May 16, 2009

Question Asker Strikes Again

My friend Jesse is a question-asker. She is a thinker, that one. Her questions are not of the typical "How-are-you-I'm-fine" variety. She's also a ridiculously good baker, but that is beside the point.

One day last month as I scrubbed the stove, wedging the cell phone that contained Jesse's voice between my ear and shoulder, she asked, "How did your parents raise you to know Jesus as a child?" That question made me think for approximately 27 days.

Almost five years ago, I acquired a second set of parents, my husband's dad and mom. I am not capable of summarizing the parenting journeys of my four parents in a sentence or two, so I shall fall back on my hobby: list making. That fabulous English word they shall vaguely refer to one or two or three or four of my parents. Us shall refer to my husband or I or our siblings. Who did what is irrelevant. How and why are more valuable to ask.

1. They prayed for us daily, starting before we were born. Instead of mainly praying general "God bless our family" prayers, they prayed specific prayers. "God, help our son to come to know his sin and your forgiveness at an early age." "God, prepare a Christian husband for our daughter."

2. Every night as they tucked us into bed they prayed with us.

3. They sang hymns and praise songs to Jesus with us. Kids understand the words younger than you'd think.

4. They made their own relationships with God a priority. I remember watching my Dad read his Bible as he walked on the treadmill. My husband remembers the chair his mom would sit in to read her Bible and pray.

5. They came to us (little kids) and asked for forgiveness when they sinned against us (for example, speaking harshly or having a rotten attitude). So we learned that big people sin too, and a healthy response to sin is to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

6. They prayed with us after we "got in trouble" (for example, for giving a brother an "indian burn" then lying about it) to show us that seeking forgiveness from each other is good, but seeking forgiveness from God is most important.

7. They treasured their relationship with each other. How did they show us this? Going on dates even when we didn't want them to leave, going away for weekends as a couple, never using the word divorce, backing each other up on discipline issues, never deriding the other to us.

8. On car rides, they suffered through (or... possibly enjoyed?) countless tapes and CDs that communicated God's love to children. "Donut Man" "Adventures in Odysey" "Patch the Pirate" "Psalty the Singing Songbook" "

9. They read Children's Bibles to us.

10. They gathered a "library" of God centered resources for us to enjoy: children's devotional books, Bible story books, Christian chapter-books, dramatized Bible on tape, etc.

11. Our dads lead family devotions in the living room after dinner. (Ahem, don't start to get the wrong idea here. A joyful family with the 3 and 5 and 7 year olds sitting perfectly still reverently listening to their father read from the King James Version at least 6 nights each week - NOT - alright, erase that mental image and let's start over.) "Family Devotions" consisted of reading a Bible story book, or reading an actual chapter in a readable translation of the Bible, or singing some Bible songs together (clapping and jumping ones preferred by the younger set), or asking "What are you thankful for today?" or "What challenge are you facing tomorrow?" then praying together, or discussing a verse. The littlest one would be roaming, mom would be falling asleep in the recliner chair, one brother would be touching another brother with his toe, etc. But there in the once or twice a week consistency, we saw our dads heart for God and their desire for us to know God.

12. They told us when God answered their prayers.

13. They celebrated Christmas traditions that reflected Jesus. Example: Each Christmas, we put a cattle "feeding trough" in the living room. Before we went to bed each Decembery night, we each placed a single piece of hay in the trough. By Christmas, it was brimming with hay. When we woke up Christmas morning, baby Jesus (a dark-skinned, lifelike baby doll) was lying in the manger.

14. They celebrated Easter traditions that reflected Jesus. Example: One year we made a small tomb out of paper mache. On Good Friday, we wrapped Jesus' body (made of popcicle sticks?) with white strips of cloth and placed him in the tomb. Then we found a large rock to seal the entrance. On Easter morning, we woke up to find the tomb open, Jesus body gone, and the white cloth lying in the tomb. (The fabulous thing about 4 year olds is that they can imagine a popcicle stick person to be almost a real person, so the sequence of events above is meaningful).

more to come

May 6, 2009

Bob: The T-Rex

Sibling rivalry, adventure, chicken dinosaurs... This story's got it all. If you shy away from gore, this story may not be for you. But if you're all about redeeming endings, read on.

by Guy 3

Once there was a T-rex. His name was Bob. He loved to eat chicken dinosaurs, especially when they were fresh from the kill. So his dad taught Bob to fight.

Bob loved to fight, especially with his older siblings. His siblings didn't like it, but Bob did... He also liked to roar at the top of his lungs and scare the wits out of cavemen. The cavemen screamed and yelled. Bob loved their reaction.

One day Bob roared at the top of his voice, and the cavemen didn't scream and yell. He roared again and again, but they ignored him. So Bob decided to eat a caveman. So Bob chased a caveman and caught him by the arm. He thought it tasted great. Remember, Bob is a T-Rex, and they can get pretty tall and fat (but don't say that to Bob; he might bite your head off).

