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A Portrait of Jesus

This past week, while much of the news focused on Congress, the debt ceiling and the federal shutdown, another story caught my attention.

portrait of jesus WBNS-10TV

WBNS-10TV

A school district in Jackson, Ohio agreed to take down a portrait of Jesus that had been hanging in a school since 1947. The district is not removing the portrait because, after 66 years, it realized that the portrait might be a violation of separation of church and state. It’s removing it for financial reasons.

In February, the ACLU of Ohio and the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the Jackson City School District for “endorsing one religion improperly.”  The school attempted to argue that the portrait was part of a “limited public forum” but eventually agreed in court to remove it to avoid “risking taxpayer money.”

The actual story wasn’t what caught my attention. I’ve read about plenty of similar stories over the past couple of decades. What caught my attention was someone’s reaction to it.

“This is why are country is in trouble,” the person wrote. “We are turning our backs on Christianity.”

I couldn’t have agreed with that statement more. I just agreed for entirely different reasons.

I don’t believe many of our leaders or citizens are acting in a way that Jesus wanted.

From what I know about Jesus, he didn’t care about himself. He cared about everyone else. EVERYONE else – regardless of socioeconomic status, criminal status or religion. He simply cared about people and did all he could to help them while trying to teach all of us to do the same.

I can’t imagine the Jesus that I know would care whether or not his portrait was on a wall in a school. My guess is that he probably wouldn’t want it there. He didn’t want his image (or what  a lot of people consider his image) to be worshiped.

The type of worship he wanted was for people to understand his words and behaviors and to practice them every day.

There are those who would argue that the portrait of Jesus in a school was just a reminder for students to listen to his words and to do their best to practice his behaviors. If that is what they believe, I applaud them. But if they are trying to promote Christianity as a religion in which all people should believe, then I do have an issue with that.

I don’t think whether or not someone is a Christian defines whether they are good or bad  or worthy or unworthy. But I do believe that Christianity means that, instead of judging others, we love and care for them.

And that’s why I agree with the person who said we are turning our backs on Christianity. My agreement has nothing to do with the label and everything to do with the behavior.

Which is exactly the message Jesus was trying to teach us: it’s all about how we treat others.

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 98

I took a rare mid-day bike ride this week. As I pulled out of my neighborhood, I heard the laughter and screams of children.

They were enjoying recess at the school across the street, and I was enjoying their sheer joy.playground

For a few moments, I forgot where I was. I simply closed my eyes and listened to the delight the children’s voices.

And I found myself smiling.

Hearing children on a playground always makes me smile.

Day 98:  The Sound of Children on a Playground Day 97: Good Advice

Day 96: Red and white peppermint candy  Day 95:  The Soundtrack from the Movie Shrek  Day 94:  Accepting Change    Day 93:  True Love     Day 92: Camera Phones   Day 91: Bicycle Brakes    Day 90:  Heroes Day 89: The Cricket in Times Square  Day 88:  The Grand Canyon  Day 87: Unanswered Prayers  Day 86: Apples Fresh from the Orchard  Day 85: Being Human  Day 84: Captain Underpants  Day 83: The Diary of Anne Frank  Day 82: In Cold Blood Day 81: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry  Day 80: The Outsiders   Day 79:  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Day 78: The First Amendment Day 77: People Who Touch Our Lives   Day 76:  The Rewards of Parenting    Day 75:  Improvements   Day 74:  Family Traditions   Day 73: Learning From Our Mistakes  Day 72: Live Music  Day 71:  Sleeping In  Day 70:  Grover  Day 69:  A Good Hair Day   Day 68:  A Sense of Community   Day 67: Kindness    Day 66: Living in a Place You Love   Day 65: Gifts from the Heart  Day 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 68

cardinalLast Friday evening was a bit chaotic.

My son is attending the newest high school in the state, and Friday was the first home football game.  When I arrived early to volunteer in the concession stand, guards were already directing traffic, music was already blasting and the color red was everywhere.

The community was celebrating the area’s newest team – the Spring Mills Cardinals.

The team lost 75 – 0 anyway.

The loss wasn’t unexpected since Spring Mills has no senior class this year, but the score should have been discouraging.

Yet no one seemed particularly bothered.

The students still expressed pride and enthusiasm, and the community still showed its support. Adults and youth alike stayed late to clean up the stands and haul garbage.

And no one complained.

Recognizing that a sense of community is more important than a sports competition always makes me smile.

Day 68: A Sense of Community Day 67: Kindness   Day 66: Living in a Place You Love  Day 65: Gifts from the HearDay 64: The Arrival of Fall  Day 63: To Kill a Mockingbird   Day 62: Green Lights Day 61:  My Canine Friends  Day 60:  Differences   Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms  Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends  Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Unique Individual   Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties  Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires  Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”  Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us  Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures  Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers  Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly  Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents  Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories  Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want  Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon  Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap  Day 31: Perspective  Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans  Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows  Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads  Day 25: When Harry Met Sally  Day 24: Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck  Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love  Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds  Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth    Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 59

Now that my children are in middle school and high school, their school supply list is fairly dull. They need notebooks, paper andcrayons pencils. My son’s list has a few other items, but the lists are nothing like the ones from elementary and intermediate schools.

Most strikingly, they no longer need crayons.

