Friday, August 21, 2015

Stay Close

Years ago I posted on how mothers inherit traits from their children.

I’m finding yet another meaning to it now.

My daughter is off to college next week. First one leaving the nest.

I’m thrilled for her. Starting a new life, getting to know so many others, learning new things. It’s quite exciting.

And depressing…for me. And it hurts.

They say it’s normal for soon-to-be college students to argue with their parents. They say it is part of process of distancing. We went through it in June for sure. July came and we stopped. Somehow it just didn’t fit who we were.

Instead, we decided to try as many different pizza places we could before she left. We like pizza. And it’s been fun.

But that aching? Still hurts. Sometimes it even feels physical.

And I wonder if that was God’s purpose in all this.

Dads have a special connection with their children. Dads are the ones who most times get to say, “Go for it!” or “Get dirty!” or “Skin your knee!”

Moms are usually holding their breath. They don’t want to inhibit their children, so they are usually quietly saying, “Be careful.” and “Stay close.”

Could that hesitation, that need to hold on, be those same silly lymphocytes that our unborn babies sent to us so long ago? Those lymphocytes that sent the message, “Don’t miscarry me, don’t let me go. I’m supposed to be here.”

We know from the Italian doctor in that long ago post that those lymphocytes contain the baby’s DNA and attach to the mother’s nervous system for the rest of the mother’s life. Are they still saying, “Don’t let me go?”

I don’t know, but I know it hurts. And I believe that will be one of the questions I ask first when I get to see Him.

And who knows, perhaps He’ll be saying to me, “All this time, I was saying the same thing to you…stay close.”

It would be just like Him to put me in my place.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Trinity in Nature

Recently one of our pastors mentioned that as Christians are likened to the moon. Our responsibility is to take the light from the sun and reflect it on to the earth. To me it was a beautiful image of how we share in the spreading of God’s love, including the idea that the world is dark and that the sun and moon work together to share the light.

The next day I was snapping pictures from I25 on our way home from a baseball game. I love that I can see the Rocky Mountains every day and in this particular picture I love the way the sun's rays stream down through the clouds. I've always been in awe of the sun's capabilities.

But of course, my little brain couldn’t stop there. I had to investigate the sun and how light (really energy) was generated and sent here to earth. I knew about nuclear fusion, but wanted to dig deeper into what the sun was made of and how the process worked. 

From our previous discussions (mostly on water, my favorite topic), we already know that the hydrogen element, H, has the atomic number of one because the electrically neutral atom has one proton in its nucleus and one electron circling outside the nucleus. The following link shows a picture of a hydrogen atom at the top left hand side:

Notice the first picture there shows the atomic structure of a single hydrogen atom.
My Hebrew teacher, Dr. Elefant, used to like to remind me that God is one. Many times we talked about how the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, aleph, was rich in the meaning and wisdom relating everything “one.” So here too, I use the symbolic nature of one to liken hydrogen and God.
Within the sun, there’s another type of hydrogen atom in glowing sphere of the sun called deuterium. It is still a hydrogen atom, but it’s called “heavy hydrogen” and is designated as 2H. It is a stable isotope of hydrogen. (Isotope just means that the element has the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons.) A picture of a heavy hydrogen atom is shown in the same picture as before, it's just located right below the hydrogen atom.

As Christians, we typically consider Jesus to be the second person in the mystery of the Trinity. For Scriptural reference, I use John 10:30, when Jesus said that he and the Father were one. Often the Holy Spirit, or the Advocate, is described as the love proceeded from the Father and the Son (see John 15:26). 

For the sake of our discussion, I will use 2H to represent Christ.

Back to the sun. When the hydrogen and heavy hydrogen (H and 2H) come together, they fuse and create energy. It’s called nuclear fusion. 

I found a very simple video that breaks the idea of nuclear fusion down to simple terms and will help you see and will not only help you understand the concepts we are talking about here, but the images will put it all together for you.
So the hydrogen and the deuterium come together and create the energy (light) that is sent to earth.

That light is likened to the Holy Spirit and that spirit is spread to us. The energy we feel inside is the Holy Spirit beckoning us to transfer that light to others.

And such is the translation  nature to our concept of the Trinity. 

I am always in awe of how God uses nature to describe Himself and His process of loving us.
Go back and watch the video again. Pay particular attention to the words and images around 1:30. Gravity. Love. It’s what we’ll be talking about on this blog in the near future!

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.


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.