Friday, February 13, 2015

50 Shades of Black

Dear Friends,

So many areas of our culture concern me but today's national reveal or "event" tugs at my heart and turns my stomach.  I can't help but think of the precious young women we serve and the war that is waged upon them.  Today's "event" is a major battle in that war, a battle that can be won if only God's people refuse to engage in the "event."

Today is the opening of a destructive and demeaning film for every woman of every age. It is far from God's beautiful plan for us.  It is the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey.

I am honored to feature the thoughts of Dr. Miriam Grossman,  medical doctor with training in pediatrics and in the specialty of child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry. Dr. Grossman is also the author of Unprotected and You’re Teaching My Child WHAT?  Please read each word of her work and pray for the hearts and minds of all girls and women, particularly those who choose to attend this "battle event".


There’s nothing grey about Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s all black.

Let me explain.

I help people who are broken inside. Unlike doctors who use x-rays or blood tests to determine why someone’s in pain, the wounds I’m interested in are hidden. I ask questions, and listen carefully to the answers. That’s how I discover why the person in front of me is “bleeding”.

Years of careful listening have taught me a lot. One thing I’ve learned is that young people are utterly confused about love – finding it and keeping it. They make poor choices, and end up in lots of pain.

I don’t want you to suffer like the people I see in my office, so I’m warning you about a new movie called Fifty Shades of Grey. Even if you don’t see the film, its message is seeping into our culture, and could plant some dangerous ideas in your head. Be prepared.

Fifty Shades of Grey is being released for Valentine’s Day, so you’ll think it’s a romance. Don’t fall for it. The movie is actually about a sick, dangerous relationship filled with physical and emotional abuse. It seems glamorous, because the actors are gorgeous, they have expensive cars and private planes, and Beyonce is singing. You might conclude that Christian and Ana are cool, and that even though their relationship is different, it’s acceptable.

Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by a Hollywood studio. The people there just want your money; they have no concern whatsoever about you and your dreams.

Abuse is not glamorous or cool.  It is never OK, under any circumstances.

This is what you need to know about Fifty Shades of Grey: as a child, Christian Grey was terribly neglected. He is confused about love because he never experienced the real thing. In his mind, love is tangled up with bad feelings like pain and embarrassment.  Christian has pleasure from controlling and  hurting women in bizarre ways. Anastasia is an immature girl who falls for Christian’s looks and wealth, and foolishly goes along with his desires.

In the real world, this story would end badly, with Christian in jail,  and Ana in a shelter – or morgue. Or maybe Christian would continue beating Ana, and she’d stay and suffer. Either way, their lives would most definitely not be a fairy tale. Trust me on this one.

As a doctor, I’m urging you: do NOT see Fifty Shades of Grey. Get informed, learn the facts, and explain to your friends why they shouldn’t see it either.

Here are a few of the dangerous ideas promoted by Fifty Shades of Grey:
  1. Girls want guys like Christian who order them around and get rough.
No! A psychologically healthy woman avoids pain. She wants to feel safe, respected and cared for by a man she can trust. She dreams about       wedding gowns, not handcuffs.
  1. Guys want a girl like Anastasia who is meek and insecure.
Wrong. A psychologically healthy man wants a woman who can stand up for herself.  If he is out of line, he wants her to set him straight.
  1. Anastasia exercises free choice when she consents to being hurt, so no one can judge her decision.
Flawed logic. Sure, Anastasia had free choice – and she chose poorly. A self-destructive decision is a bad decision.

4. Anastasia makes choices about Christian in a thoughtful and detached manner.

I doubt that. Christian constantly supplies Anastasia with alcohol, impairing her judgement.  Also, Anastasia becomes sexually active with Christian – her first experience ever – soon after meeting him. Neuroscience suggests their intimacy could jump start her feelings of attachment and trust, before she’s certain he deserved them.  Sex is a powerful, intense experience – particularly the first time. Finally, Christian manipulates Anastasia into signing a legal agreement prohibiting her from telling anyone that he is a long time abuser.

Alcohol, sex, manipulation – hardly the ingredients of a thoughtful, detached decision.

5.   Christian’s emotional problems are cured by Anastasia’s love.

Only in a movie. In the real world, Christian wouldn’t change to any significant degree. If Anastasia was fulfilled by helping emotionally disturbed people, she should have become a psychiatrist or social worker.

6. It’s good to experiment with sexuality.

Maybe… for adults in a long term, healthy, committed, monogomous relationship, AKA “marriage”.

 Otherwise, you’re at high risk for STDs, pregnancy, and sexual assault. It’s wise to be very careful who you allow to get close to you, physically and emotionally, because just one encounter can throw you off track and change your life forever.

Bottom line: the power of Fifty Shades of Grey lies in its ability to plant seeds of doubt. There are vast differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, but the movie blurs those differences, so you begin to wonder: what’s healthy in a relationship? What’s sick? There are so many shades of grey…I’m not sure.

