Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bloom Colorado Women!

I recently had a conversation with someone who told me he has not voted since the 1980’s because there really is no point.   I once heard somewhere that in reality there is no such thing as not voting – you either vote by voting or you vote by staying home.  When you vote by staying home you double the value of someone else’s vote.  That really stuck with me.

Local issues directly affect us more than presidential elections so why do we pay more attention to them?  Ballot measures in every election are important.  These measures can include amendments to your state constitution, bonds, levies and mayoral, school board and city council elections as well as many other issues.
Local elections determine the quality of life in our communities, schools and the safety of our neighborhoods.  Local elections are where the most relevant policy decisions of any government are made.  It is quite ironic that there is lower voter turnout in local elections when those are the elections where voters have the greatest say in who represents them.

I’ll be honest.  I did not realize how important local politics are.  As with state and federal governments, your tax dollars are being used and you have the right to know what they are being used for.  Of course, I knew that but I hadn’t really considered that I might have more of an impact on how those funds are appropriated within my community.

Today I talked with several people in the hopes that I could get a better handle on how to figure this whole local side to politics out without having to go to city council meetings.  Who has time for that? Interestingly, I found that most people are only really zeroed in on a limited number of issues and often times only one.  That doesn’t paint a complete picture for me.

One of the gals I spoke with brought up my last article that called for us to start talking politics.  As we explored that notion further she had an idea of forming casual groups to get together once a month to talk about the issues in a more social and relaxed setting where there’s no expectation of foreknowledge of the who’s who in Colorado politics or even the current issues at hand to learn while connecting with other women who are interested in seeking the truth so they can make up their own minds… a sort of Kitchen Table Talk.

Historically, we have seen that women can accomplish great things.  Back in our homeschooling days we hosted a Great American Women Masquerade where the girls in our homeschool support group came dressed up as their favorite Great American Woman and then presented why they picked the woman that they did.  I spoke about Laura Ingalls Wilder and how she didn’t start writing until she was 60 years old. She simply wrote about the life she had already lived.  I then gave each of the girls a flower explaining that we all bloom at different times because each of the women that had been chosen were of varying ages.

Is it possible that there is an untapped reservoir of wisdom and strength within the women of Colorado?  What if we came together with all our various experience and points of view to discuss this community that we share?  Maybe, just maybe… it is time for Colorado women to bloom! 

Published in Common Sense News October 2013 

Break the Rules! Talk Politics!

How many of us have been taught to never talk about religion or politics?  Well, unless you know the people you are talking to are of the same opinion as you are.  For a people pleaser and someone who doesn’t like to rock the boat, this can be a real problem.

Gun control, abortion and gay marriage are definitely topics that can cause some pretty explosive reactions.  Then there is the war in Afghanistan, healthcare, the economy, taxes and immigration.  What about education, government spending, social security, national security and the environment?  There is no doubt that the issues facing this nation are many.

What are the chances you will find candidates that agree with you on every one of these issues?  Slim and none I’m guessing.  Is it any wonder that many of us just don’t want to deal with thinking about these things?
Voting is a privilege we have in this country, true?  Doesn’t privilege go hand in hand with responsibility?  The percentage of people that vote is pretty low and there is always a great push to get citizens registered and at the polls.  This is important but it is also important that those voting know what they are voting for and why.
We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity with our system of government.  Let’s not squander it through casting uniformed votes.  We are free to have different opinions and to vote the way we see fit.  We need to protect that right even for those that don’t hold the same views.

For me, I’ve had to spend some time really thinking about what is important to me and why.  I’ve had to look at the different issues separately.  The Pollyanna in me would like to vote only according to my world view and values.  The other side of me sees this as a game on the grandest scale.  You’ve got to understand the rules, the players and the different strategies being played.  It is a real dilemma.
When your life is already too busy the thought of spending time figuring out something as complicated as local, state and national politics is overwhelming, especially local politics.  Short of going to city council meetings it is virtually impossible to get information on what is going on.  Also, during elections many of those running are first time candidates with no record. 

We are bombarded with ads during election seasons.  These sound bites make it into our minds whether we want them to or not.  Where can we get accurate information?  There is network news, cable news, Talk radio, the internet, and let’s not forget Saturday Night Live and the late night shows.  I recall seeing a disturbing statistic several years ago that stated an alarming number of people made their voting decisions based off of late night monologues and comedy skits.

