Sunday, July 11, 2010

Color Crayon Doctrine

My quickly approaching four-year-old daughter posed a befuddling question to me this afternoon, "Cori (yes, she likes to call me by name), why do grown-ups color in the lines?" Upon considering her query, I was tempted to respond with, "because it makes a prettier picture," but then it quickly occurred to me that my daughter's colorful and carefree expressions, which most would interpret as scribbles, often can be described as beautiful and engaging, so I stopped short of responding anything more than, "I don't know!" In fact, I immediately began to question whether instructing our children to color inside the lines might unintentionally squelch their individuality, so maybe, I wondered, "Is it bad for our children or wrong to inhibit them in such a way?" Of course, I had to follow our short conversation with a facebook post to flaunt my adorable, genious and elicit some opinions from my friends concerning the coloring conundrum in which I now found myself! One comment in particular got the few undamaged brain cells that remain after my stroke to firing, and they haven't cooled since. Basically, my friend suggested that coloring in the lines is neither right nor wrong good nor bad, but just a simple way for a child to learn self-discipline, which appealed to my understanding of life just as much as my initial, maybe, there's not any value to training a child to stay in the lines like everyone else other than stifling their creativity and creating a little conformist. Neither of which appealed to me as a goal I want to acheive in my parenting career. Anyway, my mind connected from here to the concept of living inside the boundaries that God has established for our safety, which I have blogged about previously. We are all likely aware that God has set forth certain guidelines, boundaries, commandments, or rules in his written word, the Bible. Much like we as parents set rules for our children to protect them because we love them, God sets the boundaries for our physical, emotional, and spiritual safety as we live here on this earth. It is my belief that choosing to live within these established lines although it requires a great deal of self-dscipline allows us to avoid many of the consequential hardships and tradgedies that we often note others experiencing. Often, wondering why God wants to keep us from the apparent fun on the other side, we are tempted to cross over and soon learn from what exactly our loving father wanted to protect us! caused us. Just like my daughter's coloring pages, at first, the activity going on outside the lines looks enjoyable and exciting, and we may even feel cheated or stifled by keeping inside the boundary lines God established, but we soon learn that life outside the lines is messy and confusing and not nearly as attractive or fun as it first seemed, but by no means does this imply that we cannot color/live with great passion, exuberance, and creativity within the healthy and safe boundaries that God has established, so commit today to making your life a lovely, colorful, and creative picture colored by you just for God that he can hang on his refrigerator with pride and delight when you hand it over to him when you're finished, and remember, for your own enjoyment along the way color with exuberance INSIDE the lines he has established to protect you!:) Also, if it is your desire to carefully color inside the lines of the picture your life is, it might be wise to familiarize yourself with the boundaries God has established by reading his word regularly because you might be surprised by how easy it is to unwittinly scribble in some areas of life when we get distracted by the ever changing views and opinions of the world around us!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Garden of Weedin'- An Apologetic Blogger's Excuse

I have been dreadfully absent from my blog since summer began, and I have an excuse and an apology for you because of it!:) As the first warm rays of sun kissed the earth to announce spring and ready the soil for seeds a plan was birthed in my heart and mind from my home's desperate need for landscaping and my heart's equally desperate need to proclaim my love and gratitude to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for sustaining me in the storms of life in the most miraculous ways that have allowed me to truely experience LIFE, yes, an all-caps life in spite of tragic circumstamces! During the Easter holiday, I was reminded of an old hymn I had learned in my childhood entitled Because He Lives. Its lyrics say, " (vs. 1) God sent his son, they called him, Jesus; he came to love, heal, and forgive; he lived and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. (chorus) Because he lives, I can face tomorrow; because he lives, all fear is gone; because I know he holds the future, and life is worth the living just because he lives. (vs. 2) How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives but greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because he lives. ( repeat chorus) (vs. 3) And then one day I'll cross the river; I'll fight life's final war with pain; and then as death gives way to victory, I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know he reigns. Anyway, this hymn took on such personal meaning to me as I celebrated the Easter holiday, and I became more and more aware that the LIFE I had the privelage of living was solely in all-caps because of the relationship I have with God only through Christ Jesus because he overcame my sin's punishment (death on the cross and separation from God) by raising from the dead that first Easter morning and establishing the possibility for me to LIVE my life in the peaceful, joy-filled presence of my creator, and folks, this realization spurred me on to dedicate the flower and vegetable gardens that have been devouring all my time since the onset of spring to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in order to establish a means of daily remembrance of the fact I get to LIVE life courtesy of him and the joy, peace, and contentment he funnels into my life with no regard for circumstance! As a result, the Because He Lives Memorial Gardens, which require a great deal of time and effort to maintain even though it is only 75% complete was estabished on the grounds surrounding my home. My sincere attitude of joy and thanksgiving requires me to make such a huge tado because I recall a time before God's healing had touched my soul when I had thoughts like, " I wish everyone would stop making such a big deal about surviving a stroke because its really nothing to be happy about because I'd rather have died than have to live like this, " and "Its handicrapped not handicapped because this is a load of crap!" I hope that gets a WOW response out of you in comparison to the current state of my spirit once I gave God a chance to do his thing in my heart! I was near suicidal, in fact, I can remember half-heartedly considering slipping beneath the bubbley water in the tub once just to end the daily struggle I experience, but now, with God's healing touch only possible through Jesus Christ, I sincerely love my life and embrace my disability...THAT'S A MIRACLE, and I am sorry that my desire to celebrate that miracle through the hobby of gardening has kept me from my writing ministry for several weeks. Although my tribute garden is a fountain, two benches, a swing, a flag pole, several rose bushes, and various decorative finishing touches away from completion, it serves its purpose as a daily, visual reminder of the healing of mind, body and spirit for which I am eternally grateful! I hope to post some pictures as soon as I can figure out how to do it, so you can see it yourself and watch my garden's progress toward completion:) Just so you know, I am hoping to arrange a couple of areas for Bible study and reflection within the flower section of my garden, hence the need for benches and the swing. One such area is to have a fountain reminiscent of the one in a garden at the Rehabilitation Institute where I spent a month after my stroke and before my heart surgery. Near the cite for that fountain is already planted a weeping pussy-willow tree representative of the mourning that took place immediately following the tragedy. This was flanked on both sides by a plant named bleeding heart to symbolize my heart surgery. Unfortunately, I have already killed both of these:/ I hope to replace them with roses as soon as finances allow! Although not planned, how appropriate because God took my bleeding heart and replaced it with the beautiful, sweet fragrance of joy and peace! My point tonight, once again, is God is awesome, and not only desires your love and devotion, but fully deserves it!:) I face tomorrow and everyday of my disabled future with peace, hope and joy instead of fear, disappointment, and bitterness, so I sing at the top of my lungs, "[only] because he lives, I can face tomorrow! Because he lives, all fear is gone! Because I know he holds my life is worth the living just because he lives!"