Saturday, April 30, 2005

TV Statistics

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7 hours, 12 minutes: Amount of time each day that TV is on in an average U.S. household
66: Percentage of Americans who watch TV while eating dinner
200,000: Number of violent acts the average American child sees on TV by age 18
16,000: Number of murders witnessed by children on television by age 18
53.8: Percentage devoted to stories about crime, disaster and war
80: Percentage of Hollywood executives who believe that there is a link between TV violence and real-life violence
30,000: Number of TV commercials seen in a year by an average child
98: Percentage of U.S. households with at least one television

Turning Off and Tuning In

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Turning off and tuning in
County families opt to keep the screen blank in celebration of TV Turnoff Week
Special for The Willits News
Households throughout Mendocino County opted to forgo a very familiar Am-erican pastime this week. Parents spent more time tal-king with their children, children spent more time reading or playing, and fam-ilies spent more quality time together. And they en-gaged in these activities without the distraction of television as they joined FIRST 5 Mendocino in celebrating TV Turnoff Week.
For the past four years, the annual event has encouraged parents and caregivers throughout the county to turn off the television and participate in screen-free activities with their young children.
"TV Turnoff Week is a great opportunity for families to spend more time connecting with each other," said Anne Molgaard, executive director of FIRST 5 Mendocino. "Parents and caregivers are encouraged to read, talk, play and participate in other activities with their children that help spark their imaginations. Positive early learning experiences like these can help prepare children to reach their greatest potential in school and in life."
Watching television may be America's most popular pastime, but the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no television for children under age 2, and no more than one hour a day for preschool-aged children. Nevertheless children in the United States watch about four hours of television every daya level of viewing that can have damaging consequences to children, particularly during the early years when the brain is developing most dramatically.
Negative effects of excessive television viewing include hindered brain development, less family time, lower reading and academic performance and shorter attention spans.
Children who watch too much television are more likely to be overweight, as they are usually not getting the physical exercise they need. In addition, the American Psycho-logical Association has lin-ked excessive television viewing to violent behaviors in children.
"So many parents are busy and family time can be limited," said Jeremy Mann, M.D., chairman of FIRST 5 Men-docino. "We want families to use this week without television to make the most of their time together and to consider limiting television watching throughout the year. It's very simple - we can do more when we watch less."
FIRST 5 Mendocino hosted and promoted a variety of activities for families with children ages 0 to 5 throughout TV Turnoff Week, including reading and storytelling events at the Mendocino County Public Library. There also were simple projects parents and caregivers could do at home with their young children, like creating craft boxes by decorating old shoeboxes, playing make-believe, dressing up with old clothes and accessories, or enacting plays. Families with younger children went for walks, dug around in the garden, told stories or made music with kitchen utensils. These family activities, along with playing, talking and reading, can help stimulate a child's imagination and prepare them for a lifetime of learning.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Spiritual Starvation

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No matter how busy you are, no man is too busy to eat; neither is any man too busy to feed his soul. And if we starve our souls, we will deprive our lives, busy though they may be, of their fruitfulness. -- George P. Vanier

What struck me about this quote is how much "junk food" we feed to our minds. TV shows are either bad or benign - OK, there may a few "good" ones, but they are a rarity. Most of what we watch falls into the benign category on the evil scale, and we feel pretty good about that. I believe we are thus deceiving ourselves. These benign shows are mental junk foods that are slowly starving our souls.

Statistics state that if we watch TV at our current rate until we die, we will have spent a full 10 years of our life watching TV! At the end of my life, I don't want to say, "Oh, if only I had watched Constantine get booted off American Idol during TV Turn-Off week, my life would be complete." Exaggerated? Yes, but this is how we act when faced with actually having to miss a show that we like. Imagine if we spent that 10 years reading, memorizing scripture, spending time with family, volunteering, or actually getting to know our neighbors. Sure, it's been a tough 4 days without TV, but during that time I've read 1 1/2 books, finished 2 sewing projects and started another, discussed ideas with my family, and played games - all of which feed your mind.

