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Catching the Fish

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2014 at 6:07 am

FishingRebecca Mallory

Just when I’m convinced that the whole country thinks it’s ok to take and get as much free stuff as humanly possible, I have a day like today that has restored my faith in people. I was reminded of the old Chinese proverb about throwing a man a fish, which is easy and feeds him once, as opposed to teaching him how to fish which provides for a lifetime. I am involved in a program called “Visiting Teaching” where each woman is assigned two female “companions” to visit her once a month just to see how she’s doing and share a great message. Is there illness in the family? Could they use a meal brought in? Help with the laundry or tending the children? A simple listening ear? We simply watch out for each other.

Today was the day that I went with a companion to visit two other women. I am fairly new to this area and don’t know these women at all. But having attended these meetings for the past two months, I’m embarrassed to say that I judged each of them. Not bad, not good, just judged. All three are beautiful with lovely families. Probably got lots of money; a little conceited, no doubt. And they’re super young. Wow! Where did they get their money? Boy, was I wrong. (Names of these women have been changed.)

We went to the first woman’s house and it was a very pleasant visit. I discovered that she actually cheered with my third daughter in high school. Ok – so I’m the grandma of the area! She’s a darling girl with two kids and a loving husband who works nights as a policeman. The second visit was very eye-opening. Susan, my companion, and Nancy, the second woman we visited, had apparently been friends for a while; not besties, but friends. They kind of locked eyes as we talked; not ignoring me, but I sensed a definite bond between them. I’m not even sure how we got on the subject but they both shared the fact that their husbands had been out of work for a long time. Susan’s for 4 years and Nancy’s for 1 year. (side note: My son-in-law was out of work from July 2013 to February 2014 and it was horrible stress for the entire family! Can’t imagine four years!) I was intrigued as they shared a little of their experiences. “We simply sold everything we had”. We stopped going on weekly dates until we realized how crucial those times were to our marriage. We just made them more simple.

Susan shared that in the middle of being completely destitute, they were asked to teach an adult ed class on “Family finance and how to balance a budget”. She almost laughed. “If class members knew our situation, would they run?” So each week, as they were preaching to others the value of saving, surviving the recession, and getting out of debt, they were in day to day survival for their very existence. She shared the little miracles that took place during this time of trial. “People were amazingly helpful. One day we went out to the car and on the seat was $1,000 cash. One time someone left a $500 Visa on our porch. We’d go out to an inexpensive dinner and upon paying our bill, discover that a total stranger had already paid for us.”

Susan shared that over this time, her clothes were not only becoming dated but wearing out. Her husband had a habit of serious meditation in the shower. I thought that was strange until I realized that I do the same thing! You generally have some privacy and can pour your heart out while the tears mix right in with the water! Anyway, he prayed that somehow they could find the money to get his sweet wife some new clothes. Later that day Susan got a call. “This is Down East Basics. You filled out a card for our sweepstakes entry and you won a $500 wardrobe!” Susan couldn’t remember ever filling anything out at this store but somehow squeaked out a “Thank you” and burst into tears after hanging up the phone.

Seemingly small incidences like this happened during this entire time. Susan continued, “My husband went back to school to get his MBA which racked up over $70K in school debt and we lived off the small amount of the loan that we didn’t use for tuition.”  “How did you ever do that?” I asked. “We just did what we could with the resources we had. We had exhausted everything within our own power. At one point I found myself at DES bearing my soul in complete humiliation.” Side note… Remember that? When welfare used to be embarrassing? Not anymore. Our government has made it totally acceptable to “take” from everyone else which paralyzes incentive for personal responsibility. Is there a place for government welfare programs? Absolutely! Susan’s is a prime example. But the abuse from the government itself and the selfishness of those who “game” the system is criminal. Government assistance should be temporary not a way of life.

Rugged individualism is a deadly topic for the government because being self-sufficient diminishes our need for them. They must have you high on the government freebies which justifies their existence while increasing their power. Shameful. Susan kept a blog about their trial just to keep herself sane. Some people were kind, sympathetic and uplifting while others were judgmental and called me a “spoiled bratty housewife” because I didn’t want to leave my children to go look for a job. I felt that I needed to stay home and be a stabilizing factor for our terrified little family unsure of what tomorrow would bring. It may not be the right choice for other women, but it was the right choice for us.” Why do we pass judgement when we don’t know the whole story?

