Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action Bibles!!!

I want to go into more detail and give a bit of an update on the idea about Action Bibles that I mentioned in my last post. The new church I have started going to has really blessed me. One Sunday, the pastor gave a sermon on reaching our community. Paul said, "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some." (1 Cor. 9:22) The pastor stated that we need to know what our neighbors care about, so that we can present them the Gospel through that. For instance, I know churches do barbeques in parks so that they can gather a crowd and witness to others that way.

After the sermon I prayed in the pews for God to show me how to find and reach the very hearts of the people in my city. I kept thinking, why do I feel the need to leave the country to tell people about Jesus' love, when there are needy people right in my community? Could it be that I am more concerned about being judged by an American community than by an international community? This moment in reflection was what I needed to really think about my motives for serving God. I realized that I should be willing to serve Christ in any situation, even the most awkward and least glamorous settings.

It was then that God placed on my heart an idea for a project. My heart is in teaching children, especially in getting children excited about reading. Quite a few of my former students lit up like Christmas trees when I brought them comic books to read. So a little voice in my heart said, why not combine my passions, the childrens' interests, and the Gospel? Some people might remember The Picture Bible, which is an illustrated version of the Bible. I grew up with and loved this Bible, for its vivid details and descriptions of Bible stories.

When I returned home, I researched illustrated Bibles and found a more contemporary illustrated Bible. The Action Bible is a very crisp and colorful illustrated Bible, best read by 9-12 year old children. I thought about how I would use the Action Bibles in a ministry. I immediately thought about the after school program I worked at for nearly two full school years. The program is run in a church across the street from an elementary school. Since it is a faith-based organization, I knew that it would be a wonderful environment for a weekly Bible study. When I spoke with the director, she was completely on board and even donated towards some Action Bibles. I am so excited about how this project is turning out!

I want to read and discuss Bible stories with the 4th and 5th graders in the after school program one afternoon a week. Everything is ready for me to begin this new ministry. All that is remaining is the Action Bibles themselves. Since they are illustrated, it would be better for each of my students to be able to read from an Action Bible. I would like to have 20 Action Bibles before starting this class, as I believe that God will bring at least that many interested students to the class. With shipping, each Action Bible costs around 15 dollars. My grandmother has already helped raise some of the money for the Bibles and so far we have nearly 6 Bibles paid for. Praise God! I hope to begin this Bible class soon, so if anyone would like to pitch in towards some Action Bibles, I would be very appreciative. I believe that once children understand how much Jesus loves them, their world will just open up for them and we will see a big difference in their lives.

[[Update: I have imbedded a PayPal donate button into the right column of my blog, right below my profile. If a check would be more convenient you can email me at, and I will send you details about where a check can be sent. Thanks, and God bless!]]

Monday, September 19, 2011

On Being Brought Back to Life

Last week my soul, body, everything, was going through the motions. I knew I had assignments to finish, and I did them, but everything took more time and effort than usual. Day to day I felt like I was wading through Jello, or a thick pudding, or a gelatinous cube (can I get a what what if you know what I'm talking about, all my nerds out there). I didn't know how to get the passion back in my life that I had had in my previous semesters in college. Looking back at my time in college, I see that my passion declined as the semesters rolled on. I got so caught up in doing everything right, I just lost the reason why I loved it.

Sunday morning I went to church in a dire state. I was not even sure why I was going. I just knew that I wanted to be near to God, and that I could find some answers in the message. That morning, the sermon was on reaching our communities through what is most important to them. Knowing and catering to what our neighbors value is the best way to introduce them to the Gospel that Jesus died for all of us. After the sermon, while sitting in the pews, I cried out to God for passion in my life again, for me to return to my first love. I apologized for succumbing to my strongest temptation: laziness. As I stayed in prayer, an idea began to formulate. My passion is teaching kids, and I know that the children in my area love comic books and stories packed with action. I read The Picture Bible as a child, and have very fond memories of it. What if I took a book like that, and used it to teach the Bible to the kids in my area?

All afternoon I pondered the idea, and prayed for faith and trust in God to provide whatever I needed to make this plan come to fruition. That evening we went to small groups at our church, as usual, expecting a discussion on a Bible story with our peers. Instead, we were called into the main section of the church to listen to a guest speaker. (His name was Tim Lee, and you can find more information about him and his ministries at I didn't know what to expect, but I was ready for God to show me something new, because I had prayed earnestly for that. God answered my prayer to the letter. Tim Lee preached on motivation! Isn't God the most faithful god ever! He showed me that I can ask Him for anything, and if I am sincere, and it is part of His will, He has no problem delivering!

