Several Times a Year, This Comes to Mind

Several years ago I came across a story about an amazing little book called Be Bold With Bananas which is described by a high-end art book seller on Abe Books as “an imaginative cook book issued in the 1970s by the South African Banana Board” and  an “unusual and eccentric photo book”. It made quite the impression on me and is something I find myself remembering several times a year at least. And now it will come to your mind several times a year at least too, because what has been seen cannot be unseen:

Book Riot’s take on it still makes me laugh:

This monstrosity is called a Banana Candle, which consists of a banana stuck in a pineapple slice, with mayonnaise and a maraschino cherry on top. And it is a crime against nature. If someone brought this into my home, I would slap them, and then burn my house down and salt the ground where it stood. This photo is the reason flocks of birds inexplicably die and fall to the ground. Goats and gangrene, who approved this picture??? Imagine my horror – I actually touched this book.

The book looks like it started with conversations among bored dock workers during the slow season about what you could make with bananas. And photographed by an extremely sarcastic marketing team. Like, what the hell is this supposed to be?

Related image

Is that a turkey under there? Did they glaze bananas onto a turkey? And paper crowns on the ends of the bananas? Really? I just really hope that’s a plastic turkey under there and no one actually had to spend hours roasting a one perfectly to get this picture.

What brought this gem to mind was a picture a friend recently shared on Facebook of a recipe card from Mccall’s Great American Recipe Collection:

Image may contain: fruit and food

The early 70s need to explain themselves is all I’m saying.

 

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Snowy Day Play

I love videos of animals playing. This one from the Oregon Zoo showing animals in the snow is particularly cute. Isn’t it weird how we’ve been indoctrinated to see animals as unthinking creatures, devoid of relationships and driven only by the instinct to eat and reproduce? Why do we even think that’s the sort of world God would create? Silly.

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The Christmas Bird

Instead of doing my Christmas shopping a couple of years ago, I recorded this. It’s perfect for sharing with the kids, if they are the sort who will listen to a recorded story.  Grab a cuppa whatever suits you best and listen to the dulcet sound of my voice sharing a heartwarming Christmas story about a farmer, a bird and a little boy. It will be the best 11 minutes of your day. 🙂

For those of you receiving this via email, here’s the link to the recording on soundcloud.

Suffer Us Little Children

What parent doesn’t want to be a better parent to their kids?

And what Christian doesn’t desperately wish to be truly humble? (OK, almost no Christian actually wants any such thing, but play along with me here.)

What if I told you that I have the secret to attaining these two highly desirable goals all in one fell swoop? Well, I’d become a viral sensation and finally be discovered and recognized as the spiritual genius I am, of course!

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Ah. Sorry, sometimes I just need a good laugh. (You may not find me so amusing, but from time to time I crack myself up. It always makes me happy to know that someone thinks I’m funny.)

Anyhow, in all seriousness, somewhere along the line I picked up a spiritual habit that actually does humble me far more than I want to be humbled. And it does make me a better, more compassionate parent. And I will share it with y’all in case any of you are stupid brave enough to want to follow in my footsteps and enjoy the horrible joyous spiritual misery benefits. (I’m feeling really up on life today. Can you tell?)

It goes back to something Jesus said:

“[Jesus] called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Now, the bible is filled with references to God as father. Which would make us children. But it’s often not a particularly helpful concept because we tend to want God the Father to be a grandiose, super hero version of dad rather than a real dad.

So we think that being dad, God is supposed to protect us from all harm. Which, as anyone who has ever watched Finding Nemo knows, doesn’t actually work in real life. And we want God to be the dad who makes sure his kids have everything they need. Which is no doubt what the father of every child who has ever gone to bed hungry wants as well. We want God to move heaven and earth, changing time and the rules of life itself if that’s what it takes to make things all better. Even though heaven, earth, time and life itself all work the way they do because God made them work that way, presumably for good reasons.

The truth is that we don’t actually want God the Father. We want God the personal body guard/Santa Claus/magician.

In real life, dads do provide and protect, to the best of their ability. But mostly they tell you to stop jumping on the couch. They spin you in circles and tickle you and make fart jokes. They refuse to give into your temper tantrums and tell you to wait your turn and share with your sister. They teach you how life works and strategies for coping with its difficulties. They tell you stories and give advice and keep your secrets.

Once you understand this, Jesus’ teaching that we must become like little children takes on a whole new flavor. In fact, what I’ve learned is that when God is not responding to me the way I think he should, it’s because he’s dealing with me like a real father. And I’m acting like a real child. Which is hard to see when I think I’m the righteous heroine in distress and God’s supposed to be my father cum super hero/Santa Claus/magician.

