Thursday, August 19, 2010

Phil Vischer teaches us What's In the Bible

When I mention Phil Vischer, what do you immediately envision?  A tomato, perhaps? A group of vegetables that can sing, hop, and tell Bible stories?  Well, yes, you're right...that's probably what most of us think about when we hear Phil's name! VeggieTales creator, aka Bob the Tomato.

But Phil has been hard at work for the last several years, since the 2003 Bankruptcy that forced him to sell Big Idea Productions.  Just what has he been up to, you ask? Well, doing more of what God has called him to do...create relevant, Biblically based children's entertainment that teaches kids about God.

With the 2008 launch of his online network variety show, JellyTelly , we were introduced to a new cast of characters.  Not a vegetable among them!! No, these players are all puppets!  This troop is held together by their front front puppet, Buck Denver ; TV anchorman and all around good guy who helps answer questions sent in from real children, as well as clarify some lesson objectives, and fix some sticky situations that the lovable, quirky cast of characters seem to get themselves into during the daily shows. 

These puppets personify several different real-person types that kids will both love and be able to relate to.  From the humorous Dr. Schniffenhousen; to the very knowledgable, grandmotherly Sunday School Lady; to Michael, who is...a kid.   This wonderful puppet-cast of characters also star in Phil's newest project, WHAT'S  IN THE BIBLE.

WHAT'S IN THE BIBLE (WITB), is truly some of Vischer's best work, to date!  In this series of 13 DVD's, Phil and his wacky Jellyfish characters explore each book of the Bible.  You will be amazed at how much knowledge you and your child can glean from just watching these DVD's!

Oh, and did I mention that the kids will LOVE watching these shows?!  How many five year olds can say "Pentateuch"?  After the second DVD, yours will, and as a bonus he/she will actually know what it is!

What about a completely fun, catchy song that will help them memorize all the Kings of Judah?  Have you heard of the Fabulous Bentley Brothers?  Oh you will...  

If you grew up in the 70's, School House Rock, and their lyrically smart songs were just a part of your Saturday morning cartoon routine.  If you're anything like me, even in college I was still signing (in my head) the Preamble of the US Constitution to the tune I learned many years prior through School House Rock.  It was painless, fun, and stuck.  This same modality of teaching/ learning is just as effective when applied to God's Word. 

As a home schooling parent, part of my curriculum program is a Bible component.  I have yet to find a curriculum which is both entertaining and truly educational!  My choices have been Bible cartoons with great story but no educational or historical value; or they are so...what's the word I'm looking for... BORING!  Yes, very,very boring, dry, beat-it-into-your-head Bible history, boring.  Sort of painful for most kids to get through.  Sort of painful for most adults to get through, too!

This year we will begin using Phil Vischer's WITB, as our elementary curriculum.  I will add some art projects, and Bible memory verses, but I guarantee it will be a course where my second grader learns about God's Word, His story and His history!  Not painful in the least, very educational, and I'll even look forward to popping in the DVD and sitting alongside my son, as we have class!  Not bad!!

This isn't to say that WITB can't be thoroughly enjoyed without using the DVD's as a school course. Entertainment with a message;  that's really how they were designed to be enjoyed.  I'm just tweaking usual. You know me!!

There are three DVD's already released in this 13 DVD series, and the fourth will release in October 2010. To order or watch a trailer go to the links provided:

Here's Phil talking about the series and, well,... What's in the Bible...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Joy of Being Able to Trust

We've been enjoying a wonderful series at church these last few weeks called, "Trusting the Lord--During Difficult Times".  There are so many nuances involved in our human ability to fully trust anyone, not just God.  But trusting God is so vitally important to our emotional, physical AND spiritual health.  Why are we, His most loved creations, so hesitant to trust our loving Father?  Why do we think we need to fix it ourselves?

Our pastor gave us such a beautiful metaphor of trust today. Instead of writing in my usual circles, I'd like to try and paraphrase what he spoke about.

He told us that a little bird flew into his house the other day.  The bird, instinctively, flew up the wall to the one pane of clear glass that looked like a way out.  Sadly, the little creature kept flying head first into that pane of glass.  He was sure that he knew the way out...he just had to work a little harder at it.

Pastor Tom, feeling empathy for the bird, got his broom out of the closet, and gently began to edge the bird over to the open window, which was a few feet away. A window that the bird could not see from his vantage point.  The bird, probably extremely frightened at the sight of a big broom coming at him, flew even harder toward the pane of glass in an attempt to get away.  Again, Tom tried to nudge the bird to the open window.

In time, and after (I would assume) a lot of pain, that bird allowed Tom to move him down the wall, and ultimately to his freedom outside!

Now, it is obvious that this was a beautiful metaphor of trust.  We, like that bird, can only see what we assume to be the right choice, direction, or decision. It's right in front of us, and we're pretty sure if we just try HARDER, we'll be ok. Our field of vision is humanly limited.  Like a loving Father, God will get a "broom" to gently nudge us to the path that is truly in our best interest.  Sometimes that broom is scary! Sometimes we fight against that broom and wallop our little head a little harder against that pane of glass which we are so sure will lead somewhere we desire to be.

The true joy comes when we trust our Father and know He is using that broom not to destroy us, but to guide us to the right path. We let Him guide us...we can't see the open window from our perspective, but trust that it's there.  Then, with one last nudge, we feel the freedom, joy and victory of that open window!!  We've made it!  Looking back we see our loving Father smiling at the fact we are flying, and no longer hitting our precious heads against a pane of glass.

