The first thing I shouldNew Zealand - Middle-earth say about New Zealand is 24 hours is not long enough to get acquainted with all this beautiful country has to offer. I have not taken this trip, but it is on the list of things to do as early as next year. You see, I have a 16-year-old daughter who loves necessarily, all things New Zealand. That love started with a healthy respect for Karl Urban and continued with the invitation to Middle-Earth from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies. Since then, I have had to gain facts and other information about New Zealand to discover if this might be something entertaining.

The one thing I have found about New Zealand that draws New Zealand- Middle-earth rotundame in is that it is uncrowded. That is such an incredible change of pace in travel. Normally, wherever you go, there’s no room to move. Not so, in this beautiful place, even the weather is fantastic. You can find temperatures in the Spring, Summer, and Fall (September – May) all ranging between in the lower 60’s to upper 70’s. Only the Winter brings lower temps, but not much lower. The welcoming of the lower 50’s and the upper 60’s usher in the cooler air and this cooler air is present in the months of June – August.

New Zealand is rich with history and today that history shows a multicultural and diversely beautiful country established under British law.  New Zealand preserves its founding document in the same building the treaty was originally signed, also known as the Treat of Waitangi. So for 24 hours in New ZealandNew Zealand- Middle-earth Bilbo, the last thing you have to worry about is when to go and if you will have enough to see and do.

From curious geysers, National Parks, botanical gardens, and museums of maritime history, the availability of scenic excursions are quite appealing. There is no shortage of animals at the zoo, at the park, on the waterfront, and some have their colonies to see them all at their best. You will not go hungry or thirsty while there either, and regardless what time of the year you go, you should find yourself enjoying a rather lively festival of sorts.

Many people travel to New Zealand for the trip to Middle-earth. Nothing is quite like the Waikato region, or Matamata, where Hobbiton and the Shire are just a couple of about 150 locations memorably linked with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.and it’s not to see what remains, but to visit the preservation of all for just that occasion.

The North Island is home to Peter Jackson’s Stone St Studios, Park Rd Post, Weta Workshop and Weta Digital that was central to The Hobbit Trilogy production. The movie business center is off-limits to visitors, but the Weta Cave is open to all those who travel to see sights froNew Zealand - Middle-earth Squirem the set of either location. Tours for The Lord of the Rings include helicopter rides over the limestone formations that formed Dimholt Road. Found in Wellington, this is the meeting place where Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli rode to find the ‘Army of the Dead.’ The Kaimai mountain range is also among the permanently constructed materials for The Hobbit Trilogy. Tongariro National Park in the North Island’s central plateau became the Emyn Muil for The Lord of the Rings. Thousands now tread the same path as Frodo and Sam by walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as if they were crossing the Shire themselves.

The South Islands should peak considerable interest for those excited Lord of the Rings tourists use New Zealand-Middle-earth water fronta luxury FWD into the remote back of the valleys to an area transformed into Edoras, to view the capital of the Rohan people. From Queenstown, it’s possible to fly, drive, cycle, or trek to many of the locations that provided the most dramatic scenery from either Trilogy. However, it is not recommended to travel this area without a guide, or a company with you, as some areas are not as easily identifiable as others.

There was something I found disheartening about the first 24 hours of my trip to New Zealand. For an actual Middle-earth fan, the first seven days is just a trip from Auckland to Wellington. However, seven days is only the beginning. The tour may be extended seven days longer, a total of 14 days, ending in Central Queenstown. After reviewing the real fan options, I realized only the most loyal fan would come to New Zealand, and not participate in the Ultimate Tour of Middle-earth, which is a 21-day tour.

I have since found, every region of New Zealand’s Middle-earth is likened to remind these hobbit-loving tourists of the great lengths gone through in filming these Trilogies. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy itself was fNew Zealand - mountainsamously filmed in one hit, making it one of the longest and most massive productions in movie history. And for all of you who are fans of Middle-earth, that adds up to how many days for each? A little trivia for you who love of J.R.R. Tolkien?  If you said, “266”? You are correct, which is how many days it will surely take you to recover from your Middle-earth tour.  Your first 24 hours though will be a time of reflection, direction, and perhaps, reviewing your map reading skills and compass reading abilities. Especially since from all accounts read, when touring New Zealand with their primitive wildlife and towering mountains, there are times when those who wander without a guide, will indeed get lost.

#AccorHotels24hrs

24 Hours to Middle Earth by way of New Zealand

Celebrities have taken to social media, journalists have taken up their postings, and activists and protesters have taken to the streets to announce “Black Lives Matter!” In return, “All Lives Matter” fills the air, and throughout Dallas, Texas, tears of pain and hurt have left others riveted with the question, “Police Lives Matter”, don’t they? Why the hate? Why destroy innocent people in retaliation for others? It’s time we take a closer look at the matter at hand and where we can go from here, together.

Some people say the group has become more vocal with every interaction between a male or female of color, and a white police officer.  Others say, celebrities like Jesse Williams have gotten more vocal, and forgetting their forum, have let their voice and their message get misconstrued. Williams, an activist of Black Lives Matter, (BLM), recently gave a speech on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards show, encouraging people of color to stand up for their culture, and for critics to sit down. He even mentioned restructuring the role of the police. For most of us, we understood the speech, and when Williams and others of the (BLM) use terms such as “we,” “us”, and “our people,” we understand it is a collective group of individuals of not only a race, but of culture.

There are things people in the celebrity world need to consider. Williams and other celebrities are some of those individuals who work and live around people who think and feel just like they do. How many interracial couples live in Los Angeles? How many live in California? Williams works on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, with an amazing group of multicultural actors and actresses, just like himself. His role as Dr. Jackson Avery opposite Dr. April Kepner, played by Sara Drew, is an interracial relationship as well. Other characters played by Ellen Pompeo and Justin Chambers, are also involved in interracial marriages. Ellen and her husband Chris Ivery, and Justin and his wife, Keisha Chambers, both offset, instead of on set. This television world of biracial families and same-sex partners and parents is no different to daily reality accept it. Children who are born to couples in these relationships are the ones who suffer most. They learn to tolerate the dismissive behavior of not being accepted by either race and as adults, they find it hard to connect to either the black or the white culture.

Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Alicia Garza spoke out stating, “Black Lives Matter has never, ever called for the murder of police officers,Garza told The Huffington Post. “What we have said over and over again is that it is a time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible. That’s not rhetoric. That is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them. And so quite frankly, we can, at the same time as we grieve the loss of life of several officers who were killed last night, we can also push to demand that there be accountable, responsive, transparent policing that has oversight from communities and that is accountable to the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.

