Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

What’s Missing From Lady Gaga’s Born This Way?

posted by Linda Mintle

Since I finally had a chance to watch the panel meeting with Lady Gaga at Harvard University where she launched her foundation, Born This Way. Lady Gaga was very engaging, passionate about helping create better communities that embrace kindness, love and acceptance. She has a great message and appears very genuine in her love for people. And she is looking for people to partner with her to bring that message to multiple communities. She admits, she has few answers to the problems of hate, violence and cruelty to fellow man, but wants to bring awareness to the need for cultural change.

She has amassed a host of experts, media personalities like Oprah, author Deepak Chopra, and others to bring awareness to the idea of supporting systems to build confidence in youth, empower them to be brave and kind. Her message: Stop the hate, violence and meanness and try love, kindness and acceptance.Who can’t get behind this idea?

But while all the experts have a wealth of understanding on violence, bullying, hate and other factors that contributes to tearing down the confidence and esteem of a person, few solutions are working. Why is that?

Lady Gaga believes that we will transform the hearts of people through acts of kindness and bravery, one person at a time. She is on to something, but how to change hearts is what is missing in this conversation.

True transformation of the heart is found in Ezekial 36: 25, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” The Holy Spirit in us motivates us to pursue holiness and gives  extraordinary power to love under the most difficult circumstances. Christ in us causes us to be brave, to empower, to love, to have empathy, and to be kind. Jesus’ commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.

Spurgeon said that a man’s heart is not easily softened and that hearts that are not softened grow harder and harder. We live in a culture of hardened hearts—the hard hearts of cruelty and meanness. But as Spurgeon notes, a heart of flesh is tender towards the suffering of others. It brings a tenderness of conscience, the very thing needed to make change.

So while I applaud Lady Gaga for aiming high to make a shift in the culture– from violence to love, the missing ingredient is God’s ability to change a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. This change requires spiritual surgery on the heart. He takes out that heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh. Then, we are empowered to truly love one another.

The Truth About Autism and Vaccines

posted by Linda Mintle

Mary’s son is autistic. She desperately wants to believe that the vaccinations her child received as a toddler triggered the disorder. Toddlers receive the MMR  vaccine around the same time as autistic symptoms begin to be noticed by parents. Because of her son’s diagnosis, Mary has not vaccinated any of her other children.

So what is the latest on autism and vaccinations?

Historically, the tie to autism and vaccines originated out of a 1998 small study in England. The study claimed that vaccines caused a gastrointestinal complication that triggered autism.

The report was published in a medical journal, The Lancet. However, in 2010, The Lancet retracted the study and the lead author lost his medical license because of fraud. Multiple studies on autism and vaccines have been conducted and continue to show no link. Furthermore, the ingredient (thimerosal) parents’ fear in the MMR vaccine was removed in 2001.

Yet, inflammatory rhetoric towards vaccinations and autism continues because we have celebrities insisting on causes that have not been proven and courts awarding damages to parents who sue. Neither is about science.

Like so many of you, I have a family member affected by autism. And this is what motivates me to get the facts straight. Research, such as the studies at Eastern Virginia Medical School on autism will continue to unlock the complicated door of these spectrum disorders.

Is Facebook Promoting Porn? 8 Guidelines for Parents

posted by Linda Mintle

Facebook has massive appeal. It allows us to stay in touch with friends, re-connect with people with whom we’ve lost contact, communicate with relatives, be aware of the needs of others and so much more that is good and healthy.

But Facebook has a dark side. It has become a place for child predators to group. Child predators look for places where children can be found and this technology has given them a breeding ground. With millions of children on Facebook, an investigative report on WND.com found Facebook groups with titles like Kidsex Young, Preteen Lesbians, Love Little Kids and more.

And even though efforts are made with photo software designed to filter illegal child abuse images, it doesn’t stop the predators from using Facebook as a platform. WND.com determined that the sites are being used to trade and post child pornography.

Parents, what can you do to protect your kids from pedophiles who may pose as their “friend?”

1) Follow the guidelines. Children under 13 are not supposed to have their own Facebook pages.

2) Friend your child so you can supervise his or her account. Because of the dangers involved, this is not a place you want to give your child complete privacy. You pay the bill for the Internet. Predators often pose as friends.

3) Reconsider allowing posting of photos. Pedophiles can take them and use them on pornography sites. Once the photo is public, you have no control.

4) Don’t give a young child a mobile smart phone.  Facebook has mobile apps that pose a risk.

5) Customize the settings. Do what you can to protect if you give them an account. Use the family’s email address.

6) Keep the computer in a public space in your home and monitor usage.

7) Teach your child to NEVER share private information.

8) Teach your child to ignore anyone who is not a personal friend that the family knows. “Friend” has a different meaning than a real friend.

If You Give a CHILD a Cookie…

posted by Linda Mintle

A friendly elderly man brings cookies and candy to the Y every day.

As soon as the children walk in the door, he offers the treats. Again, on the way out the door, the same treats are offered. And he makes it really hard to say NO.  I’ve seen some of the children say NO THANK YOU, only to be pressured to take the cookies.

Maybe this behavior seems harmless to you and you are thinking, cut the guy a break, he is just trying to be nice.

I think he is trying to be nice.

However, I sit on a community coalition that works hard at changing eating habits in children. With record rates of childhood obesity, we don’t want children associating exercise at the Y with unhealthy snacks as rewards. Those children then grow up to be adults who reward themselves with empty calorie food. The seemingly harmless behavior is teaching children the wrong eating habits. And some of the parents do not want the cookies offered by a stranger.

People have complained. I’ve suggested a compromise. How about if he brings small oranges, grapes, bananas or nuts and seeds instead. Or the money he spends on cookies and candy could be spent on stickers, sugar-free gum or something else if he is wants to engage the children. Or make a policy that junk food is not offered when you walk in the door.

Nothing has changed.

You might think, what is the big deal? Aren’t there more important issues to face in life?

The big deal is that so many people I work with have to change their relationship with food and stop rewarding themselves with treats every time they do something that requires physical discipline. This “food as reward” habit is often learned in childhood and carries over to adult life. Praise, activities, stickers, high five, anything else can be used to reward behavior without teaching bad eating habits.

Being nice to kids doesn’t have to include giving them daily cookies and candy at a place trying to promote healthy habits in kids and adults.

If we change these small unhealthy habits, they lead to bigger changes.

 

 

 

 

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