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Feb 2018

SOME MATERIAL MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 3

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SOME MATERIAL MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN UNDER 3

Do you remember as a kid, sitting with your family in front of the TV? You were about to watch a show as a family and then a warning flashes across the screen. “Warning: Some content may not be suitable for younger audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.” I remember, on occasion, that my parents would make eye contact and a silent conversation would quickly take place. After a few seconds, my parents would either let me stay or send me to my room until the TV show was over. I remember my mother telling me that I was not ready to see the things that were going to happen in the TV show. Sometimes I would sneak back out to try and catch a glimpse of what was forbidden for my eyes and ears.

Fast forward to my parental life. I am sitting with my son watching a children’s educational TV show. It seems to be a harmless show based on nursery rhymes and includes number, colors, and letters. It wasn’t until later that I saw just how much my son’s life would change from a few episodes.

At the end of the week, my wife and I get home from work and try to speed clean the house. We do all the basic chores that need to be done (dishes, laundry, pick up toys, vacuum). I had just asked my son to help me pick up his toys. He responds with, “I can’t! Too hard!” I was shocked. In the past, my son had always helped to pick up toys or go and retrieve items for my wife and myself. We had no idea at the time what had given him the idea that this task was too hard for him. It took us a lot of convincing (bribery) to get him to finally pick up his toys. We did not want this to become a norm so my wife and I sought to find the source of this “too hard” concept.

Lo and behold it was the TV show that I watched with my son a few days earlier. One of the main characters, whom my son idolizes, told another character that a task was “too hard” and he couldn’t do it. My son wanted to be so much like his hero that he went to such lengths as to turn simple tasks into impossible ones.

In life I believe that we as humans see people or communities that we admire and try our best to imitate their behaviors since they seem so much better than we are. Is it possible that we do this to a fault? Do we try to become each other so much that we change what we wear, say, and do in order to fit the mold? I have found at times that I focus so much on what my peers are doing that I forget myself along the way. I get caught up in a race that I am sometimes running by myself.

Paul writes in the book of Philippians:

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”

I take this to mean that from time to time we tend to lose our long term goal of heaven and replace it with the newest car or fashion. Paul calls us to grow up and keep our eyes on the prize. It takes a change of mind, which is a lot harder than a bodily change.

There are things in this world that we need to be able to let go and some that we should never pick up. Some organizations are kind enough to warn us about some product dangers while others are more cunning. In the end, we are the last line of defense against ourselves. What is suitable for you? What things are you seeing and doing that help to keep your focus heavenward?

 

Tommy Kennedy teaches band and choir at Keene ISD in Texas. He has two little boys and a beautiful wife, Sadie.

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Dear You

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Dear You

Dear you,

I hope you’ve had a good week. I know you’ve been busy. I know you’ve been stressed. I know that sometimes it seems like life is just too difficult to bear, or that the tunnel seems too dark, or the climb seems too treacherous, or the ocean seems too impassable.

I get it. I’ve been there.

I bet people were mean to you this week, I imagine some betrayed you, some probably made up some falsehoods about you, perhaps you’ve even been excluded by some, or targeted by others. It’s frustrating how people treat each other, isn’t it?

I know you’ve had some nights where you can’t seem to fall asleep, or some mornings that seem to come just a little bit too early, that alarm blares obnoxiously, and you struggle to open your eyes.

It’s okay. You can relax now. You can rest.

I wish you would talk to me more, so I could help you through things. I know what’s going on, I can see and I can observe it, and I can sense your pain, but there is so much I could help you with if you would just allow me to.

So often I find myself standing on the sidelines watching you and wondering what you’re going to do with what you’re facing, or how you’re going to figure things out. I see you as you struggle, as you cry, as you analyze, as you mourn.

There were so many times this week I tried to get your attention. I sent people your way; I gave you moments and encounters in which you could have been a blessing to others, I whispered in your ear, and comforted you when you were feeling low. I helped you when you were sick.

I know most of the times you didn’t notice. That’s okay. I loved helping you anyway.

So, the week is ending, and my favorite day is on the horizon, and there are a couple of things I wanted to remind you of.

So, just for a second, can you stop whatever you’re doing and listen?

Rest.

Breathe.

Listen.

First off, I love you. I think I need to start with that. I know sometimes those words are difficult to hear and believe, based on how many times you may have heard them and not believed they were true. But I can guarantee you, this time. They’re true. I have the scars to prove it.

Secondly, all those things you did this week that you tried to hide from me, or that you forgot that I saw, it doesn’t stop me from loving you, or change how much I adore you. Bring those things to me. Let’s work through them together. I will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Next, I’m sorry for the pain you’ve experienced this week. Believe me, I’ve felt it too. It was never my intent for you to go through these kinds of things. For that, I’m incredibly sorry. But remember I will strengthen you when you are weary, and I will give you power when you are weak.

