Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Glue



Teaching full time this year has been quite the learning experience for me. It has certainly limited how many posts I’ve been able to manage, filling my writing time instead with lesson plans, curriculum mapping, etc.

And being in a small school, I’ve seen things. Yes. Yes, I have. Anything from kids tying their shoes together and attempting to run down the hall, to having taller kids try and drop glue in shorter kids’ hair. Yes. I said that. There were times when it felt like Kindergarten Cop for sure, but overall, it’s been a blast. 

Over the next few weeks I hope to share with you the musings of an art teacher. In a sense, it’s a break from my seven years of science and faith blogging, but not really because at the very heart of science is observation. 

And that’s what I hope to share with you. My observations. So let’s dive in.

Not too long ago I bought 25 glue bottles for our yarn art and quilled art projects. By chance, we added a new student in our largest class to make the count 26. When I went to the store to get another glue bottle, they only had a larger size. I sighed.

You see I have three kids of my own and I know how this works. Everyone wants the bigger thing…no matter what it is. If there’s a bigger brownie, we’ll arm wrestle for it (though who can blame you for that!), if there’s a bigger car we want it. Bigger is better, right?

So I stood in the crafts aisle, staring down that glue bottle. "You won't win," I said.

I picked it up and tracked down a store clerk, begging her to find out if there were smaller glue bottles anywhere. Nope. None. Nada.

Really? How much money to I want to waste on gas going to another store just for a smaller bottle? I sighed again…

“Unfair!” one child cried as another grabbed the bottle. Others complained, “Why does he get to use the bigger bottle?”

Later as I put the glue away, I wondered why it is that we always want the bigger thing. What is it that drives us to want more? 

I talked to several people about it, just trying to be philosophical, and they all looked at me like I was high on some of that legal Colorado stuff...

But I’m not. Those very things that we wish for, our deep sometimes unknown desires, speak volumes about who we are and what we need.

Our constant need for bigger and better is an indication that we are not happy with the way things are. We strive for more. But in most cases, it speaks to something internal of which we may not be aware. After speaking with many others, digging through psychology books, and asking questions, the answer most prevalent is that we are not seeking the physical as much as we are seeking something internal.

Many posts ago I wrote about the hole in our hearts and why it is there. My supposition has not changed. There is a longing, a deep unfulfilled longing that no matter how much we love something or someone seems insatiable. 

It’s an eternal longing, it’s a need for God’s love. Whether we recognize it as that…well, that’s up to us.

So who gets the bigger glue bottle in art class? Now we pull a name out of a hat and that winner gets to use it for the class. The lucky student is filled with pride as they walk back to their table with that never-gonna-use-it-all bottle, but they are happy for a short time. 

And the added blessing that I’ve seen happen? Most times they use it for a bit then decide to share it with a classmate…proving once again that God’s love can never be hoarded. It needs to be shared.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Be Not Afraid

I can just hear it…God having a conversation with us.

God: Please note that Scripture contains the phrase, “Be Not Afraid” 366 times. 

Us: Uh huh. 

God: Don’t you get it?

Us: Get what?

God: Perhaps I’m serious about you not being afraid. 

Us: Yeah, but what about tomorrow? 

God: Do not be afraid, I got you covered.

Us: But my mortgage is due and my car needs to be fixed and I don’t have the money…

God: Be not afraid.

Us: But people are dying all over the world and there’s no end in sight to it.

God: Your life on earth is temporary. Your life with me is eternal. 

Us: That seems so long away. I’m not even sure about tomorrow…

God: That’s why I said, “Be Not Afraid.”

Us: But…

God: I’m trying to tell you how much I love you and that I’ll take care of you 365 days a year.

Us: But God, you said “Be Not Afraid” appears in the Bible 366 times.

God: My child, don’t forget about leap years.

Us: Oh...cool.

God: I got you covered.

As we celebrate the coming of Jesus in Christmas, I reflect on the angel’s words, “Be not afraid,” to Mary and her response, “May it be done to me according to your word.” After she said yes, the angel left her alone. How scary is that? But I must admit I’ve felt that same “alone” chasm this last year.

A year ago today I lost my mom. Though Heaven gained a gem, it was devastating for me. I realized the training wheels came off and instead of relying on my mom’s unconditional love, I had to learn to rely on God’s unconditional love. Seems simple enough except that with my mom I knew if I said, “I love you,” I was gonna hear that phrase echoed right back to me. I don’t always hear that from God with my ears…He speaks to my heart and I haven’t always learned to trust that yet.

Another big change was for us financially.  I had to set my writing aside and find full time employment. That was difficult. I had so much I was on the verge of completing and releasing but alas, God’s timing not mine! It was also a change for my kids as I wasn’t there when they got home from school. Being a stay at home mom for 17 years, I think everyone (including my husband) got used to it.

Finally, an odd thing happened. Friends that I had known for so long seemed to fly away. Some moved, a couple died, and others just fell away. The proverbial rug pulled out from under me in so many ways. But in the end, a new solid ground emerged beneath me, one much stronger and stable than I had before.  

