Thursday, October 25, 2012

Educate Your Kids About Adoption

(Cross-posted at Believers Against Abuse and Neglect of Kids)

Kristen over at Rage Against the Minivan has a story to tell.

She is the mom of two biological children and two adopted children of another race. She describes how kids at her children's school don't understand why their mom has a different skin color, and how she and her children deal with these very candid questions from confused kids on the playground.

Sadly, kids without exposure to this simply have no idea how to respond and tend to think it's "weird," which is why these are such important conversations to have with kids. Kristen recommends that parents talk to their kids about adoption and what it means so that they're not so surprised when they meet someone who is adopted (and avoid offending people when they don't understand why a family is comprised of people who don't look like each other).

I like this because it's something that everyone can do. Even if you don't have kids of your own, you are bound to have conversations with other kids (in Sunday School or in your extended family, perhaps) where the subject comes up. Explain that God has adopted all of us into his family—the church—and that adoption is a wonderful thing, not something to be ashamed of or laughed about. Adopted kids can be deeply hurt by the words of kids who do not yet understand the concept because it's never been explained to them.

Conversely, if you are an adoptive parent in a bi-racial family, how do you cope with people who don't seem to understand that you're really family? How do you teach your kids to respond to these questions? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Touch of the Master's Hand

This is the story of how I ended up playing the violin during the preacher's sermon at a church of Christ. Surprisingly, no one stood up and condemned me to hell or told me I was sinning, even by playing something as sacrilegious as 10 bars of a Mozart concerto. Clearly I am corrupting the youth. But no, it was used as a teaching illustration about this poem:

The Touch of the Master's Hand

‘Twas battered and scarred and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.

“What am I bid, good folk?” he cried.
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar … now two … only two …
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?

“Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
Going for three” … but no!
From the room far back a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow.

Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening up the strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As sweet as an angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
As he held it up with the bow.

“A thousand dollars … and who’ll make it two?
Two…two thousand, and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once and three thousand twice …
Three thousand and gone!” said he.

The people cheered, but some exclaimed
“We do not quite understand …
What changed it’s worth?” and the answer came:
” ‘Twas the touch of the master’s hand.”

And many a man with soul out of tune
And battered and scarred by sin
Is auctioned cheap by the thoughtless crowd
Just like the old violin.

But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the master’s hand.

O Master! I am the tuneless one
Lay, lay Thy hand on me,
Transform me now, put a song in my heart
Of melody, Lord, to Thee!

-Myra Brooks Welch

What a great poem.

Are you feeling unworthy today? Do you feel like you don't fit in in the church, or that God can't use you like he does other people because you're damaged? God can make beautiful music with you if you allow him control over your life. The preacher said, "You might be surprised at the beautiful music that comes out of you." A violin by itself is just a silent block of wood, but played by a master, it makes beautiful sounds. Similarly, we need God to make us more than just self-centered and sinful human beings. With his Holy Spirit and guiding hand, we can become Christ's ambassadors to the world, vessels of God's love to the lonely.

Scripture meditation:

2 Timothy 2:20-21
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Further reading: 1 Corinthians 12

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stuff I'm Loving

I've recently discovered the website Goodreads (there's an iPhone app too). It's the best website ever to keep track of your books and to-read lists, rate books you've read, and read reviews other people have written about books you're thinking about reading. You can see which books your friends are reading and update your progress on books you're reading. I've been on this site—either on the computer or on my phone—almost as often as Facebook. It's a book lover's paradise.

Since I've started school again for music, I commute an hour and a half each way. That's a lot of driving, and not only is it expensive, but it's awfully boring without stuff to listen to, so I became a member of Amazon's new audiobook site Audible, where you pay a monthly fee to download 1 book a month. That might not seem to make sense, but a lot of the longest and best audiobooks cost more than the monthly membership fee, so it's worth it. Right now I'm listening to Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, Eric Metaxas' new 2010 biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian who was involved with a plot to kill Hitler and died by execution after being imprisoned in a concentration camp. You wouldn't think a near-600 page biography would be as interesting as this one is, but it's captivating and highly recommended.

I've also been listening to some cool podcasts, including Skepticality, which is a science-oriented skeptic podcast about every old thing people today believe because they've seen it on television or wherever. I like it, especially as a very jaded former psychology student. No, it's not anti-Christian. I really don't know why a lot of Christians are afraid of science, but thankfully that seems to be old thought. Listening to Skepticality allows me to have some skeptical influences in my life. Other podcasts I like have been How Stuff Works, Lexicon Valley (a podcast about language), and very select few conservative podcasts because I don't like yelling and disrespect. I used to love This American Life when I was younger, but it got too raunchy for me, otherwise I'd still be listening.

I've been a huge Star Trek fan lately, and I'm even doing a class project on Nichelle Nichols' role in the Civil Rights movement. Stay tuned, because that's going to become a blog post. (I like this class. They let me do Star Trek.) I'm trying to make an Uhura costume for Halloween, but confound it, I haven't found the time. I listened to William Shatner's book Star Trek Memories in the car and it was fantastic. So was Leonard Nimoy's I Am Spock. Shatner's book was where I got the information about Nichols and civil rights in the '60s. She was the first African-American woman to play an important role on a popular TV show, and she performed the first interracial kiss ever to appear on national television. Cool, huh? I curl up on the couch with some tea (Earl Grey. Hot.) every Thursday night and watch either the Original Series or Next Generation. Thursdays are a good day to do that because that's when I feel the stress and fatigue of the week and I like something to look forward to.

What have you been into lately?