This is not an age where spiritual malnutrition and flabbiness can stand against the evil one. So, put down the remote. Feed your soul.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

TV Elimination

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Review of Jerry Mander'sFour Arguments For The Elimination Of Television

by Ron Kaufman

"Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely . . . Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen."
-- from 1984 by George Orwell

Television is advertising. It is a medium whose purpose is to sell, to promote capitalism. In 1977, Jerry Mander, a former advertising executive in San Francisco, published Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television. In the book, Mander reveals how the television networks and advertisers use this pervasive video medium for sales.
Four Arguments talks about a lot more than just advertising. Mander attacks not only the contents of the television images, but the effects television has on the human mind and body. His discussion includes: The induction of alpha waves, a hypnotizing effect that a motionless mind enters. How viewers often regard what they see on television as real even though the programs are filled with quick camera switches, rapid image movement, computer generated objects, computer generated morphing and other technical events. The placement of artificial images into our mind's eye. And the effects that large amounts of television viewing have on children and the onset of attention deficit disorder.

However, at the heart of Mander's arguments, lies advertising. In the words of writer Charles Bukowski: "[America is] not a free country -- everything is bought and sold and owned."

Sales, by definition, is the process of convincing someone to purchase what they don't need. Advertising tries to convince someone that the solution to a problem or the fulfillment of a desire can only be achieved through the purchase of a product.

"If we take the word need to mean something basic to human survival -- food, shelter, clothing; or basic to human contentment -- peace, love, safety, companionship, intimacy, a sense of fulfillment; these will be sought and found by people whether or not there is advertising," Mander writes.

"People do need to eat, but the food which is advertised is processed food: processed meat, sodas, sugary cereals, candies. A food in its natural state, unprocessed, does not need to be advertised," he says. "Hungry people will find the food if it is available."

Television commercials and television shows both promote the purchase of commodities. Advertisers and television networks don't want viewers to go out and search for the answers on their own. They want to provide the answers on television. If your head hurts: buy Advil (or some other pain relieving drug). Is your stomach growling? Drive your Pontiac to Taco Bell or Burger King. Are your dishes dirty? Get some lemon-fresh Joy. Every guy wants a fast Acura and every girl wants to look like the women on the NBC television show Friends. Watch the Dallas Cowboys' Deion Sanders score a touchdown, watch the replay (Sponsored by Coors Light), then watch Deion do an advertisement for Pizza Hut.

Television is promoting a lifestyle. It is a virtual reality that advertisers and networks seek to promote in order to gain additional revenue.
"Perhaps there is a need for cleanliness. But that is not what advertisers sell," Mander explains. "Cleanliness can be obtained with water and a little bit of natural fiber, or solidified natural fat. Major world civilizations kept clean that way for millennia. What is advertised is whiteness, a value beyond cleanliness; sterility, the avoidance of all germs; sudsiness, a cosmetic factor; and brand, a surrogate community loyalty."

While watching television, the viewer is not seeing the world as it is. He or she is looking at a world created by advertising. Television programs are put together with the conscious attitude of promoting a consumer society.
"If forty million people see a commercial for a car, then forty million people have a car commercial in their heads, all at the same time," Mander says. "This is bound to have more beneficial effect on the commodity system than if, at that moment, all those people were thinking separate thoughts which, in some cases, might not be about commodities at all."

But what makes television different from other forms of advertising, is that the viewer has absolutely no control over the images. Sure you can change the channel, but you're really only watching more of the same. The images come at you at the pace of the advertiser; the viewer just watches passively. While reading the newspaper, you don't have to look at the ads, you can turn the page. In that same newspaper, if you want to find a coupon for Ranch Style Black Beans, you will look and seek it out. You can read the first few lines of a billboard sign, then turn away.
However, when you watch television, the only way to escape the images is to turn the machine off. The medium of television is controlled by the sender, not the viewer. Images just flow, one after the next.
"If you decide to watch television, then there's no choice but to accept the stream of electronic images as it comes," Mander says. "Since there is no way to stop the images, one merely gives over to them. More than this, one has to clear all channels of reception to allow them in more cleanly. Thinking only gets in the way."

The multitude of technical events and special effects that saturate the viewer throughout an average dose of television occur with such rapid frequency that any response is essentially eliminated. "Since television images move more quickly than a viewer can react, one has to chase after them with the mind," Mander says in the book.

"Every advertiser, for example, knows that before you can convince anyone of anything, you shatter their existing mental set and then restructure an awareness along lines which are useful to you. You do this with a few very simple techniques like fast-moving images, jumping among attention focuses, and switching moods," he explains.
Television watching is not active, it is passive. Both the viewer's mind and body do not react, and cannot react. Mander calls television imagery a form of sleep teaching.

