Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

May your days be merry & bright! Wishing you the most wonderful time of the year!
Click to play Most Wonderful Time
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nutcracker SWEET

Living

Well, we are living today. Trying to get the tree decorated. It's up & UPRIGHT today. Mind you, it has been leaning since the Christmas tree stand broke last Sunday night. This brokeness followed a FULL weekend of rehearsal, wake/funeral, neuro study group, church, sign class w/extra credit interpretive play & Christkindl markt excursion.

A GraceFULL quote to sum up the experience at the end of the day "I think we're just both real tired & need to sleep."

Me, Chris & Dennette at Chris' mom-in-law's life celebration


Meine leiblings Schatz um Christkindlmarkt

Arielle & her petite flower at Christmas Presence Rehearsal
Recuperating from a humungo final last night...I know that's not a word, but my neurology final 'bout sapped me dry. I sat down for the exam & next time I looked at my clock...2 hours, 20 minutes had passed. Thank God for Christmas Presence which helped my brain rebound. Thank God I made it in time...20 minutes from GSU to CLC. What a performance! What a message! I've got a few pictures from last night.

Petite Flower - Nutcracker Suite



Phone call yesterday from the preschool director during my neuro marathon study session:
"Hi, Carmen, everything's ok. I just wanted to let you know there was an incident today at school involving Grace. She was kissed by one of the boys in her class. He's an affectionate little guy & while we encourage the kids to save kisses for home...well, he got Grace today. She was not the instigator, but perhaps you could reaffirm what we talked about afterward that we save kisses for moms & dads...our family at home."
Ok, we've had our 1st kiss. Now, this little guy has been mentioned a time or two around our house. Grace informed me & little pal, Jon, that she could not marry him anymore because ___ (preschool Don Juan) is making her a cake with a doggie on it & she will marry him now. :o(
What to do, what to do?? 1st kisses, weddings & cakes with doggies...good thing she's waiting until she "gets" 30 years old.
In the afterschool debriefing, Grace informed me she did not kiss back. "He just kissed me right on the lips & I didn't kiss him back. I said no but he kissed anyway." Good- you say no. We save those kisses for mommy & our family.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christkindlesmarkt

Nurnberg - webpics
Now that we've cleared up that the Annual Roomie Cookie Exchange is in DEC this year (as it was last year - where was I??)...I'm headed downtown today to meet up with Roomie Valerie to explore the Christkindles Markt! Whooo hooo! So excited! Some kinderpunch (kid version of the hot wine) & a visit with Chriskindl himself. Now the Chicago Christmas market is no Nurnburg. Mind you, I lived 30 minutes from this world famous Christmas market in Germany, but hey it's as close as we'll get in Chicagoland & it's the next best thing to being there. Wishful thinking...So, I'm thrilled & Gracie's stoked as well. Only bummer is that Val's daughter, Allison, is still in MO & NOT not coming along. :o( for Gracie.
My own pic. Chicago version of Christkindlemart: note the skyscraper reflection~
With that in mind, a word about family tradtions~

Wise Words on the Value of Family Rituals as found on Being Saavy:
Trusted experts and wise preschool teachers Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum remind us of why the thought and care we put into the holiday season, and the many other rituals of family life, really matters."Your preschool child is now at an age when she can really begin to appreciate the rituals and holidays that divide up the year and bring a family together. When you do something on a weekly or annual basis, this helps create a wonderful sense of belonging within a family.... When you create family rituals, you're building a store of memories that will stay with you and your child, acquiring more meaning with every passing year." -- from Practical Wisdom for Parents: Raising Self-Confident Children in the Preschool Years
See Grace "sitting" on Santa's lap~

A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

Thanks to my friend, Renee, we've incorporated something new into our bedtime routine here at the GraceFULL house. Beginning with a live demo at our last roomie reunion, Grace & I now talk about the best/worst of our day. Sometimes it's as simple as "My best was when we snuggled in the morning" - that was Gracie's best reported last night or "Wow! I loved your smile when I was chasing you away from the cookie dough" - mine, last night. Worst - well...those don't come up too often - it's typically, "Noooo, I didn't have a worst today." However, last night Gracie "My worst was when we pinched each other's cheeks too hard." It had just happened-we just got carried away with the "Ohhhh you're so cute" stuff. Ouch!

So our best/worst is a nice transition from our book reading to prayers. I can't remember at what point we added in being thankful. Maybe as an attempt to facilitate Gracie praying rather than just mom. So asking her what she's thankful for was a way I tried to do this. ANYWAY....yesterday, it dawned on me to talk about what a THANKFUL heart is. So yesterday we had this conversation about blessings & what does being thankful look like.

Perusing Mommy Manifesto this morning, I came across this quote that is on a mommy level, but really spoke to the topic I've been trying to live & convey to my youngster. It's worth sharing. Oh, that my heart would exude gratitude such as this~
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and
more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a
friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and
creates a vision for tomorrow.
- Melody Beattieo

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Presence

You're invited~

It's that time of year again..the most wonderful time of the year. CLC's production of Christmas Presence is coming up December 10-14th. Our very own Gracie-cakes is a petit flower in the Nutcracker Suite piece - the opening act. Don't miss it!



The Story
We invite you to capture the spirit of Christmas Presence. More than just a year-end tradition or a showcase for talent, Christmas Presence is a 360 degree ministry, providing both an exciting creative outlet for the CLC body and an effective outreach tool to share the love of Christ at a time of year when it is so often lost in the shuffle.

