Category Archives: Death

Something We Can Agree On: From the Aftermath of The Sandy Hook School Shooting

This goes with a complimentary post:

Art of Advocacy: How the Sandy Hook Shooting Can Awaken Us

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After the horrific Sandy Hook Shooting a week ago, where almost thirty people were brutally murdered, I was sent this post written by fiction novelist and analyst, Joel Rosenberg. It doesn’t take long to infer he is a classic right-winged W.A.S.P.  Actually, I agreed overall with what he had written in his post. But I was irked by it too. It seemed so . . . generic.

Indeed, Americans need to be better, different, remade.

Yes, we need our schools to be great (we just differ on how this looks).

We want our politics to be awesome (again, where we are all but unified).

Indeed, we should stop bad people and keep guns from bad people (yes, that includes both concerned sides of the gun debate).

Then, undoubtedly, we really need our families to improve.

Oh, and maybe we shouldn’t let our eight-year-olds whittle their days away playing Assassins Creed.

We need to stop sinning. Pretty sure that is a given.

(On a quick side-note, no pointing fingers! We are all guilty of sinning, so stop saying it is the people who kill their babies’ fault, or God’s wrath on us because some people sleep with whomever- I’m pretty sure self-righteousness, pride, lying, lusting over porn, etc… all qualify as sins too). 

Lastly, it should be obvious that there is evil in our world, even though there is a lot of good stuff in the world too (Look at my rant on this here if you haven’t yet).

To all of this- No kidding!

Not to be mean to or anything, but thanks for stating the obvious, buddy (Rosenberg)! Even so, maybe sometimes someone does need to state the obvious.

Yes, we need help to be transformed, and I believe we should pray. I believe we can only be remade by seeking out the life Jesus promises (for many reasons, feel free to ask why).

But instead of focusing on guns, politics, prayer, schools, religion mixed with politics, views on abortion, video games, military, etc… all which are not agreed on and are hotly being debated in the wake of Sandy Hook, my question revolves more around how we can be practically proactive on something we can agree on.

In case you haven’t read a version of this blog post yet, this is a must read:

I Am Adam Lanzas Mother

After reading this, and pushing aside our initial “What the ______!” reaction, I have no doubt EVERYONE believes we need to help parents and children like these.

Why are Michael and Adam Lanza the way they are? Are they born with crime in their DNA? Are they products of their environment? Do they just have terrible mental illnesses? Could it be more than that? Do they have demonic influences?

I don’t know and this is where we will start differing in our opinions again.

But what I do know is that even if Americans are remade and there is a “revival” in America, that doesn’t guarantee horrific things like the Sandy Hook Shooting will disappear. I don’t think more people being quick-fixed “saved” will change our world, not they have true life-change. Then, if someone prays over a loudspeaker at school, verses just with their friends around a flagpole- that isn’t going to make a school immune to a violent upheaval either.

Why? Because you need less than .0000001 percent of the population to do terrorist-like activities.

But what we can do, proactively, is look around us and start caring for parents who are readily asking for help, like Michael’s mom. If we had relationships with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and actually chose to get uncomfortable enough with them to actually talk about more than the weather, then we might be able to support families who need it.

I am part of an experiment called the Art of Neighboring. One of the challenges is to know families around you so well, you actually know the state of their marriages. Or maybe, in this case, the state of their children.

You see, I need people to help me parent.  I know others need that too, and feel honored when people I know are willing to consider things I have learned.  What if we lived life with people so we could be there for them when they have an out-of-control kid? What if we hosted community parenting classes, advocating for parents when they confess their child scares them? They don’t have to agree with everything we say. It requires a certain vulnerability to have conversations like these, a vulnerability we don’t often embrace.

It goes beyond parenting, but about being there for students, about being there for young adults as they find their way in college, in the world.

Am I so naive to believe that if we are attentive to those around us, if we learned how to have healthy conversations with those in our circles, even if challenging, lives could be spared? Am I so naive to believe that living life with people literally changes the world?

Why yes. I think I am.

Then, the other obvious factor is that another scenario needs to be available rather than just throwing thirteen-year-olders with mental illnesses in jail. I am not sure what that looks like, but it looks like something. Who will raise up to the challenge to make that happen? Who already is making that happen? How can we support their work?

Yes, of course I want the people in our country, heck, in our world, to be spiritually transformed. I think we should seek this, pray for this, and ya, ask God to heal our land. But having real relationships with people around us and coming up with immediate solutions to help families like Michael’s is a practical stepping stone that I think we can all agree on. This might be vague, but it is less generic than “God Save America.” It is better than just arguing about what is wrong; who is wrong.