Nancy proceeded to tell her story. “After we bought this house which was a foreclosure, (very nice house) my husband lost his job. We were devastated. His mother gave us all this furniture to fill up the spaces. We had nothing. (At this point, I’m feeling like a heel. I was thinking that they must be doing pretty darn well to have all this nice stuff). We had people drop groceries and money off on our porch. Others helped anonymously wherever they could. But mostly, we just cut back the frivolous things in our lives.”  She laughs, “One day a cable salesman came by to tell me about their latest and greatest deal. “Well, we don’t have a TV.” “What do you watch then?” “That.” She then pointed to a painting above the fireplace where the TV should have been. “The guy just turned around and left.” Nancy went on to tell about the creative ways that she and her husband searched endlessly for jobs practically worldwide. She smiled as she recalled baking cookies to hang on the Christmas tree and then carefully storing them because those would be the decorations for next year also. Even though Nancy’s father is a well-known and successful dentist in the area, they wanted to do it themselves and get back on their feet as much as possible without assistance. So refreshing. I recently heard someone say, “If it’s fair, it’s not a trial.” How profound is that? Fortunately, trials make us stronger and better if we allow them to work for our good, and we don’t play the victim. You’re stronger than you think.

I’m so happy to report that both these precious women’s husbands have good jobs now. And so does my son-in-law! What a relief to know that these families are being provided for. All of us know men and women, heads of households, who are out of work and frightened about how they will take care of their families. It’s a scary world where once held American values of hard work and pride, are now scoffed at and demeaned. The takers will soon outnumber the givers. So continue to be a giver! Let’s take care of each other and be part of a productive community. Hey America dive in! Plenty of fish out there!

The Process of Forgiveness

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm

power-of-forgiveness_tKristi Kane

Many years ago, my husband worked through the sale of his company. The process of the sale lasted for over two years. During that time, my husband was the chief legal counsel for the company, and had many work hours already. Instead of the usual 60 hours a week of work, he was working close to 80. Our children were very young, and I was diagnosed with a heart condition that required surgery.

Things were very stressful at home for me, and at work for my husband. My husband took comfort in the comments one of his owners would make to him. She assured him that after the sale of this company, that my husband would be “taken care of. That he would be set for life.” She hinted at a bonus of one million dollars for all of the time and effort and travel he was putting in. On the day the company officially sold, she walked into my husband’s office, thanked him, and gave him a candy bar as a thank you for all he had done.

My husband was stunned. A variety of emotions ranging from disbelief to rage encompassed him.  He could not believe that the reward for two years of service was a candy bar! My husband stewed over that experience for 18 months. His mind was poisoned with the anger he felt at this woman for going back on her word, and insulting him with the gift of a candy bar instead of the money she had promised him. Finally he realized that he could not keep living like he was. It was consuming him and he couldn’t think of anything but how badly he’d been burned. So one day he decided to let it go. And he did. He even saw his former owner at a restaurant some time after that and told her that he forgave her for what she had done. While she didn’t care what he thought, he didn’t care. He had finally let it go. He was free.

Many have experienced the process of forgiveness. I have received forgiveness, and have forgiven. That does not mean I am a perfect person. Far from it. Forgiveness is a lesson I keep on learning. I believe that for all of humanity, it is a lesson that keeps on teaching, and that we have to keep learning.

For example, last October, there was a rash of break-ins in my neighborhood. Cars that were left parked outside on the street and were left unlocked were the targets. One of my neighbors had left nearly $700 cash in their car. The culprit, one of my other neighbors sons, was the one who was finally arrested. He had barely turned 18 in December, and had already spent six months in jail. (He has prior arrests.) In February, he was released. None of the neighbors who had been stolen from or vandalized would press charges. They asked the court for mercy on this young man. That in itself did not really amaze me. (I have incredible neighbors.) I was so pleased to see my neighbors give this young man a second chance. It was a tremendous and powerful example of forgiveness over revenge. I believe that mercy was shown to him on large part because his parents are fine people, and as a neighborhood, we know each other well. I think that had a lot to do with him being forgiven. These poor parents who were doing their best to raise this young man, were going through hell. And I saw the mother break down and weep with gratitude when she saw many of the neighbors come over and hug her son after he had been released from jail.

I don’t know how the story will end for him. Hopefully he will permanently turn his back on crime after being shown such tremendous mercy and compassion. But for my neighbors, they were able to let it go and move on. Forgiveness is always in process. We may try to stop it. We may decide to encourage it. The choice is up to us.

A Young Mother’s response to Her Child’s Brain Tumor

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm

UFI_Image_2014_01_28Nearly two years ago, Micah and Katy Lillrose’s 18-month-old son stopped walking, and, after an MRI, was whisked off to emergency surgery to remove a tumor that was compressing his spinal cord. Within a week, little Emmett was then diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive brain tumor.

 This life-altering event for the Lillrose family led them to return to Katy’s hometown in Boston, where a local medical institute could provide Emmett his best chance at life. Katy describes how being in the home where she grew up has strengthened her in trying circumstances.

