The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Blog Archive

Sep 30, 2009

This Is the End - Martha Brockenbrough

The dying words of famous people
By Martha Brockenbrough

This is my last column for Encarta, a job I've had for nine years. In the grand scheme, that isn't a lot of time. But it does amount to more than half of my career and about a quarter of my life, not to mention hundreds of thousands of words.
For me, anyway, it's a big deal.

There's a lot of pressure to make my last words here great ones, which is why I've been thinking about the subject with the help of a delightful little book compiled by Ray Robinson called "Famous Last Words: Fond Farewells, Deathbed Diatribes and Exclamations Upon Expiration." I'm not the first writer to have a little morbid fun with other people's dying utterances.

The novelist John Green in "Looking for Alaska" made last words his main character's hobby. The ones he credits to Leo Tolstoy are perhaps my favorite: "The truth is … I care a great deal … what they …."

What does he care a great deal about? What is on the lunch menu? What they discovered living in his giant, puffy beard? We'll never know -- and I do love a good mystery.
Maybe even more appropriate for me is the novel "elsewhere," by Gabrielle Zevin. It's about a dead 15-year-old whose last word is "um" -- oddly fitting for someone fatally interrupted in the midst of age-appropriate confusion.

"Um" almost works here.

It's much more honest than "I am ready," the last gasp of President Woodrow Wilson. It's more appealing than "Get my swan costume ready," last uttered by the ballerina Anna Pavlova.

(Besides, my family owns a one-size-fits-all chicken suit, which is very useful for lessons in the difference between lie and lay.)

The question is: What do I really want someone else to say for me?
If I had regrets to express, I might quote the economist John Maynard Keynes, who said, "I wish I had drunk more champagne." If he'd lived to see this economy, he might have said a lot more. (Keynes was a big fan of public-works spending; it would be a celebratory thing.)

If I wanted to go for a good laugh, maybe I'd quote General John Sedgwick, a Union army commander.

"They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-" he said, just before he was fatally shot in the face. But really, there's only so much comedy you can milk out of fatal face shootings. (Non-lethal face shootings are a much more fertile subject. See Cheney, Dick: fun hunting trips with friends.)

If I were totally unethical, I could quote Warren G. Harding, one of our most corrupt presidents (and coiner of the word "normalcy.") As he lay dying, he said, "That's good. Go on, read some more," which I could say was his endorsement of my goal with this column: to interest people in a topic and encourage them to seek more knowledge.

That would be taking things wildly out of context, though. Harding's wife was reading a puff piece about him in the Saturday Evening Post and he didn't want the flattery to end. Then again, maybe taking things out of context is the right unethical way to honor Harding.
I could go for a bit of gauzy poetry, too. Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, illuminated his wife with a tantalizing message. "It's very beautiful over there," he said. (Was he going toward the light? Is heaven lit with 60-watt bulbs -- or more? And was Jennifer Love Hewitt's "Ghost Whisperer" there?)

I wish I could say that what's next for me with any certainty (beyond the compact fluorescent bulb, which is what I've stocked my office with). The truth is that the writer's life is much as the journalist and satirist Ambrose Bierce described in a letter before he disappeared in Mexico when he was 71.

"As to me," he wrote, "I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination."

So do I, and this is one of the hardest parts about making a living with words. You really don't know what's next, and unless you're James Patterson, there's no such thing as a sure thing. But that's also what keeps it interesting. That, and the great exchanges I've had with my editors and readers. Those are the connections that turn the act of making a living into a life full of joy and meaning.

I think, though, my favorite set of last words comes from Karl Marx. It's especially appropriate given that my first real newspaper article, written for my college newspaper 21 years ago, was about his associate Friedrich Engels. The headline read: "New Marks from Engels" -- a cheesy pun that still delights me.
Marx said, "Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."

I think that's good advice. And besides, I've had a glimmer of an idea about starting a whole new category of last utterances, one that reflects my work with the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

So I'm not going to give any last words here. Instead, I'm choosing a final bit of punctuation, the one that shows an omission, a pause, or a thought that's trailing off, or more hopefully, marching ahead. So go ahead, read my ellipsis, however you choose ...

A call for support

Anyone out there reading my blog (suffering through my tributes & diatribes) I need your help. I really want to grow my blog's followers so if you could forward, suggest, refer anyone to anything you find interesting on here, please do. Also, if you could go on to my blog to respond so the counters can pick up how many hits I've received, that would be awesome!

My goal is to start a series on the raising of boys from Bringing up Boys and Raising Cain that I've been listening to. I may create a separate blog for that though... thinking about it. As our girls reach adolescence it is clear to me how important it is for teens to know this stuff about the opposite sex and about themselves as well, in order to be better prepared for relationships in general. So I'm hoping to make this cross-generational.

Please lift me up in prayer for the strength to overcome my debilitating fear of failure. I have had some things placed on my heart for awhile to MOVE and the new message series at church is The Thin Place where He is saying "okay, get on with it, here it is, yes, go, yes this is Me, okay Becky, (sigh) again it goes like this....get out of your seat!" Yea, I can be a little SLOW and resistant to change (me? No way!) and I recognize it's purely fear driven.

And the pressure on our time is tremendous I have to admit. I have a library of books next to my bed & in our house on about numerous life issues that I haven't gotten to. Matt jokes me that he thinks you can pick up the content of the book by osmosis, if you read the title and what it's about, you pretty much get it (purely sarcastic) because I won't stop buying them but I don't get to them. I'm registering at college and trying to determine where to go (christian? secular? what? money?) and which path to take and how the heck I will fit that in to an already jam packed schedule. Caffeine no doubt will help.

