Saturday, May 31, 2008

Safety Saturdays #15 - MySpace Suicide: 6 Months Later

Jetlag from 15 hours of travel home from Ireland yesterday depleted my capacity to generate an original post today. Check out the NetSmartz Blog post this week with legal updates and what you should know about the MySpace suicide story. Six months ago, a Minnesota newspaper broke the tragic story of 13-year-old Megan Meier, who committed suicide after being cyberbullied on MySpace. Her death incited the nation to take action against cyberbullying.



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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Safety Saturdays (#14) - National Missing Children's Day

You can make a difference in a child's life.
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Talk to a child about safety. Take 25 is a program by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children developed to encourage parents, guardians, and other role models to spend time talking to kids to teach them ways to be safer. Click on the Take 25 button to learn more about risks children face and to find tools to teach them safety concepts, build their confidence and reassure them. Take 25's Conversation Starters page lists questions grouped by age (5-8, 9-12, and 13-17) to assist you in beginning discussions about safety online and offline. The site also has activity ideas and the discussion guidelines listed below:
  • Be Prepared - Spend some time reviewing safety information before you communicate it to your children. That way, you’ll be better able to talk about the topic in a calm, reassuring manner.
  • Consider your child’s age - Gear discussions to your child’s level, taking into account their age and understanding. For instance, a typical four-year-old won’t sit through long explanations or retain a lot of information, so simple visuals and activities can be useful in capturing their interest.
  • Seize opportunities - Instead of waiting for “the right time” to talk to kids, make the most of everyday moments. A relaxed family meal provides the perfect opportunity to get kids to tune into safety messages, especially when favorite foods are on the menu. A car ride to school offers another great chance to talk to kids about safety.
  • Be open - Encourage your children to talk openly about their questions and worries. Let them know you care about what happens to them by setting clear rules, but try not to lecture or criticize.
  • Have fun - Child safety is a serious subject, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an enjoyable time talking about it with your kids. Sing songs, tell stories, play games and interact with your kids in a way that makes them feel safe and loved. You’ll also help reinforce the message if you’re consistent in your approach.

Resources for additional information:

  • Take 25 Safety Tips Poster -Download a list of 25 ways to make kids safer at home, on the net, going to and from school, and out and about.
  • NetSmartz411 is parents' and guardians' premier, online resource for answering questions about Internet safety, computers, and the Web. You can search their library for information or ask the experts a question.
  • NetSmartz Workshop provides on- and offline learning activities for parents to facilitate discussions with their children and teens about Internet safety, including a blog about internet safety.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is a particular topic that you would like to see covered in a future post. (If you are not familiar with blogging, you can still leave a comment below. Just click the anonymous button and type your comment in the text box provided.) Check out all the Safety Saturdays posts for more safety tips. (This is a scheduled post. I am out of the country with limited internet access through May 30. I may have to wait to respond to questions and comments until I return.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Ireland

Today, I embark on my first international trip. I leave for Galway, Ireland Friday afternoon, arriving Saturday morning. Ireland is five hours ahead of East Coast time. I am traveling on business, but I should be able to do some exploring. Here is how one website describes the city:

"With its labyrinthe of winding medieval streets, vibrant, buzzing street life, shopping facilities, wealth of heritage and arts, Galway city is a ramblers paradise. Be warned all rational thought surrenders to a mellow, mystical, timeless dreamworld. It is better to simply drift along and get lost within the town. Galway City has a treasure trove of book stores, and welcomes book lovers to its streets like bees to honey."

Don't you want to go? I cannot wait to explore and take hundreds of pictures. I am excited about the treasure trove of book stores. Leisurely browsing through a bookstore is not a luxury I have often with a four-year-old. I will miss my husband and daughter terribly, but I plan to make the most of my time - writing and reading.

I hope to blog and upload pictures at least once while I am there. Check back for updates. I'll let you know if it really is a timeless dreamworld. Please keep me in your prayers.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Yes to God Study - Final Week


The final chapter (Radically Blessed) of Lysa TerKeurst's book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, encourages us to examine God's word to discover what He wants us to know about His calling on our life. Click on the button above and visit Lelia's blog to read how this study impacted participants.

My relationship with God deepened through reading this book and participating in this study. Deciding to say Yes to God keeps me focused on Him and His will. The more I focus on Him, the more I hear Him, the more opportunities I have to say yes.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored. Romans 8:5-8 (MSG)

Attention to God frees me from myself. When I try to handle everything on my own, I usually end up exhausted from obsession and worry. When stress builds within me, I realize my focus shifted from God to my situation. Trust in God brings peace, even in difficult circumstances. I may not exactly what the future holds, but it is not uncertain. God is in control. As I say yes to Him, He leads me from a dead end of fear to the abundance of faith.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Safety Saturdays (#13) - Take 25

Safety Saturdays today and next Saturdary is devoted to Take 25, a program by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to encourage parents, guardians, and other role models to spend time talking to kids to teach them ways to be safer. Take 25 was started to commemorate National Missing Children’s Day on May 25th. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 2,000 children are reported missing every day, and thankfully, the vast majority of them are recovered quickly.

Parents and guardians can reduce risks children face by teaching them safety concepts, reassuring them, and building their confidence. Click on the Take 25 button to learn more about abduction, sexual exploitation, and internet dangers; discussion guidelines; conversation starters; and activity ideas. The safety tips listed below were taken from the website.

25 ways to make kids safer

At Home

  1. Teach your children their full names, address, and home telephone number. Make sure they know your full name.
  2. Make sure your children know how to reach you at work or on your cell phone.
  3. Teach your children how and when to use 911 and make sure your children have a trusted adult to call if they’re scared or have an emergency.
  4. Instruct children to keep the door locked and not to open the door to talk to anyone when they are home alone. Set rules with your children about having visitors over when you’re not home and how to answer the telephone.
  5. Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask children how the experience with the caregiver was and listen carefully to their responses.

On the Net

  1. Learn about the Internet. The more you know about how the Web works, the better prepared you are to teach your children about potential risks. Visit http://www.netsmartz.org/ for more information about Internet safety.
  2. Place the family computer in a common area, rather than a child’s bedroom. Also, monitor their time spent online and the websites they’ve visited and establish rules for Internet use.
  3. Know what other access your child may have to the Internet at school, libraries, or friends’ homes.
  4. Use privacy settings on social networking sites to limit contact with unknown users and make sure screen names don’t reveal too much about your children.
  5. Encourage your children to tell you if anything they encounter online makes them feel sad, scared, or confused.
  6. Caution children not to post revealing information or inappropriate photos of themselves or their friends online.

At School

  1. Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. If your children ride a bus, visit the bus stop with them to make sure they know which bus to take.
  2. Remind kids to take a friend whenever they walk or bike to school. Remind them to stay with a group if they’re waiting at the bus stop.
  3. Caution children never to accept a ride from anyone unless you have told them it is OK to do so in each instance.

Out and About

  1. Take your children on a walking tour of the neighborhood and tell them whose homes they may visit without you.
  2. Remind your children it’s OK to say NO to anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused and teach your children to tell you if anything or anyone makes them feel this way.
  3. Teach your children to ask permission before leaving home.
  4. Remind your children not to walk or play alone outside.
  5. Teach your children to never approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they know the owner and are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult.
  6. Practice "what if" situations and ask your children how they would respond. “What if you fell off your bike and you needed help? Who would you ask?”
  7. Teach your children to check in with you if there is a change of plans.
  8. During family outings, establish a central, easy-to-locate spot to meet for check-ins or should you get separated.
  9. Teach your children how to locate help at theme parks, sports stadiums, shopping malls, and other public places. Also, identify those people who they can ask for help, such as uniformed law enforcement, security guards and store clerks with nametags.
  10. Help your children learn to recognize and avoid potential risks, so that they can deal with them if they happen.
  11. Teach your children that if anyone tries to grab them, they should make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.

Resources for additional information:

  • Take 25 Safety Tips Poster -Download the above lists of 25 ways to make kids safer at home, on the net, going to and from school, and out and about.
  • NetSmartz411 is parents' and guardians' premier, online resource for answering questions about Internet safety, computers, and the Web. You can search their library for information or ask the experts a question.
  • NetSmartz Workshop provides on- and offline learning activities for parents to facilitate discussions with their children and teens about Internet safety, including a blog about internet safety.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is a particular topic that you would like to see covered in a future post. (If you are not familiar with blogging, you can still leave a comment below. Just click the anonymous button and type your comment in the text box provided.) Check out all the Safety Saturdays posts for more safety tips.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Rubber Chicken Seeks Employment

Gimmicks, used by a job candidate to make his or her resume standout, normally annoy human resource directors. Typically, I do not employ unconventional methods during a job search. However, I received a tip from a friend, who knows the HR director where I was applying, to send a rubber chicken with my resume to increase my chances for an interview.

I delivered plastic poultry, similar to the one pictured above, along with my resume and cover letter, to a business yesterday. My interest in the position, and trust in my friend, led me to risk being referred to as the crazy rubber chicken lady if I get the job. Hopefully, the ploy was more entertaining than annoying. If nothing else, it's humorous blog material.

Stay tuned for poultry updates.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Married with 13 Kids at 4

After Pumpkin told us about her 13 kids and husband, our dinner conversation diverted to the appropriate age for marriage - not an expected discussion with a 4-year-old.

Dad, "Husband? You can get married when you are 50."

Pumpkin, "How old are you Daddy?" (Laughter)

Me, "You do not have to be 50-years-old when you get married."

Pumpkin, "How old should I be, Mommy?"

Simultaneously, Dad, "50." Me, "Maybe 30."

Pumpkin, "I'm listening to my Mommy."

Dad, "Why aren't you listening to me? You should be 50."

Pumpkin, "How old were you when you got married?" (Laughter)

Dad, "You made me laugh with that question."

Me, "Oh, I think you are destined to be a negotiator, Pumpkin."

