Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Science behind our Christmas


Science has definitely ruled this year’s Christmas. Since I’ve recently gained a few Scientifically nutty friends, I thought I would make a blog about some of this year’s gifts. This is going to take a few posts.

For Brother: A Heat Swirl Stick

This idea came from Mr. Wizard. (Thank you Steve Spangler for mentioning this great TV scientist of yesteryear.) Hold this near any heat source and the rising warm air will twirl it.

First I duct taped three pencils together.

Then I put a needle in the eraser and secured it with glue.

I cut a paper plate into a swirl, and had my son decorate it with markers.

Then I glued a thimble to the center.

To play: Place the thimble on top of the needle. Hold the stick near a heat source, like a space heater (but not too near). The swirl will begin to turn.

Recap: You need duct tape, three unsharpened pencils, a needle, glue, a paper plate, crayons or markers, a thimble, and a heat source (a space heater or a vent works well).

For Sister: Packing Peanuts Sculpture


 


 
 

 
 
I saw this at Big!Lots. I’d saved “ghost poop” from a shipped box.

When I found out you could wet dampen them and stick them together, I knew I had a great gift idea.

First we colored our white peanuts with permanent marker.

Then we planned out our sculpture.

Finally with a small bowl of water, we stuck our creation together.

Recap: You need packing peanuts (ghost poop kind), permanent marker (or get colored ones), and water.

For Mom: Photo Flowers

The photo flowers use a tie dye concept. That’s pretty much where the science ends, but not the math.

First I printed up this pattern (made from an outline of a picture tube on my Corel photo shop program). I sized the pattern to fit on a half-sheet.

I cut two fun foam flowers. (I asked my kids, "How many flowers can you fit on one piece of fun foam?")
With a permanent marker, I drew a dot.

Now the Science: I used rubbing alcohol from an empty food coloring dropper to spread the marker. Don’t worry about going too far on the petals. I went about a fourth of the way up. This tie dye effect makes the flower look tropical.

Then I glued the fun foam flowers together in the center.
 
 
 
Next, I cut a small photo of my child into a circle. The circle is about the size of a soda bottle cap. I glued the photo to the center. You may decide it doesn’t need a photo, and skip this all together.

The flower was looking pretty good already, but I wasn’t done. It needed a stem.


 


 

The stem is made of wire covered in floral tape, and glued to the flower.

To finish it off, I glued a small piece of green construction paper on the center.
Recap: You need fun foam, glue, floral tape, green construction paper, wire, rubbing alcohol, a dropper, permanent marker, scissors, pencil and card stock (for the pattern).
 
 
Note: I used hot glue for these crafts, but you may find that another type of glue works better.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Decorating for Christmas using STEM: Snowflakes

Your youngster is making paper snowflakes. You can just fold, cut and unfold the paper. It's kind of fun. 


OR...
You can count the number of times you fold your paper.
If you fold it in half and then in half and then in half, you are actually folding 8 pieces of paper on the next fold.
When you make your cuts, how many pieces of paper are you cutting through? Check your answer with the pieces cut out.
Don't forget to count folded pieces as two!

When you're done cutting, open the snowflake. What shapes did you make? How did folding and cutting create those shapes? How many folds and cuts went into each shape to create it?





There are two basic folds that make really good snowflakes.
The square fold
how to fold a sheet of paper for snowflake
from: toddler-net.com
and the traditional "snowflake" fold


from: www.bayshore.k12.ny.us

Can your youngster figure out why these two work so well?

THEN you can connect this to Social Studies. Did you know that China has an art form almost as intricate as Japan's origami?

It's called Jianzhi (剪纸). And some of them are pretty impressive:
From: www.absolutechinatours.com
Chinese paper cut - gold fishes 
                                                                                                      from: carreycookies.wordpress.com

So, are you "just making paper snowflakes" or are you decorating with STEM?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Parable of the Science Toy



from MS Clipart


Brian got a new toy from SteveSpanglerScience.com. It was a stick. Not just any stick. This stick flashed colors and made noise every time Brian touched both ends of it. It was a cool toy.