For example, this spring, I realized that my ongoing anger at God was very much like when my kids would attempt to bend me to their will by throwing the world’s biggest temper tantrum. And that much of my time in the desert was basically God using my own super easy, super effective parenting trick on me. He was just standing by, waiting out my hurt and anger so we could both start to move forward.

And it makes me appreciate how much God puts up with from me. How rarely he chastises me for my anger and instead offers comfort and understanding. He bends down to my height and listens to my howls of pain and outrage and tells me I’m going to be OK. Then when I won’t be comforted, he withdraws a little to wait until I’m ready.

But he never mocks me. He doesn’t tell me to shut up and show some appreciation for everything he does for me. He never holds the things I say in anger against me. He doesn’t walk away in disgust. He doesn’t yell at me or tell me to pull myself together and grow up. He doesn’t get angry at me for not showing proper respect. He just loves me through it until I figure things out for myself.

Realizing how much pain I am in when I throw my spiritual little kid temper tantrums, forces me to look at my children’s temper tantrums with much more compassion. I can see how ridiculous they are sometimes being. But even when they know they’re being kind of ridiculous, they are in so much pain that they just can’t help themselves.

So I do for them what God does for me. I don’t mock, ridicule or yell at them. I offer comfort and if they won’t take it, I just stand by and wait it out. I understand that as annoying as a temper tantrum throwing little kid is, it’s much worse to be in that much distress.

Right now I’m in a period of waiting. My life is a disaster. Beyond repair, so far as I can tell. Yet I’ve had multiple people who I trust pass on messages telling me that it’s just a matter of time. God has very good plans for me. But he’s working on his own schedule and he’s not going to deviate from it, even though it’s painful for me.

This is very frustrating because every time I get upset and beg God to step in and help me and I get angry about my life, I am forcibly reminded of how my kids pester me when I tell them to wait. How they will come to me multiple times a day demanding to know why it’s not their birthday yet. Or asking, “are you ready yet?” over and over. Or wanting to know when their stomach flu will pass.

Frankly, my kids’ inability to wait irritates me like nothing else. Realizing that I’m in the same boat and that the waiting is unbearably painful both humbles me and gives me new compassion for my kids. I’m not sure I’ve really understood before how much I’m asking from them when I tell them to wait. Which has forced me to be more judicious about when I elevate my priorities over theirs and how long I ask them to wait.

It also makes me more cognizant of the burden of their trust. I cannot ask them to wait patiently if I cannot be trusted to do what I’ve said I will. I’ve learned to make very, very few promises or commitments with my kids. It drives them nuts, but then when I say I will do something, they can have full confidence that it will happen, no matter how long it takes.

I don’t honestly like the idea that my problems, which from a human perspective are not small, are so small in the eyes of God. It makes me feel less than. No one likes to feel less than. Like a lot of us, if you tell me that my problems are childish or my pain is caused by my immaturity, I feel angry and humiliated.

But this reveals a flaw in my thinking; God is not a man who would look on a child’s problems as foolish and inconsequential. The harm done to a child can stay with them for a lifetime. He’s not the sort of parent who demands that his child takes his perspective for their own. He respects our limits and doesn’t treat us with disrespect because we are not as mature, powerful and capable as he is. God asks us to be humble, but never, ever, ever wants us to be humiliated by our status as children.

We’re children. We have children’s problems. What Love knows, that we too often do not, is that children’s problems are real. The fact that we, from our vantage point as adults see them as foolish and unworthy of care or concern comes from our lack as parents. Yes, sometimes our kids frustrate us and sometimes the gap between their distress and the magnitude of the actual problem makes us laugh. But we should never shame them or humiliate them for seeing things from a child’s perspective.

Part of what I have learned from humbling myself enough to see that I really am like a child to God who really is like a father is how much is required of us as parents. We speak of child’s problems as if they are small, foolish things. But as I said, the harm done to a child can stay with them for a lifetime. And too often parents minimize the harm done to their children because they are unwilling to be strong, brave and sacrificial enough to help them.

Think of all the children who are abused by parents who believe they have the right (if not the obligation) to inflict pain on them for their own good, when really the parents are just too immature and out of control to handle the demands of parenting. Or the kids who seek help only to be turned away by adults who are unwilling to risk ruining a reputation or threaten a comfortable family dynamic. Or all the kids who are hurting and in trouble who get met with “tough love” or ignored by adults who want the child to carry all of the burdens placed on them rather than facing their own failures or disrupting long existing ideas about how things are done.

Then think of what God did for his hurting children on the cross.

