Monday, December 24, 2007

Divorce: Harmful to Kids and the Environment?

Is divorce bad for children?? The data strongly suggests that it is. There is no shortage of studies that show a correlation between divorce and what social scientists call "adverse outcomes," such as drug use, teen pregnancy, depression, and other bad things.

Yet, even with the data, many scientists and academics decline to tell people that they should stay married for the sake of children.

If Americans will not stay together for their children's sake, would they do it to save the planet?

That is the question being asked in the wake of a recent Michigan State study. Researchers there found that divorce "exacts a serious toll on the environment." How? It boosts "the energy and water consumption of those who used to live together."



Why this should be the case is not hard to understand: Divorce turns what used to be one household into two. The efficient use of resources, including money, that comes naturally to families living under the same roof no longer applies. In its place are two of just about everything. The researchers calculated that, as the result of divorce, an additional 38 million rooms had to be heated and lighted.

The impact of this divorce-induced consumption is not trivial, they say. The researchers calculated that if divorced couples had stayed married, the "United States would have saved 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 BILLION gallons of water"—and that's in 2005 alone.

That is approximately as much electricity as American households use in three weeks and nearly as much water as all of American industry uses in an entire year.

Clearly, the study's authors were right when they said that after blaming "industries for environmental problems," it is time to look at the impact of households. But if you are expecting environmental groups to emphasize or even mention getting and staying married as a way to "save the planet," well, you are mistaken.

The head of the Earth Policy Institute told the Washington Post that "shifting to more energy-efficient appliances is the answer, not trying to prevent divorce or trying to make divorce more difficult." In other words, get divorced if you like—just make sure your new home has an energy-efficient dishwasher and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

No surprise here. Environmentalism, as Los Angeles Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez puts it, increasingly resembles a "religious awakening." But, like most modern religions, its aim is to make the adherent feel righteous, not to be righteous.

Thus, given the choice between personal fulfillment and "saving the planet," the choice is easy: The environment joins the kids on the list of those things whose well-being is sacrificed on the altar of our autonomy. Just as our children have to settle for "quality time," "Mother Earth" will have to be content with energy-efficient appliances and a check to an environmental group. Any real sacrifice is for other people to make.

Of course, that does not change the impact that our choices have on both people and now, it seems, the planet. We can violate the moral order for only so long before the stones themselves begin to cry out.

Copyright © 2007 Prison Fellowship

BreakPoint is a daily commentary on news and trends from a Christian perspective. Heard on more than 1000 radio outlets nationwide, BreakPoint transcripts are also available on the Internet. BreakPoint is a production of The Wilberforce Forum, a division of Prison Fellowship: 1856 Old Reston Avenue, Reston, VA 20190.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Face the New Year Without Fear

God's Word brings us a comforting promise, along with an insightful command as we face a New Year: "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

We can live this coming year without fear if we apply these four incredibly wonderful truths to our lives and root them deep into our hearts.

The Contentment of His Provision
Contentment is not getting what you want, but it is wanting what you already have. First Timothy 6:6-8 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us therewith be content." If you know Jesus Christ, you have contentment. If you've got clothes on your back, something to eat, and Jesus Christ in your heart, you're rich!

Do you know why we have fear? Because we think our needs or the needs of someone we love are not going to be met. Or we fear that the things we think are meeting our needs are going to be taken away from us. The deepest need of your heart can only be met in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Companionship of His Presence
I don't know what I'm going to face next year. But there's one thing I know, He will never leave me. Are you a child of God? He will never leave you either. Isn't that wonderful!

What's another reason we may fear in the coming year? Because we're afraid we're going to have to face something we don't understand, and we're going to have to face it alone.

When God's Word promises that God will never forsake you, it literally means that He will never abandon you. He will not give up on you. We need to practice the presence of the Lord this coming year. When the devil comes and knocks at you heart's door, you can simply say, "Jesus, please go answer the door."

The Confidence of His Promise
We're going to zero in on a little phrase in our verses in Hebrews, "He hath said." A promise is no better than the one who makes it. Who says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee"? It is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. This is the confidence of His promise.

