Saturday, December 30, 2006

Find Your Wings

Once again, I realize the importance of my role in the lives of the little children God has given to me for this short time. My responsibility for their basis of faith is paramount to any other call in my life. If there is a time for me to bear the witness of Christ to another, it is this time.

It's only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I'll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I'll want to know
You're walking in the truth
And If I never told you
I want you to know
As I watch you grow

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
But I'll cheer as you fly

Find Your Wings by Mark Harris

Sunday, December 17, 2006

What You Need To Know About Gardasil

My husband and I were watching TV one evening when a commercial for a new drug came on. While I don't think drug companies should be allowed to advertise to the public (a major conflict of interest, but that's another post), this commercial caught my attention. The drug was called Gardasil and the women in the ad were praising it for its prevention of "certain types of cervical cancer". What upset me was the lack of the mention that this type of cancer is caused by a STD (sexually transmitted disease). Interesting, they left that part out, and I noticed.

I decided to Google Gardasil and found several websites with information about it. However, one website in particular was not what I expected and I found out some extremely disturbing facts about Gardasil vaccinations.

The first thing I noticed that I thought was a little strange was it was a pediatric website. That's right, a children's' medical information website. Why would a drug to prevent a STD be explained on a pediatric site? What I found out made me very angry.

Gardasil will only be administered to girls before they become sexually active. Consequently, the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that proceeds the CDC) recommends that Gardasil be routinely given to girls when they are 11 or 12 years of age. Gardasil can be started as early as age 9 though, and can also be given to women 13 to 26 years old. The goal is to vaccinate girls as young as NINE YEARS OLD for a sexually transmitted disease.

I wonder what these parents are going to tell their daughter she is being vaccinated for? Do they know they are opening the entire Pandora's Box of sexual information with their 9-year-old daughter? If they don't discuss it at that time, when do they tell her she had this vaccine... when she leaves for college? When she gets married? Why did her parents have her get it? Because they didn't think she could wait until marriage before losing her virginity? Our daughter is almost 7, and I can't imagine I will think it is remotely appropriate to have this discussion in two short years.

Although I have not encountered this yet, I expect schools to begin to educate girls about cervical cancer and that they need to get this vaccine to prevent it. I doubt they will proceed this message with the information that the vaccine is unnecessary if girls remain virgins until marriage.

Parents, it is of the utmost importance that you are aware of your girls' pediatrician and what he could give your child. Investigate every vaccine presented prior to permitting that your child receives it. Do not let your doctor override your moral conviction, and be sure to explain why you refuse. Please do not think I don't have my children vaccinated against other childhood diseases, because I do! My children have all their shots within a few months of the recommended age. A pediatric vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease is not the same thing.

What is implied by Merck with the use of Gardasil:
1. Untreated HPV will most likely develop into cervical cancer.
2. You can only get HPV through a sexual encounter with an infected partner.
3. Gardasil is only administered to girls who are virgins.

Christian parents, we must educate our daughters that God loves us and His laws are for our benefit. Our sons have to be taught this lesson as well. They must remain pure for their future wives, so as not to bring disease in their marriage to their beloved wife. Gods design for us is perfect. One man, one woman for life. Parents, understand what is assumed if we allow our children to get this vaccine; we assume they will be sexually active outside of marriage and not monogamous.

Here is the pediatric website I read, I've also included their information about Gardasil below.

Gardasil is a new vaccine being made by Merck & Co., Inc. and which has been approved by the FDA to prevent cervical cancer in females between the ages of 9 and 26 years of age.

What Gardasil Is Used For:
Gardasil is a vaccine against the HPV or Human Papillomavirus. The Gardasil vaccine protects recipients against 4 types of HPV, including the two types that cause most cervical cancers and the two types that cause the most genital warts.

HPV Facts:
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts, abnormal Pap tests, and cervical cancer.

About 20 million people are infection with HPV in the United States and almost 3,700 women die of cervical cancer in the US each year.
Since many people have no symptoms and not even know that they are infected with HPV, they can pass on their HPV infection to their sexual partners without knowing.
There is no cure for HPV infections.

Gardasil Facts:
Gardasil won't prevent all forms of genital warts or cervical cancers, but it is highly effective at preventing genital warts and cervical cancers that are caused by the types of HPV that the vaccine targets.

Who Should Get Gardasil:
Since Gardasil prevents HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, it is important that it be given before people become sexually active. In fact, the ACIP recommends that Gardasil be routinely given to girls when they are 11 or 12 years of age. Gardasil can be started as early as age 9 though, and can also be given to women 13 to 26 years old.

Gardasil Side Effects:
According to the CDC, so far in testing, 'there appear to be no serious side effects. The most common side effect is brief soreness at the injection site.'

Gardasil Controversy:
Some experts think that Gardasil may lead to controversy because some parents will have problems thinking about giving a vaccine against a STD to pre-teens. Other parents might not want a vaccine against a STD at all, believing that their children could not be at risk. And still others think that Gardasil might encourage promiscuity, since it could foster the belief that it protects against STDs.

What You Need To Know:
Gardasil is not a 'STD vaccine' in the sense that it prevents all STDs. It simply provides protection against certain types of HPV, but not other STDs, such as HIV or herpes.
Cervarix is another HPV vaccine that is being developed by GlaxoSmithKline.

