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Feb 27, 2011

Ladies, Try Not to Be Jealous

From Brent

Okay, I'm a guy but even I can recognize hair that other women would be jealous of. Abby's hair grew back in a little bit curly from her pre-cancer perfectly straight... Mom got it all curled up for the Art Show. Today (Sunday) it's still holding the curl. Try not to be jealous. :)



Can you believe how much it has grown back?
Michelle and I just couldn't quit looking at how
beautiful her hair was Friday night.



This was her hair ONE YEAR AGO at the same art show...



And this was her hair exactly two years ago
when she couldn't hardly get out of bed
much less go to an art show.



The Tri Delta girls from Oklahoma State University
bought Abby's painting to hang in their sorority house.
I'm looking forward to doing a story
about them in our magazine.



Michelle and Kay Tanger with Abby...
there is no art show without Kay. She has been a
cheerleader for Abby since the very
start of her battle with cancer.



Landis loved the airplane that was hanging overhead.



All the girls... Hannah (cousin), Michelle, Abby and our Hannah...



Abby and Landis spent the night flashing smiles
and schmoozing people into making higher bids on her artwork.



The hair, the pinky finger, the coy smile... Abby had it all working that night.



Abby had to bring one of her favorite dolls. Thank you Jordon Samter and Baby Be Blessed giving Abby a doll with such a beautiful message.



Abby looking for her next victim... er, uh, bidder.

Feb 26, 2011

Need Your Opinion & Suggestions for A New Book I'm Writing

From Brent

I'm writing a new book... imagine that. Below is sort of a rough summary/outline.

You guys are pretty stinkin' wise, with a lot of great ideas and wisdom. Would you take a minute to read over my outline and give your thoughts, suggestions, criticism and ideas for the book? I think it may be one of the more important books I've put out and I know it will be much better if it contains the collective wisdom of all you wonderful folks. Put your comments/suggestion in the Linky List below the outline.

The Guide for the Unbelieving, Uninterested and Unconcerned

Introduction – I'll open with a personal appeal letter to the Unbelieving, Uninterested and Unconcerned (those uninterested or unconcerned about God, eternity, sin, judgment, etc.. the transcendent concepts about life). This won't be an intellectual “skeptics debate” that many have written already… it’s an appeal to the human spirit and the deepest questions of human existence. It’s more of an appeal to the inner sense of “there must be something more…” than an intellectual appeal (though I’ll include some aspects of that in the last part of the book).

I envision the book divided into these segments:
  • An appeal to the heart
    - Purpose (everyone wants to have a reason they exist)
    - Meaning (life just has to be more… what about hope, eternity, etc?)
    - Happiness (can living with no eternal perspective bring any real happiness?)
    - Joy (what joy can there be in living with no purpose or meaning?)
    - Selfish vs Selfless (living only for self versus living beyond Self)
    - An eternal perspective to life (live/die/gone versus live/die/eternity)

  • An appeal to logic
    - Does belief in God make sense?
    - Does unbelief make sense?
    - What does logic tell us MUST be the truth?
    - Can something come from nothing

  • An appeal to facts
    - Does God exist?
    - Is the Bible His book?
    - Does the evidence support God’s existence?

  • An appeal to human experience.
    - Are you really a good person?
    (most people say they are and base God's acceptance on this... but is it true?)
    - What’s the alternative to belief and faith?
    - What’s the logical conclusion of a lack of belief, concern or interest in God?
    - Human events seem to be pointing to a coming conclusion of history… are you ready?
Other: I've done some blog posts on “does God exist”, random chance and time (life was materialistic accident) and the purpose of “purpose” in our life that I can include.

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Okay, that's my general outline so far. Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas? Comments? Criticism? Put them here in this Linky list and THANK YOU for helping me:

Feb 21, 2011

Lost & Found ~ Ringing the Bell

From Michelle:

Have you ever lost a camera? I did, along with a camera card that was filled to the brim with precious memories. Thank goodness my sweet husband found it... several months after I lost it. No comment about WHERE he found it. :-)

I knew I was behind posting here but until I searched through the through the blog looking for pictures, I didn't realize how far behind I was. So if you are game, I will gather up the pictures I found and retrieve the ones I took on borrowed cameras and catch you up on Abby.

