Saturday, February 23, 2008

Updated ClustrMap

If you have ever looked at the ClustrMap visitor counter to the right, you may be interested to find out that you can now zoom in on the map.

You can also click on "Map with smaller clustrs" to see just that - a map where the clusters (IP addresses in the same vicinity) are broken down into smaller units. It's kind of like the area code on your phone, giving people a general idea of your location without giving them your exact address.

ClustrMaps does NOT show each individual reader of this blog, nor does it give me a list of their IP addresses.

It has been fun - albeit puzzling - to see how many different people look at my blog. Certainly feel free to leave a comment next time you stop by, I love to get feedback.

It has come to my attention that a lot of recent visitors have stumbled upon this site after viewing a YouTube clip from one of my husband's sermons. Although I will not post it here as to not add to the hype, you could probably find it very easily by following some of my links. Since the clip was first posted a month ago exactly, it has been viewed over 60,000 times on YouTube alone. I guess Google listed it as the #10 most blogged video clip on the internet today.

Some people just really need to get a life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Parental Rights Petition

Please go to www.parentalrights.org to sign this petition. Read on for more information.


The Attack on Parental Rights

The right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children has been recognized and upheld for centuries. But there are dark clouds on the horizon.

Today parental rights are coming under assault from federal judges who deny or refuse to recognize these rights. Adding further danger to the child-parent relationship, international law seeking to undermine the parental role is advancing on the horizon. Together, these threats are converging to create a "perfect storm" that looms over the child-parent relationship.

In the early 1980s, a landmark parental rights case reached the Washington State Supreme Court. The case involved 13-year-old Sheila Marie Sumey, whose parents were alarmed when they found evidence of their daughter's participation in illegal drug activity and escalating sexual involvement. Their response was to act immediately to cut off the negative influences in their daughter's life by grounding her.

But when Sheila went to her school counselors complaining about her parent's actions, she was advised that she could be liberated from her parents because there was "conflict between parent and child." Listening to the advice she had received, Sheila notified Child Protective Services (CPS) about her situation. She was subsequently removed from her home and placed in foster care.

Her parents, desperate to get their daughter back, challenged the actions of the social workers in court. They lost. Even though the judge found that Sheila's parents had enforced reasonable rules in a proper manner, the state law nevertheless gave CPS the authority to split apart the Sumey family and take Sheila away.

DANGEROUS PRECEDENT

Parental rights are under attack in our nation, with the first threat originating from within the federal court system. As this story illustrates, a growing disregard for parental rights has been spreading within the courts of our nation.

Across the country, many judges are beginning to deny the vital role of parents in the lives of their children, instead inserting the government into a "parental" role in a child's life. This dangerous assertion is leading to the severance of the child-parent relationship in numerous instances across the nation—removals that cause unnecessary pain to both children and their parents.

A thirteen-year-old boy in Washington State was removed from his parents after he complained to school counselors that his parents took him to church too often. His school counselors had encouraged him to call Child Protective Services with his complaint, which led to his subsequent removal and placement in foster care. It was only after the parents agreed to a judge's requirement of less-frequent church attendance that they were able to recover their son.

HANGING BY A THREAD

Not all judges hold a low view of parental rights. Some, like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, believe that parental rights are among the "inalienable rights" of Americans enumerated in the Declaration of Independence but they are finding it increasingly difficult to rule in favor of parental rights when it is not explicitly included in the language of the Constitution.

In Troxel v. Granville, the last major parental rights case heard by the Supreme Court, Scalia himself voted to deny parental rights the status of an enforceable constitutional right. And other federal court judges are following in his footsteps, citing a mounting belief that no right can be protected by the federal courts unless explicitly stated in the Constitution.

The dwindling support for parental rights found on the federal level has opened the door to a growing, blatant disregard of parental rights within the lower courts of our nation. Parental rights violations are on the increase across the country, as courts exchange parental involvement for government control in the lives of America's children.

The right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is hanging by a thread.