If you compare Garza’s words with the speech given by Jesse Williams, you will see many similarities. And for an audience of celebrity entertainers like himself, many who support the (BLM) movement, Williams went from Humanitarian Award recipient to political hopeful in a matter of moments. Some of us are still wondering if Williams forgot his audience that night. Certainly, his fellow entertainers and activists downstage from him made perfect sense of what he was saying. All while being bi-racial himself, to push the issue with such a broad audience was certainly challenging for him, but what about others struggling to identify with one culture or another? As much as those still living in a black or white world; those not blessed with milk chocolate skin and stunning blue eyes, for it is those people who may feel the pressure to be one or the other to obtain leadership roles. And for some people still trying to find a place in the world, people like Micah X. Johnson, words like “mobilize” and “restructure,” this could very well be a call to arms.

Upon first hearing about the shooting in Dallas, I told a friend there were people there with their children. This shooting had to be intentional, and I am confident the Black Lives Matter, (BLM) protest would be the blame. Minutes later, the reports were staggering. Garza clarified (BLM)’s position stating, “We are anti our people being murdered in the streets.”What happened to Alton Sterling, what happened to Philando Castile, what happens to so many black people in our communities is absolutely unacceptable, and I think that’s something that we can all agree on,” Garza continued. I believe she is right about that, as being murdered in the street is something everyone agrees inconceivable.

There are some cruel, violent individuals in this world. They lack feeling, logic, and they join hate groups that keep them encouraged. These are the people who recruit people like Micah Johnson. These self-motivated activists are prepared to become martyrs for these groups. Johnson was not afraid to die for what he did. He was more afraid to live. Johnson did have a family, and his death left family behind, and yes, even his life mattered. Regardless of race or reason, this family lost their family member. Johnson‘s actions were the direct cause of his death, and though it is regrettable, it was his decision, and it did not have to be like this.

What about Alton Sterling, didn’t his life matter? And what about Philando Castlile, didn’t his life matter? What’s the problem with Black Lives Matter taking a closer look at what’s happening, or is it just because they are being attentive to one group of people?  Studies have already determined there are racial disparities not only in policing, but within departmental hiring practices, as well, and not only because of race, but the use of force against minority races as well. Thus the organization of Black Lives Matter formed realizing there would need to be a representative sampling for people of the black race to ensure progress doesn’t take as long as it has in the past, especially with so many lives lost. Their intent seems is to show the disparities, in an effort to deter this pattern.

However, there is something else to consider, and this should go without being said, but it still must be, so I will. Regardless if you are black, white, red, etc., if you make the decision to commit a crime or break the law, and you place a police officer’s life at risk, it is not murder in the street. An officer is trained to defend him/herself with their firearm. If a man or woman, regardless of color, is involved in some interaction with a police officer, and the officer reasonably perceives a threat against him/her, this meets the legal standard for use of force. This standard may be something you don’t agree with, or maybe you have a problem with guns, but the bottom line is a police officer only has about two seconds to make that decision to shoot or not shoot. And whether you want to understand that concept, it is in fact, the nature of their job, and the justification of a lawful shoot when working a situation involving another person who threatens the life of a law enforcement officer.

I understand any concerns about people abusing this standard, or perhaps exceeding the level of force against you or your family member. One statement Williams made that is so relevant, “Realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do.” There are police officers who for various reasons have overstayed their time in law enforcement, or were never meant to be there. However, I also know there are men and women who like to provoke police officers into an altercation, and once they are placed in handcuffs, they become more aggressive.  We all need to realize we have a flawed system. We need to make changes, nothing can remain the same in an evolving world. Black Lives Matter is taking a stand, but you do not have to be black to stand with them and say, let’s make some changes to benefit us all. Let’s protect our citizens, protect our communities, and protect our police from the hate groups and their recruits, who come in all races and genders, by remembering every life matters to someone.

A Closer Look at What Matters to “Black Lives Matter”

Posted in Writing

Paris in our Hearts, “Jamais Forgoteen”

As violence erupts across America with shootings on one campus or another, many of us wonder, “What is going on in the Country?” Then yesterday, November 13th, 2015, a new wonder fell across the nations, with Paris, France in our hearts. Pray for Paris became the hashtag spreading across the social media pages, the borders closed, and people wondered why it took so long, and why the US isn’t taking notice of this? Still the pages turn with the days as we grieve with those there,  and vow to remember, not to forget, never forgotten or “Jamais Forgoteen” for years to come. Some worry the years are few, if the leaders of the nations don’t realize the threats are not idle. Will they pay attention? Is this what it took, and did this have to happen? All questions we may never have answers to.

Yet here in America, a lady with child, killed n her home for money. An eight-year-old left in charge of a one-year-old sibling, beats the child to death for crying, while the mother is out with friends. College campuses were disrupted because of more riot activity by the growing “Black Lives Matter” activists on as many as 20 college campuses around the country planned marches last Thursday. Although, these activists began over one incident, they have grown over many others. Some of them are “abuse of force” from police issues against blacks who are male, during a crime; however, other incidents not “abuse of force” police issues, have instigated into black male/female against police officer all nationality male crime issues. Many of which are branching off, and causing more problems, and causing escalated crime to ensue; yet, very few people want to get involved. Police agencies and departments are just letting it go, as they feel they will not get a fair hearing, and a hearing, there will be.

When these events with “Black Lives Matter” began, it was a wake up call for everyone. Races divided once again. Even families divided, depending on the depth of their blood lines. The first rally was “peaceful”. However, rallies are only peaceful for as long as that rally under the same person? Then the initiative behind that rally changes with the leader. That has just what has changes over the months of “Black Lives Matter.”

The students behind these rallies have an agenda. The faculty and staff who work at the universities? They too, have feelings about the matter. Have the students talked with those people for how they feel? Obviously not, if you read the comments from members of faculty and staff from the University of Missouri. Across the campuses, teachers were tendering resignation, Deans were as well. The Dean of Students at Claremont McKenna College in California, Mary Spellman, resigned in a letter to the community Thursday, after some at the school called for hunger strikes over what they perceived as a lack of support for students of color. What lack of support? How many times have students of color been turned away from Dean Spellman vs. students not of color? These are all unasked questions. Spellman resigned due to hunger strikes? I understand she may worry for the well-being of students. This I can assure her, was not her doing. These are adult students who decided not to eat. Many people fast for religious purposes, or blood tests. twenty-four hours later, they would go eat. If not, they will eat when they get hungry, or when the paramedic says, “I am putting this IV in your arm, because you will not eat.” They will eat.

What happened to “peaceful”? What happened to just a harmless demonstration with no harm? We have people resigning, because students are threatening themselves? We also have others, who forewent the “peaceful” rally altogether, like the disaffected students at Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Michigan who according to the Seattle Times, were preparing a list of demands and threatening action, Black alumni at Georgia Tech were crafting a letter to that university’s president, urging a continued commitment to diversity. These are grown, adult faculty members. This is what happens when you go so long with demonstrations, and you let things go. Georgia Tech has had years of grievance policies in effect. Why now? Why wait until now? That’s simple! They have anarchy behind them. That is what this is coming to.