Abby's energy level is improving and she is attacking life with an intensity that surprises even me. At 6 months old Abby earned the nickname, the Guatemalan Pistol. The pistol is back. She is curious about everything and afraid of nothing. Sometimes Abby, being Abby, is hilarious but today it was absolutely disgusting. Yep, I said disgusting.

Abby would live outside 24/7 if we would let her. She spends every free moment examining plants, bugs, rock, dirt, etc. Yesterday she dunked Landis into our neighbors outdoor goldfish pond, so he could "see the fish better"... disgusting. Today our sweet "princess" carried "beautiful" feathers into our home... that were still attached to the bird's entire intact wing. Disgusting.

We were warned that Abby's immune system would would take up to a year to recover from the chemo. Thankfully, so far, it is handling Abby's adventures just fine.

NO pics of the bird's wing, but Brent wishes he cold have taken a picture of my face when she brought it in.

Here's some pictures of Abby ringing the end of treatment bell when she finished chemo. It's a pretty emotional moment when, after 2.5 years of misery, you get to ring this bell that you've walked past and dreamed about during every painful visit for chemo, spinal punctures and hospitalizations. "Ding, ding, ding". Something so simple, so common that held so much meaning and relief.

Ding, ding, ding... signaling the end of 2.5 years of misery.


Abby gets a hug from Dr. Cain who managed her care for the entire 2.5 years.

Feb 17, 2011

Are You Your Kids Drug Dealer? How about Grandma? How About Your Kids Friends Parents?



From Brent

When our 3 year old daughter got Leukemia, over the months we had to keep drawers full of powerful drugs in the house for her treatment. Though we’ve never had any kids with a drug problem, we knew this represented a temptation and potential danger for the younger kids who didn’t know better, and the older kids who might be curious or peer pressured. So we locked it all up.

Since then, I’ve been hearing more and more about the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse… not just by willing adults but by kids who see it all as “fun”. If you are a parent, and you aren’t on alert about prescription drugs, you are making a huge mistake. Statistics shows that high school and college kids are several times more likely to get high on prescription drugs than illegal.

And where are they getting them? Parents bathrooms, the “drug cabinet” at home, and if you haven’t thought about it, better wake up about the Grandparents house. The elderly typically have a small pharmacy of drugs, no kids around, and it doesn’t even cross their mind that grandkids might pilfer their medicine cabinet, a few pills here, and few pills there. Purses, nightstands, bathrooms, kitchens, cabinet drawers… kids aren’t stupid. They see it. They know where it's at and more and more, know what "the good stuff" looks like.

Oxycontin, Fentynal, Vicodin, methodone, Xanax… kids are trading pills at schools like Pokemon cards (yes, I’m showing my age). Drug overdoses and DEATHS are on a shocking increase because kids (and parents) don’t understand how much more powerful prescribed drugs are than most illegal ones. Kids wash it down with alcohol making the danger exponentially worse. It’s just “fun” to them and since it’s not “illegal” drugs, they somehow think that equates to “no danger, no consequence”.

After all, what good parent would leave drugs sitting around that would kill their own kids?

What’s scary is, the amount of prescription drug it takes to get a great high is already dangerously close to the amount that can kill you. Wash it down with a shot of liquor and yesterday’s High School cheerleader is today’s subject of grief counseling.

For you Christians out there, it is interesting to note that the Bible clearly states that drug use* would be a rampant problem in the last days of human history. In the past, we’ve always naturally assumed that meant illegal drugs. Illegal drug use PALES in comparison to the use, and increasingly the abuse of prescription drugs (and adults are leading by example... a pill for every ailment, bad mood, negative emotion or just to escape). Anyone can get them, including kids. Go to the Doctor, complain about a symptom and get a prescription. If a Doctor refuses, just go to another Doctor. It’s easy to get illegal drugs. It’s effortless to get legal ones.

Due to many cultural developments that are too involved to elaborate on here, we’ve become a “pill for every ailment” society whether physical, mental or emotional. The current generation of kids are growing up learning to ask for “medicine” for any discomfort or problem, real or perceived. By the time they are teens, they have no mental reservation at all about popping pills.

I’m 45 and we rarely took pills growing up. REALLY sick? Maybe something for fever and headache. Or the occasional antibiotic from the Doctor. Kids today are fed a diet of pills for everything from the common cold to depression to the inability to pay attention to any slight discomfort.

