Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Exodus 4:22

Okay, so Exodus, is all about Israel's exit from Egypt--no big insight there. Strangely, of all of the verses in the forty chapters, there is but one that fascinates me. The set up begins in verses 19-21:

God called Moses to return to Egypt from his exile in the desert (Midian). Moses was instructed to perform all of the miracles that God empowered him to do before Pharaoh. God continued laying out the specs for Moses' mission in Egypt. Essentially, God had prepared Moses for arguably the singularly most influential biblical account of the entire Old Testament. This is huge. Yet, what stole the show for me, is what follows in verse 22:
      "Then you will tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son." (NLT)
I published my thoughts on a few accounts that grabbed my attention while reading through Genesis. In a blog titled The Bible in 63 Days?, I remarked on significant evidence that supports the theme "God favors the second born".

The consistency of the message alone would appear to give younger siblings in the birthing order cause for celebration. In contrast, verse 22 illustrates God's favor towards Israel, His firstborn. What becomes the fly in the ointment is the fact that here God directly emphasizes Israel's birth order-- and it ain't second. (Too bad Junior. You've ridden that favor wave for far too long, but Genesis is as far as you go!)

Asserting Israel's birth order begs the question, Are there other "sons" (or nations) of God? If so, who? What's their birth order? Also, the scripture seems to break from a protocol where the youngest is favored over the eldest.

Certainly Exodus 4:22 does not close the book on God's principal of the last being first. There are a myriad of other examples throughout the bible illustrating this truth. However, verse 22 does make me wonder whether it foreshadows God's future adoption of the Gentiles under the new covenant.

I am neither a theologian, nor a bible scholar, and after reading the bible for an hour and a half straight, I haven't exactly committed much time to processing this verse, but I'd be interested to know your insights on the scripture.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Bible in 63 Days?

My husband and I have recently committed to read through the bible this year. This would not be a lofty goal in itself, except that there are only two months and three days left in the year, and we just started plowing through the scriptures this past Sunday. You're probably thinking, Who's bright idea was that? Right?

Well while we both are up for the challenge, we are not naive to think that the road to success will be paved with daisies and lilies. There will most certainly be some obstacles that we'll have to overcome along the way, namely motivation. To address this challenge, we've implemented a plan, which so far has proven successful. There are three key components in our strategy.

First, we got our hands on The Bible in 90 Days, which comes complete with a daily reading schedule. Access to this reading tool will help us track our progress and hopefully keep us on pace for finishing the bible by December 31st. The schedule is based on a 45 minutes a day regiment. So for Teddy and I to be successful we have to double up on these 45 minute sessions. That's right, for all of you mathematicians that equates to approximately an hour and a half each day (weekends included) of bible reading. I guess I should kiss goodbye any hopes for watching Mr. and Mrs. McDreamy exchange nuptials. Chiefly because there is probably a greater chance of seeing a Mrs. and Mrs. Torres and Hahn matrimony at the rate Grey's is going. But, I digress.

Second, we've committed to designate a time so that we can forge through the Good Book together. Reading together helps to motivate us. Accountability is crucial, plus it adds new dimension to our relationship. We like to discuss the insights that we've gained, questions we've raised, and irony we've discovered as we make the trek through ancient Hebrew history. For instance, we noted a prominent theme which emerges throughout the book of Genesis where the younger off spring is chosen over the eldest. This is true in the cases of Cain and Abel (Abel being the youngest and favored child), Ishmael and Isaac (Isaac being the youngest and favored child), Esau and Jacob (Jacob being the youngest and favored child), Leah and Rachel (Rachel being the youngest and favored child), Jacob's twelve sons and Joseph (Joseph being the youngest and favored child), and finally Manasseh and Ephraim (Ephraim being the youngest and favored child). This insight caused us to wonder about the implications of God favoring the youngest throughout Genesis.

Finally, we've decided to make our commitment public. Publicizing my pledge to my blog readers, friends and family adds another tier to the accountability piece.

