Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all! I hope that everybody is doing well this holiday.

For some of this, this year has been a difficult one. I know people who are in the middle of divorce, trying to save their marriage from divorce, have lost loved ones this year, and have lost their jobs in the past couple of weeks (we happen to be one of the latter). But no matter who you are, and especially if you have the resources to read this message, we can all be thankful for this day.

I'm very lucky to have a great family. While some of my extended family might bicker, and perhaps this might even keep some of them away from family gatherings this year, I have great parents that are generous with gifts. My kids will wake up to some nice surprises tomorrow, even though I only spent $5 on gifts for the entire family this year.

But I really did get a lot for that $5. I love to talk about my sweet deals and bargains, so this is what I got. For $5, I managed to get...

A bath toy for my ds (a boat that floats around in the water)
A "My Mommy's Tote" book/toy for ds
A "Phonics 4 Babies" DVD for ds
A Cootie game for dd
A dot-to-dot book with CD-ROM for dd
2 AMC Movie passes for dh

I bought the AMC Movie Passes with Coke Rewards Points, bought the bath toy, dot-to-dots, and Cootie game with Toys R Us bucks from the McDonald's Monopoly game (and the $5 that I spent), and I won the My Mommy's Tote and Phonics 4 Babies DVD. Not too bad!

There will be kids that don't have generous grandparents, that don't have parents that can magically turn $5 into $68 worth of gifts, that won't have very much this year. Some people might wake up without much food to eat. While that is a shame, they also have something to be thankful for this Christmas season.

No matter what your circumstance, there is one thing that all people can remember and be thankful for. The reason that we have Christmas in the first place. The little baby that was born... not really on December 25th, but we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ on this day. His birth was special not only because he was God, but because of what he did for us.

It would be a shame for someone to celebrate Christmas without knowing why the baby Jesus came to this Earth. He came because none of us are perfect. We've all lied. Even my toddler knows how to lie. We've all stolen, taken things that don't belong to us. We've all had a burning, passionate anger towards someone... God sees that sort of hatred towards another person as murder... we're all murderers at heart. So many of us have taken the Lord's name in vain, and that is offensive to God. We've all fallen short of God's high standards... every one of those shortcomings I listed above, those bad things, is sin. A person who has even one sin on their record can not go to Heaven, but must go to a place of eternal torment called hell.

But the good news of Christmas day, is that 2007 or so years ago, Jesus came to this Earth to give us hope. He came to live just like we did, in order to die a horrific death so that our sins could be forgiven, and we would have the hope of one day entering Heaven... if we only ask for forgiveness and repent (or turn away from) our sins.

Everyone, no matter how good or bad this holiday season has been, can have this hope. That is one thing we can all be thankful for on this very special day of the year.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fleeing For Your Rights: Homeschooling In America

I know what the Bible says: one day, the whole world will be taken over by the one-world government, ruled by the iron hand of the Antichrist. It will be a very scary time for Christians, who will find themselves without their heads if they get caught.

I've also seen people in other countries that have it bad. Like in countries where being a Christian is likely to get you killed. Where it's illegal to own a Bible. I've even seen the story in Germany where a lady was getting her kids taken away because the government decided to drag out an old law from the days of Hitler making homeschooling illegal.

But what I've seen today, in America, really surprised me. Not because it happened, but because it has happened in America.

A lady has actually had to flee her home in order to prevent her kids from going to public school. Not due to abuse or neglect, but because an over-zealous judge decided that public school is what was best for her children.

It all started earlier this year, when the school district lost some paperwork that Denise Mafi sent in to homeschool her children. Evidently, the school district lost the paperwork, and her children were found to be truant. She has been homeschooling for nine years.

The judge in her case had the audacity to state that "homeschooling fails 100% of the time." I guess that depends on what your idea of success is, considering that Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Albert Einstein all had homeschooling backgrounds. The real motive behind his idea of a failure rate is quite transparent, since it has been proven that homeschooled children, on average, do better academically than their public school peers: the judge wants the children to receive the "social benefits" that come along with a public-school education... gems like indoctrination, groupthing, growing up to believe that your parents are idiots and God is either not real or his name is Allah... that sort of thing. The failure rate that this judge is referring to is a failure to produce the sheeple that the public school system is designed to create.

For Denise Mafi's judge, nothing but a full-fledged public school education is good enough. Not a private school. Not public school at home (she already was doing that)... but having her children taken by force from home every day and sent to a regular old public school. Anybody else in this country would at least have the choice of sending their children to private school.

This story is far from over... she has recently fled her home in order to escape the public school system. I'm sure that we have not heard the last of this case, so please keep her in your prayers.

Me and my husband have talked about what we would do when/if the government ever comes to try to take away our rights. I don't blame her for fleeing. We would go too. We already have discussed where we will go (which I will not disclose here). It is a sad day when this happens in America. Having to flee your home to protect your family is something that you associate with the Jews in Nazi Germany, not homeschoolers in the "land of the free."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jury Duty For Life?

We recently took a last minute trip to go visit my family in Washington. My mom has recently been called to jury duty, and as a result, she has to call in every evening to see if she has to go in to serve the next day.

I was laughing with her about the time that the state of Washington called me to jury duty when I was living in Italy... at the time I hadn't lived, voted, or held a driver's license in the state for over 10 years.

She mentioned that they once again called me to jury duty... at this point I haven't lived, voted, or held a driver's license in this state for 15 years.

