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Raising Kids To Be Thankful


thankful

thankful (Photo credit: bondidwhat)

Our kids grew up in a developing country where they knew they were privileged and daily experienced the economic contrast between their lives and our friends. They learned qualities of generosity and gratitude from the example of their friends and neighbors who, despite their poverty, shared their possessions willingly and appreciated small gestures of friendship.

I never remember our kids demanding things that their wealthy friends had, though they may have wished for them. We often encouraged them to look at the neighbors living in the shacks around us, and to compare their lives with them rather than the ex-pat kids from the oil companies.

Living in the United States presents different problems, however. I wonder how we would have managed to raise thankful children in this age and culture?
While everyone has their own opinions, here are some ideas from an article I just read from Slate Magazine.
Advice for parents
Nov. 26 2013 11:45 PM

How to Raise Thankful Kids

It’s gonna take a lot of work.

Happy girl at Thanksgiving Dinner table
How do you teach your child gratitude?

Photo by Thinkstock

A few nights ago, after cleaning up from the play date I had organized for my 2½-year-old, changing his diaper, and refilling his water, I was about to start cooking him dinner before giving him a bath when the subject of Thanksgiving came up. He didn’t know what it was, so I tried to explain it to him. But somewhere between It’s a special day when we all think about how grateful we are for what we have and So, basically, it’s all about giving thanks, my son took off to terrorize our dog, and I was left stirring pasta that, five minutes later, I had to remind my son to thank me for. Continued:

Give Me Your Tired Your Poor


Give me your tired, your poor...

Give me your tired, your poor… (Photo credit: Katie Tegtmeyer)

Do you know any poor, hungry children?

A friend recently posted a film exposing the hunger problem here in the USA. It surprised me, that I’ve become so isolated from what must be large sections of the United States where hunger is a problem. See the excerpt here:

A Place At The Table

The film makes the point that in America we don’t think a child is severely hungry unless he or she looks like a skin-and-bones sub-Saharan sufferer. But all body types can qualify. In fact, as Raj Patel, the author of “Stuffed & Starved,” says, hunger and obesity, so often founded on cheap carbohydrates, are closely linked. “They are both signs of insufficient foods you need to be healthy.”

Many in our country will counter that the poor are hungry because they don’t know how to manage their lives. One such writer is Paul Roderick Gregory writing from the “front lines” for Forbes Magazine.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2013/06/09/poverty-and-hunger-in-america-a-letter-from-the-front-line/

What are the real statistics? Who cares?

Here’s what I found from a reliable US source: http://www.bread.org/

Hunger and Poverty Facts

Heather Rude-Turner depends on EITC (earned income tax credit) to help support her family

Hunger

  • 14.5 percent of U.S. households struggle to put enough food on the table. More than 48 million Americans—including 16.2 million children—live in these households.
    Source: Household Food Security in the United States, 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2011. (Table 1A, Table 1B)  
  • More than one in five children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, nearly one in three children is at risk of hunger.
    Source: Household Food Security in the United States, 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, September 2011. (Table 1B, Table 3).

Child Nutrition

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)

Food Spending

  • Low-income households already spend a greater share of their income on food. Food accounts for 16.4 percent of spending for households making less than $10,000 per year compared to the U.S. average of 12.7 percent.
    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2006.

Obesity/Nutrition

  • Participation in federal nutrition programs reduces the risk of girls becoming overweight by increasing access to an adequate, nutritious diet. School-aged girls enrolled in SNAP, school lunch, and school breakfast programs are 68 percent less likely to be overweight than food-insecure girls who do not participate in the programs.
    Source: Lower Risk of Overweight in School-aged Food-Insecure Girls Who Participate in Food Assistance. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vul. 157, No. 8, pp. 780-784, August 2003.

Poverty

More than one in seven people in the United States lives below the poverty line, which is $22,113 for a family of four in 2010. More than one in five children in the United States lives below the poverty line. Source: 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplements from the Current Population Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011. 

  • Most Americans (51.4 percent) will live in poverty at some point before age 65.
    Source: Urban Institute, Transitioning In and Out of Poverty, 2007. 
  • 65 percent of low-income families have at least one working family member, and 79 percent of single mothers who head households work.
    Source: Income, Earnings, and Poverty data from the 2010 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011. 
  • In most areas, a family of four needs to earn twice the poverty line to provide children with basic necessities.
    Source: National Center for Children in Poverty, Budgeting for Basic Needs, March 2009.  
  • Nationally, more than 44 percent of children live in low-income working families (families who earn less than twice the poverty line).
    Source: Income, Earnings, and Poverty data from the 2010 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2011.
  • A person working full-time at the minimum wage earns about $14,500 a year. The official poverty line for a family of three—one parent with two children—is $17,568.

