Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Read through the Bible in a Year

Ahhh....New Years Resolutions are upon us. Every year, for as long as I can remember (since like second grade??)...I have had a "new years resolution" to read through the Bible in a year. And every year, I have failed dismally. In order to read through the Bible in a year, I have always tried to read a little each day in order to not have to read like 6 books in one day to get caught up. Last year, i had my reading for the day emailed to me. That worked till about April, when I got so far behind that I gave up on the read through in a year thing. The positive thing about 2009's attempt at reading through the Bible is that I now carry my Bible around with me at all times. So i can read it whenever I have a spare minuet, or if I am thinking of a verse and want to remind myself just how it goes, or if I ma facing a particular struggle and need to remind myself what the word of God has to say about it, etc. But the effects of my abandoning the Read the Bible in a Year plan is; My "quite time" gets reduced to a few minuets a day, a few days a week and my spiritual walk suffers. Its sad. Whats even sadder is that this has repeated itself for nearly two decades, year after year. While I am POSITIVE I have read the Bible in its entirety, I think its important for me to read the whole thing in a relatively short period of time so I can see some themes, patterns and so forth. In addition to the "reading in a year" I also usually do a devotional to help me focus on a specific part of scripture and really just dig in, looking for personal applications. "Better is a little with understanding" as the old expression goes. So, once again I am making it my goal to read through the Bible in 2010. sigh. I have renewed dedication this year though, Over the last several months I have seen some heresy develop in some of my friend's faiths. These are friends with whom I was raised side by side, and fed on a relatively similar diet of Biblical teaching. Ive given a LOT of thought to how this happens and the conclusion i have come to is that in my upbringing, and in my friends upbringing there was a strong emphasis on Spiritual connectedness with God. On the Spiritual feelings and leadings. I am not saying I don't believe these things are important they are, but these things I think were emphasised OVER Bible reading. My friends and I have all probably read through the Bible at some point. We memorized Scripture and some of us still do, but I think the danger came in when we "pretty much know what the Bible says." The Enemy will use any and all opportunities to poison of minds, and even our religion. The blessed thing about the Word of God is that if you follow its teaching and hold everything up against it as a measurement of accuracy, you can scarcely go wrong. I believe its a lack of being entrenched in the Living and Holy Word of God that breeds this heresy and in some extreme cases for people to abandon the faith all together. While trying to determine what to say to my friends who have adopted strange faiths, I realized Im at JUST AS MUCH RISK of believing a false doctrine when I am not studying the scriptures daily. AND, I cannot effectively talk with my friends about the things they now believe that are unbiblical, because I have a hard time finding specifically in the Bible where it teaches contrary to what they now believe. So, Read through the Bible in a Year, take 18 (or so)....
  • This year I am going to print out a chart with all the chapters of the Bible and cross them off as I go. I think this will encourage me and help me not fear when i get off track for a few days, because I can pick up again anywhere.
  • I think I will also start reading in the minor prophets and the epistles, instead of the books of Moses and the Gospels...just to mix things up....
  • I'm going to blog about my reading progress and about the treasures I find in the Word.
  • I'm going to once again enlist the support of my Christian Mentor...but in order to do that I have to start working on my devotional again because she believes that was helpful to me when I was doing it before. It really, really was. And, as my Mentor, I respect her opinion on the matter....I need to do a devo with this Bible reading anyways....
  • I'm going to look for other people who are reading through the Bible in a Year OR who are working on reading PART of the Bible every day or however many times per week...
Any of you doing the "read the Bible in a year" as your new years resolution? Any old pros out there who can offer me tips? Anyone looking for an accountability partner? I want to make this my New Years REVOLUTION!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When considering health care and immigration, its important to identify the different family forms and immigration status of each family and indeed each individual within the family. Immigrant families may consist of all legal immigrants, a combination of legal and undocumented immigrants, legal immigrant citizens and legal immigrant non citizens, foreign born children adopted by US citizens, and families in which the children were born in the US (and therefore full citizens and not immigrants at all) but the parents are either legal or undocumented immigrants as well as refugee families. The reason it is important to identify these family forms is that immigration status has a huge impact on an families ability and willingness to access health care. As little as 50% of immigrant children have health insurance (including medicaid) compared to only 15% of non-immigrant children, coverage is even lower for adult immigrants. One of the reasons that so few immigrants have access to health insurance is that in 1996 legislation called Personal Responsibility and Opportunity to Work Act which stops government assistance for legal immigrants for the first five years in this country. Undocumented immigrants generally have no health care. When an individual has no insurance they are less likely to seek preventative treatment such as well child visits, prenatal care and treatment for chronic conditions and more likely to use the emergency room as their primary form of health care. Many immigrant families are reluctant to seek health care even if they are here legally and have insurance because they have a close family who is in the country (and maybe living in the same home) as an undocumented immigrant and they fear triggering an investigation which could result in that loved one being deported. Other barriers to quality health care include lack of familiarity with accessing US health care, limited understanding and communication skills in English and limited financial means to pay co-pays etc. Immigrants are at increased risk for many health conditions not found in the general US population including preventable diseases that most US born children are inoculated against, such as Hepatitis B and chickenpox. As well, there may be health problems that boarders of the US as are undiagnosed, including tuberculosis, parasites, HIV, AIDS, diabetes, and Hypertension, to name a few. Limited money may lead to poor quality or insufficient food, anxiety and depression. Children in particular (who have no control over where they live) are at risk for mental health problems due to the trauma of a move and because of stresses that may have occurred in their country of origin to precipitate to move. Health care should be available to all individuals residing in the US because infectious diseases can be spread to anyone regardless of their immigration status. In other words, whole communities can be at risk when individuals are not receiving proper health care. Additionally when persons use the emergency room as their primary means of health care costs of care go up for insured individuals i order to compensate for the inability of some to pay their hospital bills for conditions that could have been prevented with care such as prenatal doctors visits. In the city of Hartford there are some services available to all individuals, with or without health insurance that do not actively seek to exclude undocumented aliens. Those include Burgdorf medical clinic which works on a sliding scale so that individuals can access affordable care. Their services include preventative and acute care for children, adults and pregnant woman. They have walk in appointments and HIV clinic hours and provide screening for a wide range of diseases. The Malta House of Caring is a mobile clinic that moves around to different areas in Hartford and provides non-emergency care for free. They treat basic ailments and administer medication and make referrals to other care providers in the Hartford area for conditions they are not equipped to treat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