A West Virginia mother was shocked when a local circuit judge and a family court judge ordered her to share custody of her four-year-old daughter with two of the girl’s babysitters. Referring to the sitters as "psychological co-parents," the justices first awarded full custody to them, only permitting the mother to visit her daughter four times a week at McDonalds. Eventually she was granted primary custody, but forced to continue to share her daughter with the sitters.

When her case finally reached the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in October 2007, the beleaguered mother was relieved to finally be granted full custody of her daughter.

In their October 25 opinion Supreme Court justices wrote that they were "deeply troubled by the utter disregard" for the mother's rights. One justice referred to the mother’s right as the “paramount right in the world."

Chief Justice Robin Davis summed up the case in one simple question."Why does a natural parent have to prove fitness when she has never been found unfit?" he asked.

THE THREAT FROM INTERNATIONAL LAW

The precarious state of parental rights within our nation is reason enough for serious concern. With cases like these filling the courts, every parent should be concerned about the protection and preservation of their rights.

But another storm is rapidly forming on the horizon.

International law that seeks to empower the government to intrude upon the child-parent relationship is becoming an increasing threat. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a seemingly harmless treaty with dangerous implications for American families, is approaching possible ratification by the United States.

If this treaty is made binding upon our country, the government would have the power to intervene in any child's life to advance its definition of "the best interests of the child." The scenarios that could occur—and are occurring—as a result of this dangerous notion are both manifold and frightening.

Under the UNCRC, instead of following due process, government agencies would have the power to override your parental choices at their whim because they determine what is in "the best interest of the child."

In essence, the UNCRC applies the legal status of abusive parents to all parents. This means that the burden of proof falls on the parent to prove to the State that they are good parents—when it should fall upon the State to prove that their investigation is not without cause.

A SHELTER IN THE STORM

There is only one solution to this approaching storm: a constitutional amendment that places current Supreme Court doctrine protecting parental rights into the explicit language of the U.S. Constitution. This amendment will shelter the child-parent relationship from the coming storm, ensuring that parents have the right to direct the upbringing and education of their children.

No government, regardless of how well-intentioned it might be, can replace the love and nurture of a parent in the life of a child. Parents care, not because their children are "wards" for whom they are responsible. Parents are willing to brave danger and sacrifice, hardship and heartache to ensure the best for their kids.

Learn more about protecting parental rights through a constitutional amendment, and join the campaign now. We must not wait until it’s too late. Take this opportunity to sign the petition to protect parental rights today.

February Birthdays

This month, we celebrated Miriam's 1st birthday and Isaac's 5th birthday. First, here are some pictures from Miriam's birthday:

Right after waking up.


In her pretty new dress


This baby swing was one of her gifts.


All four kids on the swing set.


This toy was another gift.


The cake


Yum!!!


For dinner, we had bacon cheeseburgers.


And, of course, ice cream for dessert!

Miriam loves ice cream! She recognizes the carton when I pull it out of the freezer, and will chant "ice cream, ice cream, ice cream" until she gets some.


More??


At night, we decorated sugar cookies.


Look who got into the frosting!


A few days later, we took down all the hearts and pink balloons for Isaac's birthday, who had requested a military theme.

Isaac's gifts


This is a construction dress-up set.


I loved the goofy look on his face in this picture. He had shoved so many Haribo candies in his mouth that he couldn't look straight on any more.

Another dress-up set: a cowboy outfit!


Isaac had asked for this set many times. As he pointed out to every stranger all day long, he loved it because it was made of real leather (as opposed to the cotton chaps I had sewed for him).


Bacon, sausages, biscuits, and eggs for breakfast.

On their birthdays, our kids get to pick the menu for the day. Isaac had requested "hot dogs for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, and hot dogs for dinner!" I was able to adjust that to the above breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, and corn dogs for dinner. Not any healthier, but at least not as repetitious.



Instead of a party, I took the kids to a really fun place called Way 2 Play Cafe, where we all had a great time.


