Friday, December 28, 2012

Hold Your Fire

I went to the movies with the family last weekend.  Looking around at the posters advertising current or upcoming movies, I was struck by how so many of them showed the characters looking tough and holding guns.  There’s Django Unchained,  Skyfall, Brad Pitt in Killing Them Softly, our former governor in The Last Stand, Liam Neeson in Taken 2, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Sly Stallone in Bullet to the Head, and more.  If you are a parent taking your children to see Monsters, Inc. or Wreck-It Ralph or Life of Pi, they are going to see these posters with cool actors striking poses with their guns.  You could also be at home watching a game on television and a commercial could come on advertising a new movie.  Clips of Daniel Craig or Bruce Willis shooting things up appear.  These exciting and inviting images make an impression on your children.  Kids will mimic things they see in movies and television.  My husband and I had to ban Kung Fu Panda when our kids were younger because they tried doing martial arts on each other and used sticks to hit each other and us.  If you have boys, you know what I mean.

There are many violent videogames out there.  Do you know what your child is playing late at night in his room?  How much time is your son spending playing games?  I know, I know, there have been studies…videogames in and of themselves are not a bad thing.  Many a geek relaxes after a long day at work or school by playing games.

There are youngsters who suffer from mental illnesses like depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and OCD.  Many of these children are prescribed medication to help manage these illnesses.  A diagnosis of mental illness doesn’t mean that child is going to be violent.  Some of the medications come with heavy warnings on the label.  Zoloft carries a risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in children.  Prozac is another drug that can induce suicidal thoughts.  Many young people who are prescribed anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medications do well with them and are able to live normal lives.  But a young person taking an anti-psychotic medication or two might start experimenting with alcohol or recreational drugs which could alter the helpful effects of the medication.  What if a patient suddenly quits taking his medication altogether without the knowledge of his parents or doctor?  Quitting some medications cold-turkey can result in relapse of the mental illness, often with worse symptoms and behaviors than the original illness.

 What happens when you have a young person with some sort of mental illness (maybe even an undiagnosed one) and a combination of some of the factors that exacerbates the illness, who sees images of Oscar-winning actors holding weapons and shooting things up as a hero, or spends many hours on his computer killing lots of people in some virtual world?  Can a young man have trouble distinguishing what goes on in a virtual world of a movie or game and the real world?  Does he understand what he’s doing when he packs up massive weapons and heads out to do what he’s going to do?

We’ve had some terrible tragedies recently involving young men with guns.  Innocent people have been killed and numerous families’ lives changed forever.  Some government officials have suggested stricter laws and even a ban on all firearms.  Some think more gun-free zones are the answer.  Others think if more citizens carried concealed weapons it would deter these shootings.  What about having armed guards at schools (like the elite school our recent presidents have enrolled their children in)?  Maybe the teachers and staff could be trained to carry weapons was another suggestion.

Suddenly, all gun owners and gun enthusiasts have become the villains.  A newspaper in New York, The Journal News, just published an article on 44,000 registered gun owners in two counties complete with names and addresses of where they lived.  There’s been quite a backlash against the paper.  Some have complained that now the criminals know which houses to break into - the ones without the guns.

What about Hollywood?  The industry has helped glorify guns and violence.  The actors wielding their assault weapons on the big screen are making millions of dollars looking like badasses to our young people.  Will lawmakers try to ban the filming of violent movies like the ones I saw posters for at the theater?  Will any of the actors come out with public service announcements condemning the real-life use of guns against innocent people? 

Someone commenting on an article I read brought up an interesting point that a few of these mass shootings may have occurred in so-called “gun-free zones”.  That’s something worth looking into.  Guns exist.  Criminals will find access to them ban or no ban.  They already do.
Look, there’s no one simple action that is going to eradicate these terrible killings.  People want immediate action taken to prevent our nation from losing any more innocent men, women and children.  That’s understandable.  We feel helpless, sad, sickened about what’s happened.  However, we need to examine all the factors and variables involved in each situation in order to prevent further tragedies.  Not every young person with access to firearms is going to go out and commit a mass murder-suicide.  Not every child with a mental or emotional illness is going to hurt other people.  We need to discover what these shooters in the 15 years since Columbine had in common, to help identify people who may be at risk of potentially doing something horrendous.

*Update*  I am including this recent video of Hollywood Celebs making a public service announcement condemning gun violence and demanding a plan to end it.  It wasn't the kind of public announcement I was hoping for.  The video creator found clips of the celebrities themselves using big guns in movies or tv.  The creator of this video gets it, even though his language is a little harsh.  Instead of taking any responsibility for making blood and guts and murder look cool, these actors who have made millions off of us, are telling us we need to demand gun control.  How about we demand they stop making these violent movies and television shows.  How about they denounce their participation in violent movies.  Ha, don't think that'll ever happen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Indifference is a word meaning lack of interest or concern, unimportance, of little or no concern, insignificant.  Which is worse, being treated meanly by someone, or being treated with indifference?  When person A (we’ll call her Sally) is mean to person B (we’ll call her Lucy), at least person A is thinking about person B albeit in a negative manner.  What if Lucy enters a room and Sally doesn’t make eye contact with her, or even acknowledge her presence?  That’s indifference.  Lucy wants to visit with Sally, but isn’t as talkative as many of the other gals, who Sally prefers to spend time with.

