reb•e•lu•tion (reb’el lu shen) n. a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture.

7/28/2006

Multitasking May Harm Memory

An interesting addition to our series on multitasking.
By JOANNA SCHAFFHAUSEN
ABC News, July 25, 2006

People who learn something new while multitasking are less able to recall what they've learned later on, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found in a new study. They tested subjects on a simple memory task while at the same time asking them to count the number of random tones they heard while learning. Multitasking didn't harm memory during the learning but appeared to make it more difficult to retrieve what was learned later.

Writing about these results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, neuroscientists speculate that having distractions around when you're trying to make a new memory causes the distractions to get so tangled up with the memory that you end up needing the distraction to be able to get the memory back out of storage. For example, if you listen to the radio while studying for a test, you end up needing the music to be recall what you learned. The memory recall becomes less flexible and more dependent on the situation.
Click here for a more in-depth look at the new study.

7/26/2006

Multitasking: Mental Obesity

"The pursuit of maximum moments drives many a multitasking life and an often-distracted mind," writes Carolyn Curiel in her recent New York Times opinion piece. "We think of America as a sleep-deprived nation, but we are becoming deep-thought deprived, too. A closed door does not stop interruptions, because we are packing the weapons that can shatter concentration or quiet contemplation. Our fingers are always on a button."

Even before computers, cellphones, and other wireless technology, the radio was placed in homes and then cars, helping to fill the dead air that accompanies housework and long rides. But now, technology has pushed our escape from quiet thought to dizzying new heights where we never have enough time to mull over a question that requires a long, complicated answer, because we're constantly beckoned by a million distractions. In the Information Age many of us are a mile wide and an inch deep.

The following words, spoken by Francis Schaeffer decades ago, are increasingly relevant to our generation: "No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place for quiet," he notes, "because when you are quiet, you have to face reality. But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaningleness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise."

Such escapism makes sense for non-Christians, yet most Christians act the same way -- escaping from meaningful thought through the distraction of technology. I can remember many times when I've felt particularly thoughtful, but then the computer would beckon me. Ten minutes later I would have read a few emails, checked the comment section of our blog, browsed Google News and in the end, entirely lost my train of thought. Oh well, it probably wasn't important. Was it?

Afraid Of Our Own Thoughts
When was the last time any of us took just twenty, undistracted minutes to think about deep, substantial things, like our future or our relationship with God? Did you know that we probably couldn't? Through media our minds have been conditioned (or perhaps de-conditioned) to avoid deep or prolonged thought. We must constantly be moving and doing, but never thinking and planning. Every empty space must be filled with music or movies or Internet or texting or IMing. Every empty space must be filled, except the one between our ears.

By God's grace nearly every distraction we face has an ON and OFF switch, a STOP and PLAY button, or an OPEN and QUIT option. Though technology is increasingly prevalent and our generation faces a media onslaught 24/7, we are not forced to watch, listen or play.

We don't have to listen to our iPods while we're doing the dishes. We don't have to text message anyone while we're riding in the car. We don't have to surf the Internet while we're doing our homework. We don't have to play video games after dinner.

Ironically, we can quit, close or turn off all of these distractions, but we can't do the same to our minds. Our minds can't be shut down. They can only be overpowered, distracted, corrupted and/or atrophied, and that is exactly what our culture is trying to do to them.

I'll be honest, when I have to do a monotonous job like washing the dishes, weeding the yard or mowing the large field at the front of our property, the first thing I reach for is my iPod. When I'm bored my first inclination is to get on the computer and surf the Internet.

The questions I have to ask myself are: "Is there really so little in my own brain that I couldn't occupy myself for a little while with my own thoughts? Has there really been no sermon or book or passage of Scripture that has sufficiently challenged me recently that I could meditate on and think about?"

We fail to realize what an insult it is to our own intellects that we can't occupy ourselves with our own thoughts but must be constantly entertained by other things. We fail to see how dangerous it is not to ponder important questions about who we are and where we're going.

"As Christians," writes Schaeffer, "we must follow God's absolute moral standards, and we must not be robbed of a place of quietness with God." (See Eph. 5:18-19)

"Both in in theory and practice Christians can dare to face the realities of life unclouded, " he concludes. "We do not need these things to fill the crannies of our lives. In fact, we should want to face reality: the glory of the world God has created and the wonder of being human -- yes, and even the awful reality of the Fall and the tragedy of marred men and women, even our own flawed character. We are not to be people of escape. The Christian is to be the realist. To face reality as born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit is the Christian's calling."

Technology Is Not The Problem
Of course, the problem is not with technology -- Schaeffer was addressing these same issues long before Steve Jobs ever dreamt of the iPod. Rather, the problem is the way and the frequency with which we have decided to use technology. This means that for most of us the question is not whether to have a cellphone, but instead whether the cellphone will be helpful, used as a tool, or distracting, used as a toy.

There are countless profitable ways to occupy our minds, even with the gadgets that often distract us. I almost exclusively use my iPod to listen to sermons or other audio messages that stretch and strengthen my mind, I frequently find thought-provoking articles online and I occasionally have IM conversations that I feel sharpen me.

The key is to make sure that our use of technology is supplementing our thought life, not distracting from it; that it is providing opportunity for deep thought -- not keeping our minds constantly busy dealing with new articles, IM conversations, and song lyrics.

Just as it is ridiculous to think that a constant intake of food will benefit our bodies, it is also ridiculous to think that a constant torrent of information will improve our minds. Like food, information must be carefully selected and properly digested to fulfill its God-given purpose.

Unfortunately, the selection and digestion process takes time that our generation lacks because we can't say no to mental distractions. We're constantly feeding our minds mental snacks but never allowing for quiet reflection or thoughtful meditation. Worse still, we're feeding ourselves "junk food" thoughts -- high entertainment value, all sugar, and no nutrition.

The result is a generation of fatties. If you think physical obesity is a problem in America wait until you see our nation's brains. Mental obesity is the curse of the Information Age.

If we want to lose mental weight we'll need to go on a radical diet -- cutting the fluffy junk food and replacing it with solid, nutritious cuisine. We'll need to get off our behinds and start excercising. We'll need to do hard things by thinking hard thoughts.

Read: Intro / Productivity / Thought Life / Relationships / Closing

7/25/2006

Abraham Cherrix: The Sean Hannity Show

Around 4:30 PM (EST) this afternoon, Abraham Cherrix and his father joined talk show radio host Sean Hannity on the Sean Hannity Show. Below are some excerpts from the 10-minute segment. Abraham is scheduled to appear on FOX's Hannity and Colmes this evening. The show starts at 9 PM (EST).
Throughout the interview Mr. Hannity made it clear that, while he would most likely go with conventional treatment if he were in Abraham's place, he still admired, respected, and supported Abraham in his fight for alternative treatment. At the beginning of the segment, however, the conversation focused primarily on the details of today's decision.
HANNITY: [Y]ou got a new decision that came out just earlier today.

ABRAHAM: Yes, we did. We got a very surprising decision and it was very good.

HANNITY: And that is that you do not have to report to this Norfolk hospital for treatment today.

