Tag: News

MLK Weekend: Remembering Martin Luther & Coretta Scott King

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Martin Luther King Jr. & Coretta Scott were married on June 18, 1953, and in September 1954 took up residence in Montgomery, Alabama, with Coretta Scott King assuming the many responsibilities of pastor’s wife at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

During Dr. King’s career, Mrs. King devoted most of her time to raising their four children: Yolanda Denise (1955), Martin Luther, III (1957), Dexter Scott (1961), and Bernice Albertine (1963). From the earliest days, however, she balanced mothering and Movement work, speaking before church, civic, college, fraternal and peace groups. She conceived and performed a series of favorably-reviewed Freedom Concerts which combined prose and poetry narration with musical selections and functioned as significant fundraisers for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the direct action organization of which Dr. King served as first president. In 1957, she and Dr. King journeyed to Ghana to mark that country’s independence. In 1958, they spent a belated honeymoon in Mexico, where they observed first-hand the immense gulf between extreme wealth and extreme poverty. In 1959, Dr. and Mrs. King spent nearly a month in India on a pilgrimage to disciples and sites associated with Mahatma Gandhi. In 1964, she accompanied him to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Even prior to her husband’s public stand against the Vietnam War in 1967, Mrs. King functioned as liaison to peace and justice organizations, and as mediator to public officials on behalf of the unheard.

After her husband’s assassination in 1968, Mrs. King founded and devoted great energy and commitment to building and developing programs for the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as a living memorial to her husband’s life and dream.

Today, I honor both Dr. & Mrs. Martin Luther King for their work and service for all mankind. THANK YOU, DR. KING!

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And This Is Why I Don’t Like Tipping….

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So last weekend I went to this new spot (well, new to me) and had quite an experience. It was a juice bar/yoga center combined & was very earthy yet modern at the same time. The café was rather large & had concrete floors and open ceilings. There was some “groovy” music in the background and the place was well-lighted. There was an atrium in the center of the café & the place even had free parking (which is always a bonus in LA)!

I was there with a group of people but when it came time to eat I went up to the counter to place my order. After some deliberation and a little bit of taste-tasting, I ended up getting a bottle of organic juice served in a glass bottle for $10. (Think of a Naked juice bottle but twice as large) I’m neither a vegan nor a vegetarian and I normally don’t order organic food but that’s all that was available so I decided to give it a try. The juice I ordered had beets, apples, other various fruits & vegetables and some seasonings like ginger, turmeric and lemon. The juice was pre-bottled so as soon as I made my selection the cashier simply turned around, reached into the cooler behind him grabbed my juice and handed it to me. Before doing all of that, he took my debit card & ran it, flipped the computer screen or “register” around and had me sign for the bill with my finger. Before I could get to the signature line, a “tipping screen” popped up. The “tipping screen” had multiple options for me to select how much of a tip I wanted to leave before proceeding to close out my tab. At this particular joint, the options were: no tip, 18%, 20% and even a whopping 30%!

I was immediately turned off. Here I am buying something to drink that is already premade & I’m expected to leave a minimum of $2?! And to think that there was even a 30% tip option is ludicrous!! Of course, I could’ve selected the “no tip” option, but I didn’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes (African Americans don’t tip well) nor did I want to seem cheap. Since I was with a group & the café was letting us use their space, I wanted to support a small business owner, which is why I was purchasing a $10 pre-bottled beverage in the first place (can you say: overpriced?!). But when no work is involved and no service takes place, I don’t see why a tip is expected. Maybe their computer software is set up to automatically request a tip with any purchase, but if it’s something as simple as a drink (again, pre-bottled), that screen should be bypassed. The worst part about it all was that 18% was the lowest tip you could give, as there wasn’t an option to change the percentage or alter the tip amount at all. Tipping has seemed to take over the service industry completely, but not everybody handling food deserves it.

Normally, I don’t have a problem tipping. If I’m going out to eat at a SIT DOWN restaurant and receive service from a waiter or waitress, then that’s fine. But if I’m picking up my order or simply buying some juice (as this was the case), then I don’t see the purpose in tipping. Am I tipping because you know how to lift a glass of juice? Or am I tipping because you wrapped up my to-go container in a plastic bag & tied it up for me to carry out? Will I go back to that place again? Probably. Will I order the same thing when I go back? Maybe so. Will I leave a tip next time? I don’t think so. I’m sorry, but my hard earned money only goes to hard-working servers.

What are your thoughts about tipping? Do you tip for a carry-out meal? Do you think restaurants are getting greedy expecting patrons to tip 18%-20% nowadays?

January Is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!