From SteveSpanglerScience.com
Brian held his stick and made it blink. And again. And again. And then he set his stick down and played with other toys. Soon he forgot all about his really cool stick.

One day, Brian was watching The Spangler Effect, and learned about the science behind that blinking stick. Electrons were actually jumping across his body to complete the circuit and make the stick work. Cool!
From SteveSpanglerScience.com

Brian looked at the stick with new understanding. It wasn't just a cool toy anymore. It was a the makings of a scientific experiment. Or maybe a hundred experiments.

Faith is like that stick. It makes us happy when come in contact with it. It can comfort us when we sorrow. But in the end it's not enough to blindly believe or even blindly behave. We may be faithful for a time, even performing a multitude of good works. Eventually, we will ask, "What's the point?" If we don't know the answer, then our faith will seem unnecessary. Until we have quit believing altogether.

So what's missing?

Most people believe that God is a God of Love, a God of Mercy. We have faith in Him when we believe and do His works. I believe that, too.

But He is also a God of Intelligence.









My faith is not meant to be just a thing I do, anymore than Brian's stick was meant to be just a toy.

God wants us to figure out WHY having faith in Him is so important. He wants us to ask questions, experiment with our faith, and essentially understand the "science" behind it.

God doesn't answer all my questions right away. That's okay. I'm on His timetable, after all. But I'm not going to stop asking. If I did, I would get bored really fast. Instead, I try to learn not only What is God's will, but also Why He wants it.

And when I know the Why, it makes the What that much easier to follow.

Click Here to see all of Steve Spangler Science Toys.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Parable of Santa Claus

If you haven't seen Sana Claus 2, you might want to see it before reading this parable. It will make more sense if you do. Go ahead, watch it. I'll wait.
 (pic from Yahoo Movies)
Did you see it? And now you're back? I'm flattered.
 
The Santa Clause 2 - After mysteriously "de-Santafying," Scott Calvin (Tim Allen)falls for Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell), the principal at his son's high school, during a magical sleigh ride.
pic from artistdirect.com
So, remember the scene where Pamela comes up to "Scott" and recognizes him as Santa Claus? Scott didn't have a big belly, or white beard or anything that would peg him as Santa, yet Pamela knew him, because she believed in him.

Jesus
        Christ Fishermen
Pic from Mormon.org

Well, that's how it's going to be when we meet Jesus. Christ may not look anything like artists' portrayals of him. In fact, there's a very good chance he won't.

But if you and I truly believe in him. If we truly follow him, it won't matter what he looks like. We'll know it's him. 
We'll just know.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fairies Love to Read


If you happen to be near the El Dorado County Public Library in Placerville, CA, stop by the Children’s department. Tucked into the nonfiction section an enchanting neighborhood of fairy houses is on display.


Glimpse of the fairy world through these charming houses, and learn what the author of Sherlock Holmes, the editor of the New York sun, and others say about fairies. Each house is highlighted with some fantastic facts and Fairy-approved recommendations available at this library.

 
Whether you believe in Tinker Bell and the many friends of Artemis Fowl, or you just have an appreciation for recycled art, be sure to check out the display…
And then check out a few fairy books.

For the library’s location and hours, click here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE: My Review




I just watched Sound of Music Live, Click here for the website. This is my review of it.
In a Nutshell: if you forget that the story takes place in 1938 Austria, and ignore all the political and social issues surrounding that time period, it’s a pretty good production.

That’s not a hater comment or sarcasm either. In fact, I think the acting is sound, the pacing impeccable, and the arrangement of musical numbers a very wise choice.

If you are looking to watch a period piece, however, look elsewhere. In order to fully enjoy Sound of Music Live, I had to completely take it out of context in my mind. Instead, I had to think of it as a retelling of a fairytale. This play worked well as complete fiction.

For example, I had to forget that the color of Mother Abbess’s skin would never have been so dark. Again, I’m not being racist or sarcastic. I think Audra McDonald was an excellent choice based on her acting and singing. As long as I pretended that this story was never true, I could truly appreciate her talents. If ever I remembered that this was supposed to be 1938 Austria, the story was unbelievable.
For another example, I point to Frau Shrader. As a fairytale, I could believe her to be the president of her own corporation. I could picture her owning a plane. As a possible fiancé of Captain Von Trap, she was a gross anachronism.   