There is an event with many ladies expected.  Lucy sits down at her table hoping some of the “popular” gals will join her so she won’t be alone.  But they don’t.  One by one they pass by not even glancing at Lucy.  Hers is the last table to fill up.  A couple of “neutral” ladies sit at Lucy’s table and are pleasant and listen with interest when Lucy speaks.  Sally ends up at Lucy’s table but isn’t interested in Lucy at all.  Sally chats with her own friends.  In this community, there are several ladies like Sally and who are also close friends with Sally.  They too treat Lucy with indifference.  They don’t make eye contact with Lucy and only speak to her when necessary.  Lucy doesn’t know if she did something or said something to one of them that they didn’t like.  She would certainly apologize if she had.
Lucy had been in a social group with Sally and many of the ladies before and enjoyed getting to know them.  Lucy was asked to share personal details about her life to the group one day and she did.  But later comments were made and questions asked by various people that made Lucy feel she was no longer wanted in that group.  Lucy stopped attending.  She hoped that someone would ask why she wasn’t coming to the group anymore, but no one ever did.  Lucy came to the conclusion that Sally and the others just didn’t like her.  They were indifferent to her because they just didn’t like her.

This scenario sounds a lot like something from junior high or high school doesn't it.  Did you know a Sally back then?  Were you a Sally?  Maybe you knew or were a Lucy.  It’s sad to say this, but some things never change.  If you were a Sally, chances are you still are. Even in communities which are supposed to be loving, nurturing and inclusive, people like Lucy still feel unwanted by people like Sally.  Is there a sad Lucy lurking somewhere in your little world?  Reach out to her.  Look her in the eyes and ask her how her day is going.  Invite her to coffee.  Just don’t treat her with indifference.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wanted: A Hero

We need a hero.  America needs one right now.  A super hero.  Someone to stand up to the threats of the world and to those coming from inside our nation and just say NO WAY!  It’s election year.  We’ve got a big problem; who to choose as leader of the free world.  The man in the White House right now really isn’t who many thought he was.  Some knew exactly who he was and still is.  Four years ago, people were looking for a hero; even cutely coined him “the Messiah”.  The media fell madly in love with him, and painted a picture of this handsome, well-spoken, well-educated man who being half black and half white would unite and heal our nation from its past.  This little-known newbie senator from Illinois was quickly propelled to rock star status.  The general public couldn’t get enough.  He seemed more popular than Elvis or the Beatles.  Women fainted and celebrities swooned.

The first red flag was finding out Obama's position on the Born Alive Act and voting against a ban for partial birth abortion.  His votes regarding these issues while an Illinois senator were actually "present", but it might as well have been against the ban.  For a man professing to know and follow Christ, it was disturbing that he would not want to protect tiny humans from these barbaric treatments.  Google the Born Alive Act and partial-birth abortion to learn more.

Some of the characters he has been associated with are questionable; former members of radical organizations with socialist and communist views.  Bill Ayers was a member of the Weather Underground.  Frank Marshall Davis was Obama’s mentor and member of the Communist Party.  Marshall was friends with Obama’s grandfather Stanley Dunham.  The list goes on.  Even our attorney general was part of a radical group in the 1960’s.  Obama's words contain some of these radical ideas.  Do we understand what redistribution of wealth really means?  There is a video of Obama stating his belief in it.  Who has to pay their fair share? Think about the movie Dr. Zhivago.  Remember the scene where the doctor comes back from battle to find his family home being used to house multiple families because the new government determined he had too much and had to share everything his family had built and amassed from their hard work.  What kind of real work has Obama done?  Did he ever work at McDonald’s, Burger King or start up his own business?

And yes his upbringing in another country and attendance at a Muslim school and mosque bothers me. When he mentions anything Islamic he does so with perfect pronunciation and inflection. Missionaries I've heard who served in the Middle East for years don't have that. He once said he would stand with the Muslim world if political winds shifted in an ugly direction. Where does that leave America?  Where does that leave our longtime ally Israel?   Obama was the first president to bow to the Saudi king.  He snubs Israeli leaders quite frequently these days.  Just recently, he made time to appear on “The View” and joke about his being “eye candy” but no time to meet with Israel.

