Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mean Moms

Someday when my children are old enough tounderstand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean ole Mom told me:
I loved you enough...to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home. I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep. I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes.

I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect. I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart. But most of all, I loved you enough...to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it. Those were the most difficult battles of all. I'm glad I won them, because in the end you won, too.

And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them. Was your Mom mean? I know mine was. We had the meanest mother in the whole world!

While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were convicts in a prison. Shehad to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.

We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.

She always insisted on our telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds and had eyes in the back of her head. Then, life was really tough! Mother wouldn't let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16.

Because of our mother we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have ever been caught shoplifting, vandalizing other'sproperty or ever arrested for any crime. It was all her fault. Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like Mom was. I think that is what's wrong with the world today. It just doesn't have enough mean moms! --Borrowed

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Irony of the Irish Holy Day?

As I have commented before in this column, Sunday mornings are one, if not the only time, the streets are "dead" here in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As we travel to go and worship on Sunday mornings, we NEVER have to worry about the traffic...there is none. Even when we get out of worship services and go to lunch, we are usually one of the first people at the restaurant around 1:00 pm. But that was not the case this morning.

I noticed on my way to worship that there seemed to be more people out than usual and when I left services to go to our favorite restaurant, I hit a major traffic jam. It wasn't long before I passed a float and realized I had come upon the ending of the "St. Patrick's Day" parade in, coincidentally, San Patricio, the shopping area I was headed for. The crowd was enormous and it took me a while to make my way through to the parking garage.

As I sat in the traffic, I thought how ironic; here are all of these people celebrating the life of a deeply religious man who devoted himself to worshipping and serving God (though I disagree with his theology, he did devote himself to what he believed was worship to God) and yet the only time you will see them up and out on the "Lord's Day" is if they can have a party. What would Patrick think? Would he be pleased to know that the legacy he has left behind has become nothing more than green tinsel and shamrocks, green beer and parades with leprechauns?

But, then again, isn't that what so many have done with the life of Christ as well. They have reduced His legacy to nothing more than hiding Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies in Spring and Christmas trees with packages in Winter and this was not a man we celebrate, but the very Son of Jehovah God--Creator of the universe! What must He think????

Humans have a way, through their arrogance, of trivializing greatness. We have a way of making common that which is extraordinary. We have done it with everything from the honor that should be given to the office of the presidency to respect for (or lack of respect for) the American flag, from disrespect for motherhood to calling the miracle of conception of human life nothing more than unwanted "tissue". We have even reduced the awesomeness of a Divine Creator into nothing more than a "Big Bang". Aren't we amazing! or is it that we are just plain foolish?

The irony of the parade today, the fact that we CAN all get up early on Sunday morning, points to our total disrespect for Greatness; our disrespect for our Great, Loving, Patient and always Merciful Father who loves us despite our utter disregard for Him and His commandments to assemble with the saints on the Lord's Day.

Dana Burk

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Tribute to "Real" MOMS

(Another great article for you mothers who often feel you are unappreciated. I have felt that way myself. I do not know the author...isn't that ironic.) --Dana Burk

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"

Obviously not. No one can see if I am on the phone, or cooking, or> sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa $%^ laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going - she's going - she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean.

My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

* No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

* These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

* They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He w as puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self- centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the> morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're going to love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Starbuck's Wisdom

While indulging in a cup of my favorite mocha concoction from Starbuck's, I was reading a quote on the cup from their "The Way I See It" collection. I found it quite profound and thought provoking. Let me share it with you.

"Our greatest prejudice is against death. It spans age, gender and race. We spend immeasurable amounts of energy fighting an event that will eventually triumph. Though it is noble not to give in easily, the most alive people I've ever met are those who embrace their death. They love, laugh and live more fully." --Andy Webster(Hospice chaplain in Plymouth, MI)

Isn't that a very Biblical view. Certainly we don't "rush" to die, but death is not something we should fear if we are right with God. Certainly some food for thought.

Dana Burk

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Homade Brownies

(I commend the following story to your conscience. Someone sent me a copy of this...I have no idea who the author is, but I don't think I could ever had made the point so eloquently. Indeed it is something each of us needs to seriously consider.
--Dana Burk)

