Monday, April 30, 2007

Review: Falling for Rapunzel

Falling for Rapunzel is a charming fractured fairy tale. This updated version has Rapunzel completely oblivious to the fact that the prince has come to rescue her. High up in her tower, she is unable to understand his directives meant to save her.

He calls out--Rapunzel, throw down your curly locks. Having misheard his words she throws out dirty socks. A series of rhyming couplets move the story along as the totally baffled Rapunzel tosses numerous things out of the tower.

How long does the prince attempt to save the self-sufficient Rapunzel? Can a couple with such horrid communication ever find happiness? Read the story to find out!

The illustrations are fun and kitschy. Lydia Monk used a combination of acrylics, colored pencils and paper montage to create the wonderful landscape and amusing detail that compliments the words perfectly.

The recommended age level is 4-10, but it is fun for all ages, and a great read-aloud.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Paul founded the church of Philippi during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-40). Later, possibly while in Rome, he wrote to the church from prison. As with any letter, Paul conveys several messages to the people to whom he writes, but for this post let us concentrate on his message of contentment.

In chapter four Paul writes of his thanksgiving. He expresses his thanks for their concern. Then the verses that have often made me wonder, "I am not saying this because I am need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing." (Phil. 4:11-12, NET Bible)

Paul knows how to be content? Even in jail?!! I don't know a lot about prisons, but this was, after all somewhere around 49 AD, anywhere you were would be far below any 21st century American standards. I imagine the jail situation was not pleasant.

Yet, Paul used the word autarkhs which means sufficiency or contentment. What can he possibly mean?

We live in a society where more is better. The one with the biggest toys wins. There is always a bigger, better, more modern house, car, computer, cell phone, etc. Even if you have no desire to upgrade to something new, then corporate America forces our participation if we are to keep doing the things we have become accustomed to doing. For example, by February 19, 2009 any home relying on broadcast TV will be forced to have a digital converter to receive these stations. An analog TV will be obsolete.

How can we find contentment when we are never satisfied?

Where does contentment come from? Look back at Philippians. Paul says, "I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13, NET Bible) Is he saying it is not all about us? Not about what WE can do? Our contentment is not about our achievements and abilities?

Isaiah 40:31, NET Bible "But those who wait for the Lord's help will find renewed strength..."

God gives us the strength to live day by day. He gives us the strength to not only survive, but be content--no matter what comes!

His Grace is sufficient for me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Standing Against the Odds

Yesterday's tragic shooting at Virginia Tech has prompted me to post a Case study I wrote a few years ago. The audience is primarily teens, but could be used with other groups as well. Lessons plans are available. This case study is copyrighted. If you wish to use this material please email me--include the name of your group and the setting in which you wish to use the study. I will send you a complete document, including lesson plans, that may be used one time with a small group. All other use is prohibited.

Standing Against the Odds
Study of “David and Goliath” 1 Samuel 17:8-50

~Jefferson High~

Jefferson was a typical high school. Students milled about, tending to social duties before first period. Everyone consumed with the complications of young love, raging hormones, and avoiding the watchful eyes of homeroom teachers. Students trying to fit in. Students trying to break away. All trying to figure out who they are and what their purpose in life is. Asking themselves: What choice do I have?


Looking at her, Mariah was not unlike the other students, even if she was barely over five feet tall. She wore the popular hip hugging jeans paired with a baby tee emblazoned with a smiling yellow sponge. She carried a bright pink cell phone in her leopard print bag. Everyday afterschool she attended volleyball practice and left in a battered blue Honda that once belonged to her older brother. After practice she rushed across town to her part-time job at the Beanery.

But there was something about Mariah that set her apart from her peers. She was a Christian. Not an Easter-morning-go-to-church kind of Christian. Not a “going to church cause her parents do” kind of Christian. She was a Bible carrying, church attending, friend evangelizing, Jesus freak. Her faith loomed large about her. Her friends knew. Her teachers knew. Her classmates knew.


Steve, on the other hand, would try anything once. And honestly? If it didn’t kill him the first time, he would probably try it again. The more he looked for pleasure and happiness the less he found. He grew to hate everyone around him, almost as much as he secretly craved to be loved and accepted by them.

Tipping the scales at 250 pounds he had been scouted by the football coach, but Steve dismissed the notion, complaining the coach’s demands were too outrageous. School work, responsibility and teamwork held no appeal for Steve.

If he stopped to look back, which he never did, he would remember that he had been very well liked--even popular--until his freshman year. The year his dad died. Six months after that, his mom remarried. And every week since, Ron, his stepdad gave him a $100 bill and said, “Find something to do.” Ron preferred the nights when Steve didn’t come home at all.


Steve and Mariah didn’t run in the same circles. Once, he made a pass at her, in his way. Then stood aghast when she replied kindly, politely even, to his lewd suggestions. Later he cornered her by her car and asked “Why ain’t you like other girls?”

“I think I am.”

“Nope. You ain’t.”

“Steve, I live my life for the Lord. His expectations aren’t the same as yours.”

He laughed at her.

Steve knew the stories about this so-called God. His dad prayed every day, insisted on regular church attendance, and cried out to God in his final hours. Why would a loving God take such a man away?

