Thursday, December 1, 2005

Kids Get the Deeper Symbolism of Narnia

One of the strongest entertainment draws for the teenagers this Christmas season is the The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, a movie based on C.S. Lewis’s venerated novel. By nearly all accounts, this interpretation is engaging and riveting, so it’s not surprising that some teenagers see it first with a friend or their family and then again with a whole posse of friends or their youth group.

Besides compelling action and captivating special effects, why do teens like this movie? When I asked a group who had just seen the movie, on theme emerged that pointedly communicated that teens “get” the symbolic undercurrent of the plot, “the deeper magic” of Narnia, which is the pre-existent plan for a sacrificial death inspired by timeless, unfathomable love.

Laura Hapner, seventh grade, said her favorite scene was the death scene because “Aslan was mocked, tormented and finally killed just to save the one who was really guilty, which reminded me of Jesus’ crucifixion, and it almost made me cry.”

Mason Haskett had been waiting for months for the premiere, and he was not disappointed. “Besides being a really great movie, it showed what humans are really like in the character of Edmund. I could relate to him. We have all done wrong just like Edmund.”

Senior Seth Kirby enjoyed when Aslan crested a hill, resounding a commanding, impassioned roar, signaling his eminent victory. “It gave me goose bumps because I related it to when Jesus Christ will return to earth someday in all his power and glory.”

Lauren Davis, ninth grade, and 000000 000000, eighth grade, both cited the resurrection scene as the most moving because of biblical similarities.

In short, sacrificial death, resurrection and triumph of the virtuous spoke to all of these teenagers.

Adults should never underestimate the creativity or the emotional and spiritual depth of teenagers. After all, C.S. Lewis was merely sixteen when he had a dream about a faun holding a parcel in a snowy forest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

2006 Junior Miss is Inspired By Her Faith

Sunday night I was already half-standing in anticipation as the name of Delaware County’s new Junior Miss, Allison Hatcher, was announced. I have watched Allison grow from a typical, kooky, brace-faced, giggling pre-teen into a graceful, compassionate young woman whose faith is an integral part of her life.

Allison became a Christian when she was four years old and has grown in her faith steadily, although there have been bumps along the way,

“In middle school, my best friends didn’t always share my values, and their influence was not the best for me. I had to break away from them to maintain who I was, and that was very painful. But over time, those issues were resolved, and our friendship was restored in high school.”

At Delta, Allison tries to balance her time between academics, dancing, Honor Society, pep band, drama, church activities and friends. Into that mix came the demanding schedule of Junior Miss rehearsals and activities.

When asked about the pressure of the competition, Allison said, “The scholarship awards were really important to my family, so the stakes were high, but I knew that ultimately, God is in control of my future. The biggest challenge for me was protecting my friendship with two close friends also in the competition. I was praying for balance because each of us wanted to win, but we didn’t want the competition to come between us, and it didn’t.”

Every young girl has just as many unique abilities and traits as the smart, talented contestants displayed Sunday night. But being on stage isn’t the only time to “Be Your Best Self,” as the Junior Miss motto encourages. Allison didn’t put on a show for the judges; she simply let the light shine that comes from knowing God loves her, and she exuded confidence and capability.

Allison says, “Being a Christian doesn’t mean you will always come out as number one. But even when you’re disappointed, you can rely on God’s comfort and plan for your life.”

Shine on in the state competition, Al!

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Celebrating the Midkid

Originally published 10.01.2005.
October is the official “Month of the Young Adolescent.” Basically, that translates to, “Let’s give a shout out to middle schoolers,” since adults usually avoid them until forced to interact, like when the kid breaks a collar bone or melts down about her project due tomorrow.

Adults have even neglected to coin a decent name for this developmental stage; thus, these kids are awkwardly called “middle schoolers” at best, “Tweeners” at worst. Therefore, I proudly debut my name for this group: “Midkids,” signifying a niche smack dab in the middle, in a sort of developmental no man’s land.

Actually, this distinctive group defies a one-word name. It is multi-faceted, like phyllo dough, comprised of many layers forming one flaky entity. I say that lovingly because I currently parent a Midkid and work with about 30 in a weekly ministry. I know and love Midkids, in spite of their being “too big to act like that” but not big enough to do a lot of things unsupervised. Here are some lovable attributes of Midkids:

-They’re flexible. They go with the flow quite easily, as long as their friends are flowing down the same creek. Most Midkids travel in small chosen herds, which are best not disrupted for such trivialities as small groups or teams, as they become disoriented and suffer separation anxiety until reunited. That’s why Midkids love to do group community service projects; they get to work within the security of the pack while trying something new.

--They are passionate. Their famous emotional outbursts are often expressions of righteous indignation for others, namely friends. If someone is being slighted, Midkids often ardently take up the cause as their own.

--They’re compassionate. I’ve noticed that they don’t forget friends’ prayer requests and are eager to help the sick and needy, such as Katrina survivors.

--They love God. Many times I hear Midkids express their relationship with Him as “He’s my best friend,” and of course, to a Midkid, this is the ultimate compliment.

So here’s to you, Midkid—energetic, honest, energetic, faithful friend—did I mention energetic?
You are so fun!

Friday, September 30, 2005

About Me

I remember watching the clock tick toward recess in the 2nd grade and then making a beeline for the paper my teacher kept on the windowsill in the back of the room. “Let them play kickball,” I would say to myself, “I will write stories!” Yes, I have been an English major nerd my entire life. I not only embrace the nerdiness but revel in it. Soul Mate? Perhaps Garrison Keillor--Patron Saint of English Majors.

I thought I would teach high school English, but I married my college sweetheart and soon began a family which has grown into:

A 22 year-old recent college graduate daughter (an English major, no less) who is my pride and joy.

A 20 year-old son who draws the line at snacking on anything nonporous, excels at lifting heavy weights such as dumbbells and his mother but not heavy clothes hampers or trash cans.

A 16 year-old, quiet, unassuming girl who likes to startle her family by randomly bursting into Ethel Merman-esque Broadway tunes.

My husband, referred to as "Jorge the Jabanero" on my blog, speaks a strange language called “math,” which has made for some zany communication attempts between us. Here he is in our 1981 high school newspaper after being voted "best male body." I told you he was hot.

Thus, there are five people in my family, plus one dog and one other intrusive entity who moved in in 1986 and never left: Laundry Pile.

I reside in Muncie, Indiana, home of the Garfield the Cat and Ball State University, of which I am an alum. I work in a large youth ministry called "Oneighty" because one cannot have too many teenagers in one’s life. I’m a regular contributor to Christian Women Online’s Devotional “Internet CafĂ©,” and I also write a small column for the local newspaper, which I am “scrapbooking” on this blog.

Reared in a Christian home, I completely surrendered my life to Jesus in college and then lived a fulfilling life mothering my kids full time for many years.

In my early thirties, I encountered the most difficult period in my life, the onset of clinical depression. I can personally verify Psalm 34:17-19: "Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” It was a long, arduous struggle, but God was faithful.

Although I'm not sure who he is, I agree with William Davis who is credited with saying, “The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and then think for ten minutes.” I aspire to write in that vein in my columns. My goal is to entertain and encourage readers, share life's ironies, point readers to Jesus without preaching, and to live long enough to see my children have teenagers of their own.

Finally, Erma Bombeck is my writing hero. But Dave Barry is a close runner-up because he autographed his book to me, "Linda, you are a goddess." Nevermind that he writes that phrase every time he signs anyone’s book. If Dave Barry likes me in a totally abstract, non-personal, doesn't-even-know-I-exist way, I hope I can win you over, too.

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