Now Bob's favorite food was caveman. He ate alot of caveman. It was like ice cream to Bob, except cavemen were a little bit messier. (Fair reader, you were warned. Now that you've gotten this far, you must read on to the plot's resolution.)

Bob weighed fourteen tons. He liked to ram other dinosaurs. But Fred, his older brother, rammed him so hard he was knocked over to the ground. So he didn't mess with his older brother, Fred, at all. But he liked to practice on his pet pterodactyl, but the only problem was he still desperately loved cavemen.

One fine morning he was eating the most delicious caveman he had eaten in a very long time. "Yum, this is the yummiest caveman in the whole world," he thought to himself as he ate the last of the phalanges, then all of the sudden he felt sorry for the caveman so he decided to do them a favor and get them a big meal of fish. They seemed to like the fish very much. So Bob started fishing at once. He probably ate more fish than he saved, but never the less he saved some and that was a big deal for 'ol Bob.

He made a make-shift bucket and put all the fish in it and took it to the cave where the cavemen stayed and left the bucket of fish there and went home never to eat a caveman again.

The End of the Story

May 1, 2009

Pass Me by World, My Nose is to the Window

The other day I rode on a jet plane again. I’d forgotten what a spectacular experience it is; soaring high above twin-engine Cessna planes… gliding atmospherically in a manner that was way, way above my allotted privileges as a two-legged wingless mammal.

Glancing around me at the dignity-starved individuals surging towards a doorway too small for the mass of shoving and selfishness that abounded, I couldn’t help but rudely marvel to myself.
“Huh. That little teeny, tiny plane out there is going to get him (large guy), him (another pretty hefty fella) and HERRRR? (uh…) up in the air?
What science plus technology and a few rubber wheels can do these days.

Then my mind jolted back to reality. Ah yes, it was time for me to go to my seat.
Priority seating?
I strode casually past throngs of mobbing pulses and jumped in front, flashing an i.d. and proof that my random, entirely accidental superiority complex of priority could in fact take a physical form.
“Thank you sir, enjoy your flight!”
Oh, I would.
Four ay, bay bay!

My bag barely fit in the overhead compartment.
No, wait! If I turn it this way and shove with all my might, it might just…

Oh, those moments we feel alive.
“Sir, I don’t think it will fit. Would you like me to take it to the back?”
There was no condescension in her voice. Not just a little bit that made me feel like a million yen.
“Sure, that’d be great thanks!”
Feigning obliviousness to the possibility of appearing like a moron, I handed her the blue road-runner bag.
“No problem.”

Fifteen minutes later our wheels lifted off the ground, the world became obtusely angled for a few moments, and we shot into the air.
Subconsciously I did my part as a good passenger and lifted my seat-end off my seat, hoping that we’d at least be light enough to not crash immediately.
By some miracle of consistent laws, lots of oxygen and nitrogen and extensive money/engineering, we made it alive into the air.
A two hour and forty-five minute flight.
My seat-end sighed as we leveled out, and I scooched and squiggled, reaching that point where I was deceived into thinking I was relaxed when in fact my knees were driving the person the next seat through three rows into the cockpit.

The squirrelly guy sitting next to me glanced at me once…twice…three times, then ILLEGALLY put his headphones in, and took out a Stephen King novel.
What if we crashed, killing several dozen people because of his stupid Stephen King headphone antics?
This guy was totally and irrevocably out.
Out of my universe.
See ya bud.

“Can I get you a beverage?”
“What’s a beverage?”
This lady was smart enough to ignore me.
“We have Coke, Diet Coke, Ginger Ale, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, V8…” Her voice trailed off and she stared at me like there was a mole growing on my cornea.
“I’ll have orange juice…please.”
I slid down a nanometer in my chair, and like a foot and a half on the inside, reaching the appropriate internal height of the four-foot eight I was acting like.
“Here you go Sweetie!”
Her energy was infectious. I was back.
“Thank you ma’am. Could I have a third bag of pretzels?”
She didn’t miss a beat, even though no drum was in sight.
She wheeled her cart an inch and a quarter, and out of my universe entirely.
“Sir, can I get you anything?”
Entirely out of my universe, she was asking the gentleman behind me what he would like.

My forehead spent the next hour and thirty minutes pressed against the plastic window as Texas, Arizona then Nevada slid by silently down below.

Ah, it felt good to ride in a plane again.
There’s nothing like seeing seamlessly perfect circular and square fields of whatever far down below.
What ARE those things anyway?
They’re so puzzling when you’re in the air; you literally hurt your head trying to figure out how they’re so exact and who keeps them up, but when you get back on the ground you never think about them, or if you do you can’t find them.

They’re SO out of my universe now.