Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Spanish Church

I visited my friend's Spanish church this week. I had a wonderful time and may even go back sometime.

The first thing I noticed was that everyone was dressed up. American churches tend to be more casual. In my church it's a mix, but it's kind of neat how many of us show up in Patriot jerseys on game-day. The second thing I noticed was the number of young men. Not just present but participating. In all my years and in all the dozens of churches I've ever attended in my life I've never seen that before. Clearly they are doing something right.

It was completely in Spanish but the Pastor's (adult) daughter translated the sermon on the mic. It made me think of xenophobic Americans who complain about the occasional Spanish translations. They gladly extended grace to me and my non-Spanish speaking. And not just a little sign or a "press two for English" either. An all out translation- interrupting the sermon every. single. sentence.I felt a little bad for her because it seemed like a lot of pressure to come up with a translation on the spot like that in front of all these people, many of whom spoke both languages. Especially because there were a lot of names that she has probably never had to say in English ever before in her life: Elijah, Elisha, Manasseh, Reuben, Ishmael, Ephraim and Esau. And yes, every one of those was mentioned.

One of the worship songs was salsa style which was fun cuz I kind of felt like I was in a club. But I was in the house of the Lord. Which is kind of what the house of the Lord should feel like sometimes. I appreciated when the song lyrics were projected because I could at least sing along even if I didn't know exactly what they meant. There was one that had a word like, "Guerrilla" in every line and I was so curious what that meant but when I look up that spelling on Google-translate I get nothing.

The pastor was so excited about the word. He showed us the scrap of paper he had written the sermon on and instructed us to be sure to write down what God tells us so we don't forget. The message was so long, he said, it had to be broken into two parts. Next week is on Elijah and Elisha. This week he talked about the special inheritance that the firstborn gets. How the firstborn male gets 2/3rds of his father's money and land. He told the story of how Esau sold his rights to his younger brother Jacob. He told how Reuben blew his chance at his inheritance by sleeping with his step mother. And how God led Jacob to reverse the inheritance between Joseph's sons Manasseh and Ephraim. My son's middle name is Manasseh (named after Joseph's son in the Bible). I was inspired to go home and tell him the story of Joseph. So I did. When I said that Joseph had a son he named Manasseh, which means "God has made me forget my troubles" he was like, "That's my name!"

The pastor talked about how the first in the family to come to the Lord is like the first born and they have a responsibility to lead the rest of the family in spiritual matters. And he said that we should not throw away God's blessing by walking outside of His will. When he got to the tale of the Prodigal Son he said that this was the big revelation he had, or the thing that the Lord revealed to him. And he said that it was that the older brother was "protecting his 2/3rds share" and that contributed to him being so upset about the brother being back.  I thought that was a strange revelation and even stranger the excitement it caused the pastor. But maybe I'm misunderstanding.  There's probably more next week.  Nevertheless it was a good word.

Everyone in the church was just so zealous for the Lord. It was so refreshing. A woman who sang a solo cried during the song and the translator (inexplicably) cried during the sermon. They were just very touched by God. My friend's one year old daughter raised her hand and said hallelujah. (Speaking of which, they pronounce the "j" in that word, whereas English speakers don't. Strangely that is the opposite of how the "j" is pronounced in any other word in those languages). At the end there was an alter call for people who wanted to give their life to the Lord, something I haven't seen in years, since I left the Assembly of God church I once went to. It made me remember why I liked that church so much. There was prayer at the alter (which means the front of the sanctuary). More crying there of course. And then I saw something I've never ever seen before. A little girl - maybe four years old slain in the spirit. It wasn't anything dramatic. She was just laying there. They even put a blanket on her after a little while. Then she got up and ran back to her parents. Skeptics might say she was just copying what she's seen in the past. I'd like to believe it was the Holy Spirit. Either way, it showed just how very Christ centered this church was. It was so refreshing.

At the end everyone invited me to the Tuesday night bible study. Three hours of church is plenty for me for one week. lol. But I can't get the service out of the head. I do want to go back sometime.  


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why protest GMO's?

Perhaps you've seen food products that claim "no GMO ingredients". GMO, meaning Genetically Modified Organisms- those scientifically bred grains and produce that the scientist change to make them "better". Perhaps you've wondered "what's the big deal with GMO's?" Like me, maybe you thought- we've been breeding plants since the beginning of time. What's so different about it now? And perhaps you've even heard about the really good things that's come out of genetic modification, like changing crops to increase disease and pest resistance. I mean, how can you argue with a picture like this?
The centre row of potatoes has been genetically engineered to resist pest attack. The others have not.