We had a terror attack on the US Embassy in Libya.  Well, the government wouldn’t admit that for a while. Susan Rice kept telling us it was a spontaneous attack.  Our president blamed a video and apologized to the Muslim world for it.  The administration may have been warned about it, but somehow it wasn’t taken seriously or didn’t make it onto the iPad.  There were other riots around the Middle East, and the apologies to those people have continued.  Hilary Clinton and Obama “strongly condemned” the violent acts that were happening.  Come to find out, taxpayer cash was spent on a television commercial in Pakistan condemning that stupid film.  Damn that free speech thing! You can read about that here:    Does Obama really believe he can just calm down the Middle East by continually apologizing to them? He thinks he’s the “Middle East Whisperer” or something. What message is sent when he bows submissively to their leaders?  Look, our embassies were attacked.  Our people were murdered.  They still won’t tell us what really happened in Libya. A strong leader of the free world should be outraged at THEM, not apologizing for some lame video that may or may not have set them off.  In the civilized world, a video is not an excuse to murder.  But hey, the reelection stuff is kind of more important to him than dealing with the chaos like a strong leader would.  He couldn’t miss his campaign stop in Vegas or that big party fundraiser with Beyonce now could he?  A real leader would have put all that on hold and dealt with holding the governments of those nations accountable for the murders and attacks.  The US sends billions of dollars over to the Middle East each year.  Why?  Why do we think that they will like us if we give them money?  Obama wants to give Egypt $450 million MORE in aid.  After they let our embassy be attacked.  Sure, throw more of our money at the problem.  That’ll do the trick.

We need a hero to stand up and be proud of the United States.  We need someone who will confidently stand up to third world leaders and the United Nations and not allow them to come into our country and insult us or our allies (think UN assembly).  We need a president who will immediately cut off funds to those who say they are offended by us and our way of life.  Obama is definitely not our hero in that aspect.  I’m not sure if Romney is either.  Only time will tell.

*Update*  Since this post was written, Obama has been re-elected as president.  We know how he stands on abortion.  With his signature health care overhaul, we can count on abortion being included with that.  As some signs of protesters read "Abortion is not healthcare!", the battle rages on.  The "it's a woman's body" arguement continues.  Yeah, sure it's a woman's body, but once a child is conceived inside of it, it's no longer about her.  It's about that baby.  We need to continue to pray for Obama.  Pray for the Lord to speak to his heart about these tiny ones.  Pray that God give him the heart and courage to stand up to the abortion industry and say ENOUGH!

**Update**  I am including some of the many written sources for the items mentioned above to satisfy skeptics.

Aid to Egypt
Commercial in Pakistan
Aid to Muslim countries
Bill Ayers
Frank Marshall Davis
Eric Holder

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Truth of the Matter

I just want the truth.  What’s going on in our country and in the world?  The past few days have brought some terrifying events.  I have found myself going to multiple news sites to try to find out facts and sort through them myself.   I don’t know where to turn to learn the truth.  The mainstream media doesn’t necessarily report everything.  There are very liberal-leaning sites and conservative-leaning sites.  They can report very different things having to do with the same event or topic.  I usually visit The Drudge Report to start.  He has many different sources listed on his website and presents stories from those.  He’s usually this first with breaking news stories.

This 9/11 something dreadful happened in Libya.  Our ambassador and 3 others died.  There are conflicting reports of what went down and why.  We were told at one point that the ambassador dies from smoke inhalation.  Drudge carried a photo from a video indicating the ambassador may have been brutally assaulted and dragged through the streets.   But some like CNN are writing that the picture shows local Libyans attempting to help get Stevens to a hospital.  The State Department will not give any information about what happened to him. Apparently, his body was missing for about 12 hours.  All I can think is, that poor man.  How was it that he was left so vulnerable?  According to some news sources, the interim president of Libya insists he told the US that there might be some trouble on the anniversary of 9/11 aimed at the US from recent foreigners to Libya.  Our government claims that this attack was spontaneous; a protest that escalated and got out of hand at the embassy.   An eyewitness to the event swears there was no protest and that the embassy was attacked by over a hundred heavily armed men.   The State Department says it had no warning of any attack, contrasting what the interim president said.  Who is telling the truth?  If our government ignored any indications of trouble, will they own up to it and admit it?  Oh, but now the government as of 9/19 admits it was a terrorist attack.

And what about this supposed anti-Islamic movie?  Some guy made some stupid You Tube video and the whole Middle East is rioting about it.  Well, that’s what the mainstream media is telling us.  Wow, that sure gives one man a whole lot of power.  His video has caused half the world to start rioting.  Really?  And of course some media organizations outted him pretty quickly.  Now that his name and face and where he lives has been revealed to the world, he’ll be in hiding for the rest of his life.  Why did government authorities go to his house to question him?  What happened to freedom of speech?  Now Egypt wants him to pay for his video with his life.  The media continues to link this movie to the riots in their headlines.  The White House even asked Google to remove this video.  Google said no.  Atleast Google has the guts to just say no to government censorship.  Like it or not, this man had the right to make and release his video.  Our first amendment says so.  Bill Maher has said some not-so-nice things about Islam on the air.  You Tube has clips of him doing it.  The media has been silent about Maher.  Again, are we to believe this one lone man caused all this chaos in the Middle East?

As believers in Christ, we are called to be discerning regarding sound Christian doctrine and false doctrine. I think we should be discerning regarding news stories as well. Acts 17:11 says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” These were believers who heard things and then checked those things out for themselves. I don’t want to depend solely on what the mainstream media organizations feed people as the truth. Ah, I wish there was a Superman of the news world who would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. For now, I must investigate with the spirit of the Bereans to find the truth.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's All About the Chicken


I didn’t come here today to make a political statement.  I’ve waited for this day for sooooo very long.  I’ve been in the Bay area for 16 years now, with the closest CFA being an hour and a half away at the Solano Mall.  Now there’s one just across town.  16 miles to be exact.  It's at a new shopping center called @ First.  It's where Highway 237 meets First Street in north San Jose.