We feel at once humbled and privileged to be able to present our gifts to the Lord in this unique and organic framework that was a “God idea” from the beginning. Christmas Presence was created a night of fun for guests of all ages, a gift to the community & an opportunity for individuals and entire families to actively participate in ministry with minimal impact on personal schedules.

The first act of the production focuses on the outward trappings of the Christmas holiday. We present these as a series of musical gifts. From heartwarming and familiar classics like The Nutcracker Suite, to song and dance celebrating sleigh rides, winter fun, and family gatherings, these gifts remind us in part why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. We can become so “wrapped up” in the bright packaging of Christmas, however, that we lose sight of the comfort, joy, and peace that God intends. Our enemy, represented by the Grinch, tries to steal Christmas, leaving us empty-handed and empty-hearted. Only by listening to the steady rhythm of God’s heartbeat can we hope to rediscover the reason for the season.

The second act poses the question: “Where Are You Christmas?” The answer takes us on a journey back to Bethlehem, to the midnight clear when angels heralded Christ’s birth and wise men brought him gifts. On each phase of the journey, God restores the gifts that the enemy had stolen, leaving us with the greatest gift of all: His Presence.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving - the real story

On this day, I give thanks for family, friends & freedom to worship without reserve. I'm thankful for my little Grace who was insistant that we pray today, giving thanks to God. I'm thankful for the stores of love from those dear to me heart. I am deeply & fully thankful you are in my life. My life is better because of you. I'm thankful for a God who meets me where I am - when I'm am at the end - wherever that be, He finds me. His unending mercy & grace overwhelms me...it overtakes me. There is no measuring His vast love. I am thankFULL today...everyday, but today I say it along with singing it. Happy Thanksgiving~


AND now for the real story of Thanksgiving...the 1st celebration of bounty & how we got here - why we celebrate.

"On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work."

Now, you know the usual story of Thanksgiving: They landed. They had no clue where they were, no idea how to feed themselves. The Indians came out, showed 'em how to pop popcorn, fed 'em turkey, saved 'em basically -- and then white European settlers after that basically wiped out the Indian population. It's a horrible example. Not only is that not true, here is the part that's been omitted from what is still today taught as the traditional Thanksgiving story in many schools.

"The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store,' when they got here, 'and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. "
They were going to distribute it equally. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belonged to the community as well. ... [William] Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. ... Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism,' and it had failed" miserably because when every put things in the common store, some people didn't have to put things in for there to be, people that didn't produce anything were taking things out, and it caused resentment just as it does today. So Bradford had to change it.

"What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering," that happens today and will happen "in the future. 'The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,' Bradford wrote.

"'For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without [being paid] that was thought injustice.' ... The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result?"

Here's what Bradford wrote, the governor of the Massachusetts colony. "'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.' Bradford doesn't sound like much of a Clintonite, does he?" or an Obamaite, if I can update it. "Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? ... Anyway, the pilgrims found "In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. ... So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.'"

Very few people have heard this story or have had it taught to them -- and the "thanks" was to God for showing them the way. In later parts of the chapter, I quote John Adams and George Washington on their reminisces and their thoughts on the first Thanksgiving and the notion it was thanks to God. It was an entirely different story than is being taught in the schools. It's been muddied down, watered down all these years -- and now it's been hijacked by the multicultural community -- to the point that the story of Thanksgiving is the Pilgrims were a bunch of incompetents and were saved only by the goodness of the Indians, who then were wiped out. And that's what kids are being taught today -- 'cause, of course, you can't mention the Bible in school, and that's fundamental to the real story of Thanksgiving.

As narrated by & quoted from See, I Told You So, page 70 - Rush Limbaugh

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Good to Know

In these troubled economic times, we worry for ourselves and our family. Fact is, these days many of us also are concerned about the health & welfare of our aging parents or loved ones with disabilities. Many of us know how expensive prescriptions are, but the reality is that Seniors pay hundreds of dollars a month just for their prescription drugs. Navigating the ins & outs of Medicare is no less than challenging. Questions about eligibility, program options & services are available at Medicare.gov or by dialing 1-800-medicare.

Interested given my work with folks with disabilities as well as aging parents of my own, I participated in a phone conference organized by Parent Bloggers Network. It was very informative, making me realize how much I don't know about services that could help my family or families with whom I work. Fielding our questions was Mike Freeman, respresentative of the Health Care Leadership Council & Medicare Today.

The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), a coalition of chief executives from all disciplines within the healthcare system, launched Medicare Today in November 2004 to reach out to Medicare beneficiaries who needed reliable information on how to get the greatest value from the new Medicare benefits. The Healthcare Leadership Council administers the partnership of over 400 national and local organization including AARP, National Association of Family Physicians, and National Alliance for Hispanic Health. Medicare Today develops innovative tools for use by all partners, commissions research studies, and undertakes earned media efforts and outreach to inform beneficiaries about the value of the new benefits under the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA). Medicare Today will continue beyond the initial enrollment period to provide continued assistance to beneficiaries and respond to media inquires and opportunities.

Medicare offers prescription drug coverage (Part D) for everyone with Medicare. This coverage may help you lower your prescription drug costs and help you protect against higher costs in the future. It can give you greater access to drugs that you can use to prevent complications of diseases and stay well. To get Medicare drug coverage, you must join a plan run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare.

