Schoolhouse Rock, Godwinks & Faith

At StarGift we often suggest seeking God as a first step to growing faith.  From time to time someone asks “How do I start seeking God?”  And so we make suggestions for getting started, many different suggestions, because we are all different and what is right for one, what enables one to open their heart may be different from what inspires another to do so.

We are not theologians. We are no experts. We are people who have sought God and found great joy in doing so. That is our only credential!

In this article, we’d like to share a new guide to seeking God.

How many of you remember “Schoolhouse Rock!” 

Image of big block words “School House Rock” adjacent to the superhero cartoon character from the ABC television series of the 1970s.

Yes, it was that educational series on ABC television in the 1970s. You can learn more about SchoolHouse Rock at this slideshow. Or you can check out the wikipedia article cited below:

Schoolhouse Rock! is an American interstitial programming series of animated musical educational short films (and later, videos) that aired during the Saturday morning children’s programming block on the U.S. television network ABC. The topics covered included grammarscienceeconomicshistorymathematics, and civics. The series’ original run lasted from 1973 to 1985; it was later revived with both old and new episodes airing from 1993 to 1999. Additional episodes were produced in 2002 and 2009 for direct-to-video release.”

Wickipedia

The man that brought us Schoolhouse Rock, the television executive “who led Good Morning America to first place for the first time,” is Squire Rushnell.  Today, Rushnell is an author and inspirational speaker.  Read about him at this Wikipedia article.

Rushnell also created the expression ‘Godwink’ to explain well, the otherwise unexplainable.  He has written several books, some on the New York Times bestseller list. 

In this article we’d like to share some thoughts about and from “Divine Alignment: How GodWink Moments Guide Your Journey,” by Squire Rushnell.

One of the ideas we find interesting and helpful for the novice beginning to seek God is the comparison of God, whom Rushnell calls “The Navigator,” to a GPS Navigation system.  This navigation system supports Divine Alignment: “the arrangement of coincidences into a pattern of alignment so astonishing they could have come only from a higher source.” It is the communication with this navigator that enables us to tap into Divine Alignment, and recognize the guidance to make decisions that advance our lives according to the divine plan for our lives. It will teach you how to talk with God, how to get to know Him, how to engage in relationship with Him.

“Each of us is born with a built-in GPS.  God’s Positioning System.”

“Right from birth, we come equipped with a highly sophisticated navigational package that—through an internal voice of intuition and godwinks—divinely aligns us with people, as well as events, who assist us in reaching our destiny and keep us from losing our way.”

Digest that for a moment.  Think about your life experiences.  Do you have an inner voice that makes suggestions?  Do you recognize moments when you experience ‘intuition?’  It’s kind of like magic isn’t it?  Have you ever had an experience that was so coincidental as to make you wonder how it could be?  Do you have a conscience that keeps you from doing things that you ‘know’ intuitively are wrong?  Do you have a conscience that makes you uncomfortable with any choice to ignore?   Do you have a conscience that encourages you to put someone else before your own needs or desires? 

If so, you can confirm this idea of an internal navigation system based on your own experience.  I know I can.

There are many books and movies out today that show a theme of inter-connectedness.  One of the first that really grabbed my attention was “Where the Heart Is” a novel by Billie Letts published in 1995.  What a magical story of real people encountering one another, sharing something unexpected, helping one another, changing lives even as their own life was changed.  As I read it, I thought, this author has captured the mystery of the universe.  And that led me to read her subsequent books, all magical in their own right.

And it made me realize that I was not alone in feeling, being aware of, this inter-connectedness between people and events. 

Have you noticed this in your own life?  Have you noticed that some people come into your life, sometimes for very short times, and you have the opportunity to gladly help them?  Have you noticed afterwards that you came away changed to the better for the experience?  Perhaps you learned something new, maybe about yourself, maybe about people in general.  Have you noticed that when you are worried or frustrated or in a dark place, how often someone encounters you and shares something that is helpful to you?  Do you realize in the aftermath that they also got something from you?  Have you noticed?

