Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why We Will Watch The Hunger Games

One of my jobs as a parent, perhaps my most powerful responsibility after sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, is to teach discernment.

Discernment is literally judgment, insight, perspicacity, and the ability to separate truth from fiction. Every single person and thing on the planet is pushing to alter your perception of whatever he/she/it believes to be true, but unless we measure against Scripture for truth, we will believe anything and everything.

These people and companies want to influence our behavior and are doing it purposefully. They have a plan, and we are under attack. The only real weapon against it is the ability to separate fact from fiction and DISCERN what you are being sold as truth.

"This diet will make me sexier, and is GUARANTEED to work or my MONEY BACK, therefore, I can and will try it with no risk to me. This car ad has a fantastic song from my youth and looks cool, and THEY SAY it’s the safest on the road, so if I buy it, I LOVE my family. This politician goes to church, therefore he MUST be the best choice as a leader."

Think this doesn’t work? (Snort. You’re an idiot. Please, stop reading my blog.)

I don't know how you do it, but personally? I check Consumer Reports to see what the safety rating of the vehicles I consider is, not the commercials. I check the diet instructions, and if it says anything about losing more than 1 pound a week or that I don’t have to change my diet or exercise level, I know it’s not the truth. And I see what the man or woman’s leadership record reflects, not who he/she has or hasn’t slept with. Then, I choose. That is discernment in action.

Which brings us to pop culture. I know that this is shocking, but I have never shielded my kids from unpleasant things. How will they know the truth if they never have the opportunity to hear a lie? How will they be able to make good decisions out on their own if I never give them safe opportunities now?
For example: the twins were three and Carter was 20 months old when I gave birth to Lillian, who was only 1lb 9oz and went down to 1lb 4oz. (This is the size of a 20 oz. soft drink. And that’s exactly how long she was—12 inches crown to toes.) She was covered in tubes, wires, IVs, bandages, hoses. Her eyes were wrapped. She looked like a science experiment. Steve and I never even hesitated or had to discuss what to do about telling the children the truth about her chances and her condition.

We took photos and brought them home in a brag book and explained that Lilly was sick, but that we were relying on God to make her whole again. We showed them the photos. We explained in great detail what everything on her body was, even though they couldn’t understand. Several (LOTS) of people criticized us for that decision. I never considered any other option.

How can they learn about the power of prayer and the healing nature of God if they never see sickness? How can they learn about the amazing restoration if we never let them fail? How can they learn to pray unless they pray urgently and see us modeling it? We prayed as a family every day. They didn’t understand everything, but knew when I had to leave for hours and hours that I was going to take care of Lilly. They asked about her, and drew pictures and sent her kisses. I regret nothing about that circumstance. And I can tell you right now that if God called that baby home, they would have seen parents who trust in God no matter what.

This brings me to The Hunger Games (you can insert any pop culture thing you want to in that slot, but this is what I’m talking about right now.)

Obviously, not for younger viewers. Everything has a time and a place (just like I won’t be having The Talk with The Little Flower today or tomorrow, I won’t be taking her to the film either). I was on the fence about how the violence would be portrayed, but the review by Plugged In cinched the deal. I will be taking the Wonder Twins to view the film. (I made reading the book a condition for considering taking them, too.)

After the film, we will have dessert and discuss:

1. Why The Bachelor is a million times more damaging to our culture than this movie. I will also explain how it's the forerunner, or how you numb a society, for something like The Games. (And if you find yourself watching The Bachelor, but are anti-gay marriage, something is wrong with your spiritual radar--you can't call one a mockery of marriage and financially support the other one, which actually IS a mockery of marriage.) (I’m not being sarcastic—you have a spiritual discernment problem.) (Am I judging you? Okay. Yeah. I am. By your own actions.) (Which is actually called discernment not judgment.) (See what I mean?)

2. We will discuss reality TV, and if it’s really “real” or not (see how Katniss and Peeta are portrayed verses their reality at the beginning of the book, which is far, far from the same thing). How does the media manipulate what we see and how we feel about people who are on “reality” television? On the news? In politics?

3. What does it say about our culture that we put children on these reality television shows like Dance Moms and allow their emotions and fears and highs and lows to be exploited by their parents? How is that different than a fight to the death in an arena? How will their lives be different as adults? How would you feel if everything you did and said and cried about was on national television for everyone to see? What kind of culture does that make ours—a better one or a worse one? Why? Would you do that your kids?

4. In what ways does the government in the book manipulate its citizen? How does our government do the same? (Political ads, different bias in news media, what is reported and what is left out.)

5. What does God’s Word teach about true love? Oh, yeah, that it’s laying your life down for your brother, sort of like Katniss does for her sister? Taking her place as a sacrifice. Hmmm… I can see we are going to need more cake over here.