 Katy says, “There are many hard things right now and many things I don’t want to do. But I try not to complain. I try not to worry. I roll up my sleeves as we spend night after night in the hospital and long days in the clinic, deal with good news and bad news, and make many life-altering choices based on little to no data. We consult with the doctors, make the best decision we can, and move forward. Instead of worrying about what might happen six months from now, we have learned to enjoy the small things day to day, like Emmett learning new words or learning to walk again or taking a bite of food. We find great joy in these small victories and take lots of pictures of him. My mom’s strength has served as an example to me to work hard and do what’s in my control, then enjoy life with a positive attitude and not focus on the elements over which I have no control.”

Today’s post and image are contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. Read more about Katy’s experience in her article, “Steadiness,” in Seeing the Everyday No. 20, pp. 80-83. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com

New Year’s Resolutions? Bring them on!

In Uncategorized on December 26, 2013 at 12:46 pm

goalsRachel Allison

Just over three years ago I was given an assignment that was overwhelming.  It was a forced “New Year’s Resolution” that was placed squarely on my shoulders, and I had no choice but to dig in, learn my responsibilities, rearrange my time commitments, and prioritize.  It was grueling!  Sixteen months later, the project was completed, and it turned out to be amazing!  I learned something about myself that I hope I never forget. ** I can do anything! ** (Well, almost anything…)

With the eagerness for accomplishment and growth that January 1st always brings, last January 1st I set three major goals for myself to be accomplished in 2013.  By mid February I realized that I’m a one-project kind of woman.  I unapologetically put goals number 2 and 3 on hold and began focusing on goal #1.

Remembering the forced attentiveness to my prior assignment, I tackled my #1 goal with the same determination and concentrated effort.  I divided my goal into five smaller segments, and gave myself a time line to complete each.  The target dates were my children’s birthdays. So the first segment was to be completed by May 16th.  After that, June 16th, July 30th, August 21st, and October 15th became target dates. These dates were my motivation to pace myself, and not allow for procrastination.

I set up my workstation near my kitchen…in fact as I cooked and washed dishes it was in full view.  Visually that encouraged daily attention.

The first segment was the most difficult and time consuming because I had to figure out the process and computer program that was going to help me with the rest of the project.  But I kept at it.  Of course there were situations and other temporary priorities that set me back a week or two periodically.  But I was determined!  I had to tweak my time lines a bit, but for the most part my goals were realized. Computer problems (grrrrrr!) made for a difficult ending, but on November 5th I finished the project!  What a great feeling!  What a conquest of my time! What a victory for self-discipline!

I’ve known for several weeks what my number one goal for 2014 is going to be.  And I’m sure it will take me all year to accomplish it.  However…three days ago I decided to add a goal #2.  It too is pretty lofty….hmmm.  Come February or March I may be backing out of one of them.  But I have the confidence that with time scheduling and a lot of self-discipline I’ll be just as pleased with my 2014 as I was with my 2013.  I’m here to tell you that if I can do it, anyone can!

1.  Set goals that can be measured…the more specific the better.

2.  Share your goal with someone you trust to encourage completion.

3.  Imagine the satisfaction you will experience when you reach your goal.

4.  Use that imagining to help you eliminate everything that hinders you from goal completion. (time wasters)

5.  Celebrate the mini successes you reach throughout the year.  They will keep you going.

You know yourself.  Make a list of what will help you make and keep your 2014 goal (s.)

Let’s do this!  2014….Bring it on!!!

**With fervent prayer, discipline, and sacrifice.**

United Families International Wishes you “Merry Christmas!”

In Uncategorized on December 25, 2013 at 5:11 am

Merry Christmas 1Families are what Christmas is all about.  It was the formation of a new family on that Christmas Eve some two thousand years ago that literally changed the world.   We at United Families International wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that you are each enveloped in the warmth of this very special time of year.

We’ll be back in a few days…

Merry Christmas one and all!

“Inevitability” and the Russian Renewal

In Uncategorized on June 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

MoscowCarol Soelberg

The headlines have been blaring the news: “Majorities Say Same-Sex Marriage is inevitable.”  People who opposed same-sex marriage are “on the wrong side of history,” they claim. I’ve heard claims of “inevitability” before; history is laced with them. But I can think of no other more profound rebuttal to the “inevitable” way of thinking than what we are seeing in today’s Russia.

Those of you who grew up and lived through the “Cold War” era and carried around a deep-seated fear of Communist Russia and the devastation that they could and were raining down upon the world, may have a bit of a difficult time believing what I’m about to explain.  I Cold war.jpgcertainly have.  