Genital HPV Infection - CDC Fact Sheet.
HPV Vaccine - CDC Fact Sheet.
CDC Cervical Cancer Screening Fact Sheet.
Immunization against genital human papillomaviruses. Bonnez W - Pediatr Infect Dis J - 01-NOV-2005; 24(11): 1005-6.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Christmas Traditions

I adore Christmas. This is a time of great nostalgia for me, thinking of the times with family who have gone from this world, of family living many miles apart, of the awesome sacrifice of God to take on human flesh and live a pure an sinless life. Having young children is making everything about it even more special. We have a lot of decorations in our home, and I have been able to share with them their Biblical meanings.

Christmas Tree- I am reminded of the blessing to always walk in the way of the Lord whenever I see my evergreen Tree.
Psalms 1:1-3
1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

Poinsettia- The star shaped leaves of this traditional Christmas flower are used to remind us of the Star of Bethlehem that the Three Wise Men followed to find the boy king, Jesus.
Matthew 2:10-11
10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Christmas Holly- The spikey leaves are reminders of the Crown of Thorns placed on Jesus head, the red berries represent His shed blood.
Matthew 27:27-31
27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Candy Cane- Tradition has it that in Cologne Cathedral, France, circa 1670 some restless youngsters were attending ceremonies around the living Nativity. To keep them quiet, the choirmaster persuaded confectioners to make sticks of candy bent at the end to represent shepherds' crooks, then he passed them out to boys and girls who came to the cathedral.

When the red striped cane appeared at the turn of the 20th century, Christian pastors used the colored candy cane as an example of Jesus virgin birth in the pure white candy, three small red stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and the large red stripe for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
Matthew 1:18-23
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."

Nativity- I love having the Nativity Scene in our home to show our children all the parts of the birth of Jesus including the Three Wise Men, the shepherds, the animals, the Angels, Mary and Joseph. Many non-protestant traditions exist regarding the timing of adding each figure to a Nativity Scene. Since the Wise Men did not come to the stable at Jesus birth, they are placed away from the Scene, the rest of our Italian Nativity Scene is displayed together throughout the Christmas season without the baby Jesus. He is placed in the manger Christmas morning.

My most treasured pieces in our Nativity Scene are the shepherds and angels.
Luke 2:8-20
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Santa Claus- While our children are young, we will continue with the tradition of Santa Claus without the "naughty or nice" list. We expect our children to behave to an acceptable level without presents from Santa as bribery. When they can understand the importance of thinking of others rather than themselves, we will introduce Saint Nicholas.

Nicholas was born in the 4th century to relatively affluent Christian parents in Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor. His parents died when he was relatively young and Nicholas received his inheritance but is said he gave it away to charity.

The most famous story of Saint Nicholas tells of a poor man who had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them, meaning they would remain unmarried and, in absence of any other possible employment might have to become prostitutes. Being too modest to help publicly, Nicholas went to their house under the cover of night and threw three purses filled with gold coins through the window opening onto the man's floor. The father discovered their benefactor and confronts him, only to have Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone. People then began to suspect that Nicholas was behind a large number of other anonymous gifts to the poor, using the inheritance from his wealthy parents. After he died, people in the region continued to give to the poor anonymously, and such gifts are still often attributed to Saint Nicholas.

While our family has been giving anonymous gifts for several years, we will begin soon to include our children in this wonderful tradition of giving selflessly. It truly blesses the giver more that the receiver.
Acts 20:32-35
32 "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

I hope these insights have inspired you to find out more about your own family Christmas traditions. I pray for God's blessings for each of you. Not just at Christmastime, but always.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Holy, Holy, Holy

About two months ago I was watching the NRB network, channel 378, on Directv. (If you have Directv I recommend you add this channel to your list of favorites.) As I was working in my kitchen I overheard a show and the message delivered was so compelling that I had to sit down and watch. The program title was The Jewish Jesus taught by Messianic Jewish Rabbi Kirt Schneider. The message he brought was so profound I've been telling people about the insights he presented, but I would like to share it with more people so I'm posting it. Sometimes it takes me a while to get a grip on what the Scripture is saying and put my thoughts into words.

The point Rabbi Schneider made on this episode was the need for Christians to view the Bible as a whole book of truth, both the Old and New Testaments are about God and His love for us. Many churches today disregard the Old Testament as "the Law" and since Jesus came to be our sacrifice once for all, we can ignore the teaching there. Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion.

Matthew 5:17
17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Jesus and Paul saw themselves as proclaiming the completion of Judaism. Many of the churches today have become disconnected from their Jewish roots. The church established by Jesus has been grafted into the olive tree of Israel (Romans 11:17; Ephesians 2:12, 13).

Rabbi Schneider pointed out that the Old and New Covenants connect. When Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to His disciples on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognize Him at first. He then revealed to them who He was, by taking them on a journey through the Hebrew Scriptures.

Luke 24:27
25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

But the last and best illustration Rabbi Schneider used to bridge the Old and New Testaments was the example of the only time a word is used in three-time succession in the Bible. There is no description of God as "all loving, all loving, all loving" although we know that He is. He is not described as "all knowing, all knowing, all knowing" although we know that He is. There are only two times where we see a description of God in three word succession and it is in the Old AND New Testaments.

