signs of spring

It’s almost the end of April and here in Oregon’s high desert we are finally seeing some signs of spring.  When the weather starts to lure us outside, we find it harder and harder to stay focused on our studies and finish the school year.  But we’re trying to make sure that spring fever doesn’t get the best of us.  As I look around, here are the surefire signs of spring around us:

The tulips in the front yard are trying to show their true colors.

The neighbor's pear tree is blooming.

If I think I'm going to wear sandals in this warm weather, I'm going to have paint those toenails. It's time to bring out the polish!

The most reliable sign of spring: allergy medicine. Enough said.

Despite the allergy pills, it’s still clear that God is an amazing Creator.  Springtime shows his creativity abundantly.  As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”


Hunger Games talking points

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, I’m sure you have heard about the new movie The Hunger Games.  My eldest daughter has some friends who have read the book and seen the movie, so she already knows the complete storyline.  But before she reads the book, I wanted to read it myself so that I could be prepared to discuss what she reads, or even be ready to boycott the whole thing if necessary.  I read it yesterday and it wasn’t hard to realize that there are some major topics that we will be discussing as our daughter takes her turn at the book.

Before I get to The Hunger Games, I wanted to make a point of saying that we don’t let our kids watch or read everything that comes around.  Remember that we don’t have any children over the age of 11.  We have purposefully avoided Harry Potter so far.  Our kids have not see Star Wars Episodes 2 or 3.  The most violent game we have on our Wii gaming system is tennis.  And I can’t think of a single prime time drama or comedy that we let our children watch.  Do I feel like we’re sheltering them?  Yes.  Do I feel bad about it?  No.  To quote the apostle Paul, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.”

So here are some of the things that we will be talking about as our daughter reads The Hunger Games:

1. God.  In the book’s futuristic world, there is no mention of God, religion, or any kind of spirituality.  There seems to be some sense of morality and justice, but it doesn’t have a source or guide.  The author, Suzanne Collins, created a world that is very different from ours when it comes to government, fashion, and even biotechnology.  But I found the most glaring difference between our world and the book’s world is faith, or the absence of faith.

2. Violence.  Violence always has a purpose, whether good or bad.  Sometimes it is necessary if the purpose is protection or defense.  The powerful people in the book use violence for intimidation, oppression, and entertainment.  I think the book also gives a good opportunity to talk about becoming desensitized to violence, as some characters are.  It’s ironic that the major event in the book is called the Hunger Games, when really it’s a lot more than a game.  It’s a battle to the death.  In this game, when you lose, you lose everything.

3. Authority.  We try to teach our children to respect authority.  But some of the authority figures in the book are, for lack of a better word, horrendous.  How should we act toward authority when they want us to do something wrong or evil?  Here in the real world, we should seek out authority that guides and encourages us along Godly principles.  And we should be prepared to follow those Godly principles even when someone in authority doesn’t like it.  We serve God, the ultimate authority, above all others.

4. Hunger.  Hunger is not an issue that exists only in a fictional book.  It’s a real, modern, and human problem that we can work with others to solve.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this book discussion results in some kind of sponsorship or donation that will help fight hunger in the here and now.

I’m sure there are many other questions that will come out of reading The Hunger Games, but these are the topics that we’re going to start with as we discuss the book with our child.   Sometimes it feels as if parenting is all about helping your children navigate the minefield of modern culture.  And here we are on another parenting adventure!  Let the games begin!

Easter weekend

We had an Easter weekend full of fun and celebration.  This year I actually planned ahead for our school schedule so we were able to incorporate Holy Week events into our learning.  We read Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco.  It’s a sweet little story about a Jewish woman and her neighbor boy and the development of their friendship.  The story culminates with the celebration of Passover.

So we had a little Passover/Last Supper of our own.  We only did the elements of juice and  matzo bread.  But it was a good review of the Old Testament and New Testament meanings of the meal: escape from slavery in Egypt and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

We had a wonderful candlelight Good Friday service at church.  I’m always grateful for the sober reminder of the cross.  Then we had a great time celebrating the resurrection in our weekend services.  “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!”

Even the Easter bunny made an appearance at lunch.  (And he tasted good, too.)

Oklahoma trip

I wanted to share some more photos from our recent trip to Oklahoma.  Even though we went for a sad reason, the passing of Granddad Martin, we wanted to treasure the time with family.  We finally met our new niece, Cassia, face to face.  What a cutie!  And we got to see how much the other cousins are growing.  Here are some highlights:

Waiting to check in at the Portland Airport. This was Lauren's first flight.

This was on the very small airplane from Houston to Wichita. As you can see, the plane was in good hands!

Meals were probably the only times these four were actually sitting still. We love our cousins!

four wheelin' fun

Emma with Grandpa Hofen

Two forces to be reckoned with: Grandma Sue and Lauren. What an example of true beauty.

searching for treasure in the red Oklahoma dirt

We loved being with our family, even if it was for a short time.  And we continue to pray that they all find a new normal now that Grandad’s fight with cancer is over.  We know that the Lord will never leave them nor forsake them.  And even though we couldn’t stay longer, they are in good hands with family and friends there.  Most importantly, they are in the hands of God.