Oct 20, 2011

With public influence comes greater responsibility

Okay, so I'm going to start off with a few things we can all agree on:
  • People should know about a topic before they attempt to say anything remotely intelligent on said topic. 
  • People who have an influence on other people should research a topic before they attempt to say anything remotely intelligent on said topic.
  • People who have a wide influence (and know such), who are in the public sphere a lot, who are respected by many have an obligation to research a topic (or at least have assistants do such) before attempting to say anything intelligent on said topic.
  • Basically, people should know what they are talking about before trying to say anything remotely intelligent on a topic, especially if they have an influence on others.
Is there anything terribly controversial about the above words?  If so, contact me and let me know (elnora dot romness at gmail dot com), I would be happy to discuss it.  In fact, feel free to comment on this post and bring up anything you feel I write that may be wrong.  

There is a great deal of ire behind this post, and I will attempt to write it in as constructive a way as possible.  My heart is breaking, and you may see some of this.  But let's get to the matter at hand: Rush Limbaugh pissed me off a few days ago.  I will never respect that man as a reporter, political commentator, or informed citizen ever again.  As a human being worthy of dignity, yes.  As any of the aforementioned things - absolutely not.

Who is Rush Limbaugh?  For those of you who don't know, Limbaugh is a well-known political / world events commentator on major network radio.  He has a show where he interprets daily events in light of his opinion.  Note that his show is opinion based - he is not an objective reporter by any means (and even he would not claim such).  He talks about the day's events in light of his political, religious, and social viewpoints (which, admit it, we all do).  

During the summer of 2006, I was sitting in the living room of my parent's house in California during the summer break between freshman and sophomore years of college.  On the computer, my boyfriend at the time (now husband and papa of my yet unborn child) and I were instant messaging via Google.  I was heartbroken over something in the news and was sharing that with him, and he told me about the Lord's Resistance Army.  Who are they?

The Lord's Resistance Army is a movement in Africa - the Congo, Sudan, and Uganda to be fairly specific - headed by a man named Joseph Kony.  The LRA started in 1987 and has gained momentum ever since.  It is a militant group claiming to be following the will of the Lord in Africa.  Kony is said to be the spokesperson of God and regularly inhabited by the Holy Spirit, at least according to him and his followers.  Kony practices a way of life that includes mysticism and elements of Christianity.

Alright, alright...so what do the LRA and Rush Limbaugh have anything to do in common?  President Obama, that's what.  Recently Obama signed something that authorized the U.S. to mobilize 100 U.S. military trained individuals to "remove from the field" (aka capture and/or kill) the leaders of the LRA.  He says this is in accordance to what he believes is proper action with foreign affairs.  Now, I'm non-violent and rather pacifist.  If someone broke into my house and was stealing my stuff, I'd probably just hand him/her my computer and tell him/her I'm praying for him/her and I hope they find a new way of life.  I do not condone by any measure the use of killing people as a means to end anything.  Let's keep that in mind.

Rush Limbaugh got his knickers in a bunch and on his radio show (click here for a transcript of the broadcast) said that Obama has effectively authorized the mass murder of Christians who are simply practicing their faith and fighting against Muslims in Africa.

Limbaugh was WRONG.