Think they won’t be able to get it? That I’m talking or teaching above their heads? You get what you expect out of your children, and my expectations are through the roof. The Hunger Games is a YA novel written for grades 6-12. There are no words in it above a fourth grade reading level. They will understand. If you don’t teach them active discernment, guess where they will learn it? Their friends. The television. The media. The school. And forbidden fruit always tastes sweeter. Why not make it a family outing and discussion about what we believe and why?

Here is a link to the Plugged-In review:
May the odds be ever in your favor.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Random Birthday Observations

A Journey of Self Discovery on my Forty-Second Day of Birth:

I just turned 42. This suddenly doesn't seem so old. But then I realized that I'm sleeping with a 46-yr-old man. (This freaked me out a little.)

I have a crush on that Phillip Phillips guy from American Idol. (What a cutie!) So does my 11-yr-old daughter. This is like the Icky Factor times five million.

I hate making posters. The only thing I hate worse than making posters is keeping the children's church. Both are eerily similar: glue, cutting and pasting, screaming, hair pulling, snot wiping, and deep sighing when it's over.

I want to own an eggplant-colored sofa. No particular reason. I want a purple sofa just because. (Perhaps it was all of that Prince in the 80's.)

When all of these short people leave the house, I'm getting a convertible. A two seater. I might let The Husband ride with me sometimes, but only my music is playing on the radio.

A man who will bring you hot wings and cake for lunch, then make you homemade ravioli and marinara sauce for supper in the same day (even after being married to you for 18 years) is what is known as A Keeper. (Stay away from my husband, or I will kill you.) (I'm not joking.)

I am too stupid to understand anything my accountant says. I am too lazy to try to understand it and just pray to God that the accountant understands it; sometimes I'm not sure. I don't care either way.

I sleep just fine even if we have dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Someone brought me a sweet tea before school on my birthday, waiting in the parking lot and handing it over before I went in to class. Someone else left me 6-oz Cokes in the glass bottle on my desk at the end of the day. These people know that I need caffeine in copious amounts, and they spread the love from start to finish. This is friendship at its finest!

I wore a party hat during lunch. You are never too old to appreciate a paper party hat. I'm glad that I'm older. It means that I made it another year.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Travel Adventures

What you think your honeymoon is going to look like.
I've been booking travel for almost two and a half years. I specialize in Disney World and destination travel, but I also book a ton of cruises, Sandals/Beaches, Mexico, and Ski vacations. And after fielding yet another honeymoon disaster call today, here is the sum total of what I have learned:

This is the first and most difficult test that God puts a married couple through. (I know this factually, because I am the only person honeymooning people call while on their honeymoons.) Your flight will be cancelled. Your room will leak. Someone will get a) sunburned b) food poisoning c) stung by jellyfish d) all of the above. The beach will be closed for a tsunami. The restaurant's world class chef will quit the day before you arrive and in a fit of anger, drop fifty mice into the kitchen before he vacates the premises. You will drop the camera into the pool, off of a cliff, or into the toilet. You will discover that she is a harpy, nagging complainer and that he is an overbearing controlling moron. Or, if you're lucky, you will laugh your way through it and make it out on the other side alive and intact. It's God bearing out that whole 'for better or for worse' thingy you promised earlier in the week. Call it irony, but you'd better be able to laugh about it. Oh, and I can't fix any of that stuff.

2011 Disney
 Disney World
Visiting the 'most magical place on earth' is indeed magical, but only if you do the proper amount of planning. At our first consultation, if the words 'relaxing' and 'possibly Disney' come out of your mouth in any kind of proximity, I will not work with you as a client. It's too risky. If you want to relax, go to the beach. If you want to have an experience, go to Disney. 'Nere the twain shall meet and all of that black magic. To make Disney a truly magical experience:
  • Don't take anyone who isn't potty trained. (Please, I beg you.)
  • Rent or bring the stroller for anyone under seven. (I'm not exaggerating.)
  • Be prepared to eat off schedule (like breakfast at 10:30 a.m., lunch at 2:00 p.m., and dinner at 8:00)
  • You cannot see everything in one day. (I know that this seems obvious, but you'd be surprised.)
  • Yes, you need sunblock every single day. And Rolaids. And wet wipes and Ziploc baggies.
  • Other people will be at the pool with you. I cannot stop them from having beer next to your table.
  • I also do not control who is in the hotel rooms next to yours. In fact, I control virtually nothing at The Magic Kingdom.
  • I do not control the bus system.
  • I do not control the weather.
  • I do not control the show schedule or what rides are closed for repairs.
    2011 NYC with WonderTwins
  • I also do not control your waiter, how much Cokes cost, or that the monorail shut down and you had to walk.
A Special Note About Gay Days: This event is a week in late May/early June where gay people have collectively decided it's good to go to Disney together. (Disney isn't sponsoring this deal, it's an Internet phenomenon.) If this is freaking you out, don't go at the end of May or the beginning of June. (If you're gay, that is obviously the best time to go and be the very most comfortable you can possibly be.) But neither group is allowed to complain. Families--the gay people want to go to the most magical place on earth too, and they have chosen only two weeks out of the year to collectively meet and go. It's only two weeks. If it's offensive to you, you have the whole rest of the year. Gay People--If you want to go and hold hands with your life partner, no one will care any day of the year. It's the most magical place on earth (and the families will be too busy cleaning up throw up and wrangling the infants they shouldn't have brought with them to bother with your sexual orientation). But if you want to be around other families that look like yours, book right after Memorial Day. Easy Peasy.