More than 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4,000 of women will die. Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. Deaths from cervical cancer in the United States continue to decline by approximately 2 percent a year. This decline is primarily due to the widespread use of the Pap test to detect cervical abnormalities and allow for early treatment. Most women who have abnormal cervical cell changes that progress to cervical cancer have never had a Pap test or have not had one in the previous three to five years.

Cancer of the cervix tends to occur during midlife. Half of the women diagnosed with the disease are between 35 and 55 years of age. It rarely affects women under age 20, and approximately 20 percent of diagnoses are made in women older than 65. For this reason, it is important for women to continue cervical cancer screening until at least the age of 70. Some women need to continue screening longer, so ask your health care provider what’s best for you.

What causes cervical cancer?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is found in about 99% of cervical cancers. There are over 100 different types of HPV, most of which are considered low-risk and do not cause cervical cancer. High-risk HPV types may cause cervical cell abnormalities or cancer. More than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases can be attributed to two types of the virus, HPV-16 and HPV-18, often referred to as high-risk HPV types.

HPV is estimated to be the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. In fact, by age 50 approximately 80% of women have been infected with some type of HPV. The majority of women infected with the HPV virus do NOT develop cervical cancer. For most women the HPV infection does not last long; 90% of HPV infections resolve on their own within 2 years. A small number of women do not clear the HPV virus and are considered to have “persistent infection. A woman with a persistent HPV infection is at greater risk of developing cervical cell abnormalities and cancer than a woman whose infection resolves on its own. Certain types of this virus are able to transform normal cervical cells into abnormal ones. In a small number of cases and usually over a long period of time (from several years to several decades), some of these abnormal cells may then develop into cervical cancer.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, the narrow opening into the uterus from the vagina. The normal “ectocervix” (the portion of the uterus extending into the vagina) is a healthy pink color and is covered with flat, thin cells called squamous cells. The “endocervix” or cervical canal is made up of another kind of cell called columnar cells. The area where these cells meet is called the “transformation zone” (T-zone) and is the most likely location for abnormal or precancerous cells to develop.

How can Cervical Health Awareness Month make a difference?

We can use this opportunity to spread the word about important steps women can take to stay healthy.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year.
  • Let women know that the health care reform law covers well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, depending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
  • Talk to parents about how important it is for their pre-teens to get the HPV vaccine. Both boys and girls need the vaccine.

Screening Tests

Two tests(http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/screening.htm) can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early—

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, which are cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.

For more information, visit the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

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Voting Is Stressful

Voting can be stressful. I learned this the hard way several years ago. I had the “opportunity” to choose between the morally blighted incumbent, who defended a colleague who sent lewd messages to and solicited sex from teenaged congressional pages, and the intellectually blighted challenger, who made outlandish statements and switched parties at the drop of a hat.

I was going to be ashamed of my vote regardless of who it was for. And I distinctly remember putting off voting several times on Election Day and then, after deciding I couldn’t stomach pondering the disgust-inducing decision any longer, walking into the voting booth perspiring (on a cold November day) with a racing heartbeat.

I was actually surprised at my response. I think and talk about voting almost on a daily basis. At worst it should have been an unpleasant task, like mowing the grass. But sweaty palms? No way! I’m a professional political scientist.

HORMONES AND VOTING COLLIDE

But I shouldn’t have been surprised, because as some colleagues put it, I was experiencing the collision of democracy and endocrinology.

When faced with a stressful situation, our adrenal glands secrete the hormone cortisol to help prime our bodies to respond to the threat. It accomplishes this by doing things like maintaining blood pressure and making sure glucose (energy) is not diverted away from the central nervous system, which includes our most important weapon, our brain.

Cortisol levels have been found to increase in fighting situations as well as other threatening circumstances like investors making trading decisions and students taking tests. Further, cortisol levels have also been found to increase in anticipation of stressful events—like having to choose between “blighted” candidates.

WAS CORTISOL THE CULPRIT?

Research suggests it’s certainly possible. In one set of studies, Israel Waismel-Manor (link is external), Gal Ifergane, and Hagit Cohen found that voters on Election Day “exhibited extremely high levels of cortisol,” reaching almost twice the level they experience on a normal day. And in an interesting twist on this, Chris Larimer (link is external), Kevin Smith (link is external), and John Hibbing (link is external) found that individuals with higher baseline levels of cortisol were more susceptible to social pressure to vote, which they suggest happens because those people want to alleviate the unpleasant pressure to vote.

The fact that voting is demonstrably stressful is important to understand. It suggests that we may be able to increase voter turnout if we could somehow make voting less stressful. Voting may be stressful for some people because of the conflict involved, but it may also be stressful because going to the polls forces people to participate in formal yet unfamiliar processes with unfamiliar people. While there’s not much that can be done about the conflict in elections–they are, after all, competitions–we may be able to reduce the social stressors of voting procedures by, for instance, making casting a vote more familiar and less public.