I was reading about President Obama’s schedule to see what he is doing about any of this. However, he is “business as usual.” I guess that is because he either doesn’t take it seriously, or feels it will just, go away. It appears the Presidential Elects aren’t taking any of this lightly. Donald Trump lashed out about the citizens in France not to protect themselves because of gun control. He also claimed the borders needed to close, and the refugees were the start of this. During a sitting, Megyn Kelly and Ben Carson were discussing such, and he responded, “Well we’re being too tolerant, I guess you might say, accepting infantile behavior. I don’t care which side it comes from. To say that I have the right to violate your civil rights because you’re offending me is un-American. It is unconstitutional,” Carson reacted. “And the officials at these places must recognize that and have the moral courage to stand up it. Because if they don’t, it will grow, it will exacerbate the situation and we will move toward anarchy than anybody can imagine, and much more quickly.”

I think maybe Ben Carson was on to something. The activists have grown, the rallies have grown, the demonstrations have grown, and there is nothing peaceful about terminations, threats or self-sacrifice. The continued presence of ISIS in our country and other countries has grown and is continuing to grow, and you guessed it! The terror and the violence is growing with it. Someone needs to do something. Someone has to do something. If not today, when? There is enough violence right here with our own people being killed by our own people, and even our children turning into murderers at young ages while their parents run the streets, neglecting them. We need, no we have to start taking responsibility for really is our problems. We let ourselves live with a false sense of security, and it happened with the World Trade Center. It happened when they sent the video in July about Paris. It happened yesterday. And today, we pray for France. We pray for us. We have Paris in our hearts, and they will be “Jamais Forgetten!”

Posted in Writing

Sunny Times, Turn to Stormy Oregon Minutes

Some days can begin so beautiful, and take the most unexpected turns. “That’s life,” right? It’s what we do and how we live. I woke up yesterday after traveling the day before the dentist chair came calling. Jenny is the best for a cleaning, and with my, oh, so sensitive mouth, I do follow-up whenever possible. Dr. John Shepherd is such a great dentist, and I have been his patient for some time now. This morning was no different. My appointment was at 10:00 AM and by 11:00 AM, I bid them adieu.

As I entered my jeep and hit my phone, began to sing with it’s Peanuts theme of sound. As I began read the feed, I found myself feeling empty, and thinking about the days passed since I wrote about Rachel Scott. Rachel was a victim of the Columbine High School shooting in April of 1999. This massacre claimed the lives of 13 high school students. It still haunts many of us today.

There was a difference in the feed I was reading, but the information was the same, “Active shooter on the campus of Oregon Community College.” For a moment, I reflected back to the recent shooting in Louisiana at a theater, where a man walked in and lives were lost. My mind was mentally trying to calculate the number of people lost, what was happening now, and why, once again, innocent people were losing their lives.

When something like this occurs, the first thing you notice is the Governor of Oregon and the President of the United States, all come to the forefront, and they blame the guns. They say we need to do something about gun control, because of these mass shootings. They talk about the Second Amendment and discuss how preventable these shootings would be, if there were stricter measures of gun control. The President also talks about reducing sentencing guidelines and being softer on crime. Is this the answer? More control of guns, and less control of people?

Immediate polls and studies begin when many things happen very often. Naturally, this began about mass shootings in the US, and with this shooting in Oregon, statistics say we are 274 days into the year of 2015, and we have had 294 mass shootings. That doesn’t sound right? Well, not all media coverage makes it as something you can publicize for days on end. You also have to understand, a mass shooting is any shooting that occurs involving four or more people. The Washington Post reports with the numbers as they stand, mass shootings have caused 380 loss of lives in this year thus far. And of course, there’s the broader universe of nearly 10,000 people killed and 20,000 wounded involving nearly 40,000 gun violence incidents in this year. (Ingraham, 2015)

It’s not any surprise when President Obama advised on Thursday, the mass shootings had become somewhat routine in the United States, and demanded a change in the politics of guns in America, saying that simply thinking of and praying for victims was “not enough.” I understand frustration, but when a person takes it upon themselves to address a situation with an evil of this magnitude, whether it is with a gun, a knife, or whatever they choose as their weapon of demise, sometimes praying for someone is the best and the only thing you can do. I do not know President Obama’s true religion; therefore, I do not know his occasion to pray, but I do know that God listens all the time. God listens, and HE hears; HE heals those who are sick, those who are wounded, and HE removes those who are in harm’s way. Sometimes, God is the only one who can help. I believe that, and I do not think there is ever a time, when praying for a victim, is “not enough.” (Memoli, 2015)

Protection for these students and faculty involved is the concern. Was anyone there who failed to protect, because they lost their life in the process? Did this campus have anyone there to help? A school with 3,000 students registered and according to former UCC President Joe Olson, who retired in June after four years, said the school had no formal security staff, just one officer on a shift. One of the biggest debates on campus last year was whether to post armed security officers on campus to respond to a shooting. The school has a policy of no guns on campus and did not feel the need for an armed security presence, Umpqua Community College interim President Rita Cavin said. “I suspect this is going to start a discussion across the country about how community colleges prepare themselves for events like this.” (Press, 2015)

This day started off with just the right amount of sun and a touch of wind. It was beautiful. It ended with me saying prayers for families, friends and others for over 20 people who were injured in some way. There were 13 people reported who were no longer survivors traveling about. One of those was Chris Harper Mercer, the gunman. There has been so much talk about gun rights. Does the Second Amendment right, stand over those who do not want guns, because they feel it would stop these random acts of violence? Well, that goes back to does the Freedom of Religion stand over those who want to marry a member of the same-sex? Both are rights, and both protected under the Constitution, but which one or is either one, protected? Does either protect anyone? In this situation, it seems having no protection, made an entire school campus, vulnerable. So, what do we do? Do we have armed guards to make it safe? Do we have guns there and people to use them, or do we pull them, such as President Obama speaks about?

In the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook, many districts across the nation have increased the number of school resource officers, although an armed security presence is now standard in many of the nation’s middle and high schools permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons themselves.
Lawmakers in every state in the nation introduced school safety legislation this year, and in at least 20 states those proposals became law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The twenty states have created proposals which have now become new laws ranging from a volunteer, emergency security force at schools, to allowing state employees to keep firearms in a vehicle on state property, if the car is locked and the weapon is approved by authorities and not visible. (Press, More schools bringing in armed security guards after Newtown shooting last December, 2013) Some states have even opted to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons themselves. However, this could also be a problem for officers who come to schools on a gunman on a shots fired call at a school. With no information about the gunman, a teacher could be mistaken as a gunman, and an innocent life be lost due to friendly fire.