I expected it to be crowded, and it was very much so.  The picture I took was only a glimpse of the people there. The line snaked way off to the right of the photo.  Arriving at the shopping center, I gave up on the parking lot pretty quickly and parked across the street at the Target.  The drive-thru had a longer line than In-N-Out at lunchtime (and those are pretty long).  The line standing outside to get in was pretty long, but moved steadily.  We waited only about half an hour and then we could order.  The cow mascot wandered around outside.  The employees were friendly and things ran smoothly.

Biting into a CFA sandwich brings back all the memories of growing up in Charlotte, NC.  Memories of going to the mall and enjoying sandwiches and sweet tea while shopping there.  Chick-Fil-A was and still is an institution in Charlotte.

There were only a handful of protesters with signs along the street.  A guy with a megaphone was trying to tell folks not to eat there.  That’s his right.  Free speech and all.  From the lines at the drive-thru and the line at the front door, I don’t think many were paying attention.  I think this new free-standing Chick-Fil-A will do very well here.  People like the food.  People will go there simply because they like the food.  Some won't, but that's okay.   I will be going back again and again for that taste of back home.  Oh, and they're open for breakfast too.  The chicken biscuit is yummy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why Jesus?

I admit it.  I was rebellious and angry toward God for a long time.  My parents took me to church from the time I was born.  I got baptized at 9.  I guess I just didn’t really get it though.  Anyone can claim to be a Christian, but what does that really mean?

A lot of not-so-good things happened in my life.  No one lives a perfect life.  Actually, one person did, and I’ll talk about that later.  My life….having to deal with a mentally ill parent who when she had episodes would kind of be fanatical about Jesus.  As a young teen this was hard to see and understand.  I think it turned my sister and me off to religion.  I lost someone dear to me when I was 18 to a motorcycle accident.  I might have married the guy had he lived.  My friend’s mom tried to comfort me with religious words.  But I was angry at God and didn’t understand why Eddie had to die at 17.  I hated my mom for being sick and trying to control every aspect of my life and thoughts.  I went into a really bad part of my life after that. My friends who went through it with me remember. My dad was a strong support to me from that time on.  I attended a Presbyterian college but wouldn’t step foot into the chapel.  I was rebellious, angry and got into all kinds of un-godly things. 

Like many others, I was looking for the meaning of life and understanding.  I turned to the New Age movement, meditation etc.  This continued through my move to Boston.  I lived in a teacher dorm my first year at the boarding school.  God had placed a few Christian women there who helped to soften my heart.  One night during a meditation class these words came into my mind so strongly I could not ignore them.  “This is wrong!”  That night I let go of the New Age movement and went back to God with the help of Christine across the hall.  I attended church with my friends off and on and in between relationships. 

After my move to California, I didn’t have time to go to church.  I wanted to, but with working 6 days a week and Sunday being my only day off, it just didn’t happen.  I thought of myself as a Christian, but at that point was still pro-choice.  Why should someone want to bring an unwanted kid into the world.  Why didn’t those pro-lifers just adopt all those unwanted babies if they were so against abortion.  What was the big deal about aborting an unwanted pregnancy anyway?  That’s what we all were told by television and magazines we were supposed to do.   I got married and we struggled with infertility for some time (see "Babies, Babies, Babies"). 

Again, God was faithful and placed a Christian in my path.  I met Eileen while at the park, who had a newborn baby like me.  She invited me to her Bible study again and again for about 2 years.  I finally agreed and went.  Through the study I learned about God’s word and how to apply its truths to my life.  I had never really studied it in depth before.  I had kind of looked at passages here and there but didn’t understand a lot of it.  During this time God changed my heart toward many things. I realized how every life was a precious gift, even a little tiny baby.  It wasn’t just a bunch of tissue like some would suggest.  God handcrafted each one of us individually in our mother’s womb.  Even a child with Down’s or any other “defect” is His child and loved by Him.  I had a blood test come back positive for Down’s when I was pregnant with Jack.  I was devastated, but knew I would not be able to abort him if it were true.  Well, these stupid tests can be misleading and wrong.  Jack turned out to be a normal little guy.

So, why Jesus?  Because He saved my life!  He changed my heart and gave me a new life. He gives me hope for eternal life with God our Father.  How is that possible, you might ask?

