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.