't ready for it to be now.  I didn't know it would bother me so much.  I've heard other mothers recall how they moved toward this period of time in their own child's life.  I wasn't prepared to feel sad and happy all at the same time or for the same reason.  Our kids are growing up....and eventually moving on.

The sign that I've noticed most recently is toys they used to LOVE to play with are starting to be stored or sold or given away. As video games became more popular, the toys our kids played with stayed put away longer and longer.  Usually, however, their most favorite were left displayed somewhere in their room.  The Bionicles (Lego robot looking things) our son wanted so badly and collected when he was younger were recently removed from his shelf and put in a box.  I think what made me notice the most is he didn't seem sad about it....just another day.  I don't know if he realized how symbolic it is.

For me, it symbolized him putting away the toys from his childhood to make room for the things that make him seem so much more grown up.  Laptops, X-box, Wii, etc.  Maybe I should have been more surprised that it took him this long to want to make more room for the things he now likes to do.

I think part of what I miss is the creative play.  It seems the newest video games, TV shows, etc. don't encourage us to think on our own.  The solution is usually presented within the time limit.  It does not usually require our input.  It just resolves itself between the commercials and by the end?  The answer.  Bionicles required plans and putting the pieces together in the right way...or ignoring the directions, putting a whole bunch of kits together and seeing what emerged.  They were hands on like life should be.

I find it interesting that this verse is in the same chapter referred to as the "Love Chapter" and used in so many weddings.  It makes sense that references to growing up should follow.  Our son will continue to grow up whether I am ready for it or not.  Guess I should prepare myself because I know more of these moments are to come.  So for now, bye bye Bionicles.

As time continues to rocket forward at a speed I can no longer comprehend, I miss the little boy he was (and sometimes still is in my mind).  I admire the young man he is becoming.  I look forward to meeting the man he will be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Say what you mean....ASK!

Feeling kind of bummed.  Watching a special on PBS - ADD and Loving It.  It is about Adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  While I understand it, I don't always like it.  I love people, don't get me wrong.  It can just be frustrating to figure out where ADD (ADHD) starts.....and ends.  My brain doesn't always (rarely) thinks outside the box.  My family frequently lives outside the box.  Our brains are different.  Not better, not worse....just different.  AND I've been dealing with it for so long that sometimes I forget to use what works. 

I have been recently reminded to remember to probe around a situation that starts to get sticky.  I need to remember to ask about the thought process....or end result.  There is usually more to the story.  Actually, this is not only good advice for ADD.  It is great for kids (and some adults, smile) in general.

I think one of the best examples I can think of involves wings.  Costume wings for Halloween to be exact.  More years ago than I care to admit, my daughter asked me to make wings for a costume.  She picked awesome shimmery material.  I bent coat hangers.  Hand stitched the material around the hangers.  They turned out pretty awesome....if I do say so myself.  She liked them very much.  Costume party date for school approaches.  I come to help for the party.  She will NOT put on the wings.

I do the typical parent things.  Put them on says I.  No says she.  Back and forth.  This is really dumb as I look back on it, but I start to worry about the other kids will be wearing their costumes and she'll be walking around in her regular clothes.  What will other parents think?  Her mom is AT the party and her daughter's not wearing a costume, what's up with that?  

Finally, we're in the bathroom where kids were changing.  I ask WHY she doesn't want to wear them. She tells me she doesn't want to wear them.....because it had been raining and they might get wrecked. 

She is very black and white.  I have numerous shades of gray.  This has caused many clashes in our family.
I need to start asking why or what the thoughts are BEFORE I think she is just being defiant.  I need to realize that the extra time spent finding out more about the thought process actually saves time from frustration when we are both working toward different goals.  Also there are many times I am more worried about what others will think than about how she feels.

Lots to work on, but even just writing this out helps me remember that the frustration passes.  Sometimes we will be working toward the same thing, but there will be many times we will not.  How I choose to handle is going to a big part of how she learns to deal with other people.  Work in progress.....always.  Keep learning.  Remembering that at all times, love covers many family issues.....even ADD.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Different, not less

The title is a quote from the made for TV movie, Temple Grandin.  I picked it up at the library after seeing part of the Academy Awards.  There was a woman hugging the star of the movie.  Later, I found out that was the woman the movie was about.  The woman wore a cowboy type shirt.  The moment seemed a little different than what is normally shown on those award shows. The movie won quite a few awards.

My daughter watched it first and said it was good.  I later watched it with her.  I agree.  Through the movie and some further looking around on her website, etc., I discovered Ms. Grandin is autistic.  However, she is also a strong visual thinker and.....a PhD.  She thinks in pictures.  She was picked on mercilessly in school.  One of the things she would tell people is she was different, not less.  This is definitely true of Autism and other mental differences, but also for anyone.  We are each different from each other, but no one should be made to feel any less worthy than someone else.

I have the pleasure of serving on the parent advisory committee (PAC) for special education from our school district.  Many people don't even know there is such a thing.  I didn't.  I have learned a lot about special education....and the children they serve.  There are many misconceptions regarding special education and the children it is meant to serve. Pictures of the short bus or seperate classrooms may have flashed across your mind just from the mention of special ed.

