Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some Thoughts....

I won't be able to sleep without at least typing all this, even if I decide not to post it just yet, so here goes...

I'm not looking to start an argument, or even a discussion. So if you still disagree when you get to the end, that's fine.  But please don't make nasty comments or try to change my mind, because you won't.  Just like I am well aware that this blog won't likely change yours.  That's the job of the Holy Spirit. 

Lately there's been a lot of comments and statuses and blogs written about the big H word.  Should Christians participate or not?  Is it really a big deal?  And everyone seems to have an opinion.  I am no different.  I just happen to come down on the opposite side of most of my friends, family, and the general population.  And I'm ok with that.  In fact, I'm rather used to it.  But I have some thoughts I'd like to share anyway, beyond the standard arguments against Halloween (most of which I agree with, by the way) that are new thoughts for me in my discussions and ponderings recently.  I'd like to think these thoughts come from the Lord, but maybe they're not.   Anyway, I will try and keep my passionate rantings to a minimum here! 

1.  If you want some good Biblical support for not participating in HW (I don't feel like typing Halloween a hundred times!), you can read this article: http://www.prophezine.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=676%3A10-reasons-i-kissed-halloween-goodbye&catid=41%3Atop-headlines  She's already written a very well thought-out and researched article, so I don't feel the need to repeat or rewrite any of it. 

2.  http://troublefacemom.com/2012/10/31/on-halloween/    This blog has been popping up on my newsfeed this week.  I don't entirely agree, but I don't entirely disagree.  I don't agree that we can say "I know HW is evil and bad and yucky, but we just don't participate in those parts."  Folks, that argument screams hypocrisy!!  Maybe not in the way most people like to pin that word on Christians, but by definition, it's hypocritical to say you don't believe in or agree with something but you're going to do it anyway!!  Which is exactly what this writer says.  Let me put it to you this way.  If someone baked a big tray of your favorite brownies  (cupcakes, pie, cheesecake, or whatever dessert strikes your fancy) but they put a big layer of poop on the bottom of the pan, would you eat the brownies???  Would you say, "Well, I know the bottom is nasty, but I'll just eat the top and everything will be fine."???  Don't you think that saying HW is evil, but you're only in it for the candy is pretty much the same thing?  In the Old Testament are numerous laws about what makes things clean or unclean.  It's quite clear that if something defiled touches something clean, the clean thing becomes defiled.  But it doesn't seem to work the other way around.  So how can one say that participating in something not honoring to God won't in some way defile them?  Probably the same way you would say you could eat just the top of the poopy brownies and not eat any poop.

Now, I do agree with this writer in the sense that we should be showing the love of Christ to our neighbors.  However, I don't think that means we need to celebrate HW in order to do so.  If we are out in our neighborhoods, being kind, helping those in need, and getting to know people all year long, then our love for them and for the Lord should be evident already.  And if that's the case, chances are pretty good that they will actually respect us for not sending our kids trick-or-treating or passing out candy to kids that do.  If we live out our faith the other 364 days of the year, people will be hard-pressed to judge us for taking a stand against something we've already established does nothing to honor the God we say we serve.  And for the record, Jesus did not have to join in any sinful activity in order to reach sinners.  And He doesn't tell us to either.

3.  In continuing the previous line of thought, if we are truly living out our faith, in true holiness and reverence for God, people should not expect us to celebrate HW.  By that I mean, they should expect us not to.  After all, no one expects Muslims, Hindus, or Jewish people to celebrate Christmas or Easter.  Why not?  Because the foundation of those holidays have nothing to do with those faiths.  Halloween has nothing to do with faith in Christ.  Nothing.  It has everything to do with Christ's enemy.  So by celebrating it, in whatever "harmless" form people may choose, isn't that sending a message that is at best confusing, and at worst hypocritical??  Confusing because it's saying, again, "We know it's really about evil, death, and the devil, but it's ok because we don't believe in that stuff."  So does that mean that people can love and serve the Lord but participate in all other manner of sinful things, but it's ok as long as you don't really believe in it??  How is anyone supposed to know what's right and wrong when we are sending such mixed message?  And we've already covered the hypocritical aspect.  It seems to me that celebrating HW is actually more hypocritical then, than having a conviction that something is wrong and refusing to participate even when everyone else is.  If a Muslim, a devout one who truly tries to follow their faith, put up a Christmas tree and handed out gifts (because there's nothing wrong with giving gifts), would you respect their faith as genuine?  Not likely.  If a Hindu person gave their kids Easter baskets (because it's just candy!), would you think they were really devoted to their gods?  I doubt it.  And yet, many genuinely-loving-the-Lord Christians are going to dress up their kiddos and take them out to participate in a completely worldly event that at its core is ugly and wicked.  Sorry, but I just can't make that work in my brain or in my heart. 