And, now that I have effectively written a whole blog post on the subject, I must humble myself by saying I need to be more aware of those around me. I have had friends talk with me about their children’s mental illnesses, and I was either skeptical or didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t offer to help them or walk through their unique situation with them, and for that I am sorry.

God, please change me to be aware of and compassionate for those around me. When it happens, help me to have a clue on how to be there for a family walking through these types of situations. Please transform us to care for the Adam Lanza’s of the world and know how to fight the “rulers and authorities of darkness” which the Bible’s Ephesians tells us our real battle is against. And as always, thank you for your love and bigness, even in the midst of suffering like this. You are enough. Amen.

Again, the companion post to this one is found at The Average Advocate, where I typically blog. But as this didn’t really fit the theme of that website, I decided to post it here on my personal blog instead. Be sure to check it out and sign up to receive those posts!

From “Internet Minute of Silence Declared for Sandy Hook Victims” Zoe Fox from Mashable.org

Pray for a Recently Attacked Village in Burma

This makes me sad, knowing this is just happening. This sounds like a typical genocidal displacement the Burmese Army has been conducting with regularity for years. They target villages of minorities and/or minority religions (like Christians, as in this village) and randomly attack them, trying to kill or at least hurt those in the village. Can you take a few minutes to pray for those in this village today? I don’t know much about this ministry, although I have received their updates for awhile.The idea of making cards and sending them to encourage those who survived seemed to be a cool idea. I haven’t researched the organization enough for me to recommend donating to them. Below is the email I received (Somewhat in thick Christianese).

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Brothers and sisters,

   If you are reading this, I am confident in the Lord in you, that the recent events of which I shall describe will be prayed over fervently.  On July 22nd an entire village was assaulted and razed to the ground in E. Burma.  This might not mean that much, perhaps a blip of news from a faraway country that has problems like this all the time, I pray and trust it means not so to thee.  As I prepare to send my team leader in before the sun shines this very moment, hiding in the jungle are countless men, women and children.  The casualty total is not known just yet, nor will it be soon.  The very pulpit of a church in which my Pastor, Joe Tuccinardi, myself, and other brothers have preached in is ashes.  The very schools that were built with men’s hands through the donations of some blessed brethren stand no more.  As I write and hear the monsoon rains I know our brothers and sisters in Christ are burying their dead, hiding in the forest, wet, cold and hungry.  This is one of the brazen attacks recently, and there shall be more.  As I met with some strong brothers in the Lord this evening/night, as they prepare to answer God’s call on their lives going back “home” tomorrow, we lose not hope.  We are not discouraged, we are not destroyed, we will not give up in believing that God shall use this according to His Will, that His sovereign hand was upon all the comings and goings of the Burmese Army.  We prayed for the “enemy”, knowing that they are just in darkness, blind, needing love, compassion and grace to touch their hearts now.  We prayed for all those who are mourning, who have lost more than loved ones, who have no other desire but to till the land and worship Christ peacefully.  More than likely this very moment that you are reading this someone is being raped, someone is starving to death, someone is burying their child but they, nor we shall lose hope, for our hope does not disappoint.  Now is the time to pray more than ever, if I am a voice crying in the wilderness, so be it, I shall call upon the God of Jacob, the Lord of Hosts for only His arm is not shortened, it can save.  Until I have official clearance to release the full report of this massacre, God knows its name and more importantly His sheep that dwell within it.  Pray with us please, your prayers change things.  I am unworthy and so blessed to be laying next to my “miracle” son, and my wonderful wife right now.  I don’t deserve to have a roof over my head for my Savior had none, I don’t have a right to breathe if not for Christ.  As the faces and voices of the brothers and sisters in Muthraw District play over and over in my mind, only smiles, laughing, praying, worshiping, working hard with our hands, enduring hardship without a single complaint are their personifications.  I know not which ones I will see on this earth again, but I am confident that right now some are in a glorious new body, in the presence of the glory of the throne of God. 

   Weep with those who weep, yay, rejoice with those who rejoice, but I encourage thee ne’er to be tween the two, ne’er be in doubt, for our God is mighty, holy and the great I AM.  Please direct your prayers towards Muthraw District, E. Burma, specifically as the Holy Spirit imparts unto thee, or don’t if you have not the time, we still love you the same only because He loved us first. 

    I am writing this as fast as possible, and prayerfully tomorrow the first load of relief will arrive, but God is there and here now, so pray, I beseech thee, as you have been so faithful before to do.  If you feel like writing I will make sure whatever you send (letters, postcards, a hand drawn picture) will be hand delivered to a weary soul in search of a cold cup of water, good news from a far country. If you are moved with compassion to be a part of giving immediate assistance, please don’t hesitate, bibles, rice, plastic tarps, pots, baby clothes and medicine will get to those who need it, and we will rebuild the schools, the churches and the homes, so after the landmines are cleared and the SPDC retreats, warmth and love and fellowship in Christ will continue.  All information is below, all wisdom, power and authority is above, go boldly before the throne of God.

