Sunday, March 20, 2011

NYC Johnsonstyle

I couldn't wait for the Wonder Twins to get old enough for us to do some special Mother/Daughter things. I took my girls to NYC for Spring Break. The Husband stayed home with the other two Shorties (he has his own superhero cape and costume). While we were gallivanting in the Big City, he took The Little Flower and The Number One Son to McWane Science Center and to the B'ham Zoo by himself. (Whose your daddy? Eh? I know who my man is.)

We did everything in four days that one can squeeze in the Big Apple

Day one: we left for the airport at 3:30 a.m. Our flight was at  6:00 a.m. First for the girls, so they were super jacked up about it. We flew to Baltimore and then stayed on the plane while they added and subtracted some folks. At 11:00 a.m. we were out of the plane and getting into our first taxi ride. We checked into The Manhattan Hotel at Times Square. Excellent view, excellent room, excellent staff. The first thing the girls wanted to do was EAT! We were starved and hunted up some real NYC food. Some food items that made the short list to try in New York:

Pizza, brisket, deli, potato pancakes, cheesecake, hot dogs from a street vendor, and something decidedly foreign.

First to check off of the list was pizza. We went into three places until we found people speaking Italian, then ordered. Crispy, cheesy, perfect!

We wandered around Times Square for awhile, because, let's face it, it's pretty awe inspiring. Like a shrine to over indulgence and neon.

Then it was time for Madame Toussads' wax museum. Too cool. The Wonder Twins were a little bummed that the Justin Bieber figure wasn't quite ready yet, but there was still a ton to see. It was a major awakening about how little my kids know about pop culture (thank goodness). I had to explain who over 3/4ths of the folks were. :-)


We shopped and people watched and gawked just like the tourists we were. It was fabulous. One of the big highlights of the trip was being able to swim indoors, since we're bad ready for it to be summer in Alabama. I miss the sun and the pool! That was a little side treat. We ate at the Carnegie Deli, which was an experience in and of itself. Unlike here, were you get a whole table to yourself, they just keep filling the table up with people. So, we ended up eating with four people at our table who weren't "with" us. That freaked the girls out. Then went back to the hotel by 8:00 to swim and relax for our next big day.

Day two: we got up early and headed to Ellis Island on the Circle Line Ferry. We also go to go by the Statue of Liberty. We opted not to get out. I didn't want to hear the complaining up 208 stairs, plus the place was packed. So, we cruised on by and got out at the museum. The girls were not impressed. Evidently, a three-story building full of M&Ms was enough of a testimony to freedom and living the American Dream. Who needs dusty luggage and passenger logs?

After Ellis Island, we went shopping again (because we have our priorities in complete order). We went to The American Girl store, Aeropostle, and China Town. This was the biggest culture shock of the trip. We got out of the subway at Canal Street and were for several minutes the only white Americans in sight. All of the signs are in Chinese, unidentifiable foods are everywhere, and the smell is overwhelming. We were there to buy chopsticks, slippers, umbrellas, and of course, knock-off purses. Since the garbage is brought out the front of the buildings for hauling away, the girls were convinced we were in one big back alley. Someone asked if I felt even remotely guilty about "robbing" from Louis Vuitton when I bought me and Elise purses. Um, no, since I'm not stupid enough to pay what Louis wants for a real purse in the first place. It's money he never would have had either way. Hard to feel guilty about that.

Subway ride

After China Town, it was time to go back to the hotel and clean up for the first of two Broadway shows. We had tickets for Wicked, so we ate at Friday's (excuse me, I know it's a chain, but E-1 informed me that it was our only chance to eat at the "world's largest Friday's" so we HAD to eat there.) :-) This was actually a really enjoyable dining experience with lots of laughing and joking and being generally goofy. (Johnsons)

The girls and I ADORED Wicked. I've seen it before, but it's just so clever. Highly recommend. Here we are under the sign holding our goody bag from the show. Everyone had to have t-shirts. Naturally. After Wicked, we caught a cab to the Empire State Building at 11:00 p.m. I wanted the girls to have something special at night--our towns shut down at 9:00 p.m., so I wanted them to have the experience of going and doing at this odd time of night. Every night we ate dessert after our adventure to talk about what we saw and did and discuss what we would want to show The Little Flower and The Number One Son if they had the opportunity to come next time. Dessert at Lindy's:

Day three: we woke up early and headed to the Museum of Natural History (see previous posts). You know what happened there. After that deal, we ate a hot dog on the street (a highlight of the trip for the girls). This cracked me up, but think it over--you can't buy food on the street in Jemison. Well, except for boiled peanuts and watermelons. Not exactly the same.