One researcher interviewed by Mander explains: "The horror of television, is that the information goes in, but we don't react to it. It goes right into our memory pool and perhaps we react to it later but we don't know what we're reacting to. When you watch television you are training yourself not to react and so later on, you're doing things without knowing why you're doing them or where they came from."

Mander published Four Arguments almost twenty years ago. I believe his main theme then (and the one I hope you are getting from this essay), is that advertisers and networks don't want the viewers to think. They want them to just be good consumers and spend money on their products.
On May 10, 1995 at the National Cable Television Association convention in Dallas, John Malone, president of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), the nation's largest cable operator, was speaking about the future of television. "There's no question machines will be smarter than people," Malone said. "And we won't have to think so hard."

Critics of television have often noted that what is shown on the networks, the programs, are of a low quality. The entire television industry has never seemed able to shake off the words Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow spoke in 1961, that television is "a vast wasteland."

It is the quality of the shows that are often criticized. However, this is missing the point. Television shows are not supposed to be thought provoking. You are not supposed to question the images you see on TV, only believe in their prima facie existence.

Television programs, commercials, news reports and talk shows are all designed toward blind acceptance by the viewer. Because, after all, if you see it with your own eyes, it must be true. It must be real. Flashing images on the video screen. Reality inside a box.

"Television offers neither rest nor stimulation," Mander says. "Television inhibits your ability to think, but it does not lead to freedom of mind, relaxation or renewal. It leads to a more exhausted mind. You may have time out from prior obsessive thought patterns, but that's as far as television goes.

"The mind is never empty, the mind is filled. What's worse, it is filled with someone else's obsessive thoughts and images."
Why do you think they call it programming?

Mander goes into great detail discussing the physical effects television viewing has on the human body. His analysis is excellent.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Television and Addiction

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Television and Addiction

In 1997 700 Japanese children were rushed to a hospital for treatment after watching a television program. Japanese television had aired a souped up version of the Pokemon game, complete with flashing lights, bells and whistles. The children were admitted with optically stimulated epileptic seizures. Television can quite obviously affect people.
Advertisers have known for some time now that quick cuts, optical tricks and alike are likely to evoke a powerful results from the viewing audience. MTV taught us all a lesson in visual communication. But do these stimuli really work on the public or are they all too numb when watching television?

Couch potato measurements

The average person spends about three hours a day in front of the TV set. That's roughly half their leisure time. Forty percent of adults admit to watching too much television. The number increases to 70% among teenagers. A full 10% claims they are addicted, couch potatoes with roots.
Addictions of course, are not always confined to substances. Gambling or sex can become addictive and destructive behavior in certain circumstances. Some clinicians claim that television viewing can fall into the same category and it is far more ubiquitous.

People and the reader might nod at this, have often found themselves in conversation with someone in a room, with the TV tuned to nothing of interest in the background, yet their eyes will invariably wander to the set.

Heavy viewers watch nearly eight hours a day. They are pretty likely to be paying attention (65% full attention) and remember the last ad they saw (12% recall). Light viewers, on the other hand, pay less attention (56%) and have lower ad recall scores (6%) So statistics tell us that couch potatoes can be susceptible to the tricks of the commercial trade.

TV: an upper or a downer?

There is ample evidence that couch potatoes are not so easily affected by what they see. Since the 1960s, behaviorists have been testing people's brain functions while exposed to television messages. The findings after forty years of testing are pretty consistent. TV is not speed, it's a downer.
EEG (electroencephalograms) tests show that there is less mental stimulation to the brain with viewing that with reading. Given that reading necessitates mental engagement and active participation, while viewing does not so acutely, this is perfectly reasonable. Moments after sitting down with the set, people begin to relax and disengage from real life. They seem to generally watch longer than they had planned to and heavy viewers report that they enjoyed the programs less than they anticipated.

Viewers report and record a consistent rate of relaxation that exceeds actual viewing time. Drowsiness may linger beyond viewing time, even a depression. Television acts much the way a tranquilizer does. It is very unlike sports and other hobbies, where people generally walk away feeling refreshed.

So TV is numbing and while technical tricks may stimulate the brain in the short term, a heavy viewer is basically a man or woman on a down slope.

Something to think about the next time you allocate media money.

