Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Whatever You Have Done for the Least of These, You Have Done Unto Me"

I have mentioned a few times about my Bible Study Fellowship class this year. It really has been a tremendous blessing for us to meet moms and children from all over the city and to be able to talk about the same passage of Scripture and sing hymns with even the toddlers! I have never met a Bible study that was so serious about keeping Scripture the main thing instead of letting our problems overwhelm the discussions (though we do pray for those every week as well). 

Well, school is almost out and we're nearing the end of our year long study of Matthew. I have been amazed at its urgency to tell others about how it's all really going to go down in the end. My notes from a previous week said that 1 in 20 verses talks about judgment. I have been in church all my life, but to sit down and actually go through a Gospel is an eye opener -- it's not just parables and healing and miracles. A LOT is about making sure you are not deceived into believing you have a relationship with Christ when you're actually going to hear, "Depart from me, I never knew you."

Sadly, I think so many Americans crassly summarize Jesus' words into some kind of uncomfortable coercion like "turn or burn!" instead of recognizing the fulfillment found in Christ and the grace He wants to bestow on all of us because we're ALL messed up sinner folks who were created by a holy God. No matter where you've been or what you've done, it's wiped clean through Christ; it's like someone handing you the keys to your shackles. More on that in a minute.    

Jesus also has a lot to say about those who know they are saved to be good stewards of their time, talent, and treasure. Not to waste spiritual opportunities when so many are available to us. I want my children to understand as they grow in their relationships (with peers especially) that we all have different circumstances, but it doesn't lessen the call to be faithful to that which He has called us to.       

To that end, I wanted to give a plug for a way we can be a part of sharing Christ's love to the "least of these" -- street children in Guatemala. My husband works for a missions organization called AMG International and I can personally vouch for the amazing work God is doing in the countries they are in.

AMG has recently partnered with a film company, Athentikos, whose heart is for the people of Guatemala. The director and his wife have adopted two children from Guatemala and have made two documentaries on the "least of these" in the country. The first movie, Reparando, explains about Guatemala's civil wars and how amidst the hopelessness, hope in Christ is blooming there. Here's the trailer: 

The second movie, Becoming Fools, is about a clown ministry that was started by a Christian man named Italo who tirelessly served the street children. Fueled by the love of Christ, he would pick them up when they were strung out on drugs and helped many of them change their course. Tragically, Italo died in a drowning accident and the movie serves as a memorial to his legacy of loving those who had nothing and pointing them to the One who could heal the broken. Here's the trailer: 

Neither of these movies mention AMG's work directly, but some of the children in Becoming Fools are served by AMG Guatemala's childcare centers. The director of AMG Guatemala said that as he's worked with the suffering, nothing changes these children's life fully but the love of Christ. Material things and education are provided for them (just as many "humanitarian" organizations do), but a security in people and material things have been taken away from these children before. When they truly believe that Christ's love can never be taken from them it fills the void they tried to find through drugs, sex, and a host of other vices. The Gospel focused ministry is what sets AMG apart from many other aid relief organizations and why I enthusiastically support them through volunteering with them and financially supporting their work through child sponsorship.

AMG is sponsoring a showing of Becoming Fools in several places in the US (some will be added later), but I wanted to promote the one here in Chattanooga.

Here are the details:

When: April 29, 2014 (TONIGHT!)

Time: 7pm (doors open at 6pm)
Location: The Tivoli (Downtown Chattanooga)

Hope to see you there!   

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Drawing for all Ages!

My daughter's dragon
As I've shared in previous posts, my family joined Classical Conversations this year and I have been dying to share some ideas with you all for applying Fine Arts in your home no matter what your schooling choice is. My 4 1/2 year old and I have had a blast with all these simple (emphasis on simple) art projects. That means I am not going to go full-on "Pinterest mom" in this post. Most of these projects require little more than basic art supplies (paper, pencil, markers, crayons, or paint), an ability to draw basic shapes, and follow basic visual-cue instructions.  

The Fine Arts curriculum for Classical Conversations comes mainly from a book called Drawing with Children. We start out with learning the 5 basic elements of shape using an acronym -- OiLs
  1. O - Circles
  2. . - Dots
  3. i - Straight Lines
  4. L - Angled Lines
  5. S - Curved Lines
Once your kids get those categories figured out, it can open up a whole realm of possibilities for them (and for you, too!). For instance, have you ever seen those "How to Draw a __________" books? They use the 5 basic elements of shape. You just add one element after another until you've created what you're after. Once you can effectively understand the vocabulary (circle, dot, various lines, etc.) you can teach your child to create all kinds of pictures. I can attest to this because I have done it with my own 4 year old and also with my 6 and 7 year old students and they have all done a fine job. In other words, this is for any age! You can sit right at your kitchen table and make some wonderful creations right before dinner or after school.   

So how do you get started with the basic elements? Here are a few ideas:

Don't Teach Your Child to Always "Color" the Pictures In
Sorry it's sideways. Blogger is turning my landscapes portrait style without a way to fix it! 
Did you know you can teach your children to color in a completely different way than just "in the lines"? I first saw this on a homeschool blog and it blew my mind. Look at the picture above. I used circles, dots, straight lines, curved lines, and angled lines to complete my picture from a simple coloring book page. Not a single thing was "colored in". We all have coloring books hanging around our house, so put them to a new use and help improve your child's way of thinking about art!

Get Some "How-To" Draw Books
Here are a some Ed Emberley books that I either just got in the mail or have checked similar ones out from our local library to incorporate the elements of shape. I tend to like Emberley for beginners because he does a lot of "stick art" that lends itself to not being complicated in its use of the elements, but still lots of fun.  

Making my own little world using elements of shape!

The fingerprint books are great for toddlers and preschool especially. You can make cards to give to family members.

Have Fun With Review
And if you want to make reviewing and incorporating the 5 elements of shape, go here for creating fun wildflowers by using the 5 basic elements and rolling some dice.

Go here for a look at this picture from an art teacher's blog. She has a No-No Board! This made me laugh because she is challenging her students to think outside the box with art. I wonder if her students and parents responded positively to it? I'm sure some of you think this a little harsh.

Mostly, I hope this post helps gives an alternative to TV for your young ones. I so easily default to it with my own kids and I need constructive, creative, and simple things to remind me that there is more to life than PBS kids some days when I need to get things done :)