The first example is when Isaiah sees the Holy God in Heaven:
Isaiah 6:1-3
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

The second example is when the apostle John sees the revelation of God, also at His throne in Heaven:
Revelation 4:6-8
6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come."

My favorite contemporary Christian musician is Nichole Nordeman. She was at the Women of Faith conference I attended last week. She sang a song from her newest album that puts me on my knees every time I hear it.

Holy by Nichole Nordeman

How many roads did I travel
Before I walked down one that led me to You?
How many dream did unravel
Before I believed in a hope that was true?
How long? How far?
What was meant to fulfill only emptied me still
And all You ever wanted…

Only me on my knees
Singing holy, holy
And somehow
All that matters now is
You are holy, holy

How many deaths did I die
Before I was awakened to new life again?
How many half truths did I bear witness to
‘Til the proof was disproved in the end?
How long? How far?
What was meant to illuminate shadowed me still
And all You ever wanted…

Only me on my knees
Singing holy, holy
And somehow
All that matters now is
You are holy, holy

All I have is gratitude to offer You

It is easy to view the God of the Old Testament as a strict Lawgiver and the God of the New Testament as a God of grace. However, His plan from the beginning of the world was to send the Messiah to save the lost. The entire Bible tells of God's love for us. His reaching, longing desire for us to be with Him. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is not in His nature to change who He is, that would alter His faithfulness. The Holy Bible is His living Word, Jesus Christ. I am constantly amazed at the ability of that Word to have implication to my daily life, from BOTH the Old and New Testaments.

Praise God for His wonderful gift!

John 1:1-2, 10-14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Laughter, the Best Medicine

Here's another chuckle... have fun!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different

This is what happens when you post after midnight...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Third Time's the Charm

I had intended to post this entry on Sunday night, but I unfortunately got the flu from my kids (again). So, here goes!

This past Sunday, our worship message was about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of the betrayal. My eyes were opened to a point in scripture that I hadn't seen this way before.

Mark 14:32-42 NIV
32-They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."

35-Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36-"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

37-Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38-Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

39-Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40-When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41-Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42-Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

So, the first thing I noticed was Peter having to be told something three times, again. ("Peter do you love me? Feed my sheep." John 21:15-17 & "You will deny me three times." Mark 14:66-72) Jesus came and found Peter, James and John sleeping when He had told them specifically to stay awake. Poor Peter, he had nothing to say in his defense. He had been caught. I often identify with Peter, he is so willing to speak what is on his mind, but often without understanding the weight of his commitment.

I have a theory about why Peter had this "rule of three" when it came to Jesus telling him something important. It seems that the first time something is presented, Peter goes it with his gut response and doesn't necessarily contemplate what Jesus says. The second time, he might think "Hmm. That was weird. I've heard that before." but his response is the same as the first. The third time the same thing happens AGAIN, a light-bulb goes on. Peter finally gets the point. There is no way he can say it was only a coincidence, there must be more going on here.

Once again, I find myself alike to Peter. How many times has God tried to get my attention, and I just nod my head and say "Sure God, whatever... you know how I feel... I'm already on board" But because He loves me, God continues to pursue me. I am convicted in my own complacency of faith in the times I don't feel the true dimension of what I am agreeing with. How trivial I make the call of the Spirit when I don't acknowledge the greatness I am joining. The blood of Christ requires complete devotion, every day, with each call, and to this I pledge my undivided attention.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Something New

Well, I guess my friends are wondering about my life and what's going on so I figured I'd better update my blog. I just hate checking other blogs to find they haven't been updated in over a month, so goes my life! Always time to read, never time to write.

The kids are doing well. Our oldest is in first grade, still adjusting to all day school. I think there is a lot of seat work that she is not used to, and she is a very active girl. I understand that she needs to be aware there is time for quiet and time for play, but it is hard to communicate that to a six year old. She seems to have a lot of friends and does well with her work. I think it is good for her to be away from home for a while, but I miss her all day.

Our son is a great kid. Everyone who meets him says so, so it's not just his Mom bragging on him. He is easily entertained, cooperative and is excited about anything (sounds like his older sister!) Everyone in his preschool class knows him, and his teachers go out of their way to hug him goodbye at the end of the day.

The baby is smart. She talks a lot and has the patience to figure out things if she wants to. She would probably toilet train by two, if I'd devote the time. I am still in awe at how fast she is growing. I think I'll have my work cut out for me on this one.

Dan's work is going well. I'm amazed he can be at home with us all the time and still provide for us. What an incredible blessing for our children that they have Daddy around anytime they need him.

We are so blessed with our beautiful home and wonderful friends here in AZ. If you are ever in the area, please stop by and have some tea and cake, our house is always open for you!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Christmas is Coming Soon

Ok, so not really that soon, but I love just thinking about the Holiday season approaching. My favorite time of year is the weekend before Thanksgiving all the way through the month of December. In fact, I build up the Christmas experience so much that I usually go through a mild depression after New Year's day. I love the decorations, the shopping, the food, the music, the family, the Savior. Since I usually have my gifts purchased by Oct 1, I really get to enjoy the season with my family and friends. Christmas and Thanksgiving are a special time for my family and I'll love doing more this year with our Church family as we have so many dear friends in our town.