On the other hand, I did like how all the sets could have easily come from Beauty and the Beast. I’m guessing that the Von Trap Mansion was the Beast’s Ballroom with a couch and his Balcony with an added fountain. The Beast’s Library and that “scary” Hallway seem to have been transformed into an Abby and the mountainous woods could have been those same woods through which wolves chased Beauty. Perhaps the sets were borrowed? If so, that would be awesome.
The costumes and hair were subtly stylized from the late 1940’s, perfect for this fairytale version of Sound of Music. It reminds me of the way King Arthur’s time is so often portrayed, grossly out of whack from the Medieval period. To me, this was another indication of how this play should be viewed and enjoyed.   

Ironically, this freshly-labeled “Live” production actually used some classic filming techniques. One very classic technique was the placement of furniture and blocking of actors to mimic the stage. Also, extra stagy dialogue and set transitions reminded the viewer that this was a “stage production,” though the camera always had a wider viewing angle than your average theatre audience. These stage-on-film techniques have been used since the black and white days, when film was expensive and when scenes taken in a single shot were desirable.
Would I recommend watching this production? Well, I would NOT recommend it to my hubby, or any of my wonderfully anal historian friends. Too many elements would bug them to death. I MIGHT recommend it to my friends who are too young to know the story, as long they promised to read the book and not judge it by the movie. I WOULD recommend it to my quirky theatrical and drama buff friends, because they would enjoy it for what it is.

 


 
 
 
 


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WHY NANOWRIMO?


 
 
 

Why did thousands of people set a crazy goal of 50K words in a month?

Why did writers all over the country start, fall behind, panic, and race to catch up the last week of November? 

Why did they sneak in a few words, a few chapters, between courses of Thanksgiving dinner?


Because they are writers!


We crazy, lonely sect who have a passion for the written word have spent the entire month of November trying to crank out 50 thousand words of a novel. Some made it, others failed. (I’m one of the failures.) Yet even those who didn’t reach that insanely high goal don’t feel like failures. I know I don’t.

Here's How My Month Went:
Week 1 - The hardest part was finding time to write. I cut out my usual online game breaks, ignored Facebook (and the laundry) and just wrote. The story was fresh and begging to be written. From the moment Honey disintegrated the corner of her blanket to her first bus ride to Hidden Hill High, I was off and writing.

The best day was that first Saturday when I caught up to the goal!
 
I was stoked. But I knew it wouldn’t last long. Tomorrow was Sunday.

Week 2 - I’d made a personal decision not to work on my novel on Sundays. I like to commit my writings to God’s worship on these days. Sticking to my conviction was hard, because it meant cutting four whole days out of November. But I didn’t regret it.

The second week, I was still struggling to find time to write, but the story was still on fire. Honey was making enemies and friends at her new school, and usually only disintegrating things when she wanted to. In the middle of the week, I found a solution to my time problem. I carried my smartphone everywhere I went and emailed chunks of the writings to myself.



Week 3 - Now, I was starting to get in trouble. The main plotline was complete. Honey had saved the day, and I hadn’t broken 20K yet. I began the online games and Facebook again. I was looking for something to add in those pinholes of my novel.

 


Have you ever had a cavity that the dentist thought was little until she started drilling? I was missing a whole chunk of Honey's character: her life before Hidden Hill. Didn’t she have any friends? Connections to her old school? Those things don’t just go away when you transfer. My story was reignited!

Week 4 - During Thanksgiving break, a friend gave me something you just can’t wrap: TIME. She watched my kids the whole day so I could write. How awesome is that?



I sat down at my computer to began filling plotholes. But first I grabbed that chunk I’d emailed from my smartphone. That’s when I saw an email from a fellow writer. She’s working on a narrative non-fiction about the damaging affects of addiction on enablers. I’d edited her book and had some suggestions for back matter. My friend needed me to send the back matter again. ASAP.