How do we sift through all of the information that is out there?  It stands to reason that people have grown apathetic.  But, the stakes are just too high! We’ve got children and future grandchildren that are going to have to sift through the ashes of what is left of our country if we don’t stand up and see that we as individuals are part of a whole and that our one vote means something.  We have got to stop seeing it as a privilege and start seeing it as an obligation, a responsibility to be taken very seriously. 

The first step is figuring out what is important to you and why.  Then, start breaking some rules.  Start asking some questions and talk politics!

Published in Common Sense News September 2013

Just a Mom

I don’t know about you but I find politics to be, well… boring.  Just saying.

Who am I?  My favorite answer to that question is that I am “just a mom.”  In November my husband and I will have been married 25 years and we have three children.  When our middle child was getting ready to go to college she was lamenting about the fact that she didn’t know what she wanted to major in and told me she didn’t want to be “just a mom” like me.  Of course, that statement felt like a sucker punch to the belly and caused me to wonder if we made the right choices while raising our family… including our 9 year stint homeschooling.  Our trial and error parenting style would probably most accurately be summed up by handing out I SURVIVED buttons to all involved!

Back to politics…  I have to admit that I am guilty of voter apathy and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.  I’m not going to lie.  For me, keeping up with the who’s who and issues is not fun.  It’s a lot of work!  I go to the trouble every four years during the presidential elections but...  the rest of the time, no.  If you were to liken me to someone running a race I would not be the person that trained for it… I’d be the person on the side of the road requiring the attention of paramedics. As with any discipline there needs to be consistency and I am consistently inconsistent.  When I hear someone say their vote doesn’t matter so they don’t bother I always say that isn’t true.  But, do my actions back that up?

How many times has a law been passed or a candidate been voted into office and you asked yourself how that could have possibly happened?  It’s easy for things to slide through when people are not paying attention.  On a local level I am often unaware.  I know it is important to cast your vote wisely so a lot of times I have just skipped voting for those issues and candidates I didn’t feel I had enough knowledge of rather than risk making a mistake.  I’ve also asked my husband who he thought I should vote for and why.  The Lazy Lady way to feel like I’m doing my civic duty and get my I Voted flag sticker to proudly display on my chest the day I visit the polls.

I am concerned about the direction our country is headed in.  I don’t want my children and future grandchildren to lose the freedoms that we’ve known.  It seems like people are lying down and unwilling to fight for what is right in a reluctant acceptance of what they see as the inevitable.  But, what can I do?  I’m “just a mom.”

When I look in the mirror I don’t want to see the appearance of someone who is a good citizen.  I want to see someone who truly lives out her convictions.  My vote matters and I need to value that vote.  Those big elections every four years are a reflection of the many battles fought and won across our nation during the years in between.  I’m waking up and I smell coffee!

Oh, and that daughter I was telling you about?  She’s married now and working on her Masters of Education… and talking about the day when she can become a mom.  I hope when she holds her baby for the first time she changes her mind and decides to be “just a mom” like me.

Published in Common Sense News August 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Resurrection of a Blog

It's been a long time.

I have thought about deleting this blog.  I haven't written on it regularly in years.  Yet, each time I held the mouse over the button I just couldn't do it...

Blogging was a way to pass the time during a hard time in my life.  I had lost my voice and was without hope that it would ever return.  Five years does not seem so long now.  At the time it felt like an eternity.  The first three years were a struggle with times of improvement.  The last two were the darkest.  Through writing I found a voice.  Then, when I regained my ability to speak, I slowly stopped writing.

This blog developed into something I hadn't quite envisioned when I started.  Communicating with people from different backgrounds and view points inspired me to learn more and helped to solidify what I believed and why. Unfortunately, where politics are concerned, everything is subject to change and you really have to be paying attention to keep up.  I stopped paying attention.

I am now writing for a new monthly newspaper here in Colorado, Common Sense News.  The fourth edition is being printed and will hit the stands this week containing the third article I have written for them.  This time we've added a link to this blog.  I wanted to have a place where people have access to information that I gather and to, hopefully, revive the spirit of dialog between people that don't necessarily share the same views but are seeking to understand and to be understood.

I intended to go through and clean things up before the paper went out.  This blog is not what anyone would call professional.  But, you know what?  I've decided to leave it as is.

Things have changed.  Our two daughters are now married and our son is a junior in college.

My goal is to post here at least once a week.

Common Sense News is a free publication that can be picked up in many locations across Colorado.  You can also read the paper online.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sticking My Toe Back in the Water...

I'll be honest... I have not been following the political scene the last two years. The way things are constantly changing is frustrating to me. However, this is an election year and I feel the need to vote responsibly, which means paying attention.