It's tough living in the southwest during the fall because there isn't a change of seasons to mark the way to Christmas. I've often said southern California has two seasons: "Summer" and "not Summer". Arizona has two seasons as well: "what summer is everywhere else" and "you have got to be kidding me".

In my vain attempt to get in some kind of a mood for fall, I've changed my bedroom linens, put out new fall-colored table linens, and changed my fake plants to dried leaves and flowers. If nothing else, it's at least something new to look at as I try to convince myself it won't always be 100 degrees outside!

I hope I've inspired you to think a little about the holidays, I can't wait.

Seasons Greetings!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

...In a Hand-Basket

As recently as this week, the California legislature has once again forced their own idea of morality on the unsuspecting residents who enroll their young children in public schools. A little back ground on what recently happened in the schools in my native state and gained media attention. In 2004, a graduate student gave a questionnaire about sexual awareness to a class of 2nd grade 7-year-olds without the knowledge of the parents. The test had been presented to the district without the sex questions, they were added back later by the test preparer. The parents were not informed of the change in the test, a young student informed his parents of the questions. The one question that was released to the media was something like "Has anyone ever touched your private area and if so, did you like the way it felt?" The justification for this line of questioning was to identify possible sexual abuse in the students. At the time, there was much uproar in the media about the questions, but to my knowledge, no action was taken against the student who authored the test or the district for allowing it to be presented to the children.

Now, there are two senate bills in California that would mandate teachers include the sexual orientation of persons in history in addition to their instruction. Why should those with children in other states be concerned? Many of the textbook manufacturers who write books for California will have to change their literature and they will supply those books to other states. Also, where California goes, so goes the nation.

SUMMARY: SB 1437 expressly prohibits textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities from “reflecting adversely” on transsexuality, bisexuality, or homosexuality. Instructional materials could not only say “a husband and wife,” but must include “two wives who are married lesbians.” Sex education assemblies would have to include information on sex changes (to avoid “reflecting adversely”).

“Instruction in social sciences shall include the early history of California and an age-appropriate study of the role and contributions of both men and women, black Americans, American Indians, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Island people, and other ethnic groups, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, to the economic, political, and social development of California and the United States of America, with particular emphasis on portraying the role of these groups in contemporary society.”
-- SB 1437, Sec. 1.

Since when did sexual orientation (or whatever the p.c. term is now) become applicable to American history? But wait, there's more! If this wasn't bad enough, SB1441 requires the same instruction be extended to PRIVATE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS including elementary, secondary, upper, college and university schools if they are receiving any state funding.

SUMMARY: SB 1441 requires recipients of California government funds to promote transsexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality.

I encourage you to read further on both issues on the web site Campaign for Children and Families. On their web site, I found a National Opt-out Letter to send to our school district. The letter is specifically graphic in the information my child is not to receive without my written approval. I also gave a copy to the school where my daughter attends and I included a cordial cover letter that informs the school I would like to make other arrangements for my daughter when these issues arise. It is irresponsible and unwise for me to delegate the sexual education and awareness of my children to our public schools at the discretion of their teachers and accept what they deem "age-appropriate". I will have to stand before God and be accountable for their instruction and I intend to keep His teaching foremost in their lives. Please leave me a comment if you would like a copy of the letter I gave to our principal.

Why would I continue to keep my children in public school, why not pull them out and home-school them? This issue does not dissuade my confidence in the ability of trained and dedicated professionals to educate my children. There are dynamic class and social functions that my children can only access through the public school and my ability to influence and educate other families is also a concern. Now is the time for parents who are "on the fence" to stand up and change the things they don't want taught or presented to their children, who are my neighbors and friends. This current struggle strengthens my conviction to be increasingly involved and ever present at the school. If my children were not attending public school, I would not have a vested interest in the education of impressionable young minds and I would not be personally involved at the school. After only two weeks, I am already on a first-name basis with the teacher, registrar, secretary and principal at our elementary school and have joined the PTA.

Still think this can't happen to your child because you don't live in CA? As reported on Fox News, a first grader in North Carolina came home with a picture book, King and King, from her school library. It's a story about a prince who marries his true love, another prince. The students parents expressed their concern regarding the contents for a six-year-olds reading, but the school principal, who views the matter as an issue of diversity, said what is "inappropriate" to one family may be "totally acceptable" to another. American culture has already become more tolerant of homosexual behavior, even the term "same sex marriage" removes the stigma the unchurched have with homosexuality. Unless you live on a mountaintop in Tennessee with no TV, radio or internet, then the influence of Hollywood, the media, and social situations will trickle-down to us all. What a state our country is in. Americans are in a unique position to change what we don't like the government doing with our tax dollars in public schools or anywhere. I hope more parents will be as outraged as I am if they are adequately informed and will take necessary legal action. I can't believe this is even an issue... sex education to kindergartners. This is not okay.

Authors note - It has taken me three days to finish this post. Every time I started writing I got so mad I couldn't type.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Back to School!

