Sunday, September 30, 2012

World Day of Bullying Prevention

"There is a social hierarchy in all schools we all know the rules to even though they go largely unspoken. It is a stupid, broken system, but one that persists none the less. The only time anyone dares to say the rules out loud is when some well-meaning friend intervenes to either caution someone on their choice for a date request by saying, “dude, she’s outta your league” or to remind someone that to be seen talking to someone beneath his own current level is to be committing social suicide. Without ever being formally told how these circles work, everyone just automatically knows. ...When someone successfully jumps social circles it is worthy of observation, and I have had the chance to watch one person do it very well. 
"I knew this kid for three years, but I didn’t know how special he was until I encountered him in the cafeteria near the beginning of his senior year. That is when I realized that he made it his mission to make sure no one ever sat at a table and ate alone. It didn’t matter who it was, what their social status was, or how weird the rest of the student body perceived the loner to be, this young man sat down and talked to the student through the lunch period. Of course, he had a normal group that he ate with most of the time, but he left to branch out several times each week. Sometimes he joined the “cool” group. Sometimes he joined the athletes, sometimes the musicians, sometimes the academics, sometimes the drama kids…it was a revolving door." ~ Mary Kramer
To read the rest of this inspiring article, visit the Blue Shirt Day Facebook page.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Heartbroken Excitement

That's how I feel. Yesterday was my first day volunteering for an organization that helps foster children, which is something I've wanted to get involved with for a very long time, so I'm so thankful for the opportunity! This organization is making a positive difference in the lives of many children of all ages, right here in my little corner of the world; and now I get to witness it first-hand, which is why I'm super-excited.

And yet . . . the first thing I had to do was sit at a desk and read page after page of information that filled me with deep, heartbroken sadness. I've read stuff like that before, but only in a book or newspaper, and those were written by strangers far away. This was here. Now. 

What can I do to help? I know how to be a friend, to love children, to give them attention and guidance. If a child's biggest problems were failure to thrive or neglect, I think by the grace of God I could help them with my current skill set. But what about the other, more difficult issues? What can I do? 

Then I stop and remember - I'm only a freshman - four more years of training stretch out into the horizon. And God will equip the called, and He loves these children and has a purpose for everything He allows. And He loves me, as I sit here unable, heartbroken, and so very excited. 

Speak out on behalf of the voiceless,  
and for the rights of all who are vulnerable.
Speak out in order to judge with righteousness  
and to defend the needy and the poor.
Proverbs 31:8-9

Monday, September 24, 2012

Garlic, My Friend

I love garlic! Every time I start to catch a cold, garlic is there for me to ward it off. Here's what I take: 

2 cloves of raw garlic (very small bites)
an apple
and a tall glass of water

It's hot, it's spicy, and some say it stinks; but hey - it does the job. Here's an article I just found that offers some alternative ways to take raw garlic. Praise to the Great Physician who provides us with such amazing foods!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Which Pleasures?

Moses chose "to suffer affliction with the people of God [rather] than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25). So  . . . it's true: there is pleasure in sin. We know this, and yet we don't; because who would sin if there were no pleasure in it?

Some say that when you get saved, God changes your want-to, taking away your old desires and giving you new ones instead. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any Biblical support for this magical exchange, and my experience confirms that the old want-tos are still there. Of course, new ones have come - God does give us new desires.

But the old ones are still there, which is why He says in Colossians 3:5, "So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God)."

The problem with the pleasures of sin is that they are fleeting - temporary, passing, only for a little while. And the other problem is that they are always accompanied by pain. The pleasures of sin are counterfeit pleasures given to us by the evil one, who only comes to steal, and kill, and destroy. Therefore, the pleasures he gives are laced with pain and hide a bitter slavery.

Real pleasure comes from God. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).

The pleasures the Father gives last forever. "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

And pleasures from Him are pure pleasure - no pain. "The blessing of Jehovah - it maketh rich, and He addeth no grief with it" (Proverbs 10:22).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New Mercies

Do you ever wish you could do other things while driving?
Maybe read a book?
Make eye contact in conversations?
Write a paper?

Or maybe, just maybe, you wish you could take pictures.

There should be a way to do this.
(If you already know how, please share! Lol.)

Driving to work in the morning, I encounter so many beautiful scenes.
Clouds in the valleys, between the trees
Mist rising from placid lakes
Clouds enveloping the road, so I have to drive straight through them
Hazy, painterly sunrises, where subtle pinks and blues sleepily stretch out on the horizon's edge

My eyes glimpse so much beauty, with no time to stop and capture it.

And then I think, maybe that's the point.
These are God's mercies, sent fresh every morning, intended to be wake-up kisses to kick off my day with Him. They are not random pieces of nature meant for me to say "Wow" and then post on Facebook so others can say "Wow." Instead, they are specially crafted gifts from our Creator. Our Father gave us this!
So today, appreciate the beauty God sent and thank Him, camera in hand or not.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Waiting to Be Adopted

This video tells the story of several children who want a home and family of their own. Could you be that family?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Is Art

The camp staff were seated around one long cafeteria table, discussing art.
"Photography is art," said one.
"Music is art," said another.
"Communication is art," said a third.
And a fourth chimed in, "Recreation is art."
Laughing inside, I said, "Life is art."
Someone across the table took me seriously and agreed quite enthusiastically. "It's true," he insisted.

Is it really? Is life really art? Well, think about it for a few days and see.
I did, and now I think so, too.

One thing's for sure - food service is art. Did you know how much thought and beauty can go into one salad? Or one fruit cup? One wrap or parfait? It's an art form, and it blesses the eye and the recipient.

What if we carefully arranged our words and actions with as much precision as a painter creating a masterpiece, or as much detail as a food prep worker arranging a salad?

It makes sense, really. We were made in the image of Yahweh, Creator of all that is beautiful. He is an artist. His first recorded act was to create something beautiful.

Then of course we are all artists. Life is art!

"And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:17).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Caffeine and the Brain

This semester landed me back in school, pursuing a degree for the first time. Which makes me one of those "non-traditional" students. It's fun! Reading, writing, and . . . well, thankfully no arithmetic yet.

This week, psychology required finding a scientific journal article about a psychoactive drug, and then writing a review of said article. After being introduced to coffee this summer (and surprisingly loving it!), its effects on the brain provided a natural topic for the research. A couple of words in the search engine on the school library's website, and wa-la!

"Coffee, tea, chocolate, and the brain."

Two Spanish authors used a method called meta-analysis, looking at at least four studies done over the course of five years and integrating the results.

And here's what they found:

In low to moderate doses, caffeine improves moods, increases alertness and physical activity, and enhances cognitive capacities. Of course, in excess it causes irritability and disturbs sleep. So as long as we keep this thing in moderation, we'll be good. Right? =)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Good Shepherd

The thief comes
only in order that he may steal
and may kill
and may destroy.

I came
that they may have and enjoy life,
and have it in abundance -
to the full,
till it overflows.

John 10:10, Amplified Bible.