My husband and I attended our precinct caucus here in Colorado last night which was a first for both of us. We are now alternate delegates to the county convention in March and are looking forward to learning this process first hand.


I've got some learning and re-learning to do...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer

Today is the day (the first Thursday in May) when we lift our country and its leaders in prayer as a nation.

History of the National Day of Prayer

Controversy surrounding the National Day of Prayer

Official National Day of Prayer website

- – - – - – -

Throughout our history, whether in times of great joy and thanksgiving, or in times of great challenge and uncertainty, Americans have turned to prayer. In prayer, we have expressed gratitude and humility, sought guidance and forgiveness, and received inspiration and assistance, both in good times and in bad.

On this day, let us give thanks for the many blessings God has bestowed upon our Nation. Let us rejoice for the blessing of freedom both to believe and to live our beliefs, and for the many other freedoms and opportunities that bring us together as one Nation. Let us ask for wisdom, compassion, and discernment of justice as we address the great challenges of our time.

We are blessed to live in a Nation that counts freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion among its most fundamental principles, thereby ensuring that all people of goodwill may hold and practice their beliefs according to the dictates of their consciences. Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the Nation.

Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those suffering from natural disasters in Haiti, Chile, and elsewhere, and the people from those countries and from around the world who have worked tirelessly and selflessly to render aid. Let us pray for the families of the West Virginia miners, and the people of Poland who so recently and unexpectedly lost many of their beloved leaders. Let us pray for the safety and success of those who have left home to serve in our Armed Forces, putting their lives at risk in order to make the world a safer place. As we remember them, let us not forget their families and the substantial sacrifices that they make every day. Let us remember the unsung heroes who struggle to build their communities, raise their families, and help their neighbors, for they are the wellspring of our greatness. Finally, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those people everywhere who join us in the aspiration for a world that is just, peaceful, free, and respectful of the dignity of every human being.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2010, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us.

Today IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

# # #

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Colorado Springs Tea Party Rally...

This was a pretty straight forward political rally. There was a group that moved along the outer edges shouting, "We love Obama!" at one point to which the crowd responded with, "U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A." That was it as far as any sort of drama and it was very short lived. The majority of the speakers spoke about the next election and how we can turn things in this country around. It was nothing like what you hear about in relation to Tea Party events.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Looking for Answers to the Homeless Question...

Our city just passed a camping ban a couple weeks ago. It was in response to what is being called, "Tent City." Many homeless have set up camp along a creek bed and as that population grows some have felt that a ban on camping is the answer. Now, those people will be fined and forced to move. I don't even see where this ban is enforceable. If these people had money they wouldn't be down there. You can't get blood from a turnip, ya know? So... they don't pay the fine and are carted off to jail? The jails don't have room! The shelters don't have room!


The fact is that once you cross a certain line in our society it is almost impossible to cross back over.

This past weekend I took a homeless gal to look at an apartment. She had walked several miles to a parking lot near a park where a group I'm involved with serves breakfast to the homeless on Saturdays. Bus service on Saturdays and Sundays was part of our city's budget cuts this year and it would have taken her an hour and a half to walk to the apartment. It was a studio the size of my son's bedroom that was going for $400 a month. The building was clean and I could see the gal was excited about it. Then she was informed that they do not rent to anyone with any prior evictions. She has two.

Each of the people I've met has a different story. There is a homeless subculture... a community. Many of them know and look out for each other. In many ways they are like a family. Yes, there are bad homeless people. There are also homeless people that aren't.

What gives life value? Do the homeless still have value? Do they matter? Do we look at them and see nothing but waste... or do we look beyond that and see a human being that is hurting? When is a person beyond redemption and who of us is worthy of making that judgment call?

When I was 9 years old my aunt sat us down and told us the story of Stone Soup. It made a real impression on me. I don't recall being told a story in that way prior to that day. There was no book and no pictures to look at. She captivated me as she wove through the story and my imagination brought forth pictures in my mind.

The story was about a village of people that were starving. A man went to the center of the village, built a fire, filled a big pot full of water and set about making soup. He threw in some stones. The villagers peered out of their windows trying to figure out what he was up to. Eventually some of them came out and asked. He told them he was making a delicious stone soup. He remained intent as he stirred and the villagers watched. He breathed in the aroma and spoke often of how good the soup was going to be. Then he said to himself that he wished he had some onions for the soup. One of the villagers said he had some onions if he was willing to share the soup with him. The man was.

