Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bam Bams

I may be the only person in the world who finds this cute and funny, but I'll share it anyway.

I have a little three year old boy that I work with who could not say words with 3 or more syllables intelligibly if his life depended on it. We worked and we practiced and we worked and we practiced, and he's doing so much better. He can say triangle and rectangle, helicopter and firetruck. But his favorite thing in the world to play with is his toy ambulance, and despite the thousands of times we've practiced saying ambulance, he can't say it anywhere even close enough that anyone outside his family would have any idea what the word was supposed to be.

In conversation, he calls them "bambams", but when we slow down the word to practice, it could come out as just about anything. He's called them bambams so long that it's a struggle for his family and for me not to just call it a bambam!!

Well, Friday we were practicing once more, and we went over it and over it, AM... BU... LANCE, then put it together, and again some unintelligible muttering that sounded nothing like ambulance. I sighed, then looked at him and said, "Someday you are going to be able to say ambulance perfectly, aren't you?" He nodded happily and said, "Yeah. But *I* say bambams!"

Yep. You sure do. :)

Update: May 4, 2007 He said ambulance today, as clear as could be!! I'm wearing a green shirt today, and when I walked in his house, he said something that floored me, as he's never said any such thing before: "You wear green shirt, I like green shirt!" I started working with this little boy exactly one year ago, and he had less than ten words, and every single thing he's learned to say has been with huge effort. I can recall the weeks upon weeks of modeling two word phrases over and over, one word at a time, and try as he might, he just could not put two words together. And now listen to him chatter. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Beautiful Scandalous Night

We sang this in church Sunday. As we sang, I was fascinated by the thought-provoking imagery of the lyrics, but not immediately drawn to the song itself. By the time we finished it, however, I knew this song necessitated further meditation. The first run-through just isn't enough to convey the depth of the message that I recognized this song had to offer. So I came home, found it online, listened to it a few times, and haven't been able to get it out of my head all week. The juxtaposition of such paradoxical but true descriptors has really caused me to consider the cross at yet another level. I wanted to share this song in the hopes that others will experience this, as well. Don't just listen to it once! It requires repetition to grasp its full significance!

Beautiful Scandalous Night

Lyrics by Steve Hindalong; music by Derri Daugherty

Download the file here

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide.
Kneel down on the shore,
Be thirsty no more,
Go under and be purified.

Follow Christ to the holy mountain,
Sinner sorry and wrecked by the fall.
Cleanse your heart and your soul
In the fountain that flows
For you and for me and for all.

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night, you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night.

On the hillside, you will be delivered,
At the foot of the cross justified,
And your spirit restored
By the river that poured
From our blessed Savior's side.

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night, you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night.

Go on up to the mountain of mercy
To the crimson perpetual tide.
Kneel down on the shore,
Be thirsty no more,
Go under and be purified.

At the wonderful, tragic, mysterious tree
On that beautiful, scandalous night, you and me
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white
On that beautiful, scandalous night.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Uncurly Hair

My four-year-old niece is taking dance lessons and her first recital is coming up next month. Curly hair is apparently a recital requirement, so my sister thought it best if she experimented now to find out the best way to curl her hair and make sure it was going to turn out nicely.

So Saturday night, Little Girl wore sponge curlers to bed, and Sunday morning, when the curlers came out, and her hair was combed and bows added, my sister reported that she was simply too beautiful for words. Eagerly, Little Girl looked in the mirror to see her beautiful self -- and burst into tears.

"What on earth is wrong?" my sister asked, and Little Girl answered, "Everybody will laugh at me!"

My sister tried and tried to convince her that everyone would think she was beautiful. Little Girl's response was to say that she looked like the Beast when he was all fixed up to go to dinner with Belle and his fur was in curls and bows, and they said, "You look..." and he muttered, "Stupid!"

She was so upset that my sister offered to put her hair in a ponytail. Little Girl agreed, and my sister said the curly ponytail was still adorably cute. However, when Little Girl looked in the mirror, she again burst into tears, saying she was still curly, and she wanted to be uncurly!!

My sister told her that everyone at church would tell her how pretty her curls were, but she was not convinced. And so it was a very sad Little Girl that went off to church Sunday morning. Of course, everyone told her that her curls were beautiful, and after the fourth or fifth compliment, Little Girl became quite uppity about her new hairstyle.

Apparently, compliments aren't enough to make up for one's own assessment, however, because when she went to bed last night, she asked, "Is my hair gonna be uncurly tomorrow? I like it better uncurly."

Shirley Temple she will never be... :)

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Passion

And so one night I experienced Passover, as Jesus and his disciples did, and the next night found me in the Garden of Gethsemane praying with Jesus just before his arrest and subsequent crucifixion.

A group I am involved with from church is exploring nontraditional methods of worship, outreach, etc. We had an incredible worship experience one night last week.

As we had been instructed ahead of time, we arrived at the church, entered and found our own private place to worship. The lights were dim, candles were lit, music was playing softly. A chair was set up here and there, and couch cushions were piled up in several places on the floor. I quietly selected a cushioned floor spot and began to pray.

