Friday, March 26, 2010
On Tuesday there was a snowstorm in Denver. Actually, when I got off work at 5, there was only rain and the sun was still up. So I went to the Sprouts "Farmer's Market" grocery store across the street, spent a half hour, and found my car covered in snow. But I couldn't bring myself to purchase the high-priced chicken at Sprouts, so I would have to wait to make the soup, however good soup sounded during a blizzard.
After a breakfast-for-dinner during the snowfall, my dad who loves to drive decided to joyride through the snow. We had fun. And at the end of it he let me run in to King Soopers where I procured the needed chicken. So I would make the soup Wednesday while snowed-in.
To my dismay, when I came upstairs at about 11:30 on Wednesday morning, the sun was shining and the roads were melted. I was just about to cook chicken when my family asked if I wanted to go to Chick-fil-a with them for lunch. Scrap the idea of a 2 PM lunch, and head for Chick-fil-a!
I prepared the chicken, celery, spinach, garlic, and carrots Wednesday afternoon, but didn't put the soup together. I waited for that until Thursday afternoon. With almost all of the ingredients pre-sliced, the pouring and boiling and simmering only took about a half hour. It looked like this:
And then I served myself a bowl of soup beside some fresh blueberry muffins (Betty Crocker with modifications: in the old days, she had us put water in the mix instead of milk, and though the instructions say milk now, I still just put in water; it tastes better!). Pour out some grape juice and some water, light a candle, and Voila!
It was good. I had some more several hours later. My brother tried it. He thinks it needs more chicken. He is a chicken fiend.
The changes I made to the Chicken & Gnocchi recipe I found were: I left out the onion and the cornstarch. I used heavy cream instead of half and half. And because I don't know what I'm doing, I used several cloves of garlic instead of just one, but I like garlic, so I don't mind. The recipe doesn't specify how much salt should be added, and I didn't put enough in at first. Next time I will pre-cook the chicken less; I grilled chicken breasts, which can still work if I watch more closely. Also the celery needed to be cooked longer before I added the chicken and chicken stock. Someday I may also try making my own gnocchi.
I made soup!
To God be all glory.
Friday, March 19, 2010
- Consistency: Have the same rules as much as possible, and make a big deal about changes or exceptions, and say why. Apply the same rules to everyone, even yourself (or explain the difference). Follow through with predictable consequences. Be persistent, even if the child disobeys again immediately after receiving punishment. Think about associations you're making for your child, for example, that taking a nap is a punishment - but then the next day the child is confused when you try to make a nap sound like a good and necessary part of your day, to which he should look forward. Be consistent: is a nap pleasant or unwanted?
- Correction: Instead of just saying, "don't do that" or "bad!", tell the child the desired virtue, like kindness, self-control, respect, or denying self. There is a time for "no, because I said so" in order that a child may learn to submit to authority. But parents are really trying to raise children whose character is strong and who will make good decisions on their own in the future (even the near future, like later that day).
- Communication: Spend time with your child and treat them like a person, not a trial. Look them in the eye when they are speaking to you. Use their name.
- Contrition: Model apologies by apologizing to your children when you mess up (when you forget to keep a promise, don't listen well, lose your temper). Include what you ought to have been or done, and ask for forgiveness. Talk about mistakes you made in your past, and how even though God is gracious and forgiving, there are real consequences.
- Congratulate: Take time to notice when your child is behaving well. Praise him for excellence, or for controlling himself. When a child is very young, he will respond to a positive note in your voice, especially during otherwise unpleasant things like diaper changes or accidental falls.
- Compassion: Sometimes life is sad. Tears are ok. Be a comfort to your child, and treat his emotions like they are valuable. A child may want you to fix his problem, offer advice that he can use to fix his own problem, or just give a good hug and sound "I know."
- Choices: (based on Love and Logic) Give your child choices, and enforce their decision. Break down larger tasks into small options: "clean up the blocks or the stuffed animals first" rather than "clean your room" (then offer another choice; the whole room must still be cleaned). Point out choices your child makes even when they weren't verbally offered, and identify those choices as having good consequences or undesired. Teach natural consequences.
- Courage: Let your child do risky things. Let him get hurt. Don't let him get run over by a truck, cut off his hand, or break his neck. But let your child learn that getting off the couch head first might be painful. Or let him learn how to maneuver himself on a ladder. Don't wait until high school and college to let your child make his own mistakes. Teach him that fear is to be overcome, but balanced with rational observation. If something is difficult for him, don't always come to the rescue, even if he gets frustrated.