From now until the end of the year, Dec 31, it is open season for enrollment in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program or to change their current program. For more information about extra help with prescription drug costs and how to apply, visit www.socialsecurity.gov or call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. TTY users should call 1-800-325-0778. ★

One interesting fact Mike shared was the satisfaction rate of those utilizing the prescription drug program. 90% were satisfied! That says alot! Here's a quote from the Medicare Today website:

Three years after Medicare Part D was made available, seniors enrolled in the program continue to feel extremely positive about it. Ninety percent of seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D are satisfied overall with the program - an increase of 12 percent since the benefit began - according to a new survey commissioned by Medicare Today and conducted by KRC research in September 2008.

Most folks don't always enroll in the plans that they might need - like prescription drug coverage provided by Medicare Part D. The good news is there are affordable plans in all 50 states, designed to fit a wide range of needs.

So if you or someone you know might benefit from medicare services, including the prescription drug plan, please point them in to these resources:

Medicare.gov
Medicaretoday.org

Thanks to Parent Bloggers for organizing the tele-talk & giving us a platform to obtain & share valuable information about the Medicare prescription drug plan.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Barker Baby


Though I can't remember exactly when I fell in love, but I think my first crush ever was Bob Barker. As far back as I can remember, I watched the Price is Right with great delight! Loved the showcase showdown. I can hear that Johnny saying "Come on down!"
I liked pricing games like the Cliffhanger, Bulls Eye & the Clock game. I kid you not, sometimes I watched those showcases with a calculator in hand. Those were the days...when I had time to watch TV & nothing better to do.

Apparently, I'm not the only one loving on TPIR. Versions of the popular game show are shown shown round the world from here to there - Chile to Morocco to Thailand, Turkey & Pakistan plus dozens other places you might visit on a missions trip. Who knew?!
There were many game shows I enjoyed growing up, but none held my affinity like the Price is Right, nor my affection like Bob Barker. But let's talk about the others anyway....$100,000 Pyramid & what was that game show with all the squares?? I vuagely remember an episode of Pyramid with another crush, Donny Osmond. What else....does the Gong Show count as a game show? Probably not & I'm not really proud that I watched that silly show anyway, but I was a kid. OOOh, Let's Make a Deal & Name That Tune! Richard Dawson in the Family Fued. Now it's all coming back to me.
So, what games did you watch as a kid or watch these days? Do tell!

Speaking of gaming in the comfort of your own home...check out Oliebollen. Those fun folks are hosting an armchair Holiday Shopping Sweep!

This out of nowhere post was inspired by the folks at Parent Bloggers with fun at heart & teeny tiny wishes to maybe win something cool. Plus, I just can't sleep.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Traditions of JoyFULL Giving

A tradition I treasure from my childhood was mom's cookie & candy trays delivered to friends & neighbors for the holidays. Mom was known for sharing her tasty treats & yummy talents with others. Teachers & school administrators, pastors & sunday school teachers, folks at her favorite mom & pop store...they all got a tray overflowing with fudge, divinity, cookies & other scrumptious goodies. What a way to say a warm heartfelt thank you & Merry Christmas! Thus, I come honestly by this baking & taking-to-others joy.
The past couple of years, I've tried my hand at Christmas candies & cookies to share. Trying out mom's tried & true recipes while experimenting with new ones. My angel or sponge candy looked so yummy & tasted pretty good - after the 3rd batch, that is. Mom never would have made chocolate covered orange peelings, but something that tastes so good can't be THAT hard to make. Peanut brittle - what a treat & a science lesson to boot! When they say pour immediately into the pan - they mean IMMEDIATELY!
There is great delight in giving. What better gift than something heart & homemade with love.
I'm looking forward to this season of sharing again this year. Gracie is my kitchen cutie helper & is quite generous with the sprinkles, chips & whatever add-ins there may be. She's catching on to the joy in giving & that makes my heart smile really big.

If making gifts for others is right up your alley, check out the happenings over at Parent Bloggers & Klutz.
AND can I say at this point how stinkin excited I am about our upcoming cookie exchange with the roomies?? Whoo hooo! I might just make some dark chocolate covered sponge candy & peanut brittle for the grand event. YUM!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloweeny Fun - updated with video

Happy Halloween to you & yours! We had a great time dowtown last weekend with Uncle Bob. Our little princess marched in the parade, right alongside Bugs Bunny & Sylvester. We enjoyed all the Chicagoween festivities in Daley Plaza. Later we warmed up at Uncle Bob's with hot chocolate and carved pumpkins. Here are a few pics from our Chicagoween adventures~

Big City princess: Cutest costume 3+







On Halloween itself, we enjoyed festivities at Toys R Us & the mall. Rounded out the day trick or treating with just ducky friend, Emily. Sharing some of my favorite pictures. Look for a Smilebox coming soon~


Honest to God, I went through 19 short videos taken during the trick or treating event...trying to find a good picture of the girls together without Em's finger up her nose. I remember this phase...wish I could forget. So, I just had to include this one of BOTH of them digging around. Geez...I'm going to catch flack for this from Em's mom when she reads this post & years from now, both girls will hate me for posting this.


Buried treasure~

DelightFULL! Best picture


Sleeping beauty: Best picture
video
Of coures I was NOT driving when I shot this little clip of the tuckered out princess. I was at a stoplight. :o)
PS - check out the super fun halloween contest showing off our pumpkins, sponsored by the Parent Bloggers Network and Blurb. This one thing I know, I'm making a book at Blurb. The price is right indeed! Thanks to Parent Bloggers & Blurb for hosting such a fun contest!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Grace & Jon at Fair Oaks Farm

We recently enjoyed a day with Grace & one of her bestest friends, Jon, at Fair Oaks Farm. Last year Grace declared she would marry her cousin Haddon. "No, Grace, you can't marry Haddon. He is your cousin. You want to marry your best friend." "Well then," she declared, "When I'm 5, I'll marry Jonathon." "Nooooooo....maybe when you're 35." So, here they are down on the farm & having fun!