© Media Directors Ink : April 2002

TV as God

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"The media, considered as a conglomerate, bear the attributes of God in that they are everywhere (omnipresence), inform us about everything (omiscience), and seemingly can accomplish anything (omnipotence)....It's not simply that we have the television on too much. We do. And it's not that we listen to crass, godless music and watch repulsive movies. We do that, too. It's that we haven't faced our deep yearning for the media to be as wise and strong as God. When we seek power over our circumstances, we seek the omnipotence that only God possesses, and we lose the ability to hear His voice."
--Dan Allender

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Pleasurable Death

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Foreword from Amusing Ourselves to Death
by Neil Postman

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

TV-Proof Your Home

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1. Move the television set(s) to less prominent locations. TV is far less tempting when it is not accessible.

2. Hide the remote control.

3. Remove the TV set from your child's bedroom. A television in the bedroom draws children away from family activities and distracts them from homework, thinking, reading, and sleeping. In addition, parents may find it difficult to monitor programs that are inappropriate or unhealthy.

4. Keep the TV off during dinner. Meals are a great time for conversation.
5. Place clear time limits on television viewing. Try to restrict viewing to a half-hour per day or one hour every other evening. Explain your rules in positive, concrete terms. Try replacing, "You can't watch TV," with, "Let's turn off the TV so we can…".

6. Avoid using TV as a baby-sitter. Involve children in household activities. Make laundry folding into a game. Give then an opportunity to help out.

7. Designate certain days of the week as TV-free days (e.g. school nights).
8. Don't use TV as a reward or punishment. This increases its power and can lead to conflict over its use.

9. Listen to your favorite music or the radio as background noise.

10. Cancel your cable subscription. Use the monthly savings to buy a game or a book.

11. Don't fret if children claim, "I'm bored!" For children, boredom often leads to creativity.

12. Don't let the TV displace what's important: family conversations, exercise, play, reading, creating, thinking and doing.

From the TV Turn-off Network

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Childhood Obesity

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Television, Diet and Advertising:
Why Watching TV Makes You Fat
by Ron Kaufman

The CDC notes that "one-fourth of children in America spend four hours or more watching television daily and only 27 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 engage in moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day on five or more days of the week."

According to the CDC, lifestyle behaviors is one of the major factors contributing to obesity in children and adults. Genetics does play a role, however, many health risks have been proved to significantly diminish when physical activity increases and diet improves. One major suggestion by health officials is a reduction in "screen time." The VERB campaign promotes a decrease in time spent in a sedentary-TV-watching position and replace it with positive physical and prosocial activities.

"The average tween spends four and a half hours each day in front of a screen. This includes watching television, video-tapes or DVDs, playing video games, using a computer or browsing the Internet. Television is the medium with which children spend the most time -- two and a half hours each day.

26 percent of U.S. children watch four or more hours of television per day.

67 percent of U.S. children watch two or more hours per day.

Almost half (48 percent) of all families with tweens have all four of the latest media staples: TV, VCR, video game equipment and a computer.

The bedroom of the 21st century child is a multimedia environment. Of children 9 - 13 years old, more than half (57 percent) have a TV in the bedroom; 39 percent have video game equipment; 30 percent have a VCR; 20 percent a computer and 11 percent Internet access." (VERB Fact Sheet)

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a position paper in February 2001 which noted that its research has shown that "children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the messages conveyed through television, which influence their perceptions and behaviors. Many younger children cannot discriminate between what they see and what is real. Research has shown primary negative health effects on violence and aggressive behavior; sexuality; academic performance; body concept and self-image; nutrition, dieting, and obesity; and substance use and abuse patterns."

  • The AAP report went on to present some moderate guidelines that pediatricians should recommend to parents:
    Limit children's total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day.
  • Remove television sets from children's bedrooms.
  • Discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years, and encourage more interactive activities that will promote proper brain development, such as talking, playing, singing, and reading together.

  • Monitor the shows children and adolescents are viewing. Most programs should be informational, educational, and nonviolent.
    View television programs along with children, and discuss the content. Two recent surveys involving a total of nearly 1500 parents found that less than half of parents reported always watching television with their children.
  • Use controversial programming as a stepping-off point to initiate discussions about family values, violence, sex and sexuality, and drugs.
  • Use the videocassette recorder wisely to show or record high-quality, educational programming for children.
  • Support efforts to establish comprehensive media-education programs in schools.
  • Encourage alternative entertainment for children, including reading, athletics, hobbies, and creative play. (Pediatrics. Volume 107, Number 2. February 2001, pp 423-426)
Television does not promote a healthy lifestyle. Junk food advertising can be viewed with regularity on TV. The whole "process" of watching television is not an active one. And most likely, the diet accompanying TV-watching is high in sugar, fat and calories. Television is Doritos, Cheetos and Lucky Charms. Television is Coors, Budwieser and Miller Genuine Draft. Television is sitting in a sofa and not moving. And there's nothing jovial about McDonald's "Happy Meals."