- Complete: Teach personal responsibility by having your child complete one task or activity before continuing to another. When done with breakfast, clear the table before going to play. Clean up one type of toy before getting out another.
- Compliance: Insist on first time obedience. If you know that he heard you, and if your instruction was not exasperating, expect the child to comply before he does anything else (including throwing a fit). Don't count to three. Don't give warnings. Don't say an instruction, repeat it, yell it, scream it, and only have the child start to move when you stand up to move towards them. As soon as the disobedience occurs, announce a punishment and carry it out, even if the behavior changes after you announce the punishment. This sounds very strict, but only takes a few applications before the child gets the hang of things and will listen closely for instructions to do them right away.
- Commitment: If you promise to do something, do it. Especially if it is a consequence/punishment. Mercy is acceptable from parents, but consider: what is your motive for mercy? Are you lazy? Is your child too cute? Or will your child truly learn a lesson and grow in godliness because you show him mercy? Children feel safe in stable boundaries, in reliable statements from their parents. If you say they will get timeout if they take their brother's toy again, and then when he does it, you merely repeat your threat, your child still doesn't know where the boundaries are; he wants to find out. What do you think the child will do to discover the boundaries?
- Cooperate: Do things with your child. Do things the slow way so he can help. Include him in some "adult" activities, and let him know you think he can behave well - but don't be disappointed at first if he can't (think Pygmalion, Miss Doolittle at the Horse Races). Ask for your child's input or ideas. Let him ask you "Why?"
- Contact: Sometimes your hand must contact a resilient part of your child's body with some speed and force. This should not be done in anger or to satisfy your frustration. Try to administer discipline before you get frustrated. Recognize that your child is sinful and needs to understand that a behavior is wrong. Don't punish for accidents; punish for choices. I believe that "contact" is useful even at young ages when a choice is evident: 6 month old arches his back when you pick him up. Especially before age 1, the child needs to feel more firmness than pain, so be careful. Don't underestimate your children; they understand and learn much more than many people think. The Bible instructs parents to use a "rod" for discipline. Some parents today say that this does not work, that the child's behavior does not change. But this form of punishment is a deterrent, not a natural consequence. It demonstrates authority. Behavior change is not the goal for the present; "contact" is administered because the child needs to know that pain is a result of sinfulness. (If your 2-10 year old child can smile through "contact", you may need to use a small wooden spoon.) Their character is being shaped. Absolutely, seek out and use other forms of discipline - but do not spare the "rod."
- Caress: Physical touch should not be reserved for discipline. Give your child a squeeze now and then (and don't stop even as he gets older and seems to like it less). Comb hair. Pat backs. Hold hands on a fun walk because you want to be close (not only when in the street for safety reasons).
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
How can a 25-year-old act so much like a teenager?
Well, why do we make such a distinction between teenagers and people in their twenties? Why should we expect significant changes?
Perhaps what changes people into the typical 25-year-olds is experience, not time.
The social norm is for 25-year-olds to have graduated college. They’ve spent time among their peers even freer from elder supervision than high school. They have met ideas different from those by which they were raised. Sometimes students move out. Finances tend to be handled by the collegian, including the huge monetary investment or loan of a college tuition. After college, a 25-year-old has the pressure to make good use of that degree, especially regarding earning.
Most 25-year-olds have dated. Whatever you think of that custom, it has an undeniable effect, socially and mentally. Someone who has been in even one relationship has learned to interact with a person of the opposite sex on a level that is different from any other relationship. They have also learned to analyze their future in light of that relationship.
Many 25-year-olds are married. That interaction and analysis begun in dating (or courtship or engagement or whatever) has been made permanent. They have taken up marital responsibilities towards their spouse, established a home and family of their own. Commitment is not foreign to the married; they have given the biggest gift they ever can: all of themselves for the rest of their lives.
A lot of 25-year-olds have kids. Kids are a challenge. Parenting takes effort and patience and wisdom and sacrifice, right from the beginning. And it is a guaranteed job for years to come. Parents have less time to devote to wondering about their relationships with others, to play, to dream about the future.
As a 25-year-old, I have learned a lot and changed significantly since I was a teenager. My knowledge of the world and of other people’s ideas has grown. I know myself better. God is more precious and big to me than ever. I drive a car, and manage my finances. Experiences have led me to make friends my parents have never met. PG-13 movies are no longer off-limits. School is done. Institutional church is in my past. I own a business. My friends are mostly older than 18.