Given the billions and billions and billions of dollars in profit for the medical community, there is NO incentive for them to do anything accept INCREASE the availability and prescription of more and more drugs. Just like the Bible predicted. We now can see this is primarily referring to drug use that is blessed, applauded, condoned and encouraged by the human race.

Things you should do:

  • Lock up your drugs where you kids have NO access to them; this includes over the counter medicines that don’t require a prescription.

  • Be much more cautious and hesitant to give your kids pills; there is no benefit for them to fix every little discomfort with a pill. Back in the old fashioned, out-of-touch days, parents use to realize that some adversity and discomfort helped kids to be strong and more resilient and less whiney. Less whiney? Wouldn’t that be nice.

  • Reconsider your decision to use drugs for emotional and behavioral issues; we use to RAISE kids and PARENT kids; now we’ve allowed a highly profitable mental health and pharmaceutical industry to convince us that behavioral and emotional difficulties can be remedied or controlled by chemicals (the effectiveness of which is COMPLETELY unproven, and increasingly contradicted by evidence as dangerous and ineffective)

  • Talk to Grandma and Grandpa about locking up their medicines in their home

  • Education your kids about prescription drugs. They are not harmless. They are more powerful than most illegal drugs, and it only takes a pill or two of the wrong kind or mixture and a couple of beers to kill you. Teach them not to listen to their “no big deal” friends. They are toying with death.

  • If your kids get a prescription for an injury or illness DO NOT ALLOW them to hang on to or dispense their own doses. Given them ONLY what they need and lean towards ending the use of them sooner rather than later (doesn’t apply to antibiotics which MUST be taken until finished).

  • Be suspicious of your kids friends who ask to use your bathroom. Keep your drugs OUT of the bathroom and locked up where they will never have access. Not only could you be saving a life, you might be saving yourself the liability of some kid overdosing on YOUR drugs and the inevitable lawsuit that will follow.
What are your suggestions to other readers about how they can combat this rising problem of prescription drug use/abuse? Add your suggestion to the Idea Linky below:

* Gal 5:19-21; Revelation 9:21; and others – the Greek word for witchcraft or sorcery is “pharmakeia” which is where we get our word for pharmacy… in other words, drug use. It makes no distinction about legal or illegal, just drug use. Some people say that the Bible does specifically say “in the last days… “ about drug use but if you read the context of the verses and place them in their proper overview of God’s chronology, it’s plain that this is the warning God intended for us. We ignore that or attempt to explain it away at our own peril . The message is clear and human experience now plainly gives evidence to it’s accuracy.

Feb 6, 2011

Super Bowl - Declaration of Independence

Many of you probably saw the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Super Bowl show. Good for them.

There are two problems: 1) most Americans, sadly, could care less about the monumental documents that provide the bedrock of our Republic, and 2) most people cannot understand the vocabulary anymore.

I can't do much about the first problem but I have done something to help with the second. A few years ago I wrote a "common English" version of the Declaration of Independence... even formatting it in a ready to print version.

Please download it and share it with your family. Read it. Discuss it. Teach them why it is so important. If you're waiting for the government to do it, you'll be disappointed.

Enjoy the game.

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The Declaration of Independence
A Modern English Rewrite by Brent Riggs

Download a printable PDF here with no Author Preface: 8.5x11 11x17

The Bill of Rights in Modern English

The Declaration of Independence IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

Every State in America agrees with and declares the following,

When it becomes necessary during the normal course of human history that a specific group of People find it undeniable that they must completely end their relationship with another group of People and assume in this world an equal, separate and sovereign status among nations (to which the Laws of God entitle all mankind) - common and decent respect for humanity compels that group of People to clearly and publicly declare their reasons which have forced them to end the relationship in question.

We hold the following truths to be obvious and undeniable,

  • All men are created equal and have been equipped and supplied by the Creator with certain rights that cannot and must not be taken away which include:
    • Life
    • Personal freedom (liberty)
    • And the right to pursue happiness.

To secure these God-ordained rights, Governments are created and they derive their power and authority from the People they govern, who give them permission to govern, and willingly submit to their authority.

However, when any Government decides to take away the right of personal freedom and the pursuit of happiness, it is the right of the People under that Government to change the Government, or if necessary, get rid of the Government altogether, to recreate a Government which are is once again founded upon the principles of freedom, and organized in such a way as to guarantee those freedoms.

