A Prayer for Accuracy As We Fight for Protection

Speaking Out Against Gun Violence
Speaking Out Against Gun Violence (Photo credit: ct senatedems)

I’ve chosen to write about this subject not out of desire but more so to voice concern because the problem we face today with finding an answer to gun control and violence simply affects us all and can’t be ignored. Call me paranoid if you’d like, but I have a tendency to scan my surroundings these days a lot more closely than I use to because of being haunted by all of the stories of gun violence that have taken up residence around us and our families.

I actually prefer to camp out at home or make a simple trip to a friend or relative’s house on any given evening rather than spending  it at an over crowded mall or outdoor venue. I prefer it because I know the crowd, and I don’t have to be concerned that a fight or shooting is going to break out over spilled nachos or stepped on toes! The move toward stricter gun control regulations has been in the rear view mirror for quite some time.  But, what really concerns me is, “Do the people who are making and pushing for new gun control laws to be passed really know anything about how guns are purchased in the first place, not by the common law citizen, but by the criminal minded individuals who have brought us to where we are today?”

English: Arthur Renowitzky, otherwise known as...
Arthur Renowitzky, in a wheelchair because of gun violence.

One article by  Stephanie Pappas made a very good point that new gun control regulations can do little to nothing about the whopping 300 million guns that are already in circulation within the United States. Yes, this is a very scary thought, and not one to take lightly. What we certainly don’t want to see is the law-abiding citizens unable to purchase a gun while those with intent to harm can continue getting weapons by the dozens. In the study done by Dr. Eric Fleegler on dissecting whether or not gun laws really prevent deaths. He compared the number of gun deaths with the number of gun safety laws in each state. The laws were divided into five categories and each state could score from a 0 to 28 depending on the number of laws enforced. The state that scored the lowest for gun control regulations was Utah which had a zero, while Massachusetts came in at 24, which was the highest. Although more thorough research needs to be done, it is worth while to report that states within the top 25% of gun legislation had a 42% reduction in gun deaths compared with states who were at the lower 25 % and had a 70% increase in gun violence. Fleeger points out that he can’t prove that the gun laws are the cause of the lower rates of gun violence, but the findings are definitely worth further investing.

The rapper, Snoop Dog, has even joined the move for more gun control by releasing a new song called , “No Guns Allowed,” in response to the Sandy Hook school shootings. He hopes that his lyrics, if heard by someone thinking about taking a gun to school, will cause them to stop and “think about what he was doing.”  He went on to say how easy it is for a person to get their hands on a gun including himself, and “it shouldn’t be that easy.” The truth is that young people, guns and gang violence have been going on for years, but suddenly now, it’s been decided to crack down on an issue that has taken its toll and has taken the lives of far too many innocent victims.

During the recent large-scale victory of the democratic gun bills in Colorado, the  state where at least two mass shootings occurred including the Aurora movie theater shooting 8 months ago, and in 1999, Columbine High School, there were many sighs of relief.  Governor John Hickenlooper just days ago signed the bills that will take effect July 1, 2013 for universal background checks to include gun purchases between private parties and sales that occur online. A fee will also be required for these background checks. There is also now a limit on ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. One thing is clear, it’s a desperate time, and it has caused us to turn to desperate measures to prevent anymore heart wrenching tragedies like the ones that have occurred over that past 15 years. Ivan Moreno writes, “Colorado lawmakers succeeded while members of their party stumbled in other states.”

Many of these new bills are a shot in the dark to try to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands. However, at least, efforts are being made. Gun shop owners and advocates need to understand that when human lives are at stake, these types of compromises don’t kill anyone.  Guns, however, do when placed in the wrong hands.  These laws are a step in the right direction, and until we see an end to the random acts of violence that continue to spread throughout cities and communities both big and small, both rural and urban, we all must take notice, we all must take precautions, and we all must take more time to care about what is going on beyond our own backyard because as we have witnessed, no one is immune from being a victim of gun violence.  Let us arm ourselves in good sense and prayer that together, we can take back our communities and make them more safer now than ever before!

My Blooming Valentine

English: A red rose with dewdrops Français : U...