But I crave commitment. I worry about the future. My social skills around (and about) men are not what they could be if I was settled in as someone’s wife, if I had built up the experience of choosing a mate and being chosen. Kids are great, but I have no idea what it is like to have the burden of raising them or the joy of being the first person on earth to meet them. I don’t know how to grocery shop or cook every day. Play is still a large part of my schedule, and it can be at ridiculous hours like 2 AM.
To God be all glory.
Once upon a time I read a book, kept hoping it would make sense at the end, and when the end was not the resolution for which I had hoped, declared the book to be a bad one, and not worthy of recommendation. That book was much shorter than The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
I have never before read a Russian novel. My literary experience has generally skirted the classics. Against Tolstoy I am prejudiced, for his enormous works sat on the same shelf as Tolkien’s at the library, except Tolstoy’s were always waiting to be checked out while Tolkien’s occasionally visited their home nearby the famed Russian. The literature of
For The Brothers Karamazov does not end like a romance or a tragedy. The entire novel is like applied philosophy, the kind that is so like real life that it weaves a story. There are many ideas brought forward by Dostoyevsky’s portrait of the Karamazov family, ideas which are loosely connected and often contradictory. At the center of the tale is the trial of Dmitri Karamazov, the oldest son of the murdered Fyodor Karamazov. Willing to betray a woman, willing to lie, unwilling to steal but stealing anyway, willing to beat a man – but not willing to murder? Does integrity come by degrees? What if the same man is willing to take pity, willing to show gratitude, willing to be generous, willing to love? Can such extremes exist sincerely in one person?
Perhaps rather than claiming the book to be a study of evil’s causes and cures, it could be described as a description of the approach Russians have taken to evil.
Is evil innate? Is it taught? Is it a response to neglect and abuse? Does evil behavior spring from insanity? Is it the inevitable cause of rejecting God’s world – even if you still embrace God?
What about cure? Will science cure evil? Liberation? If a culture embraces the creed that “all is lawful,” will evil cease to exist? Can piety cure evil? Goodness? Vengeance? Mercy? Gratitude? What prevents evil? Honesty? Faith? Does the threat of law discourage evil? Does the church’s social influence deter evil?
Has the church been corrupted? Can conflict exist in the midst of the church or society, without at least one side representing evil? Has God been corrupted? Has God been lied about? Has the Devil? What is the Devil’s goal? For that matter, what is God’s?
What would a man take in exchange for his soul? If he could save someone he loved from damnation, what would he sacrifice? If he could save someone he hated? Would a proud enemy accept help?
What is the difference between remorse and despair? Forgiveness and disdain? Why do people seek after a sign? Must we walk by reason and experience, or is it possible to walk by honor and faith? Can a person love another and hate them at the same time? Can God?
I once read a book and kept hoping that the end would bring resolution, but I will not declare this book to be a bad book. I will humbly admit that I do not understand The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It has a lot to say about the psyche of
To God be all glory.
Monday, March 01, 2010
I called this edition Pigfest on the Roof, and nominally themed it off of Fiddler on the Roof, inviting people to bring a traditional side dish or dessert for the feast. But we did not meet on the roof. Instead, we crammed 21 adults and 7 children into my living room, kitchen, and hallway. I thought about taking pictures this time, but I am simply not that organized!
In the 3 hours we met, the Pigfesters engaged in seven separate debates. Everyone behaved very well, which made moderating rather easier. The topics were interesting and well-engaged.
- Because the government is anti-God and immoral, it would be immoral to pay taxes. Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. But what is Caesar’s? To how much was Caesar entitled? When the sitting executive’s face is not on our coin, as it was in Jesus’ day, is it still to be rendered to him? Does our personal judgment determine the justice of a tax? Is the income tax even legal? Is it rather unconstitutional? But the resolution was giving moral reasons for refusing to pay taxes, not legal ones. Must Christians submit to immoral governments? Is doing something morally wrong in the name of submission ok? In the Bible, children were wiped out with their fathers for the sin of the father, but we see no mention of justification because they were just doing what their fathers instructed. Do the layers of responsibility in the government protect us from culpability? That is, by paying taxes, are we not simply enabling the government to make good choices? That they make bad choices is a potential consequence of our trust. But, we are in a democracy where we the people choose our government. Some of our taxes do go to moral things, like roads. It was suggested that we look at the federal budget and deduct from our income tax a corresponding percentage to that which the government spends on immoral activities, and to enclose a letter of explanation. There is a doctrine of Lesser Magistrates, which discusses the conflict between obeying contradicting authorities or whether citizens are required to submit to authorities not established by the higher authority (in this case, the US Constitution). Jesus paid his taxes (the story of the coin in the fish).