In the coming year, when you say, "God, I just don't have the strength." The omnipotent God will answer, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." When you say, "God, I'm afraid of what is going to happen." The omnipresent God says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." And when you say, "God, I don't know what to do." The omniscient God will respond, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." He himself hath said it.

The Comfort of His Protection
Hebrews 13:6 promises, "So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Now, put that with verse five which says, "He hath said."

Like I said earlier, I don't know what you're going to go through this coming year. But I know you can boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, so I will not fear what man shall do to me." When you find your contentment, companionship, and confidence in Jesus. Then, you'll find your comfort and courage in Jesus.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Death of a Dream by Lynn Morgan

After my divorce, I had to find new hopes for the future. Lynn Morgan
Two days before my divorce was finalized, I came across a childhood picture of myself. In it I wore a bright, innocent smile, and my eyes sparkled with hope. As I traced that smile with my finger, I remembered my little-girl dreams of a lavish wedding shared with a handsome groom, a house surrounded with a picket fence, and a minivan filled with children to nurture and love. A happily-ever-after.

Losing the Dream

When that little girl in the picture grew up, she found her handsome groom and celebrated a wedding with all the trimmings. But our marriage was rocky from the start; my husband was unfaithful as well as verbally and physically abusive. As a believer who'd grown up in a strong Christian home layered with generations of enduring marriages, I simply didn't include divorce in my vocabulary. Instead, I worked hard to improve our troubled relationship, seeking both individual and marital counseling from church leaders and Christian counselors.

But after eight years of counseling, prayer, patience, and failed attempts at reconciliation, I realized I had biblical grounds to leave. So as an excruciating last resort, I separated from my husband and filed for divorce.

I wasn't prepared for how surreal divorce felt. While my life crumbled to pieces, the outside world continued unchanged. I taught students in my English classes about misplaced modifiers and comma splices. I chatted with coworkers about the weather and world events.

Memories—of my husband's hearty chuckle, his silly nickname for the dog, our week spent painting the house together—caught me unexpectedly as I drove to work, forcing me to fight back tears before my first class. Even a bad marriage has its good times.

A Comforting Presence

So much died with the end of my marriage—my relationship, my future dreams, even my hope for children—yet I didn't have the closure of a funeral. No condolences, flowers, or eulogies comforted me.

In the middle of all the pain, a jarring question arose within me: Who am I now?

I felt scared and alone, aching for a sign of God's presence. Then I remembered God doesn't promise freedom from trials and heartaches. But he does promise to be with us through them: "When [not if] you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" (Isaiah 43:2).

In addition to God's comfort, my family became my shelter in those cruel months of the divorce, supporting me with prayer, encouragement, and loving hugs. Still, I felt a new awkwardness with them. Only weeks after I signed the divorce papers, I attended my cousin's wedding ceremony where I sat on a long pew with my relatives, all married. As I watched the bride and groom exchange marriage vows, I remembered my own wedding day. The memory stung.

The Identity Question

In the middle of all the pain, a jarring question arose within me: Who am I now? I was no longer a wife, a Mrs., a daughter-in-law. Divorce had stripped away my identity, leaving a gaping hole. Where do I fit in?

I began my search to answer that question the day after my final divorce hearing when I accepted a new job teaching international students. That same semester, I returned to school for my master's degree, reigniting my passion for literature and writing. These fulfilling pursuits led me to greater understanding of my talents and interests, providing significant pieces in the puzzle of my identity.

For the first time in years, I had the opportunity to take a good, long look at my life. With no husband and no marital responsibilities to distract me, I could discover what I enjoy and what I want from life. And I realized I was stronger than I'd thought and braver than I'd imagined.

Rays of Hope

After the divorce, I moved in with my parents for financial reasons. Their yard was dotted with tall trees where birds performed tiny morning symphonies outside my window. Every evening I watched the sinking sun light up their lawn with a golden glow. Somehow, admiring the strength of their huge oak tree gave me incredible comfort. Life did go on—leaves fell, birds sang, squirrels rummaged. And as each day passed, I realized I could go on, too.