Click to play Grace & Jon Farm Fun

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A helping hand - thanks for helping. Steph got her carpet!

Hey my good friend Stephanie, special education teacher & mom of Gracie's BFF, is working hard for a special classroom project. I just supported a classroom project at a public school via DonorsChoose.org, and it made me think of you. It's called "A Magic Carpet Ride For Special Students" and the teacher describes it here:

If you contribute, too, we could bring this classroom project to life. So check it out and see what you think!

All DonorsChoose.org projects are submitted by public school teachers who seek resources essential to their students' success. Donors can choose from thousands of classroom projects, and then hear back from the classroom they chose to help.

Here's a personal note from Stephanie regarding her classroom project:

I teach in a special education building serving children with autism. I have
students in grades 1 - 3. We depend a lot on the use of visuals in the classroom
to help the children be successful in their day.

Whether the children
are singing songs, relaxing with toys, listening to a story, much of our school
day is spent on the tile floor, a place that unfortunately lacks the necessary
boundaries to help keep my students focused on the lesson. The students are
always moving into each others personal space.

My classroom needs a
colorful carpet to provide the needed boundaries to help each child be attentive
and feel secure. Providing each child with a special spot to sit will also help
my class transition quickly from one activity to the next, making the most of
our precious learning time.

With your help, you will make our circle
time a fun place to come to. Your help will ensure a comfortable area for my
students to learn together. You will make it possible for group activities to
become more rewarding, safe and fun!

My students need an Busy Bee ABC
carpet. The cost of this proposal is $424, which includes shipping for any
materials requested and fulfillment.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Focus on the Family - Dr Dobson letter

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY ACTION™
DEDICATED T O THE DEFENSE OF
MORAL VALUES AND THE FAMILY

October 2008


Dear Friends,

Can you feel the tension in the air? The nation—and indeed, the world—is holding its collective breath as the final days of the presidential campaign wind down and the candidates engage in one last round of electioneering and debating. By this time next month, we’ll know whether Senator John McCain or Senator Barack Obama will be inaugurated in January as the 44th President of the United States.

Considering the stark differences between the two presidential candidates and the critical issues that are hanging in the balance, it’s not difficult to understand why Campaign 2008 has been such a spirited affair. I’d like to take a few moments to consider what is at stake in this year’s election, particularly for those of us who embrace a biblical worldview. Please understand that I will share these thoughts under the umbrella of Focus on the Family Action™, which has supported the preparation and distribution of this letter. Focus Action is, in turn, supported by
contributions from those who do not receive tax deductible receipts for them. Thanks so much to you who made it possible.

Let’s start with the need to elect a pro-family, pro-life President. The importance of this objective cannot be overstated. Between 2009 and 2012, there will likely be two or more opportunities for the President to nominate new justices to the Supreme Court. Some court watchers say there could be as many as four resignations. That alone should give us serious pause as we consider for whom to cast our votes. In the months ahead, the Supreme Court will likely hand down rulings that will impact America for generations to come. We need a President who will nominate conservative, strict-constructionist judges to the Court. If that doesn’t happen, the highest court in the land could become stacked—even more than it already is—with justices who will endeavor to legislate from the bench and impose a liberal agenda on the nation. It will likely affect the definition of marriage, religious freedom, and the protection (or lack thereof) of life in the womb.

It’s probably obvious which of the two major party candidates’ views are most palatable to those of us who embrace a pro-life, pro-family worldview. While I will not endorse either candidate this year, I can say that I am now supportive of Senator John McCain and his bid for the presidency. This is not because I am beholden to the Senator from Arizona or to the Republican Party. Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with my views knows that I have agonized at times during this election process, and have been strongly critical of Senator McCain and the Republican Party on numerous occasions. My concern is for the biblical and moral values that I and millions of Americans hold dear. I will gladly support politicians of any stripe who are willing to defend the sanctity of human life, support the institution of traditional marriage, protect the country from terrorism and advance the cause of religious liberty. While certainly not perfect, the 2008 Republican platform comes closest to embracing those ideals by a wide margin.

In recent weeks, I have received some measure of criticism from those who feel that my “change of heart” toward John McCain is unwarranted. I understand those views and concede that the Senator continues to embrace positions that concern me. I don’t apologize, however, for reevaluating our options in this election year. John Maynard Keynes, whose views I have disagreed with strongly, said this about reversing course: “When the facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?”1 In this instance, Keynes’ perspective is correct. Every thinking person will eventually have reason to change his or her mind as circumstances evolve, as they have done during this long political ordeal.

There are four primary—and I believe compelling—reasons why I now view the McCain
presidential candidacy favorably:

1. During the “Saddleback Forum” on Aug. 16, Sens. Obama and McCain fielded questions
from the Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren. Senator McCain gave very solid and
encouraging answers to questions about the sanctity of life and the institution of
marriage, whereas Senator Obama came down at the other end of the argument.

You will recall the following interchange during the forum:

Pastor Rick Warren: “At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?”

Senator Obama: “. . . Answering that question with specificity, you know, is, uh, is, above my pay grade.”2

With all due respect, Senator, if this question is above your pay grade, then so is the job attached to it.

2. The Republican Party’s 2008 national platform is a remarkably conservative document.3
Indeed, it is the strongest pro-life platform in the history of the party, surpassing even the pro-life advances of the Reagan years. It was approved and sanctioned by the McCain campaign.