So I call out to my friends & family to lift the calling up so that it can be used to help someone else in need. If passing on this information/knowledge helped one teen, one kid, one adult, one person move forward & succeed, it is worth it. Thank you RebeccaFM supporters! ;)

Sep 29, 2009

This American Life - Return to the Giant Pool of Money

If you haven't discovered This American Life yet - discover it. It's really a great show. We've ordered the DVD's from the library, short stories of This American Life, usually based on every day lives of Americans. This podcast link below is about the meltdown. Good Stuff (some subject matter is PG13+, so be careful)

Sep 27, 2009

My thought of the day

God created us to use us for His purpose. We don't do His work, He does His work through us if we allow ourselves to be used as His conduit. The problem is, as humans, we usually screw up the signal. - Rebecca

Someone made a comment on Facebook today, which put me back in to today's church message, where I felt moved to write down 2 things. The link between humans being created as God's conduit. I'm going to research that more (no stealing my message/angle on this) - the 2nd item, Mother Teresa. Maybe, just maybe, some people here on earth are used for conduit purposes. They have a connection that God uses to fulfill His purpose. I guess we label them prophets but that's not where I'm going here. The celtic term meaning "The Thin Place" - a God moment. Maybe some people are The Thin Place, where God works through.

More to come on this subject I'm sure.

Sep 24, 2009

Twenty Four - Switchfoot

I hadn't heard this before, was listening to random play on my IPod which has WAY too much music on it. I realized it's the 24th of September today. So I thought maybe it was meant for someone. Maybe me ;)

Twenty-four oceans
Twenty-four skies
Twenty-four failures
And twenty-four tries
Twenty-four finds me
In twenty-fourth place
With twenty-four drop outs
At the end of the day

Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty-four hours ago
Still I'm singing 'Spirit,
take me up in arms with You'
And I'm not who I thought I was
Twenty-four hours ago
Still I'm singing 'Spirit,
take me up in arms with You'

There's twenty-four reasons
To admit that I'm wrong
With all my excuses
Still twenty-four strong

See, I'm not copping out
Not copping out
Not copping out
When you're raising the dead in me

Twenty-four voices
With twenty-four hearts
All of my symphonies
In twenty-four parts
But I want to be one today
Centered and true
I'm singing 'Spirit take me up in arms with You'
You're raising the dead in me

I wanna see miracles
To see the world change
Wrestled the angel for more than a name
For more than a feeling
For more than a cause
I'm singing 'Spirit, take me up in arms with You'
And you're raising the dead in me

Twenty-four oceans
With twenty-four hearts
All of my symphonies
With twenty-four parts
Life is not what I thought it was
Twenty-four hours ago
Still I'm singing 'Spirit,
take me up in arms with You'
I'm not copping out
Not copping out

Sep 21, 2009

RebeccaFM Talk: Rebecca's Response

RebeccaFM Talk: Rebecca's Response

The Cougar/Menopause Connection

This is not my post - go to

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In her book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, Christiane Northrup, M.D. states the following about menopause: "No other stage of a woman's life has as much potential for understanding and tapping into women's power as this one -- if, that is, a woman is able to negotiate her way through the general cultural negativity that has surrounded menopause for centuries."

There is much to consider here as to the connection between the mind/body/emotional well-being of a menopausal woman and society's ferocious label of women as cougars.
For one thing, many women may not even realize the totality of what is going on within this trifecta of the self (mind/body/emotional well-being). They might think that menopausal symptoms are limited to hot flashes, diminishing bone density, weight gain, and bitchiness. As a result, they aren't able to communicate to their partners the sum of what is truly going on.
Factor in that, generally speaking,the communication gap between the sexes remains a Grand Canyonesque chasm and that a vast majority of men and women equate menopause with old, and it is easy to see how misunderstandings and preconceptions prevail. Plus, let's not forget the ways in which we are conditioned by the media and by human weakness to focus on and be consumed by the negative. But that's a topic to growl about another day. For now let's focus on positivity and understanding the connection between menopause and cougardom.

There is much more going on during the perimenopausal/menopausal phase than the myriad of symptoms mentioned above. To paraphrase Dr. Northrop, this is the time when a woman focuses on recreating her life to accomodate the values and dreams that she put on hold during the nurturing years. During menopause, a woman "is more apt to tell the truth than ever before . . . and less apt to make excuses for others. Many women quest for peace of mind against a background of turmoil and change . . .and explore new facets of their identity." We begin to answer the creative call within ourselves in any number of ways: we change jobs or begin a new career, go back to school, write (!), take voice, dance, or acting lessons, learn crafts and make jewelry, pottery, afghans, quilts, etc., actively speak out for social justice, run for office - you get the picture. This newfound freedom to take care of ourselves and our needs often leads to self-acceptance and a shedding of inhibitions, thereby freeing us to explore and experience new heights of both our sexuality and our creative expressions. Dr. Joan Borysenko calls these years a "midlife metamorphosis."

These years are not a preclude to the winter of a woman's life, but rather, a second spring to the latter half of her lifespan. This is something to celebrate, not to fear. Men struggling in relationships with menopausal women may want to shift their perspectives and view this stage of women's lives as a positive thing. It is when we, as women, come into our personal power (at least, the baby boomer women of my generation do. Younger generations of women may or may not be as strongly attached to the stigma of the male/female voice and the gender roles that dominated the 20th century).

We finally know who we are, what's truly important for our well-being, and how we can find balance in serving ourselves while we continue to serve others. Consequently, women feel rejuvinated and excited about their futures. If their partners don't go with the flow (ironic timing for that phrase, isn't it?), their relationships will often be in danger. The cougar's prowess to achieve self-fulfillment is now maximally heightened and she will abandon her den if she must. But usually, this will occur only when her mate does not appreciate or understand that she would rather venture into newfound freedoms of expression without abandoning her den so that she and her mate can venture on this journey together. If her mate is unwilling to accept this empowered female, she will seek acceptance elsewhere.