ABRAHAM: That's correct. As a matter of fact, the judge says that social services no longer have partial custody of me and that I do not have to report to the hospital, our stay has been accepted, and that basically, any court information from the previous hearings are now gone and we're starting anew in the Circuit Court with Judge Tyler.
There has been some question as to what issue the Circuit Court was being asked to rule on. Mr. Cherrix answered this question on the show:
MR. CHERRIX: [W]hat it amounts to is that the judge said that this actually isn't a juvenile issue here, what it is is it's an adult issue and they're going to determine whether or not Abraham's parents, me and Rose, are guilty or not guilty of medical neglect.
At one point, Mr. Hannity asked Abraham a question that many people have probably wondered: Does he think about the possibility of dying because of his decision to pursue alternative treatment?
HANNITY: Abraham, let me ask you a very tough question. I've come to be very impressed with you and your knowledge of your disease, your knowledge of your situation, your seeking alternative remedies, I think it's really admirable.

ABRAHAM: Thank you.

HANNITY: But at the end of the day if you make a wrong decision it could result in your life.

ABRAHAM: Yes.

HANNITY: Do you think about that?

ABRAHAM: Well, I really can't think about that, you know?

HANNITY: But don't you have to?

ABRAHAM: Well, there's always that possibility and, yes, you can look at it. But if I'm going to get better I have to maintain a positive attitude.

HANNITY: No, I agree with that.

ABRAHAM: I cannot look into the future, as I said before, and say, This is going to happen to me and I'm so scared. I can't wake up every morning and say, Oh, my gosh, I'm going to die. You know, I wake up every morning and I say, I'm going to live, and I strive to meet that goal.

So there's that possibility that somewhere along this line we made a wrong decision. But you know what? If I die, I'll die happy, and I will die healthy, and I will die in my home with my family, not in a hospital bed, bedridden and sick.
Mr. Cherrix also said on the program that the court date has been set for Wednesday, August 16th. That gives them a little over three weeks. Please keep the Cherrix family and their lawyers in your prayers as they prepare for the ongoing battle. Most importantly, pray for healing.
For full coverage of Abraham's story, click here.

Confirmed: Circuit Court Puts Hold on Chemo

Judge Glen Allen Taylor has suspended the ruling that ordered Abraham to undergo more chemotherapy. (Image: WTKR.com)
Spunky Homeschool has confirmed earlier reports that Abraham Cherrix will not have to report for chemotherapy today and will remain with his family. The Accomack County Circuit Court judge has set aside the order of Judge Demps and a new court date is being set in the higher court.

From the WAVY-TV report:
A circuit court judge has suspended the orders from a lower court requiring Accomack County teen Abraham Cherrix to report Tuesday to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk for mandatory therapy to treat his cancer.
The battle is not over, but there is hope. Keep Abraham and his family in your prayers. Please consider expressing your support through a financial donation.

UPDATE #1
WAVY-TV is reporting that:
In addition, the judge suspended the order requiring that Cherrix' parents share custody over Abraham with Child Protective Services.
UPDATE #2
Response to Judge Glen Allen Taylor's decision to suspend the previous court order:

Abraham: "I feel free today. I was let off the leash." (Source: Richmond Times Dispatch)

Mrs. Cherrix: "We feel like we are going to get to at least be heard this time. We don't feel like we were heard before." (Source: WVEC.com)

Virginia Attorney General, Bob McDonnell: "I applaud the Circuit Court's action in ordering a stay of the lower court order that Abraham Cherrix must receive chemotherapy beginning today... [A]ll citizens are entitled to the right to appeal a district court case, and to have their cases heard anew in the circuit court... It would have been a violation of Abraham Cherrix's due process rights if the lower court order had been implemented prior to an appeal. The interests of justice required that a stay be granted. Our thoughts and concerns are with Abraham and his family as they continue their battle against cancer."

The family wept and embraced when the decision was announced. Read the updated AP story.

UPDATE #3
WAVY-TV on Hampton Roads has been giving extensive news coverage to the Abraham Cherrix case. You can find a link to their video coverage of Judge Allen's decision by clicking here.
For full coverage of Abraham's story, click here.

Video: Abraham on Hannity and Colmes

Watch Abraham Cherric, his father, Jay, and his lawyer, John Stepanovich, on FOX's Hannity and Colmes last night. Click on the image above to launch the movie or just click here. A partial transcript is included below.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Abraham, first of all, you went through chemo. It didn't work. It nearly killed you. You wanted an alternative and you found one. Correct?

ABRAHAM CHERRIX, CANCER PATIENT: That's right.

HANNITY: First of all, I know I speak for this audience. We want you to get well at the end of all this and you shouldn't be having to be fighting this in court.

A judge is compelling you to go to a hospital and receive therapy that you don't want to receive, chemotherapy tomorrow. Have you decided what you're going to do?

A. CHERRIX: Yes, I have. I'm not going to receive chemotherapy, no matter what. This is my body, the body that God gave to me and in the Bible it says for me to take care of this body. It's my temple.

And I believe strongly that I have the right to take and do with my body as I please to do with it, because if you don't — are not able to do with your body what you want to, then you have no rights whatsoever.

HANNITY: I guess I'll ask your father and your attorney. I mean, are we headed for a showdown tomorrow where, when Abraham doesn't show up, Jay or John, he doesn't show up, that they're going to strap him on a gurney and force chemotherapy into his body? Is that what's going to happen?

JAY CHERRIX, FATHER: I can't believe that, in the country that we live in, all the freedoms that we fought for, that there would be somebody in this country who would do that to this young man who's made his decision and doesn't want it.

HANNITY: But Jay, you may lose your son as a result of this. You may be — you may be held in contempt of court. Both of you may end up in jail as a result of this. Have they told you the consequences would be about your decision tomorrow?

J. CHERRIX: Well, the decision is for me and his mother to present him. And I suppose that if — if we don't sign the waivers which they want us to sign, then we'll be held in contempt, and I suppose that that's a small price to pay for freedom.

If they want to incarcerate me because of the belief that we have that this is the best policy, this is the best direction we can go, to find a cure for this child that we really love, then that's a price I'm willing to pay.

Read the rest of the transcript by clicking here.
For full coverage of Abraham's story, click here.

Abraham Cherrix: Tuesday Update

This post will be updated with Tuesday's news throughout the day.
Abraham Cherrix will appear before the Accomac County Circuit Court this afternoon at 12 o'clock. (Original Image: USA TODAY)
The Court Case
Last Friday's ruling ordered Abraham and his parents to appear at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk by 1 PM (EST) today and to consent to whatever treatment doctors deemed necessary. Namely, chemotherapy and radiation.

Yesterday Abraham's lawyers requested that Judge Jesse Demps stay the order until the case could be appealed to the Accomack County Circuit Court. That petition was denied.

But his lawyers, Barry Taylor and John Stepanovich, also asked the county's Circuit Court to take over the case and grant the stay. According to Stepanovich a hearing is set for noon today at that court and Abraham and his parents will be there.

The courthouse is about 80 miles from the hospital in Norfolk, which means that Abraham would not be able to get to the Children's Hospital at the court-appointed time, even if he wanted to.

But since yesterday, Abraham and family have made it clear that they have no plans to consent. In fact, they're determined not to.

"I'll fight until I do die. I'm not going to let it go," Abraham said Monday by phone from his home in Chincoteague. "I would rather die healthy and strong and in my house than die in a hospital bed, bedridden and unable to even open my eyes."

"I've got nothing to lose by what I'm doing," he added. "I truly do believe that this (alternative treatment) is going to cure me." (Source: WTKR.com)

If the Circuit Court upholds Judge Demp's ruling, Abraham's parents may be held in contempt of court. That means they could face losing custody entirely or even jail time. Mr. Cherrix said yesterday that they're ready for the consequences.

