Saturday, January 26, 2008

Welcome Back, Mr. Clinton--America's Three-Term President

by Anita S. Lane

Time after time we've heard Hillary Clinton say, "The question is, who is best prepared to begin leading the country on day one..." Well, I've not heard the political pundits delve into this issue but really, is there any doubt WHY Hillary would be able to begin running the white house on day one? It's obvious. His name is Bill.

This election is indelibly unlike any other. If Hillary is elected, it will be the first time both a husband and wife have served as president.

I listened to Bill Clinton in Independence, Missouri talk in intricate detail about climate control, the war in Iraq, the GI Bill of Rights, the medicare drug program, and jobs for middle class Americans. He spoke with such clarity and in depth understanding on a myriad of issues--in many ways unlike how any other candidate's spouse could. Does his experience as the former President of the United States have anything to do with his grasp of the issues?

As I listened to what felt like an hour long impassioned speech, I couldn't help but feel as though I was watching President Bill Clinton campaign for a third term.
Every time Bill says, "That's what she believes..." I wonder if he'd feel be more comfortable saying, "That's what I believe."

Well if you want to know what I believe, I believe that President Clinton is out to tout his accomplishments and redeem his legacy (bring it up from out of the gutter). In essence he's saying, "If you liked it when I was in office, elect my wife and you'll get more of the same."

So as I said, is it really any wonder why Hillary sees herself as so "ready to lead" on day one in the white house? Is it really any wonder who else Bill Clinton is campaigning for when he's out on the campaign trail?

So then arise the following questions:
"Who will we really get as president if Hillary wins the general election?"
"Who's policy agenda will really be put forth?"
"Just what will be Bill Clinton's role?"
I know Americans love a good sale, but "Will America will be getting two-for-one?"

Yes, Hillary has a very unique advantage "on day one" if she wins the general election. She knows the layout of the white house like the back of her hand. She's accustomed to secret service and used to being part of the first family of the United States--the most recognized family from the most powerful union in the world. Yes, Hillary has been a Senator and she knows how Washington and the White House work. She's been there. She's done that--along with her former President for a husband.

The real question is, do we really want more of the same all over again? Yes, folks still love them some Bill Clinton. He's quite a charismatic character. But are we really ready and willing to welcome him back?

Copyright ©2008 by Anita S. LaneVisit my online family magazine out my new book,

Thursday, January 03, 2008

America is Different Tonight

by Anita S. Lane

Tonight was historic. Senator Barack Hussein Obama of Illinois won the Iowa primary—beating out Senator Hillary Clinton of New York 38% to 29%.

Obama, his organization, and Iowa voters, proved that change can happen—and Obama's primary campaign theme has been "change." Tonight, the Democratic Caucus, in a state with a 95% White population, caucused for Barack Obama (who just so happens to be a Black man) over the “favored,” experienced and established, Hillary Clinton--as well as candidate John Edwards.

Obama said he believes in hope and that he’s the product of hope. He then mentioned our forefathers of this nation who believed in hope. It’s now apparent that many people have hope in Obama.

I’ll admit, I was hopeful to. I watched the results unfold. I then watched Obama’s speech. The combination of seeing the final results, and him on stage in such presidential form— was emotionally overwhelming. Yet I quickly realized that my elation and even my tears weren't targeted at Barack Obama, as much as they were targeted at those who aren’t even alive today.

I suddenly found myself feeling an intense sense of gratitude and indebtedness to each individual who was hanged from a tree seeking freedom from slavery, who bled and died for the right to vote, who was dragged out of a restaurant for requesting the right to be served, each individual who wore out shoes during a 381-day bus boycott, who was beaten with a club for attempting to integrate public schools, who was jailed for not sitting in the back of a bus, and to each individual who was attacked by dogs for marching peacefully for what they believed in.

I found myself wishing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. could see this moment. That Coretta Scott King—who died only a year ago this month—could see this moment; that my grandmother, who endured so much hardship as a Black woman in the segregated South—could see this moment.

We may not all agree with Obama’s politics, but we must agree that America is not the same America it was forty years ago and beyond. But had it not been for every African American--and every individual of any other race--who believed in equality and aided African Americans in the fight for equality and justice, there would be no Barack Obama as Iowa's chosen front runner for the Democratic party.

In a campaign stop recently—when asked about his use of “hope” in his campaign—Barack said the following: “I’m a Black Man with the name Barack Hussein Obama running for President. I’ve got to have hope!” Hope is indeed what he has. And it’s that same type of infectious hope that desegregated bussess, integrated lunch counters and schools, and that gave African Americans the right to vote—and the hope that maybe, just maybe, America is a land we too one day can truly call home.

Tonight, Black America, America felt like home. There on stage was a Black man and his family—a brown man with a brown wife and two brown daughters—people who looked like us. People with experiences like ours. People who are hard-working, first generation success stories—and not the children of wealthy elites.