If you hope in me, I will renew your strength. You will soar on wings like eagles, and you will run and not grow weary, you will walk and not be faint. Also, if you lack wisdom you should ask me. I will give generously to you without finding fault.

There’s so much more I want to tell you, but I can tell you’re already thinking about the things you need to do next, or tomorrow, or for the next week.

It’s okay. I get it. I know you’re just trying to do your best.

I guess, just please don’t forget about me. I really do want to be there for you. I really do love you. And if ever you forget, just take a look out your window and see the tapestries of colors I’ve painted for your enjoyment, take a look at the shimmering stars in the galaxies that I’ve hung to light your way. Just feel the breeze encircle you, and imagine it’s my arms around you.

I can’t wait to see you in person.

Believe me, it's sooner than you think.

Tell everyone, okay?

I love you.

I miss you.

 

- God.

 

Devin Anavitarte is one of the founders of Enspire Productions. He is currently a teacher at Burton Adventist Academy. 

 

P.S- Let’s talk soon, okay?

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When Your Best is the Worst

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When Your Best is the Worst

A few months ago the choir I sing in was performing at a church a little over an hour from where I live. This was our big event of the semester. We had been practicing for a long time, and had several songs to share to the congregation. Expectations were high.

During our sound check, I noticed pretty quickly that something was wrong.

If you’ve ever sung in a choir, or any type of singing group, or even if you haven’t done that but you just have common sense, you probably realize that being able to hear yourself is kind of a big deal. The church itself had horrible acoustics, meaning we couldn’t naturally hear ourselves, and we had no monitors to rely on to do it for us. To top it off, the accompanist was playing from a piano way off to the left and the sound just wasn’t carrying.

We shot up a prayer for God to bless our performance. My director calmly told us to just watch him for our cues, and I guess we were just going to hope for the best at that point.

The church service started, and we sang our first song. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember that it wasn’t so great. But we got through it. We sang a couple more, and I just got more and more upset as we went. I couldn’t hear the piano, not really. Maybe a few downbeats here and there. I couldn’t hear anybody very well except those closest to me. I watched my director for the rhythm, but what I saw didn’t match what I could hear from the piano, like there was a delay for the sound to get to us.

It was a mess! And then, oh, horror upon horrors, we sang our a cappella song. In our practices, we had enough trouble just staying on pitch! Now, here we were, pianoless, acousticless, and doomed.

By the time the song was over, we were flatter than a panini that has been run over repeatedly by a car.

And I was angry. How could I find joy in singing after we had just made fools of ourselves in front of an entire congregation, not to mention people streaming it on the internet? I stalked off the stage, wincing as Jonny told me it could have been worse. I ended up in the lobby waiting to go into the dining area where the potluck lunch was being prepared.

That’s when God decided to remind me that this church performance was, surprisingly, not about me.

An older gentleman came up to me and shook my hand. He said something along the lines of, “Your choir did such a great job. Such beautiful music! I hope you come back soon. I was so blessed this morning by your voices.” I wondered if the guy was tone deaf.

Not two minutes later, a little girl came up to me and said, “You guys are so talented!” Was this a church full of tone deaf persons? “I hope my choir can sound as good as you at our Christmas program next week. I’m so nervous! But I saw how you all performed for God, and I’ll think of that when we sing.”

This stopped me. I had been so angry and embarrassed and caught up in the details that I had forgotten why I joined the choir in the first place. I’ve always seen God most strongly performing on a stage. I don’t know exactly why, maybe because going on stage is so terrifying that it leaves me no choice but to place everything in God’s hands. And that day I had forgotten that I wasn’t singing to make myself look good, I was singing to glorify my God.

We prayed that God would bless our performance, and I don’t know if he plugged the congregation’s ears, or stuck some singing angels in front of our choir and muted our vocal chords, but he took our horrible, ugly, imperfect, human gift to him and made it something beautiful.

God loves our gifts to him, the use of our talents, because it is one way that we can show our love for him. It’s like if your kid gives you an ugly drawing of yourself. Do you crush it into a ball and throw it away, saying, “This is a horrible representation of me! I don’t have blue hair, and my feet are not just lines. Come back when you have a Van Gogh.” Of course not! You would happily accept the drawing and stick it on your fridge so everyone could see just how much your kid loves you.

The whole experience made me realize that our gifts to God don’t have to be perfect. Actually, if we waited until we had a perfect gift to give God, he would never get anything because we’re all just about as off tune on the inside as my choir was at that church. 1 Corinthians 8:12 says, “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” Our pitch may have been lacking, but our hearts were in the right place. And that’s the kind of gift God wants from you.

 

 

Stephanie Wilczynski has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. She is pursuing an MA in English and Religious Education at Andrews University.

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