Whenever they call me to jury duty, she has to call the jury duty people and tell them that I haven't lived in this state in over a decade, that I live in Arizona now, and can not serve on a jury here.

Which is fine... except what happens when she's not around any more to call up the jury duty guys to tell them I'm not around?

It seems as if the powers that be in Washington State never cull their jury duty rolls, and if you lived in this state once upon a time, they can call you up for jury duty indefinitely, even if you haven't lived in this state for decades.

Skipping out on jury duty is a serious offense... or so I've been led to believe. Even though I don't live here, and don't intend to live here again, I still do visit every once in a while. My brother lives here. My niece lives here. Of course, my parents live here as well. Right now, my mom takes care of my jury duty excuses, but it's not likely that she'll be around 50 years from now to handle them for me. I can just imagine this scenario... 40 years from now, I'm visiting my brother and family in Washington State. I'm driving a car and get pulled over for speeding...

Police officer: Let me see your license

Me: here you go (hand him my license)

(Police officer goes back to check his database. Comes back.)

Police officer: Did you know that there is a warrant out for your arrest? It seems that you skipped out on jury duty 5 years ago.

Me: But I haven't even lived in this state in 55 years!

Police officer: That's not my concern. I'm going to have to take you in.

Perhaps that is a ridiculous scenario... is it? I haven't lived in this state in over 15 years and I'm still getting jury duty notices, should I have any expectation that it will ever end? Since I left this country, I have held driver's licenses and voted in two different states, and I have lived in 5 states and 2 different countries. Does this state expect you to be a juror for life if you live here for any amount of time?

My mom takes care of my jury duty summons right now, but I have to wonder about all the other people who have lived in this state once upon a time, that don't have any relatives left that can take care of any jury duty notices. There have to be thousands of people that once lived and voted here, that have moved away and don't have relatives at their former address to care for things. What happens to them when they get jury summons and don't show up? They may return for a vacation or to visit friends... what happens when one of them gets caught for skipping a jury summons that they have no knowledge of because they lived out of state at the time?

The jury people told my mom that I have to write to them personally to get taken off the jury rolls. Who to write to, I don't know... and how was I supposed to know anyway that I was supposed to write to someone to get taken off the jury rolls? It's not like they tell you these things when you register to vote or get a driver's license... is there any fine print that says "should you ever decide to move, please write to xxxxx to be removed from the jury rolls, or we may call you up to serve for all eternity." I never saw anything like that.

I bet that they are still calling up dead people to serve on juries here. My grandma died in 1990... perhaps she is still getting jury summons. That was only 17 years ago... probably.

Makes me wonder if they are sending jury summons to me in my old addresses in California. I was registered to vote in two different counties there. I could be getting called up for trials in Los Angeles County and San Diego County all the time and not even know about it. I last lived there about 8 years ago, so anything is possible.

So anyway... my thought for the day is... if you are someone in charge of calling up people for a jury... if they haven't lived in the state in say... 5 years or so... and are living and voting somewhere else... perhaps you should stop trying to get them to serve on juries? And maybe double check to see if the people that died 5 years or more are taken off as well. If you are in Washington state, there is a death index that is updated regularly that can help you take the dead people off your rolls. And please stop calling me to jury duty when I haven't lived in your state in 15 years! Not unless you're willing to spring for plane tickets.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Religion on the College Campus

I think that Bill O'Reilly has it right when he says that we are in the midst of a culture war. In these days where everybody's lives are so compartmentalized, and it is so easy for us to spend time only with people that are a lot like us, it's hard to tell who is winning. Some companies try to take polls, but those are hard to gauge for accuracy sometimes... statistics can often say crazy things. So most of what you end up with is anecdotal evidence.

I've heard anecdotal evidence about professors who believe in creationism rather than evolution to lose their jobs, grants, fellowships, etc. The same goes for scientists. But rarely does a difference of religion affect my life, other than perhaps a lost friendship or somebody thinking I'm a little silly for my beliefs.

It's hard to tell whether someone's religious views can affect their grades sometimes. I once wrote a paper about pet microchip implants, and its relationship to the prophesied mark of the beast, back in the 90s for a college class (back before most people had heard about pet microchipping) and I didn't get a very good grade on it... but with such a subjective subject as English, it is hard to tell whether I was marked down due to the content of the paper, or whether it was just a lousy paper. On rare occasions, it is obvious that someone's grades are affected by their religion.

Recently, my husband got to experience this. He is currently a college student, and is taking two religion classes. The professor obviously does not share his religious views. My husband studies hard in the classes, and for the most part has done well. However, there is one question on his final exam that he knows will be marked wrong due to his religious beliefs:

True or False: Allah and the God of the Bible are different gods.

Or something like that.

My husband knows the answer that the professor wanted. The professor believes that Allah and Jehovah are the same. However, the answer to this question is strictly a matter of faith. Neither me or my husband believe that Allah is the same God in the Bible... their characters are completely different. The Koran says that Allah claims to have no son... Jesus is the Son of the Biblical God.

My husband answered that Allah and the God of the Bible are different, knowing that the professor would mark it wrong. In fact, he wrote next to the answer "go ahead and mark it wrong." If he were to say what the professor wanted, he would have gotten the question correct, but he would at the same time be denying God himself, equating him with something that he was not.

So my dear husband wasn't thrown to the lions or anything, and that one question probably won't affect his final grade or anything, but it was a small faith litmus test on a college campus. I'm sure that this happens all the time, I had just not seen it so obviously in my own life before.