Mix Up Your Stressful Nights

Weeknights can be stressful. It seems like the moment the kids come home from school the universe is set on a collision course with itself.  No that doesn’t make sense.  They get home and need food because the three block walk from school wipes them out and they must eat right now! Okay, I guess it has more to do with their early lunch time.  Hey, let me tell the story.  Anyway,  then they unpack their backpacks and papers are strewn about. You need to sign this.  I need this money for the school activity.  Some nights there are sports or other activities.  But there is always time for homework and then next best thing, complaining about homework.

School days are full days.

Tonight I was feeling the tension.  The kids were fighting. Then a couple of them were playing some random game that involved barking and marbles.  No, I did not understand it, but they were getting along.  That seemed to be going okay until they broke the glass jar.  Then there were tears.  In the next room homework was going on.  That was no going so well.  The way they are teaching math now is like a foreign language to me.  My attitude was going south quickly.   And then the suggestion: “Let’s play telephone”

How long has it been since I played telephone?  I mean that would never have been a suggestion I would have made.  Okay.  Let’s see what happens.  The kids started to come up with their phrases.  “The barn is green and yellow.”  Then there was something about ice cream and kibbles.  We were quickly laughing.  It is amazing how quickly the tension was gone.  There was no more fighting as the kids now tried to think of fun things to say. Looks like the kids figured out a way to bring some life to the boredom and tension of the evening.  My suggestion for you:  play a game of telephone and see what happens. Lighten up a bit and mix it up.  You will be glad you did.  I know I am. 

Where the Lines Get Blurry

The questions that surround religious freedom and schools are many.  Often we have school officials screaming for diverse religious expressions all while excluding any expression of the Christian faith.  People have gotten very bent out of shape of references to the Bible or prayer during any number of public venues.   If you mention Jesus you are reminded that “that is not allowed here.”  Of course I was not surprised to see that a California judge has ruled that Yoga taught in the schools is alright, even though it is a religious practice at its core.  (story)   It does make me scratch my head, though.

My point is not a complicated one.  I just want the standard to be applied to all groups.  If a teacher taught prayer, they would get fired,  or at the very least get reprimanded.  When a Bible group forms in the public school there is an outcry from groups opposed.  Every year the See You at The Pole movement meets at schools across the country and students take some heat for it.  They are gathered to pray without any fanfare.   But, when teachers have the students mediate or other new age spiritual practices, well, that is fine.  I know of one teacher locally who does this with the students and seems to have freedom to do it however they like. We are people longing for the freedom to express our faith wherever we are.  I think the lines are getting a bit blurry here.   Either the government is against religion in schools or it is for religion in schools.  There really needs to be consistency across the board.

What do you think?

Banning Valentine’s Day? Really?

heartMy kids came home today with a bunch of Valentine’s Day candy and cards.  They were so excited about them that they ran into the house to show me.  There was nothing large, but a lot of personal notes on cards.  Regardless of the real motives behind the holiday, it is a lot of fun for kids.  I especially appreciate the candy hearts and will be looking forward to the sales that start tomorrow.

A school in Massachusetts banned Valentine’s Day candy and cards this year. (story)  They claim that it is to keep the burden off families from buying cards or candy.  There isn’t a whole lot of burden to this.  My kids made cookies and wrapped them in plastic.  They brought one for everyone in their class.  The intention of making sure everyone gets something is a good one, but is easily remedied by having students bring one for everyone or no one.   The bottom line is that you do not need to buy a lot of things to participate.

I think schools need to lighten up a little bit and remember that there are actual children in the school.  They already can’t play games that they feel exclude people or are ‘too violent’  They have made a wellness policy that limits things kids can bring in for a birthday treat.  Now to limit cards also seems to be taking all the fun out of the school.

That being said, I hope you had a great Valentine’s Day no matter what your relationship status is.  There is one who loves you so much that He gave His life for you.   His name is Jesus Christ and in Him is the best gift you could ever receive.



Charlie Brown is controversial?

The Christmas season is upon us, which means the assault on what Christmas is about has picked up again.  I know that so much is put into the supposed separation of church and state, but people need to read what it says.  The First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It does not say that people can never talk about religion in any public forum.  It does not say that schools cannot use the term “Christmas” because it ‘excludes.”  It does not say that everyone needs to keep their religion to themselves. Yet that is how many interpret it.

