Why I Personally Support The Blood:Water Mission For Africa

August 27, 2012 at 12:08 am , by 

21 months.

My wife is the one in the relationship who is the stickler for pushing the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube.

Meanwhile, I am the one who doesn’t allow either of us to let the faucet to run while we are brushing our teeth, except for the brief moments the toothbrush actuallyneeds to be rinsed.

I think it’s no coincidence that here in America, we play in our water (at water parks!) while people in much of the rest of the world don’t even have clean water to drink.

That’s not to say that if we simply reserved our water use, the people on the other side of the world would suddenly have access to the water they need to survive.

Instead, we have to be proactive to help them have access to clean drinking water. Today, I am honored to share with you a way your family can help families in Africa do just that.

This isn’t just a hopeful prayer: “Lord, please help the poor people in Africa.”

Instead, this is you actually helping the poor people in Africa. What an awesome way you can teach your kids how to help those who are less fortunate.

This past weekend I got to meet Wally from The Wally Showmy favorite radio show. They are a big advocate of a grassroots organization called The Blood:Water Mission that empowers communities to work together against the AIDS and water crises.

The Wally Show hosted a Lemon:Aid fundraiser here in Nashville so my wife and I took our son Jack to check it out.

As the sign behind me in this picture above explains, for anyone who bought a $1 cup of lemonade, they helped provide water to one person for a year.

For a $5 cup, they provided water to a family for a year.

For a $25, they provided water for one person for life.

And for $125, they provided water to a family for life.

As you can see, just a few American dollars still go a long way in Africa.

While at the end of the day I could care less about controversial parenting topics like circumcision and the cry it out method, something I am extremely passionate about is actually helping hurting families in less fortunate countries.

The Blood:Water Mission helps countries like Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Rwanda to have water wells installed to provide clean drinking water for their villages.

Here’s a link to their website which explains all the ways your family can do more than just simply donate money to invest in these lovely African people, but also to get involved like the way I just mentioned:

Doing a Lemon:Aid Stand.

I will close with this perfect quote from Bono of U2:

“Where you live should not decide whether you live or whether you die.”

 

 

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dad from day one: Feng Shui Dad

Week 1.

Being that I spend most of my lunch breaks at Borders, over the past year I have been acquiring a small library of discounted books.  One of my purchases off the “five dollar clearance rack” was a huge colorful book on Feng Shui.  While I have yet to spend much time really learning these ancient Chinese secrets, I did scan through a few chapters.  One of the concepts of Feng Shui that I did pick up on warned against long uninterrupted straights, whether the layout of the house is based on one basic hallway or the driveway to the house has no turns.  Without turns and interruptions along a straight path, one might “fall out of the house and out of their own yard”.  That’s considered “bad Feng Shui”.

If you are able to grasp that concept for the most part (which I think for some strange reason I can), then maybe you can understand my recent perspective on how having Baby Jack relates back to Feng Shui, if nothing else, in my own sleep-deprived head.  Recently, some of my cosmic insecurities have been heavily resolved as I realize that by being a parent, I am forever in the middle of a generation, no longer the tail end.  I am no longer the tree itself, but instead one of the branches on someone else’s family tree.  No longer am I a coastal state like Rhode Island or South Carolina, exposed the possibility of breaking off in the Atlantic Ocean, only separated by a few thousand miles from giant Africa; instead, I am now landlocked Kansas.  Like sitting in the middle of the third row seat in a 15 passenger van on a church mission trip to Mexico; like no longer being on the outer edge in a herd of zebras escaping from a hungry lion, so am I.

As a parent, I now feel more Feng Shui.  I will not “fall out” out the universe into outer space without it being immediately noticed.  Because I am no longer simply a husband; I am a father.  And being a father doesn’t simply hold importance in the direct care of my son, but also in an undeniable eternal sense.  Baby Jack is not just simply a cute little Bambino.  He is a spiritual being who I am responsible for.