Several years ago, we at United Families International began noticing in our UN work a marked shift of focus and involvement of the UN delegates from Russia.  Formerly, the mostly quiet Russian delegates would speak out on economic and some foreign-policy related issues, but rarely on social issues. 

Boy, has that changed!  The Russians have become some of our most articulate, consistent and passionate allies on issues related to protecting religion, traditional values, marriage and family and the unborn. The last few years, their delegation has been crucial to the success of the pro-family/pro-life effort at the UN.  The anti-family forces have recognized the change too and now regularly target the Russian Delegation with their rhetoric and their wrath.  So why this remarkable, and for some of us unbelievable, change?  

Let me state from the onset that the country of Russia continues to have many serious geo-political, economic and social problems.   But when one considers the question of swings of history and the “inevitability” of time’s relentless march towards leftist public policies and anti-family ideology, Russia must surely give all who espouse conservative and traditional values a measure of profound hope.

Religion

For 70 years the Soviet Union attempted to stamp out religion and replace it with universal atheism.   The communist regime ridiculed religion, confiscated religious assets and property, harassed religious individuals, and promoted “science” and atheism in schools.  Religion was tolerated as long as it was kept private or in designated areas, but any public display was strictly forbidden.   The Soviet Union during those decades was arguably the least religious population on the planet.

Yet today, Russia has emerged as Europe’s most God-believing nation with 82 percent of those polled responding that they were religious believers. Although the definition of a “religious believer” can be debated, the trend line continues toward more religiosity – not less.  Earlier this year, Russian president, Vladimir Putin stated the Orthodox Church should be given more say over marriage and family life, education, social development and strengthening the patriotic spirit of the armed forces.  We see the resurgence of a traditional religious perspective manifesting itself in both domestic and international Russian politics and policies – including at the UN.

Life

Russia’s history of abortion has been a tragic one, beginning in 1921, when Russia became the first country in the world to allow abortion in all circumstances (abortion was criminalized during the period from 1936-1955 after which it was legalized again).  In 1991, the Russian abortion rate peaked at 275 abortions performed for every 100 live births! This astronomically high abortion rate has declined dramatically.  For example, in the year 2012 for every 100 live births there were 43 abortions performed.  Though this rate is clearly too high, the trend line is highly encouraging.

There are many things that contribute to the rapid and continuing decline of abortion in Russia, but certainly at the top of the list are concerns over a falling birthrate and plunging population numbers.  As Russian leaders began to understand the magnitude and the implications of their country’s population implosion, policies were put in place to encourage families to have more children and even to compensate them.

In 2011 abortion laws were changed that allow abortion up to 12 weeks with exceptions made up to 22 weeks for rape or the life of the mother.   There continues to be a significant and successful pro-life effort in the country seeking to protect the unborn from the moment of conception.

Marriage and family

Same-sex marriage is not allowed in Russia and public opinion regarding homosexual behavior tends to be negative.  Earlier this year, law makers proposed a bill that would out law all “homosexual propaganda.”  Some ten regions of Russia currently have laws banning “propaganda of homosexualism among minors.”  Recently it was announced that Russia would ban same-sex foreign couples from adopting children citing the strong belief that children need a married mother and father.

Russian<br /><br />
Orphanage.jpg” src=”<a href=https://d1yoaun8syyxxt.cloudfront.net/ufi-6d60295e-35d5-4852-9abc-5fe7223a90ba-v2&#8243; width=”173″ height=”117″ align=”left” hspace=”5″ vspace=”5″ />The early days of the Communist revolution saw an intense effort to replace the family with government and marriage with alternate relationships.  But it wasn’t many years before they modified that part of the plan finding out that children need their parents.  In spite of continual efforts to insert “community” in place of the traditional family, the Communist’s efforts to supplant the family were largely unsuccessful.  Many observers of the era have concluded that it was family relationships that were the glue that kept the Russian society and culture in place over those decades. It was the family that was the bulwark against oppression and government over-reach.   Support for traditional marriage and family continues strong in today’s Russia.
 
Traditional Values and Morals

UN General<br /><br />
Assembly room.jpg” src=”<a href=https://d1yoaun8syyxxt.cloudfront.net/ufi-ezduqbckomhhdvyvzknkkoltgeaggoxh-v2&#8243; width=”157″ height=”118″ align=”right” hspace=”5″ vspace=”5″ />The Russian Federation believes in traditional morals and values, so much in fact, that last year they introduced a UN Resolution in support of traditional values to the UN Human Rights Council.  This unique resolution met the proverbial “buzz saw” as anti-family forces disliked its emphasis on religion and saw it as an attempt to thwart their radical agenda of worldwide abortion on demand, sexual and gay rights, and other anti-family ideologies.  The battle to reach consensus and approval for this resolution continues with the tenacious Russian delegation leading it forward.
   
