Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is Free Really Worth It?

I grew up in a bargain-hunting family. We bought what we needed at the best price possible. I’m still like that – which is why I choose Shaklee.

My friend, Harriet (she’s in on the right, I’m on the left), loves bargains, and Shaklee, too. I appreciate her perspective on choosing Shaklee – I’m sure my mother felt much the same way when she decided to switch our family to Shaklee products in 1975.
“It was a big step for me to buy my first bottle of Vita-Lea (Shaklee’s multi); I bought it only because IT CAME WITH A GUARANTEE -- feel better in 30 days or get all your money back. I was positive I would get my money back because I’d been taking C-----m (a store brand) for years and never felt any different. I had been taught in nurse’s training that all vitamins are the same so buy the least expensive.

You see, back in 1965 the U.S. Government said there was no difference between a synthetic substance and a natural substance. That is when vitamin companies could start making synthetic vitamins and still call them “natural”. Of course, it was cheaper to make synthetic vitamins. Even today a vitamin can be labeled 100% natural and contain only 10% natural ingredients. Today you can’t even recognize a good nutritional product because the industry isn’t regulated; it’s a buyer beware market.

Shaklee Corporation never made the shift to synthetic because of Dr. Shaklee’s philosophy—of producing vitamins in HARMONY with NATURE. Everything that goes into every Shaklee bottle is designed to make you healthier. Shaklee is different—it’s a company with integrity that you can trust.

After only a few days of taking Vita-Lea, I started feeling better with more energy. I got more done every day. It was worth it to me to buy Shaklee vitamins instead of the almost “fr.ee” ones because of how I felt. It’s been said that the most expensive supplements you can buy are the ones that don’t work and I believe it.”

So do I! Thanks Harriet, for sharing your experience. Today, Harriet and I both rely on Vitalizer for our daily energy boost and nutritional insurance. And it still comes with a guarantee – take it for 30 days, if you don’t feel better you’ll get your money back. Really, there’s nothing to lose.

What Would Google Do?

I picked up What Would Google Do? on the recommendation of the author of a couple of other books I've read and enjoyed. I thought the title was hokey (playing off the What Would Jesus Do? phenomena from several years ago), yet somewhat intriguing. What would Google do? And where exactly would they do it?

Jeff Jarvis, the author, walks the reader through how Google has not just changed the internet, but how people think and their expectations. He forces his readers to consider how this affects them, and especially their businesses. It's such a complete paradigm shift (over-used phrase, but oh-so-appropriate here), I'm still trying to digest it.

Some of Jarvis' challenges to the readers:
"What business are you really in?" (pg 80-81)

"I do believe that if companies were to ask themselves - and employees were empowered to ask - whether they were being good or evil to their customers and communities, they would often make different decisions." (pg 101)

"Google is seeing problems, solving them, and finding opportunities in them by thinking in new ways. This is all about finding your own new worldview." (pg 122)

Fortunately for us, Jarvis takes the second half of his book to apply the principles from the first half to business as we know it. He tackles media, advertising, utilities, manufacturing - a whole host of traditional industries which seem un-Google-able, if that is a word, and Googlifies them. It really is fascinating reading - probably made all the more fascinating if you were involved in such an industry.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the chapter titled "Google Power & Light: What Google Would Do." Google.org (the philanthropic arm) is actually involved in trying to reinvent our energy economy. It makes sense really. "If Google can help create cleaner, cheaper electricity anywhere it operates, it will improve its own bottom line." (pg 162)

Jarvis tells about his experience attending the World Economic Forum in 2008 and listening to Bono and Al Gore passionately plead for their core causes. Then he went to hear the Google.org forum.

"The contrast was stark. To summarize if not oversimplify their vantage points: Where Gore demands taxes and regulation, the Google team proposes invention and investment. Gore and company want to raise the cost of carbon - the cost of polluting - whereas the Google team wants to lower the cost of energy. ...

[W]e see different worldviews at work. "You can't succeed just out of conservation because then you won't have economic development," [Google.org executive director Larry] Brilliant said. "Find a way to make electricity - not to cut back on it but to have more of it than you ever dreamed of." ... Create and manage abundance rather than control scarcity - as ever, that is the Google worldview." (pg 163)

Jarvis goes on to contrast those two worldviews - create abundance vs. control scarcity. It reminds me of Paul Zane Pilzer's books - he writes based upon the same idea of creating abundance, though it's been so long since I've read his books I can't pinpoint exact quotes. Honestly, it brings to mind John 10:10 where Jesus says, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." That brings in a whole different discussion that I won't touch right now.

After I was finished with this book, my husband spotted it and asked me about it. I told him I'm still thinking about it, trying to digest it. He said, "Should we own this book? Should I read it?"

"Absolutely," I said.

I can't wait to get my own copy and start marking it up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tenth Stone

I will admit it straight out: I have been a huge Bodie & Brock Thoene fan for years. I started reading their books in high school, and haven't stopped since.

Their newest book is Tenth Stone in their series The A.D. Chronicles. I read it over the weekend. Yep, the whole book. Stayed up entirely too late Sunday night to finish it (and I'm still recovering!).

I am amazed at the attention to detail, the characters these authors bring to life on these pages, the captivating plots they create. Each book in the series could stand alone, but yet is also interwoven with not only the books from this series, but previous series they've written.

I've read so many of their books, but haven't written about them mainly because I think I should review the first book in a series, but not necessarily the rest of the books. And it's been awhile since I read First Light, the first book in this particular series.

However, in Tenth Stone, the Thoenes return to several characters they introduced in the second book Second Touch. I am so happy to read more about them, that I had to write about Tenth Stone.

Lily is the character I am just thrilled to know. She was a leper, cast from her own home as a child, who found her way to the valley of Mak'ob, home to a community of lepers. In Second Touch, you learn her story, her tender heart towards her fellow lepers and towards her God.

The thing I love most about Lily is her prayers. I remember a sermon once preached on Psalm 96:1 "Sing to the Lord a new song." I could not imagine singing a new song to God every day or even several times a day - until I met Lily.

Every time Lily prays, she gives God a new name. She did it in Second Touch, and does it again in Tenth Stone. Each new name for God comes from the situation she is currently dealing with - external pressures, internal fears, or both. Here's just a small sampling:

"I am praying again, Lord Who Knows the Hearts of All Men - rich and poor, proud and humble." (pg 90)

"I am praying again, You Who Command the Angels I Can't See. Did you tell them to remind Yod we shouldn't be afraid?" (pg 199)

"I am praying again, You Who Number the Stars and Number the Grains of Sand and Count the Stones of Zion among Your Treasures." (pg 211)

"I am praying again, You Who Sent the Redeemed to the Safety of Exile. ... Oh Lord, God of Exiles, Guardian of Ha-Golah, the exiled Stones of Zion, so it has come to this. You, our Redeemer, are in Exile with us all." (pg 220)

Tenth Stone is a great book - entertaining and interesting. It's also a great book to on understanding prayer, faith and what it looks like in everyday (well, perhaps not everyday), earthly circumstances.

Who of us has not been afraid? Take Lily's prayer from pg 199 and make it your own, praying through what is making you afraid. Who of us has not felt unnoticed, uncared for, or perhaps even lost in the midst of a much larger struggle? Take Lily's prayer from pg 211 and make it your own.

For me, the mark of a great book is one which captures my attention while also subtly teaching me a lesson. The Thoene's books do just that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Modern Day Lament

Now that our children are getting older, my husband and I face a bit of a dilemma. I know it's not one that lots of families face, but we do.

Because I teach the children at home, and because I tend to be an early bird instead of a night owl, I am usually done about 7pm. So, my kids go to bed. Sometimes I'm done at 6:30 and they go to bed - especially if I know Daddy's working late that night.

So, now that I have a 6th-grader on my hands, it's time to rethink bedtime. Really?! I guess I wouldn't mind hanging out with him in the living room, each of us reading. But I don't want to talk. I really want to just watch TV.

Which brings me to my lament. My husband and I were just discussing how there are no shows we would want to watch as a family. Gone are the days of The Cosby Show, Full House, or Little House on the Prairie. Even The A-Team (although violent, no one ever got killed, and although Face always got the girl, you didn't see much).

What happened to these family shows? We were going through a few of the shows on in the 7:00 hour... and we wouldn't allow our kids to watch any of them. Chuck (our favorite)? Too violent & sexual. NCIS? Again not appropriate. America's Next Top Model? Definitely not something I want my kids watching.

We have the most basic of cable - don't even get TVLand or Nick at Night, which may run reruns of family shows. I guess we'll start haunting our library. Glen's excited about watching Home Improvement with the boys, which I don't think our library owns. He suggested a NetFlix membership.

I suggested reading aloud together.

We'll see what transpires... We've yet to break the news to my oldest that he can stay up later than his siblings. I'm waiting until we're done with our school year. Not sure why - except it makes me feel like I have a little more time to adjust. Plus, I have to finish Season 2 of 24.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Bibles for Kenya

Last night, my mom and I ran up to Kenosha to see her second cousin, Linda, talk about her missionary work in Tenwek, Kenya.

Linda is like a member of our family. When I was a child, she and my mom's sister, Bev, were missionaries in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). When they came home on furlough, they lived with us in between their travels, usually while they were taking courses at Trinity International University in Deerfield.

Linda has since married and she and her family went to Kenya for three years. Linda's husband, John, is an internist at the hospital there in Tenwek. Linda knew she was going to be homeschooling her three children and hosting visiting doctors. Sounds like plenty to me! But she asked God for her own ministry. "Just a few women who want to study the Bible."

God has answered her prayer - and more! Her Bible study with three other Kenyan women has grown into Bible studies that meet all throughout that region - including hundreds of women.

One of the things they do is encourage the women to memorize Bible verses. If they memorize 17 Bible verses, the ministry (Tabitha Ministry) gives the women their very own Bible.

They also minister to these women by helping them become more financially stable. They partner with the local church to provide homes, seed & fertilizer, and even cows to women and their families.

I was so encouraged by her talk last night. Someone suggested that women in the US memorize the same 17 verses and then give the $8 Tabitha needs to purchase a Bible for a woman in Kenya.

I thought that was a great idea - and am going to apply it to my own family but with a twist. My kids are studying for the Bible Bee this fall, so we are going to donate a Bible for every 17 verses each child memorizes.

I told the children this morning and they got excited. Now, to figure out a way to keep track of the number of verses, and the number of Bibles.

Keeping Kids Healthy

Time for afternoon snack

One of my children’s favorite times of the day is afternoon snack time. It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, they beg for Shaklee’s Mighty Smarts.

Even my pickiest of eaters loves Mighty Smart orange chews (see their double thumbs up?). And I love what it does for them.

Mighty Smart
is a DHA chewable supplement for children. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid which is essential for children’s growing brains. Studies have shown that DHA is essential to brain development, good eyesight and helps with behavioral issues like ADHD.

Foods like sardines and liver are high in DHA. Perhaps those are your child’s favorite foods, but mine wouldn’t touch them!

Another good source of DHA is tuna and salmon. But the Environmental Protection Agency warns that those fish could be contaminated with mercury, pesticides and dioxins, which are harmful to our kids. We have tuna about twice a month, which is not enough DHA to keep my kids’ brains healthy, but limits their exposure to toxins.

Which is why I was so excited when Shaklee introduced Mighty Smart. A safe, and delicious, way to make sure my kids get the DHA they need. One that my kids beg for every day.

I only have one still taking chewable vitamins, and she absolutely loves the new Incredivites. They include lactoferrin to supercharge her immune system, all the essential nutrients to help her grow strong and healthy, plus she loves the taste! No artificial sweeteners or colors either, and since they’re Shaklee, I know they’re safe.

Supersmart. Supersafe. Supernutritious. Perfect for super kids.