Well, Rushnell, in talking about Divine Alignment is talking about such experiences; those which seem so serendipitous; those that are life-changing.  His point is, that is the navigator guiding you through your GPS.  He is quick to point out that you are not just a passenger. “Your hands are on the steering wheel most of the way.  And one of the gifts you are given, factory installed, is free will.”

“You’re free to go too fast or too slow.  To be reckless or responsible.  Or even free to drive off the highway altogether, if that’s what you choose.”

Once he has developed this metaphor for guidance from God, Bushnell turns to how one can communicate with the navigator.

OK, stop and think about that.  How do you imagine people communicate with God?  That’s right; through prayer!  Have you ever prayed?  Are you put off by the idea?  Do you feel you can’t because you don’t really know how?

Ah, well, you are not alone.  But prayer is not complicated and does not need to be poetic, and it certainly doesn’t need to be in an Aramaic language or Latin or Greek.  It doesn’t even have to be out loud. 

The point is, prayer is just having a chat with God.  Imagine that God is your best friend, or your dearly loved parent and you want to share with them and get their advice.  Just talk with God.  Inside your head if that is more comfortable for you.  That is where you start when you seek to know God, just as you would with anyone with whom you hope to grow a relationship.

Rushnell not only provides metaphors that may help you make a connection in your own mind to the presence of God in your life but his books are also filled with accounts of other people, some famous, that testify to the godwinks in their lives.  And that helps you to feel that this is real.  It’s not just you. For one example he tells of a scientist, an aetheist who was challenged whether scientists made decisions without first examining all of the data.  That led to a transformation in his belief.

I don’t want to replicate those stories, so instead, I’d like to share just one story of godwinks in my life.

I was raised Presbyterian because my father was Presbyterian, the grandson of a Presbyterian minister.  My brothers and I attended Sunday school, and as teens were active in our Jr. and then Sr. youth groups.  My mother had been raised Russian Orthodox but she told me she was agnostic.  She just didn’t know about God. 

By my late teens I was allowing doubt to grow in my mind.  I mean that quite literally.  We all have doubt from time to time but we can focus on those things that have brought us to faith. . .rather than let the doubt grow.  But I was willfully letting it grow, unchecked.

I went off to college where I was exposed to so many different philosophies. . .and one of these I will call ‘Intelligence Philosophy.’  The idea here is that people of intelligence do not believe in God, only the naïve do; those who can’t reason out the whys and wherefore of everything.  There is no ‘science’ to support the notion of God. Intelligent people are too smart to succumb to such silliness!  I thought I was intelligent, at least reasonably so.  I was interested in philosophy and bought into the line of thinking.  Hmmmmm.  I was letting doubt grow unchecked because I thought I was ‘smart;’ smarter than those who so foolishly believed in what they could not see.

Even so, there was always a little nagging voice. . .questioning my doubt.  So here I have doubt questioning faith, and a little voice questioning doubt.  But, I did not listen to that little voice.  Instead I began to reason that Jesus was a fictional character in a book much like Aesop’s Fables with lots of stories that supposedly provide a moral lesson. . .or something like that.  With that thinking, any truth of the Bible was just some wisdom expressed by some people who wrote these stories.  Not that they didn’t have moral import but. . .they are not the word of God.  Well, that’s what I chose to believe. . .at the time.

As my life progressed, I married and had children all of which was wonderful, and had a career as an educator [think about that!] But I also experienced problems. There were certainly downs with the ups as is the case with all of us!  There was tension and anger in my home and I had a couple of adolescent children who ran out of control periodically. They were flirting with danger and acting out, although I did not see it clearly at the time. Where did my beautiful loving children go? No matter how hard I tried to figure out how to help ground them, I failed. 

I left their Dad and eventually there was a divorce.  I was fortunate to change careers and I spent most of my time working, trying to keep work away from home and home away from work, and trying to glue our lives back together and get my children on track and in a good place. As smart as I evidently thought I was, I continuously failed. Hold that thought for a moment. I’ll get back to it.