So my novel was postponed while I dug up the documents in question and sent them off. I wanted to get right back to it, but there was something else I needed more: SLEEP. I’d been up with the baby every night the week before. I decided my novel could wait, and sleep was more important.

So how many words did I write on my novel that glorious day with no kids? About 3000. By this point, I was pretty sure I would not make 50K.

Final Count - On November 30th, my goal was just to reach 25K. I knew I wouldn’t get all those promised goodies (I was really looking forward to the publishing opportunities), but I wasn’t near as disappointed as you would expect.

The final count was 26,214. Over my final goal, under my initial one. But I’m proud of every written word. I have a decent first draft of DetnoGirl, a YA novel about a high school sophomore who has a villain's superpower.

NANOWRIMO was so fun. So crazy. So awesome. And I hope to see all you writers there next year.

And Now? - Now, I’m putting DetnoGirl aside for two weeks. Maybe Honey’s too old for the story level. Maybe she’s not modern enough. Maybe she has the wrong classes. I don’t know. But I’m not touching it until I have fresher eyes to read with.

But you don’t have to wait. You can read my first draft here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wudfENO2mR5QrkZ4pp_A-kTBtzczRz9yf-JAtplisdE/edit?usp=sharing


Friday, November 22, 2013

What is this Blog about?

OK, I'm taking a break from writing in my novel, writing Parables, and even from Lectures From a Baby - (I'm promise #3 is coming). I want to tell you why I call my work Lexical Creations. I hear these comments when I give out my contact info:
"How do you spell that?"
"Why such a long email?"
"Couldn't you have picked something easier?"

Well, yes, I could have, but it wouldn't fit. You see, 

I'm all about learning. I know that you can - and should - learn something new everyday. Actually, I think you should learn a hundred somethings everyday. This is my CAN attitude:

  • You CAN learn to read at 3 years old.
  • You CAN discover science at any age.
  • You CAN improve a skill.
  • You CAN be smarter than you feel.
  • You CAN learn to use that computer.
  • You CAN figure out that problem.
  • You CAN choose to happy with what you have and yet...
  • You CAN have an insatiable curiosity.

Now, you found my Lexical Creations blog. You read the description and learned something about the word "lexical." You liked what was written in the posts (I hope) and decided to come back. So you either memorized how to spell the word, or you bookmarked it so you wouldn't have to.
Pretty Smart. 

Thanks for reading my Lexical Creations.
Now, don't you feel smarter?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Parable of the Painting

A man was studying a masterful painting in an art gallery. Then turning to another who also happened to be looking at the painting he declared:

"Isn't it beautiful Madam? I've studied this painting for quite some time, and I've come to a discovery, an epiphany really."

He paused and admired the painting some more. The women silently waited, curious.

"Look at those exquisite figures, that daring contrast. The immortally straight lines, the color, the texture!"

The women nodded her head. This was hardly an epiphany. But there was more.

"This painting is wonderful. So wonderful in fact, that no human could have painted it."

The women looked at the plaque attributing the masterpiece to the famous Rembrandt.

"Oh, I know some say it was him," The man had followed the woman's gaze. "But they are all mistaken. Why it's obvious that no human could have product such a divine piece of work."

The woman could be silent no more. "If not Rembrandt, Who then has painted this masterpiece?"

"This painting, my dear lady," The man smiled. "has painted itself!"

That is when the woman began to quickly edge away.
 
*Picture pasted from christusrex.org

Monday, November 11, 2013

Parable of Gratitude


A little boy received a microscope from his grandma. He had torn eagerly at the wrapping and now his eyes shown as he looked at the box. With an excited intake of breath, the boy hugged his grandma. “Oh thank you Grandma, it’s the coolest present I got today!”

Grandma smiled, pleased she had made a good choice. But she stopped short when her grandson asked, “What is it, Grandma?”

This would seem to be a tactless question. In fact, the boy’s mom probably blushed a bit. But the boy was sincere. He truly did believe that his grandma had given him a wonder gift. He just didn’t know what it was.

The boy’s grandma knelt down and helped him open the present. She showed him how to set up the microscope and prepare the slides. If the boy had been grateful before, it was nothing compared to the gratitude he felt when he knew more about the gift.