This was supposed to be a spiritual check-in time, and so I began by bringing God all of the cares and concerns I've had over the last few weeks. It was wonderful to have time to do this without either being interrupted by a husband or a phone, without falling asleep because it was time for bed, without feeling like I needed to hurry because I had ten million other things I needed to do. I do have prayer and Bible study time daily but it's very rare I get the lengthy uninterrupted time like I had on this particular night. And so I had time to bring everything to God and hand it all over to Him so that I could be free to worship.

And then the movie began -- we watched Mel Gibson's version of The Passion, without subtitles. It was a movie we had all watched before, but this time was different -- we weren't supposed to merely watch the movie, we had been instructed to experience it, whatever that meant to us personally.

It was an incredible experience, one I encourage anyone to take some time and do. Do it alone, make sure you'll not be interrupted, take the phones off the hook, don't make any more plans for the evening, set aside this time as God's, and try to experience the events you see on the screen instead of just watching them. It's amazing what God can show you and teach you through this. Much of what I experienced was too personal to share, but I will share a few things.

First, Jesus tells us to take up our crosses daily and follow Him. I may not have a literal cross as Jesus did, but Jesus' death on the cross was the Father's will for His life, something He didn't wish to do but decided to do anyway, and therefore to take up my cross daily, I must also decide each and every day to do whatever the Father's will for me that day is. I have been struggling with doing His will in one area of my life for awhile now, and though I have spent much time in prayer over the matter and on many days have made that decision that I AM going to do it even though I don't want to, my good intentions fall so quickly to the wayside when faced with the issue and I have to start all over again the next day.

So I came to this experience in anticipation of dealing with this matter of taking up my own cross by immersing myself in the experience of Jesus' taking up His cross, and trying to identify as completely as possible with Him. It was my sin He bore so that I can identify with Him, and therefore it was my desire to truly focus on identification with Christ tonight in whatever way that might lead to.

With this in mind, I prayed along with Jesus in the garden that not my will, but His be done. At the same time, I attempted to feel what Jesus must have been feeling that night, knowing what was to come -- not just the physical torture and death He was about to experience, but the heartwrenching knowledge that God was going to turn His back on Him -- something we will never have to suffer. Beth Moore offered up the idea in her study Jesus the One and Only that Jesus may have suffered more emotionally from the anticipation and dread of what He knew was to come than He actually did during the crucifixion itself. So often when we know we're going to have to do something extremely distasteful to us, the nervousness and dread while waiting for it to happen are harder than just doing it and getting it over with. I thought of this while watching Jesus' suffering in the Garden.

The first thing in the movie that was really eye-opening for me was when Pilate was offering up the traditional release of a prisoner during Passover. Jesus or Barabbas? I recognized for the first time that I identified with Barabbas. It wasn't a comfortable thought. I'd prefer to identify with the women who loved Jesus, or with the disciples, but the reality of it struck me as I saw the two men standing side by side, and Barabbas released. Portrayed in the movie as dirty, filthy, wicked, and crazy -- and had it not been for God's plan that Jesus be crucified, there is no way Barabbas ever would have been chosen by the people to be released. How blatant was the comparison that Barabbas' freedom was granted only because of Jesus' death, just as my freedom was also purchased by Jesus' death. And then as the movie depicted, did the man display the gratitude that Jesus deserved? Did he say so much as a thank you? Did he worship at His feet as he should have done? No -- in fact, he didn't seem at all grateful. He laughed and jeered and mocked the very one who made his freedom possible. And I identified with that man. After all, don't I make a mockery of the cross when I minimize its significance? When I choose my own will over God's in spite of all that He's done for me? When I fail to share its meaning with those who need most to know? Yes -- I am Barabbas.

The most difficult part for me was the flogging. My first thought was, how could men be so evil as to inflict such torture upon another human being? But I knew, and reminded myself, that it was me inflicting those wounds. He was bruised for MY transgressions. He was crushed for MY iniquities. And I kept repeating in my mind over and over with each crack of the whip, by HIS stripes I am healed, by His stripes I am healed. Every gash, every whiplash, brings healing to me. I found myself crying out to them as the beating just went on and on and on to stop it, to leave Him alone, He'd suffered enough. But I realized that I needed to cry out to myself to stop it. It was my sin that was inflicting those wounds, and yet I continue in my sin, just as the men continued the beating. How incriminating for me, to see firsthand what my sins, what my selfishness, what my pride causes to the One I love more than anyone else. If that isn't motivation to stop, nothing is.

I finished off the experience by feeling the pain that my sins bring upon Him, asking for forgiveness, and recommitting to take up my cross daily. Now if I can just bring to mind that flogging every time I am tempted to sin, maybe I can keep that resolution.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Funny Kids

Sorry I haven't gotten the rest of Easter posted yet, I had a large part of it written last night and then the browser froze on me and I lost it all, and haven't had time to redo it yet.

