Unless otherwise specified, all writing here on my blog is my own original work. If you refer to something I've written here, please be sure to give me proper credit.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Prodigal Son Part 2 - The Elder Son

There is a discrepancy between the Parable of the Prodigal Son & Rembrandt’s painting. In the painting, the elder son is present upon the younger son’s return. This seems to be Rembrandt’s holding to the spiritual battle & the choice the elder son has – to choose for or against his father’s love. Rembrandt had chosen to represent the father & younger son in light, while the elder son is shadowed except for his face.

“As I look at the lighted face of the elder son, and then at his darkened hands, I sense not only his captivity, but also the possibility of liberation. This is not a story that separates the two brothers into the good and the evil one. The father only is good. He loves both sons. He runs out to meet both. He wants both to sit at his table and participate in his joy.… [God’s] love does not force itself on the beloved. Although he wants to heal us of all our inner darkness, we are still free to make our own choice to stay in the darkness or to step into the light of God’s love. God is there. God’s light is there. God’s forgiveness is there. God’s boundless love is there. What is so clear is that God is always there, always ready to give and forgive, absolutely independent of our response.” (pg. 78)

Through careful study of the painting & the parable, one realizes that the elder son is holding in a lot of anger, resentment, & jealousy towards his younger brother. He does not trust in his father’s love & therefore does not feel deserving of any gifts. The “…resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don’t receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.” (pg. 85)

Nouwen explains that gratitude, the opposite of resentment, is more than “…a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice.” (pg. 85) Each time we make a choice of gratitude, it becomes easier until one day it’s become habit – a good habit.

Just as Nouwen saw Jesus in the younger son, he also sees him in the elder son.
“Thus Jesus is the elder Son of the Father. He is sent by the Father to reveal God’s unremitting love for all his resentfully children and to offer himself as the way home. Jesus is God’s way of making the impossible possible—of allowing light to conquer darkness. Resentments and complaints, deep as they may seem, can vanish in the face of him in whom the full light of Sonship is visible. As I look again at Rembrandt’s elder son, I realize that the cold light on his face can become deep and warm—transforming him totally—and make him who he truly is: ‘The Beloved Son on whom God’s favor rests.'” (pg. 87-88)

There was so much in Part Two that jumped out at me. It’s really interesting to see how Nouwen relates the parable of the Prodigal Son & Rembrandt’s painting to his own life journey. Next step, Part Three on the Father.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Halfway Through, Already?!?!

As we come to the end of June, I'm just realizing that 2007 is halfway over. Is it just me or has this year flown by quickly? I look at the munchkins each day & wonder where the time has gone. Oftentimes, they seem to sprout overnight!

June has been a month of anniversaries for our family. Within the span of one week, we celebrated three anniversaries: DH & me on the 20th, my sister & her DH on the 21st & our parents on the 25th. Sister & her DH are currently celebrating their 10th anniversary in the Caribbean. Each year, the six of us go out for dinner at the local Japanese restaurant. Because of all our busy schedules, we won't be going until July this year, but it's definitely worth the wait. I'm looking forward to a glass of plum wine, scallops & their excellent sauces! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Speaking of June anniversaries - many of us have heard why most people marry in June & why brides carry a bouquet. Urban legend has it that in the 1500s, people only bathed once a year in May & were still smelling pretty good in June. The brides carried a bouquet to cover up any beginning "scents." Well, according to www.snopes.com, it is just that - an urban legend. They did have ways of bathing more than once a year, just not a full, relaxing soak in the tub like we can enjoy nowadays. It was too time consuming to fill a tub & keep it heated. Just a little tidbit of info for you!


Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Prodigal Son

I love to read & always have at least one book going. Occasionally something in a books jumps out at me & I love to share it with others. So, from time to time, I'll post a few snippets I've picked up.

I am currently reading "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Many years ago he came across Rembrandt's painting of the Prodigal Son & was captivated. He spent years studying it & this book compiles his thoughts on the Prodigal Son, the Elder Son, & the Father. I've just finished the Part One on the Prodigal Son. Two ideas specifically jumped out at me & I'd like to share them with you.

1) The Prodigal Son's asking for his inheritance is much more than just wanting to go his own way. It is a rejection to his father & family. He requests not only his inheritance, but the right to dispose of his part so that his father cannot live off the proceeds.

"Here the younger son gets, and thus is assumed to have demanded, disposition to which, even more explicitly, he has no right until the death of his father. The implication of 'Father, I cannot wait for you to die' underlies both requests....The son's 'leaving' is, therefore, a much more offensive act than it seems at first reading. It is a heartless rejection of the home in which the son was born and nurtured and a break with the most precious tradition carefully upheld by the larger community of which he was a part." (pg. 36)
2) This is not such a new thought to many, but it really struck me: In telling the parable, Jesus is seeing himself as the Prodigal Son. Nouwen quotes Frere Pierre Marie, compares God to the Prodigal Son's father & shows that after Jesus rose from the dead & ascended into Heaven, God greeted him:
"Then in the silence, looking at his Son and all his children, since his Son had become all in all, the Father said th his servants, 'Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet; let us eat and celebrate! Because my childrne who, as you know, were dead have returned to life; they were lost and have been found again! My prodigal Son has brought them all back.' They all began to have a feast dressed in their long robes, washed white in the blood of the Lamb." (pg. 57)
An interesting, thought-provoking read so far. I can't wait to get into Part 2 & 3, about the Elder Son & the Father.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Well, it Wasn't The Princess This Time

One of The Archangel's favorite things about turning four was that he can finally chew gum. One of the things I've been struggling with him on is that he likes to play w/ it - pulling it out of his mouth, stretching it, etc. Today he decided to stretch it all around his neck. Well, in the process, he got a line of it stuck around the back of his neck. Not a pleasant thing to pick off of a child! I picked off as much as I could w/ my fingers. He was screaming all the while. I finally grabbed a bottle of canola oil, poured it on my hands & rubbed it onto his neck. Once his neck was well-oiled, I took a wet wash cloth & got the gum off. Think he learned his lesson? Hmmm! We'll just have to wait & see.