My aunt continued to tell the story using different voices for each of the villagers that had something else to add to the pot. In the end the entire village was fed and it started with a man that had nothing. I've never forgotten that story.

I know some would look at that story and say it is a good example of how if everybody gives a little bit all of the people can be taken care of and then see taxes and government as a way to accomplish that. I don't.

The government does have its place, as do taxes. However, the more taxes we pay and the bigger government gets... the more we lose our freedom.

In the story, it was the villagers' choice to contribute to the pot. Was it possible that there were villagers that were hoarding vegetables in their cellars? Yes.

I don't have any answers. I am looking for them. I'm trying to get a handle on what services are available, both governmental and privately funded. I'm looking to truly understand the culture and the truth about homelessness.

The man who started the ministry I am now involved in felt led to move into a tent amongst the homeless. I, like one of the villagers from the story, have come out to see what he is doing.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Homeless

What are your perceptions of the homeless?

While we were living in Mississippi I got involved with a gal at our church that had written a bible curriculum for children at risk. She was a nurse practitioner and had worked with the homeless in Hawaii. She was able to set up a time for us to teach what we called Bible Club to children in a transitional home for homeless mothers and their children. She and her husband were just staring their family so she was not always able to be involved. Eventually, I moved from the transitional home to the soup kitchen next door that had an after school and summer program for kids in the neighborhood that might otherwise be left alone. I also drove for a Meals on Wheels program through that soup kitchen on Mondays.

I learned a lot.

When we moved to Colorado Springs in 2002 I got involved with another soup kitchen. We were homeschooling our children so they went with me on Thursdays and we helped prep food, cook, serve and clean. We also helped organize donations. This ministry was run differently than the one in Mississippi and I couldn't help but compare. I was disturbed by the fact that although this, like in Mississippi, was a faith based ministry there was no prayer before the meal and in the separate room they had for families there was a plaque on the wall stating that one of their rights was to receive meals without proselytizing. I respected the rules of the ministry but it didn't set well with me. The people were also different. There were those that were grateful and then there were those that were demanding and rude. There were also people that showed up that were obviously not homeless. Once a bunch of people rode up on their motorcycles all decked out in their leather... and proceeded to go through the line. I was floored. A lady that had to weigh 400 lbs told me that her husband left her three years before. She lived in a house not far from there and she told me that she had not had to buy groceries in all that time. Also, after the meal we packed up the leftovers and handed them out to whoever wanted them. The waste was incredible.

We stopped going when I started to fear for the safety of my oldest daughter as she was exhibiting lack of judgment in dealing with some of the men there. That was five, maybe closer to six, years ago. I have not volunteered in that way since... until last weekend.

As I step back into this world I've been thinking a lot about what the answers are. People are homeless for different reasons... Drugs, alcohol, bad choices, events beyond their control, and mental illness with it often being a combination of some or all of those things. There are also children who are there through no fault of their own. It is a lot to take in and can be overwhelming. Most of those that actually live on the streets are men. There are many more programs available for women and children.

Politically the homeless are often used as a pawn. The fact is homelessness is a complicated issue. What do you think about it?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beneath the Rubble

The L.A. Times has published an inspirational article about a Compassion International employee and a hotel worker that were buried under rubble for 65 hours in Haiti.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

World Vision Help for Haiti

Even though we no longer homeschool I still receive homeschool related e-mails.

For Immediate Release1/14/10

Homeschoolers around the world band together to support the Haitian community during their time of crisis.Through World Vision and, homeschool families can now come together to support Haitian earthquake victims and their families. Small donations of $5 and $10 are being accepted at will be matching donations. A counter is being kept on the homepage that will keep track of the donation amount as it grows.

"Homeschoolers are generous, giving people and CurrClick is excited about being able to match that generosity with a donation to World Vision. World Vision is a great organization and we look forward to donating a significant amount to their efforts in Haiti," said Staley Krause of CurrClick.

Leah Nieman, also from CurrClick asks that homeschoolers help spread the word about this opportunity by posting the following text on Twitter and Facebook: Homechoolers Help Haiti! Join with other homeschoolers & donate now: "Social media is on of the best and fastest ways to spread the word," says Nieman.All donations will go directly toward distributing life-saving relief supplies – including food, clean water, blankets, and tents -- to children and families devastated by the earthquake and aftershocks in Haiti.

To make a donation, visit:
Leah NiemanSales and Marketing

Friday, January 8, 2010

Churches Fire Bombed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald out of Australia:

Firebomb attacks on Malaysian churches
January 9, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Four Malaysian churches have been firebombed, with one left badly damaged, in an escalating dispute over the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.