Turn off TV; Turn on Life!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Small Decisions

"Decisions about the use of money and use of our lives more often involve shades of gray than sharp contrasts between black and white, but because those decisions make a huge difference to our own well-being and that of others, they are of immense importance. They usually involve many small steps rather than great heroic leaps."
--- Arthur Simon
How Much is Enough?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

How Much is Enough?

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I just finished reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and I am left with more questions than answers. I found that some of Sider's suggestions for a simpler life, such as living in a commune or attempting to live at poverty level, were impractical for my family.

Living in a commune requires other believers of like mind, willing to do the same. While we cannot do this at this point in time, we do, however, live within walking distance of family and share equipment and appliances with them. We also share with our neighbors when anyone has need, and I have found that our church members share and give among each other regularly.

While I do not want to be guilty of not being willing to place all of my possessions and wealth before the Lord, there are a great many complexities to examine when it comes to how that should look in real life. For example, if my family were to live at "poverty level," we would not be able to afford our medications necessary for life without relying upon the government, which has its own faults. We would not be able to afford transportation to work, and our daughter would have to go to public school (yikes!). So, where do we draw the lines, or are there really lines to be drawn at all?

This week I will be starting a new book, How Much is Enough?. I'm sure it will not answer all my questions, but I think the title question is a good one to start with. Mary Poppins said, "Enough is as good as a feast," and there is a great deal of truth to that. So, as I go about my week, I will be asking myself just how much is enough in all situations. I know there is no mathematical answer to that question and that the answer will vary with each person, but hopefully it will help to point me in finding my satisfaction in God rather than in things, thereby releasing some of our relative wealth to aid others.
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Monday, April 18, 2005

I can't do it all

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One of the things I like about the Sabbath rest is that it forces me to admit something about myself that everyone else already knows about me: I can't do it all. The Sabbath is a time for ceasing from striving and for worship, and that is a welcome rest for me. It's a time for me to admit that I am not God.

This week promises to be very busy for me, and I do not see how it will be possible to do everything on my housekeeping list. Practicing the Sabbath reminds me that it is not my job to do everything. God only calls me to faithful obedience to Him, so it's O.K. that my house doesn't always reflect my "Donna Reed" ideals. The Sabbath helps to remind me that people and relationships are more important than things - always. So, if my floor hasn't been mopped once in a while (I am not advocating neglecting one's household duties as a rule) but I took time to take an lonely, elderly woman shopping and to lunch, I believe God is pleased. Little details in life will always be there but opportunities for Kingdom service will not. If I am stressed out from striving, perhaps it is because I am paying too much attention to my "to do" list and not enough to God's. I can't do it all, and that's O.K. I only need to do what God calls me to do.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Nurturing Activities

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After dinner last night, my family and I went for a walk on our city's walking bridge (pictured) and then tossed a Frisbee at a local park. The weather was perfect, and the bridge and park had many happy faces as families and friends spent the evening relaxing and playing together, making the whole evening seem almost surreal. While there was effort exerted in walking and throwing a Frisbee, we all felt surprisingly more refreshed than if we had spent the evening in front of the TV. While watching TV actually burns fewer calories than sleep (amazing, isn't it?), I wonder if perhaps it has an effect of lowering our zest for life as I have never got up from watching TV feeling "refreshed."

Thursday, April 14, 2005


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The Reading Center was back open this week, and my daughter and I were able to help. There, I met a woman with 10 children (her youngest was there for help with homework) and 11 grandchildren. I was working on a cross-stitch project while I was waiting for my "assignments," and this woman became fascinated with what I was doing saying she had never seen anything like it before. I was suddenly struck with the reality of the vast differences between our two worlds and of how even more different it must be to live in an impoverished third world country. Here, I was face to face with a woman who truly never had opportunity to develop any of the homemaking arts because she was too busy just trying to feed and clothe her family. It is all too easy for American Christians to be set apart from the world in the wrong sense. We are not to be worldly, but we are not to be out of touch with the needs of the world. We may think ourselves moral because we do not commit any of the "major" sins, but how well do we really love our neighbors as ourselves? Surely, there is more that each of us can do. The early church in Jerusalem gave and shared freely, and when they did not have enough to share, it is reported that they would fast for 2 or 3 days in order to give to those who had greater need. Have you loved your neighbor today?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Magazines and Role Models

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Several months ago, I considered starting a magazine for women over 40, but I discovered that there already was such a magazine. Without doing much research on the magazine, I subscribed, only to be disappointed by articles that are superficial, promoting looking younger and finding fulfillment in life through pleasure. I want to grow old gracefully and with dignity, not with a botoxed face, bleached hair, and a "toy boy."