Jesus lived a perfect life when he walked on this earth.  He interacted with people who did lots of bad things, just like me.  He showed them love.  He accepted them “as is”.  That’s not to say he’d be okay with letting them continue doing those bad things.  Jesus required his followers to leave their lives full of sin and repent from them.  Now, we have been separated from God because of sin.  It goes back to the Adam and Eve incident. None of us are good enough, pure enough, smart enough, or can work hard enough to be worthy of being with God for eternity.  But God had a plan.  In the Old Testament days, animal blood was used to cover the sins of the people.  That was only a temporary fix, like patching up a flat tire.  God sent His son Jesus to be a one-time sacrifice for sin to cover anyone who put their faith and trust in Jesus.  Jesus was put to death on the cross, but defeated death by coming back to life.  People saw Him, and interacted with Him after he was resurrected, and wrote accounts of it.  When someone believes in Jesus and what He did, that person is given a new heart.  The Holy Spirit is given to you as a deposit for your upcoming eternal life with God.  The Holy Spirit helps to change you to become more like Jesus.  It’s like letting someone else take the wheel and drive you through life.  You get to know Jesus through the Bible and learn to trust Him because of what He did for you.  You allow God to work in your life and mold you into what HE wants you to be.  It’s not easy, especially if you are someone with a very rebellious spirit like me.  It’s hard to make changes in behavior and thinking.  It’s hard to admit that you might be doing things that go against God’s character. 

I stopped hating my mom just before she died.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.  I know that. God changed my heart toward her, and helped me to forgive her for all that she put us through.  God freed me from all that anger and resentment.  I’m not the same person that I used to be, even who I was a few years ago. I’m still a work-in-progress like all other believers.  Followers of Jesus trust Him to mold us into His image.  And it is a choice.  No one can force you to follow Him or to believe in Him.  Maybe you don’t feel you’re good enough for Him.  You’ve done lots of bad things.  Jesus will meet you where you’re at right now. When you trust that He is who He says He is, and that He died FOR YOU,  you will be saved.  It's the beginning of a new life.  And I am so very grateful for the new life He gave me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's Open Season

Apparently, it's now open season.....on followers of Christ.  Young gymnast Gabby Douglas recently came onto the scene.  I watched this beautiful athletic young lady qualify for the US Olympic team and give all the glory to God.  I could tell she meant it.  She won medals this past week.  Then the attacks started on her.  From complaints about stating her faith to her hair to her mom, mean people have come out in droves to put down this young girl.  Jealousy?  Maybe.  Because she follows Christ?  It's a good possibility.  Jesus himself told us that we would be hated because we belong to him.  Watching coverage of the uneven bars competition the other night, Gabby wore a burdened expression and did not medal in the event.  The next morning she posted on her Facebook page about all the attacks and negativity she's gotten.  I stand in awe of this young believer who isn't afraid to tell the world she follows Jesus.  God bless her.

There are others in the public eye coming under great scrutiny because of their faith: Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, etc.  One news agency even asked their readers in a daily poll how they felt about athletes publically stating their faith and praising God during their game.  Well, for now, these individuals have the right to.  The Constitution protects them.  Believers in other nations are not so lucky.  Many are thrown in prison or murdered because of their faith.  There is a Christian pastor in Iran who is scheduled to die because he refuses to renounce his faith in Christ. Even if the government releases him, anyone in Iran who hates Christians will probably murder him the minute he steps foot outside the prison gate. I think about those faithful followers of Christ and wonder how bad could it get here.  We don't face death here, but do face obstacles.

We are supposed to enjoy the same freedom of religion that countless Hindu, Muslim, Buddhists have come to America for.  But as we accept others' rights, our own beliefs are being criticized, marginalized and even not allowed.  Which brings me to Chick-Fil-A.  People are crawling out of the woodwork to condemn the company founder and CEO.  Why?  Because he is standing firm in his faith in Christ.  What do these attackers want to accomplish?  Do they want CFA to cave into demands that they financially support groups and organizations that go against their beliefs?  Do they want Cathey to renounce his faith in his Savior Jesus?  Sure sounds like it.  Would any of these attackers force a muslim to eat pork?  A comedian can stand up and say "F*** Chick-Fil-A, but they'd never stand up in front of an audience and hurl the same sort of insult toward a muslim company.  They know better. 

A new Chick-Fil-A is opening up in San Jose next week.  I have been waiting for this for many many years.  I grew up eating Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in Charlotte.  The closest restaurant to us has been 90 minutes away.  We stop there on our way to Sacramento or Tahoe.  We stop there because we like the food.  I eat Chick-Fil-A everytime I am back in Charlotte.  I have loved Chick-Fil-A for many many years and plan to go to the new one here with my children opening day.  I will not abandon a company who has the balls to stand up for what they believe in.  I don't know what opening day is going to be like with all this controversy, but I'm going to be there.  Maybe I'll even eat two sandwiches. I know that some of my friends won't be there, and that's okay.  I'm not going to disown them because of it. 

Tune in next week.  I'll let you know how things go.