4.  The fact that it's such a hot-button topic ought to make us think there's more involved here than just costumes and candy.  I mean, isn't one of the devil's goals to divide believers?  If we are divided against each other, then we aren't united against him.  That makes us weak and ineffective.  And the very fact that people who choose to participate get so defensive about their choice makes me think that deep down, they know they really shouldn't be doing it but don't want to admit it.  I know I get that way when I know I'm wrong!  To be quite honest, I don't feel I need to defend my choice not to participate.  I hope that's not how any of this has sounded.  Like I said, these are my thoughts on the matter.  And if you still disagree, it's ok; we can still be friends. :)  But I hope you will at least consider it, and pray about it.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Silence No More

I know I will have to explain all of this at least 100 more times, but for those of you who read this blog, here it is:
Yes, James can now hear!!!!  And yes, he hears pretty much everything you and I hear, just not as loud.  The volume is set very low in order to give him time to adjust.  No, he has no idea what any of it means yet, nor does he really seem to care or notice that he hears.  This is normal and it will take a few weeks for his brain to begin to recognize and respond to the sounds.  The good news is that he doesn't seem bothered by sound.  Imagine going from absolute silence (which you and I can never truly experience!) to a noisy world full of voices, dogs, phones, music, sneezing, running water, rain, crinkling paper, clomping feet, car horns, etc.  It's a very overwhelming thought, and some kids can get quickly overstimulated and stressed out.  James is so easy-going, though.  The only thing that shows us he's noticing something different is that he has been having a hard time sleeping the last few nights.  Otherwise he is his usual happy self, just with some added headgear.  :)

On Wednesday we went to the audiologist, our dear Dr. Emily.  First she put the processor on James's head and hooked it up to her computer.  She played a whole bunch of beeps and different tones that went directly into the processor through the cable.  When he heard a sound he was supposed to put a ring on a peg, or flip a disc into a dog (these are the same kinds of games she played with him during his previous hearing tests).  He did both of those things at all the right times, all pretty much without any expression whatsoever.  After that she turned on the microphones so that we could talk to him and he could hear us.  I had tried to not have any expectations, as every kid reacts differently, but he is so animated all the time, I really thought he would have a bigger response.  He did a lot of nodding, like he usually does, and at one point he did cry.  He sat stiffly on my lap for a bit too, but it didn't take him long to go back to his normal self.
I have been gradually increasing the volume, and he only asks to have it taken off occasionally.  He's not a big fan of the headband I had to concoct in order to keep it on his little head though!  All in all I think he's doing extremely well, and I hope that somewhere in his brain are the memories of the sound he used to hear as an infant.  Whether or not this will make a difference in how quickly he learns to process sound, we don't yet know.  But in my unprofessional opinion, it has to count for something!!

I'd really like to show you the video of the big moment, but neither blogger nor youtube wants to load it!  So sorry!!!!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Return to Me and Fall Fun

"God is the One who makes promises to His children and keeps them.  He keeps His promises even when His children sin and are unfaithful to Him."  Every chapter in my kids' Bible curriculum has one of these "God is..." statements.  (As a side note, we memorize these statements, along with a Bible verse, every week.)  My most recent free-for-review read from Bethany Publishers beautifully illustrates this truth.  Return to Me, by Lynn Austin, is the story of the Israelites who were permitted to return to Jerusalem from their exile in Babylon in order to rebuild the temple.  (You can read the actual story in Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah.)  Austin brings to life several main characters and their struggles with faith, or a lack thereof; the difficulties faced in Babylon as well as those experienced back at home in Jerusalem; and the faithfulness of God to His people, unfaithful and uncommitted as they were.  While this was not the most exciting book I've ever read, with its jumping back and forth between multiple main characters it seemed to drag at times, it certainly brought a lesser-known Old Testament story to life, along with the prophet Zechariah.  And although I would never want the responsibility or pressure of having to speak for the Lord, reading this book did make me desire a closer relationship with the Lord, where He speaks to me personally and clearly.  In my opinion, that's a successful and satisfying read!