So what is the big deal about GMO's? Well, back in 2003 when the human genome was completely mapped out, there were found to be only 23,000 genes. About the same number as mice and only twice the number of worms. What this means is that, clearly one gene doesn't control one protein or one trait. Each gene effects many many different things. So when we change the basic genes of an organism, there are going to be many ramifications that we can't possibly predict. And once it is introduced to the environment it can quickly cross pollinate with unaltered varieties.

The company behind genetically modified organisms has been known for egregious ethical actions. They seem to have no moral boundaries and their motivation behind this biology is far from altruistic. This company is Monsanto. Perhaps you are familiar with their creation: Agent Orange - a chemical used in the Vietnam war that caused numerous diseases in our soldiers. Monsanto makes and sells "RoundUp" weed control. While this may seem like a small market household product, it is actually an enormously profitable farming product. Here's the punch-line: the genetic modification is not about creating stronger crops or more robust crops or crops that produce more fruit. The goal of the modification is simply to resist RoundUp - enabling farmers to use it liberally. More importantly, the seeds are also modified so as to not allow a second generation of crops. The seeds are only good for one year. This makes farmers reliant on Monsanto for their seed supply. Farmers who have no interest in these seeds are vulnerable to seed contamination from nearby farms from wind and animal transmission.  It routinely scares or sues farmers in this situation. One Canadian farmer, Schmeiser, who was sued by Monsanto was accused him of illegally planting their crops when his field was contaminated by a nearby farm. He went bankrupt fighting Monsanto but eventually won after taking them all the way to the Supreme Court. Slowly taking over the seed market is a part of their insidious plan. They regularly buy out seed companies. Is a company like this supposed to be trusted with the best interest of our health?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Diet Coke

I've heard how overweight people have taken to drinking Diet Coke to lose weight and then actually get hooked on the taste. I thought it was funny... until it happened to me! Now I won't drink any other cola. It has to be Diet Coke. Yum.

I was telling my friend about this phenomenon and she said that Diet Coke has a lot more caffeine than regular coke. Almost double. I looked and she was right! She suggested that it's the caffeine that you are really hooked on. The more I think about it the more I'm convinced she is right! Your body associates the taste with the buzz! When there is diet coke around I don't just "like the taste" I have to have it.  The other day my brother and his wife took me to Chunky's - this theater that serves a meal during the movie.On the way there they asked me "What are you in the mood to eat?" and I was like, "I don't know. I just want a Diet Coke."

That said, I don't drink diet coke very often. Just when it's an option. But it's a great example of how our body can associate things subconsciously - how addiction works - and how a company can utilize this science. I've decided to pull out the old caffeine pills and take them, on occasion, with water. Give a positive association to that healthy drink. I've avoided using them but if I'm honest with myself I do function better with caffeine (and I don't like coffee unless it's loaded with cream and sugar. The last time I drank Dunkin Donuts for a week I gained five pounds. So that option is off the table).

I know that companies are always trying to manipulate our senses to influence our buying decisions. For instance there is research on the right smells to induce spending money. We should use these effective techniques in our own life. For instance - the smell thing - they say that men are most attracted to cinnamon. As well as a few other scents. "My" perfume is Angel, which has a bit of a vanilla smell to it, so I think I have this one covered though I'd be interested in finding a one with a hint of cinnamon.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Hampshire Primary

I was very excited to see the results!
Romney coming in first was to be expected but I was psyched that Ron Paul had a good showing and came in second! and absolutely thrilled that Huntsman came in third because in this quiz a lot of people match with Huntsman  - Democrats and Republicans alike. Yet "no one has heard of him" which is how his commercial ends around here... "How come we haven't heard of him?" So to hear that he is up and coming and THANK GOODNESS beating Santoro, makes me very happy. Honestly, I would be OK with Obama, Romney, Paul or Huntsman being our president so we are on the right track.


If that confuses you, let me explain... They each possess a little something that I believe in. Which is why I need to run for president so I can have it all.

With Obama- well, I'm a liberal democrat so he's my first choice. My vote really goes to healthcare policy more than anything.

With Romney- well he was a really good governor to my state. I trust his business sense. And his universal health care here in Massachusetts rocks.

With Huntsman: Like I was saying- So many others and I matched up with him, I just feel like he's a good, solid, middle of the road candidate.