I am no longer an island of any kind.  More than ever before, I am needed and necessary in this world.  What I do from this point has potentially everlasting outcomes.  I won’t look back on my life when I’m an old man and think, “I  lived such an empty life.”  Because I will always be linked back to my son.  So cosmic, man.

“These moments, they can never last; like a sad old man with his photographs keeps wishing for the things he can not change.”

-Guster, “Architects and Engineers “


What Makes a Person “Cool”? (Being Subtle, Aware of Social Cues, and Having Something Exclusive)

I asked dozens of people in real life and on facebook in order to find the answer.

There are some things in life we recognize and encounter everyday, yet we don’t understand them.  For example, questions I constantly ask myself as I am writing each day are “is this funny?” and more importantly “is this interesting?” Both humor and being able to captivate a person’s attention are not really cut-and-dry, black-and-white issues, though I am definitely a cut-and-dry, black-and-white person.  It takes being very observant of social cues and even pop culture, at least in my experience, to make it work.  The difficulty and creativity in the search to be both funny and interesting is that both of those things are abstract, moving targets.

I am so overaware (it’s a made-up word but if I keep using it I think I can get it to catch on) and intrigued by marketing tools and methods.  For example, from now on, anytime you see an ad for a clock (not digital) or even just a new clock for sale in a store, you will be amazed at how many of the clocks show “10:10” as the time.  My guess is that “10:10” easily shows both arms of the clock and also it’s a time that many people are awake for both times each day, both morning and night.

Another interesting observation is how many African-American models wear purple in magazine ads and commercials on TV.  From JC Penny catalogs to The Princess and the Frog, purple is present.  Notice how few people of all other races were purple in ads.  I’m sure it’s because the color purple compliments darker skin tones much better than it does for lighter ones, and because purple is a color of royalty, which is a common theme in African-American culture- like the way bishops are often common in African-American churches.  And it may be stretching this concept, but the Disney movie The Lion King takes place in Africa, and as the title explains, it is a movie about a kingdom, even though it’s about animals instead of humans.

So keeping all these things in mind, I started thinking about an important and invisible factor in selling a product: being cool.  Apple computers are definitely cool, as is Steve Jobs who started and runs the company.  Is it because of those TV ads starring Justin Long, portraying PC’s as nerdy and Mac’s as hip?  I don’t think so.  Those ads just cleverly symbolized what many clued-in consumers were already aware of: Mac’s are cooler than PC’s.

Apple has always made their own rules, not being limited to the guidelines and expectations of other computer programs or even customers.  But they get away with it because Apple basically writes The Book of Cool when it comes to media technology: User-friendly computers that don’t really get viruses, iPods, iPhones, and iPads, all of which use a minimal number of buttons, and are so cool they don’t easily interact with other Apple products.

This being said, “coolness” is important in selling a product.  And that’s why marketing departments exist- to try and figure out, or at least convince people what is cool, so the product can be sold.  But the art of being cool doesn’t just apply to big companies and marketing teams, it also matters to us as individuals.  People are often drawn to other people who they think are cool; therefore being cool yourself may in turn attract other cool people.  I mean, some people are fine with regularly attending Star Wars conventions or sharing a house with 8 cats all named after cupcake flavors.  But just as that “uncool” example shows, even if we truly don’t care what other people think about us, being cool is definitely better than being uncool, if given the choice.

So what makes a person “cool”?  I’ve asked dozens of people both in real life and on facebook to find out the answer.  There were mainly just a few different answers, some being gender specific, some not:  Some males answered “money and material possessions” while some females answered “appearance and clothing”.  But the most reoccurring answer I received was “being confident to the point that the person truly doesn’t care about what other people think or say about them”.  Another similar answer that resonated well with me was “a cool person has something you don’t, even if it’s just confidence”.

Interestingly, the age of the people I asked made no difference to the kind of answer I got.  Not only do older people think that “confidence” defines being cool, but I also realized that being young isn’t a requirement in order to be cool.  I can think of three musicians who I’ve listened to my entire life who are still making music and for whom I’m still buying their albums and happen to all be currently right around 60 years old: Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Phil Collins. Age has nothing to do with being cool.  If anything, being young is a major disadvantage in being cool, since life experience is lacking.  Most teenagers only think they know what is cool, but many of them are trying so hard to be cool that they are not- which brings me to the first Rule of Being Cool.