They girls declared this the best meal of the trip. ha! Think of the money I could have saved! We traveled on the subway again to Rockefeller Center and up to the Top of the Rock. Since we did the view from the Empire State Building at night, I wanted one amazing view during the day. We are up on the viewing deck and I'm pointing out buildings and giving this running account about what we are looking at when Elise asks, "So, where is the Eifle Tower?" Um, Paris? Ha!

We ate dinner that night in the middle of Times Square at the Roxy Diner. Neat building and good food. I ordered a Reuben, one of the twins stuck with the foot long hotdog and the Fashionista ordered a Cobb salad the size of her entire midsection.

After supper, we went to see The Addams' Family. Really cute. A little unnecessary language, but cute. The girls laughed and laughed. After this show, we got frozen yogurt on the street at midnight. (Vacation tradition in Johnsonville.)

What a lovely trip. I am so thankful that I was able to take my girls to do something that they will remember for the rest of their lives! I hope we have the opportunity to travel and go and enjoy this amazing creation together! I can't wait for everyone to get old enough for our next big adventure: a family mission trip! The Little Flower has to mature just a little more for that program. Or maybe I have to mature a little more for that program.

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the Beginning...

I took the Wonder Twins to New York City for four days and three nights on a girls trip sort of a deal. Some fun!  I'm sure that I have tons to blog about from the trip, but I want to focus on the most profound moment of my trip. 

We went to the American Museum of Natural History.

Really amazing place. Life-sized dinosaurs (or a good guesstimate of what some really imaginative folks think they might have looked like anyway). Dioramas full of African wildlife and Asian peoples. It was really interesting. (I especially liked the 12 huge living-room-sized sections on Muslims that discussed how much they love peace (while subjecting their women to unspeakable hardships and cruelties). It was really something compared to that one walk-in-closet-sized area on Christianity that mostly included things like the Crusades. Really good stuff.)

(You can probably see where this whole post is going now.)

To really get the flavor of this post, you have to understand that as evangelical Christians, I believe in a literal creation. God literally spoke the world into creation. Whatever science wants to call that process--dark matter and fusion, stars--whatever label you want to give it, God still did it from beginning to ending.

Genesis 1:1-5 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day."

That sums it up the beginning nicely. Now, we can discuss whether a "day" is a year or a thousand or a billion, but it's just conversation since the most important part is the portion where God CREATED. Scientists believe it started with Dark Matter, but they have no idea what was before Dark Matter. Huh. I know something more than all of those brainiacs, and I'm a gonna share it wit youse guys.

JOHN 1: 1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

They have this techological wonder in the musuem--a big globe thingy that depicts some of the very things that the Bible says He did. They said that the Earth was covered by water and then the land rose up right there in living color while showing it on a globe-shaped tv screen. Well, I'll be dogged!

Genesis 1:6-10 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”  So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.  And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.  God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good."

Okay, so fast forward to the section of the Museum of Natural History where they have this amazing planetarium program in, get this, The Big Bang Theater. First, sounds filthy. Second, smells like propaganda. But it's supposed to be a Big Whoop, so we discuss it for a second or two and go in to see what the World is teaching on the creation of the universe. I tell the girls that after the show we'll sit and have a snack and discuss what they are going to teach us about the origins of life and how it matches up with The Word. (Everything in my universe has to be put up against the measuring stick of God's Word to see if it's truth or not. Everything.)