Tonight was both historic and hopeful. Tonight, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream came true. One man, who happened to be a Black man, was judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character. And with only 4% Black participation in the caucus, this event showed us that many White Americans are just as happy as Blacks that today, Democratic Iowans “chose a Black man to lead our country.”

Obama won big among the younger voters—and in fact—the older the voter, the fewer votes he got. So it’s apparent that the tide is changing and that there is a new generation of voters— a generation who's grown up seeing African Americans in positions of leadership and power...A generation who knows that there are intelligent, competent individuals within every race, and that race has no bearing on one's capabilities.

Does it help that Barack Obama is bi-racial—being both Black and White and that he was raised by his White mother and his White grandparents? Does it help that he seems like a man of the world—having a father from Kenya and having lived three years of his childhood in Indonesia? Perhaps. And perhaps this is what gives Obama the ability to transcend race. Culturally, Obama grew up White. He’s familiar with third world culture and he speaks Indonesian. Over time, though, he also came to understand who he is as Black man in America. Perhaps Obama is a bridge. A bridge who can carry both races—many races—to a new time in America.

To have a Black man as a serious, viable and electable candidate demonstrates that anything is possible. It also demonstrates that America just may belong to us too. And if it can belong to us, surely it belongs to every other American as well. I think the message of hope and change in an America filled with fear and despair is one that resonates with every American—Black, White, rich, middle class or poor.

The bottom line is, Barack Obama not just talks about hope, he embodies hope—and that’s what voters see and hear. If a man from the historically most oppressed group in America can overcome life’s adversities to achieve the American dream, and potentially become the nation’s first Black president, surely everyone else can hope as well.

Congratulations Obama, and congratulations to everyone who paved the way… You Did It! (WE did it)!

Copyright ©2008 by Anita S. LaneVisit my online family magazine out my new book,

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hot Water and Dry Towels

by Anita S. Lane

The life of a mom or dad is filled with sacrifices. Some are major, but most are small ordinary “pleasures” that we yield in order to accommodate and nurture the precious life of another human being from infancy through adulthood.

Yes, we do it willingly, and we don’t often complain, but neither do we forget—pleasures like late-night dates, sleeping in, stroller-free travel, hanging out with the guys or the gals, exercise (or sex) on a dime, exotic couples-only vacations, and gourmet meals at your favorite chíc restaurant.

However, I recently had a conversation with a mother of six—whose children are now grown—and the one simple sentence she shared with me reminded me to be thankful for the basics.

My physical being was engrossed in one big expression of exhaustion (i.e., yawn) as I approached the library check out counter with my three young boys trailing behind.
“Whew…pardon me!” I said, not wanting the librarian to think she had anything to do with the cause for my yawn.
“It’s okay. It’s Friday,” the librarian said.
I responded, “Yes, I made it through the first week of my new schedule waking up at 5:30am to workout each morning—and it’s finally catching up with me,” I gave as the excuse for my weary demeanor.

Her head tilted as she looked at me knowingly and smiled. “I used to have to get up at 5:30 a.m. for a long time,” she recounted. I just assumed she had to go to work early each morning. But her reason was very different.

She continued, “I’ve always said that I had to wake up at 5:30 each morning in order to get hot water and dry towels.”
“Really?” I chuckled, looking bewildered.
“Yes. I had six kids.”
“Oh,” I replied.

I had nothing else to say. How could I respond? One can always find things to complain about, but some things in life are just essential. So, I extend this lesson to all my fellow moms who may be reading this. No, you may not always get the break from the kids that you want. You may not enjoy weekly spa treatments or even a night out with your husband as often as you’d like. But do you have hot water and dry towels? Uh, do you? Think about it… You probably do. Now isn’t God good?

Life definitely is not a bowl of cherries. We have to learn how to count our blessings and in everything give thanks—for our lives, our health, our families, and yes—hot water and dry towels.

Copyright ©2007 by Anita S. Lane
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Monday, March 26, 2007

Today, I Discovered that My Four Children Are Crucial to a Strong U.S. Economy

by Anita S. Lane

Today, I discovered that I am part of a diminishing population of Americans—the ten percent moms club. I knew it looked as though women were having fewer children than a generation ago, and that four kids seems to be considered a “large family” today, but I had no idea that by giving birth to four children I would become part of an elite class of only ten percent of American women.

Yes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, I am among the ten percent of American women in America who will end their child bearing years with four or more children. I knew I was special—but not that special. In 1976, I would have at least had the company of 36% of American women.

Today, for a variety of reasons the average number of children that a woman can expect to have in her lifetime is two.

While this number may endear me with feelings of elitism, I wonder how this statistic fares on American life and the future of America as a whole. Are we having enough children to sustain ourselves and our economy?