At 4, she outwits her parents. We're in trouble. Let's go back to what led to the dialogue. 13 kids? Did she say 13 kids? I cannot blame her Dad for focusing on husband? He will always see her this small in his hand.


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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Yes to God Study - Week 8


Chapter 8 (Giving Up What Was Never Ours) of Lysa TerKeurst's book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God discusses how we are managers, not owners, of God's resources. I encourage you to click on the button above and visit Lelia's blog to read what God is doing through this study.

I learned the most from the section titled "The Blessings of a Sacrificial Life." Lysa talks about the opportunities and joy in sacrificial living. "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence (1 John 3:18-19)." I love The Message translation of the verse.

My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're truly living, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. John 3:18-20 (MSG)

Practicing real love, serving others first, is sacrificial living. In reality, God is our source. Everything we have is His. When we present to God what we are holding in our hands, we are truly living. We can rest in His presence because He is in control.

Even if there is something to it, I can let go of the should haves. I should have focused more on saving money. I should have planned my career path better. I should have gotten a Master's degree. If I had, maybe I would be less concerned about losing my job during a recession; maybe it would be easier to find another job. MAYBE, if I had authority over my future.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Proverbs 3:5 (MSG)

God is greater than my worried heart. "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) I surrender my family's future to God. As I say yes to God, I set my heart at rest in His presence.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturdays - Voice of Truth


I love the song "Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns. It always lifts my spirits when I am discouraged or afraid. Last week, the words of this song came to life for me. I was in my car, returning from an interview.

The company where I work was recently purchased by another company, leading to the probability of me losing my job. An unexpected opportunity arose when the new company wanted to interview me for a home based position, as long as I was flexible with some travel. At the interview, I discovered "flexibility" meant traveling at least 60% of the time or relocating to another city. Those choices closed that door of opportunity.

I left the interview frustrated and discouraged. Negative voices filled my head. "It's a recession, not a time to look for a job. I'm afraid of what will happen. I don't want to be afraid. How can I be afraid if I trust God." On the radio, I heard a woman talking about how a song had ministered to her during a difficult time. I said aloud, "Lord, I wish a song would minister to me right now." The next song that played on the radio was the "Voice of Truth."

Tears rolled down my cheeks as sang the words, "The voice of truth tells me a different story. The voice of truth says do not be afraid. The voice of truth says this is for my glory. Out of all the voices calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth."

I thanked God for speaking to me so clearly, drowning out all the other voices. He reminded me to stay focused on him. Do not be afraid. Choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.



What I love most about this video is the scenes of the audience, singing, visibly touched by the song, just as I was in my car. I hope it does the same for you. Click on the button above to discover more great songs through Amy's meme at Signs, Miracles, and Wonders.

Safety Saturdays (#12) - Tracking Teresa

The video below illustrates how a young person, Teresa, tried not to reveal personal information online but left enough clues that she could find herself in danger. It is about 5 minutes long and well worth your time. The Safety Saturdays blog safety post also lists tips on what not post online.

video

Resources for additional information:

  • NetSmartz411 is parents' and guardians' premier, online resource for answering questions about Internet safety, computers, and the Web. You can search their library for information or ask the experts a question.

  • NetSmartz Workshop provides on- and offline learning activities for parents to facilitate discussions with their children and teens about Internet safety, including a blog about internet safety.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is a particular topic that you would like to see covered in a future post. (If you are not familiar with blogging, you can still leave a comment below. Just click the anonymous button and type your comment in the text box provided.) Check out all the Safety Saturdays posts for more safety tips.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Safety Saturdays (#11) - Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online and Offline

ONLINE ACRONYMS

Do all of the acronyms used in text messages, instant messages, chat rooms, social networking sites, and blogs, resemble a foreign language? What is the appeal? It saves time to type less, and parents usually cannot read the message. Try to read the message below and then read the translation.

Are you SITD? It may seem like FMTYEWTK. BTA, WIBNI you understood the QSO? Wouldn't you want to know if the message said A/S/L, WTGP, NIFOC, OLL, or LMIRL? N2M the warnings, such as P911, POS, and TAW. BTW, IHA. I HTH.



Translation:

Are you still in the dark (SITD)? It may seem like far more than you ever wanted to know (FMTYEWTK). But then again (BTA), wouldn't it be nice if (WIBNI) you understood the conversation (QSO). Wouldn't you want to know if the message said age/sex/location (A/S/L), want to go private (WTGP), naked in front of computer (NIFOC), online love (OLL), or let's meet in real life (LMIRL)? Not to mention (N2M), the warnings, such as my parents are coming (P911), parent over shoulder (POS), and teachers are watching (TWA). By the way (BTW), I hate acronyms (IHA). I hope this helps (HTH).



Resources for additional information:

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is a particular topic that you would like to see covered in a future post. (If you are not familiar with blogging, you can still leave a comment below. Just click the anonymous button and type your comment in the text box provided.) Click on the "Safety Saturdays" label to the left to get more safety tips.