In God’s Hands

In God’s Hands by Lawrence Kushner and Gary Schmidt is a charming traditional Jewish folktale of obeying God that children will be sure to delight in.

Jacob, a rich man, always feel asleep during service but one day he woke up just long enough to hear one verse from Leviticus, saying he should make 12 loaves of challah and give them to God.

Believing it had been God who had spoken to him, Jacob obeys.  He bakes the challah and brings it to the synagogue and places it in the ark.

David, a poor man with a family to feed who cleans the synagogue, finds the challah and believes God has answered his prayers for food.

This cycle continues on for years with Jacob believing God ate the challahs and David believing God made the challahs until one day the rabbi discovers what is happening.  He calls the two men together and reveals the truth.  At first, both are disheartened as their belief in God is shattered.

But the rabbi points out that even though their conception is wrong, they must go on continuing to make the bread, knowing how both of their hands are God’s hands, doing His work, for His people.

Great lesson for all about obeying the whispers from God and seeing how the outcome of obedience is God’s plan with often unpredictable and wonderful results.  My kids loved this tale and couldn’t wait to read it again.

“The Lord Will Fight For You; You Need Only to Be Still.”

Exodus 14:14

Words from Moses to the Israelites I needed to hear today and I thought some of you might need to as well.

Substitute I for “the Lord” and picture God whispering this in your ear and you’ll get a beautiful picture to last the rest of the day (and beyond).  Magic.  Powerful.  Life-giving. From Father to daughter or son.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

 

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua chronicles Ms. Chua, a child of Chinese immigrants, as she raises her two daughters in the Chinese parenting model.

She pushes both girls to be the best in everything, never settling for second-place (as Ms. Chua explains most Chinese parents do).  Both must practice their instruments (piano and violin) for 2-3 hours a day, every day.  Both must excel in school and be fluent in Chinese and she pushes them relentlessly to achieve as much.

She calls this “The Virtuous Circle”, which she explains on P. 29 of her book.  She propounds what Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you are good at it.  To be good at anything, you have to work.  Kids don’t inherently want to work so parents much push them.  Practice is the key.  Once the child starts excelling, the child receives praise from others, builds confidence, and makes the activity fun.  This will then created intrinsic satisfaction on the child’s part and he or she will want to work.

For her first daughter, Sophia, this works brilliantly.  Sophia works hard and is rewarded when she wins a contest and plays at Carnegie Hall.  For her second daughter, Lulu, this method creates all-out fights, screams, and general mayhem escalating to the point Lulu finally quits violin.

Chua says this method is magical when it works but she does finally admit on P. 212 that Chinese parenting doesn’t always succeed like in the case of her daughter, Lulu.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother offers a fascinating insight into Chinese culture and why so many of these kids are excelling.  While definitely not agreeing with some of Ms. Chua’s parenting styles (like screaming at her kids for hours a day and using threats for coercion), I did glean how we as parents need to guide our children who are still children. However, I think a gentle steering and encouragement would be a better approach and still produce wonders in your child. Suffice it to say you are guaranteed to learn something from this book.

Favorite quotes from the book:

“Just because you love something…doesn’t mean you’ll ever be great.  Not if you don’t work.” P. 215

“There is nothing better to spend our money on than our children.” P. 111

“It’s too idealistic to expect children to do the right things on their own.” P. 104  I liked this one because I tend to think my kids know right from wrong.  But a lot of the times they don’t.  That’s my job to teach them this.

“Winning prizes gives you opportunities, and that’s freedom.”  P. 193  I liked this one due to its implications to foreigners.  We Americans forget that we live in the greatest country on earth and many, many others want to come here.  It’s hard for us to understand cut-throat competitions when so much is hanging on the results, so much that we don’t even realize.

Winning the Olympics or having talent (like musicality) can be the pathway to the United States. I think this is why immigrant-kids are pushed so hard and work so much harder. It’s not about the medal, trophy, or prize at the end.  It’s about a way of life.  Ms. Chua touched on this point very briefly in her book.

Do You Ever Long for Heaven?

Beautiful Sunrise!

This was a question that arose in my other bible study and I found it fascinating.

If you are a believer, then your true home is heaven.  You are a transient here on Earth, here for a short time to accomplish God’s purpose for your life, and then taken back home.

But do you long for it?

My answer was no, I don’t.  And I think because I know I have not accomplished God’s purpose for me here on earth yet.  I am constantly striving to fulfill His desires; it’s what drives me.  And I am so consumed by this that thoughts of heaven (for me anyways) are few and far between.

I think when I get closer to finishing God’s work for me here these thoughts will become more and more frequent.

You could chalk this up to age.  As you get older, you think more and more about dying, God, and heaven.  But for me, I believe it’s more the former:  having to do with accomplishing God’s work for me.  I believe only then will I find rest.

So does this lead to a sense of comfort here on Earth?  I’ve never thought about comfort per se.  I’m so impatient to do His work that it consumes me most of the time.  I’ve never been one to covet fancy things anyways so as long as I have food, clothing, shelter, and my kids and husband are happy, I’m good.

Are we supposed to be comfortable here on Earth when it’s not our home?  John 10:10 says we are to live life to the full.  What what is the full?  Is it material items or is it peace, That’s for you to decide.  Check your gut.  What does it tell you?

Our teacher says we are not supposed to be comfortable here on earth.  We’re supposed to be uneasy.  I just don’t think about comfort much to be honest.  It’s not a main concern of mine.

BSF briefly touched upon this point in Lesson 27 Day 3 with John 15:19, reminding us that “the world hates you.”  So if the world hates us then we should be uncomfortable, right?

So what about you?  Are you at home here on Earth or comfortable or do you long for Heaven?  Or maybe a bit of both?