6.24.2014

Social Media my source for world events.

My daily intake of “New Media” begins at 6:00am.  Wake up  and check the Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, Youtube, Pinterest, and Blogger feeds.  I always have to make sure things are good on the social media front! Who knows what could have jumped off between 1am and 6am when I caught a few hours of useless sleep. Who has time to sleep when the world is abreast with Netflix movies to be watched, DirectTV Soccer games to be tapped, and catching up with Jon Steward on Hulu.com while on the treadmill by 7:30am.   Ahh, John Stewart  my favorite pass time while “Mappingmyfitness”, “Polarizing” my heart-rate and tracking my caloric intake using myfitnesspal apps.  These new forms of media are woven into my mommy world like a fine crafted tapestry.  Each Day I use on average 5-7 different types of new media to manage me and the “little people”.  I have often thought what would my world as a mom look like without the carefully positioned distractions of social media breaks, electronic shopping list and coupon printing, weather checking, traffic monitoring, amber-alert notifications.  Don’t get me started on my Netflix, Hulu, and GoogleTV time! Oh, I think I mentioned that before but it was worth mentioning a second time.   How did they plan playdates or check for food allergies and GLUTEN  in those ancient days without smartphones and barcode readers.  I think they called that the  “Cell-A-SUAR” period of telecommunication.   My whole world would literally unfold if I had to actually get my news watching “Diane Sawyer” on Network TV.  Really? Who does that anymore?  Why would you when you have the “Town Crier” on Facebook and Twitter.  You know that person who seems to always have the latest breaking news every-time? Its like Wolf Blither was cloned 2000 times over to deliver the news first.  All joking aside its the way I found out about every major event.   For example, Whitney Houston, School Shootings, when Pluto was no longer a planet, etc. You know important news event!  I must add this tiny side note a very interesting transformation happened in my perspective on  “Big” events.    I was able to stay more informed with the current events because I was not “traumatized” by the images shown on TV.  I could keep updated on all types of news without the pain associated with the images. I can take in the facts without getting drawn into the nonessential dramatization for ratings.  I through in that side note because it does effect my state of mind as a mom with kids.  Living a life without fear and trauma is a core value in my “Mom Declaration” and new media outlets for current event tracking provide an excellent alternative.  This is very important to middle aged mommyhood in a social media landscape because it helps me to stay “Centered, Balanced, and Whole” for my two little people to grow up “Digital and Dignified”. 

8.13.2013

Starting over again and again!

It's been quite sometime since I've blogged.  I felt compelled to sit down a share a thought or two on perseverance and endurance.  I probably sound like a broken record to many when I say that weight is my ultimate challenge.  I didn't say enemy but challenge. Challenges can be overcome with working smarter not harder.  I will have stay focused to continue to conqueror this mountain in my life.  Though it will take a lot of grit and determination its not impossible.  I just keep telling myself to keep it and/or start it back up again.   No there is no quitting on this course.  However, I have stopped and refocused many times on this journey.    Over the last year I have gained a new self love and acceptance but also gain a few of my  lost weight back.   Instead of getting depressed with a defeatist attitude,  I just started over again with my program.   Starting over is something I know a lot about. Almost 5yrs old I started over with Ngozi and Nkiru.   This year I'm starting over with single hood.  And again I am starting over to take down another 60lbs in six months.   I think I am going to rephrase it this time as Starting Afresh!   It just sounds better!  So get ready! Get Set.  And go for it again for the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time!  Never quit until you reach your target.  

11.30.2012

Groettum Family: Giving.

Groettum Family: Giving.: So Thanksgiving is all about giving…correct?!? So, how about becoming the best kind of gift giver of all…give the gift of life by becoming...

10.25.2012

Epidemic of Indifference.

I was challenged today by a professor to observe the indifference I see in my world and address it from a biblical perspective.  How can we begin to model Christ example and become more empathetic and intentional in showing love to others.   This question left me speechless which is amazing for those who know me well.   It struck a cord with me on many levels that I won't discuss now but in a future blog I will explain in detail.   As I begin to answer the question for my assignment I remember a speech given by Holocaust Survivor Eli Wiesel at the White House on Indifference.   I have copied it below and would love to get your response to his critique on our Epidemic of Indifference.


Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, gave this impassioned speech in the East Room of the White House on April 12, 1999, as part of the Millennium Lecture series, hosted by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In the summer of 1944, as a teenager in Hungary, Elie Wiesel, along with his father, mother and sisters, were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz extermination camp in occupied Poland. Upon arrival there, Wiesel and his father were selected by SS Dr. Josef Mengele for slave labor and wound up at the nearby Buna rubber factory.

Daily life included starvation rations of soup and bread, brutal discipline, and a constant struggle against overwhelming despair. At one point, young Wiesel received 25 lashes of the whip for a minor infraction.

In January 1945, as the Russian Army drew near, Wiesel and his father were hurriedly evacuated from Auschwitz by a forced march to Gleiwitz and then via an open train car to Buchenwald in Germany, where his father, mother, and a younger sister eventually died.

Wiesel was liberated by American troops in April 1945. After the war, he moved to Paris and became a journalist then later settled in New York. Since 1976, he has been Andrew Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. He has received numerous awards and honors including the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also the Founding Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial. Wiesel has written over 40 books including Night, a harrowing chronicle of his Holocaust experience, first published in 1960.

At the White House lecture, Wiesel was introduced by Hillary Clinton who stated, "It was more than a year ago that I asked Elie if he would be willing to participate in these Millennium Lectures...I never could have imagined that when the time finally came for him to stand in this spot and to reflect on the past century and the future to come, that we would be seeing children in Kosovo crowded into trains, separated from families, separated from their homes, robbed of their childhoods, their memories, their humanity."










Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, members of Congress, Ambassador Holbrooke, Excellencies, friends: Fifty-four years ago to the day, a young Jewish boy from a small town in the Carpathian Mountains woke up, not far from Goethe's beloved Weimar, in a place of eternal infamy called Buchenwald. He was finally free, but there was no joy in his heart. He thought there never would be again.
Liberated a day earlier by American soldiers, he remembers their rage at what they saw. And even if he lives to be a very old man, he will always be grateful to them for that rage, and also for their compassion. Though he did not understand their language, their eyes told him what he needed to know -- that they, too, would remember, and bear witness.

And now, I stand before you, Mr. President -- Commander-in-Chief of the army that freed me, and tens of thousands of others -- and I am filled with a profound and abiding gratitude to the American people.Gratitude is a word that I cherish. Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being. And I am grateful to you, Hillary -- or Mrs. Clinton -- for what you said, and for what you are doing for children in the world, for the homeless, for the victims of injustice, the victims of destiny and society. And I thank all of you for being here.

We are on the threshold of a new century, a new millennium. What will the legacy of this vanishing century be? How will it be remembered in the new millennium? Surely it will be judged, and judged severely, in both moral and metaphysical terms. These failures have cast a dark shadow over humanity: two World Wars, countless civil wars, the senseless chain of assassinations -- Gandhi, the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Sadat, Rabin -- bloodbaths in Cambodia and Nigeria, India and Pakistan, Ireland and Rwanda, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Sarajevo and Kosovo; the inhumanity in the gulag and the tragedy of Hiroshima. And, on a different level, of course, Auschwitz and Treblinka. So much violence, so much indifference.

What is indifference? Etymologically, the word means "no difference." A strange and unnatural state in which the lines blur between light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil.What are its courses and inescapable consequences? Is it a philosophy? Is there a philosophy of indifference conceivable? Can one possibly view indifference as a virtue? Is it necessary at times to practice it simply to keep one's sanity, live normally, enjoy a fine meal and a glass of wine, as the world around us experiences harrowing upheavals?

Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive. It is so much easier to look away from victims. It is so much easier to avoid such rude interruptions to our work, our dreams, our hopes. It is, after all, awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair. Yet, for the person who is indifferent, his or her neighbor are of no consequence. And, therefore, their lives are meaningless. Their hidden or even visible anguish is of no interest. Indifference reduces the other to an abstraction.
Over there, behind the black gates of Auschwitz, the most tragic of all prisoners were the "Muselmanner," as they were called. Wrapped in their torn blankets, they would sit or lie on the ground, staring vacantly into space, unaware of who or where they were, strangers to their surroundings. They no longer felt pain, hunger, thirst. They feared nothing. They felt nothing. They were dead and did not know it.
Rooted in our tradition, some of us felt that to be abandoned by humanity then was not the ultimate. We felt that to be abandoned by God was worse than to be punished by Him. Better an unjust God than an indifferent one. For us to be ignored by God was a harsher punishment than to be a victim of His anger. Man can live far from God -- not outside God. God is wherever we are. Even in suffering? Even in suffering.