And now that I look back on this last scary year, I see that I was covered by my Heavenly Father’s love—every day, whether I realized it or not.  Some days it felt as though I was on a tightrope looking down over a deep dark chasm, I was only seeing that tightrope from my point of view…the chasm of feeling alone. 

I miss my mom terribly. But the lesson I have learned is that I am never alone. And though I am still learning to hear God’s “I love you,” there is more joy to discover. And I’m going after it. It’s what my mom would do and it’s what God is asking me to do. For that, I am grateful.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Returning to Life

I've been away for a while...

After rooting out some visitors who abused the privilege of this blog, I plan to return.

Until next week!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Not Giving In...Giving Over



Science is designed to ask the questions of what and how. But when it comes to the why, it screeches to a halt. It is efficient when you ask questions like: Why do cancer cells grow? What are they?

However, science is quiet when you ask: Why is there cancer? Why is there disease at all?
Science makes conjectures about environment, DNA deficiencies, and the effect of stress on the human body as reasons for cancer. But if you asked a scientist why cancer came into the world, they’re gonna be the first to tell you that first, they don’t know and second they deal with facts and scientific discovery only. 

Those are small comforts to the families dealing with loved ones plagued by the disease.The question why is the one we are desperate to answer.

However, as usual, nature shows us the bigger picture and answers what science can’t. 


This is my pear tree this year. I have nurtured it from a stick about three and half feet tall, to this lush sapling. It will never be huge because it is a semi-dwarf—because the harvester is a semi-dwarf. 

For the last couple years it has produced pears of two varieties, red and Asian pears. The branches produced the blossoms in the spring and fruit in the summer. This year the fruit is bigger and tree branches droop, they yield to the weight of fruit. Stress on the branches is evident, but the tree is not giving up, it’s giving over…for the eventual higher gain.

2014 has been fraught with friends’ anguish over their dying parents. The comment is always, “well, we’re getting to that age…” Ugh. Once each month of this year, I’ve gone to the funeral for a dear friend’s parent and each time I share in their loss and their pain. 

My mom was a very private person. She didn’t like to talk about herself but her cancer journey spanned over twenty years. When she was 54 years old, she was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy, radiation, chemo and finally a bone marrow transplant. For four months she carried a mini trash can with her just in case she “lost her lunch” as she put it. She still had kids at home and she fought hard to live so she could usher them into adulthood. 

In the process of all the treatment, she lost part of her eyesight, part of her hearing, her stomach lining changed so that foods she enjoyed before she couldn’t eat anymore, and there was a black spot on her brain scans where her short term memory had once been. During the next twenty years after she was “cured,” she endured many different diseases because her immune system had been so severely compromised. But she never complained. She smiled, loved and kept going. She never gave up and sometimes I would tell her she must be caring around an imaginary sword to fight off the defeating feelings she most definitely was fighting.

A little more than a year ago, my mom was diagnosed with myelo-dysplasia syndrome. It’s a disease that strikes the marrow of your bones so that they can’t make blood cells the way they used to. Eventually you are left with no new platelets, red or white blood cells and your body collapses. This picture of her hand is one of the only ones she would let me take of her during her myelo dysplasia treatment (blood transfusions only). She was determined to make it to Christmas.

Doctors told her she could possibly go through another bone marrow transplant, but things were different this time. Her children were grown, she had 17 grandkids and she was now 73 years old. She had accomplished many more things. So when the docs and her family looked to her decision on a transplant, she just shook her head. The devastating emptiness swept through the cavern of my stomach and radiated out to my crushed heart. Some of us didn’t understand her decision. But her answer was, “If God is calling me home, who am I to say no?” No one could fight with that response.

Later my dad explained it differently. “She’s not giving up, she’s giving over.”

Again I am humbled by my mom’s understanding of life. She was asking herself why she would go to extremes to stay in this life when there was something better and so profound on the other side. Everlasting life makes this short time on earth seem trivial. 

My mom was a fighter. She carried her imaginary sword with her at all times. In the end, she didn’t put down her sword or kneel to defeat. She never submitted to the enemy. Never. 

She simply gave herself over to God and bravely walked through a door to another life. She showed her family how to do it. She modeled parenting to the very end.

To all my friends who must watch their parents suffer and diminish, I salute you. It’s a devastating time that hurts because we are losing the person who has loved us unconditionally our whole lives. 

And yet, even in that light we can see that they are showing us yet another gift. In their suffering and our loss, they show us that the One who has always loved us unconditionally is really Christ. That is the true fruit of the Truth.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Illusion of God




The eternal struggle has always been belief in God.

Is there a God, or isn’t there? Are we all here by happenstance? Believers call non-believers doomed and short-sighted, and non-believers call believers simpletons unable to see that science rules.

During the existence of this blog, I have tried to show that science complements faith and vice versa. I’ve tried to illuminate the beauty that each represent and influence the other. The truth is that science and faith should exist together in harmony. 

And then I found COLOR

Recently I watched a National Geographic show called Brain Games with my kids. It was the very first episode and it described color as an illusion. Here’s what the narrator, Jason Silva, had to say,

Uh…

In fact, further on Mr. Silva says that when you see a particular color, that object is EVERY OTHER color besides that one. 