God gives us many gifts. Some we recognize and understand, and some not so much. While we should be grateful for ALL our gifts, sometimes it’s okay to ask, “What is it, God? How do I use this?”

And we will be surprised at how wonderful His gifts truly are.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

It's NaNoWriMo!

So, I'm working on DetnoGirl for NaNoWriMo, that's National Novel Writing Month, and I haven't spent much time on my other projects. But Look for these Great things I'll post on my blog shortly:

1. A Fairy's Blog - I'm working on a great display at my local library. I'll post some of it here, but you have to go to see the full effect!

2. Book teases - Find out about DetnoGirl and The Top Secret Super Scientific Notebook of Jay Adams, as well as other books I'm working on.

3. "Lecture Number 3: You Can't Crawl and Nurse" - That's right the baby will back to give another lecture on baby etiquette.

4. Tips and Tricks to get children (and their older siblings) to read!

5. And of Course Parables and humorous posters as I create them.

So, even though this month will be slow while I meet my writing goal, I promise it won't freeze the whole winter.

Thanks for following,
--JEN

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Parable of Heavenly Parenting




Before any of us came to Earth, God knew that some of His children would not make it home. Of course He loves us all, and wants us to be eternally happy, but He knew that some would make poor choices. Some of us would be eternally lost.
As I look at my youngsters, I wonder, am I doing it right? Is there something I could be doing better or more. Then I wonder if God sometimes had the same worries about us.
And Guess What? He did.
Book of MormonIn the Book of Mormon, Jacob tells a story about a lord of a vineyard. This lord is symbolic of God Himself, Lord of all the World. In Jacob 5:41, God asks his servant “What could I have done more for my vineyard?”
Remember that this story was quoted from an earlier source, thousands of years before the events actually happened. So then God could very well have been asking, “What can I do more for my vineyard that so many might not fall away?”*
In the end, we all can only do all we can, just like Heavenly Father. And in the end, that is enough.
 
*(Italics changed for emphasis)
Picture obtained from bookofmormonresearch.org - not an official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For the official Church website click here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

On The Same Page: Frankie Stein

On The Same Page: Frankie Stein: Prolific children's author Lola M. Schaefer teams up with Kevan Atteberry to create this adorable tale about learning to accept who y...
Gotta check out this book! :)

Parable of Time


Four-year-old Joey pouted in his car seat. The short shopping trip had not gone at all well. Mom would not buy Joey candy or toys or even a balloon!
As Mom emptied the car of boring stuff like milk, eggs, and chicken, Joey sulked.
"I'm staying in here forever!" he said.
Mom smiled. She had seen this sort of fit throwing before. "Come on Little Guy," she coaxed, "I'll make you a circle sandwich."
 
Joey looked at his mom. "Peanut butter and jelly?"
"Of course."
Joey's forever suddenly came to an end.
 
Like Joey's shopping trip, things don't always go the way we want them to. In fact, some of our trials can be downright discouraging, and they seem to last forever.
But just like Joey, our definition of forever is very different from our Heavenly Father's. What seems to be so hard and so long, is really "but a moment" in God's eyes. And what is so insurmountable to us, can be overcome quite easily with our Savior's help.
 
So, we can rebel when trials come. We can throw a fit when we see others with things we don't have. Or we can endure with patience and faith. We can notice God's blessings with gratitude. We can realign our definitions of time with His eternal perspective.
And somehow, doing that will make it easier. 
*All pics of this post came from Microsoft Clip Art

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Parable of Technology


About 100 years ago, Thomas "John" Crapper helped popularize an idea so odd, some thought it came from the devil.
While indoor plumbing, with all its conveniences, was really cool to the youngsters, their elders wondered why you would bring that "business" into the house.

Many were afraid and annoyed by the very idea, and rightly so. When someone flushed the new-fangled john, everyone in the house could hear it. And those pipes made downright scary sounds in the walls. As if that wasn't enough, the boiler behind the furnace also had the unsettling tendency to explode.

