Category Archives: Relationships

Does it Even Matter? Food in France Feeding Terrorism and Fears

I watched and read this article today in CBN News, by reported Dale Hurd (January 5, 2011). The article was titled “Muslim Halal Food Sales Supporting Terrorism?” The article went to point out a major discrepancy in French politics, while unveiling that buying Halal meat might very well be supporting Terrorism. I believe them.

And yet, the article irked me.  First of all, why are we being told about what is happening in French politics, on this one issue? The only thing I ever hear about France these days has something to do with Islam. Surely there are other things going on in France! The only reason we must be being told about it, again, from a new angle, is because we care. So then I ask myself, why do we care? Or more specifically, this branded Christian American news source (CBN) is reporting on possible terrorist links dealing with  food in France. And maybe, if that outrages us, we should look around us to notice we just might be eating the same food here. Tyranny!

I wasn’t too sure why this irked me, so I wrote out ten points, as follows, for no good reason, in which I analyzed this article from the what I believe is a Biblical perspective (note, not traditional American Christian- you can read all their comments in the comment page just to get a feel of their outrage at Halal):

1.) Halal meat is healthier than our typical drugged-up, corn and hormone fed, stuffed in cages meat. So, the way of health, you can easily say its preferable. If our bodies are supposed to be a temple of God, then yes, maybe we should all eat halal meat. I’ve considered it.

2.) If we should get rid of everything associated with Sharia, as the man at the end of the article was saying, then shouldn’t we also get rid of rice, flour, etc…? Those are acceptable under Sharia law, too, right? In fact, we should also get rid of many concepts of justice Islam and Western Democracy agrees on. That Christians agree with. Just because its Sharia. Really now, we can’t be against everything Sharia.

3.) Paul said its okay to eat meat offered to idols- hence the whole Mecca-Allah-professional Muslim cow-killer shouldn’t be a moral issue for Christians eating halal (unless you are causing others to sin because they believe it is wrong, which just might be the case, now thanks to this article).

4.) Was any of the money back in the meat-offered-to-idols day funneled towards religions/politics/ideologies that were not Christian? I assume so. Which means, I can argue that it is okay once again (from solely a moral standpoint) to buy/eat meat of another religion/ideology.

5.) When I buy from KFC or McDonalds, one could say I fund the spread of Westernism, Colonialism, Self-indulgence….maybe even humanism. In fact, we are terribly guilty of major damage on the world, possibly turning many away from the true God by our Western influence on the world. So, from that logic, would that mean I shouldn’t buy KFC or McDonalds? But, both the U.S. and in France are already seriously saturated in these humanistic ideologies which aren’t really for God. Does it matter which not-Jesus religion/spirituality we are living in culturally? Yes, we have our preference for freedoms, in democracy, but, is that anything more than a preference?

6.)  Please note that in France the concept of freedom of religion and separation of church & state is different in the U.S. In France, this goes beyond just keeping things separate.  It means that anything not French, whatever might be a threat to nationalism/state as first, is not allowed. The goal is to keep everyone the same, so nothing stands out except being French. My description might not be perfect of French politics, but be aware that there is a definite difference, and do some research on it. So, with that said, please note that the French politician + groups mentioned in this article are speaking from this worldview. Which means that it is probably even more horrible for them, than it would be for us, to see the French government having connections to Islam, which is overtaking the country. Their fight is slightly different from just a fight for democracy as we as Americans might understand it.

7.) I personally am not pro-Islam or Muslim by any means.  I think Islamization its something everyone needs to be aware of, because it’s already upon us (if you study population growth, migration, and birth rates, you will see that within this century our Western civilizations as we know them will look drastically different). I believe the question that this “threat” to our current culture is really a matter of learning how to live, as Christians, in a new world which will likely look more Islamic. The question isn’t “How should we put our energies into stopping it?” After all, in some places, especially in Europe, it’s too late for that.

8.) I believe we are called to be Christians above being Americans. We constantly need to check the basis of our concerns. Are we afraid of Islam because it will negatively affect our lives, our comfort, or worldview as we know it? That is a very understandable fear.  But why are we striving for the sake of democracy? I am far from saying this is bad. I am pro-democracy, I believe much less oppression happens in a Republic than any other type of government. And yet, I think we need to question the roots of any judgments we make or act on- do these judgments embody God’s character and would our actions be following Jesus? Or is the root our love for our homeland, America and the democracy we enjoy? These are sometimes in conflict. So we must ask ourselves, what is most important?