What? Every other color? So what is color?

The website, Archimedes Laboratory says the following:

“Color is energy…in fact it is an electromagnetic phenomenon, which depends on the way that light is reflected on the objects. Every object absorbs a part of the light which hits it and deflects the rest towards our eyes: this reflected light is interpreted by our brain as a particular color."

Makes you want to say, “If color isn’t real, then what is?”  

 But that sentence sounds much like, “If God isn’t real, then what is?

Back to the Brain Games show and host Jason Silva who goes on to say that, “We will never know the world directly. All we can know is the representation of rendering, a cosmic dance between our brain and those signals coming in…and our brain is throwing in expectations, intentions, preconceptions and stereotypes…”

That is a loaded couple of sentences. But the take away for me is the following:


If your eyes betray you, why would you rely on your eyes to tell you if there is a God? 

I believe God is using science to tell us that we shouldn’t just believe what we see. We need to use the whole package…our mind, body and soul to understand what is beyond. It doesn’t have to be visceral to be real. 

When you make decisions do you listen to your eyes only? No. You base your decisions on your experience, your senses and something else. Your conscience. 

So it is with God. He wants you to use your whole being to see Him. Only then will He be able to reveal to you His infinite love and desire for you. He shines all the colors of His Light on us, but we need to use more than our eyes to be a part of it. 

So if you know me then you know I cannot leave well enough alone. So let me share with you the beauty of science and faith.

One of God’s attributes is that He is light. In other words, He is every color there is—or white light. It is why the brightness of his being is blinding as Saul turned Paul found out. It is why God told Abraham he could not look upon him without dying. He is all, and everything. 

If pure light holds all colors and we can absorb light, then we can absorb God. And the light that is deflected? Perhaps that is a metaphor for what we can give back to the world. It’s God’s way of saying that we are each important in our own way and that if we allow God to shine upon us as David asks in Psalm 4:7, then not only will we absorb all the goodness He has to give us, but we will be able to reflect that unique part of us that God created in us individually, we can bring light to the world. 

Jesus pretty much said all this already! John 8:12 says, “Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The light of life…hmmm. If we remember God’s trait as all color then perhaps Jesus is using the science of color to talk about the Father as well. But Jesus takes science even further. In Matt 5:14 he says, “You are the light of the world…” I encourage you to read on as Jesus makes the point that we will shine for others and that our light should not be hidden.

The moral of the story? We reflect God’s light. Each of us absorbs light in the unique DNA way God created us and we reflect His love with that same uniqueness.

That is…if we choose to believe with more than our eyes.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Looks Dead...



Has your winter been harsh? 

I think there are many of us in the U.S. that can agree that this last winter was pretty stinky. Whether you live in the east, south, north or west, we all saw weather conditions that just didn’t seem right.

Recently a writer friend challenged me to describe my winter here in Colorado. Words such as bitter, desolate, never-ending, bleak, dark, and stark came to mind. 

Those words seemed flat, so I tried to include more descriptive words to add some flavor. Freezing, ferocious, soaked, unyielding, gloomy, dismal and forsaken seemed about right.

“Wait,” she said, “those sound more like words of mourning than words of winter.”

“Is there a difference?” 

“You tell me,” she answered.

Little did I know how she was leading me to see how my winter season was really the winter I was feeling in my heart after losing my mom.

Life changes.

April 1st is the time to begin pruning back the dead stems of the rose bushes in Colorado. So I headed out to clean out my front garden and clip off all the brown withered stalks of my roses as well as clean out the dead foliage of my lilies and peonies. 

Snipping away I found new rose shoots appearing many places. Some were at the bottom of the bush, some along what looked like dead branches. It was a reminder to me that not everything that looks dead remains that way. 

Much like me. What a tough winter it has been. My mom died on December 21st, the first day of the season of winter and my heart entered a desolate time of its own. Since then the struggle to just move ahead has been challenging at times. But with the onset of spring, I remember that there is new life. New life for my mom and the promise of new life for me.

Over the past couple months I have been asked to talk with people about science and faith and how they intertwine. Getting to share my passion has been a good distraction for me. Then last week when I was thanking our pastor for recommending me yet again for the same topic, he said, “Well, it is your ministry.”

I was totally taken back by that statement. My ministry…

I never really thought about it like that. An interest, yes. A passion, of course. But a ministry? Huh. 

Then I started pruning those thorny bushes out front and saw those new shoots. It was a reminder that though winter this year was the roughest I’ve ever seen, new promise is revealed. Yes, I need to trim away the dead parts of me…the hurt, the pain, and the consumption of chocolate (because all the chocolate in the world won’t bring my mom back), there are still parts of me that come back anew. 

I shared so many things with my mom. And I thought the science and faith passion we shared was one of those dead branches that needed to be pruned back, lost forever. But no. What looks dead does not always remain that way. 

What an appropriate lesson for me to learn this week as we enter the holiest time of the year, the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What looks dead WILL NOT remain dead. 

Amen. 


I am grateful to the Lord for such a visual reminder in nature…in science.