Unworthy to die for Christ,
P. James and the Love in Action team E. Burma
“Please don’t pray that God takes away whatever sufferings He has for us, we thank Him, please pray we may be steadfast and have strength to be faithful until the end”-  Thera Doh **** **, Karen Pastor of the main church that was burnt down when I asked him what does he want prayer for.

Mailing address:
LIA c/o James Garwood
P.O. Box 67
Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son
Thailand, 58110

Paypal donations:fordomosake@gmail.com

In USA email Pastor Joe Tuccinardi for more details thaicalvary@aol.com

Love in Action
5353 Steamboat Way
Boise, ID 83713

Thing’s I Learned From my Night with a TV

My daughter’s friend decided to ride her choochoo train down the stairs. The result of this thrill-ride, was pain, I assume. Especially as she has spent much of the past few days in-and-out of the hospital, getting her little arm put back together again. I have been inspired to remove all “riding” toys away from staircases without baby gates.

My daughter is only friends with this little girl because I am friends with her parents. So, in actuality I should have said “My friend’s daughter decided to. . . ” They go to our small-group, which makes me thankful that I rather like their family. Because I am a good person I decided to offer my “babysitting” services tonight after my good friend/neighbor/family, Jill, has already babysat for them twice. Actually, I think it was more so because I was jealous that Jill would get all the credit for being a good person, and I none. If you read the Bible, you know that any such prideful motive results in no reward. Still, I didn’t get nothing out of this.

I got to watch TV. The real thing. Not Hulu, my typical computer TV fare, or even watching a DVD on a TV. It was real TV where you lounge around and change channels and stuff. If you know me, you know I don’t do this because we don’t have a TV which is usable as a TV. If you know us well, you know that we don’t want such a vile instrument of evil in our home. Or at minimum, we don’t want to pay the money and are too lazy to get said vile instrument of evil working in our house. Whatever. In otherwords, don’t watch TV much.

TV is a window to the world. Its a dab slower than the super-sonic internet (that we do have). Unlike the Internet, with the whole world at your fingertips, TV filters the world so you don’t have overwhelming choices. You just sit there, fumble your fingers over a ‘hookie‘ (i.e., remote control), and someone else chooses what you download into your brain. And this is what I learned from such a spectacular window on the boob-tube:

Samoa is actually a territory of the United States! Well, part of Samoa is. Recently, their economy was devastated thanks to SunKisk’s corporate value system. Also, a few months ago they had an 8.1 earthquake, resulting in a small, but deadly tsunami. Poor Samoa, how did I not even know?! But they do have some good things going for them. 200 of their 500,000 people play at least division one football (which is really good, right?)! I am no mathematician, but there seems to be some major connection between football and Samoa. I got to watch a really cool haka war-dance they do for football practice warm-ups, similar to the haka I learned when in Fiji. Fjij and Samoa are relatively close, which is probably the only reason this caught my attention.

The Golden Globe Awards give awards for both TV shows, and movies. Watching them is like getting media review of the last year. After watching them I am officially current on my popular culture. I can tell you who had a funky dress, who cried, and what movies the rest of the planet considers worth seeing that maybe I should see (you know, just to keep from sounding like an idiot). I grew up in California, which is where the awards took place. Maybe this is the reason this caught my attention.

Did you know I like the name Penelope? Its so, well, confusingly fun to say. Penelope. Penelope! I think she is one of the most beautiful actresses, along with all the rest of them. Did you know Penelope Cruz is sometimes insecure? Of course! She is also very stubborn, thinks Tom Cruise is treated wrongly (we share an opinion) and grew up in the outskirts of Madrid! I was near where Penelope grew up when I was in Madrid, which is probably the reason she caught my attention.

Some dude thinks we should be happy that we can’t control the weather, even though the people in Florida have frozen oranges. I too have been to Florida a really long time ago, which is probably the only reason this caught my attention. My brain is becoming a frozen orange popsicle.

Yet Haiti, Haiti caught my attention for a whole different reason, not because there was sometime I was nearby or some other frame of reference. My heart breaks for Haiti, just like I want it to for those few unheard of in Samoa who’s lives were also ruined a few months ago, even if there are 1/100 of the amount of people. Although I keep up with the news, and have seen my fair-share of pictures of the disaster, I haven’t really watched any TV clips of it until tonight. Watching doctors amputate appendages with saws they found and sterilized with vodka, and seeing bodies piled in the streets, being picked up by earth-movers is surreal. As always, I contemplate the horrors that others experience and cry for a thousand reasons. You might feel those reasons too, or surely we share at least one or two of the thoughts on the issue. My fear is not just that Haitians are dying without the help they need, but that those in less heard of crisis’s around the globe will also suffer, as we will stop any assistance to others in need. Need is always great. There is no shortage of it.

