Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Funny, Cute, and Gross Stuff That Happened Today

FUNNY: Every Tuesday my mom takes my kids to the local community center swimming pool, along with my sister and her youngest. They usually go swimming for a couple hours, and then head on over to McDonald's for lunch and some time in the playland. Today my kid was at the playland and told my mom he needed to go to the bathroom, which he went and did. A while later, after he had gone potty, my mom went into the bathroom and found a pair of underwear on the floor (this is normal behavior of Jamie - he doesn't really like to wear underwear). She confronted him and asked him if he took his underwear off and left it in the bathroom. He confessed that he did. When my mom insisted that he needed to wear his underwear, he said (in a very LOUD voice - loud enough for all in McDonald's playland to hear), "But I want to go commando!" "Going commando" is the state of being of not wearing any underwear, and it's a term we use frequently at our house. He's picked up on it, and uses the term quite a bit - even in public places, apparently. I wasn't there, but I was told the whole McDonald's playland was laughing.

CUTE: Each night Jamie sings some songs before he goes to bed. Every night he insists that we sing "The B-I-B-L-E" and we always do. I guess Han has picked up on this song too, because tonight she was singing the song like this: "Da B-I-B-I-B...Bibo!" Yeah, her spelling and pronunciation might need a little work, but it was pretty stinkin' cute.

GROSS: For some reason, my kids have a habit of coughing so hard that they make themselves throw up. I was in the basement tonight, taking a shower, when all of a sudden I heard a lot of crying coming from Jamie's room upstairs, and the I could hear the water pipes moving water to somewhere in the house. A closer listen led me to realize that the bathtub was filling up for some reason. This was at about 8:45 PM, which is 45 minutes after the kids' bedtimes, so a bath at this time of night was not usual. I came upstairs and the smell of hot barf met my nose as I walked down the hall. Jamie was in the tub, washing the puke off himself. His Turkey a la King was all over his bed, blankets (even his "blue blankey!"), and even a little bit on his stuffed Thomas. After he washed up I sat with him for a while, until we could find a replacement blankey while his regular one went into the wash.

All in all, having kids is awesome - even when they puke while you're in the shower.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Really Diggin' This

A few months ago we purchased this Bible. It's basically a children's Bible, except it's a significant step up. Instead of having the stories written in childish language, it's stories from the Bible using the actual words of scripture, but pared down into child-size bites. In other words, the whole story of Joseph (which is long and covers several chapters in the book of Genesis) is trimmed down to several smaller pericopes that tell chunks of the story. For example, you have the story of Joseph's dreams in one pericope, the story of him being sold into slavery in another, the story of him in prison in another, interpreting dreams in another, preparing for the famine in another, his brothers returning in another, and so on and so forth. This way, the kids' attention can be kept while still using the actual words of scripture (and not someone's interpretation of how a child might understand the words of scripture - big difference!).

But aren't there parts of the text that kids won't understand? Especially in the ESV translation? Yes, the ESV is an "essentially literal" translation, and there are a lot of big words, and some difficult phrasing, but that's not really the point. Truth be told, I'm not even reading my kids Bible stories for their understanding. It's more just to get the word of God into them in some way - and to get it into them in a literal way, and not a cutesy, childish way that might make them think that the Bible is nothing but fairy tales and nice stories, which is the way Bible stories are usually presented in children's Bible story books.

Another cool thing about this Bible is the great illustrations. Every single story has an illustration. There are more than 200 illustrations in this Bible. They aren't cutesy or childish either, but really depict what is going on in the story. The kids like them, and they're good to use to review the story with the kids. I have Jamie point out the main characters, and tell me what they did in the story.

Either Betsy or I read at least one story to Jamie each night. It's the way we cap off his bedtime routing: we read some regular books, sing songs, and read a Bible story. Tonight Jamie and I completed the story of Esther, and as I turned the page to put the bookmark in the next story, I realized that we had "completed" the Old Testament. Esther was the last story in the Old Testament in this Bible (What? No major or minor prophets!? Just kidding). That's pretty cool. We've read through a large portion of the Old Testament - word for word - with our three year old.

There's a Doings A-Transpiring

There was a doings a-transpiring at the church today. Last week a cement cutter was at the church and cut off the stairs that were attached to the western most side of the building, on the end of the education wing of the church. I say were attached, because they no longer are. A huge backhoe came today, gave the steps a few taps, and out they came. It was incredibly fun to watch. When the lower steps came out, the backhoe went to scoop them up in its bucket. As I watched it, I thought there would be no way those steps would be able to fit in the bucket. I was wrong. The backhoe scooped 'em up and tossed 'em aside like a pebble. Pretty cool stuff to watch, and exciting to see things starting to happen with Riverview's building project.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You and the Chips

Something funny happened last night. We had hot dogs and chips for supper, and Han was walking around the living room with a hand full of chips. When she got tired of holding them, she looked at us, and dropped them straight onto the floor. Betsy told her to pick up the chips, but Han just looked away and went on to doing something else, which Betsy did not like. She went and got Han and made her pick up the chips, which Han didn't like. She began to cry and protested about picking up the chips.