So, the questions are these...Are you currently hitting your head against a pane of glass? Are you trying to figure out where that open window is, on your own?  Look behind you, listen, and trust that your Father knows the way out-- the perfect way for YOU.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Waiting on the Lord--It's About the Process Not the Outcome

I read the most inspirational email today!  It was about God's timing in fulfilling the desires of our hearts.

We have all heard the saying that goes, "Sometimes God says, NO".  But I wonder if we confuse "NO" with "Yes...  but in MY time".

We live in a time where we get online and order any product from anywhere in the country, and see it delivered to our doorstep 24-72 hours later. Have we become people who not only dislike waiting, but no longer know HOW to wait?

I admit it, I hate waiting!! Instant gratification is something I deserve, right? --Ha!

At Disneyland my family has the Fast-Pass system worked out!  We want to get on those rides quickly and get through the park in a very synchronized manner.  How fun, huh?!  It is truly a painful experience to wait in a line for 45 minutes!!

Waiting = Pain.  Hmmm.

Expedited shipping at Amazon? Absolutely! If it's a book I've decided I want to read-- I want to read it, NOW. Certainly waiting an extra week is ridiculous!!

Do we need to look further than the array of fast-food restaurants, microwave dinners or instant breakfast drinks / bars to see that we are just too busy to wait for a real meal to finish cooking in the oven? How did our moms do it--every night?!  Not even having the option of "making" pre-breaded chicken nuggets, even!

When we think about ourselves and our culture, it makes total sense that we may have lost the ability and even the DESIRE to wait on the Lord.  But His word is full of examples about waiting on the Lord. The blessings that come from doing just that!

"Now may the God who gives comfort and strength in waiting make you of the same mind with one another in harmony with Christ Jesus…" Romans 15:5

"And so, as the result of patient waiting, our forefather obtained what God had promised." Hebrews 6:15

"And not only so, but let us have joy in our troubles: in the knowledge that trouble gives us the power of waiting. And waiting gives experience; and experience, hope: and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:4-5

Sometimes I can look back at a blessing that came from God, and realize there were several mini-blessings found in the PROCESS of waiting on Him.  Things that I never realized, even while they were happening, that were part of the process of waiting on the Lord-- because I was so intent on looking for the OUTCOME.

Are you like me, and more focused on the outcome rather than the process?  Step away from the situation you've been praying about, for just a moment.  Has the Lord taken you on a journey through this prayer process?  Has your life been touched (even in a small way) by someone or something who (that) may have crossed your path in a fragmented answer to that main prayer?  Look at it... from all angles.  Perhaps then you too will see that waiting on the Lord is more about the process and less about the outcome.

Enjoy the ride.  Our God truly supplies the best E- ticket adventures, ever!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Embracing Autism??

I'm having one of those days.  Anyone who is the mommy (or daddy) of a child with autism will tell you, we have "those" days.  Days when we feel our personal hopes and dreams for our children, who have special needs, are shadowed by an unfair reality.  Days when you just run out of steam.  When you just don't want to hear another Spongebob episode spoken verbatim, even though you know his communication skills are still forthcoming, and that is his BEST way of communicating.  When you want your child to be able to answer "what", "where", "when" questions without the need of a prompt.  Days when you just wish you understood more.  Had more to give.  Didn't have to throw angry looks at others who don't get it!  I've thrown a lot of angry looks in the last few years.  Those mumbles under my breath are hardly ever kind.  But who or what am I angry at?  At Autism!!  At the condition which makes my child just a little different.  

But... then I sit down and cry, not defeated, but worn out.  I let loose the anger, frustration, and selfish desires of my own heart.  I hear my Lord whisper in my ear that He's right here!  That just because the world doesn't understand my son, it makes him no less valuable and able to accomplish great things for His Kingdom!!  Then I look at my sweet boy, who is playing one of his computer games, and I know...  I just know Jesus will make all things perfect in His time.  Not my ways, but His.  All I have to do is just love my boy--- and that part is EASY!!

In her book,  TEN THINGS EVERY CHILD WHO HAS AUTISM WISHES YOU KNEW, Ellen Notbohm writes about the world from the perspective of the autistic.


Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
I am a child first
My autism is one aspect of my total character. I am a person with thoughts, feelings, and many talents - like you. Don't allow stereotypical thinking to limit your expectations of what I may be capable of.

My sensory perceptions are disordered
The ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of everyday life that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. I am not withdrawn or belligerent; I am just trying to defend myself.
Distinguish between won't and can't
It isn't that I don't listen, it's that I can't understand you. When you call to me from across the room, I hear: "*&^#@, Billy. #$%$&*" Come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It's time to go to lunch." Now I know what you want me to do and what happens next.
I am a concrete thinker. I interpret language literally.
Don't tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is, "This will be easy for you to do." Idioms, puns, nuances and sarcasm are lost on me.
Be patient with my limited vocabulary
It's hard for me to tell you what I need when I don't know the words to describe my feelings. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation, or other signs that something is wrong.
Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented
Show, rather than tell me how to do something. Patient repetition helps me learn. A visual schedule relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next--and helps me meet your expectations.
Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do
I'm constantly made to feel that I'm not good enough. Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you'll find them.
Help me with social interactions
It may look like I don't want to play with the other kids on the playground, but I don't know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. Encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or hoops.
Identify what triggers my meltdowns
Meltdowns and blow-ups are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. Figure out why my meltdowns occur and they can be prevented.
Love me unconditionally
Banish thoughts like, "If he would just..." Remember that I did not choose to have autism, and that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you-I'm worth it.
© 2005, 2010 Ellen Notbohm