Whew! The summer is over, but not the weather... we are still in the fire furnace that is the Phoenix metro! We have been enjoying the evening thunderstorms, they cool it off for the kids to play outside in the rain and prepare for their baths. While we are getting ready for back to school for the kids, we are wishing they wouldn't grow up so fast!

Today was our oldests first day of 1st grade and her first full day at school. She was so excited for her first day, she woke up at 6:00 am and said, "Mommy, wake up, I'm going to be late for school!" I was really looking forward to sleeping another hour, but we got up and went to school, on time. I was worried she would be apprehensive about staying there after being home all summer, but I took her picture at her new desk and she smiled at me and said, "Bye Mom, see you after school!" What a big girl, way too soon for poor mommy! A big "thank you" to all those who prayed for her eye. God carried her little head to just the right spot when she fell. Praise Him, she has no damage to her eye! It is so much better than it was, and she hasn't been self-conscious about how it looks.

Our son had a fever yesterday, so he missed his first day of school for precautionary measures. He went to "Meet the Teacher" on Saturday and loved all the play-doh, play kitchen foods, cell phones (they have REAL ones!), and the big playground. He is so excited, his teachers are great, and he even has a friend from Church in his class! The day before his sister's accident, he was stung by a scorpion. We called poison control and they said as long as he didn't have an allergic reaction, there was no need for concern. He went right to bed and woke up the next morning as good as new. Things are usually good for this boy, he's a roll-with-the-punches kind of kid.

I had my appointment with Dr Altman today to talk about my chronic strep issues. I really liked him, and was very comfortable with our discussion. He was straight-forward about my three options, being; wait and see if I have another infection, have severe antibiotic treatment, or a tonsillectomy. He said he did not want to do the surgery, as there are more complications with adult elective surgery (I think adults just complain more), and it's possible I might never get another infection. However, his parting words were "Just call me if you want them out, I'll do it for you." So, the ball is in my court... if I do get another strep infection, I will have the surgery. Thank you all for your prayers, and continue to pray for our family, we love you all so much!

Friday, July 21, 2006

What's Wrong With Me?

I'm coveting prayers right now, as I've been diagnosed with a throat infection again. This is my fourth since moving to Arizona last year, and before that I hadn't had one since being a teen (many years ago). I have continual sinusitis, aggravated by acute allergies which may be triggering an infection, but my GP doesn't know why I keep getting Strep. I have an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat Dr. for a consultation, but the first appt. they could get for me was August 14. I am praying the Dr. will have a diagnosis, whether I am a Strep carrier or someone else in my immediate family is, and will have an effective course of treatment. I know God is in control of my physical body as well as my spiritual health and I know He is with me, all is in His hands.

Please pray for me and Dr. Altman as I seek his help.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Here Comes Summer!

Well, in Arizona summer has been here for a month already, although not officially until mid June! We turned our a/c on a couple of weeks ago and won't turn it off again until sometime in October. Yikes! I have a summer schedule for the kids so they won't drive me crazy asking "what are we doing today?"

Here's our plan, so far:

Monday: Shopping/Errands
Tuesday: Library
Wednesday: Arts & Crafts
Thursday: Water Park (yes, Anthem has it's own)!!!
Friday: Gymnastics (at home)

Since my kids love Walmart, it's not too bad going shopping with the two older ones while baby J is taking her nap. With Dan working from home, I don't always have to take all three kids when I run my errands, and that's really nice! I do have to use bribery to keep them happy while shopping, but fortunately they are easily persuaded with 25 cents for gum!

We kicked off our summer vacation with a quick trip to Cali to see our friends over Memorial Day weekend. Everyone looked great, and we had a lot of great food (thanks Ken and Dianne!) As much fun as we had, and we wanted to stay longer, it was easy to see what motivated us to move out of the L.A. metropolis, the TRAFFIC! Dan and I both noticed how many cars there are all over the place all the time. In our little Anthem, we only leave town once a week at most. When summer comes, the snowbirds fly away and our population decreases by a third which greatly affects the traffic. Since we live on the same side of town as Walmart, we rarely drive more than 50 miles each week. It sure makes gas prices a lot less painful when you only fill up once a month!

We were able to visit our old church and it felt... different. We've been so blessed to get involved at our new Church in our ministries, but it made our visit to SH seem just that, a visit. I shouldn't have been surprised that I didn't feel like I was "at home" while we were there. So many people prayed for us to have a good transition to AZ, and I know that prayer has been fulfilled. We are so blessed to have our new Chursh feel like our home and we love it.

As for the water park, we haven't gone yet this season. I'm going to buy a new swim suit today and I've been psyching myself out for two days to go shopping. I'll try on every suit in Rob May until I find one I can live with. Being almost 40 and bearing 3 kids has given me some strict swim suit requirements. Hopefully I can find something under $150, but I'm not holding my breath! Ahh, the things you do for your kids.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Taking Back Our Homes

Our family recently received the Imprimis newsletter for the month of April. Although Dan said he has read several issues, this was the first one I had seen. It is a publication of Hillsdale College in Michigan, founded by the Freewill Baptists in the mid 19th century. I don't know how we got on their mailing list, but I was impressed by the article, Taking Back Our Homes, and its author, Rebecca Hagelin. It reminded me that while my children are in my home and under my care, God has given me the responsibility for what they see, hear and experience.

