Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is It Just Me?

The other day I heard a news report that reported a new government task force has recommended women be advised to get mammograms starting at age 50 instead of age 40 and then just get one every two years instead of annually. Since I heard this on the way to work, I promptly forgot about it. After all, I'm a guy; what do I care?

But the more I thought about it, the less I believed I heard it correctly. After all, I know many women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in their 40s. I thought I really heard the report wrong. The government couldn't be recommending women between the ages of 40 and 50 ignore the number-two leading cause of death for women. So I looked it up. Yep, I heard it correctly. The government task force is recommending the first mammogram at age 50 and then every two years after that! I was aghast!

My daughter's mother passed away at age 55 from breast cancer that was diagnosed when she was 42. She had 13 more years due to early detection and aggressive treatment. Now, due to what the government is advocating, this diagnosis would likely have been missed.

I wonder why?

Could it be the government has found a way to reduce healthcare costs? After all, if a whole decade of mammograms aren't performed, then millions of dollars would certainly be saved from healthcare costs! Perhaps, I'm being cynical. Perhaps, I'm being distrustful. Either way, I will make sure my daughter gets her first mammogram at age 40, regardless of what any government says. Her life is too precious to me to be trusted to a task force.

Is it just me who thinks this way?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Live Within Your Means

What do Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin have in common?

According to a new report from the Pew Center on the States all of these states are in deep fiscal trouble as they experience constant unbalanced revenues and spending. All these states are facing higher taxes, accelerated layoffs of government employees, high unemployment, low consumer spending, and are being pressed to provide additional services, such as Medicaid.

States do not have the same luxury as the federal government when it comes to deficit spending. As we've witnessed the past few months, our federal government can spend more money than it takes in - indefinitely. All it has to do is increase the national debt. The federal government has no checks and balances on how much debt it carries. It just passes it on to the next generation, the next election, or the next party in power.

States cannot do this. Hence, they must live within their means. Ah, there is the rub. More and more the population is looking for the government to provide all the necessities of this life. This entitlement mentality has been passed down to the states, which are now perceived as the deep pockets able to bail out negligent companies, irresponsible politicians, less-than-motivated citizens, as well as those looking for a handout instead of a hand up. As the troubled states now know, government cannot provide for all our wants and needs. It takes individual initiative and restraint to provide for one's own needs.

Perhaps if the men of the world would step up this Christmas season and say, "We can't afford it," the message would be sent: Let's live within our means, spend what we have, and heed the wake-up call of individual responsibility.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

World War I -- "The Great War" -- ended officially on June 28, 1919. However, the fighting ceased with the declaration of an armistice of the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month," 1918. Ever since then, 11/11/1918 has been recognized as the end of WWI.

Starting with President Wilson and ending with President Eisenhower, the country now celebrates "Veteran's Day" on November 11. This year is no exception. This year's celebration has been especially enhanced by my last plane ride.

I was on a flight from Atlanta to Albuquerque. On the flight was a large contingent of Navaho Code Talkers. These brave men were able to disseminate messages throughout World War II and the Korean Conflict using their native Navajo language. The enemy was never able to break their code. I was honored to sit with these brave men.

As we approach this year's celebration, the country is in mourning for the loss of life at Fort Hood. We are in shock thinking about how this tragedy happened. We honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to fight for our freedom.

We also remember and honor those brave men and women who continue to fight the good fight around the world, particularly in Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan. No words can convey our gratitude for their sacrifice, dedication, and courage.

This Thursday I will fly my flag as a tribute to those who defend it from all enemies domestic and foreign. I will also offer prayers of thanksgiving for all military veterans, and I will implore our Almighty God to send His holy angels to surround them with their protection.

I will also distribute information about the military prayer guides available from Lutheran Hour Ministries. These prayer guides, written by the Rev. Ken Klaus, wrap thoughtful and comforting words around the deep feelings and emotions surrounding military life. To purchase your copies of "Those Who Serve" and "Those Who Support" visit our online store.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanksgiving - 2009

The Halloween pumpkins have been reduced to pies; the trick-or-treat candy is getting stale, and the stores in the mall have their Christmas decorations out: welcome to Thanksgiving, 2009. I, like much of America, look forward to the day when I can eat turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade rolls, corn, and lots of pie! I admit it. I like the meal.

I also will partake in the American tradition of "Let's pretend to watch the Cowboys on TV while we take a nap." Ah, those are what memories are made of: the family all gathered around me at church and at home, the big, delicious meal, the all-afternoon football games, the laughter, and the joy -- each of these are much looked forward to during Thanksgiving.

A bigger part of the day for me, though, will be the time I spend apart from family and friends, and even spouse -- and talk to God -- just Him and me. I start off with giving Him thanks for all of the gifts I have been given over the past year. This year will include a growing family, a godly spouse, an awesome job, lots of opportunities to share His story, a comfortable house and more things than I could possibly ever use. Yes, God has given me more than I could ever dream of!

Then my thoughts will turn to the times when I wasn't particularly happy with my life. This year there have been health issues, family job reversals, downsizing, and uncertainty about the family's financial future. I will share with God a little of my frustration and anger over those things too.

Then my thoughts will turn to our nation. I am fearful of what is happening in our country. It seems as if there is way too much anger, self-serving maneuvering, and self-righteousness among our politicians, our news reporters, and our neighbors. I feel this year more than any other we are facing a "house divided" -- in much the same way President Lincoln must have felt. I will give thanks for our nation. It is still a nation of safety and freedom like no other country in the world -- and for those things I am most thankful. I will, however, also ask God to bless us with wisdom to walk away from our selfishness and look to the greater good.

Then I will be still and just sit in wonder and awe at the greatest gift I have -- eternal life in Christ.

Yes, God and I have been chatting for many Thanksgivings now. I look forward to this year's conversation as well. Perhaps you look forward to talking to Him, too?