As Muslim groups held protests yesterday, police increased security around churches after one in Kuala Lumpur was set ablaze in a midnight attack that left its ground floor gutted. Three other churches were attacked hours later, with one sustaining minor damage, while the others were not damaged. No arrests have been made.

The Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, appealed for calm amid the conflict over the use of Allah as a translation for God by Christians, and assured minorities in Malay-dominated Malaysia that ''they are safe''.

''I take the events that happened last night very seriously,'' he told a press conference. ''We want to assure the public that this was not a co-ordinated and well-planned action.

''Let's hope for the best in a few hours' time,'' he said before the protests that took place at two main mosques in the capital after yesterday's prayers.

Police said officers had been deployed to protect churches around the country and to monitor the protests, following the attacks and also phone threats against churches.

In Kuala Lumpur, young worshippers carried banners and vowed to defend Islam.
''We will not allow the word Allah to be inscribed in your churches,'' a speaker shouted into a loudspeaker at the Kampung Bahru mosque. About 50 people carried posters reading ''Heresy arises from words wrongly used'' and ''Allah is only for us''.

The High Court this month ruled in favour of a Catholic newspaper which used Allah as a translation for God. The Government has said the word should be used only by Muslims. The ruling was suspended on Wednesday pending an appeal.

''Islam is above all. Every citizen must respect that,'' said Ahmad Johari, who attended prayers at the National Mosque. ''I hope the court will understand the feeling of the majority Muslims of Malaysia. We can fight to the death over this issue.''

The rallies were held inside the mosque compounds after police banned protests on the streets. Participants dispersed peacefully afterwards.

Pribumi Perkasa, one of the groups organising the demonstrations, condemned the fire-bombings but warned that Malays were deeply concerned.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press

You may be wondering why I'm reprinting that here. My father-in-law lives in Kuala Lumpur. We received an e-mail from him this morning:

We are having some big problems out here. They burned down four churches last night and are now going after cars with anything that looks Christian. This is a result of a court case where the judge ruled that it was OK to use Allah in print but the local Muslims did not agree and now are ripping the town apart.

Will give you update later when more is known.

If necessary I will evacuate to Penang or Singapore.


My father-in-law is not a Christian. He's been living in KL for around 12 years. He is also not an alarmist in any shape or form so the fact that he's mentioned evacuating has me concerned. I would appreciate any prayers on his behalf.

In addition to that, the reason for this situation itself is alarming.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The recent announcements by several Democrats (Dodd, Dorgan and Ritter) that they will be retiring or not seeking re-election are... interesting. It certainly puts the pressure on Obama to get those things he wants to passed as soon as possible.

At the same time, there is something going on here in the city of Colorado Springs. There is a lot of talk about the city selling the Memorial Health System. Memorial consists of three hospitals on two campuses and does not receive taxpayer money. It is a self-supporting city enterprise that pays operating expenses through revenue and cash reserves. People have said that it is about to become a liability for the city, so it's a good time to get rid of it... they did lose money through a devaluation of their investment portfolio to the tune of $28 million last year. However, on the other side of things they have remained profitable.

I just can't help but wonder... and that may be from my lack of knowledge on how all this works... but, could this push be in response to the health care stuff going on in Washington?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I've Been Thinking...

Thinking about what I want to do with this blog. It has been ignored for months. I even thought about deleting it because I seemed to have lost interest. In the end, I decided to keep it and to start posting again.

I don't know what to do about the current political scene. There is much I don't understand. In many ways I feel helpless. One of the things that has bothered me for a long time has been the perceptions that people have of one another... in the political arena as well as just in every day life. We tend to box everyone into a category... even ourselves.

I am a Christian. I am politically conservative. I believe in limited government and a free market system. I am a registered Republican.

I am not surrounded only by those that believe the same as I do. I have the ability to disagree with people while still appreciating their right to believe as they choose. The truth is I am most interested in people and what makes them tick.

The characterization of Republicans being rich and not caring about the poor really bothers me. Where does that come from?

For the time being, I am going to take this blog in a bit of a different direction. I want to understand the people behind the labels. I want to take a look at different relief agencies, learn their histories, see the impact they've had, and look at who is supporting those agencies. I'd like to look at current government programs here in the United States as well as relief agencies supported by donations... secular and religious. I also want to take a look at the same in terms of our involvement in other countries.

I have talked to some people about interviewing them for this purpose. The more I've thought about this project, the more I've realized it could become an overwhelming task. I am just an Uneducated Housewife and I've got responsibilities that come with that. I haven't got this all figured out but I am just going to start and while it may not be well planned, I hope that it will be interesting.