This may be where the most common label of cougar was born, for many men over 50 are not used to the idea of women being so outspoken, aggressive, self-assured, and independant. Younger men are because gender roles have been substantially modified in the past few decades. Thus, it has become more common for women to seek the company of and partnerships with younger men. It doesn't have to be this way.

The key is for a man in mid-life to recognize that, in a way, his mate is a whole new woman - she is renewed in that she is finally whole - and their relationship can begin anew as well, on a new footing with a stronger foundation, and deeper, more exciting experiences together - in and out of the boudoir. And for those of you men who spot single women in their forties and fifties out there 'on the prowl', don't assume that we are merely looking to hook up with young studs. Many of us are attractive, strong, self-assured, stable women who are just out with the girls, or out seeking mates who are courageous enough to journey with us through our second spring and beyond.

Sep 17, 2009

Another parental learning moment...

Here's a play by play surrounding our trip to last week's high school football game....

Kayla, first year at Woodinville High School, wants to go to the football game with her best friend and their group (3 girls, 2 boys). "Are her parents going?" "I don't think so". "Then we'll be going, we're not ready for unchaperoned football games". Yea, we're a bit slower then some parents....

Several times the discussion comes up that Ms. Friend's parents aren't going. and a small allusion (or Illusion on Kayla's part), that we're not going either... so sorry. :) Night of the game comes and wait! Who's going? Ahhhh, Ms. Friend's mother is going to "check out the social scene". Mmmmm, hmmmm - we're not the only slow parents on the block.

We park. An SUV opens next to us and a girl appears. Both of her shirts she is "wearing" are shredded and the only part left (thankfully) are very tiny parts of material covering her chest. It's bareness matches her barely there mini skirt, which ride under her hip bones, barely above the pubic area and hardly covering her butt cheeks.... I look over at her companion, who is dressed in a skin tight black tank, bare mid riff and short mini skirt. Hmmm, reminds me of the actress off of Transformers who dressed exactly this way for.... HIGH SCHOOL????

One of the girl's mom exits the SUV and follows the girls inside. I can't even say "I bet they sneaked those clothes out".

Off to the stands we go. As we enter, it gets so much better! Matt, Ms. Friend's mom & I turn our heads up to the stands - right at a young girls bare thighs. which are between her white thigh highs and pretty silver bows (smack dab out of Fredericks of Hollywood I'm sure) and the matching short netted see through ballerina skirt. Is it Halloween already I think? It thought this was a HS football game.

Oh, but wait. At least she has some sort of shorts on under the skirt. As we are inundated with partially nude young high school girls (please, I am not exaggerating), Ms. Friend's mom and I are chatting, getting to know each other - pleased that we are exactly alike in our parenting (I am SO happy to not be alone!) and concerns with our daughters. I turn my head to say something to Matt and look at a girls BARE butt.

Okay, I exaggerate. Because it's not "bare". She is wearing full lace white hose, the same netted ballerina skirt and a WHS shirt. Some parent said she had thong like shorts on but that was it. Her butt was bare under the whatever they were.

Okay, now I'm really angry. Who in the heck is administering this stadium and the game? Where are the adults who facilitate and manage the students?

I look around... where's the pole and when does the show start?

Then the girl with the white SEE THROUGH lycra short short short shorts walks by. I look over at Ms. Friend's mom who says "why get dressed at all?".

I'm looking around at all the men in the stands. I feel sorry for them because regardless of age, men are visual creatures. And we were handing our daughters on a plate to them for a visual feasting. It was disgusting.

We had discussed bringing the family down, getting Ryan excited for football - we didn't realize we'd be entering a strip joint.

I guess this is one more thing we'll keep away from for now. And Kayla, sorry - no unchaperoned visits to that football team.

Sep 16, 2009

What is real to you?

This is my answer to another blog ( I found today. Good stuff.

When I was about 9, I remember being outside by myself in the middle of our field. I clearly heard my name being called. There wasn't anyone around. I repeated this to my parents, who gently scoffed. I knew at that age, it was God speaking my name. Now, I don't know, maybe it wasn't but who are we to think He can't speak to us in a way we would actually hear him? It never happened again but God has moved through me at times, a feeling creeping through my skin, across my cheek and bringing tears to my eyes. I believe because I know it to be true. No longer because it's what I was brought up to believe. The trials of my life that have mysteriously turned in to the best, greatest and most blessed place ever. When I have worried about my daughters faith, mysteriously she opens up and shows what's on her heart. Him, speaking ever so gently to her soul. When my son brings his bible instead of another book to the table for his nightly reading. It's in those moments, I know no doubt.

Seattle may drop grad standard to D average

Just imagine the responses of parents all over the Seattle area. THis is insanity.
We are preparing a generation for take over because the more uneducated they are, the easier it will be to manipulate them. The unbelievable stupidity of this thought process, running amuck through those that are in positions of authority and decision making for our kids education, is becoming incredibly hard to ignore. To my conspiracy theorist mind, it's not stupidity but fulfilling a future agenda. Continuous dumbing down of Americans. I will post my response to the news story afterwards. It is hard enough being a parent in the normal road but when you start having to fight against the system where your kids spend the majority of their time, you've got to step up your influence because your time with them is limited and you're just a parent, who doesn't know anything by teen standards anyway!

SEATTLE - Seattle public school students could be able to graduate with a D average if a proposed change in policy is approved by the school board.

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has recommended the board do away with a requirement that students earn a C average to graduate.

The proposed policy change would also eliminate the requirement that athletes maintain a C average to play on school teams.

Parents surveyed by the district last year favor keeping the C-average requirement.

But officials, who planned to talk about the issue at a school board meeting on Wednesday evening, said they were following policies at other school districts.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the proposals Oct. 7.

Among other changes, the district is now counting an E grade when calculating grade-point averages, which it hadn't done for seven years. And for two years, students have had to pass a state test to graduate.

"We are, in fact, increasing rigor," said Susan Derse, a principal on special assignment who headed up a staff committee that made the recommendations.