In a way, to be indifferent to that suffering is what makes the human being inhuman. Indifference, after all, is more dangerous than anger and hatred. Anger can at times be creative. One writes a great poem, a great symphony, one does something special for the sake of humanity because one is angry at the injustice that one witnesses. But indifference is never creative. Even hatred at times may elicit a response. You fight it. You denounce it. You disarm it. Indifference elicits no response. Indifference is not a response.

Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore, indifference is always the friend of the enemy, for it benefits the aggressor -- never his victim, whose pain is magnified when he or she feels forgotten. The political prisoner in his cell, the hungry children, the homeless refugees -- not to respond to their plight, not to relieve their solitude by offering them a spark of hope is to exile them from human memory. And in denying their humanity we betray our own.
Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment. And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century's wide-ranging experiments in good and evil.

In the place that I come from, society was composed of three simple categories: the killers, the victims, and the bystanders. During the darkest of times, inside the ghettoes and death camps -- and I'm glad that Mrs. Clinton mentioned that we are now commemorating that event, that period, that we are now in the Days of Remembrance -- but then, we felt abandoned, forgotten. All of us did.
And our only miserable consolation was that we believed that Auschwitz and Treblinka were closely guarded secrets; that the leaders of the free world did not know what was going on behind those black gates and barbed wire; that they had no knowledge of the war against the Jews that Hitler's armies and their accomplices waged as part of the war against the Allies.
If they knew, we thought, surely those leaders would have moved heaven and earth to intervene. They would have spoken out with great outrage and conviction. They would have bombed the railways leading to Birkenau, just the railways, just once.

And now we knew, we learned, we discovered that the Pentagon knew, the State Department knew. And the illustrious occupant of the White House then, who was a great leader -- and I say it with some anguish and pain, because, today is exactly 54 years marking his death -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt died on April the 12th, 1945, so he is very much present to me and to us.
No doubt, he was a great leader. He mobilized the American people and the world, going into battle, bringing hundreds and thousands of valiant and brave soldiers in America to fight fascism, to fight dictatorship, to fight Hitler. And so many of the young people fell in battle. And, nevertheless, his image in Jewish history -- I must say it -- his image in Jewish history is flawed.
The depressing tale of the St. Louis is a case in point. Sixty years ago, its human cargo -- maybe 1,000 Jews -- was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back.

I don't understand. Roosevelt was a good man, with a heart. He understood those who needed help. Why didn't he allow these refugees to disembark? A thousand people -- in America, a great country, the greatest democracy, the most generous of all new nations in modern history. What happened? I don't understand. Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims?
But then, there were human beings who were sensitive to our tragedy. Those non-Jews, those Christians, that we called the "Righteous Gentiles," whose selfless acts of heroism saved the honor of their faith. Why were they so few? Why was there a greater effort to save SS murderers after the war than to save their victims during the war?

Why did some of America's largest corporations continue to do business with Hitler's Germany until 1942? It has been suggested, and it was documented, that the Wehrmacht could not have conducted its invasion of France without oil obtained from American sources. How is one to explain their indifference?

And yet, my friends, good things have also happened in this traumatic century: the defeat of Nazism, the collapse of communism, the rebirth of Israel on its ancestral soil, the demise of apartheid, Israel's peace treaty with Egypt, the peace accord in Ireland. And let us remember the meeting, filled with drama and emotion, between Rabin and Arafat that you, Mr. President, convened in this very place. I was here and I will never forget it.

And then, of course, the joint decision of the United States and NATO to intervene in Kosovo and save those victims, those refugees, those who were uprooted by a man whom I believe that because of his crimes, should be charged with crimes against humanity. But this time, the world was not silent. This time, we do respond. This time, we intervene.