Listen, it’s your safety and future we’re talking about here. There’s no room for doubt; an intimate relationship that includes violence, consensual or not, is unacceptable.

This is black and white. There are no shades of grey here. Not even one.

Miriam Grossman, MD.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why American Heritage Girls Support Life

Exactly one year ago, AHG launched its Respect Life Patch, affirming its support of all life and the importance of caring for all God’s children.  Since then, the Patch has sold quicker than any other badge or patch in AHG’s nearly twenty- year history.  The sales tell the story, AHG supports life and so does its members.

As a Christ centered ministry, AHG loves the things Christ loves.  He loved His Father who gave Him life. He loved the sick, the poor, the disabled, the deformed, the mentally ill, the demon possessed, the disfigured, the elderly, the newborn, the prostitute, the tax collector and those that followed and believed in His divinity.  He taught His disciples to do the same.  His message of love for all continues today as His followers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, toil to love His children despite their sin.

God, the Creator, gives each of us life.  According to Holy Scripture, God loved us so, that He even made us in His own image. The prophet Jeremiah affirms God’s love affair with us before our conception: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."  

Faith in Christ requires a Faith in God, the Father who gave Jesus life.  Faith in God requires respect for His sovereignty and His righteousness.   

January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court approved the ability for women to have the right to stop the work of the Creator, a work that women did not begin, according to Scripture.   Many AHG Families across the country will hold this day as a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn”.  In addition to the precious, innocent unborn lives, let us not forget to pray for the protection of those who live with chronic illness, the disabled, the elderly, and all of those who have been marginalized by society.

When AHG announced the Respect Life Patch, most applauded the initiative.  Others (most from outside the AHG family and mainly media) shared messages of disgust citing AHG’s “political” bent.  To me, standing for life is not a political issue but rather a God-issue.  All life is valuable to Him.  And if we, as a ministry, purport to love Him and follow Him, life must be valuable to us as well.   

And we need to teach our daughters this most important lesson. 

Until Next Time,

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dear Friends,
Below is the Christmas message Patti composed and shared with the AHG staff at their Christmas celebration this year.
Wise Men Still Seek Him

I have always been fascinated by the story of the Magi visiting the Newborn King Jesus.  As a child I imagined finding a star as large and as bright as the star of Bethlehem in the night sky.  I would peek out the double window of my parent’s bedroom and wonder would I be as brave as the Magi and follow a star to find the path it illuminated?  Not to claim I was a deep thinking theologian at age 5, I must admit that wonderment fell in the same category of belief that a falling star on Christmas eve was a sure sign that Santa’s entourage on his way to my house.  Jesus and Santa were pretty much what Christmas meant to me.

Now as I have aged, and I know that Santa’s work comes straight from my pocketbook, and my love for Christ has grown exponentially,  I remain fascinated with the travels of the wise men and their obedience to follow that Star. Upon study, those traveling kings have come to life beyond the words of the beloved song We Three Kings .

I’d like to share a little about the royalty who sought the Christ Child:

  • Not sure if there were only three, but the Gospel mentions three gifts and from there scholars determined the Three Kings.  Their names are not mentioned in the New Testament’s book of Matthew.  A Greek manuscript composed around 500 AD identified the travelers as Melchior – a Persian scholar and a King of Persia, Caspar – an Indian scholar and King and Balthazar- an Arabian scholar and king.

  •  All were part of the priestly caste of Zoroastrianism- a religion which paid particular attention to the sky’s stars – and this study was considered a science.  The word "magic" came from the word "Magi", and although these kings were not involved in sorcery, the term was used at that time for the occult.


  • The magi traveled over 800 miles to see the illuminated city of Bethlehem .  Before finding the Child the kings met with their peer, King Herod, to ask for the exact location of  the child who has been born king of the Jews, we have observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.  This question of course frightened Herod and worried him about his own position.  Herod quickly gathered his high priests to learn of where the king of the Jews was born- the fulfillment of prophecy.  What is known as the Massacre of the Innocents (boys 2 years and younger) ensued.

  • Historical timelines would show that the Wise Men’s question to Herod and the killing of the children that ensued does not put the beloved Magi at the Manger scenes like I have at my home,  but rather  up to two winters later.  Scripture is clear that the Magi visited the King of the Jews in a home, not a manger.

·       What is known about the manger scene is that the first to visit with the newborn King, the royal of royals, God’s own son – were the lowly shepherds in the field and..... perhaps the Little Drummer Boy :).  I love this ….that God chose the lowest of the low to see His divinity first – isn’t this so true of us….God choosing us to know His son?

·       What is also so cool to me is that the academic elite of the time from today’s non believing and often Christian hating countries of the Middle East, put their reputations on the line, left their homes and followed a star to discover the Christ Child.  