Marriage is not a ritual or an end.
It is a long, intricate,
intimate dance together
and nothing matters more
than your own sense of balance
and your choice of partner.

–  Amy Bloom –

Don’t Just Give Parental Guidance, See The Movie

There’s always a first for everything! Today it’s Familymill’s first ever movie review! My children and I love to enjoy great family films together, and I’m guessing so do you and yours! Therefore, I thought I’d share my recent experience taking my son and his four energetic friends to see the movie, Parental Guidance, for his 9th birthday celebration. It was not only a film that was packed with laughs, it was also packed with great thought provoking moments that would make a mom, dad or grandparent quickly realize why we dedicate so much of our time to our kids and grandkids and why it’s so important to keep trying even when we sometimes make mucho grande mistakes! The important thing is to never stop learning from our encounters and to never stop loving our sometimes frustrating and more often fabulous Familymill!


The movie centers around grandparents who don’t get to see their daughter nor their 3 grandchildren very often so they agree to come to town to babysit for a week while the parents take a long overdue trip away. Only, the daughter has very little faith in her parent’s ability to manage the children. Also, her modern day parenting techniques are rather difficult for her parents to abide by, especially her father. In the end, everyone learns a valuable lesson about the value of forgiveness, second chances, and giving our children room to figure out some of life’s issues on their own. I give Parental Guidance a Familymill Five Thumb Rating from my son and each of his friends!!!! Not only was it entertaining, it was clean and free from the 3 v’s: violence, vampiness and vulgar language! Most people don’t take notice of closing credits, but I happen to love the song called Home by Phillip Phillips which was played during the credits along with real pictures of the actors who starred in the film and their real families, a lovely touch!!! It’s nice to know that Hollywood, on occasion, does still know how to make movies that the whole family can enjoy with few edgy scenes and maybe even take home an extra lesson or two about the great value of family life in the process.

A great site that I often turn to in order to help me decide whether or not a movie is safe for family viewing is The Dove Foundation movie reviews. They also thought highly of Parental Guidance and gave it a 4 out of 5 dove rating. So, grab the popcorn and a comfy seat, and enjoy a good movie that’s worth the receipt!

Cece Schantz

More New Year’s Advice, Why Not?



“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” – Helen Keller

Considering thSmiles Brighten Any Daye obstacles she had to overcome, I think Helen knew what she was talking about here and probably had to force a smile on many trying days! And, I too have some rules to help overcome the pity party blues, but it’s not what you’d expect!  Stay tuned in and read the upcoming article to see what I mean!!

Braving The Arctic In 2013 & Valuing the Layers of Parental Protection

polar bars

We were finally hit with our first big snowfall, and my kids are loving it! My 3-year-old loves it most of all. He can’t wait to climb to the center of the Arctic Circle in our back yard, hop on his sled and then glide downwards like a bolt of lightning.

If you have young children who love snow, you know that the process of getting them properly dressed for the Arctic-like elements is no simple task. Yet, if they are going to enjoy their time out in the snow, it is well worth it to apply the proper protection. In our house, no one is permitted out the door unless they have at least three layers of clothing on including: socks, shirts, and pants. Also, they are required to have on a snow suit, a hat, scarf, thick gloves and boots. Once they are completely suited up, you could bounce a quarter off of one of their well-cushioned bodies, and it would travel clear across the room.

When I think about getting ready for the new year, it’s much like getting suited up to brave the cold winter elements, only the preparation work consists of getting our minds rather than keeping our bodies protected. The idea of suiting up for what’s around the corner should not be taken lightly. You and I have to do more than hope that our children will succeed and make good choices, we have to be their guide. Being a young child’s guide does not equate to being their friend!

If you’ve ever watched the first film in the Nanny McPhee series, she explains to the children that: when they don’t want her, but need her, she will remain with them. But, once they no longer need her, but want her, she will have to go! It’s similar to the job of raising and training our children for the day that they will leave the nest and live on their own. Our children often don’t want our input and guidance, and in an effort to be “cool parents,” we sometimes allow them more freedom than they can handle, leading the way for new troubles to enter the picture!