I am going to begin with Compassion International. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Personal Cost of Health Care

Last Friday afternoon I went to see my family doctor. I had been having some intestinal issues that were of concern and was sent immediately to the hospital for a CT Scan. After the scan I was given instructions by my doctor and sent home. Sunday evening my condition was worsening and at 1 am on Monday morning my husband took me to the ER where I was admitted. We pay a $30 co-pay for regular office visits, a $50 co-pay for urgent care and/or specialist visits, and $150 co-pay for ER visits and it is always expected that those are paid at the time of each visit. Our prescription benefits are on a tier system which means that we either pay $20, $30, $50 or 20% depending on which tier the drug prescribed falls in. We also have a $1500 deductible per person per year. Our out of pocket medical expenses are usually around $7,000 a year. That is with good insurance.

While I was still in my hospital bed a lady from accounting came in to see me. At that point I had been in the hospital a total of 34 hours. She informed me that our bill was in excess of $5,000 and wanted to know if we would be able to take care of our portion of the bill that day. My husband was not there and they had instructed him to take my purse home with him so I told her no. She then handed me an envelope and told me that they like to see no less than $250 before leaving the hospital but that I could mail it when I got home. I was a bit dumbfounded. We paid our $150 co-pay in the ER and we always pay our medical bills. I also know from past experience that that $5,000 does not cover the ER doctor, the radiologist, the floor doctor, or the gastrointerologist. We will be receiving bills from them shortly.

Why so expensive? Well... different people pay differing amounts. Our insurance will no doubt cut the cost of the bill because they have a set standard they pay for different procedures. If the hospital charges more than that they will write off the difference because they have a contract with the insurance company to do so. In many ways our insurance company keeps the cost down for us by having restrictions like that in place. But the cost is still too high. There is a lot that most do not understand about how health care works. On the surface someone may look at this post and take it as an example of the need for universal health care. It just is not that simple.

I wonder if I would have been able to get an appointment on Friday if we were under a government controlled health care system. Would I have gotten a CT scan the same day? My condition could have potentially become life threatening if not treated. What if I had to wait?

I know a lot of families that are not as well off as we are. There are health care programs for them. They do not go without care. What I hear about and what I know do not add up. I definitely agree that something must be done about health care costs but what is being proposed is not the answer. Why would it not be implemented if passed until 2013? The deductions from all of our incomes will take effect immediately. Does that not raise a red flag?

Friday, October 2, 2009

National Institutes of Health Research Grant

As someone who suffers from Spasmodic Dysphonia, I received the following e-mail today:

And now, for some really exciting news that could have a real effect on many of us with focal forms of dystonia such as Spasmodic Dysphonia. The NIH has awarded a 5 year, $5.6 million grant to help advance research and studies through a multicenter Dystonia Coalition!!! The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation will play a key role!! Read the complete information below:

NIH Awards New Grant to Develop Better Treatments for Focal Dystonias

September 30, 2009 – Officials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have announced the funding of a five year award aimed at forming a multicenter Dystonia Coalition to advance clinical research on primary focal dystonias, including Cervical Dystonia, Spasmodic Dysphonia, Blepharospasm, and others. Leading the Coalition will be H. A. Jinnah, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology and Human Genetics at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that causes muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. It affects men, women and children. Dystonia can be generalized, affecting many major muscle groups and resulting in twisting, repetitive movements and abnormal postures. Or dystonia can be more focal, affecting a specific part of the body such as legs, arms, hands, neck, face, mouth, or vocal cords. Currently, it is estimated that at least 300,000 individuals in North America suffer from dystonia, making it more common than Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and ALS. There is no known cure.

The $5.6 million award will allow the Dystonia Coalition to cultivate a better understanding of the primary focal dystonias and find better therapies. This includes projects to develop a better understanding of their natural history, establish instruments appropriate for monitoring disease severity in clinical trials, and develop proper diagnostic criteria. The creation of a biorepository to store biological samples to support future research is also planned, making these resources available to investigators worldwide. The Coalition will bring together the most committed dystonia researchers in North America and Europe, along with dystonia patient advocacy groups.

The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) will play an integral role by providing logistical and planning support for the Coalition. The Foundation is well-poised to serve in this capacity as it is the largest and most established patient support organization devoted to dystonia.