Further Reading

Spotlight: Hunger and Poverty among African Americans

Did you know? One in four African-Americans lives below the federal poverty line, compared to about one in eight Americans overall.

As I was growing up, I seldom had fresh produce except what was in season from our garden in the summer. We ate a very basic diet consisting of canned and packaged foods bought once a month at a grocery store seven miles away. Our luxuries were beef, chicken, and tuna fish, never fresh fish. The vegetables we ate were carrots, potatoes and cabbage and green beans all very well cooked English and German style, seasoned only with salt and pepper. Our treats were baked bread, pies and other sweets.

To this day, I fight my craving for carbs and obesity haunts my body as it did my mom’s and many in her family. Thanks in part to our having access to fresh produce in grocery stores (a modern lifestyle) we eat very differently than mom and I did back in the 50’s and 60’s. However, mom read the latest nutritional findings and did the best she could. Health standards have changed a lot since I was a child.

I just wish that people making the decisions in Washington would step out of their imaginary” front lines” and visit the areas where people claim to be hungry. Give these families an afternoon of their time, and listen for their hungry bellies growling. Maybe it is all “manufactured”…but what if it isn’t?

*

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/07/201371892231367525.html

Accept Same-Sex Marriage, Or…?


Same-sex marriage counter protest at the anti ...

Same-sex marriage counter protest at the anti gay marriage rally (Photo credit: Fibonacci Blue)

Last week I wrote about a dilemma regarding same-sex relationships. One person wrote me saying that; 1. I was brave to speak out 2. He thinks that a lot of people feel the same way but aren’t expressing it.

I’m glad a lot of people didn’t jump on my “bandwagon”. That’s not why I wrote it.

I suspect these silent people aren’t easy to stereotype.  They aren’t people who demonstrate against or won’t associate with same-sex couples. I believe many of them, like me, may value gay teachers who teach our children well. Perhaps they are like Dan Cathy. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/01/chick-fil-a-ceo-and-gay-activist-are-now-friends/

We are also people of faith who simply believe in the biblical definition of traditional marriage and resist being forced by Federal Law into approving a lifestyle which violates a clear Biblical prohibition. This is not at all like slavery or equality of women which could be justified by implication from Scripture but which was later addressed:

Galatians 3:28

New International Version (NIV)

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Of course, our country is made up of many people with diverse belief systems and it is not a Christian Theocracy. I don’t believe we should ban same-sex relationships as illegal, but as I listened today to pundits discussing the future of politics, and read yesterday about how politicians will have to “evolve” to affirm “Gay Marriage“, I sensed a chilling trend.

Won’t this mean that people with a desire to serve in politics and to bring about justice but who also hold Biblical convictions (often a morally steadying influence) may no longer be qualified for office because there will be a new litmus test…Endorsement of Same-Sex marriage?

I fault the religious right as much as the left for bringing us to this place in our society. How would Christ respond to couples in same-sex relationships? Certainly not like many Christians who have either avoided them in fear and confusion, demonstrated against them in our schools and organizations, or threatened and killed them. No wonder they are angry and feel the need to defend themselves legally.

I found the following article from the Witherspoon Institute, Public Discourse, describes quite well the pressures felt by people with Biblical convictions.  A quote from the article follows. I will appreciate your comments.

“Either the Supreme Court creates a new fundamental right to same-sex “marriage” or it preserves religious liberty.”

Marriage, Religious Liberty, and the Ban Myth | Public Discourse.

For discussion:

Gay Marriage Revisited


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd”

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sorry for the hateful rhetoric that comes out of people’s mouths about same-sex relationships. I realize that some of this garbage originates out of misguided Christian beliefs, and I would defend a Gay person to my death against a hateful bigoted Christian.

I also want my Gay friends to know that I am struggling over what the Scriptures teach.

I often talk about this with Christians who say,  “We know same-sex relationships are wrong: we love the person but we hate the sin.”

“God says it, I believe it, That settles it!”

But, somehow, I feel that just isn’t enough for our complex society.

I mention that Jesus hadn’t spoken about it…”Well, No.”

What does it mean that Jesus didn’t speak about same-sex relationships but Paul did?