Does it mean that we have learned from the past? Does it mean that society has changed? Has the human being become less indifferent and more human? Have we really learned from our experiences? Are we less insensitive to the plight of victims of ethnic cleansing and other forms of injustices in places near and far? Is today's justified intervention in Kosovo, led by you, Mr. President, a lasting warning that never again will the deportation, the terrorization of children and their parents be allowed anywhere in the world? Will it discourage other dictators in other lands to do the same?
What about the children? Oh, we see them on television, we read about them in the papers, and we do so with a broken heart. Their fate is always the most tragic, inevitably. When adults wage war, children perish. We see their faces, their eyes. Do we hear their pleas? Do we feel their pain, their agony? Every minute one of them dies of disease, violence, famine. Some of them -- so many of them -- could be saved.

And so, once again, I think of the young Jewish boy from the Carpathian Mountains. He has accompanied the old man I have become throughout these years of quest and struggle. And together we walk towards the new millennium, carried by profound fear and extraordinary hope.
Elie Wiesel - April 12, 1999



10.19.2012

IS YOUR LIFE A DEFENSE FOR YOUR FAITH?

THE APOLOGIST’S FIRST QUESTION
By Dr. Ravi Zacharias

  
I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the Gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out. I remember well in the early days of my Christian faith talking to a close Hindu friend. He was questioning the experience of conversion as being supernatural. He absolutely insisted that conversion was nothing more than a decision to lead a more ethical life and that, in most cases, it was not any different from other ethical religions. I had heard his argument before.
    But then he said something I have never forgotten: “If this conversion is truly supernatural, why is it not more evident in the lives of so many Christians I know?” His question is a troublesome one. In fact, it is so deeply disturbing a question that I think of all the challenges to belief, this is the most difficult question of all. I have never struggled with my own personal faith as far as intellectual challenges to the Gospel are concerned. But I have often had struggles of the soul in trying to figure out why the Christian faith is not more visible. After lecturing at a major American university, I was driven to the airport by the organizer of the event. I was quite jolted by what he told me. He said, “My wife brought our neighbor last night. She is a medical doctor and had not been to anything like this before. On their way home, my wife asked her what she thought of it all.” He paused and then continued, “Do you know what she said?” Rather reluctantly, I shook my head. “She said, ‘That was a very powerful evening. The arguments were very persuasive. I wonder what he is like in his private life.’” Because my Hindu friend had not witnessed spiritual transformation in the life of Christians, whatever answers he received were nullified. In the doctor’s case, the answers were intellectually and existentially satisfying, but she still needed to know, did they really make a difference in the life of the one proclaiming them?
    The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, “There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.” In other words, the message is seen before it is heard. For both the Hindu questioner and the American doctor, the answers to their questions were not enough; they depended upon the visible transformation of the one offering them.


    1 Peter 3:15 gives us the gives us the defining statement: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer (apologia) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Notice that before the answer is given, the one giving the answer is called to a certain prerequisite. The lordship of Christ over the life of the apologist is foundational to all answers given. Peter, of all the disciples, knew well how to ask questions and also how fickle the human heart is. He knew the seductive power of the spectacular in momentary enthrallment. He knew what it was to betray someone and to fail. He knew what it was to try to explain the Gospel--as he did at Pentecost. Peter’s strong reminder of the heart of the apologist is the basis of all apologetic attempts.
    With character in mind, there follow two immediate imperatives: the quality of life lived and the clarity of answers given. The way the Christian’s life is lived will determine the impact upon believers and skeptics alike. This is a defining line because the claim by the believer is unique. The claim is that of a “new birth.” After all, no Buddhist or Hindu or Muslim claims his or her life of devotion to be supernatural, yet they often live a more consistent life. And how often does the so-called Christian, even while teaching some of the loftiest truths one could ever teach, live a life bereft of that beauty and character. In apologetics the question is often asked, “If there is only one way, how is it that there are few in all of creation who qualify?” That question is actually more potent than the questioner realizes. It should further be raised, “Out of the few who actually qualify, why are even fewer living it out?”


    The spiritual condition and character of the apologist are of immense importance. This call to a life reflecting the person of Christ is the ultimate call of everyone who wishes to do apologetics. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1–26) she raised one question after another as if that were really her problem. It would have been very easy for the Lord to call her bluff with some castigating words. Instead, like a gentle and nimble-handed goldsmith he rubbed away the markings of sin and pain in her life until she was amazed at how much true gold he brought out in her. He gave her hope, knowing all along who she was on the inside. Likewise, we cannot simply vanquish the person in an attempt to rescue the message. The value of the person is an essential part of the message.