My pain made me poignantly aware of what I usually take for granted—the orange glow of a sunset, family members, friendships, each breath.

Slowly I healed. Work gave me purpose. Memories of the marriage faded. Soon I was able to go through an entire day with true and sustained joy. I started to feel whole again as God renewed me.

Undoubtedly what comforted me most during the heartache of my divorce was God's constancy. Though the world around me was virtually unrecognizable, he never changed. My divorce made this truth clear: People may disappoint, hurt, and betray me, but God won't ever let me down.

The Little Girl

So, what became of that little girl in the picture? She's stronger now. She doesn't take family members for granted, and she values her relationship with God above all others. Although her little-girl dreams have faded and changed, they've yielded to new, realistic ones that offer gifts of self-discovery and purpose—and lead to a happily-ever-after of a different kind.

Lynn Morgan is a pseudonym.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ten career-damaging behaviours to avoid


“O, how full of briers is this working-day world!” is the famous Shakespearian quote from ‘As You Like It’. External pressures, thorns, obstacles and difficulties aside, how many of us are responsible for unwittingly hampering our chances of career success through our own misplaced and misguided attitudes and behaviours. Below are ten common faux-pas that can ruin a career and should be avoided at all costs.

1. Poor Time Management

Missing deadlines, failing to abide by agreed timelines, arriving to meetings late and generally disrespecting approved schedules is a surefire way to lose credibility and professional respect. Try to value each and every minute on the job and recognize the inefficiencies that arise from procrastination and slovenly time management and the impact these have on the organisation as a whole.

2. Failure to Deliver on Promises

A promise made should be a promise kept if your professional credibility is to remain intact. Avoid making promises you cannot deliver on. Unless you are known as someone who can be strictly depended on to follow through and deliver on time you are likely to be passed over for promotions and key assignments. When you do need more time or resources for an assignment communicate the requirement formally and professionally and manage the situation to show you are in control and will not be sacrificing on quality of delivery.

3. Poor Accountability

Accountability, a close reactive of honesty is an essential character trait in today’s workplace. Avoid becoming known as the sour apple who usurps all credit and circumvents all blame. If you have made an error, admitting to it in a timely manner avoids an unnecessary escalation, earns you the confidence and respect of those around you, and indicates professionalism, honesty and maturity.

4. Poor interpersonal skills

All research indicates that emotional intelligence and people skills are an essential ingredients for success in life and at work. Whether it is suppliers, clients, superiors, colleagues or subordinates you are dealing with the quality and success of that relationship will be largely predicated by how personable you are and how pleasant you are to interact with. If you have a reputation as someone who is difficult to work or interact with chances are people will start to avoid you and your success at mobilizing people or resources to further your goals will be severely diminished.

5. Poor team skills

A good team-player is able to work cohesively within a team framework and contribute, collaborate, communicate and challenge to meet specific goals within that framework. Inability to see beyond one’s self, work well with everyone, find the good qualities of others in the team, communicate persuasively and effectively, listen actively and attentively, give and welcome input, offer encouragement and assistance where needed and show respect, patience and courtesy inevitably leads to marginalisation and failure to meet personal and professional goals.

6. Lack of ethics or professionalism

Conducting personal business on the job and any other activities that show flagrant disrespect for company time, resources and property are both unethical and unprofessional. Chatting endlessly on the job, office gossip, wasting office supplies, laying about important work-related matters, back-biting the boss, spreading office secrets, routinely bringing personal matters to the workplace all fall under this category.

7. Lack of initiative

Complacency is a surefire road to professional mediocrity. To succeed it is essential that you continue to show enthusiasm, stretch the limits, be proactive and test the boundaries in the interest of innovation. Take responsibility for your personal and professional growth and continue to build momentum in your training and profession development activities. If you chose to simply lie low and casually bide your time while others race ahead in their careers you will most probably be overlooked for promotions and plum assignments and your skills may well eventually become redundant.