3. Senator McCain selected an astonishingly strong pro-life, pro-family running mate in Governor Sarah Palin. Although he could have embraced a liberal Vice Presidential
nominee, such as Senator Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge, he made the bold decision to
join forces with a VP pick whose views reflect those of the party’s conservative base. I’ll discuss Governor Palin’s candidacy in greater detail in a moment.

4. The longer the campaign continues, the more concerned I have become with Barack
Obama’s liberal views. Certainly, he is an attractive and very charismatic candidate who has embarked on a campaign of historical proportions. However, the majority of his policies represent the antithesis of principles I hold dear. Senator Obama’s record is more2 liberal than that of any other Democrat in the Senate4—and that’s saying something!

For example, when he was a state senator in Illinois, he voted four times in three
years against legislation that would have saved the lives of babies that managed to
survive the abortion process.5 The U.S. Senate subsequently passed similar legislation called The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act by unanimous consent.6 (Obama was not a U.S. Senator at the time.) State Senator Obama was chairman of the committee that opposed this protection of babies, and in 2001 and 2002 was the only legislator who rose to argue against the Illinois Born Alive Act.7 That is an undeniable fact!

My good friend, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum published a scathing analysis of Senator Obama’s pro-abortion record earlier this year. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote:
In March 2001, [Senator] Obama was the sole speaker in opposition to
the bill on the floor of the Illinois Senate. He said: “We’re saying they are
persons entitled to the kinds of protections provided to a child, a 9-month child
delivered to term. I mean, it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal
protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child.”8 So according to
[Senator] Obama, “they”, (babies who survive abortions or any other preterm
newborns,) should be permitted to be killed because giving legal protection to
preterm newborns would have the effect of banning all abortions.9

To further underscore Senator Obama’s radical devotion to abortion rights, he has promised that “the first thing I’d do as president” would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act.10 The FOCA is a devastating piece of legislation that would overturn nearly every local, state, and federal anti-abortion law passed in the last 40 years.11 In fact, it’s so broadly written that legal analysts suggest the bill may prevent institutions and physicians from refusing to provide abortion services by invoking the conscience clause.

Earlier this year, while talking about sex education and abortion, the Senator said the following:
“I’ve got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”12

In other words, a pre-born baby is viewed as a form of punishment, and can therefore be murdered in the name of convenience.

It is a matter of historic significance that Barack Obama has become the first African-American to capture the nomination of a major political party for the office of President of the United States. I applaud that remarkable accomplishment. Nevertheless, I cannot support his candidacy because the positions he holds on moral, social and family issues place him at the extreme left of the political spectrum. What the Senator believes and the policies he would seek to implement are on a collision course with the biblical principles and beliefs I have fought to
defend for more than 35 years.

Turning the corner, the significance of Governor Palin to the 2008 presidential race is also worthy of further consideration. Here is a woman who is a deeply committed Christian,and who is pro-life not only with regard to her policies, but in her personal life. She and her husband welcomed their latest child, Trig, into the world even though he was diagnosed3 with Down syndrome while still in the womb.

Approximately 90 percent of babies with Down syndrome are aborted,13 but Governor Palin carried her precious child to term and now loves and cares for him despite the challenges associated with a special needs child. Similarly, her teenage daughter, Bristol, who became pregnant out of wedlock, could have bowed to cultural
pressure to seek an abortion. Instead, she and the father plan to get married and raise their child together. Governor Palin has been married for 20 years, and by all accounts, she is a portrait of Christian motherhood and womanhood.

As for Governor Palin’s qualifications to be Vice President of the United States and to assume the mantle of President, should that ever become necessary, she is much better suited for the job than the talking heads on the liberal Left would have you believe. She came out of nowhere to win the Alaskan gubernatorial race against a powerful incumbent. While in office, she bravely fought widespread corruption—including that within her own party—in the face of great opposition.

Govenor Palin’s critics suggest that her experience as mayor of a “small town” is somehow a liability, but it is an asset. In fact, her time as Mayor of Wasilla and then as Governor of Alaska gives her a greater degree of executive experience than Senator Barack Obama can claim. Her qualifications to be Vice President, I would submit, exceed those of Senator Barack Obama, who spent only 143 working days in the U.S. Senate prior to announcing his run for President.14 He authored no significant legislation during that time.

I’m sure you have heard the shrill voices from the political Left decrying Mrs. Palin for any and every reason under the sun. They gloat over the pregnancy of her daughter Bristol and claim it as “evidence” that abstinence education, which Sarah Palin strongly supports, is somehow a sham. They criticize Governor Palin for daring to hold political office and run for Vice President while having a baby at home, even though the Left has for decades supported a woman’s right to do just that. The attacks on Governor Palin and her family in recent weeks have been astonishingly unfair and mean-spirited. If she were a liberal Democrat, she would be praised and lauded for making the same decisions for which she is now being criticized. The double standard is obvious.

Governor Palin’s decision to run for Vice President while raising a baby with special needs has given pause to some conservative voices as well. Some have even questioned my enthusiasm overGovernor Palin’s candidacy in light of these circumstances. It’s important to note that although I have often said stay-at-home moms are vitally important to raising the next generation, I have never suggested that it is wrong for mothers to work outside the home. Indeed, Focus on the Family® has hired thousands of mothers over the years. I have said, however, that if a mother is going to enter the workplace, she and her husband must first find a way to meet the needs of their children. Sarah Palin appears to have done that. Todd, her husband, is actively involved in the raising of their children, and it seems obvious that Sarah will continue to be a positive force in her children’s lives even as she carries out her duties in the political arena. Regardless of your political views, may I suggest that the Palins need our prayers, not our disdain, at this critical moment in our nation’s history.