"I'm not going to be an obstacle to my son. If a judge wants to throw me in jail, then he's going to have to do that."

Still, Mr. Cherrix said he is confident that "a judge somewhere will stop this madness." If a stay is not granted, he said, the family will "search our consciences and do what's right."

Art Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, says that the judge's order could be difficult to enforce.

"I don't think they're going to want to shackle Abraham to the table and try to give him chemotherapy," he said. "If he's uncooperative, he could wind up not getting treated. It's hard for me to imagine the state police holding him in a straight jacket."

UPDATE #1
The Circuit Court has granted Abraham's request to stay Judge Demp's order. The Associated Press is reporting:
A judge has set aside a court order requiring a 16-year-old cancer patient to report to a hospital for treatment over his objections. (Source: WTKR.com)
UPDATE #2
Circuit Court judge Glen Allen Taylor has also suspended the ruling that Abraham's custody be shared between his parents and the Department of Social Services for Attomac County. (Source: Richmond Times Dispatch)

Read more coverage of the Circuit Court's decision here.

Mainstream News Coverage
Over at Townhall.com, opinion writer Cal Thomas shares his thoughts:
In an age when we continue to debate "a woman's right to choose" when it comes to a girl aborting her baby and we are told that it is the girl's body and no one else should make decisions affecting it, a boy has no such rights. A girl can be given birth control by the school nurse and even abortion information without her parents knowledge or consent, but a boy can be prohibited from making decisions that affect his life and body. At least the courts are consistent. They forbid parental involvement in either case. In some states, though, parents are held responsible for their kids' illegal and anti-social behavior. Why is it that parents supposedly have power to keep their kids from committing crimes, but can be denied power when it comes to their child's health and welfare?

Cal Thomas: A teen's Y chromosome problem
Across the Blogosphere
Check out Spunky Homeschool's morning post for a roundup of bloggers covering the story. Spunky is doing an absolutely terrific job getting the word out and keeping people updated.

UPDATE: Agent Tim has also posted about Abraham's story:
What is scary about this issue is really summed up in this quote.

“With the court’s decision on Abraham Cherrix, conventional medicine has once against proven itself to be grounded in tyranny. That oncologists must use intimidation and the threat of arrest to scare patients away from safer, natural treatments is a powerful indicator of the sad state of desperation to which the cancer industry has sunk in order to acquire paying customers.”

I hope I am not being too cynical, but I don’t believe they will ever find a cure for cancer — they wouldn’t make enough money.

Please pray for Abraham, Katie, and others like them who are losing not only a legal battle, but also a battle for their very lives.

Agent Tim Online: A Fight for More Than Life
Online Video Roundup
WTKR News Channel 3 of Hampton Roads, VA has been giving a lot of coverage to the Abraham Cherrick story and has video of their coverage available online. To view recent coverage, click here.
For full coverage of Abraham's story, click here.

7/24/2006

Abraham Cherrix: The Ballad of Abraham

Abraham's personal site includes a song written about him by Charles Lowery. Entitled "The Ballad of Abraham," the song tells the story of Abraham's fight with cancer and the courts up until just before last weekend's rulling. The Rebelution has transcripted the words of the song (below). You listen to it by clicking here.
The Ballad of Abraham
Written and Recorded by Charles Lowery

Down in Chincoteague, Virginia a teenager brave and strong / He loves to paddle the water and study all the stars / His parents run a local business, kayaking, the waters around the land / They homeschool their five children, the oldest is Abraham

Now Abraham is fifteen years old, he's lean and he is tall / He helps his dad with the kayak tours, all the tourists, they know him well / He studies the ecology and the environment around his home / He helps raise his brothers and sisters, they all love him so

Now some might call it paradise, the island where he lives / Living so close to nature has made him a unique kid / It was a heartbreak to the family when the doctor had to tell / Of the cancer in his body, but Abraham, he took it well

He resigned himself to chemotherapy and the weaker he became / He never lost his smile, he said, "I'll be healthy again" / For over a year he struggled, he had health and love and hope / But the treatment wasn't working, more chemo, he'd have to cope

Then the parents, they did a lot of research, as many families do / They decided with their son that maybe chemo wasn't the cure / Abraham said the chemo was killing his body, and so / He said he'd have no more of it, a natural cure became his goal

So they went to California and down to Mexico / They found a cancer clinic they believed reliable / The family they were satisfied with the treatment that was prescribed / A natural alternative method, Abraham said, "I will survive"

Then someone informed the authorities and they called it child abuse / The judge ordered tests for more chemo and he said there's no excuse / Your parents will lose custody the law you must obey / Abraham went to the hospital, refused the tests, he said, "No way"

Now the fight is just beginning, what will the judge decide? / Take Abraham away from his family, the loved ones in his life? / The doctors say either way his chances are not good / His life is the hands of God, this, Abraham understood

How can they force the chemo on a young man who will refuse? / How can they force a family which method is best to choose? / How can they take Abraham from the family that he loves? / Do you think that this will help him? The doctor said, "Not very much"

Abraham's father has a message to the families of our land / He said, "I am a combat veteran, I fought in Vietnam?" / "But this is the worst thing that I've ever been through" / "Go tell you children you love them and pray this never happens to you"
For full coverage of Abraham's story, click here.

Abraham Cherrix: Monday Update

Legal Case Status
At 10:30 AM (EST) this morning, lawyers John Stepanovich and Barry Taylor filed an appeal on Abraham Cherrix's behalf at the Accomack County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. They also filed a motion to stay Friday's ruling and order until after the appeal is heard in the Circuit Court of Accomack County. According to Stepanovich, they will also request a "trial de novo," which means the Circuit Court would try the case as if no other court had heard testimony -- effectively starting with a blank slate. They are still awaiting a response.

UPDATE: One of Abraham's lawyers is reported as saying that if Abraham is forced to comply with the order, because "there's no way to undo the chemotherapy and radiation," it would essentially end their path to further appeals. (Source: AP)

Abraham Cherrix, 16 years old, in his Chincoteague, VA home.
(Photo: Steve Helber, AP)
Mainstream News Coverage
The Cherrix family has still declined to speak to the press since last weekend's rulling, but regardless, several news reports have been published in the past few days, including a lengthy ABC News report entitled Defiant and Exhausted, Teens Refuse Cancer Treatments that documents several teens' stories that closely parallel Abraham's fight for alternative cancer treatment.

Across the Blogosphere
The team of The Rebelution and SpunkyHomeschool have proven to be effective in spreading Abraham's story across the blogosphere. Below are excerpts from some other bloggers who have covered the story:
The Supreme Court has also ruled in favor of parental rights in medical decisions:

Simply because the decision of a parent is not agreeable to a child or because it involves risks does not automatically transfer the power to make that decision from the parents to some agency or officer of the state... Most children, even in adolescence, simply are not able to make sound judgments concerning many decisions, including their need for medical care or treatment. Parents can and must make those judgments. Here, there is no finding by the District Court of even a single instance of bad faith by any parent of any member of appellees’ class... The fact that a child may balk at hospitalization or complain about a parental refusal to provide cosmetic surgery does not diminish the parents’ authority to decide what is best for the child... Neither state officials nor federal courts are equipped to review such parental decisions.Parnham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979)

Ironically, this treatment is agreeable to the child. While it harbors risks, conventional treatment does as well. Abraham has researched the treatment options and determined he is willing to take the risks associated with his alternative treatment plan. His parents have determined him competent to do so and have supported him in this. Where does the state have the authority to intervene in the health decisions of individuals?