There will always be someone who recognizes firearms as the best form of protection. There will be someone just as insistent against the use of firearms. Practical matters say, sometimes a person will be taken a firearm, and try to use it recklessly. How can we stop it? That remains for another day. However, the person there to protect you? How do you want them to protect you? I like the days like I had, with the sun and the wind, and the opportunity that presented itself. Chris Mintz like the day he had planned with his little boy who had a birthday planned that day. Mintz put his life on the line for several people. He survived. God was watching over him that day, whether that shooter wanted HIM to or not. We are all praying for his speedy recovery, whether President Obama thinks it does any good, or not. I for one, would rather Chris Mintz would have had a firearm that day to protect those people, instead of having to use his body for target practice. If someone ever enters my premises, I would hope someone has a firearm, not having to make a mean face. Be honest, what would you rather have for protection? Think about it! Consider it, and then think about what you want to save a life with, should you had the choice.

Works Cited
Ingraham, C. (2015, October 1). Shooting in Oregon: So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings. Retrieved from The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/10/01/2015-274-days-294-mass-shootings-hundreds-dead/
Memoli, M. (2015, October 1). Angry and frustrated, Obama condemns latest mass shooting in U.S. Retrieved from Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obama-oregon-shooting-20151001-story.html
Press, A. (2013, August 24). More schools bringing in armed security guards after Newtown shooting last December. Retrieved from NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/schools-bringing-armed-guards-newtown-article-1.1435815
Press, A. (2015, October 2). Numerous deaths, injuries in Oregon campus rampage. Retrieved from One News Now: http://www.onenewsnow.com/ap/united-states/numerous-deaths-injuries-in-oregon-campus-rampage

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Posted in Writing

Transgender Rights Enforced in the US Schools

Another school year has begun, and the daily schedule of attending to all is underway. As. the new students enter the schools looking for their place, and the returning students; well, we have all been there. Nothing is ever the same, it is simply a matter of assimilating back into your previous environment. You were quite comfortable, only three short months before. As a student on the first few days of class, it seems like eons have passed; until one of two reminders of reality slowly reveal two of what used to be considered “old reliable”. The first reminder is normally the food. Everyone enters the cafeteria, and as you begin to see all of your old friends waving you over to sit, you begin to get that “de ja vu” experience once more. You spend some quality time there and finally, you are at ease.

The other walk thru begins immediately with the sound and smell of physical education in the gym. For those of us who were assigned gym lockers, you will remember that anxious feeling of getting your number and walking through. You looked for your number with growing anxiety praying for a top locker. At the same time, you could feel eyes on your back, and your friend base growing as you seemed like an avenger proceeding without fear, until you reach- the top locker.

You can remember the feeling of “the top locker.” The elation is unlike any other. Your fellow gym mates experience mixed emotions; some look upon you as if you had just defeated the “Kraken”. (Tennyson, 1892) Others look upon you with distrust, as there must be a trick to getting the top locker. One thing is certain about these first few days, emotions run high, and students feel pressured; tested in a way to achieve what is beyond their control.

With all of these sensations running high, coupled with meeting new students, new teachers, finding classes, finding lockers in the halls and then once again-in the most private of all places, the gym locker room. Imagine the following scenario- there are two:

1) Females: You are standing in your locker room getting ready for gym class, when you hear the words “And this will be your locker, young lady.” (Kellogg, 2015) Standing before you is a boy- a boy, who dresses and acts like a girl. More recently, the terminology is politically correct when stated “a boy who identifies as a girl” being assigned a locker and was allowed to use the same restroom.

2) Males: You are standing in your locker room, perhaps near the urinal, when you hear the words “And this will be your locker, young man.” Standing before you is a girl– a girl, who dresses and acts like a boy. More recently, the terminology is politically correct when stated “a girl who identifies as a boy” being assigned a locker and was allowed to use the same restroom.

This happened just yesterday in the classes at Hillsboro R-3 School District in Missouri. The female students in the locker room were faced with this very situation, as well as their parents. Matt Sharp is an attorney with the Alliance Defense Foundation (ADF) advised, “The female Hillsboro students were shocked, because no notice given. There were also no accommodations offered to female students who objected to the use by the student.” Sharp says, “The ADF suspected the policy change has the fingerprints of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on it and says the school district is, in fact, relying on materials from the ACLU, such as before in cases such as the one involving the Gloucester School Board. The focus of this concern was representation of the concerns of parents and students, after legal counsel voted all students would use restrooms corresponding to their biological sex or to use one of the several single-stall private restrooms available. (Kellogg, 2015)

Attorney Sharp states, “The ACLU has made it very clear that part of their agenda is to break down traditional gender ‘barriers’ to create a genderless society.” For some, this is the beginning, or the first they have heard of the ACLU or gender “barriers”, but for the States of Massachusetts and California? This is an ongoing controversy, that can continue for them, or it could help others realize gender born have rights as well. Gender born have the right to choose? Some would say, choosing is being informed, and having a choice. Others would say, having the right to choose to be informed is one thing, but to have the information pushed on you; or having your parents against it? This conflict could be too much for children, and could actually cause regression, aggression, and a reason to bully.

California and Massachusetts have a bill in their states protecting those with disabilities against being bullied. I did not realize transgender was a disability, but that is another concern. These two states are recognizing transgender equality as a need to be addressed as early as elementary school. They now have transgender coaches entering the first and second grade classrooms, and teaching the children in graphic detail, that it is okay to be something other than what you were born to be. You do not even have to be a gender at all.

We have now come to be a society of people who are undetermined, and why? We do not want to be bullied. As a parent, you may say, “Well, I would just sign that form that says my child will not be attending.” According to the Mass Resistance, it is not an option to do so. The reasons the schools are mandating it, or the reasons the government passed the bills, are because of the following:
Parents at home aren’t doing their job, aren’t supporting kids’ choices, and are even throwing kids out of the house if they say they are “transgender”.
This is absolutely necessary to stop bullying, which “transgender” kids suffer from more than others.
We must have respect for differences.
Transgender” kids are committing suicide, and these programs must be done school-wide to stop that.
We need everyone to feel welcome and safe.
(And our favorite:) If you’re against this, then you’re in favor of teaching children to hate.

The Center for Lesbian Rights and Gender Spectrum, and the California Teachers Association, (CTA) were interviewed on Weigh In by Megyn Kelly, with Fox News Reporting. Their director, Shannon Price Minter, Board of Faith in America Chair and the Legal Director for the Center for Lesbian Rights, who advised the curriculum was gentle and learning, and there was no reason to have an opt out; however, Brad Daycus President of Pacific Justice referenced material from their teaching, and
discussed why it should be an opt-out for parents, and why parents wanted to opt out. However, the director denied knowing anything about that information in particular, and remained firm that the program should not be opted out of. (Price Minter, 2011) It is for these reasons the ADF has drawn up the District Model Policy.