I hope to log each completed book of the bible as Mile Markers in the new Books that Changed My Life section on my blog. At the rate we're reading, We should be finishing a book of the bible ever couple of days, which means that I would have to update my book list accordingly. We appreciate any who would join in our accountability efforts. If you would like to help to encourage us in this endeavor, send us a little nudge via your comments as a way to keep us on track. Any help that you would be willing to provide is greatly appreciated. We also want to encourage you to read through your bible before the years end. We could chart our progress together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My MacGyver


I know what you're wondering: What brainy act of ingenuity must have preceded such a cunning grin?

For instance, judging from this expression, you might indubitably guess that he -just moments earlier-must have picked a lock using the filament of an incandescent lightbulb?

Or perhaps he built an electromagnet using ordinary household batteries, tape and insulated wire, then he may have successfully used this device to magnetize an unfolded paper clip. After that, by embedding the paperclip in a piece of cork and placing it in a small bowl of water, the paperclip acted as a compass (because it was magnetized, it pointed to the North Magnetic Pole.)?

Or Maybe he used a pocket knife to disarm the self-destruct device of a downed military satellite. He then used parts of the satellite's retrieval system - namely metal tubing and large sheets of flexible plastic - along with duct tape to fashion a makeshift hang glider. He was most certainly wounded while flying it, and later chased by an Afghani in a Humvee. He used a piece of cloth as a sling to knock-out the man with a rock.

Alas, while I am sure that my husband is certainly capable of single-handedly executing ALL of the afore mentioned stunts, the reality is that just moments before this photo was taken, he had just changed the bulb for my car's break lights.

I had to take this picture as he walked into the kitchen from the garage, because based on the expression on his face I would have sworn that there was a cape attached to his shirt, blowing heroically in the breeze as though he had just executed some brilliant conquest of epic proportions.

Incidentally, you can't tell from the photo, but he is standing with his chest poked out, and his hands on his hips. What is it with men and the little it takes to send them reeling into an unimagined sense of accomplishment.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This little light of mine...

"Hey, what is he still doing out? It's not his turn!" was Sadia's response as she witnessed the moon prominently displayed in the sky during daylight hours.

Of course I was tickled by her comment, so I asked her what she meant. I am paraphrasing, but basically she reasoned that since it was day time, the moon had no right being in the sky. After all, it was the sun's turn, yet the moon was stealing the sun's spotlight (no pun intended).

She was adamant and unrelenting in making her case. The teacher in me wanted to seize this teachable moment. I wanted to transition the conversation into a gentle science lesson about the sun's light reflecting off of the moon. I wanted to tell her that the moon was always there in the sky during the "sun's turn", and explain that the reason she could see the moon more prominently was because of the relationship between the sun's radiation and our atmosphere. However, after a second thought, I decided that the conversation would be much more interesting if I let her do all of the talking. I felt led to let her process this mystery out loud. In other words, I stepped out of the teacher role and assumed the role of a student.

I listened as she grappled with the perplexing image of the sun and moon occupying the same space at the same time. This image was in stark contrast to the concepts she had learned about the sun and moon through depictions in story books. Her brain shifted into overdrive as she worked to retrieve one file after another searching for anything that would help to crack the code to this mystery. She had diligently committed so much about the sun and moon to memory thanks to reading books like "Goodnight Sun, Hello Moon". Listening to her process helped me in realizing more than just my daughter's new understanding about the sun and moon's relationship.

The matter that Sadia really confronted was the issue of fairness. In all of the children's literature Sadia encountered, the rules were clear: The sun was to occupy the sky in the day, while the moon would occupy the sky at night. To her, it didn't seem fair for the moon to intrude the sky when it was the sun's turn to shine. After all, the moon is already king of the night; that's twelve whole hours full of lighting up the sky. Now, here "he" was infringing on the sun's glory, and that wasn't "thair" by any stretch of the imagination!*****

She continued in verbalizing her angst. The more she struggled, the more I began to see deeper issues which came to the surface. It became apparent that Sadia was working through her own feelings brought on by the new dynamic emerging from the relationship between she and her newly mobile little sister. In many ways Simone, who these days gets into everything, has been for Sadia what the moon was to the sun in that instant--like an unwelcomed visitor.

Sadia loves her little sister dearly, but is growing weary of constantly having to defend her toys. She is vigilantly on the look out for grabby hands and nosey fingers. In fact, I affectionately refer to Sadia as the "Reposesor" in reference to her time spent snatching her things from Simone's possession. This cycle of overemphasizing the negatives can easily spiral out of control for Sadia, resulting in her developing an unhealthy perception of her sister.