Miriam, who walks now, loved pushing this grocery cart around.


Miriam and Johnny

Saturday, February 9, 2008

New pictures

We have been doing a lot of fun stuff in the last couple of weeks. Last Friday, we went to the "Hall of Flame" Firefighter Museum. We learned much about the history of fire trucks and fire departments, and the boys enjoyed playing in the designated areas.





This week, we went to a couple of other museums. I bought a membership to one of them, the Arizona Science Center. There is so much stuff to learn and discover! They are currently hosting a travelling exhibition on the "Titanic" with real artifacts that were recovered by deep-sea diving robots. It was very impressive, but chilling at the same time. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures.

Since my husband's boss was in town for a couple of days, we also went out to two of my favorite restaurants: The Melting Pot and Macaroni Grill. This is what Solomon wrote on the paper tablecloth:


Then today a group from our church went up to go sledding and playing in the snow in Flagstaff, which is about 170 miles north of here (2 1/2 hour drive). Of course, the boys all had a blast, but Miriam wasn't too sure about it. She was nice and warm and stayed dry the whole time, so I really don't know what her hangup was. I was wearing snow pants under my skirt, which worked great and kept me warm the whole time.






In spite of all these activities, we more or less stayed up to date with our schoolwork except for skipping science and history - the museums made up for that more than enough. Our trip to Germany is getting really close and I still have a lot to get ready before we are leaving.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

How bad do you want it?

A friend of mine sent me this. It is the ceiling mural in a smokers' lounge.




Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body; causing many diseases and reducing the health of smokers in general.1 The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 438,000 deaths, or nearly 1 of every 5 deaths, each year in the United States.2,3 More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.2,4

Cancer

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death and was among the first diseases causally linked to smoking.1
  • Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women. The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher among men who smoke cigarettes, and about 13 times higher among women who smoke cigarettes compared with never smokers.1
  • Smoking causes cancers of the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, cervix, kidney, lung, pancreas, and stomach, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.1
  • Rates of cancers related to cigarette smoking vary widely among members of racial/ethnic groups, but are generally highest in African-American men.5

Cardiovascular Disease (Heart and Circulatory System)

  • Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.1 Cigarette smokers are 2–4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.6
  • Cigarette smoking approximately doubles a person's risk for stroke.7,8
  • Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels (arteries). Smokers are more than 10 times as likely as nonsmokers to develop peripheral vascular disease.9
  • Smoking causes abdominal aortic aneurysm.1

Respiratory Disease and Other Effects

  • Cigarette smoking is associated with a tenfold increase in the risk of dying from chronic obstructive lung disease.7 About 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung diseases are attributable to cigarette smoking.1
  • Cigarette smoking has many adverse reproductive and early childhood effects, including an increased risk for infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).1
  • Postmenopausal women who smoke have lower bone density than women who never smoked. Women who smoke have an increased risk for hip fracture than never smokers.10

References

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2004 [cited 2006 Dec 5]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_2004/index.htm.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 1997–2001. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [serial online]. 2002;51(14):300–303 [cited 2006 Dec 5]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health United States, 2003, With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. (PDF–225KB) Hyattsville, MD: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2003 [cited 2006 Dec 5]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/tables/2003/03hus031.pdf.
  4. McGinnis J, Foege WH. Actual Causes of Death in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association 1993;270:2207–2212.
  5. Novotny TE, Giovino GA. Tobacco Use. In: Brownson RC, Remington PL, Davis JR (eds). Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1998;117–148 [cited 2006 Dec 5].
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Reducing the Health Consequences of Smoking—25 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 1989. DHHS Pub. No. (CDC) 89–8411 [cited 2006 Dec 5]. Available from: http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/NN/B/B/X/S/.
  7. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tobacco Use Among U.S. Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups—African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 1998 [cited 2006 Dec 5]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_1998/index.htm.
  8. Ockene IS, Miller NH. Cigarette Smoking, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stroke: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association. Journal of American Health Association. 1997;96(9):3243–3247 [cited 2006 Dec 5].
  9. Fielding JE, Husten CG, Eriksen MP. Tobacco: Health Effects and Control. In: Maxcy KF, Rosenau MJ, Last JM, Wallace RB, Doebbling BN (eds.). Public Health and Preventive Medicine. New York: McGraw-Hill;1998;817–845 [cited 2006 Dec 5].
  10. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Women and Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2001 [cited 2006 Dec 5]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/sgr/sgr_2001/index.htm.