## I was saddened to hear about the shooting that happened on August 15 at the Family Research Council.  From the different sources I've read here's what happened.  A man came into the office, perhaps claiming to be an intern.  He pulled out a gun, yelled angrily about the groups policies and started shooting.  The brave security guard was shot, but subdued the man until another guard could help and police were called.  In his backpack were about a dozen Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.  What does this mean?  Well, Chick-Fil-A supports this organization.  Apparently, the shooter volunteered with a group with opposing viewpoints than CFA and FRC.  We don't know what he intended to do with those sandwiches.  What's upsetting about this is the lack of attention and details that the major news outlets are giving. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Deadly Cancer

I met Leslie back in 2001 through a Las Madres Playgroup.  My son Miles and her daughter Maia were the only two July babies.  Leslie was kind of like me, an “older” mom of a baby.  We spent a lot of time together through playgroup activities or small group gatherings at each other’s homes.  Leslie introduced my son Miles to iced water, which he still loves to drink, and Havarti cheese.  We would walk the Almaden Lake trail with other moms pushing strollers. 
We even took a baby swim class together with friends from playgroup.  Leslie was fun to be around and Miles enjoyed playing with Maia.  You always knew where you stood with Leslie.  She wasn’t afraid to tell it like it was.

Leslie began having some strange symptoms like constant itching.  She visited doctors to find out what was going on. She was hospitalized with what they thought was pancreatitis.  I remember Leslie’s mom later telling me that the doctors had told her “it was all in her head”.  Leslie knew something was wrong and kept pushing the doctors to find out what was going on. 

Meanwhile, Leslie and husband Knud were building their dream house up near Sacramento near an airfield.  Knud had a small airplane and the family enjoyed flying.  It was a beautiful home complete with a garage for the airplane. 

Then came the diagnosis.  Leslie had pancreatic cancer.  From what I knew of this cancer, it rarely left survivors.  I remember my stomach feeling upset, knowing my friend may not live through this.  In 2005 Leslie went through some cancer treatments and she and Knud moved from San Jose to their dream home.  Things seemed hopeful.  Our family stopped by for a visit on the way back from Reno that May. 

Leslie seemed thinner and more tired, but was fighting the cancer hard.  Over the next year, many of us saw Leslie periodically when she was in town. 
Our family also visited her early in the summer of 2006 and then again in July for Maia’s 5th birthday party.  Leslie had finished more chemo, was taking a break from it and things looked really good.  She was also planning a big 50th birthday for her husband Knud.  Some of the other ladies and I would check in with her by e-mail and phone after she moved. 

Then came the e-mail that changed everything.  In September, her cancer treatment was canceled because of an abnormal blood test.  Something was going wrong in the liver. 

A few weeks later in early October, I was with my son Miles at a toy store, when Carolyn, our playgroup leader called.  She was letting us know that Leslie did not have much time left.  The cancer had returned with a vengeance.  I know I was crying in the store and my son knew something was wrong.

We organized a group of gals to go up and visit Leslie right away while she could still enjoy company.  While we were there, Maia asked her mother why she was all orange.  Leslie, being Leslie, answered with a smile on her face, “Mommy’s ready for Halloween!”  How she could be so strong for her young daughter amazed me. 

A few other people were able to visit Leslie that October.
In early November of 2006, Knud called to let us know that she was gone.  Leslie was only 47, leaving behind her husband, five-year-old daughter Maia, her mother Ruth, a brother John and sister Jackie.  Many people attended the funeral.  Elaine, our friend from playgroup sang a beautiful solo for Leslie.

A few months later in early 2007, we got notice of a walk up in Napa County for pancreatic cancer through an organization called PanCAN or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which Leslie had been involved with before her death.  A bunch of us from the playgroup decided to start “Team Leslie” and walk in memory of our friend.  It was the start of a yearly tradition. 

My dad told me that his mother Elva Cozean had also died from pancreatic cancer in 1968.  I was little at the time and did not remember her.  She was in her 80’s, so I just assumed she died from old age.  I discovered that the survival rate for this type of cancer had not really improved since my grandmother’s death.  This was very disturbing to me.  While progress was being made with the survival rates for other types of cancer, pancreatic cancer was still very deadly.  It is difficult to diagnose the cancer early enough for treatment to work.  Most people diagnosed usually died within months.  Leslie fought for about 2 1/2 years. 

This will be our 5th year walking out of the six years since Leslie died.  Knud and Maia have joined us too, and this year, more of Leslie’s family will be walking. A lot has happened since then our first walk.  The world has lost some famous names to pancreatic cancer: Patrick Swayze, Pavarotti, and Steve Jobs.  Neither fame nor fortune could spare them from this cancer.

PanCAN’s “Walk Through the Vineyard” event has grown steadily each year.  It was even relocated to a larger vineyard in order to accommodate more participants.  This organization has made great gains lobbying for more research money and awareness of this cancer.  They provide support for pancreatic cancer sufferers and their families.  Because of PanCAN, a few more people each year will survive.  We’re going to keep walking and raising money to fight pancreatic cancer.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Praise the Lord or Pass the Loot