After Sadia finished expressing her frustration, I empathized with her by restating her concerns. "Sadia, you're right. It isn't fair for the moon to break the rules." I pointed out that in spite of the moon, the sun still shown as brightly as it had the day before. I also tried shifting her focus to the beauty and rarity of witnessing both the sun and moon shining so brightly in the sky at the same time. This nuance was simply overlooked in Sadia's quest for fairness. While my sentiments were intended to encourage my daughter, the message like a mirror reflected a concept that all too often escapes me.

Sometimes I become too entangled with the idea of fairness. In my marriage for instance, my husband sometimes cuts in on my perception of right and wrong. When he's sitting at the table waiting to be served, while I'm standing at the stove preparing a meal, I find myself thinking things like, "Can't he see me slaving over a hot stove," or "Why doesn't he offer to set the table." And so I find myself keeping mental score, so that at the end of the day everything balances out.

These thoughts make me uncomfortable, because they remind me a lot of the way my sisters and I would argue as children. The reality is that the need for fairness doesn't just disappear as we get older. If we're not careful for some of us, this cleaving to the unshakable drive to level life's playing field becomes a crusade.

The reality is that relationships are not always 50/50. In fact, they never are. Sadly, my rigid thinking does not always allow me the flexibility to welcome this subtlety, because it means that the give and take between husband and wife is sometimes more like 80/20 or 40/60. It means that --yes-- sometimes the work load will shift unfairly more in my direction than his (and vise versa). It means that sometimes, his ways will intrude on my space (which is not all together good, or bad). And sometimes it means that in an effort to balance the scorecard an inevitable and unrealistic paradigm gets cemented, where the "you didn'ts" will always outweigh the "you dids".

In light of what I learned from listening to my three year old, and in spite of the moon's inclination to intrude on the sun's space from time to time, I have come to this conclusion: There is no sense pursuing fairness; it is a quest which proves to be futile. Life is never and will never be "fair". Thus, in relationships energy is best spent focusing on the compliment of a changing dynamic and the possibilities of a new perspective. Instead of taking account of the wrongs, try instead shifting attention to the new interplay which emerges when two forces can coexist in the same space at the same time.

As it is with the sun's light, so it is also with us as we learn to live with one another: Nothing should detract from our brilliance even when sharing the spotlight.

*****Sadia gets her th sounds and f sounds mixed up sometimes, so words like freeway and fair, come out sounding like "threeway" and "thair".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Toll-Taker

I haven't really been on the computer much, but not for lack of blog material. I guess, much like everyone else, I've been a bit preoccupied.

What strikes me most about the last few weeks is my ride home headed eastbound on one of the worst stretches of freeway in north Orange County-- the 91. Just three exits beyond mines is San Bernardino County, the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in America.

Reticently, I coasted down the highway at 65 miles an hour. It was as though someone ripped the film from off of a Left Behind movie reel, and spliced it into the Santa Ana wind-blistered windshield of my Taurus. And -- as if someone stuffed cotton balls in my ears -- the ambient sounds of a busy highway reminded me of the whooshing sound of waves crashing on the seashore echoing through a conch shell.

It was eerily peaceful. My commute along 13 miles of a four lane highway, which used to take 45 minutes, now only accounts for a mere 20 minutes of my day at the height of rush hour.

I felt like I was on a deserted island, but I realized that I was not a lone surveyor of the toll the new vacancies are taking on the highway. Fast Trak-- which once boasted a mean $9.50 toll at peak hours just a month ago-- now displays a $5.50 fare and declining. Commuters, who once jockeyed for position on the busy expressway now race down the turnpike. Vehicles, fade like vanishing tolls.

It all make me wonder how soon it will be before the express lane fare disappears completely. How soon before I am counted among the victims of the toll-taker.

Friday, October 03, 2008

If I had a Twitter...

then this is what I'd post:

Irony is a
Petition for straight talk while
Droppin' 'gs in debate

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Simone the Pear-a-Shooter*

video

*Dubbed the Pear-a-Shooter because of the characteristically rapid fire manner in which she devours the delicious fruit!

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