- Men have no biblical responsibilities towards their families. Paul had to have been married, so it is possible he abandoned his wife for the call of God. (This was highly debated.) If a man does not provide for his own family, he is worse than an infidel – the Bible. A husband is to love his wife as himself, which often includes caring for her needs. At this point, the contributor of the resolution conceded that the Bible did have some responsibilities listed for men towards their families, so the debate shifted to what they are: What is the definition of men? It includes fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers. Brothers were commanded in the Mosaic Law to take their sister-in-laws as wife if they were barren widows (law of the kinsman-redeemer).
Lotis an example of a man whom we do not, in our culture, consider to have been a good father. He offered his daughters to the lustful crowd – and what’s up with that? But, was he a jerk, or was he righteous? Scripture is often addressed to fathers, which seems to be significant. Some of the sons of Jacob slaughtered a city to avenge their sister’s rape. Is that a responsibility? God is presented as a Father. Are we not to imitate Him? Does God have any obligations to His children? Obligations (and by implication, responsibilities) have to do with consequences. When God takes an action, he is responsible for the consequences, and thus obligated to abide those consequences… Likewise, a man is obligated to deal with the child he has if his wife conceives. God’s fatherhood is often demonstrated in punishment. But He is also merciful. Are fathers, therefore, required to imitate God’s grace as well as His chastising? Whence comes the impulse to provide and protect? If not from the Bible, and if not from the character of God, then where? has gotten worse since the Women’s Liberation movement. Worse was described as moral deterioration: divorce, abortion, crime. And the women’s liberation movement was specified as that movement that rose in the 60’s and focused on equal opportunity, women leaving the home for the workplace, and sexual liberation. Perhaps it is not the actual liberating of women that caused the moral decline, but the attitude women took. Are we talking about a cause of moral decline, or is the women’s liberation movement yet another symptom of a larger rebellion. It was a rebellion against God. “We hate men” was not the origin of the movement, but rather, World War II empowered women when men were unable to work the factories and women left the home to take up those responsibilities. Or perhaps women’s lib. started with suffrage. Are not all created equal, even male and female? Does that not apply to roles? The real wickedness of the feminist mindset is not, “We hate men,” but “We hate God.” For they are rebelling against God’s created order. Perhaps women, though, were not the instigators. Maybe men abusing their authority, really oppressing them (for example, physical violence) caused women to assert themselves. What does this subject matter today? Abortion is going on today, and is horribly unjust to fathers. They have no legal right to stay the murder of their own child. A result of the women’s liberation movement is that men were not allowed to be men, and so have abdicated their roles. But shouldn’t men have stood up against the women’s liberation movement and defended the God-given order? Those who did were slandered. Really, emasculation is a result of the Fall and the Curse, when God told Eve that her desire would be for her husband, it is the terminology of desiring to be “over” her husband, just like sin “got the better of” Cain. Women today do appreciate their liberties, without wicked motives, and make good use of them (women doing missions without their families). The Christian worldview has been proclaimed as the kindest to women. Are we kind to women to fight for equality in the area of sexual promiscuity? Should we not have fought for equality the other way, of neither men’s nor women’s promiscuity being acceptable? Even though we may disagree with the movement, we can use the women’s liberties today for good: a woman who doesn’t believe women should have the vote can choose to submit her vote to her husband’s views. The movement is continuing even today, but is evolving, and so is not necessarily from the same motives as the feminists had in the 60’s. America
- Sharing is unnecessary and not biblically supported. Sharing is defined as co-ownership, especially as opposed to lending. The distinction between (and comparative value of) giving and sharing was a theme throughout the debate. Are we saying that taking turns is unnecessary? When a child’s friend comes over to play, what is the host child to do? Should he keep his toys to himself? Or – perhaps he should truly give the toy, not expecting it back. Sharing is looking out for other’s interests, putting others ahead of yourself. [Ownership] rights are unbiblical. We put so much emphasis on our rights, but God calls us to give up our rights. Christians are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. Is there a difference morally between offering to share with someone else, and requesting that someone else share with you? Sharing may be unnecessary when giving is an option. But to whom are we to give? How much? Sharing makes life better and more efficient. Instead of buying a toy for each child in a family, they can share one toy. Sometimes there is no money to buy for each individual what they need, but they can have what they need if they all share one. How is hospitality done if not by sharing? God owns everything anyway; none of this property is really ours. God made us stewards, and we are to exercise wisdom and discernment in how best to use what He has entrusted to us.
