Tuesday, April 20, 2004

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Begin rant...

Two articles in the newspapers gave me pause this morning. Both bothered me because of the picture they paint about our culture's influence on very young children.

The first article in the Wall Street Journal was about the TV show Fear Factor. Since I'm not much into eating bugs, (even though I did a joke page about eating cicadas), I was going to skip the whole article but decided to scan it. To my disgust, I read that it was ranked #3 in most-watched shows by children ages 2-11! What I wouldn't give to be a Nielsen household and skew those ratings.

The second article in a local paper told of a new "service" in our area that mixed yoga with storytelling. Setting aside personal religious convictions regarding "yoga" itself, the article disturbed me because apparently the parents who use this business can not themselves find other ways to help their children relax and have fun. Parents were quoted as saying that the class helped their children "calm down" and that they "enjoy hearing the stories." They commented that their children had "forgotten how to play" and were just "too stressed and busy from homework and all their activities." HELLO??!! How about STAYING HOME and reading to them yourself?

OK, so my husband and I are old-fashioned. We still read to our kids (now ages 8 and 12). We don't have an after-school activity scheduled for them every day after school. We don't insist they play a sport every season. We let them (gasp!) hang out and read on the couch or play outside, or do LegosTM, or even create a messy art project. We go to church, twice a week even, and they even have fun there. (And for that, I must thank an excellent youth pastor, some Silly Sunday School Teachers, and many other caring adults!)

I am not just criticizing other parents' choices for their kids. I am concerned at the effects of their choices on their children, my kids' peers. I see these children becoming de-sensitized to things which are disgusting. They see it as normal behavior. I observe the kinds of clothes that their pre-cleavage, pre-teen children want to wear, emulating the cleavage-driven pictures on the torpor tube. I listen to an increasing number of families who have no tolerance for a Christian worldview, even though I must tolerate their agnostic one.

What's wrong with this picture? More than anything, it is that my Christian peers often don't see any problems at all. Maybe it's my age. (Hey, that's a good excuse!) Or maybe it's because I haven't found a way to communicate my concerns with God's love at the heart of my words...

...I'm trying!

OK, rant over...

From our home to yours...


Monday, April 12, 2004

Bird Song

The cacophony started about 4:30 a.m. outside my window. At first I was annoyed, and then became sleepily amused. It was Easter Sunday, and it seemed fitting that every bird within a ten-mile radius of our home were singing their hearts out. Cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, Carolina wrens, grackles, mourning doves chirped, twittered and sang. The occasionally woodpecker rapped out a percussive beat, while a mockingbird took all of their songs and rolled them into a medley. It was quite a concert!

I did not make it out of bed to attend a sunrise service at church, but in a way, as I lay wrapped in the covers, listening to a symphony of avian praise, I "did church" just fine! All I could think of was the whole earth's reaction at the sight of the Risen Savior. When my Lord came out of the tomb that first Easter, the birds must have offered their Creator their best songs of joy. The trees and flowers must have offered their blooms of praise.

Later in the day, as we prepared for Easter dinner with friends and their families, it struck me that the Lord was gracious. Long before I began my vocal warm-ups that morning, long before I practiced my flute, God brought a special concert of bird "ALLELUIAS" to my ears. When I was distracted between rehearsal, teaching and performing, I remembered the private concert. In the busy-ness of setting the tables and preparing food after church, I had birdsong in my head. While I straightened my daughter's hair bows or found the missing serving spoons, I remembered the twittering fugue outside! On one of the most joyous of Christian celebrations, God provided the perfect prelude for my Easter.

I didn't have to do a thing - I just had to listen! And, I suspect, that was the whole point…

From my home to yours...


Sunday, April 11, 2004

What DIDN'T Get Done

I'm trying not to stress about it, but a lot didn't get done today. The laundry didn't get finished. (Wait - - does the laundry EVER get finished?) The dishwasher is still full and there's a shelf-full of dishes to go in the next load. I forgot to make bread, so we improvised peanut butter and tortilla sandwiches. And please don't tell Flylady, but my sink isn't shining either.

So what took all morning? I cleaned out two closets! Now, there are some of you who always have organized closets. I'm not one of those folks. I have the Black Hole (the hall closet) and The Pit of Despair (my bedroom closet). Neither one of them stays neat for long. They are in constant use, and I'm not the only one who gets into them to find things. But when I could not find a matching shoe for church Sunday morning, or locate a set of school supplies for one of our kids that I knew I had already purchased, it was time to take steps.

At first, it was just a dot on my To-Do List. Get it done, move on. Then it became a chance to carefully and thoughtfully look through belongings and decide if perhaps it was time to give them to someone else. Or (dare I say it?) throw them away! Some things I remembered from the last time I had cleaned out the closet about a year ago. I remember thinking, "Oh, maybe we still need this. I'll keep it a little longer." Not this time. It is in a bag ready to go to a new home...

Sometimes, my spiritual life is like that, too. I have "stuff" that I've saved up or clung to from times past. I'm not willing to part with the feeling of melancholy, or the self-righteous anger. Or I get lazy in how I spend my free time. I don't get around to reading my Bible or praying, just like I don't put things back where I can find them in my closet. Sure, it's obvious. But the discipline can fade over time unless I remember to self-nag.

Most of the time, though, I think I don't tackle the "big" jobs because they seem too big. Procrastination becomes the key rationale: "I'll do that tomorrow." or "Oh, it's not THAT bad!" (I don't, and it is!) The task seems overwhelming. I need help or just encouragment to try. Or perhaps I just need to allow God to work in me, in my weakness, and "clean out my dirty closet."

From our home to yours...