Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jesus and Justin Bieber

My daughters and I were out yesterday when my seven-year-old became aware of the song playing in the background.

"This is Justin Bieber," she announced.  And then she paused and asked, "Who is he?"

I explained that he is a singer and made a movie, the trailer of which we had seen a month or so ago when we went to "Tangled" during Christmas break.  Since we don't listen to much popular music, I was surprised that she recognized and remembered the song and singer.  But we don't live under a rock, and  I figured that between the Disney channel and sports and clubs, she'd heard of him and his music, to which she agreed when I asked. 

Then she added, "Someone in AWANA [Bible club] has a T-shirt she wears all the time with him on it, and she sings this and says she loves him."  Then she looked at me like that was a very strange thing to do, to love a singer.  But I also know that she's a curious kid and also a sensitive one, always wanting to make sure that she is doing the right thing.

So I said, "I'd rather you know about Jesus than Justin Bieber.  And I think you do know Jesus."  And she smiled broadly and nodded, as if she knew a special secret, and then she changed the subject to other things, leaving me to cherish her honesty and simple faith.  

I give all credit to God for giving me those words, and for leading her to Him.  But I worry about a world where more people know who Justin Bieber is than who Jesus is, where people proclaim love for someone on TV or on screen versus someone who can live in our hearts forever.  And that's not Jesus' fault -- it's mine, and yours, and everyone who knows about Him and who is called to proclaim his name. 

Yet it is easy to glamorize the things we see and hear so much, rather than that which is often unseen (or segregated to one hour a week on a Sunday morning).  It's easier to pick up People magazine at the doctor's office than to spend time in prayer or reflection.

 But God tells us in 2 Corinthians not to lose heart (chapter 4, verse 16).  And two verses later He continues to remind us of what is important:

 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

This is a wake-up call for me, to focus on the "unseen," on the faith in our Lord, than just what is in the world around us.   What can we do to make sure that the words of Christ are more well known that the ubiquitous notes of some pop song?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Bystander's Perspective

This post has been making the rounds of Facebook today:

Today I may have actually learned something

It's about a man's perspective of a Starbucks employee who has Down syndrome, and how he realizes her everyday humanity.

I appreciate his honesty, because most people aren't that open.  But while I don't know all of his thoughts, I can relate to the idea that some people are uncomfortable around someone different from them.  I didn't have much experience with people with disabilities before Henry.  My eyes have been opened -- and softened -- to the myriad needs in the world around me, just because my youngest has an extra chromosome.

I hope he sees Amber again, and speaks with her just as he would any other employee.  And, to Amber, I look forward to Fridays, too!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Signing Time with Henry

It's been fascinating to see a world of communication open up for Henry.  We've been using American Sign Language with him (ASL), and he's adept at getting his wants met through sign -- eat, milk, more, water, all done.

We signed with the girls, and our oldest, Isabella, took to it well.  Our middle child was more interested in moving than signing, but she still would sign for some things.  But unlike our girls, Henry at age 2 is still delayed verbally (as is typical with kids with Down syndrome).  So signing, plus loud yells and claps, is his main way of communicating with us.

Henry loves the Signing Time videos and even has his own sign to request them.  Isabella signs with him constantly, which helps, as repetition is important to reinforce the signs.  Bella wanted to learn even more beyond the Signing Time videos, and so she and I signed up for a local sign language class for homeschoolers.  She's doing so well and is signing sentences.  I can sign my name. :)

I know that not everyone agrees that signing is right for kids with DS.  Some people worry that signs will delay speech.  I'm not an expert, just a mom, but I believe in doing what works for you and your family.  Signing is working with Henry, and so we will use it.  We always say the word and try to reinforce the sound, not just the sign.  He is starting to make sounds related to the signs, like saying "duh" when he signs "done." This, to me, is progress! 

