As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I moved to New Jersey this summer to be a part of the Parables and Books team. Part of my learning experience in New Jersey is how I’ve had to adapt to my new surroundings. One of the biggest things that differ from my hometown and here is how people drive. I’ve seen some crazy drivers in my time, but here it’s insane! In a way, I feel like I was able to adapt quickly to it, because I was expecting it and am somewhat of an aggressive driver myself. On the other hand, I still find myself in awe with the maneuvers people make. Just the other day, I swore someone was going to drive me off the road and I can’t tell you how many times people have tailgated me. I’ve also learned quickly that you should NOT use hand gestures when angry. This is a big problem for me, because I tend to throw up my hand whenever I can; I get it from my Grandma Ballash. But here, I was heavily warned not to do so, due to what might happen as a result of offending someone. I’ve learned to play the defensive driver; I just watch out for other drivers and stay in a lane at my own comfortable speed.
Another thing is how others here, including my own family, sometimes challenge my dialect. In Ohio, we say “pop” instead of “soda” and “tennis shoes” instead of “sneakers.” I’m not saying that I don’t know most people are joking around with me when they mention something or laugh afterwards, it just makes me think twice before I say something now. Like I also mentioned earlier, I was severely bullied at a young age and one of my ongoing life challenges is that I have a hard time “taking a joke.” I’ve gotten a lot better over time, but still catch myself getting angry or upset when words are directed toward me. It’s one of those things that I will be working on for the rest of my life. It’s really hard for me to take everything that’s said into perspective before reacting defensively. It’s just what I do to protect myself.
Along with the adaptations that come along with moving to a new state, there are adaptations that need to be made from living at home with your family or on your own, to living with family that you only used to see for a week once a year. I am overjoyed that I get to spend so much time with my family here in New Jersey this summer. I get to broaden my movie horizons with my Auntie Ely, relate to my cousins Jen, Em and Diane and have fun with my other cousins Don and Denise and their kids. It’s been great! But there is always an adjustment period that you go through. My family and I are all very close. I love them with all my heart and miss them everyday, but this is a big part of growing up, learning to be away from them and thriving on my own. The hope and excitement of seeing them soon helps drive me.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.” ― Gilda Radner
I am very excited that His Eminence Mor Polycarpus Eugene Aydin, Archbishop of The Netherlands is in the area. We had agreed to meet while he is here, so I arrived a little after 8AM to pick up His Eminence to take him out for breakfast. The moment I greeted him, I suddenly felt at peace with everything in my life. I was thrilled. The weight of the world instantly lifted off my shoulders and I was so happy to see him.
I wasn’t sure where we would go for breakfast. Believe it or not, we ended up at IHOP. It was not my first choice by any means, but when you are in the company of such greatness, the location does not matter. Spending time with people you care about always makes the moment better.
It had been a little over a year since I had the pleasure of being with His Eminence and there was so much to catch up on. We chatted about his amazing life and tremendous responsibilities in Holland. And I talked non-stop about what’s been going on here at Parables & Books, mainly the Sunday school curriculum we are in the process of developing.
It was amazing to hear his input about the importance of spirituality and how to help incorporate it into our daily lives. I invited him to join the crew at the Parables & Books headquarters so he can help guide us with the remainder of the curriculum. He graciously accepted the invitation and now it is a matter of finding out the best day to bring him in.
Having breakfast with Mor Polycarpus is the type of life moment that helps provide perspective which is so easy to lose sight of. Sometimes all you need is a half hour with someone who can listen and offer constructive support. Here’s to hoping we all have many more moments of clarity.
Hey everyone! It’s been quite a while since my last blog post. So much has been going on here at Parables & Books this year; we will have two grade levels from Educ8’s curriculum released in addition to a children’s pictorial entitled Worry Wart and an adult novel, If She Only Knew.
While I am excited for all of those endeavors, I do want to take some time for reflection. When I first began blogging almost a year ago, I initially wanted to incorporate parables somehow into the posts. I mean, the connection is pretty obvious and what better source for topics of discussion. My blogging kind of evolved into a sounding board to vent and bring up concerns and interests of mine. I’m happy with everything I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, but I do want to take this opportunity to blog about a parable so I won’t regret not doing it later.
There are many parables out there, but I’ve decided to talk about Matthew 18:21-35 which discusses the unforgiving servant.
