Counterfeit Rest: When Scripture is hard and Netflix is easy

"I wondered why diet coke is
addicting while regular coke seems not to be."
Photo by Drew Taylor
I have at least three friends who are addicted to diet coke. To be fair, they all say it's the most innocent version of other things they might otherwise be addicted to, but that's not what catches my attention here. I wondered why diet coke is addicting while regular coke seems not to be. I set my mind to researching this peculiarity, and the answer I found is fascinating. It's also surprisingly applicable, even if you aren't a fan of artificially sweetened beverages.

You see, as that delicious-tasting liquid tantalizes our tastebuds, the nerves in our tongue (not realizing the chemical sweetener in diet soda is an imposter) send a message activating the reward hormones in our brain--a mechanism God built into humans to keep us doing healthy things, like eating. But after the immediate satisfaction of flavor subsides, your body is left expecting to be satisfied. However, since aspartame doesn't deliver the sustenance of true calories, the hormones in your brain get upset and demand more of that magic liquid, hoping the second bottle will satiate the brain's need for sugar energy. The second can, like the first, activates the dopamine without the fuel punch to back it up. So the cycle continues.

How to Memorize all 50 States, their Locations, and their Capitals in One Hour

U.S. geography might be one of my favorite things to learn about, since it seems so immediately useful. When our family is studying our own country, I never have to answer the question, "Why do I have to leeeearn this?" It makes sense to the kids that we ought to know the names of the places we can actually visit--places in our nation which compiled together make up our American culture.

So why is it still hard to remember all the states and capitals? Does it surprise you at all that most Americans can't name them all?

A few years ago, when I first taught U.S. geography to my oldest, I scoured the internet in search of a memory technique that would help us remember all the states, their capitals, AND their locations. But it seemed such a thing had never been made!

Of course, there are wonderful mnemonics for memorizing which states go with which capitals. Simply google "States and Capitals Song" and choose your favorite, or take a quick spin through the hilarious book, Yo Sacramento!

But none of these tools I found helped us to link the state's name to its location on the map. So I decided to make one. I have since used this with my oldest three kids, and several years' worth of 5th and 6th grade classes.

A Lament

For America, upon hearing of another shooting in Baton Rouge.
A Lament.

10 Awesome Review Games

We're about to start another year of homeschooling here at the Dietz Den, and as I'm gearing up I've taken some time to compile a collection of my favorite fast-paced review games. These are best-suited for small classes of 8-12 year olds. In Classical Conversations, this would be the Journeymen or Masters classes.

One attribute of our review games I've grown to love is Collaboration. In the Collaborative Model, struggling students are never left out or left behind. Instead, they hear the review topic extra times and receive extra encouragement and attention from their teammates. In the Collaborative Model, it's everybody's turn, every time (or it could be!), so every student stays engaged.

My Planned Parenthood Story

I was 18. It was Mother's Day. And I was staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. Up until this moment I had thought I was invulnerable--that teen pregnancies only happen to other girls. I was wrong.

If I have this baby, my life will revolve around it for the rest of my life; I'm too young for my life to be over.

A million thoughts flew through my head. What would the church think, or my parents who had homeschooled me? What about my five younger siblings who all looked up to me? I felt dizzy. My boyfriend would know what to do. Just wait til morning and tell him in person. Yeah. He'll get us through this.

Sitting on the curb outside our community college the next morning, I told him the news.

Teach these Things to Your Children

An Open Letter to Elizabeth Esther
in response to her article, "Teach Your Children They are Whole"

Dear Mrs. Esther,

First, thank you for sharing the obstacles you faced before finding Jesus. Your honesty and vulnerability are admirable, and I wish to take nothing away from the validity of your experience. I'm sorry the gospel was not presented clearly to you as a child--particularly as a child growing up in the Church. I appreciate the opportunity to engage in discussion on how to better our ministry to our children.

I, like you, believe that the most important task God has given us as mothers is to disciple our children. I, like you, eat and sleep and breathe motherhood; at times I don't eat or sleep or breathe--on account of mothering. Like you, I believe that above everything we do, the chores, the disciplining, the cheering, the loving... the most valuable gift we can give our children is a right view of who God is.

The foundation of a right view of God, of course, must begin with a high view of Scripture. That is, assuming we are talking about Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, Jesus, the Messiah and Head of the Church, and His Holy Spirit, we must accept the Bible as authoritative. So, while our experiences certainly account for some authority in our lives, they are not the final word. Scripture is.

It is under this appeal to Scripture, then, that I feel compelled to challenge your charge that we teach our children that they are whole, rather than broken.

The Silver Lining in the Destruction of DOMA

A few months ago, when the Supreme Court first revisited Proposition 8, I wrote that the battle over legalizing homosexual marriage was not as much about civil rights as it was about moral rights. Today, Justice Anthony Kennedy confirmed my suspicion in his majority opinion overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Citing a document from the 1996 enactment of DOMA, he made the case that DOMA was created to express “both moral disapproval of homosexuality, and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.”

Why the Church Can't Support Gay Marriage (even though we want to)

As a Christian living in San Francisco, the LGBT capitol of the United States, possibly of the world, I love the gays. I smile when I see a family with two dads or two moms thriving and enjoying life. As the Holy Spirit regenerates my heart, everything in me wants to fight for the oppressed, stand up for the rejected, and speak out for the outcast. So today as the red equal sign goes viral on the internet, I want to change my profile picture; I want to stand with my friends who are earnestly hoping for marriage equality.

From where I stand, there are a lot of reasons why the gays should be allowed to marry. There are plenty of good political, economical, and sociological reasons, but there are zero theological ones. Since this blog (and my life, for that matter) is devoted to representing and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, I need to explain why I cannot support gay marriage.

In the Posture of Advent

I just realized that today, 12.12.12, is the last of the repetitive dates we'll see in our lifetime... I've taken them for granted these last 11 years; have you? 

On 01.01.01 I was a freshman in high school, Clinton was still president, no one thought about terrorism or knew where Iraq was. No one I knew had a cell phone.

By 06.06.06 I was a mother, Bush had been re-elected and we were going on our seventh year of the war on terrorism. The twin towers had fallen, killing almost 3,000. We had seen Anthrax scares, transit bombings all over the world, and terrorism threats abound. We grieved with Indonesia as the most deadly tsunami in recorded history killed over 230,000 people. The lesser known Darfur Genocide had already taken up to 450,000 lives and displaced 3 million.

When Heaven Breaks Through

I often marvel at how anyone living during the first century could have missed that Jesus was the Messiah. (In fact, I have some friends who converted backwards from Christianity to Judaism: Blows my mind.) The Gospel writers saw Jesus' miracles--the signs and wonders that accompanied His teaching--as evidence that He was the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. The healings and the casting out of demons weren't just a big show to draw a crowd; Jesus' miracles demonstrated a specific characteristic the Chosen One must possess: the ability to "undo" pain and evil. (Ps 22.24-27; 146.7-8; Is 11.4; 29.18; 35.5; 42.1-7; 49.9; Lk 7.22; Acts 10.38; Heb 2.14-15)