8. Inability to Handle Pressure

Every job entails a certain amount of stress and pressure and failure to recognize and handle the strain may lead to a pronounced and sustained decline in performance. Learn to recognize stress and cope with it professionally and effectively. Take breaks and holidays when needed, learn to manage stress and cope with pressure so that it is not an ongoing problem for you. It may be that the pressures mounting on you are due to poor time management or delegation skills or weakness in a certain area in which case developing your skills in these areas is highly advisable.

9. Lone Ranger Syndrome

Team skills are essential in today’s marketplace as is getting along with others and communicating your accomplishments regularly and professionally. Do not try to isolate yourself and excel quietly in private as chances are your performance will not get the exposure and credit it deserves. Personal marketing and effective relationship management are key to career success. Aim to regularly and professionally communicate your private coups to your manager and others in a position to help your career advancement and do not assume your great work and personal victories will automatically get noticed and given the credit they deserve.

10. Stasis

You may well be in your comfort zone and doing very well there but if you don’t challenge yourself in pursuit of further growth and development and continuously move forward and upward you may lose your equilibrium sooner than you expected. Have a vision in mind as pertains to your career and formulate a clear strategy and timeline for getting there which you can regularly benchmark and measure yourself against. Continuous learning, development and self-improvement is a necessity not a luxury for today’s ambitious professional and it is imperative that you keep abreast of the latest trends, tools and technologies in your field and not risk losing ground to the star performers who take personal growth more seriously.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Wedding Check List

TIP: Schedule your final gown fitting and come prepared with the following items:
Shoes you will wear for your wedding - to ensure your gown is just the right length
Lingerie - a bra and slip can transform your silhouette and help create a perfect fit
Headpiece and accessories - you'll want to view your finished look

____ Gown (including Alterations & Bustle)
____ Hair Accessories (Headpiece, Veil & Blusher or other options)
____ Sash/Ribbon
____ Brooch
____ Flowers
____ Jewelry
____ Necklace
____ Earrings
____ Bracelet
____ Handbag
____ Gloves
____ Outerwear (Wrap, Cape, Bolero)
____ Garters (1 for you and 1 to toss)
____ Shoes
____ Lingerie (Bra & Slip)

For YOUR BRIDAL PARTY:
____ Bridesmaid Dresses
____ Color-Coordinated Shoes
____ Handbags
____ Jewelry (Necklace, Earrings, Brooch)
____ Hair Accessories
____ Ribbons, Sashes, Flowers
____ Outerwear (Wraps, Jackets)
____ Gloves
____ Flower Girl Dresses
____ Flower Girl Basket & Accessories
____ Junior Bridesmaid Dresses
____ Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Other WEDDING ESSENTIALS:
____ Wedding Planner
____ Guest Book
____ Toasting Glasses
____ Candles

For YOUR GROOM & GROOMSMEN:
____ Tuxedos with coordinating vests and ties
____ Ring Bearer Tuxedo
____ Ring Bearer Pillow

For YOUR GUESTS & PARTY:
____ Invitations & Thank You Notes
____ Bridesmaid Gifts
____ Gifts for Groomsmen (Don't forget a gift for your groom)
____ Gifts for Parents
____ Guest Favors (if you have the budget)
____ Guest Book & Pen (oh...is better if you can get gold / silver color)
____ First Dance Music
____ Toasting Glasses
____ Candles
____ Disposable Cameras (nowadays lots of people get this and let their guest to actually take photos of the bride and themself... is a nice concept.. but i'm not sure this can be apply in Malaysia or not... hmm.. most probably.. it will disappear i think)

For YOUR HONEYMOON:
____ Special Occasion Dress
____ Jewelry
____ Handbag
____ Shoes
____ Passport

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How Do You Choose the Right Career Path for You?

Choosing the right career eludes some of us right up until retirement. Be one of the lucky ones who have truly found their calling. The following tips from Bayt.com should help.

