I Know It Is Only Chocolate-But….

Chocolate is perhaps my second favorite substance after coffee. I especially love dark chocolate. Chocolate ice cream is my favorite dessert. Having a gluten free chocolate cupcake while drinking coffee at the coffee shop is one of life’s simple pleasures. So when I saw there is a recent controversy over a chocolate company’s new chocolate bar campaign, I was disheartened. I know it is only chocolate, but it is what it all represents.

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I am old enough to remember when a child could buy ten chocolate bars for one dollar and the chocolate bars were just as big as they are today. Now chocolate bars cost a dollar or more. Sad state of affairs. When I was eleven, I would cut the grass for some elderly neighbors. They would pay me three whole dollars. I would spend one dollar on chocolate bars, one dollar on bubble gum with baseball or football card inside, and put one dollar in my piggy bank. Wise economics I know.

It was my special moment after cutting their grass to ride my bicycle to the neighborhood store for my shopping expedition to get my treasures then ride my bike home to hide my treasure before going to the swimming pool.

So I know it is only chocolate but it is what it represents. It means something encroaching on childhood yet again.

With all of this rush to promote an agenda, children are losing out on just being allowed to be children. Children need and deserve to have their innocence protected.

So I know it is only chocolate, but it is what it represents. What do you think?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

The Logic of a Six Year Old Boy

During conversation practice with students, we take turns asking and answering questions. That might be a time my sense of humor comes forth such as telling the students I was born in 2000. Last Friday when I said that along with that I am 22 years old. my friend Azari told me I wasn’t. He told me I am 25 years old.

Azari is a six year old boy who comes to my Friday class at the Ukrainian church with his mom. He knows exactly where the snack box is and likes sharing snacks with the adults. So what was his logic behind thinking I must be 25 and not 22?

In his six year old mind, I have a beard and men cannot grow a beard until they are 25 years old. The color of the beard does not matter just that I have a beard, so I must be 25. I thanked him for his astute observation that I am 25 and gave him some chocolate.

Children are a blessing and valued greatly by Jesus. He blessed children while on earth such as we see in Matthew 19:14:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 

I enjoy seeing Azari each Friday afternoon, I wonder how much longer he will think I am 25?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

A Story from Ukraine That Got to This Teacher

As a teacher, one of the stories I heard at the Ukrainian Appreciation Dinner that really got to me was when Tania Synia shared about her work as a photographer and one encounter she had. Tania had a photography studio in Ukraine before the war. She focused on weddings, families etc. After Russia invaded, she stayed in Ukraine to photograph the effects of the war on people.

She came to one town to a school that had been destroyed. Two boys were getting into the school to look for books. They were excited to share with Tania that they found books they could study biology with. Most kids try to get out of studying, but being deprived of school due to the war gave the boys a desire to have their education continue. Tania has a website where she shares her photos. It is tetianasynia.com.

More stories to come. I am still on the mend. I do nebulizer treatments at home four times a day. That is a first for me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

We Need To Protect Children

As many of you probably already know, Netflix has a movie it recently posted called Cuties. After watching maybe about 10 seconds of the trailer, I stopped it and canceled my Netflix. The director claimed she was trying to criticize the exploitation of children but the problem is she exploited children to do so by having them perform they way she did.

The number of children who go missing every year is staggering. The number of children who are trafficked is alarming. The alarming numbers I am talking about are not just in poor countries, it is happening the the USA too.

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If you want to know what Jesus thinks of anyone who would traffick a child, in Matthew 18 while having a child in his presence, Jesus said:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Canceling Netflix is the least a person can do. I saw that for the trailer on YouTube for Cuties there were 1.6 million dislikes which is good. What worries me is the 36,000 likes for it. How many were pedophiles?

We need to do much better at protecting children. We need mandatory tough prison sentences for those who traffick children, harm and exploit children.

In California, a law was enacted that allows for someone found guilty of “consensual” sex with a minor who is less the ten years younger to not have to register as an offender. So do the math. If a 19 year old does something to a 10 year old, the 19 year old will not have to register as a sex offender in California. Why in the world was such a law even considered?

This is an issue that should concern everyone regardless of political affiliation. Children need to be protected.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

All Children Are A Blessing

In my classroom in the evening, there are two world maps. It is so fitting the maps are in my classroom where I teach English for people from diverse countries. I asked my student from Vietnam to take this picture for me last night.

For me it represents what my life is about, which is to share the love of Jesus with refugees and immigrants from all over the world. I teach adults, but I am also aware of the struggles their children face.

In the mornings, I teach English for moms from other countries in the elementary school where their children go. I interact with children in the hallway. It has been my practice to try to bless them in various ways in the mornings. Sadly, they are aware of the harmful things being said in our public discourse. That is a huge motivation for me to speak words of affirmation to them or just to joke a little with them.

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Monday morning I saw two sisters from Guatemala as we were entering the school. I greeted them in Spanish as I always do. One of them took my hand to walk into the school together. I greet the Hispanic children in Spanish because I want them to feel good about their language and culture. Sometimes I tease them in Spanish about how I think they want a lot of homework. I always wish them a good day in school in Spanish.

Monday morning I was talking with one of the 5th grade teachers outside her classroom as she was watching her students put on their coats to go outside for recess. A boy in her class came up and bowed to me, pointed at his teacher and said, “She is a great teacher.” Then he looked at me and said, “You are a great teacher.” He came here a few months ago as a refugee from Syria. I asked him his name and where he was from and then I greeted him in Arabic. He was surprised.

My interactions with the children in the school always reminds me of when Jesus blessed the children in Matthew 19:

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.”

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there”.

Children are important to Jesus. Children need affirmation, blessings, and encouragement. It concerns me that at an age that the only things they should be concerned about are spelling quizzes, recess, and hoping for snow days, the children I see every morning are exposed negativity in our culture. They hear it when the news is on.They hear comments out in public. Children pick up on a lot more than we realize.

So I will continue with my practice of joking with them. speaking blessings to them, and giving high fives in the hallway. All children all precious to Jesus and all children are a blessing.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Words Can Build Up or Tear Down

Have you ever experienced having positive input from someone turn your day around? I experienced that Sunday morning. I woke up feeling fatigued, which is normal for someone living with chronic illness, and was tempted to stay home and watch my church’s worship service online. But I did not want to give into the fatigue, so I went to church even though I felt bogged down.

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My group was missing some people due to some working and one getting her car fixed. The one person who came is fluent in English and is also a translator. She is from Peru. We spoke in Spanish most of the hour. She shared an observation with me saying, “You’re Spanish is good. You could be a translator in the future.”

I thought she was just being nice, so I said, “Eres simpactica” meaning, you are nice. She replied that she was serious and then shared with me some things I could work on to be ready to be an interpreter.

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When we were finished, the bogged down feeling emotionally was gone. I was still fatigued, but my mood was definitely lifted up.

Words have power. Words can encourage, heal, build up, or they can tear down, deflate, and destroy. Paul exhorted us about our words in Ephesians 4:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

A blog I follow is Christian Mommas. My little sister Temi writes most of the posts, but other moms share posts from time to time too. On Monday sbackues shared a post-Word Are Seeds. It is a wonderful post about how her words and her husband’s words to their adopted daughter helped their adopted daughter to begin to see herself in a better light. It is a great post to read.

Whether we are talking with children, teens, or adults, our words matter. God wants us to seek to build others up. In this day of cyber bullying, negative posts and comments in social media, and toxic public discourse, it is even more imperative for those of us who follow Jesus to be careful with our words.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.