I have had similar disappointments in searching for an appropriate magazine for teenaged Christian girls. When I was young, I subscribed to a magazine put out by Moody entitled Young Ambassador, which was a great encouragement to my faith. It was full of articles about other teens around the globe who faced struggles and temptations and stood strong in their faith. Is this type of magazine now obsolete because there are so few teenagers today who are willing to be different for Christ? I hope not!

There are Christian magazines for teens available, but they are often too worldly, and the articles are "dumbed down" with worldly teen lingo to the extent that the magazines lose credibility. There are also a small number of magazines on the other end of the spectrum, but these are often not published regularly or are somewhat sterile.

If for no other reason (and certainly Scripture gives us plenty in Titus), this lack of spiritual encouragement via publications makes it paramount that older women come alongside the younger generation and begin developing friendships in order to encourage them in the Lord to be strong in their faith.

Be willing to share your past struggles, failures, and triumphs through Christ with a young girl. Pray for those teen girls that you know. Send a teen an anonymous note of encouragement, letting her know that someone is lifting her up in prayer and shares in her daily struggles. Remember when you were young and the temptations you faced? Imagine how alone some of these girls feel today when they try to stand for Christ. Encourage a young girl in her faith today. Be truly part of the body of Christ.

Monday, April 11, 2005

When Saving Cents Doesn't Make Sense

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In my experience, there have been times when saving a few cents by purchasing a cheaper brand did not save me money in the long run. For example, it doesn't save you any money to buy cheap toilet paper or laundry detergent if you break out in a resultant rash. You also won't save money if you buy clothes that are cheaply made, and they fall apart before their time. It will not save you money if you buy shoes that do not give you good support, and you end up going to the doctor with back pain. It will not save you money if you buy a store brand of a food item, and your family will not eat it. So, what are we to do?

The issue is most often not about price but about value. It is better to buy items of quality that will outlast or outperform cheaper items. Good quality does not necessarily mean an item will be more expensive. If your family needs are such that you must use a "name brand" detergent, then do so; just use a little less. If you have back problems, it makes more sense to spend a little more for good shoes; just don't have so many pairs.

Being wise with our money does not mean that we must wear sack cloth and ashes! On the contrary, we are still to cover ourselves appropriately and be well groomed. Too often, the danger for us, where money is concerned, is when we dress above our means or have too many clothes. I recently heard a commercial on the radio stating that if you had 2 dozen pairs of black pants and no 2 were the same size, then it was time for a new closet. How outrageous! No one has any business owning that many pairs of pants, even if they all fit! Based on your station in life, decide what you and your family members genuinely need, and purchase only those items. Your life will be much simpler, and you will have more time and money.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Too Much Stuff

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I'm currently developing a new philosophy. While going into my daughter's closet to hang up one of her blouses that I had just ironed, I found a pair of jeans on the floor. This is not the first time I have seen this (understatement of the year), but this is the first time that it dawned on me that perhaps it's because she has too much, and she's not able to take care of it all. I then informed her of my idea, and let her know that I would be happy to alleviate her of her burdens by giving away what she was unable to care for (books, clothes, CD's, etc. lying around). The jeans were quickly hung up. While it sounds as though this was a "tongue in cheek" conversation, I was and am quite serious. Perhaps we are so overburdened with duties because we have too much stuff and try to do too much. My husband used to have a sign in his study that said, "Do less. Do it better." I believe there is a lot of truth in that. So, I will be examining my life and weeding out what I am unable to do or take care of. No, Mom, I'm not getting rid of our two dogs who delight in muddying up the carpet. :)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Don't Be Afraid

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Yesterday my daughter and I went to help out an inner city reading center. It was a nervous time for my daughter as we have never done this before. When we arrived, the building was locked, so we decided to wait on the front porch. A school bus soon left several children 1/2 block away. Upon spotting us, several children ran home, only to be seen running back towards us, eager for stories. We all waited for 45 minutes for someone to unlock the building, but no one ever came. Was this time wasted? Certainly not! After a few minutes of waiting, the children (my daughter included) began playing an old fashioned game of Hide & Seek, complete with girlish giggles and squeals. It was a wonderful ice breaker, and now my daughter is eager to return to read to the children. Please don't let fear keep you from ministering to others. Who knows, maybe God has some fun in store for you as part of His wonderful blessings!