When God asks us to humble ourselves to be little children, he’s not trying to humiliate us. He’s asking us to give him the chance to be the sort of parent that we actually need. To be the parent who is trustworthy and won’t turn away in our time of need. To be the parent who comforts rather than shames us. To be the parent who takes our hurts seriously rather than mocking them. To be the parent who lifts our burdens rather than telling us to buck up under them.

Which all sounds nice, but there’s a great deal at stake here. You see, it’s very hard to parent when you were never parented well yourself. No matter how much you love your children, when your back’s against the wall, your automatic response will come out of your brokeness rather than your love.

Children are vulnerable. It’s easy to hurt them without ever meaning to. And if you are unwilling to humble yourself, to allow God to parent you and show you the way, you may cause harm that can’t be undone in this lifetime. Which is why Jesus ended his words about becoming like little children with a promise and a warning for us:

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

My Talented Readers: Jason Silver

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I spy on y’all. It’s true. If you comment or like things I write or interact with me a lot on facebook, I might go poking around the internet a bit to find out more about you. And then I report my findings to the NSA. OK, I’m totally lying about that last part. I don’t even know how to report things to the NSA.

Mostly, I’m just wondering who the heck is reading what I write. And while I know nothing about at least 98% of my readers, those of you whose names I do know, tend to be an eclectic, interesting and talented bunch. Which, obviously, is what one would expect from people who are discerning enough to appreciate a Christian writer who swears and makes the occasional poop joke.

At any rate, I think it’s well past time that I share some of these interesting people with y’all. Particularly those who are involved in creative pursuits who you might never hear of otherwise.

Today, I want to introduce you to one of the first readers I ever spied on. His name is Jason Silver. Jason writes and sings beautiful music, mainly worship songs. I asked Jason to share his favorite video and a bit about his work:

I grew up as an evangelical, went to Bible college, became a pastor, and worked in churches as a music director and worship leader for 15 years. But somewhere along that journey I felt God directing me to become an Anglican, and to use my gifts to help breathe life into the 150 year old church in my village.
Every week I write a song for our contemporary worship, taking the lectionary readings from the Psalm and putting them to a melody.
I like to share these songs with the church at large, so I’ve started making videos and uploading them to YouTube. I hope that my music can be a blessing to you!
You can find more of Jason’s work on his youtube channel. In addition to songs based on the Psalms, Jason has written a great deal of other inspirational music as well as a CD of beautiful love ballads which can also be found on his youtibe channel. Jason has a Facebook page you should go like so you can keep up with his work. And if you are in the market for Web Application Development work, check out his company Crooked Bush.

Check it out. Pass it around. And stop being so quiet, y’all!

The best of the week . . .

According to infalible me!  Ha!

I’ve done more writing than reading this week, so this is a bit light, but here goes:

How children’s  play is being sneakily redefined.  I totally agree with this from Alfie Kohn:

1. Play is being redefined to include things that are clearly not free, imaginative play.

2. Younger and older children ought to have the chance to play together.

3.  Play isn’t just for children.

4.  The point of play is that it has no point.

5.  Play isn’t the only alternative to “work.”

When congress does something so idiotic that the people who create internet memes take a break from ridiculing Edward Cullins and valorizing Chuck Norris to say “WTF?”, the people are not amused.  US Congress Rules That Pizza is a Vegetable.

An old homeschool blogger buddy, Henry Cate at Why Homeschool shares an article on the surprising differences between elite achievers and others:

  • The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
  • but they’re not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
  • and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they’re not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.

Kids with high IQs more likely to become teens and adults who use drugs:

The results may seem surprising at first glance, but the researchers noted that they do fit some established patterns. “High-IQ individuals have also been shown to score highly on tests of stimulation seeking and openness to experience,” they wrote, and it could be that “illegal drugs are better at fulfilling a desire for novelty and stimulation.”

Hmmmm . . .

As I listened to this interview with Mattieu Richard, I kept saying, “yes! this man gets it.”  After a while I started getting a bit irritated that a buddhist monk was sharing some amazing things with the world while we Christians support a cottage industry dedicated to convincing ourselves that the world is only 6000 years old.

Did you know that in Ezekial 16:17 God says that the hebrews had taken the wealth he gave them, made a jewel encrusted dildo with the gold and silver and pleasured themselves with it?  In 1 Samuel 6, the neighbors of Isreal, who had stolen the ark of the covenant, made models of their tumors with gold and sent them, along with models of rats made of gold back to Isreal along with the Ark. Can you imagine? “That there piece of gold looks like a goiter I had once!”  The bible is the most interesting book I own.

