Friday, April 27, 2012

My Thoughts On "The Voice" - A New Bible Translation

Back in February, I won a New Testament copy of "The Voice," a new translation of the Bible published by Thomas Nelson, and I've been reading various portions of it between then and now.

The official website of The Voice says this is a "translation that reads like a story with all of the truth and wisdom of God's Word. Through compelling narratives, poetry, and teaching it invites readers to enter into the whole story of God with their heart, soul, and mind. This bold new translation engages readers like no other Bible." And, the Translation Team consists of a large group of men and women who are Pastors, Professors, Lawyers, and Writers. So, it is not just one or two people participating in this project, but many.

So, what do I think about it? The wording is definitely more easy to understand, and it was interesting to read God's Word using language that was meant more for today. However, I'm not too sure I would recommend it to a new Christian, or to someone who doesn't already have a good grasp on the content in the Bible. In my opinion, caution is warranted because this new translation seems to change the meaning of some of the passages into something that was not originally intended. For example, read how Luke 12:15-20 is written:
Jesus:  You'd better be on your guard against any type of greed, for a person's life is not about having a lot of possessions. (then, beginning another parable) A wealthy man owned some land that produced a huge harvest. He often thought to himself, "I have a problem here. I don't have anywhere to store all my crops. What should I do? I know! I'll tear down my small barns and build even bigger ones, and then I'll have plenty of storage space for my grain and all my other goods. Then I'll be able to say to myself, 'I have it made! I can relax and take it easy for years! So I'll just sit back, eat, drink, and have a good time!' Then God interrupted the man's conversation with himself. "Excuse Me, Mr. Brilliant, but your time has come. Tonight you will die. Now who will enjoy everything you've earned and saved?"
What's wrong with this, you might ask? Well, there's nothing particularly wrong with it, except for the fact that the meaning is somewhat changed. In the major translations (NAS, KJV, NKJV, NIV) verse 20, which is highlighted above, uses the words "You fool!" to describe the man's ignorant actions and his egotistic way of thinking. Somehow, the thought of God saying, "Excuse Me, Mr. Brilliant" (which sounds like sarcasm to me) just doesn't convey the same idea. God wasn't intending to be sarcastic in this passage. He was strongly rebuking the man for his selfish and greedy actions. Maybe, to some, this change isn't a big deal. But, it just leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable with leaving it in the hands of a new Christian.

As for the format, I liked how this translation was written in a play script format. It helped to show exactly who was speaking in different events. But, one thing missing in the format was a title or description at the beginning of each chapter. It was difficult to find specific chapters I was looking for because it was written like a play and not like a Bible. Some may like the format but, for my organized way of thinking, it made things more difficult.

That said, I wouldn't throw this Bible out the window. I understand the idea of this new translation, and applaud their efforts in wanting to make a Bible that is worded in today's language. It could be good to use alongside another translation, or possibly for doing a narrative in front of people. It just wouldn't be my first choice for a Bible to study with, or to read on its own - at least not without first knowing what other translations say as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Paws & Tales "Being Kind and Caring" DVD Review

The 8th DVD in Chuck Swindoll’s “Paws & Tales” series for kids will be released in May 2012. "Being Kind and Caring" is the second Paws & Tales DVD my children and I have watched together, thanks to  Tyndale House Publishers who provided me with a complimentary copy of this DVD for review purposes.

Paws & Tales videos include animated stories that teach godly traits and biblical truths to children. This new DVD is based on Ephesians 4:32 and Philippians 2:3-4. It includes 2 episodes that teach the importance of forgiveness, being tender-hearted towards others, and cooperation. Pastor Swindoll, the Founder of Insight for Living, introduces each story.

My children and I enjoyed watching these stories. They were colorful, entertaining, humorous at times, and taught valuable lessons. As with all the Paws & Tales DVD’s, I recommend parents/grandparents watch the stories WITH their children, at least for the first time. These stories can be helpful tools for bringing about discussion, and guiding children into proper Christian character. If you are not sure about how to begin the discussion, the bonus features on the DVD include helpful teaching resources for parents, grandparents and/or Christian educators to use. Just pop the DVD into your CD-Rom in order to access them.