OH, BY THE WAY

Another thing Israel and his colleagues found: people voting for parties that were expected to lose also had higher levels of cortisol. That must have been my real problem that election…voting for losers.

Is voting stressful for you?! Share in the comments below –

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*Article originally published on Psychology Today.

When Do You Want Your Daughter To Lose Her Virginity?!

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You may or may not have heard yet, but there is a young woman in Maryland who presented her father with a “certificate of purity” before she got married in early October. This certificate proves that this 23-year old kept her virginity just as she promised her father she would as a 13 year old child. Photos were posted on Instagram & went viral almost immediately as the newlyweds really emphasized #ValuingVirginity.

Many people have applauded their efforts but there are some who feel like a “virgin certificate” is overboard & medieval. What makes this medieval? Sure, if she were forced to do this, but she wasn’t. I think people who think that are ridiculous. Hearing people criticize this young woman is sickening. What’s so wrong with a daughter wanting her parents to know & have proof that she kept her word?! What’s so wrong with a daughter (or a son for that matter) not having sex until they get married?! When did that become so BAD?!

A lot of people are saying that a “grown woman” shouldn’t have to prove anything to her father, let alone having her father post it on social media. But he’s a proud father, so why shouldn’t he?! I liken that to any parent who posts their child’s college acceptance letter on Facebook for the whole world to see. When you’re proud of your child & their accomplishments it’s only natural to “show off”. So what is the problem with posting a “virgin certificate” online?! (And in case you’re w

During one of their television interviews, the couple had some sound advice on how to remain chaste before marriage:

1) Value yourself – when you truly value yourself, that includes ALL of you – your body, your heart & your mind. Don’t give your body to someone who is not your spouse; instead MAKE THEM honor you (or tell them to get gone).

2) Have a team of supporters – Maintaining virginity takes help. You need people around you encouraging you to do the right thing & to give you ideas when you think you might be close to giving up.

3) What you focus on, will expand – If you focus on getting good grades, you will. When you focus on getting a job, you will. When you focus on saving money, you will. When you focus on saving yourself (especially for the right reasons), you will. Keep your mind focused on saving your body NOT sexing your body.

Hopefully, this moment will turn into a movement and convince teens & young adults everywhere that IT IS OKAY to wait on your wife/husband before giving it up. When it comes to having sex before marriage, people always say “who doesn’t test drive a car before they buy it?”, but I always say, “who wants a used car?!”

Wanna read her story? Click here to read the article about it.

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October is Pastor Appreciation Month!

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October is a month for congregations to express their gratitude to their pastors and clergy leaders.

Since 1992 – when Clergy Appreciation Month was inaugurated by the non-profit group, Under His Wing Ministries, Inc. – October has brought joy to pastors and community members alike.

“It was a wonderful time, and I believe that not only was I strengthened and encouraged by all of this, but [church members] were blessed and encouraged by it, too,” a pastor from Texas testified in an online forum by Parsonage.org, a ministry of Focus on the Family. “There has been such an atmosphere of love and a very positive attitude in our congregation since then.”

“This past year has been tough on our church. We have struggled… This last month helped us get back on focus and on task.”

Over the years, the national holiday has grown more popular. The demand for gift cards has led Hallmark to print National Clergy Day cards since 2001.

“Your ministry has brought faith, strength, and healing to so many people. May God bless you for all you do in His name,” reads one Hallmark card.

There are more than one million full-time Christian ministry workers in the United States, including 350,000 senior pastors. Research shows that ministers are not immune to the pressures and stress of life today. Focus on the Family states that pastors and other clergy leaders “feel isolated, insecure, and only rarely affirmed.”

Christianity Today lists eight good will tasks that could lift a pastor’s day, including a suggestion to “Throw away the measuring stick.”

The Parsonage.org, meanwhile, has an online planning guide with suggestions on how to support clergy. The ministry states, “A simple card, an invitation to lunch, a promise to pray for them or an offer to babysit, wash a car or mow a lawn make wonderful statements.”

Whether it’s through a dinner invitation, a card, or a gift, the holiday strengthens pastors who carry burdens of an entire congregation. And don’t forget to include a sincere note with specific reasons you appreciate the minister’s spiritual leadership, dedication, time and commitment.

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Here are 10 suggestions to celebrate your pastor:

1. Write Lots of Letters

2. Customize a T-shirt

3. Create Original Art

4. Place Your Church in a Frame

5. Purchase Helpful Bible Commentaries

6. Make a Video Presentation

7. Give Public Thanks

8. Do an Office Makeover

9. Supply Favorite Things (candies, ties, etc.)

10. Celebrate 31 Days of Appreciation

 

Honor God by honoring His servants, with a thoughtful, personalized encouragement that fits your unique church and pastor.

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