 

Today, a different kind of new-fangled technology is worming its way into the household. We youngsters think it's really neat, and it is, but those of a greater generation can see all too well the pitfalls and glitches of our techy toys. They consider social media evil, and not without valid argument.

To help younger eyes understand this parable, here's a parable within a parable:

Recently, I attended a writer's group to listen to a guest speaker. The group meets in an enclosed cubical within an art gallery.

During the meeting, a cell phone started ringing.
 
The guilty party, a well-seasoned gentleman, apologized for the intrusion and stepped out of the room to take the call. Unfortunately, the cardboard walls of the cubical did little to muffle his voice, and the high roof made the acoustics incredible. We heard every word.

When the gentleman stepped back in, the speaker tactfully asked the man to turn off his phone for the rest of the meeting.

"Oh, I doubt it will ring again." he said. And he sat down.

 I don't think he knew.


Like this gentleman's conversation, our online exchanges - no matter how private they feel - are going to be overheard.  

Does this mean the online social arena is dangerous? Most definitely. But evil? No.
 
So when you feel afraid of this foreign piece of technology, walk into your "water closet." Look at your porcelain throne, a modern version of the crapper. Or maybe turn on the shower and marvel how quickly and conveniently the water becomes hot.

That's what social media will feel like a hundred years from now.
*all pics in this blog came from Microsoft Clipart collection.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Parable of the Momentum of Faith

   Having faith is like riding a bike on a hilly trail.
   Nobody understands this better than 6-year-old Judi. Every day she rides her bike to and from school on a rather hilly bike trail. She knows that in order to propel her pink Road Princess forward, she must pedal a certain direction. She also knows that pedaling backwards will put the breaks on her wheels.
   Usually Judi pedals with confidence, finding the strength to climb uphill, with the aid of her momentum built up on the downhill parts. The minute Judi begins to doubt herself, though, and pedal backwards, the hills suddenly overwhelm her, and Judi struggles to continue.
   One day, Judi's older brother, Tom, who liked to run alongside the bike, looked back and saw their mom about 20 feet in their wake. Worried that they were getting too far ahead, Tom reached out and stopped Judi's bike. What the young boy could not have understood was that they were standing in the middle of an uphill climb.
   Once their mom caught up, and the two children started again toward the school. Judi, however, found it extremely difficult to pedal the rest of the way up the hill. Without her mom lending an occasional push, Judi might have failed completely.
   Faith is like that, you know.
   Each day you and I are on very hilly road through Life. As long as we pedal forward with faith, we build a momentum of strength that eases our challenges during the uphill battles. If we allow doubts or fear to slow, and even stop, our faithful trek, the task of moving forward again can be overwhelming. In fact, we may need an extra push - or three - to get us to a position where we can continue ourselves.

“We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner." #PresUchtdorf #ldsconf http://bit.ly/1b6cvPr

Pin this image to Pinterest: http://bit.ly/191XxtC

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Parable of the Hidden Step

When my little girl made a mistake, I reminded her of the steps of repentance. As she applied the repentance process, she felt overwhelmed.
   "I'm afraid I'll never learn how to be perfect." She told me.
   I recognized in my daughter the need for a lesson I had to learn myself about the Hidden Step of Repentance.
   In Primary, I was taught the four steps of repentance. These steps were often compared to a pathway to get back on the straight and narrow path Lehi talked about in the Book of Mormon, the way back to Heavenly Father's presence.
   Even before I was baptized, I was taught to
     1. Recognize my mistakes,
     2. Apologize to all I'd hurt (especially Heavenly Father),
     3. Right the wrong, and 
     4. NEVER do it again.
   After I was baptized, the steps of repentance became more important than ever, because now I am accountable for my mistakes. Now my mistakes are sins, because I know better. 
   For many years I thought there were only four steps. But something was missing. Like my little girl, Satan sometimes drummed up past mistakes and I found myself feeling guilty for them all over again. I'd repented, hadn't I? Why then did I still feel so bad about them?
   Eventually I came to realize that there is one more step. The final hidden step probably seemed so automatic to my Primary leaders, that they didn't think to teach it. I mean, once you've repented, you're forgiven. You're done, right?
   It may seem obvious that when your sin is forgiven you don't have to worry about it anymore. God wants us to forget it because He has already done so. Yet how many of us dwell on past shortcomings and worry that we might slip up again?
   How many of us tend to hop over that last hidden step -- and fail to forgive ourselves?