9.) I think we should consider other ways of fighting this process than just boycotting halal, freaking out, or trying to ban all things Islamic through the political process. Maybe these aren’t bad, but I think they aren’t going to bring about sustainable change. It might be too late for passionate campaigns, which encourage WASPs (and other good ol’ American Christians) have more babies in order to race with that insane growth rate of Muslim populations.

10.) I guess what it comes down to, is that I really believe loving Muslims, showing Jesus to them, is more sustainable than getting worked about halal. Even if they don’t all become Christians, which I think would be just awesome, at least being exposed to another worldview is a major force for change. It is undoubtedly more effective to promoting opportunities which provide meaning to life (like having an occupation rather than killing the infidels), while educating (giving alternate worldviews to radical extremist Islam).

The reason this article irks me is that it doesn’t consider the people who follow the religion of Islam, many who do so just culturally rather than fanatically. It feeds the fear American have against Muslims, urging us to run the opposite way, rather than encouraging us to show love. The article might seemingly be about justice, a character trait of God.  We can choose to let an ideology which we are uncomfortable with turn us away from following Jesus, who says to love our enemies, and teach others to follow Him.  I don’t remember Jesus saying we should not buy Halal meat. What if we were able to help lead the guy who sales Halal kabobs to Christianity because we spoke with him, laughed with him while we ate what he made us- rather than boycotting him. Maybe preventing innocent deaths through terrorism would be what would happen if we ignored the halal-guy, or picketed his meat. At minimum, though, we should seriously consider what furthers God’s kingdom more.

Recently a guy from my town  was captured for assisting a plot (a fake plot, sneakily created by the FBI) of terrorism made for the D.C. metro system. I am glad they caught him. But, I can almost guarantee you, no American had ever invited him into their home or really befriended him. Can you blame him for not changing his worldview, when we, the rich self-focused Americans in my town, never relationally presented him with another worldview? When instead we probably only reinforced his hate for us? In his culture he would have been accepted in a new place. In ours, he was shunned. For all I know, I might have walked right by him five times in the course of five days, while never even smiling at him. The people who carry a culture and religion is what perpetuates that ideology. We, the people, by changing our attitudes towards Muslims just might have influence on the very ideology we fight in courts against.  Simply, by just showing some love.

Muslim Halal Food Sales Supporting Terrorism?


In Search of the Refugee Resettlement Office

Today I tried to carry out an ambitious idea that I had last Sunday, June 20th, on Refugee Awareness Day. I got the kids ready, looked up information about the nearby refugee programs, and took off. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know their office hours and no one was answering the phone. Yet, luckily, while on my way, I was smart enough to call multiple times before I actually went too far. To my disappointment, no one ever answered the phone. I made a few pit stops, hoping to eventually hear from them. Finally I recognized I probably shouldn’t drive out to their main office in Arlington without at least knowing if they were open.

So, I guess this adventure will have to be completed some other time. I wonder if what it will end up being. Will we end up donating things? Or will it be more of a commitment, helping someone learn English? Or maybe our church’s ministry, L2F Needs Network can adopt a refugee family. At least I can explore the options, right?

Maybe you guys can hold me accountable to following through with one of my many ideas!

Problem Solving: Scrabble, Relationships, and Cars

Yes, I realize the terms within this post are a little weird. I blame that on my applied psychology textbook. Yes, I know that its odd I am talking about a guy jumping out of a burning skyscraper. Really, it wasn’t my idea. This post is responding to a specific prompt; it is a discussion essay I wrote for my current class, focusing on business psychology. I was really bored writing it, so I tried to liven it up a little bit with some scenarios which made it somewhat more entertaining for me. Besides, my professor asked for some real-world examples : )

Problem solving is a basic skill that ideally would be carried out by everyone, yet making healthy decisions is not always the order of the day. Many only rely on intuition to solve problems, which can actually be a great thing, if the experiences we have had in the past have built up our intuition to make healthy decisions. If a man jumped out of a skyscraper which was on fire, later contributing his survival to what he learned in business school, what he would be referring to would be the set of decision making skills he obtained in school.  The way he responded in the crisis was by learning to view the need to make quick decisions as a catalyst, rather than resorting to emotions as the guiding factor. Responding to crisis, not considering the fire as a stressful situation, yet instead as an exciting opportunity to strategically think through is what he learned was most important. Possibly, after making good decisions in times past, he wired his intuition to act in a way which then saved his life.