Franklin D Roosevelt once said “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Thankfully, we live in trial-and-error times where growth and change are expected and employers have learned to tolerate if not wholeheartedly appreciate and welcome the diversity in background and skills that come from career changers.

In lieu of life-long job and career stability, many of today’s professionals espouse a career trajectory that is open to responding to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. These may be motivated by entirely extraneous factors such as economic restructuring, downsizing, upsizing, the emergence of lucrative new industry sectors or motivated by changes in personal situation which could include age, changes to marital or family status, geographical preferences, new life demands, desire for better work/life balance etc.
Whatever the motivation, career change is no longer the frowned-upon sole recourse of the unemployed but a common turn of events and one that is expected to become more so as economies restructure at an ever more accelerated pace, information about alternate career paths flows ever more freely, work/life balance becomes an increasingly hot topic, and a booming global economy means opportunities abound.

A recent on-line poll run by the Middle East’s #1 job site Bayt.com covering over 1,420 professionals that enquired how often candidates have changed career paths in their life saw the majority of respondents have changed careers at least once and many had changed careers two times or more. Only 40% of respondents have never changed careers whereas 27% had changed careers once and 32% of respondents had changed careers twice or more.
So how in such times of flux and opportunity and in light of the vast amount of choice out there do you determine the right career for you? Below the Career Experts from Bayt.com offer some pointers as you approach this important topic:

DREAM

(Examine your passions and interests)
1. Read the current literature on career change – the whys, how-tos and whens. Books such as What Colour is Your Parachute are a great way to start the self-exploration process.
2. Ask yourself what you would do in an ideal world if money were no imperative. What would you do if you had a year away from work or if you could emulate someone who in your opinion has a dream job? Would you write poetry, run a global corporation, compete in athletics, design world-class architectural projects, publish literature, start your own little business, work with children, with the elderly, teach, heal, perform?
3. Ask yourself what tasks you ideally like to immerse yourself in. Do you prefer the analytical aspects of your current (or past) job, the administrative aspects, the leadership aspects, the coaching aspects, problem-solving aspects, decision-making in teams, writing, designing, co-ordinating, managing, creating, trouble-shooting etc. Where do you find yourself happiest and most comfortable?
4. Make a list of those aspects of your job or other jobs that you don’t like and wish to avoid.
5. Be honest with yourself, be creative and dare to dream as you think of what you would really like to do. The dreaming stage is not the time to focus – allow yourself to really explore all avenues of interest and be curious about new paths and possibilities.

DETERMINE

(Examine your values, priorities and skills)
6. Determine what your priorities really are. How important is work-life balance to you versus career growth or financial stability? How important is leisure versus work versus learning for you? Are you willing to put one or two on hold while you pursue a third or is your ideal life plan a blended one that includes the three? Are you content with financial stability or are you interested in huge financial gain? Are you interested in a job or a career? Is prestige and social status critical to you and how much of these does your career, past and potential, afford you?
7. Determine your real values and ask what career satisfies and is consistent with those. Albert Einstein’s advice on this front was: “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
8. Make an inventory of your skills and strengths.
9. Take self-assessment tests to even more deeply understand what it is that motivates, drives and inspires you.

DIG DEEP/ DISSECT

(Examine alternate career paths)
10. Research alternate career paths – look at growth potential, job profiles, pay, benefits, mobility, work/life balance and all other issues that will determine your longevity in the career.
11. As you hone in on potential career paths obtain the maximum amount of information about these careers. Read industry blogs and websites, talk to people in the field, subscribe to industry journals and newsletters and leave no stone unturned as you familiarize yourself with the potential new territory.
12. Map your personal inventory of skills, interests, values against the requirements of alternative career paths.
13. Realistically analyse and make contingencies for those factors that impede your career mobility. These may be geographical mobility issues, financial limitations, family considerations, or education/ training issues. Look at occupational and non-occupational barriers to career entry and determine realistically how you can/will overcome those.
14. Seek counseling and advice. As you seek to reinvent yourself you may want to talk to a professional counselor formally, or informally to someone in your new area, an old colleague or a peer. Formal counseling is useful when trying to overcome mental blocks to career growth and advancement. Often, the biggest detriment to career development is low self-esteem, anxiety fear, inertia and the inability to deal with change meaningfully and constructively.

