Seizure Brain

Oliver’s bedtime routine involves him drinking a bottle of milk, going upstairs with Mommy to sing the “Brush the Teeth” song and take care of oral hygiene, then a story or five, and shutting the lights off together.  First the two lights by the stairs, next the bathroom light, then finally comes the light in Oliver’s room.

Now it used to be that Angela would put Oliver in his bed and rub him until he fell asleep.  If things were taking awhile, I would come up and take over rubbing duty so Angela could start her own bedtime routine.  If we try to sneak out before he is fully asleep, he cries.  He doesn’t just cry though, he cries and screams his head off as if he is terrified.  He doesn’t “cry himself out;” rather, the longer he cries, the more worked up he gets.  If left to cry for 45 minutes to an hour, he can get to the point where he is physically ill.  The last time we tried to let him “cry it out” it took me well over an hour to rock him to sleep.  Even after he was asleep, he was still breathing in sobs.  What I mean by this is that he couldn’t just breathe in a full breath; it kept getting stifled by his sobs.  It took about an hour after this (even though he was completely asleep) for his breathing to even out and normalize.

I’m not exactly sure why Oliver gets so terrified.  I don’t think it is the dark.  I don’t think that he just doesn’t want to go to sleep.  I think that maybe he just doesn’t want to be alone.  Maybe he is afraid to be alone when the Seizure Brain hits.  Seizure Brain is not a medical term, but just what I call his strange activity during the time he is falling asleep.

Almost without fail, this is what happens:  Oliver is getting sleepy either because it is his bedtime and he is naturally tired and he has just had his warm milk and we are rubbing him, or because it has been one of those days where he is just revved up and we have given him melatonin (a p.r.n. medication used to help with the onset of sleep).  Either way, what happens next is always the same.  His eyes get heavy and his breathing starts to deepen.  His muscles all start to relax and you can tell he is right on the verge of falling asleep.  Just when I think he is about to enter dreamland, a funny thing happens…  Seizure Brain happens.  Oliver’s eyes fly open wide.  He looks up, not at me, but past me at something only he can see.  The corners of his mouth start to turn up into the start of a small smile.  Then, his eyes meet mine and the smile intensifies.  His face is now in a state of pure euphoria.  Sometimes even, a high-pitched squeal laugh will squeak out.  Other times, it is just the enormous grin.  Now Oliver is fully awake again.  Sometimes he wants to get up and play, but usually he is content enough to let me keep rubbing him, though now it will be at least another 30 minutes before he drifts off to dreamland.

It is important to note that this activity in and of itself is not a seizure, or at least I don’t believe it is.  I think it is just his brain deciding to give him one last energizing jolt of awakeness.  For what reason, I can’t begin to guess.  I only know that this is a part of his everyday.  This is Oliver.  This is part of who he is, and it is something that we must accept, because there really isn’t anything that can be done about it.

Now in the evenings after he and Mommy turn off the lights, he walks down the stairs and cuddles with me on the couch.  I hold him close and massage his head, gently tickle his arms and hands, and rub his back until he relaxes enough to drift off to sleep.  I await the more-often-than-not Seizure Brain to occur.  I smile back at him when he finds my eyes and he knows he is safe.  He is with me and safe.  Usually, I can get him into a relaxed state, and we start the dance with sleep anew.

Once he is fully asleep, I carry him off to his bed, turn his sound machine on gently crashing waves, and quietly shut the door.  Now it is time for my nighttime routine.  I usually do the rest of that night’s dishes and maybe clean a little while the television is on in the background.  I check my facebook, and on very, VERY rare occasions, I write a blog entry.

I’m not telling this story for advice on parenting, or for pity, or anything like that.  This is merely a glimpse through a tiny window into our lives.  Of course, these are just my thoughts.  This is what the glimpse looks like to me.  You can read Angela’s on her blog if and when she chooses to update it.

Thanks for listening,

Jadey


Synthesization

How do we incorporate our critical thinking into our faith?  

This question should be on the mind of all Christians.  

Do not think of critical thinking and faith as enemies, or opposites.  Think of them as harmonious.  I contend that God wants us to think and reason.  I believe that we should embrace science and discovery, question everything, be willing to explore all possibilities.  Solomon was given wisdom.  Some say Jesus was the “smartest” man who ever lived.  After the things I have read and explored, I tend to agree with them.  

I am not telling you that the dinosaurs lived millions of years ago, or even thousands.  I am telling you that it is okay to delve into these theories.  It is okay to explore.  It is okay to think and reason.  

As a Christian thinker, I may have some biases that others don’t have.  I also may have some truths that others are blind to.  However, also as a Christian I have faith.  I don’t need to have “all the answers” to know that God made me and loves me.  That doesn’t mean I should stop thinking or trying to find answers.  

How, as Christians, should we go about incorporating our faith into our critical thinking?  Again I say, they go hand in hand.  We should be critically thinking ABOUT faith, and about everything.  Because we are Christians we have faith.  That is really what separates us from non-Christians.  Actually it is specifically WHAT we have faith in that separates us.  We have faith in Jesus Christ the risen Lord.  