Counselors hope the change would encourage some students to stay in school because they would have a greater chance of graduating and some would be more willing to try challenging classes.

Staff members have proposed other changes to the grading system such as allowing plus and minus grades and giving a grade-point bonus to students in honors classes.

District officials said they could not find another large school district in the state that required a C average for graduation, although a number require students to pass more classes than does Seattle.

The C average policy was put in place in 2000. At the time, many worried it could keep hundreds of students from graduating. That didn't happen, in part because the district stopped counting failing grades and allowed students to appeal if their average fell below a C.

Last year, the district granted C-average waivers to 95 students.

Sep 15, 2009

An answer to the Thermostat dillemma!

Focus on the Family
Understanding and Accepting Your Mate's Differences

We need to appreciate each other's uniqueness if we hope to live together in harmony.
by James Dobson, Ph.D.

The Gender Gap

My wife, Shirley, and I have been blessed with a wonderful relationship. She is my best friend, and I would rather spend an evening with her than with anyone else on earth. But we are also unique individuals and have struggled at times with our differences.

Our most serious conflict has raged now for forty-plus years, with no solution in sight. The problem is that we operate on entirely different internal heating mechanisms. I am very hot-blooded and prefer a Siberian climate. Shirley has ice in her veins and shivers even in warm surroundings. She has concluded that if we can have only one flesh between us, she's going to make it sweat! She will slip over to the thermostat at home and spin the dial to at least eighty-five degrees. All the bacteria in the house jump for joy and begin reproducing like crazy. Within a few minutes I start to glow and begin throwing open doors and windows. This ridiculous tug-of-war has been going on since our honeymoon and will continue till death do us part. In fact, there have been a few times when I thought death would part us over this difficulty!

What is interesting to me is how many other husbands and wives struggle with this problem. It also plagues men and women who fight over the office thermostat. Why is temperature such a pressure point? Because women typically operate at a lower rate of metabolism than men. This is only one of the countless physiological and emotional differences between the sexes that we must understand if we hope to live together in harmony.

Genesis tells us that the Creator made two sexes, not one, and that He designed each gender for a specific purpose. Take a good look at male and female anatomy and it becomes obvious that we were crafted to "fit" together. This is not only true in a sexual context but psychologically as well. Eve, being suited to Adam's particular needs, was given to him as a "help-meet." Man and woman were each divinely fashioned to complement the other.
We're Not Alike

Even a cursory examination of our biological differences can give us a greater appreciation for the unique and wonderful way we are made. Here is a quick rundown of a few:

1. Men and women differ in every cell of their bodies. This is because each carries a different chromosome pattern that is the basic source of their maleness or femaleness.
2. Women have greater constitutional vitality, perhaps because of this chromosome difference. Normally, women in the United States outlive men by three or four years.
3. Men have a higher rate of basal metabolism than women.
4. The sexes differ in skeletal structure, woman having a shorter head, broader face, less-protruding chin, shorter legs, and longer trunk. The first finger of a woman's hand is usually longer than the third; with men the reverse is true. Men's teeth typically last longer than do those of women.
5. Women have a larger stomach, kidneys, liver and appendix, and have smaller lungs.
6. Women have three important physiological functions totally absent in men — menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation. Each of these significantly influences behavior and feelings. Female hormonal patterns are more complex and varied than male. The glands work differently in the two sexes. For example, a woman's thyroid is larger and more active; it enlarges during menstruation and pregnancy, which makes her more prone to goiter, and is associated with the smooth skin, relatively hairless body, and thin layer of subcutaneous fat that are important elements in the concept of personal beauty. Women are also more responsive emotionally, laughing and crying more readily.
7. Women's blood contains more water (20 percent fewer red cells). Since red cells supply oxygen to the body, she tires more easily and is more prone to faint. Her constitutional viability is therefore strictly a long-range matter. When the working day in British factories under wartime conditions was increased from ten to twelve hours, accidents involving women increased 150 percent; the rate of accidents among men men did not increase significantly.
8. Men are 50 percent stronger than women in brute strength.
9. Women's hearts beat more rapidly (eighty vs. seventy-two beats per minute on average); blood pressure (ten points lower than men) varies from minute to minute; but they have less tendency to high blood pressure -- at least when the comparison is to women who have not yet experienced menopause.
10. Female lung capacity is about 30 percent less than in males.
11. Women can withstand high temperature better than men because their metabolism slows down less.1

And Even More Differences

In addition to these physiological differences, the sexes are blessed with a vast array of unique emotional characteristics. It is a wise and dedicated husband who desires to understand his wife's psychological needs and then sets out to meet them. Is she a morning person? If not, bring her a cup of coffee to help her start the day. Does she want to talk the moment she opens her eyes? It is unlikely -- but if she feels that way, set aside a few minutes each morning for casual conversation. An observant man can discover countless ways to serve and warm the heart of his wife.

The emotional differences between you and your partner will influence every aspect of your relationship. Briefly stated, in women, love is linked to self-esteem. For a man, romantic experiences with his wife are warm and enjoyable and memorable -- but are not considered necessary. For a woman, they are her lifeblood. Her confidence, her sexual response, and her zest for living are often directly related to those tender moments when she feels deeply loved and appreciated by her man. That is why flowers and candy and cards are more meaningful to her than to him. This is why she is continually trying to pull him away from the television set or the newspaper, and not vice versa. This is why the anniversary is critically important to her and why she never forgets it. That is why he had better not forget it!

This need for romantic love is not some quirk or peculiarity of the wife, as some husbands may think. It is the way God designed the human female, and the sooner men understand this, the better they will be equipped to increase the level of intimacy in their marriages.