The man who jumped out of the skyscraper learned a multi-step process to filter problems through. In our everyday life, beyond just in times of crisis, we can use the same set. For example, imagine you are playing

the game Scrabble. First, you recognize the problem scenario: you are challenged to put a seven letter word, beginning with the letter “z,” in a spot which gives you triple-word score, yet somehow connects to the word “bubble.” The second step is to analyze the cause or underlying factors of the problem:  you want to win the game so that you will not lose a $50 bet to your Uncle Bobby-Joe who does not believe you can win an English-language game after studying Japanese abroad for the past three years.  The next step in solving the problem is searching for creative alternatives. So, while your Uncle Bobby-Joe is guzzling down his coffee, you take your letter tiles, place them in front of you, and scramble them into every possible formation. You can make zroidbe, zoirlde, and zoudire (which you note, are not words). Then you discover you can connect to a “b” while arranging your letters just so.  You can make “zebroid,” which is a word (you remember a tour guide explaining that this is what you call the offspring of a zebra and a horse).  You choose this word, making a decision, and then implement it, by setting the tiles down on the board. After, you evaluate your decision, which you found agreeable, as it gave you enough points to win the game and get an addition $50 in pocket-cash.

This above example might seem silly, yet even when we play games we make decisions. On a more serious note, many people might go through the same process when trying to overcome a difficulty in an estranged relationship, whether it be a spouse, a parent, or a friend. In this case recognizing what the problem is can be much more challenging, as there are often multiple problems. Even after journaling or going to counseling to analyze the root causes of the problems you have been having with whomever, knowing what to do about it can be just as challenging, if not more so. There are many other factors that can influence your decision such as your value system (such as, you don’t believe in divorce), your knowledge (communication techniques), emotional intelligence (you feel so hurt or angry its hard to not be swayed by these feelings), personality, creativeness, and the politics surrounding the relationship.  Even after weighing the pros and cons, and making a choice to try to reconcile the relationship, then you have to take the step. This step can be the hardest, as implementing a decision can require a lot of strength, time, resources and energy, let alone sometimes it requires help. Lastly, once again, you can evaluate the decision, whether it was the best thing for to continue this relationship, even if it required a lot of sacrifice.

The important actions we must take in having a successful ability to make good decisions is the ability to analyze, whether it be really spending time discovering what the problem is, or really thinking through possible solutions. In another life scenario, a decision I have been questioning for awhile, is what car should we buy and how and when should we buy it. As I am a creative person, also known as a dreamer or visionary, thinking of creative alternatives is one of my strong points. Creative people tend to make the most of problems in which the sky is the limit, but in this case, the boundary for creative alternatives is more like the size of a small cottage, if not confining cage.  I cannot invent a new method of buying a car, let alone have the
skill to invent my own car. Also, another factor I struggle with is being easily influenced. I care a lot about being diplomatic and am always aware of inter-relational dynamics (political considerations). As I am a people-pleaser, I often don’t want to make a decisions that might influence another, wanting them to be as happy with me as possible. This can cause me to worry that making the ethnic dinner, involving a combination of new flavors, might not be everyone else’s favorite, and therefore I allow my level of emotional intelligence to hinder my decision to create. In the case of getting a car, I want my husband to be perfectly satisfied with whatever car we get, and I want it to be a good fit for our kids in addition just to the pros and cons I already am analyzing. I have been researching types of cars and their reviews from various sources, in addition to learning about how to get the best deal when buying a car new, used, down, or with a loan (and from where to get a loan). I often find myself overwhelmed by so much information that I experience analysis paralysis, in which I can’t make a decision because there is too much information to accurately process. Even so, I am sure I will be able to make a better decision than I would otherwise, without taking everything into consideration, even if I am not convinced that it is “perfect.” The one thing I learned from this section in our material was that I do not need to be indecisive as I am already well-equipped to make good decisions, thanks to my past experiences and the decision making process I already typically use. Instead of letting stresses, crises, time-constraints, emotions, too much information, or placing too much value on what everyone else might prefer affect my decisions, I should just enjoy the opportunities I have to solve problems, being energized as I let myself be creative in making decisions. Not surprisingly, this makes me feel a little more relaxed.