Those from the Charlotte area know first-hand what those letters mean, or meant. There was a couple of evangelists on a television show called The PTL Television Network. Jim and Tammy Faye. Remember when those t-shirts were popular around Charlotte, the “I ran into Tammy Faye at the mall”. It was a plain shirt with what appeared to be rubbed-off make-up in the image of a woman’s face. Tammy Faye Bakker wore a lot of make-up and cried a lot on tv. The network was just taking off when we moved to Charlotte. Years later, the group bought a large piece of land down in Fort Mill, South Carolina, just over the border from North Carolina. The plan was to build a massive resort with a shopping mall and amusement park. Their television show would be broadcast by satellite from here as well. This new location was called Heritage USA. Their ministry was a great success and pulled in millions of dollars. Anytime you tuned in to the show, they were asking for money. Send in your money and good things will happen to you. Some teased that PTL stood for Pass the Loot. I’m sure the ministry did do some good, but their use of wealth was troublesome. I remember going to see fabulous fireworks there on the 4th of July. The Christmas lights were something to see too. You could drive through the property and see such bright colorful lights all around you. I couldn’t help but wonder how much money was being spent on those lights and the electricity for them night after night. Shouldn’t that money have been used to help people in need instead? To make a long story short, there ended up being a huge scandal involving money, taxes, and a woman. PTL fell and fell hard. Jim and Tammy Faye divorced and Jim went to prison for a while. (Tammy Faye died from cancer in 2007). Jim Bakker discovered the truth of the Bible while in prison. He realized he had led many people away from the true gospel. Jim Bakker remarried and is back at evangelism apparently. While PTL was a massive turn-off to Christianity for me in its glory days, the bigger picture can now be seen. Anyone can sin, and sin big time. No one is immune to the temptations of money, fame, sex, power, prestige, etc. God used PTL to expose false teachings and destroyed its empire. It took being in prison for Bakker to come to terms with what he had done and to seek God’s forgiveness. The Bible teaches that when you confess your sins (admit what you did wrong), and turn completely away from those sins (stop doing them), that you will be forgiven. What Jesus did on the cross makes that possible. And when we put our faith and trust in Him, He helps us to walk on the right path. Bakker has been forgiven by God, and given a second chance to tell the good news of the gospel. If someone like Jim Bakker can be forgiven and restored by God, then so can we.  And that is good news.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Babies Babies Babies

In the past few months there have been lots of babies being born to family and friends, and families in our church. Children are a blessing. They are a miracle. These little tiny perfectly formed people. It seems like a given. You get married and then have kids. But sometimes it’s not that easy.

We got married later than many couples. I was 34 and Nate was almost 31. I was never worried about the baby thing until I hit 35. That seems to be the age where your chances of conceiving start to get slimmer. We were trying, but nothing was happening. Month after month was a letdown. People would ask me was I pregnant yet. I sadly replied no. When I turned 35, I decided to take charge and be more proactive about getting pregnant. We saw a fertility specialist who did some tests and suggested an IUI. It’s a pretty simple procedure. We did a couple of those and then added fertility drugs. I was sure that would work and maybe even get us twins. Nope. Nothing. We made the decision to try IVF. In Vitro is the test tube thing, or I guess petri dish. This would work. It had to. We found a great clinic with a great reputation and results. The doctors at the clinic said because of my age, our chances of having a baby with the IVF process was about 25-35 percent. I had to take birth control pills to manipulate my cycle. I felt crabby most of the time from these. Next came the daily hormone shots into my leg. Toward the end of that I just couldn’t do it anymore and made my wonderful husband give me the shots. Then came the day we were waiting for. It was early September. Harvest time! The procedure was somewhat uncomfortable, but had to be done. The doctor would then work on fertilizing the eggs in the lab. He thought an ICSI process would be our best bet considering our odds. That’s when a single sperm is injected into an egg. It’s faster than waiting for a little sperm to find its way around in the petri dish. We would return in a few days and I would be implanted with an embryo or two depending on how many we had. The night before the scheduled implantation, the doctor called and said they had to do a rescue ICSI for one of the cells. We still felt that things were going just fine. The next morning we were so excited and happy. This was really going to happen. I was going to go to the clinic and get pregnant!

But it was not to be. As we were getting ready to leave for the clinic, the doctor called and told us the cells had stopped dividing. There was no embryo. There was nothing to implant. It was devastating and depressing. We took a trip to Hawaii to attend the wedding of some good friends. It was nice to get away from our situation and celebrate with them, but the fact remained that there would be no baby for us. Maybe this was how women who miscarried felt. Even though no baby had been inside of me, there was such a feeling of grief and loss. The doctor then told us that because of the failed IVF our chances of conceiving with assistance was now about 15 percent. What a kick in the gut. My eggs were getting old and were poor quality. We could try another IVF in a few months if we wanted to. We would think about it. We also considered adoption.

A couple of months later, I was feeling kind of strange. We had not yet started on a second round of IVF. My sister was in town for a visit. Just for the hell of it, I thought I’d take a home pregnancy test. I still had some tests in my drawer. No way! Positive? How could that be? We went and bought a different brand test and I took it. That one was also positive! I called the IVF clinic to ask them if I could possibly still have hormones in my body from the IVF that would give a positive result on a pregnancy test. They said probably not and for me to come in and get a blood test. They would be able to tell from the numbers whether or not I was pregnant. We stopped by the clinic on the way to the airport to drop off my sister for her flight back to Charlotte. She was as excited as I was about a possible baby. She wanted a little niece or nephew. The clinic called after she got on the plane and said the numbers indicated that something was definitely growing in me! How in the world did this happen I wondered. We were pregnant. The clinic seemed to think that perhaps my system was off, and that by going through the IVF process, it had straightened out. Hmm, okay.