Men also need to realize that women tend to care more about the home and everything in it. I don't know whether your wife or fiancee has a nesting instinct, but for years I have observed this feminine interest in the details of the family dwelling. Admittedly, not every woman lives in a neat house. I know some messy ladies whose mothers must have been frightened by garbage trucks when they were pregnant! Yet even these women show a genuine concern for their house and what is in it. Husbands sometimes fail to comprehend the significance of this female inclination.

Shirley and I recognized that we had differing perspectives several years ago when we purchased a gas barbecue unit for use in our backyard. We hired a plumber to install the device and left for the day. When we returned, we both observed that the barbecue was mounted about eight inches too high. Shirley and I stood looking at the appliance, and our reactions were quite different.

I said, "Yes, it's true. The plumber made a mistake. The barbecue is a bit too high. By the way, what's for dinner tonight?"

Shirley reacted more emphatically. "I don't think I can stand that thing sticking up in the air like that!"

I could have lived the rest of my life without ever thinking about the barbecue mounting again, but to Shirley it was a big deal. Why? Because we see the home differently. So we called the plumber and had him lower the unit about eight inches.

Husbands aren't the only ones who need to be aware of their partners' needs, of course. I suggest that wives tune in to their husbands' quirks and interests as well. For example, a survey taken several years ago to determine what men care about most yielded surprising results. Men did not long for expensive furniture, well-equipped garages, or a private study. What they wanted most was tranquility at home. Competition in the workplace today is so fierce, and the stresses of pleasing a boss and surviving professionally are so severe, that the home needs to be a haven to which a man can retreat. It is a smart woman who tries to make her home what her husband needs it to be.

Of course, many women also work, and their husbands are not the only ones in need of tranquility. This is a major problem in two-career families. It is even more difficult in the single-parent situation. I know no simple solution to those stress points, although I'm convinced that emotional instability and even physical illness can occur in the absence of a "safe place." Creating an environment at home to meet that need should be given priority, regardless of the family structure.

Well, so much for this short discourse on gender distinctiveness. I have attempted to show not only that males and females are different -- which any bloke can see -- but also that God authored those differences and we should appreciate them. It is our uniqueness that gives freshness and vitality to a relationship. How boring it would be if the sexes were identical! How redundant it would have been for the Creator to put Adam to sleep and then fashion yet another man from his rib!

No, He brought forth a woman and gave her to Adam. He put greater toughness and aggressiveness in the man, and more softness and nurturance in the woman -- and suited them to one another's needs. And in their relationship, He symbolized the mystical bond between the believer and Christ Himself. What an incredible concept!

I say to you, husbands and wives, celebrate your uniqueness and learn to compromise when male and female individuality collide. Or as an unnamed Frenchman once said, "Vive la difference!" He must have been a happily married man.
From Love for a Lifetime, published by Multnomah Gifts. Copyright © 2003, James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.
1Taken from Dr. Paul Popenoe, "Are Women Really Different?" Family Life 31 (February 1971).

Sep 14, 2009

Sunday's message

I have to tell you, if you are looking for a great pastor to listen to, Maltby Christian Assembly has 2 of the best. Pastor David, the lead pastor is genuine. I truly love listening to his sermons. His goal I think is really getting people to narrow it down to the one thing that's important - following Christ. Simple eh? :)

The young adult pastor, Justin Farley is a talented guy. He's young, hip and hilarious. He delivers his message from the gate getting you to laugh out loud and then turns it to the heart of the message softly, you quiet down as the words sink in to your psyche and heart. He reaches the kids where they are, with what they struggle with and an open genuine heart of a young adult who's "been there".

Yesterdays sermon was no exception. And boy, it was delivered lock & key right to where I've been dwelling lately.

You can download the messages in to ITunes from their website -

I wrote down a few sentences that got my attention yesterday - here's a couple:

This is a quote from John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach

"Don't let what you can't do, keep you from doing what you can do." I know I struggle with this all the time. Fear of failure is deep.

He spoke of Mother Teresa, how her life started. She committed herself to being a Nun for life at a young age. Her birth name was Agnes. She had a vision to open a orphanage and was ridiculed by her fellow sisters. Against the ridicule, she followed the fire placed on her heart by God. Justin's message said that sometimes that FIRE which burns inside you, is placed there by Him, so that maybe you'll ACT on it and complete His plan for your life. Wow, that really hit me hard because it was verbalization of the same words that had been spinning through my mind lately.

Justin said when he sees people like this he feels 3 things - first, inspiration. Followed by Intimidation. Finally Doubt. I add that this leads to non performance. Giving Up. What you can't do - and fear of failure or ridicule - keeps you from doing whatever it is that you can do.

Here I sit, guilty as charged. Yet... I am spreading the message in hopes it reaches someone else today and spurs action.

Have a great day -

Sep 8, 2009

Psalm 46:10 & Meditation

I googled this verse as a friend referenced it (thank you Lenny) and found this site. I thought it was very interesting.

Does "be still" mean to meditate or practice contemplative prayer?

Many people quote the first part of Ps. 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God," to endorse a form of meditation that involves techniques on "quieting" the mind or going beyond the mind. Is this what this verse is talking about?

As always, one must look at the whole passage and see the context of the statement, especially since the Bible was not written in verses; chapters and verses were added centuries later. In one translation, the phrase is not "Be still" but "Cease striving." The New American Standard has, "Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Young's Literal renders it, "Desist, and know that I [am] God, I am exalted among nations, I am exalted in the earth."

The context is a reprimand about submitting to God in the midst of nations warring against God. The 1599 Geneva Study Bible's comments on verse 10 say that God is warning those "who persecute the Church to cease their cruelty: for also they will feel that God is too strong for them against whom they fight." This is because the preceding two verses say:

"Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire."

This is clearly talking about the power and might of God to the nations who have disregarded Him.