I invite you to read and let me know your thoughts.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Seeds are Planted in Rwanda

My father-in-law Sam Shewmaker, is planning to return to the mission field in Rwanda in a few years. When I found out about his desire to return to a country that has suffered so much pain and strife, (I might post my feelings on the Rwandan genocide at another time, but it is VERY difficult for me to express), I asked why this particular country was selected. Sam, as the voice of Christ, said because they need the love of God the most. Wow! What a selfless attitude he has for the gospel of Christ! As difficult as it is for me personally to see them go back to Africa, I can not ignore the steps God is so clearly placing for Sam and Nancy to return, specifically to Rwanda. They have recently moved from Searcy AR to Fort Worth and were only a couple of hours from OCU where Sam was asked to deliver an address to the Rwandan President, First Lady and Ambassador to the US.

This is what he said.

Your Excellency, President Kagame and Madame Kagame
Ambassador Nsenga
President and Mrs. Oneal
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Mwaramutse nyose
Karibuni sana mu Amerika

Your Excellency, we wish to express thanks to you and your people for honoring us by a
visit to this campus today. Murakoze!

As a son of Africa myself, it is a special pleasure for me personally to witness the
beginnings of a relationship between this Christian University and the Nation of Rwanda.

Your Excellency, as a citizen of the United States of America, I would like to express, on
behalf of many of my fellow-Americans, and indeed on my own behalf, a belated, though
deeply felt apology, that the government of the United States did not come to the aid of
the people of Rwanda in their darkest hour. This fact is a stain on our national honor for
which we are deeply sorry.

Some of us have visited your beautiful country and have met some of your beautiful
people. While we have been moved to deep grief for the tragedy of Rwanda, we do not
pity the people of Rwanda, because they are not a pitiable people. We see them as a
resilient people who are growing in their hope every day. Your Excellency, we believe that
this is in large part due to your effective leadership. We believe that God has put you and
your government in this position of leadership in Rwanda "for such a time as this."

Many of us present here today represent a fellowship of Christian congregations known as
Churches of Christ. As followers of Jesus Christ both in belief and in action, it is our
desire to partner with Rwandans in the planting of churches that, in a holistic way, will
become communities of healing that meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of
the people.

It is our desire to work in solidarity alongside your people to achieve the goals of your
national Vision 2020, in whatever fields, be they in the field of spiritual development and
the planting of churches, the fields of education, of training in business, information
technology, in primary health care training, or in strategies to assist families to break out
of the cycle of poverty. We look forward to a harmonious working relationship with
Rwanda that expresses Christ's spirit of compassion and service.

In closing, let me say on behalf of Churches of Christ, that we wish you, the government
and the people of Rwanda great success and the bountiful blessings of God on your path
to national unity, prosperity and well-being.

May God always abide in Rwanda. Imana Ikurinde.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Love Ann!

Ok, I added Ann Coulter's web link to my page because I really love what she has to say. Dan said I had better be careful who I tell that I liker her, someone could get offended. Although some people might need to read with a grain of salt, I like how conservative she is and she doesn't care who she offends! I'm certainly not comparing her to Jesus, but He wasn't politically correct either. In our current world of not wanting to step on toes, she tells it like it is in a way that people need to hear and I predict she will continue to have a growing audience.


p.s. Although Ann's current article "It's Hard Out Here for a Pump" is good, I was particularly fond of the following posts:
-Lie Down With Strippers Wake-up With Pleas
-Brown is the New Black
-Revenge of the Queers
You can access these articles, and a host of others, on her Archives tab at the left of her home page. Happy reading, salt shaker in hand.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Four Friends

Yesterday our pastor delivered a message about Jesus healing the paralytic taken from Mark chapter 2. He made the observation that the men that were with the paralytic were his friends. I had never thought about that. It was probably true, who else would carry a paralyzed man across town, dig a hole in the roof, and lower him to Jesus. These men had probably been with him a long time and were not "fair weather friends". They knew if their friend saw Jesus he would be healed and their faith is what Jesus saw (Mark 2:5) and he healed the man. I thought a lot about that yesterday, that the faith of the friends is why Jesus healed him. Our Connection group talked about four friends in our own lives that would drop everything to help us. I was the last one in our group to speak so I was able to hear the comments of the others. There were a couple of people in our group who were disappointed they could only name one or two friends that they would call for help. When it was my turn, I shared about when I fell down our stairs in Cali and broke both my ankles. I couldn't walk for six weeks so I was in a similar situation as the paralyzed man. Our son was a baby, our daughter was three and my mom lived and worked in Mass so she couldn't help me. My friend Laurie organized our church to have someone come every day when Dan left for work at 7:30 and stay until he came home at 6:30. Some volunteers could only come to help for a couple of hours, some brought dinner. It was very difficult for me to just lie there and let someone else clean my kitchen, do my laundry, feed my family, but what I learned is that those people weren't ministering to me because they were my friends (although they were) but because they were being Jesus' servants. Some of them were only acquaintances but they were members of my church and were therefore my friends. Other people who don't have the Church family don't have any way to cope with the hard times in this life so they become alcoholics, adulterers, they abuse their children and spouses or even commit suicide. When God established his church, he knew we would need other Christians to help us in times of need. When we share our vulnerabilities with other Christians we become closer friends and able to connect on a deeper level. When we minister to our brothers and sisters we are being Christ in their lives.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Dear Mr President

This letter sums up my feelings on the immigration issue well... I don't know it's origin, but I found most of the points hit the nail on the head!