It's also fun to use signs with the girls.  They can quietly communicate with me -- potty, more, let's go, etc. -- without being overly distracting.  Of course, this can backfire, such as when Isabella kept signing "I'm bored" when we were listening to someone give a speech lately.  Oh well.  I'd rather know what she's thinking -- and the other kids, too -- than be left out.  So, we welcome signs and would love to hear from others about their "signing" experiences!


Unfortunately, my videos of Henry signing are not uploading today, and so I'll leave you with a few pics of the guy just for fun!

Loving his 2nd birthday cake!

Very protective of his Elmo

Cruising the gate in the family room

Happy time with daddy

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sick and....Grateful

We've been beset by illness at our house lately.  Stomach flu.  Ear infections.  Sinus infections.  Upper respiratory infections.  Walking pneumonia.  We would get well for a while, and then back to the sick bed.  The receptionist at the pediatrician's office knows us well, and even Kevin and I had to make trips to our doctors and Minute Clinic. 

So why would I say I am grateful for all of this illness?  Truth be told, it's not been fun. 

But the grateful part comes that....we can get the help we need.  We are blessed to have jobs (though mine is all of two hours a week).  We are blessed that my husband's job has good insurance.  We see good doctors and nurses.  We get the medicine we need, the same day it is prescribed. 

In too many places in this world, including in my own city, people don't have jobs.  Or health care.  Or access to doctors and medicines.  So if Isaiah or Vilis or some of the other orphans on this page were sick....would someone lovingly care for them?  Change their sheets each day when they are sick?  Call the doctor and get medicine?  What would it take for them to get the help they need?

So, yes, we've been sick.  And we are getting well...though Henry began to cough this afternoon.  But God, our Eternal Physician, gives us the healing we need -- the Truth that sets us free.


Please be in prayer for the following families:
- The Hogans, as they celebrate Lois' life and grieve her loss. Pray that God be with them as they cry and help them keep her memory alive in their hearts. 
- The Drozdowskis, who are currently in Ukraine to adopt and running into roadblocks.  Pray that God make his will clear and break down all barriers.
- Families trying to raise money to adopt right now.  There are so many to name, but God knows them and their needs.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Her Sweet Face

Sweet, beautiful Lois, about whom I wrote here, died peacefully at her family's home this morning.  She is free from cancer, free from pain, and sharing her smile with eternity.

But her death leaves behind grieving family and friends.  There are no words to comfort right now. 

There are others who have shared the same, awful pain of losing a child.  So I will share those words rather than attempt to write my own.  After the tragic death of his daughter, Maria, singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman wrote:

Heaven is the face of a little girl
With dark brown eyes
That disappear when she smiles.
Heaven is the place
Where she calls my name
Says, “Daddy please come play with me for awhile.”

God, I know, it’s all of this and so much more,
But God, You know, that this is what I’m aching for.
God, you know, I just can’t see beyond the door.
So right now...

Heaven is the sound of her breathing deep,
Lying on my chest, falling fast asleep while I sing.
And Heaven is the weight of her in my arms,
Being there to keep her safe from harm while she dreams

And God, I know, it’s all of this and so much more,
But God, You know, that this is what I’m longing for
God, you know, I just can’t see beyond the door.

But in my mind’s eye I can see a place
Where Your glory fills every empty space.
All the cancer is gone,
Every mouth is fed,
And there’s no one left in the orphans’ bed.
Every lonely heart finds their one true love,
And there’s no more goodbye,
And no more not enough,
And there’s no more enemy.

Heaven is a sweet, maple syrup kiss
And a thousand other little things I miss with her gone.
Heaven is the place where she takes my hand
And leads me to You,
And we both run into Your arms.

Oh God, I know, it’s so much more than I can dream.
It’s far beyond anything I can conceive.
So God, You know, I’m trusting You until I see
Heaven in the face of my little girl,
Heaven in the face of my little girl.

Please pray with me for Lois' family and friends as they remember her and grieve her passing.