While all this was happening, I was sitting in the chair, watching it all take place. At some point in time, Ferg grabbed the camera and started taking pictures of the events as they unfolded. At one point, he got in really close to Han and Betsy and snapped a picture, and then proudly proclaimed, "Mom, I took a picture of you and the chips!"

I guess you had to be there.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pleasantly Surprised

For one of my seminary classes this quarter I've had to read The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. It's essentially an interpretation of the parable of the prodigal son through the lens of a painting of the same name by Rembrandt. The class the for which the reading was assigned is certainly not one of my favorites. In fact, I usually find myself trudging through the four hours of class time each week, watching the clock, until I can leave. The content of the course is a bit to touchy-feely for me. It's got a "connect with your feelings" type of feel, and that's just not my thing, nor do I think it's really a biblical way to go about things, such as spiritual growth.

Before I read the book, I wasn't really looking forward to reading it. I had heard some things about Henri Nouwen that didn't really excite me, and I've read some things by people I have significant theological disagreements with who cite Nouwen in their work. Needless to say, I thought the book would be a bummer at best, and make me angry at worst. I was wrong on both accounts. It was a really good read.

Nouwen presents a lot of biographical information about the artist, Rembrandt, and weaves it into the painting, and also into the parable. Fascinating stuff, really. He makes a lot of great connections that I had never thought of before, probably because I was too familiar with the parable to be able to see them myself (specifically, I thought the connection of the older son to a Pharisaic, legalistic worldview was very interesting, and probably spot on - I'd never heard this interpretation before). If you think you know the parable of the prodigal son, let me assure you, there is always more to learn and new insights to gain. And this book is a great way to do just that.

A few warnings for you, though, should you choose to look at the book: 1) it's always a dangerous thing to try to interpret scripture through something else, such as a particular worldview, political bent, painting, music, etc. It's one step further away from the unadulterated truth. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it should be done extremely carefully, and rarely. Scripture can always speak for itself. It doesn't need anything else to communicate. Nouwen does a good job with this in his book, though, and he notes a few places where the painting is inadequate. 2) There is a section in the book about God as mother that I wasn't too fond of. Thankfully, this section is short and doesn't really influence the rest of Nouwen's work. 3) Much like my class, I think there are times when Nouwen brings too much emotion into the picture, and not enough scripture or theology.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. Check it out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

3 Year Old Guilt

Tonight on the way home from my parents' house after Thanksgiving dinner, I had an interesting exchange with my three year old son. Two weeks ago, after the first snow of the season, our whole family went outside to play in the snow as it fell. It was great snowman-making snow, so Jamie and I immediately went to making a snowman. It was the first one that I've made in probably 20 years, and it was Jamie's first snowman ever, so I was really enjoying myself. And I really played it up with the boy, talking about how cool this snowman was going to be, and how fun it was to pack all the snow together. By the time we had the three tiers of the snowman put together, my wife and daughter joined us in the front yard. I had just finished strategically placing the rocks that formed the snowman's face, and encouraged my daughter to take a look. As I had my back turned, Jamie jumped, kicked, and knocked the snowman down, landing on top of the rubble. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked. After all the work we had put in together building that snowman, I was absolutely not expecting him to just tear it all down in two seconds. I told him that I was kind of sad that he would do that, especially after all the hard work we put in on it together. He didn't seem to care, so I said I didn't really want to play any more. He was cold too, so we went inside, but I explained to him that he shouldn't just go knocking down things that other people have worked on.

Cut to tonight: on the way home from my parents', Jamie and I were driving and listening to music. During a quiet part, he said from the back seat, "Dad?" "Yeah, buddy," I said. He got quiet and said, "I'm sorry I knocked down your snowman." I had to think for a minute, and then remembered what happened a couple weeks ago. "That's OK, buddy. I forgive you." "Thanks," he said. He kept apologizing all the way home, and I finally told him that once someone is forgiven, they don't need to apologize anymore, which he seemed to understand. He finally suggested that he and I build another snowman tomorrow, and I agreed. Then he said, "And then maybe we can knock it down!" I agreed.

It's interesting that, even in a three year old, the conscience works and works. Even young children know when they've done something wrong, and they know that it's right to apologize. His conscience has been eating away at him for the past two weeks, and for whatever reason, tonight it led him to do something about it.

I can't wait to build another snowman!

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Starting Over...Again

This blog got a facelift again. I've been wanting my sister to use her fancy-pants-graphic-designer skills to redesign my blog, but it seems like I never get around to asking her, so I just made my own template. Could be better. Oh well.

Over the past several months there have been several things that I've either thought about, or stuff that has happened either to me or to people in my life, and I've thought to myself, "Hmm. I should blog about that." But guess what - I never do. This blogging thing seems to be a discipline for me, and it's one that I really suck at. I do think it's valuable. It's a good avenue to get other people thinking about stuff that I'm thinking about, a way of creating conversation with people, a way to share about stuff to pray for, and I think blogging is just a good practice overall.

Hopefully I can stick with it on at least a semi-regular basis. If you read my "short, inadequate description of who I am," you'll find out that I'm in seminary full time, and work full time, and have young kids. It leaves me with barely enough time to breathe, let alone blog. But I'll give it another shot.

A lot of what I want to post on here is links to other great stuff that I find during my daily bustling about on the internet. I highly recommend the blogs listed to the right. There's some really good stuff there.