With the ACLU push towards breaking down gender walls inside our schools, the ADF has drawn up this model, and it will establish:
(1) No federal law requires public schools to open sex-specific restrooms, showers, and changing areas to opposite-sex students,
(2) Providing such access violates the fundamental rights of the vast majority of students and parents, and
(3) Schools have broad discretion to regulate the use of school restrooms, showers, and changing areas. (Sharp, 2015)
A school board meeting will be held today, August 27, 2015 to discuss the options available for parents and students. It is one concern to uphold the right to bodily privacy, as not to violate the rights of the students. It’s also a concern for the legal liability of the District, to maintain the rights and protections of its employees.

Our Two Cents:
Some people will still argue about transgender and how transsexualism or transgenderism is something they struggle with from birth; therefore, it must be something God given. Well, I don’t know anything about having transgender, because I wasn’t born with this ailment. I was born female. There are times I wanted to be a boy. I wanted to play football, and even tried to play on the football team. They told the few of us girls, we had to be on a “power-puff” football team.
There was another time I can remember I wanted to be a boy, because my dad always went with boys to do things. I saw my cousins go hunting and fishing, and even though my dad didn’t always go, I didn’t want to stay with my mom. My uncle told me I couldn’t go, not because I wasn’t tall enough, or not that I couldn’t pull my weight, but because I was a girl. I remember my dad going to work, and watching him fire up his log truck, and my mom was talking with my sister about going to college. She said, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” I told her I wanted to drive a log truck, like daddy. “That is stupid,” she smirked. I remember thinking, “It’s not stupid; daddy does it! And how I used to watch him sometimes come through town, or backing it in, or driving that truck out at 4AM. I would get up just to watch him. I wanted to be just like him, but I wasn’t a boy.
These days, with gender equality being such a big part of the work place, girls I grew up with are driving trucks, and all types of jobs you would not have thought about girls doing. So, I a girl can do anything a man can do, why can’t a man do anything a woman can do? Well, because quite frankly, he doesn’t have the necessary body parts, and that is where the problem began:
You see, Genesis 1:27 says:
~So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

It did not say, HE created man in his own image; male, female and a (?). He placed the three in a box of crackerjack, and the answer received, is what HE created. God had a specific purpose, never did HE leave anything to chance.

One of my favorite versus, I suppose because it is about me. It’s also about you. It’s about each of my children, and yours. I love it, because it’s so personal, so subjective, and so perfect in every way about me. It’s also about you too. Psalm 139:13-18 says:
~For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

I have heard some people say, “I was just like a child, switched at birth. I belonged to someone else.” No child was born in the wrong womb, surround in the wrong placenta, or delivered by the wrong mother. You were born how you were supposed to be. God doesn’t make mistakes. God is love, and love does not delight in evil. Jesus definitely claims to be sufficient for any and all of our battles, and He desires to sanctify us through His Word of truth. John 17:17 says~
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is the truth!

As children, we are complacent with our limitations. We learn we all have limitations, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We accept them and we grow. Our parents teach us we are loved, no matter what. Our Father, teaches us we are loved, no matter what. However, as we become adults, we decide we want more. We can have more. We go out and we get more. What happened to having those limitations and still being who we are and being loved just the same?

I remember growing up and watching all of these Olympic hopefuls and how they because Olympic winners. Some of those people were winners, and it came to be they were winners, not because they trusted in God, but because they took medications. Others became Olympic winners because they succeeded in being all they were. One of those people was Bruce Jenner.

I recall looking at Bruce Jenner, and thinking, “Wow!” “How blessed he was to be able to do all he did.” “He won!” As a man, aging in a world of people who thought so much of him, he decides he wants to be a woman. He went from someone I used to read about, to someone I don’t even browse a magazine about. As a grown up with my limitations, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually- I consider the fact there are many things I guess I could do to make some changes, but why bother? I am so perfect in the only way it matters. And when I look at my children, I hope they see me the way God sees me too; for purity of heart, and grace is so precious in the eyes of God, and in Luke 17:1-2 to HIS disciples HE says:
~”Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”

I pray each night for my children and their limitations: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I pray each night for those who want to be something they can’t because of a limitation. I pray for each child who is caused to sin because of their parent’s lack of interest. I pray for Casey, Ben, Brody, Kendall, and Kylie Jenner for it was hard enough to be raised in the public eye with a father who gave up so much to be an athlete in his younger years. That is an extremely hard life to live. Then to selfishly give up his adulthood to live the life of a woman in a very public life. If this person, wherever his heart may be, would have given more of it to be a father, than to be famous; these kids would have everything. I pray our Father gives them more.

Posted in Writing

Keeping Eyes On Technology of Identity to Ourselves

New technologies are now being introduced into telecommunication systems. The increasing vulnerability of these systems, and enhancing securities of databases improved the security and reliability of databases. New technologies in iris technology recognition aims at being improved as a level of recognition technology, and has recently been introduced as a facilitated process of authentication.

At the same time, biometric recognition forms a strong bond between a person’s identity and a person’s biometric traits. These traits cannot be shared, cannot be lost, and cannot be duplicated. Biometric and iris recognition, is important in unauthorized access, protection, and information breaches. Although there are high costs to iris recognition, especially in allowances for the disabled, or who do not have irises, there is a potential for loss to secure information. In spite of the expenses, and the resources incurred, a database of private information is built. In doing so, the potential for loss of this information is high. And in respect to security, privacy and long-term storage with restricted access, physical security of this information is compromised.

I remember going to get lunch in college, and while standing in line, it was just habit to gaze at other students, or to gaze at their order. Other times you may see which group they were with for recognition, and sometimes, it was just to have something to do with your eyes. There really was no particular reason, or no logic; it was simply gazing about. I did happen to know some people paid with cash or credit card, and some paid with their “Louisiana Tech Express Card.” This card was actually a prepaid account the student would use on or off-campus to pay for goods and services. I don’t recall the exact year, but it was in the early 1990’s, Louisiana Tech University students and employees have used their Tech Express cards for on-campus services such as dining, textbooks and office supplies. A few years ago, the program moved throughout the city of Ruston, Louisiana. Since the cards were prepaid, the students, faculty and even the staff had the option to use their Tech Express campus debit and ID cards to pay for goods and services provided by a number of merchants in Ruston.

However, before then, I can remember standing food services in one of the lines, usually for me, it was Chick-fil-a, as I do love those wraps, waffle fries and a Diet Dr. Pepper. I would look around and those carrying sacks of something other than my chosen and think, “I could have gotten something different today!” Then again, there was no Johnny’s Pizza on campus, so “EAT MORE CHICKEN”, I did! I worked on campus at the time, and I would see others swipe their cards, and I would pull the cash from my pocket, and think about those days when my kids would be there, and how my oldest, bless her little heart, she barely gets out of the house with her clothes on, and keys in her hand. If she had to remember something like that to pay for lunch? She’d starve for certain. I can remember she was in town for a week working at a local attorney’s office. She came by every day for lunch. I thought to myself, “How lucky I am, my daughter wants to come eat lunch with me every day.” She was staying with a girlfriend of hers in town for that week. And, since she had forgotten to switch her money out of her purse, instead of making a big hassle and driving all the way back, to get the money from her other purse, she came to my office every day so we could have lunch every day, and I, of course, could pay for it.