The LRA is about as Christian as Hitler.  Sure, they are called the "Lord's" Resistance Army and their mission statement is something along the lines of removing dictatorship and oppressive powers from their lands.  Whatever. Kony claims to be inhabited with the Holy Spirit and leads his Army to conduct its action in the name of God.  What God?  He claims the God of the Bible.  Oh really?  Let's examine this:
  • The original founder of the movement from which the LRA sprang distanced herself from the current movement after Kony took over, saying the brutality displayed by his army is inhuman.
  • The UN has documented massacres conducted by the LRA in the name of their cause (on average, they massacre several hundred people per month).
  • When the LRA sweeps over a village in one of the aforementioned countries, a few things happen:
    • Children are kidnapped and forced into being child soldiers.  They are brainwashed to practically worship Kony, and are told he can appear and disappear at will.
    • If the children rebel against the LRA soldiers who have captured them, they are physically mutilated, tortured, and/or killed.  Oh, and the parents of these children are often killed.  (For a photo of a young man, abducted by the LRA as a child, who rebelled and suffered consequences, click here.)
    • Women and young girls are kept for LRA soldiers as concubines and sex slaves.
    • Anyone who refuses to join their movement is physically mutilated, tortured, raped, and/or killed.  Here's an example of one of their massacres: Makombo massacre
    • For a great summary of the LRA, click here.
Back to Limbaugh: let's put some of his claims (in red) against facts (in blue).  
  • The LRA is a Christian organization being persecuted by the US for being Christian.
    • While I'm sure religious conspiracy theorists would love to believe this is true, the truth of the matter is that the US is stepping in an attempt to stop a group that has visited murder, rape, child molestation, physical mutilation, displacement, property damage, and other heinous acts upon fellow humans who disagree with them.  If the LRA is a Christian organization, I'm an uncle (I'm a woman, by the way).  
  • Obama is persecuting Christians for practicing their faith and fighting against Muslims.
    • Joseph Kony is leading a group, several thousand bodies strong, interested in intimidation and the gathering of personal power.  They are not practicing Christian faith.  1) God says to worship no one but him.  The children are taught to worship Kony as God on Earth.  2) God is a God of love.  Nothing resembling love of any sort is coming out of the "fruit" of that Army.  3) When his disciple cut the ear off a person who was bringing Jesus out of the garden, Jesus healed the soldier.  4) Nowhere in the Bible is rape condoned.  Nowhere.  Not for any purpose.  5) The Bible tells Christians to avoid mysticism (in fact, Samuel gets rather cranky at Saul for contacting him after Samuel had already died).  Kony and the rest of the LRA conduct practices deeply steeped in mystical elements based on early African religions.
  • There are only 500 soldiers in the LRA, so they are not a huge threat.
    • Couple things wrong with this one - one person harboring malevolence towards a group of people is a huge threat to that group.  The LRA is a huge threat to those in the Sudan, Congo, and Uganda who do not agree with LRA ideology (oh, by the way - they massacre Christians during services in church too.)
    • The UN reports the LRA may be several thousand strong.  Of course the Ugandan government is estimating low on how many people are a part of this - the LRA is a political embarrassment. Limbaugh, is several thousand a bigger threat than 500, or should we just dismiss that "low" number too?  After all, it took less than 100 people to hijack plans and smack them into buildings all over our country. 
Let's get a couple of things straight: I avoid politics like the plague.  If you want to talk to me about the latest bill being run through Congress, or what the Right and Left are fighting about now, you are talking to the absolute wrong person - I don't care.  Those conversations will be countered with me asking what you plan on doing to feed starving kids in Haiti.  Be prepared.

What this post is getting at is the point that Rush Limbaugh, a man who has immense influence amongst many conservatives in the United States (and abroad) made a sweeping generalization about what President Obama is doing.  This sweeping generalization was obviously made with NO research done on the "Christian group" President Obama is supposedly directly attacking.  

Limbaugh apparently later realized his mistake, as he said a little while later in the transcript that apparently the LRA is being accused with heinous crimes and he'd have to do his research.  


My prayer is that people will actually do their own research on the LRA before agreeing with Limbaugh's blatantly false, uninformed statements.  The LRA needs to be stopped, and it needed to be stopped twenty years ago when the massacres and mutilations began.  No child should live in fear of having his/her nose cut off if he/she does not worship some man.  In my opinion, Joseph Kony and the commanders of his army need to be gathered up and tried for crimes against humanity.  I fully support President Obama's desire to end this awful movement, whether or not I support the means he has chosen to do so.

Mr. Limbaugh - do your research before you say something blatantly wrong about a topic.  You just made yourself look like a fool.

Oct 9, 2011

Week 14

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Week 14 for Baby.  According to BabyCenter.com:

"This week's big developments: Your baby can now squint, frown, grimace, pee, and possibly suck his thumb! Thanks to brain impulses, his facial muscles are getting a workout as his tiny features form one expression after another. His kidneys are producing urine, which he releases into the amniotic fluid around him — a process he'll keep up until birth. He can grasp, too, and if you're having an ultrasound now, you may even catch him sucking his thumb.     In other news: Your baby's stretching out. From head to bottom, he measures 3 1/2 inches —about the size of a lemon — and he weighs 1 1/2 ounces. His body's growing faster than his head, which now sits upon a more distinct neck. By the end of this week, his arms will have grown to a length that's in proportion to the rest of his body. (His legs still have some lengthening to do.) He's starting to develop an ultra-fine, downy covering of hair, called lanugo, all over his body. Your baby's liver starts making bile this week — a sign that it's doing its job right — and his spleen starts helping in the production of red blood cells. Though you can't feel his tiny punches and kicks yet, your little pugilist's hands and feet (which now measure about 1/2 inch long) are more flexible and active."
Okay, yes - I'll admit that it seems gross that Baby is peeing in his/her own amniotic fluid...mostly because I also know Baby is swallowing it.  Somehow that just seems gross.  On the plus side, there is absolutely no way for that fluid exchanged to NOT be sterile, considering Baby is as close to living a bubble life right now as hopefully s/he will ever have encounter.

