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Friday, 28 September 2012

Seven Days = A Week

   Every fall when I teach my Kindergarten class about the days of creation I am reminded about the anomaly of a seven day “week”  All our other classifications of time are related to something definite in our solar system:
  • A day = 24 hours, the time it takes the earth to rotate once on its axis
  • A month = 28-30 days, roughly the time it takes for the moon to go through all of its phases
  • A quarter/ a season = the times between equinox and solstice, when the earth’s tilt gives us different weather patterns as it circles the sun
  • A year =365 days, the time it takes for a full revolution of the earth around the sun.
   But a week is not like that!  It seems completely arbitrary.  Why not have a ten-day week to match the metric system?  In fact, the architects of the French Revolution tried to do just this because they recognized a seven-day week as an acknowledgement of God and his work in creation.
   The pattern of six days of work plus one day of rest was established by God Himself in the beginning.  Every calendar gives testimony of God’s creation for those with eyes to see it.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Redefining "The World's Richest People"

This week Forbes put out its annual list of the World’s Richest People.  The effect of this list is to make most people feel envious and poor in comparison.  This measuring tool is not very helpful.
   Let’s consider a different measuring tool.  Take the entire world’s population of 6+ billion people and condense it into a village of 100 people.  Six of the people in this village would own 59% of all the wealth, and that includes most residents of the United States and Canada.  Only one of these people has a college education; everyone with a degree is a privileged member of the world community.  In this global village 50 people suffer malnutrition, 70 cannot read or write and 80 live in substandard housing. 
   If this is true, how is it that we have convinced ourselves that we are just struggling to get by?  I think it’s because we have expanded the definition of basic needs.  For many, this includes considering such things as cell phones, paid vacations, one car per licensed driver and endless types of insurance to be necessities.
   A glimpse at the big picture shows we are rich in material goods and in opportunities. This perspective may help us when we are inclined to feel deprived or want to whine about those who have more than we do.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Mixed Motives

   I’m having some trouble with mixed motives.  I ask myself, “Why did you decide to create a blog?”  The answers include having a space to share my stories about God’s amazing provision in my everyday life, to improve my writing, and to encourage others.  However, it becomes very easy to allow the tendency of self-promotion to obscure my vision.  Checking how many page views I have had over the past week and wondering if anyone has commented on one of my posts can get out of hand.
   I’m reminded of Joni Eareckson Tada whose beautiful artwork is sketched or painted by mouth because she was paralyzed from the neck down.  Each time she signed her name on the canvas, she wrote Joni PTL.  PTL (“Praise the Lord”) was her way of acknowledging that what she accomplished was not her own doing but a gift from God.
   Centuries earlier, the gifted musician JS Bach ended his compositions with the letters SDG, Soli Deo Gloria (Latin for “To God alone be the glory”).  He wanted those who appreciated his music to understand his ultimate goal was not self-honour.
   I’m well aware that I am not in the same league as the Christians I have mentioned, but I too need to consciously write my posts with the goal of God being glorified rather than myself.  If any of my posts comes across as self-glorifying, please call me on it.  I know I haven’t “arrived”. 

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Simple Dutch Meal Remixed

This week I cooked a meal for a busy family with a multiple birth.  I had been told about the dietary restriction of no milk and no cheese, so I opted for simple.
   A Dutch meal I grew up with (and which is pretty much always in season) is “Hutspot.”  All you do is peel and cut up potatoes, carrots and onions according to the proportions you like best.  Boil until tender, then mash with milk, margarine and salt & pepper to taste.  It is often served with sausage and gravy.
   To remix this meal for the lactose intolerant, I sliced the potatoes as I would for scalloped potatoes and boiled them with the carrots.  Meanwhile I fried Oktoberfest sausage, cut in pieces, along with the onion.  Instead of mashing the vegetables, I stirred everything together with a little margarine.  My family ate it this way too, and it was a hit.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Why I still like Snail Mail

When I was growing up the arrival of mail was marked by a small red flag being raised on my rural mailbox.  Getting the mail was an event because our neighbours lived far away and our stack often included letters from overseas where my mom’s relatives lived.
   Since the spring I have a new reason to enjoy the daily delivery of snail mail.  I became an instructor for the Crossroads Bible Institute, so I receive lessons completed by inmates across Canada for me to mark.  Part of my responsibilities is to write a letter of encouragement to the student.  When I write these letters I answer any questions the student has posed and share my faith journey as appropriate.  Some of the questions I’ve had lately are “Was God ruthless?  If yes, why was he ruthless?” and “If it says in the Bible, ‘Ask and you will receive,’ why have I not received what I have asked for.”  As I write these letters, I realize that my efforts can make mail delivery into an event for a man or woman with few contacts with the outside world.
   Inmates are not the only ones who’d love to receive snail mail.  Picking up a pen and taking the time to write could mean a great deal to a senior, shut-in, or a small child.

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Gift of Sleep

Freerange Stock photo
“[God] grants sleep to those he loves”    ~Psalm 127: 2b

“90% of behaviour problems in children are due to lack of sleep”   ~my husband

   As a parent and teacher I am keenly aware of the importance of sleep for people of all ages.  Starting when our children were babies, our nighttime prayers as a couple have included a request for restful sleep for us all.  Without a good night’s rest it becomes much harder to function and face the challenges of the day.
   Those who know me are aware that my husband is not an expert in sleep research.  However, there are studies to back up his assertion about the effects of sleep deprivation on children.  They definitely extend beyond discipline issues.
   According to the authors of Nurture Shock (2010)[1], children are especially affected by lack of sleep.  They state:
  • Many children stay up much later than they should because of  too many evening activities, homework, lax bed times, technology in bedrooms and parental guilt over not spending time with their children.
  • In a study by the University of Virginia Grade 6 students who had one less hour of sleep than their peers scored the same as 4th graders on standardized tests.
  • Sleep helps children learn and put that learning into their long-term memories.
  • Sleep deprived individuals (including adults) have greater difficulty recalling pleasant memories but recall negative experiences with clarity.
  • Lack of sleep is the main cause of childhood obesity.  Sleep loss triggers a hormone that signals hunger; therefore, tired children eat more.  As well, sleep deprivation elevates a stress hormone, which stimulates the body to turn energy into fat.
   As we adapt to school routines again, part of our homework as parents is to make sure we help our children get enough sleep.  According to the Sleep Foundation, these are the guidelines for children's sleep requirements:
1-3 years old: 12-14 hours per day
3-5 years old: 11-13 hours per day/night
5-12 years old: 10-11 hours per night

[1] This book was written by Po Bronsen and Ashley Merryman.  It deals with several myths affecting parents and their children.