From Slate: Four Excellent Habits – The subtle skills that will give you a permanent edge:

Principle 1: Look for bright spots

Principle 2: Find the right gravity

Principle 3: Maintain your bridges

Principle 4: Avoid following the herd

And finally, I have decided that my 12 year old son Collin is much easier to understand and get along with if you just accept that he’s a 16 year old and an 8 year old living in the same body.  And the 16 year old doesn’t like being treated like an 8 year old.

If you blog and have something you’d like me to read and maybe (almost certainly!) include in my weekly list, email the link to me at ratrotter73@yahoo.com with “best of the week” in the subject line.

Principle 1: Look for bright spots

Very Demotivational

I have been reminded of this scene from Lord of the Rings frequently as of late, so I looked it up and I must admit, it cracked me up:

AHAHAHAHAH!   Way to rally the troops, Denethor!  Thank heaven’s Gandalf (whose character represents wisdom, donchano) was there to knock the crap out of him!

Panic is pretty much never a good thing, IMO.

I love Little Bear

One of the joys of having my two daughters is being able to watch Little Bear on Noggin with them.  Somehow, I completely missed Little Bear with my sons, which is a shame.  It is such a wonderful show – like the classical music of the cartoon world.  It’s literature for the preschool set.  This was one of the stories I watched with my girls this morning.  Spoil yourself and take 5 minutes to watch it; you’ll feel better when it’s done.

After watching this with my daughters this morning, a show called “WaWa Wubzy” came on Noggin.  I had never seen it before and with any luck I’ll never see it again.  Talk about a study in contrasts – the drawing was awful, there were arm pit fart jokes, lots of running around and bad pop music in the background.  Ugh.  So don’t watch wawa wubzy.  Watch Little Bear.

If you don’t get Noggin, you can get a dvd of the show here.  Of course books are always great as well.  But this is one of the only cases where I’d say that reading the books, but not seeing the show is choosing the lesser path.

Before you go, just because I like you, grab a cup of coffee and watch Little Bear dance under the Harvest Moon (no, really, do it!):

Children’s Movies

This weekend, my husband took our boys, ages 7 and 11 to the movies. I was a bit surprised when my husband said he wanted to take the boys to see the new Jet Li movie “Fearless”. He loves karate movies and thought the kids would be interested since they have been taking karate for a while now. But the movie is rated PG-13 and there was that new children’s movie “Open Season” which came out on Friday. I didn’t want to see “Open Season”, but my husband doesn’t seem to mind potty humor as much as I do and you never know what’s going to show up in a PG-13 movie, so the children’s movie seemed like it would be a better bet (or at least the least likely to do major damage). Fortunately, before becoming insistent, I looked up “Fearless” on the Focus on the Family’s “Unplugged” website. (This is a great place to check before seeing a movie, BTW – they will tell you about minutiae like how many characters smoke, if wine is consumed, if anyone gets punched, how many times various foul words are used and any sexual innuendo. Some of the things they worry about aren’t a big concern for our family, but it sure is nice to know what you’re getting into.) You can read their review of “Fearless” here. Since the movie didn’t have much of anything in the way of sex or language and the violence wasn’t gory, I decided not to press the issue. The boys and my husband really enjoyed the movie and my husband said that it was a very moral movie with good, manly messages.
On the other hand, I happened upon this column by Fredrica Mathewes-Green about “Open Season” and I’m sure glad my hubby made the call and not me. From her column:

Sure, potty-talk has always been funny to kids. But grown-ups didn’t teach it to them. They had something more significant to impart: stories to help children prepare for the world they were growing into. The best stories were complex and unafraid to deal with tragedy, like Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, or Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio.
Earlier generations of parents complained that cartoon versions of such classic tales stripped them of all subtlety. The process has gone a step further in a movie like Open Season, where the plot presents only a starkly polarized pair of teams, good guys vs. bad guys, and then whips up a frenzy of vengeance.

Hmmm . . . I’m going to have to remember that next time I’m tempted to settle for the “least bad thing”. (You really ought to read the whole thing as it goes much deeper than what I posted here. ) Whenever I see a movie like this, or the dreadful Shrek movies, I am reminded of something I read a while ago on the National Review Online. In an interview, Craig Good from Pixar studios says:

We don’t make movies for kids. We make movies for adults, actually ourselves, and then just make sure there’s nothing in them that the little ones shouldn’t see. . . Two things are often forgotten about kids. One: They have no taste. They will watch just about anything. This is normal and healthy. Taste comes later. Two: They are not stupid! Kids are born intelligent, and there’s no good reason to make dumbed-down entertainment for them.

Sooooo . . . this post really has no point except to say that my kids saw a movie that was good, even though it was PG-13 and children’s movies are generally stupid and a sign of the degradation of our society (like that’s never been said before!). Good day! 🙂