O Christmas tree, O Chrsitmas tree!

As a family we trudge through the field, silent, ever ready for the attack. Eyes wide open we are alert, hunting for the perfect specimen. Sizing each each living thing up we compare it to the last, the next- this one is too skinny, that one has a full body...finally we spot it slanding boldly in a patch of golden sun. There, the one we have been looking for. Its perfect, magnificent. Its reaches into the air as if in a permanent salutation to the sun. Its perfectly symmetrical and the suns rays reflecting it gives it an otherworldly glow. its breathtakingly beautiful. We circle around it slowly, as if we are afraid that we might startle it into running for cover...We find no flaws. Yes, its the one...We raise our weapon and deliver the death blow. Helpless, our victim cannot move or run away, We wield our weapon again and again- mercilessly until it is completely cut off from its life source. It falls to the ground and we descend upon its body, binding it tightly. The children whoop from the joy of victory. As a family we drag its body off, the children pulling almost uselessly at its limp limbs. We pay the man at the gate and load our prize onto the roof of our four-door sedan. On the way home we sing carols as the windshield wipers flash back and forth, pushing snowy flakes from our path. Finally we arrive at our destination. The corps is unloaded and we drag it into the house. The mother pulls boxes from the closet, preparing for the next part of the ritual. The father curses as he attempts to make the dead body stand erect to give the illusion of life as the children look on. The ropes come off the body and are replaced by colorful bulbs. The family decorates the already decaying body with shiny baubles. Our lives seem to revolve around our prize for the next several weeks. Guests come in and admire our handiwork, not a word is said about the fact that there is a dead body in our living room, its as if nobody is aware or cares that it was once a living, breathing being. Three weeks later, the decorations are removed from its body after the mother curses about the pieces that fall from its dead frame. And its dragged unceremoniously to the curb of the family home, forgotten, with the rest of the Christmas trees. Like my prose? hehe...I'm not a huge fan of the whole Christmas tree chopping action that happens around this time of year- if you couldn't tell. It really disturbs me. I'm 23, most the trees that are killed and rot in homes around the country are my age. In their infancy, really, as trees go. Trees in town centers and ones like the one in Rockefeller center are much much older, some well over 100 years. They spent years basking in the suns rays, withstanding strong winds that sought to overturn them, using the nutrients in the soil and rain to grow stronger and taller, they housed and fed birds, squirrels and bugs- only to be chopped down, adorned with colorful ornaments and left to dry up in our living rooms for some number of days before we drag it off with the rest of the holiday litter. My father and his wife plan to get a "live tree" this year, an ironic term, if you ask me. They attempt to comfort me by telling me that it was a tree specifically grown for this purpose. I suppose that is meant to assure me, just as its meant to be a comfort when I'm told that the cows, pigs and birds that make their way to the table were "grown for that purpose," but that's another entry. While it bothers me on a micro level that trees are treated this way, I also finding it a concerning phenomenon in society. We spend about 48 weeks per year preaching that we need to save trees and plant trees and help the environment. The other four weeks or so between Thanksgiving and Christmas we turn our backs on the philosophy in the name of tradition. I think this ritual is particularly confusing to children who are very concrete and black and white in their thinking. Why would they grow up concerned about deforestation if they are trained from a young age to participate in it every December?Regardless of whether or not the trees used for the holidays are replaced sustainably or not, the whole idea seems in opposition to the values we are trying to promote as conservationists. I challenge those who want a "live tree" to opt for an actual *living* tree, that is one that is potted and can be brought in doors for the season then planted outdoors when spring arrives.Wouldn't that be a lovely tradition to begin with your family? Having a beautifully decorated tree living in your home for the Christmas holidays and planting it with the arrival of spring, perhaps around Easter for another tradition? For Christians that could be a handy way of reminding children of the necessary connection between the two holidays. For pagans and others it is a nice way to celebrate the changing of seasons. Most importantly, it would be a wonderful opportunity to replenish the earth and to teach the next generation about the importance of good stewardship for the planet.