Ron Paul - There's two halves to libertarianism in my mind. Keeping the government out of MY life. Heck yeah. I support that 100%. And keeping the government out of, well... everything else. I disagree vehemently there. I believe we take care of our own (social liberalism) and regulate the bleep out of corporations. So with Ron Paul I support 1/2 of his goal and feel like our country has strayed so far from that goal that we need someone radical like Paul to take us back, or at least bring light to the problem. There are other things he believes that are"outside the box" that I like about him. His theories on Iran, the CIA, the federal reserve, etc. I like that he doesn't just buy what the media tells.

Some of the personal freedoms that we need to go back to: (I've said them before but I don't feel like it can get discussed enough and these are specific examples of why I could support Paul despite being a liberal democrat)

  • Homeschooling rights
  • Take the power back from child protective services
  • Open-carry gun laws for all states (I believe this will reduce crime)
  • Raw milk freedom
  • Freedom to "play with" fireworks
  • Freedom to not wear a seat-belt if so inclined
  • Nurse Practitioners free from Physician oversight
  • Selling food! I want to sell pizza to my neighbors but it's not allowed from a residential kitchen.
  • Marijuana- Keeping this illegal is funding the Mexican drug war which is getting very serious and out of control and hurting our borders. Plus a waste of our taxpayer money and resources, contributing to overcrowded jails.
(Most of these, by the way are currently in place in good ole New Hampshire, of which I'm 30 miles to the south. Why don't I live there? )

Other personal freedoms, I'm not sure why Ron Paul doesn't support are abortion and gay marriage. (Both legal in NH though).

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

An Etheopian Tribe

I was watching a documentary on NatGeo about a tribe in Africa. It was very antiquated. We are all familiar with these societies. I've seen the pictures. I've even watched other shows about other tribes. And this one showed nothing that I wasn't already aware that existed out there. But seeing it with my own eyes was just mind boggling. I spent much of the show with my jaw physically dropped.

Some of the things that just astounded me:

  • The whole dowry thing. These men had to pay for their wives with entire herds of cows. The poorer men had to ask their friends to donate cows.  They would go through intense negotiations with the other family. Mostly involving the woman's family saying "we need more cows". Hands down the best quote was this father who said, "My daughter is beautiful. She is a hard worker. I will give her to..." (and I'm expecting him to say something like "a good man") but he finished with "the man who gives me the most cows".  Whaaaaaaa?
  • They showed a man buying a wife. Then they go to the wedding and the girl is thirteen!!!!  I nearly crapped my pants. I was so relieved when they said she would stay with her family until she was older.
  • Certain members of the tribe were very beautiful to me and others were ugly. It was interesting to me that even across different cultures we can still recognize this concept of beauty. Also, the people that they called beautiful were the same ones that I found beautiful.
  • I was absolutely shocked when they showed a woman grinding grain. She was scraping at it with a rolling-pin like tool. The narrator said she does this for three hours a day. It made me very grateful for my leisurely life and ashamed of the way I am annoyed by my own chores.
  • When all the men were away from the village some of the women sat with the camera crew and allowed themselves to be interviewed. They said they have a hard, sad life. :( They said they have no rights and that their husbands hold it over their heads that they bought them for a lot of cows. They say that many of their husbands are not good. They said that they would be beaten if the men knew that they were even talking to the camera crew. I was very sad for them.
  • The tribe finds it fashionable to dye their hair orange by rinsing their heads in COW PEE.  (Note: while the cow is peeing). The orange color was actually a kind of a natural, pleasant color, but seriously?? Cow pee?
  • This was perhaps the most disturbing thing: if a cow wasn't giving milk the young boys would stimulate it to give milk by "orally copulating" it. That's an exact quote. And the camera showed it, to my horror and captivation. 

I saw a lot of breastfeeding, which was very nice to see and in that small way I felt connected to the women: a common bond across cultures so different. We all love and feed and comfort our children the same.
    Two questions I had while watching it: how is it that some societies did not develop? Though I think I know the answer to that. I was reading about evolution and talked about how advances came about because of people coming together, learning from each other and contributing to the development of society and it gave the example of "the pencil story" which talks about how no one person can make a pencil. Can you cut the wood? Mine the graphite? Insert it in the middle? Create the eraser? Attach it with the fancy medal thing? Create the paint? Type the little letters: "no. 2" on the side? No. A simple pencil wouldn't exist without the cooperation of an enormous amount of people. So these nomadic, isolated tribes never had enough contact with other people.

    The second question I had was why black people often have blood shot eyes. I googled that and couldn't find the answer.

    So in conclusion, I basically walked away from the show very very grateful to be a woman in a nation of prosperity and freedom.

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