Traveling with Kids
  • Plan on throw up.
  • Take extra everything.
  • Every single restaurant in the world is fifteen degrees colder than it should be. (They are trying to get you out to make room for the next group.) Take a jacket.
  • Pack $300.00 more than you need.
  • Don't choose any restaurant that doesn't have chicken fingers on the menu.
  • Ziplock bags and wet wipes are the most valuable things in the whole world.
2010 Alaskan Cruise
There is a reason that Disney cruises are twice the price of other cruises: no gambling, no smoking. (They have to make up the revenue somewhere.) So, if you don't want to walk through casinos on your way to everywhere on the ship, or transverse a cloud of cancer on every floor, pay the extra money. I'm serious. Now, if you smoke and gamble, it's the exact opposite. Go for it. Just don't complain both ways. I can't fix gambling and smoking people. I can't fix people who complain about you smoking and gambling either.

And that's enough information for one blog. Tune in next time when I tell the Funniest Travel Calls Ever Fielded and other travel adventures! Happy Travels!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kill Them All and Let God Sort Them Out

Lilly, not yet viable.
So, a couple of Australian doctors have published a theory that they are making some pretty good noise about.

Simply put, they want to take the abortion arguments and extend them after birth, because babies really aren’t viable on their own and aren’t morally relevant. They argue that parents should have the right to terminate their born or unborn children for any number of reasons including money, health, inconvenience, and simply put, “want to”.

Sounds perfectly logical to me. I never could understand why you can kill them before but not after birth. What's the difference? So yeah, if we allow abortion I think that this is a-okay too based on those arguments--babies certainly aren't viable persons until they can feed themselves and are potty trained. (Although that whole they aren't "morally relevant" might be harder to prove on paper.)

So, maybe we should vote? At what age do human beings start 'counting' as human beings? When they can walk? When they can feed themselves? After potty training? When they get a job and contribute to the household good?

Lilly, still making no relevant contribution
to our family. Just a drain.

(Huh. I can't figure out when children become morally relevant either. Do we ever become morally relevant? Is there a class I need to take to aid in determining when those things occur? And while we are at it, I can think of a few adults who aren't morally relevant and don't count as human beings and need to go too.)

Well, the twins weren't potty trained until four, and Lilly, well she clearly should have been ditched at only 25 weeks when she was born. Think of the money and hassle we could have saved! After all, it WAS a terrible inconvenience.

(Of course, think of all the car dancing and fantastic jokes I’d have missed out on, so maybe she’s not a great example.)

Now, I’d say that any normal, thinking person realizes that this is ludicrous, but no, Friends and Neighbors, because the same argument won the right to murder millions of babies because they aren’t ‘morally relevant’. It’s being called in religious circles the Abortion Holocaust. I think that is a pretty accurate description of what’s happening. We are eliminating millions of human babies simply because we don’t feel like it at the moment.
Carter "Big Drain on Resources" Johnson

Perhaps the most gruesome part of the article was the discussion that people who simply didn’t want their children anymore had a natural right to dispose of them if it was unaffordable or inconvenient to be a parent anymore. When the good doctors were asked about adopting those babies out, it was argued that the mother might be not be able to bear the psychological damage of giving her baby away.

(I’m sorry, what did you say?)

But the murder of her baby is okay?

Elaina "We Should have Chosen
One and Ditched the Other" Johnson

What is happening to us as a people? What are we devolving into?

The absolute only reason that Steve and Charlotte Johnson haven’t adopted three or four more children in addition to our own four is that it is completely cost prohibitive. It’s not that we can’t afford them once they are here, it's that we don’t have the approximately $15,000 it costs for a domestic adoption or the $30,000 for the foreign adoption. It’s not possible at this juncture without the direct involvement of God Almighty.

(What I wouldn’t have given for one of those throw away babies when we were struggling to conceive! What I wouldn’t give for one of them now, even though my quiver is full!)

So, to conclude, I think that those Australians are onto something powerful. We already pick and choose when babies live and when they die; what difference do a few years make in the grand scope of things? As long as we are good with murdering them in the womb, I say kill them all and let God sort them out. Because God is certainly going to sort us out for allowing this behavior to continue.

Elise "I Can't Dress Myself, Much Less Make a
Contribution" Johnson

Link to the article and another opinion: