Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 2 No. 48 January 19, 2012

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Thy right hand will hold me
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16
Table of Contents
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Editor's Note
After a very hectic theological period covering the advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons, we can take a short breather before we enter the 3 day lent on January 30 followed by the Great Lent beginning on February 20.

As a result, this issue of Malankara World Journal has more diverse family interest articles. Enjoy.

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Jan 22)
Sermons for This Sunday (Jan 22)
Third Sunday After Denho

This Sunday's Gospel reading is perhaps the most popular and widely quoted part of the bible. Although the lectionary specifies John 3:1-12, for completeness and for understanding the background, we should read from John 2: 23-3:17. The popular phrases like "Born Again", "God So Loved the World", "Everlasting Life" etc. all come from today's Gospel passage. As such it requires expanded coverage. We have responded to this challenge.  In addition to the expanded coverage for John 3:1-17 from every possible angle, we have also provided particular coverage to John 3:16. This should be a section you should come back often and meditate on the sermons, homilies, commentaries, Gospel analyses, etc. here:

Sermons for the Third Sunday After Denho
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_3rd-sunday-after-denaha.htm

Here is a short outline of today's passage. You can use it as a guide as you read the sermons, homilies and analyses.

REBIRTH AS EXPLAINED BY JESUS TO NICODEMUS

by Dr. Jack Auten

Gospel: John 3:1-15

Introduction:

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and Pharisees were the Law keepers who also enforced the keeping of every law in it's smallest detail

How far one could go on the Sabbath
What made up a "burden"
Tying knots on the Sabbath, etc.

He was also a "ruler" and a member of the Sanhedrin court as well as a teacher.

He was one of the most religious men of his city and of his day.

Nicodemus came to Jesus one night to get some questions clarified that he had. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that a re-birth was needed and that really confused him but Jesus explained, using the Scriptures.

I. MORE THAN "RELIGION" WAS/IS NEEDED

1. A good reputation was/is not enough.

2. Religious activity was/is not enough.

II. A COMPLETE MAKE-OVER WAS/IS NECESSARY

1. It is unknown to man/people how to do this.

2. It is impossible for a man/a person to do it by him/herself, even/when known how.

III. ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS DOES IT HAPPEN

1. One must hear the Word (as water washes and cleanses).

2. There must be a "want" to believe.

3. One must express his/her faith by confessing his/her sins and faith in Jesus.

CONCLUSION:

1. Jesus mentioned the brass serpent that was put on a pole and lifted up for the snake bitten people to look up and in belief and be healed, so must He be lifted up for people to see and believe in.

2. When Jesus had been lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered what Jesus had said that night and he then believed.

3. What Jesus told Nicodemus that night has been happening ever since to countless people who also asked and believed and have been therefore saved.

Another article that explains cultural background to today's Gospel passage can be found in today's Featured article 'Adoption into God's Family.'

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today
I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass. -- God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

The LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him. -- He will ever be mindful of his covenant.

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.

The LORD, thy God in the midst of thee, is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

JOSH. 1:5. Josh. 21:45. -Num. 23:19. Deut. 7:9. Psa. 1l1:5. Isa. 49:15,16. Zeph. 3:17.

"Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine."
Gordon B. Hinckley

Featured This Week: God So Loved..

Adoption into God's Family

by Sarah Dylan Breuer

There wasn't a whole lot of social mobility in the ancient world. A lot of that was because a person's honor was the family honor. If you're born the child of someone important, you're important. If you're born the child of an outcast, you're an outcast. Your birth pretty much set your destiny, since what's possible for you was a function of who your family was.

There were some ways, though, in which you could become affiliated with a higher-status family; the best chances for social mobility (not that there were many such chances) came from these. If you were able to become enslaved to an important family, you would be considered part of the slave-owner's household; while you might be among the lower-ranking members of the household, the importance of the household might make you outrank the highest members of less important families.

There were other ways too of joining a family. Adoption happened sometimes, even between adults. And then there were things like circumcision. Interestingly enough, there were cultures other than Jewish ones that practiced circumcision in the ancient world, and when a man from one of these other cultures (and hence who was already circumcised) converted to Judaism, the rule was that a cut would have to be made specifically so that blood was shed. Circumcision in these cases functions a little like the making of "blood brothers" among children; by the shedding of blood in the way that Abraham shed his own blood when he was circumcised, a man who was not literally a blood descendent of Abraham becomes nevertheless a son of Abraham, a child of God, part of the people of Israel. Now that's mobility – becoming part of God's chosen people.

In many ways, saying that anyone could join God's people by establishing a blood tie to Abraham, who was called out of Ur by God, was pretty radical. But Jesus offered something even more radical than that.

Jesus offered people the chance to become family – not the fraught, dysfunctional version of family that many of us are familiar with, but family that loves as God loves, family in which each person gives of herself or himself with abandon and never loses out, because each other member is giving in the same way – without blood shared or further blood shed. The Gospel according to Mark gets this across when Jesus, leaving his mother and brothers waiting outside, says, "whoever hears the word of God and does it is my sister and my brother and my mother" (Mark 3:31-34). The Gospel according to John gets that across in this Sunday's gospel, by saying that absolutely anyone can be born from above, from the Spirit (interestingly enough, the expression "born again" doesn't appear here!), becoming sister and brother and mother to the one who has been "lifted up," and now occupies the highest place.

The blood that Jesus shed plays a very important role in this gospel, though not in the gruesome way described by some, but because it was the last blood that would ever need to be shed for us to become one human family, children of one God, loving one another as our elder brother Jesus loved and loves us. That's why in Paul's thought, to insist on circumcision is to deny the Good News of the Cross. To all division, to all denial of our connection to and obligation to care for one another, to all striving to get in God's good grace or to keep others out, Jesus says as he says of all bloodshed: IT IS FINISHED. All that is needed for new life, new hope, a new world, has been accomplished, for God so loved the world that God gave us Jesus, sent to save the world from all that divides and dehumanizes.

Jesus is the Lord of Life

by John D. Morris, Ph.D.

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

Verse three of the majestic hymn "Crown Him with Many Crowns" speaks of life--eternal life--made possible by the death of the Creator of life. This was followed by His retaking life and returning in victory from the grave. The hymn expresses it well.

Crown Him the Lord of life, Who triumphed o'er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing Who died and rose on high,
Who died, eternal life to bring, And lives that death may die.

Eternal life is a 'gift of God,' made possible 'by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.' (2 Timothy 1:10) The penalty for sin had to be paid, and so 'Christ died for our sins' (1 Corinthians 15:3). But in order to fully vanquish death and offer forgiven sinners eternal life, He 'rose again the third day' (v. 4) 'wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them' (Hebrews 7:25).

Then, "when he had by himself purged our sins, |he| sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3). "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? . . . Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, 57).

Although eternal death has been vanquished, we still face physical death. Yet there will come a day when "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

Source: Institute for Creation Research

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

by Tullian Tchividjian, Grandson of Billy Graham

Last year I took our church through the Gospels and looked at various events in the life and ministry of Jesus where the shocking, counter-intuitive nature of amazing grace is on display. Each week we looked intently at how Jesus wrecked people afresh with his grace, turning everything that makes sense in our conditional world upside-down and setting sinners free.

Well, I went back to the first of those sermons the other day as I was doing some research and was struck again at how crazy God's grace really is.

I began that series by preaching from Luke 7:36-50. This is the famous account of the sinful woman (most likely a prostitute) barging into a party of religious leaders and washing the feet of Jesus with her tears of repentance. I pointed out that two rescues are happening in this passage: the obvious rescue of the immoral person but also the rescue of the moral person.

Normally when we think of people in need of God's rescuing grace, we think of the unrighteous and the immoral. But what's fascinating to me is that throughout the Bible, it's the immoral person that gets the Gospel before the moral person; it's the prostitute who gets grace; it's the Pharisee who doesn't. What we see in this story is that God's grace wrecks and then rescues, not only the promiscuous but the pious. The Pharisee in this story can't understand what Jesus is doing by allowing this woman to touch him because he assumes that God is for the clean and competent. But Jesus here shows him that God is for the unclean and incompetent and that when measured against God's perfect holiness we're all unclean and incompetent. Jesus shows him that the gospel isn't for winners, but losers: it's for the weak and messed up person, not the strong and mighty person. It's not for the well-behaved, but the dead.

I was reminded once again that Jesus came not to effect a moral reformation but a mortal resurrection (moral reformations can, and have, taken place throughout history without Jesus. But only Jesus can raise the dead, over and over and over again). As the late Lutheran theologian Gerhard Forde put it, "Christianity is not the move from vice to virtue, but rather the move from virtue to grace."

Wrecking every religious category he had, Jesus tells the Pharisee that he has a lot to learn from the prostitute, not the other way around.

The prostitute on the other hand walks into a party of religious people and falls at the feet of Jesus without any care as to what others are thinking and saying. She's at the end of herself. More than wanting to avoid an uncomfortable situation, she wanted to be clean-she needed to be forgiven. She was acutely aware of her guilt and shame. She knew she needed help. She understood at a profound level that God's grace doesn't demand that you get clean before you come to Jesus. Rather, our only hope for getting clean is to come to Jesus. Only in the Gospel does love precede loveliness. Everywhere else loveliness precedes love.

I closed the sermon by recalling a story that Rod Rosenbladt told me when we were together at a conference in Chicago. It's a story about a middle-aged woman who needed help from her pastor.

She went to her pastor and said, "Pastor, you know that I had an abortion a number of years ago?"

"Yes," the Pastor replied. "Well, I need to talk to you about the man I've since met." "Alright," replied the Pastor.

"Well, we met a while back, and started dating and I thought, I need to tell him about the abortion. But I just couldn't. Then things got more serious between us and I thought, I need to tell him about the abortion. But I just couldn't. A while later we got engaged and I thought, I need to tell him about the abortion. But I just couldn't. Then we got married and I thought, I really need to tell him about the abortion. But I just couldn't. So I needed to talk to someone, Pastor, and you're it."

The Pastor replied, "You know, we have a service for this. Let's go through that together." So they did- a service of confession and absolution.

When they were finished, she said to him, "Now I think I have the courage to tell my new husband about my abortion. Thanks, Pastor."

And the Pastor replied to her, "What abortion?"

What the Pharisee, the prostitute, and everyone in between, need to remember every day is that Christ offers forgiveness full and free from both our self-righteous goodness and our unrighteous badness. This is the hardest thing for us to believe as Christians. We think it's a mark of spiritual maturity to hang onto our guilt and shame. We've sickly concluded that the worse we feel, the better we actually are. The declaration of Psalm 103:12 is the most difficult for us to grasp and embrace: "As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." To be convinced in our hearts, said Martin Luther, "that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is the hardest thing." Or, as Corrie ten Boom once said, "God takes our sins—the past, present, and future—and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says 'No Fishing allowed.'" This seems too good to be true...it can't be that simple, that easy, that real!

It is true! No strings attached. No but's. No conditions. No need for balance. If you are a Christian, you are right now under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Your pardon is full and final. In Christ, you're forgiven. You're clean. It is finished.

See Also:

Confession: Reflections of Mother Teresa

Holy Confession - Spiritual Therapy for the Soul

Preparing for Confession - Orthodox Church

Cardinal Stafford's Homily at Penitential Liturgy

[Editor's Note:

Adapted from Tullian Tchividjian's book 'Jesus + Nothing = Everything', published by Crossway Books.

William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. He is a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Tullian is the author of several books including: The Kingdom of God: A Primer on the Christian Life (Banner of Truth), Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life's Most Important Relationship (Multnomah) and Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (Multnomah, 2009). ]

Book: 'With Christ In the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray

Lesson 20: The Chief End of Prayer
[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]

"I go unto the Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." —John xiv. 13.

THAT the Father may be glorified in the Son: it is to this end that Jesus on His throne in glory will do all we ask in His Name. Every answer to prayer He gives will have this as its object: when there is no prospect of this object being obtained, He will not answer. It follows as a matter of course that this must be with us, as with Jesus, the essential element in our petitions: the glory of the Father must be the aim and end, the very soul and life of our prayer.

It was so with Jesus when He was on earth. 'I seek not mine own honour: I seek the honour of Him that sent me;' in such words we have the keynote of His life. In the first words of the high-priestly prayer He gives utterance to it: Father! Glorify Thy son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee. 'I have glorified Thee on earth; glorify me with Thyself.' The ground on which He asks to be taken up into the glory He had with the Father, is the twofold one: He has glorified Him on earth; He will still glorify Him in heaven. What He asks is only to enable Him to glorify the Father more. It is as we enter into sympathy with Jesus on this point, and gratify Him by making the Father's glory our chief object in prayer too, that our prayer cannot fail of an answer. There is nothing of which the Beloved Son has said more distinctly that it will glorify the Father than this, His doing what we ask; He will not, therefore, let any opportunity slip of securing this object. Let us make His aim ours: let the glory of the Father be the link between our asking and His doing: such prayer must prevail.

This word of Jesus comes indeed as a sharp two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. Jesus in His prayers on earth, in His intercession in heaven, in His promise of an answer to our prayers from there, makes this His first object—the glory of His Father. Is it so with us too? Or are not, in large measure, self-interest and self-will the strongest motives urging us to pray? Or, if we cannot see that this is the case, have we not to acknowledge that the distinct, conscious longing for the glory of the Father is not what animates our prayers? And yet it must be so.

Not as if the believer does not at times desire it. But he has to mourn that he has so little attained. And he knows the reason of his failure too. It was, because the separation between the spirit of daily life and the spirit of the hour of prayer was too wide. We begin to see that the desire for the glory of the Father is not something that we can awake and present to our Lord when we prepare ourselves to pray. No! it is only when the whole life, in all its parts, is given up to God's glory, that we can really pray to His glory too. 'Do all to the glory of God,' and, 'Ask all to the glory of God,'—these twin commands are inseparable: obedience to the former is the secret of grace for the latter. A life to the glory of God is the condition of the prayers that Jesus can answer, 'that the Father may be glorified.' Read the rest of the Lesson in Malankara World. http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Murray_20.htm

Previous Lessons (Archive)
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Prayers/Murray/Default.htm

Sons of Thunder

by Greg Laurie

These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them "Sons of Thunder"). . . . —Mark 3:16-17

You don't get a nickname like Sons of Thunder for no reason. But that is how Jesus' disciples, James and John, were known. They were rough-hewn guys—amazing, colorful characters. They would not back away from a confrontation. In fact, they might even have looked forward to one. They could be very aggressive. And they also could be very insensitive.

On one occasion, when the people in a village of Samaria were not responsive to the message of Jesus, it was James and John who wanted to call down fire from heaven on them (see Luke 9:54). When Jesus spoke of His own impending death, about how he would be betrayed and then handed over to the Gentiles to be mocked, spit upon, scourged, and ultimately killed, James and John blurted out, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask. . . . Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory" (Mark 10:35, 37 NKJV). Was that a good time to bring this up? It would be like saying, "Really? Could I have your car?" to someone who just found out they had one week to live. These guys just said what they thought. And they were just like us: hopelessly human and remarkably unremarkable.

But God transformed them. And at the end of their lives, these men, who were known as Sons of Thunder, became known for something else. James was the first apostle to be martyred. And John became known as the apostle of love. He was the author of the Gospel of John as well as the epistles of 1, 2, and 3 John. God made James and John into different people than they were before—and He can do the same for us.

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

2012 Church Calendars/Panjangam

Malankara World has several calendars available for your reference.

Church Calendar of Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church

This calendar, developed by Chev. Daniel B Daniel under SAMAJAM, Piece of Wood in Marah, Land of Midian, includes all important facts of the church including lectionary for Sunday. Chev. Daniel is a Charter member of Malankara World. The calendar is extremely informative.

MOSC Panjangam (English) and MOSC Malayalam Panjangam

These two Panjangams, one in English and the other one in Malayalam, is published by Joykutty, Detroit, a long time very good friend of mine. Joykutty has spent lot of efforts to collect all important festivals etc. in Kerala, US and Malankara Church to prepare for this Panjangam.

All the calendars can be accessed in Malankara World: http://www.malankaraworld.com/library/church_calendar.htm

Health Tip: Help Your Heart Health by Managing Your Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, or hypertension, chances are you might not feel 'sick.' Even so, it can have a big impact on your health. High blood pressure is one of the major causes of heart disease.

High blood pressure is serious. Making lifestyle changes that can help to improve your blood pressure is simple. Normal blood pressure is typically considered to be 119/79 or lower. By working with your doctor and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure under control.

Try the following tips to help manage your blood pressure:

1. Use a blood pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure at home. Ask your doctor or nurse to show you how to do this correctly.
2. Decrease your salt intake.
3. Focus your diet on lean protein, fruits, and vegetables.
4. Drink alcohol in moderation, or not at all.
5. Exercise regularly and watch your weight.
6. Stay on top of your stress.
7. Take your medications correctly.

If you are taking medication for blood pressure, remember to always check with your doctor before changing how you take it. Don’t stop taking your medication even if your blood pressure falls within a normal range.

Source: Kaiser Permanente

Read more health tips in Malankara World Health Section

Cafe - Recipe: Turkey Chili - A Great Winter Meal
[Editor's Note: Winter has finally arrived in North America. Our Great Lent starts on February 20 this year. That gives us about a month to enjoy this great recipe to keep you warm. Enjoy.]

Nothing spells culinary satisfaction in the winter like a bowl of chili. Get all the warm, filling comfort you crave, along with the homemade nutrition your body needs, with this turkey chili recipe.

This recipe results in a rich, spicy red, green, and white chili loaded with good things. Using dried beans lengthens the cooking time to about three hours from about the one hour of simmering if you use canned beans. If you have turkey frozen from Thanksgiving or other holidays, this is the perfect chance to use it.

Chili is usually better in the days after it’s made, so it’s one of those recipes to make on a weekend day which makes dinner very easy for a couple of nights during the week.

Turkey Chili (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds leftover turkey, cut into pieces (try 1 pound white meat and ½ pound dark meat), or ground turkey sautéed until no longer pink
4 cups turkey stock or homemade chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup farro or pearl barley
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups dried white beans, soaked over night and drained
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a low flame. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapeños, and cook them until the onions soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and oregano. Stir in the turkey. Add the stock or broth, tomatoes, farro, and beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for about an hour. Stir in the chopped cilantro near the end of the cooking time. Season with salt to taste.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 344
Sodium: 282 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 35 g
Fiber: 8 g
Fat: 8 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 62 mg
Protein: 36 g

Source: Kaiser Permanente Healthy Living Newsletter

More Recipes/ Cooking Tips at Malankara World Cafe

Expert Photographers Reveal Secrets To Taking Better Pictures
It used to be that the art of picture taking was something only hobbyists and professionals worried about, but today most cell phones and smart phones have built-in cameras that border on the quality of the top cameras of only a few years ago.

So, basically, everyone has gotten into the act. Judy Holmes and Greg Baer think most people could use a little help. Okay, in some cases, a lot of help.

"Taking good pictures is about so much more than pointing and shooting," said Holmes, a 20-year veteran professional photographer. She and co-author Greg Baer have just written the friendly, no-nonsense, how-to book, 'That Picture Stinks!' (www.thatpicturestinks.com).

"While there are many things that make a bad picture, there are three things that jump to mind: they're too light or dark, the composition is poor or people don't use the flash enough," added co-author Baer. "The results can range from lousy to boring to, well, embarrassing. With just a few basics, people can dramatically improve the quality of their pictures and ensure that they capture memories worth preserving in a manner that's worth showing."

Holmes's and Baer's tips include:

Too light or too dark – Too many people see the program mode or auto mode on the camera and think, "That's for me!" It isn't. The auto mode should be the last mode anyone thinks of using. If you want that beautiful sunrise or sunset to be all it shouldn't be, or that winter wonderland to look more like nuclear fallout, by all means use the auto function! Otherwise, learn where to point the camera to "fool" it and give you the perfect exposure. Hint: Want the sunset deep and dark? Baer says point at the lightest area. Want the snow nice and bright? Point at the darkest area.

Photo by Godzilla – Sometimes people take bad pictures of their kids, and they know the shots are bad, but they can't put their finger on why they're bad. The primary reason kids' photos turn out bad is that, as grown-ups, we usually take pictures of our kids from the angle of looking down on them. After all, they're small and we're tall. As a result, we create all kinds of shadows, awkward poses and perspective issues that make it look like Godzilla is towering over them, grabbing a shot of them with our iPhone for a Facebook page. If you want to take consistently better pictures of your kids, get down. Really, get down on the floor and take pictures head-on from their level. You'll get more of them in the shot, their eyes won't be squinting from looking up at you into the sun, and the perspective will show a normally proportioned child (instead of this tiny creature with a huge head, skinny arms and feet that poke out from under their pants). Do the same with your pet pictures for an "Ahh" reaction instead of the normal "Ugh" one.

A little more light please – Adding a flash to outdoor photographs, especially with people in them, is one of the quickest ways to look like a genius. Taking pictures in the bright sun can cause horrible dark shadows on your subject or worse, make them squint so they go blind. Turning the flash on instead of "auto flash" will help in these situations. It can help to lighten the shadows and balance the picture and if you move your subjects into a more shady area, using the flash will light up their faces. If you think that's cool, just wait until you show off that picture. Then you'll really see their faces light up!

"There are a lot more ways people can improve the quality of their photography, just by tapping on a few icons on their point and shoot," Holmes added. "However, if they can follow these three basic rules, they'll produce a lot fewer stinky pictures!"

About Judy Holmes & Greg Baer

Judy Holmes has been a professional outdoor photographer for 20 years, specializing in capturing nature's motion and magic, often in extreme weather. Her particular emphasis is on simplicity of style and equipment. That Picture Stinks! is her fourth photography book.

Greg Baer has been a professional photographer for over 15 years. He has been published in magazines, calendars and cards. For the last 10 years, he has been running Corporate Cards using his photography to provide a novel way for businesses to communicate.

Family: Raising Resilient Teen Girls - Five Tips to Combat Effects of Sexual Abuse

by Kalyani Gopal, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

One in five girls in the United States is sexually abused each year. Some do not disclose sexual abuse until they are much older. These children find themselves in foster care if their parent does not protect them from ongoing harm. The most common perpetrators are boyfriends, step-parents, and relatives, with 80% of the perpetrators being within the birth family. Studies have shown that in the aftermath of sexual abuse, 50% of sexually abused girls later become juvenile delinquents, run away, are significantly more aggressive, engage in promiscuous activities when poverty is factored in, engage in drug related activities, can self-mutilate, have uncontrolled outbursts of rage, need to always be in control of situations, and become abusive towards boyfriends, or get into abusive relationships. Sexually abused children and teens also develop eating disorders, and have guilt, shame, anxiety and depression, and poor self-esteem.

So how can we make our girls fight back and become resilient young teens? How do we protect our young girls and teach them the right ways of coping?

Here are the top five techniques that have worked very successfully in my practice with teen girls (www.thesupportivefosterparent.com):

Tip 1: Develop Body Boundaries: Sexually abused girls tend to have poor body boundaries. TEACH body space, appropriate distance, hugging from the side, not pushing themselves into others’ in the front, and maintaining appropriate distance from males

Tip 2: Teens and Dating: Sexually abused teens also either get victimized or become aggressive towards their dating partner. Develop self-worth in young teens, teach them to respect their bodies, teach them about being a woman in this world and be a role model for your teen. They learn from your actions, not just words.

Tip 3: Manage Eating Disorders: Eating can be excessive with binging and purging, or refusal to eat at all. Both forms are ways young girls attempt to control their environment. This need to control comes from the helplessness and lack of control due to sexual abuse. Food is a way that a young teen can exert power over adults and cause anxiety in others. Anorexia and Bulimia are common with these teens. To develop a healthy sense of control, provide your young teen with healthy foods, give her areas of her life over which she has control and allow her to make decisions about the foods she eats. Making a fuss about how much she is eating is going to worsen the situation and strengthen the eating disorder instead of reducing it. Rather, make food fun, use humor at dinner and provide her with healthy childhood snacks she loved. Creating a low tension environment with a relaxed family non-judgmental environment will gradually relax your young teen daughter and she will substitute food with activities that you have introduced her to in which she can exert control and feel empowered.

Tip 4: Deal with Bouts of Rage: Intense rage reactions are fairly common in children with sexual abuse histories and they can sometimes get violent. Often they are misdiagnosed as being Bipolar and placed on medication to keep them calm. However, their rage is a primitive reaction to the emotional trauma of sexual abuse and can be explosive. What works for these teens is trauma therapy and most importantly predictability. They dislike sudden changes, unpredictable actions, sudden changes in schedules, and power struggles more so than the average teen. Allowing your teen time to regroup, holding her when she wants you to, and giving her space when she asks for it so that she can bolster her defenses will help her handle stress, get “unstuck” and cope with new situations better. What will worsen this situation is forcing her to talk to you when she is not ready and forcing her to complete chores and engaging in a power struggle.

Tip 5: How to Handle Panic Attacks: Bouts of anxiety with fear of choking up, nausea, trembling, fearing that the walls are closing in and that she is going to die are all too common for our sexually abused teen. Create resilience by identifying the triggers that have caused the anxiety and combat these triggers by pairing them with healthy effective empowering activities. The negative effect of these triggers will disappear over time, and your teen will become resilient and strong.

Successful parenting of your sexually abused female teenager will depend on CONSISTENCY, CALMNESS and CREATIVITY; the three Cs of parenting children with boundary issues.

About Dr. Kalyani Gopal

Dr. Kalyani Gopal is a licensed clinical psychologist with special interests in child sexual abuse assessment and treatment, attachment issues, and foster care assessment, adjustment and training. She serves on the Lake County, Ind., Child Protection and Child Fatality teams, and was the recipient of the Outstanding Service to Lake County award in 2004.

Humor: As the Temperature Drops...

What happens at these Fahrenheit temperatures:

+65 — Hawaiians declare a two-blanket night.

+60 — Californians put on sweaters (if they can find one).

+50 — Miami residents turn on the heat.

+45 — Vermont residents go to outdoor concerts.

+40 — You can see your breath. Californians shiver uncontrollably. Minnesotans go swimming.

+35 — Italian cars don't start.

+32 — Water freezes.

+30 — You plan your vacation to Australia.

+25 — Ohio water freezes. Californians weep. Minnesotans eat ice cream. Canadians go swimming.

+20 — Politicians begin to talk about the homeless. New York City water freezes. Miami residents plan vacation farther South.

+15 — French cars don't start. Cat insists on sleeping in your bed with you.

+10 — You need jumper cables to get the car going.

+5 — American cars don't start.

  0 — Alaskans put on T-shirts.

-10 — German cars don't start. Eyes freeze shut when you blink.

-15 — You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo. Arkansans stick tongue on metal objects. Miami residents cease to exist.

-20 — Cat insists on sleeping in pajamas with you. Politicians actually do something about the homeless. Minnesotans shovel snow off roof. Japanese cars don't start.

-25 — Too cold to think. You need jumper cables to get the driver going.

-30 — You plan a two week hot bath. Swedish cars don't start.

-40 — Californians disappear. Minnesotans button top button. Canadians put on sweaters. Your car helps you plan your trip South.

-50 — Congressional hot air freezes. Alaskans close the bathroom window.

-80 — Polar bears move South. Green Bay Packer fans order hot cocoa at the game.

-90 — Lawyers put their hands in their own pockets.

Source: The DailyDilly

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