Homeland Stupidity: Abraham Cherrix and Patient's Rights
Dr. Albert Mohler shares his thoughts and gives a timely warning:
The real issue here is the right of parents -- rather than a social worker -- to determine the medical treatment of their own children. Note carefully that Abraham's parents have not refused him all medical treatment. He has already undergone one round of arduous chemotherapy. They have allowed him to determine that another round of chemotherapy is not in his own best interest.

What is next? This case sends a chilling signal to America's parents. Christian parents should take special note of this case, for the logic of this court would allow state intrusion into many of the decisions Christian parents make for their own children, ranging from education to discipline.

Let us all pray for Abraham Cherrix -- a brave young man in the fight of his life.

Al Mohler: The Right Medical Treament for Your Child -- Who Decides?
Abraham's Website Live
Abraham's website AbrahamsJourney.com, which was down last weekend (possibly due to high traffic), is up again. It includes information for those who are interested in helping Abraham and his family financially. Click here for the donation page.
For full coverage of Abraham's story, click here.

7/22/2006

Abraham Cherrix: NBC Today Show

Abraham and his father, Jay, appeared with Ann Curry on the NBC Today show. (Photo: Steve Helber, AP)
Read extended excerpts from the transcript of Abraham Cherrix's appearance with Ann Curry on NBC's Today Show. The full transcript is available at TherapeuticsDaily.com after free registration.

For those with Internet Explorer, you can watch the interview.
ANN CURRY: Abraham, I guess the first question now that you know that the growth is still there--in fact, it's a bit bigger--how are you feeling this morning?

Mr. A. CHERRIX: I'm feeling very good. I'm feeling extremely good, as a matter of fact.

CURRY: It's a bit--you're feeling extremely good in part because of these herbal supplements that you're taking that we talked about in the piece. You know, the American Cancer Society says there is no evidence--no evidence, Abraham, that this treatment works. So why do you have faith?

Mr. A. CHERRIX: Excuse me?

CURRY: The American Cancer Society says there is no evidence that this treatment that you're taking works. So why do you have faith in it?

Mr. A. CHERRIX: Well, the American Cancer Society says that there's no evidence, but there is plenty of evidence if they would take the time to actually look through it. I've done extensive research, and I've read the testimonies of people who have been cured by alternative medicine, and I've seen it firsthand. I've met with these people.

----------------------------------------------------

CURRY: You know, Jay, I know this is a heartbreaking time for you, because what you have is a 16-year-old son with a strong will and with a terrible cancer. He's not old enough to vote. He's not old enough in this country, under the law, to take an--to take a drink in a bar. And yet you are allowing him to make this decision--you and your wife--over the possibility of living or dying, facing this cancer. Why are you allowing him to do this?

Mr. J. CHERRIX: Well, when you're a parent you have to start treating children a little bit different when they get to be 12 years old. They start having minds of their own. Abraham suffered through three months of chemo. It was his body. He endured that. And it was his decision to take this medicine. I didn't come to this rapidly. But when we went to the clinic and we met people that had been cured by this, we realized that this was Abraham's best hope for survival.

----------------------------------------------------

CURRY: You know, there--this kind of cancer has a high rate of--high survival rate with treatment. Eighty-five percent of patients are alive five years later, according to the American Cancer Society. Jay, I'm going to ask you a tough question.

Mr. J. CHERRIX: Sure.

CURRY: If Abraham, with these herbal treatments, does not survive this cancer, how will you live with yourself?

Mr. J. CHERRIX: Abraham has a serious illness that I worry about every single day since the day that he contacted it. It's something that entirely is a life-defining moment when you have your child in this--as sick as he is. They've only give--when you're faced with a child only being given a 25 percent survival rate by taking chemicals, and this boy doesn't want to do that and you've met folks that actually have survived by taking this treatment, you got to put your hope and you got to put your best foot forward. This is the chance that he has to get better, and it's my responsibility as his father to make sure that he gets the treatment that's going to save his life. And we believe this is what it is.

----------------------------------------------------

Mr. TAYLOR, lawyer: This case has far-reaching ramifications across this country for any parent who has a sick child in this nation who wants to make the decision for the child's best welfare and his health care. And this is what we're fighting for, is the parents' right to make this decision vs. the state stepping in and supplanting the parents' authority and actually trying to take a role that is superior to parents, which we think flies in the face of US Supreme Court decisions.

----------------------------------------------------

CURRY: If the judge rules against Abraham's decision, if he says that Abraham cannot make this decision and he tries to force Abraham to go through chemotherapy, I guess, Abraham, the question is: Are you willing to go to jail for this, or, I guess, also, are your parents willing to go for--to jail for this? Abraham, you first.

Mr. A. CHERRIX: Yes, I'm willing--I am to do that because I obeyed the law by what they say. At least I try to as best as I can. If they want to put me in a juvenile detention, there's really nothing I can do about it, and I will--I will have faith that my parents will get me out. And if they take my parents away, then I will do everything in my power to help them.

Read the rest of the transcript by clicking here (requires free registration).
For full coverage of the Abraham Cherrix story, click here.

Abraham Cherrix: In Depth Video Report

Watch an in-depth news report by WAVY-TV, a local Virginia news station. Caution to dial-up users, the WMV file is large (25.4 MB). To watch, click on the image above or just click here.
For those having trouble with the video, below you will find a few select excerpts. The second is compelling evidence that Abraham is a Christian:
Reporter: [Abraham's] cancer came back and there's no guarantee more chemo will cure him. Children's Hospital wouldn't talk to us about the odds, citing federal patient privacy law, but... oncologist, James Stark, says they are low.

Dr. James Stark: I would estimate probably, without looking it up, about 25 percent. So this is not a good situation.

-------------------------------------

Abraham Cherrix: This body is my body and it's God's temple He gave to me and I'm supposed to take care of it.

-------------------------------------

Rose Cherrix (Mother): How far are they willing to go? Are they willing to be sued? Are they willing to be sued for abuse? If I tied Abraham down and gave him a drug, I'd be in court right now for child abuse. I'd be in the jail.
For full coverage of the Abraham Cherrix story, click here.

7/21/2006

Abraham Cherrix: Fighting for His Life

Original image, courtesy of Tim Dillon, USA Today.
This post serves as coverage central for Abraham Cherrix's story. Updates will be added directly below in reverse chronological order. For first time vistors, the original post is below the updates.

HT: Spunky Homeschool
UPDATE #9: Read the news coverage of the agreement made between Abraham's lawyer and county social workers announced by Judge Tyler on August 16th.

UPDATE #8: Read selected excerpts from Abraham's appearance on the Sean Hannity Show on Tuesday (7/25).

UPDATE #7: Read the media coverage of Judge Glen Taylor's decision to suspend the juvenile court's earlier ruling and watch online news coverage.

UPDATE #6: Watch Abraham on FOX's Hannity and Colmes on Monday night and read the transcript.

UPDATE #5: Read the Tuesday (7/25) updates on the legal case status, news coverage, blog coverage, and online video.