A school in Arkansas came under attack by an Atheist group because they were taking students to a performance of the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (story)  The claim is that this violates the “separation of church and state.”  How?  The students’ parents are being given the option, as with anything, to not participate in this. The school stated that they are not promoting any religion and have been very open about what their options are.   The school is not telling students they need to believe in Jesus.  So, what’s the problem?

There is an assault underway to undermine anything with any sort of religious significance.  This is especially true of Christians during the Christmas season, even if the holiday has the name of Christ in it. What makes us so unique as a free country is that we are able to exercise freedom of speech and religion.  It does not mean we should switch it off when we go to school.

But, even more than that, I wonder.  Is Charlie Brown really the source of religious instruction?  It is a Christmas classic that displays the real meaning of Christmas.    I think that people are getting a bit too sensitive about their lack of beliefs, which actually is not a lack of beliefs at all.    They are promoting their religion in public also.

Bottom line:  The school is not breaking the law and the “Arkansas Society of Freethinkers” needs to practice some of that thinking here.   Good grief!

The Lego Jar (11/10/12) – A Week in Sound Bites

The Lego Jar is overflowing this week with all kinds of pieces that are in no way related.  I have a bunch of sound bites this week that we just need to sort out.

Every morning is a fast and furious attempt to get the kids ready for school.  They need to be on the bus at 7:15 a.m.  One morning this week my 5-year-old was having a hard time getting his socks on, so he asked me for help.  I told him that he should be able to put socks on by now.  He told me, “no, they don’t have sock learning at school.”  I suppose this goes with him telling me that they don’t learn anything in Kindergarten.

Do you know why you blink?  My son does.  He said that when you blink standing up you are taking a picture.  When you blink sitting down it is just for fun.  Now you know.

I came home one day to discover my kids had created their version of an electric fence.  They even had warning signs.  It is still out there now.  I think it is keeping us safe!

Last Sunday was Communion at our church.   During that time my 5-year-old son was very concerned with the leftover elements.  “Hey, mom – that’s called wasting!”

I was informed by the same son that he wants a peeler.  He is really good at peeling carrots.  I demand proof before I invest in it.

We voted this week.  To make matters more exciting we took our children along.  My 3-year-old son thought we were going on a boat.  He seemed to think we said boat instead of vote.  When we got to the polling place he asked where the water was.  My 5-year-old thought they were really going to race.  It is called a race, so I guess that makes sense.  He wanted to know if we were going to watch them race.

My 8-year-old lamented to me the other day that he wasn’t old enough for something.  He said, “I am not even old enough to get a soda out of a machine yet.”  Okay then.

When my boys came home from school on Thursday I asked them about their day.  My 5-year-old said, ” You don’t know what I am talking about.  That means you don’t know that birds lay eggs.   And that’s a consequence, so just get over it.”  I guess I missed something.  He did guess correctly, though, I had no idea what he was talking about.

My children have been constantly watching music videos for a few weeks.  They really enjoy it.  They even have their own guitars and dance moves.  In this picture you will see my 3-year-old with his “singing guitar” and my daughter dancing.

They have also been playing school.  I went in the office one day to find that my 3 year old’s school work was to  cut paper.  I guess he is ready for school.

That is my week.  I hope you have had a wonderful time also.  Enjoy the weekend!

The Lego Jar (10/6/12) – Granny Claus is Coming to Town

Sing it with me- “oh, you better watch out!  You better not cry! You better not pout, I’m telling you why- Granny Claus is coming to town!”  Actually now that I write that, it sounds really scary.  But, Christmas is coming and my mom has been visiting, so I went ahead and put it together.   I want to put the tree up, watch the Grinch and drink cider.  I guess I will wait for a little while yet. This week was different because granny has been visiting (yes my kids call her granny) and we have been living with a little different rhythm in our house.  My wife and I even went on a date!  Let’s start there.

Date Night –  I know that when we got married going on dates was all the rage. We now have four children and while we would certainly enjoy going out more often together, it is just not a possibility right now.  The funny thing was that we went to the restaurant and were seated next to a couple with a baby.  Then we went to Toys R Us.  At least we were out without the children.   My 8-year-old son, when we told him we were going out, said, “oh, come on again — you go out every year!”