History is on the side of the natural family

What has occurred in Russia over the last 90 years is a perfect case in point that the destruction of the family and the tenets of liberalism and secularism, in all their facets, cannot stand the test of time.  The Russians have tried it; they know it doesn’t work.  Russia now knows the importance of the family and traditional values/morals and they are changing laws and public policies to reflect that crucial understanding.
 
Now we are not naïve as to the numerous problems that exist in Russia and recognize that there are many who still question the country’s political motives, but none can refute that there has been a remarkable renaissance of religious, pro-life and pro-family values.
 
Russia,<br /><br />
Moscow.jpg” src=”<a href=https://d1yoaun8syyxxt.cloudfront.net/ufi-0f00e5d6-e8d8-4085-b1ad-4b544b2a2cbd-v2&#8243; width=”177″ height=”108″ align=”left” hspace=”5″ vspace=”5″ />We also want to make you aware of the location of the World Congress of Families 2014 (WCF).  It will be held in Moscow, Russia, and we encourage you to plan to attend. We are told that some of the WCF meetings will be held inside the Kremlin.  Even as I write that sentence I am amazed – a conference on the importance of religion, marriage, family, and the lives of the unborn to have events held in the Kremlin!  Again, who would have thought…

I end with these quotes from leaders of the Russian pro-family effort:

 “I grew up when Christianity was not welcome. Now I live in absolutely a different country. I’m inviting you to our country with the support of our government.” – Konstantin Malofeev
 
“There is a huge spiritual revival in Russia.  Now is the time to have a new pro-family union.  We need support from the international community–it is important to show that there are people in the West fighting for traditional families.” -  Alexy Komov

As for the future of same-sex marriage in the U.S., we strongly encourage you to read Ryan Anderson’s article “Inevitability is a Choice We Can Reject.”    Nothing is “inevitable” when educated people act on the truth they know.

What all Girls Should Know before Having Sex

In Abstinence, AIDS, Child Development, Cohabitation, Education, Feminism, Health Care, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Research, Sex Education, Uncategorized, Values on April 16, 2013 at 11:59 am

Miriam Grossman

Rachel Allison

Dr. Miriam Grossman, M.D. worked at a campus counseling center for more than 10 years.  The young women who came to her were in crisis. They were “working hard to fulfill their dreams:  a college education, maybe grad school, a great career, and—at some point—a home, husband, and kids.”  But they come to her office in tears because of struggles and setbacks caused by decisions and regrets. “She’s already involved with the wrong guy, or infected with genital warts or herpes.  She’s already lost a great relationship, missed an opportunity, or failed a midterm.  I’m her doctor, but all I can do is sit there, listen, and hand her tissues.”

Dr. Grossman’s book “Unprotected” should be a must read for every teenager in the United States, Canada, England, France…ok, the world. But until parents and youth leaders can get them their must read copy, here are a few things Dr. Grossman has prepared for young women to read before the regrets begin …information young girls should know before sexual intimacy.

1.  Intimacy promotes attachment and trust.

Intimate behavior floods your brain with a chemical that fuels attachment. Cuddling, kissing, and sexual contact release oxytocin, a hormone that announces: “I’m with someone special now. Time to switch love on, and caution off.  When oxytocin levels are high, you’re more likely to overlook your partner’s faults and take risks you otherwise wouldn’t…

When it comes to sex, oxytocin, like alcohol, turns red lights green.  It plays a major role in what’s called “the biochemistry of attachment.”  Because of it, you could develop feelings for a guy whose last intention is to bond with you. You might think of him all day, but he can’t remember your name.

2.  Science confirms:  alcohol makes him hot…when he’s not.

Science has confirmed the existence of “beer goggles”—when a person seems more attractive to you after you’ve had a few drinks….Drinking affects the nucleus accumbens, the area of the brain used to determine facial attractiveness.  It’s probably one of several reasons that casual, high-risk sex is often preceded by alcohol consumption.

3.  A hook-up usually leads to regret.

A recent study of  the hook-up culture at Princeton University reveals:  Before the hook-up, girls expect emotional involvement almost twice as often as guys; 34% hope “a relationship might evolve.”  Guys, more than girls, are in part motivated by hopes of improving their social reputation, or of bragging about their exploits to friends the next day.

After the hook-up: 91% of girls admit to having feelings of regret, at least occasionally.  Guilt and ‘feeling used’ are commonly cited, and overall, 80% of girls wish the hook-up hadn’t happened. Other studies have shown: 84% of women said that after having sex a few times, …they begin to feel vulnerable and would at least like to know if the other person cares about them.