This DVD, and other Paws & Tales DVD's, can be purchased through various locations, including Christian Book Distributors.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Article: Understanding Autism

The month of APRIL is Autism Awareness Month. As a family affected by autism, my husband and I have been involved in helping raise the awareness of this disorder, especially since the numbers have now increased to 1 in 88 being diagnosed.

First of all, we joined Autism Speaks in the "Light it Up Blue" campaign. We have been wearing blue clothes, wearing blue autism puzzle pieces, and using a blue lightbulb on our front porch each night. I also made a CAMPAIGN PAGE to share with those who wish to make a donation. I have already reached my goal of $50.00, however, you are still welcome to contribute if you desire to do so.

One of my daughter's therapists (Sarah) has been handling a lot of events and activities in our area to help increase awareness of autism. This past Thursday, my husband was with her and another parent, being interviewed on our local radio station. They will be on again next Thursday.

And, here is the article I wrote for autism awareness. It is scheduled to be in our local newspaper soon:

~ ~ ~

Understanding Autism
By: Victoria Stankus

When my 13-year-old daughter was born, I never considered the fact that she might be among the many diagnosed with autism. At that time, I believe the numbers were 1 in 250 being diagnosed, but I wasn’t too aware of what it all meant until my life was personally immersed in it. I quickly learned that autism is a spectrum disorder, which means the symptoms and characteristics of it can appear in various combinations, ranging from mild to severe. No two children are alike. I also learned the symptoms of autism can improve with various therapies and treatments, which is very good to know. Unfortunately, one thing I wish I hadn’t learned is that raising a child with autism also includes being exposed to merciless comments made about you or your child. The comments are not always intended to be hurtful, but they usually come from a lack of understanding about the disorder. With this in mind, many parents have learned to ignore the comments (even though they do hurt) and/or have made efforts to educate those who will listen. That is my purpose for writing this article – not to whine and complain about unfair treatment, but to increase the awareness and familiarity of autism, and to help give others a better understanding of those affected by it.

NOTE: Included in this article are actual comments spoken from people who were misinformed about autism. These quotes were specifically sent to me by other parents of autistic children from various online support groups. (You would be amazed at how many comments I received, so weeding them down to a few was difficult.) Permission was granted to publish the comments; however, identifying names have been removed in order to protect the privacy of each one involved.

Comments Regarding Discipline
Autism spectrum disorders are neurodevelopmental in nature, and it is difficult for affected children to understand the environment around them. They have barriers in their brains that make it difficult for them to adapt to their surroundings. This may include (but is not limited to) sensory dysfunction, self-stimulating behaviors, lack of social skills, lack of communication skills and compulsive tendencies. Many people confuse the behaviors that result from these issues as a lack of discipline, which is not always the case, and should never be automatically assumed. Here are a few comments along these lines:

1. Tina says: After my son had a tantrum in McDonald's, an elderly couple asked me if he was ok. I replied “He's fine, he has autism and sometimes...” and in mid-sentence, they interrupted me and said, "That's nothing a good swift kick in the butt wouldn't cure.”

2. Veronica had a very close relative tell her, "He is not autistic, he is just taking advantage of you, can't you see that? His problem is simple, he is just SPOILT, that's all.”

3. Lynn says: My daughter was “acting up” one day because we were away from home and in a different environment. She may have been hungry or tired, but just didn’t know how to tell me. I was having a hard time getting her to stay calm when my dad’s sister (who was visiting from out of state) asked, “Would she listen better to her grandpa?” implying that my daughter’s behavior was due to a discipline problem and she needed a firmer hand to make her behave.