He also knew Mariah wasn’t the only fool to believe in this fantasy. With an almost submissive spirit, he knew what he would do.

~The Choice~

Mariah and her friends sat whispering in the library, cheerfully making plans for the football game on Friday night. Their conversation barely slowed when they heard the first commotion in the hall, but the noise grew louder. And suddenly, someone was screaming.

The three girls stood and started toward the library’s double doors. The screaming multiplied. Students ran. A tall figure appeared in the half glass of the library doors and they caught a glimpse of a rifle swinging.

Frozen by terror they watched. The rifle crashed through one of the panes and the girls whispered desperately to each other. “Get behind the books!”

The doors burst open just as Mariah’s pale gold curls disappeared behind a low shelf. Shots ripped through the room. Mariah covered her head as books, torn from their shelves, rained down on her head.

The librarian tackled a freshman near the office.
The two crashed to the floor and seconds later the office door was barricaded. Steve ignored them. He had seen the one he was looking for.

He called her by name, “Mariah?” He smirked. “I know where you are. If you'll stand before me, I’ll let your friends live.”

She remained quiet and calculated her chances of changing positions. It’s only about ten feet to the sophomore hall entrance. Maybe--

Before she decided he stood over her. “Stand up!” he ordered. The gun trained on her. “There is only one way out, for you and your God-lovin’ friends.” She remained where she was, tears streaming down her face. “Stand up!” he yelled.

Her vision blurred. She forced her shaking legs to support her and dragged her eyes to his. He accepted this and continued: “Admit there is no God.”

Neither moved. No one spoke. The library was silent.

After a few moments he asked, “Is there a God?” but his meaning was still clear: deny God and she may live, stand for her faith and she would die.

What choice did she have?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Old Homestead

My husband and I have been reading Jane Kirkpatrick's Homestead. The true story follows Jane Kirkpatrick and her husband as they face the challenges of building a home along the John Day river in the early to mid-1980s.

In our free time we are searching for a home of our own. Currently we rent. We have dreams of a home with an office (for my writing), a large yard for kids to play, and a kitchen with space for a coffee bar, a large pantry, and enough counter space for two to make sushi.

The problem: land is an expensive commodity in Central Oregon right now. If we find a house we like, it is on a postage stamp size lot. When we find the yard we love, it has a home that needs a good remodel and update to accommodate a family of four (or more someday.)

Every now and then we imagine our own homestead. Taking that leap into the wilds of Oregon--a place where no man has traveled (at least no phone, cable or electricity.) The trials and tribulations that the Kirkpatrick's faced help put that possibility into perspective.

Then there is the question of faith. Waiting upon the Lord. We know that He will direct us and guide us to the home He has for us. In the meantime, are we being good stewards of our time and resources? And how does our dream fit with His will?

Authors Note:
Jane Kirkpatrick is an Oregon author. She has written more than a dozen books, with her newest release A Tendering in the Storm available this week. The first chapter will be available on her website after April 17th.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Start Making a Reader Today

When I was little the phrase "Reading is Fundamental" was gaining momentum. All I really knew was that someone somewhere was encouraging kids to read.

The Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program has it's roots in 1966 Washington, D.C. Former teacher Margaret McNamara gifted four boys she was tutoring with books. The boys were overjoyed. She soon learned that many children have never owned a book of their own. She organized a group of volunteers, and by December of 1966 the RIF program was launched.

Today I volunteer with a program that is very similar to RIF. Every week, for one hour, I read with a child. The program I participate in is SMART: Start Making a Reader Today.

The SMART program is a non-profit literacy organization in Oregon. Children are chosen for the program on a case-by-case basis. The child is pulled from class for fifteen minutes twice per week to read with a caring adult volunteer.

Twice per month the child is given a choice of books to take home. The child is encouraged to take books at their current reading level. Over the course of the school year the SMART kids should receive a total of sixteen books. Children can participate in SMART any time during K-3 grades. If a child participates all four years they should have a collection of sixty-four books!

The program is completely dependent on adult volunteers. It takes only one hour a day, once a week, but you can make a difference for a lifetime. Often children are chosen for the program based on circumstances or reading ability. Either way all children benefit from reading and being read to.

Reading ignites the imagination, improves vocabulary and spelling, and increases a child's success rate in school and life. The RIF program is available in all fifty states. SMART is an Oregon program. Make the time. Start making a reader today!

Monday, April 9, 2007


Western Heritage Gathering: Women of the West--Part V

The day concluded with a presentation by Jane Kirkpatrick. What a remarkable story she has to tell! If you have not read any of her work, I highly recommend Homestead. This is the true story of the years of work and struggle Mrs. Kirkpatrick and her husband went through to carve out a life along the rugged John Day river in Central Oregon.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick discussed the four expressions of women of the West: landscape, relationships, spirituality and work. To demonstrate each expression, she presented slides of paintings by artists, Emmy Whitehorse, Hung Liu, Anita Rodriguez and Alison Saar.

Landscape sustains people.

Relationships strengthen us.

Spirituality reminds us this life is fleeting.

Work is what we do.

These four elements help create the story of women of the West. How does the land influence or hinder? Who are the people that come into our lives? Why do we live? What fills our days?