Senator Obama’s selection of fellow liberal Democrat Joseph Biden (Del.) is also extremely revealing. While the National Journal ranked Obama the most liberal Senator last year, Senator4 Biden was ranked 3rd on their list—just ahead of Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed socialist.15 While the Senator of 36 years from Delaware stands in blatant opposition to the pro-family movement, many of you will remember him from his vociferous opposition to several of our finer Supreme Court justices, namely, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Alito and Thomas.

Returning to our theme, America’s future seems to hang in the balance at this time. Our next President will have a dramatic impact on countless legislative issues. Since being relegated to minority status in 2006, Senate Republicans have skillfully used the rules of parliamentary procedure to frustrate many of the Democrats’ attempts to pass bad legislation. To this point,that effort has almost always been backed by a President who is willing to use the veto pen when necessary. The threat of President Bush’s veto on hate crimes legislation and issues regarding the sanctity of life have kept a Democrat-controlled Congress from implementing
its liberal agenda. Will our next President stand up to Congress in the same manner, or will he side with them, thereby giving the Democrats free reign to impose their liberal values on America?

It is likely, say the pundits, that both the House and the Senate in the 111th Congress will still be controlled by Democrats. If that party also takes the White House, a wave of anti-family, pro-homosexual legislation is almost guaranteed to pass in 2009. The bills put forward and advanced this year by Democrats reveal where they want to take the country. For example, they inserted hate crimes language into the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, but were forced to remove it in conference, again under the threat of veto.16 While in the Illinois Senate, Senator
Obama voted for a bill authorizing “comprehensive” sex education beginning in kindergarten.

Defenders have attempted to downplay its significance, citing the fact that it called for the content to be “age appropriate” and “medically accurate”—dubious and subjective qualifiers given the sensitive nature of the topic and innocence of the audience!17 (When criticized for supporting this legislation, the Senator was dismissive and said proudly, I quote, “It’s the right thing to do.”18)

Large portions of the agenda promoted by homosexual activists will also be enacted. The implications for a federal hate crimes law are clear. People speaking against homosexuality have already been prosecuted under hate crimes laws both in the United States and abroad. If a federal hate crimes law passes, there will be little to prevent the government from endeavoring to control and curtail religious speech, especially from the pulpit. It is entirely possible that a pastor could be charged with inducing a federal hate crime simply by preaching from one of the many biblical passages that address homosexuality.

Congressional Democrats will also seek to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act,
meaning businesses will be forced to accept and condone homosexuality—and possibly
transgenderism—in making employment decisions. Further, business owners, including
religious businesses, will not be able to make hiring and firing decisions based on their religious convictions. Earlier this year, Senator Barack Obama said, “I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepherd Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act.”195

Finally, I am deeply concerned about the tax and spend policies Senator Obama will impose on the American people if he is elected, especially in light of the current financial crisis. This is not the time to be taking money out of the economy, yet, he has proposed enormous new federal programs and entitlements that will cost multiple billions of dollars. These initiatives cannot be effected without huge increases in taxation on businesses, which will be passed on to the public
and to individual families. This will almost certainly require a return of the odious marriage penalty tax that plagued families for 32 years!

The races for the White House and the Congress are hardly the only matters worthy of concern in this election cycle. At the state and local levels, numerous policies and pieces of legislation are being put to a vote, and many of them are directly related to family and moral issues. For example, the definition of marriage is on the ballot in Arizona (Proposition 102), California (Proposition 8) and Florida (Amendment 2). Voters in Colorado will be given the opportunity to expand the definition of “personhood” to include all human beings from the moment of fertilization (Amendment 48). In South Dakota, voters will be asked to ban all abortions
except those involving cases of rape and incest, or when the pregnancy seriously jeopardizes the life or physical health of the mother (Measure 11). Michigan is considering whether to legalize embryonic stem cell research, which would result in the killing of tiny human beings.

In California, voters will also get the chance to decide whether minor girls should be required to give 48 hours’ notice to a parent or adult relative before having an abortion (Proposition 4). Arkansas voters will decide whether to prevent couples living together out of wedlock—heterosexual or homosexual—from adopting children or serving as foster parents. These are just a few of the important issues that, depending on which state you live in, will be on the ballot next month. I implore you to spend the few days remaining before the election researching the various amendments, ballot measures, and local and national candidates. Then, exercise your responsibility before God to vote on or before Nov 4. Please, let your voices be
heard. For more information, visit Focus on the Family Action’s Web site at focusaction.org

Regardless of your political views, I want to urge Christians everywhere to be in prayer about this election. There are many scriptural references wherein King David “inquired of God” when he was faced by troubling circumstances (1 Samuel 23:2,4; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19,23). It is time for Christians everywhere to turn to Him for guidance and wisdom. Find some time to be still and listen to what He wants to tell you.

The National Day of Prayer Task Force, led by my wonderful wife, Shirley, has embarked on a national campaign entitled “Pray for Election Day.” All around the country, individuals and groups are being encouraged to gather every Thursday leading up to Nov. 4 between 12 noon and 12:30 p.m. Spend time with the Lord, asking Him to guide and direct those privileged to cast a ballot. If you are able, I would also encourage you to fast and pray immediately before the election. After all, it was the Reverend Billy Graham who once said that “To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees.”20 Amen, Dr. Graham.