UPDATE #4: Read the transcripted words of the song The Ballad of Abraham that Chris Lowery wrote and recorded about Abraham. Listen to it by clicking here.

UPDATE #3: Read the Monday (7/24) updates on the legal case status, news coverage, blog coverage, and donation information.

UPDATE #2: Read the transcript of Abraham's appearance with Ann Curry of NBC's Today show or watch the video (requires Internet Explorer).

UPDATE #1:
Watch an indepth video report by a local Virginia news station with transcripted excerpts. (Source: WAVY-TV)

Abraham Cherrix, 16 years old, in his Chincoteague, VA home.
(Photo: Steve Helber, AP)
Fighting for His Life
Abraham Cherrix looks older than he is, and not just because he's 6' 1". His eyes have a maturity and depth uncommon in most 16 year olds, but Abraham is far from an ordinary young man. Since last summer, he's been fighting for his life.

In 2005, Abraham was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a curable form of cancer that affects the lymph nodes. In September he started chemotherapy treatment at the Children's Hospital in Norfolk, VA.

Three months went by, the chemotherapy leaving Abraham bald, nauseated, feverish and weak. "His legs would buckle under him. It pretty much devastated him," said his mother, Rose, who home schools Abraham and his four siblings. (Source: USA Today)

"There were some nights I didn't know if I would make it," Abraham said. He did make it, but in February, tests showed that his cancer was still active, and doctors at the Children's Hospital recommended another round of chemotherapy, along with additional radiation treatment.

After talking with an oncologist (a doctor who studies and treats tumors) about the risks and side effects of the proposed treatment, Abraham decided he wouldn't go through with it.

“They wanted to bring me to the brink of death, then bring me back, try to restore me with stem cells," he explained. (Source: InsideNova.com)

"[It] would kill me, literally. No joke about it," he said. "The first round of chemo almost killed me in itself."

With his parent's backing and under the supervision of a clinic in Mexico, Abraham began pursuing an alternative treatment called the Hoxsey method, following a sugar-free, organic diet and taking an herbal remedy four times each day.

That's when the trouble really started.

Someone — Abraham thinks a doctor at the Children's Hospital — reported the Cherrix family to a social worker with the county's social services department. The social worker asked a judge to require that Abraham continue chemotherapy treatment.

In May, Judge Jesse E. Demps issued a temporary order finding Abraham's parents "neglectful," forbidding them from seeking treatment outside Virginia, and awarding partial custody to the Accomack County Department of Social Services — warning the family that they faced losing custody completely.

Abraham and his family were dismayed.

"What it boils down to is does the American family have the right to decide on the health of their child or is the government allowed to come in and determine that themselves and threaten one way or the other to split our family up?" said Jay Cherrix, Abraham's father. (Source: AP)

Said family lawyer, Barry Taylor: "I don't think any family in the commonwealth would be comfortable with the fact that a social worker with no medical training could make a medical decision for their child. It's an assault on the American family."

The news didn't remain all bleak. On June 1, Abraham and his family gained a temporary reprieve. The judge ordered that Abraham could travel to Mexico to continue alternative treatment if he first had an X-ray in Norfolk to assess the cancer. He agreed.

But a week later, the judge changed his mind and ruled that if doctors decided it was necessary they could order yet another test — like a CAT scan or MRI — something Abraham said would interfere with his herbal treatment. If he refused to comply, Abraham was threatened with jail.

"This is craziness," a frustrated Abraham said. "I talked to the judge, he agreed with me he was going to do what I wanted to do and all of a sudden at the last minute he changes it all around." (Source: WAVY-TV)

When doctors offered an MRI scan, Abraham refused. They obliged, saying that two x-rays were all that was necessary. But the fight wasn't over yet.

A week and a half ago, the court reconvened for further testimony and to make a decision as to whether Abraham and his family could make their own medical decisions. After 11 hours of hearings, all the Cherrix family could do was pray and wait.

"We [already] tried their way, and it didn't work," Abraham's mother explained afterward. "We truly want to see him get better, and whatever it takes for him to get better we will do."

Abraham echoed his mother's words, "This is my body that I'm supposed to take care of," Abraham said. "I studied. I did research. I came to this conclusion that the chemotherapy was not the route I wanted to take."

For Judge Jesse Demps, that wasn't enough. Today he ruled that Abraham must report to a hospital by Tuesday and accept whatever treatment the doctors deem necessary. Their lawyer has promised an emergency appeal on Monday.

"I want to caution all parents of Virginia: Look out, because Social Services may be pounding on your door next when they disagree with the decision you've made about the health care of your child," lawyer John Stepanovich said. (Source: AP)

Abraham is committed to keep fighting for control of his life. Last week, he told Ann Curry of NBC's Today show (Watch: Click Here) that he was prepared to keep fighting, even if it meant going to jail.

"I am willing to do that," he said.

You can tell he meant it.
Let us know what you think. Leave a comment.

7/20/2006

Eight Reasons Why I Don't Share My Faith

Agent 507, a faithful reader of The Rebelution, sent us this short video on evangelism. It humorously examines eight of the popular "reasons" people give as an excuse for not sharing the Gospel. We liked it so much, we decided to share it with all of you.
Watch the video, then head to the comments section and discuss. What "reasons" do you use to get out of sharing the Gospel?
UPDATE: For those interested in acquiring a higher-quality version of this video for presenting at church or at your youth group, a DVD can be purchased here and here.

7/19/2006

Multitasking: Doing Less By Doing More

Post 2 of a 4-part series. Click here for Introduction.
For many of us multitasking is a way to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. "I usually finish my homework at school." says Piers Cox (14) in an interview with TIME Magazine, "But if not, I pop a book open on my lap in my room, and while the computer is loading, I'll do a problem or write a sentence. Then, while mail is loading, I do more. I get it done a little bit at a time."

Unfortunately for Piers, and other teens like him, research shows that doing multiple things at once lowers the quality of each activity.

"People often take pride in their ability to multitask," writes Dr. Edward Hallowell in his book CrazyBusy, "but often they do none of their tasks as well as when they focus on one at a time."

In fact, a 2001 study conducted at the University of Michigan shows that 20-40% of a person's productivity is eaten up by "task-switching," the time it takes to mentally re-engage when shifting from one task to another.

"When you divide your attention, there is a loss on both ends," says Lyman Steil, president of The Masters Alliance, "Our research is crystal clear that multitasking does not mean people are doing their work productively."

Interestingly, many of us enjoy the rush of doing many things at once because it gives us a feeling of control and productivity. In reality our split attention is only serving to hide our diminished efficiency -- we're living in an illusion.

Though certain kinds of multitasking are possible without diminishing productivity -- for instance when the tasks are simple and virtually automatic (think walking and chewing gum) -- most multitasking which requires repeated task-switching is akin to jamming two TV signals down the same cable wire. The result is static, not high-definition.

Nevertheless, according to Presentations Magazine (October 2003 Issue) multitasking is such an ingrained part of our culture that most people don't know how to change, even if they recognize the problem. The most common reason? "There's not enough time to deal with it."

How should we, as young people who have the time to "deal with it," respond to this issue? What is our responsibility? Well, the first step, as always, is to look at what God's Word tells us.

Working With All Your Heart
In Colossians 3:23 (NIV) the Apostle Paul writes, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." This idea of being singly-focused is the secret of true efficiency.