Our children need to know that being their buddy is not our role or obligation as parents. Instead, we have as our primary obligation to train them to be productive, respectful people, and also, to protect them from anyone or anything that could cause them harm. One of the very first lessons children need to be taught once they are old enough to understand is the importance of following rules and guidelines that are in place for their own good and protection. If they, for example, decide to remain out in the snow without the proper protection, they will freeze and cause damage to their skin.

The same occurs when our children are not covered by parental protection. There is usually a cost to not holding each child closely under our parental wings. In the true Arctic, the baby polar bears literally follow their mother’s every move because they know that they can not survive without her. Also, the mother polar bear, not only diligently watches over her cubs, she would not think twice about standing in front of them and protecting them from danger even if it meant sacrificing her own life to save them from predators. Our cubs too, are in need of the same type of protection even when they seem to be doing fine on their own. The ice is often thin and though out of sight, predators are never far off. They prowl around in search of stealing the innocence of our children when they are left standing alone.

As we suit our children up each day to brave the elements, know that every child will be in need of his or her own custom suit of protection. This is because we are all prone to very different weaknesses and lures. So, put your parental knowledge to work in this new year. Before you go out and brave the elements, make sure that everyone is covered with plenty of protection so that your children will be trained to find victory in the year to come in whatever battles or snow storms come their way! Happy New Year!


Leadership Counts

English: Stepping stones
English: Stepping stones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether you’re a part-time freelancer or a recently retired CEO of a multi-million dollar business, developing solid leadership skills is something we will never outgrow! Leaders come in all ages, shapes, sizes, income levels, and educational backgrounds. Just look up and you’ll find endless examples of leaders in action whether it be for the better or worse. You’ll find them at the mall Christmas shopping, teaching your kids, signing your paycheck! You’ll even find the younger ones helping the even smaller ones at meal time, but the one you’ll find most often, is the one who greets you in the mirror each morning!

We often don’t think of ourselves as “leaders”, but that is exactly what each and every one of us is being trained for every day that we live. That’s right, you are destined for a position in leadership, and if you have children, so are they! Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to start embracing the stepping stones that will lead you to becoming a leader that any person would love to follow, and as far as children go, in this day and age, you definitely want them to be following your lead and not that of the influential and often menacing crowd around them.

Taking it one stone at a time:

1. The Stone of Observation: In order to make sound decisions as a leader, you have to be willing to have those times when you make yourself available to just sit and observe how those under your leadership are functioning. Everyone has his or her own way of completing tasks. Some are successful and some are not. Your job is to help pin point where the system is breaking down before you can offer assistance in the repair process.

2. The Stone of Respect: We all know the saying: “You’ll catch more flies with honey.” Well, this phrase also applies to leaders who will gain far more cooperation from other teammates when they demonstrate respect rather than judgmental accusations towards others. A proper leader respects every man’s worth.

3. The Stone of Encouragement: It’s rather easy to hit a person when they are down by making them feel even worse for mistakes that they have made, but under quality leadership care, encouragement is a top priority. You will find encouragement in leaders who have the gifted ability to pin point the strengths that others possess and draw them out. When you take notice of a person’s strengths, what you are doing, is releasing them from their weaknesses, and giving them new hope for what they can accomplish down the road.

4. The Stone of Commitment: A committed leader is one who is also fearless. This type of leader is not afraid to take the next step, nor is he afraid to swallow his pride and try something that he has never done before. Most of all, a committed leader does not only have concern for seeing a task to completion, he is also just as concerned about the process and taking extra effort to make sure that those under him have all the necessary resources to do the job right. This type of leader is also not afraid to roll up his or her own sleeves and take on a task that goes beyond his or her comfort zone. In other words, he or she is not afraid to take a humble walk in another man’s shoes.

5. The Stone of Reward: Recognition is key if you want your team to continue to work hard. All work and no play is not the way we were created to live. When an exceptional job is done, take time to reward the work with kind words. Benefits and incentives also go a long way in showing others that you recognize their efforts.