Now, I love to read.  And I love even more walking through library shelves and books stores, looking at titles, reading first pages, and finally selecting a book to bring home. . .or not.  So one day I was walking through a bookstore in a local mall.  I picked up several books, one at a time, looked them over. . .and put them back on the shelf.  Choosing the book you really want to read can be challenging!  Sometimes you bring home a book and it holds you riveted every second of the reading.  At other times, the book falls far short of being ‘the right book.’ 

As I wondered through the store I sspotted a book titled: Archaeology and the Bible [or something close to that].  “What!” I thought.  “I love archaeology!  But what on earth can they mean by Archaeology and the Bible? The Bible is fiction!”  I picked up the book and looked it over.  No doubt I read some of the statements about the book.  I likely opened to the first page and started to read.  And then I slid that book back into it’s place on the shelf, and continued on down the aisle; maybe 4 or 5 steps.  Then I backed up and pulled the book from the shelf again.  Could this be the book for me today?  I went through the process again, of looking it over. . .and then put it back on the shelf.  I’m sure I was thinking about spending the $8.00 or so it must have cost and wondering if I would be pleased with the purchase.  I again continued down the aisle.  I made it a little further and felt, I’ve got to get that book.  So back I went, and again looked it over.  And again I put it back. 

I’ll bet I went through that cycle about 6 times.  Finally, I thought to myself, ”this is getting ridiculous.  Apparently I am supposed to get this book”. . .or maybe it was “apparently this book wants to go home with me!” So, I did buy that book

I loved it.  It was fascinating and it opened my eyes to the ‘history’ of the Bible. You see it was about archaeological finds that demonstrate the historical truth of many events documented in the Bible.  That was kind of earth shattering for someone who had convinced themselves that the Bible was a work of fiction.  The Bible is a historical account.  And if that is true, what of the ‘characters’ in the Bible?  Was Jesus really a man who lived and not just a fictional character?  My perspective shifted.

That was just the first godwink.  There have been many more. . .but that is the one that started me thinking about the philosophy of ‘intelligence’ and how flawed it may be.  It started me thinking about how I had pushed Jesus out of the way.  It made me curious about Him.  And that led eventually to the quite accidental discovery of another book, from what I thought was an unlikely source, a very thin book, called “The Life and Times of Jesus” I think.  But, that’s another godwink story.

Now getting back to the issues with my children and how to bring them safely back on track: I will tell you that the godwinks eventually led me to trust in God and turn to Him for guidance for myself and for my children; I prayed that He would open their eyes. And that made all the difference! If you muster the spark of faith that reside within you, and turn to God, your faith will be rewarded; and it will grow.

If you are serious about wanting to get to know God, perhaps because you have an inner voice nagging at you, or because you know what it means and want to have that relationship, we’d like to encourage you to pick up a copy of “Divine Alignment: How GodWink Moments Guide Your Journey,” by Squire Rushnell and learn more about getting started. Or pick up any book by Squire Rushnell that references godwinks.

Oh, buying books is not in your budget?  Well, stop by a public library and get a card. They are free and renting books is free if you return them on time.  The library may even have books on tape if you’d rather listen than read yourself. 

Don’t be intimidated. Go for it.  God will welcome you. He, the navigator, is waiting for your question.

Hahn

StarGift Project Newsletter #28 – Donations of children’s books for Prison Ministry: Mom and Me Camp!

This is an appeal for donations for our current special project to get children’s books that teach about relationship with God through Jesus to the children attending Mom and Me Camp in late July.   Watch the short video below to learn about this project, or continue reading below the image. 

Image of a young girl with a flower and the words: "Faith is a gift that Grows as we use it"

These children have Mothers who are incarcerated in Logan County and Decatur Correctional Centers.  The children live all over the state and don’t often get to spend time with their Mothers.