According to the NIV:
“Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. 23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; 25 and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, `Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, `Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, `Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, `You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; 33 and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailers, till he should pay all his debt.”
When reading this parable, a few themes come to mind, mainly the importance of forgiveness. It takes a lot of strength to be able to forgive others, especially if they have deeply hurt us in a personal way. The ability to forgive is a true mark of a great person. I’d also say the hypocrisy of the servant is important to note. We cannot be so upset with others for hurting us in some way if we similarly have hurt others and in a much worse way. Karma is also explored in this parable, as the servant was ultimately punished for not acting benevolently.
Looking from a completely selfish point of view, it’s actually much better for individuals to forgive than hold on to grudges. When people stay angry for long periods of time, that bitterness just festers and affects the human body in such nasty ways. It really increases stress, which we all know by this point to be the biggest cause of all disease, be it physical or mental.
Furthermore, it’s a very self-centered person that doesn’t want to forgive yet expects others to extend that courtesy to him/her. That’s essentially what hypocrites are: egoists. As a hypocrite, you expect all the rules to apply to everyone else while you yourself are above the law. Everybody can be selfish and, at times, everybody should look out for himself, but that should never come at the expense of not being able to treat others with respect and humility. That’s really what forgiveness boils down to; respect. By forgiving others, you show that you have respect for them and are humble enough to overlook their faults and wrongdoings. Although it shouldn’t be, forgiving others provides an incentive for others to forgive us should we ever hurt them. Letting go can be difficult, but it really yields a much bigger return. The pros greatly outweigh the cons.
I’m not exactly innocent of being able to forgive other people. There definitely were times in the past that I held onto the resentment I had toward people that I felt wronged me. Unfortunately, that negativity really doesn’t get me or anyone else anywhere. I am using this post now to formally express sincere forgiveness to anyone and everyone in the past 24 years who intentionally or unintentionally said or did anything to hurt me. If anything, it made me a stronger person. I ask anyone that I may have hurt knowingly or unknowingly to forgive me in return, for all of our sakes. To quote Don Henley (or India Arie depending which version you prefer), “There are people in your life who’ve come and gone they let you down, you know they hurt your pride. You better put it all behind you baby; cause’ life goes on if you keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.”
Life is stressful. It’s jam-packed with things that we are expected to learn, understand and do. Even as kids, we are expected to play, but also to learn to tie our shoes and color in-between the lines. There are at least 12 years of schooling and the almighty task of finding and keeping a job. Throw in developing relationships and learning life lessons before eventually getting married, moving in with your significant other and having children. Then, making enough money to keep up your lifestyle and supporting your family, etc. What I’m getting at is that our lives often seem to be based on what we do in it; things that we accomplish, things we fail at, things we never got to do.
Then there are the things that we personally want to do with our lives. The crazy dreams and wishes we have. Bucket lists have become very common for people to have, as they mark down what people would like to try eventually. For example, I want to swim with dolphins and skydive one day, so both are on my bucket list. There are going to be some things you are definitely going to do no matter what and other things that may never happen, but play on what is a challenge for you and would change your life.
With all of this in mind, there is probably little time that you get to yourself, just an hour or even half an hour where you get to sit back and relax, because you are so used to being constantly on the go, thinking of what has to be done. Now, I’m not saying that I have a solution to all this stress, but I am going to guarantee that if you take this seriously, it will help you relax and give yourself a fresh start. Visit the link below, take a deep breath, follow the instructions and start relaxing.
“Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it." – Amir
Life is our own personal journey to navigate and live out. We can do with it what we want; travel to the corners of the world, learn to speak different languages or even bring new life into it. When we are old enough to make our own decisions, we start at the beginning of our own personal maze. We are the ones that choose the final destination and the stops we make along the way. There is no set ending that we have to reach in our life maze. It is all up to us. While some paths we choose might lead us to obstacles, there is always a way to get yourself back to where you want to be. In all honesty, those stray paths that you stumble onto are what make you who you are. It’s what makes you unique and whom you are meant to grow into and learn to be.