The Rules of Being Cool

1) If you realize or acknowledge that you are cool, you either never were cool or are now no longer cool. Like John Mayer.  I will always love his music, but I refuse to think he’s cool anymore.  By the time he publicly started dating celebrities then disrespecting them later in magazines while making an arse of himself with prideful comments and talking about how much money he makes, it became official: John Mayer is aware that he’s cool, which officially disqualifies him for being cool.  I can’t totally discredit the guy, after all, he did pen the song “83” (I’ve been obsessed with the year 1983, since 1995) and it was one of his concerts that transformed a friendship into a dating relationship into a marriage into a family (the first date my wife and I went on was a John Mayer concert).  But John Mayer is officially disqualified from being cool.

2) You must be aware of social cues, but not become ruled by the expectations of other people. Obviously if a person doesn’t care whatsoever what people think, he could be rude, selfish, and only shower once a week.  But it takes more than not caring what people think and participating in personal hygiene, it takes being aware of the social expectations that actually matter: Like being friendly, positive, and simply passionate about things that are important, while not being self-centered, vain, or overly aggressive. Why?  Because a person who has these attributes I just listed in italics is a confident person.  When I meet a person who is constantly being negative and is generally condescending to others, I see a person who is unhappy, unfulfilled and desperate to find confidence; needless to say, that’s not a cool person.

3) You must have something that others inspire to have. Whether it’s wit, aggressiveness, style, a high income level, or personal character, just to name a few examples, we use other people as models for our lives.  Yes, being cool depends on who you ask, since it’s largely based on perception.  Yet still, confidence can always be found as the foundation of coolness.

And that’s it.  That’s how I define what makes a person cool.  From Zack Morris in the fictional world, to my own family and friends in the real world, I am blessed to know cool people.  Just as iron sharpens iron, so do cool people enhance each other’s coolness. Therefore, be cool to one another.


Unnecessary Bonus…

Ethnic Backgrounds of Celebrities Mentioned in This Post:

Steve Jobs (half Syrian, half English)

Justin Long (half Polish, Sicilian, English)

Phil Collins (English, Irish)

Bruce Springsteen (50% Italian, 37% Irish, 13% Dutch)

Tom Petty (English, 1/4 Native American Indian)

Henry Winkler as “The Fonz” (Jewish)

John Mayer (half Jewish, half German)

Mark-Paul Gosselaar (half Indonesian, half Dutch)






How Race and Religion are Connected and Why Isaac and Ishmael are behind It All

This is me in a video I made for you, which explains all this in a 5 and a half minute video, in case you prefer that over reading the 1378 word blog post below it, which I wrote 7 years ago.

Meet your great-grandfather Isaac.  Or Ishmael.  Or maybe even both…

How do you determine who ethnically is a “white person” and who is not?  Are Jews considered to be white?  What about Greeks and Italians?  And though Central and South Americans typically have tan skin, why is it there something about them still seems sort of white, as opposed to a person from India or China? These are some of the “side effect” questions that will be answered as I explain my theory on the origin of race and religion.

No, this theory doesn’t start with Adam and Eve.  Nor does it start with Noah and his family repopulating the world after the Great Flood.  It starts 20 generations after Adam, and 10 generations after Noah, with Abraham (the father of the Jewish and the Arab people), being promised by God that he would have a son in his old age.  After waiting and having no sign of this coming true, Abraham’s wife Sarah convinced him to sleep with their Egyptian maidservant Hagar, in order to have a son to carry on the family lineage.  At age 86, Abraham goes with his wife’s plan (like the way Adam ate the fruit after Eve convinced him to) and has a son with his maidservant- the son is named Ishmael.  However, 13 years later Abraham’s wife Sarah gets pregnant with a son, as God promised, and this son is named Isaac.