The Prison Ministry, runs a camp each year for children 7 -12 for 3 days.  The children attend the camp at Lake Bloomington and each day are transported to spend time with their Mothers in organized activities.  Each evening they return to the camp for swimming and other traditional camp activities.

This year, StarGift Project is donating copies of our first book, “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” to be given to each child to read with their Mother during a quiet time.  We are also providing a copy of our second book, a story-coloring book for the children who are 12 and in their last year of attending the camp.

Please make a donation via our web site to help make these books available.

Plant tiny mustard seeds of faith and encourage children who are dealing with issues children should not have to confront.

Thank you!

StarGift Project News #27 – Merry Christmas to All!

As Christmas draws near, it is once again time to share our video reading of:

“The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There”

This is our Christmas gift to you, your friends, and all with whom you will gather to celebrate Christmas this year.  Click on the image!  Young people at your gathering will love this story of a little star who could not glow, and even better, they will learn what the Christmas celebration really means.  And adults will be reminded that we celebrate the greatest gift of all, the birth of Jesus.  Please play it for guests at your family gathering!  You can project it. . .or run it through a T.V.  Take just a few minutes to remember the meaning of Christmas.

Please help us to spread His messages of love and faithfulness.  Use this link to make a donation today!

May you all have a wonderful Christmas and may 2018 bring great joy throughout the year!

StarGift Project News! # 26

Can you Help?

Do you feel young people should have the opportunity to learn about relationship with God?

Image of a young girl with a flower and the words: "Faith is a gift that Grows as we use it"

Are you concerned that the trend away from participation in a church leaves young people without this knowledge?

If children are not taught that God loves them and wants relationship with them, how will they know they can turn to Him when they feel they have nowhere else to turn?

Hi.  This newsletter is provided to share information about the progress of StarGift Project Inc.,  our Children’s Ministry to engage youth with new fun and creative materials as we teach about relationship with God.

Our mission is: “To inspire faith in youth and their families through the creative arts.”  We are nondenominational and primarily focus on growing ‘Faith’ in a loving God and developing a relationship with Him.

[If you wish to learn more about StarGift Project Inc. please read this document containing our articles of incorporation:  StarGift – Article 4 and 5 Illinois file for non-profit corp  ]

What do you believe?  If you believe young people should have the opportunity to learn about relationship with God so that they can make decisions about their own faith and spiritual life, then. . .we have opportunities for you in our mission.

Right now, we have a need to grow our Board of Directors with volunteers who would like to help us succeed in reaching out to children, in fun creative ways, to share with knowledge of relationship with God and Jesus.  Read our description below under the topic below “Board of Directors!”

Please Volunteer to help by contacting Pam at: starcenter1@stargiftproject.org or calling or texting me at 309-310-6934.

Board of Directors! 

This is so important to us.  StarGift is seeking to expand our Board of Directors from 5 to about 10 people so we can spread out and cover more of central Il. and begin reaching out to other states.

StarGift Project is non-denominational.  The only established requirement to qualify as a candidate for our Board of Directors is that you are a follower of Jesus Christ and recognize Him as Messiah and Savior.

The most important criteria for our Board of Directors at this time is people who enjoy networking, making new friends, and who may even have an existing network that they can utilize to help build awareness of StarGift.  We also seek those who feel comfortable talking to people from different churches seeking to engage them as StarGift Partners as well.

Does this sound like you?  If you might be interested in participating on the Board of Directors of this children’s ministry, we’d like you to provide us with your contact information so that we can invite you to a Get-to-Know-Us event so that you can learn about us and decide if this is a mission that touches your heart.

You may provide your contact information again by emailing starcenter1@stargiftproject.org or by contacting Pam at 309-310-6934 if you prefer to chat.

To learn more about our need for Directors and other volunteers, please feel free to review this document:  Board of Directors and Volunteers.

About our Approach

Perhaps you have not read previous newsletters and are not quite sure what StarGift Project Inc. actually does.  Well. . .