Yes, it's unreal that we were all this small at one point.  :)

There are sympathy pregnancy symptoms going around the women in my family: my sister Jenny was having cravings and so has my mom (though I have to admit, green olives on a peanut butter sandwich still sound gross...sorry Mom!).  Funny how that works.  =)

AND - since a) Baby is in second trimester (yay!) and b) everything was confirmed okay after the troublesome events of last week, and c) I found the cord that connects my camera to laptop, here are some pregger pics (keep in mind that since I'm still barely bumping, the time between dinner and the picture being taken can make a noticeable difference in how pregger I look - the best pics of indication are the ones where I am attempting to suck my gut in):

Week 10

Week 14

   Week 14

Oct 7, 2011

NEW school in Luly!!

So, I work for a non-profit called World Wide Village - an organization whose mission is to transform lives, empower communities, and love people.  God is the reason we do any of this - it is his love within us that compels us to work in a country that breaks the heart of many humanitarians.  Some wonder why World Wide Village works in Haiti.  Don't we know we'll never be able to save the entire country?  Aren't we cognizant of the fact that people have been working in Haiti for awhile and people are still starving? 

Oh baloney!  God is bigger than all of the so-called "here is why the world thinks you shouldn't work in Haiti"!  Want proof?  Click here!!

Here's the story -- in January 2010 there was a devastating earthquake in Haiti.  The church where school was held in the community of Luly was rendered completely structurally unsound, to the tune of WWV organizers being nervous with people even setting foot in the building.  Locals fashioned walls out of banana leaves and made a temporary shelter for the kids to continue classes.  Banana leaves do not hold up well to elements, and so the shelter pretty much dissolved within a few months -- torrential rains kind of have that affect.

The kids moved back into the structurally unsound building because they had nowhere else to hold class.

God roused World Wide Village into action!  Loving the people of Haiti means we were compelled to HAVE to do something!  We rallied supporters and gathered donations from individuals, companies, churches, etc.  Then Digicel, Haiti's largest cell phone carrier, came alongside the school and funded the rest of construction.  The school was built bigger and better than we expected...what a blessing!

This past Tuesday was the opening ceremony for the brand-new Luly Community School.  Some recognizable faces were in attendance - Miley Cyrus, Haitian President Martelly, Bill and Tani Austin from Starkey Hearing Foundation, as well as Randy and Pat Mortensen and WWV staff on the ground in Haiti.

Just look through the pictures above - I nearly started crying for joy.  ALSO: President Martelly guaranteed free tuition at the school for all students!  Woot woot!

I was at this school when visiting Haiti with WWV in January - it was completely heartbreaking, and the children are amazing, and it is an absolute blessing from God that these kids have a new (safe) school in which to study.  As someone who came from a poor background, I can testify that education is often the key to making a brighter, more stable future.  Praise God that the 304 students who attended on Wednesday are getting that chance!  :)

Now excuse me while I go happy-dance.  :)

Oct 4, 2011

Everything is okay

We went to the doctor yesterday morning.  Never have I been more scared in my life.  I showered as much with my own tears that morning as I did with actual water...all the while praying that God would work His will and help me be okay whatever that meant.

Well, the midwife was able to get me in for an appointment at 9:00am.  I got excused from class for the day by a very understanding professor who basically forbade me from setting foot in her classroom that day (she has three children).  Dahmon was told to "just leave" by his professor, so he met me at the clinic.  When he walked in, sat down next to me, and just held me, I started crying in earnest.  He was my support, and I'm very glad that he can maintain a calm demeanor when I'm freaking out.  =)

Anyways, they got us in and I nearly lept for joy when the midwife was able to find the heartbeat almost immediately (though my fear did not allow me to believe her until I had my hand on my own pulse and verified for myself that it was not my heart that we could hear).  Baby's heart is still going strong.