“Dystonias are rare and devastating diseases, with limited and sometimes inadequate treatment options,” explains Dr. Jinnah. “Funding of the Dystonia Coalition will allow us to address unmet needs in focal dystonia research, as well as make resources available to other investigators that will help to advance the field.”

“We are delighted about the funding of the Dystonia Coalition and pleased that Dr. Jinnah will be leading this effort,” says Mahlon R. DeLong, MD, Scientific Director of the DMRF. “This is a unique opportunity to provide much-needed attention to these rare diseases. The DMRF is proud to play a role in this important effort.”

The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation is dedicated to advancing research for more treatments and ultimately a cure, promoting awareness and education and supporting the needs and well being of affected individuals and families. To learn more about dystonia, contact the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation at 1-800-377-3978 or
I would love for new treatments and/or a cure to be found for my condition. Being told by my doctor last year that there was nothing more they could do for me was a real blow. You would think that the above would come as good news to me. Sadly, it is not.
The National Institutes of Health is the Nation's Medical Research Agency run through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This money will be used for research using embryonic stem cells to which I am morally opposed. I was quite disgusted when I went to the NIH Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research.
The guideline begins with this statement: On March 9, 2009, President Barack H. Obama issued Executive Order 13505: Removing Barriers to Responsible Scientific Research Involving Human Stem Cells.
This statement is misleading. I have previously written about the stem cell debate on this page. President Bush allowed government funded embryonic stem cell research through existing lines that had been slated for destruction. There has never been any sort of ban on any type of stem cell research, just government funding for embryonic stem cell research. The research already done, which is extensive, has revealed that embryonic stem cells are unstable and lead to cancer. Why they want to continue on in that vein... taking money from adult stem cell research that has held much more promise, is beyond me. Yes, I know that embryonic stem cells can be manipulated into any sort of tissue where adult stem cells are more limited. I just have a problem with the creation of life being cannibalized in the name of medicine and cures for diseases. It is wrong.
So what happens if they come up with a "cure" for Spasmodic Dysphonia through embryonic stem cells? I will choose to live with it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Report on Good Morning America

I do not normally have the television on in the morning. However, I turned it on after hearing about a second earthquake during the night with another tsunami and knew that Good Morning America would be talking about it as well as the other earthquake and tsunami that hit Samoa yesterday. I was quite surprised by one of the other stories.

Apparently, those in Congress can pay under $400 a year to receive unlimited health care on site. If they need specialists they are brought in with no additional charge. They had a hard time getting people to speak about it on camera. Interestingly, the reporter made the case for primary health care being the key to lowering health care costs and that increasing the availability of primary care is what is needed. I agree with that... to an extent. Medical school enrollment is down and some doctors are leaving the field altogether. Why? I think it is the decline in incentive.

I just wanted to throw that out there real quick. I've got a busy morning and don't have time to look up some things I'd like to. I do know that some companies are now hiring doctors to have on site to keep their health care costs down while still providing services for their employees. I'm interested in seeing if I can find some good examples of how that is working.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Health Care Reform

We all hear about it every day. We could use some changes in health care to make it less expensive. Does that mean we need to hand over control of it to the government? NO.

Where are the people dying in this country because they have been turned away from hospitals because they don't have insurance? It is against the law for hospitals to do that!

Case in point:

Someone I know in his mid-thirties is an alcoholic that lives in California. He had had four DUI's, his license taken away, and spent many months on house arrest in 2007. In August of 2008 he was in a serious car accident in which he was driving a friend's SUV... drunk. There were no other cars or people involved (THANK GOD!!!) and he was seriously injured. He was in the hospital for a month and required rehabilitation services for a brain injury for months afterward. He had no insurance and no way to pay... yet, he received the care.

I know families that receive state health and dental care for their children because they fall below a certain income level.

Health care costs are through the roof. That has more to do with sleazeball trial attorneys than anything else.

And that is my rant for the day on current U.S. political happenings.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

World Politics

In my quest to understand the middle east I have had my eyes opened to a few things. The fact is that in today's world global politics are just as important as our own U.S. politics. There is no doubt that the United States is the current most powerful nation. However, there are changes being made here that could change that.

When I wrote the post on Palestine I went into researching that with a certain mindset. I first learned of the Holocaust when I was in high school and was very affected by it. I was not raised in a Christian home and was not aware of the history of the Jews from a biblical perspective. My heart broke for a people so mistreated. When I learned of the plight of the Palestinians, my heart also broke for them. As much as I know that life is not fair, I want it to be so.