  1. We create new engaging stories that teach young people about faith, God and Jesus.  You can preview our first two stories by watching these video readings.  Please feel free to share them with friends, and to play them for young people at your holiday gatherings.

The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There

Jesus is My BFF!  

2.  We participate in community events, and even host some events for families, and distribute our materials to children [with parental permission] at no charge to them.  For example, last year we handed out between 400-600 copies of The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There at the Bloomington-Normal Jaycees Christmas Parade.  We had a lot of fun!The fun ended too soon! On our way back to cars.

3.  We do fundraisers to enable us to distribute our materials.  We market these books at events and online to the community that supports our work, for a donation!  You can make a donation or purchase books here!

And we try to engage churches and other non-profits, especially those that serve children, to help in our fundraising. . .sharing the donation equally with them.  Visit About Us to learn more.

 

 

StarGift Project News #24 “It’s here!”

It’s here!  It’s here!  It’s finally here!  And just in time for Easter!  Read below the image to learn about “Jesus is My BFF!”

Image of two young children sitting in the grass with large rabbit ears. This image is overlapped by an image of the cover of the book "Jesus is My BFF!." The text states: Fill Their Baskets with something good to read!

We had begun to think it would never be ready for shipping.  “Jesus is My BFF!” is a sequel to “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There.”  In this new story, children will learn how Star and the young child Jesus become Best Friends Forever.  And they will learn how Star learned to speak with Jesus,without say a word, how Jesus is learning so much from His Father in Heaven, and how the Star gets a new mission to learn from Jesus and to teach the children.  Wow!  What a fun story.  And, it’s full of lessons about relationship with God.

This is a book with a wonderful story. . .and it is a coloring book.  We hope the activity will help the children think more about the story.

And there is plenty for Parents and Guardians too.  StarGift Project has place ‘guidance’ online so you may help your children grow in understanding.  And just for fun, we also put online a set of mini-art lessons so you can teach your child some simple drawing and design concepts!

Each book is available for a $10.00 donation and each time you buy a book for a child you love, you help StarGift to get a book to another child, who may not otherwise learn about relationship with God.  You are helping to plant tiny seeds of faith.

You can have books shipped to you for delivery.  Or you can choose to have StarGift or one of our nonprofit partners deliver books to kids.  If you choose a partner, we share the portion of the donation that is profit with them.  So help your favorite organization on our list!

Order several now, so they will arrive just in time for Easter!

Order Here!

 

StarGift Project News #23

  1. Want to catch a reading/book signing of The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There? The author will be at St. Matthews Episcopal church on Dec. 11 at 6:00 P.M. in Fellowship Hall to share this story with families with young children.  Make this your family advent event!  And invite friends with young children to join you.  Facebook event invitation
  2. The Author, Hahn, will also do a reading and distribution to children living at Home Sweet Home Mission this holiday season.  Share your faith with young people through a donation  . . .or volunteer to help by contacting us at starcenter1@stargiftproject.org  This is a fun organization!
  3. News!  We have finally completed our second book.

We have finally published our second book called “Jesus is My BFF.”  In this story we learn how star and the toddler Jesus became Best Friends Forever!

 

Subsequent books will teach about Jesus growing up and his relationship with star.  What adventures they will have!  And each book will contain a story within the story. . .a story from the Bible, within the story about Jesus and Star.  Jesus is My BFF is the first book actually published by StarGift Project Inc.

This book is unique.  It is a story-coloring book.  Some pages have very simple line illustrations, while others are more detailed.  And this book has an interactive element.  You may go online to our web site and select ‘Enrichment’, then select the book by name, and you will be taken to a page with: 1.) guidance for parents and guardians and 2.) mini art lessons.  These enrichment features apply to each page, with a few exceptions.

As if that’s not enough fun, if your children are especially proud of some of their coloring, you can email us a .jpg of their work, and we will post it online, on our web site for a period of time.  We may even include it in some Facebook posts!  You’ll find instructions on page iii.