I can’t complain, as I love my girls, and will take their company any way I can get it. Yet, I do worry about this behavior. Especially, when I read an article about such things as the program at (VCU), Virginia Commonwealth University, where the administrators say, “It’s all about convenience!” I guess it could be as my daughter would never leave her irises at home. However, I do have some concerns about security for my child, and others. I know there is a low risk of identity theft. I doubt she would leave them lying around on the bathroom sink, but it’s the system I do not feel as secure.

This is not a campus-wide effective plan, where all students will go to it. This will be for students who forget to bring their card with them when they come back from home over the holidays. Maybe a parent will drop that card in the mail, or bring it by their residence, and it will return to business-as-usual. It’s not that type of concern, it is the fact before you can have students place their iris up to the scanner, a system must be in effect. Basically, all students will scan their irises, in the event this happens to them, then this can help them.

In understanding biometric recognition, mapping these systems are important. First of all, biometrics involves algorithms. Just like when you type your identification code or password into your computer, this is a form of algorithm. The more sophisticated the algorithms, the more identifiable not only by the word or set of numbers or combination of characters used; there is also the understanding of identification by keystroke. Keystroke means application of the characters by pressure, length of time, and depth of application on the keypad, etc. No one will apply the same pattern of pressure as you; therefore, the accuracy of typed patterns confirmed with reproducible effects. For instance, if your password is BOSCO, then if you apply more pressure to the -B, the -S, and the -O, than to the other two letters in the sequence; the algorithm determined during the keystroke pattern, will be saved.

Biometric patterns for recognition, are saved with pressure points, such as when you place your eye in front of the sensor to have your iris read. Iris recognition uses mathematical pattern recognition. The irises of an individual’s eyes are so unique, that detection of a person’s identity are visible within the iris of an eye from computer vision, pattern recognition, statistical inference and optics. The iris is the colored ring around the pupil of every human being and like a snowflake, no two are the same. (Mudholkar, 2012) My concern for University systems and security are not foolproof. These things can get hacked as easy as anyone else. It’s just a matter of a few clicks, and the iris scanner copies the ring. I know there isn’t a huge iris scanner bank out there, but if there was ever a possibility for something financial related or otherwise; I would hate for this feature to be forfeited over something as miniscule now, as a cafeteria plan. “VCU’s director of campus services Stephen Barr says it’s as simple as a camera taking a picture of students’ eyes before entering the cafeteria. But John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute says that’s an oversimplification and an intrusion of privacy.” (Kellogg, 2015) “None of this stuff is foolproof – it can be co-opted by hackers,” he maintains. “So this kind of information is going to be put out here online. One of the scary things is how somebody who’s unscrupulous may use this kind of material.” (Kellogg, 2015) Once considered is not only those who would use it, because of the devious mind; but those who would be unaware it was being used, as they felt they were being protected by these methods of sophisticated and mature extremes.

Our Two Cents:

Louisiana Tech University is one of those universities with a high host enrollment to International Students. Therefore, these are only some of the students who may not know they have a choice in what the government says. They may feel the university is compelling them to abide by the actions of the U.S. Government. Just because a student is of International descent, does not mean they are not of a Christian religion. There are also students, right here, who may not realize their own rights under the governmental powers that be. So what do we do to protect the students who feel they do this, or not do this, or they may or may not have a choice, or a voice? Benjamin Franklin once said, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man; and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

Romans 13:1-7~

Verses 1-2: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” –

Romans reminds us as Christians, we should not be rebellious against our leaders. Nothing happens that God does not authorize. Politicians who are in power are there because God has allowed it. Godly people will have good leaders, whereas people who reject God will not. God’s judgment is felt on those who have rejected Him.

Verses 3-4: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

God’s representatives in preventing ‘bad conduct’ or ‘wrong-doing is no longer fulfilling its God-given purpose and the Christian is no longer obligated to obey it under an evil government. Severe consequence ‘bears a sword’ and, as history has revealed, is often too quick to utilize it.

Verses 5-7: “Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”

A good government should be God’s servant, dispensing His wrath and His judgments. The believer’s conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit, must be involved in any response to government. If it is a good government, we should obey it for God’s sake. If it is a bad government, and they attempt to force us to violate our conscience, we are obligated to do God’s will, as our allegiance must be to God.

1 Timothy 2 1-3~

Verses 1-3: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”

It is very clear that God is sovereign over everything that happens to us. The Bible tells us that we are to pray for our leaders, knowing in our heart, our mind, our strength, and our soul- we should rely upon the spiritual power coming from the Heavenly Father; instead, we all too often fall short, and we rely on the supposed political power instead. Surely if we are asked to do anything, we should lean on the Lord. If what we are to do is in conflict with what we are taught by scripture of what God wants us to do, we are to obey God, rather than obey man. If we are ever asked to violate our conscience, we should sit in judgement of ourselves, not to violate our conscience, as our conscience is controlled by the Holy Spirit- we should do what God would have us do.

Too many times, we feel by going to the polls, and voting for the best candidate, we have done all we need to do. For some of us, that is true. Is it true for all of us, not necessarily so. You see the Lord has instilled in each of us, many gifts. Those gifts are not the same for each and every one of us. We all have something that stands out about us, much more so than others. Each one of us, even a politician, will have something which will seem to be promising in his or her life. It will stand out, and this will guide them in the direction they will follow. Believe it or not, as Christians we will win in some ways and lose in others, regardless of who America Chooses as President and where he/she stands on the issues we face in this country. We must remember to take each situation, and remember what it is about.

For instance, security for each and every student, regardless if this is pertaining to International students, who have come here to pursue an education; or if this is a United States citizen attending Louisiana Tech University in the same educational field. As a representative of the Christian faith, it is up to you, to see that each of God’s children is treated fairly. Whether that child was born in the USA, or born in Uganda, protection of their personal information is the same as protection of their person. I remember once hearing, “We are called to love God and love people. However, this notion of judging people we don’t know while at the same time “lovingly” praying for them is inconsistent with what it means to love.” I try to always remember that. If you have ever found yourself, seeing or not seeing a person for who they are, because of some reason or another, whether it is political views, political party, or whatever reason; remember, we are all a child of God. We all have the same rights. Most of all

Galatians 3:28~
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Or~
There is neither Democrats nor Republican, there is neither Black nor White, there is neither Conservatives nor Liberals, there is neither Right nor Left, for we are all one- we are Christians.

Posted in Writing

State Mandates Sex Education for Middle and High School Kids

Are you a parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or a guardian of a child? Maybe you haven’t started a family, and are considering the possibility. Consider the State you live in telling you, there is a new sex education class for you child, and it is mandatory! What if your son or daughter says, “Mom, do I have to take this class?” What do you tell them? How do you explain when the decision “is” and “is not” yours to make? As a parent, we should always have that decision, shouldn’t we? After all, we are responsible for our children. This is all so confusing, mandated? Exactly what does that mean? Let’s go through it a bit.
It seems that some states have high teenage pregnancy rates, and have taken a different stance. Hawaii, just became another one. “With a vote of 5-1, the Hawaii State Board of Education has mandated that students in Hawaii attending public schools, will be subject to sex-ed classes next year. These classes will emphasize pregnancy prevention, rather than abstinence, and the Board of Education will make the decision rather than allowing the schools decide. Therefore, all students will receive the education, whether they or their parents like it or not.” (Kellogg, 2015) Do you live in the Hawaii? Were you aware of this vote?
What state do you live in? What is your teen pregnancy rate? Are you thinking, “That will not happen at my child’s school”. The United States Supreme Court just made it legal for same-sex couples to marry in the Unites States. This is a decision, making it impossible for some people to do their jobs, and still keep their religious commitments at the same time. Yet, the courts have now found themselves above all. In a case such as this, they now have more rights to your children, than you do. Maybe you do not live in Hawaii, and this doesn’t affect you today, but that is only today. By this time next year, this could be your State Board of Education.
As of now, there are only three states require parental consent before a child can receive instruction. Are you living in one of those states? Therefore your child may already be involved in sex-ed, and you may not even know it. If you go to the web, and look to the National Conference of State Legislature’s State Policies on Sex Education in Schools, you will find a list of all schools participating and how. As of now, according to this website, “All states are somehow involved in sex education for public school children.” “Furthermore, only 35 states allow parents to opt-out on behalf of their children.” (Legislature, 2015) Therefore, some states are functioning on the same philosophy as Hawaii.
Let me clarify that “m-a-n-d-a-t-e-d”, I mentioned before which kind of through some people. First of all, the classes mandate unless you opt-out for your child, your child will take it. As Hawaii is a high teen pregnancy state on average, if you do you reading, you will notice the teen birth rate is and has been on a decline for the last few years; however, the problem is the United States birth rate among teens, has not. Our country is one of the highest in comparison to others in size and structure. Therefore, this is not an “abstain from sex” education class, it is more of a medically led type class. This is still something embarrassing to a child, girl or boy.
To sum up the fears, as that is what happens when something like this happens. Fears run wild, and so do rumors, more so than facts. However, the underlying message I am trying to get to is still there. Let’s review some facts:
– Advocates of the sexual education policy pointed out Hawaii, in 2013, had the lowest reported    condom use among sexually active teens in the nation.
– Hawaii also has the 10th highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the nation,
– And the 12th highest rate of chlamydia infections, according to the DOE.
Therefore, the information made available are for children being taught or shown to the parents and the children. All material will be age-appropriate (elementary, middle, and high school). All parents will opt-in their children for the classes. So now everyone can make a correct decision about what feels right for them and their child. I have heard some people say,
– “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, AND THIS KNOWLEDGE WILL HELP YOUNG PEOPLE MAKE GOOD DECISIONS.”
I have also heard other people remember the words of Marion Wright Edelmon once saying,
– “PARENTS HAVE BECOME SO CONVINCED EDUCATORS KNOW WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR CHILDREN THAT THEY FORGET THAT THEY THEMSELVES ARE REALLY THE EXPERTS.”
Therefore, you must as a parent decide, what is best for your child? If you opt your child out, when they return to school the next day, will those who opted in not tell them everything talked about? Will you not still have teens giving teens information? Will it be the correct information? Is it ever the correct information when it runs through the vine?
How do you want your child to get the information? I think that is one question answered, as the school can get the information and get it to you, or they can teach it to your child. If you don’t know what to say, they can get it to you, and have it ready, just as every other child will learn. And on that day, you take care of it. Your child, your kid, your teen; however, you refer to them, is going to learn about sex. If you decide, that day is not good for you, then you will need to do it sooner, because later is going to come. Someone will educate them, it is up to you decide who that person is. When and how are not the questions, the question is who. So, who?

Our Two Cents:
Isn’t it strange how misinformation starts? Being misinformed is worse than not being informed at all. As a former teacher, I can assure you, teaching sex education is not easy. Teaching Science was not easy, and Biology, was even worse. You could tell which kids knew where babies came from, and which ones did not. If you had a group of tenth graders in front of you, it could get out of hand quickly if you weren’t one of those “mean” teachers. Luckily, I was one of those mean teachers.
It’s just like being a parent. You have to be tough sometimes, and tender on those other times. Just like God is tough with use sometimes, and tender others. Ever notice how HE can command you to love HIM, and it still so loving.
Deuteronomy 6:5-6~

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.                                                                                                                                        Here you are given a command to LOVE God, and you don’t mind a bit. It’s as if, OK! And you smell fresh flowers and you dance. It’s a perfect commandment. The same way when your baby cries at 3AM for a feeding. You stumble half-awake until you see that smile, and then? It doesn’t matter. As you child becomes a toddler, and starts to walk, you see those little joys and achievements that make you so happy you were there. These are the ages, the young ages, when you can teach your children the little differences between boys and girls, and mommas and daddies; they learn these things so early, that it is just there, and they know, before there is a reason to ask. These are the things you teach as a parent to the young, and it helps your child to mature, and lets your child establish that level of comfort where they can ask questions. It is our job as parents to do so.
Proverbs 22:6~

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
It is the parents’ responsibility to teach children in every area of life, and that means sexually as well. You do not have to be explicit, and you do not have to do it the same way the schools do. The key is to start early, and to let modeling be part of your instruction. God created man and woman as an expression of love, and their sexuality is part of who they are. Children, as they grow pick up on these things. As they are comfortable in asking questions from a small age like, “Mommy, why do you kiss daddy on the lips? They notice the subtle differences in the way children act, and the way adults act. Christian parents are involved, and they are held accountable for when they aren’t.