    Do you think the Magi were shocked at what they found?   A baby king not in a gilded cradle but rather wrapped in a rag, nestled in straw, lovingly cared for by a young virgin mother and his shocked, ill prepared father?

·       And the gifts, let’s not forget the gifts.  The gesture is the beginning of a long tradition of gift giving on the birthday of our Lord.  They are interesting and clearly described in the Book of Matthew:
    All were typical offerings given to a king.  But these gifts also represented a spiritual meaning:

  • Gold – symbol of kingship on Earth
  • Frankincense – a symbol of Deity
  • Myrrh – an embalming oil and a symbol of death

But let’s get back to that Star.  The Star was proclaimed in the Hebrew Scriptures and particularly the Messianic prophecies.  Learned people studied the scrolls and knew to anticipate the coming of the Star.

Today the Star of Bethlehem stands as a symbol of hope, a symbol of Deity and a symbol of obedience.  The wise men so long ago followed the Star over 800 miles on camel back to discover the Christ Child.  Today’s American Heritage Girl only needs to look at AHG's iconic logo to discover the Star’s importance to the ministry in which we serve. You know it, the form of a girl stretching her hand to the Star of Bethlehem.   

And with the fun we have had and will continue to have today, I pray that throughout the next year your heart  seeks the Babe whose birth was heralded by that amazing Star and obediently follow Him thus discovering the most amazing gift ever given to any man, the gift of God’s own Son. We, the undeserving recipient of this gift are modern day shepherds called to the manger throne of the King of Kings.

For one thing I know for certain:  

Wise Men still seek Him.

Until Next Time,

Thursday, August 28, 2014

AHG Girl Blogger is off to College - Lessons learned from AHG

From Sarah Peterson:

Dear Friends, 

This is the month that I have been dreading and looking forward to the most for the past year. In the span of three weeks I will say goodbye to my best friends as they head off to college and say hello to my new roomies and friends at the University of Northwestern. I am beyond excited but nervous as well. How did I get here today...well a lot of things, but American Heritage Girls is something that I owe a lot to.

Ten years ago mom started our AHG in our home town. Ever since the beginning I have been one of the first ones in the building before every meeting and event and the last one out after everything has been cleaned up. Has it always been fun? No. Has it been easy? No. Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

One of the words in our creed is perseverance. Ten years ago I started as an AHG member. Since then my life has not gotten any less busy. In fact, in the past two years especially, it has gotten even more hectic than I thought it would. But I stayed in AHG and I persevered. There were times that I didn't want to. My Junior and Senior years of high school I was tempted to quit AHG because I had added on being a volleyball manager, plays, basketball, choir, work and college classes. I was very busy and sometimes I really didn't feel like going to AHG meetings.

But I'm so glad I did.

In ten years God has used AHG to really shape who I am today. I want to encourage those who are thinking of starting AHG: do it. I want to challenge those that are thinking of quitting: don't. And I want to tell you why.

#1 AHG is a program that has helped me step out of my shell. I was really shy. Like, painfully shy. I hardly talked to anyone and I would NEVER start a conversation on my own. AHG forced me to talk. Literally. At meeting I would have to answer questions, read Bible verses, give badge presentations, lead songs and games and make conversation with the other girls. 
My AHG tip: If you want to get a lot out of AHG, force yourself to step out of your box. You will NEVER accomplish anything while you are comfortable.

#2 AHG is a program that gave me so many amazing opportunities. Not only did I work on badges that I normally would not have (like outdoor cooking, archery and kitchen scientist) but I also got to tour a theatre (which was where my passion for theatre probably started!), be a Junior Leader at camp (where I had to be an example for the younger girls while showing them that you can honor God, do badge work, give devotionals to the troop and honor your country while still having fun! P.S. Our group won the Spirit award that week ;) ), plan many tea parties, father/daughter dances and spa nights (which was where I learned budgeting, planning skills, how to work in a group and prioritizing), and I even got to march in parades and honor our veterans by putting flags on their graves during Memorial Day.
My AHG tip: If you want to get a lot out of AHG, grab a hold of the opportunities that God brings your way. Don't look back on them with regrets.

#3 AHG is a program that has showed me what a servant leader truly is. I was a "Leader's Daughter" from the very beginning. But that didn't mean I got any perks. In fact, it probably meant that I had to work harder. My mom and I were always the first ones in the building setting up the rooms and making sure everyone was ready and the last ones out of every meeting making sure all the girls found their parents and had a ride home. There were many, MANY late nights. It wasn't always fun. Sometimes I didn't want to do it. But you know what? I feel like I

learned initiative and how to truly be a leader. Christ didn't come to be served, but to serve. To truly be a godly leader you have to get your hands dirty. You can't just sit on the sidelines and boss others around. Christ didn't. So we should follow His example and not just sit there either. We need to get off our seat and take the first step.
My AHG tip: To get a lot out of AHG, do things first. Don't always wait to be asked to do things. Be a leader by showing others how it's done. 

#4 AHG is a program that let me use my talents. I love writing. Because of that I have written skits for Tea Parties, End of the Year Programs and other things. I have also used my learned leadership skills in a lot of ways. I have also used my love for planning things. Through AHG I have honed my gifts and developed new ones. I have learned what I like to do, what I don't like to do, what I'm good at and what I need to work on. 
My AHG tip: To get a lot out of AHG, learn what you love to do and use it. Don't hide your talents away. Take them and use them for the good of others. You will bless others and you yourself will be blessed if you do.

#5 AHG is a program that I have learned to honor God in all that I do. Setting up chairs and tables isn't glamorous. But you can honor God doing it. Washing dishes after AHG camp isn't fun. But you can show a good attitude while doing it. Having to put on a genuine smile for the girls at AHG after a really long day is hard. But you can learn to think of others first by doing it.
My AHG tip: To get a lot out of AHG, learn to honor God through all that you do and He will send you blessings in ways you never imagined.

Don't get me wrong, I was so glad I was in AHG. But I want you all to know that it isn't all fun and games. Sure, when you are younger it kind of is. But as you get older and stay in the troop longer you get more responsibility. But the thing is, looking back I see some of the best times of my life. I learned so much, I made amazing friendships, I grew closer to God and I had the time of my life!

Know that being in and getting the most out of AHG isn't easy. But really, nothing in life that matters is.  

AHG is a program that I will have my daughters in someday. I want them to experience what I did. I want them to learn to be leaders and to step out of their comfort zones. I want them to know the Creed and Oath by heart and not just know them, but practice them. I want them to have the opportunities that I have had. I want them to know that they are a daughter of the King, they are loved, they are beautiful and God can use them if they are willing. Please, put your daughters in AHG. And challenge them to stick with it. You, and your daughters, won't regret it;

even while you're taking down tables after a Tea Party :)

Dearest Sarah, know that our prayers are with you as you counter the culture one person at a time.  Praying for God's hedge of protection and amazing strength to share Him always!

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Tragedy of America's Funny Man- Robin Williams

Dear Friends,

It is always a difficult time when someone you love passes from this earth.  Depending on our relationship with the deceased, the pain we feel can be intolerable, haunting and long lasting.  Sometimes the pain is so strong that we don’t know how we can go on.  We lose our “joie de vivre” our energy, our focus, we may even be so devastated that we
wish to join our loved one because our loss is so great.

As believers, our work on earth- our meaning of life, is to share the Gospel of Jesus with all those we encounter.  This sharing takes different forms dependent on the depth of relationship we have with our acquaintances.  No matter how long we have known someone, we should just exude the essence of love- the essence of Jesus.  We should exhibit a personality that is pure, encouraging, loving and full all of the other qualities found in our longstanding AHG Creed.  We should live in a way that makes others wonder what makes you different, what brings you this inner peace and consistent joy?  As Steve Taylor of Newsboys said in one of his lyrics, “Shine, make ‘em wonder what you’ve got, make ‘em wish that they were not on the outside looking in.”
But the reality of exhibiting and living real joy can be tough.  For many, too many, it is tougher than tough.  Mental illness in all its various forms affects people from all social demographics, from all religious backgrounds and from all cultures.  Mental illness, including depression, affects Christians.  Claiming that “true” Christians do not and should not suffer from depression places additional pain and guilt on suffering believers.

I believe it is important as believers whose work on earth is to share Jesus, that we understand what depression is and what it is not.  I pray that through the recent sudden death of Robin Williams, a comedian that made all of us smile despite his pain, that perhaps we could wake up and commit to learn more about depression so that we can minister to the wounded.

Robin Williams’ death has shocked us all.  He was just a man and men die every day.  But the loss of America’s funny man, the funny man that transcended generations with his gifted comedic style, through an apparent suicide presents a disturbing reality.  That reality is: So many of us are not who we seem to be and are living our lives behind masks that cover our hurt and our pain.  This is true of more people than we think – more than just age 60+ actors with past addiction problems, but it is also true of many young women who are in our Troops , or their parents or their grandparents. 

May the knowledge that we glean from understanding the hidden killer that is depression, be a tool in the Tool Box of Love that we use to share the love and true joy that only comes from knowing Him.  Learn more, affirm the girls in your Troop, love your kids and hubby unconditionally, and keep all families who struggle with depression in your prayers.  If you are struggling with this illness, please seek help - ignoring it is not a remedy.

I pray that Robin Williams’ wife and three kids, friends and extended family members are consoled by members of the Christian community who share the love and comfort of the  Holy Spirit during their time of intense grief. 

Until Next Time,