Another commentary renders the literal meaning of verse 10 as: "Leave off to oppose Me and vex My people. I am over all for their safety." This is a warning from God to His enemies (Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871),

Matthew Henry's words on verse 10 are that it means "Let his enemies be still, and threaten no more, but know it, to their terror, that he is God, one infinitely above them, and that will certainly be too hard for them; let them rage no more, for it is all in vain" (

Charles H. Spurgeon's remarks on verse 10 are "Hold off your hands, ye enemies! Sit down and wait in patience, ye believers! Acknowledge that Jehovah is God, ye who feel the terrors of his wrath! Adore him, and him only, ye who partake in the protection of his grace" (from The Treasury of David, (

The earlier verses in chapter 46 tell those who trust in the Lord not to fear:

"Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change; And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar {and} foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride."

Why not fear? Because God is there and He is mighty. Therefore, the passage goes on to say, those who fight against God should cease and realize His might, and that He will be exalted over all. Verse 10 is a warning to those warring on God; it is a rebuke.

From the context of the passage, without even consulting commentaries, one can clearly see that verse 10 has nothing to do with meditation, but is rather a reprimand to those who are "striving" against God. They are to stop striving and realize His power, and that their efforts against God are futile.

This verse is not about becoming absolutely still to "listen" to God. There is no Biblical support in this verse or any other for practicing certain breathing techniques, for repeating a phrase over and over, for letting the mind go blank, or for going beyond thinking in order to experience a "merging" with God, as taught in spiritual techniques adapted from Buddhism for Christians, or as taught in mystical teachings usually labeled as contemplative or centered prayer.

In contrast, God's word teaches us to think and use our mind. Rational thinking and reason flow from the nature of God. We can be still or quiet, of course, in order to contemplate God and His perfect love, justice, and mercy. We can be still and appreciate His might. But we do not need to numb our brains or create a mystical experience to do so; in fact, these techniques will hinder us from practicing true contemplation.

Much confusion today comes from various meanings of the word "meditation." When we are exhorted to meditate on God's word, it means to ponder, to deeply reflect, and to contemplate the meaning of a passage. The word translated as "meditation" in several verses in the Psalms means to meditate in the sense of reflecting upon. In fact, the New Living Translation uses the word "thought" for "meditation" in several of these passages, such as in Ps. 19:14: "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you." We are to seek to understand God's word with our minds, not to empty the mind, or to bypass the mind for a merging with God.

Ps. 46:10, far from endorsing a mystical meditative state, is stating to the hearers that they should be in awe of God as the Sovereign Ruler. How ironic that God's words in this verse are misused to support mystical meditation techniques when the verse itself is a rebuke to pay attention to God's might!

For more information, see other CANA articles, Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer? and Out of Your Mind: Meditation and Visualization.

Sep 1, 2009

Caffeine & your children

Recently Kayla asked me "so when do we get to drink coffee". I looked at her and said "when you are an adult and can make that choice for yourself". Caffeine and soda pop have been pretty much off limits in our household. As parents of 5 children who have drug and alcohol addiction risks, I had read that caffeine is linked to adult addictions because of it's effect on the brain and body. It's become socially acceptable to introduce to children at young ages and causes a physical need, addiction if you will. And more, there is nothing healthy about it. My thoughts have been, in a world where it's already hard enough to sustain a "do not use" mentality, the last thing the kids need is something pumped in to their bodies for years, that can cause the brain to latch on to the "drug" and create a "need" for substance to function.

I am not one that tolerate caffeine very well. I never have. It gives me the utmost shakes and makes it difficult for me to concentrate. My anxiety or worry button is continually on anyway - so add caffeine to that - it aggravates an already increased mental state. Today I ran across this article that was very interesting. Oh.... and I have the shakes today because my granita doesn't come decaf - but it was oh so good! :)

The brand names are pulsing with power: Surge, Zapped, Full Speed, Outburst. And Josta is laced with both caffeine and the pick-me-up herb guarana, which is hyped as "raw, primal power." Is it any wonder caffeine consumption is on the rise among kids?

By Helen Cordes

ANYONE REMEMBER when caffeine was off-limits for children? ("It'll stunt your growth!") These days constraints on caffeine consumption for kids and young teens are nonexistent. Kids are having caffeine early and often--high-octane Mountain Dew is the preferred soda of the under-6 set--and in much bigger doses than before. Caffeine Inc. is raking it in, often targeting teens and younger kids, and while Coca-Cola's polar bears get the attention, studies showing the negative consequences of child caffeination are virtually ignored.

Look at fast-food joints, convenience stores, and restaurants, where many kids get up to 40 percent of their meals. It's common to see young children and teens downing "big gulp"-size caffeinated sodas or lining up for seconds and thirds at refillable soda stations. These megadrinks can pack a wallop equal to three cups of strong coffee--all bombarding a body that may be one-half or two-thirds adult size. And kids are eagerly reaching for the aggressively marketed new drinks that are at or near the legal limit for added caffeine (which is 6 milligrams per ounce) such as Coca-Cola's Surge (51 milligrams in 12 ounces), Pepsi-Cola's Josta (58), Jolt (72), the caffeinated herbal drink XTC (70), and others.

And kids may get a near double-dose of caffeine if they buy these juiced-up drinks at vending machines, which increasingly offer only 20-ounce bottles instead of 12-ounce cans.

Check out school cafeterias: Kids are bypassing milk for cans of Coke (45 milligrams), Pepsi (37), Mountain Dew (55) and Sunkist (40), bought at school pop machines or served at the fast-food franchises now at 13 percent of the nation's schools. Glance at family shopping carts: Sodas are the best-selling product at grocery stores--$11.7 billion annually in sales. And four of the five most popular soft drinks in the United States are caffeinated, with No. 4 Sprite the sole exception.

The most conservative estimates have children and teens guzzling more than 64 gallons of soda a year--an amount that has tripled for teens since 1978, doubled for the 6-11 set, and increased by a quarter for under-5 tots, according to a 1994 survey by the Agriculture Department.