Logic, caution and good judgment requires that established Governments should not be altered hastily, without good reason or for temporary circumstances. As well, experience has demonstrated that the People have a tendency to suffer Government evils, rather than change them, as long as the suffering is not too extreme. Why? Because People get used to things being a certain way, and it is difficult and takes great effort to change.

But… when a long series of abuses and stealing of freedoms has occurred by the Government, which are all meant to achieve the goal of putting the People under the rule of violent tyrants, it becomes the right of the People – even more it becomes the duty of the People – to defeat and cast away that Government and create a new Government and new safeguards to protect their freedom.

This is what has happened to the thirteen Colonies who have been patient in this matter of suffering. The Colonies have reached a point where they have no choice but to alter their current system of Government because their freedoms have been abused.

The King of England has a long history of recurring abuses and seizing freedom by violent threats. The King has one single objective: to take absolute, dictatorial control over the Colonies. To prove this, consider the following facts which we make public for the whole world to evaluate:

  • The King has refused to sign into law a system where Courts administer justice
  • The King has forbid his Governors to pass urgent laws that are extremely important to us. They must delay the laws and get the King's permission first. Even when the Governors suspend the laws, the King still neglects to consider them anyway.
  • The King has refused to sign or consider other laws that enact provisions for large groups of People unless those People give up their right to be represented in the Government – in other words, they must give up their freedom to get the King to pass the law… something only a Tyrant would ask the People to do.
  • The King has called the Government leaders together in unusual and uncomfortable places, far from any legal resources or Public Records for the sole purpose of making them so tired and uncomfortable, they will simply agree with the King and do what he wants.
  • The King has repeatedly shut down the parts of the Government that represent the People. Why? Because they have opposed him when he has abused the rights of the People they represent.
  • The King has refused for long periods of time to allow other Representatives of the People to be elected after he himself dissolved their Representation. So the Representatives, who simply cannot walk away and forget those they represent or their duties, have returned to the People to do their service. Meanwhile, the country remains exposed to invasion by other countries, and intense turmoil and uncertainty from within.
  • The King has tried to prevent people from coming to live in our States, obstructing Laws that allow foreigners to become citizens, refusing to sign laws that encourage foreigners to migrate to this country, and making new laws that make it more difficult to own or buy land here.
  • The King has hindered the administration of law and justice by refusing to allow us to create Courts and appoint Judges.
  • The King has appointed his own puppet Judges who will do nothing except what the King says to do. If not, he will remove them from office or not pay them.
  • The King has created many new public offices in order to send large groups of Government officials to harass the People, and take their wealth.
  • The King has kept his battle-ready Armies living among us, even in times of peace, without our permission or agreement.
  • The King has declared that his Army is not subject to our laws or authority.
  • The King has agreed to make us subject to the laws and authority of foreign Governments and disregarding our own laws, he gives his agreement to the foreign law makers.
  • The King houses and feeds large Armies within our civilian population.
  • The King protects his Armies from any punishment or prosecution by fake trials even if they are guilty of murdering our citizens.
  • The King has cut off our trade with other parts of the world.
  • The King has imposed taxes on us without our permission or agreement.
  • The King often refuses our citizens the benefits of a trial by jury.
  • The King will transport our citizens across the ocean and put them on trial for pretend violations of the law.
  • The King has abolished our Government in one area only to set up his own Government. Then the King will enlarge the territory this new Government is responsible for, and claim that the citizens of this expanded area are now under the absolute rule of the Government the King set up.
  • The King has taken away our own Government agreements, dismissed our most valuable laws, and fundamentally changed the way we govern ourselves by suspending our Legislatures and declaring that the King and his representatives now have the power to make law in all cases.
  • The King has disowned and dismissed our Government, declaring that we are no longer under his protection as he wages war against us.
  • The King has robbed our overseas trade, destroyed our coastal economy, burned our communities and ruined the lives of our people.
  • The King is, at this very moment, sending large Armies of foreign soldiers of death to complete the work of destroying us, of ruining our country and establishing his tyranny over us. The King acts with a cruelty and betrayal that has seldom been matched in even the most barbaric of times… actions that are totally unworthy of a ruler in a civilized world.
  • The King has captured our Citizens while out at Sea and has forced them to fight against their own country and to kill their friends and family – or face death.
  • The King has stirred up rebellions among us and has gone about trying to convince the violent Indian populations to kill us. The Indians are well known to have only one rule of warfare: kill every man, woman and child without mercy no matter what their age or physical condition.