Comments Regarding Special Diets
Many children who have been diagnosed with autism or sensory processing disorders have dramatically improved after being put on special diets, such as gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF). Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye. Casein is the protein found in milk products. Other diets, such as the Feingold Diet, include the removal of preservatives and artificial dyes. The limitations of these special diets are apparently confusing to many misinformed people. Some of the comments include:

1. Said to Laura - “Doesn't he starve?”

2. Said to Monica - "Maybe he won't talk because you won't give him the food he wants."

3. One mom shared that her son's school felt she was being abusive because her son was on a restrictive diet for autism. The school said it is unhealthy to deny a child fast food and candy like other kids get.

Comments Pertaining to Language Delays
Contrary to what some believe, the lack of speech in an autistic child does not mean the child is without intelligence. Children with autism do learn, and many can be successfully taught to function, when they are given appropriate therapies and treatment. Simply put, autism produces barriers in the brain which does not allow information to process correctly. A child with autism may actually understand what you say, but the barriers hinder the child from being able to respond appropriately. However, many autistic children can develop functional language and others can develop some type of communication skills, such as sign language or use of pictures. Those who are mildly affected by the disorder may exhibit only slight delays in language, but could have a greater lack in social skills. Therefore, he or she may not be able to initiate or maintain a proper conversation. Communication is often described as “talking at others” instead of with them. For example, they may continue to talk about a favorite subject without pausing, despite the attempts of others to interject comments.

1. Monica says: When strangers say “Hi” to my 4-year-old autistic son, I often tell them he cannot talk. Once, I got the comment, "Maybe he just doesn't have anything to say.” One lady actually said, "What did you do to the poor child?"

2. Said to Debi - "She can't be autistic. She's too smart."

3. Said to Laura - “Well, what did you expect. You let him point to an object to get his way - you should have made him talk.”

Comments Regarding Odd Behaviors
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 88 children in the United States are now being diagnosed with autism (numbers published March 2012). With the way autism has increased in numbers in the last 10 years, I believe in the importance of making others aware of it. It is now considered an “epidemic.” Chances are, if a family member does not have autism, you will at least eventually run into someone who does. So, when that happens, please remember there is probably a reason why this child is “acting out” in some odd way. With sensory issues, compulsive tendencies, and lack of communication skills, these children are doing the best they can with whatever situation they are in. The parents, likewise, are doing the best they can to keep their child calm, happy, and secure in his world. Instead of making unnecessary comments, be kind and courteous. A simple smile or a pat on the arm can be more encouraging than you realize.

1. Laurel’s son refused to eat meat of any kind due to oral-sensory issues. Someone said to her, “Can't you just reason with him?"

2. Veronica’s son was 3 years old and attending his cousin's christening. Veronica says: He was enjoying the church's different space and trotting back and forth on the sides of the church. Not being noisy, just not sitting down. A staff member of the church came and asked me to control him. I said, “I can't, he's autistic, he is going to scream if I stop him.” (He would have). She told me to wait outside. This was the second time we had been kicked out of a church for family events.

For more information about autism, please check out these websites:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Preparing for Easter: I'll Rise Again

In preparation for Easter/Resurrection Sunday, here's a beautiful old song from Dallas Holm.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher (Review)

If you have ever thought about making an income while honoring God through piano lessons, K. M. Logan has written a book just for you. “The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher" is an e-book written in such a way that even a high school student could pick it up and learn how to teach piano lessons with it.

According to the author, “This book examines basic piano pedagogy from a Biblical perspective in a reader friendly question and answer format. It provides wisdom in the spiritual, business, and instructional aspects of teaching piano. This book is written with the novice piano teacher or would be teacher in mind.”

I am not a piano player. However, I was asked by the author to look over her new book and give my thoughts. From what I saw, “The Matthew 6:33 Piano Teacher” is a unique book in content, and well worth the cost of $9.99. It includes questions and answers about qualifications needed to teach piano, how God can bless your teaching, the advantages and disadvantages of teaching, the numerous business aspects of it, how to set up your piano studio, what policies to have in place, and additional resources. If I were interested in teaching piano, this would be an informative tool to have on hand.

For more information, or to place an order, go to The book can also be purchased through, or

To learn more about the author herself, head over to her personal website: