Sticks and Stones

Words. They have power. They can heal or they can wound. They can make us bleed or make us laugh. They can totally shatter a life or build us into unstoppable forces.
Words.
Do we acknowledge the power behind the spoken word? The written word?
NO.
We still cling to the idea of that old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
We tell ourselves just to brush off the verbal abuse, the little digs, the large brush of a slandering tongue.
“They’re just words. Words have no power over me. I can forget them…”
But, in the secret parts of our hearts and our minds, we mull over them. We hoard them deep in those secret parts, where they fester.
We build scar tissue around them, where it tightens, strangling our actions, our personality, making us insecure and bitter.
Personally, I rather have someone hit me. Someone throwing stones at me to drive me away, to beat me with sticks, rather than call me names. Because bruises and breaks hurt for a short amount time, while words can create a monster that hides in me.
It doesn’t help that well meaning adults tell little kids to buck up and move on, “Did he hurt you? No. Words don’t hurt. Move on.”
How many of those adults never went after their dreams because a ‘well meaning’ adult said that they would never succeed?
How many struggling children failed out of school because one teacher never said, “You can do it.”
Think about your words the next time your frustration is slipping it’s leash.
Think about your words the next time you are angry at a loved one.
Think about the affects those little words will cause, how they might crumble a wall or build one inside their heart. How those words may affect their actions in the future.
We all have the power to tear someone down or build them up.
Which will you choose?
Remember, God says some pretty harsh things regarding the power of the tongue. Perhaps we need to become aware of that power and try to leash it.
What do you believe? Are the sticks and stones more hurtful? Or is it the words that crush our spirits?

xkcd

From a popular comic: http://xkcd.com/

Proverbs 15:1-4
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

annerexic-slogan

the repercussions of words

Education is power

gty_malala_yousafzai_quote_ll_131004_wmain

This week, the Nobel Peace Prize was given out to two people: Pakistani child education activist, Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights campaigner, Kailash Satyarthi “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

While I admittedly have not heard a lot about Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, I have heard about Ms. Malala Yousafzai’s struggle and courage in speaking up for the right to education for children in Pakistan and ultimately the world. She has made her stand against the Taliban and was attacked because of her convictions.

It all started because she wanted to learn. She wanted what was a given for free in America, and she was willing to put her life on the line to get the chance at an education. Due to her very vocal advocacy for the right to education, the Taliban put out an assassination hit against her. A hit man boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, then proceeded to open fire. Malala was hit with a single bullet that went through her head, neck, and shoulder. Two of her friends were also injured.

It was a miracle that she lived.

But, her conviction was so strong, that she refused to be cowed by the Taliban. She continued to speak out regarding the need for all children to have equal access to education. She also continued to attend school.

It got me thinking about how Americans regards our education. We have the ability and the means for every single person in the United States to have a well rounded education. We even offer Running Start where high school students have the option of attending community college for free and so many students don’t use it. They could graduate with their high school diploma and an Associates of Arts degree which would jump start graduate school degrees.

We live in a world where children are being doused with acid on the way to learn their alphabet. We also live in a world where those who have the privilege to get homework, find excuses to never complete it, and accuse the teachers of wanting to sabotage them.

We live in a world where:
66 million girls are out of school worldwide.
Every 3 seconds a girl becomes a child bride.
4 out of 5 Human Trafficking victims are girls (malala.org)

And why is that? Because those women do not have a chance at education. Education is power. That is why Malala was attacked. She had gained power because she was learning the world and her place in it.

I remember going through school and how I struggled for my education. I was surrounded with children who school came rather easy to, but because of my various ‘disabilities’ and ‘IEP’s’ I had to work hard for every good grade I got. I appreciated my schooling. No A needs to be given easily, neither does a B or a C. Grades need to be given out for the work given. The last two years of my high school, I was in a private school, I will admit it freely, I did NOT do the work needed.

At the end of the semester, my parents and I sat in front of the principal and I was asked to give myself a grade. I gave myself a C. The principal said that that was too harsh and that I needed at least a B+. What does that teach a student? How does that prepare them for life? It doesn’t. My parents, but more importantly, I, stood firm that I deserved a C because I didn’t do the work that I was capable of.

Do you know what I regret most in my education? Those wasted months where I didn’t work hard. I had all of this power at my fingertips and I didn’t take advantage of it.

I love school. I love learning. I love education. I wish that love could be instilled in every student who has the privilege of school.

Where we live in a world where students are taught for free under a bridge in India because they can’t afford school fees, American children can’t keep their eyes open through an hour class. What are we missing?

free-school-for-slum-children-in-indiadownload

scuola510121286-large
We have allowed the government to put their fingers in our schools so that history, math, science, literature–all have been affected by their dabbling.  What can happen when a governing body uses their politics to control the populace? Education is always one of the first things suffer. What do we hear during tax hikes? “We can’t afford for this class to continue.” “Music classes need to stop.”

We allow sports to have more money and power in a school than something that can actually further the ability to learn. Music has been scientifically proven to help memory as well as teach retention and problem solving, but it is almost always the first ‘extracurricular’ class to go when money is tight. We always have the money though to fight for our football teams…

There is something very wrong with our priorities.

What can we learn from women like Malala? Can we learn to love our education? Can we learn to give our teachers their power back? Can we learn to protect our schools from greedy politicians? Can we fight for the right to learn as much as we fight and support our rights to throw a ball?

Malala Yousafzai says something that really is struck me, “I want to say to the world. You must try to get an education because it is very important. If the new generation is not given pens they will be given guns by the terrorists.”

How do we break deadly ideologies? How do we create a world where racism, class-ism, and sexism do not have any power? By teaching of the bigger world, by teaching history and science, and the ability to think for ourselves. By giving the power to be able to have both sides of the argument and being able to see them honestly.

Americans are compliant to their own educational downfall. There should be NO reason for such a large number of illiterate children in our nation when we have free schools. If we had to walk ten miles for the chance to learn numbers, would we love school more? If we had to sneak into school to avoid protesters and assassins, would we study harder? Would we stop spending thousands of dollars in college for the chance to party and get drunk, if we had the chance to bring in a little money to our family because we got to learn how to read?

Fight for your right to your free education. There are people out there dying for the chance to learn. Literally.

Dare to Discipline

Discipline.
It always sounds like such a negative word.
For some of us, it only brings back bad memories as well as painful emotions.
Others might have a hard time distinguishing true discipline during their childhood.
Listening to talk shows and reading articles about discipline, we might come to the conclusion that discipline is actually abuse.
Children have the right to sue for independence because their parent spanked them.
It is now politically incorrect to condone spanking because it is considered inhumane and abusive.
Now, just to be clear, I am talking about open palm on the bottom. I DO NOT condone abuse and I believe that if at any time someone suspects that a child is being harmed, that child needs to be removed from a dangerous situation immediately.
There is a distinct difference between discipline and abuse. I know that there are way too many ‘guardians’ out there who enjoy their power over innocent children and wield it harshly. Abuse tends to reap abuse. It is a vicious cycle. It has to be stopped.
But, to tie parent’s hands when they are attempting to raise their children up to be decent people? I question this.
We are so busy being friends with our children that we are refusing to do the necessary teaching to make sure they become adults that we would like to know.
We are letting children run the show in the home and in public.
I am not yet blessed to be a parent. But, I have taken care of numerous children and I have eyes that take in the unapologetic horror that children have become in public.
I cannot help but think, “I would never have been allowed to do that!”
I am a woman who was shaped by the love of my parents.
I am a woman who understands respect and honor for those who are older than me.
I have learned how to wait patiently for my time to talk.
I have learned how to be helpful and dependable to those I work with.
I have learned the value of my word as well as keeping my promises.