The top drinkers, teen boys, pop open an average of three sodas a day.

And check out the local coffee shop. For tons of teens, and kids as young as elementary school, the local Starbucks or its equivalent has become the favored hangout. Many juvenile customers scorn decaf in the sugary coffee drinks they prefer. (Twelve ounces of a regular Starbucks coffee contains around 190 milligrams of caffeine. Since coffee is naturally caffeinated--sodas have caffeine added to them--it is not regulated for caffeine content.) Caffeine is even showing up on the playing field: Competitive-minded parents are bringing along high-caffeine drinks or packets of the new carbo- and caffeine-packed "sports goo" to help give their young athletes a winner's edge.

Why is "Generation Next" (as Pepsi puts it) downing caffeine at rates never seen before? One likely reason is that most parents are unaware of the health problems associated with caffeine. Solid scientific research has linked caffeine to anxiety, respiratory ailments, possible bone loss, and other health worries--although there has been slight coverage of this.

But what turned children on to caffeine in the first place? Kids' desire to get wired didn't simply occur as a mass switch in personal preference. The major caffeine suppliers to kids have been throwing millions into advertising and giveaways. Mountain Dew, for example, has distributed half a million free pagers to kids, who can use them to call friends--but only after they read the Mountain Dew promo that automatically pops up.

The soft-drink companies have also spent tens of millions placing their products and ads where youths are a captive audience: schools. Dozens of school districts have been paid up to $11 million each by Coke or Pepsi for the assurance that only that company's products will be sold on school grounds, and for the right to put ads on gym walls and school buses. And the soda barons have used dozens of other sly marketing ploys, such as plastering ads and logos on everything from free textbook covers to computer screensavers and mousepads.

Children have few places left to look where they are not exposed to a soft-drink product or logo.

The marketing strategy behind the new high-caffeine products is ingeniously suited to a generation confronting more family instability and a less secure job future, and dogged by stress and powerlessness. The brand names are pulsing with power: Surge, Zapped, Full Speed, Outburst. Josta, laced with both caffeine and the pick-me-up herb guarana, is hyped as "raw, primal power." Mountain Dew promises there's "nothing more intense than slammin' a Dew."

Caffeine, then, is the perfect antidote for youths facing the pressures of the '90s : It provides a boost of sociability, enhanced performance, and energy. Sure, there's the inevitable droop that follows, but that only reinforces the need to have more.

As for kids' rising attraction to coffee, that may be fueled by the proliferation of coffee shops--Starbucks opens another one every business day--and the perennial desire of kids to ape grown-up behavior. "Coffee bars are the only legal places for kids to hang out," says Gerald Celente, author of Trends 2000. Direct youth advertising by coffee interests is minimal, but the coffee industry is busy courting younger drinkers, who "love coffee products that are cold and sweet," notes Ted Lingle, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America.

Plenty of coffee parlors are expanding their sweet-drink menus. Starbucks, in partnership with Pepsi, is pushing its bottled creamy coffee drink Frappuccino and test-marketing Power Frappuccino, its coffee and carbo drink aimed at the hot youth-directed "energy drink" category.

ALL THE MAJOR caffeine suppliers insist they're not targeting the under-12 set. "Our core market is the teen and young adult category," says Pepsi spokesman Larry Jabblonsky. "We don't make a concerted effort to reach those under 12." And Chris Gimbl of Starbucks says, "We don't market to teenagers. However, anyone is welcome at our stores." But Terry Barker, whose company makes the caffeinated water Krank2O, notes, "The only market available is to start them out younger and younger." (He hastens to add that Krank2O markets to those 15 and older.)

Barker's remark reflects economic reality. For the market bulge of the century--baby boomers--caffeine is becoming something to avoid. Coffee drinking is on the rise only for those between ages 15 and 24, while java jiving takes a steady dive thereafter. Ditto for soft-drink consumption: Statistics show that teens and young adults slug the most, with soda sipping sinking slowly from there.

In Barker's view, caffeine suppliers are following the example of another supplier of an addictive substance: the tobacco companies. "The goal is to perpetuate the market," he says.

Indeed, there's evidence that the caffeine lobby has borrowed a tactic or two from the nicotine gang. Ask industry representatives about the health consequences of children consuming caffeine, and they frequently point to two "non-profit research organizations"--the International Life Sciences Institute and the International Food Information Council. Both are funded by major food, beverage, and agribusiness multinationals, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and major coffee suppliers Kraft and Procter & Gamble.

Both refer questions to scientists who maintain that there is absolutely no cause for concern about caffeine and kids. "The studies are really quite reassuring," says Dr. Peter Dews, an ILSI board member and a Harvard School of Medicine professor emeritus. "Nothing has been shown to be harmful."

Asked about a 6-year-old ingesting the quantum dose of caffeine in a "big gulp," Dr. Richard Adamson, vice president of scientific and technical affairs for the National Soft Drink Association, asserts, "People generally don't drink big gulps all in one sitting." (Kids ration their big gulps?) Asked why caffeine is necessary in sodas, he says, "It's there solely for the taste. Just take a sip of caffeine-free Pepsi and then a sip of regular Pepsi. Try it! You'll be able to tell!"

(I did! I can't!)

Asked if there is any health value to caffeinated soda, Adamson claims, "They're a good source of water. Kids need lots of water." Reminded that caffeine is a diuretic, which causes water to be excreted more rapidly, Adamson grudgingly agrees.

DESPITE soothing words from the industry, a few outfits are taking a stand against the rising use of caffeine by children. Last summer, when the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to require the posting of caffeine amounts on labels, it cited several caffeine-related risks: miscarriage, osteoporosis, insomnia, anxiety, addiction.