But I had a thought today that I should probably share some of the funny things kids do and say on here. Everybody loves laughing at kids, right?

So here's my funny moment of the day. Two year old was being most uncooperative. His mother says to him, "You sure are being stubborn today." His five year old sister OH so seriously stated, "I think he has mad cow disease."


Sunday, April 8, 2007


Happy Easter, everyone.

I wanted to share a little bit about how I experienced Easter this year. I taught Sunday School this morning so was unable to attend the worship service, but that was fine, because I had my Easter all week long. I'll post about Passover tonight, and everything else in a later post, as this will be very long...


This truly is the epitome of Easter anyway, isn't it? Just think, all those hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born, God designed Passover to demonstrate to His people what He was going to do. The Messianic symbolism in the Seder meal is unmistakable -- to anyone who is open to the idea that Jesus could be the Messiah, of course, which is how Jews can continue to celebrate Passover year after year and sadly miss the whole point.

I celebrated Passover this year with five other families at our pastor's home. We didn't do the full meal, we did the shortened version. I would like to share some of the symbolism and how it applies to that first Easter. God paints such beautiful portraits that it is such a shame we don't always see them.

The first step in celebrating Passover is to remove all leaven from the home. The yeast symbolizes sin, and as we enter into a celebration of Passover, the removal of the leaven from the home shows a willingness to remove corruption from our lives.

Next we partake of the first cup, the cup of sanctification and freedom. God promised this to the nation of Israel, and although they view it as a promise yet to come, we know it is a promise He has fulfilled through the sacrifice of His Son.

The next step is the washing of hands, to represent the cleansing from sin. We know of course that Jesus took this a step further and washed the feet of His disciples at His last Passover meal with them.

After partaking of parsley dipped in saltwater (to represent the tears of suffering of the Jews in slavery) comes the breaking of the middle matzah. On a plate sits three pieces of matzah -- to represent, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The middle matzah, representing the Son, is then broken in half. One half is replaced on the plate, while the other half is wrapped in a linen napkin and hidden. To think that Jews do this year after year without realizing the symbolism of Jesus' body being broken for us just as He explained to His disciples as they performed this part of the ceremony together, and buried.

Next the youngest child asks the four questions, which enables the parents to share with the children the story of the Exodus, and to remind them of the promise God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -- a promise which has now been fulfilled, but for which they continue to wait expectantly.

The second cup is taken at this time, the cup of praise. Following this, the bone of the lamb is shown, representing the Passover lamb killed so that the children of Israel might live. Of course, Jesus is our ultimate Passover lamb, and His blood covers our sins, just as the sacrificial lamb represented this covering of sins in the years before Christ for the Jewish people.

After the meal, the piece of matzah that was hidden away (i.e., Jesus' crucified body) is found, broken, and eaten. "Take, eat, this is My body, which is broken for you," Jesus told His disciples. And then the cup of redemption follows, with Jesus' commentary that "This cup is the new covenant in my blood" -- the original cup of redemption was a reminder of God's promise that He would one day redeem His people, and now by Jesus' blood, we are indeed redeemed.

I couldn't help but cry at the next part of the Seder meal. At this point, a child was sent to the front door to look for Elijah, for Malachi prophesied that Elijah would prepare the way for the Messiah. An empty seat is always ready for Elijah at every Passover meal, in case this is the year that he comes. Of course, the child does not see Elijah coming, and his father tells him that maybe next year Elijah will come. This saddened me more than any other part of the entire Passover meal, to think of all those Jewish people looking for Elijah year after year after year in hopes that God's promise to send a Messiah will come true in their lifetime -- and here, Elijah already came 2,000 years ago, (Jesus identified John the Baptist as the Elijah who would prepare His way) as did the Messiah, and they missed him! How can a people looking so expectantly for someone miss him entirely when he arrives? It is truly heartbreaking.

The fourth cup is the cup of acceptance, or hope. Jesus says in Matthew 26, after taking the cup of redemption, that this fruit of the vine He will not drink until He takes it with the disciples in the Kingdom. This cup represents the hope of the Jewish people that they will live in a Kingdom of peace. Someday we will drink that cup with Jesus in His glorious Kingdom of eternal joy and peace, and the final promise will be fulfilled.

Is it any wonder, with this much symbolism, that Jesus commands His disciples to do this in remembrance of Him? I truly feel that the typical communion service practiced in many churches is not what Jesus had in mind. Perhaps it's fine... but isn't the symbolism lost when only this part of it is segmented out of the entire Seder that way? I feel that Christians would greatly benefit from celebrating the Passover in this way, in remembrance of Him. All of the traditional Easter celebrations are great, but a Seder reinforces the picture God drew for His people thousands of years ago and reminds us that all but the last promise is already fulfilled. It reminds us of Jesus' sacrifice as the Passover lamb, and reminds us of His broken body and His shed blood, by which we are redeemed. Yes, I believe that Passover is what "Easter" is all about.