These stepping stones have to do with balance. Being an effective leader is, not at all, an easy job because of the large amount of accountability involved. Why is it that individuals can be great leaders in one part of their lives, and fail at another? I believe it has to do with how we were “leadership trained” during our childhood years and beyond on the things that were valued most in both our early learning and in the limitations of what we were taught to value most. Because of this, we need to constantly go back and reevaluate ourselves and the image that we are projecting. Not one person’s leadership resume will look exactly the same as another’s. We are all proficient at different things. However, the virtues of humility, morality and servitude are universal to all good leaders.

When a leader pauses and allows another to take center stage because she knows this team member has a better understanding of a particular issue, that is humility at work. When a leader is required to step in to cover a teammates workload because the team member had to take an unexpected leave from work due to his child being sick that leader is exercising his moral standards on the importance of family. Finally, when a leader uses his one day off to regularly head service projects such as working at a local shelter, this is a leader who knows how to demonstrate what a servant heart looks like in action. If you haven’t already, begin this Christmas season by allowing such virtues of true living leadership shine! It will surely make a resounding statement to those amongst your team that the stones you are leaving behind are worth standing upon as they are left to wonder to what higher ground will each one lead!


A Time To Give Thanks

An all too forgotten past time are the words: “Thank You”. They are words that lead us to expressions of gratitude that may have never existed if it weren’t for someone showing us the true kindness of the human spirit which is something to be greatly treasured, celebrated, and emulated. I myself have learned to be quite an avid participant of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Although it would be much less stressing to keep the majority of my thanks reserved for the fourth Thursday of November each year, I’ve decided to try a different approach and extend my Thanksgiving to last the whole year through which means being consistently gracious each day even on days when every table has been turned, and I still can’t find a single ray of light to shine on my pitiful disposition. One thing I’ve learned about extending a grateful heart Is that it leaves less room for self-centeredness, and that would be a great trend to start.

This past week I’ve been helping my children complete their Thanksgiving assignments for school and making donations through their school to the children suffering in New York from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I’m glad whenever my children have the opportunity to assist in a worthwhile cause because verbal expressions of thanks at Thanksgiving are great, but when you add an act of kindness to extend your thanks it becomes priceless! The reason is because you are no longer just the beneficiary of kindness, but you are now a catalyst for continuing the line of paying it forward.  A mere thank you will usually do when you are the recipient of a kind gesture, but when you take a kind gesture to heart, there is usually a desire to do something more in order to give your gratitude a home, a place where it can be felt and further benefited from.

Since there is no such thing as a gratitude warehouse and since the needs of today have a better chance of being resolved when immediate action is taken, there simply is no time like today to look around and give your gratitude a face, as well as arms, legs and feet. The road toward betterment starts with one and ends with many lives being transformed.

Click here for American Red Cross Relief Fund for Hurricane Sandy Victims

Before I close, during this time of giving thanks, I would like to thank just a few of the many people who have given me so much for which I am thankful for. First in line is my husband, who’s the hardest working man I know. My children, who never cease to amaze me, have allowed me to grow in ways that they will never know.  I am thankful too for my wonderful mom, family, and loving friends, who often take the place of family. And, thanks to my enemies too because their dissension has given me even greater determination to reach heights that they will never know.  I also have to thank my mailman. It’s a beautiful thing to receive my packages on time and have them properly delivered too. My final thanks however, well, that one goes to you! For being here, I thank you for giving me an audience to share in all of my ramblings and also to mutually delight in yours too! I give my many thanks to all of you which means; it’s your turn now to craft just how you will take this special thanks and regift it to someone near and dear to you! Have a Happy Thanks-For-Giving Day!


Psalm For The Meaning Of Life

Let me find grace in the real world, release in
the world of my imagination, and joy in both.

Help me to notice the lessons in Your world~
the turtle to remind me to slow down;
the peach and the lilac to remind me
of what in life is sweet;
the charred piece of driftwood to remind me
that I, too, have been through the fire;
the tall yarrow alongside the road bending in
the wind to remind me that I may be bent,
but not broken;
the newborn child to remind me that wonder
and trust are the hope of the future.

Let me have a hope that bears out.

~Phyllis K. Collier

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