UPDATE: Today Mormon.org posted on Facebook with the same point as this parable, so I put it here -

"Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.” –Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Do not get hung up on your own struggles and imperfections. Turn your focus toward heaven, correct your course if needed, and allow the grace of the Savior to wash over you and know that you are forgiven.
http://mrmn.org/H29nJT
 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stanley's Parable


Stanley's Parable

We were the typical big family: Four kids... and a dog.
Every big family needs a dog, right? So we went to the shelter to get one. We looked at several, but fell in love with Stanley. He was an Aussie Shepherd mix, and we think he had some Saint Bernard. He was older, but still young enough to romp with the kids, yet gentle enough that they could do anything to him.

At first it was fine. I knew I was in charge of the feeding and cleanup, and he was just like another kid. I'd never grown up with a dog, but I was willing to take on the extra work. The kids loved him. And Stanley loved the kids. He was a good dog.

But he wasn't an outside dog. No matter how much we tried, Stanley could not get used to sleeping outside. And I could not get used to all the dog hair that ends up in everything. But the kids loved him, and he was such a good dog. And he seemed a little lonely for canine friends.

Then we moved. The new yard didn't work as well. He couldn't get his exercise out. I'd have to walk him. Which was fine; I could walk him to school with the kids. But I couldn't go on campus with him. Which was a problem. He was a good dog, but I was overwhelmed.

Then Stanley started barking. And chewing. I knew it was from lack of exercise. And having to stay outside all alone. We all loved him. But I couldn't take care of him. He needed a real family. One that would have a place in their house. One that wouldn't mind all the Stanley fur. One that had another dog to keep him company. And one that could provide him with adequate exercise. My heart was bigger than my ability. I didn't want to admit it.

Finally, Stanley's barking and chewing was too much. It was bothering the neighbors. It was bothering the kids. It was bothering me. I wanted to find another family for him, but Stanley had to go now. There was no time to find a better solution. I signed the papers at the shelter.

Then I got the call from the Aussie Rescue lady. "I have Stanley here. How could you take him back to the shelter? You know they could have put him to sleep."

This women then proceeded to interrogate me and jump to conclusions at every turn. First I wasn't feeding him enough, then I allowed him to get overweight. And I couldn't find the time to exercise him, but he couldn't get up and down the stairs. So, according to her, I had just dumped him at the shelter to get rid of him.

What could I say? I wasn't going to change her mind about me. She didn't have all the details, and deep down I knew I had made the right decision. This woman, who couldn't pick me out in a crowd, had made some pretty harsh judgments. And it wasn't fair.

It hadn't a snap decision. I had prayed about this, and thought about it, and tried other solutions. But I had finally found the best solution for me in this situation. I'd come to the realization that I raise children better than I raise dogs. I'm just not a dog person.

And something else. I loved Stanley, but not in the way he deserved. I couldn't love him enough to keep him and take care of him, I didn't have the ability. But I could love him enough to let him go and have a chance at a better situation.

Yet, I am grateful to that woman, of whom I can't recall the name, for her phone call. Now, every time I'm tempted to pass judgment on someone's decision, I think of Stanley. I think that no matter how much I think I know about a situation, I don't know everything.

And I'm not THE JUDGE.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Parable of the Tools

My friend once told me, “Facebook is evil.”
    

I've heard the same thing said about money, guns, and drugs. Truth is, none of these are bad things.
I could give you countless examples of when these tools have helped people, and even saved lives. And I know you could, too.

At the same time, we all know of lives that were literally destroyed because of these tools. How can a tool be good and evil at the same time? It can’t.

It's the love of money, violence with guns, misuse of drugs, and idleness on Facebook that are the real snares. These temptations, should we choose to yield, can become our undoing.
So next time you feel yourself slipping into evil, don’t blame the tool. Change your actions.
And use your tools wisely.

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