In my own experience with my personal maze, I’ve only recently put all these pieces together to make sense of it all. No matter how far off my course I’ve ended up, I’ve always been able to make my way back to where I want to be. This is possible through my faith. God didn’t only give me one opportunity to find my way back again, but several and often the choices and opportunities lay right in front of me. I also had many outlets to recharge myself, give myself a boost of motivation. While quicksand got me stuck for quite a while, whether it was due to severe heartbreak or a large setback in school, I had outlets to guide me home again. People to talk to either going through the same thing or an open ear or sharing heart to understand and help in some way.
No matter where you want to go in life, no matter what you want to do with your life, if you set it in your mind to accomplish it, you can. Anything is possible once you set your mind to it. Whether it’s money, a strong, loving family of your own, or traveling around the world, go for it. As they say, “life is short,” so take every opportunity and moment to do whatever you want to. Go wherever and say whatever you want. Just make sure you do it!
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth.” ― William W. Purkey
Life is a constant series of ups and downs. There are no blueprints to prepare you for what’s to come in times ahead. While this may make some things more exciting, the unexpected downs might knock you out for quite awhile. In all honesty, the past two years have been a constant series of ups and downs for me, with little time to rest. I’d like to share what keeps me going, what makes me want to wake up and push as hard as I can: my faith in God and the support of my family and friends.
I attended Catholic school from kindergarten to eighth grade. My whole life, my family has gone to church every Sunday. While my faith has never wavered, many things the past few years have made me question my religion. I know above all that God has my best interest at heart and knows what I can endure. To constantly remind me of this, I have a postcard with the poem “Footprints in the Sand” hung on my mirror. If you haven’t read this, I highly recommend that you do. Basically, it talks about a man who is walking on the beach with God and when he looks back, he notices that during his hardest times in life there is only one set of footprints left in the sand. He questions the Lord and asks him why he left him in his biggest times of need. God simply responds, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.” So even when you feel like something has completely destroyed you, always know that God is carrying you along when you can’t walk yourself.
Another huge thing to have in your life is a strong support system. You need people who drive your faith even further into your life. My parents, whom I thank and love greatly, are the ones that presented me to the idea of faith early on. My family still attends church every Sunday and prays before we eat meals together. I personally pray on a daily basis, thanking God for all that he has blessed me with and asking him to take care of the people in my life, keeping them safe from harm. Also, I have faith that the people I have lost in my life watch over me daily, filling my heart with love. Recently, I’ve lost several people that I was close to or really looked up to, and that’s another thing with faith, it keeps you closely connected to those who you no longer have with you. It also brings you closer to the people you still have on Earth, strengthening your love for one another and helping you believe in God even more. Faith reminds you not to take anything for granted, especially the people you’ve met and been blessed with.
“All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
My son is 19.5 months old and his current first love, besides his dad and me of course, is Elmo. So, in my quest to continue being the greatest mom ever, I decided to show him that he could have instant access to Elmo by pulling up some great videos on our iPad. Now, I have to squeeze in a chance to use my iPad. Perhaps it wasn’t my best idea but it brought up something we had not considered before. How much technology should our toddler be exposed to?
I suppose I should start by saying that my son, who only now is stringing together words to make a sentence, has been iPad savvy for at least 6 months (I’ve only had the tablet since Christmas). He has his own apps and knows where they are located. This kid knows the home button and can swipe better than I can. He even has shown me things I didn’t know the iPad could do. So, this brought up an interesting conversation between my husband and me. How do we strike a healthy balance between what will clearly have an impact on his generation, and the simple joy and beauty of opening up a book?
Our son is growing up in a world where information is instantaneous. E-books are becoming a reality and newspaper readership is down because we get our news on the Internet. Technology is reshaping the publishing industry in ways that no one could ever have imagined, especially with the advent of the tablet. Let’s not talk about how social media is now affecting our every day lives. I just read an article in the Atlantic about how a brand new app called Highlight is already driving social connections in new ways.
To put everything in perspective, my husband and I grew up in an era of the Dewey decimal system, taking typing class in high school and research meant going to the library. I mean, I can still recall the encyclopedia salesman who went door to door selling them…lol. We also grew up in a time when we knocked on our neighbor’s door to see if our friend was done with their chores so we could play. That was our social connection app. Oprah’s interviewed a group of Hassidic women and their families on her show Next Chapter. Their children don’t watch television and they keep technology out of their world. They read and play family games among other things. It’s admirable! But you would need to live in a really insular community to successfully achieve this goal and we do not. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I are tech savvy and we don’t want our son to be left behind. So it brings us back to the question, how much is too much?