I am one follower of Christ, who doesn’t separate  the Scriptures into “Red Letters” as my Social Activist heroes, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo tend to do. This means they are primarily followers of those words of Christ and leave to (?) the rest

But, since I began to follow Christ as a very young person, the Bible has been my guidebook. How else could I know God? Did He have a plan for me? We are guided by circumstance, by counsel, but the Bible is the best instruction manual I know on how to live and I’ve followed it my entire adult life and found it very practical and foolproof.

But, God’s ways aren’t always the easiest to figure out. (HA!)

I’ve found God’s love to be great and covering over a multitude of my wrongs and even, societal wrongs which I would like to wipe off the map.

I know God doesn’t condone injustice and ill-treatment of people who are helpless, and that He tells us to not judge others. We are supposed to leave that to Him. But, we are supposed to be discerning and make wise decisions about life.

So, I struggle with what the Bible teaches sometimes, and there are some Scriptures I just wish weren’t in there! I used to think people chose to be in same-sex relationships, because I didn’t think God would make “mistakes” about sexuality, but, I’ve changed in that.

I really don’t understand it, but I think our world isn’t perfect and few sexual relationships are either. So…I abandoned that theory.  But, why on earth would God allow things to become sooo hard?

Did He want people to remain celibate? That is, not have sex unless they were married? Then is Gay Marriage a part of His plan? Sounds good, right?

But, how can I say this boldly enough??? I CAN’T JUST IGNORE WHAT IS CLEARLY FORBIDDEN IN SCRIPTURE…SUCH AS ADULTERY, GLUTTONY, AND LYING WITH THE SAME SEX.

Maybe people like me died in prison in the past, because their religious beliefs didn’t coincide with what was politically correct. They could not change what they believed to be true.

I would hope that our society would be open to Christians and non-Christians who believe different things. But, you know, there is unprecedented pressure on us Christians to accept Gay rights, without regard to our own beliefs.  It’s like we have to go into the closet while Gay people come out.

Is that what is expected?

Hmm?

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2013/03/15/gay-marriage-revisited/

Celebrating Nowruz


Haftsin table of Nowruz, Iranian tradition of ...

Haftsin table of Nowruz, Iranian tradition of new year (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

English: Celebrating Novruz Bayram wearing tra...

English: Celebrating Novruz Bayram wearing traditional costumes in Baku, Azerbaijan. Русский: Празднование Новруз байрам в Баку. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’ll be celebrating Nowruz with some new friends of mine next week.

 

 

 

I hope to write about it.

 

 

 

In the meantime, here’s a bit of information.

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nowruz

 

 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO_Intangible_Cultural_Heritage_Lists

 

 

 

If You Invite An International Student Home For Thanksgiving | Vicki Valosik | Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine


If You Invite An International Student Home For Thanksgiving | Vicki Valosik | Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine.

Why the Trinity?


StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass Baptism

StJohnsAshfield StainedGlass Baptism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several days ago, I was reading the story of Jesus being baptized by John Baptist in the book of Matthew, chapter 3.  He writes in vss 16, 17: “At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

My first thoughts after reading went to our Muslim friends who always ask us if we think Jesus is God’s Son. It’s a painful subject and often a conversation stopper or an argument starter because they believe very strongly that Christians worship THREE Gods! WE DON’T, but trying to explain why we believe in ONE God who is Triune is very difficult and inconvenient.

I love and respect our Muslim friends and I understand their passion for the One True God…Allah and His purity, so I want to explain why we also worship ONE God.  But, I’ve never been successful in explaining our beliefs in the Trinity to their satisfaction.

As I understand it, a good many Muslims think we worship God the creator who had sex with Mary thus producing a son, Jesus.  Some believe we worship God, Mary and Jesus. Not True.

Others don’t believe this, but all believe that Jesus is NOT God’s Son.

And who can blame them? If we’re honest, it’s difficult for us Christians to understand much less explain.

That’s why I’m posting this article from Christianity Today about the Trinity, “Three is the Loveliest Number”. It may not persuade any Muslims, but it provided me with an “epiphany” about Christians (and perhaps why so many in our country expect more of the USA as a once/so-called Christian nation).

Christians are called to be culturally different from other cultures that do not believe in the Trinity.

We are called to a lifestyle of relationship, with God and with others:   Love, forgiveness, gratitude, joy, peace, patience and other qualities that always existed in God’s relationship with His Son are to be in evidence in our daily lives.

What a great challenge to begin the New Year!

I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.

Three Is the Loveliest Number | Christianity Today.