What is it that drives different people groups throughout the world? Their beliefs. Those beliefs are shaped by their experiences... their history as a people, their lifestyle or culture (which is, in large part, determined by where they are located geographically and what natural resources are available in those areas that enable them to be either self sustaining and/or develop trade with others) and what they believe the purpose of life is. As much as many people would like to leave religion out of things, it is impossible.

Mrs. BLBeamer made the comment in my last post that she was hoping I would not be discussing the middle east as much because it seems to be a futile effort. Maybe so. However, I am more interested, at this point, in understanding it and how it relates to the rest of the world. I will, even though I am disgusted with U.S. politics, also get back into looking at what is going on here.

Today the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be addressing the United Nations. Gateway Pundit has this post up about Canada boycotting the speech and is planning on going to the U.N. today to report on what is happening.

We know that Iran now has nuclear capabilities.

What do you think this means for the United States?

For Israel?

Update: In case you haven't figured it out, Gateway Pundit is my favorite political blog. He has updates throughout the day of what is going on around the world. I really appreciate his straightforward style. He has this post up about the protest against Ahmadinejad outside of the U.N. complete with pictures. He says there is another scheduled for tomorrow. He also has this post up about President Obama using his speech to the U.N. General Assembly to warn Israel that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

I am currently taking a class on Bible prophecy. It is providing a different lense with which to look through at what is happening around the world right now. It is foretold in the Bible that the world will turn its back on Israel and that would have to include the United States.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Very Interesting...

Check out this blog post covering a protest in Denver on August 6th when Nancy Pelosi came to tour a medical clinic for the homeless. Be sure to read the whole thing.

Thanks Paula!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Palestine II

A new person, Shafiq, entered into the discussion on Palestine last week. In his last comment he posted this link to an interesting article. I'd like to discuss this article. One of the things that I find difficult is sifting through the news. Is it even possible to find unbiased news?

Also, a two state solution seems impossible at this point. There are too many Jewish settlers in the West Bank. In order for the West Bank to become the Palestinian state, those settlers would all have to leave because the Palestinians do not want them there.

Do any of you have any ideas of a solution to the problems in Palestine? Personally, and all fairness aside, I wonder if it wouldn't be better for Israel to just end this by taking over completely. Is that naive?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Political Burn Out

I have really been struggling with political burn out. There was some activity this weekend on the Palestine post that has piqued my interest so I am feeling the urge to get back to posting here. I need to get caught up to speed on current events and do a little research first. I hope to post in a day or two.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Between Internet connection problems, a busy summer schedule, and my attempt to wrap my mind around everything I've been trying to learn, I haven't been able to post.

I've been trying to condense all I've been learning about the similarities and differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As always, whenever I attempt to tackle making sense of things for myself, I find my faith challenged. This always makes me uncomfortable but I believe that in order for my faith to be real it must be able to be questioned. That is not to say that I have answers for my questions. There are so many that I don't. It does mean that I come to a place where I can accept that I don't know the answers and yet still believe what I do. I really wish that I was one of those Christians that isn't plagued by doubt. I'm not. I am often frustrated and confused. I don't know if this comes from the fact that I was raised in an environment that was, for lack of a better word, neutral about spiritual matters. God was something that just wasn't talked about. What I believed was left up to me.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam begin pretty much the same. Abraham is a key figure in all three religions. Interesting considering that Abraham is referred to as the father of faith in Christianity. For a quick comparison of the three go here.

I had hoped to be able to do one post on Judaism, Christianity and Islam and present it from a position of my understanding it all. I don't. I can't wrap it up and be satisfied with what I know at this point. So, today I am just going to write a brief synopsis of what each religion believes about who God is. All three are monotheistic in that they believe in only one God.

Judaism: God is spirit. To Orthodox Jews, God is personal, eternal and compassionate. To other Jews, God is impersonal and unknowable and defined in many ways.

Christianity: God is triune, meaning one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It can be explained as multiplied wholeness (1x1x1=1). The title God refers to the first person, God the Father. He is a spiritual being. He is personal and involved with people. He is eternal, holy, and loving.

Islam: God (Allah) is one. He is the judge that is sometimes merciful. They do not believe in a personal relationship with Allah.

The problem with breaking things down this way is that it is overly simplistic. There are many variations of what people believe that fall under each of the religions.


1. Why do you believe/not believe in God and why?

Also, today in the news:

"Now, in an unexpected move, Obama has told White House aides that instead of joining a congregation in Washington, D.C., he will follow in George W. Bush's footsteps and make his primary place of worship Evergreen Chapel, the nondenominational church at Camp David. " continue reading here.

2. What are your thoughts on that?