How Birthrates Impact the Future of American Politics:
There is an intense war waging between conservatives and liberals and proponents of traditional family values vs. gay marriage. I read a statistic that states that conservatives have more children than liberals by 41%. Thus, the future bodes well for conservative politics because little GOPs typically grow into adult GOPs, and baby Dems typically grow into adult Dems—and homosexual couples, while typically liberal—well, they have the fewest children of all. So, liberals can expect to have far fewer future voters.

What then are the potential economic impacts of our declining birth rates?

  • A decrease in the demand for traditional education—schools, textbooks, and teachers— with declining numbers of children.
  • A decrease in the demand for housing—as well as a decrease in consumer durables to fill the housing—because of the decline in new household formation.
  • Consumer demand that is confined to replacement and new product upgrades, as opposed to an increase in product production that new consumers would require.
  • A decrease in the demand for automobiles.
  • Fewer new entrants to the labor force.
  • Lower economic productivity growth.
  • Drastic changes in social relations, particularly those concerning the family.

According to Harvard University International Economics Professor, Richard N. Cooper, if the birth rates in Italy were to continue for two generations, “almost 60 percent of that nation’s children would have no siblings, no cousins, no aunts or uncles; conversely, less than 5 percent of children would have both siblings and cousins. In short, the extended family (beyond grandparents and, increasingly, great-grandparents) would virtually disappear, and with it, its role in the socialization of new generations of youngsters.”

Fortunately, things look a little brighter in the United States than for Europe and Japan, in part because, “the birth rate (about 1.9 children per female) has not (yet) fallen so far, and because the country remains (along with Australia and Canada) open to extensive immigration,” states Cooper.

Grim, uh? In light of such news, having four darling babies doesn’t sound all that bad, now does it?

Looking for a very elite social club where you can enjoy life-long membership, perks, social events and jubilant holiday festivities without the hefty up front membership fee of $50,000 or more—although annual membership dues of about $8,500 a year are about on par—consider joining the ten percent moms club.

Go ahead! All you have to do is birth (or adopt) four or more children. More than likely they will love and care for you, and one another forever. You'll have the privilege of fulfilling God’s commission to be fruitful and multiply (smile), and you'll be seriously helping America’s struggling economy at the same time.

It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Copyright ©2007 by Anita S. Lane
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Crazy In Love

by Anita S. Lane

Ms. Beyoncé Knowles may have coined the phrase, but I’m not sure she’ll truly understand what it means to be “Crazy in Love” until she’s married with children.

It all starts when they’re born. You no longer get any sleep. That alone will make you crazy. Then you barely have time in between feedings to feed yourself. That will definitely cause you to want to act crazy. And forget perfect hair and manicured nails…

Chorus, please:
Got me lookin so crazy right now
Your love's got me lookin so crazy right now

Before long, you find yourself telling your colleagues, “I’ll see you later, I’m going bye-bye.” Sound improbable? It really happened to me. Fortunately, I had wonderful colleagues that were forgiving of my momentary lapse in office decorum.

But it doesn’t stop there. If you manage to add two or three more children to your young brood, just getting out of the house becomes a major production and inevitably, everyone manages to leave the house looking a little more put together than you.

Tennis shoes, don't even need to buy a new dress
…Ain't nobody else to impress

And when they’re old enough to begin sporting and recreational activities, you’ve entered an entirely different league. I spent four days traveling across town trying to find a tap dance class for my daughter that fit into our schedule. I’m careful to not overbook, but just the search process alone was daunting.

Yeah, cause i know i don't understand
Just how your love can [make me] do what no on else can

Dance School #1 was simply further than I wanted to drive.
Dance School #2 only offered tap during the children’s church choir rehearsal.
Dance School #3 was a fit! But wait…recitals are only offered every other year?
“Mom, I have to have a recital so that everyone can see my dance.”
“Great,” I said. Now on to dance school #4.

Chorus, please:
Got me lookin so crazy right now
Your love's got me lookin so crazy right now

Dance School #4—Sure enough, we hit another brick wall. Except… this school offered a kid’s hip hop class on Saturday afternoon.
“Hip Hop? I love hip hop, Mom. I really want to take that!” Finally, we found our dance. Just when I was beginning to feel a little…you guessed it—

Sing with me...
Got me lookin so crazy right now
Your love's got me lookin so crazy right now

It’s been said that love will make you do crazy things. I guess I’m guilty of having done a few crazy things, looking a little crazy in order to get-out-of-the-house on time, and even going to great lengths to find just the right dance class for my daughter.

I can’t say that it’s right or even necessary. All I know is that it’s something about these four little blessings that makes me want to jump through hoops and leap over walls. Perhaps its hyper-parenting, or maternal instinct gone bad. Or maybe it’s just plain crazy.

Yeah...that’s it. Beyoncé isn’t the only one Crazy In Love.

Copyright ©2006 by Anita S. Lane
Visit my online family magazine

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Valentine to My Love...

Real Good Love
by Anita S. Lane

So this is love…Real love. My husband was leaving for work one morning and as he descended down the stairs I found myself humming the tune of Aretha Franklin’s legendary song, “A Natural Woman.” What? Why am I singing this song? It is definitely not my typical choice of morning, quiet-time selections. But I went with it. I didn’t even know I knew the words—or at least the chorus—but I did. Then it became clear why that song came to mind.

On that morning, I realized something. I felt alive. Real love makes you feel alive.

Don’t think that feelings don’t matter in marriage. What two individuals get married simply because they know intellectually that they love each other? (Outside of an arranged marriage, of course). In most instances, individuals are motivated to get married because they feel love. He says, “I love you.” She says, “I love you” and they feel it. They feel it in their souls. They feel it in their hearts. They sense it in the touch and hear it in the sound of each other’s voices. This is love. They know it and they feel it—enough to walk down the isle and jump the broom into marital bliss.

However, many times after years of marriage the love we once “felt” gives way to a love we merely know in our hearts. And while knowing in our hearts that our spouse loves us is essential, feeling it is what keeps the marital embers burning.

Feeling the love is what helps you ward off the temptation to get involved with another man or woman. Feeling the love is what helps give you the emotional strength (plus a few endorphins) to endure the hard times in marriage. Granted, no matter what you feel, marriage is a commitment and one promises to be true regardless. But a few positive feelings can really help along the way.

We are first of all spiritual beings, but we are also emotional and physical beings as well. That’s why good communication and good sex are also critical to a successful marriage. No marriage is perfect and no successful marriage is accomplished without effort. But when use your time, energy and resources (effort) in preventative measures—to really love and demonstrate love—then you will spend a lot less effort on reconstructive measures attempting to rebuild a marriage that has come undone. And believe me, it’s worth the effort.

Good love makes you feel alive. That one morning as my husband descended down the stairs to leave for work I realized that I truly felt alive. God is my source and my womanhood is in Him. But my husband enhances my womanhood. He builds me up in my efforts to be the woman God is calling me to be. He’s still the most handsome guy I know. I still blush when he flashes that debonair smile and my face still lights up when he enters a room…

Oh, baby, what you've done to me
You make me feel so good inside
And I just want to be
Close to you, you make me feel so alive
Cause you make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like a natural woman...

I am free to soar because of the unconditional love of a really good God and the real good love of my man.

Recommended Reading:
“The Five Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman
"Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately"Needs," by E. Eggerichs
Visit our Bookviews page at

Copyright ©2006 by Anita S. Lane
Visit my online family magazine

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Secularization and Globalization: The Diminishing of an American Super Power

by Anita S. Lane

America is a super power because it was founded on the empowering principles of freedom and self determination—principles that emanate from the Judeo-Christian faith perspective. God created us in His likeness. God is free. Therefore we are free. God Himself will not preempt our will—whether it be good or evil.

Traditionally, America has acknowledged that the incredibly wonderful privilege of freedom comes from our creator, God. As a result of our acknowledgement of and dependence upon divine providence, we have enjoyed the benefits of unbridled creativity and the liberty to pursue one’s dreams.

One might contend that the wealth of this country has little to do with Christian values and more to do with the reality that the wealth of this nation was built on the backs of slaves—a horrible institution promulgated by the founding fathers. Could God have really been blessing this country in the midst of such a pervasive, evil vice, or were we just blessing ourselves with the profits from free slave labor? If we merely blessed ourselves, that evil seed would surely return to visit us in the form of a tempestuous harvest of destruction.

I submit to you that God did not bless America because of greedy, capitalistic, murderous individuals, but in spite of them. To the benefit of all in this country, there has always been a righteous remnant—a minority of people who keep the faith in earnest, people who love God and hate injustice. People who are willing to fight for the rights afforded to every human by God, and who are willing to die—as did Jesus—so that others can live free.

These are the people—not the corrupt, greed mongers—for whom God blessed America. The tradition of blessing the many because of the few is clearly laid out in scripture. Abraham pleaded with God to preserve Sodom and Gomorrah if there were only 10 righteous. God agreed. Unfortunately, Abraham stopped asking at 10, and there were not ten righteous. Scripture tells us that the prayers of the righteous avail much. God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous. The scripture also tells us that faith without works is dead. So these same people put action to their words and preached against slavery. They fought in the civil war. They walked alongside their African-American brothers and sister and pursued the cause of freedom and justice—even to their own physical, political and social demise. The Quakers,and members of the American Anti-Slavery Society were such individuals.

Now, over three hundred years since the establishment of this country, we are far less homogeneous. Many millions more have landed on our shores—bringing with them many more belief systems. And in addition to diversifying our faith base, each new generation of Americans seems to have forgotten the “faith or our fathers” and are far less likely to acknowledge God or His involvement in the affairs of men.

Thus, there is a correlation between the secularization of America and the globalization of America. The less value we give to our inalienable God-given rights, the more susceptible we become to the globalization of our values and ultimately—of America.

We are created by a sovereign God and we must remain a sovereign nation. Globalism on the other hand—sometimes referred to as Elitism, Internationalism, World Federalism, One World Order or the New World Order—is an ideology that strips individuals of their rights and countries of their sovereignty.

Founded on the premise that we have God-given inalienable rights, America’s founding fathers could not have imagined that America would evolve into a nation of people who “know not their God” and don’t even acknowledge Him. Yet, this is what is happening to America in small, bite-size increments. It is God’s will that His people are free. And when we lose sight of God, we lose sight of His will. If we no longer realize it is God’s divine will that we be free to fully govern ourselves and not be subject to outside rule, then we will become subject to such rule.

Wait…does this seem the least bit familiar? Beginning in the 1600's, Puritans began fleeing Europe in search of religious and political freedom. Today, with the creation of the Eastern Union, Britain is already seeing the horrifying effects of globalization. 80% of their laws are now made by the union and not by Britain itself.

If America does not resist the secularization of our values we will succumb to the globalization of our nation. If we don’t rise up to fight for our God-given rights, we may end up wishing we could flee to greener pastures. But there will be no where to go.

Copyright ©2006 by Anita S. Lane
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Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Call to Pure Religion

by Anita S. Lane

James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” The scripture continues in verse one of chapter two by saying, “have not respect of persons…” Or in today’s language, “Don’t even say you have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ—the Lord of glory—and then go and show respect of persons. In no way is that God."

How can this be the most fundamental element of religion? Wouldn’t the purest form of religion consist of introducing lost souls to Christ?

I think what James understood and wanted to communicate—which is also what Jesus understood and communicated—is that in order to reach people, you must first meet them; meet them right where they are. Don’t expect or ask them to come to you, but you go to them. You, the big, bad religious giant that you are—humble yourself, strip yourself of all piety as Jesus did, and meet them, so that you can reach them.

Why is it pure and undefiled to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction? Because they don’t have a platform upon which to proclaim to the world what you have done for them. What you have done will be done in anonymity and it won’t make the society pages—unless you take your personal film crew with you. Giving to the fatherless and widowed is pure because they don’t have anything to offer you in return. You are not giving in expectation of political favors or kickbacks. You’re giving because the need is there and the compassion of your savior on the inside of you is compelling you to give.

The scripture says that when Jesus looked upon the people, He was moved with compassion, for they were as sheep having no Shepard. What do we see when we look upon the people of our world today? Are we moved with compassion or are we moved to change the channel, or put down the newspaper and think on something more pleasant?

To have compassion is more than to have pity on someone. Compassion means a “Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.” (American Heritage Dictionary. Fourth Edition ©2000). Perhaps we are just too desensitized because of all the media images of suffering that are displayed across the airways. Perhaps we feel that there are too many social ills and we just throw up our hands in despair. However, that is not what Jesus did.

In Matthew 25 Jesus is telling a parable and concludes with the statement, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” In essence, He’s saying, “When you help those who are downtrodden, disenfranchised, marginalized and institutionalized, you’re doing something for me. That’s when you start speaking my language and pulling my heart strings. That’s why I came. Everyone was at one time broken, blind and in despair, separated from an intimate love relationship with our heavenly father, and that’s why I came. You see, I see you no differently than I see the orphan child or the widow. I have no respect of persons.”

Pure religion is about identifying a need and meeting it. Using your God-given mind, will, emotions, time, and resources to helping to others—and helping without expecting anything in return. I know many people who have traveled to Africa on medical and Christian missions. In spite of the health risks, and without Oprah’s cameras rolling, they go into towns and villages to help save lives—both physically and spiritually. That is pure religion.

All of the individuals who gave their hard earned money and utilized their resources to go down to the gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina to help—that’s pure religion.

To every volunteer and staff person at non-profit, youth and family-serving organizations who sacrifice larger pay checks and social status to commit to the cause of enhancing the lives of children and families, and building stronger communities—that’s pure religion.

To every layperson and minister who pays that weekly visit to the elderly in the nursing home or the woman or man in the prison—just to show that someone still cares—that’s pure religion.

…And to keep himself unspotted from the world. That’s the second aspect of “pure religion.” And just what does that mean? Well, it doesn’t mean don’t allow people in the world to touch you and spot up your crisp, clean clothes. No. In I John 2:15-17, the scripture says, 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

That’s the “world” that John is admonishing us to not become spotted by. It’s the world that is in us. The world that operates in our mindset—our worldly way of thinking. And unfortunately, too many of us have succumb to the world’s way of thinking. We have yielded to the world’s fleshly lusts, the world’s lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. We want what the world wants and often (although unwilling to admit it) we’re willing to operate as the world does to get what we want. We live for ourselves and we only give if it’s in some way going to benefit us. That’s being spotted. That’s what God doesn’t want us to do.

This is a call to pure religion. A religion where in the 21st century speed-of-light society, we must slow down, pay attention and take time for those who are suffering around us. Only if we slow down and pay attention can we be moved with compassion, which leads to action. And effective action leads to change. And change is something we all want. We want our families to change, our schools to change, our communities to change, our younger generation to change, our elected leadership to change, our media to change… The only way we will get change is if we make the change to get involved in the lives of others and in causes greater than ourselves. Your one act of kindness can inspire another, who in turn makes a change—which inspires another, who in turn makes a change—which inspires another. And then we’ll see change manifest in America.

This is pure religion. Live it. Reproduce it.

Copyright ©2006 by Anita S. Lane
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Thursday, November 24, 2005

An Ode to Mom

A lesson in loving, forgiving, forgetting and moving on
by Anita S. Lane

As my mother’s birthday approaches, I think about her life and her legacy to me. Undeniably, one of the most important lessons in life I’ve learned and that I’m still learning from her is the lesson in loving, forgiving, forgetting and moving on.

My mother has an incredible capacity for unconditional love and a unique ability to get along with others who are unlike herself. She truly is no respecter of persons. This has been a phenomenal lesson for me. Throughout different seasons of her life, some of my mother’s closest friends—or at least individuals with whom she would spend quality time—were individuals that quite often, baffled me. In addition to her regular core group of “girlfriends” my mother has always seemed to find time to befriend individuals with hardships (whom others would conveniently ignore) or individuals who are wonderful and loving, yet slightly impaired.

While I was growing up, this meant lending a ride to a woman and her children who didn’t have a car; picking up a sister for church who may not drive; rounding up food, clothing and toys for a young woman and her family; involving those with few family or friends into our daily lives; and introducing newcomers to family gatherings and holiday meals. Most of all, I believe my mother’s most important role for the friends in her life is being there—when they need her most—with a listening ear, a compassionate heart and an encouraging word.

Of all the lessons I’ve learned from my mother, the one in loving is fundamental; but that’s not all. Because adjacent to the act of loving is the crucial act of forgiving. You cannot have true love without forgiveness. You see, life is all about love. It’s one long, love journey. Ideally we are born out of love. And once we are born, instantly we are born into love—whether it’s birth parents, adoptive parents, friends or guardians. Then as we grow, we are part of a family where we experience the love of siblings, extended family and community.

All the while, we’re learning what love is really all about and how to manage this—the most powerful emotion in the universe. And along the journey of love we encounter other travelers. If we’re fortunate we will meet great travel buddies and find life-long road companions, but we will also experience many near misses, fender-benders, and a few collisions with almost fatal repercussions.

At issue is not whether we will have such encounters but how we handle them. And learning to forgive is fundamental. In an incredible show of strength and resilience, my mother has demonstrated how to forgive, forget and move on. In forgiving, she’s shown me that you don’t have to wait on the offender to admit his or her wrong; you must simply choose to forgive. In forgetting, she’s demonstrated that you cannot harbor anger, hatred or bitterness, nor hang on to harm done to you; you must let it go and get on with the business of life. And in moving on, she’s proven that you cannot get stuck in the “ugly” that transpired in the past; there is too much beauty in your future.

Loving, forgiving, forgetting and moving on—all prerequisites to obtaining a valid driver’s license for the road of life’s long, love journey. And I am so grateful for a mother who has blessed me with a wonderful example and who has taught me by her life, how to live by these principles. As an adult, these lessons mean so much more to me than they ever did when I was a child. And I know that without the incredible example I have in my mother, I would not be the woman I am today.

For true love is not found in getting, but in giving; and the true test of love is not merely in sharing, but in forgiving. And the relationships God blesses us with along life’s journey are worth preserving—at all costs. The word of God instructs us to seek peace and pursue it. Surely, as we travel along life’s long, love journey, we’re presented each day with an opportunity to seek and pursue peace. And if we want to successfully reach our ultimate destination, we must take these fundamental “driver’s” lessons to heart.

Copyright ©2005 by Anita S. Lane
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Inclusion of Individuals with Disabilities Makes us a Richer Society

by Anita S. Lane

Meet Brent Cools. Yes, he is in fact cool. He played on his junior high football team. He graduated cum laude from Stevenson high school in Sterling Heights, Michigan and was voted MVP of the month on his job that he had held for four years. He enjoys watching wrestling and working out. He runs on the treadmill and lifts weights everyday after work. None of these achievements surprise Brent or his parents, yet they are worth noting given that upon his birth twenty-three years ago, doctors predicted that Brent would not be able to lead a “normal” life and recommended he be reared in an “institution.”

You see, Brent was born with Down Syndrome—a condition that replicates a critical portion of the
21st chromosome in other cells in the body. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down Syndrome.

Today, Down Syndrome is the most common genetic condition with one in every 800 to 1,000 children born with it. And because the mortality rate for individuals with Down Syndrome is decreasing there are more individuals with Down Syndrome in society. Experts project that the number of people with Down syndrome within the population will double in the next 10 years, thereby increasing the amount of interaction Americans will have with individuals with this condition, and increasing the need for greater public education and acceptance.

The truth is, individuals with Down syndrome possess varying degrees of mental retardation, from very mild to severe, and most people with Down syndrome have IQs in the mild to moderate range of mental retardation. Given this fact, inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome in typical classroom settings, community organizations, work forces and social and recreational activities is crucial.

Brent refused to follow the typical course of study for “special education” students. He wanted to be included and he applied himself accordingly. Brent performed in his school’s theatrical productions of Peter Pan and Charlie Brown.

“I didn’t want to be treated differently. I wanted to be with all the kids, Brent states.” In keeping with this mantra, Brent played on the school football team and attended senior prom. Part of Brent’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) was a “circle of friends” that would help him and meet for 20 minutes a week and do other things with him.

His desire to be treated as any other individual his age is understandable. He’s like any other young adult. He works full time and his favorite tv show is “friends” and most recently, the new series, “Commander-In-Chief.” He’s also a big fan of pro wrestling. He even has stock in wrestling and checks his investment online every afternoon.

“The one word Brent always hated hearing was the word, “different.” Brent never perceived himself as being different. And he never accepted that,” states Brent’s father, Harold Cools.

Elaine Yager, Brent’s teacher at Davis Junior High advocated toget Brent into the regular classroom. “Brent was one of my star pupils and he needed to explore opportunities he had not had in the past. We modified the goals and he made it. He was successful. The kids were accepting of him and he was accepting of those kids too. He would not be successful in his job today had it not been for him exploring his independence skills. He does his job. He would not have been able to do that if he had been pigeon-holed into a strict “Down Syndrome” program. Fortunately, I had the luxury of parents who supported me. As parents, you are your child’s number advocate. We as teachers only supplement that.”

On the subject of inclusion, Brent’s mom, Marie couldn’t agree more. “We all have something to offer each other. And that’s something that you can’t learn out of a textbook.” The teachers and other parents learn that these students are just like everyone else,” Brent’s mom says.

Research shows that inclusion is good for all involved. In a nationwide study commissioned by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) the report showed that entire classes benefit from working with a student with Down syndrome and “almost all teachers who responded found inclusion enjoyable, with some [teachers] calling it the single most interesting and rewarding experience of their careers.” (Source:

Inclusion beyond the classroom is important too. Participation in the arts can have a positive impact on cognitive, physical and social development. Involvement in activities such as band, choir or ballet also improves social development, helps foster self-esteem and helps individuals with disabilities make friends with others in the community.

Yet while inclusion is promoted at the secondary school level, college has not been an option to students with Down Syndrome until recently. Now, a number of colleges are experimenting with educational programs for individuals with disabilities, as opposed to just the traditional vocational training.

In addition to inclusion is the need for greater interpersonal relationships. “Loneliness” is typically a problem for individuals with Down Syndrome, whose siblings and peers move out of the house and eventually start their own families.

Programs such as Step Out, Step In, and Step Together, exist to help address the social and recreational needs of teenagers with a variety of physical and developmental abilities. Services such as DateAble Inc., a dating service for young adults with disabilities, exists to help people meet, date and possibly marry. And Best Buddies International Inc., provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to become friends with individuals without disabilities.

Fortunately, young people with Down Syndrome and their parents are fighting for and claiming more inclusion into mainstream society. Kate Barlett, from Arlington Massachusetts, testified before the U.S. Senate on October 20, 2005. She was a varsity swimmer and toured with the choir in high school. She is now earning her associate degree from Middlesex Community College.

Carrie Bergeron earned a teaching-assistant certificate from her local community college. She received her learner's permit to drive and is planning to wed her “prince charming” in July of 2006. Carrie’s fiancé, Sujeet, a musician who plays six different instruments, also has Down Syndrome. He calls Carrie his, “Dream Girl.”

Individuals like Brent, Kate, Carrie and Sujeet, inspire me and serve as role models for my nine month-old son who also has Down Syndrome. I am hopeful that the greater level of inclusion that is taking place will create a better culture of understanding for individuals with Down Syndrome and other types of disabilities in the future.

You see, learning to embrace our differences makes us a richer society. A rich society is more than just a wealthy society, monetarily. A rich society is one which recognizes and is enriched by the inherent value each individual possesses. Brent Cools' mom puts it succinctly, “Brent has taught us more than we could ever have imagined.”

Long-term, Brent would like to take some college courses in film, computers and cooking. Brent has advice for other young people with Down Syndrome: “Hang out with the regular kids…Go to all the events.”

When asked what he wants the world to know about him as well as others with disabilities, Brent says, “I can do anything...if I have a little help.” Perhaps Brent recognizes something the rest of us don’t. We all can do anything. And we all need a little help.

Copyright ©2005 by Anita S. Lane
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Sunday, October 09, 2005

You’ve Got this Momma Spoiled Rotten!

by Anita S. Lane

That child is spoiled rotten. We’ve all heard it said or thought it about someone’s child. Maybe even our own. I admit it. I think I’ve “spoiled” each of my children—in a good way. But what I didn’t expect is that I would be spoiled in return.

I gave birth to my first child at age thirty. I was a happily-married, confident, career-woman with loving, supportive family and great friends. I wasn’t having a child in order to create a human being to shower me with love and affection. Quite the opposite, I believe God gives us children for us to love, adore and shower with all the unconditional love and affection we can muster. So what happened?

Five years and four children into this mothering adventure I find that I’m a much different woman than I was five years ago. My children love to be held, cuddled, kissed, caressed and told “I love you.” These gestures may not have meant much to me five years ago but today, they mean the world to me.

Each morning I look forward to hearing my daughter’s sweet, soft voice say the words, “Good morning, Mommy.” I cherish the moment each time my one year-old stops what he’s doing, wobbles over to me and lays his head on my knee—his way of taking time to say, “I love you…” It makes my heart stop.

I blush each time my three year-old son looks up from his booster seat at the kitchen table and says without solicitation, “I love you, Mommy.” When I tuck my one year-old in at night he gently strokes my head as he falls asleep (did he learn that from me?). It’s so sweet and it truly warms my heart.

Yes, I’m spoiled rotten. I even have to turn my head while reprimanding my son to avoid succumbing to his demands when he flashes those big, adorable puppy-dog eyes (with long beautiful eye lashes—I might add) and begins shedding those giant crocodile tears.

I’ve become thoroughly accustomed to my daily doses of hugs, kisses and cuddles and I’d probably be a wreck without them.

One day while going about my regular daily routine, my daughter interrupts and says, “Mommy, you’re the best mommy in the whole world,” and she envelopes me in a great, big hug.

I knew when I set out to have children that I would love them with all of my heart. What I didn’t realize is that they would love me with all of theirs. Yes, my children may be spoiled (not rotten), but they’ve got their momma spoiled rotten!

Copyright ©2005 by Anita S. Lane
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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Me, God and Dirty Dishes

by Anita S. Lane

I used to despise washing dishes. Just ask my husband. I would rant and rave like a two-year-old fighting bedtime. After all, I was five when my family bought our first home with a dish washer and somehow I ended up thirty-five washing dishes by hand.

I was so enamored with the purchase of our first home that I didn’t even notice there wasn’t a dishwasher in the updated kitchen. Adding a dishwasher now would require re-working the entire kitchen—not worth it. So here I am washing the dishes. And up until recently, it had no redeeming qualities nor did I see any benefit—besides clean dishes for eating.

But with each beautiful addition to our family, my time became more scarce. Then at one point both me and my husband launched major business endeavors. Most of the day my mind was buried in the details of at least a dozen things. Once the children were sound asleep, I’d finish up my tasks for the evening and wash the dishes before retiring to bed.

Sometimes I’d find myself washing dishes at midnight or one o’clock in the morning. Yet instead of complaining the whole while I’d play my music softly and approach dish duty as much needed down-time. Of course walking along the water’s edge would be more appealing than running my fingers through the dirty dish water, but it is water nonetheless. And water does have a calming effect.

So what do I do now during dish duty? I reflect on the day’s events. I think about future plans. I dream up new ideas. I sing. I come up with cute things to write about. And of course, I wash the dishes. Doing dirty dishes has become less of a chore. Sometimes I look forward to it. For it is the one period of time during the day when I am not multi-tasking. I’m all alone—me, God and my dirty dishes. While I work on cleaning the dishes, God works on cleaning me. A sort of mental and spiritual ‘detox’ at the end of the day.

No, I don’t look forward to washing dishes every night (sometimes I’m just plain tired and want skip the cleaning for the bed). But most often my new attitude toward to dish-washing has made the task much more endurable and sometimes even enjoyable.

Copyright ©2005 by Anita S. Lane
Visit my online magazine for moms