Dear President Bush:

I'm planning a little trip with my family and extended family, and I would like you to assist me. I'm going to walk across the border from the U.S. into Mexico, and I need to make a few arrangements. I know you can help with this.

You see, I plan to skip all the legal stuff like visas, passports, immigration laws and all that, and I'm sure they handle those things down there the same way you do here.

So, would you mind telling your buddy El Presidente Vicente Fox that I'm on my way over? Please let him know that I will be expecting all of the following:

1. Free medical care for myself and my entire family.
2. English-speaking government bureaucrats for all services I might need, whether I use them or not.
3. All government forms must be printed in English.
4. I want my children to be taught by English-speaking teachers.
5. Schools must include classes on American culture and history.
6. I want my kids to see the American flag flying on a flagpole at least as high as the Mexican flag, if not higher.
7. Please plan to feed my kids both breakfast and lunch at school, free of charge. And make sure it's nutritious.
8. I will need a local Mexican driver's license so I can get easy access to government services.
9. I do not plan to have any car insurance, nor will I make any effort to learn local traffic laws.
10. In case any Mexican police officers do not get the memo from El Presidente Fox to leave me alone, please be sure that all police officers speak English.
11. I plan to fly the American flag in my yard, put American flag decals on my car, and have a gigantic American celebration every July 4th. I do not expect, nor will I appreciate, any complaints or comments from Mexicans.
12. Make sure jobs that pay cash without extracting taxes are available, because I plan to send large portions of that money back to my relatives in America, and cash expedites the process.
13. Please expect, and calmly tolerate, frequent angry demonstrations disruptive to the local economy should anybody ever complain about the strain I might be placing on the Mexican economy.

I know this is an easy request, because you already do ALL these things for all the people who come to the U.S. from Mexico under the same conditions. I'm sure El Presidente Fox won't mind returning the favor if you ask him nicely. I'm sure he's always been friendly and generous to those who evade Mexican law when entering Mexico.

Thank you so much for your kind help.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Precious Children

Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to have my three children. My girl is so innocent and full of curiosity. While taking her to kindergarten, the voice from the back of the van will say, "Mommy, why is the sky blue?" I didn't know kids actually said that! She is a joyful child, so sweet and trusting of those around her. My prayer is she will adjust to her new school in Arizona and speak with confidence in her class among her peers. She is smart girl and can go anywhere in life. The boy, is all boy! He is always in the dirt or mud or climbing on something, but still needs cuddle time with mommy in the mornings. I love his tiny voice and spikey hair, he is the sweet one and will be able to do anything he sets his mind to. Our baby is becoming her own individual, probably out of necessity, or she could be lost in the chaos of our house! She likes to talk and will waive bye-bye when asked (neither of the other kids would). Being my last baby, I relish each baby milestone with great emotion and some tears. She has been such a blessing in our lives, we all love her. God, forgive me for neglecting the reality that I am richly blessed with the gift of healthy children. I dedicate my life to raising them to your glory.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Walking in the Desert

I've been asked to post the reasons why God led us to Arizona, so here goes!

My life journey started off being born into a fourth generation Church of Christ family, and when I was 11 years old I made the decision to be baptized into Christ by my best friends dad. I had a fairly uneventful life as a teenager, due to the constant intersession of prayer by my mom (a true prayer warrior). As a freshman in college at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA, I was exposed to young adults who seemed to have a different relationship with God than I did. They talked about Him in a personal way that I had never felt. I was curious as well as disappointed that I didn't know God this way. What were they talking about, a "personal Jesus", what in the world was that? I met and married my husband through our church, where we sponsored his family as missionaries to Zambia and Kenya. I spent our early married life happy, but somewhat lost for true purpose. While searching for the perfect diet solution, my dear friend Laurie asked me to be a part of a new weight loss program called The Weigh Down Workshop. After one session I realized my life was not focused on God, but on other things. Satan was using food to distract me from worshipping God with all my heart. "Those who live according to the sinful nature have there minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." Romans 8:5. This verse focused my mind on God as the provider of nutrition, and that all food is blessed by God. After three sessions of WDW, I had given God complete control of my eating and was no longer tempted to make eating healthy foods my idol. I was sending an e-mail to several of my closest friends asking for direction to a deeper study of God's word and my hunger to know Him better, when my brother in law Jon suggested I look into a study called Experiencing God. My husbands parents, along with several of our elders, were beginning the study and I joined them. I have gone through the study three times, led it once and taught a Sunday school Bible class. The principles of EG are sevenfold.
1. God is always at work around you.
2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
5. God's invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.
God was just waiting for me to find Him. He has always been right there, waiting for me to ask Him into each part of my life. When I found out I was expecting an unexpected third child, I sure felt a crisis of belief! I had my life all worked out the way I wanted with two kids, a beautiful house in OC, a great husband (and a great relationship thanks to Intimate Issues), and a great church home where I'd attended since I was 8 years old. All this seemed to be what God had put in my life as blessings, but what would another child mean? There was no realistic way to remain in the house we currently had with three kids, and buying a bigger house in the insanity of the '05 market was not going to happen if I wanted to continue to remain the primary care giver for my children (the most valuable job). We began to search for what God was saying we needed to do to keep in His way. We found that the Phoenix housing market was quickly moving out of our price range and several neighborhoods we looked at were sold out. My uncle in Scottsdale suggested we look at Anthem, as he really liked the community idea and recreational activities offered to members. We drove up on a Sunday morning and signed the papers on our new house after lunch. We were blessed to be immediately involved at Canyon Church by several members that have known my family for decades. All this is to say that God has definitely led us to the desert, as He did Abraham when He said "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives to the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great..." Genesis 12:1 & 2. God didn't tell Abraham where he was going or what would happen to him once he got there, only to go. Abraham went, and all people are blessed because of his faith in God. I carry this passage in my heart and I still feel we are living in the desert God led us to, but He is faithful and will bless me and my family for trusting Him.