    This means the apologist’s task begins with a godly walk. One ought to take time to reflect seriously upon the question, Has God truly wrought a miracle in my life? Is my own heart proof of the supernatural intervention of God? That is the apologist’s first question.



Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Excerpted from Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend (Nashville: Nelson, 2007)

10.14.2012

How well do You Love?


The Baptism of Love
By Francis Frangipane
(En Español)
It is hard for us in this anxious, fearful age to quiet our souls and actually dwell upon God in our hearts. We can engage ourselves with Bible study or other acts of obedience. In varying degrees we know how to witness, exhort and bless. We know how to analyze these things and even perfect them. But to lift our souls above the material world and consciously ponder on God Himself seems beyond the reach of our Christian experience.

To Dwell Upon God
Yet, to actually grasp the substance of God is to enter a spiritual place of immunity; it is to receive into our spirits the victory Christ won for us, which is oneness with God in Christ.
Thus we cannot content ourselves merely with the tasks we are called to perform. Ultimately we will discover that study and church attendance are but forms which have little satisfaction in and of themselves. These activities must become what the Lord has ordained them to be: means through which we seek and find God. Our pleasure will be found not in the mechanics of spiritual disciplines, but that these disciplines bring us closer to God.
Paul's cry was, "That I may know Him!" (Phil. 3:10). It was this desire to know Jesus that produced Paul's knowledge of salvation, church order, evangelism and end-time events. Out of his heart's passion to know God came revelation, the writing of Scriptures and knowledge of the Eternal. Paul's knowledge was based upon his experience with Christ.
On the other hand, we have contented ourselves not with seeking the face of God, but with studying the facts of God. We are satisfied with a religion about Christ without the reality of Christ.
The Bible is the historical record of man's experiences with the Almighty. Out of personal encounters people had with the living God, our theological perspectives have developed. But knowledge about God is only the first step toward entering the presence of God. As much as the Bible is a book of truths, it is also a map to God. As Christians, we study and debate the map yet too often fail to make the journey.
Love Surpasses Knowledge
There is a place greater than knowledge; it is a simple, yet eternally profound place where we actually abide in Christ's love. This is, indeed, the shelter of the Most High. Remember the apostle's prayer was that we each would "know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge" (Eph. 3:19). As important as knowledge is, that verse tells us love "surpasses knowledge." Doctrinal knowledge is the framework, the vehicle, that opens the door toward divine realities, but love causes us to be "filled up to all the fullness of God" (v. 19).

There is a dwelling place of love that God desires us to enter. It is a place where our knowledge of God is fulfilled by the substance of God. The Amplified Bible's rendering states:

"May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, that you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; [that you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!" (Eph. 3:17-19).
Is this not our goal, to be rooted deeply in love, to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of God's love; and to know for ourselves the deep, personal love of Christ? Can any goal be more wonderful? Indeed, to be filled and flooded with God Himself is the very hope of the gospel!
You see, God cannot truly be known without, in some way, also being experienced. If you had never seen a sunrise or a starry night sky, could any description substitute for your own eyes beholding the expansive beauty? Awe comes from seeing and encountering, not merely from knowing that somewhere a beautiful sky exists.
Likewise, to truly know God we must seek Him until we pass through the outer, informational realm about God and actually find for ourselves the living presence of the Lord Himself. This is the "upward call" of God in Christ Jesus. It draws us through our doctrines into the immediacy of the divine presence. The journey leaves us in the place of transcendent surrender, where we listen to His voice and, from listening, ascend into His love.
The earth's last great move of God shall be distinguished by an outpouring from Christ of irresistible desire for His people. To those who truly yearn for His appearing there shall come, in ever-increasing waves, seasons of renewal from the presence of the Lord (see Acts 3:19-21). Intimacy with Christ shall be restored to its highest level since the first century.
Many on the outside of this move of God as well as those touched and healed by it will look and marvel: "How did these common people obtain such power?" They will see miracles similar to when Jesus Christ walked the earth. Multitudes will be drawn into the valley of decision. For them, the kingdom of God will be at hand.
But for those whom the Lord has drawn to Himself, there will be no mystery as to how He empowered them. Having returned to the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ, they will have received the baptism of love.