Esphesians 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Children communicate at all ages. They are very observant, and they love to tell what they know. If a child questions a parent, they don’t have time to answer it, he or she will ask a friend. This will go on through adulthood. Even as a parent, you are a teacher and you will need to communicate with your children. As a Christian parent, everything you do and say will be part of the job you do in raising your child. As your child matures, you want that child around others, and when that child has questions, or feels concerned, you want them to bring that question to where they feel they can get their questions validated. The feeling of having that security comes from a very early age, and it is something that never goes away. It is that same feeling, you had when you realized that command to love God was so much more. You wanted to dance, and you smelled flowers? It created that sense of euphoria? It’s kind of the same thing. Your child leaves the room with a question answered, and feels full, whole, because they can come to you for that answer, and get one. You get a feeling as well, knowing that tousled-haired child who barely took their first steps just years ago, though to you it seems like mere days, and it’s the euphoria. You answer the question that only you can, because no one else did he trust to come to with such trust. For a moment you realize what is meant as a Christian parent and you feel so close to God. Being a Christian parent is a wonderful thing, and that euphoria, is something you will never forget, like their smile in the wee hours of the morning, their laughter in that little voice that turns into a much older voice, and then all of those conversations and secrets turn into these, and you know you were there for them, and only it seems much like the summer showers from my Louisiana town, and like my momma always says, “When it rains, it pours!”

Posted in Writing

Parents Promoting School Choice Has Positive Outcome

The state of Mississippi is a hot-topic this month. Today, it is education causing heated debates and removing the “smoke” the incumbents are blowing on the subject of School Choice. Mississippi Republican Legislators denounced the issue of School Choice, and this time it was more than just a parent pushing back, it was a voter pushing back. (Kellogg, 2015) These parents have been “educated” themselves on the advantages and disadvantages of the School Choice agenda, and the 2016 year appears as the one where students will have well-informed parents, who may lack opportunity to choose their school next time.
Most government officials will tell you education is in need of funding, and the problem is we need to put more money back into the school systems. We need to build and we need to bring more into what we have. We need to give back to the community, and by taking away from it, we have schools closing, we have dilapidated buildings, with empty halls, no longer filled with laughing, learning children. These same government officials will stand before you and say, “Our schools need more money, more computers, more supplies, and more time to make a difference!
The American Federation for Children will tell you, each school gets approximately $13,000 per student now. (Children, 2013-2014) Each school gets funding for other things they need through grants and educational donations, all of which stops when the head count goes down and your child stops going. The American Federation for Children tells you about a plan they have which offers you a choice of which school your child goes to. Every parent knows what “zoning” means. If you are a new parent, this means where you live dictates where you go to school; hence, your zone is for a school based on where you live. How many times has the phrase “I don’t want my kid going there, that’s a black school”? No, the school is not painted black. The school’s location is in a community, where the residents living there contain a pigment in their skin, which gives it brown to black appearance, or where one of the persons is of mixed race. It works both ways as well.
Issues with zoning has brought to the surface, the potential closeness of how zoning, influences segregation. Some people will move to an area where their child (ren) may attend a school zoned for that area. Some teachers will teach at a school considered “a better or the best school”, so their kids may attend there. In an effort to achieve the concept of having your child (ren) in the best schools, parents will move into a community zoned for that school. However, there is still the racial divide in the community and in the school systems.
All parents want their child (ren) to get the best education in a safe environment. School Choice would give them that. All child (ren) would be offered the opportunity to apply to a school regardless of race, location, or GPA. All of which have been factors used against applicants thus far when applying at Charters. These schools only take so many students, and once you apply limiting factors to the intake process? Think Progress recently ran a program called American Life – the Resegregation of American Public Schools. This resegregation, or desegregation focused on a predominantly white school district in Missouri, post Ferguson, after the death of Michael Brown. White residents had just learned that students from the mostly black district including some from Ferguson, Missouri would be joining their own children due to a law giving students in failing school systems the opportunity to attend classes elsewhere. It was in the light of this decision, the typical mindset of white parents, observed and documented,
“When one mother demanded metal detectors and drug sniffing dogs, because she falsely believed that the black district was struggling because of a record of ‘violent behavior’. “I shopped for a school district!” she proclaimed as the crowd of white parents erupted around her in cheers, “I deserve to not have to worry about my children getting stabbed, or taking a drug, or getting robbed.” (Millhiser, 2015)
I have spoken to some people who live in the inner cities and their fears are much the same as the woman mentioned above, since this is a very real situation for the people, the parents and the kids in her neighborhoods. Some parents wonder if there is more teaching from the other kids there, than the educators, just because of the potential for violence if their child (ren) are not responsive to those putting pressure on them. Politicians and legislators do not have this for their kids to worry about, and government is content to wait for funding, because they have time. However, if you live it, you don’t have the luxury of time. You want change now, since that is what you live in, you pray in, and it is all in real-time.
School Choice is spoken about a lot, and in the coming year of 2016, election coverage will focus on it, and the American Federation for Children will be pushing for a candidate who will focus on the needs of the parents and not the needs of the government. This year is an election year focused on change in the school system. Educators are begging for parental involvement and more responsibility for their children, so they are willing and able, let them. It would be a good time to start focusing on the best for the children. All of the Republican candidates are talking about School Choice, and I think Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina said it best when she said, “Parents should be given choice, competition and accountability in the classroom.” The needs of the children, based on what the parents want. (FIorina, 2015) Maybe, this could be the year we see a push to get prayer, to get God back in our schools. We may start with our Charter schools. What a great start; although, next year those lines would get a bit longer, and bit more competitive. Then again, competitiveness is what the economists say education needs to make the system get better.

Our Two Cents:
Growth and Prayer, who knew? I think that pretty much says it. I think of my children every day and all day. I think of the children I have taught as students, and I pray they lead productive lives as adults, and I pray they find Jesus to do so. I ran across a prayer as a young teacher years ago, and I would read it when I would worry over my children, and I would read it when I worried over my students. When a child didn’t come to class every day, or was out sick, or had something going on in their life, and I was aware. I will share it with you now, as we turn to the Lord, shall we?

My Children, My Students, My Parents:
I pray there’s not a day you can remember when you don’t
KNOW JESUS.
That you understand your need for a SAVIOR
at an early age & experience the freedom that comes from
GIVING YOUR LIFE TO HIM.
I pray that praise would be in your heart,
AND ON YOUR LIPS CONTINUALLY.
I pray that you would know who you are in light of
THE GOSPEL. THAT YOU WOULD HAVE A
CHRIST-CENTERED CONFIDENCE
& CHRIST-CENTERED CHURCH WORTH.
I pray that you would hate sin & love holiness
THAT YOU WOULD KNOW THE
POWER OF THE BLOOD
TO DEFEAT ALL THE WORKS OF THE ONE WHO CAME
TO KILL, STEAL & DESTROY
That you develop relationships based on the drawing
OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
I pray that you would love the work of God
that you would seek to understand it, & hide it in your heart,
& BASE YOUR LIFE ON IT
I pray you will love others well
That you would have a servant’s heart
& a desire for your life to be used for,
SOMETHING GREATER THAN YOURSELF.

Posted in Writing

U.S. Pro Sports Shifting to More Sustain

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Posted in Writing

5 Ways to Prep for a Heat Wave – It’s n

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