School –  My 5-year-old son is learning a lot in school, at least that is what he says.  He told me that he doesn’t need to go back to school because he “knows all the rules.”  I think a lot of people can relate to that.  But, as we know, school is about more than rules.  Therefore, he continues to go.  He also told me that his heart is pumping.  Then he stopped and put something brilliant together. “Hey dad, my heart pumping is like starting a car.  You turn the key and the car goes.  Your heart pumps and you go.”  I asked him if he heard that at school.  He said, “nope, I just made that up.”  Oh, brother.

Actually, these sorts of things are the reason I need to strap the milk into the car.  You just can’t be too careful around these clowns and their wild ideas. Anyway…  

He has been doing the Pledge of Allegiance.  This is something that I know many schools have stopped doing, so I was very glad to hear him do this.  I even convinced him to let me to take a video of it.  He is convinced he will now be famous and will get some shirts with his picture on it.  Oh, brother is right.

Creative Genius- If you have read more than one of these you know that my kids like to create things.  This week they made some guitars out of K’nex.  I thought they were pretty cool and clearly only one of them agreed.

Basket Case-  It only took a year, but my daughter is a basket case.   I don’t think I am the one to blame, yet.

I hope you have a great weekend!  

Teenagers Willingly Standing Up For Their Faith Should Be Applauded

When I was in high school I read the Bible during my home room time, often in the library.   I talked about God with people in the hallways. I posted a flyer above my locker inviting people to an after school Bible study we had at someone’s house.  I also invited people to the FCA meeting and our once a week Bible study before school.  When the bell rang each day a group of us would pray for the day.  I took a lot of abuse for this from my peers.  Many people claimed that this was illegal and that we had no right to meet on school property for religious purposes.  They were wrong because we have a Constitution that guarantees free speech and freedom of religion.   The public forum is not exempt from that.

With each passing year it seems that more and more of the Christian faith is under attack.  Schools have long made every effort to eliminate any bit of Jesus Christ that they could because Jesus is apparently too “offensive.”  Yet, there are teachers promoting new age spirituality in classrooms in the local high school.  The same students who might want to pray in school are not allowed to while at the same time being forced to mediate or “open their souls to the sky.”  Does this make sense?

But, that is not even my point.  My entire argument is not based on a couple of teachers who maybe need some more time in reality.  My concern is simply that so many people have bought into the notion of “separation of church and state” that they just don’t even know what the law actually says.  I then have students coming to me saying that they can’t bring their Bible to school, or pray with others at school,  when they actually can.  Just because schools or other students are bullying students away from doing these things, doesn’t mean they can’t do them legally.

There is a battle going on in Texas right now regarding the use of Bible verses being used on banners for football games. (story) Evidently this offended some unidentified person who complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is incidentally not even based in Texas. I have written about them before as it related to a cross on a memorial.   I have a problem with this from the beginning because the person with the complaint wouldn’t even come forward and own their position. If you have a problem then at least be willing to own it.  But, even so, they now have a legal fight on their hands because of the school’s apparent “promotion of religion.”

Let’s consider this for a minute.  According to what I have read here, this was not a school mandate.  In fact, it was completely student initiated and led.  If the cheerleaders did not want to do this, they would have corporately rejected it.   If there is someone who doesn’t believe in God on that football team, would they be offended by the encouraging banners being created for them? I doubt it.  Furthermore, the verses I saw were not related to any hot button issue of politics and certainly didn’t poke at any group of people.  Why pick a fight?

It would seem like some people just can’t tolerate anything to do with God.  To write a Bible verse on something that others might read is seen as a horrible injustice.   Yet, many schools are going out of their way to promote tolerance on a myriad of issues.  It just doesn’t make sense.

To provide some context, though, Jesus did warn us about this.

“No servant is greater than his master.  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.  If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” – John 16:20-21

I am very proud of this group of teenagers for their willingness to shine the light of Jesus Christ in that context.  I think the Freedom From Religion Foundation should stop trying to remove religion and allow freedom of religion to prosper, as intended in the Constitution.   They are promoting their own humanist religion anyway and wanting to do that freely.  Above all, when teenagers willingly stand up for what they believe it, it should be applauded, not taken to court.