Now, for the update of our fall thus far...  Homeschooling is going very well.  Both kids are getting all A's.  Or at least they would be, if I was keeping a grade book!  As I mentioned above, our Bible curriculum, God's Great Covenant, has a "God is" statement for each lesson, which we memorize.  So far we have learned 5 of these truths, along with a corresponding Bible verse.  We alternate that with the Bible Writer, which gives a verse about God for each letter of the alphabet.  God is awesome, blessing, Creator, etc.  We are up to the letter F in that one.  They have to write the verse on Friday as part of their spelling test, although I don't count the spelling yet.
We have studied the 5 senses, the water cycle and thunderstorms, the seven continents and four oceans, and fire safety; we've written a psalm, a poem about pumpkins, and assorted other things.  Both kids wrote photo essays; they even took their own pictures!  We've read dozens of books and learned about nouns - common, proper, and pronouns.  We will be starting a unit on verbs this week.  Thrilling, I know!  Liana just finished a Magic Treehouse book about gorillas and will be making a poster about them this week.  Aedan has a sudden interest in the Vikings (the real ones, not the football team!), so he will be doing a report on them.
During our school time James has his own "work" to do.  He works on sorting, matching, and naming colors, puzzles, stringing beads and lacing cards, and tracing patterns to help with his writing and drawing.  He has his own desk, notebook, and pencil box.  But he doesn't always cooperate, especially when I make him duplicate a pattern of colored blocks.  He's not very good at it, and he puts up quite a fuss!  He still has a hard time identifying colors consistently, and his therapists aren't too sure why.  We've talked about color blindness or deficiency as a possibility, but we've pretty much ruled that out.  One-to-one counting is still difficult too, and we've only just begun number recognition.
Overall he is doing really well, though!  We had our follow up with the cardiologist who specializes in heart rhythm.  Basically he had no answers for why James's heart stopped during surgery, but he wasn't overly concerned either.  He said all the doctors and anesthesiologists have been and will continue to discuss his case, which is reassuring.  He did make him wear a heart monitor for 24 hours, just to be sure.  We won't get those results for a week or two.
This week is a big week for James, too.  We go on Wednesday to get his processor, and he will hear for the first time in over 3 years!  He knows he's getting it, but he really has no clue what's about to happen when he does.  But I do, and I am SO excited.  I have no idea what his reaction will be, but as animated as he is, I think it will be big.  It might be negative at first, as it can be scary to suddenly hear noise you can't understand.  But everyone is very optimistic that he is going to do very well in the long run.

Here are some pictures of our trip to see the duck, and to the pumpkin patch!  I'll post a video of his reaction on Wednesday later this week!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Rebellious Heart

It's book review time again!  I recently finished A Rebellious Heart by Jody Hedlund (received a free-for-review e-copy from Bethany Publishing), and it was possibly my favorite one from this author so far.  Jody Hedlund has a terrific skill for bringing characters to life and telling an exciting story, while at the same time addressing tough questions of morals and ethics.  A Rebellious Heart is set in the pre-Revolutionary War era, in New England.  In history class we all learn about the events that led up to our founding fathers' rebellion against the king of England, but this story brings to light some of the struggles the colonists faced because of the king's tyranny.  It also raises questions of conscience, such as "When is it ok to break the law?" and "Is doing the right thing in the face of danger worth the risk?"

In this story, people must go against everything they once believed in to help the cause of freedom, both  for individuals and for the nation.  They must stand dangerously against the government, their families, their friends to do what they believe is right.  For some there are physical consequences for what is perceived as treachery and breaking the law.
But what if they hadn't done so?  What if no one back in the 1700s decided that the laws were wrong, that the king had gone too far in his oppression, and that all life is valuable no matter the economic or social standing?  What if they hadn't been willing to risk everything in order to change the future of the nation? Perhaps others coming after them would have been willing.  Maybe the Revolution would have happened eventually.  But maybe the United States of America wouldn't exist as we know it.  Maybe we would just be another oppressed country, at the mercy of some tyrannical ruler who only values himself.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with all this.  Here it is.  Our country is in trouble.  Our freedoms are being threatened and even taken away.  Babies are being murdered.  Sin is rampant and in many ways, encouraged and glamorized.  And the church is largely silent.  We sit back and let these things happen, afraid of making waves or offending someone.  We consider our personal comforts of utmost importance and are unwilling to help those in need around us.  We accept sin in our entertainment, our culture, and even our personal lives.  I am my no means innocent in this.  But I think it's past time we started taking a stand, doing what we can to make a difference.