My TV watching evening is over and I have gleaned some random knowledge, while relaxing a little and maintaining indifference to our own TV ownership (or lack thereof). Besides feeling like this is the time to proclaim my innocence, that I was not a bad babysitter as their daughter was sleeping the entire time of my stay- I should also note that in this life we can’t protect ourselves forever. We try to live the good life, enjoying our TV shows, making money, havin‘ babies to watch TV other shows. There is nothing wrong with wanting comfort. But there is something wrong when we are so comfortable we forget to love God and love God by loving others. There is something wrong when we think we can keep ourselves from the bad things, and the unexpected things. We treat ourselves like overprotective parents, sitting in emotional and physical safety-nets while guarding our rights, our happiness, and our money (as if we deserve any of it). And maybe we do deserve it. We deserve the worst reward, comfort in this life alone. Instead, lets challenge ourselves to not just watch the world around us on our TV sets (or whatever characterizes your safety-net of comfort and relaxation). We must always be aware of the greater world around us, as lives never cease to be at stake.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.

And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 (New International Version)

Done with #1

Yey! I got an A! I finished my first class at Ashford last week and I just received my grade and three credits. Only 36 credits more to go (12 classes) . . . But its the process of learning that is the joy, right? Not the degree? That’s what I am telling myself, at least! After all, I did enjoy this class. I was able to be introspective, thinking about who I am, where I came from and where I am going. I had fun analyzing various theories, seeing if I really agreed with them (and if so, looking at where they apply). I discovered I should have 4 or more kids if I want a better chance to live to one hundred. And, I have been validated by science that having a strong “religious” belief will help me deal with grief, death, and life much better. If anything, I have figured out “adulthood” to a greater degree, which makes me feel like I better understand people. Now that this class is done, I have slightly less “deep” things to consider, such as cloth diapers (if you read my last post). Maybe I need to be in another class ASAP!

If I had Six Months to Live . . .


If I had six months to live what would I do? This was a discussion question I had to write an answer for after we studied the chapter about death and dying in my adult development psychology class. Its easy for me to write lists of goals to do throughout my life time. I try to make a new list yearly as its interesting for me to see what stays the same and what changes. But if my perceived life-time was shortened to just six months? That means I would be dying around my 25th birthday, in September. I guess as follows is what I would hope those six months to look like:

I think firstly, I would live out a spiritual purpose to a greater extent. I would try to know God more. I believe in the afterlife, and that I will go to heaven because I have trusted Jesus to cover over anything I’ve done wrong. I believe my hope during this six month time period would be based upon this faith I have. I would probably capitalize on it to try to know God more now if I will spend the afterlife with Him as well as to sustain me with as much peace as possible before I die.

I have always believed I am alive for a reason. I don’t think I would try to be consumed with the question “Have I fulfilled my purpose yet?” but I would hopefully try to be purposeful with my time, spending it in ways that could continue making an impact after I died. It would just be trying to have an overall attitude of investment.

Spending time with my family and trying to make it easier on them would be a major focus for me. I think I would try to leave something behind for my daughter and soon-to-be son to help them know who their mother was. I’d probably try to make a journal and/or scrapbooks for them, as well as leave them cards/videos for different ages of their lives. I would likely make something similar for my husband which I hope would help him remember me and let go of me at the same time. Of course, just trying to spend a lot of time and create memorable experience with them as well as my parents and other family members and friends would be my hope.

I have no doubt that I would try to take care of arrangements after I die, such as for my children’s upbringing and funeral stuff. I’d also write down some ideas and plans I have which I would have love to spend my life doing. Maybe someone would catch those visions and take them on to use them as a positive impact in the world. I would also hope to record some of the music I have written, and finish some artwork I have never finished.

I’d love to spend some of my time traveling, maybe going away every few weeks to visit people I know in California and other places. I’d also love to travel some more internationally, going to locations I have never been but have always hoped I’d have a chance to go. I would hope that it could be fun and enjoyable traveling, yet also I would love to go places where I could help during the time I was visiting. I don’t think I would be so concerned with how I was helping, as much as just knowing I had a chance to get my mind off of myself and my condition, whether that would be distributing relief aid, teaching ESL, working in orphanages or spending time showing love to people forced into prostitution or slavery.

Randomly, I would also love to go parceling once. Mainly I just hope I could wrap up my life and relationships here, make a difference and prepare for moving on. I would love to be an example of living the shortness of life I have left as life to the fullest.