Posted by Hello
This week I went in search of a new clothesline, as our old one had been cut to use to tie things down when we moved (The person did not realize that I actually used a clothesline, and I have been confined to using drying racks in the summer ever since.). I assumed I could just walk into my local hardware store and pick one up but not so. After a thorough search and help from store employees, it was finally determined that the store no longer carried clotheslines or clothespins. I did find a retractable line (not quite what I was looking for) at another store, but I am aghast! :) What will be the next to become unavailable of the necessities for my quest for a simpler life?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Laundry Day

Monday's are always laundry day for me. The past two weeks I have been grateful for the sporadically warmer weather so that I can hang my clothes to dry. I have never seen the logic of spending money to heat up the house with the dryer during warmer weather. Quite a few folks hang out their clothes on a line year round, but I tend to need my clothes quicker than they will dry on a line in winter, not to mention that the coldness makes clothes extra stiff. We were without a dryer for a week this winter, and I hung my clothes on racks in the garage, but it still took quite a while for the clothes to dry, and it was a source of embarrassment for my daughter every time the garage door went up, making it possible for neighbors to see our skivies. In days gone by, everyone hung their clothes to dry - for all to see. Thus, the phrase "airing your dirty laundry." I particularly enjoy hanging my clothes now as we are looking for ways to lead a simpler life in order to have more money to share with those in need.

We are in the process of researching our options for cutting corners so that we have more time and money resources to offer. So, I thought I could take this opportunity to list some them here. Not all of them will be practical, and many of them you may already be doing. This is a list that I hope will continue to grow as we become more creative.

  • Hang your clothes out to dry rather than use the dryer.
  • Set your thermostat at 68 or lower during the winter, and 73 during the summer. (A lot of folks can do without A/C, but our allergies make this difficult.)
  • Buy a more fuel efficient car. This is not always practical, but for us, it will be soon after vacation.
  • Buy a smaller home that is closer to work, school, or church. Again, this is not practical for everyone.
  • Ride a bike for short errands. (I'm not here on this one yet!)
  • Plan your menu for the week and eat at home as often as possible.
  • Take your lunch rather than buying it.
  • Eat less meat.
  • Grow a garden. Everyone should be able to do this on some level. Most herbs can be grown in pots indoors. Start small on this and gradually build up to a full scale garden. After all, wouldn't you rather grow than mow?
  • Shop resale, not retail, for clothes. (This will be hard on my daughter.)
  • Plan your shopping trips so that you do not backtrack. With the cost of gas, this is a must.
  • Sell unwanted CD's, movies, and books to a used bookstore. WARNING: This can be dangerous, as we often come home with more books than we sold! :)
  • Cancel your preferred cable or satellite subscription. Do you really want to spend that full 10 years of your life that statistics show we spend in our lifetime watching a box that makes us want to spend more money?
  • Cancel your newspaper subscription if you can read your paper online. If you want the coupons, buy only the Sunday paper or wait until Sunday evening to pick up the papers that businesses discard.
  • Cancel your gym membership and cut your own grass and do your own housework.
  • Don't buy or drink soft drinks.
  • Wait one week or more longer between haircuts.
  • Wash your own car.
Most of suggestions listed above involve doing things yourself, so you may ask, "How does that save me time?" The logic behind this is that you won't have to work so long to pay someone to do the things you can do yourself. While this is a work in progress, we are very open to suggestions; so, feel free to comment or email me.

Friday, April 01, 2005


I just received photos via the internet of Rwandan orphans that our brother in Christ is seeking to minister to, and I am almost suffocated by an overwhelming desire to help mixed with confusion on what is the best way to help and grief over my own selfish and materialistic desires. Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and money, but here in America we do our best to do just that, and it is blasphemous. According to recent polls, only 6% of evangelicals tithe - much less give to the poor. Please pray with us as we seek to honor God with our whole lives - not just 10%.