One way that I have tried to apply this in my own life is to never leave my Instant Messaging program open unless I actually need to talk with someone, and to close my mail program when I'm doing any serious writing so that I won't be distracted by incoming emails.

However, when the project is particularly important, I do something even more extreme: I will throw away my web browsers so that there are absolutely no distractions on my computer. When I believe that what I'm doing is important I want to make sure I'm giving it my best, which is all of me -- my full attention. I have found this to be one of the most helpful things I can do.

Of course, I do have my reservations. I am not always eager to completely shut off my connection to people and information outside my immediate purview. In the words of another author, "I might miss something, or someone might miss me. And that would be disastrous. Wouldn't it?"

But, as I close AIM and drag Firefox to the trash, I realize that, no, it wouldn't be disastrous. In fact, it would be better, because right where I am, doing what I'm doing with all my heart, is just where God wants me and my attention.

What This Doesn't Mean
Of course, this doesn't mean we should never multitask. Our ability to multitask is unrivalled by any other creature in God's creation. It is a good gift, just not one to be abused.

What we need to understand is that both our ability focus and our ability to multitask are extremely valuable. We would never want to practice one at the expense of the other. Sadly, our culture's busyness, where the average employee switches tasks every three minutes and is interrupted every two minute, seems to be crippling our ability to focus. Studies show that most employees are unable to focus on any task longer than 12 minutes.

As unfortunate as that is, we shouldn't jump into the ditch on the other side of the road where every little thing we do requires 100% concentration. The Apostle Paul's encouragement in Colossians comes right after he challenges husbands and wives in their marriages, fathers towards their children, and children and slaves in serving their parents and masters. In other words, Paul is exhorting us to honor God by giving appropriate attention to all of our relationships and tasks, not to chew gum with all our hearts.

We show our priorities by the focus and attention we give certain things. When we are gripped by God's Word and fully absorbed in it, we demonstrate that we truly treasure the Bible. In the same way, we show how strongly we believe in the value of our work and studies by the attention we give them.

Our challenge is to get our priorities straight and then not allow our culture's crazy pace to rob our work (whether it be homework or work-work) of the attention it deserves.
Read: Intro / Productivity / Thought Life / Relationships / Closing

7/18/2006

Text Messaging On The Rise

"Email is so last millennium" reports Associated Press writer Martha Irvine, confirming many of the claims made in our June 28th article "Cell-ing Our Souls." Instant and text messaging are replacing email as the preferred method of communication among teenagers.

Read the whole article.

7/17/2006

Generation M, for Multitasking

Our generation multitasks constantly. Chances are that some of you won't even be able to finish this article without checking your email -- while others are already listening to music or IMing a friend. In fact, a recent Yahoo! and OMD conducted survey says that you're probably doing three to four other tasks while surfing the Internet.

Though multitasking has long been epitomized by the corporate executive, it has more and more become a characteristic of the modern teenager -- especially when it comes to media consumption.

A 2005 study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that even while young people are spending an absurd amount of time on the phone, listening to the radio, surfing the Internet, and watching TV (50 hours per week, and that doesn't even include movies, music or email) the actual amount of media content we consume is far greater due to our ability to interact with more than one medium at a time. Other studies show that teens are packing up to 44-hours of activity into a 24-hour day by doing multiple things at once -- that's nearly a 50% jump!

Consider the following narrative by Heather, an 11th-grader from Chicago: "Last night, I was watching "Sex in the City" on TiVo with my friend and my dad. I heard this song. I really wanted to download it, but I didn't know what it was called. So, first I went online and I tried to download. I couldn't, but then I was online. One of my friends who had been out of town was back, and I saw him online and we started talking. Then I went back to watch "Sex in the City." I just kept going back and forth. I was eating ice cream too. Then I checked my email. It was late at night. It was getting later. So I was just talking to people. No one really went out because it was Father's Day."

Many laud such development as progress -- I mean, Heather was spending time with her family, connecting with friends, eating ice cream, checking her email, watching TiVo, and doing research at the same time! But one has to wonder at the quality of the time Heather spent with her father that Father's Day. In fact, several questions come to mind as I read her description of a seemingly typical night.

For instance, regardless of what it was, does she remember anything about the show she was watching? She couldn't locate the song she was looking for -- did she ever go back and find it? Finally, she seemed to be talking to a lot of people (albeit, not the people she was actually with), but did she feel like she drew closer to any of them?

In an era where it has become routine to conduct six IM conversations, watch TV and Google the names of last season's American Idol finalists all at the same time, such questions must be asked not only of Heather, but of ourselves. Though multitasking has been around for ages, it is our generation that has been dubbed, among other things, Generation M -- M for Multitasking.

The modern level of multiprocessing and interpersonal connectivity is now so commonplace that our generation, who have grown up with it, just don't realize how recent of a phenomenon it actually is. Eight years ago (1998, when I was nine) most home computers weren't even linked to the Internet.

Think about it: We are the first generation of teenagers to have high-speed, wireless Internet access. We are the first generation of teenagers to widely use cellphones. We've learned to juggle a myriad of doodads and options -- text messaging, search engines, PDA's, blogs, Wi-Fi, and cell phones that try to do all of the above. Most significantly, we've been promised that we haven't seen anything yet.

If all this is true, and it is, then there is a tremendous need for us to step back and reassess our generation's proclivity for multitasking. As life gets faster and faster and technology continues to advance we've got to stop texting long enough to ask ourselves whether we're really more efficient when we multitask. How does this "juggling show" we allow ourselves to put on affect our productivity, our thought life, and our relationships?

Read: Intro / Productivity / Thought Life / Relationships / Closing

7/16/2006

Brittany McComb: Legal Brief Available

The Rutherford Institute — representing high school valedictorian Brittany McComb (read the full story, click here) — has recently posted its legal brief in the First Amendment lawsuit it has filed against the Clark County school district.

We know our legal-minded readers will be interested. However, others who have followed the story should also attempt to glean some of the detailed information and arguments it contains.

Although we decided that excerpts were to lengthy to include in this post, several sections of interest include the argument based on the text of the school district's regulations (pages 6-7) and the step-by-step account of the events leading up to the graduation ceremony (pages 7-13).

Download the PDF: Click Here.

Brittany McComb: Extended Video of Graduation Speech

Readers unfamiliar with Brittany McComb's story, click here.
Those who have followed The Rebelution's coverage of Brittany McComb's valedictorian address (for full coverage, click here) will be interested to watch a new video of her graduation speech, recently uploaded by the Rutherford Institute, the civil liberties and human rights group representing Brittany in legal action against the school district.

The video contains a much longer portion of Brittany's speech than has previously been available, including the moment when her microphone was cut. It also includes an extended record of the audience's response.

To watch it you can either click on the image above or just click here.

7/15/2006

Do Hard Things: Time Management

Brett and I were interviewed by Hannah Farver of Beauty from the Heart for an article on time management for Regenerate Our Culture Online. Read about how we originally came up with the idea for The Rebelution, what we learned about time management while campaigning in Alabama, and how we apply Do Hard Things in our own lives:

Making Time Management Less of a Hard Thing
by Hannah Farver

Between conference planning, keeping up a blog, and studying for the SAT, Alex and Brett Harris qualify as busy. Although some people know them only as the twin brothers of bestselling author, Joshua Harris, Alex and Brett are blazing their own trail with a unique purpose: to start a rebelution. According to their blog, a rebelution is "a teenage rebellion against the low expectations of an ungodly culture." Part of this idea is learning responsibility, including the responsible management of time. Now juggling several major projects, the Harris duo have agreed to answer a few questions for Regenerate Our Culture regarding this topic:

Q. How did you come up with the idea for The Rebelution?

A. Alex: Brett and I competed for several years in the NCFCA, a national home school speech and debate league. In the 2004 season, I competed in the "persuasive" category with a ten-minute speech I had written...
Read the rest! Click here.