Monday, June 25, 2007

So, What Has Your Two Year Old Been Up To???

Well, we are quickly finding that The Princess is quite an adventurous sort! In the past several weeks, she has done numerous things to keep us on our toes.

1) I went down to the kitchen one afternoon while the munchkins were watching TV (or so I thought). As I walked by the fridge, I noticed two little feet sticking out from one of the cabinets. Upon opening the door I found The Princess sitting there, her mouth full of gum (five sticks to be exact)! She had climbed up onto the stool to reach an unopened pack of gum, proceeded to open it & all five pieces, stuff them in her mouth, sat in the cabinet, closed the door & chewed away.

2) She's officially out of her crib. I had set her in the crib one day w/ the door open as a sort of time-out because she had hit one of her brothers. After I went back downstairs, her crying seemed to get louder. Hmmm! She had managed to climb out of her crib, by way of the bed next to it. Well, I thought that moving her crib farther from the bed, she wouldn't try it. Boy was I wrong! I caught her a few days later climbing on the side rail of the crib, standing & jumping the foot & a half to the bed. Yep, the crib came down shortly afterwards.

3) At my mom's last week: We were all in the family room & kitchen. After a bit, I realized that The Princess was quiet & went to find her. I walked down the basement steps & there she was, sitting on the floor among about four empty bottles of spices & candy sprinkles, 3 bottles of partially filled spices, & a huge pile of spices & candy sprinkles. "Mommy, me eat!" she says. And sure enough, she was eating the candy sprinkles. I think she'd tried a few peppercorns too.

4) At my sister's a few days later: She came up from their basement showing me that her hands were messy. Yes, she had gotten into her extra shampoo sample bottles, poured them onto the floor & proceeded to play in them. This was after she had gotten into my purse & dumped the entire contents all over my sister's dining room floor.

I could go on & on with these escapades. She's definitely more adventursome than the boys had been. My mom suggested putting bells on her. Then when the bells stop, we go find what she's up to. Yes, a great idea that sounds better each day!


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Relay for Life

What a weekend! For the seventh year in a row, our Small Church Community participated in the American Cancer Society's main fundraiser: Relay for Life. It was started by a doctor in Tacoma, Washington in 1985 as a way to raise money for cancer research & awareness programs. Since then it has grown to over 1,000 events across the country. Relay is a unique walk-run event in which teams keep at least one member walking or running the track throughout the overnight event.

Seven years ago, we decided that we wanted to do something to give back to the community. We chose Relay for Life because cancer has affected all of us in one way or another - family, friends, even members of our group. Little did we know when we began, that one of our members would have cancer. He lost his battle a few years ago.

Our team has managed to raise over $25,000 in our seven years. This year has been our largest, currently at just over $4,640 (& we still have donations coming in).

DH & I took the kids yesterday & had a great time. The kids did very well, considering that the event started at Noon & we didn't leave until almost 11pm. The Prophet & Daddy had gone at 8:30am to help set up. We all did a lot of walking & eating. We took plenty of snacks & also bought food there. The kids got to play some of the games that various teams sponsored.

This is a wonderful way to teach the kids about helping others. We've talked about how the money goes to help those who have cancer. The Prophet & I had a great conversation when we were walking the track together. We named those people we are walking for - those who currently have cancer, those in remission, & those we have lost. He & I also talked about other things we, as a family, have done for those less fortunate. At one point he looked at me & said, "Mommy, we've been talking a lot about God." He has such a caring soul at six years old.

Cancer has touched so many lives & there are so many different forms it scares me. I told DH a few weeks ago that I don't fear whether I will get cancer at some point in my life. No, my fear is which type I will get. Pray for those with cancer. Relay's motto: "There's no finish line until we find a cure."


Friday, June 22, 2007

It's About Time!

Welcome to my blog! For those of you who've been waiting - yes, I've finally created one after saying for at least a year that I should do it. As to what I'll have to say, well you'll just have to keep checking back with me to find out! My plan is to share my family escapades, home education stuff, & whatever else happens to come to mind.

We are a family of five: Dad, Mom, two boys, & one girl (The Prophet, The Archangel, & The Princess). For those of you who know us, you know the significance of their nicknames. (For privacy purposes, their real names will not be revealed on this blog.) Dad works full-time for a bank & I have been a stay-at-home mom since The Archangel was born four years ago. That will change though at the beginning of July, I'll be going to work at Target part-time.

We just finished up our first year of homeschooling - Kindergarten for The Prophet & Preschool for The Archangel. Everything seemed to go well for us. We had our ups & downs, but that is to be expected. We are looking forward to the Fall when we start first grade & get more indepth in our studies.

Well, that's it for my brief introduction. Come back to visit! I can't guarantee daily posts, but I'll try for at least a few times a week.