The show starts. Whoopie Goldberg is narrating. (That really explains everything, and I could stop this post right there.) The basic idea they are promoting is that Dark Matter pulled stuff into itself and the sun is in charge of everything in our solar system. According to the program, the sun made the solar system. Doesn't exactly match up with my account...

Genesis 1: 14-19 "And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth,  to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day."

Whoopie went on to tell the small children in the audience that a billion gazillion years from now the sun will supernova and we'll all die, but it won't matter by then because, and I quote, "We will have evolved or left the planet by then." Now, they actually got that part right, which might have been the only accurate thing in the entire show, because we will all be "evolved" or rather "changed" by then for sure. We won't be on the old Earth anymore at any rate.

So, all during this 20 minute really impressive program with lights and stuff blowing up and space, Elise and Elaina, who are on either side of me keep poking me and stage whispering, "But, Mom, they are forgetting stuff. But, Mom, where's the part about God? But Mom, why are they saying that the sun made us?" You get the idea. At the very end of the show, the lights came up and Elaina says in a really loud voice. "Hey! Wait one minute! That can't be the end. They didn't even tell about how God made everything yet." (To say I was proud is a gross understatement.)

At the end of the movie, we were dumped out of the theater into the dinosaur part of the museum.

Elise turned to me and said, "Well, they got that part completely wrong." Then she stopped dead still, looked all around taking in the "dinosaur bones" and "rock layers", eyes getting wider and wider, and she said in this completely incredulous, really loud stage whisper, "I wonder how much of the rest of this stuff is a fake too. This is a complete FAKE OUT! I bet this whole museum is just made up stuff!"


I quote Randy Alcorn from Lord Foulgrin's Letters, "Look at these scientists who stare into deep space through their instruments and deny what they gaze upon was created. These same fools would think a man insane if he pointed to a painting of a waterfall or a flower and said, 'No one actually painted that--the globs of paint that have always existed formed themesleves on the canvas over milions of years.'"

But that's exactly what happened in that planetarium. Did I mention that there was a two-hour wait for our show? And that thousands and thousands of people were in the museum?

Alcorn: "They teach their children they're the accidental products of time, chance, and natural forces, formed in some primordial soup, different only in degree--not in kind--from trees, tunas, and porcupines. Then--you have to love it--these same adults ask with a straight face why these children don't respect human life, their own or others'.  They type the recipe and lay the ingredients on the counter and they marvel when their children make the cake and eat it."

As I spoke to my daughters about what God's Word teaches us and what that musuem was selling as truth and the enormous gulf between the two, all I could think was, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." How many people are going to die and go to Hell because no one stood up and said this is a complete fake out?

So, here we go. At least now you can't say no one ever told you:

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
We all have sin in our hearts. We all were born with sin. We were born under the power of sin's control.
- Admit that you are a sinner.

Romans 6:23a "...The wages of sin is death..."
Sin has an ending. It results in death. We all face physical death, which is a result of sin. But a worse death is spiritual death that alienates us from God, and will last for all eternity. The Bible teaches that there is a place called the Lake of Fire where lost people (those who have never accepted Jesus as Savior) will be in torment forever. It is the place where people who are spiritually dead will remain.
- Understand that you deserve death for your sin.

Romans 6:23b "...But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Salvation is a free gift from God to you! You can't earn this gift, but you must reach out and receive it.
- Ask God to forgive you and save you.

Romans 5:8, "God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!"
When Jesus died on the cross He paid sin's penalty. He paid the price for all sin, and when He took all the sins of the world on Himself on the cross, He bought us out of slavery to sin and death! The only condition is that we believe in Him and what He has done for us, understanding that we are now joined with Him, and that He is our life. He did all this because He loved us and gave Himself for us!

-Give your life to God... His love poured out in Jesus on the cross is your only hope to have forgiveness and change. His love bought you out of being a slave to sin. His love is what saves you -- not religion, or church membership. God loves you!

Romans 10:13 "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved!"
- Call out to God in the name of Jesus!

Romans 10:9,10 "...If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

- If you know that God is knocking on your heart's door, ask Him to come into your heart.

Jesus said, Revelation 3:20a "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him..."
- Is Jesus knocking on your heart's door?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.