The message of love in The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There is an appropriate message any day of the year, but since it is a story of the birth of Jesus and the star of Bethlehem, most people want it at Christmas.  However, Jesus is My BFF. . .has no ties to any specific time of the year.

The book will be available from our web site later this month [December], so look for it. . .and donate to StarGift at the Donate Books button.  If you want to distribute these books yourself, choose  the option to have them sent to you.

Do you love to write?  Would you like to try your hand at writing for children?  We can provide a pattern and if you produce a story that fits our model, we can help you to publish with agreement that we can market copies for donation as part of our fundraising and mission to distribute messages of faith to children.

  1. Wow!  What fun we had at the Bloomington-Normal JayCees Christmas Parade. 

We gave out between 400 and 500 copies of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” to families with young children!

The mission of StarGift Project is to inspire faith in youth, and their  families, through the creative arts.

 

Book Jacket for The Star Who Almost Wasn't There.The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There is a story of a tiny star who could not glow, and how, on the very first Christmas, he became the Star of Bethlehem.  It teaches children that God loves us, that He provides us with gifts, and that we may use these gifts to help others and honor Him.  What a wonderful positive message for young people.

We believe it is important to introduce children to these concepts even if they are not attending any church, temple or mosque, even if their parents are not interested or cannot bring themselves to believe.  We believe it is important because all of us, at some point in our life, have struggles and turning to faith is an option to find comfort and guidance.  It is a choice, to seek.  But how can one make that choice, one way or the other, if they know nothing of it?

When you purchase copies of the book, or donate to StarGift Project Inc.  you help us to create new materials, get them published and distributed via the work of other ministries that reach out to children.

Here are a few more pics from the parade event!

Young people who handed out books at the parade, in front of the StarGift truck.

 

One young helper handing books to parade watchers

 

 

The author, Hahn, with one young child dressed up as if she stepped right out of Dr. Zhivago

 

A young StarGift helper passing out candy!

 

 

 

Another young helper handing out books

Every now and then, you need a break!

 

 

 

We hiked a little over 2 miles. . .and even had a 3 year-old along for the fun

The fun ended too soon! On our way back to cars.

 

 

 

We hope many more of you will join us next year!  We will seek out a parade in another town, maybe Peoria, to share ‘faith’ with children.

If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity, please email us at starcenter1@stargiftproject.org

 

 

 

StarGift Project News #22

StarGiftLogo5Christmas is on it’s way.  It’s time to get busy. . .and you can help!  

  1. We are excited that StarGift Project Inc. will be participating in the Bloomington-Normal Christmas Parade!  We will have a decorated pick-up truck with books in the back, and we’ll be walking the parade route, handing out copies of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” to families with young children along the way. [I hope we have enough!]

capture
Please log on to our web site www.stargiftproject.org and donate to help get this story of the First Christmas to children as we begin to teach them about God and grow faith!

We will gather at 9:00 AM at Kingsley Jr. High in Normal.  Let us know if you’d like to walk with StarGift Project Inc. and help pass out books!  You can even promote your church or nonprofit organization.   Contact Pam at starcenter1@stargiftproject.org

2) In early September and October we mailed out letters to directors of early Christian education at 185 churches in and around Bloomington-Normal offering to do a reading/book signing for children and their parents!

Our story of the first Christmas, “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” delights young children and is a magical reminder of why we celebrate Christmas.

You can preview a video reading of the story here!

Each reading is followed with 5-10 minutes explaining the objectives of StarGift Project Org to parents.  They may then choose to purchase copies for a $10.00 donation, and distribute them to children themselves or possibly to donate books to be distributed by one of our partner organizations. We will work with your church to get books to families who cannot afford the donation.

Your church can become a StarGift Partner and earn 50% of these donations, above the cost to produce each book, to support your own ministries.

Make a call today, and encourage your director of early Christian education to invite us in.

Help us to spread message of God’s great love to young people everywhere.