Hagar and Ishmael

Abraham eventually sends away his maidservant Hagar and his son Ishmael into the wilderness (Genesis 21:14), and raises Isaac his as true first-born son.  Today, thousands of years later, it is through Ishmael that Arabs and Muslims link their heritage through.  Accordingly, Jews and Christians trace through heritage back to Isaac.  Now we are in the meat of my theory.

As generations passed and both families migrated from their Middle Eastern homelands, the descendants of Ishmael moved south and east- to Africa, Asia, and America (becoming the Native American Indians in North America and the Aztec Indians in Central and South America).  In fact, the angel of the Lord told Hagar that Ishmael “will live east of all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12).  Meanwhile the descendants of Isaac moved north and west- to Europe, Russia, and eventually to America (killing off, running off, or marrying the Native American Indians).

Notice how today the countries that are represented by the descendants of Ishmael are generally practice religions that do not involve the Judeo-Christian God (worshipped by Christians, Catholics, and Jews) but instead are tied Hinduism, Animism, Taoism, Buddhism, Communism (Atheism) and Islam.  And of course the descendants of Isaac are matched to the Christianized nations: For example, Scotland is mainly Protestant, Ireland is mainly Catholic, and England is mainly Anglican (Presbyterian).

The Judeo-Christian nations (Isaackians)

Almost 2,000 years ago thanks the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys to preach Christ where the Jews had already settled (in Europe, specifically the Mediterranean areas) and also the birth of Christianity as a whole, the countries that were already familiar with the Judeo-Christian God were basically the first to get introduced to Jesus as the Messiah.  As far as all the Ishmael-descended areas, like modern day Africa and Asia that were less familiar or not familiar at all with Christianity, they were not and have not typically been as generally open and accepting to “our God” as Isaac’s descendants.

The Ishmaelese Middle East

Ishmaelese Africa

Ishmaelese Asia

I do believe that whether or not a nation (or individual person) is a descendent of Isaac has much to do with their religion, race, and culture.  However, there are obviously exceptions.  One of them is Russia, which had been mainly Christian up until the point of its embrace of Communism.  Another exception is African-Americans, whom most identify with Christianity, as opposed to most Africans living in Africa.

And then there’s the “half breed” nations that make up Central and South America.  For the most part, their blood is mixed of Indigenous Americans (Native American, Aztec, etc.) who migrated from Asia through modern day Alaska, and European lineage from those who “discovered” America.  So in essence, the inhabitants of modern day Central and South America are half Isaackian, half-Ishmaelese; though they have accepted the religious beliefs of Isaac’s descendants (largely Catholic).  Read more about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_peoples_of_the_Americas

Yes, I did just now make up and use the words Isaackian (to describe the descendants of Isaac who are prone to believe in the Judeo-Christian God) and Ishmaelese (to describe the descendants of Ishmael who typically do not).  And now that you hopefully understand what those terms represent, I will begin using them frequently.

What started much of this thought process was when I recently began “Climbing the Family Tree” and realized that so many of my ancestors had last names that are Jewish (Schell, Klaar, Ullman, Wiseman, Vite) yet there is no solid proof that I actually am- only family rumors and tradition.  If I assume that none of the people in my family tree were Jewish, well, still, I have Jewish names in my family tree.  So that got me thinking, Jewish people and “white people” are essentially the same thing, coming from the same common ancestors.  Whereas someone who is Japanese (Ishmaelese) wouldn’t have last names in their family tree that would resemble a Jewish last name.

So going back to one of the questions I asked in the beginning, are Jewish people considered to be white?  Yes.  Though their homeland is Israel and though they are a Middle Eastern people group, they blend in with us Americans so well.  And that’s part of my fascination with pointing out which celebrities are Jewish.  Half the casts of Friends and Seinfeld are Jewish (The Ethnic Backgrounds of the Cast of Friends and Seinfeld) as well as The Wonder Years (The Ethnicity of the Cast of The Wonder Years), but the fact that most of us don’t know which ones are or aren’t shows that despite most of us being a mix of European blood, those Middle Eastern descended Jews are still our cousins.