So how do we make faith and critical thinking together a part of our daily lives?   

They already are.  

There is a prayer at the end of a book I just finished reading.  The book is called Habits of the Mind. (very philosophical, but worth your time if you like thinking and reasoning, especially if you are a Christian).  The prayer says, “Let me use all things for one sole reason:  to find my joy in giving You great glory.”  

That is how we incorporate faith and critical thinking.  Give God glory.  Do not stop thinking, philosophizing, turning ideas over in your head, reading, learning, and growing, but the glory is always to God.   


Thoughts on Sesame Street

Remember when we were kids and we watched Sesame Street on Prairie Public Television because we only had 4 stations and it was the best thing on?  Well I sure do.  Maybe some of you watch it now again that you have kids.  I watched it when Mr. Hooper was still alive and the craziest muppet was Grover.  Yeah, I am talking the pre-Elmo era.  

The cool thing about Sesame Street is that it actually promotes tenets of the gospel.  Think about what Christ says about loving your neighbor as yourself, and about the fruits of the Spirit.  

I don’t think Sesame Street is a particularly Christian-themed show, but it definitely promotes a spirit of love, sharing, friendship, togetherness, morality, goodness and many others, which are definitely tenets of the gospel.  Of course, Sesame Street is for children, or that’s what we are led believe.  However, because of the positive message it delivers, I think it is a show for all ages.  Even as adults, we can learn a thing or two.

Another thing Sesame Street promotes is learning and using your intelligence.  This is also a very biblical idea.  Consider that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, MIND, and strength.  

There isn’t much wholesome programming on in this day and age, but if there is any hope of finding some, I think children’s programming is your best bet.   
 


Faith and Learning

The Learning Process:

Going into this class, I expected to be inundated with doctrine and told how to think.  I didn’t expect that I would be encouraged to think for myself.  Most of the Christians (especially evangelicals) that I know are very rigid and legalistic in their thinking and ideas.  I expected more of the same from this college, and honestly this course.

Intellectually, I suppose I knew that it was okay to question, to doubt, to think, and to have different views, but I was never really able to embrace this idea.  This course has taught me to do just that.  One of my other courses comes off as very legalistic, and the author of the main text is actually very offensive in the way he presents his “facts,” calling pretty much all contrary ideas to his, laughable.  He has all of the answers to everything; pretty, prepackaged, safe, nice, cuddly answers that dissuade us from thinking for ourselves or questioning.

The texts for this course are quite the opposite.  They actually encourage thinking and independent thought!  They encourage using your mind to its fullest and “Thinking while I know.”  This concept was not foreign to me.  However, it was shocking to have it reinforced by those I assumed were like all the other “Christians” I had known my whole life.  I discovered that not all Christians are stuck in legalism and some actually embrace thinking and learning.  I am ashamed to say I was starting to believe that most Christians were unintelligent, ignorant, bossy, know-it-alls who had all the prepackaged answers, and were unwilling to listen to other ideas.  I was worried that my grades might be affected by my unconventional ways of thought about Christian precepts and ideas.

The greatest things I have learned so far are that God actually wants us to use our mind.  It is okay if we don’t agree on everything as long as we are continually learning and growing.  There are extremely intelligent Christians who love God with their whole heart and mind, and want others to learn to love God with their whole hearts and minds.  That last one was probably the biggest shock.  I need to start surrounding myself with these sorts of Christians, so I don’t lose hope and faith in my religion.

I am still learning, but now I do so with an excitement and passion that has awakened that I have not felt in a long time.  I don’t do so with fear and trepidation anymore, but with gusto!


Salt of the earth.

Romans 12:2  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Let’s break this down…  Do not conform to the pattern of this world.  What does that mean?  What is the pattern of this world.  I think the pattern of this world is largely based on self-gratification.  The pattern of this world and this society says that the more possessions we have, the higher our status.  We often ask the question “What’s in it for me?”  What gain will come from me making this choice, or doing this thing.  How can it benefit me or my family.  

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  In layman’s terms, this means to enact change by learning to think differently.  You are used to thinking a certain way; instead, think the opposite.  What is the opposite of self-gratification, self-serving, selfishness?  The gratification of others, serving others, and selflessness.  This is how we are to think in order to transform ourselves.  

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. This part is easy.  If you enact change by learning to think differently, when you have a choice presented to you, you will be able to correctly make a right choice or decision, which is also pleasing to God, because you will be doing His will.

So in short, the world tells you to be selfish and look out for you and yours.  God desires us to be selfless and help others, even at our own expense or peril.  Everything Jesus teaches goes against what we see in the natural order of the world.  Not hate and anger, but forgiveness and love.  Not ambition and greed, but peace and offering.  Not selfishness and envy, but selflessness and sacrifice.  