In July of 2001, our miracle baby Miles was born. He came into the world breech, and has insisted on doing things his way ever since. I later reflected about how faithful God had been through everything. We had really wanted a baby. We had done all these things to make it happen, but failed. It was a huge reminder that He is in control of everything. He was in control of my fertility, not me. God wanted to bless us with children, but on His terms and in His timing so that the glory would go to him not to us or the doctors.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Fire the Nanny!

California is becoming what some call a “nanny state”. Now, a nanny is typically someone that a parent trusts to care for their children while they are at work, etc. What if that nanny decided that you are a lousy parent and took over your parenting duties and decisions? I suppose some would be okay with that. I’m sure not. We had both our boys dedicated to God at church. That’s when you stand up in front of the congregation and promise to bring your child up to know the Lord and to follow His guidance for raising those children. Sounds simple enough. In today’s world, it can be pretty difficult to do it, especially when you have a group of lawmakers that believe they know better how to raise your child. These folks have worked hard to take away your right to make decisions for your own children.

As we rang in 2012, a new law came into being in CA. A child as young as 12 can go get a HPV shot during school hours without your consent and without your knowledge. Happy New Year! This is your 12-year-old middle-school child. Your daughter or son can go get testing or treatment for STD’ s and even an abortion if they’d like. You’ll never be told a thing. The school authorities can even excuse your child from school to get these services. It’s 5th period. Do you know where your child is? Is she even at school or somewhere else having an abortion? Is he getting a vaccine? The health care provider who gives your child a HPV shot or performs an abortion is not allowed to tell the parent without the minor‘s consent. Huh? Your child is not allowed to have medications like ritalin or an inhaler at school without a doctor’s prescription, yet they can leave school to have an abortion? At our school, I had to get our doctor to fax a note giving permission for my son to take Tums during the school day. What if your son (yep, that shot is now being pushed on little boys) has a bad reaction to the HPV shot? That vaccine can have some pretty bad side effects. According to the Merck website you should not use this vaccine if you have a severe allergic reaction to yeast, amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate, or polysorbate 80. Your child could faint or have seizures. If your daughter is on the pill, a risk of deep vein blood clots can occur. Other problems have been reported (even deaths), although the FDA will not link them to the vaccine.   There are lots of reports out there on the web about more of these side effects.

Your son or daughter cannot drive a car until atleast the age of 16, and then with restrictions, but the state of California gives your child the right to let someone inject them with a substance that could harm them. They need to get 3 of these shots for it to be effective against some forms of the virus. These cost about $120 a pop times 3. I don’t know who is paying for these when your child gets one, but Merck sure can make a lot of money from this vaccine with friends in all the right places. And without your knowledge. Rick Perry wanted to force all Texas school girls to get the HPV vaccine.

Since January 1 in CA, your teenager is no longer allowed to buy cough medicine with dextromethorphan in it without a prescription from a doctor. Gosh, he might get high from it. And those groovy electronic cigarettes? Can’t be sold to minors. And sorry kids, no more tanning beds for you until you are 18. It’s the law and the state must protect you from skin cancer. The drinking age nationwide is 21. But if your child has a drinking problem or a drug problem, they can get treatment without your knowledge or permission. Those treating your child are not allowed to disclose any information to parents without your child’s permission. All this sounds so upside down to me. Who is the parent here?

Now California children as young as 5 must learn about Harvey Milk thanks to SB 572. If you don’t know who he is, Google him. The school doesn’t need your permission to teach your child about his life and values. They don’t have to tell you when the celebration of Harvey Milk will take place in the school. It could be during a block of time in May. Does a first or second grader really need to learn about a man who preyed upon teenaged boys? I believe Milk was friends with Jim Jones of the Guyana kool-aid massacre. Some of you may remember that travesty. I sure do. Milk even wrote a letter to President Carter praising Jones’ character. The state lawmakers are telling the schools who your child should admire. Teachers are not allowed to speak negatively about these people even if it goes against their faith. If you have a “confused” child, he or she can seek counseling without your knowledge. Just who is this counselor and what are their qualifications? Will they attempt to steer your child in one direction or the other? You’ll never know.

All these new laws allowing children and teens to make decisions about their sexual health through the public schools should not be happening. Children should be at school to learn reading, writing and math. They should be learning how to play instruments and sing. Many of these decisions, they are not mature enough to make on their own. Shoot, they aren’t allowed to vote in any elections until 18. Instead of coming to you the parent, they can get advice from people whose values and beliefs might be questionable. Does a young girl really understand what she’s doing when she gets an abortion at 14? Does a boy realize that he can avoid HPV and other diseases by making the choice of abstinence, and not one of experimentation? Children and teens DO listen to their parents advice when they are told the truth about things that could harm them.

Here is a site that explains all the rights your child now has and that you no longer have in California. Parents need to be aware of this. I can certainly understand why so many families out here homeschool their children. They’ve decided to let the nanny go.