There’s nothing keeping me from buying crayons, and I’m tempted to buy a box for myself.

There is absolutely nothing like opening up a box of brand new crayons.

That always makes me smile.

Day 59:  A New Box of Crayons   Day 58: Bookworms

Day 57: Being Oblivious   Day 56: Three-day Weekends

Day 55:  A Cat Purring  Day 54: Being a Day 53: Children’s Artwork  Day 52: Lefties

Day 51: The Neighborhood Deer   Day 50: Campfires

Day 49: Childhood Crushes  Day  48: The Words “Miss You”

Day 47:  Birthday Stories   Day 46: Nature’s Hold on Us

Day 45:  Play-Doh   Day 44: First Day of School Pictures

Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers

Day 41: : Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly

Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents

Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories

Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon

Day 32:

The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap

Day 31: Perspective

Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans

Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows

Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24:  Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 44

trina1sean3Today, like the first day of school when my son started kindergarten 11 years ago, will forever be preserved in photographs.

As my daughter begins seventh grade and my son begins tenth, they are well beyond being the excited children they once were.

But I, just like my mom, still insist on taking obligatory pictures. Maybe that’s because it’s one of the few times I get a picture of my two children together.

Or maybe it’s because I’m watching them grow up too quickly.

Or maybe it’s because I still enjoy the trina 8 sean 10first day of school pictures from my own childhood.

For whatever reason, the taking first day of school photos is a family tradition that I’ve held onto.

And it always makes me smile.

Day 44:  First Day of School Pictures

 Day 43: Calvin and Hobbes  Day 42: Appreciative Readers

Day 41: Marilyn Monroe’s Best Quote   Day 40:  Being Silly

Day 39:  Being Happy Exactly Where You Are  Day 38: Proud Grandparents

Day 37: Chocolate Chip Cookies   Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories

Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon

Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap

Day 31: Perspective

Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans

Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows

Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24:  Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 36

When I was in second grade, my teacher told our class that everyone needed to bring in two pieces of bread for an art project.bread

The night before the project, my mother wrapped two slices of bread in wax paper, and I carried the slices to school in anticipation of the project.

When art time arrived, my classmates and I carefully followed Mrs. Roth’s instructions. But when everyone else miraculously made bread play dough, I simply made a mess.

wonderberadThe teacher hadn’t told us to bring store-bought bread, something my family never had. My mom took pride in baking all of our bread from scratch.

And rightly so. Her bread was wonderful. It just wasn’t soft and sticky. Instead it crumbled.

Apparently you need sticky bread to make bread play dough. I think Mrs. Roth felt sorry for me, and initially I felt sorry for myself as well as embarrassed that once again my family had to be different from everyone else’s.

But after a few days, I discovered my debacle during art class made a really good story.

And over the years, I’ve found that being different is much more interesting than being like everyone else and that my greatest failures often become my greatest stories.

And that always wakes me smile.

Day 36: Challenging Experiences that Make Great Stories

Day 35: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Day 34:  Accepting the Fog    Day 33: I See the Moon

Day 32: The Stonehenge Scene from This is Spinal Tap

Day 31: Perspective

Day 30:  Unlikely Friendships  Day 29: Good Samaritans

Day 28:  Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?    Day 27: Shadows

Day 26: Bike Riding on Country Roads

Day 25: When Harry Met Sally

Day 24:  Hibiscus   Day 23: The Ice Cream Truck

Day 22:  The Wonderful World of Disney   Day 21: Puppy love

Day 20 Personal Theme Songs     Day 19:  Summer Clouds

Day 18: Bartholomew Cubbin’s Victory Day 17:  A Royal Birth        Day 16:  Creative Kids Day 15: The Scent of Honeysuckle   Day 14: Clip of Kevin Kline Exploring His Masculinity Day 13: Random Text Messages from My Daughter     Day 12:  Round Bales of Hay Day 11:  Water Fountains for Dogs    Day 10: The Rainier Beer Motorcycle Commercial Day 9: Four-Leaf Clovers  Day 8: Great Teachers We Still Remember Day  7:  Finding the missing sock   Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment     Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles   Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill    Day 2: Old Photographs Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street

365 Reasons to Smile – Day 8

Whenever someone uses the word “deduct,” I always think of Mr. Hoff. He once asked his class to use the following four words in a complete sentence:  defeat; defense; detail; and deduct.

None of his students were able to put together a logical sentence, and Mr. Hoff gave an impish grin and said “Defeat of deduct go over defense before detail.”

My classmates and I may have groaned, but I’ll never forget that sentence or those words.

Mr. Hoff was my fifth grade teacher, who I recently wrote about in my Charleston Daily Mail blog.  I was shocked when many of Mr. Hoff’s former students from Oregon started posting and commenting on the blog.

But I shouldn’t have surprised.

Mr. Hoff was an amazing teacher, and being reminded of a great teacher who made a difference always makes me smile.

Day 8:  Great teachers we still remember

Day  7:  Finding the missing sock

Day 6:  Children’s books that teach life-long lessons

Day 5: The Perfect Photo at the Perfect Moment

Day 4:  Jumping in Puddles

Day 3: The Ride Downhill after the Struggle Uphill

Day 2: Old Photographs

Day 1: The Martians on Sesame Street