Finally, I went to bed Sunday night at 12:30AM, knowing that I was going to be exhausted the next morning, when I had to wake up at 6:00AM. I was wrong. 6:00AM rolled around, and no matter how many times I rolled over in bed, trying to sleep in, God had already woken up my mind and my heart. Both were running at a million miles per second. I had no choice but to get out of bed earlier than I intended. Thank You, Jesus! Despite my procrastinating, snoozing ways, God lit a fire under me and now I'm ready to burn brightly for Him.

To quote one of Adele's lyrics, and use it in a more positive light than it was written for: There's a fire started in my heart, reaching a fevered pitch and it's bringing me out the dark.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero

I have finally completed what will probably be the biggest accomplishment of my life. I finished reading Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.

My reading journey through this book began a mere FIVE MONTHS ago. My brother and I had just survived the Fall semester finals at our college, and knew that we would have enough free time to begin a new novel. We both decided to have a race through an 800 page book, to see who was the fastest reader. I picked Vanity Fair, and he picked The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne, which is the sequel to A Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I swore that I would finish my book before he could. I am so glad we did not place any stakes on the bet. He finished his book weeks before I did.

Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero describes many characters who could not really be considered heroes, because of their failings, but who still find ways to connect to the readers' hearts. Comparisons and contrasts between characters show the reader just how imperfect each person is. I appreciated the contrasts between the two female leads, Amelia Sedley and Rebecca Sharp.

Rebecca Sharp is a cold creature who never stops thinking of ways to manipulate people for her personal gain. One cannot completely dislike her character, though, because she is very witty and entertaining. On the other hand, Amelia Sedley is loyal to everyone she comes in contact with, whether her loyalty is deserved or not. One cannot fully respect Amelia's character, however, because she does not have the discernment to tell between friend or foe. Amelia Sedley is Rebecca's truest friend, and remains her friend through a good portion of the book. When Rebecca greedily attempts to take Amelia's husband from her, Amelia ends their friendship, only to renew it later in the book, because she cannot think ill of anyone for long.

Most important of all differences between Rebecca and Amelia is the way they treat the loved ones in their lives. Rebecca Sharp was fond of her husband, but abused him by putting her social life first, and by procuring money from others in a less than savory way, without letting her husband help with the burden of supporting the family. Amelia Sedley idolized her husband, and depended solely on him as her source of happiness. She became ill whenever she thought of the possibility of their separation. In these two women's marriages, we see the problems both of being too independent, and of being entirely too dependent on their spouses.

Rebecca and Amelia also treated their sons differently. Rebecca was much too harsh with her son; only deigning to show maternal love when others were present to view it. She saw mothering as a waste of her talents, and preferred to attend countless parties, as she did before her son's birth. This lack of affection from his mother caused little Rawdon great grief, and he turned to the nanny instead for love. In contrast, it can be said that Amelia loved her son too much, even to the point where she would not discipline him. Her son Georgy quickly learned that he was better than everyone else, because that was what his mother told him. He grew very pretentious and snobby. All of this came from a sense of entitlement that his mother raised him to feel.

As in their marriages, I see the contrast of the two parenting styles, and I understand the need for a balance between the two extremes. Both Amelia Sedley and Rebecca Sharp are so very different, and neither can be respected as true heroines of the novel, which leads us to the subtitle: A Novel without a Hero.

The concept of a main character being unworthy of being called a hero was a rather novel idea in the Victorian age. Makepeace Thackeray was commended on exploring this idea in his novel. I would like to disagree with his subtitle, however, because I believe that there is a hero in Vanity Fair. His name is William Dobbin.

William Dobbin is the most loyal of all characters in Vanity Fair, while still being wary of Rebecca Sharp's wiles. He cared for Amelia Sedley deeply, but did not pursue her, because she was engaged to his best friend. This act of self-denial makes him the martyr of this book, waiting over eighteen years for Amelia to return his love. He respects Amelia's love for his best friend, and remains her protector through her whole life. Even while she did not love him, Dobbin supported Amelia and her family during their darkest hours of debt. Rebecca Sharp herself commends Dobbin, and attempts to catch him for herself, knowing that he was the best gentleman around. Rebecca is rejected, however, because Dobbin sees through her guise, and openly calls her a snake. Dobbin fights admirably in several battles and rises in the ranks, but remains humble, and never speaks about himself. Because he is a loyal friend, respectful lover, valiant soldier, and humble man, William Dobbin is the hero of the Novel Without a Hero.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Have I Been in the Same Place Too Long?

This past semester at my college, I got into a comfortable routine. I went to the bookstore cafe at my college at least twice a week. At every visit, I ordered a tall coffee and a venti ice water. I would try to time it just right so I could get a discount from the barista who didn't feel right charging me for tap water. Always returning to the same Starbucks week after week had a comforting familiarity to it. That is, until last week.