But what was causing the bleeding?  Turns out that I had something called a subchorionic hemorrhage.  This is basically when a blood vessel below a placenta disconnects or doesn't connect properly.  A pool of blood can form, and uteri do not like blood in them.  Therefore, my uterus was dispelling the blood that had collected due to a broken blood vessel under the placenta.  The ultrasound tech said that sometimes the hemorrhage can cause a miscarriage, depending on how much of the placenta separates from the uterine wall, but in our case we should be fine.  I am, however, ordered to take it easy for the next couple of weeks.  The midwife warned me that there may continue to be some bleeding for up to a week or so, but that these hemorrhages have a habit of healing themselves.

So we learned something now, gained a whole new appreciation of the fragility of life from an angle I don't care to revisit, and got a new picture of Little Bit.  What a lot of growth in 3 weeks!  (See previous post for ultrasound at 11 weeks).

I got tickled because Dahmon commented that Baby wasn't moving.  The technician shushed him, saying that he'd jinx things (she was trying to get measurements that are really hard to get on a moving baby).  Sure enough, our little Dibbun started moving.  Secretly, I was relieved - after a scare like that and almost 24 straight hours of pure adrenaline, Baby moving was the best thing it could have done for Momma's sanity!

Praise the Lord for the blessing of protecting our child during what could have threatened Baby's life!  To God be the glory of the creation of life in the first place, and for being my comfort during the entire ordeal.  We'd contacted a number of friends and had them praying - seriously it was only God and the solidarity of concerned friends that got me mentally through all of this.  Oh, and Dahmon of course.  =)

Oct 2, 2011

Week 13

     A friend kindly reminded me that I haven't updated in awhile, so here goes:  I'm officially over nausea and morning sickness, so that is good.  :)  (yayz!).  Have definitely felt more human over the past week, which I'm sure Dahmon appreciates as he doesn't have to deal with cranky, nauseous wife as much.  Tummy is definitely starting to stick out more, and meals have definitely started getting smaller and more frequent.  I'm not a very big person in the first place, so there aren't a whole lot of options for my shifting organs to go but out as they make room for Baby.

     Today has been a long, scary day.  This morning I was cramping pretty badly while at church...was a tad worried but didn't think much of it because you have to get used to a certain amount of discomfort when pregnant.  The worry, however, started shortly after I got home and began bleeding.  Actual blood.  Not good.  So I told Dahmon what was going on, freaked out and was crying while talking to the nurse.  She said it was 50/50 whether I go in to the ER or not, but given that I was not going into shock and the severity of the things I described to her (which in her mind were not as bad as they were in my mind), she erred on the side of putting me on bedrest for the day.
     Daniel threatened to call our parents and tattle on me if he caught me not taking it easy at all today.  Younger brothers, yeesh!  (Secretly I love him caring enough to get bossy sometimes, but don't tell him that.)

     The bleeding and cramping have kept up for much of the day.  I called the nurse hotline back partway through the day because I freaked out again...but she said I basically needed to just take it easy.  If this is a miscarriage in progress, there is nothing that can be done to stop the process.  Given some online research I did this afternoon, about 1 in 4 women experience some bleeding during their pregnancies.  About 50% of those women go on to have healthy pregnancies.  Obviously, I hope to be a part of that 50%, but for now I'm going to be real with ya'll and just state flat out that I'm freaked out.  God calls us to trust in him, but no amount of trust in the Lord guarantees an automatic healing when something ails a loved one, even if that loved one is not born.  Can God heal anything?  Of course.  Does that mean said healing is automatic and to be expected no matter what?  Nope.  My prayer is that God do what he needs to do according to his will and help me be okay with whatever that means.

     So we are beginning week 13 - fingerprints are in place.  Veins and organs would be visible through Baby's skin (which I hope remains invisible to our eyes for the next 27 weeks!) were we to see It.  Body is starting to catch up with its head.  It is about 3 inches long (apparently the size of a medium shrimp).  AND if it is a girl, then its eggs are already formed!

     Please pray that Baby is safe.  I'm a little scared, but trusting the Lord.

     Here's a pictographic representation of Wk 13 baby (I'll start posting actual pregger pics of me once these three things happen: a) Baby is officially in the second trimester, b) we verify that everything is alright after the worrisome events of today, and c) we find the cord that connects camera to computer.  : )