Last week, I walked into my office to find a sandwich bag on my desk containing three chewy,
tasty, homemade chocolate brownies. Some thoughtful and anonymous person who knew my love for tasty homemade brownies
had placed them there, along with a hand written short story. I immediately sat down and began eating the first chewy, tasty, homemade brownie as I read the following story: Two teenagers asked their father if they could go the theater to watch a movie that all their friends had seen.
After reading some reviews about the movie on the Internet, he denied their request. "Aw dad, why not?" they complained. "It's rated PG-13, and we're both older than thirteen!" Dad replied: "Because that movie contains nudity and portrays immorality as being normal and acceptable behavior. "But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie!
That's what our friends who've seen it have told us.
The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film!
It's based on a true story and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice.
Even the movie review websites say that!" "My answer is 'no,' and that is my final answer
You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over,
and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection.
But you will not go and watch that film.
End of discussion." The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch.
As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their Father preparing something in the kitchen.
They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other,
"Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he's going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies.
Maybe we can soften him with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all." About that time I began eating the second brownie from the sandwich bag and wondered if there was some connection
to the brownies I was eating and the brownies in the story.
I kept reading.. The teens were not disappointed.
Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies, which he offered to his kids.
They each took one. Then their father said,
"Before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love you both so much. "The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances.
Dad was softening.
"That is why I've made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I've made them from scratch.
Most of the ingredients are even organic.
The best organic flour.
The best free-range eggs.
The best organic sugar.
Premium Vanilla and chocolate." The brownies looked mouthwatering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad's long speech. "But I want to be perfectly honest with you.
There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies.
I got that ingredient from our own back yard.
But you needn't worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies.
The amount of the portion is practically insignificant.
So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think." "Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?" "Why? The portion I added was so small.
Just a teaspoonful. You won't even taste it." "Come on, dad; just tell us what that ingredient is." "Don't worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients. " "Dad!" "Well, OK, if you insist.
That secret ingredient is fresh organic...dog poop." I immediately stopped chewing that second brownie and I spit it out into the wastebasket by my desk.
I continued reading, now fearful of the paragraphs that still remained. Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror. "DAD! Why did you do that?
You've tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour,
and now you tell us that you added dog poop!
We can't eat these brownies!" "Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients.
It won't hurt you. It's been cooked right along with the other ingredients.
You won't even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies.
Go ahead and eat!" "No, Dad...NEVER! " "And that is the same reason I won't allow you to go watch that movie.
You won't tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies?
We pray that God will not lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good conscience entertain ourselves with
something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it? I discarded what remained of the second brownie as well as the entire untouched third brownie.
What had been irresistible a minute go had become detestable!
And only because of the very slim chance that what I was eating was slightly polluted.
(Surely it wasn't . . . but I couldn't convince myself.) What a good lesson about purity!
Why do we tolerate any sin?
On the day of the Passover, the Israelites were commanded to remove every bit of leaven from their homes.
Sin is like leaven - a little bit leavens the whole lump; faith and sin, don't mix.
(1Corinthians 5:6, 7)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Connecting with Grandchildren

We just spent a few days with three of our grandchildren in Florida. I have promised myself that I am going to do better this year at keeping connected with them. We have so much fun with them when we are there, but we never get to stay long enough nor do we get to go often enough--two or three times a year.

I ran across a web site that had some really good ideas on how to maintain long-distance relationships with grandkids as well as a lot of other ideas for grandparents. www.grandparents.com. Check it out. When I viewed it, it had a calendar for the next six months of some unusual ways to celebrate with the kids. And, you know, the more I wondered around the internet, the more cool things I found for kids that I could share with them. Give it a try.

Keeping an open and close relationship with our children and grandchildren who live far from us is easier now than ever with all the technology available to us. It is worth learning how to navigate through this computer age. Remeber that we as grandparents can have a powerful impact on these young lives as we see Paul address in his words to Timothy.
Tim 1:55 "when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt
first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice , and I am persuaded is in you

Dana Burk

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Life Sized Visual Aids

I am in the process of making a life sized Goliath for Bible class Sunday morning when we are going to do a lesson on David and Goliath. The 6 or so children who have begun to attend with us have never been to church or studied the Bible before. They are excited and eager each week to hear the thrilling, action packed stories from God's word. Trying to make these "real" to them, as you teachers know, can be challenging.

I have made life sized poster like Bible characters before on the computor and people have queried me as to how I have done it so I thought I would share with you how simple it is to blow an image up.

I use Print Master or Print Shop when making Bible class visual aids because of the ease of the programs and thousands of graphics available. They also are easy to import graphics from the web or your own files onto your page. Once you have the image or character that you want to "blow up", select the print feature and then select your "out put" size; ex. 200%, 300%, etc. This sets up the tiling feature where the image will now be enlarged proportionately. If you select 200% then the image will print out on four sheets of paper or cardstock--2 across and 2 down thus producing your image twice as large as normal. For Goliath, I composed the image on legal size paper and then printed it 800% thus printing Goliath on 64 (8x8) sheets of legal sized paper. Now the not so easy part comes in putting Goliath together. I now will have to piece these 64 sheets and glue them together to produce an approximately 9 ft. Goliath. (This is an ambitious project I must admit) but typically you can make poster size images by printing 200% or even 300% sized images or visual aids. Remember that your pixels may skew some when enlarging your images, but ussually this is not too much of a problem.

Try making some of your visuals life sized and watch the impact it can have on the children you teach. It can truly bring the stories to life.

If you have any questions I can help you with, please contact me by leaving a comment and your contact info and I will get back to you.

Dana Burk