On my brother's last day of finals I lined up behind another Starbuck's customer, who was taking rather a long time chatting with her barista. I stood there patiently for ten minutes before my regular barista noticed me and asked, "Tall coffee and a large ice water? And room for cream, right?"

Uh oh.

Have I really been here long enough to have a 'usual'? I have seen people on TV order their 'usuals' all the time, but I never thought I would be one of them. At first I was flattered that someone actually remembered my order, but then I started feeling a little apprehensive.

A butterfly flits from place to place, never staying on the same flower for very long, and I feel like I have been that butterfly for years. Rarely have I stayed in the same place for more than two years. Recently I started noticing all of the roots I have put down here. A quick look at my calendar reveals that, yes, I have been living in the same place for just over two years.

Staying in the same place might be scary to me, but it is where God wants me to be right now, because I can feel, deep down, that I am doing a good work where I am. I cannot let my crazy antsy feelings get in the way of God's work.

That being said, I am still ecstatic to be transferring to a new school this coming fall. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Many College Students Does It Take...

How many college students does it take to change a baby’s diaper? Answer: Three.

After lunch, I stepped outside towards the auditorium where the student government meeting would take place. On the way to the auditorium, I noticed a stroller parked outside. Babies on campus always catch my interest, because there are so few of them. Most college students opt to leave their babies or children in the college day care, but the economy is becoming such that fewer college students are able to afford child care. I think day cares will see less business as mothers choose to place their children in the care of friends or family while in class. But I digress.

As I walked by the stroller, I noticed that three college students were sitting on or around one small park bench. They were all huddled around one central figure: a baby, lying on her back, waiting for her diaper change to be over. One female college student pulled the sticky straps across the diaper. “There,” she declared triumphantly. Immediately her male friend shooed her away and insisted that the baby’s diaper was too tight. The third college student must have already tried and given up, because she sat quietly beside the baby, browsing on her cell phone.

Having kids, while also attending college, is tough. I applaud the students at my college that are determined to get high grades regardless of what their home situation is like. I am especially proud of the friends of young parents, who help to raise the children, even if it is only one diaper at a time.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How Special Was the Doctor Who Christmas Special?

The Christmas Special actually surprised me this year. As much as it pains me to praise a post-David Tennant episode, I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. To me, this Christmas Special feels far more Christmas-y than the episodes in the past. I was a little worried that it would follow Dicken's A Christmas Carol too closely, and lose its Doctor Who originality. I was wrong.

The story shows a frantic Doctor Who trying to reason with Kazran, a selfish and bitter old man who owns the skies. Many will die if Kazran does not allow a ship to land. Doctor Who (Matt Smith) tries to help change Kazran's heart with the help of Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill).

There are lots of crazy events and fast-paced witty lines to remind you that you are, indeed, watching a modern show, while keeping some classic details, like Kazran's Victorian style home and beautifully adapted carols sung by Katherine Jenkins, who plays a vital role in this episode.

This episode left me with such a warm feeling, that I have only a few problems with it. I will try to be sensitive, as I nitpick here, to those who wish to be completely surprised when they view this episode later, but I might reveal a few spoilers, so beware. My sister can think more objectively about Doctor Who, and so I'll include some of her thoughts on this episode.

Regarding Matt Smith's performance, my sister said, and I completely agree, that he hurried through his lines as if he had memorized them. There was hardly enough time for an emotional response from him during most of his lines, because he spat them out as quickly as he could. Maybe we can chalk that one up to a fast-paced script that required it of him, so we cannot judge him too harshly. Also, my sister did not see the need for Amy Pond and Rory, as they only checked in with the Doctor to remind the audience that they were, in fact, stuck in the spaceship where we had seen them last. I also did not really enjoy their performances this time around.

Finally, I have one last bone to pick with this Christmas special. At the end of the episode *definite spoiler alert this time*, Kazran hugs the younger version of himself. Now this is in blatant disregard of the universal rule laid down by the 9th Doctor Who (Christopher Eccleston) in the episode "Father's Day". Doctor Who told Rose that she could, under no circumstances, touch the younger version of herself (a baby), because something horrible would happen.
I have been pleased in the past with the 11th Doctor's consistency, in that the rule that the sonic screwdriver does not work on wood has been preserved throughout the different seasons. However, I want to know why Steven Moffat, writer of the Christmas special, would overlook such a mistake.

All in all, I loved this special, and sit at the edge of my seat for the next season of Doctor Who, during which Doctor Who will visit America! I included a preview for the next season for the few Whovians who have not already watched it 20 times.

I forgot how to embed my video, sorry, so I put the link here instead.