Children, the group noted, can suffer some of these adverse effects, and they face additional risks: Caffeine may threaten their developing bone mass and, when sodas are substituted for more nutritional food, impede their overall nutrition. (The FDA was scheduled to respond by February but informed the CSPI it needed more time to investigate concerns and studies cited in the petition.) Last year the American Medical Association also registered concerns about the new high-caffeine drinks that are "being aggressively advertised" to a youth audience and passed a resolution calling for caffeine labeling.

In perhaps the only public expression of concern from the industry, Havis Dawson, editor of the trade magazine Beverage World, called on the industry a year ago to "pronounce clear guidelines for how much caffeine our children should drink."

Since then, he's received no response. "If the industry doesn't come up with guidelines," he says, "someone else who's more scared of caffeine could do it, and they might not be ones the industry likes."

Guidelines may indeed be necessary. For years, independent scientific researchers have been urging caution. Their concerns fall into two categories: how children react behaviorally to the addictive and stimulant qualities of caffeine, and how caffeine affects children's bodies. Children respond to caffeine as do adults, according to a number of studies. A low dose may aid concentration and task completion, but higher doses typically make children nervous, anxious, fidgety, frustrated, and quicker to anger. National Institute of Mental Health child psychiatry researcher Judith Rapoport found that the 8- to 13-year-olds who regularly consumed high doses were judged more restless by teachers--in fact, one third were hyperactive enough to meet the criteria for attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, or ADHD. When low-caffeine-consuming children were given a daily dose equivalent to that of their higher-consuming peers, parents reported that they became more emotional, inattentive, and restless.

"Children for whom there is a concern about anxiety should not have caffeine," Rapoport says.

Hofstra University psychology associate professor Mitchell Schare studied almost 400 preschoolers from upper-income New York City suburbs in 1994 and 1995. The heavier-caffeine consumers among the children, who had the equivalent of three to four cups of coffee daily, had more "uncontrollable energy," Schare notes. He concludes, "I believe the effects of caffeine can potentially mimic ADHD and be misdiagnosed as ADHD."

These kids' chief caffeine source was, surprisingly, iced tea, which many parents may not realize contains caffeine.

Like adults, kids who are regular caffeine drinkers suffer ill effects when they don't get a regular shot. In a recent study by Stanford neurobiologist Avram Goldstein, fifth and sixth graders at a suburban Denver school who were deprived of daily caffeine reported having symptoms such as trouble thinking clearly, not feeling energetic, and getting angry easily.

Even children who typically consume 28 milligrams a day (less than an average soda) felt symptoms.

"Children can in fact become dependent on caffeine," notes Goldstein, who did pioneer research on caffeine and adults in the '60s. And caffeine-dependent children usually have a handicap adults don't: They can't guarantee a daily fix the way adults can, because they don't typically have the money and mobility to get caffeine
at will.

Johns Hopkins psychiatry professor and caffeine expert Roland Griffiths worries about this on-again, off-again situation. "A lot of kids already have chaotic lives. Do children need a pharmacological destabilizer on top of that?" he asks.

Caffeine can also be harmful to children's growing bodies, since it can cause excess excretion of calcium and magnesium, says Gail Frank, nutrition professor at California State University, Long Beach, and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. She says, "There's a danger that children won't reach sufficient bone mass." Children are less likely now to replace calcium by drinking milk--consumption has plummeted in recent years, largely because kids are downing soft drinks instead.

The phosphoric acid in cola beverages may be particularly detrimental to children's health; there is evidence that it can cause bone fractures, notes Cornell University Medical College registered dietitian Barbara Levine. Phosphoric acid can also break down tooth enamel. And common children's ailments like ear infections and respiratory irritations that produce colds, bronchitis, and asthma may be exacerbated by caffeinated, carbonated drinks, according to Dr. William Cochran, pediatric gastroenterologist at Penn State's Geisinger Clinic and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics nutrition committee. Caffeine and carbonated bubbles can trigger "refluxing," in which a sphincter muscle allows the acidy contents of the upper stomach to back up and irritate portions of the respiratory tract. In both his research and his pediatric practice, Cochran has found that most children with chronic ear infections and respiratory illnesses have refluxing problems.

AS KIDS GUZZLE caffeinated and other sodas at increasing rates, researchers like Frank worry about potential problems that won't be seen until kids mature. "What will happen when millions of children with much higher rates of caffeine consumption grow up?" Frank asks. "We may see increasing rates of osteoporosis."

She also points to caffeine's ability to raise blood pressure: "We just don't know the long-term effects, and we need to find out."

Meanwhile, Frank recommends that children and teens stay well under 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, which amounts to one or two cans of soda, depending on the caffeine content.

Many who'd like to see a decline in children's caffeine consumption know the task is not easy. "I think most parents simply don't realize how much caffeine kids get," says CSPI executive director Michael Jacobson. "Labeling products would at least give them some way to get the information and make some judgments." (For more information on the center's petition to the FDA, see CSPI's website,

The presence of sodas and their marketing in schools is an obvious target. "Schools are selling off students to soda," charges Marianne Manilov of the Center for Commercial-Free Public Education in Oakland. "Is this really what we want in public schools?" But efforts to restrict soda sales in school face much opposition from soda conglomerates' lobbying guns as well as from some school officials who like receiving a cut of vending-machine revenues.

Last year a West Virginia law prohibiting the sale of sodas in schools during the school day was overturned after "a great deal of effort from the soft-drink lobby," reports an angry Martha Hill, who heads a county school-lunch program and is president-elect of the American School Food Service Association.

For concerned parents, home education--teaching children that caffeine is a drug and should be seen as such--is probably the best option. That's not what the executives at Coke and Pepsi want. But they are pushing a drug on pre-adults, one that may have serious health consequences for a whole generation. And that view--not the glitzy marketing and snazzy ads--is the real thing.

This article, here in abridged and slightly amended form, originally appeared in The Nation.

What have we learned in 2,064 years?

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be
tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should
be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to
work, instead of living on public assistance."

- Cicero - 55 BC

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