As the number of casual sex partners increased, so did signs of depression in college women.  49% of students whose hook-up included intercourse never see one another again, and less than 10% of “friends with benefits” develop into romances.

4.  A younger cervix is more vulnerable to infection.

Your cervix, the entrance to your uterus, has a vulnerable area one cell thick, called the transformation zone. It’s easy for HPV (the human papillomavirus, which can cause genital warts, and even cervical cancer) to settle there. That’s why most teen girls are infected from one of their first sexual partners.  By adulthood the transformation zone is replaced with a thicker, tougher surface.  So it’s wise to delay sexual activity, or, if you’ve already started, to stop.

Even though these infections are common, and usually disappear with time, learning you have one can be devastating. Natural reactions are shock, anger, and confusion. “Who did I get this from, and when? Was he unfaithful? Who should I tell?” and hardest of all: “Who will want me now?”

These concerns can affect your mood, concentration, and sleep.  They can deal a serious blow to your self-esteem…and to your GPA.

The HPV vaccine is a major achievement, but the protection it provides is limited.  You are still vulnerable to other infections like herpes, Chlamydia, HIV, and non-covered strains of HPV.  And of course no vaccine prevents a broken heart.

5.  He may not know he has HPV or herpes.

Most guys who have a sexually transmitted infection don’t know it….it’s easiest to transmit herpes or HPV when warts or sores are present, but it can also happen at other times, when everything looks OK. Condoms only reduce the risk by 60-70%.

6.  The rectum is an exit, not an entrance.

And about those other sexual activities…

Having more than five oral-sex partners has been associated with throat cancer. Turns out that HPV can cause malignant tumors in the throat, just like it does in the cervix.

In a study of sexually active college men, HPV was found both where you’d expect—the genital area—and where you wouldn’t: under fingernails.  Yes, you read that right.  Researchers now speculate whether the virus can be shared during activities considered “safe,” like mutual masturbation.

According to the Centers for disease Control, approximately 30% of all women will have had anal intercourse by the age of 24.  Even with condoms, this behavior places them at increased risk of infection with HIV and other STDs.  For example, the risk of HIV transmission during anal intercourse is at least 20 times higher than with vaginal intercourse.

The government website, www.fda.gov, provides no-nonsense advise about avoiding HIV:  “Condoms provide some protection, but anal intercourse is simply too dangerous to practice.”

The rectum is an exit, not an entrance.  Anal penetration is hazardous.  Don’t do it.

“Young women are bombarded with the message: “Exploring and experimenting—as long as you’re “protected”—can be safe, satisfying, and beneficial.”

“Don’t fall for it.  It’s easy to forget, but the characters on Grey’s Anatomy and Sex in the City are not real.  In real life, Meredith and Carrie would have warts or herpes.  They’d likely be on Prozac or Zoloft.  Today a woman cannot have so many partners with paying a price….We’re fighting a horde of bugs, and the bugs are winning.  It’s no longer enough to communicate with your “partners,” get tested, and use condoms.”

“Any genital contact with another person is a serious matter. A single encounter can have life-long consequences, especially for a woman. That’s not sexist, that’s biology—your biology. Ignorance or denial of this fact will only increase your vulnerability.”

“You’re in control, it’s all in your hands.  The distress that often follows casual sex is 100% preventable.  Life may throw you some curve balls, but STDs, and encounters you’d rather forget, are burdens that you can avoid.”

“Listen to the lesson of hard science:  It’s wise to be very, very careful about who you allow to get intimately close to you.”

Dr. Grossman concludes:  “I believe in you.  And I don’t want to see you in my office.  Now go pursue your dreams.”

This information was taken from the booklet, Sense & Sexuality, prepared by Dr. Miriam Grossman for college coeds.

Where’s the Proof that Video Games Promote Violence?

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm

violent video gamesRebecca Mallory

If you haven’t been bombarded with an endless litany of pros and cons concerning violent video games, guns, second ammendment rights, reasons why we need to “revamp” that dusty old constitution thing, etc., then you obviously live under a rock with no ties to the outside world.  Inimical chatter is only getting louder and more vociferous attempting to prove who’s wrong and who’s right. How about we use some critical thinking skills and then make up our own minds?