DuBrin, A. (2004). Applying psychology: Individual and organizational effectiveness (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson / Prentice Hall.

Avi’s Phraseology

Her new phrase of the past couple days has been “Where is kitty? Where did kitty go? I don’t know!” and says it over and over again in her cute, hard to understand way.

Today when leaving Josh’s friends’ home, Josh asked me a question. I said “Oh, I don’t care.” In the backseat Avi pipped up “I care. I CARE. I CARE!!!” It was so funny; we had no clue she was even listening, why she said that, or that she even knew those words! She regularly comes up with phrases like this that send us reeling. Or, depending, we must attempt to hide our laughter so she won’t be offended, confused, or be commended for something bad.

Here is another one: We had a fire going which made a popping noise, as fires do. She looked at us and declared “Fire burped! Fire, it burped!” (Please note, she also calls farting “burping.” So I guess that would be a ‘butt burp’? Or as she calls it, a bum. So, a ‘bum burp’!).

She often jumps up and down declaring “I did it!” and “I made it!” when accomplishing minor or major, good, or not so good, feats. I credit this to my dad, her ‘grampy,’ who taught her how to play her fun, beloved, “mawn-key” (monkey) game on his iPhone.

When she wants to show us herself, she says “I’m me!” which she then repeats over and over again. Tonight she wrapped a towel around her waist, which I can only guess made her feel like a little princess. Either that, or she was reminiscent of the glories of taking a bath. Whatever it made her feel, she wanted us to take part in her excitement. Josh kept trying to teach her to add in “look at” but she just didn’t really get it. So, if you her a little voice saying “I’m me” over and over, it really is a statement of more than just self-awareness. Its more of a ‘everybody else be aware of me.’

When my parents came to visit at Thanksgiving, Avi could only say “tanks” for “thank you.” We were content with that, as it was a major step-up to actually be vocalizing anything when she previously only would use baby-sign language to communicate this phrase. Yet, my dad quickly got her to say “thank you.” So now she makes us melt by saying “Tank-you daddy” and “Tank-you mommy.” Its one of those amazingly precious phrases that makes me think of the Grinch that Stole Christmas. How? Well, “The Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes that day . . .” and the picture that accompanies this quote must be exactly what happens to my heart each time I hear her speak her gratitude. Is this why I am a parent?

As the parental units, I am generally referred to as “mom-mom” or “mommy” while Josh is “Daddy.” Sometimes we are loved and needed. Yet, other times she likes us to go away. Her “Moove mommy” has been a new one (which needs to be tempered). But we secretly laugh when she tries to push us away, saying this, so she can resume hiding under her blanket, or in the cupboard so she can secretly suck on Josiah’s “pass”(pacifier) or take care of her business. The other day she didn’t want to go home, so I tried to bribe her with being able to see Josh. Although this normally works, this time she replied with “no, no daddy” and a few minutes later she added to this with “no, no titol” (tickle) multiple times.

She rarely outright says “no!” anymore. I am so grateful for this as when she previously did so it made me crazy. Now she always says “no, no” as if she is wagging a finger at her students in her one-room school house.

She continues to call Josiah “buddy” though she also refers to him as “Boder” (brother). Others are generally “People.” A few weeks back she used her classic phrase, as she does countless times throughout the day, “wat is TAT?” while pointing to a group of kids in a parking lot. I told her that those were teenagers, that they were “people.” Since then she refers to most others as either a “fwind” (friend) or a people. So, its not uncommon to here “Its a people!”

These are some of her phrases, mannerisms and words. Of course, this barely scratches the surface of Avi-speak, but it will have to do for tonight. So, in Avi-speak I bid you “nitenite, fwind,” while offering you a kiss with smacking lips and protruding tongue.

Parenting: Step one

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot of late is my parenting goals. Its no secret that Avilynne has totally embraced the infamous Terrible Two’s, for anyone who has been around her for a few hours (or minutes, sometimes). Yes indeed, before her actual birthday she threw all sweet innocent babyhood out the window and started livin’ it up with drunken sippy-cup binges, screaming, head-banging tantrums and total self-absorption, manipulating the very adults she flirts with regularly. To me, the early dawn of the Terrible Two’s feels greatly unfair. A month, let alone a day extra of a toddler with this disease is one too many. But who am I joking? Its not like I was preparing for this although I have been thoroughly warned. Who is ever prepared to find out their child is diagnosed with a terminal illness, even if you are warned?