At every stage of our suffering and oppression under this King, we have humbly, repeatedly, officially and publicly asked for the ceasing of this oppression, and the correction of these abuses. Our requests have been met only with further injury and insult. A King who has this type of character and morals is defined in only one possible way: a Tyrant, unfit to rule free People.

We have never failed to warn or inform our British brethren. From time to time, we tell them about the attempts of the King and their Government to extend their authority over us. We remind them of the reason why we left England to come to this new country. We have tried to appeal to their own sense of justice and goodness, and have sincerely asked them, based on our common ties of ancestry and family, to not agree with or cooperate with these violations of our freedom which deny that we are a separate Nation. We now consider our brethren in England, as we do all peoples of the world, Enemies if we are at war, and Friends if we have peace.

Therefore, as the Representatives of the United States of America, we, the General Congress, having assembled and prayed to God about the honor and rightness of our conclusions, publish and declare with grave seriousness by the name and authority of the People of these Colonies the following:

The United States have the right to freedom, and ARE free and independent. We denounce and separate ourselves from all authority or allegiance to the King of England and dissolve any political agreements or connections between America and Britain.

As free and independent States, we have the full right and authority to declare War, make peace agreements, build alliances with other countries, establish trade and commerce with the world… and do anything else that free and independent countries have the right to do.

In support of this Declaration, we rely on God to protect and provide for us. Together, we all promise our lives, wealth and honor as a pledge to uphold and honor this Declaration of Independence.

Copyright 2010 G. Brent Riggs

www.brentriggsblog.com | www.seriousfaith.com

brent@brentriggs.com

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The 56 signatures on the Declaration:

Georgia:

  • Button Gwinnett
  • Lyman Hall
  • George Walton

North Carolina:

  • William Hooper
  • Joseph Hewes
  • John Penn

South Carolina:

  • Edward Rutledge
  • Thomas Heyward, Jr.
  • Thomas Lynch, Jr.
  • Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts:

  • John Hancock

Maryland:

  • Samuel Chase
  • William Paca
  • Thomas Stone
  • Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:

  • George Wythe
  • Richard Henry Lee
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Benjamin Harrison
  • Thomas Nelson, Jr.
  • Francis Lightfoot Lee
  • Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania:

  • Robert Morris
  • Benjamin Rush
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • John Morton
  • George Clymer
  • James Smith
  • George Taylor
  • James Wilson
  • George Ross

Delaware:

  • Caesar Rodney
  • George Read
  • Thomas McKean

New York:

  • William Floyd
  • Philip Livingston
  • Francis Lewis
  • Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

  • Richard Stockton
  • John Witherspoon
  • Francis Hopkinson
  • John Hart
  • Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:

  • Josiah Bartlett
  • William Whipple

Massachusetts:

  • Samuel Adams
  • John Adams
  • Robert Treat Paine
  • Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:

  • Stephen Hopkins
  • William Ellery

Connecticut:

  • Roger Sherman
  • Samuel Huntington
  • William Williams
  • Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:

  • Matthew Thornton

Feb 3, 2011

One Lunch, Many Children

From Brent

It's easy to help... so easy that sometimes we lose sight of how easy it is compared to the amount of NEED that exists. Like you, I get overwhelmed sometimes about how much need confronts us every day.

As you know from reading our blog, we don't parade endless appeals across to you, tugging on heart strings and ramping up the guilt trips. Occasionally a special opportunity comes along that we feel drawn to, and we choose to put it out there to you. Here's a great chance to have the whole family do something together that tangibly demonstrates charity, fasting and heavenly reward.

Our friend, Amy over at "Building the Blocks" is hosting a creative effort we can all participate in, and feel REALLY good about.

Give up your lunch on Feb 3rd. Sorry, I know it's late notice. So maybe you can do dinner today or lunch tomorrow.

Donate the money you've would have spent on that meal to the Adami Tulu Preschool for Orphans. Take that lunch hour to pray for the salvation and well-being of those orphans. Then, enjoy the eternity of blessing and treasure that our small gifts add up too. Do this with your kids. Give them a chance to feel and understand giving up something for others.

One lunch. Many children. Treasure in Heaven. Spiritual Blessings.

See... it's so easy to help. And the blessing is ours while impoverished orphans get blessed.

Get the details on Amy's blog here.