Why A Praise Team?

The current dilemma
-Because we aren't getting people's attention, two-thirds of the Churches of Christ are declining or reaching a plateau with attendance. This is largely due to the fact that many churches are not addressing the 21st century culture in the assembly.
-Over 80% become Christians before age 20 and 75% between age 9-14. If we aren't reaching the youth, we aren't reaching the world.
-The world is watching satellite tv, communicating via e-mail and gathering information from the internet. Many churches are still using language and images from the turn of the 20th century. This can not compete with popular media, which freely uses images and techniques that completely outdo it.
-We need to recognize that this generation does not understand much of the language many churches insist on using.
-We must be flexible enough to communicate and unchanging message to a changing culture.

Some of the resistance issues I have heard have been the following:
-It's nothing but entertainment (with the assumption that anything associated with entertainment is corrupt. The motivation to entertain is subject to suspicion because of the performers need for self-gratification.)
-They're making a spectacle of themselves (anyone who draws attention to themselves during worship makes a spectacle, by making spontaneous expressions of worship like standing alone during a song, clapping or raising one's hands. This is deemed in violation of Jesus' command to pray in secret in Matt 6:6)

Three Goals for a Praise Team
1. The members demeanor and spirit lead the newer and older Christian spiritually by visually displaying heart felt emotions as they interpret the lyrics of worship songs.

2. The members lead the congregation musically. It is not an attempt to replace congregational singing, it is to enhance it. By providing musical leadership of all four parts, the average singer can pick out a part that is most comfortable and follow a praise team member. Teaching new songs and musically leading older ones is a valuable service to the congregation.

3. The members lead visually. A large group of worshippers requires coordination and leadership. Although a single worship leader is still required to begin the songs, visual leadership is more than keeping time by waving one's hand. The facial encouragement, and direction of the worship leader are all visually oriented aspects of leadership. All members of the praise team are leading somebody at sometime, and the group as a whole leads visually all the time. The visual impact a group of joyful and energetic singer can make on a church is significant.

Taking these goals into consideration, a Praise Team required to sit down front would be handicapped in their ability to lead spiritually, musically, and most certainly visually.

How to use those whom God has called?
"He gives to each one just as He determines" 1 Cor 12:11. Some people love to sing but have no heart for God, and some people have a heart for God and love to sing but are not called to lead worship in song. Excellence in presentation is always the goal, but the ability to worship authentically and with zeal is most important. Three criteria for all Praise Team members are the love of worship (heart for God), passion to lead others into worship (heart for leadership), and musical ability (ability to blend). Worship is about God, and a Praise Team should be about helping people draw closer to God, not about us!

*Some of this information came from the Zoe worship conference at Fresno Church of Christ, February 2003

God Speaks in Quiet Moments

So, it's late and my kids will be up and full of energy in a few hours. But here I am, writing away, instead of getting my beauty sleep. I've been on an emotional teeter-totter since yesterday when our precious baby Jill had her first birthday. My sweet friend Janis came over to give me some adorable frames she made, and I started to cry. I told her I was having one of those days where the littlest thing could make me cry, but I hadn't actually done it until she came over. I felt all the emotion of the past year, the babys birth, our move from Cali, a new Church, a new house, my girl starting school, was overwhelming and it all came out when Janis stopped by to drop off a housewarming gift! I suppose I just needed to get it out and she was there at the right time, but I don't believe in coincidences, I do believe in God-incidences. God sent Janis to me at that moment to let me know that I can trust Him. He has a special plan, and He wants to be a part of my life to the smallest degree, but I have to ask. He brought us to AZ for a specific purpose and I will trust He will use our family for His glory in His time. I may never see the fruit of this journey, but that is not promised in this life. He is faithful and will always be here for me. Anytime.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Here I am!

Well, I've decided to jump in and join the 'blog' team. I'm not new to the scene, I've been poking around on MySpace for a few months (as a nosy viewer). I didn't feel comfortable with MySpace, I'm old enough to be the mom of most of their members-lol. I'm joining Blogger to see if this is a good way for me to communicate with my friends that I don't get to talk to regularly and my friends at church that I see only for a few minutes on Sunday. I'm hoping to get a lot of response and maybe find some old friends, too!