As a parent, it is intimidating to go to a meeting where there are many school people there that seem to know more about your child than you do because of tests they have done.  Teachers and staff usually have numerous meetings in a day where it can be easy to forget that each parent needs to hear the same spiel they gave the last parents.   There is almost always an attempt to "mainstream" the special ed student.  This can be a good thing, however, it seems that we are trying to make that child conform to the "normal" way of thinking instead of learning more about how he/she learns best.  Sometimes it is just realizing that they may need to have things slowed down some to keep up.  It is difficult to watch children struggle or get picked on for something they cannot change.

I went to a conference that was aimed more at teachers, but also applied to parents.  There is an incredible number of hoops and reporting requirements that special ed teachers have to jump through.  I gained a whole new respect for the staff at our school and all schools.

If you have a special needs child or are a concerned parent, I urge you to remember that they may be different.  However, they deserve no less than our best when we work things out with school, home or trying to hit the ever  moving target of  "normal".  Normal is overrated. 

1  Corinthians 12:14  (The Message) I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Becoming Hardboiled

I readily admit that I am not a good cook.  Sure, I can make the general easy stuff (most days) and I LOVE the George Foreman grill.....but I digress.  I love eggs by themselves or in other dishes.  The following should be read like Bubba from Forest Gump when talking about shrimp. 

poached, fried, scrambled, sunny side up, quiche, egg salad, deviled (could use a better name, but oh so tasty), boiled.....

Ahhh boiled.  Not that long ago I wanted hard boiled eggs.  Maybe it was awhile ago because I didn't "Google" it.  I actually looked it up in Cooking For Dummies how long to boil.  BUT there must be other people who don't know or why would they have it in there?  (no need to answer, smile)

I started thinking about eggs because lately I've felt like one.  Fragile on the outside and ready to crack anytime and who wants to deal with that oozy mess?  However, I've come to realize though that not all eggs are as fragile as they appear.

** Eggs are usually sold in quantities.  Not just one.  They are usually nestled in their little egg carton cocoons with at least 11 other little eggs.
LESSON:  Surround yourself with other good eggs. 

** Eggs are adaptable.  They can stand alone or easily blend into recipes (think cake, yum). 
LESSON:  Learn to adapt to the situation around you.  It might not be pleasant, but it might help make you into something better than you are by yourself.

** Eggs are permeable.  Things can pass through the egg shell.  My daughter did a science experiment with an egg in vinegar (the shell came off, but yolk was still in the rubberized result) and then various substances. Food color changed the color of the egg!
LESSON:  Even if your shell comes off, you can still hold it together if soaked in the right substance.

** Hard boiled eggs only become hard boiled after being placed in boiling hot water.  When done, they look pretty much the same on the outside, but something has changed on the inside.  The shell still may crack easily, but the oozy mess is gone. Instead is a firm egg ready for whatever comes next.
LESSON:  The egg doesn't get to say what it wants to become or how it is going to be accomplished.  It's up to the cook.

Do you feel like you are in hot water right now?  The temperature steadily rising?  You are stronger than you look.  Even if your shell breaks or becomes slightly cracked, YOU may be on your way to being made into something you were not even aware was possible.  Eggsactly my point.
John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Molehills and Mountains

Soon and very soon....Spring will be here.  Spring brings bright skies, leaves on the trees, green grass....and molehills.  Little (or bigger) mounds of dirt that show the little buggers are underground digging their tunnels.  The hills are the visual signs of the work beneath the surface.  Per Wikipedia: They (molehills) are often the only sign to indicate the presence of the animal.

I find that interesting.  We know moles are there.  However we don't always think about them....until they get busy and we see the results of their work.  Sounds like someone else I know!  As SNL's Dana Carvey's church lady used to say, "Oh I don't know boys and girls....S A T A N? 

Moles like the dark.  The devil does his best work in the dark.  Moles dig and dig and love the dirt.  The devil digs up whatever he can use against us to try and get us to focus on the mess he's making.  If we focus on the mess, we don't continue to move toward the mountain.  We can stomp on molehills.  We were given the authority to stomp on the devil. (Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

In our lives though?  Molehills know no season.  They will pop up at the most inopportune moments.  Sometimes we can get so busy taking care of the molehills, we forget we were on our way to the mountain.  Pray and stomp (think Whack-A-Mole!), but DON'T STOP!

Psalm 121:1-3 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber

God /Jesus do a lot of work on mountains.  God met with Moses on a mountain. (Exodus 19)  He passed by Elijah on a mountain. (1st Kings 19)  Jesus taught the people.  He went up the mountain to rest and pray.

When you start heading to the mountain, you can be sure that the molehills will start to pop up.  The molehills will attempt to keep you occupied and busy so you don't continue the journey.  You might get weary trying to stomp the molehills and give up the journey. 

However, PRESS ON and climb!!!  God promises that when we seek....we find.  (Matthew 7)

Micah 4:1 In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills,and peoples will stream to it.