Of course ultimately, it doesn’t matter which of us descended from Isaac or Ishmael or how much blood we have of either (I’m around 12.5% Ishmaelese); it just predicts the tone of our skin and our traditional religion, according to my theory.  By no means do I see the Isaackians as superior to Ishmaelese for the fact that I myself worship the Judeo-Christian God.  But what I do recognize is what God himself proclaimed to Abraham regarding Isaac and Ishmael:

But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish my everlasting covenant for his descendants after him,” (Genesis 17:19).

“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold I will bless him, and make him fruitful and multiply him exceedingly.  He shall become the father of 12 princes, and I will make him a great nation,” (Genesis 17:20).

What’s most important from those verses I just quoted is that God promised to establish his covenant through the line of Isaac.  In other words, the savior of the world would come in the form of a Jew.  Not to mention that the Isaackians coincidently would hold the responsibility of sharing their God with the Ismaelese- that’s why Christian missionaries exist.  That’s why Christianity is now the largest religion of the Ishmaelese country of South Korea, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Korea#Religion

We all have the same great-grandparents at the tops of our family trees.  I try to imagine how different the world would be if Abraham wouldn’t have had a son with Hagar, if he just would have waited another 13 years for his own wife to become pregnant.  But he jumped the gun and changed the course of history (for him, it was the future) forever.  Though if he didn’t, I wouldn’t exist, being that my grandmother is Mexican.  Not only would I have not written this and you wouldn’t have read it, but there wouldn’t have been any of this to write about.

Heads or Tails?

Sometimes there’s no middle ground.

To entertain ourselves in the cafeteria after we finished our corndog and tater tot lunches, my friends and I would have contests to see who could make a quarter spin the longest on the table before it ultimately landed on either heads or tails. Fine amusement for 5th grade boys. But never once did a quarter remain on its side. It always fell on one side or the other. Heads or tails.

Today I spent my lunch break at Border’s. Browsing through the photograph books, I couldn’t help but notice the cover of a book entitled Traffik. It was a simple black-and-white picture of a Southeast Asian woman looking at the camera. She only had one eye.

It saddened me so much I pulled out the book from the shelf and sat down on a stool to read it. The book was a large collection of photographs featuring women trapped in human trafficking (forced prostitution) in Cambodia. They are often lured from the mountains and the countryside by men promising them good work.

Of course this sort of hellishly-inspired activity isn’t only currently happening in Asia. While attending Liberty University, I listened carefully to the reports of guest speaker Kay Warren, the wife of Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life). She has spent time ministering to AIDS victims in Africa.

She explained (regarding the AIDS epidemic in that continent,) that many men with AIDS commonly believe (as they are instructed by witch doctors) they can be cured if they have sex with someone who is “pure”. That’s one of the reasons many children in Africa have AIDS or HIV.

It is estimated that today there are around 29 million slaves in the world; particularly in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. I only learned that a few months ago- I was under the impression that slavery ended 150 years ago.

So many men keep slavery alive today by capturing and selling other people. And so many other men keep slavery alive by buying or renting slaves from these decrepit “businessmen”. And that leaves innocent women and children to suffer.

When some people are given this information, their reaction is, “How could God exist if he lets things like that happen in the world?”

Others react with, “How could God not exist when things like that are happening in the world?” Because they have hope in justice. And hope in a being who is actually qualified to judge the injustice in the history of the world. Not just sit on a cloud.

Yes, we easily agree that human trafficking needs to be stopped and that’s is a horrible thing.  And fortunately, more awareness of the issue is causing groups to form across to help rescue the victims, if nothing else. 

Faith can’t be real if it’s not tested and questioned.  And when it comes to God and a tragedy this horrific, even when we’re not directly affected, it still causes us to either draw closer or further away from God at the simple thought of it.

Heads or tails?