Remember clear back in 2007? When anyone who owned shoes and could chew gum could make money?  The economy was booming, government regulators had not yet crawled from the swamps… remember those days? My husband and I had an acquaintance approach us and explain this pretty great way to make some fast money by investing in an exploding industry: video games. This new game (I honestly can’t remember the name of it!) Was supposed to far surpass “World of Warcraft” and be the hot new item. Now, being one of nine children, eight of us girls, and having four daughters, I had close to zero experience with video games – unless “Donkey Kong” gives me any credibility. (Incidentally, my husband announced over the pulpit last week at church that I am addicted to Instagram. Does that count? Thanks dear…)

Violence as a business

This business presentation started with statistics on the demographics of the millions of online gamers, what gaming entailed, how they spent their money to beef up their game, have greater chances of winning, become stronger, more buff (is that still a word?) or whatever. They could play people all over the world! I was dumbfounded, intrigued and spellbound. Wow! That’s incredible! What a blast! The presenter then went on to imply how it was so cool because these gamers could be the biggest nerds ever at work, come home to an empty house, turn on their computer, log onto this game, create their character, and voila! They became the man/woman they’d always dreamt of: beautiful, rich, famous, etc. He admitted that a teeny weeny downside could be that these people sometimes had a more difficult time relating to coworkers, neighbors, even family members because of their intense desire to be their imaginary personae.  So what? He/she didn’t need these people anyway, because he/she would soon be in the middle of their fantasy world living their dream. All they needed was their PC and a credit card. Wasn’t that awesome that we could “help” people like that??

We didn’t commit that night as we wanted to talk about it. We both had that sick feeling inside like when you eat six Krispy Kremes before you even realize it.  How could we consciously be part of such a revolting industry that preyed on the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of others? Who, out of their desperation, would pay any amount just to live a few moments of fantasy?  It suddenly seemed so eerily dark.  Something about money being the root of all evil came to mind. But the return on our investment seemed to be instant and endless. How could we pass that up?

Well… many may think we were brainless, but we said no. The only other experience I have with video games is simply observing my grandchildren as they play seemingly harmless games on the computer, iPad, Tablets, iPhones.  I thought it was difficult keeping my own kids from the TV for hours on end in the ‘80’s, but now technology is at our fingertips, in every room, car, and store. Are there any lingering effects?

Only a bazillion studies have been done on this subject and the answers seem to favor that group trying to prove their particular point. Some say video games are perfectly fine: that they promote dexterity, improved peripheral vision, decision making, etc. Probably true. What are the negatives?  Being that this is an above-average intelligent audience, I’m not going to answer that. Even Justice Antonin Scalia said, “Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively,”

Well, ok then! There you have it! Video games must be ok! Straight from the highest court in the land….

Common Sense

Here’s my thought. Can we please use our own brain for one millisecond?  If you need the government or some university brainiac study to tell you that your kid needs to play with other actual (not virtual!) kids, or that he/she needs to get outdoors and get some exercise on a real (not virtual!) bike or swimming pool, then you may as well grab that other console or joy stick and stare at the screen for hours on end right along with them.

Still aren’t sure there are any downsides to video games? – especially violent video games, here are a few things to think about. Studies show that most parents have no idea about the content or ratings of their children’s video games. Most are just happy that the kids are quiet and not bugging each other. Big deal, right?  Prolonged exposure to violent video games show that many boys are much more aggressive at home, school, and are more defiant to authority in direct relation to the content of their video games. Why would this be shocking to anyone? How do children usually learn? Through constant repetition. One psychologist observed,

 “…violent acts are continually repeated throughout the video game. This method of repetition has long been considered an effective teaching method in reinforcing learning patterns because players are able to make decisions affecting the actions of the character they are imitating. After a limited amount of time playing a violent video game, a player can “automatically prime aggressive thoughts” (Bushman & Anderson, 2002, p. 1680). [emphasis added]

The researchers concluded that players who had prior experience playing violent video games responded with an increased level of aggression when they encountered confrontation. This study goes on to say that aggressive affects are not immediate but are gradual and increase over time.

Recently, the NY Daily News printed an article by Mike Lupica who broke a story on the New Town, Connecticut shooter, Adam Lanza, and his obsession with violent video games. Apparently Lanza was trying to “score” a high body count and earn killing “points” according to “Call of Duty” his game of choice. He allegedly had been planning this travesty over many years and in great detail. Why did he choose Sandy Hook Elementary? Simple. It was a no gun zone. No opposition, and more importantly, he could score the most “points” by killing the most people possible. He even killed himself to earn those “points”. He made sure that the policemen didn’t earn points for killing him first. Wow… because of an obsessive video game addiction.

Adam Lanza must have not been aware of the strict anti gun laws in Connecticut. Surely he would have never committed this horrific crime if he had! Did it make any difference? How many lives would have been saved had armed guards been there to protect those innocent children? But I digress… this is not a second amendment article. This is a “what’s the big deal with violent video games?” article. You need to figure it out for you and your own family. But never fear! President Obama has proposed a $10 million study on “the relationship between video games, media images and violence.” The study has not gotten congressional approval.