We decided on limiting his exposure. Though that is easier said than done for a toddler. It literally means I have to put the iPad out of sight or risk a meltdown. His right brain is king so reason has not kicked in yet. I also suggested to my husband that perhaps we talk to an educator to see if there are any studies that are looking at the effect of technology on this generation. However some of what we are talking about may be too new to have been addressed. But they may have some insight and ideas.
In the meantime, we will do our best to balance his love of Elmo on the iPad along with his other apps. The good part is what he does view is educational. We will also continue to read books to him, take him outside and talk to him about all the things we see as we walk. Right now he loves being outside. Give the kid his hat and he puts it on, says bye-bye and heads for the door. Let’s hope we can fan that flame before the onset of video games…lol.
Perhaps those of you who have been so kind to read this post have ideas. It does not matter if you have a tech-obsessed toddler or not. Please feel free to respond. Even if it’s just to say, “This is only the beginning!” or “Hang in there, Nadine, this is the easy part.”
One of my biggest faults is that I’m not very good at trying new things. Once I find something that I like, it sticks. For example, when I went to the Olive Garden for the first time, I really enjoyed the brazed beef tortellini dish. The probability that I would try something new the next time was slim to none. In fact, when I went to the Olive Garden last week I barely looked at the menu, knowing before I even got there what I was going to order. When this summer began, I wanted to do something to change that. So, I decided that I would push myself out of my comfort zone and be open to new things and experiences. Thus far, I have been successful.
Since moving to New Jersey, I’ve tried different kinds of food: seafood and Cuban, neither of which I normally would eat. I felt a baby kick right before it was born, saw its birth and watched old movies and musicals with my auntie. My internship plays a big part of this list, especially since I moved to a different state to do so. I’m a very family-oriented person and living so far from my immediate family and friends is tough for such an extended period of time.
Another way to look at new experiences is that you gain newly gathered knowledge and can form a more fleshed out opinion. As a result, you can add real, personal comments into conversations, instead of just simply saying what you instinctively think or feel about the thing. When someone mentions seafood to me, my automatic reaction is to make a gagging sound; in fact, my reflex seems to have been trained to do so. After trying salmon and tilapia, I still am not a fan, but at least I no longer have an uninformed opinion.
The moments where you find yourself doing something that scares you or that takes you out of your “box,” are going to be the ones that make you happy and sometimes speechless. You’ll remember it for the rest of your life. It’s like when all of your dreams finally come true; the journey to the stars may be bumpy, but once you’re among them, you regret nothing and love everything about yourself and your life.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” –Mae West
Hello, everyone! My name’s Jennifer and I’m interning here at Parables & Books for the summer. A little bit about myself: I attend Bowling Green State University and will be graduating this upcoming December, so I’m in the homestretch of my college career. I’m majoring in creative writing and minoring in film. One day, I want to write and publish a novel and would love to write a screenplay for a movie or television show.
When I was told that I was going to be writing a blog post on my first day of work, I thought what better way than to talk about inspiration for dreams. You know how in life, you have those random moments of clarity? All of a sudden, you’ll hear a certain song lyric, quote, or watch a movie or TV show and just know something; something that was there all along, but it didn’t make sense until that second.
This past April, my favorite television show, One Tree Hill, ended its ninth and final season. While many of you may not be able to relate to the show itself, I’m sure that something has a strong impact on you, something that no one else understands like you do or has the connection that you have. Maybe it helped get you through a tough time, or helped you understand something better, or maybe it just gave you that hour of escape you needed from the world once a week. Maybe it just gave you something to look forward to.
When I was thirteen, I didn’t have many friends in school and I was bullied and made fun of a lot. In the beginning, One Tree Hill was that escape for me, a way to feel accepted in another world where my problems were played out before me. I finally understood that someone, somewhere felt the same way that I did. It made me feel like I could not only survive, but thrive and be whatever I wanted to be.
OTH affected me in a way that made me want to be a writer more than anything. To be able to write something that could inspire anyone to stand up for him or herself and always hope for the best. To know that “they’re not just a survivor, but a warrior.” This is what inspires me daily, not only to push forward, but also to know that maybe one day, I’ll be able to save someone’s life like this show saved mine.