For Further Information

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Is IVF wrong?

IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. "In vitro" comes from Latin and literally means "within the glass". As the term suggests, fertilization i.e. conception takes places in a petri dish as opposed to "in vivo" (Lat: "within the living"). Babies conceived this way are sometimes referred to as "test tube babies".

The process basically involves this:

(1) The mother's ovaries are stimulated through hormone injections to release more than one egg per cycle.

(2) The eggs (approx. 20-30) are surgically extracted, prepared by stripping the outer cell membrane, placed in a dish, and adequately stored until the father's "sample" is obtained.

(3) The father is given a containter and sent to a discreet room at the clinic (equipped with the corresponding "toys") in order to provide the necessary seed. Alternatively, single women and lesbians with fertility problems use frozen samples from a male donor.

(4) The IVF specialist doctors up the contents of Dad's dish before dumping them onto the contents of Mom's dish, and the majority of eggs are fertilized.

(5) The babies are left to develop in the dish for several days while being observed. Some grow at a normal rate, some grow slower than expected, and some "arrest in growth" - a euphemism for dying.

(6) Only the embryos growing at a normal, healthy rate will be considered for transfer to the mother's womb. This may be anywhere from a couple of babies to a dozen or more. Most people will end up with 4 to 6 "viable" embryos. Of course, in almost all cases no more than 2 or 3 babies are implanted for fear of becoming pregnant with multiples.

(7) Overall success rate is about 27% per cycle, meaning that the mother only has a one out of four chance that any baby will actually "catch on", grow, and be born, while the rest die. Unused embryos can be discarded or stored in liquid nitrogen for as long as the parents wish (for another IVF attempt or another pregnancy later on).

The question is: Is this procedure morally right? Just because it is technically and scientifically possible, should Christians be participating in it?

My answer is a vehement, resounding NO! Oh, that's that word that our ungodly society doesn't like to hear any more. They like to think that they can do whatever they want to do, and nobody will tell them otherwise - especially not God. The reasons why I feel this way? Read on:

- Murder: Intentionally subjecting your child to a situation in which he only has an extremely thin chance of survival is murder. If I were to load a revolver tonight, load it with 4 out of 6 bullets, spin the barrel and then fire one shot at each of our four children, what would be their chances of survival? For sure, at least two would die, but probably three would. In this example, there is a 33% chance of one child surviving - for IVF, it's 27%. Would I be arrested if I did this? Would it be considered intentional murder since I purposefully loaded less "blanks" than I needed for all children to survive? Could I rightfully say: "Well, God decides who is going to live and who is going to die!"? I am well aware of the fact that miscarriages occur naturally, and I have had a couple myself. But that still only means that I have lost 2 out of 6 children. Compare that to the 1 in 4 chance that at least one of the 20 or so babies that are conceived will survive. If God decides to kill one of my children, does that mean I can kill as many as I like?

- Perversion: If you don't find the above procedure revolting and disgusting there is something seriously wrong with you. And what's up with involving a third party in the procreation process? So the doctor is impregnating the wife of another man?

- Playing God: This is revolutionary: If people don't get pregnant, it's because God doesn't want them to have a child. Am I saying that infertile couples are bad parents? No, not at all! Some of the nicest people I know are still praying for a child. God may have other reasons that we cannot understand. But I do think that ALL parents having children by way of IVF are bad parents (see points above), and that their children would have been better off if they were never born because their parents are twisted and will expose them to who knows what.