The Opposite of Evolution: Intelligent Design

 

I remember being in high school thinking, how can I honestly believe God created the Earth in 6 days when there were obviously dinosaurs who would have wiped man off the face of the planet? Dinosaurs that are inconveniently not mentioned in the Bible. So I decided to compromise: I convinced myself that they were not 6 literal days, but that a “day” was equal to millions or billions of years. That way, I don’t look like that naïve neighbor kid of The Simpsons whose idea of fun is playing Family Bible Trivia.

Then during my first year of college I had such an eye-opening revelation that I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.  A splendid epiphany of  relief and amazement.  Such a nugget of information that it literally changed the the way I see life as I know it.  That’s what happened to me in 1999. I learned how God actually could create the Earth in just six 24-hour days and how gigantic dinosaurs fit into the equation.

It wasn’t until Noah built the ark that it rained, for the first time ever.  That is a big deal. Genesis 2:5, 6- “…the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.”

From Adam to Noah (10 generations, as listed in Genesis 5) there was no rain. We also know from that chapter that men lived between 365 and 969 years, the average age of all 10 forefathers being 857 years old each. So the point is that before it rained, people lived a LONG time.  Over 10 times the average of what people live today.

So there had to have been many millions of people who were born and lived during just those 10 generations. Obviously there wasn’t birth control so just one man would have probably produced many offspring during his lifetime alone, then his children his children, and so on. That’s a lot of people living a long time…

So Noah was 600 years old when it rained for the first time. That’s thousands of years with no rain. Genesis 7:11- “In the 600th year of Noah’s life…all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”  So there was plenty of water under the Earth (which watered it) and plenty above the Earth, which created a greenhouse effect. That’s part of the reason they lived so long. It was a completely different living environment. I haven’t even mentioned yet that the all people in the history of the world at that point were all vegetarians.

After the months of flooding were finished, God told Noah some history-changing news: “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant” (Genesis 9:2, 3). So prior to this, they were only eating plants. Thousands of years and millions of people eating plants.

Not only did the people not eat animals, the animals did not fear the people. Comprehend this: vegetarians living amongst tame animals. Tame cows are easy to imagine. Even tame birds. But what about tame tigers? And bears. What about dinosaurs? Keeping in mind the environment of the world prior to the Flood was a greenhouse. It’s no wonder that ancient cave drawings have been found that show people riding dinosaurs. People capture in art what they value and what is familiar to them.

But how did a brontosaurus fit on the ark? The same way any large animal fit. Get ‘em while they’re young and small, of course. But by the time they got off the ark, and the greenhouse effect was gone, the survivors found a different Earth. The huge dinosaurs did not have enough to survive on.

The Great Flood broke apart Pangea, the land mass which made up all the continents. The zebras from Africa once freely crossed the then-nonexisting border to South Carolina. (Zebra skeletons have been found as far as Salt Lake City, Utah.) But they just couldn’t survive in the new land mass now known as America. The penguins in the tropics died off. The penguins in the Arctic survived. The kangaroos in the Russian tundra couldn’t survive, but the ones in Australia did.

And of course I was wrong about dinosaurs not being mentioned in the Bible. It’s just that the word “dinosaur” was not coined until 1929. Instead, there is a “leviathan” (mentioned a total of 5 times in the Bible: Job 3:8, the entire book of Job 41, Psalms 74:14, Psalms 104:24-26, and Isaiah 27:1). It refers to a giant see monster that is impossible to capture.

Another word for a dinosaur in the Bible is “behemoth”. It is mentioned in Job 40: 15-24 as a beast that was created “with man” (as in the same week, not millions or billions of years before.) The verses describe the creature having a tail of cedar; the behemoth’s massive strength is compared to God’s. I can’t think of any animal living today that has a tail anywhere near the size of a cedar tree.

This has been a briefing of the history of the ancient world. Should anyone worry about “carbon dating”, just keep this in mind: When Adam and Eve were created, they weren’t babies. They were “man” and “woman”. The animals and plants were also fully grown. So why wouldn’t the rest of the universe be fully grown as well? Something to think about the next time while during a tour in a cave there is a stalactite growing over a wooden sign that was posted 40 years ago which explains to you that it took thousands of years for the stalactites all around to grow.

walrus