Of course, that might seem like an exaggeration. Yet, in a since its not, spiritually speaking. The Terrible Two’s just might be that reminder to us that our child is not the perfect concoction of our blissful marital love; instead its a little human that is also a little sinner. One time when Avi was acting up my husband sweetly looked at me and declared that those were our genes acting up in her (well, that’s my paraphrase). We passed on our least favorable DNA: we fall short of perfection (and typically pretty far from it). I am obviously not a believer in the inherent goodness of mankind. Truly, no biologist, or physiologist who has ever had a two-year old can actually believe that load of crap, can they? All to say, the Bible says that all have sinned, or stated in a way that makes more since- we all are selfish, self-serving and self-focused at our core. Even psychology testifies to this, with the id and the ego and all that jazz. Oh yes, of course we can try to be good and can be successful. But that just isn’t going to cut it.

And my daughter makes this truth self-evident. You want to know what she did on my birthday? Yes, my happy birthday!? She threw about fifteen temper-tantrums in the middle of quiet bookstore, and then ran across the store into the joining Starbucks! Some lady came out asking people throughout Barnes and Noble if the kid belonged to them! That was the second time that hour she ran off into oblivion. One time they had to close down part of a store to look for her. Then she was terrorizing Josiah, throwing the merchandise, and somehow I was supposed to carry her, my son, and all our stuff out of the store into the rain, leaving my unpaid for items and coffee behind? Really, I am not giving this story justice by providing you with details. I’ll spare you but do know, it was MISERABLE! I wanted to spank her into the next county yet instead I stood there, tantrum after another wishing my child was better-behaved, that people would look on me with grace rather than the contempt they were showing, while desperately wishing I had five more hands and a plug to shove in her mouth. This is not an unusual situation I have found myself in either. Don’t misunderstand me, Avi is a wonderful darling. She is a mysterious, exciting and a bubble of joy. But she is also Bad. Very very bad. Yes, her behavior can be bad, but there is something within her that is off too. The same something in all of us that is off which makes us so in need of God, so in need of love and grace amidst consequences and discipline we call life. So, by the grace of God parents everywhere have kindly been given the Terrible Two’s as a year to train up our kids so they won’t live in those Terrible Two’s their whole life long. Or at least to remind us that we sure need some help as parents before we go insane. It happens, you know.

I steam like a pressure cooker that has been sitting on the boiling flame of household affairs. Sometimes I feel like I am about to burst, and the facade of the gentle mother I pretend to be is quickly melting off thanks to my semi-sweet children (semi-sweet like chocolate chips). Hence I’ve started hitting the books. Yep, I’m asking for advice, watching others intently, discussing ideas and gleaning from the knowledge of those more experienced or more educated on the subject: PARENTING. I am convinced the Terrible Two’s were created by God to remind us that producing offspring means more than shoveling food down the pipe while occasionally wiping dirty noses and dirty bums (although that is important too). They are a reminder that we need a lot of help, and that our responsibility is greater than just what is on the outside.

Believing these two truths are, from my inexperienced and unprofessional opinion, the first place to start: that my children actually do need parenting due to their selfish human nature coupled with the fact that my spouse and I are the ones called to parent them (after all, I birthed them which was quite the experience, let me tell ya). If I have a beginning point to recognize what the heck is happening everyday I can move on from there. Yep, there is a kid and I am, what, supposed to parent? I know that might be overly simplistic for some, yet this simplicity really does drive me deeper because it acknowledges the responsibility I have.

Parenting is like being given an empty computer hard drive which already has a virus (if that’s possible) that we are responsible for programing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even matter if we are good with computers or not! We get to program a operating system anyway, a worldview complete with a culture, value-system, and basic survival skills in order for it to function (and hopefully go beyond just functioning in our world to being successful). Which brings me to my questions of today which made me start on this subject in the first place: What defines successful parenting? What defines a successful child? What are my parenting goals? So maybe, if I get around to it, I’ll continue hashing out parenting with these wonderings in mind. Parenting: Step Two.