My personal experience in meeting IVF parents and children is limited because all of our friends are obviously devoted Christians. But the parents I did meet were more or less ridiculous, and seemed completely incompetent and overwhelmed. I have also doubted the paternity of some of these children, partly due to one of the parents compulsively pointing out similarities to the supposed Dad way more than normal parents would. I am not saying hat mix ups are common, but they certainly must occur sometime, somewhere. So maybe it's just a subliminal fear in the back of their mind that makes them so bent on proving that Dad is in fact the biological father. Not a chance I want to take!

In spite of all this, many Christians are ignorant of the IVF process. They may condone it because they don't know the facts, and are afraid to look into it because someone they love has committed IVF. I have heard of pastors condoning the process, either motivated by money or influence.

So I was all the more surprised by this article that a friend of mine sent me :

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Albert Mohler: All involved with IVF responsible for "human tragedy"

A leader of the evangelical movement in the United States recently came down hard on the effects of in vitro fertilization on his blog, decrying the destruction of millions of embryos for the sake of IVF, reports John Connolly, LifeSiteNews.com.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the primary school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world, called the destruction of embryos in IVF a tragedy, after reading a report in the London Times that over one million human embryos have been killed in IVF procedures.

"Human embryos are being produced, almost factory-like, and then routinely destroyed or indefinitely frozen," he observed. "This phenomenon might be described as an unintended complication of the IVF technology. Nevertheless, all involved in this technology are responsible for this vast human tragedy, intended or not."

"Far too many evangelicals seem to turn a blind eye to this reality," he continued. "While we celebrate the birth of a child and the gift of life, we cannot blind ourselves to the harsh and grotesque reality that this technology also means the destruction of human life. Many evangelicals fail to see what many proponents of human embryonic stem cell research have noted - a glaring inconsistency in condemning the destruction of human embryos through stem cell research, while ignoring or dismissing the destruction of embryos in IVF clinics."

Dr. Mohler has been recognized by such influential publications as Time and Christianity Today as a leader among American evangelicals. Time.com called him the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S."

Mohler hosts a daily live nationwide radio program on the Salem Radio Network., and is a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention. He has served in several offices, including a term as Chairman of the SBC Committee on Resolutions, which is responsible for the denomination's official statements on moral and doctrinal issues.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What's the point of this all? Next time a lady tells you she is trying to get pregnant and considering IVF, please explain this process to her and advise her not to do it.


To hear a sermon on this subject, please click here.

For more written information, please visit this site.

"And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." - Psalm 106:15

"Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity." - Deuteronomy 28:41

"Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter,
That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?" - Ezekiel 16:20, 21

"Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,
And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood." - Psalm 106:37, 38


Friday, February 1, 2008

A rose by any other name...

DORMITORY:
When you rearrange the letters:
DIRTY ROOM



ASTRONOMER:
When you rearrange the letters:
MOON STARER


THE EYES:
When you rearrange the letters:
THEY SEE



GEORGE BUSH:
When you rearrange the letters:
HE BUGS GORE



THE MORSE CODE :
When you rearrange the letters:
HERE COME DOTS



SLOT MACHINES:
When you rearrange the letters:
CASH LOST IN ME



ANIMOSITY:
When you rearrange the letters:
IS NO AMITY



ELECTION RESULTS:
When you rearrange the letters:
LIES - LET'S RECOUNT



SNOOZE ALARMS:
When you rearrange the letters:
ALAS! NO MORE Z'S



A DECIMAL POINT:
When you rearrange the letters:
I'M A DOT IN PLACE



THE EARTHQUAKES:
When you rearrange the letters:
THAT QUEER SHAKE



ELEVEN PLUS TWO:
When you rearrange the letters:
TWELVE PLUS ONE


AND FOR THE GRAND FINALE:

MOTHER-IN-LAW:
When you rearrange the letters:
WOMAN HITLER

(I would like to add that this last one is totally not true for me, as my husband's mom is really wonderful!)