- God withholds because we do not ask. If we are obedient to God, then we abide in God’s love, and God does what we ask. When we walk with God, He gives us the desires of our hearts. The Bible encourages us to entreat God – even to the point of nagging Him. How does God’s sovereignty fit into the equation? Is God really dependent on our actions? God gives some good gifts without prayer (common grace: rain falls on just and unjust; and special grace to Christians, but without us asking). When the Spirit intercedes for our weakness, what if our weakness is that we don’t ask for the right things? Can He bridge that gap? Generally that verse is not interpreted as praying for us when we are not praying, but interceding for us as we pray. God changes His mind when people act or plead with Him. Either God lies or He changes His mind, for he told Moses that He would destroy
, and then God didn’t. If our children acted that way, we would punish them… It seems best to act as though what we do and pray matters, regardless of what we believe about the sovereignty of God. Daniel knew God’s prophecy that He would do something at a certain time, but Daniel still prayed for it to happen. Is God’s plan allowed to be malleable? If not for that, could we have this redemption story: God creates the world perfect, but man sins, so God gets to demonstrate His lovingkindness by sending His only Son to die for us. Or did God plan it that way all along? Isn’t consistency an attribute of God? Maybe God must only be consistent within His character (for example, mercy). Israel
- Ownership for the sake of hospitality is the best kind of stuff and the best kind of ownership. Best is defined as optimal, in the short term and/or in the long term. People are not equivalent to “stuff.” The other reason to have a lot of stuff is to be like a dragon, hoarding riches and laying on them because they bring pleasure to you individually. Are families included in hospitality? If you own something for the purpose of benefiting others who are in your family, is that still the best kind? There is this trend toward larger and larger master bedrooms, which serves no hospitable purpose, but often detracts from available space for hospitality towards others. Hospitality, though, is an attitude, and can be demonstrated without stuff. Should we buy a lot of stuff to be hugely hospitable? There is a difference between purchasing stuff for the sake of hospitality and making hospitable use of stuff bought for other reasons. This resolution did not address the inherent value of the property in question (ought we to be hospitable with our Play Station?), but rather, with the motive in possessing it. Hospitality enables relationships. Maybe a better kind of ownership would be for God’s call: some people need their own space to refresh in order to do what God has called them to do. If it is impossible to share without making yourself useless, hospitality might not be the most important thing. We should be willing to give up property when God wants us to do something else.
- Intimate friendships with the same sex is just as important for men as for women. Intimacy was defined as vulnerability especially in the senses of accountability and sharing emotions. Men see the world differently: things versus relationships. Guys do have as intimate of relationships, but do not express them the same way as girls. Spending the day hunting and sharing a one-sentence commentary on their job (men) can be as intimate as a three hour conversation (women). But the argument of the resolution is that men need to express more – a lot of times, and not in a way that looks like women. Take, for example, David and Jonathan, who had a much closer relationship than what is common to men in our culture. Men are afraid to reveal themselves, especially for accountability. There is also a difficulty in expressing masculine intimacy for fear of seeming “queer*.” Are women really good examples of intimate friendships, or rather than holding each other accountable, aren’t we gossiping and discussing things that shouldn’t be said? Many men experience closer friendships with other men before marriage, and miss those relationships afterwards, but have been unable or have neglected to keep them up. Men have been influenced by the doctrine of individualism, so that they overvalue doing things on their own and not asking for help. The hard world necessitates a shell especially for men, who are in the world more than women. Men don’t have time for relationships. World War II hurt the willingness of men to be open, because they did not want to talk about the horrors they had witnessed or even committed. Were male relationships more prominent in the past or in other cultures? *queer in the sense of homosexual
Each 15-minute segment seemed to go too fast and be over too soon. The incredible value of Pigfests it that they do not allow you to really complete a topic, or all the aspects brought up in the debate. So we keep thinking and talking (and writing!) for weeks to come. I think it is interesting how there are often two themes weaving their way through the debate. At some points there were up to four people with their hands up waiting to speak, so the different threads were carried on well. For myself, I had prepared a resolution, but the things I wanted to bring up with it were touched on in so many of the other debates that I decided not to present mine for debate.
All in all I am quite pleased with how the night went. God answered all of my prayers for the party. As hostess and moderator and human being I felt more focused than I have at some Pigfests, and for that I also thank God.
To God be all glory.