7/12/2006

How To Become A Better Writer

Brett and I are excited to share the following writing tips from two well-known and well-loved Christian authors: C.S. Lewis and J.I. Packer. Many thanks to Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds for both lists. We know our readers, particularly our fellow rebelutionary bloggers, will benefit from the wisdom of both of these great men.

J.I. Packer on How to Become a Better Writer
At breakfast with Dr. Packer earlier this week, Justin Taylor asked him what advice he would give to someone who wanted to become a better writer. Here are the principles he suggested, based on Mr. Taylor's notes from their conversation:

1.) Don't write until you have something to say.

2.) Know your ideal reader, and write with that reader as your focus as if you're directing all of your thoughts to him.

3.) Remember that there are two sides of the brain: the left and the right. The left is the logical side--monchrome gray. The right side handles grammar, imagination, and pictures--that which gives color to life. The way of wisdom in writing is to use color: nouns, verbs, and adjectives that convey pictures. A good communicator appeals to the whole person--both sides of the brain. C.S. Lewis is a great example of this.

4.) There is a place for long sentences, but a long sentence should be followed by a short one. Use plenty of short sentences that will jump off the page and hit the reader between the eyes. Readers need variety--both long and short sentences--to keep them awake.

C.S. Lewis on How to Become a Better Writer
On June 26, 1956, C. S. Lewis responded to a child's letter asking for advice on how to become a better writer. Here are the principles Lewis suggested, as taken from the book The Quotable Lewis (1989):

1.) Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2.) Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3.) Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4.) In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.” [Comment: Sounds like "do hard things" for writers!]

5.) Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
For more helpful tips, be sure to check out the post How To Write Good (Like Me) for a humorous look at good writing habits.

7/06/2006

Brothers & Sisters: Let Someone Else Win

The final installment in the Brothers and Sisters series is written by the middle Mally sibling, Stephen. Stephen leads a discipleship group for young men and co-leads Just Men conferences with his father, encouraging young men to be strong and courageous leaders in God’s kingdom. Today he encourages all of us to strive for more than just an average relationship with our siblings… even if that means letting the other person win.

Before we get started, however, Stephen has supplied a few helpful definitions of key terms:
  • Home: a place where you can say what you think, but no one listens.
  • Argument: when two people are trying to get in the last word first.
  • Cooperation: doing what I tell you and doing it quickly.
  • Peace: the period of confusion and unrests between two wars.
  • Diplomacy: the art of letting someone else get your way.
  • Opinion: you can have your own as long as it's the same as mine.
  • Females: people who take their time taking your time.
It all started very simply... You see our house is not very big and that makes it hard to find enough room for everything. One day, when Sarah was fourteen and I was eight, she started complaining that her desk didn't have enough room. The real problem was that she had too much stuff. I, on the other hand, had a desk with lots of drawers, and because I don’t horde "stuff" like a few other family members [names have not been listed to protect the guilty] some of the drawers were still empty. Guess what happened next?

You guessed right. Sarah actually came and asked me she could use one of my drawers for her stuff. I (being the shrewd businessman that I am) said, “Sure! But for a price.” So, we drew up a rental contract for six months. We both signed it. She paid me the money, and I rented her the drawer.

About ten months later I said, “Sarah, get your junk out of my drawer! Your rent is up.” She replied, “I don’t have anywhere else to put it. I want to keep renting it.” But I said, “No, I’m not making that deal again.” She said, “Stephen, you have to! I have no where else to put it.” The pressure built as we both began to state our views more strongly, neither of us seeing any negotiable options until finally, I (being the shrewd businessmen that I am) took the drawer and dumped everything on the floor.

If you’re anything like me, you like easy things. When there is an argument going on, even over something foolish, the easy thing to do is to keep on arguing—it's what comes naturally to our sinful hearts. We always want to get in the last word. The hard thing is to drop the argument and let the other person win, especially when you are sure that you are right and they are wrong (as, of course, is always the case). This requires meekness. Meekness is being able to give up our wants knowing that God is in control. Meekness is entrusting our pride, our possessions, our reputation, and every other aspect of our lives to God, knowing that He will take care of things. Meekness is understanding that vengeance belongs to the Lord, not to us.

Some people think that to be meek is to be a wimp. But when you really think about it, meekness is not being weak at all, because putting on an attitude of meekness and humility is an incredibly hard thing. It is actually the stronger person who will humble themselves and be willing to “lose.” As rebelutionaries, we cannot settle for an average relationship, or even an above-average relationship with our siblings. God wants us to be best of friends, working side-by-side in His kingdom.

The Lord never promised us that the Christian life would be easy, but He promised us that it would be worth it. Being best friends with our brothers and sisters and enjoying their fellowship and comradeship is just one of the amazing blessings. I challenge you, as I must constantly challenge myself, to follow in the steps of Jesus, taking the narrow, uphill road—the hard one—knowing that you will reap an eternal reward.

7/05/2006

Brothers and Sisters: Responding Correctly To Irritations

The second installment in the Brothers and Sisters series is written by the youngest Mally sibling, Grace. Now 16 years old, Grace was 12 when she wrote Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends with her brother and sister. Since then, it has sold 30,000 copies. Today she shares stories and examples from her own life as we learn about responding correctly to life’s (and sibling’s) many irritations.
Being the youngest in the family has its advantages. It also has its disadvantages. Older brothers and sisters seem to have a knack for taking advantage of their younger siblings and getting them (or should I say me) to do just about anything.

For example, I tend to sympathize with things that are hurting or suffering, whether people or otherwise. Unfortunately for me, my older siblings Stephen and Sarah used to think this was pretty funny and had fun making me feel sorry for things. You know how on milk jugs they have that plastic band under the cap that keeps it sealed before you open it? You probably just pull it off and throw it away, right? Well, when I was younger, Sarah and Stephen would make me feel sorry for these plastic bands. They named them “pricklies" and every time we threw a "prickly" away, they would tell me how sad the poor little prickly was about being tossed away in the garbage, all alone, with no friends. They even made up a song called “Poor Little Prickly.” Not bearing to see the poor little "prickly" abandoned, I would go and rescue it. Eventually I decided to start a collection. At one time, I had over 80 of them!

Of course, this embarrassing story has a point. Just as I have "mercy tendencies," Sarah and Stephen also have their various gifts, personalities, interesting habits, and “quirks.” God is the one who puts families together. He knows exactly what He is doing. The assortment of gifts and personalities He provides makes the family a very powerful team. However, these differences, which make life colorful and exciting, can also cause a lot of irritations.

As rebelutionaries, we need to learn how to handle irritations in a godly way instead of allowing them to cause damage. You see, our goal is not to seek an irritation-free environment. We will always have irritations in our lives. Instead, God wants us to learn how to handle these irritating situations correctly. In fact, this is one of the reasons God has put us in families. Our brothers and sisters and parents each have different strengths and weaknesses. Their personalities and characteristics may annoy us at times, but if we can’t learn to get along with them, we won’t succeed in our relationships with other people later on in life.