Gee, I wonder what they’ll find out. I mean, think about it. What happens to you when you do and see something over, and over, and over? What happens when you continue to practice the piano over and over and over? Throw a baseball over and over and over? Cook the same dish over and over and over?  Does it affect your proficiency? Of course.  You don’t need someone else with twelve letters behind their name, or “US Department of______” to tell you that. Hey… I think I just saved the government $10 million.

Not sure I’ll hold my breath before congress calls to thank me. Gotta go… Instagram calling!

CSOPE… Coming to a School Near You?

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2013 at 8:51 am

CScope

Rebecca Mallory

What do George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Patrick Henry and Ronald Regan have in common? Well, if you ask a child who has been educated with CSCOPE instructional material, those names might not ring a bell. Neither would “American exceptionalism”, rugged individualism or Christopher Columbus’s devotion to his Christian God. Ask that child what the “Boston Tea Party” was about and he/she just might tell you that it was one of the first acts of terrorism. Shocked? Well get used to it because CSCOPE is presently being taught in over 800 schools in conservative Texas… yes, I said Texas, and its proponents are pushing its expansion in schools K-12 across the United States.  You’re likely chuckling and thinking, “Certainly not my child’s school!” Please read on.

If CSCOPE does not ring a bell, “Common Core” may. Though they are touted as different, they are both frighteningly filled with indoctrination of our youngest and most vulnerable. CSCOPE was adopted in 2006 and was not referred to as curriculum but rather instructional material and could thereby hopefully circumvent State Board of Education scrutiny. Teachers were allegedly forced to sign documents promising not to share lesson plans with parents.

“Complaints came mostly from teachers over criminal penalties they could receive for the release of lesson plans, the rigid timetables for delivering the lessons, the requirement to read from the curriculum verbatim, and the effectiveness of what is being taught in the classroom.”

How are these courses different from what you and I learned?

Content outlines can easily be reviewed at the following website http://www.cscope.us/faq.html, but here are a couple of examples of what Texas children are learning via CSCOPE which seems to not be bothered with truth in dusty “old” textbooks.   Rather the “… goal of curriculum should not be the coverage of content, but rather the discovery of content. … If done well, Common Core will elevate our teaching to new heights, and emphasize the construction of meaning, while deepening our understanding of our students.”

How’s that for scary?

Some of the lesson plans include, asking students to “design a flag for a new socialist nation.” One Texas school had some girls dress in burqas so that they could appreciate the value of Sharia law. These same girls will not learn of the Liberty Bell, why Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, or exceptional American military history. What they will study is social justice, political correctness, imperialism, instruction on American propaganda, “fairness” and the virtues of other governments like Communism and Socialism, and the evils of Capitalism.

Uncovering this controversial system of education, thanks to Texas state Senator Dan Patrick and others, has forced CSCOPE enthusiasts to remove some questionable material and make lesson plans public. During the hearings one “veteran Algebra teacher almost broke down in tears as he told of having to quit his teaching job recently because he was required to teach CSCOPE.  He said he could not look his students in the eyes, knowing that he was “aiding and abetting ignorance…and giving them an allusion of an education.” (from Conservative Teachers of America).

That may be the most damning aspect of all; that the goal is indoctrination, not honest education. When will we, as parents and educators, have the courage to return to demanding that our children are taught the truth; the good and bad of America and other countries and their histories? No sugar-coating… just the truth. What have been the consequences of human behavior to various societies? How does human behavior affect governments and legislation? Critical thinking about true history will restore and educate our children. Who’s teaching that?

Meanwhile, if your kid asks you to make a burqa for a class project tomorrow, you may want to be a “teacher’s helper.”

 

Reader Poll: “Is it helpful to the cause of religious freedom to have clergy and congregation participate in ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’?”

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Here’s the question we asked UFI readers:

“Is it helpful to the cause of religious freedom to have clergy and congregation participate in ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’?”

Here’s how readers responded:

82 percent       Yes

 9 percent        No

9 percent         Unsure

There wasn’t a huge response to this poll question and we suspect that it is because few people understood what “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” is all about.  During October each year hundreds of pastors and preachers join in “a calculated act of civil disobedience aimed squarely at the IRS.”

Their goal is to draw attention to what they believe is an unconstitutional law in the tax code that stops them from addressing political candidates and controversial policy issues from the pulpit.  These pastors are hoping the IRS will come after them and then the tax code law can be challenged.

These pastors and the legal groups supporting them are confident that they can get the law overturned and once again allow all pastors to always speak freely in their own churches.  What is interesting is that the numbers who participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” has been increasing each year (more than 1500 this year) and yet none of the pastors have been challenged by the IRS.  These pastors even send video tapes of their sermons to the IRS!

We at UFI make no claim as to knowing whether or not this approach is good or bad, but we were curious to see what our readers think.

 

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