This election is about the future of the nation, but it will also go a long way toward determining the culture your children and grandchildren will come to know. I know you will vote with your children and your children’s children in mind. That certainly puts the election in a different light, doesn’t it?6

You know my heart on these issues, and I hope you understand that I am less concerned with politicians and political parties than I am with the timeless biblical principles that those parties have the power to either strengthen or damage. No candidate is perfect, whether in this election or any other. Please don’t make your decisions lightly. There is simply too much at stake. May God grant each of us wisdom as Nov. 4 approaches.

Sincerely,

James C. Dobson, Ph.D.
Founder and Chairman

P.S. Since I began researching and writing this letter, the economic meltdown on Wall Street and congressional reaction to it has occurred. These are, indeed, difficult times for American families and businesses. Thank you for continuing to support this ministry, even though in many cases it has required sacrificial giving. You are helping to keep us afloat during this financial crisis, and we appreciate your contribution and prayers more than I can tell you.

Please share this with your friends and family.

Endnotes
1 Louis Uchitelle, “2 Mavericks in Economics Awarded Nobel Prize,” The New York Times, Oct. 12, 2004, http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/aml6/econ001/pdfs/nobel2004.pdf (Sept. 29, 2008).
Also: Alfred L. Malabre, Lost Prophets: An Insider’s History of the Modern Economists (1994), p. 220. (Responding to criticism when changing monetary policy in the midst of the Great Depression.)
2 Saddleback Presidential Candidates Forum, CNN Transcript, Aug. 16, 2008.
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0808/16/se.02.html (Sept. 29, 2008).
3 Republican National Committee, 2008 Republican Platform, gop.com/2008Platform/
(Sept. 28, 2008).
4 “National Journal’s 2007 Vote Ratings,” National Journal Group Inc., 2008, nationaljournal.com/voteratings/sen/lib.htm (Sept. 29, 2008).
5 bornalivetruth.org/obamarecord.aspx (September 2008).
6 frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getpage.cgi?dbname=2002_record&page=S7084&position=all (Sept. 29, 2008).
7 bornalivetruth.org/obamarecord.aspx (Sept. 30, 2008).
8 “Obama Blocked Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” Illinois Federation For Right to Life Daily News online, April 3, 2008, ifrl.org/ifrl/news/080403/1/ (Sept. 29, 2008).
7
9 Rick Santorum, “The Elephant in the Room: Why conservatives should support McCain,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 21, 2008, philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20080421_The_Elephant_in_the_Room__Why_conservatives_should_support_McCain.html (Sept. 29, 2008).
10 youtube.com/watch?v=uUl99id2SvM (Sept. 29, 2008).
11 aul.org/FOCA (Sept. 29, 2008)
12 “Ballot Bowl 2008: More Campaign Happenings,” CNN Transcripts, March 29, 2008, transcripts.cnn.
com/TRANSCRIPTS/0803/29/bb.01.html (Sept. 29, 2008).
13 Patricia E. Bauer, “What’s Lost in Prenatal Testing: Why Encourage Testing for Down Syndrome,”
Jan. 14, 2007, Washington Post. washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/12/
AR2007011201954.html
14 “Days in Session Calendars,” Thomas, The Library of Congress, thomas.loc.gov/home/ds/
(Sept. 29, 2008).
15 National Journal online, 2008, Ibid.
16 Paul Kane, “Hill Negotiators Drop Hate-Crime Provision,” Washington Post, Dec. 7, 2007,
washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/06/AR2007120602453.html (Sept. 29, 2008).
17 Byron York, “On Sex-Ed Ad, McCain Is Right,” National Review Online, Sept. 16, 2008, article.
nationalreview.com/print/?q=NzI3ZDUzOTE0ZThlMTU3MTY0MDI4ZTY0MTZhY2I2MGY=
(Sept. 29, 2008).
18 “Obama on Sex Ed in Kindergarten: ‘It’s the Right Thing to Do,’” Free Republic online, Sept. 10, 2008,
freerepublic.com/focus/news/2079415/posts (Sept. 29, 2008).
19 Michael Foust, “Obama: If elected I will use the bully pulpit for gay causes,” Baptist Press, Feb. 28, 2008,
bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=27510 (Sept. 29, 2008).
20 Chuck Spinner, A Book of Prayers: To the Heavens from the Stars, (AuthorHouse: 2008), p. 225, excerpts
online at: books.google.com/books?id=cfgSFGcC_n0C&pg=PA225&lpg=PA225&dq=%22To+get+nations
+back+on+their+feet%22+and+%22get+down+on+our+knees%22+and+Graham&source=web&ots=Hjq
Hwcw-mT&sig=OYFZAIONNVb_Ff138BCi2TmH1yo&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result
(Sept. 29, 2008).
8
Title: Family Action News From Dr. James Dobson
Issue Date: October 2008
Issue Number: 10
Frequency: Published monthly
Mailing Address: Colorado Springs, CO 80995
Paid for by Focus on the Family Action, 8655 Explorer Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
This letter may be reproduced without change and in its entirety for noncomercial and nonpolitical purposes without prior permisson from Focus on the Family Action.
Copyright © 2008 Focus on the Family Action. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured. Printed in the U.S.A.

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©2008 Focus on the Family Action, Inc.
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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO 80920
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

His song

No Ocean Deep Enough by Paul Alan, Falling Awake

Have you any idea how beautiful you are…

That in a million years I could not love you more

Like the sun can only shine so bright in the auburn sky

And you will never be abandoned

I will never leave you stranded

I would die to find a way to reach you…


There is no ocean deep enough

No mountain high or steep enough

To keep me away- keep me away from you

There is no highway long enough

No river wide or strong enough

To keep me away- keep me away from you


When are you going to believe like I believe in you?