Discipline DOES NOT need to by physical. But it does need to be a part of child rearing.
Instead of rewarding a child for misbehaving, there needs to be repercussions for not listening.
If a child runs out in to oncoming traffic after you distinctly say “no” what do you do?
I was spanked. I was hugged then I was promptly spanked. What do I remember crying over? My mom’s fear.  She was terrified and wanted me to know it. I was spanked twice after being hugged, then I was hugged again and sent into the house. I don’t remember the pain, because let’s admit it. Two open palmed spanks are more startling that hurtful. If I remember correctly I was still in my cushy underpants, so there isn’t much chance of it hurting that much.
I had my mouth rinsed out with soap, because I spoke disrespectfully to my parents and used language that needed to be corrected. It was only once and once was more than enough.
I did not grow up to be a bully because I was disciplined. I grew up to be someone who stood up for those who were bullied. And I think it was because my parents loved me enough to be my parents, not my friends. I now count them my closest friends, but it is because I respect them for who they are and the fact that they never swerved in how they took care of my brother and I.
Admittedly, I had my moments of teenage anger, because like most teens I thought I understood the world and didn’t much care for the way my parents were leading me.
But, now? I can go back and thank them for their care and support.
I knew that I could not play my parents against each other. They spoke to each other and agreed the best course of action. They were a united front when they dealt out discipline.
They did not talk negatively about each other to us children, which I think is key to my respect for them.
Discipline is needed.
It shouldn’t be a hit and miss type of discipline, but a rule that children can rely on. I honestly do believe that children crave discipline. I have met numerous people who speak about their ‘free’ childhood, where they got allowances for doing nothing, all of the newest  toys were theirs for a simple beg, and they went on expensive vacations, and they rarely now talk to their parents. Why? If they got everything they wanted, why wouldn’t they love their parents?
Most of their complaints seem to be that the parents were trying to buy their affections or their good behavior. Most admit that they were spoiled brats who got away with what ever they wanted to do.
Friends that were raised closer to my own childhood almost all respect their parents and are raising their own children in a similar manner.
Would you rather see more children running free in the store? Yelling and throwing items? Or would you rather know that each child is being a watched by a parent who will keep them close?
When you are sitting in the restaurant, would you like to see children sitting quietly with attentive parents? Or have your ears blown out with screams and having to scrap off food that was tossed?
If I ever had acted like that, I would have been quickly taken out of the restaurant or store and put in the car. One parent would have stayed with me while the other finished paying and then we would have gone home where I would have had to go to my room. There was no tv in my room, no video games. All I was allowed to do was sit quietly until I was released. Then I was given special chores to complete.
Dare to be different in this world of being ‘easy’ parents, dare to discipline.
Dare to be the parents that God calls you to be. God does not discipline us because he hates us, but because he loves us. True love shows discipline.
How do I know that I am a child of God? He corrects my behavior by disciplining me.
It is not always comfortable, but is always needed.
How can we do any less if we wish to raise children of worth?
It’s hard. It’s messy. I know this. Emotionally it can be horrible because you don’t want to be the mean one. But would you rather raise your children right and know that you have given them as much help as possible in facing the world? Or would you rather give them no help in realizing that the world will not give them anything simply because they demand it?
Discipline is much different than abuse. Abuse is horrible and must be stopped. Discipline does not need to be physical to be effective.  Discipline is needed so that we can raise up the next generation of honorable and respectful people. If we call our children our future, shouldn’t we want to see them ready to take it on?