Hate, anger, jealousy, ambitiousness, greed, envy…  All of these things are very easy for us, because they go hand in hand with our very nature.  Love, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, edification of others, selflessness are all very difficult because it goes against our baser desires.  This is why we need transformation.  This is why we need to avoid conforming to the “pattern” of the world, but instead conform to God’s will.

 


The moral of the story

I just watched the movie Real Steel, and I am trying to figure out the moral.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet, *SPOILER ALERT* I am going to talk about it all through this blog post, so you might not want to read further if you plan to see it.  It starts out with a down-on-his-luck guy who doesn’t have any money, but has a fighting robot and decides to risk everything on a ridiculous fight in which the robot faces a bull.  The CGI was so bad that I am not worried about the bull being hurt, so all of you animal lovers need not worry.  The fight starts out well enough, but he eventually loses (he bet everything he had left on the fight).  Instead of paying his debt, he skips town, but not before learning a woman from his past died suddenly, and he has an 11-year-old son.  He decides to sell his kid to the kid’s aunt for a sizeable chunk of cash, which he then turns around and immediately spends on another fighting robot so he can gamble and try to win some of his money back.  The other catch is that even though he sold his son to the kid’s aunt, he has to spend the summer with him so the well-to-do aunt and uncle can go to Tuscany for the summer and not have the kid around.

We find out that he owes everyone some money and doesn’t have much hope for getting things together.  He is reckless and when he finds a way out of his mess, he continues to be reckless, putting himself back in the same mess.  After losing half the money he got for selling his kid, (the same kid who he is spending the summer with), he goes to the junkyard to look for robot parts to try to get in on some gambling action so he can again risk everything.  This is where the kid (not the man) finds a old fighting robot that was just left as junk.  The kid wants to train this piece of junk robot to fight so he too can gamble.  His dad doesn’t think it is a good idea…  NOT because it would teach the kid his reckless gambling ways, but because he doesn’t think that the robot has a chance.

Even though the Robot shouldn’t have had a chance to even get a fight, they found a fight for him.  They are able (through the dad’s knowledge of boxing and the kid’s heart and belief) win the fight.  They start making money because everyone gives the old robot really bad odds of winning, and they continuously surprise them.  They make more and more money until you think that things might actually turn out okay for them.

THEN BAM!!!!  Out of left field, the dad’s past catches up to him.  Remember that debt he didn’t pay at the beginning?  Yeah, those guys didn’t really appreciate his skipping town without paying, so they beat him within an inch of his life, knocked his kid around a little and stole all of the money they had accumulated thus far.

Realizing that this was all probably a bad idea, the dad finally shows some insight and ships the kid off to live in the much safer environment of his well-off aunt and her husband.

Back when the robot was fighting and winning, he got an actual league fight, and to the surprise of everyone won that fight.  It was this fight that inspired the kid to challenge the heavyweight robot champion of the entire world.  It looked like that fight wasn’t going to happen since the dad got beat up, but he had a change of heart and went and asked if he could see his kid one last time and try to make things right.

They went to the championship bout and their underdog robot went toe-to-toe with the champion robot the entire fight.  They ended up having to use the dad’s boxing skill and the robot in shadow mode to end the fight.  It came down to a decision at the end in which the champion robot, Zeus, still remained the champion robot.  Their robot got the title of “People’s Champion.”

Moral?  Let’s see…  Not really one to speak of.  Maybe…  “Don’t be reckless because it will catch up to you.”

It seems to be contradicted by a “Everything will always work out in the end” theme.

I think the only GOOD lesson the movie might have had to offer is that of faith.  The boy never lost faith in his robot. Never.  Not once.  His faith was unwavering.

This is the only link I can find to how the movie might fit with our Christian faith.

I would, however, NOT recommend this movie.

I could have probably written a better script in half the time it took to watch this movie.  Don’t think I am tooting my own horn though, as I believe this is also true of most first graders.


Thoughts on internet censorship.

As you have have probably heard, SOPA and PIPA are two bills that the entertainment industry is trying to get passed to prevent piracy.  From what I have heard, seen, and read on the issue, this will not only do a poor job of preventing piracy, but also censor a lot of things we are able to do on the internet.

Sites like YouTube will be the hardest hit, making it illegal to post yourself singing a copyrighted song (songs you hear on the radio).

I personally do not download movies online illegally.  I DO, however, use movie and television clips in my facebook posts.  Something that, if I am understanding this correctly, under the new censorship (disguised as anti-piracy) bills of SOPA and PIPA, I will be unable to do.  Imagine having to explain that you like a television show or movie or song without being able to link to a clip of that television show, movie, or song.   I think maybe this infringes on our rights of free speech a little bit.

How do bills like this get “fast tracked” anyway?  I can’t imagine anyone voting for this.  I haven’t heard any GOOD arguments for this, except for “Uhhhh, piracy is bad, mmmkay?”  which in case you didn’t catch that, I would probably be censored for  using the likeness of Mr. Mackey.  Also, this doesn’t seem to address the issue of piracy, but instead focuses on censorship.

Let’s hope these bills do not get passed!