Recently we received a letter from a girl (we’ll call her Lauren) who was having trouble with her sister. Lauren explained that she and her sister share a room, but she likes the room clean and her sister likes it messy. Sound familiar to anyone? Lauren said that she had tried everything: telling her sister to clean up, cleaning up for her, talking to her parents, and even asking to switch rooms. Nothing helped. She was frustrated and didn’t know what to do.

I’m sure we can all relate to situations like this. I know I can. But if we’re hoping to change the other person, or if we’re expecting the Lord to step in and perform a miracle to change our circumstances, then we’re probably headed for disappointment and more frustration. You see, the Lord usually isn’t interested in rescuing us from irritating situations. Rather He is interested in changing us! Just like beautiful pearls are formed when an irritant makes its way into an oyster’s shell, so when we respond properly to “irritants” in our own lives, we will be displaying the beauty of Christ in our lives. You see, irritations are actually good things. They just happen to be irritating!

Like Lauren, the young lady who is struggling with her sister’s "messy tendencies," we need to realize several things when we're faced with an irritation. First of all, we need to realize that we don't deserve anything—not even a clean room. Everything we have is a gift. The Lord gives and takes away, and He commands us to be content in all circumstances.

Secondly, we need to look past the irritation and ask God to reveal the bigger picture. What is His goal in this situation? What is He doing? What do we need to change in our own life? What are the needs of the other people involved? I’ve found that once I am able to look past the irritation, it often feels like a light "turns on” and I am able to see how God is using a difficult situation in an important way for a significant purpose.

So next time you are irritated, remember that this is a test from the Lord. Remember that God could take away the irritation in an instant if He knew it would be best for you. And remember that you are a rebelutionary—being trained by God for the important, world-changing assignments He has prepared for you. The training may be tough; it requires endurance, humility, and lots of patience—but the fruit is eternal.

7/03/2006

Brothers and Sisters: Saying "I Was Wrong"

The first installment in the Brothers and Sisters series is written by the oldest Mally sibling, Sarah. Sarah is the founder of Bright Lights, a discipleship ministry and nationwide network, equipping young ladies to be strong in the Lord in their youth. She is also the author of the new book, Before You Meet Prince Charming (which has already received rave reviews from several readers).
“It’s Stephen’s fault,” I said, feeling hurt and upset. “He needs to apologize to me. I don’t need to apologize to him.”

My brother, Stephen, had hurt my feelings and I felt like I had every right to be upset. “He’s not even trying to be sensitive to me,” I told myself as I wondered what I should do. Actually, I knew what I should do. I needed go to him, talk it through, and humble myself—but I definitely didn’t feel like doing it. I’m sure you know the feeling—when admitting that you were wrong is the absolute last thing on earth that you want to do. You want to just ignore the problem or in some way “get back” at the person who has offended you.

But do we really think things will fix themselves? How will we be able to fulfill what God has for us in the future if we aren’t willing to resolve past problems and apologize for the part we played? How can we expect that God will give us new ministry assignments tomorrow if we won’t obey the assignments He’s given us today?

A few years ago our family was going on a long trip and my mom decided to add a special touch to our travels by making individual trail mix bags for each of us to enjoy along the way. It had dried fruit, nuts, M&Ms, and the like. At the beginning of the trip, we thought the bags were great and enjoyed our snack thoroughly. But you can only eat trail mix for so long, and by the end of the trip, none of us were too excited about dried fruit or peanuts. To top it off, it was the middle of July and all of the M&Ms melted, turning each bag into a big chocolaty glob. Stephen, Grace, and I decided that we had had enough of our trail mix bags.

However, my mother, not wanting to waste anything, decided that she would do something with the leftover trail mix to encourage us to eat it. She took a yellow cake mix, dumped in all the bags of chocolaty goop, and baked it in the oven. When it came out, it looked terrible—much worse than it had before. The papaya in the trail mix turned the entire cake orange. I mean, it was orange. There wasn’t a chance that any of us were going to eat it now—not even Dad, and he usually likes everything! Mom didn’t know what to do. In the end, she decided to save the cake in the freezer. Several months later she brought it out again. And you guessed it—it wasn’t a big success.

Now here’s my point. Most of us don’t like to deal with problems. We hide it, we disguise it, we attempt to cover it up, we try to forget about it, we hope other people will forget about it … but the problem is just going to reoccur until we deal with the real issue. No matter how many new ways my mom tried to serve the trail mix, it wasn’t going to work. In the same way, no matter how many new strategies we try in attempt to “just get by” with our siblings, it’s not going to work. We need to get rid of the underlying problems of bitterness, guilt, anger, and unresolved conflicts. This requires being willing to do an extremely hard thing—admit when we are wrong and ask forgiveness.

As I was feeling upset with Stephen on this particular day and thinking about these things, I knew what the Lord wanted me to do. I couldn’t go to bed angry or just hope my feelings would go away. I needed to take some initiative and resolve the conflict. So even though it was 10 o’clock at night, I invited Stephen to go out for a snack with me. We discussed our little disagreement (which felt big to me at the time). I asked him to tell me what I had done wrong. I asked the Lord to help me see it from his perspective. Suddenly I noticed how nice and sensitive Stephen was trying to be as he explained his point of view. I quickly realized that he wasn’t the only one to blame for our conflict. Although it was difficult to humble myself and admit my wrong attitude, I’m so glad I did. When we arrived home we felt like best friends again.

It may be hard to work through these “little” struggles that occur in our daily lives, but it’s extremely important that we are willing to do so. Think about tooth decay, for instance. It is a physical example of the spiritual decay that we see all around us. Toothaches hurt! It is especially painful to dig out the decay, but in order to fix the tooth you can’t just put in a filling. You’ve got to dig out the decay first. Painful? That’s for sure! But necessary? Absolutely. If you don’t take care of the decay, you’ll end up with a root canal later—or end up being toothless.

Many times in our lives we want to heal the toothache, but we’re not willing to dig out the decay. We know there has been a conflict with one of our siblings, but we’re not willing to go back to them, confess our sin, and ask forgiveness. We simply want to forget about the past and move on. We figure that they’ll get over it and things will be okay. We tell ourselves that it was just a little problem, and we don’t need to worry about making it right. We’re not willing to do hard things.

It’s difficult it is to humble ourselves, especially when we feel that our brother or sister was mostly to blame. Here’s a tip: They usually feel the same way about us! The question is, are we willing to do a hard thing in order to honor God in our relationship with our siblings? Remember, the Lord exalts those who humble themselves. It’s a promise (see James 4:10).

So take the humble road. Ask the Lord to bring any unresolved conflicts to your mind and show you where you were wrong. When you go to your brother or sister, don’t bring up all of your claims and counter-claims. Don’t go in with the purpose of defending yourself and proving yourself right. Just apologize for your own sin and ask their forgiveness. You will find that doing hard things brings tremendous rewards.

7/01/2006

ROC: Independence Day Edition

Check out the latest issue of Regenerate Our Culture, featuring new articles by Tim Sweetman, Alex King, Kristin Braun, Travis Henry and first-time contributor Cody Herche of Legal Redux in a special Independence Day edition.

Make sure you read the article "Getting Involved in Campaigning" by Alex King, which features interviews with three rebelutionary bloggers: Brett, me, and Kierstyn Paulino of Politically Incorrect.