DECIDE

(Select the ultimate career path)
15. Let your natural instincts, your introspection and the fruits of your intense research guide the way. Many of us in today’s number-crunching world have learned to quell those very essential natural instincts that propel us towards leadership, happiness and success.
16. Don’t be swayed by external pressures. Often family, friends and society place undue pressure on a person to conform to or follow a certain career path. Pablo Picasso once said “My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk, you'll end up as the Pope." Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”” .
17. Don’t let financial considerations alone guide you unless of course you have determined that financial gain in itself (with all its glories and trappings) is your overriding value, interest and goal in life. Oftentimes, short-term financial losses can be compensated for by the fact that you will eventually prosper most and acquire the most depth and skill in the field that most interests you.

DARE

(Confidently stride into your new career)
18. Believe in yourself. Have faith and be bold and brave as you follow your aspirations. Don’t let negative self-perceptions and external diatribes detract you from your true calling. After the homework, the reading, the research, the introspection, soul-searching, networking and analysis, close your eyes and find the person you always wanted to be.
Robert Kennedy famously once said “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Arm yourself with your dreams, your invaluable newly acquired self-knowledge and your rigorous research into the plethora of opportunities out there and don’t hesitate in pursuing the career of your dreams. Your success will thank you!

Amazing Book Sculpture Brian Dettmer

Brian Dettmer Awesome Book CarvingBrian Dettmer (born 1974) is an American contemporary artist. He is noted for his alteration of preexisting media — such as old books, maps, record albums, and cassette tapes - to create transformed works of visual fine art. See more of his works..

Amazing Book Sculpture Brian Dettmer

Monday, December 10, 2007

Breathless by Shayne Ward



The video for the brand new single Breathless - as seen on X Factor. Available for download from the 18th November, in the shops 19th November. www.shayneward.com

Saturday, December 8, 2007

New and improved AdSense features

AdSense for mobile now available

If you currently run a website designed for mobile phones, or are planning to set one up, you can now monetize your site with Google AdSense for mobile. Similar to AdSense for content, AdSense for mobile automatically serves targeted ads to your mobile webpages, enabling you to earn money while providing useful information to your users. If you'd like to learn more about the specifics of the program, check out the policies and requirements. Or to get started right away, simply sign in to your AdSense account, visit the AdSense Setup tab, and select AdSense for mobile as the product.

AdSense mobile logo

Announcing Video Units

We're excited to announce video units, a new way for publishers to enrich their sites with premium, relevant video content on an embedded YouTube player. We know one of your top goals is to enhance your users' experience, so video units allow you to choose which video categories to target to your site and which to exclude, as well as to customize the color scheme and layout of the YouTube player. Plus, the ads provided with the videos are highly targeted and non-intrusive. If you're looking to monetize and enrich your site with premium video content, learn more about video units or simply log in to your account to get started.

Choose your advertisers with Referrals 2.0

All publishers can now take advantage of the newest improvement to our referrals program: cost-per-action ads from our pool of AdWords advertisers. In addition to referring your users to our Google products, you can pick and choose from the many great products and services offered by our advertisers. You can match the content of your site and your users' interests by selecting the specific ads that you want to show on your page. Even better, you can place up to three referrals ads on your page in addition to your standard AdSense for Content ad units.

Adsense Referrals

To get started, just visit the AdSense Setup tab, choose Referrals as your product, and start finding the perfect ads for your site. You can also find out more about the advantages of referrals by reading our Inside AdSense blog post.

Get your ads in shape with rounded corners

You probably noticed the launch of our redesigned ad formats earlier this year, but did you know that you can customize the shape of the ad unit further by selecting between square, slightly rounded, or very rounded corners? To get started with these new shapes, visit the 'AdSense Setup' tab in your account. We suggest that you choose the corner style that best matches the look and feel of your sites.

Google
 

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