Proverbs 22:6- Train up a child the way he should go; even if he is old he will not depart from it. 
Hebrews 12:11- For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Forbidden Topics- Sex

Sex. It’s everywhere and while one of the most shown acts on the internet, tv, in writings, and various other media outlets, it is one of the most non discussed topics in the church. We just urge children not to do it. When children have examples surrounding them that only show them how to do it, why would they listen to us when we say that they shouldn’t do it? Our very actions tell these kids that sex is the best thing that can happen to you, that everyone is doing it, that virginity should be lost now, and to just have fun with your sexuality.
My generation is considered to be the start of this downward slide into debauchery where sex with as many partners is the goal. To this, I scoff.
My generation and those that follow us are dealing with the burden of the 60’s and 70’s bid for ‘free love.’ Before that, there was the idealized belief in family- the typical 50’s household seen in the Andy Griffith show as well as the Leave It To Beaver show. Looking back many people, especially in the church, lament for the loss of family cohesiveness even in the midst of splitting up their own family.
Our beliefs of other generations are greatly limited by the fact that we only get a very small glimpse into their lives. We get the cleaned up version of their relationships. The ability of gossip was limited to towns and cities regarding who you spoke too. Technology in today’s age makes the ability to know everyone’s business at the click of a mouse key.

So in comparison-

    1. It looks like more men and women participate in non-marital sex today than they did 50 years ago (much less two centuries ago). This is because we broadcast it with Facebook and other media outlets through our statuses and our pictures or videos. When in fact men were known to keep numerous mistresses and/or frequent prostitutes in former eras.  Percentages of upper class women who had affairs is unknown, but still acknowledged.
    2. It looks like marital abuse is more prevalent today than it was in our grandparents age- because we have more ways of getting out of the abusive situation. We can actually get other people involved in our marriage to protect the person who is being abused- police, shelters, and neighbors actually seek to protect and help that person. Where in our grandparents’ era, what happened behind close doors stayed behind closed doors. Women who tried to get help were told to stop sinning and obey their husbands. Husbands who were abused (it happens!) wouldn’t talk about it for fear of humiliation and public scorn (this is still very prevalent in today’s society, there are very few resources for men who are abused by their wives).
    3. It seems like we have more sexually transmitted diseases than previous generations, but once again it’s because we actually hear about it through statistics and prevention talks. Caesars, kings, and well known famous people were documented throughout history of dying from syphilis (known through history as “the Great Pox” or “the French disease” it was thought to be brought to Europe either by Columbus or the 1494 invasion by the French) , gonorrhea (the ‘clap’ was recorded as early as the 16th century), as well as numerous other STDs.  They were not immune to these diseases, but once again, they weren’t talked about in public and only written in journals of close advisors or the person themselves. The horror of the HIV/AIDSepidemic is being known now because of the fact that it does not discriminate in regards to race or economics or sexual orientation as it was first thought, but rather is a equal opportunist to anyone who is sexually active and numerous children are being born with it now.  While AIDS was officially noticed in 1981, there is a strong possibility that the HIV-1 disease was found in the 50’s if not a little earlier.
      • The thing to remember while reading this is the fact that my generation is NOT the generation to start STDs, but rather are dealing with many diseases that had in fact  started numerous generations ago. Because of the impetuous found in the 60s and 70s for ‘free love’ we have created a fertile ground for these diseases to thrive.
    4. While this post is not about homosexuality, that is another thing that my generation is being blamed for, when in fact as can be seen biblically, homosexuality has been around since at least Abraham’s age- where it is mentioned in regards to Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19–  a clarifying point on the reason that the cities were destroyed was not due to homosexuality but the lack of hospitality as can be seen in careful reading of the text).
      • Historically (at least 2nd century), the Greek and Roman cultures were practitioners of homosexuality as well as what would be considered in today’s society pedophilia. The Roman Emperor Nero, one of the most horrific leaders of the ‘civilized world’ would rape male children under the age of 10 and toss the bodies of the children out of his window. Nero married a young male slave who looked like one of his wives that he had previously killed, making him into an eunuch and dressed him in women’s clothing, making his subjects call his ‘wife’ queen.
      • Both cultures also attempted to find ways of procreating between men, without the use of a woman, at different times. Their governments sponsored scientists in their search of the answer.
    5. Porn. It is seemingly everywhere, children are exposed to it at a very young age now if they are playing on the internet. Sex sells. Advertisers know this and use this, so a car commercial becomes a respectable form of pornography when a woman who is barely clothed is draped across the hood. Porn isn’t something new to my generation either- we just have made it more accessible. The Kama Sutra and the Victorian age‘s ‘etchings’ are just a small example of what were available. Rome and Greek had mosaics on walls that portrayed the sex act as well.
    6. Underage pregnancy was also prevalent in former eras- young girls were suddenly shipped off to a ‘girls school’ where they had their babies (many of which were put into orphanages) or various attempts at abortion were practiced, many with horrifying results.

So as can be seen- my generation is not the cause of the horrors we see right now. Rather the ‘sins of the father’ are being perpetrated into the next generation. The main difference in today’s society verses those generations that we have followed is the fact that we have the ability  show what we are doing. We don’t keep the acts of the bedroom in the bedroom anymore but rather broadcast it to the world. We keep looking for the next shocking thing and we want to shock each other because we want to be popular. The more we do the more we become apathetic and numb to what we are doing, so we seek the next thing.
Our children mimic what we do. Just as we mimic what our parents did. How can we expect them to do anything else because we are not practicing what we want them to do.
I believe sex should be talked about openly in the church. That we should be telling the kids how beautiful it is, that it is a gift from God for two people to become one. That a man and a woman who truly love each other get the opportunity to become even closer when they get married. Sex shouldn’t be hidden but respected. We shouldn’t as believers make it a disgusting act, but be shown how God created it for pleasure and procreation both.
If we act ashamed of sex, our children will either seek it out to see what they think or become equally ashamed of it- this causes problems within the marriage as well!
Sex isn’t something that should be practiced openly for all to participate, but it should be respected  and honored because it is something God created for us.
My generation might not have caused the problems we face right now, but maybe we can be the generation to start causing change by teaching our children the beauty that God has created in sex. If we do this, maybe divorce rates will lessen. Maybe families won’t split so readily, maybe children won’t be sexually abused so much, maybe STDs will fade. Maybe we can do what God wanted in the first place.

These are just some thoughts I had regarding a forbidden topic- sex.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)