If love is a lie then there is no truth

so I'll hang it all on the wire and follow you anywhere

and you don't have to be lonely

or look very hard to find me

I'll be walking on your stormy sea


There is no ocean deep enough

no mountain high or steep enough

to keep me away-keep me away from you

There is no highway long enough

no river wide or strong enough

to keep me away- keep me away from you


I know your feeling lost sometimes

I know you're losing sleep at night

and faith is hard to find

and prayers are crashing to the floor

and you wonder what you're praying for…

Friday, October 10, 2008

In loving memory

Grace & I had a moment this week - a definite must record moment. Wednesday was an exhausting day that began with a 2:30 AM study session for the neuro exam. So Wednesday really began Tuesday. Full day of work with a surprise eval that morning - yes, I was going to study that 2.5 hours, but sure - I'll work Thank God for the opportunity to work. I survived my 1st lab with the human brain. I did fairly well on the exam that followed- after the bonus questions, I squeaked an A. Whew - I headed over to pick Gracie up at the University play place - as we so fondly refer to it. Except she wasn't quite ready to go.
Sitting at the writing center with another youngster, Grace was preparing a note to me. She loves to write. She loves notes. Count yourself special if you've received one of these notes carefully composed by the Gracie girl. I realized there was no getting out of there until she finished. Taking a seat on the low wooden chair, I assisted with colored pencils, glue & feathers - of course, you can't just write a note - it must be embellished with all sorts of pretties (the beginnings of scrapbooking). Finally, she read it to me with a glorious voice & fine presentation. I will never forget this moment.
I love you. I love you. I looooooooove you. And when you get
sick, I will always love you & take care of you. And when you get mad,
I will still love you. I love for always. ~Grace
On the way home, we sang songs & throughout the rest of the week, we've been singing. Yesterday, we talked about our favorite songs. Grace sang her favorite song & it was about loving me. Then it was my turn to share my favorite. I sang Jesus Loves Me, recounting how I often comforted her as a baby with this song.
Without thought about the specific date, I told Grace how my mom sang that song with me when I was little. Gracie's always curious about what happened when I was a baby or a little girl. Then we talked about when Grandma was sick & we sang over her, wrapping her up tight in the arms of our song. It made her feel better. Our song helped her rest.
Here I am again a day later remembering how love sings...remembering He embraces us with song. He sings over us. Isn't that a lovely thought? He sings over us.

Zephaniah 3:17
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs

Nellie R. O'Neal
April 12, 1939 - October 10, 2005

Jesus Loves Me
Print by Kathryn Andrews Finch
Repost from June 2006:
This has been a big week for us - turning TWO is a BIG deal! Gracie never ceases to amaze me but this week I shed some tears. For weeks, Gracie's belted out "Deep & Wide" - there's a fountain flowing deep & wide; a song she learned in CLC KidsTown about the never ending fountain of God's love toward His children. This week as I was putting Gracie's shoes on & she started singing another familiar tune~



Jesus loves me this I know

for the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong.

They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.


Though she missed a few of the words, it was by far the sweetest melody. This child's song is powerful when you really think about those words. The declaration that Jesus, God almighty, creator of heaven and earth, loves ME. And I KNOW it! We, as His children, belong to Him; treasured and cherished of our Heavenly Father. Though we are weak, He is indeed strong; strong enough for whatever makes me afraid. To quote an old song, "His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He'll carry us when we can't carry on. Raised in His power the weak become strong. His strength is perfect. His strength is perfect."


Jesus loves me - it's been a favorite for a long time, holding special meaning for a number of reasons. One of mom's favorite stories to tell from when Tracy & I were kids was the one about Halloween when we were 2 & 3 years old. She took us trick or treating and our "trick" was singing Jesus Loves Me. One lady was so moved, she recorded the song to send to her son in Vietnam. I wonder if two giggly girls singing this Sunday School favorite brought a smile and perhaps reassurance that he was being held by the everlasting love of Jesus. I believe it did.

Jesus Loves Me comforts the soul. My mom was sick, sick, sick in the hospital - I had no idea it would be the last day she lived. While visiting her, Grace persisted in getting a book off mom's nightstand. Thinking it was a Bible, I told her "not for Grace" a dozen times. Finally, I decided we could look at the "book" together. Turned out it was a hymnal. Then I remembered my sister telling me that she & my cousin swiped one from the hospital chapel so they could sing for mom. Mom was a singer when she was younger - lovely, lovely voice. I treasure the memory of her singing to me, with me when I was little and then, mom singing to and with Grace. The words were sometimes jumbled, but charming still.

Mom affirmed she would enjoy it if we sang a bit. I went through the songbook, finding old favorites I hadn't sang in years...Standing on the Promises, What a Friend We Have In Jesus, Amazing Grace and finally, Jesus Loves Me - with all the verses. Mom enjoyed the others, moving her lips to sing as she was able, but when I began to sing Jesus Loves Me, she began to breathe deeply, relax & "rest" in the song. I remember all day mom looked very deeply at Grace & me, like she was drinking us in. I think mom knew that it was the end. This song gave her peace to rest eternally in the arms & love of Jesus.

So sing on Gracie! Sing it 'til that message is embedded in your little soul, because He does indeed love you! Sing it for others so they will know they are loved as well.

PS - the print above by Kathryn Andrews Finch hangs in Gracie's room as a reminder of this precious love. AND special thanks to Christian Life Center Kids Town Children's Program http://clctoday.org/children.htm for singing with my little Grace. You'll never know how far your efforts go!